Saturday, December 04, 2010

Wikileaks Whack-a-Mole Workaround

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, the cyber-censors have been doin' their dangedest to keep folks from seein' the Wikileaks website. The chased 'em from to to an' I dunno how many other domains. Here's one that's been workin' fairly consistently for a couplafew days now:

You see, fellers an' gals, the domain name system (DNS) is mostly a translator that takes a tuff-to-remember IP number like and calls it something like When you go directly to, you bypass the dns.

This ain't guaranteed to work forever. What is, for that matter? The IP number is attached to the host server. If wikileaks is chased off their existing server (it's happened once this week), then the IP number will change. So far, though, has worked through a few DNS changes brought about by the cyber censors and their whack-a-mole strategy to stifle free speech.

The truth is out there... and it'll set you free.


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Inferiority, schminferiority!

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I just left me a bigass comment over to Steve V's Far and Wide. Ol' Steve's bought into the idea that Canajuns got us an inferiority complex like that Merkan feller with the leaky wick said. I ain't buyin' it. Here's my recycled comment from Far and Wide.

Inferiority, schminferiority!

If we're comparin' ourselves to the Merkans, we got nothing to feel inferior about. We're better educated. We're in better health. We don't go around shootin' each other quite as much as they do. We tolerate diversity like same sex marriage and polygamy and poutine. We know how to drive in the snow. Our money's way prettier. We've got way more square kilometers per person. We know what kilometers are.

I figger it's the Merkans who got the inferiority complex. I mean who gets all antsy about how they're portrayed in dumbass sitcoms or cop shows? Merkan TV is always pokin' fun at Canajuns an', true to their stereotype, we're too polite to complain. The real reason we don't complain is we don't wanna make 'em see how stoopid they are. It's compassion more than politeness, I reckon.

Oh yeah... our tar sands are bigger and dirtier than theirs and we got pretty darn big carbon footprints, too. They only can go coast to coast but we can go from coast to coast to coast. We're whippin' their sorryasses 3 to 2 in the coast department an' I don't see 'em catchin' up, neither.

An' another thing, my dog's got a bigger vocabulary than most Merkans. He knows sign language, too.

Standin' on guard with a glowin' heart,


A dream come true for WikiLeaks founder

“When governments stop torturing and killing people, and when corporations stop abusing the legal system, then perhaps it will be time to ask if free-speech activists are accountable.”  Julian Assange

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Way Down Yonder in the Pumpkin Patch

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I just wanna share another little slice o' rural life with all my erudite readers. I was out on an errand the other day an' I spotted this here bigass field chock full o' ripe pumpkins 'bout as far as the eye could see. I figgered some Toronto elites might like to see it, too.

These here pumpkins was just north of Waterford an' next weekend they got their big Pumpkinfest. It's only about an hour an' a half outta Trawna so if any city slickers wanna taste o' rural culture, c'mon down.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Bad Focus, A Leading Question and Wedge Politics

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, today's the day our gummint goes back to work after another 13 week vacation. While the MPs were away from the House, "a total of $14 billion (has) been added to our national debt." Every poll in the past year or more has indicated that the biggest concern for Canadians is the economy. Yet, our spendthrift Conservative government is in full drunken sailor mode. $16 billion for new, unneeded F-35 stealth fighter jets. $6 billion for new prison cells to house unconvicted criminals who have committed unreported crimes. More than a billion on security for a few hours of face time with fellow promise breakers at the G8/G20. $35 billion for new ships.

Not only is our government preaching austerity while spending money at an unprecedented rate, it is spending most of its time and energy dealing with an issue that's barely a blip on the radar of public concern. The long gun registry is a pet issue for a few NRA types who make loud noises (like their guns) and have hijacked -- with the help of Harper's MPs -- the public agenda. While all hands need to be on the economy deck, the fight being waged is one of wedge politics where the ruling party is attempting to divide Canadians along rural-urban boundaries.

Here's the way my own MP, Diane Finley, is wasting her time and money. Remember, we the people are Diane's employers. When she wastes her time and money, she's actually wasting our time and money. Here's what Diane sent out to her constituents last week.

Notice how Diane says she has her mind made up and she will vote to repeal the registry. Then, she says she needs my support and help and I should get in touch. What help can I give? I can't vote in the Commons. She's the only one from Haldimand-Norfolk who can vote and she's already decided how.

She wants people to answer her question and send back their Yes or No response to her question: "Do you support getting rid of the wasteful and ineffective gun registry?" No need to worry about postage, registry opponents. Diane, or rather the taxpayer, has that covered.

Nothing leading about that question, is there? Who would answer "No, I don't support getting rid of something that's wasteful and ineffective"?

When a handful registry opponents take the time to respond with their meaningless Yes answers, Diane can then tell the media or anyone who asks that the bulk of the mail she's received supports killing the registry.

The big problem with trying to create a rural-urban rift is that so-called rural ridings are not entirely rural. Haldimand-Norfolk is comprised a several small towns, ranging in population from about 15,000 to a couple thousand. The residents of those towns are hardly all farmers or hunters. The farmers in the rural riding are, in reality, a small minority. Most voters in my rural riding live in town. I suspect there may be proportionally a few more hunters in small towns than in Toronto but most small town residents are neither hunters nor gun owners.

The tactic of dividing Canadians into Toronto and Montreal versus rural Canada will fail simply because politicians like Diane Finley do not really know what their constituents want. They will never know as long as they ask leading questions for which there is only one acceptable answer.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Intimidation, Stifling Dissent and Police State Tactics

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, the past day or so I seen a few news items that really got my goat. Seems like our home and native land is slidin' down the slippery slope to totalitarianism. The G20 thing gave the slip-slide a bigass shove an' the situation's deterioratin', no two ways.

