Thursday, April 30, 2009

Educations? We don't need no educations.

In Alberta, the oil is so dark and so rich that education is now... one of those distant things. Like weaving baskets or working out time/speed/ distance or accounting or establishing where humans really fit in this world.

In Alberta, the sight of a pumpkin in October is something the government runs for cover from.
"This government supports a very, very fundamental right and that is parental rights with respect to education," said Premier Ed Stelmach.


Does it now?

Then I would expect that Stelmach accepts, and will press to his caucus, that Omar Khadr was guilty of nothing more than obeying his parents who had the very, very fundamental right to educate him as they saw fit... even if we didn't like it.

Take it away, Ed!! Your resident Texans can't and won't give you an answer to that one.

In other surprising news, water found to be "wet"

If it's a day that ends with a "Y" Michelle Malkin must be outraged about something.

Right-wing nutjob Michelle Malkin is upset that Antonia Zerbisais made a joke about someone, maybe even Dick Cheney shooting her.

Not that she need me to defend her, in fact it's like a Boy Scout troop acting as bodyguards to the SAS, but the Divine Ms. Z has apparently fallen afoul of the conservative outrage machine as the poster girl for the unhinged has released her flying monkeys. (read the hilarious comments)
Apparently, IOKIYAR rules are still in effect. It's okay for Canada's Lowest Common Dominatrix and the rest of the right wing shriekosphere on both sides of the border to joke about or actually call for the death of various journalist, politicians and massive numbers of brown or brownish people and their sympathizers, but if a Canadian journalist Twitters a bit of wordplay on Marxists and marksmen and suggests a rabid Pomeranian of the Right be sent hunting with Dick Cheney, well that's a hate crime and she's worse than Hitler and Stalin combined.
And naturally, the first response of the champion of rugged individualism and freedom when someone makes a mean joke about her is to run crying to the principal. Typical. I'm surprised we haven't yet been informed of what kind of countertops grace the Zerbisais' household.

Doubtless the wingnuts will shriek and jump up and down and hold their breath until they get what they want, and in the end La Zerb will probably have to make a pro forma apology of some sort. She should not, and her employer should not bend to the histrionics of the wingnut outrage machine. The Right should grow a skin and learn to take a fraction of what they dish out.

Stephen Taylor's original post linked above has it about right - it was a dumb thing to say, but it was said in an off-the-cuff forum (Twitter) not in her newspaper column, it was obviously a joke and not some sinister call for Malkin to be assasinated, and last time I checked people in both Canada and the United States had a right to free speech.

If the right feel that Zerbisais should apologize or be fired for a lame Twitter joke about wishing Dick Cheney would shoot Michelle Malkin, consistency demands that they first insist that Ann Coulter be punished in some fashion for wishing on in print (and repeatingit endlessly on television) that Tim McVeigh had blown up the New York Times building.

Otherwise, they should STFU


crossposted from the woodshed, where we don't believe in apologizing to the dogshit when we step on it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Go, Gazetteer, Go . . . .

Our pal RossK got some well-deserved recognition today.

From The Tyee:

Welcome to the new BC Blogs

We're paying new attention to the local blogosphere, and we hope you will too. You'll find new categories, more sites, easier navigation. And we’ve added... Blog of the Week: Every week we'll recommend a B.C. blog that we think deserves more attention. Such sites are informative, well designed, and well written, with a distinctive attitude.

Our first Blog of the Week meets all those criteria and then some:

The Gazetteer is combative, easy to read and navigate, and strongly engaged in B.C. politics. The daily coverage of the election has plenty of items that most media don't run.

Way to go, RossK!

We appreciate your efforts to inform the blogosphere.


Thank You, Sir . . . .


(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)


Not the RCMP

Via treehugger.



(h/t JA)

Let's keep the story one sided...

This must be one of the values we're spending lives and money on in Afghanistan.

NATO has imposed tough new restrictions on foreign journalists covering the war in southern Afghanistan, changes that could affect how much Canadians see and hear from war-torn Kandahar.

The new measures, imposed in early March, mirror the way the U.S. military manages reporters in Iraq.

The restrictions make it virtually impossible for Canadian journalists to leave Kandahar Airfield on their own to interview local Afghans and return unimpeded to the safety of NATO's principal base.

Last month, Canadian soldiers were required to escort newly arrived journalists everywhere on the airfield, including to the dining hall and showers. A photographer from the Reuters news agency and a handful of Canadian journalists were escorted between buildings and confined to their sleeping quarters when not working.

Now, before everyone goes off spinning and linking be fully aware that the Canadian Forces is dead-set against this policy and is trying to have it stopped.

The hard part to swallow, however, is this:

Some of the new rules do not apply to American journalists because the measures would violate their rights under the U.S. constitution.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I love the smell of Republican heads exploding in the morning.


... smelled like....

Victory. Someday this war's gonna end.
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said Tuesday he will support the nomination of an Indiana University law professor to head the Obama administration’s internal law office.

He is the first Republican to publicly declare his backing for Dawn Johnsen, whose selection to head the Office of Legal Counsel has grown into a fight about abortion rights and counterterrorism practices.

Some Republicans have promised to try to block Johnsen’s confirmation either because of her support for abortion rights or because she criticized the legal justification used by the Bush administration for the torture of detainees.

Lugar’s support does not guarantee the Senate will confirm Johnsen. Sixty votes are needed to stave off a filibuster, and vote-counters say they are aware of close to 60 "yes" votes for Johnsen, but they are not declaring victory. One Democrat – Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson – has said he will vote against Johnsen.

Ah yes, but the count is indeed close... and that's exactly how it should be. Arlen Specter, having "crossed the floor", if I may use a Westminsterian term, does not seal the count, but the fact that there will be a vote for cloture preventing a filibuster will be critical.

Specter's first vote as a Democrat will be a message to his constituents in Pennsylvania, and to other all other Democrats. He does not have to vote for the nominee as much as he has to vote to prevent a Republican filibuster.

All people like Specter and Lugar have to worry about is their jobs. They could lose them.

In the meantime, our hamburger muncher by the sea, The Doughy Pantload, waddles along describing the distractions which prevented him from delivering his "book" anywhere close to his promised deadline. So much for the "pressures of family life" as an excuse.

Image. Credit JJ. You must visit JJ. Things are so heating up. Tea anyone? Or would you just like to be teabagged?

Swine Flu Terror Advisory Scale



Currently we are on uh-oh.

Who says weeds don't grow on astro-turf?

I join Canadian Cynic in applauding this idea.
What I have noticed is that the CPC thinks it needs to tiptoe around and not offend anyone by showing their actual support of Conservative ideas. You are the Conservative Party of Canada, shout it out!
I can't think of a single strategy that would make me happier.

