Monday, February 27, 2006

Brave Priests

So apparently 19 priests in Quebec have posted an open letter, chastising the Catholic Church for its stance on gay priests and same sex unions (read about it in English here). Money quote:

L’Église peut puiser à des sources d’inspiration de grande valeur, dont certaines lui sont propres. Mais elle est solidaire de toute l’humanité et fait partie de ce monde. Se pourrait-il qu’elle détienne seule toutes les clés qui ouvrent les portes de l’aventure humaine authentique ? Aurait-elle nécessairement le dernier mot sur les mystères de la vie politique, sociale, familiale, sexuelle ?... Est-ce qu’elle détiendrait « toute la vérité » sur l’être humain ? L’histoire et le sens commun démontrent le contraire. En ces matières, l’enseignement officiel de l’Église s’est plus d’une fois avéré erroné.

Exactly. The Church has gotten it wrong before, and is getting it wrong now.


Why is it that every person who is nominated to the Supreme Court, be it in Canada or the U.S., needs to talk about just how humbling it is?

No. It's not. It's pretty damn ego-boosting, I'd say. Humbling is when I turn in a memo and the partner scrawls some sort of "what-kind-of-crap-is-this?" note on it. Humbling is thinking about all those people younger than me who competed at the Olympics. Humbling is realizing that in spite of my attorney salary, I can't actually afford a house.

But let me tell you, if I were appointed to the absolute pinnacle spot of my profession, I wouldn't be feeling very humble. I might say it, you know, so as not to look too full of my self, but I'd be feeling pretty f-ing stoked! I'd be thinking, YEAH, all you people who did better than me at law school, look where I am now! I'd be feeling pretty smart and pretty good about myself . . . that is, unless I were Harriet Miers.

So please. Spare me the humble schtick. Mouth the words, but it's hardly "humbling" to become the third-most powerful person in the country, after the GG and the PM.

In praise of . . .

. . . small dogs.

Okay. Normally I don't like prissy, foo-foo dogs. But last night I baby sat my sister's two dogs - one a Maltese, one a Shih Tzu. Now. They sound foo-foo, yes. However, she keeps them with a puppy cut. And the Shih Tzu is also the runt of his litter - so she named him Owen (after A Prayer for Owen Meaney). So, as usual going to bed alone, the dogs slept with me. The Maltese slept on the end, where she usually does.

And Owen spent the whole night snuggled next to me. There is something so wonderful about dogs, unmatched by cats, in their absolute, unqualified, loving affection for you. I would turn, he would adjust so he'd be in contact. I'd shift, and he'd move to make sure he was close. When my alarm went off, and I had to get up at 7 to go in for a 14 hour day (yes, on a Sunday), he licked my face and wanted to play.

But from the two of them, such sweet, gentle innocence was wonderful.

If only boys were that way.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Harper's Mandate

Now that I've stopped giggling about the title of this post...SES has finally come out with poll results worth reporting (unlike previous silly polls that asked voters for their 'mood' on questions they were unqualified to answer). The findings are very interesting.

On the first question, 12% of voters said they made up their mind in the voting booth. In the voting booth! The results of the second question have more serious implications. Asked why Harper won the election, only 6% said it was because he was the best leader and only 11% said it was because of his platform.

Question: When did you make up your mind about who you were going to vote for?

Before the campaign started 39%
Before the holidays 19%
The last weekend of the campaign 19%
In the voting station on Election Day 12%
During the leaders' debate 9%
Unsure/No answer 2%

Question: In your opinion, which of the following statements best describes the main reason why Stephen Harper and the Conservatives won the recent federal election?

It was time for a change 46%
The Liberals needed a "time out" 25%
The Conservatives had the best platform 11%
None of the above 8%
Stephen Harper was the best federal leader 6%
Unsure/No answer 3%

"With three of ten voters making their voting decision in the last three days of the campaign – the election was really up for grabs. A minority of voters cast their ballot based on the Conservative platform (11%) and on Stephen Harper himself (6%). Change and the need for a Liberal 'time out' drove support in the federal election. Polling clearly shows that the Harper mandate is founded on change and punishing the Liberals." -Nik Nanos, President, SES Research

So what is Harper's mandate? Not that this government seems to be particularly beholden to their pre-election ethics and principles, but one can argue that Harper doesn't have much of a mandate at all, particularly when it comes to dismantling the child-care deals established with the provinces. But this is exactly how they are operating: Jim Flaherty was on the radio on Friday stating that they had a mandate to dismantle the Liberal child-care plan and institute their own, because that is what the voters said on election day. The SES poll makes clear that this is an argument built on shaky ground.

Fine, take a Conservative vote as a vote for the Conservative platform, they've got to do something. But they do so at their peril. If anger voted them in, anger can just as easily vote them out.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Earn some cash?

Apparently, Liberty Breeds Prosperity.

Yes, the prosperity that comes from foreigners taking money out of your country and speculating on your currency.

I'm sure the Iraqi people would be overjoyed to learn that we caused a complete collapse of their currency, and now are buying it up as fast as we can in order to get rich as its value rises.

Fun stunt

This is a cool idea by a legislator in Ohio: Ban Republican Adoption. I mean, surely being Republican is a far greater mental affliction than being a homo.

And if you're one of our regular readers who disagrees with our rabid Liberal/CommunistNDP postings, and you're single, you can go here. Their motto? Sweethearts not Bleeding Hearts. Alas, they don't seem to allow for gays, so gay conservatives are sort of out of luck.

Protesting dead fags okay, just not dead soldiers

Now, Fred Phelps (safe link) is a very unsavoury character. He's the guy who runs the website (VERY unpleasant reading, be careful.) He's the guy who protested at Matthew Sheppard's funeral, basically saying "God killed Matthew and he deserved it 'cos he's gay."

He routinely appears at funerals for gay people with the same message - and imagine how bad it is to be a grieving relative or partner and be confronted by a sign saying "God gave your son AIDS cos he's a fag."

And no one lifted a finger to say maybe he shouldn't be allowed to do this.

But now, now that he's protesting in front of military funerals, with the message that god kills soldiers because he doesn't like gay people and society is too tolerant of them, 13 states are pushing laws to bar him from protesting. (No word of whether Wyoming, where Matthew Sheppard was from, is one of them.)

So what - it's okay to send offensive messages about gay people when it's gay people who will see the message, but not if it's soldiers? We value sensitivity towards the military and their family, but not towards gay men and women and their families?

Sickening. But not really a surprise. We can't marry, in many places we can't adopt, hell, it's only been a few years that we got the right to have sex. And of course no one cares if some nut job shows up to our funerals, where he's barred from showing up at those of straight people.

Maybe separate water fountains and bathrooms next.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Was Cheney wasted when he shot the "quail"?


I'm losing more and more respect for the Islamic world by the day. There. I said it.

Yesterday, a quite important Shia mosque was bombed. By a small group of nutcases, no doubt.

And then Iraq explodes into violence.

I'm sorry. I just don't get it. Some nut case blows up a mosque, and therefore it's okay to go after Sunni mosques and innocent civilians who had nothing to do with the blowing up?

Is that how crazy the Arab world is? Someone makes us angry, so we go after people who are either of the same sect or same nationality or same general societal affiliation (i.e. Western), even though they had nothing to do with the offence? A publisher in Denmark makes us mad, therefore all Europeans are fair game for violence. A crazy Sunni bombs a mosque, so innocent Sunni civilians are now fair game for retaliation?

And I'm not gonna buy any PC excuses that "oh, well, they've been repressed for so long, the West is evil, yada yada." There is absolutely no excuse for violence against people who've done nothing, imposing some sort of collective guilt.

The Arab world really needs to grow up and stop throwing tantrums every time someone does something that makes them mad.

In praise of . . .

Pierre Trudeau.

The CBC link above, linking to the "just watch me" interview with Trudeau, is amazing. A totally unscripted interview by a very confrontational reporter with the Prime Minister. I note that this is pre-Charter, and imposing martial law is almost uncertainly unconstitutional. However - could you imagine a President facing something like this? It's an amazing interview. Trudeau's absolute lack of equivocation is breathaking. I wish politicans now would do this (well, non-Republicans). Now, it seems (especially on the left) we speak in a way that will piss of as few people as possible. Here, Trudeau is so clear with his convictions. I mean, "A lot of bleeding hearts who don't like the sight of people in helemts. Well, go on and bleed." Wow. Watch it.

And listen to this speech. Again - could you see Dubya making this speech? Or even Harper? Or Martin? Strangely, I can see the Jeanfather making it.

I can't find a link right now, but the greatest speech by Trudeau was when he stepped down. It is burned in my mind:

Our hopes are high. Our faith in the people is great. Our courage is strong, and our dreams, for this beautiful county, will never die.

We are free, finally, wonderful free, free after centuries, because of him. We have rights. Nothing else matters and every step it took to get there is worth it.

FINALLY some more sense

I still absolutely cannot understand why it is that people are making any sort of argument that the difference between publishing some cartoons and getting hysterical and burning down embassies and threatening Danish/Euro/Scandinavian/Israeli nationals with death ("Behead those who insult Islam") is one of degree rather than kind.

Why on earth have we been seized with some sort of fanatical PCism gone wrong. As the article notes,

The Boston Globe, speaking for many other outlets, editorialized: "[N]ewspapers ought to refrain from publishing offensive caricatures of Mohammed in the name of the ultimate Enlightenment value: tolerance."

But as for caricatures depicting Jews in the most medievally horrific stereotypes, or Christians as fanatics on any given issue, the mainstream press seems to hold no such value. And in the matter of disclosing classified information in wartime, the press competes for the scoop when it believes the public interest warrants it.

Exactly. And so, the article concludes, we've been had in a war of intimidation.

This has nothing to do with respect. (Full disclosure - I know all about being PC. Back in my younger, wilder days, I was so PC I balked at the term "human" because it contained the word "man." I scarce remember but I think for a brief period I used the word "huperson" (I think I struggled with person because it contained "son," though my compound clearly did as well.) What my teachers though I have no idea.) If it were about respect, then all religions would be sacrosanct. And behind them, all political parties. for there are some of us who hold to political views or constitutional ideals with as much passion (and probably far greater thought and reason) as those who believe in God or Allah or JHVH or Bhudda or the Great Onion in the North.

So now what? If you riot enough, the press will back off. Maybe Bush partisans should start burning papers down, or maybe we homos should start finding Republicans and terrorizing them.

But to pretend that this is anything other than craven cowardice from the West (actually, the US and Canada) is nonsense. At this point, the cartoons as completely newsworthy. They should be published a mari usque ad mare. Otherwise we perpetuate the myth of respect behind a curtain of fear. To accept islamist demands, without treating other faiths equally, is to suggest that either the one is more deserving of some lip-service respect than the other (given the villification of Islam that appears in much of the Western press), or is conversely to suggest that Judaism, Christianity, Etc., are more mature and can handle the occasional joke.

And for the record, I thought the cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb on his head was right on. When the Muslim world starts affirmatively discouraging Islamist terrorism, I'll change my mind. In Canada, we had two people kidnapped and the Government immediately moved to crush the terrorists. I can't wait to see the same in the Islamic world. But where, in the Palistinian Authority, for example, suicide bombers are revered, their "bereaved" families given money, and their actions praised, let's not pretend that there isn't a veil of truth to that cartoon. As politically incorrect as it is to say that.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It's about trust

Dan Froomkin makes some good points.

Now, I'm not really all that sure how big a deal it is that a company from UAE owns or runs a port here. I mean, it takes a pretty fantastic leap of conspiracy imagination to get to the fact that this will make it easier for terrorists to do things - some cloak and dagger of port executives turning blind eyes to nuclear missiles being smuggled in. Only 5% of containers are inspected to begin with.

But - Bush is doing his full-steam-ahead, damn-the-torpedos approach, and for once it is going to backfire. Imagine if the veto were overridden?

It might say a good thing here about Repulicans. This is such a non-issue and they're not backing down, when they've supported Bush in the past on much more untenable positions. Are they finally realizing that he's incompetent and mendacious?

We can only hope.

In praise of . . .

. . . Brokeback Mountain.

Yes. I know. I really really really didn't want to be that gay guy who thinks it's just about the most amazing thing ever. I went in thinking, all those people who think it's so great, they're just thinking that 'cos it's really the first ever big gay movie.

But. Alas. Now - I'm also not a movie snob. I am happy with a Bruce Willis flick. Plot development? Character interaction? Nah, give me Starship Troopers. So that's where I'm coming from.

First, it's visually stunning. And filmed in Alberta. I guess it's easier to get tax breaks for gay movies in Alberta than in Wyoming or Montana or wherever.

Second - the love theme. I think that really, for most of us gay men, this is the first time we've seen a movie that has love we can understand. I mean, there are plenty of good straight love movies out there, uplifting or tragic, but at the end of the day, while I suppose we can conceptually understand, we can't really relate. This was different. (Yes, there are plenty of bad gay movies out there; I'm not counting them. A gay movie without all the attendant annoyingness of being gay was wonderful. Honestly. All the movies out that I can think of in some way involve drag queens or queeny old designers or Provincetown/West Hollywood. My life doesn't really involve those things. Okay, it doesn't involve horses and sheep either.)

The scene where Ennis walks up behind Jack, who's dozing on his feet, and puts his arms around him - felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach. Seeing on screen an expression of tenderness that I could understand was powerful. Well, that coupled with the scene it goes with.

Maybe it also resonated with me because of the distance. I was in a long-distance relationship once, and the feeling of how awful the distance is, and how much you long for the time to pass so you can see each other again. And even now, where the people I care most about live either across the continent or across the continent and an ocean - the yearning for the distance to close, for the time apart to go by faster and the time together to be slower.

So, in all - wow. I hate to say it, but wow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Okay. The world is clearly going nuts. This woman tried to register a Yahoo email address using her own name - Callahan. Guess what?

Because it contains the word "Allah" within it, it was blocked by their policy.

Speaks for itself.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Emerson speaks

So David Emerson finally made his appearance on CTV's Question Period.
He says his switch was not motivated by personal reasons, but a desire to work for his riding.

Why? He said he didn't come into politics for partisan reasons, he's not political person, he came in as a Paul Martin Liberal. As if  "Paul Martin Liberal" was some euphemism for non-partisan sainthood, working for the good of all without any self-interest.

Asked if he will run as a Conservative in the next election, Emerson said he will if he feels he can still contribute.

Translation: if I can win, and the Tories are going to form the government. Hey, he can always switch back if they don't.

Friday, February 17, 2006

It was bound to happen

Apparently some Cleric in Pakistan has offered a US$1 Million reward for the murder of the person responsible for the cartoons in Denmark.

If Arab governments, particularly Pakistan, do not immediately condemn this, the West should respond by pointing out that tolerating calls to assassinate our citizens is intolerable.

Meanwhile, the patheticness of North America continues, with the United Church of Canada condemning the cartoons, Bill Clinton saying it was a bad idea, yada yada.

As if there were any comparison between a cheeky cartoon and murder and violence.

British Judge Slams Torture

At least someone in the UK isn't a lapdog.

Justice Collins, in a hearing over torture and detention, made this comment:

America's idea of what is torture is not the same as ours and does not appear to
coincide with that of most civilised nations.

Scott McLellan brushed off criticism of Gitmo with these two sentences: "The detainees are being treated humanely," he said. "Remember these are terrorists."

First, they are not terrorists. They are alleged terrorists. Increasing reports are demonstrating that many of them were just picked up on the denunciation of a neighbour.

But second, what an astonishing qualifier. He should have said, "The detainees are being treated humanely, because that is what America does and because they are human beings too."

But why did he add the "they are terrorists" line? Is it to say, "We're treating them humanely, but, wink wink, we all know they're bad people, so it's okay"?

If he's saying, well, we're under no obligation to treat alleged terrorists humanely, we've come to a pretty dismal place. I had always believed that the "innocent-until-proven-guilty" thing was part of our values and didn't depend on the citizenship of the accused or the crime of which he is accused.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

More praise

Okay. Two in one day might be too much. But really, I just can't pass up the chance.

I'm in love.

And the medal doesn't hurt either. That smile, of a kid who yesterday they were all saying had no chance at all . . .

Sigh. He's Canadian. I'm Canadian. We have a bill. Ergo . . .

In praise of . . .

. . . becoming Californian. I think, after about 3 years on and off living here, that being a Los Angelino has started to set in.

Not, of course, in that I've become dippy and vacuous or started yakking on my cell phone with a yippy dog on my lap while I hold up traffic.

Two examples:

The last time we had rain was in December. It rained for two days. At lunch on the second day, I felt like I was going to cry. It was just so . . . depressing. Now, forget that I spent 5 years in the UK where when you get two consecutive days of sun and rejoice because of it, or that I lived in Canada. Somehow, two whole days of rain was just too much.

Second. I drive a convertible. I always have. Well apart from that 1988 Honda Civic in Toronto. And up until last night, it took rain to keep me from driving with the roof down. I mean, it could be "cold" and I would still do it, with the heat blasting. People always said that you can tell an import to California by the fact they always have the roof down, hot or cold.

Only last night, as I left my office, it was cool, and I thought, no, I'm going to drive with the roof up.

And then it hit me.

Strict Construction

The Post's George Will makes a good point. Why is it that all these Republicans, who harp on constantly about the need to "strictly construe" a statute, and to not read a broader meaning into a law or a right than the drafters of that law or right intended, now suggest that the authorization for the use of force that was passed by Congress granted the President powers far beyond what it actually says?

Anyway, the argument that the AUMF contained a completely unexpressed congressional intent to empower the president to disregard the FISA regime is risible coming from this administration. It famously opposes those who discover unstated meanings in the Constitution's text and do not strictly construe the language of statutes.

Indeed. And really, if Bill Clinton had made this argument, would Republicans be lining up to say, sure, he's the CIC and he has inherent powers to do whatever he wants? When we win back the Presidency (okay, if), will they still argue that he has those powers? Or will suddenly the GWOT be over and we have to go back to Congress not defering to the President?

Science and Religion Clash

So apparently, DNA research has shown that the fundamental premise of the Mormon faith is wrong.

For the rational, reality-based people out there, this is probably no big deal. We all know (pace Stockwell Day), that dinosaurs and people didn't walk the earth together, that no, God didn't just wave his hand and make everyone. Some people can accept the Bible as allegory.

But when you accept it as literal truth, you have a problem. So when the Mormons believe as literal truth that native indians are descendants of a tribe of Israel, and DNA evidence says, nope, unless Israel is in eastern Asia, they aren't, you have a direct clash.

And unforunately, just as with evolution, science loses. The empirical, demonstrable loses out to the mystical and fantastic.

I seem to recall the Dali Lama once saying that if science contradicted Bhuddism, Bhuddism would have to change. If only other religions could be so accomodating. I've not heard of Bhuddist terrorists or crusaders or forced conversions or inquisitions or religious persecution by Bhuddists. I wonder if there's a link.

Forcing Elections

Okay. So the Liberals are basically saying, "We're not supporting the Government, it can only survive with the NDP and Bloc."

Some might say that they have balls. Some might say they're also insane.

First - they're leaderless (Bill Graham's a nice guy, but . . .). They're also policy-less, thanks to 2 years under Martin's idea that every random musing (remember the Notwithstanding Clause?) constitutes a concrete policy. They're deeply in debt.

And yet they're saying to the two parties most opposite to the Tories (i.e. more left wing than the Liberals), "It's up to you to keep it going."

It could so spectacularly backfire. If there were an election tomorrow, would the the Liberals do better, or worse?

Arguments for doing better include a) no Paul Martin, b) a chance to maybe get the campaign right (not likely), and c) the Emerson/Fortier issue.

Arguments against include the fact that the Tories didn't spend their first days cancelling Medicare, moving Parliament to Calgary, razing Toronto and stealing everyone's firstborn. And the fact that this is basically the Liberals saying, "We're not accepting we need a time out. We're not accepting the fact we're not in Government and we want back in."

Personally I think it's stupid. If he came across as a bit more accomodating - "There are areas where we disagree but we'll not bring down the Government for it" or even "There are areas where we do agree - probably more than most people think - and we can work to make Parliament work, unlike the last dysfunctional Parliament" it would be one thing.


UPDATE, six hours later: This is wild. Liberal and Bloc numbers down, Tory numbers constant, NDP numbers up. Right now it should really be the NDP who are saying they don't want to prop up the Tories, not the Liberals. If I were Jack I'd be looking for an excuse to pull the plug, while finding a way to blame it on someone else. If I were Graham and Duceppe I'd be doing my darndest to keep the Gov going, in order to give Harper chances to screw up.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

In Praise Of

So, a friend of mine recently commented that I should start posting more happy things on here, and another suggested something personal. After all, I'm not just someone who tries to cool off the Los Angeles weather with constant blasts of arctic Canadian cynicism. So I'm inaugurating a new posting, maybe not daily but often, modeled after the Guardian in London's daily "In Praise Of . . . "

So, today: Ralph Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. One of my favourite pieces of music ever. For string orchestra with soloists. It's based on this theme. I don't know a single pieces of music that spans the emotional range that the fantasia does, that has such wonderful, rich, sonorous sound. Go download it from iTunes. It's the best $0.99 you can spend.


In response to prior posts in which I expressed some skepticism over the resounding victory in the war on terror in foiling a plot to fly a plane into the library tower, one reader lambasted me for being blindly critical of Bush.

Turns out my initial thoughts were right. Apparently it wasn't quite such a big deal. As David Ignatius writes,

Bush spoke about four al Qaeda plotters who had planned to use shoe bombs to blow open the cockpit door. But a foreign official with detailed knowledge of the intelligence scoffed at Bush's account, saying that the information obtained
from Khalid Sheik Mohammed and an Indonesian operative known as Hambali was not an operational plan so much as an aspiration to destroy the tallest building on the West Coast. When I asked a former high-level U.S. intelligence official about Bush's comment, he agreed that Bush had overstated the intelligence.

Res ipsa ludificatur. And the problem is all those Republican mouth-breathers who buy this stuff and believe that the world is a safer, better place because of Bush.

Incidentally, if the GWOT is such an enormous thing, and we have this big fat deficit, and you know, we're sort of missing a major city - what on earth are Cheney and Bush doing taking vacations? I know people in my office who've not taken a week off in two years, I haven't taken even a weekend day off in months - and the welfare of millions certainly does not depend on whether we win the contract case that I'm on.


These are the new pictures from Abu Ghraib. Not for the faint of stomach.

You can't insult us, but we can bash you

This is outrageous. The Chief Mufti of Russia (i.e. someone official, not some random hothead) is saying that anyone who participates in Moscow's gay pride parade should be bashed. He's not saying "Islam, that religion of peace and tolerance, and Mohammed (peace be upon him), don't approve of homosexuality." He's not saying, "No good Muslim marches in a gay parade."


He's THREATENING those who march in the parade - Muslim, Orthodox, Jew, Athiest, Onion-worshiper - with violence.

What's worse - some cartoons, or bashing gay people?

What's worse - blowing yourself up at a wedding, or a cartoon?

What's worse - flying a plane into a building and killing thousands of innocents, or a cartoon?

What's wose - assassinations, banning churches, hanging homosexuals, and suppressing the press, or a cartoon?

And why is it that only half of each of those pairings draws official condemnation and protest in the Arab/Muslim world?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Quote of the Day

This bill is all about the faithless fear that there isn't enough love to go around. It claims that in recognizing the unions of lesbians and gay men, society would somehow diminish heterosexual marriages. This is the religious right's morality of miserliness.

Rabbi Dan Fink, Congregation Ahaveth Beth Israel in Boise, Idaho, testifying before the state Legislature on a pending resolution to approve an anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution.

Freedom on the March in the Land of the Free

Today's a banner day for civil rights in the USA:

First, CNN reports:

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said the Senate will vote the week of June 5 on a constitutional amendment that would ban legal marriage for same-sex couples across the country. "When America's values are under attack, we
need to act," Frist told the Conservative Political Action Conference. Observers say the amendment has little chance of passing, but the vote could rally conservative voters as the mid-term elections approach.

And then in Idaho:

The Idaho House of Representatives approved a marriage definition amendment to the state constitution last week, sending the measure to the Senate, where a committee sent it to the floor on a 5-4 vote. "We are writing history here today. Your vote is how you will go on record in history on my life, on my personhood," Rep. Nicole LeFavour, the state's only openly gay legislator, told her colleagues.

The land of the free my ass. Honestly, when I hear that American national myth that we're the most free country in the world, I increasingly want to just smack people. Name one other western country that could even have a debate about enshrining discrimination into its constitution?

Of course name one other serious western country that happly plods along while being run by the most secretive, corrupt, and incompetent administration in history. If Holland tomorrow lost a major city under water, you can bet that some heads would roll. The Martin government was taken down by a few misspent millions. Yet here? Oh no, business as usual.

Shoot me, baby

And of course it comes out that the White House did its absolute best to keep the world from finding out that Tricky Dicky shot someone. Is anyone surprised? As Dana Milbank on MSNBC suggested, if this is the Administration's new approach to getting out the news, they'll soon be handing their plans to trim the deficit or fix Iraq to the editor of the Podunk Daily Bee or something.

11:07pst update: The guy's had a heart attack because of the bird shot migrating to his heart!

And the McLellan-Press exchange it fascinating. Here's a snip (more can be found here):

Q Why didn't we hear about it for 24 hours?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the first priority was making sure that -- and I don't think that's correct, on the 24 hours -- but I think the first priority was making sure that Mr. Whittington was getting the medical care that he needed. And I know that the Vice President's Office worked with Mrs. Armstrong to get that information out, as well. And my understanding is that Mrs. Armstrong contacted the local paper early Sunday morning.
Q Can you say what the Vice President did immediately after the accident, what the sequence of --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, my understanding from his office is that he was making sure that Mr. Whittington was getting the care he needed....
Q You and the press duty officer don't administer medical treatment. So why couldn't the press office have alerted us Saturday night, when you guys found out?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the Vice President's Office was working to get that information out, and they got it out Sunday morning through Mrs. Armstrong.
Q Well, why the wait? I'm still confused why --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think they wanted to make sure that he was getting the care he needed. And then -- I mean, they proactively worked to get it out.
Q But didn't they actually --
Q -- both at the same time. I don't understand that.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, you want to make sure he gets the care; and, two, then you want to get the facts together. And they got it out early Sunday.
Q Well, I mean, you know, you can certainly make sure he's getting the care and tell us, too. I mean, it's a pretty big shop that you're running here.
MR. McCLELLAN: And they worked to get it out....
Q You don't think there was any real delay in announcing this to the public? What do you mean, work with --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that --
Q -- there were people there watching it and so forth and they knew what happened.
MR. McCLELLAN: And they worked to get that information out. The first priority, again, was making sure that Mr. Whittington got the care he needed, which they did. And the Vice President's team was -- the Vice President's team did great work doing that....

Of course - let's say a leading Democrat had shot someone. Do you really think that if it hadn't been reported to the press within 10 minutes, the Republicans wouldn't have been all over it? "The Democrats' unwillingness to be frank with the public shows that they are caught up in a pre-9/11 mindset." Or some other nonsense.

Ezra's stunt

Two good letters to the editor of the Globe&Mail regarding little Ezra's stunt. And it's nothing more than that. It's not a hate crime, but it's deliberately provocative, designed to attract attention and advance his own agenda, which has nothing entirely to do with free speech.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Bending over . . .

. . . backwards (unfortunately.) Here in Canada and the USA, some circles go on and on about how we need to be sensitive to Muslim cultural values, and sensitive to their religious prohibitions about drawing pictures of Mohammed, be it of him gazing thoughtfully or with a bomb on his head or screwing a sheep. We need to make sure our free press doesn't offend their sensibilities.

How far do we go? Apparently, Brokeback Mountain (which I've not yet seen, yes, you can take my gay card) is not going to be showing in the Muslim world. Not exactly a surprise. However, apparently it's "against Islam" because it forbids such "abnormal behaviours."

So - following the logic of those who think we need to be sensitive (once again, I use italics to denote a sneer), do we now pull Brokeback from movie theatres? It offends some Muslims?

Now, I'm sure someone's going to turn around and spout some nonsense that there's a difference between engaging in sodomy and making a drawing (there is: I'm good at the one, not at the other). That may be so in their minds (though how there can be differing levels of abomination is quite beyond me), but the point is we're saying we shouldn't do it because it will offend them.

Well, we're allowed to offend them in one regard, but not in others?

Hypocricy. Specious, sophistical hypocricy.

Rage and fanaticism

I'm really very OVER hearing about how the poor Arab world - or really any group - has been so mistreated and oppressed that their rage and rioting and violence is "understandable." I'm really over people saying we need to be sensitive to them - not publishing cartoons - out of sympathy for their oppressed past. Or saying, "Well, suicide bombing, while deplorable, has to be seen in the context of the past."

Get over it.

If being historically oppressed as a group is enough to justify violence and "rage," then why do we not have Tibetan Bhuddist suicide bombers? If being tortured, deported, subjugated, etc., were enough, why are not Tibetans blowing themselves up in Chinese busses or flying planes into buildings in Shanghai?

Or - where are gay terrorists? You want to find a class of people who have been, from biblical times to now, who have been oppressed, lynched, excuted, shut out of jobs, had constitutional amendments passed against them, it's we homos.

Oh the drama

Day-whatever of the Emerson saga: finally he has realized that maybe if he shut his mouth, the issue might go away. Except when his no-shows are so transparent they become issues in and of themselves. First he skipped a conference call because he was 'stuck in traffic'. Yeah, because Emerson doesn't own a cell, and does his own driving. Next, he skipped out of Question Period on CTV, as if that will keep them from discussing his story. Of course not, they'll just get his NDP opponent to come on and speak instead. One of the senior Liberal volunteers in Vancouver-Kingsway called Emerson 'politically naieve'. I'll say.

Hargrove out: At first, I thought "finally". Hargrove's actions during the federal election were irritating. His endorsement of Sid Ryan's opponent in Oshawa, his hugging of Martin (actually, I think Martin hugged him by surprise), and the donating of a CAW jacket for Martin to wear. I also heard Hargrove several times on the CBC, where he argued that the RCMP had no business investigating the income trust scandal during an election. He also argued that the NDP had recklessly provoked an election that would only give rise to sovereignty in Quebec. Lines straight out of the Liberal playbook. 

However, now we hear that Layton didn't know about the ejection of Hargrove, it was a provincial NDP action. Hargrove was also stating that he didn't think Layton had anything to do with this. Marilyn Churley, formerly of the Ontario NDP, said the move wasn't a good idea. I think days of the Ontario NDP leader, Howard Hydrozilla Hampton, are numbered.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Accountable to the...guy who appointed him.

So Michel Fortier was appointed to represent Montreal. Turns out his seat represents rural Quebec

Michel Fortier on CBC One's The House this morning: "We needed representation in greater Montreal"

Greater Montreal. Huh. That's a new one. And to be sure we heard, he said 'greater' at least five more times in the interview. For someone following the story from day one (it being Day Seven of the One-Day issue), the evolution of their justifications for this mess is, well, enough to convince even the most die-hard believers of Intelligent Design... (if desired, insert own more obvious joke here, re: lack of intelligence or design, etc)

Fortier also says he won't run in a by-election, just a general election, because that's what Harper told him to do.  He acknowledges that he is probably supported by the people of Montreal, he acknowledges it's not a perfect solution, but he has to follow the mandate given to him by his leader to run Public Works.

His mandate.

Well, at least he's accountable to one person's wishes.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Back up

Wait a minute. Dubya tells us that he foiled a plot to fly a plane into the Library Tower here in LA.

Only the person recruited to do it pulled out after 9-11. So what do we have here? They plotted, but then decided they weren't going to do it. And then we arrested the guy. So we arrested a guy who had planned to do something but then decided not to.

What a resounding victory for the forces of good.

Steven Harper's debut as Paul Jean-Kim Brian-John Trudeau

So apparently Garth Turner, Tory MP, who spoke out against Emerson and Fortier, is finding himself in quite substantial disfavour with the PMO. In his words:

Speaking of offices, after today I’m expecting the Whip will be assigning me a renovated washroom somewhere in a forgotten corner of a vermin-infested dank
basement in Ottawa. That should go well with my seat in the House of Commons that will be visible only during lunar eclipses.

Uh-huh. That kind of a day. This one MP came face-to-face with the party machine in a series of unhappy meetings including one tonight with the prime minister. I think it is now safe to say my career options within the Conservative caucus are seriously limited. If you would like a course on how not to be popular in Ottawa, then take a seat.
Good to know that while in Opposition, the Tories mocked the Liberals for party discipline, for the fact that MPs who didn't toe the line were punished, and promised that no, a Tory government would allow its MPs to speak freely and vote freely.

As I've argued before, what we saw during the Liberal reign was exactly what we saw during the Mulroney years (only that was so far away we'd forgotten). This kind of behaviour, along with corruption, isn't a Liberal thing, it's not a Tory thing - it's a governing thing.

Complete aside - On Turner's blog there's a glorious picture of Parliament at night in winter. Maybe I'm cheesy, but it's so achingly majestic and beautiful, I got a touch teary.


This is scandalous beyond belief.

Here we've been told that, oh no, the Administration had no idea what was going on in New Orleans. And yet it turns out they had a complete idea days before they said they did.

It's so stunning in the breadth of the Administration's mendacity, its nonfeasance, it's malfeasance . . . I don't quite know what to write.

At least Michael "You're doin' a heckuva job, Brownie" Brown is going to testify.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

They didn't want Emerson to be in government

A lot of the defenders of Emerson have recently gone on and on about how it's much better for the good people of Vancouver-Kingsway to have their MP in government and indeed in Cabinet.

Well, this may be true (though it's pernicious with regard to the Cabinet. The Federal Cabinet is not some sort of BQ-fantasy Council of the Federation, with each Minster acting as some regional baron to pull as much pork into his castle as possble. The job of a Federal Minister is to exercise his duties for the good of all Canadians. Only when his Minister mitre is off and his MP skullcap is on does he then look out for his riding).

However. However.

In the days - even weeks before the election, the good people of Vancouver-Kingsway (and, indeed, everyone in Canada but Paul Martin and the Board) were fully aware that there was going to be at least a Tory minority, if not a majority.

Thus, had the gentle burghers of Vancouver-Kingsway actually wanted to be represented in government rather than in opposition, why would they have given 77% of their votes to candidates who would be in opposition and not the government?

If this logic is to be accepted, well, then what should happen is that everyone in the entire country will check out the polls the day before the election, see who's going to win a minority or majority, and all vote for that party in their ridings. Then EVERY riding in the entire country would be in government, which is clearly the ideal situation.

They like us! They really like us!

Has anyone ever seen such an effusive article about Canada in a major american paper?? It managed to say all the right things, without also the typical American droning on about competitiveness and inefficiency and overregulation . . . After reading it I almost had to stand up and sing O Canada.

But then I worried what my secretary would think.

What about those statues of Buddha?

Back in the dark days of the Taliban, the nutcases running Afghanistan thought it would be a good idea to blow up the ancient statues of Buddha in Bamiyan for being "unislamic."

Now, I don't recall at that point any Buddists running rampage, demanding that all Afghanis be executed, boycotting Afghani products, or burning embassies.

Good essay

Can be found here, on the whole uproar over the Mohammed cartoons. (Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan). An exerpt:

On the contrary, what’s happening here is that a gang of bullies—led by a country, Saudi Arabia, where Bibles are forbidden, Christians tortured, Jews routinely labeled “apes and pigs” in the state-controlled media, and apostasy from Islam punished by death—is trying to compel a tiny democracy to live by its own theocratic rules. To succumb to pressure from this gang would simply be to invite further pressure, and lead to further concessions—not just by Denmark but by all of democratic Europe. And when they’ve tamed Europe, they’ll come after America.

After all, the list of Western phenomena that offend the sensibilities of many Muslims is a long one—ranging from religious liberty, sexual equality, and the right of gay people not to have a wall dropped on them, to music, alcohol, dogs, and pork. After a few Danish cartoons, what’s next?

It just gets battier and battier. I confess to being profoundly disappointed that Louise Ann Arbour, former Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, now United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, is about to take "action." Apparently we need to be "respectful."

I won't deny that, yes, sometimes one should attempt to be vaguely sensitive. However, there's no absolute requirement of that. I accept the right of people to publish nasty cartoons and articles about gay people, since accepting that also gives me the right to ridicule the publishers and authors. I have the right to be offended as much as I have the right to offend.

However, the right to be offended does not mean that I have the right to violence, to murder, and to force others not to offend me.

Forgive my cynicism

But this just seems a little ridiculous.

Apparently we "foiled" an attack on the Library Tower here in Los Angeles. A few people were arrested in some unnamed South Asian country.

But how far along was this polt? They refuse to tell us. Was it anything more than a few nutjobs meeting to talk about the idea? Had people been hired? Had they already learned how to fly planes?

This is the first time Dubya's given us any specifics about any plot that has been "foiled." We constantly hear how he's made us "safer" and how he's stopped terrorists from attacking, but we never hear details. This strikes me as an awfully convenient little nugget to give us (apparently it happened in 2002) right as people are starting to question whether or not Bush's "give me more power to make you safe" is making sense.

More importantly - there was no suggestion that the illegal wiretapping in any way facilitated anything. There was not suggestion that the massive curtailing of civil liberties helped in any way - indeed, it's unlikely that they did, given it all happened abroad.

