2010-01-31

This Is Sad

And infuriating. 

Culturally speaking of course.

2010-01-30

Piaf: A Cultural Icon

Is there a singer that screams 20th century France more than Edith Piaf?

Shivers.



2010-01-29

Je Travail!

My friends reminded me of an episode in French class a few years back. I wasn't the most, shall we say, dedicated student. I was, according to legend, a pretty funny guy. Actually, my gang very much like the Sweathogs. Teachers hated us as students but loved us as individuals. They were always impressed by what we knew outside the provincially mandated curriculum. Alas, they could not give marks for independent thought.

I remember sitting in detention with Miss Colbran; an English teacher I never had. We came to like one another through my many excursions out in the hall way. Aimlessly I would walk the school halls after being asked to leave class. I would eventually be joined by Pat, Claudio and Johnny. We'd talk about which girl we had our eye on, Aristotle, history, classic movies and music and bunch of other stuff. Often, hall monitors would join in on the conversation. Inevitably they'd wonder, "why are your grades so terrible?"

Rhetorical indeed.

Rumor has it she passed on but I've yet to hear confirmation of it. I'm going off on a tangent a little but I was over at Zeus is Watching and there I listened to a piece of music from Corelli. It brought me back to high school for some reason. And to Colbran. During my one hour  incarceration, me and Johnny sat at the front of the class talking to Colbran. She was talking about Bruce Springsteen's lyrics as poetry. "Quiet" she'd occasionally shout to the rest of the class. One scruffy tough rocker wasn't pleased by the double-standard. But she didn't care. "Can you talk about O'Henry like these duds can?"

In that hour we'd, ironically, learn more than we did in most classes.

French was tough. In order to master this intellectual language, you had to work at it and we simply weren't prepared to do so. In my mind, my French was good enough because I hung out with my Quebecois friends on my street. Flagging baseballs and engaging in amorous flirtations with them was enough for me.

I never did my homework. What I put that teacher through. One day she said, "Commentateur, tu ne travail pas!" To which I blurted out, comically, "J'travail hostie!"

The class broke out in laughter. Nick and Patrick, buddies to this day and far more serious about their studies (which is why they became engineers), still replay this story.

And they did so recently.

Drole.

Jury Still Out On Recycling

I may have linked to this in the past, but it's still a goodie.

"Recycling is garbage" in the NYT by John Tierney.

But we still need to do it! So the cry goes.

I do but I'm not sure if it makes a difference.

Guru Gas Does Service To Citizens

Let's place this in the "useful sites" category.

Dan McTeague is the guru of gas. Want to know what gas prices are in your area and other stuff relating to it?

Go here.

When Will England Stop Being Insane?

Read this.

Fucking nuts.

Apparently using the word "reliable" as in to describe a "reliable worker" is discriminatory against, erm, unreliable people.

Don't laugh at the Brits. We're not that far behind. After all, the West sinks or swims together.

Obama To End Constellation Program

A couple of the years back, scientists debated Obama's promise to cut funding to NASA. Apparently, it lacked "inspiration" and was no longer necessary.

A controversial decision to be sure. Looks like liberals are for it and conservatives against.

I understand NASA is an expensive if not bloated entity but I hope Obama has an alternative. It doesn't sound like it. I also get that with the nation in debt, they have to save money. Yet, I can't help but get the feeling the curtain is falling on American science.

I don't get this "Good. We don't need it" mentality.

During the Renaissance, humanists believed it was time for man to be the center of focus and not God. Truth and knowledge could be found within our soul. By the time the Americans and Russians came along, the spirit of the Renaissance resided up above. Space was the new frontier.

We've, mankind, have been at it for forty years. Forty years! Does Obama truly believe there's nothing left to explore? We're just beginning. Didn't they just discover the moon had water?

In his lecture to the nation the other night, he promised America would lead the green revolution. He didn't want other countries to take that mantle. He traded the environment for space in other words. I doubt Russia will slow down its space program. China may step up its game too.

It's a lousy trade if this assessment is right. It may even be a Ruthian error.

I would love to hear from thinkers and scientists on this issue.

2010-01-28

Obama Is Jeffersonian?

I read with interest with Walter Russell Mead's essay The Carter Syndrome in Foreign Policy tackling Obama's foreign policy philosophy. Tracing back the lineage of where modern leaders fit in American history is a messy if not contradictory game. As I learned it, Jefferson, Hamilton, Jackson and Wilson were the four pillars of American foreign policy- although I sometimes wonder if TDR belongs in this group. Mead attempts to fit Obama into this frame and with Jefferson in particular. John Lewis Gaddis offered a similar structure during the Bush years; in a book not an essay.

Mead sets it up this way:

In general, U.S. presidents see the world through the eyes of four giants: Alexander Hamilton, Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson. Hamiltonians share the first Treasury secretary's belief that a strong national government and a strong military should pursue a realist global policy and that the government can and should promote economic development and the interests of American business at home and abroad. Wilsonians agree with Hamiltonians on the need for a global foreign policy, but see the promotion of democracy and human rights as the core elements of American grand strategy. Jeffersonians dissent from this globalist consensus; they want the United States to minimize its commitments and, as much as possible, dismantle the national-security state. Jacksonians are today's Fox News watchers. They are populists suspicious of Hamiltonian business links, Wilsonian do-gooding, and Jeffersonian weakness.

Moderate Republicans tend to be Hamiltonians. Move right toward the Sarah Palin range of the party and the Jacksonian influence grows. Centrist Democrats tend to be interventionist-minded Wilsonians, while on the left and the dovish side they are increasingly Jeffersonian, more interested in improving American democracy at home than exporting it abroad.

Some presidents build coalitions; others stay close to one favorite school. As the Cold War ended, George H.W. Bush's administration steered a largely Hamiltonian course, and many of those Hamiltonians later dissented from his son's war in Iraq. Bill Clinton's administration in the 1990s mixed Hamiltonian and Wilsonian tendencies. This dichotomy resulted in bitter administration infighting when those ideologies came into conflict -- over humanitarian interventions in the Balkans and Rwanda, for example, and again over the
relative weight to be given to human rights and trade in U.S. relations with China.

More recently, George W. Bush's presidency was defined by an effort to bring Jacksonians and Wilsonians into a coalition; the political failure of Bush's ambitious approach created the context that made the Obama presidency possible.
It does get a little messy; especially when he argued Obama's strategic policies resemble Nixon (p.3 in link).

Is Obama Jeffersonian? Not everyone is convinced. If this seems incompatible on the surface. Jefferson was a fierce defender of State rights and individual freedom. I don't see that from Obama. On a foreign policy level, which is the purpose of the article, I suppose a case can be made, however, I'm not persuaded. But aren't modern moderate conservatives in fact suspicious of foreign wars as well? Wars equal big government.

If this was an interesting alliance, how about his assertion that Jackson's populism fits neatly into the policies of Republicans like George W. Bush and the Tea Party? Does it follow then, neoconservatism is an offshoot of Andrew Jackson's Democratic party? Ironies abound!

It would help if we could determine and articulate, were he alive today, where would Jefferson be on the political scale? I don't think he'd be liberal in its current form. Conservative? He was conservative but in a liberal enlightenment period. I've read that libertarians claim him. Moreover, national security as it stands today is greatly different than it was under the four aforementioned presidents.

It's certainly a thoughtful exercise.

Tim Tebow Goes With His Beliefs

Florida Gators QB (and Heisman Trophy winner) Tim Tebow and his mother will take a pro-life stance in a commercial during the Super Bowl. Obviously, duh, this is a controversial issue.

En passant, when a friend vehemently asserted at a dinner table years ago that forcing women to have children they can't take care of was a "drain on the economy." I found that to be insulting to humans in that he thought (I assume) they can't rise to face their responsibilities and account for their actions. What happens, I asked, if an abortion takes the life of a potential great mind humanity could use? I used Stephen Hawking as an example. It was either him or Lloyd Christmas. I think I made the right choice for that debate.

I don't remember his response.

In any event, I think the decision to have or not have an abortion is best left to the parties involved. We can't possibly judge since we can never know the full details and circumstances in people's lives. You just have to trust they take and make the right choice according to the best of their abilities.

Yeah Baby

South Park and Beck. The perfect e-Harmony match.

Literary Giant Salinger Dies; So Too Zinn

J.D. Salinger. Dead.

I so see myself becoming a recluse.

According to his biographer, the reason why Catcher in the Rye was never made into a movie was because Salinger believed if people wanted to know about it they should read it.

There you go. Screw fame and celebrity. Stay true to the craft.

***

Not a fan of revisionist history but Howard Zinn was a historian of note.

I can't really comment further. I've read large excerpts of his work and can't say I was overly excited about it. Maybe I'll sit and read texts in their entirety one day.

