November 2007 Archives

November 30, 2007

Friday night blues blogging

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Say hello to Harpdog Brown and the Bloodhounds. If you like blues harp, you might want to check these guys out.
Home is Where the Harp is.

And a tune written by Ike Turner: Rocket 88.

If you go to YouTube to search for more, just search for "Harpdog."

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Someone noticed

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Updated below

It's been interesting to watch all those fans of deeper integration with our neighbour to the south maintain a careful silence on the fact that the U.S. has been in a constitutional crisis for some years now and, more particularly, that its democracy and support for civil liberties are eroding at an alarming rate. Our corporate masters tend to ignore that and certainly Canada's Shabby Government™ does. But apparently someone in our federal court system is paying attention.

Federal court strikes down refugee agreement

The United States is not a safe country for refugees, the Federal Court said Thursday as it ruled that Canada will no longer have the right to turn back asylum seekers at the border.

In the surprise judgment, the court found that Safe Third Country Agreement breaches the rights of asylum seekers under the United Nation Refugee Convention or the Convention Against Torture.
...
Citing the example of Maher Arar, Justice Michael Phelan also noted that the U.S. has not been compliant with the Refugee Convention or CAT (Convention Against Torture).

"... The United States' policies and practices do not meet the conditions set down for authorizing Canada to enter into a STCA," Phelan wrote in his 126-page decision.

"The U.S. does not meet the Refugee Convention requirements nor the [UN] Convention Against Torture prohibition (the Maher Arar case being one example). Further, the STCA does not comply with the relevant provisions of the Charter."


I'm kinda thinkin' there might be shouts of "anti-American!" and "activist judges!" from the other side of the aisle. My response would be: secret prisons, waterboarding and the denial of habeas corpus to non-citizens. Among other things.

A little later that same evening:
Thanks to Dave for pointing out that this story has also been picked up by an American news source. The fat's in the fire now. I wonder how long it'll be before Steve of the Steely Resolve* gets a phone call from his boss Commander Codpiece.

* I see from our referrals that we have some American visitors this evening (welcome!) courtesy of Chet Scoville's post at Shakesville. So I thought I should footnote that and explain that it's a less than respectful reference to our less than illustrious Prime Minister Stephen Harper. I'm fairly sure I don't have to explain the Commander Codpiece reference.

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November 29, 2007

Hold the phone. Maybe.

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Further to yesterday's fuss (or just scroll down a couple of posts) about NDP support for Bill C-6, the show-your-face-to-vote bill: Dr. Dawg has heard back from NDP MP Paul Dewar and posted the reply. The short version is that the NDP has not taken a final position on the legislation and intends to propose amendments in committee.

So. It's entirely possible that Jack Layton is entitled to an apology from me for calling him an idiot but that raises different questions. There was no ambiguity at all in the Globe and Mail's headline: NDP supports show-your-face bill. And the story supported the headline. And there is, as of this writing, no correction attached to that story.

So what gives? Did Yvon Godin miscommunicate? Did someone else? Did the Globe reporter screw up?

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WTF?

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RCMP to probe Dziekanski's history in Poland: CTV

The RCMP is seeking approval to travel to Poland in order to gather information about Robert Dziekanski, the Polish man who died after being Tasered at Vancouver airport last month, CTV News has learned.

The RCMP told CTV News it would seek to investigate, among other things, Dziekanski's medical history as well as his criminal history in Poland.


Dziekanski isn't the one who needs to be investigated here and this looks like nothing but a giant distraction. Or an attempt to find reasons to smear the victim after his death.

Can you see police officers in future pointing their tasers at people and then stopping and waiting for a medical and criminal history before firing? No? Then they're investigating in the wrong place.

It just boggles the mind. Thanks to fern hill at Bread and Roses for the heads up.

