Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Superman Returns

A little film is opening today, you know a low budget art flick opening in a couple of rep cinemas...


I'll probably wait until next week and catch Superman Returns in 3D Imax - If you're gonna pay theatre prices, might as well go for the 'knock your brain out of the back of your skull version'...

When Superman started he was a progressive, even a revolutionary. An illegal immigrant character produced by two depression era Jewish kids one American, one Canadian. Superman did stuff like break into the governor's mansion to stop executions, threaten to toss arms merchants off of buildings, smack wifebeaters through walls, kill torturers and kidnap generals of opposing armies and order them to fight out their countries differences personally. He fought slum-lords and corrupt industrialists. He even took on the KKK in the Superman radio show, available here.

Of course he swiftly became the ultimate servant of the status quo, but he started differently.

Off to the belly of the beast

I'll be in Whistler for a week at my girlfriend's sisters wedding. I'll be bringing the laptop but probably be too busy to blog.

Whistler's a town that brings out my inner Marxist, so I'm sure I'll have some class war rantings to vent when I return. Not about my lady's family of course, a lovely bunch of folks - who I'll soon be meeting on a sixteen hour van ride...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Drug Companies are still Evil...

William L. Aldis was the World Health Organization's representative to Thailand. He wrote an article for the Bangkok Post warning Thais not to negotiate away the right to buy life-saving affordable generic drugs in trade talks with the US. The Pharmaceutical industry was very upset about this and ordered the Bush administration to do something about it.

Doctor Aldis was recalled in March by the head of WHO, after a complaint from Washington.

Salon's Andrew Leonard suggests the combined Gates/Buffet fund could allow WHO to have greater independence from government interference. One can only hope.

Callin' out with Lyrics Born


Here's the best breakup tune I've heard in a while, and this is one of the smartest progressive call to arms ever, in the form of a kick-ass hip-hop track.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rush Limbaugh Busted at Palm Beach Airport for smuggling Viagra

And it's not even my birthday.

Got to remember to tape Jon Stewart tonight, or maybe it'll be tomorrow night's episode that covers it - either way he'll probably be giddier than the day Vice President Cheney shot that guy in the face.

Alberta Leadership Race - Oberg pins his hopes on Healthcare

Lyle Oberg has officially joined the race for Tory leader, and by extension Premier of Alberta. He's polling at second place behind heir apparent Dinning now that the Manning factor is gone. Hancock is a respectable third and Norris, Stelmach and reactionary bigot Ted Morton poll far behind seemingly content to just pick up some face time and delegate leverage.

Normally Oberg might be in a position to consolidate some of the trailing candidates support come convention, but there doesn't really seem to be any big anybody but Dinning wave to catch and Oberg alienated a lot of his colleagues with his 'I know where the skeletons are buried' line. Klein's supporters couldn't save King Ralph, but now that the dust has settled from the palace coup they may want to vent some anger on the man they see as having started the rush to Klein's public regicide.

So Oberg has cannily - or desperately- decided to turn the anti-Third Way wave to his advantage and make Healthcare his hill to fight and die on. If he does die on that hill it will be because he's trying to capitalize on the protecting healthcare zeitgeist - while completely missing it's essence. Despite an overwhelming consensus among Albertans for protecting and expanding public healthcare, he's returned to Klein's most controversial proposal of allowing doctors to practice in both the public and private healthcare system.

He promises a rule making doctors spend at least 75% of their time working in the public system but can't explain how this plan wouldn't violate the Canada Health Act or how expanding the Private sector wouldn't allow more doctors to abandon the public system altogether. And of course, even American private insurance giant Aon Consulting, hired by the Alberta government to study privatization, couldn't claim with a straight face that more private delivery would actually reduce costs. In fact, former President Bill Clinton described the American Healthcare system as insane, and urged Canadians to avoid moving towards a system with twice the administration costs of our current public system.

Oberg does make the sensible proposal of ending health premiums, but in a slow process of reducing it bit by bit over five years. He should have the courage of his convictions, and bulging government coffers, to promise to remove this pointless tax on ordinary Albertans immediately.

The race is still Dinning's to lose.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Futurama Returns! New episodes in 2008!

Bush's departure and now this, 2008 is going to be an improvement over... well the last six years or so.

Heartland Republicans defect to the Democrats

Up until a few weeks ago Mark Parkinson was Kansas' Republican party chairman. Now he's running for Deputy Governor, as a democrat.
Sitting in his headquarters, the new Democrat is sticking to his guns. Republicans in Kansas, he says, have let down their own people. 'They were fixated on ideological issues that really don't matter to people's everyday lives. What matters is improving schools and creating jobs,' he said. 'I got tired of the theological debate over whether Charles Darwin was right.'
His defection has emboldened other moderates, known as RINOS (Republicans In Name Only) by doctrinaire Republicans across the heartland, the ideological home for the culture war issues pushed by Karl Rove as the GOP winning strategy. By ignoring such debates as abortion and evolution altogether and concentrating on bread and butter economic and quality of life issues, Democrats are beginning to stain a sea of red with spreading patches of blue.

The opportunities are all there, but as Jon Stewart asked Howard Dean last month "So, how will the Democratic Party blow this?"

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Net Neutrality

This subject got you scratching your head? Here's a transcript of an excellent debate of the issues by two intelligent, articulate proponants of both sides. PBS is the about the only thing redeeming American TV Journalism at this point.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Moment of Bliss

Feeling grouchy that there's one more day of work before the weekend? Check out Glosoli by Sigur Ros. Absurdly, ridiculously beautiful song and video here.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Techno-Millenarianism

Religion News explores the shadowy world of those using technology to try to bring about the end of the world. No, not Lex Luthor, just the deeply religious.

And just for a giggle here's Gershon Solomon, spokesman for Jerusalem's Temple Institute and the severely irony impaired.
When the temple is built, he said, "Islam is over."

"I'm grateful for all the wonderful Christian angels wanting to help us," Solomon added, acknowledging the political support from "Christians who are now Israel's best lobbyists in the United States."

However, when asked to comment on the fate of non-Christians upon the Second Coming of Jesus, he said, "That's a very embarrassing question. What can I tell you? That's a very terrible Christian idea.

"What kind of religion is it that expects another religion will be destroyed?"

A Soldier's Obligation to Disobey an Illegal Order

It is a soldier's duty to refuse illegal orders. For the first time an American military officer has refused to deploy to Iraq on the grounds that it is an illegal war.

The right wing blogosphere has gone ballistic of course with posts drooling with hatred shading over into racism. Without, of course, actually addressing the substance of his argument about a soldier's duty to refuse an illegal order.

Lt Watada was even offered a non-combat role by the military if he agreed to go to Iraq and turned it down so accusations of cowardice don't work because he could have avoided both military prison and combat and chose prison. He's also said he would serve in Afghanistan but not Iraq.
"Soldiers who come back from Iraq say they get the impression many people don'’t know a war is going on; they say even friends and family seem more involved in popular culture and "American Idol." People are not interested in the hundreds of Iraqis and the dozens of Americans dying each week."
It's fascinating to watch the progression here - can any historians confirm for me how much the same paradigm as Vietnam is being followed, but at a much accelerated pace? This despite a vastly more compliant mainstream media and a vastly less engaged public then was the case thirty years ago.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Beginning of a wave?

Australia has begun the early tentative stages of a renewed government oversight into the oil industry. Just smoke and mirrors or potentially part of a new trend of elected representatives worldwide remembering their duty to protect their citizens?

Pentagon Still Lists Homosexuality As a Disorder

Thirty years after the medical community abandoned the idea, Pentagon documents still refer to homosexuality as a 'mental disorder'.

Well hey, they might have a point. Clearly the US military needs more healthy, responsible, clean-minded drug addicts, torturers, murderers and the severely autistic.

But no fags. That would just be sick.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

South Dakota's Abortion ban to face state wide vote

Supporters garnered more than twice the signatures necessary to force a vote on South Dakota's draconian anti-abortion law. The vote will take place on November 7 as part of the nation wide mid-term elections for Congress, Senate and state governors. The law was to take effect on July 1, it would have been held in abeyance due to inevitable court challenges, and now for the referendum.

Personally I think the 'no' side should just run the video of Republican State Senator Bill Napoli's thoughts on what women would still be able to get an abortion under the law which has no exception for rape or incest, on every TV channel a hundred times a day:

BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

This could be something that energizes moderate voters all over America in advance of the November mid-terms. The American consensus is for restrictions on late term abortions but less so for earlier in the pregnancy and very strongly for exceptions for rape and incest.

More bad news for the GOP?

Monday, June 19, 2006

What Canada needs?

When someone proposes an idea that flies in the face of public opinion, is the opposite of what every politician tells you and just seems intuitively bizarre, it's probably worth at least thinking about.

Hence Doug Saunders' suggestion in The Globe and Mail on Saturday that what Canada really needs right now is a million poor, minimally educated African immigrants.

He offers it as a way to help the tight labour market - which needs more labourers than professionals which is what we currently select immigrants for and would offer more to Africa in cash sent home to the family then we currently provide in aid. It also would be far less expensive than our current system of tracking down and removing these kind of immigrants.

An interesting suggestion to say the least - if our globalized economy is going to remove all borders to capital and jobs, isn't the only way to make it fair to also remove all barriers to people?

Politics in Comic books

So I'm a comic book geek.

Every couple of years the big two comic book publishers - DC and Marvel - hold gigantic company wide cross-over events with all or most of their comics to spike sales and occasionally to make real changes to their universes. DC is the universe for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Justice League, Marvel the home to Spiderman, Captain America, The Hulk, The X Men and The Fantastic Four. DC recently finished their big event called The Infinite Crisis, understatement being a big characteristic of superhero comics, and Marvel just started theirs called Civil War.

Marvel's writers posit a disaster where a battle between a team of young superheros and a band of villains which results in the death of hundreds of children when the battle spills over into a schoolyard. The disaster impacts the Marvel Universe the way 9/11 affected ours and starts a movement and ultimately a law to force superheros to take off their masks and go public with their identities if they want to keep fighting villains. Some heroes like Iron Man and Ant-man support the government initiative, others like Captain America and Wolverine go underground and start fighting back at what they see as government interference. The parallels with The Patriot Act and the divided nature of America today are obvious.

The big shocker that makes it clear Civil War is playing for keeps with the changes it's making is this press conference scene:

"My name is Peter Parker and I've been Spiderman since I was fifteen years old."

I expected to enjoy Infinite Crisis a lot more than I did and I didn't expect to enjoy Civil War as much as I am.

Ultimately I come down to Infinite Crisis couldn't be really considered a failure, because frankly it wasn't ambitious enough to even risk failing. It was a self-referential super hero comic about super hero comics. Perfectly fine for the empty confection it was, but as cruel and dismal as I frequently found DC's last big crossover project, Identity Crisis which featured rape and murder in the superhero universe, it was a thousand times more compelling.

Civil War on the other hand, has been all about ambition. There are so many ideas, interesting ideas, bumping into each other in this book they're striking sparks. And instead of being about nothing more than the world of super powered people in tights it has clear and unambiguous links with the world we live in and commentary thereof.

Before it came out the authors argued they would be able to portray both sides as reasonable and good intentioned and not blatantly wrong, and despite my doubts they've so far pulled it off. After all in our world there are laws against vigilantes in masks - they're used against the KKK. I'm on Captain America's side because Iron Man's way requires trusting the government to do the right thing forever. The conservative argument in other words.

Captain America, who I've always viewed as an FDR style robust interventionist progressive liberal - and I fully accept that others read his ideology differently - is listening to his inner anarchist while establishment technocrat Rockerfeller style Republican Iron Man - again my interpretation - is throttling his inner Libertarian.

Tough questions, no easy answers - the essential challenge to any society of drawing a line between security and liberty - with muscle bound characters in tights beating each other up. What more could you want?

Here's how to find a comic shop near you if you're interested.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Stills - Without Feathers

Salon has the smoking first track off the Montreal band The Stills new disc, Without Feathers, a nice little chunk of power pop called In the Begining.

The rest of the album is very tasty too, an energized mixture of influences - I heard Wilco and Modest Mouse - and a lot of bliss pop in the latter day ELO mold. I don't normally review music here, but I dug this album.

Hamas close to accepting Prisoner's document.

In what could be the biggest step taken by any side recently in the long middle east quagmire, Hamas and Fatah have apparently almost concluded negotiations over implementing the Prisoner's Plan.

Beneath all the gunfire and bickering
a consensus appears to be solidifying among Palestinians - by negotiating an acceptance of the Prisoners document Hamas seeks to avoid the explosive loss of face that would come from getting smashed by an Abbas forced referendum - current polls suggest almost 90% of Palestinians would vote for the Prisoner's Document - and the bleeding to death of their last vestiges of legitimacy by refusing to allow a vote at all when they would clearly lose.

How will Israel react? On the face of it the Olmert Kadima government will be getting what they said they wanted: A recognition of Israel's right to exist by Hamas. Will they embrace this opportunity? Historically, Israel has savagely repressed secular and moderate voices in the Occupied Territories, and supported Islamists groups to counter-balance them. Hamas is very much a child of Israeli policy.

This feels like it could be one of those moments where anything is possible. An opportunity that I'd like to think won't be wasted.

Yeah.

Well you can dream, right?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Amir Taheri again

I know, I know, he's like a scab I feel compelled to pick.

The Nation has an excellent round-up of Taheri's long history of fraud, intellectual dishonesty and willingness to slander and lie in a 'good cause'.

It also goes into Benador Associates long history of enabling his false-hoods with this bon mot from Eleana Benador herself:
Taheri was unreachable by phone. But Benador, who said her client was "traveling in the Middle East," was impatient with dissections of his work. Terming accuracy with regard to Iran "a luxury," she said, "My major concern is the large picture. Is Taheri writing one or two details that are not accurate? This is a guy who is putting his life at stake." She noted that "the Iranian government has killed its opponents." Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "says he wants to destroy Israel. He says the Holocaust never happened.... As much as being accurate is important, in the end it's important to side with what's right. What's wrong is siding with the terrorists."
Hmmm. Almost time for Iranian soldiers to be tossing babies out of incubators, isn't it?

Perfect Storm coming for Global Economy?

Rising oil prices, rising interest rates, delberately incomprehensible financial instruments and a discredited World Bank and IMF facing potential bankruptcy. The gigantic US deficit which could easily lead to a world wide recession. They could all be about to go off at once like unexploded bombs.

Ready or not, we could be due for something that makes the tech bubble pop look like a hiccup.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Drug companies are evil: Part 6078956

Hey, a cheap colon cancer drug in really cheap quantities that anyone can afford, can cure a common form of degenerative blindness. Great news right?

Not to the drug company that produces it. They want to stop the affordable saving of thousands from blindness by banning the use of the colon cancer drug for blindness, split off the element that cures blindness and charge a hundred times more for it.

Ever wanted to lynch an entire corporate board of directors - you know, in the last ten minutes I mean.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tommy Douglas mini - Playing devil's advocate

Lot's of venom and charges of spinelessness thrown CBC's way but playing devil's advocate for just a moment, how would we feel as Dippers if a docudrama about Jimmie Gardiner had Tommy Douglas say some very unpleasant, discrediting things that he never said, just in order to provide the drama of giving the main character a more villainous opponent?

I get that it never pretended to be a 100% accurate historical record, but we are specifically talking about having a real person who lived only a few years ago and who's family are still alive, say things he didn't say, drink when he didn't drink, condemn trade unionists in a speech when he wasn't even in office, appear to be anti-immigrant when he wasn't...

I'd be ticked if he was my grandfather.

I don't want to lose this otherwise excellent docudrama - I submit some minor editing to remove these apparently confirmed to be false and arguably slanderous elements is an alternative that would be appropriate. I simply don't believe that the life of someone like Tommy Douglas needs to be enhanced with falsehoods.

Colbert on Letterman - stream of conciousness

Colbert looks in the camera, looks at his watch and says... 'aaaaaand I'm on Letterman now.'

Blink. Flip channels and lo, it is true.

Talks about his kids puking and the respectfull silence he got at the White House Correspondants dinner. Some White House aides came up to him before the routine 'You're going to be nice, right?'

Smile. 'I think so.'

God Dave looks old and bored as he chuckles stiffly, desperate to appear avuncular at the very least. It's been a while since I've checked on him. His act palled years ago, and now he clearly doesn't much care anymore. Miami Beach, Dave. A nice sunny patch of beach with hot and cold running cigars.

Think about it.

They run a clip from Strangers with Candy which I've been kind of peversely looking forward to. Apparently Stephen's playing the middle aged ex-crack whore's new high school-teacher. It looks funny.

A Beauty Queen just led a goat on a leash onstage to hilarity from all. Time to switch to Angel on Space Channel. The excellent fifth and final season started 15 minutes ago. Good stuff.

Also, speaking purely hypothetically, if one was somehow watching Dr Who's Season Two within hours of the Brits catching it on BBC - I'd like to point out I bought the DVD of the first Season of Dr Who's rebirth and I plan to buy Season Two as well, I'm just impatient - then one might be blown away by the two-parter that wrapped up on Saturday. Dr Who VS Satan basically. With Battlestar Galactica on vacation, Dr Who is the best SF on TV right now.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I'm back! Plus: Rolling Stone VS Salon - it never ends!

I'm back, I'm tanned, I'm rested and ready to bestow my pearls once again.

Kiss, kiss.

Steven Freeman, the self described primary source for Robert Kennedy's original story in Rolling Stone about the 2004 election responds to Salon's rebuttal of that story and Kennedy's rebuttal of their rebuttal.

He writes like a fussy accountant, outraged by a more blatantly stupid piece of sloppy balance book fraud then usual. He knows a statistical impossibility when he sees one, and he describes one here. And shills his book.

Here's a particularly blunt passage:
The likelihood of the three most significant anomalies -- the dramatic differences between the official count and the exit-poll projections posted on Election Night in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, the three critical swing states -- occurring together and all favoring the incumbent, Bush, is about one in 660,000.
Chew on that kiddies, I'm off to my warm bed and my warm girlfriend. Sleep tight.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Try to survive without me

I'll be gone for a while, off to my austere unabomber style shack in the woods for a week of obsessively tallying my enemies list - actually it's quite a nice cabin by a lake, I'm bringing my girlfriend and I'll be doing some intensive, difficult lying on the sundeck and drinking. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

I'll be bringing my lap-top, but short of currently unlikely quick visits to town and perhaps a stop at a Wi-Fi enabled coffee shop I'll be dropping off the world for about a week. Don't let the bastards get away with anything while I'm gone.

Bring me the head of Stephen Harper

Well now I'm all conflicted. Kidding. Really.

Starting to look like, by the time they actually arrested these 17 guys they had enough evidence to put them all away for decades. And all without waterboarding them, holding them incommunicado for years, turning them over to countries that will pull out their fingernails for us, trashing the rule of law or the constitution, or bombing unrelated countries.

How the hell did that happen? Isn't treating this kind of thing as a law enforcement issue supposed to be all naive and old fashioned thinking? Shouldn't we at least be pistol whipping them like Jack Bauer would?

The Missionary Position

Laila Lalami who blogs as Moorish Girl offers some fascinating insight some of the recent books by Muslim women in the West critiquing Muslim culture. She writes a scholarly balanced response for a review in Nation and it's just a really insightful and thought-provoking article. Check it out.

What....what the Hell...?

Tony Blair is apparently planning the highly unusual honor of a ceremonial State Funeral for Margaret Thatcher. She's not actually sick or anything, he just thought he'd get a jump on planning.

Why the hell is a Labour Prime Minister planning a highly unusual honor for a highly divisive, far right Conservative Prime Minister who divided Britain, presided over a huge widening of the gap between the rich and poor, crushed unions (it is still called the Labour Party, right?) and attacked minorities?

I knew that Blair was considered to be on the right wing of the Labour Party - New Labour being a lot like Clinton's New Democrats - as opposed to our New Democrats... so far, but I repeat:

What the Hell?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Heh.

And Maple Leaf Politics wins the prize for most disturbing mental image of Jerry Falwell...

If you know that you are being pandered to and accept it and continue to vote for them, then I am sorry you are just a moron. Let's face it, social conservatives are never going to vote for a Liberal, a Dipper, or a Democrat. But apparently they will continue to vote for a Conservative/Republican candidate if they simply say "I don't support Gay Marriage." Do anything about? That is something completely different.

Rolling Stone VS Salon, Round 2

Robert Kennedy responds to Farhad Manjoo's rebutal of Kennedy's 'Bush stole Ohio' artice in this week's Rolling Stone.

Attacking a minority for purely political gain - too little, too late?

If George W. Bush thought there were more votes in supporting gays rather than attacking them he would have volunteered to be Elton John's best man.

His friends describe a President who really doesn't give a shit about gay marriage but sees a chance to shore up his base with a little hate-baiting.

But will they fall for it this time? They've noticed he only throws them a bone when he's in trouble. They've noticed the so called economic recovery seems to be jobless, and they're starting to worry about Iraq as in a lot of cases it's their kids fighting it.

The 72% of troops on the ground calling for a withdrawal translates to a significant chunk of Americans who will listen to a soldier say 'let's get out of here' when they won't hear it from anybody else.

The Latino vote was an important part of the GOP's strategy over the next few years and Bush had carefully nurtured it. The Nativist anti-immigrant frenzy oozing out of the GOPs paleo-conservative wing has probably turned them off for a generation.

Blacks were beginning to be a group the Republicans could start to peel off the Democrats with wedge so-con issues aimed at church-goers. After Katrina, the odds of African Americans voting Republican in any kind of statistically measurable way has dropped precipitously.

Moderates and soccer moms are more likely to be turned off by attacks on minorities and Republicans and Democrats are now polling about the same on the subject of security, historically one of the GOPs safe pet issues.

A lot of conservatives like Bush and his policies but can see an incompetent leader when his fecklessness is rubbed in their faces for six years. They won't vote Democrat, but I'll bet you the big story in November and again in 2008 will be the conservative voters who stayed home on election day.

note: Apologies for the Blogger system funkiness that got this posted multiple times - they were a hassle to clean out too.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Right wing dictator good, Islamic dictator bad.

Consistancy is the hobgoblin of small minds.

Let's hear it for the Law Enforcement paradigm!

The Bush White House made the words 'Law Enforcement Paradigm' a disdainful slur. 'The War Paradigm's the thing boys', they sneered. 'We have bombers for this kind of thing.'

Robert McClelland has pointed out that the obvious early lesson of the arrest of the seventeen terrorists is that the left had it right about how terrorism should be handled, that is with old fashioned police work. Oh, and that the left is right and the right is wrong so it's now time for the right whingers to shut the fuck up and let the sane adults of the world do this the right way.

No arguments here.

The silencer

One of the classic smears of the Right these days is that any criticism of Israel or Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic. The intent of course is to preemptively shut down any criticism of the actions of an ostensibly secular democratic state by equating any criticism of this state's actions or operating ideology with a bigoted attack on all Jews, JUST LIKE THE NAZI'S DID. So you just better shut up you leftist thug.

Far right American radio shouter Dennis Prager trots out the ugly old canard here. He helpfully explains how being opposed to a political ideology created in the nineteenth century is equivalent to being bigoted against a whole people.

Of course Zionism is actually just an ideological movement strongly supported by many Jews and Gentiles, and strongly opposed by many other Jews and Gentiles. Criticizing, even condemning Zionism is no more anti-Semitic than criticizing Maoism is anti-Chinese.

Prager tries to dismiss the not inconsiderable opposition within the Jewish world to some or all the tenants of Zionism to a tiny sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews and Jews who have 'abandoned Judaism'. So according to Prager any Jew who disagrees with this specific ideological movement within Judaism is either a religious fanatic, or conversely, has forfeited their Judaism altogether. Nice.

Naturally Prager plays the other standard little rhetorical games of the apologist here, falsely conflating being opposed to Zionism to automatically also wanting Israel destroyed altogether and denying that Palestinians even exist. He calls them 'indigenous Arabs, known later as Palestinians.' And this guy has the balls to call other people racists?

Equating being opposed to Palestinian suffering to being for Jewish suffering is a lie that has to be opposed as vigorously as real anti-Semitism should be rightly opposed.

Rolling Stone VS Salon

Robert Kennedy in Rolling Stone says that 'the Republicans stole Ohio' in the last election, 'No they didn't' responds Farhad Manjoo in Salon.

Read their arguents and decide for yourself.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Ebert review: An inconvenient Truth

Roger Ebert urgently wants you to see this movie. A hardened film reviewer, turned into a gushing admitted advocate for a documentary about Global Warming.
Am I acting as an advocate in this review? Yes, I am. I believe that to be "impartial" and "balanced" on global warming means one must take a position like Gore's. There is no other view that can be defended.
This movie might get an audience to rival Fahrenheit 9/11. The Oil Industry is facing the kind of perfect storm of public rage at Republicans, disgust with obscene executive compensation and linkage of US oil interests with the enormously unpopular Iraq war that has the potential to lead to government intervention of a trust-busting scale .

Another kick at the cat

Lyle Oberg spoke to the Meridian Booster in Lloydminster quoting a 'recent government study' to promote the 'Healthcare is unsustainable' narrative.

The recent government study that indicated that health-care spending will take up about 60 per cent of the provincial budget by 2025 that Klein and Oberg have quoted recently, was the one by Aon Consulting, an American private insurance corporation. They based their past spending history on the last decade of spending.

Factoring in the severe cutbacks of the early 90's creates a very different picture.

They were also using Alberta Finance's revenue predictions. You know, the same ones that under-estimated revenues by forty billion dollars in just the last decade. Despite all these factors, Aon's report still said flatly that moving towards private insurance wouldn't create savings.

The steep spending curve that both Premier Klein and Mr Oberg warn of in their alarmist fashion is non-existent when healthcare spending is measured as a percentage of GDP. The private insurance model they favor would cost more. In the US it means administrative costs more than double those in Canada - moving towards the Private model at all means increasing costs.

The most increasingly expensive elements of our system are the private components, while the public component's costs remain stable. It seems counter-intuitive to expand the private rather than public share of the system.

The myth of unsustainability doesn't stand up to even the most basic scrutiny.

Bush stumps for the bigot vote

No this isn't about the 'Southern Strategy' the dog whistle politics of race and resentment so prevelant in the GOPs activities south of the Mason-Dixon. Though I'm sure in the months leading up to the mid-terms there will be plenty of subtle nods and winks to the folks who's bed-sheets have mysterious eye-holes cut out of them.

No, Bush has decided the way to deal with his imploding, increasingly Nixonian poll numbers is to attack gays.

In a purely symbolic move, on Monday Bush will throw his support behind the Senate vote for a constitutional amendment forbidding gay marriage. Nobody expects it to pass, literally nobody, as there are actually some fairly effective safe-guards and high bars that have to be hit to amend the US constitution. To become law, the proposal would need two-thirds support in the Senate and House, and then be ratified by at least 38 state legislatures. Supporters are having trouble even getting 50 Senate votes and 38 states couldn't be rounded up to do anything en masse. It would be easier to herd cats. The system is actually fairly effectively designed to avoid allowing panicky hate-mongering and pandering mar the constitution.

This is purely a symbolic move that indicates that Bush has given up on Liberals and Moderates who helped elect him last time - maybe - and came close to electing him the first time. Now he just wants to fire up his base with a nod to the kind of intolerance and mean spirited hate baiting that they can sink their teeth into. The question is whether even this will be enough to hold the GOPs fracturing coalition together enough to keep control of the House and Senate.

It's now the Democrats race to lose, but they are really, really good at losing so...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Snap!

“When I came out and said that laundering money through your children's bank accounts to circumvent the donation limits of the election act is fraud, I should have said, laundering money through your children's bank accounts to circumvent the donation limits of the Elections Act seems like fraud, and it's up to the Elections Commissioner to determine if what took place is illegal or not,” - Pat Martin
Mr Volpe, you've been served.

Designed to fail

Another Salon link - they've been firing on all cylinders this week. The War Room posits that the White House's overture to Iran was designed to be so unyielding, absolute and arrogant that Iran would be sure to turn it down. The box next to diplomacy could be checked off while the bombers were warming up in the hangers.

"Sure we'll negotiate with you, but before we even meet you have to agree to give us everything we want first."

Commencement Address from Hell

Magnificent, depthlessly cynical Journalism School commencement address from a grizzled newsroom war-horse.

The kind of tired, bitter, blackly hilarious rant that just warms your heart.

Dear God

Every time I think the world can't get crazier a new height of insanity is reached.

This a real product, this is a real commercial.

A major corporation sent this product to market, approved this commercial. Saw nothing that set off any alarm bells at any point in development or marketing, still have the product available.

Would you buy the Bukake Blaster 6000, sorry, The Oozinator for your child?

The War Paradigm

Check out Sidney Blumenthal's athoritative and quietly terrifying description of The War Paradigm, the White House philosophy of unlimited power for the President during war time and a war on terror designed to never end. Remember as you read it that Blumenthal was White House Chief Counsel. This is a guy with high level sources.

One particularly chilling passage:
They fervently believe that the Constitution is fatally flawed and must be severely circumscribed. The Bush administration's "holy grail," another phrase officials use in private, is to remove suspects' rights to due process, speedy trial and exculpatory evidence. The war paradigm, which they contrast with a caricatured "law enforcement paradigm," is to be constantly strengthened to conduct a permanent war against terror, which can never be finally defeated. There is no exit strategy from emergency.
This isn't a cranky socialist blogger like, you know, me, this is a consummate Washington insider describing an administration just a hop, skip and a jump away from actual fascism. Mussolini said fascism should be more properly called 'corporatism' as it was actually a tightly knit alliance between the state and the corporations. Sound at all familiar?

At what point did the Americans cross the line from exasperating and unsettling to absolutely terrifying?

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