"Do not go gentle into that good night. Blog, blog against the dying of the light"
Thursday, August 30, 2007
The hockey player and the ballerina
Well, apparently not.
The story in Moscow is that the visit of Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya to the Canadian dressing room inspired Phil Esposito to win the Summit Series in 1972. Except that Esposito can't remember any such visit.
But why spoil a good story with the truth?
The only thing that matters
One of the most dangerous journeys we will ever take is down the birth canal. But in our recent zeal to make every human event into a kinder, gentler, personal growth experience, many now seem to think that women would have a better time giving birth at home with midwives instead of in hospital -- so cold and clinical and "medical" , you know.
What we cannot forget is this: the goal of childbirth is not that the mother should have a good birth experience. The goal is that the baby should be born alive and healthy.
Nothing else matters.
Yes, its personal for me -- my first pregnancy was absolutely normal in every way, but when I was in labour, on monitors, the doctors could see that my daughter was in trouble. They weren't sure exactly why her heartbeat kept dropping, but they finally recommended an emergency C-section.
Was I disappointed that I couldn't have a "natural" birth experience like all the books and movies promoted? Didn't matter. At that point, my own feelings were irrelevant. We just wanted our baby to born alive and healthy. And so she was.
When I got home, the first thing my neighbour said was how sorry she was that I had had a C-section. I will never forget how stunned I was by her remark. Sorry? SORRY? -- as if my own "childbirth experience" meant anything at all, compared to my baby. I told her I wasn't sorry in the least.
The various news stories about this midwife case indicate that this mother was in labour for 14 hours, the midwives were exhausted, the birth was breech, and when the unborn baby suffocated on meconium, nobody called for help.
The coroner said that midwives should improve their training, but the president of the Quebec Order of Midwives got pretty defensive about it:
"Nothing will change in the sense that we are already doing our very best to assure the safety of mothers, babies and their families."See what I mean? Its the safety of the babies that must be their first concern, not the mothers and certainly not the families (and why would the midwives association be dragging the families into it at all?)
If this case is an example of how midwives are already doing their "very best", well, it's just not good enough.
One day in the men's room
Two weeks ago, the kids and I went on a trip to visit friends in San Antonio, Texas. On the way we stopped at a rest area just off the interstate. What happened next made me very uneasy...
I was drinking coffee heavily so that I would stay awake and needed to relieve myself pretty badly. I pulled into a rest area, locked the car doors, left the kids sleeping in the car, and went into the restroom. When I entered I noticed it was unoccupied except for a pair of sneakers visible under the second stall.
As I unzipped at one of the urinals and began to relieve my burning bladder I heard a voice say "Hey, what's up?". I looked around and there was no one else in the restroom. After a moments hesitation, I answered "Not much".
A little time went by and he says, "What ya doing?".
I didn't feel very comfortable talking to someone in a stall but I didn't want to be rude and answered, "Uh...we are heading to San Antonio to visit friends."
"Want to come over?", he says.
At this point I am really uncomfortable and I finish up and scoot over to the sink to wash up. "No I don't think so", I replied. Wow, was this something else. I had never even had someone next to me with a wide stance before and now I've got someone in the stall asking me over!
As I reached for the paper towels to dry my hands I hear, "Hey man, can I call you back? There's some asshole in the bathroom answering every thing I say."
Oh, for pity's sake!
A judge is deciding on whether Truscott should receive compensation for the ten years he spent in jail -- for a crime he did not commit -- plus the lifetime of suspicion. And now the cheapskate judge is saying that because the Appeal Court had no DNA evidence on which to base a finding of innocence, therefore Truscott might not be entitled to compensation.
This is both stupid and cruel.
In 2000, then-Justice Critic Peter MacKay told the Commons:
. . . the Truscott case, as we know, has been a festering wound on the psyche of this nation and casts a shadow over the entire criminal justice system. The case against Truscott was based on ambiguous, circumstantial and inconsistent testimony from children, impossible medical analysis of the murder victim and Mr. Truscott himself . . .Now the Appeal Court has finally acquitted him.
He should have been acquitted in 1959. He should have spent the next ten years playing ball and studying algebra and learning to drive and going on dates and goofing around with his buddies. Instead, this is what our justice system did to him:
REQUIEM FOR A FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD
By: Pierre Berton
In Goderich town
The Sun abates
December is coming
And everyone waits:
In a small, dark room
On a small, hard bed
Lies a small, pale boy
Who is not quite dead.
The cell is lonely
The cell is cold
October is young
But the boy is old;
Too old to cringe
And too old to cry
Though young --
But never too young to die.
It's true enough
That we cannot brag
Of a national anthem
Or a national flag
And though our Vision
Is still in doubt
At last we've something to boast about:
We've a national law
In the name of the Queen
To hang a child
Who is just fourteen.
The law is clear:
It says we must
And in this country
The law is just
Sing heigh! Sing ho!
For justice blind
Makes no distinction
Of any kind;
Makes no allowances for sex or years,
A judge's feelings, a mother's tears;
Makes no allowances for age or youth
Just eye for eye and tooth for tooth
Tooth for tooth and eye for eye:
A child does murder
A child must die.
Don't fret ... don't worry ...
No need to cry
We'll only pretend he's going to die;
We're going to reprieve him
Bye and bye.
We're going to reprieve him
(We always do),
But it wouldn't be fair
If we told him, too
So we'll keep the secret
As long as we can
And hope that he'll take it
Like a man.
And when we've told him
It's just "pretend"
And he won't be strung
At a noose's end,
We'll send him away
And, like as not
Put him in prison
And let him rot.
The jury said "mercy"
And we agree --
O, merciful jury:
You and me.
Oh death can come
And death can go
Some deaths are sudden
And some are slow;
In a small cold cell
In October mild
Death comes each day
To a frightened child.
