Friday, February 29, 2008

Great line of the day

Dana at Galloping Beaver writes about Harper's law and order obsession:
There are some who understand just how much the Harperites intend to legislate changes in the culture of the country.
Unfortunately none of them are sitting on the opposition benches.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


From I Can Has Cheezburger, via TRex

Well, duh!

Ottawa loses Wheat Board battle
The federal government has lost a court battle over the Canadian Wheat Board.
The Federal Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court ruling which said the Conservative cabinet exceeded its power when it tried to strip the wheat board of its barley monopoly.
Of course they lost -- the legislation is quite clear that if Ottawa wants to take the barley monopoly away from the Wheat Board they have to do it in Parliament, not by just a Cabinet order.
Just one more reason not to elect a Harper majority government.

Hot stuff

When I saw this story, I thought of this song.


Shorter Brian Mulroney:
I'll do absolutely anything to clear my name...except tell anyone what actually happened.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Great line of the day

Tbogg, talking about Ralph Nader running for president again:
Ralph Nader is like Abe Vigoda; if people don't hear from him every once in awhile, they think he's dead.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Strange bedfellows

The sympathetic tone of some of the coverage about the Anglican church rift is hard to believe.
These so-called Christians, however personable and charming and soft-spoken are bigots, using the cover of religion to inflate their hateful prejudices into some kind of divine mission.
Just like Fred Phelps has done.
And when you find yourself on the same page as Fred Phelps -- well now, I would consider that as a pretty clear sign from God that you'd better reconsider.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Great line of the day

From James Wolcott, talking about how sexism is still alive and well among privileged white men:
...underneath the trash talk is the even more unattractive noise of white men whining because things aren't like they used to be. No, they are not. This news should have reached you by now and soaked in. Things haven't been like they used to be for about thirty years now, hell, maybe forty. So set your inner Pat Buchanan free in that patchy stretch of woods along the interstate and accept the reality of women's equality without being such a bullying baby about it.
Emphasis mine.
I used to tolerate it when older men said they just couldn't deal with women as equals, but I don't anymore. Iron this, buddy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who

There's a new 'high-profile' report just been published by an unnamed and unelected group of 13 'academics and former diplomats' from 'both sides' who want Canada to turn the Arctic over to the United States.
Oops, sorry, not at all -- how could I be so paranoid?
They want Canada and the United States to "jointly manage Arctic waters".
Of course, us Canadians are just so paranoid. As Rob Huebert of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary describes it:
"The problem for the Canadian leader is: how do you actually start talking to the Americans without immediately having accusations that you're selling out on Canadian sovereignty?"
How indeed? Because, of course, that is exactly what you are doing, however glibly you might fling around phrases like "maximizing burden-sharing opportunities".
It sounds like the report features all the usual suspects:
The group has sent a list of nine recommendations to the two governments. They include a suggestion that the U.S. and Canada jointly develop rules on stopping ships in northern waters and on environmental, navigation and safety standards. They also call on the two countries to co-operate on immigration, search and rescue, and surveillance.
Immigration? Surveillance? How many people are crossing the North Pole illegally these days?
Oh, yeah. Them!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

Alternate universes

Neil Kitson presents a vision of an alternate universe:
...let's imagine it the other way around. The Gigantic Islamic Republic of Asia (population one billion) decides that Canada is a failed state. The government of Canada is replaced by Shariah law, and 2,500 Afghan troops are dispatched . . . to oversee the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Sudbury. You can see how this would work. None of the Afghans speak English, so some local "terps" are hired to deal with the natives. The whole of the Afghan detachment would fit comfortably into the Sudbury Arena for a hockey game. Do these guys play hockey?
Various forward operational bases are established at North Bay and Sault St. Marie, but casualties are incurred during routine transport, and only helicopters are deemed safe. German tanks worth one billion euros are parked in Sudbury and forgotten. Unrest begins at home, but people are told "we might be in North America for 100 years," and "Muslims don't cut and run."
Meanwhile, Eric Margolis describes what is happening in the real world -- the one where Europeans "regard the Afghan conflict as a. wrong and immoral; b. America’s war; c. all about oil; and d. probably lost." So another side-effect of the Afghanistan war will be the breaking of NATO:
Europeans increasingly ask why they need the US-dominated military alliance, a Cold War relic, in which they continue to play foot soldiers to America’s atomic knights . . . Why does the rich, powerful European Union even need NATO any more? The Soviet threat is gone – at least for now. Nuclear-armed France and Britain are quite capable of defending Europe against outside threats. Why cannot the new European Defense Force take over NATO’s role of defending Europe and protecting EU interests? United Europe will inevitably field its own integrated military force. Arm-twisting Europe to fight a highly unpopular war in Afghanistan will only hasten this development . . .
By pushing NATO towards a bridge too far, the Bush Administration may end up fatally undermining NATO and encouraging anti-American forces in Europe.
You know, if Bin Laden has written a script, this would have been it...

