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Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Cucucu Bird 

Once again we hear the cry of the Cucucu bird - "C-c-c-christ its c-c-c-cold outside!"
There is actually one advantage about living in Saskatchewan -- after you have lived here, you realize you can live anywhere in the world. Weather simply is not a factor anymore.
When we lived in Victoria, we met people who were actually handicapped in their careers because they simply couldn't imagine living anywhere in Canada except the West Coast.
Us Saskatchewan types know that we can take 40 below or 40 above, doesn't matter, we're tough!
Now our cars, on the other hand . . . pretty wimpy, some of them. When we turn the ignition key, that's we hear the Rururu Bird -- "I'm not going to ru-ru-ru-run-n-n-n-n today!"



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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kabuki Theatre 

Act One:
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, reinforcing an ultimatum over Afghanistan, told U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday that Ottawa would withdraw its military mission next year unless NATO sent in more troops, officials said . . . Harper said on Monday he accepted the recommendations of an independent panel that urged Canada to end the mission unless NATO provided 1,000 extra soldiers and Ottawa obtained helicopters and aerial reconnaissance vehicles.
Act Two:
NATO is urging Canada not to pull its troops out of Afghanistan's dangerous Kandahar province.
Alliance spokesman James Appathurai says the defence organization will find the additional troops for southern Afghanistan that Ottawa is demanding.
Act Three:
Harper told reporters yesterday "the (Manley) panel has made a clear case that there cannot be a definitive timeline placed on when NATO will have finished the job in Afghanistan and when Afghans are able to take responsibility for their own security and we agree. However, Canada's contribution should be reviewed, at minimum, in the context of progress on the benchmarks the panel has advocated, and within two to three years' time."
Harper pledged to lead a diplomatic 'full-court press' with allies to ensure Canadian soldiers get the help that will allow them to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely.
Somehow, the Harper promise that the mission in Afghanistan wouldn't be extended unless Canadians supported it has morphed into the Harper promise to "ensure Canadian soldiers get the help that will allow them to stay ... indefinitely".
How did that happen?

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

L’État, c’est moi 

From Chet via CC: Harper gallery leaves MPs speechless:
"When you walk in the door [of the Government Lobby in the House of Commons], all you see are pictures of Stephen Harper," said Ms. May
"I'd say between every window, in every available space of the wall, at eye level, every available space has a photo of Stephen Harper."
"You've got photos of Stephen Harper, but not of previous prime ministers," she added. "Photos of Stephen Harper in different costumes, in different settings, dressed as a fireman, in Hudson Bay looking for polar bears, meeting the Dalai Lama, even the portrait of the Queen had to have Stephen Harper, but in a candid, behind her."
We should have known when Christmas was all about him. Dr. Dawg writes in a comment at CC's place:
Apparently he has another portrait in a closet somewhere that's getting really ugly.
But seriously, as Dawg says, there's something wrong with a man who is so in love with the look of his own face.

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The Rodney Dangerfield President 



Juan Cole takes on Bush's speech though he notes that nobody cares what Bush says anymore:
...the man has discredited himself so badly, he can't even get people to so much as yawn at him.

I was blogging so I wasn't really listening to MSNBC's post-speech analysis ast night -- but whenever I did notice it, they weren't talking about the speech at all but instead they were chit-chatting the Kennedy endorsement of Obama.
Instead of calling him Dubya, why not just call him Rodney?

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Monday, January 28, 2008

20 years ago today 

Thinking about what I would write in commemoration of the day abortion became legal in Canada, I googled "abortion stories", and got 250,000 hits.
That's way too many to write about, and anyway, the abortion stories I care about are the ones involving women I know who have had an abortion.
And here's my first observation. If these women hadn't had the inherent right to make their own choice about abortion, then who else would? Would a judge or a parent or a doctor or a clergyman or a husband or a boyfriend or a politician have made a better choice than the women themselves did? No, of course not -- the choice was theirs.
And here's my second observation. Each of their circumstances was unique, each had her own reasons for choosing abortion instead of continuing the pregnancy, each of their stories was a personal one. So theirs are not "abortion stories" but rather "women's stories". Sometimes women's stories include abortion.

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Well, that's progress 

I had never thought of this before, but I now realize that the main advantage of fixed election dates and term limits is that we get to say "That's the last time!"
For instance, tonight was the last time we will have to listen to a George Bush State of the Union address!

