Saturday, November 29, 2008


Don't usually get tagged with memes, but Adrian, The Atheist Blogger, tagged everyone who read his blog. So here it is.
  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 56.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the next seven sentences in your journal along with these instructions.
  5. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.
The closest book was an alphabet book that my daughter read six times today, because it has fuzzy bits and pop-ups. It doesn't have 56 pages. The next closest book was the one I'm reading: The Twilight Watch, by Sergei Lukyanenko. It's obviously translated from Russian, which is not usually not a problem, though some of the idiom gets a little clunky occasionally. It's the third in a series that began with The Night Watch, which was a good flick, and became a pretty good movie. You can actually watch it here.
Unless perhaps someone saw the letter posted three days ago. There's not much chance they'd remember, of course...

What a fool I was! I even slapped myself on the forehead. Sure, it's no disgrace for an Other to forget about modern technology, Others aren't very fond of complicated technical gizmos. But I was a computer hardware specialist.

All of the grounds of Assol were monitored by video cameras.
Not very revealing or indicative of the series as a whole.

As for tagging, I'm not gonna follow through. Feel free to call yourself tagged if you read this, have a blog, and get the urge.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Harper and Flaherty are flip-floppers.

Apparently, the Cons are not deaf to reason. They have reversed their stance on cutting funding to political parties.

I was wrong. It didn't work. It was recognized as a cheap ploy. This may have restored some faith in the voters of Canada.

My criticisms on the "economic update" still stand. As Rick Mercer put it, the Tory stimulus package will come:
  1. too late,
  2. way too late, or
  3. just in time for the next election.
We can blame Peter MacKay for this. He's the one that fed the Tories to the Neocons.

Retail therapy

Dalton McGuinty, much like the Dubya before him, has urged his constituents to hit the malls.
Many people are "feeling the pinch" during the current downturn and are worried about their jobs and savings, he acknowledged.

But if they refrain from buying holiday gifts, for example, they could "unwittingly" add to Ontario's economic troubles, McGuinty said.

"I know we've got to take steps at home and we've got to be prudent and we've got to be careful and that's understandable," he said after visiting a pharmaceutical firm in Pickering, east of Toronto.

"But if you don't buy that car -- even though you can actually afford it -- if you don't buy that fridge, if you don't shop at Christmas time, it can actually put us in a bit of a downward spiral."
Obviously, the opposition has some objections to this recommendation, particularly NDP leader Howard Hampton.

Opposition parties pounced on McGuinty's remarks as further evidence the premier is "out of touch" with ordinary people who fear they'll soon have to join the unemployment line.

The premier's advice is "just as crass and bizarre" as U.S. President George W. Bush telling Americans to "get out there and shop" after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, said NDP Leader Howard Hampton.

The criticism is hardly unwarranted, but it's also off-base. Under the current economic system, the only way to get out of a recession, or to slow the onset of one, is to spend. We need everyone rowing in the same direction, or growth stalls. The way we've got things wet up, a stall means a downturn. Growth, constant and without limits, is the only measure of economic stability, let alone success.

Hampton's right, in that people facing layoffs or pay cuts and rising interest rates need to keep their eyes on the future. But he's missing the bigger picture. McGuinty's advice, like Bush's after 9/11, is economically sound. What Hampton, and most of the rest of his critics, I'm sure, will miss, is that this recession is another symptom of a system that is fundamentally flawed.

Our current economic system is flawed in several key ways:
  • It relies on a prosperity gap that is untenable, and also unpleasant, so we've done our best to send poverty overseas, and have done a helluva job.
  • It fails to recognise the natural limits of a finite planet.
  • It has been artificially sustained for nearly two centuries, by government support, the distortion of the market by advertising, the ghettoization of two thirds of the planet, and the artificial savings granted by cheap petroleum.
Buying more shit will not fix any of that.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Democracy is bad for the economy.

Canada's elections are messy and expensive (and recently, pointless). They're nowhere near as messy, expensive and pointless as the last three US elections, but they're pretty bad.

For one thing, in the last election, we had twenty-one registered parties. Yeah. Twenty-one. One was a joke, but the argument has been made that they all are (there is some truth to that). In most ridings, the most you'll see is six or seven. But I'll bet there was a place in Canada where the ballot had two sides.

Our parties have also learned the worst possible lessons from elections in the past and in other locations. Treat the voter like mushrooms:
  • Our current leading party, the Cons, never once gave a coherent policy plank, intelligible election promise or pointed to a past success (except for a successful cut to the GST, which, while successfully cut, has not apparently had any effect on anything, except the operating capital of the government). At least, not while I was paying attention. The other parties were not much better, but the Cons were the worst. They ran on Stephane Dion's funny accent and carbon tax. They occasionally hinted that they had a plan to deal with the rapidly approaching economic clusterfuck, but they never told us what it was (still haven't).
  • The Liberals ran like they didn't really want to be there, and they were only killing time until they could scapegoat one intellectual idealist and replace him with either an intellectual or an idealist.
  • Jack Layton ran on Harper's pact with Satan. Steve is an evil guy (not like supernatural evil, but callous and vaguely sociopathic), and while I like to bash him, I like to temper my vitriol with an occasional suggestion.
  • The Bloc, while it has some interesting policies, also ran on Harper's pact with Satan. Unfortunately, they only run in Quebec, which is an odd thing for a national party to do. They'd probably fair pretty well in places like Newfoundland, where their entry into the Dominion was questionable, and New Brunswick, which also has a large francophone population.
  • The Greens ran on the Chicken Little platform spiced up with the Harper-Satan combo. I believe in the platform, and I believe that the sky is really falling, but unfortunately, we're easily dismissed, partially because if things are as bad as I fear, then we're probably fucked anyway, and sustainability is hard. And also probably because we aren't very good at the mudslinging.
What we had was a little over a month of insults, name-calling and bullshit, cleverly disguised by neckties (though Harper stayed away from the necktie, perhaps as a double-distraction), indignation, and resignation that politics has sunk so low in Canada. But what are you gonna do? Sex sells, but fear really moves product.

The thing is that spreading all these non-platforms, inciting all this fear and fostering all this paranoia costs money. So the government reimburses our parties for some of their expenses if they reach a certain threshold of votes, and they pay you $1.95/vote/year, so you can keep the machine going in order to fund your next round of vapid soundbites.

Last month we spent nearly $300 million on an election, winding up with a slightly strengthened Con party in charge (I have no fucking idea how, we just did.). We used airtime, nonrenewable resources, horrifying amounts of trees, and millions upon millions of volunteer hours and casual labour, and we are slightly worse off than we were before. The economy continues to flop about like a wounded animal,and we still have no real plan to deal with that. However, it's time to tighten our belts, people.

Let's cut out that stipend to the parties.

It'll save nearly $30 million.

