Wednesday, December 21, 2005

But how mad would Tories be if Martin had accepted!!!

So, Stephen Harper will "stand up for Canada" and Paul Martin won't.


This decision by the Tories for Stephen Harper to debate Gilles Ducceppe one-on-one on French T.V. is smart politics by Harper, but I don't see how Martin could have avoided this.

If Martin had agreed to debate Ducceppe one-on-one on French T.V. the Tories would have had a stroke! They would have screamed bloody murder, and called it another shallow, arrogant Liberal attempt to frame the Quebec election as a two-sided referendum election, and to perpetuate the "myth" that the race in Quebec is a two-party race.

The Tories would have been infuriated, OUTRAGED(!) and they wouldn't have let the Liberals get away with it. Now that Martin has refused to a one-on-one debate with Ducceppe which would have left Harper and Layton to suck their thumbs, the Tories are "infuriated" that Martin would "back down" before the separatists, and will "stand up for Canada" themselves. It's hypocricy of the worst kind, but it's smart politics. Martin was damned if he did, damned if he didn't, and I'll be interested to see if the media points that out.

I'll also be interested to see if he tries to get back in. It seems to me that an easy argument could be made that while Martin realizes that only two parties have much of a chance to win seats in Quebec, he wasn't willing to go so far as to subvert democracy by debating with Duceppe without Harper and Layton present. And it'll be interesting to see how Layton reacts to all of this. It'll also be interesting to see if it's even legal to have a televised debate between two party leaders, excluding others. Plenty of people were upset that the Greens didn't get to debate on T.V., and they don't even have a member of parliament. Now we're going to have a leaders' debate without the current Prime Minister? A debate between one man who's caucus is exclusively from inside Quebec, and another man whose caucus is exclusively from outside of Quebec? Sublime, meet ridiculous.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Will Harper "throw a punch" at the Americans???

Stephen Harper seems to be suggestiung lately that, if anything, the problem with Prime Minister Martin's recent comments on softwood lumber and global warming isn't that they're hyperbolic anti-American rhetoric, but that they're EMPTY hyperbolic anti-American rhetoric.

From CNN:

Harper equated Martin's dealings with the United States on softwood to a kid who calls names but is afraid to fight. "He hasn't thrown a punch. He couldn't throw a punch to save his life," he said.

So, now I'm really curious. Will Harper "throw a punch"? What will that "punch" be? Will the Americans even feel it? Worse, if they do, will they punch back? And finally, can conservatives still attack Martin as dangerously anti-American now that Harper has basically said that the problem isn't Martin's words, but the fact that he won't back them up with action?

Curiouser and curiouser.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I can't believe we're still talking about childcare...

Well, I guess maybe the "beer and popcorn" gaffe is bigger than I thought, since both the Globe and Mail AND the National Post decided to stretch out the story by waiting until today, three days later, to publish their editorials condemning it (though I still think the biggest insult is that Scott Reid has found a supply of RIDICULOUSLY cheap beer and popcorn, and refuses to tell us where it is...).

Still, I can't believe we're still talking about the Liberal's plan versus the Conservative plan. In fact, it's not even the Liberal philosophy versus the Conservative philosophy at all. The Conservatives are the ONLY major party that doesn't want a national childcare plan. And guess what? CANADIANS want a national childcare plan too. That's why the Liberals have been promising it for 12 years! That's why Brian Mulroney promised it before that. It's also why Quebec (sick of waiting for something everyone was demanding) went a head and started their own plan. And what do you know, there's a gender gap! Women favour a national daycare program much more strongly than men (gee... I wonder why...)

And allow me to just say, once again, that a tax cut does not a "childcare plan" make. And before conservatives start complaining that the Tory plan is more than the measly $25 a week tax cut for parents (which, let's face it, will only REALLY help people who aren't already paying for daycare anyway). No, it's more than that! It's a tax cut for businesses too! That's right! The Conservative plan is much better than setting up a government program designed to provide high-quality regulated childcare to parents at an affordable price. The Conservatives want to give thousands of dollars to private corporations to set up their own childcare centres without all of the bureaucracy of "regulation" and "quality-control" and "minimum standards". We'll have all kinds of choices then! You can stay at home with your kids, leave them with trusted family members who don't work for a living or send them to a privately run daycare centre! Excellent! (but, is it just me, or do you have that choice now???)

Under the Conservative plan, companies will receive $10,000 per daycare space they create. Now, what they'll charge people to use those spaces is anyone's guess (repeat after me, it's not the role of government to interfere in the private sector). But if I were running a company, I'd jump at this. The Conservatives are offering to give companies grants to get into a business that is essential to many Canadians, and in which demand exceeds supply. The average cost to families of daycare in Canada is $8000 a year, and presumably, that includes some small profit margin for the operator. Now, obviously, start up costs for a program would be higher, but it seems to me, if you're a CEO, and the government is going to give you $10,000 per child to set up a program that you can then reap $8000 per child per year from (and $X000 per child per year in profits depending upon how much you charge) well, that's a good deal. Furthermore, if you can manage to set-up the program for the $8000 a child that the AVERAGE centre actually charges, you've made a $2000 per child profit before you even enroll your first child. And best of all, the Conservatives are all about "choice". So you can use that $10,000 per child to set up any kind of program you like. Hiring trained early education specialists too expensive? Don't. Simple as that.

So instead of slimy bureaucrats setting up a program with "regulations" and "standards", the Conservatives will give grants to the local Walmart to set up a daycare program for us! That'll be much better!

Vive le "choice"!

(And can I just mention how ticked I am that the Conservatives keep whining about "bureaucrats and government workers raising our kids". The bureaucrats that there may be will be ensuring that daycare centres adhere to a minimum standard of care, not working in the centres. The people in the centres will be teachers and early childcare specialists with training and experience (who knows who the private companies will hire under the Conservative plan... that's none of the government's business). So, will the teachers and early education specialists be "government workers"? Well, I suppose. But so is virtually every teacher in the country. So are most of our doctors. And nurses. And policemen. And firefighters. And soldiers. So what? I'd rather have a well-educated professional whose pay cheque comes from the government (and is therefore regulated by the government) taking care of my kids, than somebody who took a month long "training course" and managed to get by the strict regulations (if any) set up by my local corporate "daycare" centre. There are some things that are so important to Canadians that we feel we have a collective responsibility to fund and operate those services as a society rather than allowing private companies to do the work for us. Our healthcare is one. Our military is another. Our educational system is yet another. I think the majority of Canadians think that the childcare that so many of us need for our children before they reach the age at which our educational system begins, is another essential service that we can't just leave in the hands of corporations. But maybe I'm crazy.).

The Liberals like tax cuts, but believe that there are some things in society that must be handled by the government. The Conservatives love tax cuts and believe that "government" is a dirty word.

You make the call.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

I kid you not...

This is the latest headline for the CNN story on Bush's recent Iraq speech:

Bush: Iraqi democracy making progress; estimates 30,000 Iraqis killed

Well, good to know they're making progress.

You couldn't make this stuff up.


Of course reading the article is even better:

Another question came from a woman who asked why the Bush administration continues to link the September 11 terrorist attacks with the decision to invade Iraq.
Bush, who said in his opening remarks that the war on terror started that day in 2001, responded, "9/11 changed my look on foreign policy. I mean, it said that oceans no longer protect us; that we can't take threats for granted; that if we see a threat, we've got to deal with it."
The president said that Saddam Hussein was a threat that was "accentuated by 9/11."

