Thursday, December 31, 2009

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

With condolences and respect to the families and friends of Private Garrett William Chidley, 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry; Corporal Zachery McCormack , The Loyal Edmonton Regiment; Sergeant George Miok, 41 Combat Engineer Regiment; Sergeant Kirk Taylor, 84 Independent Field Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery.

All killed due to enemy action.

Also killed in this action was Michelle Lang, a civilian journalist accompanying the Provincial Reconstruction Team and who died in the same light armoured vehicle. Our sympathy and the pain of her loss is no less than that which we sincerely extend for those with whom she shared a bond.


Fears no foe


Quo fas et gloria ducunt. Ubique

* The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry has no official motto. Those who are and have been members will understand.

Dear Opposition,

I have to ask: Do any of you actually still think you'll form a government as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister?

Because we've been dancing the line between a Harper majority or minority outcome (if an election were called) for enough time to suggest there is little likelihood of anything but one of two outcomes. Couple this with Harper's utter disregard for convention, and cynical manipulation of parliamentary procedure and public discourse and you're at profound disadvantage. Divided, you do not stand a chance at defeating Harper because none of you are strong enough win alone. And if Harper is allowed to continue, elections, if they happen at all, will be mere formalities and your role, naught.

You have no leader currently among you who can balance the negative of the Harper equation. There is no champion yet to be found among you who can draw the support of enough the country that would defeat Harper's polling numbers. There might be some in the wings, but your internal power machinations have so far prevented them from finding their voice, so these people are as good as irrelevant. You are divided, and therefore weak.

Imagine what might have happened if you had stuck with the coalition idea. Harper almost certainly would not be in power, and all of you would be governing the country. At Copenhagen, Canada could well have made its mark for good. You wouldn't be stuck in near permanent Opposition watching the sociopath in charge wreak havoc on our democracy and your chances at power. I bet that stings a little now.

So what are you to do? First, get over the illusion that you stand a serious chance at forming a government as individual parties. Then, understand that there are times when your survival as effective parties, let alone that of the Canada you claim to represent, trumps your ideological divisions. You must unite.

You must unite, and you must meet and raise Harper's ante. He keeps calling your bluff, and you keep folding. A coalition is a good start. So is attempting to meet anyway during the prorogue (wouldn't that be tantamount to a coalition as you would, de facto, be governing?). So is occupying the House and not leaving. So are a number of other steps. Anything, really, that stops Harper. Cold.

There is a don't-rock-the-boat cultural trait among Canadians that seems to cognitively prevent many of us from recognising what we must do when we've just been kicked in the groin by a bully. We're prone to loudly protesting, but doing very little to mitigate. We don't like hitting back and will condemn, parse and equivocate but not actually ball our fist and let fly. Harper knows this fact above all others, and that is why he is still Prime Minister and not any of you.

So, the question, dear Opposition, becomes one of whether you're going to pick up the bat, drive a spike through it, and swing back before Harper sucker punches you into oblivion?


Dear Stephen Harper

We're with POGGE.

Goodbye HaloScan

Apparently it's "Give us ten bucks or we'll disappear your comments section".

Bye bye, HaloScan!!

Honestly, I didn't need this at this time. Blog maintenance, (as evidenced by a hugely out-of-date blogroll), has been virtually dropped due to other much more important issues. Getting euchred by some half-baked comment widget trying to become the next Twitter just adds to the level of decay of the structure.

So, bear with me. Past comments may, in fact, vanish. My sincere apologies since quite often the comments are so much better than the post itself. I've looked at two apps which suggest comments can be imported from another system. I'll try, when I find a little more time.

Comments will certainly be off for a short time until the next freebie is installed. Maybe I'll go with Blogger's comment system, although I would hope not.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Stephen Taylor - Harper's house-elf

Stephen Taylor. This Bud's for you.

You want constitutional you miserable little failure? No problem. You can be the first one dragged out to the wall.

Frost warning in hell...

Some evidence of Harper's plan backfiring among the chorus.

(h/t fern hill and james bow @ dawgs)


Within a few days, perhaps hours, we'll have good sense of what the Opposition will do about Harper's negation of their role. The Governor General is another matter.

If they are as absolutely gutless as precendent suggests, we have decisions to make.

1. Do we meekly let ourselves become subservient to a federal 'government' which at the minimum does not represent us, and more often than not works actively against us, in the hope that we'll minimise its effects and hope the Opposition will somehow get its act together?
I hate to think it but this seems the most likely. Canadians, this generation, seems content to remain passive and tsk and parse calls for action and warnings of the implications of high misbehaviour. This is not unusual for societies facing change. There is a lag between when a paradigm-shifting event happens and when a critical mass of the population moves from cognitive denial and confusion to a place of acceptance and acts to mitigate their circumstances. Things have to get really bad, and a certain amount of hardship-learning must happen before most people are able to embody change. This can take years. In the meanwhile, we can create the infrastructure of resistance.

2. Do we attempt to gain enough support to march on Ottawa and actually force a change? If in fact enough people could be convinced to march on Ottawa, that is one thing. The trick is to be willing to go to the wall and beyond to affect change. Modern protest events fail in part because they have become little more than noble expressions of desire for change which are easily ignored. They keep targetting the official change-makers, while failing to seize power and make the changes themselves. Take a page from the Iranian or Ghandian book, and stay in the streets beyond the point where the state is forced to employ lethal force or fall, and the chances of winning increase exponentially. Follow-through is vital. Such an action may not be possible now, but eventually it may - see number 1.

