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Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Frightened Man 

William Pitt writes at Truthout about George W. Bush, the Frightened Man: "It is not terrorism that motivates George, or patriotism, or even profiteering. It is fear, pure and simple: Fear of the truth, fear of the world, fear of any data that collides with his faith-based bubble-encapsuled worldview, and fear most of all of the people he would represent. You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you. Now we know, and the knowledge is deeply and profoundly disturbing."
I believe this to be true.
As I sat watching the press conference Bush held just before he went to war in Iraq, it gradually dawned on me that I was watching a terrified man -- so scared, he could hardly speak. How horrifying to realize that the President of the United States was a coward who wanted every American to be as afraid as he was -- ". . . we live in a dangerous world. We live in new circumstances in our country. . . . I know [people] remember the tragedy of September the 11th, but I hope they understand the lesson of September the 11th. The lesson is, is that we're vulnerable to attack, wherever it may occur, and we must take threats which gather overseas very seriously . . . "
And that was BEFORE anyone had seen the seven minutes when Bush, confronted with an unprecedented demand for courage, could do nothing but sit frozen with fear.

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Gone,  

Steve Gilliard's News Blog gets it. Wouldn't it be nice if the Shindler supporters could shut the f**k up for a minute or two, and maybe spare a prayer for Terri Schiavo herself instead of spending every moment consumed with bile and anger?
"One of the wacko priests supporting the Schindlers said the brother and sister were asked to leave so Michael Schaivo could spend the last minutes alone with his dying wife. He said 'his heartless cruelty continued'. What? Heartless what? The Schindlers slandered this man, allowed protesters to haunt his small children, tormented him for eight years and they want to talk about heartless cruelty? They tore into him for years, slandered him and placed his life in danger. There's been plenty of heartless cruelty and it lays at the feet of the Schindler's."

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Snarfffrfffrrrrrzzzz 

My Blahg points to this priceless Paul Wells column at Macleans.ca Inkless Wells - Deflationary spiral -- I had been meaning to blog something about all the election speculation but it didn't seem to be going anywhere, really, and now Wells explains why to anyone who can stay awake long enough to read it:
I wonder whether anyone, at any of several papers, who ordered the latest snap-election wild-goose-chase baloney story splashed across the top of the front page for most of a week feels at all sheepish.
What is so stunning about the debate over the clause that was inserted into a budget enabling bill that would have enabled the Liberals to enact their bottomless Kyoto vengeance against.......znnnnnssssnszzzzz....
Oops. Nodded off. What I was trying to say is, the amazing thing about the week's game of feint and counter-feint over some Kyoto budget thingie....snarfffrfffrrrrrzzzz....
Dammit.
What I was trying to say was that it was all so stunningly pointless. I mean, jaw-droppingly pointless. Organ-bustingly pointless.
For yet another week, the political and chattering classes colluded in an utterly made-up fantasy narrative. Turns out the Liberals didn't mean to force a showdown. Turns out the Cons didn't mean to threaten one. Turns out this minority government's fifth high-stakes, edge-of-your-seat, ooooooooh-golly-what'll-they-do game of brinksmanship was actually about less than the first four.
And yet we cleared the nation's front pages for an endless, breathless account of every meaningless comma. To save our lives, we won't cover what the government is doing. With a gun to our heads, we wouldn't cover what the government could be doing but isn't. We are too busy spinning ourselves into a pathetic tizzy at every spurious hint of another election - an election that would be as thoroughly about nothing as are the weeks when we don't have an election.
Here's how far the gallery's obsession with fantasy goes: on the weekend, Jean Lapierre, who after all is the actual minister of transport in the federal government of the second-largest nation on the face of God's earth, spent several minutes on TV actually discussing transport policy. Airport tax levels, international competition for air routes, carrier bankruptcies, what have you. For a few minutes, it was as though Canada had a government or something.
But at least one big paper ignored all of that, preferring to latch onto Lapierre's momentary burst of angst over the effect of Gomery on the Liberals' electoral fortunes. Out came the banner hed: Minister Fears Snap Election.....snarrrffffffffflllzzzzzzz......
...Sorry. Where was I? Oh yeah. Over at the Toronto Star, Graham Fraser took it into his head to cover what the government minister was saying about the government's plans for his ministry. Silly Graham. At least one commentator spanked him for "burying the lede."
Because you see, the lede is never what the government is actually doing. It's what the government might conceivably do, or have done to it. The conspiracy of inanity, englobing government, opposition and gallery, continues. No rogue reporter, with his mulish insistence on writing about the government as though Canada had one, will be permitted to spoil the parade.
Sorry, that's a bit of a rant. Oh well. It was a profoundly depressing week.

Ah, the Canadian parliamentary press gallery -- can't live with 'em, could live without 'em.

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POGGE asks the question 

The US economy is Canada's very own 600 pound gorilla, living right next door, too.
POGGE writes a post about the growing protectionist panic in the US - which will get worse, I would think, as their gas prices triple and their housing bubble bursts because their interest rates rise. In Playing chicken with China POGGE asks: "So where does that leave Canada? If the real goal of those who are pulling the strings in the U.S. is to see the American dollar slide more quickly, pushing our own dollar up in relation to it, we lose a big advantage in our trade with the U.S. If there's serious discussion of using protectionist measures to protect American jobs we could see even more disputes like softwood lumber. And if the Americans gamble and lose or fail to act soon enough -- if financial meltdown occurs -- it only gets worse. This is the economy which John Manley and Tom d'Aquino -- not to mention Paul Martin -- want us to depend on even more than we already do. Is there a Plan B?"

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Security OK 

Canada is not a superhighway for terrorists, says Interpol boss
I am so glad somebody said this.
Not that any nation can boast these days about how secure its borders are, but I felt many of those anti-Canada news stories after Sept 11 talking about our lousy security were suspect -- usually, they seemed to be quoting just one or two ex-CSIS agents who had either set up their own security firms and were "available" for contracts, or had just published a book and wanted publicity for it.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Great line of the day 

From Lily Tomlin, via Bilmon
"No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up."
UPDATE - link fixed

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Our Beavis Within 

A blog I was reading earlier tonight (can't remember whose) linked to this Poorman post from February -- I just had to share it. Enjoy.

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I've got the Things-are-getting-better-in-Iraq-but-the-media-aren't-reporting-it Blues 

Once again, things are getting better in Iraq, but the darned media just aren't reporting it.
Really.
Yes, I know -- the first batch of things-are-getting-better-but-the-media-isn't-reporting-it stories were back in July 2003, when Uday and whosis were killed. At that time, there were 10 to 12 attacks a day.
And the next batch came in December, 2003, after Saddam was captured. By then, there were 25 to 30 attacks a day.
And then, last July, once again, after the big turnover and before the Republican convention, we were hearing once again about how things were getting better but the media just wasn't reporting it. I think by that time there were 50 attacks a day.
So now the elections have been held two months ago, and there's STILL no new government. But once again its time for another batch of Things-are-getting-better-but-the-media-aren't-reporting-it stories.
Well, here's the latest from someone actually in the country -- and this is supposed to be good news: "George Casey, the commanding US general of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, told [CNN] that current insurgent assaults were running at between 50 and 60 attacks a day. "They (insurgents) are able to maintain the level of violence between 50 and 60 attacks a day," General Casey said. "The four provinces where the insurgency is still capable is out west, near Fallujah in Anbar province, in the Baghdad area and Saladdin, which is in the centre of the country, around Saddam's home town, and up north, in the Mosul area," he said. " Those four provinces, by the way, contain almost half of Iraq's population and about a third of its land area.
And here's the LA Times story on Sunday describing life as it is lived by soldiers in Iraq: "This is a war without a front but with plenty of rear. Many soldiers spend a year in Iraq without ever leaving their fortified bases. Others may never meet an Iraqi, much less kill one. A soldier may patrol for months without ever seeing the enemy, yet risk death or disfigurement at any moment. Each day in Iraq will end, almost without exception, with an American on patrol losing an arm, a leg, an eye or a life to an earth-shattering detonation of high explosives. That these bombs are embedded in the most prosaic emblems of Iraqi life — a car, a donkey cart, a trash pile, a pothole — only intensifies the dread that attends every journey outside the wire."
But things are better, I tell you. BETTER!

