Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Maintenance

The Blogrolling app has now been deleted from my blog. It brought in a shitty advertising frame for all it's links last year and it's presence was routinely setting off virus and adware alerts for visitors. If you still have it, I recommend copying your links, disabling it and removing the javascript from your template. If you're using classic blogger hard code your blog list.

After five years with no design changes a major face-lift is coming to Rusty Idols, possibly today, possibly later this week. The current plan is to upgrade to the new blogger object template and go with a white background and black text for improved readability. Any thoughts from my readers?

UPDATE: Oh what the hell. It's my birthday. The transformation is done. Now the long slog of replacing all my blog links by hand...

That strange sound echoing across the land? It's Jason Kenney grinding his teeth.

TORONTO - Former British MP George Galloway is expecting to arrive in Canada this Saturday.

The aim is to continue a speaking tour he was forced to put on hold last year.

The rabble-rousing politician was told in March 2009 he would be denied entry into Canada on the basis he supported terrorism.

A recent court decision concluded the federal government interfered in the case for political reasons.

Supporters of the anti-war activist say they are looking forward to hearing the politician speak.

They say they hope the government will no longer attempt to ban critics of its foreign policy.

Galloway had provided financial support to Hamas — a group that Canada has listed as a terrorist organization.

The Canada Border Services Agency cited his involvement in an aid convoy that delivered clothing, medical items, relief money and vehicles to the elected Hamas government.

UPDATE: "I'm coming to get you"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Before and After

The current state of Canada's prostitution laws until 30 days from now:
  • It's legal to exchange sex for money. No really, it is, and has been for years.
  • It's illegal to say the words 'Would you like to exchange some sex for some money?' in a public place. This is known as Communication for the Purpose of Prostitution.
  • It is illegal to have a safe place off the dangerous streets where you can say the words 'Would you like to exchange some sex for some money?' in private. This is known as Keeping a Common Bawdy House.
  • If you do exchange sex for money, which remember, is legal, it's illegal to pay rent or buy food with the money you have exchanged sex for. This is known as Living on the Avails of Prostitution. Theoretically this is only supposed to be used against pimps, but has also been used against the prostitutes themselves.
When you look at this literally Kafkaesque patchwork of oppressive, vaguely defined prohibitions you can see why their enforcement is infamous for being inconsistent, capricious and frequently abusive. If you were trying to design a structure with the maximum amount of danger, abandonment, lack of recourse to the law and state sponsored contempt for the women living in the margins of the sex trade, you couldn't have created a better system.

It's priggishly justified, brutally enforced and organized, state sanctioned cruelty on a massive scale against the most vulnerable among us.

Bleating about human trafficking and sex slavery is contemptible hypocrisy if you also support a legal structure of such orchestrated disenfranchisement and victimization that the things you are decrying are virtually guaranteed to happen. If we KNOW that other systems, systems that bring prostitutes under the umbrella of legal person-hood drastically reduce the power of pimps, the spread of disease and the abuse and murder of vulnerable women, then the justifications for maintaining the current system crumble to bitter sand.

What we've been doing doesn't work. The current system has deformed, ruined, and ended lives.

Time to try something new.

It's those other people sucking on the government teat

Matt Taibbi knocks another one out of the park:

"Let me get this straight," I say to David. "You've been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?"

"Well," he says, "there's a lot of people on welfare who don't deserve it. Too many people are living off the government."

"But," I protest, "you live off the government. And have been your whole life!"

"Yeah," he says, "but I don't make very much." Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it's going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I've concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They're full of shit. All of them. At the voter level, the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending — only the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry's medals and Barack Obama's Sixties associations. The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them.
And underneath all the high minded, libertarian anti-government posturing: the baffled, rage and fury at the thought that in any way, any of their tax money might be spent on brown people.

The Mop and Pail slides into Irrelevancy

I'll join others in noting and mourning the eviction of Rick Salutin from the Globe and Mail's comments page. Now their conservative and/or neo-liberal readers need never fear having any of their cozy certainties unpleasantly challenged by any kind of dissident viewpoint. Here's hoping that Mr Salutin's cross post to Rabble.ca will continue there.

