Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
We knew that Ignatieff and Rae were better communicators, but we picked Dion because we believed that he would make the best prime minister of the group. Instead of trying to change Dion's style so that he seems like a new person, we need to focus on his strengths. They are analysis, clarity and decency - not partisan rhetoric and word smithing. Let the rest of caucus throw the mud.Exactly.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Short summary: the Bush Administration (ie Cheney) is, at the behest of the Saudis, now supporting the Sunnis -- even though they are the Iraqi insurgents and Al Qaeda -- instead of the Shiites -- even though they are the majority in Iraq -- because the Shiites are the majority in the new bogeyman Iran. And Lebannon and Hezbollah and Syria and the Saudi government are in there somewhere too, and there's apparently lots of money floating around for off-the-books secret operations.
Anyway, back to the three phrases.
First was this description from Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy:
The new diplomatic approach ..."shows a real degree of effort and sophistication as well as a deftness of touch not always associated with this Administration."Second was a description from "a former senior intelligence official" of why John Negroponti quit as ubermeister of US intelligence:
Negroponte "had problems with this Rube Goldberg policy contraption for fixing the Middle East."Third was this description from "a former National Security Council aide" of the CIA reaction:
"The C.I.A. is asking, 'What's going on?' They're concerned, because they think it's amateur hour."Now, which of these three is not like the others?
And, given the history and past performance, which would you tend to believe is the most accurate description of what the Bush Administration is now doing in the Middle East?
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Logician: Here is an example of a syllogism. The cat has four paws. Isidore and Fricot both have four paws. Therefore Isidore and Fricot are cats.Groan....
Old Gentleman: My dog has got four paws.
Logician: Then it’s a cat.
Old Gentleman: So then logically speaking, my dog must be a cat?
Logician: Logically, yes. But the contrary is also true. . . Another syllogism. All cats die. Socrates is dead. Therefore Socrates is a cat.
Old Gentleman: And he’s got four paws. That’s true. I’ve got a cat named Socrates.
Logician: There you are, you see . . .
This logic gives me pause.
I just don’t know if it gives me four of them.
Is anyone surprised that a hundred of the boys replied "yes, lots"?
For boys, that's not an admission, it's a boast.
Friday, February 23, 2007
. . . unlike American Middle East hawks, Israelis actually have to live in the middle of the Arab world and are relatively ill-served by the sort of grandiose transformational schemes the administration likes to come up with the justify their increasingly rudderless approach to the region.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Al Qaeda survives because Bush let it survive. It grew stronger because his rubber-stamp congress endorsed every thoughless move Bush made. It may well be within reach of formulating another devastating attack because Bush and his cargo culture found al Qaeda an inconvenient barrier to an agenda from which they would not vary. They wanted to go into Iraq, they were going to go into Iraq and Iraq is where they ended up. The Republicans are not the capable military crew they purport to be. They talk a good story but when the truth of their accomplishments are analyzed they emerge as completely incompetent. In terms of foreign policy and global strategy, nobody has produced worse results than Bush and flock of war-bangers who supported him. They're good at beating people up, but they don't have the smarts to actually win a fight.Emphasis mine. And not only are they incapable of developing a winning strategy, they have the attention span of a dung beetle.
. . .
Now, Steve is an egghead Prime Minister,
There's a pit bull named Baird at his side,
Who snarls and snaps about emission caps,
While his limousine's idling outside.
And the Speaker is practicing politics,
As the insults and taunts fill the air.
While the climate is changing, they're just rearranging,
The Titanic's three hundred deck chairs.
La la la, de de da
La la, de de da da da
Sing us a song, you're Enviro-Man,
Tell us another one, Steve.
We're all in the mood for Kyoto compliance,
So, what have you got up your sleeve?
Here is the audio -- because you must hear it sung in JimBobby's inimitable "willie-nelson" voice!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Why, it must be more Librull Corruption. Yeah, that's it. That'll be a winner theme.
And Harper lunged at it like a salmon to the spoon.
Vancouver Sun was following the Peggy Noonan Principle -- Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to! -- in their heavy-on-the-innuendo, light-on-the-facts article today, implying that Dion is opposed to extending some post-9/11 anti-terrorist legal provisions because he is trying to shield the father-in-law of a loyal MP from being questioned about the Air-India bombing. Here's the nut:
The Vancouver Sun has learned that [Mississauga-Brampton MP Navdeep Singh] Bains's father-in-law, Darshan Singh Saini, is on the RCMP's potential list of witnesses at investigative hearings designed to advance the Air India criminal probe.
But the ability to hold those hearings will be lost March 1 if parts of the Anti-Terrorism Act expire as expected, after the Liberals recently withdrew support for extending the provision being used to hold them.
Further down, the article passes lightly over the fact that the RCMP has been "preparing" for these investigative hearings since 2003 -- more than three years ago. And not even mentioned is the fact that they knew even in 2003 that the Anti-Terrorism Act was due to expire in 2007, so why didn't they get cracking on these hearings a little earlier? Of course, its always easier to blame politicians than it is to take responsibility for an inadequate investigation.
This Toronto Star article provides additional context:
Some Liberals have privately groused that Dion’s stance on the anti-terrorism provisions has been influenced by militant Sikh and Muslim groups, members of which helped secure the party leadership victory last December. Bains was instrumental in swinging the Sikh vote behind Dion.
But Liberals weren’t about to let Harper get away with linking Bains, however tenuously, to the Air India bombing. They repeatedly demanded an apology.
“The prime minister has just confirmed that to him, partisan advantage is everything — the truth does not matter, it is the allegation that counts,” bellowed an incensed Ralph Goodale, Liberal House leader.
“He just proved his devious and deceitful behaviour and he does not pay any attention to the consequences to any Canadian.” . . .
