Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Lefty Awards

The Lefty's
Engaged Spectator has organized a Lefty Blog Awards. April Reign provided the art. As you can see there is lots of great competition and, yes, The Galloping Beaver is nominated.

I like this one. It's simple and clean. You can nominate here. Nominations close 14 July, so get your favourite left-leaning blogs in there.

The LAST meme

Too many memes. Too many people tagging me. First it was The Eternal Gaijin (who's getting added to the blogroll soon) and then skdadl over at POGGE (who is already on the blogroll).

I'll do this one, but jeez, by the time I get around to tagging anybody, they've already been tapped. That and these things make me a mite uncomfortable. However, I will do this one... but it's the last one... evah!

8 Random Facts/Habits: First the rules

1. All right, here are the rules.
2. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
3. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
4. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
5. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

1. I love dogs, but don't own one. Therefore I occasionally look after the neighbour's Golden Retreiver;
2. I have been shot twice but have three "wound stripes". On both occasions I yelled, Jesus FUCKING Christ! In that I am a solid non-believer, I was neither blaming him nor asking for his assistance. I should have yelled MEDIC!
3. I am allergic to cats but think they are a superior form of pet. They can say "Asshole" with a simple look.
4. I can tell you the identity of any of a large number of Killer Whales by the sound they are making.
5. I command ships for a living. Anything from floating gin-palaces to tugs. I try to avoid periods in command when the National Review or the Western Standard is likely to be holding a cruise/seminar.
6. I get up early, go for coffee downtown, then come home and start my day. Whatever happens after that is unscheduled.
7. I dislike John Wayne movies. Regardless of the theme/topic/story, it's always a John Wayne movie. The Longest Day might have been a good movie until John Wayne appeared in it.
8. I find the women of my generation sexier than those of a younger generation. They are intelligent, sophisticated, adventurous and do not overuse the word awesome.

And now to the tags

Beep Beep! It's me!
Engaged Spectator
Hope & Onions
Red Jenny
The Wingnuterer (both of them)
Woman at Mile 0

If you have already been tagged for this meme please ignore this notice. It's been a pleasure doing business with you and we look forward to being able to serve you in the future.

And the Canadian Embassy reacts

You can have an effect. From comments to this post Celeste reports: (Emphasis mine)
They have taken the link down, this is their reply to my email:

Dear Ms (snip)

Thank you for your email regarding a post made this week in the blog
"Right Wing Girl" and the our article about the Canadian Angels website
from a 2006 edition of the Connect2Canada newsletter.

Our mention of Canadian Angels was made over a year ago. We have now
removed that reference to the Canadian Angels site from the
Connect2Canada website and newsletter and will not make future references
to it.

Thank you again for your message. We very much value the feedback of
Connect2Canada members.


Bernard Etzinger
Connect2Canada team
Canadian Embassy, Washington, DC
And I can verify that, in fact, the link has been removed. For that I will commend the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C. for quickly taking appropriate action once they were made aware of the problem.

The credit for bringing this matter to the attention of the Canadian Embassy goes to our readers for taking direct action and to the bloggers who made certain the word got out: Scott, Paladiea, JJ, Scout, Dr. Dawg and CC. If there are others who have not shown up on my link-track yet, please let me know in comments.

And I'll quote Canadian Cynic:
And if you listen carefully, you can almost hear the growing whine of "censorship" from the Canadian dumbfuck-o-sphere. Just wait for it -- you know it's coming.
Yup. Count on it. I've already read one apologist for GOTR's hate-filled rant. It's an excuse - not a reason. I don't care what motivates Wendy Sullivan. She singled out a societal group and spewed unsubstantiated, unrestrained hatred on them from her own public forum. Any attempt to paint her as a victim is simply buying into her viral behaviour.

However, here's the rub.

I don't care what Sullivan writes. She can say anything she wants. Any rational, thinking being would recognize her for what she is. And her fans will remain incurable in any case. Being a bigot and a racist is easy. It doesn't take any thought. In that regard, we have just as much freedom to point it out to others.

I don't care who sponsors her or who choses to advertise on her site. But she doesn't get to spout her venom publicly in one place and then promote herself in another on my taxpayer's dollar. Not without an attempt to prevent it.

Birthday wishes for the idiot

Don't get too excited. This is what the Republican National Committee is spreading via email. Apparently there is some significance to Bush making it to age 61.

It was accompanied by this:
In a few short days, President Bush will celebrate his 61st Birthday. Don't miss out on this opportunity to wish the President a Happy Birthday by signing the RNC's eCard today.

To make this an extra special birthday on July 6, Mrs. Bush will be presenting our President with this birthday wish from supporters like you.

Extra speshul! And then it was followed by this:

And if you can, I hope you will consider celebrating President Bush's birthday with a gift our entire Party can share. Your secure online donation of $61 (or whatever you can afford) will help keep the RNC's preparations for electing more Republicans in the 2007-2008 election cycle on track.
Hmmm. Then this.
P.S. This is your last chance to join the First Lady in making this an extra special birthday celebration for our President - please take a moment to sign the Birthday eCard today.

What to say, what to say?

Dear Junior,

Think about this. The world would have been so much better a place if, sometime 62 years ago, your father had used a condom.

h/t West End Bound

That was fast!

Transport Canada is trying to deflect the effects of this.
Two boys named Alistair Butt, one from Saskatchewan and one from Ontario, were stopped while trying to board flights last week because their name matches a name that appears on a no-fly list.

The Ontario boy, a 15-year-old from the Ottawa-area town of Orléans, was trying to check in to an Air Canada flight from Montreal to St. John's when he was told he couldn't board.

The Saskatoon boy, who's 10, was also told he couldn't get on an Air Canada flight, although it is not clear what airport he was stopped at.

Both boys were eventually allowed to board, once they were cleared by security after long delays, but their families fear they will face the same problem every time they try to fly.

"Canada is telling him he's guilty until proven innocent every time he flies," the Ontario boy's mother, Heather Butt, told CBC News.

Heather said an airline official at the airport could not say what no-fly list her son's name is on, and how to get it off.

"We said, 'What do we do?' and then, much to our amazement, she said we could possibly change our child's name," Heather said.

But nobody will tell anybody which list these names are actually on.

Transport Canada won't confirm if the boys are on a United States no-fly list, an airline no-fly list or Canada's new no-fly list, which went into effect on June 18.

Canada's list, believed to contain fewer than 1,000 names, is operated by Transport Canada. All domestic airline passengers' names are checked against a list of people deemed to be threats.

The list is not be available to the public, which means those on it will only find out when they try to travel.

Transport Canada advises families to appeal

Allan Kagedan, a Transport Canada spokesman, advised the Butt families to appeal to the organizations operating all three lists.

"You can approach all three, I suppose, and they can guide you in terms of doing what's needed to try to avoid problems in the future," he said.

He would not confirm which list contains the Alistair Butt name.

Because if it's one way to defend a fucked-up process it's by keeping everything about it secret.

