Thursday, August 30, 2007

More denialist spin

Global warming deniers are all over a new study purporting to show that less than half of scientists endorse global warming. It's prominently linked at Drudge Report of course.

As you could probably guess there's some intensive spin here - as even the study admits, only 6% of the papers cited actually deny the existence of global warming, while 48% are 'neutral' 'refusing to state explicitly whether they accept or reject the hypothesis'. By this logic, the absence of scientific papers explicitly endorsing the First Law of Thermodynamics indicates a lack of belief in it's existence rather than, say, reflecting that scientists feel no need to explicitly state their belief in a widely accepted scientific consensus.

The study, by the way, is by a medical doctor specializing in endocrine surgery. What does his specialty have to do with climatology? Your guess is as good as mine.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not so coincidentally, we have this report from the Union of Concerned Scientists presented to the US Congress. It details how almost half of US government scientists report being pressured by the Bush administration to downplay global warming. If your job or funding can be threatened by explicitly accepting anthropogenic global warming that could certainly explain why such a statement may not be present in many papers by scientists who in fact have no doubt about its existence, couldn't it?

Despite this pressure US government scientists on Tuesday flatly blamed 2006's higher than average temperatures on greenhouse gases. Earlier this month British meteorologists predicted it would get even worse in coming years.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bedtime for Gonzo

The White House belatedly faces some semblance of reality as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigns.
WACO, Tex., Aug. 27 — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress, has resigned. A senior administration official said he would announce the decision later this morning in Washington.

Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls for his resignation, submitted his to President Bush by telephone on Friday, the official said. His decision was not announced immediately announced, the official added, until after the president invited him and his wife to lunch at his ranch near here.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Linkblast - August 26

Friday, August 24, 2007

Stockwell Day: Lying sack of s%!t

Don't let little things like the truth being the exact opposite of what you're saying stop you Doris:

Public Security Minister Stockwell Day, meanwhile, continued to brush of questions about a call for a public inquiry.

"The thing that was interesting in this particular incident, three people in question were spotted by protesters because were not engaging in violence," Day said Friday in Vancouver.

"They were being encouraged to throw rocks and they were not throwing rocks, it was the protesters who were throwing the rocks. That's the irony of this," said Day, adding the actions were substantiated by the video that he has seen of the protests.

"Because they were not engaging in violence, it was noted that they were probably not protesters. I think that's a bit of an indictment against the violent protesters."

Watch the video. They were spotted for being aggressive and armed - not for refusing to be.

Culture of life

As Texas celebrates it's 400th execution since the US Supreme Court re-instated it in 1978, Bush and his Attorney General Alberto Gonzales are hard at work on fast-tracking the process and removing legal rights for death row inmates:

The Bush administration is preparing to speed up the executions of criminals who are on death row across the United States, in effect, cutting out several layers of appeals in the federal courts so that prisoners can be "fast-tracked" to their deaths.

With less than 18 months to go to secure a presidential legacy, President Bush has turned to an issue he has specialised in since approving a record number of executions while Governor of Texas.

The US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales -- Mr Bush's top legal adviser during the spree of executions in Texas in the 1990s -- is putting finishing touches to regulations, inspired by recent anti-terrorism legislation, that would allow states to turn to the Justice Department, instead of the federal courts, as a key arbiter in deciding whether prisoners live or die.

The US is already among the top six countries worldwide in terms of the numbers of its own citizens that it puts to death. Fifty-two Americans were executed last year and thousands await their fate on death row.

Here's the part of the article that made my brain hurt:
Four years ago, a Missouri man, Joe Amrine, was released after 17 years on death row after the collapse of all evidence that led to his conviction for a jail murder. The state argued, with a straight face, that even the establishment of innocence was not a reason to stop his execution, because nothing had been procedurally incorrect about his original trial. Again, it was a federal appeals court that weighed in on Amrine's behalf.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

So what was the rock for?

Hat tip to Buckdog.

Quebec provincial police admitted Thursday that their officers disguised themselves as demonstrators during the protest at the North American leaders summit in Montebello, Que.

However, the police force denied allegations its undercover officers were there on Monday to provoke the crowd and instigate violence.

"At no time did the police of the Sûreté du Québec act as instigators or commit criminal acts," the police force said in French in a news release. "It is not in the police force's policies, nor in its strategies, to act in that manner."

"At all times, they responded within their mandate to keep order and security."

