Thursday, October 26, 2006

Kennedy and Dion teaming up against Iggy

No, this Toronto Star piece is not rampant speculation; nor has its authenticity been denied by the Kennedy camp. In fact it's bloody well been put up on Stéphane Dion's own campaign website:
The outlines of a political alliance that could overtake Liberal leadership frontrunner Michael Ignatieff at next month's convention are beginning to take shape.

"There have been discussions between Dion and ourselves, not with Ignatieff," said Holland. "There have been informal conversations about the need to work more closely together. ... Stéphane's strength is in Quebec and it's francophone, Gerard Kennedy's support is more among anglo Canadians. Their policies work well together. It's a natural fit."
The Kennedy camp hasn't yet seen fit to post anything about this on their site, as far as I can click. Nevertheless, this is not good news for Ignatieff. And correct me if I'm wrong, but if Dion was serious about some kind of an alliance with Bob Rae (also mentioned in the Star piece) why on earth would he jeopardize that by posting this story on his own site? I mean, where does this leave Bob?


I'm calling you Bob. Like you said.


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If I was a Liberal, I'd go for Dion

I still can't believe the short-sightedness of the Quebec wing of the federal Liberal party in voting for a resolution recognizing Quebec as a nation last weekend.

In a show of incredibly reckless cynicism, Michael Ignatieff's team filled the room with his supporters bent on passing this resolution to drive a wedge between their candidate and the other front-runners. Ignatieff is the only Liberal leadership hopeful foolish enough to open such a messy can of worms, obviously calculating he'd get the proper knee-jerk response from the populace here, which he did.

And seeing Stéphane Dion later on the TV news berating the cackles of Iggy's supporters when they tried to shout him down was eerily reminiscent of this moment from the last real Liberal leadership race in 1990.
A key moment in that race took place at an all-candidates debate in Montreal, where the discussion quickly turned to the Meech Lake Accord. Paul Martin Jr. attempted to force Jean Chrétien to abandon his nuanced position on the deal and declare for or against it. When Chrétien refused to endorse the deal, young Liberal delegates crowding the hall began to chant "vendu" ("sellout" in French) and "Judas" at Chrétien. Martin continues to state he had nothing to do with the response from the floor, or a similar outburst by his supporters at the convention, in which Chrétien defeated Martin on the first and only ballot. However, his reputation in his home province never recovered.
...especially considering it was over essentially the same argument. But note who won the race and the Prime Minister's chair in the end.

And that's partly why I'm now more impressed with Dion than any of the others. Paul Wells has the translation of Dion's letter in yesterday's La Presse up on his site, and it should remind all Canadians why Chrétien so studiously avoided traipsing down this path (in fact let's just call it the Canadian equivalent of invading Iraq.)
Before asking other Canadians to support such a formal recognition (that is to say, almost certainly, in the constitution), we must first specify what we mean by such a recognnition. Currently the apparent Québécois consensus on this question hides at least three areas of disagreement.

First question: Do we want to be the only ones in Canada to be recognized as a nation, or would we accept that others, encouraged by our example, obtain in turn the same recognition? Would the pressure exerted by an indeterminate number of human groups in Canada, including in Quebec, in favour of being recognized as nations lead us to conclude that our own national recognition has been trivialized or diluted?

Second question: Is this recognition necessary for us or is it, rather, only desirable? Those who say it is necessary must follow their logic to its conclusion: they must say that unless they obtain this recognition, we Quebecers must leave Canada. Indeed one cannot live without something necessary.

Those who say, on the contrary, that this recognition is only desirable must resist putting it at the heart of the national unity debate: indeed, one does not divide a country over something that isn't necessary.

Third question: Do we want the recognition of Quebec to be purely symbolic or do we want it to have concrete consequences, in terms of division of powers, allocation of public funds, and so on? And how does this question work with the preceding question? It is contradictory to claim that the recognition of Quebec as a nation is necessary but purely symobolic. Yet this is the untenable position defended by Mr. Michael Ignatieff.

As in the period when Dion first came to Ottawa and eviscerated Lucien Bouchard with a string of public letters bursting the separatist movement's bubble with irrefutable logic, someone has to tell us Quebeckers the hard truth: that we may think of ourselves as a nation unto ourselves all we like. But in the end, we have to agree to disagree on the "Quebec as nation" question if we want to keep Canada together. In fact, we have already been doing so for, like, centuries.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

This week's Peevey Stevie Outrages

My, they can sure pile them on. Though the week be young, our harvest is plentiful. Enough to add three more points to the list of Harper Horrors. It's as if the SSHITs sense their window of opportunity is shrinking; and if they're going to destroy everything good about Canada, they've no time to waste. What busy little expletives they are!

14) We begin with the admittedly unsurprising news that Michel Fortier won't run

...for a seat in the House of Commons. But staying in the Senate means he does still get to run in another way (and run he does, every day) -- running away from the proper scrutiny a Minister of Public Works should be under in a constitutional monarchy, where it is standard practice for a minister to be available and accountable to the House for Question Period.

15) Bad enough that first the cabinet and then the caucus have been muzzled unscrupulously by the PMO, but now it's spreading to the non-partisan bureaucrats?!. Shockingly, it would seem they have been pressured by their political masters not to appear before the Finance committee. Their absence can only serve to impede the work of Her Royal Majesty's government (just to remind you, Stephen, you don't own it yourself).

16) And finally, there was still no apology from MacKay - nor from his boss - after being put on the spot by the Opposition for referring to a woman as a dog. Whatever one thinks of Belinda Stronach, the reference is demeaning to all women and the least MacKay can do is apologise for such misogynistic crudeness. His lack of understanding is appalling and insulting. I find this particularly alarming considering this came from the mouth that represents Canada abroad as Foreign Affairs Minister. "This matter has to do with respect for women, acceptance of responsibility for one's actions, integrity, accountability for the truth and the dignity of the House of Commons," interim Liberal leader Bill Graham said. Well put.

But of course, the buffoonish Harper and his coterie still don't even begin to get it.

When I add it all up, I get it. It's time for the Opposition to pull the plug on this sad excuse for a government. A government whose entire vision of democracy is as something to be dumped on a shelf.

Mr. Harper, you are vile. I fart in your general direction.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Peevey Stevie's Shabby Record

Some folks are downright insulted at Stephen Harper’s line that he was not the one to ditch MP Garth Turner from his caucus. As usual, Scotian’s take on the situation is a good read and well researched. While I agree it's an insult to Canadians’ intelligence to make such a disingenuous claim, I simply can’t muster the same level of outrage. I believe this is a rather minor addition to this government’s growing list of lies and disrespect for democracy that includes:

1) The Emerson affrontery.
2) That and the Fortier appointment.
3) The continuing attempt to hide from the press and stifle dissenting views, no matter how harmless.
4) The cow-towing to Washington on our Afghanistan commitment.
5) The inexplicable $450 million gift to Bush to use as he sees fit (read: slush fund) in a heavily contested election year.
6) The sell-out on softwood lumber that #5 above was a part of.
7) The inaction on the health care proposal they made while on the campaign trail.
8) The refusal to honour our war dead with flags at half-mast and a ban on media pictures when the coffins return.
9) The slashing of funding to environmental groups and women's groups.
10) The announcement of new tax cuts on the heels of #9 above.
11) The plan to scrap the gun registry against the oft-expressed wishes of the nation’s police forces.
12) The cutting of funds for the Court Challenges Program to assist with Charter rights challenges.
13) The cagey "Reverse Onus" proposal.

So a blatant lie about something that is an internal party matter (except perhaps for Turner's constituents) is not a huge surprise to me. I am still more aghast at his government's increasingly horrendous rhetoric and record.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Parking it where the sun don't shine

Today's topic is how to canonize an inept former Premier Ministre du Quebec. The man who panicked and begged the feds to bring in the army and the War Measures Act during the October Crisis. The guy who called in the Canadian army again 20 years later during the Oka Crisis after his bumbling provincial police shamefully opened fire on the Kanesatake Mohawks, escalating a minor land dispute to a tribal war. The only politician to formally set aside the Charter of Rights and Freedoms using the infamous "Notwithstanding Clause" to pass an incredibly silly piece of legislation. Yes, good 'ol BooBoo.