Air Canada said it's working hard to prevent delays to passengers and stressed that both boys were eventually allowed on their flights.

"We regret any inconvenience, but security must remain of paramount concern," the airline said in a statement.

What security? This gives the facade of security while providing nothing.

Question to Air Canada, Transport Canada and the Minister of Public Safety: Do you clowns truly believe that someone intent on bringing down an aircraft, who is known enough to authorities to appear on a secret list, is likely to check in using their true identity?

Update: As Darren points out, if by changing his name Alistair Butt gets his name taken off the no-fly list, that is all any potential terrorist has to do.

As I said above, there is no security here. Not only would this not withstand a Charter challenge, it could conceivably provide cover for someone actually intent on bringing down an aircraft.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Does the Canadian Embassy check anything out?

I don't pay a great deal of attention to the blog ramblings of the deranged-right. The first indication that the worldview expressed is likely to be limited by seriously blocked synaptic clefts is a homepage banner which, although on a Canadian blog, is based solely on an American flag. (I like the American flag - on American sites.)

Wendy Sullivan goes overboard:
As opposed to the other 364 days When the Natives do absolutely nothing except smoke, drink and fuck their daughters. This Friday will mark the Native Day of Action(tm) here in Canada. It's their chance to whine and complain that us white guys who pay 45% in income tax to support their smoking, drinking and daughter-fucking are ripping them off.
If I have to explain to you that this is racist hate mongering, then perhaps you're here by accident.

Sullivan is taken to these kinds of hate-filled little rants. We know that. For the most part, we ignore her.

Fast forward to Washington D.C. and the Canadian Embassy Connect2Canada site where Sullivan is getting props from the embassy staff.
A Little TLC for Troops Fighting the Taliban
Yeah, interesting initiative, but the organizer is a hate-spewing racist. Canadian values? Makes you wonder if the Canadian Embassy in Washington really knows who they're dealing with.

I think I'll let them know. Here.

Gee, I wish I was a man - then I could be smart

Me thinks Hyundai needs a few women on their advertising team.

Memo to Hyundai: You offend me...I don't buy from you. And I let everyone know.

Let's hold Harper to his own standard

O'Connor Death Watch - 291645Z Jun 07

When it comes to selecting a new Minister of National Defence, (since the current one is presently on a Death Watch), we have to remember that Steve Harper, man of action, said this on 31 May 2007:
“When the leader of the Opposition is able to stand in uniform and serve his country, then I will care about his opinion of the performance of the minister of National Defence.”

Which sort of, you know, provides the type of experience and qualifications Steve expects from his Minister of National Defence.

From comments on this post:
People are talking a lot about who will replace O'Connor. But what about Harper saying that unless you've served in the military you are incompetent to comment, advise or critique the military? That statement certainly limits the pool Harper has to work with. Prentice, Day, Strahl, Bernier, and the rest are out based on Harper's qualifications.
In fact, that eliminates Harper himself, but that's pretty much beside the point.

Given Harper's standard the only people who would actually meet that requirements are:

John Cummins - Served 3 years in the Lorne Scots of the Reserve Militia;

Peter Goldring - Served 3 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force;

Laurie Hawn - Served 30 years in the RCAF and CF as a pilot;

Pierre Lemieux - Served 20 years in the Canadian Forces;

Myron Thompson - Served 2 years in the US Army.*

O'Connor, of course, is excluded from the list since he presently holds the position and is hanging on by his fingernails.

Of the others, only Laurie Hawn and Pierre Lemieux have any extensive experience. The others were "short-termers" and did not advance into senior non-commissioned or commissioned ranks. *Myron Thompson really doesn't qualify at all since his service was with the US Army, as a US citizen and was presumably as a result of being drafted.

This all depends on Harper actually living by his own words. And we all know that Harper good at words; not so good at sticking by them.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm Spartacus!

Melissa and company took a serious hit with a D.O.S. attack. Shakesville is down for a little while.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker and Blue Gal pulled the pin out.

You can find all the Shakers at their old place here.

Give Big Media a one way ticket to the garbage disposal

I'm sure there are a large number of others pointing this out, but for the time being, Red Jenny and Canadian Cynic have the direct links to deal with this problem.

In the past month six different Big Media groups have merged to create three. The Canadian media landscape is now a virtual oligopoly and everything you read, hear and see in the media originates with a handful of large corporations.

Media convergence, where Big Media owns the TV stations, the radio stations, the newspapers and the online sites under the same corporate banner stifles the flow of information and reduces the diversity of voices.

Big Media is about maximizing profit; not about reporting the truth and not about offering diversity. Further, the corporate head offices have already demonstrated that they are unable to remain neutral with respect to the editorial policy of their media enterprizes, regardless of promises to the contrary, and they inject the political will of the corporation, not the local editorial board, on the full range of their media organs.

It needs to be stopped. Now.
Media diversity is the cornerstone of democracy. But media ownership is more highly concentrated in Canada than almost anywhere else in the industrialized world. Almost all private Canadian television stations are owned by national media conglomerates and, because of increasing cross-ownership, most of the daily newspapers we read are owned by the same corporations that own television and radio stations.

This means a handful of Big Media Conglomerates control what Canadians can most readily see, hear and read. It means less local and regional content, more direct control over content by owners and less analysis of the events that shape our lives. It also means less media choice for Canadians and fewer jobs for Canadian media workers.

We must also be wary of the impacts mergers have on the diversity and neutrality of new on-line media. We need to reverse this trend before big media gets even bigger!

Send a pre-formatted message to the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission by going here. It will only take a minute and with enough input, it will make a difference.

Go. You've spent enough time here. Go now.

The O'Connor death watch has begun

Via Jeff, this report from the Globe and Mail details Gordon O'Connor's defiant response to questions as to whether he is resigning his post as Minister of National Defence.
A defiant Gordon O'Connor said yesterday he has no intention of quitting as Defence Minister, and warned his critics not to assume he is about to turfed from the portfolio in a widely expected cabinet shuffle.

"I can assure you of one thing: I'm not retiring and I'm not resigning," Mr. O'Connor told reporters at a military conference in Kingston. "And if you want to run a pool, go ahead. You're going to lose."

I'll take July 20th.

The minister told the conference he expects to deliver the government's long-awaited policy paper, which will include elements of the government's current policy in support of the Afghanistan mission, by the end of the summer.
"Long awaited". As in, way overdue. What's the rush, Gordo? You've only been promising it since the summer of 2006.

The G&M, undeterred by O'Connor's statement, went on to speculate on the possible choices to fill the MND role when O'Connor is turfed this summer. Oh... how do we know that? Well this is pretty telling:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to respond last week when he was asked about a potential realignment of the cabinet and whether it would involve Mr. O'Connor. But neither did Mr. Harper jump to express continued confidence in his Defence Minister, who has been criticized for his handling of several files, including the treatment of detainees and the payment of funeral costs for soldiers killed in the line of duty.
And why don't we pour a little gasoline on that fire.