Police said the undercover officers were only at the protest to locate and identify non-peaceful protesters in order to prevent any incidents.

'I got a rock'


Montebello protesters stop blatant police provocateurs before they can engineer a riot

The Disappeared

Peggy goes potty again


In response to Health Minister Tony Clement's recent announcement of a new anti-drug campaign, Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente once again indulges in some deceptive propaganda and rhetoric about the dangers of the demon weed. I suppose we should be glad she doesn't engage in the same casual racism as her last piece on the subject - which I responded to here.

I know a guy who does a lot of weed. It's not a happy story. He started smoking dope in high school. After university, his friends began working hard and building their careers. He smoked dope instead. His friends got married and had kids. So did he. But he couldn't ever keep a job for long. He had lengthy spells of unemployment. His family was always broke, because he inhaled every cent they had. Eventually his fed-up wife threw him out. Today, well into middle age, he's scraping by somewhere, living in some basement.

So don't tell me marijuana is harmless. Don't tell me marijuana doesn't destroy people and their families. It does.

So Peggy, do we really have to explain the difference between correlation and causation to you? This is freshman logic. Do the many examples of hard working, successful people who like to relax at the end of a productive day with a joint mean marijuana smoking is a sure path to success and happiness? No more than Wente's example proves the opposite.

Then she trots out the 'it's much worse than it used to be' tripe again:
Today's pot is to the stuff I used to inhale as whisky is to beer.
This has the combined charm of being pompously hypocritical and simply and flatly untrue; this Slate article effectively demolishes this popular myth.

Then there's the 'pot makes you crazy' meme, Wente devoted so many column inches to last time:
Recent research indicates that some people, because of their genetic makeup, react badly to the chemicals in cannabis, and are at heightened risk of psychosis. More commonly, the effects of regular indulgence include apathy, self-centredness (sic) and disengagement from life in general.
Not surprisingly, the study Peggy is referring to showed no such damn thing:

First, there is no new study. The paper published in The Lancet is a meta-analysis -- a summary of seven studies that previously appeared in other journals, including some that were published decades ago. Second, the touted association between cannabis and mental illness is small -- about the same size as the link between head injury and psychosis. Finally, despite what some new sources suggest, this association is hardly proof of a cause-and-effect relationship between cannabis and psychosis,

So why the sudden fuss?

Part of the answer is political. New British Prime Minister Gordon Brown longs to stiffen penalties against marijuana users. One way to justify this move involves convincing the public that The Lancet proved that puffing the weed will make you batty. Of course, that's not what the article says at all.

In fact, investigators actually reported that cannabis use was associated with a slight increase in psychotic outcomes. However, the authors emphasized (even if many in the media did not) that this small association does not reflect a causal relationship. Folks with psychoses use all intoxicants more often than other people do, including alcohol and tobacco.

Wente also is worried about our lungs:
It's not too good for your lungs either. A couple of joints inflict about the same damage as a pack of cigarettes.
Except no pot smoker smokes as much pot as a tobacco smoker smokes tobacco. Studies on the small percentage of pot smokers who don't also smoke cigarettes could find no clear cancer link. In fact recent studies have shown that marijuana may actually have anti-cancer effects by among other things, killing off damaged cells prone to cancerous mutation.

No substance inhaled in burning clouds is good for the lungs. Of course pot users have other options such as cooking it into food or inhaling it from vaporizers.

Wente acknowledges that 'wars on drugs have a bad name these days' - but barely confronts the long record of failure and repression that have given them that bad name, and brushes aside any opposition to expensive and futile new anti-pot campaigns by the 'reefer lobby'.
Influencing public behaviour is no mystery. You start by changing public attitudes. You try to get everyone - government, the media and schools - to give the same message: No. And if that message is too righteous for you, please recall that cannabis is the lifeblood of your friendly street or biker gang. You know, the ones with guns. Have a nice day.
I don't especially object to righteousness. Stupidity and mendacity annoy me however, and of course the fact that marijuana is a cash crop for organized crime is a more compelling argument for legalization than anything else, but this kind of basic logic seems to continually escape Wente.

Alberta Energy and Utilities Board spying scandal now an international incident

Did the EUB's use of private investigators to spy on opponants of a new power line include those from Montana?

