Sunday, August 31, 2008

Shaking our heads

I wonder if Americans realize how closely their presidential election is being followed around the world. And I wonder if Americans realize how pathetic the Republican party has now shown itself to be.
When McCain sends his beer heiress wife to Georgia, and then when she comes home she argues that the eye-candy political neotype chosen by her husband for VP is "ready to lead" because Alaska is geographically closer to Russia than California is, well, its all so ridiculous that the rest of the world is just shaking its head. The Republicans are willing to give control of their country to people like Cindy McCain and Sarah Palin?

Friday, August 29, 2008

"I was there"

This is the most amazing story of the Obama speech:
. . . We were in the lesser rungs of the print media section, which meant sitting behind the CNN and ABC booths, with only a peephole sized spot through which we could get a glimpse of the podium. . . . [we noticed] the folks inside CNN's booth -- the techs and crew that helped the booth operate. At the moment Obama began speaking, even though they were sitting behind CNN's own cameras, they produced their personal cameras, help them up and started to take pictures. The same thing happened next door at the ABC booth, and at CBS, and around the curve at FOX. Each of these people was there to do a job, but they realized they were witnessing history, and they wanted to connect with it in a personal way. They wanted an image of their own to mark the occasion -- something they could look at and say "I was there, I was really there, the day Barack Obama delivered his acceptance speech."
Obama's acceptance speech may become one of those cultural events where, in ten years or twenty years, people still talk about the experience of hearing it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yes, he actually is The One

What a marvelous speech given by the next US president, Barak Obama.
Tweety was overcome -- he started babbling about how the whole tone of the campaign has been elevated and how Democrats and Republicans could put the politics of division and smear behind them and how everyone could join together in national conversation about life, the universe and everything that really matters to people.
And ponies. Don't forget the ponies.
Ain't gonna happen of course, because the Republicans are going to start whispering Did You Know Obama Is A Ni...? and so much for elevating the tone.
But it was a nice moment, and demonstrated exactly why Obama should be elected -- America needs him to bring out the best in themselves.

Risking lives to save a buck

The Conservatives thought the only risk to eliminating meat inspections would be in the area of "communications" -- in other words, that the stupid public wouldn't like it.
The risk of people dying so the government could save a few bucks didn't seem to be a factor in their decision-making.
Allison provides a copy of last November's Treasury Board memo which supported the elimination of on-site meat inspections. The idea was to allow industry "to implement food safety control programs and to manage key risks." But Vic Toews and the rest of the Treasury Board brain trust must have been impressed with the opportunity to save a million dollars this year, and three millions a year after that. The Treasury Board memo says, in the usual pompous governmentese:
In addition to the reallocation proposals announced in the Budget [ie, the ones we were told about], Treasury Board Ministers also supported the proposal shown in Annex B [ie, the ones we were NOT told about. This is where eliminating meat inspections is described] however, the announcement of these reallocations has been deferred owing to significant communications risks and to allow for further policy and communications work to be completed."
The Conservatives fired the food scientist who sent this memo to the union. Without his brave action, Canadians might have believed Health Minister Tony Clement's pious declaration that:
"When it comes to health and safety, you can't scrimp and save; you've got to do your job on behalf of Canadians and that's what we're doing."
Instead, as Allison points out:
What you're doing is privatizing food safety ... and lying about it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Move on

I think it's time for self-important pundits and pseudo-feminists to STOP bitching about Hillary Clinton. Please!
Hey, maybe we should start an organization and we could call it "Move On"...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Georgians as Underpants Gnomes

Edstock at Galloping Beaver links to this great post by the War Nerd who asks what in the world Georgia was thinking would happen when it invaded South Ossetia:
. . . Most likely the Georgians just thought the Russians wouldn’t react. They were doing something they learned from Bush and Cheney: sticking to best-case scenarios, positive thinking. The Georgian plan was classic shock’n’awe with no hard, grown-up thinking about the long term. Their shiny new army would go in, zap the South Ossetians while they were on a peace hangover (the worst kind), and then…uh, they’d be welcomed as liberators? Sure, just like we were in Iraq. Man, you pay a price for believing in Bush. The Georgians did. They thought he’d help.
Reminded me of the Underpants Gnomes business plan:
1. Collect underpants
2. ?
3. Profit

Hillary's message

Hillary give a barn-burner of a speech tonight, as even the commenters at Daily Kos agree. I thought Hillary included a very subtle message to Barak in her Harriet Tubmann story:
"When you hear the dogs, keep going."
There has been far too much backing down in recent Democratic presidential campaigns, Gore and Kerry both.
I will never forget, during the third debate with Gore and Bush, seeing Gore give a shamefaced chuckle and virtually apologize to Bush for "inventing the Internet".
Now Barak is being told to do this as well -- like just a week ago, some pundit at the New Republic said Barak shouldn't hold public appearances in front of large crowds anymore because the Republicans would attack his "celebrity". And during this convention, apparently some of the commentators are saying Barak has to tone down the attacks on McCain because after all it will just result in McCain getting mad (like, what is he, the Incredible Hulk?)
The message from Hillary was, ignore the baying dogs and just keep going.
Maybe now Barak will even have the guts to enlist the best campaigner in the Democratic Party, Bill Clinton, in his campaign!