He was a pol who never saw a bit of Quebec society's fabric he couldn't resist yanking on to the breaking point. The one thing he did right - although it disrupted the ecosystem terribly in the process - was to build mammoth hydro-electric projects in the James Bay region, thereby securing our energy needs with a renewable resource for decades afterward.

But that's not enough reason to rename Park Avenue (or Avenue du Parc) as Ave. Robert-Bourassa.

For one thing, we already have a major artery - not far away from Park - named Boul. Henri-Bourassa. Oh sure, it's not the same Bourassa, but tell that to confused out-of-towners who just want to know how the heck to find their way to the Grand Prix.

For another, I used to live on Park and have always appreciated the name for its blessed brevity - especially when filling out Quebec government forms that never seem to provide enough space to write such stuff as "Ave. Robert-Bourassa".

And yet another: Park (or Parc) could be confused as being vaguely english-sounding, as a friend of mine pointed out. No wonder the pencil pushers can't leave it be.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

London (er... Laval) Bridges Falling Down

Over at MyBlahg, Robert questions whether tax cuts have starved our ability to keep USSR-style horrors like this from happening here in Canada. But this is a made-in-Quebec situation.

1) The Quebec Transport ministry has a dismal record. Everyone knows we can't be bothered to build roads properly and, as evidenced by PQ leader Andre Boisclair's recent comment - that he knows an election is around the corner because he's "never smelled so much asphalt poured" - decisions regarding the building of infrastructure in this province have traditionally revolved around political considerations first and foremost. Laval is a perfect example, where Bernard Landry's former PQ government went the vote-buying route with its big-money pre-election decision - still under construction - to extend the orange line of the Metro into Laval for three needless new stations. Buses and trains currently do an adequate job for Laval's commuters, and this decision just encourages more urban sprawl.

2) For decades, we poured craploads of salt on our winter roads (in recent years in Montreal, we've turned to less damaging mixtures consisting of a little salt and a lot of sand). One engineer's perspective in this morning's Gazette was that the steel supports for the viaduct in question may have snapped in a domino effect due to salt-induced rust that took 15 years off its expected lifespan.

3. (Pure non-expert top-of-my-head speculation here): The acid rain factor. I have visited Columbus, Ohio a few times this year and the difference in the state of their concrete is staggeringly obvious. Here, a sidewalk or other concrete structure starts to erode after only a few years, damaged heavily by sulphur-dioxide laden acid rain (thanks in no small part to coal-fired electrical plants in places such as - you guessed it - Ohio).

4) Inspectors for Transport Quebec who are responsible for making annual check-ups on viaducts aren't themselves engineers (again, props to some excellent local reporting in this morning's Gazette). They have some training, but they aren't yet using the kinds of diagnostic tools that could've predicted the evidently sorry state of the viaduct in question. Add to that that it apparently hadn't received its supposedly annual inspection yet this year since Transport Quebec confirmed it was last inspected in 2005.

Now that we have four confirmed dead, a coroner's inquest is unquestionably in order. The big question will be why no action was taken to close off the roads immediately after it was reported by concerned citizens that concrete chunks had fallen from the structure. A precious hour was lost between the first such report and the eventual collapse of the viaduct. Prudence surely dictates that this sort of situation be taken more seriously in future.

This is indeed a wake-up call. I suspect this is a problem rooted more in typical Quebec provincial mismanagement than mis-allocation of tax dollars. When successive governments' attentions are focussed primarily on how to obtain more powers from the federal government to negate seperatists' debating points; or how to attain "winnable conditions" for a yes vote on separation, who does that leave to concentrate on making sure the trains run on time. Or in this case, that the bridges don't fall down?

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Keith Olbermann, ladies and gentlemen

I honestly didn't think the U.S. media machine was capable of providing lucid and critical commentary like this anymore. (This is for you, Mum.)

It's ten minutes and 28 seconds of sheer courage. Edward R. Murrow reborn? Too damn bad I can't tune in MSNBC's Countdown.

For those who can't make the YouTube thingy work (or don't have high-speed), here's the full transcript.
OLBERMANN: Finally tonight, a special comment about President Clinton‘s interview. The headlines about it are, of course, entirely wrong. It is not essential that a past present bullied and sandbagged by a monkey posing as a newscaster finally lashed back. It is not important that the current president‘s portable public chorus has described his predecessor‘s tone as crazed. Our tone should be crazed. The nation‘s freedoms are under assault by an administration‘s policies can do us as much damage as al Qaeda. The nation‘s marketplace of ideas is being poisoned by a propaganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would have quit.

Nonetheless, the headline is this: Bill Clinton did what almost none of us have done in five years—he has spoken the truth about 9/11 and the current presidential administration. “At least I tried,” he said, of his own efforts, “to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. That‘s the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They had eight months to try, they did not try, I tried.”

Thus in his supposed emeritus years, has Mr. Clinton taken forceful and triumphant action for honesty and for us. Action as vital and courageous as any of his presidency. Action as startling and as liberating as any, by anyone, in these last five long years.

The Bush administration did not try to get Osama bin Laden before 9/11. The Bush administration ignored all the evidence gathered by its predecessors. The Bush administration did not understand the daily briefing entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” The Bush administration did not try.

Moreover, for the five years, one month, and two weeks, the current administration and in particular the president has been given the greatest pass for incompetence and malfeasance in American history.

President Roosevelt was rightly blamed for ignoring the warning signs, some of them 17 years old before Pearl Harbor. President Hoover was correctly blamed for, if not the Great Depression itself, then the disastrous economic steps he took in the immediate aftermath of the stock market crash. Even President Lincoln assumed some measure of responsibility for the Civil War, though talk of Southern secession had begun as early as 1832.

But for this president. To hear him bleat and whine and bully at nearly every opportunity, one would think someone else had been president on September 11, 2001 or the nearly eight months that preceded it.

That hardly reflects the honestly nor manliness we expect of the executive. But if his own fitness to serve is of no true concern to him, perhaps we should simply sigh and keep our fingers crossed until a grown-up takes the job three Januarys from now.

Except for this: After five years of skirting even the most inarguable facts that he was president on 9/11, he must bear some responsibility for his and our un-readiness, Mr. Bush has now moved on, unmistakably and without conscience or shame, towards rewriting history, and attempting to make the responsibility entirely Mr. Clinton‘s.

Of course, he is not honest enough to do that directly. As with all the other nefariousness and slime of this, our worst presidency since James Buchanan, he is having it done for him by proxy.

Thus, the sandbag effort by Fox News Friday afternoon.

Consider the timing: The very weekend the National Intelligence Estimate would be released and show the Iraq war to be the fraudulent failure it is-not a check on terror, but fertilizer for it.

The kind of proof of incompetence, for which the administration and its hyenas at Fox need to find a diversion, in a scapegoat.

It was the kind of cheap trick which would get a journalist fired—but a propagandist, promoted—promise to talk of charity and generosity; but instead launch into the lies and distortions with which the authoritarians among us attack the virtuous and reward the useless.

And don‘t even be professional enough to assume the responsibility for the slanders yourself; blame your audience for e-mailing you the question.

Mr. Clinton responded as you have seen.

He told the great truth untold about this administration‘s negligence, perhaps criminal negligence, about bin Laden. Mr. Clinton was brave.

Then again, Chris Wallace might be braver still. Had I, in one moment, surrendered all my credibility as a journalist, and been irredeemably humiliated, as was he, I would have gone home and started a new career selling seeds by mail.

The smearing by proxy, of course, did not begin Friday afternoon. Disney was first to sell-out its corporate reputation, with “The Path to 9/11.” Of that company‘s crimes against truth one needs to say little. Simply put: Someone there enabled an authoritarian zealot to belch out Mr.

Bush‘s new and improved history.

The basic plot-line was this: Because he was distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton failed to prevent 9/11.

The most curious and in some ways the most infuriating aspect of this slapdash theory, is that the right wingers who have advocated it—who try to sneak it into our collective consciousness through entertainment, or who sandbag Mr. Clinton with it at news interviews—have simply skipped past its most glaring flaw.

Had it been true that Clinton had been distracted from the hunt for bin Laden in 1998 because of the Lewinsky nonsense, why did these same people not applaud him for having bombed bin Laden‘s camps in Afghanistan and Sudan on Aug. 20, of that year? For mentioning bin Laden by name as he did so?

That day, Republican Senator Grams of Minnesota invoked the movie “Wag the Dog.”