The next ten months

Allison refers us to The Rev's description of the next ten months in American politics:
. . . we will see Antoin Rezko, a dodgy property developer, inflated into a criminal mastermind on par with Al Capone and be told that because he gave Obama a sweetheart deal on some property, the senator is his amoral meat puppet. We will hear endlessly all about how William Ayers, a domestic terrorist and member of the sinister hippy-communist-veteran hating Weather Underground -- the largest domestic terrorist group EVER ! They bombed the Pentagon before Al-Quaida!-- who has become a sissified America-hating academic "intellectual" (just like Ward Churchill) is practically Obama's foster father. And we will heard how Obama didn't grow up in America and is probably a secret muslim, has fangs, a third eye, eats babies and HAS THE SAME NAMES AS AMERICA'S ENEMIES!!!!
The genuis of the Swiftboat attack is that it isn't just another accusation; rather, it aims squarely at undermining an opponent's greatest strength. Kerry's strength was his demonstrated courage under fire; the swiftboat attacks negated that strength, and made it appear that his military record was actually a liability for him.
Obama's greatest strength is his charisma, his inspirational persona as a different kind of politician with a different approach. So the attack will be that he is just another unethical corrupt politician.
Kerry made the mistake of taking seriously the lies about his military record. Imagine if he had just said "Oh, them. The Republicans have been paying them to lie about me for years. They're nothing but a bunch of ridiculous, jealous old men."
Hillary gets it right -- she just laughs at all the smear attempts.
I hope Obama does the same.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

But I've been sick!

Sorry for the lack of posts -- I've had the flu since Friday -- or maybe since even Thursday night since all day Friday I felt pretty out of it at work too.
And don't you just love it when people come to work sick?
So I was looking up quotations on illness and didn't find any I liked except this one, from Rita Mae Brown. It's about mental illness, not the flu, but its funny anyway:
The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you.

Great post of the day

Duncan Cameron at Rabble writes about Harper's attempt to make Afghanistan an election issue:
Conservatives are road testing their election strategy: while Stephen Harper is a real leader, Stéphane Dion is not . . .
The laughable part of the strategy is the idea that splitting the country over the war constitutes leadership. In Canada, leaders unite a large number of Canadians, bringing citizens from far flung regions together around a vision, a project, a story, a common purpose, something with meaning that resonates with citizens. The tragic part of the strategy is playing politics with the war, using a failing military mission to win an election . . .
Manley, helped along by his continentalist colleagues Derek Burney, and Paul Tellier, played the fool perfectly. Instead of asking the obvious question: what Canadian interests are at stake in Afghanistan? And giving the obvious answer: none; Manley bravely called for the prime minister to step up, take control of the "file," and convince some NATO allies to commit 1,000 combat troops in support of the Canadian forces.
Nobody can be expected to believe that another 1,000 troops are going to make a difference. After all, the Soviet Union had six times the troops in Afghanistan that NATO does today, and it still lost.
Harper must now deliver. If he wants a never-ending war role for Canada in Aghanistan, he can consult with his pollsters and party advisors as long as he wants. He still must convince Canadians to vote for him, if he wants to continue to send our soldiers into battle.
While Harper can force an election if he wants, the public, not the prime minister will decide who passes the leadership test, and on what grounds. If the Conservative leader thinks he is smart enough to win an election on the war, he may find out a great many Canadians have decided he is not smart enough to deserve their vote.

They've lost their minds

Glenn Greenwald wrote about it but you have to see it for yourself.
The Heritage Foundation has a clock on their front page which measures, in milliseconds, the time since the Protect America act expired -- you know, the act which the United States passed just six months ago which somehow prevented 911 or something...oh, no wait, I guess it prevented Jose Padilla from setting off a, wait, it stopped Jack Bauer's bomb from blowing up Los, wait.... well, it did SOMETHING really, really important, without which America won't ever be safe, I guess...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Great line of the day

Glenn Greenwald, in an article about the FISA extension issue and Republican fear-mongering:
Americans are worried and even angry about many things. Whether Osama bin Laden is throwing a party because AT&T and Verizon might have to defend themselves in court isn't one of them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Who's the Queen?