Oh, for crying out loud!

This is the kind of stuff that happens when people get the idea that they can express their personal prejudices when they're on the job.


Strange wording for this CBC news story about Harper calling an election
The CBC's Keith Boag, covering Harper's news conference in Ottawa, said Tuesday's comments marked the first time Harper has been direct in answering questions about the possibility he will call an election.
Harper didn't say an election would depend on what Dion decides, or on any other conditions, as he has in past news conferences.
"The prime minister is not trying to be coy about it in any way at all anymore," Boag said. "He more or less accepted that an election is going to happen."
"When the prime minister himself is talking that way, you can pretty much take it to the bank that he's made up his mind that he'll have to call an election very, very soon."
Emphasis mine.
Note the passive wording, as though calling an election is not Harper's decision.
But it is, entirely and completely his own decision. And he is breaking is own law to do it. None of the opposition parties are forcing this -- except that they just will not stop winning byelections or holding hearings into the In-and-Out scam and the Bernier scandal, even though Harper has asked them really nicely.
Oooh, those bastards! How dare they? Obviously, Canadians cannot expect Harper to follow his own law under such intolerable conditions!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Great line of the day

From Billmon:
...the Republican Party is essentially frozen at a moment in time -- roughly, 1972 (or at the latest, 1984). The politics of the culture war are all it knows, and, here in the twilight of its long ideological dominance, all it really wants to know. And maybe all it has left . . . The '60s culture war is gasping its last gasps, with McCain and his Rovian crew frantically trying to get one last bestial fuck out of the old sow before she lays down in the mud and dies.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

This explains it

I was finding the lengthy and hysterical buildup to the Democratic VP pick to be more than a little tiresome, and I guess so was Lance Mannion. But in his usual perceptiveness, Mannion has now figured out why the Obama campaign did it this way:
All summer McCain and Obama have been playing chicken over their choices for VP, each waiting for the other to go first. If the game of chicken lasted long enough, Obama was going to have to go first, and that's what happened. But Obama found a way to win by going first. He kept the Media attention on his choice all this past week without giving McCain the opportunity to upstage him.
McCain can't make his announcement next week. There's no way he can force the attention away from the Democratic Convention unless he picks Hillary. Which means that, basically, he has to announce his choice as part of the routine business of the Republican Convention. Which means that either his Veep gets lost in the shuffle, or he (or she) upstages McCain himself.
Being upstaged is not something McCain allows.
So, what mattered this week wasn't who Obama's choice would or wouldn't be. In fact, I won't be surprised if we find out that it's been Biden all along. What mattered was that that's what everybody was talking about.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Great photos

The Globe and Mail features 10 photos that changed Canada. Here are my favorites:

One of the blogs I read frequently is BAGnewsNotes, for their photo analysis.

"I don't trust this party anymore"

Harper appears bound and determined to call an election, and I suspect the goal is to shut down the In-and-Out hearings. Opposition MPs are saying this too:
A federal election would kill any attempt by MPs to cite for contempt Tory witnesses who ignored parliamentary summonses to election-finance hearings last week, and opposition politicians argue it is a key reason the government wants to rush to the polls.
The hearings have been pretty embarrassing for the Conservatives, particularly the ex-candidates who testified they smelled a rat. Kady O'Malley was liveblogging the Ethics Committee hearings and this is the kind of stuff that was coming out:
... basically, [Martelli] was asked to take a deposit, which would be returned to the party within the same day — “a simple in and out.” The money was deposited - $14,000 - and he eventually got back $8,000 from Elections Canada, which was sent back to the party.
When Michel Rivard looked at the papers — he was the one who did his - Martelli’s - taxes during the campaign, he had him sign “a bunch of papers.”
Carole Lavallee wonders whether he ever saw an invoice for these ad buys — he didn’t.
I’m beginning to see why the Conservatives may not have wanted to give this guy time to speak. . . .
He joined the party, he says, because he believed in their vision — but he doesn’t believe that anymore. “They’ve lost a lot of people,” he notes.
“They had set forth a vision, and there were people who believed in that vision,” he says. “It was disappointing when they pushed it over.” . . .
Twisting the knife a little, Pat Martin asks how Martelli felt — ethically — about the in and out scheme. “Disappointed,” he says. “A lot of people were disappointed.”
. . . “I don’t trust this party anymore,” he repeats.
And this :
Finally, the witnesses get to speak, and Marcel Proulx gets things started by asking David Marler about his experience as a candidate for the Conservatives . . . he asked ... about the transfer, and was told that it was “none of his business.”
You could seriously hear a pin drop right now. Marler is just so — ordinary, and I don’t mean that in a dismissive way. He doesn’t seem to have any sort of hidden agenda; he’s just telling his story, and It’s an amazingly intense - and tense - moment.
For his final question, Proulx asks whether Marler is still a Conservative Party candidate; the answer, he says, is no.
Now the Cons have brought in some new candidate rules. We won't be hearing any testimony in the future about how Conservative candidates don't trust the Conservative party anymore.