Mr. O'Connor came to the defence of the Afghan mission in his speech yesterday to the conference on "stability operations," insisting the Afghan army was making such great strides that he could foresee the day when it could take over much of the combat mission now being handled by Canada's 2,500 troops based in Kandahar.

Yet at the same time, Mr. O'Connor was blunt in his assessment of the long-term prospects for Afghanistan, using the kind of unsubtle language that has got him into political hot water before. "Afghanistan has always been a land of instability," he said in response to a conference questioner, adding later, that "I think the area is always going to be unstable."

He said the security situation along the border with Pakistan remains difficult to police, in part because there are millions of ethnic Pashtuns in both countries. "There is a steady stream of insurgents coming across the border," he said.

Later, he tried to temper those comments when asked about them by reporters. "What I'm saying is that Afghanistan is in an unstable region and there will always be challenges to Afghanistan. Our job and NATO's job is to try and create a state that is stable enough to handle its own affairs so it can govern efficiently."


That's not the same mission we were all told about. We were told that the mission was to transform Afghanistan, and now O'Connor is telling us that isn't possible. We've been saying that all along.

Gordon. Pack your kit. Steve is going to fire you.

Two senior cabinet members, Industry Minister Maxime Bernier and Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, have been touted as the most likely successors to Mr. O'Connor at Defence.
And why Maxime "deregulate everything" Bernier?

Mr. Bernier's name has been cited by Conservatives who believe a Quebec minister would make the best spokesman for the mission when the Quebec-based Royal 22nd Regiment deploys to Kandahar.
Wow. What a reason! OK, so why does Stockwell Day get consideration?

Mr. Day, meanwhile, is seen by many Tories as a surprise success because he has avoided major public pitfalls in a portfolio plagued with tricky issues and bad news, including a spate of RCMP controversies.
That's because Day is off in la-la-land pursuing his superstitious beliefs, making things up about people and failing to provide accurate answers on anything and everything. He has only avoided the public pitfalls because he runs and hides when things get tough and the news media has been giving him a free ride. If his feet had been held to the fire when he screwed up, or if others within his portfolio screwed up, he'd be in the same boat as O'Connor right now.

It doesn't really matter. They're all a bunch of boobs. O'Connor is a liability in his present seat, so it doesn't really matter who they put in the seat.

In any case, watch the calendar and watch O'Connor. And watch the defence policy paper take even longer.

Five Ring Circus Spin

Organizers of the 2010 Five Ring Circus claim to have spurred the creation of 1,109 new units of social housing in Vancouver.
"But a Tyee review of the 1,109 units cited in the Olympic partners report finds shelter beds being counted as housing units, pre-existing units being claimed as new housing, and a double-counting of the 250 units of athlete housing at False Creek -- which will not necessarily become low-income housing after the Games."
The Tyee has also found that all but one of the remaining projects were approved and funded years before the Olympic bid was awarded in July of 2003.

You're really surprised by this news, I can tell.
Say, how much has VANOC set aside to give themselves raises again? Oh, yeah - $44 million.

David Eby from Pivot Legal Society points out that $44mil, along with the $64mil the city is expected to reap on the SE False Creek Project and the $250mil provincial housing budget, would be enough to build 3,200 units of new supportive housing.
The 3,200 figure represents VANOC's own assessment of the number of new housing units required in order to ensure the Olympics would not contribute to rising homelessness.
The Olympics has been an insidious covert form of "urban renewal" for decades now. The Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions estimates that Olympic events in seven cities in the last 20 years has resulted in the displacement of over two million people.

Not entirely oblivious to the sullying of its reputation by corporate greed, the IOC has implemented an ethical review sytem to evaluate the housing situation in cities two years following the games.
Having fucked up the opportunity to get the homeless off the streets by 2010 by providing them with shelter, VANOC and Sullivan and Campbell will presumably now need to resort to 'street cleansing', the further criminalization of the very people whose homelessness they have contributed to in the first place.

It isn't the heat, its the stupidity

Norbiz riffs on the results of this survey.
"6. Do you think Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was directly involved in planning, financing, or carrying out the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001? 50% say "stop fucking asking that already," the other half is divided into "yes, I am dumber than fucking horseshit" (41%) and "[blank stare]" (9%). The number of shit-dumb Americans has increased by 5 percentage points over the last three years."
I'm guessing the 22% who thought the Amazon was located in Africa or the 3% who thought it was in North America, make up the bulk of the 26% of the people who still back Bush.

The Oosterdam weekend

They all got together to reinforce their warped view of the world. The guts of the Republican party on the National Review cruise. They chose as their venue the opulence of a modern cruise ship. No longer a conveyance which brought throngs of immigrants to their young country, today such vessels are an "almost all inclusive resort".

In the lounges and on the decks of MS Oosterdam they could cheer on their war, backslap their achievements and let the testosterone flow undeterred by any form of rational argument from any quarter outside their privileged clique.

Johann Hari of the Independent documented his observations in The New Republic. (Registration required). Beyond the clash of egos which would be inevitable at such a gathering, he illustrates the prejudice and bigotry of the modern conservative ruling class. But more than that, he provides the proof of what they really believe to be the truth.

They know. And by knowing and not honestly addressing that which they know to be fact, they are liars.

There is something strange about this discussion, and it takes me a few moments to realize exactly what it is. All the tropes conservatives usually deny in public--that Iraq is another Vietnam, that Bush is fighting a class war on behalf of the rich--are embraced on this shining ship in the middle of the ocean. Yes, they concede, we are fighting another Vietnam; and this time we won't let the weak-kneed liberals lose it. "It's customary to say we lost the Vietnam war, but who's 'we'?" Dinesh D'Souza asks angrily. "The left won by demanding America's humiliation." On this ship, there are no Viet Cong, no three million dead. There is only liberal treachery. Yes, D'Souza says, in a swift shift to domestic politics, "of course" Republican politics is "about class. Republicans are the party of winners, Democrats are the party of losers."

The panel nods, but it doesn't want to stray from Iraq. Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan's one-time nominee to the Supreme Court, mumbles from beneath low-hanging jowls: "The coverage of this war is unbelievable. Even Fox News is unbelievable. You'd think we're the only ones dying. Enemy casualties aren't covered. We're doing an excellent job killing them."

Then, with a judder, the panel runs momentarily aground. Rich Lowry, the preppy, handsome 38-year-old editor of National Review, announces, "The American public isn't concluding we're losing in Iraq for any irrational reason. They're looking at the cold, hard facts." The Vista Lounge is, as one, perplexed. Lowry continues, "I wish it was true that, because we're a superpower, we can't lose. But it's not."

Was it a good ride? Not the cruise; the last seven years.

As they bask in the delights of formal dining rooms, a multitude of bars and rich furnishings, their countrymen fight and die in a hellhole. A country is shattered beyond recognition. Countless thousands of people have died or have been displaced or simply rot in despair because of this luxury absorbing crowd.