Republican Senator Coats of Indiana questioned Mr. Clinton‘s judgment.

Republican Senator Ashcroft of Missouri—the future attorney general

echoed Coats.

Even Republican Senator Arlen Specter questioned the timing.

And of course, were it true Clinton had been distracted by the Lewinsky witch-hunt, who on earth conducted the Lewinsky witch-hunt?

Who turned the political discourse of this nation on its head for two years?

Who corrupted the political media?

Who made it impossible for us to even bring back on the air the counter-terrorism analysts like Dr. Richard Haass, and James Dunegan, who had warned, at this very hour, on this very network, in early 1998, of cells from the Middle East who sought to attack us here?

Who preempted them in order to strangle us with the trivia that was, “All Monica All The Time?”

Who distracted whom?

This is, of course, where, as is inevitable, Mr. Bush and his henchmen prove not quite as smart as they think they are.

The full responsibility for 9/11 is obviously shared by three administrations, possibly four.

But, Mr. Bush, if you are now trying to convince us by proxy that it‘s all about the distractions of 1998 and 1999, then you will have to face a startling fact that your minions may have hidden from you.

The distractions of 1998 and 1999, Mr. Bush, were carefully manufactured, and lovingly executed, not by Bill Clinton, but by the same people who got you elected president.

Thus, instead of some commendable acknowledgment that you were even in office on 9/11 and the lost months before it, we have your sleazy and sloppy rewriting of history, designed by somebody who evidently read the Orwell playbook too quickly.

Thus, instead of some explanation for the inertia of your first eight months in office, we are told that you have kept us “safe” ever since—a statement that might range anywhere from zero, to 100 percent, true.

We have nothing but your word, and your word has long since ceased to mean anything.

And, of course, the one time you have ever given us specifics about what you have kept us safe from, Mr. Bush, you got the name of the supposedly targeted tower in Los Angeles wrong.

Thus was it left for the previous president to say what so many of us have felt; what so many of us have given you a pass for in the months and even the years after the attack: You did not try.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your predecessor. You ignored the evidence gathered by your own people. Then, you blamed your predecessor.

That would be a textbook definition, sir, of cowardice.

To enforce the lies of the present, it is necessary to erase the truths of the past. That was one of the great mechanical realities Eric Blair, writing as George Orwell, gave us in the book “1984.”

The great philosophical reality he gave us, Mr. Bush, may sound as familiar to you, as it has lately begun to sound familiar to me.

“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution, is persecution. The object of torture, is torture. The object of power is power.”

Earlier last Friday afternoon, before the FOX ambush, speaking in the far different context of the closing session of his remarkable Global Initiative, Mr. Clinton quoted Abraham Lincoln‘s State of the Union address from 1862.

“We must disenthrall ourselves.”

Mr. Clinton did not quote the rest of Mr. Lincoln‘s sentence. He might well have.

“We must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save our country.”

And so has Mr. Clinton helped us to disenthrall ourselves, and perhaps enabled us, even at this late and bleak date, to save our country.

The free pass has been withdrawn, Mr. Bush.

You did not act to prevent 9/11.

We do not know what you have done to prevent another 9/11.

You have failed us-then leveraged that failure, to justify a purposeless war in Iraq which will have, all too soon, claimed more American lives than did 9/11.

You have failed us anew in Afghanistan.

And you have now tried to hide your failures, by blaming your predecessor.

And now you exploit your failure, to rationalize brazen torture which doesn‘t work anyway; which only condemns our soldiers to water-boarding; which only humiliates our country further in the world; and which no true American would ever condone, let alone advocate.

And there it is, sir. Are yours the actions of a true American?

I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

Now who in Canada could you see being this tough on Stephen Harper?

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Billy Bragg - Wisdom without Cynicism

Review: Billy Bragg, live at Club Soda (Montreal)

Sorry, Ottawa; I think we wore him out. Despite his pleading with the diehard fans at Club Soda to help save his Cockney voice for tomorrow night's gig at the New Capital Music Hall, we called him back for three encores. What's more, audience members down in front hung onto him during that third encore until he relented and played all seven tracks from his original 1983 release Life's a Riot with Spy Vs Spy.

But it wasn't merely to hear him play his songs that I went. Bragg's witty (and sometimes scathing) on-stage banter is worth the ticket price itself. While he does take time out during his act to peddle (of all things) his new book, The Progressive Patriot, he smoothes over the sales pitch by explaining in his own heartfelt way how he came to the conclusion cynicism is our biggest social problem.

We also got to hear him describe his odd life on the road as consisting of a mesmerizing flutter of planes, shows and time killed mindlessly in hotel rooms. He talked of the joys of sharing insights with his eight-year old son, such as a YouTube download of a cat caught in a precarious situation involving a ceiling fan. And the recurring theme of his bitter disappointment with Tony Blair, whom he refered to as Bush's poodle.

More sometimes gems were to be found in reworked lyrics from old songs, such as his update to the old Leadbelly staple Bourgeois Blues with new lines like I've got the Bush War Blues / He's making the world safe for Haliburton.

Perhaps the highlight of the night was a new song written in a style Bragg dubs "Johnny Clash", wherein he claims to have channeled Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer during its composition. (He had to prepare for it by turning to his amp and getting that "first Clash album" sound going). Always that big heart.

Assuming he hangs onto what's left of his voice, he's heading across Canada next week and will then play a few dates on the United States west coast. At 48 Bragg's still got a taste of the old punk in him, even if his style is primarily a mix of folk and soul. Tour Dates here.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Public Notice - Petition for the CRTC

The following is from a petition put up by Canwest Global. The link was sent to me by a friend who works on the newscast of the affiliate in question. For reasons only the CRTC can explain, the station is not available on any satellite services offered in Quebec. I edited some of the more eye-rolling parts out of the prepared letter (below) before putting my own name to it. You can probably guess which parts are my own.

Dear Ms. Rhéaume;

Re: Broadcasting Notice of Public Hearing CRTC 2006-5

I live in the province of Quebec and I can tell you that it is a disappointment to me that Bell Sympatico does not carry CKMI-TV, the regional Global Television station that serves Quebec City, Montreal, and Sherbrooke.

CKMI produces and broadcasts the only local and regional morning show, providing traffic, weather, news and community information (3 hours daily) for the benefit of viewers in the three Quebec cities served by CKMI. It is regrettable that English-language satellite subscribers in Quebec are denied access to this and other unique English-language programming.

Local and regional programming is expensive and its viability is dependent entirely on access of the television station and its advertising clients to the unique audiences served by the station. I believe that the current rules not requiring satellite services to carry this local station undermine the economic viability of the station, which is important to our community.

In particular, I consider their local news coverage to be a highly valuable asset to this community; and one which I presently am unable to receive via UHF due to poor reception in my corner of Montreal.

Furthermore, as a television viewer who currently relies on the antennae - and is contemplating other choices for television reception - I was quite disappointed to learn that I am unable to view this channel unless I subscribe to Videotron cable, or erect an expensive and ugly outdoors antennae.

Please give satellite subscribers access to CKMI-TV.


Scott (in Montreal)

Mr. Pat Button
Vice President, Marketing
Bell ExpressVu
100 Wynford Drive
Toronto, On

Mr. Jim Cummins
Vice President, National Operations
Star Choice Communications
2924, 11th Street N.E.
Calgary, Ab.M

Ms. Maria Mourani M.P.

The Hon. Irwin Cotler P.C., M.P.

Ms. Marlene Jennings M.P.

The Hon. Jean C. Lapierre P.C., M.P.

Ms. Vivian Barbot M.P.

The Hon. Stephane Dion P.C., M.P.

The Hon. Lucienne Robilliard P.C., M.P.

Ms. Christiane Gagnon M.P.

Ms. Sylvie Boucher M.P.

Mr. Daniel Petit M.P.

Mr. Luc Harvey M.P.

Ms. Josee Verner M.P.

Mr. Serge Cardin M.P.

Mr. Christian Ouellet M.P.

Ms. France Bonsant M.P.
These folks put on a high quality newscast that covers the local community at least as well as the competition. The anchor, Jamie Orchard, was a colleague of mine at Concordia, and I can vouch for her as an intelligent and extremely competent journalist. Apparently, CKMI's reporters sometimes experience bewilderment from interviewees who have never even heard of the station. It just doesn't make sense not to include them in the package of roughly 8 gazillion channels - especially considering CKMI includes programming put together right in our own backyard. So click on the link and sign your name if you agree.