The Cons pissed away the surplus that they were left with three years ago by the Liberals. So we can't increase government spending without going into a deficit, which, as we have seen in countless instances around the world, conservatives just don't do. There are billions of dollars going to Bay Street and billions of dollars in loans going to automakers (maybe). There are billions of dollars in corporate welfare, and lots and lots of tax refunds for oil companies, but the electoral process really needs to tighten up.

You may be losing your job while CEOs eat caviar off of $1000/night call girls. You may be losing your pensions while upper management collects bonuses the size of lottery jackpots. You may be losing your car while cabinet ministers have a limo and driver. You may be losing your house while banks record slightly less than record breaking profits. But don't worry, those asshole politicians are losing their gravy train. That's right, no more fat in the electoral process.

Set aside that this is petty and shitty for a minute. Try to forget that Finance Minister Flaherty is the man who constantly reassured Ontario that he could cut taxes, increase spending and balance the budget. Ignore for a minute that on paper this hurts the Cons most because theys stand to lose the most. I don't even want to talk about how anti-democratic this is.

I want you to focus on the fact that this is blatantly political, an obvious cheap shot, and deeply, deeply cynical.

The Cons have no plan for recovery. To those of us paying attention, Flaherty has no credibility as a finance minister. They have no wiggle room, having spent it all. Their ideology has just proven to be corrosive to the economic system they claim to worship. They just lost their best friend next door. They bet they could win an election before we copped to the recession, but we were paying attention (though they did win). Our resource-based economy, which is supposed to be sort of recession-proof, starts to stutter when demand for resources declines. Canadians are a little more choosy with out boogey-men, too, so you can't blame the gays or the atheists for this one. But you know who you can blame? The one group that everyone in Canada distrusts, dislikes and disapproves of? I mean, besides Americans?

Politicians. Those evil, nasty, parasitic politicians.

A recurring theme on this blog is my constant incredulity. I can't believe the gullibility of the electorate. I can't believe the chutzpah of the neocons. I can't believe the hypocrisy of those on the religious right. I can't believe the resistance of the general population to the changes that are necessary.

And here, I can't believe the sheer ballsiness of a politician implying that politicians are to blame for this mess. They are, of course, partly responsible, but it takes a special kind of balls to come right out and say it, even though he isn't really. And I can't believe that he thinks it'll work.

I also can't believe that it probably will.

He's not saying this is flawed economic policy. He's not saying it's a flawed tax system. He's not saying it's a symptom of deeper societal problems. He's not even saying that the idiots who persisted in making shitty products or approving shitty loans or creating money out of nothing are at fault. He's not saying that rebates and incentives enabled those idiots to ignore market realities.

He's implying that it's the electoral system that is at fault, and the elected (and unelected) need to pay for it. And many voters are gonna buy it.

The electoral system is deeply flawed. The party system is deply flawed. The election funding rules are deeply flawed. There are ways to fix this. Maybe. I don't think this is it. This simply cuts off small parties, and will wither many of them away. This will destroy the Liberal Party (probably the real motive). This will hamper the NDP and the Bloc (also nice perks).

This will not stimulate the economy. This will do nothing to prevent the next recession. This will not broaden our economy, to make it more recession-proof. This will not prevent one forclosure, one job loss, one trip to the food bank, or one stress-induced heart attack or stroke, or one fight over the dinner table.

It's obvious, it's cheap and it's transparent.

It'll probably work.

Monday, November 24, 2008


There are intelligent conservatives. There must be. I mean, they write books, they own the media, and they're in charge. So they've got to have something upstairs. However, I look at commentary on politics and economics by conservatives and it is very clearly at odds with everything: history, recent history, current economic realities, and even common sense. I try very hard to understand where they're coming from, but I just can't do it.

There are a couple of conclusions that can be drawn from their opinions. One, they are insane: schizophrenic in the sense that they are detached from reality, and live in a fantasy world where corporations act in the best interests of everyone and nothing is provided by the government. Two, they are not as smart as I'm giving them credit for. They are just really, really lucky. Or three, and this is most likely, they are lying. All the time. About everything. They don't believe the things they say they do, they don't read the stuff they say they read, and they don't actually behave in the way they want us to think they do.

I've found evidence for this all over the place. My last two blog posts are about this very phenomenon. I've got a new one, courtesy of our friends over at Christian Worldview Network, written by Shawn Akers. This is a fine specimen, not only at odds with reality, but internally inconsistent as well. Entitled "Donkeys, RINOs and PUMAs, Oh My! Can We Please Be Conservative Again?", it starts with the standard paranoiac bullshit about liberals owning everything: the media (hah!), the schools, the courts, Public Radio (really, they say this like it means something), and the respect and admiration of other nations.

It's a funny thing with conservatives in America. They don't give a shit what you think unless you agree with a liberal, and then you're a commie, a socialist, a totalitarian or European.

