Monday, November 30, 2009

Richard Dawkins

From Real Time With Bill Maher, April 11 2008. Richard Dawkins: Oxford evolutionary biologist, Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, author of the widely popular The God Delusion, and a rationalist when it comes to a higher power and organized religion.

Kyoto a "socialist scheme", "tentative and contradictory scientific evidence"

It's unbelievable watching the Harper government attempt to address the climate change crisis, as well as witnessing Prime Minister Harper pontificate about reaching a binding agreement in Copenhagen, when not too long ago the Reform Party gang not only ridiculed the Kyoto Protocol but also the science of climate change itself.

The following is the full text of a letter written in 2002 by Stephen Harper for members of his Canadian Alliance Party, condemning the Kyoto accord and the science of climate change:

Dear Friend,

We’re on a roll, folks!

The Canadian Alliance is once again setting the agenda in the House of Commons. Look at what happened in less than two months since Parliament reopened:

— We bagged another Liberal cabinet minister when we drove the hapless Lawrence MacAulay to resign for violating the ethics guidelines.

— We broke Jean Chrétien’s chokehold on the House of Commons by getting the election of committee chairs and votes on all private members’ bills.

— We finally (!) got the Liberals to agree to set up a national registry for sex offenders.

But we can’t just relax and declare victory. We’re gearing up for the biggest struggle our party has faced since you entrusted me with the leadership. I’m talking about the “battle of Kyoto” — our campaign to block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto Accord.

It would take more than one letter to explain what’s wrong with Kyoto, but here are a few facts about this so-called “Accord”:

— It’s based on tentative and contradictory scientific evidence about climate trends.

— It focuses on carbon dioxide, which is essential to life, rather than upon pollutants.

— Canada is the only country in the world required to make significant cuts in emissions. Third World countries are exempt, the Europeans get credit for shutting down inefficient Soviet-era industries, and no country in the Western hemisphere except Canada is signing.

— Implementing Kyoto will cripple the oil and gas industry, which is essential to the economies of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

— As the effects trickle through other industries, workers and consumers everywhere in Canada will lose. THERE ARE NO CANADIAN WINNERS UNDER THE KYOTO ACCORD.

— The only winners will be countries such as Russia, India, and China, from which Canada will have to buy “emissions credits.” Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.

— On top of all this, Kyoto will not even reduce greenhouse gases. By encouraging transfer of industrial production to Third World countries where emissions standards are more relaxed, it will almost certainly increase emissions on a global scale.

For a long time, the Canadian Alliance stood virtually alone in opposing the Kyoto Accord, as Bob Mills, our senior environment critic, waged a valiant battle against it. Now, however, allies are stepping forward — eight of 10 provincial governments, and a broad coalition of businesses across Canada — to help us fight the ``battle of Kyoto.”

Jean Chrétien says he will introduce a resolution to ratify Kyoto into Parliament and get it passed before Christmas. We will do everything we can to stop him there, but he might get it passed with the help of the socialists in the NDP and the separatists in the BQ.

But the “battle of Kyoto” is just beginning. Ratification is merely symbolic; Kyoto will not take effect unless and until it is implemented by legislation. We will go to the wall to stop that legislation and at that point we will be on much stronger procedural ground than in trying to block a mere resolution.

The Reform Party defeated the Charlottetown Accord in an epic struggle in the fall of 1992. Now the Canadian Alliance is leading the battle against the Kyoto Accord!

But we can’t do it alone. It will take an army of Canadians to beat Kyoto, just as it did to beat Charlottetown.

We can’t stop Kyoto just in Parliament. We need your help at all levels. We need you to inform yourself about Kyoto, to discuss it with your friends and neighbours, and to write protest letters to newspapers and the government.

And, yes, we need your gifts of money. The “battle of Kyoto” is going to lead directly into the next election. We need your contribution of $500, or $250, or $100, or whatever you can afford, to help us drive the Liberals from power.

Yours truly,
Stephen Harper, MP
Leader of the Opposition [2002]

PS: The “battle of Kyoto” shows why the Canadian Alliance is so important to you and to Canada. All the other federal parties are supporting Kyoto (Liberals, NDP, BQ) or speaking out of both sides of their mouth (Tories). Only the Canadian Alliance is strong and fearless enough to block dangerous and destructive schemes like the Charlottetown Accord and the Kyoto Accord.

Israel lobby goes after Human Rights Watch

America's leading human rights organization has accused Israel and its supporters of an "organized campaign" of false allegations and misinformation in an attempt to discredit the group over its reports of war crimes in Gaza. The campaign against Human Rights Watch has included accusations that the group's reports on the Jewish state are written by "anti-Israel ideologues" and that it has sought funds from Saudi Arabia.

Human Rights Watch homepage

Canadians don't believe the Harper government on Afghan detainees

A majority of Canadians do not believe the Harper government's official line regarding the Canadian military turning over detainees to the Afghan secret police to be tortured. Harris-Decima found that Canadians are twice as likely to believe Richard Colvin's accusation that all detainees given to Afghan authorities by Canadian soldiers were mistreated and government officials knew all about the situation.

• Fifty-one per cent of respondents said they believe Colvin's testimony to the committee last week.

• Only 25 per cent said they believe the government's contention that the diplomat's claims are flimsy and not credible.

• A majority in all regions – except Alberta where 41 per cent believed Colvin and 35 per cent the government – sided with the whistleblower.

• Those who identified themselves as supporters of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives were most inclined to give the government the benefit of the doubt. But even they were almost evenly split, with 40 per cent buying the government's take on the issue and 34 per cent buying Colvin's.

• 70 per cent said it's unacceptable that Canadian forces would hand over prisoners if it's likely they'll be tortured. No less than 60 per cent in any region and even a majority of Conservative supporters subscribed to this view.