More On The State Of Union Lecture

Holy Jesus, the more I check into Obama's many claims the more I realize he has more arms than Vishnu. There's a metaphor in there somewhere.

Spending freeze? Yeah right. It will cost taxpayers a mint.

Obama is stunning in many ways. He never ceases to blame his problems on Bush; this time expanding his tenure to the" lost decade." Recall his "the police acted stupidly" comments. His comments about the South and their addiction to guns and pick ups. His hoi polloi. And during his lecture, he scolded the Supreme Court drawing the ire of Samuel Alito. First Joe Wilson and now Alito. For a guy who pleads to "work together" he sure is polarizing. Either Obama is on the right side of history, or he simply is ignorant (and arrogant to boot) about it.

See video here. He basically called them out. He's always calling someone out. It was rather discomforting to watch all those politicians stand up and cheer in the face of the Supreme Court. Not that I'm against sticking it to the man but Obama is making it a habit. Anyway. You decide. Much ado about nothing?

And then there's the whole trying KSM in New York thing. He didn't explain himself during his class but New York Mayor Bloomberg has formerly asked the administration to reconsider this unpopular decision. He was refused.

It seems like Obama's vision runs contrary to the nation.

More here at Moderate Voice.

Canada Kicks Ass In Haiti According To Clinton

Clinton praises Canada's response to Haiti.

Wait a sec.

I thought PM Harper was evil.

Isn't kinda funny that while people marched against prorogation and the other parties showed up to "work" (yeah right), in Parliament, Harper was actually doing something?

I doubt he'll get praise.

State Of The Union Address

Because you demanded it, here are my thoughts - mediocre they may be - about the Lecture To The Union Address. Did anyone get the feeling President Obama was looking for his chalk? "Where's that dang yellow chalk! Chin up, chin up! Look scholarly. You. Da. Man!"

I'm not gonna touch the "he's so eloquent and post-racial" thing. I'm sure there's plenty of that going around. Like for instance, this:

 

"I forgot he was black for an hour." And then, when I took my common sense medication he was black again. Sure. MSNBC is "real" intellectual commentating. Fuck. Me.

They were saying about Fox?

I'll let the experts dissect the speech. The Washington Post did a great job here. And check out Politifact here.

However, I will say this. I found it interesting how he spun the economy in a way such that he saved it from getting worse. In defense of his bank bailouts, he asserted he had "no choice" but to do it lest the economy falls apart. Unemployment would have doubled without it. This sounds a little exaggerated to me and I would love to cite a source but so far no one has fact check this claim. In essence, it's an "if I don't do this, this will happen" mode of logic.Weak in other words. It may very well be true but it never conclusively proved it would be the case. No one really could.

In the end, Obama donned his cape and became Captain Solv'rythin. He offered everything except promise everyone would get unlimited Ben & Jerry ice-cream. Can he even remotely deliver on all that?

He did make some good points, for example I think he scored well with his clean energy plea. Nonetheless, I get the feeling he's taking on way too much here.

***

Just a quick note on Obama's rebuke of the recent Supreme Court ruling on whether corporations can spend from their own treasuries during an election.  Which politifact concluded was exaggerated. If you're gonna take on the Big Supremo, and this is just me, you may want to get your facts a little less bent. No?

Be careful. If you don't force your kids to eat broccoli, Obama just may scold you dear parents. Don't laugh.

Sure, I guess he's free to opine about the decision, but to rebuke them publicly in such a manner? It seemed excessive to me.

That being said, I guess Alito could have remained stoic like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then again, she probably was sleeping. Bad form for all involved?

Still. I'd love to see Alito and Scalia take on Obama in an intellectual debate. It would be like watching a lion rip a zebra to shreds. You guess who the zebra would be.

I'd make it the under-card for the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.

2010-01-27

Is It The Commentator or The Commentatour?

The opening paragraph of Editing Canadian English (1988) - it's terribly wild - goes like this:

Canadian English, reflecting our country's historical ties to Britain and its geographical proximity to the the United States, has been influenced by both British and American cultures. It is no surprise, then, that Canadian use a hybrid of English that derives from the two spelling traditions.
Tell me about it. One of the toughest things is deciding when to use "colour" and "color." To "U" or not to "U!"

God dang it, is it "center" or "centre?" "Defense" or "defence?" The problem is only further deepened given Canadian editors really only have two dictionaries as sources: Oxford (Britain) and Webster's (USA). Apparently, we couldn't be bothered to create our own constantly updated dictionary. How hard can it be to keep up with Atlantic dialects and Franglais?

I guess establishing an indigenous Canadian editing style is like the car industry. Why create your own when you can use the Americans?

Truth is, this is the core of Canadian history. As much as we strenuously accentuate our distinct differences from both, we're every bit similar. Throughout our history nationalists have framed the question about our national identity as "do we go with the British or American model?" We opted for a hybrid and ended up, well, look at us. Our historical ties compelled us to go British with our political institutions (though legally Quebec chose the Civil Code as opposed to Common law as practiced among les autres in other provinces) and our economic and geographic realities aligned us (including Quebec) with American cultural interests. In between it all a Canadian voice struggles to be heard. Eh?

It's not easy being Canadian sometimes. Sniff.

Fox Ahead Of The Game

Public Policy Polling - a Democratic organization - released this media survey. Fox most trusted name in news? But I thought it wasn't a news organization. So it goes.

Job Creation Democratic Style

Interesting (and surprising) statistics revealing the Democratic record on job creation in the private sector.

Things are never what they seem.

Eh?

We Fail The Vulnerable

People take to the streets. Power to the people. Raw, raw, raw. I'm down with that.

They scream about proroguing - as if they cared in the past. They chant for environmentalism. They protest war. They march against big government.

Yet. Silence befalls us when it comes to treatment of our veterans and the elderly.

The existing conditions of how we care for our aging population is a miserable break down of our progressive standards. It's amazing we, and Canada isn't alone, didn't account for this. Worse, philosophically we speak, in weak moral platitudes, no doubt in an effort to blunt the looming long-term care crisis, as if they're an expense and a nuisance. We seem woefully unprepared and the only thing we can come up with is moving them around from lousy facility to lousy facility (if you can get one) or pulling plugs.

One chick not long ago railed about how she was "ashamed" to be Canadian because of our environmental record. Her priorities were not in proper perspective. The environment, parliamentary mechanisms or anything else for that matter, should not take precedence over the caring of the most vulnerable people in our society.

When will march for that?

From the CCPA.

Thoughts?

Mind Boggling Decision For Attempted Murder Case In Ontario

This stuff drives me absolutely crazy. Here. Read it for yourself. Try and tell me you're not stunned. An asshole inexplicably tries to kill someone and he gets less than two effen years for attempted murder? Wait. It gets better. Read carefully about the reasons why. It's insane.

What is wrong with this judge? It reminds me of all those hopeless and irrelevant (and stupid) defenses put up for that escaping criminal Polanski. "But he makes great movies!" or "He suffered enough!" or "He wasn't going to get a fair trial!" - like the appeal process was denied - and so on. None of that addresses the crime he committed. It's called a straw man. And we're seeing it in this atrocious case.

Then they wonder why people are beginning to take matters into their own hands. I know one thing, if I was ever to witness a murder or attempted murder, I would think LONG AND HARD before ever giving any type of statement knowing jerk offs like this judge are around. That's all I need. A guy getting one year for trying to remove someone's head with a butcher's knife coming into my neighborhood because he was denied a lollipop when he was six years old. Fuck that.

Bah. I must be missing something. 

Like I said in the past, the West is going down the tubes.

2010-01-26

Who Says We're Boring?

Then again, I've been to Fredericton.Still, give that guy a Funny Order of Canada!

Fonyo's Fall From Grace

Back in the 80s, the Terry Fox saga and his plight to raise money for cancer by running across this gigantic country captivated Canadians. I remember those days. We used to sit in class and watch his run. Sadly, his objective went incomplete after he succumbed to cancer. His legacy and influence remains.

In 1985, Steve Fonyo, a forgotten name in Canadian history, managed to finish what Fox couldn't and was given the Order of Canada. An honor that has been revoked. Sad to see where he ended up.

2010-01-25

Links Of Interest: Critical Thinking

What is circular reasoning?

What is Game Theory?

I like to banter and rant about politics from time to time but it's just that: babbling.

Lately I've been exploring the world of critical thinking. Trying to teach myself with all sorts of exercises.

It's hard.

I need to cheat.

Of course, I like to plug badarguments from time to time. 


Excercise Your Logic

Into Logic games?

Imagine the spice you can add to your sex life!

Buzz Word Of The Day: Prorogue

What is this obsession with prorogation?

Rallies? For prorogation? Hey, if it works for some. Good on them.

Still.

