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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Actual innocence 

POGGE writes a great piece about Arar and the RCMP -- To serve and protect. Our reputation, that is.
In the comments section, someone posted "As for Arar, I do not know the full story and I doubt that we ever will, inquiry or not. You can be sure that there is some info about Arar that CSIS has that it will never share."
And that's exactly the problem now.
Being a law-abiding, tax-paying, white, middle-class person, I, too, used to believe in the police and the justice system -- I thought that, as a general rule, that police would NEVER finger someone as a suspect nor would prosecutors EVER bring charges against anyone unless they had GOOD reason to think the person was ACTUALLY GUILTY of a crime.
But over the last five years, there's just been too much bullshit going on in provincial justice systems across the country for me to believe this anymore. Not to mention the "guilty of being Aboriginal" bias which has thrown so many Aboriginal people in jail over the years that there is likely not a single Aboriginal person in the country who hasn't had at least one relative serving time -- certainly in Saskatchewan, that is the case.
Examples? Saskatoon's very own "Starlight tours" and the Stonechild inquiry and the Klassen case. Then there is Driskell, Phillion, Sophonow, Milgaard, Marshall, Morin, Truscott, and all the other cases referenced on Injusticebusters as well as all the Innocence Projects around the world.
So actually, no, I don't have any particular problem believing that Arar could be guilty only of being Muslim after 9/11.
First they came for the Aboriginals
and I did not speak out
because I was not Aboriginal.
Then they came for the Muslims
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Muslim.
Then they came for the gays
and I did not speak out
because I was not gay.
Then they came for the pro-choicers
and I did not speak out
because I was not pro-choice.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me
.
(with apologies to author Pastor Martin Niemöller )

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Monday, November 29, 2004

Liberal Manifesto 

Eschaton points to this article - Mathew Gross: The Politics of Victimization, which could also serve as the Liberal Manifesto: "We have a mandate to be as radical and liberal and steadfast as we need to be. The progressive beliefs and social justice we stand for, our core, must not be altered. We are 56 million strong. We are building from the bottom up. We are meeting, on the net, in church basements, at work, in small groups . . . we absolutely must dispense with the notion that we are weak, godless, cowardly, disorganized, crazy, too liberal, naive, amoral, 'loose', irrelevant, outmoded, stupid and soon to be extinct. We have the mandate of the world to back us, and the legacy of oppressed people throughout history." Right on!

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Saturday, November 27, 2004

You've obviously mistaken me for someone who gives a damn! 

When I saw this story in our own paper - Bush Tries to Restart Stalled N. Ireland Talks - I laughed out loud. The US government still thinks it has some kind of moral authority in world politics? Bush thinks that his own personal involvement in urging political reconciliation in Ireland will give Ian Paisley or Gerry Adams pause?
Sorry, folks, but after two years of Iraq and all its related unprincipled, hypocritical BS -- particularly Abu Gharib, of course, but also trashing Europe, fumbling North Korea and Iran, neglecting Africa, free passes for Pakistan and Sharon, undermining Powell, rejecting the World Court, rejecting Kyoto, allowing internal partisan theological politics to dictate foreign aid funding, and an overall pattern of incompetent follow-through for everything from AIDS to the roadmap to Darfur -- America's international credibility to tell anybody to do anything is gone.
And actually, I DO give a damn -- the world needs America's moral authority, but the Bush administration doesn't have any. Its just a damn shame.

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Friday, November 26, 2004

Is it April 1 already? 

Two ridiculous stories in the New York Times -- this one Iraqi Leaders Plan to Meet Insurgents in Jordan and this one Iranians Refuse to Terminate Nuclear Plans .
In both cases, the headlines seriously overstate the case -- in the Iraq story, though 'Iraqi officials" have agreed to meet "oppositionists...if they renounce violence and terror" there is no sign that the unnamed insurgents have actually agreed to any meetings whatsoever. And as for the Iran story, this is a US State or delegation leak trying to show how the US is getting tough with Iran, but actually demonstrating how little influence or credibility the US has with the Iranians, the Europeans and the IAEC negotiators.

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Thursday, November 25, 2004

Bad idea 

So Canadians might be going to the war zone otherwise known as Iraq -- Canada aims to have role in Iraq election, PM confirms -- bad idea; terrible idea!
Not only is the idea of an election in Iraq ridiculous in and of itself, considering that the country is still at war, now the involvement of Canadians in this morass just makes us complicit in this American imperialist disaster. When the first Canadian is beheaded, who will we blame? The Martin government.

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Thanks, guys, for whatever it was that you did 

Well -- Grateful Bush set to visit Halifax -- how underwhelming!

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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I'm getting a little tired of the Auditor General 

The Auditor General quibbles about jurisdictional issues, while ignoring the real problem - that thousands of Aboriginal students cannot go to university.
This story Native education losing ground quotes the Auditor General criticizing how federal dollars are spent in education for Aboriginal students --"Indian Affairs has done little to fix a troubling range of old problems. . . These include jurisdictional squabbles, low teacher salaries, poor training and lax tracking of public dollars."
The story goes on to note that First Nations bands now manage 496 of the 503 schools on reserves - but this means the responsibility for salaries and training rests with the bands now, not with Indian Affairs. The "lax tracking of public dollars" is also a misleading statement, because the bands now do their own tracking.
What the Auditor General apparently does not mention, perhaps because she doesn't agree with it, is that the basic goal of supporting First Nations self-governance means that the bands are given the federal dollars to support education without federal strings attached -- self-government MEANS that the bands, not Indian Affairs, get to decide how the money is spent. To an auditor, this may be an accounting problem, but there are larger public goals here than accounting.
The basic problem is NOT accounting at all -- it is likely that most of the bands are doing their best. They simply do not have enough money - to pay higher salaries, to attract better-trained teachers, to finance more post-secondary students.
The true scandal in this story is buried at the end -- that 2,000 fewer post-secondary students are being supported this year than last, and there is a waiting list of 10,000 for post-secondary funding.
What most Canadians do not realize is that Aboriginal students are not eligible for Canada Student Loans. If their bands cannot afford to finance their post-secondary education, the only option for these students is to try to work their way through on their own -- an almost-impossible task with today's higher tuitions, particularly for an Aboriginal student, usually without parents or family who can help out, perhaps living for the first time in a city, unlikely to have the job skills or family connections to get a high-enough-paying summer job to cover the thousands needed for that tuition payment in September. These students are ambitious, willing, intelligent, hardworking -- and SOL until their band can support them. And THAT'S a far more serious problem for our country than any Auditor-General's report.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Keep on bloggin' 

The Blogging of the President: 2004 likes my Dylan Thomas homage - "Do not go gentle into that good night. Blog, blog against the dying of the light."
Its a little depressing, I know, but it expresses how I have felt and what I have seen in the progressive blogosphere since the Bush election.
First, there was the outrage and the disbelief. Then there was the doubt, the crying, the despair, the self-immoliation, the agonized reappraisal -- some of this is still going on. But what is emerging now is a new sense of mission, with a hard, white-hot nugget of anger at its core. "Gentlemanliness", otherwise known as bi-partisanship, is over for the progressive bloggers.
Their mission now, and they have chosen to accept it, is to try to save America, the world's greatest democracy, from turning into a fascist failed state. And the anger is not focused on Bush anymore, but on the the Christian Right yahoos, exploitive businessmen, congressional idiots, Red State voters, military yes-men, administration hacks and media syncopants who would let this happen through a deadly combination of ignorance, selfishness and jingoism.
Hang in there and keep on bloggin', guys -- apres vous, le deluge.

