Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We gave them everything they wanted

With a hat tip to Red Tory.

We've seen this repeated over and over again in the mainstream press. The argument voiced by the right wing is that the Palestinians were offered their own state with a one-for-one land swap for certain Israeli only settlements already built on the Palestinian land.



The reality is that "Palestine" in these situations would be carved up by the settlements and the roads connecting them which Israel could close to Palestinians any time it wanted based on "Security" reasons. Palestine would not have been a nation but a series of land locked Bantustans.

For once, just once, in the mainstream media, someone recognizably famous and credible decided to tell off one of these right wing idiots and explain to him that the Palestinians were not offered "everything they could want" and furthermore did not "walk away from the table".

I'm not a big fan of the guy doing the telling off, mind you. He was the one who once told us, about a decade ago, that "we" would have to fight a land war in Asia in order to seize there. But still, it's nice to hear someone call someone ignorant for suggesting "Arafat was offered everything and walked away."

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Just so we're clear: He's a Hypocrite

I think it's time to shut the doors and close the curtains on Stephen Harper's career. It's obvious now that he already has. We've watched him throw away his integrity, bit by bit, for a couple of years now.

He promised us open government and he gagged all of his cabinet ministers.

He promised us more free votes and more democracy but meanwhile he was the first to shut down communication with the duly elected Palestinian government because he didn't like who won their election.

He promised a balanced budget and instead squandered the surplus left to him even before the economic insanity set in.

He promised to work on "Arctic sovereignty" but has only repeatedly announced the construction of the same ships that he doesn't actually have the budget to build.

He promised us transparency in government but his officials and ministers have stormed out of the every meeting regarding their electoral chicanery. They have in fact gone so far in to opaque that they are suing an Elections Canada official just so they can insist that he not speak to a Parliamentary Committee.

And now the grand finale.

After all those years of bashing the House of Commons for their "entitlements" such as pensions and benefits. After all those years of bashing the Senate for its elitist, unelected position of privilege; for its laziness and failure to be democratic, we find ourselves here.

As if to finally bury the notion that there was anything, ever that was "reforming" about the "Reform Party" or the Conservative Alliance it became; as if to forever declare to the country that this new party is just another big business party made up of the actual wealthy elites; as if to burn and etch in char forever the word "Hypocrite" over his legacy, he and his party have appointed 18 people to the Senate.

No more talk of the "elected Senate". No more railing at the supposedly elitist liberals who are therein housed.

Nope.

Just a hypocrite. A pathetic hypocrite on his way the hell out. A man who, we now realize, really did just lose an election because all of the people who didn't vote for him actually did vote against him. He's a loser, and we know, and now we know that he knows it, because otherwise he wouldn't be throwing away the last fraction of a percent of his integrity like this.

You're done, Stephen. There's a plush VP's job waiting for you somewhere. Some type of job where you don't do any work but they give you tonnes of cash and stock options in gratitude for your service to the wealthy of our nation.

Go home, already. Everything from here on in is just disgraceful.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Respect for that guy McGuinty

I'm always surprised by the people I end up having to respect.

David Hasselhoff flies around the world at his own expense for Make-a-Wish. Ricky Martin runs a foundation in Thailand getting prostitution bound children in to schools.

And now, Dalton McGuinty, the guy who tried to pretend the outgoing Tory government's deficit didn't exist and put a "Health Care Levy" on us, has gone and told the banks to bugger off if they want a tax cut.

Oh, no, please don't take away the high-paying financial sector jobs!

Look, I'm going to tell you the same thing I'm telling the auto industry guys: there's only so much work to do. If you have too many people, we know you're going to lay off the extras. What does it matter how much money we give you. And mark my words, this is not like the auto industry bailout which is technically a loan. No. The banks want a four percent tax cut. That's a direct gift.

Good for you, Dalton.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

But Under Saddam ...

"That shoe-throwing guy should be happy he has that much freedom". That was the line that Fox News spun out for us from the very beginning. If Saddam were in power, we were told, that guy would have his head chopped off. The unstated corollary is that he should be ashamed to be throwing a shoe at the very man who had given him the freedom to throw shoes.

I have no desire to be an apologist for Saddam Hussein. But as far as Iraqis are concerned, the country is way, way worse off since the Americans arrived and bungled their way through conquest and occupation. Over a million dead, millions more living in exile. Roadside bombs and religious violence are a way of life.

But it's okay, you have "freedom". You have the freedom to die of Depleted Uranium poisoning; the freedom to be sodomized with a broomstick; the freedom to be killed by a American soldier or mercenary because you didn't understand his command to stop.

Yeah. You should all be thankful to George Bush. He's your hero, you ingrates.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Conservatives Tried Subprime

I guess we're just fortunate that we had a Liberal government for all those years that the Americans were desperately trying to loot their economy for the sake of the rich. While they were setting up mortgages to people who had no business having mortgages, we had a Liberal government that wasn't letting that happen in Canada.

We did manage to get a Conservative government in 2006 and they did their best to completely ruin our economy, but it was too little too late. The subprime bubble was already bursting and, try as they might, Harper and Flaherty couldn't quite get us in to the disaster.

They did their best by creating 40-year, no-money-down mortgages, but they had to cancel that offering when it became obvious how disastrous the long term effects were.

But make no mistake about it. Leaving Conservatives in charge of our economy is a disaster. They'll sell everything off so they can give tax cuts to wealthy people. They'll run up massive, unnecessary debt.

And if they had their way, they'd have dumped our economy straight in to the drain to create huge, fake economic booms for the sake of their banking friends.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Harper v. Ignatieff

I don't like either. Let me say that at the outset.

Harper is a frightening bully even when he has a minority. I can't imagine what he would do to this country if he had a majority. How many wars do you want to fight attached to the dying embers of the bankrupt American Empire? How much debt do you want to find this country in while he shovels money not to medicine but to wealthy corporations and party contributors? How much torture will our nation condone?

I want none of it.

Ignatieff, meanwhile, has his own concerns. He strikes me somewhat as an American style Democrat. His platform will be slightly smaller tax cuts for the wealthy, slightly more money for healthcare. It won't be great, but you'll have to say to yourself, "Well, it's better than that other guy and at least his party won't try to make church attendance mandatory".

Ignatieff, like Harper, supported the war in Iraq. If either had been Prime Minister at the time of the U.S. invasion, Canadians might still be dying in that country. It's bad enough they're dying in Afghanistan. One hundred have given their lives for a battle we will eventually have to decide we can't win. But with Harper or Ignatieff in command, they'd be dying in Iraq too.

There is, however, one major difference between the two featured here in an article about the recent fiscal update in which Harper tried to defund his opponents. No, it's not the "reaching out" bit. That's a scam and we all know it. It's this bit:
But Mr. Harper refused to accept any blame for causing the recent political crisis, or admit that controversial measures in his fiscal update were a mistake.

Instead, he said there was a conspiracy by opposition leaders to bring down his government regardless of what was in update.

That's right. The Prime Minister saw weakness and attempted to obliterate the other parties by bankrupting them, knowing his own wealthy donors would keep his boat floating as long as he keeps the tax cuts coming. When that triggered a revolt in Parliament, he took the measures away and yet took no responsibility for the galvanizing effect his cruelty had caused.

Compare and contrast, as my English teacher used to say. This is from an article Ignatieff wrote in the New York Times regarding his support for the invasion of Iraq.
"The unfolding catastrophe in Iraq has condemned the political judgment of a president, but it has also condemned the judgment of many others, myself included, who as commentators supported the invasion."

Unfortunately you'll find, if you read his apology in depth, that he feels the mistake he made was in underestimating the cost of the invasion, not in the fact that there was no legitimate reason for any kind of invasion in the first place. This makes him no better or worse than Harper in that respect.

And yet, at the same time, therein lies the difference.

Ignatieff can admit that he made a mistake. Harper can not.

If I have to choose between two ivory tower, American Empire supporting jackasses, I'll take the one who has shown at least a tendency toward teachability.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Vatican: Bait and Switch on Gayness

A resolution has been introduced at the United Nations to ask all member states to decriminalize homosexuality.

The relevant portion of the text is very simple. It reads:
We ask the Human Rights Council to request a universal abolition of the so-called "crime of homosexuality", of all "sodomy laws", and laws against so-called "unnatural acts" in all the countries where they still exist.

What it means is: stop killing and imprisoning people for consensual sex acts.

Nothing complicated or objectionable, unless you're the pope, in which case it's the beginning of a slide in to damnation. Then you're afraid that this would:
"add new categories of those protected from discrimination"

Yes. That's the whole point. We want to stop discrimination - especially the kind where you kill someone for being different. We hate to have to drag you all the way up to the middle of the 20th century, but the whole world is moving toward "not killing people for being different."