Dion said the fact that Saini’s name has been leaked to the media, when investigative hearings are supposed to be confidential, demonstrates why the anti-terrorism provisions shouldn’t be renewed.
“It’s an additional consideration that (confirms to) us that there is a problem with that because it’s smearing the reputation of somebody like this,” he told reporters.
That Bains has also been smeared demonstrates the “kind of guilt by association that this kind of provision may create.”
The issue appeared to help galvanize the Liberal caucus after a difficult caucus meeting earlier Wednesday. Sources said Dion appealed for a united front on the anti-terrorism measures, telling MPs it’s a crucial test of his leadership and warning that those who defy him may not be allowed to run for the party in the next election.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Alone, drifting on an ice floe in the Arctic dark, hunter Billy Wolki was facing the possibility of a slow, cold death. Then came ... Heroes from the sky
By Joe Friesen
Bill Wolki, an experienced Inuvialuit polar bear hunter and guide, was entering his 12th hour of frozen solitude on the ice.
He was thinking of his father, who had died in Arctic waters more than 20 years earlier when a boat laden with caribou meat overturned in bad weather. He was thinking of his older brother, who died more than 10 years ago, when his fishing boat capsized. And he was thinking of himself, wondering if his time had come.
Hours before, Mr. Wolki had set out in his aluminum fishing boat to collect a dead seal from an ice floe. He planned to use the seal as polar bear bait, for the benefit of a hunting tourist from Las Vegas.
As he always did, Mr. Wolki tied one end of a long rope to land, so he could pull himself back to safety. But when he was out on the ice floe, 10 metres from solid ground, the wind picked up and the ice began to move. The rope broke away.
Mr. Wolki was propelled into the unknown, adrift in the Arctic without a paddle.
His wife, Frances, and the American tourist watched helplessly. Fortunately, they had a satellite phone and could call for help. But there are few places as remote as Parry Peninsula in the Northwest Territories.
It took more than six hours for a Canadian Forces C-130 Hercules, dispatched from Winnipeg's 17 Wing, to reach the 70th parallel. It was joined in the air search by two Twin Otters from Yellowknife, but by then it was near midnight, and scanning the dark, barren ice was hopeless.
On the ground, a team of Inuit Rangers on snowmobiles came screaming across the ice from Paulatuk, four hours away. Among them was Mr. Wolki's brother, Hank. The Rangers were able to discern Mr. Wolki's last known location, and lined up their snowmobile lights to point the air search in the right direction.
They spotted Mr. Wolki crouched under his boat. A radio was dropped from the Hercules, and Mr. Wolki was able to speak with Sergeant David Cooper, a military Search and Rescue Technician.
He told Sgt. Cooper that he was unhurt, but he was cold and lonely. He had no food, no survival gear and, most importantly, no gun. He was scared that a polar bear might attack. Sgt. Cooper considered whether to attempt a rescue.
The risks were enormous. They would be aiming at a strip of ice 500 metres wide.
The sky was black, save for gently falling parachute flares. The wind was howling at 50 kilometres an hour.
Their trajectory would be entirely over water. If they came up short, they would smash through a thin crust of ice, drop into the frigid ocean and almost certainly die. If they overshot the mark, they would land on jagged, jutting ice that could leave them crippled.
The back of the C-130 Hercules opened wide, more than 900 metres above the Arctic Ocean. Outside, the temperature had dropped below -50 with the wind chill. Sgt. Cooper looked at his partner. They decided to jump.
Weighed down by more than 50 kilograms of extra equipment, they plummeted to the ground at a speed of six metres a second, falling straight down and slightly backwards.
At the last second, they pulled back on the parachute controls, slowing themselves enough to ensure a soft landing.
Mr. Wolki, dazed somewhat by his circumstances, watched them from a distance.
The SARTECS began unpacking their gear. Seven minutes passed before he even approached them. The first thing he asked for was a rifle.
Trusting that the polar bear hunter knew the dangers better than they did, the SARTECS gave Mr. Wolki one of the two compact rifles they had brought with them. He was immediately relieved. Seal carcasses — the polar bear bait that had sparked this crisis — were frozen in the ice barely 20 metres away.
The trio fought the elements together as they struggled to set up a tent.
The wind blew the canopy around like a flag, and the tent parts didn't operate well with the cold. Eventually, the group ran out of flares.
After 1½ hours, they succeeded in getting the tent up, and finally had some shelter. They lit a stove for warmth.
The three of them, with plenty of food, water and warmth, could now wait to be rescued.
They talked for several hours. Mr. Wolki told stories about bears he had hunted. He talked about the family members he had lost, and about his fear that he had been on the verge of joining them.
Even had they met in other circumstances, Sgt. Cooper said, they probably would have been friends.
The next day, they were expecting to be rescued before noon, but a helicopter hired by the Canadian Forces from a private U.S. search-and-rescue company was delayed by bad weather. A Canadian Forces Cormorant helicopter en route from Comox, B.C., to Whitehorse was diverted to retrieve them.
Mr. Wolki enjoyed a tearful reunion with his family.
He promised his brother, Hank, he would never make the same mistake again.
On Monday, Mr. Wolki was back out on the land, hunting polar bears.
It's what he does, he told his brother.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Which one actually attempts to inform us about taxes and tarrifs?
Fairness compells me to report that I trolled through a number of other past and present Government of Canada websites, and other than a lamentable tendency to continue to call the Harper government "Canada's new government" in every press release, and a greater propensity for the minister's photo at the top of the page, the other government pages aren't nearly so totally partisan and promotional as this Finance page.
But here's the page that started me off on this search: its the one on the Agriculture site that's about the barley marketing plebicite now going on. The page is titled The Path Toward Marketing Choice for Western Wheat and Barley. Gee, I wonder what point of view they're trying to promote?