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

Finally, an invention I could really use 

Like Something Out of a Cartoon...
"Can't get out of bed in the morning? Scientists at MIT's Media Lab in the United States have invented an alarm clock called Clocky to make even the doziest sleepers, who repeatedly hit the snooze button, leap out of bed. After the snooze button is pressed, the clock, which is equipped with a set of wheels, rolls off the table to another part of the room. "When the alarm sounds again, simply finding Clocky ought to be strenuous enough to prevent even the doziest owner from going back to sleep," New Scientist magazine said Tuesday."

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The Anglicans have turned into wingnuts 

The Anglican Church has gone mad, batshit, looney, crackers, around the bend, crazy as a loon, mad as a hatter, not all there, nutty as a fruitcake, a few eggs short of a basket, bunny-hopping nuts . . . oh, you get it.
I think it began when, or perhaps even because, they kicked out the Canadian and American branches just because they accept gay people, an act of stunningly unChristian meanness and ignorance and lack of charity.
Now, the inmates are in charge of the asylum, and they're starting in on divorced people -- Bishop: Prince Charles must atone Prince Charles is supposed to apologize to Camilla Parker Bowles' husband for breaking up his marriage? Oh yeah, like Camilla herself had nothing to do with it, I suppose, and her husband himself was perfect in every way? It was all Charles fault?
And the bishop announces this unsolicited opinion to the media, on Easter Sunday no less. It saddens me to see a venerable and once-respected institution like the Anglican church descend into a kind of tabloid journalism grandstanding, making instant and ignorant judgment calls, showing off its own supposed moral purity by pointing fingures, starting these kind of stupid public battles . . . by turning away from gay people, I think the Anglican Church lost its soul. What we are now seeing are the empty masks hanging from trees, twisting in the wind.

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Saturday, March 26, 2005

"Calling Franz Kafka, white courtesy phone" 

This is incredible but, unfortunately, not unbelievable.MSNBC - Panel ignored evidence on Gitmo detainee
A military tribunal determined last fall that Murat Kurnaz, a German national seized in Pakistan in 2001, was a member of al Qaeda and an enemy combatant whom the government could detain indefinitely at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The three military officers on the panel, whose identities are kept secret, said in papers filed in federal court that they reached their conclusion based largely on classified evidence that was too sensitive to release to the public. In fact, that evidence, recently declassified and obtained by The Washington Post, shows that U.S. military intelligence and German law enforcement authorities had largely concluded there was no information that linked Kurnaz to al Qaeda, any other terrorist organization or terrorist activities. [emphasis mine]
In recently declassified portions of a January ruling, a federal judge criticized the military panel for ignoring the exculpatory information that dominates Kurnaz's file and for relying instead on a brief, unsupported memo filed shortly before Kurnaz's hearing by an unidentified government official. Kurnaz has been detained at Guantanamo Bay since at least January 2002. "The U.S. government has known for almost two years that he's innocent of these charges," said Baher Azmy, Kurnaz's attorney. "That begs a lot of questions about what the purpose of Guantanamo really is. He can't be useful to them. He has no intelligence for them. Why in the world is he still there?" . . . Justice Department lawyers told Azmy last week that the information may have been improperly declassified and should be treated in the foreseeable future as classified.

There will come a time when America will have to apologize to the world for Guantanamo and for what it is doing there, as well as at its other secret prisons. 'I was just following orders' was not an acceptable excuse in 1945 and it won't be in 2005 either.

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Dawn of the Undead 

James Wolcott: Terri's Law, Sponsored by Kraft Cheese
So now there's talk of Terri's Law - what I would call "The Dawn of the Undead" --which would prevent the withdrawal of life support from anyone without a Living Will, or even for someone with a Living Will if a relative disagreed.
This is, I guess, supposed to satisfy the hysterical anti-abortionists who are picketing the hospice and trying to hire hit-men.
Well, the hospitals and the HMOs will soon put a stop to THAT -- they know how much a law like that would cost them, and for what? So that an hysterical or cruel relative could force the family to continue to worship the empty body?
Once again, its an anti-abortionist attempt to try to deny the right to choose to the person himself or to his closest family.

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The latest on the torture papers 

Taking a short break from the All Terri, All The Time news obsession, here's a quick update on the latest prisoner torture news -- first, the latest ACLU press release American Civil Liberties Union : Army's Own Documents Acknowledge Evidence that Soldiers Used Torture. Another Friday document dump. on Good Friday no less, reveals more evidence of systematic and strategic torture of Iraqis: a teenage boy's jaw was broken during a beating; a detainee died by being exercised to death; soldiers were told to "beat the fuck out of detainees" and the units who had lost the most soldiers during insurgency actionw were encouraged to "payback" detainees.
Here is the ACLU page listing the other government documents on torture that have been released following the ACLU lawsuit.
And here's the latest news about prisoner homicides -- 27 detainee deaths linked to foul play
And here's the latest about children being held as prisoners -- this CNN story from a couple of weeks ago.
There, isn't it great to be up to date?
Now, back to the latest breaking Terri Schiavo news. . .
UPDATE: Another torture story from yesterday that I should also include in this roundup: Blows that led to detainee's death were common practice, reservist says Here's what they did to a part-time cab driver: ". . . the pathologist who examined Dilawar, 35, testified . . . the tissue in Dilawar's legs had been so damaged by repeated blows that 'it was essentially crumbling and falling apart.'. . . Army investigators have said that Brand wasn't alone in brutalizing Dilawar. Four interrogators are accused in the documents of kicking Dilawar in the groin and leg during the course of his interrogation, slamming him into walls and a table, forcing him to maintain painful contorted body positions during the interview and forcing water into his mouth until he couldn't breathe . . ." And here's what was done to the brother of a Taliban commander: ". . . According to an Army investigation, Habibullah was so badly hurt by repeated knee strikes that 'even if he survived, both legs would have had to be amputated.'. . . another soldier in the platoon bragged that he had kneed Habibullah at least 50 times "and he deserved every one."

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Friday, March 25, 2005

Dueling banjos 

I hear the twang of dueling banjos as Jeb Bush tries to establish the "culture of life" at gunpoint -- the Bush Banzai Brigade vs the Pinellas Park Police. Police 'showdown' averted Film at 11.
Well, I was right -- I said earlier that doctors would not want to reinstall the feeding tube without legal authority, and it looks like this was one of the factors that stopped the Bush Banzai Brigade from carrying Terri Schiavro out of the hospice by force -- that, and the prospect of a pitched battle with the police, with the protestors and media caught in the middle.
The media, of course, would have loved it -- new people to interview and new video to show over and over and over. Hey, it would be even better than Jessica Lynch, because it could show American law enforcement getting beaten and shot by other American law enforcement, all in the cause of the "culture of life".
You know, if you wrote all this up as a novel, no publisher would accept it -- the story is just too incredible for fiction.

