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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another Obama freakout is on the way 

Here we go again -- some American progressives are freaking out over Obama's announcement about off-shore drilling.
Now, maybe I'm biased here -- I live in one of the few places in North America which was NOT devastated by the recession and it was Saskatchewan's resource development and related economic activity that was a key factor in maintaining employment here over the last two years.
And I grew up on a farm, where we made our living exploiting the land, so to speak.
So I have just never understood why an economic development activity like drilling for oil gets so identified with a right-wing political ideology, while other types of economic development like farming or building a shopping centre or opening up a factory usually doesn't have to carry such political freight.
Just because the Republican useful idiot Sarah Palin led those vacuous "drill, baby, drill" chants last year, Obama's agreement with oil development becomes some kind of profound betrayal of deeply held Democratic values and principles?
Get a grip, folks -- it's just an oil well.
No President, Democrat or Republican, should be expected to write off an economic development opportunity which would not only support American corporations, workers and communities, but would also have the side benefit of promoting American energy independence. If he did, just because the 'other side' is for it, then this would be a classic example of ideology trumping common sense.

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Shorter 

Shorter John Cole
I have a problem with you people!

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Great line of the day 

The Jurist summarizes the dynamic about the Sask Party's Finance minister Gantefoer sticking its toe into the HST water and then rapidly pulling back:
. . . there's good news in the fact that the Sask Party wants to let big business do the actual work in selling the HST. After all, the Wall government tried the same strategy when it came to nuclear power, and was forced to back down once it realized that it's people rather than dollars who ultimately get their say at the polls.
Emphasis mine.
I heard Brad Wall talk about the Harmonized Sales Tax once on John Gormley Live -- or, rather, I heard John Gormley wax enthusiastic about how great it would be if the Sask Party would think about introducing the HST and Wall saying flatly, over and over, nope, the Sask Party isn't interested, won't discuss it, no no no. Wall knows -as Gantefoer has now discovered -- that even the merest hint of an inclination to even think about the HST would immediately blow up into a big bad news story for the Sask Party.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Obama and politics 

Jonathan Bernstein analyzes Obama's recent speeches and draws some conclusions:
What Obama is saying here is that politics, rightly understood, is the very core of what makes this nation a nation. Not individualism, not religiosity, and certainly not ethnicity or the land itself, but politics. . . . We, in the United States, do not accept history, or live through history -- we have the capacity, Obama (and Biden) say, to make history, through collective action, whether it is in the Revolution, the Constitution, the Civil War, the civil rights revolution, or now, in tackling the challenges that face us in the 21st century. America, therefore, is self-created, and continues to be self-creating, by political action.
Two years ago, I felt that the difference between the three democratic frontrunners could be summed up like this: John Edwards wanted to reform the economy, Hillary Clinton wanted to reform society, and Barak Obama wanted to reform politics. I am still not sure whether people who voted for Obama necessarily understood or supported what he wanted to do -- I'm not sure if changing US politics is actually possible, either -- but Obama took his election as a mandate and I believe he is doing it. He sincerely believes that Americans can do anything they want to do -- "Yes, we can" is the essence of his being. In the end, if he CAN reform American politics, then society and the economy will follow.
The Teabaggers who are so opposed to him call him names like fascist and communist because they don't know WHAT to call him, but in some visceral way they recognize what many progressives so far have not -- that Obama actually is aiming to change the way politics is being practiced in America, creating a significant, non-partisan, forward-looking change in how American democracy functions. This is terribly threatening to some on both the right and the left, who are too comfortable with the existing system.

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Just because you have a PhD doesn't mean you're not a jerk 

I am opposed to the war in Afghanistan but it is mean-spirited and self-aggrandizing to express that opinion on the backs of orphaned children.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Explaining the priests 

Andrew Sullivan writes a perceptive piece about the Catholic church pedophilia scandals and the perception within the priesthood that sexually abusing children was a a sin not a crime.
imagine you are a young gay Catholic teen coming into his sexuality and utterly convinced that it's vile and evil. . .
If this is the 1950s and 1960s, it's into the Church you go. You think it will cure you. In fact, it only makes you sicker . . .
They have never had a sexual or intimate relationship with any other human being. Sex for them is an abstraction, a sin, not an interaction with an equal. . .
They barely see these children as young and vulnerable human beings, incapable of true consent. Because they have never had a real sexual relationship, have never had to deal with the core issue of human equality and dignity in sex, they don't see the children as victims. Like the tortured gay man, Michael Jackson, they see them as friends. . .
In this self-protective environment, these priests do not even see the children as fellow humans. They remain like those solitary abstract images in their heads. So they cannot fully grasp the enormity of the crime they are committing and see it merely as another part of the vortex of their sexual sin.
Sullivan thinks the Pope is going to have to resign.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Great line of the day 

