Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sad now

Our cat died today.

I'm not going to bore you too long about this - I'm just an emotionally closed off guy who expresses himself through writing - feel free to ignore this exercise in self-indulgence.

It wasn't a huge surprise. He was in his twenties and had gotten thinner and quieter as the years went by. He lost his appetite in the last week and slept under the bathroom sink most of the time. That's where I found him when I got home today.

Ceecee was a sullen, rather foul tempered shaggy pitch black cat with glowing green eyes - he was almost the stereotypical Halloween cat with a meow that was a ragged half snarl, half shriek. When he was younger he had a habit of attacking people when startled, biting and scratching and particularly taking a toll on the women in my life. He had a strong streak of jealousy- a habit I'm pleased to say he got over in recent years. He never really attacked my current girlfriend and in fact came to become very affectionate towards her - as much as anyone other than me.

He could be extremely affectionate, he loved being picked up and held starting to purr heavily as soon as he was in someone's arms. He would wake me up in the morning by jumping on the bed and gently head-butting me until I got up and fed him.

I got him at a party several years ago. It was late in the evening and while stretched out on the couch I overheard some other party-goers talking about how they would have to get their cat put down as they were moving to a no-pets building. 'I'll take him!' I shouted drunkenly and suddenly I had a cat.

And now he's gone. Bye Ceecee.

After a bath

Monday, October 26, 2009

Healthcare role reversal, healthcare victory

And suddenly, gray political careerist Harry Reid is the staunch defender of progressive policy and Obama, the great progressive hope is the scrimping timid incrementalist pushing lobbyist candy crap, a 'trigger' lobbyist designed to be sure to never be pulled.

How the hell did this happen?

Harry Reid stood up for America today.

He put a public health insurance option in the Senate bill, the merged version of the two health care bills passed out of committee that will now go to the Senate floor for debate, amendments, and passage.

This is a huge victory. Putting the public health insurance option in the Senate bill that goes to the floor makes it much harder to remove later. Opponents will need 60 votes to amend the Senate bill, meaning a high bar will have to be cleared to take out or change the public health insurance option.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Linkblast - Oct 25

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Maintenance

Some time this afternoon Rusty Idols will hit the 75,000 hits mark.

Rusty Idols now cross-posts to Twitter and Open Salon and via a little headline widget to Live Journal and Myspace.

Rusty Idols features political and cultural commentary, sarcasm, snark and angry rants. Occasionally also music and humour. Drop by and say hello.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

'Obama stole my mojo!'

The real, emasculating truth behind Obama derangement syndrome revealed:
Study: McCain Voters Lost Testosterone
(Oct. 21) -- Young men who voted for John McCain lost more than a presidential election last November. A study says their testosterone level plummeted.
As polls closed on election night, researchers at Duke University and the University of Michigan had 183 men and women chew gum and spit into test tubes and analyzed their hormones.A few hours later, as Barack Obama supporters began celebrating, they tested hormone levels again, and then later, at two more intervals.
Men who voted for Obama maintained stable testosterone levels, while men who voted for McCain saw those levels drop more than 25 percent.
"What this study shows us is how stress and outside stimulus influences our physiology," said Duke University spokesman Karl Leif Bates.
...
Republican men can take comfort in the fact that the testosterone drop was only temporary, and that the midterm elections are coming.
So no, voting Republican doesn't make you sterile.

Unfortunately.

Alberta unions to Stelmach:

Blow it out your ass:

CALGARY - A provincewide labour battle is brewing after some of Alberta's largest public sector unions rejected Premier Ed Stelmach's call for a two-year voluntary wage freeze.

  • The Health Sciences Association of Alberta, which represents 18,000 medical workers such as lab technicians and paramedics: "Why do they feel . . . it's in their ability and it's all right to even suggest breaking this contract? It's not OK."

  • Alberta Teachers' Association president Carol Henderson: "We have an agreement," said Henderson. "We signed it in good faith and we intend to be in the classroom. When it comes down to it, is it a deal or is it a deal?" Henderson was a Grade 3 teacher in the 1990s when the then-Klein government asked public sector workers, including teachers, to accept a five per cent wage reduction to preserve jobs. But the province went ahead with layoffs anyway.

  • Dennis Mol, president of the Alberta branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees: "This is a continued attack on the worker. They talk about having all these rainy-day funds . . . well it's beyond raining now. It's a snowstorm. But the government doesn't want to use them," said Mol.

  • Alberta Union of Provincial Employees president Doug Knight: Knight is frustrated the premier used his television address to negotiate in the media instead of at the bargaining table. If Stelmach truly wants to share the pain of Alberta's fiscal crisis he should be rolling back all of his recent 34 per cent raise, not just the portion he announced Thursday, Knight said.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Canada's Sarah Palin

The resemblance is really quite astonishing.A telegenic far right political figure with a slim resume tainted with a history of extremism and obstruction with rapturous middle aged white men in Canada's right wing getting serious tingles down their pant leg over her while the public response is likely to be far less impressive.

Danielle Smith has won a race to lead the Wildrose Alliance Party, a right-wing rival to Alberta’s long-serving Progressive Conservative government.

The Wildrose Alliance has been attracting a lot of attention in Alberta recently after polls showed the upstart fringe party is bleeding support away from the Tories and emerging as the province's second-place choice to form a government.

Her biggest public role hitherto was as an elected trustee of a Calgary school board that was so dysfunctional and riven by party politics that it had to be dissolved by the provincial government. The childish exploits that led to the entire board being shut down included loud standoffs degenerating into shoving matches at one point. This bodes well for a spirit of compromise and constructive reasoned governance in any hypothetical Smith administration.

Of course serving as a representative on a public school board is probably problematic if you are ideologically opposed to the very concept of the public good.

Her entree into politics came in 1998 as a trustee with the Calgary Public School Board, a period marred by infighting between right- and left-leaning members. In 1999, Alberta's Learning Minister declared the board “completely dysfunctional” and fired all of them.

Jennifer Pollock, a Liberal and a third-term trustee at the time, recalls Ms. Smith's determination and, not flatteringly, single-mindedness. “I don't think people should vote for her,” Ms. Pollock says, comparing her former colleague to Stephen Harper – a parallel Ms. Smith's supporters make in a much more positive way.

Smith is careful to downplay divisive subjects like abortion and gay rights but the Alberta Wildrose Alliance (a name that ironically reflects the winnowing Darwinian reductionism of Alberta right wing politics.) is a deeply reactionary, extremely right wing party both in terms of economics and social issues.

A party led by a professional political operative who went from a year of interning at the free market fetishist Fraser Institute to a (deliberately?) divisive, short and failed term as a public school trustee and from there to the Progressive Group for Independent Business* - whose leader once said if you weren't willing to vote right wing, you weren't welcome in Alberta. The infrastructure of right wing pressure groups, corporate PR agencies masquerading as think tanks and party operatives grow these people in pods.

But gosh, she seems so down home and comfy, you betcha!

*Correction, Oct 28: Smith was in fact the Alberta Director of another right wing 'pro-business' pressure group The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)

"We are not pleased"

The Obama administration reacts with royal displeasure over a British court rejecting claims that the Americans will withdraw intelligence cooperation if its revealed that, among other things, interrogators took scalpels to a detainee's genitals in Guantanamo.
Today's Guardian calls the Court's ruling "a devastating judgment," reporting that the "judges roundly dismissed the foreign secretary's claims that disclosing the evidence would harm national security and threaten the UK's vital intelligence-sharing arrangements with the US." The article also notes that the Court simply did not believe that the Obama administration would follow through on these threats, but instead issued them only at the behest of British officials, who needed a pretext for ongoing concealment.

The Obama administration, The Most Transparent Ever, condemns the British court decision to reveal what was done to Mohamed:

Meanwhile, US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said: "We are not pleased", adding that Washington kept such information confidential "to protect our own citizens".

Canadians will be familiar with the 'you're risking our intelligence gathering!' argument from security ├╝ber alles apologists in the Canadian media bemoaning that our government can't even imprison and torment people with vaguely justified security certificates because if we reveal the abusive methods used to get information used to target these individuals then the cool kids will take their toys and go home and the Americans will never play with us again.

It's crap and Canadians should have nothing but contempt for the argument.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Another reminder to be thankful for Canadian Healthcare

In America the real Death Lists are on Insurance company balance sheets.
The documents revealed Guardian had compiled a "hit list" of its costliest members, including patients with muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, and paralysis. Guardian executives referred to us all as "dogs" and "trainwrecks," and they debated how and when to dump us from the rolls. Laws prohibited the cancellation of the individual members with serious chronic health problems, so Guardian opted to cancel the plan for all members of this specific health plan in New York, an action that violates federal law.

Although my medical costs constituted a minuscule fraction of Guardian's profits, the company had been trying for 15 years to sidestep its obligations to me. The insurer hired private investigators who searched in vain for evidence to justify canceling the policy. Guardian had similarly targeted the other "dogs" without success. Finally, Guardian launched the unprecedented strategy of withdrawing an established plan throughout an entire state in order to discontinue a few costly members.

When we checked the private insurance market to see my options, we discovered that benefits covering the care I need to survive are no longer available to small businesses. We learned that the insurance industry has replaced risk management with risk elimination, offering only benefits that guarantee permanent profitability. The human toll is not a factor in their calculations.

While all this was going on, Guardian reported $7.5 billion revenue, net income of $437 million, and available capital of $4.3 billion in 2008. Unlike small businesses, Guardian's financial strength remained unscathed by the economic downturn.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pitcher Plants

I propose a new sub-classification of astroturf groups; those that are actively deceptive about their nature and goals when pulling in new...subjects.

I propose such groups be called Pitcher Plants
Whatever their evolutionary origins, foraging, flying or crawling insects such as flies are attracted to the cavity formed by the cupped leaf, often by visual lures such as anthocyanin pigments, and nectar bribes. The sides of the pitcher are slippery and may be grooved in such a way so as to ensure that the insects cannot climb out. The small bodies of liquid contained within the pitcher traps are called phytotelmata. They drown the insect, and the body of it is gradually dissolved.
Examples: Tea bag and anti-Healthcare movements created and funded by powerful rightwing political and corporate forces, created to suck in people in an economic strata most likely to benefit from the Democratic Party policies they are tricked into opposing.

Another example is the network of Crisis Pregnancy Centers. A name that makes them seem like a health resource vulnerable women can turn to for access to all their legal options. Instead the CPCs are in fact an evangelical front group that carefully hides, until vulnerable women have fallen into the pitcher plant, that they will never help a woman get an abortion. That they oppose birth control and pressure women who've undergone abortions to undergo guilt based counseling to make them regret that they had a right to a legal medical procedure. They've also been credibly linked to harassment, extremism and stringing women along until its too late to end their pregnancies.

One of these things has opened a few blocks from my home. I'm a little ticked about that.

Another pitcher plant example are fake unions. CLAC, the The Christian Labour Association of Canada, not to put too fine a point on it, is a fake union. They're an association with no standing in the Canadian Labour Congress.

CLAC, is the bosses favorite union. Employers bring them in to keep real unions out.

Pitcher Plants that draw in the unwary with a benign appearance only to devour them slowly once they're inside.

Quote of the Day

Book burning is so last millennium...
I don't even get angry about book burning anymore. Book burning is quaint and laughable. It's like these North Carolina pigfuckers are members of the Society for Douchey Anachronism, carrying out re-enactments of the kind of douchey behavior that used to matter a whole lot in the Dark Ages, but now is just a historical curiosity. Come on down to the Book Burning Faire, and relive a simpler time, when knowledge had physical form!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

When Democrats attack...

It's so unusual it feels like being savaged by a sheep.

The battle against the health insurance industry is steadily intensifying. House Democrats have formally scheduled a vote to revoke the industry's cherished antitrust protection, according to a statement from Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.). The move comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) have put up a unified front, calling for an end to the anti-competitive practice.

On Thursday, Pelosi noted to reporters that the Judiciary Committee had held a hearing on repealing the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, which exempts the insurance industry from antitrust laws.

More of this please.

And there was the White House flatly accusing Fox News of being the media arm of the Republican Party.
In an interview with Time Magazine released today, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn offered a blunt assessment of Fox News: "It's opinion journalism masquerading as news," she said. "They are boosting their audience. But that doesn't mean we are going to sit back."

As CNN notes, the White House has long had an adversarial relationship with the conservative news channel. President Obama pointedly left the network off the list when he made the rounds at the networks in September to push his health care plan, and it slammed Fox News in a blog post last Wednesday, complaining of a continued "disregard for the facts."
Early on the White House signaled that their almost unseemly push for bipartisanship and compromise with the GOP could end with an authentic 'Well we tried.' - and the White House could get down to work with the high ground established. I need to see more but I'm a bit more hopeful about Obama then I have been the last few months.

Marriage equality again

Several people and groups now calling for the dismissal of the Louisiana JP who refused to marry a bi-racial couple. Best response yet:
"Perhaps he's worried the kids will grow up and be president," said Bill Quigley, director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Justice.
And maybe folks in the Saskatchewan Party are afraid some boy or girl raised by a loving gay couple will be Prime Minister some day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fighting for the right to Discriminate

Pandering to Responding to their extremist base's latest hysterical bugbear, Marriage Commissioners being forced to obey the law, the right wing government of Saskatchewan is exploring legalizing government discrimination against gay couples.
The conservative Saskatchewan Party government announced Jul 3 that they will submit two pieces of legislation to the Court of Appeals. Justice minister Don Morgan says he wants the court's opinion on whether the legislation stands up to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"We've given the Court of Appeals two suggested options: one that we grandfather the existing marriage commissioners that are reluctant to perform a same-sex marriage, and the other would be to create a religious exemption for those and future marriage commissioners," Morgan says.

The issue of whether marriage commissioners, who are appointed by the government, can refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples has been the subject of human rights tribunals and court cases since Saskatchewan allowed same-sex couples to obtain a marriage license in 2004.

