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Friday, June 30, 2006

Baseball 





This is why I love baseball.
The Indians were up 7-0 after seven innings, yet the Reds came back and won the game with a bottom-of-the-9th grand slam.
"That was a game we probably shouldn't have won," Dunn acknowledged. "We had no business winning that game, but everybody just kept grinding and grinding."
Is there any other sport that can turn around like baseball can?

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The American Way 

Glenn Greenwald is being sarcastic in this description:
The American way is to place blind faith in our political officials and let them operate in complete secrecy, especially when it comes to spying on American citizens on U.S. soil. Anyone who disagrees must want to help Al Qaeda commit terrorist acts against Americans. What other reason would anyone object?
Unfortunately, for millions and millions of Americans, this now describes their simple truth.
It is so sad to see this happening. America used to be a nation that was proud of its moral, legal and constitutional standards, a "shining city on the hill" whose people led the world in their respect for law, truth and justice, and who had an independent spirit which scorned obesiance to authority.
America was never totally consistent, of course -- they never totally achieved their ideal, but what nation ever does? In their hearts, Americans always thought of themselves as some combination of Cool Hand Luke, Tom Joad, Harry Callahan, Rooster Cogburn, Rocky Balboa.
Now they have Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld telling them all the time to be afraid, be very afraid. And millions of Americans believe them. Today we see the craven Wall Street Journal following orders to join the pile-on of the New York Times for publishing the story about government searching of bank acounts:
Would the Journal have published the story had we discovered it as the Times did, and had the Administration asked us not to? Speaking for the editorial columns, our answer is probably not . . . The obligation of the press is to take the government seriously when it makes a request not to publish. Is the motive mainly political? How important are the national security concerns? And how do those concerns balance against the public's right to know? The problem with the Times is that millions of Americans no longer believe that its editors would make those calculations in anything close to good faith. We certainly don't . . .
Interesting, isn't it, to see how the good Germans talked themselves into believing their government was right and their constitution was wrong.

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Great line of the day 

Did you see Al Gore on the Daily Show? Wasn't he terrific?
This is from his new interview in Rolling Stone:
Right now we are borrowing huge amounts of money from China to buy huge amounts of oil from the most unstable region of the world, and to bring it here and burn it in ways that destroy the habitability of the planet. That is nuts! We have to change every aspect of that.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

The law is the law 

Swish! Nothing but net! Slam dunk.
Finally, the US Supreme Court has said the law is the law. An expensive decision - the Guantanamo inmates have paid for this decision with four years of their lives:
. . . a provision of the Geneva Conventions known as Common Article 3 applies to the Guantánamo detainees and is enforceable in federal court for their protection. The provision requires humane treatment of captured combatants and prohibits trials except by "a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people." The opinion made it clear that while this provision does not necessarily require the full range of protections of a civilian court or a military court-martial, it does require observance of protections for defendants that are missing from the rules the administration has issued for military commissions. The flaws the court cited were the failure to guarantee the defendant the right to attend the trial and the prosecution's ability under the rules to introduce hearsay evidence, unsworn testimony, and evidence obtained through coercion . . .
in finding that the federal courts still have jurisdiction to hear cases filed before this year by detainees at Guantánamo Bay, the justices put back on track for decision a dozen cases in the lower courts here that challenge basic rules and procedures governing life for the hundreds of people confined at the United States naval base there . . .
In ruling that the Congressional "authorization for the use of military force," passed in the days immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, cannot be interpreted to legitimize the military commissions, the ruling poses a direct challenge to the administration's legal justification for its secret wiretapping program . . .
in ruling that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions applies to the Guantánamo detainees, the court rejected the administration's view that the article does not cover followers of Al Qaeda. The decision potentially opened the door to challenges, by those held by the United States anywhere in the world, to treatment that could be regarded under the provision as inhumane.
Justice Stevens said that because the charge against Mr. Hamdan, conspiracy, was not a violation of the law of war, it could not be the basis for a trial before a military panel.
Yes, I should think that charging someone in a military court with an offense that is not a military crime should be thrown out.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Nelson Moment 



Ha ha!
The Conservative party may have illegally accepted millions in unreported donations last year because it didn't understand political financing laws

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Great line of the day 

From Wolcott: Rush Corks His Bat

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Put your money where your mouth is 

OK, admittedly not everyone who supports the Iraq War is in a position to sign up and go fight it -- they may have other priorities, or babies, or maybe they can't afford the loss in pay, or something equally valid.
But do they have money? If so, here's a great idea.
In response to this AP article "Safer Iraq said needed for US investment", Juan Cole has a suggestion for all those right-wingnuts who say things are going better in Iraq than the media coverage shows:
I think we ought to hold their feet to the fire. Every time someone says that in reality things are just fine in Iraq, we should ask them how much of their own, personal money they have invested in a private business enterprise in Iraq. The Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce can help them with specific investment opportunities.
I think we should exclude buying real estate or investing in mercen . . . I mean US contracting. Also, it has to be an investment in Arab Iraq, not the Kurdistan Regional confederacy. But, if things are going so great, then surely this is the time to put $100,000 into, say, a textile factory in . . . I don't know, Baquba. Most of these politicians and bloggers on the Right could afford such an investment, and most wouldn't even be too badly off if they lost the whole wad.
So, Fox Cable News anchors, rightwing bloggers, smug pundits, etc., etc.-- Pony up. How much have you put on the line here to back up your Dr. Pangloss-style rose colored glasses? And, if you haven't put at least a few tens of thousands of dollars into a private Iraqi business, then you do not have a leg to stand on.
Do US politicians have to declare their investments? If so, it should be easy to find our whether the Republican politicians who say they support the war and the indefinite American occupation of Iraq are now buying shares on the Iraq stock exchange and investing in Iraq businesses and companies.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Oops, forgot to post this earlier 

If thisis true -- "A study found that in a disturbing number of cases, embarrassing 'senior moments' such as forgetting a recent conversation or drawing a blank on someone's name may really be a sign of Alzheimer's after all" -- then I've had Alzheimers all my life.
And I'm sure some of my readers would agree...

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Great photo of the day 


^^^Blogging used to be exactly like this, but better.^^^

The Poorman picks the perfect illustration for his post about blogofascism. That's exactly what those blasted blogofascists look like, too -- except for the ones that look like kittens. . .