By this time next year, no one will even remember what it is. It'll all be a bad dream morphing into some other cause. Pro-gay-tion? Of course I'm for a Pro-Gay-Nation! 

This is pretty much how I remember things as The Concordian explains:

If members of the public are serious about their opposition to prorogation – and not merely jumping on any anti-Harper bandwagon – their anger should be directed towards the system that allows this to happen, rather than at a politician who is using the tools provided to him by our constitution and by the precedents set by those who came before him.

Prorogation has shown the holes in our system which was created for a different country at a different time, when political parties did not exist and the Sovereign (or their representative, like Canada's Governor General) wielded real power.

The Governor General has become a figurehead, an individual with enormous power but who cannot use it without direction from the Prime Minister. The executive has become a puppet of the government.

But of course, they're not really serious. Going to a rally to "save" democracy by busting Harper's balls is a little like trying to save it from the "notwithstanding clause." You can't attack the people who apply a legitimate political tool; you have to question the system itself.

In other words, if the rally was about "Let's remove proroguing powers from Canadian politics because it erodes our democratic process" as opposed to "Let's remove Harper from power because he's a threat to democracy," then maybe people would listen more. I know I would.

As the author explains, people, regardless of political backgrounds, have short term memories and attention spans. This thing about Harper doing it for sinister reasons - I want to be Fidel of the North! - as opposed to the Liberals doing it within the "rules" of political ethics is a bit too technical for my taste. There are no degrees of proroguing (to the extent I understand it) or moral attachments to it. Proroguing is just that: Postponing.

By its design, Canadian politics is anti-democratic; and that goes for any PM. The concentration of power in the PM is great leaving him (or her...or it) more powerful than an American president.

Didn't they used to call Jean Chretien the "Benign dictator?" Or was it the benevolent dictator? Whatever. He was also dubbed the "Teflon Man."

Call these rallies for what they are: Anti-Harper protests.

If the parties and their supporters are so fed up with Harper, call a damn election and see where it goes. If not, spare me the hypocritical bull shit.

2010-01-24

Breaking It Down With The Commentator

Aside from a bunch of "duhs" in this op-ed, there are a couple of paragraphs I'd like to break down in Frank Rich's piece in the NYT.

It was not a referendum on Barack Obama, who in every poll remains one of the most popular politicians in America. It was not a rejection of universal health care, which Massachusetts mandated (with Scott Brown's State Senate vote) in 2006. It was not a harbinger of a resurgent G.O.P., whose numbers remain in the toilet. Brown had the good sense not to identify himself as a Republican in either in his campaign advertising or in his victory speech.

So, what was it about?

Gotcha. It was about everything else. Remind me again?

Dunno. According to Rasmussen, the GOP look ok. Didn't Obama get in less on his ideas and more on the anti-Bush vote? And what about Obama's approval ratings? 

In a two-party system, when one falls the other stands to gain. Simple really.

And yet Tuesday's special election was a dire omen for this White House. 

Huh? I thought you just said...aw forget it.

Obama’s 50-ish percent first-anniversary approval rating matches not just Carter's but Reagan's. (Bushes 41 and 43 both skyrocketed in Year One.) Still, minor adjustments can’t right what’s wrong. 

I would love to see his source for 50ish because from what I've seen it's more like 40ish. Wait. I'm confused. First he sets it up that the loss wasn't what people think it was about, and that Obama's approval ratings still look healthy but yet he's deluding himself? That major adjustments are needed?

The president is no longer seen as a savior but as a captive of the interests who ginned up the mess and still profit, hugely, from it.

Newsflash. He always was a captive. When Goldman and GE gives you the dough you got you're pretty much taking it in the ass.

It’s a business culture where the rich and well-connected get richer while the employees, shareholders and customers get the shaft. And the conviction that the game is fixed is nonpartisan. If the tea party right and populist left agree on anything, it’s that big bailed-out banks have and will get away with murder while we pay the bill on credit cards — with ever-rising fees.

It's hard to disagree with this. However, can we cut it out with the "dysfunctional" economy thing? Our economy is not dysfunctional. Small-medium size businesses are pretty healthy. What's fucked up and makes it dysfunctional is the constant government intervention and the collusion with their buddies at the top.

Worse, the master communicator in the White House has still not delivered a coherent message on his signature policy. He not only refused to signal his health care imperatives early on but even now he, like Congressional Democrats, has failed to explain clearly why and how reform relates to economic recovery — or, for that matter, what he wants the final bill to contain. Sure, a president needs political wiggle room as legislative sausage is made, but Scott Brown could and did drive his truck through the wide, wobbly parameters set by Obama.

Ask yourself this: All these months later, do you yet know what the health care plan means for your family’s bottom line, your taxes, your insurance? It’s this nebulousness, magnified by endless Senate versus House squabbling, that has allowed reform to be caricatured by its foes as an impenetrable Rube Goldberg monstrosity, a parody of deficit-ridden big government. 

I'm not sure, but I think he just agreed with Limbaugh and the right.  That being said, I think he makes a valid point. It really didn't take a financial genius to do the math. Even this guy figured it out.

On the economic front, Obama needs both stylistic and substantive makeovers. He has stepped up the populist rhetoric lately — and markedly after political disaster struck last week — but few find this serene Harvard-trained lawyer credible when slinging populist rhetoric at "fat-cat" bankers.

Just something that was painfully obviously to some. I always got the distinct feeling he was about to pull out a chalk - a yellow one. I hated the yellow ones - to explain his lesson - erm, policies.

His two principal economic policy makers are useless, if not counterproductive, surrogates. Timothy Geithner, the Treasury secretary, was probably fatally compromised from the moment his tax lapses surfaced; now he is stalked by the pileup of unanswered questions about the still-not-transparent machinations at the New York Fed when he was knee-deep in the A.I.G. bailout. Lawrence Summers, the top administration economic guru, is a symbol of the Clinton-era deregulatory orgy that helped fuel the bubble.

It's nice to see some honesty spelled out this way in a major paper like the NYT.


Never mind that the Bush White House gave us the bank (and A.I.G.) bailouts, or that the G.O.P. is even more in hock than Democrats to corporate patrons. The Obama administration is so overstocked with Goldman Sachs-Robert Rubin alumni and so tainted by its back-room health care deals with pharmaceutical and insurance companies that conservative politicians, Brown included, can masquerade shamelessly as the populist alternative.

True, that he did. However, no one asked Obama to do it either. Heck, he expanded it! I don't know. I heard Brown speak a lot in the past month and he doesn't sound like an opportunistic populist. He just simply capitalized on the mood of the people. He spread for them.

*Bites Chinese pear*

Last year the president pointedly studied J.F.K.’s decision-making process on Vietnam while seeking the way forward in Afghanistan. In the end, he didn’t emulate his predecessor and escalated the war. We’ll see how that turns out. Meanwhile, Obama might look at another pivotal moment in the Kennedy presidency — and this time heed the example.

This paragraph confuses me. Didn't JFK actually start the Vietnam festivities? Obama inherited his war. So how could he emulate him?

Can anyone picture Obama exerting such take-no-prisoners leadership to challenge those who threaten our own economic recovery and stability at a time of deep recession and war? That we can’t is a powerful indicator of why what happened in Massachusetts will not stay in Massachusetts if this White House fails to reboot.

How's about this: He doesn't try to be omnipotent. The mistake, I guess, was believing people were ripe for an FDR 'New Deal' type thing. They may want action, but not the action the Democrats want to deliver. For example, the insanity of trying to ram health care in an economic downturn.

Bah.

What do I know? I just wanted to add a post.

Che? Who? Qui?

Reason Magazine has rehashed the romantic Che Guevera myth and Volokh Conspiracy picked up on it.

Me? What do I think? I don't even want to waste a minute on Crazy Ernie  - everything must go! I made my peace with blog posts about him in the past. The guy really doesn't deserve much more than that.

Nor do I care too much for the by-product of this debate about "who has killed more people: Communism or capitalism?"

On both counts. It's a no-brainer.

But, being in search for eternal knowledge, I pose the question. Is the commie versus cappy thing a matter of semantics? Which has DIRECTLY and deliberately designed more murders?

Capitalism is predicated, in part, on innovation to maintain the means of production. It craves talent and workers. It evolves. It swings. It doesn't kill to demand conformity. To do so would be an oxymoron. It would mean suicide. Even in places where it's accused of keeping people impoverished, it won't serve its interest well in the long-run. Capitalism had distinct flavors through the centuries. Renaissance Italy, 16th century Spain, 17th century Amsterdam, 19th century Paris, 19th century Britain, 20th century America, each came with its own set of circumstances, both ruthless and otherwise, contributing to its evolution.

Is it perfect? Of course not. Is it vulnerable to man's various vices? Absolutely. But is it on the same plane as communism which demands control and re-education of independent minds?