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November 28, 2007

Venezuela's upcoming referendum

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Well, there's plenty of sound and fury going on in Canadian politics right now. But in the larger view, none of what's happening here right now is likely to make that much difference in the longer term. The Cons are busily doing what they always do—demonstrate corruption, dishonesty, and their utter contempt for the concerns of real people or of the day after next quarter. Specifically, they're licking US boot, pushing a police state agenda and doing their best to kill the environment for their corporate masters. At least one of them has apparently been taking major bribes. So what else is new? Before they got in and after they're gone we are likely to have Liberals, who will, with slightly greater subtlety, lick US boot, push a police state agenda, and do their best to kill the environment for their corporate masters. Some of them will probably take bribes. In short, as a country, we're behaving like a typical second string corporatist power—we represent the status quo in the same way a number of other countries do. There's nothing interesting about our politics, nothing worldchanging, and nothing that will matter much when the US is no longer the world's great power. We've chosen not to matter.

The Venezuelans have chosen to matter.


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Dear Jack Layton

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You're an idiot.

In disgust,
pogge

(Hat-tip to Greg.)

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November 23, 2007

Friday night blues blogging

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This first piece isn't a song, it's an "amalgam." Tom Rush will explain in his introduction to Panama Limited.

And for a bonus track, Tommy Emmanuel will demonstrate what happens when boogie meets solo acoustic guitar. (People who know YouTube well may have seen this one or a similar clip. Since it's come to be known as "the YouTube song" I have to assume at least a few people are familiar with it.)


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Vancouver: stand to!

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A crew of Polish television journalists will be filming the protest in honour of Robert Dziekanski in Vancouver on Saturday:

"[We've come] to show what happened. To tell the story, but at the very same time, to portray the reaction of Canadians themselves," said Marcin Wojcik with TVN, a national broadcaster in Poland.

In Poland, there is no ill will towards Canada but rather questions about the country's policing system, said Wojcik.

"Nobody is connecting the story with Canada itself," he said.

The TVN crew members plan to stay in Canada for the next 10 days and say they've been promised co-operation from many of the agencies involved in the incident.

On Saturday, the crew will be filming a rally for Dziekanski on the grounds of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

So far, we know only of protest gatherings in Victoria, Vancouver, and Toronto. If you know of other demonstrations in sympathy with the Dziekanski family and in distress at how severely challenged both our police forces and our political elites seem to be by basic democratic principle, please post in comments, and we will update here.

But especially if you're in Vancouver: please show up. The Poles know something about people who show up.

In memory of Robert Dziekanski.

H/t Kitteh at Bread and Roses

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I'll be along later with my usual Friday night contribution but here's a little something to tide you over. Since Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay are intent on doing their best imitations of GOP chicken hawks for whom "supporting the troops" actually means alternating between using them to score partisan political points and hiding behind them when the questions get too pointed, I thought I'd revive a little number that was popular south of the border not too long ago. The Asylum Street Spankers perform Stick Magnetic Ribbons On Your SUV:



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November 22, 2007

You asked for it, Petey

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If members of Canada's New Shabby Government™ are going to continue to accuse their critics of failing to support the troops at the drop of a hat, they leave themselves wide open to ridicule at times like this.

The federal government is about to stop its practice of giving extra money to Canadian soldiers posted to some of the country's most expensive cities.

Since June 2000, almost half of Canada's soldiers have been receiving a bump in their monthly salary - dubbed the post living differential - for living and working in cities with a high cost of living.

However, Global National reported Thursday night that the Tory government will put a halt to the payments for soldiers in places like Toronto and Ottawa.

More than 28,000 Canadian soldiers living in major urban centres currently qualify for the cost-of-living allowance.


So what say you, Minister of Defence Peter MacKay? Do you support the troops? Or do you just use them for political purposes?

It seems to me that during Gordon O'Connor's tenure at the helm of DND, every time a story like this surfaced things changed rather quickly. It'll be interesting to see what happens with this one.

Hat-tip to ReWind.It at Bread and Roses.

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Another day, another death

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A Nova Scotia man has become the latest Taser-related death in Canada.

