Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
First: Alaska is a state with no income tax and no sales tax. Instead, the state government imposes massive taxes on oil companies, and then uses that to finance the state budget, run massive surpluses, and send a big fat cheque to every last Alaskan (Palin increased this by $1200 while she was governor). NOW: Let's say Obama (or any Dem) proposed cutting federal income tax to zero and then taxing every business some huge amount and sending cheques to everyone (ahem, Bush stimulus package). The Republicans would shriek bloody murder. But then consistency has never been the hallmark of the Republican party, and anyway, no one really minds kicking oil companies around (sort of like teh gaiz).
Second: Of course some sort of wealth re-distribution is natural in a modern state. Some might say using taxes to pay for public services is a form of it (you know, roads, sewers, schools, etc.) Without that, the rich would pay to have their own schools and roads and the poor would simply be shut out on dirt roads homeskooling their kids (sort of like in the entire south, of course).
So unless the Republicans are proposing some sort of state that uses taxes only to fund wars and nothing else, they should really shut the fuck up about re-distribution because that's the way it's been ever since the first person or company was taxed, which has, of course, been going on for quite some time now. Like thousands of years.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Grow up. It isn't the case that only naturalize citizens can be critical of their country. A) I emigrated when Clinton was president and things were better then; B) I'm a citizen and it's my right to criticize; C) I'm in the highest tax bracket; D) There's a lot that's great and good here; E) Everyone should be trying to make their country better and not accept it simply as is; F) My life, job, family, friends, and assets are here.
*and if you don't get what a "moran" is, google it. Eesh.
YOU PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT SOCIALISM IS.
You equate it with communism, with totalitarianism. Not with true Democratic socialism, that, in fact, doesn't lead to tyranny, doesn't lead to, oh, I wonder, the suspension of ancient liberties like in this country. Strangely, the great modern socialist states--which would be Canada, the Netherlands, Scandinavia--don't actually torture their citizens or other people's citizens. Strangely, too, they don't engage in unprovoked wars.
Oh and they appear to have balanced budgets and roads that work and they can build opera centres and their bridges don't fall down and they clothe and feed their people while strangely being vibrant democracies with more than 2 parties.
I thought I was a conservative and un-socialist, until I moved here to see how fucking terrible it is without it.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Please, please, please stop with calling the bailout socialism. No one who's not a blinkered conservative can claim that.
If it were socialism, there would be some better stake for taxpayers. State-owned companies work to the benefit of their shareholders, i.e. the people: the people share both the risk of failure as well as the benefit of success.
Here, Wall street benefits when times are good, but the taxpayer is on the hook when it's bad.
I've said it to you before and I'll say again, this is not socialism. There is simply no upside to the consumer (apart, maybe, from the economy collapsing but that isn't what I mean). Wall street executives made huge gambles, made big profits for themselves, and now that it's all falling apart, the taxpayer is on the hook. It's not socialism, but it's a sure sign that the U.S. has become a kleptocracy.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
But then I got to thinking. It's the '00s. Everything is being recorded. All my friends have digital cameras, pocket sized ones that we take everywhere. There are pictures of me doing all sorts of things posted all over the internet--parties, events, dinners, sporting things.
And it's not really all that fair to judge Palin for being a terrible flutist or looking ridiculous in a bathing suit and big hair. Because, lord knows, if I every run for office, all someone will have to do is pull out one of my Hallowe'en albums and I'm toast. Like the one Hallowe'en where a group of us wore football pants and shoulder pads and that was it? Or our impending costume this year . . .?
It reminds me a little of the book by Arthur C. Clarke, "The Light of Other Days." There, a device is invented that basically creates little wormholes the user can look through--to see anyone, anywhere, at any time in the past or present. The point of the story is "what happens when all privacy is taken away, completely." Some respond by not caring--by being naked all the time, having sex in public, having no secrets at all. Others respond by finding cloaking devices and trying to escape.
I guess my point is that we're going to have to face this question in the future: Everone has a myspace or facebook page. Everyone that's not a boring Christian in North Dakota has embarassing pictures posted somewhere, or in someone else's possession. I hope we get to a place where all that stops mattering--that we accept that, as a price of living in an interconnected world, we lose some of our privacy. We all have stuff that will make us look bad, but maybe that will help us start judging people on substance and not on whether they got drunk at a party 20 years previously.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
And that got me thinking: Where are those great national projects now? With $700 billion going to bail out some investment banks, and $1 billion being spent every day on the war in Iraq (I grabbed that number today from the NYT's Thomas Friedman)--think of what we could do with that money! Meanwhile, our bridges fall down, our cities get smited, health care sucks, social security is in trouble. Anyone who's recently been to JFK or LaGuardia or LAX and then flown to, say, Hong Kong's new airport, or even Pearson's beautiful new terminal 1 will know how little we're paying attention to infrastructure here.
With $700 billion, could we cure AIDS?
With $700 billion, could we find a real cure or treatment for cancer?
With $700 billion, could we not create the finest school system in the world, instead of falling further and further behind?
Isn't the point of taxes that they get spent on things to make the country as a whole better? Aren't they the price of living in a modern state?
But no, if we weren't bailing out Wall St. and fighting the war in Iraq, all we'd hear would be tax cuts tax cuts.
And our bridges would continue to fall.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Most notably, the Québec Act allowed the free practice of Catholicism in Québec, and modified the oath of allegiance in order to allow Catholics to hold office in the government. It was another 50 years before Catholics in England would be granted the full freedom provided under the Québec Act.This pragmatic approach turned out to be effective in Québec, but it was definitely contentious elsewhere. The Québec Act was among the provocations that led to the revolution in the Thirteen Colonies to the south. It was denounced both by the First Continental Congress, and in the text of the Declaration of Independence itself. But the challenges of governing a New World territory such as Québec simply could not be ignored, and the Colonial administration wisely chose the controversial but pragmatic solution that included religious tolerance and minority accommodation. In a sense, this policy was vindicated to the extent that the colonies that would later join the Canadian confederation declined to participate in the revolution that broke out in the American colonies.
