Thursday, April 30, 2009

This little piggy stayed home

Cam Cardow

I don't think WHO is going to be able to convince the world's media to call this the "H1N1 influenza A" -- doesn't exactly roll tripingly off the tongue.
Some of the commenters on Effect Measure have other suggestions:
"I saw a funny article from Finland that the English translation call it the TexMex Flu."
"I call the virus the "USA Capitalist Pig Virus". The stories I have read have all linked the inception to a USA Corporate owned hyper-intensive pig farm in Mexico."
"My friends and I are calling it the "Flying Piggy Flu". It's "flying" because it has avian genes. (I suppose we should have worked humans into the name somehow, but this has a nice ring to it.) Also "piggy" seems more friendly/less scary than "swine". The fact that "flying" is sometimes used in place of a more common f-word in polite company had nothing to do with it, but is a nice added bonus."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Game On!

I hadn't really been following the BC election, but today's polling news is startling. The NDP have just about caught up with the Liberals. As RossK now says,
Game On!
Here are some of the poll tidbits:
Even though their reputations seem equally sullied, people chose Campbell almost twice as often (40 per cent) as James (23 per cent) when asked who would make the best premier. . .
The poll shows a growing gender gap in the B.C. election. While nearly half of women (48 per cent) are planning on voting NDP, only 35 per cent are planning to go with the BC Liberals.
The leading party seems to sit better with male voters. Forty-eight per cent polled said they'd stay under Campbell's leadership, as opposed to the 31 per cent who said they'd go NDP.
Age is also a large factor in the party people choose to vote for. Young voters aged 18 to 34 are more likely to vote NDP (41 per cent) and Green (19 per cent). Only 32 per cent of young voters indicated they would re-elect BC Liberals.
Here is one tidbit I thought was particularly interesting. The CTV story says:
Campbell also won the contest for best dinner date. Fifty-one percent of people said they'd rather have dinner with the Liberal, beating out James by two per cent.
It would be more accurate to describe this result as a "virtual tie" and it shows that James isn't as poorly thought of as the rest of the article implies.
And sorry, but I've just got to say it -- it would probably help her public image if she would update her hairstyle -- longer, looser, and get rid of those heavy bangs!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


It sorta painful, in a metaphysical sense, watching people twist themselves into pretzels as they try to justify torturing people. TBogg quotes Andy McCarthy writing at The Corner:
The pertinent question is whether the interrogations gave us valuable information about al Qaeda that we wouldn't have gotten, in a timely manner, without it. Information about a specific imminent terrorist attack would have been nice too. In my mind, we should never resort to enhanced measures unless we believe in good faith that attacks are being planned and possibly imminent. But obtaining intelligence about a specific imminent attack would not have been necessary to validate the use of the enhanced measures. . . .
Whether the enhanced measures are validly used, moreover, has to be determined by the threat situation before the enhanced measures are employed. Sure, it's crucial to study the quality of the information the tactics yielded in making the policy decision of whether they should ever be used. Once you decide to have them in your arsenal, however, the determination of whether they were properly employed on any one occasion has to hinge on the situation that existed before you decided to use them, . . .
TBogg adds:
Did you get all that? He's against torture except not.
...and that "Information about a specific imminent terrorist attack would have been nice too" is a lovely touch. It's like a grace note for sociopaths.
Oh, and by the way, using a term "enhanced measures" instead of "torture" is like a drug addict calling heroin "my medication". George Orwell would laugh.

I love the internets


Politics has consequences

A public health blog, Effect Measure, reports on what is going to hamper the US response to the swine flu pandemic:
There is another relevant fact that should be mentioned here. CDC [Centre for Disease Control]is an agency on organizational hold, with an Acting Director. As public health professionals they are doing a heroic job, but they depend on DHHS [Department of Health and Human Services] , of which they are a part, for building government-to-government relationships. Those relationships suffered badly during the Bush years, with the result that Mexico had a better and more comfortable connection with Canada than the US. So why hasn't the Obama administration righted the problem? Because, among other things, there is still no Secretary of DHHS. Obama's nominee, the highly capable administrator Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, has had her confirmation held up by Republican ideologues playing abortion politics.
If ever there was a time when we needed strong leadership at DHHS, this is it. Playing politics has consequences.

