Monday, April 30, 2007

Update Notice - 04/30/2007

Update Notice one more time, folks:

Whither Goest Thou, America?: one update.

Afghanistan: Time To Leave ... Now. : one more (and should be last) update.

Enjoy!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Whither Goest Thou, America?

(Updated below) (Update II)

The U.S.A. seems to be bent on inching ever closer to becoming a souless and heartless bully.

How dare I make such a damning claim? Let us ascertain the evidence accumulated so far:

They torture or send their "captives" to places where they will be.

They deny habeas corpus and even deny lawful legal representation.

They detain indefinitively.

They cheat and steal from their friends.

They react with chicanery against friends who refuse to follow them in their reckless adventurism.

They make plans to invade their friends.

They censor science to suits their purposes (examples here, here, here, here, here, here and here).

They reneg international treaties that they have signed (one example here).

They make arbitrary no-fly lists based on the silliest of reasons - especially finding guilt in those who use their right to free speech. Same thing with watch lists.

And now this.


Whatever happened to compassion? Decency? Reason?


This is not about "falling from grace" anymore. This is rather a matter of an ignorance-, paranoid- and fear-fuelled slow march toward authoritarianism ... if not actual fascism.

Wake up America - you have definitively lost your way and have become the enemy that you have been loathing ever since September 11, 2001.

Shame on you.


P.S. Rationalizations to excuse uncivil, unlawful or even inhumane acts may be satisfying from a lawyering point of view and grant some measure of righteousness, but the fact remains that such rationalizations constitute nothing more than base mendacity and hypocrisy.

Enemy combatants, America?

Then ask yourself this: how is it that even unlawful combatants (which are, by definition, much worse than the convenient "enemy combatants") are still protected under the Geneva Conventions by having to be "treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial", because they are still covered by GC IV Art 5.?

Could it be that the term enemy combatant constitutes a "quaint" rationalization to excuse barbarity?

You have become no better than any other barbarous, uncivilized regime, America.

The 2006 mid-term elections were but the first, small steps to redemption. Do take heart and keep on climbing the mountain to reclaim your honor and dignity - come back to the light ... your friends are waiting for your return.


Update: 04/29/07 - More signs that one's country is one step closer to a fascist state:

i) It is much easier to be swept up for detention than to be released, even if you are innocent.

ii) It is much easier to be put on a no-fly list than to be removed from one, even if you are in no way connected (even remotely) to terrorism

iii) The government is so hermetically-isolated upon itself and suspicious of everyone that it refuses help from friends and goodwilled people when disaster strikes.

iv) Keep lying to cover/excuse your ignorance-based, catastrophic mistakes or your corrupted ways.

Ah yes - authoritarian states with their "lists" and their irrational refusal to suffer humanitarian help ... lest they look incompetent, inept or downright callous, in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Remember the old USSR and their Tchernobyl? How about North Korea?

And so on and so forth ...

But nonetheless - there is hope still.


Update II: 05/02/2007 - Digby reminisces on how Da Decider acted and how the U.S. MSM fawned over his obvious "ugly americanism".

Meanwhile, some columnists are actually wishing for a Military Junta in lieu of a democratic republic, or an actual Kingly Emperor-President who is above the Law (by way of Glenn Greenwald), whereas Da Decider/Leader is not only emboldened by such calls but has also gone against the will of the Congress and the American people.

But why worry? The Iraq War is only a game, after all - just like baseball.

'Nuff said.

Update Notice - 04/28/2007

That's right, folks - one more Update Notice:

Afghanistan: Time To Leave ... Now: three updates;

Political Palindromes: Canada Vs USA : three updates.

Enjoy!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Afghanistan: Time To Leave ... Now.

(Updated below) (Update II) (Update III) (Update IV)

Here's what Republican GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said yesterday:

"(...) the (USA) would be safer by only a small percentage and would see a very insignificant increase in safety if al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught because another terrorist would rise to power. It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person (...)"


Now, remember what Da Decider said a while back concerning Osama bin Laden? No? Here are three quotes:

"(...) He’s not the issue." - Pres. G.W. Bush; 02/05/2002;

I truly am not that concerned about him.” - Pres. G.W. Bush; 03/13/2002;

bin Laden doesn’t fit with the administration’s strategy for combating terrorism.” - Pres. G.W. Bush; 09/14/2006.


Vice-President Dick Cheney also said this on 09/10/2006:

"He’s not the only source of the problem, obviously (...)"


Then, here is what Congress House Speaker Nanci Pelosi said on 09/12/2006 (when she was still Democratic House Minority Leader):

"(...) But in fact, the damage that (Osama bin Laden) has done is done. And even to capture him now, I don’t think makes us any safer.”


And here are more notable quotes concerning bin Laden:

"My attitude is if (bin Laden) were gone tomorrow the same problem would exist (...)" - Don Rumsfeld (then Secretary of Defense); 10/24/2001;

"Bin Ladin may be limited in his ability to organize major attacks from his hideouts. Yet killing or capturing him, while extremely important, would not end terror (...)" - 9-11 Commission Report Executive Summary;

With more or less the same from many other folks.


But ... but ... were not the capture (or death) of bin Laden, the destruction of al-Qaida and the eradication of the al-Qaida-supportive Taliban the rationales/justifications for invading Afghanistan? Is this not why our Canadian soldiers and Coalition allies remain there to this day, seeking to eradicate the re-surging remnants of the Taliban and dying for it - now almost every week?

