"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Conservatives getting things done for some Canadians

The Toronto Star's Haroon Siddiqui has it exactly right, Stephen Harper is an embarrassment. Part of the problem in the case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud lies with the Canada Border Services Agency, who have done stupid and embarassing things before, but for Harper to say that it is now his top priority to bring this poor woman home after she's been stranded for three months, coming as it does on the heels of all the other cases of Canadians the government has abandoned abroad, is a bit rich. Obviously, the consular services section of the Foreign Affairs Ministry needs a shake up too, but the problem starts at the top.
It used to be that if one fell afoul of the law overseas (which is not the same thing as committing a crime) and could contact the embassy, consular affairs and the Canadian government would be there for you - finding lawyers, making sure you were not mistreated, protecting you. Now, the government seems to be saying that when you leave the country, the country leaves you - you're on your own and they don't really want you back.
As one of the 9% of Canadians who is outside Canada at the moment, this is a worrisome thing. Especially since I live in a country with a history of xenophobia and a legal system with no presumption of innocence or even right to a lawyer while in police custody.
And it isn't just the unwillingness of the Canadian government to stand up for its citizens like accused child soldier Omar Khadr who are unlawfully being held prisoner by a foreign governerment or the withdrawl of consular services - there are other changes indicative of this distaste for Canadians the Conservative don't feel are Canadian enough.
Both my children and my brother's kids were born in foriegn countries, but can claim Canadian
citizenship is they wish by virtue of the citizenship of their parents. But unless my grandchildren are born in Canada, they will no have that same option. A recent change in the law means that my children are not Canadian enough to pass on citizenship to their own kids should they be born outside the country.
Another comparitively recent change in law means that since I have been out of the country for five years, I can no longer vote in any election in Canada.

I suppose its a matter of self preservation for the Conservatives. After all, anyone who has been exposed to the world outside their provincial little town or who has a stake in multiculturalism isn't likely to vote for Stephen Harper and his gang of isolationist ignoramuses.

Update: Haroon Siddiqui flays another strip off the Conservative carcass and brings up another example of the abandonment of Canadians who aren't in Canada at the moment. So much for Stephen Harper's boast of Canada "returning" to the world stage.

The government also forced a court battle over Ron Smith, the Canadian on death row in Montana, whom it didn't want to help. The Federal Court ordered it to.
Since we abolished the death penalty, governments routinely used to urge
clemency. Not the Tories.
They have also quietly put the brakes on the transfer of Canadian prisoners from abroad to serve out their terms in Canada. Stockwell Day and now Peter Van Loan, as public safety ministers, have been rejecting official recommendations for such transfers. They've done so in about 50 cases, invoking national security or claiming that the person in question "poses a danger to Canada."
Gar Pardy, the retired head of the consular section of the foreign ministry, says that "previous governments used to treat everyone the same. Once all the legal procedures were complete with a Canadian case abroad, we'd ask for transfer and I do not remember a single case of ministerial rejection. Now it's routinely rejected."
Why? "There's no rationality. You can't put a finger on it. With Stockwell Day, it may be a case of ideology or Old Testament righteousness."

"Ideology or Old Testament righteous" you say? To-may-to, to-mah-to. And neither one has anything to do with helping Canadians.

Netroots Nation in Second Life

This is going to be a long post, but bear with me, it's for your own good.