So muffle the drums and beat them slow,
Mute the strings and play them low,
Sing a lament and sing it well,
But not for the boy in the cold, dark cell,
Not for the parents, trembling-lipped,
Not for the judge who followed the script;
Save your prayers for the righteous ghouls
In that Higher Court who write the rules
For judge and jury and hangman too:
The Court composed of me and you.
In Goderich town
The trees turn red
The limbs go bare
As their leave are bled
And the days tick by
As the sky turns lead
For the small, scared boy
On the small, stark bed
Who is not quite dead.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Following the Yellow Brick Road
Check out the White House "fact sheet" about Bush's speech yesterday.
Titled Making America Safer by Defeating Extremists in the Middle East, with the subtitle "President Bush Explains Why Winning The Fight In Iraq Is Key To Countering The Ambitions Of Al Qaeda And Iran", it reads like it was written for a fifth grader. And its about as "factual" as the Wizard of Oz.
Hey, let's imagine it -- we'll have Bush as Dorothy and Condi as Toto. Petraus would be the Scarecrow, McConnell as the Tin Man, and Gates as the Lion. Cheney is, of course, the wizard. and the Iraqis are the Munchkins. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the Wicked Witch of the West.
But there are no good witches in this scenario.
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid aren't going to be waving any magic wands to get the Americans home from Iraq, no matter how hard the troops click their heels together.
So let's follow their yellow brick road. Here are some excerpts from the fact sheet -- the bold and underlined lines in the following are from the original:
. . . America is engaged in a great ideological struggle against violent Islamic extremists around the world, and the fight for the future of the Middle East is a key aspect of this struggle.On and on and on it goes, winding its way to that Emerald City way off in the distance, with the faint sound of trumpets in the air:
The Most Important And Immediate Way To Counter The Ambitions Of Al Qaeda, Iran, And Other Forces Of Instability And Terror In The Middle East Is To Win The Fight In Iraq.The challenge in Iraq comes down to this: either the forces of violent extremism succeed and our enemies advance their interests in Iraq, or the forces of freedom succeed and we advance our interests.
If Violent Extremists Were Allowed To Prevail In The Middle East, The Region Would Be Dramatically Transformed In A Way That Could Imperil The World
The Fight In Iraq Has A Direct Impact On The Safety Of Americans Here At Home. We have seen what violent extremists will do when American forces are actively engaged in Iraq, and we can envision what they would do if they were emboldened by American forces in retreat. For all those who ask whether the fight in Iraq is worth it, imagine an Iraq where militia groups backed by Iran control large parts of the country, and al Qaeda has established sanctuaries to safely plot future attacks on targets all over the world, including the U.S. Homeland – and they could use billions of dollars in oil revenues to buy weapons and pursue their deadly ambitions.
The Momentum Is On Now Our Side In Iraq – Our New Strategy Is Seizing The Initiative From Our Enemy, And Giving It To The Iraqi People. . .
Encouraging Developments At The Local Level . . . Making Gains In Other Important Areas . . . Signs Of Bottom Up Progress . . . Our Strategy Is Also Showing Results At The International Level . . . we will continue to rally the world to this noble and necessary cause...Sounds great, doesn't it? Wouldn't it be great to live in the world that these people think they're living in?
By contrast, here's what it's actually like in Iraq -- just a few of the headlines from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on Iraq Today:
The Missing inBut neither Bush nor Cheney care about any of this, not really.
Iraq Northern Iraqhit by major cholera outbreak
Aid agencies unable to gain access to violence-afflicted
More Iraqis Flee As Figure Tops Four Million: UNHCR
Active-Duty USTroops Become Outspoken Critics Of IraqWar
Lower school attendance expected in coming year
Iraqi Insurgents Using Bigger Rockets
surge sees 600,000 more Iraqis abandon home US
Violence hits Salahuddin Province
Depleted uranium threatens thousands of lives in Basra
Bush and Cheney aren't promoting the Iraq improvement fantasy because they care about Iraq. It's because they want to go on to Tehran. They really do believe that "Anyone can go to Baghdad but real men go to Tehran", but they don't think America will follow unless it believes that either they are "winning" in Iraq, or they WOULD win if only Iran were taken care of.
So if the Iraq part of Bush's speech was ridiculous, the Iran part was frighteningly delusional -- demanding regime change, implying a war against Iran has already begun, playing the nuclear card, fantasizing about the Islamic caliphate following the American army home:
. . . Iran has long been a source of trouble in the region. It is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. . . . Iran is sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which could be used to attack American and NATO troops. Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes and pose no threat to their regime. And Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.I'm not so sure America will go along with this program, not just because Bush says so. But Glenn Greenwald asks what is being done to stop it:
Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere.
. . . what would happen if these forces of radicalism and extremism are allowed to drive us out of the Middle East. . . . Iran could conclude that we were weak -- and could not stop them from gaining nuclear weapons. And once Iran had nuclear weapons, it would set off a nuclear arms race in the region.
Extremists would control a key part of the world's energy supply, could blackmail and sabotage the global economy. They could use billions of dollars of oil revenues to buy weapons and pursue their deadly ambitions. Our allies in the region would be under greater siege by the enemies of freedom. Early movements toward democracy in the region would be violently reversed. This scenario would be a disaster for the people of the Middle East, a danger to our friends and allies, and a direct threat to American peace and security. This is what the extremists plan. For the sake of our own security, we'll pursue our enemies, we'll persevere and we will prevail . . .
We seek an Iran whose government is accountable to its people -- instead of to leaders who promote terror and pursue the technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons . . .
Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people. Members of the Qods Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are supplying extremist groups with funding and weapons, including sophisticated IEDs. And with the assistance of Hezbollah, they've provided training for these violent forces inside of Iraq. Recently, coalition forces seized 240-millimeter rockets that had been manufactured in Iran this year and that had been provided to Iraqi extremist groups by Iranian agents. The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased in the last few months -- despite pledges by Iran to help stabilize the security situation in Iraq.
