Friday, March 28, 2008

Sniffin' in the Winter Wonderland

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I've had my fill o' snow this winter. I was hopin' the snow was done fer the year. Partly on accounta all the dang shovelin' but mostly so's ol' Spot would have a few months to fergit this new obsession he's gotten into. Seems he's got a footprint fetish.

But dang it all, it was snowin' again when I went to bed last night an' I had to push some of it around this mornin'. After I cleared some sidewalks, I took ol' Spot down to the soybean field. It sure was a beauty-full sight with that snow all stuck to the trees.

I took a couplafew pitchers. Here's one I kinda like:
Here's one of the same place with ol' Spot backtrackin'.
Ol' Spot's got me a bit worried. Border Collies is kinda known fer obsessive compulsive behaviour. Up til a coupla weeks ago, Spot was pretty much normal. Then one day, he all of a sudden started in with some obsessive sniffin' at the snow. At first, I thought he was on the scent of some critter. What I've since discovered is that he's become obsessed with the scent of his own footprints.

When he gets into the obsessive sniffin', he don't listen to anything. He won't do stuff he's known how to do fer years, like "sit" "come" "stay" "fetch the stick/ball/frisbee." He's like a cat on catnip when he's on his own trail. Worse yet, when he's backtrackin' an' sniffin' his own tracks, he's makin' new tracks an' he starts sniffin' them, too. I reckon that's called a positive feedback loop.

I been doin' my best to discourage the obsessive sniffin'. He's startin' to respond to "No sniff!" We had a coupla wrestlin' matches out in the snow over it an' he's not so oblivious to me when I'm givin' him some basic commands. I did some googlin' lookin' fer other dogs who maybe was similarly afflicted but I didn't find nuthin'. Nobody I know's ever heard of this sorta nuttiness, neither.

Yesterday, there weren't too much snow left in the beanfield an' he didn't get into any obsessive sniffin' on the bare ground. Fer the sake o' Spot's an' my mental health, I'm hopin' fer a big melt soon.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Earth Hour: Lay Down Your Weapons for a 60 Minute Truce

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I ain't much of a churchgoer an' I ain't even a believer but I was marched off to Sunday School an' church up til I was about 18 an' left the family home. I don't reckon my Presbyterian upbringin' done too much irreparable harm.

One thing I remember is some o' the hymns an' songs they sing. Not long ago, I was pressed into service playin' my squeezebox one Sunday at the local United Church. They sang a hymn I remembered from somewheres -- "Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me."

I ain't gonna bother lookin' up the author or composer or whatever. What's important is there's a dang good message there.

If you want somethin', you need to work at it -- personally.

Right now, the human race is at war with ol' Mother Earth. We're rapin' an' pillagin' an' there ain't a soul among us who's readin' this electronic rantfest who ain't part of humanity's war on Mother Earth.

The Earth Hour campaign is askin' us to call a brief truce in our war against the planet that nourishes us. The Earth Hour deal is to turn off all your electrical stuff between 8:00 PM and 9:00 PM on Saturday night, March 29. Lay down your weapons for 60 minutes. Then, back to the senseless matricide.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tundra Swans on Long Point Bay

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, yesterday I helped the little Polish uphlosterin' gal deliver some furniture down to Long Point. I took the little camera on accounta there's always some wildlife to see on these trips. Last time we headed that direction, we seen a bigass flock o' wild turkeys and a bald eagle.

Yesterday, we seen hunnerts an' hunnerts o' tundra swans settin' on the open water in the Inner Bay. Here's pitcher of a few of 'em.

Here's a close up from that pitcher:

We got our asses chased off some private property while I was takin' these pitchers so I didn't try to get any closer.

These swans come through every year but it's always a big thrill to see 'em. Leastwise, fer this ol' treehugger.

Here's a map of where we were.

View Larger Map

Long Point is a World Biosphere Reserve.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

19% Voter Turnout - Shame, Shame, Shame

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I was watching the TV coverage of the by-elections last night and I seen that a paltry 19% of eligible voters bothered exercising their democratic right and doing their democratic duty.

Voting is not simply a privilege. It is a responsibility.

New Canadians who pass the citizenship test and take the Oath of Citizenship are educated about their responsibilities and duties.

Citizenship responsibilities

All Canadian citizens have the responsibility to

  • vote in elections;
  • help others in the community;
  • care for and protect our heritage and environment;
  • obey Canada’s laws;
  • express opinions freely while respecting the rights and freedoms of others; and
  • eliminate discrimination and injustice.

At a time when Canadians are sacrificing their lives trying to create a democracy in Afghanistan, failure to get off your ass for a half an hour and perform your duty is unconscionable.