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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Another Sociopath turned Psychopath

The silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched to overload
And nobody’s going to go to school today
She’s going to make them stay at home

--The Boomtown Rats

In lieu of yesterday's shooting spree at Dawson College, I couldn't agree more with the Amazing Wonderdog's conclusion that to have or not to have a long-gun resistry is not the question.
The real issue is how this nutcase slipped through the background checks and obtained this weapon. All the registries in the world are useless if they can't do what they're designed to, which is to control who can own guns.
That's certainly what I was thinking. I also can't believe the jerk's web host allowed all the crap he posted to stay up, until today anyway. Nor can I believe that a video game re-enacting the Columbine shootings even exists, and is available on the market (sorry but I can't bear to put up a link to that right now).

But I can believe a sociopath like this can be produced in a place like Laval. And that not so long ago in Beaconsfield - where I happened to spend my teenaged years - four screwed-up teenaged kids beat their elderly next door neighbours to death with a baseball bat.

Suburbia tends to breed more than its share of bored, screwed-up kids. And it will keep doing so, especially when the parents / guardians don't love their kids enough to goddamn pay attention to them and listen to them. Like Marilyn Manson said:
Michael Moore: Do you know that on the day of the Columbine massacre, the US dropped more bombs on Kosovo than any other day?

Marilyn Manson: I do know that, and I think that's really ironic, that nobody said 'well maybe the President had an influence on this violent behavior' Because that's not the way the media wants to take it and spin it, and turn it into fear, because then you're watching television, you're watching the news, you're being pumped full of fear, there's floods, there's AIDS, there's murder, cut to commercial, buy the Acura, buy the Colgate, if you have bad breath they're not going to talk to you, if you have pimples, the girl's not going to fuck you, and it's just this campaign of fear, and consumption, and that's what I think it's all based on, the whole idea of 'keep everyone afraid, and they'll consume.'

Michael Moore: If you were to talk directly to the kids at Columbine or the people in that community, what would you say to them if they were here right now?

Marilyn Manson: I wouldn't say a single word to them, I would listen to what they have to say and that's what no one did.
Even though Gill was reportedly a Manson fan himself, it seems he didn't get the message somehow. So don't try to blame Manson - or the goths, for that matter. They aren't the problem.

Instead, look in the mirror and think about what kids you pick(ed) on in school. Think about who you humiliated just to get a cheap laugh and a high-five from your friends so you could try to boost your own fragile self-esteem. Think about the strange co-worker you joke about behind his back because he's an oddball. And most of all, if you're a government bureacrat issuing gun ownership certificates, please - for all our sakes - think about that silicon chip that might be inside that person's head, and how the last thing we all need is for it to switch to overload when they've got access to deadly weapons.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

How to piss off ALL your constituents in 2 easy steps, by Borys Wrzesnewskyj, MP

Wrzesnewskyj on Sunday:
When asked if he were in favour of Hezbollah being taken off the terror list, Etobicoke Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj said: "Yes, I would be."

He likened the situation in the Middle East to Northern Ireland, where "if there wasn't the possibility for London to negotiate with the IRA, you'd still have bombings."

"Hezbollah has a political wing, they have members of parliament, they have two cabinet ministers," Wrzesnewskyj said. "You want to encourage politicians in this military organization so that the centre of gravity shifts to them."
Brave, sensible words. The words of a realist with an understanding of the power shift in Lebanon that has taken hold in the midst of Israel's ruthless, yet ultimately impotent, response to the abduction of two of its soldiers.

Well, not so fast. Here's Wrzesnewskyj on Monday:
Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj has denied reports he said Hezbollah should be taken off Canada's terrorist list.
"I've said all along that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and will continue to be," Wrzesnewskyj said. "Where I have difficulty is with the legislation that says a group on the list cannot be communicated with."
And they called Kerry a flip-flopper. Free advice to you Borys: when the CBC has you on camera right at the top of their newshour, don't bother trying to deny what we clearly heard you say. Next time, just shut your yap if you're not ready to stand behind what comes out of it.

Leave that crap to the governing party.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Philip Iverson (1965 - 2006)

Philip Iverson was a terrific artist. I had the pleasure of moving him and several dozen of his 8’ by 4’ works on two occasions since first making his acquaintance some five years ago. Here were these unframed behemoths splintering as we brought them down four tight flights of stairs. “Oh, pshaw. Don’t worry about that,” he’d say, handling his own works with no more care than one would show a discarded toy.

Philip was a kind and confident man in those days, undeterred by the occasional seizures he suffered from. He’d been diagnosed as epileptic originally, before the tumors started appearing. His creative process was itself not unlike a controlled seizure (at least, so I am told, for I never had a chance to watch him at work). One hot summer day, he and his wife joined us at my parents' house for a swim. I don’t think anyone has ever enjoyed that pool as much as Philip did: diving, splashing, and executing cannonballs with abandon. He was such a kid, getting everything he could out of the moment.

He was a good friend, too. A fan of celtic music, he would make a point of attending my sad little acoustic gigs, and he would play the bodhran at jam sessions down at Hurley's Irish Pub (no one had the heart to tell him his rhythm was lacking – he was obviously having so much fun). Philip was an accomplished and celebrated artist, but was ever humble and supportive of whatever slim talents others had. I will miss him, as I already have been for some time; such was the toll of the cancer that was eating his brain away, bit by bit over the last two years.

Goodbye Philip. I hope wherever you are, you’re having as much fun as that day at the pool. You deserve no less.

Family will receive condolences on Friday, August 18, 2006 from 3 to 7 p.m. at le Centre funeraire Cote des Neiges, 4525 Cote des Neiges Rd, Montreal, QC. (514) 342-8000. Interior parking. Donations can be made to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery - Philip Iverson Memorial Fund (Fredericton, New Brunswick).

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Post-script (Aug. 21):Thanks for the comments, all. It was a warm-hearted, secular service and it ended in a bit of an Irish wake. Some of those closest to Philip had some charming anecdotes to recount, like the time he started sawing his pieces in half to make them fit in the trailer when heading off to his first Toronto exhibit. And how he never even off-handedly mentioned to the others in the Irish jam sessions that he was an artist. How honest and unassuming he was right up to the end. I held back tears listening to Philip's father speak. I will never get used to seeing the utter anguish of a parent who has lost a child.

For those who want to browse through some more of the Iverson porfolio, you can check out the site he put up here.

Is the U.S.A.'s Post-9/11 Bubble Bursting?

Amazing - as CathiefromCanada points out: something has changed if a twit like George Will is finally realizing what anyone with a marginal understanding of history and war concluded years ago: that terrorism is a law-enforcement issue that won't go away by bombings/invasions. I guess the warmongering all came out of Bushco's "9/11 changed everything" mentality, which conveniently set out to deny the viability of any historical context to today's world. Can the U.S.A. finally start to get over it? Dare we begin to hope that 9/11 might soon be put into proper perspective?

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Ragdoll Bush

The person who sent me this link swears it's become the most popular screen saver in the U.S.A. Well it's hours of fun for a girl or a boy, I'll say that much. Click and drag for acceleration.

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The Horrible Heffalump

"Help, help!" cried Piglet, "a Heffalump, a Horrible
Heffalump!" and he scampered off as hard as he could, still
crying out, "Help, help, a Herrible Hoffalump! Hoff, Hoff, a
Hellible Horralump! Holl, Holl, a Hoffable Hellerump!" And he
didn't stop crying and scampering until he got to Christopher
Robin's house.

"Whatever's the matter, Piglet?" said Christopher
Robin, who was just getting up.

"Heff," said Piglet, breathing so hard that he could
hardly speak, "a Heff -- a Heff -- a Heffalump."


"Up there," said Piglet, waving his paw.

"What did it look like?"

"Like -- like -- It had the biggest head you ever saw,
Christopher Robin. A great enormous thing, like -- like
nothing. A huge big -- well, like a -- I don't know -- like an
enormous big nothing. Like a jar."

Today, I was backing out of my friend's parking spot into the alley behind her triplex. I checked all around before moving the car and was looking directly out my back window as I eased out. My friend Alice was in the passenger seat and happened to notice a kid of about 9 on his bike turning right into my path, totally oblivious to the fact my car was now moving. Alice yelled at me to stop and I did, just in time. The kid kept going without batting an eye, just about a foot away from the back of the vehicle. Close call. I easily could've hit him.

