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

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Is there something in the water supply in Arizona?

Or are people there just being taught to be racist dingbats?
Apparently an elementary school in Prescott, Az., allowed the students to vote on what kind of mural they would like to decorate the school with and the kids chose a painting of themselves. Professional artists were called in and worked with the kids to create a mural on the exterior of the school that portrayed the students attending the institution. The problem, apparently, is that some of the students have the temerity to not be white! And so local knuckledraggers, encouraged by (surprise, surprise, surprise!) a local radio talk show host and city councilman, took to driving by and shouting racist epithets at the school and the kids working on the mural.
So in response the principal organized groups of kids to shower the cars of the racist fuckknuckles with bricks and molotov cocktails as they drove by ordered the skin tones of the African American and Latino kids in the mural to be lightened. Nice example to set, Captain Courageous.

On the plus side, now that this story has hit the national press, the radio host, city councilman Steve Blair, has been fired from the radio station. However, he is still a member of the city council and a giant racist douche bag.

Just listen to him in this brief interview in which he is given every chance to backpeddle or reconsider being a racist douche bag and yet, still insists on there is nothing wrong with his actions and that his encouraging people to terrorize a bunch of third graders is all about "freedom."

Big tip of the hat to Cliff at Rusty Idols

RIP Jeanne Robinson

The wife and co-author of one of my favorite writers, hell - favorite people in the world, Spider Robinson died last Sunday. Godspeed, traveller.
If anybody needs me, I'll be under that bottle of Bushmills over in the corner with my copy of Stardance.

Friday, June 04, 2010


That's what I feel for Dimitri Soudas and apparently what he feels for the Canadian Parliament and the centuries-old rules of the Westminster Parliamentary system in which it has long been established that the supreme authority rests with Parliament and not with the Prime Minister. Since he has now dodged a formal summons to appear before a Parliamentary committee and insulted Parliament, I cannot see a single good reason for the House of Commons not to proceed with a charge of Contempt of Parliament against this arrogant little shit and have him tossed in jail. And perhaps his boss and a few of his henchmen while they are at it. This is a bluff that the opposition must call -- for the sake of the future of the parliamentary democracy in Canada, they cannot afford to do otherwise.

We've been working on the (BC) railroad

RossK of the Gazetteer joins me on the Maple Syrup Revolution to explain the intricacies of the BC Rail scandal and explore the world of the BC media and blogosphere. You might want to take notes.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Boys and their toys

As mentioned below, the Canadian government is spending over a billion dollars on security for the upcoming Group of Eight and Group of Twenty summit dog-and-pony shows. This is more than five times the original estimate and dwarfs the amounts spent on similar summits in London (April 2009 $30 million) and Pittsburgh (Sept. 2009 -$18 million) both of which dealt with more protesters than can probably be expected in "Toronto the Good"
Some of the money has gone on shiny new toys for the RCMP, OPP and Toronto Police riot squads, crowd control units and motorcade cops as well as the usual close protection bodyguard types, though naturally all the world leaders will be bringing their own sizable security details. About a million dollars has been spent to buy the Toronto Police four "sound notifiers" aka sonic cannons capable of producing sound pressure/ decibel levels about the same as standing behind a 747 when it revs its jets. This isn't just a loud public address system, it is a weapon that causes extreme pain and permanent hearing damage.
Of course that leaves about another $1,099,000,000 for police y, new horses and motorcycles, riot gear, pepper spray, tasers, and lots and lots of "consulting fees" for "security experts" and plenty of contracts for private security firms. I bet this guy doesn't get any of it.
In fact, it is so much money that they could have simply paid every man, woman and child in the entire province of Ontario about $95 just to stay home for those two weekends and still have had enough to provide a similar level of security to the Pittsburgh summit. Or they could have paid everyone in the Greater Toronto Area about $200 to spend the weekend out of town. If that seems like overkill, we could strictly limit it to Metro Toronto, give all 2.48 million residents $400 and still have more than three times as much as they spent on the London summit to buy coffee and donuts for the Toronto cops.
In addition to the gratuitous skimming and graft bookkeeping problems, my real worry is that you can't give the boys their toys and not expect them to play with them. As we've seen numerous times since the needless pepper-spraying of demonstrators at the 1997 APEC summit to the over-reaction of police at Queen's Park in Toronto in 2000, in New York at the 2004 Republican Convention and at the Minnesota 2008 Republican Convention, if you bring in enough riot cops, you are going to have a riot.
Even if the cops have to try to start it themselves.

Sound familiar?

Any resemblance between this list and any comments by the Harper government, Bush Administration or BP management are strictly coincidental I'm sure.

hat tip to Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money

"Please your honour, have pity on a poor orphan"

One of the advantages of being a conservative seems to be a willingness to engage in the most shameless of behaviours without the faintest scintilla of embarrassment or self-consciousness.

Exhibit A

"The whole concept of prison should be terminated, except for violent criminals and chronic non-violent recidivists, and replaced by closely supervised pro bono or subsistence-paid work by bonded convicts in the fields of their specialty. Swindlers and embezzlers, hackers and sleazy telemarketers are capable people and they should serve their sentences by contributing honest work to government-insured employers."
Imagine my amazement, Conrad "the sweetheart of cell block C" Black now thinks prisons are terrible places and that people convicted of fraud should not be incarcerated. How very, very convenient. I betcha Ted Bundy was opposed to capital punishment, too. Surprisingly, other than the aforementioned free ride for non-violent crimes, I mostly agree with Black's piece in the National Toast - somebody mark the day on calendar and check whether there is some kind of strange planetary alignment.