Nova Scotia's Justice Minister has ordered a ministerial review of tasers after the death of a man in custody early Thursday.

Justice Minister Cecil Clarke ordered the review after a 45-year-old man died at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility. Halifax Regional Police officers had used a taser on the man during an arrest the day before.

Those hoping for accurate facts surrounding Mr. Clarke's death should not get their hopes up too high.

To ensure the public confidence, we've asked the RCMP to handle the entire investigation,” [Constable Jeff Carr] said, declining to give more details about the arrest until after Thursday's news conference.

To ensure public confidence, they are going to have the RCMP handle the Taser investigation. That would be this RCMP, I guess. I've got news for Constable Carr: turning the investigation over to the RCMP will not inspire public confidence. Quite the opposite, I suspect.

Update: Lest we think we are unique in our Taser-related nightmares, Digby shares a horror story with us from south of the border.

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Dear Peter MacKay

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You are not the state (h/t to Sean S.). In the same way that questioning the government's handling of the issue of Afghan detainees can be done without ever actually accusing a Canadian soldier of torture and abuse, the same questions in no way qualify as being un-Canadian or unpatriotic.

To put it another way, when I call you a lying, mealy-mouthed, cowardly clown who's hiding behind the troops to avoid living up to your responsibilities just like the lying, mealy-mouthed, cowardly clowns who have been governing south of the border for the last seven years, it in no way indicates a lack of loyalty to my country. In fact I'd argue it indicates quite the opposite.

Just wanted to clear that up.

Cheers,
pogge

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November 21, 2007

Flaherty tells mayors to "stop complaining" about infrastructure woes

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says many of Canada's cities have no one to blame but themselves for their aging infrastructure.

"One of the realities is in the areas of high growth, like the (Greater Toronto Area), some of the municipalities did not keep up with their infrastructure needs and did not establish adequate reserve funds and that's their jobs as a government," Flaherty told reporters after a Conservative caucus meeting on Wednesday.


Now let us recall that Flaherty was a prominent member of the Harris Conservative governments in Ontario. Remember them? They're the ones who jammed through giant omnibus bills designed to download costs to the municipalities so Harris and his crew could justify cutting provincial taxes. They're the ones who bragged about their ability as fiscal managers and left us with a multi-billion dollar deficit. I'm a home owner here in Ontario and I'd like to have a wee chat with Mr. Flaherty about what's happened to my property taxes in the last ten years.

I'm trying to think if there's anyone left in the Harper Conservatives who hasn't earned my undying contempt. I'm having trouble. And I'm trying to think of an appropriate name to call Flaherty that won't be gratuitously obscene (because I'm thinking about cleaning up my act). I'm having trouble with that, too.

Hat-tip to the Jurist.

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November 19, 2007

On blood-drenched metaphors

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I admit that I was a little unsettled when our neighbours to the south started coming up with heavily melodramatic labels for their most powerful new agencies and legislation after 9/11 -- Heimat Homeland Security, eg, or the Patriot Act. And then they have all those upside-down titles for their laws, like the Clean Air Act (a licence for making the air dirty) and the No Child Left Behind legislation (you can fill this in for yourselves).

But they're an emotional people. We all know that. We try to cut them some slack, especially at their Thanksgiving, because we know that they just talk that way, and besides, if we really hurt their feelings, they could pound us back to the Stone Age.

It's so strange, though, isn't it, to see Canada's no-longer-so-new government outdo the Americans on the loaded-metaphor front? So Bush and Cheney are playing Orwell games, maybe even Hitl ... ok, I won't finish that sentence.

But it takes Stockwell Day to don the mantle of Robespierre and the last days of the Terror in 1793-94 as Canada's minister of bleeding Public Safety.

Or maybe that just took someone in the PMO with a tin ear who was trying to suck up to the Cheney/Bush regime by proving that Canadians too can perform Orwellian rhodomontades, and who was obviously too ignorant to know that he had just summoned up one of the worst memories of state terrorism in Western history.