They are not at war. They are playing at it. Suffering is the lot of others, be they Iraqis they care nothing for, or their own countrymen, separated by class and privilege. This is their war only in the sense that the American flag pin they wear on their formal dining attire is similar to the patch worn on the shoulder of some tour-extended, hapless grunt who only wants to get out of the whole mess alive.

It's clear now. These are the spawn of the Reagan Cold Warriors. Iraq is nothing more to them than a "redo". This is the make-up exam for the failure in Vietnam.

No matter what excuse they produce for invading and laying waste to Iraq, the real reason is now out there for all to see. The war in Iraq is being fought to even the score.

And, as in Vietnam, the privileged-class does none of the fighting. That falls to the "wasted" class. Nothing but movable pieces on a folding game board. The real war is the one they are waging on their own citizens as they exact a price for their sense of humiliation over Vietnam.

They are walking disasters; a waste of good air. May they choke on the failure they are about to perpetrate on themselves.

MORE, MORE!! Sadly, No!, Steynwatch and James Wolcott all have different cuts on the oceanic gathering of the worst of the right-wingers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"We didn't do it, nobody saw us, and when we apologized for it, we didn't really mean it"

Some days I think I either need to get a new job, have my conscience sugically removed or simply have my jaw wired shut.

Get facts straight on comfort women
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee has adopted a resolution demanding an apology from Japan over the so-called comfort women. But the resolution was produced based on an erroneous perception of the facts.
The Japanese government should try to unravel the U.S. side's misinterpretation of history in order to remove a source of future trouble, while in the meantime working to block passage of the resolution by the full House of Representatives.
The resolution calls for the government to accept historical responsibility and apologize for "its Imperial Armed Forces' coercion of young women into sexual slavery." It describes "the comfort women system" as "one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century."
The resolution was made without verifying the facts and smacks of cheap rhetoric. It makes us doubt the intelligence of U.S. lawmakers.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed "sympathy from the bottom of my heart" and said he "felt sorry" during his meetings with U.S. President George W. Bush and congressional leaders during his visit to Washington in April. The prime minister also said that the 20th century was a century of human rights violations and Japan was not totally blameless.
Abe's remarks did not postpone adoption of the resolution by the lower house committee.
The resolution is merely one of many adopted at the U.S. Congress. It does not have any legal binding force. Thus, some observers say Japan does not have to take it seriously.

Govt must dispute false charges

But this is the wrong conclusion to draw. If Japan refrains from making counterarguments, this erroneous historical view will become accepted as established fact.
Before World War II, there were many women who were put to work as comfort women against their will by parents and brokers. But this does not mean the Japanese military coerced the women.
In past studies, no evidence has been found showing "coercive recruitment of comfort women by military personnel or government officials." The government explicitly presented this observation in March in response to a question by an opposition lawmaker.
On what is the resolution based? Reportedly the 1993 statement by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono played a significant part.
The statement said that Japanese military and officials were "directly or indirectly involved in...the transfer of comfort women." Such wording apparently led to the misapprehension that there was coercive recruitment.

Kono apology politically driven
The 1993 statement was motivated by a political desire to deflect pressure from South Korea on the comfort women issue. And it has helped broaden the misunderstanding.
Apparently out of diplomatic consideration, Abe has said he stands by the Kono statement. But as long as the prime minister takes this position, the misunderstanding of coercive recruitment will never disappear. If the statement is found to be erroneous, it should be rewritten without hesitation.
In March, Foreign Minister Taro Aso referred to the lobbying in support of the resolution as an "operation to estrange Japan and the United States." Anti-Japan forces in the United States linked with Chinese and South Koreans have exercised their influence behind the scenes on behalf of the resolution.
If the matter is left unaddressed, further demands for apologies will be repeated. The government must methodically elucidate the historical truths involved in the issue.
(from The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 28)

If anyone is looking for me, I'll be in the shower for a few days

William Hutt, 1920-2007

I had the privilege of working with William Hutt when he came to The Vancouver Playhouse to play Thomas More in "A Man For All Seasons" during the 1984-85 theatre season. Twenty-two years ago.

Today has been befuddled in years and remembrance.

The memory of the scenes we played together has dimmed with time but one memory has remained most vivid.

During the interval one evening, the cast sitting around in the Green Room, I related a story that caused that remarkable face to suddenly burst into a full throated roar of laughter that only an actor's larynx can produce.

I love that memory.

We have lost a great artist today, one of the finest Shakespearean actors of the 20th century and perhaps the greatest stage actor this country has ever produced.

It is said he wants his tombstone to say, simply, "Soldier and Actor."

"He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again."

Second-rate pundits. And Mark Steyn too.

Chet nails the American pundit-class right between the eyebrows:
One of the biggest problems that the United States has today is that it has very few public intellectuals, as most other countries do. And most of the Americans who are standing in the position that public intellectuals hold in other countries -- namely, the pundit class -- are astonishingly second-rate. At their best, they're people like George Will and David Broder, who express themselves moderately but have never had a real idea in their entire lives. At their worst, they're abusive freakshows like Coulter and Christopher Hitchens.
Then Jill points out the hypocrisy of one of the most vitriolic of that group, Ann Coulter, and the law Coulter recently ignored:
(a) Whoever, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against property or against the person of another in violation of the laws of the United States, and under circumstances strongly corroborative of that intent, solicits, commands, induces, or otherwise endeavors to persuade such other person to engage in such conduct, shall be imprisoned not more than one-half the maximum term of imprisonment or (notwithstanding section 3571) fined not more than one-half of the maximum fine prescribed for the punishment of the crime solicited, or both; or if the crime solicited is punishable by life imprisonment or death, shall be imprisoned for not more than twenty years. 18 U.S.C. § 373(a).
You might feel Chet and Jill have identified Teh Stupid pretty well. Then along comes Mark Steyn who adds a dimension to the world of right-wing punditry that will leave you slack-jawed. In reference to the current Immigration Reform Bill before Congress: (Which has the right-wingers pissing themselves)
There's something creepy about a political class so determined to impose a vast transformative bill cooked up backstage in metaphorically smoke-filled rooms on a nation that doesn't want it. It's an affront to republican government and quasi-European in its disdain for the citizenry.
Jesusfuckingchrist. Creepy? Ya think?!!

Where to begin, where to begin?! This is a veritable quicksand of irony and hypocrisy.

Let's not even mention the lies, deception, subterfuge and threats used to justify an invasion of Iraq. No, no. Let's go closer to the bone, Steyn.

Can you say Surge?

Can you say Abstinence Only?

Can you say Warrantless Domestic Electronic Eavesdropping?

Can you say Unprecedented Christian Fundamentalist Influence in Government?

Can you say Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Torture?

Can you say... DICK CHENEY?

Yeah, the "citizenry" of the United States wasn't shown any disdain there, were they?

And speaking of citizens. A Canadian citizen and protege of Conrad Black, film-critic turned political-pundit, with a multi-inflected British accent, living in New Hampshire, claiming an affront by a US government which he has no part in choosing?