. . . Writing on the op-ed page of The Dallas Morning News recently, [political science professor Matthew Wilson]went on to cite immigration reform, expanded free trade and global democratization as themes of the Bush presidency that will be of interest to scholars in the years to come.Much of their answer will likely depend on what happens next.
I don't think so. Let me ask this bluntly: How much scholarly or general interest is there in Idi Amin's monetary policy? Long before anybody can get to the administrative details, history must address the butchery issue.
Is the Iraq war of a fabric with the American history of warfare? Or does the fact that we initiated a war against a nation that had not attacked us place the Iraq war in a dark category of its own? We see Democrats like Hillary Clinton trying to parse their patriotism now by speaking as if the holocaust in Iraq is the fault of the Iraqis, but what if that's bullshit?
These bombs that kill 150 human beings at a time, that send children flying from apartments and litter the pavement with burned skulls: What if the conclusion of history is that these events would not have taken place if George W. Bush had not decided to launch this war?
And what about us? What if, on careful examination, history concludes that Bush/Rove were able to knit together the overwhelming support we gave them at the outset of this war by a subliminal manipulation of our own anti-Arab, anti-Muslim xenophobia?
Afghanistan was war. The Taliban sheltered bin Laden. But Iraq is not Afghanistan.
The questions around Bush and Iraq are going to be whether Iraq was war or holocaust. I don't draw any direct parallel here between Iraq and the Nazi Holocaust, which stands unique in human history. But man can make other human holocausts—terrible mass murder expressing only evil, not any legitimate national interest.
I don't know on which side of the line the answer will fall. But I do know what the question is. Long before history develops a big interest in George W. Bush's immigration policy, historians will have to labor long and hard on the question of whether Bush was the white Idi Amin . . .
Saddam can be blamed for the deaths of half a million Iraqi children, not due to the Gulf War itself but due to the UN sanctions which resulted from his continued anti-semetism, his posturing and blustering through the 1990s about his non-existant weapons programs. But Bush's total is now ratcheting upwards of that.
If the Democrats succeed in shutting down the Iraq war, and if the Middle East returns to some level of stability, then history may well just find Bush to be just an incompetent, misguided by the neocons but fundamentally ineffective. But if Bush starts a war with Iran and engulfs the Middle East in war, with Israel, the Saudis, Lebannon, Syria and the Turks getting involved, resulting in the needless deaths of millions of people, then chances are likely pretty good that Bush will be one of history's war criminals. And the judgement on those who aided and abetted him won't be kind, either.
One school of thought has it that all war represents a failure of diplomacy. Our current smart set on the Right, on the other hand, presupposes that all diplomacy represents a failure to go to war. “Negotiating doesn’t work” is truth so basic to this world view that it is never questioned, even when all evidence points out that, yeah, it actually does. It is a fact that the North Koreans are irrational, disagreeable, and enjoy making trouble. While this makes it a real bother to negotiate with them, it also makes it necessary, because these are precisely the sort of people who should not have the bomb. And it is also a fact that the North Koreans have very little in common with us, and have many goals which are entirely at odds with ours. This also makes negotiating hard, but, then again, there isn’t much point in negotiating with people who agree with you on everything. While it might seem a lot simpler to just invade and be done with it, this course of action would kill hundreds of thousands of people, and, in the ensuing chaos, put DPRK’s nuclear arsenal up for grabs. And, not to nitpick, but it is customary for invasions to involve these things called “armies”, and ours is currently bogged down in Iraq, a result of the last time we decided that diplomacy was for pussies. There’s probably a lesson there.Emphasis mine.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Saturday, February 17, 2007
In Bismarck, N.D., Saturday, almost nine thousand people took part in the world record snow angels event. The previous world record was 3,784. (AP Photo/Will Kincaid)
Bad idea -- Prince Harry is going to Iraq. What he is trying to prove, I don't know, but he is endangering his own life and the lives of his whole regiment. They didn't sign up to be Harry's bodyguards but that is what they will be, while Harry himself might as well be wearing a bullseye. (AFP/Pool/Steve Dock)
And Ugly (but funny).
Friday, February 16, 2007
At the Morgue.I am speechless, too.
We were asked to send the next of kin to whom the remains of my nephew, killed on Monday in a horrific explosion downtown, can be handed over. The young men of the family, as was customary, rose to go.
“NO!” cried his mother. “Isn’t my son enough?? Must we lose more of our youth?? You know there are unknowns who wait at the Morgue to either kill or kidnap the men who dare reach its doors. I will go.”
So we went, his mum, his other aunt and I.
I was praying all the way there.
I never thought a day would come when it was the women of the family, who would be safer on the roads. All the men are potential terrorists it seems, and are therefore to be cut down on sight. This is the logic of today, is it not? To kill evil before it even has a chance to take root.
When we got there, we were given his remains. And remains they were. From the waist down was all they could give us. “We identified him by the cell phone in his pants’ pocket. If you want the rest, you will just have to look for yourselves. We don’t know what he looks like.”
Now begins a horror that surpasses anything I could have possibly envisioned. We were led away, and before long a foul stench clogged my nose and I retched. With no more warning we came to a clearing that was probably an inside garden at one time; all round it were patios and rooms with large-pane windows to catch the evening breeze Baghdad is renowned for. But now it had become a slaughterhouse, only instead of cattle, all around were human bodies. On this side; complete bodies; on that side halves; and EVERYWHERE body parts.
We were asked what we were looking for, “upper half” replied my companion, for I was rendered speechless. “Over there”. We looked for our boy’s broken body between tens of other boys’ remains’; with our bare hands sifting them and turning them.
We found him millennia later, took both parts home, and began the mourning ceremony.
Can Hollywood match our reality?? I doubt it.