It doesn't take long before Akers starts actually dismissing reality, as opposed to simply misrepresenting it:
And then there are the rarest creatures of them all, those elusive phantoms, the genuine Republican elephants, who stare incredulously into the hollow eyes of the great grey beasts that have overtaken their party and ask – “hey, who invited the RINOs, and where did they get those fake trunks?” It seems that only now the true conservative Republicans are beginning to realize that while they slept, they lost their souls. Indeed, they can scarcely call themselves “conservative” anymore, because there is very little left to conserve.
The religious right co-opted the Republican Party (or was rather co-opted by) in the 1980s. Before that, they were more libertarian than conservative, and while they disagreed with the Dems on several things, there were no great rifts in beliefs. So who do you think Akers is talking about when he talks about "genuine Republican elephants"? Oddly enough, elephants are supposed to have long memories. And I've written in the past about "conservative" being a misnomer, because they don't stand for the conservation of anything worth conserving.
In practice, there is very little left of the founding principles. The Founders simply would not recognize the eternally-evolving ethereal cacophony of politically correct juris-imprudence that the left now calls the Constitution. One can imagine the disbelieving reply of a Signer of the Constitution: “A fundamental right to brutally take the life of an unborn child? . . . A fundamental right to have the state steal from one citizen to give to another? . . . The ability to tax a church into oblivion if it dares speak out against a political candidate? . . .The power to force the removal of the Ten Commandments from the public square? . . . What?. . . In the Constitution we wrote?. . . Heaven forbid!”
Again, Akers is not reading from the same play book as the rest of us. The Constitution actually contains instructions for changing it. The founding fathers (who have become as mythical as god himself) knew that the document they were writing would not be relevant for all time. So they made allowances for it to evolve. The questions he imagines the founders asking are ridiculous. And again, I cannot fathom how abortion rights are the most important issue facing the US right now. Your priorities are skewed badly if that's your number one issue.
Whatever is left of the Constitution, there is even less left of traditional morality. Indeed, in a mere forty years, the ideological fires of Haight Ashbury have melted down every communication of objective morality into prima fascia evidence of “hate speech.” Sexual misconduct between people of different genders is glamorized through every medium of entertainment. Sexual misconduct between people of the same gender is not only tolerated but is increasingly celebrated by society and sanctioned by governments. And, if you do not like the gender God assigned you, you can always disagree with Him and decide to be the other gender or some combination of the two; increasingly, the law will accommodate.
The traditional morality thing really chaps my ass, though. Traditional morality required forced conversions, allowed slavery, allowed lynching, forced women to stay home, denied them the vote, and allowed white folks to kill every other colour at will. It's called progress for a reason. There's also the whole issue that morality is concerned only with sex. I still can't understand why conservatives are so interested in other people's genitalia.
Likewise, there is certainly little or nothing left of the limited government and financial stewardship that conservatives have so vocally championed. In recent years, Republicans have spent public funds at a rate to be envied by even the most indulgent Democrats. They seem to have forgotten that the monstrosity of government bureaucracy can swing the socializing hammer of nationalization as effectively through disingenuous bailouts as it can through the direct theft of private property. To the outside observer, it would appear in many ways that we are all Democrats now – fighting merely over whose unstable positive law will rule the day and which special interests will reap the stolen fruits of redistributed property.
Akers begins well enough here, but again can't remember what happened less than 20 years ago. Clinton ran surpluses, Reagan and the Bushes ran deficits. It's clear to most people that democrats are more prudent fiscally than the GOP. Except this guy. And he seems to equate "Democrat" with "Communist", which is no surprise, but is still inexplicable. And I don't understand how giving all the money on the planet to corporations and to an infinitesmally small segment of the population is "Socialist". Again, Akers is ignoring reality. I have no idea how they get away with it.
The appearance is misleading, however, as the core of America remains open to reason.
If this is true, then Akers' days are numbered, but I'm not holding my breath.
Up until the very day they painted the map blue, even Democrats would admit that America is a center-right country. The one thing the American People will not tolerate when choosing leaders, however, is cowardice. Increasingly, leaders are elected when they unapologetically stand for something greater than themselves – even if the electorate does not necessarily agree with their positions. Why else would a nation that overwhelmingly favors protecting traditional marriage between one man and one woman elect a president who impenitently supports the “gay” agenda?
I don't even know what this means. But cowardice can mean a lot of things, like sending thousands of people to get killed, and not having the balls to do it yourself. Cowardice is also the inability to admit you made a mistake. Cowardice is caving to your friends when they're trying to get you to do something stupid. Cowardice is doing what is easy rather than doing what is right. Cowardice is making your children pay for your SUV, your war and your brand new bureacracies. Cowardice, in many ways, well describes Dubya's performance in the White House.

But the best is yet to come:
If it is to remain relevant, much less experience a renaissance, the Republican Party must become the new progressive.
Progressive is the opposite of what Akers wants. He makes me think of Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means."
It must shelve its clever electoral strategies and muster the courage to be faithful to its principles even if polling data says to lie, or at least equivocate. It must decide what it believes and unapologetically speak the truth with compassion. It must apply its principles impartially, governing itself before attempting to fix the other party. If it is going to lead, it must lead – and lead the nation not to where it has been but to the blessings of liberty found only when government limits itself to its original purpose: securing the unalienable Rights that the Creator has granted to each and every person.
And that finally is what made me annoyed enough to write this. Akers is a lying bigoted motherfucker who wants to take rights away from people, and he claims to be protecting human rights. I am utterly gobsmacked by the inability of some people to see their own duplicity.
If it leads in this way, the people, hungry for the mature substance of truth rather than the superficial sweetness of socialist confections, will follow. If not, it will fail because conservative counterfeits will never be as attractive as utopian lies.
Akers and people like him have no respect for you, your intellect or your rights. They have rewritten history to cast progressives in the role of villains. They hide their prejudices behind a mythological being, and they ignore the consequences of their own actions. They are destructive, dangerous frauds.

The persistence of idiocy.

There is some speculation that Stephen Harper might use the economic downturn to fog over some ideologically driven cuts to government spending. These fears are not baseless: Harper has already axed a National Portrait Gallery, and during the election, he said some nasty and untrue things about artists. It's also no secret that the Tories hate the CBC, because they think it demonizes them. The fact that they're evil is what demonizes them.

So I read in the paper that the Liberals and the NDP fear the worst. Cuts to CBC funding is the most obvious example, but apparently, the Conservatives also want to privatize Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd.

However, one paragraph stuck in my mind this morning, even as I read it through a mild pot-Grey Cup hangover:
"I'm hopeful there will be some ideologically-driven, neo-conservative cuts to government," political scientist Tom Flanagan, a former chief of staff to Harper, said in an interview.
I am, I fear, a foolishly optimistic person, because I am constantly surprised by the dishonesty and denial of those on the right. As the grand economic engine belches smoke and grinds to a halt, in no small part because of neo-conservative doctrines of deregulation and small, grotesquely expensive government, there are still men who want to see more of the same. This guy is a political scientist, so apparently he is supposed to be paying attention, and he appears to have missed most of the last eight years (or much, much longer, depending where you live).

Neoconservatism has destroyed much of South America. It shattered the dreams of the emerging South Africa. It consistently strips people of their rights, nations of their resources, and governments of their independence. It is an essentially racist doctrine, saying that Africans, Latinos and Asians must subsidize the North American way of life. Having gained a toehold in the US, it soon brought the financial system down. Getting a moderate endorsement up here in Canada, it resulted in tainted lunchmeat and the deaths of several people.

It is a bust, but men like Flanagan keep hoping to see it work. There are many shortcomings of conservative philosophy, but it's persistence in the face of reality is what is most discouraging.

Bizarro economics

If I ever get my shit together and go back to school, I think I'll study economics. Probably not as my major, but would definitely take a few classes. The problem is that I'd probably fail them. Economic theory seems really fucking stupid to me.

I was reading the local fishwrap today, and came across an article in the back of the business section. I'll link to it, though I don't know how long the link'll stay live. My paper tends to archive stuff after a week, and then makes you pay for access. The story's on AP, so there's a good chance that it'll lurk around somewhere on the net.

The story itself is about how tough economic times are causing people to tighten their belts. I'll say it for you: "Duh!" Interesting reading nonetheless.

Frugality is making a comeback.

Fearful that economic conditions could get worse and stay that way, Americans are showing an enthusiasm for thriftiness not seen in decades.

This behavioural shift isn't simply about spending less. The New Frugality emphasizes stretching every dollar. It means bypassing the fashion mall for the discount chain store, buying second-hand clothes and furniture or trading down to store brands.

No surprises. This makes perfect sense. And in fact, it's probably better for people as a whole, in addition to the planet. Rampant consumerism is not just wasteful, it's actually immoral, and it's really about fucking time we stopped basing our economy around the consumption of stuff.

Not long ago, yoga teacher Gisele Sanders shopped at the Nordstrom's in Portland, Ore., and didn't think twice about dropping US$30 for a bottle of Chianti to go with dinner. That was before her husband, a real estate agent, began to feel the brunt of slowing home sales.