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Monday, November 22, 2004

Finally 

Hep C victims on way to compensation
Well, its about time.
These people who contacted Hepatitis C through blood transfusions have deserved compensation for a long time. I am still angry at the provinces who took the federal money allocated for their care and treated it like general revenue.
I wonder how many Canadians remember the whole miserable history of this scandal? The timeline is here. The Arkansas angle is here. And Canadians should be eternally grateful to the Globe and Mail for exposing and covering this story.

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Iran -- can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em 

Daily Kos :: Iran Suspends Nuke Enrichment; Brits Screw Up Bush Narrative
DHinMI from Daily Kos is exactly right with this entry on the recent announcement that Iran is suspending uranium enrichment -- "But instead of claiming success for pressuring the Iranians to agree to the suspension, Bush almost seemed disappointed at the news . . . nowhere in Bush's statement can one discern a sense of satisfaction or relief. No, instead it seems as if the administration is setting up another fake crisis. . . And now the Europeans screwed up their plan. The problem for Bush, assuming that he wants saber rattling over Iran, is that unlike two years ago with Iraq, this time the British do not seem as inclined to help the Bush administration jangle the cutlery."
My only question about this is the statement that Bush "almost seemed" disappointed? Try "is" disappointed.
This is exactly the same tone that the Bush administration took when Iraq tried to prove that it had dismantled its WDM -- disappointment and derision, instead of relief or hope, with the underlying narrative that of course, right-thinking people would be damned fools to believe anything those Ay-rabs say.

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Unbelievable! 

Salon.com Politics-Dishonoring JFK's death describes a new video game experience -- just in time for Christmas!
On the 41st anniversary, become Lee Harvey Oswald and try to assassinate Kennedy with just three bullets! Its Educational -- gain points for getting it right (body, head, body) but lose points for hitting Jacqueline instead! Blood spurt option also available!
And our next game -- Putting Jesus on the Cross -- how many hammer blows will it take to attach the hands and feet well enough that the lifelike Christ will not fall off when the cross is raised! Extra points for stabbing the spear directly into his side! Its Educational!!! (Blood spurt option available!)

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Saturday, November 20, 2004

Gagliano? A 'soldier'? Get real 

I have often thought that if Alfonso Gagliano, now trying to track down his condo records, hadn't been a politician he could have had a career playing mobsters in the movies -- his appearance is so 'New Jersey Italian' that he could easily fit in with all the shadowy figures sitting in the background at the Bada Bing.
This whole brouhaha comes from the story of another mobster, remembering a meeting more than a decade ago and basing his ID on a photograph. Who can take seriously the accusation that he was a "soldier" in the Montreal mafia?
At the very least, Gagliano would have been a capo.

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The Honourable John F. Kerry, Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition 

Go, John, Go! Protect Every Child is a winner.
In a way that no "losing" American candidate has ever done before, John Kerry is asserting himself as the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Usually, the losing presidential candidate just disappears off the public stage in America -- while in a parliamentary system, the Leader of the Opposition remains in the public eye and keeps pushing his party's agenda.
John Kerry received the second-highest number of votes anyone has ever received for president -- 55 million people voted for him. And he mobilized a campaign organization like no democrat has ever done before. So why shouldn't he take advantage of that, and begin using his Senate seat as a focus for vigorously opposing Bush and promoting the kind of progressive ideas that could help democrats win the midterms?
And he has picked a great issue -- one I thought could have been the focus of his whole campaign -- health insurance for children.
Who can be opposed to this? The republicans are caught flat-footed by this initiative. If they oppose it, as will be their natural inclination, they look like cheapskate, ignorant, uncaring fat-cats. Who could deny a baby a life-saving operation? How could anyone say no to wheezing child needing treatment for asthma? When the parents of these children see their kids being helped, they will know who did this for them. And when these children reach adulthood, they will NOT stand for being denied health care again.
And I wouldn't be surprised if his "catastrophic coverage" idea gets revived again, too -- the big HMOs and health insurers would love it if the government would take these expensive and controversial cases off their hands.
Now, Kerry's assertiveness won't be popular with some Senate democrats -- and no, I'm not talking about Hillary. I'm talking about some of the high-profile senators like Durbin and Rockefeller -- the ones who, in talk show appearances during the campaign, never lifted a finger to defend Kerry against the swift boat smears and the 87 billion twist. The "public as co-sponsor" gambit in Kerry's health care initiative prevents his fellow Senators from ignoring him or watering his initiative down before the public even sees it.
Keep your $15 million, John -- maybe you can use it better than the other dems can.

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Friday, November 19, 2004

"Virtuous Violence" 

In this Antiwar.com column, There Is No One Left to Stop Them author Paul Craig Roberts says "Many Bush partisans send me e-mails fiercely advocating "virtuous violence." They do not flinch at the use of nuclear weapons against Muslims who refuse to do as we tell them." I had never heard the term "virtuous violence" before, so I Googled it.
A lot of the references referred to "virtuous violence" as a term used by parents to justify spanking and even forms of child abuse. It also has had religious connotations in some references.
But this March, 2004 essay on Virtuous Violence by Chicago journalist Bob Koehler seems to be the most relevant definition.
In it, he quotes a 1962 paper by psychologist Gabriel Breton, writing about the human compulsion to find a reason for waging war.
"Peace constitutes a terrible danger. . . As (peace) presents itself today, it threatens to deprive us forever of the justifications of virtuous violence. What shall we do? Along with representations of hell, it is the destruction by arms of large human groups which nourishes most assiduously the popular imagery. If violence ceases to be demanded by right and justice, will we have to deal directly with the monster who inhabits each one of us? . . . The purely political categories disappear and any position, opinion or policy is classified as good or evil. . . Violence has never tried to look so righteous.”

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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Bleak 

Rentogen's diary on Daily Kos described Seymour Hersh's recent talk at Hampshire College - Seymour Hersh at Hampshire College, blasts Bush
Lots of sound criticisms (Condi Rice is a "dimwit") and policy analysis. And at the end, this summary of future prospects: "Hersh was particularly bleak when outlining his thoughts about the future. His most important point is that Bush is incapable of changing course, and at this point we will simply have to wait for events to transpire. Europe has turned against the U.S. and will begin to act soon (after the upcoming election in Germany) to restrain the 'craziness' of the Bush administration. He expects they will move to settle the war in Iraq. The economic consequences of the turn against the U.S. will be severe. Europeans will start to avoid buying U.S. made goods. Soon the Chinese and French will begin to buy oil in euros rather than dollars, and there will be a big move away from the dollar as an international currency. Europe (led by Germany and France) will take over brokering a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The neo-cons still hope to invade Syria and Iran. They think it will be easy to knock off Syria. There is nothing to stop their trying (reality certainly won't stop them)."

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Good riddance to Carolyn 

Canada: Parrish meets political shredder after vowing not to fit cookie-cutter
Don't let the door hit you in the ass as you leave.
Parrish learned, as did Sheila Copps, that the media loves you for being colourful and outspoken and sassy and cute, but your political teammates will soon despise you. If you want to be outspoken, start a blog!
And in the end, her insulting nattering has made it a little harder for other Canadian politicians to develop a respectful but meaningful Canadian independence from the Bush administration, which is particularly important in terms of our policies on border security and immigration and NAFTA and timber and beef.

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The song is ended 

but the melody lingers on
Powell Says Iran Is Pursuing Bomb Substitute "Iraq" for "Iran" and "Iraqi National Congress" for "National Council for Resistance in Iran" . . . its deju vu for 2002.
Maybe the wolf is really there this time. The problem for the US is that no one, particularly in Europe or the Middle East, believes the CIA or Powell anymore. If the US starts bombing Iran, then Iran could invade Iraq to destroy the US military there. Iran has an airforce, so the result would be 50,000 US troops dead. If Israel uses US intellegence as a rationale to start bombing Iran, the Middle East will explode.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Gay-bashing as publicity device 

Pandagon highlighted this story Coming Out for One of Their Own about a gay teen in Oklahoma whose church got the news that it was going to be picketed by one Fred Phelps.
And I thought the name Fred Phelps rang a bell, so I Googled him -- and sure enough, just as I suspected, this is the same guy who keeps announcing he is bringing hundreds of people to Canada to picket here, there and everywhere against gay rights -- like when Conservative leader Joe Clark led Calgary's gay pride parade in 2001.
Apparently, he showed up in Oklahoma with nine people, mostly from his own family. I think he managed four or five people in Calgary.
So why would any church or any reporter take this guy seriously? The media need to learn to Google these people before they write stories implying that they have any credibility.

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"We've got to get out" say the generals 

Thanks to Antiwar for this link: Rolling Stone - The Generals Speak
It's too bad they didn't speak a little earlier and a lot louder, but here is what they are saying:
"We are losing people at a fairly steady rate of about two a day; wounded, about four or five times that, and perhaps half of these wounds are very serious. And we are also sustaining gunshot wounds, when, before, we'd mostly been seeing massive trauma from remotely detonated charges. This means the other side is standing and fighting in a way that describes a more dangerous phase of the conflict. The people in control in the Pentagon and the White House live in a fantasy world. They actually thought everyone would just line up and vote for a new democracy and you would have a sort of Denmark with oil."- Gen. Merrill "Tony" McPeak, Bush 41's Air Force chief of staff
". . . this is now an insurgency using the techniques of terrorism. With the borders poorly guarded, the terrorists come in. All in all, Iraq is a failure of monumental proportions."- Adm. Stansfield Turner, Carter's CIA director
"The idea of creating a constitutional state in a short amount of time is a joke. It will take ten to fifteen years, and that is if we want to kill ten percent of the population." - Lt. Gen. William Odom, Reagan's National Security Agency director. And by the way, 10 per cent is 250,000 people -- what a mass grave THAT would be.
"To me, it was astonishing that Rumsfeld would presume to tell four-star generals, in the Army thirty-five years, how to do their jobs . . . As he was being briefed on the war plan, he was cherry-picking the units to go. In other words, he didn't just approve the deployment list, he went down the list and skipped certain units that were at a higher degree of readiness to go and picked units that were lower on the list -- for reasons we don't know. But here's the impact: Recently, at an event, a mother told me how her son had been recruited and trained as a cook. Three weeks before he deployed to Iraq, he was told he was now a gunner. And they gave him training for three weeks, and then off he went. Rumsfeld was profoundly in the dark. I think he really didn't understand what he was doing. He miscalculated the kind of war it was and he miscalculated the interpretation of U.S. behavior by the Iraqi people." - Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, Clinton's Army deputy chief of staff for intelligence
"Have you seen an American strategic blunder this large? The answer is: not in fifty years." - Gen. Wesley Clark
"We screwed up. we were intent on a quick victory with smaller forces, and we felt if we had a military victory everything else would fall in place. We would be viewed not as occupiers but as victors. We would draw down to 30,000 people within the first sixty days. All of this was sheer nonsense.They thought that once Iraq fell we'd have a similar effect throughout the Middle East and terrorism would evaporate, blah, blah, blah. All of these were terrible assumptions. A State Department study advising otherwise was sent to Rumsfeld, but he threw it in the wastebasket. He overrode the military and was just plain stubborn on numbers . . . There is not a very good answer for what to do next. We've pulled out of several places without achieving our objectives, and every time we predicted the end of Western civilization, which it was not. We left Korea after not achieving anything we wanted to do, and it didn't hurt us very much. We left Vietnam -- took us ten years to come around to doing it -- but we didn't achieve what we wanted. Everyone said it would set back our foreign policy in East Asia for ten years. It set it back about two months. Our allies thought we were crazy to be in Vietnam. We could have the same thing happen this time in Iraq. If we walk away, we are still the number-one superpower in the world. There will be turmoil in Iraq, and how that will affect our oil supply, I don't know. But the question to ask is: Is what we are achieving in Iraq worth what we're paying? Weighing the good against the bad, we have got to get out."- Adm. William Crowe, Reagan's Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman.
And this was all said BEFORE the Fallujah and Mosul battles.






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No to Bush! demonstrations 

So the CTV news story Presidential visit raises Bush-bashing concerns says that peace groups are already planning to converge on Parliament Hill during Bush's first 'official' visit to Canada at the end of November.
So I searched out the information about what is being planned. Here it is -- under the general title of No to Bush! the Canadian Peace Alliance is organizing the demonstrations in Ottawa on Nov. 30. Wish I could be there in person, but I will be in spirit.

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Still crazy after all these years 

In Salon.com | Bush's night of the long knives Sydney Blumenthal concludes ". . . vindictiveness against the institutions of government based on expertise, evidence and experience is clearing the way for the intellectual standards and cooked conclusions of right-wing think tanks and those appointees who emerge from them. In this strange Soviet Washington, a system of bureaucratic fear and one-party allegiance has been created in which only loyalists are rewarded. Rice stands as the model. One can never be too loyal. And the loyalists compete to outdo each other. Dissonant information is seen as motivated to injure the president -- disloyalty bordering on treason. Success is defined as support for the political line, failure as departure from the line. An atmosphere of personal vendetta and an incentive system for suppressing realities prevail. This is not an administration; it does not administer -- it is a regime. On one of Powell's recent futile diplomatic trips, his informal conversation with reporters turned to a new book, 'The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the Presidency' (where) Powell is quoted as describing the neoconservatives to British Foreign Minister Jack Straw as 'fucking crazies.' That, the reporters suggested, might be an apt title for his next volume of memoirs. Powell laughed uncontrollably."
Sad, isn't it.

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Next year country 

It's always so gratifying when the US media notice something about Canada -- USATODAY.com - Home of CFL player vandalized after loss
This is so embarassing - apparently CNN used it too.
Actually, the egging incident wasn't a typical reaction from Saskatchewanians -- if you were listening closely from, say, Montana or Alberta on Sunday, you would have heard a whole province scream "Oh, shit" as the field goal kick sailed wide, and then, in chorus, "Well, we'll do it next year."
We often describe ourselves as "next year country" here in Saskatchewan -- we should have used this slogan on our license plates, instead of the insipid and creepy "Land of Living Skies" which was chosen after a contest and which always, for me, brings to mind some sort of mist-shrouded monster striding over the landscape a la Stephen King.
Anyway, go Riders go -- we're with you, boys, and you gave us a great season even though it was prematurely cut off. I guess if I can't root for the Riders in the Grey Cup, I'll root for the Lions instead.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The shallow meaning 

Chris Matthews talks about Powell's resignation in Power shifting in the president's cabinet?.
I continue to be amused by media pundit thinking in the US -- they actually think the Bush administration is just like all of the other administrations in US history, where the president was a person who actually had a plan, a purpose and a policy. And they keep trying to find deeply meaningful interpretations of Bush administration actions. Matthews says "The real power in this administration lies between the president and the vice president. . . . Will George W. Bush relieve Dick Cheney of some of his enormous power and give it to a secretary of state? . . . I think there's going to be some power shifting and not just name changing. And the one to watch here is the vice president. Will George W. Bush continue to allow the public perception that he has almost a co-president in Dick Cheney? Or will he say that it's time (to) govern without a chief counsel?"
Now, isn't that just silly? Matthews has been listening too much to Pat Buchanan-- who actually thought that Bush was going to get rid of all the neocons right after the election - ha!
Does George Bush worry that Dick Cheney is running US foreign policy? Not in the least. Does Bush even care about what that policy is? Not at all. Bush only wants someone to tell him that that "freedom is on the march" and he's happy as a clam. He once described Condi Rice as "a fabulous lady", which is the kind of terminology parents use to describe their child's kindergarden teacher, not the way presidents usually describe their National Security Advisor.
With Rice as Secretary of State, Cheney is happy as a clam, too. Unlike that spoilsport Powell, Rice will never tell Bush or Cheney or Rumsfeld that they are wrong about anything, ever. And acquiesence is the only thing which makes anyone fabulous in this administration.

