Consevatives, politics, right-wing tomfoolery, United States

Strange Bedfellows: The U.S. Presidency and Law & Order

The New York Times reports that lead “Law & Order” actor Fred Thompson, who is a former senator from Tennessee, will be entering the race for U.S. President on the Republican ticket.

Because, obviously, the whole ‘actor as president’ thing worked so well the last time.

Iraq, military, United States, war

American troops rotten to the core?

Yes, this is an examination of the “a few bad apples” philosophy spouted by Rumsfeld, Bush, and Cheney. A recent study by the Office of the Surgeon General of the US Army Medical Command suggests that the mistreatment of innocent Iraqis is something that a majority of the rank-and-file will not report. Moreover, it suggests that a minority of American troops believe that “Iraqi noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect.”

Alternet article on the Surgeon General’s Report

Some of the press accounts of the surgeon general’s study, “Mental Health Advisory Team (MHAT) IV; Operation Iraqi Freedom 05-07,” also reported the more detailed findings from its chapter on “Battlefield Ethics.” The information became more disconcerting; the problems were clearly more serious and pervasive than the executive summary indicated:

“Only 47 percent of soldiers and only 38 percent of Marines agreed that noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect.”

“Well over a third of soldiers and Marines reported torture should be allowed, whether to save the life of a fellow soldier or Marine … or to obtain important information about insurgents….”

28 percent of soldiers and 30 percent of Marines reported they had cursed and/or insulted Iraqi noncombatants in their presence.
9 percent and 12 percent, respectively, reported damaging or destroying Iraqi property “when it was not necessary.”

4 percent and 7 percent, respectively, reported hitting or kicking a noncombatant “when it was not necessary.

The study also reports that only 55 percent of soldiers and just 40 percent of Marines would report a unit member injuring or killing “an innocent noncombatant,” and just 43 percent and 30 percent, respectively, would report a unit member destroying or damaging private property.

Immorality breeds immorality. This is the true Bush legacy.

economics, environment, Nova Scotia

Hey, Look Over There!

In what must be considered the most blatant corporate equivalent of jangling your keys to distract a child, Nova Scotia Power has indicated that they will be spending $50 million a year on conservation efforts to reduce power rates. Except that power rates will have to go up. Just until it’s paid for, you understand – then, as we take more responsibility for reducing our energy consumption, our bills should go down.

Uh-huh. So, let’s see if I understand you correctly. You’re saying that you are doing something positive for the environment. Fine. However, completely apart from that, you will raise my power rates until I take the responsibility of reducing them myself.

So, should I hold my ass cheeks open for you, or do you prefer to do it?  It’s up to you, apparently, since there’s no other place I can go to get energy. At least use some lubricant, for goodness’ sake.

This wouldn’t offend me nearly as much if we hadn’t found out due to an internal review (imagine if you will how insightful and probing that must have been) that the top execs at Emera and NSP were earning over $1 million a year for…whatever it is they do. That’s why this offends me – this is an example of attempted corporate spin – getting us to take our eyes off the walnut shell so they can dispose of the embarrassing pea underneath. This blatant political move, this attempt at distracting, this appeal to the basest parts of our brains…

…is, unfortunately, going to work, at least to some degree. Because, with one sweeping gesture, they presented the cause du jour – the environment – as  the distraction. Rhetorically, invoking the modern simplistic logic of the true capitalist, this places critics on a footing that by definition makes them look bad. How can you disapprove of saving the planet? Do you also kick old people and squish puppies?

And that, my friends, is why this angers me. To rake in monumental profits with one hand and cynically manipulate the ‘customers’ into believing this is a good thing, is the epitome of  – I hesitate to say ‘evil’, but let’s settle on ‘greed’ for the time being. For the NSP – the corporation that spent decades burning poor-quality coal and fouling the atmosphere, leaving caustic dust on cars that eats away the paint, to repeatedly ask for increases in rates with no justification, just a sense of apparent entitlement –  to ask for us to pay gratefully to be told what to do, in essence, is ludicrous. And offensive, and cliched, and frustrating…

…and awfully fucking clever.

Nova Scotia, politics, Rodney MacDonald

Searching for The Fiddler, week 3

Here are Rodney’s newsworthy appearances of the week:

May 16: What happened to my nads?

Rodney MacDonald is refusing to criticize Nova Scotia’s three Tory MPs for voting in favour of the federal budget, even though it will force him “to roll the dice” on the offshore.

“It’s not about who voted for what and when,” he told reporters after cabinet Wednesday.

Mr. MacDonald denied his silence on Tuesday’s vote in the House of Commons means he’s going easy on his federal counterparts.
“There’s no kid gloves, I can assure you,” he said.

May 18: Summer student programs hit hard by federal Conservatives. The Rodney Program outputs an if/then statement (he likely wasn’t breifed on this)

“This mean-spirited action by the Conservatives is an attack on our economy and our culture,” he said in the House of Commons on Wednesday. “Worst of all, it is a mean-spirited attack on our students.”

Affected organizations in Cape Breton include the Neils Harbour Port Authority, Whitney Pier Day Care, Sydney Day Care, Miners Memorial Manor, Sydney Mines Pensioners, North Sydney Bartown Festival, Fort Petri and the United Way in Cape Breton.

Premier Rodney MacDonald learned of the cuts this week when some organizations contacted the province after they got their letters denying them federal funding. Mr. MacDonald said he was disappointed by the news, but he’s still waiting to find out just how many jobs Nova Scotia has lost.

“If there are reductions in summer jobs in our small rural communities, that’s unacceptable,” he said in Halifax on Thursday.

Mr. MacDonald said the province has doubled the number of student summer jobs it funds.

May 23: Oh Noes! The NDP are playing politics! How dare a political party do such a thing!

Nova Scotia Premier Rodney Macdonald is accusing opposition New Democrats of playing politics as they attempt to get Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay to appear before the legislature’s public accounts committee.

Despite earlier agreement the committee’s three Tory members are now refusing to sign a letter asking that Mackay come explain the choice Ottawa gave Nova Scotia on the federal-provincial offshore accord.

That’s all for this week. All other Google hits were variations on Rodney’s decision to make Health Care Workers indentured servants.

Democrats, GWOT, United States

The sun might just be rising…

Is is possible that one of the contenders for the Democratic leadership actually can find his with only one hand and perhaps without the aid of cartographic support? I am parsing this little CNN report that indicates John Edwards has not swallowed the “war on terror” BS that BushCo has promoted lo these past six years. To quote Mr. Edwards:

By framing this as a war, we have walked right into the trap the terrorists have set — that we are engaged in some kind of clash of civilizations and a war on Islam.

Unfortunately, the article continues, the real front-runners, Clinton and Obama, have in fact eaten of the GWOT loaf and therefore promise little change in real direction should they “win” the election in ’08.

afghanistan, Consevatives, Stephen Harper

Harper slides into Afghanistan – is he going to dish out any plastic turkey?

Stephen Harper pulls another one from the BushCo playbook – low in the polls, sneak off for a surprise visit to the war zone! If Harper gave a rat’s ass about the troops he so open-heartedly “supports”, he’d give a thought to how much of a pain in the ass it is to entertain “dignitaries” while trying to do your job.

And if he had any balls or trust in his soldiers, he wouldn’t sneak in – he’d go in with head held high. Going in secretly tells me a couple of things – he has no trust in the security of the situation (in which case why the fuck is he there?) and it is important for him for some reason to get there. Since he’s already demonstrated a fetish for flag-wearing and he’s tied his fate to the war in Afghanistan, there’s no doubt in my mind that poor poll results are more important than he likes to claim.


We now return to regular blogging habits…

If I’ve learned anything about myself, it’s that my brain has only room for one thing at a time. I’m not one of those people that can read and watch television at the same time. Or, for that matter, chat on MSN, play a video game, and text on my cell phone while still “doing my homework” like my Korean exchange student maintains she can.

In any case, my blogging has diminished in frequency lately, and it has nothing to do with boredom with it, or lack of interest in things political and cultural. Au contraire – times are indeed interesting – Alberto Gonzales is about to be hung by his gizzards, televangelists are finally dying off and learning just how silly and wrong they are, and Canadians are beginning to see Stephen Harper for the petty politico that he is.

No, blogging for a time has been set aside for my other hobby – running. For the past three months, I’ve been training hard for last weekend’s Blue Nose Marathon, and it kind of pushed pulling the wings off Tory flies aside for a time. Well, the race is done, my legs are very, very sore, and I now return to regular blogging. I will run more marathons in the future, maybe another one this year, but I don’t anticipate it will take as much of my attention now that the first one is done. That is, unless I decide to try to do an ultra or something silly like that.

For anyone interested my run, not that there is any reason on earth that you should be, I’ve written about it here.