Saturday, December 30, 2006

Is it rude to point out...

...that Saddam was executed for crimes he committed while he was a US ally?
As the great Bill Hicks of sainted memory put it:

"How did we know Saddam had weapons of mass destruction?
Um... we checked the receipt."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry, Merry

aaaaaaaaand my vacation starts...... now.

I'll be gone for about a week folks hanging with the family unit. I'll have my laptop and internet access, but I seriously doubt I'll be posting again till New Years eve.

Happy Saturnalia folks, catch you on the flip side.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bill O'Reilly declares war on 8 year old

OK, First watch this:

Mildly amusing little band promo featuring a young paid actress dissing O'Reilly and organized religion. The rational response would be to laugh it off, right? Let's watch how Bill reacts:

Geeeeeeeez-uz........ Bill responds to any attack, even by an 8 year old by having the fits, the shits and the blind staggers.

Really, does it even need to be pointed out how crazed and irrational this response is? It's so batshit insane to suggest that the parents of this child are abusing her, that even The Western Standard agrees with Bill. You know you're crazy when the nutbars at Right-Wing Psychos 'R Us are on your side.

Plus the Nancy Grace stand-in Bill has serving as his one woman craziness echo chamber (What is a 'Child Advocate' anyway? Somehow I doubt it says that on her tax return.), crosses the line so far it isn't even visible behind her when she calls for the girl's parents to be reported to social services and shunned by their neighbors.

Seriously folks, sue. Fox has big pockets.

The biggest insult however, is when Bill dismisses the little girl as obviously not being able to understand what she's being 'forced' to say. Uh Bill, maybe you needed to be held back when you were eight, but at that age I wouldn't have had any trouble understanding a single word of what this little girl is saying - I doubt too many of you reading this would have either - wellll... I suppose I might get some trackbacks from Western Standard readers, maybe I shouldn't make any assumptions about their intellectual development even now....

The most obvious point to be learned from all this? I really wanna check out the Bastardfairies music now...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Fletcher Memorial Home

Pink Floyd
In honour of the recently departed Augusto Pinochet.
"Did they expect us to treat them with any respect?"

Conservatives VS. Farmers

In the marketplace of ideas 'Wheat Board bad' requires massive government subsidization and suppression of opposing points of views in order to survive. Hence the millions spent on undermining the farmer controlled organization over the years by Alberta's Conservative provincial government and the firing of the Wheat Board's President this week by the federal Conservative government for the unspeakable crime of following the lead of farmer elected members of the board and supporting the existence of the organization he headed.

Board President Adrian Measner was fired from his position days after farmers reaffirmed their support for the single desk model by electing pro-monopoly candidates to four out of five positions - this despite government voter suppression. The Harper government knows a majority of wheat farmers support the board which is why they refuse to hold the vote by farmers required to dismantle it while simultaneously hedging their bets by purging Wheat Board voting rolls of single desk supporters. The government justifies the purge by claiming they are trying to remove those who haven't marketed grain in years - included in the purge are likely single desk supporters in Manitoba still recovering from massive flood damage to their fields.

Along with a majority of wheat farmers, the Board's single desk model is supported by the government's of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, all of the federal opposition parties, The National Farmers Union and the National Union of Public and General Employees.

Opponents of the Board's single desk model include southern Alberta farmers who own big trucks and live just across the border from the lucrative US market, front organizations for the Alberta provincial government and big agribusiness corporations and the governments of the United States and the European Union who believe the Board's monopoly gives Canadian farmers an unfair advantage on the global market.

Harper's government claims that all they want is for farmers to have the choice to use the Wheat Board or not, but multiple studies including the oblique conclusions of studies by the anti-monopoly Alberta government clearly indicate that a Wheat Board without single desk marketing would depend on it's competitors for survival and would quickly cease to exist. The inescapable conclusion is that the end of the Wheat Board would mean that family farms would suffer and big agribusiness would flourish.

Harper's Conservatives came to power rightfully decrying the anti-democratic Liberals. Their own anti-democratic tendencies are apparent by now, but are starkest in their all out assault on an organization that is supposed to be run by and for farmers.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

AIDS Workers Death sentence in Libya

After torture, suicide attempts, broken bones and a kangaroo court show trial based heavily on confessions forced with beatings and electric shocks, six foreign medical workers were found guilty of deliberately infecting hundreds of children with AIDS in Libya.

Never mind that the six Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor re-canted their confessions and the outbreak started before they even arrived. Letting them go would be admitting that hospitals in Libya are so filthy and unprofessional that something like this could happen independently of anyone making it happen.

The Bulgarian government denounced the verdict but won't pay blood money to the children's families which might allow the sentences to be commuted through the Libyan system of blood debt. They say it would constitute an admission of guilt. The Palestinian government is too busy collapsing into bloody civil war to protect it's doctor.

The US is trying to influence the outcome by financing the medical care for the victims, but Ghadaffi's rule is precarious in the region this happened in and he may feel like he can't risk releasing the health workers.

But Libya is on-side in the fight against terror, so that's all right.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Waiting For the World to Change

John Mayer

Sunday Link Blast - December 17

Blind Boys Of Alabama - Amazing Grace

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Post-Abundance Era

The future, for the first time in centuries will now be defined by having less than previous generations did.

Found at Crooks and Liars:

Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, foreign policy analysts have struggled to find a term to characterize the epoch we now inhabit. Although the "Post-Cold War Era" has been the reigning expression, this label now sounds dated and no longer does justice to the particular characteristics of the current period. Others have spoken of the "Post-9/11 Era," as if the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were defining moments for the entire world. But this image no longer possesses the power it once wielded -- even in the United States.

I propose instead another term that better captures the defining characteristics of the current period: the Post-Abundance Era.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rabbit Fire

Rabbit Season!
Duck Season!

My favorite piece of cartoon schtick.

Paddling to the North Pole

Arctic sea-ice retreat is likely to accelerate so rapidly that the Arctic Ocean will be nearly ice- free by the summer by 2040, atmospheric scientists said.

You realize that even if this happens the deniers will still refuse to concede the existence of Global Warming right? Religious thinking, even religious devotion to the Market Über alles is immune to reality.

