Archive for the ‘review’ Category

Death of Democracy

Your curmudgeon has been silent lately.
This old dog’s learning a new trick- acting – as a chorus member in Gary Santucci’s latest production: Democracy Is Dead – What are we going to do about it?

Our presentation is coming together nicely. Two nights left in this run so if you’re anywhere near Hamilton, you’ll be energetically entertained and politically stimulated. The Pearl Company, 16 Steven Street, Hamilton, 8pm. Strong language, stronger ideas.

The work continues to grow on me. Rod McTaggart, JonGordon Odegaard and of course Gary, take a complex subject, starting with a focus on municipal politicking, and deliver with passion and energy in a series of vignettes, my fav being ‘Cognitive Dissonance‘.  Its not an easy dialog but last evening, they nailed it. Our chorus line -this newbie in particular – was in awe of the talent before us.

My particular happiness was in being assigned to deliver Mark Twain’s famous line, here modernized: “If you don’t read the newspaper (or watch the news), you’re (a little) uninformed, but if you read the papers (or watch the news) you’re gonna be misled”.

A great example would be the Harper-Duffy fiasco. The media makes sound and fury. The sheeple react with outraged clamor. Partisans play their part, braying loudly.

Ha. Sheeple misled. Hoodwinked by the system which entertained -to distract said sheeple from what’s really going on – the selling of Canada and the dismantling of our sovereignty through yet more Free Trade Agreements. In September, when the Duffy noise was at its peak, both FIPA and CETA quietly slipped through. Only a little (celebratory) attention from the corporate media. On deals of this magnitude, there should have been months, even years of public discussion. Mulroney was decent enough to have an election around NAFTA.  So Harper tied Canada’s hands even as saner heads in Germany and the US try to drag the biggest deal, TPP into open debate. Well, Merkle postures her negotiating stance while Canada caves in obsequious subservience.

Same thing with Boy Scout Harper rattling on about ISIS. Instead of leaving well enough alone, he’s happy to keep up the distraction. Sheep.

These secret deals obligate taxpayers and destroy Democracy in favour of unelected tribunals, (much like the Landlord Tenant Board, my personal nemesis). When will its death be complete? I say when Jeb Bush becomes President. His brother George erased our fundamental protection, Habeas Corpus, which people hardly even know about, such is the sorry state of our vaunted education. Jeb will preside over the main act -WW3 – which the Pope declared to have already started.

Sleep on at your peril

Your Curmudgeon is having nightmares.


the OTHER Parties

Ontario Elections 2014

Allow me  a rant if you please:

Unless you’re in the top 30%, don’t, whatever you do, get sucked by MSMedia into thinking you waste your vote if you don’t vote for one of the big 3:  Liberals, Conservatives or NDP!  MSM supports them because it benefits MSM, not you.  That’s because these parties comprise THE SYSTEM the MSM is part of, the SYSTEM that sells Canada into foreign hands while undermining what it means to be Canadian – trading your sovereignty for their benefits.  That is why participation rates are plummeting — folks recognize there is really no choice, no difference, nothing will change anyway.

Remember – a strategic vote is a dishonest vote (not really what you want).  If you vote dishonestly, how can you expect politicians to be honest?  Your real choices are given below.

Many folks are also fooled into thinking that at least the NDP would change things. Well no, the NDP is a union based party and unions work for bureaucrats/ large corporations who essentially exert unstoppable influence over the SYSTEM. As we saw with the Rae government, they will reward their power base by maintaining unfair public sector benefits despite the meltdown going on amongst taxpayers.

You can be sure that readers who are winners in the present system  will vote for whichever part of the SYSTEM they inhabit.

End rant.   I’ll simply review, from my Curmudgeonly perspective, the OTHER choices available.  While I’ve tried to be accurate, inevitably I’ve screwed up somewheres.  So please check websites directly.

Green Party Ontario
Most folks will correctly presume that the next best strategic choice would be the Greens, who have been gaining seats around the world. Indeed, I was duly impressed by the interview of Green leader on Ontario Today. Seems sharp, well informed and opened my mind on some subjects such as low resource royalties in Ontario.  Despite my considerable interest in sustainability issues, I cannot ignore the 800 lb green gorilla – carbon taxes and green subsidies. The latter transfers wealth from poor to rich and the former trashes democracy and sovereignty through international agreements that, once signed are virtually impossible to undo or rectify. Despite good impression, no thanks, the price is too high and would not go over with the soldiers who died in WW2.

Libertarians and their cousins, the Freedom Party.

