Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Support our troops? Give them a living wage!

All this propagandistic hyper-patriotism demanding that we “Support Our Troops” continues to intensely offend me. I just read that:
“General Rick Hillier says soldiers overseas ask for very little, other than government support, the right equipment to do the job, and to occasionally be remembered back home.”
What I find particularly ludicrous in its extreme irony is the next line in the article:
“Hillier made the comments in Winnipeg, where he spoke at a fundraising dinner for a centre to help military families.”
Why the frack does this overpaid bureaucrat think it’s perfectly okay to need to have fundraisers for military families?!?

I wish every one of the “patriots” who get on their high horses about “supporting the troops” would get off their asses and demand that our federal government actually support the troops by paying them a living wage! Instead of shoving substance-less yellow ribbons down everyone’s throats, why not put that effort into ensuring that military workers and their families have enough food to go down their throats — instead of having to go to food banks?

It is criminally shameful that our government provides so little in the way of real support for the troops. It is deeply offensive to have so many in the community giving lip-service to supporting the troops while ignoring the realities of the immense lack of support we are actually giving them.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Howard Zinn quote on government, voting and democracy

Historically, government, whether in the hands of Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, has failed its responsibilities, until forced to by direct action: sit-ins and Freedom Rides for the rights of black people, strikes and boycotts for the rights of workers, mutinies and desertions of soldiers in order to stop a war.
Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.
—Howard Zinn, “Election Madness” in The Progressive, March 2008

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Attention Calgary candidates — I want to interview you

A group of us are trying to produce interview videos of as many of the Calgary candidates in the election as we can.

We’re distributing the videos online through sites like YouTube, Facebook, Viddler, etc. We also are trying to get Shaw Cable to run them, and maybe also do some community screenings and DVD distributions. Candidates are welcome to freely make use of the interview videos (such as on their own websites).

This is a chance to bypass the 20-second soundbyte format of the media and actually speak to voters. The videos typically run between 7-10 minutes (we limit it to that because any longer and we can expect most folks to tune out). That’s still long enough to really answer the core questions voters have about why the candidate is running, where they stand on key issues, and why people should vote for them.

See the video project page for full details.

If you are a candidate, or part of a campaign team, please contact me to make arrangements for the interviews.

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Calgary Democracy is up and running

There is a ton to say about the Calgary Democracy project, but if I waited for a chance to write all of that, I’d never get around to posting anything. So this is a quick post to let announce that the website now has comprehensive lists of the candidates and parties for the March 3, 2008, Alberta provincial election.

I ended up including all candidates in the election — not just the ones in Calgary.

Users who register on the site can add information links for candidates. I encourage folks to do this because there is no way I’ll be able to handle everything on my own (with almost 400 candidates already announced, and more expected by the nomination deadline on Monday).

The website I did for the municipal election in Calgary back in October received a very positive response. My favourite feedback was from the two separate people who told me that the reason they voted at all was because they were able to find useful information on the candidates through my website. I’m hoping to repeat and expand on that success this time.

So, please add what information you can, and give me feedback about the site (suggestions for changes, improvements, additional info, etc.). Thanks!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Alberta Provincial Election — Lots of work to do

It has been just over two months since my last post. I have, frankly, been both very busy and pretty tired. Now, however, I’m putting a big burn on with the provincial election.

There are a number of non-partisan projects I’m looking for people to help out with…

Calgary Democracy Website

For those of you who remember the website I did for the municipal election, Calgary Democracy is the project that emerged out of that.

The initial purpose is to provide a comprehensive point of access for all information available on the candidates in elections Calgarians can vote in.

You can help: It is a massive job gathering all of the links. Over the next few days, I am planning to have a new set of forms working on the website which will allow people to directly submit new weblinks (and any candidates I’ve missed). Please contact me if you’re interested in helping out.

I’ll post an announcement to this blog (and the front page of the Calgary Democracy site) when the link submission form is up and running.

Candidate Interview Videos

The handful of videos I managed to get done during the municipal election were well received. So, I’m hoping to expand that project to get videos done of as many of the candidates as possible (from all parties and independents).

You can help: This is another massive undertaking. So, I’m looking for people who can:
  • record the interviews,
  • edit the videos,
  • and handle internet distribution (upload to YouTube, Facebook, etc.).
None of these require anything fancy (it doesn’t require “high production values”).

The project will also need some support in terms of borrowing equipment:
  • video cameras (basic consumer cameras are fine)
  • microphones (lapel mics make a big difference to the sound quality)
  • tripods
  • blank tapes and dvds for recording on
Financial donations to help cover costs of equipment rentals and blank media would be helpful, too.

Please refer to the video project’s info page for details and get in touch with me to get involved.

Poverty Talks

One of the things that’s been significantly contributing to my being too busy to blog has been the Poverty Talks project. During the election, the project is trying to put together a couple of candidate forums to highlight poverty issues — and to push for political action — in our communities.

You can help: We need people to help with organizing and various tasks involved in putting on the forums. Please contact me to get involved.

We’re having a planning meeting this Wednesday, February 6, from 5:30pm to 7:00pm, at the Heartland Café in Sunnyside (940 – 2 Avenue NW; just about a block from the Kensington LRT Station, in Sunnyside). There will be a free drink — e.g., coffee, tea, juice — and some food for participants who RSVP. Please contact me or use the Facebook meeting signup if you plan to attend.

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