Sunday, March 25, 2007

Cherniak Jumps the Shark

Jason Cherniak is now, officially, a walking, talking joke. He is the personification of everything that is still wrong with the Liberal Party. That such an unethical, unscrupulous, Machiavellian apparachik is so closely connected to Stephane Dion and the Liberal caucus, tells you than nothing has changed since the sponsorship scandal except where they sit in the Commons.

Would you hire a lawyer who would so wantonly and easily say anything and make any accusation, no matter how unfounded? I know I wouldn't.

Can I belong to a Blog Roll that has Cherniak as a member? I'm beginning to wonder. How "progressive" is this kind of blog roll now?

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Psychols Speaks... listen.

One of the most insightful posts I have ever read.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007


When I was kid, antisemitism meant something.

It was a deadly serious charge, reserved only for those that demonstrably and provably hated Jews and promoted such hatred though words and deeds. People like Jim Keegstra, Ernst Zundel and Wolfgang Droege. Groups like the Klan, the Heritage Front and the Church of the Creator.

Accusing someone of such a serious charge was not something taken lightly as it often resulted in social marginalization, and could destroy a person's life. It was therefore not done without serious considerations and only with plenty of evidence. A charge of antisemitism was a powerful weapon and a label reserved only for those that truly were dangerous and deserved it.

But something happened. At some point in the mid-80's it became fashionable to label opponents of Israeli policy as antisemitic. Questioning Israeli treatment of Palestinians became antisemitic. Questioning the expense of US financial and military support for Israel became antisemitic. This was done for political reasons, because it was realized that such a powerful accusation would immediately stop debate, as no one but true antisemites would want such a label. So these stances were not about human rights or fiscal prudence anymore (even though that is exactly what most of them were), they were about hating Jews and being lumped in with neo-Nazis and skinheads.

And this tactic was successful. No one in the US, let alone in government questions whether the billions sent to Israel is money well spent, or whether kidnapping, bulldozing of houses and extra-judicial killings are things that democracies and free societies engage in. To do so makes you a Nazi. Proper, rational and sensible debate was, and still is, stifled and forbidden.

This new political weapon has been used with more frequency and with candor, as recent events in the blogsphere show. A new, McCathyist political correctness has sprung up such that even single sentences, taken out of context and which run counter to thousands of other statements are enough to condemn someone as an antisemite. An accusation of antisemitism is now used to smear political opponents, to gain political advantage for oneself and one's political party and to remove from the debate people or arguments one dislikes.

And that practice is nearly as dangerous as antisemitism itself. When the charge of antisemitism is used so cavalierly and against people who are not antisemitic, the true power and meaning become watered down and lose their meaning. If everyone is antisemetic then who really is? When it becomes so easy to be antisemitic, then the phrase has lost all meaning. And when it loses meaning because of this, it will loose its much vaunted power and it will be ignored. That means that true antisemites will go unnoticed and their views, rather than being properly marginalized, will be associated with the smeared moderates, not the other way around. It will give the antisemite's views power and legitimacy and attract people. Antisemitism will be so misused that it will not matter any longer and perhaps even become acceptable and 'cachet'-politically-incorrect, a point of pride.

That will be the worst tragedy of all because it will empower those that anyone who truly cares about antisemitism are trying to fight, the real antisemites.

Of course, by merely stating this, I will likely be labeled as antisemitic myself.

Never mind 8 years in good standing as a member of the Bloor JCC during the 90's.

Never mind years of fighting the neo-Nazi and far-right resurgence while at Carleton and in while living in Toronto.

Never mind a clear record of standing up for human rights - all human rights - in this very blog and elsewhere.

No, I'll be called an antisemite because of this post.

I'll be called an antisemite because I think that Israel's misadventure in Lebanon last summer was wrong, despite sharing that view with a sizable number of Israeli citizens.

I'll be called an antisemite because I think that if Iran can't have the bomb, then neither should Israel (who has about 400, apparently).

I'll be called an antisemite because I think "the wall" is a gross violation of human rights and international law and is nothing more than a land grab, despite the fact that, again, many Israelis agree, as well as most of the world and the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

Frankly, if I am an antisemite for any of these things, its already too late. If that is the case, we have already disarmed ourselves and the true antisemites have won.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

We're from the Government, We're here to help...

...or not.

So, at a time when innovation should be encouraged as we try to reduce dependence on oil and gas and reduce green house gas emissions, we instead see a government going out of the way to punish people who try to do just that.

A 79-year-old man, David Wetzel, of Decatur Illinios tries save some money and help the environment by converting his 1986 VW Golf to run on vegetable oil and partly on diesel - bio-diesel in other words. He makes arrangements with a local business to take their waste oil off of their hands. He had a mutually beneficial arrangement that not only did not harm anyone, but was doing the right thing on the environmental front.