Stage 3

This swine flu spread is pretty scary, isn't it. I've been reading up on the WHO website and we are now considered to be at Stage 3.
Stage 4 is the kaboom stage.
Sounds like all we can really do is wash our hands lots and stay away from large public gatherings.
Some people are buying surgical masks, I guess, but unless the person wearing the mask is the infected person, I'm not sure of their utility -- with SARS, it was determined that heatlh care workers were being infected by breathing the air that was getting around the side of their surgical masks, so they might as well not have worn them.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Thanks to everyone who voted in the Canadian F-word Blog Awards at Creative Revolution. The winner in my category was Womanist Musings -- congratulations, Renee!
And thanks, again, Alison at Creekside, for nominating me.


Considering how poor the memories of RCMP officers apparently are, its amazing they can still testify in court cases, isn't it?

October 15?

It is, I think, a terrible mistake for Obama to give the Republicans six months, until October 15, to torpedo his health care bill — they may be dumb, but they’re not stupid.
If the Democrats actually succeed in giving Americans some kind of guaranteed health care, the voters will be grateful forever. So Republicans will move heaven and earth to prevent Democrats from doing this.
Now, a sensible Republican party would join with the Democrats in passing this bill, so they could take credit for it, too. Maybe this is what Obama thinks they will do if they have six months to think about it. But these guys are too dumb, and too entangled with their own anti-government ideology. Besides, Rush Limbaugh wants Obama to fail, and making sure health care reform fails will be his highest priority.
It’s going to be a long summer.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Cordell Barker, the creator of The Cat Came Back, is showing his newest at Cannes
Here's the classic:

Here's the NFB website.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Have you no shame?

Oh for pity's sake, Mr. Prime Minister.
Stop whining and pontificating and ducking and weaving and just do the right thing.
I don't like Omar Khadr either, but he is a Canadian citizen.
Bring him home.

Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in

You know how during the Bush administration whenever there was something going on that didn't make sense, it always turned out to be worse than you could ever have imagined?
Its a nightmare that just won't end, because it's happening AGAIN.
One thing that didn't make sense about the Bush administration using communist and vietnamese torture techniques was that these weren't actually aimed at gathering information but rather at provoking false confessions.
But now we find out that the Bush administration actually wanted false confessions all along::
Having realized that there really was no evidence of a Saddam/Al Qaeda connection (and later that there were no WMD in Iraq) they had to come up with some false information that they could spin. The best way to come up with false information ... is to torture it out of people.

Playing with dolls

I hadn't heard about this ridiculous Michael Coren column about how unwomanly female soldiers are until I read about it over at Galloping Beaver. Dave and the Rev say just about everything that needs to be said about this sexist drivel.
The only additional point I want to make is this:
I've been dealing with this kind of dinosaur attitude all my life, where some men, and some women too, think it is chilvalrous and they are doing women a favour by preventing us from going into dangerous or lonely or physically demanding careers like construction workers, police officers, firemen, forestry workers, ambulance drivers, doctors, veterinarians, long-haul truckers -- or soldiers.
Consciously or unconsciously, they see women as Barbie dolls -- women aren't real people, we are just gender objects. People who think this way use words like "pretty" and "sexy" to describe young women, and words like "frumpy" and "bitchy" to describe older women -- the words don't actually describe us as individuals but only as how we look or how we relate to the men in our lives. We are really nothing but bit-players in the real world, the world where men do the real work.
The tip-off that we are dealing with another dinosaur is this: inevitably, somewhere we always find a mealy-mouthed, head-patting line about how very very special it is to be a woman because we bear the children and isn't this just the most important "job" of all!
The coda is, so just shut up about all this stupid equality stuff, and go cook something delicious like only you ladies can! And since you're in the kitchen anyway, can you iron me a shirt for tomorrow?
This attitude toward women was so ingrained in our society that many people didn't even realize they had it until they first heard the doctor riddle.
I wonder if Coren would get it even now?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grear line of the day

Digby on the torture memos
It was bloodlust, plain and simple. They gave themselves permission to become barbarians.
And everyone from Bush and Rumsfeld and Condi and Colin Powell on down started lying about Abu Ghraib in April 2004 and have never stopped:
That we now have even more proof they consciously sent these SERE techniques to Iraq to "Gitmoize" it --- a country which we invaded under false pretenses and which had not attacked us first --- takes these crimes to yet another level. If nothing else, allowing a bunch of low level grunts to pay the price while the men and women who gave the orders publicly pretended they were appalled at the behavior they themselves had sanctioned, makes all arguments that these leaders shouldn't be held accountable completely untenable.

