Saturday, July 31, 2010

These people are nuts - part 2

A pseudo-Christian church in Florida is inviting people to burn the Koran:
It's astonishing that there are people in America who are so far gone in their islamophobia that they actually would celebrate 9/11 with a book burning.
Ahh, but, just like Breitbart says about the NAACP, any anti-Muslim racism in America is really Muslim people's own fault, because their very existence is just so provoking.
Hmmm, seems to me that we've come across this type of argument somewhere before...

For crying out loud

What a bizarre spin to put on a news story about an upcoming theatrical production -- 'Sympathetic' terrorist play gets boost.
I guess whenever government funds are involved, we are only supposed to see approved versions of history, not versions which ask whether an injustice might have been done?
So I certainly hope the media has investigated to make sure there were no government funds anywhere near this film or this one or this one. And let's hope the movie Ben Stiller is trying to put together about these guys isn't going to get a penny of public money, either.
Much closer to home, here's another one that I guess people shouldn't be seeing at the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina, which is supported by federal, provincial and municipal funds.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How hard would it be?

How hard would it be for the Canadian government to just adopt a policy that says, if you are a Canadian citizen and you get into trouble outside the country then our top priority is to help you?
Oh, yeah, him.
Never mind...
UPDATE: Just to clarify, in case it wasn't clear -- I believe citizenship is supposed to mean something. That neither the Harper Cons nor the Paul Martin Liberals would would try to repatriate Omar Khadr, however odiously that citizen and his family may have behaved, is shameful and has weakened the value of Canadian citizenship around the world.

Questions abour the G20

The Facebook group Canadians Demanding a Public Inquiry into Toronto G20 have released the list of the most urgent questions that an inquiry into police behaviour during the protests should answer:
1. Why were the police forcing peaceful protesters out of Queen's Park on Saturday when that was the designated protest area? ...

2. Were special powers actually extended to police for the duration of the G20 summit? If so, what exactly were they? ...
3. Why was the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms trampled on by the police through actions such as: Unwarranted searches, Intimidation to deter people from assembling, Arbitrary arrest, Detainment of innocent bystanders. Who is responsible for giving police orders to act this way? ...

4. Why are police officers allowed not to wear a nametag? Why are police officers allowed to refuse to identify themselves when a citizen asks for their name?
5. I would like to see every dollar of the security budget accounted for in a detailed expense report.
6. Who were the men seen in numerous videos in plain clothes, with batons, arresting peaceful protesters and putting them in unmarked minivans?

7. How does the 'kettling' technique (surrounding protesters with riot police and blocking exit paths from the protest area) comply with the rights of Canadians as laid out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
8. Will the tapes documenting the holding facilities be reviewed by an independent reviewer?
9. Why were members of the media cleared out of protest areas or in some cases, arrested?
10. Why were protesters blocked in and not allowed the option of leaving peacefully, especially those in designated protesting areas.

11. What were the reasons behind the orders sent to front line officers to 'stand down' when windows were being broken and cars were being torched, and who gave them?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

These people are nuts

The closer the United States gets to the November mid-terms, the crazier some people are getting.
I watched this Red Dawn fantasy and I thought -- WTF?
It makes references to "Patriot Uprising" against "Despotism", but the most chilling line is this one: "I sincerely hope that enough people have crossed that personal line in the sand to join forces with the rest of us so that a small number of us are not required to use force and use of arms".
Why the Horst Wessel Song is playing at the end, who knows.

Boo Man writes about the Red vs. Blue divide:
Over hear in Blueville, there are certain things you don't do in polite company. For example, you don't break out in song with your rendition of "Barack the Magic Negro Lives in DC." You don't pose open-ended questions about the validity of the president's birth certificate. You don't use every cold day as an excuse to remind people that Al Gore is fat. If you don't know what socialism is, you avoid the topic and remain silent when it comes up. . . .
We increasingly live in two different, largely incompatible worlds. It's not all North vs. South. But it's definitely Blue vs. Red. And all of it is dividing people along the wrong lines. It should be those who have vs. those who don't. Instead, it's those who are tolerant vs. those who are not.

Summer of discontent

For a government which tries to pride itself on how well it handles problems, the Harper Conservatives have shot themselves in the foot with the census issue and the boss-from-hell at the RCMP.
Now the Wikileaks Afghanistan papers could result in the Afghan prisoner issue circling around to bite them in the ass again.
And its not even August yet.
No wonder Harper has disappeared.
Meanwhile, Iggy is kicking ass and taking names.