Of course the Illinois Department of Revenue had other plans.

"Wetzel uses recycled vegetable oil, which he picks up weekly from an organization that uses it for frying food at its dining facility.

"They told me I am required to have a license and am obligated to pay a motor fuel tax," David Wetzel recalled. "Mr. May also told me the tax would be retroactive.""

So egregious was his "crime" that the Department of Revenue sent 2 agents to his home to inform him and his wife of their malfeasance.

"Since the initial visit by the agents on Jan. 4, the Wetzels have been involved in a struggle with the Illinois Department of Revenue. The couple, who live on a fixed budget, have been asked to post a $2,500 bond and threatened with felony charges." [emphasis mine]

Now, I'm pretty sure a 1986 VW Golf isn't worth close $2500 itself, even in Illinois. And running a car on vegetable oil is hardly in the same league as murder, rape and child molestation.

But I suppose Exxon Mobile can't make money if everyone does that. And Archer Daniels Midlands (ADM) can't monopolize the bio-fuels market without government help, now can they?

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Problem with Drug Laws

It all seemed so cut and dried a week ago, didn't it? A shootout during a drug raid, resulting in the death on one police officer and the wounding of another. But at least they got the perps:

"Police have confirmed that a man and a woman have been arrested. CTV's Genevieve Beauchemin said a suspect -- reportedly the woman -- was shot."[emphasis mine]

The "suspects" were arrested, one of them also wounded. They have since been charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, firing a gun with intent to wound and endangerment.

Justice has been served for Det.-Sgt. Daniel Tessier and his family, right?

Think again.

It turns out, the shooter was not a drug dealer, or a mule, or a cooker. He was family man, a father and it now appears he was protecting his family from what he perceived was a home invasion robbery.

Basile Parasiris, his wife and two children awoke in a panic as police used a battering ram to break into their Brossard home and then started firing their guns inside during Friday's pre-dawn raid, his lawyer said yesterday.

Lawyer Frank Pappas said his client was trying to defend himself and his family when he grabbed a loaded gun and shot Laval Constable Daniel Tessier - whom Parasiris mistook for a crazed thief.

"If he would've believed it was the police, do you think he would have taken them on?" Pappas said in an interview. "They have more firepower than him."[emphasis mine]

M. Parasiris did this with a legally registered firearm, which the police, presumably, should have known about. He admits to illegally keeping it loaded, but that is all.

Parasiris' wife was also wounded in the raid which, incidentally, netted nothing - no drugs, no guns - save two pills of of viagra he didn't have a prescription for. Neither he nor his wife have a criminal record.

So now we have tragedy pilled upon tragedy. A police officer dead and a father's life ruined by what appears to be a mistake or negligence. Of course, this is not the first time these kinds of problems have occurred, especially in connection with so-called "no knock" drug raids. It is nothing new to Canada either. During the 80's, the OPP TRU team shot and killed a farmer near Windsor Ontario who saw armed men on his property and came out to defend his family. It was later discovered that the team was supposed to be at the farm next door, to deal with a suicidal man and had shot an innocent man.

The problem of course is not simply or merely bad police intelligence or drug dealers living in residential areas using innocent neighbours as "human shields" (the 'Hezzbollah Gambit'). The problem is with our drug laws. The problem is that we have drug laws. The prohibition on drugs has created the violence - gangs and organized crime move in to take over and feed the demand and can resort to violence because other, non-violent avenues of conflict resolution have been closed off. This was the great lesson of Prohibition. Why would we expect a prohibition on drugs - any drugs - to work any better?

Det-Sgt. Tessier and the rest of the squad could have been working on solving murders, sexual assaults, frauds or recovering stolen property (something the police rarely do these days). He would not have been in such a dangerous situation. M. Parasiris would be getting up to go to work today. And there would be as much violence in the drug trade as there is in the alcohol trade today - none.

All of this Kafkaesque tragedy could have been, and can be in the future, avoided.

It not like many police officers themselves don't think the same thing. For a very good and biting commentary, check out this here, here and finally here. LEAP has a video to make you think as well.

How many more tragedies on all sides do we need to suffer through before we realize that the prohibition of drugs creates more problems and violence thant the drugs themselves?

In the meanwhile, lets hope M. Parasiris is exonerated in this horrible mistake and returned to his family. And lets hope Det-Sgt. Tessier family get some answers as to what went wrong.

(h/t to Jay Jardine)


Jay give us more context. Its looking more and more like an innocent man defending his family in after the police made a terrible mistake.

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