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Monday, November 15, 2004

Feeling a blog chill? 

On last Friday's Hardball, I caught the end of this exchange between Joe Trippi and Susan Molinari, described as a Republican strategist, talking about the blogger assertions that Kerry had actually won the election. I have been waiting for the transcript I've so I could check on whether I heard what I thought I heard.
Here is the key exchange:
SUSAN MOLINARI: Well, obviously, blogging has to be taken for what it is, with all due respect to Joe Trippi. It is an opportunity for people to carry on without any consequence to their actions and what they allege. . . this is just, I think, a distraction. And every vote should be counted. But, clearly, there are places all over the United States where the Republican votes are not counted . . .
TRIPPI: Susan, I'm not disagreeing with you. What I'm saying is that . . . when a conspiracy theory takes hold and starts rolling, there is a responsibility, then, for the press and for the officials to prove it wrong. And that's what I think is healthy about this process. .
MOLINARI: Absolutely. And I don‘t disagree with you on that point. I guess, just somewhere in the future, we have to find in this brave new world of ours, who holds the bloggers accountable? Or are we allowed to, at any moment‘s notice, go off on this venture and say, right, not right? Or, to Chris‘s point, when do you say, oh, I guess I was wrong, I‘m sorry, a la Election Day exit polling. That was sort of thrown all over the universe on blogs. . . .
TRIPPI: . . I think the blogs did a good thing here. And I think it‘s good that we‘re having this recount. I don‘t think it should go on. I don‘t think there should be recriminations and divisions after it is over. But I think it was healthy that the blogs began this. I actually think this speaks more towards what is the press‘ responsibility and the two parties‘ responsibility to ensure that these issues get carried out, because it wouldn‘t have been done. This would not have been followed up on if the blogs hadn‘t brought it out.
End of the transcript.
Now, this was not an unreasonable exchange of views, and all that.
But here are the lines that bothered me, both from the Republican:
"It is an opportunity for people to carry on without any consequence to their actions and what they allege" and "who holds the bloggers accountable? Or are we allowed to, at any moment‘s notice, go off on this venture . . ."
So I wonder, are the republicans actually beginning to think about ways they can "hold bloggers accountable?"
Or is this just another conspiracy theory?

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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Clearly, it is racism and it is systemic 

Buzzflash pointed me to Greg Palast's article on the large number of "spoiled" ballots and provisional ballots from black precincts in Ohio -- Kerry won Ohio - just count the ballots at the back of the bus -- as well as the high numbers of such ballots in hispanic and Native precincts in New Mexico. Clearly, this is racism, and it is systemic -- the term "systemic" means that an apparently "neutral" procedure is actually racist in its result. Women have identified and fought systemic discrimination for years in areas like "minimum height" requirements for police and fire departments. Now, blacks are seeing this kind of discrimination in US voting regulations and procedures.
Palast notes the Republican "caging" strategy whereby they developed lists of hundreds of people in black precincts to challenge, thereby forcing them to cast "provisional" ballots which then would not be counted due to technicalities.
Ohio also refused to purchase card reading machines in black precincts, so voters could not check to make sure their punch card ballot would count. The result was almost 100,000 "spoiled" ballots -- this is clearly also systemic racism.
No wonder the exit polls showed Kerry winning in Ohio -- black people emerged from their polling stations and said yes, they had voted for Kerry -- little did they know that their vote would not be counted.
By the way, I have scrutineered and poll captained a number of elections in Canada, and the number of "spoiled" ballots in our polls you could count on one hand -- we have this little thing called national standards, you see.

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Friday, November 12, 2004

Making a list; checking it twice 

In a recent post on the culture wars, Digbywrote: "This is the same old shit over and over and over again. We backed off on the death penalty, gun control, welfare, affirmative action and here we are with a new slate of issues about gays. Tomorrow it will be creationism."
I have been thinking about this post and realized that Digby's list is sadly incomplete.
As well as instituting the death penalty throughout the US, overturning all gun control legislation, ending welfare, criminalizing homosexuality and mandating the teaching of creation science, there are lots of other actions which Bush voters should now be demanding to save the godless heathens in the US from certain hellfire and create a properly Christian, god-fearing, moral society:
criminalizing abortion including the morning after pill, outlawing sex education, preventing teenagers from getting birth control, permitting (nay, requiring!) prayer in schools, supporting Christian private schools, establishing a religious litmus test for adoption and for child endangerment apprehensions, preventing the removal of medical life support, outawing stem cell research, ending habeus corpus for anyone accused of terrorism, allowing evidence to be used in court regardless of whether it was legally obtained, preventing courts from overturning legislation, outlawing pornography, censoring TV and movies and music, building monuments to the Ten Commandments in all courthouses . . .

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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Remembering a war nurse 

Read A colourful chronicle of nurses' heroism .
My aunt was a war nurse in Italy -- she died when I was 16 or 17, and I don't remember ever asking her about her war experiences. She was one of the thousands of women who never married after World War II -- the family legend was that the soldier she would have married died in Italy.
Reading this story, I have no idea whether my aunt may have been one of the brave nurses on that transport ship. But maybe she was. I admire the Globe for tracking down these stories and for bringing credit to all of the Canadians in the Italian campaign -- lest we forget.

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Flabby fist 

So I heard a bit of Scott Taylor'sinterview on John Gormley Live yesterday -- Taylor, who edits Esprit de Corps magazine, survived five days as a hostage in Iraq in September.
He described Fallujah as "the Alamo" for Iraqis -- regardless of whether the US wins its offensive there, the city will remain a symbol of Iraq resistance, and the more destruction the greater its symbolic value.
Then today I read James Wolcott's piece
On Borrowed Time about the hollow core of the so-called American empire: "the US can no longer back up the big mouths of its leaders. If America chooses to go it alone in future conflicts, it'll be because it has no choice."
He goes on to quote from Emmanuel Todd's After the Empire:
"Todd, a French demographer and author of a book correctly foreseeing the fall of the Soviet Union, says the US has become a "big little bully" incapable of picking on anyone its own size. It makes a show of force attacking the weak--dirtpoor countries with no air defences, such as Iraq and Afghanistan--because a "show" is precisely what it is. "These conflicts that represent little or no military risk allow the United States to be 'present' throughout the world. The United States works to maintain the illusory fiction of the world as a dangerous place in need of America's protection." Problem is, the fiction is only fooling Americans. The rest of the world has wised up. Todd points out that Germany, Russia, France, and even Turkey declined to join our great adventure in Iraq, and guess what?--nothing happened! Apart from sappy boycotts and juvenile gestures ("freedom fries"), they went unpunished. . . "We should not follow America's military leaders for whom the term 'theater of operations' has ceased being a metaphor. Fighting alongside the Americans in Iraq would only amount to playing a small role in a bloody vaudeville show." . . . The US assault on Fallujah is a prime example of what Todd calls "theatrical micromilitarism.". . . For months the US has been touting this incursion and publicly built up forces outside the city for weeks, giving the enemy plenty of time to rig explosives and/or skip town. Billing it as a "decisive battle"--another fraud. Guerrilla warfare operates on an entirely different set of rules; as has been oft pointed out, America won every major battle during Vietnam and still lost. What's unfolding is not a decisive moment but a ghastly production that trains hellfire on a symbolic target and "plays well" to American citizens as a flex of muscle . . . Civilian casualties, the destruction of homes and livelihoods, the absence of any significant capture of insurgent ringleaders, these are secondary to getting good action footage over which benedictions can be said. Under a second Bush term, the neocons are more entrenched and missile-rattling than ever, eyeing Iran, Syria, even China. But the fist they shake at the world is a flabby one, as the world has somberly, resentfully come to recognize. "As for George W. Bush and his neoconservative helpers, they will go down in history as the grave diggers of the American empire."


