Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Is this what goes for leadership in the Liberal party these days?

As I and many others have written, Joe Volpe's candidacy for the Liberal leadership appears to have received a financial shot from Apotex executives and their children. As an update, it appears that the Liberal Party is not planning to investigate these allegations, as it is apparently perfectly normal for children to save their nickels and hundreds and hand them over by the chocolate-stained fistfulls to their local Liberal riding committees. How do I get one of these gigs?

Now I'm not sure if, strictly speaking, it's actually illegal for a 16 year-old (or whatever, we don't know yet how old the donors are) to give their allowance to Joe Volpe, but it sure smells bad. Seeing as it is illegal to work around Elections Canada donation laws, and this seems to be the case at hand here, there is at the very least the appearance of wrongdoing, and the Liberals should be far more concerned with this appearance than they appear to be.

If I was a Liberal, I'd be hopping mad right now - and I'm sure many are. The Conservatives came to power this year solely because the public felt that the Liberal Party looked a little too cozy in power; as if they felt entitled to govern. Actions like Volpe's lend nicely to this scenario and validate the public's decision lasy January. If the Liberals ever want to govern this country again, they are going to have to take away, or at least share, the mantle of accountability that the Conservatives have donned. Why they have not taken Volpe to the woodshed over this is beyond me - it is a lose/lose scenario for them. Either Elections Canada finds nothing technically wrong with the donations, Volpe continues on to lose the leadership race and the public is left with a stink that someone got away with something, or Elections Canada finds something wrong with the donations and the Liberals are in the position of disciplining him only after being forced to.

I know that he's innocent until proven guilty, but I'm sorry "Elections Canada regulates contributions to leadership candidates. The Liberal Party does not," is lame. The Liberal Party might not regulate contributions, but they are responsible for the behaviour of their people, at least to the public.

It looks like the Liberals are losing the forest for trees here.

Maritime muscle behind Scott Brison

It appears that some of Nova Scotia's business notables are giving Scott Brison's campaign a bit of a boost by coughing up $50,000 loans. Included in the list are John Risley (Clearwater), Donald Sobey (his dad), John Bragg (blueberries), and David Hennigar (Jodrey family money).

I know that you're not supposed to judge a person by the company they keep, but this list has me a little twitchy.

Canadian healthcare: more bang for half the bucks...

Okay, so a cross-national study of health care in the United States and Canada has discovered that (drum roll, please...):

"The data is clear and really irrefutable: Canadians are healthier than Americans and they have better access to medical care," Dr. Steffy Woolhandler of the Harvard Medical School said Tuesday.
Not only that, but the study also determined that the American system costs nearly twice as much per year per person than the Canadian, while at the same time providing poorer service and less of it to much of the population.

Isn't it time to expose once and for all the motivations of those for whom "two tier" health care is a priority. Let's see, could it be doctors with a yen for yachting? Big pharma's drug dependency? Drug companies collecting politicians with their kids' allowance? Or maybe it's just wealthy tax payers that are sick (sic) of paying for the healthcare of others?

So what is it, NCC - greedy doctors, rich druggies, corrupt politicians, or ingrateful, tight taxpayers?

h/t to Greg at Sinister Thoughts.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Joe Volpe: the Ben Johnson of the Liberal leadership race?

It looks like Joe Volpe's leadership campaign might be on steroids and Pat Martin of the NDP might be administering the pee test. If the allegations prove out, several high-ranking officials of Apotex, the drug manufacturer and their children, each donated the maximum amount allowable by Elections Canada law.

Are we going to see Mr. Volpe make the decision that it's better to spend more time on constituents' issues soon, I wonder?

...And are You a Group of Paranoid Control Freaks?

The Halifax Regional School Board, in what is now the latest in a series of dunderheaded exploits, has decided to distribute a survey to its teachers, asking whether they are heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian.
The Lindsay Willow decision (and all of the patently bigoted decisions on the part of many 'educators' that led to the human-rights hearing in the first place) has apparently prompted a paranoid conservative backlash. Although not generally in favour of labour unions, I have to agree with Teacher's Union president Mary-Lou Donnelly:

Donnelly also worries about the confidentiality of the survey answers. She said she suggested the school board collect the information anonymously, but so far the board has refused.

Collecting survey information on such a personal matter, and not insisting on anonymity, just shows how much of a witch hunt this really is. The Board wants to be able to open the file next time a teacher is accused of acting inappropriately to check whether the person is gay, lesbian or bisexual before deciding it's ok to discriminate against them.

As a Sociologist, I am appalled that any survey of this type is being conducted at all by an employer. I'd also be surprised if, upon legal challenge (note emphasis - Mary-Lou, put this on your to-do list) , this type of action isn't completely condemned by any court or human rights body in the land.

The fact that nobody has raised an alarm about this before now is troubling. The fact that Mary-Lou says she is "unsure about how to advise union members to respond" is even more troubling, and displays nothing less than a politically fatal moral weakness. That's a no-brainer, M.L. - your members should tear such a document into tiny pieces, and unequivocally refuse. What kind of message is the Board sending the children under their care?

Let them have their witch hunt - I'll be very surprised if any of the 'witches' they're searching for opt to raise their hands and identify themselves in that type of working environment.

Update: Oh, now I get it. Donnelly hasn't said anything before this because it would hurt her chances of re-election as president of the NSTU. Now I'm really sickened.

This report naturally brought to you by a British newspaper...

77 US television stations are being investigated by the FCC for broadcasting items produced by the Bush government and a handful of corporations, while promoting them as unbiased "news". These reports, referred to as video news releases (VNR), have been used to sell drugs by Pfizer, chocolate bars by Mars, and the murder of Iraqi citizens spread of democracy in Iraq by the Bush administration.

None of this is likely a surprise to anyone aware of the state of the modern MSM, but I do have to wonder why the Bush Administration felt the need to bother when they already have Fox News?

[Update: Joe Edmonton suggested in a comment that the Clinton Administration also used VNRs to promote their own agenda. I followed up with a quick search of the Accuracy in Media site and came up with this. It appears that this kind of "reporting" goes back at least 15 years.]

Is this someone conservatives can listen to?

Actually, no, because he makes too much goddamned sense.
Even though companies here in the United States are not subject to Kyoto’s emission caps, U.S. companies that operate in nations complying with the Kyoto Protocol do have to meet those countries’ caps. Until the United States passes its own limits on global warming emissions, innovative companies based here will lose out on opportunities to sell reduced emission credits to companies complying with the Kyoto Protocol overseas. Additionally, without enacting our own emission limits, U.S. companies will lose ground to their competitors in Europe, Canada, Japan, and other countries participating in the Protocol who are developing clean technologies

Where does this quote come from? From the The Nature Conservancy (emphasis mine), whose chairman of the board, Henry Paulson is also CEO of Goldman Sachs Group and is being considered as the new Whitehouse Treasury Secretary.

So not complying with Kyoto is going to cost money and lead to further degradation, and complying with Kyoto is going to cost money and start the process of reversing environmental damage. Which is the smarter course?

For more, go to Think Progress.

I don't like the look of that guy in the corner store...

Stephen Harper promised us, okay, promised an American economic group that he would establish an American-style conservative government in our fair land. His goals thusly stated, where to start? In a hat-tip to W down south he has shown a predilection for hiding behind the military and waving the flag, but that image hasn't played quite as well here. In fact, in spite of his whole-hearted support of the Canadian contribution to the General Waste of Time, support for the mission in Afghanistan continues to fall across the country. It could be that we're just not quite as accustomed to "transfer tubes" as our neighbours to the south.

So if flag-waving doesn't jump us to attention, what's a guy to do? Why, a guy is to steal pages two through twelve hundred from the Karl Rove "mini-Machiavelli" handbook, the section on fear. What would be more American than a liberal dose of fear to mobilize the population and spice up the water-cooler huddle?

Enter Jack Hooper, deputy director of CSIS, who has announced that we have an as yet un-colour-coded threat of home-grown terrorism! Right here, in our own backyard! And like his Homeland Defense compatriots to the south, his announcement contains no actual information, it's purpose is simply to ratchet up our fear level a tiny little bit. We get a few priceless gems that could have been read from a Whitehouse statement four years ago like this:

"They are virtually indistinguishable from other youth. They blend in very well to our society, they speak our language and they appear to be — to all intents and purposes — well-assimilated," he said.

What exactly does "virtual" mean in this sense? Like us, but ... with a tatoo? Like us, but ... they drive American-built cars? Ah, here's the answer - like us, but immigrants:

"I can tell you that all of the circumstances that led to the London transit bombings, to take one example, are resident here now in Canada," he said.

It's sort of cute the way he dances around the word "Arabic", isn't it?

Naturally, toeing the party line, he then goes on to reiterate how important it is to keep Canadian troops in Afghanistan, because, well, do we really need to explain to you how dangerous it would be to not do so?

So, Mr. Hooper, if you have evidence of such threats, why the hell don't you demonstrate it and arrest someone? I mean, they just arrested four kids here for conspiracy based on some crap they wrote in their schools and on their computers; surely you can come up with at least that little bit of evidence to charge someone. Unless of course the goal is just to make us that little bit more afraid so that we'll accept the next little lie...

Monday, May 29, 2006

For this they call at suppertime?

