Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Limited blogging for the next several days -- I'll be back as soon as I can.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Free at last

Here is Cam Cardow's powerful cartoon about Obama closing Guantanamo

What makes this so powerful is its basic truth: when Guantanamo is closed, it is the United States that will be free -- free of its taint to their legal system, free of its distortion to their foreign policy, free of its drain on their morals and values, free of its malignant influence over everything they are trying to achieve in the world now.

Ode to a Deficit

From "anon 1.01" in Comments
Ode To A Deficit by J. Flaherty
Oh budget, how do I blow thee, let me count the ways.
There was that trifling 10 billion in red I was hiding until summer.
Cost of that war and tanks and planes coming due, oh man, tis such a bummer.
By fate we stumbled on this reprieve, a deficit allowed.
That heap of debts I hid till now are lost among the crowd.
Experts like me, we don't come cheap, on the job all the time.
By the way buddy, with pockets deep, think you could spare a dime?
As Saskboy says, anon writes good stuff!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Can the Harper Conservatives manage a deficit?

Basically, I'm with Chet that there is nothing inherently wrong with a government running a deficit as long as the money goes into jobs and roads.
But as I see Conservatives freak out it occurs to me that maybe they know something I don't know.
They know the Harper Conservatives much better than I do.
They know whether these guys actually have the management skills to use deficit spending for the short-term and/or long-term benefit of the country.
So let's consider the track record -- what other complex and controversial programs have the Harper Conservatives managed successfully in the last few years? ... [crickets]
Oh, dear.

No apologies

I love it that Obama is not apologizing for being a democrat. And I love it that Ignatieff is not apologizing for being a liberal.
Because nobody votes for a politician who doesn't believe in himself.


Remember how, within a month of Dion's selection, Harper moved quickly to label Dion as an incompetent wimp?
Well, I think Ignatieff has turned the tables and is now applying a label to Harper.
And the label is Whiny Ass Titty Baby.
Today, Ignatieff criticized the leaks of the projected budget deficit numbers, inserting a characterization of Harper as an immature blowhard:
"I asked Mr. Harper not to play games like that," Ignatieff said during a speech in Toronto.
"I told him to put the facts and figures on the table, not let them slip out at his convenience. But the guy can't help himself. He thinks it is all some kind of game."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fighting Iggy

What a great photo to accompany this Canadian Press story that Iggy will come out swinging against Harper if he has to:

"This budget has three simple tests that it must pass," Ignatieff told Liberal MPs and senators at his first caucus meeting since assuming the leadership last month.
"Will it protect the most vulnerable? Will it save jobs? And most important of all, will it create the jobs of tomorrow?"
Liberal finance critic Scott Brison said the leader's conditions mean the budget must "avoid a long-term structural deficit with irresponsible tax gimmicks that could prove irreversible once the economy recovers."
Sounds like they wouldn't be supporting any kind of Harper magical mystery tour budget.

Great line of the day

Digby posted some music to celebrate the inauguration and then said this:
I was going to put up "Ding Dong The Witch is Dead" but it seemed inappropriate to this moment of reconciliation. But I hummed it.
As did we all.

Monday, January 19, 2009

America the beautiful

What a great concert this was, for a great country -- check out Al Rodger's photos at Daily Kos. This was my favorite, showing Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen at the Washington Mall -- I don't think I have ever seen two happier people than Seeger and Springsteen singing This Land Is Your Land while Barak Obama sang along.
Chief Lawrence Joseph has gone to the inauguration and I envy him -- the experience would be amazing. Chief Joseph says "It's going to be emotional, very exciting and, in my world, a very humbling experience".
The reports I am reading tonight from people who are in Washington now describe the atmosphere as "electric".

