Anonymity is the scourge of the social media.

Tired of the constant and clearly biased censorship being practiced by Twitter, many conservatives are beginning to make the move to a new platform called Parler.

Parler is very similar to Twitter in its operation and means of interaction. There are different terms for different actions but it is much the same thing as Twitter. It is a form of short form discussion and sharing of stories and events.

Parler stands apart in its dedication to support free speech as much as possible. No more shadowbanning or outright banning of accounts that may stray from the accepted dogma of the platform. That alone makes Parler an attractive option for tired conservative minded mentators.

The thing that makes me most optimistic about Parler though is that they have created measures to deal with the anonymity issue.

Nothing makes a keyboard coward tougher than the security blanket of anonymity. Twitter has bee known as a cesspool of negative dialog and most of that is driven by the nearly endless stream of belligerent, anonymous accounts.

It is striking how quickly anonymous internet tough guys turn into sniveling kittens when they suddenly have to post under their own name.

Canada had a great example as Neil Waytowich rampaged throughout twitter. He tirelessly trolled accounts and spewed endless profanity laced attacks against public figures online while he hid behind his anonymous identity of “Neil Before Zod”. He prided himself on being blocked by other twitter users and he poisoned countless discussions through his toxic interjections.

Waytowich finally annoyed folks enough that they began to search out who he was. A publication called Blacklock’s Reporter figured out who Neil was and outed him. .

The change in behavior from Neil was immediate. Upon having been exposed, he was suddenly meek and apologetic. In media interviews he was seen to be something of a pathetic figure. He was nothing without his cloak of anonymity and has been nothing since.

Unfortunately, there are still millions of anonymous accounts out there and while Waytowich was a prolific one, his outing did little to improve discourse on Twitter as a whole.

Twitter has a verification system but they only apply it to accounts which they consider to be in the “public interest”. How exactly that is defined is muddled and only one in thousands of Twitter accounts managed to acquire that precious blue checkmark of verification.

I have proven quite effectively that one can still be an abrasive asshole without hiding behind anonymity. That said, with my account being verified I have to stand behind my words.

Parler offers account verification for everybody. It involves sending them a picture of your ID along with a selfie. I am not sure if it is working for Canadian ID yet but I have sent mine in.

One can still keep their name private on Parler while being verified. Many folks need to due to employment constraints. It still will strongly discourage folks from posting threatening or illegal things as they know that in extreme cases, they will be tracked down. It also keeps users from spawning a whole pile of accounts. While they may create many accounts, only one will ever be verifiable.

It makes a huge difference when people have even a little skin in the game.

I used to play online poker. When playing in the free tournaments, the play was unbearable. Other players didn’t care about the game and they simply went all in with every hand. When paying only one dollar to enter a tournament however, the play changed incredibly. With simply registering a form of payment and in spending a buck, people suddenly took the game more seriously.

The same stands for internet discourse. When one has invested the time and trouble to verify a personal account, they will take it more seriously than a burner account that they created on a whim. Bots can’t effectively verify either.

Will this make internet discussion totally civil or deep? Of course not but it will make it far better.

I do hope to see left leaning people starting to drift into these new platforms as well. If debates are reasonably civil, they can be productive. This is nearly impossible with Twitter right now which has bee a mire of white noise.

I do hope that this migration of users to a new platform either takes off and replaces the old social media giants or at least encourages them to reform.

Social media can be a valuable munication tool but it will only get worse until we find a way to wash out the anonymous users who are intent on ruining discourse.

Parler has made a great step. Click on the picture at the top of this post to join and follow me there. Lets make this thing work.

Mainstream media lies are inflaming racial tensions

We are used to sensationalism and bias from media. This is nothing new and they push the boundaries in order to draw the clicks.

This gross example from NPR is beyond the pale though. They have gone into the realm of utter bullshit as they implied that right-wing extremists are using vehicles in order to assault protesters. While this did indeed happen once in Charlottesville, this was not at all what happened in this incident.

Below is the repugnant and inflammatory tweet from NPR

NPR is spreading fear and hate by creating a false story of vehicles being used as weapons against peaceful protesters.

It is actually surprising just how stupid their editors are to let this one go in light of the fact that the full video of the incident that they pictured is available online and it proves their story to be utter crap.

Watch the scene unfold for yourself below. A woman in a vehicle was surrounded by rioters. As they tried smashing her windows in order to assault her, she tried to escape in reverse. She then fled and yes, hit one of the criminals on her way out. It clearly wasn’t purposeful. She was fleeing in self-defense and I don’t see how anybody else would have acted differently.

Those of us old enough to remember the fate of Reginald Denny know full well what can happen when a motorist stops amidst rioters. He was pulled from his truck and beaten nearly to death. We have seen contemporary videos of just this sort of thing happening to other innocent motorists who found themselves to be in the wrong place at the wrong time as well.

We have yet to see videos of anybody purposely plowing through protesters with intent to harm yet this is just what this sickening story from NPR is claiming.

Tensions are high and people are getting hurt. To see a mainstream media source such as NPR who try to claim a moral high ground as a “public” broadcaster sinking into crap like this is sad.