Some say Iran's leaders are not aware of what members of their own regime are doing. Others say Iran's leaders are actively seeking to provoke the West. Either way, they cannot escape responsibility for aiding attacks against coalition forces and the murder of innocent Iraqis. The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops. I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities . . .
As we march step by step with barely a debate towards a confrontation with Iran -- one that neoconservatives have long been proclaiming is inevitable -- are there any meaningful efforts to avert this? We frequently hear the slogan from war critics about Iraq that "hope is not a policy." The same is true with regard to preventing an attack on Iran.Clicking our heels and wishing we were somewhere else won't work either.
Great line of the day
...although Steven Truscott’s case is simply tragic, it does effectively answer those critics who claim that the Charter hasn’t really made a positive difference in Canadian society. Today Steven Truscott joined the ranks of countless innocent Canadians who have benefited profoundly from a constitutional document that is too often, in the public consciousness at least, associated with the guilty.Emphasis mine. Thanks to Dr. Dawg for the link.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Saskatchewan Party MLA Nancy Heppner said Tuesday the phrase “The Sask Party stood for privatization of the Crowns” dissolves for a split second and morphs into “The Sask Party stood for porn” before the words fade out completely.Its a weird ad all around -- the wolf in the sheep suit actually looks sorta cute, really, not scary at all, and having the words fade out is an odd and distracting gimmick, and the PORN letters do stay on screen a little longer than the other fade-outs do, so maybe there was a clumsy attempt at subliminal advertising here. See what you think:
“If it was done on purpose I think it’s reprehensible, and if it’s done accidentally it needs to be fixed,” Heppner said. “Either way it needs to be fixed . . .
But basically, isn't it sad when someone is so conflicted about their sexuality that they have to revile gay people publicly while they secretly look for love in public restrooms?
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Great photos of the day
It sorta sums up the whole story, doesn't it.
And here's another one from UOH. Remember this?
Well, the Naked Mayor is in the public spotlight once again. UOH flags this story:
Dick Harris MP for Cariboo-Prince George has named Houston Mayor and Conservative candidate Sharon Smith as the person that residents of Skeena-Bulkley Valley can contact when they have concerns or issues with the federal government.That's right, the Conservatives have unilaterally replaced NDP MP Nathan Cullen (remember him, Stephen? The man actually ELECTED to represent the people of Skeena-Bulkley Valley?) with The Naked Mayor. Other bloggers are covering the constitutional issues of this (here here here here here and here ) but the naked part is much more interesting.
The people of Skeena-Bulkley Valley must be so proud that the mayor is in the news again!
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Great line of the day
I wasn't super-optimistic that the 2006 midterms were going to cause us to adopt a sound Iraq policy, but I did think it would result in a less unsound one. Instead, we got the "surge" -- our policy actually got worse. I never believed that the infamous September reports were going to make policy more rational, but now it seems to me that they're getting worse . . .Emphasis mine.
I find it hard to find words to describe what a disaster it may be if the US ends up engineering the return to power of a grossly unpopular ex-Baathist ex-Prime Minister. It's as if people are trying their hardest to come up with policies designed to end with Muqtada al-Sadr marching at the head of a crowd shouting "Death to America" into the rapidly abandoned Green Zone sometime in 2010.
Believe your lying eyes?
The video is as plain as plain can be -- the undercover police were pretending to be anarchists and were carrying rocks to the front of the protest line. The middle-aged unionists and the mothers and the teenagers and the grandmothers were not carrying rocks. The police-anarchists refused to drop their rocks and move away in spite of Dave Coles yelling repeatedly at them, "This is our line!"
But now a Quebec police inspector says this:
"One of the extremists gave the rock to one of our police officers and he had a choice to make," Savard said.No, he was refusing to DROP it, not to throw it. And its pretty obvious to just about everybody. Take a look at some of the 170 comments following this CBC news story:
"He was asked by extremists to throw the rock at the police, but never had any intention of using it."
Why the rocks? Why the face masks? Why the fake arrest? Why the initial denial?Now our very own fool, Stockwell Day, has rushed in where angels fear to tread:
The official statements are some of the most clownish spin I've seen anywhere.
To the police. We, the public, for the most part accept that you must use deception in your fight against criminals. But this was deception against the very people you are supposedly sworn to protect, in this case, members of the public exercising their rights of free speech and public protest. I've joined a protest rally only once in my life, but your behaviour here is going to get me, and I guess a whole lot of grey-hairs like me, rethinking my complacency.
I'm afraid it's pretty clear what the officers intentions were. They were not there to keep the peace.
The video makes it EXTREMELY obvious that the union leaders were the ones to try to keep the peace in their ranks, and the three undercover agents were the ones trying to have the protest break out in violence.
This makes me wonder how much of the supposed "violence" attributes to protesters was incited by the police and right wing politicians.
"The thing that was interesting in this particular incident, three people in question were spotted by protesters because were not engaging in violence," Day said.As Dawg asks, Is he out of his mind? This isn't what happened at all -- what video Day was watching anyway? Maybe he had another Niagara Falls moment and started thinking that the man in the suit was the undercover cop while the guys in the masks were the protesters.
"They were being encouraged to throw rocks and they were not throwing rocks, it was the protesters who were throwing the rocks. That's the irony of this," Day said.
Day added the actions were substantiated by the video that he has seen of the protests.
"Because they were not engaging in violence, it was noted that they were probably not protesters. I think that's a bit of an indictment against the violent protesters," Day said.