Obama-Biden 2008

Well, I think its too bad it's not Hillary, but everybody seems happy with the Biden choice.
Steve Clemons makes some excellent arguments about Why Joe Biden is Vital and the Right Choice.
My clearest memory of Joe Biden was watching him at some Senate hearing, when he got angry at former defense secretary Rumsfeld over the implications of Abu Ghraib. Biden actually shouted, he was so angry, and he said something like, its my son you are putting at risk here, my son and every American's son, if we treat their soldiers so badly, how dare you put my son in danger. Biden brought a personal, family dimension to the discussion that it badly needed.
Also, it was Biden who torpedoed Guilliani's campaign with his "Noun. Verb. 9-11". Good line, that. I hope he can issue a few memorable zingers in this campaign too.

Epic fail

Dave at Galloping Beaver sums up the situation between Russia and NATO now, in Add a little ice, hit "chop" for 30 seconds and Voila! A Cold War cocktail!. And we find out that the United States has shot itself in the foot with its promises to Poland and the Czech Republic about missile defense systems. He alerts us to this article posted at The Guardian points out:
. . . Missile defence is so expensive and the measures required to evade it so cheap that if the US government were serious about making the system work it would bankrupt the country, just as the arms race helped to bring the Soviet Union down. By spending a couple of billion dollars on decoy technologies, Russia would commit the US to trillions of dollars of countermeasures. The cost ratios are such that even Iran could outspend the US.
So the Bush administration has even figured out a way to neutralize its own vast military overspending. Heck of a job, Bushie.
UPDATE: Cernig has more.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thanks, POGGE

Thanks to POGGE, I am now a Kick Ass Blogger.

It started here. And it ends ... who knows?
Turns out that Alison, the Beav, Chet, Dawg, Stageleft and POGGE (which includes skdadl, I think) are already listed. So I chose:
1. RossK
2. Saskboy
3. Scott
4. The Rev. Paperboy
5. JimBobby

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jingle all the way

McCain fails today's ad war.
Its not the end, nor the beginning of the end. But it may be the end of the beginning.
Not to mention that House-gate has given Democrats a whole new shtick -- jingling their way through the convention.

Letter to American bloggers

Dear American bloggers,

Magical ponies are not going to gallop out of Denver to rescue the Obama campaign.
Agreed, the Democratic party itself will be energized by the convention. But the media coverage of Denver will invariably disappoint. And the Vice-President choices are so controversial that the pick, when it is finally made, will generate bad press as well as good.
And then it will be September ...and no ponies to be found anywhere.
I know, I know, I can hear it already --"oh, don't worry! Mere bloggers don't understand it but of course Obama's campaign knows what they're doing!"
But while his staff apparently are wonderful people, disciplined, loyal, knowledgeable, etc. etc, its becoming pretty clear they're in over their heads. They've been distracted by style ("Look, Ma, no 527s!") and technique ("we have offices in 50 states!") and they've lost focus on substance.
It's time to stop with the wishful thinking.
I think American Blogtopia should stop waiting for marching orders from Chicago and make its own plan.
1. You need a theme.
"Reality-based community" and "I am aware of internet traditions" spread like wildfire and all of a sudden they were on blogs everywhere. Is there an Obama phrase which you all should be using and blogging about? Markos and Jane and Booman need to come up with a few choices and find something that appeals to people -- maybe a phrase from the convention will be the thing.
2. You need a message -- about Obama, not about McCain.
I am sick to death of reading blog posts about McCain said this and McCain said that and you kids get off my lawn. Funny, yes, but I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Why does OBAMA want to be president, and why should VOTERS want him to be president? Billmon and Hunter and Americablog and Dibgy and Bill Sher need to write a dozen posts about what Obama means to them and what he should mean to other Americans. And please, please no more earnest dense graph-filled posts about 10-point economic plans or 15-point health care initiatives. The most "points" Obama is allowed from now on is three (like this post). Two would be even better. That's right, TWO! Because that's the most anybody can remember anyway.
3. And you need stories, stories, stories.
You need Obama anecdotes and history and 'Obama's best quotes' and posts about Michelle and the girls. What kind of professor was he? What did he like best about Kenya? Does he tell jokes? Does he like puns? What was his first job? Was it hard for him to stop smoking? What basketball shot would he most like to be able to do? Across blogtopia, there are people who know him personally, who can write about him or be interviewed about him, who can tell us more about this guy. You need to pass these stories on to the hundreds of thousands of blog readers who are aching to know more -- and to the media who would pick them up and run with them. Blogtopia has been pretty dismissive about people wanting to have a beer with George Bush. but really this was just a way of expressing a political truth -- Americans absolutely demand a personal connection to their leaders. If they don't have it with Obama, they won't vote for him. This is the basis of the "elitist celebrity" meme. So you need stories about this guy, human stories. People won't necessarily see Obama as the guy they want to have a beer with, but he could be the teacher who is coaching their kid's basketball team, or the friend who is laughing at one of their jokes, or the neighbour who's helping them build a back fence.