There are some solid and fundamental factors which have led to the racial unrest happening in the United States.

One unacceptable factor though is the fanning of the flames by media outlets such as NPR.

The violent rioters were rightly arrested following that incident by the way. NPR apparently missed this detail.

Nenshi thinks Albertans are too stupid to handle a referendum.

The merits of holding a referendum on equalization are debatable and there are valid points to be made on both sides of the issue. Nenshi’s enraged opposition to the possibility of a referendum is based on pure, vulgar elitism. Naheed Nenshi thinks that Albertans are incapable of handling multiple questions at once at the ballot box. He claims that coupling a referendum with the municipal ballots next year would be “disrespectful to voters”. What is disrespectful is Nenshi’s attitude towards the great unwashed voters.

Nenshi’s dream of spending billions of tax dollars on two week party as a personal vanity/legacy project was dashed solidly when taxpayers were given a choice to vote on an Olympic bid. Naheed was “very very” disappointed in those curs who dared to slap down his pet project. In light of that, it is not surprising that Nenshi doesn’t want to empower citizens further by giving them more choices to directly vote upon.

Mixed direct/legislative democracy is not an untested concept. Switzerland has long used this style of governance. In being one of the richest and peaceful nations on earth while being small and landlocked, I would say that the Swiss are on to something. In giving voters a direct say in policy for generations, their unwashed masses have guided the country into being one of the most successful nations on earth. The humble ground level voters not only could handle multiple ballot questions, they appear to have consistently chosen wisely.

The Swiss go to the polls on referendum questions several times per year and vote on dozens of initiatives. Some are as serious as their overwhelming choice to refuse to join the EU (really pissed off the elitists with that one), to voting on whether farmers who choose to de-horn their livestock should qualify for agricultural subsidies. The ballot lists smaller local initiatives right along with larger federal ones and those darned voters somehow manage to handle these choices.

The Swiss have been allowing their citizens to vote directly on policy since 1848 so I think it is fair to say that their system has withstood the test of time.

Direct democracy helps keep voters engaged and increases turnouts. A Swiss electoral study had found that over 90 percent of voters had cast their ballots at least once in the previous 20 votes. Numbers that we Canadians can barely dream of. Those turnouts rise and fall depending on the issue of the day but clearly the electorate is very engaged. Great to see isn’t it? Unless you don’t actually like giving the majority a direct say in matters of governing of course.

Are the Swiss all immeasurably smarter than Albertans? Hey, they are clearly pretty bright but I am not sure by how many measures they may be better equipped than Albertans are in handling direct democracy.

Nenshi feels that Albertans are too dumb to walk and chew gum at the same time. He thinks that having more than one or two questions on a ballot would confuse the masses.

Nenshi’s biggest fear of course is simply in losing control. That is the hallmark of an ivory tower elitist. Perhaps a better engaged electorate may finally toss him out on his ass so he can enjoy retirement with his two tax funded pension plans.

I trust Albertans to be able to handle making choices on a referendum ballot at the same time as picking their municipal representatives. It is sad but unsurprising that Nenshi thinks so little of the voters who pay his salary.

It’s time to put our medical “experts” on a time out.

As it bees more and more evident that COVID-19 has not and will not bee a virulent out of control plague, our munity of medical “experts” are digging in and pushing for more controls on us. The mainstream media happily indulges these doomsaying bureaucrats as they continue with their ongoing panic-porn campaign.

Just a little over two months ago “experts” hysterically told us that we could see nearly a million infections in Alberta alone with deaths in the tens of thousands as our medical facilities were overwhelmed. These projections were found to be utter bullshit within days but that didn’t stop the state from continuing to act on the remendations of these “experts” with an ongoing, economy-crushing lockdown.

So where are we today?

In Alberta: 7400 cases in total. 36 in hospital, 7 in ICU and 151 dead.

While this oute for 151 people and their families was indeed as tragic as it gets, when we are talking out of a population of 4.4 million people it has to be admitted that this isn’t that bad. While it’s not kind to say, it can’t be ignored that the vast majority of that 151 people had the grim reaper hanging about in their doorways already. They were predominantly elderly and with pre-existing conditions. This has not developed into a plague worth shutting our economy down for and that is a good thing.

How are our doomsaying medical “experts” responding to the somewhat underwhelming reality of COVID-19?

They are moving the goalposts yet again of course.

Remember three months ago when we were told that we simply needed two weeks in lockdown to “flatten the curve” in order to avoid overwhelming the medical system? It is months later, our economy is in tatters and the medical system was not even close to capacity. This was due to “experts” moving the goalposts week after week.

Now when backed into a corner, Dr. Theresa Tam has now set the bar at a zero infection goal. She is fearmongering over the risk of even a single new case now and the media is gleefully reporting on it. This is a disgrace.

Meanwhile, a group of “experts” in Alberta is demanding that the government make the wearing of masks mandatory essentially everywhere. This should do wonders for the few remaining restaurants and gyms which are struggling and trying to survive the government mandated shutdown.

Alberta’s top “expert” is considering this. Hopefully Premier Kenney ignores her.

So why is it that these medical “experts” are so loathe to admit that the pandemic is fading and that we can start getting on with our lives.