3. Do we instead or in combination, focus on opting out of participation in the Harper regime? There is a latent power in passively undermining the legitimacy of the Harper caudillo regime (it is now more than fair to call it a regime, and Harper a Canadian version of the caudillo). Start loudly arguing for provincial seperation. Work on the local and provincial levels where we are not so beholden to the Conservative government and the failures of checks and balances within the system. Stop paying federal taxes. Whatever you do, let it delegitimise the Harper Regime. This also may not be possible at scale for a while - again, see number 1.

Go . . . .

Check out pale.

A picture really is worth a thousand words . . . .

For reasons of national security...

The prime minister and his yapping dogs refuse to disclose whether Canada is still a democracy.

In a telephone briefing for Parliament Hill media, Soudas confirmed that a new throne speech—launching a fresh parliamentary session—will be delivered March 3, and a budget the following day. That means the present session must be ended, or prorogued, by the Governor General sometime before then. And Soudas did reveal that the PM spoke to the GG today, presumably on that very matter.

But what did they agree to do? On that seemingly straighforward question, Soudas was strangely evasive. “You know,” he said, “discussions between the Prime Minister and Governor General are private, they’re confidential. I’m obvious not aware of the conversations between the Prime Minister and Governor General.”

If you really want to know, you have to have the right contacts.

How, then, are we to find out? I asked. “Feel free to call Rideau Hall,” Soudas helpfully suggested.
Let them eat cake, one might say.

You don't elect a federal government

You elect members of parliament. For those in the aisle filled with grade 11 social studies failures, that means the only real voice you actually have ... is in parliament.

Harper doesn't much like the idea of you having a voice. It bothers him. Democracy bothers him.

How is he planning to deal with that?

Easy. By abusing you and eliminating that pesky democracy.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper would neither confirm nor deny reports Wednesday that he will move to prorogue Parliament this week until March.
A little Coyne to chew on:
Question: In what other democracy is it permissible for the government of the day to hide from the legislature for months at a time? To ignore explicit parliamentary votes demanding the production of documents? To stonewall independent inquiries? Perhaps the rules allow it elsewhere, but is it the practice? Does convention not still forbid it? Is it not viewed in other countries as dictatorial behaviour, and therefore, you know … not done?

Yes, well Andrew, are you trying to tell us something we haven't been providing warnings about all along?

12:50 Fort Fumble on the Rideau time: Harper's praetorians have announced that he will officially seek to close the doors of Parliament until March.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

If you read nothing else today...

You will read Montreal Simon.

You will be disgusted.

I offer something in the way of an apology. Not for Simon. For forcing you to accept that the government you allowed to exist, under Steve Harper, is so blinkered by its own ideology.

It will kill us as a nation.

We used to be so strong. People would come to us to seek answers to the most difficult questions this world could ask.

Now, we have Jason Kenney. Harper's mouthpiece.

Call him a racist, a pig or anything you like. But a Canadian, willing to act as an honest broker? Never!

Canada's gone!

Once we had a seat in the back row of the World Stage. But we used to have one helluva marker.

Enjoy your hockey game. That's the only thing that separates you from being an American now.

1 in 10 408 947...

...are apparently the odds of being a victim of aerial terrorism in the past decade.

Looking at the problem that way, it makes me wonder if those persons who are suddenly apoplectic at mention of the word "terrorism" or its derivatives might be suffering from something found here, and treated accordingly. Until that happens (that'll be the day), we're stuck holding our piss (how long before airlines are sued by a passengers forced to piss themselves? Or better yet, a flight safety issue because some passenger wet himself and slugged the flight attendant? Hmm, just a little irony...) and freezing on over-airconditioned flights, not to mention financing wars founded on the idea of preventing something that happens to 1 in 10.5 million people, once a decade.

Take the train. Slow your life down and enjoy it.

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Out of Context" My A_s . . . .

So, according to the AP, Janet Napolitano is claiming her words on Sunday's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" regarding the airport security screening system were "taken out of context." Huh.

Here's the Secretary of Homeland (In)Security on the "Today Show" this morning:

And here on "Morning Joe":

Well, Gang. Here's the transcript:

(Georgie was off this week, so there was actually a decent reporter handling the show - Jake Tapper.)


TAPPER: I want to get your reaction to a comment from the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who said in a statement: "I am troubled by several aspects of this case, including how the suspect escaped the attention of the State Department and law enforcers when his father apparently reported concerns about his son's extremist behavior to the U.S. embassy in Lagos, how the suspect managed to retain a U.S. visa after such complaints, and why he was not recognized as someone who reportedly was named in the terrorist database."

Madam Secretary, how do you answer Senator Lieberman's questions?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I think, first of all, we are investigating, as always, going backwards to see what happened and when, who knew what and when. But here -- I think it's important for the public to know, there are different types of databases.

And there were simply, throughout the law enforcement community, never information that would put this individual on a no-fly list or a selectee list. So that's number one.