Yours hopefully,

(Slightly different version also posted at Daily Kos)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Get a grip

This is getting embarrassing.
300 people on Daily Kos are now discussing how Obama will word the Text Message when he announces his vice president.
Next up, what colour tie will he wear?

Getting ready to jump off the bus

If Obama doesn't start turning things around in about two more weeks -- with a good convention, a popular VP pick [cough- Clinton -cough] and some positive momentum -- I think we'll see people leaping off his bus. This time they're not going to hang around waiting for the debates and believing a magical pony will turn things around.
Wes Clark was the first to go.
Now I see distress flags going up all over the blogosphere, Suburban Guerrilla, Avedon Carol, Matt Stoller, Chris Bowers. Josh is worried. Markos is babbling. Even Digby isn't sure what Obama stands for.
And Melissa already hopped off at the last stop.
UPDATE: And Jeralyn is ringing the bell.

He's baaaak!

I think Jean Chretien just announced that he's back and he's pissed off.
Gomery and Martin kept him out of the last election campaign, but I don't think he'll be sitting out another one -- which is good because Dion needs all the help he can get.
I wonder if Harper will still keep threatening an election now? Noni Mausa at Galloping Beaver notes some of the strange stuff that Harper has been focusing on lately: most leaders about to be toppled, he appears to be moving to get a few things done before he asked to hand back the keys and the garage door opener for 24 Sussex Drive.
With many governments there is a rush of legislation for the greater good as the lame duck begins his descent -- election funding laws, for instance, or amnesties. We rightly value our government for the wide array of services it provides -- is Harper acting to put some more in place?
Not as far as I have seen. Instead, he has pulled out his machete. The cuts to funding and programs are underway, and weirdly prominent among them are huge cuts to the tiny federal budget supporting the arts.
And here's some more weird news about Conservative candidate recruitment:
In what a cynical observer might suggest is an attempt to tighten any potential future legal challenge to the party’s now notorious in-and-out scheme – which it maintains is entirely legitimate under existing election law – Tory hopefuls are now required to agree, in advance, to any “reasonable financial arrangement” with the party to provide “campaign services” before they will even be permitted to run for the nomination. They also aren’t allowed to talk about it before, during or after the fact, since they also have to sign a non-disclosure agreement that covers the entire candidate selection process.
Well, that'll attract the best and the brightest, won't it? Harper is just so bullheaded about Elections Canada he will distort and demean the party's whole candidate recruitment process just to cover up what the party is doing.

Jerk of the day

Man sues Columbia over women's studies program
If he wants to start a men's studies program, he can go right ahead.
Oops, sorry, not necessary -- that already describes just about every history class before 1950 . . .

Monday, August 18, 2008

He needs our compassion

I think the Canadian Medical Association should diagnose Health Minister Tony Clements as suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. He is utterly obsessed with closing down Insite.

What Billmon says

Billmon gives us excellent analysis on how the United States and NATO have backed into the Russia-Georgia War:
. . . it’s a pretty strange world where the sworn goal of US diplomacy is to put the country in a situation where it may have to go to war with another nuclear power (or back down ignominiously) to defend the sanctity of borders drawn by Josef Stalin and Nikita Krushchev. Leaving aside the raving hypocrisy (Kosovo, Iraq) it’s an alarming sign that the national security and foreign policy elites of this country – in both parties; and not just among the lunatic neocon fringe – are totally out of control. British analyst Anatol Levin (one of the more perceptive of the realists) describes it a case of "profound infantilism":
In the United States, the infantile illusion of omnipotence, whereby it doesn’t matter how many commitments the United States has made elsewhere—in the last resort, the United States can always do what it likes.
Personally, I see it more as a case of the bureaucratic imperative run amok: The national security state is doing exactly what it was designed to do, but without any of the external checks and counterbalances that existed during the Cold War – the war it was originally created to fight. The domestic political system, meanwhile, has atrophied to the point where it’s simply an afterthought – a legislative rubber stamp needed to keep the dollars flowing. With no effective opposition, the machine can run on autopilot, until it finally topples off a cliff (as in Iraq) or slams into an object (like the Russian Army) that refuses to get out of the way.
Read the whole thing.