When will the world act?

It appears that any hope for a legally binding agreement to be reached at next month's U.N. Copenhagen Climate Conference is pretty much non-existent. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that "significant differences" between leaders regarding combating the climate crisis led to his doubts about an agreement being reached. As if Harper really cares. After all, he used to ridicule taking action on climate change and the science. Harper also further dampened tackling the crisis, arguing that it would be "impossible" to control global emissions if the world's biggest polluters did not sign a deal. He cited "emerging countries" as some of the world's biggest polluters, such as India and China. But please don't take the initiative and try to get something accomplised there Steve.

Harper went on to emphasize that almost every global leader (except himself circa 2002) recognize the emissions dilemma and the requirment for a long-term arrangement. But it's complex and everyone has to be willing participants.

"Our message is that all major economies have to be included. If everyone is not included, you set up the possible risk that certain countries will gain economic advantage...if some contribute, or some contribute disproportionately, then the economic risks for others become enormous."

Although "difficult," Harper believes it is "doable." Yeah right, then do something about it. But we all know how Harper feels about absolute targets, and only doing something if the U.S. does.

Harper, like the hardcore right-winger he is, continues to argue that environmental goals have to be balanced with economic sustainability. Right Steve, because the almighty dollar is just as important as avoiding future global catastrophes. His useless government rejected the Kyoto accord because it was too expensive and damaging to the economy. Whatever.

Every leader in every country is trying to get an agreement that will be effective without imposing too heavy a burden on the economy. We have to work together.

Nice try. You thought it was a "socialist scheme".

Back at the G8 meetings in July, both China and India balked at initiatives commiting them to slashing emissions in half by 2050.

China is the world's largest polluter as it emits the most greenhouse gasses, followed by the United States, the European Union, and India. Yet China's gas emissions are expected to triple or possibly quadruple in the next twenty years. There were hopes that a consensus would be met at the last Asia-Pacific summit, which would serve as a catalyst for reaching a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen, but that of course fizzled out. Global leaders wimped out from previous plans. Reuters acquired the drafts of APEC's closing communiqué which had been rewritten with much more soft and vague assurances, as opposed to the previous plans which compelled members to cut emissions by fifty percent from 1990 levels by 2050: "We believe that global emissions will need to peak over the next few years, and be substantially reduced by 2050." Whatever. China, the United States, Canada and other APEC countries represent forty percent of the global economy, while also producing sixty percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, developing nations persist that due to their manufactured products the west purchases, and therefore sustain the pollution in the process, western nations should finance the cost of controlling and reducing the pollution: if the developing world is the west's factory, than the West should contributions to its maintenance. The west counters this by arguing that the developing nations should embrace new, cleaner technologies and avoid the mistakes they made in the past. And so the proverbial tit-for-tat game continues, as does the climate crisis.

Shut up Harper

While onboard the HMCS Ville de Québec in Port of Spain, Trinidad, yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper essentially called critics of the government's policy of transferring prisoners to Afghan jailers unpatriotic, and that they were undermining the Canadian military:

When some in the political arena do not hesitate before throwing the most serious of allegations at our men and women in uniform, based on the most flimsy of evidence, remember that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are proud of you and stand behind you, and I am proud of you, and I stand beside you.

Nice try Bush. This isn't about the troops. It's about your government's deplorable policies.

Liberal Foreign Affairs critic Bob Rae hammered Harper (and rightfully so) for his “reprehensible” accusation that the oppostions parties are somehow denigrating the military by enquring about the handling of Afghan detainees. Rae said it's not about looking into the conduct of Canadian soldiers, but rather questioning the actions of the Harper government. To suggest that some political parties are stronger advocates of the Canadian military than others is “reprehensible" and arguing that asking questions regarding Afghan detainees is "somewhat unpatriotic, is frankly beyond the pale.”

To play that card the way he has played it, is I think, grossly unfair. And to suggest that in any question that’s been posed in the House of Commons or in any comment that’s been made — that somehow this is about the conduct of our troops — it’s just completely false.

You can count on Canadians

A new poll has found that a clear majority of Canadians want action on climate change, and that a large majority believes global warming is "mankind's defining crisis" that demands an immediate response. The online poll involved 1,009 Canadians and was conducted by Harris-Decima on behalf of the Munk Debates. It asked respondents if they agreed or disagreed with a resolution to be debated Tuesday during the fourth Munk Debate in Toronto: "Climate change is mankind's defining crisis, and demands a commensurate response" Approximately two thirds of Canadians agreed with this present reality, while thirty-one percent disagreed (and are apparently out of touch with reality). A miniscule fraction had no opinion, apparently too busy with their cellphones, reality television, People magazine, or wherever else their lackadaisical perspective takes them. Rudyard Griffiths, one of the organizers of the Munk Debates said:

I think it shows the extent to which not just the environment, but the actual issue of climate change, has ascended up the public agenda to point where it is reminiscent of those other big causes that have shaped a lot of Canadian history.

Women were a little bit more predisposed to agree with the statement, as opposed to men, with sixty-seven percent of women and sixty-three percent of men recognizing the reality of the climate crisis. Meanwhile, throughout the country, more Quebecers and Atlantic Canadians recognized the reality of the climate crisis, while those in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan were less likely to agree (more rednecks who don't need science or fancy book learnin').

Harris-Decima also asked Canadians for their views on a variety of arguments for and against climate change. Respondents were given five assertions usually proclaimed by those who support combating climate change, and five statements made by morons who are against addressing the crisis. Harris-Decima recorded a robust conviction on both sides (huh?) of the debate that there is a ethical obligation to address the crisis asap in order to save the planet's future generations. So, the deniers of reality conceed that we're in big trouble, but don't want to do anything about it?
Both sides also agreed that changing climates poses a threatens extinction to global species and ecologies, and scientists have reached a consensus that the crisis needs to be addressed.