I reckon it isn't.

What The Libertarians Are Saying

About...where they currently stand in the age of Obama courtesy of Cato. You have to join to get the full document but there's enough there to make one ponder and research on their own.

At least they have a pulse in the States. Here in Canada, they're a non-starter. Which is a shame if you ask me.

About...Obama period. Gotta love NPR readers. The "where were they when?" crowd really are myopic. From the onset, different factions of conservatism (like Pat Buchanan) and libertarians (like CATO) were against big spending and foreign wars well before liberals and Democrats realized what hit them. Do people read and if they do, I think they may have to consult a doctor to stem the flow of memory loss.

And from a Canadian perspective and it coincides with my earlier point of Canadians not getting in touch with their inner-libertarian enough:

As I am regularly reminded when I discuss libertarianism with my fellow Canadians, this is a pretty good place to live. Canada scores better than or as good as most places on the planet in terms of political rights, civil liberties, and economic freedom. This is a fact, and I am grateful for it. But does that mean we shouldn't try to make life even better? Why are we so complacent, so ready to accept "pretty good" as good enough? Why are so many intelligent, educated people uninterested in even exploring what history's great thinkers have had to say about liberty? Few Canadians, I wager, have even heard of Benjamin Constant, for instance. A champion of individual freedom two centuries ago, he viewed political rights as a collective kind of freedom, present in the ancient world, which was "compatible with… the complete subjection of the individual to the authority of the community." Yes, Canada is a pretty good place to live, all things considered. When individuals are no longer subjected to the dictates of their fellows, free to live as they see fit and responsible for the consequences of their own actions, it will be a great place to live.
 And this is all I've been trying to point out on this blog. Canada can offer more - so much more.

ACORN's Smoke, Fire And Mirrors

Hm. While the left loses its mind about the "Tea Party" movement (or as they maturely and impressively call them "teabaggers"), not much is made about ACORN's alleged indiscretions.
I found this at Judicial Watch. It's from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

From its executive summary:

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has repeatedly
and deliberately engaged in systemic fraud. Both structurally and operationally, ACORN hides behind a paper wall of nonprofit corporate protections to conceal a criminal conspiracy on the part of its directors, to launder federal money in order to pursue a partisan political agenda and to manipulate the American electorate.

Emerging accounts of widespread deceit and corruption raise the need for a criminal
investigation of ACORN. By intentionally blurring the legal distinctions between 361 tax-exempt and non-exempt entities, ACORN diverts taxpayer and tax-exempt monies into partisan political activities. Since 1994, more than $53 million in federal funds have been pumped into ACORN, and under the Obama administration, ACORN stands to receive a whopping $8.5 billion in available stimulus funds.

Operationally, ACORN is a shell game played in 120 cities, 43 states and the District of Columbia through a complex structure designed to conceal illegal activities, to use taxpayer and tax-exempt dollars for partisan political purposes, and to distract investigators. Structurally, ACORN is a chess game in which senior management is shielded from accountability by multiple layers of volunteers and compensated employees who serve as pawns to take the fall for every bad act.

The report that follows presents evidence obtained from former ACORN insiders that completes the picture of a criminal enterprise.

Ouch.

As they used to say in Tudor England, ye "steyned with yncke."

My friend in Boston (who claims to be independent) simply views it as "the left fighting fire with fire" against the right.

2010-01-22

Covington, Burling....& Haliburton

When I was still a stock broker investment advisor (gotta maintain the jargon), the rage was to rail against Cheney and his connections to Haliburton. During one of our conference calls, Haliburton came up (I forget why and how) an American analyst made an interesting comment. At that time, Haliburton had been one of the most audited and scrutinized companies on the exchanges because of its connections to a politician. 

That stayed with me. It's interesting to note the same template has presented itself with Attorney-General Eric Holder and his former law firm Covington & Burling. Specifically, with their connection to representing alleged terrorists.

Moreover, the decision of Holder to try war criminals in civilian courts only added to the suspicion.

It's funny how no one, I'm looking at you libby's, how this connection is hardly brought up. In an interview with Dennis Miller, this issue came up and was asked to a military lawyer (I forget her name.) Like the analyst, she would be surprised if there was any "hanky-panky" going on behind the scenes.

Of course, this doesn't mean it doesn't or didn't in one of both cases, but it's something worth keeping an eye on.

Air America Files For Bankruptcy

Air America labeled itself liberal and it failed. Why?

Bad week for liberals. First Brown (how long before liberals link Brown to the Devil?) pulls of a massive win to which liberals may need indefinite therapy, and now this.

***

Wha? Keep 'Em In Gitmo?

Whadda we have here?

You mean, the people in Gitmo really are nuts and dangerous? For true?

Even the Washington Post feels compelled to, sigh, report it.

The task force has determined that there are too many difficulties in prosecuting their cases but determined that the men are too dangerous to be released. Many in this category allegedly spent time at al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan prior to the 9/11 attacks or were linked to the Taliban and continued to fight with the groups during the U.S. offensive in 2001.
Still, the word "allegedly" makes me a tad nervous.

What Took So Long?

Heather Munroe-Blum is my hero.

Seriously.

The Quebec government on one hand slows down funding and then dares schools to not hike tuition?

Anyway, this is such a no-brainer given McGill's reputation, I won't go into further detail. By the way, even at these prices it's still cheaper than most major colleges and universities in the world. McGill should consider going private all the way.

What should stun people is this: It cost $3000 to get an MBA at one of the world's top universities. The actual cost of running the program is $22 000. That's a $19 000 shortfall someone has to make up. The government kicked in an amount (I don't know how much) but the balance came out of the pockets of other students in other faculties. Ridiculous. Ironic that a MBA program would break such a basic rule of business.

I turned down the chance to get a subsidy from the government for fear of them sticking their fat bureaucratic non-sensical BS in my business. I'm glad McGill give them the middle finger too. It brings back some esteem and pride to that excellent institution.

As for Mme. Courchesne hasn't she done enough already destroying the education system in Quebec?

Let's see. Obama transparency, people fighting back against the growth of government, institutions rediscovering its private soul...there's hope after all.

Cue it up The Ramones!

Beat on the brat with a baseball bat! Oh yeah! Oh yeah!

From Transparency To Rediscovering Liberty; Obama And The People Meet At A Crossroads

Obama may be under fire for a bunch of reasons but he does deserve an "A" for his promise to bring transparency back into politics. 

Let's see, the population is galvanized into stemming the flow of government expansion and a President has the guts to make public government policy.

Hm. Maybe there's hope after all.

Whatever Happened To?

Belinda Stronach?

2010-01-21

U.S. Military Deaths Drop Off In Iraq

According to iCasualties, American fatalities in Iraq have dropped significantly since 2007.

Not sure what to attribute this to but the surge is certainly one possible explanation. 

2007- 904
2008- 314
2009- 149

Jean Beliveau Suffers Stroke

One of the all-time great centers, the gentleman Beliveau is class and elegance personified.

Here's to a speedy recovery.

Faux Me! Blog Of The Day

Just discovered Exposing Faux Capitalism blog. Love it.

Who: Mysterious and minimalist. What: Plain good content.

Perfect.

I want to be his friend. Or hers. Or it.

Teaser on best performing metal - Palladium. I can't keep a secret - here.

It fits nicely with my contention this is a faux blog.

Hype Conservative Style

Thoughts on Massachusetts from The Washington Independent.

Republicans are free and right to be giddy over the election. I mean, to win a seat held by a liberal icon in one of the most liberal of states by a relative unknown is cause for celebration.

However, they should cool it a little. There are some saying he possibly can run for the Big Office; the one in D.C.

One of the things that bugged people most about Obama was the hype for a guy with little experience or accomplishments. Best to remember this for Scott Brown; who can hardly be called a GOP fat cat. Stop looking at these guys as political messiahs. First let them govern and then judge.

It reminds me of sports teams who throw money at rookies who proved squat at the pro level. And we know the landscape is filled with those.

Blaming Global Warming For Earthquake

Danny Glover's mind is a lethal weapon against sane people. 

Geez, what a dolt.

Pat Robertson, Danny Glover, whatever. Both dumbasses for different reasons.

Blaming the earthquake on global warming, jesus effen cripes.Nor did it take long before activists blamed imperialism for Haiti's woeful unpreparedness.

Why? Why do we keep asking celebrities for their opinions? Is it for comedy relief? I don't get it. 

Robertson isn't the only one applying the "Africans are cursed" theory. Meh. Beats blaming Bush I suppose.

2010-01-19

Una Faccia Una Razza

Southern Italy and la Grecia. 

And then there's Northern Italy and its Teutonic-Frankish connections.

But that's for another time.