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The story behind the story 

My dad used to use the phrase "the story behind the story" -- often, when we were talking about the news of the day, he would ask "So what's the story behind the story?" -- meaning we had to look not only at the news story itself, but at why that particular story came to be cosidered as newsworthy.
This weekend, I wondered how come it took the traditional media weeks to cover the Downing Street memo and the Plame leak investigation, but both Newsweek and Time were all over a trivial column on The New Republic website in less than 24 hours.
Billmon writes a perceptive post explaining the swiftboating of Kos this weekend:
. . . I suspect the real objective here is to try to scare away the Democratic pols who have been cozying up to Kos and the liberal blogosphere. The sight of all those powerbrokers -- Harry Reid, etc. -- lining up to kiss Kos's ring in Vegas must have really set the klaxons wailing at DLC HQ . . . The Lieberman Dems don't hate and fear Kos and the Daily Kos "community" because they are too far to the left. They hate them because they represent an emerging power center within the Democratic Party that they don't control -- what's more, one that is now much closer to the public mainstream on the central issue of our time (the Iraq War) than they are.
The overriding concern for the neolibs, I think, is not that Kos and the netroot activists will lead the party off to the far-left fringes, but rather that they are willing, even eager, to form alliances with conservative nationalists like Jim Webb (the Va. Senate candidate) who've been forced out of the GOP because of their opposition to the neocons and their insane schemes. From Marty Peretz's point of view, this is very bad. Left unchecked, it could even pose a threat to the sacred alliance with Israel.
It's not that Kos (or Webb, for that matter) are outspoken critics of the special relationship. Far from it. But it is clear that the constituencies they represent, or hope to represent, are much more skeptical about U.S. intervention in the Middle East than the Democratic old guard -- which, let's face it, is practically welded to the Israel lobby. Even worse, this is all happening at a time when the Iraq quagmire is making the costs of our imperial role in the region painfully clear.
Add in the cheerful brutality with which Kos and Jerome have skewered the consultants and the DLC Dems, the primary defeat now looming over Joe Lieberman's head, and the rice bowls that could be broken if the old system of campaign graft is abandoned, and it's easy to understand why the long knives are out.
Whether the grown ups (Peretz, Lieberman, Hillary) actually set the Swiftboat in motion, or just watched approvingly ("Who shall rid us of this meddlesome blogger?") as their hatchet boys did what comes natural, is almost irrelevant. The important thing to understand is that we have reached the point where the Dinos and their media allies are willing to use Rovian tactics against anyone who challenges their entrenched position -- even someone like Kos, who is hardly the second coming of Henry Wallace or George McGovern.
Whether that's good or bad for the Kossaks I don't know -- I suppose it depends on how much credence you give to Gandhi's old saw: "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." In the real world -- and in imperial America, too -- the truth is that sometimes they ignore you, then ridicule you, then fight you and crush you like an overripe eggplant. We'll see if that's true this time. Either way, though, it looks like the battle between the netroots and dino Dems is going to get very down and dirty indeed.
This gives the whole fight a larger frame, and in an odd way, makes its very triviality more meaningful.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

"We're here, we're queer" 

We have participated in Gay Pride parades with our daughter, and they are amazingly energetic and joyful events, combining an incredible sense of individual freedom with the power of group solidarity -- there's no other event quite like it in the world, really.
I couldn't find many photos online yet of Toronto's gay pride parade today -- except for these small ones on CTV's site -- so here are some from the rest of the world.

Paris


Madrid


Mexico City


San Salvador


Panama City


Lisbon


New York


Kolkata, India


Atlanta


Seattle


San Francisco

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Keep up the fair work 


Well, finally -- here's some good news from Iraq.
Instead of killing 30 innocent people a month at checkpoints, American soldiers have adopted new procedures.
And so they were able to reduce the slaughter to 12 innocents a month by January this year.
And now its down to just four innocent civilians a month!
Hooray!
The Reuters story says:
Since the U.S. invasion three years ago, shootings by U.S. troops have been a source of complaint among Iraqis, despite repeated attempts to ensure both civilians and troops are aware of the procedures to follow and danger signs to monitor.
New efforts were being made to inform Iraqis of checkpoint and convoy procedures and to train troops, the briefing note said. Soldiers were also being given new equipment, including lasers, to attract drivers' attention without opening fire.
This year 12 percent of escalation of force incidents, not all of which involve opening fire, resulted in serious injury or death. It was not clear how many incidents there were last year.
One senior military intelligence source has said there were about 4,000 such incidents last year, but that could not be confirmed. Of those, the source said, less than 2 percent were later found to have involved an actual threat to the troops.
Forgive my snark, but how else can anyone respond? I am sure in the end there will not be a single family in Iraq unaffected by the horror and cruelty of this occupation.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Ave, Kos, morituri te salutamus 

I, for one, welcome our new Internet overlord, The Keyboard Kingpin, aka Markos Moulitsas Zuniga.
The quicker he takes over everything, the better. He couldn't possibly do any worse than Bush and Cheney, and at least he's got military experience.

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Follow the money 

$100,000 for a meeting with Bush or Rove?
But neither Bush nor Rove got a penny of all that money?
Oh, of course not. I'm sure the President of the United States met with wealthy strangers out of the goodness of his heart. And I'm sure those lobbyists kept all that money for themselves . . .

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Why I will never subscribe to The New Republic 

If you can't lead and you won't follow, then get out of the way.
Today Hunter writes:
[New Republic magazing owner Martin] Peretz writes two paragraphs of personal attack blasting the shabby illiteracy of personal attacks, ignores the issues raised as to his magazine's own 'reporting', and considers himself smugly vindicated.
Perhaps he is. And perhaps that demonstrates, as much as anything, the tattered shreds of that old and once-proud banner, one that many of us will no longer pretend at propping into relevance.
Yes, that pretty well sums it up.
Perez starts off his little rant by proudly stating that he had never read Daily Kos before.
My question is, why not? The largest progessive website in the United States, with close to half a million readers a day, and the owner of a supposedly progressive magasine is proud of himself that he doesn't read it?
He just doesn't get it.
The New Progressives like Kos and left blogistan are trying their best to work with the "old progressives" like the Kewl Kid pundits, the Democratic "strategists", the "liberal" columnists -- but make no mistake, the New Professives are now leading this parade.
If the Oldsters aren't willing to follow, to engage in discussion rather than garbled attack and insult, they will be left behind by history.
The public always knows who is really on their side. And who is not.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Great line of the day 

Digby says Iraq is pushing the Republicans off a cliff --
. . . they are telling the American people there is no end in sight and there is nothing they can do about it. That's the reason why Dems must step up now and aggressively pound this message home that the president has no plan. In order to win, the people must believe that by electing Democrats they are taking action to change the status quo. Democrats need to hammer the fact that for all the president's bluster --- he's paralyzed by his inability to admit that he's made a mistake.
Democrats may not have all the answers. The administration has got us in a hell of a mess and it's not easy to get us out of it. But the Republicans have made it quite clear that their intention is to keep doing exactly what they are doing until somebody stops them. Democrats need to stop them --- and they need the American people to understand that they are the only ones who can stop them. The Republicans can't stop themselves.
Emphasis mine.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Canadian military - read this article 

Every member of the Canadian military should read William S. Lind's article, Aaugh!. Here's the gist of it:
At present, the bombing is largely tied to the latest Somme-like “Big Push,” Operation Mountain Thrust, in which more than 10,000 U.S.-led troops are trying another failed approach to guerrilla war, the sweep. I have no doubt it would break the Mullah Omar Line, if it existed, which it doesn’t . . . Should be in Berlin by September, old chap.
Of course, all this is accompanied by claims of many dead Taliban, who are conveniently interchangeable with dead locals who weren’t Taliban . . .
Icing this particular cake is a strategic misconception of the nature of the Afghan war that only American generals could swallow . . . the power of the U.S.-created Afghan government is receding, not growing, and the Taliban’s “window” only closes when Christ comes again.
Aaugh! The last time a nation’s civilian and military leadership was this incapable of learning from experience was under the Ching Dynasty.
Perhaps it’s time to offer a short refresher course in Guerrilla War 101:
Air power works against you, not for you. It kills lots of people who weren’t your enemy, recruiting their relatives, friends and fellow tribesmen to become your enemies. In this kind of war, bombers are as useful as 42 cm. siege mortars.
Big, noisy, offensives, launched with lots of warning, achieve nothing. The enemy just goes to ground while you pass on through, and he’s still there when you leave. Big Pushes are the opposite of the “ink blot” strategy, which is the only thing that works, when anything can.
Putting the Big Push together with lots of bombing in Afghanistan’s Pashtun country means we end up fighting most if not all of the Pashtun. In Afghan wars, the Pashtun always win in the end.
Quisling governments fail because they cannot achieve legitimacy.
You need closure, but your guerilla enemy doesn’t. He not only can fight until Doomsday, he intends to do just that—if not you, then someone else.
The bigger the operations you have to undertake, the more surely your enemy is winning.
This article comes via Billmon.