And where do those Conservative ideas come from?

Oh... oops!

Hiding under the bed of George Bush

I still maintain this is related to this.

h/t POGGE

Vegetable orchestra

Vienna Vegetable Orchestra:

Florida fundies want their own licence plate


Because nothing says "I'm not really speeding, officer. I'm just in a rush to get to the Rapture."
Religious specialty plates offered by Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, and Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, made it onto a bill Friday even though many members had not seen images of those plates and none were produced for the debate.

Does this mean, like for all religions?
Siplin didn't mince words when asked what his ''Trinity'' plate looks like, saying: ``It has a picture of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.''

It, along with a ''Preserving the Past'' plate offered by Siplin, would benefit the Toomey Foundation for the Natural Sciences.

Storms' ''I Believe'' plate would benefit Faith in Teaching, an Orlando company that funds faith-based programs at schools. The design features a cross over a stained-glass window.

Oh... right. Just that religion.

Several members had concerns about approving plates they had not seen.
Don't those members have any... faith in Storms and Siplin? It doesn't matter that nobody had seen it - Storm and Siplin haven't seen their god either.

Blue Gal puts it to the test.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Moving...

...is particularly annoying when every single cargo van and small cube truck in the city are booked for the weekend. Even more so when the rental people allow you to book online, then call a day later to tell you that they actually have no vehicles.

Also, this morning's catastrophic failure of a tiny piece of plastic in the toilet tank suggests that the demise of the neighbourhood hardware store thanks to the big-box-in-the-outer-Hebrides retail model must be a mark of societal insanity and a sign of the Apocalypse.

Other than that, the new place is great, and the internets and phone were hooked-up in record time. Not.like.last.time, right Telus?

That is all.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

This is just getting stupid

First, go read POGGE.

Get it? Omar Khadr was engaged in a combat action against another soldier. The PMO talking point, copied from the Bush administration, which is now nothing more than sewage, that Omar Khadr intentionally killed an individual with Geneva Convention credentials which protected him is an outright lie.

Those who repeat it are liars. Worse, is that they know they are lying.

Secondly, there is no conclusive evidence, (in fact there is evidence to the contrary), that Khadr actually threw the grenade which killed Sgt 1st Class Spears.

Thirdly, the United States had invaded Afghanistan, with full justification, and was now a belligerent party in a war. On the day, at the time and, at the moment that Khadr allegedly threw a grenade which killed Sgt 1st Class Spears neither party had surrendered. Since Spears was not wearing the appropriate insignia nor acting specifically in a manner to enjoy protection under the Convention, he would be deemed to have been a hostile combatant.

Fourthly, since it was a battlefield, under the Convention, murder is extremely difficult to prove, if not impossible. One combatant killing another in combat is not murder. Both have the same hostile intent unless one side has clearly and unequivocally shown and demonstrated the act of surrender. An enemy which has been defeated in the field but which does not purposely give themselves into the hands of the enemy, without arms, remains a hostile enemy. It doesn't matter if the winning side thinks it's over. They haven't won until the vanquished declare themselves the loser by accepting their own surrender and then displaying recognized symbols to communicate their acceptance of defeat.

That never happened.

Omar Khadr, when captured, was a child soldier. It doesn't matter how he came to be there. It matters that he was one. His age today is irrelevant. At the time of his capture he was under 18. Additionaly, he was governed by his father who he was expected to obey.

Sixth, this is the tough stuff. Nothing is simple when it comes to repatriating a Canadian accused of a heinous crime. But you wanted power and now you're afraid to use the sovereignty of this country for fear of pissing off a regime which was as close to Hitler's Germany as we have ever come.

But we elect governments to handle the tough stuff. Instead, we have posse of clowns who shun the most difficult of issues in order to appease a US administration which no longer exists.

And to keep the racist, mouth-breathing morons which constitute their political base marginally happy between assaults on 24s of cheap beer.

The worst part is the part you have not yet gathered in.

The government of the United States of America has told the government of Canada that they are willing to release Omar Khadr to Canadian custody on Canadian soil. All that has to happen is that the Canadian government officially request repatriation. That's the only condition.

Think I'm making that up? Then ask them. I know it's a fact. The US, as a matter of saving face in four different directions, wants to rid themselves of Omar Khadr but they need to do it under the proper optics. All that needs to be done is to have the Harper government make a public request. No back-channels.

Think I'm wrong?

Ask them. Ask them, if the Canadian government made a formal request to the government of the United States for the repatriation of Omar Khadr would he be returned to his country of birth?

Because if that happened Khadr would be on his way to Canada, in custody, but at least where the rule of law still has some meaning.

So, why won' Lawrence Cannon do that?

Because the "conservative" voting base would go ape-shit.

And the Harper government doesn't do tough stuff. They're a pack of fluff merchants, racist to boot, and would rather fill their "pending" baskets instead of clearing their "out" trays.

I don't like Khadr anymore than the next person, but he's Canadian and should be dealt with here.

That's the tough stuff and it's something the Authoritarians in the Harper government have never been able to handle.

Cowards.

Enlightenment Therapy

THE SUNDAY NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE has an insightful article by Chip Brown, called "Enlightenment Therapy". A Zen master feels that his life is a shambles, and seeks understanding at the other end of the philosophical rainbow. Worth a pondering read.

Zen and psychoanalysis have been courting for decades, as dizzy with their differences as a couple in a screwball comedy. The two disciplines — one, a much-revised theory of mind and therapy for neurotic illness from fin de si├Ęcle Vienna; the other a largely unchanged spiritual technique for realizing enlightenment from fifth-century China — broadly share the goal of relieving mental suffering. But their metaphysical premises and practical methods are night and day.

For decades the feeling of being “one” with the universe, prized in Zen as an attribute of enlightenment, was belittled by many psychoanalysts as an “infantile regression.” By the same token, the injunction “know thyself,” the ultimate chocolate-cherry in the candy box of Western wisdom, was brushed off by Zen adherents as a delusion. 

“The vessel you took to escape your childhood became your prison cell. If we could move through that, I think it would open things even more.”

It's not the West Edmonton Mall either



When Alberta just can't stand being Alberta, become something else.
It seemed the perfect way to promote the outdoor life that Canada has to offer: blue skies, clear water and a girl laughing as she runs through sand dunes.

Officials in Alberta thought that it was just the thing for a £14 million rebranding exercise to counter controversy over oil extraction but they weren’t smiling yesterday after a sailing enthusiast revealed that the landlocked province had borrowed the scene from Beadnell Bay, Northumberland, 5,000 miles away.