Welcome to the real world, Steyn. Welcome to what you helped create. Chew on the "affront" to... your sensibilities, if you actually have any.

Oh yeah, glad to see you promoted yourself in that little piece.
Same with the immigration bill. I think I say somewhere in my book ...
Second-rate indeed.

Dianetics bites Top Gun

I have nothing personal against Tom Cruise. Except that he portrayed the worst of what I have personally witnessed in US Navy fighter pilots. Most simply aren't that self-absorbed.

Anyway, reader Cat sent me this:
Germany has barred the makers of a movie about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler from filming at German military site because its star Tom Cruise is a Scientologist, the defence ministry has said.

Cruise, one of the film's producers, is a well known member of the Church of Scientology, which the German government does not recognise as a church and says is against the country's constitution. Berlin says it masquerades as a religion to make money, a charge Scientologist leaders reject.

Gee. That's too bad.

Not that it matters all that much because I know four-fifths of diddly-squat about Scientology. Apparently the only way I would find out more is if I actually picked up the rags at supermarket checkout.

Germany, it would seem on the face of it, might appear to be behaving in a somewhat intolerant manner, however, my personal inclination, given the history of that country's experience with fraud on a scale we still have difficulty imagining, gives them some latitude in dealing with such matters.

Maybe they're onto something.

The German government considers the Scientology organization a commercial enterprise with a history of taking advantage of vulnerable individuals and an extreme dislike of any criticism. The government is also concerned that the organization's totalitarian structure and methods may pose a risk to Germany's democratic society. Several kinds of evidence have influenced this view of Scientology, including the organization's activities in the United States.

There are three notable American court cases involving Scientology that illustrate why Germany's concerns about this organization are justified. In the early 1980s, American courts convicted 11 top Scientologists for plotting to plant spies in federal agencies, break into government offices and bug at least one IRS meeting. In 1994, in a case involving Lawrence Wollersheim, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a California court's finding of substantial evidence that Scientology practices took place in a coercive environment and rejected Scientology's claims that the practices were protected under religious freedom guaranties. In September 1997, the Illinois Supreme Court found there was evidence enough to allege that Scientology had driven the Cult Awareness Network into bankruptcy by filing 21 lawsuits in a 17-month period. The court stated that "such a sustained onslaught of litigation can hardly be deemed 'ordinary', if [the Network] can prove that the actions were brought without probable cause and with malice."

Hmmm... I'm leaning towards the Germans on this one.

Given the fact that Cruise has openly criticized Germany for the past ten years on their position, and the fact that the German government's stance on Scientology appears to be unmovable, one would be compelled to question the mindset of Cruise in even attempting to gain the cooperation of the German government in making a film using German government facilities.


Who knows? But Germany is not alone.

Germany, as well as Belgium, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Israel and Mexico, remain unconvinced that Scientology is a religion.

Actually, those countries view L. Ron Hubbards' brainchild as more akin to organized crime than a religion.

So, what looked like a funny story involving a narcissistic celebrity getting a pie in the face is actually a whole lot more. There are actually political issues here. It looks like Germany just got on Top Gun's "six".

Perhaps if we hooked Cruise up to a Mark Super VII Quantum E-meter we could determine what he is really up to.

I know what you're thinking. I'm not going there. Not for now anyway.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

NORTHCOM's domestic special operations

Back in February last year I asked what Canadian defence minister Gordon O'Connor had actually agreed to with respect to the expansion of NORAD to include a maritime component. The problem was the establishment by the US of NORTHCOM and the folding in of NORAD into that exclusive US command.

While I have no difficulty with bi-national defence treaties, the question of operational control of Canadian assets has not been publicly answered. Perhaps that's less of a problem than some may expect. NORAD has always had the ability to quickly split into "national" entities, as occurred during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, where Nixon put NORAD on alert to signal the Soviet Union that interference in the Arab-Israeli conflict would not be tolerated. Canada, wishing not to take a side, was absolved of a posture in kind with the United States and the US took over NORAD's warning and attack assessment role. For a very brief time, Canada's role in NORAD was subordinated to that of an observer.

After Sept. 11th, 2001, the US reorganized their theater command structure, particularly around homeland defence. NORTHCOM became the homeland defense command encompassing a wider array of resources than NORAD. NORAD continued but the line between the two has become murky. The commanders and staff of NORTHCOM and NORAD are the same people, in the same physical location, except that NORAD includes a Canadian Lt. General as deputy commander. From the US point of view NORAD, although tacitly a separate entity, belongs to NORTHCOM. NORTHCOM however, with no Canadian participation beyond observation and liaison, has an area of responsibility (AOR), air, land and maritime, which according to their own website is:
USNORTHCOM’s AOR includes air, land and sea approaches and encompasses the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the surrounding water out to approximately 500 nautical miles. It also includes the Gulf of Mexico and the Straits of Florida. The defense of Hawaii and our territories and possessions in the Pacific is the responsibility of U.S. Pacific Command. The defense of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is the responsibility of U.S. Southern Command. The commander of USNORTHCOM is responsible for theater security cooperation with Canada and Mexico.
The theater security cooperation occurs by way of both Canada's inclusion in NORAD and Bi-National Planning Group. Canada's deputy commander of NORAD is the head of the BNP and is responsible to both Canadian and US governments, has the deputy commander of NORTHCOM as a co-authority and both report to the commander of NORTHCOM/NORAD in their respective roles as deputy or vice commander of NORAD.

Everyone is wearing so many hats that one is bound to put the wrong one on leaving the party, but the point is, NORTHCOM has included in its area of responsibility, Canadian sovereign territory, without Canadian co-command.

If you're bored, have a little stretch because the best part is coming.
The U.S. Northern Command, the military command responsible for "homeland defense," has asked the Pentagon if it can establish its own special operations command for domestic missions. The request, reported in the Washington Examiner, would establish a permanent sub-command for responses to incidents of domestic terrorism as well as other occasions where special operators may be necessary on American soil.

The establishment of a domestic special operations mission, and the preparation of contingency plans to employ commandos in the United States, would upend decades of tradition. Military actions within the United States are the responsibility of state militias (the National Guard), and federal law enforcement is a function of the FBI.

Employing special operations for domestic missions sounds very ominous, and NORTHCOM's request earlier this year should receive the closest possible Pentagon and congressional scrutiny. There's only one problem: NORTHCOM is already doing what it has requested permission to do.

Domestic special operations missions?

Now to the average Canadian, the concept of the regular armed forces being used domestically isn't that much of leap of imagination. Under Canadian law the armed forces can be used for domestic law enforcement in aid to the civil powers, essentially as a posse comitatus. In the United States, use of the national armed forces in such a role is prohibited by the Posse Comitatus Act.

So here's the rub.
When NORTHCOM was established after 9/11 to be the military counterpart to the Department of Homeland Security, within its headquarters staff it established a Compartmented Planning and Operations Cell (CPOC) responsible for planning and directing a set of "compartmented" and "sensitive" operations on U.S., Canadian and Mexican soil. In other words, these are the very special operations that NORTHCOM is now formally asking the Pentagon to beef up into a public and acknowledged sub-command.