Aretha says I am when Beyonce says its Tina.
You decide:

Lapdogs and jawdroppers

From Crooks and Liars via I am TRex.

Does this actually make any sense?

Excuse me, please, but as I heard the news today about how awful it was that Roger Clemens -- A MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHER -- might have lied -- LIED -- to a Congressional committee, I thought... first, why is anything that Roger Clemens does or says of any concern whatsoever to the US Congress, don't they have more important things to think about, and second, why would anyone get outraged about Clemens if they haven't been equally outraged about Bush and Cheney and Rice and Mulcasey and ...
oh, well, never mind. Forget I asked...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Releasing the inner Jack Bauer

It has become apparent that police aren't using Tasers instead of guns; they're using Tasers instead of yelling at people.
Naomi Klein writes about Toronto police buying 3,000 Tasers:
Few would argue with an officer's right to use an electroshock weapon when lives are in danger and the only alternative is a gun. Many Toronto police officers, particularly those on the Emergency Task Force, clearly use them with restraint.
Yet there is also plenty of evidence that some officers get hooked on shock. In Edmonton, in 2001, reports of taserings averaged less than once a week. Three years later, they were coming in daily. In another part of the country, a mother in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia called police when she and her 17-year-old daughter were having an argument. Three officers showed up and tasered the teen in her own bed. In a recent court ruling, the judge called these actions 'very disturbing and disconcerting.'
Control is the name of the game. Not officer safety.
But there's something deeper going on here, too. Something darker. By causing pain without physical contact, Tasers provide an unique way for the weak to control the strong and for the strong to bully the weak. By causing pain without wounds, the Taser appear defensive when they are actually aggressive. And for the first time, the Taser offers the average person the opportunity to release their inner Jack Bauer without apparent personal risk. They're coming soon to a neighbourhood near you:
It may well be possible to prevent shock-happy policing with tighter controls. Yet, despite repeated calls for stricter regulations for police, Taser International is racing to get its devices in the hands of civilians, marketing the product as not just safe but fun. In the United States the company has been aggressively pushing its line of C2 "personal protectors" — available in pink, leopard print, and in holsters with built-in MP3 players. (The weapon is nicknamed the "iTaser.") Tupperware-style taser parties are springing up in the suburbs of Arizona.
Taser International is a company whose executives present themselves as serious experts in public safety. Yet it has launched this foray into fashion at the very moment when the safety of its devices is being questioned on multiple fronts. Valentine's Day is coming and Taser's website is busily hawking the C2 in flaming red. "Love her? Protect her," goes the slogan.
This is what corporations do: whatever they can get away with to sell more product.
And next we'll hear about teenagers dying on the streets because they've been tased by their enemies . . . or by their friends.