And what's this about the mayor of Los Angeles not being informed? Do you think that maybe if this were Houston (i.e. Republican city) the mayor might have heard about it a little more directly? (Cf. the famous M, "We prefer not to get our bad news from CNN.")

To me this is just another cynical use of information by the Dubya Administration to string the unthinking along and make them believe that this incompetent, corrupt, mendacious, malfeasant administration is actually doing something effective.

Westerners lose their principles awfully quickly

The Star does a roundup of editorial opinion from across the country. It shows outrageous hypocricy in the Western press.

The Vancouver Sun has no problem with Emerson but objects to Fortier.

The Calgary Herald crows that the new Ministry is "a break with the brokerage politics recently associated with the Liberals. ... It is a parliamentary force to inspire confidence."

Indeed, reading the sampling, apart from the Lethbridge Herald, you have to get to St. Catherines before there is any objection to Emerson's floor-crossing.

I wonder - what did all these Western papers say about Stronach? About Brison? (Miserably, most of these papers are on the web site which make searching incredibly difficult).

One-day superficial issue (day 4)

Lawrence Martin nails it on the head and asks: is it just the natural Tory way?

Harper has squandered the good will of the people and the media. He must now try and implement the most controversial elements of his 5-point plan from a position of weakness, and his opponents sense it.

Harper needs to admit the mistake and deal with Emerson and Fortier. This isn't a "one-day superficial" issue.

This truly has become Harper's Miers.

Congress clearly did NOT authorize warrantless wiretapping

The Dubya administration has stated, over and over, that the authorization of use of force post September 11 abrogated the requirement of a FISA Court warrant for wiretapping.

For a pack of individuals who go against broad reading of things like, oh, say, the Constitution (i.e. not finding a right to privacy, to sodomy, to abortion), to then say that the authorization to use force gives the administration limitless power is somewhat breathtaking.

But even better, Congress itself, post September 11, changed the FISA statute. Now - if, as Dubya and his Amokmitlaeufer argue, Congress had intended to get rid of the requirement of a warrant, why, then, would they later go about changing the time limits for getting a warrant?

[I would also argue that the 4th Amendment requires a warrant and that Congress and Dubya can't get rid of the requirement, period, but let's just look at Congressional intent.]

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

More lunacy

It's now increasingly clear that these protests really have nothing to do with religion and everything to do beating up the West. A mob in Afghanistan attempted to storm a U.S. military base, in protest over cartoons published in a private newspaper in a non-american country. Did anyone explain to them that the American government has nothing to do with it?

But what is really bugging me is the fact that here in North America, we're tying so hard to be sensitive to Muslim feelings that we're forgetting our own principles. Bush, for example, said that "We believe in a free press. We also recognize that with freedom comes responsibilities. With freedom comes the responsibility to be thoughtful about others."

Meanwhile, in Canada, Foreign Minister Peter MacKay "commend[s] those who have acted responsibly," presumably in not publishing the cartoons.

In PEI a student editor is in trouble for having published them.

The Washington Post also gets it wrong and attempts to ascribe as much blame to Europeans as to cynical Arab governments. It says that "Freedom of speech is not under threat" in Europe. Um, this shows precisely that it is. If a paper cannot print what it wants to print, irrespective of whom it will offend, freedom of speech is under assault. The Post talks of being sensitive to its minorities, not realizing that those minorities need to accept some basic aspects of Western society - like freedom of speech and conscience.

Meanwhile, the Europeans are standing up for their freedom, while we're backing down. The New York Times and the Post have both said that, out of concern for being sensitive, they did not publish the cartoons. Honestly, if they said "We haven't published the cartoons because, as much as we'd like to, we're afraid some nut job will start killing our staff or bombing our offices," I'd be okay with it. If they said, "Here in PEI we have two cops and they're busy catching potato thieves and Anne of Green Gables vandals, so we can't protect our little university from a screaming mob of semi-literate fanatics," that would really be a much better justification than "We need to be more sensitive to the beliefs of a bunch of fanatics who happen to think we should also ban gay marriage and lop off the hands of thieves."

But this craven approach is nonsense. The minute we start allowing ourselves to be sensitive, we are bowing to their demands. Has that approach ever been taken in North America with any other religion? We've seen plenty of cartoons blaspheming about Christianity or Judaism here and people get huffy but no newspaper says "we need to be more sensitive." [I'm using italics for the word sensitive to give it a sneer].

Likewise, how far can this go? What if a paper prints a cartoon mocking Chinese Communism? Is that not quite as bad? Where does the line get drawn - we have to be sensitive to religion but not political parties? We have to be careful about offending Muslims but it's okay to poke fun a those who practice voodoo? Catholic Church: Fair Game / Southern Baptists:Not?

Further, when I was sworn in as a US citizen, Dubya in his taped message, after telling me how great it was I can practice my faith, said that America was the "most free" country in the world. One of my family member was told by a coworker that America was better than Europeans because we were "more free" than them.

It seems to me that the tables have turned.

Self-censorship at mob demand is as bad as government censorship - it's just a different party doing the censoring.

Welcome back, voter cynicism!

Listening to CBC's The Current, a discussion about David Emerson, and increasingly, it just makes me sick.
A few points:
  • At least Boolinda served in her party's caucus for a while before switching, regardless of the perceived 'talent' of the person
  • Emerson's statements before and immediately after the election, regarding the ruin that Harper would bring to can this man now sleep?
  • All the people who donated money to Emerson's campaign, $100k, to help elect a Liberal, have just been slapped in the face. And robbed.
  • All the Liberal campaign workers who gave their time, as volunteers, to help elect Emerson, have just been slapped in the face.
  • All the Conservative campaign workers who gave their time, as volunteers, to help elect their own candidate, have just been slapped in the face.
  • All the NDP-minded voters who cast their ballots strategically for Emerson, to prevent a Conservative majority, well...they got what they deserve.
This is an absolute affront to democracy. Emerson must step down and run again in a by-election. Of course, he won't, because he has pissed off his riding, and they will punish him. Better to act and ask forgiveness, than to ask permission....
Emerson's riding has not elected a Conservative since the 1950s. They say all will be forgiven if he solves the softwood lumber dispute, if he delivers a great Olympics. A very tall order indeed. Let him try and redeem himself that way, if he chooses, and if he succeeds, great. But I hope the electors of Vancouver Kingsway remember what Emerson has done, to them and to democracy and relegate him to the dustbin of history.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mohammed on the Supreme Court

I just recalled that whenever theocons try to justify throwing up Ten Commandment displays wherever they can, they note that the Ten Commandments appear in the Supreme Court building.

And suddenly I remembered that the two times I've been there for oral argument, I've observed (confirmed by Supreme Court pamphlets describing the decor) visual representations of Mohammed.

Better watch out, Justices. The next thing to get torched is the Supreme Court building . . .

As a footnote, some might reply, "well, the picture is not offensive." But recall, many of the protesters are protesting not because the cartoons were offensive representations of Mohammed, but rather because Mohammed was represented at all.

Intolerance of Tolerance

This whole cartoon thing is just getting surreal.

First, we now have reports that the President of Iran is saying that the publication of those Mohammed cartoons is a Zionist plot to cause tension between Christians and Muslims. First, can we drop the Protocols of the Elders of Zion schtick? The only thing worse than the claim that the Jews have control over many major newspapers all over Europe is the fact that some people will believe this nonsense.

Then, an Iranian paper solicits Holocaust cartoons. They say that they want to see if the West holds up the same standards. I'll bet you my lovely office chair that you won't see screaming Jewish or Danish mobs attacking the Iranian embassy, saying all Iranians are now legitimate targets for Jihad, or demanding that the Iranian government shut down the paper (which, of course, it has the power to do).