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Rage, rage against the dying of the light 

Res Ipsa Loquitur.....
Ross, great piece.
Its about Hunter Thompson and Billmon and the whole damn thing.
I wish Hunter Thompson hadn't done it. But I am glad that Billmon is back. The world needs voices of sanity and truth, now more than ever - do not go gentle into that good night, rage rage against the dying of the light.
I have revised that myself to say "blog, blog against the dying of the light" and to use it as the slogan for my blog. Now partly thats just a joke, but partly I really believe it.
When you look at the history of great battles, it often seems that one of the significant factors for the winners was an unexpectedly better technology.
In the battle against the fascism of the Bush administration I believe that blogs may play a decisive role.
Maybe I am deluded because of my own blog experience, when I discovered Liberal Oasis in the fall of 2002 and felt it truly was an oasis in a world of insanity, when Bush was marching inextolerably toward a pointless, needless war with Iraq and the dems lost congress in the midterms and the media acted like the anti-war movement did not exist.
But just as the discovery of Liberal Oasis allowed this middle-aged woman from Saskatchewan to connect with like-minded people all across the continent and even around the world, so do the on-line communities created by Kos and Atrios and RossK and Frog, and Robert and Pogge and Canadian Cynic and all of us, allow unforeseen connections and synergies which the forces of darkness did not anticipate and have not planned for and cannot stop.
And maybe, together in cyberspace, we will prevail.

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Its up-is-downism, again 

WorldNetDaily: Nazis: Pioneers in medicine
This Buchanan column talks about how Terri Schiavo is like a Christian martyr groaning under the Nazi heel.
I've seen a lot of stuff in the last two months talking about American fascism under Bush and worrying about the fascist tendencies in the Bush administration. Do you think this Schiavo hysteria is what the Bush fascists were waiting for, so that they can use it to try to accuse their opponents of what they themselves are guilty of?
It's like the supporters of AWOL Bush accusing war hero Kerry of cowardice.
Its another example of what Josh Marshall calls Up-is-Downism.
I am calling it Jessica Lynch syndrome -- the desire to see Jeb Bush and the 101st Fighting Keyboarders burst into Ms. Schiavo's hospice room, scoop her up at gunpoint, and spirit her away to a hospital where, because the doctors likely wouldn't do this surgery without legal authorization, they would also have to force the doctors at gunpoint to reinstall the feeding tube.
Still crazy, after all these years.

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Best line of the day 

From a commenter on this post at Daily Kos :: What Happens When Worlds Collide?:
"Reality is what refuses to go away when you stop believing in it."

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

A uniter, not a divider 

CBS News | Poll: Keep Feeding Tube Out
My daughter raised this point -- if 82 percent of the public think that Bush and congress made a mistake in interfering with the Terry Schiavo case, I guess it can now be proven that Bush is actually a uniter, not a divider. He has united the American public in disapproval of what he did.

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What a great weight loss idea! 

Yahoo! News - You Want Fingers with That? A customer took a spoonful of chili which included a human finger. After spitting it out, authorities said "Then they had some kind of emotional reaction and vomited."
Well, I should think so.
Hey, maybe Weight Watchers should try this with their frozen dinners -- having to watch out for the occasional body part would be a guaranteed way to make you eat slowly, and maybe even lose interest in eating altogether, wouldn't it.

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NOW I get it 

Pandagon: The ghouls and vampires who oppose choice
Well, I'm finally starting to understand why the anti-abortion people are leading the "culture of life" charge to try to get the feeding tube reinserted in Terri Schiavo.
Like abortion, its not about life, its about choice. And once again, its not "what choice" but "whose choice" that is basically the issue.
I have argued on this blog that many of the people who say they are anti-abortion are actually just anti-choice -- what they are actually opposed to is allowing individual women to choose for themselves whether or not to get an abortion. They usually concede that if her reasons are "good enough", like that the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or that carrying the baby will kill her, then a woman could get an abortion in that situation. In other words, they think its OK for a woman to have an abortion if a committee of doctors OKs it , but not if the woman decides for herself.
Parenthetically, this is why I was so pleased to see the Conservatives agree last weekend that they would not adopt a policy supporting new abortion legislation -- they finally accepted that people can be pro-choice without being pro-abortion.
Getting back to the Schiavo case, I see the same "anti-choice" approach as it taken toward abortion. The basic attitude seems to be that Ms. Shiavo's own choice must be disregarded, ignored, marginalized, disbelieved or overturned. This choice has been confirmed by legal evidence presented in court, reviewed and cross-examined, evaluated by lawyers and by Ms. Schaivo's own guardian, and accepted as factual by judge after judge -- first, that Ms Schiavo is and will always be a vegetable, and second, that she would choose to die rather than to continue to live in such a condition. Instead, the argument seems to go, the choice should be made by her parents or her sister or her brother or the congress or Jeb Bush or the Supreme Court -- anyone, really, who would base the choice on their own mystic, magical, wishful thinking rather than on Ms. Schiavo's choice. Baiscally, they are writhing and turning to avoid accepting that she made her own choice.
And in a postscript -- I read the saddest comment on a blog today. The commenter said she had worked in the same workplace as Ms. Schaivo's brother and that he was a sad man, having spent his entire adult life, 15 years, embroiled in this case. I wonder if her parents or brother or sister ever considered whether Ms. Schiavo herself would have wanted them all to suffer for so long over her twisted body and empty mind.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Signs that the apocalypse is upon us 

Capitol bill aims to control ‘leftist’ profs
Read it and weep.


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"Stop the insanity" 

Well, I'll say.
Poor Mrs. Schindler was quoted today as saying this, and I agree but in a different context.
Schiavo's Parents Suffer More Setbacks
This is reminding me now of the Princess Dianna funeral on speed -- in that case, we saw a riotous two-week outpouring of hysterical grief, followed by an embarassed and somewhat shamefaced return to normalcy. In this case, it has taken only a few days to go through the hysteria phase and reach the embarassed stage, the stage where people see Ms. Shiavo's "baby seal" face and mutter to themselves, please no more. and change the channel.
Except, of course, for Pat Buchannan -- who said tonight on Hardball that President Bush should get federal marshals to burst into Ms. Schiavo's hospice room and scoop her up and take her to a hospital where, presumably at gunpoint, doctors would reinstall the feeding tube by force. When Matthews asked him under what authority the president could do that, Buchannan said, well, he's the president. Oh for heaven's sake, do you guys think you elected a king?
Please, please, stop the insanity!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

So how are things going in Iraq these days? 

John Burns writes in this NYT article, There Are Signs the Tide May Be Turning on Iraq's Street of Fear, about how maybe, just maybe, things are going better on Haifa Street in Iraq.
But the article gives me a whistling-past-the-graveyard feeling. "In the first 18 months of the fighting, the insurgents mostly outmaneuvered the Americans along Haifa Street, showing they could carry the war to the capital's core with something approaching impunity. But American officers say there have been signs that the tide may be shifting. On Haifa Street, at least, insurgents are attacking in smaller numbers, and with less intensity; mortar attacks into the Green Zone have diminished sharply; major raids have uncovered large weapons caches; and some rebel leaders have been arrested or killed."
This is progress? An 18 month battle for a single Baghdad street, where things are so much better now because the insurgents are attacking "in smaller numbers"? Oh wow!
And then there is Today in Iraq's reference to this Asia Times article: Shocked and awed into 'freedom' , which provides an Iraqi-eyed view of daily life now in Iraq:
"Highways in and out of Baghdad are suicidal: the Americans can't control any of them. Anyone is a potential kidnapping target, either for the Sunni guerrilla or criminal gangs. Officials at the Oil and Electricity Ministries tell of at least one attack a day. Oil pipelines are attacked and distribution interrupted virtually every week. There's a prison camp syndrome: almost 10,000 Iraqis incarcerated at any one time, in three large jails, including the infamous Abu Ghraib. . . . The Sunni guerrillas register an average of scores of attacks a day, all over the country. Roadside and car bombs are still exploding in leveled Fallujah. The Baghdad regional police commander was assassinated on Saturday. The resistance has infiltrated virtually all government and police networks . . . "
So I don't think it matters very much whether things are going better for the Americans along Haifa Street.

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Yes!  

Every time I start feeling that our civilization is crumbling, something like this gives me hope.
This Catholic bishop originally refused a Catholic funeral for a gay bar owner. Now, following protests organized by Americablog among others, and obviously some soul-searching, the bishop has changed his mind, saying he now realizes his condemnation was unjust. Its impressive to see that people CAN change, isn't it. Bishop apologizes for barring Catholic funeral of gay nightclub owner

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Monday, March 21, 2005

It only hurts when I laugh 

Rumsfeld Cautions Iraqis on New Government
This made me laugh -- "[Rumsfeld] warned that Iraqis had to 'be darned careful about making a lot of changes just to be putting in their friend or to be putting in someone else from their tribe or from their ethnic group. This is too serious a business over there and the United States has got too much invested and too much committed and too many lives at stake for people to be careless about that.'
So here is Rumsfeld warning Iraq against hiring people just because they're friends or from a particular tribe -- when the United States screwed up the Iraq economy and reconstruction because it insisted on hiring people to staff the coalition provisional authority office whose only qualification was that they were Republicans who had sent their resume to the White House or posted it on the Heritage Foundation website. The Washington Post reported last June that "most CPA hiring was done by the White House and Pentagon personnel offices, with posts going to people with connections to the Bush administration or the Republican Party. The job of reorganizing Baghdad's stock exchange, which has not reopened, was given in September to a 24-year-old who had sought a job at the White House. "It was loyalty over experience," a senior CPA official said."
Read this entire WP article to refresh your memory about the miserable history of the Iraq occupation -- and see if you agree that the insurgency is really all Turkey's fault because Turkey wouldn't let the US send 30,000 troops into Iraq from the north, as Rumsfeld also said this weekend, or whether this is just one more ass-covering remark from an incompetent administration.

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Playing snakes and ladders 

Google Search: Conservatives Looking through the Google Search at the Conservative convention news of the last three days, it shows a party which avoided most of the snakes and seized the ladders.
They finally, finally, appear to have realized that being pro-choice is not the same as being pro-abortion (except for Elsie Wayne, but why would that be a surprise). They voted down a divisive rule change which would have split the party between Alliance and PC. Though the media didn't report on this, its likely that they also fleshed out many of their other paper-thin policy positions -- I hope at least they changed that insulting "we support farmers, loggers, and fishermen" reference from their election platform last year.
And, of course, they remain purposefully ignorant about gay marriage and the Canadian supreme court and the notwithstanding clause -- this is the snake that they just cannot seem to get past, and it will continue to pull them down.

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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Digby says it all 

In The Days of Our Lives, Digby points out the facts that the American public are NOT seeing on their television screens today:
1. ". . . George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother's wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday. "
2. ". . . republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug . . . on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country."
3. ". . . the tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terry Schiavo's care thus far. "
4. ". . . the bankruptcy bill will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terry Schiavo's because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming."
5. '. . . this grandstanding by the congress is a purely political move designed to appease the religious right and that the legal maneuverings being employed would be anathema to any true small government conservative. "

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Don't believe what they say 

MSNBC - U.S. misled allies about nuclear export
This is a huge story.
When meeting with China, Japan and South Korea five or six weeks ago, the Bush administration tried to bolster their demonization of North Korea and scare everyone by accusing North Korea of having sold nuclear materials to that rogue state Libya.
They lied. On purpose.
Actually, North Korea had sold the materials to US ally Pakistan. It was Pakistan's Abdel Qadeer Khan who then sold the materials to Libya, without North Korea's knowledge.
US intelligence showed all along that it was Pakistan that made the sale. But the Bush administration wanted to scare everyone, so they lied about what their intelligence said.
"The Bush administration's approach, intended to isolate North Korea, instead left allies increasingly doubtful as they began to learn that the briefings omitted essential details about the transaction, U.S. officials and foreign diplomats said in interviews. North Korea responded to public reports last month about the briefings by withdrawing from talks with its neighbors and the United States. In an effort to repair the damage, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is traveling through East Asia this weekend trying to get the six-nation talks back on track. The impasse was expected to dominate talks today in Seoul and then Beijing, which wields the greatest influence with North Korea."
As the story points out, this is just the latest of several lies about US intelligence findings -- "The new details follow a string of controversies concerning the Bush administration's use of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction. In the run-up to the Iraq invasion in March 2003, the White House offered a public case against Iraq that concealed dissent on nearly every element of intelligence and included interpretations unsupported by the evidence."
In fact, the world will realize now that there's a pattern of lying here, using inflated intelligence to promote political agendas. And no one will believe the Bush administration anymore.

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Best line of the day . . .  

. . . from Steve Gilliard, speaking about people who think abstinence education is working: "Is there ANY area of science besides ballistics that these people pay any attention to?"
From Steve Gilliard's News Blog : Yet another study shows abstinance fails:

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Saturday, March 19, 2005

Iraq war protests worldwide 

Here, for my American readers, are photos of the Iraq war protests around the world today -- just in case the American media doesn't cover this story, I can't imagine why not:

New York


Chicago


San Francisco


Mexico City


Rome


Sao Paulo


Madrid


Copenhagen


Athens


Glasgow


Istanbul


Lahore, Pakistan


Sophia, Bulgaria


Tokyo


Manila


Seoul


and two stories, from The Globe and Mail and from Yahoo.

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And I hate it when reporters don't do their jobs 

Read this CP story Former Winnipeg mayor named to head round table on economy and environment. Or see this one in the Star Phoenix, entitled in a more inflammatory way PM's Patronage appointment outrages opposition MPs, and beginning with "Despite promising to end political "cronyism", Prime Minister Paul Martin announced Friday he will ignore the conclusion of a parliamentary committee and proceed with one of his most controversial patronage appointments by naming defeated Liberal candidate Glen Murray to a federal advisory agency on the environment."
What you will not find in either story is an elementary fact which the reporter who wrote it or the editor who edited it could easily have found out: the Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development has five (5) Liberal members, including the chair, and seven (7) opposition members (4 conservative, two bloc and one NDP).
Excuse me folks, but is it any surprise that a majority of the committee tried to play a political game by voting against Murray? And that Martin ignored both the game and the vote?

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Media circus du jour 

The Medical Becomes Political for Congress
One aspect of the Schiavo case that I haven't read about yet is how it basically makes the case for medicare. I hope the republicans remember. This NYT story says "Many Congressional Democrats were biting their tongues Friday as they witnessed what they considered an egregious misuse of power by Republicans. They pointed to public opinion polls that show support for Mr. Schiavo's right to decide his wife's fate, but they also fear the power of the mobilized right. Plus, lawmakers of both parties say they have been moved by the videotapes they have seen of Ms. Schiavo, viewing themselves as the last barrier between her and a death sentence. Yet, as Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, warned her colleagues this week as they considered a bill that would move the case to federal court, the mix of politics and mortality can be volatile. "We change the nature of all these things to put this in the political arena," she said."
That's for sure.
If they are going to force the Florida hospital to keep her alive, well, maybe they should be paying for her care for the next 40 years.
And how many other braindamaged people are there who the US government should also be caring for? And, come to think of it, how many other people are there in the US who need medical care of all kinds, but who cannot get it? Maybe their government should care enough about them, all of them, to put its money where its mouth is, and introduce decent medicare for every american.
Oh, fat chance. I'm just being sarcastic as usual.
Like all the other "right to life" cases, the proponents don't really give a damn about Schaivo or her family or medicare issues or anything other than "winning". This all reminds me of the media frenzy over the Elian Gonzales case. But unlike that case, this one cannot be solved by an early morning raid. Because it will take weeks for her to die, some judge or politician somewhere will always find some way to continue Mrs. Shaivo's life.
At some point, her husband will give up and divorce her, leaving her to her parents. And then all her newfound friends will move on to pray on the streets about something else, like, say, the Roy Moore Ten Commendments case coming up at the Supreme Court. They will leave Mrs. Shiavo to live on and on in her vegetative state, breaking her parents' hearts as she continues to not recover from her unrecoverable brain damage. In a few years, we will see a couple of plaintive news stories from the parents wondering why all their friends have disappeared.
UPFATE: So now the whole thing will be moved to federal court, where the husband can start all over again, though the Supreme Court has already refused to hear the case. Will a federal judge decide the case differently from innumerable Florida judges? And how many more years will the circus continue now?

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Becoming soulless people 

Un-Volunteering: Troops Improvise to Find Way Out
One soldier's journey to a conscientious-objector application: " Here's what happened: I spent six months over there, and I came back and thought about it. What I know is that it's inhumane. It's turning 18-year-old men and women into soulless people."
One of the horrible things about this war is the horrible things that the American military has done in Iraq -- shooting families whose only crime was to be driving in the wrong place, crashing into people's homes and arresting them on rumour and hearsay, destroying towns street by street like the city of Fallujah, throwing men and women and children into prison and not letting them out again even when their innocence is proven, arresting wives to make their husbands surrender -- acting, in other words, just the way the Nazis did in France and Holland and Czechoslovakia.
The Iraq Veterans Against the War are marching this weekend at Fort Bragg. I hope they realize how many others are with them in spirit.
Also on the IVAW website I came across a reference to Codepink's coverage of the conviction and imprisonment of Iraq war resistor Camilo Mejia. In his writings from prison, Camilo quoted this poem, written by a Nazi war resistor Albrecht Hanshofer as he awaited execution:
GUILT
The burden of my guilt before the law
weighs light upon my shoulders; to plot
and to conspire was my duty to the people;
I would have been a criminal had I not.
I am guilty, though not the way you think,
I should have done my duty sooner, I was wrong,
I should have called evil more clearly by its name
I hesitated to condemn it for far too long.
I now accuse myself within my heart:
I have betrayed my conscience far too long
I have deceived myself and fellow man.
I knew the course of evil from the start
My warning was not loud nor clear enough!
Today I know what I was guilty of…

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Friday, March 18, 2005

How do you spell... 

G-R-A-N-D-S-T-A-N-D-I-N-G.
If they had actually been serious, the congress would have passed these bills a week ago.Yahoo! News - House GOPs Want Feeding Tube Reinserted
Its not as though they had other things to do -- oh, no, wait, they had to interview Mark McQuire about steroids and vote to drill for oil in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge!
Never mind.

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Don't you just hate it 

When you do a "blog this" post, and get it all written, with bunches of extra links. Then, when you go to hit "publish" you hit the "x" box by mistake -- and poof! its gone!
I just did a brilliant post pointing to a brilliant My Blahg post about the war on terror and including various great links to the New York reaction to the republican convention and... oh well, I guess the world will just have to suffer the loss. Go see My Blahg anyway.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Mencken quotes 

TBRNews.org has this great H.L. Mencken quote: As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.Here's some more of the things that H.L. Mencken said:
A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.
A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers.
All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it.
All successful newspapers are ceaselessly querulous and bellicose. They never defend anyone or anything if they can help it; if the job is forced on them, they tackle it by denouncing someone or something else.
Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood.
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.
Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.
Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.
I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.
In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell.
It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man.
It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.
It is impossible to imagine Goethe or Beethoven being good at billiards or golf.
It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.
Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.

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And speaking of the right wing . . . 

POGGE posts So much for the big tent quoting the CEO of Concerned Christians Canada Inc. Pogge notes that "This guy[Craig Chandler] wants to bring the same culture war into Canada that's polarizing the U.S. . . . There's the same triumphalism the religious right displayed following Bush's re-election". Chandler has the same bland assumption that Canadians are basically conservative.
Well, no, actually, I would argue that Canada is NOT a conservative country.
We support government involvement in the Canadian economy - grants, loans, investments of all kinds.
We support medicare - we demand universal access.
We support old age pensions - in the States, there have been politicians for the last 60 years who have argued against Social Security, but there has never been, in Canada, a politician of any party who has argued against the OAP.
We support equalization payments between the have and the have-not provinces - we argue about the amount and the formula, but not against the principle.
We support orderly marketing of our products, through the wheat board, the commodity boards, etc. We don't believe in "every man for himself".
Basically, we support peace, order and good government -- that's what POGGE is all about!

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With friends like these . . .  

Hill plans to fight gay marriage Poor Harper -- every time he turns around, his Conservatives are demonstrating yet again why Canada doesn't want them to run the country.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A 20-year wait for justice 

CBC News Indepth: Air India - Bombing of Air India Flight 182
All of Canada is waiting for this verdict -- almost 20 years after the bomb exploded, causing the deaths of 329 people, mostly Canadians.
I remember, the week after this happened, that Maclean's magazine didn't even make this their cover story -- they just ran a banner at the top "Air India disaster" -- you wouldn't even have known that Canadians died.
Twenty years ago, the fact that the people on this plane were East Indians was more important than the fact that they were Canadians.
Ten years ago, a lot of people seemed to have forgotten that no one had ever been prosecuted for this crime.
Finally, people got angry enough to demand action. I think the failure to prosecute was likely not because they didn't know who did it, but rather because prosecutors were concerned that the screwups with the evidence jeopardized a successful prosecution. So we'll see tomorrow whether the Crown's case was good enough -- but at least they tried.
UPDATE - Well the verdict is in, and it is as I feared. Perhaps the Scottish "not proven" would fit the case the best. And see this excellent post by Ross No Guantanamos Allowed I hadn't thought of this point, but he is absolutely right.

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Monday, March 14, 2005

Lysenko rides again 

This is nuts -- Battle on Teaching Evolution Sharpens They seem to think that teaching creationism is going to be the magic bullet that turns the US into a Christian Right country and destroys those dastardly librrulls once and for all.
"To fundamentalist Christians, [Baptist minister] Fox said, the fight to teach God's role in creation is becoming the essential front in America's culture war. The issue is on the agenda at every meeting of pastors he attends. If evolution's boosters can be forced to back down, he said, the Christian right's agenda will advance. "If you believe God created that baby, it makes it a whole lot harder to get rid of that baby," Fox said. "If you can cause enough doubt on evolution, liberalism will die." . . . "Creationism's going to be our big battle. We're hoping that Kansas will be the model, and we're in it for the long haul," Fox said."
Yeah -- like Russia thought that so-called peasant genius Lysenko was going to solve all their agricultural problems because he was just SUCH a good communist.
"In December 1929, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin gave a famous speech elevating "practice" above "theory", elevating the judgment of the political bosses above that of the scientists and technical specialists. Though the Soviet government under Stalin gave much more support to genuine agricultural scientists in its early days, after 1935 the balance of power abruptly swung towards Lysenko and his followers. Lysenko was put in charge of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences of the Soviet Union and made responsible for ending the propagation of "harmful" ideas among Soviet scientists. Lysenko served this purpose faithfully, causing the expulsion, imprisonment, and death of hundreds of scientists and the demise of genetics throughout the Soviet Union. This period is known as Lysenkoism." It was 35 years before Lysenko was repudiated.

