Thursday, November 30, 2006

The dishonesty of George Will

Washington Post Op-Ed columnist George Will, earned the prestigious ranking of Wanker Of The Day from Atrios. And, most deservedly.

Will can't stand it that Jim Webb actually stood up to Will's chosen president and treated Bush's petulance with all due respect - a short and well-earned slap-down.

As you can see from the original Washington Post article Webb was succinct but hardly uncivil. No... he wasn't deferential. Bush is the President of the United States - the US doesn't have a monarch. (Emphasis mine)

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly...
Now, take a look at what Will wrote in his column on the same subject:

When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "I'd like to get them [sic] out of Iraq."

When the president again asked "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "That's between me and my boy."
Note what part Will just happened to leave out, thus minimizing the petulant remark by Bush. He altered the actual event to paint Webb as, in Will's own words, a boor.

Well, then. That would make George Will a liar. The conclusion of Will's column:

... what Washington did not need another of, a subtraction from the city's civility and clear speaking.
Quite right. Washington already has George Will for that and, with the other mindless, lying, right-wing, Bush-worshipping pundits lodged in that city, D.C.'s allocation of incivility and double-talk is well over-subscribed.

Start counting down. A spring election.

The CBC convention blog, written by Robert Sheppard contains the entire 21 minute 13 second speech by Howard Dean.

One of Dean's statements was:

Boy, you guys are really going to win in the spring.
How would Howard Dean have come to the conclusion that there was something to win in the spring?

Easy. He was briefed.

As Sheppard points out:

What that means is that his hosts, the most senior people in the Liberal party and the backroom organizers who invited him, are pretty well set on the idea that they will force a spring election.
We might have guessed that, but now it's out in the open.

Just watch the Harper shennanigans now.

Canada's two official languages... from an American political heavyweight

We become jaded to the realities which exist outside our own sphere of pursuit. For example, we quite erroniously believe that George W Bush, an uncurious, stupid and inarticulate individual, represents most of what America is. We listen and cringe at Bush's corrupted English and boorish behaviour.

Then we get a demonstration of what America's leadership could be.

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, addressed the Liberal leadership convention in Montreal last night - in both of Canada's official languages. From Crooks and Liars...

That's class. And, yes, Fox News is going to hate that.

Update: And, just in case you were wondering about the Fox News reaction to Dean's comment, take a look at this. It's fun to watch Brown trip all over himself trying to explain that Fox doesn't hate him speaking French... and, oh yeah, that Fox was the only US network to cover his trip to Canada. And, y'know, after a little casting about, Fox may be accurate on that one.

A Winter right of passage for Canadian kids

An 11 year-old Kelowna boy can now proudly proclaim that he has earned his way into Canadian Winter citizenship.

Hell, we've all done it, right? If not, we've watched it happen to others.

What makes this typically Canadian event even more Canadian is that he was rescued, not by the fire department, but by a Mountie!

In sub-zero temperatures, don't put your tongue on a cold metal pole.An 11-year-old boy in Kelowna didn't follow that common-sense rule this morning.

A group of kids flagged down an RCMP traffic cop."Thinking at first that they were just being friendly, she waved back until she realized that one of the kid’s tongue was stuck on the pole of a stop sign," a police spokesman said today.

The RCMP officer put some water on the curious boy's tongue and freed him from the pole.
What isn't in the Vancouver Sun's story is the fact that the RCMP constable's daughter had also managed to stick her tongue on a frozen chain-link fence at her daycare centre.

This is why we start teaching chemistry and physics really early in Canada, lest all of our politicians become stuck to frozen metal.

Random Rumours

There is a new rumour floating around that George W Bush, the codpiece who melted Lisa Schiffren, is seeking out writers to produce volumes of good news stories about Bush's presidency to fill his library.

There are reports that Bush officials have approached Seigfried Engelmann and Elaine C. Bruner to write the early portions of Bush's term in office.

Of course, this company is seeking a "no bid" contract, having been left out of the Iraq reconstruction opportunities.


Men... do you feel, well, y'know, a little short?

Lose 35 pounds and you can gain an inch of penis length! I'm not making this up. This is from a real doctor.

Penis enhancement and a slimmer body... wow! Unfortunately, I am advised that width is more important than length. But, hell! One increase at a time... right guys?


The Canadian Blog Awards. Today and tomorrow! Do vote! We're up for best group blog and no matter what happens, we'll place at least in the top five. You can vote every day! Please do.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Can We Do Better Than CTV Politics Blog?

The CTV Politics blog has had this uncredited picture up for a bit running a caption contest.

But the captions are weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, if I may borrow a phrase.

So herewith, a new caption contest for this picture.

I'll start:

"First Prize will be this pair of David Emerson's old underwear that were never worn."

Now I Understand Alberta

"A standard wait time for a liquor delivery used to be just two or three days, but store owners now say it nearly takes two weeks.

"In the last three weeks, we are shipping 300,000 cases a week," said George Rodziewicz, an official with Connect Logistics. "It was 225,000 this time last year so that's a 33 per cent increase in liquor order volumes."

They're all fuckin' pissed.

Gwynne Dyer asks a Disturbing Question

As grain supply is threatened, how long can we feed ourselves?

"...we live in a finely balanced situation where world food supply just about meets demand, with no reserve to cover further population growth. But the population will grow anyway, and the world's existing grain supply for human consumption is being eroded by three different factors: meat, heat and biofuels. For the sixth time in the past seven years, the human race will grow less food than it eats this year."

I would say 'food for thought' but that seems so trite.

Bush vs Intelligent Human.

There was a time when, if we were questioned by those in authority, we answered politely and with the "class answer". That is to say, the question was only offered out of social politeness - not because the questioner really wanted an honest answer.

Anyone who has been in the armed services has probably experienced being on parade, being inspected and having a general, an admiral or dignitary ask one of those questions to which they expect a polite, and often, dishonest answer.

Being asked, "How do you find serving in this unit?" was always answered with something like, "Love it, Sir." It didn't matter whether it was the most miserable posting on the planet. The question wasn't asked to find out the truth.

Then, somewhere between Haight Ashbury and Tan Son Nhut, things changed.

I was the commander of a Guard of Honour being inspected by a very high-ranking dignitary being accompanied by a full general. The dignitary was doing the polite thing and not really looking at the troops, but stopping at random points to talk to a few lucky souls.

"Have you been serving with ______ long?" asked the dignitary of a corporal.

"Too long, Sir," replied the corporal. "I'm pretty much sick of it."

The dignitary had been a real officer in a real navy and his curiosity got the best of him. Instead of nodding and moving on he asked, "Ready for a spell of leave, are you?"

The general, from behind the dignitary, was already glaring at the corporal. It had no effect as the corporal let loose. "Leave?! Who in the fuck gets leave in this outfit?! No, Sir. You can't get leave if you're not in country. Hell, I'm starting to think cook-the-bag rations are gourmet dining."