The poll also found that nearly two thirds of Canadians think we will be able to adapt to climate change.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's Whitby riding office was occupied by seven protesters (images here), who were calling for more action on the climate crisis. The protesters belong to People for Climate Justice, who insist on a legally binding agreement to be reached at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. People for Climate Justice are demanding that the Harper government pledge to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to twenty-five percent of 1990 levels. They said that Flaherty must press the government for a "just, ambitious, and binding deal in Copenhagen with science-based targets."

Last week, a protest was also held at Environment Minister Jim Prentice's riding office in Calgary:

Nader in 2010!

Consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader is "absorbing" the feedback he's getting about a potential run for the U.S. Senate, saying that before he makes a decision he wants to see what kind of grassroots support exists. Nader has been asked by many, including the Connecticut Green Party to get into the hotly contested race in to challenge Democratic Senator Chris Dodd. Dodd has been struggling in recent polls. Independents and Ned Lamont supporters, the Democrat who challenged Senator Joe Lieberman in the 2006 election, are also asking Ralph to run.

I'm just absorbing a lot of the feedback before I make a decision. It really depends on what kind of momentum there is and how many people are willing to roll up their sleeves because I'm very accustomed to people saying 'run Ralph run' and then they drift away, predisposed and preoccupied with their daily life. It has to be bottom up.

Over a hundred people turned up at the Noah Webster Library in West Hartford last Friday to hear Nader talk about his book, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, including Green Party members who held signs that read, "Run Ralph Run!" The state's Green Party has been doing more to persuade Nader to run, arguing that this situation marks one of the best opportunities for the Greens to win a seat in the Senate.

When Vic Lancia of Portland had Nader sign a copy of his book, he told him that he wants to help out with a Senate campaign:

I'm retired, Ralph. I've got good legs to go to work for you. Give me something to do next year Ralph.

Tim McKee, a spokesperson for the Connecticut Green Party, said the party is dedicated to proving there will be support, with not only volunteers but also financial providers as well. McKee said he's happy to see individuals not associated with the Green Party starting internet and social networking sites, encouraging Nader to run.

We're getting responses all across the nation. It's on all the blogs and stuff. They want him to run to win. That's the most important thing. This is not symbolic or anything like that. It's a run to win kind of effort.

Given his impressive record and accomplishments, his personal integrity and unwavering progressive message and platfrom, Nader is seen as the best person who can reform government and hold the banking industry accountable. Dodd has been criticized of late for his ties to the banking industry, while serving as the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. A recent Quinnipiac University Poll found 54 percent of voters disapprove of his job performance. Nader wants to verify if the Conneticut electorate are truly frustrated with Dodd and if there are enough people and volunteers to work in the state's 169 towns "for a new breed of political representation in Washington."

Nader complimented Dodd by saying that he is "very personable" and that Dodd shouldn't be brushed off. He also cautioned against conjecture that Connecticut's senior senator could be advised by fellow senior Democrats not to seek re-election. But Nader did add that Dodd "has been very concessionary to the banks and the brokerage houses for years." Dodd's office and Connecticut Democrats have refused to say anyting about a potential Nader run.

Draft Nader For (Connecticut) US Senate 2010 - Facebook

Online petition: Nader for U.S. Senate 2010

Connecticut Greens Would Welcome Nader Run For Senate

Nader interviewed by Cindy Sheehan yesterday. The interview starts at approximately 1:45:

For a laugh

All the best moments of Sarah Palin interviews, starring Sarah Palin, Charlies Gibson, Katie Couric, Sean Hannity, and special guest appearance from John McCain himself:

CNN's Jack Cafferty tells viewers how he really feels about her:

Another religious idiot

Rick Warren, the evangelical Christian pastor and intolerant homophobic jackass who fave the invocation at President Obama's inauguration, worked with a Ugandan pastor who wants homosexuality punishable by death. This same pastor also burned condoms "in the name of Jesus", which set back a very successful Ugandan anti-AIDS initiative.

Newsweek magazine asked Warren about Martin Ssempa, the Ugandan pastor who visited Warren's Saddleback Church many times. Warren did distance himself from Ssempa, responding that the Ugandan minister does not represent him or his church. However, he would not condemn the pastor's beliefs or Uganda's despicable proposed anti-gay legislation, which proposes death sentences for gays and lesbians. From Newsweek:

But Warren won't go so far as to condemn the legislation itself. A request for a broader reaction to the proposed Ugandan anti-homosexual laws generated this response: "The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations." On Meet the Press this morning, he reiterated this neutral stance in a different context: "As a pastor, my job is to encourage, to support. I never take sides." Warren did say he believed that abortion was "a holocaust." He knows as well as anyone that in a case of great wrong, taking sides is an important thing to do.

So Rick Warren is not only a total bigot but also a coward.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Matching wits with Maher

Bill Maher interviewed on CNN's Reliable Sources back in May. Topics included Obama, the Democrats, Carrie Prejean and the swine flu hype.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wall Street's nemesis

I was first exposed to Matt Taibbi about three years ago on Real Time With Bill Maher. Taibbi is a very quick witted, clever, very bright and talented independent investigative journalist, who writes for a variety of publications, including Rolling Stone. He has been undercover as an evangelical Christian to explore the Christian Right, was a Real Time reporter for Bill Maher during the lead up to the 2008 presidential election, and recently wrote The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire. Taibbi has now earned the scorn of Wall Street and other greedy corporate bastards for his two massive expose articles this year: Wall Street's Naked Swindle, and The Big Takeover.