A Commenter at Rumproast describes Sarah Palin's latest stunt to "target" Democrats:
Every time the country sees Barack Obama, he is gracious, earnest, measured in his words, passionate without being antagonistic, and almost supernaturally cognizant of the expectations of his office and his obligations to the people of the United states.
Every time they see Sarah Palin, she is making some kind of half-assed, hyperbolic, self-serving, reactionary pre-emptive strike on one or another topic of enormous complexity which her handlers have obligingly distilled into jaw-dropping, comic book moronisms that she can regurgitate on tape before her beehive unravels.
She is the embodiment of World Wrestling Politics—a loudmouth idiot with a folding chair, managed by banal, sleazy characters wearing sunglasses and swami hats. With stunts like this, she is practically demanding that America take her as seriously as a monster-truck rally and file her in the same part of the Public Brain that holds our fake restaurant receipts and snapshots of the Iron Sheik.
Emphasis mine.

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Message to Iggy and Steve 

I know the Liberals want to pummel the Cons whenever possible, and vice-versa. But decisions affecting people's lives are not bargaining chips or got-ya votes or nhyaaa-nhyaa catcalls in the House.
If you are going to stand up for women's rights, then do so with meaningful and heartfelt actions, not trivial and cynical manouevers.
That is all.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oops 

What is pricelessly funny about the 13 attorneys general suing over health care reform is that the point they are suing about is the one thing that the health insurance companies actually want, the requirement that everyone be insured.
Without such a requirement, people would just buy their insurance on their way to the hospital. And the health insurance companies wouldn't be permited to deny them coverage based on preexisting conditions, nor to cap their coverage. Result -- without the individual mandate, the health insurance companies would all be going bankrupt.
Would the Democrats care? Not one bit. Medicare would have to be expanded to cover people whose insurance companies had gone belly up, and fairly soon the result would be single-payer.
So if there is one part of the health care bill that the insurance companies do NOT want to see struck down, it is the mandate.
None of the insurance companies are going to support an effort to declare the individual mandate unconstitutional, and I would imagine those Attorneys-General are going to be getting a fairly direct memo on this pretty quick. And judges too.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Annie, shut up 

In the nicest possible way, the University of Ottawa tells Ann Coulter to watch her mouth. Oh, snap.

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Still crazy 

Taylor Marsh is still flipping out.
Sorry, but if women's right to chose to have an abortion had to get thrown under the bus so that 35 million Americans could get health care, then so be it. It's simply not the end of the world -- abortions will still be available, even though at a cost. But there is no way that the Democrats could have approved health insurance reform without Stupack and his six votes, however dumb and wrong-headed he is.
And Hillary, bless her heart, would have been even quicker than Obama to make this kind of deal.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Shorter 

Mark Steyn is in despair about American health insurance reform, because the American people will be paying so much for health care in the future they will turn all wimpy and they won't want to start wars and overspend on their military anymore.
Shorter version
We're all Frenched now!
I imagine we'll be seeing a lot of this stuff over the next few days.

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Yes, they can 

Well, they did it.
I didn't think the Democrats in Congress would actually do it, and it was a lot closer than I thought it should be, but they passed health insurance reform tonight.
I just hope the progressives learned something when they saw how close that vote actually was. Without the pander to the anti-abortion crowd, it wouldn't have passed.
And in spite of all the negativity on the progressive blogs about how inadequate this reform was, they missed the point -- exactly what this bill did was never that important, as Canada has discovered -- its just going to be argued about and changed over and over anyway. The important thing was the acceptance of two basic concepts: that the government has the right to tell insurance companies and health care providers what to do, and that everybody must be covered by health insurance including the poor (ie, black) people.
This whole experience will toughen the Democrats immeasurably -- they have been called names and screamed at by idiots, and survived -- there's nothing like shared experience in the trenches to make people realise they must either hang together or they will hang separately.

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Huskies are the champions 


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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Huskies advance to the final 

U of S Huskies defeat Carlton and will go to the CIS final. Yay, dogs!


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Friday, March 19, 2010

Huskies make the Final Four 



U of S Huskies win quarter final and on to the semis tomorrow vs. Carleton. Go Huskies!


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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gold 

Due to this darn flu and a few complications, I haven't been able to follow the paralympics the way I did the Olympics, but here are some photos.
Lauren Woolstencroft wins Canadian gold:


Canada's Greg Westlake celebrates after scoring against Sweden:


Irek Zaripov of Russia celebrates after winning gold during the Men's 2.4km Pursuit Sitting Biathlon:

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What is the matter in Quebec? 

