August 2008 Archives

August 31, 2008

Sunday morning

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It must be time for a Hoedown (after a brief introduction).

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August 30, 2008


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The CBC:

The Green party has gained its first ever member of Parliament — Blair Wilson — a Vancouver-area Independent who quit the Liberal party last year.

Wow. All arguments about whether May should be participating in debates aside, Wilson most certainly did not quit the Liberal party. It quit him and, as I pointed out below, until recently he was trying very hard to overturn that decision with no success.

That's a pretty obvious error to make.


I'd swear this wasn't there when I first read the story but here's the third and fourth paragraphs I see now:

The MP for the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding was turfed from the Liberal caucus last year after allegations of spending irregularities in his 2006 campaign.

Wilson reminded reporters that he was cleared of any wrongdoing after an eight-month investigation by Elections Canada.

Am I losing it, going too quickly or are they writing their stories on the fly?

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Anyone for musical chairs?

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There is now a distinct possibility that Elizabeth May will be part of the next federal leaders' debate since the Green Party now has an MP.

The Green Party has wooed Independent MP Blair Wilson to its ranks, giving the party its first politician in the House of Commons and as a result, a spot in the televised election debates.
“Democracy is threatened when legitimate national leaders are barred from what is arguably the single most important political event in an election – the televised debates,” Wilson said in the release issued by the Green Party.

“It is shocking that the Green Party was excluded from the debates in the past, but by joining the Green Party, I can help guarantee that this travesty will not be repeated in the next election,” he said.

Yes, Wilson is shocked at this travesty. Though as recently as two weeks ago he was still trying very hard to be reinstated as a Liberal and wanted the Liberal nomination in West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country so I'm left to wonder how he went from ignoring the problem to considering it a travesty in two weeks.

I suspect some of the Green Party supporters out there will be annoyed with me but I seem to specialize in annoying supporters of all the parties lately. Sue me. This sudden elevation of the Green Party and of Elizabeth May's status isn't the result of a choice by voters. It's the result of one guy who was, rightly or wrongly, kicked out of the party he originally chose and couldn't get back in. On a rational basis I don't believe that qualifies Elizabeth May to participate in a debate where she'll be the only leader arguing that some other party's leader ought to be Prime Minister.

But this is Canadian politics so I guess reason has nothing to do with it. Maybe we could do away with elections altogether and every three or four years all the MPs can just change seats.

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August 29, 2008

Friday night SRV blogging

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This is Stevie Ray Vaughan on Night Music performing Crossfire.

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August 28, 2008

In this morning's Toronto Star:

The Canadian government sponsored a swish lunch reception at its consul-general's Denver residence.

The food included bite-sized bits of beef, shrimp, tortellini and potatoes gratin. Health Minister Tony Clement, whose absence from Canada during the tainted meat crisis has not gone unnoticed, was there and introduced himself:

"I'm Health Minister Tony Clement, and I have to say I approved this food."

According to the CBC this morning there are 15 deaths associated with the recalled Maple Leaf products and 10 more under investigation.*

So is anyone else reminded of Dubya looking under the furniture for the weapons of mass destruction? Of course we've long suspected that the Conservatives and the GOP use the same writers.

H/t to Impolitical who did a perfectly fine job of blogging this. But I'm such a fan of Clement I felt compelled to record this for posterity.

*Self-correcting blogosphere-type update:
That sentence is worded so badly it's just wrong. There are fifteen deaths associated with the listeria outbreak of which 5 are confirmed to have been caused by the tainted meat and ten more are under investigation and suspected of being caused by it. Apologies for making it sound like there are more deaths involved in this than there already are.

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August 27, 2008

As the story of the listeria outbreak has unfolded there have been a lot of comparisons to the tainted water scandal in Walkerton. Some of us who live in Ontario have been acutely aware all along that some of the major players in the Mike Harris Progressive Conservative government are now major players in the federal government. And it looks as though that comparison may be depressingly appropriate.

The Globe and Mail is reporting this morning that changes to Canada's food inspection system that were hinted at in a leaked cabinet document were already in place as of Mar. 31st and that those changes affected the Maple Leaf plant that is the source of the contaminated meat. As Greg notes, Harper may actually have been a bit too slow to get that election called.