Monday, February 11, 2008

High diving

Globe columnist Adam Radwanski notes the absolute cynicism of the Harper Conservatives who talk about how much they support the mission in Afghanistan while they themselves endanger it by using it as an election ploy:
Rather than baiting the Liberals into bringing down Parliament and dispatching the reliably embarrassing Peter Van Loan to call them Taliban-lovers, the government should be doing everything it can to broker some kind of compromise. Only if that fails should they consign the mission to likely doom by putting it to voters.
But Harper appears to be incapable of sincerity on any issue except finding homes for orphan kittens.
And I am getting the impression that Stephane Dion has finally had enough of the games. Today, Dion finally seemed to be going on the offensive, telling Harper, OK if you want an election on the budget or on Afghanistan, we'll give you one -- here's our vision for Afghanistan and here's our vision for the budget, let the people decide!
Watching Dion ponder the high dive today, I felt like Yosemite Sam -- bring on Fearless Freep! I paid my four bits to see the high diving act and I'm a-gonna SEE the high-diving act!
I think it's time for Dion to step forward and try to demonstrate to Canadians why they should vote for him. Chantal Hebert wonders if Dion is quite ready for prime time:
In theory, he is best positioned to take advantage of any wind of change blowing into this country as a result of the American presidential contest . . . But while Dion has long been convinced that voters will be pleasantly surprised by his performance, Liberal strategists face an uphill battle in their efforts to turn his inexperience in their favour.
. . . Take Afghanistan, the top file in Parliament these days and one on which the Liberals are presumably on the majority side of public opinion. They also happen to have in Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Dion himself a crack intellectual team, on par or superior to that of the government. But so far, that has only added to the Liberal confusion.
If Dion and his party cannot muster clarity and enthusiasm in support of their own case, how can they hope to prevail in an election argument?
Well, maybe it's time we find out whether Dion is a leader or not.
And the Montreal Gazette says Harper should be careful what he wishes for:
The CROP numbers would give the Conservatives only the 11 Quebec seats they have now, the Nanos poll would give them even fewer.
The Conservatives are looking at even worse numbers in Ontario, where the Liberals lead 43 to 31 per cent, with the NDP at 19 per cent. For the Tories, this isn't even 2006 all over again, when their 35 per cent produced 40 Ontario seats; but more like 2004, when their 30 per cent resulted in only 24 seats, with the Tories virtually shut out in Toronto's suburban 905 belt.
Harper still has much stronger leadership numbers than Dion, but not the huge advantage he enjoyed a year ago. For example, on the key attribute of competence, Harper leads Dion 39-16; on trust 30-14, and on vision, 32-17.
Those are still 2-1 margins, but not enough for wise heads to overlook voting intention. On that, the Nanos poll is clear. There is no majority for anyone, and quite possibly a Liberal minority produced by Ontario.
Tactics and brinksmanship are all very well in the House. But if Harper means to go to the country, he needs much better numbers than this in his pocket.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Great line of the day

Glenn Greenwald writes about the Democrats response to John McCain's warmongering:
It is long past time for America to have the debate over whether our willingness to fight one unnecessary war after the next -- more than any other country in the world -- and to see war as a central method for dealing with other countries, is smart or "tough" or conducive to being "safe." The last thing the country needs -- and the last thing Democrats should want -- is a Democratic candidate whose strategy is to accept the GOP foreign policy premises and then make themselves as much as possible like Joe Lieberman, Bill Kristol and John McCain.
The Democrats' greatest failure over the last eight years -- both political and substantive -- has been a refusal to offer any contrast to Republican warmongering and fearmongering in the national security realm. With the Republicans about to nominate one of the country's most unhinged warlovers, that cowardly strategy is more dangerous, and more self-destructive, than ever before.
The other day, I saw someone on one of the talk shows start talking about how, from the Vietnamese point of view, pilots like John McCain were committing war crimes by bombing Vietnamese civilians. The rest of the panel was shocked, but it was actually true, of course. I wonder if the Democrats will be able to confront and neutralize McCain's war record the way the Republicans were able to neutralize John Kerry's record, even turning it into a liability?
As far as I am concerned, there is nothing more frightening about McCain than his war-mongering. This is a man who sang "Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran!", who talks blithely about the US staying in Iraq for 100 years -- if Americans confuse grandiosity and ego with leadership again, it means they have chosen war until 2016.
I wonder if Jon Stewart will think McCain is such a great guy when he drafts Stewart's son to fight in the Middle East?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Do they get a secret decoder ring too?

Digby notes this Alternet article about an FBI/business organization called InfraGard:
To join, each person must be sponsored by 'an existing InfraGard member, chapter, or partner organization.' The FBI then vets the applicant. On the application form, prospective members are asked which aspect of the critical infrastructure their organization deals with. . . .
FBI Director Robert Mueller . . . urged InfraGard members to contact the FBI if they 'note suspicious activity or an unusual event.' And he said they could sic the FBI on 'disgruntled employees who will use knowledge gained on the job against their employers.' . . .
InfraGard members are being advised on how to prepare for a martial law situation -- and what their role might be. He showed me his InfraGard card, with his name and e-mail address on the front, along with the InfraGard logo . . .
[when martial law is declared]"We were expected to share all our resources, but in return we'd be given specific benefits." These included, he says, the ability to travel in restricted areas and to get people out . . . "We were assured that if we were forced to kill someone to protect our infrastructure, there would be no repercussions," the whistleblower says. "It gave me goose bumps. It chilled me to the bone."
Actually, it sounds sort of like the Masons, with guns.
I gotta get me one of those cards.