Because nothing says ignore those tar sand pits like a seacoast.
While the Alberta government admitted that it had “screwed up”, it insisted that there had been “no attempt to make people think that the place pictured was Alberta”. The location represented Albertans’ interest in the world around them, they said.
At about this point, the best possible recovery would have been to admit an attempt at deception and just toss up a different picture. Perhaps something from National Geographic - like this one which certain Canadian and Alberta politicians screamed was... deceptive.

But, it is Alberta.

Back to The Times:

Tom Olsen, the director of media relations for Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, said: “There’s no attempt to mislead. That picture fitted the mood and tone of what we were trying to do. Children are a symbol of the future. They symbolise that Albertans are a worldly people.”
Olsen, on the other hand, is attempting to cover an effort to mislead by misleading. How very "Harper" of him. And this "we" thing... curious.

Indeed, some Albertans are worldly people. Some even get out there and improve the world with innovation and imagination. But when they present images from around the world they make sure you know it's not Alberta.

Alberta is dripping with natural wonders and stunning wilderness. Adding an image from a tiny fishing village in the north of England certainly seems... deceptive. So why would the government of Alberta (and apparently the PMO) do such a thing?

One might note that the producers did not use a Canadian Maritimes beach nor a British Columbia beach. Of course, those places are distinct enough that it would have been noticed in an instant. Better to use a beach from some obscure fishing village in the north of England.

Beach envy coming out of Alberta isn't really all that new. The West Edmonton Mall can't seem to get out of the idea of keeping pelagic sea mammals in a landlocked pool next to the North Saskatchewan River. After facing a barrage of criticism, in 2004, the WEM removed the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins from the Dolphin Pool. It didn't stop them, however, from rebranding the indoor attraction as Sea Lions' Rock and keeping different species of salt-water animals - California Sea Lions and African penguins. (Where, according to the WEM site, "you'll have an experience like no other...") (Or you could just watch a Telus ad on TV.)

They're right. Where else could you see pelagic mammals in the middle of a prairie shopping mall?

Or you could go here and see them in the wild - in British Columbia. For penguins, you'll have to go much farther south.

And since Alberta (and apparently the PMO) wants you to get the full Alberta experience, if you're at home in Britain, thinking about a travelling vacation, you only have to go here to get the beach part. At the very least, you'll save the air fare.

More at Lilian Nattel.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

3 to 4.3 Billion Barrels of Technically Recoverable Oil Assessed in North Dakota and Montana’s Bakken Formation

ACCORDING TO THE U.S. Geological Survey, 3 to 4.3 Billion Barrels of Technically Recoverable Oil Assessed in North Dakota and Montana’s Bakken Formation—25 Times More Than 1995 Estimate

Reston, VA - North Dakota and Montana have an estimated 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil in an area known as the Bakken Formation.

A U.S. Geological Survey assessment, released April 10, shows a 25-fold increase in the amount of oil that can be recovered compared to the agency's 1995 estimate of 151 million barrels of oil.

Technically recoverable oil resources are those producible using currently available technology and industry practices. USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources.

Some things, even a compass deviation card can't correct...



From ThirstyGrit

H/T HUD

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


With condolences and respect to the family and friends of Major Michelle Mendes, on staff Chief of Defence Intelligence. Died in theatre on active service.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Earth Day. It's not just for chickens anymore...

You may never have heard of "Popeye's". If you're from Minnesota there is exactly one franchise.

For Earth Day, (You figure it out! It's like garbage collection companies using Killer Whales as a logo.), Popeye's offered a nationwide special on their spectacularly unhealthy fried chicken.

Except that the solitary Minneapolis franchise decided not to participate.

A near riot followed



Watch it again. Did you notice something? No... I'm not going to tell you... ever. Figure it out. You're smart enough.

In another place, an individual refused to cover his naked bod with a towel after being ordered to do so by police. Given his "natural state" a concealed weapon would have been a complete and utter impossibility.

So what did the cops do to gain his "compliance"?

Hit him with a Taser (TM, even though there's nothing else out there).

And then they hit him six more times in stun-drive mode.




And the only obvious thing is that the cops had spent way too much time eating at Popeye's.

Secession...

Nicked from Driftglass, with apologies to libertarians:

Blame Canada !

"Well, some of the 9-11 hijackers did come through Canada, as you know," McCain, last year's Republican presidential candidate, said on Fox News on Friday."

He was defending U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who made similar, now deemed "mis-spoken", allegations a few days ago.

So, the current head of Homeland Security and the guy who came uncomfortably close to being the president of the US are both getting their intel from South Park now?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Condi : First to OK waterboarding; first to speak at The School of Public Policy in Calgary



"Condoleezza Rice gave permission for the CIA to use waterboarding techniques on the alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah as early as July 2002, the first known official approval for the technique, according to a report released by the Senate intelligence committee yesterday.

The revelation indicates that Rice, who at the time was national security adviser and went on to be secretary of state, played a greater role than she admitted in written testimony last autumn."

"A few days later, the Justice Department approved the use of the harsh interrogation technique."


School of Public Policy launch brings Condoleezza Rice to Calgary

"On May 13, The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary will be formally launched with a gala at the Hyatt Regency Calgary, and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will offer a keynote speech at the event.

In her keynote address, Rice will offer her perspectives on the critical issues facing North America from a global perspective and highlight the role of organizations like The School of Public Policy in providing solutions that define North America’s place in the world.


Jack Mintz, director of the new School of Public Policy and former CEO of the C.D. Howe Institute : "There is no better way to emphasize the purpose of The School than to have someone with her level of practical and theoretical policy expertise present our vision to the community."

"providing solutions" ... "our vision to the community"...

Way to go, Jack.


Condi's address is entitled : THE VITAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTIONS AND POLICY MAKERS
$5000, table of 10 - Business attire required
Arrest warrant for war crimes - optional

Cross-posted at Creekside

'Bout Time . . . .


From Congressional Quarterly today:


House Panel Approves Expansion of Hate Crimes Law

The House Judiciary Committee approved legislation Thursday to extend federal hate crimes law to cover offenses based on sexual orientation.


The measure was approved 15-12 after a two-day debate and the defeat of more than a dozen Republican amendments.


Current federal hate crime law covers the use or threat of force based on race, color, religion or national origin. The new bill also covers crimes committed based on gender identity.


The panel considered more than a dozen GOP amendments Wednesday over the course of five hours, and rejected another five before approving the bill.

_______________



Committee Republicans objected to the bill on First Amendment grounds and because they believe it amounts to favoritism toward certain groups.

“Every human being in the world deserves to be equally protected, no matter who they are or who they go to bed with,” shouted Republican Louie Gohmert of Texas, the ranking member on the Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee, in an impassioned speech opposing the measure.

