Archive for the ‘Thought’ Category

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The Western Standard finally shows it’s true colours. [UPDATED] [UPDATED AGAIN]

July 7, 2008

Never say that once or twice they don’t speak the “truth” on the Shotgun.

In this case it is “Adam Yoshida” the “brave young conservative” that was elevated to editor “volunteer contributor”* on the Shotgun late last year. Today though, he finally showed his true colours after hinting at it for the longest time:

Note here that I’m not absolutely opposed to dictatorship, certainly not in the Roman fashion, where it is necessary. I’m a life-long fan of, for example, Augusto Pinochet.

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 6-Jul-08 11:28:51 PM

Ah yes, Pinochet, what a great leader, we all should wish we could be governed by somebody like him:

Almost immediately after the military’s seizure of power, the junta banned all the leftist parties that had constituted Allende’s UP coalition. All other parties were placed in “indefinite recess,” and were later banned outright. The dictatorship’s violence was directed not only against dissidents, but also against their families and other civilians.

The Rettig Report concluded that 2,279 persons who disappeared during the military government were killed for political reasons, and approximately 30,000 tortured according to the later Valech Report, while several thousand were exiled. The latter were chased all over the world in the frame of Operation Condor, a cooperation plan between the various intelligence agencies of South American countries, assisted by a US communication base in Panama. Pinochet believed these operations were necessary in order to “save the country from communism”.

Some political scientists have ascribed the relative bloodiness of the coup to the stability of the existing democratic system[citation needed], which required extreme action to overturn. Some of the most famous cases of human rights violation occurred during the early period: in October 1973, at least 70 people were killed by the Caravan of Death, to which Manuel Contreras, later head of the
DINA intelligence service, participated. Charles Horman, a US journalist, “disappeared”, as did Víctor Olea Alegría, a member of the Socialist Party, and many others, in 1973.

Furthermore, many other important officials of Allende’s government were tracked down by the DINA in the frame of Operation Condor. Thus, General Carlos Prats, Pinochet’s predecessor and army commander under Allende, who had resigned rather than support the moves against Allende’s government, was assassinated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1974. A year later, the murder of 119 opponents abroad was disguised as an internal conflict, the DINA setting up a propaganda campaign to accredit this thesis (Operation Colombo).

Other victims of Condor included, among hundreds of less famous persons, Juan José Torres, the former President of Bolivia, assassinated in Buenos Aires on 2 June, 1976; Carmelo Soria, a UN diplomat working for the CEPAL, assassinated in July 1976; Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean ambassador to the United States and minister in Allende’s cabinet, assassinated after his release from internment and exile in Washington, D.C. by a car bomb on September 21, 1976. This led to strained relations with the US and to the extradition of Michael Townley, a US citizen who worked for the DINA and had organized Letelier’s assassination. Other targeted victims, who escaped assassination, included Christian-Democrat Bernardo Leighton, who escaped an assassination attempt in Rome in 1975 by the Italian terrorist Stefano delle Chiaie; Carlos Altamirano, the leader of the Chilean Socialist Party, targeted for murder in 1975 by Pinochet, along with Volodia Teitelboim, member of the Communist Party; Pascal Allende, the nephew of Salvador Allende and president of the MIR, who escaped an assassination attempt in Costa Rica in March 1976; US Congressman Edward Koch, who became aware in 2001 of relations between death threats and his denunciation of Operation Condor, etc. Furthermore, according to current investigations, Eduardo Frei Montalva, the Christian Democrat President of Chile from 1964 to 1970, may have been poisoned in 1982 by toxin produced by DINA biochemist Eugenio Berrios.

Protests continued, however, during the 1980s, leading to several scandals. In March 1985, the savage murder of three Communist Party members led to the resignation of César Mendoza, head of the Carabineros and member of the junta since its formation. During a 1986 protest against Pinochet, 18 years-old student Carmen Gloria Quintana was burnt alive.