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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The gay drain is Canada's gain 

This is great - bring it on.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Voting fraud? But so what? 

Olbermann remains commited to covering the voting fraud story, I hope.
Because what I cannot figure out yet in reading the internet stories on the voting problems is this: did the overvotes give Bush Ohio and Florida? Or not?
This is the "so what?" part of the story that we haven't reached yet.
There are two mutually-exclusive story lines here.
The right-wing blogs seem convinced that the voting fraud stories prove their belief that those low-down dirty Democrats tried to steal the election by signing up fraudulent voters who would vote illegally for Kerry. It was this belief that they used to justify the harrasment and intimidation and attempted disqualifications before and during the election; now they think it explains the overvote counties in Ohio. It also, for them, confirms their inner conviction that patriotic Americans simply couldn't have voted for Kerry.
The progressive blogs, on the other hand, are convinced that the fraud stories prove their assertion that electronic voting machines, particularly the optical scan vote counters, were rigged so republicans could steal the election for Bush. This also supports the long-standing fears about Diebold, whose CEO famously promised to deliver Ohio for Bush. And again, it confirms the inner conviction that sensible Americans simply couldn't have voted for Bush.
Of course, I tend to believe the progressive blogs are correct, while the right-wingers are wrong.
But what is missing so far in both storylines is actual human testimony -- someone coming forward to say, yes I registered a bunch of phoney democrats, or yes, I programmed a vote-counting computer to triple-count the Bush votes. And I cannot find yet a summary or analysis of who actually got the votes -- were the 93,000 Ohio overvotes credited to Bush? Or to Kerry? Did the disproportionate Bush votes in heavily Democratic Florida counties actually make the difference in turning Florida, or was there a sufficient margin in the rest of the state to render these votes meaningless anyway?
I disagree with Digby, who says the overall 3-million vote margin likely provides sufficient legitimacy to Bush's presidency -- it DOES matter who actually won the electoral college.

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See what I meant about anger? 

Fuck the South "Take your liberal-bashing, federal-tax-leaching, confederate-flag-waving, holier-than-thou, hypocritical bullshit and shove it up your ass. And no, you can't have your convention in New York next time. Fuck off."

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The politics of grievance 

When you look at the history of the last fifty years, the politics of grievance has been one of the most destructive forces in the world -- from Northern Ireland to Zimbabwe, from the Basques to the Palestinians, from Chechnya to Venezuela, tribal grievances motivate apparently endless cycles of outrage and retaliation.
Now Digby describes the 200-year-old sense of grievance held by the Southern US, which he says can only be dealt with by changing their own culture, not the so-called northern one: "maybe it's time for the heartland to take a good hard look at itself and ask when they are going to adopt the culture of responsibility they profess with such fervor. It sure looks to me as if they've been nursing a case of historical pique for more than 200 years and that resentment no longer has any more meaning than a somewhat self-destructive insistence on maintaining a cultural identity that's really defined by it's anger toward the rest of the country. They are talking themselves into a theocratic police state in order to "crack the whip over the heads of the northern men" and it's not likely to work out for them any better this time than it did the first time."
I was reading this to my husband and we both said "what does this remind us of" and the answer was "Quebec, and The West".
Quebec has an historical sense of grievance with "English" Canada, and Western Canada has a long-standing grievance with "the East"; both are mutally incompatible, and basically irrational; both have plagued Canadian politics for two centuries.
Two things have saved Canada from being split apart (at least so far) by the politics of grievance:
In Quebec, its educational system (the Jesuit Catholic tradition) has produced generations of brilliant politicians who have served Canada and Quebec well. I regret that some, like Rene Levesque and Lucien Bouchard and now Jean Charest, were "lost" to Canada because they turned away from Canadian politics and devoted their brilliance and considerable energies to Quebec itself. Levesque and Bouchard were separatists, but such principled men that they would not lie or cheat or steal in order to take their province out of confederation. Others like Pierre Trudeau and Marc Lalonde and Jean Chretien ran the federal government for decades and made it their goal to promote the federalist cause in Quebec. But both groups were deep thinkers and good strategists and have served Canada well.
In the West, we have had a number of anti-eastern/pro-western political parties over the years, and lots of alientation talk, but never enough to unite the four western provinces sufficiently to achieve separation -- an accident of geography, perhaps, because the Rocky Mountains will always separate BC from the Prairies psychologically as well as physically. Only occasionally in the last 50 years have the western-oriented Conservatives been able to get enough federal votes in Quebec and Ontario to form the government, but it happens often enough that they have not given up hope.
I have confidence that Canada's regional differences are becoming less divisive -- the separatist cause appears to be less attractive in Quebec as Canadian society increasingly accepts Quebec's distinct status, and "western alienation" doesn't seem to be grabbing headlines the way it once did either. Perhaps each region in our country is maturing politically -- accepting responsibility, as Digby recommends, for our own situations rather than playing self-indulgent and self-destructive blame games. Now, if we could only get Danny Williams and Ralph Klein to stop walking out of meetings in a huff . . .

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Monday, November 08, 2004

Oh, great! 

Atrios points to this article in the Financial Times Dollar expected to fall amid China's rumoured selling -- and wouldn't this be just ducky for us all. The Canadian dollar rose again against the US dollar last week; looks like it will go up further. While this is good news for Canadian snow birds, its not so great for our exporters. And if American interest rates go up, so will ours.
I wonder if this relates to the intense and unexpected criticism of the war in Iraq from former vice-premier and former longtime Chinese foreign minister Qian Qichen. In an article from China Daily published just before the election, Qichen wrote that America's anti-terror campaign "has already gone beyond the scope of self-defence. And these latest moves, when seen with the background of the Gulf War and the Kosovo War, have made it obvious that the United States has not changed its Cold War mentality and that the country is still accustomed to applying military means to deal with various threats, visible or invisible. The philosophy of the "Bush Doctrine" is in essence force. It advocates the United States should rule over the whole world with overwhelming force, military force in particular." With the war in Iraq "Washington has opened a Pandora's box, intensifying various intermingled conflicts, such as ethnic and religious ones . . the current US predicament in Iraq serves as another example that when a country's superiority psychology inflates beyond its real capability, a lot of trouble can be caused. But the troubles and disasters the United States has met do not stem from threats by others, but from its own cocksureness and arrogance. The 21st century is not the "American Century." That does not mean that the United States does not want the dream. Rather, it is incapable of realizing the goal. In this century, all big powers should compete in a peaceful way, instead of military means."
Though the Chinese government distanced itself somewhat from these remarks, things got a little tense with China and with Taiwan during Powell's late October visit.
And, of course, once again there seemd to be complicated relationships between the Bush family and various Asian businespeople, as shown in this article from last year.


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Sunday, November 07, 2004

Hillary vs Jeb 

Wouldn't that just be a spectacle?
There's all sorts of stuff on the blogosphere about how Hillary shouldn't run in 2008 and how Jeb has said he wouldn't run, and Josh Marshall has a post about how such a matchup would be too much.
But after thinking about the 2004 results and the reasons for them, I think this would be terrific -- the ultimate political version of Dynasty!
Commentators on this election are already saying that too many people in the US now think of presidential elections as just another reality TV show, where the main issue becomes whether they "like" or "trust" a candidate, with no relation to what that candidate actually says or stands for, that most Bush voters had mixed up Kerry's policies. Well, so what -- if so many people are ignorant, maybe ignorance is the new paradigm. Hillary could use "Stand by your man" as a campaign song -- she could blandly ignore all of the Whitewater attack stuff, and all of the right wing talk show hosts blathering on and on about it throughout the entire campaign would just mystify their listeners. As for Jeb, well, he would be burdened with every single bad decision ever made by the senior bushes.
And we'll have fun, fun, fun . . .