Now Sanders, 53, picks up grocery-store wine at $10 or less per bottle, shops for used clothes and plans to take her mother's advice about turning down the thermostat during winter.

"It's been a long time coming," she said. "We were so off the charts before."

The whole yoga teacher thing is fascinating. Yoga, as you know, is ancient Hindu meditation, coupled with physical exercise. The idea, as far as I understand it, is to centre your mind i nyour body, and achieve inner harmony. Contrast this with the idea of consumer culture, where you ignore your mind and simply work toward gratification. Obviously this woman missed a class somewhere. But what's more astonishing to me is that she recognizes the shallow and wasteful aspects of her previous existence, and didn't shoose to do anything about it until the bottom fell out of the yoga market.

The causes of this recession are myriad and complicated, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that part of the problem is that we have reached the carrying capacity of the planet. The economy must grow, you see, in order to be healthy. The problem is that there's no way for traditional econmic thinking to recognize the limits of expansion. Quite simply, if we continue to use the traditional paradigm, we're quite fucked. The next paragraph is an excellent example:

That kind of scrimping may be good for stressed family budgets, but it's bad for the overall economy in the United States -- and that has the potential to reinforce the miserly mood. Yet with home prices, retirement accounts and job stability suffering, such frugality is likely to be more than a fad.
Get that? Reasonable and rational behaviour is bad for the economy. The problem is that as people have less, they spend less. That means the economy shrink even further, and more people have even less. It's a positive feedback loop, though there's nothing positive about it.

Looking at it another way is even more depressing, but here it is. A man who's third marriage is failing, who drinks too much and takes way too much medication, who drinks and drives, who smokes, and who indulges every whim of his mistress and his children is just awesome for the economy:

  • His divorce requires lawyers.
  • His alcoholism provides funds for distillers and brewers, servers and retail outlets.
  • When he drinks and drives, he gets into accidents, which helps out body shops and mechanics, and provides work for medical personnel.
  • If he really smashes up his car, he gets a new one, which is good for auto manufacturers and retailers.
  • His insurance premuiums go up, which is great for the insurance company.
  • The accidents emply more lawyers.
  • His high blood pressure and depression provide income for pharmacists and drug companies.
  • The video games he buys for his son keep programmers and retailers humming.
  • And the imported food is great for oil companies, trasportation firms and more retailers.
Someone who shops at a thirft store, bikes to work, has a stable, happy family life, and shops locally for his food is a real drag on the economy.

See? It's fucked. We're all right fucked. Doing the right thing is bad for everyone. That's why, after 9/11, Americans were told to go out and shop. They were also fed a bunch of horseshit about duct tape, plastic film and bottled water. Terrorism is bad for the economy. When morale gets low, so does the GNP. Fear, however, is good for the economy. People drink more and take more drugs. They watch more movies. They consume more news. They indulge a little. Fear moves dollars.

In some ways, I'm hoping for a complete economic collapse. The current model is unjust: it collects wealth, despite what neocons would have you believe. It's unsustainable: it requires the consumption of non-renewable resources. It's idiotic: saving costs more in the long run. And it's immoral: it causes wars for resources, sweat shop labour, and other human rights abuses.

I'd definitely flunk out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The nipple heard 'round the world

Everybody knows about Janet Jackson's nipple. It was huge. Not the nipple, but the incident. I knew as soon as I saw it I knew that the nipple would be the most important part of the game. In fact, I have a hard time remembering who was even playing. But I remember that breast.

In case you don't, here's the clip. I'll embed it, because I want Janet Jackson's breast on my blog. The money shot comes at 1:19, so if you don't want to listen to Justin, you can just get to the point.

I bring this up because I noticed something tonight. I was watching a retro dance video show, and I saw a pretty cool video that I had all but forgotten, and I remembered that the Superbowl was actually the second time Janet's right nipple had caused a stir. Here's the offending video, which, seen from the distance of a decade, is still pretty cool and I dig the choreography.

The song is "Together Again". At about 3:20, the video shows Janet singing in front of a tree while another woman embraces her. That woman's hand is on Janet's right breast. Then there's a cut away, and at 3:35, the video cuts back to the two women, and Janet's breast is exposed. When I first saw it, I saw the nipple, and noted it for two reasons. One, the other woman's hand had moved, and two, Janet's hot.

The version you see now is airbrushed, as it was shortly after the initial airing. The FCC seems to be very very preoccupied with Janet's nipple.

Consequently, so am I.

A house divided...

In a strange way, I'm finding the aftermath of the US election almost as interesting as the election itself. Moreso, in some ways, because I can't predict how this is going to turn out.

Alongside the euphoria and delirium that comes with electing a black man to the nation's highest office, comes the hate, fear and ugliness that has spread across the nation, and can be summed up quite simply:

In North Carolina, four students at the state university admitted writing anti-Obama comments in a tunnel designated for free speech expression, including one that said: "Let's shoot that (N-word) in the head." (via Alternet)

But the cavalcade of nasty doesn't stop there, kittens. Alongside the groundbreaking dismissal of racism was the ringing endorsement of homophobia. It was a sight to see, and the backlash has managed to more deeply entrench the culture wars.

There's a lot out there, but I think I'll show some balls and call out Chuck Norris. His article at Town Hall lists a long series of stupid, short-sighted, foolish, wrong and unacceptable attacks on people of faith who supported Prop. 8. Many have been independently corroborated, and so I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. Gay rights supporters are being shitheads. Your shitheadedness is not helping, and it's also wrong. Get your shit together and fight this fight with words, kindness and ideas.

Having said that, Chuckie goes off the rails:

There were many of us who passionately opposed Obama, but you don't see us protesting in the streets or crying "unfair." Rather, we are submitting to a democratic process and now asking how we can support "our" president. Just because we don't like the election outcome doesn't give us the right to bully those who oppose us. In other words, if democracy doesn't tip our direction, we don't swing to anarchy. That would be like the Wild West, the resurrection of which seems to be happening in these postelection protests.

Bullshit, dude. See the previous link, you hypocritical asshole.

I agree with Prison Fellowship's founder, Chuck Colson, who wrote: "This is an outrage. What hypocrisy from those who spend all of their time preaching tolerance to the rest of us! How dare they threaten and attack political opponents? We live in a democratic country, not a banana republic ruled by thugs."