In 2008 a Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Regina marriage commissioner Orville Nichols had violated the human rights of two Regina gay men when he refused to marry them in 2005. That tribunal fined Nichols $2,500.
A ruling that was reaffirmed in July when the Court of Queen's Bench firmly denied Nichols' appeal making it even more unlikely that the court will respond to the attempt to legalize exactly this behavior with anything other than telling the Saskatchewan government to piss up a rope.

And rightly so.

Here's what Premier Wall and the Saskatchewan Party government are fighting for:

NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."

Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them, he said.

Yes, goddammit, it's exactly the same thing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The revolution begins

In women's magazines that is, and starting with just one in Germany.

BERLIN — Germany's highest-circulation women's magazine says it will stop working with professional models next year in favor of women whose bodies better resemble those of its readers.

Andreas Lebert, editor-in-chief for Brigitte magazine, said future photo spreads will feature a mix of prominent and unknown women who "have an identity" instead of those with "protruding bones."

To which the pretentious and haughty couture world's response is, well, pretentious and haughty.

Curvy women have no place on the catwalk, iconic German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld was quoted as saying Sunday, after a magazine said it was banning skinny models in favour of "real women".

"No one wants to see curvy women," Lagerfeld was quoted as saying on the website of news magazine Focus.

"You've got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly," he added.

Marie Antoinette sneering 'Let them eat cake. Lots and lots of cake.' couldn't have been more cluelessly arrogant as the torch-wielding crowds began to gather outside.

Consider this one heterosexual male vote for curves and confidence and women who don't look like heroin addicted famine victims.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Linkblast - Oct 11

Friday, October 09, 2009

Rachel Marsden: Bigot for Hire

I wondered why my past posts about crazy eyed provocateur Rachel Marsden were suddenly getting a big spike in hits. Probably has something to do with British far right paper The Daily Telegraph's inexplicable decision to print her recent exercise in white supremacist hate mongering and juvenile whining.
Forget the 2016 Rio Olympics – there’s a more pressing issue to address: Who is fighting to ensure that the immigrants of European descent are adequately represented at next year’s Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games?

I’m talking about the people who can be credited for turning the city from a giant wilderness into the budding metropolis of today. The place, and indeed the whole of my country, Canada, was pretty third-worldish until the English, French, and various other Europeans arrived and started planning and building infrastructure and government, and teaching the natives discipline, order, and capitalism. Canada or the USA without European immigrants would look somewhat like Africa.

It’s no coincidence that the best countries in the world are either European or founded by Europeans. Everywhere they go, European immigrants make things better – until they’re asked to leave, at which point everything usually descends back into chaos. Not that they ever get any thanks for it.

She actually is authentically offended that non-whites aren't crying 'Oh thank you Massa! Thank you for enslaving, looting and violently suppressing my culture!'

Why is this demented, racist serial stalker with a long history of working out her psycho-sexual issues by trying to destroy every man foolish enough to fall into her orbit even allowed out without a keeper much less repeatedly given major mass media platforms?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Our economy is so completely fucked, the rich are running out of things to steal."

-Matt Taibbi

Watch this video explanation of the practice of short selling and pick up the new Rolling Stone for Taibbi's furiously delineated explanation of the massive swindle at the heart of the economic collapse.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Zero Hour for CanWest

They danced as long as they could, frantically organizing and re-organizing a huge and growing debt load. Eventually as the mountain of debt reached the surreal level of over four billion dollars - bigger than many countries - it became as effective as trying to bail out the Titanic with a bucket.

The TV chain and the National Pest will be broken up and sold in chunks to the highest bidder. There are rumours that the Asper family will make another bid to hold onto the rest of the newspaper chain organized under Canwest LP, but the way to bet is regional players will carve off chunks, like Torstar picking up the Ottawa Citizen because it fits their regional focus but having no interest in picking up western papers like the Calgary Herald.

I feel for employees, union members and staffers who had no control over the irrational empire building exuberance of the Asper board room and reporters who were as embarrassed and offended by the enforced Asper family bias on political and Middle Eastern news as the rest of us.

But over all the collapse of a reactionary, far right media empire isn't going to bring tears to my eyes. In Calgary I have hopes that my daily broadsheet might return to the halfway decent rag it was before Conrad Black and Southam began the corrupting work that the Aspers and CanWest completed.

Mourn for jobs but not for the Aspers.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Nightmarish US Customs regime may have cost Chicago the Olympics

Among the toughest questions posed to the Chicago bid team this week in Copenhagen was one that raised the issue of what kind of welcome foreigners would get from airport officials when they arrived in this country to attend the Games. Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, in the question-and-answer session following Chicago's official presentation, pointed out that entering the United States can be "a rather harrowing experience..."
It's been known for awhile that the hysterically paranoid border regime instituted after 911 was costing the American tourism industry hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of American jobs. Maybe being blackballed from major international events like the Olympics will make them reconsider it if nothing else will.

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