Update: Murray Dobbin says it better than I could. Rick Salutin is Canada and I feel like I just saw a Canadian Heritage minute end in gunfire and trophy mounting.

Consider politely but firmly expressing your displeasure to The Globe and Mail's Editor in Chief:
John Stackhouse: jstackhouse@globeandmail.com

Cartoons about murdering people you disagree with sure are funny

The Calgary Herald's editorial cartoon about the Gun Registry for Monday Sept 27:
Because what the Canadian political discourse really needs is some of the American Right's eliminationist rhetoric.

Domestic Violence isn't Crime?

Quote of the Day:
"I'm kind of watching with interest the pro argument (for the Gun Registry) that's being made. It doesn't even have to do with stopping crime in the sense of criminal activity. It has to do with domestic violence and suicide." - MP Candace Hoeppner
So a husband abusing his wife or threatening her with a long gun isn't crime to these people - not even one of those phantom 'unreported' crimes the Conservatives justify billions on new prisons with.

Today's Irony Moment

Atheists and Agnostics understand religion better than believers:
Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion.

How much do you know about religion? Try answering a sampling of questions asked in a phone survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Researchers from the independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life phoned more than 3,400 Americans and asked them 32 questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions, famous religious figures and the constitutional principles governing religion in public life.

On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.

Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.

“Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account, atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons still outperform all the other religious groups in our survey,” said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew.

That finding might surprise some, but not Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, an advocacy group for nonbelievers that was founded by Madalyn Murray O’Hair.

“I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people,” Mr. Silverman said. “Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That’s how you make atheists.”

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Linkblast - Sept 26

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Attacking the Census

The same motive in every country it's happening:
Politicians are trying to kill the census in hopes of gaining an electoral advantage -- by wiping millions of opposition voters off the official rolls. There's nothing ideological going on; it's not a matter of economy or privacy or morality. (Indeed, if the roles were reversed and the undercounted leaned to the right, it's a very good bet that Labour and the Democrats would be the ones trying to kill the census.) It's merely a political dirty trick, a sleazy campaign to use phony numbers to rewrite reality. But it strikes at the heart of how our democracy -- and democracies around the world -- function. And once these censuses are dismantled, there will be no going back.

Why's he picking on us?

Shorter blogging wingnuts:
How dare that nasty George Soros fight back when people spread despicable slander and libel about him? What gives him the right to defend himself?!?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How Cool was Johnny Cash?

So cool that even when he's being backed by muppets he's badass.

Bob Hawkesworth for Mayor

This blog doesn't offer a lot of endorsements, but this is the first time in years that I've been enthusiastic about voting FOR someone inspiring in a Calgary election rather than just AGAINST someone horrifying.

Though there are a few of the latter this year too, I'm looking at you Ric McIver and Craig Burrows.

Bob Hawkesworth has been an elected official for 30 years, both as a city councillor and a stint as a provincial MLA. He served for three years as President of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association. He couldn't play the oh so tedious 'outsider' pose so popular with wannabe populists if he wanted to and isn't trying. Experience is a plus for everything else, why should it be considered an automatic negative in politics?

Hawkesworth has opposed expensive boondoggles like an unnecessary airport tunnel supported by the so-called 'fiscally responsible' right wingers vying for the mayoral job and has firmly supported keeping the city's ownership of the local utility company (Disclosure: I work there.). On development, poverty, spending, sustainability and the environment he has a history and a platform of smart, quietly competent progressive pragmatism.

I look forward to casting my vote for him.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Return of the Hospital Gulag?

It's the old Soviet model: Opposition to the State is by definition, insane. Therefore the proper place for political dissidents is jail or mental hospitals receiving... treatment.

Welcome to Canada in 2010:

Murray Dobbin writes about The BC Attorney General's argument for why a non-violent environmental protester should be imprisoned practically indefinitely:
"When an accused has been convicted of a serious crime in itself calling for a substantial sentence and when he suffers from some mental or personality disorder rendering him a danger to the community but not subjecting him to confinement in a mental institution and when it is uncertain when, if ever, the accused will be cured of his affliction, in my opinion the appropriate sentence is one of life."