Regardless of one's opinion of Proposition 8, it is flat-out wrong and un-American to intimidate and harass individuals, churches and businesses that are guilty of nothing more than participating in the democratic process. Political protests are one thing, but when old-fashioned bullying techniques are used that restrict voting liberties and even prompt fear of safety, activists have crossed a line. There is a difference between respectfully advocating one's civil rights and demanding public endorsement of what many still consider to be unnatural sexual behavior through cruel coercion and repression tactics.
Funny thing, here, and I didn't even notice it on the first readthrough. Chuck recognizes that the activists seek civil rights, and he still doesn't think they should have them. I think he needs a better toupee. This one is cutting off the oxygen to his brain

How fucked up and hateful do you have to be to recognize that these people have the right to marry, and you get to deny it because buttsex is icky? There's also the delightful inability to see the inconsistency that while being mean to Christians is wrong, being mean to fags is Kool & The Gang. I also like that Christians are crying foul at the use of boycotts to draw attention to those who supported this ugly piece of business. "It's just not fair! People could lose their jobs!" To which I say, suck it up, Princess, pun absofuckinlutely intended.

I posted this on facebook, and a friend of mine lit into me. He's from Canada, I remind you.
GIVE ME A BREAK. They have human rights!!! Marriage is a religious union which most (Not all) of these protesters reject. They have a right to civil unions and all the rights of any other couples in that state, adoption, sharing of medical benefits. Their are hate laws in place to punish those who harm or hurt someone due to their sexual orientation. Just because someone does not agree with Homosexuality does not mean that they hate them and you calling anyone who disagrees with Homosexuality a Homophobe is no different or less bigoted than someone who disagrees with Homosexuality calling a gay person a fag! There are extremists in both camps but everyone should have the right to their opinion without being called names! Their struggle for what they believe to be their rights?!?! is no where near the struggle of Black Americans and likening the two is ludicrous and shallow. Gay activist should apologize to the Black community for diminishing their struggle.
This is how I responded. I don't know if he's read it, and I had to spread it over three posts, because I got all wordy:
Chris, there is are two fundamental issues I have with your argument, and they can be dealt with pretty quickly.

First, marriage is NOT necessarily a religious union. Though I did get married in a church, it wasn't legal until the Province said it was. That piece of paper, not some words said by some guy who has never been married and is not allowed to marry, said in the name of some guy who supposedly never married, is what makes me married. The state decides who gets married, not the church, the synagogue, mosque, temple or whatever.

Secondly, there are VERY clear parallels between gay marriage bans and interracial marriage bans. There is a direct link between racism and homophobia. Quite simply, blacks don't choose to be black, and gays don't choose to be gay. Do you remember when you decided to be straight? Honestly, who would choose to be a second class citizen, denied the right to live in security with the person you love, to be threatened, hated, feared,
insulted and attacked? What is particularly bad is that in California, gays had a right STRIPPED from them. They were able to marry, and then they weren't. And I think any marriages performed in California were annulled.

Homophobia, like racism, need not be overt to exist. Simply saying that they're different, not like us, and do not have the same rights as us is discriminatory. You can call what they do a sin all you want. You can say that god thinks they're an abomination. That's your right. I have the right to say that you're hiding your prejudice behind your god. Free speech swings both ways. And my calling those who would withhold the rights of others bigots is not the same as someone calling someone a fag. You can change your opinions, but not your sexual orientation. I insult your ideas, not you.

And they do have human rights. Rights which have been stripped in California, and are not recognized in most of the rest of the Union. Rights that have been withheld for religious reasons.

Religion was used to justify slavery. It was used to justify religious wars. It was used to deny women the right to vote. It was used to justify miscegenation laws. And it is used to justify the denial of the right to marry the person you love.

Quite simply, my brother would be a second class citizen in the US, because of something he can't change. It is not exactly like the Jim Crow laws, but only because homosexuals weren't forcibly relocated to be farm animals. Civil unions are "separate but equal".

Sorry, dude. It is bigotry. I'm glad we don't have it here in Canada.
Congratulations on your black president, US. Good luck with the rest of your prejudices.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An atheist's chance in hell

If you've followed the blog and payed attention, then you probably know that I used to be politically active and was a candidate in the last provincial election. If you've never had the pleasure of running for public office, let me say this: it is a 35-day job interview (at least in Canada, where we're sensible about these things. I just watched a 20-month orgy of narcissism and pointlessness not 200km south of here).

Really, just like a job interview, there are standard questions (What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?), a panel of reviewers, a job on the line, and competition that you probably recognize (depending on the job you're pursuing). It's also exhausting, and given enough time, you eventually say something damning.

As an aside, here's some free job interview advice (though you may not want to take it; I've been to a LOT of interviews, which says something about my skill, maybe): answer the question and shut the hell up.

But back to the anecdote. At about day 22, I started feeling frisky. I was sick of talking points and euphemisms. I didn't want to say "carbon tax" any more. I didn't want to tell people about peak oil. I was sick of being called a moonbat. I was sick of being told that I had done very well explaining the platform, and that I was a smart young man, and that they believed in what I stood for, but wouldn't be voting for me. (I ran as a Green.)

There's a funny little anachronism in Canada's constitution. It guarantees Protestant and Catholic education in all provinces (now except Quebec & Newfoundland). Protestant can now be read "public", but Catholic remains enshrined. It's funny in that it costs Ontario about half a billion dollars a year to run a second school system, and it's an anachronism in that it clearly doesn't reflect the realities of the province. About a third of the province is Catholic, making them easily the largest religious group in Ontario, but still a vocal minority. It was likely political suicide, but the Green Party recognizes that a dual school system is unsustainable and discriminatory, and included in the platform a planto eliminate publicly-funded Catholic education in Ontario. The Tories went the other way and offered to fund EVERYBODY, in the issue of fairness. Both plans are fair (certainly fairer than the current system), but ours is cheaper, easier and inherently more fair.*

As I said, possibly political suicide. But here's the thing. As I got more exhausted, more familiar with our platform and the platforms of the other candidates, more bored with the same old bullshit, and more annoyed at the average Ontario voter, I started saying some crazy things. It was about day 22 that I came out publicly, at a debate, in front of an audience (at a university, to be fair, so a relatively safe environment), and said that I was an atheist.

Did it actually hurt my chances at winning? I don't know. The odds were long to begin with (Green Party, for crying out loud!), but I suspect that declaring my godlessness without shame, without fear and without deferring to the deluded majority cost me votes.

There's no way to track it, and atheism is not the root of all evil in Canada like it is down below, but there's still some ill-will.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ray Comfort via Christian Worldview Network

We all know that Comfort is a wackaloon, a fraud, and kind of an in-joke. I wonder if any actual RTCs (with a PTGHWAC to Slacktivist and the LB saga of horribleness) actually listen to and believe him. He get play on like three websites, all hosted by crazy folk who believe things like a 6000 year old earth and dinosaurs on the ark.

He's at it again with the good folks at Christian Worldview Network, reposted from his blog. Here's a few choice bits.

3. God creates the moon as a light, but we know it is not a light.

We are aware that it merely reflects the sun's light, but it is a light that shines at night, as the Bible says. Haven't you heard of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata?

Shazamm!, bitches. Bet you didn't know that I was gonna cite Beethoven on you, didja? Snap! Air-fucking-tight!