That's right. The President answered a question about why his administration continues to link Iraq to 9/11 by explaining the link betwen Iraq and 9/11. That's just priceless.

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Why would you spend your $5 a day on beer and popcorn when you could buy....

... Oh, wait, I can't actually think of anything useful you could get for $5 a day.

In fact, does Scott Reid have any idea how expensive beer and popcorn are? I mean, if you're in a two-parent home, I figure $5 a day buys you each one beer and one bag of popcorn!

You know the one thing that $5 a day definitely won't help you get though?


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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Banning handguns might not stop gangs, but most murders aren't committed by gangs anyway!!!

Right Wingers are going to complain that banning handguns will do nothing to stop the urban gang violence in Toronto. While I don't agree 100% with that assessment, the point they make does have validity, so I for one am going to concede that point and move on to the real reason banning handguns is a good policy... most gun deaths are NOT gang related!!!

Here are some stats:

Stats Can: “Each year, there are about five times more suicides involving firearms than homicides committed with firearms.”

1996 figures “More than 1,000 Canadians die every year from gunshot wounds, most of them by their own hand. In 1996 the total firearm deaths amounted to 1,131, of which 815 were suicides, 45 were accidents and 156 were homicides.”

You’re much more likely to die by a gun because of suicide and accident, than homicide.
Also, most of the homicides are NOT gang related. Most gun homicides are domestic disputes which end in a death because someone has a gun.

“The evidence indicates that potential murderers are usually not persons engaged in premeditated homicidal acts, but rather, participants in family quarrels, arguments between acquaintances, brawls, clashes of personality, and so on. While such disturbances precipitate violence, they neither require a death for their resolution nor usually result in fatal consequences for those involved. It is unrealistic to assume that people involved in most murder cases are so determined to kill that in the absence of guns they will either seek to achieve their purpose with any available alternative or deliberately evade whatever restrictions may be enacted." (“Guns and Violence,” pp. 13-14)

In other words, most domestic homicides involving guns wouldn’t have been homicides at all if there hadn’t been a gun present, and you are FAR more likely to kill a family member with your gun than to kill anyone else.

It’s also interesting to note that in cases of domestic homocide using handguns, the murderer was only violating a gun law at the time of the killing in 22% of cases!!!

So, while gang violence gets all the headlines (and the Liberals will probably sell this as helping with that, which I admit it probably won’t) suicides and family on family murders are a MUCH bigger problem in reality. And in the case of domestic violence with handguns, 78% of perps hadn’t violated any gun law at all, until the moment they killed their family member (usually their spouse).

Banning handguns might not make Toronto any safer for pedestrians. But it probably will save lives. And as far as I'm concerned, saving the lives of innocent people is a good reason to ban handguns, even if gangsters will still have illegal guns.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Tories unite Canadians!!!

Wow, is it possible the Tories could win more seats than anyone else and STILL not be able to form a government that can govern?

Everyone assumes that whatever happens in this election there will be another minority Parliament (unless the Liberals can somehow squeak in a majority, but no one really expects that!). So, let's take a look at the Tories' announced policies so far, and what the other parties in Parliament think of them:

1) Re-open the same-sex marriage issue.
Liberals: Bad idea.
BQ: Bad idea.
NDP: Terrible idea.

2) Cut 2% from the GST
Liberals: Stupid idea.
BQ: Stupid idea.
NDP: What an idiotic idea.

3) Increase criminal penalties for drug offenses.
Liberals: Stupid, bad idea.
BQ: Stupid regressive idea.
NDP: Stupid bad regressive idea.

4) $5 a day for all parents (regardless of need) for child care.
Liberals: Stupid idea, and we already have a plan in place with 10 provinces that is better.
BQ: Stupid idea, and we expect that even a Tory government will live up to agreements that have already been made with the provinces.
NDP: Wow, what a completely idiotic plan!

The Tories clearly have a plan.

Any idea how they're going to implement it in a minority situation with no support from ANY of the other parties in the House.

Perhaps the Tories new slogan will be "Give us a majority! Otherwise none of our crazy plans will get done!"

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Who knew that "choice" only costs $5 per day!

Well, the Tories continue to keep the momentum by announcing policy after policy (idiotic policy after idiotic policy, to be sure, but still, everyone's talking!) The latest? Harper's Tories will offer Canadian parents "choice" by paying for the bus ride to and from daycare everyday!

How parents pay for the DAYCARE is entirely up to them.

The only "choice" this will give most parents is for one of them to stay at home, or to have family members take care of the kids. Now, I understand that this is what the Conservatives want to promote, but that's not "choice". Not for most families.

I like to compare the Tory announcement to the Quebec childcare system. In Quebec, the provinicial government provides childcare, and asks you to pay $5 per day. In the Tory plan, Harper will give you $5 per day, and ask you to find private childcare yourself. Thanks Uncle Stephen! Now, the Quebec system is not perfect by any means. But which of these two plans sounds like it might need some tweaking, and which sounds FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED?


The Tories are stealing the agenda by making all of these policy announcements, but now I realize why the Liberals are keeping pretty quiet. As long as the Tories are making announcements, they're keeping the headlines. But as long as those announcements are idiotic and wrong-headed (reopeneing same-sex marriage, a GST cut most economists think is stupid, increased criminal penalties for drug offences when most Canadian want a more comprehensive drug strategy rather than a "war on drugs", and now a childcare plan that wouldn't pay for 10 weeks of childcare a year!!!) well, if I were the Liberals, I'd keep my head down and laugh at the show too!

Apparently, Quebec public daycare is $7 a day, not $5. And if you don't want to wait, you'll have to pay $14.

To compare, the national average is $22, so under the Harper plan, it'll cost you $17 a day (on average) compared to Quebec's $7 or $14. But under Harper's plan, there are no national standards. You pay the company, you take your chances. Of course, I'm told be readers in Ottawa that THERE, the average is around $35, so if you live in Ottawa, you're going to pay $30 a month under the Tories, or more than twice the expensive rate in Quebec's system. (That is, IF you decide to spend the money on childcare, which the Tories don't really care if you do or not). As has been pointed out, the Tory plan is NOT childcare. It's a tax break.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

As if Murtha weren't enough, now the IRAQIs want a timetable....

From CNN:

Reaching out to the Sunni Arab community, Iraqi leaders called for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces and said Iraq's opposition had a "legitimate right" of resistance.
The communique -- finalized by Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni leaders Monday -- condemned terrorism but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens.
The leaders agreed on "calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces ... control the borders and the security situation" and end terror attacks.

Now, I'm not certain that Republicans will want to spin THIS as a call for an immediate withdrawl (as is they're want to do these days) but it would be funny if they did. Also, I note that President Bush is always saying to Democrats that setting up a timetable would amount to capitulation, and give the enemy a false sense of hope, and a timeline for increased violence. What does he do now when the Iraqis themselves want a timetable? It'll be interesting to see.

So, democracy continues to blossom in Iraq... unless you ask the 80% of Iraqis who want the U.S. to leave. Then again, I suppose in Middle Eastern "democracies" (outside of Israel) 80% just isn't that convincing of a majority.