At some point we need to stop humoring those claiming we shouldn't be doing anything about global warming because there's still a debate about it's existence - maybe we should do it before the coastline cities are underwater?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Why Left Wing Liberals should vote NDP

Idealistic Pragmatist responds to a Tyee article asking why people should vote NDP if Dion presents an acceptably left leaning platform.

Pragmatist responds seriously and in depth - boiling it down, I'd say her most important point is that When Liberals get majority governments, they don't keep their promises. I don't think even most Liberals can deny this with a straight face.

Again and again we've seen them campaign to the left and govern to the right. Make grand promises and then become blandly forgetful in the security of a majority.

If you're a Liberal who actually believes in the ideals of Liberalism more than you believe that the Liberal Party should be in power simply because they deserve to be, you should be hoping for a minority Liberal government after the next election. Hopefully a more realistic one than Paul Martin's.

Liberals always talk a good progressive game and then when they win a majority the interests of ordinary Canadians take a back seat to the interests of Bay Street.

Harper's Tories deserve to lose the next election, but the Liberals don't deserve to win. Not without needing the help of the NDP to govern.

Pinochet and his right wing enablers

If there is a Hell, General Augusto Pinochet is burning there as we speak. After coming to power in an American supported military coup against a democratically elected leftist government he held power with torture, death squads and mass murder. And the unstinting support of right wingers in Britain and the U.S. Margaret Thatcher called him one of Britain's greatest friends and harshly condemned any and all attempts to bring him to account for his crimes.

Alberta's own demagogue Premier Ralph Klein claimed that Pinochet had saved Chile and that the elected government of Salvador Allende forced him to take over with their socialistic ways.

But it's OK, he justified his comments by pulling out an old school paper - that was kind of plagiarised, but oh well.

When right-wingers speak of their overwhelming reverence for democracy, Pinochet and his right wing fan club - who still minimize his crimes and defend his record even now - are worth remembering.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Stick a fork in it.

An open letter to Canada's homophobe community:

The vote - the third vote - is over. The debate is now over. The Canadian public gets more tolerant and less interested in catering to those dealing with their own sexual issues by hating gays every year. If you couldn't win this fight today with a Conservative government - you never will.

Stephen Harper can stop taking the religious right's calls and, respectfully, those wanting to ever re-open this stupid, divisive, bigoted debate again can have a steaming cup of
Shut the FUCK up.

You lost. Deal.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas toys, the REAL Worst

W.A.T.C.H is World Against Toys Causing Harm, Incorporated no less. They have a dull and worthily pessimistic annual list of the most dangerous toys for sale.

Their list is a little anemic this year, aside from a cheap rocket I would have dearly loved to practice controlled mayhem with at 12. Otherwise the list comes off as nannyish and occasionally preachy. I think Wheelies are brilliant for instance. I would have loved a pair as a kid. Their standards here seem like they would have meant no skateboards or rollerskates or Weebles.

A certain amount of physical risk is kind of inherent to childhood.

The real worst toys sink to new levels of mind-blowing awfulness and cluelessness that has to be seen to believed. For example, McFarlane's Humpty Dumpty. Granted its more intended for the adult toy collector, but it's grotesque and unpleasant no matter who the intended audience.

Then there's this mind-blowing example of unlimited cluelssness to marvel at:

But nothing can beat the soul-searing awfulness of this. The toy you give to the child you hate.

Terrorist Plot to Blow Up U.S. Congress with nerve gas briefcase bomb.

Why haven't you heard about this? The terrorist isn't Muslim.

God's Gonna Cut You Down

Johnny Cash again - featuring some of his biggest fans

Sunday Link Blast - December 3

The Day of the Quiet Man

First Dion, now Stelmach.

It's been a day for the quiet, inoffensive gray insider as Stelmach seems to have driven right up the middle in the Alberta Tory leadership race. He and Dion will have a lot to talk about if, as expected he sweeps the second choice on all of Morton's ballots.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

If You Want To Sing Out

From the great movie Harold and Maude and sung by Cat Stevens

Tories to Liberal delegates: Suuuuuuckers!

Interesting open admission of dirty tricks - I think they may have out-smarted themseves though.

That's the Ball Game...

Start getting comfortable with the words 'Prime Minister Dion'.

The first time as tragedy, the second time...still tragedy.

The best piece I've read about Afghanistan was published in the Globe and Mail on Thursday:

I was born in Russia, drafted into the Soviet army at 18 and sent to Afghanistan in the 1980s. Attending Andrew's funeral, I stood with one foot in the present and one in the past. I remembered my Russian friends, living and dead. Friends like Andrei, who lost his legs in Kandahar near the road on which Andrew would die two decades later. I also remembered the suffering we visited on the people of that country.

I identified with the Canadian soldiers at the funeral mourning the loss of their friend. Like them, I went to Afghanistan believing in "fighting terrorism" and "liberating Afghans." During my first mission, we were protecting refugees escaping an area that was under attack by the mujahedeen. I was deeply affected by their misery, and by the poverty and suffering of the Afghan people in general. In my mind, our presence was "helping Afghans," particularly with educating women and children. My combat unit participated in "humanitarian aid" -- accompanying doctors and delivering food, fuel, clothing, school and other supplies to Afghan villages.

It was only later that I began to wonder: Did that aid justify our aggression?

It's re-printed here if they decide to put it behind a pay wall.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Abortion pill possible breast cancer cure?

And the religious right's incredibly shitty year gets even worse...

Right Wing and Right Wingier

Shannon Phillips does an excellent analysis in Vue of the real differences between Dinning and Morton and what both would likely do in power.

The Coming American Progressive Majority

Sidney Blumenthal makes an extremely convincing argument for an overwhelming pendulum swing to progressive politics coming.
While voters under 30 were the most favorable age group in 2004 for Kerry, casting 54 percent of their votes for him, Democratic House candidates in 2006 received 60 percent of their votes, compared with 38 percent for Republicans. Nationally, partisan identification breaks 38 percent Democratic to 35 percent Republican, but among those under age 30 the percentages are 43 to 31 in favor of Democrats. This pattern runs as strongly in the West as in the East, the Midwest and the Pacific states, a clear indication that the Western states are heading out of the Republican camp -- out of alliance with the deep South's Republican states and into coalition with the broad majority. In Wyoming and Arizona, where Republicans won elections for the House and Senate, the Democrats would have won by 16 and 15 points, respectively, if the elections had been conducted only among under-30s. In Montana, where Democrat Jon Tester won by 1 percentage point, fewer than 3,000 votes, his margin among under-30s, who were 17 percent of the electorate, was 12 points.