Great post of the day

John Cole at Balloon Juice writes about how the Chinese are just going to have to wait their turn in the Nazi-stakes:
... Quite simply, there is no time allocated for the Chinese to be called Nazis right now. The Iranians were the Nazis for the previous six months, now the Russians are scheduled to be the Nazis until the elections in November. We will take a break from international Nazis during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and reserve the term for relatives, in-laws, people who re-gift, and secular humanists and the ACLU and anyone else Bill O’Reilly decides is an enemy of Christmas.
Maybe we can work the Chinese into the schedule sometimes in January. I will get with the Weekly Standard and find out.
From Crooks & Liars.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The ownership society

What do Frankie Valli, ABBA, Chuck Berry, Orleans, John Mellencamp, Jackson Browne and Mike Myers all have in common?
They don't like it when John McCain tries to steal their stuff.

Wolf plays with bear cubs

Lone Wolf vs Sow Grizzly with cubs for Elk Carcass

One of our dogs used to play with our cat in exactly this way -- snatching at her tail when she turned her back, then running away. Needless to say, the dog found it more amusing than the cat did.

Corner What?

So the Tories are slashing arts funding while approving a TV porn channel.
I guess we know where the Corner Gas cast will be finding work next, eh?
I can think of a number of "Corner ___" titles, actually . . .

Spoiled teenagers

Its embarrassing and appalling to find out that the RCMP reacted like spoiled teenagers to Canadian outrage about the Dziekanski killing -- hyperbolic complaints about "being crucified", childish threats never to talk to the media again, whining about how Canadians are just a bunch of ingrates, its just not fair, they're so mean to us...sounds like the lunch room at high school.
And I agree with the Globe and Mail:
The coziness between Taser International and the police stinks.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Jumping off the bus

General Wesley Clark is the first to go.

Advice from The Editors

The Editors nails it -- Who’s just like Hitler today?
. . . I have no doubt that there are very well-considered legal and moral arguments about how Russia has done a terrible thing, and I’m sure the World Police and International Relations Jesus will spurred into action by their eloquence and power. Similarly, I’m sure Russia doesn’t give a fuck, and Russia has the under-appreciated advantage of actually existing.
. . . on this foundational level - the simple playground realities of power politics - Georgia fucked up horribly. THOU SHALT NOT PICK FIGHTS THOU CAN NOT POSSIBLY WIN is a fundamental precept one needs to appreciate before any thrilling arguments about how things ought to be . . . I feel bad for Georgia, as - in my all-encompassing benevolence - I feel bad for losers everywhere, but I still can’t help noticing that they are among those who weren’t being very practical about their situation.
The Editors also has some advice for Europe
think very seriously about making formal NATO promises to countries who can’t protect themselves and like to pick fights with Russia.
and for Russia
They’ve successfully neutralized the Georgian Menace, so I’m sure they’ll sleep easier for that, and also demonstrated their ability to repel the not-really threats posed by countries with small, hand-me-down military forces. It depends on how Russia sees its place in the world, I suppose. If they are trying to get the Soviet Union back together, this would be the first step - though its not clear that things would turn out any better than they did last time. If they are trying to join the West, or at least have a cordial working relationship with it, they probably want to wind this thing down quickly.

Smaller stick

Digby on the defeat of America in the Russia-Georgia War:
. . . most people over the age of nine learn that issuing a bunch of threats and failing to carry them through --- or following through and failing to succeed --- is a recipe for people to stop taking you seriously. Bush and Cheney (and now McCain) have made a fetish out of sabre rattling for the past eight years and the results have been, shall we say, less than stellar. The US has shown that its volunteer military, while valiant, is undermanned and overstretched, its intelligence services are willing servants of political manipulators and its leadership is dishonest, immoral and incompetent. It's understandable that somebody out there would think that now is the time to make a move.
The nine-year-old analogy is apt.
Looking back at the past two decades, its clear that both Bush 1 and Clinton knew that America's stick wasn't actually as big or as utilitarian as the American voters believed. They could never say this to the American public, but their power was based on a nuclear arsenal they couldn't actually use and a military which could win tough wars but had neither the expertise nor the political will for oppressive occupations.
The neocons and the Pentagon, on the other hand, actually believed all the hype about how America could do anything it wanted. In the end, against both the new "enemy" in the Middle East, and the old "enemy" in Russia, the neocon overreach has resulted in the rest of the world not taking America seriously anymore.
I hope they don't nuke somebody just to get even.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Olympic spirit

Canadian cyclist Martin Gilbert has the true Olympic spirit.
He had to train in his garage, and now his bike is broken:
. . . He wouldn't be in this position if any of the three Canadian manufacturers he contacted before leaving had only agreed to supply him with a bike.
The best they offered was to sell him one at cost, which would still set him back several thousand dollars.
British cyclists, in the meantime, arrived at the Olympics with prototypes designed by Formula One racing team McLaren . . .
Along with teammate Zach Bell of Watson Lake, Yukon, Gilbert's selection to the national team was contested before the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada.
He only got the final go ahead a month before the Games began.
While waiting for the verdict, the Chateauguay, Que., native trained in his garage and at a exterior velodrome in Bromont, Que., about 85 kilometres south of Montreal.
Canada was too cheap to get him a good bike. And he trained IN HIS GARAGE!
But he's in China for us. And he's still proud to represent us there.
Oh, if anyone deserves a medal at these Games . . .