Wall Street's Naked Swindle by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

A scheme to flood the market with counterfeit stocks helped kill Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers — and the feds have yet to bust the culprits

The Big Takeover by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

The global economic crisis isn't about money - it's about power. How Wall Street insiders are using the bailout to stage a revolution

Friday, November 27, 2009

Stephen Harper's "Canada"

First, George Galloway was kept out. Now, award winning independent journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! received unusual (and creepy) treatment as she and two associates were detained by Canadian border authorities. Goodman was visiting in order to attend a benefit for community radio stations at the Vancouver Public Library, where she was scheduled to speak, but had no intentions on addressing the Winter Games. Goodman and her colleagues were questioned at length about what was the purpose of their visit to Canada, and was repeatedly asked about Goodman's views on the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, and if she was planning on making a speech on the topic. Goodman had no idea what she was being questioned about, and initially thought she was being asked about President Obama's attempt to woe the Olympic Committee to bring the Olympics to Chicago in 2016. Goodman's car was thorougly searched, and their documents and laptop computers were also examined.

This is absolutely shameful, a complete disgrace. This yahoo government is intent on keeping out those whose opinions they do not share. It's embarrassing. Harper's government isn't helping our international reputation, as not only are they attempting to keep opposing voices out of the country, but also ignored warnings of Canadian forces handing detainees over to the Afghan secret police, who then tortured them.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Iran: Inside the protests

Al Jazeera English

A unique look inside the protests in Iran

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Following up on the meatheads

Yesterday I posted the story about Chicago area teabagging idiots who heckled Dan and Midge Hough, who spoke at a town hall meeting on November 14 about losing their grandchild and daughter-in-law because she lacked health insurance.

Earlier this evening, both Dan and Midge Hough appeared on MSNBC's The Ed Show and discussed the treatment they received from the meatheads:

Blackwater's secret war in Pakistan

(segment runs from approximately 1:25 to 20:31)

Independent investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill has revealed in an article in The Nation magazine that the private mercenary company Blackwater is operating an illegal covert assassination and kidnapping program in Pakistan, apparently approved during the Bush administration and continued without the knowledge and consent of senior military and Obama administration officials. The assassination and kidnapping involves Taliban and Al-Qaeda suspects (hopefully), while Blackwater is also apparently engaged in a drone operation which has killed many in Pakistan.

Blackwater of course has long been active in Iraq, responsible for the murders of Iraqi civilians, with founder Erik Prince implicated in a murder.


Well there's no surprise here. The Conservative (Reform/Canadian Alliance) Party showing its true colours once more: an array of sexist neanderthal yahoos. The latest round of idiotic comments come from Nova Scotia MP Gerald Keddy, and Saskatchewan MP Maurice Vellacott. Keddy said that the unemployed in Nova Scotia were "those no-good bastards sitting on the sidewalk in Halifax that can't get work." Vellacott meanwhile derided women by saying in a November 20 anti-aboriton press release:

Pro-life feminists have...come to see abortion as part of a male agenda to have women more sexually available.

While Keddy made a decent gesture and apologized for his stupid comments, Vellacott hs thus far refused to apologize. He did though apologize this week for a political flyer which incorrectly accused Nova Scotia MP Peter Scoffer of backing the gun registry (and what exactly is wrong with registering guns?).

Keddy's comments are Canadians expect from a backward and mean-spirited party like the Conservatives, Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison said:

Nova Scotia Liberal MP Scott Brison said Keddy's remarks reflect the kind of mean-spirited attitude that Canadians have come to expect from the Conservative government.

This is from a Conservative party under Stephen Harper that has referred to Atlantic Canadians as being defeatist. This Conservative party has a deep vein of meanness to it. It's a party that kicks people when they are down.

Meanwhile, Winnipeg Liberal MP Anita Neville was spot on regarding Vellacott, saying that he has a:

...very right-wing, somewhat Neanderthal agenda. It's an insult to women in this country. It gives me great fear should they ever have a majority government.

And with a proportional representation electoral system, these clowns would never acheive a majority government. Yet we endure these jackasses with the first-past-the-post, winner takes all electoral system, which predates electricity.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Now here's something really different

So far I've sort of set a standard of merely political fodder for this blog cannon, however I'd like to include subjects that aren't necessarily political in nature, or rather of a partisan tone. Whether it's other news items, developments in science, technology, medicine, the environment, or other musings, they will be included.

Anyways, one topic of particular interest is the recent explosion of interest in, and acceptance of theoretical physics. Although this subject is finally beginning to appear in the mainstream news media (moreso in current affairs programming and European broadcasting), I feel it deserves much more wider and indepth coverage, as it is a truly groundbreaking and monumental discovery in the history of our species and civilization.

The following is a fascinating documentary from the BBC:

Scientists now believe there may really be a parallel universe - in fact, there may be an infinite number of parallel universes, and we just happen to live in one of them. These other universes contain space, time and strange forms of exotic matter. Some of them may even contain you, in a slightly different form. Astonishingly, scientists believe that these parallel universes exist less than one millimetre away from us. In fact, our gravity is just a weak signal leaking out of another universe into ours.

The same but different.

For years parallel universes were a staple of the Twilight Zone. Science fiction writers loved to speculate on the possible other universes which might exist. In one, they said, Elvis Presley might still be alive or in another the British Empire might still be going strong. Serious scientists dismissed all this speculation as absurd. But now it seems the speculation wasn't absurd enough. Parallel universes really do exist and they are much stranger than even the science fiction writers dared to imagine.


At a town hall meeting on November 14 held by Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski of Illinois, a group of teabagging idiots, who call themselves the "Chicago Tea Party Patriots", heckled and ridiculed a grieving copule and insinuated that they concocted their sad story.

