Saturday, April 30, 2005

I heart blogs

One of the greatest things about blogs is how easy it is now to keep up with my own personal breaking news. No, I don't mean CNN's red banners -- I'm talking about the stuff that is important to me, the latest news about stories I am interested in. This changes week to week, of course, but lately these are the blogs I check frequently, usually daily:
To keep up with the Arar case I rely on POGGE, and for general Canadian news, Blagh and Gazetteer.
For the latest on the progress of the Bolton nomination I check Steve Clemons' Washington Note
For the latest on Iraq, is comprehensive -- this site is usually updated by mid-evening each day. And for indepth on Iraq politics, Juan Cole.
For the latest on the Microsoft anti-gay policy switch, I use AMERICAblog
For the most recent news about the republican attempt to end social security: Talking Points Memo
To keep up to date on hate crimes and militias and racist organizations, I use Orcinus.
For general all-round great commentary, the choices are legion -- Frog, Liberal Oasis, Eschaton, Kos, Hullabaloo, Billmon, Blogging of the President, Gilliard, All Spin, Seeing the Forest . . .

Good, bad, ugly

Liberals strenghten in Ontario.

By Brian Gable of the Globe and Mail


The so-called "last helicopter" out of Vietnam.

Just one damn thing after another

Pete's comment in my Gore post speculates on another historical accident -- the near-election of Henry Clay as President in 1844, instead of James Polk, meaning there would likely have been no Mexican American war, possibly no Civil War, etc etc.
This brings up the whole fascinating discussion of Alternative History. Someone once described history as "just one damn thing after another". Once we all get over the childish belief that god or the pope or the telephone company is actually running things and therefore everything that happens is by fate or plan, then we can realize that the specific sequence of things we call history was not inevitable at all. And then we can analyze the extent to which our history was either accidental or purposeful, for the clues it may provide as to how our future can be directed.
For example, it could be argued that Churchill being PM of Britain during WWII was a happy accident of history, resulting from the resignation of King Edward VIII in 1936, who, if he had been king in 1939, might well have been stubborn enough to pick Lord Halifax to form a government instead of Churchill (even King George wanted Halifax but was willing to be disuaded by Chamberlain).
Then again, however, an argument for purposeful direction could also be made, that because Churchill continued to serve in the House of Commons throughout the 20s and 30s, when lesser men might well have quit politics after such a disasterous term as First Lord of the Admiralty during WWI, so therefore Churchill put himself in the right place at the right time to become PM when England needed him most.
When historians look at the first quarter of the 21st Century, I wonder what will be considered an accident, and what might turn out to be purposeful direction.
The main theme, I think, will be the analysis of the decline and fall of the United States as the world's economic and political leader. Whether this will be ascribed to the disasterous outcome of the historical accident of 911 or to the disasterous outcome of the lurking neocons who waiting to seize on such an opportunity to start unwinnable wars will depend, I suppose, on whether it is the Chinese or the Europeans who will be writing this story. History, of course, is always written by the winners.

The best President they never had

Robert Stanfield was often described as the best prime minister Canada never had.
Well, I think its fairly clear that the United States also has a near-miss best president. There have been lots of losing presidential candidates in the US over the last 50 years, from Hubert Humphery to Bob Dole. But the one that stands head and shoulders above the rest, the one they missed by a single vote, was Al Gore.
His recent speech, An American Heresy, just demonstrates again how much they missed. Gore has a rare political ability to frame issues in a way the media and the public accept without even recognizing who is doing them this service -- the politics of fear speech, the global warming speech, the ideological Bushspeech. Now, he is doing it again with the heresy speech:
. . . if the justices who formed the majority in Bush v. Gore had not only all been nominated to the Court by a Republican president, but had also been confirmed by only Republican Senators in party-line votes, America would not have accepted that court's decision. Moreover, if the confirmation of those justices in the majority had been forced through by running roughshod over 200 years of Senate precedents and engineered by a crass partisan decision on a narrow party line vote to break the Senate's rules of procedure—then no speech imaginable could have calmed the passions aroused in our country. As Aristotle once said of virtue, respect for the rule of law is "one thing." It is indivisible. And so long as it remains indivisible, so will our country. But if either major political party is ever so beguiled by a lust for power that it abandons this unifying principle, then the fabric of our democracy will be torn. The survival of freedom depends upon the rule of law. The rule of law depends, in turn, upon the respect each generation of Americans has for the integrity with which our laws are written, interpreted and enforced.
Yes, Al, that's exactly what is at stake.

Great moments in Canadian blogging

RossK points us to this great post on a blog I had not read before called Inside the Hotdog Factory CEO stands for Cheat Every One. Hotdog's Matt St. Amand writes: "My question is -- when C.E.O.s have finally succeeded in laying off the entire North American economy, forcing everyone to become a McJob holding Wal-Mart wage slave, who the fuck will be able to afford your products? Are former Ford employees going to buy Fords? Are Hewlett-Packard employees who have been screwed around by HP going to buy HP products? Are people with no jobs, or poverty-level waged jobs, going to be able to afford anything? Maybe when that time comes, the corporations will begin importing consumers. C.E.O.s -- may you pierce a testicle sitting on your golden billfolds."
And when you have finished this one, click back to Ross to read "When Wingnuttery Knocks" about the Minutemen who are going to be protecting Amerca's northern border from the poutine-crazed Canadians. Ross says "bring 'em on! . . .we could take care of these Minutemaid Men in about, well, 15 minutes, by massing our own homegrown, hockey stick-assisted V-group within spitting distance of the line on our side of the border in southern Manitoba. We could call it 'The McSorely Project', fronted by the man himself, with chief lieutenants Dave Semenko and Todd Bertuzzi. Of course, the head of the propaganda unit will be a guy Bill O'Reilly will go absolutely bonkers over, Dave 'Flapping Gums' Williams."

Friday, April 29, 2005

If it limps like a duck . . .

"Bush didn't become a nobody overnight last night. But he did become a smaller, less imposing figure, with a weaker grasp on the nation's political agenda."
LiberalOasis sums up the Bush press conference last night.
I didn't watch it, because I just cannot stand the smug drawl he uses to state the bleedin' obvious -- like, Listen up, yu-all jest can't expect the sky to turn red right away, because its blue (heh-heh) but Ah beleeve red is on th' march.
(I don't know how Jimbobby does it -- I just can't write with a drawl!)
But apparently he didn't say much of anything except he has to kill social secutiry to save it, and isn't it too bad that gas prices are high. I did hear some admiring commentator talking about how courageous he was to admit that he couldn't do anything about that and really, its all Clinton's fault.
Funny, I don't think the public will be too impressed.

Ah ha!

Just as I suspected: Poll puts Liberals in front: Martin's wait-for-Gomery campaign appears to strike a chord with voters
The story says the liberals are coming back because people support Martin's idea of a January election. Well, yes.
But I also think the pollsters are underrating the positive impact of the Liberal/NDP alliance (which, between them, got 52 per cent of the vote last year), and the anger at Harpers 'deal with the devil' insult. Far down in the story comes this sentence "Liberal supporters are twice as likely to switch to the NDP as to the Conservatives, the poll found."
If Harper lets loose with a few more religious-toned insults to both the NDP and the Liberals, he won't pick up anybody this time around.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Missing the chance

Anglican bishops call moratorium on same-sex blessings
This is sad news -- the Canadian Anglican bishops have missed an opportunity for leadership.
And of course, while slapping gay people in the face, they also include the meaningless pat on the back -- the article ends with a sentence about how the bishops "affirmed the place of gays and lesbians in the church, offering thanks for their contribution to its life and witness."
Oh really -- how Christian of them.
The bishops have made it very clear that the place of gays in the Anglican church is out in the hallway, where they are welcome to put a few dollars into the collection plate but cannot actually come into the santuary and sit with all the "real" Anglicans.

What the people think

Voices: PM's deal with the NDP
Here's the Toronto Star article quoting letters about the Liberal/NDP deal -- and Harper had better watch his mouth and quell the rhetoric, because the public is not amused:
"Only last week Stephen Harper was complaining that the minority government was behaving like it was a majority. Now that they are behaving like a minority - taking the policies of the other parties on board, Harper complains its a disgrace and a "deal with the devil". He can't have it both ways, and to call the NDP the Devil is simply inappropriate behaviour for any politician who thinks he's Prime Minister material. "
"Stephan Harper threatens to bring down the government over their deal with the NDP. The arrogance of the man is breathtaking."
". . . if the Conservatives think that a very large proportion of the Canadian voting public are devils, then it sounds like they're the ones with the problem.
"I didn't realize the "devil" was the working class, students, and the environment. "
"This deal is political genius on behalf of Layton and Martin. When Harper pulls the plug, he will effectively begin the campaign as the champion of corporate tax breaks."
"I voted NDP . . . Why would I . . . find it a bad thing for Layton to gain a little ground?"
and finally, this one:
"Having spent the past four months in the USA, I would elect the devil incarnate before I would risk letting a group of religious extremists, market economy fanatics, gun nuts, and warmongers take over in Ottawa."