It's the sense of entitlement that annoys me. The WATBs of the Washington media actually think they deserve some kind of gold star just because, ten years ago, they couldn't shove microphones into the face of a 15-year-old girl and scream at her about her parent's marriage.
Yeah, that woulda been newsworthy, all right.
So here is NBC's David Schuster expressing his resentment of Chelsea Clinton:
"I say more power to her [for working on her mother's campaign]. But I also think that the collective Washington media, which has respected these sort of unwritten rules of staying away from Chelsea, not asking her questions, that that is now out the window. That it's now fair game, that when you and I, Bob and Bill, when we see Chelsea out there at these campaign events, there's nothing wrong with going up to her with a microphone..."
Well, of course not.
Just like the press can interview Caroline Kennedy, and the Bush twins and Mary Cheney about their political work.
Of course, I wouldn't think the Washington reporters would use the term "fair game" to describe any of these women. Nor would they be itching to ask about their parents' marriages.
Shuster made this offensive remark just after he smeared Chelsea by describing her as being "pimped out" because she is working for Hillary's election -- a remark for which he has now been suspended.
Maybe we finally have an explanation for why the media continues to resent the Clintons -- they couldn't interview Chelsea ten years ago. Poor babies.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Great lines from Wolcott

James Wolcott just writes too well -- bet ya can't read just one.
On the possibility of Senate Tom Coburn being McCain's running mate:
That would be Tom 'I favor the death penalty for abortionists' Coburn.
Well, I'd suppose he'd do, given that Dr. Mengele is otherwise indisposed.
and on Republican narcissism:
The sort of hacky quacks whose psychotherapeutic blogs appear at Pajamas Media are always drivelling on about liberal Democrats being afflicted with toxic narcissism (this sort of slop), but you don't know what narcissism in the native raw until you've heard Sean Hannity and Mark Levin crow about their unwavering conservative principles and the record of ringing pronouncements they've made and will continue to make as long as the love of Ronald Wilson Reagan beats in their hearts
and on having friends in New York:
...when I say "our friend," I'm not using "friend" in the generic, all-encompassing borderline hostile manner of John McCain, I'm referring to someone my wife and I actually know and like and recognize on sight, a rarity in the New York, world capital of vague nods.
and on Hillary Clinton
I voted for Hillary.
I have many faults and quirks, but one thing I'm not is a narcissist. My vote isn't about Me. Who I am, how I conceive myself, how my vote positions me in the pulse of the moment. The tab I flip in the voting booth isn't intended as a dramatic gesture to pin in my lapel like a carnation and sniff during intermission, like some Clifton Webb character. I don't accept being lectured or morally browbeaten into voting for one candidate over another in order to prove my virtuous intent and appease Kurt Andersen's peculiar, posturing racial anxieties. Perhaps it's my atheism at work but I found myself increasingly wary of and resistant to the salvational fervor of the Obama campaign, the idealistic zeal divorced from any particular policy or cause and chariot-driven by pure euphoria. I can picture President Hillary in the White House dealing with a recalcitrant Republican faction; I can't picture President Obama in the same role because his summons to history and call to hope seems to transcend legislative maneuvers and horse-trading; his charisma is on a more ethereal plane, and I don't look to politics for transcendence and self-certification.
and on Barak Obama and John McCain
Earlier today MSNBC dug former House majority leader Dick Armey out of a box of cereal . . . The dust bunnies that came out of his mouth seemed as dated as everything else we hear from Newt-era conservatives. First he brushed aside Barack Obama as a willowy lightweight who wants us to all hold hands and sing "Kumbaya." . . . you'd think that even modest exposure to Obama's TV presence would have clued him in to the candidate's tensile strength and counterpunch capability. Republicans who dimly persist in defining Obama as a peace-love poster child are replaying culture-war battles that are as outdated as a Dennis Miller monologue filled with references to OJ and Ward Churchill.
But the most mildewed offering Armey made was his advice on how John McCain should woo the conservatives who loathe him so. He said John needs to come back with some bold initiatives to reclaim the conservative base, such as promoting private accounts in Social Security. . . . in a time of economic distress and stock market turmoil, I can't think of a better way to hari-kari your candidacy than to advocate something George Bush couldn't put over after barnstorming the country when the country wasn't as sick of him as it is now. All that political capital squandered after Bush's reelection, and Armey wants McCain to repeat the same folly.
Thank you, O sage.

Do you know your great-grandmother's name?