I am truly ashamed of the 81% of so-called Canadians who failed to do their duty yesterday.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Georgia Straight Endorses Green in Vancouver By-election

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, the very progressive Georgia Straight has endorsed Green Party candidate Dan Grice in Monday's federal by-election in Vancouver Quadra.
A vote for Grice will send a message to every federal party that it’s time for a carbon tax. A vote for Grice will strengthen Green party leader Elizabeth May’s sensible argument that she should be allowed to participate in the televised federal leaders’ debates before the next general election. A vote for Grice will announce to the country that the first-past-the-post system is an anachronism that undermines democracy and public participation. A vote for Grice will warn New Democrats that they should work cooperatively with environmentalists rather than engaging in drive-by smears.

Finally, a vote for Grice will reward a young man who has worked extremely hard and sacrificed making money because he wants to save the planet. Isn’t this a good enough reason for anyone who lives in Vancouver Quadra to make the relatively minor effort of visiting a polling station on Monday and placing an X on the ballot?

Yeow! The usually Dipper mag had some harsh words for the NDP.

The NDP too often practises politics as if it’s an exclusive club. And if you’re not a member of its club, the NDP sometimes won’t work with you. Witness the NDP’s eagerness to attack Liberals, often more vehemently than Conservatives. It is a dangerous attitude in light of the magnitude of the challenges posed by climate change. It helps explain why the federal party has sometimes done a poor job of reaching out to some immigrant communities and people of colour in Vancouver.

Yeah, I've noticed that the NDP seems to lash out against any and all non-NDPers. That attitude just might be costing them support. We're gonna be in a minority government situation as long as the BQ maintains even half of its current strength. Canadians need parliamentarians who can work together. Of course, it can go too far. Dion has taken working together to an obscene level.

I reckon it's a dang good thing we got some NDP MP's working to try an' stop the CPC-LPC coalition government. A few Green MP's fightin' alongside wouldn't be a bad thing, sez I. That is, if the Dippers would allow anybody to be on their side. Now that the Cons and Grits are a team, maybe the Dippers'll be more willin' to team up with us treehuggers once in a while.

Speakin' of the by-election, Chris Tindal's doin' good against Bob Rae. The CBC puts it as a race between Tindal and Rae.(MP3) The Dipper El-Farouk Khaki sounds like he's a nice, friendly feller. He an' Chris Tindal have hugged 5 times. Tindal an' Bob Rae only hugged once and the snootytoot Con candidate never even hugged Chris once.


Burying Our Heads in Afghan Sand

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I just left a bigass comment over to the Globe an' Mail on a story about the Afghan detainees. I've ranted more than once about the detainee issue but it's in the news again and I'm rantin' again. I'm recyclin' most of my G&M comment here on my own little boog.

60%-70% of prisoners handed over to Afghan authorities are only held only briefly before they are able to bribe their way out of jail. See:

Q: Why do we fail to follow up on detainees to make sure they do not pay $20 and go back to the Taliban front lines?

A: We are so afraid of confirming that we are in violation of international law that we look the other way while two crimes are committed: bribery and torture.

Q: Why have we given in to Afghan demands that we resume detainee transfers?

A: Afghan soldiers and police only make $4 a day. They need the bribes to survive. Bribery has been an integral part of the Afghan economy for centuries. If we keep the detainees or follow up on their treatment, Afghan soldiers and police lose the opportunity for much needed extra cash.

Many so-called Taliban who are delivered for bounty to NATO forces are not Taliban at all. Tribal and family rivalries routinely see Afghans kidnapped for ransom or turned over to NATO, then by NATO to Afghans. From there, the age old system of bribery, pay-offs and torture goes into effect.

Before 9/11, the Taliban and the Northern Alliance were in a civil war. Neither Taliban nor Northern Alliance are concerned with human rights. The Taliban was able to seize power precisely because of the abuses of the warlords who we've helped restore to power. We are simply taking the side of one group of thugs over another.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a warlord-ruled narco state that operates with Sharia Law enshrined in its brand new constitution. No Canadian should have to put his or her life on the line for these tyrants and drug dealers.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bob Rae Spouts Misinformation in By-election Debate

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, treehuggin' Greenie Chris Tindal oughta be havin' hisself a laff an' a haff at the expense of the Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae. Chris is runnin' against Bob Rae in Toronto Centre ( that's the centre of the centre of the universe). Last night at a candidates' debate, Bob Rae interupted Chris Tindal when Chris correctly said Canada has military officers serving alongside the Merkins in EyeRack.

Here's how Chris tells it:
While answering a question last night at the St. Lawrence debate, I mentioned that it’s important for us to realize that there are currently Canadian military officers serving in Iraq as part of the American command. Bob Rae interrupted me to object adamantly, almost angrily. “No there aren’t!”