I am afraid that the spotlight has gotten to them. They are enjoying their moment in the sun and don’t want it to end.

Chief Medical Officers are senior bureaucrats in important roles but who usually languish in an un-celebrated background. Could anybody honestly have named these people before the whole COVID-19 thing? These folks were the science geeks who dined alone in the corner of the legislative cafeteria. Suddenly they have been catapulted into the spotlight and through the mainstream media they have been canonized and turned into virtual superheros.

An exaggeration?

Well, folks have actually been making T-Shirts with Dr. Deena Hinshaw on them and rest assured the halo behind her head was no mistake. They are trying to paint her as a living saint. I don’t doubt she is a nice person but e on now.

Alberta isn’t alone. PEI got on board with their Dr. Heather Morrison. As can be seen, she is painted as a superhero.

Morrison dealt with 27 cases in total with a death count of zero!

Superhero indeed.

Our economy is on the breaking point while “experts” continue to demand that he crush it further. These “experts” have bee disconnected from the reality of what the protracted lockdown is doing to people and businesses. It is time to set them aside for awhile and let things open back up. These “experts” have proven to be wrong with their projections over and over and over again even if they were indeed well meaning. Maybe our political leaders will act with better clarity when these “expert” voices are not whispering into their ears for a little while.

Insurrection ignored. Media silence on “autonomous zone” is deafening

It really takes a lot to surprise me this year. The world has been turned upside down and the depths of human malice and idiocy have been starkly exposed to the point where my expectations of people have hit a lifetime low.

I was not surprised to see violent rioters taking over a large portion of Seattle. The West coast has always been a hub of leftist extremists and they have been trying to recreate the feces and drug filled encampments that they enjoyed with “Occupy” for years now. Gathering in tent cities ostensibly for the sake of the homeless hasn’t cut it for them and the Black Lives Matter riots gave them a new chance to entrench themselves on the property of others.

I was not surprised to see cowardly authorities backing away in light of this rebellion of reprobates.

The abject terror which Mayors & local politicians share when it es to extremist protesters cripples them with fear and indecision every time. They retreat in callow terror as 0.1% or so of the city’s population has decided to violently take over nine square blocks of urban neighborhood.

The rights of citizens and business owners within this “autonomous zone” have been pletely abandoned. These innocent victims are now living at the whim of these insurrectionists. The selective protection of rights by chicken shit politicians is again, not at all surprising.

I am hardly surprised to see these cellar dwelling activists finding their naivety shattered as reality sets in. These same fools invited the homeless to join them during their “occupy” efforts too. The homeless then happily ate their food, shot up in their tents and often assaulted fellow “occupiers”. Most of the homeless tend to have addictions and mental health problems. They are not harmless and are not simply victims of society. These radicals seem determined to re-learn this lesson every time. Not surprised that these idiots are getting hungry either. Mom won’t bring them home cooked meals to the autonomous zone.

I am not at all surprised to see that bandits have risen to the top as anarchy wins the day. Multiple reports have been ing out of Soundcloud rapper Raz Simone who has declared himself as the acting, armed warlord of the autonomous zone. He and his gang have apparently taken it upon themselves to manage the policing in the “autonomous zone” and have been assaulting people. Bandits will always rise to the top when anarchy reigns.

I will now get to the one this out of all of this which has surprised me.

The incredible silence from the mainstream media on this whole thing.

Twitter is flooded with video, pictures and statements from citizens reporting on what is happening in Seattle. Blogs and alternative media publications are reporting on this armed insurrection en masse. Fox News has had some small coverage on this and the odd newspaper has nodded at this unfolding event but for the most part, the major media players are avoiding this for all they are worth.

Why?

In a year packed with stories of the century, this is another story of the century. This is a literal armed insurrection which has taken over a part of the United States of America. They have declared themselves as an autonomous nation within a nation. They are making their own laws and are apparently even “taxing” (extorting) from local business owners. This should be headline news around the bloody world.

Does the mainstream media fear that in reporting on this, they would be encouraging further actions in different cities? I assure you that the opposite is the case. As long as these people get away with this, extremists around the world will only feel emboldened. Rest assured, other crazed activists are trying right now to find a way to carve out their own little “autonomous zone” in their own cities.

Ignoring these extremists won’t make them go away. That tactic was tried with “occupy”. It took months but eventually every city had to physically go in and remove the criminal squatters. These people truly don’t have anything better to do. This “Capitol Hill autonomous zone” will not be negotiated away. Their demands are absurd and will never be met. These people will have to be removed by force. The only question now is when.

We are seeing a dystopian novel literally unfolding before our eyes. While terrifying, it is also fascinating. Reporters and journalists must be chomping at the bit to get out there to directly cover this unique and unfolding story. They should be almost stacked on top of each other to get a breaking piece or scoop on this.

Instead, we have the media version of crickets.

This is indeed surprising, disappointing and distressing.

If the mainstream media can’t bring themselves to fully cover this, what else are they holding back on?

This is why I and others are not saddened as we see mainstream media institutions crumbling as alternative media sources increasingly are eating their lunches. I do feel for the people being laid off, but as long as their employers continue with an agenda contrary to public interest, the public will continue to lose interest in them.

