Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Food for Thought: The Perennial Problem

When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

- Cree Prophecy

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Spare Me the Shiny Objects

Alright. I started writing a post about how the CIA is still up to the same things it's always been, despite this facade of "reform" that the public has been presented but I'm a bit out of practice when it comes to blogging and I was boring myself.

What's really been on my mind, politically speaking, has been the coverage of Obama's Big Adventure in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, and wherever else he's taking his rock show on the road. "Perfect", cooed Keith Olbermann about the trip when I caught a quick clip of him last nite. Really?

I found myself agreeing with whatever other talking head it was last nite who said that Obama's trotting around over there as if he's already the president is a bit "presumptuous"? No kidding.

I thought it was supposed to be a "fact-finding" mission. Obviously not. What else can you conclude when he blows off Petraeus in Iraq? He might as well have "I'm the decider" already tattooed on his forehead. No facts to be found there, apparently. Not that I have any great love for Petraeus (and definitely not for that illegal, immoral war) but didn't Obama say he'd consult with and actually listen to the commanders on the ground? Why do I smell shades of dubya here? Not good.

You want more presumptuousness? The fact that he's going to give his speech at the Dem convention - not like the rest of the average schmoes who win the nomination and speak on the convention floor - but in a stadium that holds tens of thousands of people - as if he's the second coming of Martin Luther Ling Jr. Spare me.

And spare me this too. (I'd post the transcript but it isn't up yet.) On Larry King's show tonite, someone dared call Obama "arrogant" to which a black female guest immediately reacted in anger saying (paraphrased) that she's tired of confident black men/people being labeled that way. (Of course, what she really meant was that as far as she was concerned the other person had just called Obama "uppity" because - you know - black people are never arrogant, right? She obviously couldn't miss the chance to turn a perfectly valid criticism about Obama's behaviour into a race issue. I'll tell you what, lady. Check out Condi Rice's history and then get back to me on the subject of those invisible "arrogant" black people.) Sheesh. And guess what? I can say that and it's not racist, so get over it.

So riddle me this, Obama supporters: what exactly is new about Obama's policies? Where's the "change"? He wants a surge in Afghanistan (as if he can send in the calvary and "win" that war. Good luck. Ain't gonna happen.) He wants the troops out of Iraq - a longstanding Dem party position. He wants to be Israel's bestest friend. Again, no "change" there. And yet he's running around like the New Superman with clean & improved tights. "New". What's new? Oh. I forgot to mention Africa. Google AFRICOM. He supports it.

Sidebar: speaking of arrogant politicians and Africa, did you know that the price of oil went up a bit last week because, as reported in The Independent:

Gordon Brown is being accused of preparing for a military adventure in Africa after he pledged to provide backing to the Nigerian security forces. His announcement prompted the collapse of a ceasefire in the oil-rich Niger Delta and helped to drive up crude oil prices on world markets.

Name me one world leader (or presumptive US Democratic or Republican presidential nominee) who doesn't support the ever destructive policy of "intervention" - that innocuous word we like to use when we're pretending to help other countries while we actually want to steal their resources and/or change their government. For another example, see: Iran - that "grave threat", as Obama calls it, that's actually...probably...10 years away from making a nuclear weapon according to the NIE. But the US MUST intervene to save the world. Right? Haven't we seen this movie before? And did we like the ending the last time? No. And do we want a sequel? Hell no. Not me, at least.

If I sound cranky about this overblown Obama hype (which seems to be some sort of contagious disease that, despite my defective immune system, I haven't managed to catch), it's because I am.

I haven't been around the blogs and the world o' news lately as much as I usually am. Life's been happening. But I did catch Obamalama supporters like Arianna Huffington lamenting the undeniable fact that Obama is actually a centrist. This was news to her, apparently. Not surprising, I guess, since so many Obama supporters seemed to want to spend more time being dazzled by his image (ooo...he scored a 3-pointer with the US troops in Iraq...he's so dreamy) to really pay attention to his actual proposed policies. That's just wonkish stuff. Besides, as more than one Obamamite recently wrote about his boneheaded FISA vote, once he's president he'll change. And how many failed marriages started with exactly that premise? I rest my case.

I'll tell you what though, Obama supporters: you're going to get exactly what you deserve if he does win. You think he's somehow not beholden to lobbies because he hasn't taken campaign contributions from them? (Well, he did from many of corporate America's "employees", but that doesn't count, right?) Wrong. You have 2 corporation-driven parties in the US: the Republicans and the Democrats. If you seriously think Obama's going to change that, I have a shiny barrel of oil that I just dug up in my back yard to sell you. FISA FISA FISA. Once again, I rest my case. (I have more than a little problem with politicians who sell out civil and human rights. Sue me.)