It's a start for our friends South of the 49th, but will it be passed by Congress and enforced as the "law of the land"?

We'll see . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

the eye (or ear) of the beholder


Via Montreal Simon -- who both you and I ought to read more often -- we are lead to this review/commentary from the Guardian


It wasn't singer Susan Boyle who was ugly on Britain's Got Talent so much as our reaction to her
Is Susan Boyle ugly? Or are we?
On Saturday night she stood on the stage in Britain's Got Talent; small and rather chubby, with a squashed face, unruly teeth and unkempt hair. She wore a gold lace dress, which made her look like a piece of pork sitting on a doily. Interviewed by Ant and Dec beforehand, she told them that she is unemployed, single, lives with a cat called Pebbles and has never been kissed. Susan then walked out to chatter, giggling, and a long and unpleasant wolf whistle.
Why are we so shocked when "ugly" women can do things, rather than sitting at home weeping and wishing they were somebody else? Men are allowed to be ugly and talented.

Susan Boyle doesn't really sing my kind of music, but you'd have to be tone deaf not to realize she is a talented vocalist. And contrary to the prevailing opinion she isn't ugly. A little on the plain side, sure. A bit plump, yeah. So what? She's there to sing, not model bikinis. It isn't like she has some kinda massive facial scar or a third eye or anything. She's just sort of ordinary looking. Ever get a good look at Aretha Franklin? How about Ella Fitzgerald? Not exactly beauty queens - until they start to sing. How about Joe Cocker or Bob Dylan or Elvis Costello? Not exactly matinee idols either. But, pretty boy idols aside, men who sing are not rated on their looks while women very much are. Which is pretty stupid.


While there have been female singers and actresses who have become popular based on their talent and perhaps in spite of their looks, appearance seems much more important in the way we judge women than in the way we judge men. See if you can think of ten relatively unattractive female performers who have made a career. Off the top of my head I'm not sure I can: Cass Elliot, Kathy Bates, kd Lang, Minnie Pearl, Lily Tomlin, Olympia Dukakis, Margaret Dumont, Rosanne Barr, Margaret Hamilton, um...that old lady from "Throw Momma From the Train", and uh....Mary Walsh?....okay I'm sure there are plenty more , but several on that list that I spent all of two minutes compiling are hardly major stars and at least three of them based their careers on the fact that they were unattractive or became famous late in life - and kd Lang was kinda cute when she was young and Olympia Dukakis probably was too -- and Cass and Rosanne aren't really ugly, just overweight and Mary Walsh is brilliantly funny, which counts for a lot in my books. Try the same experiment with male performers and you'll have a long list in seconds. And they won't all be character actors.
By the same measure, until recently we were, as a rule, far more tolerant of pretty girls who had little or no talent than we were of handsome men who couldn't act or sing - teen idols being the exception - as long as they stayed young and pretty that is (see the film Searching for Debra Winger sometime to further expand on this notion) How many movies have you seen lately where the lead character is played by an actress over 45 that isn't Meryl Streep?

I don't mean to say we've become less accepting of less talented pretty women - far from it - its just that we have become more accepting of less talented handsome men in recent years.

Another good example - musicians. There are a lot of famous male musicians who are butt ugly, but respected and popular for their musical talent. Popular, highly successful female musicians are almost always singers first and foremost - some accompany their own vocals and write their own material - but the star female instrumentalist is the exception, not the rule and those who do make a name for themselves as instrumentalists - Candy Dulfur and Bonnie Raitt spring to mind - are usually attractive.
Consider this: If John Coltrane, Frank Zappa, BB King or Jerry Garcia (to name only a few) had been born female, we'd probably never have heard of them.
I'm not saying this situation is the way it ought to be, just that it the unfortunate and unfairand flat out stupid situation that we face in the world.

I have a daughter who is six years old. In my admittedly biased opinion, she is very pretty and will likely grow up to be an absolute knockout in the looks department. Which is both good and bad. Good, in that good looks, especially for women, open a lot of doors and get you a lot of attention. Bad, in that, despite the fact that she is plenty smart, because she is attractive, she will probably not be taken seriously for her intellect or ability until she is in her 40s, barring some kind of major societal change.
If she learns to play guitar like Django Reinhardt, she'll still end up being the "hot girl that is a pretty good guitar player" with a career that ended at 35, while my son could have two noses and if he could play like Django, he would be worshipped like a god and make records until he died at 95. I think that sucks.
Furthermore - and perhaps this tendency is more pronounced in Japan than North America these days - she is already getting the message from friends, television and even teachers that it is more important to be cute than clever. That as long as she can bat her big brown eyes and smile, she can get away with anything - a tendency I am doing my best to discourage. But at this point it appears to be Dad vs the Disney machine and thousands of years of patriarchy.

A lot of what makes a person attractive in real life is attitude and personality. I've met models - they look great in photos, but a lot of them have nothing to say and in a conversation in a dimly-lit bar, they aren't any more attractive than the next woman, considerably less so if the next woman isn't obsessed with her appearence and happens to have a sense of humor and some brains and hasn't been convinced that because she isn't six feet tall, 90 pounds, and blonde with cheekbones you could cut your finger on, that she's ugly. Nothing is as sexy as confidence. After the first five minutes, it really isn't the package anyone with any brains is interested in, its the contents. Cases in point: Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, Minnie Driver, Terri Garr, Meryl Streep, Barbara Streisand, and Ingrid Bergman -- all of whom can be breathtakingly, stunningly beautiful when they turn on the inner light, but none of whom you'd pick out of a line up if you hauled them in out of the rain. Well...okay...Ingrid Bergman in her 20s would probably stop traffic no matter what as far as I can see, but she'd never be a pin up today. Physical beauty may be objectively judged by the standards of the day I suppose, but attractiveness is always largely subjective.
Let's think of a few major stars on the other side of the gender gap and consider them in terms of pure physical beauty: Humphrey Bogart, Dustin Hoffman, Woody Allen, Jack Black, Mark Knopfler, Phil Collins - I already mentioned Bob Dylan and I bet you don't even know what Charlie Parker or Django Reinhardt look like. Not a matinee idol among them - sure Bogart was cool, but he was no Cary Grant - but they have seen pretty high levels of popularity at one time or another, despite their looks and don't seem to have too much trouble attracting the opposite sex.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that pretty is nice, but but brains, talent, attitude and character are more important in the long run - and even in the short run. And that despite the advances of feminism over the years, as a society we continue to judge women on looks far more than we do men, and that is just plain stupid.