Doris Day is still taking only baby steps in the path of his predecessor, but he does seem to be on his way:

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day says he wishes Canadians were as outraged over impaired driving deaths as they are over the death of a Polish immigrant shot with a Taser by police.

...

The minister told a crowd in the B.C. Interior on Saturday [ie, the day of the funeral-mb] that Dziekanski’s death was “tragic.”

“Quite rightly, the whole nation is aghast…. One person was killed who didn’t have to be killed,” said Day, MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla.

But he says drunk-driving accidents also claim the lives of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and other loved ones, “and where’s the shock and horror?”

People! How dare you care [about something I might be presumed to have some responsibility for] when, gee, there are all these bright shiny objects you could be worrying about instead?

Canadians are feeling sick and ashamed, about Robert Dziekanski, about the ankle-deep blood and shit in the prisons in Afghanistan, and many of us are starting to feel scared. So who feels confident that Stockwell Day can rise to that occasion? Who feels confident that any of our politicians can?

A sad reflection: Robespierre was actually a man of considerable intellect, and his story is a tragedy. I doubt that anyone will ever say that of Stockwell Day.

But it is a coward who denies that we all now have blood on our hands. All of us. And we have to stop this. "Public Safety," my eye. They aren't saving ordinary citizens. Ordinary citizens have in fact become the targets.

H/t to Chet at The Vanity Press and mattt with three tees at bastard.logic.

Damn. I'm still mad.

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November 18, 2007

Instead of crying, let's march

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Rallies in support of Robert Dziekanski and family have been organized (for next Saturday, November 24th, 2007) in Vancouver, Victoria, and Toronto. Here's an overview:

VANCOUVER:

Protest against RCMP using excessive force on Robert!
Host: Facebook Group - "Petition against RCMP officers involved in YVR Tazer Death"

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Time: 12:00pm - 3:00pm
Location: Downtown Vancouver, Art Gallery (Georgia Street side)
City/Town: Vancouver, BC

Description:
A protest against the brutality shown in the video, which resulted in the death of new immigrant Robert Dziekanski, 40. Please express your interest by showing up next Saturday November 24th, downtown at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Georgia Street side. Rally will commence 12pm. Please try to wear the red/white colors of the deceased's Polish heritage, in his memory. Remember, this is about awareness of the tragedy and a protest against the excessive use of tasers, _NOT_ an anti-police rally. THIS WILL BE A PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION!

More info on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=8636840125


VICTORIA:

Solidarity and Justice for Robert Dziekanski.
Express your outrage and show supprt for his family through a peaceful demonstration

Host: Facebook Group - "Petition against RCMP officers involved in YVR Tazer Death"

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Time: 12:00pm - 3:00pm
Location: Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
City/Town: Victoria, BC

Description: PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION - come along and express your outrage and your disgust at the recent events resulting in the unlawful killing of Robert Dziekanski. Show Solidarity for the Dziekanski family and demand Justice so that this kind of thing NEVER happens again

More info on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=6187158110


TORONTO:

Defend Robert Dziekanski Toronto Queen's Park Protest Nov 24
Protesting Unreasonable Force/Showing Solidarity with Vancouver BC Protest Nov 24

Host: Facebook Group - "Protesting the use of Excessive force on Robert Dziekanski"

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Time: 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Location: Queen's Park
Street: University Avenue
City/Town: Toronto, ON

Description: This Protest is designed to continue raising media awareness about the mistreatment of Robert Dziekanski and protest the unreasonable use of force. We want the government to know that Canadians, regardless of their location in Canada, are disgusted and heartbroken by the handling of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport. This situation involves issues of race, nationalism, violence, and most significantly ethical human behaviour of kindness, patience, and compassion.

More info on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6407280731

Please show your support!


All events in memory of Robert Dziekanski

Via Getting It Right and bastard.logic.