And take a moment to think about which special interests (hint: the oil companies) are currently benefiting from all of this sabre-rattling against Iran coming from both candidates. Isn't that just a little bit of a problem for us peasants out here? Both: guilty as charged of pointing at scary objects while the rest of us pay for it. "Change"? I don't think so.

In the end, I don't know how Obama can't win though. McCain is about as interesting as the latest image of the Virgin Mary found on a piece of toast. Been there, done that. (Mind you, they do still sell on eBay™. That's why McCain will get votes. Some people like stale novelties.) But, please, in the meantime spare me the Obama as superhero coverage. Really. He's not Superman™ and he's not even Underdog™. He's just another Dem politician and I've had just about enough of those, thank you very much.

You want "change"? Make it happen. The Democrats are not going to do it for you. Exhibit A: the refusal to impeach Bush. That should tell you just about everything you need to know about the Democratic party and its presumptive nominee today. And that's just sad. You want shiny objects? How about handcuffs around Bush's wrists?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Fun: Cowboy Style

Found locally:

I wonder if Stevie Boy Harper has one of those signs - compassionate conservative cowboy that he is...

(That pic never gets old.)

The Canadian Gov't Knew Khadr Was Tortured

While they were busy down south talking about Barack Obama's nuts, the big news in Canada on Thursday was the release of secret documents (.pdf file) related to interrogations of child soldier Omar Khadr who has been incarcerated in Gitmo for 5 years and who has, through his lawyers, previously alleged torture.

Now there's proof, not only of one of the US military's methods, but of the fact that this Conservative government knew about it and continued to maintain that Khadr has been well-treated.

From an April 20, 2004 memo:

6. In an effort to make him more amenable and willing to talk,[___] has placed Umar on the -frequent flyer program: for the three weeks before Mr [___~s] visit, Umar has not been permitted more than three hours in anyone location. At three hours intervals he is moved to another cell block, thus denying him uninterrupted'sleep and a continued change of neighbours. He will soon be placed in isolation for up to three weeks and then he will be interviewed again. [___] stated that they (the Army) has a "big file" on Umar and were not really looking for much now.

Our illustrious prime minister Bush lap dog, pulled out his number one response to anything his Conservatives are blamed for ie. "the Liberals knew it/did it too!" (this time, that's true) and then attempted to assure the public that government lawyers were "monitoring those legal processes" (what "legal" processes??) so they don't have to actually care about a pesky annoyance like a fellow Canadian citizen's human rights.

Government lawyers "monitoring" the process. No doubt from the same school of thought as Gonzales and Yoo who both turned out to be torture-loving assholes who couldn't wait to shred the Geneva Conventions.

I sense a lawsuit in Steve's future.

Anyway, we already knew that Steve and his band of blood-sucking misfits wouldn't lift a finger to help Omar Khadr and that they were complicit in whatever goes on with him in Gitmo. I've written about that several times. My level of outrage about this case has definitely not diminished and won't any time soon. What we need here is the rest of the damn public to DEMAND he be brought home. Enough is enough. There's more to being a Canadian that complaining about gas prices and the weather.

There was also another statement in those documents that caught my eye as I read through them. The fact that the US military is incredibly incompetent when it comes to understanding Muslims has been well-documented for years but who knew that our government was just as culturally and socially retarded?

Here's a statement from one of Khadr's interrogation summaries in the memo signed by "R. Scott Heatherington, Director, Foreign Intelligence Division" written on Department of Foreign Affairs letterhead about Jim Gould's 2004 visit with Khadr:

Aside: After Mr Gould terminated the interview· he and two of the monitors continued to watch Umar via the CATV system. After half an hour and despite the restraints imposed by the shackles, Umar stood up as best he could and began to strike 'body-building' poses in the mirror on the wall (the latter is a one-way mirror. but the interior curtain had never been pulled back, so he may have assumed he was not being watched). Vanity among the young is not restricted to the Christian world!

And, apparently, stupidity isn't restricted to the Pentagon.

Mr Heatherington then goes on to write:

Certainly Urnar did not appear to have been affected by three weeks on the "frequent flyer" program. He did not yawn or indicate in any way that he was tired throughout the two hour interview. It seems likely that the natural resilience of a well-fed and healthy seventeen-year old are keeping him going.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along now.

Hey, I wonder if Mr Heatherington would like to demonstrate just exactly how non-threatening sleep deprivation is. Maybe he has a 17 year old son who'd be willing to volunteer for a demonstration? Just feed him a Big Mac™ and have at it. We'll wait. (Jerk.)

