Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fox Attacks Maher & HBO for “Hate Speech”

Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo! The poor Catholics are being unfairly maligned again by that wicked heathen Bill Maher. Naturally, the valiant culture warriors at Fox & Friends were all over this trumped up controversy earlier today like a fat kid on a butter tart. HBO has a leftist agenda! Liberals are religious bigots! And so on.

Just listen to vapid hack Steve Doocy (author of The Mr. and Mrs. Happy Handbook, I kid you not) wringing his hands over the fact that last week Bill Maher said the Pope “used to be a Nazi” (he also said he “wears funny hats”), referred to the Catholic Church as “a child-abusing religious cult” and linked the Church to “organized pedophilia.” Blustering with indignation, Doocy suggested that “Real Time” be pulled from the air and gripes, “HBO costs me $15 extra a month… I’m not going to pay for this junk!” Steve… it’s ONE program for chrissake. So don’t watch it. And another thing… all of the Maher’s remarks, while certainly delivered with biting sarcasm, happen to be true. As a young man the future pope did belong to the Hitler Youth; in the strictest sense of the word, the Catholic Church is a “cult” (i.e., “a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also: its body of adherents”) as is every church body for that matter; and finally, as to the charge of “organized pedophilia” the John Jay Report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops found accusations of sexual abuse against 4,392 priests in the USA, about 4% of all priests.

The funniest retort though came from media critic and chairman of The Christian Film and Television Commission Ted Baehr who moans about Maher’s “hate speech” and “bigotry” and then promptly compares Maher to the Nazis. In attempting to be ironic, it seems the irony of his own observation was entirely lost on him.

For heaven’s sake… haven’t we had enough of these comparisons to Hitler and the Nazis (or Chamberlain) already? Almost without exception they always backfire (or misfire), so why do people persist with them... I really don’t get it. Does it stem from a lack of imagination perhaps?

Chris Matthews Explains the “Rube Mentality”

Here’s “blue collar guy” Chris Matthews (who’s a multimillionaire with a get-away home in Nantucket, by the way), the host of MSNBC’s slobberfest “Hardball” providing so-called insight into the minds of “ordinary” Pennsylvania voters. Apparently their choice is based on which candidate would be most likely to stop and help them fix a tire — certainly an all-important qualification for the next leader of the free world. Doesn’t the media ever tire of this ridiculous trope? (No pun intended.)

After initially seeming to be stumped by Maher’s question about why Hillary is polling so well amongst Catholic voters compared to Obama, here’s Matthew’s best effort to explain the mystery: “Let me find an issue that you agree with the Pope on here… you’re both against the war in Iraq. Catholics are generally against the war in Iraq and Hillary voted for it. Maybe that would be a logical reason, I’m not sure it’s the real reason, but that would make sense.” Huh… that would make sense? Logical? It’s astounding that anyone pays the slightest attention to this cosmic nut-case let alone to think that he has two shows on cable and appears as an “expert” all over the place… it really beggars belief.

Real Time: Monologue & MOS Interviews

Quest for Adventure

Oops! Seems quirky CNN presenter Richard Quest was busted in Central Park early yesterday with some crystal meth in his pocket, a rope around his neck that was tied to his genitals, and a sex toy in his boot, according to police. Funny, but I never pegged him as a Tory.

“It’s the first time I’ve come across such a thing and I’m starting to get an insight into what being an explorer is all about. Going, seeing and experiencing for the first time…” — Richard Quest

Welfare for the Wealthy

While visiting the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store yesterday looking for a space heater (yes, I confess, I’m a shameless skinflint) I ended up in their book section and there was a copy of Michael Moore’s “Downsize This!” that I thumbed through briefly. In it was a section on corporate welfare where Mike quite naturally wondered why it was that whenever the term “welfare” is mentioned, we automatically conjure images of shiftless layabouts, when in fact, the largest beneficiaries of government “welfare” are actually massive corporations and industrial agri-food conglomerates. Good question.

Following that train of thought, here’s Bill Moyers talking the other week to David Beckman, president of Bread for the World about agricultural subsidies that currently flow primarily to wealthy landholders, without regard to need or profitability while relatively modest changes to the distribution of funds these programs afford could result in millions of dollars being diverted to feed the working poor and those most in need, the majority of whom are rural families.

Oh, but remember that according to the likes of Kathy Shaidle and Mark Steyn poverty simply doesn’t exist in America. I guess they’ve never seen this.

The “Conservatives” Do Something Good!

Mark it on your calendars, boys and girls. Of course this is actually just a re-announcement of a promise that was made last July to invest $3.1 billion to modernize the ships from 2010 to 2017, but still… one shouldn’t quibble when this government does something good for a change.

Update: Unfortunately, every silver lining has a cloud.