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Sunday, March 13, 2005

Watch your backs! 

MSNBC - Poll: 7 in 10 worried about government secrecy
This story reports on an issue about which I am increasingly concerned. The story indicates that only 6 per cent of the US public thinks there is now "too much" access to government records. But I'll bet among that 6 per cent is the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House. Most of the prisoner abuse stories and Guantanamo revelations of the last several months would not have happened without the ACLU and the Freedom of Information Act, and I am convinced that the Bush Administration would love to trash this act if they possibly could.
So it gave me a chill to read in this news story: "A bipartisan bill now in the U.S. Senate seeks to revisit the federal Freedom of Information Act to address many of the open-government complaints." I couldn't find out what bill this might be, but I don't believe it - a "bipartisan" bill in today's Republican-lock-step let's-all-vote-for-Gonzales-the-Torturer Senate? A bill aimed at "improving" access to government records? Oh yeah, tell me another one. Given the pattern now followed in the Bush administration, what would happen is that a bunch of amendments would be shoehorned into the bill at the last minute which would actually result in slamming the door shut on FOIA requests. And the republicans would vote for this, Democrats need to watch their backs on this one.

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"Something democratic" not happening in Iraq 

Yahoo! News - Talks on Forming Iraqi Government Collapse: "Many Iraqis blame politicians, for whom they say they risked their lives to cast ballots in the Jan. 30 election, for prolonging a political vacuum while violence spirals . . . The crisis plays into the hands of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, whose cabinet could now remain in a caretaker role until a general election due at the end of the year. "
Back on Jan 28, before the Iraq elections, I quoted Juan Cole as writing "There are, of course, lots of elections in the Arab world. Some are more rigged than others. But there are almost no elections where the sitting prime minister and his party would be allowed to be turned out unexpectedly by an unpredictable and uncontrolled electorate. If Iraqi interim Prime Minister Allawi's list does poorly and his political star falls as a result of a popular vote, something democratic will have happened in Iraq, for all the serious problems with the elections."
Well, it looks like "something democratic" has not actually happened yet in Iraq.

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Rant on, Steve! 

The best rant I have ever read -- if you can't lead and you won't follow, then get the f*ck out of my way!
Steve Gilliard's News Blog : Fuck Al From, it's time to fight and win "You want to change this country, you change it. You change the terms of debate, how it's debated and who gets to debate. And you stop whining how it's all against us. In 1972, a lunatic like Rick Santorum wouldn't have gotten on Firing Line, much less the US Senate. Now, we have to do what they did, but meaner, faster, harder . . . The GOP may have started this fight, but we'll be the ones to finish it, if we have the will to."

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Great stuff I have been missing 

Well, I gave up on my computer for tonight and I'm using my son's computer, which has a wireless connection which is working just fine.
So for the first time in several days, I can surf around easily -- and discover a lot of great posts in the last few days which I had missed.
Like this one -- Peace, order and good government, eh?: Following the money
And this one -- My Blagh's Politics of Destruction
And this one -- Gazetteer's I Need a Slushie
And of course I'm enjoying catching up with Canadian Cynic and Jimbobby and Canadippi and EGroup and all the rest, too.

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Saturday, March 12, 2005

Sorry for no posts 

Hi, all. Something is f*cked up with my cable or connection or something.

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Friday, March 11, 2005

Ahhh! 

Well, isn't this special -- Beleaguered Harper endures week from hell
Try to imagine how little I care.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

And this is why we keep voting for Martin 

Canadian Politician Equates Gay Marriage With Mad Cow Disease, Accuses PM Of Racism
Here's another Conservative MP who is not quite ready for prime time. "The article, on Alberta MP Monte Solberg's website, criticizes Martin for defending gay marriage as a right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If Martin defends same-sex weddings as a Charter right, then an argument can be made that reopening the Canada-U.S. border to Canadian cattle is also a Charter right for farmers, Solberg suggests. 'Remember, it's all in the Charter and if you don't think so, then you can just take your hairy knuckles back to Selma, Alabama, where you obviously belong,'' he wrote." Here's the website article which this story refers to.
UPDATE: But then there's this one, too -- Liberal apologizes for suggesting Canada "embarrass" U.S. over trade. Does this leave the NDP as the only party without foot-in-mouth disease?

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No wonder we keep voting for Calvert 

CTV.ca | Sask. Party MLA suggests shooting premier
This is why the NDP keeps getting reelected here in Saskatchewan -- the alternative, a combination Reform/Conservative/Liberal coalition called the Saskatchewan Party, keeps demonstrating that its not quite ready for prime time.

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Alienation and rage 

In his article Don't Stop With Syria's Occupation Juan Cole states an interesting thesis when he writes: "You want to end terrorism? End unjust military occupations. By all means have Syria conduct an orderly withdrawal from Lebanon if that is what the Lebanese public wants. But Israel needs to withdraw from the Golan Heights, which belong to Syria, as well. The Israeli military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank must be ended. The Russian scorched-earth policy in Chechnya needs to stop. . . . The U.S. needs to conduct an orderly and complete withdrawal from Iraq. And when all these military occupations end, there will be some hope for a vast decrease in terrorism. People need a sense of autonomy and dignity, and occupation produces helplessness and humiliation. Humiliation is what causes terrorism."
But Cole doesn't discuss what is sometimes called "domestic" terrorism, perhaps because this doesn't fit his thesis quite so well, The IRA, the Basque separatists, the FLQ and groups like this don't really fit his model, nor do the pocket-sized US secessionist groups. That is, unless governments are perceived to be "occupying" any land at all which is claimed by a separatist movement. Organizations like the Red Brigade in Germany and Italy don't fit the model either.
The terrorism practiced by these groups is not caused by humiliation, but rather by a toxic combination of alienation and rage -- the group is alienated from the political authority through which they might have been able to resolve their grievances, and this authority becomes the focus of their rage.
So we get the FLQ blowing up mailboxes and Timothy McVeigh blowing up the Oklahoma City federal building.

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Monday, March 07, 2005

Trouble for the United States at the UN 

Bush Picks Critic of U.N. to Serve as Ambassador to It
Oh, you've got to be kidding me - John Bolton as UN Ambassador? Jethro Foot-in-Mouth? The Mustache That Walks Like A Man? Mr. F*ck-Them-All? That John Bolton?
The NYT quoted Condi Rice saying "The president and I have asked John to do this work because he knows how to get things done."
Well, if they want to start a war with Cuba and North Korea and Iran, plus piss off Japan and China so maybe they'll start selling off their dollars, plus make sure the UN Security Council won't support a single US initiative, well, I guess Bolton can do that job just fine.
I think Rumsfeld and Cheney convinced Bush that Bolton will be able to bully the Security Council into supporting sanctions against Iran. They think the rest of the world is populated with stupid, weak-willed schmucks -- we're all Old Europe now -- and so we'll just roll over and play dead as soon as Mr. Moustache tells us to.
Well, we'll see how that works out, eh? You know how it goes, fool me once shame on me, fool me twice, shame on me again.
Here are some top quotes from the Bolton hit parade:
- “It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so – because, over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States.” *
- ". . . the Europeans can be sure that America's days as a well-bred doormat for EU political and military protection are coming to an end." *
- "Why was the 1998 [Pentagon] report on Cuba so unbalanced? Why did it underplay the threat Cuba posed to the United States?" he asked, replying "A major reason is Cuba's aggressive intelligence operations against the United States."*
- Bolton mocked supporters of the test-ban treaty as "misguided individuals following a timid and neo-pacifist line of thought." In an interview with Arms Control magazine, after taking office, Bolton caused a stir by seeming to back off the 'no first use' of nuclear weapons doctrine that has been the underpinning of the non-proliferation treaty.*
- "I believe that the United States should support the efforts of the Republic of China on Taiwan to become a full member of the United Nations: and "diplomatic recognition of Taiwan would be just the kind of demonstration of U.S. leadership that the region needs and that many of its people hope for… The notion that China would actually respond with force is a fantasy, albeit one the Communist leaders welcome and encourage in the West." The article containing these quotes also notes that in April, 2001, the Washington Post reported that Bolton was paid a total of $30,000 by the government of Taiwan for "research papers on UN membership issues involving Taiwan."
Oh, may you live in interesting times!