Seattle Black Lives Matter demands are so unreasonable they are surreal

With weeks of protests and riots, we are entering the phase of discussing what needs to change.

It is clear that the status quo isn’t good enough and the discontent of millions has been pretty strongly demonstrated.

Now that Black Lives Matters has gotten the ear of the world, they have allowed extremists to take over the messaging and are at risk of losing anything that may have been gained with recent actions.

The list of demands made by the Seattle BLM branch demonstrates just how disconnected from reality these activists are. In threatening continued riots if they don’t get this insane list of demands met, this is a form of violent extortion. These demands are ridiculous and impossible to meet and this won’t end well.

The issues are serious but its time for authorities to tell BLM to e back to the table when they are ready to act like grown ups. This list of demands is more akin to something from a child having a temper tantrum than from reasonable adults.

There is an element of people who simply like rioting for the sake of rioting and I suspect that these are the people who have stepped up to the plate with these demands. Nobody in their right mind would think that these are reasonable or that they could be acmodated in any short amount of time.

I will list a shortened version below.

The full demand set can be found here.

The Seattle Police Department and attached court system are beyond reform. We do not request reform, we demand abolition.

Yes indeed. They want immediate and full abolition of the police force and nothing less.

Not gonna happen kids

In the transitionary period between now and the dismantlement of the Seattle Police Department, we demand that the use of armed force be banned entirely. No guns, no batons, no riot shields, no chemical weapons,

In the imaginary world where the police force is disbanded, they demand that no other forms of law enforcement be allowed.

I am sure that the rape and robbery victims impacted by this will be thrilled.

We demand an end to the school-to-prison pipeline and the abolition of youth jails

I guess that 16 year old murderers are to be kept in daycare centers

We demand a retrial of all People in Color currently serving a prison sentence for violent crime, by a jury of their peers in their munity.

That shouldn’t take long. New trials for thousands and all with juries of people of the same race. Not a bit unreasonable indeed.

We demand the abolition of imprisonment, generally speaking

You just can’t make this stuff up folks

We demand in replacement of the current criminal justice system the creation of restorative/transformative accountability programs as a replacement for imprisonment.

Time outs? Perhaps a little time standing in the corner? Maybe if serial killers had to do some munity service they would stop their evil ways

We demand that the Seattle Police Department, between now and the time of its abolition in the near future, empty its “lost and found” and return property owned by denizens of the city.

Ahh. Many of the rioters were actually simply concerned about the pair of mittens that they left on a city bus

We demand that the funding previously used for Seattle Police be redirected into: A) Socialized Health and Medicine for the City of Seattle. B) Free public housing, because housing is a right, not a privilege. C) Public education, to decrease the average class size in city schools and increase teacher salary. D) Naturalization services for immigrants to the United States living here undocumented. (We demand they be called “undocumented” because no person is illegal.) E) General munity development. Parks, etc.

I suspect that these folks are overestimating just how much money the police system gets by about a hundedfold

We demand the de-gentrification of Seattle, starting with rent control

Another way of saying: “We want our slums back!”

We demand the restoration of city funding for arts and culture to re-establish the once-rich local cultural identity of Seattle

Nothing ends race riots more effectively than a pretty, public art project

We demand free college for the people of the state of Washington

Money for nothin and your school for free

We demand the hospitals and care facilities of Seattle employ black doctors and nurses specifically to help care for black patients.

Racially segregated health care. Martin Luther King would be so proud of this advancement.

We demand the people of Seattle seek out and proudly support Black-owned businesses.

This should be easy to track and measure

There are a number of other broad and unrealistic demands.

If this is where the bar is set, don’t expect the riots to end any time soon.

If we want to de-fund police forces, we first have to reduce our need for them.

Whether we like it or not, police services are essential. Every civilized society has police and the disorder which would e about without them would be swift and violent. There will always be an element of people who are inclined to violence or theft and not all citizens are capable of protecting themselves from those people. It is being apparent that most police forces are in need of some reform. The enraged call to “de-fund” or even abolish police forces is shortsighted and foolish to say the least.

Policing is by its very nature a rough, dangerous, thankless job. A simple traffic stop can turn into a shooting while responding to domestic disputes can lead to being berated and spit upon by the very people they have arrived to protect. The job stress is unimaginable and it has built an insular police culture where they can often lean towards protecting their own rather than correcting improper actions from fellow officers. Police culture needs to change but this will be a work which will take time and effort. Reducing funding is not the way to reduce the pressures on an already overwrought force.

While the killing of George Floyd in and of itself was horrifying, it was the agonizingly slow response by authorities to the killing which truly poured the gasoline on the fire. Disciplining was dragged out step by step. First the officer was put on paid leave. Then he was fired. Then he was charged. Then the charges were upgraded. It took days and unfortunately riots before all that happened. The path to charging Officer Chauvin was like pulling teeth despite the video making it rather clear as day that his actions were pletely out of bounds and led to a man’s death. How though would de-funding a department make a department any more likely to suspend or charge officers when they are already short of resources?