Update2: Speaking of things military, Dred Tory has an excellent critique of outgoing Gen. Hillier and some thoughts about his retirement that cast some doubts on the official explanations, or at least provide a different perspective to the matter.

Debate Debacle

So now it’s known that George Stephanopoulos quite literally took dictation from FOX News dirtbag Sean Hannity for one of the more ridiculous questions to Sen. Obama in the other night’s debate in Philadelphia. Amazing.

Olbermann discusses the debate overall with Greg Mitchell of Editor & Publisher and looks at how this case has become an embarrassment among journalists. Meanwhile, at TPM, a number of (mostly liberal) journalists have slammed ABC for their disgraceful performance. The fallout has been so bad that ABC felt compelled to run a segment about it on Friday’s World News broadcast.

Update: Heh.


Looking for the “Superdelegates”

No doubt most of the ex-officio “superdelegates’ will hold off until the results are in from Pennsylvania, but the call from Howard Dean for them to start making their positions clear NOW is a promising development.

Ezra Levant, pathetic

I guess when you’re a nasty little douchebag, it’s pretty easy to take a quotation out of context and pretend that it has a lot more nefarious significance than is actually the case. Carter’s meaning seems fairly clear when taken in the context in which it was said.

Here’s what passes for the “conservative” intelligentsia these days on Fox’s late-night Red Eye program opining on the former president’s latest Middle East visit.

Britain’s Got Talent...

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for poor Donald.

Even though the witless lad was ruthlessly terminated in a matter of seconds by Simon Cowell, he’s nonetheless, as Piers Morgan says, “horrifically entertaining.”

There’s something just absolutely glorious about watching someone making a complete tit of themselves on national television. I don’t know, maybe it’s an example of that truth/beauty thing we were discussing the other day…

The Crying Game

A marginally funny Air Farce sketch. I have to admit I’m going to miss Craig Lauzon’s “robo-Harper” a little because it’s so eerily close to the mark.

The Power of Nightmares (Redux)

I’m reposting these as the old links have gone dead. Thanks to “Mr. X” for pointing this out and for kindly providing the new URLs.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Night Brenda Bashing!

Gotta love the “compassionate Conservatives” over at “Blue Like You!” and their ceaseless campaign of malicious character assassination and personal destruction against this rather pathetic woman inadvertently caught up in the dysfunctional Mexican justice system (that Amnesty International has rather politely described as “gravely flawed”) for no reason other than the fact that her case reflects somewhat poorly on the Dear Leader and his hapless government when it comes to “getting things done” for Canadians in trouble abroad.

Imagine... the sheer temerity of this uppity strumpet (who we’ve learned from Joanne is an illegal immigrant, an alcoholic, and a really bad cook) asking for documents to be translated into English so she could actually understand the decision rendered by the presiding judge! And surely, as congenital idiot “Alberta Girl” suggests, there must be an “alterior [sic] motive to her rabid, over the top defense.” Oy.

Just as an aside, why are so many “Conservatives” so profoundly illiterate?

China = Nazi Germany?

It’s somewhat curious that the CPoC would shuffle notorious loon and pro-Apartheid wingnut Rob Anders (who’s been studiously low-profile and clandestine over the past couple of years) to the front of the deck as their spokesman on the matters of Tibetan autonomy and human rights in China.

While the Liberals’ critique is obviously quite opportunistic, it’s also legitimate. Is it really helpful in any way whatsoever to think “absolutely 100 per cent” that the upcoming Olympics parallels the event held in Berlin 72 years ago and in the process effectively compare one of our largest trading partners and most promising export markets with Nazi Germany?

Anders, I suspect, is animated more by a deep-seated hatred of “commies” than by any abiding concern for the welfare of the Tibetan people, although his religious fundamentalism may have something to do with his sympathies in this regard. Which brings to mind the sniping of Christopher Hitchens about the “democratic” pretensions of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama…

Stephen Harper, fearless LEADER that he is, has deftly side-stepped controversy surrounding the Olympics by recusing himself from attending the opening ceremonies for unspecified and rather mysterious “personal reasons” while at the same time, indicating that high-level government officials will be present. So what gives?

It’s funny that this government, for all of its adamantly strident insistence on being absolutely different from the dithering equivocations of the Paul Martin Liberals, so frequently evinces the same sort of fatuous waffling, flip-flopping and hopelessly muddle-headed thinking when it comes to… well, pretty much everything.


Ah, yes… the sound of kooky-Con conspiracy theories doing a faceplant. Ker-thunk!

Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE Kady O’Malley? (I do... She’s absolutely adorable.)

Terms of Endearment?