Number two, I think the important thing to recognize here is that once this incident occurred, everything happened that should have. The passengers reacted correctly, the crew reacted correctly, within an hour to 90 minutes, all 128 flights in the air had been notified. And those flights already had taken mitigation measures on the off-chance that there was somebody else also flying with some sort of destructive intent.

So the system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you a question about intelligence-sharing. When the suspect's father went to the U.S. embassy in Nigeria and said, I'm worried because my son is displaying extremist religious views, how was that information shared with other parts of the U.S. government, or did it just stay at that U.S. embassy?

NAPOLITANO: Well, again, we are going to go back and really do a minute-by-minute, day-by-day scrub of that sort of thing. But when he presented himself to fly, he was on a tide (ph) list. What a tide list simply says is, his name had come up somewhere somehow.

But the no-fly and selectee list require that there be specific, what we call, derogatory information. And that was not available throughout the law enforcement community. He went through
screening in Amsterdam as he prepared to board a flight to the United States.

The authorities in Amsterdam are working with us to make sure that screening was properly done. We have no suggestion that it wasn't, but we're actually going through -- going backwards, tracing his route.

But I think important for the traveling public recognize that A, everybody reacted as they should. We trained for this. We planned for this. We exercised for this sort of event should it occur.

And B, we have instituted additional screening in what we call mitigation measures that will be continuing for a while. And so we ask people perhaps to show up a little bit earlier at the airport during this heavy holiday season, and to recognize we're going to be doing different things at different airports.

So don't think somebody at TSA is not on the job if they're not doing exactly at one airport what you saw at another. There will be different things done in different places.

TAPPER: But, Secretary Napolitano, you keep saying everybody acted the way they were supposed to. Clearly the passengers and the crew of that Northwest Airlines flight did.

But I think there are questions about whether everybody in the U.S. government did.
And here's a question for you, how many of -- so many of us are subject to random security searches all the time, how come somebody who is not on a terrorist database isn't subject to more stringent security when they check in to a flight to the U.S.? Why does that automatically just happen?

NAPOLITANO: Well, if he had had specific information that would have put him on the selectee list or indeed on the no-fly list, he would not have actually gotten on a plane.

But those numbers pyramid down. And they need to, because again, there is lots of information that flies about this world on a lot of different people. And what we have to do in law enforcement is not only collect and share, but do it in the proper way.

Now once this incident occurred, everything went according to clockwork. Not only sharing throughout the air industry, but also sharing with state and local law enforcement, products were going out on Christmas Day, they went out yesterday, and also to the industry to make sure that the traveling public remains safe.

And I would leave you with that message, the traveling public is safe. We have instituted some additional screening and security measures in light of this incident. But again, everybody reacted as they should, the system -- once the incident occurred, the system worked.
As FoxNoise would say: "We report. You decide." Out of context or not?

(As a sidenote, does anyone else abhor the idea of joe LIE-berman having yet another excuse to have his Droopy Dawg mug in front of a camera? Gag, choke, gasping for fresh air . . . . )

Watch those "revisions," Janet. Might make it a bit difficult opening doors, using a tissue, applying makeup, etc.

Man, this "hope" and "change" stuff is workin' out just great, isn't it ? ? ? ?

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Say, how's that 2010 North American security perimeter coming along?

Yet another article PR piece telling us how the Canada-US border can become 'wafer thin' again, if only we just agree to get inside the North American security perimeter ...

Canada warms to the idea of a tougher 'perimeter'
reads the Star headline while providing no evidence to support it.

Apparently, however, "the more knowledgeable watchers of the cross-border condition suggest Canadians are ready".
Like the director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, concern-trolling about Canada's pig-headed insistence on remaining Canada :
"Perimeter is no longer a dirty word. It's beginning to come up again, at least in academic circles," says David Biette
... whose 'academic circle' includes fellow University of Calgary academic advisor Robert Pastor, Vice Chair of the Council on Foreign Relations 2005 Task Force on the Future of North America:
"The Task Force's central recommendation is establishment by 2010 of a North American economic and security community, the boundaries of which would be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter."
Back to Biette in The Star :
"Canada has done so well by NAFTA and we are seeing the emergence of a new generation of more confident, culturally secure Canadians. The old Toronto nationalists of the 1960s were essential to building the idea of a postmodern Canada, but now they're starting to die off."

Former US ambassador to Canada Gordon Giffin, whose "one security perimeter" proposal met with a very chilly reception in Canada in 1999, also gets trotted out :
"Those old Canadian worries now sound soooo 20th-century, says Giffin.
"Those old cultural arguments sound like dinosaur-speak today. The world just sort of passed them by," Giffin told the Star.
Whereas by comparison, the deep integration fans are just bristling with fun new ideas.
Here's David Biette in June 2006 :
"Being different from the United States for the sake of being different is irresponsible and an abdication of the national interest. Letting foreign policy be driven by public opinion (particularly when public opinion is an emotional reaction to whatever George W. Bush does) shows a lack of leadership. This was particularly evident in the debate over Canada’s potential participation in ballistic missile defence, something the government had requested before it let the public opinion tail wag the foreign policy dog. If the government changes policies at the whims of public opinion, how reliably will Canada be viewed?"
Let's have that one more time :
"Letting foreign policy be driven by public opinion shows a lack of leadership.
If the government changes policies at the whims of public opinion, how reliably will Canada be viewed?"
Ah, public opinion and all that democracy stuff. Sooooo '20th century'. Sooooo 'dinosaur-speak'.