"If doing A became more of a pain in the ass because of B, would you be more or less likely to do it?"

Thus, the rocket scientists at Leger Marketing have determined that yes, indeed, Canadians will be less likely to visit the US if passports or some other more arcane high tech piece of identification become necessary.

Did someone in government pay for this survey, or was it done on spec?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Andrew Coyne on being out of the loop

What's a conservative reporter for the national media to do now that his erstwhile hero, Stephen "don't let the door hit your press pAss" Harper has cut him and the rest of his ilk out of the loop? How does he reconcile his job as commentator, reporter, editorialist, and his political inclination to root for the Right guy in town? Well, if you happen to be Andrew Coyne, you mutely obey master and publicly neuter yourself to demonstrate the impotence of the press.

According to him, the only thing at stake in the dispute between the Ottawa media and the Prime Minister are a few protocol niceties that the press and public can live with or without. Besides, the press apparently doesn't do "tough" questions anymore, so no real reporting goes on these days.

Could it be any more obvious that Coyne is vying for one of those cherished "insider" passes that Harper will hand out when he needs something dictated for a Post release?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Dartmouth douche-bag intends to carry on...

No doubt this is good news for Halifax-area sad-asses that can't have normal relations with women; it appears that Javis Roberts intends to keep his porn establishment operating on Wyse Road as long as he can. He is currently "seeking clarification" of the meaning of the word "adult" in the Utility Review Board's decision to strip the operation of its liquor license. Readers will be forgiven any memories of Bill Clinton at this juncture.

In the meantime, dancers are clothed and he his busily constructing a non-licensed section that will run as a separate establishment and will offer lap dances and other "services".

Again, this is good news for guys that can't get it any other way, but decidedly not good news for the neighbours, who will continue to face the problems associated with guys "gettin' it" in their backyards in the middle of the night.

Just for the record, and to prevent it from slipping down the memory hole, here is the real reason that Mr. Roberts is so desparately trying to keep this establishment going. It might also have something to do with why his wife actually owns the joint and he appears in public as "spokesman".

Strip-club owner owes $1.6m bank

Javis Roberts owes more than $1.6 million to the Bank of Nova Scotia, court documents say, and in March the bank sought a court-ordered receiver to examine the metro entrepreneur’s financial records.

The legal matter is one of many on file at Nova Scotia Supreme Court and small claims court in Halifax in which Mr. Roberts, one of his companies or his wife is listed as a defendant, court records show.

In an affidavit sworn on March 22, a Bank of Nova Scotia employee says Mr. Roberts, whose businesses include the controversial Sensations strip club in Dartmouth, has not been co-operating with the bank’s efforts to hire a receiver to review the books of one of Mr. Roberts’ companies, DRL Vacations Ltd.

"In total, the amount owing to the bank from DRL Vacations as of March 7, 2006, was $1,685,475.82 with interest accruing daily thereafter," says the affidavit from account manager Brian Pike. The amount stems from money owed on DRL’s line of credit and a corporate credit card bill, a court document alleges.

Mr. Pike, in his affidavit, says "it is necessary to have the court appoint a receiver in order to take possession of the books and records of the company and ascertain the amount and validity of DRL Vacations’ receivables," because Mr. Roberts "will not co-operate" with the bank’s attempt to use Ernst & Young to review DRL’s records.

The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board pulled the permit for another of Mr. Roberts’ businesses, DRL Coachlines, last summer because of safety violations.

The affidavit sworn by Mr. Pike said Mr. Roberts tried to settle some of his debt with the bank but the cheques were returned due to insufficient funds. A court document said discussions between Mr. Pike and Mr. Roberts prompted the bank to finally seek a court-ordered receiver.

"Based on . . . my history of dealing with Mr. Roberts, I believe that he will not co-operate with (Ernst & Young) as a receiver," the bank staffer says in the affidavit.

David Farrar, a Halifax lawyer representing the bank, said the court, in a written decision delivered in late March, appointed a receiver to probe the books of DRL Vacations Ltd.

"The receiver (now) goes about investigating the assets of DRL to determine what assets DRL has for realization and will at some point in time report back to the court," Mr. Farrar said in an interview.

Mr. Roberts couldn’t be reached Friday.

On Thursday, he told The Chronicle Herald he plans to expand services at his Wyse Road strip club in the wake of a Utility and Review Board decision that renewed the bar’s alcohol permit but discontinued adult entertainment there.

Mr. Roberts, who owns the property housing Sensations, said the nightclub will now offer a licensed section with dancers wearing G-strings and pasties and a separate section where alcohol won’t be served but table dancing, contact between performer and customer and lap dancing will take place.

Municipal officials intend to monitor the club closely. A staffer said Thursday that Sensations could be prosecuted if the city’s laws are being flouted.

Mr. Farrar, a lawyer with Stewart McKelvey Stirling Scales, acknowledged that Mr. Roberts and his DRL group of companies are involved in more than a few legal battles.

"There’s probably in excess of 20 actions outstanding at the present time," he said.

According to Frank magazine, Mr. Roberts is involved in a small claims matter over a commercial lease dispute. A former landlord alleges the businessman defaulted on his lease, the magazine says, citing a court document.

A quick web search for "DRL Coachlines" landed me this snippet from Atlantic Business Magazine (emphasis mine):
DRL buses ordered off the road

Jarvis Roberts, CEO of the DRL Group of Companies, is shocked and appalled by the Nova Scotia Utility & Review Board’s (NSUARB) recent decision to revoke DRL Coachlines Ltd. bus licences, a pronouncement that he believes “in every way, shape and form, is wrong”.

The NSUARB’s 98-page decision, released July 18th, criticized Roberts and DRL manager John G. Harding for their dealings with motor carrier division staff and for repeatedly giving misleading or evasive answers during hearings held in November and March. The board’s heaviest admonishment was given over the company’s alleged disregard for safety.

In its report, the Board concluded that DRL management was “contemptuously dismissing regulatory convictions (including those for safety violations) as a cost of doing business [and] delaying maintenance issues until problems arise (rather than taking a proactive approach to address such matters)…”

The board was further disconcerted over the dozens of party and passenger complaints filed with them against DRL, the nature of the alleged infractions and what it described as the company’s cavalier, dismissive responses to these issues.

Roberts is skeptical of the decision, which was influenced in part by evidence provided in the testimonies of Dennis Campbell of Absolute Charters and Sylvain Langis of the Acadian Bus Group. Said Roberts: “You’re talking about competitors here. You’re talking about a group that would love to have our multi-million dollars’
worth of business…” Four days before DRL Coachlines Ltd. was to cease operating its buses, the NSUARB approved an application by DRL-subsidiary Acadian Intercity Coaches LP to continue transportation service along DRL’s Halifax-Yarmouth run.

However, the NSUARB said it was not convinced of the claim made by DRL that its violations were no greater than those of any other carrier, and felt a clear message had to be sent to the company that such actions would not be tolerated. Roberts has stated he will consult his lawyer regarding the decision and may file a court appeal.
"Contemptuously dismissing regulatory convictions (including those for safety violations) as a cost of doing business [and] delaying maintenance issues until problems arise." If I reword this slightly and replace "delaying maintenance issues" with "ignoring residential concerns" that exactly sums up the issue here.

I think that we're dealing with a compulsive disorder here - an inability to plan ahead combined with utter disrespect for others. A winning one-two punch in an entrepreneur... not.

Rodney Buchanan in "The case of the befuddled budget"

After receiving some heat from small-c conservatives around the province and some comparisons in the press to his indenture-the-province-forever forefather John Buchanan, Rodney MacDonald is attempting to change the colour of his campaign to make it a little less, well, green.

In order to drop the apparent overall cost of the Conservative party platform, MacDonald is trying to argue that his unpassed budget is both "a done deal" and a campaign promise at the same time. Last night, he announced the most inexpensive campaign platform of the three parties, but the platform he announced did not include the numbers for such big-ticket items as the $500-million for highway expansion and over $300-million for the HST rebate on home heating oil. The total stated cost of the party promises, over four years, comes to $668-million, not including these items.

Both Darrell Dexter and Francis MacDonald have noted that an honest tallying of the promises goes well over the $1-billion dollar mark.

MacDonald's argument appears to be that those big scary expensive promises are "pre-election" news, done deals as it were, and while they are committed to them, they are not part of the party platform. Well, sort of - he still feels free to mention them at every campaign stump speech to anyone that wants to hear. And there still is the matter that they have not yet been budgeted or paid for. They are decidedly not "done deals" until passed by the Legislature, which would have been possible had MacDonald not called a snap election before they could have been tabled.

I am not exactly sure what fiscal model MacDonald is using to predict that the province will be able to afford both $700-million in campaign promises and whopping expenditure increase in the "budget" of earlier this month. He has also claimed in the past that he is committed to John Hamm's goal of lowering taxes, which naturally appeals to many. However, he also appears to be committed to NDP-style spending while having to maintain the mountainous debt that is the heritage handed down by previous Conservative and Liberal governments.

Since it is not possible to be committed to both of these things, all I can conclude is that Rodney MacDonald is committed more to making Rodney MacDonald premier than to anything else. That would be a noble goal if he was going to be the one picking up the tab, but he isn't.

We have seen this type of politician before in this province and we are still paying for it.