It seems the “Phantom Observer” was somewhat taken aback by my snarky remark that the epithet “Libranos” comparing the Liberals to a fictitious Mafia crime family was kind of hackneyed and unoriginal given the scandal referred to was many years ago and, until to today at least, mostly a thing of the distant past. Somehow, “Phantom” thinks that the comparison to the Sopranos is “a good thing”… I’m not quite sure what twisted logic is involved in the development of such a position, although granted there’s something kind of endearing about the cast of characters portrayed in the HBO series. However, I suspect this is a rather disingenuous defense of what most would agree is a rather shoddy epithet.

So… I’m wondering what your favourite term for Harper and/or the “Conservatives” is and whether you think these silly taunts actually serve any purpose or perhaps do they just reflect somewhat poorly on the people who employ them…

The Great Deceiver: A litany of “cretinisms”

Great Deceiver

Absolutely fucking brilliant!

“There you have it, Canadians. The CPC has essentially wiped its ass on three million of your dollars in order to send you infantile anti-Dion vitriol — thus expending a fortune on something dozens of slackwitted Blogging Tories offer us daily, for free.”



If Kate and others have their shorts in a frantic twist over Time Magazine’s latest cover controversy, why didn’t they blow a gasket over this image?

Raising the Flag

But back to the matter at hand. To make their point about the serious nature of the challenge facing America (and the world) in combating the effects of global warming, the editors at Time decided to use the iconic photo from the Battle of Iwo Jima (inspiration for the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial) and do a little Photoshopping. More specifically, they replaced the flag with a tree. Apparently, their goal was to make the comparison that the fight against global warming is similar to the titanic struggle of WWII. It seems some veterans are upset about this:

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” Donald Mates, an Iwo Jima veteran said. “Whoever did it is going to hell. That’s a mortal sin. God forbid he runs into a Marine that was an Iwo Jima survivor.” Mates also said making the comparison of World War II to global warming was erroneous and disrespectful.“The second world war we knew was there,” Mates said. “There’s a big discussion. Some say there is global warming, some say there isn’t. And to stick a tree in place of a flag on the Iwo Jima picture is just sacrilegious.”

Not surprisingly, I’m agnostic on the matter. Utilizing iconic images to make a point is nothing new and at the risk of pointing out the obvious, there’s more than a little irony to be found in the notion that somehow disgracing an “icon” is “sacrilegious” when you really think about it.

Update: If nothing else, this has certainly elicited some rather amusing reactions from the perpetually frenzied denizens of Wingnuttia. Five Feet of Bowel Obstruction™ is quick off the mark with the first comment at SDA: “Urge to kill... rising...” I really can’t be bothered to document the rest, but will guarantee there’s much mordant hilarity to be had if you’ve got the stomach for it. Do feel free to share.

Because we care…

Afghan Poll

In view of the fact that a certain altitudinally-challenged termagant can’t seem to muster the heroic effort required to get past the cheap laughs (which curiously never really seem to materialize in any case), I’m more than pleased to go that little extra distance to provide YOU the valuable reader with links to the actual source of her putative humour. Here and here (report in PDF format).

Bonus Track: John Daly (aka Johnny Maudlin) is really too easy a target, no? Yo, dude, buy a clue. No one is looking for “positive vibes” on political blogs. Please don’t actually make me agree with the likes of Kathy Shaidle. (h/t: the usual suspect.)

Colbert Report: Clinton, Edwards & Obama Appearances

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bad Boys and “Trusty” Defamers

I have to confess to being a little flummoxed at being called a LIAR for stating the principals of Elections Canada are Conservative appointees. And yet, that’s what Harper knob-polisher and Kool-Aid® drinker extraordinaire “Trusty Tory” has done. “…isn’t it Elections Canada that does the appointing? Why don’t you start telling the truth?” he demands. When I pointed out that Elections Canada reports directly to parliament and its officials are appointed by the government of the day, it was countered with this: “I dare you to investigate your little ‘appointments’ claim. Go ahead! Look it up!” So I did.

The two officials in question are appointed by the Governor in Council which is defined as: “…the Senior Personnel and Special Projects Secretariat in the Privy Council Office, in support of the Prime Minister and his office” or, in other words, “the government of the day” just as I had said. When presented with this evidence, the response from the “trusty” one? “ should look again at what you posted and what the truth is.” Huh… WTF?

After waiting in vain for over an hour for an explanation of this apparent disconnect from reality, it seems the deeply convoluted logic behind this ridiculous assertion can be found at Trusty HQ where, as usual, “truth” is the first casualty of shameless boosterism. As best I can tell from his Lie Exhibit “A” the assertion that Mayrand and Corbett are NOT Conservative appointees is the fact that: a) Mayrand’s appointment was approved by parliament on a unanimous vote; and b) a presser from Elections Canada in 2006 that announced the appointment of Corbett. Well, those indisputable “facts” may well be, but they’re also quite irrelevant. The two individuals in question are still appointed by the Governor in Council, which is… you guessed it — the Privy Council and the federal cabinet aka the government of the day. Of course Mayrand was approved by parliament; because as an independent, non-political agency, Elections Canada reports to them! Duh! And it’s normal protocol for a media release naming a new Commissioner to be issued under the name of the existing official in that position — it does not however mean that the officials of Elections Canada appoint their own successors.

Now, about your calling me a LIAR… Care to retract that?

Springsteen-Obama: Wrong for Pennsylvania

A wildly imagined Clinton attack ad to counter the recent Springsteen endorsement of Obama by the folks at Slate.

Politiks iz Hard... So ABC does this instead!

A deft swipe at ABC’s “debate” trainwreck last night by Andy Cobb and company.

The conventional narrative is that Hillary narrowly “won” the event and that Obama appeared “tired”… I prefer the implicit take-away derived from WP’s Tom Shales that perhaps Obama was just thoroughly exasperated by this pantomime idiocy.

Well, THAT didn’t take long!

One could almost have used an egg-timer to monitor what precise duration would elapse before some over-enthusiastic SoCon wingnut would spill the beans and disclose what everyone already knew to be the case — that if passed in its current format, Bill C-10 will indeed be utilized by culture warriors like Charles McVety as blunt instrument to enforce their retrograde brand of “morality” on society at large. Mound of Sound has more

Mission Improbable

Golly, what a surprise! Who would have ever seen this coming?

Papal Mass: The Crass Menagerie

Eggs Benedict

Seems that not quite everyone was deliriously enthused by the papal mass in Nationals Park earlier today. Rev. Richard Neuhaus, editor of First Things magazine, said he thinks the “liturgical and musical stew” probably “tried Benedict’s patience a good deal.” Neuhaus called the mass an example of “preening multicultural exhibitionism” and “a great mish mash of almost everything.” Heh. I suspect that scathing opinion would find much sympathy with this lovable Tridentine crank who’s unsurprisingly critical of the whole missionary undertaking in view of the depraved, relativistic, and Sybaritic nature of American society that’s antithetical to the Catholic world-view.

The Comedy Stylings of… Dick Cheney!

Isn’t nice to know that the locus of evil in the Bush regime, principal of torture, and architect of one of the most disastrous wars in American history can take time out of this busy schedule of fucking up everything in sight to share a few belly laughs with the media that have served him so well.

“[radio and TV correspondents] can use a little good cheer, because these are tough times in your industry, in this age of YouTube and the blogs that threaten to overshadow the old media. At times, you must feel like you’re at the center of events, but no one’s really paying attention to you. You understand the world better than anybody, but no one wants to hear it. Now you know exactly what it’s like to be Vice President.” — Dick Cheney

A Sphincter Says What? (Part II)


Ah, the mudfortunate hilarity is never in short supply at dr. roy’s Grammatical House of Horrors & Cut-n-Paste Shoppe. But it was this post that actually caught my attention, wherein the medical maroon says: “The grits at elections Canada seem to be trying to give their buddies something to attack the Tories with.” Gee, I wonder which “grits” that would be — Conservative appointee Marc Mayrand (Chief Electoral Officer) or perhaps Conservative appointee William Corbett (Commissioner)? What a tool.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The “Gotcha Debate”

The longer this seemingly interminable contest drags on, the less interesting these silly debates become (not that they were exactly scintillating or terribly edifying in the first place). Didn’t these two just debate the other week at the “Compassion Forum” or some such vapid charade of religiosity? I really couldn’t bring myself to suffer through it. Such displays of personal faith are dreadfully vulgar as far as I’m concerned. In any case, if you missed, all or part of this latest so-called “debate” (I elected to watch Futurama instead) it sounds like we’re no worse off for having done so…

Via Huffington Post:

In perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years, ABC News hosts Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous focused mainly on trivial issues as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in Philadelphia. They, and their network, should hang their collective heads in shame.

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the health care and mortgage crises, the overall state of the economy and dozens of other pressing issues had to wait for their few moments in the sun as Obama was pressed to explain his recent “bitter” gaffe and relationship with Rev. Wright (seemingly a dead issue) and not wearing a flag pin — while Clinton had to answer again for her Bosnia trip exaggerations.

Then it was back to Obama to defend his slim association with a former ‘60s radical — a question that came out of rightwing talk radio and Sean Hannity on TV, but was delivered by former Bill Clinton aide Stephanopolous. This approach led to a claim that Clinton’s husband pardoned two other ‘60s radicals. And so on. The travesty continued.

More time was spent on all of this than segments on getting out of Iraq and keeping people from losing their homes and — you name it. Gibson only got excited complaining that someone might raise his capital gains tax. Yet neither candidate had the courage to ask the moderators to turn to those far more important issues. Talking heads on other networks followed up by not pressing that point either. The crowd booed Gibson near the end. Why didn’t every other responsible journalist on TV?

A Confederacy of Dunces

Doughy Pantload

Fellow gluttons for punishment should be sure to check out the Village Voice’s “Headshot Guide to the Right-Wing Blogosphere” slideshow by Tom Tomorrow and the hilarious “Visual Election- Season Manual” by Roy Edroso.

From the Jonah Goldberg entry:

ORIENTATION: Legacy-pledge conservative

TONE: Self-amused

FUN FACT: Son of Lucianne Goldberg, the Republican operative who got Linda Tripp to wear a wire in the Lewinsky affair; helped Mom spread the word in multiple TV appearances.

CANDIDATE: McCain, duh


MODUS OPERANDI: Goldberg’s comical persona—once pretty much all he had—is now mainly a fallback position in his attempts at serious commentary. For example, he begins one Goldberg File with the observation that “God, unlike, say, North Dakota, has an uncanny gift for staying in the headlines”; then launches into an incoherent but apparently earnest defense of religion based on the obnoxiousness of scientists and Penn Jillette; then wraps up with a philosophical assertion—“whatever electrochemical signals my brain may be receiving, my awareness of their existence doesn’t diminish the fact that I love my wife or that I think love is something more than mere electrochemical signals”—and a joke about a turkey sandwich.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Comparisons of the Democratic candidate (whoever he or she happens to be) to amusing inanimate objects and Nazis.

Will Ferrell Does Bush

Via Huffington Post:

Will Ferrell dusted off his George W. Bush impersonation Sunday night to raise money for autism education. The cause, Comedy Centrals Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Benefit For Autism Education, was started by Saturday Night Live writer Robert Smigel, whose son is autistic. Ferrell, as Bush, shared reflections of his legacy with host Jon Stewart.

It’s not a RAID! (Updated)

Maybe semantics is the last refuge of a scoundrel (e.g., “It depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.”).

It’s quite unbelievable that so many “Conservatives” have their shorts in a knot over initial reports in the media that the RCMP showing up at Conservative Party headquarters was a “raid” (they would have preferred it to have been called a “visit” or some such thing). Remember that the next time the Mounties unexpectedly turn up at your doorstep with a search warrant — they’re just paying you a friendly little visit, that’s all. Nothing at all to worry about.

Also pretty amusing are the desperate allegations that Elections Canada is “Liberal controlled” or somehow in the bag for the LPC. As noted by Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale today, the two men in charge at Elections Canada – Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand and Elections Canada Commissioner William Corbett – were both appointed by the current Conservative government.

Curse those pesky FACTS and liberal-biased reality!

Update: Rather than accept the obvious, the Dear Leader’s Kool-Aid® swilling partisans seem eager to follow Pierre Poilievre’s crackpot conspiracy theories about the “friendly visit” being a staged photo-op by those nefarious Liberals. Apparently, they’re undaunted by the fact that the Libs learned about it from watching Newsworld and, like many others, then rushed to the scene. Man, these people are such delusional mooks.

Just “Winter Camping & Paintball”?

It seems that habitual loon “Neo” is unconvinced that “winter camping and the paintball” aren’t simply “insanely popular Islamic activities”… Well, in this case, he may actually have some fairly good reason for his skepticism, although it’s a reasonable bet that the whole undertaking was a pretty hapless affair that posed little chance of ever materializing into a real threat. Still, one never knows… Check out this bunch of fanatical losers that were arrested in Britain in connection with a failed bombing attempt in London several years ago.

The World According to Monsanto

This excellent film by French journalist Marie-Monique Robin is subtitled “A documentary that Americans won’t ever see” which sadly, is probably quite true. Originally aired on French television (ARTE – French-German cultural TV channel) last month, the documentary describes how gigantic biotech corporation Monsanto exploited the deregulation craze of the Reagan administration to gain FDA approval for genetically modified crops and milk additives and explores in detail how its GM products are threatening to destroy the agricultural biodiversity which has served mankind for thousands of years.

Colbert Report: Michelle Obama

“Why would you want to be first lady? As I understand it, the phone keeps ringing at 3 a.m.” — Stephen Colbert

NYT article.

Question for Dems: “What precisely is the point of you?”

Via New York Magazine:

That McCain’s political resurrection owed as much to the weakness of the Republican field—not to mention blind shithouse luck—as to his talent and grit makes it no less remarkable. Yet for all the hosannas being sung to him these days, and for all the waves of fear and trembling rippling through the Democratic masses, the truth is that McCain is a candidate of pronounced and glaring weaknesses. A candidate whose capacity to raise enough money to beat back the tidal wave of Democratic moola is seriously in doubt. A candidate unwilling or unable to animate the GOP base. A candidate whose operation has never recovered from the turmoil of last summer, still skeletal and ragtag and technologically antediluvian. (“Fund-raising on the Web? You don’t say. You can raise money through those tubes?”) Whose cadre of confidantes contains so many lobbyists that the Straight Talk Express often has the vibe of a rolling K Street clubhouse. Whose awkward positioning issues-wise was captured brilliantly by Pat Buchanan: “The jobs are never coming back, the illegals are never going home, but we’re going to have a lot more wars.” A candidate one senior moment—or one balky teleprompter—away from being transformed from a grizzled warrior into Grandpa Simpson. A candidate, that is, who poses an existential question for Democrats: If you can’t beat a guy like this in a year like this, with a vastly unpopular Republican war still ongoing and a Republican recession looming, what precisely is the point of you?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Meanwhile, at Conservative Party HQ…

Heh. No kidding.

And the BT reaction? “But, but… ADSCAM!!!” Man, is that ever getting tired.

Update: You have to be more than a little amazed by the sheer arrogance and audacity of the “Conservatives” and their supporters. Can you imagine if the Liberal Party HQ was paid a visit by the RCMP? Why, the BTs would be shrieking from the rooftops about the corruption and criminality of the Liberals. Well, okay… they do that all the time anyway, but you know what I mean. But of course, when it’s the CPoC that gets the knock on the door from the Mounties (even though they were just there to “assist” Elections Canada in the serving of a search warrant), media coverage of the incident is casually brushed aside. “That slow of a news day, eh?” snorts our friend “Trusty Tory” without the slightest hint of irony. Quite telling is this passage:

That same Elections Canada who is currently being challenged in the courts by the Conservative Party over their little “rule” that they claim was broken.

How interesting that the word “rule” is placed in quotation marks. As we’ve seen so many times with this government, the prevailing attitude seems to be that rules are for other people. You know… the evil-doers... the lawbreakers; in other words, Liberals. There’s one standard for the CPoC and quite another for everyone else — when it comes to Harper’s gang, rules are made to be broken it seems.

Also amusing is this suggestion:

There are those out there who claim that Elections Canada is full of “professionals”, but I find that hard to believe when a well entrenched bureaucracy considers itself under attack by a Tory government that may be eyeing the privatization of crown corporations.

And yet again, we see the arrogant contempt for the folks at Elections Canada which is, as if a reminder was needed, an independent, non-partisan agency that reports directly to parliament. The notion that it would be privatized is ludicrous. I wonder who “Trusty Tory” has in mind for this task… Diebold? Good lord, what foolishness.

Pope Benedict XVI: “Guten Tag, Amerika!”

“Obviously it shows the deep respect that the President has for the Pope and also the recognition that there’s a lot of Catholic voters out there.”
— Father Thomas Reese

How thrilling to see President Bush rushing out to Andrews Air Force Base to kiss the Pope’s ring — now there’s some real Rat-on-Ratzinger action.

Speaking of Popes…

Frontline: Is Wal-Mart Good for America?

“We cannot continue to be a solvent nation as long as we pursue this current accelerating direction. Our company is firmly committed to the philosophy by buying everything possible from suppliers who manufacture their products in the United States.” — Sam Walton

That was then... in 1985, to be precise. In 2005, the PBS Series “Frontline” explored the relationship between U.S. job losses, the offshoring of manufacturing to China, and the American consumer’s insatiable desire for bargains in “Is Wal-Mart Good for America?” Through interviews with retail executives, product manufacturers, economists, and trade experts, correspondent Hedrick Smith examines the growing controversy over the Wal-Mart way of doing business and asks whether a single retail giant has perhaps irrevocably changed the American economy.

Panorama: Scientology & Me

To anyone who thinks that Scientology is a creepy cult, this BBC documentary certainly won’t do anything to disabuse you of that impression. While making the film, journalist John Sweeney is repeatedly shouted at, spied on, and has his hotel invaded at midnight by his appointed “minder” from the church (who looks somewhat like Tom Cruise). He’s also denounced as a “bigot” by star Scientologists and even chased round the streets of Los Angeles by sinister strangers. Back in Britain, strangers called on his neighbours, his mother-in-law’s house and someone even spied on his wedding. Little wonder that at one point Sweeney absolutely loses it in an embarrassing shouting match with his “minder”… Highly entertaining.

The Decline & Fall of Anthony Flew

Quite sad really.

I think if this was a legal examination, the term “leading the witness” would appropriately describe this interview. Note that the “integrated complexity” argument that’s apparently critical to his reconsideration of theism was thoroughly debunked in the Dover Area School Board case and yet Flew seems completely unaware of this.

PZ Myers has written previously about the shameless exploitation of this addled old man by unscrupulous religious nutters.

Correction: My bad. It seems that mistakenly confused “integrated complexity” with “irreducible complexity” which is another matter altogether. The latter assertion was the theory debunked in the Dover case. The former is more of a philosophical concept that’s complimentary to Flew’s “deistic” views and an Aristotelian first cause. Thanks to commenter Peter for pointing this out.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Will that be dishonest or stupid?

Lorrie Goldstein has a question: “How hard could it have been to predict that if you grow food to make fuel instead of feed people, eventually two things will happen? (1) You won’t have enough land to grow food. (2) There will be food shortages, rising prices, riots and starvation” he asks this morning.

The correct answer of course is that it wasn’t hard to predict such an outcome at all. Just check the Toronto Star from several months ago, or the feature above from ABC’s 20/20 program shown over a year ago. Actually, one could find any number of environmentalists and critics of food-based ethanol that predicted just such dire scenarios many years ago when corn ethanol first started taking off in the U.S. Midwest.

Perhaps this question would be better directed to the Harper government that last July announced an investment of $1.5 billion to boost Canada’s production of biofuels. “With leading-edge technology and abundant supplies of grains, oilseeds and other feedstocks, Canada is uniquely positioned to become a global leader in the production of biofuel,” said Harper at a photo-op in front of a grain terminal.

But never mind those pesky FACTS, because after all, Goldstein is a “Conservative” hack with an axe to grind against “global warming” and anything that smacks of lefty environmentalism. “Welcome to another unintended consequence of fighting global warming, or, more accurately, of panicking over global warming in a climate of political hysteria, thus rushing into decisions that may only make things worse,” he smugly crows.

Of course the only people even half-seriously touting the environmental benefits of ethanol were the politicians backing these programs and the agri-business conglomerates that stood to benefit from them. Remember the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association advertisements that ran continuously for months last year featuring Harper’s generous funding promise? One person who certainly wasn’t keen on the CO2 reducing properties of ethanol was Frederic Forge of the Library of Parliament’s science and technology division who concluded that regulations to promote biofuels would have “relatively minor impact” on reducing greenhouse emissions across Canada. Naturally, his pessimistic assessment was promptly ignored completely by the Harper government, what with it being all scientific and stuff. No surprise — we all know how this “walking with dinosaurs” crowd feels about that sort of thing!

MadTV: Barrack & Hillary

A bit of an exaggeration, but he did once get applause at a rally just for blowing his nose…

Why Do “Conservatives” Hate the Arts?

“The Philistine not only ignores all conditions of life which are not his own but also demands that the rest of mankind should fashion its mode of existence after his own” — Goethe

Here’s another question about so-called “Conservatives”… Why is it that so many of them appear to despise the arts and sneer with the utmost contempt at our culture? I realize that’s quite a sweeping generalization, but I can’t think of the number of times over the years I’ve heard something along the following lines (this particular tripe comes from BT “Hunter” who laughably claims to be “Climbing Out of the Dark… Into the Conservative Light”):

I disagree with funding any arts. They can stand or fall on their own, like any business. When my boys were little we gladly paid to go to the museum, the zoo, Fort Edmonton Park, and Heritage days, to name a few.

That is different from funding a movie, the movie industry is a huge money maker, if you can’t make money, your product is not necessary, it’s supply and demand, plain and simple. Why are the “arts” any different than any other industry? Shrills like Polley make us think they are supporting Canadian culture. Not true, we are supporting artists with our tax dollars who can’t make it on their own. Enough is enough.
What utter nonsense. While the business of art is conducted much like any other commercial venture in which something is bought, sold, or traded, a work of art is obviously not a commodity in the ordinary sense, and the laws of “supply and demand” aren’t necessarily applicable, especially in the realm of what could loosely be described as the “fine arts” where a body of works may well go largely unappreciated during an artist’s career for whatever reason, only gaining popularity and/or value much later on.

Apparently, like many “Conservatives” who get righteously indignant about funding for arts and culture, “Hunter” seems unaware of the fact that while the federal government spends approximately $3.25 billion on “culture” per year, whereas cultural industries contribute over $43 billion to the Canadian economy, or almost 4% of GDP — and that’s only the direct impacts of culture. Excluded from that are the impacts of: 1) the re-spending of expenditures of cultural organizations (i.e., indirect impacts); 2) the re-spending of wages earned by cultural workers (i.e., induced impacts); and 3) cultural attendees’ spending on hotels, restaurants and transportation associated with cultural activities (i.e., ancillary impacts). According to a recent American study, the ancillary impacts of arts attendees was about one-and-a-half times the impact of the arts organizations’ own expenditures. That’s a pretty healthy return in terms of the contribution to the economy generated by culture for the comparatively modest expenditure involved. So what’s with this “enough is enough” business?