Dan and Midge Hough shared at the meeting how they believed the lack of health insurance resuled in the death of their daughter-in-law and her unborn child. Twenty-four-year old Jennifer did not have insurance, and according to her in-laws, she was not receiving regular prenatal care and was not correctly treated when she became ill. Jennifer came down with double pneumonia which progressed into septic shock and ended up in an emergency room. She suffered a heart attack, her brain bled and had a stroke, which resulted in her baby dying and Jennifer passing a few weeks later.

Midge Hough was heckled by anti-reform crowd members and responded in tears:

You can laugh at me, that's okay. But I lost two people, and I know you think that's funny, that's okay.

On the green front

Now never in a million years would I recommend marijuana for children (although the pharmaceutical industry and their marketing departments seem to have their sights set on them), as I would pretty much equate it to giving alcohol to kids as well. I believe that marijuana, just like alcohol (at least in Canada), should be legal, taxed and regulated by the government, with an appropriate consumption age established.

But a California mother Mieko Hester-Perez, told the CBS Early Show that marijuana saved her autistic son's life. Her son, Joey, simply did not eat, had no interest in food and weighed a scary forty-eight pounds:

Everyone that came to my home was watching me watch Joey die. He was deteriorating hourly.

However, after four years of eating just peanut butter and jam sandwiches, Joey began eating marijuana brownies, which not only improved his appetite but his general well-being.

We're seeing Joey come out. He's never made noises, we didn't even know he could make noise until the first batch of brownies.

Other parents have claimed similar results, such as Marie Myung-Ok Lee's account in Slates' Double X blog from May.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported yesterday that support for legalizing marijuana is growing across the U.S. at a significant rate, and legendary American populist Jim Hightower recently wrote a very thoughtful column on the futility and foolishness of the war on marijuana.


At a recent Sarah Palin booksigning in Columbus, Ohio, several supporters were interviewed and asked just why they support Palin. Although they ardently championed her, those interviewed provided really vague insight and nothing of merit or substance. They either said that Palin was "fair", "strong", "real", and recited the usual over-used talking points such as cutting taxes and spending; that's what essentially qualifies Palin for the presidency. But it gets far worse than that. A lot of the answers are not only beyond ignorant but exemplify flat-out illiteracy. It's kind of embarrassing. Obama meanwhile was chastised for doing great harm to the country, but again no specifics were provided, other than amnesty for illegal aliens (which both George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan supported). One man did say that Obama's books outlined his Marxist beliefs.

Now I'm sure there are clueless Obama supporters out there, but they're not the ones screaming about "death panels" and believing every single lie emanating from Palin's Facebook page or Glenn Beck's insane ranting.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Maher on Behar

Once more I'm embedding a video from the Joy Behar Show. There have been some really good guests on her show, such as Bill Maher. In this interview, Maher discusses the insanity of Glenn Beck, the weaknesses of the Democratic Party, Obama being too nice and wanting the GOP to like him, slams Hollywood's support of Roman Polanski, and rising progressive star Alan Grayson.

A brief history of socialist plots

Matt Wuerker has been POLITICO's editorial cartoonist and illustrator since their launch. In 2009, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in editorial cartooning.

Over the past 25 years, his work has appeared in publications ranging from The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times to Smithsonian and the Nation, among many others.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What the hell is wrong with people?

A new billboard in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, displays the ugly racist underbelly and hatred for President Obama that is pervailing on the far right and amoung Christian fundamentalists (America's Taliban). The billboard implies, through a vile caricature of the president, that Obama is not only connected to the Fort Hood massacre, but also a foreigner and terrorist, morphing from his normal everyday appearance into that of a jihadist in Middle Eastern garb. Wolf Interstate Leasing was responsible for putting up the ad. One question: what the hell is wrong with these people?

Appearing on David Sirota's AM 760 morning radio show, the store's manager defended the billboard by alleging that the phrase "we are a Christian nation" appears in the Constitution. And? So? Oh right. Obama's not a Christian, he's a secret Muslim Marxist Nazi agent working from the inside to destroy America. This same idiot also recently commissioned billboards which read "Where's The Birth Certificate?" in regards to the preposterous conspiracy theories that Obama isn't an American citizen.

Orly Taitz, the attorney representing the so-called "birther movement", has had her cases dismised by several U.S. courts, with one judge saying that she is "wasting people's time" She's also made several appearances on cable television and made a complete ass out of herself, as she is clearly crazy and deluded. It's kind of difficult to watch the entire segment, or any interview with her, as she is incredibly annoying:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bill Moyers: We can't afford to escalate the war in Afghanistan

An extremely thoughtful and well said commentary from Moyers regarding America's seven year involvement in Afghanistan, in which he discusses the costs, parallels to Vietnam and Lyndon Johnson, and a new military draft to possibly discourage potential unnecessary wars of the future.

President of what?

I'm not particuarly crazy about embedding video from the show of a former panelist of The View, however Naomi Klein and Ann Marie Cox both recently appeared on The Joy Behar Show to discuss Sarah Palin, her gross ignorance, her economic policies which would benefit the elite and other disastrous right-wing platform planks, and her potential plans to seek the Republican Party nomination for president in 2012. Klein's analysis in particular is spot on. How can anyone at any second take her seriously? Sixty-six percent of Americans polled believe Palin should not run in 2012. Sixty percent think she is not qualified for the job, according to an ABC/Washington Post poll. A CNN poll found that seventy percent thinks she is not unqualified. And a CBS poll recorded that sixty-two percent of respondents feel she doesn't have what it takes to govern effectively.

A rape obsession?

Conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Michael Savage frequently employ rape metaphors when discussing progressives or progressive policies. For example, Beck said that New Yorkers are "being raped by [their] government," while Limbaugh, during a discussion of health care, told his listeners: "Get ready to get gang-raped again.

I think it boils down to a weird and disturbing strategy to merely (as they always do) go for the jugular.