But I didn't. And here's why I bring it up. There are close calls every day. The fact is, nothing happened with any three tonnes of bomb-making material someone was trying to get their twisted little hands on. They didn't even come close to pulling it off (whatever the intention was, and who's to say at this point anyway?)

In the four days since the arrests, I have spoken to dozens of people. I went to a family birthday party for my father in law. I visited my own parents. I have spoken to plenty of friends and colleagues at work. None of us ever thought to even bring it up in casual conversation. I take public transit to work and have not even encountered anyone else discussing it.

But the mass media (and blogworld, of course) is perfectly - and relentlessly - breathless, poring over the details like giddy teenagers recounting the juicier bits from the prom. Over and over again. It's almost as if you're a nobody in Toronto if you weren't some assholes' potential target.

As the Wonderdog concluded, it's time to grow up, people. Nothing happened. No CN towers came crashing down; no CSIS headquarters got huge chunks blown out of them; unlike forty years ago, our mailboxes are intact. Nobody even so much as got a hangnail.

So relax. Have a cream soda.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Peevey Stevie reprises SSM vote - nation groans

CathiefromCanada knows the score. For what it's worth, this is what I said when Harper first promised to re-open the Same-Sex Marriage debate last November:
I'm sure a lot of Canadians miss the family squabbles over this as much as I do. For the upteenth time: Gays' existence is a reality. Gay marriage is a reality. Gays deserve equal treatment, which means they cannot be barred from marriage. It's protected under the charter. Seven Supreme Courts and the majority of Canadians agree.

This is not an issue that needs re-opening, and surely not a priority. It was part of the party platforms of the Bloq, the NDP, and the Liberals for the last two federal campaigns. It was hashed-out in Parliamentary commissions and debates for years. This dog is done hunting and should wile out the rest of its days with the Death Penalty dog.

Yep. Still applies in spades six months later.

One question though: how come non-life threatening things require Parliament to debate and vote on them again and again, while others that do involve life and death consequences need none at all? Oh right, I keep forgetting: it's because the Right are a bunch of shameless hypocrites. How silly of me to forget.

(Thanks for reminding me, Simon)

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Shoot him, throw a shovel off, there you go

"When the IEDs went off, the ...practice was to basically shoot up the landscape - anything that moved. That kind of thing would happen a lot."
--Michael Blake, U.S. Iraqi war veteran (BBC airdate: March 29, 2006)

US military prosecutors plan to file conspiracy and murder charges against seven enlisted Marines and one Navy corpsman for the alleged murder of an Iraqi civilian and subsequent cover-up on April 26 in Hamandiya,...
--The Jurist, June 2, 2006

"Keep shovels on your truck, or an AK (rifle). If you see anybody out here at night, shoot him, and if they weren't doing anything, throw a shovel off (like) they were digging an IED or whatever... Shoot him, throw a shovel off, there you go."
--Jody Casey, U.S. Iraqi war veteran, describing his training instructions from other U.S. soldiers upon his arrival in Iraq (BBC airdate: March 29, 2006)

"Criminal investigators are hoping to exhume the bodies of several Iraqi civilians allegedly gunned down by a group of U.S. Marines last year in the city of Haditha, aiming to recover potentially important forensic evidence, according to defense officials familiar with the investigation. The possible evidence was disregarded at first because the slayings originally were not treated as crimes."
--The Washington Post, June 2, 2006

"I scraped dead bodies off the pavement with a shovel and threw them in trash bags and left them there on the side of the road, and I really don't think the anti-war movement is what's infuriating people... The only thing that kept (my morale) up was the fact that people were at home talking shit on the wrongs that I had to commit for this government."
--Joe Hatcher, U.S. Iraqi war veteran (BBC airdate: March 29, 2006)

"...the United States military does everything that it can to avoid civilian casualties, to limit the impact of any military operations on the civilian population and, most importantly, to take action where our soldiers do not follow the rules."
--Tom Casey, U.S. State Department spokesman, June 2, 2006)

"We acted inhumane; and a lot of soldiers down there are very inhumane. Total disregard for human life. That's why they call (Iraqis) Hajji. You've got to desensitize yourself to (the Iraqis). They're not people - they're animals. Then you watch it get covered up and shoved under a rug and you know: 'Oh, that didn't happen'. I seen innocent people being killed. IEDs go off and you just zap any farmer that's close to you... They basically jam into your head: 'This is Hajji, this is Hajji...' You totally take the human being out of it and you make them a video game, a target... If you start looking at them as humans,... how are you going to kill them?"
--Jody Casey, U.S. Iraqi war veteran (BBC airdate: March 29, 2006)

The Ishaqi investigation concluded that the allegations of intentional killings of civilians by American forces are unfounded.
--Un-named Senior Pentagon official, paraphrased by ABC News, June 2, 2006

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Alleged Journalism

I was happy to see Peter Mansbridge lead with the Haditha investigation story on tonight's CBC news.

I was less happy to hear them dub it "the alleged massacre". The facts of a massacre are right there in the three houses with bloody corpses shot at close range by U.S. Marines in the middle of the night. At least 20 were killed, including five children and a blind septagenarian man. One child was shot up until her head was blown off, according to the mother of a Marine sent in the following day as part of the clean-up team. Child witnesses described these incidents and forensics back it up.

I just don't see the need to qualify that with "alleged". A massacre is a massacre and the word is altogether appropriate. There's no point trying to be nice about it.

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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Angry Young, man

He may be a little late to the party, but it sure is good to hear the grand-daddy of angry young men finally put his two cents in. As the Gazetteer graciously points out, you can hear the whole streamed version of Neil Young's new very very anti-Dubya diatribe, Living With War by clicking on his website (or here).

And wow, it rocks. It rocks like a brazen, daring, unkempt Neil Young the likes we only got a hint of with 1989's "Rockin' in the Free World". Basically, it's like Bob Mould has been tweaking his guitar sound or something.

Now I was never more than a luke-warm fan of Young's (didn't he usedta hang out with a bunch of freakin hippies?) But then he won me over some with the props he gave to Johnny Rotten in that Hey Hey My My song or whatever it's called... Still, a lot of his material just leaves me yawning instead of fawning.

Not this time out though: this album has pure classic written all over it. It opens with "After the Garden" (of Eden I presume?), which takes Bono to school on how to write an anthemic rock song. The next song is the title track; then you've got "Shock and Awe" and "Flags of Freedom" among other heavy-hitters before you get to (oh my) "Let's Impeach the President".

Feel free to spell it right out there, eh Neil?

Of course he did wait until it became good and safe before taking this stand. And he's certainly not the first to say these things, but I think this album - coming out at this time - might have a wee impact. Having very recently spent two weeks among the fresh-faced youth at Abercrombie & Fitch's head office, I can attest to the fact that Dubya has officially become the anti-cool president among the cool kids who, in their capacity at A&F, pretty much dictate "cool" policy among the cool-kids and their contemporary cool-kid wannabes. Maybe it's because they're in Ohio, I dunno, but I got a definite sense that Bush has precious few folks standing up for him (or proud of him) anymore.

That's not quite the same situation as in 2002, when Steve Earle's brilliant and sage Jerusalem came out.

And apart from that, while others have crafted some truly intelligent protest songs (check out the late Joe Strummer's "Get Down Moses" and Son Volt's "Endless War" off Okemah And The Melody Of Riot) they don't nearly approach Young's ability to strike a chord (pardon the pun) with the American psyche.

The return of the angry Young comes at a time when just about the whole nation is angry with Bushco in varying degrees, and I sure as hell don't blame 'em.

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The Revolution Will Not Be Digitized

On a day when massive protests against the Iraq war brought out "tens of thousands" of people according to the Associated Press, why does the online NY Times and Washington Post not have even a mention of it, while CNN has it showcased with a photo at the top of its site? (I have snagged screen captures in gif files that I feel sheepish about posting, but will gladly email to any doubters out there.)

Shame on them - especially on the Times, being right there in NYC and all - for ignoring the voice of the people just like Bushco wants.