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November 16, 2007

Friday night blues blogging

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Francine Reed fronting Lyle Lovett and his Large Band. Wild women don't get the blues. (Lyle himself is on a break but he'll be along, I'm sure.)

Bonus track: Reed and Lovett. What do you do.


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Today's must read

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I think every second Canadian blog I've looked at this morning has linked to this Globe and Mail report on what our government officials really knew while they were assuring us that Afghans detained by Canadian soldiers were being treated as they should be. If you haven't followed the link up until now, you really should. You need to know how brazenly Harper and his crew have been lying to us. My favourite line:

The government no longer seems to use the word "torture" in connection with prisoners in Afghanistan.

Imagine that.

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November 15, 2007

The Tasering

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I expect everyone in the Canadian blogging universe is ranting about this right about now. Good for them, I’m not ashamed to join in. So these cops walk up to this guy, taser him, sit on him, don’t bother to check for a pulse (it looked to me in the video as if it was a bystander who finally did that) and don’t bother to apply CPR or, indeed, appear to take any measures whatsoever in the interest of trying to keep someone alive that they just stopped the heart of. The broader situation is heartbreaking. I cried when I saw that sweet lady talking about how she wanted to show her son how beautiful Canada is. If it was me, my air time would be taken up by howls for police blood.

There are lots of issues here. Clearly, the specific RCMP officers involved here are vicious, brutish hooligans who should be charged with committing a serious crime. And the corporate culture of the Vancouver International Airport is obviously in dire need of an enema. But personally, I’m hoping that if something good can come out of this tragedy, it would be a broad recognition, and determination to do something about, the culture of impunity in both the RCMP and local police forces such as the Vancouver and Toronto police. These people have a culture of impunity because they have a reality of impunity. They can do anything they want, and if anyone complains, they investigate themselves and conclude that the complaint was without merit. To ensure that their conclusions stick, they lie vigorously. We have reached the point where in any given case, we know exactly what the police statement will be before they make it—they will smear the victim, claiming his/her behaviour was deranged and violent and that he was apparently on drugs, and they will claim that the police made every effort to defuse the situation but were forced to defend themselves—no matter what the actual events might have been, whether the victim was a raving, heavily armed crackhead or a disabled grandmother. In short, all official statements by police to the media can be ignored as having no informational content whatsoever.

This must not continue. We need a serious external review capability, and serious penalties for police officers caught lying, much less brutalizing people for no reason. And we need some serious reorganization to make the force less paramilitary in its structure. And we need to push towards more community-style policing, because the ultimate problem is that the police have for some time seen the situation as Us vs. Them, with the result that Them (that is, the ordinary citizens they’re supposed to protect) becomes dehumanized to them. They’ve been operating that way for long enough that a lot of people have started agreeing with them, from the other side as it were. I’m sure getting there. Problem is, the more it’s two tribes against each other, the more police violence there will be, and the more worthless they will become at actual, you know, policing that serves the public.

As for the rest of us, I think we all need to avoid calling the police for any disturbance that isn’t seriously threatening. Essentially, what we are looking at here is a large, extremely well-financed gang. Some of the gang members may be OK people, but that doesn’t mean you want to call the Hell’s Angels in to deal with a noise problem. If they brutalize or kill someone, or just vandalize property, or steal it as “evidence”, do you want that on your conscience? If you do feel you need to call the police, try to make sure you have some way to record their behaviour when they arrive, and avoid letting them get their hands on it until you’ve made a copy.

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November 11, 2007

In Remembrance

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November 9, 2007

Friday night blues blogging

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So who else can remember black and white TV? This is from the late sixties. Three tunes by B. B. King and his band.


And a black and white bonus: T-Bone Walker performing She's My Old Time Used To Be.


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Heh. Karl Rove made an ass of himself yesterday in Washington, pretending to talk intelligently about the blogosphere.