I read the news today oh boy

Here's a batch of recent "news" stories from Iraq which I simply do not believe:
Iraq Leader Says Cabinet Is Ready After Long Delay - well, almost, maybe. Juan Cole said that if the interim government in Iraq actually gives up power to an elected government, then democracy will have happened in Iraq in spite of all the problems. Well, it hasn't happened yet.
UPDATE -- it just did -- hooray!
Politics threaten end of road for Iraq's shock troops - oh, sure, they're going to send 12,000 Iraqi troops home because they aren't Shiites. Yeah, and they'll go quietly, too, I'm sure
Official: Zarqawi Eluded U.S. in Feb. Raid -- about every six months, there's another news story about how they almost got him this time.
Myers: Insurgency same as year ago - what, but I thought things were so much better? Actually, of course, it is worse -- the resistance is now mounting substantial attacks directly on American bases.
Pentagon: Soldiers not at fault in Italian's death - the Italians won't forgive and forget this one.
Top Army Officers Are Cleared in Abuse Cases -- and in relation to this last one, Phil Carter writes in Intel Dump:

Based on the evidence contained in the Taguba report, Schlesinger report, Fay-Jones report, and the Church report, as well as the volume of documents obtained by the ACLU's FOIA litigation, I believe there to be sufficient evidence . . .that these senior officers committed criminal failures of leadership. One of the worst scandals in American military history happened on their watch, under their direction, at least partly due to conditions under their control and yet, the highest-ranking individual to see prosecution so far for these abuses is a Staff Sergeant. . . . In wartime, the military must send a better message to the troops, that it will hold their leaders accountable for everything their units do or fail to do.

Thanks to Today in Iraq for most of these links.

Donald, where's your troosers?

In Michelle Malkin is making sense, the Poorman raises the veil on a risky immigration problem for America, one that could affect the very future of both Canada and the United States. No more skirting the issue -- the root of the problem is not those hairy-chested Mexicans, says Poorman. No, its much more low-down than that -- "I could write whole treatises on how these degenerate potato-people are working ceaselessly to take over America, under the upturned noses of our open borders capitulationist and stability fetishist elites"
And here's their hidden "agenda", revealed at last:

Let the wind blow high and the wind blow low
Through the streets in my kilt I go
All the lassies cry, "Hello!
Donald, where's your troosers?"

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Well, personally, I'll be in no position to care

Cemetery to Begin Vertical Burials: "Some people will think it's great but other people might prefer a traditional burial."

Hey, Frogsdong --

Have you seen this?Exploding toads in a Hamburg pond baffle scientists
Well, all I can conclude is that maybe NOW we know what happened to the Weapons of Mass Destruction.

52% to 42%

Harper vows to topple Liberals: This story quotes Harper as saying "I will be asking our caucus to put this government out of its misery at the earliest possible opportunity" and it says Harper "reserved an especially aggressive attack for Layton's willingness to prop up the government in exchange for a revised budget that would divert billions of dollars in tax cuts into social programs such as child care and the environment. The NDP, he suggested, had prostituted its values . . ." In desribing the budget deal, Harper is quoted as saying "What the Liberals don't steal, the NDP gets to spend."
I think Harper needs to remember one thing before he lets rip with any more heated hyperbole -- less than a year ago, the Liberals and the NDP between them got 52 per cent of the Canadian vote, while the Conservatives and the Bloc together got 42 per cent.

That's the way a minority government governs

The Globe and Mail: Harper blasts NDP-Liberal deal
The Globe is editorializing its outrage because Martin gave up the corporate tax cuts to sign the budget deal with Layton.
What part of "minority government" doesn't the Globe understand?
Boys, those tax cuts were toast anyway -- and this was Harper's choice, not Martins. Since Martin could no longer count on Harper to pass the budget, he had to turn to Layton.
At least Martin saved the rest of it -- the extra money for cities and the military. And I like the changes that Layton made. At least our freeway overpass construction won't have to come to a grinding halt because the budget didn't get approved.
And now Martin has said these corporate tax cuts will be coming to the Commons anyway, in a separate bill -- which Harper can vote against, if he wants. So if he wants to defeat the government, he'll still have his chance.
Now Harper says he's "flabbergasted". In his eagerness to rush to the polls, he fails to comprehend is that a majority of Canadians WANT THE BUDGET TO PASS and DO NOT WANT AN ELECTION NOW.
So Martin is just trying to do what Canadians want.
You didn't think Martin was this tricky, did you?

What do they think they have to prove?

How stupid is the Bush administration? Having nominated a yahoo like John Bolton to the UN, now Bush and Cheney are allowing his confirmation to turn into a do-or-die moment for their whole administration -- Senate Panel Is Widening Its Review on Nominee to U.N.
Has anyone else noticed that the Bush administration and the UN are like the Sherrif of Nottingham in a swordfight with Robin Hood? The US says 'Touche, you bandit -- I've got you on the run now!' and the UN replies 'You spoke too soon, Sherrif. Watch me turn the tables on you!'
The Bush administration seems to keep thinking it has the UN on the ropes, when actually it is US influence which is weakening around the world. The US thought the Security Council would be broken when it went to war against Iraq without a second resolution, and then later they had to get a resolution before they could export Iraq's oil. They thought they could get rid of ElBaradei at the IAEA, and Kofi Annan over the oil-for-food investigation, but the rest of the world didn't get behind them. The next battle will be over the continued refusal of the Security Council to pass a resolution sanctioning Iran's nuclear ambitions, because the Council doesn't want to give the US another excuse to start a war. Yes, I'm sure that John Bolton will be able to convince them!

Torture is on the march

Human Rights Watch has released a new summary about how the Bush Administration is torturing people not just in Iraq and Guantanamo, but around the globeU.S.: Abu Ghraib Only the "Tip of the Iceberg"
In fact, one could say that torture is on the march. This is the legacy that the world will remember about the Bush administration.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Do what we say, not what we do

US admits Iraq insurgency undiminished:
"Mr Rumsfeld reiterated warnings that efforts to develop Iraqi security forces could be set back if Iraq's new leaders make changes based not on competence but political considerations. "
Yeah -- and he oughta know!

Test your gag reflex

I just finished watching Torture: The Guantanamo Guidebook on our History channel.
I wonder if there is an American network which would dare to broadcast this show.
It made me sick.
This show was one of a series produced by Britain's Channel 4. It showed seven British volunteers who tried to withstand 48 hours with ex-Army interrogators giving them the kind of treatment that the hundreds of prisoners at Guantanamo have been subjected to for the last three years.
Four of the "prisoners" actually lasted for the full two days. One older man, 49 years old, was pulled out after 10 hours by a doctor because his body temperature was dropping too low. Two others asked to get out early -- they just couldn't stand it.
Here is what happened to them:
At the beginning of the show, when the volunteers showed up at the studio thinking they were just supposed to fill out some forms, the Army people grabbed them, hooded, stipped and shackled them, and took them to the cells. The Army interrogators had been told that one of the prisoners actually did have some terrorist connections, and their goal was to find out which one it was. So they were pretty motivated.
The "officially approved" tortures they used were all of these --
Environmental manipulation: Subjecting prisoners to extremes of hot and cold.
Sensory deprivation: Depriving prisoners of both sight and hearing, for example, by hooding combined with white noise.
Sleep adjustment: Repeatedly interrupting a prisoner’s sleep, while allowing them inadequate sleep overall.
Stress positions: Position which a prisoner is ordered to maintain, causing discomfort or pain without physical contact.
Forced grooming: Forcible shaving. Deeply humiliating for some Muslims. (in the show, they shaved the hair from a non-Muslim "prisoner", but with the Muslim "prisoners" watching)
Pride and ego down: Label for techniques used to undermine prisoners’ self-esteem and dignity.
They did not use "waterboarding" (in which the victim is smothered with a wet cloth, creating the sensation of drowning) nor "TheVietnam" (in which electrodes (real or fake) are attached to the victim's body.)
But seeing what they did do made me sick. Not only was it upsetting to watch these men being treated this way, it was the look of despair in their eyes that was most disturbing. Its not surprising that the real Guantanamo prisoners have attempted suicide in substantial numbers.
Or, at least, it used to be called suicide.
There is a frighteningly Orwellian approach to language here. I've been reading recently about how the Bush administration is now using the term "constitutional option" instead of "nuclear option" to describe the Republican attempt to end the judicial fillibuster, just like they tried to change the term "private" accounts to "personal" accounts to describe Bush's attempt to destroy Social Security. And I was thinking that all this arguing over terminology wasn't really very important.
But as this show pointed out, the Pentagon has a new name for it when a prisoner attempts suicide. It is now called "manipulative self-injurious behaviour". And after they started using this terminology, they could report that the number of "suicide" attempts had declined substantially.
Is there a euphemism for "totally disgusting"?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Only semi-tough

Do you know what's really stupid about the Bolton nomination? Its the idea that Bolton "has a tough-talking style that will help achieve needed reforms at the United Nations."
Oh, yes, those wimps at the UN will sure be intimidated by this guy.
Like, the ambassadors from China and Russia and France and Britain and the rest of the Security Council will say "how high" when a disrespectful, uncultured, lamebrain like Bolton says "jump" -- or else, I guess, he'll chase them through the halls like a madman and shove threatening letters under their doors.