They should be ashamed of themselves

The United States should apologize to the rest of the world for treating innocent people this way.
We can laugh all we like about Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh and their anti-immigration rants, but the way the United States is treating immigrants now is shameful and disgusting.
"Give me your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free", yeah sure, and we'll treat them like dirt and throw them in jail and let them die.
Olbermann said that what Homeland Security did to Hui Lui Ng was murder. He was right.
“ ‘I don’t have much time to live,’ ” his sister said he told her in a call from Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. She said the doctor warned that if the family came to visit, immigration authorities might transfer her brother. Three days passed before the warden approved a family visit, she said, after demanding their Social Security numbers. Late in the afternoon of Aug. 5, as Mr. Ng lay on a gurney, hours away from death and still under guard, she and his wife held up his sons, 3 and 1. “Brother, don’t worry, don’t be afraid,” Ms. Zhao said, repeating her last words to him. “They are not going to send you back to the facility again. Brother, you are free now.”

Olympic priorities for 2012

Canada always debates its priorities for Olympic funding but now I have the answer -- pick the two sports which have finals on the first days of the Olympics! Then in 2012 Canada will win a medal early and we won't have to endure any more "the sky is falling" commentary like this -- and wouldn't that be great for all of us!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Great line of the day

Kos writes about Bayh? Kaine?
I'm starting to suspect that the Evan Bayh boomlet is designed to make Tim Kaine look better by comparison, because really, Evan Bayh is about the only Democrat who makes Tim Kaine look palatable by comparison as Obama's veep. [editorial insertion: well, no, not really]
I'm trying to derive some hope from the fact the Obama campaign plans on releasing the name of the veep via text message. Because if people get that message and it says "Bayh" or "Kaine", too many of those phones will be thrown out the window of moving cars, or against the wall, or into a lake. And really, would Obama really do that to his supporters?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Simple answers to simple questions

POGGE writes about the Ethics Committee hearings into the Conservative national advertising taxpayer reimbursement scheme:
. . . the Conservatives are hoping that by turning the committee hearings into a media circus they can detract from the legitimacy of the proceedings if it's determined that the Conservatives cheated in the last election. And in simple terms, that's what this is about: did the Conservatives cheat?
Well, that's just too easy.
Yes. Yes, they did.
This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

They paid Dyer in cash?

Alison alerts us that Gwynne Dyer did not rip off Canadians:
I was asked to go to Cuba in early 2007 by the Department of Foreign Affairs. . . . I didn't get paid for the work, but the Canadian embassy gave me $3,000 in cash to cover my travel costs. I never applied for a grant, and I never heard of PromArt until last week, but obviously some wily accountant at Foreign Affairs took the money for the Cuban project out of the wrong pocket. Stephen Harper's ministers just can't keep control of their departments.
Now, this struck me as an odd way for the embassy to act, actually. Governments simply do not pay people lump sums in cash -- the auditors don't like it at all. They issue cheques, for which someone has to write a cheque requisition, based on actual travel expense claims or invoices.
The only time I can recall that governments have given out cash to people is when they are pulling a fast one.


Russia orders halt to war in Georgia:
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a halt to military operations in Georgia on Tuesday but Tbilisi cast doubt on the announcement, saying Moscow was still bombing towns and villages.
There have been a number of news stories in the past few days quoting Georgia's president and generals about how much Georgian terrority the Russians are occupying, which are then contradicted by reporters who aren't seeing massive advances by Russian tanks or military.
Though the tone of the coverage is "poor, poor Georgia vs mean old Russia", I think in the end the world will conclude that the thousands of civilian deaths, the millions in property damage and the tens of thousands of refugees are mostly Georgia's own fault, for deciding to mercilessly attack and bomb their own people, without giving them any warning or any chance to negotiate, surrender, or evacuate.
Georgia says dozens of civilians were killed when Russian bombs hit two blocks of flats in Gori. Reporters saw casualties at the scene, but the death toll has not been independently confirmed.
...Reports from the UNHCR and Russian media speak of total devastation in the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali, with few buildings left intact after intense bombardments and street fighting.
Russian television showed pictures of a heavily damaged hospital in Tskhinvali, with wounded civilians lying in makeshift wards in the basement. ...
Russian officials say more than 1,500 civilians were killed in Tskhinvali after Georgia launched an all-out assault last Friday, using heavy artillery and tanks. The casualty toll cannot be independently verified . . .
More than 30,000 civilians fled the fighting in Tskhinvali, Russian officials say. Most of them went to North Ossetia, which is part of the Russian Federation.
Several thousand fled south into Georgia and up to 12,000 people are estimated to be displaced within South Ossetia, officials say.
I think we will also find out that Georgia has been exaggerating the extent of the Russian advance, to justify its own military retreat, and to try to frighten the US into sending the 82nd Airborne for military support. And I think we can depend on the Georgian president, Mikhail Saakashvili, to continue to be an inflammatory blowhard.