Considering all of this, and the fact that Pakistan appears to have been harboring bin Laden all along (while claiming that they would capture him ... if they catch him. Right. No one went in Pakistan because not only do they have Da Bomb, the U.S. allowed them to develop it!), then the obvious question is:


What are we still doing in Afghanistan?!?


Here are some sample answers that are being parroted in response to such a question by our so-called Right-Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his neocon lackeys:

"(...) We don't make a commitment and then run away at the first sign of trouble. We don't and we will not, as long as I'm leading this country (...)" - P.M. S. Harper; 03/13/2006;

"(to the soldiers:) Your work is about more than just defending Canada's national interests. Your work is also about demonstrating an international leadership role for our country." - P.M. S. Harper; 03/13/2006;

"(...) These (fallen soldiers) were working to bring security, democracy, self-sufficiency and prosperity to the Afghan people and to protect Canadians' national and collective security. We will not forget their selfless contribution to Canada (...)" - P.M. S. Harper; 04/22/2006;

"(...) (The soldiers) are there to defend our national interests and protect the population of Afghanistan. It is the Taliban who are committing violence against our troops and the Afghan people and this Parliament should be supporting our men and women in uniform." - P.M. S. Harper; 04/17/2007;

"We believe that we are engaged in a war on terrorism, a war on evil people, just as we were during the First and Second World Wars. We believe that these people have to be brought to justice." - Government Whip (Conservative) J. Hill; 04/20/2007;

"Is that the legacy we want to have for our Afghanistan mission, that we did not get the job done? Setting a deadline for the Canadian Forces to withdraw right now would send a clear and dangerous signal to the Taliban. For the sake of the Afghans, our mission cannot be measured simply by the number of years or months we have invested." - Conservative M.P. R. Hiebert; 04/20/2007;

"(...) Progress is being made [in Afghanistan] (...)." - Public Safety Minister S. Day; 04/24/07.


So ... we are there for them, for Democracy, Freedom and all those other Noble Principles, right? These platitudes are not only the same snake oil selling talking points we keep hearing from Da Decider and his Bushies, they are downright nauseating.


Therefore and nonetheless:
How long will we be there?
When will we have the courage to end this?

(and by the way: shame on you, NDP!)


The answer to these questions, folks, is apparently this: just like the Americans and their Iraq War, it looks like we must "stay the course" in Afghanistan.

More than ever: Harper = Bush. Period. Except that Harper is now being one step behind Bush - then again, that is what followers do, no?

Someone please call for an election soon to get rid of this ridiculous minority neocon government ... stat. We need a competent Prime Minister and government - urgently.


Update: 04/27/07 - Darn it - I completely forgot about those magnificent arguments against pulling out of Afghanistan and/or Iraq (after all, these arguments are the same and apply to both instances):

i) If we don't stay the course or if we question the authorities (i.e. Da Leader), then the terrorists win;

ii) If we withdraw, we are the lowest of scum cowards (and the terrosists win - see above);

iii) Besides, we are (always) "turning the corner" (one Friedman Unit at a time);

iv) The "slam dunk" was only a talking point;

v) The bad stuff at Abu Ghraib (or Gitmo) was due to "a few bad apples", certainly not because the Geneva Conventions had been deemed quaint by Bush et al.;

vi) Bringing the troops home will place them in greater harm than letting them stay;

vii) And we all better stop complaining and criticizing - otherwise, we and our families deserve to be killed by terrorists.


The words to comment such asinine, inane and insane thinking simply fail me ...


Then, someone (like too many others) posts something like this or this. My answer to such intellectual sloth-driven questions and proclamations? Read it here. Talk about incompetence indeed.


And so ... are we Canadians as doomed to endure the Harper government as the Americans are doomed to endure the rest of the Bush Reign?

For good measure: here's a timeline - rather, a veritable litany - of lies and incompetence concerning the Iraq War ... for your reading "pleasure".

In the meantime, wake me up when September comes up ...

What do you folks think?


Update II: 04/28/07 - The reason of Da Bushies for invading Iraq was to strike a blow against worldwide terrorism, right? Same with Afghanistan, right?

Working great so far, huh?

Heck of a job, Georgie and Stevie ... In all fairness, I suppose no one could have predicted this, right? (Right).


Update III: 04/28/07 - Compare Da Decider's stance on Iraq with Da Harper's stance on Afghanistan, with regard to "staying the course" and "not cutting and running":

"(...) if the Congress wants to test my will as to whether or not I'll accept the timetable for withdrawal, I won't accept one." - Pres. G.W. Bush

"(...) We don't make a commitment and then run away at the first sign of trouble. We don't and we will not, as long as I'm leading this country (...)" - P.M. S. Harper


Now, let's also take a look at another type of argument against setting dates for withdrawal of troops:

"(...) Basically the vote is going to be: Do you tell the enemy the exact day you are going to leave or do you not? (...)" - Public Safety Minister S. Day

"Don’t you think an enemy is going to wait and adjust based upon an announced timetable of withdrawal?” - Pres. G.W. Bush


Strikingly alike talking points, would you not say?


Update IV: 04/30/07 - Concerning the current scandal of Afghan prisoners captured by Canadians - they are indeed our responsibility according to the Geneva Conventions. And we have been treating them as such: good on us. However, if we decided not to turn them over to the U.S. forces because of their neo(con)-attitudes vis à vis torture, then what was the Harper government thinking by directing our soldiers to simply surrender them to the Afghan government - especially since they have a rather abysmal record where the humanitarian treatment of prisoners of war is concerned?

Neocon incompetence is universal, apparently.

The peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan are still performed by N.A.T.O. forces and these are still U.N.-sanctioned. Perhaps it is time that the U.N. and N.A.T.O. maintain responsibility of those prisoners of war by either keeping full custody or by supervising Afghan prisons, so as to ensure that all articles of the Geneva Conventions are respected ... until such a time when the Afghan government demonstrates its willingness and capability of respecting said conventions (of which it is a signatory).

And hopefully, we will have brought our brave and dutiful men and women home, long before this farway day comes.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Political Palindromes: Canada Vs USA

(Updated below) (Update II) (Update III)

Do you know what a palindrome is?

It is a word, phrase, number or other sequence of units that has the property of reading the same in either direction. Here's an example: "Yo, banana boy!”. Or here's another: "Fall leaves after leaves fall".

Ergo: Prime Minister Harper's government and George W. Bush's White House together constitute also a palindrome - a political one, that is.

Not convinced?

Then can you spot the difference between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Da Decider/Leader?

Of course not - that is because there are no differences. Really.

Exactly what I've been saying all along ... Canadian neocons = American neocons.

Political palindromes.

Simple math, really. As simple as 1+1 = 1+1.

What do you folks think?


Updated: 04/27/07 - Yet more examples of neocon duperie here and here, as well as incompetence becoming utter stupidity. How long before we make them go away for good? Impeachment, anyone?


Update II: 04/28/07 - Torture ... first deny it, then accuse the opposition of lying about it. Rinse and repeat.

What's next? Making the argument that renditions for specialized interrogation techniques is not torture? Hmmm ... where have we heard this before? Sounds awfully familiar ... wait ... I think it's coming back to me ...

Ah, yes.

Now I remember it well.

Indeed.

Absolutely.

Harper=Bush - Q.E.D. (once again).


Update III: 04/28/07 - The (Environment Minister) Baird Plan to reduce Climate Change emissions. Too bad he did not follow Québec's lead or the advice of others (especially reknowned Canadian scientists). Too bad indeedy ...

Update Notice - 04/26/07

Time again for another Update Notice, folks:

By The Way ...: one update.

Ten Steps Into Death Of Democracy And Hell: one update.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

By The Way ...

(Updated below)

... Proof again that beauty and brains do not always go hand in hand like horse and carriage.

Everyobody, now: Gimme an "I"; Gimme a "D"; Gimme an "I"; Gimme an "O"; Gimme a "T"! (What's that spell?)

Same thing with her.

And oh so many others of their ilk.

The truism of the old adage remains, folks: beauty is only skin deep. Fact is, these "ladies" (and I use the term loosely, here) are completely and truly ugly inside.

A shame, really ... but so laughable nonetheless.


Update: The day or so after - more takes on this here and here. Enjoy!

Ten Steps Into Death Of Democracy And Hell

(Updated below)

By way of Crooks and Liars, here's an eye-opening article on the 10 easy steps towards a fascist society and how each of these steps are already "in play" in the U.S..

Go read it and then come back ...

Read it? All right.

Now, let's play the game of "which steps have already been initiated in Canada as well"?

My answer is: steps 1, 4 and 6 (although the Supreme Court struck this down earlier this year) - with step 8 having well begun and step 10 being already in the Law Books, just waiting to be used again.

What is your answer?


Update: What a difference a day makes. Here are other takes on this here, here, here, here, here and here, especially concerning the slavery of the U.S. Press. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Monday, April 23, 2007

Uh-ho ... Are We Here Now?

(Updated below) (Update II)

Ouch. Talk about shoddy, superfluous, fatuous and inane journalism reigning supreme in the MSM: here's yet one more superb example from The Daily Howler.

Read it? OK - now go read these two fine articles/blogposts concerning (Conservative Party Leader and Prime Minister) Stephen Harper and (Liberal Party Leader and Opposition leader) Stéphane Dion (linking to a blog for the latter, because the Globe and Mail article in question is behind a registration wall).

((And yes: Stephen in English = Stéphane in French. Welcome to Canada, eh? Sheesh!)).

Read them? All right. Now, here's my question: what are the differences in styles and content of those dispatches compared to the ones highlighted by the "American" Daily Howler?

Answer: None. Zip. Nada.

Now, I have never hidden my dissatisfaction with our Prime Minister Stephen "neocon" Harper (here are examples here and here). Similarly, I will state openly and honestly that I am very much wary of Stéphane Dion. Having said that, and considering those fine (ugh!) examples of journalism cited above, here is what I get out of such things: truthiness has fully invaded Canada *and* we now have our very own journalistic Antoinettes.

Folks - are we ever in BIG trouble now ... not as bad as the Old Glory south of us yet, but we are getting there indeed.

Don't believe me? Then watch closely CBC NewsWorld, LCN or RDI. Still good stuff there, but ... the superfluous and fatuous keep on creeping further and further more into the dispatches. The same already goes for all of our Canadian National Newspapers (name one - then go read it!). And it goes without saying that our local, regional and national news hours on the regular networks (CBC, TVA, TQS, Global, CTV, etc.) are already far gone that sad and pathetic way.

We must never forget to remain ever vigilant - lest we end up the same as our neighbor south of the 49th ...


Update: on a related story, here is a flagrant example of what I mused about the other day. Relation to today's post? Well, of course the MSM gingerly reports about such an obvious cheap propaganda opportunity - if only as a baseless attempt to bolster Da Decider's dismal poll numbers ...

