Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fragile Communications

It might not have made news over there, but things in Asia here are breaking down because of the undersea cables cut by the recent earthquake in Taiwan. I can access Google-based sites fun (surprise surprise) but any purely North American site is painfully slow. Businesses are apparently hurting here because they just can't communicate.

So for all the wonders of technology, it shows how dependent we are on just a few links. Cut those, and everything comes crashing down. . . .

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day, Hong Kong

Hong Kong continues to astound. Today is Christmas day. We woke up and went down for breakfast, where we were wished "Merry Christmas" by everyone. Indeed, this town does Christmas like nowhere I've ever seen. Every night they have fireworks. Everywhere you go people are singing Christmas Carols. Yesterday we saw a bagpipe troop, in full kilts, all Chinese, playing bagpipe Christmas music. There was a street party last night in Kowloon, and I've never seen so many people in my entire life in one place. Ever. EVER.

Every building is done up in Christmas lights. It's wonderful. Now, I don't buy in to the "war on Christmas" nonsense, and I think some sensitivity is good, but here, no one is afraid to say it.

However, I don't think the religious right would like it much. Christmas here is far more about Santa and far less about Baby Jesus (cf. Taladega Nights). It's just a fun festival that everyone can take part in. It's nice--there's such a sense of celebration in Hong Kong today and all this week.

But perhaps it's worth ending today's post on a more somber note. My sister and I visited the Stanley War Cemetery, where Canadians who died defending Hong Kong are buried. So many of them were 18, 19, 21. I leave you with this picture, of a young man who died, 65 years ago today, fighting to defend a people he likely never knew, nor never knew him.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Hong Kong

Wow. I'm in love love love with Hong Kong.

This picture is the view from just outside my hotel room (my room has the same view but there's glare from the window). Insane.

As the cab took us from the airport, my sister said, "I feel like I'm in the future somewhere. What on earth do asian tourists come to LA for?"

I've been here less than 24 hours and I'm already stunned by the city. First, it feels like an asian London to me--the street signs are the same as in the UK, the layout of the streets, the general infrastructure (save here it's modern, there it's sort of decrepit). The one difference? We searched for a good half hour for a place to sit and have a beer, to no avail. That is not a problem one ever has in the UK.

And then the mix--ultra modern luxury, side by side with cramped markets selling cheap trinkets and "copy watchy!" (as the knock-off Rolex guy called them). Glorious skyscrapers beside horrible 1950s dingy dirty squalid apartment blocks.

And boy, one sure feels like a minority here.

To all our readers: Happy Christmas to you and your families!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Browbeating Iranians

Last night on NPR, I briefly listened to a discussion between two individuals on Iran and their response to the US.

One commentator, obviously a right-wingnut, said that the average Iranian was thinking "why is our money going to fund extremists, to buy nuclear missiles, and to support our crazy leader, rather than help us on the street?"

What outright nonsense. (What the other guy said in a second). That is exactly how the American right thinks: Everyone in the world is by nature American, and thus react to the same stimuli in the same way. Ergo, if we invade, take out their leaders, they'll spontaneously rise up and create America, just with a different language and maybe eating [insert ethnic dish] rather than burgers.

The other, who was a former Ambassador (not sure to where), made the point: Think of it like an Iranian. This bully, with a different language, different culture, different religion, and with a history of undermining governments it doesn't like, is saying you have no right to high technology. You have no right to defend yourself, even though you have nuclear-armed and crazy Pakistan on one side, and 100,000 American troops on the other. You're an axis of evil, in cahoots with your old enemy Iraq and that wierdo nutjob Kim Jong Il over in DPRK. You aren't allowed to be a regional power.

What would your response be?

Come on. At the slightest slight by the Americans, we Canadians fly off the handle. And we are more or less the same, cuturally, religiously, linguistically. Same with Europeans.

American foreign policy is so often (under Bush): "Just behave like we think you should, remember you're inferior to us."

Not exactly the way to win over hearts and minds, is it?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Stupid Questions

Clearly the study of science--nay, not even the study of science, simply the acceptance of reality--is something people hate. Two recent gems:

First off, there are those people who were sentenced to death for spreading HIV in Libya, even though a study of the strains of HIV showed that the children were infected long before the nurses arrived in Libya.

And then, even better, from Slate magazine. Daniel Engber, who does Slate's "Explainer," is going through questions that he didn't answer. This one is wonderful:

Why do humans die so young? In biblical times, people lived for several hundred years; now living to 100 is considered a long life. What happened?

RIGHT. Cue Warren Kinsella, "The Flinstones is not a documentary." The Bible, that wonderful respository of fact. Honestly, anyone who believes the Bible is factual has no more rational basis for saying so than I have for saying that the Greek stories of Zeus or the Oddessy are actual factual accounts.

UPDATE: Going through the Slate article, there are even a lot of better, more stupid posts:

  • Could you tell me if there's been any kind of medical discovery in the last 30 years besides DNA.
  • Hi. How did the horse in the movie about dreams make it to not only survive but to win again? Was this movie true?
  • Are UFOs confirmed to be from other Alien Planets?
  • Working in my yard yesterday, I killed a gnat in my ear canal, where it had flown. I couldn't remove the body as my finger was too fat. What happens to it now?
  • yea i have my own 620 gang and i dont know how to run it to make not look like a little bitch gang joke it is just me and my friend how do i run it?

All I can say is: Wow.

Dumb People at Airport

This is beyond stupid. Apparently some woman at the airport put her baby in the x-ray machine.

She should be thrown in jail and her kid taken away not for child endangerment but simply because she's freakin' brain dead. (Aside: stupid people like her are allowed to marry and have kids; I'm not.)

Apparently she was an "inexperienced traveller."

I don't care if you've never been on a bloody airplane in your life--what kind of moron is so oblivious to the universe that it would make sense to put a baby in an XRAY machine?

The stupidity of people at airports, though, knows no bounds. How many times have you been stuck behind some fool who stands in line for security, and then, at the last second, realizes s/he has to take everything off and out of the pockets and then stands there flailing for ten minutes? And how many times have you been in line behind some woman who's covered in jewelry and accessories and fancy belts? (LA is particularly bad for that; there must be more accessories here per capita than any place on earth). I mean, who on earth doesn't understand airport security?

Honestly, people should have security passports. Once you've had fifteen stamps, earned when you pass through security quickly and without setting off the detector, you should get a special line.

And idiots who put their babies through security or don't realize that metal sets off the metal detector should never be allowed to fly again.

Separatist Bullshit

So here's a little gem from Duceppe:

"If there was a motion on Kyoto before the budget and Mr. Harper made it a confidence motion and the national assembly – which is the government of Quebec – expressed itself and said it is unacceptable, he will have to be held accountable.["]

Yes. It's the government of the Province of Quebec. But it has nothing at all to do with the Federal Parliament. Imagine the chaos if a Provincial legislature could "express itself" and thus bind all its federal MPs to vote that way?

Regular readers will know my contempt for provincial governments. These nonsensical little baronetcies, with less regard for Canada than their own electoral promises, do nothing more than rip us apart. The "Council of the Federation" is anything but. It should be called the "Council devoted to advancing the parochial interests of its members to the expense of the Federation and of each other."

Case in point: Danny Williams' little temper tantrums. Demanding the Flag be lowered until the Federal Government grant some concession (which the failure Martin gave).

The provinces should be put in their place. Canada is the unifying power in our state, not some idiot little province. Perhaps I'm just a good Ontarian--someone who believes that our Country comes first, and any sacrifice we make that hurts our province is fine because the country as a whole benefits.

And then you have Klein, Williams, and those idiots Boisclair and Duceppe. Small minded, foolish, and, in the end, treacherous.

Honestly, the Crown should start to exercise some control: The loyalty of any head of any provincial government should always be to Canada first. That should be the overriding test, because, as the Separation Reference points out, all provinces have obligations to the others.

Our national motto is "A Mari Usque Ad Mare"--"From Sea to Sea." It isn't "From the border of the east end of my province to the west end."

A long way of saying I'm over provincial politicians forgetting Canada.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Thousands dead in victory

The Onion got it spot on this time. The heading and very first sentence tells the whole story, from how we're not winning a thing, to the Bush admin's Orwellian gift for perverting language. Enjoy:

Thousands More Dead In Continuing Iraq Victory
America marks three and a half years of winning in Iraq,
and nearly 3,000 victory deaths

Statistics released by the Department Of Defense estimated that 2,937 U.S. troops and over 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died in the ongoing American military victory in Iraq.