Also, this resolution:
could lead to the decline of heterosexual marriage

Yes, that's the whole point. We want to stop having sham heterosexual marriages because one of the partners is entering it under duress to cover up for the "crime" of having homosexual tendencies. Those are the only marriages that could cause a "decline". Is that what you're worried about? People around the world won't be making themselves miserable in order to follow your doctrine?

Now we come to the bait and switch. Now the Vatican, the pope and their spokesman, will outright lie and attribute to the resolution things which are plainly not in it.
... states which do not recognize same-sex unions as 'matrimony' will be pilloried and made an object of pressure

Read the resolution. Where does it say this? All that is says is stop treating gays like criminals. It's not a long resolution. It's not like you could have misread something.

No, pope, you are your followers are just lying. But that's nothing special for your bunch, is it? Why don't you just go back to shuffling around the pedophiles you shelter, nurture and create? That's about your level.

There is nothing in this resolution that would harm anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together. The only ones harmed are those who will have to deal with the fact that homosexuals exist and that the rest of us are no longer able to pretend they don't exist by having them jailed or killed.

As for the rest, it's typical right wing fear mongering, trying to convince you that a law or resolution against discrimination is somehow going to force gay marriages upon their churches or anal sex upon their sons.

h/t to Canuck Attitude.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dorks Unite

I think this is my elementary school experience being played out in real life.

Stephen: Gr, (punch-punch), you guys are such dorks. Haha, you're bleeding!

Stephane: Ow, ow, ow. Why won't my friends back me up?

Stephen: Aw, whatchagonnado, call the teacher?
Stephen wanders away

Gilles: Don't tell the teacher, that never works.

Stephane: Yeah, I know.

Jack: We should do something about that guy.

The following day.

Stephen: Alright you weanies, hand over your lunch money!

Stephane, Gilles, Jack: No, way!
The three of them start pummeling Stephen who goes running away to the principal's office.

Stephen arrives at the principal's office, covering his black eye and pointing at the playground

Stephen: They were mean to me! Even after I told them I would let them keep their lunch money.

GG: Hm, well you have been quite a bully. Maybe this will teach you some humility. I think we'll have a time out and we can fix this after Christmas. Until then, you're not allowed back in the school.


All I'm saying is that I've had enough of bullies being in charge of our country. Harper, Chretien and Mulroney in Canada, Harris in Ontario. I'm tired of them all. You want to call Dion a dork because he can't put an orange ball in a net. Fine. It's about time one of us was in charge of this country.

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This Is Not Democracy

How could the Governor General possibly do this?

Let's suppose I'm the mayor of Ottawa. I spent my entire term kicking babies, shutting down libraries and getting drunk. Everyone hates me.

It's the day after the election. The polls demonstrate that I'm going to lose by a landslide. The Election Returns Officer has the poll counts, ready to be announced. I go over to him and I say, "Listen, I want you to not announce the vote totals for the next two months. I'll just go on quietly being mayor and making decisions without the will of the people behind me."

And the Returns Officer says .... "Yes"?

What?

I'm not living in a democracy right now. I never have, of course. The country has always been ruled by a slight minority which possessed a majority of seats in the House of Commons. But this is even worse. Even by the rules of our representative Parliament, this is a violation of democracy.

This is just as bad as the Returns Officer in the analogy above. The Governor General has a letter sitting in front of her that says Stephen Harper does not have the confidence of the house. All she has to do is sit back and make him face the counting. Instead she's used her royal power to set this count aside.

We're being ruled by a leader who has no respect for opposing viewpoints and no accountability.

I don't what we're living in now, but it's nothing at all like a democracy.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Democracy Isn't Your Whore, Mr. Harper.

With apologies to Arundhati Roy, who figured this out a long time ago.

Democracy isn't your Whore, Mr. Harper. You can't just pick something you want, write democracy on it and pretend it's the real thing.

George Bush was fond of doing this during the lead up to the Iraq War. They were invading Iraq for democracy, didn't you know? And democratic countries were those that supported the war, like Turkey where 95% of the people opposed it, or Spain where a significant majority also opposed it. That's democracy, you see, when you say you're supporting democracy against the wishes of the people.

But it's not going to work in Canada Mr. Harper. You can't dress up democracy in this country, take it out for stroll one night to gain credibility and then bend it over your couch back at Sussex drive.

People in this country can actually read and they can find the definition of democracy in the dictionary quite easily: (noun) a system of government in which the majority rule.

You have a minority, Mr. Harper. The majority of the population wants policies other than yours. The majority of parliamentarians want policies other than yours.

That cheap whore you keep calling democracy isn't the real thing. 46% of the seats in Parliament doesn't make a majority and it doesn't give you the right to rule. You can dress that up however you want, it's still a lie. You can pimp that lie all over town, call her a lady and call everyone who disagrees a treasonous, separatist hoodlum bent on overthrowing her.

But we know better. We can count. We can add. We know what democracy really means.

And that prostitute you cart around ain't it.

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Christmas Carols

If the coalition is my early Christmas present, then the exploding Conservative heads with their thrashing and whining constitute the Carolers.

The Facebook group "Canadians Against the Left Coalition" wants to tell us this is an "overthrow" of the government.

I can definitely hear "Oh, come, oh come! Unholy Alliance!" being sung to the tune of "Oh, come, oh, come Emmanuel".

And of course there's the stunningly ignorant complaint that "no one voted for this coalition". Maybe you haven't noticed that there was no "coalition/not coalition" option on your ballot. That's because the potential for coalition has been and always will be a part of our representative parliament.

And there's incredibly hypocritical complaint from pretty much any of these guys that the Liberals are in bed with separatists(Separatists! Separatists! Separatists!). I don't know guys, do you remember when Stephen Harper wanted to get in bed with the separatists to "overthrow" the Martin government in 2004. Fortunately, the Internet remembers. I'm sure you've all got a ready rationalization for why it was okay for Harper but not for Dion.

It's all music to my ears. Even if it doesn't work out, it was worth it just to drive up their collective blood pressure.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Power Must Be Earned, Not Taken

I wonder if I have to put (TM) at the end of that. It`s the crux of the new Conservative ad campaign to ... well, it`s not quite clear what they hope to do. I suppose the goal is to make people scream, hate and throw rocks until they force the country to violate its Parliamentary rules and call an election for no good reason.

But they tell "Power must be earned, not taken".

I never really thought of a democracy that way. Power isn`t suppose to be taken or earned. Power comes from a mandate from a majority of the people`s representatives. Ideally, it ought to come from a majority of the people, but we have a representative democracy, so that`s how we roll.

But if you`re a Conservative, maybe you think in terms of taking power. That`s certainly how Harper has played it. He had a minor lead over the Liberals before dissolution of Parliament and, seeing weakness, he made every bill he put forth a confidence motion, daring the Liberals to call him on it. He governed in minority like a majority.

It was all about power.

Then he went too far. Then he tried to use his power to defund his opponents. It was a kick below the belt and it galvanized the opposition. Did he assume that Dion, as a lame duck, would not stand up for his party? Did he assume that we would quietly let our democracy die? Did he think we would want a government of the rich?

Fool.

He thinks in terms of power and went over the edge - and that was with a minority. Imagine what would have happened if he`d eeked out his majority.

It shouldn`t be about power. It should be about service. But Stephen Harper wouldn`t understand that.

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Dear Santa: I Want Democracy

And Christmas has come early.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Democracy. The Liberals, NDP and Bloc have formed a coalition to prevent the destruction of democracy in Canada.

You think I'm being melodramatic? Sorry, no. The Conservative desire to use their 37% of the popular vote to steamroll the other parties in to nonexistence has finally forced the rest of the political sphere to ally against them.

The first thing the Conservatives planned to do was to retroactively cancel public funding of political parties. Although this would cost themselves more money than the other parties (since public funding is vote based) the Conservatives have far richer donors than any of the other parties. Canceling public funding would hardly be noticed by the Conservatives, even while it destroyed everyone else.

So the Liberals, NDP and Bloc have assembled a coalition and have told the Governor General that this coalition would have the confidence of Parliament. This, after all, is what a Prime Minister needs.

The Conservatives are in full mobilization, sending their minions forth upon talk radio with Talking Points and planning Demonstrations. Galloping Beaver has a wonderful destruction of their talking points.

The most important point, however, is their idea that it is somehow anti-democratic for the majority of MPs, with a majority of the popular vote, to form a government and remove a minority government with a minority of the popular vote.

Democracy: (noun); rule of the majority.

Pretty simple really.