Some tut-tutting going on about the recent study which found that a quarter of Britons don't know which historical figures were real and which were myths. But let's not be too hard on them.
A thousand years ago, as James Burke has pointed out, people lived happy and productive lives even though they thought the sun revolved around the earth.
And a year ago, the President's press secretary didn't know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was all about.
For most of us, any event whether truth or fiction that happened before our parents were born is basically an historical event.
And most of us don't remember our own great-grandmother's maiden name.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Election chatter is Canada's version of the Terrorism Scare Story

All this election talk just a way for the Harper government to distract the media from bad news, like the Bush administration deflects media criticism by chattering about terrorism alerts.
How dumb is Canada's media to fall for this? The bad news for the Tories has been building lately -- the increasingly-bad Mulroney news, the Khadr case, the mishandling of Afghan prisoners, the isotope debacle, the muzzling of environmental scientists, the Ontario economy, the gutting of the Wheat Board, the new Baird investigation -- so its not surprising that the Tories are trying to keep all this out of the headlines by generating some chatter about another election:
A federal budget expected in the last week of February, a vote on the Afghanistan military mission by the end of March and some arbitrary Tory brinkmanship on the government's omnibus crime bill have conspired to place a new best-before date on Harper's two-year-old administration.
Yeah, sure.
The Liberals are not, I don't think, suicidal enough to vote against what will be a typical pennies-for-everyone Tory budget, so this leaves the Senate and Afghanistan. The Tories will just look stupid if they force an election over how poorly they have handled getting their crime legislation through the Senate. And the Tories certainly aren't going to get the ten extra seats they need from Quebec by fighting an election about keeping the Van Doos in the line of fire in Afghanistan.
Just watch -- as soon as Schreiber is out of the country and the parliamentary hearings are over, all the election chatter will disappear too.


Gloom descends.
It was bad enough when Mayor 911 quit, but what will everyone do now that we don't have Mitt to kick around anymore?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Goodbye Super Tuesday

I'm glad that Super Tuesday is finished -- it's pretty clear already that while most Democrats would be happy with either Clinton or Obama, or both, the Republicans are bitterly divided.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Acting guilty

Emptywheel talks about the explosive new book about the 911 Commission and whether the fix was in to stop the Commission from holding Bush, Cheney and Rice responsible.
One point which Emptywheel should also note is this one --that Bush, Cheney and Rice certainly ACTED guilty.
Remember how they were terrified of the investigation and didn't want to have any Commission at all? Then they tried to get Kissinger to chair it. Then Rice wasn't going to testify at all. Then they weren't going to release any documents. Then Bush and Cheney hired personal lawyers. Then they demanded that they be able to testify together.
These were not the actions of innocent people.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Great line of the day

Lambert endorses Hillary: isn’t 1960. It’s more like 1929. I want someone who believes in government, who wants to make government work for us, who enjoys making government work, and that can only be Hillary."
Yes, she's a fighter. And I think Obama is not, or not as much. America needs a fighter. Like this year's SuperBowl, I think the Democratic nomination is close enough that it will come down to who wants it more. I think it will be Hillary.


Dave at The Galloping Beaver describes how America is now acting in Iraq--bombing them back to the stone age.
Someday the true story of this war will be written, and it will be even uglier than anybody could imagine:
The Bush administration is transforming Iraq from a ground war of grunts getting killed by IEDs to a techno-war of civilians being labeled "collateral damage". And the same military commanders who decry the behaviour of their opponents using Iraqi and Afghani civilians as human shields while they move among the general population will be doing something similar and perhaps much more repulsive in its sterility.
American military spokespeople and administration officials have, over the years, decried Iraqi and Afghan insurgents for "hiding" behind civilian populations - in essence, accusing them of both immorality and cowardice. When such spokespeople do admit to inflicting "collateral damage" on civilian populations, they regularly blame the guerrillas for making civilians into "shields". And all of this is regularly, dutifully reported in the US press. On the other hand, no one in our world considers drone warfare in a similar context, though armed UAVs like the Predators and the newer, even more heavily armed Reapers are generally "flown" by pilots stationed at computer consoles in places like Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas. It is from there that they release their missiles against "anti-Iraqi forces" or the Taliban, causing civilian deaths in both Iraq and Afghanistan . . . To American reporters, this seems neither cowardly, nor in any way barbaric, just plain old normal. Those pilots are not said to be "hiding" in distant deserts or among the civilian gamblers of Caesar's Palace.
Here are some recent photos of Iraq streets:

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Great post of the day

Don't miss this funny, rambling, thoughtful TRex post about perfume and a book called The Perfect Scent plus all the wonderful comments from his readers:
Thing is, I have to be careful, because there are some scents that will give me a blinding headache. When I met my ex, he wore this Gaultier monstrosity that would inevitably cling to my skin and clothes for hours and have me gulping down Advil after each date. I didn’t really mind the way it smelled at first, but then it became inextricably associated with intense pain.
You know, in retrospect, perhaps I should have taken that as a clue.