Dion and Iggy

So apparently Dion has named Ignatieff as his deputy leader.

Interesting. Of course, it's sort of a play taken from Chretien's book, who made Paul Martin his de facto number two by making him Finance Minister after defeating him for the leadership of the Liberal Party.

I had sort of thought that Kennedy would be deputy leader, but given he doesn't have a seat in the Commons, that doesn't make much sense.

But now the question will be how much of the Opposition leadership is given to former leadership candidates, at the expense of some of the very talented current MPs? Carolyn Bennett comes to mind (though she had been a candidate), David McGuinty is a good guy to have around (not least to keep relations with Queen's Park good), and of course Bill Graham and Lucienne Robillard did a good job of holding down the fort. What about Irwin Cotler, Ralph Goodale? Mark Holland? Etc. Etc.

I think that he can leave the bottom four out as a matter of course (or give them critic positions)--they don't have legions of followers who could conspire in the manner of Paul Martin to bring Dion down. That said, Martha is a rising star and should be given something, not least because of her staying in the race so tenaciously. Giving Rae an important role would also help him shed the image of having a recent conversion to the Liberal party. The better roles need to go to people who have seats.

So exciting.

Some hon members: Oh! Oh!

Those that actually spend their time reading the Hansard (as opposed to, say, having a life) know that MPs, when not speaking, say one of two things: Either "Oh! Oh!" or "Hear! Hear!" which is apparently what the cat calls and cheers get distilled to by the stenographer.

But things must have gotten a little rowdy last week. For your pleasure:

Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Westmount—Ville-Marie, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the minority government continues to display false transparency. First, the Conservatives cut $1 billion from programs for Canadians without ever assessing the effectiveness or pertinence of these cuts and without assessing the programs. Now they are making further cuts, which the government tried to slip under the radar in the recently tabled economic and financial update, without saying a word about it.

Can the Prime Minister tell us why he hid the truth from all Canadians?

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

An hon. member: Calm down, you fools!

Friday, December 15, 2006

The US as a Christian Nation

Writing in the Post, Cal Thomas makes the following point:

Declaring America as special, or uniquely Christian, or more favored by God than, say, Canada, or Mexico, or even Iran, is a form of idolatry.

It also reflects an unbiblical view that God's Kingdom and the United States have a kind of "special relationship," the theological equivalent of the "special relationship" that has existed between the U.S. and Britain. A lot of Scripture has to be twisted to reach such a conclusion.

Only individuals can be Christian, not countries, and those who think otherwise are in danger of breaking the Commandment, "Thou shalt not have no [sic] other gods before me."

No kidding. I mean, the religious part of his argument notwithstanding ('cos it's bullshit), nothing drives me more crazy than people who intone that clearly, God has smiled upon the US and blessed it as God's Chosen Nation. (As a corrolary is the nonsense about how muslim congresman Keith Ellison swearing his oath on the Koran will undermine American civilization. Puh-lease.)

And if someone religious could inform me as to the objective facts that point to God favouring the US above all other nations, I'd be really happy.

Pundit Hair Watch aka Ok, Maybe Chantal's Not So Bad

Ok, so we've been harsh on Chantal, I won't speak for Dean, but my beefs have largely been because she's not agreeing with me on Dion, or the 'nation' debate, or on anything else coming out of Quebec. I think I've fallen into the trap of confusing 'separatist' with 'nationalist'. Chantal is the latter. Is that wrong? I don't know. Depends on how much I've had to drink. But to hear her on the CBC's At Issue panel last night, it's quite clear she's not a separatist. Her insights into the Quebec situation partially rehabilited her in my mind. Her hair is still not doing anything for me, but it's light years ahead of the disaster that is Andrew Coyne's. Don't get me started on his suit.

Chantal's points:
She used to think Boisclair was under-rated. Not anymore. Calling snowflake for the flake he is always gets points in my book.
Joining him in the over-rated camp? Duceppe. He grossly miscalculated in his 'nation' gambit, and his musings about confidence votes on the Afghan mission were loudly rejected by the Quebec punditry (but we know how much weight their opinions carry here!)

As for the latest poll out of Quebec, she pointed out that the Tories didn't so much lose support to the Liberals. They lost it to the Greens. If this trend exists outside of Quebec, the NDP is in big trouble.

Which brings us to what will likely be the least reported story of the day: News that the Liberals and Greens may work together in the next election. The Greens want a seat, any seat. The Liberals want to split the NDP vote, and regain lost seats. Seems like an odd fit, but consider the NDP and their lifeline to the Conservatives on the clean air bill. If Layton gives further backing to Harper, ala Budget of 2005, then we're faced with two clear choices: A Conservative environmental plan with NDP backing, or a Liberal-Green alternative. The Conservative plan is a joke, and by supporting it with marginal changes, the NDP have only tarnished themselves. The Liberals and Greens have the momentum and the advantage. Having dropped the environment ball in favour of an anti-war platform (that will, as Duceppe is about to realize, fail to energize voters), the NDP is going to hurt in the next election. I'm not entirely sad to see this happen. The NDP had so much potential to claim the spotlight in this House, and they have blown it.

So sorry Olivia, but I'd have to add your husband to the 'over-rated' list too.

Following God's Law in NJ, not THE Law

Apparently there are some who still have the belief that what's in the Bible trumps what the law says.

In NJ, the Legislature just passed a bill permitting civil unions granting all the same rights as marriage, after the NJ Supreme Court told the Legislature that it had to do something to grant same-sex couples the same rights as opposite couples, though it could call them marriage or civil union or whatever.

Well, that was a little much for one Republican, Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer, who voted against the bill, and said that the bill was an affront to the Bible, and that “this is one time that I cannot compromise my personal beliefs and faiths.”

I'm sure no one checked if he was wearing mixed fabric or had eaten shrimp or had asked if he was into stoning adulterers, as the Bible also requires.

Don't get me wrong, I think that only marriage is enough and that separate-but-equal sucks, but then, given the rabid homophobia that distinguishes this apparently-great Republic from the rest of the civilized world (gay marriage is banned in what, 45 or so states?), I'll take what we can get.

But this little Republican shows what's wrong with politics. What the Supreme Court says is the law is the law. It isn't the job of some mad Christian (or Muslim or Jew) to say that, no, God trumps that.

I believe that legislators take a vow to defend the Constitution. Well, he just broke it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

And we'll all feel gay when Johnny (Reb) comes marching home

Who knew that the South was a hotbed for being gay? LIsten carefully to the chorus.

Quebec's pundits are WRONG

I'm sorry. I'm tired of Quebec pundits. Because, really, they get it wrong.

Paul Wells (blessed be his name) gets it right today. He writes:

But why is it that, on the very existential questions that cut closest to the distinctive hearts of Quebecers, Quebec's homegrown pundit class is so consistently wildly wrong about the reactions of ordinary Quebecers?

No kidding. As my brother Mike pointed out, certain pundits have been making a ponderous although somewhat zig-zagging evasive maneuver.

And, as our beloved Paul once earlier observed, the elites are wrong. The Quebec pundits (Chantal . . . .) are wrong.

The Liberal party is back as the Federalist option in Quebec. The Tories, given their behaviour this last year, are out. Dion is a good standard bearer.

We will triumph, the chattering nabobs of Quebec notwithstanding.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Devil Food is Turning Our Kids into Homosexuals

I'm not kidding. This is the actual title of a column by some right winger. Apparently, "when you eat or drink a lot of soy stuff, you're also getting substantial quantities of estrogens." He continues:

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!)

Who knew?! I used to think that tofu was bland, flavourless, had a tendency to break up in my stirfrys, and was sort of rubbery and icky.

Now--well, let's make sure everyone eats more soy, particularly pregnant mothers!

Get Rid of the Bad Liberals

Canadian Cynic makes a good point:

Case in point: the recent national vote on same-sex marriage, during which (despite that vote being an utter waste of time and doomed to failure) 13 Liberals actually voted to re-open the debate. . . . [T]here comes a point when progressives should be getting really freakin' tired of strategically having to support Liberal candidates who act like right-wing wankers.In cases like that, I think it's incumbent on progressives to send a message -- there's a limit to our patience and accommodation. If closet conservatives are caught hanging out in the Liberal party, they should be outed and punished, even if it means some short-term pain.