For a nice round-up of photos, go check out what CathiefromCanada has compiled on her site.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Original Song #25: You're Canadian

Apologies for the extremely light blogging of late. I was on one long business trip and just got home after 12 days in central Ohio. Oh my. Is it ever good to be back. I won't go into the details here, but it brings to mind this song I wrote a year ago. It's a light-hearted response to that all-American semi-rhetorical question - the one that so many of my fine United States friends have a very hard time getting their heads around: "Why wouldn't any foreigner want to be American?" If you still don't get it after reading below, that's okay. You probably have to be Canadian (perhaps even Quebec-Canadian) to completely understand. Just know that I'm happy being a Canuck, and particularly, a Montrealer, and it's nothing against your fine (but troubled) nation.


You're Canadian

Big deal
You’re Canadian
Travel anywhere in the world at a whim
They treat you extra nice
You’re not American
They take it on first blush that you’re polite

But since you asked me
What matters most, I’ll tell ya:
I wanna be
Playing pickup hockey on an outdoor rink in St-Henri
I wanna be
Sipping IPAs on the terrasse at a Brasserie
I wanna be somewhere I’m free

Big deal
You’re multicultural
Too many syllables and what does it get you?
So what if Sikhs
Can wear their turbans
While they’re working on the job in the RCMP?


So I’m glad
I’m Canadian
Even though the winters are truly atrocious
Cause just surviving that
Taught us tolerance
You can't make it alone; pioneering ain't an option

But since you asked me
What matters most, I’m thinking:
I wanna be
Playing pickup hockey on a frozen pond in Randboro, yeah
I wanna be
Swimming in a clear lake at a Gatineau cottage, yeah
I wanna be
Watching the parade in Montreal on St Paddy’s Day
Don’t wanna be
Stuck under the heel of the zealots in the GOP
I wanna be somewhere I’m free

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Ottawa has the SSHITs: Toronto Star

You better not squeal
You better tells lies
You better not counter
The government line
Stephen Harper's clamping you down...
(Sung to the tune of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town")

Seems our Super-Secret Harper Imitation Tories are at it again, working for the old clampdown to stifle an Ottawa scientist whose fictional book has them running scared:
Shortly before Tushingham was due to give a luncheon speech in Ottawa about his novel — a futuristic account of Canada and the U.S. at war over water resources in a globally warmed world — he received an email from the environment minister's office, warning him not to attend the event.

Paradoxically, the incident takes place during the same week the Conservatives unveiled new "whistleblower" protection, designed to shield outspoken public servants from intimidation and threats to their livelihood.

Also yesterday, the government said it was axing 15 research programs related to the Kyoto climate-change protocol and aimed at reducing the greenhouse gases thought to cause global warming.

Paradoxically indeed...

Of course Harper is shocked shocked shocked, as is his Communications Director Sandra (who me?) Buckler, telling reporters there was no directive from the top to silence this author. But go read the whole story; this isn't an isolated incident.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Introducing the Super Secret Harper Imitation Tories (or SSHIT)

Rewind to last year. Most people with a brain could see that Stephen Harper's pre-election rhetoric about the coming transparency of a gloriously ethical and humble CPC government would be a pile of manure. Now the smell is unmistakable. Ticking off the press is such a politically stupid and juvenile move. It didn't do anything for Mulroney, that's for sure. This move cuts right to reporters' job security.

I suppose it's part and parcel of Peevey Stevie's unimaginative modus operandi of following the Bushco playbook. You starve the press of their usual gruel and before you know it, they're eating out of your hands, grasping so desperately for the tiniest crumb to get a story - any story - that they'll parrot whatever bullshit mush gets dished out to them in hushed tones by someone insisting on only being identified as a "senior administration official".

Tell me that's not about to happen here.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Canada: Fighting for Afghanis' Rights to Hang Christians

While Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay frets that Canadian troops would be demoralized if the House of Commons were to have a debate about our UN-sponsored NATO commitment to ISAF, I am sure they can all take heart in this news highlighting the kind of freedom Canadian troops are defending in propping up Karzai's government:
An Afghan who has renounced his Islamic faith for Christianity faces the death penalty under Afghan law in a throwback to the brutal Taleban regime.

Abdul Rahman, 41, is being prosecuted for an "attack on Islam", for which the punishment under Afghanistan's draft constitution, is death by hanging.

"The Attorney General is emphasising he should be hung. It is a crime to convert to Christianity from Islam. He is teasing and insulating his family by converting," Judge Alhaj Ansarullah Mawlawy Zada, who will be trying his case, told The Times.

"He was a Muslim for 25 years more than he has been a Christian. We will request him to become a Muslim again. In your country two women can marry I think that is very strange. In this country we have the perfect constitution, it is Islamic law and it is illegal to be a Christian and it should be punished," said the judge.
(Emphasis mine)
Hooboy, can't you just hear them in forty years' time, bragging to their grandchildren about their courageous exploits to save the fledgling Afghanistan government that bravely sought the most brutal punishment to stifle basic religious freedom, and promoted poppy growth to feed the world heroin market? Doesn't it make you wish you were young and idealistic and had a chance to better the world by signing up for duty yourself?

Ah, what stories they will tell...

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Scrotum Try

Ivan of Creative Writing found a nifty site that makes instant anagrams out of anything you throw in.

So he tagged me with this meme: find anagrams for your name (hence the title of this post), plus the name of your blogsite. Some other notables from my name:

A crust, my rot
A curt Ms. Tory
A cut Mrs. Tory
Scar my tutor
Trusty Marco
Scram, Trouty!
YMCA or trust
Carroty smut
Car smut Tory
Racy smut rot

...and far too many more variations with "scary", "smut" and "Tory". This is not all I had hoped it could be. As for anagramming "Tattered Sleeve", I don't think I have the stomach for it, but you can go ahead and put anything interesting you find in the comments thread. Go ahead and give it the 'ol scrotum try!

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Afghanistan Mission is Bullshit

Canada is supporting a new government in Afghanistan that is encouraging opium production to supply the world's misguided kids with the heroin that will ultimately destroy them. Canadian kids too. Just lovely. This is not in keeping with the values of most Canadians, and I don't need to wait for a poll to figure that one out.

Peevey Stevie can spew all the Bushco lines he can memorize to shore up support, but at the end of the day, I'm sorry to say, it's all a load of shit. Karzai, the ex-CIA hack, is not a guy we want to prop up. And he's proving it with this policy. I don't want to hear about how we have NATO commitments. Let's put leaving NATO on the table. I don't want to hear about how the UN has sanctioned the mission. There are other places in the world (and at home) where our armed forces could be more useful. The empty threat of attack here from jihadis will not be stemmed from us killing "bad guys" over there. If anything, it makes us a higher-profile target. And our presence has facilitated the United States to draw down their troop-level in Afghanistan,
In the face of Afghanistan's deepening troubles, the US government is now slashing its funding for reconstruction from a peak of $1 billion in 2004 to a mere $615 million this year. And thanks to the military's recruitment problems, the United States is drawing down its troops from 19,000 to 16,000. In short, despite Bush's feel-good rhetoric, the United States is giving every impression that it is slowly abandoning sideshow Afghanistan.
...while reports say more U.S. troops are headed to Iraq.

If I was a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan, I'd be wondering why the hell I'm putting my life on the line for this.

The fact the Conservatives are pulling out all the rhetorical stops to stifle debate of this mission speaks volumes. Do not take it at face value.

