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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Gonzo bulls--t! 

I hate this kind of gonzo reporting.
Sun media is trumpeting to a breathless public that "Federal justice department employees have played fast and loose with travel and hospitality rules and cost taxpayers a bundle, an internal audit reveals"
This isn't true at all. Its an inflated story manufactured to embarass the government and a bunch of civil servants who have done virtually nothing wrong.
Here's the actual report Travel and Hospitality - March 2005. The auditors reviewed 331 travel expense claims from a two year period, and found 4 (that's right, four) where the civil servants submitted incorrect claims for personal travel combined with business travel, and one or two where there was some kind of fraud -- the report notes that a civil servant has been fired. Oh, yeah, and there were a few instances where the travel permission form wasn't filled out in quite as much detail as Treasury Board requires, like sometimes it didn't specify the exact kind of air travel authorized, and sometimes the form didn't explain why a government-approved hotel had not been used. The report also notes in its Introduction, however, that the these travel claims are mostly small beer:
. . . a large percentage of the Department's travel transactions are small. For example, in the two fiscal years 2002–2003 and 2003–2004, on average, approximately 70 percent of travel that was classified as Travel–Public Servants was for claims of $500 or less. Similarly, over the same two fiscal years, approximately 85 percent of departmental hospitality claims were for $500 or less.
Its too bad nobody bothered to read the report before writing this story. At least the story admits, rather grudginly, that the department cut its travel expenses in half from 2002-03 to 2003-04, though apparently saving us taxpayers $6 million a year isn't deserving of any credit.

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Accident update 

Well, so for the last 18 months we've been planning this trip to Britain -- my first time ever overseas, going with my husband and sister and brother to see the Crufts dog show, spend St. Patricks day in Dublin, plus see London and Edinburgh. Trip of a lifetime and we were supposed to leave next Wednesday.
So today my doctor tells me that its not likely that I will be well enough to go -- I still have pain in my chest from the broken ribs, and in my neck from whiplash, I cannot sleep for more than about three hours at a time, I am still using Tylenol #3s, my knee is still bunged up so I cannot walk very well, and I still have enough problems with edema in my legs that I might not be able to tolerate the flight either.
But, but, but...
So my sister and brother are likely going to go anyway, but my husband and I will likely stay behind -- we have to use the airmiles by next August, so hopefully we'll go somewhere by then, maybe still to Britain if we can.
And yes, I'm happy to be alive and that it wasn't worse and all that, and as my husband said, England will still be there even if we cannot get to it until later. But damnit all anyway, I had PLANS...
When I broke my leg ten years ago, I remember lying there in the hospital, and I had this vision that somewhere my real life was still going on, and that even though I had taken this sudden detour sideways, somewhere there was another Me, the Real Me, who was going on with life as usual.
So I now see, next Wednesday, the Real Me getting on that plane and flying off to a wonderful holiday in England -- leaving me behind.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Ideas that kill people 

Odd, isn't it -- when we look at history, the "idea" is frequently blamed for bloodshed and mayhem -- I'm thinking about the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries, when catholics fought protestants, and various kinds of protestants fought each other, and it was pretty clear that the basic cause of the conflict was their differing ideas of God. And likewise in the 20th century, when fascism fought democracy, and when communism fought capitalism. Nobody had any problems with the concept that some ideas are proven to be right by history, while others are proven to be wrong.
So what is so different now about the loss of the war in Iraq? It was a bad idea in the first place and lots of people said it was a bad idea -- illegal, for one thing, because the US didn't even dare ask the Security Council to vote on the war for fear that not only would the war be vetoed, they wouldn't even get a majority in favour -- and immoral, a war which caused more people around the world to march against it than any other war in world history.
And even now, the pro-war neocons refuse to accept that their idea was wrong. Digby sums up the neocon narrative:
. . . neocon shills like Kristol will soothe the rubes with tales of how the Bush administration tied the military's hands. If they'd have let them go they could have gotten the job done in a couple of weeks. We could have bombed em back into the stone age if necessary. After all, everything turned out just great with Japan and Germany. But, no. They wouldn't let our brave men and women get the job done. (Of course you can't blame them too much. It was the dominant Democrat hippies who made them do it.)
It gives the Republicans a good excuse to run on 'restoring honor' to the country. The rubes eat it up and get all excited about proving ourselves in the next war. A war we must fight for freedom and democracy, of course. Because we're so good . . .
Darn it, yes, the United States is good. But this war was bad, and now its broken and no one knows how to fix it.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Revising history before its even written 

It is both outrageous and ridiculous that American wingnuts are blaming the loss of the war in Iraq on Democrats and liberals -- who didn't want to go to war in the first place, and have been in charge of absolutely nothing since six months before the war even started.
But I guess the wingnuts will soon learn how it feels -- Iran is going to blame the Iraq civil war on America and Israel, instead of on Al Quaeda. And there is nothing that will change this perception among Muslims. From Iraq Dispatches: Who Benefits?:
"Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, urged Iraqi Shia not to seek revenge against Sunni Muslims, saying there were definite plots "to force the Shia to attack the mosques and other properties respected by the Sunni. Any measure to contribute to that direction is helping the enemies of Islam and is forbidden by sharia." Instead, he blamed the intelligence services of the U.S. and Israel for being behind the bombs at the Golden Mosque.

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Living deja vu 

I'm living my life in reverse. When did someone hit the rewind switch?
Battles I had in my 20s an 30s, which I thought were settled, done-with, bought-the-tshirt OVER, I find myself fighting again.
Yesterday, it was abortion. Today, it's women's rights -- ie, this column about how society would be better off if women stayed home with their kids instead of running off to be lawyers or engineers or, I suppose, columnists. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Tomorrow, I suppose I'll be reading something about how women shouldn't complain about doing all the housework because, after all, its just so important that the family laundry be done really well.
Well, I was going to write some sort of brilliant reply to Cohen but then I ran out of energy -- have to wax the kitchen taps this afternoon, as well as crocheting my spring wardrobe, so I just don't have time...

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Weekend open thread 


And I just couldn't resist this photo.
By the way, I haven't done an accident update lately so here it is: slowly healing. It is taking a lot longer than I ever thought, but the ribs are healing now and the swelling in my legs is going down and the bruises are fading. The knee is still sore when I move it, particularly when I stand up, but the doctor says we'll see in a couple of months if that has improved because if not then I would need arthroscopic surgery for which there is a nine month waiting list anyway.

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Oh, darn, isn't that just too bad... 

This story on the Libby request for intelligence briefing materials notes that
the judge . . . is concerned that Libby's request could 'sabotage' the case because President Bush probably will invoke executive privilege and refuse to turn over the classified reports. 'If the executive branch says, 'This is too important to the welfare of the nation and we're not going to comply,' the criminal prosecution goes away.'
Well, duhhh -- that's exactly the point.
Libby and the White House are engaged in a complicated little dance here -- trying to get the judge to agree that Libby needs some particular classifed document for his defense, which then the White House can refuse to turn over, so that the prosecution falls apart.
And then everybody says, Oh, darn, isn't that just too bad...

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Thank you so, so much 

Women will be so thankful.
The Associated Press story about the South Dakota abortion ban quotes a woman named Leslee Unruh, president of a Sioux Falls pregnancy counseling agency, who said that most of the 800 abortions which are presently being performed annually in South Dakota were simply "conveniences", that most South Dakota women wanted the state to ban abortion, and many who have had abortions "wish someone would have stopped them."
You see, we women just don't know what's best for us -- it will be so wonderful when women in the United States show the way to the rest of us by losing the right to make their own decision on abortion. And we'll be ever so grateful -- yes, we will -- when we are stopped from making our own decisions and instead we have to go crawling into some hospital committee for permission to have an abortion if we can convince them that continuing the pregnancy will kill us -- before it actually does. And we'll all be so thankful that someone will control our bodies for us since obviously we cannot control ourselves and we have sex and all that evil stuff...