I agree. The Liberal party is a big tent, but there should be a limit. There should be some basic ideological standards that we require our candidates and MPs to adhere to.

The Liberal Party is the party that brough universal health care and equalization, that decriminalized homosexuality, that brought in the Charter which led to the glorious renaissance in our equality laws, that stopped the Tory attempt to ban abortion, which brought in SSM, the Clarity Act, and which has stood strong against separatism. It is the party of MacKenzie King, of Pearson, of Trudeau.

There simply is no place in the party for people who don't adhere to some basic concepts of social justice and of national unity.

There are plenty of loathesome people currently in the party: Paul Szabo, Dan McTeague spring quickly to mind. Read their speeches on Same Sex Marriage--they sound like Tories. Well, time for them to put their money where their ideas are: Dion should refuse to sign the nomination papers for anyone who does not buy into the Charter and to the Liberal idea of the Just Society. Dion says he wants more women candidates. This will give him a good excuse to install some more.

Sure, the vote last week was one of conscience: but sometimes following your conscience has consequences. This should be one of them.

Happily, in other good news, the Hill Times reports:

Liberal MP Jean Lapierre (Outremont, Que.), however, told The Toronto Star last week that he would not run again.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

What the Court decided

One person, in response to this post, made the rather incorrect comment that

In other words, the court refused to find a right to marriage for gay couples in the Charter. So stop claiming otherwise.

Such wonderful semantic nonsense. First, the court no more "refused to find a right to marriage for gay couples" than it "refused to find a right to make ill-informed comments based on a complete failure to understand the issues," or than it "refused to find a right to eat cabbage in the comfort of one's own home."

The Court declined to answer the question. To wit:

The government has stated its intention to address the issue of same-sex marriage by introducing legislation regardless of our opinion on this question. The parties to previous litigation have relied upon the finality of their judgments and have acquired rights which in our view are entitled to protection. Finally, an answer to Question 4 would not only fail to ensure uniformity of the law, but might undermine it. These circumstances, weighed against the hypothetical benefit Parliament might derive from an answer, convince the Court that it should exercise its discretion not to answer Question 4.

Read the opinion. Courts refuse to answer questions all the time. When the Supreme Court of Canada or of the US doesn't take a case for review, it's not denying it or however you want to phrase it. It's not answering the question one way or the other.

But let's put it this way: As the law stands, the Courts of Appeal for Ontario, BC, and Quebec--the highest courts in those provinces--have declared that gay marriage is required by the Charter. The trial courts in every province and territory but NWT, Nunavut, PEI, and Alberta have said the same, and the Government did not appeal. Until the Government appeals those to the Supreme Court, the law is crystal clear and those decisions stand. Many, many provincial Courts of Appeal decide cases that set precedent that never get appealed; just b/c the Supreme Court hasn't spoken on the issue doesn't make it any less binding.

And please, does anyone who's not smoking tar sands in Red Deer actually think that the Supreme Court, if faced with the question, would not affirm Ontario, BC, and Quebec?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Note to those who are publishing comments anonymously

We're not fans, but also realize that some people don't have Blogger accounts. A lot of the comments haven't been bad, so for the most part, we let them through. But: could you do something to distinguish yourselves? Because some of the anonymous posters seem to be intelligent, thoughtful, and decent people. And some appear to be right wing conservatives who don't understand the law or the constitution and probably have never met a minority, but are happy to comment away in their vapid inability to comprehend anything.

So, I dunno--could you at least give yourselves initials or something at the bottom, so we can tell who's who?

Some comic relief

Greetings from Utah, where I'm bringing Liberal Homo Foreign Athiest Heathenism to the Mormons (and skiing!)

Since we've been a little serious, we thought you might appreciate this little humourous interlude (hat tip to my sister):

Harper's claim to fame

Chantal writes today:

With same-sex marriage on the books since 2005, the debate had moved on to a more fundamental terrain: This week, Harper became the first post-war Prime
Minister to ask the Commons to consider taking away the rights of a Canadian minority.

That he failed to garner sufficient support to press on with the plan does not mitigate the fact that he was willing to ask.

No kidding. I hope the Tories are proud today.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

123 to 175


A few Tories--Cabinet level Tories--went against the motion. A few Liberals--and not many--went for the motion.

Now, let us pray that this is the end of it--both the general debate about our rights, and also the use of minority rights as a political football to score points with one's "base."

Same Sex Question Period

The Government has lost it.

Stronach: "Can the Government articulate the harm to Canadian society of gay marriage?"

Government: "We're having a free vote and that's what matters."

Stronach: "Will this be the last time?"

Government: "We're having a free vote."

Hedy Fry (who, suddenly, I respsect): "Given the government has no problem breaking its promises on income trusts, on appointed senators, on crossing the floor, why is it bringing this motion which clearly violates the Charter?"

Government: "We're having a free vote and that's what matters."

Hedy Fry: "Given the minister of public works has said he sees no societal harm in gay marriage, could the PM please share with the minister and this House what these harms are?"

Government: "We're having a free vote."

First: It's sort of pleasing that at least the Government (though not some backbenchers, who were embarassing in their speeches) isn't falling back on the old "it hurts families." Because, of course, it doesn't. Asked every day by Stronach to articulate the harm, the Government hasn't. That, at least, is a good thing.

But: They can't answer whether this is it. They can't say that they won't try again. We abuse the Bloc for playing the "If at first you don't win a referrendum, try, try again." Doesn't the same thing happen here?

At the end of the day, I'm not worried. It's going to fail. Even if it passes, it's so patently unconstitutional, on so many levels, that the Supreme Court won't tolerate it for an instant.

And Harper knows exactly what will happen if he uses the Notwithstanding Clause. He would basically be turning the Mace over to Dion to get beaten over the head with.

At the same time, it's still a little depressing to hear one's value to society being debated in any sort of serious manner.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Same Sex Marriage

Why is it that it's the old, white men who are anti-gay marriage?

Josee Verner--awesome speech, defying her party and opposing. Bravo Bill Graham--excellent speech, same with Real Menard.

And who is this tool, Rob Bruinooge, who's saying that the whipping of the BQ and the NDP violates the Charter? Oh, yes, because disallowing gay marriage is such a protected Charter value. But come on--the Liberals are not whipping, and does anyone think that any but one or two BQ and NDP MPs would vote for the motion.

Mike texted me earlier today that we should pass a law banning the use of one's familiarity or friendship with gays against a charge of bigotry. I agree. I also think there should be a law against those who preach family and christianity. Tired, tedious, and unproven arguments.

And, Dean Del Mastro, stop with the stupid slippery slope arguments. Those are boring. And childish.

Lazy Republican Excuses

As we know, the current Congress sat for fewer days than the "Do Nothing Congress" of 1948--a full 7 days less. The Democrats have served notice that this is going to change--that Congress will actually sit enough to get things done--supply bills passed, oversight, etc.

This, of course, doesn't suit the lazy Republicans one bit. But here's the excuse they offer:

"Keeping us up here eats away at families," said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on Thursdays and returns to Washington on Tuesdays. "Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families -- that's what this says."

What a load of nonsense. This lazy GOP from Georgia (hardly a long flight) pretends he can be a congressman with one full day in Washington? And the Democrats are doing this because they don't care about families?

First: When Kingston signed up to be a Congressman, he knew the deal and knew it would mean a lot of time in Washington. If he wants to spend more time in Georgia, he should have been a Georgia State Sentaor or peach picker or something.

Second, and more importantly: Do you want to talk about hard on families, Mr. Republican? How about families without health insurance? How about families who are paid at that pathetic minimum wage that the GOP refused to raise? How about families with kids in that useless war which they didn't bother to exercise any oversight whatsoever? How about the tens of thousands of gay families they refuse to help?

Don't whine, Mr. Congressman, that working hard hurts your family, because your party has done nothing to help families, anywhere.

SS Conventional Wisdom

In the face of a new Leger polling showing a 9% rise in Liberal support among Quebecers, Paul Wells comments:

A few columnists today (no names, no names) began trying to turn around the ocean liners of their pensée. Better speed up!..

He won't name names, but we will. Witness the good ship Chantal making a ponderous although somewhat zig-zagging evasive maneuver

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Brokeback Steve

Awesome. From Canadian Cynic.

