Wednesday, September 30, 2009

bishop Kiddie Porn . . . .

Another of pope bennie's jerks makes the news.

CBC reports today:
Former N.S. bishop charged with possession of child porn
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
- CBC

A former Roman Catholic bishop from Nova Scotia is facing child pornography charges.


Raymond Lahey, the former bishop of the dioce
se of Antigonish, is known as the man who oversaw a $15-million settlement with people who said they had been sexually abused by priests in the diocese dating back to 1950.
















He was returning to Canada from the United States when he was arrested at the Ottawa Airport last week after members of the Canada Border Services Agency performed a random check of his laptop computer.


Lahey has been charged with distributing and selling child pornography. No court date has been set.


_______________



On Saturday, Lahey, 69, announced his resignation as bishop of the Antigonish diocese, which the Vatican accepted.


"We are grateful to him for his dedicated and generous service to the diocese," said Anthony Mancini, archbishop of Halifax, in a statement on Saturday.


In a letter to parishioners, Lahey said he needed time for "personal renewal."


I'm guessing some of that "personal renewal" may be renewing acquaintances with an attorney or two from those settlement days. Those were good times, weren't they, raymond?


Poor bennie.


His jerks just keep messin' up . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)


The SPP is dead; long live the SPP

Just three months shy of 2010 - the date by which the Canadian Council of Chief Executives originally projected the goals of the Security and Prosperity Partnership would be completed - yet some people have been mourning or celebrating for years already.

The SPP is dead - a short history :

Oct. 10, 2007 "The Security and Prosperity Partnership is dead," wrote John Ibbitson in the G&M. "Nothing's going to happen anytime soon."

Aug. 1, 2008 "The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America is dead," says Robert Pastor, chair of the 2005 Council on Foreign Relations task force "Building a North American Community" available in book form with co-author John Manley.

Feb. 25, 2009 "The SPP is probably dead," Canadian Council of Chief Executives President Tom d’Aquino tells the foreign affairs committee, adding that "something else" will replace it.

July 13, 2009 "The SPP is in hibernation," - Chris Sands, Canada-U.S. relations expert at the Hudson Institute, in Toward a New Frontier which recommends "rebranding a revived SPP.".

Aug. 2009 "The SPP's Death Knell has Sounded" - Embassy Mag. "The Security and Prosperity Partnership, as we knew it, is dead. May it rest in peace."

Aug. 19, 2009 "The SPP is dead, so where's the champagne?" - Stuart Trew, Council of Canadians, at Rabble.

Sept. 24, 2009 "The SPP is dead. Let's keep in that way." - Murray Dobbin, Canadian author, long time foe of deep integration, and one of my personal heroes.

That's two whole years of announcements about the SPP nailed to its perch and pining for the fjords.

The most recent - Dobbin and Trew - do not imagine for a moment that the push towards deep integration is over by any stretch, yet Dobbin does not see any successor on the horizon:
"Some on the left are so accustomed to losing that they make the claim the SPP will just re-emerge with another name."

And indeed I do so here - Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas.
Bush's outgoing gift to Obama has been embraced and described by Hillary Clinton as "a multilateral initiative to promote shared security and prosperity throughout the Americas".
Stockwell Day has already begun dutifully using the phrase "pathways to prosperity" in the House, while exPM Paul Martin, Chris Sands, d'Aquino, David Emerson and other fans of deep integration assure us of the inevitability of some future SPP rebrand and relaunch.

But what worries me is : do we even need a rebrand and relaunch anymore?

In 2003 the Canadian Council of Chief Executives' came up with the North American Security and Prosperity Initiative to shape Canada's future within North America. It called for "reinventing borders; regulatory efficiency; resource security; and a North American defence perimeter."

Here's how that agenda has been achieved through the SPP so far :
Joint RCMP-Homeland Security “Shiprider” pilot project
Civil Assistance Plan signed in Feb. 2008 allows the military of one nation to support the other during a civil emergency
Passenger Protect no-fly list
Sharing military responsibilities in the arctic"
Smart Borders' and unmanned drones patrolling the Canada US border
The exile and/or detainment in Canada of persons of interest to Homeland Security
Canada's cats paw FTAs with countries the US hopes to reach
The Canada Israel 'Homeland Security' pact
Canada helps the US occupy Afghanistan
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
Biometric data into visas for foreign nationals
RFID drivers' licences - a de facto continental ID
Run-of-river projects and ramped up tarsands extraction for energy export
Proposal for national Canadian energy or water policy blocked
Streamlining regulations on food, drugs, pesticides, genetically modified seeds.
"Intermodal transportation concept for North America"
Integrated North American energy and resource program

Does anyone really think just because 30 odd CEOs from the North American Competitiveness Council aren't meeting as a designated SPP group anymore that that's the end of it?

Ten days ago Harper stood in the White House and said :

"Today, Canada is announcing a major hydroelectric project, a big transmission line in northwestern British Columbia, which has the capacity down the road to be part of a more integrated North American hydroelectric system."

"Canada is not leaving Afghanistan; Canada will be transitioning from a predominantly military mission to a mission that will be a civilian humanitarian development mission after 2011."

So, no, I'm not celebrating anything until the SPP and the groundwork already laid by the CCCE - plus the unseen continued integration of its facets throughout the public service - can be stopped and rolled back.

Paul Manly is taking his film ‘You, Me and the SPP: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule’ on the road.
The tour, which will visit 33 cities across Canada, will be launched with an Ottawa Premiere on Parliament Hill on October 1st. hosted by NDP International Trade Critic, Peter Julian.
The Ottawa screening will be followed by a panel discussion and Q & A, featuring, Peter Julian, Teresa Healy (Senior Researcher, Canadian Labour Congress), Bruce Campbell (Executive Director, Canadian Council for Policy Alternatives), Maude Barlow (Chairperson, Council of Canadians), Louise Casselman (Common Frontiers) and Paul.

The screening and panel will be streamed live by Rabble.ca - see promo page

From Ottawa, the tour will be working its way east to Newfoundland and then back across Canada to British Columbia. You can see all the tour dates on the film website here

Each confirmed screening date has a pdf poster, handbill and press release that can be downloaded and used to promote the screening. Please help out where you can. All of the screenings are either free or by donation.

This ain't over yet ...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Moyers Takes on dickhead armey . . . .

A Bill Moyers essay last week on the Washington, DC "wrong"-wing protest, and dick armey's involvement in it.