One thing I seen that made my blood start simmerin' was when the cops arrested a guy for the crime of discussing politics in a university forum. The chickenshits waited until after the event and arrested him at his dad's house. According to the event organizer, Judy Rebick, who had invited the young man to participate in the Ryerson panel discussion,
"It was a meeting, a calm, peaceful discussion of issues on people’s minds.”
“It’s an outrage that he was arrested for discussing issues, an outrage.”
Dang right!

Then, I seen an article where a guy out Calgary way got arrested for posting criticism of the RCMP on a website. Libel is generally a civil matter but I guess when the cops is the ones who think they're bein' libeled, they can slap the cuffs on and drag the accused libeler off to jail.

RCMP Supt. Randy McGinnis said the charges are very rare.

"In my 29 years, I've never heard of an individual being charged under the criminal code for libel charges, defamation of character," McGinnis said during the news conference.

Not rare enough, sez I. BTW, the guy's website is still up and (allegedly) libelin'. Rabble's got a good piece on this.

The third thing I seen and this one really hits home is where the OPP is payin' visits to people who are opposed to Bruce Power's plans to ship radioactive waste through the Great Lakes and up the St. Lawrence Seaway and over to Sweden... and back again.

Ontario Provincial Police officers are making the rounds in Grey Bruce, speaking to opponents of Bruce Power's plans to ship 16 decommissioned steam generators from Owen Sound Harbour through the Great Lakes to Sweden.

Two officers — Calum Rankin and Ian George — from the force's western regional headquarters called Sharen Skelly, a spokeswoman for the group Citizens Against Radioactive Generators in Owen Sound (CARGOS), on Tuesday afternoon and met with her that evening, Skelly said Friday.

"I wasn't expecting it," Skelly said of the call.

Rankin called her again on Friday to say he was willing to speak with anyone about the issue, she said. "He said they wanted to be open and transparent about it."

However, George would not answer questions from The Sun Times about who the officers where visiting or how they were chosen.

Does the OPP work for Bruce Power or for the citizens of Ontario? This looks like intimidation, pure and simple. A group of mayors of municipalities bordering the Great lakes has also voiced opposition to the shipments. Is the OPP calling on them, too?

Maybe the OPP will be calling on me next. I signed Sharen Skelly's petition and I've been outspoken about stopping the Great Lakes from being used as a transportation route for nuclear waste. I bumped heads with Bruce Power last year when they were trying to build a new nuke plant here in Nanticoke. I'm pretty sure they got a dossier on me. Will they send their OPP minions to knock on my door. If so, I'll be all the more inspired to protest those shipments. Count on it.


Friday, September 17, 2010

"Stay Calm, Be Brave, and Watch for the Signs"

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I gave my ol' blog a facelift yesterday so I'm all inspired an' I figgered I'd enlighten my thousands an' thousands o' readers with some rural culture. Something I seen yesterday was ol' Pitbull Baird runnin' his stoopidass mouth off about "Toronto elites" an' tryin' his damnedest to drive a wedge between us hicks an' the good folks in the big city.

There ain't much I want more than peace an' harmony between Canada's rural folks an' the urbane urbanites. I reckon if I share some rural culture with the city fellers an' gals, it'll help in the bridge-buildin' department.

Today, I had an errand to run an' I had a chugmobile out on the country roads fer a coupla hours. On the way down to Port Colborne, I seen a few signs alongside the road. On my way back to Mayberry, I stopped a couplafew times an' took some pitchers. Some of 'em probbly need interpretin' for Toronto folks but I reckon these signs is gonna help the snooty-toots understand us bumpkins.

Hog Assembly Yard

Here's a close-up of the sign on the barn:

It's sorta faded out but it reads "Hog Assembly Yard" an' there's a pitcher of a flyin' pig. What most Toronto elites probbly didn't know is pigs get put together on assembly lines at places like this 5 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. Us hicks is always hearin' how city folks don't know where the food in the grocery store comes from. Well, now you know about pigmeat. They make it the same way they make Fords up in Oakville.

Now, city folks probbly figger us hicks ain't very computer literate an' we don't know much about doing acrobatics in our adobe huts. Wrong, again. We can Photoshop just as good as any highrise dweller. We even know that Photoshop is a verb. Out here in the boonies, they even got special Photoshop deals at the farm supply outfits.

In case some o' you latte-sippers ain't so 'puter savvy an' don't know what crop inputs are, here's where they live in Photoshop.

Now, some city slickers is probbly confused about farmers. That ain't too surprisin'. The dang farmers need the sun but they're always prayin' fer rain. Some farm folks is downright hostile when it comes to the sun. Here's a van I saw today down around Cayuga.

I get the part about solar farms destroyin' farmland an' wildlife but I gotta admit I'm sorta confuddled about how solar farms destroy communities. I'm all fer rooftop solar, though, an' so is this here van-paintin' sun-hater, by the looks of it. I figger he needs a website so's he can explain about the communities bit, at least.

I saved the best sign fer last. City folks probbly think dirt is dirty. Wrong, again, Starbuck! There's dirty dirt, alright, but that ain't the only kinda dirt we got out here in Sticksville. Look an' learn:

Well, I hope them there pitchers help a few Toronto elites understand us rural folks better. We ain't always shootin' off unregistered guns, spittin' tobacca juice an' drivin' tractor blockades down the 401. We got a deep-rooted culture that ain't always easy to comprehend. I'm just happy I can do my little part for national unity.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Were NDP MPs Listening to Ol' JimBobby?