I'm guessing a militarized NAFTA in the form of a North American security perimeter would be the end of all that whimmy Canadian public input nonsense.

Canada warms to the idea, indeed.

With thanks to West End Bob for the heads up.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Look who came for dinner!

This fine fellow showed up on my roof late this afternoon, peering in the windows no doubt in search of Christmas leftovers. I threw him up some grain which he seemed to appreciate. The picture I missed was of Max the Cat peering down on him from above, his little legs pumping furiously up and down as he tried to make up his mind - dinner or nemesis? I didn't much fancy Max's chances but fortunately our visitor sauntered off down the roof before Max suffered any kitty embarrassment.
What an amazing inspiring sight.
And for the connoisseurs among you - it was not as gamey as bald eagle but a bit stringier than sandhill crane.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

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

With condolences and respect to the family and friends of Lieutenant Andrew Richard Nuttall, 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Killed due to enemy action.


Brace yourself. Here comes a federal carbon tax...

The signs are certainly there. Harper is saying he won't rule it out and Flaherty is telling us there won't be any tax cuts. The combination of the two should cause more than a few ears to perk up, especially since this pair is responsible for delivering politically delicious and fiscally irresponsible tax cuts in the face of a recession which has led to a ballooning federal deficit, the likes of which hasn't been seen since days of Brian Mulroney.

Real economists disagree with the Harper/Flaherty fairy-tale approach to eliminating the deficit in "four or five years".

At the risk of digressing a bit, Harper and Flaherty have suggested that the deficit will be eliminated through strengthened economic growth. In short, if the economy grows at a regular level over the next 1/2 decade and federal spending is locked at 2009 or earlier levels, the growth-induced increased tax revenue will eliminate the visible fiscal deficit.

In order for the Harper/Flaherty whimsical method of tackling a deficit to actually work the economy would have to remain rock-solid stable, with a predictable rate of growth, for at least five years with absolutely no financial interruptions - at all. Previous Canadian governments have learned the hard way that such a process almost never works.

As a result, we were handed the GST - by a Conservative government. Subsequent Liberal governments, despite large promises to eliminate the much-despised consumer tax, learned quickly that it would put federal financing in jeopardy, particularly if the economy went sour.

Even an incompetent like Harper knows he can't sustain diversified Canadian economic growth for five straight years without some kind of event kicking his ideas in the crotch. He cannot raise the GST, for purely personal reasons. His particular and obvious personality disorder will not allow it. It would amount to the admission of an error and Harper is simply not capable of that.

However, as Harper flings us headlong down the path of an environmentally devastating bitumen-based economy, a new consumer tax, disguised as a carbon tax, (which will be spun as revenue neutral and not imposed on exports), is more than a little likely. As much as it would become little more than yet another domestic consumer "fuel tax", it would be falsely sold as an environmental initiative which will do nothing to encourage the development of clean, renewable and available sources of energy. It would however, serve to rebuild a crippled revenue stream which Harper and Flaherty previously throttled with their thoughtless dogma.

The point here, is the way Harper and Flaherty are speaking. We've seen this before. And, as virtually all psychologists will point out, when you're dealing with sociopaths like Harper and Flaherty, the best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour.

And with these two, there is a distinct pattern.

Mentarch lays it out perfectly. It is a "must read".

Need a Job? Here 'Ya Go . . . .

Times are tough all over, and folks are in need of gainful employment.

How 'bout a job with lots of pluses?:

Travel opportunities;

Paid benefits;

Stress reduction techniques;

Multiple skill categories.

What more could you ask for?

Well, maybe not having to support the military-industrial-congressional complex for one thing . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Stay Klassy Kate

Kate McVillan of Small-minded Roadkill has apparently clutched her pearls in a swoon at the incivilitiy of those of us on the left who took issue with her celebration of journalists dying on the job. She hasn't come after me, because I'm small enought to pass unnoticed in the larger scheme of things, but she has loosed her flying monkeys on some other blogs. In particular, she seems to be stamping her little jackboots in the direction of the esteemed Dr. Dawg. When she didn't get the retraction she demanded, she had this to say in an email reproduced by the good doctor:

I have to say I now wonder why anyone on the right gave you so much as a passing snort when your wife passed away. I know I certainly regret it now. I had assumed you were a human being.

Stay klassy, KKKate.

Canada's Lowest Common Denominatrix (tm PSA) apparently took offense to this post by Dr. Dawg in which he pointed to his own noting of McVillian's at the very least tacit, if not effusive approval of the deaths of dozens of journalists over the past year in the context of talking about the right wing fascist cult of death. While KKKate said little enough herself in her post, the comments that she let stand are illustrative of just how deep a sinkhole her blog is and give a general picture of the kind of people who hang out there, lapping up her every word.

I wish I'd bought the T-shirt:
"Journalist. Rope. Tree. Some assembly required."

Posted by: Jim at December 19, 2009 8:02 AM

Well darn. I thought I was linking to a story about something bad happening.What's that old saying..I'd rather have a mother as a whore then a journalist?