Globe comments by idiots

Sometimes reading the comments to the Globe made by readers makes me despair. Take, on SSM, this wonderful gem:

Bob McDonald from Canada writes: 12,000 Canadian gays have married. That's 24,000 people OR 0.0008 % of the population. WHO CARES!!!!!

I'm going to just let that one lie. Because he's 1/30 millionth of the population--who care what happens to him?

But sometimes it's depressing to see just how many morons (who can't spell) are out there. I always think of the Globe as highbrow enough to leave the stupid reading the Sun.

Cynical on Same Sex Marriage

This is even worse. Apparently they're going to limit debate to a few hours, to "get it over with" so that they can move on, according to the Tory House Leader. Not only, then, do they know that the motion is going to fail, but the want to make it fail as quietly as possible.

And they wrap themselves in the "we made a promise" excuse. Stronach attacked them today: "Does the Prime Minister believe that same-sex marriage has in any way had a negative impact on our society or on traditional marriage, and if so, could he explain how?" The only response was "We made a promise." (They made promises about income trusts, too.)

It's ridiculous. A quick, prefunctory debate on fundamental rights just so that the Tories can throw a bone to their hard right supporters and say they kept a promise.

Does anyone think the right-wingers are that stupid? They all know that the Gov isn't really serious about SSM; they know that they're making this motion reluctantly.

We saw down here the disillusionment of evangelicals who realized that deep down, the Republicans think they're stupid. Harper's making the same mistake here.

That said, of course, where else will they go? All American politians have to talk about religion and how they love Jesus, so an evangelical can in some good conscience vote Democrat. Not so in Canada. The only party full of nutjobs (not that the Libs don't have a few) is the Tories.

Layton's a graceless jerk

Everyone else was gracious to Dion when he arrived in the Commons:

Harper: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating the new Leader of the Opposition on his election as leader of his party, a victory that I thought was well earned. I have been a resident of Stornoway myself. I hope he enjoys Stornoway and I hope he is happy there for a very long time. [Incidentally, that was the way Chretien used to welcome new Leaders of the Opposition.]

Duceppe: Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to congratulate the new leader of the Liberal Party, who won a decisive victory on the weekend after running a good campaign. Our visions differ as to the future of Quebec, but the debate will only be clearer as a result.

Duceppe is particularly astonishing to me, given just how opposed they are.

And then Layton comes along.

Layton: Mr. Speaker, Canadians have learned to expect only one thing from ministers of the environment, whether they be current or former, and that is betrayal, because no matter which of them were in power, pollution continued to go up.

What a jerk--especially given he's praised Dion in the past.

The best part is, of course, he promptly made a fool of himself with his big ass comment. Which is exactly what he is.

The stupid NDP can spend their lives bitching about everything and sitting atop the moral highground because they never have to govern. They'll never be faced with the difficulty of having to impliment policies, of having to balance priorities. They, and the Bloc with them, can promise perfect justice, perfect environment, low taxes, strong military, and a balanced budget, and a pony for every Canadian to boot--because all they'll ever be are promises that they'll never have to impliment.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Pundits are wrong--again

What was all that nonsense about the Liberals not being able to win with Dion?

Already, those that claim that are being proven wrong. The Liberals got a jump in the polls from Dion--of six points! And on the Quebec front:

And in a reaction that defies the conventional wisdom of Quebec pundits, 62 per cent of respondents in the province said that Mr. Dion was a good choice for the Liberals, with only 29 per cent saying he was a bad choice. The approval of the Liberals' pick was higher in Quebec than in the rest of the country, where 55 per cent liked the choice.

We'll never have the separatist vote, so why worry about it? What we want to do is get all the federalist vote on our side and not on the Tories. Having a strong federalist is the key to doing that. And that's going to sell well in the rest of the country--no one can ever accuse Dion of pandering to Quebec.

NDP environmental policy

"No more subsidies for Big Ass!"

-The Member for Toronto-Danforth

"Mr. Speaker, I promise to get to the bottom of it"
-The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister

anti-Dion hysteria

While expected, the negative talk coming out of the other parties is ridiculous.

The Bloc is actually arguing that the Liberals picked a francophone leader from Quebec on purpose, so as to beat up the province while claiming it's not anti-Quebecois.

The NDP is raising the complaint that Dion didn't actually get much done on Kyoto while he was minister of the environment. A valid point, one I've often wondered about as well. But I'd suggest that a simple answer to that critique is to remember who was at the head of the cabinet table when Kyoto obligations were being neglected. If I had to pick between Dion doing nothing, or Dion arguing in favour of meeting Kyoto targets, and Martin ignoring him for fear of losing votes or a simple inability to make a decision, I'd bet on Martin's dithering any day. But the NDP's general line of attack seems to be that they can place all past Liberal failings on Dion's lap, simply because he was at the cabinet table. It's a fine strategy, but with Dion, I don't think that's going to find much resonance with the public.

Finally, fears are being raised by disaffected Liberals, saying that Dion will lead the Liberals to devastation in Alberta and Quebec. Firstly, the Clarity Act was enormously popular in Alberta, and Dion's arguable #2, Kennedy, has developed a significant network there, as evidenced by his delegate votes. It's not hopeless for them. Hey, if Harper can achieve a breakthrough in Quebec, I think Dion can pull off the reverse with Alberta. As for Quebec, well, Dion was re-elected easily in his own riding during the last election, and after the Clarity Act was passed, the Liberals got their highest vote in years, reducing the Bloc to near insignificance (no coincidence that Bouchard retired from politics shortly afterwards). Preliminary polls coming out of Quebec seem to support the notion that Dion as leader is far from being a slap at Quebec, but quite the opposite.

Conventional wisdom was wrong. Conventional wisdom will continue to be wrong.

And don't get me started on the 'pundits'. That's for a whole other post.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The new Rat Pack

Does anyone else think it's damn fantastic that we have the possibility of a new Rat Pack?

The three candidates who campaigned on ideas: Dion, Kennedy, and Findlay.

Imagine them as the centre of of the opposition? Breathtaking. The centre of the Government? Oh my.

Much like you heard it here first on Dion, you heard about the new Rat Pack here.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dionistas rejoice!

To paraphrase our original posting back in January, why is nobody talking about how we were first to talk about Dion?

It was our first post to be noticed by our blog idol, Paul Wells and he credited us as the original Dionistas, and Andrew Coyne noted that the original blogs to endorse Dion were him, Wells, Colby Cosh, and us, so it's so exciting to see your candidate move from fourth to the final ballot. Ok, so maybe we're bragging just a bit.

Thrilling convention, absolutely thrilling, as candidates crossed the floor (Martha, we love you), and the delegates debated. We would vote against a one member/one vote system just for this reason. The CBC's coverage was great too. To see Boolinda in Black, John Manley, Rex Murphy and Rick Mercer talking in panel, with Andrew Coyne and Chantal Hebert on remote was enough to make these politics junkies absolute ecstatic.

And Chretien's speech was fantastic. The man can still stump. He connected all previous leaders into a Liberal continuum, pointed out their landmark achievements, including the No to the Iraq war (sorry Iggy). The olive branches to Paul Martin were remarkable. First was Chretien's comment that he was a delegate at Pearson's convention, but voted for Paul Martin Sr. Next, he credited Martin Jr. with the deficit slaying. His partisan attacks on Harper were classic Chretien, street fighter who takes no prisoner. As John Manley remarked, had he given that speech on Friday night, he would be voted leader today.

Anyway, an absolutely thrilling race. It's not over yet (10 min), but the final result is all over the Ignatieff camp's faces.

Some days, the man who fights the good fight, and does the hard thankless work, in the face of doubts, dismissals and enormous competition,...some days, like today, that man wins.

It's a good day, for Liberals and for Canada.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Three-tier marriage??

What nonsense are the Tories up to? Paul Wells reports:

Notice of government motion:

“That this House call on the government to introduce legislation to restore the traditional definition of marriage without affecting civil unions and while respecting existing same-sex marriages.”

Now--I thought that the motion was going to be to reopen debate on the issue. Not one to open up debate to create not one, not two, but three levels of marriage.

What he's suggesting is we have these three levels: First, there's normal, opposite-sex marriage. First tier. Then, there will be the left-over legacy gay marriages. Second tier. And then the Third Tier: All those homos who couldn't get through the door fast enough in the narrow window offered by the Liberals and slammed shut by the Tories. The ones who can have a civil union, but not marriage.

In what universe do the Tories think that that would be constitutional? I mean, unequal treatment is bad enough, but doing it in two different ways? The mind boggles.

It's going to fail, but this shows you how great the Tories' understanding of the Constitution is.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A study in contrasts

Who sould you rather have representing you? One is at home, the other perfectly awkward. . .

Woah Woah Woah!

What is this heresy? Apparently, before the National Assembly of Mali, the GG made this little pronouncement:

Good morning and thank you for the honour you do me in allowing me the opportunity to speak to the National Assembly of Mali.

I am especially touched knowing that Nelson Mandela is the only other head of State having been given the privilege of addressing this august assembly.

I'm sorry. I adore the GG--the person and the office. But claiming she is head of state is slightly intolerable. She isn't. She's the Sovereign's representative. We are still a monarchy.

Don't get me wrong--I would love for us to sever the ties to the Windsors, provided that our monarchy is maintained. Make it on an elective or appointive basis--simply replace the current Sovereign with the GG.

We are one of the oldest continually sovereign countries in the world, and part of our stability is the Crown. I would prefer the Crown of Canada be worn by a Canadian.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ok, so now what?

The politics geek in me is thrilled. Parliamentary maneuvering, cunning parries, surprise statements, dominoes rippling as the shockwaves emanate and alter all political calculations. And then there's the shocked headlines and pundits galore, weighing in on every angle. Heaven!
Harper has improved his position in Quebec, cut off the Bloc, bought himself breathing room in the House, and given the federal Liberals a huge break ahead of the leadership convention.

But then the reality sinks in. He said what? Harper may have avoided an awkward moment in the House, but he has just created a far larger problem to be dealt with in the future. The precedent has been set, the door has been opened, the nation has been recognized, and Canada is lesser as a result. Maybe it always was this way, and he has finally just called it for what it is. Call me idealistic (and certainly call me cynical now), but I figured we could try a little bit harder before we gave it all away and packed it in.

Tactical victory, strategic defeat.

Warren Kinsella quite eloquently answers the question in this posting's title. Of note is the "economy takes a shit-kicking". Hadn't thought of that. But thinking ahead doesn't seem to be the name of the game these days.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bloc and a Hard Place (again)

This from Paul Wells is going to cause a problem. Apparently the Bloc is going to introduce a motion: "Que cette Chambre reconnaisse que les Québécoises et les Québécois forment une nation." --That this House recognize that the women and men of Quebec form a nation.

These sorts of things are purely political ploys--because now, if the motion passes, it will be announced that yes, as a Nation, Quebec can leave Canada, and if it fails, well, the Bloc will have all sorts of ammo against Canada.

My suggestion, though: The other parties have enough votes to amend the resolution (as far as I understand procedure). Amend the resolution to read:

Que cette Chambre reconnaisse que les Québécoises et les Québécois, ensemble avec les gens de tous les autres provinces, forment une nation.

Trans: That this House recognize that the women and men of Quebec, together the people of all the other provinces, form a nation.

Also, can I propose we have a change in the rules of the House? To stop these stupid symbolic things, the only resolutions or motions or whatever that should be allowed are those that involve:

1. The expenditure or raising or other use of money.

2. The modification, passing, or repeal of any law, regulation, schedule (or anything similar) or the use of the Notwithstanding Clause.

3. The declaration of a state of war, emergency, or peace.

4. The granting of honourary citizenship to someone.

What should categorically not be allowed is the wasting of everyone's time with motions like "Quebec is a nation" or "Canada condemns the _____ that happened ____ years ago in Outer Kraplakistan." [The latter not because the thing is not condemnation-worth, but simply that the House declaring something is meaningless, and, worse, interfere with the Cabinet's conduct of foreign relations.]

Treating foreigners like they're not human

I've been thinking about this for a while, but this video has really crystalized things for me.

Sometimes, I feel like a major problem with American exceptionalism is that it leads to feeling like other people, well, just aren't people.

I've lamented before that often we say "America is the best" but can't quantify how it is. I've heard that America is more "free" than anywhere else in the world, without explaining how it's more free than, say, Canada or Britain or the Netherlands.

And there often seems to be this presumption that because it's America that's doing it, it's inherently good. Think about how Dubya couldn't respond to the questions saying that if he could re-define the Geneva conventions, couldn't other, less savoury nations? He basically said, well, the US would only do it in good ways.

Add to that the fact that Americans just don't get out of town that much, and don't tend to know much about the world (our readership, of course, excluded) and I think you have a problem. Because when you don't know about foreigners, but know that you're better than them, it leads to a bad situation.

Look at the lack of outrage (apart from among the liberal left of the cities) at Guantanamo.

Look at the lack of worry about the detainee bills--they're foreign, they're different, they're probably bad, so why afford them the same rights we get?

Look at the fact the torture bill sailed through Congress and Dems were afraid to oppose because their constitutents would get mad: Well, it doesn't matter, because they're foreign and different and probably bad, so why treat them the way we want to treat ourselves?

Look at Abu Ghraib--I simply have no concept of how anyone could do that to people, unless they didn't think that they actually were people. Who do you know could scare their fellow humans with dogs? Cover them in excrement? Make them pile up naked and simulate sex? Do mock executions?

What human being would drive a car and make kids run for water (keep in mind Iraq doesn't have a constant water supply in most cities)--kids, for Christ's sake--as sport? Only people who don't think of those kids as people.

The Nazis did what they did because nongermans were less than Germans.

Is history repeating itself?

Monday, November 20, 2006

The wisdom of Solomon

Paul Wells has quite a long excerpt from an interview between Evan Solomon and Iggy. Where Iggy looks more and more the fool. First:

Solomon: Stéphane Dion was the author of the Clarity Act. He said that was the best way to fight the separatists, not reopening a constitutional debate like Michael Ignatieff wants to do. How would you respond?

Ignatieff: I don't want to reignite a constitutional debate. He's putting words in my mouth that I've never expressed. What I've said is - what I've said is, and it's a fact that Stéphane has to acknowledge and Bob Rae has to acknowledge - we all have to acknowledge - Quebec has not signed our constitution. Until they've signed, the constitutional architecture of our country is not complete. That's not a fact I made up. That's a fact that's been present in our national life since 1982.

First off, Dion is right. The point is to say to separatists: You take it or you leave it. And if you're leaving, you leave, not with some weasily deceptive questions. An end to blackmail. Further, "the constitutional architecture . . . is not complete." Bullshit. Aboslute bullshit. First, all but one of the MPs from Quebec voted for the Constitution. Just because some little provincial despot presiding over provincial powers didn't endorse the Federal constitution doesn't mean that the constitutional "architecture" is not complete (and who, other than an academic, would phrase things that way? Sure, it might look good in a paper to talk about constitutional structures and keystones and flying buttresses, but in the real world, it's just nonsense. To paraphrase Dion, Canada works better in practice than on paper. It's worked just fine since 1982, and our current Golden Age has happened even if the document isn't Iggy's perfect document.


Ignatieff: I go to small rooms in Saskatoon, I go to small rooms in Grand Prairie, Alberta, I go to small rooms in Alberta, I go to small rooms in Nova Scotia, and I'm asked this question and I talk about it. Never underestimate the good faith, the warm-heartedness, the generosity, the openness of the Canadian people, the willingness of Canadians to make our federation work and find ways -

Solomon: More generous than they were during the Meech Lake Accord?

Ignatieff: Never underestimate the Canadian people. Never underestimate their generosity. Never underestimate their openheartedness. Never underestimate their political courage. Remember one thing here. I was at the '68 convention where Trudeau was choosen as our leader. There wasn't a person in that room who if you'd asked them in '68 would have said that by 1982, we would have a repatriated Canadian Constitution with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The thing about politics is what seems completely impossible at one moment becomes possible later on, in conditions which we can't predict. And one of the reasons it becomes possible is we're a great people.

Such nonsense. First, he's doing his small rooms thing. As my blogging partner in crime has pointed out, what exactly does this mean? And second: "Never underestimate the Canadian people." WTF? That entire paragraph is nonsense. We weren't so "generous" during Meech and during Charlottown. My idea of national generousity certainly doesn't mean compromising the integrity of my country. It doesn't mean bowing and scraping to a few separatist traitors who harbour resentment for every wrong allegely visted upon them by virtue of their place in the Canadian nation.

And hearing some guy who's been out of the country for 30 years give a lecture on the Canadian people is also nonsense.

And then: He can't even answer the "what if Alberta says it's a nation?" question, which I think is the very logical extension of his nonsensical position on national unity.

Ignatieff: Let's, let's remember what we, what we have in common and reinforce what we have in common: the equality of our citizenship, the equality of all the provinces and territories who form our federation. Those bedrocks of our constitutional reality must never change and would never change under my leadership. The issue for us is how we recognize another thing, which is constitutive of our country and has been for forever. Namely, that we're, we're composed of collective groups who have strong collective identities. It's for those groups and for our country to work out a discussion about who those are. But we've already acknowledged -

Solomon: But this isn't a Joe Clark community of communities, is it?

Ignatieff: No, it's not. It's not - it's absolutely not. It's not because we're held together by a spine of equal citizenship. We're held together by the equality of provinces.

Iggy would be a disaster. In so many ways.

Substantial second-ballot support

Well, if we're talking cheap shots, then I'll fire off my own:

from Ignatieff's interview with the Hill Times:

What is your strategy for avoiding a defeat by an 'anybody-but-Ignatieff' movement on the convention floor in December?

"Well I'm flattered that someone thinks there's an anybody-but-Ignatieff move afoot. I don't see one. I see all the candidates competing to win. I'm competing to win. In terms of strategy, it's very simple. I get up in the morning and I phone delegates all day long, one by one. And then I go across the country, as I've done in nine provinces in the last eight days, and I talk to delegates in small rooms. And I can tell you there's substantial second-ballot support."


Hmm, are they...small, windowless rooms? Furnished with a single chair and lit by bare light bulbs?

Ok, cheap shot, but it was honestly the first thing that came to mind when I read his curious usage of the word 'small'.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, who has the hottest head of state of all?

I'm sure our regular readers are aware of this corner's adoration for the GG, but really, how can you disagree?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Liberal YouTube Ads

For all the chatter about nasty Liberal attack ads, I do really like this one:

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Le Canada est une nation

This manifesto is inspiring.

From it:

Quebeckers have always shown the strength and capacity to nurture an authentic Canadian vision, to make this country a democratic, independent and humane society, and to promote peace throughout the world.

Of course, they succeeded in building a vibrant Quebec, but their greatest achievement has been fully participating in the shared creation of Canada, the country we cherish, and the world admires.

Those who aspire to the leadership of the Liberal Party should not undermine their commitment to the founding principles of this country and the role Quebeckers have played in forging this great nation. Are we too embarrassed to be proud, and to recognize what a unique society we have created?

Let us build on the values and principles that brought us together, and not trade this generous vision for the risk of discontent, fragmentation and perpetual tension.

There is a better way.

I agree. Back during the Referendum, some of us talked of getting T-Shirts made (and forgive my rusty French if I screw this up, 11 years later), with a Maple Leaf on the back, and the following:

Il n'existe qu'une souveraineté.
There is only one sovereignty.
I believed that then, and I believe it now. One of the things I envy about Americans is how they can simultaneously embrace their regional identities while always embracing their American nationality. And I would argue (supported by Michael Adams) that Quebecers and Ontarians (or other Canadians) have far more in common with each other than a New Yorker or Californian does with a Mississippian or Alabaman. Yet when they talk, the existence of their country is never at issue. Why is it so with us?

Gay marriage in South Africa

So South Africa has approved a gay marriage bill.

Let's get something straight: This is a country that 12 years ago had apartheid. This is in Africa, hardly known for its tolerance of homosexuality.

And over here in the US of A, voters are happily passing same sex marriage constitutional amendments and bans.

Land of the Free, my ass.

GG's state visit to Africa

So, let's see. Adrienne Clarkson got into a lot of trouble--from those on the right--for her circumpolar trip with distinguished Canadians. And now Harper is requesting that Michaelle Jean visit five countries in Africa on a state visit, bringing a bevy of distinguished Canadians with her.

Not sure I see the difference.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Calamity Jane

8:02pm and Jane Pitfield is arriving at her campaign headquarters. A reporter walks up "Good evening Ms. Pitfield. CityTV is declaring David Miller the winner. Do you have anything to say about that?"

Pitfield: Really? They're saying that? Uh...

Oh Jane, we hardly knew you. Thank god. As for Stephen LeDrew, I feel dumber for just having known he was in the race.

Not that I'm 100% behind Miller. I grudgingly gave him my support tonight in hope he'll do better in his second term. He didn't accomplish much of what we hoped, and despite the high expectations, I think he aimed lower than even reasonable expectations. Killed the bridge and inadvertently funded an airline, got a neutered City of Toronto Act, and his signature accomplishment, that he campaigned on, was the Transferable Metropass! The what? That's it? Well, it served Dean well on one of his visits, but seriously. This city has ISSUES to be dealt with effectively.

Happy Kiwis

This video is really cute. And got me a little teary. Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.

Friday, November 10, 2006

War as disruption, not policy

Further to my post below on how we are so inured from the costs of war that it seems a policy choice, rather than an agonizing, wrenching decision to be made only at the last resort, this quote:

The death and destruction unleashed by the Second World War was unparalleled. Those men and women who gave their lives might have written great books, discovered cures for disease, or, more likely, simply have lived out their days in peace in their native land. They lost the chance for a full life because of forces beyond their control, beyond their country's control -- forces most of them comprehended only dimly.

- J. L. Granatstein and Desmond Morton in A Nation Forged in Fire.

Bob Rae Smackdown!

A great smackdown of Bob Rae by the NDPs Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

So let's see. Rae sucks, Ignatieff will ruin the country, Kennedy is nowhere. Who's the obvious choice?

Who has the strongest record in Cabinet and in government?

Who has the strongest record in beating back separatists?

Who is the most passionate advocate for national unity?

Who has the most clearly articulated position on just about everything?


There simply is no other choice.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Call of the Callboy

Great article by Dan Savage, discussing outing people. His conclusion:

[W]hile most callboys will continue to respect a code of silence where the average closet case is concerned, the Ted Haggards of the world have been placed on notice: You can’t have your callboy and disparage him too.

I agree completely. If someone is closeted, that decision, as unfortunate as it is, should be respected. But when that person wants to suck dick on (in?) one hand and then ban gay marriage on the other, that's too much and they deserve what they get.

And, for all the "it's a sad situation" that I've been hearing with Haggard--no, it's not. I don't give a rat's ass for his wife's sadness or his own sadness. She was his partner in crime in all of this--supporting his right-wing Bush-loving Bible-thumping nonsense. She didn't know he was sneaking off to get laid? Tough. She was as gay-hating as he purported to be (except when he was on his knees in places other than church). She gets what she deserves.

War as a choice of policy

One of the things I've really come to think in the last few weeks as we've suffered through those endless "people on the streets" interviews is that too many people--particularly the less-engaged--view war not as some sort of cataclysmic upheaval and not as the last resort in a bad situation, but simply as a policy choice.

"I'm for higher taxes, and I'd like us to find alternative sources of energy, and oh yes, I think that the war in Iraq is the right choice."


No no no no no.

War is something entierly different from normal policy. Choosing to go to war isn't the same as choosing to raise taxes or to spend more on this that or the other program or improving education or tweaking social security.

But the problem is that the brunt of war is now born not by everyone in the country, but simply by (generally) poorer and more disadvantaged people.

Think back to the Second World War (particularly in the countries that were there from the outset). There was a draft, and the percentage of the population that fought was dramatic (by way of example, in the First World War, almost a million were moblized in Canada out of a population of 8 million.) Food was rationed. Taxes were raised.

i.e. Normal life didn't go on.

But now--what sacrifices are being asked of anyone, other than that tiny percentage of the population who served? NONE. We still get our taxes cut. We still get our cheap gas. Our waistlines are still expanding.

And so people view it as an abstract policy choice. Most policy choices don't have direct and meaningful impact on our lives when they're taken--the environment, social security, education, healthcare--they're all things that eventually we'll have some awareness of change.

But if we were all in the war together, it would be different. It would be a sudden, meaningful change to our lifes.