In August 1989, Marcelo Barrios Andres, a 21 years-old member of the FPMR (the armed wing of the PCC, created in 1983, which had attempted to assassinate Pinochet on September 7, 1986), was assassinated by a group of militaries who were supposed to arrest him on orders of Valparaíso’s public prosecutor. However, they simply executed him; this case was included in the Rettig Report.

Further scandals emerged after the return to democracy, such as the allegations that an ex-Nazi, Paul Schäfer, who had set up in Pinochet’s Chile an enclave, Colonia Dignidad, had worked with the DINA.

But but but Snowrunner…. at least he saved the economy! Well…. Not quite:

By mid 1975, Pinochet set forth an economic policy of free-market reform. He declared that he wanted “to make Chile not a nation of proletarians, but a nation of proprietors.”[19] To formulate his economic policy, Pinochet relied on the so-called Chicago Boys, who were economists trained at the University of Chicago and heavily influenced by the monetarist ideas of Milton Friedman, Arnold Harberger, and Friedrich Hayek.

Pinochet launched an era of deregulation of business and privatization. To accomplish these objectives, his government abolished the minimum wage, removed artificially lowered food prices, rescinded trade union rights, privatized the pension system, and reprivatized state-owned industries, and banks, and lowered taxes on income and profits. However, the large copper industry, nationalized by Allende, remained under control of the government owned enterprise Codelco. Parts of its benefits were assigned by a specific law to the Chilean Armed Forces’ budget.

Supporters of these policies (most notably the late Nobel laureate from the University of Chicago School of Economics, Milton Friedman himself), have dubbed them “The Miracle of Chile,” due to the country’s sustained economic growth since the late 1980s.

Pinochet’s neoliberal economic policies’ benefits have been sharply contested. In 1973, unemployment was only 4.3%. Following ten years of junta rule in 1983, unemployment skyrocketed to 22%, while real wages declined by more than 40%. In 1970, 20% of Chile’s population lived in poverty, but by 1990, the last year of Pinochet’s dictatorship, poverty had doubled to 40%.

Between 1982 and 1983, the GDP dropped 19%. In 1970, the daily diet of the poorest 40 percent of the population contained 2,019 calories. By 1980 this had fallen to 1,751, and by 1990 it was down to 1,629. Furthermore, the percentage of Chileans without adequate housing increased from 27 to 40 percent between 1972 and 1988, despite the government’s boast that the new economy would solve homelessness. Meanwhile, inequality of wealth increased. In 1970, the richest one-fifth of the population controlled 45% of the wealth compared to 7.6% for the poorest one-fifth. In 1989, the richest one-fifth controlled 55% of the wealth while the poorest one-fifth controlled only 4.4%.

Does that sound somewhat familiar?

The real “clincher” I find in this though is the reaction to Adam’s remarks by one of the Editors:

Don’t get confused, Snowrunner: The Shotgun is a group blog featuring writers who fit in the conservative and libertarian pigeonholes. Broadly. The purpose of the blog is partly to disseminate news that is relevant to conservatives and libertarians, and partly to serve as your one-stop shop for debates between libertarians and conservatives, as well as debates between one variant of libertarianism and another, as well as one variant of conservatism against another.

Now I know that usually what you get with blogs is a bunch of people who share a set of beliefs. This is not the case with the Shotgun. Each of our bloggers have their own position.

So please don’t confuse any of the bloggers here as speaking for the Western Standard. They speak for themselves.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 7-Jul-08 12:50:02 PM

So by P.M. Jaworski’s opinion calling for Dictatorships, human rights abuses etc. the Shotgun is merely promoting conservative and libertarian “ideas”. I clearly am getting my definition of what conservatism and libertarianism out of a different play book than the editorial staff at the Western Standard, more specifically the Shotgun.

What I find even more fascinating is that the logic seems to be: “Hey, it’s a blog, and yes, we do only allow a handful of people to really post here as part of the editorial staff, but that doesn’t mean we share their opinion”. So my question to the Western Standard then is: Why even HAVE any kind of limit on who can post? Why not make it a free for all (e.g. make it an open forum).