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, a coupla days ago, I posted up a blog story on how I'd written to a buncha NDP MPs an' to Jack Layton, too, tellin' 'em they need to vote to keep the gun registry if they want a hope in hell of fixin' it. The comments section on the blog got pretty heated with the Dipper Leftdog sayin' my position showed I'd been hoodwinked by the GrittyBoys. Well, I was watchin' Mansbridge last night and I seen the NDP leader come out and say the selfsame thing I said:
Layton said. "I am very confident that the votes that are needed to continue the registry so that it can be fixed will indeed be there, and I'm feeling very optimistic about what lies ahead as a result."
It ain't really that complicated. If you scrap it, you can't fix it. When I asked Leftdog several times how you could fix something if it was scrapped, he refused to answer. Jack Layton answered, though. What I'm really wonderin' about now is: does Leftdog think that Jack Layton was hoodwinked by the Liberals? After all, Jack's sayin' the exact same thing I said in my letter to the NDP MPs.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dear NDP Member of Parliament,

Whooee! Well, friend an' foes, I just sent an email to a few NDP MPs via an online thingamajig that lets you send it automagically. The online tool has a pre-written letter that you can sign but you can change it or write yer own letter in the space provided. Here's what I sent.
Dear NDP Member of Parliament,

Once the gun registry is scrapped, it cannot be fixed. The Harper government will never resurrect the registry. If it is killed, it will not rise, zombie-like, to be tweaked by well-meaning MPs. The only way it can be fixed is if it still exists.

First, you must prevent it from being eliminated forever. Then and only then, can it be improved upon.

When you send an old car to the junkyard and they squash it into a 1 metre x 1 metre x 1 metre cube, it's a little too late to start talking about doing a tune-up.

If you want the registry dead and gone forever, then go ahead and vote to kill it. If, however, you want to improve it -- as Jack Layton says -- then you must allow it to survive long enough to be improved.

By the way, I am a rural dweller. Some rural Canadians are quite outspoken in favour of killing the gun registry. They speak loudly but I do not think they speak for the majority of rural people. We register our cars, our boats and even our dogs. Why would we not agree to registering our deadly weapons?
I signed it with my real name and postal code. I got a CPC MP so maybe them Dippers'll just toss my email in the scrap pile along with the gun registry but I figgered it was at least worth a try.

If I coulda sent a picture, this'd be the one:

Hey, Mr. Goodwrench, how about a tune-up?


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Green Party Unity

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I spent the weekend at the Green Party convention down in the centre of the universe. I had the pleasure of meetin' Sylvie Lemieux, a gal from up Ottawa way who was lookin' to challenge Earth Mother Lizzie May fer the leadership of us treehuggin' Greenies. Sylvie ain't gonna get a chance to challenge Lizzie now or in the foreseeable future. Neither is anybody else, by the looks of it. Sylvie ain't bitter, though, an' I gotta admire her for that.

The party decided that we ain't ever gonna have a leadership race unless fewer than 60% of the members endorse the leader within six months after a federal election. Now, what we gotta remember here is that the folks who want a change of leadership or even them who just want a leadership contest are the selfsame disgruntled folks who ain't renewing their Green Party memberships. The ones who are happy with the status quo will stay put. The "meaningless" membership numbers may decline but sure as shit at least 60% the happy clams who don't quit are gonna endorse the leader.

So far, I ain't quittin' the Greens. I reckon when you support a party you can't be a hunnert percent's worth happy with every dang policy -- unless yer a rubber stamp without any mind of yer own. I reckon even if we did have a leadership contest, Lizzie would win it anyway so I'm gonna keep on doin' what us card-carryin' party members do: support the party leader. A couple policies got adopted that I ain't too happy with but it could be worse. I could be a Liberal. The Green Party leader's at least a small-g green.

I wanna share a press release that Sylvie Lemieux put out yesterday. It reflects the selfsame attitude I heard her express on the convention floor and in personal conversation.

Lemieux calls for united effort to elect Green MPs

Ottawa, Aug 23 – Green Party leadership hopeful Sylvie Lemieux would like to thank all Green Party members who supported her motion and proposed workshop amendment calling for the Green Party to respect the intent of its constitution by holding regular leadership contests, not leadership reviews.

“Its clear from the voting results, however, that the majority of members who participated in the online Bonser ballot and who attended the convention would prefer using a leadership review process and for the reviews to take place after each election,” she said. "We are a grassroots party and the members have spoken."

Lemieux will now turn her focus to preparing for the next election campaign. “Canadians are counting on the Green Party to be the conscience of the country,” she said. “I am ready, willing and able to do whatever I can to help move the party forward, in a united effort, to elect our first Green MPs to parliament.”

I'd say Sylvie's showin' determination, magnanimosity, good leadership an' she's showin' she's a good soldier. She's a former Lt. Colonel in the Canadian Forces, after all, an' I reckon she knows a thing or two about the chain of command. She told me that the leadership issue was a skirmish she lost but the war is to get Greens into Parliament an' help save the planet an' that war ain't over by a long shot.


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Ballad of Fake Lake - Updated with Video

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I posted up the lyrics yesterday an' now I got the audio-video with ol' JB screechin' an' a few pertinent pitchers.

The Ballad of Fake Lake

The legend lives on from Toronto on down
Of a six inch deep pond they call Fake Lake.
The lake, it is said, made the blue Cons turn red
When they realized they'd made such mistake.

With Muskoka chairs and canoes in the air
The fake lake was meant to thrill writers.
A pleasant surprise, there ain't no blackflies,
No mosquitoes or other skin biters.

Fake Lake was the pride of the Conservative side,
With fake loon songs and JumboTron pictures
Of real lakes and woods and handcrafted goods
And all the outdoors you could wish for.

Surrounded by concrete and security teams,
They relax by pool that's reflecting.
While they sip on free beer they need never fear
Uncouth Torontonians protesting.

They'll file their stories of promises made
That the G20 leaders had spoken.
But every man knew, as the leaders did, too,
Promises are made to be broken.