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Counter-Inaugural on Jan 20 

A counter-inaugural protest is being organized by ANSWER and Dont Amend and likely a number of other groups. I wonder if Michael Moore will once again be the only media there?

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Reading the tea leaves on weapons in space 

The Arms Control Association November newsletter contains several ariticles about weapons in space, a great concern of Canada given the US pressure to sign on to the missle defense system.
Centre for Defense Information missile proliferation expert Theresa Hitchins writes about recent US space weapons policy, and finds cause for concern: "Officially, the National Space Policy promulgated by President Bill Clinton in 1996 still stands, a policy that had previously been interpreted as eschewing the deployment of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons and weapons in orbit, reflecting more than 40 years of informal restraint both by Republican and Democratic administrations . . . Meanwhile, there has been a steady trickle of lower-level military planning and doctrine documents that seem to codify U.S. intentions to develop, deploy, and eventually use space weapons. The most recent is the Air Force’s Aug. 2 “Counterspace Operations Doctrine.” This precedent-setting document outlines Air Force guidelines for conducting ASAT operations, possibly pre-emptively, against satellite systems being used by enemies, whether they be dedicated military satellites; those with primarily commercial functions; or those owned and/or operated by third parties, whether governments or commercial entities . . . One possible conclusion from reading the tea leaves, however, is that the White House and Pentagon are engaged in a clever political effort to avoid a controversial public argument on space weapons by reinterpreting Clinton-era policy or practice behind closed doors, that is, to reorient U.S. space policy in secret . . . the Clinton policy . . . stresses the peaceful uses of space and downplays military applications, it also leaves the door open for the employment of ASATs for national security reasons . . . Although vague, the 1996 policy was widely interpreted at the time as stressing a deterrent approach, while refraining from any first deployment of ASAT systems or space-based weapons for striking targets on earth . . . the Clinton administration was viewed as politically hostile even to the development of space weapons, particularly those that could be seen as having offensive attributes. Clinton canceled a number of research and development programs . . . the Bush administration has allowed a wide array of space weapons-related technology developments to go forward at the Pentagon. . . . The most recent Air Force planning document, the “Strategic Master Plan for FY 06 and Beyond” published in October 2003, maintains that national space policy actually requires the development and “deployment as needed” of “negation” capabilities to counter enemy space assets. It goes on seemingly to move the goalposts on when a presidential decision would be required. Although the Clinton policy can be read as requiring a presidential approval for deployment, the Air Force now insists presidential approval is not required for deployment but only to approve actual use of ASAT systems . . . With regard to space-based strike weapons, rather than repeat the Long Range Plan’s assertion that such systems are “not consistent with national policy,” the Strategic Master Plan states that such weapons are allowable under international law but that “our nation’s leadership will decide whether or not to pursue the development and deployment.” . . . As a unilateral move by the United States to deploy space weapons would come fraught with a variety of risks to national and global security, it is about time there was a public debate."
(Thanks to Antiwar for the link that led me to this site.)

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Saturday, November 06, 2004

"the most horrific event I have ever seen" 

In I, Cringely, journalist Robert X. Cringely compares the strength of belief in America and in the Middle East with this story (thanks to pandagon for the link):
"If the experts are correct, the 2004 election results mean we now live in a country where morality is apparently the major concern of people. Am I wrong, or is the same thing not true in Iran? And if our morality is in fundamental conflict with their morality, which side will be willing to sacrifice more to obtain what they view as their just end? I can tell you it ain't us.
Back in 1986 [reporting in Iran] I decided to go see the war since I had . . . never seen trench warfare, which is what I was told they had going in Iran. So I took a taxi to the front, introduced myself to the local commander, who had gone, as I recall, to Iowa State, and spent a couple days waiting for the impending human wave attack. That attack was to be conducted primarily with 11-and 12-year-old boys as troops, nearly all of them unarmed. There were several thousand kids and their job was to rise out of the trench, praising Allah, run across No Man's Land, be killed by the Iraqi machine gunners, then go directly to Paradise, do not pass GO, do not collect 200 dinars. And that's exactly what happened in a battle lasting less than 10 minutes. None of the kids fired a shot or made it all the way to the other side. And when I asked the purpose of this exercise, I was told it was to demoralize the cowardly Iraqi soldiers. It was the most horrific event I have ever seen, and I once covered a cholera epidemic in Bangladesh that killed 40,000 people. Waiting those two nights for the attack was surreal. Some kids acted as though nothing was wrong while others cried and puked. But when the time came to praise Allah and enter Paradise, not a single boy tried to stay behind. Now put this in a current context. What effective limit is there to the number of Islamic kids willing to blow themselves to bits? There is no limit, which means that a Bush Doctrine can't really stand in that part of the world. But of course President Bush, who may think he pulled the switch on a couple hundred Death Row inmates in Texas, has probably never seen a combat death. He doesn't get it and he'll proudly NEVER get it. Welcome to the New Morality."

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Come to Saskatchewan! 

For Americans who are thinking about Canada, here's some useful information and links.
Saskatchewan is my own province (we are next door to Alberta, north of Montana, if you aren't familiar with Canadian geography). We have an Immigrant Nominee program described here - SINP Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program for skilled workers and professionals, health professionals, business people, students, and farm operators. The Canadian immigration website is here where you can get links to other provinces and general information about immigration.
Tooting our own horn, Saskatchewan is a great province, and Saskatoon is a great city. In all, the provincial population is about one million -- we have two main cities of over 200,000 each, Regina and Saskatoon, plus a number of smaller cities like Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, North Battleford, Lloydminster.
Politically, Saskatchewan has been left-of-centre for much of the last 60 years -- the CCF (now NDP) government was first elected here in the 40s, a consortium of farmers and unions who believe, basically, that collective action supports individual initiative. Our CCF government pioneered North America's first Medicare program, in the 60s -- what an inspiring story that is, and a concrete example of how political leaders used to feel that their religious beliefs should support social justice. (Our NDP premier now, Lorne Calvert, is actually an ordained minister, but we don't hold that against him!)
Saskatoon is a beautiful city too -- we have a world-class university with about 20,000 students, including Canada's synchrotron research facility and a broad collection of professional colleges, plus potash mining and various high-tech businesses. Around the province, Regina also has a university of about 15,000 students, and we have various other resource-based industries, like the heavy oil upgrader in Lloydminster.
Come for a visit, at least -- if you liked John Kerry, we think you will like us!

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Comedy Carolyn 

There's a scene in every teenage horror movie that has one of the teenagers - usually the goofy comedian in the group - capering around laughing about how dumb they all were to be afraid of the supposedly-dead monster and how harmless the monster is now. And meanwhile in the background the monster is slowly coming back to life. As the music swells, the comedian's companions stop laughing and gradually adopt a horror-struck look and finally, the comedian says something like "hey, what's wrong? What are you guys looking at?" He turns around and --cue the music, eek! eek! eek! -- the monster strikes again!
I am reminded of this scene when I read about Carolyn Parrish insisting on her right to make cute remarks about George Bush -- Parrish earns PM's censure -- with Paul Martin and the rest of the Liberal cabinet adopting the demeanor of the horror-struck friends.