Moyers takes armey to task at 3 minutes into the video, with particular emphasis on armey's own publicly-funded health care.







What is it about repugs named "dick"; armey, cheney, nixon, etc.?



Did their parents have advance knowledge of what their offspring would grow up to be ? ? ? ?

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Afghan Army — Is It a Figment of Washington's Imagination?

TOMDISPATCH.COM is a fine source of articles of concern to us all. Afghanistan has rightly come to their attention:

it's remarkable how little we actually know about the staggering expensive American and NATO effort to train the Afghan army and police. Stop and think for a moment. When was the last time you read in any U.S. paper a striking account, or any account for that matter, in which a reporter actually bothered to observe the training process in action? Think how useful that might have been for the present debate in Washington.

Fortunately, TomDispatch is ready to remedy this. Site regular Jones, who first went to Afghanistan in 2002 and, in an elegant memoir, Kabul in Winter, has vividly described her years working with Afghan women, spent time this July visiting U.S. training programs for both the Afghan army and police. She offers an eye-opening, on-the-spot look at certain realities which turn the "debate" in Washington inside out and upside down.

Meet the Afghan Army
Is It a Figment of Washington's Imagination?

In the current policy debate about the Afghan War in Washington, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin wants the Afghans to defend their country. Senator John McCain, the top Republican on the committee, agrees but says they need even more help from even more Americans. The common ground -- the sacred territory President Obama gropes for -- is that, whatever else happens, the U.S. must speed up the training of "the Afghan security forces."

American military planners and policymakers already proceed as if, with sufficient training, Afghans can be transformed into scale-model, wind-up American Marines. That is not going to happen. Not now. Not ever. No matter how many of our leaders concur that it must happen -- and ever faster.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Handy Hallmark

Believe me, I am grateful. It saves me so much time and trouble in listening to government officials, to know that once they use the word "academic" as an epithet I can stop listening at once and go take a shower instead.

In their minds, "academic" means "someone who spends their whole working life studying, researching and teaching one specific topic, and who therefore knows less about it than the boyos down at the Salisbury House Saturday morning breakfast club."

Rich Coleman BC's Minister of Housing and Social Development, sprang the A word early in his interview CBC interview this morning, as he pooh-poohed the insistence of Helen Lenskyj, professor emeritus in sociology at the University of Toronto, that virtually every Olympic host city swept their homeless under the rug prior to the big event. "This government has spent more money on housing initiatives than at any time in BC government," he proudly said, after he lost interest in declaring that Dr. Lenskyj didn't know what she was talking about because she had never delivered a social program. Oh, and this proposed bylaw is like totally unrelated to the fact of the looming Olympic invasion, due to strike during the bitter bonechilling cold of Vancouver's -- umm -- rainy season.

(Sorry, I am a Winnipegger and I must scoff. Nyah, nyah, our homeless are tougher than your homeless.)

The whole predictable, lamentable situation leads me to another rather claustrophobic question, and I will get there by way of a roomful of pennies.

Long ago in university, our professor in Psych 101 asked us all to take out a penny and flip it. Those who got "heads" flipped again. After a few iterations, we were left with only a couple of people out of a room of 300, whose every flip had come up roses. Were these people some miracle-workers? No, even us undergrads could not miss, seen in the aggregate, the falsity of that idea. They had just threaded a random maze and popped out the bottom when so many had been held back, also by plain chance.

Shift your view to the job market. It's true that skill and education and aptitude effect who is employed and who isn't, but luck also plays a part, and as productivity becomes higher the spots available to be fought over become fewer. In a country of millions, many will flip and get tails, and wind up with no income at all.

Question -- in a free nation like ours, where can the man of many tails be?

Literally, where can he be? If he cannot rent or buy, if he fears the tuberculosis or violence of shelters, if he cannot even set up a tent in the wilderness (it's Crown land, not his) than where can he be?

Everyone has to be somewhere. Where can you be, when your pennies give out?

Stealth Public Option . . . .

This one from SF Gate is too good to edit or trim down:

The menace of the public option

M.C. Blakeman | Saturday, September 19, 2009

Of all the current assaults on our noble republic, perhaps none is more dangerous than the public option - specifically, the public library option.


For far too long, this menace has undermined the very foundations of our economy. While companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble struggle valiantly each day to sell books, these communistic cabals known as libraries undercut the hard work of good corporate citizens by letting people read their books for free. How is the private sector supposed to compete with free? And just what does this public option give us? People can spend hours and hours in these dens of socialism without having to buy so much as a cappuccino. Furthermore, not only can anyone read books for free in the library, they can take them home, too. They get a simple card that can be used at any library in town. No checking on the previous condition of books they've read. No literacy test. Nothing. Yet, do these libertines of literature let you choose any book you want, anytime you want it? No. Have you ever tried to get the latest best-seller at a public library? They put you on a waiting list for that, my friend. And if you do ask these government apparatchiks a question about a book, they start talking your ear off, and pretty soon they're telling you what to read.

Of course, if you break one of their petty rules and return a book late, you have to pay fines that mount grotesquely each day. Even if you die, your overdue fees keep piling up. Is that not a death tax? How long must the elderly live in fear of burdening their children with these unfair sanctions on their estates?


Don't be fooled for a minute. Somebody has to pay for these "free" libraries, and I'll tell you who it is, pal. Those good ol' suckers, the American taxpayers, that's who.

Have you ever wondered who's really behind this public library option? And don't you think it's fishy that they mask their nefarious activities with benign-sounding names, like Friends of the Library? What's their real agenda - and why do they have so many "volunteer" meetings, anyway?

No, my fellow Americans. We cannot wait until we're all goose-stepped into a massive book checkout line. This assault on capitalism and our very way of life has got to end. Be subversive ... burn your library card! Go out and buy a book!

Forewarned is forearmed!

To the gunwales!


Don't let the Socialists get away with this attack on capitalism ! ! ! !

H/T Lloyd

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A big, big boost for nano-tech

ACCORDING TO THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, David Grier, a scientist at New York University, has developed a laser technology called holographic video microscopy. Jesse Emspak's article calls it "NYU’s real-life tricorder

Why should you care? Well, it appears Dave's little invention is the ideal tool for farkling at the nano-scale, and it's relatively inexpensive, compared to lots of other equipment. This means more people getting into nano-tech, and more developments, sooner.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why are we in Afghanistan?



