Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Conservatives Still In Neutral

Ahhh, life in the slow lane.
The Canadian Press
December 19, 2007 at 11:28 AM EST
OTTAWA —
A new poll suggests Stephen Harper's Conservatives have lost their big lead over the Liberals, plunging six percentage points in popular support in just one week. The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey puts the Tories at 30-per-cent support, in a statistical tie with the Liberals, who are up four points to 32 per cent.
Support for the Tories dropped across all regions and demographic
groups.

The Wingnutosphere will no doubt be atwitter with their requisite responses:
  • Poll? What poll? We don't believe in polls.
  • It's the CBC!
  • It's the Red Star!
  • Sound of deafening silence as BTs ignore story altogether.

Take your pick.

TOO GOOD TO PASS UP: Researchers have discovered a giant rat in Indonesia! Originally thought to have been a new species, Stephen Harper today confirmed that it is not.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Perpetual Victims Cry Foul....Again.

For all of their bigotry, ignorance and general blowhardiness, The Blogging Tories have perfected the art of playing the victim card. And you have to feel sorry for the poor little nincompoops. Forever under the boot of the immigrants, the gays, the Muslims, the environmentalists, the peaceniks, and any other group at whom they sneer, they continue to stand on guard against oppressors (real or imagined) in all their forms.
The latest threat...making a return appearance...LIBERAL MEDIA BIAS!!!

Allow me to summarize their complaints: "BOOO HOOOO HOOOO HOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO!!!!!!"



Assclowns, the lot of them.

BONUS STUPIDITY: I don't pretend to compete with Canadian Cynic when it comes to exposing BT dumbassitude, but if you want to read one of the world's dumbest attempts at fisking, check this out. I love the fact that Sandy proudly blogs under the banner "Crux of the Matter" while managing to miss the point of her own post by a country mile.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mike McGuire: A Sadist with a Heart


"I understand that torture isn't something that's to be all that fond of."
So says Mike McGuire in one of his more feculent "dispatches" from the Socialist Gulag. Good for you Mike, good for you.
Gee, I thought all along that waterboarding doesn't work, that roughing up terrorist scum isn't the way to interogate them because it's counter-productive. Well, it appears the bleeding hearts were wrong...
Well, Mikey, I don't suppose it would do any good to point out that in fact there has never been any evidence that torture is an effective means of eliciting valid information. Or that many people more enlightened than you (and I'm guessing that's a pretty big list) have dismissed it as unreliable. Or that lack of efficacy is not the only thing that "bleeding hearts" have against the practice of physically and psychologically abusing another human being. Seems ethics, a basic sense of human decency...and...oh yeah..the law are hardly the types of things one has time to ponder when shrieking for the heads of one's enemies from the chilly depths of the socialist gulag.

In case you're wondering, Mike is referring to a recent admission that the CIA used waterboarding on an Al Qaeda prisoner, and "broke" him in 35 seconds. What the "dispatch" fails to mention is that the CIA was so proud of their accomplishments in this regard, they decided to destroy the video evidence. And as Wonkette observes:
Um, hey, buddy? If it only takes about 30 seconds of non-torture-y waterboarding to break a senior terrorist dude, then either waterboarding is way more torture-iffic than you really know, or the guy’s such a pussy you probably didn’t need to torture him in the first place to get the information out of him. I’m just sayin’.
But maybe my heart doth bleed too much. Maybe we should torture them all! And since Mike is so convinced that these kind of techniques don't cause "death or long term physical damage", maybe we could start with him! If the CIA strapped a car battery to his genitalia, he'd probably fess up to the JFK assassination. And 5 bucks says he'd do it in less than 35 seconds. Any takers?

Update: Courtesy of Canadian Cynic, turns out that Mike's shining example of waterboarding success is a little less than advertised. The CIA found Zubaydah was "certifiably insane" and knew "nothing about terrorist organizations". No soup for you, Mike!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Gospel According to KKKate: More Guns!


Just when you think the Blogging Tories couldn't get any dumber, they manage to defy expectations. The latest blast of douchebaggery comes from Small Dead Brains where Kate has managed to seize upon the recent spate of gun violence in American churches.

Normally, after a shooting spree, the conversation between a normal person and a Blogging Tory goes something like this:

Normal Person: This is tragic.

BT: What's tragic is that the Communist Fiberals won't let us defend ourselves by carrying concealed automatic weapons.

Normal Person: Don't you think it's a little dangerous to have everyone walking around with concealed weapons?

BT: Fuck you, leftard.

Normal Person: Umm, that's not really an argument.

BT: Heil Hitler.

Normal Person: What did you say??

BT: HAROOJAHHH

Normal Person: That's not even a word.

After the recent tragic shootings the the YWAM in Arvada and the New Life Church in Colorado Springs (not to mention the mall shooting in Omaha), I was hopeful that usual right-wing cries for further weaponization would be muted by the obvious absurdity of suggesting that ordinary churchgoers should carry concealed weapons and use them to blow away potential attackers in the middle of their congregation. Absurdity be damned, says Kate - arm 'em all!

Referring to a story about Pastor Boyd praising a security guard for shooting the New Life attacker, Kate starts off by complaining:
Here's a detail they may have left out of your morning news. I know they left it out of mine.
Oooooh, those sneaky moonbats at....CNN. Trying to slip that story by you by posting it on their website...how frightfully devious of them! And she ends with this steaming turd of anti-intellectual tripe:
When you legislate gun-free zones, only the mass murderers have guns.
The very thought of Blogging Tories and SDA commenters running around with concealed weapons should make us all profoundly scared. Because when you arm the Blogging Tories, only the idiots have guns.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Worst Courtroom Sketch. Ever.

"Smiling Confident Bonds in Court", proclaims the Toronto Star. Now, I'm no artist, and I don't mean to nitpick, but seriously. I don't like Barry Bonds, and even I feel bad for the guy after seeing the way he was sketched. He looks like some kind of crystal meth inspired Stan Lee nightmare. Or maybe Roadblock from GI Joe (who coincidentally was probably also on steroids).

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Day Without Illegal Immigrants


Can you imagine such a thing? Republican Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo (R) can. In fact, he salivates over the prospect. In 2006, Tan-cretin (the space cadet in the picture above) published an article in the National Review Online (where else?) in which he mused about the white anglo-saxon utopia that would undoubtedly blossom in the absence of all the dirty illegal aliens.

Said Tancredo,
If the “Day-Without-an-Immigrant Boycott” had been held a year earlier on May 8, 2005, and illegal alien Raul Garcia-Gomez had stayed home and did notwork or go to a party that day, Denver police officer Donnie Young would still be alive and Garcia-Gomez would not be
sitting in a Denver jail awaiting trial. If the boycott had been held on July 1, 2004, Justin Goodman
of Thornton, Colorado, would still be riding his motorcycle and Roberto Martinez-Ruiz would not be in prison for killing him and then fleeing the scene while driving on a suspended license.
...Our highway patrol and county sheriffs would have about far fewer DUI arrests and there would be a dramatic decline in rollovers of vanloads of illegal aliens on I-70 and other
highways.
Hard to argue with solid numbers like "about far fewer" and "a dramatic decline". Tancredo went on to enlighten us on the effect of illegal immigrants on the construction industry.