Bush has been the formative political experience for the youngest generation of voters, those 18 to 30. Studies of voting preferences show that the experience imprinted on a generation in its 20s largely determines its future political complexion. This generation is the most Democratic generation ever -- more Democratic than the youngest voting generations of the New Deal and the 1960s.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My Endorsement: Ted Morton

Do it Alberta Tories, go ahead, pick Ted Morton. Please.

Morton and his supporters have made the classic right wing mistake of overestimating the conservatism of the voting public. At least Canadians in points east have the excuse of distance for believing that Alberta is a monolithic block of right wing religious extremists. Those who actually live here mostly know that the overwhelming mainstream consensus is center right - with the emphasis on the center. Albertans are fiscal conservatives, or think they are - with pockets of class war populism in Redmonton, and an overwhelming majority of social moderates and progressives in urban areas. As one appalled Tory back-bencher said, this is Alberta not Alabama.

There's a strong strain of social conservatism in some parts of rural Alberta yes, but simple demographics are changing that inexorably and visibly. I've lived in Alberta - both rural and urban Alberta almost my entire life. I can count the number of Albertans under thirty I've encountered who give a tinkers damn about gay rights or abortion on one hand with a finger left over for Morton and his supporters - you can probably guess which one. The future of Alberta like that of the rest of Canada is young and urban.

They're largely an apathetic bunch, but crazy Ted and his focus on division, intolerance and absolutism would fire them up nicely.

Alberta's every thirty or forty years of switching the party in the one party state is a well known political phenomenon - less well known or at least less well acknowledged is that last time it happened, it was a progressive alternative trouncing an entrenched reactionary government. Lougheed's Progressive Conservatives were practically Liberals compared to the far right Social Credit government they replaced.

I support Ted Morton for leader of the Alberta PCs for the same reason I loved Stockwell Day's tenure leading the Alliance: he will kill his party stone dead. It's the first time I've ever agreed with Gary Mar about anything, but he happens to be 100% right about the damage Morton would do to the Tories.

The moderate and progressive vote would go to the Liberals and New Democrats - the corporate money would too.

Liberals and particularly New Democrats in Alberta should however, take careful note of the strong note of economic populism in Morton's campaign. The support he's garnered is as much to do with anti-elitist backlash, his angry slams against 'Calgary corporate lackeys' and Morton's one decent idea of re-addressing Alberta's resource royalty regime as his appeals to intolerance and bigotry.

New Democrats and other opponents of the Tories need to embrace the class war themselves. The success of the self described 'only conservative in the Conservative leadership race' and for that matter the economic populists among the Democrats swept into office this month south of the border have made it clear there are serious gains to be made in doing so.

And my final reason for my modest proposal of support for Snortin' Morton? Nothing spurs me to write more than intolerance, selfishness, cruelty, willful ignorance, and legislative appeals to the lowest common denominator.

With Morton in charge I'd be blogging every day.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Citizen Asper goes to the CRTC:

"Hi, I blew a flipping great wad of cash on some crappy newspapers a few years ago. Now I'm swimming in debt and hemorrhaging funds hand over fist. Could you bail me out with a shameless cash grab from Canadian cable customers? Thanks a bunch."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Takin' Care of Business

Canada has three national Anthems: O Canada, the Hockey Night in Canada theme music and this DOA covered BTO classic.
Talk - Action = Zero

Sunday Link Blast Nov 26

Death of American Movement Conservatism in 2008?

Even before the midterm two weeks ago, 2008 was always going to be problematic for the Republicans.

In the Congress the Republicans have to beat more than 14 Democratic incumbents to re-take the House in 2008 - they didn't beat even one this election. In the Senate 22 Republicans are up for re-election in 2008 while only 12 Democrats are - experts agree only a handful of House seats from either party are at all competitive. The Democrats will almost certainly hold the Senate and likely firm up their control, and the same result is probable in the House. This is simply electoral math not even counting what seems to be a strong and growing progressive shift in the American electorate that is likely to swing things even further to the Democrats.

Of course the Presidential race is the wild card - Bush is languishing in the polls but neither he nor his VP are candidates - the question is who will the Primary process deliver up from both parties? Clinton, Obama, Clark on the Democratic side - McCain, Romney, Giulliani on the Republican side - much depends on who is picked by the Primary process, a process that favors candidates who play to the two parties bases.

As a guess - McCain VS Obama seems a real possibility as McCain tacks hard right in preparation for the anti-deviationist frenzy of the Republican primary process and the Democrats make the hard calculations about the extent of the harsh anti-Hillary feelings in the American mainstream.

And of course, external factors such as oil prices, when, not if the housing bubble pops completely and just how bad Iraq gets in the next two years.

All three branches of the elected government in the US going Democrat in 2008 is the safest bet.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Killer Inside Me

MC 900 Foot Jesus
Clearly inspired by the novel by Jim Thompson

Telus Officially Abandons Income Trust Conversion

Not that all they ever wanted was the tax dodge or anything...

So Georgie, what do you think of Pootie-Poot now?

Those who position themselves in opposition to Vladimir Putin have an alarming tendency to end up shot, poisoned or irradiated.

Uncle Vlad, or Pootie-Poot as the leader of the free world calls him, may be an ally in the war on terror due to his ruthless suppression of Muslims in Chechnya, but his seemingly equal ruthless willingness to resort to murder to silence his foreign and domestic critics should give the West pause.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Did the Globe and Mail Deliberately Misrepresent Bill Graham?

So when Harper proposed his - I'll admit it, strategically brilliant - motion recognizing the Québécois as a nation within a united Canada, every party except the Bloc Québécois supported it.