The dawn came early for the hungover scribes
And the G20 pow-wow had ended.
Outdoors they must go to the real world and so,
Reality's no longer suspended

Does anyone know where Steve Harper will go
The next time they hold a G20.
He'll be headed headed for Seoul, just another black hole
For wasting the taxpayers' money.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Ballad of Fake Lake (Edmund Fitzgerald)

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, ol' Susan Delacourt put up a twitterin' tweet how she'd like to see some new lyrics to ol' Gord Lightfoot's Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald with a theme all about the G20 Fake Lake. Since I got me a little experience in re-writin' that there song, I took up the challenge. Here it is:

Ballad of Fake Lake

The legend lives on from Toronto on down
Of a six inch deep pond they call Fake Lake
The lake, it is said, made the blue Cons turn red
When they realized they'd made such mistake.

With a Muskoka chairs and canoes in the air
The fake lake was meant to thrill writers
A pleasant surprise, there ain't no blackflies,
No mosquitoes or other skin biters.

Fake Lake was the pride of the Conservative side
With fake loon songs and JumboTron pictures
Of real lakes and woods and handcrafted goods
And all the outdoors you could wish for.

Surrounded by concrete and security teams
They relax by pool that's reflecting
While they sip on free beer they need never fear
Uncouth Torontonians protesting.

They'll file their stories of promises made
That the G20 leaders had spoken
But every man knew, as the leaders did, too,
Promises are made to be broken.

The dawn came early for the hungover scribes
And the G20 pow-wow had ended
Outdoors they must go to the real world and so
Reality's no longer suspended

Does anyone know where Steve Harper will go
The next time they hold a G20
He'll be headed headed for Seoul, just another black hole
For wasting the taxpayers' money.

I ain't got time to sing it an' make a MP3 right now on accounta I gotta cook the macaroni an' cheese fer Ma's supper. Maybe I'll get it recorded tomorrow.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Problem With Taxpayer Funded Social Media

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, the twitterverse and blogdom is finally sittin' up and takin' notice that our gummint is paying for favourable postings in various social media. There was a story on it over the weekend: Harper government monitoring online chats about politics. As Stageleft points out, the headline is somewhat misleading. The government is not only monitoring online opinion, they're jumping in and "correcting misinformation." Stageleft says he has no problems with the practice. I disagree.

I posted a bigass comment over at Stageleft and I'm recyclin' it here. Nobody is paying me to post my opinions, btw. I'm open to offers, though. If I'm paying for the government to hire a social media contractor to refute me, I may as well get paid, too.

Here's what I said at Stageleft:
Of course we know that the government and political parties monitor social media. I have no problem with that and, as you say, we want them to take notice of what we, the everyday citizen, is opining.

What I find very questionable is the use of tax dollars to refute opinions which the government has deemed "incorrect." Perhaps a government in bed with big oil thinks it is incorrect to criticize BP for deepwater drilling without a contingency disaster plan. Rand Paul recently stated that criticism of BP with regard to Gulf oilspill is "un-American".

Is criticism of our own tar sands un-Canadian? Do we want our criticisms challenged by bought-and-paid-for PR firms working not for the oil industry but for us? When we express our opinions on our own time, should we be footing the bill for some flak to be countering us?

There's also the issue of credibility. Next time a pro-Harper comment is posted here or on my blog or on Twitter or on Facebook, who could help but wonder if that comment is being paid for with tax dollars and doesn't even necessarily represent the true thinking of the individual whose job it is to spout the government line?

If I were a pro-CPC or pro-Harper tweep or blogger, I'd be a bit concerned that I'd be suspect of not being genuine in my postings but merely working for $XX per tweet on the taxpayer dime.

If private corporations want to hire paid tweeps or bloggers and do so anonymously (or pseudonymously) without any disclaimers, that's business using investor capital to promote its product. I have little problem with that sort of astroturfing and have come to expect as much.

It's when government uses my own money to refute me that I have a problem.

I'm starting to see a few blogs supporting the MPs rejection of Sheila Fraser's request for an audit. Are those bloggers being paid from the public purse to shield MP expenses from scrutiny? One can't help but wonder.

When governments surreptitiously plant the government position into social media -- on our dime -- we no longer have honest discussion. The paying of social media contractors to shape public opinion goes beyond publishing talking points for the faithful to parrot on their own time, at their own expense.

Again, I have no problem with party staffers, company employees, paid PR firms pushing their agenda via social media. When it's done at public expense, however, it crosses a line much like the line crossed when Helena Guergis's staffers wrote letters of support to editors. It dilutes genuine public opinion to the detriment of social media.
Before anyone bothers arguing or refuting anything I just said, be warned: I will be able to accuse you of being a bought-and-paid-for flak spouting the line you're being paid to spout.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

MP Expenses Scandal: Grassroots Outrage or Media Invention

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I like the discussions that take place over at Steve V's Far and Wide. They're mostly Grits but they tolerate my Green-tinged rants and the partisanship doesn't permeate the conversation as much as on some other blogs. The topic on everybody's tongue these days is the MP expenses issue. Steve figgers the dang media's blown it all out of proportion and he's got hisself boog on that idea today.

I disagree with Steve and I just spent a few minutes blatherin' on (and on) about it. I'm recyclin' that comment here.

We all gave the MSM proper shit for failing to seize upon the prorogation issue. Their excuse was that they didn't think the public was politically astute enough to grasp the nuances of parliamentary protocol. They were wrong and they ended up admitting as much.

You don't have to be too politically astute to understand expense account sleaze, though. The issue comes hot on the heels of the UK's MP expenses scandal with homegrown provincial counterparts in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. The MSM doesn't have to wonder whether or not the public understands. We get it and they know it.