From an atheist to all of you out there in blogland: Merry Christmas. I feel positively chipper about the whole thing.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Religious Nutbars at it Again

If they're not knocking on your door on a Saturday morning trying to get you to become a Mormon, a Jehovah's Witness or something else, they're off in somebody else's country throwing acid at little girls who want to learn or smashing planes in to buildings.

The odd time, they'll do something useful as an accidental byproduct of their religious beliefs - build a hospital, give to a charity or make a brilliant piece of music. But let's be honest, this sort of thing is tangential to the apparent purpose of religion which is grouping people together in conformity to allow a priestly group to control their behaviour and finances.

Now you're probably thinking that what I'm saying is unfair. You're probably thinking that your religious belief (if you have one) isn't like those other ones. You don't throw acid at people, smash planes in to buildings or order an Infinite Crusade against Muslim terrorists. Why would I group all of these people together?

I group them all together because they all enforce the same mainline doctrine: that people should obey a set of rules and a moral code without thinking about it.

Just as Abraham was rewarded for being willing to mindlessly set his son on fire, a priest tells his followers to believe things without evidence. He tells them to believe because the belief "feels right".

Rest assured that the people throwing acid on the little girls' faces and the people flying those planes in to those buildings all "felt right" about what they were doing. They were convinced to discard their own moral centres and obey the dictates of a cleric somewhere.

You'll read in the article that the Taliban deny having anything to do with the incidents involving the school girls. Of course they deny it. I'm quite certain that there was no order coming down from the clerics instructing their followers in these actions. But the stage was set by them. They created the hatred. They stoked the fear. They taught the irrationality and nurtured it with carefully selected quotes and passages from holy works, just as popes, bishops, rabbis, imams and other religious leaders have for millennia.

We can't continue to make decisions this way.

We can't afford to allow people to cloak their supposedly "moral" dictates with the uncritical cloth of religion. We have to stand up to them and tell them their beliefs are nonsense. We have to demand evidence - not feelings, but evidence - if they demand action from us. We have to demand logical explanations for their versions of "morality" and an analysis of the results they've had from imposing it on people.

As long as we all stand back, prevented by some taboo from criticizing this insanity, we will all continue to suffer.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cyberbullying Not a Homicide Case

We have a thirteen year old girl named Megan. She was emotionally unstable to the point where she had already made an attempt on her own life.

We have a 49 year old woman named Lori Drew and her thirteen year old daughter, Sarah, who created a fake online personality. They used this personality, named "Josh", to harass and manipulate Megan in to committing suicide.

They eventually mocked her and told her that the world would be better off without her. Megan shortly thereafter committed suicide.

This is what gets me:
Defence attorney Dean Steward told jurors ... she [Lori Drew] was not facing charges dealing with the suicide.

“This is not a homicide case,” Mr. Steward said.

Why not?

What on earth would it take to make it a homicide case? You went after a vulnerable, mentally unstable teenager and basically told her to kill herself. And this isn't murder?

Suppose you walked out on a balcony of an apartment building and found a mentally disabled person standing against the railing. Suppose you then told this person that he could fly and you encouraged him to jump to his death.

Wouldn't you be guilty of murder?

Even then, that's only (only?) murder in the second degree or manslaughter or whatever. In the case of Megan's death, we're talking about legions of planning and days or weeks of manipulation. This is premeditated. If this isn't first-degree murder, what is?

I'm aware that I lack lawyerly expertise and that there is probably some technicality through which, by virtue of not actually physically being anywhere near Megan, a conviction of murder would violate some centuries old definition. But let's be prepared to acknowledge that the world is a changing place.

There's still a dead body. There's still someone obviously to blame for it.

What about that isn't murder?

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Let Big Auto Fail?

Really, let's think about it.

They've made whole fleets of useless, oversized cars. They've protested every attempt at imposing mileage standards. And now they're in trouble. They're prophesying doom and gloom for a whole plethora of vertically integrated suppliers and resources.

Here's the thing, though.

Either people want to buy those cars or people don't. Either people can afford those cars or people can't. All that government intervention can do is allow the automakers to make more cars that people apparently aren't buying.

Let's say that again.

All that government intervention can do is force more unwanted cars in to existence.

Why would we spend our national treasure in this manner? (Yes, I know it's actually low interest loans, but that still counts as money.) Why would we spend unwanted things in to existence? Why would we favour such use of precious mineral and energy resources?

If the big three automakers are failing, it's because they produce things that no one wants. If they want to attract more customers, make products that are desirable. Something in the fuel efficient, cost effective area might work better. If you want to save these companies, you're barking up the wrong tree. They have to save themselves.

On the flip side, it's just barely possible that we just don't need so many cars - or maybe we just don't need to be trading them in every two years. Maybe the credit isn't there to afford that lifestyle anymore. In that case, you're just building cars for nobody. Sure, the government can make them cheaper by floating low-interest loans through the car companies, but that's not going to make that big a difference.

Sorry, Big Three. If no one wants your products, why should taxpayers donate their savings to making them anyway?

It just doesn't make sense.

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More Parental Leave When You Have Twins

I have always found security and reassurance in a debate when I discover that my opponents are extremely illiterate. Use of "argument by Caps Lock" and excessive punctuation (i.e. !!?!!!???!) are also soothing.

So when I read this article about parents of twins who feel that they should each be able to take full, simultaneous, parental leave (with E.I. payments), I was gratified to see that most of the people opposed to their suit were incoherently angry.

Briefly, the law in Canada currently allows a total of 35 weeks of parental leave. This leave may be taken by either parent after the birth of a child. The leave may be split between the parents, but they may not take it concurrently. Traditionally, Mom stays home until she feels like going back to work, then Dad can take the rest of the leave if he wants.

What these parents are arguing is that the mother should be able to take 35 weeks of leave for the first child and the father should be able to take 35 weeks of leave for the second. They argue that this is legitimate because leave time should be child-based, not pregnancy-based. Basically, if their children were born a year apart, they would get two slates of 35 weeks of leave. If the children are born a minute apart, 35 weeks of leave disappears.

On the other hand, they also argue that twins are more work and therefore two parents are initially required.

For entertainment you can read the comments attached to the article. Some people quietly agree. Some quietly find a middle ground. Some more people are angrily disagreeing. My favourite, now deleted, invited Mr. Martin to "keep his dick in his pants" if he didn't want to pay for his own children.

The article and the comments seem to be a mishmash of pedantic examinations of the wording of various Acts and insults. How is the law worded? Can they sue for discrimination? How will government employees interpret the wording?

This is missing the point. The point is that we as a society decided that a parent taking time off work is a good thing. Therefore we pledge to ensure that any parent taking time off work for a newborn will be protected from dismissal and somewhat financially assisted. The question in front of us is not whether the wording of the Act allows extra leave for twins. The question is not a matter of lawsuits and discrimination.

The question is: Do we as a society feel that we would all benefit from having parents take extra leave in the case of multiple births?

My suspicion is that the answer is very probably "yes" but that the additional parental leave would not be a full 35 weeks for a second parent. Twins are more work, yes, but they aren't twice the work. There's some overhead there. We'll probably find, very shortly, that the government institutes a 10 to 15 week "concurrent leave allowance" or some such thing, for the second parent, in the case of multiple births.

That would probably make everybody happy, except for the "argument by Caps Lock" people, whom we should ignore anyway.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Republicans Confused

Some of them are still stuck on the idea that everything is Clinton's fault. But after eight years, that's getting ridiculous. So ... let's blame the faltering economy on ... drum roll ... Obama!

Yes, we'll compare the yo-yo of the day-trading on Wall St. with the yo-yo of campaign polling twitches and declare a correlation between Obama being in the lead and the Dow Jones going down.

Why look! There was a 14% down tick during the last two weeks! That's the day traders and brokers registering their disapproval of Obama! (Actually, I'm kind of okay with the idea that brokers and traders disapprove of the next president.)



On the other hand, there's the occasional Republican supporter who acknowledges that Bush was a failure. Seeing as he ran as a conservative and failed to ever balance a budget, this seems to me a long time in coming, but as long as you get there eventually I suppose you can say it's all about the journey. I'm not sure how a single person can acknowledge what a lousy budget-balancer Bush was and simultaneously credit him with huge tax cuts. I suppose this is part of the general and international tendency of conservatives to demand tax cuts without naming what services they will also cut. They like to eat their cake and have it too.

Ah, lovely is self destruction.

I can't wait for the attempt to rebuild the Republican party that involves the social conservatives demanding more and the fiscal conservatives telling them to shut up while the power brokers of the party really just want to loot the treasury.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Quick Investment Lesson From Mr. Harper

Okay, Mr. Harper, we've all been inundated with your economic credentials.
"... an accountant at Imperial Oil"

"He took up post-secondary studies again at the University of Calgary, where he completed a Bachelor's degree in economics."