This explains it

I guess this type of thing may explain why Microsoft pulled its support from Washington State's gay rights bill: Any Kerry Supporters On The Line? The Bush Administration punishes some Democrat backers
Absolutely everything with these guys seems to be "you're either for us or against us". Everything is political -- they seem to be incapable of seeing anything at all in non-partisan terms. And they always have to win.
So I wonder what kind of pressure was put on Microsoft to make sure they would not support a gay rights bill?
Nice little company you've got here, Billy-boy. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it. You wouldn't want the Justice department anti-trust action to continue would you?
And what scares me is this -- if Harper and his boys get in, will they adopt the same attitudes? We already have the same self-pitying tone along with manufactured conspiracies and scandals.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Mad as hell

Wow -- the Washington Post declares war against the Christian Right. Colbert King: Hijacking Christianity . . .:
Americans of faith -- and those lacking one -- ought to vigorously resist attempts by power-hungry zealots to impose their religious views on the nation. That means standing up to them at every turn. It means challenging them when they say -- of Americans who support a woman's right to choose; the right of two adults to enter into a loving, committed, state-sanctioned, monogamous relationship; the right to pursue science in support of life; the right of the aggrieved to launch aggressive assaults against racism, sexism and homophobia -- that they are not legitimate members of the flock. Where do those on the religious right get off thinking they have the right to decide who is in and who is out? Who appointed them sole promoters and defenders of the faith? What makes them think they are more holy and righteous than the rest of us? They are not now and never will be the final arbiters of Christian beliefs and values. They warrant as much deference as religious leaders as do members of the Ku Klux Klan, who also marched under the cross. They should be resisted, not pandered to by politicians . . . if Frist shows up on TV and passes on the opportunity to place his party on the side of tolerance and goodwill, then his performance will be Exhibit A in the case to be made against his presidential quest. The Bergen Record in Hackensack, N.J., editorialized that the attempt by the Christian right to dominate all three branches of government "has to frighten anyone who is not a Christian conservative. It should frighten us all." Baloney. It should make us mad. Fighting mad.

Good, bad, ugly

Good: Here's Cardow's take on why we support the Liberals:

Bad: Microsoft: Gutless surrenders rarely work Gilliard writes "nothing you give them will be enough . . . [Pastor Hutcherson]is going to run around the country and talk about how Microsoft is his bitch. How they hop to his demands. MS thought they were buying peace, but they were only creating a monster on their doorstep. Once they see Microsoft back down once, they expect backdowns to continue."
Ugly: Bolton Finds U.N. Nomination in Jeopardy Bolton broke the Golden Rule of Bureaucracy -- be nice to the people you meet on the way up, because you're going to see them again on the way down.

Sticking with the Liberals

So My Blahg is going for the NDP this time.
Well, I don't blame you, Robert, but I am afraid that more NDP means fewer Liberals, and then Harper sneaks up the middle -- its the classic Canadian conundrum. So I think I am sticking with the liberals.
I feel like I am the only person in the country who thinks this way, but personally I'm not outraged, shocked and appalled about corruption in the Chretien liberals -- just like, 15 years ago, I wasn't particularly upset about the supposed corruption of the Mulroney conservatives. More important, I think, are their policies and legislation.
Economically and socially, I think Canada is better off now with Martin's liberals than with Harper's non-progressive conservatives.
The ad agencies and the pollsters and the public relations advisors and the management consultants -- and, now, the IT consultants -- have to get what they can from governments while the going is good, because as soon as the other guys get in, they're out on their ear. It was ever thus. Its a boondoggle, it always has been and it always will be. With these types of companies, there is no real difference between them anyway. So when the decision is made about who gets the contract, it is based on who your friends are -- what politician wouldn't rather hire their friends than their enemies.
Eventually, of course, with friends like these they find they don't need enemies -- the wallowing in the public trough gets a little too blatant and noisy and sloppy and then its Old Bums Exit There, New Bums Enter Here.
But the decisions which have the most impact on me and on Canada have nothing to do with which ad agency was overpaid in 1985 or 1995 or 2005. The important stuff is Mulroney's free trade agreements. And Chretien's decision to keep us out of Iraq. And Martin's funding for cities and reduction of health care waiting lists and support for gay marriage and decriminalization of marijuana and implementation of the Kyoto accord.
This is the stuff that will be important for me and mine in the future. So I'm sticking with Martin for now.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Judge not . . .

Keep Letting the Wingnuts set your agenda Ah, Grasshopper, it is all happening just as I thought it might. . .
If you had asked a hundred average Americans two months ago whether the Republicans should enact the nuclear option to end the judicial filibuster, you would have got "huhh?" from 70 of them, and "so what?" from the rest. The term "nuclear option" was about as well known as the infield fly rule.
So two months ago, the Republicans could have dumped the Senate fillibuster without any concern from more than a few of those average Americans -- actually, there would have been more objection to a change to the infield fly rule than to the judicial fillibuster!
Then came Shiavo.
And Mr. and Mrs. Average American woke up -- they saw just how important it is to have good judges. And they saw just how unlikely it is that the judges appointed by those crazy wingnut Republicans would actually BE good judges.
So now, most of those hundred average Americans have learned about the nuclear option. And at least 51 per cent have decided they do NOT support it. Making it much more likely that at least a handful of Republican senators will vote against it. So maybe, just maybe, the judicial fillibuster can be saved -- and it won't matter how many bases are occupied, either . . .

"Parliament Boy"

Being the real news junkie that I am, always right on top of everything that's going on, naturally I didn't get home from work soon enough to actually see Layton's remarks, or Duceppe's either. I only heard most of Martin's address, and some of Harper's response, on the radio.
It won't stop me from blogging about it, of course.
I liked what Martin had to say tonight. You can discount my opinion if you want, because in general I like Paul Martin. But I thought the end of his speech hit a good tone, humble yet combative:
". . . there are people who think I was wrong to call this inquiry, wrong to expose my government to the political cost of the scrutiny that has ensued. They warn we will pay a price in the next election. And perhaps we will. But I trust your judgment. And I will not dishonour this office by trying to conceal or diminish such offensive wrongdoing. I have too much respect for this place. When I was young, I practically lived here in the Parliament Buildings. My father was a cabinet minister in four Liberal governments. He taught me that those who serve in public office have a duty to protect the integrity of government. My pledge to you tonight is that I will live up to that ideal. I went into public life because I believe in the good that government can do. And I will do my all as prime minister to make sure that your government is worthy of your respect. The final judgment on whether I have done that will be yours."
I particularly liked the image of the little boy scampering around those gilded Ottawa halls, learning integrity at his daddy's knee . . . hey, if Chretien can make himself out to be the little guy from Shawinigan, then maybe Martin can adopt the meme of "Oh, Parliament Boy with cheek of tan . . . blessings on thee, little man".
It might work.
It all depends on whether the public really wants another election right now, or not.
It appears that both Harper and the Bloc are champing at the bit. But if the public doesn't want an election anyway, then if Harper uses the Bloc to bring down the govermment, it creates the impression that the Conservatives are so desperate and so unprincipled they will ally with separatists just to grab power. So Harper really, really needs Layton to vote non-confidence as well.
But the tone of Layton's remarks indicated he is not in any big hurry to fight another campaign right now. And the public may be grateful to him for not forcing an election. So if Layton becomes the government's saviour over the next month, this could be Layton's big chance to shuck his Toronto-alderman-not-ready-for-prime-time image and finally demonstrate to the country that he IS a leader.
POGGE thought Layton's speech was a winner, as did several other bloggers he polled. Reading what Layton said, I thought his remarks came off as very 'federal' and responsible, showing political leadership for a country which needs it pretty badly.
And I must refer to a great post from My Blahg: Preview of a Conservative Government -- oooh, pretty chilling.

One is the loneliest number . . .