This is just nuts. Let the Muslim world believe what it wants, and practice their faith however they want. But this attempt to import their standards on to nonbelivers is simply outrageous. What if Christians began rioting and attacking Arab embassies because Muslims refuse to celebrate Christmas? What if Jews began riots and burning down Western embassies because we all refuse to keep kosher? How about if Hindus ransacked the American embassy over the outrage of the amount of cow we eat? And how about the fact that the Christian cross is part of every Scandanavian flag that is being burned?

Let's also talk of tolerance. How many churches are there in Saudi Arabia? Exactly none. Ditto for synagogues.

At least some people are stepping up. Rex Murphy came out swinging yesterday:

Furthermore, they are insisting that their values and their codes apply outside their own religion and their own countries. It is astonishingly insolent. Considering the treatment that some of the press in some of these countries accord Christians and Jews -- a recent mini-series on the Protocols of The Elders of Zion in Lebanon and Egypt, the frequent anti-Semitic editorial cartoons -- it is levitatingly hypocritical, as well.

It is worth noting that however offensive the cartoons of the Prophet may have been, they cannot be as offensive as the many real suicide bombings that have been executed in the Prophet's name.

If portions of the Muslim world want to protest about a real offence against their religion they might radically take to the streets in great masses to condemn what fanatics do in the name of that religion.

He finishes:

Artists, writers and the press in the Western democracies have the right to create and write what they please. And so they must. It is why we are democratic. And no fundamentalism, of religion or any other variety, should be given the slightest leverage over that right.

The Washington Bureau Chief of the Die Zeit made an outstandingly articulate defence of the publication of the cartoons.

The sad part, he observes, is that some in the West are caving. In response to Bill Clinton's comment on "Anti-Islamic prejudice," he writes:

The former president has turned the argument upside down. In this jihad over humor, tolerance is disdained by people who demand it of others. The authoritarian governments that claim to speak on behalf of Europe's supposedly oppressed Muslim minorities practice systematic repression against their own religious minorities. They have radicalized what was at first a difficult question. Now they are asking not for respect but for submission. They want non-Muslims in Europe to live by Muslim rules. Does Bill Clinton want to counsel tolerance toward intolerance?

On Friday the State Department found it appropriate to intervene. It blasted the publication of the cartoons as unacceptable incitement to religious hatred. It is a peculiar moment when the government of the United States, which likes to see itself as the home of free speech, suggests to European journalists what not to print.

Exactly. Let them rail all the want against Western values. Let them demonstrate and chant. But violence and threats cross the line. If we in the West threatened violence over every single time that the West has been "insulted" in the Arab world, or for every time our values were violated, well, we'd have nothing to do other than cause violence.

Personally, as well, I'm less concerned by people in Arab countries rioting or denouncing our freedoms. The worst thing for me is the fact that people in Western countries are protesting - not just demonstrating saying they don't like the cartoons, but denouncing Western press freedoms. There have been countless protestors in London and other places with signs like "Damn your freedom" and "Execute the wrongdoers" and threatening terrorists attacks in London.

I've never been one of those "love it or leave it" types, but this makes me think that there are situations in which that does apply. In Canada, or the US, or the UK or Europe we who live here do disagree with one another. We can disagree passionately. But we all accept that we have the right to disagree. We all accept that we have the right to speak freely. If we suddenly have swaths of our population that reject that basic, fundamental value, what does it say about our abilities to get along? Should, then, we surrender the principles that make us great? Or should we increasingly demand of those who come to the shores of the West, or who live here (either as immigrants, or people with long lineages), "By taking part in our body politic, you accept certain things. You do not need to accept one religion. You do not need to accept the opinions of your neighbour. But you must respect his right to have those opinions. You must respect the freedom of ideas, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of others not to have your beliefs imposed upon them."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Pundit Hair Watch

A monday edition of the National's At Issue panel!
Well duh, a new PM and cabinet just got sworn in, said PM already alienated his base, sacrificed two of his party's principles (elected senate, accountability to voters) AND pissed off an entire riding.


First up on the agenda however, Chantal's hair. Hmm. No product, but she is brushing it differently.

Coyne, decent as always.

Where the hell is Wells?

Anyway. Hebert pointed out that evidently Harper doesn't believe in honeymoons, because he just blew it. Coyne's view is that although Harper may be reaching out to all the voters who didn't vote for the Conservatives, with their two moves today, they may have alienated everyone who did.

Consensus: Emerson is far more qualified than Boolinda to cross and walk into cabinet, but it's a slap in the face to the voters, arguably worse than the previous cases.

Coyne said Harper needs to call two by-elections immediately. Hebert thinks he can ride it out. Time will tell.

Coyne's final point: Emerson justified his switch by arguing that the Conservatives were moving to the centre, but the evidence, as given by arch-conservatives Toews in Justice and Flaherty in Finance, says otherwise.

With Emerson, the Tories are 1 vote strong. Hebert on the possibilities of an NDP-Conservative coalition: It's the most conservative cabinet she has seen in her lifetime, so it's unlikely.

I'll tell you what's unlikely: Hebert putting that damn product back in her hair!

Where oh where is Paul Wells?

Woops retracted

Earlier today, I posted on a curious mention by Coyne of a sensitive statistic regarding a Harper cabinet minister. Commenters asked questions. Statistic retracted. As is my post on the matter.


Gems from Harpers

Not Steven, but rather Harpers Magazine. Today's sampling of telling stats:

Percentage approval rating of Bill Clinton the day after impeachment and George W. Bush in November, respectively: 73, 37[The Gallup Organization (Princeton, N.J.)]

Percentage of Russians today who approve of the direction their country took under Stalin: 37[VCIOM (Moscow)]

Number of U.S. prisoners serving life sentences with no parole for crimes they committed while juveniles: 2,225[Human Rights Watch (N.Y.C.)]

Number of prisoners serving such sentences in all other countries
worldwide: 12[Human Rights Watch (N.Y.C.) ]

It's amazing how stats and numbers like that need no explanation.

Is anyone just a little scared . . .

. . . that Dubya might decide you're a terrorist suspect? Because apparently now Bush believes that in some cases it might be acceptable to kill someone living in the US suspected of being a terrorist.

Suspect. Not convicted. And we've seen how many times the Government has gotten it wrong. How many people in Gitmo have been released? What about Hamdam - originally charged with being a terrorist, and now facing much reduced charges? Given the Bush admin's policy of "lock them up first, figure out if they did anything wrong much later, if at all" I would rather they not adopt a policy of shooting first and asking later.

Dion's English

Adam Radwanski makes the oberservation today that Dion's lack of English will be a serious impediment to his candidacy.

I, for one, disagree. First, though being hobbled in English is more of a burden than in French, given the number of voters who speak each language, let's remember (as Mike B just pointed out to me) that Harper keeps promising to "couper les taxes." Count the mistakes.

But more importantly, I'd much rather have a candidate who has thoughts and is just unable to articulate them in one of the official languages, than a candidate who has no ideas but can make a lot of articulate hot air.

The last campaign showed Canadians are hungry for ideas - we crave some substance, we crave meaningful debate. I think Canadians will be turned on by Dion's seriousness and his policies, even if they have to hear it through a translator or read it translated in the papers.

How many Canadians listen to politicians live anyway? We get our news either through print, where everything is translated, or via television news, where there's voice-over. I think all of us in a bilingual country are completely used to hearing the voice of a translator and have no real issue with it.

The Stock, and Cities

A very minor point, but I thought that Stockwell Day's bow to the GG before he took his oath of office was a little scandalously not a bow.