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Great line of the day 

Via Digby, we find Gene Lyon's latest column:
. . . As history, this cut-and-run business is nonsense. It wasn’t Democrats who made peace in Korea. It was President Dwight Eisenhower. Democrats didn’t dispatch Henry Kissinger to whisper to China in 1972 that the U. S. could live with a communist Vietnam. President Richard Nixon did. He began the long, bloody retreat that ended with the North Vietnamese taking Saigon under President Gerald Ford.
Maybe the oddest thing about the legacy of Vietnam is that the worst thing that could happen, from a rightwing perspective, did happen. The U. S. lost the war. Communists conquered much of Southeast Asia. And the effect on national security ? Well, we got lots of good Vietnamese restaurants out of it. Otherwise, none.
The communists soon fell to fighting among themselves, with Vietnam invading Cambodia, China attacking Vietnam, and the Chinese and Soviet Russians entangled in a blood feud. Next, Russia invaded Afghanistan. Domestic fallout from that bloody fiasco helped cause the collapse of the U. S. S. R. and the demise of communism almost everywhere—also because nobody but a few crackpot professors in the West believed in it anymore.
Exactly why so many like Rove, Bush and Cheney, who avoided Vietnam, subsequently metamorphosed into countryclub Napoleons is mysterious. Personal psychodrama appears to be involved . . .
Emphasis mine.

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"You forget who's got the knife" 

Years ago, my husband and some co-workers were at one of those Japanese chef restaurants. One of my husband's co-workers was trying to be funny by insulting the chef, whom he saw as just a glorifed waiter, really. The chef put up with it for a while -- good sport, hahaha, and all that -- but finally he had had enough. The jokes ended when he said, pleasantly but meaningfully, "You forget who's got the knife!"
The professional Kewl Kid pundits in Washington are feeling the cold breath of irrelevance on their necks, given the success of Yearly Kos and all the attention now being paid to Markos and Jerome Armstrong and Jane Hamsher and Crashing the Gate.
So now they're trying to slap down the bloggers -- for example, the smear jobs on The New Republic yesterday and on Instapundit today.
But Atrios dishes it right back at them in a subtle post which sends a pretty direct message to the Kewl Kids -- and the message is, we know you better than you know us, so back off before we start spilling the beans on you:
. . . Generally, "political strategists" are quoted all of the time in the media, or have spots on cable news, and miraculously they never seem to have any clients. Or, more to the point, we are never told who their clients are. Perhaps they just stand on a soap box on the corner and announce their strategy to Washington pedestrians. Still, one assumes that they do have clients and that what they say is indirectly or directly motivated by that . . .
And he didn't make any jokes this time about blogger ethics panels.

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The Bush Plan for Iraq 

1. Declare victory.
2. Leave.
Simple, huh? Why didn't they think of this before?

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Today's pop quiz 

1. What does the National Rifle Association think of the United Nations?
Answer: Those blasted @#$%&*

2. What does the United Nations think about the National Rifle Association?
Answer: Just what IS this "National Rifle Association"of which you speak?

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Great line of the day 

At Rising Hegemon, Attaturk asks Who the fuck is this monster in the White House?
Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be . . . Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality." Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics -- travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was "echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President," Suskind writes. And yet somehow, in a speech delivered two weeks later, President Bush portrayed Abu Zubaydah as "one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States." . . . "I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods really work?" Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target." And so, Suskind writes, "the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered.
They tortured an insane person to make George W. Bush look good. Good luck explaining that one to Jesus, Dubya!
Emphasis mine.

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Funny, funny 

Isn't it fun finding great blogs?
Of course, I hope you return to this one, but I would understand if you couldn't because you were laughing too hard.
Cynic flagged one the other day that I love - Chase me, ladies, I'm in the cavalry - and here another -- Whatever It Is, I'm Against It. Sample:
Speaking of monkey gods, George Bush is visiting Austria for the very first time. He keeps looking for kangaroos. He had a press conference with his good friend, Austrian Chancellor Schüssel (“I call him Wolfgang, he calls me George W.”). Near as I can figure it, Bush was in Europe to send messages to non-Europeans. He told Iran, which says it will respond to the nuclear proposal by August 22: “It seems like an awful long time for a reasonable answer -- for a reasonable proposal, a long time for an answer.” Yeah, George, like you’re such a fast reader. He told North Korea it should “not fire whatever it is on their missile.” Kimchee? Bush was shocked and offended to hear that Europeans consider the US the biggest threat to global stability. “Absurd” he called it, chuckling. “It’s a -- we’re a transparent democracy. People know exactly what’s on our mind.” And you don’t see any correlation between people knowing what’s on your mind and them considering you a threat to global stability, George? He added, “For Europe, September the 11th was a moment; for us, it was a change of thinking.” And, let’s face it, a change of underwear.

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"It's not happening here but it's happening now" 

Today in Iraq links to this site, Roads to Iraq, which describes a new Amnesty International advertising campaign in Europe. They are using transparent bus-stop ads with the tagline "It's not happening here, but it's happening now" and here are some of the startling images:












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Lie and die 

Yes, that just about sums up the Republican policy for Iraq these days.

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Great line of the day 

Steve Gilliard writes the truth about America in Iraq:
Bush thinks that he can stay in Iraq until we win. We are not going to win . . . Our president's illness, his need to beat his father, is driving this war more than any other factor, and it is getting worse. We are facing a question of character here, one where we descend into the typical brutality of a colonial war, or of the Eastern Front, only to lose in the end. Are we going to hang Iraqis in town squares and burn their villages, murder whole families to keep the weak government in power? As if the resistance will react passively.
They mutliated, read as castrated, the soldiers they caught, then cut off their heads and then booby trapped the bodies. A horrible way to die.
Those who say we must now stay in Iraq are fools. People debating amnesty are wasting their time. An amnesty from a government which has no power means nothing.
Iraq will have a civil war, kill many, many people and the hard men with guns will win. We can never be as savage as people fighting an invader of their home. It is useless to even contemplate that.
Emphasis mine.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Good news 

The Episcopalians will continue to support gay bishops.
As I reported on last month, the whole basis of the anti-gay movement in the Anglican Church is not relgious but political; just a few ultra-conservatives want to twist the Anglican Church toward the Religious Right's political agenda, so that everyone will dance to their tune:
Millions of dollars contributed by a handful of donors have allowed a small network of theologically conservative individuals and organizations to mount a global campaign that has destabilized the Episcopal Church and may break up the Anglican Communion.
Well, the Episcopalians would not be bullied.
Episcopal degates snubbed Anglican leaders' request that they temporarily stop electing openly gay bishops . . . a majority of deputies voted against a measure that would have urged dioceses to refrain from electing gay bishops . . . the Rev. Susan Russell of Integrity, the Episcopal gay and lesbian caucus, said she feels proud that the church is willing to affirm its commitment to fight injustice. "The vote says we're not willing to make sacrificial lambs of our gay and lesbian sisters and brothers, and that has to leave me feeling pretty grateful and very proud," she said.
Oh, and the Presbyterians have done the right thing, too:
The critical vote in the Episcopal Church occurred on a day when another Protestant denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), decided at a session in Birmingham to allow gay clergy, lay elders and deacons to work with local congregations.
I think the churches are finding out that, as that religious philosopher John Lennon once said, all you need is love.