The implications are unnerving. If you are someone prepared to fight for social justice or environmental stewardship the courts could start treating you as someone with a mental disorder that needs to be (forcibly?) cured. In short, democratic activism by citizens will be seen as pathological.

(There is a rally in support of Betty Krawczyk at Criminal and Appeals Court, 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver, B.C. at 9:30 on Sept 22nd.)

Within hours of hearing about this draconian government assault on civil liberties, I got a link to a story about some planned additions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in the U.S. If that title doesn't scare you just on its own, one of the additions to the definition of crazy should.

According to Mark Nestmann -- on his financial advice blog -- one of the new mental illnesses is:

" ...‘oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).' DSM defines ODD as ‘an ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior toward authority figures.' Symptoms include losing one's temper, annoying people and being ‘touchy.'

While diagnosis of ODD "victims" focuses on children, there's no reason why ODD can't exist in adults. Indeed, ODD can evolve into "conduct disorder" (CD), which DSM defines as ‘wherein the rights of others or social norms are violated."

As Nestmann points out there is a long and sordid history of the state using psychiatry for political repression. First they tried to brand political activists as terrorists following 9/11. Now we are mentally unbalanced. What's next?

To my mind 'hostile disobedience' is virtually the definition of adolescence, but soon it might be considered a mental illness that can be used to justify imprisonment or enforced treatment - for youth or adults.

If this doesn't scare the crap out of you, you have ice-water flowing through your veins Batman.

UPDATE: Become a 'troublemaker' to the government and your private medical and psychiatric records will be circulated widely among bureaucrats and government officials dealing with you.

Ah, the scent of smoking martyr...

'I'm a victim of an onslaught for daring to take on the bad guys! Pity me! Pitttttyyyyyyyy meeeeee!'

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner

Ethical?

Oh look, the title of Ezra's new work of fiction 'Ethical Oil' is now also an Alberta Wildrose Alliance talking point from Ezra's fellow Fraser Institute alum and Alliance leader, Danielle Smith.

Subtle synergy there, guys. But does Smith really want her party platform to be associated with someone who's honesty, and journalistic responsibility have just been utterly repudiated by his employer?

Friday, September 17, 2010

At the stroke of Midnight the Sun turned into a pumpkin

Dateline, exactly one minute after midnight, Saturday Sept. 18. Let the groveling commence:

Retraction and apology to George Soros

September 18, 2010 12:01am

On September 5, 2010, a column by Ezra Levant contained false statements about George Soros and his conduct as a young teenager in Nazi-occupied Hungary.

Upon receiving a letter of complaint from Mr. Soros’s legal counsel on September 13, 2010, Sun Media Corporation always intended to publish a retraction and apology for this column. Despite constant efforts on both sides, Sun Media and Mr. Soros’s counsel were unable to reach agreement on the content of a retraction.

The management of Sun Media wishes to state that there is no basis for the statements in the column and they should not have been made.

Sun Media, this newspaper and Ezra Levant retract the statements made in the column and unreservedly apologize to Mr. Soros for the distress and harm this column may have caused to him.

Translation: "Please sir, have mercy, don't sue us into greasy stains."

I sincerely hope that the apology is not accepted and Soros' lawyers administer the kind of punishment that makes grown hatemongers and Quebecor executives cry like little children.

If anything calls for Schadenfreude...

...its the prospect of Ezra Levant getting raked over the coals in a libel and defamation suit by George Soros and ending up living in a refrigerator box.
Billionaire George Soros is threatening to sue the Sun Media chain over a column penned by a conservative gadfly expected to play a key role in the media giant’s Sun TV venture.
Soros spokesman Michael Vachon said the chair of Soros Fund Management was deeply upset by a early September Sun Media column by right-wing activist and author Ezra Levant.
In the piece, which has since been removed from Sun chain news websites, Mr. Levant offered his opinion of how Mr. Soros, a Hungarian Jew born in 1930, survived the Nazis.
Mr. Vachon said Sun Media was notified of Mr. Soros’s reaction earlier this week.
“It made false, defamatory and offensive statements and as a result Mr. Soros has notified the relevant parties of his intent to sue,” he said.
“What is of concern in the article are the false assertions that Mr. Levant makes regarding George Soros’s conduct as a 13-year-old child in Nazi-occupied Hungary.”

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kory Quits

One day after Avaaz asked the RCMP and Ottawa Police to investigate acts of sabotage and identity theft that Kory Tenycke wrote about simultaneously as they occurred, Tenycke has publicly resigned as the point man for Quebecor/Sun Media's 'Fox News North' plan.

You are encouraged not to draw any obvious conclusions.

The myth of the pampered public sector worker

In both the US and Canada its an article of faith among the political right that public sector workers are a coddled, overpaid, over unionized group with a huge and unfair advantage over their private sector counterparts in wages and benefits. Disregarding for a moment, the question of whether such a divide should lead to raising the standards of the private sector workers rather than lowering them for public ones, do the numbers back up the premise at all?

And the answer, not too surprisingly, is that in both Canada and the US this is nothing more than a myth.

It's a myth deliberately promulgated and promoted by right wing 'pro business' groups like the CFIB, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, who incessantly trumpet shoddy studies claiming there is a huge divide in wage and benefits between government workers and private sector workers. They've been repeatedly shown to use deceptive, even imaginary numbers. They fail to account for higher education requirements for many public sector positions, wage equity laws that require equal pay and benefits for men and women and also compare all public sector workers with all private sector workers - rather than unionized public workers with unionized private sector workers. Drilling down shows that they are comparing the wages and benefits for public sector professionals like doctors or technicians with a range of private sector employees that includes minimum wage waitresses and cashiers

When these factors are added to the calculations the disparity vanishes - in fact in managerial positions the disparity is reversed.

These false numbers have been promoted so often though, that they are uncritically reported and the false assumptions about a huge, unfair gap is treated as a given by the pro-business media in a transparent attempt to drive a wedge between workers, defend right wing governments facing public sector labor negotiations and promote an ideal of a low wage service economy for all.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kory Teneycke is going to have some 'splaining to do

Kady O'Malley reports that Avaaz has formally asked both the RCMP and the Ottawa Police to investigate the dirty tricks against their Anti-Sun News Network petition. These were the attempts to game and discredit the poll that Kory Tenycke reported in his column blasting Margaret Atwood for signing the petition. The problem was that he only knew she had signed it because she revealed she had as the petition doesn't list names publicly. The fake names signed to the petition that Teneyke reported were added to the petition almost simultaneous with him writing his column and he subsequently admitted they had been added by a 'source' who contacted him to chortle about what he had done.

Avaaz claim that the same IP address that signed up fictional characters to the petition also signed up real people, including members of the Hill press corp, which Teneycke says his 'source' denies. If proven however, this would take this matter past dirty tricks and into the legally far more serious category of identity theft.

Either way this whole matter gives us an excellent model of what to expect in the way of journalistic responsibility from the nascent Quebecor/Sun news channel.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The two most competitive economies on Earth are socialist

(RTTNews) - The United States fell to fourth position from second in the global competitive ranking, the Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011, released on Thursday by the World Economic Forum showed. Switzerland topped the list, followed by Sweden and Singapore.

Both Switzerland and Sweden are Social Democracies with extensive state involvement in the economy, dominant leftist parties, cradle to grave social safety nets and rich, comfortable and happy populations with more personal freedoms and rights protections then most aggressively capitalist countries.

When will people stop believing the disastrous myth that right wingers are the ones who are good for the economy?

Update, from my friend Anup the actual detailed rankings. (PDF)

We're number ten! Wooo!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Another kick at the nut

Final thought on Ezra Levant's George Soros ugliness:
If George Soros was a big money backer of the political right rather than the political left, Ezra Levant would be first in line to call anybody who questioned how Soros survived the Holocaust a despicable antisemite. His use of the accusation is first, last and always a partisan exercise.