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Friday, November 05, 2004

Straight but not narrow 

Its impressive how quickly Canadian society has changed.
Today, Saskatchewan became the seventh province to legalize gay marriage. Such a great day! And Saskatchewan as a whole has no problem with it - we're just waiting for some of the churches to catch up. Just last week, the Anglican bishop in Saskatoon found out that two gay choirs were planning a concert in an Anglican church -- someone complained about it, apparently. So instead of telling the complainants to get with the 21st century, the Bishop cancelled the concert.
Well, reaction was pretty swift and pretty negative -- just see this column by Star Phoenix features editor Joanne Paulson who blasted him all over the front page of the Lifestyles section. She writes:
"St. John's and other churches are hiding behind the scriptures -- really the Old Testament -- and using them to discriminate against people. The OT was also against adultery, incest and forced sex, and rightly so. But those are behavioural choices. Homosexuality is not. Neither is it a "lifestyle." Gay and lesbian people are just that, people with a different sexual orientation. They are Caucasian or African or Asian; they have various personalities, some outgoing, some quiet; they are devout Christians or Muslims or Buddhists; they are artists and accountants; they are singers and clergy. The single thing that sets them apart from heterosexuals is that some churches (and segments of society) are still discriminating against them . . . [continuing, she quotes the priest of an Anglican anti-gay splinter group] he said, "Blessing same-sex unions is the same as giving blessings to adulterous affairs and all other kinds of immoral living." It is not the same. Immoral living includes bringing AIDS or Hep C home to your family after visiting prostitutes. Immoral living includes forcing sex or perpetrating violence on anyone. Immoral living, if you want to be biblical, is largely warned against in the Ten Commandments, which you will notice do not mention homosexuality. Marrying someone you love, regardless of his or her gender, is not an immoral act. Neither is singing in a church. The blindness of segments of the Anglican Church on this issue is indefensible."

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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Here's the new map 

Thanks to Eblog Canada for the link to this New Canadian Map with our four new provinces: New America, Mini-Willinois, Baja Canada, and the Tropic of Canada, all sitting safely north of the United State of Texas.

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Justifiable Anger 

As I troll around the blogosphere tonight, I see lots of articles on Kos and MyDD about how the dems can develop a winning strategy the next time by building an organization like the republicans did in the 80s and 90s. "Liberal" won't be an epithet anymore. And yes, this is certainly possible.
If they have time to do it.
I also see one emotion over and over on the blogs tonight -- anger. Pure, simple anger. It's in frogsdong and digby and Americablog and Gadflyer (which I just added to my links) and lots of others. It is anger against the Americans who voted for the Bush administration.
Here is Janet Sullivan in Salon:
"[The media have] dusted off the old theme that the Democrats need to "reach out" more to the "heartland." Reach out? How, exactly? Forget that these folks blindly ignored all objective reality -- and their own best economic and national-security interests -- and voted for Bush. Look what they did at the Senate level. In Kentucky, they refused to use even basic sanity as a litmus test, and reelected a guy with apparent late-stage dementia; in Oklahoma, they tapped a fellow who wants to execute doctors who perform abortions, who was sued for sterilizing a woman against her will, who pled guilty to Medicaid fraud, and who largely opposes federal subsidies, even for his own state; in Louisiana, they embraced a man who has made back-door deals with David Duke and who was revealed to have had a long-running affair with a prostitute; in South Carolina, they went with a guy who thinks all gay teachers should be fired; and in Alaska, they reelected a woman who was appointed by her father to the job after a spectacularly undistinguished career as an obscure state senator. And compared with the rest of the GOP Class of '04, she's the freaking prom queen. These are the stellar elected officials that the "heartland" has foisted on the rest of us. "Reach out" to these voters? Yeah. Then boil your hand till it's sterilized. "
Because this actually was the most important election America has ever had - this democratic meme was true. The progressives are going to try to get back to business, but with faith-based Bush and his administration remaining in the White House plus these regressive idiots in the Senate and the House, the future of America is grim.
Here's my point: America has lots of natural advantages which were the basis of its 20th century empire -- moderate climates for substantial food production, sufficient water and rainfall in most of the country, broad industrial and economic development, relatively cheap sources of energy and power, lots of universities for scientific advancement, stable governance, protection from war by its geography. All this has produced a generally happy and productive and proud citizenry. (And we Canadians have benefited right along side you, too -- our climate not as good, our industry not as big, nor our population, but we've done pretty well being next to you.)
But - one could have said much the same about the natural advantages of the Egyptians in 1000 BC, or the Romans in 40 AD, or even the British in 1900. They were all the Kings of the World at that time.
They lost their empires by their own bad choices -- fighting wars, amassing unsustainable debt, leading to unemployment and poverty and economic decline.
By voting for ignorant, intolerant, mean-spirited, regressive politicians, Americans have taken a path which may ruin their beloved country. By the time the dems get organized again, wars and debt and pollution and unemployment may have so destroyed the economy that the downward spiral is irreversible. Historians of the late 21st century may well mark 2004 as the beginning of the end of the American Empire.
So the anger is, I think, justified.

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Oh, lets have a laugh on all those loser dems! 

I presume that The Note thinks the nation's news media will find this funny -- ABC News: The Note:
"Friday, November 19: Exclusive: Shrum's first draft of the Kerry Senate floor speech in which he announces his co-sponsorship of the President's new multibillion-dollar request for more military spending in Iraq WITH NO TAX INCREASE OFF-SETS, because those, Sen. Kerry will intone, 'could cut off the economic vitality that is so needed to be as strong at home as we are abroad under this President's great leadership and (Note: the following is an adlib that does not appear in the Shrum text) who among us does not love economic vitality?' "
See, its such a clever play off Kerry's supposed quote 'who among us does not love Nascar', which Maureen Dowd made up and attributed to Kerry. Ha, ha, ha. And then there's this one:
"Monday, November 22: Behind the scenes at America Coming Together --who has stolen which data bases and lists and what do they plan to do with them?"
Oh, isn't it just too funny? Let's all have a good laugh about sky-high deficits and republican dirty tricks and all that stupid stuff the dems were so worried about. We're all in Bushworld now, where those things don't matter one bit. What, me worry? Ha, ha, ha.
Well, I guess we can give up any hope that the media, at least, would take a serious look at who won and why and what it means for the United States. Too busy laughing all the way to the bank, I guess.

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And pardon my ignorance 

that "moral values" were so important to Republican voters -- I think it was all the blog comments and freeper posts telling progressive bloggers to "fuck off and die, you commie French-loving lesbo homo bitch asshole" that mislead me. Either that, or Cheney's "go fuck yourself" remark. My mistake. . .
UPDATE - see Digby - in essence, he says it was 130,000 votes in Ohio that won Bush this election, NOT a cultural war between godless democrats and morally superior republicans. And it was mean-spirited, underhanded gay-bashing that produced those 130,000 votes, NOT Christian values.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Moral Mandate? Here it comes 

That great upholder of national decency, as long as it doesn't happen in Vegas, Bill Bennet writes today in the National Review Online: "Having restored decency to the White House, President Bush now has a mandate to affect policy that will promote a more decent society, through both politics and law. His supporters want that, and have given him a mandate in their popular and electoral votes to see to it. Now is the time to begin our long, national cultural renewal -- no less in legislation than in federal court appointments. It is, after all, the main reason George W. Bush was reelected."
And when they succeed in overturning Roe V Wade, and requiring the teaching of 'creationist science', and saying the Lord's Prayer in schools, and mandating Christmas creche displays, and preventing the broadcast of critical movies and MTV, and outlawing porn and being gay, will America be a more "decent" place?
Has anyone read The Handmaid's Tale recently?
(Thanks to Josh Marshall for the link.)

