Sunday, May 30, 2010

Louisiana gulf requiem

Firedoglake posted this amazing piece:

People are desperately looking for someone to blame for the gulf oil leak -- British Petroleum? Obama? Bush? Is it a right-wing failure or a left-wing disaster?
I think maybe we could assign some blame to ideology itself.
Ideology helps us believe that everything can be simple -- if we just believe in "free enterprise" then we can let private companies like British Petroleum do what's best because after all they wouldn't do anything that would hurt their bottom line. Or if we believe in "government regulation" then we would have highly-trained government experts -- people who don't work for oil companies but somehow know all about oil drilling -- to anticipate every potential problem and force companies to fix them in advance. Or if we just believe in "environmental protection" then we shouldn't drill for oil off the coasts at all but instead continue to buy oil from the Middle East -- and let THEIR ecology take the hit!
Actually, these decisions are not simple at all, to find a way to balance economic development with environmental protection, to establish safety procedures under which an industry can operate without imposing so much regulation that the industry can't function. When we adopt an ideological "right-wing/left-wing" approach, it makes our decision-making easier and we think we've got it cased. But we cannot resolve complex issues with shibboleths and slogans.
This description of the chaos when the platform caught on fire demonstrates the brittleness of a bureaucratic and cover-your-ass approach to safety regulations, while this article about complex systems teaches that simplistic approaches to technological systems won't work.
As the article states, "Complex systems can not be reverse engineered." Sometimes you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube, nor can you put Humpty together again. No matter what you believe.
UPDATE: John Cole writes:
I’m all for constructive criticism, but flailing around over things that no one can control is just driving me nuts. Why hasn’t Obama done more to stop the leak? I dunno. Why didn’t Obama do more to save John Murtha and Dennis Hopper! Why won’t he wave his magic fucking wand and bring world peace! Why is unemployment at 10%? Why are we all going to die one day!
Because sometimes things don’t have solutions or answers, you losers. Try acting like you are a little older than five for a change.

UPDATE DEUX: Americans are deeply concerned -- the latest news story about the disaster was posted by AP five hours ago, and there are more than 80,000 comments already on the Yahoo News website, more comments than I have ever seen.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

What's the matter with these guys?

When we watch the Harper Conservatives, it's always wise to remember Roseanne Roseannadanna -- it's always something! if its not one thing its another!
Once again, the Harper Conservatives are getting cute and trying to have it both ways on the Afghan prisoner documents -- they want to be able to talk about how open and cooperative they are being, but they still don't want to actually be so open and cooperative that Parliament gets see the damned documents:
“It’s part of a pattern of the government on this issue: stonewall and delay and rag the puck,” NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Can't dance, too fat to fly

Remember how much fun it was to ridicule Conservapedia? Well, here's another ridiculous Republican website idea.
Conservatives taking themselves seriously is the gift that just keeps on giving.

Sestak, son of Lamont

Its always fun to see a politician shoot himself in the foot, isn't it.
I could understand why neither Pennsylvania Democratic senate nominee Joe Sestak nor the White House were saying anything about the supposed job-offer bribe story -- I suspected all along that both sides just hoped the story would die because they didn't want to embarass a Democratic candidate who had puffed up his own importance by lying about what he was offered. But the truth is starting to emerge now, exposing Sestak as a thoughtless braggart.
And what started as an off-hand comment in February has resulted in burned bridges with the Democratic heavyweights who Sestak will desperately need come November if he has any hope of winning a Senate seat held by the Republicans for the last 30 years.
Sort of a "Ned Lamont Part Deux" scenario that's developing here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What a drag it is getting old

Lance Mannion wonders what's the point in getting old.
I must admit, I've been wondering that myself lately -- especially when I see an article with a headline about an "elderly woman" and click on it and discover she's my age!
Elderly? Balderdash! Late middle age, if that...oh, and you kids get off my lawn.
Sometimes I console myself with what Peg Bracken once said about getting old -- you either get old or you get dead and it's not much of a choice but there it is.
It puts my complaints into perspective, really.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Seems to me this is where I came in

As Randy Quaid said in Independence Day -- hello boys, I'm BAAACK!
And why are we still talking about MP expenses?
I notice our PM is demonstrating his usual mad leadership skillz on the issue, while Iggy is feeling the heat. Steve V compares how the media has jumped all over the MP expenses story with how they arily dismissed the prorogation story:
Is it really about transparency, or is it really about juicy details, maybe a scandal or two?
Because stories about MPs joining golf clubs or buying tuxedos on expenses practically write themselves, don't they?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

In Saint John

We're in Saint John New Brunswick for a few days at a conference, and what a beautiful city this is. We always enjoy getting back to the soft air and sea breezes of a coast (East or West).
So far, we have found that Saint John had beautiful old buildings...

and a sense of humour...