Also: He got Turncoat Emerson to cross the floor, and then appointed Fortier to the Senate to put him in cabinet. It may be temporary, but that does go against Harper's pledge not to appoint to cabinet someone who was not elected. Two principles in one day. Well done.

But more importantly - Harper justified both breaches on the grounds of importance to have representation for Vancouver and Montreal in his Government.

What about Toronto?

More on Emerson

Wells and Coyne agree: Emerson needs to resign immediately.
I hope Emerson enjoys his brief stint in government, because the electorate is not usually fond of such blatant floor-crossing, Brison and Boolinda notwithstanding (the parties they left for had considerable support in the riding they represented. Emerson's riding, not so. The Conservatives placed third).
I wonder if Harper will bring in the cherished Reform principle of MP recall...

Settling scores

It's no coincidence that the worst rioting is occurring in Syria and Lebanon. The Star is reporting that nothing happens in Syria without the consent of the security apparatus and leadership. That it is happening in Beirut as well just confirms that Syria's reach still extends deep into the country, despite last year's withdrawal of Syrian forces. The consulate burning might just be Syria's way of getting revenge by embarassing Beirut's more independent-minded Western-friendly government and igniting anti-Western sentiment in the country. Why in Syria? So it looks more pan-Arab. With last year's car bombings, counter-rallies and assassinations, the obviousness of Syrian intelligence operations really is astonishing. Unfortunately, it is also effective.

Emerson the Turncoat

So, days after being elected as a Liberal, David Emerson changes sides.

With all the Tory gnashing of teeth that went on over Belinda (and the alleged attempted seduction of Grewal), it seems a touch hypocritical now.

But we urge our readers to keep one thing in mind: At least Belinda tried to make it work with the Tories. She ran for leader. She moved in the circles of Tory power and found herself increasingly marginalized. She tried to move the party to the centre (sidebar: I wonder how much of the Tory party now is the party she tried to make it - how many of the ideas and policies she advocated which were rejected are now being used?) and failed. She tried to make it work with Harper and it didn't.

Only after realizing that the Tories were increasingly out of synch with her beliefs and (given her re-election) those of the people in her riding, did she switch.

Emerson on the other hand ran under the Liberal banner. The people voted Liberal. And now, before Parliament even sits, before the seat of Martin's pants are cold, before the smell of Ablonczy's perfume fades from the benches on the Speaker's left, he says, "oh no, well, I think I should go Tory."

Perhaps he conforms to the worst stereotype of Liberals. He just didn't like not being in Government. Power for power's sake.

Disgusting, really.

Installing new cabinetry

I wonder if Harper's kids will be friends with Jean's daughter.
On to the cabinet....David Emerson, wow. And wow, so wrong. He just did a bait and switch on his constituents that totally outdoes Boolinda.
James Moore not in? Mistake! He owned the transport portfolio!
Stockwell Day as Minister of Public Safety...quite possibly a more frightening outcome than having him at Foreign Affairs.
Vic Toews at Justice...hmmm, trouble.
Tony Clement at Health....I'm not sure how this will go over in Ontario. He has both friends and enemies through the health-care system.
Peter Mackay at Foreign...good choice.
Gordon O'Connor at Defence...Hillier must be thrilled.
John Baird at Treasury Board...his cat Thatcher must be thrilled.
I love that the whole process, as far as news coverage goes, was over and done with in about 15 minutes. A far cry from the orgy of pageantry that is the US Presidential Inauguration.

Friday, February 03, 2006

I can't figure it out . . . oh, it must be God!

Do you ever have those days where you just can't figure out a problem? Daliah Lithwick has considered the issue and has discovered that we never need to answer any unknown mystery again - we can fall back on God.

Her logic is this: The proponents of Intelligent Design say that because there are some areas of evolutionary theory we haven't figured out yet, we can substitute in God to explain those areas.

Similarly, then, because there are certain aspects of Physics we've not unpuzzled, well, no need, God's there for us.

So from now on, when a partner asks me to figure out what Eastwood v. National Enquirer meant with its comments about knowing falsehoods, and I can't give an answer (there is none, the ruling is almost unquestionably wrong), I can just say, "Oh, that's easy. God."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Dwarf tossing

This is somewhat depressing, from Slate:

A Swedish study suggests taller boys get longer educations. Height was measured at age 18; additional years of education were measured afterward. Findings: 1) "The probability of achieving higher education in later life increases linearly with height." 2) "Men taller than 194 cm (6 ft 4 in) were two to three times more likely to obtain a higher education when compared with men shorter than 165 cm." The correlation persisted when IQ and social background were factored out. Researchers' speculation: We discriminate against short kids by expecting less of them. (For Human Nature's update on a drug that can make kids taller, click here.)

It gets better, re Arab hysteria

So now, apparently, Palestinian militants issued a threat against citizens of Denmark and Norway where the drawings were first published. "All nationals and those who work in the diplomatic corps of these countries can be considered targets of the Popular Resistance Committee and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades," the statement said, according to

Let me get something straight. A private newspaper publishes a cartoon, and as a result, every Dane and Norwegian can now be killed.

Well, let's take that logic one step further. A Palestinian militant kills a Dane. According to that logic, any other Palestinian is now a legitimate target for criminal sanction or retaliation.

Or one of these Martyrs Brigade types blows himself up in a Jerusalem marketplace. By their own logic, the Palestinian people - or even, perhaps, Muslims as a whole - are collectively guilty.

Perhaps that's a road they don't really want to go down.

So these people, all (legitimately) up in arms that muslims as a whole sometimes get blamed for Sept. 11, now suggest that the same be true for nationals of countries were non-governmental organizations do something they don't like.

Disguisting Republican Principles

During the Tyrant's Speech from the Balcony to the Thronging Crowds State of the Union Address, two people were tossed out for wearing T-Shirts.

One was Cindy Sheehan, whose shirt commented on the number of dead in Iraq.

The other was the wife of a Republican Congressman from Florida. Hers said "Support our Troops."

Both were ejected, though only Sheehan was arrested.

However, Congressman Young is upset his wife was tossed out. But he says he would have had no problem had just Sheehan been ejected.

A remarkable take on Republicans' idea of free speech, really: It's okay, as long as it's what we want to hear.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Thank god people are standing up to stupidity

This is heartening - those Danish cartoons that caused such gnashing of teeth in the Arab world have now been reprinted in German and French newspapers. (One wishes that the Globe would have the cojones to do the same).

As this corner has argued before, people really need to get over themselves. I participated in a conversation in the comments page of the Washington Post and it was amazing what people would come up with.

Some people, with totally straight faces, said that Muslims never insult anyone else's religion. Right. There's never, ever been an offensive cartoon about Jews in any Arab paper. Oh no. Gays have never been vilified.

One posted had the audacity to tell me that in any Arab world, it's okay to insult any king, politician, president, dictator-for-life (itself a completely risible claim - calling Assad an asshole ended you up in the oubliette), but not Mohammed. Okay, maybe in your country it isn't. In ours, it is.

People in the west don't go kicking in stores and beating people up and every time a newspaper says something offensive.

Also, many commentators couldn't get over the Iraq war - the rationale: because you invaded us, every time we don't like something, we can riot.

First: forget that Denmark, last I checked, wasn't a member of the coalition of the browbeaten (nor Germany nor France nor Canada). We're not talking about the Danish government - we're talking about a private newspaper.

Think what you want about the war in Iraq - this poster, for one, believes it was wrong. But that doesn't mean that every time a cartoon is published that you don't like, you can resort to violence.

Grow up. Mohammed's a big guy, and I'm sure, like me, he can take it like a man. All those getting hot under the collar should do the same - and at least take a look in their own papers for similar cartoons about Jews, Christians, Homos, Athiests, Women, etc. . .