Update II: Five other entries, illustrating the sad state of U.S. journalism and how it impacts badly on the public's understanding of the world, have been posted here, here, here, here and here, a day after this very entry by yours truly. What the heck: here is a somewhat older entry, as well. 'Nuff said, eh?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Updates Galore - 04/22/07

This entry is only to alert all you folks out there that the following previous entries of mine have been updated Greenwaldian-style:

Say - I Was Just Thinking ...: one update.

Say - I Was Just Thinking (II) ...: one update.

(Neo)Con Games Vs. Climate Change Reality: four updates.

Say - I Was Just Thinking (III) ...: three updates.

Updates are found at the end/bottom of each entry.

For the time being, I will use this way of making updating announcements because I do not have the means (yet) to enact in-entry links between update notices and actual updates locations within entries. Ah well ... 'hope you folks enjoy anyways!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Say - I Was Just Thinking (III) ...

Indeedy - time once again for one of my "Musings over my morning cup of coffee": (Updated below) (Update II) (Update III) (Update IV) (Update V)

Recent developments clearly illustrate what I have been talking about in my series concerning the scourge of intellectual sloth in our societies (Parts I, II, III, IV and V).

On the one hand, we have more right-wingnuttery fantasies concerning the War on Terrorism and WMD's (for another take on the same subject, go read here).

On the other hand, we have SCOTUS putting aside all reason, all medical and scientific evidence/practices and any sense of actual judgement to leave way to their uninformed, parochial, paternalistic and narrow view of reality.

These inspired the following thoughts:

Intellectual sloth pushes those that are guilty of it to wallow in ignorance and to find security in absolute ideologies, tenets of faith or various dogmas - without questioning or attempting to understand them fully. They are the intractable and loyal believers, adherents or followers, who reject any opinion - even undeniable facts - which dare confront, let alone invalidate, their reassuring convictions.

Conversely, those guilty of intellectual vanity are instead driven by a narcissistic appreciation of their own mental faculties, convinced that they hold all the answers or that they are more than capable of finding them on their own. They consider their reflections as unassailable dogmas: hence, they do not have patience for the views of others and, accordingly, do not suffer any challenge against the conclusions of their own deliberations.

Intellectual sloth and intellectual vanity: these are the two sides of the same coin of fear-, ignorance-, insecurity-, and intolerance-driven, incompetence. Indeed, only the incompetent parochially dismisses the simple truth that the open exchange and debate of ideas, as well as the independent verification and testing of observations, constitute the only valid road to fully understanding - and thus dealing with - Reality.

Why? Because this road is a long and winding one, whereas the incompetent is an instant gratification-seeking, listless, and anxious, slave of expediency.

What do you folks think?


Update: what Pope Benedict XVI ignorantly pronounced recently is another clear example of what I have been musing herein (interestingly, Andrew at Bound by Gravity has another take on the Pope's proclamation - we may disagree on many a thing, like health care issues as example, but I have to agree on a good measure with this particular post of his).

Update II: Digby has more examples of right-wingnuttery and christianist devotion here and here. All they need is encouragement from their (insane) peers or from the neocons in power which they worship. Then, Da Newt chimes in again ... and what he is saying sounds awfully familiar, no? (More about Da Newt here) Lastly, we have more fools and nuts. Nope - this is not healthy for a democratic society, folks.

Update III: Lastly, more examples of neocons being unable to tell the truth about Reality, let alone acknowledging it, here, here (Part I), here (Part II), here and here. Sad and pathetic, yes - but unfortunately very dangerous, especially when neocons are driving policy-making in governments.

Update IV: 04/24/2007 - An interesting follow up of the SCOTUS decision ... the shoe fits indeed. Also, let us not forget this crooked neocon windbag - I suppose, these people just can't help themselves where the truth of Reality is concerned. Oh, the mendacity ... oh, the hubris ... oh, the lies.

Update V: 04/24/2007 - Then there is this brilliant letter to the Editor in the NY Times (by way of Christopher Hayes):

"To the Editor:

Re “A Sharp Turn for the Supreme Court on Abortion” (letters, April 20):

I am a rheumatologist caring for a patient whose lupus nephritis is flaring. Her creatinine is rising as her platelet count falls, and she has failed to improve with pulse methylprednisolone and intravenous cyclophosphamide. I am contemplating using rituximab. I would like to refer this case to the United States Supreme Court for its guidance.

Richard Zweig, M.D.
Santa Rosa, Calif., April 20, 2007
"

Bravo, Dr. Zweig! This is the point, exactly!

(Neo)Con Games Vs. Climate Change Reality

(Updated below) (Update II) (Update III) (Update IV)

Step One: commission a report based on fictitious, worst-case scenario assumptions which will give you exactly the (fallacious) conclusions you wanted.

Step Two: announce to the World these non-findings.

Step Three: follow these up with various underhanded measures to further undermine regulatory means to stem the tide of disaster as well as appropriate funding to completely and fully understand the problem.

Step Four: of course, ignore not only your own scientists but go as far as refusing to meet with them; in addition, endeavor to ignore as well the overwhelming world-wide, scientific consensus which has ascertained that the problem is real, now.

And voilà: Man-made Climate Change? Balderdash! Kyoto Protocol? Infamy!

Which in turn inspire neocons and right-wing christianists to renew with increased vigor their parochial, narrow-minded, utterly uninformed and deluded attacks on the reality of Climate Change (here is one tiny example among so many others), grasping at the words of every quack they can find.