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hegemony, smegemony 

There is a saying which goes something like this: better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Bill Clinton was smart enough to make sure the United States kept its mouth closed [insert snarky joke here and read on] But George Bush and Dick Cheney actually believed all the hoke and hype about how the United States was the world's only superpower and how the leader of the United States was the leader of the world and how the United States could do anything it liked, striding the globe like a colossus.
So they started flapping their gums, so to speak. And now the world is sneering.
Ian Welsh writes:
Walk with me a while and imagine you are mad. Crazy. Insane. It's an interesting sort of insanity where you see the world as something other than it is. You are dead convinced that people are out to get you, but these people have almost no means to harm you and fear your retaliation greatly, because you're a powerful person and they are weak.
You believe that you are hale and hearty, but in fact you're ghastly, obese and ill. You think you're rich, but in fact you're poor . . . Your once lean body, packed with muscles, has been replaced by a flaccid one, paunchy and fat . . . The "you" I'm referring to, as I'm sure many have figured out by now, is the US.
It starting to dawn on them now -- with the largest miliary budgets in history they've spent seven years fighting wars against teenagers; their president visits the Middle East and nobody cares; the housing bubble and the plummeting markets of the last week have demonstrated uncomfortable weakness in the American economy. The New York Times piles on:
. . . Many saw the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as the symbols of a global American imperialism; in fact, they were signs of imperial overstretch. Every expenditure has weakened America’s armed forces, and each assertion of power has awakened resistance in the form of terrorist networks, insurgent groups and “asymmetric” weapons like suicide bombers. America’s unipolar moment has inspired diplomatic and financial countermovements to block American bullying and construct an alternate world order . . . now, rather than bestriding the globe, we are competing — and losing — in a geopolitical marketplace alongside the world’s other superpowers: the European Union and China. This is geopolitics in the 21st century: the new Big Three. . . . The Big Three make the rules — their own rules — without any one of them dominating. And the others are left to choose their suitors in this post-American world.
And Atrios concludes:
it's been quite obvious for some time that the neocons who dreamt of American hegemony have basically destroyed it.
On a side note, the NYT also writes:
Condoleezza Rice has said America has no “permanent enemies,” but it has no permanent friends either.
To which I must add, except Canada. Right or wrong, through thick or thin, sink or swim, we're stuck with 'em.

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This is really neat! 


From Cute Overload! :)

If the link doesn't work, go to Youtube here

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Funniest lead ever 

Read this lead sentence:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed not to let politics dictate his government's decision on the future of the Afghanistan war on Friday ....
And laugh your ass off.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Smart-ass answers 

My husband got these in an email today:
THE 6 BEST SMART ASS ANSWERS OF 2006

It was mealtime during a flight on American Airlines. “Would you like dinner?” the flight attendant asked John, seated in front. “What are my choices?” John asked. “Yes or no,” she replied.

A flight attendant was stationed at the departure gate to check tickets. As a man approached, she extended her hand for the ticket and he opened his trench coat and flashed her. Without missing a beat, she said, “Sir, I need to see your ticket not your stub.”

A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store but she couldn’t find one big enough for her family. She asked a stock boy, “Do these turkeys get any bigger?” The stock boy replied, “No ma’am, they’re dead.”

The cop got out of his car and the kid who was stopped for speeding rolled down his window. “I’ve been waiting for you all day,” the cop said. The kid replied, “Yeah, well I got here as fast as I could.” When the cop finally stopped laughing, he sent the kid on his way without a ticket.

A truck driver was driving along on the freeway. A sign comes up that reads, “Low Bridge Ahead.” Before he knows it, the bridge is right ahead of him and he gets stuck under the bridge. Cars are backed up for miles. Finally, a police car comes up. The cop gets out of his car and walks to the truck driver, puts his hands on his hips and says, “Got stuck, huh?” The truck driver says, “No, I was delivering this bridge and ran out of gas.”

A college teacher reminds her class of tomorrow’s final exam. “Now class, I won’t tolerate any excuses for you not being here tomorrow. I might consider a nuclear attack or a serious personal injury, illness, or a death in your immediate family, but that’s it!” A smart-ass guy in the back of the room raised his hand and asked, “What would you say if tomorrow I said I was suffering from complete and utter sexual exhaustion?” The entire class is reduced to laughter and snickering. When silence is restored, the teacher says, “Well, I guess you’d have to write the exam with your other hand.”

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Asymmetric warfare 

I have a prediction: the next thing we're going to hear from the Harper government is how the suffering by these torture victims, like the suicides in Guantanamo, is actually just another example of asymmetric warfare so that the Taleban can demoralize the Canadian people!
First, the Harper government wanted us to believe these prisoners weren't really being tortured at all. Alisonwrites:
...we'll just pause here for a moment to recall that Harper and Stockwell Day have both stood up in our Parliament and insisted that the reason detainees - hell, let's just call them prisoners from now on, shall we? - claim to be tortured is because the Taleban trains them to do so to trick us.
One guy had no toenails left. That's really quite the trick.
Dion and Layton were slagged as traitors in the HoC for even suggesting that the allegations be looked into.
Now, when the stories of torture have been substantiated, the Harper government is wrapping itself in the flag to avoid answering questions about the prisoners:
...Lawyers for human-rights groups are fighting that argument in one of two court cases against the federal government. One quipped Thursday that the government was conflating national security and national embarrassment.
Graham repeatedly sprang to his feet in objection as human-rights lawyers attempted to ask a military witness – Brig.-Gen. Andre Deschamps – about the detainees.
Some of the questions that remained unanswered Thursday:
– Where are the detainees?
– Who has them?
– How many are there?
– How many are actually enemy combatants and how many are civilians who have helped the Taliban?
– How many have disappeared?
No doubt the government is protecting us by not sharing these unpleasant and uncomfortable details -- if, indeed, they actually know any of these answers. Dave sums up what this whole miserable story shows the Canadian people about our government.:
They are right-wing authoritarians and they would rather chew off their own arms than admit a mistake.
And they expect us to believe them when they tell us how things are going in Afghanistan.