So more power to Susan Boyle and the hell with the pretty people. Smart, funny, talented people are sexier anyways.

crossposted from The Woodshed

The CTF suggest Harper contradicts his own beliefs


The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is on the whine again.
A new report says the Harper government used the guise of "economic diversification" to pour hundreds of millions of tax dollars into a booming western economy.
Of course they did it under a "guise". If they did it up front people would criticize them at the time they did it. They're conservatives - they have to pay off their friends.
It's all been handled under the Western Economic Diversification fund, which has paid out more than $440 million across the four western provinces since the Conservatives came to power in January 2006.
A party with a western power-base pours money into their power base. As corrupt as it appears, it's not that terribly strange. And they are, after all, conservatives - they have to pay off their friends.
Before becoming prime minister, Stephen Harper railed against regional subsidies.
That was then. This is now.
An exhaustive Access to Information search by the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation found that the Tories have funded everything from flagpoles to school murals.
But look at all the useless things that have been shut down! Womens' shelters have been collapsing all over the country, including the west. At least with a school mural there's a good chance one of them will include an image of Harper himself.

Priorities people. Priorities.
Kevin Gaudet of the taxpayers' federation says if the projects are worthwhile, they should be paid for in a more direct and transparent fashion.

He questions why Ottawa was spending "crazy money" during boom times in areas of the country that were "rolling in dough."

Really? Is that all he wants to know?

Votes.

The conservatives have to buy them. In that single regard, it doesn't make them all that much different from any other political party holding the reins of government.

Wasn't that easy?


It's not easy being greenwash


A map of proposed and existing run-of-river licences via IPP Watch:
Blue - generating; green - granted; red - application
Large Google map of sites here.
I wonder what the salmon think of it?
So given that we generally generate more power than we need in BC, what are all these for again? Oh yeah - exporting power to the US :
"A key adviser to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said yesterday that B.C. run-of-river power may yet qualify as green power.
Utilities in California are nearly all struggling to meet a requirement that 20% of their electricity come from renewable sources by 2010.
They have only months to meet the target or face financial penalties, and private-sector power producers in B.C., along with the provincial government, are urging California to expand its definition of renewable power to encompass run-of-river projects with up to 50 megawatts of capacity as part of the solution."
Which is interesting in itself because projects of less than 50 megawatts do not require environmental reviews.
Over at Plutonic Power, home of the $4-billion Bute Inlet run-of-17-rivers Project in partnership with US General Electric, environmentalist and executive director of PowerUp Canada "citizens initiative" Tzeporah Berman gave us another reason :
"We're in a recession and calling for a moratorium of the private sector of renewable energy companies would send the signal to the business community that this is not a place for them to invest in."
Certainly Gordo is invested in IPPs. In response to Squamish’s strenuous objections to a run-of-river development on Ashlu River, Gordo passed Bill 30, retroactively removing the right of local municipalities to stop such developments.
And Plutonic Power has in turn invested in Gordo's Liberals :

"CEO Donald McInnes said his company did not donate to the Liberal Party, in response to a caller on CKNW's Bill Good show this morning, but Elections BC records prove otherwise.

When asked why he made that claim, McInnes responded, "I don't consider that to be donations, that's buying a seat at a table."

Quite.
.
In comments at Creekside - BC's Watershed Election - commenter Racheal11 left some handy info and links to Liberal party insiders and BC Hydro execs who have recently shifted over to the extremely lucrative IPP industy : Insiders move to IPP industry
.
So we're good with all this, are we?
Gordo's government, former BC Hydro execs, private industry, and prominent environmentalists all pulling together ... to export power to California.
The mind boggles.
And if we decide we want our rivers back before these 25 to 50 year leases are up, are we looking at a NAFTA Chapter 11 challenge?
.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The comfort of Michael Coren's cubicle

At the risk of taking away the point from my friend, The Rev, I'm afraid I can't hold back.

I can't recall when I've read anything so sexist and so wrong in this century.
Last week a young girl dressed up as a soldier died in the increasingly futile and pointless war in Afghanistan. She was 21 years old, had been in the country for two weeks on her first tour of duty and probably weighed a little over 100 pounds.
WHAT? In the name of fuck, does her age and appearance have to do with anything?!!! Do you think that anyone else who died in Afghanistan was older because of their sex? Or were they lighter? Or heavier?

Dressed up?!!! Suck me off you civvy puke! At the very least she wore combats with a pride you can never claim. You haven't even wiped your ass in a forward operating position.
Please know that I mean no disrespect to Karine Blais or to her family and I grieve for her and them. But what on earth was she doing in such a place and in such a job?
Oh... yes you do! In fact, you should be getting a pink slip for writing it, you piece of social conservative political manure.

Look at the photograph of this beautiful girl. Look at the innocence, the gentleness, the grace.
Ahhh... now I get where this piece of shit is coming from.
So when I say that she was "dressed up as a soldier" I mean it as a compliment.
No... you don't think she was a competent crewman because she was a woman and you can't stand to see a "cute" chick killed.
... there are few if any women who have the skills required to serve as a front-line combat trooper.
And you, Mr. Coren know this because you have extensive combat experience? Clear this up for me. I can't find your name in either British or Canadian after action reports of combat action.
Can we really imagine for a moment that if a group of Taliban tribesmen rushed a trench or an encampment this poor young woman could fight them off, could deal with the thrusts of their long knives and heavy clubs?
Is there any chance that Mr. Coren doesn't have a clue what he's talking about? Karine Blais was a crewman in the armoured corps. She died in her vehicle when a mine exploded. Vehicles and guns were her life. Coren has invented something she would likely never have encountered, but even if it ever had happened I would take her over Coren in a heartbeat. At least I could trust Blais because we would have each other's back.

Poor young woman.

Kiss my rosey red ass, Coren. She was a trained and qualified crewman. You can't rob her of that, no matter what you attempt to portray.

Coren has never written a column lamenting the plight of women in porn movies.

Not one.

That's his front line. And there are all kinds of women who portray
innocence, the gentleness, the grace
And I don't see him smithing words on their behalf, even if they're being brutalized. But apparently, that combat zone is OK with him.

No.

Because if Karine Blais had been killed in some other venue the Michael Corens of this world woud have continued to accept that women of the same age are sexually exploited and not worth comment. But certainly worth watching.

Tough truth for a "journalist". Funny how we hang labels off those who do nothing to earn them.

But true all the same.

And Karine Blais will always be remembered as one of Canada's fallen, in service to the Crown, who believed in her job and did her duty. She died knowing that her family was the most important thing in her life.

In a different war if Karine had been top cover in a tank in my position I know, with the utmost confidence, that she would have given us cover. It would have been "Kid, left 20, down 100. Shoot." And she would have done it because she was a professional. And I would have owed her a beer.