Impolitical also has more, including the news that while Canadians are dying because of tainted meat, our Minister of Health is in Denver meeting with oil industry executives. I think there's a campaign ad in that one.

Last night I had a little fun at Stephen Harper's expense but the fact is his government isn't all that funny.

Update: See Alison at Creekside as well: SPP : Outsourcing food safety to industry Pt 2.

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August 26, 2008

It's good to be the king

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When Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that he intended to meet with the three opposition leaders before deciding whether to call a federal election, Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe let it be known that he couldn't possibly meet until Sept. 5th at the earliest. There was speculation (scroll down into the comments) that Duceppe was being cute, knowing that the Governor General was leaving that day for Beijing to attend the Paralympics and wouldn't return until Sept. 10th. This wouldn't make it impossible for Harper to call his election before the GG's return but it would certainly cast attention on his impatience to have to press the Chief Justice into service to stand in for her. And much to Harper's chagrin, I'm sure, calling an election is something our constitution prevents a Prime Minister from doing all on his own (though it appears that Harper intends to come as close as is humanly possible).

But whatever Lola Stephen wants, Stephen gets. (I know, I'm mixing up my movie references.)

Additionally, the Prime Minister's Office announced late Tuesday that Ontario Lt. Gov. David Onley will attend the Paralympics in Beijing instead of Gov. Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean from Sept. 5-10.

Or as Paul Wells put it, the Prime Minister has just grounded the Governor General so that she'll be at his beck and call should he get that sudden hankering to drop a writ. You know how these urges can sneak up on you in the middle of the night.

There's some additional nonsense from Harper in that story about how Dion's proposed Green Shift is so shocking to conservative sensibilities that it's simply impossible for parliament to continue. Which says nothing at all about what would happen should the electorate return essentially the same division of seats we have now, which remains a distinct possibility.

But it's crap anyway. King Stephen wants an election, he wants it when he wants it and he'll be pleased to be attended to by everyone else involved, thank you very much. Though he still hasn't condescended to reveal what the damn hurry is.

Almost immediate update:
I wonder if Jean Chrétien will have more to say since Harper once again appears to be snubbing China. Although this time it's politics and I'm sure in Harper's mind even the Chinese can understand that.

Somewhat less immediate update:
Unless of course he's faking everyone out so he can back down and then act all put upon and wounded when parliament reconvenes and the opposition takes him down on the first confidence vote. Wouldn't that be a hoot? Think anyone would buy it?

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August 23, 2008

Senator Joe Biden attempts to penetrate the fog that is AG Michael Mukasey on 9 July 2008:

You know us. We don't do cheerleading at the POGGE Institute, and there is undoubtedly a lot of stuff about Joe Biden that is eventually going to trouble us. He isn't Wesley Clark, eg, which is sort of a shame. But he is another one of those guys who make you think, gee, he could have been a Canadian, if only ... Well, isn't he? I think so.

Y'know, if Obama's strategerists are smart, they will figure out a way for Obama to introduce Biden somewhere as an "articulate and bright and clean and ... nice-looking guy" -- which would be about the best way to laugh off (and therefore defuse) that disastrously unthinking comment that fell out of Biden's mouth last year.

And besides, Biden is cute. C'mon, that is not a superficial comment. That is a judgement delivered by a member of a highly valued demographic group -- ie, mine, which also happens to be Hillary's. In other words, aging women, many of whom Democrats feared might drift away in anger and disappointment after Hillary withdrew from the race.

Nonsense. If you're a girl over fifty, you know that Biden is cute. I mean, look at those French cuffs! How can you resist?

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August 22, 2008


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Pretty much every Canadian media source I look at this evening has a story about "election speculation." And all of those stories are based on "Conservative officials" or "senior Conservatives" or "an aide" to the Prime Minister who are speaking on condition of anonymity.

Why do the members of the press corps allow themselves to be played this way? It's not like these sources are whistle-blowers who are risking their jobs or even their lives so that the public will find out about some nefarious criminal acts that would otherwise go undiscovered. Can there be a journalist in the country naive enough to think that Stephen Harper doesn't want this story to get media attention? Does anyone seriously think these sources would be in trouble if the boss knew they were talking to reporters?

So why do the journalists agree to protect the identities of these sources while allowing themselves to be used as conduits for partisan spin?