NORTHCOM's compartmented and sensitive operations fall under the Joint Chiefs of Staff "Focal Point" program, a separate communications and planning network used to hide special operations undertaken by the Joint Special Operations Command, headquartered in North Carolina, and by CIA and other domestic compartmented activities.

Since 2003, the CPOC has had a small core of permanent members drawn from the operations, intelligence and planning directorates. In an emergency, the staff can be expanded. According to NORTHCOM documents, CPOC is involved in planning for a number of domestic missions, including:

-- Non-conventional assisted recovery -- Integrated survey programs -- Information operations/"special technical operations" -- "Special activities"

Special activities, as William Arkin says, is a euphemism for covert operations and intelligence gathering. In the United States that job belongs to the FBI. In Canada it belongs to the RCMP and CSIS.

Non-conventional assisted recovery is the use of indigenous populations or surrogate forces, led by special forces to rescue hostages. Again, in the US that is an FBI function. In Canada it belongs to the RCMP.

All of this involves domestic intelligence gathering, covert operations and analysis. It includes operations in the United States which, unless specifically authorized by the Congress, would be illegal and, given NORTHCOM's area of responsibility, would include the same activities in Canada without necessarily notifying Canadian authorities.

Pehaps Gordon O'Connor can come out of his hole and explain what precisely is going on.

Oh Ann... that's so passe. Go back to attacking widows.

Ann Coulter wishes:

A) That there could be another terrorist attack on the US;
B) That Americans would be killed in such an attack;
C) For a pony.

It's a good thing this piece of work never got around to giving birth. Any children would have to be removed for their own protection.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bingo!!! That isn't what he said.

Once upon a time we had reporters. When the news media went south, the real reporters turned to blogs.

Read this.

Baird demonstrates a willingness to listen. Then plugs his ears.

Well, this isn't surprizing.
Environment Minister John Baird says the Conservative government won't dismiss a newly passed law requiring Canada to respect its emissions-cutting commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

But he says he's not putting forward a new environment plan either. Baird says the time for studying and developing new plans is over, and that the government is already moving on a "realistic" plan to tackle climate change.

Studying and developing?!

He says the government will follow through with the "technical letter" of the bill, but won't waste another six months studying the issue and commissioning more reports.
Six months? Is he trying to tell us the Conservative plan took six months? What happened? Did the package they opened at cabinet come without a green crayon?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said his government's climate plan will curb greenhouse gases by 20 per cent by 2020, although three studies have debunked the plan since Baird released it in April.
But if Steve says it's so, then it must be so... right?

That's what I thought

Waterloo . . . .

'Ya gotta love ABBA . . . .

(Cross-Posted at Moving to Vancouver)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

So THAT's why they want to close Guantanamo

Alright, we've heard a shopping list of reasons why we're fighting in Afghanistan. (I use "we're" cautiously and in a sense that the nation has been committed to that action. The actual fighting is falling to a relative handful of people.)

We've heard how we're there to make the lives of the people better, even though we lob artillery rounds into their villages. We're there to improve the lives of the women, even though the suicide rate and acts of self-immolation among Afghan women has increased in the past two years. We're there to secure a democracy, even though the government of Hamid Karzai about as corrupt as any failed state anywhere on the planet.

We've heard that the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq are not linked, to which every thinking individual simply utters, "Bullshit." We've heard that we are not aiding and abetting the actions of the Bush administration because the Afghanistan mission is NATO led and UN sanctioned, to which anyone with a feel for the deployment of troops would respond with laughter.

We've also heard that the US wants to close down Guantanamo Camp Delta and, because of the way the Bush administration has handled... anything, we take a "believe it when we see it" posture.

Here's one of the reasons why.
The United States is helping build a prison in Afghanistan to take some prisoners now at Guantanamo Bay, but the White House said Friday that it's not meant as an alternative to the detainee facility in Cuba.
I wouldn't recommend eating that. Most of what comes out of the White House spin machine, as we are all aware, is utter horse shit.
The Bush administration has said it wants to close Guantanamo Bay and move terror suspects to prisons elsewhere. Senior officials have told The Associated Press a consensus is building among the president's top advisers on how to do it.
In other words, they have no plan or, if they have a plan they're not telling.
The administration is looking to resolve the issue swiftly, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino told reporters Friday, although she said there's no deadline set.
Because deadlines are a terrible thing to waste. They create pressure... you know, to get things done.
At the White House, Perino said Mr. Bush has directed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to work with her counterparts around the world to try to repatriate detainees to their home countries, make sure they are held safely and treated humanely and that they are not allowed to perpetrate acts of terrorism.
So... send them to Afghanistan. Where torture and maltreatment are virtually unheard of.
A proposal gaining traction among Mr. Bush's top national security advisers would have some of the most dangerous suspects at Guantanamo transferred to one or more Defense Department facilities, including the maximum-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., officials say.
That makes sense. Then there's the rest of it: charges, trials, legal counsel. You know, the stuff one would expect out of a country which makes loud noises about the rule of law being deficient when referring to other countries.
The move is opposed by Cheney's office and the Justice Department, which argue that transferring prisoners to U.S. soil would give them undeserved rights and pose a threat to the United States.
Why does that not surprise me? And that disclosure alone is reason enough to state that everything the White House press secretary said is an outright lie.

So, despite the multitude of other reasons we are fighting in Afghanistan, one that we can now add to the list is to secure a place of permanent detention for the Bush administration's unwanted enemy combatants and to avoid having to actually go through something so messy as due process.

As they crawl further into the bunker

And so, the Executive Order issued by George Bush requiring that all government entities that are a part of the Executive Branch to submit to oversight on the handling of classified information has produced yet another crease in the wrinkled fabric of Bush administration wrong-doing.

First we have Vice President Dick Cheney deciding that he is not actually a part of the Executive Branch and not subject to the order.

Now, Bush himself has decided that his office is not subject to his own direction.
The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney's office, President Bush's office is not allowing an independent federal watchdog to oversee its handling of classified national security information. An executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 — amending an existing order — requires all government agencies that are part of the executive branch to submit to oversight. Although it doesn't specifically say so, Bush's order was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said. [...] "Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their government," the executive order said. But from the start, Bush considered his office and Cheney's exempt from the reporting requirements, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said in an interview Friday.
Let's get something clear. When an order is issued to include an entire organization or functional body, it includes all elements of that organization, unless specifically exempted. If Bush's Executive Order 13292 was written with the intention that the offices of the President and Vice President would be exempted from such oversight, it would have been a simple matter to add, perhaps right at the end, words to the effect, "The office of President and the office of Vice President are exempted from the provisions of this order."

Bush, and of course Cheney, are making it up as they go along.

J. William Leonard of the National Archives asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to have the Justice Department, Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) solve the impasse that had developed with Cheney. This last Friday, Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin said, "This matter is currently under review in the department.”