Beer pays for a lot between soldiers, sailors, marines and aircrew. When they get you out alive it doesn't matter what sex they are.

But the death of Karine Blais has totally destroyed Coren's vision of pretty young women. Because sexual exploitation has a particular place with him. And it isn't driving a tank.

--------

I express my sincere regrets to the family and friends of Karine Blais for the disagreable post for which her memory has become a subject. It is my only wish that she be remembered as the dedicated soldier she was.

Monday, April 20, 2009

She was a soldier

Dear Michael Coren,

Having read your latest column about the death of Canadian Forces Trooper Karin Blais as the result of a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, let me be as polite as I can in saying this: Fuck you, you sexist moron. Try your "women can't serve in combat" horseshit on some of the women in the early Israeli army or the Russian Army in World War II or any of these women. You'll be glad of Canada's universal health care system in the aftermath. Trooper Blais was a soldier like many, many others who volunteered, was trained to do a job and died serving her country with honor. Like Capt. Nichola Goddard, and 115 other soldiers, she accepted the risks involved in doing her job and for you to say she was "dressed up as a soldier" is an insult to every woman serving in Canada's military. Women have been serving in combat roles in the Canadian military with distiction for nearly 20 years. She was a soldier and died like one, her gender had nothing to with it.

Update: Nice to see the Torch weigh in on this one as well. It is nice to see some on the other side of the blogosphere break ranks to slap down such an offensive troglodye.(H/T to Dr. Dawg for the milnet link) If only they would do it more often. Why does the Sun give Coren a platform? Why on earth is such an ill-informed and offensive douchebag on television?

And, yes, I sort of figured this would set the Skipper off, but sometimes you need to call in the big guns to make a point.

crosspost from the Woodshed

Summit of the Americas : On not getting "all bogged down in ideological diatribes"

Prior to the Summit-of-the-Americas-of-34-countries-minus-Cuba, Steve said he wasn't sure if he'd want to see another one take place, "because they tended to get all bogged down in ideological diatribes" :
"There are some countries that want to keep fighting the Cold War and frankly wars that go a lot farther back than that."
Like the United Fruit Company?
After urging a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations, he said :
"… we don't turn a blind eye to the fact that Cuba is a communist dictatorship and that we want to see progress on freedom, democracy and human rights as well as on economic matters."

Indeed, ALBA - the trade group comprised of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Honduras, Cuba, Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - had a few points of its own to make about progress, freedom, democracy and human rights, including the embargo of Cuba.
ALBA has said it will not sign the Summit Declaration until they are addressed.
Excerpted :
  • Capitalism has provoked an ecological crisis by subordinating the necessary conditions for life on this planet to the dominance of the market and profit.

  • We question the G20’s decision to triple the amount of resources going to the International Monetary Fund, when what is really necessary is the establishment of a new world economic order that includes the total transformation of the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO [World Trade Organisation], which with their neoliberal conditions have contributed to this global economic crisis.

  • We condemn discrimination against migrants in all its forms. Migration is a human right, not a crime.

  • The solutions to the energy, food and climate change crises have to be integral and interdependent. We cannot resolve a problem by creating others in the areas fundamental to life. For example, generalising the use of agro-fuels can only impact negatively on the price of food and in the utilisation of essential resources such as water, land and forests.

  • Basic services such as education, health, water, energy and telecommunications have to be declared human rights and cannot be the objects of private business nor be commodified by the World Trade Organisation. These services are and should be essential, universally accessible public services.

  • [E]liminate interventionist practices such as covert operations, parallel diplomacy, media wars aimed at destabilising states and governments, and the financing of destabilising groups. It is fundamental that we construct a world in which a diversity of economic, political, social and cultural approaches are recognised and respected.

  • The legitimate struggle against narco-trafficking and organised crime, and any other manifestation of the denominated “new threats,” should not be utilised as excuses for carrying out acts of interference or intervention against our countries.
Hugo Chavez presented Obama with a book : "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent" and suggested that the next Summit of the Americas be held in Cuba.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa described the summit declaration as "light" in that it "does not reflect the economic crisis we are experiencing, which is not a temporary crisis but a crisis of the capitalist system, and that the document suggests solutions by legitimising those responsible for the crisis, for instance, the International Monetary Fund."

I found their declaration of dissent on a website in Australia.
I really think space for some small mention of these entirely reasonable views from over a fifth of the participating summit countries could have been found somewhere within our own rhapsodic media accounts of Steve spending 15 minutes in a hotel kitchen service corridor with Obama.

Cross-posted at Creekside

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Conficker test

This might be useful for some of you:

Many readers have been wondering what the easiest way is to determine whether their computer has been infected with the Conficker worm. Previously I've pointed them to this Conficker Eye Chart -- and that recommendation still holds -- but now I want to respond to further questions about how it works.
...

Here's how it works, in brief: Visit the web page linked above and you'll see six images: The three on top are for security software websites, and the three on the bottom are the logos of various open source operating system distributions. The clever part of all this is that the logos aren't actually being served from the web page linked above, but are rather drawn directly from the six different websites to which each logo belongs.

Conficker (as many other pieces of malware) blocks your web browser from reaching many security websites, so if you don't see some of the security logos on the page, you probably have a problem. Why include the open source logos below it? Because if they don't show up, you are probably simply experiencing an internet connectivity problem instead of being the victim of a malware attack.

Even if it isn't, it's still a pretty cool way to virus check.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Waking Up Canadian . . . .

We love Rachel Maddow . . . .



I say we give Rachel citizenship along with her brother . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Waterboarding you can believe in


"US Attorney General Eric Holder reaffirmed that those CIA employees involved in past torture must be protected from prosecution. Indeed, the US government, he said, would provide them with lawyers in the event others tried to bring cases against them and pay for any monetary penalties they might incur.
"It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department."
.
So who will now step forward to clear the good name of Lynndie England?
At the very least she would seem to have grounds for wrongful dismissal.

That's right... there's a CHOICE

No thanks to the group Sarah Palin addressed in Indiana on Thursday.

Palin unknowingly indicted the very group she was addressing by indicating she had one thing the fetus fetishist crowd that was listening would remove from all women - choice and the right to keep that choice between a woman and her doctor.

At minute 4:30 of the video note how Palin tells the approving audience that she considered her options, not once suggesting that she was obliged to anyone but to her own conscience.



She exercised an option. At least that's what she says. Whether it was said in an effort to elevate herself in diefic synergy or whether it was something that she actually considered, she must now acknowledge that she actually had one and nobody is criticizing her decision.

What drives this right off the white line is that after having supposedly considering a possible option, which exists, she and the group she was addressing would eliminate that choice completely forcing other women take her direction.