It's also interesting that the Iraqis want to stop labelling insurgents who aren't attacking civilians or "institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens" as "terrorists". I too find it interesting that people tend to use "insurgent" and "terrorist" as though they were synonymous terms these days, as though the definition of words didn't matter. Not that it will change Western coverage of the war, but it's interesting to see that the Iraqis are concerned about this blurring of definitions too. They came a heck of a lot closer than I would have ever thought they would to saying that resisting the occupation is legitimate, as long as you don't use "terrorist" tactics. Maybe everyone who says the Iraqi government isn't legitimate, and is just a puppet regime for the Americans is wrong. 'Cause I'm pretty sure talk like this didn't get vetted by the Bush administration.

This is fascinating too:

The final communique also stressed participants' commitment to Iraq's unity and called for the release of all "innocent detainees" who have not been convicted by courts. It asked that allegations of torture against prisoners be investigated and those responsible be held accountable.
The statement also demanded "an immediate end to arbitrary raids and arrests without a documented judicial order."

Wow. Good luck getting the Americans on board with all of that!

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Powell's former chief of staff : "no question" U.S. used torture....

Well, you'd expect this to be coming from the "far left" but once your own Secratary of State's former Chief of Staff starts using the T-word, you should be worried no? (especially if a leading member of your own party is out there trying to ban torture, and your response is to threaten to veto his bill....)

From CNN:

Retired U.S. Army Col. Larry Wilkerson, who served as former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, told CNN that the practice of torture may be continuing in U.S.-run facilities.
"There's no question in my mind that we did. There's no question in my mind that we may be still doing it," Wilkerson said on CNN's "Late Edition."

"There's no question in my mind where the philosophical guidance and the flexibility in order to do so originated -- in the vice president of the United States' office," he said. "His implementer in this case was [Defense Secretary] Donald Rumsfeld and the Defense Department."

At another point in the interview, Wilkerson said "the vice president had to cover this in order for it to happen and in order for Secretary Rumsfeld to feel as though he had freedom of action."

Bad couple of weeks for the administration. The existence of secret U.S. prisons in Eastern Europe is leaked, the Murtha fiasco blows up in the GOP's face, and everywhere I look on the news tonight there are stories about those secret CIA jetstreams, and prisoners being flown to Egypt and Syria (gee, I wonder why...). Conspiracy nuts must be losing it. Everything they've ever dreamed up is showing up on CNN! Heads up everybody. That crazy guy down the street who thinks the CIA's after him? Keep your distance. You don't want to be around when they grab him.


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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Tory lies, Tory truth....

I'm very confused, and I need someone to explain some things to me.

Were the Tories telling the truth when they said in the Spring that it was uconscionable that the NDP would support the corrupt, criminal Liberals just because they agreed with the government's spending priorities, or are they telling the truth now, when they say that it's important that they support the corrupt, criminal Liberals because they agree with the government's spending priorities (or is it just that NDP support is bribe-taking insanity and Tory support is prudent parliamentary manouvering and I should just accept that? Tories good, NDP bad, and that's it?). And does it change your view at all that the NDP propped up the government BEFORE Gomery 1, and the Tories are doing it AFTER Gomery 1?

Were the Tories and their supporters telling the truth when they said that Canadians wouldn't mind a Christmas election, or should I believe their ACTIONS (as they scramble around trying ever so hard to avoid being seen forcing a Christmas election)?

Should I believe the conservatives who told me yesterday that Goodale's budget plan was terrible, and a naked attempt to bribe the voters of Canada, or should I believe the conservatives who are today telling me that they're glad the Liberals have "adopted the Conservative agenda" and that the Tories intend to support Goodale's plan? Is the plan evil corrupt Liberal criminality, or stolen Tory policy (or do you believe the Tories have had an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" moment and that corrupt vote buying simply IS Tory policy now?).

Are the Liberals so far gone that the opposition should do everything in their power to bring them down at the "earliest possible opportunity", or not? You can spend an entire summer telling anyone who'll listen that your opponents are pond scum, and that they've lost the moral authority to govern, but as far as I'm concerned, if you believe a party has lost the moral authority to govern (and that they are corrupt and criminal - Harper's two favourite words) then you're morally obliged to bring them down whenever you have the chance. If you don't, I don't see how you can continue to claim that they have no moral authority to govern, after voting with them and continuing to keep their moral authorityless asses in power. Saying a party has no moral authority to govern is one thing. SUPPORTING a government you say has no moral authority to govern (for ANY reason) now that I don't get. (unless you were lying to me, and you don't believe they've lost the moral authority to govern, in which case..... uhmmmm, OK.)

My head is spinning so fast from the opposition manouvering that the Liberals are actually starting to look STABLE.

At this point, I'm not even sure what party Stephen Harper and Jack Layton each want me to vote for anymore. And I'm not at all confident that either of them could explain it to me.

Some higher force seems to be protecting Martin and the Liberals. With all they've done (and failed to do) only an opposition this incompetent could make the Liberlas look good.

Congrats Jack and Stephen! You're pulling off the impossible!

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Goodale to not only announce tax cuts, but bring forth a bill...

So, apparently (they were just discussing this on CTV Newsnet) Ralph Goodale will not just announce planned tax cuts today, but the government is going to bring forth an actual bill announcing some new tax cuts (retroactive to Jan. 2005 as well) that would apparently come up for a vote sometime BEFORE the next opposition days.

So I guess the opposition will have to vote against tax cuts for Canadians, or alternatively vote WITH the government on a confidence matter, immediately before voting AGAINST the government in a confidence matter.

This should be fun to watch.

More details to follow, no doubt...

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

On that "Hidden Agenda" clap-trap....

"I don't believe for a moment that the Conservative Party of Canada has a hidden agenda".

"I don't want the Conservative Party of Canada to form the next government".

So tell me everyone, are these two statements mutually exclusive? No? Because every time I reiterate my intention to try to keep the Tories out of power, I am assailed by conservatives for being a (stupid, or corrupt, or lazy... take your pick of insult) Ontario voter who has fallen for the "hidden agenda" clap-trap. After all, why would anyone who wasn't corrupt (or stupid) vote Liberal? My answer? To keep Stephen Harper from becoming Prime Minister.

Are Tory supporters so convinced that they are right that they can't even fathom someone disagreeing with their policies? Do they really believe that no one would ever vote against Harper, unless they were bribed, or were just too stupid to know any better?

I never fell for the idea that the Tories had some devious, neanderthal "hidden agenda". In fact, I railed against such a silly idea. But the reason I railled against it was mostly because I believe that their ACTUAL agenda is bad enough for me. Not only did I not fall for the hidden agenda line, it was completely wasted on me. I for one am perfectly clear about what the CPC's agenda is, and I don't like it. So just what am I supposed to do?

I think I'm your typical Ontario voter, which means everyone should want my vote. But all I ever hear Harper say is that he just can't fathom why anyone would vote Liberal. He's not particularly intersested, sofar as I can see, in convincing me to vote for him, as he is in chastizing me for not voting for him. So I'd like to hear from some Blogging Tories (and everyone else who'd like to comment) about just what they expect a Canadian who thinks the Liberal party has moved too far to the right to do. I'll probably end up voting NDP, but I must say, I'll be sickened if Harper becomes Prime Minister, and if that DOES happen, I'll probably spend the entire mandate of a CPC minority government feeling guilty about not voting Liberal. And I won't be alone. Which makes me wonder how all of those like me will vote in the next election after that (Liberal landslide anyone?).