Map of Taliban presence in Afghanistan from
The International Council on Security and Development :
Data detailing the presence of the Taliban in Afghanistan was gathered from daily insurgent activity reports between January and September 2009. ICOS believes that the level of incidents recorded by this methodology is conservative.
If we are to have standing armies, the very least we can do, the absolute minimum responsibility we have to them, is not send them off to die in the useless occupations of nations who have done nothing to us.

Why are we occupying Afghanistan again?

Not, as Gordon O'Connor foolishly announced in the HoC in April 2006, to prevent "them from coming here".
Not, as recent elections there attest, to bring democracy to the people.
Not even apparently to improve their lot in life :

Fisk :
"Every three months, the Canadian authorities publish a scorecard on their military "progress" in Afghanistan. ... The latest report, revealed this week, proves that Kandahar province is becoming more violent, less stable and less secure – and attacks across the country more frequent – than at any time since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. There was an "exceptionally high" frequency of attacks this spring compared with 2008.

There was a 108 per cent increase in roadside bombs. Afghans are reporting that they are less satisfied with education and employment levels, primarily because of poor or non-existent security. Canada is now concentrating only on the security of Kandahar city, abandoning any real attempt to control the province.

Canada's army will be leaving Afghanistan in 2011, but so far only five of the 50 schools in its school-building project have been completed. Just 28 more are "under construction". But of Kandahar province's existing 364 schools, 180 have been forced to close."

And not, as Ann Jones - author of Kabul in Winter and a teacher in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2006 - writes in a remakable first-hand report at Tom Dispatch following her return trip this July, to train an Afghan police force and army to take over after we've gone either :
"So who are these security forces? They include the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP). International forces and private contractors have been training Afghan recruits for both of them since 2001. In fact, the determination of Western military planners to create a national army and police force has been so great that some seem to have suppressed for years the reports of Canadian soldiers who witnessed members of the Afghan security forces engaging in a fairly common pastime, sodomizing young boys.

Current training and mentoring is provided by the U.S., Great Britain, France, Canada, Romania, Poland, Mongolia, New Zealand, and Australia, as well as by the private for-profit contractors MPRI, KBR (formerly a division of Halliburton), Pulau, Paravant, and RONCO. "

Eight years on and $10-billion later just for training the police force, Ann Jones tells us, with a projected goal of 400,000 as the supposed end-strength quota for the combined security forces -- an army of 240,000 soldiers and a police force with 160,000 men, where are they?

The Invisible Men
"What is there to show for all this remarkably expensive training? Although in Washington they may talk about the 90,000 soldiers in the Afghan National Army, no one has reported actually seeing such an army anywhere in Afghanistan.

When 4,000 U.S. Marines were sent into Helmand Province in July to take on the Taliban in what is considered one of its strongholds, accompanying them were only about 600 Afghan security forces, some of whom were police.

Why, you might ask, didn't the ANA, 90,000 strong after eight years of training and mentoring, handle Helmand on its own? No explanation has been offered. American and NATO officers often complain that Afghan army units are simply not ready to "operate independently," but no one ever speaks to the simple question: Where are they?

My educated guess is that such an army simply does not exist. It may well be true that Afghan men have gone through some version of "Basic Warrior Training" 90,000 times or more. When I was teaching in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2006, I knew men who repeatedly went through ANA training to get the promised Kalashnikov and the pay. Then they went home for a while and often returned some weeks later to enlist again under a different name."
And with 40% of country unemployed who can blame them ?

Ms Jones :
"Think instead about what you might have won -- and could still win -- had you spent all those military billions on food. Or maybe agriculture. Or health care. Or a civilian job corps. Is it too late for that now?"
Yes, Ann, it is. Because we are not even there because it is the "right thing to do".

John Pilger :

"The Afghan war is a fraud. It began as an American vendetta for domestic consumption in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks, in which not a single Afghan was involved. The Taliban, who are Afghans, had no quarrel with the US and were dealing secretly with the Clinton administration over a strategic pipeline. They offered to apprehend Osama Bin Laden and hand him over to a clerical court but this was rejected.

The establishment of a permanent US/NATO presence in a resource-rich strategic region is the principal reason for the war...The game is over.

Corporatism and a reinvigorated militarism have finally appropriated parliamentary democracy, a historic shift.."


Poll results from yesterday's Toronto Star
- one vote per IP (yes, I checked)

Post cobbled together from posts at Creekside yesterday.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Remembering Robert . . . .


The
Braidwood Inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski resumes tomorrow.


Today's "24 Hours-Vancouver" had an interview with Robert's mother, Zofia Cisowski. Excerpts are below:


Who was Robert Dziekanski?
Polish immigrant killed at YVR remembered as a 'fantastic person'

By MATT KIELTYKA | September 21, 2009


A faint smile crept into Zofia Cisowski's face - but only for a moment.

It's a smile that has appeared far too rarely since her son, Robert Dziekanski, died on the floor of the Vancouver International Airport after being jolted by multiple Taser shots Oct. 14, 2007.

But as much as his death - and ensuing inquiry into the circumstances around it - has shredded Cisowski's life, she can't hide her maternal pride when thinking about her boy.


_______________



She raised Robert on her own in the town of Gliwice in southern Poland and worked long hours to support her lone child.


Late shifts were always risky propositions behind the Iron Curtain. She had to sneak around in the dead of night, taking shelter in the shadows of every building on her way home to avoid being caught breaking curfew.


At the age of 10, Robert may have been too young to understand his mom's stress and fear.


But he knew enough.


"He saw that I was over-worked," Cisowski reminisced, that smile beginning to show itself again. "That's when he made his first meal, crepes.


"He forgot to add eggs, but everything else was right. He added onions and pepper and everything," she said, eyes shimmering. "I was very thankful he would do something for me. That when I came back from work I would have something to eat. I will never forget that."


That was Robert, always willing to help.


"He would give people everything he had," Cisowski said. "He had a good heart."


Iwona Kosowska, a long-time neighbour of Robert, says that picture of Robert needs to endure.


She remembers him as a "fantastic person."


The two would spend hours in the garden together and Robert would play with her daughter.


"That's how he was and it won't change," she told 24 hours. "This is simply the truth."


Kosowska was livid when she was put on the hot seat at Braidwood Inquiry earlier this year as lawyers asked her about Robert's past, health and whether he had drinking and smoking problems.


To her, it was a thinly veiled smear campaign.