Above all: ignore real, proven science (proven time and time again, that is) and, especially, do continue to pretend that all the true expert scientists have no idea what they are talking about.

Then rinse and repeat, the above constituting an excellent recipe for complete disaster.

Which goes to show that neocons are more alive than ever not just in the good old U.S.A., but in Canada - no less - with the (Prime Minister) Harpers and their (Environment Minister) Bairds, all staunch pals of Big Oil, Big Energy, and Big Corporation.

Can we have an election soon and boot those mendacious idiots out of our Government ... please?


Update: at least, Prime Minister Harper and Environment Minister Baird acknowledge that Climate Change is a reality. Talk about pandering to everyone on this subject while doing everything possible to do nothing about it. Another superb example of neocon duperie tactics at work, folks ...

Update II: Let's hope Canada does not have to go the way of Australia and her neocon-in-chief before doing something about Climate Change ...

Update III: Now, let us contrast neocon duperie and procrastination (as illustrated above) with yet another example of integrity, openness and honesty.

Update IV: Compare also the Harper government's games with the current Québec government' plan to meet Kyoto objectives by 2012 - Note to Greens: this plan may be not completely satisfactory, but it is a plan nonetheless trying to meet Kyoto objectives ... hence, my suggestion is for you folks to be pragmatic and apply pressure for it to be fulfilled as close as possible, instead of crying foul about it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Say - I Was Just Thinking (II) ...


That's right - time for another installment of one of my "Musings over my morning cup of coffee": (Updated below)

What is power?

We all know the saying: 'Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely'. However, how many among us actually realize that this adage is nothing more than an excuse for incompetence in wielding, or exercising, power?

For it is a fact that those individuals who are 'corrupted' by power are inevitably revealed at their core to be selfish, greedy, covetous, paranoid or fearful. Consequently, these use power expediently as a tool for the wasteful satisfaction of their every whim, want and need, or as a weapon to aim recklessly at their outwardly-projected inner demons.

In short: only incompetents abuse power.

Why is this so? Because, their petty minds are blind to the principle that factual power constitutes that which serves not only to better our own personal lives, but to improve those of others as well. We are indeed the keepers of our brothers, our sisters, our families, our relatives and our neighbors: this is a plain and simple verity, which also happens to define the very essence of Humanity.

It is not coincidence that incompetents invariably forget - or deny - such a fundamental truth.

What do you folks think?


Update: Just one more (ongoing) example of what I mused about herein.

Say - I Was Just Thinking ...


Here's an installment of what I call "Musings over my morning cup of coffee": (Updated below)

Ignorance breeds fear. Fear fosters hate. In turn, hate leads inevitably to violence.

The History of Humanity constitutes a sad and tragic testament to this senseless and vicious progression. Incidentally, there is a further underlying, self-evident axiom to this assertion which posits that violence is the last refuge of incompetence - incompetence as nations, as communities, and as thinking, reasoning human beings.

Therefore, when will we acknowledge the fact, once and for all, that it is the incompetents among us who consistently promulgate violence as a solution for anything, to everything?

For the sake of our continued existence, we must strive to forget nevermore that rationalizations supporting the use of violence - other than the need for the rightful exercise of self-defense when set upon by a genuinely clear, present and immediate danger - invariably constitute deceitful fabrications meant to conceal, disguise or justify incompetence ...

... including our very own for embracing such mendacity.

What do you folks think?


Update: here's a clear, recent example of what I mused about herein. Incompetence indeed.

The Cycle of (Blog) Life


Well ... to make a loooong story short: the old Mentarch Blog/Blogue Mentarch has passed away, to make place for the new Another Point of View.

After much rethinking on my part, I decided to do away with my less-than-a-year old blog and replace it with this new one.

With renewed purpose, I will endeavor to post entries at least once a week, if not more.

And for old times' sake, I reposted herein all of my old Mentarch Blog entries (all posted before this very one, except for the french posts, and unfortunately without all those comments they had ... it just couldn't be done) - if only for (dubious) posperity ...

Hehe.

A Quick One: Right-Wing Pundits Have Finally Gone Insane!

First, read this post by Glenn Greenwald concerning the latest twisted, truthiness-fattened, spin-in-a-dizzy attempt to cast yet more condemnation on the New York Times, as further retaliation for their disclosure of the SWIFT banking transactions monitoring program.

Read it? Good.

Now, here is my question: do right-wing pundits and like-shills have no shame, no decency left in their intellectual sloth-rotting bones? Or have they simply gone insane?

How much longer can these insipid, hypocritical, reality-denying, outright lying, delusional fools keep on doing what they are doing? You know whom I am speaking of - the Coulters, Malkins, Hannitys, O'Reillys, Limbaughs, Carlsons, et al.?

How much longer will these insane people be allowed to call for the prosecution, execution and/or murder of those who seek the truth and hence do not agree with their surreal, hallucinatory views of the world?

Which, by the way, include our own Canada?

All I can say is: A) am I ever so thankful that such hate-filled, violently crazy speech is outlawed in Canada; B) let us not forget that promoting hate and violence is not a right; and C) I can only hope that decent, free-thinking americans will get the nerve, sooner than later, to do away with these insane MadHaters.

And by the way, U.S. G.O.P. congressmen and senators are scarcely any better. The politics of fear are alive and well indeed in the U.S.A.. What a shame.

But we Canadians must remain ever vigilant, if we do not want to go the way of the U.S.A.'s sad, sad state of affairs these days.

