Friday, May 30, 2008

What's a few dead junkies?

After coyly denying for months that any decision about the fate of Insite had been made and clearly planning to leave the safe injection site's operators and clients hanging in limbo until the last minute, suddenly the federal government discovered urgency when the BC Supreme Court took the decision out of their hands.

Health Minister Tony Clement argues that Insite saves only one life a year - this is undoubtedly a significant low ball as Insite's staff report intervening in more than 336 overdoses since 2006. Even if Clement's caviler dismissal of '1 life per year' were accurate it would still mean that the Stephen Harper government is comfortable with those lives not being saved because of their ideological objection to harm reduction.
Dr. Keith Martin, a British Columbia Liberal MP and former Reform Party star, is also a former substance-abuse physician. He admits that Clement may succeed in closing Insite: "But in doing that they will be essentially committing murder."
And it is an ideological objection, let there be no doubt about that, it flies in the face of Insite's support from all levels of government in BC, the Vancouver police department, health professionals and over 25 peer reviewed studies that all agreed that Insite was saving lives and money.

Put against the Harperites distaste for the people being saved none of it matters.

It even contradicts the Conservatives fair weather belief in devolving power from the federal to provincial governments - they're quite happy to cite provincial control over medicine if it means provincial government's undermining universal health care by allowing private clinics - not so much if it means saving the lives of people even Tony Clement admits have an illness.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Dry spell in a wet city

It's been a while since I went a week between posts. Busy week at work and more distracted and occasionally horrified by the news events than inspired to write about them.

Since I last dipped into US Presidential politics Hillary Clinton decided that just implying that she should be the candidate because her loyal redneck supporters couldn't vote for a coloured fella' wasn't, in fact, as low as she could go, and the real reason she should stay in the race is because you never know, someone could shoot the guy.

I'm inclined to agree with those who say absolutely she shouldn't drop out until she wants to, however the super delegates should get off their asses and stop waiting for the best time to make their choice known to get themselves the most influence and power and pick a candidate now. Fortunately there are indications that is happening.

Here in Canada, the fallout from the scandal of Harper's chief of staff inserting himself into the American primaries has led to a shakeup in Harper's office. The Conservatives hope that his replacement Guy Giorno will bring some of that Mike Harris magic to federal politics. Wasn't Mike Harris voted out in the aftermath of a murdered native protester and children poisoned by sewage infested water?

Actually, he'll probably fit in perfectly.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Empire's End

The sublime closing credits of David Lynch's Inland Empire. Music courtesy of Nina Simone and her "Sinner Man". This sprightly song and dance sequence would in no way prepare you for the mirror crack'd reality of the movie - or it expresses it perfectly, I can't decide.

Extra Bonus, while we're doing sprightly and a little odd, here's Jaan Pehechaan Ho, the Bollywood clip from Ghost World

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The coming Republican Apocalypse

With its huge money advantage, solid candidates in many districts in which the Dems were previously content to provide passive resistance, and the examples of the previous special elections -- especially last night's win in Mississippi -- Democrats could be looking at picking up some 20 to 30 seats in the House.

Before you go screaming about getting hopes up, that is a conservative estimate, ace. I looked at all the congressional districts currently held by Republicans that have a Partisan Voting Index of R+5 or less, including seats held by Republicans in Democratic districts. (Chris Shays springs immediately to mind.) There are 65 such seats. I put certain seats in the gimme column (AZ-01, for example, in which disgraced Rick Renzi will allow for an easy Democratic takeover) and others I dismissed out of hand (AL-03, for example, which, despite an R+3 rating, is never going Democratic).

The 111th Congress will see heavy Dem. majorities in both Houses. First order of business: The public castration of Grover Norquist.

It's a little pat and self congratulatory, but it's also probably true. The Democrats are used to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory but that could be why Obama is taking iron-fisted control of the party.

I think it can be safely said, that absent some huge scandal or a sniper, the Americans are about to elect a black man president - and he'll have the control over congress that will let him be an effective one - about 20 years ahead of schedule than I would have guessed. All it took was a Republican president so inept and vile that he burned the GOP brand to the ground.

Goodbye Reagan revolution, you won't be missed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jason Kenney uses fake Down's Syndrome suicide bombers story to try to discredit Dallaire

When Senator Romeo Dallaire drew an equivalency of disrespect for human rights between al Qaida and Canada and the US for not respecting the human rights of a child soldier, Harper's bulldog went apeshit:
"The minute you start playing with human rights, with conventions, with civil liberties, in order to say that you're doing it to protect yourself and you are going against those rights and conventions, you are no better than the guy who doesn't believe in them at all," he said.
"We are slipping down the slope of going down that same route."
Tory MP Jason Kenney asked if Dallaire really believes that. He pointed to a number of al-Qaida outrages, including an incident in which the terror group reportedly outfitted mentally challenged young girls with explosive belts and sent them to their deaths in a Baghdad animal market.
"Is it your testimony that al-Qaida strapping up a 14-year-old girl with Down syndrome and sending her into a pet market to be remotely detonated is the moral equivalent to Canada's not making extraordinary political efforts for a transfer of Omar Khadr to this country?" he asked.Dallaire was adamant.
"If you want a black and white, and I'm only too prepared to give it to you, absolutely," he replied. "You're either with the law or not with the law. You're either guilty or you're not."
He added, though, that Kenney was using "extreme scenarios."
Not just an 'extreme scenario' but one that has been thoroughly debunked and which even the US Military has backed away from.
The U.S. military said Wednesday that two women used as suicide bombers in attacks earlier this month had undergone psychiatric treatment but there is no indication they had Down syndrome as Iraqi and U.S. officials initially had claimed.Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a military spokesman, said the women used in the Feb. 1 pet market bombings had been identified as residents from the northeastern outskirts of Baghdad who were in their late 20s or early 30s.
In other words, Kenney used a false example to try to discredit what Dallaire was saying - and only discredited himself.

UPDATE: Dion's instant willingness to throw Dallaire to the wolves is disappointing, while not even remotely surprising. Dallaire stood up for the rule of law and against gulag show trials and Dion starts hinting at party discipline. How shameful and cowardly.

This is important; Kenney's use of a debunked piece of inflammatory propaganda to make his point perfectly illustrates Dallaire's.

The rule of law is what stands between us and unchecked tyranny. If a threat can be demonized, villified and propagandized to the point where we abandon the rule of law, we've already become what we are fighting.

Whether babies tossed out of incubators or Iran forcing Jews to wear yellow badges or terrorists forcing mentally handicapped little girls to kill themselves, these kind of dehumanizing propaganda myths are designed to reduce our enemies - many of them bad men, evil men - to monsters.

And any tactic, any brutality, any violation of law and conscience is acceptable when you're fighting monsters.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

McCain's Moonies

The controversial pronouncements of Reverend Jeremiah Wright are nothing compared to those of the right wing evangelicals McCain has actively courted. McCain pastoral supporters have:
Said that 9/11 was caused by liberals;
Said that Hurricane Katrina was caused by gays and that the Catholic church is a “great whore”;
Said that the US was founded to destroy Islam;

And one of his top advisers was part of a bizarre ceremony in a federal government building surrounded by high ranking Republican legislators where Korean cult leader and far right sugar daddy Reverend Sun Moon declared Jesus a failure and had himself crowned the Emperor of America.
So what is clear from this email is that top Mccain advisor Charlie Black is admitting that he helped plan, and would have attended, an event where a convicted tax fraud would have been crowned King Of America and declared himself the Messiah--all on U.S. Government federal property (on March 23, 2004).

According to The New York Times:

"Mr. Moon, an eccentric billionaire, convicted tax cheat, conservative publisher and power broker, grandly donned scarlet robes and a golden crown at the Dirksen Office Building. ''I am God's ambassador, sent to earth with his full authority..."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The day Hillary Clinton completely imploded

"Senator Obama's support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans is weakening again, and ... the whites in both states who had not attended college were supporting me...."
Over the course of one day, just hours, Hillary Clinton said the preceding grotesque sentence and sent a mind numbingly self serving and deceptive open letter to Senator Obama and probably stamped out the last lingering ember of respect that the African American community had for the Clintons. It's actually been quite stunning to watch.

When I had breaks today - every hour or so, there was some new insane act or pronouncement from the Clinton camp, for instance that Clinton strategist Mark Penn apparently didn't know that the Democratic primary was picked by proportional representation and thought Hillary could win if she carried Los Angeles.

But nothing matches the viciously calculating appeal to intolerance and division as that one sentence.

Clinton ended her run today, and she ended it ugly.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sunday Linkblast - May 4

Friday, May 02, 2008

The false economy of callousness

BC's 'liberal' government of Gordon Campbell pushed over 100,000 people off of welfare. Over 6000 died. Many more became homeless. Now it turns out that a homeless person costs taxpayers almost 8 times as much as someone on welfare due to increased emergency supports, health care, policing and emergency housing.
Local and provincial taxpayers are now paying an estimated $644 million a year on emergency services for the province's 11,700 homeless people who are both severely addicted and mentally ill, according to an exhaustive study by SFU's Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction.
Put bluntly: Welfare pays $7,320 per person per year. Homelessness costs an estimated $55,000 per person per year.
"It's definitely a false economy," Klein said. But because that cost is spread between various ministries and shared among dozens of local municipalities, it's effectively hidden in plain sight.
Slashing welfare may give the uncaring among us a mean-spirited little frisson of satisfaction that they aren't being 'forced' to contribute as much to the social contract, but in fact all it does is eat up even more taxpayer dollars than would have been spent keeping the same numbers on the welfare rolls.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

High School Principal outs students to school and their parents.

The ACLU says in September 2007, Beasley asked her staff to give her the names of students who were couples, heterosexual and homosexual, because she wanted to keep an eye on them to cut down on public displays of affection.

She's accused of publicly posting the names of those students, including two boys, Andrew and Nicholas, who had just started dating. The ACLU says that in doing so, Beasley revealed their relationship to other students, teachers and even their parents.

...

Nicholas says his teachers and other students treat him differently as a result of Principal Beasley's decision and that he and Andrew have both had to deal with verbal assaults. Nicholas was also not allowed to go on a trip to New Orleans to help rebuild homes because, as one of his teacher's explained, he would "embarrass" the school by engaging in gay affection.

"I really feel that my personal privacy was invaded," Nicholas says. "I mean, Principal Beasley called my mother and outed me to my mother!"

Principal Evilbitch needs to never be allowed to be in a position of authority over children or young adults again ever.

American Government has Nelson Mandela on terrorist watch list

WASHINGTON — Nobel Peace Prize winner and international symbol of freedom Nelson Mandela is flagged on U.S. terrorist watch lists and needs special permission to visit the USA. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls the situation "embarrassing," and some members of Congress vow to fix it.
Doubtless my city's most embarrassing MP Rob Anders approves.

Taliban Steve

So the Canadian military under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is now negotiating directly with the Taliban.
KHENJAKAK, AFGHANISTAN -- Canadian troops are reaching out to the Taliban for the first time, military and diplomatic officials say, as Canada softens its ban on speaking with the insurgents. After years of rejecting any contact with the insurgents, Canadian officials say those involved with the mission are now rethinking the policy in hopes of helping peace efforts led by the Afghan government.
Doubtless the pearl clutching vapors from the Canadian right wing blogosphere will be commencing immediately. Frothing accusations of terrorist appeasement? Denunciations of Harper's clear contempt for women's rights that this new policy demonstrates?

At least a Neville Chamberlain comparison or two?

Any time now right?

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