Gingrich agrees to retract statement
Gingrich told Fox News on Tuesday "Far more of the 9-11 terrorists came across from Canada than from Mexico."
Now, none of the 911 terrorists snuck into the US from either Canada OR Mexico -- nope, they flew in from Europe and the Far East and were officially admitted on US visas through US airports.
But there was ONE terrorist two years earlier who DID try to sneak into the States from Canada. Ahmed Ressam was the terrorist that Clinton and Richard Clarke caught before he could blow up the Los Angeles airport . And as far as I know there have been no terrorists at all who have tried to sneak into the States from Mexico.
So I suppose, a person could say there actually have been "more" terrorists trying to sneak into the US from Canada -- one, as compared to none.
But listen to this -- Gingrich's spokesman said Gingrich made the slander about Canada because "That's become accepted conventional wisdom here."
Now, even I read the 911 commission report and know where those terrorists came from. So how stupid is it that Newt Gingrich, who pretends to be a knowledgeable politician and still gives speeches about US foreign policy, actually hasn't bothered to learn about the actual events of the 911 attacks.
But I'm glad that Frank McKenna took him on, in a pleasantly Canadian way.
And on the Canadian side, I hope the media doesn't write more agenda-driven scare stories, and political trash talk stories about our border security, which are why Americans have such a poor impression of Canada in the first place.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Why did he jump off the ledge?

RossK from the Gazetteer posts a comment on Digby's blog in response to his Ball Gag post about Voinovich's shot heard round the world yesterday.
Ross says ". . . help me, a poor in-the-dark Canuckistani out, please. Why'd he step off the ledge?"
That's an interesting question.
When Lieberman goes on the Sunday talk shows saying how great Bush and the Republicans are and how well everything is going in Iraq, the progressive bloggers do trash him. But they're not raising money to run ads about how disloyal he is, and saying things about how he ". . . has become a traitor to the . . . party."
Maybe Digby suggests an explanation when he says "It must be awfully uncomfortable being told that either you become a submissive slave to the right wing or you are a traitor."
But I also wonder if this may be the thin edge of the wedge, that the Senate Republicans are finally saying to the Bush boys -- ENOUGH! We already cashed in our chips with the democrats just to get Gonazles and Rice through by the skin of their teeth, not to mention how stupid we looked after Shiavo. Stop jerking us around by making these stupid nominations for unqualified idiots like Bolton and those seven pathetically-bad judges, and then expecting us to turn the Senate inside out just so you bully boys can get your own way on everything. We have to live here, you know, long after you are gone so just BACK OFF!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Yes, there is still time

The Washington Note on the Nelson Report
Someone named Chris Nelson writes something named The Nelson Report every so often -- no link available because apparently it's not online.
This is what he had to say on Monday, as quoted in The Washington Note, as linked on Liberal Oasis:

If the fight over John Bolton's UN nomination were just about John Bolton, he'd be history already. But this isn't about Bolton, it's about the exercise of power . . . We are at the point now where the Republican Leadership refuses to allow the possibility of a loss on anything, regardless of the merits. This renders 'debate' meaningless, since nothing said actually matters, so truth is irrelevant . . . Oppose something the President wants, and you aren't just wrong, you are betraying the Party. The underlying message is that you are also offending a very particular definition of God. The sad, sorry Bolton/DeLay spectacles are about total war, the kill-the-prisoners exercise of power that national US politics has become since the 2000 election. If it were merely about power, it wouldn't be so terrifying. Washington is used to that. . .it's what we exist for. But the fear, the self-loathing, the pathetic, cowardly, sniveling, excuse-making drivel from such 'leaders' as Lugar, Hagel, Chafee, the entire House Republican Leadership under DeLay. . . is about something far more dangerous to the Republic than mere political power. What we are seeing is a fight for the political soul of the nation. We've had these before, in the existential sense . . . in my political lifetime, the civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement, the women's rights versus, to a certain extent, the right to life movement. But this time it's totally and completely a fight about God . . . specifically, whether God is going to rule in the United States. The Constitution says that would be illegal, and any serious expert can tell you that not only were the Founders liberal in their interpretation of the Deity, but they intentionally enshrined a purely secular civic government, including the courts. They didn't think that Jesus had an official plan for us, much less did they think that politicians who defined their duties in secular terms were defying the word of God. Tom Delay manifestly believes this, and it sounds like any number of Senate Republicans either agree, or lack the imagination or moral courage to disagree . . . why else would some endorse threats against Republican-appointed judges who dare to interpret the law in secular terms? This is what the Bolton fight is really about: you can't dump him, because that lets the Democrats win on both the facts and principle. . .fatal notions to a desire to pack the courts with religious and secular policy extremists.
Why else would there be the constant drumbeat of attacks on the "liberal media", except to undermine public trust in the Constitutionally provided mediator between the politicians and the people?
The Founders knew how to protect what they intended; this crowd has figured out how to undermine the very rule of law in the United States. Listen to what DeLay is arguing . . . that his excesses have nothing to do with his "persecution", interesting choice of word, by the Democrats and their "liberal press allies". If a majority of Congressional Republicans don't, in their hearts, see the hypocrisy of all this, the Republic is doomed.
The real story behind Bolton and DeLay is obvious, to anyone not already seduced by the dark side.
Connect the dots. There's still time.

And, as it turned out today, there actually was still time.
It was the Senator from Ohio, who was discounted or ignored in all the recent progressive blogosphere calculation of which Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee might or could or would or should vote against the Bolton nomination.
About two hours into the Senate committee meeting, it seemed inevitable that the vote would be held to move Bolton's nomination to the Senate floor.
The Democrats were magnificent -- Boxer, Kerry, Obama, Biden, Dodd arguing that there were just too many questions remaining about Bolton's kiss-up, kick-down serial abuser behaviour. But a visibly uncomfortable chairman Lugar was pushing to have a vote, and quickly, before anything else negative about Bolton could be released -- apparently some possibly dangerous document was going to be released at 5 pm, and Lugar's marching orders were to get the vote done before then. Chafee was going to vote in favour; Hagal was going to vote in favour. It seemed like a done deal.
I happened to be watching the CSPAN live feed when, from the corner, Republican Senator Voinovich began to speak. Quietly he said "...I wasn't present during the hearing on John Bolton ... I've heard enough today that I don't feel comfortable about voting for Mr. Bolton."
It was stunning.
Suddenly, what had been an 10-8 vote became a 9-9 vote. Half an hour later, a visibly relieved chairman Lugar postponed the vote three weeks.
That will likely kill the momentum for this appalling nomination -- in fact, the mo is likely starting to go the other way. Once again, as with Iraq, and the preemptive war doctrine, and Guantanamo, and Social Security, and the Guest Worker idea, and the Mars mission, the realization is sinking in that Emperor Bush has no clothes. As long as everyone believes in how clever the Bush administration is, they can appear invincible. But its a shallow, brittle pose which, when it cracks, shows nothing of substance beneath.
This is not like the Kerik nomination, which died because of problems in his personal life and previous jobs.
In the Bolton case, the problems are in his work life, and the jobs he has done for the Bush administration. So if this one does down, it says that people are starting not to like how the Bush administration operates.
And maybe this will kill the so-called nuclear option, too.


Air Force Cadets See Religious Harassment If Americans want to see what it will be like for them once the theocrats take over the country, here's what is happening in the Air Force Academy (via Atrios)

There have been 55 complaints of religious discrimination at the academy in the past four years, including cases in which a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet. . . "It is inextricably intertwined in every aspect of the academy,'' said Mikey Weinstein of Albuquerque, N.M., a 1977 graduate who has sent two sons to the school. He said the younger, Curtis, has been called a ''filthy Jew'' many times . . . The board chairman, former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, warned Rosa that changing things could prove complicated. He said evangelical Christians ''do not check their religion at the door.'' . . . Two of the nation's most influential evangelical Christian groups, Focus on the Family and New Life Church, are headquartered in nearby Colorado Springs. Tom Minnery, an official at Focus on the Family, disputed claims that evangelical Christians are pushing an agenda at the academy, and complained that ''there is an anti-Christian bigotry developing'' at the school.

So they're had more than one complaint about discrimination every month for four years. And now people are being told how hard it will be to stop this, and being accused of anti-Christian bigotry for even trying.
Sounds like another example of Mafia-style bullying -- 'Nice little air force you've got here. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it.'

Living by the sword

Harper says ploy will doom Liberals
Well, maybe.
But its hard to see how.
Basically, Martin's flim flam with the so-called "opposition days" scheduling means that the Conservatives won't get a chance to move a non-confidence motion until June, resulting in a midsummer election which the whole country would hate. And we would blame the Conservatives.
Or they could vote non-confidence against the budget, but this would mean the budget everybody liked wouldn't come into effect. And we would blame the Conservatives.
According to the polls last week, a majority of Canadians don't want a spring vote anyway, so it doesn't seem like we're going to be unhappy with the liberals for delaying it. In fact, the longer it is delayed, the more chances for Martin to slip up.
And once again this news story shows Conservatives thinking they can just clap their hands to make unpleasant reality disappear: ". . . the Tories have taken the position that the Queen should not have to cancel her trip to the Prairies next month, even if the country is in the middle of a federal election." Well, Stevie, you can assume the position all you like, but your position won't cut any ice with the royals. And so we would miss having the Queen come to Saskatchewan's Centennial. Thanks a bunch!