Yes, I said, there are. “No there aren’t,” Mr. Rae said again. “They’re part of our military exchange program,” I explained. (I’m paraphrasing from memory for now, but will be able to check the tape later and will post the video when I can.) Strangely, Mr. Rae demanded I tell him where in Iraq our officers were stationed, as if my inability to do so would prove they weren’t there.

At that point, seeing no immediate resolution to our disagreement, I moved on with the rest of my answer. Today, however, having confirmed that I was correct, I’m quite taken aback that Mr. Rae could have been so misinformed about our military’s exchange program with the United States and our direct involvement in the war in Iraq. It’s made worse by the fact that Mr. Rae isn’t just any Liberal candidate: he’s the party’s foreign affairs critic.
(There's more...)

Anybody who's been keepin' track already knew we've had guys in the JTF2 in EyeRack fer years. It's dang disappointin' to hear about Bobby Rae shootin' his mouth off on somethin' he don't know about. I'd like to see Bobby publicly apologize fer interruptin' Chris when Chris was right and Rae was wrong.

The Liberals put Canadian soldiers in Iraq and in Afghanistan. They caved in to Con pressure and agreed to extend the Afghan mission by 2 more senseless years. Doesn't Bob Rae even know what his chosen party has got us into?


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Environment Commissioner Puts Neck on Line

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, Canada's Environment Commissioner just put out a scathing report and he ain't happy with all this talkin' the talk without much walkin' the walk. He says we know dang well what we oughta do and we've agreed to do it. The only thing is, we haven't followed up on what we've set out to do. And nobody seems to care.

Lip service being paid to environment: report

Globe and Mail Update

OTTAWA — Successive Canadian governments have paid lip service to keeping international environment agreements and greening their own operations but little progress is actually being made, Canada's Environment Commissioner said in a scathing report released Thursday.

The 2008 Status Report of Commissioner Ron Thompson revisits 14 key environmental concerns that were the subjects of previous studies and finds that corrective action has been unsatisfactory in nine of those areas.

“The government did not follow through on its own commitments to strengthen the protection of the environment,” said Mr. Thompson.

“I believe that the federal government should lead by example, both in terms of how environmental issues are managed and in terms of greening its own operations.” But he said, his findings “paint a disappointing picture.”

A major concern highlighted by Mr. Thompson is the lack of commitment to protect Canada's most threatened ecosystems and species at risk.

For instance, after agreeing more than 20 years ago that 17 environmentally degraded areas around the Great Lakes had to be cleaned, only two locations have been removed from that list – and it is unclear who is responsible for carrying out the remedial action on the remainder, who will pay for it, and what time frames are anticipated.

But it is the inability of federal departments to follow through on the government's own directives that are perhaps most indicative of the inattentive attitude on the part of government that the Commissioner repeatedly alludes to in his report.

While the federal cabinet decreed 17 years ago that all new policies and programs must be assessed to determine their impact on the environment, the Commissioner found that only three of 12 departments were fully complying.

Pretty bad, sez I. Sounds like there oughta be some serious action from the PM. This here Ron Thompson got the commissioner job after the HarpoonTossers fired Johanne Gelinas. Gelinas got fired right after she tabled a scathing report. I reckon Harper's got hisself another Environment Commissioner to fire. I ain't sure they'll be able to label Thompson as a Liberal appointee shit disturber.

They need to keep firin' these commissioners until they get one that understands that politics takes precedence over science and expediency takes precedence over diligence. Firin' successive commissioners has the added bonus of stalling any real action. It's a positive feedback loop.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Ezra Levant Implicates Doug Finley in CadScam

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I just seen an article over in the National Post by Ezra Levant. Ol' Ezra tells us about what great men of character we have in Stephen Harper and Tom Flanagan. He relates how he was pressured to step aside in Calgary Southwest back in 2002. Levant had the nomination in the bag but Harper needed a safe Alberta riding. According to Ezra, they never hinted at any bribes. He said he was expecting some sort of offer, but it never came.

Okay, so we all believe Dona Cadman and her family when they say a one million dollar offer was made. Nobody seems to be trying to dispute that anymore. Ezra informs us that neither Harper nor Flanagan are morally bankrupt enough to make such an offer. The only two people who could have made the offer are Flanagan and Finley. If it wasn't Flanagan, it had to be Finley. Thanks for narrowing it down, Ezra.

Here's some of Ezra's article:
Stepping aside would be a painful concession for anyone to make, but it was even more so in my situation. I had started campaigning full-time for the nomination nine months earlier, recruited over 1,000 new supporters and had spent more than $250,000 on my campaign. Giving up a sure-fire entry to Parliament was tough enough; writing off nearly a year's work and a fortune was even tougher.
So as it became clear that a conflict over Calgary Southwest was coming, we put out feelers to Flanagan to see what consideration might be offered should I step aside. Would my nomination expenses be covered? Would I receive a paid position with the party? Would my personal debts be paid? Such crass inquiries were all but ignored by Flanagan, even as an embarrassing clash between us loomed in the media. In purely pragmatic terms, Flanagan had every incentive to give me an offer --even an offer he didn't intend to keep -- just to make Harper's entry smoother. But he didn't.