Cheap shot

Now that the so-called "cheap shot specialist" of the Commons, Peter Van Loan, is public safety minister, we're reading stories about Education professors being denied entry to speak at academic conferences -- the day before the Obama inauguration. Great timing, guys.
That'll sure convince the Obama administration that Canada is a place they want to do business with, won't it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

To see ourselves as other see us

It's always interesting to read about your city from the viewpoint of someone who had never been here before.
Pretty positive article, except she seemed a little surprised that the hotel was so nice. And of course she mentioned the cold -- and boy, has it ever been cold lately. But its finally warmed up now.
You know, we have large numbers of university students coming here from semi-tropical countries and they must be absolutely stunned at their first winter here. But one thing I tell them -- once you realize that you can live quite happily in Saskatchewan summer and winter, then you can live anywhere in the world, because weather simply will never be a factor to you again.
When we lived on the west coast, we met people who actually could not live in any other part of the country because they were so afraid of winter. So their careers were really truncated as a result.


Steve looks back on what the Harper government has done for the last seven months to deal with the economic crisis:
. . . in the face of an economic storm, our government has been AWOL . . . when I hear talk from the likes of Baird about "quick action" and recognizing the gravity, the proud record of pre-emptive measures, it's worth remembering- 221 days of a Parliament completely AWOL, during the worst economic crisis in at least a generation. . . . where was the Government of Canada during the crucial time? Either on holiday, forcing an election, proroguing Parliament or spending all their energy trying to kill political opponents. That's it, while Rome burned. A disgrace, by any measure.
One of the notable observations about the self-pitying Bush speech last night was that Bush thinks he should get a gold star just for showing up.
Well, Harper hasn't even done that.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Beware the donut of choice!

So Krispy Kreme is offering a free "donut of choice" in celebration of the Obama inauguration.
And there's a group of wingnuts saying this means Krispy Kreme is pro-abortion.
I wonder when they will realize that nobody is going to take this kind of stupidity seriously anymore?

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's really a cookbook

As I read Digby's post about how conservatives still worship Ayn Rand's 50-year-old novel Atlas Shrugged, I started to wonder -- has anyone ever told them "It's a cookbook"?

Great line of the day

Mr. Sinister predicts that the Tory budget will be a magical mystery tour:
The Tories will present a beautiful budget (think Stalin's 1936 Constitution), full of beautiful promises and wads of cash, never to be seen or heard from again (until the next election when they will be reannounced).

That was then, this is now

There was a 1979 episode of MASH on tonight, the one where BJ and Hawkeye are trying to protect a North Korean spy from being interrogated by a South Korean officer who, it is rumoured, tortures his prisoners -- much to BJ's horror and Hawkeye's disgust.
Hawkeye calls him a son-of-a-bitch, the first time these words were ever heard on TV. That's how strongly Americans used to feel about torture.
You can now laugh ruefully and shake your head.
As Avedon Carol says:
The thing about torture, you see, even though it's always gone on, is that we used to recognize it as something so bad you never admitted if you did it. You knew that no decent human being would approve. And you knew that it would be bad for us if we went around bragging about torturing people.
Yes, it has been.
Eight more days.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stupidest article so far this year

I quit subscribing to Newsweek in the 90s when they did a cover story about angels.
The news was that we were all supposed to clap louder.
Now Newsweek has a cover story about devils -- or one in particular. They now apparently think that Dick Cheney was right. They think Obama should validate their Cheney-worship by running and hiding and quaking in fear and torturing people and setting up a personal justice system to jail people without evidence, just the way lovable old Dick did.
But this time, they think Obama should tell Congress about it all and get them to pass laws allowing him to do whatever he wants.
Yea, that'll happen!
Clap louder, why don't you?