S & M Republicans

There's something very S & M about Republicans these days.
They spent the last eight years knuckling under to George Bush whenever Karl Rove cracked the whip. And now that Bush and Rove are gone, they're submitting to Rush Limbaugh. It's like they just can't be happy unless they're made somebody into the party dominatrix.
And come to think of it, the Conservatives under Harper aren't much better, are they? Its odd to see so many grown people enjoying being ordered around.

Just a little oopsie

RCMP "sorry" for inaccurate remarks on Dziekanski incident
Sgt. Lemaitre arrived at the police station at 6.30 a.m., was briefed by a fellow Mountie and watched a portion of a video of the incident that had been shot by a bystander.
But many details subsequently released by Sgt. Lemaitre were wrong, and the spokesman did a string of interviews in the next couple of days that repeated the errors . . .
On the witness stand, Sgt. Lemaitre insisted these erroneous statements were honest mistakes on his part. He was handed this information from a fellow Mountie, Corporal Dale Carr, the media spokesman for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, which handles serious crime.
Hmmm, now what does this remind me of?

Monday, April 20, 2009


Shorter Jack Layton to Stephen Harper
Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who.

Sending a message

Just as the Wilson leak was a message to the CIA from the Bush administration that agents' careers could be ruined overnight if they were disloyal, now so the Harman expose is a message to Congress from the CIA that political careers can be ruined overnight if they start investigating what was really going on during the Bush administration.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Final exam

When you heard this news
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 and Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002.
was your first response "Oh My God!" or "Fuck, yeah"?
Putting aside the cruelty, illegality and futility of what the CIA was doing in the name of protecting America, the torture memos are also a personal test for all of us of just how civilized, humane, moral and decent we really are.

Off the record

Glenn Greenwald writes about the sycophantic practices of Washington journalist Mike Allen in letting an anonymous Bush smear-merchant trash Obama "off the record". About the same incident, Andrew Sullivan writes:
Allen is allowing a member of the administration that broke the Geneva Conventions and committed war crimes to attack the current president and claim, without any substantiation, that the torture worked. He then allows that "top official" to proclaim things that are at the very least highly questionable. What journalistic standard is Allen following in allowing such a person to speak anonymously?
And how much lower can he sink in craving buzz and traffic?
And here's another anecdote about a Washington villager who thought he could stop reporters from attributing remarks he made in a public forum to a thousand people merely by retroactively declaring his public appearance "off the record".
It reminds me of George M. Cohan's song about FDR, "Off the Record", as sung by Jimmy Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Check the price tag

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has produced a very interesting report on how much we benefit from public services.
And the answer is that we each benefit to the tune of about $17,000 a year, plus or minus. This is the value of all of the public services provided to each of us by Canadian governments at the federal, provincial and municipal levels -- that's schools, hospitals, medicare, cleaning snow off the streets, and all the other stuff that governments do for people.
Poor people benefita little more, rich people a little less, but the range isn't that large.
Two of the results I found most interesting.
First, when ideologues try to pit Canadians against each other by implying that our social welfare system gives disproportionate and unfair benefits poor people or brown people or immigrants or disabled people or people with children, well, this just isn't true. Over our lifetimes, we all benefit relatively equally:
. . . seniors derive significant benefit from personal transfer payments like Old Age Security, the Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Canada/Quebec Pension Plans. As they age further, they realize increasing benefits from the health care system.
Families with young children will tend to benefit relatively more from the health care system, whereas families with older children will tend to benefit from the public education system to a greater extent than other types of families.. . .
Canadians draw remarkably similar levels of benefit from public services in the aggregate over their lifetimes, although the specific types of public services that are the source of that benefit vary over their lifetime.
So much for wedge issues.
And second, we've got to stop slobbering like Pavlov's dogs every time a politician waves a tax decrease our way.
. . . public policy debate over taxes without reference to the public services impact of tax cuts is like shopping without looking at the price tags. Just as some Canadians can afford to shop without looking at price tags, some Canadians’ incomes are high enough that they can buy into tax cuts and remain confident that their private gains will be greater than their public services losses. But the vast majority of Canadians can’t or shouldn’t shop without looking at the tags.