Gilles Duceppe of course, shat a brick. Some of the more fetishistically federalist Liberal MPs expressed reservations, but Jack Layton and Bill Graham both expressed support for the motion and Graham even crossed the floor to shake Harper's hand.

But on the cover of today's Globe and Mail, above the fold, Graham's reaction is portrayed very differently. His quoted reaction, explicitly to Harper's motion is:
"How could we ever support a motion on Quebec by a party that has zero commitment to Canada, which is blind to the greatness available for Quebckers within Canada?"
Wow. Harsh words about the motion and about Harper's Conservatives. Only one problem.

That quote was about the Bloc's motion not the Conservatives - which referred to Quebec rather than the Québécois and didn't include within a united Canada.

As to Harper's motion, Graham's actual reaction was:

"This is a matter that transcends all party politics,This is a matter on which the Liberal Party of Canada, which has had a great role in building this country, will be voting in favour of...We will not be voting for a concept dictated by the Bloc Québécois."

I'm having real trouble believing a mischaracterization that massive, front page above the fold could possibly be an accident.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Move Along, Nothing to See Here.

I noted back in early October how convenient low oil prices were for the Republicans just before the election - not that it helped enough in the end. I made a snide, cynical and offensively truthful remark about how the Republican Party and it's legislators are the greatest friends the oil industry ever had, friends who had made them billions upon billions of dollars - and wouldn't you do almost anything for that kind of friend?.

After dropping 84 cents in the three months leading up to the election, oil prices have risen 5 cents in the two weeks since the GOPs thumpin'.

The public is encouraged not to draw any irresponsibly obvious conclusions.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I Fought the Law

The Clash

Sunday Link Blast: Nov 19

Saturday, November 18, 2006

It was never about Democracy

Stirling Newberry effectively demolishes the pretexts for the Iraq invasion in Rebooting the Dictator Software:

In fact, Iraq is the brittle point that the entire generational policy of borrow and squander economics has been tripping over again and again. In Bush Sr's day, we could not overthrow Saddam because we were too far in hoc from all the Reagan-Bush deficit spending. Today we couldn't spend the money to do nation building in Iraq, because we were busy bailing out everyone who lost a ton of money in the stock market.

The goal was to have big tax breaks for big Bush donors. But how to generate economic activity, if the money we were supposed to be using for a stimulus package was, instead, being sunk into Klimt paintings? The obvious answer was a war. But it had to be a war that would generate both jobs and oil. Greedy eyes turned towards Iraq, and saw a place that could be a lot like Texas - no water, lots of oil.

The neo-conservatives were rather late on to this particular bus, but they were, as the old expression goes, useful idiots. By prattling about Democracy they made it look as if this was an argument between unreconstructed pale-conservative imperialism, and a kinder gentler imperialism.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In Rona's defense... least she's not Vic Toews. Olaf makes an excellent pitch for the honorable Minister of Justice deserving the Worst Minister in the Harper Government title more.

Jeffrey Sachs sees the light

In strong and vibrant democracies, a generous social-welfare state is not a road to serfdom but rather to fairness, economic equality and international competitiveness.
Jeffrey Sachs, the former free-market ideologue who advised Russia to opt for cut-throat capitalism has now accepted that the facts on the ground simply don't support the Washington Consensus. The road to stability, social justice and economic success is through a strong welfare state.

Well, Duh.

Environment Minister Rona Ambrose came under fire on the world stage yesterday, but the attacks in Kenya were decidedly homegrown, with Canadian opposition MPs, Quebec's Environment Minister and environmentalists calling her positions "idiotic" and "ridiculous."...

Liberal MP John Godfrey and Bloc Québécois MP Bernard Bigras openly mocked the minister, laughing out loud as they quoted her recent defence of the government's policies. Claude Béchard, Quebec's Environment Minister, was not as critical of Ms. Ambrose as the others were, but said he wants the minister to reverse herself this week and commit to the Kyoto Protocol.

The news conference brought an angry response from Ms. Ambrose's spokesman, Bob Klager. He called the actions of the Canadian politicians "highly inappropriate," especially because they held the event before Ms. Ambrose even landed in Nairobi.

"The minister invited them to come over here, so the fact that they're going out and doing that is only going to undermine Canada's position here," he said. "It's not helpful at all."

Well A:) yes of course it does, that's the point, and B:) it's not Canada's position they're undermining, it's the Conservative Party's. There's a big difference between the position of the Canadian people - 7 out of 10 remember, who voted center left to socialist in the last election - and the Conservative Minority government and their made in Calgary's oil company boardrooms non-plan for the environment. Hence, one of many reasons for the comatose Tory poll numbers.

And frankly, if you say something as mind-numbingly, gob-smackingly stupid as 'We're meeting all of our commitments except the targets' you deserve a public pantsing.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Blogger. Right Winger. Terrorist.

The eliminationist rhetoric and proud embrace of seething hatred and misdirected resentment characteristic of far right Blogistan (US chapter) produces it's first terrorist. Considering the characteristic pattern of escalation found in such criminals we should be glad this one was caught early.

I really hope the West's intelligence agencies are watching some of these bloggers at least as much as they do young Arab males.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday Link Blast

Rocket Brothers


The Terrorism that Doesn't Get Reported

Since 1977, casualties from this war include seven murders, 17 attempted murders, three kidnappings, 152 assaults, 305 completed or attempted bombings and arsons, 375 invasions, 482 stalking incidents, 380 death threats, 618 bomb threats, 100 acid attacks, and 1,254 acts of vandalism, according to the National Abortion Federation.

Abortion providers and activists received 77 letters threatening anthrax attacks before 9/11, yet the media never considered anthrax threats as terrorism until after 9/11, when such letters were delivered to journalists and members of Congress.

After 9/11, Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups received 554 envelopes containing white powder and messages like: "You have been exposed to anthrax. ... We are going to kill all of you." They were signed by the Army of God, a group that hosts Scripture-filled web pages for "Anti-Abortion Heroes of the Faith," including minister Paul Hill, Michael Griffin and James Kopp, all convicted of murdering abortion providers, and a convicted clinic bomber, the Rev. Michael Bray. Another of their "martyrs," Clayton Waagner, mailed anthrax letters while a fugitive on the FBI's 10 most wanted list for anti-abortion related crimes.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Reflections on the US Midterms

Separated At Birth?