"He later returned there to earn a Master's degree in economics, completed in 1993."

He is also famous for advising Canadians, while the subprime mortgage crisis was taking down international stock markets, that there were probably some "good deals" out there.

So Mr. Harper, explain this to me. Explain why, during a lull in real estate prices, your Finance Minister is selling off Crown lands.

Fill in the blanks, here: Buy ____, Sell ____.

Unless, of course, you have a separate plan. Perhaps your plan is to sell off these Crown lands for billions of dollars to your corporate friends, then give them billions of dollars in tax breaks so the end result for the Canadian tax payer is simply that we have less stuff.

I know you have a great deal of economic knowledge, so I'm sure you're not selling off Crown property at fire sale prices because you're stupid. But if you're not stupid, the only other real option is that you're defrauding the Canadian public.

h/t to Red Tory.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama make Bishop Angry, grrrrr!

Us bishops fight Obama! Grrrrr!

In case you've forgotten that the Catholic Church opposes abortion, it does.

Of course it's not that catholics oppose abortion.
Sixty-five percent of non-practicing Catholics identified themselves as "pro-choice" on abortion, compared to 36% of practicing Catholics.

I'm sure that's the fault of atheists ... somehow.

But onward. The Catholic Bishops, whom I don't recall ever chastising George Bush over his failure to implement any anti-abortion legislation, are now going to "forcefully confront the Obama administration over its support for abortion rights".

I don't think it matters to them what anyone does. It only matters what a guy says.

Bush opposed abortion. He said so. He made it a lot more annoying to get an abortion. He probably even made it so annoying that a number of unwanted children were forced in to existence. With his opposition to sex education, he probably caused a lot of unwanted pregnancies. But he never really, in his eight years, did anything serious to illegalize abortion.

Obama, on the other hand, supports the current Roe v. Wade detente that draws a fuzzy line at the third trimester with exceptions. That is what the bishops oppose. Not the fact that neither presidential candidate would have done anything to change the law. They'll ignore the fact that the liberal approach of teaching sex education is actually better at reducing abortions than trying to legislate them out of existence.

Logic doesn't apply. The Bishops want a frothing at the mouth religious fanatic decrying the evils of abortion. If you want to approach the issue in any other way, they'll "forcefully confront" you about it.

Apparently that might include excommunicating Joe Biden, a man who claims Catholicism as his faith. Apparently you can't be Catholic while supporting legal abortion. I'm going to ahead and guess that the Bishops have never "forcefully confronted" politicians who work on Sundays. I hear that's an important commandment too.

It'll be such a wonderful world when we can shed all of this nonsense and make decisions based on logic, reason, empathy and fairness instead of the ramblings of a bunch of old men, sexually deprived and straining to derive morality from a two-thousand year old book written by one nomadic cult with another cult's nonsense tacked on helter skelter.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

The Free Market needs Socialized Medicine

It doesn't seem obvious at first. In fact, it seems contradictory. How could it be possible that a free market system could co-exist, and even benefit by, a government run, single-payer, health care system?

Let's first of all establish what "free market" means. I've received a recent and inspiring education from Rational Reasons and a bunch of other sources on the subject of "free markets" and "libertarianism".

If we were living in a free market system (which we aren't) it would mean that consumers are free to choose the best products. Natural economic supply and demand would work together with the consumer's judgment of quality to select the supplier or manufacturer who is doing the best job. If we impede the flow of the free market too much - say by creating incentives for the existence of large companies or by subsidizing certain raw materials - we will damage the ability of the free market to adjust itself to maximum efficiency.

On paper, you have to admit that this sounds pretty good.

As an example of where the free market would fail, if every soap I can buy changes my skin complexion such that I have to go through a four week period of skin rashes and boils when I change soaps, we can't really pretend that there's a free market in soap.

My argument is that, in a free market, people have to have the same freedom to move about from job to job. If my employer can keep me attached to him unfairly – say by blacklisting me, beating me up or burning down my house – then we don't really have a free market. It would allow terrible employers to continue to employ people that the employers don't deserve to have employed.

This is how I see private payer health care, as an unfair tether.

The fact that health care is provided by an employer allows an employer to unfairly attach me to his company. He can pay me less than a proper market rate - therefore damaging the power of the free market - simply by the fact that I could find myself dead if my next employer's health insurance declares my disease to be "pre-existing". Even worse, the situation creates a powerful bias against small companies and self-employment because private health insurance becomes prohibitively expense for individuals and small groups of people. This creates incentives for the existence of larger companies that otherwise might have no business existing in a free market.

The only possible way to keep the free market going is to remove the private money from health insurance. Health insurance should be paid by a government. Even if you wanted to allow private clinics to provide services in competition with the government, you have to keep private money as far away as possible from the paying side of the operation.

This is the only way to guarantee that labour is sufficiently lubricated to make this whole dream of the benefit of the "free market" come true for the vast majority of the people.

Guarantee people health care and you guarantee them freedom.

The mantra from the libertarians is that it is the freedom to choose that will make the economy work properly. In order to really have the freedom to choose, the people must know that, regardless of their choice, they will be secure of body and health. Consequently, we must sacrifice a small, irrelevant part of "choice" (i.e. who pays for the health care) in order to open up a whole world of choice in something orders of magnitude more important - where you want to work.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Bullies Are Sadists: Study

I don't want to get in to the Sarah Palin "fruit flies in France" pit of ignorance, but I really do have to wonder what people are thinking when they do studies like this one.

There's no way to expose the stupidity except to quote the opening lines of the article.
Brain scans of teens with a history of aggressive bullying suggest that they may actually get pleasure out of seeing someone else in pain ...

it is not what the researchers expected ...

"It is entirely possible their brains are lighting in the way they are because they experience seeing pain in others as exciting and fun and pleasurable," Dr. Lahey said.

Can I break from my normal calm and professional blogging manner and curse for a moment?

Thanks.

I'm going to lead with, "No shit, Sherlock."

Are you telling me that the reason that we haven't evolved strategies to correctly deal with bullying is that the people developing those strategies weren't aware that the people doing the bullying are doing it for their own enjoyment?

I've got my own kids now. At some point, growing up, I realized that there are two really important things I wanted to develop in my children. The first is delayed gratification. The second is empathy. If my kids grow up with willpower and the ability to understand people, it doesn't much matter to me how much money they make or what fame they achieve, I know they'll be good people. I know they won't hurt others and I know they won't hurt themselves.

But this? This nonsense? After all these years of "cracking down" on bullying in schools, the social workers and psychologists are just now scientifically concluding that a bully has a failed sense of empathy that enables him to enjoy the suffering he inflicts?

We should have realized decades ago that we were producing and harbouring little sociopaths, not figuring out just last week.

Maybe now the geniuses behind this study can start producing real strategies for dealing with bullies. Of course, the strategy already exists and it's the only one I've ever known to work. It is elucidated most clearly by Gina and Mercer Mayer in their book "Just a Bully". I highly recommend it to be read as a bedtime story to all children that might ever have to deal with this problem.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fracturing Conservatives

I've always had the vague feeling that the Democrats in the United States were a little more mentally and emotionally stable than the Republicans. Yes, the Republicans have the evangelicals, who are noteworthy for nothing if not for their absolute craziness. But on top of that, the party just seems more vicious. You don't see the Democrats devouring their own losers nearly as nastily as you see the Republicans doing it.

It goes to the heart of the same problem I see with the lack of realism in the Republican party. Sarah Palin was praying for a win, praying to wake up in the morning as "Vice-president elect" even when that was obviously outright impossible.

Crazy and vicious. Is it any wonder, after eight years of rulership by these people, that the country is bankrupt, hated by most of the world and in the middle of two confused, wasteful wars?

These people just aren't balanced. I'm glad the American population got rid of them, even if only just barely.

Now we can perhaps watch the Republican party fracture in to fiscally conservative and bat-shit insane evangelical factions, ushering in an error of democracy, public healthcare, peace and sanity throughout the world.

Well. We can hope.

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Dion and Palin: Off the Record

Remember when Dion was lambasted for not being able to answer that incoherent and grammatically senseless question from a CTV interviewer?

Remember how the Conservative party - quite foolishly - tried to jump on the language problem as if it were an actual hole in the Liberal platform?

Remember how guys like this jumped on it, telling us that conservatives of any stripe would never get "do-overs" from the media, so why should Liberals expect it?

Heh. Try this:



The important quote comes up at 0:10 in to the video:
I wish I could have told you back at the time but all of it was put off the record until after the election.

And what were the items put "off the record"? Palin didn't know that Africa was continent as opposed to a country. She didn't know what countries were in NAFTA.