Huckabee calls Republican attacks on Obama "shameful" and "deplorable"

Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called attacks on President Obama "shameful" and "deplorable", and feels that the president has been attacked on the most trivial grounds.

During a mid-November speech at the Hudson Union Soceity, Huckabee pointed out the shameful attacks on Obama, such as critcisms for visiting Dover Air Force base to pay respects to the coffins of soldiers.

When he [Barack Obama] was at Dover the other day, and went there to pay respect for soldiers, I heard a lot of people on the Right say "Aw, that's just a cheap photo-op." No, I think it was the Commander-in-Chief of our military paying respect to a dead soldier, and I'm grateful that he did that, and I was proud of him for doing that. And I think we all -- as Americans -- should give him credit for doing that. When he and Michele hosted the tricker-treaters on Halloween, quit finding something wrong with that. Say "Good, I'm glad that he and the First Lady are treating children to an experience at the White House." And I just find it deplorable that some people on my end of the aisle want to find everything wrong and nothing right about the man as a man.

Huckabee also said that these kinds of petty, relentless and knee-jerk criticisms were doing nothing to boster much needed civil debate:

I hated it when people did that to George Bush. They couldn't even laugh at the man's jokes they found something wrong with everything and if we do that to Barack Obama, then shame on us, shame on us. No wonder our country is so divided when that happens.

Despite being a hardcore Christian conservative and hardline positions, Huckabee is one of the more courteous, civil and friendlier members of the Republican Party. He is also not a favourite of the party establishment, as his Christianity is genuine in that he firmly believes the poor and disadvantaged should be assisted and cared for. GOP12, a conservative web site, pointed out that Huckabee's remarks came a day after Rush Limbaugh was on Fox News Sunday and denounced the president's visit to Dover.

Huckabee's remarks begin at approximately the twenty-five minute point:

Complicit in torture

The Conservative government has refused opposition calls for a public inquiry into Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin's allegations that Canadian soldiers handed over Afghan captives to resident torture chambers. The government's official line and/or talking point is that it is all based on lies from the Taliban.

Colvin sent seventeen secret messages to senior buereaucrats and army officers in Ottawa, Kabul and Kandahar throughout April 2006 to October 2007. He implied warnings regarding a renegade operative working at the Canadian embassy in Washington was responsible for Canada's "probably illegal" and unwarranted prisoner policy.

Colvin named six officials who knew about his accounts or were told about them. Lt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier, then the head of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces Command, and Gen. Rick Hillier, then the chief of defence staff, knew about Colvin's charges and at the time were two of Canada's top army officers. Colleen Swords, then the assistant deputy minister of foreign affairs, Margaret Bloodworth, then national security adviser to Harper, David Mulroney, then the head of Afghanistan Task Force, now ambassador to China, and Arif Lalani, Canada's ambassador to Afghanistan from April 2007 to September 2008, were also included by Colvin.

According to Colvin, Canadian officials were aware that "standard operating procedure" for Afghan officials included mistreating prisoners, regardless of their accused offence or intelligence value. They included Bloodworth and Mulroney. Colvin said in 2007 he was informed to start sharing his accounts of abuse in spoken word or on the phone telephone, as opposed to written reports so the media and others wouldn't learn more.

Colvin's associates said he is not sure what affect his testimony might have, however he concludes that he was speaking for several government associates who are discontent with the Afghan mission's administration. A colleague said Colvin believes that Canada response to Afghan dilemma was handled "with secrecy and dishonesty, and really messed up the mission. People were getting killed, Canadians and Afghans, and he just found that unacceptable."

The House of Commons committee's probe in which Colvin testified o Wednesday is beginning and dozens of witnesses have yet to give evidence. Maj. Cindy Tessier, a spokesperson for chief of defence staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk, said senior officers appearing next week will provide context and information regarding how prisoners were handled:

It is important to let the parliamentary process unfold and to consider and weigh the testimony of subsequent witnesses before drawing any conclusions about how events in Afghanistan may have unfolded in 2006 and 2007.

The Globe and Mail's Graeme Smith confirmed that Canadian forces turned over Afghan detainees to Afghanistan's secret police.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay was the foreign minister in Harper's Conservative government at the time and rejects Colvin's account, saying that they are baseless. Mackay attempted to ridicule him, but admitted in the House of Commons that an assessment to invest $132 million in mid-2007 to improve prison conditions in Kandahar was concluded partially on the Colvin's testimony. Mackay also varified several parts of Colvin's charges, including that Canada took more Taliban detainees than than the British and Dutch. He said Colvin's charges were only deemed sincere at the time, a year following his first report, because they were supported by "a number of sources".

The opposition pounced on this, stressing that Harper and senior ministers must have known about Colvin's information, and if so Canada would be complicit in toture and implicated in war crimes. Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae:

The fact of the matter is that if there was ever at any time a view that there was a serious risk of people being mistreated those prisoners should never have been transferred and such transfer is a breach of international law.

Liberal Defence Critic Ujjal Dosanjh:

Torture is a war crime. The fact is that this government has engaged in a massive cover-up, (to the) highest officials, the Prime Minister's own deputy minister, the Prime Minister's own national security adviser knew of the allegations of torture, knew of the cover up. One draws one's own conclusions.

In the House of Commons, Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe asked about Colvin being told to stop making his claims in writing was proof "the Prime Minister wanted to hide the whole affair because these were war crimes."

Wesley Wark, an intelligence expert at the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies, said in a pathetic attempt to defend the Harper government that while it may shock Canadians, they might have been trying to rein in a "renegade":

If the feeling was that Colvin was becoming...a pain in the ass in Afghanistan, reporting unsubstantiated stories that people back in Ottawa with other sources of information knew to be either incomplete or not true... there might have been good reason to do that.