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Loney speaks out 

Sometimes what an organization doesn't say is more revealing than what it does say.
People will call James Loney paranoid when he accuses the Knights of Columbus of shutting down a youth leadership camp where he worked rather than employ an openly gay man.
And yes, it could sound plausible to explain, as this story postulates, that maybe liability concerns are actually to blame for the closure.
But the tip-off is this -- the liability-cost explanation did not come from the Knights of Columbus themselves.
They actually won't say very clearly at all why they suddenly decided to close the camp when its funding was in place and applications from campers were being accepted.
So, no, I don't think Loney is paranoid.
I think he is probably right.

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"Goodwill and generosity" 

Harper gets it --"Canada's diversity, properly nurtured, is our greatest strength" he said at the opening of the UN World Urban Forum.
Exactly.
I was thrilled to hear him say this. Harper didn't take the political path, one which seems to be particularly easy for conservatives, and particularly easy for Bush-bots, of blaming immigration for social problems, amplifying fear and divisiveness, pandering to people who want to slam the door and keep out everyone black, brown or yellow.
Instead, Harper has turned the terrorist arrests into an opportunity to lead Canada toward a broader vision -- perhaps also recognizing that some of the members of his own party are most in need of this leadership:
Some commentators have blamed Canada's open, multicultural society for spawning the alleged terrorist network, Mr. Harper added. "They have said it makes us a more vulnerable target for terrorist activity." But rather than shutting out those from other countries with different ethnic backgrounds and religions, Canada should maintain its long-standing, open-door policy, he said.
"It is true that somewhere, in some communities, we will find . . . apostles of terror, who use the symbols of culture and faith to justify crimes of violence . . . the terrorists and their vision will be rejected "by men and women of good will and generosity in all communities," Mr. Harper affirmed to loud applause.
A great speech -- and, perhaps for the first time, I can be proud that the man who made it is Canada's prime minister.

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Today's pop quiz 

1. Is the Iraq insurgency treating captured American soldiers with same respect that American soldiers have shown to Iraqi prisoners?
2. How is this going to end?

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Afghanistan writings 

James Wolcott quotes from a couple of good articles about Afghanistan and what it means to the United States -- and to us, too, of course.
First, a July, 2006 article by Stewart Nusbaumer "Unfinished Business" at the American Conservative magazine:
. . . in Afghanistan and Iraq the Bush administration was clueless about the wars it faced, declaring victory before the real wars began. The neocons wrote a silly script that had Afghans and Iraqis pulverized by our hi-tech war machine and quickly capitulating, as if the Vietnam debacle never happened, as if the world's guerrilla fighters never learned how to stymie and slowly bleed the world's premier conventional military.
Then a flashback to what Ted Rall wrote in December, 2001:
'It would take billions of dollars to even begin rebuilding this country,' an American officer who refused to give his name noted while his driver worked on a flat tire. 'Billions of dollars and many, many years. We don't have that kind of attention span. Bombing Iraq will be a lot sexier than teaching Afghans how to read.'
And so we've lost this war, not because they're good or we're not, but because of who we are. The American Empire can't spend the bodies or the time or the cash to fix this crazyass place, because in the final analysis, election-year W. was right—we're not nation builders. Guys who once called themselves Talibs switch to something called the Northern Alliance, and we call this a victory. We know it isn't so, but like Nixon's peace with honor, it'll have to do.
Both the Russians and the English lost everything to Afghanistan, but it doesn't have to end that way for us. After all, the same thing happened to us in Vietnam, our first Afghanistan, but we survived it. True, our economy was never the same. Undeniably, it replaced an American Century with postmodern alienation and ironic detachment. But if those estimates are correct and this war is costing a mere billion bucks a month, we ought to tally our dead, write up our losses, and count ourselves lucky to still be called a superpower.
At the end, Wolcott notes "Five years later, our luck may have run out."

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I am Canadian-born 

Today's topic is racism.
The CBC is doing it again -- they're educating Canadians about Canada, even the parts of it we don't want to know about. I caught the tail end of a newscast tonight, a story about immigration, I think, and I heard a woman saying something sanctimonious about how "Canada today isn't the Canada I grew up in".
Yes, I thought, and I'm glad its not -- the Canada I grew up in had FLQ bombs blowing up mailboxes in Montreal, and gay people were unmentionable, and abortion was illegal, and women weren't paid equally and . . . but of course this wasn't what she meant.
What this woman meant by the phrase "the Canada I grew up in" was code for "white".
The Canada I grew up in was white, too -- I don't think I knew a single Aboriginal person until I was in my 20s. There were no Aboriginal people living in our neighbourhood, and very few Muslim people, or East Indian people, or Asian.
What a loss that was -- maybe not for them, but for me, and for my neighbourhood, and for Canada.
The Canada I grew up in was the one which initially covered the Air India disaster as though it happened to a bunch of foreigners rather than to Canadians -- I will never forget my shock at Macleans on the week of the disaster, with a tiny little banner at top right saying "Air India disaster" and just a one-page story inside.
The Canada I grew up in was the one that refused to apologize to Japanese Canadians for internment or to Chinese Canadians for the head tax.
The Canada I grew up in took Aboriginal children away from their families and sent them to residential schools.
The Canada I still live in cannot seem to provide decent drinking water to Aboriginal reserves.
The quicker that Canada changes, the better.
But we haven't changed it all yet, and Canadians need to realize this. When I checked out the CBC website to see if I could find more about that news story, I found instead Heather Mallick's recent column, which referred me to Robert Fisk's eye-opening Independent article How Racism Has Invaded Canada.
Fisk was writing about the media coverage of the "terrorist cell" arrest news stories. In particular, he noted the offensive term "brown-skinned" to describe the Muslim suspects:
What is “brown-skinned” supposed to mean — if it is not just a revolting attempt to isolate Muslims as the “other” in Canada’s highly multicultural society? I notice, for example, that when the paper obsequiously refers to Toronto’s police chief and his reportedly brilliant cops, he is not referred to as “white-skinned” (which he most assuredly is).
Fisk is right about how offensive this term is. How easily such terminology creeps into our discourse when it is used approvingly by the media.
He notes another term which we should also all be aware of:
. . . a very unpleasant -- albeit initially innocuous -- phrase has now found its way into the papers. The accused 17 -- and, indeed their families and sometimes the country's entire Muslim community -- are now referred to as 'Canadian-born'. Well, yes, they are Canadian-born. But there's a subtle difference between this and being described as a 'Canadian' -- as other citizens of this vast country are in every other context. And the implications are obvious; there are now two types of Canadian citizen: The Canadian-born variety (Muslims) and Canadians (the rest).
He is right. I was born here too. And I always thought of myself as Canadian, not just "Canadian-born".
But if the term "Canadian-born" is to be used to denigrate those terrorist suspects and turn them into second-class citizens then I have no choice -- I'll just have to adopt it for myself, too.
"I am Canadian-born" doesn't have quite the crispness and style needed for a beer commercial, but I suppose we'll get used to it.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Thanks, Dad 