That's very convenient. Now that Palin sees no further need for that particular right to exercise an option in her life, remove it from everybody else.

Perhaps Palin should concentrate more on other options she exercised. While she was out of Alaska doing "Indiana Wants Me" to a crowd of anti-choicers, back in Juneau the Alaska Legislature threw her choice for Alaska State attorney-general under the bus in a historic first ever rejection of a governor-appointed head of an Alaskan state agency.

There must be an election in BC...


Political party leaders have discovered a new place in the province.

That would be anywhere in Canada's third-largest province that isn't Greater Vancouver or Greater Victoria.

Lo and behold, BC Liberal leader (and incumbent premier) Gordon Campbell and BC NDP leader Carole James both parachuted into the same southern BC interior city... on the same day. The only time Kamloops sees that much concentration of political power, outside an election, is when a political party times an annual strategy planning and massage retreat to coincide with the greening up of golf courses dotting the South Thompson River.

What's so important about Kamloops? Bellwether ridings. The members elected from Kamloops usually take their seats on the government benches of the legislature.

So, Gordo reaches into his pocket and pulls out a reminder of the "gift" he gave to the BC southern interior last fall.
At a rally in Kamloops Thursday night, Campbell used his government's recent move to cancel tolls on the Coquihalla highway as a way to garner support.

"There are truckers, there are families, there are communities that are really pleased we have taken the toll off the Coquihalla," Campbell said to a cheering crowd.

The cheering crowd would be the party faithful, such as they are. Kamloopsians in general, however, probably view the removal of tolls on the Coquihalla highway (one of two super-highways in BC) somewhat differently.

The highway is a legacy of Expo 86 and had tolls slapped on it by the government of Bill Bennett. The tolls were never intended to finance ordinary construction of the highway, nor were they levied to recover the cost of ordinary maintenance. The promise associated with the construction and accompanying tolls was that once the cost of accelerated construction was recovered, the tolls would be removed.

Thanks to Campbell, however, that never happened.

At about the same time the Coquihalla was removed from the province's list of contingent liabilities, instead of removing the tolls, Campbell offered the highway up for lease to the private sector in a convoluted private-public partnership. The deal was that any private operator would invest in the necessary rehabilitation to upgrade the highway and in return receive the revenue - from perpetual tolls. Worse, the private operator would be permitted to set the rate for tolls and conduct its operations removed from government oversight. In true conservative "the market will sort everything out" fashion, Campbell was actually intending to sell the primary link to the southern interior leaving residents and commercial traffic at the mercy of a for-profit private operator.

That caused an outroar from Tete Jaune Cache to Sicamous. When polled, an overwhelming 97 percent of respondents viewed the sale/lease of the Coquihalla as a betrayal by the Campbell government and rejected the plan with loud protests.

Proving just how out of touch he was with the population outside the Vancouver-area lower mainland and southern Vancouver Island, Campbell pressed ahead with his plan espousing all kinds of future benefits for southern interior residents to be gained by continuing to pay the only road tax in the province - at increased private rates.

Kamloopsians weren't buying it. In fact, Kamloopsians won't buy anything without a guarantee. It has been called one of the toughest markets in Canada, something Campbell was about to find out.

As the Campbell "Privatize it!" plan continued so too did the protests, and something became quite clear to BC Liberal Kamloops MLAs Claude Richmond and Kevin Kruger: The sell-off of the Coquihalla would cost them their seats in the next election. It wasn't just a possibility; it was fully assured. And more often than not, where goes Kamloops goes the fortunes of a provincial political party.

Campbell, very begrudgingly, backed-off claiming he had "listened" to the people, but not without firing a shot of sour grapes along with the announcement.

Campbell said British Columbians have made it clear that they do not see the benefits of this particular partnership. While there was a strong business case for the proposal, evident in the 28 expressions of interest received from the private sector, the public did not see or accept the new improvements that the proposed partnership would provide in this case.

[...]

The public request to maintain the status quo on the Coquihalla means that taxpayers will not receive the resources for new infrastructure that the partnership would have provided.

In short, you people are too stupid to understand how good this is and now you're not getting any dessert.

Most southern interior residents ignored the petulance, satisfied that they had won more of the fight than they had lost. The fact that there were still tolls on the Coquihalla, in violation of the compact which had been reached with a previous government, survived as an undercurrent of discontent. The Campbell government gave every indication that it was intransigent. The tolls would remain... indefinitely.

When the southern interior MLAs complained to Campbell that the lingering effects of the assault were still giving them the election willies the BC Liberals came up with a corny slogan borrowed from a Chevy commercial and started calling the interior of BC "The Heartland". Most southern BC interior residents saw that for what it was: lipstick on a pig. In fact, the "Heartland" moniker became a symbol of the remoteness of a Vancouver-centric government.

So, when Campbell made a sudden announcement in September, 2008, that the tolls would be removed from the Coquihalla people may have indeed been pleased, but they weren't cheering. In fact, most southern interior residents felt the removal of tolls was more than long overdue. It wasn't that Campbell had just provided a surprize gift to the southern BC interior; it was that Campbell had continued to milk cash out of the southern interior highway link, and taxed the people who lived in the interior, far beyond what was considered fair or equitable. There are a good many people who feel they are owed a rebate for five years of tolls they should never have been paying.

And everyone who was willing to look at a calendar knew what brought it about: An election date now risen above the horizon.

Now that it's here, sure enough, Campbell is trying to capitalize on his supposed generosity. If his candidates are returned to Victoria however, it won't be because of him; it will be despite him.

-------

Now, as a matter of interest, the Times-Colonist article to which I linked stated that both Campbell and James were in Kamloops. Strangely, James got one line of text while Campbell got spotlit.

Perhaps James' activities weren't quite as exciting as the crowd of business people Campbell gathered but the TC's coverage in such critical ridings is rather - skewed.

I disagree with James' on a couple of issues, no less than I do with Campbell, but we may never know what she's saying given the coverage by the BC capital city's Canwest-owned newspaper.