Posted by: Justthinkin at December 19, 2009 8:05 AM

I've said for years the only way to save the US is to hang all of the media first. Looks like my views aren't so out of the main stream.
"Freedom of the press requires you support it, not subvert it."
When your group works to subvert our freedoms (speech, guns, property rights, etc) don't be surprised if we wouldn't like to see you pay for it.

Posted by: paulcr39 at December 19,2009 8:11 AM

It isn't a pretty picture and it goes a long way to explaining why Canada has strayed so far into the weeds in the last few years.

Monday, December 21, 2009

the naughty list

Nice list: Richard Colvin, Progressive Bloggers, the usual suspects from the blogroll
Naughty list: Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada, Joe Lieberman, Kate McVillain and commenters at Small Dead Animals, Blogging Tories

Panty Hose and Christmas Stockings

AS A JOKE, MY BROTHER used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace before Christmas.  He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them.  What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Jay's kids' stockings overflowed, his poor panty hose hung sadly empty.  One year I decided to make his dream come true.  I put on sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don't sell those things at Wal-Mart.  I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown.

If you've never been in an X-rated store, don't go, you'll only confuse yourself.  I was there an hour saying things like, 'What does this do?' 'You're kidding me!' 'Who would buy that?' Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section.  I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane during rush hour.  Finding what I wanted was difficult.
'Love Dolls' come in many different models.  The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I'd only seen in a book on animal husbandry.  I settled for 'Lovable Louise.' She was at the bottom of the price scale.  To call Louise a 'doll' took a huge leap of imagination.

On Christmas Eve and with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life.  My sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning hours.  Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling  pantyhose with Louise's pliant legs and bottom.  I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray.  I went home, and giggled for a couple of hours.

The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy, but had left the dog confused.  She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more.  We all agreed that Louise should remain in her pantyhose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner.

My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door.  'What the hell is that?' she asked.  My brother quickly explained, 'It's a doll.' 'Who would play with something like that?' Granny snapped.  I kept my mouth shut.  'Where are her clothes?' Granny continued.  'Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran,' Jay said, to steer her into the dining room.  But Granny was relentless.  'Why doesn't she have any teeth?' Again, I could have answered, but why would I?  It was Christmas and no one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, 'Hang on Granny, hang on!' 

My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said, ' Hey, who's the naked gal by the fireplace?' I told him she was Jay's friend.  Later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting.  It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home.

The dinner went well.  We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise like my father in the bathroom in the morning.  Then she lurched from the mantel, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa.  The cat screamed..  I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants.  Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car.  It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember.

Later in my brother's garage, we conducted an examination to decide the cause of Louise's collapse.  Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh.  Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health.

I can't wait until next Christmas.

Quite an Indictment . . . .

A friend vacationing in Paris - France, that is - sent me this link he found while surfing the "InterTubes."

The Huffington Post contributor, Drew Westen, is a professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at a university just down the road from where I lived for many years. It appears he has hit the proverbial nail on the head describing my - and a lot of others, no doubt - feelings toward President Obama and his administration. It's long, probably 4,000 words, but the content is worth the read and analysis. One caveat, though: The author made the same
mistake Howard Dean and Joe Scarborough made in referencing the insurance industry's "52-year high" on Friday. Obviously, the reference should have been to a "52-week high." That said, here are a few excerpts:

Leadership, Obama Style, and the Looming Losses in 2010: Pretty Speeches, Compromised Values, and the Quest for the Lowest Common Denominator

Drew Westen | Psychologist and neuroscientist; Emory University Professor
Posted: December 20, 2009 09:34 PM


Somehow the president has managed to turn a base of new and progressive voters he himself energized like no one else could in 2008 into the likely stay-at-home voters of 2010, souring an entire generation of young people to the political process. It isn't hard for them to see that the winners seem to be the same no matter who the voters select (Wall Street, big oil, big Pharma, the insurance industry).


What's costing the president are three things: a laissez faire style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies than he does about the people they are shafting.


Consider the president's leadership style, which has now become clear: deliver a moving speech, move on, and when push comes to shove, leave it to others to decide what to do if there's a conflict, because if there's a conflict, he doesn't want to be anywhere near it.


Like most Americans I talk to, when I see the president on television, I now change the channel the same way I did with Bush. With Bush, I couldn't stand his speeches because I knew he meant what he said. I knew he was going to follow through with one ignorant, dangerous, or misguided policy after another. With Obama, I can't
stand them because I realize he doesn't mean what he says -- or if he does, he just doesn't have the fire in his belly to follow through. He can't seem to muster the passion to fight for any of what he believes in, whatever that is. He'd make a great queen -- his ceremonial addresses are magnificent -- but he prefers to fly Air Force One at 60,000 feet and "stay above the fray."


Gays? Virtually all Americans are for repealing don't ask/don't tell (except for conservatives who haven't yet come to terms with their own homosexuality -- but don't tell them that, or at least don't ask). This one's a no-brainer. Tell Congress you want a bill on your desk by January 1, and announce that you have serious questions about the constitutionality of the current policy and won't enforce it until your Justice Department has had time to study it. Don't keep firing gay Arabic interpreters. But that would require not just giving the pretty speech on how we're all equal in the eyes of God and we should all be equal in the eyes of the law (a phrase he might want to try sometime). It would require actually doing something that might anger a small percentage of the population on the right, and that's just too hard for this president to do. It's one thing to acknowledge and respect the positions of people who hold different points of view. It's another to capitulate to them.


