Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Monday, January 29, 2007
Smells Like Karl Rove
Going into the 2004 presidential contest, one of John Kerry's perceived strengths was his distinguished war record. Rove created the Swift Boat Veterans group to cast doubts on it. By the time of the actual vote, the perception was that Kerry's military service was more of a liability than anything. I still remember seeing John Reynolds' smarmy visage at the 2004 GOP convention as he told Canadian reporters that he was there to learn how to win. And now we see that lesson in play.
Attack of the Common Cold
Labels: common cold
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Why They Hate Us
A video like this will do more than a thousand pornos or ten thousand Hollywood films that glamourize loose Western morals to inflame the anger of the Muslim world. Sorry Dinesh, but Hollywood didn't make this one.
(HT: Andrew Sullivan)
Friday, January 26, 2007
Let it go already!
Some of the tinfoil hat types at the Blogging Tories are still trying to convict Maher Arar of, well, something. Surely, they insist, this is all a huge Syrian conspiracy, or something. It apparently does not matter that even those of their own party that were ready to convict Arar on the basis of hearsay evidence have now accepted that the guy is innocent.
The argument is sort summed up this way: If Arar was a terrorist, well then he'd be on side with Syria because Syria supports terrorists, therefore the torture thing was faked.
This is a stupid argument, terrorism is, after all, a method, not an ideology. Anyone who bothers to read a newspaper could tell you that there are now opposing factions in Iraq using terrorist techniques against each other. A Shi'a, a Sunni, a Protestant, a Catholic, a Jew, a Hindu, a Buddhist, an atheist, all are able to use the tactics of terrorism. It hardly means that they are united in a cause.
Image: Tinfoil for everyone! Apologies to Saskboy.
Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Dick Cheney Special
HT: Andrew Sullivan.
A Class Warfare Truce?
Yeah, Why Do We Put Up With This?
A Belated Robert Burns Day Post
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Illustrated Quote of the Day
While many people have criticized both the US government's decision to keep Maher Arar on the no-fly list and the Canadian government's desire to make its own no-fly list, no one has done so with Torontoist's eloquence:
"As the Maher Arar no-fly-list clusterfuck continues to make Americans look stupid, Canada contemplates a no-fly-list program of its own. Because there's nothing quite like taking bad policy from the Americans and copying it for our own use. It's the political equivalent of illegally downloading "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas."Brilliant!
Picture: Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day phunks with everything.
Collective Punishment is Stupid: Another Example
Ever Heard This One?
A French politician makes a vague, disinterested remark in support of Quebec sovereignty and federalist Canadian politicians issue stern response exhorting said French leader to stay out of our business. It seems to have been happening off and on ever since de Gaulle.
I think the hype about Mme. Royal's remarks, along with all the server space spent on Wajid Khan indicates that we are in a lull in Canadian politics. Big things are going to happen this year, including elections in Ontario and Quebec as well as possibly a federal vote. In the meantime, we'll content ourselves with these sorts of tales I suppose.
State of the Union II and The Surge Redux
Okay I read the text of the SOTU. It didn't say what I thought it would in so many words. But yeah, stay the course, throw some more kids into that meat grinder to see if it will work - I think my essential prediction of it remains intact. I cannot imagine that the problem all along was that the military was just 21 500 soldiers short. If it was, did it really take them nearly four years to figure that out and adjust things on the ground.
The reality of the situation is that the three major ethnic groups are ready to assert themselves over their rivals. The surge can only attempt to hold off ethnic strife for a time. The only thing that seems to evoke strong national feeling in Iraqis these days is their soccer team.
So then comes the question, why should anyone be committed to keeping Iraq together if the Iraqis themselves really don't want to be together. We did not force Yugoslavia to stay together. The Czechs and the Slovaks were on very good terms when the separated, yet no one tried to force a united Czechoslovakia on them. In 1999 the international community finally intervened to allow East Timor to separate from Indonesia.
I know that there are short term concerns over who might influence a divided Iraq. In particular Iran seems to trouble the US in this regard. So what, Iran is influencing a united Iraq today. Iran is a nation of 66 million right next to smaller Iraq, how could it not influence Iraq? If there's going to be an international (US) presence in Iraq, perhaps its only sensible role is to manage the inevitable resettlement and refugee problems that will stem from a breakup of Iraq.