P.M. didn’t take long to answer to that one either:

Thanks for the constructive criticism, Snowrunner. We think a blog is a better way of fulfilling our mission than a forum.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 7-Jul-08 12:59:51 PM

And I wonder what that mission may be. I don’t think it is conservatism or libertarianism. Maybe NeoCon is coming close though.

EDIT: Originally I had written that Adam was an editor with the Shotgun, as Kalim Kassam (the owner of the Western Standard since Ezra Levant sold it) pointed out in the comments that Adam is a “volunteer” (I would call it a Freelancer). I have corrected this above, but it does not change my point that the Shotgun / Western Standard is promoting someone whose ideas about society seem to run counter to the declared mission / vision of the Western Standard:

Purpose: The Western Standard (WS) is the trusted online news and opinion source for libertarian and conservative readers written from a libertarian / conservative perspective. However, the content is relevant and valuable to general interest Canadian news consumers.

Note that this mission statement was written on April 14th 2008, well after Adam began his “volunteer” work at the Shotgun.

According to a follow up email by Kalim:

[I] should be happy to hear that your comments have sparked quite a lot of discussion amongst the WS staff.

If this will result in a publication more true to their own mission statement or in a new mission statement decisively more tilted towards Neocons remains to be seen.

EDIT2: Matthew Johnston is the owner of the Western Standard, not Kalim.

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Welcome to empty symbolism

March 27, 2008

Earth Day is almost upon us, which means… Well I guess that we all remember the fact that we hurl through the vast expanses of space on a tiny dirt ball with really very little atmosphere and water.

This year, in order to really show the planet that we are serious about saving it (and let’s be honest, it is about saving US mostly), people are supposed to turn off their lights for one hour.

Let me be the first to say: Wow. How retarded.

Let’s be clear about this. We have wasted vast amounts of energy and resources ever since we entered the age of Industrialization. We have mined the earth for it’s riches, found new ways to use stuff that nobody really knew what to do with to do new things. The cheap oil has allowed us to reach prosperity never before known in the history of mankind (or the planet as a whole for that matter). Us, that is, mainly in the West. We had the foresight and the human capital to make use of these things. The Oil Age has brought us the Green Revolution, it allows us to have an abundance of food to eat what we want, whenever we want. It has given us the ability to go around the world in a matter of hours via the Airplane and in the last 100 years the average life expectancy in the Western World has risen from 30 years to over 80 years of age. All of this based on our ability to turn stuff into useful stuff that 100 years ago nobody would have really looked at.

But now there is a realization growing that the Good Times™ are about to be over, that we may have reached a peak in one way or the other. Not to mention the new darling of the media: Global Climate Change. Now, I am not saying that these things aren’t real. We will pass the Peak at one point or the other, we are not living on a place of endless resources, we may be instrumental in changing the climate of the planet. All that CO2 has to go somewhere, even if it is may be life.

My problem is this stupid idea that turning your lights off for one hour is going to safe the planet or make a change. Let me be blunt:

IT WON’T

Yes, it may make you feel better to “do something”, but the planet won’t notice, your electricity company won’t notice. It is, simply put, a stupid idea. If you want to make a change then change the way you live, change how you live your life and try to inspire others. To turn you lights off for sixty minutes won’t leave a lasting impression on anybody.

Personally, come April 22nd. I will not only turn on all my lights but blast the stereo, open the windows and turn up the heat. Why? Because this is a stupid idea. If you want to change the future, leave your spawn a nice place to live, then make permanent changes, get the Governments, companies and your neighbours to make these changes too. Understand what goes into all the stuff you buy daily, where it comes from, what happens to it when you use it, then try to make changes. But don’t do something useless just to feel good about yourself. Grow up.

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The problem with Tasers

November 15, 2007

The death of Robert Dziekanski should be another reminder that a Taser isn’t “harmless”. People like to think of it as a “Non-Lethal Weapon”, which in and on itself is an Oxymoron.