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Great line of the day 

From Hullabaloo, Tristero writes a letter:
Dear God,
Please deliver us from the hideous locust plague of conservative pseudo-intellectuals. Sinners we may be in Thine eyes, and unworthy of thy Divine Love, but Jesus Kee-rist! Cut us some friggin' slack, already! Fire and brimstone, eternal damnation, I ain't gonna argue with you. But, seriously, God, we really don't deserve any more Fukuyamas, y'know? So ease up.
Please.
Love,
Tristero

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And that's what its all about 

So I'm flipping through websites thinking about blogging about something, but its all just so damned depressing - civil war in Iraq and the Bush administration screwing up and the hockey team melting down and on and on, when I find this posted by susanhu at Booman:
. . . Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote 'The Hokey Pokey,' died peacefully at the age of 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin.
They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started . . .

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Men just don't understand 

Of course the BC finance minister spent $600 on a pair of shoes. If you want an economy, you have to pay for it.

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What Canada is all about 

This is what Canada is all about:
Canadian soldiers sent an Afghan boy with a massive tumour on his face to a cancer hospital in Pakistan early Thursday morning, where he will likely live out his final days in a little less pain . . Touched by the boy's cries of pain and knowing a modern cancer hospital exists in Pakistan, Cpl. Brian Sanders, an ambulance driver at the camp, contacted his church in Edmonton to see if it could help. The North Edmonton Christian Fellowship church raised $10,000 Sunday morning, with money still flowing in after news reports publicized Namatullah's case . . .
We can't save them all, but we still do what we can to save some.

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Great line of the day 

Here is Dibgy on The Trifecta: "If there are three hallmarks of this failed Bush administration, it is hubris, incompetence and cronyism. This port deal features all three."

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"When solder #3,000 dies, I get a free juicer!" 

Seeing this story about people getting arrested for selling guerrilla t-shirts reminded me that my son said I should check out this website -- T-Shirt Hell, which sells shirts with slogans like "When solder #3,000 dies, I get a free juicer!" and "Dumbledore dies on page 596. I just saved you 4 hours and $30" and "I'm not getting jiggy, I have Parkinson's" and "You'll regret reading this shirt when the sketch artist asks you to describe my face", and a baby's t-shirt that reads "Now that I'm safe, I'm pro-choice" .

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Grotesque Guantanamo nonsense 

Here are some nonsesical quotes from a New York Times article describing the grotesque force-feeding at Guantnamo of hunger strikers:
Military spokesmen have generally discounted the complaints, saying the prisoners are for the most part terrorists, trained by Al Qaeda to use false stories as propaganda . . . Capt. John S. Edmondson of the Navy, wrote that his staff was not force-feeding any detainees but "providing nutritional supplementation on a voluntary basis to detainees who wish to protest their confinement by not taking oral nourishment." . . . General Craddock suggested that the medical staff had indulged the hunger strikers to the point that they had been allowed to choose the color of their feeding tubes . . . Two other Defense Department officials said a decision had been made to try to break the hunger strikes because they were having a disruptive effect and causing stress for the medical staff.
So its just a little bit stressful for the poor staff, is it, who have to strap prisoners into restraint chairs and repeatedly force those colour-coordinated feeding tubes down their throats while the prisoners are bleeding and vomiting and urinating and defecating all over the place? But of course, all those terrorists prisoners are just lying about how awful it all is, except for the hundreds who are innocent, I guess. But they don't think they're really force-feeding anyone, just "providing nutritional supplementation" and its all so "voluntary" that people are choosing the colour of their feeding tube -- which sort of begs the question of why the staff are finding it all so stressful.
Just how stupid does the American military think people are, that they would believe all this tripe?
Or how delusional are these military people themselves?

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

"Anti-gay adoption" will get out the Republican vote 

Well, here it is -- USA Today is reporting that banning gay adoption will be voted on in 16 states in November, 2006.
I've been watching for this -- I knew there would be SOMETHING that would be used to get the Republican vote out.
In 2004, the ballot initiatives against gay marriage gave Karl Rove enough of the Christian wingnut vote that Bush was reelected. Now, while the Democrats are howling after the UAE port deal and Abramoff and illegal wiretaps and Kartina and Iraq and all the other Bush administration foul-ups, the Republicans are terrified about trying to save enough Senate and the House seats to maintain control of the US government committees.
They must prevent committee investigations of the Bush administration at all costs. The word they DO NOT want to hear is "subpoena". And state votes against gay adoption will be their ticket.
Republicans are trying to keep this under the radar. The USA Today article says:
Republican pollster Whit Ayres [says] adoption . . . "doesn't have the emotional power of the gay marriage issue because there is no such thing as the phrase 'the sanctity of adoption.'
That's just BS -- gay adoption has even more power than the gay marriage argument to bring out the wingnut vote.
If there is anything Karl Rove loves, it is whisper campaigns. We all saw how easy it was to create public hysteria about the day-care-centre-as-Satanic-cult prosecutions of the 1990s. With gay adoption, its going to be really easy to develop an under-the-radar whisper campaign about a gay-recruitment and pedophila-agenda subtext.
Gay adoption doesn't have a prayer. And neither do the Democrats if they don't get cracking.

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What was the cut? 

"Former [Malaysian] Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Monday that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was paid $1.2 million to organize his 2002 meeting with President Bush . . . " Yeah, and George Bush, Karl Rove and the Republican Party never saw a penny of that money? Hmmmm...

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Great line of the day 

Tim at POGGE writes about the short shrift given to the Arar lawsuit by US courts: "Remember when we used to live next door to America? I miss that country."

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Monday, February 20, 2006

A damn good thrashing 



"Right! That's it! You've tried it on just once too often! Right! Well, don't say I haven't warned you! I've laid it on the line to you time and time again! Right! Well...this is it! I'm going to give you a damn good thrashing!" -- Basil thrashing his car with a tree branch when it won't start.
Now comes the news that many of us talk to our cars. Reuters reports on a British survey:
Nearly half of motorists regularly talk to their cars, giving words of encouragement ahead of a long trip and lavishing praise for a job well done at journey's end, according to research on Monday. A survey of 2,000 owners also found 40 percent thought their car had a personality and was capable of being upset whilst 19 percent worried about how their car was feeling.
The poll, conducted by organisers of July's British International Motor Show found women rather than men tended to have a close relationship with their car. Giving a pet name to their car but not their human partners was admitted to by 20 percent of women...
What they didn't survey was how many of us talk to other drivers -- I'll bet its just about everybody, and thank heavens those idiots cannot hear us insult them.
There is one thing that we all share, and that is the inner conviction that each of us has -- "I am an above-average driver".
My kids learned to swear by listening to me behind the wheel, though of course I always blamed it on their friends.