What do activists think will happen if police forces truly get de-funded or disbanded? Usually these activists e from the far left and hold an envious loathing for the affluent. How will they feel when gated munities spring up like daisies which are protected by the very police officers who were just laid off? Do they think that people of means are simply going to leave themselves wide open to being victimized by criminals? This will also truly ghettoize the parts of town which can’t afford their own private law enforcement so let’s get real on how unrealistic the calls for de-funding police forces really are.

Activists are claiming that the presence of police officers in and of themselves are offensive to them. Well, I am afraid that they are not going away but we can examine some more reasonable approaches into how to reduce the need for police.

Drug addiction is truly an epidemic and it contributes to crime on all levels. Gang wars are started over drug distribution turf while desperate addicts will steal anything that isn’t nailed down in order to get another fix. We can chase the dealers until the end of time but they won’t go away until we address the demand. As long as there are addicts seeking drugs, there will be dealers there to provide them. Addicts can rarely beat their addictions on their own. They need treatment centers which are expensive and usually full. Increasing funding for mental health and addictions treatment is one of the best ways to reduce crime. This funding does not need to be nor should it be at the expense of current policing though. It isn’t an either/or situation and in the meantime, citizens need police protection from the criminalized drug industry. Reduce the addiction epidemic first, then we can reduce police.

How many laws can we take off the books? Do we still need to have police chasing prostitutes around? Do forms of gambling still need to be illegal? Should it still be a crime to walk down the street and enjoy a beer while you are at it? Do we need to keep chasing down unregulated pot growers? This leads to a long discussion but it only makes sense that if we reduce the laws, we can reduce the need for law enforcement.

We need to reform our catch and release justice system as well. How maddening and frustrating must it be for a police officer to arrest the same individual over and over and over again? This trend contributes to the poor attitudes and issues within police forces. Everybody likes to feel like they are doing a worthwhile job but it must feel pretty pointless when you can’t keep criminals behind bars for more than a few days before they are out and victimizing people again.

Criminal reform is always the ideal goal. It has to be accepted though that some people are simply irredeemable How often do we hear of people being arrested with dozens of prior convictions? It is well established that the vast majority of crimes are mitted by a small minority of criminals. Once we have identified those chronic offenders, we need to incarcerate them for long terms. How expensive and dangerous is it to let them out dozens of times only to have them rob people and be arrested again dozens of times? How much court time? How much holding cell time? Face reality and warehouse these criminals long term. We can then focus on rehabilitating those who are still capable of reform and we actually will not need as much policing on the ground. That is the goal no?

Another way to reduce the need is to empower and encourage citizens further to protect themselves. We have the right to defend our property and person but the state strongly frowns on it. Citizens such as Eddie Maurice are victimized for defending their families from chronic criminals. Those charged with defending themselves are almost always released once a jury hears of the circumstances. Fellow citizens understand the right of self-defense even if the system loathes it. Quit hammering on people who want to protect themselves. Train and encourage self-defense How many rural home invasion robberies happen in Texas? Next to none. Want to guess why? If the goal is truly to reduce the need for police officers, then allowing citizens to deal with protection on their own only makes sense.

The next and most plicated step in reducing crime is taking on the unmitigated, socioeconomic catastrophe of our aboriginal population under the Indian Act and in the reserve system. This is an issue which makes every politician’s butthole clench up in terror but it dearly needs to be addressed.

Natives are grossly over-represented in the prison system. Activists use this statistic to claim that this is due to a racist police and justice system. To be blunt, that is simply a load of crap. Canada has bent over backwards to try and reduce the numbers of natives in our prison system. From healing lodges, to sentencing circles to having judges literally instructed to take into account the “indianess” of the defendant upon sentencing as was done in the Christopher Goodstoney case, the state is trying its very hardest to avoid incarcerating natives. This has failed dismally because it refuses to address the simple and real issue. Natives are disproportionately represented in prison because they disproportionately are mitting the crimes.

If we want to deal with the number of natives in prison, we have to try to find a way to prevent natives from mitting the crimes in the first place. Once they are before a judge, it is too late. The problem is indeed systemic but it isn’t in justice. It is in Canada’s apartheid system of reserves.

How on earth can we expect a culture to be well adapted to the modern world when we keep them dependent and segregated in the ghettos that we call reserves? Natives are raised with one foot in traditional culture and one foot in contemporary culture and the hybrid that it has created is a disastrous and dysfunctional one. It is not a matter of race itself. A person of any race would be socially challenged to say the least if raise within the mess of our reserve system. Poverty, isolation and domestic abuse are overwhelming for people on reserves and it is only getting worse year by year. Even when people escape reserves and move into urban environments, they are often ill prepared to function in society and are susceptible to addiction and crime.

It is a long and painful path but the only way to deal with indigenous crime rates will be to work towards ending the irreparably broken reserve system and abolishing the racist Indian Act. I don’t see the political will to take on a challenge this big any time soon unfortunately though. I am not sure how much worse things will have to get before reality looms for the powers that be but we can rest assured that pouring more resources into a fatally flawed system will be ineffective.