"Can we stop this line of questioning?" she pleaded during her testimony March 30. "You are trying to make a bad person out of him, which means that you can kill a bad person but you cannot kill a good person. I'm fed up. I'm not going to answer any more questions. How can you?

_______________


That's why the heart-broken mother speaks of the Robert she knew and loved.


"He had a very good heart, that's the most important thing," she maintains, as determined as ever. "He never did anyone any harm, he was a good person. But in this world, it's the good people that get taken away from us."


Robert, a good person who did no harm, dead for no good reason.

Gives one pause . . . .

(Cross-posted at Moved to Vancouver)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The HST will create thousands of elephants in BC


That's right. Elephants. Or, if you've been listening to Gordon Campbell's homeboy, Colin Hansen, it will be jobs.

Same thing.

You see, Hansen is ready at a moment's notice to don his body armour and jump out in front of a microphone to tell you that introducing a 12 percent HST in British Columbia will create thousands of .... (oh hell, just fill in the blank with anything you like)... jobs.

That, however, is his end game. What he never tells you is how he expects all that fresh new employment to be created or even if, after his closed door meetings with the movers and shakers in the anti-PST business world, if he has even the slightest hint of a guarantee that such a thing will happen.

Reason? He doesn't have a clue. He's hoping that the economic crash, (brought about by the very people who are telling him that HST is a job creation formula), will ease and that a slow recovery in the US house construction market will see forestry and mill jobs start to increase in BC. He'll then point to the nexus of unemployment in BC and tell you how his wizardry created jobs. (Never mind that they were the very same jobs which were lost because conservatives of his ilk refused to acknowledge that the financial world had gone south with everyone's life savings.)

So, I take pleasure in pointing out a few things which lead out of Bob's posting.

After protest sprung up around the province Hansen once again took his position in front of the microphone. (Emphasis mine)
Finance Minister Colin Hansen was quick to respond, holding a news conference with business leaders to talk about why B.C. should implement the HST.

"There's no question that the HST is the most effective form of … consumer tax that a country or a jurisdiction can implement," he said, adding the tax will create jobs.

Bully!! Aside from the standard "it will create jobs" bullshit, it raises another small question: The Campbell corporate government has been in power since 2001. How is it that every overture from the feds to implement HST was dismissed by this mob until now? If it's the most effective form of consumer taxation, as Hansen describes it, why did it take eight full years to buy into the idea? Were they just too stupid to realize how cool a system it was?

So, they're either very dumb or they're lying. Either way, they shouldn't be allowed to represent anybody.

The kicker however is the continuing line that Hansen and Campbell had not formulated a plan to implement the HST before the last provincial election (May 2009). By their account, the idea was latched onto after they retook government. (Which would make it a hastily adopted plan without public consultation.)

So, along comes the Victoria Times-Colonist asking for information. They wanted to see the government correspondence related to the HST from January to September 2009. Surprise!

The Times Colonist, like dozens of other media outlets, is requesting the documents to see whether the Liberal government is telling the truth when it says it never considered implementing the HST before the May election. It introduced the tax less than two months after winning a new majority government.
Diligent little devils down there on Douglas Street and what did they get?

A Freedom of Information Request by the Times Colonist for government records about the HST came back with a hefty fee estimate this week: $3,500.
$3,500 for photocopying and vetting?! Yet Hansen says they weren't even considering it before the middle of this summer.

That's a lot of correspondence that piled up in a few weeks.

I wouldn't even bother asking any further. The estimate for the FOI request alone tells the story. There is a ton of documents. And the bill the Time-Colonist would have to pay is either an intentional intervention by a minister to make them go away or the pile is so huge that it stretches back to 2008.

It doesn't matter. It just means the Campbell government is moulded around the things it has always found attractive: corruption, liars and drunks.


"No HST" Rally in Vancouver . . . .


Today was the initial rally in BC for those opposing the HST or Harmonized Sales Tax. There were about 15 rallies taking place today across the province and I attended the Vancouver affair held outside the new convention centre.


Premier gordo campbell and his LINO* party has seen fit to initiate this program next year in the province without having the integrity to advise the voters prior to his re-election in May of this year.


Good job, gordo.


If your're not familiar with the program, you can check the chief economist of TD Bank's review
here and here. Here is an anti-HST site of interest, also.


All in all, it was a beautiful day for a protest rally and the organizers put the Vancouver attendance at between 4 - 5,000. It will be interesting to see the MSM's estimates.


One of the great things about this gathering was the "harmony" of opposing viewpoints. Political parties from the Communist Party to the Libertarian Party, and organizations representing senior citizens and students.


I guess gordo has unified something in BC, anyway.


Opposition.


Beautiful day for a protest rally



The crowd

Typical sign


Bill Vander Zalm, former Socred premier


Carole James, NDP Leader


Vicki Huntington, Independent MLA


Our West End MLA, Spencer Herbert


Ellen Woodsworth, COPE City Councillor


Chris Delaney, Deputy Leader, BC Conservatives

My favourite sign:




Don't ya' just love it ? ? ? ?

* Liberal in name only

UPDATE on gordo's popularity.

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Friday, September 18, 2009

The sins of the Son

Most Canadians have never traveled through Kamloops International Airport. That's understandable. Kamloops is off the beaten air track (also known as the 32,000 foot brown smudge).

There are a couple of things about Kamloops airport that you should know.

First, Kamloops International Airport (YKA in travel agent lingo) is actually Fulton Field. It's named after Wing Commander John Fulton, ("Moose" to his friends and enemies), who commanded the first Royal Canadian Air Force bomber squadron to enter service with 3 Wing of Bomber Command during the 2nd World War. Moose, highly decorated during the war himself, had the honour of commanding 419 Squadron during which one of two Victoria Crosses was awarded to the RCAF... for the whole war. In this case it was to Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski who died after trying to save his fellow air-gunner.

But, I digress.

The second thing that is relevant to Kamloops airport is that, if you ever pass through it, you will note that the security is tighter than an elephant's hide at full drought. It's almost embarrassing.

Ottawa: What's that?
Moi: Camera bag, complete with camera.
Ottawa: OK. Hey! Diana! Did you hear about....

Kamloops: What's that?
Moi: Camera bag, complete with camera.
Kamloops: Step back, Sir. (And they ripped it apart. Everything!)

Why would a little hole-in-the-wall airport which services a resource industrial hub and the Austrian Olympic ski team have such a weird level of security? Well, actually, it's very simple.