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Great line of the day 

Digby writes:
I was just watching Bush give a speech and he said "it makes sense for the government to incent people."
I've never really subscribed to the great man theory, but I have to say that in my experience organizations do take their cues from the person at the top. When you have a president who says things this ridiculous every single day, for more than five years, I think it's safe to say that he is a boob. And his government is a perfect reflection of him: incompetent, arrogant, short-sighted, impulsive, secretive. A failure. That is the story of Bush's life. Let no one ever say again that it doesn't matter who the president is becuase he'll have great people around him. Bush's government is as bad as anyone could have predicted when we saw him flub that answer about foreigh leaders back in 1999 --- he was clearly unprepared and unqualified. And he's proven it.
Emphasis mine.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Olympics 


Well, its turning out to be a pretty good Olympics so far for Canada. I've been watching a lot of the coverage and this year enjoying how CBC is doing it -- not as many of those annoying "Life in Turin" type of filler pieces, and more coverage of the sports themselves.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that we already have so many medals -- 5th in the medal standings so far -- that always makes an event like the Olympics better. Its going to be a good building process for Vancuver in 2010.
And am I wrong, or doesn't it seem as though we have as many black people on our team as the United States does on theirs? But we don't get to boast just yet -- because where are the Aboriginal athletes who should be on our team?

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Deeply sorry 

Harry Whittington apologized today for being shot by Dick Cheney. "My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice-President Cheney and his family have had to go through this week," Whittington said.
In other news, Liberal leader Paul Martin apologized today for David Emerson betraying the voters of Vancouver Kingsway to join the Conservative cabinet, and Buzz Hargrove said he was sorry for putting the Ontario NDP to all the trouble of suspending him. Ralph Klein expressed regret to Aboriginal Canadians that the Western Standard magazine printed a racial slur against Klein's wife.
On the international scene, Hamas took full responsibility for winning the recent elections in Palestine and thus causing such difficulties for both Israel and the United States, and the prisoners in Guantanamo apologized to the United States for overturning two centuries of international and constitutional law just to manufacture an excuse for jailing some Afghan and Iraqi teenagers.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Great lines of the day 

At Daily Kos, SusanG notes that Rumsfeld is now trying to make the argument that the US military is woefully behind the guys living in caves in terms of being tech savvy.
All I can muster is ... huh? I feel like a movie reel has been switched and I'm watching the second half of a completely different movie than the one I walked into. Kinda like starting out in the Last of the Mohicans and ending up in The Matrix . . . So let me see if I have this straight. These same "dead-enders," "remnants of defeated regimes," "small number of terrorists, a small number of militias, coupled with some demonstrations and some lawlessness," these are the same losers who now are suddenly relegated to some category of Blackberry-wielding, VOIP-using, IM'ing wizzes, operating in a country with a few hours of electricity per day? Is that the scenario? Or am I missing an episode in a trilogy? You know, every time Rumsfeld speaks, I feel a little stupider. Here we are, arguably the most industrialized nation in the world, the home of Silicon Valley and Bill Gates and NASA, and our defense secretary is trying to sell us on the idea that we're getting our asses whupped by people he'd previously designated as unaffiliated, dying-gasp, disgruntled losers who are reluctant to enter the 21st century and partake of the fruits of democracy and capitalism with us. If I missed a transitional phase, forgive me.
Emphasis mine.

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Hearts and minds 

Bush and company keep trying to compare Iraq to World War II. And indeed they may have a point -- if you think of the Americans as playing the German role this time.
A few months ago, when we first started watching the TV series "Over There", I commented on this blog that it was like watching a TV show about the occupation of France as told from the German side.
Now the war movies are being made -- like this one now showing in Turkey:
The crowd cheered, clapped and whistled as the Turkish agent plunged the knife into the chest of the enemy commander. "Valley of the Wolves - Iraq," which opened last week in movie theaters in Turkey, Austria and Germany, is a Rambo-like action story involving Turkish gunmen who seek revenge against a tyrannical occupying army.
In this version, however, at $10 million the most expensive movie ever made in Turkey, the enemy is no oppressive Third World dictatorship. The commander's name is Sam - as in uncle - and the opposing forces are the Americans, who are being punished for offenses against Turkish as well as Iraqi pride and honor. The commander, Sam William Marshall, played by an American actor, Billy Zane, is a sociopath, killing people without a second's thought and claiming that he is doing God's will . . .
The opening sequence portrays an incident that made headlines here in 2003, when a group of Turkish special forces soldiers in Iraq were taken into custody by U.S. Marines. The Turks, mistaken for insurgents, were handcuffed and held with hoods over their heads, which rankled many Turks. Other scenes show ruthless marines killing Iraqis, and soldiers mistreating inmates at Abu Ghraib prison, as well as an American Jewish surgeon, played by Gary Busey, who takes what look like kidneys from inmates during surgery to New York, London and Israel - all, according to the screenwriter, Bahadir Ozdener, inspired by real events . . .
The plot focuses on the hooding incident and its aftermath. The commander of the Turkish soldiers returns home in humiliation, believing that his honor has been so compromised that he has no choice but to commit suicide. But he leaves a note to the hero, a Turkish intelligence agent named Polat Alemdar, pleading with him to defend the country's honor that he had so disserved. So Alemdar leads a small team of special operations soldiers into northern Iraq, where they are astonished and outraged at what they find. "They were after the man who insulted the Turkish soldiers, but they couldn't believe their eyes when they saw the situation there," reads the movie's Web site. "The people of Iraq's values, personalities and history were completely being disregarded. The desired new order was forcing an unacceptable change on the people. The one who is responsible for these unendurable crimes against humanity is a Special Forces commander called Sam William Marshall." Marshall then orders a raid on a wedding, where trigger-happy marines get spooked and kill scores of civilians. It is all in pursuit of his plan to pacify the people through intimidation and violence, all according to God's will and for their own good. Until, ultimately, Alemdar catches up with him.
And here, from this Knight-Ridder story about Samarra is another scene from a movie yet to be made:
. . . Five days after the grenade attack, Lt. Call and his men from the 2nd platoon were planning an afternoon "hearts and minds" foot patrol to hand out soccer balls to local kids.
As Call sat in the schoolhouse, preparing to go out, he heard two loud bursts from the .50-caliber machine gun on the roof . . . Call and his men dashed out the front door. Pena had shot an unarmed Iraqi man on the street. The man had walked past the signs that mark the 200-yard "disable zone" that surrounds the Alamo and into the 100-yard "kill zone" around the base. The Army had forced the residents of the block to leave the houses last year to create the security perimeter. . . . Looking at the man splayed on the ground, Call turned to his medic, Specialist Patrick McCreery, and asked, "What the f--- was he doing?"
McCreery didn't answer. The man's internal organs were hanging out of his side, and his blood was pouring across the ground. He was conscious and groaning. His eyelids hung halfway closed.
"What ... did they shoot him with?" McCreery asked, sweat beginning to show on his brow. "Did someone call a ... ambulance?"
The call to prayer was starting at a mosque down the street. The words "Allahu Akbar" - God is great - wafted down from a minaret's speakers.
The man looked up at the sky as he heard the words. He repeated the phrase "Ya Allah. Ya Allah. Ya Allah." Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.
He looked at McCreery and raised his finger toward the house in front of him.
"This my house," he said in broken English.
McCreery reached down. With his hands cupped, he shoved the man's organs back into his body and held them in place as Call unwrapped a bandage to put around the hole.
"He's fading, he's fading," McCreery shouted.
Looking into the dying man's eyes, the medic said, "Haji, haji, look at me," using the honorific title reserved for older Muslim men who presumably have gone on Hajj - pilgrimage - to Mecca.
"Why? Why?" asked the man, his eyes beginning to close.
"Haji, I don't know," said McCreery, sweat pouring down his face.
An Iraqi ambulance pulled up and the Humvees followed. They followed the man to the hospital they'd raided a few days earlier. The soldiers filed in and watched as the man died.
Call said nothing. McCreery, a 35-year-old former foundry worker from Levering, Mich., walked toward a wall, alone. He looked at the dead man for a moment and wiped tears from his eyes.
A few days later, Call's commander asked him to take pictures of the entrails left by the man Pena had shot, identified as Wissam Abbas, age 31, to document that Abbas was inside the sign warning of deadly force.
McHenry, who was driving, told him, "There's not going to be much left, sir. The dogs will have eaten all of it."
Pena was up on the schoolhouse roof manning the same .50-caliber machine gun. He didn't say a word about the man he'd killed. As he stared at a patch of earth in front of him, at Samarra and its wreckage, he couldn't contain his frustration.
"No one told me why I'm putting my life on the line in Samarra, and you know why they didn't?" Pena asked. "Because there is no f------ reason."
And does anybody think a few soccer balls are going to make up for this?