Lawyers for human rights groups that have failed to defy Canadian detainee policies for two years said that government lawyers appear to have failed to follow the judge's orders to turn in documents that would have included Colvin's warnings to senior officials, and they are looking at whether to reopen those cases. They are also considering launching complaints against Canada before international tribunals which investigate violations of the Geneva Convention, including the United Nations Committee Against Torture, the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Rapporteur on Torture.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spitzer blasts Obama's economic policies

A debate between six policy experts was organized this week by Intelligence Squared in New York regarding the Obama administration's economic policies, and if they are working. Obama's thus far economic record was defended by Mark Zandi, co-founder and chief economist of Moody's, Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute, and Steven Rattner, investor and former "Car Czar". Those who argued the contrary were former governor of New York Eliot Spitzer, the University of Texas' James Galbraith, and Allan Meltzer of Carnegie Mellon.

Those who defended Obama said that the economy was brought back from the brink last year through the administration's policies, and that patience was needed in order for those policies to have their full effect. Mark Zandi referred to the measures as "successful, and cautioned against hasty financial regulatory reform:

The proposition is, "Obama's Economic Policies Are Working Effectively." It's not, they have worked. This is not a mission accomplished, no one is arguing that this is over and done with, we have more work to do, and the administration is still working...And more importantly and perhaps most importantly, we are working through some of the structural problems in our economy, working on the hard, difficult issues, the most obvious would be financial regulatory reform. Now this is something you don't want to do quickly, you don't want to make a mistake. Our financial regulatory structure has been in place since the Great Depression. It feels like it, and we have got to take time to make it right. So, in my view, what the administration has done has been highly successful.

Lawrence Mishel defended Obama by pointing out that deregulation played a very significant role in the financial meltdown and current economic climate:

But the question is, are you going to judge the Obama administration policy ineffective, because it hasn't corrected what I think is 30 years of generating inequality, false-hearted, silly deregulation and worshipping of markets where we shouldn't have done it that got us into this darn mess? I don't think that's quite appropriate.

Spitzer however pulled no punches and pointed out that Obama has not embraced the wide-ranging and thorough reform which is desperately required. He then added that there are similarities between the Bush and Obama administrations:

The fundamental error of this administration is that it is continuity. They have embraced the Bush Administration view that if you solve the problem of big banks everything else flows from that. They are wrong. Too big to fail is too big. They don't get it. The only two people I know who don't appreciate that are Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. Paul Volcker, Alan Greenspan, Henry Kaufman, Mervyn King -- every major academic has said, We must get rid of too big to fail.

Spitzer interviewed on the Rachel Maddow Show:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

They want him dead

Right-wing Christian hate has grown to such heights for President Barack Obama that a "Prayer for Obama Psalm 109:8" campaign has recently emerged, which includes the slogan on bumper stickers and t-shirts. Psalm 109:8 is a passage from the Old Testament that reads "Let his days be few; and let another take his office." Now, perhaps that might imply that they don't want to see him re-elected. However, the next verse, Psalm 109:9 reads "Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow." I can really see only one implied meaning there, that in its full context, it specifically addresses an unjust ruler and what the fate of that leader should be. There has been the relentless campaign to delegitimize Barack Obama as an American citizen, that he is a foreigner, an outsider with a radical agenda. Now, take this into consideration along with all of the far right-wing rhetoric of calling President Obama a socialist, communist, nazi, that he's just like Adolf Hitler, Stalin or Mao Tse-Tung and wants to destroy America. And of course protestors showing up at political events armed, including one in which Obama made an appearance. Newsmax columnist John L. Perry wrote about a military coup to replace Obama. And since Obama has taken office, death threats against the president have increased by four hundred percent. which is overwhelming the Secret Service.

Frank Schaeffer, a former member of the Christian right, appeared recently on the Rachel Maddow Show and warned against fundamentalist Christians wanting to harm President Obama:

A deal to keep world leaders talking about eventually doing something, maybe

A legally-binding agreement on climate change won't be concluded until the next U.N. summit meeting in Mexico City in 2010, White House aides announced on Sunday. An agreement with teeth has to be approved by the conclusion of 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol concludes. And with the news that a legally binding agreement would be impossible to reach at the upcoming Cophenhagen summit, President Barack Obama is now hanging out in China with President Hu Jintao, hammering out the details for a "broad interim accord" (non-binding lip service) which he believes will result in direct action and unite the globe to a climate change solution. Mr. Cynical and Mrs. Sarcasm were unavailable for comment.

Obama and Jintao did discuss a shared aspiration to address the climate crisis, however as usual, they were unable to address what either country can do to combat greenhouse gases and how the international community will muster hte billions required to address drastic climage change and increasing temperatures. This is the sticking point which is hindering a solid, legally-binding agreement. They did manage to release a joint statement, and that an agreement would "include emission reduction targets of developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries." Right.

Hu believes that developing countries such as China, Brazil and India should merely establish "goals" for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as opposed to absolute targets for decreasing emissions, just like industrialized nations are doing. Doesn't anyone have the political will to stand up and demand that absolute targets necessary?

The purpose of the meeting between Obama and Hu was allay fears after world leaders announced that a legally binding agreement would not be reached at the upcoming Copenhagen summit, and such an agreement would be pursued in 2010.

So Obama is trying to forge hope that a considerable agreement will be concluded which will keep discussions going. But Obama did say that he wants summit discussions to result in more than "an agreement to have an agreement".

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen has asked for hard numbers and statistics to be "on the table in Copenhagen" and any agreement should be "concrete and binding on countries committing to reach targets, to undertake actions, and to provide agreed finance." Now we're talking. For Obama, the summit's goal "is not a partial accord or a political declaration, but rather an accord that covers all of the issues in the negotiations, and one that has immediate operational effect."