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Sunday, March 06, 2005

What kind of Christianity is this? 

Why am I reading such scary stuff about Christianity lately?
There's this -- Eschaton: Bobo's World about a 6-year-old first grader being suspended from a Christian school because his mother refused to spank him.
And there's this, from Buzzflash -- Bill Moyer's article on how the belief in the Rapture appears to absolve Christians from doing anything to protect the environment or advance political welfare. Moyers writes:
There are millions of Christians who believe the Bible is literally true, word for word. Some of them . . . subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the nineteenth century by two immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them with their own hallucinations into a narrative foretelling the return of Jesus and the end of the world. Google the "Rapture Index" and you will see just how the notion has seized the imagination of many a good and sincere believer . . . The plot of the Rapture—the word never appears in the Bible although some fantasists insist it is the hidden code to the Book of Revelation—is rather simple, if bizarre . . . Once Israel has occupied the rest of its "biblical lands," legions of the Antichrist will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. As the Jews who have not been converted are burned the Messiah will return for the Rapture. True believers will be transported to heaven where, seated at the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents writhe in the misery of plagues—boils, sores, locusts, and frogs—during the several years of tribulation that follow. I'm not making this up.
And the Globe had a terrific feature in Saturday's paper about mega-churches in the States (it doesn't seem to be listed on their website) which talked about how these evangelical churches are moving into stadiums, their services are so large, and how they offer a total-lifestyle, shopping-mall experience to their thousands of member families.
Now, I grew up in the United Church, and I have also attended an Anglican church sometimes. These churches were, at heart, humble -- the ministers took their texts from the Bible and didn't talk about crazy stuff like the Rapture. The congregations were a hundred or two hundred famlies, at best - large enough to support the church's ministry, but small enough that the minister could personally visit any members who were in hospital or grieving. And many of the people attending these churches tried sincerely to be Christians in their daily lives -- tolerant, kind, self-effacing, helpful.
Now the Christianity I read about is intolerant, boastful, mean, spiteful, and infested with hate talk about gays and Muslims. Considering how the support of the gay marriage amendment has translated into open season on all kinds of intolerance and hate against gays in the States, I worry that if the Supreme Court allows municipal displays of the Ten Commandments, the Christian Right will inflate this into state endorsement of their own brand of evangelical, militant Christianity, declaring open season on all other religions and on any disagreement with their beliefs. It's scary stuff -- and what would Jesus do?

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Climbing Everest 

Hockey night on Mt. Everest
Ever since I read Into Thin Air I have been fascinated with the annual Everest expeditions. They begin each year in March, when the climbers arrive at the base of the mountain. They work their way up the Everest base camps throughout April and into May, gradually acclimatizing to the altitude, the cold, and the lack of oxygen. The one-day push to the summit from the fourth base camp usually happens sometime between May 5 to 25, depending on weather. A number of the expeditions now run websites which are compelling to check, particularly as the climbers ready themselves for the last day, the climb to the top -- by then, the climbers are close to their limit in managing at these altitudes, with some of the trickiest climbing just a few meters from the top.
This year's Canadian expedition aims to play hockey on the Khumbu glacier -- the Sherpas will undoubtedly view the whole thing as just another example of Western madness. Hey, maybe this is where they can award the Stanley Cup this year!
Here is the glacier where they will be playing:

Everest is the mountain on the left. See here for other Everest photos.

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Meaningless positioning 

Anti-Abortion Dem. to Seek Pa. Nomination
You know, I get a kick out of headlines like this.
The only thing worthy of note about this man, apparently, is that he is anti-abortion and a Democrat.
And his being anti-abortion, in this particular electoral office, is virtually meaningless -- what power has any Senator ever had to outlaw abortion? None, really. Yes, they passed some kind of late term abortion law a couple of years ago, but wasn't it overturned?
Anyway, what gives me a chuckle is how often politicians run on, or get publicity about, policies about which they can do nothing.
Its like a rural alderman running on a platform of relieving taxpayers from education taxes -- easy to say this, considering that municipal governments have nothing to do with how the schools are managed.
Or a provincial politician running on a platform of changing the equalization formula -- this is a federal formula, not a provincial one, so provincial MLAs can't really promise to do anything about it.
Or a federal politician saying he will make sure new highways are built in the constituency -- again, this is a provincial matter and all the feds can do is give provinces some money and hope they might use it to improve a particular highway.
But politicians won't stop doing this kind of thing until their public draws them up short, and says -- hey, tell me what you CAN do something about, instead of pandering to me about policies that you are powerless to implement.

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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Has he got a deal for you! 


From The Hill, via MyDD.

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Friday, March 04, 2005

Changing feet 

POGGE points to this Paul Wells post Why doesn't Frank McKenna resign?
McKenna seems to open his mouth only to change feet.
So what's he going to say next? Let's have a contest!
Will he sympathize with the US about the recent WTO ruling on their cotton subsidies by telling them how we subsidize our lumber even more?
Or maybe he'll start talking about how Canadians appreciate the US for letting us fight with them in Afghanistan even though our soldiers aren't really doing anything important.
Or maybe he will entangle us in the red state/blue state thing by telling Americans how Canadians only enjoy visiting the blue states.
Or maybe he will talk about how important it is for Canada to keep its Muslim citizens out of sight and away from the border, so the Americans don't get pissed off.
Gee, there's just so many things he could say, aren't there . . . stay tuned.

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You ain't seen nu-nu-nuthin yet 

Winnipeg Sun: Way to go, rock fans Every time we watch a show on CTV now, we are deluged with ads for the Junos. Why I don't know, because there are no tickets left, and its still weeks away -- my son says its because the ads for a Canadian TV show also count as "Canadian content" in the CRTC rules -- can this be true?
Anyway, every time I saw a Juno ad about some star who would be performing, all I could think of was how stupid the Juno organizers were -- making such a big deal about holding this event in Winnipeg, and then not inviting Randy Bachman or Burton Cummings to perform, the people who put Winnipeg on the map musically. We've seen both Bachman and Cummings do shows over the years, and they are both terrific performers, too.
So now, though still with obvious bad grace, the Junos have caved -- Bachman and Cummings will perform.
And they will blow everyone away.
Perhaps the reason the Juno organizers didn't want them was exactly that -- they are so good, they will show up the award-winners!

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Tragedy with a gun 

Police Probe Mountie Killings As Canada Mourns
Its been over a century since four Mounties were killed in a single incident.
I am sad for them and their families and coworkers, of course, but also for the town. We visited some friends in Mayerthorpe a few years ago. -- they were so happy there, so proud of the town in which they had built their life and raised their children - showing off the town swimming pool, their store, their comfortable house. Now, the whole town has this tragedy to deal with. But they are strong, and they will heal.