Note that the Yankees denounced the Quebec Act--which allowed the free practice of religion in Canada.
Fuck you, Yankee savages, when you talk about American freedom. Whether it was religion in the 1770s or torture now, you're wrong. And you have always been. You aren't more free than we are; you just persuade yourself that you are. And fuck you too, Yankee barbarians, that the idea of religion or creation is even an issue in schools now.
And remember we stopped slavery almost a hundred years before you killed each other to try to save it. Barbarians. You're the only serious country that actually debates abortion and health care. And nominates some idiot to be your VP.
But then, you also re-elected Bush.
Dissing American barbarians aside, this is a more affirmative point:
Somewhere among the examples of France, with its civil law heritage, Britain with its common law and unwritten constitution and the United States, with its melting pot and its near-absolute framework of rights, Canada forged its own unique constitutional settlement. In doing so, it honoured a proud New World tradition of pragmatism and accommodation. Moreover, these initiatives went beyond lofty pronouncements in constitutional documents. Commissions and tribunals were established to ensure that citizens whose constitutional rights had been violated could obtain a meaningful remedy.
And isn't that the point. American law is lofty in sentiment, but the little dude ends up fucked. We actually make it happen. Examples (aside: anyone advocating "this is our national language and all golf players and school kids must only speak it" would be laughed at as a lunatic):
I am thinking of the extent to which our parliamentary institutions have strived to ensure the accommodation of persons with disabilities – both for members of the public and members of the assembly. We see the use of sign language in television broadcasts of parliamentary proceedings, level access to public areas and to the Chamber alike. In the Senate, I recall the example of Senator Gauthier, whose full participation in debate in the Chamber and in committees was accommodated by the provision of real-time transcription, which allowed him to overcome his severe hearing impairment. I think of my colleague in the House of Commons, Steven Fletcher, the first quadriplegic Member of Parliament in our history. He has been elected, and re-elected, in Winnipeg. The House of Commons took steps to ensure that he is able to participate fully as a member in the Commons and in its committees, and as a Parliamentary Secretary to a Minister. Making this possible required pragmatic accommodation on a “micro” level. This included modifying the rule that excludes “strangers” in order to allow an assistant to sit with Mr. Fletcher on the floor of the House. These are specific cases, but they are not merely anecdotes. They are illustrations of the extent to which the impulse to accommodate has entered our collective consciousness – not just on an abstract and theoretical plane, but in every day real-world situations.
Fuck you, rest of the world. You got it wrong. You've slaughtered each other and locked each other out of your schools and courts and water fountains, all because you can't handle someone with a different language or colour or religion or slaves. I'm looking at you, Africa, Yugoslavia, the US, continental Europe. Oh ya and everywhere else too. I'm not saying Canada got it all right. But let no one lecture us about tolerance. And the next time some idiot says "We (speak different languages)(practice different faiths)(are different ethnic groups) (come from different tribes) (etc)" I'll point out that the most advanced, just, kind, progressive country that has ever existed manages all of that. Without killing each other.
Some of you backwards foreigners could bomb our cities to the stone age. You could never rebuild them.
You think you win on the strength of your arms; we will win with the strength of our ideas, the breadth of our minds, and the size of our hearts.
And one day Canadians will wake up and realize we are the most privileged and blessed 33 million people that have ever existed, and the only people that will have it better are our children.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
She didn’t say “no thanks” to the “Bridge to Nowhere” until after Congress had already abandoned it but given Alaska a blank check for $223 million in taxpayers’ money anyway. Far from rejecting federal pork, she hired lobbyists to secure her town a disproportionate share of earmarks ($1,000 per resident in 2002, 20 times the per capita average in other states). Though McCain claimed “she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities,” she has never issued a single command as head of the Alaska National Guard. As for her “executive experience” as mayor, she told her hometown paper in Wasilla, Alaska, in 1996, the year of her election: “It’s not rocket science. It’s $6 million and 53 employees.” Her much-advertised crusade against officials abusing their office is now compromised by a bipartisan ethics investigation into charges that she did the same.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Rudy, who built his career on being Mayor of NYC during 9/11, thinks the Mayor of Wasilla is equal to the task:In an interview Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Giuliani was asked, "If she were the president on 9/11, you would have been confident?"Inside, it must make Rudy seethe to compare himself to the Mayor of Wasilla. NYC has neighbhorhoods and housing complexes with more people than Wasilla.
Giuliani responded: "I'd be confident that she'd be able to handle it. She's been a governor of a state, she's been mayor of a city."
She's good on defence because Alaska is close to Russia. She'll be a good commander in chief because she commanded the national guard of Alaska (which has been refuted--she never made a single decision). And now, because she was mayor of a town of what, 20 people? she could handle a major terrorist attack on the biggest city in the country.
The worst part is people buy this shit.
First, for Fred Thompson to call out Barak Obama for being inexperienced is a touch ironic.
But more importantly, for him to talk about deficits, about America's standing in the world is nonsense. Who was President when there was a surplus?
And to call out the Congress for being dysfunctional was funny too, since Republicans have basically made it clear that they'll filibuster anything they don't like. It's like Tories in Canada complaining that Parliament doesn't work when they are the ones with a 200 page book on how to disrupt committees.
The problem is Americans and Republicans believe this nonsense.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Greatest country in the world? Land of promise?
We raise our country out of the cold wasteland. We created the gentlest, kindest, most tolerant society that has ever existed. We have universal healthcare. We care for our poor. We allow gay marriage.
I grant that the US ain't bad. I live here, after all.
But the idea that somehow it's so amazingly more exceptional than we are is ridiculous.
We didn't build our greatness--our little, tiny, small country's greatness--on slavery.
We didn't spend years slaughtering each other.
We were cruel to our aboriginals, but we didn't engage in wholesale slaughter.
Our minorities could vote earlier.