On a Day Without an Illegal Immigrant, thousands of workers and small contractors in the construction industry across Colorado would have their jobs back, the jobs given to illegal workers because they work for lower wages and no benefits. (On the other hand, if labor unions continue signing up illegal workers, no one will be worrying about Joe Six-Pack’s loss. Sorry, Joe, but you forgot to tell your union business agent that your job is as important as his is.)
So, in case you weren't keeping score, if illegal aliens disappeared, Colorado streets would be safer, good ol' boys would still be alive, and "Joe-Six Pack" would be consuming said product on a job site instead of at home. Oh and one more small thing - Tom Tancredo (R) wouldn't have an elaborate entertainment complex added onto his home.

When Tancredo hired a construction crew to transform his drab basement into a high-tech pleasure den in October 2001, however, he did not express concern that only two of its members spoke English. Nor did he bother to check the workers’ documentation to see if they were legal residents of the United States. Had Tancredo done so, he would have learned that most of the crew consisted of undocumented immigrants, or “criminal aliens” as he likes to call them. Instead, Tancredo paid the crew $60,000 for its labor and waited innocently for the completion of his elaborate entertainment complex.
Whoops! Maybe Tancredo can fall back on his old excuse for weaselling out of serving in Vietnam - mental illness.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A La Prochaine, Red Tory!


A quick entry today, to bid thanks and farewell to one our most prolific Libloggers, Red Tory. Yesterday, to the surprise of many, RT hung up the proverbial towel (at least temporarily). Real life, it appears, has a strange way of creeping up on us all!

I think it's fair to say that Red represented some of the best in Canadian political blogging. Thoughtful, erudite, and always engaging of his many commenters, his was always an active and entertaining forum for discussion.

From my own tiny corner of the blogosphere, I wish him all the best and hope to see him back in the near future.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wajid Khan Is Sleazy....I'm Shocked.

Is anyone out there particularly surprised that Wajid Khan was today charged with illegal election spending by the Elections Commissioner? Yes, Khan was a member of the Liberal Party at the time. But he has since crossed the floor and has found a happy home in the CPC, where we all still await his magical mid-east report.

Said Stephen Harper of the accused,
"The more we worked together, the more both of us began to realize that, politically, we have an awful lot in common...In time, it became clear to me that Mr. Khan would be quite at home in the Conservative Party."
Indeed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I Am Better Than Your Kids


In the midst of all the political goings-on at the present time, I thought today I would take the high road (or the low one, depending on how you look at it), and post a link to one of the funnier websites I've come across recently.

If you've ever been annoyed by excessive children's art at your place of work, this site is for you.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Revolving Doors

At this stage of the game, it should hardly come as a surprise that the Harper government is talking a big game about "changing the way things are done in Ottawa", but actually doing nothing of the sort. The latest insult to our collective intelligence comes in the form of Kory Teneycke, a former industrial lobbyist who has just been hired by the Conservative caucus.


Directly from the CPC website:

I guess check-mark #4 is more CPC bullshit in action. As noted by the Harper Index, the revolving door between lobbyists and the Conservative Party continues to spin wildly. According to an article in the Star:
Kory Teneycke, the former executive director of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, was hired this fall to lead the Conservative research bureau, which prepares talking points for Tory MPs and digs up dirt on the opposition.
...The latest in a long list of examples includes a senior member of Environment Minister John Baird's staff and a member of Public Works Minister Michael Fortier's staff, who both recently left to work as lobbyists in Ottawa.
...Teneycke contributed $1,000 each to five different Tory candidates – all successful – in the final week of the 2006 election campaign, according to Elections Canada records. Among the recipients was MP Gerry Ritz, now the federal agriculture minister and the man responsible for fostering Canada's biofuels industry.

Oh, and apparently he's a "pal" of Stephen Taylor's. Anyways, I don't particularly give a rat's ass about Teneycke himself. After all, as I'm sure the BT's will be quick to point out...but, but, but, the Liberals did it too!!! Boo, hoo, hoo, hooooo....
The point, however, is that when Harper goes through the trouble of making a fancy little check mark on his party website and traipses around crowing about cleaning up lobbyist/politician relationships, he might reasonably be expected to do as he says. Or not.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Weekend Musings

I know it's been done to death on countless Liblogs, but I feel I would be remiss not to mention my delight at watching Harpo twist and turn and eventually call an "independent review" on his old buddy Lyin' Brian Mulroney. Pressure from the opposition? An attempt to deflect attention away from Dion's poverty plan? Worry about his own name being linked to Karlheinz Schreiber and his sordid dealings? Who knows. But it's funny that an exercise that was just last week dismissed as "dangerous" is now crucial to "protect the office of the Prime Minister". When the spineless turn on the shameless, it's always good for a few laughs.

And does anyone actually believe the latest steaming pile of crap to come out of the Perv's mouth? According to an article in the G&M, "Pakistan Will End Emergency Rule In One Month". Uh huh. And if you buy that, I have a bridge in New York I'd like to sell you. The tinpot Pakistani dictator-in-chief suspended all pretense of democracy (which has never actually existed) in his country last week on the grounds that he wanted to round up Islamic terrorists. So far, the only people he's tossed in jail have been Supreme Court justices, lawyers, political opponents and human rights activists. And yet, the US taps continue to flow to the tune of billions of dollars a year. Spreading democracy, one brutal dictatorship at a time.
UPDATE: Anyone still interested in that bridge in New York? The Perv has confirmed that martial law will not end in one month, as announced yesterday. Apparently, the poor man found himself between a rock and a "hard surface".

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Power Tools

Poor Condi Rice. What's a freedom-totin' democracy-lovin' gal to do these days? General Pervez "the Perv" Musharraf, loyal Bushie and self-proclaimed US ally in "the war on terra", has today taken the magnanimous step of declaring martial law in Pakistan.

Musharraf has become a vexing little problem for the Bush administration. Ostensibly a friend to the neocons in the administration, his actions since he grabbed power in a bloodless coup eight years ago have cast a serious cloud of doubt over his sincerity. He is a dictator, to be sure, at times adorning himself in glittering military paraphernalia that would have made Idi Amin blush. But recently, he has made a point of appearing in civilian attire, even as he announced the end of the Rule of Law, the suspension of TV and telephone services, and the arrest and detention of several prominent members of the judicial branch. He is nothing if not savvy.
Pakistan has become openly what many have observed it to be privately for years - namely a dangerous country populated by a combustible blend of democrats, Islamists, terrorists, and tribal people of indeterminate loyalty. A country led by an ambitious and at times ruthless man who, via the army, has held a vice grip on power for nearly a decade and is clearly in no rush to let it go. Musharraf has been torn between his own declining popularity, a judiciary that has grown tired of his continued disrespect of the Constitution, an insurgency within his own country, a leaky border with Afghanistan, tensions with tribal peoples, and a still simmering problem in Kashmir. He's been juggling, but dropping balls over the years.
The return of Benazir Bhutto didn't help matters much. And with some chief justices musing openly last week about ruling his presidency illegal, the stage was set for dramatic action.
“Unless General Musharraf reverses the course it will be very difficult to have fair elections,” [Bhutto] told Sky News television by telephone. “I agree with him that we are facing a political crisis, but I believe the problem is dictatorship, I don’t believe the solution is dictatorship."
And, speaking for Bush, Condi has meekly voiced the opinion that the USA does not support "extraconstitutional measures" (waterboarding, the Patriot Act, and Guantanamo Bay notwithstanding, apparently). Let the good times roll.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Scrappin' Rapin and The Little Guy from Shawinigan

Sorry for the paucity of posts in the last few weeks. Life has been hectic here on the left coast. Anyways, it's been an interesting week...

In the wake of the huge Liberal win in Ontario, you have to pity a couple of Johns. Tory and Rapin to be precise. Tory of course lost his own riding. And Rapin, running against John Gerretsen, finished a distant second in Kingston and the Islands. Rapin's optimism prior to the election was admirable, if naive. Kingston, home of Queen's University, has for years been a strong Liberal riding. On October 2nd, after John Tory had flip-flopped on religious school funding, Rapin was duly impressed.
Rapin says changing the party's central platform -- so late in the campaign -- is an act of political courage...."I think it shows leadership, he's willing to take advice and listen and recognize that as much as this is dear to him... that there are a lot of concerned people out there."
After the election, Team Rapin was singing a different tune. According to Rapin's campaign office manager:
“If John Tory wasn’t the leader of this party, we would have won this riding. As a matter of fact, if John Tory hadn’t opened his fucking mouth, we would have won this riding.”
Umm, ok. Whatever...

And former PM Jean Chretien has released new memoirs in which he comes down hard on his eventual successor Paul Martin. I for one am glad to see the Little Guy come out swinging. Mr. Dither's (not so) behind-the-scenes maneuvering to oust Chretien was nothing short of deplorable. In his zeal to become Prime Minister, Martin fomented a revolution of sorts, and created deep and destructive divisions within the party.

So when Martin's spokesman Jim Pimblett expresses concern that "old divisions are being revisited at a time when the Liberal Party needs to stand unified behind (Liberal leader Stephane) Dion”, the irony is almost unbearable. I wonder if Martin now wishes he had taken Pimblett's advice so many years ago?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Fuhrer" Over U.S. Navy Building

This is one of the stranger stories I came across today. Apparently, the US Navy is spending $600,000 dollars to renovate a 40 year old barracks building in Coronado California. The reason? Satellite images of the building on Google Earth have revealed its shape to be that of a swastika!
The Navy said officials noted the buildings' shape after the groundbreaking in 1967 but decided against changing it at the time because it wasn't obvious from the ground. Aerial photos made available on Google Earth in recent years have since revealed the buildings' shape to a wide audience.

As a replacement for the swastika buiding, the Navy has decided to build three sister barracks side by side by side, which will be able to accomodate many more sailors. The first of the three buildings has been completed, and an aerial view is provided below:


I'm heading up to Whistler for the weekend, so no blog updates till at least next week. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Healthcare for Dummies

A few days ago, the AARP hosted a Democratic presidential debate in Iowa. One of the main topics of discussion was healthcare, a cause once championed by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. The debate itself was the usual mishmash of meaningless campaign slogans and promises to ensure a "better healthcare system" for all Americans. But there were a couple of things conspicuously absent - content and candidates.

Senator Barack Obama was invited, but declined to participate. Also absent was Congressman Dennis Kucinich, but not for lack of interest. In fact, Kucinich wasn't even invited to the debate. An odd decision, given that Kucinich is in favour of a truly universal healthcare system for all Americans, and would have added some much needed spark to an otherwise predictable evening. Why would the AARP exclude someone like Kucinich?

Turn out the AARP is one of the largest lobby groups in the USA. It has drawn critics from both sides of the political spectrum, at once accused of being too socialist and too cozy with big Pharma. The association was however a major supporter of Medicare Part D, a stance which angered many Democrats. Part D is an addendum to the original Medicare Plan, which ostensibly permits subsidies for prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries. The program is seen by critics as a boon to the Pharmaceutical industry, as it forbids the federal government from negotiating drug prices (this practice is allowed by the Veteran's Association).
Medicare pays $1,485 for Zocor, while the VA pays $127. Former Congressman Billy Tauzin, R-La., who steered the bill through the House, retired soon after and took a $2 million a year job as president of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the main industry lobbying group. Medicare boss Thomas Scully, who threatened to fire Medicare Chief Actuary Richard Foster if he reported how much the bill would actually cost, was negotiating for a new job as a pharmaceutical lobbyist as the bill was working through Congress.

The two frontrunning candidates present at the debate (Edwards and Clinton) both support some form of plan which would require all Americans to buy healthcare coverage - provided by a private insurer, and possibly subsidized by the federal government. In an open letter, Kucinich asks:
Is it appropriate for AARP to be sponsoring a Democratic Presidential debate on health care while excluding the one candidate who wants to dramatically change the system from which AARP profits mightily?

Kucinich was a co-sponsor of Bill H.R. 676, legislation that proposed the creation of a National Health Program that would provide comprehensive coverage for all Americans and prohibit private insurers from selling duplicate coverage. In today's political climate, it is of course unlikely that such legislation could get off the floor. The phrase "single-payer healthcare" has become the modern day equivalent of "communism", thanks to the concerted efforts of Republicans, private insurers, and big pharma. Even Senator Clinton was quick to reassure the Iowa debate audience that her plan was "NOT a single-payer system". Kucinich has little chance of becoming President, but his exclusion from the "debate" on healthcare is a sad example of the way in which progressive thought has become marginalized in the race for 2008.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Political Horserace

Over the past few days, I've been observing with some amusement the fallout from the Outremont by-election. A setback for the Liberals? Sure. The end of the world as Dion knows it? Oh most definitely, according to the grave assessment of the "pundits". Forgive me if you catch me stifling a yawn.
Christopher Flavelle at the Walrus takes a much more sanguine view of these events. He notes, quite correctly, that media coverage of politics has been reduced to little more than the manic run-on commentary of horse race announcers. Who's winning? Who's losing? Who's gaining? Who's not?

...It’s hard to fault anybody for looking at Monday’s Quebec by-elections like a horse race. Not only are by-elections all about winners and losers. Even better, these by-elections were a double-shot of excitement, a race within a race: the Conservatives win a seat, so Stephen Harper must be pulling ahead for the upcoming election; the Liberals lose a seat, so Stéphane Dion must be falling behind.

But what about the issues? Major media coverage has become almost completely devoid of this. In a sense, perhaps we have all become too accepting of political talking-points, mistaking them for actual policy. It's much more fun, it would seem, to speculate about political fortunes based on bold assumptions and the knowing winks of anonymous "insiders".
It’s worth remembering that Dion won the Liberal leadership, at least in part, because he was the guy who stubbornly insisted on talking about ideas — specifically, how to make Canada’s economy successful and sustainable at the same time. After winning the leadership, he kept busy, making speeches and releasing policy papers full of new policy proposals. Of course, you wouldn’t know it. The amount of time spent covering Dion’s ideas pales in comparison to the amount of time spent covering the state of his leadership. What are the broad strokes of Dion’s plan for regulating carbon emissions from Canada’s heavy industry? Who knows. But unnamed sources, predicting his imminent demise? Again? Now that’s news.
And what's this? A new poll, showing the Libs and the Cons are running neck and neck! Heading down the stretch....Gentlemen, place your bets!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Weekend Musings

Sorry for my brief blogging hiatus. Been busy with real life and all. Anyhoo, here are some of the things that have been running through my head today.

Rumors have been floating around that Hollywood is gearing up to make a Magnum, p.i. movie, and that actor Nicolas Cage has been offered the role of Thomas Magnum. I have serious issues with this for a number of reasons. First, do we actually need or want this movie? I grew up watching Magnum...in fact, it was one of my favourite shows. Interesting characters, a great car, and the kind of idyllic tropical life that we could only dream of. So why ruin all of that with a cheeseball remake? Unfortunately, transforming good '80's TV shows into bad modern-day movies seems to be a mistake that Hollywood is intent on repeating. As if Dukes of Hazzard wasn't bad enough. Second, Nicolas Cage??? Nicolas Cage??? Are you kidding me? This guy has made a career of playing morose, monotonal cynics. And the last time we saw him, he was sporting a flaming skull in the insufferably painful Ghost Rider. Maybe he needs the work. Third, Nicolas Cage??? I know, I hate to keep ragging on the guy. But aside from the fact that he bears no resemblance to Magnum, either in looks or in character, he's also, well, old. I mean, if you're going to cast an older actor in the role made famous by Tom Selleck, why not just cast Tom Selleck? The issues abound...

In other news, O.J. Simpson may have run afoul of the law once again. Las Vegas police have arrested a man for armed robbery of sports memorabilia. Simpson is being questioned for his involvement in the robbery and may face arrest. The former NFL star claims he is innocent, and has vowed to spend the rest of his life searching for "the real robber".

Update: The Juice is in jail.

If you thought that being a child with leukemia was bad enough, think again. China has ordered the recall of tainted leukemia drugs produced by the Shanghai Hualian Pharmaceutical Company. Honestly, what is it with these guys? According to the report in the G&M, the drugs methotrexate and cytarabine were contaminated with a third chemotherapeutic agent, vincristine. Some children receiving the drugs experienced adverse side effects from the contaminants, leading to the crackdown.

And finally, this gem (courtesy of the Hill Times)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

And In Other News...

...Brian Mulroney is still an asshole. More nauseating horseshit to come from this pompous corrupt windbag. Stay tuned, if you dare.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Nope, No Problems Here....


The emaciated young girl in the picture is a patient at the Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar City, Afghanistan. She is but one of many supposed beneficiaries of approximately $5 million contributed by Canada for supplies, food, and infrastructure at the hospital. If the girl seems a little underwhelmed, she can be forgiven. You see, no one at the Mirwais Hospital can confirm that any of Canada's aid money (given to the Red Cross via CIDA) has ever been received.

Video evidence collected by the Senlis Council has documented child starvation and a largely dysfunctional hospital, lacking in beds, equipment, medications and staff. According to Norine MacDonald, lead researcher for the Senlis Council: "We could not find evidence of CIDA's work or CIDA-funded work at the hospital. We were not able to find the maternity project, or evidence of the $5 million that CIDA says it has given".

Bev Oda, deftly picking up the reins of ineptitude from Josee Verner, has replied merely that she doesn't have those concerns "at all". Demonstrating that peculiar blend of incompetence and arrogance, she remains convinced that "progress" is being made. I don't mean to nitpick here, but wouldn't it be in the government's interest to ensure that Canadian money isn't being funneled directly into the pockets of corrupt administrators and Afghan officials? Don't we owe at least that much to the innocent victims of the NATO misadventure in Afghanistan?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What a Sorry Loss This Will Be


First Lady Laura Bush has informed Janette Howard that, sadly, she will be unable to attend the upcoming APEC summit due to a pinched nerve. However will the show go on?

Janette Howard is of course the wife of Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who will be hosting George W. Bush and other regional leaders at the APEC meeting in Sydney this September. Howard has for the past few years been living in the shadow of Tony Blair as one of Dubbya's international cadre of professional bootlickers. He gained some notoriety recently when he quite gratuitously offered up his thoughts on Barack Obama's presidential candidacy.
"If I were running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory not only for Obama but also for the Democrats."
On the domestic front, Howard is feeling some political heat. Richard Farmer (former advisor to PM Bob Hawke) has offered Howard some perspective...with a Canadian twist.
[In 2004] Minority government seemed comfortably within the Conservative grasp. So, there was plenty of egg on lots of faces, especially those of political journalists and pollsters, when the [Paul Martin] Liberals were returned to office, albeit with a decline in members, having gained 37 percent of the national vote. That six percentage point error, where the predicted vote of 31 per cent became 37 per cent, is the kind of boost John Howard needs.
Keep plugging away John, but don't think about the Canadian election of 1993 when a Conservative Government did the same thing and ended up with two members in a Parliament of 295!

Farmer's examples are a tad on the irrelevant side. Although both had to battle voter fatigue with their respective parties, neither Martin in '04 nor Campbell in '93 were in the same situation as Howard, who is currently vying for his own 5th term as PM. But isn't it interesting that the debacle of Kim Campbell's campaign trainwreck, fourteen years later, still manages to echo in halls of punditry down under?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Vick Innocent!! (Of Gambling)

Last month, when Michael Vick was brought up on federal charges related to dogfighting, he declared "I'm innocent". And by innocent, he meant guilty.
In July he stated that he "look[ed] forward to clearing [his] good name". In perhaps one of the least effective attempts at clearing one's name, Vick today plead guilty to financing a dogfighting ring and executing underperforming animals.

Strangely, though he readily admitted to running a criminal enterprise and murdering dogs by hanging or drowning them, he bristled at the suggestion that he might have gambled on the "sport".

"Vick did not gamble by placing side bets on any of the fights. Vick did not receive any of the proceeds of the purses that were won by Bad Newz Kennels"
Of course not. He wouldn't want to sully the good name of illegal dogfighting by doing something as tawdry as gambling. Hey, Vick may be a douchebag, a criminal, and an animal torturer...but he's no Pete Rose!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Of Jellybeans and Statesmanship

So I succumbed and decided to watch the closing comments of the leaders at the Montebello Summit. And, as I knew he would, Stephen Harper didn't fail to disappoint. If anything, he's consistent.

When all three leaders were asked by a reporter at Fox News to address the concerns of SPP critics about a progressive loss of sovereignty, George W. Bush and Felipe Calderon spoke at length in vague generalities and empty platitudes about the benefits of partnerships and strategic alliances. You know, the usual leader-speak.

But our own Dear Leader took the opportunity to deride the Opposition in public, and he did so in both English and in French. Apparently, the CEO of a jellybean manufacturer complained to him that regulations for the production of jellybeans differed in Canada, the USA an Mexico. Asked Harper, "Does the standardization of jellybeans pose a threat to our sovereignty? Maybe Mr. Dion thinks so...".

That the increasingly rotund Harper would choose junk food as the launching point for his partisan attack was mildly amusing. But watching our portly PM conduct himself in this manner, I wondered why he has such a strong affinity for the low road. The airing of domestic political squabbles on an international stage is an embarassing act of petty vindictiveness. Harper should be ashamed of himself. But he won't be.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Another Travesty at Guantanamo


A group of doctors have expressed outrage over the force-feeding of prisoners at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the physicians expressed concern that doctors were violating medical ethics at the behest of the military.
"In medicine, you can't force treatment on a person who doesn't give their voluntary informed consent," said Dr. Sondra Crosby of Boston University, one of the authors. "A military physician needs to be a physician first and a military officer second, in my opinion."
According to CNN, 20 of 23 detainees on a hunger strike were being forcibly fed by nasogastric tubes. The tubes (pictured above) are typically inserted into the nasal cavity and run down the esophagus, terminating just above the stomach. They are used routinely in hospitals to allow liquid feeds to be given to patients who cannot safely feed themselves (due to level of consciousness, mechanical swallowing difficulties etc.). How does the military prevent patients at Guantanamo from simply removing the tubes?
Last year, the military started strapping detainees in restraint chairs during tube feedings to prevent the prisoners from resisting or making themselves vomit.
This may be seen by some as a contentious issue, but in this country (and presumably in the US), the law is quite clear. Any patient who is deemed capable of understanding the consequences of their decision, has the right to refuse medical treatment of any kind - even if that treatment if life saving in nature. Presuming a patient is deemed competent to understand the issue, any physician who administers treatment to a patient against his or her will is guilty of assault, and can be prosecuted in that regard.
The inmates at Guantanamo may be prisoners (or "detainees"), but to their doctors they are patients just like anyone else, and should be accorded the same standard of care. Pressure from the military is no excuse for a breach in medical ethics.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Arresting Developments

OK, here are three of the weirder stories from the weekend.

1. The day after they gathered information about the alleged killing of a Coptic Christian by police, two members of a Toronto-based Christian rights group were arrested in Cairo.
"They are being targeted. They are trying to kill our branch in Egypt," said Nader Fawzy, the founder of the Middle East Christian Association (MECA). (source: The Toronto Star)

Bottom Line: I have no idea if Mr. Fawzy's allegations are true, but am I the only one who finds it weird that his Christian organization is called MECA?

2. A suspected drunk driver pulled over in Walkerton, ON tried to avoid arrest by drinking contact lens cleaning fluid and eating his socks.
As the officer prepared breath test equipment, the suspect grabbed a contact lens case in his car. He then drank the solution, ate one of his lenses and tried to eat parts of his shirt and socks. Police eventually had to try and undress the man to stop him eating all his clothes.
Must be the tainted water...

3. Think eating your socks is weird? Try having sex with a goat!
Charging papers say a witness saw 63-year-old Arthur Lawton having sex with a goat May 8th in a barn at Eatonville's Pioneer Farm Museum where he worked. Lawton said he was trying to milk the goat.
The strangest thing is that Lawton isn't the first person in Pierce County to take a fancy to our four-legged friends. In fact, he's not even the second. (Prior victims were a pit-bull and a horse). Ouch.

Monday, August 6, 2007

No Child Left Behind

If you've ever felt that no child is too young to be a partisan conservative political hack, then author Katharine DeBrecht has a series of books for you!

How about "Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed"











Too scary? Try "Help! Mom! The Ninth Circuit Nabbed The Nativity"











Too religious? Then surely "Help! Mom! Hollywood is In My Hamper" is right for your little boy or girl.












DeBrecht is a mother of three and a member of the South Carolina Federation of Republican Women. In an interview at intellectualconservative.com (yes, the oxymoron is glaring), she declares that "liberals are a rather unhappy lot" who "don't have a sense of humour". Apparently unfazed by the absurdity of that statement, she then goes on outline the raison d'etre of her books:
[Liberals] took prayer out of the schools and replaced it with metal detectors; they have taken self-responsibility out of society and replaced it with an entitlement mentality and lawyers; they have tried to erase the beauty of the traditional family and replace it with high divorce rates and out-of-wedlock births; they have attempted to crush the American Dream and replace it with Karl Marx.
No evidence necessary. It is so because...well...she says so. And to wingnuts like DeBrecht, it's about time children were made aware of these "truths".

In true bipartisan fashion, Jeremy Zilber has come up with a counter-offering of his own, entitled "Why Mommy is a Democrat".

In it, Zilber ensures that little kids understand

Democrats make sure everyone is treated fairly,just like Mommy does. Democrats make sure sick people are able to see a doctor,just like mommy does.
Democrats make sure everyone plays by the rules,just like Mommy does. Democrats make sure we all share our toys,just like Mommy does.
I'm not sure what the deal is with these people, but in my humble opinion, feeding young children this type of naked partisan political rhetoric represents a special type of perversion. Still, if your goal is to warp your child's mind at an early age, you could do worse.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bad Idea

In my estimation, American foreign policy over the years has been little more than a series of remarkably short-sighted marriages (and divorces) of convenience. But, like Liz Taylor, the US never seems to tire of trips to the altar, and never seems to learn the lessons of past relationships gone sour.

The latest courtship comes in the form of a reported deal to supply arms to Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbours (Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman) to the tune of 20 billion dollars. These arms would include advanced weapons such as satellite-guided bombs, and upgraded equipment for the Air Force and Navy.

The reason for such generosity is of course that George W Bush is becoming increasingly worried about the dominance of Iran in a destabilized region. That Bush himself is in large part the cause of the region's instability seems of little consequence to the blistering dunderheads who run the show. The solution, they have decided, is to dump more weapons into the other Gulf states. The Israelis, who are naturally alarmed by this prospect, are being assuaged by a 30.5 billion dollar arms package of their own. Keeping up with the Joneses and all.

The dangers of fomenting an arms race in the Middle East should be apparent to even the most inebriated of casual observers. To be sure, the Americans have tread on such dangerous ground before. It didn't work with these guys. Or with this guy. But hey, who's to say it won't work this time? After all, Iran is a menace and a threat to the Gulf, right?

As a columnist from the Malaysia Star observes,
More cruel dictators have happily and profitably supported US interests, with US assistance, than threatened them. Only when they become too independent, like Panama’s Noriega and Iraq’s Saddam, do they have to be “taken out”.
Would any US presidential contender end this policy of nurturing, in former president Harry Truman’s phrase, “our bastards”? That would make a real difference from existing policy, and energise US diplomacy
all-round.

Marriages of convenience may be bad ideas, but they have the advantage of being...um, convenient. At least in the short term. And so it's likely we will have to endure more such trips down the aisle. Weddings always make me cry.

Update: For another interesting look at lessons not learned, check out this post.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

WorldNutDaily and a Radiology Lesson














This is a CT scan of a relatively normal brain.
















This is a CT scan of a very abnormal brain.











And this is Tristan Emmanuel.

What lies betwixt his neo-Elvis mutton chop sideburns is anyone's guess. But he is determined to edu-ma-cate our neighbours to the south about the Communist horror that is Canada. Published today at the WorldNutDaily, is his premiere article - thoughtfully entitled "Freedom-snatching Commie-Commissions". The target of his ravings this time around is the Human Rights Commission, and its "assault" on the folks at Free Dominion. (The issue of content at FD has been discussed by Red Tory, Jeff Davidson, and BigCityLib)

Students of history will have heard of SMERSH. It was a forerunner of the KGB, a Communist Party commissariat under Josef Stalin. SMERSH was empowered to investigate and arrest conspirators and public critics of "the Party" – people living in the former Soviet Union didn't have constitutional freedoms. Well, Canada has its own commissariats, in the form of Human Rights Commissions. Some people refer to them as "kangaroo courts," but that is misleading because they really are dangerous. That's why I call them Commie-Commissions, and like SMERSH, they are empowered to investigate anyone who does not abide with the current stream of political correctness.

He's right of course. "Kangaroo court" (how most normal people refer to the Human Rights Commission) is totally misleading. Everyone knows we don't have kangaroos in Canada.

But whatever the reasons, the Commie-Commissions have determined that criticism of either homosexuals or Muslims is strictly off limits, even if the critiques are rooted in verifiable truth. And finally, and most importantly, remember that America is the last bastion of real political freedom left in the world. Most other Western democracies have bought into the hate-crimes propaganda, surrendering their constitutional liberties to those arrogant elites at the U.N. who want power and control and who are prepared to stuff political correctness down our throats even if that means muzzling free speech. Commie-Commissions are as dangerous as SMERSH – don't let them set foot in your country.
If not for freedom crusaders like Emmanuel, the Islamophobic, homophobic people at Free Dominion might be forced to surrender their "constitutional liberty" of bigotry to the "arrogant elites at the U.N." Eat that, Ban Ki-Moon!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Democrats to Blame for Iraq

So hope Republican strategists, according to a recent column by Gwynne Dyer published in the Georgia Straight. In his commentary, Dyer provides sobering insight into the machinations behind the current debate over American troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Why, despite continuing evidence of failure, overwhelming public opinion, ostensible Democratic 'solidarity', and high profile Republican 'defections', has the President been able to maintain his troop surge without serious challenge? According to Dyer, it has as much to do with domestic politics as it does with on-the-ground realities in Iraq.

With respect to the latter, Dyer feels that it might still be feasible to withdraw the 160,000 US soldiers from the region in a reasonably orderly manner, but the collateral loss of life would be nothing short of tragic.
It would still be possible to get the 160,000 American troops out of Iraq without scenes reminiscent of the U.S. retreat from the Chosin Reservoir in Korea (1950), let alone the British retreat from Kabul (1842)...
...The problem is the collaborators. Tens of thousands of people will probably be killed if they don't leave Iraq when the Americans do, from humble drivers and translators all the way up to senior political and military figures who are too closely identified with the U.S. occupation forces. But given the current state of American opinion about Arabs and terrorism, the United States will not welcome Iraqi refugees today in the same way that it took in Vietnamese refugees 30 years ago.
Fair enough. But more disturbing is the consideration that the status quo will be maintained because both Democrats and Republicans have conceded that troop withdrawal prior to the next Presidential election would be of no political benefit to either party.
From the Republican perspective:
All political attention in Washington is now fixed on the November 2008 election. That is already too close for a high-speed American withdrawal from Iraq to be forgotten before the voters go to the polls, so mainstream Republican opinion will back Bush's strategy down to 2009, even in the knowledge that it will ultimately fail. The alternative, an early withdrawal, is probably worse in terms of the election outcome in Congress. (I suspect that senior Republican strategists assume that the presidency is already lost.)
And from the Democratic perspective:
If the Democrats forced a troop withdrawal now, the Republicans would accuse them of "stabbing America in the back". If the pullout comes after they win the 2008 election, then the disaster will happen on their watch, and the fickle public will already have forgotten who really caused it. So–goes the prevailing logic in the Democratic camp–let's at least win the election before we get blamed for the mess.
So Bush's strategy is to "stay the course", endure whatever losses are incurred, and pass the blame onto the next President. And the Democrats seem happy to play along, if it improves their odds of securing the next election.
We can calculate that about 2,000 more American troops will die by early 2009 in the service of these political strategies
And God knows how many more Iraqis - if it even matters to American politicians anymore.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Impressive


Kudos to Stephen Harper, Stephane Dion, Dalton McGuinty and David Miller for attending the opening ceremonies of the new BAPS Hindu temple north of Toronto today. Aside from its obvious cultural significance, the temple is an impressive architectural accomplishment.

Amongst its highlights:
  • It is entirely hand built
  • Every stone, pillar and wall is hand-carved
  • It is built of Indian sandstone, Turkish limestone and Italian marble
  • It is built according to ancient Hindu architectural techniques (i.e. no steel frame)
  • Its $40 million cost was paid for entirely by private donations

In an era of glass and steel skyscrapers, it's nice to see such a stunning example of old-world craftsmanship and timeless architecture. I'll have to put it on my "To Visit" list.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Hypocrisy of the Right (What Else is New?)

So, two more bible-thumping loudmouthed Republican fatheads have been caught up in sex scandals. Yawn. Susie Bright has written a wonderful column about these hypocrites extraordinaires - check it out.

The big winners this time around?

1. Louisiana senator David Vitter (R). This family values moron found himself calling the DC Madam, and soliciting hookers in New Orleans, where he earned the nickname "Vitter the Shitter" from the local whores (use your imagination). Apparently, when not earning his public salary calling to impeach Bill Clinton for sexual improprieties, Vitter was busy diddling hookers while wearing a diaper.

In 2000, Vitter's wife Wendy had an interesting position on infidelity:
His wife, Wendy, was asked by the Newhouse reporter: If her husband were as unfaithful as Livingston or former President Bill Clinton, would she be as forgiving as Hillary Rodham Clinton?
"I'm a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary," Wendy Vitter told Newhouse News. "If he does something like that, I'm walking away with one thing, and it's not alimony, trust me."

Unsurprisingly, Wendy's tune has changed, and she has found it her heart to forgive Vitter his diaper-fetish transgressions.

2. Florida representative Bob Allen (R). This favourite son of the Christian Coalition offered to perform oral sex on a male undercover cop for $20 (a reasonable rate for this free market Republican). At least he had the decency to do his soliciting in the privacy of the men's bathroom of the Titusville park, rather than out by the swingset. In a remarkably poor choice of words, Allen complained that these charges had been unfairly "thrust upon [him]".

And where are the cries of outrage from the frothing loonies on the right?? Where are the calls for the heads of these two heathens?? Nowhere.

In fact, both Vitter and Allen have followed the path of the brave loyal Bushies ahead of them, and have ruled out resigning their positions. As Bright observes:
Vitter's defiance, to refuse resignation, is the default Bush strategy, the corporate-politics vamp. You refuse to take responsibility for anything, and deny the obvious. If they can't force the scepter out of your hand, you hold on for dear life, and keep cashing the checks. You simply write your own reality.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Shameless Birds of a Feather


Back when it was revealed that the Conservative Party was using a manual to obstruct and manipulate the work of parliamentary committees, I wondered to myself who else but the CPC could be so petty, vindictive and shameful in their conduct?

The answer: The Republican Party!

Turns out that the GOP has its own little manual of dirty tricks. Disingenuously entitled the "Presidential Advice Manual", this 103 page tome contains, among other things, tips on how to disrupt peaceful protests at Presidential speeches and events.
The document also recommends drowning out protesters or blocking their signs by using what it calls "rally squads." It states: "These squads should be instructed always to look for demonstrators. The rally squad's task is to use their signs and banners as shields between the demonstrators and the main press platform. If the demonstrators are yelling, rally squads can begin and lead supportive chants to drown out the protestors (USA!, USA!, USA!). As a last resort, security should remove the demonstrators from the event site."
The document offered advice on how to recruit members for such squads: "The rally squads can include, but are not limited to, college/young republican organizations, local athletic teams, and fraternities/sororities."

What amazes me is not that the CPC and the GOP use whatever means they can to gain advantage, but rather that they have the unmitigated gall to put their contempt into writing. Truly sad.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Senator Sam Brownback: Vegetative?


Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback is going campaigning with the late Terri Schiavo's brother this weekend in Iowa. Bobby Schindler (Shiavo's brother), you may recall, was among those lobbying for the government to intervene and prevent Schiavo's husband from removing her feeding tube after 15 years in a vegetative state following a severe anoxic brain injury.

Brownback, if it needs any clarification, is a right-wing nut.

He is the same genius that raised his hand in support of creationist theory at a candidates' debate. He told us without any sense of irony in a NY Times editorial that "People of faith should be rational, using the gift of reason that God has given us". He has called homosexuality "an abomination", and likened abortion to the Holocaust. Oh, and he accepted $42,000 from Jack Abramoff and his associates.

All of which makes me wonder if Brownback himself isn't persistently vegetative.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tagged

A few days ago, I was 'tagged' by Jay at the Sleveen Institute. I'm not sure where this whole tagging thing originated, and frankly I'm too lazy to spend the 5 minutes it would take to find out. So here are 8 random facts about yours truly.

1. I was born and raised near Toronto, but currently live in Vancouver.

2. I am a physician, and have spent so long as a student I barely know how to live otherwise.

3. I am most assuredly not rich, but have no objections to becoming so.

4. I blog pseudonymously since current or future patients may be reading, and my political views shouldn't interfere in the doctor-patient relationship.

5. I have one brother, who is 5 years younger than me, also a physician, and my best friend.

6. I am a "dog person", though I don't have any pets at the moment.

7. I had a life-threatening cancer diagnosed last year, but thanks to a bone marrow transplant I am recovering well (touch wood).

8. I despise chain letters.

Pursuant to #8, I have decided not to tag anyone else. If anyone has strong feelings about this, feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Brokedown Palace


Apparently, this little old lady needs some financial assistance to do some home repairs. Donations, anyone?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

SiCKO: A Brief Review

Over the weekend, I took the opportunity to see Michael Moore's new film, Sicko. Unless you've been living in a cave you will know by now that Sicko represents Moore's take on the American health care system. It is an indictment of "for-profit" healthcare and the many Americans it leaves without adequate coverage.

I've said it here before: I like Michael Moore. He is a gifted filmmaker and above all else, he knows how to make a compelling argument. On this front, Sicko does not disappoint. Moore himself is less visible in this film than he has been in some of his previous efforts. For the most part, he lets his featured subjects do the talking. And their stories are truly horrific. A man without health insurance is forced to choose which of two fingers to re-attach after an acccident with a saw. A couple is forced to sell their home to pay for medical expenses. A young mother watches her child die after an ambulance takes them to a hospital that is not approved by their insurance company. Insurance industry insiders reveal tactics used to deny claims. And the list goes on. These tales are heart-wrenching, and illustrate the significant fractures in the American healthcare system.

Moore goes farther, visiting hospitals in Canada, England and France and speaking with citizens of all three countries about the advantages of public healthcare. And in a final flourish of sensationalism, he takes a group of 9/11 volunteers with chronic illness to Cuba. The group are hospitalized, investigated and treated - gratis of course. Moore's detractors often point to such stunts as distortions of the truth. And they are likely correct. No hospital (in Cuba or anywhere else) would hospitalize foreign nationals for inpatient investigation of chronic illness, free of charge. And Moore's characterizations of healthcare systems in Canada, Britain and France are hardly comprehensive and clearly designed to illustrate their benefits rather than their flaws.

Moore makes no apologies for this (nor should he). As he rightly points out, the film is aimed at Americans who have been told for years the lie that public healthcare is without merit and akin to communism. And despite the liberties taken in the storytelling, the story itself is important. Sicko implores us to consider the reasons why the wealthiest country in the world seems so unwilling to provide comprehensive affordable health coverage for each of its citizens. We are confronted with the stark reality that when profit and healthcare collide, profit usually triumphs. In one of the most revealing but underdeveloped storylines, Moore plays White House tapes of a conversation between Richard Nixon and John Ehrlichman in 1971 that led to the HMO act of 1973.

President Nixon: “Say that I … I … I’d tell him I have doubts about it, but I think that it’s, uh, now let me ask you, now you give me your judgment. You know I’m not to keen on any of these damn medical programs.”

Ehrlichman: “This, uh, let me, let me tell you how I am …”

President Nixon: [Unclear.]

Ehrlichman: “This … this is a …”

President Nixon: “I don’t [unclear] …”

Ehrlichman: “… private enterprise one.”

President Nixon: “Well, that appeals to me.”

Ehrlichman: “Edgar Kaiser is running his Permanente deal for profit. And the reason that he can … the reason he can do it … I had Edgar Kaiser come in … talk to me about this and I went into it in some depth. All the incentives are toward less medical care, because …”

President Nixon: [Unclear.]

Ehrlichman: “… the less care they give them, the more money they make.”

President Nixon: “Fine.” [Unclear.]

Ehrlichman: [Unclear] “… and the incentives run the right way.”

President Nixon: “Not bad.”
It's hard not to be moved by Sicko. At times it's flamboyant and sensational. But its best moments are the quiet ones, the ones filled with the sad stories of people on the wrong end of America's capitalist dream.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Bush Commutes Scooter's Sentence


From CNN, the least surprising but most disappointing story of the day.

To paraphrase Jon Stewart, debate now rages between those who think the President will pardon Libby......and those who know he will.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Happy 140th, Canada!!

For your viewing pleasure, here is The Rant, possibly the best Canadian beer commercial ever.




Happy Canada Day!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Afghanistan: Let the Finger-Wagging Begin

Well, now that Stephen Harper has indicated that he wants "consensus" prior to a further extension of our mission in Afghanistan, opinions have been flying about what this actually means.

Some, like the Star's Thomas Walkom, feel that Harper's words are a tacit admission on his part that the mission is unpopular, generally unsuccessful, and that he will be unable to garner support to extend it beyond 2009. But a few have taken a different stance.

Take Andrew Coyne, for example. In his column in the National Post, he instead offers this interpretation of the PM's comments:
Read the last part of the Prime Minister's remarks: "I don't want to send people into a mission if the opposition is going to, at home, undercut the dangerous work that they are doing in the field." Translated: that's exactly what's happening now.
"The Taliban", Coyne informs us "read the Western press". Maybe so, but I doubt even the Taliban are depraved enough to read the fish-wrapping we call the National Post. In any case, we are told that the Prime Minister has offered the opposition parties the chance to "grow up". Or at the very least, to explain their rationale for desiring troop withdrawal at the end of the current mandate in 2009. Coyne himself is at a loss to understand troop withdrawal:
And for what purpose? To whose benefit? The Afghans? No, it is quite clear they want us there. The troops? No, they are equally adamant, in every interview I have ever seen: they want to be there. Our NATO partners? Obviously not. The only agenda served by the opposition's demands is ? the opposition's.
In his rambling list, he curiously leaves out one important group. Canadians. According to a Decima Research poll released on June 10th:
Only one in four (26%) Canadians feel that “Canada should be willing to extend our mission in Afghanistan beyond February 2009 if that is necessary to complete our goals there.” Fully 67% felt that “we need to do our best to accomplish progress in Afghanistan but that we must stick to that deadline and get our troops out.” This is the majority view in every region, among men and women, urban and rural voters, all income and every age group.

But hey, we're just the voting public. Why should Coyne or Harper care what we think?

Meanwhile over at that other journalistic wasteland, the Sun, Jordan Michael Smith at least takes the time to acknowledge that most Canadians want out of Afghanistan in 2009. But his advice to nearly 70% of his fellow citizens is to be "honest" with themselves, and admit that they are not "internationalists" but rather "isolationists". What the hell "internationalist" means is anyone's guess, but Smith assures us that it is the more noble of the two options. "Isolationists", you see, have no real interests in humanitarian causes. They seek only what is good for Canadians, and thus are "uncomfortable taking casualties in a foreign country with slow, hard-to-measure progress". (Presumably therefore humane "internationalists" such as Smith are A-OK with Canadian soldiers dying for immeasurably small gains). And so, in that time-honoured CPC tradition, he admonishes those who oppose him, accusing them of wanting only "to look after themselves" and of condemning Afghanistan to a "medieval theocracy" (as opposed to the beacon of democracy it's well on its way to becoming).

It's a pity that such drivel finds its way to print.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Conservatives Didn't Heed Warnings...

Better get used to hearing stories like this...

The Tories didn't heed warnings from senior federal officials that their planned firesale of federally owned buildings to the private sector could cost Ottawa up to $600 million dollars over 25 years. The government was advised by the Finance Department and the Privy Council Office to undertake a full risk analysis. But, in typical fashion, Canada's "new" government has decided that caution is for losers. Garth Turner has recently blogged about this:

For the record, Public Works minister Michael Fortier, who answers to no voters since he was appointed by Stephen Harper, wants to dispose of many of the 350 buildings taxpayers own across Canada. To do this, he hired two banks – Montreal and RBC – to do a feasibility study on the potential sale of 40 of them. For this, each bank was paid $100,000. The study concluded (not surprisingly) that buildings should be privatized, and the banks picked nine of the best office towers to market as a pilot project. These buildings are currently used to house federal civil servants, plus rent to some other tenants, and the suggestion was that they be leased back for terms of up to 25 years...
...Ultimately, Fortier accepted the banks’ recommendation, and triggered a second contract which gave these same banks the right to market the buildings. The banks will be paid out of the proceeds, expected to be $1.5 billion, on a commission basis. The amount of the commission is unknown. The terms of the potential lease-back are unknown. The amount of money the purchaser will make in profit is unknown, as are the new owner’s obligations in terms of leasehold improvements. In fact, it is impossible to know if this is an advantageous deal for the Canadian taxpayer, or a sweetheart deal for the buyer, or a kiss-off deal for the banks.


Transparency? Anyone? Bueller?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Canadians Devolving Into Creationists?


As I was browsing the internet today, I came across this interesting (and somewhat disturbing) Angus Reid poll. It explored Canadian attitudes toward creationist theory, in light of the recent openings of creationist "museums" in Kentucky and - surprise, surprise -Alberta. In addition, our very own Public Safety Minister, the Honourable Stockwell Day, has famously claimed that the earth is only about 6000 years old, and that there is scientific 'proof' that man and dinosaur co-existed.

Anyways, here are some of the poll results:

Which of these statements comes closest to your own point of view regarding the origin and development of human beings on earth?

Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years - 59%
God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years - 22%
Not sure - 19%



The Big Valley Creation Science Museum opened this month in Alberta. One of the museum’s displays suggests that dinosaurs and human beings co-existed on earth. Do you agree or disagree with this assertion?

Agree - 42%
Disagree - 37%
Not sure - 21%

So what to make of this? Clearly, a majority of Canadians (nearly 60%) support the Darwinian notion of evolution. Yet 42% of Canadians also agree with the preposterous idea that man and dinosaurs co-existed, outnumbering slightly those who disagree. Coexistence is one of the fundamental tenets of modern day creationist thinking, and displays to this effect are present in both the Alberta and the Kentucky creationist museums. According to Grant Lafleche of the St. Catharines Standard, even the pollsters at Angus Reid were perplexed by the apparent contradiction.

I have been pondering these numbers all day, and I must confess they are puzzling to me as well. I can only conclude that while most Canadians accept evolutionary theory, many are not well enough versed in it to understand that it precludes the coexistence of man and dinosaur. Or perhaps they are merely confused at the sight of intellectual dinosaurs like Stockwell Day roaming freely amongst normal, thinking human beings in Ottawa.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Letter From A Nut



In yet another of Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor's public humiliations, the Ottawa Citizen has obtained a letter written by O'Connor to former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld late last year.

The letter consists of little more than O'Connor fawning over his American counterpart, even as the disgraced Rumsfeld was in the process of having his ass handed to him by President Bush.
"You have helped transform the armed forces of the United States to meet the threats of the 21st Century. Your vision in recognizing and responding to these new threats has set the standard for forward-looking defence planning in an uncertain world," O'Connor wrote.
Forward-looking? Vision? Was O'Connor referring to the time Rumsfeld said this:
"We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead."
or this:
"We know where [Iraq's WMDs] are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
or this:
"It is unknowable how long that conflict [the war in Iraq] will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
or this:
"Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war."
or this:
"[Osama Bin Laden is] either alive and well or alive and not too well or not alive."

Gordon O'Connor is clearly either
a) a sycophant of the highest order
b) a colossal ignoramus
c) a and b

I wonder if O'Connor will receive a similar congratulatory note from Rumsfeld when Stephen Harper shuffles him off to the fortress of solitude currently occupied by Rona Ambrose?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Random Musings on the Big Apple

I just returned from a short vacation in New York City (the reason I hadn't posted in a few days). I was there primarily to visit a couple of good friends, but it was also my first real exposure to the Big Apple, so I had to take in some of the sights as well.

All I can really say is "wow". New York City is staggering in its scale. Everything is larger than life. It is the undisputed epicentre of mass commercialism and unfettered capitalism in North America. And yet despite its continual assault on the senses, New York exudes a certain atmosphere and charm that is impossible to ignore. Some random thoughts on the big city:


1. NYC has done a tremendous job preserving its classic architecture. Wonderful buildings from the 19th century and from the early 20th century can still be seen throughout Manhattan. In fact, many of these structures put modern steel & glass skyscrapers to shame with their intricate designs and attention to detail. This type of preservation of the past has largely been lost in major Canadian cities like Toronto and Vancouver, and its really a shame.

2. Times Square, like New York itself, has undergone a transformation over the years. Gone are the peep-shows and XXX theatres. Unfortunately, they have been replaced by garish neon and LCD screen towers advertising everything from Burger King to the Disney Corporation. Less seedy, but strangely no more attractive than before.

3. We took a 3 hour cruise around the island of Manhattan. Our tour guide was a self-proclaimed "born and bred New Yorker". He strolled around the deck of the ship, microphone in hand, and in that quintessential New York accent pointed out the various sights. He also felt the need to add in his own brand of social commentary. Himself a veteran, he was clearly proud of the war effort in Iraq, informing us that New Yorkers had "shed their share of blood" for their country, and beaming that Britons were standing "shoulder to shoulder" with them in this epic struggle. Later he became irate when describing the the underfunding of VA hospitals, shouting angrily into the mic, "You don't have the money?? Well you FIND the money, Goddammit!!". I found it curious that although he was acutely aware of the horrible human toll of war, he wasn't actually against the war in Iraq; he merely wanted more funding for better prosthetic limbs and such. Odd, that.

4. JFK is a nightmarishly busy airport, staffed by rude and generally unhelpful people. Avoid it at all costs.

5. NYC on the other hand, defied expectations. I found the people outgoing and quite friendly. Strangers are quick to engage you in conversation, and not shy with their opinions. The city was cleaner than I had expected, and I never felt threatened or unsafe. NYC has clearly worked hard to rid itself of its deservedly poor reputation of the 1970's and 1980's. For the most part, it has succeeded. It stands today as an engaging and entertaining city, and I can recommend it to anyone looking for an urban getaway.

p.s. Thanks to my good friends Stephen and Zahra for their gracious hospitality!