5. God creates the Earth before the Sun, what gravitational field is the Earth sitting in?

Every planetary body (including the Earth) is surrounded by its own gravitational field, which exerts an attractive force on all objects. God created gravity, and He holds all things together by His own power (see Colossians 1:17).

Kind of a nonsense question, and Ray responds in kind. He also neglects to mention that every object has gravity, including my pancreas (the relevant bit begins at 2:11).

6. God creates things in three days with "evening and morning" yet in order to have an evening and morning it relies on the Earth to rotate and the light source to come from a point, but God is everywhere.

God created every law of nature, and He is not bound by His own creation. He has power over thunder, lightning, earthquakes, the sun, and the wind, and even over you will eventually find out.

Don't come at me with your "logics" and "arguments", you, you, thinker, you. God is not bound by your puny "reasoning".

And there, once again, is why we are wasting our time on both sides. But it keeps us busy, don't it?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sporadic posting is the hallmark of a fulfilled life

Actually, the title of this post is bullshit. In fact, I am not posting because I cannot seem to get my shit together. It should have been prime time for me. A Canadian election, a US election, a few byelections here, and the fact that the world economy is swirling around the last few times before hitting the septic tank. I should be in my glory. I should be pontificating and punditing until I get callouses on the "shift" places on my fingertips. I should be able to alternate between masturbating to porn and the latest wingnuttery from the religious right. I should be in ecstasy all the time with the fodder that is thrown our way.

But alas, it does not work that way, I'm afraid. And so to the few subscribers that I had and lost, and to the few who elected to hang onto me for a while, I apologise. I'm going to get my shit together and rail against the universe at least four times a week, now, and look towards posting daily once again.

The problem is this: As gratifying as it is to point out just how ludicrous a person's point of view is on my blog, it isn't actually accomplishing anything. Aside from an occasional troll who's only here to get confirmation that us moonbats are in fact batty, there are few people who ever read this blog, I suspect, who thought my opinions differed greatly from theirs. And while it's nice to have your prejudices confirmed, it's not a particularly useful exercise.

And I couldn't shake the feeling that I simply wasn't doing enough. Despite the fact that the world is getting worse daily, I am powerless to really stop it. And blogging was enabling me to not do anything. I was able to convince myself that I was doing at least something, but blah blah blah. This is all self-justifying bullshit.

I'm depressed. Things are bad, and are about to get worse. I'm one of those guys who loses motivation when depressed. I'm scaterbrained. My shrink thinks I'm ADD, and always have been. It's possible, but now I have to deal with the fact that I'm liable to be medicated my whole life. There are philosophical reasons to avoid it: I honestly believe that ADD is a suitable adaptation to trying to keep track of information in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. When you're a smart guy (as I fancy I am), the amount of knowledge you need to be able to marshal is staggering. So ADD is a suitable compensation. As for the depression, if you're not depressed, it's because you're not paying attention.

So I'm back, anyway, if only because I've started spouting crazy theories again, and it'll be good to be able to record them. I've also started writing some of this shit down again. the two previous posts were on my facebook profile before they arrived here. They were studiously avoided by my friends. I plan on getting increasingly crackpotty over there, just as an experiment. How much will my more marginal friends tolerate? Enquiring minds want to know.

So I'm back, for what it's worth. I've missed this. And I've missed you, loyal reader, if in fact you're still there.

Stay tuned for crazy Obama theories and recommendations, and further commentary on the bigotry of the world at large!

Friday, November 14, 2008

On venom and rhetorical weakness.

One of the things that astonishes me most about the people on the other end of the political spectrum is their venom. Of course, I don't mean everyone with rightist leanings, though to call myself a “leftie” is kind of a misnomer as well, but some of those who self-identify as conservatives are really hateful people.

Again, I don't want to paint everyone with the same brush. An aversion to generalizations and stereotyping are one of the things that makes me more likely to align with liberals. However, aside from what's called Godwin's Law, those who value freedom and compassion are less likely to resort to finger pointing and name-calling. However, the more intractable and traditional a liberal's opponent, the more likely they are to resort to “Hitlering”, and far sooner than one might expect.

There are numerous examples, of course. I can name a dozen hateful right wingers without straining myself:

1.Rush Limbaugh
2.Michael Savage
3.Ann Coulter
4.Jerry Falwell
5.Brannon Howse
6.Sarah Palin
7.Glenn Beck
8.Bill O'Reilly
9.Sean Hannity
10.Laura Schlessinger
11.Michael Coren
12.Ted Haggard
13.Dick Cheney

And I could keep going, (I've got at least three more), but the point is this. I can't think of a liberal who is as hateful, as violent, as rabid, as slavering, as just plain mean as any one of these people. Honestly. The most vehement advocates for social justice, for conservation, for sustainability, for compassion or for human rights are not nearly as violent as the equivalent commentators on the right. Even Greenpeace, while engaging in questionable actions in the name of the environment, are more moderate in their speech than the chorus on the right. Michael Moore, Al Gore, Elizabeth May, Stephane Dion, Even Howard Hampton: all these people are respectful and tolerant. Few resort to name-calling. I don't understand it.

And while I've been insulted several times as part of the “left”: eco-terrorist, Marxist (not really a slur, but in their mouth it's ugly, like many of the others that will follow), godless, secular, atheist, hippie, radical, Islamofascist, ingrate, elitist, feminazi, baby-killer, anti-semite, traitor, anti-Christian, fascist (?), communist, glowtard, and others, I'm rarely insulted personally for my personal beliefs.

Today I was. I'm sure that many of you know my somewhat controversial opinions on the military, its past and current missions, and the role that war plays in society. I don't believe that our intentions in Afghanistan are noble. I don't believe that the men and women who are in Kandahar or Kabul are fighting for my freedom. And I believe that the only reason we are “nation-building” is because we tore the last one down.

I don't believe that killing civilians is good for democracy. I don't believe that we've ever gone to war for anything noble. I'm suspicious of people who claim that this war, that war, the other war and this one over here were all stupid and unjust, but WWII was necessary and great. I've become harshly cynical about military might and how it's used, and I think I come by my cynicism honestly. I watched the most powerful nation in human history invade a much smaller, weaker nation because it's president was apparently told by god that he had to take out that tinpot dictator. I watched that same nation drag my own into a war with one country because a handful of guys from a different country attacked their country in retaliation for half a century of interference. I've watched enough movies about Vietnam vets to know just what awaits the people foolish enough to sacrifice everything for their country in an unpopular war, to say nothing of what they must give up of their humanity even when they fight in a “just”one.

But today, I was accused of ignorance. I was yelled at. I was scolded, and then insulted.

I read several blogs daily, and I used ot blog myself. I've not done it for a while, and the reasons are myriad, but I still keep an eye on the blogosphere, and I try to sample widely. I read commentary that ranges from “way the fuck out there” to “damn near sensible” and everything in between. I comment sporadically, largely because I know that blog comments are not the ideal forum through which to change anyone's mind. Hell, I know how unlikely I am to convince anyone of my viewpoint in any forum. But Remembrance Day is kind of a big deal, and I read a lot of people saying the exact same thing: “I remember.” Eventually it got to me, because it seemed that “I remember” meant “I remember what I was told”. So, against my better judgement, I commented.