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Play ball! 

The crowd is getting a little restless as the batter keeps stepping out of the box and taking a few more practice swings.
So we've already heard about what the Conservatives are NOT going to be doing right away -- they're not going to fix the so-called fiscal imbalance until 2007; and they don't support trading of emissions credits to help the world meet its Kyoto emissions targets.
But its been a month since the election, and we're still waiting to hear about all the other things they promised to do.
Are they going to implement their new family allowance plan, and pull the rug out from under the provinces on the day care space funding which the Liberals promised?
What about the infrastructure funding for the municipalities -- you said you would implement what the Liberals had promised but why haven't the municipalities heard anything yet?
Where's that GST reduction -- or are you going to have to raise our income taxes again first?
It's time to step up to the plate and start swinging, boys.

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An idea whose time has come 

An Ontario New Democrat has introduced a private members bill which would allow doctors to harvest organs for transplants unless told not to do so. In my opinion, this is an excellent idea, and I don't understand why anyone would vote against it.
The proposed bill says that anyone who, for religious or other reasons, does not want to donate organs can refuse to do so.
But everyone else shares, without having to remember to sign an organ donor card. And why not? Of what possible use are my organs to me after I am dead? Yet for someone else, they can be lifesaving. Sure, I have my organ donation card signed and in my wallet, but maybe the hospital doesn't find it in time, or maybe my next-of-kin get squeamish and say no.
The bizarre aspect of this news story is the comparison that the anti-abortion group Campaign Life Coalition makes to the Rogers Cable negative option billing proposal of several years ago, postulating that because people didn't like that proposal they won't like this one either. Its not really the same, guys -- one is about needless TV stations, and the other is about saving people's lives. I think Canadians will understand the difference.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Who does Ezra Levant think he is? 

So he endangers Canadians overseas by gratuitously printing the Mohammed cartoons, and now he slimes Colleen Klein, wife of Ralph Klein, by gratuitously printing a racist slur against her. Congratulations to Air Canada for stopping its distribution of this magazine. And I hope other bookstores follow McNally Robinson's lead and refuse to sell the Western Standard.
Hate speech is not a standard of western Canada.

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Disappearing act 

Just when I am wondering whether I had missed something, comes this Globe story -- Why has Stephen Harper stayed out of sight? I was starting to think there had been some news stories about the doings of Harper and the federal government which I hadn't seen for some reason, but here is the Globe confirming that after leaving Emerson and Fortier hanging out to dry last week, Harper just disappeared.
So its not me, its him.
Seems to me that he has done this in the past, too -- pulled disappearing acts when nobody knew for weeks at a time what he was doing. Maybe its his style -- the Prime Minister who jumps down the rabbit hole.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Oooh, smart move, guys! 

So after hemming and hawing all day yesterday, the White House finally decides that it should try to make a joke of the Cheney shooting incident -- "White House Finds Humor in Hunting Mishap"
And then what happens? "Hunter shot by Cheney has heart attack"
Great timing, guys.
And meanwhile the rumours start to swirl -- that Cheney was drunk, that he was weekending with another woman, Oh, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy...

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Publicity hounds 

As I read this column -- Gretzky undaunted -- I remembered the one thing about American jurisprudence which should never be forgotten: never underestimate the desire of US prosecutors for publicity.
Their dinky little gambling case against a state trooper and an assistant coach hit the big time just because they were able to drag Janet and Wayne Gretzky into it.

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Al Gore takes one for the team 

So, Al Gore has apologized to Muslims for how the US has treated them since 9/11. And the wingnuts are raking him over the coals for it.
But what they don't realize is that this isn't Al Gore's apology -- it is Condi Rice's apology. It may even be George Bush's apology.
There is no way that Al Gore would have ever gone to Saudi Arabia to say these things unless Rice had approved the trip, and maybe even instigated it. Condi herself could never have apologized for the racist brutality of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense -- but Al Gore is the one US politician who might be listened to by Muslim leaders. Now the Muslim leadership has the apology they needed, to help them cool down their own hotheads.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Accident update 3 

Well, well, here's sone news. I saw my doctor again today and had more chest xrays -- this time, they found three or maybe four broken ribs, and I may also have a bruised lung -- so no wonder it seemed to be taking a long time to feel better. Anyway, my doctor said I should stay home and rest for the rest of the week. The radiologist will be reading the xrays in a day or two, so I will have some more precise information after that.
And I guess they don't tape broken ribs anymore, so at least I escaped that.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Deja vu all over again 

I didn't watch the show but when I read Adrianna Hurrington's account of today's Meet the Press with Democrats Tom Daschle and Jane Harman, and Republicans Pat Roberts and Peter Hoekstra I had a strange sense of deja vu.
The way Huffington described it, Daschle and Harmon apparently spent most of the program wringing their hands -- not about how Bush's domestic wiretap program contravenes the US constitution, but rather about how Democrats have to prove their patriotism by supporting the program:
Senators Rockefeller and Daschle were not given the power to sign away our civil liberties. A Get Out of Jail Free card for Bush to break the law isn't theirs to give . . . I don't particularly care what the reaction by Rockefeller or Harman or Daschle was to the program. Their silence doesn't make it legal. The question is: what do we do about a President who's breaking the law? And, sadly, the answer, at least from Daschle and Harman, was this: instead of making him conform his actions to the law, we fix the law so that it conforms to whatever actions he wants to take.
And then I remembered why this seemed so familiar -- it is EXACTLY what Peter Daou said would happen, six weeks ago when he described how the wiretap scandal would likely follow the typical Bush scandal pattern:
1. POTUS circumvents the law - an impeachable offense.
2. The story breaks . . .
3. The Bush crew floats a number of pushback strategies, settling on one that becomes the mantra of virtually every Republican surrogate. These Republicans face down poorly prepped Dem surrogates and shred them on cable news shows.
4. Rightwing attack dogs on talk radio, blogs, cable nets, and conservative editorial pages maul Bush's critics as traitors for questioning the CIC.
5. The Republican leadership plays defense for Bush, no matter how flagrant the Bush over-reach, no matter how damaging the administration's actions to America's reputation and to the Constitution . . .
6. Left-leaning bloggers and online activists go ballistic . . . Several newspaper editorials echo these sentiments but quickly move on to other issues.
7. A few reliable Dems, Conyers, Boxer, et al, take a stand on principle, giving momentary hope to the progressive grassroots/netroots community. The rest of the Dem leadership is temporarily outraged (adding to that hope), but is chronically incapable of maintaining the sense of high indignation and focus required to reach critical mass and create a wholesale shift in public opinion.. . .
8. Reporters and media outlets obfuscate and equivocate, pretending to ask tough questions but essentially pushing the same narratives they've developed and perfected over the past five years, namely, some variation of "Bush firm, Dems soft." A range of Bush-protecting tactics are put into play, one being to ask ridiculously misleading questions such as "Should Bush have the right to protect Americans or should he cave in to Democratic political pressure?" All the while, the right assaults the "liberal" media for daring to tell anything resembling the truth.
9. Polls will emerge with 'proof' that half the public agrees that Bush should have the right to "protect Americans against terrorists." Again, the issue will be framed to mask the true nature of the malfeasance. The media will use these polls to create a self-fulfilling loop and convince the public that it isn't that bad after all. The president breaks the law. Life goes on.
10. The story starts blending into a long string of administration scandals, and through skillful use of scandal fatigue, Bush weathers the storm and moves on, further demoralizing his opponents and cementing the press narrative about his 'resolve' and toughness. Congressional hearings might revive the issue momentarily, and bloggers will hammer away at it, but the initial hype is all the Democratic leadership and the media can muster, and anyway, it's never as juicy the second time around...
I remember the reaction when Daou wrote that, on Dec. 20 -- so many American progressive bloggers were bound and determined that THIS TIME it wouldn't happen this way.
But if Daschle's craven bootlicking becomes the new Democratic line, then this is exactly what will happen -- the Washington Post already has a story up titled "Spying Necessary, Democrats Say" , which will be in page A3 of tomorrow's paper.
Not only did Meet the Press undermine Democratic outrage about this scandal, it also undermined the few Republicans who have tried to speak out against this program until now.