This appears to be a tribute to Moosehead Beer!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just resign

It has nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with professional responsibility.
If you resign your position as a marriage commissioner, no gay couple will ever again ask you to officiate at their wedding. But if you want to be a marriage commissioner, you are obliged to officiate at the weddings of anyone who is legally entitled to get married.
It's embarassing to see how our government of Saskatchewan fails to understand that.
Oh well, I supposed we can be grateful that at least the Wall government is asking for a court decision on this issue before passing an unconstitutional law, instead of passing said law first and forcing a couple to spend years in court to get it overturned.
Oh, and don't miss this -- Dawg ups the ante.

Daddy took the T-Bird away!

The Board of Internal Economy has refused to let Sheila Fraser embarrass every MP and Senator by ridiculing their spending.
I'm shocked! SHOCKED!
The press gallery will be so disappointed that they won't be able to have the same kind of fun that the British tabloids had.

Busy, busy, busy

It's been the week from hell for me, so pardon the lack of posts.
Here's an instant musical stress reliever:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fireams registry success stories

Here's the reply for anyone who claims the firearms registry hasn't helped police -- Truths & Myths - Community and Police Officer Safety
. . . Shortly after fleeing on foot, local police apprehended him and found he was carrying a Glock pistol and loaded spare magazines. CFRO checks indicated he was a licensed owner of 31 registered, non-restricted, and restricted firearms, which were subsequently seized, along with thousands of rounds of ammunition.

. . . a suspect was stopped with four long guns in his vehicle. The suspect was evasive when questioned, leading investigators to believe the firearms had been stolen. NWEST conducted CFRO checks on the recovered firearms. They determined all four were registered to a local resident, not the person in possession. . . . . Subsequent investigation resulted in the recovery of the remaining 12 long guns from the suspect.

Police received a call from family members requesting attendance at the family residence to take the father's firearms away, as he was very depressed and despondent. Before the officers left with a quantity of long guns, they queried CFRO and determined there were 21 more firearms registered to the father, that no family members were aware of. The officers remained on site until they obtained a search warrant, proceeded with the search, and found the additional 21 firearms hidden in various parts of the house, along with 45,000 rounds of ammunition.
(h/t Scott)


Shorter market response to the European economic rescue plan:

Sunday, May 09, 2010

What women think

Well, I can tell you what one woman thinks.
Anyone who thinks it is a Liberal "plant" to ask an innocuous question about women's views of political leadership is obviously not very confident about how Prime Minister Blue Sweater measures up against Michael Ignatieff.

Stupid weather

So does anybody know why we've had such stupid weather across Canada lately?
It's softball season, for crying out loud -- there's no snowing in softball season!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Oh, boy!

How stupid does Tony Clement think we are?He explains the Cons decision not to fund the Toronto Pride festival this way:
"I think that's better in terms of our tourism strategy for the entire country," Clement said during a telephone interview.
"It was nothing in particular about Pride or any of the other events that go on in Toronto. We were simply trying to spread the money around to other centres as well."
So I guess that means they'll be supporting the Pride parades in Saskatoon, and Regina, and Winnipeg, and Halifax, and Saint John?
Yeah, well, not so much.

In the Navy

Did you know that the Canadian Navy has actually been called "Maritime Command" for the last 40 years? I didn't.

Friday, May 07, 2010


Shorter John Ibbitson:
If wishes were horses, Layton and May would ride.
Actually, I find Ibbitson's point to be ridiculous -- whether Britain switches to proportional representation will make no difference to Canada because, who cares anymore what Britain does?
Before Canadians would support this, we would have to see some clear advantage to do it, and right now the only parties who want it are the smaller ones that the majority of Canadians do not vote for.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Conservative mottto: Shut the f**k up

"Positioning" is the newest buzzword for organizations who want to declare to the world what they do best.
For the Harper government, "shut the f**k up" is their perfect positioning statement.
Not only does it describe exactly what the Conservative caucus and cabinet ministers and research scientists and civil servants are told to do every day by Stephen Harper and the PMO, it is captures the exact approach taken by the Conservative government to every problem it encounters, from meat inspections and environmental regulations and programs like the court challenges program, to Omar Khadr and Michaelle Jean and Richard Corbin.
And heaven help anyone who complains -- as Dawg points out, the punishment is fast and furious:
Eleven women's groups have had their funding terminated by the Harper regime in the past two weeks alone . . . "Hidden agenda?" Harper's hateful agenda has never been hidden. Whether it's gay pride, church charities deemed too critical of Israel, women's programs or equity-seeking advocacy groups, the on-going purge by the Conservatives began almost as soon as Harper came to power in 2006. It's been all bully, smear and punish ever since.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Wedging against the Bloc

I got an interesting phone call Sunday afternoon from Harris-Decima research.
Along with questions about whether I buy store-brand vegetables, there were two questions about the Afghan prisoner/Parliamentary privledge issue.
The first was a scenario I have already heard about, whether I would support MPs signing a confidentiality oath to see the prisoner documents. (And actually, no I wouldn't.)
But the second was interesting -- whether I would support an election being called because the Bloc Quebecois should not be permitted to sign a confidentiality oath and therefore should not be permitted to see the documents.
Hmmm. A whole new approach, I thought -- dividing Canada into the "loyal" and "disloyal" Canadians, and setting up the scenario that because the Bloc are, by their very nature, disloyal, the Cons must Keep Canada Safe by refusing to show these traitors the documents.
Of course, I'm not sure whether these questions were sponsored by the Conservatives or the Liberals or the NDP, but I know who I suspect.
And let's see which party starts to promote an anti-Bloc scenario.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

What's in it?

The Wall government has been so secretive about the New West agreement, it made me wonder what's in it. Larry Hubich and Buckdog conclude its TILMA with a wardrobe makeover.
The Star Phoenix editorializes
...when Mr. Lingenfelter first asked the premier whether he was about to sign a trade deal with Saskatchewan's two western TILMA partners, Mr. Wall denied the ceremony was imminent.
Signing a trade deal with the two westernmost provinces shouldn't be something the premier downplays or slides in through a back door.
Some of the details are dribbling out. The Star Phoenix online story includes these snippets:
Alberta and B.C. built a joint weigh station [for truckers]...workers to have their credentials recognized in other provinces [and] the New West agreement will cover the financial services sector as well...Public bodies such as municipalities and school boards procuring goods and services worth a certain amount will be required to hold transparent processes so that suppliers in all three provinces can have a chance to bid....there are specific areas -- including aboriginal issues, water, taxation, labour standards and support for the cultural sector -- where a jurisdiction's ability to set policy will not be affected.
The Edmonton Journal informs us:
Teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers and members of any other regulated profession will be able to move freely between the provinces.
. . . pooling their purchases for things like machinery and medical supplies . . . Governments will still be able to enforce their own regulations for "legitimate objectives," such as public health and safety, environmental protection and worker safety.
"Legitimate" would seem to be the key word here -- who decides that?
The Council of Canadians reminds us why Saskatchewan didn't like TILMA three years ago:
In 2007 over 70 organizations and individuals raised concerns about several provisions of TILMA , including those that would lower regulatory standards and that would implement a private tribunal for corporations to challenge provincial rules and standards.
“Saskatchewan was right to reject TILMA then, and it should reject a rebranded TILMA now,” adds Scott Harris, the Prairie Regional Organizer with the Council of Canadians. “Nothing has suddenly changed to make lowest-common-denominator regulations and standards good for Saskatchewan. Nothing has suddenly changed to make giving corporations the right to sue elected governments for millions of dollars for ‘impeding trade’ – decided on by unaccountable dispute panels – suddenly a good idea for Saskatchewan.”
“Handcuffing the ability of the province, municipalities, school boards and public enterprises to make decisions in the best interest of Saskatchewan flies in the face of democratic principles,” concludes Gary Schoenfeldt, chair of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour Trade Committee.
And the Council reminds Brad Wall he promised to consult before signing anything.
“The Premier has an obligation to show the people of Saskatchewan what’s in this new TILMA agreement before he signs anything. Both Brad Wall and Ken Krawetz are on record as saying they would never sign a TILMA agreement without first consulting with Saskatchewan people and we are asking them to keep their promise.”
So the Sask Party spin is starting already. Why, the province WAS consulted, Wall says, back in 2007 ! He doesn't mention, of course, the negative result. And neither does the Star Phoenix, because that would be just rude.