Here's good news for Ralph and the Liberals -- and it's about time.
Sometimes its just more fun being in the Opposition -- it means you can say things like “With friends like that, you don't need enemies” when the 800-lb. gorilla insults us.
Tbogg points out:
... it looks like Al Franken is in to run against a very vulnerable Norm Coleman in Minnesota (they even elect Mooslims! there). We will now await the inevitable comments about a know-nothing Hollyweirdo running for the Senate from the same people who think that Curt Schilling should run against John Kerry.
And lots of other people have pointed out that the Bush deal with North Korea is the same as the Clinton deal with North Korea, but the Poorman sums it up best:
John “The Walrus” Bolton [says] "This is the same thing that the State Department was prepared to do six years ago. If we going to cut this deal now, it’s amazing we didn’t cut it back then." Except back then they wouldn’t have had so many warheads, or be so confident in their ability to put them together, or to defy the US without consequence, or just generally tell us to go fuck ourselves. This is, sadly, the best that could be hoped for. I get few enough chances to say “I told you so”, but, you know, I told you so.
Over at Firedoglake, Scarecrow writes an excellent summary of the week's events with the Bush administration and Iran:
Suppose you've elected an administration that is so completely incompetent that it has bungled almost everything it has done, so belligerant that it has squandered the almost universal international support it enjoyed in the weeks after 9/11 while alienating most of its historic friends and allies, and so dishonest that no one can trust what it says, making it impossible to discern whether any threat the Administration claims to see in Iran (or anywhere else) is real, exaggerated or "hyped" . . . That is the unstated dilemma that floated just below the surface all week long, as the Bush Adminstration blundered its way towards a war it claims it is not planning against Iran.In my opinion, the whole "blame the Quds" story is being ginned up so that Bush would be able to attack Iran without congressional authorization, by claiming he was just protecting the US troops in Iraq.
Hmm, so young to be so cynical...
Thursday, February 15, 2007
We watch CSI and its clones every week, but I must say I'm gettimg more and more impatient with the plots -- maybe its the CSI effect in reverse.
I think the writers have run out of ideas for these shows.
Every week now, some science geek runs all over the city breaking into houses and slamming witnesses into the wall -- apparently, there are virtually no actual police officers in Las Vegas or New York or Miami who investigate crimes anymore. Then the Science Geek decides, on the basis of virtually no evidence at all, that the wife or the husband or the long-lost uncle or the stranger across the street is guilty of the crime and then, after an incredible chain of coincidence and luck, that very same Geek finds a fingerprint at the bottom of a well or a hair lying on an otherwise-pristine carpet or a scrap of fabric at the top of a tree which proves it. The accused, who never hires a lawyer, immediately breaks down and confesses all. Case solved.
Cue the three-minute song so they don't need any actual dialogue for the final "end of the shift/going home/life in the big city" scenes and they can expand it or cut it depending on how many commercials have been sold.
Hmmm, I guess I'm getting just a little jaded these days...
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
. . . Bush also was asked how he thinks Iraqi children will view the United States in 15 to 20 years.Really?
"If we can help this government be able to create the conditions so that a mother can grow up — raise their child in peace, I think people will look back and say they'd be thankful of America," Bush said. "If America leaves, however, before the job is done, I think there will be great resentment toward America."
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Ronald Reagan is dead, Margaret Thatcher is senile and the ideological world that they created is now dying with them. From 1979 to 2004, the political Right won the Western world's battle of ideas. Conservatives triumphed because they were correct about the two biggest issues of that era: They were for free markets and against communism. But now confusion on the Right prevails, because today it is they who are on the wrong side of the West's two greatest political issues: climate change and the Iraq War.UPDATE: Dana linked to the original English for this article, here, on Jan. 25 -- sorry, Dana, I hadn't seen this post earlier.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
What is the point of this sort of article? Why would the New York Times just offer itself up again as a mindless vessel for what are clearly war-seeking accusations by the administration? Have they learned nothing?What is the point? To give Republicans something to talk about on the Sunday talk shows.
Why would they do it? See next question.
Have they learned nothing? No. No, they haven't.
UPDATE Sunday: Juan Cole points out the dumbest aspect of the NYT story -- the Iranians have been supporting the Iraq SHIITES, while the Americans are being killed by the Shiite enemies, the SUNNIS:
Some large proportion of US troops being killed in Iraq are being killed with bullets and weapons supplied by Washington to the Iraqi army, which are then sold by desperate or greedy Iraqi soldiers on the black market. This problem of US/Iraqi government arms getting into the hands of the Sunni Arab guerrillas is far more significant and pressing than whatever arms smugglers bring in from Iran . . .
If 25 percent of US troops are being killed and wounded by explosively formed projectiles, then someone should look into who is giving those EFPs to Sunni Arab guerrillas. It isn't Iran.
Finally, it is obvious that if Iran did not exist, US troops would still be being blown up in large numbers. Sunni guerrillas in al-Anbar and West Baghdad are responsible for most of the deaths. The Bush administration's talent for blaming everyone but itself for its own screw-ups is on clear display here.
Amid the continued political fallout over the faulty intelligence case for going to war in Iraq, the Bush administration is newly cautious about the specific intelligence it plans to present to the public to back up its claims that Iran is fighting a kind of proxy war with the United States in Iraq.I know this is a apparently-trivial side issue, but . . . PowerPoint?
At least twice in the past month, the White House has delayed a PowerPoint presentation initially prepared by the military to detail evidence of suspected Iranian materiel and financial support for militants in Iraq. The presentation was to have been made at a press conference in Baghdad in the first week of February. Officials have set no new date, but they say it could be any day.
Even as U.S. officials in Baghdad were ready to make the case, administration principals in Washington who were charged with vetting the PowerPoint dossier bowed to pressure from the intelligence community and ordered that it be scrubbed again . . . the presentation was sent "back into the interagency process" . . .
They're promoting a war with PowerPoint? Haven't they ever heard of this?
Yes, its funny, but there is a more serious discussion about the problem of technical presentations on PowerPoint here.
Edward Tufte writes about the Columbia disaster and the findings of the investigation board that faulted NASA's reliance on PowerPoint presentations rather than technical reports as a primary cause of its inability to properly assess the risks of damage to the Columbia space shuttle mission:
In the reports, every single text-slide uses bullet-outlines with 4 to 6 levels of hierarchy . . . the rigid slide-by-slide hierarchies, indifferent to content, slice and dice the evidence into arbitrary compartments, producing an anti-narrative with choppy continuity . . .So I wonder if the reporters who are going to have to analyze the Pentagon's PowerPoint slides to evaluate Iranian activity in Iraq have ever read the Columbia report?As information gets passed up an organization hierarchy, from people who do analysis to mid-level managers to high-level leadership, key explanations and supporting information are filtered out. In this context, it is easy to understand how a senior manager might read this PowerPoint slide and not realize that it addresses a life-threatening situation. At many points during its investigation, the Board was surprised to receive similar presentation slides from NASA officials in place of technical reports. The Board views the endemic use of PowerPoint briefing slides instead of technical papers as an illustration of the problematic methods of technical communication at NASA.
But maybe it doesn't really matter, anyway. Returning to the National Journal article, it makes the point that the war is on regardless of any actual intelligence or evidence:
"Even if this PowerPoint presentation eventually gets made public ... what does this show us as to where Iran is really coming from?" [former National Intelligence Council Middle East analyst Paul] Pillar asked. "What is the larger significance? Even if Iranian assistance to an Iraqi group is proven to everyone's satisfaction, the [administration's] policy never rested on that. The policy [is being driven by a] much larger sense of Iran as the prime bete noire in the region, and that is why the administration is trying to put together these coalitions with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the Sunni states, that we've been reading about. None of this hinges [on the Iran dossier]. We are not going to call this off if we can't prove that Iran is furnishing munitions to Iraqi groups. ..."Oh, well, that's alright then...
Of the 108 submissions [to a Finance Department survey last summer] 50 criticized the Conservative government for failing to live up to promises to exclude resource revenues, just as Atlantic Canada's offshore energy wealth has effectively been excluded for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador under special deals with those provinces.Well, I'm almost certain I know where 12 of the submissions must have come from -- our very own Conservative MPs!
None of the other 60 issues raised came even close to that level of consensus, an internal accounting of the responses shows. . . .
The Finance Department's official report on the web-based consultations does not reflect the overwhelmingly pro-Saskatchewan nature of the web contributions.
"There were wide views on the treatment of natural resources," says the final report, posted on the Internet last month.
"Some suggested that all non-renewable resource revenues should be excluded from the equalization formula, a view shared by the substantial number of submissions from Saskatchewan.
"There were also submissions that supported the full inclusion of resource revenues in the equalization formula."
The Finance Department warned last summer when it announced the consultation that it was not intended to be a poll, though the internal documents indicate bureaucrats conducted a careful accounting of which issues received the most comment.
The department initially refused to release the documents under the Access to Information Act, saying all results would eventually be published. But officials relented last week after the office of the Information Commissioner of Canada launched an investigation.
I'm sure of it, because they were so very vocal on this issue BEFORE they were elected to government. Of course they would have taken the opportunity offered by the Finance Department to remind Harper about his promises! [/snark]
And here is what they said -- Giant Political Mouse gathered these comments from 2004 and 2005:
“The matter of equalization has to do with Saskatchewan's natural resources which by right of the Constitution we should have complete access to, we should have total and complete benefit of. It is a right which is being taken away from us through the equalization process…. We want nothing more than the basic principles of fairness applied.”- Mr. Bradley Trost (Saskatoon—Humboldt, CPC) HansardThe Mouse has been giving yeoman coverage to this issue -- here's another recent post of his, a very useful roundup of Saskatchewan blog comments about the equalization issue.