Monday, August 11, 2008


A conservative makes a comment on an Obama news story:
Here comes the gigantic liberal media guilt trip. If you don't vote for Obama, then you must be a racist.
Works for me.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Airport woes

James Kunstler describes the journey of the damned when he recently flew from Colorado to New York. He makes this astute observation:
...a lot of this trouble was weather-related. But it was greatly aggravated by the extreme shortage of United Airlines ground employees. There are just no gate agents around. So, when delays occur, there is nobody around to re-book passengers. The majority of Customer Service desks are shuttered, and the few open ones have lines a quarter-mile long, so that even if you got on line, you'd miss the next available flight before anybody re-booked you.
The result of all this is a climate of anxiety, helplessness, and despair that makes air travel a miserable experience. You never know whether your flight will take off. The few ground employees actually on duty lie incessantly about the reasons for delays and cancellations (or say they have no information). If you get on a flight, you never know whether you will make your connection, or whether your connection will be there (if an actual plane will get there from someplace else).
The overall effect of US aviation these days is of life during wartime.
I'm quite sure it's not going to get better.
And that's what happens when airlines lay off staff incessantly.
In my own flight experience, I have learned that it is simply not at all worthwhile to expect the gate staff or the stewards on a flight will be able to give you any information about your connection -- they usually don't know, and if they do tell you anything, it turns out to be wrong anyway.
Or it got changed while you were on the way down.
The only thing you can do is reduce your carry-ons to the absolute minimum, wear running shoes, and sit on an aisle seat as far forward as you can. Then you barge out of the plane as soon it lands, knocking children and little old ladies aside as you go, and rudely interrupt the gate staff at your arrival gate in the hope that they MIGHT be able to give you the gate number for your connection.
But don't get your hopes up...

They did it again

Jerome at Daily Kos says the warmongers have lost yet another war:
Neocons are people that see danger everywhere and seem to crave military solutions in all cases. They endlessly blather about how we need to stand firm against bullies or other threats (Russia being near the top of the list), and protect our brave allies on the front lines, and along with them, democracy, freedom and our honor. They mock cowardly European who think appeasement (read - any diplomacy) might have a chance. They fuel conflicts and perpetually tout military options.
And yet, whenever given the opportunity to stand up to their words (and sent other people to fight, of course, they don't do that themselves), the results are surprisingly poor.
After the catastrophic invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the neocons have just lost a third war, in Georgia.
Actually, its the fourth - Jerome could have included Lebanon in 2006.

The Ossetia War

If you're wondering what is going on between Georgia and Russia in South Ossetia, check Robert Farley's series of posts analyzing the events.
Bottom line -- Georgia bit off more than it could chew (perhaps due to neocon encouragement) and gave Putin an opening to throw his weight around.

Olympic rant

I've added CBC Olympics to the blogroll, just to make it easier to find.
But every Olympics I get frustrated with CBC's coverage. Here I am ranting already and it is only day two.
Why, oh why, are they virtually incapable of doing an actual sports show? You know, the kind of show that sports networks like TSN and The Score do every day, where they have knowledgeable announcers who summarize what happened while they visuals cover the most important highlights of the game? Nope, for that, I have to rely on Newsworld's once-a-night half hour, which in my time zone starts at 5:30 so chances are I'll mostly miss it.
Why, oh why, are they incapable of announcing a schedule of what happened that day and what they will be covering? CBC thinks we've all got five hours a night, every night, to plunk down in front of the TV and mindlessly watch whatever bits and pieces of events they throw at us, in whatever chaotic order they chose, bouncing us from the freestyle relay to soccer with a brief pause at the parallel bars and a quick shot of some unnamed athlete actually putting in a gold medal performance at some event but they don't tell us what, exactly...
Did you know a tiny Chinese woman won a gold medal today in some weightlifting event? I saw her performance twice, for about 30 seconds, with no commentary about what she was lifting and whether it was a world record or not. And there were some shooting medals being won somewhere, but CBC couldn't be bothered covering that event. And some sailing was going on too...
God forbid they should actually throw a graphic up on the screen showing us an actual nightly schedule, like a list of the sports they are going to cover that night and the time they are going to be on. Instead, we get this endless "Coming up, women's swimming!" kind of stuff and even then we don't actually get to the pool for another hour or more.
And why, oh why can't they give us a five-minute highlight reel every hour, so we could check in and be sure of catching the most memorable performances? I think they won't do it because they worry that's all people would watch and the sponsors would be upset.
And God forbid they should upset the sponsors! If they did, why, then we wouldn't get the chance to see the umpteenth iteration of that Royal Bank commercial about some red-haired woman -- you know, the one we're already so tired of that we immediately switch the channel when it comes on . . .

