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On the subject of dumb Republicans…

How can you tell Tea Party activists are idiots? When they say stuff like this:

If you quit giving people that stuff, they would figure out how to do it on their own

while on Social Security.

I understand that economic distress can result in frustration, but a moment’s thought should show that urging smaller government and less government intervention in the economy produces immediate and long term problems for the middle and lower classes. In other words, these people are shooting themselves in the feet.

Hopefully the “eastern establishment elites” will be able to save these people from themselves while trying to hold their own economy together. Gawd knows, these people need babysitters.

culture, International News, Lighter Things, Lying douchebags, media, religion, Self-righteous asshole, Skepticism

Baba… Oh, Really?*

Interesting story from India in which a well-known skeptic, Sanal Edamaruku, responded to the outlandish claims of a self-proclaimed guru or baba (holy man) who, it was said, could kill a man using only his eerie mystical powers.  Mr. Edamaruku simply challenged the guru to go ahead and kill him right then and there, on television. To the surprise of no-one with a nickel’s worth of sense, Edamuruku remains alive and kicking, and Pandit Surender Sharma, the outed ‘guru’, goes home without a cookie. I must admit to loving the description of the events that occurred, live, on a talk show:

Mr Edamaruku had been invited to the same talk show as head of the Indian Rationalists’ Association — the country’s self-appointed sceptic-in-chief. At first the holy man, Pandit Surender Sharma, was reluctant, but eventually he agreed to perform a series of rituals designed to kill Mr Edamaruku live on television. Millions tuned in as the channel cancelled scheduled programming to continue broadcasting the showdown, which can still be viewed on YouTube.

First, the master chanted mantras, then he sprinkled water on his intended victim. He brandished a knife, ruffled the sceptic’s hair and pressed his temples. But after several hours of similar antics, Mr Edamaruku was still very much alive — smiling for the cameras and taunting the furious holy man.

Below is Part One of the ‘attempted murder’… the video is in Hindi, but it’s certainly easy to catch the drift – I recommend watching the videos in their entirety, or availing yourself of one of the ‘condensed’ versions:

All credit, honor and respect to Mr. Edamaruku and the Indian Rationalists’ Association. Well done.

*With apologies to The Who.

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My thoughts on the Nova Scotia expense scandal

I have two thoughts, which is probably some kind of record for me:

1) I’m not surprised to find out that after 140+ years of corruption, our distinguished honourable local MLAs have some problem controlling their impulses when presented with a $45,000 receipt-free expense account, and no real guidelines on how to (or if to) spend that money. That’s not to absolve anyone from their own stupidity. Conservative Richard Hurlburt’s hilarity over putting a generator in his home for the greater good of the community was, frankly, inspired. It was the gift that kept on giving, as emergency workers and retirees alike pointed out that they had know idea that an emergency generator was supposedly available for their use. Comedy gold. NDP leader Darrell Dexter’s use of the funds to pay his lawyerly association fees were equally misguided, given that as an MLA he’s not a practicing lawyer and has no need to keep up his credentials, let alone expect us to pay for such frivolity. Expensing the $250 fee to remain an associate member of the bar would have been sufficient and legitimate…paying $3000 to remain a full-on lawyer was a serious lapse in judgement. And who knows what Liberal Dave Wilson did, considering that he’s refusing to speak to anyone but his lawyer. When the story comes out on Wilson’s resignation, it’s gonna be a big ‘un, me thinks. Much popcorn will be needed. (I do hope the Wilson revelations don’t turn into a Capone’s-vault moment).

Anyway – my first thought on the MLA spending scandal is “I’m not surprised”. Nova Scotia politicians have been corrupt for 140 years. Cousins routinely get paving contracts. Political contributors get dibs on the shares when crown corporations are privatized. P3 contracts often end up in the hands of those with connections to politicos. Par for the course in this corrupt little backwater. Frankly, $45,000/MLA is small potatoes compared to the millions and millions that have been stolen from the public in this province since confederation.

My second thought is this: The Liberals are seeking to use this scandal to damage the standing of the NDP. This is legitimate, of course, because the MLAs from all three parties were spending this money like they’d just won the lottery. However, this culture of corruption grew, matured, and festered under the aforementioned 140+ years of liberal/conservative power. Dexter’s government is the first to do anything about it, and coincidentally (?) the first non-Liberal/PC provincial government we’ve had. Truth be told, Liberal leader MacNeil’s attack on the NDP for expense irregularities basically charges the NDP with being just as corrupt as the PCs and the Liberals.

Think about that for a minute. And then have a good chuckle, or a good cry if you actually care about governance in this province. But, honestly, the NDP haven’t come close to the staggering levels of corruption of the other two main parties. Give them time, and probably they will end up just as corrupt, but MacNeil is being a bit premature trying to drag them down to his level so quickly.

Canadian politics, Conservatives, justice, media, Past indiscretions biting you in the ass, Things We Should Know

Congratulations to the Media…

… You are now officially complicit in Prime Monster Harper’s efforts to distract Canadians from what really matters by introducing a classic red herring – namely, the ‘sexist’ language in our national anthem.

Hey, Look over here!

So the government is concerned about women. Explain this to me in that context:

The (labour and women’s groups) coalition’s report points out the government’s decision to eliminate the phrase “gender equality” from the mandate of Status of Women Canada, the country’s primary institution responsible for gender equality. It also highlights the closing of 12 of 16 Status of Women offices and the elimination of funding to a program for court challenges related to equality rights.

Or this, from the Toronto Star:

As the federal government prepares to roll out a new budget on Thursday, a new study by a Queen’s University professor argues that men are seeing a disproportionate share of the benefits of Ottawa’s record spending over the past year.

According to Kathleen Lahey’s analysis, women have only received about 7 to 22 per cent of federal infrastructure spending, because they are under-represented in the construction, manufacturing and engineering industries.

By Lahey’s calculations, women are also not getting as much as men out of the billions Ottawa has committed to corporate, GST and personal-income tax cuts. And though women represent around 50 per cent of the population, they’re only seeing roughly a third of the enhancements to the employment-insurance program, according to Lahey’s study.

Yep, feeling the love you have for women, Stevie boy.  Oh, and nice job appointing that begging-to-be-tasered meat puppet Helena Guergis to lead the march backward.

I have a suggestion. How about “By all thy scum’s command”? Certainly fits the circumstances, don’t it?

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Ok, Ok, Settle Down Now… FOCUS, People…

Lest we, in our post-Olympic euphoria, forget…

When we last left our MPs, wandering aimlessly through the wilds of Ottawa, Stephen Harper had prorogued Parliament in an attempt to avoid embarrassing questions about mistreated Afghan detainees, thereby committing contempt of Parliament – a serious crime. An upcoming Liberal MP’s motion is designed to drag this issue kicking and screaming back into the light of day.

Our house, not Harper’s playground.

Remember, way back when, before we kicked ass and broke records (better than the opposite, I admit) at the Winter Games? The blatant disregard for Parliament and the Canadian people displayed by the arrogant figurehead for the fundamentalist right? Is this ringing any bells?

I think it’s safe to say that Harper prorogued Parliament specifically to avoid everyone remembering these events – he can take credit for the equally arrogant “Own the Podium”, while distracting people with the sound of jingling gold medals, like a baby distracted by a set of keys.

My point? DO NOT LET HIM GET AWAY WITH IT. Resume (or begin) showing the proper level of intellectual curiosity that each of us as citizens are bound to do – it is the compact we make with our country when we vote, or when we benefit from the social safety net established for our welfare. We cannot, and should not, coast through life with any sense that we have no duty to our fellow citizens or our country, that we need not get involved in the democratic process. The basis of a truly advanced civil society is a mutual concern for your fellow citizens. If not for some abstract idea like ‘Canada’, can you participate, stay informed and vote responsibly for the sake of others who have done the same for you as a fellow citizen?

Constant talk of ‘rights’ has obscured or lessened the importance of ‘duty’. This is what Harper is counting on. Let’s call him on it.