Steven Aftergood, a researcher who tracks government secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists discovered the truth. It appears Gonzales has been ignoring the issue.
Why didn't Gonzales act on Leonard's request? His aides assured reporters that Leonard's letter has been "under review" for the past five months—by Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). But on June 4, an OLC lawyer denied a Freedom of Information Act request about the Cheney dispute asserting that OLC had "no documents" on the matter, according to a copy of the letter obtained by NEWSWEEK. Steve Aftergood, the Federation of American Scientists researcher who filed the request, said he found the denial letter "puzzling and inexplicable"—especially since Leonard had copied OLC chief Steve Bradbury on his original letter to Gonzales. The FOIA response has piqued the interest of congressional investigators, who note Bradbury is the same official in charge of vetting all document requests from Congress about the U.S. attorneys flap.

So now Gonzales enters the picture as being party to an attempt to prevent oversight.

While all that was happening Bush's White House spokes-people were trying to erect a smokescreen which MSNBC's Keith Olbermann took on. Olbermann dispatched the original assertion that an exemption existed for Cheney because of the language on page 18 of the EO. No such exemption exists, and when Olbermann pointed this out, the White House sent him to two other references in the EO, both of which made no mention of the Vice President's office at all.

In short, it would appear that, aside from trying minimize the magnitude of the constitutional violation, Bush and, in particular, Cheney, are desperately attempting to hide something extremely damaging to their administration.

Like a dog with a bone House Government Reform Committee chair Rep. Henry Waxman has no intention of letting any of this go unchallenged and has stated his intentions to investigate Cheney and Gonzales.
Waxman told NEWSWEEK he now plans to investigate the handling of the issue by Justice as well as Cheney's refusal to comply with the executive order, which he called part of a "pattern" of stonewalling by the veep.
That has been met with this kind of response from both Cheney and Bush spokes-people.
Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride said, "We're confident we are conducting the office properly under the law." She also pointed to comments by White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino, who said that Bush, not the National Archives, was the "sole enforcer" of the executive order relating to classified information.
Umm... No. Part 5 of Bush's Executive Order 13292 delegates enforcement, including the issuing of reports leading to sanctions, to the Archivist and the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office. Bush is not the "sole enforcer". He handed that job off to somebody else.

These guys are trying to hide something.

Why do I always get the sense that PNAC's great American Century and the working and machinations of the Bush administration are based on this?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Self-Defeating Prophecy

Today Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan and the man the West approved for the job, came out told NATO and the US they are killing too many of the Afghan civilians they are claiming to protect. Aside from the obvious motives of self-preservation (when the opposition is able to lob rockets over your speeches, your job is not secure), Karzai made a very good point:

"You don't fight a terrorist by firing a field gun 37 kilometres (24 miles) away into a target. That's definitely, surely bound to cause civilian casualties."
There are two factors at play here.

First is force protection on the part of NATO and US troops. If the enemy is hiding in a “compound” or house (why don't they just say 'house'?), the options are (1) assaulting the house with infantry, or (2) dropping artillery or aerial bombs on it, or (3) breaking contact or skipping the fight entirely.

Third option, isn’t really valid (every time at least) when the mission is to defeat the Taleban. You eventually have to engage them.

The second option generally causes a great deal of harm to the enemy (and anyone else caught in the wrong place) and destroys the house, with little impact on the friendly forces. Even if the civilians survive, their homes and livelihood maybe destroyed – a possible death sentence in itself in an impoverished country.

The first option, as any soldier who has run a FIBUA exercise can attest, risks casualties on the NATO side. Villages and houses can be extensively booby trapped and prepared by the defending force: every street, alley, building and room needs to be checked, cleared, and held. Add civilians – that you are trying to protect/save/gain support of - to the mix, and your options for using firepower theoretically diminish greatly, but so to do your options for a casuality sensitive military and public.

No junior leader would understandably risk their soldier’s lives when another option is available. No commander would deny their troops use of an available asset that would protect them. And no politician, especially facing a wavering public opinion in the face of increasing military casualties, would refuse to provide the troops with the tools to minimise their casualties. Further to this, if you have a limited number of people at your disposal, there is a limited amount you can do with them – there are indications that this really is a problem for NATO. So, “force-multiplier” options like air-strikes become very appealing:

Even as the foreign troops have successfully defeated groups of Taliban in battle, the number of battlefields is growing as the conflict intensifies and spreads. Some observers say the foreign soldiers have resorted to air power when they lacked sufficient troops on the ground.
I have no doubt that by and large, NATO tries to avoid civilian deaths; however, they cannot be helped. As long military firepower is used in areas where civilians live, civilians will die. This is a given, and in a mission like Afghanistan, it is self-defeating. Corrupt statements like this do not help:

“We are concerned about reports that some civilians may have lost their lives during this attack,” NATO spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Smith said in a statement. “However, it must be noted that it was the insurgents who initiated this attack, and in choosing to conduct such attacks in this location and at this time, the risk to civilians was probably deliberate.”

Mr. Smith misleads us because he skips the thing the matters. The only thing that matters is how the Afghan population sees NATO’s actions. He can blame the Taleban for being where they are all he likes, but it is us that have the option of engaging or not. It was a NATO soldier who called in the fire-mission, it was NATO that authorised that level of force. It was our civilian leaders that decided the Taleban had to be militarily defeated in order to ‘win’ in Afghanistan. The Afghan civilians are objectively neutral. NATO, as much as the Taleban, is a belligerent force and dead innocents are objectively the fault of both parties who elect to fight it out where they live; however, when the occupier’s munitions kills the locals, the locals will pick a side. When NATO finds itself at war with civilians that voluntarily harbour and/or support the enemy, it has lost - is this underway now, I wonder?

Simply, if success in Afghanistan is fundamentally contingent on gaining support from the majority Afghans, NATO defeats itself every time it kills civilians. If it cannot avoid killing civilians, regardless the excuse (and an excuse is exactly what LCol. Smith gave us – odd because excuse making is not something the military usually tolerates), it cannot win. As long as the Taleban sits in villages and NATO attacks those villages, civilians will die. Self-defeating.

Which brings me to my brief second factor.

The Northern Alliance/US spawned current Karzai government and the Western military are fighting the Taleban. The Taleban are largely Afghan. As long as there is support amongst the Afghan population for the Taleban, the country is at war with, and divided against itself. A peaceful and successful Afghanistan is not possible as long as this situation remains. Fighting the Taleban is self-defeating. Training an Afghan army to fight Afghans does not build unity and is self-defeating. Development is a function of peace, and attempting to implement a coherent development plan whilst encouraging a [civil] war is paradoxical. The three block war strategy is dysfunctional.

So where does this leave us? In order to stop killing Afghan civilians, one of the major belligerents in the conflict needs to stop fighting. When one of the belligerents is Afghan, and one is a foreign invader from the other side of the planet, guess which one needs to stop? After that, a peace must be pursued between all remaining sides (is this possible? I have another post in mind for that question). Until that point, the bloodshed will continue – and the people we are claiming to help, will bear the highest cost.