Shorter Glenn Greenwald:
Old bums exit there; new bums enter here.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Good jobs and job security

Seems sort of obvious, doesn't it -- nobody's buying nothing until we aren't afraid of losing our jobs. At Daily Kos, Devilstower tells the politicians just what kind of "stimulus" people need:
Just a hint to those planning economic stimulus: a one time payment isn't going to get people to spend. A tax cut isn't going to get people to spend. Not when conditions are like this.
The accelerating job loss — more than one million jobs have disappeared in just two months — suggests that the recession will last at least into early summer, making it the longest since the 1930s. The severe recessions of the mid-1970s and early 1980s each lasted 16 months, the current record.
Good jobs and job security -- that's what will get people to spend.
H/T Scott. Basically, what we need are more unions.

I have an idea to end the Ottawa bus strike

The CP story that the Ottawa transit strike is continuing says this:
It is not clear what the next step will be to end the strike.
Well, Ottawa, here's an idea -- instead of city leaders and federal politicians indulging in wishful thinking about how the rank and file will solve the problem by breaking their own union, and about how the labour relations board will solve the problem by declaring bus drivers as "essential", why don't they just try negotiating in good faith?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Meaningless cruelty

Gitmo will go down in history as a demonstration of how a callous bureaucracy based on unjust authority will devolve into meaningless cruelty.
The Miami Herald report that30 men in Guantánamo are now being force-fed:
Washington lawyer David Remes, who represents 17 Yemenis, said some of his clients launched the latest hunger strike after Yemeni Salim Hamdan went home in November, a month shy of completion of his 66-month prison sentence.
"They've actually gone ballistic at the fact that Hamdan, who was convicted of supporting terrorism, was released and they, who have been charged with nothing, continue to languish there," said Remes, who met with clients before Christmas . . .
Long-held detainees, most held without charge since early 2002, were "elated" that Hamdan was leaving the prison camps, Remes said.
But, "that doesn't mitigate the perverseness of the situation. If an ordinary detainee knew that all you had to be [was] Osama's servant to get out, a lot of them would have fabricated confessions that they were Osama's servant."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Great line of the day

Digby describes a recent incident in Oakland, CA where a transit policeman shot and killed an unarmed man -- the man was under arrest with a bunch of his rowdy friends at a subway station, all were sitting on the floor, some of others had been handcuffed. The man is sitting with his hands in the air, lipping off at the transit police, when one of the transit cops just pulls out his gun and shoots him.
Officials have not said whether the officer intended to shoot Grant. One source familiar with the investigation said BART is looking into a number of issues, including whether the officer had meant to fire his Taser stun gun rather than his gun. Alameda County prosecutors are conducting their own investigation, as is standard in officer-involved shootings.
I wouldn't be surprised if he did. The police use their stun guns on people who are already on the ground and offering no threat all the time. It's no wonder that one of them would get confused and just start shooting people in the same position. They have no sense of what constitutes a real threat anymore.
See, the problem isn't the form of gun they use, a stun gun or one with bullets. It's that they use any gun on people who are already down.
Emphasis mine.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Oh, for crying out loud

We have another cause celebre, folks. It's so-called "third hand smoke" -- its the residue that smokers have hanging around them after they come in from outside, where they had a cigarette.
I think we could actually call this "Memories of Smoking", like President's Choice products.
Here's the first study about it -- well, its not exactly ABOUT it. After we read a lot of stuff about about how carcinogenic smoking is, we find out that the "study" was about whether anybody THINKS that this "third-hand smoke" is bad for children. Surprise, surprise, turns out some people DO think so. So the study didn't actually study the smoking residue itself, nor any impact it might actually have on anyone's health. And rather than concluding that "third-hand smoke" is somehow dangerous, it could just as well have concluded that the health police now have one more way to demonize people who smoke.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Be still my heart...

Pearl-clutching from the Washington Post:
To some staunch conservatives watching President Bush relinquish the reins of power to President-elect Barack Obama, a few too many ardent liberals are now crashing the gates.
Some well-known Democratic activists are advising Obama on how to steer federal agencies . . . Conservatives fear that some of these Obama transition advisers are too far left on the political spectrum and are a sign of radical policies to come.
Oh, if only it were true. Well, I guess we can always hope.