Policing will never go away. It is essential in an orderly and safe society. While policing has issues, demonizing police or vapidly calling for the de-funding or disbanding of police forces fixes nothing and makes nobody safer. Hopefully once the enraged demonstrations calm down, we can start having a realistic discussion on how we can reduce our need for policing. In the meantime, let’s not work with kneejerk reactions as Minneapolis did.

Nenshi kicks off his re-election campaign with a tax increase

While Calgarians struggled with making ends meet during a pandemic lockdown which followed a protracted economic downturn, they were greeted by yet another massive tax increase from the city of Calgary in the mail this week.

To add insult to injury, Mayor Naheed Nenshi spent even more tax dollars to include a personal letter from him explaining how the tax hike really isn’t that bad. He even adds some bullshit in claiming that the city had found $750 million in savings. That is utter pap of course. The city has continued to greatly increase spending thus has to keep raising taxes. The math is way too clear on this one for folks to fall for Nenshi’s number juggling. I wonder if Facebook and Twitter will start marking the Mayor’s claims as being fake news soon?

Getting lectured by Canada’s highest paid mayor who enjoys not one but two tax-funded pensions has to be infuriating to Calgarians who are dipping into their meager retirement savings just to make the rent or mortgage payment this month. Unlike the vast majority of Calgarians, Nenshi hasn’t lost a nickle of pensation during this crisis. He is shielded from the impact of it and it has left him blind to the economic hardships that citizens are enduring.

Nenshi feels that Calgarians want and need to pay more taxes. They just need it explained to them by him. You can hear his condescending voice in your mind and envision him looking at the ceiling with his eyes closed while you read the garbage he wrote in the enclosed letter.

Election time is just over a year away now. Nenshi is finally only the ropes and he knows it.

With limits on contributions, Nenshi has had to get more creative in getting his campaign message out. Regular candidates have to spend tens of thousands on mailouts to citizens. Nenshi simply hits the taxpayers for it. I am sure we can look forward to a few more of these self-serving messages from the Mayor over the next year as he spends your money in hopes of retaining his platinum plated job for another four years.

Nenshi and council plan to mit the city to a “Green Line” to nowhere with a price tag which will land in the billions.

You can rest assured that there will be another huge tax increase in the mail this time next year. The letter acpanying it from the Mayor should be just as galling as the bill itself.

A Canadian perspective on American racial division

For a good period of years, I spent more time working in various parts of the United States than I did within Canada. On average I would spend perhaps 40 days in one area and my locations ranged from the Texas/Mexico border to upstate New York. It was a blue collar role so I wasn’t sequestered in high end urban hotels. It gave me time to observe and learn and it gave me a unique perspective on some issues. I don’t have a lot of answers to what is a huge and entrenched problem within the United States. That nation is a powder keg of racial tension and periodic race riots prove that out.

I am a typical Canadian. I have had it good. My family was middle class and I am not part of a visible minority. I have over the course of my life seen racism in Canada but not on the level or degree of what I observed when I began working south of the border.

I love the United States and the American people. I wouldn’t have spent years working down there if this wasn’t the case. They are our closest neighbors and if we are to be pared to any other nation, we are without question more like Americans than any other nation. I did not see a hotbed of screaming, tiki-torch waving white supremacists while I was down there. Those extremists exist but they are in a tiny minority. It was the unspoken and less immediately apparent racial divisions that distressed me the most.

On my first job in Texas I really got to see the division first hand. I arrived in a South Texas town of perhaps 12,000 people and went to a gas station to fill up before seeking my motel. It was when I was standing in line to pay for my fuel when I realized that I was the only white person at the station. Gas stations are social hangouts down there where folks have a beer and play instant lottery tickets. From the people in line, to the folks behind the counter to the folks hanging out in the parking lot, they were all black. Nobody hassled me or anything like that though I did garner some sidelong glances.

My first assumption was that this town I was in was a predominantly black munity. I was wrong. I was just in the black part of town.

I learned over the next few days that the town was essentially divided into four parts. There was the black part, the Mexican part, the white part and the downtown which was the one zone aside from Wal Mart where everybody was prone to mixing. The residential areas, convenience stores, restaurants, gas stations etc. were all divided by invisible lines which folks instinctively tended not to cross. The non-white parts of town were invariably the ones most evidently in the low ine bracket.

The casual racism really floored me. I remember meeting with a local oil pany operator out there to discuss where some of their pipelines were and he offered me some friendly advice on local eateries. He remended a barbeque place but made sure to add “Its a nigger place, but its still the best barbeque in town.”. It wasn’t simply the word which staggered me though admittedly in my world I don’t hear it used often. It was the way he simply put it. He wasn’t trying to offend me or get a reaction. He wasn’t spitting it out in hate. It was a simple word in his lexicon which he didn’t think twice about using in what he felt was a friendly conversation with a visitor to town. He didn’t think it odd in any way and likely didn’t even realize he used it. This was a well educated, middle-class man. Not a backwater redneck as some would assume.

The other thing which was striking was how divided things were by race, even in smaller munities. In Canada we certainly have some parts of cities which are divided predominantly by ethnic munities but this tends to only be in major cities and the division and tension is not nearly as bad. munities under a few hundred thousand don’t have it yet in many American munities of only a few thousand, the division is real and evident.