Tip of the hat to Robert at MyBlahg for bringing this to the fore.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Original Song #24: Brendan's Song

Brendan Nolan used to play the Old Dublin;
Seemed like every week
We were the drunks in the back
And we'd always give him cheek
We only knew the Pogues' sound
So we'd call out for Dirty Old Town
He’d come back with a Sally MacLennane to put Shane to shame
(And us in our place, man)

St. Patty’s Day is coming, I’ve booked the time off
Would you meet me at the Dublin, we’ll fight the crowds off
There’s a pint or twenty waiting and Spring’s not far off
I’ll bet my last shamrock it’s Brendan who’s on
Brendan, you're on

Now he’s gone playing around the world
And only back once in a long song’s while
And I’ll only make my way down to the Dub
If I see his name in the listings
Then I see we’re both a little older now
But none the tired -- some the wiser
Now it’s the old drunks who are giving him hell
And I sing and I smile and I’m under his spell

St. Patty’s Day is coming, I’ve booked the time off
Would you meet me at the Dublin, we’ll fight the crowds off
There’s a pint or twenty waiting and Spring’s not far off
I’ll bet my last shamrock it’s Brendan who’s on
Brendan, you're on

Good old Brendan used to play the Old Dublin
Every week

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Original Song #23: "Sentimental Institution"

Hey, Mrs. Stinson,
Can Tim come out to play today?
She said she was Pleased to Meet Me
“But Don’t Tell a Soul, just Let It Be

It’s a shame about Bob
Feels like he taught me and Dando half our chops
Paul and Chris can still turn a phrase
And I’m praying Tommy’s laying off the lampshades

Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take out the Trash
I know you thinks it Stinks
But I’m All Shook Down
Still recovering from the Hootenanny

Even ten years later it still sounds fresh
At least I haven’t gotten sick of it yet
It’s a dedication from a fan
And I’m praying they’ll be laying out the welcome ‘Mats

At the sentimental institution
The sentimental institution
The sentimental institution to you
From me to you and A Boy Named Goo

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Peevey Stevie

The Prime Minister who creates controversy with every move can't even manage to fire the help without it blowing up in his face (and the papers):
A quarter-million dollar lawsuit claiming wrongful dismissal...was filed late yesterday on behalf of Henrik Lundsgaard, who was chef to Stockwell Day, John Reynolds and Harper while they lived at Stornoway, the official residence for the leader of the Opposition.

Lundsgaard alleges he was unceremoniously terminated after being tantalized with a juicy offer to head to the kitchen at 24 Sussex.

...on Jan. 23, Lundsgaard received a short termination letter, which offered no explanation from either of the Harpers, the claim alleges.

Then, in late February, Harper poached Rideau Hall chef Oliver Bartsch to man the kitchen at 24 Sussex for a reported salary of $73,000 to $79,000.

...Under the Harpers, Lundsgaard's role expanded to include odd jobs such as washing their car, driving their kids to school, supervising the kids in a backyard pool, cleaning their cat's litter box and even "attending to the burial of one of the cats after its demise," the claim alleges. Playing video games with the kids, cleaning up after guests, moving furniture at Stornoway and serving drinks were also allegedly on the expanded menu for Lundsgaard.
[Emphasis mine]

Yes, well, Lundsgaard has obviously decided to show his face as a "Liberal hack" with this lawsuit. (They're everywhere, you know). What must Harper be thinking? That all that time Lundsgaard spent being his family's personal slave (paid on the taxpayer's dime, of course) must've been simply a ruse used to lull Harper into a false sense of security. Yes, yes. Oh that's genious. Oh, how could I ever have trusted him?! Then, as soon as he deftly connives me into firing him, he inserts the knife and viciously twists it in - just to give me more bad press. Liberal hack!

Hmm, let's step back a sec. Harper wouldn't meet with the Ethics Commisioner (Oh gosh, terribly busy. Look at the time) to discuss the Grewal investigation.* He continues to refuse to cooperate with the Commish on the Emerson investigation,** and now we see he is unable to handle something as unexceptional as hiring a new chef without ticking-off the old one to the degree he causes an embarrassing stink.

Is there no doo-doo in Ottawa that Harper's toe cannot find its way in?

And how does his office react to media inquiries? In what appears to be a concerted effort to keep one and all "on message", we turn back to the above link for the grand finale:

When asked to comment about a quarter-million dollar lawsuit against Prime Minster Stephen Harper, his wife and the federal government, Harper's communications director Sandra Buckler would say only that "it's a staffing issue.

"I mean, that's all I would have to say about it."

Sun: Are you aware that a lawsuit was filed? Has he been served yet?

Buckler: "I don't know any of that. I've just seen the media reports and as any other staffing issue that's what I would say. It's a staffing issue."

Sun: Obviously he'll be filing a statement of defence?

Buckler: "All I know is that this is a staffing issue."

Sun: So that's all you have to say about that?

Buckler: "Well they're staffing issues and we generally don't go into staffing issues 'cause they're staffing issues."

Sun: So, basically, you guys don't talk about staffing issues is what you're saying?

Buckler: "They're staffing issues."

So, the Sun went to Harper's press secretary, Carolyn Stewart Olsen.

Sun: I just wanted to give you guys an opportunity to comment on it.

Olsen: "Yeah, no, it's a staffing issue."

Sun: Can you elaborate any more or you guys just don't comment on staffing issues?

Olsen: "Yeah, yeah, it's a staffing issue."

Remarkably, when Harper came under fire last month for luring chef Oliver Bartsch away from Rideau Hall, a spokeswoman told the National Post she couldn't offer any details on the selection because ... (wait for it) .... it's a staffing issue.

Well that's it; I'm going to go right ahead and anoint Prime Minister Stephen Harper with the nickname Peevey Stevie. You heard it here first, folks.

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*Tip 'o' the hat to Scotian for the link - every Canadian should read this post).

**Nice work there by Mark[Section15]

Nixon would be in awe...

Gotta hand it to this Bush administration and the Republican congress. When have you ever seen a government as corrupt as this and in so many exciting new ways?
Claude A. Allen, who resigned last month as President Bush's top domestic policy adviser, was arrested this week in Montgomery County for allegedly swindling Target and Hecht's stores out of more than $5,000 in a refund scheme, police said.

Allen, 45, of Gaithersburg, has been released on his own recognizance and is awaiting trial on two charges, felony theft scheme and theft over $500, said Lt. Eric Burnett, a police spokesman. Each charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.


He came to the attention of Montgomery police after a manager at a Gaithersburg Target store called the department about an incident Jan. 2. Montgomery detectives were able to document other alleged crimes from Oct. 29 to Jan. 2, some of which were captured on camera, Burnett said.

Allen resigned from the White House on Feb. 9, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Ah, nothing like family. They always understand.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pics from the Randboro set last Friday at Barfly

Randboro (left to right): Jean-Marc Barsalou, Jose-Luis Duque, me

We had a wicked fun time playing in front of the Barfly faithful last Friday for John's & Kim's birthdays. Randboro blasted through a set of nine originals that was only marred by a broken string on Spitsbergen (and, ahem, more than a couple of flubbed lines). But no matter - the crowd was there for a good time, and so were we. L'il Buck played like their usual fabulous selves.

One thing I learned back in my days as an editor at the Concordian was to never forget to give photo credit. Especially when they're as arty as this one on the right. I love the effect from the cigarette smoke. You won't get to see that again after the new total indoor public ban comes into effect May 31st. So a big thanks to Ms. Jen Peterson for these. (Her comments on the show: "Paul Westerberg would have loved it, as did I.") Glad you liked it, Jen, and a big thanks to all who came out. Hopefully we'll get our lazy butts out for another gig this Spring.


So long Theo, and good luck

Surprising news: the Habs traded Jose Theodore. It's a good move on Bob Gainey's part and I just can't believe they were able to spring David Aebischer from Colorado for a guy who's totally lost his game, has a broken heel that won't give him any time to find his game before the playoffs, and will cost them somthing like $11 million over the next two years of his contract. That's a gamble and a half on Colorado GM Pierre Lacroix's part if you ask me.

As for les glorieux, they recoup a whack of salary room under the cap, so look for the other shoe to drop tomorrow. If I were Bob I'd pick up Turner Stevenson off waivers and move Mike Ribeiro to Pittsburgh for Mark Recchi (I always want the good 'ol boys back home).

And as for Theo, let me just say that even les Cowboys Fringants have given up on him, taking time out from their set to dis Theo, and getting a round of rousing cheers down at the Spectrum earlier this year. He has had a hot and cold career here, culminating in a perfectly dismal season this year before breaking his heel in a home mishap. And the baggage factor was getting overwhelming. The first kink in his armor came when local newspapers splashed photos of Theo partying with local criminal biker gang a couple of years ago. He failed a drug test this year for a substance known to mask a certain steroid (although his doctor vouched that it was being taken for hair-loss prevention), and for all his hype and salary, he never could prove himself in the playoffs beyond the first round.

As Pierre Lacroix is tragically bound to find out, Jose Theodore is no Patrick Roy and is showing no signs that he ever will be. I think les Canadiens will be just fine without him, and are a better team with the Aebischer / Cristobal Huet tandem in nets.

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U.S. to bomb Iran in two weeks?