These are the next most represented parties on the ballot so we shouldn’t ignore them. Except I think of Libertarians as
The Party of No Government and
The natural home of Neo Cons/Neo Libs

Not somethnig I normally wish for but I do respect the former presence of Ron Paul, perhaps the most well known libertarian, in US politics, even if as some say, he is/might be a Freemason. Whether he is or not, he seems to have retained his integrity. We could do with such a person in Queens Park. A whif of libertarian logic is not a bad thing, just I wouldn’t want too many of them Darwinians controlling my future.

Same for the Freedom Party,
Ontario’s Freedom Party calls for an end to a ban on holiday retail sales, or calls for elimination of the provincial income tax (which was introduced by the province’s Progressive Conservatives in 1969), or proposes that the budget be balanced and health care fixed by subjecting the province’s government health insurance monopoly to competition.

Let’s hope one or two of these logical folk gets a seat someday.

Moving to the opposite end of the spectrum….

Communist Party of Onntario
Slogan: ‘Another Ontario is Possible’
‘Good jobs, better pensions, a livable minimum wage
Qualiy public services, healthcare and hospitals’

Looking their site over, one can’t help but be conflicted. Everything they list such as the first two items above sounds so reasonable. Why not, who would argue?  But we know that Russia and China, the two top Communist states are anything but normal and nice, though I’ve softened up on China after being there and seeing things first hand. Seems like a great place for any Canadian kid just graduated to get a start on their career – much better than general prospects in Canada –  low paying, filler jobs/ internships many have to put up with if they stick around our broken foreign worker economy.

Well, I’ve never been much of a socialist and I think you’d have to listen for hours, days and years to really figure out what they really stand for. Let’s leave it at that on this site or if you want to have a crack, fire away on the comment section.

Also Socialist Party of Ontario
Well developed website, full of stirring words: “does not seek to restore or rehabilitate the Keynesian Welfare State, rather it seeks to promote the full integration of all citizens in a manner that reaffirms the party’s determination to transform society from the existing neo-liberal, capitalist system that has only profits as its primary consideration to one that privileges social cohesion and is truly democratic, inclusive and poverty free.” Who can argue with that?

NOTA – None of the Above Party
I’m enthused about NOTA as outlined in previous post. Greg Vezina is just gonna go in blazing. Their platform is basic: “the 3Rs of Democracy = Direct Democracy= Responsible Government + Referendum + Recall”.  I’m sold on referenda (& MMP/not mentioned} but not direct democracy ( mob rule?)  Do you really think you or I can make hundreds of decisions on complex issues that interplay with everything else? Bureaucrats write thousands of pages of reports for politicians. Which is why we have representative democracy.

Is recall really practical for individual MPPs or is it just a way for factions to form and beat up on a hapless MPP just trying to do their job? Hey, one of the reasons everyone is pissed off is that our representatives actually learn stuff when they get to Queens Park that we plebs do not learn, then they act on that learning. Consequences, costs, concepts, etc.

Regardless,  concerns about NOTA’s thin platform are just not important at this stage. It will be years / decades and plenty of discussion before these ideas actually get implemented. Just vote against the system and for the person.

Let’s digress to reflect on the difficulty of making serious change – the problem of getting consensus on a wide diversity of concepts. Simalar to herding cats. Everybody has different opinions so the temptation (& best strategy) is to say as little as possible, but people also need to be educated too as to what is realistic. Occupy was accused of lacking focus. Of course, the details out of whack number in thousands. Certain changes are ok but others are very dangerous. Caution is needed.

So, enthused as I am about NOTA, other parties that have put much thought into political solutions also deserve your serious consideration.

Family Coalition Party of Ontario
Toll Free:1-888-327-2386
My political alma mater. I got involved in, and ran on behalf of this pro-life party because of my concern that the attack on family values combined with changes in society were undermining the basic viability of families, (especially in schools) that reduces our ability to raise a healthy next generation. The pro life issue didn’t interest me until I learned that abortion has prevented about 4 million people from being born since the 1960s. This is a huge hit to our demographics with far reaching ramifications we should think about – immigration, Canadian values, health care costs for boomers, etc. I still feel this way but then ran into the dilemma of all small parties (with odd names)- the need to either grow, die, or acquire a worthy existence through an MMP system (something that opens the door to small parties.) Once MMP disappeared, I had to face the fact that such parties are dismissed as fringe by MSMedia and are therefore stuck. Thus, I had to confront the reality there was a SYSTEM – including the media- and I/we are on the outside.  We must seek new ways of reacting to that reality. This transcends  family/life issues, important though they are.

Equal Parenting Party
This party is basically reacting to the unfair treatment that fathers get in divorce courts and is pushing for fixing laws so as to make each partner start from a position of equality.  The concern is real- would be nice if this party could elect at least one person.