There's a straight line there for someone.

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Friday night ZZ Top blogging

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This is a band that seemed to be making fun of themselves (and everybody else) from the moment they began to perform. It must have worked for them 'cos they're still going forty years later. This first clip appears to represent what happens when you cross ZZ Top and Country Music Television. You get La Grange.

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August 21, 2008

There are lots of corporations in the world. Some are just run-of-the-mill operations; they’re structurally somewhat nasty just because the system is somewhat nasty, because hierarchy and plutocracy just aren’t wonderful things. But some corporations go the extra mile to be unpleasant—to undermine society, to poison the food we eat, to pollute like crazy, to fuck over world politics for money, to immiserate not just their workers but the general work climate. Not just nasty, but doing their level best to skew the whole world until it’s nastier. These corporations should die. The people who control them should lose all their money and ideally go to jail for a long time. So I just thought I’d make a list of some of my favourites, the corps I think the world would be far better off without.
Here’s my list. Anyone got favourites of their own?

News Corp (Keeping us in the dark about all the others)
Wal-Mart (responsible for huge amounts of sweatshops and offshoring, destroyer of communities)
Monsanto (Fucking our food)
Exxon-Mobil, Shell, BP, Chevron-Texaco (big oil)
Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline etc. (big pharma)
Microsoft (don’t get me started)
Halliburton (just because I hate Dick)
Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon etc. (military contractors)

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August 20, 2008

To absent friends

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The Eriskay Love Lilt, an auld song that makes love sound for sure and loss only maybe.

Judith Durham of The Seekers

Bheir mi oh a ro van oh;
Bheir mi oh a ro van e;
Bheir mi oh a ro ho.
Sad am I without thee.

When I'm lonely dear white heart,
Black the night or wild the sea,
By love's light my foot finds
The old pathway to thee.

Thou'rt the music of my heart,
Harp of joy, oh o cruit mo chridh,
Moon of guidance by night,
Strength and light thou'rt to me.

Thou art the music of my heart. Sad am I without thee.

To all the friends we have lost this year.

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August 19, 2008

Kick Ass Bloggers

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I think I'm supposed use the image as a link back to the blog that awarded this thing to us. I'll have to do it twice. Is this where I blush uncontrollably? (Of course it's a collective blush. Why do you ask?)

Here's the rules from the blog that started this:

  • Choose 5 bloggers that you feel are "Kick Ass Bloggers"

  • Let 'em know in your post or via email, twitter or blog comments that they've received an award

  • Share the love and link back to both the person who awarded you and back to

  • Hop on back to the Kick Ass Blogger Club HQ to sign Mr. Linky then pass it on!

I'm moving as quickly as I can here because I really want to try and name five kick ass bloggers who haven't already been selected which is getting more difficult by the moment. So here are five bloggers who deserve the recognition (and if I'm wrong and someone has already brought them in on this particular meme, um, tough.)

Accidental Deliberations
Bouquets of Gray
The Vanity Press
They Call Me "Mr. Sinister"


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This oughtta leave a mark

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Yesterday quite a number of us here in blogtopia (Skippy!), including me, took issue with the top-down media and with the Globe and Mail in particular. When a complaint was filed against the highest judge in the land, our intrepid journalists seemed to be content to play stenographers for the likes of Charles McVety without looking critically at who he was really speaking for and whether they really have the extensive support they claim. Now let's add another criticism: that the actual complaint that was filed by the alleged 42 organizations wasn't subject to any kind of serious scrutiny.

At this point I think we can be sure of that because a blogger named Christopher Bird writing at The Court has taken a close look at it and left it lying in little pieces on the floor. Seriously. Go read. Nice takedown, Christopher.

And yet the media continue to treat these people as if they actually have, you know, credibility.

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August 18, 2008

My response is on the flip. It's not worksafe.

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Critic unimpressed by top judge's explanation on Morgentaler, says the Globe and Mail. The critic is Charles McVety, professional busybody. And the question I have is: why is his disapproval news? It was inevitable that whatever the response might be — or may be in future — from Chief Justice McLachlin and/or the Canadian Judicial Council, McVety won't be satisfied with it. The opportunity to express his disapproval and to have it amplified by the national media is the whole point.

The Chief Justice isn't the target of their complaint because McVety and the people he represents really hold her personally responsible. She's the target because she's a high profile target and a public attack on her is almost bound to generate publicity. This issue, as with the issue of abortion itself, is being used as a wedge issue because it motivates the faithful (pun sort of intended) to keep their chequebooks handy and to turn out to the polls, it provides an opportunity to bash political opponents (THEY'RE KILLING BABIEZ!!!) and it provides yet another opportunity to work the refs while making it appear that it's their side that's being attacked and persecuted. And none of this is really news.

I got the link for that article from Dr. Dawg who challenges the Globe and Mail to do some additional reporting by investigating and publicizing the lengths that McVety and friends are going to in an effort to misrepresent the number of people they actually speak for. Dawg's post has links to the investigative work done by bloggers to demonstrate that we're being lied to. While those bloggers deserve full credit, it seems fair to ask what the corporate media might find if they brought their resources to bear on the issue. But those refs, it seems, have already been sufficiently worked and it's been deemed easier to just hand the microphone to McVety without ever questioning the authority from which he presumes to speak. And I'm one critic who's distinctly unimpressed by that.

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August 16, 2008

Two young men made me think that I wanted to focus on Omar Khadr's story again tonight -- Omar himself, of course, and then li'l Kory Teneycke.

Omar's inexhaustible U.S. military lawyer, Lt-Cmdr William Kuebler, lost two arguments this week with the new GTMO judge appointed to Omar's upcoming trial: that the defence should be able to organize independent evaluations of Omar by doctors with expertise in juvenile issues; and that the charges against Omar are now irretrievably tainted by the dismissal of the first judge, who had made rulings favourable to the defence. The latter was kind of a foregone conclusion, I guess. I've never seen Col Parrish in action, but it was hard to imagine that he would more or less rule against his own legitimacy. I have seen Jim Haynes and Thomas Hartmann in square-jawed defiant action, though, and I'm guessing that Col Parrish was laser-cut from a similar sheet of very thin metal.

And then there's li'l Kory. Yes, li'l Kory is just repeating the talking-points, although that is maybe becoming not such a good idea now that the Canadian government is facing a lawsuit alleging violations of international law, violations that have been named as such by a now quite impressively long string of fairly conservative American judges. (NB to Kory: Yes, the Liberals did it too, but there is a principle in law that says the longer these outrages go on, the heavier the responsibility. Yes, in any serious war crimes trial, CSIS and DFAIT would be minnows and you would be a tadpole, but do you really want to audition for that role any longer?)

I very much admire Omar Khadr's legal team, the two Canadian lawyers, Dennis Edney and Nathan Whitling, who have worked pro bono for Omar for years and who met with such hostility at first, and then Lt-Cmdr Kuebler, whose testimony before a Commons subcommittee in March impressed me deeply (and produced some classic sputtering from Jason Kenney). Well, no wonder: William Kuebler, conservative Christian U.S. JAG who is willing to go to the wall for truth, justice, and democracy.

The first of the videos I'm putting up tonight is for the other wonks on this case; it gives both Kuebler and Edney a chance to talk about the outrageous legal thickets they have had to negotiate on Omar's behalf, but which they simply live with in calm and determined commitment.

Note that this panel took place on 19 September 2007. Since then, we have had the SCC decision and Judge Mosley's consequent decisions about which valuable interrogation documents to make public. We have also had the SCOTUS ruling in Boumediene v. Bush, discussed in the video, which both restored the habeas rights of detainees and in part challenged the constitutionality of the U.S. Military Commissions Act.

Turn your speakers way up -- the sound is not great. (This is part 6 of 8; you can find the rest of the session on YouTube.)

And on the turn, for non-wonks, there's a touch of Peter Mansbridge, with a nice bit of Lt-Cmdr Kuebler at the end.

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August 15, 2008

Friday night blues blogging

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I guess it's an indication of the way my mind is working these days. Though I'm not really what you'd call a deadhead, at the end of the week in which it becomes apparent that our prime minister has declared war on culture — literally — the first thing I want to do is throw up some Grateful Dead. Maybe some Conservative will wander through by accident, see a bunch of dirty fuckin' hippies having a party on stage and die of apoplexy on the spot. Here's the Dead with John Popper sitting in on harp on Wang Dang Doodle.

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Wal-Mart watch

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I wonder if Wal-Mart will eventually decide that Canada is just more trouble than it's worth.

A Quebec arbitrator has imposed a collective agreement on Wal-Mart for the first time in the world's largest retailer's history.

The arbitrator released the decision Friday on the contract for eight workers at a tire-and-lube garage at a Wal-Mart store on Maloney Boulevard in Gatineau, just across the river from Ottawa. The workers are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada.

Guy Chenier, head of the local representing the workers, said the union is delighted with the deal, which gives the workers raises averaging 35 to 40 per cent effective immediately, as well as more vacation.

And here comes the understatement of the year.
A spokesman for Wal-Mart said the company is unhappy with the decision and it is "incompatible" with the company's way of doing business.

No! Seriously?

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August 14, 2008

Is anyone making a list?

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I wonder if the good people of Trinity Spadina realize what they missed out on by not electing the Conservative candidate in the last federal election. Apparently they missed out on being represented by a buffoon. The CBC has picked up the Canadian Press story but that doesn't really do justice to Sam Goldstein's antics at today's session of the parliamentary Ethics Committee. For that you need to read the indispensable Kady O'Malley who is giving these committee hearings her full attention. You can start at the beginning of the day's festivities here or, for those on the run, get the summary version near the top of this post.

And the list referred to in my title? I'm glad you asked me that question. I think things have progressed well beyond the point where we should be identifying some of these clowns to ensure that they never run for public office again. Certainly Goldstein qualifies. At this point I'm thinking Gary Goodyear and Dean Del Mastro deserve spots on that list too. Among others.

The problem with settling for ousting them in the next election is that those who have nothing to fall back on simply find places in the wingnut welfare system and bide their time until they get the opportunity to try again. So I guess we need to establish some kind of hall of shame we can elect these bozos to and ensure that once someone is inducted into it, he no longer gets to appear on a ballot.

Is that undemocratic of me?

PS: I tried to work a line into this post about the nature of the behaviour we're coming to expect from members of the Conservative Party. But when I realized I was going to have to apologize to four year olds everywhere, I thought better of it.

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Arar's case to be reheard

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In "an extremely rare occurrence," the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to rehear Maher Arar's case against the U.S. government and certain individual officials, a case that was dismissed only this past June. And they have acted sua sponte, meaning that they are not reacting to any petition but acting of their own accord, presumably on review of their own decision. Or maybe by reason of something else that we don't know about yet.

We don't normally do breaking news here (well, I don't, anyway), but apart from the I'm-bouncing-up-and-down-in-my-chair-with-joy factor of this story, I thought that I should crib one further interesting observation from emptywheel, from whom I first learned the good news today. (And do keep reading along in the comments from her legal beagles.) Before a joint House subcommittee in June, the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security reported on Arar's case in a most curious way. During that testimony, Mr Skinner said:

... we have reopened our review into the Mr. Arar matter because, less than a month ago, we received additional information that contradicts one of the conclusions in our report. As such, we are in the process of conducting additional interviews to determine the validity of this information to the extent we can.

Now, that could mean a lot of things, and who knows whether any of it has been communicated to the learned judges. Myself, I would like to believe that bmaz at emptywheel's place is right, that the judges have just started to realize that something went wrong with the world in George Bush's America and maybe it's time that judges started to say so.

Anyway, we won't know much more until December or later, as the current criminal regime in the U.S. expires. But after what we've all been through, every waking intelligent conscience matters.

And besides, it's a great detective story.

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August 13, 2008

Can we keep it real, please?

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I'll join Impolitical in wondering why it's taken this long to find out Stephane Dion has a communications director. It's news to me but perhaps we'll hear more from him. I just hope he doesn't do his own credibility in with statements like this:

Mr. Dion's communications director, Mark Dunn, dismissed the Tory blasts as an attempt to distract from their own problems, such as a Commons committee inquiry into their election-finance methods, criticism over their environmental plan "at the same time the Arctic is melting" and policies that "have pushed the country to the brink of a recession."