And so, out of the cold, the misery, the snow, the darkness, and faced for almost our entire civilization's existence by the terror of the invasion of the most powerful state in the world, we survived. We threw them back. Our society is the rebuke to the planet that two languages and at least two religions must hate each other.
The only metric the beat us in is their ability to bomb us into the stone age.
They will never beat us on justice, they will never beat us in tolerance, they will never beat us in class mobility, and they will never beat us in caring for our people.
And so when some idiot Yankee politician says the US is the most free and the greatest and with the greatest potential, let us show them our shining, just, safe, gun-free, tolerant and radiant cities are the irrefutable proof that they aren't the only ones who got it right.
We just did it better.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
So, Happy Canada Day! And God save the Queen.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
If we manage to erase one hideously bad idea from our collective memories of the law in the war on terror, please, please let it be this one: Legal questions are neither "hard," nor "novel," nor "open" merely because someone at the White House didn't like the legal answer that followed them. Easy questions don't morph into tough ones just because you can find some guy willing to argue the other side. And if—as both Sands and Lederman have observed—Haynes and his colleagues shut down efforts by Jane Dalton, the legal adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to review the techniques, then we truly are witnessing something astonishing: Haynes turned an easy legal question into a hard one by avoiding it altogether.
If we could broadcast these videos across the state, and people could see that it isn't just a 'lifestyle' and we're not aberrations and that love is love is love is love, I hope I have enough faith in the goodness of people that we would crush this attempt to amend our constitution.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
So I say let's all order them and burn them. Their web site says that resources are "limited," and each one they send to us is one bite in those resources (they're free). So order them here.
And, of course, I used a porn star name to sign up.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
And, for all Sullivan's "pioneer of equality" horseshit, Halpern came almost a year before the Massachusetts decision.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
In commenting on Norway becoming the sixth country to legalize gay marriage (Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, South Africa, Spain being the others), he makes this stupid statement:
Next week, California - only marginally smaller in population than Spain and South Africa - will join the list. Added to Massachusetts, more gay people will be able to marry in the US than in any other country in the world. In the end, America still came through as the pioneer of full equality.Whaaaaaat? In what way is that statement even marginally correct?
First, the absolute numbers don't matter. What matters is the percentage of the population. Ever last gay person in The Six can get married. In the US, it's a tiny fraction of the population.
Second, "pioneer of full equality"? Such nonsense. For every state that has legalized gay marriage, there are 11 with constitutional bans (23 total) and 8 that ban it by statute (17 total).
It might well get banned in California. And it's not getting better any time soon.
The US holds itself out as a role model for freedom but it's a johnny-come-lately most of the time. Think slavery, interracial marriage, women's suffrage, and letting black people vote.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
But we are decades from where we 'mos have a chance at anything.
Tory tyranny (and closeted ministers aside, that's you John Baird) aside, at least in civilization have we had gay cabinet ministers (yes, Scott, we knew you were staring at my and Mike's shirtless asses) and candidates for premierships that were on our team.
The simple fact is it's not okay to be racist but homophobia--under many guises (family values, tradition, etc)--is still okay.
We are still not safe. I said to a friend tonight that I lack understanding because urban people are on our side, rural hicks NSM, but at home we are far more urbanized than here.
Liberation came in California, on one front, but we are not safe, and we are not free, yet.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
But the best part is, above and beyond the fact he doesn't answer the question (the "it's different, just like summer and winter are different" is teh awesome), is the fact that the best attorney Fox could dig up is a guy who has a felony conviction for beating up his ex-wife's boyfriend!
Anyway, I wrote to him. A bit bitchy, but what the hell. And his record of suspension comes afterwards. Onwards:
Good job on the Bill O'Reilly show. "It's different" sure is a compelling argument for restricting same sex marriage, isn't it? Or course, convicted felons are different, too, which seems to me to be a compelling reason to keep you from voting or getting married.
Oh yeah, and what part of constitutional law didn't you pay attention to? There's no federal question in the opinion, at all. Did you read the opinion? None if it is based on federal law, at all. But then, spouting out nonsense legal mumbo-jumbo is a lot easier than reading a dense opinion and actually understanding such lofty issues as constitutional law and questions of state versus federal law.
And the justices didn't insert "gay marriage" into the California Constitution. They ruled that gay people are entitled to equal protection under the constitution. Maybe down in the 4th tier they don't teach that little distinction, but the justices expressly didn't find a right to same sex marriage, only that gay people are entitled to the same rights as straight people to marry. A subtle difference, but hey, isn't that what our profession is all about?
And also, "same sex marriages are a suspect class"? No, that wasn't the decision either. A "thing" can't be a suspect class, but rather a specific, recognizable characteristic, like, oh, say, gender, and race. But same sex marriages?It sort of amuses me that you have a family law practice and can't even get that one right. (Oh and that you beat your wife's boyfriend.)
And the people have determined they don't want it? Um, how about the legislature--which represents the people--more recently passing gay marriage.
Anyway, you did our profession a lot of credibility with your utter inability to even make a credible argument other than "it's just different." And to have Bill O'Reilly actually tell you you have to have a "cogent reason," given Fox is pretty good at finding "cogent reasons" for the usual nonsense they spout.
But that aside, glad to see you're back allowed to practice law. Hopefully I'll run into you in court one day--or rather, hopefully for my clients. Because while the religious set usually can handle "it's just different," I suspect as a legal argument that just isn't going to cut it.
January 10, 2003
DONALD PHILIP SCHWEITZER [#166412], 43, of Pasadena was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on 36 months of probation with a 60-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. Credit toward the actual suspension will be given for an interim suspension which began July 14, 2002. The order took effect Jan. 10, 2003.
Schweitzer pleaded guilty to felony assault, a charge later reduced to a misdemeanor. He had an ongoing custody battle with his estranged wife and one evening entered her apartment and beat her boyfriend. Schweitzer broke his hand in the assault and the victim suffered jaw pain and significant bleeding.
The criminal conduct did not involve moral turpitude.