While I agree there are similarities between this issue and prorogation, there are major differences. Prorogation was all about ducking responsibility for the handing over of Afghan detainees to torture. I am one of those who have been on top of that issue for years but I know very well that it fails to strike a chord with many Canadians.

The A-G issue is all about money --- our money. Despite the fact that the amount pales in comparison to what we've squandered on an unwinnable and immoral war, it hits us close to home.

WRT the Facebook thing, there could be a couple of mitigating factors. First, the very fact that the MSM IS all over this issue makes it seem less important for individuals to get personally involved. This time around, the media is not ignoring the issue and perhaps would-be Facebook group members are sitting back and allowing the media to do its job and push for disclosure.

Secondly, the first and largest Facebook group is the creation of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, considered by many to be a right-wing lobby group. The anti-prorogation group was the creation of a non-partisan student and was truly a grassroots effort.

Perhaps partisanship is the biggest difference here. With prorogation, it was everyone against the ruling Conservatives. They only got 38% of the votes, after all. 62% voted against them and were not happy with the affront to democracy. There weren't too many card-carrying CPCers out on the streets on January 23. There were plenty of Liberals, Dippers and Greens.

In the expenses issue, highly partisan citizens -- card-carrying party members from all parties -- may be holding back. Ignatieff hasn't endorsed the protest. Neither has Layton. In fact, they are the ones we are protesting against, along with the Harper Conservatives. When the party faithful are being told that this isn't an issue by the party leaders and nearly every MP, party members are not too likely to join a Facebook group or take to the streets.

When the 4 parties finally struck a deal on the detainee documents, it was big news. The parties in this hitherto fractious parliament had been able to reach an agreement. The media was a bit surprised by the fact, as were many voters. Getting to the bottom of the torture allegations was secondary in the reportage. The all-party agreement on a divisive issue was the big story.

Jump ahead a couple weeks and there's parliamentary unanimity on another issue: MP expenses. Why shouldn't that be newsworthy? When the MPs solidarity is contrasted with the public's diametrically opposite solidarity, it's news.

Poll after poll after poll has found the MPs to be entirely out of step with public opinion. That's news and the media would be remiss in failing to report it. Remember, we faulted them severely for failing to pick up on the outrage around prorogation. Do they want to be accused of being out of touch yet again?

There is a big difference between journalists' expense accounts and MPs expense accounts. The MPs are spending our money. The MPs are our employees. The MPs are public servants. The MPs pledged accountability and transparency and we elected them and gave them our confidence. Abuse may be commonplace in every workplace but in this particular workplace, we are the employers. We have every right to see the books and we have every right to be outraged when MPs band together across party lines to hide them from us.

If we lose confidence in the media, we can quit buying newspapers. If we lose confidence in MPs of every party, we can live with it until the next election at which time we can choose between tweedle-crook and tweedle-crookeder.

Scandals are news. Scandal sell papers. So what? Would we rather bury our heads in the sand? There's a bigger scandal brewing regarding the detainees and I relish the moment that the media grabs it and runs with it. Crimes against expense accounts are scandalous, sure. War crimes and crimes against humanity are more scandalous and I won't fault the media for delving into such a scandal -- even if their motivation is to sell more papers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Green Party Calls for MPs to Open Expenses to Auditor-General

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, Earth Mother Lizzie May put out a press release this morning and she's on the money a hunnert percent's worth, sez I.

Greens call for transparency

17 May 2010 - 10:26am

The Green Party of Canada pledges full support for the Auditor General in her bid to increase the transparency of MPs' spending habits. Greens are calling for the release to the Auditor General of the last 10 years of MP expenses.

"The Green Party of Canada fully supports the Auditor General having a mandate to oversee MP expenses," said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. "The Canadian public deserves accountability for the half billion dollars MPs spend every year. The fact that MPs are afraid to have Sheila Fraser examine their accounts suggests that it is probably long overdue."

Provincial governments and the government of Britain have been rocked by government spending scandals in recent years, adding to the disillusionment of citizens and mistrust of politicians.

"Given the declining voting record in this country, Parliament should be doing everything possible to encourage public trust and engagement in democracy," said May.

According to the Toronto Star, a Leger Marketing poll showed 88% of Canadians would like a deeper examination of politicians' expense accounts. Currently, details of any spending by MPs and senators are kept secret.

"For someone who campaigned on transparency, Prime Minister Harper is failing miserably," said May. "Shame on the Liberals and the NDP for agreeing that the public doesn't deserve to know how their tax money is being spent."

Dang right!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

JimBobby Sings "Hey There, Guergis Girl"

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I ain't been boogin' too much lately but I got me a new song that I just posted up on the YouTube an' it's all about pore little Helena Guergis: Hey There, Guergis Girl.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Harper (once again) displays dangerous ignorance on nuclear file

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, Pryminister Harper was up on his hindlegs yammerin' about nuclear safety an' how Canada's gonna help save the world by sendin' 50% of our stockpile of highly enriched uranium (HEU, i.e. weapons-grade uranium) over to the USA.

In fairness, Harper did mention that he's not an expert with regard to nuclear technology. That, however, does not excuse the PM from making hugely inaccurate statements or from committing Canada to a course of action which could have disastrous consequences for future generations.

Harper was somewhat unclear about why we are only returning 50% of our stockpile but he was unequivocal (condescending, even) when he stated that 'Of course, we don't use highly enriched uranium for reactor fuel anymore.'

Wrong, again, Mr. Nuclear Physicist. The Chalk River NRU that makes medical isotopes does, indeed, use HEU as its fuel.

But, Harper may actually be partly correct. Thanks to years of mismanagement and the fact that it is about 10 years past its projected decommissioning date, the Chalk River reactor is out of service, so Harper may be technically correct that we aren't using HEU. The leaky reactor is undergoing a major repair job and is expected to limp back into service, possibly in June.

It is hard to believe that Harper is unaware that Canada has special dispensation under a side agreement to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that enables us to purchase weapons-grade uranium to fuel Chalk River. The issue made news in January when AECL ordered a fresh supply of HEU from the US.

While Harper's ignorance (or obfuscation) is a serious enough problem, the fact that Canada is returning used fuel to the country of origin is very significant, precedent setting... and foreboding. Under terms of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), all used nuclear fuel is to be repatriated to the country of origin. This is a big deal.

Canada is the world's second largest producer of Uranium (behind Australia) and the world's biggest exporter of uranium. Absurd as it sounds, the GNEP calls for used nuclear fuel that originally came from Canada to be returned to Canada. In case anyone is not aware, used nuclear fuel is 1000x more radioactive than unused fuel and must be kept in a secure location until it becomes harmless. That will take approximately 250,000 years. Quite a long term commitment with which our PM is saddling countless future generations of Canadians!

Canada's Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has only just begun looking for a suitable and willing host location for a Canadian nuclear waste repository. If the repository is ever built, it is designed to handle waste from the increasingly small number of Canadian nuclear power plants generating waste. How are we supposed to handle the thousands of tonnes of radioactive, toxic waste that could be returned to us under terms of the GNEP?

Canada: Energy Superpower or America's Nuclear Waste Dump?


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Good News! Gordon Lightfoot Lives!

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I had a tribute post up here when I heard that a great Canadian, Gordon Lightfoot, had died. It was all over Twitter and was in some big news outlets, too. I ain't kiddin' when I say I had tears runnin' down my face when I posted that RIP tribute but now The news is that it wasn't true. Glad to hear it.

In case anybody thinks I published on the basis of rumour only, here's what I saw in the Calgary Herald.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Harper's Haiti Trip - Please, MSM, Don't Go. Don't Take Photos

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, Pryminister Harper is off to Haiti today. The official announcements say he's going there to assess the relief effort. Over at Steve V's Far and Wide, there's a lot of skepticism and at least one commenter who says Harper's visit will bolster troop morale.

Surprise visits to troops deployed in faraway locales is a trademark of tinpot heroes like Dick Cheney. I wonder where Harper got the idea he could bolster the troops -- and maybe his sagging poll numbers -- by paying a surprise visit?

Two years ago, Haitians were rioting for food and eating dirt patties to fill their empty bellies.

The food shortage was spurred by high commodities prices which the World Bank attributed mainly to biofuels. Canada was riding high on a crest of grain prices and federal and provincial "environmental" policies mandated 5% - 10% ethanol content for motor fuel. Harper and McGuinty denied the effect of their policies on world markets while thousands starved.

Today, the situation is compounded by the quake. Desperate reports from those on the ground are revealing a situation where food and water are stockpiled and people are starving.

They don't need Stephen Harper or Angelina Jolie or John Travolta scrambling for self-serving photo-ops. Harper can manage things just as well from Ottawa or Vancouver. If the troops need bolstering, he can do it via video link.

What are Harper's qualifications regarding the delivery of disaster relief? Do his medical qualifications go beyond his expertise in nuclear medicine? Where was he when they were eating dirt?

Haiti is headed for more grief. Their planting season begins in March and by all accounts, they need seeds, fertilizer, agricultural equipment and expertise to avert yet another round of starvation and desperation. Yet, little of this type of aid is reaching Haiti.

The first reports of Harper's trip said he would be sleeping inside the Canadian embassy and reporters should be prepared to sleep in tents outside the building. After a bit of negative reaction to the photo op started cropping up, the PMO quickly came out with new details. Harper will be flying in on an aid transport plane (read: white horse) and sleeping aboard a Canadian battleship anchored offshore.

Just how high does Haiti really rank in Harper's priorities? We have more troops serving as security detail for the Olympics than we have serving in Afghanistan. We have more than twice as many in Afghanistan as we have in Haiti.

If only our pandering news media would simply refuse to send anyone to cover this obvious play for approval. If only...


(Most of this post was originally written as a comment at Far and Wide.)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Bombshell! Forces Downplaying Canadian Afghan War Casualties

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, there's an old saying that the first casualty of war is the truth. Sadly, that adage is proving to be accurate with regard to the Canadian Forces' release of information on casualties in the Afghanistan conflict. The Hill Times is reporting this morning that the number of returning troops on disability is up to ten times higher than what has been reported by the Canadian Forces.
More than 6,000 Canadian Forces members and discharged veterans who are receiving physical or psychiatric disability benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada have either served in Afghanistan or have a disability that has been related to their service in Afghanistan, the department says.
The Forces have been telling us that the number wounded in Afghanistan is 529. 529 wounded Canadians would be bad enough but when the real number is more than 6000, the figure quoted by the Canadian Forces is an all-out assault on the truth.

A few weeks ago, I posted up an audio blog where I sang a song by Tom Paxton that decried the psychological toll we exact upon our young people when we send them off to war. Today, when I read the Hill Times article, the poignancy of that song came back to haunt me again.

It's bad enough when we are forced into a war and must fight for our way of life and our very survival. In Afghanistan, we are fighting to support a fraudulently elected Hamid Karzai and his gang of warlords, opium merchants, bribe-takers and torturers. We've sacrificed the lives of 139 Canadians to an unworthy cause with unworthy allies.

Now, we find out that the wounded number far more than we were led to believe.

When I was a boy in the 1950's my WWII veteran dad would sometimes point out one of what he referred to as the "walking wounded". We'd see them on the street, often wearing a ragged military uniform and holding out a cup, begging for a handout from those for whom they sacrificed their sanity. My grandfather was a WWI Vimy vet. His name for the walking wounded was "shell shocked."

Today, we have a new name for the same problem. We call it "post traumatic stress disorder" or PTSD. When a loved one is killed in action it is a tragedy with a certain amount of closure, honour and solemn dignity. When a loved one sacrifices his or her sanity and mental well-being it is an ongoing, festering sore that rips apart families and continues to take physical, mental and financial tolls on the individuals, their families and society, in general.

The very least we should be able to expect is a truthful accounting of the numbers of troops who are suffering as a result of this misguided mission. We all bear the costs... and the shame.


(h/t to zippyFX on Twitter)

Friday, February 05, 2010

It's All About Torture. Don't Let Anyone Forget.

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, Steve over at Far and Wide has a post about the polls and how bad ol' King Steve is doin' an' is the trend gonna continue. I left a bigass comment there an' I'm saving' energy by recycling that comment here.

We all saw the pundits come out wrong, wrong, wrong on the expected reaction to prorogation. Now, I've heard a few of 'em say that once the HOC resumes sitting, the prorogation issue will fall off the map. Maybe it'll be another swing and miss for the pundidiots. Maybe not.

If the prorogation outrage and backlash is to survive, we will need to show exactly how much work went down the tubes. How long will it take to get the legislative agenda back to where it was before the December break? How long before committees are reconstituted and back to where they were pre-prorogue?

If, as a small number believe, the budget triggers an election, how much work will be lost and, importantly, who will take the blame?

My own advice on this is that the public needs to be kept acutely aware that ducking the Afghan detainee issue was the primary reason Harper rolled the dice... and crapped out. So far, so good on that with the committee sitting.

The committee, however, is getting too bogged down in questions of privilege and protocol vis-a-vis the unreleased documents. The facts as reported by NGO spokespersons are that the current agreement is failing to do what it was intended to do. While they play cat and mouse with the document issue, detainees are not being monitored as required on paper and they ARE being tortured... now.

I think many voters see the power play over documents as politics -- parliamentary procedural wrangling done more for partisan gain than for truth-gathering. We know the truth. We've always known it. Detainees we hand over to the Afghans are abused. That fact can be clearly illustrated without the gamesmanship.

Despite some of the callous and uninformed comments I read in MSM comment threads, I truly believe most Canadians are repulsed by torture and are ashamed of any suggestion that our country was complicit in detainee abuse. If they are made to see that we are STILL complicit in ongoing abuse, we will achieve something. That "something" that we must be striving for is a cessation of torture by our allies -- Afghan or American.

Though we can show that abuse continues and we can demand it cease, the reality is that we have little power over such matters. Secret detention centres and denial of monitoring rights precludes our ability to wash our hands.

What to do? Either we quit handing over detainees altogether or we quit Afghanistan altogether.

Ignatieff made some encouraging comments a few days ago regarding the legitimacy of our support for the fraudulently elected Karzai and his gang of warlords, opium merchants and torturers. This theme will resonate; especially, when coupled with the message that the current transfer agreement is failing to prevent torture.

Human decency will prevail.


Monday, February 01, 2010

JimBobby Sings Again: "Do the Prorogation"

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, last night when Ma an' I was out walkin' the dogs, I made up some new lyrics to an old tune. Little Eva was the original, I think. The Beach Boys done it, too. I reckon they're better singers than ol' JB but their lyrics is kinda outta date. I made a little video an' posted it up on You Tube. Here it is:

Here's the words in case somebody wants to do it with a half-decent singer an' maybe a little back-up instrumentation.

Do the Prorogation

Stephen Harper's doin' a crazy dance now,
Come on Stevie, do the prorogation...
He thought no one was lookin' so he took a big chance now,
Come on Stevie, do the prorogation...

He's got a Governor General who's his partner in crime,
She let him get away with it a second time,
So come on, come on, do the prorogation with Steve...

Never mind the hypocrisy,
When you attack our democracy...
Well he's really got the knack,
Woah woah...

Lettin' Afghans torture Afghans now that was his intention,
Come on Stevie, do the prorogation...
He doesn't give a crap about Geneva Conventions,
Come on Stevie, do the prorogation...

He's lookin' warm and fuzzy in his sweater vest,
Lockin' out the opposition and liberal press,
So come on, come on, do the prorogation with Steve...

Oh yeah...
Do the prorogation...
Kill your legislation...
Yay, yay, yay, yeah...

He's got the people riled up across the nation,
Come on Stevie, do the prorogation...
By givin' his MP's an extended vacation,
Come on Stevie, do the prorogation...

He thought his little trick would be easy to do,
An apathetic public is so easy to screw,
So come on, come on, do the prorogation with Steve...

Never mind the hypocrisy,
When you attack our democracy...
Well he's really got the knack,
Woah woah...

Stephen Harper's doin a crazy dance now,
Come on Stevie, do the prorogation...
He thought no one was lookin' so he took a big chance now,
Come on Stevie, do the prorogation...

Shut down the committees. They can start up later,
Who needs the House of Commons when we've got a dictator,
So come on, come on, do the prorogation with Steve...
Come on, come on, do the prorogation with Steve...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Three-Way Pissing Contest Keeps Harper on the Throne

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I reckon my immodest proposal will attract some mud but here goes...

I just came from reading a blog post by a Dipper who used his first five paragraphs to trash Ignatieff before giving a nod to Layton for taking the high road and welcoming Ignatieff's support and expressing a willingness to work together on limiting the PM's prorogation powers. Ironic? Maybe. Counterproductive? Absolutely.

If we ever want to rid our country of the Harper dictatorship, the opposition parties will need to work together. If we want the public at large to accept a perfectly legal and constitutionally valid coalition, multi-partisan cooperation will need to extend from the top to the bottom and back up to the top again. Partisan sniping only demonstrates that the opposition would be unable to work together in a coalition.

Here's the radical proposal. There are a great many ridings where the three-way split between Greens, Liberals and New Democrats ushers in a minority victory by the Conservatives. Various strategic voting initiatives have emerged attempting to deal with the inherent unfairness of our first past the post (FPTP) electoral system. Since the Conservatives are still in power, it would be logical to assume that these strategic voting efforts have not been effective.

I propose a comprehensive top level agreement between the LPC, NDP and GPC. In ridings where vote splitting has allowed the CPC to elect an MP without a 50% majority, the parties should enter into non-compete agreements whereby the CPC candidate faces only one serious opponent.

How to choose which party will run a candidate in which riding? The simplest way would be to look at the last election results and have the 3rd and 4th place finishers step aside.

Why include the Greens, one might ask? Well, if we're aiming to eliminate vote-splitting among anti-Conservative parties, the Greens are a definite factor. Greens garnered more than 9% of the popular vote in 2008 and should at least run unopposed by LPC and NDP candidates in 9% of the available ridings.

It won't be enough for the 3rd and 4th place parties to simply bow out, though. They must endorse and work for the chosen banner carrier, regardless of which banner they carry. That will be difficult for hyper-partisans like a certain dead horse and plenty of Liberals and Greens. The benefits, in my opinion, would outweigh the obstacles.

Such a plan must be openly and honestly presented to the voter as a coalition. If the coalition is successful -- and I really believe it could be -- it must provide for a proportional cabinet that includes members of all three cooperating parties.

Of course, my back-of-a-napkin plan has some obvious drawbacks. Died-in-the-wool Dippers, Grits and Greenies may well refuse to vote at all if they cannot vote for their favoured party. Some may even vote Conservative rather than vote Liberal, Green or NDP. So be it.

Where does the Bloc fit in? Mostly, it doesn't. My proposal is about doing what's best for Canada. The Bloc is interested only in doing what's best for Quebec. If non-compete agreements in Quebec ridings would elect non-Bloc, non-Conservative MP's, good. Bringing the BQ into the non-compete agreements would be counterproductive in TROC and play into the CPC's hands by including the rotten separatists in the deal.

A coalition can be quite reflective of the voters' wants and needs. Solid cooperation from the top down by way of strategic non-compete agreements can serve to demonstrate to the voters that the ABC parties are capable of working together to get elected. If they can work together to get elected, they can work together to run the country.

Okay. There it is, hyper-partisans, naysayers and hacks. Unleash your vitriol and prove it can't be done.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Tools, Fools and Making Rules

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I was just listenin' to The Current on CBC radio. Some dumbass apologist for Dictator Harper was spoutin' the same old crappola I been hearin' over an' over.

Prorogation has been done 104 times before so what's the problem now?

Prorogation is a tool in the parliamentary toolbox. I know a little bit about tools and toolboxes. Up until about 10 years ago, I spent 25 years as a self-employed tradesman. I pounded nails for a living most of my adult life.

Like prorogation, a hammer is a tool. It was the first tool I learned how to use and I've used a hammer a lot more than 104 times. I've never used a hammer to assault anyone, though. Harper has used the prorogation tool to assault accountability and crucify democracy.

Like any tool, prorogation can be used as it was intended or it can be abused. We don't need to outlaw hammers to stop people from hammering somebody's brains out. We have rules (laws) against assault and those laws apply to assaults with hammers, knives, staplers (!) and any other tool.

What we don't seem to have, though, is a law that prevents the abuse of prorogation. Jack Layton has proposed the implementation of some sort of rule that would prevent the misuse of prorogation. In his speech to the pro-democracy rally in Ottawa Saturday, Michael Ignatieff voiced support for parliamentary restrictions on the use of prorogation.

Let's get some rules to stop any PM from using prorogation to nail democracy to a cross.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Toronto Rally Videos

Here's a little clip I did. More blogging on the rally later.

Here's some more...

Takin' it to the street. "Listen to the nation! Stop the prorogation!"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

See You in Toronto on Saturday - CAPP

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I'm gonna ride the train to Trawna on Satuday for the big Pro-Democracy Rally. It's always nice to meet up with fellow progressives but I figger there'll be a pretty big crowd an' I could be standin' right next to one o' my boogin' buddies or twitterin' tweeps without knowin' it.

I'll be wearin' a army green parka and I'll have this here name card pinned on:

If you spot me among the multitudes, tap me on the shoulder an' say hello.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wanna win, Ignatieff? Here's how.

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I'm a card carryin' Greenie but I'm gonna offer some free advice to the Grits an' Ignatieff. I'm so ancient that Harry Truman was president when I was born. Truman had a few famous quotes. His most famous was, "The buck stops here."

Truman also spoke about leadership: "Find a parade and get out in front of it."

There's a big parade marching up and down Main Street, Canada. It's the anti-prorogation parade. So far, Ignatieff hasn't capitalized on anti-prorogue sentiment effectively, if at all. Voters are rejecting prorogation by an increasingly wide margin. Time to lead, Mr. Leader.

My advice is for Iggy: make an unequivocal statement that, if elected, the Grits will put and end to prorogation, once and for all. Granted, Ignatieff has said he wouldn't abuse the mechanism as Harper has done but that does not go nearly far enough. He ought to solemnly promise to do away with the mechanism altogether.

Recent polls have shown the CPC losing ground in a big way. That loss is entirely due to Harper's misreading of public sentiment on prorogation and on the underlying reason for this prorogation: the Afghan detainee issue. The Liberals have not taken the opportunity to score points. They've merely stood by and watched the CPC throw away points. That is not leadership. It's not even getting out in front of the parade.

With a platform plank that promises no more prorogues, ever, by any future government, Ignatieff could ride the crest of this wave of discontent all the way to Sussex Drive.