“Saskatchewan has been ripped off by the federal government when it comes to equalization …Because of equalization, revenues from the very resources that are keeping the province afloat are being handed to the federal government which in turn distributes the money among the have not provinces”- Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, CPC) Hansard
Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the equalization question…. We can find inequities that exist between provinces particularly as they relate to Saskatchewan. In that regard, there have been many studies commissioned showing that Saskatchewan has had the bad end of the deal on this one… All Saskatchewan wants is to be treated fairly and equitably… It is our position that non-renewable resources such as oil and gas should not be in the formula. The Minister of Finance, a native of Saskatchewan, has an obligation to the citizens of Saskatchewan and those in particular in Souris—Moose Mountain to ensure that the past injustices done to Saskatchewan are not repeated again.- Mr. Ed Komarnicki (Souris—Moose Mountain, CPC) Hansard
Saskatchewan is simply not getting its fair share out of equalization…. Just last week the Prime Minister visited Saskatoon, but refused to substantially negotiate or discuss the equalization matter with our premier…. Saskatchewan faces challenges. Its population has increased 14% since the Great Depression, while other provincial populations have flourished. With major industries in crisis, a static population and mounting fiscal pressures, we cannot afford to wait forever for this federal government to attend to this problem…. We need our NDP government in Saskatchewan to be supportive of our efforts to get a better deal for Saskatchewan. We need a provincial government that wants our province to prosper on the backs of its own industries. At the very least we need a provincial government that will hold the federal government to its constitutional obligations…. I plead with the government and the minister across the way to negotiate a fair deal with the province of Saskatchewan and to do it without delay.- Mrs. Carol Skelton (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, CPC) Hansard
“The equalization formula that we have has totally shafted the province of Saskatchewan from every standpoint…. A good deal of the problem I have identified is the gross unfairness in the equalization formula. I want to point out a couple of those discrepancies. I also want to point out that the Conservative Party has clearcut policies on this matter as opposed to the government across the way…. I want to make it clear that this formula is grossly unfair to a province that has non-renewable natural resources…. This is bad policy. It is terrible policy…. This formula is unfair. It is shocking. I do not know what terminology I could use to describe the matter….. As a resident of Saskatchewan, I am looking at a formula that does not serve our province very well at all. As I stated at the onset, in many respects it shafts the people of Saskatchewan to the umpteenth degree. What is the government's response to this very serious problem? The finance minister says that it is too complicated to discuss.- Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick (Prince Albert, CPC) Hansard
"The truth of the matter is that in Saskatchewan the only elected official who is not demanding the same deal as was afforded Premiers Hamm and Williams is the Minister of Finance. That is shameful. Will the minister or his designate stand in the House today and do what is right, do what is fair, and simply commit to the elimination of the clawback provisions and give Saskatchewan people the same deal as afforded to Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia?"Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, CPC) Hansard
"Representatives of the people of Saskatchewan are obliged to speak out against an equalization system that penalizes our province with an over-emphasis on non-renewable resources and a complete failure to accurately measure fiscal capacity. The detrimental effects of the present equalization formula should not be under-estimated. It has and continues to have a real effect on the prosperity of the residents of Saskatchewan, robbing them of economic benefits resulting from energy revenues…. The concept of equalization is to assist have not provinces. However, under this formula, we could conceivably cement the economic stagnation of some provinces, such as my own, for decades to come. The treatment of Saskatchewan's non-renewable resources under the equalization formula is, to quote Courchene, “not only inequitable, it is fiscally and economically immiserating”`. We cannot allow this situation to persist."- Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap, CPC) Hansard
“A tremendous number of our graduates and our kids are working in Alberta in that oil patch that Alberta started before this equalization formula became a hindrance. I take exception to that…. The whole equalization process, and the fundamental word in there is equal, has become a political process, not a practical process. One can argue that formula is as flawed as the equalization one and I would agree. It needs to be changed…"- Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, CPC) Hansard
"I have a lot of people in my riding who would like to know why, when those parties were making this deal, there was not a single penny for agriculture and not a single penny for a fair deal for Saskatchewan in terms of equalization, an agenda that this party has been driving for months as the only ally of the Saskatchewan people in moving this issue forward."- Mr. Andrew Scheer (Regina Qu’appelle, CPC) Hansard
There is no equalization deal for Saskatchewan, which is what the Conservative Party has been consistently demanding from the government. To put it into perspective, a new equalization deal would have meant an additional $750 million for Saskatchewan, my province, this year alone.- Mr. Dave Batters (Palliser, CPC) Hansard
It was interesting to hear him say that equalization is not really about equality. It seems to me that it is…. We know that the current equalization formula is flawed…. We agree that Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia deserve to keep their offshore gas and oil revenues. However, we think that what is fair for those provinces is also fair for Saskatchewan…. . This change should be a slam dunk.- Mr. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, CPC) Hansard
"This is not something just unique to the Conservative Party, but we believe there is a tremendous flaw in the current equalization formula… It is estimated that Saskatchewan, had it received that same deal a decade ago, would have received an additional $8 billion for the province from non-renewable resource revenues…. In regard to equalization, Saskatchewan is being treated very unfairly…. By not providing a fair deal for Saskatchewan, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance have turned their backs on our province"Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, CPC) Hansard
Friday, February 09, 2007
Jack Abramoff? Nope, doesn't ring a bell. Scooter Libby? Didn't he used to work here? Doug Feith? Can't quite remember what he did around here.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Maybe we've realized where that can lead -- to Guyana and to Manhattan.
One advance would be if people did not think that the only way to be religious is to slavishly revere every single thing their religious leader has decreed to be an article of faith. Terry McAuliffe (who is former chair of the Democratic National Committee) demonstrates this when he refuses Hugh Hewitt's You're-Not-A-Real-Catholic frame just because he is pro-choice:
TM: Hugh, I don’t cite Catholic doctrine all through the book. I say I’d gone to Catholic schools, Hughie, through the book, and I am pro-choice, no question about it. But I don’t pretend to be a priest . . .Another advance would be if religion itself could change its own hurtful, narrow, mean-spirited doctrines and find a shining, kind, expansive, inclusive, and, dare I say, a more "Christian" God for its adherents to worship. Here is Lance Mannion's rant about what is wrong with the Catholic Church:
HH: No, but I mean, the whole abortion controversy, that’s just…you compartmentalize that and put that aside?
TM: I can, as can many Catholics.
. . .
TM: And as you know, the Holy Father himself, John Paul II, blessed my wife’s engagement ring when I wound up being at a private Mass for us in his private chapel.
HH: Nice picture. I know. Did he know about your supporting late term abortions?
TM: Sure, he knew he was.
HH: Is that teaching optional, Terry McAuliffe?
TM: Is what teaching optional?
HH: The Church’s teaching on the sanctity of life?
TM: Hey, listen, I have my views on my religious beliefs, Hugh, you’ve got yours.
HH: But I’m asking, do you think it’s…
TM: And you know, if you want to do a show on religious teaching, that’s fine. I’m talking about my book.
. . . HH: No, but it’s in the book all the time about how Catholic you are.
TM: It’s not how Catholic I am. I’m an Irish Catholic kid from Syracuse. It’s probably mentioned five times, Hugh, so please don’t incorrectly characterize my book to your listeners.
HH: Well, it’s in here a lot…
TM: If you want to talk about the book, talk about the facts as they exist. I know you’re a right wing whacko, but don’t make things up.