For indeed, xenophobia and intolerance lurk everywhere. Embracing muticulturalism is not mutually exclusive with our principle of a unified country, but rather the two princples are complementary. Andrew Cohen's latest piece clearly illustrates how intolerance and fear-mongering can be easily and cleverly disguised in a sorry attempt at claiming to the contrary.

And shame on you, Mr. Cohen, for that fear- and xenophobia-mongering piece of demagoguery. You have insulted us all Canadians on the days of celebration of who - and what - we are. I invite you to crawl back under the same rock where the Horowitzes, Addingtons, Coulters, Malkins and other insane neocons hide during the light of day.

In the meantime, let us all true Canadians not forget the very last lines of our national anthem:

"Protègera nos foyers et nos droits/Ô Canada, we stand on guard for thee".

Happy Canada Day, eh?

(And hopefully our American neighbors will think hard about their true values and principles on their upcoming 4th of July ...)

(entry originally posted 01/07/06)

Conclusions and Ergos: June 24 2006

Time again for a Conclusions and Ergos round-up ...

Item 1: The Bushies are being offended again ...
Yesterday, the NY Times and LA Times published articles revealing the existence of a secret program that examines banking records of Americans and others in a vast international database. U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney felt compelled to respond to these disclosures by saying that this operation was legal and absolutely essential to fighting terrorism, adding that what he found most disturbing about these disclosures is the fact that "some of the news media take it upon themselves to disclose vital national security programs, thereby making it more difficult for us to prevent future attacks against the American people (...) It offends me." Elsewhere, Treasury Secretary John Snow said that this program of tracking millions of financial transactions was not an invasion of privacy of Americans but "government at its best", and reiterated the claim that it is vital to the war on terrorism. Accordingly, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow parroted the same talking points (by the by: to get a good perspective on the actual value of such illegal programms to ferret out terrorists, read this hillarious post by Robert Weissman - but I digress).
Conclusion: The Bushies are in effect using the same "blame the unpatriotic press" game and the same precarious arguments of legitimacy, presidential powers, and other such misunderstandings of the 4th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as those used previously to justify those illegal phone call tracking and listening operations already made public.
Ergo: It is quite understandable for the Bush administration to be offended by any and all disclosures of their illegal and dubiously-justified means to trample civil rights in order to keep on chasing ghosts, thus shedding yet more light on their flagrant incompetence. After all, what incompetent person ever applauded upon being revealed as such?

Item 2: Who does White House Press Secretary Tony Snow think he is?
As mentioned above, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow parroted the Bush administration's talking points to justify the program of tracking millions of financial transactions while stressing the non-truth that it was not an invasion of privacy of Americans. When pressed hard by veteran reporter Helen Thomas with pointed questions concerning the legitimacy and actual usefulness of this operation, Tony Snow not only evaded those questions to instead repeat the talking points, but also at one point became testy by saying the following: "Helen, will you stop heckling and let me conduct a press conference (...) Well no, I'm making an argument and you're pestering the teacher (...)".
Conclusion: Tony Snow still thinks that he is running a pundit-like show on Fox news with the rudeness, bravado and lack of civility and respect for others that come with it, à la Bill O'Reilly et al.
Ergo: Someone in the WH will definitively have to teach Tony Snow the inherent responsibilities and codes of proper conduct befitting a WH Press Secretary. Otherwise, let the WH can his intellectual sloth-driven, arrogant behind already.

Item 3: WMD's! WMD's! ... WMD's?
Also in the news was Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Representative Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) proclaiming that WMD's were indeed found in Iraq, thus justifying the whole premise for the war in Iraq. The evidence? A document that describes 500 rusting cannisters of degraded sarin and mustard gas. Forget that these date back to the Iraq-Iran war of the 80's and that the condition they were found in make each of them no more harmful than a big splash of corrosive cleaning bleaches or acids. Forget that these have been already acknowledged by the White House’s Iraq Survey Group and dismissed. Also forget that the Bush administration has long let go of the WMD's-in-Iraq rationale for going to war and has admitted already the non-existence of WMD's in Iraq. No, no, no. The "wise and knowledgable" Senator Santorum keeps on insiting that these cannisters represent proof of stockpiles which could be sold to terrorists, thus at the same time attempting to re-instate the completely-false-rationale of ties between Saddam Hussein and terrorists. All right - I have an open mind, so let me "do the math" here. 500 rusting cannisters = stockpiles? 500 cannisters of degraded sarin and mustard gas = WMD's? Well, unless math has changed into a discipline derived from a warped, parallel universe where 1+1 = 3, I don't think so.
Conclusion: Senator Santorum has made an ass of himself, and so do all of those who repeat his intellectual sloth-driven, ignorant chant.
Ergo: The right-wingers like Santorum and his ilk have become pathetic and desperate in their usual fear-mongering tactics to sway the American electorate in their favor.

Item 4: After the Toronto 17, now the Miami 7 cometh.
Seven men from Miami were arrested by the F.B.I. last Thursday on terrorist plotting charges. These alledged Miami 7 are of Haitian ethnicity and without any actual ties to Al'Qaida, let alone being true muslims, despite initial informations to the contrary. Upon the news of these arrests came the expected outcries, dire warnings and calls for increased security measures (see here for instance) from Chicken Littles and MadHaters, including U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney himself. Interestingly enough, all seven men were first-, second- or even third-generation immigrants, just like our own Toronto 17. Also noteworthy is the evidence which indicate that the Miami 7 appear to be even less competent than our Toronto 17.
Conclusion: The arrest of the Miami 7 clearly illustrate one of the many points I made in a previous post concerning home-grown terrorism and fear, i.e. that the U.S.A. is indeed no more exempt from home-grown terrorism than we are in Canada.
Ergo: The Chicken Littles and MadHaters from the U.S.A. should stop pointing their crooked accusing fingers at us Canadians concerning our so-called liberal immigration laws, and instead take a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror. Shame on them indeed.

And on this note thus ends Conclusions and Ergos for this June 24, 2006. Stay tuned ...

(entry originally posted 24/06/06)


(Google cache of the original post - here)

Polygraph Tests: Pseudo-Science and Art

Each time that I hear police officers or detectives talking about suspects "failling", "passing" or "refusing to take" a lie-detector test, I simply boil with outrage.

Why? Because polygraph tests are nothing more than pseudo-science.

As if the basic premise of polygraphs tests is not bona fide pseudo-science enough, i.e. that variations in blood pressure (and whatnot) are indicative of lying, the interpretation of a polygraph test is pretty much a matter of being in the eye of the beholder (in this case, the one administrating/analyzing the "results" of the test).

In other words: the interpretation of lie-detector test results is art. Not science.

Case in point: read this article here about how NSA testers do not recognize the validity of the CIA or FBI tests, and vice and versa. The article in question clearly illustrates the rampant subjectivity in the administration and interpretation of polygraph tests. However, this article errs by missing the actual point: "quality" of lie-dector tests is not a matter of who or what agency designs them, but rather it is just that there can be no objective, sound, reproducible "quality" for polygraph testing period.

This situation of prevalence of lie-detector tests, either within "intelligence" agencies or as a means to rule out crime suspects, is quite alarming.

How many innocent people have remained suspects because they "failed" their lie-detector test or because their test was deemed "inconclusive"? How often is the refusal to submit oneself to such voodoo science being used as an argument for "having something to hide"?

How many excellent prospects for intelligence agencies have been turned down for employment or actually dismissed - for no reason other than having a pseudo-scientific gimmic imposed on them and for which the results were "judged" a failure?

I can have nothing but poor confidence (at best) in so-called "serious" detectives, police officers or intelligence agencies who keep espousing voodoo science as a technical tool to perform their jobs.

You think we are safe from this, because results from polygraph tests are not admissible in a court of law? How's this, then: employers increasingly use this pseudo-science for so-called job interviews.

But wait - almost each year anyone of our duly elected officials keep bringing back the idea of legislation to entrench mandatory polygraph testing for government employees and prospects.

So, when do you think will come the time when lie-detector tests become admissible in court because of an intellectual sloth-driven judge allowing it, thus making jurisprudence to this effect?

The fact that the sloppy journalists of the MSM all too often make "reports" on polygraphs without ever failing to sell their (non-existent) merits, instead of decrying their use as they should, is cause for much concern in itself.

Considering all the costly trappings which come nowadays with a polygraph test, I have a suggestion for all those fools who keep relying on this pseudo-science:

Make those tests quicker and cheaper by simply binding weights to the testees and dropping them in any body of water, like a swimming pool or a lake. If they sink, then they had nothing to hide. If they float, then this will prove that they have indeed a lot to hide.

You think this is silly? Then dwell on this in parting: it is the same basic principle as any polygraph test, however much better "designed" it may be.

(entry originally posted 20/06/06)

(Google cache of the original post - here)

Here We Go Again ...

As the Harper conservative (if not practically neocon) minority government keeps backtracking and spinning on the Kyoto Accord while standing against reducing (let alone getting rid of) tax breaks to oil producing companies, and with coal, gas plants and tar sand operations in Alberta now being the worst greehouse emitters of the country, it looks as if Canada's earned reputation as a world-leader on the environment question is gradually going down the drain.

But we are not quite yet from going all the way of the Bush administration and its love for, to paraphrase former Vice-president Al Gore, "Big Oil, Big Energy and Big Corporations".

Now, I am all for a free market-based economy. Competition drives initiative and creativity, leading to better (or new) products as well as to better (or new) services, and henceforth to a better and greater choice for consummers. This in turn will usually translate well into job creation or maintenance, along with better salaries. And this in turn will usually translate into better individual spending powers and higher standards of living.

However, trusting in corporations to "do the right thing" with regards to the welfare of society and/or the environment is pure nonsense. The reality is that companies live by one thing and one thing only: the bottom line. Hence, companies will do anything, regardless of whether they initially had good intentions or not, to keep profits not only high but also to increase them as well. In other words, companies will cheat, lie or steal, even go as far as to use spying, sabbotage and violence, as means to protect and increase their profit margins. This is simply the nature of the beast.

Therefore, just like societies need laws to place clear definitions of what is acceptable, non-criminal conduct for their citizens, so must there also be laws to place clear definitions of what is acceptable, non-criminal conduct for companies.

Some call these "regulations". I call these necessities, just like criminal laws for the citizenry. After all, laws serve to maintain the welfare, peace and prosperity of society overall.

That is where comes the recent consideration from Québec's government to levy a "carbon tax" on oil and gas companies to help fight global warming. Carbon taxes are also being discussed elsewhere and at large. There is even talk of imposing a tax on gas-guzzling SUVs and cut the sales tax on hybrid vehicles.

Of course, Big Oil and Big Auto are against such initiatives. Their peddlers have even gone as far as to propose "voluntary measures", pure nonesense which keeps perpetuating the myth that companies will do the right thing only if we allow them to volunteer to do it. Talk about forgeting everything about human nature and the nature of the corporate beast.

Case in point: the current disinformation ads being run on tv's everywhere by Big Oil companies and their lackeys in their sad attempt to spin global warming, especially in light of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth movie and the belated ressurgence in environmental concerns.

Another case in point: paid-for lackeys of Big Oil going on news programs or writing articles to, as always, not only keep denying global warming but also to attack those warning against it - including the overwhelming majority of scientists having demonstrated its reality (see examples here and here).

The fact is that what we are witnessing is what we witnessed already of the saga of tobacco smoking and tobacco companies. This is all history now: disinformation about the dangers of tobacco smoking and outright lying about said dangers by Big Tobacco and their shills, then overwhelming scientific evidence which eventually became undisputable (after all, reality is reality, however one might not like it or fool himself into not accepting!), then taxes on cigarettes and related tobacco products which gradually contributed in decreasing the numbers of smokers, then laws against ads for tobacco products, bans against smoking in public places, and so on.

So, all I can say is: here we go again.

And if we remain standfast and especially vigilant of our politicians and medias, the battle to turn the tide on our destruction of the environment will ultimately prevail.

Just like society did against Big Tobacco.

We will not only change our own attitudes and awareness for the better, we will make laws to curb the nature of the beast of Big Oil and Big Auto. This in turn will facilitate and accelerate the implementation of better technologies and products that do not contribute anymore to pollution and global warming.

Societies need the Rule of Law for their continued peace, welfare and prosperity - all the while remaining modern, democratic societies with free market-based economies.

And to live on a safer and healthier planet at that.

(entry originally posted 17/06/06)


(Google caches of the original posts - in English and in French)

Conclusions and Ergos: June 14 2006

I have many things on my mind and tidbits of news for which I have opinions and, like today, I will from time to time deal with such in a roundup way within one post. Henceforth, here is Conclusions and Ergos for today. (Updated below)

Item 1: The more things change ...
The U.S. House of Representatives will be holding a debate on the Iraq war tomorrow. That in itself is rather belated, considering the lies told by the Bush administration to goad the U.S.A. into going into this wasteful and disastrous war. Remember the non-existent links between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 and/or Al'Qaeda? Remember the non-existent WMD's? Well, according to Think Progress, an alledged confidential memo from Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) emphasizes the following strategies to be used throughout the upcoming debate by republicans: A) debating Iraq in the context of 9/11; B) attack opponents of the war ad hominem; and C) create false choices between supporting President Bush and leaving way to terrorists (the entire memo can be read here).
Conclusion: If this memo is real, this means that the republicans will be using the same disingenuous debating tactics from 2002-2003 which were used to have Congress support the Bush administration and the Iraq war to begin with.
Ergo: The G.O.P. is now officially out of ideas and out of touch with reality.

Item 2: Neocon G.O.P. franchise thriving in Canada.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper keeps complaining again and again that the media has a liberal bias and at one time went so far as expressing his feelings that it was said liberal media that stopped his momentum and prevented him from getting a majority. Liberal-biased media? Now, where have we heard that before? Oh yes: we've been hearing this for years from the U.S. G.O.P. and neocons, who still complain about this mythical liberal bias in the media despite the obvious facts to the contrary. Considering the declared policies of Haper's New Conservative Party, his government's stance on Big Company and Big Oil tax breaks and cuts, his government's demured response to U.S. Chicken Littles and MadHaters concerning terrorism in Canada, his "problems" with the Kyoto Protocols, his stance on Afghanistan, his renewal of the debate on same-sex marriage, and so on and so forth, we are now left with no other choice but to conclude that the "New" Conservative Party is indeed borrowing exclusively from the same playbook as the U.S. neocons.
Conclusion: The Canadian neocon G.O.P. franchise is alive and well.
Ergo: PM Harper and his ilk must wake up to the reality that Canadians are not Americans.

Item 3: Hyperbole rhetoric, anyone?
Québec's liberal Jean Charest's government yesterday signed off on a bill that imposed a pay settlement on Québec's 8,000 specialist physicians. Reaction from the President of the Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec (FMSQ), Yves Dugré? "This is governmental terrorism!". Excusez-moi? Bad enough the physicians's Fereration had been running outrageous tv and newspaper adds lately at a cost of $1.4 millions, and which equated loss of quality health and specialized care (as in the case of cancer) with not getting what they wanted during negociations with the government, now they cry terrorism for being imposed a settlement? Talk about overblown hyperbole rhetoric! Where was such grandiose indignation when physicians here and there began leaving Québec's Health Care System to go private and make even more money than they did already, despite the fact that the Québec society paid in full their training with generous salaries (as for all physicians)? Where was your hyperbolic condemnation then? Where is it now? It would seem that the culture of selfish, instant gratification is alive and well within the medical community. Sadly enough.
Conclusion: Yves Dugré and the FMSQ are acting like spoiled drama divas.
Ergo: Yves Dugré and the FMSQ should get down from their ivory tower and take a long, hard look at what is going on outside, before acting like intellectual sloth-driven brats ever again.


And on this note, Conclusions and Ergos for June 14 2006 draws to an end.

Until next time, stay tuned ...

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UPDATE JUNE 15 2006: the G.O.P. memo was real and the republican senators did exactly according to its instructions. So sad for the G.O.P. ...

(entry originally posted 14/06/06)


(Google caches of the original posts - in English and in French)