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One simple-minded atrocity at a time 

Digby's piece Kill Chill talks about the broader implications of the Afghan prisoner who was left to freeze to death --
There are many, many questionable deaths and not in the field of battle. Junior's ill advised edict to "take the gloves off" resulted in unknown numbers of innocent or only mariginally involved people being killed, tortured and imprisoned. It seems that every day new evidence emerges that troops were ordered to behave like animals in the pursuit of this enemy and for no real purpose except indulging a barbaric bloodlust.

The justification for this barbarity is a self-indulgent and self-serving perception of 9/11, resulting in panic and hysteria.
. . . the overarching theme of abject panic at the threat of 'Islamofascism' applies to all aspects of the Republican approach to the 'GWOT.' From the minute the WTC was attacked their immediate response was to say that this threat is completely unprecedented. Therefore there are absolutely no limits to how much pain and suffering we are allowed to inflict and no limit to the freedoms we are allowed to restrict because this is the worst thing that ever happened to any nation or people in the history of the world. And anyone who doesn't agree is nothing more than a treasonous girly man. The only problem is, it just isn't true. These guys were nothing but quivering hysterical panic artists. Why they are considered to be such tough guys, I will never know. Grace under pressure certainly isn't their strong suit, that's for sure.
The damage they have done to this country's sense of itself as a moral force for good, however, cannot be papered over with soaring speeches about freedom and liberty. Leaving that naked prisoner (so many naked prisoners!) to die of the cold that night is just one of the many ways in which these puerile egotists sold this country down the river one simple minded atrocity at a time.

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She's out 

Yahoo! News - Martha Stewart Leaves Federal Prison
And I am glad.
The Stewart conviction was a miscarriage of justice -- the jurors seemed to think they were striking some kind of blow against the rich by finding her guilty, though the evidence of her guilt just wasn't there. I admire her for sucking it up and doing the time. She'll be back on top pretty soon.

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It's the Charter, Stupid 

Young Liberals push gay marriage
I like their slogan -- it makes the right point.

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

He did it! 


I've been following this story for the past two days. Steve Fossett is described in the news stories as a "millionaire adventurer" -- what a life this would be!
If I had a million dollars . . .

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Excommunicate this! 

Yahoo! News - Bishop Calls for PM's Excommunication
So, excommunicate him.
But if you do, Mr. Bishop, then you also have to excommunicate:
All the Catholics who have ever been divorced.
And all the Catholics who have ever used birth control.
And all the Catholic women who have ever had an abortion.
And all the Catholic doctors who have ever prescribed birth control for a patient.
And all the Catholic pharmacists who have ever dispensed birth control.
And all the gays.
And all the Catholics who fought in the Iraq War.
And all the Catholic politicians worldwide who voted in favour of it. I think there may have been several in Italy, and in Spain. . .
Shall we continue?

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War Crimes R Us 

CIA Avoids Scrutiny of Detainee Treatment (washingtonpost.com)
Well, maybe the Washington Post can shame the Republican senators into investigating this kind of stuff:
"In November 2002, a newly minted CIA case officer in charge of a secret prison just north of Kabul allegedly ordered guards to strip naked an uncooperative young Afghan detainee, chain him to the concrete floor and leave him there overnight without blankets, according to four U.S. government officials aware of the case. The Afghan guards -- paid by the CIA and working under CIA supervision in an abandoned warehouse code-named the Salt Pit -- dragged their captive around on the concrete floor, bruising and scraping his skin, before putting him in his cell, two of the officials said.
As night fell, so, predictably, did the temperature.
By morning, the Afghan man had frozen to death.
After a quick autopsy by a CIA medic -- "hypothermia" was listed as the cause of death -- the guards buried the Afghan, who was in his twenties, in an unmarked, unacknowledged cemetery used by Afghan forces, officials said. The captive's family has never been notified; his remains have never been returned for burial. He is on no one's registry of captives, not even as a "ghost detainee," the term for CIA captives held in military prisons but not registered on the books, they said. "He just disappeared from the face of the earth," said one U.S. government official with knowledge of the case."

Or maybe not -- after all, they're awfully busy passing bills to make it harder for people bankrupted by medical costs to declare bankruptcy, and trying to sell the destruction of their social security system to a skeptical public. They don't really have the time or the interest to investigate what their own employees are doing in the name of the United States government.
As the stories continue to emerge, it becomes clearer exactly WHY the CIA wanted then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to give them legal cover for torture. And why Bush pulled the US out of the International Court in December of 2002.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

So why are we surprised? 

CANOE -- CNEWS - Canada: Canadian beef producers 'devastated' by latest mad cow setback: "Canada's beef producers were stunned Wednesday by yet another setback as an American judge agreed to postpone the opening of the U.S. border to live cattle due to continuing fears about mad cow disease. 'It's a disaster for our industry again,' feedlot operator Rick Paskal said"
So that tears it -- we can, I think, count on at least six more months before the border opens, if then. The Montana cattlemen will keep fighting this in every court they can find, as long as they can -- and when they're done, maybe some cattlemen in North Dakota will start running to court, or Washington State.
And why is this so surprising to the cattle industry here? I said back in January that we could likely expect US politicians to seize on the new BSE cases to keep the border closed.

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Its about time 

The Globe and Mail: Zundel deported, on way to Germany. He's gone, and he's not coming back. And its about time. When trolling through some of the US right-wing white supremist sites a few weeks ago, I was amazed to realize how the Zundel case is viewed as some sort of international cause celebre. Creepy.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Pit bulls are a risk that society no longer wants to take 

The Globe and Mail: Ontario bans pit bulls
My sister and I have had lots of arguments about this kind of legislation. She is a dog trainer who has an almost magical ability to work with dogs, and with their owners -- she know a lot about how dogs think, so she can often figure out some way that an owner can deal with dog misbehaviour, or just dog annoying behaviour, and she does a number of individual consultations with owners who are at their wits end in dealing with a doggy problem. Anyway, she disagrees with anti-breed legislation, saying it is the owners that are the problem not the dogs.
Pitbulls are not the only dangerous breed around -- shepards, spaniels, labs, dobermanns, rotweilers, can be abused and can become untrustworthy. We own two yellow labs, and I know how strong these dogs are -- if they wanted to take off, I would not be capable of holding them back physically. But they are good dogs to work with, and they listen to us -- and we have trained them for bite inhibition, which all owners of dogs in a city should do.
And we have also gone through the agony, a few years ago, of putting a dog to sleep which we had got from the SPCA, which turned out to be so emotionally damaged by his previous life as to be untrustworthy around children.
But pitbulls have a tenacity in fighting that most other breeds do not have, and also seem to be the dog of choice for the worst owners. While I agree it is the owners that are the problem, I feel that society can no longer take the risk with strong, potentially violent breeds like pitbulls -- the consequences of bad ownership are too horrific.
If a bad owner owns a dashund or a toy poodle, well, so what if they jump up and bite you on the kneecap?
But if a bad owner owns a pitbull, that dog can kill a child. The other benefit of this legislation is that it will stop the unprincipled breeders who are breeding and selling these dogs.
Anyway, that's what I believe. But my sister also sees the tragedy of the dogs who could be saved if they only had owners who cared.

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Here's the link 

NFB - Two Oscar� nominations for the NFB
Here's the link for the two Oscar-nominated NFB films -- including Ryan, which won.

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It's a growth industry 

Yahoo! News - Elderly Couple Accused of Selling Pot Well, this is the first time I've seen a story like this, but considering how us baby boomers are getting older, it won't be the last.

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