Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dr. Tiller

I knew nothing about Dr. George Tiller until this morning, but I join millions in mourning his death.
From Feministe :
He put the health of women above his own life.
From Pandagon:
If a woman has a later term therapeutic abortion---be it because it was a wanted pregnancy, she has serious mental health issues, or she is a child victim of rape---it’s rarely easy on her mentally or physically. Dr. Tiller’s clinic was renowned for the thoughtful patient support to help women get through what is a very difficult time---counseling, support groups, religious services for the lost baby if you desire.
He didn’t have to do this. He didn’t have to put his life and his family’s life on the line every day to tend to women going through a little-understood trauma. He didn’t have to go through a sea of protesters who hate women so much they actually think that women are lying about their problems so they “get” to have later term abortions. He didn’t have to suffer through relentless legal abuse at the hands of fundamentalist misogynists who obtain political power by exploiting voter ignorance about abortion. He didn’t have to make himself the target for this murder to help women, but for whatever reason, he rose to this challenge, and that makes him a real hero.
But, of course, it would be unseemly if pro-choice people actually got angry about this tragedy. The Associated Press writes:
[Anti-abortion activists]expressed concern that abortion-rights activists would use the occasion to brand the entire anti-abortion movement as extremist.
They also worried that there would be an effort to stifle anti-abortion viewpoints during questioning of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Her exact views on abortion aren't known, but conservatives fear she supports abortion rights.
Said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, an anti-abortion activist: 'No one should use this tragedy for political gain.'
Digby responds
Perhaps we could just sweep it under the rug and carry on with the slut shaming, bloody pictures and calling doctors murderers.
And chief wingnut Randall Terry is happy to oblige.
Just watch -- they'll complain about how Obama is persecuting them if they aren't allowed to turn the funeral into an anti-abortion protest circus.

The Sweater

In honour of the hockey playoffs -- The Sweater by Sheldon Cohen

Saturday, May 30, 2009

All in

Sounds like Newt Gingrich is going all in against the Sotomayor nomination. And so is Rush Limbaugh.
And Obama has finally realized the stakes.
But I wonder if the Republicans have accounted for the "Iron This, Buddy!" effect, which Hillary mobilized so well. As Digby writes:
All the rancid talk about her alleged racism has been accompanied by a strong dose of sexism, particularly the whisper campaign about her "unseemly" temperament . . .When Scalia treats lawyers to a thorough grilling, he's just putting them through their paces and demonstrating his own strongly held convictions. When a woman does it, she's just a domineering bitch on wheels. This is a familiar double standard for working women everywhere.. . .
When I see these conservative men on television bleating plaintively that the president shouldn't have chosen a Latina federal judge but rather chosen "the best person for the job," I can't help but burst out laughing at the total lack of self-awareness such comments illustrate. It's clear they believe that 96% of all Supreme Court judges having been white males simply shows that white males are more qualified than anyone else. It's hilarious.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

The classic:

Apparently Steven Spielberg called this "the Citizen Kane of animated film".

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ontario is worth every penny

So here it begins -- a Globe and Mail political reporter, Konrad Yakabuski, is claiming that the auto bailout is going to cost $1.4 million per job and that "maxed-out taxpayers" are questioning the cost.
Well, he's not speaking for me.
For decades, Canadians in Ontario have been shelling out to help Western grain farmers. And cattle ranchers. And hog producers. And forestry workers. And fruit growers. You name it, year after year, crisis after crisis, Ontario taxpayers have been paying for loan guarantees and subsidies and retraining programs and economic development grants for Western Canada.
So now, for once, Ontario needs help to save one of its most important industries.
And we can damn well give it to them.


Boris asks Dear Leader what the fuck is wrong with you?
. . . there is no excuse for the way you've carried on since you first found office. "Tapes"? Seriously man, you're a thug. . . . You nursed your grievances and rage and let them putrify and corrupt you like Annakin Skywalker.
Really, it must be hard to hang on to that kind of anger.
I keep remembering Rick Mercer's story in December about the Potemkin supporters, Conservative staffers who were sent to 24 Sussex to cheer when Harper drove past.
Mr. Harper, by all accounts, actually believed that the young people were there of their own accord and represented a groundswell of love and support for his actions. Staffers in the Prime Minister's Office know that he is easier to handle when being applauded and not questioned.
Lord save us from another prime minister with borderline personality disorder.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tricky Dicky North