In mitigation, he has no record of discipline in nine years, was having severe family problems at the time that affected his emotional state, and reports involvement in community activities. His actions cost him his job as an Orange County deputy district attorney.
June 14, 2002
DONALD PHILIP SCHWEITZER [#166412], 43, of Norwalk was placed on interim suspension June 14, 2002, following a conviction for. The suspension ended Sept. 12 and he returned to active status. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The opinion starts with a lot of throat clearing, and it's not till about the tenth page that it becomes clear what way the court is going. I was frantically skimming it, and I literally burst into tears when I finally saw this glorious phrase:
At the end, the Court summaries its points, and they are good ones:
We therefore conclude that in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples.
Although the understanding of marriage as limited to a union of a man and a woman is undeniably the predominant one, if we have learned anything from the significant evolution in the prevailing societal views and official policies toward members of minority races and toward women over the past half-century, it is that even the most familiar and generally accepted of social practices and traditions often mask an unfairness and inequality that frequently is not recognized or appreciated by those not directly harmed by those practices or traditions. It is instructive to recall in this regard that the traditional, well-established legal rules and practices of our not-so-distant past (1) barred interracial marriage, (2) upheld the routine exclusion of women from many occupations and official duties, and (3) considered the relegation of racial minorities to separate and assertedly equivalent public facilities and institutions as constitutionally equal treatment. As the United States Supreme Court observed in its decision in Lawrence v. Texas, supra, 539 U.S. 558, 579, the expansive and protective provisions of our constitutions, such as the due process clause, were drafted with the knowledge that "times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress." For this reason, the interest in retaining a tradition that excludes an historically disfavored minority group from a status that is extended to all others — even when the tradition is long-standing and widely shared — does not necessarily represent a compelling state interest for purposes of equal protection analysis.
After carefully evaluating the pertinent considerations in the present case, we conclude that the state interest in limiting the designation of marriage exclusively to opposite-sex couples, and in excluding same-sex couples from access to that designation, cannot properly be considered a compelling state interest for equal protection purposes. To begin with, the limitation clearly is not necessary to preserve the rights and benefits of marriage currently enjoyed by opposite-sex couples. Extending access to the designation of marriage to same-sex couples will not deprive any opposite-sex couple or their children of any of the rights and benefits conferred by the marriage statutes, but simply will make the benefit of the marriage designation available to same-sex couples and their children. As Chief Judge Kaye of the New York Court of Appeals succinctly observed in her dissenting opinion in Hernandez v. Robles, supra, 855 N.E.2d 1, 30 (dis. opn. of Kaye, C.J.): "There are enough marriage licenses to go around for everyone." Further, permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not alter the substantive nature of the legal institution of marriage; same-sex couples who choose to enter into the relationship with that designation will be subject to the same duties and obligations to each other, to their children, and to third parties that the law currently imposes upon opposite-sex couples who marry. Finally, affording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs. (Cal. Const., art. I, § 4.)While retention of the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples is not needed to preserve the rights and benefits of opposite-sex couples, the exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage works a real and appreciable harm upon same-sex couples and their children. As discussed above, because of the long and celebrated history of the term "marriage" and the widespread understanding that this word describes a family relationship unreservedly sanctioned by the community, the statutory provisions that continue to limit access to this designation exclusively to opposite-sex couples — while providing only a novel, alternative institution for same-sex couples — likely will be viewed as an official statement that the family relationship of same-sex couples is not of comparable stature or equal dignity to the family relationship of opposite-sex couples. Furthermore, because of the historic disparagement of gay persons, the retention of a distinction in nomenclature by which the term "marriage" is withheld only from the family relationship of same-sex couples is all the more likely to cause the new parallel institution that has been established for same-sex couples to be considered a mark of second-class citizenship. Finally, in addition to the potential harm flowing from the lesser stature that is likely to be afforded to the family relationships of same-sex couples by designating them domestic partnerships, there exists a substantial risk that a judicial decision upholding the differential treatment of opposite-sex and same-sex couples would be understood as validating a more general proposition that our state by now has repudiated: that it is permissible, under the law, for society to treat gay individuals and same-sex couples differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals and opposite-sex couples.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
A reader writes:
I live in SD and I am a candidate for the State House. I was out walking my district last month and spoke to a woman about the primary. She has a statue of the Virgin Mary in her front yard and was wearing several crosses around her neck. Here is our conversation:
Woman: "I don't know about that Obama guy."
Me: "I'm an Obama supporter, do you mind if I ask what you're unsure about."
Woman: "He's a muslim and there is a biblical prophecy that a muslim will take over our country and destroy the world."
Me: "You're aware he is not a Muslim."
Woman: "He can say anything he wants."
Friday, May 09, 2008
Question: As you may know, Stephane Dion is the leader of the federal Liberal Party, Stephen Harper is the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Jack Layton is the leader of the federal NDP, Gilles Duceppe is the leader of the Bloc Quebecois and Elizabeth May is the leader of the federal Green Party. Which of the federal leaders would you best describe as:
(The numbers in parenthesis denotes the change from the previous Nanos Research survey completed in February 2008 (90 day change).)
The most trustworthy leader
Stephen Harper 31 (+1)
Stephane Dion 14 (NC)
Jack Layton 14 (-7)
Elizabeth May 5 (-3)
Gilles Duceppe 4 (-2)
None of them/Undecided 32 (+12)
The most competent leader
Stephen Harper 39 (NC)
Stephane Dion 12 (-4)
Jack Layton 11 (-4)
Gilles Duceppe 5 (-1)
Elizabeth May 1 (-2)
None of them/Undecided 32 (+10)
The leader with the best vision for Canada's future
Stephen Harper 31 (-1)
Stephane Dion 14 (-3)
Jack Layton 14 (-4)
Elizabeth May 4 (-2)
Gilles Duceppe 3 (NC)
None of them/Undecided 35 (+11)
This illustrates why I hate polls. Three completely different questions have been asked about the leaders, and yet, the answers essentially breakdown the same way for each! On the question of trustworthiness, did the person answering the question really think about their answer? What is trustworthiness? Trust in what? That they tell the truth? Recent polls on the Cadman affair and In-N-Out scandal have shown that a majority of Canadians don't believe Harper's version of events. But he's the most trustworthy. On competence, the Prime Minister, regardless of party, usually scores highest. We've never seen Layton or Dion or Duceppe in a position to run the country. Gilles Duceppe should obviously score low for his vision of Canada's future. But Elizabeth May only has 1 point higher? Do the people being polled even know what her vision is? I'd say it is just as clear to the public's as is Harper's vision (or lack thereof). What is most striking is that there is little to no variation in the answers, regardless of the question. Aside from Dion's score, the numbers appear to track national party standings.