Cross-posted at nselections2006.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Hey George.

If Abu Ghraib was a 'mistake' what would you call this?

Bush = Lincoln

No fucking shit.

Excuse the language, but you have to watch this video through to the end to listen to Chris and Norah fawn over George Bush in his "wonderful moment of reflection". If you can stomach it, near the end you will hear, I shit you not, the phrase "...a little Lincoln there, I think...". It really is nauseating, unless you've already partaken of Bush's Freedom (TM) loaf, in which case you're too far gone for pure human revulsion.

I really feel sorry for Keith Olberman, and awe for his patience with absolute idiots.

Congratulations, Gordon O'Connor!

It appears that regardless of the stringent measures our fearful leader uses to get his ministers and backbenchers to keep their pieholes shut, someone just up and opens his or her mouth. It must get Stevie-poos blankie in a twist when someone like Gordon O'Connor contradicts him on an important, and visible issue, as he apparently just has.

If the Globe and Mail report here is true, then when Stephen "Accountability is my middle, hell my only name" Harper said that the families of the four soldiers killed in Afghanistan a couple of weeks ago were contacted to see if they wanted media present at the repatriation ceremony in Trenton, he, um, lied.

Yes, the saviour of the Right, the Anal One, he of the manly-handshake-go-get'em-son, lied to the public. To a reporter. One of the more trusting "local" variety, naturally, but to a reporter nonetheless. Of course the national press, the "liberal" media were not involved in this, but it appears they are getting into it now. And now, Stevie is backtracking.

And so, as widdew Stevie twists his blankie in impotent rage, I present Gordon O'Connor with the first "hammer" award - 'cuz you know he's gettin' his peepee slapped as we speak. Good work, Gordon; I hope you didn't completely cut your lobbying ties, you might need the steady income sooner than you think. More time with the family is nice and all, but it doesn't put bread on the table.

Thanks to Doug for pointing this out!

Note to Nova Scotia Electors

This appeared in the Chronicle-Herald yesterday, and I thought it was important to share. I encourage everyone in Nova Scotia that reads this (all five of you) (just kidding) to send in thoughtful, probing questions - not something that can be brushed off with a 'we're looking at that' or 'that's a priority for us'.
And vote, for goodness' sake. It's a right and a responsibility we should take seriously.

When Worlds Collide

So, here's my problem.

Over the past few months, as long-time readers of the 'Kog will know, I have developed an aversion to the mixing of science and religion. In particular, the often-rancorous debates that have taken place in the past on this site attest to the willingness of all of my compadres to defend the Theory of Evolution.

I have also become acutely aware of the injustices perpetrated by the dominant, primarily European culture on the Aboriginal populations past and present. I am staunchly in favour of letting First Nations peoples maintain and grow their own traditional belief systems.

Then, something like this happens. Evolution is being booted out of schools in one district because it comflicts with traditional Inuit beliefs. The objection to the contradiction of traditional beliefs in public schools, and the subsequent 'ban' on the teaching of evolution, led to a complaint by a teacher, and now has resulted in an investigation by the Quebec Government.

I apologize in advance to those I will most likely offend.

I have to side with Charlie D. on this one. An Aboriginal system of beliefs is the same as any other system of beliefs, in that it helps people make sense of the world. It is the introduction of supernatural elements to explain cause and effect relationships. (Among other things - it obviously brings comfort to some, and provides the easily-ignored Ten Suggestions to some groups, which could serve as a model for moral behaviour.)

Now, before anyone builds the effigy for burning (make me a bit thinner, would you? Thanks), I do not mean to imply a literal commonality or comparability with the substance or content of Aboriginal beliefs and, say, Catholicism. The Function of spiritual beliefs, however, is always the same. I don't care what you believe, just keep your pamphlets to yourself unless you enjoy a skeptic in your midst.

And, as deeply personal parts of some people's lives, these religious/spiritual beliefs have no place in the classroom, particularly the science classroom. In the 21st century, we shouldn't even be having this conversation (monologue, really) in the first place.

Aboriginal children are already at a distinct disadvantage scholastically, and they need the tools necessary to contribute tangibly to their communities. One of the crucial tools is science. Spirituality could be taught in schools, but under the heading of spirituality, not as a replacement for things you disagree with. I have no problem with spirituality, but denying that evolution is the mechanism through which species change over time and adapt to their surroundings because you don't like the idea is folly, and will ultimately damage those children you are professing to 'protect'. If anyone should understand how creatures adapt to particular conditions through a process of natural selection, it should be the people who live in the North!

Evolution is not a threat to anyone's way of life or spirituality. In fact, they are not even on the same playing field, nor should they be. They are literally worlds apart. Science is not a threat, it is a tool. Religion is not the ultimate answer, it is a comfort. Both can live, but they can only live apart.

Kevvyd brings this to my attention:
"It is not the Inuit community groups that have the problem with his teaching evolution - it's the Pentacosts. As of the day he was interviewed, he had no complaints from Inuit traditionalists."
Thanks for that - I don't want to accuse the wrong people, but this wasn't clear in either of the original articles. Sorry for the error.

Bush and Blair, up a tree...


I must admit to a fleeting malign satisfaction any time I hear Tony Blair or George Bush admit that the war in Iraq has been a bit of a botch from square one. Unfortunately, the old "things have gone wrong, but I'd do it all again" song is starting to grate on me now.

Blair is the most recent ally in the "General Waste of Time" to parade through Washington to celebrate how darned well things are going with the formation of a new Iraqi government - another day, another turning point. And another "gosh darn, things haven't gone as well as we'd like them to, but we're on the right track. Now."

I'm not sure if even an abject public apology for starting a voluntary war on lies would make me happy now, alhough it does make me cringe every time I hear one of those two buffoons bloat on about problems and errors, as if any of this was unforseen. Unfortunately, the chances of even a much-too-late apology appear to have been lost to another "turning point", as Tony so nimbly puts it:
I think it's easy to go back over mistakes that we may have made, but the biggest reason why Iraq has been difficult is the determination by our opponents to defeat us
This is of course just another dodge - "going over mistakes is too easy, and we men don't just do the easy thing - hell, no!" And, while we're on the topic, which "mistakes" are you referring to, Tony? Some tricksy little tactical foolishness like saving the Ministry of Oil before lifting a hand to protect a hospital? How about, for once publicly admitting that going to war using thinly-perfumed bullshit for a justification, thus guaranteeing that you would not have international support and would therefore be undermanned and without anyone to bail you out if things got ugly, that maybe Colin Powell was 200% right when he said "you broke it you bought it"? Nah, you're right, Tony, your biggest mistake was underestimating the will of your enemy. Good on you - admitting that you are making the same mistake Winston Churchill claimed Hitler made of England.

Naturally, with Tony in such an apologetic (snicker) mood, George had to get into the spirit of the event, too, admitting that:
saying "bring it on," kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people. I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner -- you know, "wanted dead or alive," that kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted, and so I learned from that.
"certain parts of the world" meaning, I suppose, everywhere outside of his own widdle head. It's nice to see that George has had some time to think about mistakes he's made since he couldn't come up with one way back when in the now-famous Tim Russert interview. Unfortunately, all he could muster was some foolish, hopefully-unscripted remarks he'd made that had the effect of inflaming an already disasterous "mistake". What a jerk.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

You Know, Maybe We Should Stop...

picking on Pat Robertson - after all the man can leg press 2000 pounds. Love the quote from this site:
There is no way on earth Robertson leg presses 2,000 pounds. That would mean a 76-year-old man broke the all-time Florida State University leg press record by 665 pounds over Dan Kendra. 665 pounds. Further, when he set the record, they had to modify the leg press machine to fit 1,335 pounds of weight. Plus, Kendra's capillaries in his eyes burst. Burst. Where in the world did Robertson even find a machine that could hold 2,000 pounds at one time? And how does he still have vision?
But hey, if Pat says he can press a ton, I believe him. And you can too - all you need to do is buy Pat's Amazing Protein Shake!

The return of "Oh yeah? Well, I'm going home and taking my football with me"

I didn't catch this in any of the earlier reports of Stephen Harper's "the media is biased" hissy-fit and I haven't had any blogsurfing time today, but it appears that:

Harper's office circulated a memo to friendly lobbyists asking them to make the point that the journalists who walked out were lazy

So, I'm thinking that we are in the next few hours going to be able to identify who exactly are the Harper-certified media outlets in the country.

And click on my new icon to find out more information about our fearfullless leader.

Kenny-Boy and Jeffy goin' to da big house

Well, sort of.

I'm sure Briguy will want to do a write-up on this, as it seems his hatred of these two and what they represent radiates like an almost-audible hum, so I will simply point out that the verdicts were just announced.

Question: Why did it take so damned long?

Observation: They face up to 20-30 years, I presume in a posh golf-course infested "jail" set aside for white collar criminals that you or I might actually otherwise pay money to stay at for a getaway weekend. Just how many million did they get for each year in "jail"? This, in a country that prides itself on being "tough on crime", where stealing a car can get you five years or more if it isn't a third strike, and life if it is. Of course, if you're stealing a car you are more likely to be poor, and very possibly black or Hispanic and therefore, one presumes, deserving of jail as a public threat.

I'm just sayin'...