Anyway. I'm sick of being called corrupt or stupid for not supporting the CPC, and I've come to believe that the only political myth in Canada bigger than the idea that the Tories have a "hidden agenda" is the Tories' delusion that fear of a "hidden agenda" is the only thing keeping them from making ground in Ontario. I think I know what the CPC stands for, and I think I know what Harper believes (he thinks the Liberals are corrupt... right?) and it's that ACTUAL agenda that I find distasteful. And yet Tories still seem to believe that I should ignore the fact that their party will move the country in the exact OPPOSITE direction to the one I want the country to go in, just because some members of the Liberal party of Canada have been found to be corrupt. To me, that just doesn't make sense.


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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Sniper attacks in New Orleans...

I understand and applaud the initial impulse to put rescue ahead of security in the fight to save the people of New Orleans, but I'm afraid it appears the lawlessness has reached a truly shocking level! Someone's going to have to go in there HARD and gain some control if people are going to be saved. It's truly tragic.

Gunmen target Medical Convoy... New Orleans Mayor issues "a desperate SOS"

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Did Canada respond to Katrina fast enough?


The Americans know we're here, and that we'll do for them, or give to them, anything they need, and I'm positive that was clear to them before, during and after the storm, no matter when the official press releases of condolences and offers of help came out (Cabinet Secretaries and Presidents don't get offers of help from Press Releases, that's already happened once the release is issued).

The rest of this post is a bit partisan, and I'm as sick as the next person of partisanship being injected in to the Katrina disaster, so please feel free to move on to more important posts now...

Now, to those people who don't think we responded fast enough?


I'm pretty sure when the government's first press release came out on Tuesday, Bush hadn't even arrived back in Washington from his vacation yet. Now, I don't mean, at all, to slag Bush here. It's clear that the extent of the damage, especially to New Orleans, wasn't clear right away, in part because levees kept bursting long AFTER the storm hit, so the initial damage from the storm hitting was only the beginning. And, in part, because media couldn't get IN to New Orleans right away, making it hard to publicize the extent of the disaster. I'm not a big Bush fan by any means, but I don't doubt for one second that he did, and will continue to do everything he can to help his citizens in this crisis. And I have no doubt that the Canadian government stands willing and prepared to offer ANY asistance requested. And the Americans know that, and will call on us when they need anything. To the extent that things (in the media) didn't happen IMMEDIATELY, I blame that on nothing more than the extent of the damage not being IMMEDIATELY apparent. That's why Bush stayed in Crawford, but I have no doubt about Bush's commitment to the American people and his wish to do whatever can be done to save those devastated by the storm (and I'm not even going to comment on my disagreements with him here... that can be left aside for a few days while this disaster is dealt with...).

It's like the Tories want us to just start randomly driving trucks and flying helicopters across the border, without any coordination from the Americans, or any assessment of what they are short of, or what assistance is most needed, or where. I'm quite confident in the Americans' preparedness and resources to deal with a disaster like this, and while I'm sure they very well may need assistance from us at some point, I'm not at all convinced they need it YESTERDAY. If they had though, I'm sure it would have been there. The Tories make it sound like Bush is desperately trying to call us for help and Martin is refusing to answer the phone. And as we all know, if the White House is having phone troubles these days...

Sure, it's silly hyperbole to suggest that all those calls to the White House switchboard about softwood lumber (a helpful suggestion from the CPC to stand up to the Americans ON THE VERY DAY OF THE HURRICANE!!!) would hurt the relief effort at all, but it's no less silly to claim the Government's response was too slow.

The first government press release came out THE SAME DAY AS HARPER'S. And it stated that the Deputy Prime Minister had ALREADY CONTACTED Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, to offer any assistance needed, and that the Health Minister had already advised the Public Health Agency in Canada to get in touch with HHS in the U.S. to offer any assistance needed, including access to resources such as the emergency medical supplies contained in our National Emergency Stockpile System.

I just can't understand people who would hate a politician or political party SO MUCH that they would believe that a human being would drag their feet at a time like this. Much less that they would drag their feet out of some sort of "anti-Americanism". And to even think of using a tragedy like this to attack your political opponents (especially when it's clearly not warranted) is sickening. It's ludicrous.

Paul Wells is right, people outside Canada must be disgusted that some of us would whine, and moan, and wring our hands over our government's (supposedly) slow response. As though this was all about us, and our supposed anti-Americanism, and not about helping helpless and desperate people.

I'm so sick of politicians in Canada. I have no words. I hope the government just ignores the Tories, and doesn't fight back (as I have here) at all. Stay on the high road Paul (I'm no fan of you either, so watch yourself). The CPC is damaging itself quite enough these days without your help, and if you try to take advantage of this tragedy like they have, I'm gonna get really mad at you too.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

965 Dead in Baghdad stampede....

With all the (completely deserved) attention paid to Katrina and its aftermath (which gets worse and more terrifying with every report I read) I'm not sure too many people have heard about this story:

It's quite shocking:

Deaths mounted steadily in northeast Baghdad after a massive midday Shiite religious procession erupted into a chaotic stampede Wednesday, causing the drowning and trampling deaths of 965 pilgrims.

Authorities believe a rumor raced through the crowd that a suicide bomber was in their midst, and that created panic among the waves of pedestrians trying to cross the Al-A'imma bridge over the Tigris River.

Every time I checked this story today, the death toll had increased by HUNDREDS.


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Things are really bad in New Orleans...

I'll update this post with more information as it comes in, but sadly, I thought it important to report right away that things are apparently much worse in New Orleans than you may have been led to believe from preliminary reports.

I had wondered why none of the death toll figures seemed to have any numbers from New Orleans, and I assumed at first that it was because Mississippi was so much harder hit. Tragically for New Orleans, the initial hit was just the beginning of problems. Levies apparently continue to fail, and the water level has been going UP consistently since Monday, and still is. Apparently there are no death tolls for New Orleans because officials realize they need to get everyone out and abandon the city, so they're not stopping to count, or even recover bodies. Hundreds more people have been evacuated to the Superdome, which must now, itself, be evacuated, as the water continues to rise, and there is no air conditioning, no electricity and no toilets for the thousands of people now sheltering there.

There is also apparently an AP report out now saying that the Mayor of New Orleans has stated that hundreds - perhaps thousands - of people have been killed there. Death tolls are morbid things, and we all know how untrustworthy they can be in early days, but I'm afraid that, tragically, it appears that Katrina has probably killed many hundreds of people, and many more people are still in serious danger. These latest reports may end up being somewhat exaggerated (let's pray they are) but it now seems clear that the early reports didn't nearly do justice to the size of this disaster.

Update: Quotes from the Mayor of New Orleans from the Globe and Mail:

"We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water," and others dead in attics, Mr. Nagin said. Asked how many, he said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."

Update 2: There's never a bad time to give money to the Red Cross, but it's often only during events like these that we think of it. Things look pretty bad, so please consider giving. Someone effected by this or another disaster could depend on it.

Update 3: Just to give everyone an idea of just how vulnerable New Orleans was to a hurricane like this, it turns out FEMA had 3 major catostrophic disaster scenarios that they used as "worst case for the nation" type secnarios. A major earthquake in California. A major terrorist strike in New York. And a Category 5 hurricane hitting New Orleans. Now admittedly, Katrina landed as a category 4, but as one expert said, that's like the difference between getting run over by a 18-wheeler instead of a freight train. Neither is any good.

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Have you called Washington yet...

OK, I realize this whole CPC "everybody should call and leave a message for Bush" is just a little piece of political theatre, and not meant as a serious proposal for doing something about softwood lumber (at least I PRAY that's the case) but frankly, it's still got me really upset. One, because, hello!!! You're the OFFICIAL OPPOSITION. You work for me every bit as much as Martin and his gang and dammit I expect serious proposals for actually DOING SOMETHING about our problems. And two, even as political rhetoric, this suggestion was so stupid... I can't even... it's just...dammit, there's that headache again!

I am not a Conservative supporter, but the idiocy of this whole telemarketing campaign has really got me going. Are there ANY MPs left from any party who are worthy of governing Canada? This "Call Bush" thing from the CPC is really the last straw for me. I think I officially don't care what a party's policy is anymore. If your policy is that we should round up kittens and sacrifice them to a pagan God I'll vote for you, so long as you show some competence and intelligence, and convince me you have a plan for rounding up the kittens, and a system for efficiently executing them.

I'd be most interested to hear from any Tories out there who are upset about this. I'm absolutely convinced that this telephone strategy was thought up by a summer intern on his or her way back to class, and I'm desperate for someone to get fired over this. There was a time when I enjoyed seeing the CPC do stupid things like this, because I knew that it would help keep them out of power, but for Pete's sake their supposed to be "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition". Let's go people! OPPOSE. I just can't take it anymore. The Martin Liberals have been pretty pathetic, and I actually don't oppose most of the things they've done. It's that they've done SO LITTLE, and done it SO BADLY that really upsets me now... and yet the CPC is apparently SO STUPID that they're making these clowns look good. I've really had it.

I'm quite small-l liberal and I find myself missing Preston Manning. I wouldn't have liked how he would have led this country, or where he would have led us, but at least I had confidence in his intelligence and his ability to LEAD. But these clowns in the CPC today? Hell, at least Stockwell Day was up against a formidible political machine at the height of its power. He didn't stand a chance, so it didn't matter if he did dumb things. What's the excuse now? Forget policy.... forget scandal... forget corruption... the people around Paul Martin clearly don't know what the Hell they're doing (I'd list examples, but you know them all...) and yet they're looking BRILLIANT by comparison. Now, remember corruption and scandal. I know. It's shocking, but the CPC STILL looks bad.

Haven't heard much from Martin lately? That's probably because he's taken the only smart advice anyone has given him. "Keep your head down and don't say anything.... Now watch this, it'll be funny...."

I know it seems strange for me to be praying that the CPC gets it's act together, and some people may think I'm just mocking them, and I don't seriously want them to shape up. And, as I said, there was a time when I laughed heartily at the CPC when stuff like this happened, and breathed a sigh of relief that they would surely lose another election. But now I'm just angry.

Game on. The first politician/political party to show me some intelligence and convince me you're more interested in running the country than making fun of the other guy gets my vote.

Even if it's bad for the kittens.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

A rose by any other name....

Thanks to Paul Wells for this great quote:

"You have to undercut the perception of occupation in Iraq. It's very difficult to do that when you have 150,000-plus, largely western, foreign troops occupying the country."
— Maj. Gen. Douglas Lute, director of operations at US Central Command, interview with Financial Times, published this morning.

Yes, it certainly would be easier to convince Iraqis their country isn't occupied if their country weren't occupied. What an excellent point.


P.S. London was wonderful BTW, if (ironically) much cooler than Canada. I'm afraid I did have to wear a jacket quite often, but for those who were concerned, I assure you it was nothing too bulky.

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Off to London....

Well, I'm off to London (U.K.) and assorted other places for vacation, so I'll be away from the blogosphere 'til the end of the month!

Everybody play nice while I'm gone!



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Thursday, July 28, 2005

No "bulky jacket", and he didn't jump the turnstile...

Hat tips all around to Mike from Rational Reasons (who made me aware of this Guardian story), to The Green Knight, from whom Mike learned about the story and to wonderdog, where I first read the story.

I don't have time I'm afraid to give this story the coverage it deserves (I'm off to London this weekend... no really... I'm very excited).

Anyway, the main points seem to be that (apparently) Mr. de Menezes, who was shot and killed by police in London last week was NOT wearing a "bulky" jacket that might have been thought to be hiding a bomb (he was apparently wearing a jean jacket... not a crazy thing for a day that was apparently 16 degrees celcius) and he did NOT "jump the turnstile" in running from police... he simply used his pass. These are admittedly reports from the family, following a meeting with police officials, but family members claim to have seen the CCTV video of the day in question, so presumably they are giving an accurate description of what they saw.

Sadly, every new item I hear about this story gives me less and less faith that the police acted AT ALL responsibly.

We shall see.

Please read the above blogs for more cogent analysis of the latest news, and some interesting commentary.

London, here I come!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Things about the de Menezes shooting I didn't know yesterday...

First, let me ask that everyone who is calling the police murderers or baby killers, and everyone who figures Mr. de Menezes "got what he deserved" for wearing a heavy coat and not obeying police, to take a deep breath. The number of things we know about this shooting is few, the list of unanswered questions is as long as my arm, and considering how relieved many people were just days ago that police had killed an attempted suicide bomber, should we not have learned not to jump to conclusions quite so quickly?

That being said, here are a few things I learned today that I didn't know yesterday:

1) Mr. de Menezes didn't just walk to the Tube station, he was followed onto a Number 2 bus by police (!) on his way to the station.

2) Apparently, Mr. de Menezes wasn't actually shot "in the torso" as so widely described in the blogosphere. The account that seems to have the most weight today is that he was shot 7 times in the head and once in the shoulder (presumably a missed attempt to hit his head as well). But the number of shots, and their placement has changed many times in media accounts, so it may be some time (post- autopsy) before we're sure. If true, all of these "head shots" at least lend credence to the idea that police genuinely believed that he was a potential bomber, no matter how faulty their reasoning leading up to that conclusion.

3) The story of Mr. de Menezes being an "illegal immigrant" seems to be as much innuendo as anything. The Home Office has refused to comment on his immigration status, but it at least seems clear that, at worst, he was a formerly legal immigrant whose Visa had expired (which would mean he was working illegally, not in the country illegally, but even this seems to be a supposition, based on little, if any evidence).

Now for what we still don't know (a HUGE amount, here are some highlights):

1) We don't know how the (undercover) police identified themselves, and even police statements don't make clear whether police addressed Mr. de Menezes face to face, or the nature of what they said. This is one of the most important things people seem to skip over. Some bloggers have even said that Mr. de Menezes was given "ample opportunity" to surrender (what reports they're reading I don't know) but personally, while I know that he was running from the police, I still have no idea whether he knew that, and I imagine it may be sometime before I do.