Dream team

I just read a blog on the Right Wing side of the Daou Report which described what the blogger called a "nightmare scenario" -- that the Republicans would lose in '08 because John McCain would run as an independent and therefore split the right-wing vote. Hey, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy!
This blog described McCain's decision not to support ending the filubuster as a signal that he had decided to "break with the party" and also said he has given up thinking he could get the GOP nomination in 2008. Now, I lost all respect for McCain when he slobbered all over Bush in Florida during the campaign. But I really do hope this scenario comes true, and I hope Colin Powell comes out of retirement to run as his VP candidate. Either that, orI hope the Christian right goes completely batsh*t crazy during the republican primaries and gets Judge Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore nominated as the GOP candidate for president instead of Jeb Bush. And then he picks Scalia as his VP . . .

Monday, April 18, 2005

Check out the Iraq Occupation Watch site

Today in Iraq linked to this site: Iraq Occupation Watch which I intend to add to my news lists. The site gathers and posts articles from various sources about what is happening in Iraq.
And the news isn't very good. Check out Washington's Iraq Panic Attack :

Rumsfeld’s concern suggests much greater apprehension in US military circles over the state of Iraqi security than is apparent in the current “official” line emanating from Washington. There are five aspects of this apprehension . . . First, attacks on Iraqi security forces and on US bases are continuing with unabated ferocity . . . Second, more members of the occupying coalition are now withdrawing from Iraq . . . Third, the Pentagon is privately worried by the huge costs of the damage to equipment used in Iraq . . . up to $18 billion in replacement costs . . . Fourth, the re-emergence of Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia (often termed the Mahdi army) is a concern to American strategists. Its units have reasserted their power in many urban areas across southern Iraq . . .
Fifth, Iranian “interference” in Iraqi politics is returning to the forefront of US minds . . . Iran could, if it wished, cause major problems for the United States in Iraq . . . the United States perceives a problem in Iran’s purchase of a wide range of military equipment, much of it suited to guerrilla warfare. The US’s difficulty is that Iran can claim an internal security use for such equipment because Iran has long been engaged in a bitter war with drug smugglers on its border with Afghanistan . . . Most European countries view the bulk of Iran’s arms stockpiling as legal, and some of them also informally support Iran’s drug war on its eastern border. The United States, however, sees Iran’s efforts as raising the nightmare possibility of an Iraqi insurgency acquiring (for example) a combination of sniper rifles and night-vision equipment under Iranian tutelage – even in the absence of evidence of such an intention at present . . .

And there is this article by Jim McGovern, What I didn't see in Iraq :
If things in Iraq are so much better, why are we not decreasing the number of US forces there? Why is the insurgency showing no signs of waning? Why are we being told that in a few months the Administration will again ask Congress for billions of dollars more to fight the war? Why, according to the World Food Program, is hunger among the Iraqi people getting worse? It's time for some candor, but candor is hard to come by in Iraq.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The latest from Iraq is pretty bad

In this Independent article 150 hostages and 19 deaths leave US claims of Iraqi 'peace' in tatters, Patrick Cockburn reporting from Mosul provides a survey of recent Iraq news (pretty bad) and provides a convenient capsule summary of the situation in Iraq now:
Despite the elections on 30 January, the US problem in Iraq remains unchanged. It has not been defeated by the Sunni Arab guerrillas but it has not defeated them either. The US army and Iraqi armed forces control islands of territory while much of Iraq is a dangerous no-man's land.
After overthrowing Saddam Hussein in 2003 the US tried direct rule, dissolving the Iraqi army and state. This provoked the Sunni rebellion. By early 2004 there was a danger that part of the Shia community would also rise up. Elections were promised. The victors at the polls in January were Shia parties, mostly militantly Islamic and often sympathetic to Iran. Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, visited Baghdad this week to stop Shia radicals taking over the Interior and Defence Ministries.
Iraq is now more sectarian. Sunnis boycotted the elections. The Kurds and Shias triumphed. The interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, despite heavy US support, got only 14 per cent. If the Shia hostages taken on Friday are executed or Shias are forced to flee, then we are closer to a sectarian civil war.
The Sunni insurgency is not going to go away. US generals say there are only 12,000 to 20,000 guerrillas. But the real lesson of the past two years is that, though many of the groups in the resistance are fanatical or semi-criminal, they will still be sheltered by the Sunni community.
If the new Iraqi government succeeds in establishing itself it will be a largely Shia state with no more interest than the Sunnis in retaining a US presence. Iraqis say they sense that the US wants Iraq to be a weak state, and this they are bound to oppose.

Those who live by the sword. . .

die by the sword.
And it couldn't be happening to a more deserving guy. Reports Rock Support for U.N. Nominee

Good, bad, ugly


Patrick Corrigan, Toronto Star


Chris Britt, The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.

And ugly

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Onward Christian Soldiers

Onward Christian soldiers,
marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus
going on before!
Christ, the royal Master,
leads against the foe;
forward into battle,
see, his banners go.
At the sign of triumph
Satan's host doth flee;
on then, Christian soldiers,
on to victory!
Like a mighty army
moves the Church of God;
Brothers, we are treading
where the saints have trod;
What the saints established
that I hold for true.
what the saints believèd,
that I believe too.
Crown and thrones may perish,
kingdoms rise and wane,
but the Church of Jesus
constant will remain;
Onward, then, ye people,
join our happy throng;
blend with ours your voices
in the triumph song:
glory, laud, and honor,
unto Christ the King;
this through countless ages
men and angels sing.
Onward Christian Soldiers,
marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus
going on before!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Another Fallujh in the making?

Al Quaim, near the Syrian border, is apparently under attack. In a NYT story entitled At Least 19 Killed in String of Suicide Attacks Across Iraq , which describes attacks all across Iraq, the 8th paragraph reports "In northwestern Iraq near the Syrian border, American military officials continued a virtual siege of the city of Qaim, where suicide bombers drove three cars packed with explosives into an American base on Monday. After the attacks, American armored vehicles backed by helicopters blocked access to the city and fought a major battle with insurgents, killing about two dozen on Tuesday and Wednesday, Iraqi security officials in Qaim said."
And here's how the news is being reported from the Iraqi perspective: Resistance fighters take over Al-Qaim and Resistance Throws Back Savage US Assaults on Al-Qaim
Oh, yes, turning the corner any day now . . . .

Associated Press - Wanker headline

Way to slant the important news, guys. Anti-Gay 'Day of Truth' Signs Up 1,150
Oh, and by the way, Pro-Gay 'Day of Silence' Signs Up 450,000.
Thanks to The Next Hurrah for the link.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Wankers of the day

I like the occasional feature used by Atrios, where he awards someone "wanker of the day" for a paticularly glaring or gratutious bit of lying.
So here's my candidate for today's wanker -- MPs accused of trying to humiliate former Martin aide Ah, yes -- once again, its the kind of stupid politicking for which our Loyal Opposition is so beloved across the land.
If the committee members don't even know what they want to ask these former government aides about, then it means they have no evidence or even any suspicion of any wrongdoing whatsoever.
They're just trying to generate a headline or two -- "Former Liberal aides questioned about contracts" or, more likely, "Liberal aides say they can't remember contract spending" -- and what is truly disgusting is that they don't care if they gratituously trash the reputations of government staff in the process.

How to turn police and prosecutors into thugs

Human Rights Watch issues a report which blows the lid off the pathetic "but they told us they wouldn't do it" excuse Still at Risk: Diplomatic Assurances No Safeguard Against Torture
Saying that 'diplomatic assurances' have been given that a prisoner would not be tortured has allowed many western governments to skirt their own laws against torture by shipping suspected terrorists and others off to Syria, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Algeria, Moroko, Russia, Tunisia and Turkey.
The report looks at the United States, of course, but also reviews cases from Canada, Sweden, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Austria and Turkey -- all countries where men and women, even families, have either actually been sent off to be tortured or where courts have stopped government officials from doing this.
Here are the key findings: "individual protection is consistently sacrificed to state interest, . . . even well-intentioned monitoring under diplomatic auspices is ineffectual, and . . . in the end, sending and receiving states have a common interest in pretending assurances are meaningful rather than verifying that they actually are." Their conclusion is that "the practice should stop."
I agree. But not only am I outraged on behalf of the people whose cases are listed in the report, but I also worry about how such practices will threaten the quality of the justice system for all of us.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Using torture or the threat of torture to keep 'bad guys' locked up is so much easier and quicker, and certainly a lot cheaper, than using highly skilled police and prosecutors with good investigative techniques to develop cases which can be prosecuted in court.
Why bother investigating a case when you can get a confession or an allegation against someone else just by threatening a suspect with torture -- as long as you don't really care whether you got the truth or not. And why bother assembling admissable evidence and putting together a case good enough for court, when its so much easier to just ship suspects off somewhere else -- as long as you don't really care whether the person is actually guilty or not
And if you don't care about truth or justice, then our police and prosecutors no longer need to be intelligent, principled and skilled -- they can just be a gang of thugs. Like they are in Syria and Egypt and Uzbekistan and . . .

