Monday, July 30, 2007

Canadian named Giuliani health care policy advisor

She's one of the Fraser Institutes's pod-people, which probably tells you all you need to know about Rudy's ultimate health care plan.

Her role will be to be the voice of 'wisdom' about the horrors of Canadian style single payer health care. This is all the Fraser Institute and their fellow travelers have anymore: They know they'll never snow Canadians with their nonsense, so the idea is to hold the line against single-payer in the US with bullshit propaganda that Canadians would hoot at if they tried to sell it up here.

Sally Pipes is president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, a conservative San Francisco-based think tank founded in 1979. Prior to becoming president in 1991, she was assistant director of the Fraser Institute in Vancouver, Canada.
...

Ms. Pipes writes, speaks, and gives invited testimony at the national and state levels on key health-care issues facing America. Topics have included the false promise of a single-payer system as exists in Canada, pharmaceutical pricing, solving the problem of the uninsured, and strategies for consumer-driven health care. She appears in Michael Moore’s movie "Sicko" and has participated in prominent debates and public forums, testified before five committees of the California and Oregon legislatures, appeared on popular television programs, participated in talk radio shows nationwide, and had 45 opeds published on health care issues in 2006.

Her book, "Miracle Cure: How to Solve America’s Health Care Crisis and Why Canada Isn’t the Answer" was released September 28, 2004.

Update: Sally did some extensive public sucking up to Rudy prior to the announcement that she was joining his team.

See The Fraser Institute's Fighting Retreat on Healthcare.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

You Made It

DJ Shadow

National Schadenfreude Consensus

In the face of a massive and aggressive campaign by Canada's media elite to cast him as a great Canadian being nipped at by non-entities over inconsequentialities, the Canadian people have responded with a hearty "Fuck Conrad Black."

Take away his order of Canada, throw him in a cell, spend the next decade tracking down his money, go for it. Rich, arrogant, far right businessman and media oligarch who stole worker's pension funds and ripped off investors is getting punished.

Good.

All his followers, trapped by past public obsequiousness, and by their own unacknowledged class war self identification feel compelled to continue their increasingly queasy support for the right wing media's sugar daddy.

And the guardians of official journalism wonder why they keep losing eyeballs to citizen journalists.

Hat tip to Buckdog.

Sunday Linkblast - July 29

How to commit political suicide

...in just a few easy steps. Japan's ruling LDP shows us how.

First have your Minister responsible for reform be forced to resign in a political funds scandal.

Then have your Health Minister describe women as birthing machines, then have your Agriculture Minister commit actual suicide over another circling funding scandal.

Immediately after replacing the dead guy, his replacement will then also be caught up in another funding scandal.

Have your Defense Minister justify the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Then lose fifty million pensioner files resulting in seniors all over Japan losing the full benefits they're entitled to.

That ought to do it.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mea Culpa from Andrew Sullivan

Some people will never forgive him for being a big Bush and Iraq war cheerleader at the start - I think he's made up for it with his caustic attacks on the Bushies since then. Plus, things won't really change in the US until the conservatives abandon the Bushies - Sullivan has been an outrider for the soul-searching American conservatives will need to do.
One of my own errors before the war was a function of being steeped in Washington policy debates - and neo-conservative arguments - for years. I had been so conditioned to suspect Iraq after 9/11 that my skepticism deserted me. I mentioned Saddam on September 12. The result was that the prelude to the Iraq war was far too easily framed by the information and biases of the Beltway elite, the Pentagon establishment, and the neocon brain-trust. Worse, we were unspeakably condescending to those on the outside who were right. We trusted far too much, and people much further away from the levers of power saw more clearly than we did.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The other candidates

PORTLAND, Ore. — ONE is a Democrat, the other a Republican. They've never met but share much in common: Both wear dark suits and sneakers, for one.
Neither has a lot of money. Both are running for president.Mike Gravel and Ron Paul. Mike and Ron. Their names, sharing space at the bottom of the polls, seem increasingly linked. Each came out swinging in the debates and scored points for candor and quirkiness and, in Gravel's case, crankiness.The oldest of the declared candidates, Gravel, 77, and Paul, 71, have become the campaign's upstarts. They've helped draw an audience that might otherwise not have tuned in to the earliest-starting primary season in U.S. history.After the first debate, Gravel generated more Internet traffic than any other Democratic contender except Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. Through much of June and early July, "Ron Paul" was among the top three most frequently searched terms on the Web. Paul's YouTube videos were viewed 2.3 million times.So who are these guys? Can two old men in rubber shoes win their parties' nomination to be leader of the free
world?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Broadcast Power

It broke Tesla's heart and the same financial stumbling block that finished his ambitious plans to treat electricity like a radio signal still remains: How do you charge people for power they pull out of the air?

It's an idea that's more than a hundred years old and technologically it least, it's time may have finally come. It would transform everything, changing our society in ways we can't even imagine yet.

Separate the antennas by a few meters and, with some fine-tuning, you can safely and efficiently transfer electricity from one to the other—without wires. Put this system inside your home, and you would have a wireless network for electrical power. You could recharge your laptop or turn on a light without plugging anything in.

The crucial bit would be the fine-tuning: The two antennas would have to be tweaked so that one would create a pulsating magnetic field with a specific frequency and geometry, which the other would then transform into an electric current.

Of course then we'd all be living under the high tension power lines. In Waldo Robert Heinlein, who at the time he wrote it saw broadcast power as an inevitability, suggested long term health effects would result from constant exposure to high power electromagnetic fields. Nowadays the idea is controversial but definitely on the publics radar.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Open letter to Fox TV

We've been watching your commercials for your fall line up. K-Ville looks particularly compelling. Great cast, great idea to base a cop show in the ruins of post Katrina New Orleans. It looks like the kind of show that would really grab us, become weekly must see TV and water cooler material the next day.

Just based on concept alone, it could easily become one of our favorite shows of the season on any network.

So we will not be watching it.

We're tired of you Fox. We're tired of you dicking us around with the spineless accountant's souls that make you pussy out on new shows after less than a half dozen episodes. Remember Drive? Emmy nominated Drive? We do. Remember Firefly? We'll never forgive you for that one. Remember the literally dozens of other examples of great shows that could have developed healthy audiences with a network that had a little faith, foresight and courage?

When you gutless empty hearted pigs die, your hell will be Nathan Fillion's heaven where he gets to repeatedly jump up and down on your balls with hobnail boots for all of eternity. Right now he could be prepping for the second season of a show where he gets to drive fast cars, punch out bad guys and navigate a suspenseful conspiracy drama. Instead he's going to be the latest househusband trapped on Wisteria Lane, and it's your fault.

You wonder why so many of your new dramas get such small opening audiences? Because nobody. trusts. you. anymore. Why commit to something that you know will be strangled in it's infancy?

Fuck you Fox. We will no longer even give you a chance any more, you belong on Don't Date Him Girl.com.

To the producers of K-Ville and in fact any producers with the slightest hope of creating compelling quality TV that viewers will commit to - pick a different network. Being on Fox is now a net negative in the eyes of your hoped for audience.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Crooked Little Vein

Read it. Loved it. Was left wanting more.

Prolific Graphic novel writer Warren Ellis's first prose novel is a marvelous piece of grimy reportage from the most extreme frontiers a weird nation can offer. It's the kind of clear-eyed look at sensation crazed America that probably only a foreigner could write. There's some Burroughs here, in a shotgun perversity reminiscent of Naked Lunch, but with Hunter S. Thompson's fiercely ethical observational judgment to give it a thematic skeleton.

It's also, despite being about the essential moral and aesthetic terror that is the only sane response to some of the extremes of human obsession, a bizarrely affectionate take for the weird yet quintessentially American spirit underneath all the Godzilla fetishism, saline infusion parties and bloody sputum. Ellis trades here in horror and disgust shading over into wearily cynical mockery, yet he has no patience for masturbatory nostalgia for a mythical 'simpler time'.

Burned out detective and self described 'shit magnet' Mike McGill is given an assignment by the reptilian, heroin addicted White House Chief of Staff to quest across America to find the secret other constitution of the United States, a quasi mythical 'reset button' for a nation grown dangerously strange, plunging him into a horrifying and bizarre journey into the surreal heart of the blackest most perverse American Dream ever put to paper.

If the book has a message, and I think it does, it's this is who we are now so we should look at subculture at it's most extreme with honest recognition and self awareness. The Splatterpunk horror pioneers Skipp and Spector jointly presented their law that if you can find it in a mall, it's not underground anymore.

Ellis explicitly makes the same argument, just substituting the internet for the mall. The tagline for Planetary, his graphic series tribute to our pulp dreams seems apropos here too: "It's a strange world, let's keep it that way."

Ellis covers a lot of the same territory he did in his brilliant gonzo cyberpunk graphic novel saga Transmetropolitan but benefits from leaving behind the trappings of the far future and from an undeniably greater maturity of insight. This book is the culmination of literally years of extensive freak monitoring chronicled in his graphic works and vast web presence.

This isn't some alien science fiction underground, this is the moral, sexual and cultural world we live in - very much in the tradition of the science fiction of the now explored by William Gibson in his increasingly near near future SF - culminating with his latest novels Pattern Recognition and Spook Country set in science fiction today.

Did I mention Crooked Little Vein is also hilarious, suspenseful, compulsively readable and, yes, freakishly charming? It is. It's also a tightly plotted and slyly quip heavy 276 pages that leaves you wishing it was longer.

It is grotesquely unfair and yet almost unavoidable to compare Crooked Little Vein to another literary love note to the American Road Novel by a British comic book writer: American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Next to Gaiman's bloated and rather twee magical realist take on an American underworld of ancient and modern gods battling for supremacy, Crooked Little Vein is a leanly written, ferociously hungry dark mirror held up to our own strange world.

And far more aware and unflinchingly honest about the dangerously crazy yet hypnotic glint in America's mad eyes.

Sunday Linkblast - July 22

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Happy Potter Day

Picked up the last book. I'm letting my girlfriend read it first, because I want to retain the use of my fingers and she'd probably break them yanking it away from me. The funny part is she resisted the series for years and only started reading my copies two weeks ago.

She burned through all six in a week. Now she's been curled up in the chair by the window since I came in with the seventh book about half a hour ago - she's up to page 41 and occasionally complaining that she can't read fast enough.

We went to a big street fair a downtown bookstore had last night - Steven's avenue became 'Daigon Alley' for the night - which was appropriate, as the avenue behind it is a dark street of sleazy pawn shops, always empty but suspiciously successful video game arcades, grimy cafes and furtive drug dealers. A perfect Knock Turn Alley. Alas, the block party was more crowded and crazy than the Stampede grounds at their worst so we fled fairly quickly and I bought the book this morning elsewhere.

The girlfriend can read The Deathly Hallows - I'm about to dive into Warren Ellis's new book Crooked Little Vein.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Jeffery Simpson misses the point

I know, I know, big surprise.

Few tears, however, are being shed for Calgary elsewhere in Alberta. (Edmonton never sheds them.) Calgarians won't appreciate the comparison, but, in Alberta, their city is now regarded provincially as Toronto is nationally: fat, self-absorbed and whining, a kind of Hogtown West.

They see all those construction cranes, expensive condominiums, millionaires and corporate towers (the construction of EnCana's vast new tower will close a major downtown street for a year) and wonder what the moaning's about. In fact, Calgary's problems have more in common with Toronto and other large cities than with rural Alberta - notably how to finance and build infrastructure and accommodate ethnic diversity.

Calgary's candidate for the Conservative Party leadership, Jim Dinning, lost because, well, he was perceived as the Calgary establishment candidate. Mr. Stelmach won because he was the most acceptable candidate to those in rural and northern Alberta and Edmonton, where Conservatives just didn't want another premier from Calgary after a decade of Mr. Klein.

Calgary's nose remains out of joint. A lot of other Albertans reply: Tough.

That much is true - the part Simpson is missing is that a lot of those Albertans lacking sympathy for the complaints of the Calgary elites are Calgarians.

The growing divides in Alberta, urban and rural, North and South, Edmonton and Alberta are, for the most part, misapplied models - often deliberately so. The real distinction, much as the elites would go red in the face denying it, if they even allowed the argument to be made in any kind of major forum, is a good old fashioned class war distinction between haves and have-nots.

Between all those shiny new towers in Calgary that Simpson waxes rhapsodic about are the growing ranks of the urban poor being priced out of the city by rapacious landlords and ever increasing costs of living as employers whine about a lack of employees willing to be exploited and underpaid. You can't afford basic food and shelter in Calgary on what some employers still think they can get away with paying. Asking for enough for basic survival is attacked as being arrogant and unreasonable. Charging what the market will bear was never meant to be something workers could do.

In the countryside, working for exploitation wages and frequently horrifically abused on the farms owned by good God fearing Tories, forbidden by law even from trying to unionize, are the rural poor. You can find them working in hellish meat processing plants or clinging to the margins of the small town service economy as their costs of living rise more slowly but just as inexorably as they do in the cities. Even so, big business fears they might get uppity and look to exploitative guest worker programs to cool the labour market.

As the rich wallow in the Alberta Advantage the poor - many new arrivals from provinces with real political alternatives - begin to examine their options. Hence the Alberta Tories languishing at 35% in Alberta - a drop manifestly not limited to the big cities as Simpson suggests.

Reducing the very real large scale transformations occurring here in Alberta to 'people resent fat-cat Calgary' is just a spectacular example of missing the point.

Oh right, the byline was Jeffery Simpson, wasn't it?

Double Speak from Dr Day

The Tyee has an excellent piece about what the new anti-medicare head of the CMA says to the Canadian press and public - and what he says behind closed doors to American private health insurance executives slavering to bite into the Canadian market.
Canadians should not be fooled by Day's double-speak. He is bringing the U.S. model of investor-owned health care to Canada, while convincing people that this is the only way to remedy wait times and other problems in our health care system. Every informed health care analyst has reached the opposite conclusion: we have some serious problems in Canada with our health care system but every one of these problems would be aggravated rather than cured if we were to move towards an American for-profit system of health care.

Q. How many neocons does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A. That's an interesting question, one that I'm sure future historians will investigate in detail. Look, let me address this issue up front: I don't know who's been installing light bulbs or who hasn't. That's none of my business. There's a lot of different views, there's a range of views, and a lot of concerns, and we are working to accommodate those concerns. We know at this point that we still have some work to do and we are working very hard to address these issues. We're not making estimates. At this point what you've had are some fairly -- you had some dramatic testimony and comments -- by the way, you can expect people to be ventilating these differing points of views in coming days. Our view is you have to have a resolution that offers a solution. And you're going to have people -- there is sometimes, you'll be surprised to hear, a disparity between comments made in public for domestic audiences around the world, and comments made in private, as well. In short, we don't want to comment on an ongoing investigation.

"If somebody is worth shooting once, they're worth shooting twice."

As with Vietnam, when the memoirs come out and the history is written, we will be shocked, I believe, by the level of wrongdoing by our troops who, to be fair, have been placed by their superiors in what Robert Jay Lifton called an “atrocity-producing situation.”

Perhaps the most compelling evidence of likely everyday brutality by U.S. troops emerged in April, yet as far as I know, was not investigated by major media.

A U.S. Army Surgeon General study of over 1,300 troops in Iraq had revealed increasing mental stress -- and an alarming spillover into poor treatment of noncombatants. It disclosed that at least 10% of U.S. forces reported that they had personally, and without cause, mistreated civilians (not prison detainees) through physical violence or damage to personal property.

The survey also noted that only 47% of the soldiers and 38% of marines agreed that noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect.

Over 40% said they backed torture in certain circumstances. Even worse, nearly one in five said that all noncombatants "should be treated as insurgents." About 30%
said their officers had not made it clear that they should not mistreat civilians.

More: Only 40% of American marines and 55% of soldiers in Iraq said they would report a fellow service member for killing or injuring an innocent Iraqi. Of course, this only guarantees that it will happen again, and again.

Jeff Englehart, a 26-year-old Army specialist from Grand Junction, Colo., said in The Nation survey: “I guess while I was there, the general attitude was a dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi. You know, so what?” You may wish to discount that, believing that The Nation is liberal and antiwar and that its pool of interviewees was drawn largely from veterans' organizations critical of the war.

Then you are still left with yesterday’s L.A. Times piece, which reported on the testimony of a Marine corporal, Saul Lopezromo, at the trial of Cpl. Trent D. Thomas, charged with murdering an Iraqi near Hamandaya (others have pleaded guilty). Lopezromo said Marines in his unit began routinely beating Iraqis after officers ordered them to "crank up the violence level.” Echoing the Army survey, he added that Marines consider all Iraqi men part of the insurgency, and added that a procedure called "dead-checking" was routine: If Marines found a wounded man in a house, instead of checking to see whether he needed medical aid, they shot him to make sure he was dead.

"If somebody is worth shooting once, they're worth shooting twice," he said.

To the extent they can do so, is the media now willing to deeply probe the actions of our beleaguered troops in Iraq? As Bob Herbert concluded a column about The Nation survey last week, “it’s one thing to lose a war. It’s much worse for a nation to lose its soul.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Convergence from the inside

The Tyee has an excellent piece about the unparalleled glimpse inside the Canadian big media clubhouse the Black trial has afforded. There were details posted to the US department of Justice website that would never have been revealed in Canada otherwise.

Under Asper's plan, press competition in Canada would have been even more severely curtailed, but even he questioned whether Canadians would have stood for such tight news media control. "I certainly agree that there should only be one national newspaper," he wrote to Black. "In order to gain all the synergies of the merger, in effect, you might turn the Globe and Mail into merely a Toronto edition of the National Post."

Asper anticipated that regulatory alarm bells might go off in Ottawa under that scenario, however. "Although we claim no expertise in the newspaper business, we do have a concern, perhaps ill-founded, that there would be an enormous public reaction, and possibly political repercussions, if the two papers simply merged and one disappeared, causing regulators to complain about a lack of diversity and choice, even though none existed a mere two years ago."

David Asper slams own paper

The correspondence also reveals Asper's outrage at the reaction of National Post journalists to a March 2001 column by his son David that criticized their coverage of the "Shawinigate" scandal surrounding then-prime minister Jean Chrétien.

The column charged that media coverage of the controversy over Chrétien's part-ownership of a golf course in his riding had "crossed a line that delineates solid investigative reporting from adjective-driven innuendo." It even singled out the National Post for criticism: "This newspaper and others across Canada, including other forms of media, have had a remarkably unfair 'go' at the prime minister."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lost city of the mad

The hundred or so buildings on the 300 acres of waterfront property on Long Island’s North Shore, like similar psychiatric centers operated by the State of New York in Brentwood and Central Islip and upstate, were once state-of-the-art psychiatric campuses designed to offer bucolic respite for the mentally ill, along with more aggressive interventions like electroshock therapy and lobotomies. They were cities unto themselves. Kings Park had its own power plant, police station, firehouse, railroad station, bakery, hospital and cemetery.

The fiscal crisis of the 1970s, coupled with the development of better psychiatric drugs, changes in the culture of mental health care and scandals about neglectful warehousing of patients at some institutions, led many centers to close by the 1990s. In some places, developers have proceeded with plans to build residential housing, stores and movie theaters. In others, including Kings Park, where local residents have fought development, state workers have boarded up the buildings and just kept the lawns cut.

Three dead. Eleven since 2000.

Chuckwagon horses at the Stampede that is. Dying in splintered agony with a bloody clockwork regularity. Every year we wonder how many will die, and hope for the best. Usually we're disappointed.

Fuck this macho bullshit.

I'm no hypocrite. I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat veal or foie gras either. I don't have a problem with subsistence hunting, but I find trophy hunting repellent. It's all just a matter of where you draw the line. You don't have to believe in animal rights to believe in animal welfare.

I don't have a problem with responsible stewardship of an animal which even racing can be.

But the Chucks are just a despicable slaughter. They are no longer defensible. The essence of the sport is macho one-upmanship, with the lives of horses merely props.

Stop the slaughter. Tradition is no excuse.

Argh

First day of my new job and Calgary was so hot last night - even with thunderstorms and tornado warnings - that I didn't get to sleep at all. The first person to tell me global warning's a myth today gets chinned.

There isn't enough caffeine in the world...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Feel Good Inc.

From Nick Anderson

Sunday Linkblast - July 15

Com-pu-tor yep yep yep Com-pu-tor!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lord Connie: It's funny when bad things happen to bad people.

He should have been jailed for looting workers pension funds, or conning controlling shares of his first corporate acquisition out of senile widows. Instead he was a beloved figure among Canada's fiscal and media elite - they loved his unvarnished contempt. But then he pushed it a little too far, got a little too arrogant. He ripped off the wrong people and now he faces up to 35 years in prison. American prison.

The Canadian media elite have gone into shock - see the Globe and Mail's outraged squeals. Consequences are for the little people.

Rat Race

So it's Friday the 13th and my last day at work at my current job. My new one starts Monday. I'm happy about it but apprehensive the same way everybody is when they are starting a new job. So I'm gonna let Blackalicious MC Gift of Gab toast me off to The Rat Race...
Gift of Gab

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Alarms ignored and trains overloaded

After buying a mountainous stretch of BC railways line in 2004, CN increased single trains by up to 151 units with remote operated booster locomotives going through tricky, switchback climbs. Within less than a year of CN taking over the line, a derailment had dumped 40,000 liters of toxic caustic soda in the Cheakamus killing at least 500,000 fish.

The Transportation Safety Board cited alarms being ignored, heavier trains and less experienced staff among the reasons for the disaster. Of course the report is only advisory, since 1999 the railways have been 'deregulated' out of Transport Canada's jurisdiction.

CN's spokesman Jim Feeny said recommendations that the railway's alarm systems be improved "would be taken under advisement."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sony drops PS3 price,

Gamers shrug and go back to playing Rayman Raving Rabbids on their Wiis.

Going, going...

Gone?
WASHINGTON (AP) - John McCain jettisoned two top aides Tuesday, the one-time Republican front-runner struggling to right a presidential bid in deep financial and political trouble.

Campaign manager Terry Nelson and chief strategist John Weaver offered McCain their resignations, which the Arizona senator accepted with "regret and deep gratitude for their dedication, hard work and friendship."

Other senior aides followed the two out the door, and the campaign announced that Rick Davis, who managed McCain's 2000 bid and the current campaign's chief executive officer, will take over.

The second major staff shake-up in a week comes as McCain grapples with several problems, not the least of which are his dwindling bank account of some $2 million and slippage in opinion polls. He also has staked out politically unpopular positions on two key issues—the Iraq war and immigration—that have hindered his candidacy.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Telus customer service calls and jobs go to the Philippines

Matthew has a great post on Telus' flimsy justifications and the TWU's welcome firmness on the subject of Canadian Telus jobs going to the Philippines.

Canadian jobs, Canadian customer service calls, Canadian visa numbers and financial details going to $25 dollar a day sweatshop call center employees in Manila.

Telus, where the future is friendly, unless you're a customer or an employee that is.

Insurance Executive Sicko memo leaked to Michael Moore

Barclay Fitzpatrick a Blue Cross Vice President in charge of Corporate Communications was given the assignment of watching Sicko, assessing it's impact and formulating a response.

His ever so slightly panicky and frequently downright morose memo was promptly leaked by a Blue Cross employee to Michael Moore who gleefully featured it on his site. With a challenge to Blue Cross's CEO to an open public debate rather than sneaky action plans.

Some highlights of the memo:
You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie, he is an effective storyteller. In Sicko Moore presents a collage of injustices by selecting stories, no matter how exceptional to the norm, that present the health insurance industry as a set of organizations and people dedicated to denying claims in the name of profit.

In demonstration of its impact, an informal discussion group ensued outside the theatre after the movie. While some people recognized how one-sided the presentation was, most were incredulous and "I didn't know they (the insurers) did that!" was a common exclamation followed by a discussion of the example.
The whole thing has a central theme of 'Oh shit, how can we distract people from this?'

Sunday Linkblast - July 8

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The pathetic GOP field

The Republican candidates for president in 2008 are one of the most pathetic groups ever seen on the American political stage.

Even if every polling indicator wasn't already pointing towards a Democrat surge next year, the line up of wannabes, freaks and burnouts among the Republicans should be giving the American people pause.

We've got:

John McCain, the establishment candidate who seems baffled at his reversal of fortune from heir apparent to busted flush. His slavish support of Bush's insane Mesopotamian quagmire has lost him all of his independent and conservative Democrat support while the right wing base of the GOP does not, and never will trust him to actually be one of their own. McCain just laid off 50 campaign workers. Rumors are already flying that he may withdraw early and end his lingering death march.

Mitt Romney is an empty suit who flip flops almost daily, blown wherever the polls lead. The Christianists don't trust him because of the Mormonism, the far right correctly assumes he's telling them what they want to hear now on the joys of torture and expanding Gitmo - if he wins the nomination the message to the general public will be completely different from the message to the base and they know it. Then there's the dog torture. And the links to groups that torture children. He's the torture candidate, and even if he wins the nomination he's going to turn off the American people. He's the candidate who will suffer most from the fact that candidates can no longer say one thing to the base and another to the general population without being called on it by the legion of watchers on the Internet.

Rudy Giuliani, America's mayor, still coasting on 9/11. This guy has so many skeletons in his closet and so many knives being sharpened for the perfect moment to strike that the Republicans really should be praying he doesn't win the nomination. Not that they have a lot of better options. Combining Bush's disdain for the rule of law and any limitations on his most authoritarian leanings with a vengeful paranoia all his own, if Giuliani doesn't flame out in the primaries he certainly will in the general.

Newcomer to the race is Fred Thompson. Hollywood Fred, best known as the disappointing replacement DA for Adam Schiff on Law and Order, seems to be the GOP establishment's panicked response to McCain's flameout. With Fred you get flip-flopping, an embarrassingly young and surgically pretty trophy wife and his brief career as Richard Nixon's personal snitch during Tricky Dick's impeachment hearings. Thompson is a desperation play by the party establishment.

The rest of the field of religious extremists like Huckabee and Brownback and no-hopers like Tancredo and Gilmore are just collecting face time. The only Republican candidate with any real credibility, honor and intellectual coherence and consistency is old school libertarian Ron Paul. He's very much a return to the Republican Party as it existed decades ago and as such he doesn't have a prayer.

When you factor in the ideological sea change among independents, the huge swing to the Democrats among younger Americans many who will be voting for the first time next year and things look bad for the GOP. When you add in the way they've completely lost the Hispanic vote and that they NEED to win Florida in any electoral college winning calculation, a state they lost in 2000 (Don't test me on this - we all know they did) and only barely won in 2004, things look VERY bad for the GOP.

There are a few hacks in the Democratic field too, but it's one of their strongest lineups in years, not even counting the possibility of Gore parachuting in at the last moment.

Things look bad for Republicans in congress too and a lot more Republican senators will be facing the voters in 2008 then were last year as well.

We may be about to see a perfect storm completely engulf the Republican party.

UPDATE:
There are 519 blog posts that use the terms “Romney” and “creepy” according to Technorati. According to Google, there are 202,000 web pages that have those two words.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Republicans and justice. The bottom line.

The man who as governor gleefully mocked the plea for mercy of a repentant woman on death row (ooh, please don't kill me!) thought thirty months in prison for obstructing the investigation into the deliberate leaking of a CIA agent's identity was 'excessive'.

His supporters think committing perjury about who deliberately endangered an American secret agent, risking her life and the lives of her entire network is no big deal. Lying about a blow-job? That's a hanging offense.

As Matt Groening once asked in a Life in Hell strip: 'If you vote Republican, does that make you an accessory to their crimes?'

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Gah

So I've been tagged with Blogdom's version of a chain letter - I don't particularly want to encourage this but...OK.

Here's the rules as posted by Galloping Beaver:
1. All right, here are the rules.
2. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
3. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
4. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
5. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So:
  • I'm 37.
  • I've lived in the same apartment in downtown Calgary for over a decade because I have six wall length bookshelves full of books, CDs, DVDs, comic books and toys and moving would be an incredible pain in the ass when I live in walking distance to almost anything I want.
  • As of today this blog has had 21,456 hits - how many unique visitors that includes... your guess is as good as mine.
  • '...but what I really want to do is direct.'
  • My wonderful amazing girlfriend's name is Daenna.
  • My annoying but lovably psychopathic cat's name is Ceecee.
  • I lived in Vancouver for a decade and occasionally miss it.
  • I write fiction and have had some published.
Now who to subject this nightmare to who hasn't been hit already - I'll go with the ones I read most...Sorry folks:

Chironboy
Creekside
Le Revue Gauche
The Gazetteer
Canadian Cynic
Accidental Deliberations
Canadian Observer
This Canadian

Canada's first casualty in Afghanistan was to American friendly fire

A US Army report has confirmed what has been suspected since last year: Canadian Pte. Robert Costall was shot in the back by US Special Forces during a fierce battle early on March 29, 2006.

The Canadian closed door Board of inquiry into the death of Robert Costall concluded last April and I blogged about it a few months later, but the details of the death of a Canadian soldier at American hands were subject to an American veto since then.

UPDATE: Pte Costall's family would like an apology.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Germaine Greer on Australia's attack on Aboriginals

Prime Minister Howard has launched a massive totalitarian crackdown on Australian Aboriginals. Germaine Greer responds in the Guardian
Ever since white men set foot in Australia more than 200 years ago, they have persecuted, harassed, tormented and tyrannised the people they found there. The more cold-blooded decided that the most humane way of dealing with a galaxy of peoples who would never be able to adapt to the "whitefella" regime was to eliminate them as quickly as possible, so they shot and poisoned them. Others believed that they owed it to their God to rescue the benighted savage, strip him of his pagan culture, clothe his nakedness, and teach him the value of work. Leaving the original inhabitants alone was never an option; learning from them was beyond any notion of what was right and proper. As far as the pink people were concerned, black Australians were primitive peoples, survivors from the stone age in a land that time forgot.

Any hopes that this attitude might have changed were dashed two weeks ago, when Prime Minister John Howard announced a new crusade. Following a report calling for action on child abuse in Aboriginal communities, he announced a six-month ban on alcohol and pornography within the homelands, compulsory medical checks for indigenous children and restrictions on welfare payments. As commander-in-chief of an army of police, the Australian Defence Force and hordes of doctors and nurses, he will storm the 70 or so autonomous Aboriginal settlements in the Northern Territory. He can do this because the Northern Territory, having failed in a recent, rather half-hearted bid for statehood, is directly administered by the Australian government. For Aboriginal people, Howard's edict is just another sudden and draconian shift in the law as it relates to them; just another pillar in a lifetime of being shoved from pillar to post.

Telus censorship makes the news

The Tyee has noticed something I posted about here a month ago.

Have Telus managers been brushing up on Orwell?

The company's mantra insists "the future is friendly," but critics say Telus is stifling the Internet to sweep the less-than-friendly bits of their past out of sight.

Earlier this month, Telus ordered YouTube to take down at least 23 videos posted to the site. Each short movie was potentially embarrassing to the telecom's public image since they documented instances of the company's rocky labour relations. Telus claimed their presence on YouTube, a user-generated website, was an act of copyright infringement.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The rising tide leaves most boats at the bottom

The study looked at what has happened in the generally strong Canadian economy between 1975 and 2005, with the aim of tracking who benefited.

The think tank, which has written extensively about Canada's income gap, found the economy grew in those 30 years by 72 per cent and labour productivity – measured as gross domestic product per hour worked – increased by 51 per cent.

But when the researchers looked at wages, they found that after registering strong increases in the early and mid-1970s, real wages adjusted for inflation have remained virtually unchanged for the remainder of the last three decades even though productivity continued to increase.

"The stagnation of workers' real average wages despite their rising productivity is a powerful indictment of the promise that a growing economy – and increased productivity – will produce benefits widely shared by the majority of Canadian workers. It simply isn't happening," the report says.

Happy Canada Day!

The War of 1812 by the Arrogant Worms

And now, some shameless hucksterism

I'm selling some vintage books on eBay:

1961 first edition of the Harlan Ellison classic Genteman Junkie.















1911 edition of Gaston LeRoux's classic The Phantom of the Opera with beautiful painted plates.













The First edition of J G Ballard's first book, The Wind from Nowhere. Great condition.

Sunday Linkblast - July 1

Happy Canada day all!

A harsh view of the Washington Press Corp

This is the group that attended the White House correspondents dinner and clapped for a rapping Karl Rove. As a class, they honor politeness over honesty and believe that being "balanced" means giving the same weight to a lie as you give to the truth

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