Emphasis added. Can we stop the pretense that the government of the day gets credit for every good economic development and blame for every bad one? It's nonsense and it only makes people tune out when they realize you're spouting crap. The deficit reported for the early months of this fiscal year can certainly be laid at Jim Flaherty's feet. The numbers and trends are there for everyone to see. But the factors involved in pushing us "to the brink of a recession" have been developing for longer than the two and a half years that Stephen Harper has been in office and many of them are beyond the control of any prime minister of Canada. Blaming Harper's Conservatives for mismanagement of the American economy, climate change or peak oil is just silly. It should be enough to challenge them on what they intend to do about these issues.

Leave the hyperventilating to the Conservatives. They do it better than anyone else anyway. The point is to convince voters that hyperventilating doesn't make for good governance.

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August 12, 2008

Heckuva job, Harpie

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The theme of one of those mailers I blogged about below was Canada's alleged return to some measure of prestige on the world stage. "Canada's back", it crowed. Never mind that I've always been hard pressed to figure out where we went in the first place but it seems to me that all the Harper government has managed to do is embarrass us. Case in point: a change in policy that appears designed to help human rights abusers cover up their crimes provided the abusers are people of whom our government approves.

The Conservative government has decided to treat parts of ambassadors' reports about human rights in other countries as secret documents, something one critic calls "shocking."

University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday that if this stands, Canada will be the only major nation to do so.
"The Harper government has turned them into secrets, and started censoring bits of them, and now it seems they will disappear altogether," he said.

Attaran said he thinks the motive is to prevent embarrassment to its allies.

Yeah, we're back alright. That's if by "back" you mean we're willing to be complicit in humans rights abuses committed by other countries.

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I live in a riding that's represented by a Conservative MP. Perhaps he's a little slow but until recently I hadn't seen all the mailers from Canada's Tiresome Government™ that have gotten others somewhat excited. Now he appears to be making up for lost time — in the last few weeks I've received several and today I got two in the same batch of mail.

They're blatant propaganda. The purpose of them is to promote Conservative policies and especially to reinforce the differences between the governing party and its Liberal predecessor. Policies are no longer implemented by "the government of Canada" but by "the Conservative Government." For my money — and it is my money and yours — it's not even well written propaganda. But I certainly appreciated the irony in the lead sentence of one of today's arrivals.

Canadians work hard for their money and in return they deserve representatives who work hard for them.

If it's all about what I deserve you clowns might start by not using my own money and my own government to fill my mailbox with this crap. Save a tree for cryin' out loud.

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August 11, 2008

I'm going to assume that BigCityLIb has it right and that the reason for this bit of political theatre was to draw attention away from stories like this one. Well, that and I'm sure the Conservatives are hoping that by turning the committee hearings into a media circus they can detract from the legitimacy of the proceedings if it's determined that the Conservatives cheated in the last election. And in simple terms, that's what this is about: did the Conservatives cheat?

So let's look at that last link and see what Doug Finley might want us to ignore.

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And when you're a member of the American political press, you treat Democrats differently than you do Republicans lest some wingnut jump up and scream about your liberal bias. This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

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August 9, 2008

Maher Arar.

Canadians might be surprised to learn how many Americans know his name, know his story, and have been at least as frustrated as we are by the perverse behaviour of the U.S. State Department, which has pretty much thumbed its nose at the Canadian government on the Arar file despite testimony from any number of senior American and Canadian officials and elected representatives who have seen the State Department files and have said that Condi's got plenty of nuthin'.

There have been more recent congressional hearings about the (clearly criminal) rendition program, but the most generous and moving examination of Arar's case in particular was a joint House subcommittee hearing chaired by Rep William Delahunt (D-Mass) on 18 October last year. (Props to Tim Harper of the Star for that story, which is a very fine summary of what happened.) Arar himself appeared by videolink from Ottawa, since Condi Rice still thinks that Arar is a greater threat to America than she is. One after another, a succession of congresscritturs looked up at the big video screen and apologized to Maher Arar for the actions of their government. And it wasn't just Democrats who apologized: jaws dropped when Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif) expressed his obviously sincere apologies to Arar, and if you know anything about Dana Rohrabacher, you'll know why jaws dropped.

Delahunt in particular has been a terrier, a bulldog (ok, pogge: a Rottweiler) on the Arar file. He knows and cares more about Maher Arar than most Canadians do. He turns up at hearings where he's not even a committee member and manages to get in his exceptionally sharp and well-informed questions, which of course no member of the current maladministration in Washington can ever answer to the satisfaction of any rational person.

Here is Delahunt's opening statement from that hearing. It's about ten minutes long, but I promise you, it builds. If I could, I would vote for the man who made this speech early and often.

On the turn, you will see Maher Arar's opening response to the congresscritturs. Yes, I want to make you cry.

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Is there a Mountie sitting in the dark somewhere near you?

Och, I don't think I'm ever gonna stop laughing. Alison has already stolen the best line for her title, but it bears repeating:

CHARLOTTETOWN — A top-secret recording meant for the ears of the RCMP's highly trained tactical squad, regarding an operation related to the Beijing Olympics, landed in the hands of a Maritime web developer Friday.

The audio recording – accessed by calling a phone number left on the web developer's pager – goes into great detail about an operation planned for Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sunday.

The message tells its members to meet at 1200 Vanier Parkway, which is the RCMP's national headquarters. Members are told to dress in Level 2 uniform, which includes a vest and sidearm. They are also told to bring their helmets and gas masks in their black bags.


The message does warn the listener that if they are not a member of the RCMP's tactical troop that they should hang up.

And then there's Sgt Gallagher:

“I think his number was probably put in there in error,” said Sgt. Gallagher.


“The vast majority of times the [RCMP tactical squad] is sitting off somewhere in the dark and never seen.”

You can't make this stuff up. But the Mounties can. Ah, what would we do without them?

Well done, Tim Wentzell and Wayne Thibodeau.

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August 8, 2008

Friday night blues blogging

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I wanted to give skdadl an opportunity to practice her air piano so here are a few tunes from Memphis Slim. This is Everyday I Have The Blues.

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Paging Kory Teneycke

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In your role as the PM's Director of Keeping MPs On Message Communications, you might want to keep an eye on this. Do you have any idea how many alarm bells go off for some of us when people start talking about the "scriptural foundation" on which this country was founded?

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August 7, 2008

Tim McLean, the young Winnipegger murdered and brutalized on a bus a few days ago has yet to be laid to rest. While his family and friends attempt to come to terms with the horrific incident, the freaks are coming out of the woodwork.

First we have PETA:

An animal rights group has posted an ad on its website comparing the recent stabbing and decapitation of a young Winnipeg man to how humans kill animals for food.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the advertisement is meant to make people understand how animals suffer when they are killed in slaughterhouses. The group posted the imageless advertisement on its blog site Wednesday.

As if that isn't tasteless and offensive enough, now we get the religious asswipes too:

A church group described in a British documentary as "the most hated family in America" says it will head to Canada this weekend to protest Tim McLean's funeral.

The daughter of the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, based in Topeka, Ka., told she and several other church members will go to Winnipeg on Saturday to demonstrate against what she described as McLean's "filthy way of life." Shirley Phelps-Roper said his life was emblematic of Canada's moral decay.

"God handed us a gift," Phelps-Roper said in a phone interview on Thursday.

She said McLean deserved his death by beheading on a Greyhound Bus last week.

I'm beginning to develop a strong preference for rats over at least some supposed humans.

According to a late last night update on the CTV website, the Phelps Freaks will be barred from entering the country.

Canadian border guards have been told to bar a fanatic church group that was planning to protest the funeral of a man beheaded on a Greyhound bus, reports say.

NDP MP Pat Martin told the Winnipeg Free Press that Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day sent the alert to border guards Thursday.....

Martin said his office was flooded with phone calls Thursday with Winnipeg constituents angered by the group's plan.

"These people are almost as crazy as the murderer," he told the newspaper, referring the church's intentions.

This is certainly a purely political decision. With an election in the not too distant future, the Conservatives already have enough image problems around their embrace of and by religious extremists (see pogge's latest post) that they want to be seen as drawing the line somewhere.

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Priorities, people! Priorities!


There seems to be a blogburst in progress in support of the efforts of the Cree community of Attawapiskat to get a new school for their children. The old one was condemned eight years ago and both Liberal and Conservative governments promised them a new one but more recently, Compassionate Conservative Chuck Strahl who's now the Indian Affairs Minister has put the kibosh on the idea saying it's not on the priority list.

I guess it is tough for the Conservatives to manage their priorities. I'm sure the reason they've increased the budget for advertising so drastically is because all those starving advertising companies needed the business much more than these children need a school.

Scott Tribe has more including a photo of those low priority children. You can sign a petition to encourage Chuck Strahl to change his priorities here (h/t to Scott).


On second thought, why go all the way to Scott's to see the photo? I downloaded the image from the post that started the blogburst which is here at Peterborough Politics.

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August 6, 2008

Nationalism and the Left

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Leftists seem deeply conflicted about nationalism. On one hand, the left has traditionally not been big on nationalism. It seems to be a major psychological tool used by imperialists and police-staters of all stripes. It harks back to tribalism, depending on the national definition tacitly used it often involves racism, and of course it’s diametrically opposed to attempts to create internationalism among workers and other oppressed groups. The roots and history of the left were mostly internationalist in outlook.

On the other hand, in many countries and perhaps more in Canada than most, nationalism is one of the major expressions of resistance to empire. The Borg next door wants us to assimilate, although unlike with the Borg we don’t get to be equal members when we join up. At an intuitive, almost instinctive level we resent that. We feel it’s somehow unfair and wrong for the Americans to be changing Canada because we’re not them, we’re us. That sense of identity, Canadian identity, sneaks up on us, and it’s also maybe the best visceral tool for helping persuade others to resist.

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August 3, 2008

Sunday morning

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Mountain Dance

Hope you're enjoying your weekend.

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August 2, 2008

This isn't such an oldie. It's a choice moment from the mid-July testimony of Douglas Feith, former U.S. undersecretary of defense, organizer of an interesting little operation in the Pentagon known as the Office of Special Plans, a man who has been called many things by his colleagues in government, few of them complimentary but none so memorable as this from General Tommy Franks, former commander of the coalition forces in Iraq:

"I have to deal with the stupidest fucking guy on the planet almost every day."

Feith has had his sticky fingers in so many pies over so many years, and this isn't the place for his full bio (although you'll catch some of my drift if I whisper words like Chalabi and Ledeen and Ghorbanifar and yellowcake in your ears). A few weeks earlier, Feith had ducked an appearance before Jerry Nadler's House Judiciary subcommittee, where he would have been on a panel with Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former deputy at the State Department, who denounced Feith openly. Finally forced to appear under subpoena, Feith found himself trapped on a panel with Philippe Sands. Schadenfreude, it was.

Sands has the goods on Feith's responsibility for authorizing the inhumane treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and all overseas sites run by the Department of Defense. He also has the goods on Feith's twisty logic and brazen lies when caught red-handed. In this brief clip from Nadler's examination, Feith repeats a line we had heard just weeks before, during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings, from three other DoD apologists, most notably the former general counsel of the department, Wm J. "Jim" Haynes: "removal of clothing is different from naked."

For an interesting bit of psychoanalysis of what "removal of clothing" might mean to a detainee, see this post from emptywheel, especially her citations from Jane Mayer's new book The Dark Side.

But time for a taste of Doug himself. Note that this video opens with a very brief clip from the CSIS interview with Omar Khadr.

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Isn't technology wonderful?

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Later that same day:

According to Sitemeter, the problem has been resolved. So I've put the Sitemeter back and I'm waiting for someone to yell at me.

Original post begins here:

To all you Internet Explorer users out there:

If you're having trouble accessing some of your favorite blogs and getting "operation aborted" messages, it's probably because they use Sitemeter. I've removed it from our sidebar for the duration. I've already had to remove it from a couple of other sites I look after so I'll be watching to see when the problem is solved.

There's a bit of detail on the problem here. I also have a report that Microsoft has just finished pushing out an update to IE which users got whether they wanted it or not. I don't know whether that plays into the problem or not. Some of you may have been caught in the recent mess involving a Windows security update and a software firewall product called ZoneAlarm. The MS update fooled the firewall into thinking the entire internet was too dangerous and it quietly blocked all internet traffic. So while most eyes are on Sitemeter, I'll be keeping one on Microsoft.


I guess recent events have Blogger users a little, um, on edge. This problem has nothing to do with Blogger, folks. For once they're off the hook.

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August 1, 2008

I'm easing into a long weekend with some acoustic blues. This is Rory Gallagher with Mark Feltham on harp. Can't Be Satisfied.

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