Picture: A surge protector, Moqtada al Sadr wishes it was that easy.
State of the Union
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
The Bushies and Their Godfather
The man of course is Reagan, who everyone on the far right is in a rush to canonize. Well, if you want a rebuttal, Jonathan Schwarz has posted one at This Modern World. This is frightening, it makes Rumsfeld and Cheney look like amateurs and small-time players.
I was just a kid in the 1980s when all the stuff about Ollie North and the Iran-Contra scandal came out, and I didn't know exactly what it was about. To see it now, to see it in the light of an adult understanding of politics and government it is just astonishing.
Our Useless Foreign Policy
Shorter James Travers: Israel knows that Harper is in their back pocket, so they can ignore us. The Palestinians know that Harper is in Israel's back pocket, so why bother going to Canada for anything.
Is this how Steve and Dogboy are going to give us a robust foreign policy? Surprise, cheerleaders aren't good for much of anything (unless either one of them is waiting for a hot night with the quarterback).
Monday, January 22, 2007
Lessons Learned on YouTube
Meanwhile Ron has posted Bush's stance on global warming:
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Where Were the "Good" Americans?
Everyone has had something to say about Chris Sands' line about "good" Canadians, so I won't spend to long on this. The quote goes something like this:
'Chris, where are all the good Canadians?' When he said that it broke a little bit of my heart, because I'm an American but I love the Canadians. I think what he meant by that was 'Where are the Canadians of World War I and World War II, that people understood to be... even when Europeans didn't, those allies we had come to count on.'Uhhh, Chris in World War I the "good" Americans cooled their heels until 1917, in World War it was until 1941. The insinuation of this quote is that Canada joined those wars in aid of the US. Except we didn't. We joined WWI because we still lacked a foreign policy independent of Britain's, we had no choice, we were a colony brought along for the ride. In World War II we did have our own foreign policy, but the connection that many still felt to the Mother Country (outside of Quebec) gave us few options.
We were not there because the US was counting on us, we were there because in one instance, Britain made us go, and in another our ties to Britain compelled us nonetheless.
A Modest Proposal
I told him I need to get to Union station in a hurry and I had 10 minsI wish I could have cab drivers that were as awesome as that - he gets you there on time and the journey is a surreal experience. What else could you want?
- he looked at his watch and camly said - "you will be there in 7
minutes - listen to some elvis and here is my tamborine - shake it..."
Friday, January 19, 2007
One of the principle ways in which the right portrays itself is as being on the side of straight-talking plain folks. An argument that I heard in support of both Mike Harris and Stephen Harper goes roughly, "you may dislike the guy, but he did what he said he would." Ahh, but here is tonic for those of you who tire of hearing of the plainspoken right vs. the fork-tongued left paradigm:
Wow. What a douche. So habeas corpus exists independently of whether or not it applies to the citizenry? At what point did Jose Padilla lose his right of habeas corpus, and by what authority, can it be suspended for anyone else? When stuff like this happens to Americans, is it any wonder that this same government would rush to torture someone like Arar? (H/T Andrew Sullivan)
Specter: Now wait a minute, wait a minute. The Constitution says you can't take [habeas corpus] away except in the case of invasion or rebellion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus?
Gonzales: I meant by that comment that the Constitution doesn't say that every individual in the United States or every citizen has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.
Picture: Franz Kafka wrote fiction, not a manual documenting best practices in criminal justice, in case you were wondering, Alberto Gonzales.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
The Haze Clears From Your Eyes (But Not Potter's)
What bothers is that leaps a bit too far and tries to ascribe way to much nobility to head-shaving and alcohol consumption. Check out this overreach:
Philosophers over the years have used different terms to describe this ethic. Plato called it thumos, usually translated as "spiritedness" or "passion." Hobbes called it pride, Rousseau talked of amour-propre, and Hegel described it as part of our desire for recognition. These are all ways of getting at the same phenomenon, namely, the desire to compete, to assert oneself over and against others.Assert oneself? I'm sorry Mr. Potter, but the hazing has to be one of the ultimate acts of the herd. Everyone does it. You do it too. We all do it. Yeah, there you are asserting yourself against others... Hah. Go ahead and haze all you hazers, but it's just an act of conformity and submission to the group mentality. Stop pretending you are warriors, you are as bad as middle-aged men pretending that their barbecues are somehow comparable to hunter-gatherers roasting game on open flame.