I agree with Big City Lib:
. . . as a partisan Liberal I can only praise Allah that Public Security Minister Stockwell Day was kind enough to repeat this nonsense, thus dragging that Federal Conservatives right into the heart of the cover-up.Oh, wait -- maybe THIS was the video that Day watched:
Friday, August 24, 2007
The macaca moment
The basic attitude taken by the press (by editors and publishers, of course, as well as by political reporters) has been that the protesters were frivolous and paranoid, the protests were violent and costly, and the police had every right to keep these nutcases far away from Our Very Serious Leaders Who Are Only Trying To Do What's Best For Us All.
The QPP agent provocateur story is a chink in the wall to change that attitude.
Protesters have been saying for years that authorities are trying to discredit protests by infiltration and underhanded tactics -- a hard case to make when the complaints are dismissed as paranoid nuts. But just as video exposed George Allan's "macaca" racism, video has now exposed the inept police "provocateurs" -- who quite obviously intended to provoke violence until the crowd stopped them. As Chet notes, the masks, anarchist outfits, and rocks were not just a fashion statement.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Who was that masked man?
. . . Quebec's provincial force has flatly denied that its officers were involved in the incident.August 23:
Quebec provincial police admitted Thursday that three of their officers disguised themselves as demonstrators during the protest at the North American leaders summit in Montebello, Que.Now, what does this all remind me of? Oh, yes, Teh Shorter!
Shorter Quebec Provincial Police: Hey, were these the guys you were asking about?
Oh, we thought you meant these guys:
President Bush summoned up the Alden Pyle CIA agent character of Graham Greene's classic Vietnam novel "The Quiet American" which is essentially a contemplation on the road to hell being paved with good intentions. . . . By reminding people of Greene's book, Bush was inviting listeners to recall the mistakes his administration made in entering and prosecuting the Iraq War. Did he really want to do that?Well, golly! Maybe Bush actually meant to say Gomer Pyle?
Or even Goober Pyle?
Great line of the day
There's no longer any doubt about the master narrative of the Bush Administration. Their purpose is to re-litigate the 1970s. Nixon's downfall, let alone all that followed, clearly has stuck in Cheney's craw . . .So when the 70s-era GOP asked "Do you think I'm sexy?", the answer they got was "No".
So what's next? . . . I'm putting my money on an attempt by GOP culure warriors to expunge disco from the national memory. Don't you have a feeling that this crowd is still in a world o' hurt from humiliations they suffered beneath a twirling mirrored ball yea many generations ago?
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
"in the best interests of police"
More here also at Canadian Cynic and Rusty Idols and an update from CBC on today's press conference.
There is, of course, no proof yet of anything untoward, and may never be, but a retired police officer contributes this to the discussion:
... a retired Ottawa police officer who was formerly in charge of overseeing demonstrations for the force said he questions who the masked men really are, after viewing the video.I'm not sure I understood this comment, but I thought it was an interesting perspective that it would be "in the best interests of police" to instigate a violent riot.
"Were they legitimate protesters? I don’t think so," said Doug Kirkland.
"Well, if they weren't police, I think they might well have been working in the best interests of police."
He added that if the situation was as it appeared, he did not approve of the tactic. "It's pretty close to baiting," he said.
Donald Segretti would be so proud!
"This is our line"
Here is the YouTube video of the Montebello protest where Paperworkers union president Dave Coles outed three 'agents provocateurs' who may have been trying to start more riots:
. . . Coles makes it clear the masked men are not welcome among his group of protesters, whom he describes as mainly grandparents. He urges them to leave and find their own protest location.I looked through various websites to find these photos, but I couldn't find them.
Coles also demands that they put down their rocks. Other protesters begin to chime in that the three are really police agents. Several try to snatch the bandanas from their faces.
Rather than leave, the three actually start edging closer to the police line, where they appear to engage in discussions. They eventually push their way past an officer, whereupon other police shove them to the ground and handcuff them.
Late Tuesday, photographs taken by another protester surfaced, showing the trio lying prone on the ground. The photos show the soles of their boots adorned by yellow triangles. A police officer kneeling beside the men has an identical yellow triangle on the sole of his boot.
Kevin Skerrett, a protester with the group Nowar-Paix, said the photos and video together present powerful evidence that the men were actually undercover police officers.
"I think the circumstantial evidence is very powerful," he said.
The three do not appear to have been arrested or charged with any offence.
The tone adopted by the media toward the protest coverage was, as usual, dismissive, describing protesters as "die-hards" and with headlines like Protests fizzle on Day 2 of summit. There was also supposed to be a "protest-cam" set up so that video of the protests could be broadcast to the hotel lobby (not that Harper or Bush would have looked at them) but this got derailed when the camera team was assaulted by protesters -- or were they actually protesters?
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Home sweet home
1. Cockburn, Western AustraliaThey missed Moose Jaw!
2. Twatt, Scotland
3. Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu, New Zealand
4. Muff, Ireland
5. Looneyville, Texas
6. Titty Hill, Sussex, England
7. Thong, Kent, England
8. Gravesend, Kent, England
9. Wetwang, Yorkshire.
10. Spread Eagle, Wisconsin
11. Bald Knob, Arkansas, United States
12. Cockup, Cumbria, England
13. Whiskey Dick Mountain, Washington State
14. Hookersville, West Virginia
15. Hell, Michigan
16. Toad Suck, Arkansas
17. Middelfart, Denmark
18. Horneytown, North Carolina
19. Shitterton, Dorset, England
20. Disappointment, Kentucky
21. Fuking, Austria
This list apparently originated on a travel website which I couldn't open. So I don't know who put it together, but a number of blogs have it now.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
this news story.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Alison writes about how American wingnuts like John Birchers and Swift Boaters and Minutemen are attacking the Security and Prosperity Partnership -- and as a result, American progressives are taking the equal and opposite reaction by minimizing it.
Chet Scoville (formerly The Green Knight) summarizes the whole SPP history and controversy here.
The problem, of course, is that while Canadian progressives are worried about our social programs, our economy, our treaties, our independence -- in fact, our whole damn country -- the American wingnuts aren't thinking much about us at all.