Stephen Harper's Inspiration and Mentor

Harper's government came to their positions about climate change and anthropogenic global warming by attaching themselves to and adopting the positions held by the Bush administration.

I don't think there's any serious argument left to made that the case is otherwise.

This month's issue of Rolling Stone lays out the story of how the Bush administration came to those positions.

Guess who's at the centre of it all.

Vice Regent Dick Cheney, that's who.

He of The Fraser Institute awards and Alberta's affections.

He who shares with Stephen Harper the distinction of being a recipient of an award named for a former President of the US who once said, "I have unwittingly ruined my country." ("Repeal the Federal Reserve Banks" by Casimir Frank Gierut, p.31)

Could we be any more fucked?

Camping with Steve

According to Decima Research, more people would like to go camping and fishing in the wilderness with Steve Harper than with Stephane Dion.

Why? It's not like Harper is any kind of renown outdoorsman. In fact, he's better known for being pretty much tied to the urban comforts of life, the perks of power, his electronic gadgets and apparently, food. He is, after all, a conservative politician and, if they like anything else but power, it's the comforts offered by privilege.

The first problem to overcome is getting there. It doesn't matter what form of transport you have organized or how lightweight your camping gear may be, Steve will insist on heavy lift transport. Don't bother going shopping for a new truck at the best price. Steve will appoint a minister of camping who used to be a truck salesman. Rather than shop around, he will organize one of these. Don't bother looking for a used vehicle. Rent one? Perish the thought. Only new will work. You will pay for it. You will drive. If you get lost, it's your fault. Even though Steve has a map, you are expected to find the way.

Once in the wilderness there will be several tasks you and Steve will have to carry out. There will be a tent to erect. You will do that; Steve will tell you exactly how it is to be done. He will do this without consulting instructions. If you have instructions on how to put up your new tent, you shall not use them. Throw them away. They are excess weight. You should not have brought them. Steve will direct the job from the exact direction the tent is to face to the appropriate angle for the tent pegs.

You will need a source of heat for cooking and warmth. Your fuel efficient, lightweight and clean stove is unacceptable. You should not have brought that along. You will find a more traditional way to produce heat. A wood fire will be required. When you discover that there is no dry deadfall wood available to burn, Steve will explain to you that this is the result of thirteen years worth of previous campers using wood instead of efficient, lightweight, clean stoves. No. You may not use your stove. Instead, you will cut down some trees, cut and split wood, dry it, and use that for a real fire. You have two hours until supper.

When other nearby campers, all using efficient, lightweight, clean stoves, complain about the smoke your fire is creating, pay attention to Steve, not the other campers. He has a plan to make all that green wood stop smoking. You needn't trouble yourself as to what the plan is.

Steve, of course, has a chef back in the city. He is accustomed to fine dining. No, the stew you brought along is not acceptable. He has brought the ingredients for something a little more gourmet. Go lightly on the prawns. You're cooking.

As night falls you have noticed a large motorhome nearby. The occupants come over and announce that there are several bears known to pillage campsites. Although they have never actually come into this particular camping area, Steve offers to deal with the problem. He explains to you, in confidence, that this will bring both of you, but particularly him, great prestige with the owners of the motorhome and, in any case, they seem occupied with a bunch of pesky cougars in the opposite direction. Your objections are not acceptable. That is not supporting Steve's plan. Steve explains to you that you have an obligation to all other campers in the area. Your criticism of Steve's plan makes him angry. He points out that your lack of previous experience at bear hunting precludes you criticizing his plan.

In the morning it's time to go fishing. Steve is ready to go and is waiting for you to get a boat into the water. You explain that, quite obviously, there is no boat. Steve chastises you for not taking advantage of the savings you would have realized due to the reduction in Goods and Services Tax. You should have financed a boat. You explain that you would have bought a boat but the cost of the truck used all your available cash. Steve shrugs it off and suggest fishing from the shore. You tell him that while you'll eventually catch fish, it will probably take longer than it would from a boat. Steve offers a solution: You will tell yourself there is a boat. You will continue fishing from the shore, as you have always done, but you'll feel better about it because you think you own a boat.

As the day wears on, it is time to leave. You will break camp and stow the gear. When you remind Steve about the arrangement to share costs he makes an offer. You can stick with the previous arrangement or you can accept another arrangement which will give you more money now, but less on future fishing trips. You're not happy with the sudden change. Steve just shrugs.

After dropping Steve off at his house, you're uncertain about the future. Should you give up camping, or give up Steve?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Water truckin'

You may remember Michael Byers as the UBC Global Politics and International Law Professor who asked prior to the last election why extraordinary rendition wasn't an election issue, and who also red-flagged our Afghan detainee transfer deal in the national press over a whole freakin year ago.
Byers has a book out - "Intent for a Nation : What is Canada for? " - and The Tyee has an excerpt :
"In 2004, the Canadian actor Paul Gross starred in a made-for-TV drama entitled H2O. Gross plays Tom McLaughlin, the charismatic son of a murdered Canadian prime minister, who takes over Canada at the behest of a group of international financiers eager to sell our fresh water to an increasingly thirsty United States."
Did you see this movie? I hadn't so I looked it up at IMDb.
Some of the user comments about the unlikelihood of the plot's basic premise were kind of sad.
At the time this movie aired, the GATT agricultural provisions regarding water were two decades old, and NAFTA, including the dreaded Annex Tariff Item 22.01: water: all natural water other than sea water, whether or not clarified or purified, had already passed its tenth birthday.
Five years before this movie was even a twinkle in CBC's eye, the NDP were standing on the floor of the HoC demanding a clarification on water sovereignty under NAFTA - and it was denied.
While conceding that Canada's legal control over her water is at the very least muddy, Byer warns against setting any bulk water trading precedents:

"A single act of trading water on a bulk basis would arguably transform the resource into a tradable good that was legally indistinguishable from softwood lumber, potash or oil, rendering subsequent attempts to prevent or limit further exports illegal. For this reason, it is imperative that Canada takes water off the free trade table, quickly and decisively -- now, before it's too late."

Well another attempt was made two weeks ago, this time in the form of a motion supported by all opposition parties asking the Cons to request a clarification from Mexico and the US on their position on Canada's water, and it was again denied.
Byers' excerpt concludes:

"On water, as on so many other issues, our conciliatory, don't-rock-the-boat approach to Canada-U.S. relations has failed. Unless we stand up for our own interests, Canadian fresh water could soon be irrigating crops, watering golf courses and filling backyard swimming pools in the south western United States.

It's time to dissuade Americans of the notion that we're going to rescue them from the consequences of their short-sighted, profligate ways by allowing them to mess with our environment, too. It's time to make it absolutely clear that bulk water exports are not covered by NAFTA. "

In the meantime, someone please let me know how that H2O movie turned out.
Tyee link from Jennifer at Runesmith's Canadian Content in comments at Creekside.