Oh yeah? Well, I'm going home and taking my football with me

In a move that doubtlessly will be hailed as a strong stand against the "Liberal" media by paranoid conservatives around the country, and in what looks to me most like a fit of pique, Stephen Harper has decided to avoid the national media.

This reminds me very much of a move George Bush tried a couple of years ago when his poll numbers were sagging and he sent the troops, Condoleeza Rice, the ever-photogenic Dick Cheney, and others, out to do interviews for a week or two with local news channels. For the most part, the local reporters, grateful for getting such a "scoop" as an interview with the National Security Advisor or veep, were unable to mount competent or challenging questions and the campaign became a mobile platform for the administration to basically say whatever it wanted.

This is naturally what the Conservatives want, but the critical difference between Harper and Bush is that Bush has advisors that he listens to and instead of announcing to the world in a crybaby voice "I'm not going to talk to you Washington jerks for a while (sniff), because you make baby sad!", he simply changed the method of "message delivery" for a couple of weeks and didn't make a big stink of it. Now Harper has had a public snit and the method of delivery will be the news and not the message he wants to carry. And the news will be - "Stephen Harper is a control freak that cannot tolerate being exposed to the big, scary real world for the length of time it takes to answer a few unscripted questions."

I'm not sure how many rookie mistakes he's going to be allowed, but this one is pretty big.

Whether or not the media is biased toward one party or the other is being discussed elsewhere in the blogosphere as I write and I don't really want to get into that argument. The point that I would like to make is that the Conservatives have very little to gain by pissing off the entire national media. The article linked above is from CTV which, aside from a few reporters, is as close to being a conservative mouthpiece as we are likely to have in this country. Their coverage of Paul Martin and Stephen Harper during the election campaign was instrumental for the Conservatives and necessary for the negative turn of the tide for the Liberals.

If Harper wants to ever become a majority PM, he has to learn the lesson that Liberals learned decades ago; to use the media for what it can do, not treat it like a urinal.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Some good news...

The other day, a friend of mine who occasionally reads this here little blog, asked me if I was always angry when I wrote stuff. That had me puzzled, because I don't consider myself an angry person and I usually bounce things around a few times so that even on issues that I feel strongly about I am not (too) rude or (too) impertinent.

Then I realized what she was picking up on - most of the things I write about are complaints and whines about this or that. Thus, I thought it was about time I posted some good news. Actually, I consider this damn good news. A study out of UCLA has just determined that smoking marijuana, even very heavily, does not measurably increase your cancer risk.

So lets either illegalize poisonous cigarettes or legalize pot so we can all smoke together. Light 'em up Sparky!

How Dumb Do You Have To Be to be a Tom DeLay Supporter?

Apparently pretty dumb - check out the video link - evidently no one's told them that Stephen Colbert's a comedian!

Three reasons not to see The Da Vinci Code

Don't ask me what I was doing there, but this morning I was surfing the intergeek and ended up checking out The 700 Club. I go there now and then, just to peek around for a few minutes; you understand. I'm not embarassed about it in the least. Okay, I am, but just a little.

To be honest, the place is like porn for atheists - I'm hooked...

Anyway, I'm reading along and I see this article apparently by Michael Medved, which is oddly enough written in third person, on reasons to not see The Da Vinci Code. In fact, the article is obviously written by someone else, someone sub-literate, so I have to wonder if Medved actually saw the final print. Anyway, he gives three reasons for all people (including non-Christians(TM) like him!) to not see it. They are:

1. It promotes conspiracy theories which make people paranoid. Okay, fine... if you think paranoia is bad. What's wrong with paranoia? What?

2. The book and movie "shamelessly (no less!) endorse paganism and goddess worship", daring to suggest that "you can enjoy elevated spirituality without the inconvenient moral demands of Christianity or Judaism". Maybe Micheal is Jewish, so he's shoe-horning himself in here, you don't want to be on the shameless end of the spirituality scale, I suppose. Apparently, the presupposition is that you need to be Jewish or Christian to have "elevated spirituality" - Buddhists suck ass in hell, and don't get me started on atheists!

3. The movie undermines Christian commitment. Ummm, I thought you weren't Christian, Michael, you said so above, so why would this bother you? Besides, if a person's grasp on religion is that tentative that a movie is going to unhinge him, then let him go, 'cuz he's already gone. Except the tithe, the church needs the weekly tithe, so stick around, but please, don't talk to the younger members of the congregation.

And the capper, the piece de resistance as it were:

Anything that damages Christianity in this country hurts the society at large

Yes, you read it here first, folks - The Da Vinci Code is hurting America!

Of course, you know where this always ends...

Free Speech: Protecting, Defending...Denying

The ACLU is making suggestions that they may limit the right of Board members to criticize the organization. That's what I love about living in this modern world - there's enough insane contradictions to keep a blogger happy for quite a long time.
As a champion of free speech, this is the last thing the ACLU should be proposing.
Perhaps the name needs to be changed to the American Conditional Liberties Union.

You may speak freely, as long as you agree with us. Sound familiar? If this organization represents and defends free speech, then average Americans are doomed to have the government continue to tread on their Constitutional rights for the forseeable future.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

bin Laden apparently concerned for the welfare of his "employees"

I don't know if one can trust anything from someone purporting to be Osama bin Laden, but at least this has the ring of, ah, truthiness. As much, if not more, than what comes out of the Whitehouse these days, anyway.

How do we make Nova Scotia a better province?

Over on the NS elections blog, I've asked the kind of school-kid question that sometimes gets forgotten. It happens to be the kind of question that we should think of when we consider who's name to put our "X" beside. If you live in Nova Scotia, you're from Nova Scotia, ever been to Nova Scotia, have any interest in Nova Scotia, or even want to just write about Nova Scotia, I'd love it if you went over there and put your $.02 in.

The new message - we're responsible... now

George Bush is trying to turn his approval ratings slide around, by commissioning his Iraqi-addicted pals Tony and John to say shit about being responsible, because, well, people don't listen when he says it. Hell, they laugh.

John Howard, Australia's PM, just left after a brief visit to the Whitehouse and a quick tour of the talk-show circuit. To Wolf Blitzer he said that pulling troops out of Iraq now would be horrendous, as would withdrawing from Afghanistan.

Tony Blair, battling his own support problems back home, does his part later this week when he visits to get his picture with the president. I have to think that Tony Blair goes on the stage with George Bush for the same reason that frat boys invite fat ugly friends to go with them to the bar - to look better by comparison. The problem of course is that if people keep seeing you at the bar getting the drinks for the fat ugly friend, you get known as the fat ugly guy's flunky. And that's likely not gonna get you any. Blair, for his part, says that he thinks British troops will be home within four years - shame he's unlikely to last that long.

For his part, Whitehouse Information Retention Manager Press Secretary says "We're not going to sort of look at our watches and say, 'Oh, time to go,' because that would be irresponsible".

Take it from the Whitehouse - they know irresponsible.

Chimpy as post-modern president

Friday, May 19, 2006

Sex is not for the youth

Hey, when you are married to the leader of a country in whih 7% of the population has AIDS, what advice do you have to give teenage students? Don't use condoms, apparently. Lucy Kibaki, wife of Mwai Kibaki, president of Kenya, said just that in a speech today. And why not, you might ask? Well, because kids should learn abstinence, or in her words - "Sex is not for the youth". This, of course is translated from Kiswahili, a more accurate translation might be "if I hold my breath I can keep my head my ass for a surprisingly long time".

Any similarity with the Bush Administration's approach to AIDS is purely accidental - they have research from dozens of sociologists proving that the youth actually do not have sex. It's all just a myth of the "reality-based" anti-Christian Left.

Prince Charles is a Leonard Cohen fan

Who would have known that?

I won't comment on this except to say that this line really got me:
Royal biographer Penny Junor agreed it was the perfect choice. "It sums him up," she told Reuters.

"It is an amusing choice. If one had to play those games where you matched someone with someone, this is the perfect choice for an introspective and self-pitying individual."
Did you get that? Leonard Cohen's music is for the self-pitying! I guess for some people if you're not singing about your new love, your bling, or your ass, you're self-pitying. I don't know about you, but I think Much Music and the like would do with a little more introspection and "self-pity" as long as it came at the cost of self-aggrandizement.

Play on, brother Leonard, play on!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Glory Hallelujah, Don't That Put the Boots Right To Ya

Heaven knows I've been feeling the loss of another quote from Pat Robertson to brighten up my day, and Pat has delivered - according to Pat, God has told him that America can expect storms and possibly a tsunami to hit their coastlines this summer. These revelations on the weather came to Pat during his annual prayer retreat in January - apparently he waited 'til now to tell us cause, hey - it's not like a tsunami has the potential to be something major or anything.

Best quote:
"If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms," Robertson said May 8. Wednesday, he added, "there well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest."
What do you mean if you heard the Lord right? Are you trying to say that the Omnipotent God mumbles? Of course, since the Almighty created the Universe, that would make him 6000 years old in Pat Robertson years (That's 11.2 billion years or more to you and me, folks!) and the elderly do tend to get a little vague of speech.

Of course, why God would do this and what Pat has to gain by telling us is unknown, but the last few seconds of this might give us a clue.