As the by-election drew nearer, and the media's delight at our dilemma grew, I received a personal phone call from Harper himself. He was blunt: For the good of the party, I needed to step aside for him.

I immediately asked: "What would be the reward if I step aside? What would be the punishment if I don't?" I expected that he might offer some basic indemnity for the money I had sunk into the campaign to date, or some token position with the party in recognition for the sacrifice he was asking me to make.

"If you step aside, my esteem for you will rise," he told me. "If you don't, my esteem for you will fall." That's it: no money, no job offers, just his respect and friendship.

Okay, that raises a coupla questions. First, how can a campaign for a safe seat cost $250,000 dollars? Second, did it sound to anyone else like Ezra was lookin' fer something other than reimbursement of his massive expenses? Does wanting to be bribed count for anything in the candidate's qualifications?

Anyways, I'm with Ezra. I'm predictin' the shit will land on Doug Finley. He's been largely invisible which makes him more expendable. Flanagan and Harper go way back and both are readily associated with the CPOC brand. Finley, not so much. I wonder if Harper will use that line about his esteem when he asks Finley to fall on his sword like he asked Ezra to do.


Harper Knew About Bribe Offer... Dona Cadman Told Him

Whooee! The big kerfuffle in the House o' Comments is all about whether or not Harper knew about the bribe offered to Chuck Cadman. Very few observers are still claiming there was no offer. To make such a claim is to call the Cadman family a bunch of liars. It's hard to rely on Mrs. Cadman's statement regarding Harper's ignorance of the bribery offer and, at the same time, say she and her daughter and son-in-law are lying about the existence of an offer.

Here's something that raises a question. Dona Cadman is now saying she confronted Stephen Harper about the insurance policy 2 1/2 years ago. According to Mrs. Cadman, Harper denied knowing anything about it and she believed him.

In a statement, Dona Cadman said she asked then-Opposition leader Harper more than two years ago if he knew about the alleged life-insurance offer to her husband in exchange for his support in a crucial confidence vote.

"He looked me straight in the eyes and told me he had no knowledge of an insurance policy offer," Dona Cadman said in the statement. "I knew he was telling me the truth; I could see it in his eyes."

She added: "From that point forward ... I didn't regard it as a 'party' initiative, but rather the overzealous indiscretion of a couple of individuals ... whose identity Chuck never revealed to me."

Dona Cadman - now the Tory candidate in her late husband's Surrey North, B.C., riding - did not recant on her characterization of the alleged offer as a bribe.

Okay. Fair enough. Let's accept that as fact, shall we? The Con's are all citing Mrs. Cadman's statement as proof Harper didn't know.

But, here's the big question:

After being informed of the insurance policy offer 2 1/2 years ago, what actions did the CPC leader take?

Upon hearing from Mrs. Cadman that an illegal offer was put forward by Finley and Flanagan, did Mr. Harper attempt to delve further into this shocking accusation? Were Finley and Flanagan chastised in any way? Top level CPC operatives had been accused of offering a bribe. The accusation was made directly to Mr. Harper when Mrs. Cadman asked him if he was aware of the offer. Was there an internal party investigation?

The libel chill revolves around a headline on the official LPC website. The headline reads:

"Harper Knew of Conservative Bribery"

Perhaps, as Mr. Harper and Mrs. Cadman agree, Harper didn't know before the offer was made. Not long after that, however, Mrs. Cadman acknowledges that she did, in fact, bring up the offer to Harper. Unless Mr. Harper thought Mrs. Cadman was lying about the offer 2 1/2 years ago, he did know. At least, he knew that Mrs. Cadman believed an illegal offer was made.

We may never know if Harper was privy to the insurance offer prior to Finley and Flanagan making it. We only need to listen to the tape to ascertain that Harper did know about financial considerations. Mrs. Cadman's statements confirm that Harper was informed about the insurance offer shortly after it was made.

Does Harper deny that Mrs. Cadman asked him about the offer 2 1/2 years ago? After that allegation was made, didn't Harper have a legal obligation to follow up and make sure illegal offers were not made in the name of the party?

Mrs. Cadman was able to determine Harper's truthfulness by looking into his eyes. When she raised the spectre of Finley and Flanagan making an illegal offer, did Harper's eyes reveal shock? After all, the widow of a respected MP had just informed him that his top advisers had offered a bribe.