It's the Mexican part of SPP that scares them -- just another manifestation of their hysterical "illegal brown people are flooding into our country and taking all our jobs" schtick.
Canada isn't really on their horizon at all -- we are just a bunch of weak-kneed lefties who let the 911 terrorists in. The American wingnut attitude toward Canada is summed up by this quote, reportedly from Tucker Carlson:
[Canada]"is like your retarded cousin you see at Thanksgiving … he’s nice but you don’t take him seriously."Fear of Mexicans is a dominant theme of the 2006 announcement about the Coalition to Block the North American Union:
. . . [the partnership] would erase U.S. borders, replace the dollar with the "amero," and lead to unlimited immigration . . . the "Trans-Texas Corridor" is designed to function as a NAFTA super-highway, opening Mexican ports with Red Chinese goods from Mexican trucks and trains to move north into the center of the United States. . .No wonder American progressives are reluctant to make any common cause with these guys.
The Americans on both sides of this divide also have a strange obsession with the "NAFTA superhighway" aspect, as if the only way that a "partnership" could be achieved between the United States, Mexico and Canada is with an actual road.
Even the progressive commenters to Chet's post demonstrate this misconception. The wingnuts envisage convoys of rattletrap Mexican semi-trailers roaring northward full of shoddy Chinese toys, while the progressives ridicule SPP as a flap about road construction.
But one American commenter on Alison's site is still very reassuring, even on that point. Orc, who blogs at This Space for Rent -- about trains and bees and other interesting stuff -- reminds us of a crucial fact:
. . . don't forget that the SPP is ... being planned by a collection of conservative governments here; modern conservatives don't build, they pillage and destroy, and I have the highest confidence that the new highways will dissolve in a whirlpool of embezzled funds.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Demoted in plain sight
When I saw last night that Canada's Gnu Government(c) had produced a 45-page press release about the cabinet shuffle, I wondered if there was something buried in those pages. This time, Harper's press release included a list of cabinet committee memberships, which his February 2006 cabinet announcement had ignored.
Well, surprise surprise -- turns out there WAS something more.
Finance minister Jim Flaherty has been bumped from the leadership of the treasury board and economic growth committees. Is this a significant demotion for Flaherty? Yes, I think so. While the Budget sets overall directions once a year, it is at Treasury Board (now vice-chaired by Rona Ambrose) where the day-to-day decisions are made about whether ministers will have the money they want for their departments, and it is Economic Growth (now chaired by David Emerson) which sets key economic development policies.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Great line of the day
The moral failure was in invading Iraq. It was the original sin from which all these horrors have sprung. To even imply that the majority of Americans who now want to rectify that terrible decision by removing ourselves from the situation will be morally responsible for this mess is an outrage.Emphasis mine.
I love these lectures and feelings of "disgust" coming from people who apparently still maintain that it was perfectly fine to ignore international law and invade a country for no good reason and turn it into a chaotic hellhole. No moral culpability required for that, no admission of guilt, but lots and lots of sanctimonious posturing about how we will have blood on our hands if the US admits its mistake and withdraws. The obtuseness of that position takes my breath away. We already have so much blood on our hands that it's dripping into everything we touch.
Not all the nation's ills can be blamed on President Bush, Democratic candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday . . .Well, yes. I suppose we can also blame the millions who voted for him.
Actually, of course, Obama has a point -- Americans have to get beyond the politics of personality and start evaluating presidential candidates based on what they want to do and how likely they are to be able to do it.
Which is particularly difficult with a press that love to report on personality because its so much easier than actually reading policy statements and doing some research -- yes, actual research! -- to determine how realistic the policy statements actually are.
Your typical national media reporter seems to take the Calvin-and-Hobbes approach to research:
Personally, I favour Barak Obama and John Edwards in the US presidential race.
Calvin: I've got to write a report for school. Bats. Can you imagine anything more stupid? Heck, I don't know anything about bats! How am I supposed to write a report on a subject I know nothing about?! It's impossible!
Hobbes: I suppose research is out of the question.
Calvin: Oh, like I'm going to learn about bats and then write a report?! Give me a break!
Calvin: Hello, Susie? This is Calvin. You know this report we're supposed to write for school? Yeah. My topic is bats. What's yours? Elephants? Hmm. Well, are you going to the library to look up elephants? You are? Great! While you're there, could you research bats too and make copies of all the information you find, and maybe underline the important parts for me and sort of outline it, so I wouldn't have to read it all?
Hobbes: How'd it go?
Calvin: I really loathe girls.
Calvin: I think we've got enough information now, don't you?
Hobbes: All we have is one "fact" you made up.
Calvin: That's plenty. By the time we add an introduction, a few illustrations, and a conclusion, it will look like a graduate thesis. Besides, I've got a secret weapon that will guarantee a good grade! No teacher can resist this! A clear plastic binder! Pretty professional looking, eh?
Hobbes: I don't want co-author credit on this, OK?
Hillary would likely be able to do the job OK, too, I guess, but my problem with her is that she hasn't yet been able to tell anybody why she wants to be president. Obama wants to change politics in America and Edwards wants to change the American economy -- either one would be a worthwhile achievement.
Simple answers to simple questions
Well, aren't we glad that THAT's over!
See, there was some temperature data which measured the "hottest year on record" in the United States and it turns out the data was wrong -- by 0.1 degrees -- so as a result 1998 is NOT the hottest year on record, it was 1934, so now all the wingnuts are declaring that global warming is nothing to worry about anymore.
Well, that's a relief, isn't it?
We know we can always take the word of Mark Steyn over any actual scientist.
Of course, Dave is still concerned -- what a worrywart...
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
More photos I liked
Two-day-old baby giraffe Inge nuzzles her mother Elli, in Tierpark Berlin zoo August 3, 2007.