This'll get 'em

I see here and there where the phrase "Adam and Steve" really gets the anti-gay Christian Right. What do you think they'll say about Adam and Bonzo?

h/t to Havril

Afghan government accuses Pakistan of terrorism links

Hamid Karzai today has made one of the boldest statements I've heard him make - directed right at the Pakistani madrassas that provide motivated terrorists for the Taliban.

I post this because I'm under the impression that many people don't understand the link between the Taliban and Pakistan, and therefore don't appreciate my stand that the solution to the Afghan problem is not to put out Taliban fires. At least not until you've shut off the source of Taliban from Pakistan.

Harper castles

I have been trying to formulate my thoughts on last night's "vote" all day long and dammit, they just won't organize themselves into words. I'm not emotional or anything, I knew it was going to go down as it did, it's just that I haven't had the time to enumerate all of the disappointments and opportunities it represents. I'm glad that there was at least some discussion of the mission, but unfortunately Harper's statement that he was going to lift his leg on a "no" vote should that happen dashed my hopes that this would form a useful and potentially important precedent for future military entanglements our government might opt to wander into, which I had written about like a doe-eyed 13 year-old earlier this week. I blush just to think...

So what have we derived from this little manouver?
  • The Canadian military is stuck in Afghanistan until 2009
  • We will very likely have to expand our contingent, as it is likely that we will taking over leadership of the mission in a year. How many troops are we talking about? 3000? When is it likely we'll find out?
  • The vote, the Canadian military, the Parliament, was used last night in an effort to split the Liberal party, that much is obvious. That doesn't shock or upset me - it's happened before and it's just part of the game. The NDP and Bloc voted as I and many others had thought, had hoped they would, but that left the Liberals stranded on a rock largely of their own making. They opted to not enforce caucus solidarity sensibly, and the result split a couple of dozen MP's on the government side, and another dozen more that either abstained, or shamelessy didn't show up. For what it's worth, the vote was a hell of a lot closer than I thought it would be. How does it effect the Liberal leadership race now that two of the candidates - Scott Brison and Michael Ignatieff, have voted with the government on this?
  • The Conservatives have now firmly and absolutely hitched it's fate to that of the Canadian military. There is no going back now for them; they no longer can call it a "Liberal mission", because from now on, it's all theirs. However it turns, it's theirs.
  • I harken back to Dan saying some months ago that the Tories are going to do everything they can to split the Liberals down the centre and that they would be willing to accept 30 or 40 seats swing to the NDP because it would result in more than that swinging over to them.

Go and read James Travers editorial at the Star today. I have nothing more than "what he said".

Where's Paul?

Does anyone know if Paul Martin was in the House last night? Looking through the list of votes in Hansard, he does not appear, and I'm curious if he was there and sat on his hands or if his Outlook didn't ping to let him know that he had to show up for work.

Afghan yea votes

Here is a quick list I've put together of the Members that either voted in favour of the Conservative party motion to extend the Afghan mission, abstained, or were absent. The Hansard record does not record abstainees. Please forgive the formatting, I'm still new to the HTML gig.

(I note with some sadness that Nova Scotian MPs largely backed the motion. The two NDP Members voted against, but all six Liberals were with the government and two of the three Conservatives voted for the motion, with one abstainee.)

Liberals that either voted for, abstained, or were not present for the vote:

Bagnell, Larry Yukon YK Yes
Brison, Scott Kings—Hants NS Yes
Cullen, Roy Etobicoke North ON Yes
Cuzner, Rodger Cape Breton—Canso NS Yes
Easter, Wayne Malpeque PE Yes
Eyking, Mark Sydney—Victoria NS Yes
Folco, Raymonde Laval—Les Îles PQ Yes
Graham, Bill Toronto Centre ON Yes
Guarnieri, Albina Mississauga East—Cooksville ON Yes
Ignatieff, Michael Etobicoke—Lakeshore ON Yes
Lee, Derek Scarborough—Rouge River ON Yes
Maloney, John Welland ON Yes
McGuire, Joe Egmont PE Yes
McKay, John Scarborough—Guildwood ON Yes
Peterson, Jim Willowdale ON Yes
Redman, Karen Kitchener Centre ON Yes
Regan, Geoff Halifax West NS Yes
Rota, Anthony Nipissing—Timiskaming ON Yes
Savage, Michael Dartmouth—Cole Harbour NS Yes
Simms, Scott Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor NL Yes
Thibault, Robert West Nova NS Yes
Tonks, Alan York South—Weston ON Yes
Wappel, Tom Scarborough Southwest ON Yes
Zed, Paul Saint John NB Yes
Bonin, Raymond Nickel Belt ON
Cannis, John Scarborough Centre ON
Chan, Raymond Richmond BC
Cotler, Irwin Mount Royal PQ
Godfrey, John Don Valley West ON
Goodale, Ralph Wascana SK
Hubbard, Charles Miramichi NB
Karygiannis, Jim Scarborough—Agincourt ON
Martin, Paul LaSalle—Émard PQ
Milliken, Peter Kingston and the Islands ON
Murphy, Brian Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe NB
Murphy, Shawn Charlottetown PE
Robillard, Lucienne Westmount—Ville-Marie PQ
Wilfert, Bryon Richmond Hill ON

The entire Conservative party voted in favour of the motion, with one abstainer (or absent):

Abbott, Jim Kootenay—Columbia BC Yes
Ablonczy, Diane Calgary—Nose Hill AB Yes
Albrecht, Harold Kitchener—Conestoga ON Yes
Allen, Mike Tobique—Mactaquac NB Yes
Allison, Dean Niagara West—Glanbrook ON Yes
Ambrose, Rona Edmonton—Spruce Grove AB Yes
Anders, Rob Calgary West AB Yes
Anderson, David Cypress Hills—Grasslands SK Yes
Baird, John Ottawa West—Nepean ON Yes
Batters, Dave Palliser SK Yes
Benoit, Leon Vegreville—Wainwright AB Yes
Bernier, Maxime Beauce PQ Yes
Bezan, James Selkirk—Interlake MN Yes
Blackburn, Jean-Pierre Jonquière—Alma PQ Yes
Blaney, Steven Lévis—Bellechasse PQ Yes
Boucher, Sylvie Beauport—Limoilou PQ Yes
Breitkreuz, Garry Yorkton—Melville SK Yes
Brown, Gord Leeds—Grenville ON Yes
Brown, Patrick Barrie ON Yes
Bruinooge, Rod Winnipeg South MN Yes
Calkins, Blaine Wetaskiwin AB Yes
Cannan, Ron Kelowna—Lake Country BC Yes
Cannon, Lawrence Pontiac PQ Yes
Carrie, Colin Oshawa ON Yes
Casson, Rick Lethbridge AB Yes
Chong, Michael Wellington—Halton Hills ON Yes
Clement, Tony Parry Sound—Muskoka ON Yes
Cummins, John Delta—Richmond East BC Yes
Davidson, Patricia Sarnia—Lambton ON Yes
Day, Stockwell Okanagan—Coquihalla BC Yes
Del Mastro, Dean Peterborough ON Yes
Devolin, Barry Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock ON Yes
Doyle, Norman St. John's East NL Yes
Dykstra, Rick St. Catharines ON Yes
Emerson, David Vancouver Kingsway BC Yes
Epp, Ken Edmonton—Sherwood Park AB Yes
Fast, Ed Abbotsford BC Yes
Finley, Diane Haldimand—Norfolk ON Yes
Fitzpatrick, Brian Prince Albert SK Yes
Flaherty, Jim Whitby—Oshawa ON Yes
Fletcher, Steven Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia MN Yes
Galipeau, Royal Ottawa—Orléans ON Yes
Gallant, Cheryl Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke ON Yes
Goldring, Peter Edmonton East AB Yes
Goodyear, Gary Cambridge ON Yes
Gourde, Jacques Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière PQ Yes
Grewal, Nina Fleetwood—Port Kells BC Yes
Guergis, Helena Simcoe—Grey ON Yes
Hanger, Art Calgary Northeast AB Yes
Harper, Stephen Calgary Southwest AB Yes
Harris, Richard Cariboo—Prince George BC Yes
Harvey, Luc Louis-Hébert PQ Yes
Hawn, Laurie Edmonton Centre AB Yes
Hearn, Loyola St. John's South—Mount Pearl NL Yes
Hiebert, Russ South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale BC Yes
Hill, Jay Prince George—Peace River BC Yes
Hinton, Betty Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo BC Yes
Jaffer, Rahim Edmonton—Strathcona AB Yes
Jean, Brian Fort McMurray—Athabasca AB Yes
Kamp, Randy Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission BC Yes
Keddy, Gerald South Shore—St. Margaret's NS Yes
Kenney, Jason Calgary Southeast AB Yes
Komarnicki, Ed Souris—Moose Mountain SK Yes
Kramp, Daryl Prince Edward—Hastings ON Yes
Lake, Mike Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont AB Yes
Lauzon, Guy Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry ON Yes
Lemieux, Pierre Glengarry—Prescott—Russell ON Yes
Lukiwski, Tom Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre SK Yes
Lunn, Gary Saanich—Gulf Islands BC Yes
Lunney, James Nanaimo—Alberni BC Yes
MacKay, Peter Central Nova NS Yes
MacKenzie, Dave Oxford ON Yes
Manning, Fabian Avalon NL Yes
Mark, Inky Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette MN Yes
Mayes, Colin Okanagan—Shuswap BC Yes
Menzies, Ted Macleod AB Yes
Merrifield, Rob Yellowhead AB Yes
Miller, Larry Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound ON Yes
Mills, Bob Red Deer AB Yes
Moore, James Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam BC Yes
Moore, Rob Fundy Royal NB Yes
Nicholson, Rob Niagara Falls ON Yes
Norlock, Rick Northumberland—Quinte West ON Yes
Obhrai, Deepak Calgary East AB Yes
O'Connor, Gordon Carleton—Mississippi Mills ON Yes
Oda, Bev Durham ON Yes
Pallister, Brian Portage—Lisgar MN Yes
Paradis, Christian Mégantic—L'Érable PQ Yes
Petit, Daniel Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles PQ Yes
Poilievre, Pierre Nepean—Carleton ON Yes
Prentice, Jim Calgary Centre-North AB Yes
Preston, Joe Elgin—Middlesex—London ON Yes
Rajotte, James Edmonton—Leduc AB Yes
Reid, Scott Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington ON Yes
Richardson, Lee Calgary Centre AB Yes
Ritz, Gerry Battlefords—Lloydminster SK Yes
Scheer, Andrew Regina—Qu'Appelle SK Yes
Schellenberger, Gary Perth—Wellington ON Yes
Shipley, Bev Lambton—Kent—Middlesex ON Yes
Skelton, Carol Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar SK Yes
Smith, Joy Kildonan—St. Paul MN Yes
Solberg, Monte Medicine Hat AB Yes
Sorenson, Kevin Crowfoot AB Yes
Stanton, Bruce Simcoe North ON Yes
Storseth, Brian Westlock—St. Paul AB Yes
Strahl, Chuck Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon BC Yes
Sweet, David Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale ON Yes
Thompson, Greg New Brunswick Southwest NB Yes
Thompson, Myron Wild Rose AB Yes
Tilson, David Dufferin—Caledon ON Yes
Toews, Vic Provencher MN Yes
Trost, Bradley Saskatoon—Humboldt SK Yes
Turner, Garth Halton ON Yes
Tweed, Merv Brandon—Souris MN Yes
Van Kesteren, Dave Chatham-Kent—Essex ON Yes
Van Loan, Peter York—Simcoe ON Yes
Vellacott, Maurice Saskatoon—Wanuskewin SK Yes
Verner, Josée Louis-Saint-Laurent PQ Yes
Wallace, Mike Burlington ON Yes
Warawa, Mark Langley BC Yes
Warkentin, Chris Peace River AB Yes
Watson, Jeff Essex ON Yes
Williams, John Edmonton—St. Albert AB Yes
Yelich, Lynne Blackstrap SK Yes
Casey, Bill Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley NS