Across the universe

NASA to launch Beatles song across the galaxy:
On Monday, NASA will broadcast the Beatles’ song “Across the Universe” across the galaxy to Polaris, the North Star.
This first-ever beaming of a radio song by the space agency directly into deep space is nostalgia-driven. It celebrates the 40th anniversary of the song, the 45th anniversary of NASA’s Deep Space Network, which communicates with its distant probes, and the 50th anniversary of NASA.

From YouTube "About This Video"
The Beatles - Across The Universe
Across the Universe" is a song by The Beatles that first appeared on a charity release in December 1969, and later, in modified form, on their final album, Let It Be. The song features John Lennon singing lead, who was also the primary composer (though, as with all Beatles songs written by either composer, the song is credited to Lennon/McCartney).
One night in 1967, the phrase "words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup" came to Lennon after hearing his then-wife Cynthia, according to Lennon, "going on and on about something". Later, after "she'd gone to sleep-- and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream", Lennon "went downstairs and it turned into sort of a cosmic song". He began to write the rest of the lyrics and when he was done, he went to bed and forgot about them.
In the morning, Lennon found the paper on which he had written the lyrics and brought them down to his piano, where he began to play chords, and find pitches to match the words.
The structure of the lyrics is straightforward: three repetitions of a unit consisting of a verse, the line "Jai guru deva om", and the line "Nothing's gonna change my world" repeated four times. The lyrics are highly image-based, with abstract concepts reified with phrases like thoughts "meandering", words "slithering", and undying love "shining". The title phrase "across the universe" appears at intervals to finish lines, although interestingly it never cadences, always appearing as a rising figure, melodically unresolved.
In his 1970 interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Lennon referred to the song as perhaps the best, most poetic lyric he ever wrote.
The recording and Version History:
In February 1968, The Beatles convened at the EMI Abbey Road studios to record a single for release during their absence on their forthcoming trip to India. Paul McCartney had written "Lady Madonna" and John "Across the Universe". Both tracks were recorded along with George's "The Inner Light" and Lennon's "Hey Bulldog" between the 3rd and 11th of February.
Whilst the basic track was successfully recorded on the 4 February, Lennon wasn't satisfied with the feel of the track. Several innovations were tried, including blowing through comb onto paper and humming to add texture to the track, and the addition of a pedal guitar and tambora.
The track was mixed to mono and put aside as the group had decided to release "Lady Madonna" and "The Inner Light" as the single.
During the February 1968 recording sessions, Spike Milligan dropped into the studio and on hearing the song suggested the track would be ideal for release on a charity album he was organising for the World Wildlife Fund. At some point in 1968 The Beatles agreed to this proposal, and track was mixed into stereo for the first time by George Martin. The original mix (mono and stereo) is 3:37. For the 'wildlife' album it was deemed appropriate to add sound effects of birds at the beginning and end of the track. After the effects were added the track was sped up; so that even with 20 seconds of effects the track is only 3:49. The song was first released in this version on the Regal Starline SRS 5013 album No One's Gonna Change Our World, in December 1969.
Though never satisfied with the recording, Lennon was still attached to the song, and played it during the Get Back/Let It Be album sessions of January 1969.
Words are flowing out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me
Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Images of broken light which
dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a
restless wind inside a letter box
they tumble blindly as
they make their way across the universe
Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which
shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe
Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Jai guru deva
Jai guru deva

Friday, February 01, 2008

When kittens strike back

Our government will speak up about defenseless kittens.
But when it comes to defenseless people, not so much.
First we heard that Stockwell Day won't speak up to defend Canadians facing the death penalty in other countries. I guess that makes "Let 'em fry" the official government policy.
Now we hear that Peter MacKay has spent seven months not speaking up to object to an Aghanistan politician running his own prison. I guess that means the policy is "Let'em scream."
But sometimes even kittens will fight back.