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Deja vu all over again

CNEWS writes "Conservative Leader Stephen Harper was far more coy about his party's plans . . . " in Harper: No need to wait for report
The Globe writes "Mr. Harper pledged over the weekend that, if given a mandate, he would introduce federal legislation defining marriage as between one man and one woman . . . . [the party] believes the Supreme Court would agree that Parliament has the final say" in Tory same-sex motion rejected
This is what lost Harper the election last June -- a toxic combination of smugness about winning the election, and hypocrisy about running the country.
So here he goes again.
He's already acting "coy" about when he might bring down the government. Well, maybe this is funny for him, maybe all the Tories are laughing about how awful this is for the hated Liberals, but the electorate is not amused. We voted for these guys less than a year ago, because we thought they would do a good job running the country, and we don't want to see Conservatives laughing now about how stupid we all were.
And the Conservatives are STILL outright LYING about how they will manage the same sex marriage issue. They lied all last June, and now they're doing it again.
Restricting marriage to one man/one woman is unconstitutional unless Parliament uses the notwithstanding clause. Hugo Cyr, constitutional law professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal says “Taking away civil marriage rights without using the notwithstanding clause will only guarantee that same sex marriage ends up back before the courts for years to come.” Why are the Conservatives pretending they don't understand this? It doesn't matter how much they wish this wasn't so, the country cannot base its policies and legislation on wishful thinking. And if they lie so easily about this, what else are they going to lie about?

"Is this supposed to be good?"

Over at Pandagon they're having a discussion about The New Culture War. They seem to be focusing on whether government should censor offensive stuff or not -- a discussion which seems pretty pointless to me, because what governments would censor would be swearing and nudity. This would cancel brilliant and thoughtful shows like The Sopranos, and truncate Desperate Housewives -- when what is truly offensive about TV are the junk cultural values expressed by voyeuristic "reality" shows like Growing Up Gotti and The Bachelor, and shows featuring pop-star Lolita wannabes who dress like hookers -- leading to shows like this -- gag me with a spoon.
As I commented at Pandagon, I remember how annoying it was when I was a teenager and my dad would walk in as we were watching TV, look at it for a minute or so, then say with a sarcastic tone in his voice "Is this supposed to be good?"
And then, of course, I did exactly the same thing to my own kids. Because the value of such a skeptical attitude was that it forced me and my sister and brother to decide whether what we were watching actually was any good or not. And if not, then why were we watching it?
Its the reason, today, that there is a lengthy list of shows my husband and I don't bother watching, and neither do my adult children.
So remember those words -- "Is this supposed to be good?" -- and use them.

And check this out too

As well as his "clusterfuck" site described below, James Kunstler also does am "Eyesore of the Month" posting of architectural blunders. Here's one I enjoyed reading:

This June 2003 posting, which Kunstler describes thusly:
The Tang Museum, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York. Architect, Antoine Pradock. This remarkable monstrosity has six backs and no front. The elevation above is what you see from the "street" -- or more precisely the ring road that runs around Skidmore's pod-like campus. Thus, the public "face" of the Tang is its loading dock (with accessory dumpster). Notice the excellent opportunities for skateboard suicide. Predock's own website describes the building as follows: "A stone ramp rises from geologic origins of water shed and limestone caves and culminates in 'one ivory tower,' engaging earth and sky, beginning the journey of encounter. . . " Right, and every Monday at three p.m. winged monkeys fly out of his butt.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Techno hubris and organizational hubris

Wolcott points to this terrific site: Clusterfuck Nation by James Howard Kunstler who writes about our society's mindless and baseless optimism and the coming dark age:
I notice lately that there are two kinds of hubris operating among the 'forward-thinking' classes in America (which is to say, those who are thinking at all). One I call techno-hubris. It represents the idea that there are really no limits to our powers of innovation and it is obviously the product of our experience in the past century, especially of our victory in World War Two and of the 1969 moon landing. The other kind is organizational hubris, the certainty that we can organize our way around the oil bottleneck, global warming, and population overshoot. What both modes of thinking have in common is that neither recognizes the probability that we are moving into a period of discontinuity, turbulence and hardship. Both modes of thinking assume that we can negotiate a smooth transition from where we are now to a new-and-improved human condition.
There is a remarkable consistency in the delusional thinking at every level of American life these days. When Americans think about the future at all, they seem to think it will be pretty much the way we live now. The buyers of 4000 square foot McHouses think that they will be able to continue heating them with cheap natural gas, not to mention commuting seventy miles a day. The stadium builders assume that major league sports will continue just as it is today, with chartered jet planes conveying zillionaire athletes incessently back and forth across the continent. The highway engineers and the municipal planners are focused like lasers on providing more roads and more parking spaces for evermore cars. The architects are designing more skyscrapers, despite the decrepit condition of the electric grid and the frightful situation with our depleting natural gas supply. We're so confident, so sure of ourselves.
When you combine the seven deadly sins with high technology, you get some some really serious problems. You get turbo-sins. It's dreadful to imagine what goeth after turbo-pride.

Great stuff, what? He is one of those writers who says what I realized I was thinking when I read what he wrote.
And here's more:
Herbert Hoover was vilified for doing nothing about the depression that followed the stock market crash. When we look back on the years of George W. Bush we will marvel at his failure to lead, especially his failure to inform the public that our habits of daily life would have to change, that we could not continue to burn twenty million barrels of oil a day, and spend money we hadn't earned; that we desperately had to reform our suburban land development habits, that the WalMarts and other predatory corporations had to be restrained in their systematic destruction of local economies, that our railroads needed to be rebuilt, that our borders needed to be defended, that our local small farmers needed to be supported, that our industries needed to be re-scaled and retained here, that corporate chiseling had to be policed, that finance had to be qualitatively different than a craps game in some casino.
The Hooverization of George W. Bush has begun. Only it will go much worse for Bush. His fall could be so hard, swift and awful that he may not be allowed to finish his second term. That's how stunned the public and even their entrenched oligarchical elites will be as the economy tanks and our national life begins to unravel. The Republican majority will go down with him, including such arrant villians as Tom Delay and the hosts of corporate CEO chiselers who sold out their workers and their country. They can pray all the want. It won't help.

So what can we all do to protect ourselves in the coming dark age? Well, I don't think I'll be moving to the country to live off the land -- my dad was a farmer, and living off the land is just too hard. But it sounds like we should do whatever we can to get out of debt and mortgages, to simplify our lives, and live off the grid as much as we can.
And hoard stuff -- like pepper, yeah, pepper is good . . .

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Choice

This is why there is no law or rule or religion which should cover these decisions. It must be the woman's own choice, painful as this choice can be -- Hard Labor

Sister Gatling Gun of Mindfulness

You might notice a new link to the right, to Unitarian Jihad First explosed to the world by the San Francisco Chronicle, it is spreading all over the progressive blogosphere as the rolling waters of reasonableness overwhelm and smooth out the right-wing ruts of righteousness.
The Naming Committee has given me the UJ name of "Sister Gatling Gun of Mindfulness" which I will wear proudly as a sign of membership in the vast centre-wing conspiracy. And you, too, can get your own UJ name, just click on the link.
Here is the UJ creed:
We are Unitarian Jihad. We are everywhere. We have not been born again, nor have we sworn a blood oath. We do not think that God cares what we read, what we eat or whom we sleep with. Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity notes for the record that he does not have a moral code but is nevertheless a good person, and Unexalted Leader Garrote of Forgiveness stipulates that Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity is a good person, and this is to be reflected in the minutes.
Beware! Unless you people shut up and begin acting like grown-ups with brains enough to understand the difference between political belief and personal faith, the Unitarian Jihad will begin a series of terrorist-like actions. We will take over television studios, kidnap so-called commentators and broadcast calm, well-reasoned discussions of the issues of the day. We will not try for "balance" by hiring fruitcakes; we will try for balance by hiring non-ideologues who have carefully thought through the issues.
We are Unitarian Jihad. We will appear in public places and require people to shake hands with each other. (Sister Hand Grenade of Love suggested that we institute a terror regime of mandatory hugging, but her motion was not formally introduced because of lack of a quorum.) . . . We are Unitarian Jihad, and our motto is: "Sincerity is not enough." We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already. Just because you believe it's true doesn't make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn't mean you are not doing harm. Get a dog, or comfort someone in a nursing home, or just feed the birds in the park. Play basketball. Lighten up. The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone. Brother Gatling Gun of Patience notes that he's pretty sure the world is out to get him because everyone laughs when he says he is a Unitarian. There were murmurs of assent around the room, and someone suggested that we buy some Congress members and really stick it to the Baptists. But this was deemed against Revolutionary Principles, and Brother Gatling Gun of Patience was remanded to the Sunday Flowers and Banners committee.
People of the United States! We are Unitarian Jihad! We can strike without warning. Pockets of reasonableness and harmony will appear as if from nowhere! Nice people will run the government again! There will be coffee and cookies in the Gandhi Room after the revolution.