This, from the preceding paragraph, made me laugh out loud:

"The Canada I remember and look forward to returning to ..."

Oh, Lord Tubby of Fleet, how very droll of you -- how soon we forget.

Exhibit B

TORONTOJune 2 /CNW/ - Maclean's magazine in association with the Historica-Dominion Institute, L'actualit√© and Presenting Sponsor TD, celebrated the fourth annual Parliamentarians of the Year awards this evening on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Attended by members of Parliament, some of the country's most prominent journalists and other Canadians of note, the event honours Canada's top MPs, as voted by their peers in the House of Commons.
Almost 70 per cent of all members of Parliament from across all parties voted for this year's Parliamentarians of the Year. Winners and runners-up cross all political lines as well.
The award winners will be featured in a special issue of Maclean's hitting newsstands tomorrow, Thursday, June 3, and in L'actualit√©, on newsstands Friday, June 4. Full award results, photos, runners-up and methodology can also be found at macleans.ca/parliamentarians.

Parliamentarian of the Year

This year's Parliamentarian of the Year is the Hon. John Baird (Conservative), minister of transport, infrastructure and communities and MP for Ottawa West-Nepean. Mr. Baird was elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2008, the same year he was sworn in as minister of transport, infrastructure and communities.

Seriously. That would be this John Baird.  Yeah, this one, this stonewalling obstructionist douchbag. I can only guess that this award is a reaction to the snark shortage resulting from this. I won't even get into the matter of CTV getting Tom Flangan -Stephen Harper's former chief of staff - to come on and "analyze" Baird's behavior with a series of false equivalencies and outright apologetics. I'll just say that Walter Cronkite would not have invited Pat Buchanan or G. Gordon Liddy onto his newscast to analyze the Watergate hearings.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Brave warriors fighting for freedom -- maybe, maybe not

History professor and former soldier Andrew Bacevich, a self-declared "conservative Catholic" who served in Vietnam and the Gulf War, discusses the American Memorial Day holiday in light of the death of  death of his son three years ago in Iraq and the United States' history of imperialistic military adventures. As pointed out by Thers, Bacevich says things one no longer expects to see in the mainstream media:

As a non-American and non-veteran, I speak from considerably less authority, but I will tap-dance a little further into the minefield of our current western culture of military fetishization and beatification of anyone in a uniform. Not only are U.S. (and Canadian and British and other assorted Western soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan) not fighting for our--or anyone else's--freedom, I don't think they are necessarily any braver or more virtuous than anyone else. 
Even if you ascribe the best, most virtuous, most noble of motivations to the average U.S. Marine rifleman in Afghanistan -- that is, you assume he enlisted to "fight for freedom" not because he needed money for college or enlisted in a fit of jingoistic enthusiasm or because his father was in the service or just because he thought that "Full Metal Jacket" was a kick-ass film when he was 18 years old - consider his situation. He has been carefully, methodically, expertly trained. He is clad in ballistic armor, equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry and nearly unlimited ammunition, hot chow, top-level battlefield medical care, satellite communications, on-call air support, a massive logistics and intelligence infrastructure supporting him with every thing from hot showers to aerial photographic reconaissance. He is likely transported to the battlefield by armored vehicle or helicopter and knows that if he can stay alive, he can go home from the war when his tour of duty is over.
Consider his opponent - the mujahedeen, the Iraqi insurgent or the Taliban. He has a 20-year old Kalishnakov and a spare magazine - maybe even a grenade or two. If he is extremely fortunate, he might even have a decent pair of boots. He eats what he can scrounge, forage or steal in an impoverished countryside. He knows the terrain and local language because he has been fighting a war here for most of his adult life and will continue to do so until he dies, surrenders or wins -- just keeping his head down and running out the clock is not an option for him. Even if you attribute the most heinous of motives to him -- that he is fighting because he "hates freedom" or just "wants to murder Americans" - and presume that he is not trying to repel a foreign invader, defend his religion and way of life from "decadent and corrupt infidels"  or simply following his father (and probably grandfather) into the what has become the family business -- what make him any less brave than his opponent?

I don't mean this as criticism of those serving in Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere else the powers-that-be have sent those who volunteered to serve their country, I mean it as a criticism of the blind acceptance that our warriors are somehow morally superior to theirs, that we are better than them simply by virtue of being us or that picking up a rifle somehow makes you a better person than anyone else, that being a soldier is somehow morally superior to being a doctor or a teacher or a farmer.

Is a suicide bombing of a police station in Baghdad really more heinous than an air strike on a wedding party? If you consider the matter of intention, yes, it is - but that makes very little difference to the people on the receiving end. And in the end, how does either the air strike or the terrorist response make any of us more free? And does anyone doubt that in the unlikely event the tables were turned -- if the wingnut fantasy nightmare scenario of a gigantic Islamic Caliphate superpower somehow came to pass and the Western world was somehow invaded and occupied -- that our tactics would be any less desperate? The history of Israel, of Ireland and of the French and Czech resistance in World War Two suggest otherwise.

Why are we so sure we are the good guys?

Update: Cathie from Canada, in response to this post raises the question "so how do we decide whose side God is on?"  Allow me to let Joan Baez answer that question with a lengthy quote from Bob Dylan.

Monday, May 31, 2010

i think i may have a new favorite movie

Nominated for best picture in 1965 and beaten by the Sound of Music.

"Nick in a moment, you're going to see a horrible thing"
        "What's that?"
"People going to work"

for those with shorter attention spans -- the music

I may be the first to say this in about 75 years, but Lee Morse -- hubba hubba!