Am I being too hard on the president? He's certainly done many good things. But it would be hard to name a single thing President Obama has done domestically that any other Democrat wouldn't have done if he or she were president following George W. Bush (e.g., signing the children's health insurance bill that Congress is about to gut to pay for worse care for kids under the health insurance exchange, if it ever happens), and there's a lot he hasn't done that every other Democrat who ran for president would have done.

Obama, like so many Democrats in Congress, has fallen prey to the conventional Democratic strategic wisdom: that the way to win the center is to tack to the center.

There's lots more here, and Professor Westen makes a good case.

My biggest disappointment is it appears the huge numbers of youthful voters Obama was successful in bringing into the political process will probably be turned off for years, if not decades.

That does not bode well for any "hope" or "change" . . . .


UPDATE: Naomi Klein weighs in . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

And you wonder why reporters drink

It's not enough that most of us work long, hard hours for crap wages in a dying industry that is constantly criticized by people who don't know what they are talking about most of the time, or that we are constantly being pushed to lower our professional standards, dumb down coverage or devote time to writing about idiotic crap instead of real news.

People in the news business with those problems are the lucky ones. In a lot of places, writing the truth about what is going on around you, can get you killed.

As depressing as this story is, the comments are downright frightening.

CC shows us how Canada's Lowest Common Dominatrix (a term coined by PSA) and her Stormfront farm team get their jollies off dead journalists, too. Apparently, having someone look around and tell people when the government or other powerful people are trying to screw them is a terrible, terrible thing to some idiots on the right and shooting the messenger seems sensible to them, mostly because they are batshit crazy. Talk about hating freedom...the mind boggles at some of the comments. I don't want to say that Kate McMillan and her gang of flying monkeys are the worst people in the world--they probably aren't out there setting fire to children on a daily basis or anything-- but they are certainly among the worst people on the internet.

What they fail to understand is that everything they know about the world around them is the result of a reporter doing their job. The only reason they know enough about what goes on in Ottawa or Washington or Afghanistan to criticize the decisions being made is because they saw a reporter on TV telling them about it or read a story in the newspaper. Those on the right that fear the government is going to take their guns or complain that it is wasting their money - where the hell do they think that information comes from? the government? And spare the "the blogs will replace newspapers/radio/TV news" bullshit. No "citizen journalist" is going to spend 50 hours a week, 50 weeks a year sitting through government committee meetings for the thrill of being the first on the internet to report that taxes are going up 1.8% or that the government is looking at establishing a rutabega marketing board.

I'll admit that the press doesn't always do its job as well as it should, but the journalists on that list are not dead because they were lazy or biased or crappy writers. Journalism is one of the few jobs in which people die not because they made a mistake, but because they did their jobs very well.

As people in a democracy get the government they deserve, so too do consumers get the media they deserve in a capitalist free-market. You want to know why the cable networks and news magazines are full of bullshit stories about Michael Jackson's plastic surgery or Paris Hilton's latest panty-flash or reports about water-skiing squirrels? Because that crap sells. Because reading about what the government is doing about the deficit is borrrrrrrring! Because consumers want mind-candy, not difficult to process information that might make them uncomfortable.
"Don't show me starving children in Africa or the government violating the constitution, then I'll feel bad because I'm not doing anything about it, it's depressing. I want good news!"
Nobody really cares that Tiger Woods slept with a bunch of women and fucked up his marriage, we just like to see that rich, successful people have the same problems as the rest of us. Nobody wants their opinion challenged, they want to know they were right all along -- that's why FOX News is making a fortune telling idiots that Obama really is a marxist muslim from Kenya and that illegal aliens are plotting to impregnate their daughters just so they can be forced to get an abortion. They knew it all along!

If you don't like the stories you see in the press because you think they are stupid and pointless, write the editor and tell them to quit publishing trivia. Believe me, the reporter who is sent out to cover the waterskiing squirrel would much rather be doing something that matters. If you don't like the stories you see in the press because you think the reporter hasn't done his job and has messed up the information, write the editor and complain. Make the media do a better job, because an informed electorate is essential in a democracy and the only way for it to be informed is by having a free press that does its job.

Reporters who do their job well are not the problem. Consumers who reward media organizations for not doing their jobs, who demand more eye candy and less real information about important things, are the problem.

And if you are one of the knuckle-dragging blar-har-har nitwits who like to cheer for reporters dying on the job, well, fuck you very much. Thanks for doing all you do to make the world a worse place.

Hollow "Victory," Mr. President . . . .

Check out Matt Taibbi and Robert Kuttner on Bill Moyers Journal Friday night.

They explain the clusterf_ck in Washington for what it is: a sell-out to Corporate America. What a surprise, eh?

It's about 30 minutes, but well worth it. The dems and the "o-team" need to pay attention. S'pecially the comments regarding rahm.

I knew that guy was gonna be trouble, and guess what ? ? ? ?

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Christmas at The Woodshed

Looking for a way to get into the spirit of the season? Move on over to The Woodshed where, starting 4:00 pm PST (Midnight GMT) on the 23rd of December, our very own Rev. Paperboy kicks off a 3 holiday special on Radio Woodshed.