So whereas Stephane Dion couldn't handle an incoherent question, Palin was actually vitally ignorant in important matters ... and the media kept it "off the record".

Nice.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

They elected a black guy

I don't really have much more to say.

I never thought, all those years of seeing Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, that the American people could really go through with it. To actually watch this happen, even after seeing the polls so confidently predicting it, is still gut wrenching.

It'll be a different world when I wake up tomorrow.

Something else struck me, though, as I've just finished watching McCain's concession speech. Suddenly, I saw the John McCain who ran against the George Bush in 2000. The guy who got "illegitimate black baby"'d out of the race. Gone was the guy making up stupid lies about teaching sex education to Kindergarten students. Gone were the lies and the random religious associations. Suddenly he seemed a lot classier than the movement of belligerent fanatics that the party had put behind him. He had to repeatedly restrain the booing of his own followers.

Maybe he still has some class. At least he sounded authentic. Maybe he's glad to be free of the yokels he'd had to bow to.

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Liberals more Realistic

I speak to you not of the Liberal Party of Canada, but of liberals people in general.

When the Liberal Party was losing the last election, most of us on the left were pretty realistic. Our best hope at the beginning of the election was to run some sort of ABC campaign to somehow forge a left coalition. As the days wore on and it was obvious that Dion wasn't picking up votes, we understood that a Conservative minority was coming and the best we could do was prevent a majority.

It doesn't seem to work that way for Conservatives.

Look at this guy. Even though there's a monstrous number of polls showing Obama leading by insurmountable margins, a single Zogby poll is enough to sway him.

The other guy wants to pray for a McCain win.

I can't imagine what they're saying over at Free Republic. But they're always crazy there, so maybe it doesn't count.

My point is simply that, despite our apparently airy-faery, touchie-feelie crazy pinko communist way, we seem to be a lot more in touch with reality than our opponents.

That's got to work out for us, somehow, in the long run.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

That Sad Victimized Religious Majority

You've seen them pull this trick over and over again. The massive numbers of religious people in our country caterwauling about how victimized they are by teeming hordes of vicious, selfish, intolerant, immoral atheists.

Yes, the multibillion dollar religious empire of the 700 club, the Vatican, the Moral Majority, Focus on the Family and the Republican party is now being threatened by the awesome, irresistible force of the University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics. Look at that website! Three posts in October!

So says Naomi Lakritz in the Ottawa Citizen and the Calgary Herald (where the subtitle is "Silent majority is awfully tired of being told to shut up").

Step one of the game plan is to minimize the actual desires of the pro-religious faction. All they want to do is just say "God". Why can't the evil atheists just let them say the word "God"?

Step two is to declare that atheists are intolerant because they want to stop religious people from even saying "God". Don't we have free speech in this country? What about tolerance?

Step three is to outright insult atheists as narcissistic, by which I'm sure she means "selfish". Then pretend that atheists want to stop people from being buried under crosses if they so choose.

Let's take them in order.

Step one. This is absolutely crucial. The desire at this convocation is not to "God Bless" the dentists (some of whom are atheists) but to instruct them to use their skills for the "Glory of God". If you don't understand why I wouldn't want to be told to use my skills for the glory of your god, then you haven't read the bible. I have read the bible. The last thing we should be doing is adding to continuous history of murder that is currently the "glory" of your god.

Step two. I am not being intolerant. Are you even aware of the sheer hypocrisy of looking me in the eye and telling me to worship your god while calling me intolerant? That's what you're doing. You're telling me to glorify your deity and then complaining because I object to your instruction. It is your intolerance that stands out here.

Step three: If you want "narcissistic", read about the cruelties supposedly ordered by your god. Isn't one of the commandments, "thou shalt have no other gods"? That's narcissism. Narcissism is usually associated with criminal behaviour and even sociopathy. Would you like to examine the prison statistics by religious affiliation and tell me which of us is underrepresented in prison? Go ahead. Have a look.

She finishes with one more comment that begs for a response:
Rather, it's about how, when you see or hear the expression of someone else's faith, you don't demand it be squelched because you don't like hearing it.

This isn't about squelching your free speech or your expression of your views. I support your right to your religious beliefs along with my right to tell you you're wrong. I don't generally exercise this right, because I don't much care, until you insult me or knock on my door on a Saturday morning and disturb my game of Zelda.

This is about religious people, with control of a public ceremony, commanding people to worship their god. It's about loons like you, Ms. Lakritz, telling people that we're immoral if we don't share your beliefs.

That's intolerant. That's immoral.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

O'Connor: Torturer gets Whip

I don't even want to comment on the rest of the ministers. None of it matters with the absolute iron-fisted control that Harper exercises over his ministers, preventing any of them from speaking to the press without vetting everything through his own office.

This is the one that gets me:
Jay Hill takes over as House leader and Gordon O'Connor replaces Mr. Hill as Chief Government Whip.

Whip.

The man who told our soldiers and officers that it was okay to send prisoners off to authorities that he knew were torturing prisoners - even killing them.

The man who lied to Parliament about the Red Cross being able to inform us if any torture were occurring.

The man who resigned in disgrace because of his lying.

And they make him The Whip.

I believe, in literature, they call that "over-written".

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Racism: Teach it When They're Young

It's a lot like religion, I suppose. If you don't teach it to them when they're little, they'll never believe you when they're older.

That's why we tell cutesy bible stories, illustrated in cartoon fashion, and leave out the cruel, bloody bits.

Once upon a time, I saw a Phil Donahue episode. I think I was about 10 years old. Phil had a group of white supremacists on - a family in fact. There was a little boy on the show who seemed to be about my age. Seated in the front row were some truly astonished dark-skinned people.

I remember the boy's mother saying that, yes, they were teaching their son about the difference between the races. The quote is burned in my mind: "He knows that there are three kinds of people. There are men, there are women and there are n-----rs." They didn't bleep it out back then. With well-dressed, articulate black people staring her in the face, she enunciated her world view very clearly.

Then they asked the young boy if he knew what a "n----r" was. He didn't want to answer. His mother excused his shyness and told him to point one out as he definitely knew what one was. When the camera zoomed in on his face though, you could tell he wasn't shy. You could tell that he knew something was wrong. He knew that his parents had taught him something wrong.

Would that every child could be smart and skeptical enough to do the same. Sadly, that's not the case. If you really want to understand all of those "Strong GOP" states on the electoral map, all you have to do is understand the generation to generation passing on of racism.

Watch the first 20 seconds of this video. It's more disturbing, at least to me, as a parent, than all of the catcalls of "socialism", "communism", "muslim" and everything else.



(h/t: jhuth on Democratic Underground)

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Only because he's black

That McClellan. You know he's only doing it because Obama's black.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

President Jesus



She just can't vote for a President who will be named President Oo-bama.

Fortunately, he doesn't pronounce it that way, so maybe there's a loophole.

But seriously, can you believe that? I think we should all just be happy that enough Americans are smart enough not to fall for this. Maybe education in the U.S. can improve enough (under an Obama presidency) to reduce the number of people who credulously fall in to this kind of religious/political dogmatic trap.

I've always thought that religion was dangerous this way: it teaches people to accept things without thinking about them.

I wonder if we could propose a resolution to this crisis for her.

Is it true that the President of the United States in chosen by God? I'm sure I've heard enough religious nutbars say so.

If Obama does manage to get elected, are you willing to admit that God must have chosen him? Wouldn't he then have God's approval?

Nah. They'd probably just think God was punishing America with (take your pick) the socialist, fascist, surrendering Liberal, dictator, Muslim, anti-christ because of America's (take your pick) abortions, gayness, Sunday shopping, pornography, clothing made of mixed fibers.

Best of luck, my American friends.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Harper's Six Points: Emptiness

He's not going to do anything.

That's probably because he doesn't know what to do.

There are two possibilities regarding this election. Either super-awesome economist Stephen Harper saw this economic disaster coming and wanted to get the election in before his party started taking fallout, or super-awesome economist Stephen Harper didn't see it coming.

I don't know which is worse for Harper.

When I look at his six point plan, I don't see any substance. It's all about meeting with people (and pretending that he's initiating the meetings, when most of them are already planned by others).

A comment on an earlier post pointed to Harper's plan as a copy of Dion's five point plan with a little bit more.

But it's not. Dion's five-point plan had substance.

In amongst the talking which, yes, is important, there was some doing as well. There was a $1B Manufacturing Fund. The first item was to rework Canada's financial regulations to prevent the market manipulation that led to this mess in the U.S.

Go figure. Dorky professor guy had a plan to do something while super-awesome economist guy has no clue what to do.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Colour Me Shocked: Deficits

They're going to blame the economy, naturally, and that's probably fair enough. But we're still looking at four years of deficits.