Canadian’s Choice 
4 candidates
“a natural for independent candidates who, by definition, are not beholden to Party Leaders and rigid “top down” party policies, and are the only candidates who by definition work for you, the voters, and not for the established parties.” This party is trying to solve the leadership / party discipline conundrum and offers what might be called a smorgasbord. Not a bad idea, imo. Why does a party need a platform anyway? You might scoff at what might seem an Italian solution but imperious scoffing isn’t appropriate for a very successful economy, despite bizarre politics.
Also supports recall and referendum. Interested in monetary issues.

Pauper Party of Ontario the Argentine Solution and Abolitionist Party of Canada
aims for the institution of interest-free government loans (bonds), the end of policing of gambling, sex, and drug use, and the abolition of the welfare system.

I may have more to say later as this party touches on monetary issues, shades of my Canadian Action Party days.

Party for People with Special Needs
Self explanatory.

The Peoples Political Party

ban lobbyists, universal health care, ban public sector unions, childrens rights, MMP or proportional representation,
Despite paucity of info, not a bad speaker (preacher style). Anything people oriented these days is worth a listen. The leader is also running for Toronto mayor.

Ontario Provincial Confederation of Regions Party

Mandate: Direct democracy, referenda, etc. It focused on competition in health care and education (privatization?), repealing price controls on electricity, the replacement of property taxes with consumption taxes, and the elimination of provincial income tax. Bilingualism policy subject to referendum.

Northern Ontario Heritage Party
3 candidates
more or less self explanatory

Ontario Moderate Party
return back from HST to GST, fair auto insurance, eliminate gasoline tax
“The Ontario Moderate Party is a party of the political center. We seek to combine civil liberties and moderate economic”
the gas tax thing lost me – despite high gas prices, we seem to love gas guzzling SUVs & pickups, which means gas is still to cheap/subsidized.  Chalk up one for the Greens.

Vegan Environmental Party
animal rights
Well, I’m married to a carnivore so I better move on!

Trillium Party of Ontario

no luck finding info on this one

Hope that helps in your decisionmaking.  Please comment on any errors or omissions or whatever turns your crank

Bob, your Curmudgeonly scribe – select review

HotDocs Festival 2014 Toronto –

a Smash Hit on our way to the Great Smashup.

Dozens of cutting edge documentaries from cutting edge directors, many of which looked into the many hearts of darkness in our world, but few of which had answers. I’ll just give a brief comment on each as to why I felt this way.  I won’t try to duplicate more expert /comprehensive reviews – my concern is that the public is being fed a consistently singular message in many guises and that this message is dangerous to our future wellbeing.

I enjoyed 10 of this year’s crop despite developing an overarching feeling that they stuck pretty much to prevailing orthodoxy, at least among Toronto’s theater crowd.

The Trap: What Happened to our Dream of Freedom, 2002,  Adam Curtis

The most impressive, thorough and hard hitting of my selection by far . Three one hour segments – its a marathon. Mind bending too. This trilogy will find great resonance with the tin foil hat crowd and to my mind adroitly plumbs the messages we have been getting from our elites in the last century. Curtis follows thinkers as they bifurcate the concept of liberty into two camps: Positive and Negative Liberty.  The positive type is what  most revolution promise:  specific solutions such as Communism, Fascism, etc which all degrade into tyranny.  Negative Liberty is the ideal of being free to just do what you want (within reasonable limits).  Negative because of there is no specific prescription for society. Each person pursues  selfish fulfillment. He provides much support for these competing visions of liberty but having outlined the dangers of Positive Liberty and the limitations of Negative liberty, he blithely suggests we need Positive Liberty with some vague modifications. As if. So it looks like he is all for continuing a cognitive dissonance dialogue until such time as his masters, the globalists and the Georgia Guidestones deign to give us an answer. Probably just after WW3.

The Beijing Ants, Ryuji Otsuka.
This shaky doc was the polar opposite of The Trap, with little message to recommend it. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it even as many folks walked out. Well, that’s because I’ve a secret yen for China and was interested in finding out the pitfalls of renting an apartment in case I get there some day!  Quite different than here so it’s a good how-to, imo. Orthodoxy was preserved by the many shots of dense pollution over Beijing. Ok, so pick Kunming or some smaller city in the outlying provinces unless you have business in the capital.

Evaporating Borders, Iva Radivojavec.
Compelling and complaining but failed to explore the reason WHY mass migrations are so tolerated/ encouraged. Natch. They don’t want us to know. But we know, don’t we?!

The Writer With no Hands, William Westaway.
Chilling but confusing conjecture on the disappearance of Hollywood screenwriter Gary DeVore. Much evidence seemed to point to CIA/ military involvement, at least circumstantially, but nothing conclusive.  Should we worry or not? Being an inveterate worrier, I’d say we should, if only to shine a light, especially given the evidence of military assistance to ‘suitable’ projects.  Why do we tolerate this interference?