Until we can get people to realize that their policy choices ("I'm for the war in Iraq") mean that people are going to die, they'll simply treat it as a glib policy matter rather than what it is: a titanic, destructive cataclysm that brings overwhelming misery and suffering on a vast scale.

Lies on Rumsfeld

So wait. Last week, Dubya said that Rummy had his confidence and wasn't going to drop him.

And now, he says that he'd talked to Rummy, but hadn't yet "visited with" Gates and hadn't had his final conversation with Rummy. So he was thinking of replacing Rummy, and he said he wasn't going to mention it because he didn't want to influence the election (because, of course, he would never do that!).

Where, exactly, is the truth? Was he lying when he said that Rummy was staying for 2 years? Or was he being truthy, since at that point, he'd not finalized the details of replacing him? Or is he lying now about his reasons.

Still, however we got there, it's good. What did Bismark say about law and sausages?


On the day before the 2004 election, in DC (a Dem bastion) it felt like how it must have felt in Paris the day before it was liberated--this sense of impending freedom and liberation.

And then when we woke up, we felt like it must have felt the day after Paris was occupied.

Today, it's not quite like that, but it feels great. To go to bed knowing it was going to be good, and now we've got Montana, Rummy's gone, and Lieberman's not Sec of Defence. Priceless.

It's a beautiful fall here in LA, but today the sun is just a little brighter, the smiles are a little bigger, and it feels good.

Change is in the air, and it's good change.

Bush's Conference

What a JERK.

First, he goes back on all he's said about Dems being a victory for terrorists. All his "To our troops: Our nation always will support you." No SHIT sherlock. Not a single person doesn't "support the troops" (whatever that shibboleth means). How about the "To our enemies: Don't take comfort" (or whatever he said). No KIDDING, jackass.

So all your electoral noises were nonsensical.

And then his "I've always tried to work bipartisanship but we haven't made as much progress. I hope we can work together." What-fucking-ever, Dubya. When you didn't HAVE to work with the Dems, you didn't even try. When you ran both houses, you didn't give a fuck what Dems thought.

But now that the people have held your feet to the fire, you have to!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

We elected a black muslim

Keith Ellison was elected to Congress in Minnesota.

So to all those nutjob countries that criticise us here for being anti-Islam: How many Christian democratically-elected members of your majlis or council of whatever do you have? How many Jews?

(Okay, I take it a little back. Iran has one Jew, one Armenian, one Zoroastrian, and one Christian. But still.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I love Daliah Lithwick

Will comment on this later:

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Using the N word

Apparently Andrew Coyne doesn't think that it'd bad for Norman Spector to have called Stronach a "bitch," because women wear shirts that say "bitch" on them all the time. Scott Freschuk has a nice little rejoinder to that:

Many large black football players and armed hip-hop artists refer to themselves and each other using the N-word. I invite Mr. Coyne to join in and see how that goes.

Right winger who hates gays likes gay hookers

This is awesome. Some crazy preacher, who bragged about the access he has to the President, and who campaigned against gay marriage, seems to like drugs and rent boys.

Thrilling stuff. From Salon:

Ted Haggard may not just be the most important evangelical you've never heard of, but the most important evangelical, period. . . . . Haggard has been preaching against homosexuality with his typical charismatic fire-and-brimstone fervor ever since he founded New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Probably even before then. And if he's right that there is a special place in hell for gay fornicators and drug abusers -- not to mention for liars and charlatans -- I guess he knows where he's headed.


Goodness. I mean, for all the flak we all get about being snobbish central Canadian bastards who oppress the west (forgetting that there are more people in greater Toronto than there are in the three prarie provinces) and are fat latte drinking snobs, this gives us some comfort. A fun quote:

Civic officials have had it with people spitting on the street. They're sick of people relieving themselves in public. Fighting in plain view has also become a blight. And propping feet up on public benches and artwork is creating a mess.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Voting for the opposition is treason

I really can't take it. In what other reasonable democracy would people tolerate the President saying that to vote for the opposition is tantamount to voting for "The Enemy"?

This is the sort of thing we expect from Banana Republics, where people are arrested for voting against the government, where election results are always 99.9% in favour of the incumbent, where the opposition is hounded and demonized.

But here--casting a ballot is the ultimate patriotic exercise, and saying that you can only vote for one party in order to show your patriotism--well, that strikes me as the ultimate unpatriotic statement.

And remember, this is from the man who arrogated to himself the right to decide if you're an enemy combattant, saying "trust me" that he won't use it on you. But how far a logical leap is it from "voting for Democrats helps the terrorist" to "anyone who helps the terrorists is an enemy combattant" to "I can throw dissenters in jail?"

Bush said "Trust me" on Torture. He said "Trust me" on WMD. He said "Trust me" on the conduct of the war.

I think he's lost the right to ask for trust.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Is there no depth

. . . to which the Right won't sink.

Some of you may have read my post on Michael J. Fox's recent ad. Well, apparently Rush Limbaugh thinks he's acting.

This is an ad where Fox is clearly showing the signs of Parkinsons--And Limbaugh thinks it's "shameless" because he's either "acting" or "forgot to take his medication."

Wrong, asshole. The symptoms of Parkinsons include stiffness--thus the shaking is caused by TAKING the medication, not skipping it. Get a clue on symptoms, jerk, before you go making assinine comments.

And for him to suggest that Fox is just acting--well, I won't comment. It's such an idiotic statement that it speaks for itself.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Andrew Sullivan and Reality

Over at Andrew Sullivan's blog, he's making some rosy-eyed ahistorical arguments. In response to a reader who pointed out that never in history has invading a country led to democracy, or led to the countries around it embracing democracy, he makes this vapid, simplistic point:

So question one: When in recorded history have human beings reacted to the sudden toppling of their systems of governance the way Iraqis are supposed to react after we topple Saddam, by peacefully creating an entirely different system of governance? Answer: Japan and Germany after the Second World War. Question Two: When in recorded history has a change of government in one nation
led to a peaceful and spontaneous change of governments in neighboring nations?
Answer: the collapse of the Soviet Union was followed by an astonishing transformation in many neighboring countries.

I'm calling bullshit on that one (actually, I did, but of course, to right-wingers, the actual truth should never get in the way of a good explanation for something, and so he didn't post it on his blog.) My letter to him is below. But one thing--when I finished grad school (in history), I didn't really buy the "those who don't learn from history's mistakes are doomed to repeat it." And now that I'm older and wiser, I believe that 100%. If people who made policy would just run things by historians before they try them, the might find that their facile analysis doesn't stand up to reality. Anyway, my letter:

Dear Andrew,

Your suggestion that Germany and Japan are examples of people "peacefully creating an entirely different system of governance" is, unfortunately, simplistic.

Start with Germany: The Germans didn't create an entierly different system--they returned to an old one, though a different model. Remember that Germany had had democratic government in the past, in the form of the Weimar Republic. Even before that, arguably since the revolution of 1848, Germany had had some form of party-based government (albeit with strong army and Kaiser influence). Thus, the Germans weren't being given something with which they were unfamiliar. Further, German reconstruction was highly tempered by the experience of the war--long fought, massive shortages of food, and a gradual realization (particularly with the revelation of the Holocaust) that they had to change. Add to that the enormous external threat of soviet communism and the realization they had to pull together. Finally, it is worth noting that Germany was ethnically homogenous and that Protestants and Catholics stopped killing each other over religion sometime in the 1600s.

Likewise Japan. It's harder to suggest that they had as much experience as the Germans with democratic government, but it was not something with which they were entierly unfamiliar. Add to that what was replaced--Japan was ethnically and religiously homogenous, and they maintained the stabilizing figure of the Emperor.

In short, neither of these two states has any similarity to the situation in Iraq--a country with no civil society built up, no experience with democracy, and three ethnic/religious groups far more wedded to their ethnic/religious identity than their national identity. It is too simplistic to suggest anything more than a passing similarity to the situation of Germany and Japan in 1945.

Similarly with the Soviet Union. Sure, after the Soviet Union's collapse, Eastern Europe opened up, but bear in mind that a large part of that collapse was a result of the opening of the East German border to West Germany and the massive outflow of people to the West. The East realized it had to open up in order to avoid collapse and the full-scale hemmoraging of people to the West. Further, once the Soviet Union collapsed, all of the authoritarian regimes lost their principal economic and military backer, so of course they collapsed as well. Those states were satelites of the USSR, not equals allied with it of their own choice.