But still: Flaherty = Deficits.

I don't see why TD's chief economist said the following:
“Many economists have said it's acceptable to run a modest deficit for a short period of time, but there's virtually nobody on record as saying it's acceptable to run deficits for many years in a row,” Mr. Drummond said.

Really? I think we had fifteen years of straight deficits in Ontario, if you count from when Bob Rae began intentionally destroying the NDP to when we finally booted the Progressive "Conservatives" out of office.

What's four years?

They've already had to cancel a couple of military vessels and an arctic sovereignty protecting icebreaker. What will they cancel next? The responsible thing might even be going in to deficit. At that point, they're as screwed as McGuinty having to break his no-tax-increase promise when faced with the PC deficit he took over.

Keep your promise or do what's right?

Best of luck, chuckleheads.

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Tony Clement Revises History

I can't find a transcript yet, so I'm paraphrasing.

Tony Clement, Conservative Health Minister, was on the Agenda on TVO last night. Olivia Chow and Gerard Kennedy were there as well, all of them discussing the results of the election.

Steve Paikin, interviewing, asked Tony Clement if the current atmosphere of Conservative victory was appropriate. While everyone could agree that the NDP and Greens had improved their situation and that the Liberals had lost while the Bloc carried at least of the victory of preventing Harper's majority, could it really be argued that the Conservatives were victorious when their goal in calling the election was to get a majority?

Tony Clement gave an answer that, if I recall correctly, even amazed Steve Paikin.

"We didn't want an election. We were forced in to by the opposition."

Sadly, I had other things on my mind so I can't very well remember anything beyond Paikin's surprise.

This is how the Republicans do things down south. Let's all tell blatant lies with straight faces and dare anyone to argue with us.

How anyone but a rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth, Conservative partisan can believe a line like that is beyond me. According to the polls, no one was in a position to make electoral gains except the Conservatives. The Liberals didn't want an election and took great pains to support the Conservative government at every confidence motion.

And Tony Clement wants us to believe his talking point: the Opposition made us do it.

I suppose, when faced with a $300M plus bill for an election, you'd damn well better have a talking point ready when people ask why you bothered. I think that's even more than the bill for the Sponsorship Scandal.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

G&M Historical Revisionism

You see a lot of this sort of thing in the U.S. in relation to the Iraq war.

"We went in because of WMD"
"We went in because Al Qaeda was in Iraq"
"We went in because Saddam helped with 9/11"
... um ...
"We went in because he's a madman"
"We went in to bring democracy to the region"
etc. etc.

You don't see it as often in Canada, but here it is.
Mr. Harper had called the election on Sept. 7, appealing for a stronger mandate to manage the economy in uncertain times.

What?

No. He wanted a new mandate because he wanted a majority. His excuse at the time was that Parliament was "dysfunctional", a situation his party had intentionally created by stalking out of meetings, yelling at people, ignoring committees and generally being belligerent.

In fact, Stephen Harper, until about a week ago, thought that the economy was doing just fine. There was certainly no need, in his opinion, to call an election so he could deal with it.

But no, we've changed the tune now. Harper called the election, just over a month ago, because of the economy.

Wow! What foresight!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Riding Endorsed Torture-Man

I'm somewhere between amazed and bitter. I don't think Lewis Carroll invented a word for that as he did with chortle and gimble. Let's just say that I'm hardly mimsy.

Did the people in Carleton-Mississippi Mills realize what they were doing?

Here we have a former military officer, Gordon O'Connor, a Brigadier-General no less, who was made Minister of Defence. He told our soldiers and officers to turn their prisoners over to the Afghan authorities.

He lied to us when he told us that the Red Cross would keep tabs on them when he had to know, as an experienced military officer, that the Red Cross has never done any such thing.

He lied when he pretended he didn't know that the Afghan authorities were torturing prisoners to death. Even the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission admitted it.

He made us complicit, as the voters in this democracy of Canada, in a war crime. Certainly he committed the foul, but we committed him and so are responsible for his actions.

But until tonight, we could pretend that he did it against our will. Until tonight, we could argue that we didn't know what he was when we first elected him. We only picked him because he was Conservative in a strong Conservative riding.

But we know now. We know that he aided and abetted torture. We know that he turned a blind eye and tried to cover it up.

And then we elected him again anyway.

What does that say about us? What does it mean the next time a Canadian soldier is taken prisoner? Where now is our moral high ground when we speak of Maher Arar, Omar Khadr and William Sampson? Will they say, "You did it to ours. Why can't we do it to yours?"? What argument will we use then?

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They Dropped the Ball

It was theirs to win, really.

Dion was seen as ineffective: a bad choice; a weak leader. They pitched Stephen Harper as the charismatic leader: affable; good-natured; caring. It was a good pitch. They knew their stuff. Get away from the right wing stuff about north European socialism. Get that man a sweater.

With the Liberals so weak, the left vote would split and the socialist heart of Canadian would suffer while the Conservatives profited.

But then he went on television and told everyone the economy was fine as Scotiabank announced a recession. He told everyone it's a good time to buy some stock.

Listeria never really mattered. There was no sign that anyone cared about 20 people who died because of Conservative deregulation. Even uninfected lunch meat kills more people with all its salt and fat anyway, right?

But then he really blew it. The Conservative "war room" thought it would be a good idea to make fun of Stephane Dion for a grammatical problem in English. While some blame CTV for airing the clip to discredit the Liberals, it almost looks like they aired it to stoke francophone sentiment. The Conservatives almost dropped off the radar in Quebec.

They blew it.

They had their majority, easily within their grasp, and they blew it. Instead of pushing to the end, they hid half their candidates away from the cameras and local debates lest some gaffe befall them. They did not dare, and so they did not win. They did not dare and so they did not deserve to win.

The worst is yet to come because now they have to suffer through the financial mess that's headed our way. If they want to maintain any popularity, they'll have to drop the free-market nonsense they parrot and work to support companies that - according to that same capitalist mantra - ought to go under.

Good luck, boys. You'll need it. You've bought the worst of both worlds: a recession and a non-majority with which to fight it.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Only Liberals are ever Conservative

It's one of those things that liberals and progressives should be shouting from the rooftops: the people calling themselves "Conservatives" are always reckless with money. It's always the left that has to come in and balance the budget when it's done being ruined by the right.

Now we could go in to great detail about Harris and Eves and Flaherty driving Ontario in to the ground, or Clinton cleaning up after Bush after which the other Bush came in and trashed everything again.

If we put in a Conservative government in Canada tomorrow, we will have deficits. They'll blame the economy, even as they quietly shut down the 40-year, no money down mortgages they created, but they will have deficits.

Conservatives just aren't conservative.

But then I heard this today.
“Everyone was living beyond their means – from Wall Street to Washington to even some on Main Street."

“CEOs got greedy. Politicians spent money they didn't have. Lenders tricked people into buying homes they couldn't afford and some folks knew they couldn't afford them and they bought them anyway."

The speaker is, of course, Barack Obama, the "most liberal senator in America" according to the same people who tell us he's a terrorist, an Arab, a Muslim and wants to impose Sharia law on the United States.

That should tell you everything you need about the crap the mainstream media and the rightwing fringe (who are the same people in the United States) tell us about "liberals".

Vote tomorrow.

Vote wisely.

Or your children will pay for it.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Globe and Mail Endorses Harper

Their motto seems to be "Don't worry. He's not that bad."

The concern that everyone else in Canada has is that, under a minority government, Harper and his ilk have not been able to put forward their full platform. We're not just talking about the social conservatives and their anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage platform. We're talking about the man who hates Canada's status as what he calls "a Northern European welfare state". We're talking about a guy with an advanced case of America Envy. He wants private healthcare. He wants a big, aggressive military to play with.

The concern is that Minority Harper and Majority Harper are two different people.

The Globe and Mail editorial board recognizes his dominating streak:
"far too much a solo runner in the team game of politics"
"gratuitous characterizations of parliamentary critics as Taliban sympathizers"
"an underdeveloped appreciation for the basic tenets of pluralism"
"denigrations of the keepers of critical checks and balances in our political system"

They add this:
"Whatever you think of him, the Stephen Harper of today is not the Stephen Harper of 2004 or earlier."
Yes, so don't worry about that stuff about Canada being a horrific welfare state. The new Harper is actually okay with the way Canada works. He is no longer sickened by our non-capitalist ways.

But this bit takes the cake:
"There is no reason to think he won't continue along the same trajectory if re-elected"
Really? I think that there's every reason to think that his trajectory will change the moment he gets a majority. All that stuff about being too bossy? How do you think that's going to get better if he gets more power?