He apparently maundered on, in predictable fashion, about teh anonymity, which in itself, as DBJ observes in his Kos diary, is very funny:

Karl Rove is angry that the internet is a place where people can post anonymously. He feels it hurts our democracy to have people say things but not put their names to them. The anonymity gives people a way to say things but not take responsibility for them.

Yes. Mr. Out-the-CIA-Agent-To-Douchebag-Of-Liberty-Novakula is upset because the internet allows for anonymity.

I was rather more taken by these lines, presumably quoted correctly by the not-always-trustworthy-but-definitely-Rove-friendly Washington Times:

"The Web has given angry and vitriolic people more of a voice in public discourse," said Mr. Rove, who served as one of President Bush's top strategists until he resigned this past summer, and is a noted technology nut.

"People in the past who have been on the nutty fringe of political life, who were more or less voiceless, have now been given an inexpensive and easily accessible soapbox, a blog," Mr. Rove said during a speech about politics and the Web at the Willard InterContinental, a hotel just blocks from his former place of employment.

"I'm a fan of many blogs. I visit them frequently and I learn a lot from them," Mr. Rove said. "But there also blogs written by angry kooks."

Mr. Rove cited the results of a study that found that writers and commenters on liberal blogs such as DailyKos.com cursed far more than writers and commenters on conservative Web sites such as FreeRepublic.com.

I know, I know -- it hurts to laugh that hard, but bear with me.

Look back at the attitude that a sleek, overfed denizen of the Beltway expresses there towards people who were formerly "voiceless" and their "inexpensive and easily accessible soapboxes." To any serious democrat (and I mean the lower-case d), those should be terms of approbation, not insults. Like, the citizens are piping up, eh? And Karl's response is to cry "The horror! The horror!"

I guess it's not news that we know where to locate Karl Rove on the democracy thermometer (sub-Absolute Cheney). It bothers, though, that so many North Americans are going to be swayed by cheap appeals to the proprieties (you're a good person only if you're well tailored and know which fork to use) as substitutes for republican virtue.

I often have this fantasy, that I could one day have Diderot sitting beside me at the machines and could show him what we are now doing on the net. (I also always take Diderot with me when I go to vote.) Diderot would be turning somersaults and doing handsprings, just over the moon at how things worked out with the democracy/universal education caper ... And then of course I'd have to fill him in on the downside ... (I do that after we vote, too.)

Karl Rove -- and his emulators in Canada, of which I fear there are already too many in influential places -- is a measure of just how seriously C21 North Americans have failed what should have been ours, the inheritance of the Enlightenment. Sleazy brutes are running the show. We can't let them win. Sleazy brutes make Voltaire, Montesquieu, Diderot, and Rousseau cry. We have to fight back.

h/t to emptywheel at The Next Hurrah

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November 8, 2007

Now What?

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While what we might broadly call the Left is by no means united, there are quite a few things those of us suspicious of free markets can agree on. We tend to criticize a lot of the same stuff, for instance. Those of us who have been watching the US economy tend to think there are a lot of underlying, long-building problems which make the current troubles far more than just a housing bubble.

OK, so taking some of those standard positions and criticisms for granted, what should Canada do? The NDP isn't going to form a majority government in Canada any time soon, much less anyone I would look at as really progressive. But a man can dream. And it's at least as productive to think a bit about what kind of programs *should* be undertaken even if one isn't likely to have the chance, as it is to grumble about the programs that shouldn't be undertaken but we aren't likely to be able to stop. So let me imagine for a moment that we have a majority government that does not listen to the Pseudo-Canadian Council of Branch-plant Executives, and which is actually interested in the welfare of the Canadian people rather than the welfare of a small group of multimillionaires whose citizenship is whatever gets them a tax break. The prime minister of that government asks me what to do. What do I suggest? I'm talking relatively current actions in Canada as we know it, not getting into the kinds of economic transformation I'd love to see in the longer run.