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The not-quite-ready-for-prime-time players 

Following the neocon dictate to create your own reality, Harper seems determined to ignore what the country is saying about his cabinet.
Maybe he thinks he can follow in Bush's footsteps and create a different reality, one where Canada will think his cabinet is just loverly. Maybe he thinks they're grow on us. Maybe he thinks Canadians will give his Cabinet time to "grow into the job".
But riddle me this -- how are these people going to be able to run a government when they can't even organize a press conference?
So far, these people seem to be "not quite ready" for prime time in Cabinet. I guess we'd better hope that some of those good Liberal civil servants and senators and judges are still hanging around, like Harper promised us they would be, to save us from this gang that can't shoot straight.
Hundreds rallied in Vancouver yesterday to call Emerson a traitor. Apparently, being merely the people who voted for Emerson two weeks ago, his constituents, they aren't worthy of any consideration from either Harper or Emerson -- as CBC reported in its story about the rally, "Emerson arrived in Vancouver from Ottawa on Friday night but he has yet to speak publicly to his constituents."
Yeah, they've noticed.
He cannot even seem to speak to the Ottawa press gallery. In the Ottawa Sun, Greg Weston describes the bizarre press-conference-that-wasn't on Thursday night:
As most media outlets were beginning to eyeball their Thursday evening deadlines this week, reporters were invited to dial into an unusual conference-call with Trade Minister David Emerson, the elect-and-eject defector from the losing Liberals, and one of the week’s many star public relations disasters for the new Conservative government. It was weird enough that Emerson was holding a press conference by phone with journalists only a few blocks away, not to mention infuriating for the television networks that would get no video. But when an operator came on the line after 30 minutes of elevator music, and announced there would be no press conference because Emerson was “stuck in traffic,” disbelieving journalists were left rolling in the aisles.
To summarize the depth of anger over the Harper cabinet picks, Murdock Davis writes in the Toronto Star - The West is in, and already it feels offended:
. . . In editorials, letters, coffee shops, on talk shows and the streets . . . The adjectives are harsh: corrupt, hypocritical, cynical, disloyal, manipulative, scandalous, deceitful, unprincipled, dishonest, and then some really bad ones. . . . The cynicism runs deep across the country, but especially in the West, where so many felt that in the new Conservative party they were getting politicians who believed what they said about ethics, accountability and democracy. It might be most among Harper's keenest supporters, creating an ugly wound where healing had occurred between the predominantly western Reform/Alliance group and the more eastern Tory group.
Within that western base, matters such as an elected Senate, honour, saying what you mean and meaning what you say, democratic reform and electoral ethics are core beliefs . . .

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Watch the news for these guys 

By the way, good catch for Canadian Cynic to report that Focus on the Family is now setting up shop in Ottawa -- hoping to be just the first in a long line of anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-feminist, anti-union wingnuts who can now begin spewing forth lots of bogus "studies" showing the awfulness of gay marriage, feminism, etc.
Watch for an uptick in editorial-page "opinion" pieces authored by these people or their fellow travellers.
And watch for newspapers to send their reporters dutifully trotting over to interview these guys and get some pithy quotes about the issue du jour -- maybe we'll find that Marge Barlow and the gang at Rabble will no longer be the "go-to" guys for social issue quotes.
Here Focus on the Family is calling themselves the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada so this is the name that will begin to pop up in editorial-page bylines and 'fair-and-balanced reaction' quotations.
Heading the think-tank is executive director Dave Quist, who has worked on the Hill for seven years—six years as executive assistant to former B.C. Conservative MP Reed Elley and one year in the office of the Leader of the Opposition. “I know how busy an MP’s office is, and quite honestly, there simply isn’t time in the day sometimes to do all the necessary research it takes to debate an issue,” he says. Joining Quist are two researchers, a communications director and a secretary. He also recently published the inaugural issue of IMFC Review, a twice-yearly magazine . . . Reinforcing that desire to be heard, Quist believes, is “a general awakening by the social conservative community across Canada…people asking, ‘How did we get here and what can we do to strengthen family in the years ahead through policy?" [Focus senior VP Derek] Rogusky insists, however, that the paramount goal of the IMFC is to help Parliament craft family-friendly laws, regardless of who forms the government.
“It is very much non-partisan,” he says. “We’re not about grassroots lobbying. We’re not about trying to vote certain people out of office. We’re not behind one particular party or one particular candidate—never have been and never will be.”
“We’re not going to be organizing the petitions and letters to the MPs. There are other groups that will do that,” Quist adds. “We want to say [to them], ‘Here’s the impact on children, here’s the impact on moms or dads or couples, if you go down this road.’”
At the same time, Rogusky does not rule out temporary partnerships with secular groups and individuals to achieve mutually desirable results. “We’d be eager to work with anyone and everyone, but it would be on a case-by-case basis, obviously….That includes other think-tanks, academics, people in the media, civil servants and even elected officials,” he says.
Rogusky concedes “it’s going to take some work” for the IMFC to overcome the perception fostered by critics of Focus on the Family that it is merely a front for the “religious right.” But he is confident that will happen. “We’re not going to be bullied or intimidated by anyone,” says Rogusky. “And over time, with a real emphasis on consistently putting out good quality research and defending that research, you may not always agree with us, but eventually you’re going to have to respect us.”
Er, NOT!

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Great line of the day 

In Scandal Fatique, Catnip & the "Angry" Left, Peter Daou reports:
. . . It's no accident that the scandals get more and more outrageous - after all, the whole point is to have the opposition frantically racing around, chasing stories, distracted and exhausted, wearing itself out like a kitten in a catnip-doused, mouse-filled room. The amazing thing is that so many of Bush's opponents continue to play along. The sheer inability to put on blinders and drive one scandal home, to take it to its ultimate conclusion, is a failing of magnificent proportions. The warrantless spying fiasco is a perfect example. The day the NSA story broke, it should have been the only issue discussed by Democrats and progressive activists, the only one. Day in, day out. No matter if thirty other scandals intervened. Bush and his team count on the opposition's lack of focus, joyfully handing them more catnip. Perhaps that explains the ubiquitous and infamous administration smirk, most recently gracing Alberto Gonzales' face as he humored the Senate Judiciary Committee about breaking the law.
Emphasis mine. And who does that smirk remind you of?

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Why we all love computers 

Here's a great example of garbage in, garbage out:
A house erroneously valued at $400 million US is being blamed for budget shortfalls and possible layoffs in municipalities and school districts in northwestern Indiana . . . The house had been valued at $121,900 before the glitch. . . the home usually carried about $1,500 in property taxes; this year, it was billed $8 million. . . the $400-million value ended up on documents that were used to calculate tax rates. Most local officials did not learn about the mistake until Tuesday, when 18 government taxing units were asked to return a total of $3.1 million of tax money. The city of Valparaiso and the Valparaiso Community School Corp. were asked to return $2.7 million. As a result, the school system has a $200,000 budget shortfall and the city loses $900,000.. . . the user probably tried to use a real estate record display by pressing R-E-D but accidentally typed R-E-R, which brought up an assessment program written in 1995. The program is no longer in use and technology officials did not know it could be used. The county treasurer said his office spotted the $400-million error after it caused an improper billing but apparently it wasn't corrected elsewhere.
And as more and more computer programs are partly overwritten and abandoned, chances are this type of thing will happen more often.

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Stick it in their ear 

Don Cherry said it for everyone --
All I got to say to you Wayne, is go over there, win the gold and stick it in their ear.
Right on, Don!

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"Uh, Mohammed?" "Yes, Mohammed?" 

Maybe its just me, but this Hullabaloo report on the 'Literary Terrorism' plot NSA intercept just struck me as hysterically funny. So, in all its glory, here it is:
Al Quaeda terrorist #1: Have you received our target yet?
AQ#2: Yes. The Literary tower in Los Angeles.
#1: The Literary Tower?
#2: Yes. You know, the really tall one.
#1: Fool, you mean the LIBERTY Tower, not the...
#2: No no no, the Literary Tower, I remember specifically. That's the big one. With all their books.
#1: Their books?? Who cares about the infidel's books? The plan is to strike down their liberty. That makes our target the Liberty Tower, not the Literary tower. Are you sure we're talking about the same tower? Do you have a map? We are talking about Los Angeles, aren't we?[paper shuffling]
#2: Um... uh... I can't figure this out. Oh, who cares what it's called. It's the tallest one. How many tallest buildings can there be in Los Angeles, anyway?
#1: Three? Four?
#2: ...Well, it doesn't matter. Any one of them will do. Do you have the information on our weapons?
#1: Yes, I am told we will hide high explosives in our shoes, and then...
#2: Uh, say that again? It sounded like you said "high explosives" and "shoes."
#1: Yes. Explosives. In our shoes. We'll use them to gain access to the cockpit...
#2: Uh, Mohammed?
#1: Yes Mohammed?
#2: Something, um, doesn't sound right. Are you quite sure...
#1: Of course I'm sure. It says right here [sounds of more paper shuffling] that we are to use high explosives to gain access to the cockpit, where we then threaten to blow up the rest of plane if they don't fly it into the Liberty...
#2: Literary...
#1: Liberty, Literary... I don't... [sighs] Look, just tell the pilot "The tall one." I'm quite sure they'll know which building you're talking about. Just tell them that if they don't immediately fly the plane into the tallest building in Los Angeles, you'll blow them up with your Sneakers of Mass Destruction. They won't want that, I can assure you.
#2: Uh... there's something I don't understand.
#1: Yes?
#2: How do we explode our way into the cockpit and still threaten to blow up the plane?
#1: Fool, that's why we hide the explosives in our shoes. Just use one shoe on the cockpit door. That way we still have the other shoe to threaten to blow up the rest of the plane with.
#2: Ooooh. That makes sense. Sort of. [long pause] We get to take them off first, right?
#1: I assume. Let me check [paper shuffling]. Well, I don't see where it says we can't. So I suppose it should be okay. [pause] Wait. Did you hear that?
#2: Yes, I did. Is there somebody else on the line? You don't have a party line, do you? Please tell me you paid for a private line...
#1: Yes, of course this is a private line. Now shut your hookah-hole, I'm trying to listen. ["if you'd like to continue this wiretap for another --ten-- minutes, please insert an additional --75-- cents"] ACK! I think this line is being tapped!
#2: Do Americans have such technologies?
#1: Damn. I once read where they did, but I completely forgot about that.
[click]

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Prize-winning photos 

Yahoo Photos has the winners of the World Press Photos of the Year competition.
Here is the top prize:

It was taken by Reuters photographer Canadian Finbarr O'Reilly in Tahoua, northwestern Niger, on August 1 2005, showing the emaciated fingers of a one-year old child pressed against the lips of his mother.

Sports Features Singles first prize:

'Bullfighter, Medellin', Henry Agudelo, El Colombiano, Reuters

Arts and Entertainment Stories first prize:

Asa Sjostrom, Sweden, Reuters

Contemporary Issues Singles first prize:

A Sierra Leone boy helps his father to dress, by Greek photographer Yannis Kontos, Polaris Images.

People in the News first prize:

Rocky Mountain News photographer Todd Heisler shows the honour accorded to the arrival of Marine 2nd Lt. James Cathey's body at Reno Airport.

Sports Features first prize:

Australian photographers Mark & Jenny Evans show horse racing in Australia (AP Photo).

Spot News third prize:

New York Daily News photographer Michael Appleton captures this image of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath in New Orleans.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Accident update 

A friend of ours from out of town was over tonight and said was wondering how I was doing after the car accident a week ago and he kept checking the blog but I hadn't posted anything.
So here is the latest:
- chest - still purple from the seat belt, but I can lie down to sleep now on my right side. My doctor gave me some great news when she said it was the worst brusing from a seatbelt she had ever seen (the reason this is great news is because now I can use what she said to get everyone to feel sorry for me without actually having to be a whiney ass titty baby about it myself!)
- left knee - still swollen but not sore to move anymore, at least for most of the time
- left ankle and right toes - still bruised; now on diueritic to reduce swelling
- head - still a little bruised (I think I concussed on the headrest)
- car - a write-off. When we went down to the insurance agency on Tuesday to clear out the glove compartment and trunk, that's when I realized that the passenger half of the engine compartment is just crushed. The car interior looked intact until I realized that the floor mounting around the gearshift and emergency brake is shattered. I don't know how fast the other driver was going, but it must have been a brisk clip. A nanosecond later and he would have come through my passenger door and right into me. Or, three nanoseconds later and he might well have missed me completely.
Anyway, after seeing the car, my husband started talking for the first time ever about the advantages of an SUV or at least something larger than a Ford Tempo.
But we are going to take a bit of time decide, because I won't be driving for a while anyway.
Thanks, by the way, for everyone's good wishes and kind thoughts.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Great lines of the day 

In His Gentle Ears, Steve Gilliard sums up the reaction of American blacks to being told that George Bush may have felt insulted at the King funeral:
. . . Our diffrrences with George Bush are not trivial or based on policy. They are real and substantial. People's children are dying in Iraq, New Orleans is a wasteland, and we're supposed to be upset that he got his feelings hurt at a funeral . . .
If white commentators expect black people to react to their pained words of criticism, they are going to be sadly suprised at the indifference their complaints will meet. Black people bury their leaders how we choose fit. If Jeff Greenfield doesn't like it, well, no one asked his opinion.
Was he ripping into the online racists as they mocked the dead of Katrina?
Of course not.
When you have vermin like Michael Savage and Don Imus complaining, it isn't exactly going to impress most black people with their outrage.
You can't ignore the slights and insults to black people in their greatest crisis since the Civil War, while the right attacked black people without pause, and then act as if you have a claim to regulate their behavior at other times.
George Bush betrayed America, especially black America with his failed response to Katrina, why should he be allowed to sit before black America and go unscolded for his failure?
This is not the Minnesota Dems, we don't care about your Jedi Mind Tricks. Your opinion means less than nothing.

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Boy, are they pissed! 

