Friday, February 29, 2008

Will Ezra Levant Stand Up for Young People Fucking?

Small and large "C" conservative types have been crowing about how they are the true champions of free speech because Ezra Levant was asked some questions or something. Now we find out that the Conservative government is trying to play state censor with the film tax credit. As the Globe & Mail story points it, professional embarrassment to religion, Charles McVety is taking credit for this stupid new move. Movies like Martin Gero's Young People Fucking would probably get a harder look from the new McVety censorship panel.

So where are you conservative champions of free speech? Stand up and be counted!

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Chuck was no cad, man

The story coming out now about the bribe allegedly offered to Chuck Cadman to bring down the Martin government back in 2005 looks bad for the Conservatives to say the least. The explanation offered up yesterday by Tom Flanagan and Doug Finley seems, well, hard to believe. It was well known in 2005 that Cadman was very seriously ill with cancer, at some points it was unclear whether he would be well enough to make it into parliament for the vote. Why then would Flanagan and Finley offer to help Cadman with a riding nomination? Cadman died within a couple months of the vote, I cannot imagine that 1) Flanagan and Finley didn't appreciate or couldn't find out how serious Cadman's condition was, and 2) that they really thought that his priority at that point was to win another election given his health.

Harper, Flanagan, and Finley, I call bullshit.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Budget 2008: Transit No One's Asked For

Jim Flaherty has earmarked money in his federal budget for a rail link from Toronto to Peterborough. I live in Toronto and I have family in Peterborough and in neither place can I recall there being a great clamouring for this rail link. I'm sure it's only a coincidence that this link would run through Flaherty's riding. This is of course something to remember when the Cons talk about how they are sound fiscal managers et cetera.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Brightening Up

I decided that I'd had things around here the same way for long enough. I'm going to try out a nice white background. I also tried to clean up the sidebar a bit, it was getting cluttered. Tell me what you think.


Stop me if you've heard this one before

Shorter Stephane Dion: This government sucks, but we'll support them anyhow. When is this routine going to change? What will trigger an election?

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Dirty Tricks

There are pictures circulating of Obama doing, well, what politicians do when they travel, dressing up in traditional garb. If this is what Obama's opponents have, well it's truly pathetic. Once Obama shrugs off all of these attacks by the Clintons, I suspect he'll be all that much more prepared for McCain.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Who Loves Dictators?

It all depends on the dictator, but they all have their supporters. What's inexplicable is how Mark Steyn has tried to suggest that it's only liberals that get behind dictators. Really? Why then did Jonah Goldberg write such a loving eulogy for Augusto Pinochet? Why did Reagan send his buddy Don Rumsfeld to kick it with Saddam in the 1980s? Those are two examples off the top of my head, the fact is, I don't see dictator support as a liberal quirk.

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You Can't Stop What's Coming

And so long as what's coming are several awards for a great film, that's fine by me. Seriously, you need to see No Country for Old Men. It appears that there are more Cormac McCarthy adaptations coming, let's hope that they are as good.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Real Life

Sorry for the shortish posts, life's been busy.


Don Quixote de la Tory

I think that ought to be John Tory's new nickname, because trying to stay on as leader of the Ontario PCs looks like it's going to be quixotic for him. Those that want him out have not shut up since the review. He's in trouble.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Not Exactly A Ringing Endorsement

John Tory got only 66.9% of the vote at the Ontario PC convention in London. In my mind there's the distinct possibility that this could lead to a protracted power struggle. It doesn't seem from the reports that Mr. Tory is ready to go quietly into the good night. Will the 2011 Ontario election be a contest between a Liberal government that may be starting to look a little shopworn and some Mike Harris clone? I'm starting to think that's a very likely scenario.

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A Prediction of the Bush Administration

Looking back as the Bush era enters its final year, I reread this article from The Onion, it's sadly prescient. A sample:
"During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years."
Like I said, prescient.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Warning: White Guy

If you haven't seen this, it's disturbingly correct for me at least.


John Tory's Moment of Truth

This weekend is it for Tory, he's got convince the Ontario PCs that he ought to be leader or a leadership race will be triggered. I'm not a PC and I didn't support Tory for premier last fall, but I kind of want him to stay on. Have a moderate, reddish tory leading the PCs means that the politics in this province are not shifted to the right. The risk here is that the PCs will select another Harrisite to run the show.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Holiday Class

This week Ontario held its first Family Day but it did so with a hefty bit of controversy. A number of employers decided that their employees did not need the day off - partly because they already had other holidays above and beyond what the law requires. Still John Tory insisted that it was unjust that some people didn't get the holiday.