I said that Remembrance Day is hard for me because I know what I'm supposed to feel, but instead I just get angry. I mentioned that I don't buy into the “dulce et decorum est” sort of patriotism. I pointed out that national borders are imaginary lines, and imaginary lines are kind of a dumb reason to kill someone. I pointed out that Canadian soldiers are not defending us, because it's been nearly two centuries since Canada was attacked.

“You just don't get it, do you?” said another commenter, and I must admit, I don't. How is it better to go to a foreign country to kill someone than just killing someone here? Why does putting on a uniform make it okay? How can we possibly defending our freedom in Germany, Korea or Afghanistan?

“You don't realize a soldier had to die to enable you to disrespect men and women who would lay down their lives to protect you,” she continued. And I didn't realize that it was just one soldier who had to do it. In fact, I didn't realize that I needed protection from Afghanistan. I didn't realize, even, that I was being disrespectful by pointing out that war exploits the poor for the benefit of the rich.

“That's ok...”, obviously it isn't, “... the strong have always had to carry the weak.”

And there's the insult. I'm weak. Soldiers are strong. I don't deny that they are. I never once suggested that they are. I never would. What I'm saying is that they've been duped. So have we all. War is a racket. It's a con game. Wins are calculated in square miles or in dollars, losses are calculated in number dead. And civilians, who always lose, remain largely uncounted.
The accusation of weakness is not a new one. It's been heaped on peaceniks at least since the sixties, and probably a hell of a lot longer than that. It's easy to say. It implies so much: fear, cowardice, physical and mental weakness, insanity, naivete, and gullibility. It's part of a dichotomy, so it immediately grants the accuser “strength”, and all the attendant qualities: grit, wisdom, sanity, street-sense, guts and intelligence. It's a powerful word, weak, and it's hard to refute, because refutation would mean becoming “strong”.

So there's no way to defend oneself, except by capitulating. I have said on several occasions that I would not serve, even if I was allowed to. I am, therefore, weak. I do not believe the narrative that has been told about any wars, even the “necessary one”. I am weak. I do not like the idea that my country is engaged in an illegal conflict in Asia. I am weak. I do not feel it is necessary to support the troops simply because they sang the same anthem in school everyday.

I am weak.

Perhaps I am weak. I would be afraid to face gunfire. I would be afraid to be exploded. I would hate to wear the same clothes day in and day out. I would be afraid to find out that I am good at killing, and more afraid to find out that I liked it. I would be afraid to lay down my life or take someone else's for something as abstract as “democracy” or “freedom”, or for something as concrete and ugly as “revenge”.

I said earlier that I am rarely attacked personally. This woman does it more than anyone else: this is certainly not the first time this woman has attacked me, and I daresay it won't be the last; I responded to her comment. And I'm sure to draw fire elsewhere, as well. I've become quite unpopular in a few circles online. I know that a few of my friends here on facebook and in real life find my views distasteful, discouraging, and in some cases, I fear, alienating. Most people become more conservative as they get older. I'm becoming more and more radical. If I continue to feel the way I do, and continue to share my opinion with others, I will draw more and more fire. I'm prepared for that.

It is, I suppose, reassuring that personal attacks and insults are their weapon of choice. It implies that my ideas are sound.

It's odd, really, that this particular insult got to me enough so that I felt the need to write this. I think it's because I find this stance hard, while the other one seems so easy. It requires, dare I say, strength to think critically about something so tied up in jingoism, patriotism, emotion, love and death. It's not easy to suggest my father wasted years in the navy. It's hard to accuse someone of dying stupidly.

I don't mean to suggest that other points of view are really any easier. It's the examination that's hard, and it may lead others to different conclusions, some of which might be the same as before examination. I don't know for sure.

I do know that I don't feel particularly weak. And I do know that I addressed her objections without resorting to insults.

Monday, November 10, 2008

We are the dead.

This is a tricky time of year for me.

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day, which for all of us ought to be a time for reflection, gratitude, and humility. It's a time for understanding our place in history, and for recognizing all the amazing things that had to happen for us to be who we are. It's a time to look back on what has happened, at the horrible things that men and women (though mostly men, it must be admitted) have done to each other, usually in the name of something greater than themselves: Germany, God, Democracy, Motherhood (seriously, look at some of the WWI propaganda), or Peace, and to say, as we often do about the Holocaust: “Never again.”

And it's a time to look at the world today, and see that we're still doing it. We're still killing people because they worship the wrong god, or have the wrong system of government or skin colour, or speak the wrong language, or for revenge, or because they have something we need. We still send men and women off to kill other men and women while shouting inspiring slogans and mouthing platitudes to ideals, not recognizing that we're actually sending them off to kill people for far more base reasons: money, power, oil or gas, or god.

In the past, I've recognized the solemnity of Remembrance Day, and I've said many of the same things I say now. I've always said that war is a stupid and wasteful practice, but I used to tell my students about fighting for democracy, about stopping a madman, about saving those who couldn't defend themselves. I used to tell the stories we tell ourselves. I know better now.

The Great War was about alliances. It was never about saving the world from the Germans. And in fact, the peace after the war helped facilitate the next war. WWII was not about saving the Jews. It was about saving the French, the Dutch and the Belgians. For the Germans, it was not about “lebensraum”, but about resources. Eastern Europe had oil, North Africa had tin and rubber, and it was only right that the lower races serve the ubermenschen as slave labour. For the Allies, it was not about making the world safe for democracy: Hitler was elected. Korea was a civil war that the UN tried ineffectually to stop. Viet Nam was about... well, I don't know what the hell that was about. They said it was about the domino theory, but the US invasion probably did more to encourage Communism in the region than anything else.

The list goes on. Afghanistan was never about the Taliban. It was about revenge. So was Iraq. They're also about fossil fuels: oil in Iraq and natural gas in Afghanistan.

What frustrates me is not that we fight. We're monkeys, and we're territorial. It's simply biology. In the movie “Species”, Fores Whitaker says something very profound and disturbing about Sil:

“She's a predator. Her eyes are in front; she's a predator.”

So we're monkeys, and we're predators, and we fight. But there are fundamental truths that we must recognize about war, and Remembrance Day is as good a time as any to list them.

First, we never fight for something as noble as democracy. For one thing, if democracy's so great, it ought to sell itself and killing people shouldn't be necessary. Furthermore, forcing people to vote is such an obvious paradox that it's astonishing that no one ever comments on it. Wars are about giving rich men access to more resources, and therefore more riches. Wars are about punishing the people who have offended our oligarchy. Wars are about politics in its crudest and most base sense: might makes right. God, the nation or motherhood have nothing to do with it. Ever. By ennobling war, we ennoble greed, malice, fear and hatred. We raise up as virtues our most vile vices. We worship our collective id with blood sacrifice.