Ukraine is not a Brothel, Kitty Green.
Ooh lala, now that’s an unexpected offering from a dyed in the wool feminist! Who’da thunk. Lots of bare boobs, perhaps to the point of gratuitousness. Other than that though, the message is about what you’d expect from a feminist – women good (albeit duped) dupe-man bad, religion bad. Arch villain Victor given short shrift despite his prodigious contribution to the possibly legitimate Femen movement.  BTW they should stick to women’s issues, not politics, imo . No exploration of whether feminism is sustainable, so the irony is fitting.  See more below under last movies.

Ai WeiWei, The Fake Case, Andreas Johnson
Please pardon my fascination with China, again thoroughly enjoyable. One comes away with a clear sense of the struggle between an artistic but eccentric individual (designed the Bird’s Nest Stadium) and a state struggling to advance their society while coping with many different nationalities and languages, never mind stubborn individuals. Look at the problems Canada has coping with one distinct Quebec. We in Canada should not feel smug, especially when John Doe of the G20 debacle was incarcerated 250 days longer (without trial) than Ai Weiwei. So if we are to fix the many problems in Canada, which is worse, a dangerously misguided police force or an insurmountable media-fed zombi-ism combined with an efficient police that demanded over 1 million files from our internet ISPs in the last year?

Four Letters Apart – Children in the Age of ADHD.
Touching and vital study of an experimental (but expensive) program that attempted with much success to treat the whole child instead of just the symptoms of acting out. Not a dry eye left the theater. However, those who like myself decry the use of Ritalin will be disappointed, since the pre-existing medical regime for each child was maintained on or off as before.

The Songs of Rice, Uruphong Raksasad
A cinematicly confusing collage of images from several south Asian nations. Too disconnected, poorly shot to figure out, especially for western city slickers. Tended to reinforce existing Waspy notions of what these countries are like, so let me challenge Canadians to watch the wild and wonderous / thunderous gunpowder propelled ‘helicopter’ fireworks and reflect on how our sanctimonious city school fathers wouldn’t even allow old fashioned (inexpensive) playgrounds to stay in our schools. Wow, what a rite of passage for those young folk. Puts us to shame if you ask me.

The Malagasy Way, Nantenaina Lova.
This film examines the intersection of culture and exploitation with recycling as a possible answer to the environmental and employment conundrum. These last two directors looked from their point of view but can a sophisticated audience do anything but look down our long noses at the antiquated practices we saw?   (even if honestly ingenious).  Recycling is such a politically correct solution but our high-mechanized high-overhead probably unsustainable solutions make no room for the low tech possibilities depicted- except by shipping boatloads to Asia and then complain when children desolder circuits and clean plastic bags. Thus we continue to bury too much in landfills.

In retrospect, the greater challenge for modern Canadians is to reflect on the Malagasy traditions as represented by proverbs, several of which were given.  ie A family that stands together is a rock, a family in discord washes away like sand.  Canadians by contrast have almost totally destroyed such wisdom, if we even had any in the first place.  Our only equivalent would be our religions and institutions and our laws to some degree.  Proverbs are easily remembered and passed through generations by Malagasy orators.  Are we deliberately taking down our wisdom through movements like Femen  with their anti-religious/tradition message?   Much as I admire them, LOL.

Everyday Rebellion, T. Arash et al.

Last doc i caught and perhaps the most powerful.  Or maybe it was the cumulative effect.  Explores efficacy and methods of non-violent protest in various nations, attempting to prove it more effective than the violent kind, especially under brutal dictatorships (Syria, Iran).  I had wondered if it would be an honest film or just made to pacify restive populations.  Why would a fellow like Bush Jr. want democracy anyway?  Is it because they manufacture consent so easily?  The excellent quality (cinematics & organization) suggests asking where they got the juice from – the ‘system’? I’ll have to leave this to the better informed.  Cognitive dissonance.

Regardless, I felt overwhelmed by the discipline & evolved methodology combined with courage of those involved (Occupy, Femen). A few Femens appeared after the show (recruiting?) – wow, these women are not sluts.  These  are special people, so courageous, so beautiful, so honourable, so vital.  The person I talked to heard/considered my criticisms/ suggestions, a rare event as most people cannot actually listen to another perspective from an ordinary person.

I’ve decided my role is to write but researchers who study this stuff (and who claim effectiveness mentioned above), say the primary engine is ‘street work’ combined with parallel political efforts.

I was amazed to learn that…. arrg, seniors moment!! Will edit later.


I wish I had been able to see all the docs , though I also wish that subtitles could be arranged for better visibility and less eye shifting for the curmudgeon. The presence of 700 volunteers was also impressive, if a little unsettling – these young people need paying jobs to support their studies for heavens sake – but that’s a potential HotDocs topic for another day.