I guess I really have been hanging around the Liberals too long. I am surprised at the depth of anger among Conservatives at what Harper has done, and how this anger just isn't going away.
Today's Globe story provides some choice new quotes from Conservatives:
"This looks like expediency, even hypocrisy ...This is shocking. It's just unbelievable. Who was Stephen talking to? We campaigned against this kind of stuff" - veteran Conservative MP from Western Canada
"I'm not sure how I'm going to explain these appointments to my constituents. It's bewildering." -- rookie MP
"brazen display of anti-democratic behaviour" - a radio talk show caller describing Emerson.
"I understand the pragmatism of it, but to be honest, I feel a bit uneasy about it." - MP Maurice Vellacott.
On his post entitled One-day story (Day Three), Andrew Coyne provides some links to more coverage from Reuters, Vancouver Sun, Edmonton Sun, Calgary Sun, CBC News, National Post, and the Toronto Star.
And here are some more editorial reactions:
Don Martin, columnist for the pro-Conservative National Post, attacked the appointment as "flagrant capitulation to political expediency." He added: "A clean government is launched by dirty politics." . . .
"Despite all his lofty election promises to do government differently, Harper has constructed a cabinet more with an eye to political porking that principle," wrote columnist Greg Weston in the right-wing Sun chain of newspapers. Weston noted that the three ministries with the most money to spend -- public works, industry and transport and infrastructure -- had all gone to people from French-speaking Quebec . . .
La Presse, one of Quebec's most influential newspapers, said that for someone who had promised to do things differently Harper had "missed the mark" with his cabinet choices.
And here are some blogger reactions:
Stephen Harper promised us an end to the democratic deficit - he swore that a Conservative government would be more principled than the previous Liberal regimes. He lied. -- Bound by Gravity
I had hoped a principled Conservative government, unused to the corrupting trappings and temptations of power, might stem the rising tide of cynicism eating away at the political spirit of our great country. That hope is not extinguished, but it wanes. I still support the Conservative govenment on policy. But policy alone is thin gruel indeed for someone hungry for leadership. Babbling Brooks
It still stinks. We were not elected to be better at the Liberals' game. We were elected to change the rules of the game. By leading off with our chins the way we have with the David Emerson cabinet spot and the handling of Michael Fortier's cabinet appointment via the Senate, we not only suckerpunched the Liberals, but we suckerpunched ourselves. We suckerpunched all those Conservative supporters, who spent this Christmas looking their non-partisan friends in the eye and encouraging them to vote for a party they weren't 100% comfortable with, on the grounds that we were going to do things differently, and politics would be a little better at the end. . . . we bought into the message. We really did believe that things were going to be different. There was a great deal of idealism within the Tory party over the last few weeks, and in one fell swoop, it became muted. Hacks and Wonks
Say this for him: if you’re going to break a promise, you might as well rub everyone’s noses in it. Mr. Harper has achieved a great deal with these two appointments. He has demoralized his party’s supporters. He has ruined whatever honeymoon he might have had with the press. He has diverted attention from what was otherwise an impressive piece of cabinet-making. But most of all, he has undermined his own reputation for honesty. A priceless political asset has been devalued, and all for a couple of cabinet seats. Bad politics has driven out good.- Andrew Coyne
Harper's Emerson appointment, though unprincipled, didn't surprise me, really -- I guess I could understand why Harper would want to shore up his minority and give his Cabinet some experience by grabbing Emerson. But the more I think about it, the less explicable the Fortier appointment appears -- it is as blatant and obvious a piece of political pay-back sleaze as Chretien ever tried to pull off, though at least "Big Al" Galiano had been elected before he was given the plum public works appointment.
And Harper is also learning how, once you start buying people off, you just can't stop. The Globe also reports that Ontario Tory MP Helena Guergis was set to issue a press release reaffirming her support for last year's anti-crossing legislation. "However, Mr. Harper made her parliamentary secretary to Mr. Emerson yesterday afternoon, and the press release was not issued."
Cynicism -- I guess it must be contagious.

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Great line of the day 

Today's Great Line comes from Canadian Cynic, questioning a Reuters story stating that Harper broke his campaign promises in appointing Fortier to cabinet:
. . . is Reuters being a little too pedantic here? Did Harper actually explicitly say those things? Or did he leave himself some wiggle room? I mean, I may think Stephen Harper is an ignorant, hypocritical, lying sack of crap, but I do try to be fair about these things.
ROTFLOL. Emphasis mine.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

New species 

This is fascinating -- just when we start to think there can be nothing new in the world comes a story like this -- A Lost World in Indonesia Yields Riches for Scientists. Here are some of the photos they took on this expedition, including some of the new species they found.
Smoky honeyeater:


Six-wired bird of paradise (not new, but hasn't been seen for more than a century):


'Giant White' rhododendron:


new species of treefrog;


golden-mantled tree kangaroo (which had been thought to be close to extinction):

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Great line of the day 

At Daily Kos, Darksyde writes:
In that bloody light of conflicts past and won, as a son of parents who grew up in a Depression and the ensuing World War, and as a child of the Cold War, let me make this crystal clear: If you think you're going to scare me or my nation into reversing two hundred years of history, becoming a Police State, and subjecting ourselves to a tyrannical Overlord in the form of the President of the United States, then you damn well better come up with a significantly greater threat than that posed by a handful of religious maniacs armed with explosive belts and boxcutters.

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Old bums exit there . . . 

New bums enter here. Its funny to see how simply furious many of the blogging tories are about the Cabinet picks of Emerson and Fortier.
That said, there's nothing wrong with what Harper did today -- a prime minister has to do what he has to do in order to run the country. He may be a little surprised, however, at how quickly his press honeymoon ends now.
And by the way, I don't think there is any such thing as a "temporary Senate seat", though the media kept reporting it that way today. Once Fortier is appointed to the Senate, I don't think he would ever have to resign, even if Harper expects him to do so. Would you?

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Embassies burning 

If you are seeing photos of burning embassies and wondering what the heck is going on, read Sisyphus Shrugged - shouting fire in a crowded theater, Piss Christ, Der Sturmer and other speech issues. Here's part of her sensible overview:
. . . full-metal hell didn't break loose until various newspapers in Europe, giving reasons ranging from support of free speech . . . to anti-religious principles (France, of course), went ahead and reprinted the cartoons again. One brave soul printed them in Jordan. He's been fired. The boycott, largely a pipe dream before last week, is now severely damaging danish industry. Meanwhile, the original newspaper, which apparently has more sense than the Prime Minister does, acknowledged that although the publication of the cartoons was completely legal, they were offensive, and apologized for causing offense. European leaders (with, of course, the exception of Denmark and Norway) have pointed out that while free speech is a basic human right, the material printed in this case was deeply offensive and to be condemned.
By this time, of course, the culture warriors of the anti-islamic right had succeeded in attracting enough attention to their antics to draw the attention of the violent extremist wing of the muslim world.
So now embassies are burning and (while mainstream islamic leaders condemn the riots) there is lovely juicy footage of islamic mob violence on every station and in every newspaper just as the effort to escalate against Iran ramps up.
Quel coinkydink.
If you want a real educational experience, go look at the Google hits for this, and read what the LGF wing of the blogosphere has to say about it, and how few facts about the situation they give you (among other things, they uniformly suggest that the boycott and the violence have been going on since the original publication of the images in September rather than since late December or mostly in the past week).
If you want another educational experience after that, Google what the same sites had to say last week about free speech in the matter of Cindy Sheehan's tshirt . . . Free speech means that you have the right to express yourself. You even have the right to be protected by law from people you've offended who want to express their offense in illegal ways. It does not mean that if you act like a dumb [fuck] you're really a brave warrior for truth and the rights of man or anything but a really, really dumb [fuck]. Congratulations, o culture warriors of the right. You've gotten the deep offense and the highly-telegenic violence you wanted. You must, although resembling them closely in many other significant ways, be much happier than pigs in shit . . .
Thanks to Steve Gilliard for the reference.