2)We don't know whether two reports, one that Mr. de Menezes had been mugged the week before, and another that he had been beaten up in a bar the week before are true. (if so, they would seem to give him reason to run away from armed men who weren't in uniform, and seemed determined to do him harm).

3) We have no idea when police determined he was a potential bomber, or more specifically a suicide bomber (surely his clothes and the building he lived in are not enough to justify deadly force, or shouldn't be) . That they followed him suggests they were at least suspicious the moment he left his apartment building, but when (and more importantly how) did they decide he was a threat? BEFORE he got on the bus? After? When he failed to stop for them? When he ran towards the Tube? When he jumped on the train? As someone in the blogosphere said (I can't remember who I'm afraid) Once you start chasing someone with the intent of stopping them from setting off a bomb, it's already over.

As for the blogosphere's handling of the story, right now I'm none too thrilled with the left wing or the right wing. Half the sphere seems to want the police drawn and quartered (as though police would never be justified in killing a suspected bomber, and these officers MUST have been irresponsible cowboys, not dutiful public servants who made a horrible mistake in a difficult circumstance), and the other half seems to feel almost giddy that the police are finally shooting first and asking questions never ('bout time we started being serious, they say, completely unphased by the innocence of the man shot, and not at all worried about more innocent people getting caught in the crossfire). So everyone. Breath. We don't know nearly enough about what actually happened to be making such bold pronouncements (hey, look at me trying to stop bold pronouncements in the blogosphere!).

Sometimes, police have to use deadly force to protect the public, and sometimes they will make honest mistakes. Sometimes, people run from the police for reasons entirely unrelated to the reason the police are chasing them (and sometimes, people don't hear instructions so well when confronted by men with guns, no matter what they're saying).

Sometimes, if you don't shoot, the consequences will be disastrous. And sometimes, a bulky coat is just a fashion statement.

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

"Asian suicide bomber" turns out to be Brazilian "not connected" to bombings...

This story is now developing quickly, and things change so rapidly in cases like these, that we are probably best to be cautious about what we say.

The man shot dead by London police earlier in the week has now been identified as Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, 27. Now perhaps Mr. de Menezes was of Asian descent, but the fact that eye witnesses identified him a "Asian" does peak my curiosity (and my fear that eye witness testimony might not always be that accurate).

And I wouldn't want to turn this tragedy into a partisan issue, but I do feel the need to point out that I am somewhat dissappointed by some of the commentary out in Blogging Tory land on this, or more accurately the seeming refusal of some of the bloggers there to modify their previous posts. I won't name names, but at least one blogger was quite upset that papers refused to identify the suspect as a suicide bomber (a decision that now appears was quite correct), and called the press release from the Muslim Council of Britain asking why the man had been shot dead a "stupid question". No corrections or retraction there yet (although perhaps said blogger is waiting cautiously for more information before posting again, a thought that might have occured to him earlier...).

And while I whole-heartily support the perogative of bloggers to delete posts without comment or explanation, another conservative blogger quite upset me. This blogger had a post declaring that London police were taking care of "Homeland Security", and the post consisted simply of 5 pictures... the four suspect pictures from the CCTV cameras, and the outline of a man's head with a X through it, with the comment "1 down, 4 to go". I commented in the post that now that the man shot by police had been confirmed as being "not connected" to the bombings, and Scotland Yard had called the event a "tragedy" that said blogger might want to take down the "X" image, and the "1 down 4 to go" comment, and modify the post. Well, rather than print a retraction or correction, the post has simply disappeared, with no comment from the blogger. As I said, your blog is your blog, and I support your right to edit it as you choose, but this did turn my stomach a little.

As for myself, I'm determined to hold off on any calls for police to be "held accountable" for the shooting until I have more information. This must have been a very difficult situation for the police, who are under a great deal of stress and pressure, and while if mistakes have been made, someone will need to be held responsible, it seems clear that we must all wait for more details, before rushing head-long into judgement.

Update: One of our cousins at Blogging Tories does seem to be on the path to the high road. His latest comment to his own "stupid question" post was not as contrite as I might have liked, but at least he didn't just delete his post as though it never existed. I've suggested that he also modify his original post, now that the question "why was this man shot?" doesn't seem quite so "stupid", and I hope that he will avail himself of that opportunity.

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Man shot by London Police "not connected" to bombings...

Well this is pretty shocking.

The important quotes:

A man shot dead by police hunting the bombers behind Thursday's London attacks was unconnected to the incidents, police have confirmed.

The man was killed in Stockwell Tube station in an incident described by Scotland Yard as a "tragedy"...

A Scotland Yard statement read: "We believe we now know the identity of the man shot at Stockwell Underground station by police on Friday 22nd July 2005, although he is still subject to formal identification.

"We are now satisfied that he was not connected with the incidents of Thursday 21st July 2005.
"For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy
and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets."...

John O'Connor, former commander of the Met Police, told the BBC the consequences of the shooting were likely to be "quite horrendous".

He said he expected officers to face criminal charges, and other officers could even refuse to carry weapons.

I suppose there's not much more one can say until we get more details, but it really is quite shocking.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Scotty beams up...

Most will have already heard of the sad passing of Canadian-born actor James Doohan, famous for being Chief Engineer Scott (Scotty) of the Starship Enterprise. As a huge fan of Star Trek, and Scotty in particular, I wanted to add my own words of sorrow and condolences on this sad day.

What many may not know, and would surely find interesting, is that Doohan was in the Canadian army prior to his acting career, and was one of our brave soldiers on Juno beach on D-Day:

At 19, James escaped the turmoil at home by joining the Canadian army, becoming a lieutenant in artillery. He was among the Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. "The sea was rough," he recalled. "We were more afraid of drowning than the Germans."
The Canadians crossed a minefield laid for tanks; the soldiers weren't heavy enough to detonate the bombs. At 11:30 that night, he was machine-gunned, taking six hits: one that took off his middle right finger (he managed to hide the missing finger on screen), four in his leg and one in the chest. The chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case. (from the CNN story linked to above)

What a great Canadian!

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Novak leaked to Rove!?!?!

So the newest twist in the Plame leak story is the claim that Karl Rove testified before the Grand Jury that he heard about Plame's role in the CIA from Robert Novak, and possibly from another reporter, but he couldn't remember who. So Novak leaked to Rove!?!?!

Now I'm HIGHLY DUBIOUS of anything Karl Rove says, and even more dubious about what an anonymous source says Karl Rove said, but let's just take a look at this new twist, assuming for the moment that it is true. This means that Novak really did have one or two "White House sources" and that Rove was not one of them. Let's not all start thinking that this means the administration is innocent in all of this. SOMEONE at the White House leaked Plame's identity (and who knows, it still could have been Rove), and as I've said before, even though she wasn't actually working covertly in the Middle East at the time that she was outed, that doesn't really lessen the damage much. Sure, it means her life wasn't probably DIRECTLY endangered by the leak. But what about people she knew when she was a NOC (a "no official cover agent", which is what she was, she had no diplomatic passport, so if she was caught working for the CIA, a lot of countries might have just executed her...). Even if she wasn't using these people as sources or "assets", now that she has been exposed, everyone she ever knew could come under suspision by the authorities in the countries where she worked, and those authorities may very well now think they are CIA moles (and maybe some of them are!). And what about the CIA front company she worked for? Hasn't everyone else who's ever worked for that company now been exposed?