That isn't the case with Iraq--it is simply not the case that every state around Iraq is or was dependent on Iraq for any sort of economic support, nor are or were they client states in the way that the Eastern bloc was.


[Dean P]

Pat Tillman's Brother

I'm sure everyone remembers Pat Tillman, the NFLer who went off to war, was killed and held up as a hero by the Bushies, until it came out that he was killed by friendly fire? His brother has written a pretty powerful essay. Some choice quotes:

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.
Somehow torture is tolerated.
Somehow lying is tolerated.
Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.
Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.
Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.
Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.
Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Stem Cells

This post from the Huffington Post is so . . . shocking . . . that I reproduce it in its entierty. Everything below is from the post.

I can't tell you how much this ad with Michael J Fox upsets me. I had the chance to meet him during the Kerry Campaign, and he is such a good person and to see him so much worse, barely twenty four months later breaks my heart.

It just is truly awful.

And then I checked out the reaction to this ad and see plenty of right wing nut cases chortling that we ought to send him back to Canada because he was born there? Here's a comment someone actually posted on YouTube.

"This dude is a Canadian. Why is he in the US talking to Congress, faking being American? Because we need to fix him up, all our resources are to go to him, because he has a problem. Go to Canada, they have socialized medicine, maybe they can help you. Oh, that's why you are here. I get it now."

Please, allow me to be the first to say: Fuck you.

I just can't take this anymore.

They destroy veterans to win elections so they can play toy soldiers and kill our children.

They smear and attack and lie.

And here's a man, a father to young children, a good person - and we're not doing everything humanly possible to help him? Everything humanly possible is the only moral and ethical choice here. The only one.

Wonder where we would be if the millions we spend every hour in Iraq were spent on stem cell research?

Wonder if Jesus would think maybe we should re-allocate some funds? And reconsider our opposition to saving lives? What do you think?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The essence of tyranny

This article from Andrew Cohen in the Washington Post breaks my heart. It really does. Speaking of the new torture law--that astonishing assault on centuries of Anglo-American jurisprudence, on everything that makes us different from the uncivilized world--he writes:

Enormous and unchecked new power now has been given to a White House whose officials at first called Zacarias Moussaoui the "20th hijacker" but were wrong; who at first called Jose Padilla the "dirty bomber" but were wrong; who at first called Yaser Hamdi such a threat to national security that he could not even be allowed to talk to his attorney -- until they decided to set him free. Freedom from judicial review now has been given to the same administration officials who allowed Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen whom we now know that they knew was not a terrorist, to be transferred to Syria for torture. Vague or narrow definitions of torture now have been given to the executive branch operatives who are responsible for Abu Ghraib. New powers have been given to the people who brought us the National Security Agency's domestic spying program, the one that some legal experts say violates both federal law and the Constitution.
The rule of law is everything. It is the most important, the most fundamental thing in our society. The rule of law means that the law applies to everyone--to the government as much as to citizens. The rule of law means that the person implimenting the law (the executive) does not get to say what a law means.

Legal blogger Jack Balkin writes (as reported in the Post):

The President has created a new regime in which he is a law unto himself on issues of prisoner interrogations. He decides whether he has violated the laws, and he decides whether to prosecute the people he in turn urges to break the law. And all the while he insists that everything he does is perfectly legal, because, the way the law is designed, there is no one with authority to disagree.

It is a travesty of law under the forms of law. It is the accumulation of executive, judicial, and legislative powers in a single branch and under a single individual.

It is the very essence of tyranny.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bush has a secret plan

Apparently Bush has a secret plan to win the war. The astonishing this is that people believe him, all evidence to the contrary.

Historical note: While Germany was in ruins and Allied and Soviet armies at the gates of Berlin, Germans believed that Hitler had a secret plan to win the war. And the Germans, all evidence to the contrary, believed him.

US torture corps

Awesome. Especially the "most of 'em don't speak english anyway."

The clear message to the rest of the world

I have to say I completely agree with Dan Froomkin's assessment of the new torture law. It's a dark, dark day for our democracy, and for our freedoms. Keep in mind, the terrorists haven't changed our way of life, or our freedoms. We have. Read on:

President Bush this morning proudly signed into law a bill that critics consider one of the most un-American in the nation's long history.

The new law vaguely bans torture -- but makes the administration the arbiter of what is torture and what isn't. It allows the president to imprison indefinitely anyone he decides falls under a wide-ranging new definition of unlawful combatant. It suspends the Great Writ of habeas corpus for detainees. It allows coerced testimony at trial. It immunizes retroactively interrogators who may have engaged in torture.

Here's what Bush had to say at his signing ceremony in the East Room: "The bill I sign today helps secure this country, and it sends a clear message: This nation is patient and decent and fair, and we will never back down from the threats to our

But that may not be the "clear message" the new law sends most people.

Here's the clear message the law sends to the world: America makes its own rules. The law would apparently subject terror suspects to some of the same sorts of brutal interrogation tactics that have historically been prosecuted as war crimes when committed against Americans.

Here's the clear message to the voters: This Congress is willing to rubberstamp pretty much any White House initiative it sees as being in its short-term political interests. (And I don't just mean the Republicans; 12 Senate Democrats and 32 House Democrats voted for the bill as well.)

Here's the clear message to the Supreme Court: Review me.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Coolest toy EVER!

These are the coolest things EVER.

Even probable terrorists have rights--in some countries.

This is a welcome ruling. Basically, the Federal Court of Canada said that even for someone who might be a terrorist, his fundamental right not to be tortured was paramount, and if the Government wanted to deport him, it had to deport him somewhere where he wouldn't be tortured.

Thank god we've not subscribed to the alternate view that others embrace.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Broken Constitution

Great article in the LA Times.

His point is that the Constitution is totally dysfunctional for a variety of reasons:

1. The electoral college, which leads candidates to write off big states and pander to little ones or swing states.

2. There is no means of removing a President unless he's criminal.

3. Lame Duck presidents stay in power.

4. Supreme Court Justices stay forever.

And I want to add another: The electoral districting. It's astonshing to me that with the Dems so far ahead in every metric and on every issue, they might not win, because only a few districts are actually competitive thanks to gerrymandering. In no other rational system does that happen--where a massively unpopular party actually retains power.

Sure, ridings can be gerrymandered a little in Canada--push a line a bit further west to get more rich people, etc--but if you look at one of our electoral maps, the lines are straight. Or more straight than the crazy shapes of districts here.

That is an impediment to change and democracy. When incumbents get to pick the voters, rather than voters picking their representative, democracy dies.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Thoughts on the debate

Today was the Liberal leadership debate at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto.

I liked the format, three candidates on stage, responding to a question in turn, then open debate for 5 minutes. All candidates responded with about two sentences of french, then switched to english. Lip service, essentially, and a bit insulting. The short format also tended towards very superficial treatment of the topics.

A few interesting exchanges. Brison and Kennedy savaged Volpe on the topic of same-sex marriage. Brison, Dryden and Dion couldn't find anything to disagree on with respect to the gun registry. Dion's english really is a liability, I hate to admit it.

The best exchange came when Rae, Ignatieff and Martha Hall-Findlay debated Canada's role in the world. Who came off the best in describing their vision? I think Martha did. She laid out a vision of leadership in Afghanistan that was forceful and realistic.

Rae and Iggy tussled early and took up the whole debate with their fight. Ignatieff accused Rae of inconsistency in his views on the Afghan mission. Rae shot back that he should talk, having changed his mind on the Middle East three times in the past week. Iggy took the hurt approach, mentioned their friendship of 40 years. Rae started to apologize, when Martha tried to end the fight, ultimately yelling 'Gentlemen!' before they stopped. She said that while this made great television, they were all Liberals and this argument had nothing to do with the issue.

If applause was any measure, Findlay won hands down.

What is a Martha Hall Findlay supporter called? Marthite? Marthanista? MHFer?

Whoever wins the leadership, they MUST bring her on side. She is an asset to this party.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Delusions of Grandeur

I'm sorry, but what relevance does this stunt have to do with the leadership campaign? Iggy, you're not the leader of your party, the Opposition, or of Canada's government yet, yet and yet, (foot-in-lower-esophagus-at-this-point notwithstanding).

Stick to winning over Liberals in the short term.

I wonder who he expects will greet him at the airport?