Hazers should be allowed to haze, just as I am allowed to call the practice kind of lame.
Wingnuts: Make Up Your Mind On Being Offensive
Now today I read that another conservative, Dinesh D'Souza is telling the West that we'd better crack down on homosexuality and on porn lest we... wait for it... offend the Muslims!
So what's the moral here? Should we only stand up for free speech that offends others but not ourselves? Is it okay to mock the prophet of Islam but not the sexual mores of the Islamic world?
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Note to "Surge" Supporters
Even Bill Buckley is against it. (HT) Everyone is against this except for the morons in the White House, the cowards in Congress, and their cheerleading lackeys in the media. No one wants this damn surge. It's a great way to get young men and women killed, assholes. There is nothing else the US can do in Iraq. The civil war is underway and there is nothing you can about it.
Here, at last is a way that you can link 9/11 to Iraq. Those troops over there are like the firefighters in the towers, they cannot keep things together, things are in collapse - get them out of there. Now.
Picture: You can still support Serge, just not The Surge.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Note to Peter Van Loan
Sorry Petey, but you're wrong, democracy is loud, it's raucous, it does not always look like a church social. I will err on the side of less decorum every time, I have to confess that the only thing that really bothered me about MacKay calling Stronach a dog was that the national media took so much time obsessing over it. Let it all fly, if any one member makes too much of an ass out of him or herself by heckling or insulting, the ballot box will take care of said member.
I'd rather have it that way than having MPs worried that their words might bring a tear to the eye of Steve's inner child. The national press gallery was so mean and hurtful that he sent them all away, but will he just get hurt again, this time by his colleagues in the House?
Let's Be Honest About Cameras
To really no one's surprise, there continue to be shootings in Toronto's club district. Combine that with the fact that 90% of these places play shit music and it's really not a great neighbourhood.
What the cops want to do is expand their surveillance camera project to the club district in hopes of stopping this kind of violence. According to the Star article,
Monday, January 15, 2007
The Relativity of Theories
The guy who told our own Luiza Chwialkowska Savage that this surge would be a great idea has since listened to the new Defence Secretary and decided that, as implemented, the surge "makes no military sense."Oh. So yeah, great idea to surge the troops, good plan Sec. Gates, but uh, we're not so sure about your implementation. Indeed, as implemented it's not so hot, I'm sure though that General Keane was certain about the fundamental brilliance of the theory.
Oh the theories! Since 2002 we've learned that:
- In theory US and coalition soldiers would be greeted as liberators.
- In theory Iraqis could build a coherent, functioning, multi-ethnic, government in a couple years.
- In theory the insurgency would wither away as people became accustomed to democracy.
Martin Luther King Jr.
And may your dreams
If the thunder cloud
So let it rain
Rain down him
So let it be
So let it be
And may your dreams
If the thundercloud
So let it rain
Let it rain
Rain on him"
-"M.L.K." by U2
If iPods are outlawed, only outlaws will have iPods
So today I sit down to my computer with my morning coffee and I am stunned to read this post by Saskboy. You should go read the whole thing, but in short Canada's Newest Government Ever is trying to make it crime to put songs from your CDs that you own onto your iPod that you also own. It sure makes all the stuff that Conservatives say about smaller, less-intrusive government, and respect of private property, seem like a crock. Viva la iPod!
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Quote of the Day
"...punditry is not about being right or wrong or exhibiting good judgment. It is about producing and reproducing elite American political discourse for the masses. It is more important that they can continue to justify changing elite policy than that they supported past policies that didn't work out very well. All the real reporters I know at all well are deeply unhappy at their workplaces, where they typically have wealthy far rightwing bosses who interfere from time to time in the newspaper or magazine and make the reporter's life hell."And he has to be right. Think back to 2003 when just about every media outlet and just about every pundit signed on for the role of cheerleader. From Powell's speech at the UN to the summer of 2003 the media was utterly uncritical. The network bosses should be made to sit through taped highlights of their coverage of the war buildup and the wars early days. It was embarrassing.