Marginally less annoying

George Stroumboulopoulos' Palin interviews are posted and I found her marginally less annoying now. And I don't think she winked once. There's a little more humility peeking through, not much mind you, but a little:

Friday, January 02, 2009

Great line of the day

Steve V writes about the basic problem with the Coalition:
While our system allows a coalition, while a coalition is entirely justified, particularly given the circumstances, if the public largely views it as a power grab, or a deal with separatists, or a refutation of election results, it will never have the necessary moral authority to govern. The basic idea of a party, which just garnered it's lowest public support total in history taking the helm strikes many as somehow unfair, rightly or wrongly. To plow ahead, comforted in the knowledge of justified procedure, without acknowledging whether the public will view the arrangement as "legitimate" is a recipe for disaster.
Emphasis mine.

Let's give Canada a wedgie!

Canada's Conservatives, bless their hearts! They just never met a wedge issue they didn't like!
Now they're trying to pit those of us who (still) have a job against those of us who don't -- here's Canada's own Monte Solberg bitching about how he wants all those slackers to get off his lawn. In the Conservative lexicon, anyone with a job should think that anyone without a job is just disgusting scum.
As Scott and Jan note, Employment Insurance is not welfare, as much as Conservatives like Harper and Solbert would like to portray it this way. And us employed people would totally support spending the entire EI fund on unemployed people -- a boat we all could be in one day.
Hey, bring it on! I want those surplus billions injected into the economy and the sooner the better!
What neither the Conservative government nor the Liberals before them want us to realize is that the Employment Insurance fund isn't government money at all. It's our money, yours and mine. And disbursements from the EI surplus are not noblesse oblige either -- all of us who have paid into EI for years and years are entitled to it.
I suspect Solberg has heard a whisper that the Cons are actually thinking about enacting the Coalition promise to abandon the two-week waiting period for EI benefits, and as a true blue Conservative, apparently he thinks its outrageous that people should be able to continue to pay their mortgages and feed their families while they're looking for work.
Keep it up, guys -- attitudes like this will ensure that Canadians won't vote for you again.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The American Okee-doke

In an interesting post about FDR and Obama, Lance Mannion also describes the American Okee-doke
From the beginning the Press has conspired in perpetuating what the sadly departed and sorely missed George Carlin called the American Okee-doke, the pretty lies and comforting half-truths that our corporate overseers use to keep us in line by getting us to accept the illusion that all is well in this great Republic of ours, feeding us, as Carlin says in his last concert for HBO , "just enough bullshit to hold things together." Those lies and half-truths include the following:
Land of the Free, home of the brave; all men are created equal; Justice is blind; the Press is free; your vote counts; business is honest; the police are on your side; God is watching you; your standard of living will never decline; and everything is going to be just fine.
"It's all bullshit, folks," says Carlin, almost as his goodbye, "And it's bad for you."
I suppose the Canadian version might be here.

Great line of the day

From Zbigniew Brzezinski to Joe Scarborough:
"You have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on it's almost embarrassing to listen to you."
Though the thing is, Joe was just parroting what every American pundit still says about how Arafat had turned down a great deal.

I agree

This is why I read Eschaton -- he frequently says what I think, too:
I really think the Senate Dems are going to make themselves look ridiculous if they try to avoid seating Burris. Whatever one thinks of Blago, he's still the governor, and he hasn't even been indicted or impeached. If there's no suggestion that this specific appointment is tainted, then I really don't see what the problem is.
All stupid, really.

UPDATE What Digby says:
I realize that it's bizarre that a disgraced governor could legally appoint a senator when he's accused of trying to sell the senate seat in the first place. But I just don't see a good political or legal basis for rejecting him. And neither do many legal beagles who, unlike myself, have the standing to weigh in on such important matters. It appears that my understanding of the law and the constitutional principles involved here are pretty mainstream.