Friday, August 08, 2008

Great line of the day

From Avedon Carol:
I disagree completely with the theory that he [Obama] can't hit back. If that's really true (and this was always going to be a question in this race), he shouldn't have run for president now, either. We need a winner, and if you support a candidate who you believe has to throw away winning strategies just because he's black, you shouldn't have supported him. Either he can play all-out or he shouldn't be in the big leagues. Meanwhile, he proved to be adept in the primaries at spreading nasty memes while mostly keeping his own fingerprints off of them, and I'm sure Axlerod hasn't forgotten how to do that.

That's the ticket

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Simple answers to simple questions

Digby raises some suspicions about why the tabloids aren't going after the rich and famous McCains:
There must be some explanation as to why there have been no stories about Vicki Iseman, no drug stories about Cindy, no stories about McCain's legendary temper tantrums. Why?
Well, paying them off worked pretty well for Arnold and in Iraq.

Ethical? Not a bit

You know, every time I start to think that maybe I could agree with PETA sometimes, they pull something like this that only opportunistic boors would do.

Yes, our government is embarrassing us

The Conservative government continues to be stupid about the Vancouver safe injection site.
... the World Health Organization issued a new guide for countries on how to best tackle the epidemic of HIV-AIDS that strongly endorsed a broad array of harm-reduction measures, including safe-injection sites.
[Canadian minister of health] Mr. Clement said that it is up to each country to decide what measures are appropriate, and “it's not my job to kowtow to orthodoxy.”
. . . Carolyn Bennett, the Liberal public health critic [says]Mr. Clement “opposes supervised injection sites yet says he supports needle exchange, which makes no medical sense.”
She said the Conservative government's stand is driven by ideology, not compassion, and accused Mr. Clement of “embarrassing Canada” on the world stage.
Funny, isn't it, that safe injection sites have now become "orthodoxy". Canada should be taking some credit for leading the world in developing safe injection sites, but the Conservatives just can't change their ideas.
And there is something very strange about this article, too -- the headline reads "Public supports shutting injection site, Ottawa says" but the article makes no reference to any public opinion surveys or to public opinion at all, only to the Conservative government belief that the safe injection site is not "acceptable".
The people making comments on the article pick up on this right away. Commenter Nathan Cool writes:
This just a bold-faced lie! Disgusting. The public supports In-Site.. and who cares if it does?? Science does!
This is about life and death... and I don't mean zombie Jesus riding a dinosaur.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Friendly Floatees’ World Tour

From the website Strange Maps

. . . On January 10, [1992] a container holding almost 29,000 plastic bath toys spills off a cargo ship into the middle of the Pacific Ocean and breaks open. The unsinkable toys, which were en route from Hong Kong to Tacoma (Washington), include a lot of iconic yellow rubber ducks that have since been caught up in the world’s ocean currents and continue turning up on the most improbable shores. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, a retired oceanographer, saw from the beginning how valuable the rubber duckies could be in tracing ocean currents, and correctly predicted their trip through the Northwest Passage.
The toys, or ‘Friendly Floatees’, as they became known, made their first landfall in mid November of 1992, when the counter-clockwise Subpolar Gyre started dumping the yellow rubber ducks (and blue turtles, red beavers and green frogs) on Alaskan shores. It took the ducks about three years to drift full circle on the Gyre – scientists calculate they drift 50% faster than the water in the current itself. They turned up all over the Pacific: Japan, Hawaii, North America and Australia.
As Ebbesmeyer predicted, some ducks escaped the Gyre to flow North through the Bering Strait into the Arctic. Between 1995 and 2000, they slowly drift eastward, frozen in the arctic ice, at a rate of 1 mile per day. In the new millennium, the ducks started reaching the North Atlantic, being sighted from the shores of Maine to Massachusetts. In 2001, the ducks reached the site where the Titanic sank. In 2003, the plastic toys reached the shores of the Hebrides, off the coast of Scotland. This article in the Daily Mail predicted their arrival on the shores of southwestern England in 2007.
If you spot one of these plastic toys on a beach, its colors probably faded by now, with the imprint ‘The Early Years’, then you’ve found one member of the plastic armada that set sail over 15 years ago.
Credit to Edstock at The Galloping Beaver for the link to this great site.

Great line of the day

From Alison:
Sometimes a lizard is just a lizard.
Go! Read! Laugh!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The wimp factor

Here's the truth about the McCain smear campaign against Obama and why Obama needs to hit back hard.
Regardless of how unfair and egregious and mean-spirited and inaccurate and racist and sexist the McCain attacks are, if Obama can't figure out how to defend himself, then American voters will think he can't defend America.
And voters anywhere won't vote for a wimp. Never have, never will.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The new accountability standard

And Bush wondered how historians would remember him!
Someday the Bush administration will only be a miserable memory, but I'm sure his version of accountability will linger on, particularly in these tried-and-true phrases:
"No one could have anticipated..."
"I'm an idiot, not a crook"
"I don't recall..."
"The previous administration did it too."
and these newer phrases which will prove their utility in the future:
"He's suffered enough."
"Let bygones be bygones."
These set a standard which politicians can achieve and journalists endorse.