More of the famous efficiency and savings from private healthcare

David Eggen points out the irony of the supposedly staunchly pro free market Alberta Wildrose Alliance calling for a taxpayer bailout of a bloated and failed private healthcare experiment.
The bankruptcy and bailout of Health Resource Centre (HRC) gives Albertans a rare peek at how private, forprofit delivery of healthcare services actually works -- or, in fact, does not work.
For the first time, court documents and reports from the interim receiver have shone a light on the inner dealings of HRC, giving taxpayers a glimpse of the real cost and real risks of forprofit care.
Let's consider the facts as we know them so far. The HRC senior management team are paying themselves very well on the taxpayers' tab.
The interim receiver's report shows that Alberta Health Services (AHS) views the pay packages for HRC's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Stephen Miller and HRC's other two executives as "excessive," and have requested that the senior management team revise its compensation.
According to the court documents, "other than an offer from one of the management team to eliminate his car allowance, no proposal has been received." In other words, the HRC executives want taxpayers to cover their high salaries. That's a government handout, not an invisible hand.
We now know that, in addition to almost $3 million in receiver costs, rent and secured debt, Networc Health, the parent company of HRC, racked up at least $8.4 million in unsecured debt. It owes money to everyone from coffee suppliers to the Workers' Compensation Board.
Taxpayers are also on the hook for a whopping $1.4 million in legal costs. Clearly, HRC expects that Albertans will pay for their shareholder and corporate restructuring in the wake of their financial boondoggles.
When Albertans contracted HRC to conduct orthopedic surgeries, they did not expect to pay for expensive lawyers to re-structure a private contractor.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Poster Company for Private Sector Healthcare

California regulators are seeking fines of up to $9.9 billion from health insurer PacifiCare over allegations that it repeatedly mismanaged medical claims, lost thousands of patient documents, failed to pay doctors what they were owed and ignored calls to fix the problems.

In court filings and other documents, the California Department of Insurance says PacifiCare violated state law nearly 1 million times from 2006 to 2008 after it was purchased by UnitedHealth Group Inc., the nation's largest health insurance company by revenue.

Regulators said the companies broke promises to maintain smooth operations for 130,000 of PacifiCare's customers, resulting in what insurance officials nationwide believe is the largest fine ever sought against a U.S. health insurer.

"This is about intentional disregard for the interests of doctors, hospitals and patients in California, and the pursuit of cutting costs at any means possible," said Adam Cole, the insurance department's general counsel. "It's a story of intense corporate greed."

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Unforgiven

When George Soros was a 14 year old boy he was hiding from the Nazis. Some Jewish children in Eastern Europe were hiding under floors or sleeping rough in the woods. George Soros, via his father got a physically more comfortable hiding place as the supposed Christian godson of a Hungarian government official. As part of the impersonation he joined the official in his rounds confiscating the possessions of Jews.

A lot of figures on the political right, most recently the always delightful Ezra Levant, have chosen to make political hay about these facts and a 60 Minutes interview with Soros, where he stumbles when asked about the era. This would be because the idea of a billionaire spending money to support a liberal left agenda rather than the far more traditional hard right one makes them want to throw up their souls.

To me the interview reveals someone who had created a distance in childhood from the guilt of what he saw while surviving:
KROFT: My understanding is that you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.

Mr. SOROS: Yes. Yes.

KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.

Mr. SOROS: Yes. That's right. Yes.

KROFT: I mean, that's -- that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?

Mr. SOROS: Not -- not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don't -- you don't see the connection. But it was -- it created no -- no problem at all.

KROFT: No feeling of guilt?

Mr. SOROS: No.

KROFT: For example that, 'I'm Jewish and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be there. I should be there.' None of that?

Mr. SOROS: Well, of course I c -- I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn't be there, because that was -- well, actually, in a funny way, it's just like in markets -- that if I weren't there -- of course, I wasn't doing it, but somebody else would -- would -- would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the -- whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the -- I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.
Making something a scared 14 year old was forced to see over 70 years ago in order to survive while his people were being exterminated all around him some kind of litmus test against anyone who declines to condemn him seems the height of moralistic hubris.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Turn It Up!

Inescapable Conclusions.

Kory Teneycke appears to have dug a gigantic hole, filled it with shit and dived in nose deep.

If, as the indispensable Kady O'Malley reports, Avaaz.org link both the identity theft of Hill journalists and the fictional characters Teneycke claimed his source admitted to signing up to the same IP address than at the very least Teneycke is an accessory after the fact to the unethical act of poll manipulation and the crime of identity theft.

