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

Friday, January 20, 2012

Smug, okay maybe a little, but I think it's justified

with a tip of the beaver hat to the esteemed Mr. Otter, who reads & comments but does not blog


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Trash talking us into war

I think most reasonable people, at least in hindsight, would agree that one of the things the Liberals' got right under Chretien and Martin was keeping Canada out of the gigantic deadly goat rodeo known as the Iraq War.
Remember how in the months that lead up to the invasion we were told again and again that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction, that there was no question he was working on 'nookyalur' weapons, that Saddam Hussein was seen french kissing Osama Bin Laden under the bleachers during the homecoming game. This was all given as gospel truth by the White House, Pentagon, CIA and about 90% of the Western Media.
And yet, hundreds of billions of dollars and a million or so deaths later, we know it was all bullshit. They were wrong or lying or both.
Iraq was about as close to having nukes or a means to deliver them as say, Guatemala is and was about as much a military threat to its neighbours at that point as Belgium is to France, Germany and Britain.
Outside of a very few conservative true believers and George W. Bush's inner circle, no one, least of all the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, think the invasion of Iraq worked out well.
Remember too, that Stephen Harper very much wanted Canada to take part in the Iraq War.
Now that Harper has his majority, he cannot and will not be denied his opportunity to show the world that Canada is a major player on the world stage just as capable of killing lots of non-Western Nogoodniks and Nogoodnik women and terrorist children as any other NATO member and not just some namby-pambly peacekeeper. Truly, lives could be saved if someone would just give the man a ruler, tell him the centimetres are really inches and send him off to measure his little Cheney.
Even though the current U.S. president is likely to be reelected without having start a war with Iran, Harper, ever hopeful of a victory for his Republican fellow travellers, is already laying the groundwork to take Canada into the next war of choice.

  “I’ve raised the alarm as much as I can, but obviously I don’t advocate particular actions publicly. I work with our allies to see if we get consensus on actions,” he said.
Mr. Harper said he has no doubt that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. “There is absolutely no doubt they are lying,” Mr. Harper said, referring to statements by Iran that the nuclear program is for peaceful uses.
“The evidence is just growing overwhelming. This is not, as was the case of Iraq, merely the opinion of allies,” he said.
The development of nuclear weapons as one of the purposes of Iran’s nuclear program “is just beyond dispute at this point,” he said. “The only dispute is how far advanced it is and how far off it will be until they actually develop those weapons and develop the capability of delivering the weapons.” 
Given that Israeli and U.S. conservative hawks have been warnings Iran is just x-number of years/months/weeks/days/hours away from "getting the bomb" roughly every two weeks since the Shah was chased out of Tehran, I tend to take such certainty with a bushel or two of salt.
Given the number of sabres being rattled at it, Iran would be wise to follow North Korea's example and actually get hold of some nukes. Saddam Hussein didn't and look what happened to him.
Mind you, it isn't just that Harper want to get his war on for its own sake, he also thinks he sees a way to turn a dollar or three for his oil-patch pals:

Also during the interview, Mr. Harper linked the debate over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas with concern over Iran’s threat to blockade the main shipping route for oil in the Middle East. “It’s pretty obvious what the right decision is … not just from an economic and environmental standpoint, but from an energy security standpoint,” Mr. Harper said. “When you look at the Iranians threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz, I think that just illustrates how critical it is that supply for the United States be North American,” Mr. Harper said.
The winning quote from the interview though, by far was this bit of classic right wing projection. The same comment could have come from any leader in the Middle East, Asia, Eastern Europe, South America or Africa in discussing the United States and conservative Canada.
“In my judgment, these are people who have a particular, you know, fanatically religious worldview, and their statements imply to me no hesitation of using nuclear weapons if they see them achieving their religious or political purposes,” 


It isn't your imagination, they really are talking to themselves

The SUN-TV news network was never intended to cover the news, it was intended to make the news. Some might even say make up the news, but what I mean is that the gang of clown-shoed commentators put together by right-wing Quebecor chieftain Pierre Karl Peladeau and former PMO flack Kory Teneycke are paid to act out and grab headlines, not to report the news.
Nobody watches SUN-TV outside of a few elderly shut-ins, the staff at QMI newspapers who are a captive audience, Blogging Tories and professional media watchers. 

Bill Brioux, a freelance TV writer for CP, owner of TVFeedsMyFamily.com and a former Sun Media TV columnist, has access to BBM numbers. He says the audiences for Sun News Network are indeed minuscule.

“Very few Canadians watch Sun News Network. A look at the BBM Canada overnight, estimated ratings for a typical mid-week night, Wed. Dec. 28, showed that their highest rated show was The Source with Ezra Levant at 10 p.m. with 38,000 viewers across Canada. ByLine with Brian Lilley at 9 pulled 35,000. Only 5,000 and 6,000 of those viewers were between 25 and 54, across Canada. There are more people, on any given night, in a mall in Toronto,” says Brioux.