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November 5, 2007

Dear Jack Layton

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When I consider the possibility of a Stephen Harper with a majority in the House of Commons, I'm not so sure I want to eliminate a second chamber charged with the responsibility for sober, second thought. It would only have to wake up and dig in its heels occasionally to earn its keep.

Besides, Senate reform right now is Harper's baby. Doesn't this amount to letting him set the agenda? While we're all talking about this and dealing with a referendum that may not, in the end, prove anything, we're not talking about Kyoto, Kandahar, peak oil, what to do when the American economy really tanks...

Cheers,
pogge

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November 4, 2007

Partners in crime

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While Stephen Harper has demonstrated an ability to be a successful politician given the time to assemble a team of advisors and then study the resulting playbook, I've always maintained that he's politically tone deaf when he's reacting spontaneously to events. I think this is a great example.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has dismissed calls by opposition parties for a public inquiry into reports about cash payments made to former prime minister Brian Mulroney, saying allowing the government to launch probes against former political adversaries was "extremely dangerous."

"Do they really want to say that I, as prime minister, should have a free hand to launch inquiries against my predecessors?" Harper asked reporters Friday in Halifax following a speech to the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.
...
Harper also issued a thinly-veiled warning to the Liberals, saying he could use the opportunity to investigate former prime minister Jean Chrétien's involvement in the controversial sale of a golf course in his Quebec riding — even though the justice system has already dealt with the matter.

In 2000, former ethics counsellor Howard Wilson ruled Chrétien did not violate existing conflict-of-interest rules.

Or, Harper said, he could also launch an inquiry to look into Paul Martin's involvement with Canada Steamship Lines, a company Martin held in trust and later handed to his sons while he was prime minister.

"This is not a route that I want to go down," Harper said. "And I don't think that if the Liberal party thought twice about it, it is a power they would want to give me."


As Paul Wells points out, and Kady O'Malley reiterates, Harper not only already has that "power", he's already tried to used it.

But whether or not Harper succeeds in scaring the Liberals into silence on this, which is obviously his intent, he really ought to consider the message he's sending to the rest of us. It's as though he's acknowledging that they're all crooks but Conservatives will keep Liberals' secrets as long the favour is returned. Which leaves us average citizens on the outside looking in and wondering how badly we've been conned by the whole bunch of them.

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A brief stroll down memory lane

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I've noticed a few prominent American bloggers in recent days discussing the terrible blog posts of yester year with one particular post getting a lot of attention: Kim du Toit's The Pussification Of The Western Male from 2003.

So far I seem to be the only one who recalls a rebuttal written at the time called The duToitification of the Western Conservative. Go read. You might spend the first paragraph or so wondering if it's going anywhere. Then you'll smile. Then you'll laugh.

You're welcome.

Update:

OK, so I'm not the only one who remembers it.

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November 2, 2007

Friday night blues blogging

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Be warned: I felt like getting mellow this evening. Doc Watson. Deep River Blues.

Doc with Richard Watson. Milk Cow Blues.

(Sorry 'bout that abrupt end but I bet you heard it in your mind's ear.)

And Doc with Leo Kottke doing a little instrumental country blues. (It was inevitable that I would one day work Leo Kottke into this. Now to get John Hartford into the act.)


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No, this isn't about Stephen Harper. This is blog business.

Regular readers will recall that some months ago I got clobbered in a fairly serious auto accident. I'm only now getting back to semi-regular blogging. I might not have done it this quickly but Harper annoys me (so I guess it is about him in a way).

We probably have a stricter commenting policy than many blogs. It's not all that difficult to get yourself barred from our comment box. If anyone wonders whether surviving that accident and getting back to a pretty good state of health — there's some work to do on my left shoulder but it's coming along — has left me filled with the milk of human kindness and the patience of a saint, not hardly. If anything, I find I have less patience with certain things than ever. Life is too short to waste it having the same discussions about first principles over and over again. And it's too short to bother rebutting what passes for debate in some circles or even allowing it to be published here.