It would seem that all this poll is asking is which leader Canadians like most. It doesn't matter what the question is, its just a popularity contest. Stupid politically unsophisticated media-illiterate Canadians apparently aren't capable of separating their dislike of a candidate from performing an objective appraisal of each leader's qualities.
And yet, these polls come out, time and time again, their value dubious at most, except as fodder for lazy journalists to do hit-and-run jobs on various politicians.
Idiot polling, idiot answers. It is any wonder that Canadian politics now tends towards pandering to the lowest common denominator in a policy-free race to the bottom?
Thursday, May 08, 2008
“You know we are very close to Quebec, but I'll tell you we also love Canada very much,” Mr. Sarkozy told Gov.-Gen. Michaëlle Jean as they paid homage to fallen Canadian soldiers from the Second World War.
“Our friendships and our loyalties do not oppose one another. We bring them together so each can understand what we have in common. We will turn toward the future so the future of Canada and France will be the future of two countries that are not only allies, but two friends.”
. . .Mr. Sarkozy thanked Canada and the country's soldiers for making the “supreme sacrifice.”
“And those who died here, no one asked them from which region [of Canada] they came,” Mr. Sarkozy said.
“We knew from which country they came. We didn't even ask them which language they spoke.”
First, NPR replayed the classic Hillary line of "If we had the Republican system, I would be the nominee already." That's so stupid I don't think it even merits a response.
Second, she then said "We have to look at who's more electable."
Well, if that were the case, why bother having primaries at all? Why not just have a committee that runs focus groups and says, okay, this is the nominee?
Then came her minion, who kept going with all sorts of different ways to win the nomination. Like seating Michigan and Florida. (Terri Gross shot him down nicely with the "well, that won't make a difference with the popular vote count, will it?")
Basically, Hillary wants the rules to mean whatever works to get her elected.
We've had 7 years of a president who doesn't believe the rules apply to him. I don't want any more of that.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
See his nonsensical rant here, wherein he compares Buddhists to Islamic terrorists (you need to look at this post to get the link), talks about how George Bush (personally) is the first to offer aid "and freedom" to people around the world (just ask the Sudanese), how Dubya's daughter is beautiful and "not a dyck (sic)" and how Dubya is a symbol of freedom and we should respect his wonderful family.
I love this comment: Dubya is "the first to offer aid, whether to the Iraqi people and their freedom. . . ."
Oh yes, Jonathon, the junta in Myanmar is decidedly not muslim. Funny, not all brown-skinned people--or dictators--are.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Okay--before the right wing nut jobs blow a gasket, I acknowledge that a) giving aid is good, and b) yes, a country can condition aid on anything it likes.
But, let's see: The ruling junta of Burma (and no, I'm not calling it Myanmar. You have your freedom fries, I get my Burma) are notoriously paranoid about outside organizations coming into the country. George Bush is notoriously famous for meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. If Dubya really wanted to give aid, maybe he could just shut up about the "freedom freedom freedom" thing, for once.
Update--Laura's good at it too. From Dan Froomkin:
When a country run by a despotic and isolationist regime is laid low by a massive natural disaster, the diplomatic thing to do is to respond with a show of compassion. Not kick 'em when they're down.Well done, Laura!
More than 22,000 people have died in the staggering devastation caused by this weekend's cyclone in Burma. But when First Lady Laura Bush made her first-ever visit to the White House briefing room yesterday, to talk about what's going on in that country, it was not to deliver a message of goodwill.
Rather than announce the launch of a massive relief effort that could take advantage of a rare diplomatic opening, the first lady instead tossed insults at Burma's leaders, blamed them for the high death toll, and lashed out at their decision to move forward with a constitutional referendum scheduled for this Saturday.
Friday, May 02, 2008
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Much has happened in the five years since President Bush flew aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in "Top Gun" style, stood under a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished" and proudly declared: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended."
Five years ago, the national debt was $6.5 trillion. Now it's $9.3 trillion. Five years ago, your average gallon of gas cost $1.44. Now it costs $3.57. Five years ago, Bush's job-approval rating was at 70 percent. Now it's at 28.
Five years ago, Bush's appearance on the carrier was widely hailed as a brilliant PR move, imbuing the president with the aura of a conquering hero. Now, it's possibly the single most potent image of Bush's hubris.
One thing that's not so different: Five years ago, there were about 150,000 American troops in Iraq. Now there are slightly more.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Let's also do the math: My car has an 18 gallon tank. Federal tax is currently something like 19 cents/gallon. For me, that's a $3.42 saving per fill up. How about we just give everyone a free Starbucks latte instead?
And, I'm sorry--Americans already have the lowest gas prices in the world. What, Americans, do you think you have a god-given right to have cheap gas and drive huge fuel-inefficient cars for eternity? As far as I'm concerned, higher gas prices are a good thing, since if people finally start realizing that fuel efficiency and public transit are good things, we might actually see more of those (and we can take away the stupid campaign shills of "reduce our dependence on foreign oil.")
And also, how pathetic of you saying you're there for the working man? Listening to you try to empathize with some guy who lost his job, when you've never been laid off in your life? [Full disclosure, nor have I. But I don't hide my elitism.]