Scott Brown Feels The Earth Move Under His Feet

This. This is HUGE.

This. This is a GIGANTIC blow to the Democratic party.

Scott Brown, against all odds, wins Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts - a state where the Democrats ruled sans exceptions.

Now begins the "wha happened?" and the "what does it mean" and "how could this happen" and "what does Obama do now?" speculation. I've taken an interest in this election because of the sheer importance attached to it. I got to hear a lot about Brown from the Vermont feed here and at first I thought he was going to be sacrificed to the gods. Then, as time passed, listening to the call-in talk shows, I thought hey, maybe he can be Joe Namath after all and guarantee an improbable win.

It'll be very interesting to see how Obama handles this moving forward. 


I heard one democrat say, "it's ok if Brown wins. He'll be a weak candidate in 2012 and we'll defeat him there." Maybe. But isn't that a little like a football team saying, "it's ok if we lose to them today. They'll be weaker next year and we'll beat them then."

***

As a sports junkie, it was interesting to hear Coakley (insanely I might add) claim former Boston Red Sox Curt Schilling (of all people) was a New York Yankees fan! I don't know for sure, but did she break some sort of ancient Bostonian sports covenant? Wow. Some pundits think this only added to her troubles and ultimate demise. I don't about that, but you just don't say that if you really have the pulse of a Boston sports fan. It would have been more believable if she said he was a Philadelphia Phillies fan since he played for them.

For you Quebecers out there, it's like saying Maurice Richard was a Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

***

Now that Brown has won, some say this spells the end of Obamacare.

The onus is on Brown and the GOP, if this happens, to once and for all articulate their own plan.

Let's hope they avoid logical fallacies like, "How can the government run health care if it can't run the post office!"

Because it's incompetent on one side doesn't mean it will be so on the other. Yes, there's ample evidence to suggest government inefficiencies and waste is possible, but there are other ways to get this point across.

Presidents As War Criminals: Tough Game

I just concluded an exhausting, if not frustrating debate about Richard Nixon. It was surreal in parts.

I tend to argue in concrete terms and this annoys people who have no interest in arguing facts in politics. For them, it's all subjective.

It centered around the assertion made that Nixon was a "war criminal." My rebuttal was constructed to be taken in a larger context of the war in Vietnam. I asked, if he's a war criminal, then does it not follow it can be applied to JFK for starting the war and Johnson for escalating it? Yes, Nixon allowed bombing campaigns but he did eventually achieve the peace. I tend to see them, along with Kissinger and McNamara, as a group and not as individuals in terms of criminality - if this can be proven. What about Clinton's role in Kosovo? In other words, United States versus just war theory. It's just my take but one I think has merit in being expressed.

Indeed, the debate in legal and history circles centers about whether they each satisfy the tenets within the Just War theory.  And in the case of the Vietnam clique, it was the overarching "Domino" theory in a Cold War context that led them into Vietnam.

This rebuttal angered the person. He never answered my claim. Instead choosing to say things like "I wasn't there" and that Nixon was pure evil and dumb (not in so many words). More insulting, that I was acting like an armchair historian and was defending a lunatic. Which, of course, wasn't my angle. The discussion was over for him.

But for me it wasn't.

He then, later, proceeded to engage in a game or moral and political equivalency comparing Nixon to Mao. To me, this is an astonishing claim. One that has NO merit anymore than Bush to Hitler. Mao killed 30-50 million (give or take, what's 20 million among friends?) to make a great leap forward that most likely led to two steps back. On this basis alone, I argue, the debate ends.

Not in his eyes.

I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. I guess I really am in the minority in holding analogies to strict rules.

Question: What is the mechanism or method in determining if (and which) a President is a war criminal? In the case of Vietnam and now the War on Terror, several Presidents are likely to be involved. Can one leader be targeted over an another or does the just war theory apply to all?

THAT was my point.

Rethinking Aid To Haiti

Heard someone on the radio offer his suggestions of what Canada should do for Haiti moving forward. Most seemed level-headed and common sense to me.The crux of his argument was that Canada and the U.S. propped up governments that served their commercial interests and this prevented Haiti from moving forward.

Billions and billions sent to Haiti all embezzled by politicians. Whatever the truth, the people paid the price. That's in the past. It's time to look forward. How to accomplish this? 

According to this activist, Canada sent the bulk of its aid to NGOs and to him, this was a problem. He argued it was better to send it to local ministries. And this is where I raised an eyebrow or two. On one side, I agree, power is best served to the locals.

On the other hand, with no accountability measures in place, why should the Haitian government get a blank cheque so to speak?

Without a doubt, Haitians need to rebuilt their country the way they see fit. We can provide the technical and psychological know how to achieve this goal. The debate, it looks like, is who will get the funds and how will they be held to account?

For the activist, he believed it should go to the government and not so much to NGOs. He used the analogy of Canadians who have shown time and again they want the government to run education and health, why shouldn't it be the case for Haiti? Do we not want this for Haitians?

As if the government is the only mechanism by which we can accomplish this goal.

Now, if you believe the forces of neo-liberalism were conspiring to keep Haiti down, then of course, you'd prefer the money going into the hands of (possibly) corrupt government officials and hope you can devise some type of accountability scheme.

But is this a bit of a logical fallacy? He sets it up as if there are only two choices: Charities or government. Nothing in between, no cooperation between the two.

Secondly, can it be Canadians cling on to government as the best provider of health and education because they don't know of any other option?

If Canadians were presented with options, would this change our views? 

2010-01-18

Historical Facts Do Exist

We've been conditioned to believe there are no "facts" in history. That there exists alternative history to level conventional history's errors.

To me, this is false. Historians are methodical as they are artistic in quantifying facts and evidence.

Like in medical science there's evidence based science and non-evidence (good or bad science), the same can be said for history. There's no such thing as alternative (revisionism, whatever) history running parallel with history. There's just history.

Thoughts?

The Commentator's List Of Amorous Songs

Someone asked me what were some of the best love songs I've heard up to this point in my life. My definition of love is pretty broad so don't pull a "that's not a real love song" crap on me.

Here goes in no particular order and by no means exhaustive. I suppose if I consult my record collection this list can double:

1) You send me - Sam Cooke 
2) Here, there and everywhere - The Beatles
3) God only knows - The Beach Boys
4) Tupelo Honey - Van Morrison
5) (Your love keeps lifting me) Higher and higher - Jackie Wilson  
6) Into my arms - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
7) Blue Sky - The Allman Brothers Band
8) Our love is here to stay - Ella Fitzgerald
9) Rosalita - Bruce Springsteen
10) Alison - Elvis Costello 
11) My one and only love - John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
12) Softly - Billie Holiday
13) I can't wait to get off work - Tom Waits
14) Valentine's Day - Bruce Springsteen
15) Girl friend - Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
16) Sweet Thing - Van Morrison
17) Into the mystic - Van Morrison
18) Someone saved my life tonight - Elton John - Ok, not quite the definition of a "love song" but great still.
19) At last - Etta James
20) Going to Carolina - James Taylor
21) Love lives here - Faces
22) In my life - The Beatles
23) Thank you - Dido
24) Thank you - Led Zeppelin
25) Keep me in your heart - Warren Zevon
26) They can't take that away from me- Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
27) They can't take that away from me - Tony Bennett and Elvis Costello
28) Fly me to the moon - Frank Sinatra
29) Buona sera - Louis Prima
30) Signed, sealed, delivered (I'm yours) - Stevie Wonder
31) Midnight train to Georgia - Gladys Knight and the Pips
32) We'll be together - The Supremes
33) Sugar, Sugar - The Archies/Andy Kim
34) My girl - The Temptations
35) Funiculi, finicula - Luciano Pavarotti or Sergio Franchi - Again,not purely a love song but it can be!
36) Volare - Domenico Modugno or Dean Martin
37) Oh, pretty woman - Roy Orbison
38) I'm into something good - Herman's Hermits
39) Happy together- The Turtles
40) Angie - The Rolling Stones
41) Come go with me - The Dell-Vikings
42) Sea of love - Phil Phillips
43) Stay - Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs (Jackson Browne cover in 1977)
44) Singin' in the rain - Gene Kelly
45) You're nobody 'til someone loves you - Dean Martin
46) Don't wait too long - Madelaine Peyroux
47) La vie en rose - Edith Piaf
48) Words of love - Buddy Holly
49) Kimberly - Patti Smith
50) Farther on down the road - Taj Mahal
51) I walk the line - Johnny Cash
52) Melissa - The Allman Brothers Band

Of course, there's other classics like 'Bridge over troubled water,' 'Chelsea Morning' and 'Moon River, but I had to stop somewhere!

2010-01-17

The Ends Justify The Means - For The Right People

Nice, smart, honest guy this Schultz. 

The GOP makes people sooooo mad, they see honor in cheating to defeat them. It's like, well, Mark McGwire (or Barry Bonds, or A-Rod, or Rafael Palmeiro, or Sammy Sosa or whoever else for that matter) justifying taking 'roids because he loves the long ball. The ends justify the means. Apparently.

I didn't know liberals were so naughty when it came to realism.

The sad thing? I've been following the Massachusetts vote. I've learned that Coakley, as I mentioned in a previous post, is a devious little wench for what she did in the Amirault case. Just that story alone sizes her up for me.

Scott Brown, the good looking (but evil) Republican candidate, really does sound like a down to earth, decent guy. But then again, he's a politician and just may be a good actor. He deserves the benefit of the doubt I suppose.

Brown had the best line about how liberals called it the "Kennedy" seat. The assumption goes, it should always go to the Democrats. Brown was having none of it. He said it was the "people's" seat. Which sounds healthier and more democratic?

Besides. For fuck sakes, don't people want to change things up a tad in that state? Give Brown a shot and see what he can give. Here in Quebec, we're always jumping ship and tossing the bastards out.

Best Before Date Expired



Senator Reid’s now infamous comments about President Obama seem to imply that only a “light skinned negro” could be elected President. He seems to imply that a more ‘authentic’ African American be unelectable in the US today. Is this true?

My answer is yes – if he is a liberal, but no, if he is conservative. The behaviour of the left and the right with regard to race is completely different these days. Mark Steyn illustrated this point perfectly in the last election with an incisive comment. He pointed out that in the Democratic primary, you have a white southern male, a woman, a Hispanic and a half-black man from Hawaii, yet for all their physical ‘diversity’ when it comes to ideology, they are all from the same cookie cutter. In contrast, even though all the Republican Presidential candidates were old white males, each nevertheless represented a distinct ideological viewpoint, some of which were at considerable variance from the party’s center of gravity, differences they (think Giuliani and McCain) did not try to conceal. In other words, when it comes to diversity, the Democrats are only interested in the ‘diversity’ of background, while Republicans will tolerate a diversity of ideas.

I think this is just as true of Conservatives and Liberals here in Canada as well. The Conservatives are now the idea party while the dominant party on the left (the Liberals) have morphed into a balkanized collection of ethnic groups - groups that seemingly care a lot about themselves and little about society at large, and who often nurse grievances with other such groups in the Liberal ‘big tent’. As a result, running a Liberal riding association in Toronto seems to require a degree in foreign affairs.
It's nice for the virtuous Cincinnatus to get some love. 

Liberals aren't dumb or evil. They eat onion rings like the rest of us. Sure, they may pronounce ketchup as catsup but that's no crime. Yet, anyway.

They just believe their values and beliefs are not up for debate. Nothing to see here. Move on. Everything has been figured out.

Sips sour milk

2010-01-16

Pulling Words Out Of Context

I think Janet Napolitano is getting a bit of a raw deal with her "the system worked" comment in the aftermath of the terrorist attack attempt in Detroit.

What she in fact said was, "the system, once the incident occurred, the system worked."

There's a difference. The way pundits spoke about it, they made people believe Napolitano was arguing the system worked from A to Z. That is, from the boarding of the plane in Amsterdam, to the intelligence gathering all the way to the botched attack.


But that's not what she meant at all.


Just another case of taking a comment out of context and twisting it. Very irritating.

I had a friend like that. Always waiting to pounce on a vulnerable phrase. He's in politics now. Surprise.

2010-01-15

Soviet Communism And Trotskyism: There's A Difference

They say, "they" in this case being communists, the Soviet Union misapplied, if not skewed beyond recognition, communist theories.

I think there's some validity to this argument.

Leon Trotsky was extremely critical of Stalin's Soviet Union - join the club. He asserted the power in Soviet communism concentrated only in the bureaucracy and not where it belonged: With the proletariat. Trotskyism attempted to bring communism to its Marxist roots.

In the Transistional Program: The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Task of the Fourth International (1938), he laid out how the process by which the people (the masses) had to be educated in the coming socialist revolution.

Basically, the same tenets we hear about nationalization and all that jazz. Make that, communist jazz.

McCallum's Ridiculousness

The Liberals have fallen hard haven't they?

Just when you think they can't make your head shake any harder, they come up with something more. At this rate, I'm going to end up with a seizure.

The latest bizarre comment fluttering out of the mouths of its leaders is from defense critic (and former Minster of Defense 2002-03) John McCallum:

I think the bigger weight is bread-and-butter issues, jobs and getting your children to school and all of those things. But I also think Canadians do care about democracy and about the high-handed, undemocratic attitude and actions of this government, and I think proroguing adds to the total character picture of Mr. Harper, and the fact that they may have been committing war crimes, handing over detainees knowing that they were very likely to be tortured, that is a war crime. And the fact that they’re covering it up, I think many Canadians do care about those things as well as caring about economic issues.

First, let it be said the government should indeed clear the air and have an inquiry into all this. Harper can take the high road. Then again, his proroguing Parliament could be interpreted as a way to protect the military. And what's he "covering up" exactly? 

In any event, at this point, it's beyond a conservative vs. liberal thing.Were prisoners in fact tortured and did the Canadian government and military know this and when? He said, she said, you started is a farcical pointless game.

It should be noted, that between 2003 and 2005 (when Bill Graham was Defence Minister), diplomats were warning about Afghan authorities possibly torturing prisoners. This was under Liberal leadership. It was they who A) without Parliamentary debates sent our troops to Afghanistan and it was they who B) negotiated the transfer of prisoners to Afghan authorities.

And they're going to sit there with a straight face and attack the Harper government for something that began under their watch? Has anyone caught a double-standard when it comes to Obama and Harper? Obama is said to have "inherited a mess." Meanwhile, Harper "inherited" the Afghanistan file but pundits speak as if he created it.

All this being said, enough with the games. Harper should take the high road here. Call a public inquiry about the matter. Forget partisanship and let's make the right decision. Were detainees being tortured and did we willing hand them over knowing this?

***

There is an irony in all this. The leader of the Liberal party of Canada is Michael Ignatieff. While in the United States, he wrote The Lesser Evil - a book about the moral hazards that confronts democracies in a terrorist age. In it, he explores and even defends the use of torture arguin that democracies (and civilized societies) are capable of fighting terrorism on such grounds temporarily and quickly reverting back to our high moral and legal standards. He recognizes it's a dangerous slope but believed democracies were up to the task.

To be honest, I liked the book and held pretty much that view.

***

It could be worse for Canada...I suppose. Mexico is witnessing unspeakable barbarity.

A Canadian Connection To The Financial Collapse

Most think the financial crisis in the United States was restricted to that country. It wasn't. Nor were the players exclusively American. Canadians had a hand in it as well. Specifically, Brian Chisick was indeed one of the pioneers orchestrating the mortgage and real estate bubble.

If you missed House of Cards which aired earlier this evening on the CBC's The Fifth Estate, go to this link to watch it.

House of Cards air tonight on the Fifth Estate.

Question: Why was Lehman Brothers allowed to fall while the government saved other ones? 

A Remarkable Tragedy And Miscarriage Of Justice

Miscarriages of justice happen. We know this. Yet, the people who willingly allow it to happen continue on with their careers making their way up the sleazy ladder of power.

This coming Tuesday, the people of Massachusetts will go to the polls to choose their Senator in a special election. Up for grabs is the late Edward Kennedy's seat. It was expected to go to Democrat candidate Martha Coakley. However, the Republican Scott Brown has proven to be a formidable opponent.

Why am I bringing all this up?

I just came across a most shocking and disturbing story and it involves Ms. Coakley; currently the Attorney-General for that state. It revolves around the Fells Acres Day Care Center and the witch hunts (which was the rage in the 1980s), and all you have to do is read the links to know these were contemporary lynchings, against the Amirault family. In a nutshell, a family who ran a day center for 30 years were arrested for child molestation on what amounted to no proof. These people were known to the community. How could they suddenly be pedaphiles?


Link: Gerald Amirault

I heard an interview with Howie Carr on AM 620 here in Montreal with Gerald Amirault. My hand covered my mouth in shock as I listened. I was angry, sad and confused all at the same time. How could this happen? How can public servants treat citizens in this way? Will they account for their actions? If not, surely they will have to answer to a higher being some day? It's stories like this I go back and read Dante's Inferno. It reminds me of what evils we're capable of.

What? I consider this injustice to be evil?

Yes. That's because when given the chance to do the right thing and commute these people, Coakley and Janet Swift - who was Governor in 2002 - they inexplicably balked. By that time, everyone knew the innocence of those involved. Alas, they weren't alone. They were the Amirault's last hope and they failed miserably. It all started with District Attorney Scott Harshbarger.   Like I said, evil. Place for each in the Inferno.

Terrorizing tyranny. 


Trust me. It's killing me to not write what I really think about these people.

Amirault is now free but he's a Level 3 sex offender. Meaning, he is under constant surveillance. As I type he has not been exonerated. How bloody ridiculous is all this I demand? Who will once and for all right this wrong? Hopefully, Scott Brown will win and will review this case and be the one to set the course of justice back on its proper path. 

Think of it. An innocent man, his mother and sister are arrested without a fair investigation, but Americans like Coakley want to treat and give murderous terrorists all the best American law can provide? They want to give amnesty to illegal aliens but when it comes to one of their own citizens they destroy them without a blink?

What madness is this?

I've googled this story and what I find amazing is few major papers covered it. Most notable Wall Street Journal and Boston Herald. No New York Times. No Washington Post. And I certainly don't remember hearing Dan Rather or some other major anchormen discussing it.

Which made me wonder about journalism. Miscarriages of justice should always be a major story in my opinion. What good are journalists if they don't report these abuses? When did they unceremoniously abandon their duty to investigate the truth? When you ponder it further, we're so busy "covering" politicians on the campaign trail captivated by the "cult of the personality" we forget to examine the moral fiber of an individual with any substance. Coakley (talk about the gall and arrogance to run for election with this on her soul!)  is a reminder of the type of people in power now. There's no room for a moral compass. All they possess is a title. Little else.


I do believe this is to be a story transcending nationality. This crap can happen to any of us, anytime, anywhere.

On Tuesday, the people of the state of Massachusetts will hopefully vote for Scott Brown; preferably in a landslide.

And then hope that Mr. Brown will bring a certain amount of integrity back to his state.

This post is dedicated to all those who fell before the sword of injustice languishing in jails around the world. This blog stands with you.

2010-01-14

Another Climate Change Scandal

First East Anglia and now NASA.

Most of the media dismissed the email scandal at East Anglia, it's no wonder they yawned at NASA's own problems. 

My Lord.

Obama Is So Transparent

And not in a good way. 

You know, I can't quite put my finger on it but Obama's attack on the banks by wanting to tax them bugs me. On the surface, he sounds like a guy who is working to put these evil greedheads back in their place. How dare they use bailout money for bonuses! But scratch further and the picture ain't so cute. Of course, it was the government that forced them to take it in the first place. Something stinks.

See for yourself on Judicial Watch.

So let's see. The government muscles in on private enterprises under the pretension that they're not serving the public properly. Whatever. The government is either creating a fascist operation (when government merges with corporations that's pretty much what it is: Fascism) or it's acting like the mob. Take your pick. And you can bet your bottom dollar that if a few of those guys were I-talian that's what it would be called.

A True Independent Film

Always looking for independent films to go see in Montreal? Check out Bruco at Cinematheque Quebecoise this Sunday at 1:30pm.

Read more about Michael Mirolla's interview with Antonio D' Alfonso at Rover.

Bruco is a totally independent film,” D’Alfonso says. “Everyone worked for free, for a meal and a glass of wine. The original script was about twenty-five pages which I gradually reworked. Nothing is improvised. A writer wants to become a butterfly. A man wants to change his life. He is at the peak of his career, then something breaks. He meets the Minotaur. Roland Barthes wrote somewhere that if you were to analyze all works of art they would contain one hidden meaning: ‘I love you’.

Ramming Laws On Christmas Eve

How Christian an idea!

It's interesting to note how over the course of American history dating back to its inception, the persistent debate about the role of the banks in American life.

Apparently, the Federal Reserve was created in 1913 (seen as a swindle to some) on Christmas Eve. Why do so many controversial pieces of legislation pass on this day exactly?

The Federal Reserve, really, isn't a central bank. It's a private enterprise. Yet, it prints money. I thought it was explicitly clear that only Congress can mint coin?

Just Plain Unfortunate

I still can't believe the Americans are going to force people into purchasing health insurance. Thinking of making a choice of not doing so? Face a fine or go to jail.

If it's such a great idea, why then do they have to do coerce people? No wonder many Americans are skeptical about all this.

How is this possibly in the spirit of the liberties they cherish? Of course, then there's the whole "is this even Constitutional" angle.

Please. Knock sense into me.

2010-01-13

The Strange Story Of Charles Coghlan

Voici an article in the New York Times dating back to 1904 about the mysterious death of Canadian actor Charles Coghlan. A native of P.E.I., Coghlan died and was buried in Galveston, Texas in 1899. A hurricane hit Galveston in 1900 and his coffin, laying in a granite vault, was thrown out of the Gulf of Mexico and into the Atlantic ocean where it drifted for eight years.

In 1908 the coffin was found in...Prince Edward Island!

How's that for creepy? And they say the soul doesn't wander. Hmpf.

And they also say we Canucks are boring!

They suck!

Still Looking For Balance In the Middle East

This article from the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is a year-old but still has legs:
As outlined in the 2006 Iraq Study Group report, political stability and reduced violence in Iraq cannot be achieved by military force alone. A strong diplomatic surge is needed. There will be flare-ups of violence no matter how many U.S. troops remain in Iraq. Policymakers need to accept that fact. They also need to accept that diplomatic and economic initiatives can increase the chances for stability and for reducing outbreaks of violence. It is in the interests of all Middle Eastern countries that Iraq not return to violence and civil war. What is needed is a security arrangement acceptable to all Iraq’s neighbors. That means balancing Saudi and other Arab interests with Iranian interests and finding a balance that protects U.S. interests as well.

Such a strategy means that the United States cannot revert to its 1980s policy of trying to use Iraq as a military counterweight to Iran. If employed, this flawed strategy could split the Shia factions in Iraq and create political instability. Iran has to accept that the United States will have significant residual interests in Iraq, at least in the near-term. The United States has to accept that Iraq, the first Shia-ruled Arab country in several centuries, will be under significant Iranian sway in the long-term.

Given these realities, the United States needs to undertake an all-fronts diplomatic initiative to engage the nations of the region to help stabilize Iraq. This includes addressing the internal tensions between and among the Shia, Sunni, and Kurds, especially at flash points such as Kirkuk. Funding must be found to resettle the five million or more internal and external Iraqi refugees. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States need to help the Iraqi Sunni population with economic development so the Sunnis can play a strong role in Iraqi politics.

There will never be a Victory in Iraq or “V-I” Day. Americans were not greeted as “liberators” at the war’s beginning, and will not be treated to parades at the war’s end. Division and sectarian conflict hopefully should continue to diminish over time despite periodic flare-ups. A more authoritarian regime may emerge or perhaps one less secular than the United States would prefer. Iraq will look a lot like Iran, its Shia cousin, though without the overarching power of ayatollahs.
My two cents? Absolutely. There should indeed a diplomatic invasion so to speak. That being said, if one still believes the invasion of Iraq and institutions like Gitmo and hard American rhetoric are symbols of all that's wrong with foreign policy enhancing terrorism, I submit this is a flawed view. Islamic terrorism, as it should be clear by now, goes well beyond this.

Popular Palin And Government As Humanism By Other Means

Being able to separate oneself from personal subjective feelings with objective thinking is a key component to, I believe, critical thinking. My sister the other day asserted because I once said, "Sarah Palin is a political star" it meant I agreed with her politics.

This is, of course, is nonsense and I suppose I gave to much credit to a university graduate to be able to distinguish from the two. Unfortunately, these days, you have to "quantify" everything you say lest it be misinterpreted because people have forgotten how to think.

For the record, I don't care for Palin or her politics. I don't consider hers to be conservative but a pop variation of it. However, people would be fools to ignore her.

***

Why is it that creating dependency on the government to protect all citizens is seen as "humanistic?" To me this feels non-humanist. Just because one feels the state isn't the best way to help deal with (or cure) social ills, doesn't mean they "don't care" or lack any humanist qualities.

2010-01-11

Lortie's Death In Venice; Chuck Is Back

When I visited Venice in 1994 I was struck and saddened by the myth of what was once one of the world's great maritime empires. You felt it all around you; in its architecture, in the wind and of course in the water beautifully manned by the famous gondolas.

You don't get the sense Venice has accepted its fate like Florence has. Between the two cities, you get two entirely different auras. Venice leaves you longing, Florence makes you smile.

Venice, as I walked its hallowed streets, it was obvious its soul knew it to be a vanishing city. It is feared no matter how much engineering effort and energies are spent saving it byway of the world's great minds, it may not succeed. Something tells me Venice wants to sink. It doesn't want to be seen in this state. Where Florence stands tall accepting of its past, Venice is having none of it.

A cultural kaleidoscope of cultures clashing, Venice is a civilizational gem. A place to visit for all.