Look, you've been reading this blog for a while and so you probably know I'm involved in Second Life, running movies and DJing parties and generally hanging out. And you know my politics are somewhat to the left of the more conservative parties in North America -- okay, I've jokingly endorsed the hunting of conservatives with dogs, I admit it, and my selection of Pete Seeger as Spiritual Leader of the Moment might have been a bit of a giveaway, but, yeah, I suppose you could say I am "of the left" in the general scheme of things. And if you've been hanging around here, I'm guessing you might be too.
So that makes this weekend a big deal for both of us.
This weekend is the annual gathering of the lefty/progressive/reality-based internet tribes, Netroots Nation! A whole heap of people like Atrios and Jesus' General and a cast of thousands are descending on Pittsburgh to network, party, plot strategy, party, trade ideas, party, attend workshops, party, listen to speakers, party, and generally celebrate the idea that the United States of America is a liberal democracy that is no longer run by fascist thugs. And party.
Netroots Nation started out as the annual convention for the Daily Kos website, or the Great Orange Satan as its known on the right wing blogs and sort of morphed to become the pre-eminent gathering of web connected liberal activists.
This is not just some random coming together of net geeks and professional protestors - two years ago the convention was addressed by all the Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Last year Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore spoke. This year, in just a few hours, Bill Clinton will give the opening address, so, yeah, its kind of a big deal.
Now, obviously, going all the way to Pittsburgh is a pretty big effort and would cost you a bunch of money for airfare and accomdation and registration and all that, BUT THERE IS AN EASIER WAY!!!!

Thanks to the efforts of a bunch of dedicated net activists (who just happen to be my pals), you can attend Netroot Nation 2009 absolutely FREE through the magic of the intertubes. Just sign up for Second Life (totally free and you won't get a whole bunch of spam, I promise) and get your virtually butt to the Netroots Nation in Second Life island to see the main events live via streaming video, attend special exclusive Second Life panel discussions on net activism and meet and greet all the coolest people on the internet at the evening parties in the Second Life ballroom. Volunteer are standing by to help you get your virtual self together when you arrive and believe me, the folks involved are beyond friendly.

Bill Clinton speaks at 5 pm PDT/ 8 pm EDT on Thurday.

The rest of the schedule is here.

How can this be free you ask? Is it some kinda liberal commie pinko plot? Well, yeah, it is. You see that little widget on the right side of the blog urging you to buy "The Revolution Will Be Streamed"? Among the many, many other people who have contributed blood, sweat, tears and cash, all those musicians donated their talents so that we could raise some cash to pay to bring you Netroots Nation in Second Life for free, so if you don't go, you are going to be scorning their gift, which is really kinda rude. You don't want to be rude, right? You'd like to hear what Jesus' General sounds like in real life, right? So, what the hell are you waiting for? Get inworld now! It is FREE

Special offer: In fact, its even better than free. I'm so sure that you will enjoy the virtual world of Second Life, aside from the obviously super fun netroots nation conference, that I know you will stick around and hang out at my virtual club, the Red Zeppelin. How sure am I? So sure that I will give $100 virtual dollars (Lindens) to anyone who can find me at any of the NNSL events this weekend in Second Life. All you have to do is mention the Woodshed or the Galloping Beaver and I will give you $100, AND I will throw in a package of free virtual stuff like one of the super cool mini-zeppelins seen above. My name in the virtual world is RevPaperboy Boozehound, stop by the Red Zeppelin booth or just look for the guy in the Fez.

Netroots Nation in Secondlife from Shinigamikayo on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

he's not sayin', he's just...you know...sayin'

Sure, he's a block away from where the president is speaking, and he's carrying a sign suggesting the need for violent revolution/assasination and bloodshed while packing heat, but it isn't a threat. He's just a patriotic American exercising his legal second amendment rights.

Remember when George Bush was president and pacifist peaceniks were getting jailed for wearing the wrong T-shirt to town hall meetings and protestors were kept penned up in "Free Speech Zones? I never thought that would seem like the good old days. If this guy can get through a 30 second TV interview, he's going to be the new poster child of the gun-toting angry right. Imagine Joe the Plumber with a 9 mm instead of a monkey wrench.

Update (or should I say reload?)
Yup, a gun nut for certain. Chris Mathews, as usual, acts like a dick, rattling on and making the whole process about his questions rather than the guest's answers, but the answers are there. This nimrod thinks people should pack heat at all times. Yeah, that's a good idea, look how well it's worked out elsewhere in the world, like say, Ethiopia or Afghanistan. And notice he has nothing to say about health care. He says he knows history when it comes to assassinated presidents and yet still brought a gun to a public meeting, supposedly to make a point about standing up for people's rights. Funny how no one ever thought to bring a gun to public meeting during the eight years that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were shredding the Constitution.