Assuming of course, that his use of 'my source' doesn't here translate as 'me, on too many tequila shots' in which case it's more like eye deep.

Someday...

...when the elites currently rattling sabers look back at a gigantic disaster in the rear-view mirror again and once again claim that 'no one could have known that attacking Iran would be such an utter disaster, so they should still be respected as wise experts on foreign policy' ... come back and re-read this New York Times article explaining why attacking Iran would be an act of criminal insanity.

Iran is not Syria, with no immediate capacity to retaliate against a surprise attack on its nuclear sites. Iran is a country of 70 million people, and its commanders, battle-hardened by a brutal eight-year stand-off with Iraq, have the ability and will to engage in a long, protracted war against Israel and American interests. Iran maintains a large military equipped with Russian-made weapons systems, surface-to-surface missiles, combat aircraft, unmanned drones and high-speed torpedo boats capable of destroying large warships.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard has extended its reach from southern Lebanon to South America and maintains proxy forces — again, Hezbollah and Hamas — positioned in Israel’s back yard. They’ll force Israel to fight a war of attrition on multiple fronts.

Israel would likely be compelled to extend its military operations to include Lebanon. That would instantly plunge the entire region into war, likely bring a new intifada onto Jerusalem’s streets and place enormous pressure on leaders in Cairo and Amman to renounce their peace treaties with Israel. If Israeli planes use Saudi airspace, Iran has threatened to attack the kingdom, too.

The United States, for its part, could forget about the withdrawal of its forces from Iraq and the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. There are up to 30,000 Iranian operatives in Iraq ready to do Iran’s bidding. And Iran enjoys significant loyalty from Afghan officials and warlords, particularly those in the trouble-prone region of Herat.

Iran has repeatedly said that it would, in the case of an attack, shut down the Strait of Hormuz, through which roughly 17 million barrels of oil pass every day, spiking oil prices and devastating America’s financial recovery.

All of this could engender a serious diplomatic crisis between the United States and Russia — respectively Israel’s and Iran’s patrons — at a time when U.S.-Russian relations are improving.

Netanyahu says Iran is led by “a messianic apocalyptic cult” and that failure to attack is appeasement. But surely not every year is 1938, not every statesman who fears the nemesis of war is Chamberlain.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Heh.

Salon's Labour Day review of 'Alien':
What happens when you put the financial well-being of a company ahead of rational self-interest? You end up flat on your back in an operating room with a giant lobster creature on your face and a razor-toothed eel gestating in your belly. Happy Labor Day!

How dare she?

Kory Teneycke and the usual suspects in the Canadian wingnotosphere are very indignant that Margartet Atwood added her name to a petition opposing Quebecor/Sun Media's proposed new right wing news channel.

They are most incensed by a reference in the petition to 'hate speech', a term the petition never uses, referring instead to “the kind of hate-filled propaganda with which Fox News has poisoned U.S. politics." I encourage those who question this description of Fox News' content to browse the website of Media Matters, a site that monitors what goes on in the right wing American media. The unambiguous examples of hate filled propaganda on Fox news are virtually endless.

As to Sun Media's use of hate propaganda, arguably shading over to hate speech, I refer you to the 'lock and load' editorial in the Toronto Sun of Aug 18:
If the MV Sun Sea were carrying 500 "migrants" from Afghanistan, home base for the Taliban and al-Qaeda, would we be allowing it to enter Canadian waters, or would we put firing a shot over the bow with a message that the next would be midships?
Lock and load would be our approach.
And this case is no exception..
If calling for the mass murder of traumatized refugees doesn't qualify as hate speech we may need to redefine the term.

Atwood herself says she doesn't object to the potential content of the new channel as much as the perception of PMO interference in the approval process for it:
Of course Fox & Co. can set up a channel or whatever they want to do, if it's legal etc.,” she told The Globe and Mail in an email. “But it shouldn't happen this way. It's like the head-of-census affair – gov't direct meddling in affairs that are supposed to be arm's length – so do what they say or they fire you.
“It's part of the ‘I make the rules around here,’ Harper-is-a-king thing,” she wrote.
Teneycke indignantly denies any linkage with the American version: "Fox, and its parent company Newscorp, are not owners of this channel, nor are they involved in its development. " He also denies that Quebecor asked for preferential 'must offer' status for the new channel and the PMO has repeatedly denied any interference in the process of the channel's approval.