Strange days indeed

Somebody told me there'd be days like these.
The Indians scored 14 runs -- in the second inning!
The pitcher now has an earned run average of 34.5. He said "I'm going to keep trying to work things out in the bullpen." Yeah...

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century!

I wonder if Gerry Ritz will crack a few jokes?

In spite of an apparently gratuitous swipe at his federal counterpart, the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health clearly lays the blame for the deaths of two dozen Canadians last summer on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:
July 16.. . two residents of a nursing home in Toronto became ill with listeriosis. One died. The listeriosis outbreak was traced to deli meats from a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto. But the Canadian Food Inspection Agency did not tell health officials until Aug. 14 that meats contaminated with the listeria bacteria might also have been distributed to grocery stores and deli counters. . . The public did not become aware of the problem until Aug. 19, when the CFIA announced a broad recall of Maple Leaf products.
The CFIA report, which as the Globe reports, was also "quietly posted" today on "a government website", also contains what I think is something of a bombshell.
Buried in section 4.2 of the report, we read that Maple Leaf Foods apparently had found listeria bacteria on surfaces in the problem plant repeatedly between May and August. But they didn't tell CFIA about it until after the scandal broke.
Subsequent to the outbreak, Est. 97B {the Maple Leaf Foods plant] staff provided the CFIA with documentation that the environmental sampling program for Est. 97B had identified positive results for Listeria spp. on a number of occasions between May - August.
Now, they hadn't been finding it in the products they were testing, but they weren't actually testing very many products, only one batch a month. Maple Leaf Food's procedure, when they did find listeria on surfaces, was to clean and retest:
The MLF Directive for Environmental Listeria spp. Swab Monitoring, outlines the corrective actions to be followed when a positive result is found, including additional sanitation action and retesting to verify that the site sampled no longer had Listeria.
So when the listeria bacteria kept on showing up, why didn't anyone think there might be a problem?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Need a lift?



Thanks very much to everyone who voted for me at the F-Word Blog awards -- I am honoured and humbled to report that I made it into the finalist round in the "Best Political blog" category. Here are the other fine blogs also in this finalist round:
Challenging the Commonplace
Womanist Musings
Alison at Creekside
And this is an extremely impressive group of bloggers.
Final voting is this weekend, April 18 and 19.
And thanks again, Alison, for nominating me.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"Party like its 1773"? Huh?

Here are some of the suggestions for protest signs from a tea party event listed on the Pajamas TV website:
Party like it's 1773
Home ownership is not an entitlement
Cut Taxes, Not Deals
Next Time, Read the Bill Before You Sign It
You Can't Borrow to Prosperity
Don't Mortgage the Future
Solve Problems, Don't Sweep Them Under the Table
220 Years to Build the Republic, 1 Month to Destroy It
Pretty incoherent and not particularly snappy -- and what the heck is "Party like its 1773" all about anyway?
"Make Love, Not War" and "No War for Oil" were a lot better, I think, but then those were for protests that actually made sense. The so-called "tea parties" are astroturfed.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Here's your shot of pessimism for this week

Digby refers us to two articles today:
First one by Stirling Newbery says don't look for the American economy because you won't find it:
Taking out the defense and financial sectors, and the unemployment rate in the United States isn't the headline 8.5%, but is, in fact, closer to 15% and marching upwards. There is no domestic economy for all practical purposes at this point, other than what is needed to extract every loose dime from the American public to pay off debts.
And Numerian at the Agonist says this isn't going to end well
. . . When the financing tap is finally shut off by the bond markets, we’ll start making our first interest payments on this new debt. It will come in the form of much higher long term interest rates, a weaker U.S. dollar, an inability to import cheap Chinese goods, and declining living standards. All this will happen because the U.S. will have eaten its seed corn. Its businesses will have been shorn of their retained earnings. Consumers will have depleted the equity in their homes. The ability of the federal government to raise taxes and protect the good faith and credit of the U.S. will be shot . . .
The U.S. will be approaching peak oil and water shortages at the very moment it runs out of financial equity and taxing power. It will be an ugly situation . . .
So what do we do, cash out the pension and head for the hills? Well, I suppose there's nothing wrong with being a little more self-sufficient...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Great line of the day