A couple of weeks ago, I was very disturbed to read Gwynne Dyer's article, Iran, Oil and Euros: the War Scenario.
Here's the scenario. On 20 March Iran opens a new "bourse" (exchange) on which countries all over the world can buy and sell oil and gas not only for dollars but also for euros. It also establishes a new oil "marker" (oil pricing standard) based on Iranian crude and denominated in euros, in open rivalry to the existing West Texas Intermediate, Norway Brent and UAE Dubai markers, all of which are calculated in US dollars.

The Iranian bourse is an instant success with countries and companies that are unhappy about having to hold huge amounts of overvalued US dollars to finance their oil transactions, all of which must presently be conducted in that currency. Very large sums start to shift from the dollar to the euro, although exactly how much is unknown because the US Federal Reserve System (by pure coincidence, of course) has chosen late March as the time to stop publishing the data that would make it easy to know how fast the haemorrhage was.

But the US government knows, and is deeply alarmed by the danger that the dollar may be losing its status as the world's only reserve currency. Given the huge deficits that plague the US economy, the US dollar's value would collapse if other countries began to see it as just another currency, so the euro must be prevented from emerging as an alternative reserve currency. In practice, that means the Iranian experiment with a euro-denominated oil bourse must be stopped -- and the only way to do that is to attack Iran.
Dyer goes on to say that such complex reasoning is far too cunning for the likes of the Bush administration, and concludes that if Iran is to be attacked, it will be for "other motives". Nevertheless, I have been trying to pay close attention to news reports about the ongoing standoff with Iran over their nuclear intentions (and this new bourse), but it has been such an eventful two weeks, little news has surfaced recently. And then I noticed this article from the Guardian:
The US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, has told British MPs that military action could bring Iran's nuclear programme to a halt if all diplomatic efforts fail. The warning came ahead of a meeting today of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which will forward a report on Iran's nuclear activities to the UN security council.

...According to Eric Illsley, a Labour committee member, (Bolton) told the MPs: "They must know everything is on the table and they must understand what that means. We can hit different points along the line. You only have to take out one part of their nuclear operation to take the whole thing down."

...The Pentagon position was described, by the committee chairman, Mike Gapes, as throwing a demand for a militarily enforced embargo into the security council "like a hand grenade - and see what happens".

(On March 5th) Mr Bolton reiterated his hardline stance. In a speech to the annual convention of the American-Israel public affairs committee, the leading pro-Israel US lobbyists, he said: "The longer we wait to confront the threat Iran poses, the harder and more intractable it will become to solve ... we must be prepared to rely on comprehensive solutions and use all the tools at our disposal to stop the threat that the Iranian regime poses."

...According to Time magazine, the US plans to present the security council with evidence that Iran is designing a crude nuclear bomb, like the one dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. The evidence will be in the form of blueprints that the US said were found on a laptop belonging to an Iranian nuclear engineer, and obtained by the CIA in 2004.

Well, here we go again. It seems it's Bolton's job this time to stir up the Security Council. And now Cheney has heightened his war-drum beating rhetoric in lock-step:
...Vice President Cheney had already issued a blunt threat that Iran will face "meaningful consequences" if it fails to cooperate with international efforts to curb its nuclear program. Cheney told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee yesterday that the United States "is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime" and is sending "a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."

Note the almost identical terminology between Bolton's "Everything is on the table" and Cheney's "keeping all options on the table" sound-bites. In Rove's White House, that's a clear sign there is a major selling game afoot with the American people. And if you really want to stay up late, browse through some of the articles cobbled together by NewsGateway on "the War on Iran". Most commentary I've seen agrees that an iInvasion seems unlikely as long as the U.S. military remains overstretched and bogged-down in Iraq; but major airstrikes are a piece of cake, and by at least one account (from three weeks ago), the order of the day:
Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's nuclear sites as a "last resort" to block Teheran's efforts to develop an atomic bomb.

"This is more than just the standard military contingency assessment," said a senior Pentagon adviser. "This has taken on much greater urgency in recent months."

I'm not liking this one bit.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

My condolences to the Women of South Dakota

I am profoundly sorry to hear that your Republican state legislature and governor don't feel you deserve rights over your own bodies. To these bozos and all anti-abortionists out there, it's refresher time:

1. Abortion is a medical procedure. By criminalizing abortion, the government of South Dakota presumes to know more than the American Medical Association about how doctors should treat their patients.

2. A foetus is not a viable living entity. It has no rights if it resides in the womb. It is a part of the woman who is its host. If it is living outside the womb, its umbilical cord severed, then it is a human baby.

3. It's a pretty strong indication that you're not ready for motherhood - which is an incredibly huge undertaking, let's not forget - if you're seeking an abortion. A lot of mothers get uncerimoniously ditched by Daddy and then are left on their own with the children. Where's the law forcing men to take the responsibiliy of sticking with fatherhood for the long haul? We don't need any more unwanted children in this world.

4. You can't legislate against abortion. You only drive it underground and create more pain and misery in the world by doing so. And some of your daughters will be victims of this policy who will die bleeding out from using a coathanger in a state of panic because they're ashamed to even talk about it to their doctor or their friend or you because they know society has deemed it immoral.

5. Something to think about: Lot's more women die in child-birth - or of complications from pregnancy - than men. I'd say, ballpark, 100% or so.

6. Read this at firedoglake to understand how bizarre anti-abortionists become defending their illogic:
I brought up one of my favorite forced birth conundrums the other day, guaranteed to make wingnut "life begins at conception" heads explode. If a fire breaks out in a fertility clinic and you can only save a petri dish with five blastulae or a two-year old child, which do you save?

We just love Mike Stark, who takes this stuff to the streets. He called Andrew Wilkow's radio talk show and put the question to him, and Wilkow's head did, in fact, explode. He was reduced to a sputtering rage, screaming that he would not, in fact, save the two year-old child.

7. I'm getting sick of this. Just read the Cider House Rules and A Handmaid's Tale. Then rent the DVDs. Then almost die in childbirth carrying a rapist's last sick laugh. Then raise some rapist's child as a single-parent. Then you can come back here and tell me why abortion should not be a woman's choice.

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PEI potato warning: halucinogens may be present

CTV ran the story. They were a little more delicate than I was with this headline. Anyway, I see a face too.

And it's Miss Piggy. Go have a look and tell me I'm wrong.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Question for Prime Minister Stephan Harper

If the Ethics Commissioner is someone you are "loath" to work with, someone you're insinuating is a partisan hack, then wasn't it highly irresponible of you not to replace this dubious individual (as only the PM can do) in your first week in office? I thought you said we were going to have a more accountable government with you guys in power. I guess if you replace him now it'll kind of look like you're doing it to avoid answering some sticky questions. Hmm. Tough spot for you, eh?

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Scout Prime in New Orleans

Last week Mardi Gras returned to New Orleans. It was hard to imagine they still haven't cleaned up very much yet. That houses are still littering the middles of some roads. That bodies remain decomposing in some homes. That electricity hasn't been restored for much of the city. That they are so unbelievably slow about putting the city back in order.

Well, it bothered Scout Prime enough to take a trip to NOLA and do some compellingly good on-the-spot blogging:
Destruction in the poor black 9th Ward is horrible. But go to white working class St. Bernard's Parish. It's devastated. Go to the white upper middle class area of Lakeview. Those folks are wiped out too. They have more means to come back??? Think about how you would pay the mortgage on your $450,000 home that is nothing more than a pile of debris and also pay rent on an apartment that you now must rent...if you can find one and with no job. (BTW $350 apartments are now going for $1500 where I'm staying here). That's just your own personal hell.... there's more outside your door.

The infrastructure is devastated. And it hits Everyone. It's great to see stop lights...they are few and far between in many areas. Wonder when someone will pick up that pile of garbage outside your home much of which was the inside of your home? No one can tell you. Want a phone? Sorry for many it will be months like 6. Trying to get electricity turned on? Perhaps soon and then perhaps not. You may get mail service.... sometimes. You need to get groceries? Be prepared to drive far and wait in long lines. You have children? It's best to find an out of state relative for them to live with for this school year at least. And whatever you do don't get hurt or sick. A small injury could be a Major problem. Ambulance drivers tell of sitting outside the few "hospitals" caring for people in their rigs cause it's better than what's available inside.

The streaming video of her tour of the 9th ward that accompanies this post is a must-see. You would think the disaster happened only last week - not six months ago.

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