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

True patriots 

The Washington Post reports on the domestic spying program and toward the end of the article I found some interesting stuff.
First, the National Security Agency machines are not selective:
. . . the agency has acknowledged use of automated equipment to analyze the contents and guide analysts to the most important ones. According to one knowledgeable source, the warrantless program also uses those methods. That is significant to the public debate because this kind of filtering intrudes into content, and machines "listen" to more Americans than humans do . . .
Second, in the NSA version of reality, they haven't actually done anything even if their machines listen to every single phone call and email ever sent anywhere:
NSA rules since the late 1970s. . . have said "acquisition" of content does not take place until a conversation is intercepted and processed "into an intelligible form intended for human inspection."
So the conclusion I draw is that all the phone calls that everybody makes could well be available electronically in the NSA database somewhere and NSA would continue to claim they actually had not "acquired" this data.
You see the hole here, don't you?
The data is sitting there, just waiting to be processed. Just because some NSA supervisor or even some judge hasn't approved it, doesn't mean that the data could not still be used.
To make money, for one thing -- imagine being able to listen in on Bill Gate's phone calls to find out when would be a good time to buy or sell Microsoft stock.
But mainly to keep the Bush administration informed about what the Democrats are up to. Remember that in Karl Rove's universe, absolutely everything is political. Democrats are, by definition, traitors. Cheney said a year ago that voting for Kerry was risking the security of the United States. It wasn't just a cynical ploy -- they really believe this.
So it might well be possible to convince some super-loyal, super-patriotic NSA employees that the Democratic congressional leadership, say, or Howard Dean or the DNC are a threat to the repubic -- particularly if the NSA is also hiring 24-year-old presidential campaign workers like NASA is.
They would think that listening in on Teddy Kennedy's phone calls would be the patriotic thing to do.

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He's back! 

The delightful prospect of a new war in the Middle East is bringing the old timey neocons out of the woodwork again. This Reuters article quotes Richard Perle advancing the self-serving argument that the lousy intelligence in Iraq justifies preemptive strikes against Iran -- because, after all, the only way you can "try to wait until the very last minute" to attack over Iran's nuclear program is if you are "very confident of your intelligence because it you're not, you won't know when the last minute is".
Time to stock up on the duct tape again, is it?

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Ding, dong 

Well, I know employers are supposed to be responsible and all that, but in this case I still think its too bad that they didn't just let Dingwall sue.
Now, the Globe is reporting that: "an independent arbitrator . . . concluded that Mr. Dingwall had not resigned, as the government suggested at the time, but had been fired . . . after a prolonged controversy about his six-figure office expense account. A subsequent review by PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm concluded Mr. Dingwall's spending was within the rules with minor discrepancies."
Also, its rather disingenous for Stephen Harper to act so amazed now at the news that Dingwall was fired -- he was deservedly shown the door for embarassing the government with his prolifigate spending and inane statements like "I'm entitled to my entitlements" -- which the Conservatives made good use of in in their TV commercials before the election.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Kettle, pot, tables turning, etc 

Well, well -- how do ya like them apples?
Surveillance Prompts a Suit: Police v. Police:
The demonstrators arrived angry, departed furious. The police had herded them into pens. Stopped them from handing out fliers. Threatened them with arrest for standing on public sidewalks. Made notes on which politicians they cheered and which ones they razzed.
Meanwhile, officers from a special unit videotaped their faces, evoking for one demonstrator the unblinking eye of George Orwell's "1984."
"That's Big Brother watching you," the demonstrator, Walter Liddy, said in a deposition.
Mr. Liddy's complaint about police tactics, while hardly novel from a big-city protester, stands out because of his job: He is a New York City police officer. The rallies he attended were organized in the summer of 2004 by his union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, to protest the pace of contract talks with the city.
Now the officers, through their union, are suing the city, charging that the police procedures at their demonstrations — many of them routinely used at war protests, antipoverty marches and mass bike rides — were so heavy-handed and intimidating that their First Amendment rights were violated.

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If 

On my way to work this morning, my car was hit on the freeway by someone running a red light -- he was from out of town and just didn't see it. He hit the front fender on the passenger side so my car is totalled.
I'm OK, though I had double vision at first -- very odd sensation, that -- and I am still very sore where the seatbelt hit me and my knee is bunged up from hitting the dashboard -- and the other driver is better than me -- he had an airbag which I did not.
Maybe some slow posting the next few days until my chest stops hurting when I type.
Interesting to think about what might have been, though, isn't it -- if I hadn't had to clean up a broken dish this morning I would have left for work earlier, and if I hadn't pulled into a different lane I wouldn't have been in this fellow's way when he came through the intersection.
Then again, in either of those scenarios he might have t-boned someone in the opposite lane and maybe even killed them, who knows?

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Great line of the day 

In The State of the Union, Driftglass examines Bush's appeal last night for bipartisanship to clean up the mess he had made:
This is the bitter and divided world you and your minions created, Mr. President. And you did it deliberately, calculatedly and with premeditation. On September 11, 2001, without earning or deserving it, you were handed a Truly United States of America. And for tawdry, partisan motives you and Karl and the rest of your Shitkicker Mafia decided to drive a venomous wedge straight through its heart without any regard of the poison you were unleashing into the body politic. Congratulations; you have reaped what you have sown . . . in the Dubya Era a person can be a Good American, or a Good Republican, but they can no longer be both. And that, Mr. President, is quite obviously the world you wanted all along.
Emphasis mine.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Have you heard the good news? 

Great to hear that Alberta is sending cheques to people in other provinces. Well, I'll be watching my mailbox now, too.

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Get it? Got it?Good! 

The story on dropping the Sheehan charges gives this explanation:
"The officers made a good faith, but mistaken effort to enforce an old unwritten interpretation of the prohibitions about demonstrating in the Capitol," Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said in a statement late Wednesday.
So the Bush administration is enforcing unwritten laws, while at the same time they are ignoring the laws that are actually written down.
Right, I think I've got it sorted out now.

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Mr. Bush? Saudi Arabia is calling on Line 2 

And Kuwait is on Line 3.
And boy, are they pissed!
But don't worry, boys -- I know you think you understand what you think Bush said. But what you don't realize is that what he said is not what he meant.

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Feeling hopeless? 

Read this -- Homeless man given highest award for civilian bravery for helping save woman

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"2,245 Dead — How Many More??" 

Oooo -- how scary! Subversive, even! Arrest that woman! How dare that Cindy Sheehan wear a t-shirt to the State of the Union saying "2,245 Dead — How Many More??" -- such goings-on simply cannot be tolerated in a democracy!
The priceless thing about the whole story is this: in their eagerness to spare King Bush the slightest embarassment, his Brownshirt-Lite Royal Guard have just killed any positive momentum which Bush might have achieved with this speech.
Cindy Sheehan had virtually disappeared from the major news media over the last few months. If they had let her sit in the gallery, wearing her t-shirt during the Bush speech, chances are the network cameras would have panned over her once or twice during the speech and that's it. But now, this needless arrest has put Cindy front and centre again. She was all over the news tonight and will be again tomorrow -- apparently she is going to be on the morning TV shows now too.
Bush's speech is dull news now - stay the course in Iraq, switch to ethanol at home, ho-hum, same-old, same-old.
I'll bet the White House is simply furious.

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