Air India flight 182. The worst terrorist attack to be hatched on Canadian soil and, until the World Trade Center attack in 2001, the most heinous terrorist act to have been planned and originated in developed North America. One of those originally accused of having perpetrated this act is alive, well and acquitted of all wrong-doing, and living in Kamloops.

His alleged accomplice at the time was Ripudaman Singh Malik, who was also acquitted.

His son ain't so lucky.
The lawyer son of an acquitted Air India suspect has been cited for professional misconduct for allegedly misleading the court during his father's legal aid hearing.
Allegedly?! I think not. The law society is one thing, but, in fact, the court in which he was testifying said he was lying. (Emphasis mine)

The allegations of misconduct stem from a hearing concerning whether his father was eligible for legal aid at the Air India bombing trial.

The younger Malik gave evidence about the family's finances.

In the decision rejecting the funding application, the judge found Malik misled the court.

That's not an allegation; that's a finding by a high court justice. Malik provided false evidence. That it has gone though both the court and the law society internal disciplinary process and the next act is to instruct remedy, Malik, the younger, is guilty. The allegation has been proven.

So, what other lies need to be uncovered?


Thursday, September 17, 2009

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


With condolences and respect to the family and friends of Private Jonathan Couturier, 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e RĂ©giment. Killed due to enemy action.









Je me souviens

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Goodbye Mary Travers.

Peter, Paul and Mary were born in Mary's Greenwich Village apartment. In 1961 they stepped out and were forever the leaders of a movement which left others in the dust.

Mary Travers, that powerful voice and that strong woman is no longer with us.

There is an old saying that you are only as important in this world as the hole you leave when you pull your hand out of a bucket of water.

Strangely, no one considered that the water might be frozen.

Mary's passing is leaving a huge hole.





How many times I wish the simple questions of her anthem had been answered.



We will miss her.

Garry seems to be feeling the same way.

Well, How 'Bout That ? ? ? ?


New York Representative Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, yesterday introduced a bill in Congress.


From the Representative's web-site:

September 15, 2009

Nadler, Baldwin and Polis Introduce the Respect for Marriage Act to Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)


Civil Rights advocates and LGBT Americans herald new legislation to overturn one of the nation's most discriminatory laws



WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), along with Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), with a total of 91 original co-sponsors to date, introduced the Respect for Marriage Act in the House of Representatives. This legislation would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law which discriminates against lawfully married same-sex couples.

The 13-year-old DOMA singles out legally married same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law, selectively denying them critical federal responsibilities and rights, including programs like social security that are intended to ensure the stability and security of American families.

The Respect for Marriage Act, the consensus of months of planning and organizing among the nation’s leading LGBT and civil rights stakeholders and legislators, would ensure that valid marriages are respected under federal law, providing couples with much-needed certainty that their lawful marriages will be honored under federal law and that they will have the same access to federal responsibilities and rights as all other married couples.


The Respect of Marriage Act would accomplish this by repealing DOMA in its entirety and by adopting the place-of-celebration rule recommended in the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, which embraces the common law principle that marriages that are valid in the state where they were entered into will be recognized. While this rule governs recognition of marriage for purposes of federal law, marriage recognition under state law would continue to be decided by each state.


The Respect for Marriage Act would not tell any state who can marry or how married couples must be treated for purposes of state law, and would not obligate any person, church, city or state to celebrate or license a marriage of two people of the same sex. It would merely restore the approach historically taken by states of determining, under principles of comity and Full Faith and Credit, whether to honor a couple’s marriage for purposes of state law.

_______________


“The full repeal of DOMA is long overdue,” said Rep. Nadler. “When DOMA was passed in 1996, its full harm may not have been apparent to all Members of Congress because same-sex couples were not yet able to marry. It was a so-called ‘defense’ against a hypothetical harm. This made it easy for our opponents to demonize gay and lesbian families. Now, in 2009, we have tens of thousands of married same-sex couples in this country, living openly, raising families and paying taxes in states that have granted them the right to marry, and it has become abundantly clear that, while the sky has not fallen on the institution of marriage, as DOMA supporters had claimed, DOMA is causing these couples concrete and lasting harm. Discrimination against committed couples and stable families is terrible federal policy. But, with a President who is committed to repealing DOMA and a broad, diverse coalition of Americans on our side, we now have a real opportunity to remove from the books this obnoxious and ugly law.”


“In support of families throughout the nation, our legislation will extend to same-sex, legally married couples the same federal rights and recognition now offered to heterosexual married couples, nothing more, nothing less,” said Rep. Baldwin, Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. “As we continually strive to form a more perfect Union, repealing DOMA is a necessary step toward full equality for LGBT Americans.”

I wish these fine people all the best in their endeavour to expand equality in the US. It would be a great step forward if the legislation was enacted into law.

However, with the way elected "representatives" are demagoguing a Public Option in health care, I have serious doubts the same "representatives" will grant equality to persons of the homosexual community.


"We've come a long way, baby," but that doesn't mean the bigots have joined us on the journey . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Steve's big 42 minutes with O


White House greeter : Hi, Steve, is it? The big O is terribly sorry not to greet you himself - he's in the loo.

Steve : Well, uh, that's perfectly fine

WH greeter : He knew you'd understand. Right this way. Of course I can't go in there with you myself ...

h/t West End Bob for the laugh this morning

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Finally . . . .

(Updated below)

Finally, some good news out of Iraq, by way of McClatchy:


Iraqi who threw shoes at Bush released to hero's welcome
Hannah Allam | McClatchy Newspapers | September 15, 2009

BAGHDAD, Iraq
The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at then-President George W. Bush last year was freed from prison Tuesday, expressing no remorse for hurling what he called a "flower to the occupier."


Muntathar al Zaidi received a hero's welcome at the offices of his employer, al Baghdadiya television station, where his colleagues slaughtered sheep and danced in celebration of his release. Originally a three-year term for assaulting a head of state, Zaidi's sentence was reduced and he was released early because he had no criminal record.


Sporting a dark suit and a scarf printed with the Iraqi flag, a paler and thinner Zaidi told a news conference that Iraqi guards tortured him with whippings and electric shocks during his nine-month detention. He was missing at least one front tooth.


_______________



Zaidi said the years of witnessing war's brutalities as a journalist built up inside him and exploded last Dec. 14, when Bush gave a farewell news conference alongside Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki in Baghdad. Zaidi interrupted Bush's remarks by throwing his shoes at the president, shouting the words that earned him admiration and notoriety around the globe: "This is a farewell kiss, you dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."


Bush ducked the flying shoes, and the episode quickly went viral via YouTube, spawning online shoe-throwing games, parodies, folk songs and poetry. A wealthy Saudi reportedly offered millions for the shoes, Arab women have written love letters to Zaidi and a statue of a giant shoe was erected in Saddam Hussein's hometown before the Iraqi government ordered it removed.




al Zaidi should be given the keys to the city and a statue erected in his honour . . . .

Update:
Mutadhar al-Zaidi's statement after being released from prison is here.


(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Yo! Support bro's!


.
In comments yesterday back here Fern Hill had an excellent idea.
Ok, guys, here's your chance. Go!
.

Monday, September 14, 2009

At The Going Down Of The Sun....


With condolences and respect to the family and friends of Private Patrick Lormand, 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e RĂ©giment. Killed due to enemy action.









Je me souviens

"Million" "Moran" March

They can't read the health care bill, they can't behave in public meetings - hell, they can't even count - but they sure are angry. And ignorant. And racist.


The 9/12 movement - typical conservatives: A day late and a clue short.








Please America, don't let these modern-day know-nothings bully the rest of you into going along with their pig-ignorant me-firstism. Let them know that elections have consequences and that they lost the election by a huge margin. Most of these geezers will be dead of old age and apoplexy in ten or twenty years anyways if meth addiction, gun accidents and other forms of fatal stupidity don't get them first.


These are the same people who bought into Nixon's "Silent Majority" bullshit and were taught to hate anyone smarter than themselves and obey anyone richer than they were. The same bloodthirsty reactionaries who cheered for the Chicago cops at the Democratic convention in 1968 and for the Ohio Nation Guard at Kent State a couple of years later. The same people who thought that William Calley deserved a medal instead of a court martial. The same people who thought Woodward and Bernstien should have been jailed for treason. The same idiots who still think Bill Clinton lying about getting a blowjob was more important than Iran-Contra. These are the same square-headed, gas-guzzler driving, aerosol-cheeze-eating, rainforest-chopping, gun-hording, smug, "I'm-all-right-Jack" asses who shout "get a job" at homeless people and "If you don't like it here, why don't you move to Russia" at anti-war and human-rights demonstrators.


Well, here's a news flash Mr. and Mrs. Silent Majority: The popular, legitimately nominated candidate of one of America's two main political parties won the election in a legitimate fashion by a sizable margin. He might not be the person you voted for, he may even be a different color than you and think differently from you, but he is still the President, just like the last guy was. It's funny you're getting all upset about government spending now that someone wants to spend the money on getting poor people decent medical care instead of blowing up foreigners for no good reason. You don't like it --too damn bad. "America, love it or leave it" If you chickenshit, hardhearted, crewcut facists don't like it in the land of the free and the home of the brave, why don't you move to Shutthefuckupistan?


Doesn't sound so good when the shoe is on the other foot does it? But you'll notice, despite the amped up feelings on both sides, virtually no one on the left side of the divide is calling the people on the right traitors or questioning their patriotism or issuing "conservative hunting licences" or saying they should all be put to death. A lot of us on the left would love to see George Bush and Dick Cheney and the rest of their junta in jail for war crimes, but I don't recall seeing any of them burned or hung in effigy. I didn't see any guns at the anti-war rallies. We may have called Bush a Nazi, but he was killing tens of thousands of people and wiping his ass with the constitution at the time - actions which the conservative movement mostly applauded I might add - while Obama's great crime is trying to save the U.S. economy from meltdown and fix it so everyone, rich or poor, can go to the doctor if they are sick.

That isn't socialism any more than having a tax-funded fire department or public school system or public roads are socialism. You want to know what socialism is? Having the government build sports stadiums at taxpayer expense. It starts down the road to facism when they do it so that private companies run by their cronies can use the stadium to make a profit. But I digress.


So the LaRouchers, the Glenn Beck fans, the Klansmen, the Paulites, the white pride militiamen, the conservative bloggers, the freepers, the CPAC creeps and the Ayn Rand fan club got together and had they little jambouree in Washington. Good for them. If Osama Bin Laden had crashed a 747 on their little shriekfest and killed them all, the average IQ in the United States would have gone up ten or fifteen points, but it still would have been a tragic waste of human life.


This something the screamers on the right don't get. No one really wishes you ill, no one wants to hurt you and you aren't going to sent to a re-education camp or have homosexuality "shoved down your throat" or be made to pay more taxes unless you are already pretty well off. We just wish you would stop shouting nonsense while grown ups are talking and stop getting in the way while we are trying to clean up your mess.


If you'd calm down and turn off Rush and Beck and Fox News for a couple of weeks and read a book or two about history and politics that were not published by Regnery or recommended by National Review, if you went out and listened to some people who weren't exactly like you, you might even realize that your country could be a pretty wonderful place for everyone in it if you'd pitch in and help out a bit and stop trying to screw people to get a little more crap you don't really need - started thinking more about how you're playing the game and whether you're really having any fun than what the score is and winning at any cost.



Everyone in the United States, no matter how ignorant or bugfuck nuts, has the right to voice their opinion and demonstrate and if nothing else, this outpouring of crazy should at least galvanize the Sensible Majority(tm) to turn off hate radio and change the channel when Glenn Beck comes on. But that isn't enough. Agreeing to disagree is fine between reasonable people on issues that are not life and death. But going along to get along is not working with the militant conservatives. If you give them an inch, they will take your yard, put a chemical waste dump in it and then refuse you health insurance when the chemicals cause cancer and won't let you sue the chemical producers because that would be liberal nazi socialism or something and capitalism rools USA! USA! USA! Blar-har-har-har! --- This cancer on the body politic must be confronted before it poisons public discourse for another few generations. These guys invariably lie or just plain don't know what the hell they are talking about -- they need to be called on their shit constantly.


Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but everyone is also entitled to tell you that your opinion is stupid, meanspirited and totally uniformed and should be ignored if not ridiculed. To put it in terms the teabaggers understand, I bring you one of the most iconic photos of our internet age, the guy I like to think of as Teabagger Zero:





(hat tip to Red Tory, and JJ)
(crossposted from the Woodshed)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Proud to be a member of that 'left-wing fringe group' called 'women'



"I'm thinking of making T-shirts: "Proud to be a member of that 'left-wing fringe group' called 'Women,' " wrote Antonia Zerbisias two days ago. She was referring of course to Steve's unplugged nonsense from Wednesday :

"Instead of subsidizing court challenges, the previous government was doing, subsidizing lawyers to bring forth court challenges by left-wing fringe groups .."
Zerb continues :

"Thank you for finally admitting that your government shut down the Court Challenges program in 2006 not just because, as then-Heritage Minister Bev Oda claimed in Parliament, you "recognize the importance of women" but because you believe that that women's rights are "left-wing fringe" rights."
As well as gays, lesbians, persons with a disability ...
The Court Challenges Program (CCP) funded "test-cases initiated by individuals and groups to challenge federal laws and policies that violate their constitutional equality rights."

Yeah, good thing we got rid of that - now only the rich can afford to worry about equality.

Antonia Z has a facebook page for Proud to be's , a follow-up blogpost today, and a T-shirt design from Francesca Dobbyn. Really hoping to see those T's on the streets in time for our maybe upcoming election.

In the meantime, here's our virtual T above, signed by the proud to be left-wing fringe women bloggers and commenters group at Creekside over the last couple of days, plus, um, one guy I just couldn't resist. Sadly the Beav expense account does not extend to actually printing them up but hey - Woot! - that was fun! Print one up yourself - I'm going to.

With many thanks to all for your names, your support, and to Antonia Z, DAMMIT JANET, Cathie from Canada, Impolitical, Warren Kinsella, Constant Vigilance, Bread n Roses, and all you facebookies for linking to it.
.

Smart Guy . . . .


The Rev. was right.

Here's the evidence.

Douche bag - 1, Health Care debate - 0 . . . .


Friday, September 11, 2009

If you Facebook . . .

IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE FACEBOOK FLOCK, this little item by Robert Lemos, on MIT's Technology Review site may be worthy of your attention. 

Now, researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario have developed a browser plug-in to help users keep their information private from prying eyes and from social-network providers as well. Urs Hengartner, an assistant professor of computer science, and his colleagues say the plug-in replaces sensitive information in a user's profile and news feed with meaningless text that can only be unscrambled by trusted friends or contacts. Dubbed FaceCloak, the tool assures its users that sensitive data stays private.

The University of Waterloo researchers attempt to hide which users are encrypting their data with FaceCloak by replacing the hidden data with arbitrary text taken from sources on the Internet. "Users who submit encrypted information stand out, both to Facebook and to other users who can see the profiles, and therefore might raise suspicion," Hengartner says. "By using fake information, we can avoid this problem."

Fakin' It ? ? ? ?

Although I hesitate to fan the media flames of the S.C. Representative joe wilson saga, this breaking report from Andy Borowitz is too important to ignore:


Wilson Shouts ‘You Lie' After Wife Fakes Orgasm

Breach of Congressional Decorum, Experts Say

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) courted controversy again today as he reportedly shouted "You lie" during a sexual encounter in which his wife pretended to have an orgasm.

While details of Rep. Wilson's latest outburst are sketchy at best, congressional experts say that it is totally against the decorum of the House of Representatives to speak out during a spouse's faked orgasm.

But the South Carolina congressman got a vote of support from a fellow Republican lawmaker, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), who told reporters, "It's so rare for a Republican politician to have sex with his own wife, we should applaud it when it happens."


In a related story, President Obama said that Rep. Wilson's outburst during his speech Wednesday night was "productive," adding, "Joe Wilson highlighted the need for mental health care."


heh, heh, heh . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

the obligatory Japanese election post

Okay, this post is late and for that I apologize, but I've been busy down at the Ministry of Truthoffice rewriting the translations of what all the conservative movers and shakers think of the Japanese election. The consesus is that they are against it.

Doom and gloom is widely predicted by the right and less than 24 hours after the centerist Democratic Party of Japan signed a coalition with the leftish Social Democratic Party and the quasi-populist centerist/conservative People's New Party, headlines in the conservative press were announcing that cracks were already appearing in the tripartate alliance.

On the left, there is a bit more diversity of opinion. Some want to know when the bread and circuses will be arriving and others, realizing the economic fix the country is in, are being a bit more pragmatic and scaling back their expectations.

The new cabinet will be sworn in next week, so let's get cracking.


First, you need to know some things:
Japanese political history 101

Japanese media 101

Some decent political blogging on Japanese politics can be found at Tobais Harris' Observing Japan

Why the Liberal Democratic Party lost
As the old saw goes, the Liberal Democratic Party is neither, but that not really relevant here. The party lost the election for a variety of reasons

1. The economy sucks
2. Prime Minister Taro Aso brought a George W. Bush sort of eloquence to public speaking and was widely considered a bit of an embarrassment
3. The economy really sucks
4. People were sick and tired of the LDP after more than 50 years of them running the country. People have been sick and tired of the LDP for many years, but its never made much difference until now. Why? See reasons 1 thru 3.
5. The economy suuuuuuucks
6. The last elected Prime Minister in Japan was the very popular Junichro Koizumi, who was re-elected in a landslide snap election in 2005. Japan has had three unelected prime ministers since then.
7.Could it have been this kind of populist approach?


Education, Science and Technology Minister Ryu Shionoya also figuratively rose from the dead in a proportional representation bloc after losing in his single-seat constituency.
Shionoya said one cause of the LDP's defeat was "the people's lack of understanding of politics."
"I think the details of our policies haven't been conveyed to the public. I wonder how much ordinary citizens understand these things, including law-related points," he said.
"People need to make decisions based not solely on the lure of immediate gains. They need to think about what kind of society to build in the future," he said.
-Sept. 2 Daily Yomiuri

Mind you, that kind of elitism is rampant in Japan, but especially among the upper echelons of the LDP.
Japan is, in some ways still a feudal country at heart. People still go into the family business and follow in dad's footsteps professionally to much larger extent than in the west and parents still run their children's lives to a ripe old age.
And the aristocracy still rules. The vast majority of Diet members are graduates of one of about four elite universities - they go into the executive ranks of corporate Japan or the civil service and come out at age 50 to enter politics. That or they take over the seat from dear old dad, or granddad or uncle. Dynastic politics - children of politicians running for their parents and often grandparents old seat - is very common in Japan at all levels. Most of Taro Aso's Cabinet have a Cabinet Minister in their family tree somewhere and a full third of the LDP's elected Diet members in the last parliament were people who had effectively inherited their seats from family members.