So who does watch Sun News Network? “The vast majority of the few viewers SNN does get are way over 50, outside the demo advertisers want. So SNN draws enough on a nightly basis to fill a senior’s mall,” says Brioux.

He went on to say that after the top two shows, Sun News Network gets even fewer viewers. “Beyond Lilley and Levant’s shows—the two highest rated SNN offerings by far—everything else stiffs,” says Brioux. “Charles Adler has bombed from the beginning, drawing 8,000 at 8 p.m. and 2,000 at 11 p.m. on the 28th—and zero in the 25–54 demographic both hours, across Canada.”

As for David Akin’s Daily Brief, Brioux says 6,000 viewers tuned in over the supper hour. But the late-night slot tanked. “Daily Brief at midnight got zip and zip—so few viewers, BBM Canada could not measure them. The same night, CBC News Network peaked at 198,000/60,000 viewers.”

The idea behind the "news" network is to make a lot of noise through calculated and contrived outrageousness and get the other media in the country to pay attention. This results in the media that most people do watch and read - the CBC, CTV, Global TV, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Province et al - reporting "both sides of the story" and thus giving the radical right wing side of an issue equal balance with the truth, thus advancing the radical conservative neofascist agenda.
Every time Ezra Levant prances around in a fright wig or tells a foreign executive to go fuck his mother for opposing the destruction of the environment, every time some ignorant spokesbimbo insults a guest and spouts nonsense, every time Michael Coren tells the audience that real Canadians hate brown people and non-Christians --it makes the news, the blogs (including this one) go nuts and people talk about it.
With very few exceptions - and they should be ashamed of themselves - the people on SUN TV don't care about the news or journalism or truth - that isn't the business they are in. They will say or do anything to get covered by other media. They have to, because no one is watching them.
Essentially, SUN TV is engaged in cultural trolling and the way you get rid of trolls is to quit feeding them. So I call on other bloggers, other journalists, the real news media in Canada to stop giving these trolls the oxygen of public attention.
As long as the CRTC refuses to force cable companies to make them a standard station and force subscribers to give them money, SUN-TV will not turn a profit. Eventually PKP will get sick of shovelling money down a hole and Levant, Adler, Coren, Erickson and the rest will all be forced to go out and try to get real jobs.
And being a professional clown only looks good on a resume if you are applying for a job at Ringling Brothers or a rodeo.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Street curling


Oh the weather outside is frightful...

and I don't have a goddamn fireplace  to curl up in front of with a  good book while it drizzles outside (Rain? in January? in Canada? Are you shitting me? There ought to be a foot-and-a-half of snow outside by now at least, not this filthy mud.)

So I decided I needed a little Florida on Monday and reread this old favourite while waiting in the car for Mrs. Paperboy to go through a two hour job interview for a job for which she is massively overqualified.

#6 The Deep Blue Goodbye by John D. MacDonald
The first in MacDonald's series of books starring Travis McGee "non-conformist, boat bum, knight in slightly tarnished armour" is, like most of MacDonald's stuff, a 'page-turner' (a cliched term I loathe, but in this case accurate without the negative connotation of something only sold in train stations and airports).
McGee's Florida is a dark and sunny place, full of bikini babes and human sharks. This first one in the long running series, most instalments of which I read before I finished high school, is a bit long on the philosophizing and has a relatively simple plot compared to later works. Some of MacDonald's riffing on sociology and psychology is a bit dated, but like Fleming's James Bond, the strength of the characters, especially the hero, carries the story along very nicely.
MacDonald was already a well established writer, having published dozens of novels and hundreds of short stories in the 50's. He had publishers begging him to write a series featuring the same character for several years before he sat down and wrote not just this first book, but six more besides between 1962 and 1964 featuring "Dallas McGee"  - the first book being written three time before he was satisfied with it. The Deep Blue Goodbye sat in the publishers' office while he wrote the rest - just to make sure he could write a series. Of the first seven books written, two were never submitted for publication as MacDonald considered them failures. (Have a look here for a more comprehensive account of the creation of the series). He wrote over a million words before allowing the publishers to go ahead and bring the first book to market. The first three were published in rapid succession with the fourth and fifth close behind. MacDonald kept writing them until his death in 1986 and they continued to top the bestsellers charts.
I don't think they rise quite as high as Chandler's best, but they certainly follow the trail he blazed and the quality of writing is pretty high for the genre, the plots and characters ring true and the philosophical insights are...uh...insightful.
If you've never read any of the 21 (or is it 22?) books featuring Travis McGee, this one is a good place to start.
I've been to the library this week and just had returned to me three big boxes of books I left behind with a friend when I took off for Japan 15 years ago, so there is plenty of grist for the mill.  Time to start turning some more pages.