Saturday, February 28, 2009

Canadians talk sense

In spite of a belligerent, derisive, even hostile tone which many journalists are bringing to the Plans of Abraham reenactment story -- witness Macleans and Rex Murphy -- the so-called ordinary Canadians commenting on these stories are displaying much greater sense. Here are some of the comments from Macleans and the Globe to these columns:
Personally, I think it was a good move to cancel the re-enactment of the Battle on the Plains of Abraham. Ever since 1759 this little battle has been a sore point with every generation of French Canadians. Why would the rest of Canada want to flaunt “our” win in glowing colours and graphic productions?

It’s time to move on, to stop dressing up, brandishing muskets, pikes and tomahawks. There is much more to write about in our nation than the nostalgic foolishness to which you devote a page.

Were we to focus more energy on making more perfect the union of anglophone and francophone cultures that make, in large part, our wonderful nation, we might one day get over the silly desire to reenact, and learn to appreciate the good that came of the unfortunate need for a "contest" of this nature in the first place.

No doubt Mr. Murphy also sees nothing wrong with the Orange Order marching through Catholic neighbourhoods in Ulster each year, to taunt residents with the defeat of their forefathers at the Battle of the Boyne. As significant as the battle on the Plains of Abraham is, it was a defeat for the French and is regarded with personal ignominy by many Quebec residents.
Perhaps, Rex, we could persuade Stephen Harper to perform an annual re-enactment of the tearing up of the Atlantic Accords .....on Signal Hill, of course. I'm sure Danny's boys would welcome him with open arms.
Exactly! Canceling this reenactment was a positive step for today's Canada. And now McGinty won't allow it in Ontario, either -- good for him.
The organizers are apparently talking about moving the event to upstate New York, why I don't know. It makes even more questionable whether the goal of this whole exercise was ever to simply reenact history or to actually rub Quebec's nose in it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ahhh. Isn't this sweet?

We're still friends, Saskatchewan Premier says of Ottawa
Spike and Chester, together again.

He said "stimulus" heh heh heh

Paul Krugman explains:
the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead.

Just desserts

Four mounties were afraid of a stapler? The Mounties will have a hard time living this one down. They may win the battle in the Dziekanski inquiry, but they'll lose the war.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shh! Don't tell the Republicans

Tonight, after Obama's great inspiring speech, Republican Bobby Jindall was babbling about the Republican health care plan.
As Chris Matthews said, Uhhh? Six years in power and the Republicans never once mentioned health care or did anything about it. For the last eight years, the Republicans did absolutely nothing about health care in America.
And it occurred to me to wonder -- what if they did?
For much of the 45 years since Tommy Douglas brought in medicare, Saskatchewan voters kept voting NDP. And for much of the 40 years since the Canadian Health Act enforced nation-wide medicare standards, Canadian voters kept voting Liberal.
Oh, sure, I know, there were lots of reasons that people voted for and against the NDP and the Liberals over the last four decades. But medicare was a core value of both parties, and the voters knew it. Basically, we knew medicare would continue to be safe as long as we kept the NDP in power provincially, and the Liberals in power federally.
Now, I've read that the Republicans don't want the Democrats to bring in universal medicare because they're afraid of how popular the Democrats would be as a result.
But I wonder if the Republicans will ever realize that, if they could only introduce or take credit for bringing Americans real honest-to-goodness universal medical care, they will have guaranteed themselves American voters for the next 40 years?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Please, God, send another bubble

I promise not to miss it this time.
During the tech bubble, when people were selling website wisps and visions for hundreds of thousands of dollars, my husband and I were saying to each other, "We don't understand this, there's no value there, how can this be worth any money?"
And we didn't make a penny.
And during the housing bubble, when people were selling condos for hundreds of thousands of dollars, my husband and I were saying to each other, "We don't understand this, there's no value there, how can this be worth any money?"
And we didn't make a penny.
Obviously, I guess, that's the clue -- when we don't get it, its going to be big!
So the next time we find ourselves saying "We don't understand this, there's no value there, how can this be worth any money?" -- time to plunge!

Great line of the day

Steve at Far and Wide warns us not to let Harper bask in Obama's glow:
Don't let the ass ride the donkey.


Ahenakew said:
"Thank God it's over. And I mean that. It has been awful."
Not compared to Dachau.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hitting the reset button

If you are trying to follow the financial news but are totally confused about what is going on and why, just read Billmon:
The broad story is well known, even to the cable TV pinheads: Housing Bubble + Subprime Mortgage Lending + Derivatives = Armageddon.. . .
But even now I’m not sure if many people fully understand just how insanely reckless the carnival was, to the point where future historians will speak of "structured finance" in much the same the way we talk about the bubonic plague.
The carriers (fleas and rats) of this particular epidemic were the bright young Wall Street things who invented the concept of securitized lending . . .
So here we are: The banks are sitting on paper originally valued at 100 cents on the dollar (or even more) which is now worth 20 or 10 or 0 cents. If they sell the stuff at those prices, most of the capital they’ve put behind those assets will be erased, leaving them insolvent, technically and perhaps literally – as in, unable to cover their current liabilities. On the other hand, if they don’t sell their pieces of Big Shitpile, all their capital (including what Uncle Sam has already thrown into the till) will remain frozen in place, blocking them from doing any new lending. Without new lending, they can’t earn the profits they need to make good the losses they are sitting on. Zombies. Night of the Living Dead Banks.
The banks know this, investors know this, Geithner and Co. know this. And everybody knows that the others know. So the only way to get private investors (many of whom have already lost a few pounds of their own flesh to the bear) to bid on Big Shitpile is to make them offers they can’t refuse – and I’m not talking about leaving a horse’s head in their beds, although I suppose it could come to that.
The Sunday talk shows seem to agree that the only way out now is for the US government to take over the banks.
Just reset everything to zero and start again. Well, that ought to go over well with Glenn Beck's viewers.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Helpful advice about torture

"If the detainee dies you're doing it wrong."
What the Gitmo interrogators were told in 2002 about how to recognize that they had violated the Geneva conventions against torture.

"Plug and play interoperability"

Alison reports on the newest terminology for what used to be called "deep integration" and before that was called, I think, "customs union" with the United States.
I guess as Canadians begin to understand each term, and it starts to poll worse, they have to change it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Shooting themselves in the foot

This is why I have come to believe the United States will never introduce government-paid medical care at the national level -- can you imagine how many rants would be heard about how awful it would be to "reward" all those "losers" -- ie, women having too many babies and young people getting addicted to drugs and men shooting each other up.
You know, poor people.
The same people who obviously caused the economic meltdown by buying houses.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

Talking about "Canadian" names

One of the best things about Canada, I believe, is that we aren't a melting pot where people congeal together into some bland homogeneous "Canadian" soup. Rather, we continue to strive to be a multi-cultural country where we all can maintain our distinctiveness. Je me souviens applies to all of us.
Over at Dawg's Blawg they're having a fascinating discussion about what makes a name "Canadian". Sprinkled among some wingnut anti-immigrant rantings there are some great comments -- like this one from Cameron:
. . . here's my checklist:
Passed the criminal background check? Got a passport? Know not to put your tongue or damp hand on metal objects during the winter?
Brendan adds
Omar Khadr is a Canadian name, though not many seem to believe it.
So is Mahar Arar. And North of 49 shares a story:
For my kids' generation (in a big cosmopolitan city, anyway), a name is just a name. Some are a little trickier to pronounce (teacher Mrs Abousaffi told the kids to just call her "Mrs A", for example), and while the kids are always aware of and curious about the name's origins, it isn't an "other" thing, like a tribal label; it's a personal thing, like the colour of someone's hair. For these kids, Mohammed or Ali or Jamshyd or Puran are already as unremarkable as Tom, Dick or Harriet. . . . At the dealership where my Filipino friend works, there's only one "white" salesman, the rest are first-generation immigrants from various places that have nothing in common except that there's no hockey. Yet during the playoffs, when there are no customers anyway because they're all watching the Canucks on TV, all five of these guys are crowded around the one small TV in the sales manager's office, whooping like cowhands on payday.
Dawg quotes a comment from a friend of his
. . . my mother married a Roma, and her twin sister a Cree, my grandfather on my father's side was a Hassidic Russian Jew whose family fled Russia to escape the pogroms. He married a Romani woman, one of my younger cousins just married a Mohawk man, and another aMexican man, I married an Italian, a Jamaican, and than a Jamaican Chinese man, my other cousin married a Chinese man, my best friends are Metis, Jamaicans, Jews and Vietnamese. I sent my son out West to go live with the Metis and he spent the last week spent fishing and hunting with the Blackfoot and he now he doesn't want ever want to come to Toronto. My daughter's closest friends are Iranian, Vietnamese, Ghanian, and Russian in origin.
Dawg says "That sums up Canada for me in microcosm, and it's one of the reasons I love the place."
Yes, indeed.

Great planning, guys

So in 2001 the announced plan for the Afghanistan War was for NATO to help the United States knock the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan because it had harboured Al Quaeda and Bin Laden.
Fast forward to 2009.
Far too many of the scary terrorists turned out to be malnourished Afghans, Australian adventurers, and violent children. Not only have the Taliban taken back huge swaths of Afghanistan, it appears now they are taking over huge swaths of nuclear-armed Pakistan as well.
As Bill Murray said when Danny Aykroyd thought of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, "Great thinking, Ray!"

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why would anyone want to hear Bush?

They seem to expect 1,500 people will attend George Bush's speech in Calgary, but why they don't say -- I can't imagine why anyone in Calgary or anywhere else would care what Bush has to say anymore.


The Toronto Star reports that Harper -- the guy who presented himself to Canadians in October as Mr. Sweater, the Kitten Whisperer -- is trying to use the economic crisis to sneak some right-wing pandering into the budget bill.
He just can't stop himself, can he?

So let them chatter

They're pitching a fit in the US about whether Obama will reinstate the old "fairness doctrine". The Politico finger-wags:
[President Obama] stating [opposition to reinstatement] clearly would quickly silence a lot of conservative critics who assume the Democratic president is going to push to reinstate the defunct policy. Otherwise, the Fairness Doctrine chatter on the airwaves isn't likely to die down.
But what the Politico doesn't understand is this: They're going to chatter about something, so it actually doesn't matter whether Obama wants to reinstate this or not, as long as right-wing radio remains afraid that he might. And the more they emote and weep and wail about it, the more they are admitting to their listeners that they AREN"T actually fair.

The War Nerd on Gaza

The War Nerd finally writes about the January war in Gaza. And what he says isn't pretty. Here's the gist of it:
The lowdown on Gaza is simple: in the short run, Israel did a decent job of killing Hamas’s cadre. Gaza’s a small place, and it was pretty much shooting fish with headscarves in a sandy barrel. They blew up the place real good, made themselves feel better after getting roughed up by Hezbollah a couple years ago. OK, so you’re a Hell of a counterpuncher; so what?. . . what happens five years from now when all those dead Hamas guys’ little brothers are ready to graduate from the rebuilt Gaza I-Hate-the-Jews Academy.
He concludes that Israel is going destroy itself in the long run if it doesn't start making better decisions:
. . . what a lot of people don’t get about war is there comes a time when there ain’t no smart moves any more. . . . And Israel, in the long term…well, they’ve got those 200 nukes, and the US Congress…and that’s about all. They won’t get driven into the sea like Arafat used to screech, but they’ll get meaner and smaller until all the smart people, the ones who can, will get out, and what’s left will be another scrappy desert fort making deals with the locals. A lot of Crusader kingdoms went out that way, just one decision away from getting re-absorbed into the Muslim soup. If they’d made a deal with the Mongols, maybe we could’ve done something with this. But nooooooo, they were too snotty. Nope, doesn’t look good, and worse yet it’s going to be some ugly maintenance wars, where you have to blast a lot of schools and hospitals, and still don’t get anywhere. Like that scene in Fight Club where he bleeds all over the Mafia guy, till the wise guy screams he can use the basement. “Lou! Lou! You don’t know where I’ve been!”

Great comment of the day

In Marcy Wheeler's latest post about the developing investigation against the Bush administration torture memo lawyers, commenter "Scribe" writes:
I work as a lawyer. I’ve been one for about 20 years. Addington, Yoo, and the rest of those thugs with bar admissions have given me every reason to rage at, and every reason to hate, both them and their use of my profession. Liars, cheaters, thieves, deadbeats, busted marriages, cops and all the rest are the daily flow of lawyering. But the one group who deserve nothing but to be rooted out of the profession and their careers ended are those who use the law and their skill in it to destroy the law. The lawyer who steals from a client is bad enough. But he steals only money. The lawyer who uses the law to destroy the law steals not from a client, but from both everyone in the future - who will have to live under a system he perverted - and from those in the past who sacrificed their lives for the ideal of law. And he steals something more precious than money. He steals liberty from the future, and shits on the sacrifice of the past.


I just pulled a post from yesterday because it was based on a news story that was 18 months old -- can't remember now how exactly I found it, or why I thought it was actually new.
Don't you hate it when that happens?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Not outrageous

So Wolfe won and Montcalm lost and ever since we've been singing one of the most xenophobic songs ever written.
Now I like history. But I just can't work up any outrage over this -- it looks like we are not going to reenact some battle from 250 years ago because said reenactment would be needlessly provocative and insulting to many Canadians in Quebec. Good decision.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Great comment of the day

Scott Lemieux asks the world to Make It Stop about the total awfulness of A-Rod the Steroid Boy Wonder, and commenter McKingford makes this good point:
I always feel like I'm living in some Bizarro-alternate world reality when people get all faux-hysterical about steroids in baseball.
The NFL plays its Pro Bowl today. The NFL now routinely employs men who tip the scales at 350+. 20 years ago virtually nobody did. Yet we dreamily pretend that this phenomenon is entirely a product of grain feeding...
And just to be sure I'm not exaggerating the double standard, lets step back two years. The then-reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Shawn Merriman tested positive for steroids. He quietly served a four game suspension and resumed play, and was *again* a leading candidate (despite missing 1/4 of the season) for DPY. And nary a "tsk" was heard.
Like I said, I feel like the last sane man alive, as the world overturns every stone in an effort to root out steroids in baseball while the NFL drones away, and we all quietly pretend that it doesn't consume enough steroids to double the US annual beef production.

Uh, Mike . . .

PSA has a message for Senator Duffy:
. . . a senator in our parliamentary system has a duty to country, queen and constitution first and party affiliation second. We'll likely be stuck with Senator Duffy long after Steve Harper's political ship has run aground. It would be very nice if he figured out that he doesn't work for Harper, he works for us. The job of that house is to keep the short sighted, partisan twits from the commons from setting the whole damn place to ruin.
And Dave chimes in:
What Duffy demonstrated is what we could expect from elected senators: An endless stream of partisan diarrhea acting as the mouthpiece for their party leader because the only way they would get there is by being an active supporter of a particular party.
What Duffy hasn't gathered in is that the substantial shield he enjoys from his Senate seat protects him from the likes of Harper - not the Canadian public. The whole idea is that a senator rises above the partisan fray - not joins it.
. . . Duffy is no more qualified to engage in sober second judgment than he was to critically question the powerful as an advocate of the fourth estate.
Mike Duffy, proving the case against Senate reform since 2009!

Australian wildfires

Here is one touching photo from the Herald Sun Homepage, where you will find great coverage of the terrible fires with interactive maps.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Praise for Ignatieff

Looks like the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix agrees with me about Ignatieff's leadership:
Saskatchewan citizens know there is not one Conservative MP with the courage to stand up publicly for their province if that means raising the ire of the unelected officials in Mr. Harper's office. At least the people of Newfoundland know where their MPs stand and they know Mr. Ignatieff had the courage to allow them to walk a different path to the same destination.

Is anybody surprised

that Mike Duffy said something offensive and sexist?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Everybody limbo!

Just when you think that the news couldn't get more trivial, they lower the bar again.
In Canada, when Saskatoon's mayor announced everyone had to wear a tie in his office, the whole country laughed and he was dubbed Craziest Mayor in Canada.
Washington takes itself way too seriously.

Oh Noes!

Posted by commenter Begone at Kos

Mad as hell

During the Bush years, the best interests of our country took a back seat to the GOP's failed ideology. Right now, it looks like the best interests of our country are taking a back seat to the failed ideology of "bipartisanship".
Lance Mannion:
It never occurred to me to worry, even at four in the morning, that [President Obama's] vanity lay in his seeing himself as the Great Conciliator. . . . .
[but with the appointment of Gregg as Commerce secretary] Gregg has said, Sure, I'll come work to enact your programs and policies, Mr President, but only if my friends in the Senate retain the same power they had before to sabotage and destroy those programs and policies, and the President agreed to this.
Which looks to me as though it's more important for the President to be able to boast about the number of Republicans in his cabinet than to get his own programs and policies passed by the Senate.
Talking Points Memo:
Obama is, sadly, much to blame for giving the Republicans so much leverage. He defined the challenge as biparitsanship not saving the U.S. economy. . . . He spent the last two weeks empowering Republicans -- including negotiating with them to get more into Senate and his administration and giving them virtual veto-power over his agenda -- and also spending time on his personal cool-guy image (as in interview before the Super Bowl). The country is in danger and he ran for president to solve this crisis in a socially inclusionary way. He should be fighting on that front all the time with all his energies.
I think the administration thought they could be mediators between the two parties rather than leaders of the Democratic party. That just won't work . . .
Chris Bowers:
. . . what does President Obama want the American people to do? We are in the midst of a major crisis right now, and shown time and time again that we are willing to take action to help remedy the problem. Millions, tens of millions, of people feel incredibly frustrated, trapped even, and are unsure what to do next. While they are ready to act, someone needs to make the ask. Right now, the person to make the ask is President Obama, but he isn't doing it. What does President Obama want us to do? The silence is deafening.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The difference between Liberals and Conservatives

So with all the sturm and dang about the Newfoundland Liberals voting against the budget, what we are seeing now is the essential difference in leadership now between the Harper Conservatives and the Ignatieff Liberals: The Conservatives will listen only to what their leader wants, while the Liberals will listen to what their constituents want.

Sweet Jasmine

This is an amazing story: What happened to Michael Vick's dogs... . Beautifully written and dealing honestly with the tragedies of these poor animals, and the debate that rages still about whether it was worthwhile to put the effort into saving them. Yet it also shows the amazing grace of these animals, how much they have enriched the lives of the people who now love them.
And you'll never forget Sweet Jasmine:
"Vick showed the worst of us, our bloodlust, but this rescue showed the best," Reynolds says. "I don't think any of us thought it was possible to save these dogs -- the government, the rescuers, the regular people -- but we surprised ourselves."
Jasmine doesn't know about any of that as she sits on the back deck of Stirling's house. Stirling kneels next to her, gently stroking the dog's back. "I used to think any dog could be rehabbed if you gave it food, exercise and love," she says, "but I know now it's not totally true. Jasmine's happy, but she'll never be like other dogs."
It's quiet for a moment, and the breeze blows a shower of brown and red leaves off the trees. Then Jasmine turns, looks up, and licks Catalina's face. It is the sweetest of kisses.