I have a hard time believing someone could write an editorial that starts by mentioning Harper's megalomaniacal domination of Parliament via the PMO and then tries to soothe us and tell us it's okay because he'll be softer and more communicative when he has complete control of Parliament.

But then, journalists don't always have to make sense. They just have to sell copy and satisfy advertisers.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

It's Not Dion's English That Was The Problem

I'm not a big fan of the Liberal party, but this video bothers me quite a bit.



Listen to the question being asked at 1:20 in to the video. Of course Dion is confused. The interviewer doesn't understand how to speak English.

"If you were Prime Minister now, what would you have done about the economy?"

That doesn't make any sense at all. The interviewer obviously doesn't understand the English language and Dion does. It's unclear what the question means.

There are two legitimate ways to ask that question.

You can ask the question in the present tense, using "were" in the subjunctive (i.e. I wish I were, if I were ... etc.):
"If you were Prime Minister right now, what would you do?"

Or you can use the past tense:
"If you had been Prime Minister for the last two years, how would you have handled this crisis?"

The question as it stands, as it was asked, makes no sense. It's as if the the interviewer had asked, "If I gave you a sandwich made of baby seal meat right now, would you have eaten it two years ago?"

Of course Dion's confused. I get confused when people babble at me in broken English too.

It's pointless to make fun of Dion. You should spend your time mocking the illiteracy of CTV's interviewer and the obvious and intentional cruelty of airing this nonsense.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

These People are Nuts

With a hat tip to the Democratic Underground for leading me to this stuff from here.

There is something really, really frightening about these people.

Has anyone really begun to understand why people's brake lines are being cut in Toronto? What possesses someone to do that over an electoral preference? What sort of insanity is this?

There's something wrong with the right wing, conservative methodology of invigorating its followers. There's something wrong with their motivational techniques. They're pushing people to absolutely insane levels.

Look at the comments on this blog post regarding the "worst" consequences of an Obama presidency.

"a repeat of Nazi Germany"
"death of free speech"
"Obama surrendering the USA to Vladimir Putin"
"Having to wear a brown shirt"
"installment of Sharia Law"

And, oooh, let's call him "Hussein".

Just take a moment to read some of those comments. We're talking about frothing-at-the-mouth angry lunacy here. I know even intelligent people can spell poorly when under duress, but I'm guessing these aren't the smartest people either.

Do you want to know why your brake lines are getting cut or your abortion doctors are being shot? It's the irrational hate rhetoric of the right wing, promoting ridiculous notions about the left, that pushes people to this level of insanity. It's not a joke. These people really are completely off the deep end.

I can't imagine how you could even reach them to demonstrate that they're simply wrong about so many of the things they're saying.

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Naked Politicians

So the Prime Minister can't seem to hold on to his popularity. Perhaps the whole "We're Better Off With Harper" campaign, in which the whole election was set to ride on the popularity of Stephen Harper over other leaders, wasn't such a good idea. Too many eggs in one basket and all that. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to muzzle the other candidates and have them avoid local debates.

The G&M article proposes this in regards to Mr. Harper's sinking popularity:
There have been a number of theories offered for Canadians' growing coolness toward Mr. Harper as the campaign progresses, most focusing on his response – or perceived absence of response – to the gathering economic crisis.

That seems to be the popular theory. No one is considering the fact that when faced with a potential period of unemployment most of us would prefer a more sympathetic government. The Conservatives are less attractive when we're looking for a social safety net. We might just be on the receiving on "austerity measures" which would naturally be "for your own good in the long run".

I would also like to indicate my ungratitude for the image provoked by the following line comparing Harper to Robespierre:
“Because there was no sense that if he took his clothes off, he'd be the same as the rest of us,” the social scientist said.

Ugh. Not what I need in my head this early in the morning.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What? It's a Great Ad.

Okay, it might seem a bit childish, but it gives off the atmosphere of "let's break it down to the simplest level". The point gets across and it gets across without actually pooping on anyone.



It reminds a bit of the "This is you brain. This is your brain on drugs." ads. And I'm not just saying that because the guy in those ads was bald. (Is that guy who gets drawn in later a doctor who shares Jack's hairline, or Jack himself? If it's a doctor - very clever).

Bold, simple and clearly declaring the difference between one side and the other. The NDP have a plan, the Conservatives do not.

If only the entire election were based on clearly declared positions like this, instead of nonsense and poop.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

The Sky is Falling: Blame Mortgagees

A common refrain I'm hearing in reference to this apparent disaster we're in is that the fault lies with the people who took out mortgages that they can't afford. In that vein, we should do nothing to help out because these people deserve it.

It's not often referenced in real newspapers but it's there in the mouths of right-wing pundits, bloggers and Republicans (who like to blame "minority lending" specifically).

I hate to tell you, but it's not working out that way.

First of all, this crisis is spreading far, far beyond the actual people who took out those bad mortgages. It's hardly morally acceptable to say that retired senior citizens who have responsibly paid off their mortgages deserve to have their retirement funds destroyed.

Second, the people who took out those mortgages received professional financial advice that told them the risk was easily manageable.

We received professional advice when we went to get our mortgage. We were advised as to a maximum house value and mortgage payment based on salary data our bank required of us. (We live in Canada where there are rules about these things). We looked at those numbers and said, that's okay, we'll get a much smaller house than the maximum we're allowed. We're conservative that way.

The people who took out these subprime mortgages were advised that they could afford these houses using some financial trickery (overappraising the house, using the extra money as mortgage payments, selling the house for more). Not everyone is smart enough to see through this tale, especially when all of the financial advice is consistent (consistently bad, but how do you know? Think "trepanning" or "bloodletting".)

Do people deserve to be punished when an entire industry has intentionally and maliciously led them astray, en masse, for its own aggrandizement?

I wouldn't think so, but you may differ.

I don't mind watching all those subprime mortgage brokers suffer. They won't, mind you, but it wouldn't bother me if they did.

What bothers me is that the rest of us are going to hurt while they fly high. That's why the government has to step in and return confidence to this arena - and that will require heavy-duty regulation.

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Maybe Libertarianism is Fleeting

I'm trying to understand why the Tory numbers are dropping.

Dion and Layton didn't perform all that well in the debates. No one is really jumping on the Listeria investigation and deaths. So what's going on?

I would like to submit to you that a significant number of the people who vote Conservative, the people that call themselves "Libertarian", are actually just "selfish when they're winning".

If you have a good job with good benefits, reasonable security and the likelihood of easily changing jobs, you can afford to call yourself "Libertarian". They you vote Conservative and curse the people without jobs as being lazy and irresponsible. You want tax cuts and cuts to social services because, hey, those people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

But the economy is changing. People are becoming a little less sure of their jobs. Sure, it looks like your little company is doing alright, but we could be looking at millions of layoffs across the country. The stock market is plunging. Credit is hard to get. Maybe your boss is walking around shaking his head because he knows how dependent everybody is on overnight lending and venture capital.

Suddenly, your "Libertarianism" doesn't look so good when you might just end up on the outside looking in. You might just end up as the guy without the job. Maybe three months from now, Prime Minister (with a majority) Harper will be looking out at you and saying, "Hey, take care of yourself". Suddenly the shining light of independent, capitalist, free-market glory doesn't look so good.

Maybe you start to realize, in tough times, you would rather have at the helm people who have historically given a damn about other human beings.

Maybe you don't vote Conservative because, quite simply, selfishness points you in other direction. Instead of "Hey, take care of yourself", your cry will become, "Hey, someone take care of me!"

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Dion on the "Socialist Approach"

So Dion has given up on winning the election and now just wants to make sure he stays opposition leader. He has a few words for Jack Layton and NDP supporters.
Mr. Dion said the NDP leader is a far cry from leaders like Tony Blair who moved their socialist parties to the moderate middle.

Right. Let's compare actual socialism to Tony Blair's "third way", which is generally described as, "exactly the same as the first way, but dressed up to look like the second."

I don't want Tony Blair's Iraq-war-supporting socialism in my country, thanks.

Dion warns us of "the old socialist approach with Layton" and Dion should know. After all, Bob Rae is now a member of the Liberal Party - a position I can only assume they offered him for intentionally destroying socialism in Ontario through his ridiculous policies that caricatured more than represented anything any real person believes about socialism.

Sorry Mr. Dion. You should be attacking the Conservatives, not the NDP. The fact that you're wasting time attacking the NDP simply shows that you're more concerned about job security than principles.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

You Want to Get Tough on Crime?

Here's crime you should get tough on:

Melamine laced products remaining on store shelves.

I remember watching a program, eons ago, where Health Canada/CFIA officials were entering grocery stores to make sure that ready-to-eat food was being kept hot enough. Where it wasn't, store personnel were made to throw it out. The officials came back a day later and found the temperature had been turned back down.

If your ethics are that bad - if you're risking your customers' lives by leaving melamine products on the shelves or serving stale food, you ought to be shut down. I should not have to worry, in a modern, developed country, that recalled food is still sitting on shelves waiting to poison me.

You want to get tough on crime, Mr. Harper? Get tough on that. Pass a law that seriously punishes unethical businessmen. Shut down those stores for a week. Fine them enough that the CFIA or Health Canada or whoever handles these things can go through every product in the store with a fine tooth comb and clean them out. Make it embarrassing. Make it a public humiliation as an effective deterrent to the next guy who tries.

That's a tough-on-crime bill I could get behind.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Harper's Creepy Smile

Just finished watching the debates.

The one thing you have to acknowledge is that Harper is calmer and better-spoken than the rest. Dion, while earnest, has trouble in English and always looks like he's about to cry. Layton, though English is his first language, seems to speak in an odd halting fashion that makes you think he might not really believe the things he's saying.

But what I find way creepier is the weird half-smiles and smirks that he seems to inject at random in to his responses. There was one right in the middle of his speech about the sadness of war, another in the middle of talking about the tragedy of crime and his desire to put 14-year-olds in jail for life.

What is that about?

It's as if the man is completely unaware of the gravity of what he's saying. Someone must have told him that he comes off as unbearably stiff in conversation. So he set a vibrating stopwatch in his vest pocket that goes off once every 57 seconds to remind him to smile. It doesn't matter what he's doing, he must smile every 57 seconds.

What else can I say about the debate? Frankly, I agree that we probably can't get those manufacturing jobs back. Not without a radical shift in the world's economy. We would have to rewrite NAFTA and disassociate ourselves from the WTO and IMF in order to seriously protect those jobs. The real problem is that we aren't retraining people to work at even better jobs (high technology, green technology etc.), we're sending them over to work for poorer pay and poorer job security at call centres and as greeters at Walmart. If people in factories could move from those jobs to less dangerous jobs for better pay, we wouldn't care about manufacturing job loss, would we?

Dion has to work on his delivery. If he wants to call Harper a liar for his assertion that the Green Shift would result in a tax increase, he's got to do it with a heavy hand and a thoroughly practiced wave of dismissal. The earnest, worried look he used lacked the real force it could have had.

What I saw when I watched that debate were four people attacking the Prime Minister. Although, on a purely technical level, the other four had platforms published that were better structured than anything from the Conservatives, the overall impression was that all five of them knew Harper had this election in the bag and they desperately trying to take a piece out of him.

The worst part is that I would actually support many of the things that Harper said (with obvious exceptions like his hard-on-youth-crime bill). I just know that the things he said have nothing to do with what he's done or what he will do. He pretends that he doesn't support the war in Iraq. He pretends that he isn't a Bay Street economist. He pretends that he doesn't think the free market can fix everything. If he were what he pretended, he'd be a worthwhile leader.

But he's really something else entirely. He's a corporate candidate who will create all kinds of tax cut loopholes for the wealthy, ingratiate himself to the Americans, put our country in to deficit and keep us at war.

The bad part is that, even with his creepy smile and empty eyes, he's got more charisma than any of the other options available. There's simply no one there that is going to provoke any widespread inspiration in the populace of Canada. It seems like Canada is dying to see a real leader who supports our ideals of peace, generosity, cooperation and ingenuity and presents those ideals with passion.

I just don't see such a leader.

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Taliban Stephen

Can we start calling him Taliban Harper?

I was disappointed that I didn't see any mention of Listeriosis in last night's debate. Why aren't we beating up the government over the 19 people they killed with the deregulation of the meat inspections?

But this comes from the Globe and Mail's translation of Stephen Harper:
"Mr. Harper, on negotiations with the Taliban?" asked moderator St├ęphan Bureau.

"This is not entirely new," said Mr. Harper. "The government of Afghanistan has made local efforts from time to time with the Taliban. President Karzai is looking for a political solution and a democratic debate instead of a debate with arms. It's an essential part of his program and I support it."

So the Conservatives couldn't stop calling Layton "Taliban Jack" for saying that a peaceful solution should be found.

I presume, since they aren't hypocrites, they'll start calling our current Prime Minister "Surrendering Steve" or "Osama bin Harper".

Of course they will.

Update: Apparently there was mention of the Listeriosis outbreak. I must have run my find incorrectly. Thanks, Scott.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Don't Bail Them Out

There's no good reason to bail out the gamblers on Wall St.

From a free market perspective, they all deserve to go bankrupt. Every CEO and Executive who was in charge of one of those companies knew that they were trading and investing in bad mortgages. They knew they were gambling irresponsibly. They lobbied to have the regulations changed so that they could gamble irresponsibly.

They deserve neither sympathy nor money. But if you want to give them sympathy, go ahead. You can cry all over the outside of the tinted windows of their limousines and then wonder if they're even looking at you.

No, these people deserve none of the taxpayers' money.

The question is: what of the rest of us? If we let these firms collapse - as we should according to the laws of the free marker - what of the the rest of us?

Certainly the people who took out mortgages for houses they could never afford do not deserve to keep those houses. Sure, they were tricked and cajoled in to "leveraging" their nothing. Sure, the Wall Street bandits suckered them in for the sake of a commission. That means those Wall Street bandits should go to jail (and definitely don't deserve a bailout). But it doesn't mean those people deserve those houses.

So irrational Wall Street brokers deserve to go bankrupt. Some of the should go to jail.

The people with houses they can't afford will not get to keep them.

Fair is fair.

What about everyone else? Will the economy really fall apart if the U.S. taxpayer doesn't bail these people out? Somehow I doubt it. The U.S. has earned a long recession due to its attempt to stave off the recession that should have occurred in and around September 11, 2001. This can not be avoided. It's part of the natural cycle of the economy.

But will the whole world go in to a depression because the United States has a financial crisis involving irresponsible Wall Street gamblers losing money?

Somehow I doubt it. Somehow I think someone will create a financial instrument that will let it go on without the craziest, most irresponsible thieves on Wall Street. Somehow, I think we can live without billionaire investment brokers who don't actually produce anything.

But I don't think anyone really knows for sure, and the people who want this bailout to go through also have the power to punish the rest of society if it doesn't go through the way they want it.

That's what we have watch for.

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Olmert Epiphany

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, on his way out, had a sudden realization.

Apparently, Israel is going to have to abandon its settlements on the land it seized, then return the land, if Israelis ever want peace.

No kidding.

The last Israeli Prime Minister who proposed this was shot by a Jewish fundamentalist. Maybe Olmert, on his way out, can avoid assassination.

It's an interesting change of view, though, for Olmert. The man was apparently a very pro-settlement type himself in his younger days. He was in to all of that "facts on the ground" stuff. Decades of politics have somehow reshaped his views. "All is vanity", and all that, perhaps.

Well, best of luck to him in educating his countrymen and bringing peace to the region. Best of luck that he doesn't get shot.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Left Wing Needs to Grow a Pair

Seriously.

I'm getting tired of this sort of nonsense. The Conservatives are now blaming the Liberals for the Listeria outbreak. That's right. They claim that deficiencies were known a year before the Conservatives came in to power, therefore it's the Liberals fault.

The Conservative leader insisted his government has already taken action by modernizing the inspection system


Give me a break. Why do the Liberals sit on this? The Conservatives, following their "government sucks at everything" philosophy, privatized food inspection.

And then 16 people fricking died.

Where are the Liberals? Where are the NDP? Where is anybody beating the Conservatives over the head with the fact that their philosophy kills people?

The Conservatives don't hesitate. They don't question for a moment whether or not they should lie, deceive, prevaricate and defecate on the Liberals. Anything for a moment of a surge in the polls.

And I realize what the problem is. The people leading the progressive and liberal political groups have no balls (or "Thatchers" for that matter).

Look at the U.S. presidential campaigns. Why isn't Barack Obama hitting McCain over the head with the fact that he's lying through his teeth and he can't remember how many houses he has? Wouldn't that spell "out of touch" even to the lower class base of the Republican party?

Look at Ontario when Mike Harris was using tax dollars to advertise insults on television agaisnt his own employees (teachers). What did the teacher's union do? Did they tear up his absolute lies about how much extra work he was making them do without pay? Did they tear in to his lies averaging private school funding in to the "cost of education"?

No. They produced terrible, stupid commercials where teachers appeared in front of the camera and were asked, "Did you know Mike Harris was once a teacher?". And the teachers would say, "No, I can't believe it."

Cowardice. Absolute, rank cowardice.

I want leaders on the left that show some spine. Somebody find me one and get these lying, warring, corporate-welfare Conservatives out of my damned government.

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