Much of the attitude is more of a “We don’t have a problem with them as long as they stick to their own end of town.” and that attitude springs from folks of all races. It is an consequence of the divisions.

This issue is far from just being a Southern one.

I spent months in Williamsport Pennsylvania. It is a city of less than 30,000 in Northern PA which is best known for holding the little league world series of baseball.

If you travel Northwest of the city center, you enter a district loaded with some of the most impressive mansions I have ever seen in my life. In going just a few short blocks South of that district of mansions, you enter a part of town which looks like something from a dystopian movie. The houses and buildings are in wretched condition while broken down cars choke the streets. I drove down one alley where I thought I saw poplar fluff blowing up behind my truck. On stopping and having it look, it turned out to be countless, used little ziplock bags. The crack and meth use is an outright epidemic and again, it was all just blocks from a district full of millionaires. That was the black district. The line is invisible but it is real.

Mansion in Williamsport
Apartments in Williamsport

On that job in Williamsport, we had to rent rooms and houses in order to put up our crews. The shale oil boom was in full tilt and motel rooms were impossible to find. I had a young black fellow who came by the house I was residing in on a few occasions who was seeking a job. Folks in the neighborhood knew the home was being rented as a field office.

I needed a laborer for bush clearing and I hired him. It seemed perfect since we wouldn’t have to pay for housing and he seemed like a good ambitious young man who could do a good job.

The first problem I encountered was from my own crews. These guys were predominantly from the Corning, New York area and they made it quite clear that they were not impressed with the “speck of pepper in the salt shaker” as they put it. I was infuriated and laid down the law. It was made clear that any of them who had a problem with the hire were wele to go back to New York. It again was an example of the division that existed while I didn’t even realize it until I tried to mix races on the crew.

Well, wouldn’t you know it but the guy I hired turned out to be rather lazy and talked a better game than he played. That had nothing to do with race. I just made a bad judgement. Either way, this fellow quit mid-day on me after a couple weeks on the job. He called and asked to be picked up from the field. I was rather pissed off and told him to finish out the day at least. He refused to work and I refused to e and get him. I told him I would be out at 5 to get him when the rest of the crews were done.

Later that afternoon I got a phone call from a Sheriff’s department saying they had picked up a fellow loitering who had claimed to work for me. My former employee had decided to walk out to a rural road to sit around and wait to be picked up. Somebody local had spotted him sitting there and had called the cops. Not only did the cops e out, they detained him until it could be confirmed that he wasn’t up to anything bad.

It is not an imagined or exaggerated thing folks. It is utterly foreign to us Canadians, but black people down there put up with shit that we can’t even imagine. A black person can’t even sit on a country road without arousing suspicion and the police response was to treat him as being guilty until proven innocent. His crime was only in being lazy. The police wouldn’t let him out of their car until I arrived. They didn’t want further calls if he was sitting unattended until I got there.

Had that been a white crew member, people would have stopped to ask if he was OK or needed a ride. Since it was a black fellow, the cops were called.

I have plenty more observances and anecdotes but I think I have rambled enough to make my point here.

Slavery is gone and the Jim Crow laws are a part of history. The racial division is as bad as ever though and it is more of a matter of societal and cultural attitude than it is legislative. Unfortunately, entrenched attitudes are far more difficult to change than law are.

The vast majority of Americans are not frothing racists. Most of the racism which is occurring is unconscious and being practiced by people who don’t even know they are doing it.

Now try to put yourselves into the shoes of a marginalized American black person growing up in one of those segregated munities. Imagine constantly being passed up for promotions due to your race after being passed on for many jobs in the first place. Imagine being pulled over for “random” checks because you are driving a late model vehicle. Imagine people crossing the road rather than passing you on a sidewalk. Imagine not being able to simply sit on a country road without the police being called.

I don’t know what any of that feels like but I can understand how it would foster the rage and frustration which has fed the rioting in Minneapolis this week, St. Louis the other year or Los Angeles decades ago.

How impotent it must feel to watch a video and to see a man murdered by police while the authorities initially react by putting the murderous cops on paid leave.

It took days of rioting before Derek Chauvin was finally arrested. Would he have ever been charged had their not been riots? Would he have been charged faster if the many he killed was not white? Its hard to answer those questions but it helps rationalize the rioting.

I know that there are some Antifa extremists and other assorted groups with their own causes taking part in the Minneapolis riots. Let’s not pretend that the majority of the riots are being conducted by disenfranchised and enraged black people though.

I don’t have the answers here. I really wish I did.

I just want to share some insights into part what is feeding all this division, violence and hate. I think that a lot of Americans who are living within the issue actually can’t see it and a lot of Canadians have never actually spent enough time in the right areas to see it. We are all horrified and confused.

As I said at the start of this ramble though, the United States is one big powder keg. We are going to see a lot more unrest and violence over the ing years due to their racial divisions. I just hope I could lend a little experience to help others understand why it is so.

A perfect political storm may be approaching. Will the independence movement be ready for it?

One of the biggest challenges facing independence movements in the West over the decades has been that they are always reactive rather than proactive.