Ross over at The Gazetteer has a beautiful Father's Day post:
My old man was a Union man.
And the folks in the Union fought like bastards...and they fought constantly, usually for the tiniest of things in each successive contract...And when I was a kid, especially during that time when I was a barely no-longer-a-teenager-aged kid, I thought the folks from the Union were just a little bit off their nut. . .
And he goes on to describe how he understands now why they fought so hard:
And most of all, I now get the fact that my Dad was, and is, my hero.
His description of his Dad reminded me a bit of my own father, a man who grew up during the Depression and spent his life as a farmer with a Grade 9 education, but who re-invented himself and his family as urban, self-educated, knowledgeable, thoughtful, opinionated, humourous. A lifelong member of the CCF and supporter of the Wheat Board, who lost and made thousands playing the stock market and the futures market, a gambler who played a mean game of bridge and poker -- enough so that when I met one of my dad's old poker buddies years later, he said to me "So you're Art's daughter, are you? I bought your shoes all through high school!" Most of all, he was a man with an utter distain for anything that struck him as BS whether it came from the right or the left -- and there is plenty of that in our society. He and my mother gave me my own progressive outlook and I thank them for it.

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Great line of the day 

Tristero at Hullabaloo writes about Gore's Moral Imperative and has this to say about the Democratic Kewl Kids Konsultants:
. . . the latest bundle of snoozers packaged into an "agenda" by the Democratic party's utterly inept national political consultants is a major league embarassment. It's almost as if the party consultants concluded that since the world is facing an energy crisis, the Democratic party should set an example and not have any.
Emphasis mine.

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

A thousand ways to die 

Here's the latest news from the Baghdad morgue, which is receiving 1,000 bodies a month, mostly people violently murdered. With so many people dying every day, the individual stories of loss and despair will likely never be told:
Samir Mehdi Matar, a 40-year-old father of four, is a Shi’ite schoolteacher. Married to a Sunni woman . . . Shortly after leaving for work last April he received a phone call. His house had been wrecked by an explosion. His two daughters, Samaa, 16, and Zahraa, 4, were killed by a bomb that had been placed on a windowsill below the room where they slept.

Najda Abdul Razzak makes no apology for wishing to tear out the eyes of the killer of her son Hani, a 31-year-old Sunni professor of engineering at Baghdad University. Najda was in her kitchen preparing breakfast last week when her son answered a ring at the door and died in a hail of gunfire.

“Every day we have to kill a Shi’ite to show them who we are and that we mean business,” he told a Baghdad contact who cannot be named. “Nobody can stop us.” When the contact saw a body that had apparently been left to rot on the street, he asked Abu Muawiya why nobody had moved it. He was told that it was because the body was Shi’ite and anyone who touched it would be killed. A few hours later the contact saw a man shot dead for removing a piece of cardboard hiding the face of a second body and informing the victim’s family. Abu Muawiya showed no remorse. “We do not want their bodies cleared from the streets,” he said. “We leave them there for the dogs to eat, just as they dump Sunni bodies in rubbish heaps to be devoured by animals.”

Mohammed Saleh al-Duleimi, a 61-year-old Sunni businessman . . . concluded a few weeks ago that it was too dangerous for him and his family to stay in Baghdad. The day before he was due to leave for Turkey, he went to find an electrician who could help to shut down his house. He was found two days later in the morgue with a bullet hole in the back of his head and his hands tied behind his back.
And here's the saddest story -- warning, this will make you ill:
. . . As the doctor talked to his friend, a police pickup truck pulled up with a dozen or more bodies piled in the back. “I could not believe that the dead were brought in such a way,” Siddique said. “They were one on top of the other like animal carcasses.”
When the police found that no porters were available to help, they threw the bodies off the truck. It was then that Siddique noticed the corpses of two boys aged about 12 lying in the pile on the ground.
“Each had a piece of knotted green cloth tied around his neck and I could see they’d been strangled,” the doctor said. He also noticed round holes that were slightly inflamed in several parts of their body, a sign that they had been tortured with electric drills before being killed. “Even their eyes had been drilled and only hollow sockets remained,” he said.
When he pointed out the injuries to his friend, the pathologist shrugged and took another drag on his cigarette, saying this was now routine.
“We have turned into a zoo,” Siddique told me. “What level have we sunk to, to kill people in such a manner and hardly to notice any more?”
The doctor sat with me for a long time, silent and seemingly unable to move. Then he began to give voice to his thoughts.
“Did those children scream in pain? Did the torturers laugh as they drilled? If we ever had a just cause as a country occupied by foreigners, it was lost the moment the resistance started beheading and drilling human beings. No matter how noble their cause when it began, they have now reached a dead end.”
The story also notes that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi professionals are simply leaving, going to Jordan and Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

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Goodbye cruel world, I'm off to join the circus* 


What a wonderful story -- Quebec's own Cirque du Soleil is a social movement helping at-risk youth around the world as well as a circus:
. . . the initiative has expanded to 19 countries. 'We don't want a uniform program around the world, but one in sync with the rhythm of the country and its culture,' explains Michel Lafortune, co-ordinator for the Cirque du Soleil's international social circus programs.
The programs' team works with circus-arts instructors to teach troubled youth how to clown around, juggle and do more advanced circus techniques. Kids learn to use their imagination and balance, and to test their own physical limits.
The instructors help them improve self-esteem, develop social skills and gain a sense of humour. They also teach self-control and discipline, and channel risk-taking and adrenaline in a positive way.
*

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Oilers! 


I know that Carolina is a great team and they probably have as many or maybe even more Canadian players than the Oilers do, including some Alberta players. And I know the Carolina fans are great sports fans. And I know its Southophobic to feel this way. And I know I'm showing my age.
BUT -- there's just something EUHHH about a team from a place without outdoor ice winning the Stanley Cup.
Besides, wasn't that just a great OT goal?

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Great line of the day 

The Galloping Beaver writes about this Bush trip to Iraq compared to the last one:
There have been no reports of plastic turkeys in any of the hundreds of mess halls. Just the one walking around on two feet with a Secret Service detail surrounding him.
Emphasis mine.

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Hello? Anybody home? 

So Bush flew all the way to Baghdad to pay a surprise visit to the new Iraq government.
He couldn't tell anyone he was coming, of course, just in case all those loyal allies leaked it to the insurgency to set up a rocket attack.

U.S. President George W. Bush (L) speaks as Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (C) and his Defence Minister Abdel Qader Jassim listen during their meeting in Baghdad June 13, 2006. (REUTERS/Ahmad al-Rubaye/Pool)

And isn't it just so lucky that they were at home? If he had come a day earlier, they would have been out:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) meets Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi in Tehran June 12, 2006. (Stringer/Reuters)

Are we still in Kansas, Dan?
No, Tony, we're not in Kansas anymore.


And here's what was going on in Iraq during Bush's five-hour visit -- I wonder if his helicopter flew low enough to see any of this?