Talk about fiddling while Rome burns, Harper is listening to Iggy-tapes while Canada goes broke.
Steve V calls his post about this "Harper Unplugged" but I think it's more like Harper Unhinged.
A BCer in Toronto posts Ignatieff's response -- Employment Insurance claims are up, stimulus funds aren't being spent, we're got a $50 million deficit, and our Prime Minister is chortling about listening to tapes? Yes, its definitely Nixonian, as Iggy says:

Then again, maybe Harper could learn something by listening to Iggy -- you may have heard he was at Harvard?
But actually that crashing sound reverberating across the country is not just Harper burning, its the other shoe dropping.
Now we understand why the Conservatives started running those ridiculous attack ads about Ignatieff -- they were trying to push him off-balance before the news got out about the deficit.
Didn't work.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The lesson Harper is learning from the isotope crisis:
Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Do do that voodoo that you do so well.

Here is Sebastian's voodoo which won the fifth competition of the NFB in association with Cannes Short Film Corner and YouTube. Four short films were posted on YouTube for voting through May.

Check out the others, particularly Reach. Thanks to Drawn for the link.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Towel Day

In memory of Douglas Adams, today is Towel Day. Globe reporter Matt Hartley quotes what the Hitchiker's Guide says about towels:
"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough."
It is important to know where one's towel is.
And don't panic!

Glad to hear it

Whenever I read about some new conspiracy theory about how somebody is secretly running everything behind the scenes, I think "Well, thank heavens SOMEONE is in charge of this mess!"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Afghanistan mission?

John Cole has a question about Afghanistan:
What exactly are we doing over there? And I’m not saying that seizing the things that makes the Taliban go is a bad thing, just that it is hard to figure out what our big plan is in the region. Drug seizures in a region renowned for opium production just seems kind of whack-a-mole.
As soon as you find out, John, please let the rest of us know, because Canadians have been asking that question for the last six or seven years.
For a while there, early on, in late 2001 and 2002, it did seem as thought the Afghanistan war had some sort of purpose. But that was a long time ago, before it turned into some kind of War Lite with interminable "raids" and "sweeps" and drones killing wedding parties and roadside bombs blowing up young Canadian and American soldiers for no reason anyone can still remember.

Its a wonderful town

My daughter just called as she was walking through Times Square in New York, where it is Fleet weekend so there are sailors all over the place. Reminded me of this great number:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Great line of the day

Josh Freed asks Obama -- Hey, Mr. President! What did Canada ever do to you?
What next? Will you build an Ice Curtain between our countries and jam our TV stations in the U.S. - to prevent Rick Mercer making fun of you? Search and seize our hockey teams at airport security and confiscate their skates?
It's time Americans learned the truth about Canada, instead of the jokes they hear from late-night comics.
. . . So President Obama, hear this: We're not going to take it anymore!
Open that border and shape up - or ship back that made-in-Canada BlackBerry right now.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

For a change of pace: W - O - P - I - G

Guantanamo nation

I was glad to hear Obama say he intends to close Guantanamo, but I just hope is isn't turning the United States into Guantanamo North:
Has the Obama administration really endorsed the reality of preventative detention -- an American gulag, indefinite imprisonment without trial . . . [and that] there exist human beings in this world who could be indefinitely held without trial under the authority of the president of the United States
Marc Ambinder describes the so-called "indefinite detention" plan as Obama's "rubicon" -- like when Julius Ceasar illegally crossed the Rubicon River, after which he was irrevocably committed to invading Rome.
But actually, this is an event horizon, the crossing point where it becomes impossible to escape falling into a black hole.
Because Obama doesn't want to do this illegally, like Bush and Cheney did. No, perhaps even worse, he wants it to be legal. He wants Congress to pass a law giving him the authority to arrest people and put them in jail forever, without ever having a civilian judge or a jury of ordinary people hear the evidence against them and find them guilty of anything.
Governments have tried this type of thing before. There's a name for it.
If Congress approves such a law because they're so pants-wetting terrified of a few dozen Muslim fanatics, they will undermine their own Constitution and the whole concept of a nation based on laws.
Because, after all, once this military commission structure is up and running, why should they stop with just a few Muslim traitors? The Cheney administration believed that Democrats were traitors too. And journalists. And judges. So why wouldn't this administration or the next also become convinced that Republicans were a danger to society? And maybe bankers, too. And aren't drug dealers and Mafia dons also threatening the nation? Not to mention murderers and thieves. Its just so much easier to throw them all in jail without bothering with that messy and expensive and unreliable trial stuff . . .

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Justice League of America or whatever

Here's the latest news from Washington:
Seeking to quell fears of terrorists somehow breaking out of America's top-security prisons and wreaking havoc on the defenseless heartland, President Barack Obama moved quickly to announce an Anti-Terrorist Strike Force headed by veteran counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer and mutant superhero Wolverine. Already dubbed a 'dream team,' their appointment is seen by experts as a crucial step in reducing the mounting incidents of national conservatives and congressional Democrats crapping their pants.
'I believe a fictional threat is best met with decisive fictional force,' explained President Obama. 'Jack Bauer and Wolverine are among the very best we have when in comes to combating fantasy foes.' Mr. Bauer said, 'We're quite certain that our prisons are secure. Osama bin Laden and his agents wouldn't dare attempt a break-out, and would fail miserably if they tried. But I love this country. And should Lex Luthor, Magneto or the Loch Ness Monster attack, we'll be there to stop them.'
Or, if it's Bigfoot, let's get Sgt. Preston on the case too, because he always gets his man. On, King! On, you huskies!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Audit fatigue

Oh, here we go again.
I have become increasingly tired and cynical about the self-aggrandizing crusades of Canada's auditors general, at the federal and provincial levels, always wanting more and more investigations of smaller and smaller amounts of money.
Too often, their reports demonize legitimate political spending decisions, terrorize the civil service, and always seems to conclude by demanding for themselves more staff and wider authority. Journalists love them, of course, because those juicy scandalous stories of mis-spent tax dollars practically write themselves.
But in the grander scheme of things, MPs expense accounts are actually pretty small beer. Especially compared to what Ottawa should be investigating -- those billions of extra dollars being collected for employment insurance premiums when EI is actually benefiting fewer and fewer unemployed people. Now THAT'S a scandal.

Mulroney's legacy

Christie Blatchford sums up Mulroney's responsibility for what has happened:
. . . no one forced him to go [to the meeting with Schreiber], to take the envelope, to put it in a safe at his home and keep it there.
Everything else may be someone else's fault, but this wasn't.
. . . In 1965, the magnificent British band The Kinks had a hit with a song called A Well Respected Man about a fellow who actually wasn't. Every time I saw the “Right Honourable” before Brian Mulroney's name on my TV screen yesterday, the song played in my head. That's his legacy, I'm afraid.
And here's the song:

Update: Allison channels The Walrus:
"O weep for me," the Muldoon said:
"For all of it is lies."
With sobs and tears he socked away
His 2 million dollar prize,
And held his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Supreme news

With today's news that the US Supreme Court is going to review the conviction of Conrad Black, it was timely to read this Jeffrey Toobin article about US Chief Justice John Roberts:
After four years on the Court, however, Roberts’s record is not that of a humble moderate but, rather, that of a doctrinaire conservative. The kind of humility that Roberts favors reflects a view that the Court should almost always defer to the existing power relationships in society. In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Even more than Scalia, who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.
The word to describe this man is "toady".
This is a man who, as a district court judge, figured out a way to excuse the police for arresting a 12-year-old girl for eating a french fry on the subway.
As Obama himself observed when he voted against confirming Roberts as chief justice “It is my personal estimation that he has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak”
I think Conrad Black can book his flight.

Get over yourselves

So now the police in Laval think they need to handcuff people who don't immediately obey their instructions.
Who elected them king?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Great line of the day

Dave at the Beav talks about Rex Murphy's realization that the Harper government is just going around in circles:
. . . like a kid who is completely enthralled by the bright, shiney, toy electric train when he first opened the box, Murphy has become tired and fed up with the fact that it's the same thing, going around in a circle, and he can't seem to find any track that will fit to make it bigger and better.
The Harper party will always be like the little toy train on a circular track: capable of very little and simply repeating its route.
Emphasis mine.

Watching his words

So Brian Mulroney says nobody asked him exactly the right question in exactly the right way a decade ago, so of course he didn't mention those hundreds of thousands in cash forced on him, just FORCED on him, by good old whatshisname, some guy he had coffee with a few times.
Don't you just hate it when that happens?
So what did Mulroney say today that we should all be parsing?
"I never asked him for a nickel in my life."
Nope -- it was a dollar, all 225,000 of them.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Odds my bodkins

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What could be better?

Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa and Harry James do Sing, Sing, Sing

When Conservatives attack

The take-away from the new Tory attack ads seems to be the line that Tory times are tough times -- I wouldn't think this was what the Conservatives actually wanted us to remember.
It is interesting reading some of the comments to the Radwanski column in the Globe and Mail:
I'd rather be spared the sandbox gamesmanship and get on with managing the economy . . .
I think the Conservatives have to come to grips with that fact that most Canadians don't consider a person with Ivy league credentials a bad thing. Especially when it comes to running the country . . .
I am starting to wonder if I am acceptable as a Canadian. I was born elsewhere and have been a Canadian for many years. But my time outside the country could be construed as anti-Canadian . . .
As a former mentor and advisor for Stephen Harper, Mulroney is running the best attack ads anyone could on the Conservatives, showing Canadians what Conservatism is all about . . .
I think Canadians expect more from their Prime Minister and their government than small minded, mean spirited attacks against the opposition . . .
Harper spends money on attack ads while the unemployed wait for EI and Canada waits for infrastructure money . . .
On the plus side, it's exactly this kind of divisive, negative, and reactionary behaviour during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression that has helped reduce the Republicans south of the border to a marginal entity on the political scene. Let's hope that pattern continues with our bully conservatives.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What Digby says

About accepting torture as just another thing Americans do:
We are in big trouble when torture becomes just another political football. It's the kind of thing that turns powerful empires into pariah nations. Why anyone thinks it's good for America for the world to perceive us as violent, pants wetting, panic artists who could start WW III at the least sign of threat is beyond me. I certainly don't feel safer.
It is sad that the world will no longer have its shining city on the hill.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Add mustard-gate to the list

At the end of a lengthy CP story about how Obama's choice of mustard is "unAmerican", Lee-Anne Goodman quotes from a recent Bill Maher piece in the LA Times:
"Here are the big issues for normal people: the war, the economy, the environment, mending fences with our enemies and allies, and the rule of law," Maher wrote.
"And here's the list of Republican obsessions since President Obama took office: that his birth certificate is supposedly fake, he uses a TelePrompTer too much, he bowed to a Saudi guy, Europeans like him, he gives inappropriate gifts, his wife shamelessly flaunts her upper arms, and he shook hands with Hugo Chavez and slipped him the nuclear launch codes."
Conservatives, Maher wrote, are now behaving like "the bitter divorced guy whose country has left him - obsessing over it, haranguing it, blubbering one minute about how much you love it and vowing the next that if you cannot have it, nobody will," he wrote.
"But ... your country is not coming back to you. She's found somebody new. And it's a black guy."
I don't think Republicans should still be confused about why Americans don't like them anymore, when they think people should care about whether Obama prefers yellow or dijon mustard.
Actually, of course, what they're really trying to do is to stop Obama from making any more of these popular forays out of the White House. The favourable press coverage for these trips is driving them crazy.
Or crazier.

Truth is no defense, I guess

The Guardian reports on this California lawsuit against a teacher by a student who stalked the teacher for 18 months to catch him saying that creationism is "superstitious nonsense".
Well, it is, of course.
But teachers apparently can't say so anymore because it might hurt someone's poor widdle feelings.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The devil made me do it

In the Comments section to this great Matt Taibbi post about religion, sportsblogger Graham Kates says:
The existence of this eternal bickering between God-people and no-God-people is proof that the Devil exists and is trying to bore everyone to death.

Meditations on Free

Some interesting and interconnected meditations on "free" and on "value" here, here, here and here. Music blogger Kate writes:
. . . in a world where singles are incessantly everywhere and also free (thereby, inherently valueless) true, artful albums are RARE (thereby, somewhat priceless). And I don’t know about you but I don’t want what everyone else has for free… kind of the same way I feel about extra large, logo-emblazoned T-shirts. Keep ‘em.
But a compendium of great, interesting songs… dead-ringer singles, sleeper hits, introspective soundscapes, covers turned inside-out, indulgent guitar solos (please, bring those back)… that’s what I want. I want to actually hold it in my hand, open up the liner notes and rub my nose in them, inhaling that new-ink-on-paper-smell.
Limited copies. Frame-worthy artwork.
Raise the standard.
Charge me double the price.

What its like to have swine flu

What I like about the Effect Measure blog is that it is so well written that I, a completely non-medical non-statistical person, can actually understand the articles. Here's one about the swine flu cases that describes some of the most recent research about this new kind of flu very clearly:
60% of the cases reported in this paper were under 18 years of age. 18% had recently traveled to Mexico, although in yesterday's CDC briefing it was said that the travel associated cases are now only 10% of the US total as sustained person to person transmission begins to take hold on US soil. The most common presenting symptom was fever (94%) followed by cough (92%) and sore throat (66%). Unusually for respiratory influenza, 25% had diarrhea and 25% vomiting.
Hospitalization status was known for 399 of the cases and amounted to 36 in the series (it has since increased). . . . Sufficient information on 22 hospitalized patients showed that 12, or about half, had underlying medical conditions that might have increased risk, but half did not, that is, they were previously healthy individuals, many of them young. There were 11 cases of pneumonia among the hospitalized. 8 wound up in intensive care, 4 had respiratory failure and 2 died.
All of these things happen with seasonal influenza, too, so it doesn't mean this is an especially virulent version of flu. It may well qualify for the much used term, "mild," in that regard, because real seasonal influenza is an inherently nasty illness.
But for these patients, half of them previously healthy and on average quite young, "mild" won't cut it as a description of what they went through. Something to keep in mind.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

According to Chuck Jones' memoir, the boss of the Warner Bros studio, Leon Schlesinger (after whom Sylvester's voice was modelled) once said that if there was one thing that simply WAS NOT FUNNY it was bullfights.
Taking this as a challenge, the cartoon studio produced Bully for bugs:

Friday, May 08, 2009

Great line of the day

From Roy talking about the humourless, obsessive right-wing bloggers who think it matters what kind of mustard Obama likes:
It's like they all grew up thinking Frank Burns was the hero of "M*A*S*H."
Thanks, Chet, for the link.

By the pricking of my thumbs, something evil this way comes

This is getting creepy.
I think Blatchford is beginning to think so, too.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

That left-wing liberal media everybody hates so much

A few days ago, Digby wrote this:
These wingnuts truly seem to believe that the reason people voted for a left leaning Democratic government across the board was because they actually wanted a far right government. If that makes sense to you, then you must be a conservative too.
Then today I'm listening on the radio to Charles Adler and I didn't catch it all, but the 24/7 anti-Ignatieff hysteria had apparently been put on hold for a few moments in order to hash over how US newspapers are dying because so many Americans are annoyed about left-wing liberal bias in the media. And I thought, excuse me? This tired cliche is being put forward, about a country where 65 million Americans voted for Obama and the Democrats? So why would anyone still think that Americans actually prefer Fox and the Washington Times? Well, I guess if that makes sense to you...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Speaking of disablism, here's a perfect example of how its just too easy to sell disabled people short.
Google SketchUp has developed a project to allow autistic people to express themselves creatively. This is an eye-opening video:

Sunday, May 03, 2009

BADD day

Shakesville points out that May 1 was Blogging Against Disablism Day --and here's another roundup of posts on the topic.
I was brought up short about my own "disablism" when a women in a wheelchair once said to me "You feel sorry for me because I am in this chair. But for me, this chair is freedom -- without it, I would be spending my life lying in bed."
She was, of course, right -- I was looking at it from the wrong perspective and I have always been grateful to her for pointing this out.
Then years later, I spent several weeks using a wheelchair at work when I had a severely broken leg -- I found it too exhausting to manage at work with crutches, so a chair was ideal for me.
It gave me a new perspective, however -- what I found most noticeable was the number of people who simply could not look at me anymore, my boss included. I never knew whether this was because I was below their sight line or they just didn't like looking at the external fixator on my leg, or they didn't like the chair, or whatever. I couldn't really criticize them, however -- maybe I would have acted the same way before I knew how useful a wheelchair could be.
Also, I found that just because somebody has slapped a "handicapped-accessible" sticker on something, like a washroom door, doesn't make it true.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Kentucky Derby

I love watching horse races like this. Down the backstretch, Mine That Bird is running last, but he makes his move at precisely the right time and threads his way through the crowd just as he comes around the clubhouse turn. All of a sudden, there he is, running next to the rail where the track isn't so soupy, all by himself as he charges for the tape.


Shorter Obama administration "unnamed officials":
"Maybe we still need a phoney justice system for the Guantanamo prisoners. Because if we let the actual American justice system deal with them, they might get actual justice! Can't have that..."

Saturday Morning Cartoon

In honour of the hockey playoffs -- Goofy in Hockey Homicide: