Thursday, March 27, 2008

"They can look at the damned pictures!"

The tradition of Thomas Nast is alive and well, thank god.

Friday, March 21, 2008

It's amazing how consistent the media is, and will be!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Stephen Harper knows where Kosovo is...
thus proving that he's an idiot

The government of Canada today recognized the independence declared by Kosovo.

Now let us be clear on something: there was no referendum, plebiscite or other form of direct popular mandate for the independence of Kosovo. None. Zip. They elected a local government and that government declared independence. The population never got a say. I don't know and little care whether Kosovo should be independent of Serbia. (As a historian I am keenly aware that Balkan quarrels tend to end in two things: bloodbaths, and invitations for outsiders to "step in! the bloodbath's lovely!".) I also know that European governments are accustomed to sweeping, dynamic changes without consulting the sweaty peasants, but that doesn't make it right. (No Czech or Slovak got to vote on whether Czechoslovakia would continue to exist either.) It lacks legitimacy to my democratic eyes. If you are so damned sure that you have public support for such a step, ask.

Fine. They went ahead and did a UDI. We're not obliged to like it or dislike it. We are obliged, however, to note our own national interest in how we react to it and this is where the Harper government decided that the best place to store a knife was in Canada's guts. The Bozo doll currently posing as our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Bernier feels that "the decision to recognize Kosovo ... does not provide a precedent from which Quebec nationalists could launch a similar bid for sovereignty". Horseshit. Utter, steaming, piled-high horseshit. A precedent is a precedent whether or not Bernier is too paralytically stupid to recognize it as such. Bernier can point to a horse and scream "moo-cow!" but it's still a bloody horse.

The PQ and BQ will have noted this. They WILL make use of it. They WILL do their damnedest as a way to end-run around the fact that they haven't been able to win a referendum and -- absent lying like maniacs and promising that separation will be as painless and pleasing as a good toke (and even THAT didn't work the last time) -- probably never will win. So with the precedent of Kosovo, what's to stop them from just declaring a UDI in the Quebec National Assembly the next time they win an election? Nothing. The Government of Canada just told them it was okay. And what he has also done is give France and the other members of la Francophonie the key to recognizing Quebec instantly if such a UDI takes place. All they need to is point to the Government of Canada's own action regarding Kosovo.

It took over a decade to undo the damage done by the last Conservative government to the unity file, to deal with the fact that the Mulroney Tories kissed separatist ass and validated every damned lie that they told about Canada and the Constitution, confirming Quebecers' beliefs in fantasies and deceits peddled by their separatist classes. Now Harper's Tories seem to be back at the game again, convinced that the best way to float a boat is to blow a hole in the bottom with a shotgun and call it progress.

Fools, Fools, FOOLS, FOOLS!
What's theirs is theirs, what's yours is theirs, what's ours is theirs

Digby nails it:
"[T]the Bush era set up a kind of corporate Marxism, where risk is socialized, but where wealth is privatized. And the middle class ... are the only ones who ever feel any pain."
Heather Mills and Beatrice

So, Heather Mills has received a divorce award of about $48 million dollars from her four-year marriage to Paul McCartney. Also awarded was about $70,000 per year in child support. Mills complained bitterly about the latter, feeling that it was grossly inadequate.

There has been much comment on how nasty Mills is, that she was a gold digger out for payout from the get-go, and so forth. So much so that the more interesting point about her comment on child support has gone unnoticed: its implicit message that Beatrice won't be getting any of mummy's money.

Good luck, Beatrice. With a mum that believes that anything you need is daddy's responsibility even though mum is worth $48m you are going to need all the good luck you get can get. My own personal guess is that over the next fourteen or more years you will hear variants on "Daddy is such a SHITE!" more often than you're going to hear anything else.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


So NY Governor and former crusading AG and Wall Street crime buster Elliot Spitzer is going down for going a-whoring. First fact: it seems pretty clear that he broke a few laws along the way and he should resign. Second fact: he cheated on and humiliated his wife and humiliated and embarrassed his family, and he deserves every bit of moral calumny laid on him. (We will leave aside for a moment why so many right-wing bloggers are howling for his blood when the equally guilty Sen. Vitter (R-LA) earns their endless defence.)

All of that aside, the most interesting thing question is going wholly unanswered: Why was the FBI investigating Spitzer in the first place?

The FBI says that they were investigating suspected corruption and just happened (shocked! shocked they were!) upon the prostitution evidence. Why were they investigating Spitzer? He and his family are rich as hell, he has a reputation for being a business and commercial law straight-arrow; he therefore seems a rather odd target for somebody looking for financial malfeasance.

Thing to remember number 1: since the tenure of Louis Freeh the Feebs have been within an inch or two of being a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party.
This started during the Clinton administration when it ran a bit wild from DOJ and AG oversight, overtly aligning itself with House Republicans and their agenda in order to protect its budget.