Friday, January 12, 2007
This week's common theme
What does this mean for the Liberals? They are closer to where they were in 2003. When they could win majorities - remember those days? Martin's undoing was trying to be all things to all people, at least that's one of the things that seemed to sink him. I don't know about Buzz, but shedding a pro-business so-con like Khan, a separatist like Lapierre may actually be not so bad.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Zolf calls Harper the most moral Prime Minister in Canadian history. How does he know this? Well, because Harper is "driven" by his morality on a variety of issues. Harper is driven by his own morality? Really? And that makes him the most moral of prime ministers? What if his morality is different from mine or yours? According to Larry Zolf we should like the guy anyway - because he's come from a good place. He has moral values and that's what you should respect. Moreover, how can we know he is driven by morals. Maybe it's just the face he puts on his policies? Does Zolf know Harper personally? I doubt it.
To reinforce this ridiculous stance, Zolf uses a very selective overview of Canadian history to suggest that the Conservatives have historically been more moral than the Liberals. I am not a partisan of the Liberal party, or any party for that matter, but Zolf seems determined to selectively quote history and make very subjective judgments about the morality of two complex entities.
What a crock.
Going It Alone in Iraq
Dying for a Mistake
The quote that keeps coming to mind as I consider the debacle that is Iraq came from a young veteran testifying before the US Congress on the matter of the Vietnam War.
"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"I don't think that John Kerry has said anything quite so insightful and concise since then. This war has been a mistake at the very least, and perhaps it is something much worse. Over three thousand men and women have died for this mistake/crime against humanity.
I don't feel any glee about opposing this war and being right about its potential for disaster. I don't take any joy in calling Bush "Mr. Chimpy" or something like that any more. I just feel sad for the terrible, terrible waste that this war has been. And what has it been for?
Today I did manage to catch Joe Biden's statement at a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing. One thing stood out:
"But because so much is at stake, I am also not prepared to give up on finding a bi-partisan way forward that meets the twin goals most Americans share: to bring home our troops while leaving behind a stable Iraq."A stable Iraq? We had that in 2002. The goal now is to get back to where we started. The Poor Man has a superb piece on the shifting goal posts in Iraq. Biden does not ask for a "democratic" Iraq or one more sympathetic to US interests. The truth is, there is probably not much more that can be attained in Iraq by the US.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
The Mainstreaming of Torture
In the US it is now possible for a mainstream political commentator to openly criticize a politician for being soft on torture. Wha? Was this position even conceivable seven years ago? This is an acceptable political position now?
I wonder what the historians writing about our age will say about our willingness to collectively become monsters?
Given that Stockwell Day is the minister of public safety, I wonder what we should read into his guilty-till-proven-innocent stance on Maher Arar?
Picture: Nooooooobody expects a CIA rendition!
Monday, January 08, 2007
Fables of the Reconstruction
BAHAHAHAHA! Sullivan puts the burn on Malkin
Sunday, January 07, 2007
A Propaganda Victory as Last Act
That's how Saddam comes off in his execution. Look at the pictures, he does not wear a hood, so you are confronted with a face. He does not wear a hood and therefore he does not disappear into the indistinguishable masks of his thuggish executioners (though it would be fitting if he did). He appears to be wearing a dress shirt and a black overcoat. He's formal, like a statesman. His executioners wear no uniforms - they do nothing to outwardly represent the authority of the state, they are masked and wouldn't look out of place in a TV drama bank robbery.
So what you have in this picture comes across as street thugs executing a statesman. The executioners may be actual street thugs, but Saddam's victory comes by looking like a statesman. I get the feeling that Saddam, like so many dictators, had sufficient vanity to want to remain an icon long after death. I think he will succeed.
Don't believe me? Communist party demonstrators would often march with posters of Stalin well into the 1990s.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Harper's Rearranged Deckchairs
Baird to environment? Paul Wells has an anecdote about Dion that he insists is entirely irrelevant. Read it for yourself before deciding though.