The Bloc and NDP voted en masse against the motion. One member of the BQ abstained or was absent:

Bachand, Claude Saint-Jean PQ

The sole Independent member voted in favour of the motion:

Arthur, André Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier Québec Yes

A Burning Sensation

Yesterday, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board saw fit to take away the license of Sensations Cabaret to offer adult entertainment, although they'll still be able to sell booze on the premises. Residents of the neighborhood where the club is located are justifiably pleased - they have been fighting for months against the renewal of the license.

In what has become a mantra for the owner, Javis Roberts (actually his wife is the owner, and the club was purchased with money borrowed from his mother. What do you wanna bet he didn't tell her what the money was for?), he vowed to soldier on, despite what he obviously feels is persecution by the community. In fact, he has bigger and better things in mind:

But club manager Javis Roberts said if residents think the decision means no more strip club, they're wrong. Sensations intends to have dancers on stage this weekend with a full array of new sexual services."It's going to be the first real strip club in Nova Scotia," he said.

I'm not sure what the 'full array of sexual services' would be, but it can't bode well for the neighborhood.

As I have mentioned in the past, I volunteer with a group whose goal is to make the community a better place to live, so I'm sure my reaction to this is somewhat predictable. Let me be clear on one thing, though: I am not opposed to strip clubs per se. I have no moral objection beyond the outrage at the recruitment of local teenagers from a high school in the neighborhood. I actually have never been to a strip joint - I enjoy the female form as much as the next person, but when I'm in a room naked with someone (those of you who know me are now hoping for some way to get that image out of your minds) , I'd like there not to be a 'no touching' rule - it defeats the purpose. Save some money and buy a magazine, rent a video, whatever, as long as it's private and harms nobody else. In my opinion, there's nothing better than intimacy with someone you trust and respect. Which, of course, men don't do with strippers. My cousin, to whom I'm very close, plied her trade as a stripper on the West Coast for a while, and it was hard - she's more than capable of taking care of herself, but there are others who aren't.

Anyway, in true porn mogul fashion, Mr. Roberts sees himself as the injured party, despite complaints from neighbors (I know one of them) who have had prostitutes doing their thing in people's backyards, who have had their windows broken, who have been sexually harassed by patrons - do we see a pattern yet?

I'm aghast at the complete disregard for the families in the neighborhood, and Roberts' desire to continue regardless of the damage it does. Of course, this should be expected of a person whose bus company was shut down due to safety violations. Again, another business operated regardless of the risk to others.

Let me say this directly to this 'entrepreneur' - you've lost. Get over it. The neighbors are not going away, nor should they - they were there first. All they want is the opportunity to raise families without the risk of property damage or much worse. When the first young girl is raped by someone leaving your club, will you then say that she did it on purpose to discredit you?

Cut your losses, move somewhere else - there are lots of areas on the outskirts where nobody lives, where the surrounding neighborhoods will not be at such a risk. It's not about 'legislating morality', it's about common sense - but Mr. Roberts is thinking with his wallet. Or with something else in his pants.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Stephen Harper, Conservative party leader, prime minister, snot-nosed whiner

Things haven't gone as Stephen Harper thought they would in getting his public appointments commission up and running, with his pick for commissioner getting roughed up by the government operations committee over "unfortunate" remarks.

How unfair - I mean, he did call Jamaican immigrants violent, but he didn't really mean it! He says he and his wife "basically love the Caribbean. We attend their churches. In fact, in January we were at an all-black church". Imagine that, exposed like that in the middle of them; you are brave, my friend, brave. Was the music good? Hey, I've heard that even Stephen Colbert has a black friend, now!

Harper's response?

"Fuck you! I'm not playing and I'm taking my bald retired oil executive football home so you can't play either!"

Peggy Draper bravely turns the tables

For whatever reason, this blog receives a couple of hits a month from various countries in Africa. There would be nothing really curious about that if it weren't for the fact that usually those hits are referred here by a web search for the key words "Peggy Draper". Seriously, I would lie about George Bush without batting an eye, but not about the link count or quality of this most blest of sites. Now, as you may know, I have written about the one-time Halifax School Board member a number of times as she has fallen from the lofty heights of respectable member of the community through quiet bankruptcy to ultimately learning the hard way that you actually have to show up to the occasional Board meeting or risk getting punted (and most importantly, not paid.)

Now I think I understand why we're getting those hits from Africa, and a noble cause it is, too. In order to defend our right to Nigerian-Minister-in-exile-scam-free email, she has turned the tables on them and is playing the same game. Thus, thousands of African businessmen and women receive the following email:

Halifax Regional Municiplality, Nova Scotia Canada

Attention: The President/CEO

Dear Sir,

Confidential Business Proposal

Having consulted with my colleagues and based on the information gathered from the Nova Scotia Board of Education, I have the privilege to request your assistance to transfer the sum of $47,500,000.00 (forty seven million, five hundred thousand United States dollars) into your accounts. The above sum resulted from an over-invoiced contract, executed, commissioned and paid for about five years (5) ago by the province's Industrial Expansion Fund. This action was however intentional and since then the fund has been in a suspense account at The Bank of Nova Scotia.

We are now ready to transfer the fund overseas and that is where you come in. It is important to inform you that as civil servants, we are forbidden to operate a foreign account; that is why we require your assistance. The total sum will be shared as follows: 70% for us, 25% for you and 5% for local and international expenses incidental to the transfer.

The transfer is risk free on both sides. I am a Board Member with the Halfiax Regional Municipality School Board (HRMSB). If you find this proposal acceptable, we shall require the following documents:
(a) your banker's name, telephone, account and fax numbers.
(b) your private telephone and fax numbers — for confidentiality and easy communication.
(c) your letter-headed paper stamped and signed.
Alternatively we will furnish you with the text of what to type into your letter-headed paper, along with a breakdown explaining, comprehensively what we require of you. The business will take us thirty (30) working days to accomplish.
Please reply urgently.
Best regards
Peggy Draper

After receiving such a solicitation, what is a person to do? Well apparently use google to find some of the earlier articles in which I have impugned Peggy Draper's good name and thereby uncover the ruse, having discovered that Ms. Draper might be a small-time huckster and charletan, possible soon to be known as the Half-Million Dollar Woman.

I honestly am not sure if we here at the blev have provided a service, saving someone from losing their money or if we've removed a brave defender of our emailing rights.

Ahh, the blade of justice has many nasty little edges, and no real handle. It's an absolute bitch to swing.

Seal of Disapproval

Rumor has it that Mrs. M. was discovered in bed with a seal.

Seriously, what do you think? Did she finally succumb to her carnivorous impulses, or was she just not submissive enough? Given her age, perhaps Paul felt that she was displaying insufficient awe at his former Beatle status. I'm looking forward to seeing Sir Pall's picture in the next Oxford English Dictionary, next to the word 'irrelevant'.

At this point, although I miss them both musically, I'm glad that George and John didn't live to be forced to answer stupid questions regarding what their former bass player is up to. I know Ringo's alive, but nobody cared what he thought during the 60's, and they're not going to start now.

Guy Fawkes - the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions

So this makes the decision to have a hasty vote on Afghanistan make a bit more sense - the Canadian military has been asked to lead the mission in Kabul beginning in 2008. Taking over command of course means expanding our troop numbers on the ground. So the vote tonight actually is not about extending the mission, it is about extending and expanding it; sending more troops for a longer period of time.

Well, I give Stephen Harper credit for sticking to the word of his promise to hold a debate if the mission parameters change with tonight's debate, but that is as far as I'll go.

He stuck to his word, he is having a vote, but he is not allowing any time to debate the issues surrounding the mission; issues which in my mind either doom the war to failure or at best limit it to an ephemeral success-in-name-only; the kind of pseudovictory the Bush administration is trying to manufacture with no success in Iraq right now.

In the past I worked in the software industry and we would never have committed to developing a product, to putting three or four programmers on something for six months, until it had been worked through at the decision-making level for a couple of weeks at the very least. And then through design discussions and market analysis… And here we’re talking about committing military troops, people that will kill and die for two years on a six-hour “debate”?

So we will have our "debate", six hours of tough-guy support-the-troops photo ops for the next election campaign, and then we will commit our sons and daughters to another two years in a mission with vaguely-defined goals, and Stephen Harper will be able to tick off the "let Parliament vote for war" box on his promise card. Technically, yes, this is a debate, but only technically.

And yes, there are some 40-watt bulbs out there that think that simply the act of having a vote fulfills Parliament's requirements and that the bluster from the Opposition is unwarranted. If people like this don't aknowledge in their hearts that this is partisan foolishness, then they simply don't understand what Parliament is for. And if they are right, if this is what Parliament is for, these empty-headed votes manufactured on an assembly line and stamped out in little easy-to-broadcast six-hour blocks, then Guy Fawkes would be a welcome visitor to Ottawa right about now, because buildings that aren't being used to their potential ought to come down to make room for parking lots or condos or something.

Yes, Stephen Harper stuck to his word - he is letting Parliament have a vote. However for those of us who actually thought that meant we were going to also have a reasonable debate on the topic, this is an eye-opener. I will indeed read Stephen Harper's words very carefully from this point forward, because he means what he says, but only that and nothing more.

I also remember him saying "you won't recognize Canada when I get through with it". And now I have an idea that he might really mean it.

But as I've said before, I am pleased with the precedent - we at least have to consult Parliament before ordering people to kill and die in our name. However, lets get to work and make Parliament mean something more than this tawdry pollitical gamesmanship.

As soon as the vote is completed, should it pass, I will compile a list of the brave MPs that voted to expand the Canadian involvement, that voted to "support our troops" by sending them into an unwinnable war to die. What should one do with such a list? Hmmm...

And in the end, if we "win" in Afghanistan, whatever that really means, I'll say sorry. I'll admit that I was wrong, (something that I would love the Liberal party to do tonight, but there's me with my head in the sky again!), but I don't think that's going to be necessary, because this "war" can't be won. It is a battle being fought against a sympton and not until its root causes, the disease to follow the metaphor, is dealt with, can it end. This is the debate that we should be having and are not, because, well, it might take more than six hours.

Segregation Wars Update

The New York Times reports that the NAACP is challenging the Nebraska law that would lead to segregated schools in Omaha, said law spearheaded by emotionally wounded State Senator Ernie Chambers. The law's passage was discussed at some length here.
I'm glad we're getting a little more information, such as the account of the 'warring school superintendents', which likely played a greater role in this misbegotten effort than has been previously mentioned.

Theodore M. Shaw, director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., the person who filed the lawsuit, is quoted at the end:
"I mean this is 2006, in a society that is diverse and multicultural."

That it is, despite the best efforts of the U.S. Government. Unless this challenge succeeds, American schools won't be multicultural and diverse for long, I'm afraid.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Bit Late, Dont You Think?

As reported on CBC, for years due to the low Canadian Dollar, books prices have been marked up for the Canadian Market, such that a book that costs $7.99 USD will cost $11.99 Canadian, a markup of over 50%. However, since the Canadian Dollar is now at 91 cents US, the actual price, including the 10% handling charge as explained in the story should be $9.58 Canadian, which means there's an extra $2.42 cents coming out of my pocket and going to somebody - I wouldn't actually mind if it was going to the author, but somehow I doubt that's what's happening. What, you may ask, are Canadian Booksellers doing to address this? Oh, they are leaping swiftly into action, my friends - they promise to drop their prices - next fall - or approximately 4-6 months from now.

What, you may ask, is my point here, and why is that picture attached to this post? Patience, people, all will be made clear in time. That, my friends, is a Personal Digital Assistant or a PDA for short - in fact, it's a Palm Zire 71, the precise model I have. With this device, and with access to the Internet, I can visit various sites, such as Fictionwise, E-Reader, or Mobipocket, and download books for approximately 5-7 dollars US, a good deal if you're an American, but a great deal if you're a Canadian like me. You can even go to Blackmask and get public domain books for free. Now, I will grant you, deadtree (paper) books have their virtue, they're esthetically pleasing, don't require batteries, and some people do find reading on a computer screen to be troublesome, but there are virtues to electronic versions - portability (I've got over 90 books on the beast at present), they have their own built in light source, they're priced a bit less than deadtree, and most importantly - when the exchange rate changes, I don't have to wait for someone to reluctantly make up their mind to make price changes.

The point I'm trying to make here is that the market is changing, and that if you're a retailer, it should be your job to adapt to it and make changes to follow. Or conversely, you can sit on your ass, enjoy your temporary profit and then, in the future, wonder what happened to your customer base.

One other point I'll make is that these sites have very few, if any Canadian Authors - so if you're a Canadian Publisher - that light at the end of the tunnel? That's the future, my friend, and it's going to run you over if you don't start paying attention.

Orbit this!

If they didn't want it to hit it's target, maybe they shouldn't have called it DART.

And the Republican base doesn't believe in evolution?

A Measure of the Social Value of Learning

The Canadian Council on Learning has published the 2006 Composite Learning Index, which illustrates the point made in kevvyd's post (and my response) of April 28, and my own musings of April 18. Key message here: Learning is about more than memorizing subject matter.

The process of learning, at any stage of life, is about learning to see the world, to define it, to figure out how others see it. The process of learning is the process of creating meaning, both in our own lives and in our relationships to others on an individual level, on a community level, and ultimately on a global scale. You learn every day, you just may not be aware of it - it is not confined to the classroom, and is not confined to 'facts'.

The most important way in which we learn is when we realize our assumptions or our reactions to social conditions or events is not as accurate or appropriate as we'd like to think. Educational theorist Jack Mezirow refers to this moment as the 'disorienting dilemma', the moment when you think, "Oh, crap, this is wrong". It's never a comfortable experience, nor a pleasant one - but it is necessary. The difficulty is that we have to be brave enough to put ourselves in that situation, and to allow ourselves and our frames of reference to be transformed, and not isolate ourselves so all we ever hear is the comforting repetition of dogma that lets us cope but leaves us incomplete and unfulfilled. It is only when we explore other ways of looking at the world and challenging our own suppositions and beliefs that we can become real human beings that can meaningfully contribute to our relationships, communities, and the world at large.

I don't know everything, nor would I claim to. I don't claim to be right about everything, but I share my opinions anyway. I learn a lot from my compatriots here on the blog, from other blogs, from the people I encounter, and, yes, in class as well (I'm sure any of my profs who read this are relieved to hear that). It's my willingness to learn, my openness to new ideas that give me some measure of intellectual fulfillment.

Hearing and believing the same messages over and over, doing the same things over and over because they help me get through life without thought, would be a hollow pursuit. People need to realize that there are other ways of looking at the world, that there is a lot of work to be done inside to make us better people, and that those 'in charge' have their own motivations for acting one way, while actually doing something different. If this report tells us that we're doing a good job in creating future citizens who are capable of questioning the party line, then the educational system is already a success. The work ethic we all need is to be willing to work on our ethics. Education, and more specifically our schools, should help our children find that out for themselves.

I could go on, but I won't. Suffice to say that we need to be skeptical when something is done 'for our own good'. We need to be empowered to decide what our own good is, and try our best to make our good the one that does the most good for others. We can't wait for social justice, my friends, we have to build it from the inside out. And our schools should be the place where the bricks to build a better, more just society are created.

Remember, though, it's never too late. We start to build when we start to learn - and learning never stops.

The politics of dancing: a vote on the Afghan mission

Stephen Harper, after feeling out (not up; that's reserved for Jean Charest) the opposition parties and seeing the weak support for the NATO mission in Afghanistan, has apparently decided to call a six-hour debate and parliamentary vote on it tomorrow. I have whimpered long and hard for such a vote in these pages, so this comes as good news to me, and I hope it sets a precedent for future Canadian military engagements.

Harper and the Conservatives have staked out their territory supporting the mission and really have nothing to lose by the vote - if the vote is in favour of the proposed two-year extension then the opposition has had it's voice and has to live by the decision of Parliament, and if the vote is against, the mission ends next February and will have been defeated by the opposition - which might become a political weapon for the Conservatives in the future. It is a win-win situation for Stephen Harper, and as much as I would like to see the Conservatives (okay, conservatives generally) squirm, if a short-term political victory is the cost of setting a precedent for voting in Parliament before deploying troops, that's a price I'll happily pay.

For these reasons and more, the opposition parties are less likely to be so happy about a vote. I strongly suspect that Jack Layton and most or all of the NDP caucus will vote against continuing the mission, though I don't believe that this would be an issue demanding caucus solidarity. The leaderless Liberals are in a much more awkward position because it was their majority government that both deployed the troops and then accepted the expansion of the mission without parliamentary approval. Support for the mission across Canada, but also notably among stated Liberal voters, has plummetted, and when Michael Ignatieff publicly supported the mission on human rights' reasons last week, the room got real chilly. They thus are caught between back-tracking on previous Liberal policies, alienating a public that increasingly does not support the mission, and publicly supporting a Conservative vote, validating the Prime Minister's stand. The Liberals are therefore the party most at risk to make a vote on Afghanistan appear political in the eyes of the public.

Like the Liberals, the BQ might also be caught flat-footed by this move. Of all the provinces, unhappiness with the mission is greatest in Quebec, however, the party does not appear to have an official stand on the mission, and the growing popularity of the Conservatives in Quebec make any federal vote interesting.

Of course, since the vote will not be a confidence motion, all of the parties can simply open the floor to let their members vote as they will, essentially divesting the parties of direct responsibility for the outcome. It will in some measure defang the issue and its results ("after consultation with voters in my electorate I decided to ...") but if any parties enforce caucus solidarity on the vote, the others may be made to look non-committal on a critical issue.

It is a shrewd political move on the part of the Harper government for sure, but politics aside, I'm very happy it's going to happen.

I dare the Democrats to lose the mid-terms if this comes to pass

If this is right, the Republicans might be looking forward to an even harder spanking in the November mid-terms than the current poll numbers indicate. The Christian right, which has strongly backed the current administration, appears to be unhappy with the vigour with which the Republicans have assaulted the rights of gays and women and are considering withholding support in the fall. Of course, as the article points out, Christian religious leaders in the US commonly launch harangues against the Republicans prior to elections, however, with support withering all over the political spectrum, the Republicans are particularly vulnerable this time.

Also, mid-term elections might well be a safe venue for the Dobson Right to air its grievances with the Republicans. Whereas during a presidential campaign they might be forced to plug their nose and cast their votes against the anal-sex loving Democrats, mid-terms let them apply pressure and cast protest votes in a manner that stings but still doesn't put them in the drivers' seat.

In any case, I fully expect to hear more about the sinful same-sex marriage issue and gay rights generally in the next couple of months; the barbecue circuit south of the border should be hot with talk about how other people should live their lives. After all, it's a bit of a stretch for guys like Rick Santorum to look like the give a goddamned about the poor, but when votes are at stake, it's real easy to make him look like he doesn't like gays. Because, well, he doesn't.

It's what they call "playing to their strength".

Monday, May 15, 2006

NS election coverage

For those interested in the political goings-on in my fair province, check out the linked page. I've linked the site over on the right as well.

Happy Mother's Day

The Canadian military has some dedicated people! Cpl. Karri Allison, a military medic and single mom, is currently doing a six-month tour of duty in Kandahar, leaving her four-year old son in the care of her mother, who left her job to move to Greenwood to look after him during her posting. There is no indication in the article that at any point did she ask for and was denied compassionate leave to not go with her unit, so I have to assume that she did not; this is simply a case of someone who "signed on the dotted line" and went to serve without question. As she says
When I joined, I signed on the dotted line like everybody else. I am a mom, but I’m also a soldier. What makes me any more important than somebody’s father?
Indeed, but importance is relative. I would hazard to guess that there are relatively few single fathers in the military leaving behind children.

I am honoured and thankful, and really, really hope that such sacrifice is worth it. (Though as you may have read in these parts, I have my doubts.)

Thanks to Paul for pointing out this article.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The return of son of Just trust us we're from the government...

A Washington Post done yesterday and reported today says that 63% of Americans believe that it's okay for the NSA to collect information on their phone calls in their attempt to fight privacy terrorism. In the same survey, 51% approved of the way Bush was handling privacy matters.

Naturally, Right Blogostan is hailing this as proof that the peeps are behind the prez on this issue - Michelle Malkin veritably gushes:

Message to the MSM from Americans with their heads screwed on straight: We're not scared.
I presume she means not scared of the NSA, because it sures seems like they're still scared shitless of al Qaeda.

"We're not scared to surrender even more personal liberties." What do we need these rights and freedoms for when we have this shiny flag to wave?

"We're not scared to continue unquestioning on this war against, uh, um, er, who, exactly?"

"We're not scared to put ever more trust into the capable hands of The Decider."

She then goes on to quote Captain Ed, who phrases the issue interestingly, saying that this is merely a "sacrifice" being asked of the US people in this war:
When we finally acknowledged that Islamist terrorists had declared war on us, George Bush warned us that we would have to make sacrifices in order to beat our enemy. So far, we have not been asked for much in the way of sacrifice.

Why do I think this is interesting? Because it is curious that so little has been asked of the US citizenry since this "global war" was launched five years ago. It is usual in times of conflict for the government to ask for sacrifice on its part to achieve the better end - rationing, increased taxes, Victory gardens, mandatory conscription. What has been asked in this one? We were told at the outset to go out and spend money and have vacations or the "terrorists have won". Bushco then gave enormous tax breaks to the richest in the country, all in an effort to support the "war effort". In fact, the only visible effort so far in this "war" is the increased presence of military recruiters in schools that service poor communities, except at election time when the war is trotted out by Bush the mountebank as a surrogate for policy.

Don't you think that if this was a "real" war there would actually be some visible effort to fight it outside of the battlefield? Would I sound like a complete whacko if I suggested that maybe, just maybe, the Bush administration is not really seriously at war? At least not at war unless legally or electorally convenient?

Problem with the Democratic Party #6127

Not only do we have values, we have all values!

What is going on in the Democratic Party? Why does the Left tolerate these idiots?

It's critical that there be a left-wing voice in the US two-party state and in theory they are it. However, their actions over the past couple of decades have shown in stark detail that they are not a friend of the Left. Oh they're there at the door with hand out spouting about representative government, but when they get a sniff of power they dance to the tune that the big-time corporate donors play. I mean, seriously, if the Democrats really represented your interests, would we be seeing Howard Dean trying to kiss Pat Buchanon's ass saying that they Dem's are against same-sex marriage, but then turning around and telling the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force that they are for it? It's like the Democratic Party's first instinct is to bend in the same way George Bush's is to lie.

If this blog does have any American readers, please hear my plea: stop voting for the Democratic Party. They have long ago forgotten about you and your petty little egalitarian demands and are just another cluster (cabal? coven?) of Republicans. By trying so hard to woo soft-Republican voters over they have simply assumed that the Left has no alternative but to vote for them because otherwise the Republicans will win the election. Well, guess what - the Democrats are going to lose the next election and the one after that and the one after that. By not actually believing in anything, or rather by believing in whatever you tell them to believe, they have become a well-oiled election losing machine. Noone should vote for an unknown and they have become just that. And if they did win it would be just with another Clinton-type soft neo-con that feels your pain anyway, so why bother?

But what are you going to do if the Republicans win again? Well, it's tough, but let's start with the obvious - the Republicans are going to win again. No question. Which of the list of leadership contenders that the Democrats are putting forward is going to win you an election? Any of those likely to crack the Republican base? Nope. Any of them going to rally the campuses? Come on. Is it possible that they could win an election without turning into a Republican? Likely not.

So what is a lefty to do?

Back independents, start your own parties, get your asses out and vote; but not for the two biggies. If this fall 80% of the eligible voters came out and 25% voted for a third-party or for independents, you will see some motion from the big creaky two. Nothing real yet, but motion. Then, when, in 2008 they again see 80% of the vote but 30% going to third-party options, they will know that the writing is on the wall.

There are two ways to create a real Left voice in the US - change the Democratic Party or make your own. By voting for third-party options you make either one of those possible. You might well start something that becomes a national party unto itself, who knows? But if not, then at the very least you will have told the Democrats in no uncertain terms that they cannot simply assume your vote. When they stop taking you for granted, they will start listening, and when they start listening they might just start acting. But they haven't heard from you yet.

To now the biggest indicator that there is a problem in American politics is the low and decreasing voter turnout. However, that can be explained by a hundred different things, not all of which can be true. There is no doubt in my mind, and Michael Moore points it out in his work, that a large number of you non-voters simply feel that neither of those two parties speak for you. That is all well and good, it is arguably impossible to represent all interests in two parties, but you are not telling anyone this by not voting. Get out there and vote for someone else for a change. Don't let the Dems scare you out of voting for Ralph Nader or Green or whoever, because they are not going to win anyway.