The dignitary offered, "Keep your chin up, lad," and moved on. The general was now glaring at me. I forced a short smile knowing I would probably receive a stern talking-to and instructions to discipline the corporal.

The talking-to happened but amazingly the general accepted that the corporal had simply provided an honest answer to a direct question. Perhaps inspecting dignitaries should restrict questions to "Where are you from?"

Jump ahead and instead of a corporal imagine a person who, after graduating from the US Naval Academy, served with the 1st of the 5th US Marines as a rifle platoon commander in Vietnam. He came out of that war with a Navy Cross, a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. After Vietnam he earned a law degree and worked on the staff of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. He then joined the Reagan administration as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. He went on to become Secretary of the Navy in Reagan's administration.

Imagine this person is asked a polite question by one of the several people who have no right to expect a polite answer. Via Shake's Sis the new junior senator from Virginia:

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.
As Shake's Sis says:

That’s not what I asked you. Which really means: Play the fucking game, Webb. I’m the goddamned president, and I make the rules, and you’re supposed to tell me ‘my boy is fine, sir’. Now let’s try this again. How’s your boy?
And, Webb's unspoken answer: You're fuckin' with the wrong marine.

Bush has just had his happy bubble penetrated and a small sample of things to come.

Status of Women's Offices Closing

Jesus H. Murphy O'Christ the good news just keeps on comin'.

Now the Cons have announced the closing of 12 of the 16 Status of Women offices by April 1, 2007.

Don't like gay people, don't care much for women's equality, don't believe in climate science, don't like federal programs or the federation itself all that much - rather let the provinces take care of it as well as themselves.

What do they stand up for? Harper's cod piece?

Update: a couple of hours and a glass of wine later and it strikes me that had some earlier government done this, say a decade and a half ago, we wouldn't be dealing with Rona Ambrose or Bev Oda today.

Ironic huh?

"Accept defeat by Taliban, Pakistan tells Nato".

The Telegraph today has a story headlined "Accept defeat by Taliban, Pakistan tells Nato".

"Pakistan's foreign minister, Khurshid Kasuri, has said in private briefings to foreign ministers of some Nato member states that the Taliban are winning the war in Afghanistan and Nato is bound to fail. He has advised against sending more troops.
Western ministers have been stunned. "Kasuri is basically asking Nato to surrender and to negotiate with the Taliban," said one Western official who met the minister recently."

The Stevie and Petie Dog and Pony Show isn't going to be mentioning this to any of the hated Canadian media.

On the other hand it will be interesting to see if any of the triumphalist national media republish this.

Government in your face. Is your marriage safe?

It's the election promise most Canadians neither cared about nor believed was necessary.

The Conservatives will follow through with their election promise to revisit same-sex marriage, with debate expected to begin as early as next week.

The government confirmed Tuesday they will begin debate Dec. 6th with a vote planned before the House breaks for the holidays.

The motion is expected to ask MPs to reopen discussion on same-sex marriage, but will not directly challenge the existing legislation. However, it may ask whether parliamentarians wish to repeal or amend the existing law.
Never mind that in poll after poll Canadians have determined that the matter is settled. Over two-thirds accept the current legislation and believe it has been put to rest.

That doesn't matter to Steve, however:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said if the House votes against changing the law to allow same-sex marriages, the matter would be settled.
Do you really believe that? Do you really believe that the social conservative wing of Harper's party will let this go if they lose?

Don't count on it.

During the election campaign, Harper promised to hold a free vote in the House of Commons on whether Parliament should revisit the issue.
A free vote? Do you mean in accordance with paragraph 7 of the Conservative Party Policy Declaration:

A Conservative Government will make all votes free except for the budget and main estimates.
Or, is it the statement from the CPoC 2006 Federal Election Platform:

Make all votes in Parliament, except the budget and main estimates, “free votes” for ordinary Members of Parliament.
Well, I hate to have to point this out, but that promise has already been broken. So, unless Harper is willing to put TV cameras in the Conservative caucus meetings preceding such a vote, and we all get to see the paperwork coming out of the Government Chief Whip's office, there's no reason whatsoever to believe a word of what Harper says regarding free votes.

Make no mistake here. This is the Conservative party, the party that claims to want to reduce government and get government out of the lives of ordinary Canadians, digging into the personal lives of anyone they so choose. This is scrutinizing the lives and aspirations of a segment of Canadian society after we have already decided to boot government out of that arena.

This is an unnecessary and unwarranted intrusion by government and it comes to you courtesy of the religious freaks who will never let go. They will shove their fundamentalist religious bullshit down the throats of Canadians at every opportunity.

I have asked this before and deserves asking again: Is there anybody who can say their marriage has been adversely affected, has been diminished in any way or has been destroyed because two other people formalized their life together through legal marriage?

If anyone answers "yes" to that I would offer that your marriage is resting on the shakiest of foundations. Basing the strength of a marriage on a piece of legal paperwork and a solemnization ceremony suggests that perhaps that marriage needs a bit more attention. And, that doesn't mean examining the marriages of others, the lifestyles of whom you don't approve.

And, for a slightly more irreverent look at what this is really all about, check this out.

How long, by the way, before the Christian taliban goes after childless couples? Just askin'.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mini Roundup On NATO and Afghanistan

I thought I might poke around the web a bit and see what more I might learn about the NATO meetings currently underway in Riga, Latvia.

One of the things I learned is that for all the partisan bluster and self-important bombast we inflict upon one another about our involvement in Afghanistan we're barely a footnote elsewhere and ofttimes not even that.

The highlights:

The China Daily notes that we've apparently committed another 1,000 troops.

"A Canadian official said Canada had pledged 1,000 more troops without geographical or other restrictions." Although some other members also said they would increase numbers no specific countries other than Canada were mentioned.

"Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said Italy's position on troop locations and numbers had not changed and it would only move forces "in extremis."

"Tonight other countries such as Germany, France and Spain expressed the same position as ours," he said.

The Times of London reports that a joint UN-World Bank report on the opium trade in Afghanistan thinks that it's important to " the trade out of the police and Interior Ministry before it has become more entrenched. " Encouraging. Although the same report notes that "...efforts at eradication are decades away from success." Not so encouraging.

Der Spiegel instructs us that a German military official felt that "One couldn't help but feel like a lousy comrade." But also that "the prevailing opinion is that the German contribution is not adequately appreciated: The KSK was deliberately not sent to Kandahar because it was planning an incursion that was important for the overall ISAF mission...On Oct. 14, a so-called "guesthouse" for suicide bombers was raided in southeast Kabul. For many years, a man believed to be a high-level middleman in the Afghan-Pakistani terror network had been harboring jihadists there. They would take refuge with him before suicide missions, and the jihadists who sought haven there are believed to have included those responsible for the June 7, 2003 attack on a bus that killed four German soldiers and injured another 29. In the time since the KSK completed its operation, the number of suicide bombings in Kabul has shrunk considerably."