. . . I can't imagine a wedding outside a church.
I can't imagine Christmas without snow, either.
I can't imagine the World Series without the Yankees, cars without gas tanks, books without covers, Greenland without glaciers, living happily in Dallas, shopping at a mall, keeping ferrets as pets, any social situation in which Joe Lieberman is taken seriously, anybody but Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes, and a world in which I've been dead and forgotten so long that I might as well never have existed.
There's tradition, and there's what you're used to.
There's what is, and there's what you wish there was.
There's the world as it ought to be and there's the world as people have made it.
There's convention, there's culture, there's ritual, there's a right way and a wrong way, and then there are things people do because that's what people have always done and they're too stupid to imagine doing them any other way, even if an obviously better way has come along.
There's marriage, and then there's the desperately clung to notion of marriage of an unimaginative, ranting, and frustrated old man who sees the institution he has devoted his life to and in which he has now risen to the position of supposed ultimate authority disintegrating into irrelevance. Pope Benedict is seeing the end of the world as he knows it in Italy's taking steps to legally recognize the unions of unmarried couples. (Pssst, homosexuals are among us!)
. . .
Maybe if the Church hadn't spent centuries imposing and enforcing an idea of marriage that was horrifically unfair to half the people getting married and a trap and a curse to many among the other half. Maybe if it hadn't spent the last fifty years teaching that children are the result of Divine whimsicality and mood . . . Maybe if it hadn't spent the last forty years teaching that the simple application of science and common sense that would allow women to decide how many children they would have, allow some to even have them, is a sin . . . [then] people would think the Church had something useful and helpful to say about marriage . . .
And maybe if they hadn't spent all that time defending celibacy as an ideal at the expense of all others to the point that it made itself hospitable to no one but the closeted, the hypocritical, and the perverse, especially the perverse, so that it became a criminal organization of pederasts and their enablers. And maybe if when the scandal was revealed church leaders had responded with courage and honesty and admitted its guilt and taken the one, easy, intelligent step to ending the problem---allowing priests to get married, making the rectories homes for real adults and their families instead of hideouts for creeps and villains---instead of reacting with a hypocritical and self-defeating purge of homosexuals. Maybe if the Church acted as if it cared about its own survival, then people might think it had something to say about anything.
Just hum a few bars and see if they recognize it.
There's a bit of a funny discussion going on in the left blogosphere now about why conservatives aren't funny, inspired by a Townhall article which said it was all the fault of those mean, sneering librulls because conservatives are just too nice.
I'm not making this up.
I guess Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter would be just as funny as Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart if only they could become more callous.
Skippy adds his two cents here in his post titled two conservatives walk into a bar. they buy it, then raise the prices, then complain about welfare cheats wanting free peanuts. He quotes a Huffington Post comment that sums it up:
. . . conservatives are unfunny because a) they take themselves so damned seriously, and b) they don't know it. The left, though it also takes itself too seriously, has at least the virtue of knowing it. Our best comics realize this and make it work for them. They poke fun at the right, while not letting us forget our own foolishness and that of our "liberal" leaders . . . When conservatives like Limbaugh and Hannity try to do humor, it's not that they are being too nice to liberals that makes them unfunny. It's that they are being too nice to themselves. It's called self-righteousness.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Unnamed and unidentified "sources" have just leaked some really, really major news about Harper.
He's going to give a speech on Tuesday.
To the Canadian Club.
And its not just any old speech.
Nope, its going to be a "mini-throne speech" with the "broad strokes" of "major public policy" which will "highlight accomplishments".
And its even going to "include key messages" on "Harper's goals for the environment" -- which is breathlessly revealed to be "the burning issue on both Parliament Hill and in public opinion polls - sources say".
Oh, and this speech will "form the backbone" of an election platform. These "broad policy outlines" and the March budget "will be a one-two punch of Conservative ideas" and "a challenge to the opposition parties to come to the table with their own nascent platforms" -- because, after all, those other parties haven't really been announcing much of anything, I guess, while they have been waiting for Our Leader to challenge them.
Oh, and here's some more breaking news -- "several members of Harper's cabinet" are even expected to attend the speech. If they aren't too busy demonstrating leadership and resolve and truth and steadfastness and family values, I guess.
Unmentioned is that somebody in the Conservative communications office now owes Canadian Press big-time for reporting this press release just as if it were actually a news story.
Americablog's first post on the Snickers homophobic ad campaign. launched at the Superbowl, was timed at just after noon, at 12:37 pm to be exact.
The ad in question showed a mechanic eating a Snickers bar. Hi co-mechanic is so desirous of the Snickers that he starts eating it from the other end of the same bar that's already in the other guy's mouth. The two butch guys eat their way down the bar, like the dogs eating the same string of pasta in the Disney movie - until they're accidentally kissing. The guys, naturally, recoil in disgust - then, oddly, start ripping out their chest hair with their hands . . . Snickers has set up a Web site where ... you can watch recorded-live-on-video reactions of real Bears and Colts players watching and reacting to the ad, and you can even watch the ad with 3 additional endings not shown on TV. You then vote on the three endings and the most popular one will air during the Daytona 500 . . . the reactions of the Bears and Colts players to two guys kissing is outright disgust . . . [one of the additional endings] After the guys kiss, they say "I think we just accidentally kissed - quick, do something manly," and proceed to drink motor oil and I think anti-freeze - they guzzle it down, screaming at the top of their lungs, making them sick to their stomachs. The ad is vaguely violent - better to die than be gay.. . . [another ending]The two guys accidentally kiss, they say to each other again "quick, do something manly," and one guy proceeds to pick up a huge oversized wrench and violently attack the other guy, while the second takes the first and throws him under the hood of the car, slamming it down on his head. Yes, the appropriate reaction to a guy kissing you is to beat the crap out of the guy who kissed you. Maybe Snickers should rename this ad "Matthew Shepard." . . . The entire thing is absolutely sickening. And while I can appreciate that Snickers didn't overtly think that promoting violence against gays and lesbians is "funny," they knew what they were doing. They were gay-bashing for fun. And they didn't just cross the line - they left the line in the dust. . . . I've called the head of corporate public relations for Mars and am waiting to hear back. I've also talked with the lead press guy for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay civil rights group in the country, and they're not very happy, to put it lightly.