To pull an example out of the current news, do you want to have a debate about whether a method of interrogation that was invented and became popular during the Spanish Inquisition is really torture? Do it somewhere else. It's torture and the only issue worth debating is the best way to stop it from happening. And to take an example from this blog in just the last couple of hours: if you want to claim that when Jack Layton is quoted as saying that potential violations of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan is a very serious issue it means that he's defending the Taliban, you won't get an argument from me. You'll just get banned at light speed or something pretty close to it. My shoulder's well enough for that. Differences of opinion are one thing. Bullshit is quite another. If that means I'm not popular with the folks on the far right side of the aisle, I can live with it.

(You'll notice I didn't use the word "conservative." Hell, a couple of our authors regard themselves as conservatives and I know what they mean when they do. Unfortunately, what passes for conservative in some other places has really become extreme and my attitude is that I don't troll their threads so I don't see why I should tolerate them trolling mine.)

I haven't had a formal conversation with the rest of the authors on this issue recently so this really applies to the threads attached to my own posts. But I thought I'd pass this along while it was fresh in my mind. And as always, some forms of trolling and spamming are so obvious that I'll continue to deal with it no matter whose thread it shows up in. That's not a change.

I'll be back later with some blues.

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There is a lot being written about the Harper government's new policy regarding Canadians who are subject to the death penalty in foreign countries. And predictably, the opposition is making a lot of noise about it in the House of Commons. There was one angle raised by the Liberals that particularly caught my eye:

In Day's words, Canada will refrain from opposing executions of Canadian citizens only in stable "democratic countries that support the rule of law."

That means that every time a Canadian faces the death penalty abroad, the Canadian government will now need to pass public judgment on whether that country is a stable democracy, which opens the door to bitter diplomatic disputes.


Good point. In fact the country in question in this particular case has a recent history of running secret prisons, torturing detainees and denying habeas corpus to non-citizens. The politicization of its Department of Justice has been making headlines for weeks and one of the potential Democratic candidates for president has gotten a lot of attention for his claims that the current administration has trashed the constitution and is operating outside the law. Meanwhile, legislators, including some Democratic legislators, are seriously considering granting retroactive immunity to large corporations from prosecution for violating the law.

Apparently Stockwell Day is OK with that. Good to know. So here's my question: how bad would it actually have to get before Canada resumed its previous opposition to the death penalty when the country in question is the United States?

A tip of the hat to Chet Scoville whose closing paragraph bears repeating (emphasis in the original):

Can we please pull the plug on this government now? The most basic function of any government is securing its citizens' rights, at home and abroad. Citizenship is supposed to mean something. When a government abdicates that responsibility, it has no business being in power any longer.


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November 1, 2007

Who wouldda thunk it, eh?

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So it turns out those of us who thought Rick Hillier was a little too quick to shoot his mouth off in front of the cameras aren't raving moonbats who don't support the troops after all. We were just ahead of our time.

Hat-tip to Impolitical.

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The Canadian Dollar Makes Its All Time Record

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Oh my:

The seemingly unstoppable Canadian dollar surged to its highest level yet Wednesday, topping 106.17 cents (U.S.).

The record came just after 4 p.m., when official trading ended for the day. Officially, the dollar closed at 105.85 cents, up nearly a cent from Tuesday's close, but trading continues virtually around the clock.

By cracking through 106 cents, the dollar topped what most observers believe to be the old record of 106.14 cents set on Aug. 20, 1957.

Looks like I'm going to have to rewrite my own contracts with US businesses so I don't lose even more money to this. Funny how your own advice (I was writing about the dollar's inexorable rise years ago) is the hardest to take.

Canada's a petro-economy now. That's a mixed blessing, but it is making consumer goods cheaper and it is fueling a massive boom in Alberta. It's also gutting Canada's manufacturing sector, and is especially hitting southern Ontario hard, since it's caught between Detroit's collapse (which is now so extreme that even cheaper costs due to universal healthcare can't make up the difference) and the dollar's rise.


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