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Cheney is claiming that he is utterly immune from any sort of congressional oversight.
As sad as this evidence that we have become an autocracy, what is worse is that I think the administration and its gang can get away with the insanity (including Cheney's conflicting claims as to what part of government he is) because the American people are either too stupid or too apathetic to actually care about the descent into totalitarianism.
Cheney has refused to let anyone from his office testify as to the authorization of torture. To which Conyers replied:
Presumably, you believe that whatever actions you took were necessary and comported with the law; in such circumstances, I cannot imagine why you would decline to appear and set the record straight. The American people deserve no less.
The Republicans will burn in hell for letting Bush get away with this for 6 years, but the Democrats will be right behind them for having been such pussies for those 6 years.
Can we talk about food crises?
Can we talk about the appalling deficit that no one seems to care is going to sink the economy? (I recall back when Canada was running deficits the WSJ suggested we were on the bring of being 3d world. Um.)
Can we talk about Bush's stupid statement today that he has sent all sorts of proposals to Congress to fix the economy? And that he's claiming it's the Democrats' fault?
Can we talk about health care?
Can we talk about Iraq?
No. Bowling scores matter more than policy.
And that the masses seem to lap this shit up only speaks to their stupidity and that voting should be restricted to those who actually understand the issues.
Greenwald gets it right:
I think the most important thing to note about the Jeremiah Wright Story is that we're a Nation plagued by exceedingly few significant problems; blessed with a quite healthy political culture and very trusted political and media institutions; composed of a citizenry that is peacefully content with its Government and secure and confident about their future; endowed with a supremely sturdy economic foundation free of debt and other grave economic afflictions; vested with the ability to command great respect and admiration from the other nations of the world; emancipated by the burdens of war and intractable conflicts which have toppled and destroyed so many other great nations of the past; and, most of all, we're becoming freer and more prosperous by the minute.
. . .
So it isn't as though we really have anything else to talk about besides Jeremiah Wright. There are some countries in the world -- probably most -- which have so many big problems that they could ill-afford to devote much time and energy to a matter of this sort. Thankfully, the United States isn't one of them. I believe it's critical that we keep that in mind as we discuss him for the next seven months.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Seriously, I have no faith in the Democratic party to get this election right. We couldn't win an election against Bush, who ranks among the worst presidents ever (something we knew in 2004). Against McCain, who lacks his baggage, with all the current infighting and the inevitable disillusionment that will result from the losing camp, I don't think we have a prayer.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
It was the Conservatives who stood up in Parliament recklessly smeared the arbiter of our remarkably fair and trusted elections process, and suggested this was all part of a Liberal-RCMP-CBC-Elections Canada conspiracy. Just as the Conservatives have accused any and all respected institutions in this country who dare stand up to them (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for example) of being part of some vast left-wing conspiracy.
When she isn't writing yet another column bashing Dion, (a full chronicling of her obsession here), Hebert is either cynically dismissing Conservative scandals as inconsequential or shooting the messenger who first brought them to light.
Chantal, this blog's days of respecting your opinion are over. And let's not get started on your hair.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Conversely, should she [Clinton] win by 10 points or more, the race could fundamentally change at this late hour and the Illinois senator's inability to win another large state, which will loom large in the 2008 general election, will give Clinton an enormous boost for a final sprint.This makes absolutely zero sense. It's not as bad as Clinton arguing that because she won California and New York, she should be the nominee (after all, I could run against the McCain in CA and NY and win--these two states are Democratic. Period), but it's up there. Because in case it hadn't occurred to anyone, the primary is a contest between two Democratic candidates--not against McCain. The issue is not whether Obama can beat Clinton in PA, but whether he (or she) can beat McCain. The "inability to win another large state" is meaningless when the only contestants are the same party.
Clinton leads among hunters, bowlers (after a stunningly bad bowling photo-op by Obama) and gun owners, the two are tied among beer drinkers (after Clinton's shot with a beer chaser in Indiana).
If this isn't an argument for restricting suffrage, I don't know what is. So Clinton suggests that she used to go hunting (really? I'm calling shenanigans on that one) and so people who hunt vote for her. And Obama has a bad day bowling and suddenly he'll make a worse president? To be honest, I would rather my president be very bad at bowling, because that suggests too much time spent in the bowling alley and not enough time doing things like, say, learning policy. The beer thing is nonsense.
We are in the current disaster that we are facing (i.e. 7 years of Dubya) precisely because people cared about these issues. Dubya was the guy who you could sit and have a beer with. He was "one of the guys" (which, of course, was demonstrably false: he was no more one of the guys than anyone else who'd lived off Daddy's money and going to private schools his whole life). He was in touch with "the common man." He hunted. He has a ranch. He was a dude.
Forget that he had almost no meaningful experience in government. Forget that my parents' dogs have been out of the country more times than he had. Forget that he was semi-literate and barely articulate. None of that mattered, because he was just a regular guy, and we all just want regular guys to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world.
Screw it. From now on, let's just randomly select the president. And no one with any sort of non-working-class background can be involved in the lottery.
UPDATE: An exceptional article from Andrew Cohen.
Some choice bits:
It's hard to get elected president if you're seen to be too smart. George W. Bush, who is the money and name of the elite, won twice when charm trumped intellect. He was reassuringly simple. Al Gore was seen as wooden and brainy. John Kerry spoke French, wore a field coat and rode a windsurfer. Both lost, and so did America.
C.V. Wedgwood--one of the greatest historians of the 20th Century who, sadly, isn't widely known--made this exact point in an essay (which I can't find online)--that we should want out leaders to be people we look up to. We should want truly exceptional people running our governments and our institutions.
When the Roosevelts, Wilson, Kennedy and Clinton got into office, all were kinder to the poor than to the rich. On the other hand, the soothing Ronald Reagan and the brush-clearing Mr. Bush cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Neither was accused of championing the underclass.