An alternate reality

I like parallel universe stories, so I enjoyed this Chris Kelly column on Huffington Post about the Alternate Earth in which the JournoList scandal is important:
The problem with the JournoList scandal is the problem with a lot of right wing news: It's not happening on Earth I, where you and I live. Like the Black Panthers taking over the Justice Department, or Shirley Sherrod's night raids on Andrew Breitbart's small family farm or Glenn Beck's lonely one-man struggle against the Tides Foundation, it exists in a parallel universe that only superficially resembles our own.
A universe where straight, rich white men are the only victims of anything, ever, and shrieking like an infant is their only defense; where Christianity and capitalism are in constant peril, where black lesbians and the very, very poor run everything and Iran has the Bomb and we don't. And where Andrew Breitbart is Biko, and revolutionary political power doesn't come from a gun, it comes, under TV lights, out of the puckered, anus-like mouth of a whining pink face.
You can imagine why the people in that universe are so unhappy. You wouldn't want to live there for five seconds.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Silence implies consent

Susan Delacourt discusses Munir Sheikh's testimony today that his enforced silence on the long-form census issue was being spun as approval of the Harper Conservative's census debacle.
Dutiful silence is an honoured tradition in Canadian public service, but if it becomes a weapon in someone else's hands, that should make us all worried. And it might make public servants reconsider whether discretion is always the better part of valour.. . . we in the media, yes that means me too, should be careful about allowing mischievous spin to fill a duty-bound silence.
So this is what it has come to -- Canadian civil servants have to resign if they want to tell us the truth?

Monday, July 26, 2010


There must be something wrong with me.
I could care less about Conrad Black.

"They hate us for our freedom"

Phil Nugent describes the situation of racists in the US today:
...most of the people who look at Obama and start thinking such deep thoughts as, "We need to take our country back!" probably have kids who grew up in the post-King era--hell, in post-Yo! MTV Raps-era--and they have no idea why Mom and Pop are so het up ...
I know that living in a world that the Fonz and Richie Cunningham never made is rough on them, but in a way, they brought their seething misery on themselves. They look at all the people who disgust and bewilder them because they're not howling in protest about the black president and the immigrants and the welfare bums whose existence they register like a fish bone in the throat, and they can find no peace, a condition made all the more unbearable by the fact that so many people who ought to be on their side find peace with it just fine. They suffer from an apparently unbeatable psychological condition, one that I think George W. Bush described best: they look at all the sane people in the world, and they hate us for our freedom.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Going all in

We seem to be in a Texas Hold-Em culture these days, where everybody is going all in, all the time.
Chet discusses how the flying monkeys of the right wing have swung into knee-jerk formation behind dismantling the mandatory long-form census:
. . . in literally days, following Clement's out-of-the-blue announcement, a whole set of new convictions has been created about the perfidy of the census, and there are passionate tweeters and commenters pushing those convictions as if they'd had them for their whole lives.
This is one reason, really, why following politics is so surreal these days.
Of course our side has its own orthodoxies -- as I found out when I posted heretical opinions this winter about the gun registry and the Olympics. But the right wing construct is more elaborate, comprehensive and predictable
a loud unending chorus of census evil! socialism! social engineering! liberal statist fascism! . . . [as well as] the usual guff about government-worshipping Stalinist prairie-hating hippies
And this tide of hyperbole engulfs everything, whether it makes sense or not -- for instance, why did climate science ever become a left-right issue, to the point that the ruminations of a bunch of nerdy climatologists are so threatening to the right wing that the mere mention of Al Gore drives them absolutely nuts? It's WEATHER, for heavens sake, its where we all live. And then there is stem cell research, and abortion, and who people can marry, and what children should be taught in school, and who we should let into the country, and what paperwork people need to fill out when they buy a gun.
It all seems to get wrapped up in the same big tangled ball of string. Not only is there no nuance anymore, but anyone who thinks nuance should still be possible is actually being naive.
After I expressed my own doubts about the gun registry, I kept bumping into right wing opinions about how dismantling the registry would be just the first step in a long list of other culture war battles up to and including how people should be able to carry handguns into church, and I thought, whoa! all I wanted is that we should cut the paperwork for a few hunters so where did THAT come from?
If dismantling the gun registry is the first step down the road to dismantling the wheat board, outlawing gay marriage and teaching creationism, then count me all out.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Arrogant twit

"I think people are just, you know, wishful thinking. There is an absolutely really good reason why we have to be firm about the March deadline because as soon as the deadlines start to drag on, people begin to substitute other things and there begins to be other excuses. If we allow for one, believe me, every municipality from one end to the other will have a reason why their deadline should be extended," [Con MP Brad Trost] said in an interview.
"I understand where they're coming from, but the moment we extend the deadline they're going to be like kids with homework, all of a sudden they're out playing in the park rather than getting the homework done"
Emphasis mine.
This is 36-year-old Saskatoon Humboldt Con MP Brad Trost's insulting, dismissive response to requests from Saskatchewan municipalities that the federal government extend the deadline for infrastructure projects --without an extension, the municipalities will be on the hook for millions if the projects cannot be finished during the wettest summer we've ever had.
Being younger than just about every other politician in Saskatchewan, I guess Trost figures he should be able to lecture everyone else about kids and playgrounds!
Trost's condescending remarks are being condemned across the province -- even John Gormley is pissed, and if the Cons have lost Gormley on an issue, you know its bad.
But our lone Liberal MP Ralph Goodale says it best:
"What an insulting, condescending little twit. I mean, that is outrageous for a person of his position to lay that kind of abuse . . . on the cities and towns and villages and rural municipalities of Saskatchewan. That is just appalling," said Goodale.
Trost is making some kind of announcement in Humboldt later this morning, and I expect we'll be hearing later today about how he was "mis-quoted" and "taken out of context" -- stay tuned.
(And if the name Brad Trost seems eeriely familiar to non-Sask readers, this is the same guy who shot off his mouth last year about the Toronto Pride Parade funding.)
NOTE: I updated and sourced the original quote.

Musical interlude

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dumb and dumber

Now that the census decision has gobsmacked the Harper Conservatives just as badly as their prorogation decision six months ago, the discussion is increasingly turning to why in the world they did it.
Scott thinks the goal of the census change was to short-circuit any expansion of social programs:
they are not doing away with the mandatory longform as a way of defending privacy, but as a backdoor way of attacking the programs they hate.
while Chet says the Conservatives want to prevent criticism that their economic policies aren't working:
what Harper really doesn't want is for the census data to show what the effects of his own policies have been in the here and now. Harper appears to like control more than anything else, and there's just no way he can control what a thorough and complete census will tell.
POGGE suggests the basic goal is to make government ineffective:
Harper and his crew take their inspiration from American movement conservatives and Harper himself made that clear long before he became prime minister. . . This is a movement that crosses borders. Its members have been organizing and building out their infrastructure for forty years.
The Georgia Straight also picks up on the American wingnut influence in the census decision:
“You see this attack on the census very much in the American right,” [NDP MP Charlie] Angus said. “It has had no traction here in Canada as far as I can see. I’ve never had a complaint and never heard of this as an issue.". . ."I’ve never gone into a Tim Hortons in Canada and had someone rail at me about big bad government spying on them with the census, but I am hearing this from Conservative cabinet ministers. I think the public is shaking its head.”
The census decision certainly does undermine a internationally respected Canadian agency which may well have been resented by the Harper Conservatives.
But however comforting it is to believe that the Cons had a reason for doing this, I am afraid that maybe they didn't. Like medical isotopes and prorogation and maternal health and party funding and so on and so on, the census decision may well have been just another knee-jerk pander to the base that they didn't really think about very much before they did it.
Basically, I think the Harper Conservatives are increasingly being revealed to Canadians as the gang that couldn't shoot straight. And I think official Ottawa has finally realized how untrustworthy these guys are -- even the Bank of Canada has fired a very public shot across Harper's bow.


Every time I think the G20 police abuse issue is dying away, it springs to life again.
There are a number of investigations going on into various aspects of the G20 protests, but no one was tasked with looking at police behaviour -- until now.:
The “systemic issues” under investigation [by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director] include allegations of unlawful searches, unlawful arrests, improper detention and issues related to the Eastern Avenue film studio used as a detention centre during the G20 weekend.
And the Toronto Community Mobilization Network is doing its own People's Investigation too -- great idea!
A commenter on a news story has raised an issue I noticed as well -- that the usual media phrasing which describes the G20 protests as "clashes between protesters and police" is wrong. It implies that the protesters were fighting against the police.
But they weren't.
First the police where nowhere to be seen when the Black Bloc was breaking windows and setting fire to police cars:

Then the police were clubbing and arresting peaceful protesters in what were supposed to be safe protest zones:

And more here.

The missing link

Over at The Vanity Press, Chet identifies the crucial connection between getting rid of the mandatory long-form census, and the refusal to hold an inquiry into police abuses during the G20 protests:
. . . both express a preference for ideology over fact, and for authority over responsibility. In both cases, the politicians want to shove away the possibility of finding out a truth that disagrees with their preferred view of things -- you know, the one in which they never did anything wrong and in which they still deserve the power they have?. . .
Oh, I am so glad that Chet is back!

Great line of the day

So they're having this debate in the States about whether some Bush-era "temporary" tax cuts for wealthy people should be allowed to expire and the so-called "fiscal conservatives" are all "we need to keep the cuts for job creation" in spite of the fact that undertaking the cuts in the first place didn't create any jobs -- when, oh lord, will Reagan's inane "trickle-down economics" theory finally be laughed out of court? -- and in spite of the fact that letting the cuts expire will increase government revenue and reduce the US deficit that all the fiscal conservatives claim to be so concerned about.
Anyhoo, John Cole points out the stupidity of all this and concludes:
. . . the best way to get our finances back in order is to systematically ignore anyone who calls himself a fiscal conservative. If I could find a bank run by dirty hippies I would put my money there, because I just don’t trust these people in pinstripes anymore.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

G20 Art

At FFIB NAMOL, artist Ffib has posted his interpretation of the "police riot" during the G20

We witnessed on TV and now through more private video and personal testimony the extent of the harassment, brutality, and abuse, including sexual abuse, that was wrought upon law abiding Canadian citizens by a large number of Toronto police officers throughout Saturday & Sunday.
A Police Riot best describes what happened at the Toronto G20.
In any case here is ffibs interpretation of that weekend.


I don't understand how anybody ever got the impression that Stephen Harper is such a great manager, as we watch his ministers wreck the agencies they are supposed to be directing.
Now Tony Clement has destroyed the reputation of internationally-respected Statistics Canada and he continues to wiggle around the truth -- after saying for the last week that Stats Canada had endorsed the voluntary long-form census, Clement now sort of admits he was lying and it was the government's decision. In his statement following Shiekh's resignation, Clement says
As I have noted previously [yeah? where?] Statistics Canada's preferred approach would have been to maintain the mandatory long form census.
However, after the Government's decision to replace the mandatory long form census Statistics Canada was asked to provide options for conducting a voluntary survey of households. One of the options provided - the voluntary National Household Survey - was chosen.
Emphasis mine.

Don't panic

Maybe the Obama White House will learn from the Sherrod debacle exactly what all leaders have to learn -- don't panic.
It was panic that made the Obama administration react too quickly, without investigation or due process. So they tried to kill the racism story quick by firing a person who didn't deserve to be fired, and made themselves into a bigger story about poor decision-making.
The moral is, you will be criticized no matter what you do, so do the right thing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I love the internets

I haven't posted anything about the census long form brouhaha yet but everyone is posting this song tonight.
Andrew Davidson says:
some people can unleash their pent-up creative energy on literally anything.
Skdadl says
So what do Canadians do when the presumptions of the popinjays in Ottawa provoke them to proving once again that we can be a pretty uppity bunch? Well, we write songs, of course. As Tom Lehrer once sort of sang, "They may be winning the battles, but we've got all the good songs."

Considering what a hit the video is, one of the singers notes:
“We should have discussed royalties earlier. Now that it’s taken off this will be a much harder discussion. Statistics say that nine time out of ten, plus or minus one, 80 percent of the time in any group of ten there will be at least one Yoko Ono.”
Getting back to the main issue, this comment on Warren Kinsella's site sums it all up:
Things we all have to do as Canadians:
- pay our taxes
- fill out the census
- register deaths, births, marriages
- be registered in school until you’re 16
No mandatory service, no volunteering, no national population register, no identity card… Christ, we don’t even have to work if we don’t have to, and we’ll get some kind of income support. What is the matter with Canadians? Fewer than half of us seem to be able to pry ourselves away from reality TV even to vote, depending on which type of election we’re talking about.
Lookit- the census isn’t about YOU. It’s about US. Nobody cares about YOUR information. They care about averages, aggregates, trends.
Yes, like the news that that there are 21,000 self-declared Jedi Knights in Canada -- and they're pissed off too!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Shorter David Olive column on what some guy told him:
See? The G20 protesters really DID have Weapons of Horse Destruction! They DID! They really DID! We just didn't TELL you about any of this before or SHOW you any of these weapons because ...because ... oh, I know! -- we didn't want them to know we were on to them when we charged our horses needlessly through peaceful crowds. Yeah, that's it...

Black Bloc -- still crazy after all these years

Two articles - here and here - provide an interesting analysis of the Black Bloc protest tactic and what it means for economic and social protest movements around the world.
And this lengthy report appears to have been written by someone who participated in the Black Bloc violence himself during the G20 -- he calls himself Zig Zag.
Far from endorsing the conspiracy theory that Toronto police deliberately let the Bloc run wild on Saturday to justify the billion dollar summit security cost, Zig Zag asserts that police incompetence, lack of maneuverability, and inexperience allowed the Bloc to burn police cars and break windows in spite of its own ineptitude and disorganization -- which were so bad that, if police response had been nimble and smart, most of the Bloc members could likely have been caught when first police car was set on fire.
It was news to me that there were several vandalism incidents across Canada during the week after the summit which the communiques left by the perpetrators indicate were done in solidarity with the G20 Bloc vandalism. Zig Zag lists the following:
In Calgary on the night/morning of June 26/27, an RBC and McDonalds were vandalized . . . On the night/morning of June 27/28, two Bank of Montreal branches were vandalized in Toronto, with windows being smashed and ATM machines being glued . . . On June 30, a Kiewit construction company truck was arsoned in Vancouver, with a communique targeting Kiewit for its work on the Sea-to-Sky Highway expansion as part of the 2010 Olympics, and declaring solidarity with the anti-G20 resistance. . . . On July 1 . . . two RBC branches were vandalized in Montreal . . . On July 2, a Canadian Forces recruiting centre was bombed in Trois-Rivieres (between Montreal and Quebec City).
Also interesting to view the photos in this photo essay as you read Zig Zag's article.


In response to the Toronto police request to send in their videos and photos about the G20 protests., Victoria Times-Colonist journalist Paul Manley says:
The only footage I have of any violence or criminal activity during the G20 protests is of police perpetrating that violence. The police are welcome to that footage but they won't be able to identify many of the perpetrators because the officers were masked and had their badge numbers hidden.
This isn't, of course, what police had in mind at all -- has anyone seen any sign whatsoever that police care how they acted or who they hurt?
Chet and Alison typify the reaction of many Canadians to the "most wanted" swagger. Chet writes:
what we've seen is an enormous mass arrest . . . which seems to have failed to net its ostensible targets, and which violated the civil rights of hundreds of ordinary citizens. This looks to me like an astonishing failure. Yet, all the top officials are swearing up and down that everything's fine.
The disconnect will continue to increase between what the police and politicians are saying about the G20 "thugs and anarchists" and what we are finding out about the ordinary Canadians who got arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, like the "one-legged anarchist" and the "bubble thug" -- hardly such threats to public safety that they had to be arrested and thrown into cells without phone calls, food or water. Hundreds of Canadians gathered in cities across Canada today to continue the demand a public inquiry, and more stories are being told all the time -- see the Post-G20 Bulletin and G20 Justice.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Amply covered

I'm sure the people whose G20 stories are now being told will be satisfied now that The Globe and Mail has spoken:
The existing reviews amply cover the most contentious policing issues:
The Ontario Ombudsman is investigating the implementation and communication of Regulation 233/10, apparently misinterpreted by some as granting additional police powers. The Toronto Police Service is doing its own review of “all aspects of summit policing.” The Toronto Police Services Board is doing an extensive independent review of the policing operation. An activist coalition is planning its own review. And there is a process to investigate each individual public complaint about police conduct.
With so much police behaviour already under the microscope, a full parliamentary, independent or judicial probe, as demanded by some, is not needed.
Well, its nice to get that settled -- let's not bicker and argue about who killed who...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why Ignatieff will be Prime Minister

We read story after story about how Canadians don't like Michael Ignatieff, but I don't believe it -- when they see him and listen to him, they like him.
And here's why -- he engages with people, he listens to what people say, and he says what he thinks.
At Susan Delacourt's Toronto Star blog from the Liberal Express bus, she quotes Iggy replying to a question about how the Liberals can regain favour with the national media.
It’s a waste of time in politics to blame the messenger. It is a waste of time to try to manipulate the messenger. These guys have got a job to do. ... (CTV national reporter) Roger Smith is five feet away from me here and he’s got a job to do. And we welcome him here and he can report any darn way he wants. And if I get it wrong, it’s my problem, not his problem. So let’s get out of the Harper mindset, which is: we’ve got to control this, we’ve got to spin this, we’ve got to manipulate this, we’ve got to keep them 45 miles away, we’ve got to set up a roster of which questions get asked and which can’t get asked. If the bus breaks down, we don’t tell them some story. We try to get a replacement bus and try to get them on the bus as soon as possible. And we did. I don’t know any other way to do it, other than ‘what you see is what you get’. And you go to Canadians and you make your pitch.
Try to imagine Stephen Harper ever saying something like that.
Today's news is full of the most recent attempt at ratf**king Ignatieff, the story about how he is going to go and work for the University of Toronto. After yesterday's news was filled with Conservative pearl-clutching. I guess we have all summer to look forward to this.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Great line of the day

On the Facebook page where Toronto police have posted the photos of G20 vandals they are trying to identify a commenter asks
Did you check your staff lounge?
Another commenter posted a link to the G20 Justice site where there are more unidentified photos -- of police.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What the Cons really think about Canadians

Alison notes that the Conservatives on the Public Safety committee repeatedly called the G20 protesters thugs, hooligans, and anarchists so I thought we should definitely round up some photos of the Canadians who are now held in such contempt by the Harper government.
Like this one-legged anarchist:

And how about these hooligans -- no, not the ones in blue, the other ones:

And here's some photos which the Toronto Community Mobilization Network has posted showing more thuggish violence:

Here's a bubble-blowing thug:

And finally, a bunch of unpatriotic rabble:

Seriously, the Harper Conservatives should be ashamed of themselves, to suggest that all these Canadians are thugs and hooligans.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Read a newspaper, why don't you?

And I feel the same way about those angels that keep showing up on my teevee -- do scriptwriters not grasp the logical incongruity that their angels futz around with lovesick teenagers instead of solving world hunger?
HT Miss Cellania

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Great line of the day

From Booman:
...this present Congress is the most productive and progressive Congress since 1965-66 and this president is the most successful and progressive since LBJ, and too many of us are focused on our disappointments and not focused on the right-wing threat that lurks out there with all its institutional advantages, just waiting to destroy this country, for good.

Ain't nobody here but us chickens

The G20 finger-pointing begins:
“It’s as if whoever was in charge is using Black Bloc tactics. They’ve taken off their uniform and dispersed into the crowd – nowhere to be found,” said Toronto police board member Hamlin Grange.
I guess the people in charge are realizing its not just going to all go away.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Imagine who he would appoint if he WASN'T reforming the Senate?

As Dave points out
Harper froths at the mouth that he insists on an elected Senate and who does he appoint? People who can't get elected.
...Instead of elected senators, we get a steadily increasing list of electoral failures finding their way into Parliament. Harper's democracy.
A BCer in Toronto has the complete list of failed Conservative candidates who are now Canadian Senators.

Why Obama doesn't get respect

Booman has an excellent post listing Obama's many accomplishments and asking why he isn't getting the credit he deserves.
Two reasons, I think:
One is Obama's own fault. The White House has not developed a simple narrative line that frames and reinforces the overall direction they are taking and the philosophy of what they have accomplished -- for example 'we're improving the lives of American people' or 'we deliver the results people need' or 'Every day we work on making America a better place to live' or some such phrase. They don't seem to realize that nobody really understood the details of 'Morning in America' or the 'Contract with America' either but they wanted an elevator speech.
The other problem is not Obama's fault. Racism is still a powerful force in American society.
In the overblown criticism dished out daily at Obama, sometimes in the posts and often in the comment sections on some progressive blogs, I detect a racist undercurrent which dismisses or minimizes his achievements, nitpicks his behaviour and mannerisms, and inflates every fault into a hanging offense -- basically, blaming Obama himself for what I think is the blogger's own visceral discomfort with the leadership of an African American man. It's like they're saying "I may have cheered him just like I cheered Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods but now day-to-day I find I just can't bring myself to respect him and of course it can't be because he's black, oh no I'm not a racist, so my lack of respect must be his own fault, not mine."
Here is Booman's list of Obama's accomplishments:
Legislative bills in 2009
January 29: Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
February 4: Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act
February 11: DTV Delay Act
February 17: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
March 30: Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009
April 21: Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act
May 20: Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act
May 20: Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009
May 22: Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009
June 22: Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act
August 6: Cash For Clunkers Extension Act
October 22: Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act
October 28: Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
October 30: Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act
November 6: Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009
March 4: Travel Promotion Act
March 18: Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (HIRE Act)
March 23: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
March 30: Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
May 5: Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010
Booman continues
...his appointments, presidential directives, foreign policy achievements, and even some important symbolic acts.
You might not be too impressed that Obama is the first president to have a Seder in the White House or care that bodies can now be filmed as they arrive home at Dover AFB in Delaware. But you should be impressed that he expanded Pell Grants, strengthened the Freedom of Information Act, cut funding for missile defense, expanded the SCHIP program, improved our vaccination programs, provided funding for stem-cell research, won a credit card bill of rights, filled the Medicare Part D donut hole, improved pay, benefits, and health services for service members and veterans, expanded AmeriCorp, got the FDA to regulate tobacco, and limited the salaries of White House staff.
All of this seems to go unmentioned and unappreciated in most of the liberal blogosphere. And that's the small stuff. Obama has passed the biggest health care bill since 1965, rescued the auto industry, got almost all TARP money paid back, and is on the verge of passing the strongest financial regulations since the 1930's.
He's also reinvigorated the anti-proliferation and nuclear disarmament efforts by working successfully with Russia and China.
In a year and a half, he's already done more than Clinton and Carter combined did in twelve years . . .
Anyone who cannot appreciate what Obama has accomplished, and who continues to obsess about what he hasn't done yet -- immigration reform, or closing Guantanamo, for example -- needs to look very seriously at their own motivation.

Great line of the day

John Cole asks the right question about the American economic outlook:
How do people expect the economy to grow when 3/4 of the nation is too broke to buy anything?

"I can be a good dog!"

Check out Hyperbole and a Half for the funniest post ever written about loving a dog.

Friday, July 09, 2010


The Prime Minister has been dissed by a 19-year-old.
Well, at least Harper didn't retaliate with the Shawinigan Handshake, and he didn't get a pie in the face.

Understanding the magnitude of this disaster

For Canadians who want to understand what this year's Prairie floods are going to do to the Saskatchewan economy, here is the summary from a CBC story about farm flood aid:
Normally, about 32 million acres of land are seeded in the spring. This year, heavy rains in the spring made the soil too wet and prevented many farmers from getting out into their fields.
The result was that about 10 million acres of Saskatchewan farmland went unseeded this spring, while another two million acres that were seeded are under water and won't produce a crop.
So a third of farm income in the province will disappear. The damage isn't evenly distributed, either -- while some areas will be able to take a crop off, others will have virtually nothing to harvest:
"I've got some farmers that have e-mailed me that [have] 5,000 or 6,000 acres, that have managed to seed 500 or 600," [Saskatoon commodities analyst Larry Weber] said. "Take a 90 per cent reduction in your wage in a year and see how fast and how far that 10 per cent is going to carry you."
We were living in BC during the early 80s, when 35,000 forest industry jobs disappeared in six months. The impact was horrendous throughout the province -- whole towns disappeared.
I'm afraid the Prairie flood of 2010 is going to be a similar disaster, far beyond even our usual "next year country" stiff upper lip.

Whose streets?

I am hoping Dawg was right -- that Canadians are recognizing the extent to which police were out of control in Toronto during the G20 protests. Or, at least, more Canadians are asking what happened.
There are now 60,000 members on Facebook calling for a G20 inquiry.
Today we had these articles in the Globe and Mail:
Thugs, hooligans and other citizenry
MPs wade into G20 security swamp
Ontario Ombudsman to probe G20 Law
And this in the Montreal Gazette:
We need a G20 probe: Arrest record shows police were out of control in Toronto
The video above I found posted in the comments of a Macleans story. And here's the photo now being used in the Vancouver Sun:

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Shut the F**k Up!

I'm getting the impression that some people have now adopted the Conservative Motto about police behaviour at the G20 protests.
They seem to think the issue should just go away.
Shorter Christie Blatchford and Macleans magazine:
I just can't stand hearing any more about this mess so why don't you all just shut up! SHUT UP!
But we won't.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Saddest story yet

To protest the way the police treated the G20 demonstrators, a Toronto man gives back the Bravery Citation he had received from Toronto police:
...Norman avoided downtown that weekend but he, like everyone else, knew what was going on. “The air was full of people talking about what had happened to their friends.” A thousand arrests, people being stopped for no good reason, ID demanded, and so on. . . "they were arresting people two miles away. And then we heard the premier saying that no new powers were given to the police. If that’s the case, what protection do I have now? And what the hell can I do about that?”
The question was not rhetorical.
“I can give this back.”
Others in Toronto were also upset at what they saw. Paul Pritchard, the person who recorded the Dziekanski tasering has a summer job as a waiter in Toronto:
Armed with his camera, he arrived by bike at Queen’s Park in time to see a man bowled over by a police horse. In his view, a young, peaceful crowd of protesters was under assault.
“I got up right on the front line. The guy beside me got shot with a rubber bullet. I was half expecting to get stomped, or beaten. I thought my camera was going to get broken for sure.”
He slipped the memory card from his camera, hiding it in the side band of his boxers. People were crying. Some jeered, others taunted. He only ever saw one item thrown, possibly a stick, the culprit immediately called down by other demonstrators.
On the other side, he saw, “Anger. Hostility. Using force. Using intimidation. You could see it in their eyes.”

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Worst yet

The worst G20 story yet:
As Sarah began pleading with them to give her father a little time and space to get up because he is an amputee, they began kicking and hitting him. One of the police officers used his knee to press Pruyn’s head down so hard on the ground, said Pruyn in an interview this July 4 with Niagara At Large, that his head was still hurting a week later.
Accusing him of resisting arrest, they pulled his walking sticks away from him, tied his hands behind his back and ripped off his prosthetic leg. Then they told him to get up and hop, and when he said he couldn’t, they dragged him across the pavement, tearing skin off his elbows , with his hands still tied behind his back. His glasses were knocked off as they continued to accuse him of resisting arrest and of being a “spitter,” something he said he did not do. They took him to a warehouse and locked him in a steel-mesh cage where his nightmare continued for another 27 hours.
This story is going viral.

Monday, July 05, 2010

"Arrest orgy" is what it was

Reading story after story after story after story after story about experiences during the G20 protests, one common thread strikes me -- they all include cruel, contemptuous, crude, or incompetent behaviour by the police.
At Macleans magazine, Adam Radwanski attributes police swagger to the lack of meaningful oversight:
. . . the message from governments to police, even before the saga over the provincial regulation, was that politicians preferred a no-questions-asked approach to security [and created in police] the sense that they had free rein to do as they saw fit, whatever part of downtown Toronto they happened to be in.
Boris at Galloping Beaver provides a deeper analysis. He calls it an "arrest orgy" and he thinks the growing backlash may eventually impact Canadian police the way Somaila affected Canada's armed forces:
With our police, where is a critical look at things such as the influence of new offensive technology such as Tasers, the universal provision of body armour, tactical clothing as work dress, and their cumulative effects on police self-perception and attitudes? Are their certain mindsets that have popularised and hardened within police departments? Does public outcry and investigation over their less than honorable actions actually serve to reinforce organizational insularity and promote further brutality? We saw them close ranks around Dziekanski foursome, and it seems as if the police may have used the G8/20 as a venue through which to hit back at "us" whom they may view as unappreciative and condescending.
Where the torture and murder of Shidane Arone may have been a catalyst of an overhaul of the armed forces, the death of Robert Dziekanski and the arrest orgy in Toronto may prove catalysts for an overhaul of Canadian policing. These events are symptoms of larger problems.
Today we finally found out that 16 people are still in jail a week after the G20 ended -- including a street medic who is apparently going to be charged with carrying a concealed weapon for carrying bandage shears.
And a woman from Peterborough has been charged with obstructing police and wearing a disguise with intent to commit an indictable offence -- she came to the protests dressed as a clown.

You're a grand old flag

One of the best production numbers ever filmed

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Toronto Pride

I hadn't realized that the Pride Parade originated as a protest following the 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids. I would imagine the people involved in those first marches would never have believed that, just 30 years later, a million happy people now celebrate gay pride.

Friday, July 02, 2010

If you bought a car from IKEA

This is what you would get

plus instructions.
(From Mr Jam)
Oh, and that reminds me:

Hold your own hearings!

Notwithstanding that 35.000 people have now joined the Facebook group Canadians Demanding a Public Inquiry into Toronto G20, the recent Angus Reid poll now being trumpeted by the press would indicate that a government inquiry just ain't gonna happen:
When asked about the reaction of the police in Toronto to the demonstrations, two-thirds of Canadians (66%) and three-in-four Torontonians (73%) believe it was justified.
So there we are -- everything was the protesters' own fault!
Or, at least, that's what the Harper Conservatives and the McGinty Liberals would dearly like everyone to conclude.
Nobody died. Nobody's grandmother was tased. No cabinet minister's daughter was pepper-sprayed or arrested. Clouds of tear gas did not sicken thousands. There are no visuals of people being knocked off their feet by water hoses.
Instead, the visuals were of burning police cars and broken windows -- not exactly images which will enrage the general public about what police did, as opposed to what protesters did. And even though there is still a trickle of news stories about how confusing everything was, there are no editorials demanding explanations of how a billion dollars was spent, and why Toronto police chief Bill Blair has repeatedly lied about summit events.
So regardless of Elizabeth May and the Canada Day protests, the likelihood at this time that the Harper Conservatives or the McGinty Liberals would ever order a public inquiry into police actions during the G20 protests is zero.
If the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Amnesty International and Greenpeace and labour unions and student groups want to have an inquiry into police actions during the G20 protests, they are going to have to do it themselves.
Its been done before. It needs to be done again.
There are already some G20 stories written down already, if reporters happened to hear them, and there are already lots and lots of videos and photos already posted all over the place -- one of the most noticeable things about the crowd shots during the whole G20 weekend was how many people were photographing everything they were seeing.
Even without subpoena powers and a government budget, a narrative can be written about what went wrong during these protests -- hearings can be held, stories assembled, videos and photos pulled together, a timeline constructed,and the locations and participants documented. This will prove that police disappeared on Saturday when the cars were being burned and windows broken, only to re-appear later to pursue and arrest ordinary protesters and passers-by.
And may even help us figure out, why?
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the CCLA has already issued a preliminary report of their observations during the summit
. . . after 5PM on Saturday, the constitutional protection against arbitrary detention and unreasonable searches had effectively been suspended across downtown Toronto.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Who are you going to believe?

Christie Blatchford and Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, or your lying eyes?
Here's what Blair says happened last Friday during the repatriation ceremony of a soldier killed in Afghanistan:
“The Black Bloc was here and they charged up the thing [laneway], as a matter of fact the repatriation was kind of interrupted,” Chief Blair said.
“My public order guys ran through the lines that we had to close off the alley that they were trying to get up [to Grosvenor] with". . . he had to tell Sgt. MacNeil’s escort, “Sorry, it’s over, get out of here because it’s too dangerous.”
Thanks to Dave at Galloping Beaver, we now have photographic confirmation of these horrendous events. Here's a photo of the wild crowd that ruined this ceremony:

Here is a video of how disruptive they were:


The boys defied the predictions and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, but I join the thousands of head-shaking fans at the stadium asking WTF -- too many men? Again?
Somebody on the Rider bench is suffering from dyscalculia.

Oh, Canada

I have sometimes thought this should be our national anthem.

Likely just another lie

So Toronto police leadership now say they knew by Friday that their "five-meter security zone" at the G20 summit was not an accurate depiction of the new regulation.
And they now say they informed their police officers about this change.
So we're supposed to believe that, at a time when journalists and newspaper editorials were talking about little else, and at a time when this regulation was radicalizing tens of thousands of protesters, absolutely none of the police officers monitoring the summit could be bothered to mention this significant change to any of the media or protesters?
Oh, sure.
Hung them out to dry, that's what they did -- their leaders knew police didn't have the authority they thought they had, and they let them rough people up and arrest people anyway.