Different verse, same as the first

I added The Poorman to my list of links because I found I often laughed at his posts. But here is one that is not so funny.
He links to the WP story about that judicial conference that just about everyone in the left blogosphere is writing about today with many good insights and conclusions. Here's what The Poor Man says about Mandate Madness!: ". . . it's the same folks it was thirty, forty years ago, and they've dusted off all the old talking points . . . it's fags now, fags and immigrants and heathens, dear, because kikes and niggers went out with Beatle boots . . . the hour is getting late. Everyone in America had a pretty tough day on 9/11, and in the days and weeks and months that followed . . . a lot of people found certainty and security by making themselves believe that the universe had suddenly become a totally different place, where the President . . . had become this messianic figure, capable of resolving the world's most tortuous and least resolvable problems with one neat and decisive stroke . . . such a great and good man requires great and diabolical enemies, and these enemies became anyone who doubted - liberals, Democrats, foreigners, reporters, academics, professionals, whoever. It makes you feel better. It's intoxicating. But it doesn't have much relation to reality. When reality conflicts with fantasy, you can either abandon the fantasy, and deal with the hangover that follows, or pull the soft, warm covers over your head. And the harsher the reality, the nastier the hangover, and the deeper under the covers you hide to avoid it. But the hour is getting late, now, and you would do well to take off the beer goggles and see who you’ve been sharing that bed with."

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Good, Bad, Ugly

Good: Well, Georgie must be so proud. Here are those adorable Iraqis demonstrating just like grownups do. Are they thanking America for overthrowing Hussein, on the second anniversary of the fall of Baghdad? Not exactly -- actually, the tens of thousands of demonstrators were there at Al Sadr's instigation, to demand that America get out of Iraq. "Mahdi Army militiamen searched people entering the demonstration area as Iraqi policemen stood to the side. Protesters burned the U.S. flag as well as cardboard cutouts of Bush and Saddam. Three effigies representing Saddam, Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- all handcuffed and dressed in red Iraqi prison jumpsuits that signified they had been condemned to death -- were placed on a pedestal, then symbolically toppled like the Saddam statue two years before. Others acted out reports of prison abuse at the hands of American soldiers . . . "
Bad: Time's Joe Klein who just wrote another column critizing democrats and their boring old "culture of law" meme. As Digby writes: "We're not in favor of inflicting particular religious doctine on those who don't believe and we don't think that the government should intrude on purely private matters. If that's a 'culture of law' count me in. There must be some kind of computer program you can buy in DC that scolds Democrats like a drunk and bitter stepmother no matter what the circumstances. If there isn't, I'm going to invent one so that Joe Klein can spend even more time kissing the flatulent asses of sanctimonious Republican gasbags who insist that James Dobson and his zombie nation represent 'real' America."

Just another one of Nick Anderson's great Pulitzer-winning cartoons.

Whose court would you rather be in -- Kennedy, or Delay?

And the Verdict on Justice Kennedy Is: Guilty
These people are mentally ill.
They need help. Now. They need to go away to the funny farm for a while or take a pill or talk to a good psychiatrist, or all three.
It isn't the judges that need to be stopped. It is these people.
Now they think they're going to impeach a Supreme Court Justice because he dared to change his mind on juvenile executions between 1988 and now, to write the majority decisionto stop the execution of teenagers, a practice which every other country in the world, except Somalia, has already abandoned. And they think it is outrageous judicial overreach to even mention in the decision that the US is lagging behind every other country on the planet in this regard. How uhpatriotic. Maybe its not the decision, its the implied insult they're reacting to -- gee, you mean you think some of our state legislatures are twenty years behind the times, led by a bunch of rednecks? How dare you insult our good ole boys!
Not only that, but Kennedy had the temerity to write that juveniles, because they were younger and less mature, should be given the chance to grow up -- "the state cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity". Well, age hasn't helped to bring maturity to the people attending this conference, has it.
And in the same issue of the Washington Post is an article by a judge talking about violence toward judges, including references to the recent violence and to earlier mail bombs. Judge Roth wants congress to give more funds to the US Marshalls Service to protect judges better. Well, how convenient -- the wingnuts now know that all they have to do to intimidate judges is to dismantle the US Marshalls.
Problem solved I guess.
Or else they can adopt the Stalin solution they kept talking about at the conference -- "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem" The Supreme Court had better keep checking its mail.
It would, I suppose, be too much to expect that Bush would issue some kind of statement condemning these wingnuts -- they are, after all, his base, and so he must not dare to tell them they're wrong.
Besides, they might turn on him, next.
UPDATE: Digby has more. "It's not that these judges are "liberal activists" --- the main players in the Schiavo matter were conservative republicans, for God's sake. It's that the Republican legislatures both state and federal want to blame the judiciary for the fact that they cannot deliver on these repugnant, unamerican, demands from their extremist religious right constituency. They want something that . . . Republican judges and Democrats all agree is unconstitutional. They want to destroy an independent judiciary so they can pass unconstituional laws on a purely partisan basis with no review."

Finger bites back

Finger-in-chili accuser has litigious history Some people have just amazing bad luck, don't they?

Friday, April 08, 2005

Mulroney's Irish eyes are smiling

The Globe and Mail: Scandal battering Liberals, poll shows This should win an award as the least surprising headline of the week.
It may be that not every accusation about corruption and passing around envelopes full of cash will prove to be true, but there are just so many of them that even if only half are true, its still a huge number. It all reads like a Sopranos script.
When Harper told the commons earlier this week that the Liberals had lost the moral authority to govern, I felt I could agree with him -- even though the scandal should not be blamed on Martin, it will be, and the history of democracy is littered with the corpses of politicians who had to fall on their swords because someone else couldn't keep their hands out of the till.
Mulroney, I'm sure, will not be able to stop himself from at least a tiny gloat or two -- and he's entitled, after all the misery he went through. I'm not sure that the Conservatives will be able to convince Canadians that they have earned that moral authority to govern -- I guess we'll have to see what kind of campaign it is -- but it looks like the conservatives will be able to use that same commercial, the one with the janitors sweeping up the money in the Parliament buildings.
And I will be profoundly disappointed if the writ is dropped before the Gay Marriage legislation gets passed.

We're trying

The Abstract Factory: In which Jonah Goldberg performs feats that bend the laws of space and time I guess right-wing wunderkind Goldberg wrote a column about why so many university faculty are self-described liberals, and it was all wrong, of course. In writing about the stupidity of Goldberg's arguments, computer science grad student and blogger Abstract Factory reports a greater truth:
"Now, this would merely be an occasion for a hearty laugh at the village idiot's expense, if not for what it represents in its broader media context. The fact is, Goldberg doesn't care in the least whether what he says is true and well-reasoned, and neither do his backers and readers . . . Goldberg's function is to spew forth some roughly grammatical stream of words that appear to reinforce conservatarian ideology, so that his readers can listen, nod, and feel vindicated in their beliefs. And --- this is what's really maddening, all the outrages I've brought up wouldn't matter in the least except for this point --- virtually all right-leaning commentators, running the gamut from David Brooks to Rush Limbaugh to Glenn Reynolds, whether consciously or not, perform roughly the same function, and they're wildly effective. The entire right-wing movement is like a hovercraft floating on the perpetually roaring whirlwind of sub-rational, self-reinforcing nonsense that gusts through the minds of its adherents. It goes on and on and on, and nobody stops the people who feed it; most of the time, nobody with a prominent voice even stands up to them and calls them on their nonsense. For writing this column, and numerous other pieces of garbage like it, for filling people's minds with offal, Jonah Goldberg will never face judgment; he'll die peacefully, with a fat bank account and a kid gloves obituary."
Emphasis mine.
Well, AF, we try, oh how we try. We're not going gentle into that good night. We'll blog, blog against the dying of the light.