The question, then, isn't who is a member of the elite and who is not, as measured by whom you'd prefer to have a beer with - the reason, it is said, that the amiable Mr. Bush was elected twice.
The president should come from among the elite - on the assumption that the people deserve the candidate with the most experience, the best judgment and the greatest ability to lead - none of which implies arrogance or aloofness.
Sadly, that seems to be forgotten in the US.
This is a wonderful, bumper-sticker faux solution that looks like it's doing something when it actually is not. Where on earth is the actual showing that finger printing every last visitor to the United States when they leave the country will do anything to make the country any safer? This is as bad as making us throw out water bottles or take our shoes off--measures that somehow make it look like the government is doing something, while not doing anything substantive. It makes housewives in Nebraska happy, but I can't see in any way what it will do.
Other than, of course, decrease tourism.
And the cost?
The overall economic impact on companies, passengers and the government is expected to exceed $3.5 billion, industry lobbyists said, at a time when carriers are struggling with safety concerns, high fuel costs and passenger complaints.So we're concerned with our airlines going bankrupt, with rising costs, and the fact that domestic air travel is misery (paying for your drinks and your peanuts, paying extra for basically everything), and we're going to drop a $3.5 billion dollar surcharge on consumers?
Friday, April 18, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Stephen Fletcher, taking a question on a safe-injection site in Vancouver. "As I mentioned, Mr. Speaker, our government will review the research very carefully. No decision has been made. However, as I have the floor, I am reminded that the Liberal Party and its leader have no policy, no leadership and no vision for the country. That is why the people said no to a Liberal government."And, for the record, the question was from Libby Davis--who isn't even a Liberal!
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Witness this wonderful exchange between MHF and Jim Prentice.
Mr. Speaker, the numbers speak for themselves. Why is the Conservative government doing nothing to stem the slow death of the 250,000 strong well-paying jobs we have in Ontario, jobs created by the up to now innovative and world leading auto sector?
Um. I don't seem to recall MHF asking about the bridge. As she herself noted:
Crazy. They all just have their talking points in the Government and no matter what the question, the talking point comes out.
Can you name its capital?
Can you tell us when China occupied it?
When China occupied it, was it a thriving multi-cultural democracy, or a feudal backwater?
I know saying "Free Tibet" is all very trendy, but really, if you're protesting, it would be great if you actually knew what your issue was. Because it seems to me that so many of the "Free Tibet" types are a bit like pageant queens who always say they want "World Peace"--it's a mantra you can invoke to look like you're Cool and Caring and Sensitive.
None of this is to say that I think China's a good country or that it should have the Olympics. Far from it, as I said a while ago. Hairy Fish Nuts has a good point too. ("Learn the lesson tyrants and dictators, make the West some money and you can do whatever you like. Poor Saddam all he had to do was open some Nike factories and he'd be gassing Kurds to his black heart's content.")
But there are far more reasons to protest China getting them than simply the Tibetan issue.
You can also bet that if China weren't the place everyone needs money from and is a big-ass market, the fact it's not a democracy would have derailed it nicely. Honestly, if we actually cared about these things, the IOC would put forward criteria for being an Olympic host: Stable democracy, respect for the rule of law and human rights (Sorry, USA, you'd be out), etc etc etc.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
So why on earth do we tolerate militias in Iraq?
I know the issue is far more complicated, but surely the only real way to stabilize Iraq is to ensure that the national government can project its power and enforce its laws. As it stands now, anyone who gets enough followers and enough guns can effectively defy the state. That doesn't really lead to stability, where any group can ignore laws as it sees fit (particularly when the groups are split along religious or ethnic lines.)
Europe in the 30s would be an instructive example. But then, our current leaders don't seem to care about learning from the past. Or from, say, fact.
Monday, April 07, 2008
He takes Valpy to task for his column which basically suggests that Dion has to become more of a politician--i.e. to jettison his policy-based approach, jettison exactly the reason why he was selected in favour of a more-American style focus on sound bites and dashing images.
It speaks in most part for itself, but one exchange deserves to be singled out.
Valpy wrote this drivel:
But it's Mr. Dion's comportment that is considered the black hole of his problems. Environics' Michael Adams puts it bluntly: “This man has to be more masculine. He has to think about how to be more masculine" ... And it is Stephen Harper, not Stéphane Dion, who is seen as having carved out the territory of the archetypal male.
[WTF? More "masculine"? We're talking about Prime Ministers of Canada, not army generals or football commentators or something. Do we really care? And is chubby Stephen Harper, who probably can't even grow a beard and hasn't seen his own dick over his belly in years, really all that masculine? Is this how we should pick our PM--based on what kind of a jock he is? The Americans tried that one and look how they ended up.]
Michael Adams is probably a very smart man. But this is likely the most dispiriting assessment of politics in Canada this century. If leadership has been reduced to a question of manhood, then we are even more silly a society than previously imagined. For a good chuckle, turn the question around. How big of a man do we really think Mr. Harper to be? Does anyone believe him to have ever thrown a punch in his life? Perhaps to settle this we should demand our prospective political leaders proactively disclose their penis size.
[For our American readers, the "maybe he should strangle someone" is in reference to this.]
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Homosexuality is a perversion of sexuality no different from pedophilia. Homosexuals are obsessed with putting the genitals where they don't belong. It's a sin.
Right and wrong is NOT determined by public opinion nor personal opinion. Homosexuality is wrong and that's a universal, immutable, objective truth.
Well then. At least this guy can spell.
While I could take apart the comment, I'll let its stupidity stand for itself, save to say this: I knew I was gay not because of where I wanted to stick my dick (and trust me, that was very much the LAST thing I ever wanted to do back when I was 15), but because of who I became emotionally attracted to.