As for individual grants, the government through the Canada Council last year awarded $19.3 million to 2,037 artists (that includes all disciplines, such as writing, music, dance, and visual arts). The amount going to visual arts can be roughly estimated at less than half that amount. According to the Arts Policy Branch of Canada Heritage, the total market for original works of Canadian visual art is approx. $410 million. Well, that’s over $20 million in GST revenue alone right there on sales of visual arts alone. So what on earth is “Hunter” complaining about, exactly, and why is this grievance such a frequent refrain of right-wing demagogues?

Obama and the NWO Elite?

It’s kind of hard to figure out exactly what exactly the point of this video is; some kind of nefarious “New World Order” conspiracy, apparently. It also seems to be an attack on Obama, judging by some of the unfavourable clips selected, the fact that the other candidates aren’t featured at all, and on YouTube the title of it calls him “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

I just thought it was interesting to see how a lot of disparate clips taken out of context can be brought together through creative editing then laid down over an ominous soundtrack to conjure up a sense of menace and dread without actually saying anything definitive. Obama however seems like an odd target for the paranoia of these tin-foil types.

The Secret Life of L. Ron Hubbard

This short documentary for Channel 4 offers a revealing look at the life of founder and “prophet” (or is that “profit”?) of the Scientology cult, Lafayette Ron Hubbard. Good grief, how can anyone in their right mind actually believe that this kook was some kind of messiah rather than just a hack science fiction writer and cynical charlatan? It really beggars belief.

Anti-American Media Bias (Euro-liberal Edition)

Curse those Euro-liberals and their relentless America-bashing! Why are they all just so mean and unspeakably awful? The Christian Broadcasting Network investigates...

The “Bitter” Democratic Battle

If you’ve watched cable news at all over the weekend, you’ve no doubt heard the latest flap over some “controversial” remarks that Obama made at a fundraiser in San Francisco about working-class voters in Pennsylvania, and other small towns in the Midwest feeling bitter about having being ignored by various administrations over the last 25 years, turning to guns or religion, and explaining their frustrations through antipathy to immigrants and trade agreements.

The Clinton and McCain campaigns have equivocated in their interpretation of the word “bitter” and have described these remarks as “elitist” and “condescending.” Fox News dispatched a producer to get reactions from small town Pennsylvanians on Barack Obama’s comments re: the challenges of reaching out to voters who are “embittered” by the economic situation and distrustful of politicians. But uh-oh!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Money Masters

The Money Masters is a fascinating documentary about the worldwide history of central banking and the practice of what’s known as “fractional reserve lending.” Although it was made in 1998, the information is still relevant – perhaps even more so now than a decade ago. Despite being three and a half hours long and obviously low-budget, it’s an extremely gripping film. (There are shorter segments available on YouTube, or you can just dip into the film pretty much anywhere and pick up the thread… it’s full of all sorts of intriguing information.)

The film opens by asking the following questions: What’s going on in America today - why are we over our heads in debt?; Why can’t the politicians bring debt under control?; Why are so many people working at low-paying, dead-end jobs and still making do with less?; What’s the future of the American economy and way of life?; Why does the government tell us inflation is low when the buying power of our paychecks is declining at an alarming rate?; Are we headed into an economic crash of unprecedented proportions? If so, can we prevent it?; and, What can we do to protect our families?

A good part of the film is just a history lesson, but a very interesting and necessary one which takes the viewer from the Roman Empire to the history of the Bank of England and to the American Revolution. The filmmakers’ opinion is the Revolution was caused by England sending the Colonies into financial ruin by taking away their ability to use their own fiat currency to pay taxes. It then goes on to detail the various incarnations of a private or quasi-private central bank in the United States, right up to the present when the U.S. economy is controlled by the Fed. One particularly edifying section describes the rise of the shadowy Rothchild family that played a key role in banrolling European governments and American industry over the last two centuries. The film explains in chilling detail how the Great Depression was orchestrated for the benefit of a handful of rich bankers and how we can expect a worldwide depression in the near future if the banking system isn’t reformed.

It should be noted that the situation in Canada is considerably different than that of the U.S. Although our central bank was established by the Conservative government of R.B. Bennett in 1935 as a privately owned corporation, in 1938, under Liberal Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, it became a Crown corporation, fully owned by the government with the governor appointed by Cabinet. Even so, given that the Canadian and U.S. economies are so closely intertwined, the actions of the Fed in the U.S. quite obviously still have a significant influence over the monetary policies of the Bank of Canada.

A Rough History of Disbelief: The Final Hour

The last program of the series continues with the ideas of self-taught philosopher Thomas Paine, the revolutionary studies of geology and the evolutionary theories of Darwin. Jonathan Miller looks at the Freudian view that religion is a “thought disorder” and also examines his motivation behind making the series touching on the issues of death and the religious fanaticism of the 21st century.

Stephen Fry: Guilty (Part 3)