I can't wait for the full story to come out, so that maybe, just maybe, I'll learn WHY ROBERT NOVAK ISN'T IN JAIL!!!!!

Also, as a side note, I wanted to mention something about Joseph Wilson (many of you may know this, but I didn't until recently). A lot of the conservative media tries to paint Wilson as some sort of anti-war peacenik, someone who never should have been sent to verify a connection between Hussein and nuclear materials in Africa. Well, I always knew that Wilson was Ambassador to Iraq just before the first Gulf War, and that he was the last American official to officially speak with Hussein. What I didn't know was that Hussein basically threatened to execute him. And Wilson's response was CLASSIC:

"As acting ambassador to Iraq in the run-up to the first Gulf War, he was the last US diplomat to meet with Saddam Hussein, in 1991.

He very publicly defied the Iraqi strongman by giving refuge to more than 100 US citizens at the embassy and in the homes of US diplomats - at a time when Saddam Hussein was threatening to execute anyone who harboured foreigners.

He then addressed journalists wearing a hangman's noose instead of a necktie.

He later told the Washington Post newspaper that the message to Saddam Hussein was: 'If you want to execute me, I'll bring my own [expletive] rope.
'" (From the BBC online bio of Wilson.)

Now does that sound like a man that would downplay (let alone attempt to cover up) an attempt by Hussein to procur WMDs? It's a ridiculous suggestion, and I'm shocked anyone would have the temerity to even suggest it. I mean c'mon, George H. W. Bush called Wilson "truly inspiring" and "courageous" for his actions in Iraq.

The longer George W. Bush is President, the more I admire (and pity) his father.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Laura Bush's husband is (apparently) an idiot...

Now, everyone make careful note that I have not, and would never, call President Bush an idiot.

Furthermore, according to the apparent logic in the White House these days I absolutely DID NOT call the President an idiot.

After all, now that Karl Rove's name has surfaced as one of the sources of the leak of CIA undercover officer Valerie Plame's identity, it now seems clear that, by Rove's logic, he did not leak Plame's identity, because he did not know her name. No, all Rove did was tell a reporter that Joseph Wilson's wife was apparently a CIA officer. Well, that's a tough code to break! I guess Rove actually received some sort of counter-espionage training from the CIA itself!!! How did anyone ever take that and figure out who Valerie Plame was??? Clearly Rove is an innocent in all of this! For the complete story up until now, check this CNN link.

Here's a excerpt:

In September and October 2003, (White House Press Secretary Scott)McClellan said he had spoken directly with Rove about the matter and that "he was not involved" in leaking Plame's identity to the news media. McClellan said at the time: "The president knows that Karl Rove wasn't involved," "It was a ridiculous suggestion" and "It's not true."

Rove's own public denials at the time and since have been more narrowly worded: "I didn't know her name and didn't leak her name," Rove said last year...

Robert Luskin, Rove's lawyer, said his client did not disclose Plame's name. Luskin declined to say how Rove found out that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and refused to say how Rove came across the information that it was Wilson's wife who authorized his trip to Africa.

So you see! He didn't know her name, and therefore he didn't (and couldn't) leak her name. How was he to know that someone would figure out who he was refering to when he mentioned "Joseph Wilson's wife"?!?!? Now, I'm a little less clear on how he managed to find out that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and personally authorized his trip to Africa, without actually finding out her name! (and the White House won't comment on that either) I suppose her name could have been "blacked out" on some secret documents he saw, but you'd think descriptive entries like "Ambassador Wilson's wife" would also have been expunged from the records. Maybe Rove really IS innocent, and it's just that the CIA is incompetent. That's comforting!

I suppose the next spin will be that it's OK to identify a CIA undercover officer to the media if you only say that the person is "apparently" a CIA officer, and rather than giving up a name, you simply tell the reporter the name of one of the officer's relatives, and how the officer is related to that person.

It must be tough when your defense is that your act wasn't criminal or treasonous, but merely stupid and incompetent (two words people love to hear when national security is involved!).

Well, I feel safe with these people leading the free world, don't you?


It's also ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS that Scott McClellan is suddenly unwilling to discuss Rove's involvement with this whole mess because "an investigation is ongoing"!!! The investigation was ongoing back in September and October 2003 when McClellan was quite willing to say: "The president knows that Karl Rove wasn't involved... It was a ridiculous suggestion... and ...It's not true." The lesson? It's OK to discuss ongoing investigations when defending political allies, but if it turns out that your defense isn't so iron clad, then for Heaven's sake stop commenting and keep your mouth shut, there's an investigatiopn going on!!!!

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

A BRILLIANT response to today's bombings

For those who haven't seen it yet, drop by the blog of Andrew in London (Non-trivial Solutions) and send him a note of support (he was apparently on the train car behind one of the ones that got hit).

Andrew's response to the London Bombings is classic, and reminds us all of the unwavering strength and resolve of the British people:

"To the terrorist cunts who tried to kill me today: Fuck you. You missed me. Better luck next time."

Cheers Andrew!

As Paul Wells writes today:

"If you were a fanatic murderer who liked to flatter yourself on your knowledge of history and you wanted to terrorize a population, could you possibly choose a worse target than the people of London?"


I'll be going to London myself soon, and Andrew's response to today, and the response of everyone in the UK makes me even more excited to visit that great city.

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Bombings in London.

There's nothing anyone can really say about something as horrible as this.

Nonetheless one does feel obligated to post SOMETHING about it, if for no other purpose than to express condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims.

Other than that, words fail.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Bob Geldof nominated for Nobel Peace Prize...

Now, please don't use this post to attack Geldof, who has done some wonderful charity work (much more than most of us) and deserves great praise for his work on LiveAid and the more recent Live8 (the later of which has apparently raised $100 million dollars for African aid).

Nevertheless, this is rather ridiculous, is it not? (and I have a feeling Bob Geldof would probably agree).

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"Daily Show" DVD!!!

There's a "Daily Show with John Stewart" DVD coming out and I'm quite excited about that. It is all about "Indecision 2004" and though it seem there are few "extras" I'm sure it will be hilarious!!!

Here's a snippet from the Entertainment Weekly Review:

The package claims that the three-disc set includes ''Our National Anthem sung in 4-correspondent harmony.''

As is often the case with this Emmy-winning purveyor of fake news, that statement is even funnier because it's true: That's how "The Daily Show" began eight tapings covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the main attractions on its first-ever DVD.

Read the whole (short) review here!

Happy viewing! (I think I'm actually "giddy"!)


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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Canada's place in the G8...

Everyone should read Jeffrey Simpson's column in today's Globe and Mail on Canada's place (economically) in the G8. Here's an extensive quote:

"Canada has a balanced national budget. No other G8 country (Russia excluded) comes close. The U.S. budget deficit is horrible... The British, Italians, Germans and French all have deficits above 3 per cent of GNP.

Canada has a trade surplus, built exclusively, it should be said, on bilateral trade with the Americans. The Japanese and Germans have trade surpluses, too, but the others don't...

The U.S., in other words, is running a triple D, with deficits on budget, trade and current account; Canada is running a triple S, with surpluses in all three categories.