Which is why I watched with interest Louis Lortie's 'Death in Venice' (Mort A Venice) which played on Bravo this evening. Lortie is an accomplished pianist from Montreal who takes viewers on a musical journey through Venice in this documentary. It's unfortunate there isn't more information on it.

***
Glad to see Chuck is back on NBC. I don't watch a whole lot of TV but Chuck is one show I enjoy.

PC Dead On Campuses? Think Again

I love listening to liberals babble on with hyperbole about how the crazy right is ruining America with a straight face when their own lousy ranks and party are filled with a bunch of intolerant, racist, criminal assholes. And then there's their intolerance on university campuses.

Deadbeats. All of them. Right and left.

Geithner And AIG; Bailout Tracking

Timothy Geithner, an Obama appointee I believe, is in serious doo-doo. How this guy was even put in this position given his past is beyond me.

From Marketwatch:

Geithner looks bad enough by being in the same room with AIG. He looks downright filthy in trying to keep the nosy public from following the money -- its own money.

He may survive the outcry and the congressional hearings being threatened, but as an effective proponent of Wall Street reform, he's lost credibility.
From Newseek:
Sources at the Treasury and New York Fed played down the significance of the e-mails in interviews with NEWSWEEK and argue that the AIG bailout is going according to plan, and that taxpayers will eventually be paid back for their investment and could make a profit.
 ***

Speaking of bail outs. Here's a link to a site tracking it:

Altogether, the Treasury has collected $20.6 billion in revenue from the TARP and the Fannie and Freddie bailouts. So that’s our monthly sobering assessment of the likelihood of recouping the bailout funds: $337.5 billion out the door, at least $9 billion that almost surely won’t be coming back, and $20.6 billion in revenue to serve as a buffer against losses.

Ouch. 

New Study On Vaccine-Autism Link

A study in Poland discovered lower risk of autism in 83% of kids given an MMR vaccine.

A blow for people who believe there to be a link between autism and vaccination in kids?

4'33''

As a music fan, I often find myself confronted with musical pieces I don't connect to; or understand.

Intellectually, I get John Cage's 4'33''. But spiritually, I fail to grasp it. Maybe I'm not ready for it?

I found this interesting explanation about the avant-garde piece:
Although often described as a silent piece, 4'33" isn't silent at all. While the performer makes as little sound as possible, Cage breaks traditional boundaries by shifting attention from the stage to the audience and even beyond the concert hall. You soon become aware of a huge amount of sound, ranging from the mundane to the profound, from the expected to the surprising, from the intimate to the cosmic –shifting in seats, riffling programs to see what in the world is going on, breathing, the air conditioning, a creaking door, passing traffic, an airplane, ringing in your ears, a recaptured memory. This is a deeply personal music, which each witness creates to his/her own reactions to life. Concerts and records standardize our responses, but no two people will ever hear 4'33" the same way. It's the ultimate sing-along: the audience (and the world) becomes the performer.

Let's tackle a few obvious questions. Is this music? Sure it is - each sound has a distinct tone, duration, rhythm and timbre. Isn't it arbitrary? But so are all artistic conventions. Couldn't a 3-year old have written this piece? Perhaps. But did he? Did you?
As I understand it, Cage explained the composition lasts for 273 seconds which is -273C or absolute zero; the temperature where all molecules stop moving.

Good on people who can stay silent for that long. Most yahoos can't even observe a moment of silence in public.

Mom, Dad, I Think It's Time You Know The Truth

I've been thinking about taking out alien abduction insurance for quite sometime.

The St.Lawrence Agency was the first to offer such insurance. Which begs the question, insurance companies have access to acturial information. What do they know exactly?

Hey, Shirley McLaine had one apparently. The Apartment remains one of my faves.

Inuit Weigh In On Polar Bear Debate

Inuit hunters claim the polar bear population is on the rise. Polar bear biologists beg to differ. Let's ask Al Gore to break the tie -since he invented, like, everything!

For details on Inuit hunter perspectives visit this link to a Nunavut Wildlife Harvest Study.

The purpose of the Harvest Study was to determine current harvesting levels and patterns of Inuit use of wildlife resources. The results of the Harvest Study are to be used by the NWMB to aid in the management of wildlife resources of Nunavut including the calculation of basic needs levels...

Source: Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.

Prorogue Me

Proroguing again.

Chretien was a "fighter" for doing the things he did, Harper is seen as a "coward." Interesting that.

Stone Teaches Us History - Oi

People get ready. He's baaacckkk! Stone is out to shed new light on two infamous historical figures.

"Stalin has a complete other story," Stone said. "Not to paint him as a hero, but to tell a more factual representation. He fought the German war machine more than any single person. We can't judge people as only 'bad' or 'good.' Hitler is an easy scapegoat throughout history and its been used cheaply. He's the product of a series of actions. It's cause and effect ... People in America don't know the connection between WWI and WWII ... I've been able to walk in Stalin's shoes and Hitler's shoes to understand their point of view. We're going to educate our minds and liberalize them and broaden them. We want to move beyond opinions ... Go into the funding of the Nazi party. How many American corporations were involved, from GM through IBM. Hitler is just a man who could have easily been assassinated."

Here's thing, most intelligent people and historians already know the circumstances leading to Hitler's rise. We understand the context that linked WWI and WWII. We know the Europeans were bent on making Germany pay and the United States asked for more lenient punishment thus contributing to Germany's depraved economic state making them vulnerable for a sociopathic demagogue to seize power.

It's, moreover, pretty much a known fact Stalin ironically helped defeat the Nazi's and that Russia paid the highest price (although much of it could have been averted had they been more strategically sound) in terms of body counts. And so on.

In other words, all that is being claimed by Oliver Stone is already discounted in most historical accounts and opinions worth its salt.

It still doesn't detract from the fact that Hitler and Stalin were murderous (and paranoid) assholes. You can put people in a 'bad' or 'good' category. I consider that nonsensical post-modern, revisionist idiocy to think along these lines.

As to empathy, a historian's job, to me anyway, is not to be empathetic. It's to objectively examine the facts and to paint a fresco with them. History is very much like a puzzle. If you're empathetic, you've compromised your objectivity. Selon moi of course.

"He's not saying we're going to come out with a more positive view of Hitler," emphasized professor Peter Kuznick, the lead writer on the project. "But we're going to describe him as a historical phenomenon and not just somebody who appeared out of nowhere."

Like I mentioned, to the educated (even the mildly educated), I don't think people think he came "out of nowhere." I'd love to see how they're going to communicate and connect Hitler making the jump from legitimate grievances to wanting to exterminate Jews and creating an Aryan race - and make us "empathetic" in the process. If they pull this off...greatest movie ever!

The truth is, Hitler has been psychologically profiled and "put in context" to death by many great historical and philosophical minds. I doubt Stone has anything to add to the discussion. But hey, I could be wrong.

And then he pulls this crap:

"Obviously, Rush Limbaugh is not going to like this history and, as usual, we're going to get those kind of ignorant attacks," said Stone, who also also compared the experience of sympathizing with war criminals to making his "W" movie about George W. Bush. "I'm trying to understand somebody I thoroughly despised." 

Of course. Conservatives are ignorant of history. Sure.

For such an 'enlightened' and 'empathetic' mind, he sure knows how to be partisan.

2010-01-10

Reid's Racial Political Profiling And The Obama's

I just recovered from smashing my head on the floor I was so taken aback by Sen.Majority leader Harry Reid's racial comments. Ahem. Cough. Whizz. Wink.

Fedora tip to Chris's Commons.

Pointing to Obama's racial appeal here's a quote from the book Game Change:

encouragement of Obama was unequivocal. He was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a "light-skinned" African American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one," as he said privately.  Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama's race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination.
Well. So much for liberals being much more tolerant and progressive than the rest of us. That the Democrats were and are somehow more compassionate and intellectual than the GOP is an absurd and abstract joke.

It is and will always be a myth. There are just politicians.

Note: It's interesting to note, in the last week or so, how some liberal experts don't think this to be a racial problem. They feel this was taken out of context. It was in fact, a compliment to Obama.

Either way, how would they feel if, say, I don't know, Sarah Palin said it?

***
Stuff I'd like to see more investigative reporting on. Mostly on conservative blogs, there are allegations as to why the Obama's no longer have a license to practice law in Illinois (the belief is there were some serious laws broken. One blog claims extortion) and did Michelle Obama start a "patient dumping" program at the University of Chicago? Right now, all I see are reports from Fox and conservative blogs. Is this in the same category as the birther movement?



Every time I come across this sort of stuff, and there was plenty of it during Bush's reign as well, I wonder is it because it's much ado about nothing since it's not covered or is it a case of the media not curious enough to do its job?


"For the first time I'm proud of my country." That quote from Michelle will always leave me wondering.

Italics mine.