Remember, in the past, The Rev has been willing to take himself hostage to gain your cooperation.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Oh no! The ukele playing left-wing fringe!

Thanks, Antonia.

Remember when he refused to go to Copenhagen?

Christmas 2011

THE LA TIMES has a cheerful report: according to Steven Zeitchik, come Christmas 2011, Marvin the Martian will try to destroy things here on Earth.

The Looney Tunes character is getting his own movie -- and now that movie has a director and writers, and could soon even have a star to lend Marvin his voice. And the producers are talking to a number of stars. One name that's come up is Mike Myers, no stranger to voice roles given his work on the Shrek franchise.

The plot for "Marvin" will remain what it was when it was first announced in the summer of 2008: Marvin comes to Earth to try to destroy Christmas, but his plans are foiled when he gets trapped inside a gift box.

Friday, December 18, 2009

then they came for the hyperbolic and paranoid...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Highway to Health - Last Tea Party Protest of the Year
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For those who can't see the clip, it's from the Daily Show on Dec. 16. It's a bit of video from the last Teabagger rally of the year. It features some outstanding examples of total lunacy. We have uber-douchebag and perrenial also-ran candidate for governor of New Jersey Steve Lonegan of "Americans for Prosperity" proclaiming that "we cannot allow the pen to become mightier than the sword," and Rick Scott of Conservatives for Patient Rights demanding ponies that shit gold and to top it all off right-wing talk radio shrieker Laura Ingraham oh-so-very-respectful reinterpretation of Rev. Martin Niemoller's famous amphorism about the Holocaust updated to serve the Republican party and their wealthy masters.
Clearly, for someone who speaks on the radio for a living, Laura has some trouble getting her dim-bulb ideas marshaled into coherent speech. I guess she's learned to speak from watch old Dubya speeches. May she's the one that needs the teleprompter. This is what she is being quoted as saying in full, and since the bit about "property owners being confiscated" isn't in here I can only assume these were prepared remarks distributed ahead of time to various new organizations,

“First they came for the rich. And I did not speak out because I was not rich.
Then they came for the property owners, and I did not speak out because I did not own property.
Then they came for the right to bear arms, and I did not speak out because I was not armed.
Then they came for me and denied me my medical care, and there was no one left to speak for me,”

Not that her gibberish is any less offensive for being phrased with proper grammar and diction. Now, the question is this: Does Laura Ingraham really believe that boosting the income tax a few percent for the wealthiest people in the United States is the same as genocide or is she engaged in a cynical piece of blatant manipulation and false equivalency in order to get people to vote and engage in political activism that is against their own best interests? Or is she just trying to stir controversy to get herself mentioned on the news? The bottom line is that she is either a completely ignorant moron, an evil fascist demagogue or an amoral attention whore - not that any of these things are mutually exclusive.
Once again the right hits the bottom of the barrel and keeps on digging.

Bonus blazing stupidity: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Stupid) bounded on to the stage at the same rally and cheerfully declared the demonstration "The Charge of the Light Brigade" - obviously she's not a student of history. The famous charge was a disaster - a futile attack on the wrong target that got huge numbers of men killed for no reason at all, due to the stupidity and rashness of their commanders. On second thought, maybe Bachmann is smarter than I thought.

crossposted from the Woodshed

Colossal Fossil of the Year "very comfortable" with waiting on the US

"What will be most critical for Canada in terms of filling out the details of our regulatory framework will be the regulatory framework being developed in the United States.

The nature of the Canadian economy and the nature of our integrated energy markets is such that Canada and the United States need to be closely harmonized on this. If the Americans don’t act, it will severely limit our ability to act. But if Americans do act, it is absolutely essential that we act in concert with them."

This was Harper's first public statement at the conference. Previously Environment Minister Jim Prentice made a 3 minute speech in the middle of the night which did not mention targets.

Remember Harper's promise to put Canada back on the world stage?
After winning eight Fossil of the Day awards over two weeks at Copenhagen, Canada capped it off by getting the grand Colossal Fossil of the Year Award for being the worst-performing country at the talks and the "the country which has done the most day after day to prevent a climate treaty."
Canada repeatedly blocked progress on setting tough targets and committing to international financing for developing countries. While industrialized countries as a group must establish targets 25-40% below 1990 levels according to climate scientists, Canada's greenhouse gas emission reduction targets are the equivalent to 3% below 1990 levels by the year 2020 and even that is apparently negotiable.
So now I guess we'll just have to wait and see what the US wants Harper to do on the world stage next.

Stevie scores . . .

Pariah State

Well done Harper et al.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was left off the guest list for an emergency meeting of world leaders that included U.S. President Barack Obama in the final hours of the Copenhagen climate talks. Obama arrived in the Danish capital Friday morning in the hopes his influence could sway the 193 countries here to get a deal done. Shortly after arriving, the American president headed into a special meeting with 19 other leaders. Among the attendees were Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei, Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
You know, it's funny, the Conservative government makes so much hay about Canada and Afghanistan, which is at best a temporary distraction for the states involved. But with the defining issue of the century, for the entire world, we are no longer even welcome at the table. Canada, with this government, is now a petulant child sent to its room so the adults can be serious.