Second, war/defense is a grotesque allocation of resources. A fifth of Canadian children live in poverty. There are First Nations people who don't have access to school. Our health care doesn't cover things like dentistry, eyeglasses and ambulance rides. Artists live below the poverty line. Yet we spend billions of dollars on the equipment necessary to kill people in foreign lands. The people that do the killing are underpaid, to boot.

Third, old rich men wage war, and poor young men and women fight it. War is about exploitation. The problem here is that the exploited become complicit. If the poor stopped fighting, the rich would have to stop declaring war. The oligarchs are being enabled by the rest of us, and the willingness of the people to accept the narrative.

I want to thank the men and women who have sacrificed their lives, their health, their sanity or their livelihood. I want to honour those who have given so much for Canada. But I can't help feeling that they were duped, that they were betrayed, and by continuing to honour their sacrifices, I continue to ennoble the lies, and I become complicit in the deception. I know what they thought they were dying for. Still, their deaths were unnecessary, pointless, and ultimately meaningless. The died badly, far away from home, and it was never for anything as sacred as my right to vote, or the freedom of speech that allows me to write this. The men and women who are right now, in Afghanistan, killing and being killed aren't doing it to defend my freedoms, nor are they doing it so women can go to school, though they think they are. NATO went into Afghanistan to kill a guy, to get revenge. Always remember that.

Thinking these thoughts is not usually an issue. These opinions on 364 days of the year, simply make me an ingrate or an asshole, or more probably a cynic. It's only on one day, November 11, that my opinions become visible and therefore political. I'd like to honour the dead tomorrow, but I honestly believe that by honouring the way they died, I'd be dishonouring the ideals they thought they were fighting for. So tomorrow I won't be wearing a poppy. I will probably observe a moment of silence at 11am, but only to shake my head in disgust, and hope vainly that we'll stop sending men and women to die stupidly.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

The first step is, of course, correctly identifying the foe.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Letter to the editor, November 9

I must admit, I look forward in a sort of perverse way to Michael Coren's column. When I miss it in the London Free Press, I usually find myself looking for it online. His hatred, combined with this thin skin is often shocking, usually amusing, and always incredible. It's hard, in Canada, to find someone as inflammatory who's still accepted by the mainstream media.

Coren's a funny animal. His worldview is so twisted and distorted that I find it hard to believe that we're on the same planet. He decries religious intolerance while constantly insulting atheists, agnostics, and secularists. He laments "Christian bashing" and claims to be the victim of discrimination, while he has grown up in two of the most liberal and tolerant societies on the planet, one of which has an established Christian Church. He's insulted Muslims, homosexuals, feminists, tolerant Christians, the main stream media, African Americans and African Canadians, pacifists and human rights activists, accusing them all of bigotry.

His latest screed, Obama's victory fools public (November 8), is a good example. He accuses the mainstream media of being "drastically liberal and anti-conservative". The facts simply don't support it. McCain got a free ride on a number of issues, including his pick for running mate, his war record, his own finances, inconsistencies in his speeches and policy positions, his ludicrous "energy plan", his health status, his undeserved reputation as a "Maverick", and his association with known felons and his hypocritical associations with lobbyists.

In Canada, CTV showed its bias by releasing the Dion tape. The National Post endorsed Harper and the Conservatives, implying that the Green Shifts proposed by the Liberals and the Greens are dangerous, expensive and foolhardy, despite the fact that most economists on the planet have realized that its really the only effective way to reduce carbon emissions.

F17urthermore, Coren is a refutation of his own argument: He has a syndicated weekly newspaper column, a daily television show, a daily radio show, and two book to his credit.

Quite simply, if there is a bias in the media, it skews right, not left, and certainly for the status quo. In fact, in the next paragraph he mentions right-wing talk radio, a political force for which there is no balance on the left.

Coren also mentions Obama's association with " the mad racist preacher Jeremiah Wright". Black Liberation Theology was born in slavery and matured under segregation, Jim Crow laws, and overt and deadly racism. Even now, African Americans are more likely than whites to be born in poverty, to be raised by single parents, to be arrested, to be convicted, to face jail time when convicted, to to drop out of school, and to be denied the opportunity to get a post secondary education. Is it any surprise that black leaders are distrustful of whites? I'd be angry, too, and I don't think I'd stop with "God damn America."

He condemns people "who settle for group think and herd mentality". This from a man who accepts religious dogma as fact, and insults those who buck tradition. A man who implies that men like Limbaugh and his army of "dittoheads" are defending the North American way of life against the liberals who want a kinder, more compassionate society.

He calls Obama a socialist, an interesting charge from a man who left one country with a social safety net for another.

He calls Obama an "no friend of freedom", whatever that even means, implying that he is an enemy of freedom. I've not seen any evidence to support such a charge. In fact, it has been the GOP that has been running roughshod over the Constitution, flaunting the Geneva Convention, and spitting on the UN for the last eight years. The human rights record of Bush and his gang is appalling, and they ought to be tried as war criminals. I suspect that Coren would disagree.

I've been tempted in the past to ask that the London Free Press stop carrying Coren's column. He is a hate-filled, angry man, and while he may have a knack for rhetoric, his reasoning skills leave much to be desired. I've decided not to for two reasons. First of all, no matter how odious his opinions and how ludicrous his claims, he has a right to them, and a right to sell them to whomever will print them. He has a right to accuse gay people of destroying the Canadian Family, and I have the right to call him a homophobe and a bigot. Secondly, he serves as a useful lesson, a reminder that there are still men like that in Canada, and that we still have a long way to go.

Please continue to publish Coren's column. He's an amusing distraction, and he keeps my sense of indignation sharp. He's a powerful motivation.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Not there yet

Last night, the US elected a black man to be President of the United States.

He was elected with 52% of the popular vote.

47% of voters went with McCain: some almost certainly because Obama is black, many of them because they were afraid Obama was a Muslim, or an atheist, and others because he's a "liberal", which is as bad as being a Muslim.

When things went badly in North Carolina, Elizabeth Dole accused her opponent of hanging out with "godless Americans", and suggested that Hagan, herself, might be an atheist. Hagan responded by affirming she was a Christian, and tore Dole a new one for slandering a fellow Christian like that. She did not, however, point out that there's nothing wrong with being an atheist.

Two states voted to end Affirmative Action.

Colorado took steps to deny women the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, as did South Dakota.

Two states voted to ban gay marriage. California voted to strip homosexuals of their right to marry, and, as far as I can tell, effectively nullified all gay marriages in the state.

Arkansas voted to deny homosexuals the opportunity to adopt.

Th United States now has a black president. This is absolutely a big deal, and a large step forward.

I just wanted to remind you that there are still a lot of bigots in America