. . . one of the six coordinated bomb attacks lies on a road in Kirkuk . . . June 13, 2006. (Slahaldeen Rasheed/Reuters)


. . . a car bomb exploded in Kirkuk. . . . .(AFP/Marwan Ibrahim)


Iraqi women mourn as they sit near stains of blood . . . Kirkuk. (AFP/Marwan Ibrahim)


. . . a roadside bomb . . . killed 3 civilians and wounded another 8 near a market in central Samarra. . . . (AP Photo/Hameed Rasheed)


. . . a parked car bomb . . . in the al-Washash market Baghdad . . . killed five people and wounded 13 others (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)


. . . a man who was among those killed from a bomb attack . . . in the holy city of Najaf . . . . REUTERS/Ali Abu Shish


Abbas Ahmed . . . injured when a parked car bomb exploded Monday night in. . . Sadr City. . . killed five people and wounded 41. . . (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)


destroyed house from . . . car bomb attack which killed 10 people and wounded 25 others in a market in western Baghdad . . . . REUTERS/Ali Jasim


A man walks away from . . . one of the six coordinated bomb attacks, which killed at least 14 people in . . . Kirkuk. . . . REUTERS/Slahaldeen Rasheed


Iraqis look at a motorcycle, destroyed during a car bomb attack which killed five people and wounded 26 in Balad . . . . REUTERS/Moqdad Abbas


An Iraqi boy holds blood-stained clothes at . . . car bomb attack which killed five people and wounded nineteen in Baghdad's Sadr city . . . REUTERS/Kareem Raheem


Iraqi men spray water onto the burning car owned by Ahmed Ali al-Yasin, the brother of Asaad Ali al-Yasin the head of Samarra city council, after he was injured with his son Othman Ahmed Ali, by the explosion from a timed-bomb attached to the car . . . (AP Photo/Hameed Rasheed)


Iraqis carry mock coffins with pictures of members of the Mehdi Army fighters who died fighting the U.S. forces in 2004, during the remembrance ceremony in Baghdad's Sadr city . . . REUTERS/Kareem Raheem


A man at the scene holds up the body of a small child said to have died during a U.S.-led raid near Baqouba in Iraq, Monday, June 12, 2006. . . . The U.S. military said coalition forces had killed seven terrorists and two children, whilst local residents accused the Americans of targeting civilians. (AP Photo)

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Irish Coffee, anyone? 

I'm pleased to report that Irish Coffee is now a health food! IrishHealth.Com is reporting on a new study which says:
Consuming coffee seems to have some protective benefits against alcoholic cirrhosis and the more coffee a person consumes, the less risk they seem to have of being hospitalised or dying of alcoholic cirrhosis.
So drinking coffee WITH booze MUST be good for you, eh?

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Great lines of the day 

I read this on a blog comment somewhere today but I can't find it now. Anyway, I thought it was funny, so here it is:
Hollywood is high school with money.
Washington is Hollywood for ugly people.

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Cat 2; Bear 0 


Cat 2 - Bear 0
This is the Jack the Cat from New Jersey who chased a bear up a tree. Twice.
Apparently this cat had been declawed, too -- see, its all in the attitude!
I found the photo at Digby's.

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The Office from Hell 

What a fun place to work:
a whistleblower at the Newcastle office [of the Rural Payments agency] outlined a series of allegations about his workplace to a local newspaper, which included:
-- Staff leaping naked from filing cabinets, which was caught on closed circuit television (CCTV);
-- A new craze of vomiting in cups and leaving them to fester in cupboards until they are discovered through the horrendous smell;
-- People taking drugs and having sex in the toilets;
-- Swearing and having fun-fights in the reception area; and
-- Staff holding break-dancing competitions during working hours.
Gee, in my office we just have a potluck lunch at Christmas. We really let loose, though, going all out on the Nanaimo bars . . .

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Soft in the head 

When is a deal not a deal?
When it's a joke!

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Good guys or bad guys? 

The government says secret evidence, closed-door hearings and indefinite detention are key tools in fighting international terrorism.
Or should that read "in undermining democracy and the rule of law"? Hmmm, I'm not sure.
But I think I'm glad it is our Supreme Court which will decide, not the American version.

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Suicide is painless? 

Navy Rear Admiral Harry Harris demonstrates the firm grasp of reality and commitment to face unpleasant facts which has characterized the American military since the War on Terror began:
"They hung themselves with fabricated nooses made out of clothes and bed sheets . . . They have no regard for human life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us."
So three prisoners at Guanranamo commit suicide and he's mad at them?
If killing yourself is an "act of warfare" rather than of despair, then I guess the 210 US soldiers who have committed suicide since the Iraq War began should now be regarded as having died in combat?
. . . 'Cause suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Crossroads 


Non-Sequitur

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Aha! So now we know who to blame! 

Several months ago, Digby wrote a post about how the rightwingnuts would launch mean and hysterical personal attacks as they saw people turning away from their point of view and had no rational argument to persuade them.
And here it all comes.
Nicholas Berg's father said about Zarqawi's death:
. . . I'm sorry whenever any human being dies. Zarqawi is a human being. He has a family who are reacting just as my family reacted when Nick was killed, and I feel bad for that . . . Zarqawi is also a political figure, and his death will re-ignite yet another wave of revenge, and revenge is something that I do not follow, that I do want ask for, that I do not wish for against anybody. And it can't end the cycle. As long as people use violence to combat violence, we will always have violence.
Well, what an outrageously Christian thing to say -- rightwinger Ace of Spades says:
The moral vanity of these people is disgusting. Attempting to remake themselves into Holy Angels, they instead make themselves into monsters. Does this asshole really think it's an enlightened human response to feel as bad for the death of your son's butcher as for your son's? He thinks that attitude makes him better than other people? I think it makes him less than human, personally. When he dies (which he will, of course, as we all will; no death threat intended), I hope his son slaps this stupid fuck right in the face.
The Jersey Girls say:
We did not choose to become widowed on September 11, 2001. The attack, which tore our families apart and destroyed our former lives, caused us to ask some serious questions regarding the systems that our country has in place to protect its citizens . . . we asked for an independent commission to investigate the loopholes which obviously existed and allowed us to be so utterly vulnerable to terrorists. Our only motivation ever was to make our Nation safer . . . there was no joy in watching men that we loved burn alive. There was no happiness in telling our children that their fathers were never coming home again. We adored these men and miss them every day. It is in their honor and memory, that we will once again refocus the Nation’s attention to the real issues at hand: our lack of security, leadership and progress in the five years since 9/11 . . . We should continuously be holding the feet of our elected officials to the fire to fix these shortcomings. . .
Well, how dare they talk about issues instead of dishing out gratitous personal insults in response to what the Bottle Blond Harpy said about them:
These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9-11 was an attack on our nation and acted like as if the terrorist attack only happened to them. They believe the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing bush was part of the closure process . . . These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzies. I have never seen people enjoying their husbands’ death so much.
And Cindy Sheehan? Well, SHE said:
The Camp Casey experience has given so many of us back our hope. Veterans who fought in Vietnam and in Iraq said that coming to Camp Casey restored their hopes of living a near normal life. Families who, like mine, tragically have had a loved one killed in war found hope in the fact that so many Americans cared about our sons and daughters and were willing to sacrifice something to come out and show solidarity in our struggle to ask: "What Noble Cause?"
So of course Opinion Journal editor James Taranto has no option except to describe her as a "fascist fishwife".
And Al Gore says:
. . . the highest and best use of my skills and experience is to try to change the minds of people in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world about this planetary emergency that we simply have to confront . . . I hope to get the message about the climate crisis to more people in a shorter period of time. I've been trying to tell this story for 30 years, and the debate in the science community is over. And my single objective is to try to move our country, and to the extent I can play a role in it people elsewhere, past a tipping point beyond which the politicians in both parties will feel compelled to start competing by offering genuinely meaningful solutions to the crisis . . . This is not a political issue. It is a moral issue. . .
So Tucker Carlson describes Gore this way: "He's a wild-eyed religious nut. And his religion is the environment." while big-oil shill Sterling Burnett dishes out the Nazi analogy, saying the film is "propaganda" and adds "You don't go see Joseph Goebbels' films to see the truth about Nazi Germany. You don't want to go see Al Gore's film to see the truth about global warming.
And lets not even mention how Michael Moore is toppling the very foundations of the free world by playing a piece of film showing Dear Leader doing nothing, NOTHING, for at least five whole minutes after being told that the United States was being attacked.
Hmmm -- reminds me of something ... somebody spoke and I went into a dream .... The Editors describe right-wing dreaming:
I think it feels like sleeping in late. I think it feels like you are having a really wonderful dream, the kind where everything just kind of makes sense like you always thought it should, and you feel very warm and protected and special and safe. And the only problem is that, every nine minutes or so, the damn alarm clock goes off again, and the dream starts to break up, and you start remember about reality, and how it’s not like your bed, how it’s often cold and hard, uncomfortable and confusing. So you lash out, still half-asleep, reaching for that snooze bar, and your hand lands in a half-empty cup of last night’s sleepytime tea, lurches away, knocking the teacup and the lamp off the bedside table with a crash, and you slap blindly a few times until you hit that big fat snooze bar, and it’s quiet again. And in an instant the broken lamp and the broken cup and the tea soaking into the carpet are forgotten, along with the stresses and disappointments and commitments of the real waking world, and you are once again fast asleep and dreaming, in a warm, soft, safe and special dream where everything really makes sense, just like you always knew it should. For about, oh, nine minutes.