James Carville has decided that right after a stellar unprecedented victory for the Democratic Party, largely engineered by the netroots and Howard Dean's much mocked strategy of making the Republicans fight defense in all fifty states is a good time to pick a fight with progressives.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

I Changed My Mind

I've been hopefully saving this one until after the US Midterms
Lyric's Born and The Poets of Rhythm - snakebite mix

The Loneliest Man in the GOP

Lincoln Chaffee considers his options.

Bush runs out of time

Bush desperately needs retroactive legality for the illegal phone surveillance he's already done. Since he's unlikely to get any relief from a Democrat controlled Senate, he's going to want the lame duck Senate to bail him out.

If Democrats really want to they can filibuster this grotesque piece of self serving abuse of the constitution out of existence. Lots of commentators telling them they should 'moderate' - basically by accommodating the President in any way they can. Going on Democrat's behavior in recent years, it's not totally beyond belief. It just depends how accommodating they are feeling.

Senator Chuck Rangel just indicated he'd like Dick Cheney's current house office thank you very much.

Heh. Hysterical frothing meltdowns are funny.

How Bush Should Handle Loss [Jonah Goldberg]
I think James Baker and Dick Cheney should take Bush out to the woods around Camp David. After 24 hours in a sweat lodge, he should be given only a loin cloth, a hunting knife and a canteen of water. Bush should then set out to track and kill a black bear, after which he should eat its still beating heart so he can absorb its spirit. He should then fly back to Washington in Marine 1. His torso still scratched from the bear's claws, his face bloodied and steaming in the November chill, he should immediately give a press conference at which he throws the bearskin on the front row of the press corps, completely enveloping Helen Thomas, declaring, "I'm not going anywhere."

This will send important messages to Democrats and well as to our enemies overseas, who are no doubt high-fiving as we speak.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Democrats take the Senate

AP calls it for Webb in Virginia, a 7000 + vote margin is beyond what any recount could realistically change.

The Democrats now control the Senate with two independents, Lieberman to the right of the party and Bernie Sanders, the first self-avowed socialist ever elected to the Senate, decidedly to the left.

Basin Street Blues

Kid Koala

The untold victory story - Democrats made big gains in state legislatures

In the excitement over the federal Congressional and probable Senate win for the Democrats, the six Governorships picked up from Republicans and the Rumsfeld purge, one other quiet good news story passed almost un-noticed. Democrats made big gains in state legislatures all over the country:

The two major parties are no longer locked in parity in state legislatures. Wresting control from the GOP in all the chambers that changed hands outright, the Democrats now control the legislatures in more states than they have since 1994. And not since that election year have all the chamber switches gone one way.

As of 7 a.m. MT, Democrats control both houses of the legislature in 23 states; Republicans in 15, and nine are split. Final counts aren't available yet for three chambers in two states: the Montana House and Senate and the Pennsylvania House. This adds up to 49 states because Nebraska's legislature is nonpartisan.

Before the election, Republicans controlled 20 state legislatures; Democrats 19, and 10 were split.

Democrats won approximately 275 more state legislative seats, adding up to new majorities in nine chambers across the nation: the Iowa House and Senate, the Indiana House, the Minnesota House, the Michigan House, the New Hampshire House and Senate, the Oregon House and the Wisconsin Senate. (The Iowa Senate was previously tied.)

When you consider that its in the state legislatures that the Republicans rammed through some of the more grotesque gerrymandering of the last decade, and the increasing number of states even before these results taking local action on climate change, this was the change last night that may actually end up making the most difference going forward.

That racist loon with the gun intimidating voters in Arizona

Latino voters in Arizona were confronted by aggressive anti-immigrant activists armed with a video camera and a gun at a polling station in Tucson yesterday. They were well known in Arizona from the extreme lunatic fringe of the extreme anti-immigrant movement.

Armed, threatening and almost pathetically eager to provoke conflict and violence Ray Warden has a noxious history of intimidation and bullying:
With a fanny pack loaded with water bottles strapped to his belly, a Glock 9mm on his hip, and a bullhorn to amplify his outrage, Roy Warden, 59, emerged this spring as one of the country's most controversial, volatile, and, many believe, dangerous characters of the anti-immigration movement. Along with occasional sidekicks Russ Dove, a former militia leader and convicted car thief, and Laine Lawless, the founder of the group Border Guardians who earlier this year urged neo-Nazis to terrorize Hispanics, Warden has burned and trampled Mexican flags in public, nearly started at least one riot, regularly wreaked havoc on Tucson City Council proceedings, and E-mailed a death threat to a prominent local public defender. Without regular followers or even a named group behind him, Warden is a one-man band of immigrant-bashing hate, a man so untamed that other anti-immigration activists shun him as an embarrassment.

About Arnie and the Next Wave

Arnold kept the governorship of California, but he only did it by following the path of the Swedish Moderates.

In Sweden, the only way the Moderates were able to eke out even a slim win from the Social Democrats was by moving virtually every party position sharply to the left and promising to reform and protect the social safety net, not dismantle it. They have to rule in coalition with smaller right wing parties and they needed the confluence of events presented by scandal in the ruling Social Democrats who still won the most overall seats. Scandal already taints the new government.

The lesson clearly taken by Schwarzenegger, who obviously still keeps an eye on European politics, was that trying to be a right wing ideologue in a liberal state was just stupid politics. After a disastrous first half Arnie banked hard to the left and towards a conciliatory approach with the Democrat controlled legislature. His environmental policies are his most public rebuke to his president and party. In all but name, Governor Schwarzenegger is a Democrat now - in fact he's further to the left today, than a lot of the people elected as Democrats last night.

The thing to remember about last nights razor edge margins, CNN has called Montana for Tester, so we're now down to a few thousand likely Democrat votes in Virginia before the Democrats can claim the Senate, is that these close Democrat wins come after years of frantic gerrymandering and pork-barrel spending by the Republicans.

Despite engineering what senior Republican strategists like Rove and Norquist gleefully called a permanent Republican majority, they still lost.

Commentators have talked endlessly of scandal and sourness over the war and distaste towards incumbents who just happened to be Republicans. All relevant, but the real story is a generational and geographical demographic shift towards the left. The MSM really, really wants you to believe that this election is bolt from the blue, a perfect storm that freakishly shifted the electorate and besides, the Democrats elected a lot of conservatives.

This is whistling past the graveyard of the right wing surge of the last several decades. The swing to the left, to progressive policy alternatives will start accelerating now - expect more election nights like this one.

Rumsfeld Steps Down!

This just in, the Bush Administration faces reality and Donald Rumsfeld's career as Defense Secretary is over.

It'll be interesting to see who replaces him, the White House could present some kind of faux bi-partisanship by offering the job to Senator Lieberman, coincidently tipping the power back in the Senate if Montana and Virginia tip Democrat.

The replacement will be a former CIA chief, Dr Robert Gates. Strong connections to the President's father and James Baker. This is the grown-ups in the GOP taking over.

Senate on a Knife's Edge

First the good news: The Democrats won almost thirty seats in Congress, nearly twice what they needed. They won six governorships and now hold a majority of governor's mansions. South Dakotans overturned their over the top abortion law, Arizona voters rejected a ban on gay marriage and narrow social conservative plebiscites that did win, won by much smaller margins than in previous years. The ballot measure playing to evangelicals tactic may have hit its high tide in 2004 while on the other hand several states voted to increase minimum wage.

The bad, or at least nail-biting news: Democrat Senate control hangs on a few thousand votes in Virginia and Montana. Expect recounts for days and probable court challenges stretching the question into the new year.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

CNN predicts Democrats will take House

They just called it. The Dems will take the House. At the moment, the Senate looks likely to maintain a slim GOP majority.

In some of the happiest news of the night, South Dakota voters appear to be decisively overturning The Napoli Law, the ultra restrictive abortion ban that had no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the woman. Good news.

Meth and Man Ass

A fun, super catchy little ditty about Reverend Ted by Paul Hip. Spotted in Salon.

He's Baaaaaack

In defiance of increasingly unhinged threats from the US government Nicaraguans gave Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas a decisive first round election win in Nicaragua today. The Americans pulled out all the stops including threatening trade, aid and even individual remittances to the tiny Central American country.

America punished Nicaraguans throughout the 80's for daring to vote for leftists with a terrorist campaign that ended up costing 30,000 lives. Nicaraguans gave in and let successive American supported conservative governments run the country in line with the Washington consensus of unrestricted trade, selling off the public sector and 'free trade zones', sweat shop camps where even limited labour laws were non-existent and no taxes went to the state. Result? An economy competing with Haiti for the poverty stricken bottom of the hemisphere. The people of Nicaragua finally signalled today that they'd had enough.

The Leftward tilt continues in Latin America.

America Votes 2006

Suppression, intimidation and malfunctioning voting machines, oh my.

"As voters are coming out of their cars and walking up towards their polls, one person is videotaping the voter as he walks towards the polling place," she said. Then another person, wearing an American flag bandana and a shirt with the image of a badge ironed or embroidered on it, approaches with a clipboard to talk to the voter. "While the clipboard person is. . .talking to [the voter], the cameraperson comes up and starts videotaping their face," Perales said.

As this happens, the third man -- with a gun visible in a sideholster -- stands next to the voter. According to Perales, he is wearing a shirt with an American flag on it, and camouflage shorts.

The men only approach Latino voters, she said, and noted they have been doing so since early this morning.

With all these highlights as the voting day continues the most telling point may be senior Republicans quietly avoiding the electronic voting machines:

It's an epidemic. RNC Chair Ken Mehlman prefers paper ballots... and so does Bob Novak.

From TPM Reader TO:

I voted directly behind Bob Novak this morning in a small polling place on Capitol Hill. Novak immediately picked the paper ballot too. There was no line.

As with Mehlman, Novak had a choice between paper and an electronic machine.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Rock And Roll

The Velvet Undergound

Sunday Link Blast - Nov 5

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Unspinning the Neo-Con spin-cycle

All the neo-cons are spinning the desperate line that it was the execution not the plan, that it was the bureaucracy or the military, or Rumsfeld or in some advanced cases going all the way to acknowledging the deficiencies of the Commander in Chief.

Of course an essential point to their ferocious promotion of their cause was their full throated defense of Bush, of the team he had assembled and yea, did bosoms heave manfully and jowls quiver aggressively in the brisk wind of the hot air blown about the resolute genius of George W. Bush, the cold yet heroic cunning of Dick Cheney, and of the steadfast, experienced mastermind Donald Rumsfeld, the ideal Secretary of Defense to bring America into the 2st century.

It's as if they think we are too dumb to remember their own words of just a few years ago.

Better the elderly should DIE than vote Democrat

Really almost beyond belief.

The Republicans have sued to keep elderly voters in poor and minority areas from getting flu shots at early voting - a program that's been going for ten years.

This is what desperation looks like.

Venus in Furs

John Cale

Friday, November 03, 2006

Saddam verdict could set Iraq on fire

Tomorrow Saddam Hussein will almost certainly be found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death. Republicans hoping for a timely boost in the polls from the former dictator's conviction may want to consider the likely outcome:

The trial, which started a year ago, aimed to heal Iraq's wounds after Saddam and his Baath party's 35-year regime. Instead, it has become a symbol of Iraq's divisions, between the long-oppressed Shia majority, who now rule the country, and Saddam'’s Sunnis. Clashes between them tomorrow could push Iraq over the edge....

In Baghdad yesterday, Sunnis were resentful and Shia gleeful at Saddam’s possible fate.

Evangelicals About to Turn on GOP?

As a major Evangelical leader claims that although he did buy the crystal meth from the gay prostitute and had hotel room massages from him but didn't do the drugs or have sex with him, a New York Times/CBS poll puts evangelicals as evenly split on whether they will vote Republican or Democrat.

Note these are just those who admit to planning to vote. I've said for months that the story on November 8th will be all the Right Wingers who end up not voting at all.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The wave threatening the GOP begins to look like a Tsunami...

The Rothenberg Political Report predicts the GOP losing the Congress and the Senate and 7 to 9 Governorships:
The Senate: "While Senate control is in doubt, with Democrats most likely to win from 5 to 7 seats, we do not think the two sides have an equal chance of winning a majority in the Senate. Instead, we believe that state and national dynamics favor Democrats netting six seats and winning control of the United States Senate."

The House: "Going into the final days before the 2006 midterm elections, we believe the most likely outcome in the House of Representatives is a Democratic gain of 34 to 40 seats, with slightly larger gains not impossible. This would put Democrats at between 237 and 243 seats, if not a handful more, giving them a majority in the next House that is slightly larger than the one the Republicans currently hold. If these numbers are generally correct, we would expect a period of GOP finger-pointing and self-flagellation after the elections, followed by a considerable number of Republican House retirements over the next two years."

Governors: "With Republican seats like Idaho, Alaska, and Nevada in play for state-specific reasons, and Minnesota vulnerable to a Democratic wave, the ceiling for possible Democratic gains is high. We have narrowed our earlier projection from Democratic gains of 6-10 to 7-9."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hark! Is that the sound of Darren Entwistle and Michael Sabia explosively prolapsing I hear?

Of course I feel nothing but love and concern...snk... for the Canadian Telco Executive of course I feel deeply sad for how their plans to offload their tax bill forever....snort... have been so sadly crushed...snicker...

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!... sorry... couldn't. keep. straight. face...heeheehee...

Ok. I'm better now. Really.

Credit where credit is due: I'm impressed that Joe Flaherty and the Conservatives were capable of the hitherto unseen abillity to accept stark reality when it was rubbed in their face long enough, and enough intestinal fortitude to do what was necessary. And enough basic humanity, or at least political savvy, to reduce the impact of the neccesary steps on Canadian senior investors.

One last relevant thought from the Globe's Eric Reguly to consider as Corporate Canada's outraged stuffed suits bawl like branded calves:
Tax balance -- the relative proportion paid by corporations and individuals -- was already in trouble in Canada. The rising trust market threatened to kill it. The impression given by corporations, with their lobbyists and PR men and speechwriters, is they pay the lion's share of the taxes in this country, and that the tax burden is making them uncompetitive in the global market. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that corporations paid the equivalent of 60 per cent of all individual taxes collected in the early 1960s, according to national accounts. Since then, the figure has dropped to about 30 per cent. In other words, the relative tax burden on the individual has doubled, while on corporations it has been halved.

Who Was in My Room Last Night?

You may have blotted out the memories of a bacchanalian Halloween celebration, but The Butthole Surfers saw it all and they remember. Oh Yes.

Well Played

Jack Layton just forced Harper to choose between an election he can't win over an issue he tanks in the polls on and screwing his buddies in the oil patch with a real Greenhouse plan.

Simultaneously, with all eyes on the Liberal Leadership contenders and weeks to go to convention, they will now have to explain to the extremely pro-environment Canadian people, and even more pro environment Quebec delegates whether saving the world is worth it or not.

Jack Layton just picked the next Liberal Party leader and the election date.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fiscal Responsibility is What Progressives Do - Deficit Spending is What Conservatives Do.

Bruce Reed in Slate today with hopefully the last nail in the coffin of the grotesquely obsequious Third Way Movement:
In 1994, Republicans took over the Congress with one goal foremost in mind; —to turn Americans against government. Twelve years later, they've succeeded, although not the way they intended. A new CNN poll finds that 54 percent of Americans think government tries to do too much, while only 37 percent think government should do more. And to put government in its place, they're going to vote… Democrat.
The pernicious myths of the free spending irresponsible tax and spend liberals and the hard money steely-eyed conservatives has dominated the discourse for too many years. Even so-called progressives from Clinton to Blair scrambled madly to show how Reaganesqe or Thatcherite they could be.

While in Canada we've seen the vaguely progressive Liberals maintaining more than a decade of government by - which even their foes were forced to admit - being extremely pro business, tax-cutting deficit slaying good government types. They only lost power because they were also stinting on the progressiveness and simultaneously and blatantly sucking back all the loot they could throat.

Which is basically what happened to the Democrats when they were caught filling their pockets too many times leading up to '94, so they missed most of the benefit from the begining of the big progressive era economic upswing.

Then the Republicans came in, borrowed and spent like drunken sailors to protect carefully gerrymandered vote margins, poured out oceans of blood and tanker fleets of treasure in a mind-numbingly stupid utopian Middle Eastern fantasy, committed assault and battery on liberty, democracy and the constitution and filled their pockets at the same time.

The coming GOP apocalypse will be an explicit swing to the left and will herald a return to progressive politics within the Democratic Party. A renawal largely driven by an activist grass-roots and the canniness of the much reviled Howard Dean's 50 state strategy and also largely reflecting a wider and growing American consensus, illuminated rigorously by Stirling Newberry:

Many progressives, burned by kick the base tactics and outright betrayals, are going to have to stop and blink to realize that the frame of the debate has changed - this is no longer a debate about how far right we are to go, how fast, but how far left we are to go, and how best to proceed. It is going to take time for conservative Democrats to stop running to Reaganisms, and it is going to take time for progressives to realize that while there are many battles ahead, one of the most fundamental battles has been won.

Part of this is because the top down media still wants, for its own economic reasons, a restoration of the "to the right, ever to the right, never to the left" dialog of the past. And therefore they have been doing their best not to report on what has happened in the country. But the polls tell the story - independents now poll like Democrats, the country is now 60-40 against the reactionary movement.

The rising sea change in American political life will also be the outrider for a similar shift, or rather an affirmation, of the Canadian progressive consensus.

Jack Layton just backed Stephen Harper and all the contenders in the Liberal leadership race blinking and stammering into the same spotlit corner. It will be a chilly day on the Hustings but by the end of the night we'll most likely have a government that views the combination of responsible stewardship and a progressive approach to public policy as the baseline for political survival and Stephen Harper can go back to his former job of professional whiner for the National Citizens Coalition.

Thankfully, before the Conservatives can screw over Canada as much as the Republicans did the USA.

Trick or Treat?

Here's hoping American progressives get a treat on the 7th.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Friday, October 27, 2006

Deserting the Sinking Ship

George Bush's popularity now stagnates at permanent Nixonian numbers and the public's distaste for him seems likely to crush the GOP in the mid-terms. In response the conservative punditry class in America scrambles to pretend they knew he was no good all along - as Greenwald reveals here.

Nothing sadder than the sight of a bunch of grotesque suckbutts pretending they always had a jaundiced view of Bush and never implied his critics were traitors when he was riding high in the polls.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Lame Ducks

It seemed so simple a year ago; the Conservatives had won a minority - or more accurately the Liberals had lost one. The Tories had their 5 principles - down to what now - Two? Three? - They figured a careful low expectations performance of about a year, some vague promises to fix the fiscal imbalance in Quebec's favour and a divided opposition while the more radical rightwingers in caucus spent a year gagged and bound in Harper's basement and they could coast to an easy majority.

But they overestimated their appeal and underestimated how carefully the Canadian people would be watching how they used their newfound power. Last years election created one of the most deliberate minority governments in history. Remember, with a week to go before the election when the polls started suggesting the Tories were in majority territory? Remember how the Conservative numbers immediately crashed back to minority range as soon as the prospect of a Conservative majority raised its ugly head?

Canadians wanted the Liberals out, but they weren't taking a flier on the Conservatives either.

With a fractured opposition, a rigidly controlled - even muzzled -caucus and a disciplined minimalist agenda the Tories should be head and shoulders over the thrashing, many-headed monstrosity that the Liberals currently present to the public. Instead Tory numbers have stagnated, even without an opposition. They've flatlined in Quebec and hovered or cratered everywhere else. Their hopes for a majority are over and their hopes of even maintaining their minority are on life support.

What little is left of their agenda is at the mercy of the opposition - the Tories are now dependent on desperate stalling measures just to keep the opposition from controlling parliament altogether.
"The behavior of the Liberal party is arrogant and anti-democratic," fumed Harper. "That's really the problem. They haven't accepted the decision of the electorate."
Of course, more than half of the electorate voted center left to socialist - in a minority government, respecting the decision of the electorate means compromise and respect for the opposition and an agenda hewing to the political center, not the extremist edges. Instead the Conservatives chose arrogance, and catering to their base. It's cost them.

I've heard the grimly spoken words 'If this is how they behave with a minority...' uncountable times lately - and I live in Calgary.

Many factors will determine the immediate political future, from who wins the American mid-terms to who wins the Liberal leadership. Right now the most likely result of the next Canadian election is a minority Liberal government and a Conservative return to the political wilderness.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

In the News

Kris Kristofferson

The Real Legacy of Conservatism

I've expressed here before a certain admiration for the more rational strains of reality based pragmatic conservatism. Garth Turner represents the fading strain of realist Progressive Conservatives, so of course the current triumphalist extremists in the Conservative Party had to purge him - and yes he would make a good fit with the center right thing the Canadian Green Party has become.

Andrew Sullivan made the same jump Scott Brison made, to realize that incompetence and willingness to pander to extremists trumps ideological affinity. Even the free market high church the Cato Institute, observing the smoking ruin of the deregulated electricity markets has reluctantly advocated returning to some kind of regulated environment.

However finding the more moderate elements of the Conservative movement less bat-shit insane then those currently infesting the corridors of power in both Ottawa and Washington is hardly a tough curve to be graded on.

Stirling Newberry writes that the misty eyed nostalgia among the ostensibly clear-eyed reality based conservatives ignores the real legacy of the Reagan/Thatcher years when the resurgent right looted the wealth created over decades by worn out progressives:

Reagan and Thatcher brought in hard people. People willing to inflict misery on other people. People willing to lay the lumber down on the working class, and even more so on the day laboring class.

They were willing to warehouse urban criminals in jail forever, they were willing to impose a stagnation tax on wages, and they were willing to let people slip into a permanent state of semi-poverty, floating between jobs on one hand, and lotteries and alcohol on the other. This hardness was projected in foreign affairs, in domestic affairs. It brought with it a wave of people who had been waiting to lay into the "softness" of all kinds - in education, in criminal justice, in economics, in society.

The right might want to run and hide from the reality that they are, in fact, a bunch of conservative inflationists who have a wide streak of political sadism in them, but it does not take long wandering in the wilderness of right wing ranting to realize that what unifies the right wing is not a love of small government, nor a love of rights, nor any particular economic theory, but a personal belief that other people's right to a face stops at your fist, and that problems are best solved by beating the guts out of whoever crosses you - whether in the foreign or domestic environment.

And of course as he points out, the conditions that allowed Reagan and Thatcher to keep the party going as long as they did no longer obtain:

The retreat of the conservatives to the happy haven of Reagan is also doomed as policy. Virtually every circumstance which allowed Thatcherism and Reaganomics to work is gone. Far from being over-taxes, holders of rent are under taxed dramatically, and the resulting lack of research has created a pervasive lack of investment supply. The United States is no longer a creditor nation that makes more from its investments than it pays out, but one that pays out more in investment service than it takes in. The Baby Boom is not about to enter its peak earning years, but its peak "burning years". The rest of the world is not half enslaved, but competing for a diminishing flow of the very same oil that Carter had no chance of weaning us from. Developing nations now know that allowing Western finance to come in too soon, is to be stripped bare of assets - and China and India are both taking steps to prevent this, as the oilarchies long ago did. They can buy our companies, but we cannot buy theirs on equal terms. Worker's wages are now not high relative to the size of the economy, but after a generation of standing still, are not even enough to pay the debt service they have taken on. There isn't a generation of pension funds to pillage, but instead a middle class with a negative savings rate.

In short, the Conservative Troll, not Soul, wants to go back to the idyllic moment when Liberalism was both rich in savings to loot, and poor of energy and ideas to prevent it. When the world was, indeed, ready for a generation long spending binge, when there was a fat bank account to tap. All of this is gone, as gone as the polluted rivers and monolithic network news broadcasts. It is a waning memory, like the sound of Walter Cronkite's sign off of "and that's the way it is." We look back on it through an increasingly smokey lense, as E.L. Doctrow looked back on the turn of the century in Ragtime.

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