Canada's unemployment rate stands in the middle of the G8 pack. But its employment rate — the share of the population working — rose faster from 1976 to 2003 (9.1 per cent, to 73.3 per cent from 64.2 per cent) than in other G8 countries. Next best was the U.S., with a 6.9-per-cent increase.

From 1995 to 1999... a growth rate of 3.7 per cent put Canada second, and growth of 3.1 per cent from 2000 to 2004 placed Canada first.

So, Canada is first or second in economic growth, the only country with a balanced national budget, and the only one with budgetary, trade and current account surpluses."

Not too shabby eh?

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Sunday, July 03, 2005

"The World according to Bush..."

I've just been watching the documentary "The World According to Bush" on CBC Newsworld. I recommend it to anyone out there interested in American politics/foreign policy. Pretty scary stuff. It's like Fahrenheit 911 only with less sensaltionalism, and even more facts, and it's truly frightening.

He's an interesting bit from the film:

President Bush (from his "State of the Union"): "Already the Kay report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction related programme activites... (I love that... it's like Clinton's "It depends upon what your definition of 'is' is".)
Had we failed to act, the dictator's (i.e. Saddam Hussein's) weapons of mass destruction programmes would continue to this day..."

David Kay (the guy who wrote the report): "I resigned essentially one day after the State of the Union address. I thought the politicians (guess which one springs to mind!) should have been far more cautious about what they were saying... He should have said, in my view, 'We were wrong.' He didn't."

Later the narrator mentions that Colin Powell said in late January of that year: "If I had known what David Kay told the Senate, my advice to the President would not have been to engage hostilities."

And later still, David Kay makes this entirely sane statement: "The idea of pre-emptive military action every time you have a threat is a genuinely crazy idea. We went to war for the wrong reasons, on the basis of a serious deception and error (to be fair, I think he may be refering to Hussein's deception of the U.S., not Bush's deception of the American people, but it's pretty clear who the "error" was commited by...)".

It's great that Windows XP Media Centre edition lets me pause live T.V.!

I may write more later, if I can figure out how to quote from a film I didn't actually record!

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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Hey, give that back Mr. President...

This whole story is too weird!

What do you do if you take out your Super Bowl ring to show it to some guy, and he puts it in his pocket and walks away???

OK, now, what do you do if "some guy" is a former KGB officer, and the President of the Russia?

(Admittedly, Kraft has three of the things, so I guess it's not impossible that it really was intended as a gift, but still, how odd is that?)


Apparently, Kraft has now publicly said the ring was, indeed, a gift. Kraft apparently admires the Russian people and the leadership of Putin. I understand admiring the Russsian people, but Putin's leadership??? I don't think a message like this from an American businessman will help those who are trying to get Putin to move Russia in a less autocratic, and more democratic direction. This would probably tend to make Putin think he is on the right track which, sadly, I don't think is true.

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Why isn't Robert Novak in danger of going to jail???

Bradley, over at "A Little Bit Left" points out that Time magazine will now be handing over some reporter's notes in the now infamous case of Valerie Plame, the CIA operative who's cover was blown in a column by CNN's Robert Novak.

Please read Bradley's post and the accompanying article from the Washington Post for details on today's decision, and the case in general.

What has always confused me, is "Why is Robert Novak seemingly not at risk of jail time in all of this?". I mean, one of the reporters the government is going after never even published a story about this issue!!! But Novak, who's article it was that "outed" Plame has never, to my knowledge, been before a court over this. The conclusion would seem to be that Novak co-operated with authorities, and that's why he wasn't charged, but then, if he co-operated, then why are they still going after the other reporters (i.e. had Novak named names, then prosecutors would already have the names!)

Novak's own recent comments (such as they are) are also interesting (and cryptic).

From the Post article linked to above:

Novak has refused to comment on whether he cooperated with Fitzgerald (the special prosecutor in the case). Yesterday, in an interview on CNN's "Inside Politics," Novak said he is still barred from talking about the investigation but said he will write about it when it ends. He said he thinks the facts will surprise people.
"I deplore the thought of reporters -- I've been a reporter all my life -- going to jail for any period of time for not revealing sources." he said. "They are not going to jail because of me . . . and those people who say that don't know anything about the case."

Now, I'm not one to take Robert Novak of all people at his word, but as much as I disagree with his politics, he does strike me as a sort-of "old school" reporter, who really would view this as a matter of principle, and not want reporters going to jail for not revealing their sources.

The case is also complex, because while normally it would be absolutely clear to me that a reporter should not be asked to reveal a confidential source, in this case the source speaking to a reporter at all was, in itself a crime (making the reporter a witness to that crime, at the very least). And, of course, we're not talking about shoplifting here. While I hesitate to view this particular case as rising to the level of treason (Plame was "under-cover", but it's not like she was wearing a fake mustache, and working in the Syrian embassy when the story came out..) but nonetheless, publicly revealing the name of one of your country's under-cover agents does sound like a pretty treasonous act, doesn't it? So it is a serious crime of which someone (?) is being accused.

We haven't heard the last of this story, I'm sure, and I look forward to hearing Novak's view of the whole mess... (in the mean time, anyone have some reliable gossip on just how he fits in all of this???)

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I can't believe they beat us!!!

Like many Canadians, I was quite proud that Canada was on its way to becoming the third country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriages... and then poof! we got bumped down to fourth (wow, progress can be fast sometimes... especially after you wait for it for a few decades!!!).

The government of Spain has legalized same-sex marriage, and because of a matter of process, they will be number three, and we'll just have to hope no other countries jump up and push Canada further down than fourth! (...just kidding other countries, please bring full equality to ALL your citizens just as fast as you can.... don't worry about "leap-frogging" us... we'll get over it!)

The following is from AP regarding the Spain vote (this will explain why we've gone from third to fourth):

MADRID, Spain (AP) -- Parliament legalized gay marriage Thursday, defying conservatives and clergy who opposed making traditionally Roman Catholic Spain the third country in the world to officially recognize same-sex unions. Gay rights activists cheered lawmakers and blew them kisses...

The bill is now law. The Senate, where conservatives hold the largest number of seats, rejected the bill last week, but the Senate is an advisory body and final say on legislation rested with the Congress of Deputies.

Gay couples will be allowed to marry as soon as the law is published in the official government registry, the Boletin Oficial del Estado. This could come as early as Friday or within two weeks at the latest, the parliament's press office said.

Now, I suppose that that "two weeks" comment at the end means that if Canada's Senate gets a move on, we can still make top three. I wonder if anyone in the Senate will push for that, if Spain doesn't get this done tomorrow. It would be funny, after all this time, to watch the Senate actually RACE to get the legislation through, in order to beat Spain!

Well, either way, I guess Top 5 is pretty good!

I can't wait for John Stewart to get moved in to his new studio, so I can hear him talk about this. I was pretty sure he'd bring it up when it was just us (I'm sure Samantha keeps him in the loop on things Canadian that are worthy of attention), but now that Spain has joined the stampede, I imagine he'll have some funny things to say about how "freedom and democracy are on the march..." in a lot of countries the U.S. hasn't even invaded!


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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The First Post

Well, here's the first post. I'm pretty familiar with blogging, but new to blogger, so let's see how this goes...

Care to comment?

Lord Kitchener's Own

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