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The light at the end ot the tunnel? 

Any hope that Zarqawi's death in Iraq represents progress toward peace in Iraq seems to be mistaken. That light at the end of the tunnel is actually just an oncoming train. At The Washington Note, Nir Rosen analyzes the impact of Zarqawi's death:
. . . in death Zarqawi struck one final blow for his cause. He had come to Iraq to fight the infidels and become a martyr, gaining entry to paradise. And so he did, the infidels finally killed him and his supporters now believe he is in paradise. This only proves that Iraq is the place to go to if you want to gain entry to paradise, kill infidels, and become a martyr. More will flock to replace him and avenge him. Expect to see a new group, naming itself after Zarqawi, claiming responsibility for attacks targeting Shia leaders or Shia shrines in Iraq, but also in Lebanon or Saudi Arabia, where tensions between Sunnis and Shias have been simmering since the war in Iraq.
We in the media are often pilloried for only reporting "the bad news" in Iraq. But there is no good news. Its too dangerous to even tell you how bad things really are, but they are worse than what you see on the media, not better. The insurgency is passe, Iraq is about the civil war, chaos, anarchy, random and deliberate violence everywhere. And it is spreading throughout the region. Instead of stabilizing the Middle East, the US war in Iraq is tearing it apart, destabilizing it, reviving radical Islam and jihadism and giving a bad name to reform and democracy.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Great lines of the day 

Thanks to Galloping Beaver for the reference to Allison's post at Creekside, called So how are we all doing then?:
. . . just last week the 101st Fightin' Keyboarders, Canadian Division, were all happy about Harper and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, plus of course they still have the one in Iran to look forward to. But now, at the first whiff of fertilizer, suddenly it's as if they've just realized the abyss can see them in their jammies.
Emphasis mine.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

The last angry man 

Keith Olbermann at MSNBC doesn't mince around -- occasionally he just gets angry, and he shows it, and rightfully so. See Olbermann's take on right-wing harpy Ann Coulter's egotistical, jealous, self-aggrandizing, venomous, insane claptrap at Crooks and Liars.

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Great line of the day 

At The Galloping Beaver, Dave writes about how Canadians need to rise above fear:
. . . So the terrorist threat, against which we felt our identity alone as Canadians would protect us, is as real as it always was. Nothing has really changed, except that this time the possible act of violence was thwarted. No act of terrorism occured. And if a new part of the Canadian identity is to live in fear that one might happen, well, we all might as well turn in our multi-coloured money, our touques and our passion for winter sports for a multi-coloured threat level system, kevlar helmets and unwarranted paranoia.
Emphasis mine.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Those were the days 

Does anyone remember the FLQ (Front de libération du Québec)?
I do.
With all the stories recently about the Mississauga terrorist wanna-be's, I thought I would look up the FLQ again. Maybe its because I was in my teens when they were most active, but I remember the FLQ as pretty scary.
Talk about your "home-grown terrorists", for my generation, this means the FLQ. They were the real thing.


1963 Westmount bomb


Quebec student rally in support of the FLQ


Police cordon at the surrender of Liberation cell, December 1970.


Wanted poster.


FLQ Manifesto

[Formed in 1963,] the group's declarations called for a Marxist insurrection, the overthrow of the Quebec government, the independence of Quebec from Canada and the establishment of a workers' society . . . Some of the members were organized and trained by Schoeters, a Belgian revolutionary and alleged KGB agent, whose hero was Che Guevara . . . At least two of the FLQ members had also received guerrilla training in selective assassination from Palestinian commandos in Jordan.
Various cells emerged over time: The Viger Cell, the Dieppe Cell, the Louis Riel Cell, the Nelson Cell, The Saint-Denis Cell, the Liberation Cell and the Chénier Cell . . . In 1966 a secret eight-page document titled Revolutionary Strategy and the Role of the Avant-Garde was prepared by the FLQ outlining its long term strategy of successive waves of robberies, violence, bombings and kidnappings, culminating in insurrection and revolution . . .
From 1963 to 1970, the FLQ committed over 200 violent political actions, including bombings, bank hold-ups and at least three deaths by FLQ bombs and two deaths by gunfire. In 1963, Gabriel Hudon and Raymond Villeneuve were sentenced to 12 years in prison for crimes against the state after their bomb killed Sgt. O'Neill, a watchman at Montreal's Canadian Army Recruitment Centre. By 1970, twenty-three members of the FLQ were in jail, including four convicted murderers, and one member had been killed by his own bomb. Targets included English owned businesses, banks, McGill University, Loyola College, and the homes of prominent English speakers in the wealthy Westmount area of the city. On February 13, 1969 the Front de libération du Québec set off a powerful bomb that ripped through the Montreal Stock Exchange causing massive destruction and seriously injuring twenty-seven people. . .
And here are some of the events of the October Crisis:
On October 5, 1970, members of the FLQ's Liberation cell kidnapped James Richard Cross, the British Trade Commissioner as he was leaving his home for work. Shortly afterwards, on October 10, the Chénier Cell kidnapped the Minister of Labour and Vice-Premier of Quebec, Pierre Laporte, while he was playing football with his family on his front lawn. On October 17, callers to a radio station announced that Laporte had been murdered and divulged the location of the map which led to the discovery of his body . . . Early in December 1970, police discovered the location of the kidnappers holding James Cross. His release was negotiated and on December 3, 1970, five of the terrorists were granted their request for safe passage to Cuba by the Government of Canada after approval by Fidel Castro.
In July 1980, police arrested and charged a sixth person in connection with the Cross kidnapping. Nigel Barry Hamer, a British radical socialist and FLQ sympathizer, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months in jail.
In late December, four weeks after the kidnappers of James Cross were found, Paul Rose and the kidnappers and murderers of Pierre Laporte were located in the corner of a country farmhouse basement. They were tried and convicted for kidnapping and murder.
And I hadn't remembered these much more recent events:

. . . terrorist activities continue to occur at the hands of isolated members of the organization. In 2001, Rhéal Mathieu, a member who in 1967 was sentenced to 9 years in prison for terrorist activities including murder, was convicted of the attempted firebombing of three Second Cup coffee shops in Montreal. Mathieu targeted Canada's largest specialty coffee retailer because of the company's use of its incorporated English name Second Cup. For this offence, a judge sentenced Rhéal Mathieu to one month in jail in addition to the nine months he had already been held. He was also given a six-month sentence to be served concurrently for illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun and a .38-calibre revolver. Shortly thereafter, seven McDonald's restaurants were firebombed. According to a spokesman for the company, the bombings resulted in customers being afraid to go to Second Cup coffee shops, resulting in a substantial loss of business. The company changed their signs to Les cafés Second Cup.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Great line of the day 

Dawg writes about the happiness of the right-wing bloggers that Canada finally has its very own treehouse of horror:
Seeping through every crack in the foundation of our polity is the presumption of guilt, unfettered paranoia, vengefulness, opportunist attacks on more-accessible-than-ever targets of the far Right, and a pure unadulterated hateful raving that beggars description. Add to this unsavoury ooze a call for the return of capital punishment, and bizarre pre-emptive attacks on the defenders of an open society, and we have it all wrapped up in a ball. It's Them versus Us. Darkness versus Light. Pure Evil versus All That We Hold Dear.
Emphasis mine.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

The one-L Philip is a prince... 

Now here's a book I want to read -- The Duke of Hazard: Wit and Wisdom of Prince Philip. Some examples:
"I am truly fed up with the opening and closing ceremonies [of the Olympics]. They are a pain in the neck," Philip told the newspaper . . . "Opening and closing ceremonies ought to be banned. Absolute bloody nuisances" . . . The 100-page book includes details of an infamous gaffe in Beijing, China, in 1986, when the prince told British students 'if you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty-eyed.'
It also recounts an occasion in Cardiff, Wales, when he addressed young members of the British Deaf Association who were standing close to a band playing steel drums.
'Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf,' the prince told them.
In Hungary, the prince is said to have told a British man he must have only arrived recently as he hadn't 'got a pot belly' and in Scotland, asked a driving instructor how he managed to 'keep the natives off the booze long enough' to pass their driving test.
I met Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth on the Royal Yacht Britannia, along with a hundred other people, during a royal visit to Victoria when I was a reporter. What impressed me about both of them was their ability to make charming small talk to total strangers who were all totally awe-struck and thus tongued-tied. And Philip didn't say anything outrageous at all, darn it -- as I recall, the conversation was mostly about the weather, ho hum, but somehow it sounded more interesting when they were talking about it.
(By the way, only Ogden Nash fans will understand the title to this piece...)

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Why did they do this? 

I hope we find out more about the Ontario terrorism plot soon, because here's something already that I don't understand.
From the Globe and Mail photo gallery, here is a photo from Saturday's press conference:


Globe and Mail cutline: Items are shown on display during a press conference in Toronto. The bag of fertilizer, top, was not seized during the raid and was there for display purposes only.

Emphasis mine.
So apparently someone from the police department went out and bought a bag of ammonium nitrate fertilizer to put on display at the press conference?
Why would they do this? So that reporters would know what fertilizer looks like? Because someone thought that all the guns and electronic gear and cell phones didn't tell enough of a story?
One of the Toronto Star stories talks about the importance of the case to Canadian law enforcement:
The case is critical for Canada's international reputation and will be scrutinized worldwide as it works its way through the courts.
There has been cause for skepticism concerning the ability of Canada's intelligence and police services to prosecute security cases. Since 9/11, the majority of high-profile security investigations have ended in international embarrassment, such as the acquittal of suspects in the Air India bombing case and the Maher Arar affair which raised questions about international information sharing, exposed an inexperienced federal police force and left an Ottawa man broken after his deportation, detention and torture in Syria.
Then there was Project Thread, a 2003 joint immigration-RCMP case touted as the dismantling of an Al Qaeda cell, but ending in a routine immigration case that sent Pakistani students home branded terrorists.
So please, folks, if you have confidence in your case, you don't need to be buying a bag of fertilizer to try to make it scarier.

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Four out of ten 

Hmmm...this is interesting.
From the way the Tories talk, you would think more people supported their policies. But Decima Research's new poll finds that only four out of ten Canadians support the mission in Afghanistan, while even fewer, only three out of ten, would say it is OK to abandon Kyoto.

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Great line of the day 

James Wolcott flags two posters from The Corner annoyed by inadvertantly encounting 'liberal' moments during their vacations -- like, Disneyland signs in Spanish, and a Scottish performer playing Lennon's Imagine.
I guess when these people stay at home, they organize their day to keep themselves safe from such horrific experiences.
Anyway, Wolcott writes:
. . . this is what the world is like now, get used to it. You're going to hear messages in Spanish, and discover that other countries aren't going to break out their nationalistic colors just because you arrive at the airport with your tourist fantasies intact. For conservatives, the cultural comfort zone is shrinking, and will probably continue shrinking until it's no bigger than a choke collar. It's probably only a matter of time before Krikorian attends a NASCAR race and complains that one of the concessionaires seemed kinda gay.
Emphasis mine.

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Three Oklahoma Citys 

I snarked a few days ago that if we actually had "home-grown terrorists" now living in Canada, why didn't we arrest them.
Well, it looks like we did. And recovered enough fertilizer to cause the equivalent of three Oklahoma City bombings.

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What's that smell? 



To me, bitterness is the under-arm odor of wishful weakness. It is the graceless acknowledgment of defeat.
Anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston.

Canadians will be plenty bitter if the US gets everything it is asking for in the softwood lumber deal.
The Gazetteer has the story.
Canada should know better by now -- we can never be nice to the United States, they just see it as a sign of weakness. Being natural born bullies themselves, combativeness is what they respect.
Ross flags a Vancouver Sun report that the US wants to have everything their own way in the softwood lumber deal -- if I understand the situation correctly, they don't want BC producers to be able to cut prices on their pine-beetle infested timber, while they also want Canadian manufacturers to continue paying extra tax on finished lumber products.
BC Forests minister Rich Coleman says don't panic -- yet:
"Everybody knows we are not going to sign a final deal that does not meet our expectations. If it was presented as a fait accompli in the final deal, yeah, I would have some concerns on some of these issues. But I don't have that in front of me right now, so I am not going to try to inflate any type of emotions around the table over the next week or so as we try to get to where we can get common language."
The story also notes, however, that forest companies are still filing their own lawsuits in the U.S. Court of International Trade "to protect their interests should the deal collapse."

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