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.