Friday, April 04, 2008
Thursday, April 03, 2008
However, the Globe today came out swinging, and I agree:
Even if the Conservatives wish only to string Quebeckers along with vague promises, they risk creating a national melee that would include aboriginals, provinces outside Quebec and various interest groups seeking new powers. It is hubris to think that any government or party can control the terms of this fraught debate. Out of former prime minister Brian Mulroney's failed Meech Lake Accord (1987) and his failed Charlottetown Accord (1992), came the 1995 Quebec referendum in which the sovereigntists fell just a few thousand votes short of a majority. More recently, when Liberal leadership hopeful Michael Ignatieff inflamed nationalist passions not quite two years ago by setting out the elements of future constitutional reform, those emotions inexorably gathered force, a momentum not lost until the House of Commons recognized the "Québécois" as a nation within Canada.Lawrence Martin is a little more pragmatic, observing (alas, subscription needed) that Quebec dominates political thinking far more than it should:
The PM's Quebec preoccupation is driven by politics, of course. Mr. Harper doesn't see many potential gains toward his majority in the West and so concentrates where he sees the most available seats.
The preoccupation is also driven by the media. Quebec still supplies many of the country's key commentators. The obsessive coverage of Liberal missteps in Quebec, a province that is no longer even close to being the party's bread and butter, is the most recent example. Ontario towers over Quebec as an electoral prize. British Columbia is big and fluid. But they rarely rate a mention.
And notes that this might help the other parties:
Although many in the media have wrongly been predicting the demise of the Bloc Québécois for the past decade, there is a larger possibility this time that it can be overtaken. To do so, Mr. Harper must have his party appear as sympathetic to Quebec nationalism as possible.So perhaps there is a hidden silver lining. We shall see.
It's dangerous, though, pollster Nik Nanos was saying yesterday. It opens the door for the other parties to paint the Conservatives as pandering to separatists. One of these days, even Western Canadians, as docile as they've been, might get exercised over that kind of thing.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
OTTAWA — The Harper government is telling Quebec that if the Conservatives win a majority in the next election, they will look to reopen the Constitution and give more meaning to their recognition of Quebeckers as a nation.
Emphasizing the Conservative receptiveness to “Quebec's historical demands,” Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn raised the possibility of winning 30 to 40 seats in the province, up from the current 11.
I was a teenager during the Mulroney constitutional wars, and I remember just how divisive special status for Quebec was. I can't imagine it would be any better now.
Friday, March 28, 2008
But this little posting takes the cake:
One word on his [Merton] untimely death: he was electrocuted at the age of 53 when getting out of the bath. It seems awful, unseemly, almost humiliating at first. And yet what a merciful way to be brought back to God. No anxiety; no fear of death; no forewarning. Are there any moments you'd be less expecting to die than getting out of a bath? Merton was so close to God I doubt God needed any last confession or contrition from him. So He took him instantly.What? Is he saying you need to be close to god before you can die? Or is he saying that all those little children and innocent people randomly smited by natural disasters are all so close to God that God decides, hey, they have full lives ahead of them but I'll take them?
Or that God pays attention to everyone individually that he just decides, okay, time's up, whether you're in the bathtub or walking down the street or at your desk?
Nice guy, this God dude.
Only on a Liberal website would you find an advertisement for homosexual dates.
Don't forget to wear a rubber.
Well. Where to start.
Quite apart from the fact that, yes, Mike and I are indeed quite gay, there are a few fun propositions here.
Let's do the simple ones first, before pointing out that Johnathon sort of missed the entire point (that I was making fun of the stupid "be free of homosexuality by embracing Jesus" thing.)
"Only on a Liberal website." First I'll assume that the capital L is deliberate. So there are no gay Tories? Right. And if he is just cro magnon and American and meant liberal, well, there are plenty of conservative gays out there.
"Advertisement for homosexual dates." Well well. Does that bug you? Too bad. You name the web site and I'll point out the hundreds of links to match.com or jdate.com or fatsingles.com or whatever, all geared towards the breeders. (And if he thinks it was an actual personal ad, give me a break--Mah reading komprehenshun skillz, let me sho u them.)
But finally, and most importantly, it wasn't a freakin' ad for sex. It was a critique.
You see, if you click the link, you get to a web site for people who are trying to suppress being gay, and are being told that if they just pray hard enough, they'll turn into good little heteros and be "free" from being gay.
First: I don't feel particularly "un-free" for being gay. Nor does anyone I know that's well adjusted.
Second: It's false hope. Praying to the sky god isn't going to do anything, and even if it were, it would be treating the symptom and not the cause.. It would be suppressing something, not changing it.
Third: These things are the fast way to mental problems. The people who are religious enough to think Jesus can help them--and want to not be gay--are clearly coming from already repressive backgrounds. They don't want to be gay because they've been told it's a sin, they've been told it's icky and immoral and they'll go to hell. I.e. they're not coming from a tolerant place. And they're conflicted and tortured. And then they get told that yes, Jesus is right, you must stop being gay, it's a sin. It's a vicious circle of self-hate, religion, more self-hate, more religion, etc.
Fourth: It's incredibly damaging to young kids. When I was a kid I used to try to wish it away. I thought about hypnosis. I thought about medication. I thought about all sorts of things that I could make it go away. I once read, when I was 15, on a bathroom wall at Cinesphere (of all places) that "it's a fact that 25% of all men have homosexual thoughts for up to 3 years." And so I spent 3 years thinking, hey, I just have to wait it out.
And I think about how much happier I would have been in high school had I not believed in false hope (or believed it was bad or wrong or unnatural (and thank god I've never believed in god)) and accepted myself for who I am. 'Cos I'm pretty damn happy with it now.
The only people who have "success" with the ex-gay-through-Jesus moment are people who suppress it, who deep inside yearn for intimacy and love but feel that if they just love Jesus enough, they'll be okay. And yet every time they're around guys, they know what they want, and they have to pray that little bit more to control themselves.
And so, dumbass Johnathon, my point was that the whole city will be full of men desperately trying to be something other than who they are.
I have some pretty good-looking friends (Mike, for one, ain't bad on the eyes). And so the point of my suggestion was hey, let's go there, and make them all the more conflicted, and show the "pray away the gay" bullshit for what it really is: a joke.