The cutline for this AFP photo just says "Tingo and Magda"
These are both from the Cute Overload website, Pups section, and I couldn't resist sharing them.
Somebody might suspect that we are wanting a new puppy, and somebody would be right ...
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Let the finger pointing begin!
I hope Commissioner Elliot realizes, very soon, that he is no longer a civil servant sworn to protect his Minister at all costs. Now, as RCMP Commissioner, he is sworn to protect the public "without fear, favour or affection of or toward any person".
Usually, these are not competing interests. But occasionally they are.
That his first announcement was an admission of censoring the Arar report was not an auspicious beginning:
“Given what we now know about what they are trying to suppress, it's obviously a concern that the person who is now accountable for the RCMP took such a limited view of the public's right to know about the errors and mistakes committed by the force,” said Lorne Waldman, a lawyer acting for Mr. Arar.The finger pointing between the civil servants and the politicians about who actually made and approved the deletions has already begun. First, Elliot said
...“The fact that the new RCMP commissioner appears to have been involved in this process is going to pose a challenge to him as he tries to demonstrate that he's turning a new page at the RCMP,” said NDP Leader Jack Layton.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said in an interview that “the key point for me today is not Mr. Elliott, it is which ministers decided on this unacceptable level of transparency for the Canadian people.”
“I was certainly involved in the process leading to that decision, but that decision was a decision taken by government"Then a spokesperson from Stockwell Day's office said:
“senior officials from various departments” decided to block out the passages before the government signed off on the recommendations."So basically, we've got an "I didn't do it" game going on here.
But wait, there's more!
To explain why the deletions were made -- apparently its because we don't want the CIA and the FBI mad at us -- some supercilious fop "official" formulates one of the dumbest analogies I've ever heard:
Foreign intelligence is not viewed as fundamentally different from any other borrowed good or service. For that reason, Canada is wary of passing along secrets it gets from other sources, or even pointing to those sources.No wonder the inventor of this allegory "declined to be identified" -- did he think Maher Arar's freedom, citizenship, dignity and future were the "load taken to the dump" or the "Slurpee"?
“If you borrow your neighbour's pickup truck to haul a load to the dump, you don't give the keys to the kids to go for a Slurpee at the 7-Eleven,” said one official who declined to be identified. “Intellectually, it's not a difficult concept to grasp.”
Friday, August 10, 2007
Great line of the day
. . . the Gore vigil points out the weakness in the Democratic field. Progressive Democrats in particular are terrified. We're terrified because we are faced with a party that seems to want to lose. . . bipartisanship now means "Do it the Republican way", as we saw with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid's disgraceful performance in dealing with the FISA legislation last weekend.Emphasis mine.
John Edwards, despite his aw-shucks demeanor and his preposterously youthful appearance, really is the one guy who's shown the stones to take them on. Hillary gives lip service to it, but someone who's hobnobbed with Rupert Murdoch can't be trusted to not buy into "Do it the Republican way." Obama, having been mentored by Joe Lieberman, talks about "changing the tone", but doesn't seem to realize that the tone CAN'T be changed. Chris Dodd has found his voice a decade too late. Only John Edwards is out there telling the Republicans to go fuck themselves -- and that is why there is this concerted effort to destroy his candidacy. Even Schaller has bought into the meme of the inevitability of an Edwards collapse.
It's very disheartening to watch the process play out this way and watch the Democrats getting ready to fall into the trap once again. Does anyone honestly believe that President Hillary Clinton will get us out of Iraq, keep us out of Iran, put Israel's feet to the fire on human rights, stop the relentless march of American jobs to Bangalore and elsewhere, AND institute not just universal health INSURANCE, but national heath CARE? If so, they're as deluded as those who think that Mitt Romney's sons are doing their part for the war effort.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
"..where they can have their way with him"
Read this section from Page 245 (formerly redacted section shown in bold) for a demonstration of this attitude:
In October 2002, CSIS officials knew that the United States might have sent Mr. Arar to a country where he could be questioned in a “firm manner.” In a report to his superiors dated October 11, 2002, the CSIS security liaison officer (SLO) in Washington spoke of a trend they had noted lately that when the CIA or FBI cannot legally hold a terrorist subject, or wish a target questioned in a firm manner, they have them rendered to countries willing to fulfill that role. He said Mr. Arar was a case in point.The terminology here makes me sick - "questioned in a firm manner", "where they can have their way with him" They're talking about torture, but they don't appear to care. Neither, apparently, did the CIA.
On October 10, 2002, Mr. Hooper stated in a memorandum: “I think the U.S. would like to get Arar to Jordan where they can have their way with him.” Mr. Arar’s whereabouts were unknown at the time.
Here we go again
. . . U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab this week accused Canada of shipping too much lumber to the United States, and hence violating a bilateral agreement aimed at ending the long-running dispute.Yeah, well, since when has being wrong ever mattered to the elephant next door?
Ms. Schwab launched arbitration hearings, which Canadian officials insist they are confident of winning.
Learning from the Bush administration
Three weeks ago, late on a Friday night, the military released a report into the friendly-fire incident in which one Canadian soldier was killed and 30 others wounded after an American A-10A attack plane accidentally strafed members of the Royal Canadian Regiment at Ma'sum Ghar.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Nope, not at Yearly Kos. He was at Transvision 2007, which Roy informs us, will help us live forever provided we like doing it in silicone.
Personally, I have wanted to try some of the new silicone cookwear, which is "colorful, nonstick, stain-resistant, hard-wearing, cools quickly, and tolerates extremes of temperature" -- though perhaps it is a somewhat different kind of silicone that the Transvision people are proposing freezer-wrap my personality.