I have news for John Tory, lots of people don't get a lot of holidays. I've done time in the service sector and that includes working my share of holidays. More and more stores are quietly making the move to stay open on every holiday possible. Now there is talk of letting every store in downtown Toronto stay open every day but Christmas. The reality is that there is an entire class of people - retail workers - to whom holidays simply do not apply with any reliability. Most malls still close on holidays, but restaurants, grocery stores, cafes and others stay open. Now there is the possibility that even the malls will be open.

Shopping on holiday is convenient I suppose, unless you work retail. In that case I guess you're supposed to thank your lucky stars that you get an extra shift. The Star article says that unions haven't said much, but how many retail workers are unionized? John Tory may have been upset that lots of people didn't get Family Day, but there are lots of people who don't get a lot of days off.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Sad Day for Toronto Cyclists

Duke's Cycle has been lost to a six-alarm fire. I remember my first time in Duke's, I was volunteering in a bike repair program run out of a Presbyterian mission just down the street. I can't remember what it was, but I know they gave us a good deal on the tools. Since then I've had many good trips to that shop. The front wheel on my bike was built by Duke's staff. This sucks.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Rock On



Psst, We Don't Need Musharraf

Why does the West prop up Musharraf? Well, we're told that he's the only thing keeping al Qaeda from having a nuclear weapon. But is he? It appears not if you look at Juan Cole's breakdown of Pakistan's election:
"Bottom line, the Pakistani public has demonstrated a dislike of extremism, including religious extremism, awarding a plurality of seats in the national legislature to secular parties and the rest to right-of-center parties, but roundly rejecting the fundamentalists."
If the election results are any indication, neither Pakistanis nor the West need Musharraf.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Delaying the Inevitable

Here's another bit of tiresome boilerplate on why we ought to support the Afghan mission indefinitely. Once again "the left" is accused of not caring about the Afghans. In the world of the mission's supporters "care" = indefinite, unconditional support for Canadian military presence in the worst part of Afghanistan. Nothing I've read about Afghanistan makes me think that we can fix it in five, ten, or twenty years. Others have tried, lots of them. I'm sure that our troops are well-intentioned and I hope they've been well trained and well equipped, but in the end I wonder if this mission is akin to having them stand on the beach and tell the tide to go back. This is not Germany in 1946 or something. Until I see a great deal of evidence to the contrary, I reserve the right to be skeptical about this mission's chances as it's currently configured.

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The following takes place between Antonin Scalia and his Tivo box

Last week Antonin Scalia said that torture is okay by the US constitution so long as it's for interrogation purposes as opposed to punishment. Others have been quick to point out that this is another case of Scalia watching too much 24. I'd like for interviewers to find out what other ideas Scalia has gleaned from TV. Perhaps we should issue ugly sunglasses to all government counter-terrorism agencies, they can take them off and put them on at appropriate moments - this gets results:

We could also buy them talking, self-aware automobiles:

Don't worry, the TV says it works!

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I didn't post anything, because I decided to try ice fishing. More to come today.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Paper Planes go Straight to Hell

Why haven't I heard this before? M.I.A. samples The Clash, enjoy:

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Happy Fuddle Duddle Day

According to the CBC this is the day that Trudeau mouthed, err, something at the opposition.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

What we need is post-apocalytic chaos

To the editors of the National Post:

I read Kate McMillan's column yesterday and I was somewhat disappointed. Kate has proposed that what this country really needs is a famine. But what is a famine really? I mean the Great Depression was really only a few degrees away from a famine and all these old people these days, they don't stop whining. I'm very disappointed by Kate's half-measures. What we really need is a complete and utter post-apocalyptic social breakdown, like in The Road.

The characters in that book aren't a bunch sissies looking for government regulations to explain stuff for them. If someone causes them trouble, do they call the police? Of course not! There aren't any! Instead they use some individual initiative and a sidearm to solve their problems. Nothing toughens people up like knowing that there are roving gangs of cannibals and death cults everywhere. And really, what's a roving gang of cannibals but a mixture of hunger and a bit of entrepreneurial spirit?

I eagerly look forward to you publishing this, National Post. If you aren't interested in this work, I can also try to come up with some tasteless Holocaust pranks.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ron Paul

I don't imagine that I'd actually vote for Paul, but I want him to stay in the campaign if he's able to continue showing up McCain in this fashion:

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Happy Valentines

This is for the fiancee:

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Man I'd Never Want as Premier

Richard Gwyn's False Choice

In a column yesterday, Richard Gwyn claimed that the real choice over the Afghan mission was over whether we become an "isolationist nation" or not. I'm tired of being presented with this mission in these sorts of terms. Opposing, or even questioning this mission has more to do with practical realities than it does with whether or not someone is an internationalist or not. It would be nice to help Afghanistan but I remain convinced that we simply cannot make a lasting, meaningful difference. When the last of Rick Hillier's fancy heavy lift transport aircraft take off from the Kandahar airstrip I have no good reason to believe that the country will not deteriorate again and almost immediately. Maybe I'm too cynical, but this is what I get from looking at the history both of Afghanistan and of decolonization.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In Good Taste

Apparently Kate McMillan of Brain Dead Animals made up a tasteful image of her motorcycle VIN written on her arm to simulate the tattoos that the SS put on Holocaust victims. Since I have a day job that does not revolve around the computer, it's sometimes difficult to pick up on these weird little blogosphere flare-ups. The takeaway from this little story is how much bullshit it is to hear some right-wing groups insist that conservatives are all the greatest friends of Jews/Israel. I suppose for some this coalition is sincere but overall I suspect that, like all ethnic politics, this sort of arrangement is a marriage of convenience.

Edit: To be fair, I should note that a wide cross-section of conservative bloggers have distanced themselves from Kate's idiotic stunt. But as JJ asks, what if Robert McClelland had done this?

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Why one running mate will matter more than all others

There's a significantly better chance that McCain will die in office than any other candidate. It's macabre to say so, but inescapable all the same. Even if he lives through his hypothetical term(s), McCain must surely have the greatest risk of being otherwise incapacitated in office. Who McCain picks as a VP nominee will matter.

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Anonymous Vs. Scientology

Dressed up in masks like those from V for Vendetta a bunch of Scientology critics surrounded the Toronto headquarters of L. Ron Hubbard's religion yesterday. This seems to have been built off of the video warning issued on YouTube a while ago:

The Torontoist article I link to above mentions that Tom Cruise was deliberately kept from public eye.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Endangered Species: East Coast Conservatives

Now I don't doubt that there may always be East Coast conservatives, but as for Conservatives? After Harper calling the people of the region a bunch of lazy gets, the royalties fiasco, the Casey kerfluffle and Peter MacKay hugging the neighbour's dog it's no surprise that something like this would happen.

I was sort of among those who originally saw Elizabeth May's run at Central Nova as quixotic. The way things are going, it could prove to be visionary.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008


Sorry for the outright laziness today, I was going to write up something about Rowan Williams' comments and possibly some of the more asinine reactions to him (Lorne Gunter says that it's okay for Orthodox Jews to have their own set of laws, but we just can't trust the Muslims in the same way).

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Friday, February 08, 2008

What to fight an election on

The opposition looks ready to go to the polls over Afghanistan and/or the pretend medical isotope crisis, but now Harper's attack chipmunk, Peter Van Loan and Rob Nicholson are issuing an ultimatum that the senate pass the crime bill or that will trigger an election on March 1st. I'm not surprised that Conservatives want to run on their mediocre crime bill, it's a right-wing staple to talk about being "tough on crime" whilst scaring people with tales of violence and lawlessness. The problem is that this kind of thing often works.

All the more reason to trigger an election now.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Israel Gets a Free Ride

When it comes to the lives of Canadian soldiers, it appears that they are (rightly) worth a great deal when in Afghanistan, but not so much when they are in Lebanon and bothersome to the Israeli Defense Forces. The story that's come out the past couple of days seems to indicate that the UN observation post where Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener was stationed was reporting Israeli war crimes. As for the investigation, Israel has refused to cooperate - despite Harper's assurances to the contrary.

Why is it that Israel can kill our troops with impunity? No one is called to account, no is made to testify. Harper has deliberately shifted our Middle East policy to be more explicitly pro-Israel, and what do we get for it? Nothing. No matter where one's sympathies lie in the Middle East, surely one should expect some kind of accountability for this kind of action.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Snow Day

Another really bad storm is hitting Toronto this morning. I'd like to remind everyone that one of the symptoms of global warming is weather extremes. I better not see any deniers writing today about how all this snow "disproves" global warming. Lorrie Goldstein, I'm looking at you.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Stupor Tuesday

I'm watching CNN in the background, but I'm not sure what the point is of watching these things live. I don't think we'll know anything substantial about what has happened until tomorrow morning.

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Our National Shame

The Toronto Star has another story about absolutely appalling conditions on a reserve, in this case a police station has to be shut down because it "lacks running water, uses 'medieval locks' and relies on a wood fire in a 170-litre drum." Elsewhere the article mentions police officers living in motel rooms due to a lack of housing.

Canada likes the label "tolerant" and frankly we're a bit smug about how we never had Jim Crow laws or apartheid - we're not conquerers with designs on an imperial system. Sometimes I'm guilty of thinking this way too. Until we decide to do something meaningful about the way we've cached too many first nations groups on economically useless land with little in the way opportunity, we really should wonder why we feel so proud about ourselves.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

How Much Trouble Is Ontario In?

The Star has an editorial about how the Ontario government is going to have quite a time crafting a budget. I think it's only a matter of time before something like Dutch disease will set in here. What does this mean for Southern Ontario as an economic zone? Should we all start looking at the want ads and the real estate sections of the Calgary newspapers?

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Corporate Censorship

What would you say if a large, bureaucratic organization forced an individual out his or her job for publishing material that some might find offensive? It seems that, for Mark Steyn, it depends on whether this organization is a private corporation or a government. Witness this from his column on the infamous Danish cartoons:
"Back in Jutland, the cartoonists had originally accepted the Muhammad assignment in order to test the boundaries of freedom of speech in Denmark. And they failed only insofar as the episode tested freedom's boundaries not in Denmark, where nobody has been prosecuted; nor in the U.S., where CNN's craven straddle artfully finessed the issue; nor in France, where the sole editor to publish the cartoons was subsequently fired by his boss, as is a private employer's right;"
Oh okay, so a private company can censor, got it. What about a government? Not so much:
"No, the Western jurisdiction in which the Danish cartoons have most comprehensively demonstrated the constraints on free expression is our own decayed dominion: only in Canada have the commissars of the state launched an official investigation for the alleged "crime" of publishing the cartoons."
Keep in mind that, as disagreeable as you may find the complaint against Levant, all Ezra had to do here was answer some questions, he has incurred no financial loss and, if anything, has greatly enhanced his public profile. This is Ezra's wardrobe malfunction. This French guy (who Steyn cannot even be bothered to name) lost his job over this. But, no big deal, that's an employer's right - to censorship.

If the government censors someone, that's a crime to Steyn, but if a private enterprise does this, that's okay. Wonderful, nice to see another right-wing champion of free speech in action.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Where I'll be tonight

There's a free Weakerthans show at Nathan Phillips Square tonight! Rock on:


Friday, February 01, 2008

The Sleeper Issue of '08: 1980s Kitsch

If you had told me back in 1988 that the political endorsements that would make the news would be those of Chuck Norris, Hulk Hogan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, I imagine that I would have said, "AWESOME!"

That's because I was a ten year-old boy in 1988.

Seriously, why are the fake superheroes of the 1980's so culturally relevant? Who will Sylvester Stallone endorse? How did McCain get Arnold's endorsement anyway? I imagine that there was a conference call that went something like this:
Arnold: This is good, but what is best in life?
Mitt Romney: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.
Arnold: Wrong! John McCain! What is best in life?
John McCain: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women.
Arnold: That is good! That is good.
Actually, that may have also been the conversation that earned McCain's Giuliani endorsement too. What about Obama and Hogan? Will Hogan offer to let Obama use this as his campaign song:

I can only hope so.

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Congratulations Nunc Scio!

The winner of the Non-Partisan Blog category is Nunc Scio, well done. All of the blogs in the finals for the Non-Partisan category were excellent and to be honest, I was just happy to be included in a group like that.


Black-Focused Schools

Dalton McGuinty has come out as an opponent to the Toronto District School Board's plan for black-focused schools. I'm not sure what his reasons are - the article isn't clear - but I have some concerns of my own. I suppose I should preface these concerns by saying a couple things: Yes I know there are other alternative schools in Toronto, but perhaps these concerns apply to some of the other alt schools out there. I also know that the dropout rates in the communities in question are unacceptably high and any attempt to do something to change this situation is at least laudable in its intent.

That said, here's what worries me. School teachers are, even in a place like Toronto, still disproportionately white. Presumably a black-focused school would attract (whether deliberately or just by its nature) a large chunk of our already scarce population of black teachers.

By creating a school that celebrates our city's diversity we may inadvertently drain some of that same diversity out of the rest of our schools.

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