Thursday, September 30, 2010

Out of control

Are Toronto police out of control?
They're not just criminalizing dissent, now they're criminalizing being a student.
A couple of weeks ago, it was Alex Hundert.
Yesterday it was Jaroslava Avila.
These people are just trying to do student stuff, like living a normal life and participating in discussion panels. Toronto police act like these people are violent "most wanted" fugitives -- stalking them, targeting them, tracking them down late at night and arresting them for violating their G20 bail conditions.
I'm waiting for the Canadian judicial system to put a stop to this, because when people get arrested the impact on their lives can be terrible. (HT Chet)
I expect police chief Bill Blair will asked WTF is going on in Toronto, during his interview on Monday with Steve Paikin. Yes, that Steve Paikin.
"I keep on speaking because that's all I have" says one of the protesters in this video --

Get real

Maybe its because I don't live there, but I don’t really care how disdainful everyone feels toward Obama or how disappointed everyone is with him or how Obama's minions have hurt the delicate fee-fees of the progressive left.
I attribute a lot of the crap dished out at Obama to racism - I'm not saying some criticism isn't deserved, but a lot of it is not.
However, be that as it may, we still need to get real. Here's my point -- the present Democratic party in the US may not be particularly progressive, but the Republicans and their nutcase hangers-on and acolytes and lobbyists and appointees are stupid or evil or both.
Anyone who thinks the United States is better off with the Republicans in power rather than the Democrats does not have the best interests of the American people at heart, nor of the world. Over just eight years, Bush and Cheney and the Republicans almost destroyed the US economy, and they almost took the rest of us down with them.
If they get into power again, they will run the United States into the ground.
No country in the world — particularly Canada — should want to see another Republican administration take power in the United States.

The tabloid formerly known as Macleans

I was glad to see Parliament condemn Macleans magazine for their smear-article about Quebec.
When the American tabloids blared that aliens endorsed Clinton, they at least had a photo! Macleans had nothing, except ancient prejudice.
Warren Kinsella points out that the Macleans is printing a tired old retread of a decade-old smear
Patriquin’s “story” declines to provide the reader with a study – any study – that proves that Quebec is “the most corrupt province in Canada.” They won’t, either, because no such study exists. Patriquin just made it up, and someone at the magazine went along with it because they thought they’d dazzle a few more dentist waiting rooms with their wit. Personally, I hope every person in Canadian public life kicks the living shit of Matrin Patriquin and his magazine this week. They richly deserve it.
And Montreal Simon adds:
while Patriquin's article was shabby and ridiculous, Andrew Coyne's stinky little sidebar was far more grotesque. A hideous mixture of selective facts, gross generalizations, and psycho-social babble that should, if there was any justice, shame him FOREVER.
I wonder if Chantal Hebert will be continuing to appear with Coyne on the National's At Issue panel? She doesn't particularly like Quebec-bashers.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The other shoe just dropped

The feds announced several deputy minister appointments at 5 pm last Friday and now we know why -- sounds like they didn't want anyone to notice that their Throne Speech announcement to review government operations and find millions in "government-wide efficiencies" is finished.
Wow, that was quick!
So I think we can all anticipate the conclusion which such a superficial review is going to reach: privatize!
And now do we also have an explanation for some inexplicable decisions -- like, for example, ordering Statistics Canada not to do the long-form census anymore? If corporations and agencies want the kind of data that they used to get from the long-form census, they're now going to have to hire someone's private company to get it for them.

Explaining the Tea Party

I've been trying hard for the last few months to wrap my head around the Tea Party in the States, trying to understand what their problem is. Now, thanks to Matt Tabbi, I can just stop trying:
"Let me get this straight," I say to David. "You've been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?"
"Well," he says, "there's a lot of people on welfare who don't deserve it. Too many people are living off the government."
"But," I protest, "you live off the government. And have been your whole life!"
"Yeah," he says, "but I don't make very much." Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it's going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I've concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They're full of shit.
And their name is stupid, too.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thanks but no thanks?

First we read that Conservative finance minister Jim Flaherty endorsed Toronto mayoral candidate Rob Ford and then we see that Ford's support is dropping.
Hmmm -- I wonder what would happen if MORE federal Conservatives started helping the Ford campaign?

Thin edge

This is another "thin edge of the wedge" story but its going our way for a change.
One of the unintended side-effects of cases like the Robert Dziekański tasering has been that police are increasingly hostile toward anyone near them with camera -- we saw lots of this during the G20 protests, when people had their camera memory cards wiped.
Now a circuit court judge in Maryland has dismissed the "wiretapping" charges that an ambitious prosecutor tried to bring against a motorist who posted a video on YouTube of a policeman giving him a ticket.
Not so fast, said the judge:
Judge Emory A. Pitt Jr. had to decide whether police performing their duties have an expectation of privacy in public space. Pitt ruled that police can have no such expectation in their public, on-the-job communications.
Pitt wrote: "Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public. When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation. 'Sed quis custodiet ipsos cutodes' ("Who watches the watchmen?”)."
Graber was also charged with possessing a “device primarily useful for the purpose of the surreptitious interception of oral communications" -- referring to the video camera on his helmet. The judge disagreed with the prosecutor that the helmet cam was illegal, and concluded the state's argument would render illegal “almost every cell phone, Blackberry, and every similar device, not to mention dictation equipment and other types of recording devices."


Shorter Immigration minister Jason Kenney:
Not only do I not want to be bothered with actual facts, I want my department to make up some facts that will support my opinion!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Friday afternoon news dump

So the Cons are playing musical chairs with their deputy ministers, announcing these appointments at 5 pm on Friday afternoon even though they aren't taking effect for two weeks.
Which possibly means that one or more are controversial -- any thoughts about which ones?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Great line of the day

From Dr. William F. Harrison who provided abortions at his Arkansas clinic in spite of threats:
It is not always possible for one to determine how we will die, but it is always ours to choose how we will LIVE. I choose to live unafraid.

TV week

This was the week of the new TV shows. Here are some quick takes:
I really liked Detroit 187 -- with the mild quibble that the "rogue cop with a tragic backstory and a heart of gold" scenario is getting rather tired. But Shaun Majumder is going to be pretty good in this, I think. And they actually film it in Detroit, which is an interesting city visually as well as socially.
Boardwark Empire? Eh, not so much -- the script is trying to repeat the Sopranos formula, but Steve Buscemi, as much as I love him, can't pull off Gandolfini's genial psychopath with a heart of gold.
Blue Blood also had the tired "rogue cop rescues the child by torturing the scumbag" scenario, but had a neat twist at the end with the secret society stuff.
Not sure about The Event -- likable characters, but I lost it at the third or fourth flashback within a flashback. And does anyone actually think that Blair Underwood looks Hispanic? So just do the big Kang-and-Kodos reveal already and lets move on! Now, Jimmy Smits looks Hispanic though I'm not sure whether he can singlehandedly save Outlaw when everyone else in the cast seems to be a cardboard replica of a real person.
Defenders was much more interesting than I had thought it would be -- interesting characters and a truly intriguing legal case with the involuntary manslaughter angle and gaming the judge not to properly instruct the jury. If they keep this up. they could have a real show here. We passed on Hawaii 5-0, thinking it would probably be terrible, but apparently it wasn't.
Good Guys has improved so much it is almost unrecognizable from the early shows -- particularly Colin Hanks.
Castle just gets better and better -- interesting plots, and one of the only shows on TV that shows a normal relationship between a father, teenage daughter, and grandmother. Though of course there is also Modern Family - hysterical. And I know exactly what Claire means about appreciating memories with your family -- saving sunshine in a jar.
NCIS seems to be bringing the Director into the stories more now, a good thing because the Director/Gibbs relationship is more nuanced. And I hope they're cutting down on the Crazy Abby subplots.
For a while there, NCIS was falling into the familiar pattern which we often see on TV shows written primarily by men, where the men characters are just normal people but the women are all types -- nurturing mother, sexy bitch, little girl lost, crazy comic relief.
I guess CSI and Criminal Intent are what they are -- serial killers, explosions, autopsy porn, everybody spends 20 hours a day at work. And this year's soap opera on Bones is going to be Angela's pregnancy? Oh, please!
Next week -- The Good Wife, and Human Target!
And I think Flashpoint will be back sometime, too.
Every fall we go through this -- we enjoy catching the new shows when they come out, but then we usually only watch a few over the rest of the season. Considering that there is only a couple of hours of TV watching time available for us in the evenings, if that, and considering that we also want to keep up with sports, not to mention the occasional movie or documentary or Dog Whisperer or Sell This House -- and blogging, don't forget blogging -- it means there's never any way that we could watch all the TV series that we potentially might enjoy. We now have one of those TV boxes where you can record a show anytime, and now I've got several hours of recordings that I am not sure when, if ever, I will watch.
And every fall, it seems that at least one of the shows I like dies an early death

Thursday, September 23, 2010


On The National tonight the At Issue panel was talking about the relationship between the Harper government and the senior civil service. Chantal Hebert said "What do you do with a government that doesn't let the facts get in the way...that says experts are not useful?" Alan Gregg noted that Mulroney listened to the civil service, while the Harper government "is unique in not doing that."
Well, I guess Harper wanted to go down in history for SOMETHING unique.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Moscow Cat Theatre

What a video!

1.7 million views already

Here is how they did it -- only took 124 takes!

Reading the tea leaves

I expect the next few weeks will be rife with election speculation.
While John Baird perishes the thought, Flaherty is busy issuing The Usual Warnings Of Doom.
And if Harper is successful in winning a Canadian seat on the Security Council on Oct. 12, and considering how the Bastarache Inquiry in Quebec is going to echo the federal Liberal sponsorship scandal, and considering how the Harper Cons are hopeful that the long gun registry vote will jeopardize some NDP rural seats, and while the Afghanistan prisoner torture issue is in a lull, and before the Cons have to table a fall fiscal update, and before Sheila Fraser or the Parliamentary Budget Office can publish more critical reports, and before everybody's EI premiums go up, and maybe Harper can go a month or six weeks without firing some long-suffering civil servant, and . . .
Fixed election dates? What a quaint idea.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

If Hillary Clinton was President

If Hillary Clinton was President today....
...the media would be talking about her failure to connect with ordinary voters, particularly men, because she's such a bitchy ball buster.
... there would be a Republican-financed Tea Party-type of movement, but it wouldn't be based on how Muslim-black the president is ("because he's really not one of us, you know"). Instead, it would be called the American Liberty movement (thus co-opting the "women's liberation" terminology) and it would be based on how mean and bitchy and ineffective the president is ("because that's the way women are, you know")
.... we would be seeing report after report about how everybody in the White House hates Bill, and how Bill is really running the country and telling Hillary what to do, and how they fight all the time behind the scenes. Oh, and there would be reporters on full-time 'Bill booty watch' assignment to catch him just glancing at any other woman. The tabloids would be having a field day revealing his secret love nests and linking him with every woman in Washington
... Vince Foster and the Arkansas land deals would be all the rage again. In fact, it would be a well-known fact in Republican circles that Bill and Hillary engineered the whole economic meltdown to cover up for how they and their Friends Of Bill and their Arkansas friends and their Hollywood friends made millions on the bailouts.
... Official Washington would have tut-tutted about everything connected to Chelsea's White House wedding. Sally Quinn would have been outraged at how pathetically classless the Clintons are. And how outrageous that Madame President picked an Oscar De La Renta gown-- he was born in the Dominican Republic, you know? And it showed far to much of her arms!
... self-proclaimed progressives would be pissed off at Hillary.
... and the media would be talking about how the Democrats were going to lose control of Congress at the mid-terms "just like Bill did" because of voter anger at Hillary.
In other words, business as usual.
(cross posted at Daily Kos)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Criminalization of dissent continues in Toronto

After a Toronto judge on Monday refused police and prosecutor attempts to rescind G20 protester Alex Hundert's bail, Hundert was arrested at 10:30 on Friday night for the "crime" of speaking to Ryerson students at a panel about "movement building and ongoing resistance to the G20 agenda".
Apparently, his previous bail condition about not "participating in public protest" now means that he is not supposed to say anything to anyone in public anymore.
Its getting pretty old, folks, watching Toronto police continue to justify their own violence during the G20 police riot by pretending that the G20 protesters are evil masterminds.

Great line of the day

Apropos of my previous post, John Cole says:
I will never understand Democrats. Ever. If the Democratic party was a football team, they wouldn’t need to schedule any games with other teams. They could just have their offense and defense attack each other all day.

Jane Hamsher is at it again

She just cannot stand that uppity, disrespectful Obama -- how dare he make a joke about something FireDogLake thinks is important!
As a commenter pointed out:
...on the day that FDL gets its most fervent wish that it has been bitching & moaning about for months and Elizabeth Warren is named a presidential adviser and head of the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection…Jane chooses to post about a perceived slight in a lighthearted speech by the president. It’s almost like the mission here is nurturing grievances rather than acknowledging that something that progressives wanted done by the administration, you know, GOT DONE. It’s almost like nothing that Obama does will ever be good enough for the former Hillary/Edwards/Dean/Kucinich/Nader/Any Given Backup Quarterback supporters around here who worked sooooo hard to elect Obama (ahem) because there will always be a movable goalpost to whine over or a bit of perceived disrespect to get all huffy about. Oh wait…that was the President’s point in the first place.
Oh, and how's that crusade to get Rahm Emmanuel fired working out for you and Grover?


And this one (which they won't let me embed.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What's the matter with Tony Blair?

Thers sums up what is wrong with Tony Blair:
the more Tony Blair seems to have accepted the idea that SOMEONE needs to take on the mantle of Defender of the West, the more he comes across as a guy who Grima Wormtongue would have sneered at as too sycophantic & spineless. The stiff upper lip meets the quivering lower-lip sensing tongue. It's just embarrassing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

MS patients won't take No for an answer

MS patients, and their families, are obviously starting to have an effect on federal intransigence toward the blocked vein treatment for multiple sclerosis.
The party line which trashed even doing any research into the possible treatment is starting to crack. The organization Direct MS has now done an analysis which concludes that Canadian medical scientists whose research is supported by drug companies should not be the ones deciding whether research into a non-drug treatment for MS is justified:
This would be like asking oil company executives if we need a definitive study on climate change.

A new internet tradition

You're heard of jumping the shark, underpants gnomes, thrown under the bus, and even I am aware of all internet traditions.
Well, now we have "F**king the cow".
A new internet tradition is born and you were there.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"The morning will come when the world is mine"

Reading about the Tea Party Triumphant reminded me a bit of this:

Not to go all Godwin on you, of course, but there's a whiff of this in the States just now.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Great line of the day

In the Globe and Mail, Douglas Bell writes about why the G20 protesters should not have been arrested:
I’m willing to bet that Olivier Lanctot didn’t commit the crimes of which he is accused. What he is guilty of is being young and possibly naïve, of imagining that dissent requires no justification beyond the content of his own intellect and conscience. He is in short every parent’s son or daughter searching for a way of being; of asking the questions it takes a lifetime to answer. Criminalizing dissent the way the federal, provincial, and city authorities did during the G20 was more than just a temporary suspension of civil rights. It was a violation of the fundamental covenant between youth and experience. If we let this slide we will fail ourselves and our children.
Emphasis mine.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The stupid, it burns

I notice that Bush's Counterterrorism advisor, a dingbat named Fran Townsend. is appearing on CNN's State of the Union tomorrow.
I will always remember watching her say in 2006 that Bush's failure to capture Osama Bin Laden wasn't a failure at all --
"it's a success that hasn't occurred yet."
A convenient yet profound concept, really.

Friday, September 10, 2010

But will he listen?

So Conservative MPs are now supposed to tell Stephen Harper when he is wrong -- only in committees, of course, because the Conservative caucus knows their political career is toast if they object publicly to anything at all.
But when Harper is told that he is being stupid, will he listen?
I doubt it. He never has before.
(HT Alison)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Simple answers

POGGE reminds us that when the Harper Conservatives were elected in 2006, the Employment Insurance fund was estimated to have a huge surplus, something like $57 billion. Now they're talking about raising EI premiums because when the Harper Conservatives set up the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board two years ago they only gave them $2 billion to start with.
So POGGE asks a very logical question which doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone else: What happened to the other $55 billion?
Easy. They spent it.
This has been another edition of simple answers to not-stupid questions.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

God called; he wants his church back

Wingnuts, con men and crazy people keep on declaring themselves as "religious leaders" and the US media just blandly accepts them at face value.
Self-ordained "pastor"Terry Jones and his fascist congregation have about as much religious credibility as Jake and Elwood:

Sunday, September 05, 2010


So the new rug in the Oval Office has a quote on it from Martin Luther King that he got from someone else.
It must be Obama's fault!
The American media love stories like this -- everybody can babble on about it without having to do any boring, time-consuming research.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Truth or truthiness?

If Kory Teneycke's op ed against Margaret Atwood is an example of the level of journalistic rigour and commitment to truth and accuracy that we can expect in his new network, we're in trouble.
Here's the way Kory put it, compared to reality:
Avaaz, an American special interest group funded by U.S. billionaire George Soros . . . Avaaz (“voice” in Persian) . . . ignorant U.S. fringe group
Reality: Contrary to the "Persian" implication, Avaaz is not an Iranian front organization. Nor is "American". Nor is it a "fringe group". Here's what Avaaz is actually all about: is a new global online advocacy community that brings people-powered politics to global decision-making.
Avaaz—meaning "voice" in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages—was launched in January 2007 with a simple democratic mission: organize citizens everywhere to help close the gap between the world we have and the world most people want.
In 3 years, Avaaz has grown to 5.5 million members from every country on earth, becoming the largest global web movement in history.
The Economist writes of Avaaz' power to "give world leaders a deafening wake-up call"; the Indian Express heralds "the biggest web campaigner across the world, rooting for crucial global issues.” and Suddeutsche Zeitung calls Avaaz "a transnational community that is more democratic, and could be more e ffective than the United Nations.” Run by a virtual team on 3 continents, Avaaz operates in 14 languages.
. . . Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown says Avaaz "has driven forward the idealism of the world." Al Gore says "Avaaz is inspiring… it has already made a significant difference.” Zainab Bangura, the foreign minister of Sierra Leone, describes Avaaz as "an ally, and a rallying place, for disadvantaged people everywhere to help create real change.” . . . was co-founded by Res Publica, a global civic advocacy group, and, an online community that has pioneered internet advocacy in the United States.
It can also be noted that the Conservatives were pissed off with Avaaz in 2008, when they launched a campaign in October to stop a Harper majority government.
Atwood is not the only A-list “celebrity” that has signed. Dwight Shroot (from The Office), Boba Fett (of Star Wars), Snuffaluffagus (Sesame Street) and Homer Simpson are also signatories. Clearly the CRTC should take note of such distinguished individuals lending their name to this smear job.

Reality: Kady O'Malley Sept 3, 2010:
I can't speak for the CRTC, but that line made me take note, for one very simple reason: the petition itself isn't actually online, which means it's not possible to view the names of any of the signatories.
. . . Avaaz executive director Ricken Patel...told me that, although they still hadn't identified the source, they have "tracked all of the suspect names to a single IP address," and that it appears that "a good number of the journalists who were fraudulently added were from the same source that added the Snuffluphagus" -- which would, of course, be the very same correspondent who tipped off Tenecyke to the fake names in time for him to include them in his column today.
"What's really concerning for us is that this fraud occurred last night, right as he must have been writing his op-ed, so he appears to have almost instantaneous knowledge of the fraud being committed -- before we did or anyone else. How is that possible? And, given that this is potentially criminal investigation, will he disclose that relationship to his source? ..."
This is not the first time Atwood has put her political agenda ahead of principles and patriotism. In the 2008 election campaign she was asked if she would vote for the separatist Bloc Quebecois if she lived in Quebec, she said: “Yes. Absolutely. What is the alternative?”
Reality: Globe and Mail Oct. 3, 2008:
Ms. Atwood, who described her support for Mr. Duceppe as “ironic” given his pledge to build a sovereign Quebec, said he has a better grasp of the economy than the Conservative Leader. Although she lives in Toronto and has voted for every political party from the Conservatives to the Greens in previous elections, Ms. Atwood is encouraging Canadians to vote for the candidate in their riding who can stop a Conservative from winning. “I'm here because Mr. Duceppe understands the contribution that culture makes to our economy. He understands $84-billion, and he understands 1.1 million jobs,” she said.
Sun TV News is not, nor has it ever, asked for “mandatory carriage” by cable or satellite companies.We are simply asking for the channel to be “offered” by the distributors. . . . It does not mean it is a part of the basic cable or satellite package, nor does it dictate what (if any) package it would be a part of.
Reality: Marketing magazine Sept. 3
In an application made public this week, the Quebec media conglomerate is asking the federal regulator to grant it a Category 2 specialty license for its proposed Sun TV News service. In a twist, however, it is asking the federal regulator to grant it “mandatory access” to Canadian BDUs for a maximum of three years.
Quebecor’s previous application for a Category 1 service–in which it would have been granted mandatory carriage by BDUs–was denied in July.
If Sun TV gets its license, will we be spending the next decade writing corrective blog posts like this one?
UPDATE: POGGE is on it. And 900ftJesus. And Alison is all over it and flags Avaaz's response. Don't miss Linda McQuaig at Rabble (h/t Cliff)

Friday, September 03, 2010

G20 agendas

In response to an Ottawa Sun editorial about the hundreds of unnecessary arrests at the G20 protests, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union president Dave Coles writes a letter to the editor
I was there and tried to help diffuse the tension caused by police behaving violently but, of course, there were other agendas at play -- like trying to justify the $2-billion security price tag. And like arresting journalists to try to prevent them from doing their jobs, which would expose that fact.
The Toronto police are finally admitting that mistakes were made -- even though they are now blaming the Queen and Spadina ketteling on a mysterious group of 60 Black Bloc anarchists that nobody ever mentioned before, who were apparently "armed" and were "apprehended heading to the area."
So I guess it was all the Black Bloc's fault again! Quel suprise!
And one more observation -- remember how the Iraq War cheerleaders tried to deflect blame for the Iraq War by proclaiming it was actually the Democrats fault for not stopping it, rather than Bush's fault for starting it? Well, now we're starting to hear about how the police riot at the G20 was really all the Liberal's fault for not objecting to it.


I think Conventional Wisdom is swinging against the Harper Conservatives. A summer marked by a thousand needless arrests, tanking poll numbers, stupid press conferences, arbitrary firings and PMO office resignations has forced even John Ibbitson to raise a mild question about Prime Minister Sweater's managerial brilliance.
And Harper shouldn't be waiting for Kory Teneycke to cover his back -- Kory has got some credibility problems of his own to deal with.