Shared pain is lessened, shared joy is increased

That's the most important lesson I've learned from the work of Spider Robinson, but its hardly the only one. For his Callahan's Bar stories alone, I owe the man - never mind all the excellent novels he's written and the great music he's turned me on to or his excellent podcast. He made me realize that punning was not a criminal offense and he introduced me to Bushmills (okay, so maybe he owes everyone who's ever met me an apology - but not me, I owe him BIG).
And so, I wanna tug on your coatsleeve for a minute.
First, for those of you not in the know, let me say that the man is a national treasure. As a writer, he's won most of the major awards they give out in science fiction and with good reason. He's also a regular writer for the Mop&Pail though they foolishly discontinued his regular column a few years back. We won't even get into the massive runaway thing that Callahan's has become on the internet. Suffice to say that at one point the Callahan's bulletin board forum was just about the biggest non-porn site there was back in the days of usenet. Furthermore, he's a natural storyteller and ten minutes listening to his podcast will make you wonder why the CBC hasn't signed this guy as the second coming of Peter Gzowski or at least a summer replacement for Stuart McLean.
Second, let me say that his wife, Jeanne, is also a national treasure as one of the country's foremost choreographers and former modern dancers. She is currently engaged in bringing to life an idea that was the foundation of a trilogy of great science fiction novels Spider and Jeanne co-wrote called Stardance that won a hatful of awards. That idea is dancing in zero gravity and you can see the early experiments here and follow the project here.
So, Spider and Jeanne Robinson are some of my favorite people and their presence their alone is enough to make me consider moving to Bowen Island, BC, when we do move back to Canada.
Kumbayah, hugs and shots of Bushmills all 'round.

Now we get to the harder part.
I learned last week from Spider's podcast that bad things happen to good people. Jeanne went into the hospital for what was supposed to be minor surgery a couple of months ago and it was discovered she had a very nasty case of cancer. She starts radiation treatments this week. Spider's been lucky enough to have her sisters fly in from the east coast to help care for her over the last month or so and apparently has lots of good friends and neighbors to help out too. But I suspect, no, I know, it isn't going to be easy for him to write the new series of books he just signed up to do or any other paying copy while his mind is occupied with trying to help his wife and obviously Jeanne is going to be doing any work for awhile either. Unless someone is making a multimillion dollar movie of your novel, science fiction writing does not pay that well, no matter how good you are and their home is not called "Tottering on the Brink" for nothing.
So if you could drop a few bucks in the hat for them, it would be very, very much appreciated.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dear Canada


Pay attention.

US President Barack Obama has announced his "vision for high-speed rail" in the country, which would create jobs, ease congestion and save energy.

He said the US could not afford not to make the investment in 10 routes. Six of the routes already approved, including California and Florida, could get some of the $8 billion (£5.4bn) earmarked for rail improvements. Mr Obama said his plan would provide faster journeys, increased mobility and better productivity. His strategy envisions a network of short-haul and long-haul corridors of up to 600 miles, with trains capable of speeds of up to 150mph (240km/h). Although super-fast trains in Japan, Germany and China run at more than 220km/h (137mph), the fastest service at the moment in the US averages only 120km/h. He said: "Our highways are clogged with traffic, costing us $80 billion a year in lost productivity and wasted fuel. "Our airports are choked with increased loads. We're at the mercy of fluctuating gas prices all too often," he said. "We pump too many greenhouse gases into the air. What we need, then, is a smart transportation system equal to the needs of the 21st Century."

How about those Bushco warrantless wiretaps, wingnuts?!!

For tis the sport to have the enginer Hoist with his owne petar

William Shakespeare
1603
Hamlet

This post by Boris stirred a mild recollection.

Let's see, Barack Obama was sworn in as president of the United States on January 20th, 2009.

The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution was shredded by somebody else.

You broke it; You own it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

This is your prime minister....

Speaking to you from my bunker in the United States.

How are things shaking out up there?

Wasn't exactly the Million Man March

Was it?

While we're at it, I will provide you with this comment from Montreal Simon's post:
Some high schools do better with a pep rally than some of these cities do with a Tea Party.
Heh! There's a door worth picking.

Thanks to Cheryl for the title line.

Could the economists have been right?


You'd have had to look under rocks in the most obscure places to find an economist in Canada who agreed with the Harper government reduction of the GST. Most addressed it for what it was: An expensive maneouvre designed to do one thing - gain votes.

Via Impolitical comes a report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that suggests Canadians might have been much better off if the GST had remained at its pre-Harper levels.

The basic premise for their observations is that Canadians get a lot of value for their tax dollars - maybe the best deal they will ever get for an equivalent amount of money.

I tend to read CCPA information with a bit of weather eye. I'm always wary of their starting position just as much as I am with the Fraser Institute, but this analysis appears to echo a throng of economists who were dead-set against the GST cut when it was introduced. The fact sheet CCPA issues with the report is consistent, clear and accurate.

The bottom line is that cutting that particular tax could only have one effect: The cutting of services.

Of course, that is exactly what Harper and his reformers want. This is nicely underscored by the latest shot taken at universal health care by a squaloring Preston Manning. By cutting taxes (Good, says Manning) the economy is being stimulated. That's the same voodoo economics of Ronald Reagan. In truth, cutting taxes means less government revenue and that gives the reformers an excuse to hold universal health care out and declare it "too expensive" - we'll have to devise another model. You middle-class folks will just have to get health coverage from one of the newly authorized health management companies...
This would require provincial and federal leadership to create a two track system, public and private, for health care insurance, financing, and delivery — replacing several billions per year of public health-care dollars with private dollars while still preserving universal coverage for all citizens.
And where does Manning propose those private dollars come from? He doesn't actually say it, but count on it being your pocket. He then proceeds to perpetuate a myth:
This is what most European countries have done, resulting in better health care outcomes at lower cost than Canada.
False on two counts.

Manning hasn't produced an example of the European system because it doesn't fit his narrative. In truth, the European system is still a single-payer model. Where there is a "two-track system" (to use Manning's term) there is a plethora of complaints from those accessing the public side of the track about preferential treatment for the wealthy. Not that it matters because very few European countries actually have that kind of system.

What actually exists is similar to the Canadian system but with a patient centered model. Hospitals and services do not receive bulk funding - they are paid for services provided. That's not "two track"; that's efficiency. It's also not what Manning is calling for.

The "lower cost" he continually blusters on about is also mythical. His convenient ommission of Canada's next door neighbour is a disingenuous attempt to obscure a reality: The reason Canada's health care costs are higher per patient than those of Europe happens to be because of our proximity to the US, where health care costs are substantially higher than equivalent care in Europe. Canada is forced into a system of higher compensation in order to prevent the best skills from crossing the border. What Manning doesn't include is that the cost of branded prescription medications in Canada is substantially lower than the US and Europe.

It is worth keeping in mind that as Harper keeps offering tax cuts as an incentive to vote for his party, the cost is higher than most Canadians are willing to accept and the result would likely be something much worse than Manning has fabricated on behalf of his party leader.

Added: Manning said this:
At Canada's high levels of taxation...
That's starting the paragraph with a lie. The OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration has pegged Canada's tax levels at well below the OECD average before the Harper GST cuts. Manning is inventing something he can't substantiate.