Okay, so roll up your sleaves Mr. President and get cracking and lobby for every nation to accept absolute targets. He continued by saying that such an agreement "would be an important step forward in the effort to rally the world around a solution to our climate challenge."

Obama didn't expand on his remarks, however the U.N. and the European Union have proposed an annual subsidy of at least ten billion in the next three years to assist poor nations devise preparations to shift to low-carbon economies, to dwindle deforestation and accept emergency measures against climate change effects. Estimates from the United Nations found that an annual amount of $150 billion will be required by 2020 (que American right-wing heads exploding). A new agreement is intent to follow the Kyoto Protocol, that compelled emissions to be reduced by an average of five percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The 1997 protocol set no standards for developing nations, such as China. A new (and desired) agreement would compel developing nations to cut emissions, however plans to guarantee this in an agreement were not specified and what would result if any nation did not live up to their obligation.

The United States and China combined produce forty percent of all greenhouse gases, and a new study found that China was pracitally entirely responsible for the growth of emissions during the economic recession. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Geoscience, also found that global carbon emissions rose two percent last year.

Unless Obama has a plan up his sleave and can achieve a legally-binding agreement in Copenhagen, we'll have to wait for the Mexico City summit next year.

Yes, we are "interested" in a home children apology

Earlier this week, federal Immigration Minister and pompous jackass Jason Kenney said there was no need for the federal government to apologize to the descendents of impoverished British orphans, who were shipped to Canada and subjected to widespread abuse. Kenney elaborated that the matter concerns "British policy" and there are no Canadians asking for an apology.


Home Children Canada wants the federal government to follow the lead of Australia and Britain, and issue an apology. Sidney Baker, a spokesperson for the organization, replied to Kenney's remarks:

I'm very disappointed. We've got four million Canadians who are descendants of the home children and I think they deserve an apology for what their parents went through.

Baker said he can't comprehend why the federal government refuses to apologize, noting that Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently apologized for residential school abuse that Native Canadians suffered.

The program, which guaranteed a better life, started in 1869 and ended in 1939, although in 1948 the final influx arrived in Canada. Approximately 150,000 orphaned or abandoned children were shipped from Britain to Canada, as well as other British colonies, without the knowledge and approval of their parents. A greater majority of them (over one hundred thousand) likely arrived in Canada. Many children began work as labourers, and were abused both mentally and physically. Studies demonstrate that more than two-thirds of the children sent to Canada were mistreated.

Canadians first gained exposure to the program in 1895 when a young British worker died at an Ontario farm, just over half a year after arriving. In the early 1920s many home children committed suicide, which eventually resulted in the government outlawing charities shipping children under fourteen into the country.

According to Kenney, his support for a private member's bill to have 2010 designated as "the year of the home child", Canada Post preparing a commemorative stamp, and federal museums planning exhibits is adequate. He affirmed that the home children were not being snubbed, and that apologies for earlier wrong-doings should be made sparingly. Sparingly? What? Is is really that hard to apologize for children who were taken against their parents' will, shipped to a foreign country, forced into hard labour and abused?

Kenney's justification was that the abuse of home children hasn't been "on the radar screen here", as opposed to Australia.

The reality is that here in Canada we are taking measures to recognize that sad period, but there is, I think, limited public interest in official government apologies for everything that's ever been unfortunate or (a) tragic event in our history. And we've laid out some pretty clear criteria for where such apologies would be appropriate and on a limited basis.

Unbelievable. Right Jason, the criteria is pretty clear and although it might have been tragic or unfortunate, it's really no biggie.

Australia apologized Monday for the role it played in the abuse of home children. The British government also announced that a formal apology will be issued in 2010. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said:

We are sorry. Sorry that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where so often you were abused. Sorry for the physical suffering, the emotional starvation and the cold absence of love, of tenderness, of care. Sorry for the tragedy – the absolute tragedy – of childhoods lost.

Bill O'Reilly also had a moment

A few months back Bill O'Reilly demonstrated that he gets it, and gave a very practical answer to Nina Owcharenko of the Heritage Foundation:

But you know, I want that, Ms. Owcharenko. I want that. I want, not for personally for me, but for working Americans, to have a option, that if they don't like their health insurance, if it's too expensive, they can't afford it, if the government can cobble together a cheaper insurance policy that gives the same benefits, I see that as a plus for the folks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shephard Fairey, the hope guy

Video (embedding disabled)

With a one-of-a-kind style and keen eye for design, Shephard Fairey's unique approach to spreading art among the masses blended the worlds of pop culture and politics this past election cycle in a way no one could have ever predicted. His iconic "Hope" image of President Barack Obama became a national sensation, recently being dedicated in the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian.

Lindsey Graham has his moments

There's people in this country that are having a hard time reconciling with the fact that we have a black president.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is a conservative who is not always on good terms with the party's redneck base. While Graham predominantly holds socially conservative views, he occasionally speaks out and criticizes conservative positions. For instance, Graham supported nationalizing American banks. In 2000, Graham backed John McCain's presidential run, who hammered Bush and big "oil money". He also supported 2006's McCain-Kennedy Immigration Reform Bill, and the 2007 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, as Graham is a supporter of "comprehensive immigration reform". This position in particular earned him the scorn of the far right and the base, to which Graham replied:

We are going to solve this problem. We're not going to run people down. We're not going to scapegoat people. We're going to tell the bigots to shut up, and we're going to get this right.

Earlier this month, Graham expressed support for climate change legislation:

We will be working closely with the White House over the course of the next weeks with a few to try to pull together what ultimately could be presented to Senator Reid and the leadership as a piece of legislation that we hope could get the sixty votes necessary to pass or more, and we would hope it would be more.

Graham has also spoken out against Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the teabagging freaks: