Obamacare – President Obama’s Legacy, courtesy of the right.

“Obamacare” –


The term “Obamacare” is the clarion call of the American right. It may however,  come back and bite them in the ass.


The right spits out the term “Obamacare” as often as possible, adorning it with simplistic rhetorical platitudes.


“… we need to repeal job killing “Obamacare” and re-capture our liberty…” 


Obamacare the word, expresses the sound bite grievances of the Easy Rider rifle rack crowd.  It says it all. It’s like a secret handshake. It says “he’s a socialist, “I hate government,” and “ he’s not like us”.  


And of course it’s ultimate appeal is as an implicit sharing of the “n” word, like “eeny meeny miny moe, catch a tiger (wink wink) by the toe…”


But its ubiquitous use may ultimately hoist American conservatives on their own petard. “Obamacare”, the schoolyard taunt, will likely forever weld the Obama name to U.S. health care reform much like Roosevelt’s name is singularly embossed on the New Deal.


 It’s painfully obvious that the right is on the wrong side of history in this debate. The Affordable Care Act ( Obamacare) is nothing, a pittance of a reform to the rest of the civilized world.

A requirement that all Americans buy private health insurance – whoopee!


But, (oh what the hell) , “Obamacare”,  is at least a start – the first spark of recognition that health care is something to be addressed collectively, not left to the whim of the market.


And let’s face it. Obamacare will not be repealed, by President Romney or anyone else. It will be impossible to unravel, and while trying to do so, Americans will discover that not only has Obamacare not made the sky fall, but it has saved them money and somewhat protected them from the heretofore vicious whims of private insurance companies.


Obamacare will be then embraced, like senior’s medicare. It will become as cherished as are health care systems in almost all other developed countries. It will be changed, amended and improved, the corporate health care chokehold will be loosened and the shrill cry of “Obamacare” will lose its adolescent incisiveness.

A horrified American right wing will see the writing on the wall far too late. With horror, they will stop using the term Obamacare as they realize that its intended rhetorical disdain is actually immortalizing President Obama as an American health care super hero, rather than a fallen (black)( Kenyan), socialist warrior.



And so, history will judge Barak Obama as the single-handed champion of civilized health care in the U.S.; and all because the looney Republican right wing bludgeoned the country with the term “Obamacare”  so often and for so long.


The irony is delicious and I for one will savour each inevitable morsel as it comes out of the American political oven.


I’ll start by calling the Affordable Health Care Act, “Obamacare” as often as I possibly can, in order to speed up Mr. Obama’s imminent health care sainthood.


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Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas – Feb. 3rd, 2012


“Shabby, immature, unprofessional, self-centered, bush league…” This is how the Boston Globe described Boston Bruin goalie Tim Thomas’  “individual decision” to boycott the traditional White House congratulatory visit.


As if British Columbians needed more proof that Thomas is an objectionable dolt. His supercilious gloating during last year’s Stanley Cup almost made me want to riot. 


But Thomas’ snubbing of the White House went beyond sticking out his lower lip and saying, “ I don’t like the government.” It was his giving another voice to the burgeoning legion who disrespect the office of the president because of who is in it.


Is Tim Thomas a racist? I don’t know, but his petulant decision was pre-approved by right wing nutters whose aversion to their president is expressed with an unhealthy anger and personal disrespect that transcends political dissidence.


They act and speak in a thinly veiled code, emboldening each other and appealing to a long simmering racist element:


“He (Obama) doesn’t share our American values…” (He’s black.)


Michelle Obama’s crusade to encourage a better diet for kids is described as “uppity” (she doesn’t know her place.)


Newt Gingrich calls Obama the  “food stamp” president; not so subtly implying that those of colour are lazy and exist mainly on government handouts.


They call him “Obama”, never “President Obama.”


The ridiculous birther cult still refuses to believe that Obama is a real American. Epithets still call him “Kenyan” and one of five Americans polled still believe President Obama to be muslim.


At a recent Tea Party rally, a woman was cheered for her placard, which said “ The Zoo has an African Lion, Washington has a Lyin’ African…”





South Carolina good ‘ol boy Congressman Joe Wilson shouted,  “you lie” during President Obama’s State of the union speech.


 Rocker loony Ted Nugent, while waving a machine gun at the cheering crowd at a recent concert, repeatedly screamed,  “Obama should suck on this!”


Tim Thomas’ White House snub was childish. The White House recognition was ceremonial, not political, and athletes have for decades, joined their teammates in attending, regardless of who inhabited the White House.


But Tim Thomas’ action wasn’t just an individual decision; it was him publicly joining the crazies, and speaking in the increasingly disturbing code of Tea Party bigots. 

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I Know What’s Been Missing at Christmas

Posted on December 23, 2010 by jimnelson806


Until a few years ago, Christmas spirit in the air of Vancouver seemed more palpable than it has recently.

Until a few years ago, I experienced an annual, two-week feeling of well –being, a festive glow that warmly conquered the stress and bustle of fighting the shopping rush. It was something in the air. Whether it was snowy or drab old west coast rainy, it just seemed festive.

Decorated downtown windows; Christmas lights on buildings, in trees, even strewn on construction cranes. People bustling, wearing scarves and doing all the Christmassy things people are accused of doing in carol after carol. Snow crunching kids bunching, things blinking bright red and green, people rushing home with their treasures and bringing figgy pudding to people who won’t go until they get some.

The glow of being finished one’s school or work for the year and having just a bit of shopping to do before relaxing with a glass of wine or egg nog at home and hearth and reveling in Christmas celebration.

It was a wonderful feeling of Christmas, and it was on the streets, in the air as soon as I walked along Christmas streets.

 I haven’t felt that way lately. I’m going through the motions.

What’s been missing the last few years? Why do I feel less


 Is it simply that I’m getting older and annually more blasé about the whole Christmas thing? No, I’ve been old for years, but I still appreciate the Christmas spirit. Maybe the economy is distracting me. No, I don’t quite know what “the economy” means and even if I did, it’s not noticeably sapping me of   seasonal good cheer. Is it global warming that erodes whatever Christmas spirit there is “in the air “ of late?  

No. It’s none of these things – but I now know what it is.

 It came to me this afternoon as I glumly walked into Coquitlam Centre. It was quiet.

 It’s the bells. The sleigh bells. They’re gone.

 The big, jingling set of sleigh bells that for as long as I can remember,  percussed and punctuated the Christmas air are gone.

The, beautiful Dasher and Dancer bells, cheerfully shaken by the Salvation Army volunteer in the red suit, standing by the big, plastic, money holding orb hanging by chains from a red metal frame, with a five –dollar bill inside to “seed” the pot; – they’re gone.

 The big, jangling bells that evoked Santa’s sleigh and reindeer. Gone.

The bells which helped make the streets feel unanimously Christmassy to all who walked them during the Christmas season. Gone.

 The sleigh bells are gone. Gone from the air and the ethos of Vancouver Christmas.

Apparently, the poignant, Christmassy jingle of sleigh bells was “too noisy” for two or three grinchy types, who complained to the “Sally Ann” about the “racket” made by the bells. Their humbuggery apparently allowed them to ignore the classical contribution the bells made to the Christmas spirit of our streets.

Ever the sensitive organization, the Salvation Army, several years ago, responding to the spectacularly small number of complaints, replaced their wonderful sleigh bells. In their place, they issued small, wimpy bells. Salvation Army volunteers now shake tiny unobtrusive bells, the kind that might adorn seasonal slippers, or the underwear of an office party – goer. 

And so, instead of contributing to the feeling of Christmas as they did for so many years, the Salvation Army “bells” now merely damn the season with faint praise

To me, this shortsighted narrow – mindedness evokes Basil Fawlty. When asked by his wife to “turn off that racket! “, he replied,

“That’s Brahm’s Fifth Racket, Sybil Darling…”

Please, let’s all wear pink t-shirts or adorn our bumpers with ribbons saying “support our bells” or any other campaign to encourage the Salvation Army to bring back the sleigh bells, the traditional herald of west coast Christmasses.

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Fox News North

Canada may soon have its own Tea Party – just like the U.S! If Stephen Harper and the new Sun Media television channel(Fox News North) have their way, Canadians may indeed soon be enjoying all the benefits of a media driven , Canadian Tea Party movement.

 Mono syllabic hysteria, misspelled rally signs, perhaps an Ignatieff  “birther” cult, and gatherings where extremists of all descriptions chant their three “G” mantra – “ God, Guns, and Gays”.

 Never in Canada you say? Until recently, I would have agreed with you.

 Even though there is an anti “ Fox News North” petition afoot and Canadian cultural icon Margaret Atwood is livid that Stephen Harper is putting undue pressure on the C.R.T.C. to allow his former communications director Kory Teneyke to head up Fox News North, we Canadians are still not alarmed.

 After all, in Canada we have always enjoyed comparatively sensible conservatives , civil, benign, and further left than most American Democrats.

But I’m afraid  a perfect storm is developing , which may, with the help of an hysterical right wing news channel, metamorposize  our nice, Canadian right wingers into American style zealots.

First, the recent , tragic Arizona  shootings have not caused the American media to pause in its vitriol, it’s throwing gas on the fire. “Glock” handgun  (the shooters weapon) sales have spiked in Arizona and many other states since the shootings. It’s not just a single disturbed person – there are many more who have and will respond to the steady diet of the kind of screaming, hate media we are now considering importing. Its’ getting scary.

Don Cherry is being lauded as a Palin- esque “straight talker” glorifying the Afghan war effort and decrying “ left wing pinkos” on publicly supported TV. Disturbingly, many Canadians have no problem accepting the extension of Cherry’s somewhat beloved Canadian hockey jingoism into politics. It’s getting scary.

Ominously we, in Canada are now suddenly required to genuflect to our military at every sports event and as a preface to any public discourse, just as our Fox fed  neighbours do. It’s getting scary.

If  this keeps up, and “Fox News North” successfully womps up my colleague and his friends, we too could soon have  a  good looking, Conservative, Canadian   airhead  declaring   “Ah cn see Amurica from ma back porch”.

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Easter is the Easter Bunny. It’s gnawing the ears off a chocolate rabbit. It’s perhaps brunch, and maybe, a big ham for family dinner.  It’s a time to see Grandma and Grandpa. It’s a well deserved, statutory long weekend, a harbinger of spring to us all. That is what Easter is for all Canadians. For some Canadians, however, it means much more.

The Christian origin of Easter will remain paramount to Christians this weekend.  My devout and earnest debating partner is understandably conflicted about how we Canadians should celebrate Easter. He wishes Canada could officially recognize the anniversary of Christ’s death and resurrection, yet he knows it is inappropriate for our government to do so.

 He is concerned that the Christian side of Easter and Christmas, might soon be lost in commercial merriment, egg nog, and chocolate candy, yet he is resigned to the fact that Church and State must remain separate.  He knows that historically, Theocracies have been corrupt, cruel and unsuccessful.

 There are not only Canadians of non-Christian faiths. There is also a growing number of non-religious Canadians. Older atheists have lived through chanting the Lord’s Prayer each day in school , after the Bible reading, singing “God keep our land, glorious and free“, and having coaches suggest a pre- game prayer for the entire team.

This is not an indictment of Christian Canadians, but rather a reminder of what happens when we assume we all hold a common belief. We offend each other. Most non- Christian Canadians have long embraced religious holidays and Christian Canadians are thankfully coming to understand that religion is for our homes and places of worship. This separation makes both our Churches and our government stronger.

Ironically, the truce about which my colleague feels uneasy is precisely what allows Canadians to share in celebrating Christian holidays. Santa Claus, the elves, Rudolph, and the Easter bunny, allow Christian and non- Christian Canadians to enjoy the secular mythology of the holiday without arguing about the religious mythology.   

So, all Canadians, including our Government members, can rest this weekend, and enjoy the secular trappings of Easter. My colleague, with other Christian Canadian brethren, can also celebrate the special, religious significance that Easter holds for them.

God bless us… oh; wait a minute… scratch that.

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Justin Trudeau is Right

Justin Trudeau Is Right

Justin Trudeau doesn’t think that our Canadian Immigration Handbook should use the word “barbaric” to describe “honour killings, female genital mutilations, forced marriages, and other gender based violence.”  I agree with him.

Trudeau abhors these cultural practices as do we all; that isn’t the point. His point is that official Canadian government communication should not use value-laden, subjective rhetoric to describe the political or cultural practices of other countries.

Trudeau has been vilified, forced to equivocate by a political media which more and more seeks a Bush- like, name- calling approach to international discourse.

For our Immigration Handbook to delineate the cultural practices and beliefs we Canadians embrace is appropriate, but to rhetorically denounce other cultures, erodes our long-standing, respected, Canadian moral authority.

Canada’s action in not joining the U.S. “coalition of the willing” in Iraq was an exquisite, strong statement of Canadian moral perspective, accomplished without a subjective denunciation of  American foreign policy or other tempting but disrespectful rhetoric. The point was made more strongly by principled action rather than by editorial condemnation. Canada remained above the fray.