Regardless on what one might think of the appropriateness of the RCMPs behaviour (and putting aside some clear lies by the RCMP directly after the incident), the now published video makes it clear that a taser is still a deadly weapon. How anybody could have ever doubted this is a bit beyond me, no sane person would think that pushing a few thousand volts of electricity through a human body does not have the ability to maim or kill.

There has to be a change in the way police departments (and security companies) see the use of a taser. It is not a harmless tool to “quickly subdue” people. It is a weapon and as such it should only be used if there is no other option. A taser should be treated like a handgun, work it under the assumption that if you have to use it, the other party may not get up.

Until this is understood by everybody we will most likely see more unnecessary deaths.

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Bye bye “conservatives”

October 6, 2007

Oh, what sad news I just found, it seems “The Western Standard” is no more.

I remember when I bought a copy back in 2004, my so far one and only one. I bought it just after I had moved to Edmonton and decided to figure out what this “Western Canada” thing is all about, and what would fit better than “Western Standard”? I ended up buying a copy and starting to read it while having lunch / coffee at Ikea (hey, their food is good and I was still stuck in a Hotel).

Anyway, I remember almost laughing out loud about some of the articles. I wasn’t quite sure if this was a satire magazine or not, though when I ended up reading their website and blog it became pretty clear that this magazine was Canada’s version of the Fox News Channel.

So now the publication is coming to an end, it seems the average Canadian just isn’t in touch with the “conservative” values that the Western Standard is trying to push. In usual theatrical tones that are common to “conservatives” this is not really a defeat, oh no, it’s not like Canada rejected them, they won the “moral” victory:

We were unable to generate a financial rate of return, but we had an enormous moral rate of return. From our very first edition, back in March of 2004, we had a disproportionately large impact on the national discussion.

Sure sure, well Western Standard, so long, nice knowing ya, maybe you can call up Rupert Murdoch and see if he’s interested in publishing you.

On a side note: It is sort of funny how the defeat is trying to be twisted, a lot of the “ardent supporters” are yacking on (especially on the blog) how “market forces” will decide and that’s all you need, now that the market has spoken though they claim to have been betrayed. Sorry, still laughing over the news.

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Mark Steyn is an idiot

April 20, 2007

Just watch the Video.

What isn’t really too surprising either is that the Western Standard has kept surprisingly quiet over the whole thing. I guess Ezra is just hoping that nobody makes the connection to his little agenda driven magazine.

EDIT: As an added Bonus he is singing the same line again that was thrown around right after the shootings: “If only the students would have been armed”. The story he (and some other people) are re-telling is a school shooting where three students heard the shots, went back to their car, got their guns, regrouped and went after the gun man.

ALL the accounts of the shooting I have read seem to indicate that he had a very specific target in mind, not just going around shooting people like the guy on Monday.

But hey, never ever let facts get in the way if you can twist it so that it makes your point sound more valid.

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On the VT Tech shootings

April 18, 2007

I held of two days to comment on the whole insanity that happened at Virginia Tech.

First of all it isn’t really too surprise, the US, as a society, seems to fall apart, there are myriad of examples on how this is happening every day.

But as expected, the bodies not even cold yet, the pro and con gun control lobbies where in full swing, only to be upstaged by some right wing commentators who “blamed the victims” for 33 dead.

It obviously is a tragedy for 33 families who have to buried the ones they cared deeply about, the Internet, in return, has fallen into the usual condolences overload that seems to grip the nation by storm…. Why people feel the need to cry for people they don’t know, I don’t understand. But I do understand that this is not a good sign.

There is some sanity from Greg Palast, but of course the fight over the gun control issue is raging…..

So here’s my take on it:

Gun control will not save the United States. I know there is the thought by some people on the left if the guns wouldn’t be there, all these deaths wouldn’t happen, and chances are they are right, it is hard to kill 32 people with a knife, a sword, a crossbow or a bow & arrow. It is hard to do that with a long rifle too.