Aso's paternal grandfather was prime minister and so was his father-in-law. His father ran a massive mining and cement company and his sister married into the Imperial family.

But the LDP hasn't cornered the market bluebloods either - the new prime minister Yukio Hatoyama is also a blueblood whose family has been called Japan's answer to the Kennedy clan.

Will the DPJ be any different?

Yes, at first. But while some of the old guard of the DPJ are the more centerist holdovers from the old Japan Socialist Party, a lot more of them are former LDP members or rookies whose main complaint about the old regime, aside from a few foreign and security policy points, is that it has denied them their turn at the trough. Power corrupts and we will eventually see the DPJ members getting their snouts in and the same cycle of corruption repeating.

What cycle is that? Well, the reason the LDP stayed in power for more than 50 years is that they managed to fulfill a vital role in post war Japan. It goes like this: To survive, a political party needs to get votes. To get those votes its needs money to campaign and money to reward areas that support it.

The LDP spent tax money like a drunken sailor on public works projects across the country - something very much needed to rebuild and modernize the nation in the 50s,but by the 70s, the government was building six-lane highways to nowhere, multi-million dollar bridges to tiny islands and spending tons of money on "anti-erosion" work - pouring concrete along the coast.

This brings jobs and money to rural areas and get the party votes. The construction industry in Japan is very much dominated by the Yakuza, so the contract bidding for all these projects were and still are, usually fixed. Companies collude to share the work and keep the price high, it's the Japanese way - the companies make money, the mob makes money and what the taxpayers don't know won't hurt them.

The mobsters then take their cut and launder it by donating it to the ultrarightist organizations they very often control, which in turn donate a slice of the cash to right wing politicians in the LDP and "spends" the rest at mob front businesses . The LDP also gets fat contributions from the construction companies and virtually anyone doing business with the government, which is just about everyone. The longer they stayed in power, the longer the reach of their fundraising tentacles. Whether the DPJ can or will step into the LDP's shoes in this cycle in the long run is an open question - I think they will try, but won't be as successful at it - but in the short run, the machine has been jammed by the change in government.

The LDP also promulgated a policy of agricultural self-sufficiency - the idea that Japan should be growing its own food, no matter the cost. This meant lots and lots of farm subsidies, which meant lots and lots of rural votes. And when you control the drawing of electoral districts, you can make sure that the rural votes you control count more heavily than those cast by big-city liberals and communists. It is reckoned that the vote of a farmer in out of the way Fukushima or Akita carries nearly three times the weight of a vote cast in Tokyo or Osaka, where the constituencies have far more voters.

Globalization of the economy has begun to put paid to that pillar of strength too, as Japan has been forced, grudgingly, to open up its agricultural markets to cheap food from China and the rest of Asia, a trend that will continue. The DPJ is offering a new and possibly more lucrative subsidy system to farmers in an attempt to bleed off some of the LDP's strength and has been somewhat successful, although voters in the countryside are still more likely to back the LDP than those in the city.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

The biggest change promised by the DPJ and the one least likely to be noticed aboard is their promise to move Japan toward "politician-centered government" -- I know anywhere else that would sound a tad redundant and ridiculous, but here's the dirty little secret about Japanese democracy -- its really the bureaucracy that runs the country. For the last 50 years it has been the deputy ministers and and other senior bureaucrats that have made all of the real domestic policy decisions, to the extent the average Japanese probably wouldn't get the joke underlying"Yes, Minister" and would feel that the domineering civil servant played by Nigel Hawthorne is a bit of a pushover if anything. The DPJ has promised to replace a lot of the senior civil servants with elected political appointees. I'm not sure how well this will work out -- there is a lot to be said for having competent professionals running government departments rather than amateurs -- but it is good to see the bureaucracy challenged and the will of the people's elected officials take the precedence over bureaucratic precedent.

The DPJ have also promised to take a new look at Japan's alliance with the US with an eye toward being less subservient - not a task given the nature of the relationship over the last 50 years. This change will probably amount to the Japanese government waiting a decent interval before saying "how high, sir?" when America says "jump"ns on security matters, but even that would be a stunning display of spine. One of the junior coalition partners, the SDP, favors kicking the Yankees out of Okinawa. Luckily, they are already accustomed to disappointment.

Much has also been made about the likelihood of the DPJ bringing Japan closer to China. While this would be a good thing and may happen, I sincerely doubt that they will ever be best pals. Too many Chinese remember or have been taught what Japan did to China in the 30s and 40s and too many Japanese forget or have not been taught the same.

The real change that is liable to come about will be in security policy. The DPJ gives every appearence of taking Article 9 seriously and the SDP definitely does, so the likelihood of things like Japan's ridiculous "participation" in the Iraq occupation being repeated are considerably lower than under the closet militant nationalist in the LDP. I would expect the current mission by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force to refuel other nation's warships in the waters off Pakistan that are supposed to be on some kind of blockade of Afghanistan will not continue past next year.

What does the future hold?

Mostly, financial turmoil for the government as they try to live up to their promises of a generous baby bonus (about $250 a month per kid) amohanng other pledges of government largess for the common citizenry and some serious ructions as they try to wean the construction industry off the government teat u end the collusive practices in bidding on government contracts. I'm not convinced either of these coming to pass as I think that over time, the DPJ will come more and more to resemble the LDP of old and get stuck in at the trough. However, if they do manage to face down the bureaucracy and put the decision making power in the hands of elected officials, that will be it enough to earn them at least a second, if not a third term.

The LDP faces an interesting future. No one wants to lead the party right now and given the nature of Japanese consensus-based decision making, I won't be surprised to see a few members, or even entire factions of the party, cross the aisle. The LDP needs a strong leader to keep the various diverse faction united in opposition, but anyone coming forward to lead the y party now is unlikely to be around for the next election in four years, so the list of people willing to be leader of the opposition but never prime minister gets pretty short indeed.

The only caveat to this is the chance (about even odds) that the DPJ melts down on its own due to scandal or simple ineptitude as a party with no governing experience, and is forced to call a quick election. If that happens this year or next, the LDP could slither back into power. If the DPJ get three years at the helm without having to switch leaders more than once, they have a good chance at a second term if the economy revives and the North Koreans don't invade.

If nothing else, the entire exercise has taught the Japanese voter one thing - that they can change the party in power, that democracy does exist here, at least to some extent.

(crossposted, at considerable length, from the Woodshed)