But consider the Timeline:
My guess is it's pretty easy to arrange lunch with the Prime Minister. No doubt Stephen Harper often lunches with labour leaders and advocates for the homeless.
So it should be considered no big deal that, among those the PM has lunched with, is U.S. media billionaire Rupert Murdoch, who has probably done more than any single individual in recent years to push American politics sharply to the right.
It's interesting to imagine, however, why our Prime Minister would want to meet with Murdoch, whose Fox News TV channel has poisoned U.S. political debate and nurtured America's extremist right-wing Tea Party movement.
If you subscribe to the notion that Harper has no particular political agenda, his lunch with Murdoch in March 2009 might seem harmless, perhaps a purely social affair.
But the evidence suggests they were discussing plans to transform the Canadian political landscape by creating a right-wing, Fox-style TV station in Canada. Present at the lunch was Fox News president Roger Ailes, known for bringing cutthroat Republican campaign tactics to the screen. (Ailes designed the infamous race-baiting Willie Horton commercials that brought George H.W. Bush to power.)
Also present at the lunch was Harper aide Kory Teneycke, who has since become the front man in the bid by Quebec media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau to get a specialty TV licence for a Fox News-style network in Canada.
Then there's the fact that the lunch, during an official Harper visit to New York, was kept secret -- until being unearthed recently by Canadian Press reporter Bruce Cheadle.
Harper also met twice in early 2009 with Peladeau, according to Cheadle.
Ian Morrison, of the group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, says "all the information I have suggests that Harper has taken a personal interest in this matter."
And reports that Harper seeks to insert himself in the approval process persist, with claims that he is actively trying to ease out both the current chairman of the CRTC Konrad von Finckenstein and CRTC vice-chair Michel Arpin who asked to stay on and had his request refused. This government's well established reputation of political interference in and contempt for the very concept of arms length agencies make it's reflexive denials of interference almost completely lacking in credibility.

As to Teneycke's fierce denial that Quebecor is seeking preferential access for its new channel, this appears to be nothing more nor less than a bald-faced lie:
On Wednesday, Quebecor Inc. (QBR.B-T34.590.561.65%) application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission was made public. The application, filed in July, was the company’s second attempt to win a licence for the channel after its request for a rare must-carry licence, guaranteeing distribution to all cable and satellite customers, was rejected.
This time, Quebecor has asked for a run-of-the-mill Category 2 specialty licence – but with a twist: It wants “mandatory access,” meaning the channel would not necessarily be carried on basic cable but would have to be offered on at least one tier or package by each distributor. This means creating essentially a new category of specialty channel.
Another propagandist once said that 'If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it', Teneycke appears to have taken this lesson to heart.

UPDATE: Margaret Atwood muses on signing petitions and remembers the time she signed one against attacking Iraq leading The Globe and Mail's Margaret Wente to make up false quotes Atwood never said at a meeting she never attended.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Circus Arrives?

The most terrifying line in the excellent and hard hitting Vanity Fair profile of Sarah Palin comes from blogger Shannyn Moore the only Alaska based journalist still covering the Sarah Palin beat regularly:
Moore, a green-eyed blonde who, like Palin, was once an Alaska beauty queen, albeit a few stripes more self-aware, drives her Subaru through downtown Anchorage, steering with one hand, holding a cigarette and her smartphone in the other. When Devon calls to tell her that Glenn Beck has booked the Dena’ina Center, the largest venue in Anchorage, for a speech on September 11, 2010, she sits bolt upright and yells. Immediately, they start trying to figure out what the news might mean. “Listen, listen, listen: Why in the world do you imagine Glenn Beck would come to Anchorage on 9/11? You think he might have a special guest? With a special announcement? Oh,” she says, her whole face falling as the implications of a Palin campaign kickoff hit her, “Jesus Christ.”

How the Hell did this happen?

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