The War Nerd writes about why there are still aircraft carriers and I think this may also be the reason why it was so damned important in Washington to save Citibank and AIG and all the rest of the financial dinosaurs on Wall Street:
. . . whether it’s knights charging with lances on very expensive horses or top gun brats like McCain zooming onto carrier decks in history’s most expensive aircraft, you’ll always find that the worst, most over-funded services are always the ones where the rich kids go to show their stuff. Seriously: why are there aircraft carriers? For asses like John McCain to crash on. Why do they keep getting funded long after they’ve been shown up? The same reason knights were galloping around pretending that the longbow hadn’t turned half their friends into pincushions: because it was a way of life for the richest and dumbest people in the country and they weren’t about to let it go.
Emphasis mine.

Canadian unity

So at least this recession will be good for something -- Alberta is finally joining the rest of us in bitching at Ottawa for better treatment.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thanks for the nomination

Thanks, Alison, for the nomination as Best Feminist political blog over at A Creative Revolution's The Canadian F-word Blog Awards.
It is truly an honour to be nominated in this category.

Things I didn't know

I didn't know that CBC Radio had an interview show about bands playing in Toronto.
I didn't know that Willie Nelson was on tour with Billy Bob Thornton's band.
I didn't even know that Billy Bob Thornton HAD a band.
Well, now I do.
It's sort of painful to watch someone I formerly admiredact like a jerk and screw up both their acting career and their music career in one little interview.
But I guess drugs will do that to you.
UPDATE: Buh-bye

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Great line of the day

From TBogg
Sometimes it's hard to believe that these people are the end result of the fastest sperm in the load.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Globe and Mail should be ashamed of itself

Oooh, that Barak -- sooo scary!!!
The Globe and Mail should be ashamed of itself, putting John Ibbitson's ridiculous, ideological smear job against Obama on its front page -- illustrated with hammers and sickles, no less.
Wanna-be Villager Ibbitson lashes about with all sorts of labels -- socialist, interventionist, activist -- but nothing sticks.
He quotes those models of balanced bipartisanship like Mike Huckabee and the Hudson Institute and the National Review, all in service of his premise that Obama shouldn't be trying to change America.
He also rewrites history to conform to his storyline:
The best and the brightest is how author David Halberstam dubbed those who advised Mr. Johnson and John F. Kennedy before him. They believed they could win the war in Vietnam while reshaping health care, education, housing and civil rights —the Great Society, it was called.
But they didn't know what they didn't know, as former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld liked to say. They failed to appreciate the complexity of the issues, and they paid the price in quagmires.
Is Mr. Obama leading us into a domestic Vietnam? Is the ambition and complexity of his agenda bound to overwhelm an administration that has taken on more than any White House could possibly handle?
Actually, this is wrong -- Johnson's Great Society did not fail at all, in fact much of what he did is still benefiting America -- the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, federal funding for education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, PBS, urban renewal.
Where he failed was with Vietnam, but that failure was so massive that it overshadowed Johnson's successes.
Ibbitson does at least talk to Howard Dean, who derides the premise that Obama is doing too much:
"I hate to ruin your article, but I think that's a ludicrous proposal."
That about sums it up, John.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Great line of the day

From Dr. Dawg, about what we could now describe as the Trial of Robert Dziekanski, AKA the Braidwood Inquiry:
We may learn later today of Braidwood's response to Hira's motion to access certain records pertaining to Dziekanski's past. I'll provide an update if and when it becomes available.
In the meantime, let me observe once more that it would be salutary if we could get similar access to the records and past behaviour of the four RCMP officers who killed him. As it is, only the victim has been on trial this week.
Emphasis mine.
UPDATE: The Globe and Mail and the Montreal Gazette are also disgusted with these sleazy RCMP blame the victim tactics.

My question

A couple of years from now, the final Canadian soldier will die in Afghanistan -- maybe he'll be number 135, or number 150.
And will Canadians feel he died in vain? Yes, I'm afraid we will.