An event or events occur which infuriates Westerners. People scramble and cobble together independence groups and parties. The rage over the aforementioned events cools. The groups and parties descend into internal squabbling and fall apart as their numbers dry up.

The above cycles of events have happened a number of times in Alberta’s history. Last fall we saw the first part of this cycle begin as fury over the re-election of Trudeau lit a fire across the prairies. This time things may be different though. The independence movement may avoid the cycle of self-destruction this time for a number of reasons.

To begin with, independence minded people have tools for munication and organization like never before. When I led the Alberta Independence Party in 2001, we gained thousands of members in a hurry. Unfortunately we were barely organized and with only perhaps 20 percent of members having email in those days, reaching out to them was expensive and difficult. We either had to spend a great deal of effort and money on a mailout or were at the whim of an often hostile media for messaging. It made keeping members engaged and unified nearly impossible. Now with something as simple as Facebook, Wexit literally gathered and municates with hundreds of thousands of independence minded Westerners at no cost. It is a profound organizational tool.

Another pitfall with independence movements has been splintering as disparate groups split support and fight among each other. With a likely merger on the way between Wexit and the Freedom Conservative Party into a new entity, we are seeing a cooperative approach that past independence groups didn’t have. With the massive member base of Wexit bined with the established and registered party foundation of the FCP, we will likely soon see the most powerful registered independence party in Alberta’s history.

When I took the Alberta Independence Party into the 2001 election, we were up against the powerhouse of the Ralph Klein government. We made some decent inroads all things considered but it was damn tough running against such a popular Alberta icon. Jason Kenney is proving himself to be no Ralph Klein. While most governments gain support in times of crisis, the UCP is stumbling along with dropping support numbers. His conservative base is being increasingly unfortable as the PC old boys club appears to have re-established itself and they are seeking a new option. Should the Wildrose Independence Party indeed e into being, they will be immediately presented with an opportunity to harvest disaffected conservatives to their movement.

Independence movements heat and cool with time. The difference this time is that the movement has only just started to cool down and an event may be approaching which could take the independence movement from being a rainstorm to a hurricane. Trudeau may very well call a snap election this fall.

Trudeau is embarrassed. It is all about vanity with him and in taking a Liberal majority into a minority in one term, he has proven himself to be one of the weakest Liberal leaders in Canadian history. Trudeau desperately wants to regain a majority to prove at least to himself that he is a leader on par with his father. An opportunity to gain that majority is presenting itself to Trudeau right now and it will be hard for him to resist it.

The federal Conservative Party of Canada leadership race has been lackluster to say the least. They can’t be totally faulted for this. The pandemic lockdown has kept them from holding events and traditionally campaigning. It is hard to build excitement among supporters through a speech delivered by Youtube. That said, the crop of contenders hasn’t exactly been setting the support base on fire and nobody is seeing an electoral powerhouse emerging on the scene.

While the CPC has been essentially gagged by the pandemic lockdown, the Trudeau Liberals have been enjoying the opposite scenario. Every morning for months now, Trudeau has been able to hold what is essentially a live tax funded campaign mercial as he dollops out new handouts to Canadians who are overjoyed to see their own money ing back to them. This has paid off in spades as the Liberals are currently polling with a strong and growing lead over the CPC. The Liberal numbers are back in clear majority territory.

While Trudeau may a fool, his advisors aren’t. They know that polling numbers are fluid and they know that in this case they are going to have to strike while the iron is hot. When economic reality es home to roost (and it will), Canadians along with their government are going to have to deal with the fact that they have been living on the credit cards for months. We have taken on staggering debt levels and we are going to be facing a depressed economy for years. No matter what government is in power, they will have to bring about some heavy cuts in spending. Voters never like austerity even if it is unavoidable. A minority government will never survive an austerity period. The only way to avoid this fate would be to call a snap election and establish a majority. That would buy Trudeau four or five years to deal with things.

The calling of a snap election would be a shallow and crass move by Trudeau. Canadians would immediately see the self-interest in the move and be repulsed. That said, they will still probably give him the majority that he seeks. Eastern Canada and lower mainland BC aren’t going to be embracing the Conservatives any time soon.

With the re-election of Trudeau to a majority government, the explosion of independence sentiment in the West will make last fall’s reaction look like a firecracker.

Last fall, there was not a well known or organized independence party ready to embrace that surge in independence support. The Alberta Independence Party was in the midst of internal turmoil and nobody else was on the horizon. As always, independence movements were reactive. That won’t happen this time.

This year a new Wildrose Independence Party will be organized and on the block. If they can get it together, they will have a plan, a rational set of policies and an articulate leader to present this to Albertans. It will be the first pro-active approach to an independence wave in Alberta history and it could very well establish the movement permanently.

There are a whole lot of “ifs” in my speculation. Most are beyond the control of Albertans.

One thing which is in our control though is preparing our response to the perfect storm. The first step will be to present a united movement in the pursuit of independence. Wexit and the Freedom Conservative Party are preparing to do just that. If the merger fails however, Albertans will only be able to react to the storm again rather than harness it. Let’s hope that the members choose wisely.