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A willing collaboration 

Over at Antiwar.com, journalist Jon Elmer gives us a round-up of Canada's involvement in the Iraq War: Canadian General Takes Senior Command Role in Iraq
. . . Brigadier-General Nicolas Matern, a Special Forces officer and former commander of Canada's elite counterterrorism unit, will serve as deputy to Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin III, incoming commander of the 170,000-strong Multi National Corps-Iraq beginning in mid-February.
Matern is the third Canadian general to serve in the command group of Operation Iraqi Freedom. . .
42 Canadian tanks and armored personnel carriers left Edmonton last week destined for Fort Bliss, Texas to participate in pre-deployment training exercises with the US Army before a summer rotation in Afghanistan. A Department of National Defense press release characterized the training as "massive," with more than 3,000 Canadian soldiers taking part in Exercise Southern Bear.. . .
The April 2007 Iraq Reconstruction Report lists Canada as the fourth largest importer of Iraqi oil. Industry Canada records that total Canadian imports from Iraq have risen from 1.06 billion dollars in 2002 to 1.61 billion dollars in 2006, making Iraq second only to Saudi Arabia as a Middle Eastern source for Canadian imports. . .
In 2003, Canada pledged 300 million dollars in aid and reconstruction in Iraq. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has helped train more than 30,000 Iraqi security forces in neighboring Jordan, and has had top level advisors operating within the Iraqi interior ministry. As well, Canadian frigates continue to operate alongside the US aircraft carriers in the Arabian Gulf that are a primary staging platform for bombing raids in Iraq.
And here's some interesting tidbits about Brigadier General Matern:
Matern's Special Forces background is seen as an asset. "He comes in with a unique set of skills," Col. Bill Buckner of the 18th Airborne told the Ottawa Citizen. "We're the home of the airborne and the special operating forces, so he fits in very nicely to this warrior ethos we have here."
Matern was a commander in the secretive commando unit, Joint Task Force-2, before being promoted to deputy commander of the newly created Canadian Special Operations Forces Command.. . .
Its startling to see how deeply involved we really are with this immoral war.

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Why should they have all the fun? 

So the Bush administration lied 935 times to justify sending American troops to war in Iraq.
Now I guess it's our turn, as the Harper administration tries to justify keeping Canadian troops at war in Afghanistan.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Laughing her right into the White House 

The guy who started this once worked for Richard Nixon.



He thinks it just so witty.
He's going to print this on a bunch of t-shirts and sell them. Ha!
And if enough yahoos are photographed during the Republican convention wearing these t-shirts, then every woman in America will vote for Hillary, and for every other Democrat she can find.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Welcome to Gitmo North 

Alison catches us up on the newest cross-border initiative, the "Server in the Sky". Admirably, she refrains from usint the cliched term "Big Brother". But I will not, because that is what it is.
Not to worry, the FBI says the intention of exchanging all sorts of personal data on citizens is "to catch the worst of the worst".
Now, where have I heard that term before?

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Great line of the day 

Digby refutes the new media meme that Democrats who vote for Hillary must be racists:
It's not all that hard to figure out that older voters would vote for the person who is running on "experience" just as it's not surprising that younger voters would vote for the man who promised "change." . . .
The people who don't like blacks are in the party where there are none.
Emphasis mine.

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Reading the tea leaves 

I'm not so sanguine about Nick Burns leaving the State Department as Steve Clemmons and West End Bound.
Burns was apparently one of the strongest voices against Cheney's plan for war with Iran. And he's leaving voluntarily? I don't believe it. Combined with the overinflated Strait of Hormuz dust-up, and Defense secretary Gates acting hard-done-by and the continuing promotion of the idea that the Iraq War has been won, I'm starting to wonder whether ducks are being lined up here.
Bush and Cheney have only one more year to save the world.

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I read the news today, oh boy 

Well, I see New Brunswick has now closed the barn door. As a parent, I was so angry last week when I realized that people knew about how dangerous these vans are, they've known for years, yet instead of hiring a bus and a driver for these after school game treks, instead of billeting kids overnight, or instead of playing during the day on the weekends, the school let the coach drive along a slick, dark highway in the middle of the night in the middle of the winter -- all for the sake of saving a few bucks "for the children".

Here's a scandal waiting to go boom!: Bad results kill drug studies
Of the 74 studies that started for the 12 antidepressants, 38 produced positive results for the drug. All but one of those studies were published.
However, when it came to the 36 studies with negative or questionable results, as assessed by the FDA, only three were published and another 11 were turned around and written as if the drug had worked.
So are half of the research studies for new drugs actually poorly designed? Or were the researchers prevented from publishing by the terms of their research contracts? Either way, its outrageous.

And let me get this straight -- its not the torture of Canadian citizens itself that is wrong, its the document that labels the US as a nation that tortures people. Thanks, Maxime, for clearing that up for us.

So the United States is trying to get people spending money by sending them money to spend. Dare I say, doesn't that seem sorta socialist? So why don't they just provide health care -- that would save people hundreds of dollars every single month?

And looking at the Republican turnouts in the South Carolina primaries in 2000 and in 2008, a difference of something like 150,000 people, one could conclude that "none of the above" came in first this time.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

We coulda been a contender! 

Kent Austin is gone and as much as everybody wishes him well and all that, what I also say is, damn it all anyway!
We needed him a lot more than Ole Miss did.
We may be a small pond, but here he was a pretty big fish. At Ole Miss, not so much. For someone who hasn't played ball in the US for 20 years, I have some doubts about this as a career move. But what do I know about football administration anyway -- if he wanted to get to the NFL someday, it wasn't going to happen for him here. And I guess the time to offer a CFL coach a job in Mississippi is in January.
So Austin goes from running the show here:


to not running the show here:


So next November instead of looking forward to the Grey Cup, Austin will be looking forward to the Egg Bowl.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Well, then, do it yourself 

Yes, I read the LA Times story about how the United States knows how to do it right in Afghanistan, while Canada and Britain and the Netherlands are doing it wrong, and I knew it was self-serving crap.
What I didn't know was WHY it was crap -- had to wait for Dave to enlighten us. And he does -- Gates knows nothing of counter-insurgency. MacKay supports him.
Gates was throwing a temper tantrum because things in Afghanistan are little better now than they were in 2002. What he won't acknowledge is that the fault lays squarely with the Bush administration for screwing up the job in the first place.
MacKay, instead of demanding that Gates come out and clarify his words, sucked up to him because there's nothing more important to a Conservative than a Republican.
There is something interesting out of this little US-spits-on-allies episode though.
Apparently all the sunshine the Harperites continually attempt to blow up everyone's ass about how so much progress is being made in Afghanistan is pure crap.
If the US SecDef is concerned that NATO forces don't have a grip on counter-insurgency operations it's because the insurgency is alive and growing.
That MacKay is a liar and remarkably stupid isn't worth getting into. But Gates needs to be taken to the woodshed. The reason a counter-insurgency operation is so difficult to mount is because that's not what is being fought. The Bush administration never did secure Afghanistan properly. The distraction with Iraq robbed the Afghanistan occupation of the necessary troops to do the job.
And as for not knowing how to deal with an insurgency, I would suggest Gates and his pet puppy MacKay do a little light reading. I do believe the British wrote the book on counter-insurgency operations.
[cough - Northern Ireland - cough]

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Great line of the day 

Glenn Greenwald on journalisming:
Ponder how much better things would be if establishment journalists -- in response to being endlessly lied to and manipulated by political officials and upon witnessing extreme lawbreaking and corruption at the highest levels of our government -- were able to muster just a tiny fraction of the high dudgeon, petulant offense, and melodramatic outrage that comes pouring forth whenever their 'reporting' is criticized.

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Oh, such a special little province! 

Well, isn't that nice? Harper thinks we're a winning province -- not a bunch of losers anymore.
Why do I feel like I've just been patted on the head and given a lollypop?

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

And we'll have fun, fun, fun... 

Well, I'm honoured -- Dr. Dawg has asked me and a number of other bloggers to contribute some posts to his blog in February and March.
It reminds me a bit of those good old days in the neighbourhood when foolish parents would go away for the weekend and leave the teenagers alone and then their whole high school would show up and the music would blast and the police would eventually be called and then we'd see a very sorry kid out in the street the next morning under the blazing sun sweeping up the broken glass.
But Dr. Dawg doesn't have to worry. He can trust us....

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Monday, January 14, 2008

First rule 

Canadians try to talk some sense into Glenn Greenwald -- start here and then go here and here and here and here and especially here.
But if the ACLU can defend the Nazis, then I guess Glenn Greenwald can continue to defend Ezra Levant.
Looks like Glenn hasn't heard John's first rule of Canadian blogging:
Whatever Ezra Levant is doing/saying at any given moment, it's not worth talking about.

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No smears, please 

It sounds like the Hillary camp and the Barak camp are calming down and walking back from a silly fight about who's a racist.
Karl Rove must be gobsmacked, because according to the gospel of Rove, modern political campaigns are supposed to go for the throat, and the under-the-radar smear is supposed to be the perfect way to chop down an opponent.
But I suspect that Hillary and Barak got a message from the Democratic rank and file, who have had it up to here with the politics of personal destruction. And the message was, smarten up!

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Never again 

Dave writes about about the importance of abortion rights after a supposedly pro-choice blogger said that pro-choice tactics "trivialize pregnancy and the decision facing women considering an abortion".
At first I thought this blogger must be a young person, in his early 20s maybe, who has never known what it was like to live in a society where abortion was illegal. But looking at the profile on his website, it turns out he's my age, for crying out loud -- he knows very well how long and terrible the fight was to decriminalize abortion -- the hospital board battles of the 1970s and 1980s, and the 30 years of Morgentaler's court cases.
And now what he calls "the Pro-Choice movement" should make nice so that it "maintains credibility and broad public support"?
How ridiculous.
Depending on the poll, at least seven or eight out of every ten Canadians support unlimited and unrestricted abortion rights. Nobody is going to stop supporting abortion rights just because they don't like the term "fetus fetishist", however insulting that may be. This support has nothing to do with any ad campaign or brochure or news interview from any pro-choice organization.
It is simply because we want our daughters or granddaughters or girlfriends or wives or mothers or ourselves to have the right to chose to end a pregnancy.
And this is a right we won't ever let any government take away from us. Nope. Never again.

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The bully 

Alison speculates on why women don't like Harper very much.
Maybe its because we know a bully when we see one.

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Pathetic 

The Bush Administration just can't do anything right.
With Bush and Cheney desperately demanding a Gulf of Tonkin incident to justify anti-Iran sabre-rattling during Bush's trip to the Middle East this week, all the Pentagon can come up with is a laughably ridiculous "Gulf of Hormuz incident" -- a few buzzing speedboats, some non-existant 'white boxes' and a clownish 'voice of doom'. Bush tries to rattle anyway, but accusing Iran of "alarming rhetoric" just doesn't cut it.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Gracious good afternoon 

Oh that skdadl -- who else would think to call this ridiculous story the wrath of Ernestine? And then follow it up with some great Youtube clips.
The question that occurred to me was this -- didn't these telecom companies put the security of the free world at risk when they cut off these wiretaps just because of mere filthy lucre? How dare they! They didn't have any constitutional principles when it came to setting up these wiretaps illegally, so how come they all of a sudden got these business principles just because they didn't get paid on time. And isn't it just wrong to allow this traitorous behaviour to go unpunished by passing legislation which would immunize the telecom companies from any lawsuits arising out of these wiretaps? And ...... oh, did I get that backward? Never mind...

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Dog Whistle Words 



It's like looking at one of those Word Search puzzles -- a jumble of letters until suddenly some actual words pop out at you.
Today's American political scene is increasingly being distorted by so-called "dog whistles" -- incomprehensible jumble language which is actually double-secret-probation code words sending an under-the-radar racist or sexist message
Bush started it, using terms like "wonder-working power" and "Dred Scott" and "just a comma" as dog whistles to the religious right to convince them that he was really one of them at heart.
Now we see Huckabee talking about "vertical leadership" -- an incomprensible term until you realize that vertical is now used by evangelicals to describe their relationship with God.
And with a woman and an African-American man leading the presidential nomination race, the whistles to racist and sexist stereotypes are getting louder all the time.
Like Karl Rove describing Obama as "lazy" -- the whistle is to the right-wing stereotype of the black welfare queen
Like the New York Attorney General describing Obama as shucking and jiving.
Like talking about the "lynching" of Hillary Clinton -- a loaded term when someone is describing how the Obama campaign is criticizing the Clinton campaign.
Like the stream of misogynistic dribble about Hillary Clinton over the last several months, examples too numerous to count.
And like the "Breck Girl" slur against John Edwards, a homophobic dog whistle.
Criticizing this racist and sexist dog whistle language in US politics has nothing to do with "political correctness" and everything to do with the importance of not being sucked into the determined effort by republicans to trash all of the Democratic candidates.
I expect we'll see the same kind of tactics being tried here during the next political campaign. Luckily, Canadian society is not quite as riddled with stereotypes as American culture -- though we do have some -- but we already see Harper and the Conservatives trying to use ridicule rather than substantive debate against Dion and the Liberals.
Listen for dog whistles.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cry me a river 

So now David Orchard is complaining that he was misled -- Orchard says he was assured Liberal nomination for Sask byelection would be open.
Well, yes, three months ago the nomination for Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River WAS open.
Then two months ago, the Saskatchewan provincial election was held, and Joan Beatty won her provincial seat but the provincial NDP lost the election.
So all of a sudden the Liberals had available to them:
1. a woman
2. who is Aboriginal
3. who actually lives in the riding
4. who has actually won elections, and
5. who has been a provincial cabinet minister
David Orchard, however admirable a person he may be, is none of the above.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Iron this, buddy! 

In the 1970s, Ms. Magazine called it the "click" -- that flash of insight when people see how their individual experiences fit into the whole of feminist politics. In more recent years, I've heard so many younger people, including young women, say they don't think feminism is necessary now because sexism doesn't exist anymore.
Ha!
Those jerks who were shouting "Iron my shirt" at Hillary created a new "click" moment for a new generation.
And add that to the clubby press coverage of the last week, where pundit after pundit was chortling in glee that Hillary -- AKA That Ball-Busting Bitch -- was getting hers!
As TalkLeft said:
The importance of tonight's win can not be understated. It was a revolt of women sick and tired of the likes of Chris Tweety Matthews and the Media Misogynists.
That, and perhaps it took the bloom off the rose a bit to see Obama shake hands so enthusiastically with Bill O'Reilly.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

War has been declared again in Iraq 

I'm starting to get the feeling that the truce or pause or lull or whatever it was is over in Iraq. The continuing drumbeat of violence and death is starting to pick up speed and volume again.
Here's today's wrap-up from Juan Cole -- and remember, this is the news he gathered for just one day:
a wave of bombings and kidnappings swept Iraq on Monday, leaving 24 dead, dozens wounded. In the eastern Sunni enclave of Adhamiya in Baghdad . . . Sunni guerrillas attacked the offices of the local Sunni Pious Endowments Board, which overlaps with the leadership of the pro-American Awakening Council. al-Hayat reports in Arabic that one guerrilla detonated a belt bomb, and the other used a car bomb.
...three Awakening Council patrolmen were killed in various attacks in south Baghdad and Bayji. Several angry commanders of Awakening Council fighters called Al-Hayat to complain that the Shiite government of PM Nuri al-Maliki was offering them no support and was leaving them as sitting ducks.
...A bomb hidden in a street vendor's cart killed four people and wounded 16 others in the Karrada district of central Baghdad, police said.
...A bomb stuck on the side of a parked car killed one civilian and wounded four, including two policemen, when it detonated near a police checkpoint on the outskirts of Baghdad's Shi'ite slum of Sadr City, police said.
...Gunmen in five cars kidnapped between eight and 10 neighborhood patrol volunteers in Baghdad's northern Shaab district. Police said the volunteers had been manning a vehicle checkpoint.
...Seven bodies were found around Baghdad, police said. . .
...Two bodies were found in eastern Mosul, one of them handcuffed and blindfolded, police said.
... Gunmen killed a neighborhood patrol volunteer at a checkpoint in Latifiya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.'
...Police found five bodies near the main street in Qara Kitta village 100 Kms east Baquba north of Baquba. One of the bodies was the body of the mayor of Qaraqoosh village.
...Gunmen killed a civilian in Buhorz village south of Baquba today morning.
...A police office and a member of Sahwa were injured when a mortar shell hit a combined check point downtown Baquba city today morning.
...Gunmen killed three civilians (a husband and his wife and an Iraqi army soldier) in Abo Saif village, part of al-Reyadh city west of Kirkuk city yesterday night.
...A katyosha rocket hit the area near the building of Iraqia channel downtown Kirkuk city today morning. No casualties were reported.
And American soldiers keep dying, a steady pace of one or two a day, eight already this month. Should be hitting the 4,000 mark in February or early March.
I wonder if the Man Named Petraeus has prepared his three envelopes yet?
And this was posted two days ago on YouTube.
I don't know whether to believe it or not, but it made me feel sick.


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Year of the turnip 

I'm getting a chuckle out of all the earnest journalists covering the Republican primaries, talking about McCain vs Romney and Guiliani vs. Thompson, as though any of them mattered in the least.
The American electorate is so angry at the Republicans they would vote for a turnip if it was a Democrat.
Luckily, the Democratic nominee will be Obama or Clinton or Edwards, any one of whom will make a fine president.
As Avedon Carol says:
America doesn't really need Obama to bring us together, because we already are together with just about anyone who isn't a movement conservative/Republican. We want liberal programs and we don't want crazy neocon wars or stupid privatized "services" and destructive monetarist trade/economic policies. There's a minority that will hate Obama just for being a Democrat, but there's no pleasing them. Everyone else is sick of the Republicans. Messrs. Broder and Sullivan may not get this, but pretty much everyone else does.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Standing up to the bully on the block 

Does Saskatchewan's New Premier Brad Wall think we will be satisfied with a federal press release instead of a fair equalization formula? On the eve of his first federal-provincial first-ministers meeting, Wall seems to be preparing the ground for an argument that Saskatchewan doesn't either need or deserve the money:
"Equalization is for 'have-not' provinces and we're a 'have' province," said Wall. "That doesn't mean there's any less case for federal government investment and partnership in our province.
"We want to have a vision of remaining a 'have' province and then pressing hard and aggressively for a federal partnership in key areas to make sure the current boom lasts."
Yada, yada, yada. We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars here, Brad -- not just a few millions in grants for new bridges and hospital equipment that everybody else is going to get anyway. As Lorne Calvert says:
"It should not be a circumstance where even before the meeting you're saying, 'Well, I'm willing to back off that and look at some other issues like infrastructure,"' Calvert said.
"Yes, I'd be participating with every other premier in terms of federal involvement in infrastructure, federal involvement in dealing with industries in this country that are being hurt by the high Canadian dollar.
"But I would not be leaving at home the promise that Mr. Harper made to the people of Saskatchewan."
Doubtless the feds will be pressuring Wall very hard to drop the constitutional lawsuit -- they will be terrified to lose it.
In fact, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they turn the tables on Wall, trying to bully him by threatening to drag the lawsuit out for years and saying they won't give Saskatchewan one thin dime as long as the lawsuit is outstanding.
How Wall responds may well turn into Wall's first real challenge as a new premier.

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Reaching out 

This is what worries me about Obama: You're Not Really Thinking of Going On O'Reilly, Are You?
[O'Reilly's] objective is a vilification of the Left and Progressives since from day one and he brings on a brigade of cronies to back that up on every show. Add his history of sexual harassment, blaming rape victims for their molestation, and multitudes of lies and attacks on any who disagree with him, and you'll realize that Bill O'Reilly's goal is not to illicit information. It's to divide the nation, diminish the truth to an almost unrecognizable state and sell himself (and Factor Gear). Why in the world would you want to play into the hands of one who would only be using you to further his partisan profitability?
Why don't you just meet him at Sylvia's?
I know Obama is a supremely confident person, and, particularly if he can sweep enough Democrats into the Senate and House with him, then there is great potential for him to get some progressive changes done, like health care. And he can certainly make an effective difference in American government with the hundreds of well-qualified progressives who will steam into Washington with him and start cleaning up the messes that Bush has made.
But the older I get, the less I am charmed by charisma and good speeches.
I worry that Obama thinks he can carry all before him with the force of his personality. I worry that he thinks he can reform the US political system by being a charismatic leader. I worry that he thinks the neocons and the Religious Right will listen to him if he just talks intelligently enough. I worry that he can be persuaded to put all his plans on hold until he has made peace with Lieberman and the Republicans. Ain't gonna happen.
What Digby says:
When people say they want change it's not because they are tired of "partisan bickering" (which basically consists of derisive Republican laughter.) They're sick of a government that does exactly the opposite of what they want it to do. And they aren't picky about how it gets done. If it can be done with gentle persuasion, that's great. But if it takes a fight, they're all right with that too.
This is the central difference between the beltway CW as expressed by the Bloomer party and the village gasbags. The elders believe that nothing can get done without "moving to the middle" which currently means, even in the best interpretation, somewhere between the center right and the far right. And even that is incredibly optimistic. The truth is that Republicans out of power believe in total obstruction. They are perfectly happy to block all progressive legislation because they know they will suffer no consequences for it from the mild mannered Democrats and the bipartisan zombies.
Obama has to be willing to fight. For eight full years. And I'm not sure if he is.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Ordinary woman 

When I read about the amazing courage of ordinary women, it is both humbling and inspiring. Here is a story from Devilstower at Daily Kos:
Here, let me tell you a story of someone I knew. Someone who made her life so light that in comparison I might as well be living under a rock.
She worked with me a few years ago, at a time when our office was going through one of its regular interludes of pointless but frenetic activity. In the midst of hundreds of people hurrying to "reform business processes" or "transform the supply chain," she was a Zen breeze. She came, and she went, with remarkably little "stuff." No house, no car, next to no furniture in her small apartment.
While the rest of us fretted about where we would work when this company recovered from its bout of mania, she was pondering a question of another sort: what were the lives of women like around the world? Not glamorous women in metropolitan hot spots, but ordinary women in ordinary lives. What did they think? What did they feel? What did they hope for?
So one day, she walked away from the job, reduced everything she owned to the contents of one small backpack, and went to find out.
She went first to Haiti. She shared a night in a hotel there with a woman from France who had won a ticket to anywhere in the world, and picked Port au Prince from a map because it was in the Caribbean and the name sounded pretty. Then she spent six weeks living with a family in a ramshackle home on a muddy slope. She helped with the chores, played with the children, attended a wedding, spent the long nights talking, and left with a larger family than she'd had when she arrived.
She repeated this experience In Macedonia at a time when eating dinner outside meant seeing the flash of bombs falling in the distance. She crossed China on a train where her ticket didn't allow her to sit down, clutching a piece of paper that had an address she could neither read nor say. She lived with families in Moscow, in Delhi, and Phenom Phen. She greeted the new year at the temples of Angkor Wat. My favorite picture of her is one in which she is defiantly removing her headscarf in front of a huge painting of the Ayatollah Khomeini on the streets of Tehran.
If all this sounds like the indulgence of a wealthy American, let me hurry on to the end of the trip. Eventually, she came to Africa and by train, and car, and on foot, found herself in Zimbabwe. The arrangements she'd made to stay with a family there fell through, but at a time when the country was in turmoil and even diplomats were being removed for their safety, she didn't leave. Instead, she took a job working at an orphanage. There she worked with the older kids, the ones no longer babies, the ones who at two or three still could not walk because they'd never had a chance to try.
Most of the children she worked with were thought to have AIDS. It was assumed that their short lives would involve only a crib and a coffin. It was also thought that, after so long without contact, these children would never be able to love. But when she looked at one young boy, she thought she saw a spark. She thought he has suffering from hunger and neglect, but only from hunger and neglect. She thought he was something special. The more she worked with him, the more she thought he was an amazing survivor in a terrible place. She took him from his crib and into the sunshine. She taught him to walk, play, and love. And she loved him in return.
She asked to adopt the child, but was refused. Zimbabwean law was strict on allowing adoptions by foreigners. So she stayed in Zimbabwe. Stayed long enough to apply for citizenship. Stayed long enough to badger the courts into agreement. Stayed until she won her adoption and got her child.
Then, in the dark of night, she took her new child in her arms and like thousands of other refugees fleeing violence and starvation in Zimbabwe, she walked across the border.
I've only seen the child once. He was laughing as he ran around a park in St. Louis, deliriously excited by water tumbling from a fountain. She looked just the same after all her journeys. Slender and beautiful, with blue jeans and a backpack, a half smile on her face as she watched her son. Just the same as I remembered when I would see her sitting on a park bench at lunchtime, reading Walden, or a Kurt Vonnegut novel.
They're in the United States now. She has an ordinary job again and a child to raise, but I'd bet that her life is not heavier, not even by a gram. She went to discover something about the lives of women, and she found it.

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Amateur Hour 

Chet says about the US election punditry:
...these stupid high school metaphors don't tell us anything useful. All they tell us is that the author of them has no imagination and a questionable level of emotional maturity. If this is really what counts as substantive political discussion in the United States (and it is), then the country is in bigger trouble than can be easily fathomed.
Punditry was never a real profession. Now it has ceased even to be a craft.
Life is just so much easier when you don't work at it.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Great line of the day 

Echidne talking about Kos' crashing the gate comparison:
Kos is right that both parties would prefer to ignore certain segments of their core supporters. Where the Huckabee comparison fails, though, is in what those segments desire from their respective parties. As far as I can tell, the Evangelists would like to change the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to reflect a theocracy, whereas the [progressive] gate-crashers tend to want to preserve the First Amendment and the other amendments which are on the way to the garbage chute right now. It's sort of sarcastic that the conservative stance is taken by the progressives and the radical stance by the conservatives.
Emphasis mine.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Hold that tiger 



Take a look at the Comments to the Globe and Mail story on the Tiger Team -- about two-thirds don't have much respect for the knee-jerk "situational security" rationale, including several who note how hypocritical the Harper government is about supposedly being more "open", and others asking how Canadians are supposed to be supportive of extending the Afghanistan mission when the military are roadblocking information about it.
And here's a funny one:
What more do we need to know about the maturity and mentality of our 'professional' military bureaucrats, when from the pathetically isolated wells of their cubicles, they start calling themselves the 'Tiger Team', to deal with lawful Freedom of Information requests from presumably members of the 'Gazelle Team' they are supposed to be serving.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Edwards 

I think the real story of the Iowa caucuses is how well Edwards did. And I hope he takes it all -- he would win the presidential election without mussing his hair!

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Great line of the day 

From Josh Marshall:
I guess people may have various reasons why they don't want Barack Obama to win the nomination. But there's one reason that wins out. If he wins it'll be years before Chris Matthews shuts up about Obama being a man of Third World.
At least he won't have Hilary to kick around anymore.

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Above average drivers 

Well, we may think our looks are about average, but I guess 8 out of 10 of us think we are above average drivers!
Me too, of course.
I discovered us above average drivers even have our own website where we can complain about how the other two drive! I found more information here about what makes a good driver -- I liked this guideline, based on one of the comments on this site:
Here’s a quick way to judge a careful, sensible street driver: how often do you NEED to brake hard?
If you have to brake hard either you did something wrong or you failed to anticipate somebody else's mistake.
And this whole discussion reminds me of a classic joke:
I'd rather die like my grandfather did, peacefully in his sleep, rather than screaming in terror like his passengers.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Air safety must be a lot worse than we thought 

One can only conclude that air safety must be a lot worse than anybody realized.
Not only did NASA release its survey of airline pilots talking about safety problems on the afternoon of New Year's Eve, it also posted the report as dozens of pdf files, then it held a telephone press conference right at the time the report was posted so that reporters couldn't even skim the material first. And finally, the Globe reports that "NASA did not provide documentation on how to use its data, nor did it provide keys to unlock the cryptic codes used in the dataset."
In all, there are so many problems in the way this report was written and released that either this is the worst report ever produced or someone is trying to bury some bad news here. The Globe reports that
Earlier characterizations from people who have seen the results said they would show that events like near-collisions and runway interference occur far more frequently than previously recognized. Such information could not be gleaned from the 16,208 pages posted by NASA on its Web site, however, because of the way it was presented. The data was based on interviews with about 8,000 pilots per year from 2001 until the end of 2004. . . .
Pilots were asked how many times they encountered safety incidents in flight and on the ground, such as near-collisions, equipment failure, runway interference, trouble communicating with the tower and unruly passengers.
I think its another example of how nobody connected with the Bush administration ever wants to do anything that will annoy companies, in this case the airlines. But seeing NASA's hysteria and paranoia over this survey, the results must be bad, really bad.

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Great line of the day 

From a commenter to the Huffington Post's photo of a buff 73-year-old Giorgio Armani in a Speedo:
Americans would do to almost anything to be fit, except eat well and exercise.

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