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Dean for America 

Howard Dean could probably claim the title of most disappointed man in America -- after a primary campaign that jump-started the DNC and inspired millions of democrats to rejoin the democratic wing of the democratic party, he lost the nomination to Kerry -- then watched Kerry lose an election which, likely, Dean is personally convinced he could have won (and won't THAT be a debate for the future?)
But Dean still writes a message of hope on Democracy For America:
"Today is not an ending.
Regardless of the outcome yesterday, we have begun to revive our democracy. While we did not get the result we wanted in the presidential race, we laid the groundwork for a new generation of Democratic leaders.
Democracy for America trained thousands of organizers and brought new leadership into the political process. And down the ballot, in state after state, we elected Dean Dozen candidates who will be the rising stars of the Democratic Party in years ahead.
Tens of millions of us are disappointed today because we put so much of ourselves into this election. We donated money, we talked to friends, we knocked on doors. We invested ourselves in the political process.
That process does not end today. These are not short-term investments. We will only create lasting change if that sense of obligation and responsibility becomes a permanent part of our lives.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.'
We will not be silent. "

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Some random thoughts 

1. Oh, damn it, damn it, damn it.
2. When you look at the experience of democracies around the world, it is not uncommon for political parties to spend years and years in the wilderness before coming back to power -- look at Labour in Britain, look at the NDP here. It ebbs and flows. The 2000 and 2004 election were both so close that democrats know their message resonates with millions and millions of northern and west coast Americans -- the dems just haven't been able to close the deal by winning a southern state. Edwards should have carried North Carolina but he didn't; Gore should have carried Tennessee but he didn't. The democratic candidate in 2007 and/or his running mate will win the northern states again but MUST also be strong enough and well-enough connected in the south to win a southern state.

3. One lesson learned: a northeastern senator or any perceived Washington insider CANNOT win the presidency anymore, not with the population shifts and the southern evangelical vote, and not dragging a senate record behind him. Next time, look for a southern governor. And be ready for rapid response on personal attacks.
4. Get serious early, for heavens sake -- exercise enough party discipline that you do NOT have four or five absolutely hopeless candidates running month after month for the nomination -- Al Sharpton? Carol Mosely-Braun? Give me a break. Nice people, yes, but with such a lengthy primary season, its irresponsible for people who have no chance of winning nationally to use the democrats just as a stepping stone toward their own national reputation. It made the democrats look confused and trivial, and made it more difficult for Kerry to establish a national profile. Let two or three credible winners fight it out in 2007 and show the country that the dems know how to lead.
5. Yes, Obama is impressive, but in 2007 he would suffer from the same problems Edwards had - a great speaking ability but only three years senate experience, and no experience running a government. Against Jeb Bush or Arnie, Obama would be toast. The dems cannot afford to lose Obama the way they have now lost Edwards.
6. And finally, well, at least the anti-war movement can come back now. Showing commendable discipline, anti-war people shut up about it for the last six months, not wanting to cause any rifts in the Kerry campaign and also believing that perhaps Kerry, once elected, could actually achieve some success in Iraq -- but that's all in the past now. We KNOW that Bush cannot succeed in Iraq, so we are free to blog against the war once again.
UPDATE - 7. Read Digby

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Can you spell "backfire"? 

This confirms my own thinking, so of course I'll post it. pandagon's Jesse Taylor reports on the voting experience in a primarily black precinct and concludes: "The Republican voter challenger debacle, alongside the Milwaukee and South Carolina flyers, may be the worst conservative strategic blunder of any election in recent memory. From my precinct (an admittedly small sample), a lot of people feel like they're back in the 60s, fighting against a tyrannical and prejudiced power trying to keep them from exercising their constitutional rights."
The republican meme -- that everybody really loves George but democrats are trying to steal this election by fraudulent voting -- is an insult to all of the election supervisors and poll workers who are working their guts out today all over the US. I know how hard it is, because I've worked elections. And I know how dedicated and professional the poll workers are.
OF COURSE there are errors in the voters lists -- without a system of pre-election ennumeration like we have here in Canada, there is no way to tell how many people have died, moved, married, divorced since the previous election, and a system which allows private individuals paid per-voter to register people for voting encourages the Mickey and Minnie Mouse type of registrations. But the poll workers sort this type of thing out -- that's what they are being paid to do.
That meme is also a cover for what appears to be a deliberate, targeted attempt to block black and hispanic voting by intimidating and harassing legitimate voters -- and that is truely despicable, not to mention horrifying to the moderate middle who MIGHT have voted for Bush this time but now will not. The republicans will rue the day they ever let Rove talk them into this.

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Monday, November 01, 2004

"Avoid history at all costs" 

Gary Kamiya wrote a prescient article just prior to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, entitled Sleepwalking to Baghdad: ". . . we have gone from being in a political moment to a historical one. I use the words somewhat eccentrically, to distinguish between events that are simple enough to be fully explicable ("political") and those that are too complex to be defined ("historical"). The war against Afghanistan took place in what I am calling the political realm: It had a clear, limited and achievable goal, one understood by all -- and widely supported around the world. The impending war against Iraq, on the other hand, is a historical event. It cannot be explained or defined. When it comes, it will simply exist, with the opacity of history. Its outcome is not foreseeable. The distinction also has a moral dimension. To exist in history is to have passed beyond the pieties and slogans of the political. History is tragic: politics is not. History is glorious. It is also fatal. The two great competing ideologies of the 20th century, fascism and communism, were both self-consciously historical movements. As Czeslaw Milosz brilliantly noted in his classic study "The Captive Mind," it was precisely the abstraction of communism, its claim to have attained the summit of morality and to have incorporated into itself all possible contradictions, that made it so meticulously horrifying. In similar fashion, fascism contained a kind of blankness at its core: the self-glorifying violence of the state simultaneously concealed and revealed the emptiness of its founding concept, the national tribe. The lesson every government should have learned from the bloody 20th century, one written in blood across the tortured soil of old, very old Europe, is very simple: Avoid history at all costs. History is too big, too abstract, too dangerous. Avoid men with Big Ideas -- especially stupid men with Big Ideas. Take care of politics: let history take care of itself. In a word, don't play God."
Well, they didn't let history take care of itself, and Bush did play God. Now Kamiya writes about the results: American nightmare. He concludes "A pious, foolish and poorly educated man, surrounded by zealots and knaves, dreamed of smiting the evildoers, but instead put a sword into their hands. He imagined that by invading a state in the heart of the Arab world, he would cut through the Gordian knot, but he entangled his army in writhing coils. He fantasized that an all-powerful America would stand atop a grateful world, but he made his nation despised everywhere, and particularly in the one region of the world where it is most important that we not be despised. This is the world Bush left us. We must make a new one."

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Kerry - EV 290 

Well, here's the CathiefromCanada prediction. Not mathematically precise, I know, but I think it will be 290 or higher for Kerry.
Today's electoral vote predictor has Kerry at 298, not including New Mexico.
I was talking today with an American professor who had voted absentee and was worried that Kerry hadn't "closed the deal". Well, its always easier to vote for someone who is 60-40 rather than 48-48, of course -- but I remembered something that either Churchill or Eisenhower said before D-Day -- that the chance of D-Day success was about 50-50, and it had taken four years and the combined might of the free world to get that single 50-50 chance.
Various bloggers have said this already, but let me chime in -- what Democrats and progressives have achieved, in less than two years, is magnificent.
Following the mid-terms, Democrats were in total disarray, demoralized, disorganized, half-caught by Bush's charm, impressed by his political performance at the UN and in Congress, and ensnared by the patriotic idea that anyAmerican Leader should be supported after 9/11. Then came Howard Dean, proving that the Beltway pundits were getting it wrong about how Bush and his war in Iraq were universally beloved and supported. Then came the nine Democrats, who had to vie for the nomination by out-democrating each other. Finally out of the pack came John Kerry, a fighter, principled, a leader. And his Democrats are organized, on message, enthusiastic, and getting to the polls already in record numbers.
So maybe its still a 50-50 chance, but you created that chance for yourselves with your hard work and dedication to democracy. I congratulate you and I will be cheering for you tomorrow.

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