"Nice little country you have here, folks"

Nice little country you have here, folks.
It would be a shame if something were to happen to it.
We're not just talking to those judges anymore, you know. No, its the whole damn country that has to get with the program now. And right quick, too. Or else we might just have to do a little headbanging.
Starting with those "living constitution" judges, of course, the ones who think they can overturn one of OUR laws just because they SAY its UNCONSTITUTIONAL. When we pass a law that outlaws abortion, we don't want any judges around anymore who think they can overturn it just because it isn't fair.
But we've got to go a little further than that -- there's all those bloggers, damned traitors. Bunch of whiners. Who the hell do THEY think they are, anyway? And those anti-war protestors -- have to keep them out of sight. And anyone who thinks they have the right to ask our George a question, or wear a t-shirt with a slogan on it, or put a bumpersticker on their car, well, they've toast, too. Its really the Democrats, all of them, that are the problem with this country. The country just has to get rid of them, that's all, and let Georgie do what he knows is best -- or what WE TELL HIM to do. Whose do you think is running this country now anyway?
We're going to turn you all into decent, God-fearing Christians if we have to break every bone in your body to do it.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Dumb, but not criminal

My Blahg notes that Conservatives can have stupid ideas too -- Criticism of Grewal continues
This MP apparently thinks it should be OK to give someone a visitors visa if they can post a bond of some fantastic sum like $100,000 -- or, I suppose, they could drop their firstborn male child off at the Canadian airport on their way into the country and then pick him up on the way back.
This pales, of course, in comparison to what is coming out about the sponsorship scandal -- Grewal may be dumb, but it doesn't sound like he is a criminal.


One of a gallery of cartoons by Nick Anderson, who won the Pulitzer for them.
And while you're at the Pulitzer site, check out the AP photos that the right-wing blogs are making all the fuss about -- "how dare they give the prize to photos which actually show how tough it is for the American soldiers in Iraq?"

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Oh, shit

Separatism's unlikely ally
Quebecers were angry enough last spring about the idea that they could be bribed into continued loyalty to confederation by a few garden show sponsorships.
Thus, 50 seats for the Bloc last June.
But now its even worse.
The Toronto Star notes that there is no real secret about what the Gomery inquiry is hearing, publication ban or not. Since 2002 the Star has been publishing stories about the story behind the story of the sponsorship scandal ". . . Liberals took a system they inherited from Brian Mulroney's Tories and fine tuned it until federal advertising, polling and communications contracts worth millions were being used to pay the party's bills in Quebec and beyond."
So let me get this straight -- the Liberals have been saying for the last year that they secretly spent millions in sponsorships because they were trying to keep the country together. But actually there was a secret inside the secret. They were actually secretly spending the money to help the Liberals continue to get elected.
Oh, Quebec will hit the roof. And the rest of us should too.
I suppose Chretien and Galiano could have talked themselves into seeing this as "keeping the country together" by preventing the Bloc from getting elected.
Sorry, folks, that ain't gonna cut it.
The Star writes "Should Gomery find that Liberals were breaking the law as well as the rules not to rescue the country but to hide the costs of campaigns before passing the bills to taxpayers, the already diminished brand will be in the dumpster. For those who care more about the country than the party, the consequences are ominous. Strategists are already connecting the dots that lead from another strong Bloc Quebecois election result to leader Gilles Duceppe's expected defection to the Parti Quebecois, then to the anticipated defeat of Premier Jean Charest's unpopular Liberal government and, finally, to another referendum. Instead of crushing separatism, the Chicago tough-guy tactics used on Chretien's watch have given new life to a cause prematurely judged to be on life support . . . Nor is the rubbery asymmetrical federalism preached by Stephen Harper and practised by Paul Martin reassuring. Facing a strong, impressively deft Duceppe, a weak prime minister would have trouble resisting the transformation of an already loose federation into one worth considerably less than the sum of its parts; or worse. That's the opposite of what Chrétien wanted, intended and spent his long life in politics trying to achieve. But once unleashed, dark forces are hard to control and the genie of the Quebec sponsorship scandal is now wandering free, wreaking havoc. By the time its evil work is done, Jean Chrétien, the life-long separatist-fighter, may find his place in history rewritten as the movement's misguided secret weapon."

"Nice little courtroom you've got here, judge."

Senator Links Violence to 'Political' Decisions
Nice little courtroom you've got here, judge. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it.
You know how these things go, judge. Its not me you have to worry about now, its my boys.
You know how they get when they're angry.
And judge, I'm sorry to say you've made them pretty angry with all these constitutional decisions you've been making, thinking that's your job now to tell us God-fearing patriotic American citizens whether what we want to do is constitutional or not. Like deciding all the witnesses who said Terri Schaivo wanted to die were right, and accepting all those doctors saying she was basically brain dead. And before that, telling states they couldn't execute teenagers even if they wanted to. And even telling Texas that they couldn't prosecute gay men for having sex.
You just can't be doing that kind of thing anymore, judge, making decisions like that just as though it was your job. Its not, not any more. You got to just be leaving that kind of decision up to me and the boys, or you'll be sleeping with the fishes. Kapishe?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Sad, isn't it.

Ahenakew: didn't know he was being taped when he called Jews a "disease"
"David Ahenakew says he had no idea he was being taped when he told a reporter that Jews were a 'disease' and he never figured his comments would be published."
Excuse me -- this man was speaking to a reporter, and he had been a politician for, what, two decades?
As noted later in the story, "The Saskatoon StarPhoenix reporter who taped the conversation, James Parker, testified that his recorder was right in Ahenakew's face . . . "


Peace, order and good government, eh?: Reserving judgement for now
POGGE has the links for the inquiry testimony and also some wise advice: "What people are reacting to is hearsay and anonymous second-hand reporting on testimony from someone who's facing criminal charges and apparently decided to sing like a bird. He may have told the truth and he may have tried to spread the blame as widely as possible. I'm inclined to reserve judgement until things settle down and we get some decent, sourced reporting on what's going on."
But it does sound pretty bad for the liberals.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

This be the verse

I didn't realize until I read Amanda's Pandagon post at Feminist Blogs, but April is National Poetry Month.
Now, I've been waiting for an excuse to put this poem on my blog. It's not personal -- actually, my own parents didn't do too badly by me, and neither did my husbands, though of course we both have some loveable quirks to this very day! And our kids still like us, as far as we can tell. But I think its a great poem, nonetheless:

This Be The Verse - Philip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

Good Bad Ugly

Just a quick roundup of the good, the bad, and the ugly:
Good - "Our regulation says that if a woman goes to a pharmacy with a prescription for birth control, the pharmacy or the pharmacist is not allowed to discriminate or to choose who he sells it to or who he doesn't sell it to. No delays. No hassles. No lectures." Illinois Pharmacies Ordered to Provide Birth Control
Bad - "Your attempt to intimidate judges in America not only threatens our courts, but our fundamental democracy as well." DeLay Wants Panel to Review Role of Courts
Good - ". . . there's something about historical depth of human experience that Catholicism represents that commands my respect, even if the church's behavior doesn't always earn my admiration. . ."Shoes of the Fisherman
Bad - "The many anecdotal reports of voting irregularities create a context in which the possibility that the overall vote count was substantially corrupted must be taken seriously." National Election Data Archive Project (thanks to Frog for this story)
And here's the ugly:

"Its about hierarchy, power and control. It is not about life."

You MUST read this Juan Cole gendered analysis of how the Schavio case connects theoretically to the Iraq invasion. Gender-based analysis of power relationships uses the theory of patriarchy (rule of the fathers) as the structure for social analysis. It applies in all sorts of areas where, at first glance, the male/female dicotomy does not seem evident or applicable but wherever relations of power are central to understanding. The insights this type of analysis provides are unique and meaningful:
How does Bush square all the violence he has unleashed in the world with his praise of 'life?' What is the link between war-mongering and being 'pro-life?' It turns out that anti-abortionism is not about life at all. It is about social control. It helps establish a hierarchical society in which men are at the pinnacle and women kept barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. Likewise, the Schiavo case was in part about the religious Right dictating to Michael Schiavo how he must lead his private life. This campaign is not really about life at all, as the examples of the raped woman or the woman whose pregnancy puts her life in danger demonstrate. It is about control, and the imposition of a minority's values on others. And that is why the Iraq war is the perfect symbol for the anti-abortionists. Colonial conquest is always a kind of rape, but now the conquered country must bear the fetus of Bush-imposed 'liberty' to term. The hierarchy is thus established. Washington is superior to Baghdad, and Iraq is feminized and deprived of certain kinds of choices. And that is also how the Schiavo case makes sense in the end, because the religious Right feminized Michael Schiavo, made him into the pregnant woman seeking an 'abortion,' and wished to therefore deprive him of choice in the matter. If hierarchy is gendered, then the persons over which control is sought are always in some sense imagined as powerless women. Powerful non-fundamentalist men and uppity Third World countries that won't do as they are told are ultimately no different from feminist women seeking an abortion. All must be subdued, in the view of the Christian Right. It is about hierarchy, power and control. It is not about life.