But the reality is there are too many firearms already in circulation in the United States. An estimated 200 million firearms are in private hands in the US, and that only includes the legal ones, this doesn’t count the illegal guns that are being sold and shipped to other states.

Even if Congress would enact a law tomorrow that would outlaw all handguns they would still be around.

The idea behind the second amendment was laudable, the need for it was clear back in the day. But 200 years have passed, gun technology has advanced, and a rifle won’t guarantee your safety against the government anymore, they have more guns, tanks, airplanes……

One of the arguments that is constantly given is the fact that if all the students would have been armed they could have taken down the guy and saved lives. But the reality is that most people would probably have dropped to the ground and hid, gun or not. If they would have chosen to actually fire their guns, chances are they would have also hid other “good guys”. If you’re high on adrenaline and in fear of your life you shoot at anything that you consider a threat….. But “gun nuts” don’t see it that way. They want more guns out there, do away with “Gun Free” zones and arm everybody to their teeth.

I am doubtful that more guns would have changed a thing. I have travelled in several countries and had contact with a lot of law officers, but never outside the US did I see cops go for their guns right from the start. One cop, in Washington D. C. told me that essentially they always expect anybody to be armed and pulling a gun. If a the cops are scared of the populace, no wonder everybody else is scared too.

The answer for the US won’t be easy, the fact that they are grieving for 33 people is tragic, but at the same time it seems 150 people died in Baghdad the same day, it didn’t even get close the amount of airtime as the shootings did….

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On the VT Tech shootings

April 18, 2007

I held of two days to comment on the whole insanity that happened at Virginia Tech.

First of all it isn’t really too surprise, the US, as a society, seems to fall apart, there are myriad of examples on how this is happening every day.

But as expected, the bodies not even cold yet, the pro and con gun control lobbies where in full swing, only to be upstaged by some right wing commentators who “blamed the victims” for 33 dead.

It obviously is a tragedy for 33 families who have to buried the ones they cared deeply about, the Internet, in return, has fallen into the usual condolences overload that seems to grip the nation by storm…. Why people feel the need to cry for people they don’t know, I don’t understand. But I do understand that this is not a good sign.

There is some sanity from Greg Palast, but of course the fight over the gun control issue is raging…..

So here’s my take on it:

Gun control will not save the United States. I know there is the thought by some people on the left if the guns wouldn’t be there, all these deaths wouldn’t happen, and chances are they are right, it is hard to kill 32 people with a knife, a sword, a crossbow or a bow & arrow. It is hard to do that with a long rifle too.

But the reality is there are too many firearms already in circulation in the United States. An estimated 200 million firearms are in private hands in the US, and that only includes the legal ones, this doesn’t count the illegal guns that are being sold and shipped to other states.

Even if Congress would enact a law tomorrow that would outlaw all handguns they would still be around.

The idea behind the second amendment was laudable, the need for it was clear back in the day. But 200 years have passed, gun technology has advanced, and a rifle won’t guarantee your safety against the government anymore, they have more guns, tanks, airplanes……

One of the arguments that is constantly given is the fact that if all the students would have been armed they could have taken down the guy and saved lives. But the reality is that most people would probably have dropped to the ground and hid, gun or not. If they would have chosen to actually fire their guns, chances are they would have also hid other “good guys”. If you’re high on adrenaline and in fear of your life you shoot at anything that you consider a threat….. But “gun nuts” don’t see it that way. They want more guns out there, do away with “Gun Free” zones and arm everybody to their teeth.

I am doubtful that more guns would have changed a thing. I have travelled in several countries and had contact with a lot of law officers, but never outside the US did I see cops go for their guns right from the start. One cop, in Washington D. C. told me that essentially they always expect anybody to be armed and pulling a gun. If a the cops are scared of the populace, no wonder everybody else is scared too.

The answer for the US won’t be easy, the fact that they are grieving for 33 people is tragic, but at the same time it seems 150 people died in Baghdad the same day, it didn’t even get close the amount of airtime as the shootings did….