As the guy who launched the first-ever successful boycott of a TV show (StopDrLaura.com), I'm going to suggest to Mars that they had better nip this in the bud quickly, or they're not going to know what hit them.
Five hours and 200,000 visitors later, at 5:47 pm, John posted another message that the offending, offensive website was gone.
Masterfoods, Mars and Snickers parent company (or something), called to let me know that while humor is highly subjective, and their target market for the ads did give them positive feedback (that would be the neanderthal gay-bashing fans of Snickers?), they did not intend to offend anyone and will not be airing any of the four ads ever again, nor will they be airing the commentary from the NFL players responding to the ads. This includes not airing the ads during the Daytona 500Problem solved. Thanks, John.
It's not a plan; it's an advertising campaign.From the department of Yeah, That'll Happen:
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says he and three other premiers will try to convince officials in Washington to ease cross-border restrictions on Canadians travelling to the United States.While I can certainly see why Canadians would want the United States to change its passport rules, what I cannot see is why the US should ever do so -- especially with all the ex-CSIS people who've been running to the media in recent years complaining about how badly Canada is protecting the border.
If you liked the Lennie Briscoe Law & Order as much as we did, then don't miss Lance Mannion's The Ballad of Lennie Briscoe. His bit comparing George Bush to Frank Burns is pretty good, too.
I knew today's weddings were getting rather crass and boorish, but this one takes the cake, so to speak:
Dear Miss Manners:Words would fail me, but Miss Manners never does. She always comes up with the perfect bon mot putdown phrase:
What does one say to a friend who offers to sell one back one's wedding present? I gave her the gift some time before the wedding, which I was unable to attend. After the wedding, she approached me, said that she was unable to use my gift, and offered to sell it back to me. Suggestions for a civilized response would be appreciated.
"This came with my good wishes. I don't know what you think they are worth."
And finally, Editor and Publisher (via) gives us this great Molly Ivins story:
The line that ended her New York Times career came in a story about a community chicken-killing festival. Ms. Ivins called the event a ‘gang pluck,’ a choice of words that caused her to be ‘sort of abruptly recalled like a defective automobile and replaced,’ she told Salon.com in 2000.Apparently the NYT still wouldn't publish the offending phrase, even in her obituary. I think she got the last laugh.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Really, when you think about it, who else on planet Earth would be willing to serve as a character witness for Scooter Libby? Can't be a terribly large pool to choose from.
. . . many of us probably made a mistake four years ago in failing to state loudly what we thought was so obvious it didn't need saying: Any increase in tensions in the Middle-East endangers Israel. This was, of course, part of what we were saying when we warned that invading Iraq would further destabilize the region.Exactly. Israel has been fighting with its neighbours for 60 years, since 1947 -- coming up on three generations. The unnecessary war with Lebanon and Hezbollah last summer weakened Israel by demonstrating that its military strategy is not flawless, just as the war in Iraq has weakened America by demonstrating that its military strength is not decisive. Unfortunately, one result has been that now the warmongers in both Israel and the United States think they have something to prove.
There is no advantage to Israel in having its neighbors in violent turmoil to begin with - even less so if they believe they are the victims of a murderous campaign against them on Israel's behalf. There are far too many ways that such warfare can only end up with Israel the loser. The likelihood of any other outcome is slim; stoking the hatred of the Muslim world can only increase the likelihood that violence will overcome Israel's defenses.
If AIPAC is actively supporting candidates who oppose diplomacy, and thus actively working against a peaceful resolution in the Middle-East, then AIPAC is encouraging conditions that will most likely lead to the downfall of both Israel and America.
And all of our leading politicians, on both sides of the aisle, are hustling for AIPAC's money and essentially sucking up to the neocon cause.
I'm beginning to wonder if this insanity isn't what some people mean when they talk about "serious" critics of the war - that you have to support military aggression in the Middle-East because some crazy people have decided that such aggression will protect Israel, and therefore the only legitimate criticism is criticism of the way that aggression is carried out. That is, it's okay to criticize the administration for failing to fight a war to win it and failing to install democracy, but it's not really OK to criticize the administration for using US military aggression on behalf of Israel.
And that points to our real mistake: Not saying loudly enough that our military aggression endangers Israel.
If AIPAC goads the US into an unprovoked attack on Iran, and particularly if nuclear weapons are used, then both Israel and the US will become international pariahs.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Shorter Digby -- those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
Shorter Gilliard -- it's not Fort Apache, Baghdad, it's Little Big Horn.
Shorter Josh Marshall, here and here -- with friends like these...
And Skippy (via) says Boston is now looking for this terrorist who lives in a cave, "which, according to experts on the scene, makes him osama bin laden":
Friday, February 02, 2007
All I can say in response to this headline is: You've obviously mistaken me for someone who gives a shit!
If you haven't had time to read through the play-by-play of the Libby trial over at Firedoglake, just see Sidney Blumenthal's piece in Salon -- in a few paragraphs, it lays out the whole appalling story.
RossK draws our attention to the Conservatives' sleazy plan to swiftboat Stephane Dion -- they're planning to mock Dion's leadership abilities and his environmental record, when they haven't done anything in either area to boast about themselves. What wankers! Devin has the ads (h/t Beaver).