The federal minister of
Baird will yell a lot in question period I imagine, but he probably won't end up saying anything truly damaging (he's angry, but not as dense as Stockwell or as unguarded as Toews). Moving Toews though is probably something of an attempt to prevent a really stupid gaffe during an election. By gaffe I mean Toews letting people know how he really feels about stuff.
Friday, January 05, 2007
To Jonathan Toews and Team Canada:
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Waste? Mismanagement? Corruption?
Stephen Harper repeated those words over and over during the last election. By any honest account there was some of all three of those things going on in the sponsorship program.
Does that mean that suspect no-bid contracts are done away with now that Canada's New Government is at the helm? Uhhh, no, they just moved to another department. Just yesterday there was a report in the Globe and Mail about yet another de-facto no bid contract worth billions of dollars. This time it's for a fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft. We've already bought c-17 transports and Chinook helicopters in the same fashion though.
Now, what if the C-27J Spartan, the aircraft being considered, is the only one that can meet the requirements of the military? While that's what the Spartan's proponents are arguing, there is also some indication in a follow-up article today that the military requirements were written to suit the Spartan, quote:
'In the first three draft versions of the requirements for the search-and-rescue aircraft, the documents stated: “Search speeds . . . typically vary between 110 to 130 knots for visual searches.”
However, the last version of the draft requirements, dated last July, has been changed to state that search speeds “typically vary between 110 to 140 knots” — a range that allegedly better suits the capabilities of the Spartan C-27J.'
Oops, that sounds a bit fishy. Of course we shouldn't be doubly suspicious just because the Minister of Defense is a former defense industry lobbyist, should we? I know that the military wants to get procurement done faster, but writing requirements around a single aircraft is not the way to do it. This looks too suspect to me and may be a way that Harper ends up being far more wasteful with the public purse than anything done to sponsor fishing tournaments (or whatever) in Quebec.
(Pictured: The C-27J Spartan, supposedly the only choice)
What I'm Listening To
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
The Difference Between Ordinary People and Right-Wing Columnists
In her column bearing the nuanced title "Ding dong, the tyrant's dead," Barbara Kay of the National Post purports to differentiate between "ordinary people" and "liberal elites" using the lynching of
Kay announces to us that when she learned of Saddam's death she,
"did a little on-the-spot jig and started humming Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead."Really? Now I'm sure that this is perhaps a figurative jig, and not a literal one, nonetheless, Kay is free to express herself as she sees fit (and I am free to mock it). Unfortunately not everyone did a jig along with Kay (it's embarrassing to be the only one dancing sometimes, isn't it?) Apparently the UK foreign secretary had the temerity to ruin Kay's jig by saying,
"We advocate an end to the death penalty worldwide, regardless of the individual or the crime."Oh really? That's no way to call a tune! Poor Babs! This is coming from Bush's bestest ally in Iraq too - the UK government of Tony Blair! I won't bore you with the rest of Kay's haranguing of the rest of us for being less than giddy. Suffice to say though, even war supporters like Christopher Hitchens are able to differentiate between a lynching preceded by a show trial and justice. Being able to demand a single (high) standard for justice and oppose the death penalty on principle has a name - moral clarity.
Picture: How to dance a jig when you are untroubled by lynchings.
Our Worst Export: Mark Steyn
"One difference between the Ethiopians in Somalia and the Americans in Iraq is that the former aren't fighting with one hand behind their back just in case some EU ally or humanitarian lobby group or fictitious Associated Press source leaks some "war crime" or other to the media.... So they're just getting on with it."Darn it! Those Ethiopians are the ones who know how to win a war! They aren't encumbered by bothersome humanitarian watchdogs or a pesky free press! James Wolcott then goes on to link to an excellent article by Eric Margolis explaining why the current Ethiopian government isn't all that much of an exemplary model. You can read Margolis' article, or just accept Attaturk's summary:
"Ethiopia, of course, is truly one of the worst governments on earth (a competition of no small measure in Central and Northeast Africa)."But that's okay with Steyn so long as the Ethiopians aren't bound by any of that silly human rights business.
Side note: Welcome to all you Progressive Bloggers types and thanks to Scott and the rest of the admins for letting me on board!
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
On Minimum Wages
Jason Cherniak is opposed, citing the threat of job loss, damage to businesses, et cetera.
I am not an economist, but I do recall that when McGuinty took the minimum wage from $6.85 in 2003 to $8.00 as of this February, the same doomsday scenarios were predicted by some economists. A certain point, when small-business special-interest groups insist that every wage increase or regulation change will kill them off and result in massive job loss, you just have to start tuning them out.
Jason's post mentions kids at Wonderland reaping a windfall from this sort of law. I suppose that's a very Richmond Hill perspective. I suggest though that he consider what a difference something like this could mean to the immigrant mothers living on the fringes of Toronto. What about kids growing up in Flemingdon Park? Or Rexdale? Many of them may have to help out with the rent or the groceries even at a young age. Some kids - of any income - may be trying to save for post-secondary, a higher minimum wage makes that a bit more possible.
It's simplistic to suggest that a 25% increase in the minimum wage would lead to a loss of 25% of minimum wage jobs.
What's in all those tubes?
Spacing has a post on the best graffiti in Toronto over the past year. Surprise, it looks better than a bunch of Nike ads. By its very nature, graffiti is ephemeral, so you'd better look for this stuff soon, before it's gone.
Josh Marshall is uneasy about Saddam's execution. Not because Saddam didn't deserve it, but because the process is looking more and more suspect. Money quote:
"But if justice were simply a matter of bad men meeting bad ends, then Iraq today would be awash in justice."Indeed, go read the rest of it.
Meanwhile, Juan Cole points out that the Sunni Baathists who supported Saddam are not taking this execution thing very well. Apparently they are attacking a very important Shi'a shrine. Oh swell.
In the meantime, Dennis Perrin wages a somewhat lonely battle against the canonization of Gerald Ford. Was there ever a really good reason for allowing/encouraging the Indonesian invasion of East Timor?
Image: Pipeline Construction by Harry Dix (yes that's his real name).
Monday, January 01, 2007
Ugh, More Fundamentalists
I posted a while ago on the subject how belief and atheism intersect. I have been meaning to do something of a follow-up post on the topic. Derrida's talk about believers battling with their own radical atheism leads me to wonder about atheists battling with believing. Is there a nagging sense of God lurking somewhere in Richard Dawkins?
I don't know about what Dawkins thinks about on his own time, and really, it's not my business, but Derrida's statement would seem to make sense in both directions - that is to say that both theists and atheist probably have to struggle with their metaphysics. It makes sense because both belief and atheism produce fundamentalism.
While there are too many definitions of fundamentalism (and even more connotations), one of its facets is externalisation. That is to say there is almost always a desire to impose values and beliefs on the broader community. Just as we learned last year that Pastor Ted Haggard externalised his battle with his homosexuality, perhaps we are tempted to externalise our other internal metaphysical battles?
2006, we hardly knew ye...
But what about 2006?
(Hard to believe that that song is ten years old, now that it's 2007.)
Now, as to why I might but that song out there. Well, 2006 was a lot history repeating.
"Steve" Harper became the Prime Minister, promising to clean up the government and end corruption, blah, blah, blah. I don't have the time or the inclination to categorize and rank governments on their levels of corruption. To me corruption is endemic to government - in any governmental system under any party, so I really didn't buy the "clean government" line from Harper. It's just a new set of patronage beneficiaries really. And it looks like I was proved right.
Saddam got it, and the neocons started casting about for another dictator to replace him. It must be nice to be a full-time pundit. In the course of three years, you can go from some sort of naive neo-Wilsonianism back to the so-called "realist" foreign policy outlook. All the while the consequences of your projects, either overthrowing or imposing dictators simply do not reach you in any real way.
Iraqis on the other hand, have been caught in a nasty loop of history ever since Spring 2003. You know, "Once we [the US] complete the invasion/power transfer/elections/constitution drafting/other elections/killing of Zarqawi/trial of Saddam/execution of Saddam things are gonna be totally awesome!