A scandal that has plagued Alberta's energy regulator has become an international incident with the Montana government wanting to know whether its citizens were spied on by an arms-length agency of the Alberta government.
Ken Toole of Montana's Public Service Commission said Wednesday that while he doesn't have full information on the issue, what he has heard about the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board is troubling. "It is of great concern to me if any citizen group is being monitored by government agencies because they oppose a power line, or a power plant, or oil well, or whatever," he said.
James Roof, an environmentalist in Montana, said he can't believe investigators were keeping tabs on landowners opposed to a power line. "I think it's an outrage and I think it speaks very poorly for the state of democracy in Alberta," said Roof. "What I think needs to happen is that these government officials that organized this and set up this spying are held accountable."

Landowners in Alberta were in contact with Roof about his opposition to a separate line that would connect Alberta and Montana. The groups believe the two lines are part of a larger plan to export electricity from Canada to the United States. Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason said the Montana commissioner's interest is further proof that there is something wrong with Alberta's Energy and Utilities Board.

The Disappeared

Bene Diction points out that if these three protesters weren't undercover police officers then three protesters were 'disappeared' after the Montebello protest.

He also appends a comment from another retired police officer convinced the three were not protesters - everything about them, their stance, their posture, where they held their hands, the way they moved screamed 'cop' to him. I find his points compelling.

The so called 'firm' denials from the Sûreté and the RCMP require little parsing to find the loopholes. Both forces deny using provocateurs, but they could simply be denying that these three were anything but undercover. 'I just picked up that big rock to keep it out of the hands of those dangerous protesters.'

Without any information about these three men handcuffed and carted away we are left with three protesters disappeared by the police or three undercover officers - there really is no third option beside an inexplicable decision by the Quebec police to not lay charges against three masked protesters, at least one armed with a rock who tried to force their way through a police line.

So which is it? Do we need to worry about three 'protesters' having been disappeared by the police?

See my previous post on the so called protesters

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Montebello protesters stop blatant police provocateurs before they can engineer a riot

Shit. They're on to us. Better arrest us.

Montebello protest organizer Dave Coles, President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada catches three of the most obvious, blatant undercover cop agent provocateurs you'll ever see.

They're masked and carrying rocks and sticks - but despite this and the loud calls by the protesters for them to leave, the police show no interest in the three until the angry protesters corner them next to the police line. The masked, armed men share a quiet word with the police, push through the line and are quickly 'arrested'.

A video, posted on YouTube, shows three young men, their faces masked by bandannas, mingling Monday with protesters in front of a line of police in riot gear. At least one of the masked men is holding a rock in his hand.

The three are confronted by protest organizer Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. Coles makes it clear the masked men are not welcome among his group of protesters, whom he describes as mainly grandparents. He urges them to leave and find their own protest location.

Coles also demands that they put down their rocks. Other protesters begin to chime in that the three are really police agents. Several try to snatch the bandanas from their faces.

Rather than leave, the three actually start edging closer to the police line, where they appear to engage in discussions. They eventually push their way past an officer, whereupon other police shove them to the ground and handcuff them.

Late Tuesday, photographs taken by another protester surfaced, showing the trio lying prone on the ground. The photos show the soles of their boots adorned by yellow triangles. A police officer kneeling beside the men has an identical yellow triangle on the sole of his boot.

Only four people are acknowledged by the police to have been arrested, all known protesters. The three mysterious masked men are not among them.

UPDATE: Check out this photo from KaterKate's photostream of the incident as spotted by Gazetteer. The violent armed protester, arrested and flexi-cuffed being led away by the officer is still wearing his mask.

Canadian Cynic asks some interesting questions here and sighs in annoyance at the inevitable sneering from Blogging Tory land about all this.

UPDATE 2: Again spotted by Gazetteer, who along with several others apparently stayed up and kept looking into this after I went to sleep, Aaron Eckman of the Pacific Tribune has the photos that certainly seem to indicate via the much discussed yellow triangles, that the so-called 'protesters' and the police arresting them were wearing the same boots.

Update 3: The CEP says they have proof these three 'protesters' are Quebec police officers and will release it this afternoon:

News advisory - News conference on "arrest" of phony demonstrators OTTAWA,
Aug.22 /CNW Telbec/ - Video footage of the arrest of police officers posing as demonstrators at Montebello, August 20, will be shown today at a news conference at the offices of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. "We have proof that the three individuals who were "arrested" after being exposed as "agents provocateurs" were, in fact, members of the Quebec police force," says CEP President Dave Coles, and we plan to do what it takes to bring this matter to justice." CEP Secretary-Treasurer Gaétan Ménard, Barb Byers of the CLC and Council of Canadians President Maude Barlow will also be in attendance.

