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

Saturday, March 19, 2011

the PM, the conman, the blonde hooker and the Colonel

While I've been a bit distracted this week with personal matters , I have been paying some attention to the non-Japan related news. Really, there seems to be no depth to which Stephen Harper will not sink. With the revelation that one of his former close advisors did time for fraud and is currently involved in a dubious lobbying effort to enrich his 20-something escort fiance, and the looming likelihood that his government will be found in contempt of Parliament, Stephen Harper is feeling a bit cornered. It is  doubtful that he will win his precious majority if an election is called this spring and so he has tried telling voters that the disaster in Japan was sufficient reason to delay a vote.
When we didn't buy that, he stepped up his campaign of parliamentary obstructionism (dropping over 1,000 pages of documents 15 minutes before the committee session ended, for example) to try to avoid having his government and ministers found in contempt of Parliament. Tune in next week when he tells us that us that the government being found in contempt of Parliament is an example of how Michael Ignatieff hates democracy and is just some Johnny-come-lately who is playing games with the economy and is the son of Russian aristocrats not a "real immigrant"and besides LIBYA! FREEDOM! Democracy! Whisky! Sexy! We are at War! Don't switch horses in midstream! 
And if that doesn't work, expect him to try proroguing the house again, just to "save it from itself" and delay the budget so that he can "focus on the economy and the war."

Now, having said all that, let me clarify a few things: While Stephen Harper is a lying, power-grabbing, egomaniac and he may or may not be doing it for the wrong reasons, I think he is doing the right thing on Libya.
Yes, mark the day on the calendar -- I agree with Stephen Harper on something.
I think the moral choice with regards to Libya is at this stage is intervention by the international community. Libya is not Iraq, it is not Vietnam, it is not Bahrain. The closest comparison I can think of is Spain in the 1930s. There is a brutal, corrupt, autocratic ruler. There is a viable democratic opposition engaged in a popular revolution that has shown it has the hearts and minds of the population behind it. The regime in this case is being propped up by superior military firepower. The loyalists in the Libyan armed forces are mostly mercenaries and those who have profited from their affiliation with the regime. There have been numerous defections from the military by those troops and commanders who have refused to attack their own people.
As it would have been in Spain, the moral thing to do here is to side with the people against an autocrat that would crush them and murder those who dare to dissent.
The right thing to do is to freeze all of the Colonel's assets abroad, deny him jet fuel, artillery shells and other munitions.
The right thing to do is level the playing field by arming the people in Benghazi and Tobruk and elsewhere to allow them to defend themselves.
The right thing to do is to prevent the Colonel from bombing his own people or turning his tanks and artillery on the people who seek to be free from his corrupt and brutal regime.
It isn't a matter of sending troops into a quagmire, it isn't a matter of sticking our nose in where it isn't wanted.
It is a matter of dropping a few bombs and firing a few missiles to avoid a genocide and another generation of oppressive, autocratic rule in Libya, by a man who has supported terrorism in numerous forms (the Lockerbie bombing, arming the IRA, etc etc)
Just because Stephen Harper supports it doesn't make it a bad idea.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Good News!

Mrs.Paperboy spoke to one of the people running one of the evacuation centers in Wakayanagi again last night. Still no direct word about her parents, but apparently their part of town was not badly damaged and while there were a couple of hundred people injured, no fatalities have been reported in their area thus far. The guy she talked to said they still had no running water, gas, electricity or phone service (he was on an emergency satellite phone I assume) but that the electricity could be back on in some parts of town in the next day or two. The man at the evacuation centre said a lot of locals are spending the day at the centre - it has some heat and lights and some food and water is available- and then returning home to sleep. This is good news and is really helping us stay positive.

Mrs. Paperboy is on the phone with her mother right now. Everyone is okay. Everyone go have a beer or six and celebrate, then send some money to the Red Cross. Thanks everyone for your concern and support through this difficult week.


Monday, March 14, 2011

The Waiting

It has been, in the sense of the old Chinese curse, an interesting weekend.
The earthquake and tsunami that struck north-eastern Japan on Friday and the subsequent nuclear crisis are frightening events that hit very, very close to home for me and mine.
As many of you know, I spent many years in Japan and Mrs. Rev. Paperboy is a Japanese national. Furthermore, Sendai is pretty much her hometown and her parents live in a nearby village in Miyagi Prefecture, well inland from the city. Neither of us has had much sleep since Friday and we still have not received any word about her parents.
We are grateful for the outpouring of concern among friends and family and we thank you for your emails, phone calls, tweets, visits and other expressions of support. Pardon us if we don't respond swiftly or at all for the moment, we appreciate your kindness.
But we are still waiting.
At the moment there is still no electricity or telephone service in the affected area and we are still trying constantly to get through via telephone and email to our family there. Meanwhile, we are doing our best to keep calm and carry on.

The best thing you can do to help us right now is give money to the Red Cross (click the link or text the word ASIA to 30333 to make a one-time donation of $5) or go out and give blood.