If we describe the cultural practices of other countries as “barbaric” in documents we present to the world, what might we next include as barbaric, cruel, or racist?    

I humbly suggest the following for inclusion in Canada’s Immigration Handbook:

“Canada’s openness and generosity does not extend to people from countries which allow the barbaric practice of encouraging its citizenry to carry assault, automatic, and concealed weapons wherever they go, or from countries which continually and amorally prop up dictatorial regimes around the world for their own gain, or from countries which allow the immoral practice of capital punishment or encourage the brutal practice of bull fighting. “

Are these generally accepted Canadian judgements? Yes. Are they appropriate for inclusion in an official Canadian document?  No. 

Justin Trudeau is right. We should not use subjective, value- laden rhetoric in official government communication with the world. Nor should we reduce ourselves to the level of some leaders and politicians, who routinely and publicly use pejorative terms such as “axes of evil”, “madman”, “exporters of terrorism” , or “murderous thugs.”

Canada should be a respectful voice in a disrespectful world.

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Oil Tankers off the B.C. Coast

If a spotted owl has to move its nest a few hundred metres to allow an upgrade of the Sea to Sky highway, most of us are okay with that.  If a pop can sneaks into our garbage, most of us are not going to sift through the coffee grounds to remove it. Other than a radical few, most British Columbians are an environmentally committed, but pragmatic bunch.

However, when Conservatives try to sell British Columbians on the idea of an annual fleet of 225 oil tankers off the west coast of B.C., carrying 525,000 barrels of oil per day from Kitimat to Asia, they’ll have even the most tepid environmentalist among us Googling Greenpeace and chaining ourselves to Stephen Harpers’ campaign bus.

I refer of course, to the Enbridge “Gateway”  project oil  pipelines proposed  to run between Edmonton and Kitimat, to allow for shipment of  Alberta tar sands oil to China and Asia. China’s voracious thirst for oil will allow Enbridge to get more per barrel than from the U.S., who think tar sands oil is dirty and only valuable at discounted prices.

Tankers carrying oil from the proposed pipeline would wind their way through narrow fjords from Kitimat to Hartley Bay, into Hecate Strait, and either north or south of Haida Gwaii, whichever they can get away with. The prospect of oil tankers daily cruising past some 650 salmon spawning rivers and slaloming past grey whales through rougher waters than those faced by the Exxon Valdez, makes one shudder.

But then, I suppose Mr. Harper, as an Albertan oil lobbyee, cannot be expected to understand the reverence we British Columbians have for our coastline.

Regardless of the incredible new safety features of oil tankers and the “world class” safety measures my colleague Palin- esquely insists Enbridge will embrace, will there be a huge oil spill if these tankers move daily up and down our coast? Inevitably, yes.

We are being asked to accept inevitable environmental disaster in exchange for allowing a private Albertan company to make billions from China for oil Canadians own collectively.

I think Stephen Harper and Enbridge, should take their double hulled tankers, and world class safety standards, and “drill baby drill”; someplace else, where like B.C., the sun don’t shine.

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Frick and Frack

This week, my  “let ‘em eat cake” colleague and I have agreed  to focus our attention  on what we dislike about our preferred parties  in this federal election , rather than on criticizing the other guys’ bunch, whom we believe might well  ruin the country. Now, listening to my neo con friend berate his Conservatives for not being fiscally ruthless enough, and for not calling environmentalism a socialist plot, will undoubtedly be a painful experience.

Despite this, you will not see me list in rebuttal, the myriad ways the Conservative government is ruining Canada, what with never ending corporate tax cuts, sucking up to rural gun owners and promulgating a foreign policy which seeks to make Canada a fifty-first state.

 No. No such diatribe will be penned by me. Rather, as agreed, I offer a brief critique of the shortcomings of the less regressive parties in this federal election.

What’s wrong with the Liberals and the N.D.P.? Well, how about this – they are the same. Both are fiscally conservative parties with an unthreatening veneer of social conscience. Both want to be prudent in balancing the budget, protecting Medicare and giving a bit more to pensioners. Both employ a “when in doubt, praise our troops” strategy. They are parties between which people such as Ujjal Dosanjh, Bob Rae and others quite comfortably ( and opportunistically),flit . The two parties have become indistinguishable.