Update 4: Nothing much new at the CEP conference - mostly a collection of the already discussed evidence. The CBC story about the press conference also has a retired Ottawa police officer who had been in charge of demonstrations who didn't believe the three were legitimate protesters.

Final Update: The Quebec Police come clean.

Google Cache is forever

Right wing American group Family Security Matters (Their board includes talk show hosts Laura Ingraham and Monica Crowley, Center for Security Policy president Frank Gaffney Jr., and former CIA director R. James Woolsey. ) and their spokesman Philip Atkinson have been frantically purging their site of material like articles calling for genocide in the Middle East or this piece, available now only in Google's cache wistfully hoping for a Bush Fascist coup:
By elevating popular fancy over truth, Democracy is clearly an enemy of not just truth, but duty and justice, which makes it the worst form of government. President Bush must overcome not just the situation in Iraq, but democratic government.

However, President Bush has a valuable historical example that he could choose to follow.

When the ancient Roman general Julius Caesar was struggling to conquer ancient Gaul, he not only had to defeat the Gauls, but he also had to defeat his political enemies in Rome who would destroy him the moment his tenure as consul(president) ended.

Caesar pacified Gaul by mass slaughter; he then used his successful army to crush all political opposition at home and establish himself as permanent ruler of ancient Rome. This brilliant action not only ended the personal threat to Caesar, but ended the civil chaos that was threatening anarchy in ancient Rome – thus marking the start of the ancient Roman Empire that gave peace and prosperity to the known world.

If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege while terrifying American enemies.

He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.
This is where the American right wing's heads are at now. Be aware.

Monday, August 20, 2007

'I can put my arm back on, but you can't'

The greatest public service announcement of all time. This classic exhortation to Canadian children to not fling themselves through rotating saw blades is a stunningly effective special effects mini-masterpiece barely thirty seconds long.

This commercial is even more astonishing - and a little baffling - when you consider that it's more than twenty years old. I was in my early teens when it came out and I'm 37 now. This was a clip that must have had a huge budget for a PSA.

Information on the making of the original is frustratingly hard to track down. The War Amps made the inexplicable decision in recent years to replace this epic masterpiece with a sucktastic cheapo CGI version - presumably because someone told them that the kids are down with the computer animation these days.

Astar deserves better.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Ethanol scam in the news

Eugene has been on this beat for a while. The MSM are starting to catch on.

The Rolling Stone bracingly evicerates the entire ethanol business model and environmental raison d'etre.

Then a corn lobbyist responds with one of the most breathtakingly pompous and crudely contemptuous letters you will ever read. It's so hilarious you have to wonder if it's a parody. The letter starts with calling the Rolling Stone reporter, the magazine and all it's readers shallow hipsters, goes on to imply that they are all commies like gasp...Hugo Chavez..., and goes downhill from there.

Meanwhile British scientists condemn EU policies of supporting the ethanol industry as a wrong headed approach to global warming, they recommend re-forestation as a far more effective government priority.
The EU target of ensuring 10% of petrol and diesel comes from renewable sources by 2020 is not an effective way to curb carbon emissions, researchers say.

A team of UK-based scientists suggested that reforestation and habitat protection was a better option. Writing in Science, they said forests could absorb up to nine times more CO2 than the production of biofuels could achieve on the same area of land.

The growth of biofuels was also leading to more deforestation, they added. "The prime reason for the renewables obligation was to mitigate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions," said Renton Righelato, one of the study's co-authors.

"In our view this is a mistaken policy because it is less effective than reforesting," he told BBC News.

Sunday Linkblast - August 19

Monday, August 13, 2007

The same weight to a lie

This is the group that attended the White House correspondents dinner and clapped for a rapping Karl Rove. As a class, they honor politeness over honesty and believe that being "balanced" means giving the same weight to a lie as you give to the truth.
I ran this quote back on the first of July, It's been itching at the back of my head ever since. It's by Ken Silverstein who went undercover as a dictator's agent in Washington to do a splendid article in Harpers about the lobbyists eager to represent the interests of savage totalitarian regimes.

This is, of course, what journalism is for.

The lobbyists squealed bloody murder and the establishment Washington media elites sniffed in disapproval at Silverstien's bad taste in actually engaging in the grubby practice of journalism. Hence his elegant 'fuck you.' above. To add delightful insult to injury it looks like Silverstien's article might be turned into a Hollywood movie.

His quote seems to perfectly encapsulate a whole host of memes about and traits of the mainstream media that have brought us to where we are; The insistent interrogatory dialogue of citizen journalists unwilling to continue to be a passive audience to the MSM's monologue.

This Peace, Earth and Justice News piece on the CBCs similar slavish approach to the well funded lobby of climate change deniers is of a piece with the same journalistic idea that being "balanced" means giving the same weight to a lie as you give to the truth. A perversion of the ideals of balance and objectivity, indicative of moral and intellectual cowardice.

Like significant scientific disagreement in the basic fact of anthropogenic global warming or Saddam's WMDs or P3 savings or the benefits of more privatization in health care or Barack Obama growing up in a Madrassa.

All unambiguous easily disproven, deliberate lies. All treated with respect, even reverence by an arrogant and out of touch mainstream media.

My friend Ian made the point that journalism's troubles began when it became a profession instead of a job - it used to be the domain of the smart but not necessarily college educated working class. Slowly journalists became part of the same clubby group of elites as those in power.

A world where someone like Conrad Black is considered a newsman.

At my most cynical I'm thankful for citizen journalism, because at least that means that somebody is still practicing journalism.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday Linkblast - August 12

Saturday, August 11, 2007

My new favorite band

Gypsy punk maniacs Gogol Bordello with 'Not a Crime!'
Do your self a favor and pick up their new album Super Taranta!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

China shows the whip hand

The Chinese government has begun a concerted campaign of economic threats against the United States, hinting that it may liquidate its vast holding of US treasuries if Washington imposes trade sanctions to force a yuan revaluation.

Two officials at leading Communist Party bodies have given interviews in recent days warning - for the first time - that Beijing may use its $1.33 trillion (£658bn) of foreign reserves as a political weapon to counter pressure from the US Congress.

The Americans are now one Chinese foreclosure away from the spiraling costs of Bush's imperial misadventure and the rot spreading through the sub-prime market overwhelming their whole economy.

If I had any money I'd be converting it to gold right now and hiding it in my mattress.

Hat tip to Matthew

Monday, August 06, 2007

Six years ago today

George W. Bush was blithely ignoring an intelligence report with the title 'Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US.' and going back to clearing brush on the vacation ranch where he's spent a solid year of his presidency.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tax and spend government is what sustains the middle class

Lots of people have commented on this surprising Globe and Mail piece, and deservedly so:
From 1980 to 2000, a period of explosive economic growth and expanding wealth, most major Western nations actually saw their middle classes shrink in size. The middle-income ranks (earning 75 to 125 per cent of the median income) in Britain shrank by 4.5 percentage points; in Sweden by 7.1 points; and in the U.S. by 2.4 points. These numbers represent tens of millions of people.

Were all these people disappearing from the middle class because they got rich? Or had they failed to find a place on the economic escalator and slipped to the ground floor?

“There was both upward and downward mobility,” Mr. Pressman told me, “but downward mobility exceeded upward mobility by around two to one.”

But there are exceptions to this trend. Switzerland's and Germany's middle classes stayed roughly the same size. And two countries – Norway and Canada – saw their middle classes grow substantially. In Canada, it grew to 37 per cent of the population from 33 per cent, the equivalent of a whole mid-sized province joining the station-wagon brigade, moving Canada into the league of Scandinavian nations in the size of its middle class.

Some of this came from wealthier Canadians being humbled: During the same 20 years, the upper class shrank by 1.9 percentage points, to 33.3 per cent of the population. But more came from poor families moving up. Canada is a middle-class success story, especially compared with the slouching United States. But the story doesn't end there.

Mr. Pressman set out to learn what is making the middle class collapse in many countries but expand in others. Some have attributed these changes to an aging population, the number of working women or divorce rates. He used statistical methods to remove age and gender from the picture, but the patterns remained the same.

Then he looked at unemployment: Were countries with rising employment rates experiencing a growing middle class? Nope. Britain has far lower unemployment than Canada, but a shrinking middle class: “While jobs were being added, households were not moving into the middle class.” In the Netherlands, unemployment fell dramatically, but the middle class declined.

Then Mr. Pressman took his data and subtracted everything except salary and wage earnings. That is, he looked at what would be happening if people lived off only the money paid by their employers.

Suddenly, everything changed. Canada's great middle-class boom turned into an enormous decline: If people were forced to live off their earnings alone, our middle class would have shrunk by a staggering six percentage points. The same was true in Germany. In Britain, the middle class would have contracted even more dramatically.

What had Mr. Pressman subtracted? In short, government: All the handouts, tax benefits, subsidies and rebates that transfer money into middle-class pockets (not including pensions). Without government help, Canada's middle class would be endangered.

In a modern economy, Mr. Pressman told me, “I am not sure that the middle class can be self-sustaining. It seems to require active government policies. The market tends to produce great inequalities in income; these inequalities seem greater in a global economy.” Contrary to earlier economic belief, the countries that are most competitive in a globalized economy are those with the most robust tax-and-spend programs. But they have to be aimed at the right places.

Many Canadian families wouldn't be middle-class if it weren't for government handouts. One key example is the thousands of dollars that Ottawa reimburses parents for child-care expenses each year: Without it, many women wouldn't be able to work, so their families would be deprived of one income and may slide into the lower-class bracket. Tax-funded aid for education savings, first-time home buying, retirement savings plans and medical coverage add up: If you gave up all these breaks, would you still be in the middle class?


Herein lies the paradox of the modern middle class: Its existence is reliant on a thriving and open market economy, but its size and sustainability are equally dependent on the tax-and-spend mechanisms of the modern welfare state – which, it turns out, are even more important in globalized, high-competition economies.

The countries that are doing best are those that spend serious money on cultivating and maintaining a middle class. Many poor countries, despite having developed booming economies during the past 15 years, fail to join the middle-class club because they can't afford to erect government-supported stepladders to success. And countries such as Canada, which can and do spend that money, have done the best at surviving the social turmoil of our age.

None of this is news to those who've been paying attention without neo-liberal blinders on, which hitherto has not included the reliably 'market uber alles' Globe and Mail. Kudos for waking up and seeing which way the wind is blowing.


The rising tide leaves most boats at the bottom

The pendulum swing

Ignatieff: Those who opposed the Iraq invasion were right, but for the wrong reasons

Ladies and Gentlemen, the new master of the non-apology apology:
We might test judgment by asking, on the issue of Iraq, who best anticipated how events turned out. But many of those who correctly anticipated catastrophe did so not by exercising judgment but by indulging in ideology. They opposed the invasion because they believed the president was only after the oil or because they believed America is always and in every situation wrong.
Hat tip to The Dominion

UPDATE: Quite a lot of people were annoyed by by Iggy's 'OK, I was wrong, but at least I wasn't a dirty fucking hippie' apology.

Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Pottersville


Sunday Linkblast - Aug 5

Friday, August 03, 2007

Rudy's whole plan...

...his entire approach to the huge challenge that is the dysfunctional American healthcare system in crisis, is to attack Canadian style healthcare. That's all he's got.
I'm supposed to be writing about Rudy Giuliani's health care plan today. And I would, if Rudy Giuliani had a health care plan. But Rudy Giuliani doesn't have a health care plan.What he has is a pretext with which to attack the Democrats. Indeed, just about all you need to know about Giuliani's thoughtfulness on the issue can be summed up by the following: In the speech introducing and detailing his new health care proposal, Giuliani refers to the "Democrats" six times. "Single-payer" is said eight times. "Socialized medicine," or some variant thereof, makes nine appearances. "Uninsured" is never uttered -- not once.
See Canadian named Giuliani health care policy advisor.

Ousted Wheatboard CEO on Harper's war on farmers

CCPA Manitoba August 3 2007
When a federal government is elected there is an expectation that they will develop sound policy by consulting with both the people directly affected by policies and Canadians as a whole. That is what farmers and Canadians expected of the Harper government with respect to the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) issue. Instead, the Harper government has deliberately attempted to bypass good process and existing laws. This flawed approach slashes deep into the principles and expectations held by Canadians when they elect governments. The government has been able to get away with this only because farmers are a small voice in this country, and farming has neither drawn the concern, nor the interest of the broader population.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Seeking Permission

You know what science fiction novel I could have lived without coming true? The Handmaid's Tale.

Ohio - Led by Rep. John Adams, a group of state legislators have submitted a bill that would give fathers of unborn children a final say in whether or not an abortion can take place.

It's a measure that, supporters say, would finally give fathers a choice.

"This is important because there are always two parents and fathers should have a say in the birth or the destruction of that child," said Adams, a Republican from Sidney. "I didn't bring it up to draw attention to myself or to be controversial. In most cases, when a child is born the father has financial responsibility for that child, so he should have a say."

As written, the bill would ban women from seeking an abortion without written consent from the father of the fetus. In cases where the identity of the father is unknown, women would be required to submit a list of possible fathers. The physician would be forced to conduct a paternity test from the provided list and then seek paternal permission to abort.

Claiming to not know the father's identity is not a viable excuse, according to the proposed legislation. Simply put: no father means no abortion.

No word on whether rapists must give their victims permission to abort, or exceptions for incest or the health of the mother. These are trivial details to the minds that put this monstrosity on the Ohio legislature order paper.

Critics of the proposed legislation point out that even in the unlikely event it passed in the state legislature, the law would certainly be thrown out by the courts. Then the far right religious fanatics that think this is a fine idea, can rant about activist judges. Win win political theater at the expense of women's rights and a costly legislature hijacking.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Pot, and scientific Lysenkoism

Lysenkoism is named after the director of the Soviet Institute of Genetics under Stalin, Trofim Denisovich Lysenko. He insisted against all scientific evidence that organisms could inherit acquired traits because the CCCP's ideology - and scary Dictator - demanded it. It has become short hand for the scientific process pimped out to the service of ideology.

Two of the classic propaganda memes of the 'war against drugs' had brief resurgencies in the last month: 'Pot is much more potent and dangerous than it was in the good ol' days' and 'Pot will drive you crazy' have both made the news recently, among others.

All are the products of selective applications of the facts - ranging to intentional distortion. Slate dismantles the DEA's highly political rhetoric to the effect that pot is 30 times higher than it was 30 years ago:

A couple of weeks later in the Detroit News, Walters gave even more alarming numbers about regular pot, claiming that "today's marijuana is 10 to 14 percent [THC]. And hybrids go up to 30 percent and above."

Walters' figures are grossly distorted. For starters, his figures for "today's sinsemilla" actually come from 1999. He ignores data from 2000 and 2001. That's presumably because sinsemilla potency spiked in 1999 at 13.38 percent (which, incidentally, rounds off to 13 percent, not 14 percent). But the most recent full-year figure available, 2001, shows a potency of 9.55 percent. Yes, sinsemilla's THC count has been increasing, but its average over the past decade is only 9.79 percent. More important, the potency of sinsemilla has little to do with quotidian reality for most pot-smokers. Sinsemilla comprises only 4.3 percent of the University of Mississippi's sample over the years. It's prohibitively expensive for casual (and young) users: On the East Coast, the very best stuff is $700 an ounce.

The pot that most people, especially most kids, smoke is nowhere near as powerful as sinsemilla: The THC content of all pot last year was 5.32 percent; during the past decade, it averaged 4.1 percent. In other words, the marijuana that most kids smoke is about 5 percent THC—not 14 percent and certainly not 30 percent.

Then there's a recent report in Science Daily suggesting there may be a link between THC and a type of skin disease people with AIDS or otherwise severely damaged immune system's are susceptible to.

Fox news turned this into the headline: Study: Marijuana Use May Cause Skin Cancer.

Ever get the feeling you're being manipulated? Because if you don't, that just means
you aren't paying attention.

Hat tip to Koby

Court rules against government on Wheat Board

At every step in their quest for the anhihilation of the Wheatboard the Conservatives have treated democracy as something to get around.

Can't win a vote among farmers fairly? Purge single desk supporters from among the farmer voters by the thousands -including farmers who hadn't had recent crops because of flood damage -and stack the deck with a bullshit 'yes, no and maybe' question that you can claim victory on no matter what the result. Can't win the battle on the floor of a minority parliament to dismantle the Board? Bypass the House and try to kill the board quietly in cabinet.

Last night Federal Court Judge Dolores Hansen ruled that the government will in fact have to win this fight democratically or not at all. The order in council to end the Wheat Board's monopoly on Barley was quashed and the Conservatives will have to actually convince farmers and parliamentarians from other parties that killing the Board is a good idea.

They've already made it quite clear by their tactics what they think their chances are of that. This fight is over for the remainder of this parliament's sitting - and probably beyond.

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