Thing to remember number 2: Spitzer has been one of the most aggressive enemies of the kind of top-floor white collar corruption that has been the staple of the Bush administration.
Don't forget that the Bushies simply don't believe that any theft done by a corporation or corporate executive is even a crime. That's not exaggeration, that's simply a fact. Spitzer's tenure as AG is neatly summarized by the Toronto Star's David Olive:
What gained Spitzer international renown was the painstaking work by his New York attorney general's office in piecing together the memos and emails by which America's largest brokerage firms were selling stock at the height of the late-1990s dot-com boom that their own analysts regarded as "crap" and "junk."

Spitzer extracted a stupendous $1.4 billion (U.S.) settlement from 10 of America's largest securities firms, including Citigroup Inc. and Merrill Lynch Inc., for their dissemination of this supposed "research" to clients. He then went after dubious sales practices in the mutual fund industry.

Spitzer exposed unsavoury bookkeeping practices in the insurance trade, forcing the ouster of the CEOs of insurance giants American International Group Inc. and Marsh & McLellan Cos. He waded into the field of excessive executive compensation, forcing Dick Grasso to relinquish a portion of his huge severance package on retiring as CEO of the New York Stock Exchange.

In identifying many of the leading culprits in the loss by Main Street investors of some $8 trillion (U.S.) when the dot-com, tech and telecom markets imploded, Spitzer acted while the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission dozed. And in doing so, Spitzer helped bring about higher standards of transparency and CEO accountability for the authenticity of corporate financial reporting.
The Bush administration is a CEO administration, pure and simple. It has corporate and class interests and loyalties which were right in the crosshairs of any genuine effort to enforce the law. Militarizing police forces in order to pursue the ludicrous "war on (certain classes and colours of people who use) drugs", raiding medical marijuana facilities and so forth... those, in the eyes of the Bush Administration, are valid uses of federal authority. Going after CEOs is something best avoided.

Thing to remember number 3: The Bush administration has thoroughly politicized the Department of Justice.
Partisan zealots occupy not only the political slots in the DOJ but have dumped vast numbers of professional career staff and replaced them with even more GOP tools.

My guess? The thoroughly-Roved federal Department of Justice said, "dig and dig and dig until you find something on Spitzer". The prostitution stuff was an easy and unexpected win, negating the need for Plan A: Siegelman him.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Boffo Quotes Numbers 008 and 009

“[A] religion is no more than a cult with an army attached to it.”

Jonathan Meades in “Magnetic North” (Episode 2) (Youtube at 2 of 6, 0:37 et seq.)

"If God had wanted us to worship him, he'd have made it easier by existing."

Linda Smith, spotted by The Real Interrobang on Living the Scientific Life, comments

Friday, March 07, 2008

Coincidence? She thinks not...
And I agree with her.

[I]t is no coincidence that the War On Drugs heated up after the civil rights movement achieved a set of huge victories that gave this country a moment of hope for something like racial equality. Now we have a country where 1 in 15 black people are currently in jail.

Amanda Marcotte, "The brainless, pointless War On Drugs", March 6, 2008

One should also remember that a real wave of felony disenfranchisement laws gained steam at around this time. As the law in the USA currently stands::
* only two US states have no laws on voting by felons;
* only inmates convicted of a felony are barred from voting (with their right to vote restored upon release from prison) in 13 states;
* felons (in prison and on parole) are barred from voting but can vote upon completion of parole in 5 states;
* inmates, parolees, and probationers are barred (and so can vote only upon completion of all supervised release) in 20 states;
* inmates, parolees, probationers, and ex-felons are completely barred from voting (restoration of voting varies by state) in 10 states.

Given that Blacks are grossly disproportionately represented in the American prison population it should come as no surprise that every single state of the former Confederacy is found in the two categories with the toughest restrictions, as are three states which were Confederate Territories in whole or in part, as are three states that remained in the Union but had majority-Reb populations, and "bleeding Kansas", which is currently aggressively pro-GOP. (Further, many of the felony disenfranchisement laws in the Old South started during Reconstruction as the former Confederate states cast about for ways to prevent their'n newly free and unacceptably uppity niggers from votin'.)

Don't forget that these lists don't have to be accurate to stop a person from voting. By way of example: many, many people in Florida (mostly Black) in the notorious 2000 presidential election found themselves unable to vote because of being erroneously listed as having felony convictions, and could not get their right to vote restored in time or at all. (It was, I'm sure that we all agree, just a coincidence that the list was provided by a Texas GOP firm to a state with a GOP governor, a GOP legislature and a GOP Secretary of State - Katherine Harris - who was disgustingly overt about her efforts to stop people from voting Democrat. And most Blacks vote Democrat. Just a coincidence.)