The Quebec Immigration minister tells Muslim women:
If you want to integrate into Quebec society, here are our values.
Mean-spirited, petty, divisive, cruel, anti-women -- yeah, I'm sure people can hardly wait to move to Quebec these days to share values like those.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Great line of the day 

Steve V notes that four out of five Albertans hated Harper's idea about changing the words of the national anthem:
Nice one chess master. Renaming Calgary International Airport to 'Trudeau Rocked' International would have garnered more popular support.

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It is to laugh 

What a ridiculous way to write a school curriculum.
And if you asked these Americans which country was the most advanced in the world, they would say "ours". Because that is what their teachers have been told to teach them.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Flu 

Sorry for the lack of posts -- I've had a horrible flu since Wednesday and finally starting to feel human again tonight, sort of anyway.
More soon.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Good news 

One more reason to hope that health care reform in the States is approved.

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Other shoe 

Last week Atrios made this perceptive observation
I'm really not sure how we got from we don't torture, to that torture stuff we do isn't torture, to anyone who opposes torture hates America. Apparently that's where we are.
I have no doubt that a similar pushback on Canada's Afghanistan outrage will be coming as soon as the Cons can move the dialog from defense to offense. I think we're already seeing the beginning of it when Harper implies that continued questions from the Liberals and NDP on what the Cons knew about prisoner toture is acutally an attack on the public service.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Anonymous sources 

Glennzilla has a great post about anonymity in journalism and why it is bad journalism. Here's the paragraph which should be framed and posted on every newsroom's wall:
In very limited circumstances, anonymity is valuable and justified (e.g., when someone is risking something substantial to expose concealed wrongdoing of serious public interest). But promiscuous, unjustified anonymity -- which pervades the establishment press -- is the linchpin of most bad, credibility-destroying reporting. It enables government officials and others to lie to the public with impunity or manipulate them with propaganda, using eager reporters as both their megaphone and shield. It is the weapon of choice for reporters eager to serve as loyal message-carriers and royal court gossip columnists. It preserves and bolsters the culture of secrecy that dominates Washington -- exactly the opposite of what a real journalist, by definition, would seek to accomplish . . . . In sum, petty or otherwise unjustified uses of anonymity is the hallmark of the power-worshiping, dishonest, unreliable reporter . . . . As Izzy Stone put it about the Vietnam War: "The process of brain-washing the public starts with off-the-record briefings for newspapermen. . . ."

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Asteroid-denial 

So now those scientist guys think an asteroid killed the dinosaurs.
But what do they know anyway?
'Cause some guy sent some other guy an email or something, so of course that proves Gary Larson is right after all:

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Another great week for the Cons 

First they are embarrased into dropping the national anthem pander
And we find out they have now formented an international scandal over their ham-fisted decision-making at the Rights & Democracy. (A story Dawg has been doing a brilliant job in covering, by the way.)
Finally we find out that Finance Minister Flaherty spent $9,000 on a government jet -- one way -- so he can go to London, Ontario for a photo op in Tim Hortons to tell Canadians we have to tighten our belts.
And his office piously tells reporters that of course Flaherty is taking an $800 commercial flight back to Ottawa -- while apparently the jet flies back, for another $9,000, empty.
Gee, Jim, please don't try to save us any more money, we can't afford it.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Surprise! 

All of a sudden, we find out Saskatchewan owes the potash companies $200 million dollars.
The Jurist concludes thst Saskatchewan Finance Minister Rob Gantefoer is either lying or incompetent.
I vote for all of the above.
And I'll bet Wall is rueing the day he abandoned the resource equalization lawsuit.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Caught 

How stupid does Citizenship and Immigration minister Jason Kenney think Canadians are?
Mr. Kenney told the group that gay rights had been "overlooked" when the [citizenship]guide was being prepared. . . .
Liar

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Canadian flag bearer 

The huge flag that the Canadian team carried around after their win on Sunday belonged to a superfan from Regina Dave Ash


“I was stunned. We'd just won the gold medal, and they used my flag as a symbol of what they'd won,” said the 55-year-old Regina tour operator. “It was incredible.”
Thirty years ago Ash also invented the Rider's mascot, Gainer the Gopher.


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Monday, March 01, 2010

Crosby's Wikipedia entry hacked by bears 

TBogg supplies this screen shot of Crosby's Wikipedia entry from Sunday afternoon.
It describes his winning goal and then someone added:
Then a pack of wild bears stormed onto the ice and ripped him apart.
but the editors have taken it out -- party poopers!


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Some memories of Vancouver 2010 


Triumph.


Despair.


Cheering.


Protest.


Argyle.


Disaster.


Uppity.


Smart.


And I want one of those flying moose.

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