I've had one or two opportunities at different times to meet with and observe how high level political types interact at altitude. They know each other. Decisions are made over drink and food, and quiet phone calls. Theirs is a palpable informal culture which I suspect is produced by the mere fact that states' ministers belong to an exclusive and limited club, that while not always in agreement, at least subscribe to a certain macro-outlook. This is especially true among wealthy Core states with entrenched economic and other relationships. To see one of these states so markedly rejected by the others, especially one formally a charter member of the in-crowd, is a major issue. It was no accident Canada was left off the list. Given our performance at Copenhagen thanks to our Conservatives, we are not welcome at that table anymore. In its clumsy, haphazard, inconsistant way, the world is moving on climate change, and Canada has been left standing outside in a dark, cold, tailings pond.

This will have repercussions elsewhere.

Advice from my doctor . . .

MY DOCTOR SENT THIS to me a couple of days ago. I wonder if he's trying to reduce his patient roster.
  1. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!
  2. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy.. Eat the volcano. Repeat. 

  3. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.  

  4. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello? 

  5. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

  6. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again. 

  7. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

  8. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but, avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards. 

  9. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:  

    "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate and wine in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO!! — what a ride!"  

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Payback's . . . .

a bitch, ain't it, joe ? ? ? ?

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Rats and bugs and minefields

INHABITAT IS A CHEERFUL SITE, devoted to green solutions to the problems we have around us.  Sarah Parsons has an article, titled "HeroRATS Trained to Sniff Out Landmines", which is worthy of your attention. 

Most people view rats as nothing more than pests, but one organization regards the critters as heroes. APOPO, an African-based non-profit, trains African Giant Pouched Rats to sniff out unexploded landmines. Organizers hope the rodents, or HeroRATS, will eventually be deployed across the globe as a cost-effective method to safely and efficiently detect and detonate hidden landmines.

You can visit HeroRATS to find out more, and even adopt one! Detecting explosives isn't all they can do, either:

HeroRATS also reliably detect pulmonary Tuberculosis (TB) in human sputum samples. Tuberculosis was the first pathogen addressed, as TB kills more youth and adults than any other single infectious disease in the world today. Currently, in 7 minutes one rat can evaluate 40 samples which is the equivalent of 2 days of microscopy work for a lab technician.

INHABITAT also has an article by Mike Chino, titled "Scientists Create Bacteria that Glows to Reveal Land Mines" that describes a successful effort by scientists at the University of Edinburgh to modify bacteria to do just that.

Land mines are currently strewn throughout 87 of the world’s countries, and each year they cause 15,000-20,000 new casualties, the vast majority of which are inflicted upon civilians. Sifting through minefields to remove these hidden threats is currently a dangerous, tedious, and expensive process, however scientists at the University of Edinburgh recently announced that they have engineered a strain of bacteria that glows green in the presence of explosives, making mine detection a snap.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My favorite Christmas song and story

In all the list making the other day about best and worst Christmas songs, I completely forgot about my real favorite.

Excuse me, I seem to have something in my eye.

Cheap Wine

I DON'T KNOW IF THIS IS TRUE, but it's funny, so here it is:

Wal-Mart announced that sometime in 2010 it will begin offering customers a new discount item: Wal-Mart’s own brand of wine.

The world's largest retail chain is teaming up with Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery of California to produce the spirits at an affordable price, in the $2 -  $5 range (*).

Wine connoisseurs may not be inclined to put a bottle of  Wal-Mart brand into their wine cellars, "there is a market for  inexpensive wine," says Kathy Micken, professor of marketing at the University of Arkansas, "but the right name is important."  

Surveys will determine the most attractive name for the Wal-Mart wine brand —

  1. Chateau Traileur Parc
  2. White Trashfindel
  3. Big Red Gulp
  4. World Championship Riesling
  5. NASCARbernet
  6. Chef Boyardeaux
  7. Peanut Noir
  8. I Can't Believe it's not Vinegar
  9. Grape Expectations
  10. Nasti Spumante

    (*) The  beauty of Wal-Mart wine will be that it can be served with either white meat  (Possum) or red meat (Squirrel).

Bullsh_t . . . .

For lack of a better term, the post title says it all.

(Speaking of gas, Dave.)

The Toronto Star reports from Copenhagen:

U.S. cuts deal with dairy farmers to lower methane gas emission

December 16, 2009 COPENHAGEN – The United States is counting on cows to help save the planet.

U.S. Secretary Tom Vilsack announced an agreement with the American dairy industry Tuesday to reduce the industry's greenhouse gas emissions 25 per cent by 2020, mostly by convincing farmers to capture the methane from cow manure that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere. The plan requires more farmers to buy an anaerobic digester, which essentially converts cow manure into electricity.

"This historic agreement, the first of its kind, will help us achieve the ambitious goal of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions while benefiting farmers," Vilsack said at the U.N. climate talks. "(The) use of manure technology is a win for everyone."

Leave it to a government official to spread the sh_t around and make it smell like roses.

harperco ought to jump on this one quickly.

His reformaTories have cornered the market on that commodity . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

Advice to aquarists...

Farting turtles can ruin a night's sleep.
Staff at the Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre in Norfolk give turtles a seasonal treat of brussel sprouts at Christmas which provide a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

However, the turtles, like humans, are prone to heavy bouts of flatulence after eating the vegetables.

The interesting part is that this has happened before... just down the road.