Anyway, back to William Shatner, who is, after all, Canada's own. A reporter for New City Chicago describes Shatner's appearance:
...as the minute hand moves a good half hour beyond Captain Kirk’s scheduled time of arrival, it’s clear that an excited anticipation has swept over the growing crowd. And while the audience only swells to fill half the small Field Museum auditorium, it’s still noticeably larger than for any of the day’s previous presentations. Finally, a speaker approaches the stage to introduce the man of the hour, and after a short, bizarre video featuring a "Star Trek"/James Bond mash-up to transhumanist lyrics like "We can live forever and make everything better!" Shatner takes the stage.When you think about it, how many other keynote speakers could have come up with that connection?
It doesn’t take long for his cool demeanor and slight self-deprecation to get the audience laughing, and it provides a welcome shot of levity into an otherwise far-too-serious afternoon. Whereas speakers like Philippe Van Nedervelde warned of futuristic Unabombers who would blow the planet to pieces with nanotech nukes—and then went on to propose the use of microscopic cameras to perpetually monitor the population and preemptively exterminate "dangerous" individuals—Shatner keeps it lighthearted (and a lot less horrifying). "Why should any of you care about a science-fiction series?" he asks the crowd before coming up with his own response: "This whole vision of the World Transhumanist Association…very Trek-like."
And if reading this post made you regret missing the whole speech, maybe you need to take The Standardized Should I Stalk William Shatner Test.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Getting Iraq right was simple
It was, I think, an easy decision -- for three reasons:
First, though Iraq's leader was a murderous meglomaniac, his regional ambitions were completely contained by economic sanctions and the no-fly zones. Hussein even agreed to let the UN weapons inspectors back. They couldn't find anything much.
Second, Iraq had not attacked the United States or Britain or Israel. No nation has any right to launch a preemptive war, not without compelling evidence of immediate threat. And that's what the United Nations was set up to evaluate -- thus we reach the third point. In spite of the worldwide sympathy and support given to the United States after 9/11 and in spite of all the diplomatic pressure exerted around the world by the US and Britain, not even a significant minority of the UN Security Council were willing to support war on Iraq. If you can't get the UN to support you, that's a pretty big clue that something is wrong.
Therefore, ipso facto and quid pro quo, the war was a bad idea.
Michael Ignatieff wrote an article in the New York Times exploring why he was wrong about Iraq, and both Brad DeLong and Matthew Yglesias have critiqued it.
Ignatieff first looks at why he made the mistake of wanting to invade Iraq. Turns out, it was all Harvard's fault:
In academic life, false ideas are merely false and useless ones can be fun to play with. In political life, false ideas can ruin the lives of millions and useless ones can waste precious resources. An intellectual’s responsibility for his ideas is to follow their consequences wherever they may lead. A politician’s responsibility is to master those consequences and prevent them from doing harm.But Yglesias notes that many actual academics opposed the war. It was the neocon "scholars" of the AEI and the Weekly Standard who pushed it:
The war's foci of intellectual support were in the institutions of the conservative movement, and in the DC think tanks and the punditocracy where the war had a lot of non-conservative support. People with relevant academic expertise -- notably people who weren't really on the left politically -- were massively opposed to the war. To imply the reverse is to substantially obscure one of the main lessons of the war, namely that we should pay more attention to what regional experts think and give substantially less credence to the idea that think tankers are really "independent" of political machinations.Delong takes issue with Ignatieff's definition of "academic" thinking:
I think what Michael Ignatieff is talking about is not an academic mode of thought but a student mode of thought--a not-too-bright-student mode of thought. A not-too-bright student achieves success by (a) figuring out which book on the syllabus is favored by the instructor, (b) taking that book to be the gospel, and (c) regurgitating large chunks of that book on the exams and in the papers.Getting back to Ignatieff's article, he also asks why Bush made the mistake of wanting to invade Iraq. Turns out it was all the fault of his own ego:
I should have known that emotions in politics, as in life, tend to be self-justifying and in matters of ultimate political judgment, nothing, not even your own feelings, should be held immune from the burden of justification through cross-examination and argument.
Good judgment in politics, it turns out, depends on being a critical judge of yourself. It was not merely that the president did not take the care to understand Iraq. He also did not take the care to understand himself. The sense of reality that might have saved him from catastrophe would have taken the form of some warning bell sounding inside, alerting him that he did not know what he was doing. But then, it is doubtful that warning bells had ever sounded in him before. He had led a charmed life, and in charmed lives warning bells do not sound.
People with good judgment listen to warning bells within.
But the "warning bell" rang for me, and for the world, when the United Nations wouldn't support it. The United States and Britain should have listened. Chretien got it right:
The White House said Friday it wants Saddam Hussein ousted even if Baghdad disarms, a stand that immediately provoked a sharp response from Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who said the United States can't just wander the world changing regimes it doesn't like.Yes, and it still is.
Mr. Chrétien, on an official visit to Mexico, reacted with dismay when told of the White House's unflinching insistence on regime change. The demand was stressed by White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, who said the administration's goal is "disarmament and regime change."
"Myself, I think that the consequences can be very grave when we go for a change in regime," the Prime Minister said in French. "... When are we going to go elsewhere? Who's going to be next? ... This is a very dangerous concept."
Seems to me the United States and Canada have both tried something like this before.
And people died to get it stopped:
And we're not finished yet. This was in Toronto, in 2004:
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Great line of the day
Twenty years ago, everybody in this country (give or take a baker’s million blazing nutjobs) understood that the use of nuclear weapons was a cataclysmic, final act of madness, a step towards global suicide to be avoided at (almost) any cost. Now, absent an enemy with any real ability to do us harm, the idea that nuclear weapons should be available to use on caves full of crazy idiots armed with weapons that were the height of military sophistication approximately seventy years ago, this idea is the conventional wisdom? Of the Democratic Party? The party that ostensibly wants to end the war in Iraq? Where have you gone, Robert McNamara / A nation turns its loony eyes to you, doot doot doo.Emphasis mine.