 Liberals have always been strategically rather than ideologically driven. The N.D.P.  has now assured its ongoing  irrelevance by doing the same; downplaying  ideology in favour of strategy. Is promising a few more shekels for pensioners by slightly increasing corporate tax all they’ve got?  Where’s the aggressive attack on soaring profits and corporate giveaways? Where’s the gritty expose of the widening gap between rich and poor in Canada, like the “Corporate Welfare Bums” campaign of the seventies?

Where’s the foreign policy that reiterates what Lester Pearson pioneered and most Canadians favour, that Canada’s international contribution should be that of U.N. peace keeper, not that of a minor appendage in unilateral U.S. actions or those of obsolete cold war coalitions.

The majority of Canadian voters are not Conservative, but the votes of Canada’s progressive majority will likely be neatly split between Frick and Frack.

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Those Darn Public Unions!

So, those public sector unions have finally managed to spoil the American economy, what with their unreasonable salary demands, cushy benefit packages, and bloated pensions. It’s time we did something about it, if we want to restore the economy and our liberty.

This is the ridiculous conclusion reached by newly elected American state Governors in many U.S. states, and by my colleague, who looks wistfully southward for neo con economic succour.

But do they have a point?  Was it in fact, working people who spoiled the economy for the rest of us?  I use U.S. information, as it is by far the starkest possible.

First, how did the poor people (and unions) do during the U.S recession?

Well, eight million of them lost their jobs. One point two million of their homes were lost. Union membership in the U.S.  dropped to 11.9 percent, the lowest ever. U.S. workers salaries increased an average of one percent in the public sector and zero percent in the private sector over the past two years. The gap between the rich and poor in the U.S. widened to its widest point ever. The bottom ninety percent of Americans, that’s 133 million families, control four percent of the nation’s wealth.

Now, how did the rich people do during this period?

Well, corporate profits for the third quarter were 1.699 trillion dollars, the highest ever recorded in the U.S. 18.4 billion dollars were paid in corporate bonuses. Federal tax cuts for the top one percent of “earners” average over $300,000.00 per person. Banks received 245 billion from the taxpayer.

From these numbers, it should be as clear to you as it was to Michigan’s Republican governor, that clearly public spending and unions are the cause of their economic woes. In Michigan, it’s not even a shell game. They cut corporate taxes 2.1 billion dollars, and slashed social services, education, and public workers to pay for it.   

Now, in case we think Canadian workers fared better than American workers, consider that, according to economist Tyler Cowan, the average Canadian worker’s wage increased an average of $53 per year between 1980 and 2005.

No matter how much we would like it to be, it just ain’t the working man.

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Corporate Tax Cuts

 “Let’s give increasing amounts of money to rich guys. “ Past and present Conservative federal budgets are that simple. In 2007, they legislated an automatic, one percent, corporate tax cut for each of seven years. No strings attached. No requirement for corporations to create jobs, no expectation that wages and salaries be increased, no agreement that their tax windfall be passed on to consumers, or that they assure job security for employees. No expectations at all. Past governments experimented with tying corporate tax cuts to various expectations but it was tedious, bothersome and embarrassing, as companies never met the government’s expectations. So now, we just give them the money.

No one would argue that we need a robust corporate and businesses community for a healthy economy and that occasionally we may need to offer carefully considered help to ensure their health.

There is however, another thing which we generally ignore, that is required to keep our economy strong. Our economy requires robust, well paid, middle and working classes to purchase the goods and services produced by the rich guys to whom we give more money each year.

Unlike corporate tax cuts, (the money from which disappears into skyrocketing corporate bonuses), every dollar of wage and salary increase public or private workers receive is spent, ploughed back into the economy. As we give more money to rich guys each year, we make up the revenue shortfall by cutting social programmes and inhibiting wage increases. We blame lagging revenues on health care spending, public unions, and of course, the lazy people who “abuse” public assistance programmes.

This is the budget focus of the Conservative government, defending trickledown economics using this tiresome script.                                                                                                                    

Call it what it actually is – giving money to rich guys, then blaming poor guys for falling government revenues.

To illustrate, I offer the following parable, from an Ohio politician during “Girl Guide” cookie week.

A millionaire, a “tea party” member, and a union worker sat at a table, with twelve cookies in front of them. The millionaire grabbed eleven of the cookies and devoured them. Then he turned to the “Tea Party” member and said,” Hey, you’re not going to let that greedy union guy eat that last cookie are you?”

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