Until someone finds out that this guy has a criminal record of shooting people or molesting goats or some such crap, I think we can count on seeing him on FOX at least once a week as their new "Second Amendment expert" or some such nonsense.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

But can they stop Godzilla?

There a general election at the end of the month here in Japan so the parties are busy running around trying to show how on top of things they are and how they have every possible contingency covered in their little policy books. Naturally, the papers have been full of policy stuff for weeks, much of it pretty vague and dry, but I did find this little nugget of awesome at the bottom of a very long article on defense policy in today's Daily Yomiuri:

One of the major policies proposed by New Party Nippon is to reorganize the SDF and launch a study to establish an organization--tentatively called "The Thunderbird Squad"--geared toward international assistance.

Sadly, the article did not elaborate or reveal whether New Party Nippon is favor of granting the Tracy family Japanese citizenship.

Sure, they are good at international rescue, but can they handle Godzilla?

Maybe they would be better off following the example of the last elected Japanese Prime Minister Junichro Koizumi and Calling Elvis.

The New Know-Nothings

I often think he's a sexist pig and frequently wish he'd just shut up already about atheism and religion, but Bill Maher is right: Americans are stupid. I don't think all Americans are stupid, but there is a vast swath of dumbness that seem to run through the population like a venereal disease.

I give you exhibit A:

In other pockets of the state, the reaction to Democratic proposals has been strong, too. At a recent town-hall meeting in suburban Simpsonville, a man stood up and told Rep. Robert Inglis (R-S.C.) to "keep your government hands off my Medicare."

"I had to politely explain that, 'Actually, sir, your health care is being provided by the government,' " Inglis recalled. "But he wasn't having any of it."

................. Uh, yeah.

And lest you think it is only the man in the street that is stupid, I give you exhibit B, from the editorial of the very elite, very serious, very important right-wing organ Investors Business Daily:

The controlling of medical costs in countries such as Britain through rationing, and the health consequences thereof are legendary. The stories of people dying on a waiting list or being denied altogether read like a horror movie script.
The U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) basically figures out who deserves treatment by using a cost-utility analysis based on the "quality adjusted life year."
One year in perfect health gets you one point. Deductions are taken for blindness, for being in a wheelchair and so on.
The more points you have, the more your life is considered worth saving, and the likelier you are to get care.
People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

........Uh, yeah.

And then there's Sarah Palin latest gem about a "death panel" and the twice-elected former President George W. Bush trying to justify the invasion of Iraq through Biblical prophecy, and the birthers and...aw, hell that's just this month and it's only the second week of the month.

John Stuart Mill also was right on the money.

(major tip of the hat to Chet at the Vanity Press, who's leads I have totally stolen, though in my defense, he did steal my post title, which I stole from this guy. As Pete Seeger said, "Plagiarism is basic to all culture.")

the return of the son of Ukulele blogging's revenge - acoustic boogaloo

Just when I thought I was out, he dragged me back in! And it isn't even the weekend!

Just for that - a double shot of sweet, sweet homemade pop goodness. What is it with Sixpence None the Richer and young girls with ukuleles? Whatever it is, it's a good thing. I think I'm starting like this band by osmosis now....

the orginal

The cover

the original

the cover

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Watching the Detectives

Join us high in the skies of Second Life for this week's episode of Radio Woodshed and the Glorious People's Cinema Project of the Second Life Marxist Lennonist Party - this week's movie is Neil Simon's tribute to all those great detectives: Murder By Death

The music starts at 5 in the West, 8 in the East ( and 9 am Monday in Tokyo) and the film will roll at 7 pmPDT/ 10 pmEDT