And in The Guardian we learn that according to "Womankind Worldwide, ...: "It cannot be said that the status of Afghan women has changed significantly in the last five years."

Thus endeth the roundup.

2006 Canadian Blog Awards - round two

Just a reminder to our loyal readers (waving back at both of you!) that The Galloping Beaver is in the running for The 2006 Canadian Blog Awards in the category of Best Group Blog.

You can go to the link and vote every day.

While you're there, have a look at the other categories. We've listed a few here that should really attract your attention.

Should we win, Cheryl has offered to provide free tax advice and now... cookies!

(Although I might have liked the cheesecake offered here.)

The Koran is now the enemy of democracy

Don't believe me? Ask Los Angeles radio nutball Dennis Prager.

Prager has written an outrageous column over at suggesting that Keith Ellison, (D-Minn), be forced to take his oath of office on a Christian bible. The only real problem is, Ellison is a Muslim. He intends to take his oath on the Q'uran.

Prager, totally ignoring the fact that the book he insists Ellison hold while taking the oath/affirmation is soley a Christian publication suggests that Ellision swearing an oath on anything but "The Bible" is an act of hubris and multicultural activism. (All emphasis mine)

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism -- my culture trumps America's culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.
Get ready with the vomit bag - it gets worse.

Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison's favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress. In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath.
Ohhh... really? That would mean it's in the US Constitution - right? Hmmm... let's see... that would be Article VI, if I correctly recall that day back in the 8th grade.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Oh shit! Nothing about a bible of any kind! In fact, religious examination is forbidden.

Prager goes on and plays a little game of deceit here:

But for all of American history, Jews elected to public office have taken their oath on the Bible, even though they do not believe in the New Testament, and the many secular elected officials have not believed in the Old Testament either. Yet those secular officials did not demand to take their oaths of office on, say, the collected works of Voltaire or on a volume of New York Times editorials, writings far more significant to some liberal members of Congress than the Bible. Nor has one Mormon official demanded to put his hand on the Book of Mormon. And it is hard to imagine a scientologist being allowed to take his oath of office on a copy of "Dianetics" by L. Ron Hubbard.
Umm, he forgot to mention that several new congressional representatives and senators have taken the oath without using a bible at all. Must have been an oversight.

Prager can be thankful that others have a greater grasp of US constitutional rights and requirements than he has. He might want to refresh his memory with regards the 1st Amendment. It kind of protects him from being prosecuted for writing bizarre columns which could easily be interpreted as being written by a bigoted idiot.

Dennis Prager has written a book, by the way. You can get it cheap, just in time for Winterfest. To help you out, here is an excerpt from one of the top reviews:

... sloppy thinking, intellectual pretentions, and a kind of benevolent, patronizing conservatism.
Hey! I wouldn't know. I wouldn't read any American writer who knows less about the US Constitution than most Canadians.

There is a winner in the Quebecois Nation motion... and it's not who you think it is.

The issue of defining the Quebecois people as a nation within Canada has exposed a whole host of things about the Conservative government of Steve Harper.

The first, although hardly the most important thing, is that Harper managed to pull off something, by playing with words, which might quite reasonably have been expected to be presented as a Constitutional amendment. One of the primary objectives in the failed Meech Lake Accord was to grant Quebec the status of "distinct society" in Part II of the Constitution Act of 1867 (British North America Act).

I don't think that was intentional.

Harper was trapped. The original motion presented by Duceppe was spurious in nature. Harper found himself between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Either vote against the motion and incur the emotional upwelling of Quebec nationalism, (of course it would have happened), or find a way to make it palatable to all parties and garner favour from the one province in which he cannot generate political support.

Harper could not use "distinct society". The memory of that failed effort would have caused a furious uproar, not the least of which reasons would have been the re-emergence of the ghost of Brian Mulroney in the House.

The vote itself, and the aftermath tells us a lot about the inner workings of Harper's government, if you can actually call it that.

Second, the invoking of a three-line whip by Jay Hill, the Chief Government Whip, provides us yet another broken promise by Harper. Robert at My Blahg points it out clearly and draws the point from his comments section. And, you can look it up on page 44 of the Conservative election platform here.

Why would Harper have to do that? Easy. He quite likely had a near caucus revolt on his hands. He had to impose party discipline, something he promised he would never do, in order to get his motion through the House.

It probably would have carried anyway, (he has enough sheep in his caucus), but a significant enough number of Conservative MPs would have voted against it in a free-vote to damage Harper's political image in Quebec. He could not afford that... at all.

The third thing that becomes apparent is that the Ministry has little or no power in a Harper government. Everything is concentrated in the Prime Minister's Office and dictated, not by elected members, but by appointed political hacks. That became clear when Michael Chong resigned his cabinet post of Inter-governmental Affairs Minister over this whole issue. Chong was not consulted on the wording of the motion. In fact, he was completely out of the loop on this and most other inter-governmental affairs. That's more than a little strange but it does demonstrate that Harper, and Harper alone, directs all policy. He's a notorious micro-manager and quite clearly, a tyrant within his own caucus. There is no Conservative government: there is the Steve Harper government.

The fourth important disclosure is that Harper probably does not understand the gravity of what has taken place. A motion in the House that carries is the "will of the House". To retract that in any future parliament requires a new motion and Jim at The Progressive Right spells out the reason a motion to the House can be more damaging than legislation. Add to that the fact that Harper, nor anyone else has ever really spelled out what this motion actually means. He has described what it is not, but never what it really is. The belief that this motion will not be used in some future attempt by Quebec nationalists as a lever is naive at best. All over the world headlines in foreign news organs are reading this as a move granting Quebec nationhood.

Harper's vainglorious statement after the vote is as unbelievable as anything he's ever said in the past:

"I think tonight was an historic night," he said after the vote. "Canadians across the country said 'yes' to Quebec, 'yes' to Quebecers, and Quebecers said 'yes' to Canada."

That is over doing it to an unbelievable degree. There was something historic alright, but to suggest Canadians as a whole had anything to do with it is patently false. Canadians were not offered a chance to vote on the matter in a referendum; the caucus of the governing party was compelled to vote with Harper after limiting debate; and, this had nothing to do with saying "yes" or "no" to Quebec or any other part of the country. This was nothing more than Harper political showmanship.

You can expect Harper to go into Quebec in the next election campaign claiming that Quebec's newly minted identity is his doing and his idea. And there, this will all come back to bite him.

The idea of identifying the people of Quebec as a nation originated with some of the candidates for the federal Liberal party leadership.

It was Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Quebecois, who introduced the first motion in the House of Commons. Had he not done that, Harper would never have generated the idea of "nation" for Quebecers at all. It was never an item on the table and it would not go down well with the party.

What certain Liberals, and of course Gilles Duceppe, can do during an election campaign is demonstrate how they, while not in power as government, managed to control Harper and his dillettantes. How they were easily able to damage the Harperites.

Duceppe played this well and now he can take advantage of it. He forced Harper's hand and caused him to break the promise of free-votes on such matters. He put enough pressure on the Conservatives to cause the Chief Whip to invoke party discipline over a "simple motion". He, with little effort, caused the resignation of a Harper Cabinet Minister. He slyly exposed the weakness of the Harper government with a "simple motion".

Harper can attempt to claim victory in this event if he wishes to. It won't work. Gilles Duceppe seriously and adeptly out-maneouvred Harper. I wouldn't have said this a week ago, but Duceppe has demonstrated that he's one helluva politician. Now he can go into the next election and claim he won something for Quebec and quickly dispell any credit Harper might try to take for the outcome of this motion.

The winner in all this is not Quebec, not Canada and not Harper. The one who comes away from this vote with all the credibility and power is Gilles Duceppe.

At the going down of the Sun, and in the morning...

With respect and condolences to the families and friends of Chief Warrant Officer Robert Girouard, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment and Corporal Albert Storm, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment.

Pro Patria

CWO Girouard was the Regimental Sergeant Major of 1 Bn, RCR Battle Group and the most senior non-commissioned member of that force.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Snow Report From North Vancouver

Here's a couple of pictures of some of the snow in the back yard here on the slope of Mount Seymour in North Vancouver.

The snow Bichon Frises here are along the fence. You can see that they're drinking out of clay flower pots.

The view below is off the kitchen steps to the back fence, which as you can see, grows sunflowers even in the snow.

There's a lot of it. Reportedly a record amount for the date in fact. With more to come and no rainy temps in sight till toward the end of the first week of December.

UBC is closed due to a campus wide power outage. SFU has power but is closed too being on top of a mountain and all. The vast majority of schools and colleges are closed with the one exception being the North Van campus of Capilano College where toils my beloved. They were closed down completely for three and a half days week before last due to a huge GVRD water main break. That's a lot of lost class time so they weren't going to close again come hell or high frozen water.

I've had a couple of brief power outages here. One barely a few seconds and one more like a couple of minutes. There are a lot of trees coming down under the heavy snow all over the lower mainland and taking power lines down with them. One report I've seen says about 60,000 people are without electricity GVRD wide. I'm glad I upgraded my surge protection after the rainfall induced power outages two weeks ago.

Two of our own to a suicide bomber

This information started to appear last night in unconfirmed reports. This morning there was finally a confirmation from the Canadian Department of National Defence.

A suicide bomber killed two Canadian soldiers in an attack on an alliance convoy in Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar on Monday.


In Ottawa, Canadian Department of National Defense spokeswoman Carole Brown confirmed that the two dead soldiers were Canadian, but would not release their names.
At the time of writing, several hours after this event, there is no information offered by DND by way of an initial press release. It goes without saying that names and personal details will not be released until next-of-kin have been notified.

Maybe it's just me, but considering this information was starting to filter out of independent journalists yesterday, DND is appearing to be very slow in providing even an initial confirmed report.

Don't go to Baghdad without it

Via Lindsay, some of the more appropriate garments for independent journalists. It's what everybody's wearing during this insurgent season.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The faux captain falls for a faux leak

Shorter Special Ed: I have no clue as to the actual responsibilities surrounding the security of classified information but, since I dislike the New York Times it's easy to call them wrong. And, since they've published the contents of a document marked SECRET, it's now alright if I spread that same document all over the internet without being labelled treasonous.

Here's a short lesson in the physical security of documents for Ed:

1. It is not the responsibility of newspapers to know, understand nor comply with government regulations regarding operational, physical or communications security;

2. It is the responsibility of the authorized holders of classified information and documents to properly secure such material and prevent unauthorized access or reference;

3. It is illegal to transmit classified information to any individual who does not possess the "need to know" regardless of the security clearance that person may hold.

In short, trying to blame the New York Times for a security breach in this case is about as smart as blaming a seagull for crapping. The fault, if there really is one, lies with the "government official" who handed over the document.

Of course, Morrissey finds the NY Times article terribly convenient. It, in his own mind, lets him off the hook. Now he can blather on about a SECRET classified document and warn all who will heed to take cover because here come the islamofascists to get you from that well-funded terrorist breeding ground - Iraq.

Interestingly, Morrissey then criticizes the NY Times for "pouring water" on the document when they go looking for other opinions on the funding of the Iraqi insurgency. It doesn't support his Islamofascists behind every tree meme. Hell, if you're going to report on a leaked SECRET document, don't try to water it down - stick with the theme! The turbans are coming to get you - elect a Republican president in 2008 to prevent it.

Oh, you didn't catch that part?! Let me explain:

The New York Times runs this article: (All emphasis mine)

The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, connivance by corrupt Islamic charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.
That the insurgency in Iraq is reasonably well-funded is hardly in question. Instead of fizzling out, it's growing stronger. And, of course, that report gains credence when it comes via a classified US government document.

A copy of the seven-page report was made available to The Times by American officials who said the findings could improve understanding of the challenges the United States faces in Iraq.
Something smells a little here.

This isn't the illegal wiretap bombshell. That information was acquired when someone with a conscience realized the US Constitution was being violated by the very people who were sworn to protect it.

What we're seeing in this latest leak of a SECRET document is something quite different. This report, if true, supports the Bushco position for staying in Iraq and defeating the insurgency. It says that the insurgency in Iraq will find its way beyond Iraq's borders.

“If accurate,” the report says, its estimates indicate that these “sources of terrorist and insurgent finance within Iraq — independent of foreign sources — are currently sufficient to sustain the groups’ existence and operation.” To this, it adds what may be its most surprising conclusion: “In fact, if recent revenue and expense estimates are correct, terrorist and insurgent groups in Iraq may have surplus funds with which to support other terrorist organizations outside of Iraq.”
Ah yes. We have to fight them there, or we'll end up fighting them here.

The NY Times sought out opinions on the report. This is a pretty standard practice, but it also suggests that the report was obtained by the NY Times with far too much ease.

Some terrorism experts outside the government who were given an outline of the report by The Times criticized it as imprecise and speculative. Completed in June, the report was compiled by an interagency working group investigating the financing of militant groups in Iraq.

A Bush administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the group’s existence. He said it was led by Juan Zarate, deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism, and was made up of about a dozen people, drawn from the C.I.A., the F.B.I., the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department, the Treasury Department and the United States Central Command.
An imprecise and speculative report written by a group led by a Bushco appointee. And, to add a little flavour... Bushco has its very own "deep throat".

Then there's this little kicker:

“They’re just guessing,” said W. Patrick Lang, a former chief of Middle East intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency, who now runs a security and intelligence consultancy. “They really have no idea.” He added, “They’ve been very unsuccessful in penetrating these organizations.” He said he was equally skeptical about the report’s assertion that the insurgent and militant groups may have surpluses to finance terrorism outside Iraq. “That’s another guess,” he said.

“A judgment like that, coming from an N.S.C.-generated document,” he said, is not an analytical assessment as much as it is a political statement to support the administration’s contention that Iraq is a central front in the war on terrorism. “It’s a statement put in there to support a policy judgment,” he said.
What this boils down to is another rationalization for continued war in Iraq. While the report may be authentic, the subterfuge of its finding its way to the offices of the NY Times looks to be very much contrived.

Of course, Morrissey sees it completely differently. He feels that if Bushco wanted to leak information they would just declassify an executive summary and release it.

Morrissey just doesn't get it, does he? The Bush administration is reknown for fabricating any and all manner of lies. Letting a SECRET NOFORN document slide out of the West Wing gives it all that much more power and the effect would be total acceptance of the contents as true.

The only thing is, the distribution of such a document would be very limited. Receivers of the information would be on a particular distribution list. If this document wasn't supposed to find its way into the NY Times, the series of grillings the people on the distribution list would undergo would make the Spanish Inquisition look like a grammar school sports day.

The fact is, Morrissey swallowed the bait whole on this one. Unable to accept the skepticism painted throughout the NY Times article, he writes this:

We're seeing the beginnings of a terror-exporting state in Iraq. We need to stop it now, rather than engaging in a retreat that will only force us to return later at greater loss of life.
I couldn't have run that one better myself! The leakers of the report not only got a solid bite, but they also got some free faux outrage for having the NY Times publish classified information.

And, if Iraq does become a terror-exporting state, whose fault is that?!

It makes Ed one of these.

Fantasy Newspaper Articles

"Ousted Karl Rove Takes New Job With Hugo Chavez"

"Bush announced that Karl Rove, who had lately held the post of Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bush and was widely recognized as being the "evil nincompoop" behind the Republican political machine, was summarily dismissed by the president during a brief announcement in the White House Dudgeon Office. Bush left the room without taking questions from reporters."

"Under President Hugo Chavez, Karl Rove will have the position of Flor del Turd, loosely translated as "special presidential hatchet-man"."

Read it all.

Via The Cylinder, it would seem Tony Blair's wife, Cherie, has taken a dim view of journalists, suggesting the profession lacks morality.

She went on:

She told a stunned audience that it was "not a noble calling" and journalists "have no ethics".
Oh yes. The audience? Journalism students.

That's right. The wife of Britain's prime minister, a person who has created all sorts of political controversy and has misused her husband's position for personal gain, called journalists immoral.

She didn't mention her own acts of incredulous behaviour, hints of corruption and the fact that she wallows in the same trough as some of the most immoral British politicians in history.

While Blair decries the intrusion of the British press into her private life, she has proven that unless she is watched, and reported upon, she will abuse her position and she will lie when asked direct questions.

No ethics? Lacks morality? If that's Blair's description of the press that keeps catching her out, imagine the words that would be used to describe her.

2006 Canadian Blog Awards - round two

Just a reminder that the voting for round two of The Canadian Blog Awards is open until December 1st. You can vote once each day in each category.

Of course, I will remind our readers that The Galloping Beaver is in the running for Best Group Blog and we would all appreciate any and all support. I might add that we are competing with blogs I consider to be among the best in North America... which occasionally stirs a question as to why we're there, but I'm glad we are.

Endorsements from a group blog are difficult. The best any one of us can provide is a personal endorsement which may differ from those of our co-bloggers. So, the following is my personal selection and not the position of other contributors. As opposed to an endorsement, call it a projection of the way I'd like to see things turn out.

Best Blog is something of a problem. My personal choice isn't there (it wouldn't have been TGB, by the way). Having hopped through the offerings I find Milkmoney Or Not, Here I Come is among my favourites.

Best Conservative Blog is something I would have given a pass, except that there are some good ones out there. Even though it's been called liberal by one of its competitors, I like The Prairie Wranglers. Whether we agree or not, Olaf does present his views well. He has some tough competition but if you eliminate the racists and the card-carrying CPoC politician, The Prairie Wranglers only has one other competitor: Bound By Gravity.

Best Progressive Blog is tough. I like all of them. Without adding much comment, I'm going with Abandoned Stuff by Saskboy. I like the style.

Best New Blog depends on what you think a new blog should be. I like Harper-Valley. In that genre, The Next Agenda is well done and interesting, but I like the humour in Harper-Valley.

Best Group Blog is easy. We're in the competition.

Best Humour Blog should be a cake-walk. For that reason I'm hoping Harper-Valley takes it. Scout's real competition is Rick Mercer but with more regular posts and new materiel, I like Harper-Valley a lot better.

Best Media Blog should only be four competitors. Antonia Zerbisias seems to have closed her blog down. I like Inside The CBC.

Best Business Blog We're Not Wired Right.

Best Blog Post is a category we were in during round one. Having been eliminated I can now admit that I feel the best post out there is POGGE's Fly On The Wall.

Best Blog Post Series is also good competition. Again, I'm going with Harper-Valley's If Only They Were Normal series. It's funny and the graphics are great.

Best Cultural Blog. I'm going with Somena Media.

Best Family Blog is something I hope Postcards From The Mothership takes.

Best Sci/Tech Blog is tough. They're all great. I'm going with one which gathered my interest - Off The Grid.

And, there you go. We all have Robert McClelland at My Blahg to thank for putting this together and doing all the work.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Milestones - numbers - piss poor performance

It's been 1349 days since the United States invaded Iraq. Today, the war in Iraq rages on, killing Iraqis and Americans on a daily basis, some in unbelievable numbers, despite what George W. Bush said on May 1st, 2003. (He never said, "Mission Accomplished". That was the wording of the massive sign behind him.)

The 2nd World War lasted 1348 days for the United States, starting with the bombing of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor December 7th, 1941 and ending with the Japanese surrender on August 15th, 1945. One day less than the current fiasco in Iraq which has no end in sight.

The War On Terror™, which self-defines as a war on a dictionary word, has now lasted for 1902 days. Unfortunately it includes the entanglement in Afghanistan, which involves well over 30 countries in one form or another, and for which no solution is visible on the chronological horizon.

Canada's period of hostilities in the 2nd World War lasted 2167 days. In 265 days, Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan will exceed that of WWII.

The US involvement in Vietnam is difficult to peg. American advisors were present in South Viet Nam from 1950. In 1956 the US took over responsibility for training the South Vietnamese army. It was on July 27th, 1964, however that the first mass deployment of troops took place, followed shortly afterwards by the Gulf of Tonkin incident. From that date until the last US military personnel departed Vietnam on April 30th, 1975, American involvement in Vietnam spanned 3930 days.

And what have we accomplished?

I ask that because I cannot produce a definitive answer. The only thing I do know is that we, the partners in this military adventure in southwest Asia, can see no end in sight.

This world is at great risk of becoming permanently involved in a continuing war for which the original purpose is lost in the annals of fading memory. It's probably already happened and we have not yet figured it out.

When war lasts for too long it develops a life of its own. When the original purpose is lost, the perpetuation of the war requires fuel: people and weapons and, above all, reasons.

This Global War on Terror is one hungry sonofabitch. Too bad the reasons are like feeding it unbuttered popcorn.

Harper's Neo Federalism

"Withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan... Collect our own revenue from personal income tax... Resume provincial responsibility for health-care policy. If Ottawa objects to provincial policy, fight in the courts... [E]ach province should raise its own revenue for health... It is imperative to take the initiative, to build firewalls around Alberta... "

Stephen Harper in an "Open letter to Ralph Klein," January 24th 2001.

And today we read that the intentions outlined in that letter are about to become a national project. Evidently Harper doesn't hate all national projects.

In what's become typical for Bell Globe Media they fail to mention that should such a Constitutional amendment be written any federal program already in place could quite straightforwardly be offloaded to the provinces. Such as, for example, national health care, as Harper has noted above. He would finally be able to achieve the originating goal of the National Citizens Coalition - I guess that one stayed with him all these years. Just as Tom Flanagan's goal of sharply curtailing support for First Nations has stayed with him.

Slowly chipping away, stone, by stone, until, Canada more closely resembles Texas than the country we grew up in.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Viva Haaaarper! Viva! Viva!

‘Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes.’ Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said that back in '03.

Today it might as well be Jim Flaherty saying it. He's going to cut our taxes and accelerate the elimination of the debt, the net debt too, whatever that may be. (We're so lucky to have a Finance Minister who knows things that economists and bankers find puzzling. But that's another story.)

Well, earlier today I started wondering about the other shoe and silently guessing that it might be a big increase in military spending.

Guess what?

"The federal cabinet is poised to sign off on a new master plan for the Canadian Forces that will include billions more for new military equipment."

The beauty part?

No conversation with all those pesky elected representatives from other parties in Parliament.

Viva Haaaarper! Viva! Viva!

Can we be a banana republic before bananas grow here and before we've been turned into a republic?

Well we live in an age where reality is what we say it is no matter what the evidence before our eyes might be so I say unreservedly yes we can.

Join me won't you?

Viva Haaaarper! Viva! Viva!

Cheney's thin line

It seems the uber-conservative Robert Novak is depressed. He can't stand what Bush did to Rumsfeld.

As though Rumsfeld had no part to play in the decision.

And, apparently Dick "I'll shoot you in the face" Cheney is "profoundly disturbed".

We all knew that though, didn't we?

Some people have suggested a short therapy session. The question is, "Who gets to be the therapist?"

Dick, though, has decided to leave the country for a while... to be with friends.

Personally, I'm waiting to hear something like this from the Chimpster: "I rely on the judgement of Vice-president Cheney. He's an invaluable advisor and friend. He's doing a heck of a job."

Do it while he's out of the country, George. That way he can't shoot you right away.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

It's Not News That Harper Supports Breakup of Federation

Twelve years ago, in 1994, a year before the last Quebec referendum, during a speech to the National Citizens Coalition, Stephen Harper said the following:

"Whether Canada ends up with one national government or two governments or 10 governments, the Canadian people will require less government no matter what the constitutional status or arrangement of any future country may be."

Why is the furor around his statement in Parliament yesterday furious?

It's never been a secret that his committment to the Canadian federation is wobbly at best and malevolent at worst. More recently than 12 years ago he recommended to Ralph Klein to essentially separate Alberta from the rest of Canada.

Was no one paying attention to what the man believed? Did they think he was just funnin' them, just joshin', just doin' the lip tango?

An awful lot of the people making loud unhappy noises today are the same people who shrieked at me and others that we were "fear mongers", "demonizers", "liars" and worse when we tried to bring up instances of Harper's historical utterances that indicated his soft support for the survival of Canada as a unified, independent nation.

I have nothing to say to you today. You've decided that opening wide the door to the breakup of the country is just a fine idea.

Harper continues to work toward achieving what he has always said he wants to achieve, that being the elimination of the federal government's presence in the lives of citizens.

He's just starting with Quebecers.

Since we're tossing around words and definitions...

Steve Harper's little bombshell is receiving enough comment everywhere that I don't feel the need to add anything.

However, I do have a question.

Since, suddenly, the word Nation is being tossed around freely and being applied in so many different ways, does that mean that appending it to a community or culture which is actually not a state diminishes it's meaning?

You know... like this word?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

October in Iraq - the deadliest month - ever

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq has nothing but bad news these days. In October 2006 UNAMI pegs the civilian Iraqi deaths at 3,709.

That number of people were killed in one month.

... the U.N. reported that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October, the highest monthly toll of the war and one that is sure to be eclipsed when November's dead are counted.
There's even more joyous news...

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq also said citizens were fleeing the country at a pace of 100,000 each month, and that at least 1.6 million Iraqis have left since the war began in March 2003.
Of course, certain elements of the Iraqi government disagree and the UN has had to identify sources.

The U.N. said its figures for civilian deaths were based on reports from the Iraqi Health Ministry, the country's hospitals and the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad. The previous monthly record was 3,590 for July.
And the Iraqi government still disagrees.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh called the U.N. report "inaccurate and exaggerated" because it was not based on official government reports.
So... we'll have to read the official government reports to get the actual figures.

Asked in a telephone interview if any such report existed, al-Dabbagh told the AP that one "was not available yet but it would be published later."
Ah, yes. "The dog ate my homework" defence. At least the Iraqi politicians are learning something from the Bush administration.

And the warhawks continue to ask, "Would you rather have Saddam in power?"

I wonder... do they really want an answer to that ridiculous question?

The Canadian Blog Awards Round 1 Results

The results of round 1 of voting for the 2006 Canadian Blog Awards are in and, wow! The Galloping Beaver is actually moving to round 2 in one category - Best Group Blog.

Here are the results of round 1 in the categories for which we were nominated:

Best Blog - 23rd

Best Progressive Blog - 14th

Best Group Blog - 4th (Moves to round 2)

Best Blog Post - 7th

Our thanks for nominating us and a huge thank you to those who voted for us. Round 2 voting starts Saturday and we would really like to encourage you to vote for us in the category of Best Group Blog.

We'll be heading over every day to vote for our favourites in each category.

Again thanks to everyone.

Who committed the first snub, Harper?

Dan McTeague, Opposition critic for foreign affairs and former parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, with special responsibility for Canadians abroad asks a very pertinent question: (All emphasis mine)

One wonders why Mr. Harper did not see fit to raise Mr. Celil's case with Chinese President Hu Jintao when they first met in St. Petersburg last July during the G-8? If Mr. Harper truly cared–or even knew–about Mr. Celil then, he would have raised the case right there, instead of having his aides spin a story later on that it was the Chinese that gave the cold shoulder.
I think that deserves an answer, particularly since Harper has been the one which created the chill with China. His human rights line is hardly believable anyway.

Rather then swallow Harper's vision of international affairs, our media should ask the prime minister just how many invitations he has received from the Chinese for a meeting since he assumed power. If sources in Foreign Affairs are to be believed, there have been at least two formal invitations for a high-level meeting–one arrived shortly after the Tories came to power. As the story goes, after collecting dust for some time, an answer finally was transmitted to the Chinese that the prime minister was too busy with internal affairs.
Yeah right. What was he doing? Organizing his media policy?

Kabuki theatre. This is the style over substance that has become the trademark of this bunch of incompetent asses.

NOBODY'S MOTHER Life Without Kids

I was crossing the Strait of Georgia in the Queen of Oak Bay - in gale force winds. The ship slamming about, most of the passengers feeling mildly seasick and boredom led me to pick up a BC Books magazine covering the latest offerings from BC authors.

I came across the full foreword Shelagh Rogers had written as her contribution to a new book edited by Lynne Van Luven: NOBODY'S MOTHER Life Without Kids.

Rogers forward was gripping. I can't normally say that about forwards to books because I rarely actually read them. In this instance, however, I had the foreword and no book. This excerpt provides the flavour of Shelagh's contribution:

“There are a lot of things I feel I am grasping at last: being comfortable in my own skin, beginning to feel oddly sexy at a time when Germaine Greer says women become invisible to society. I am excited about what the next act will bring. There's some mystery to it. But one thing I know for sure: it will not bring children I bear myself. And finally, I am happy with that."
The next day, driving south on Vancouver Island, I was listening to Shelagh Rogers' program on CBC. By coincidence she was interviewing the author and some of the contributors to the book. The whole program was fascinating.

Three women who, for reasons of their own, had each made a conscious decision not to have children. And, the social assault they each endured because they had not lived up to a "family model" or a "woman's purpose" laid out for them - by others. They described the questions:

- So, when are you going to have kids?
- Don’t leave it too long; it gets harder after 30.
- Can I expect a grandchild any time soon?
All the same questions. And, yes, I'm familiar with them.

Today’s young women are better educated and more independent than they have ever been; yet many of them still grapple with questions about society and their role within it. They wonder how best to combine their careers with satisfactory private lives. They are skeptical about feminism and unsure about their futures. Popular media has inundated them with a conflicting miscellany of terms: the Glass Ceiling; the Mommy Track; Double Income No Kids (DINK); and perhaps most unnerving of all, the Yummy Mummy.

In Nobody's Mother: Life Without Kids, editor Lynne Van Luven has brought together a thoughtful group of 21 women of various ages and backgrounds whose frank essays about being childless are probing, provocative and entertaining. Some of the essayists are child-free intentionally, some by circumstance, some by a simple twist of fate. But all the contributors to this lively anthology have one thing in common: they are content with their lives and do not view themselves as freaks or failures because they have not had children.
I haven't read the book yet, but after Shelagh Rogers' foreword and listening to the books contributors and editor on her show, I'll be looking forward to it.

Perhaps I can get Cheryl to do a report on it... since she could have been a very determined contributor.

Note: Error in the spelling of "foreword" corrected. All other grammatical errors will remain for aesthetic purposes.

The Conservatives pushing on doors marked pull

Harper seems to be clueless when it comes to getting legislation through Parliament. His approach seems to be that because his party won a plurality, Canadians expect that the policies of his party are the ones Canadians want enacted.

Does Harper have difficulty understanding that he has a minority government? A majority of Canadians elected members from other parties. Most Canadians don't agree with the Conservative agenda. They want something else.

Since April the Conservatives have introduced 30 separate bills. Four have made it to the Governor General for Royal Assent.

So far, four bills have received Royal Assent. Two of them are money bills related to the March budget. One was an amendment to the Elections Act on party registration while the last bill was to approve funds for the agricultural sector.
The most contentious bills have gone nowhere fast. Most are stalled in committee and almost all of them have been sent back to the Commons with amendments the Conservatives find unacceptable.

Because they don't seem to understand how a minority government works.

Harper, when confronted on the hold-ups being produced by the opposition on his various "crime" bills, (11 in total), produced his typical petulant response:

Canadians elected this Parliament — not just the Conservative party. They expected all parties to be tough on crime ...
He just doesn't get it.

Canadians didn't elect the Conservative party to run a Conservative party agenda. The Parliament Canadians elected put the Conservatives on an extremely short leash. Just because the Conservatives received a plurality and were invited to form a government doesn't suggest they have free reign. The make up of Parliament is a reflection of what the country actually wanted and that means compromise.

The reason Parliament is a legislative quagmire at the moment is that Harper can't seem to get it through his head that Canadians want the legislation closely scrutinized and they want the tempering effect of opposition amendments. If Harper really wanted his "tough on crime" platform to pass committee he would have to accept that what Canadian voters handed him was an opportunity to compromise and meet Canadians in the middle. His failure to do that is a demonstration of his lack of willingness to govern this country they way Canadians would like it governed, with the tools Canadians gave him.

Couple that with a series of foreign policy disasters and it makes one wonder what this guy really thinks he was handed in the last election.

Wagging a human-rights finger at an Asian super-power is all well and good but if the timing is bad and the results are completely ineffective he comes off looking like a failure. And, when it comes to wagging fingers at super-powers, he seems quite comfortable ignoring the abuses of power exercised by a US presidential administration that is perhaps the worst in that country's history, supported, until recently, by a party which has been brimming over with corruption, scandal and acts of incredible incompetence.

While he's doing that his Environment minister goes to a conference in Africa and gets herself taken to the woodshed by anybody who could get close to a dias. To complicate matters, the woman who would be queen, at a UN conference, blathers on with a domestic political speech which was completely out of place at an international event.

It hasn't helped that in order to get information on Harper's activities at the APEC summit, Canadians had to wait until information was provided, not by Harper's communications staff, but by others - from other delegations.

A broad examination provides that Harper's government is incompetent in terms of foreign policy, has snuggled in with the worst president in US history and cannot comes to terms with its own parliamentary limitations.

They're loud, but they don't get much done.

One should never confuse motion with action.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Richard Cohen steps over the line... WAY over.

I've never found Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen terribly coherent. In his latest outing in the Post's Op-Ed pages though, he came across loud and clear. He thinks a good war is good national therapy for a depressed population.

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings tears Cohen a new one and makes one distinct recommendation: find another job and quit doing damage to your country.

CathiefromCanada issues Cohen a membership in the Pundit Hall of Shame along with the Doughy Pantload, Jonah Goldberg and "My brain is visible on my upper lip" Tom Friedman.

So what could Cohen have possibly said that got him covered in the same excrement as the dumbest pundits in North America? This:

In a post-Sept. 11 world, I thought the prudent use of violence could be therapeutic.

Cohen precedes this line, which will become famous very quickly, with the story of the four "I"s. It is his mind going in four directions. One favouring the war in Vietnam, one opposing it, one favouring the war in Iraq and one opposing it.

Of note is that Cohen was in favour of the war in Vietnam when there was no indication that it would become the unwinnable quagmire of the late 1960s. He changed his mind, a full 180 degree turn, not out of an assessment of the morality of the cause, but out of a sense of useless waste in actually perhaps putting himself at risk fighting a war that the US was obviously going to lose.

He repeats this performance over Iraq. When it was being billed as the cakewalk of the century, troops greeted with flowers and candy, he is a cheerleader for giving Iraq a good thumping. Now that it looks completely unwinnable and Baby Bush has screwed the pooch, Cohen finds that he no longer supports war in Iraq.

In short, Cohen is a quitter. He pulls his support the minute it looks like he's pulling for a loser.

He deserves the severe raking he's getting from so many quarters right now. Not just for that comment, but for what he continued with:

The United States had the power to change things for the better, and those who would do the changing -- the fighting -- were, after all, volunteers. This mattered to me.
So. Fucking. What.

I guess in the eyes of Cohen a volunteer bleeds differently than a draftee. The men and women being sent into the Iraqi cauldron must somehow be viewed differently than the ones sent into the jungles of Vietnam.

Cohen embellishes his sudden disapproval for the Vietnam war as coming at a time when he was "in the army". Let us take heart in that. Cohen did serve, but not in Vietnam. Cohen was a member of the National Guard.

His new disapproval of the Iraq war, because the US is losing should be tossed back in his face.

But these volunteers are now fighting a war few envisaged and no one wanted
Horseshit, Cohen.

A lot of people saw it coming. But you were with the crowd, cheering on the Rumsfelds, Cheneys, Feiths, Wolfowitzs and Perles. You couldn't hear an entire segment of the US population and some prominent members of the world community telling you that what you have now is exactly what was being envisaged.

That would make you unbelievably stupid, Cohen.

Goodbye to an old grey cold warrior

HMCS Huron is about to become a target. Built in the early 1970s, she served most of her early years, with all of her sister ships, in the Atlantic. That was a result of admirals and politicians who had eastward looking eyes and couldn't pry themselves away from World War II.

Huron was the first of Canada's 280 class destroyers to be sent to the Pacific. Regardless of what anyone says, she was something of a disappointment. The Canadian navy was struggling with budget problems and, while they hyped the ship to our USN counterparts, she was nowhere near as capable as advertised in her 1970s configuration.

She and her three sister ships were modernized in the 1990s. The anti-submarine role for which they had originally been built took second place to a new role as an area defence ship. When Huron and her sisters emerged from modernization refits they were highly capable. They could defend a task group against anything that flew.

She is an old ship now, as are all the 280 class destroyers. Three decades is a long time for a warship, especially a small one like a destroyer, and Canada works them hard.

Huron, however, was fated to retire early. It's not that she wasn't capable but, budget cuts and a horrific attrition rate among naval trades left the navy with too few people to man a very small number of ships. Huron suffered the kiss of death: cold reserve.

No ship in the Canadian navy has ever come out of cold reserve.

In March 2006, HMCS Huron was officially decommissioned. Last Wednesday it was announced that she would be disposed of, after being completely stripped-out, as a target ship.

It doesn't matter how she dies. The Canadian navy needs to make it clear that our ocean-going navy is now one more ship smaller. That means quit advertising four destroyers. There are three and you can bet that HMCS Athabaskan is going to go soon.

There is a concept configuration for replacement ships, sort of. They even have a weapons package picked out for them. But, no ships on the drawing board. And, they won't be there as long as the clowns at Fort Fumble on the Rideau have ridiculous visions of armed ice-breakers dancing in their heads.

For all her faults, Huron was a pretty good ship. I can't say I liked that long haul to the Operations Room and the Bridge always felt like it was designed by people who had watched too much Sesame Street.

While it may sound a little odd to be blowing up a ship which underwent extensive modification within the last decade, we at least got some service out of our older ships.

These guys are blowing up the good stuff.

Monday, November 20, 2006

You may be a Fundie if...

Our favourite Aussie atheist has a great post detailing the top ten things that may make you a Christian Fundamentalist.

After reading it I realized it could be any religious fundamentalist, but most religions don't have the extensive array of television networks that the fundie preachers have.

Go. It's fun.

One year, two weeks, two days. 100,000 visits

We started this blog on November 4th, 2005... late in the evening PST. Sometime in the next 12 hours we will have received our 100,000th visit.

We do watch our stats. That's a function of trying to ensure that what is being posted is of interest to readers. Beyond that... it's all a matter of having something of a purpose... OK, OK, it's an ego thing.

It started with me, having written feature columns for community newspapers, recognizing that blogs were, in fact, a new form of media. They were personal. They could be shaped based on the author or authors. They were, and are, the 21st Century version of the product of pamphleteers.

Originally, it was just going to be me pushing the qwerty keys. Then the very intelligent, diligent and sexy Cheryl entered with her own unique style.

Later on, as a result of some of the comments to posts and some links to other blogs, we asked others to use The Galloping Beaver as a forum for their ideas and views. That brought Dana, Boris and Laura onto the page with their own point of view and a broader look at the world.

The deal here is simple. We post when we can, what we want. Each of us has a full life involving work, friends and family and those aspects always take precedence over a few words on an electronic page. For that reason, there will always be occasional gaps - but we'll always be back and we're probably going to piss in someone's cornflakes.

This is an invigorating pastime. You could even call it a hobby, although that would be less than accurate. There is something of an avocation about it. For that reason then, we will always avoid advertising bars and we will never ask for donations. I understand why the big full-time blogs do it and accept that they put much more time into this activity than we ever will. And, for that reason we will never be a "scoop" blog and we will quite happily remain in the large herd of small blogs.

We don't break stories or news. We comment on it and often point out the items you may not notice in your daily reading.

The best part, however, is the sense of community which has come from blogging. The blog roll to the right are people we have never met, in most cases, but have come to know through communications and sharing of information. They all produce incredible stuff and will entertain, excite and, sometimes, anger. They're all worth the read. Actually, it would be nice to have them all over for a barbeque:

Glazed, apple stuffed, smoked pork tenderloin;
Slow roast baby potatoes with a parmesan sauce;
Seared grilled and herbed summer vegetables;
Freshly completed T1 tax return completed by the incredible and delectible Cheryl.

But I digress...

We're having fun with this. We hope you enjoy reading it. And, we thank all of our readers for giving The Galloping Beaver a challenging and discriminating audience.

Update (and clarification) from Cheryl:

There will be NO tax returns done without first plying me with copious amounts of alcohol (preferably white wine). And Dave forgot dessert...fresh fruits and berries, soaked in white wine and cinnamon (until they're the size of footballs), served over French vanilla ice cream, with an almond biscotti on the side.

Update: At 8:49 PM PST visit number 100,000 pushed the turnstyle from their keyboard in Edmonton, Alberta.

And, as we approached that number it is only appropriate to point out that our longest reaching visitor was from Australia, just a few numbers away from the grand prize. (There is a prize... right?)