What the fuck, seriously. What. The. Fucking. Fuck. I want off this ball, blundering downhill. I want to go home, to the nation I imagined I lived in. I want to stop caring about politics, about blogs, about far-off presidential primaries: I want everything right-side out and forwards again, you blinkered, blithering, warmongering establishment bastards. It’s enough to drive a lad to the barricades, it is. Just let me finish this Badminton game.
Compare and contrast
In Canada, gay legislators get married.
Great post of the day
Peter was the kindest man I ever met. I moved into his old house one winter in the early nineties. Rent was $235/month, there was a shared kitchen and showers and 7 tenants. On the ground floor lived the landlord - Peter, and his Japanese wife.Read the whole story.
I lived there three years. They were thin, cold years for me . . . Peter let me work a lot of my rent off with jobs around the house. I painted this or that, under careful supervision I did plumbing work; I shoveled snow; and I laid bricks. Peter taught me how to learn . . .
Peter was old. He had been born in Germany. And he had fought for Hitler.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Too soon old and too late smart
His stats were right, but he chattered on about how race in America was not as much of an issue until the 1970s and how Henderson's goal didn't mean anything outside of the Canadian hockey world --- and as we listened, we realized: he was getting it all wrong!
We lived through those years, and so we know.
You young whippersnapper, it just didn't happen that way!
And I guess I'm turning into an old crank pretty fast. I might as well face it -- I'm going to be hearing more and more errors like these from now on, as more and more of the people who are broadcasters and journalists and talk-show hosts and actors and writers are just too young to actually remember the 60s and 70s.
It's a human trait, I guess. In western society at least, any time period before we were born is "old-fashioned" and "quaint"; basically, we all feel that nothing happened in the past that could possibly have meant as much to anyone as the things that are happening now.
Wolcott has some comments today along the same lines. He's blogging about a new TV show called Mad Men, which purports to be set in the New York advertising agencies of the 1960s. He quoted a comment about it:
People, people. You can't really think that human beings in 1960 were really like this! These are mirages, twists of smoke. The ad men of that time were lethal motherfuckers, profane and funny, exhausted, bleary-eyed, and really smart with ivy league degrees on their resumes. And the women were not zombies who stood around overdressed in kitchens smoking with their dish washing gloves on. In fact, no one in this show seems to know how to smoke. I wanted to physically shake the divorcee's arm to unfreeze it, and tell her use the prop and not let the prop use her. Yes, everybody smoked then but it didn't look like this. . .You know those lists of attributes of today's college students that professors are supposed to understand -- they don't remember the Soviet Union, they've always had cell phones and computers and half-pipes, they don't remember Kim Campbell.
The list of wrong things in this show is nearly endless, but it's not just the verisimilitude that sucks, it's the way they missed the mood of the period. This was a time of urgency, when modernism was feverish and drove everything in the city and the post war suburbs seemed to be as much a part of that rush to the future as Madison Avenue. This show is a shadow play on a wall, completely without dimension.
Well, maybe today's 30-somethings need a list of little-known facts about the 60s and 70s -- like, for example, that Paul Henderson's goal was a defining moment for everyone in Canada, not just for hockey fans.
There -- that'll learn 'em!
Friday, August 03, 2007
Some photos I liked
Anak, a 31-year-old Orang Utan, holds her five-day-old baby Apie in her arms in Ouwehands Zoo in Rhenen, central Netherlands.
Andy at rest: Andy, one of three lion cubs sits in his basket at the Serengeti-Park in the north-western German town of Hodenghagen.
Gaza beach : A Palestinian rides a camel as people enjoy a day at the beach in Gaza City.
A man plays with his daughter next to the Kukulkan pyramid at the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Good news for barley farmers
A court decision has derailed, at least temporarily, the federal government's plan to strip the Canadian Wheat Board of its monopoly on western barley sales.Not only could be, but would be.
Federal Court Judge Dolores Hansen ruled Tuesday the Tory cabinet overstepped its authority earlier this year when it passed a new regulation to allow farmers to sell their barley independently.
"I conclude the new regulation is ultra vires (beyond cabinet's power) and of no force and effect," Hansen wrote.
The judge sided with supporters of the wheat board, who argued any changes to the board's monopoly must be made via a law passed in Parliament - something that could be blocked by the opposition.
The disingenuous aspect of the issue is this: the federal Conservatives keep saying that 62 per cent of farmers voted for 'marketing choice". But did they? Not really. While just over one-third of 30,000 barley producers voted that the Canadian Wheat Board should retain the "single desk" (ie, monopoly of barley marketing), only 14 per cent of producers said the Board "should have no role in marketing barley." In other words, a large majority of barley producers want the Canadian Wheat Board to continue handling barley. But in reality, without their monopoly the Board actually couldn't do it.
Here's why. The CWB is not a grain company like, say, United Grain Growers or the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. The CWB doesn't own or manage elevators, nor does it manufacture or process a product. It doesn't actually "make a profit".
So here is how things would work if the CWB continued to purchase barley from farmers. It would probably repeat what happened from 1935 to 1939 when there was "dual marketing" for wheat -- for the Board, it wasn't pretty:
The result of a voluntary CWB or dual market was that when the initial payment turned out to be above the world price the CWB got all the wheat and paid farmers the difference between the "world price" and the initial payment. When the initial payment was lower than the "world price" the CWB got no wheat and the trade received all the wheat and hence all the profit.So without a monopoly, why should the CWB continue to purchase anyone's barley at all? They would just lose money.
As a non-lawyer, the Canadian Wheat Board Act seems pretty clear to me -- Part Five says that the jurisdiction of the Board can be extended to Oats and Barley by Cabinet regulation, but that excluding wheat or barley from CWB jurisdiction is to be done by Parliament. And the federal court judge basically said this too, if I understand her statement correctly.