Obviously, Heatherington's ignorance knows no bounds as he then writes (without seeming to notice how this contradicts what he just assumed):

16. Finally, as an amateur observer of the human condition, Mr Gould would describe Umar as a thoroughly "screwed Up" young man. All those persons who have been in positions of authority over him have abused him and his trust, for their own purposes. In this group can be included his parents and grand-parents. his associates in Afghanistan and fellow detainees in Camp Delta and the US military, I think that [___] was probably correct when he said that Umar has probably established pseudo-parents in the Camp and they probably aren't doing him any good. Before he is returned to Canada (if this were to be a possibility) some thought should be given to 'managing this process' and the social service agencies should play' a major role. . .

17. He does, however, have some feelings.

Oh, but Steve says he's fine and Heatherington thinks that as long as he's flexing his muscles everything's dandy. Case closed. I suppose the added bonus that he has "feelings" is further proof of what a normal life it is that he's been leading in a prison camp for all of these years.

Are you kidding me?

Apparently, the fact that DVDs are set to be released showing these interrogations of Mr Khadr has prompted some ass-covering:

A federal government official who dispatched an envoy to Guantanamo Bay to visit al-Qaeda suspect Omar Khadr says his department lost an early bid to keep the teenager out of the controversial U.S. prison camp.

In an interview, Gar Pardy, the now retired head of consular programs for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, said that in 2002-03 “we were fighting for Omar [Khadr],” whom he regarded as too young for Guantanamo.

“I wanted to use his age as the largest club we had to beat up the Americans on,” Mr. Pardy said. But he added that Canadian initiatives to protect the prisoner's rights got lost among departments and officials with competing priorities.

I'm sorry - but how the fuck does that even happen?

"Hey. The yanks picked up a 15 year old Canadian kid in Afghanistan who was seriously wounded in a firefight and they're hauling him off to Gitmo."

"File that one somewhere for now. The president of [insert obscure country's name here] is coming for a visit next year and we need to be prepared."

"No problem."

He was a child.

“We were opposed to the transfer; we wanted him back here,” said Mr. Pardy, who added that in September of 2002 DFAIT sent a diplomatic note to Washington urging that the then-teenager be kept out of Guantanamo Bay. “Our approach was we were going to try to leave him in Afghanistan.”

The bid failed. Mr. Khadr was soon sent to Cuba and the fallback plan, according to Mr. Pardy, was to figure out a way to get a Canadian envoy to “see Omar, touch him, talk to him a bit.”

How human of you. As if.

“The practice described to the Canadian official in March, 2004, was, in my view, a breach of international human-rights law,” ruled Judge Mosley in a decision released earlier this spring. “…Canada became implicated in the violation when the DFAIT officials were provided with the redacted information and chose to proceed with the interview.”

Foreign Affairs officials bristle at the stark language of the series of rulings. Mr. Pardy, who retired in late 2003, contends the judges may be missing the point.

“What we were concerned with was what kind of medical treatment he was getting in Guantanamo,” he said. And ultimately, the blame for what goes on in Guantanamo Bay, he says, rests with the government that created it.

“For the longest time, neither Congress nor the judicial system played their appropriate role under the Constitution,” he said. “They were all saluting the executive.”

And you, sir, and everyone who went along with letting Khadr rot in Gitmo while you knew he was being tortured were busy licking that executives' nuts (if you really want to talk about nuts). You still are.

May you all be forever haunted.

Friday, July 04, 2008


My princess Fabiana lilies

It's been a crazy two weeks since I moved - trying to get organized and settled while keeping an eye out for another place to move to since this household is so dysfunctional (to put it mildly). I also caught a nasty cold the day we moved but I'm pretty much over that now.

In the meantime, I found out that my daughter's father (whom I'd left when she was 2 months old - 30 years ago - but whom I've also been in touch with frequently since then) is in a hospice dying of colon cancer. I had known about the diagnosis in 2006 but his condition has really deteriorated the past six months. He's lost most of his body weight - used to be a pretty big guy - but he's in good spirits and is working on his life story etc. Had a good visit with him the other day going over our past together. He was one of those wild guys who got kicked out of his hometown for being a yahoo when he was a teen. Needless to say, we had a lot of fun back then. I'm looking forward to spending more time with him. He's not going down without a fight.

One of his regrets is that he dedicated his time to working in the oil patch because he realized too late in life just how much that business destroys the environment. That's quite the admission, afaic. He's also very much into native spirituality now with his animal spirit identified for him as the eagle, so that's become extremely important to him and brings him a lot of peace.

I've never had to deal with someone close to me dying from a terminal illness but, as with everything, it's one day at a time.

I need to add that, as we were going over our perspectives on the past, we both learned that miscommunications and gossip from other people that we didn't even know about until we talked the other day had influenced both of us for years - and this was about major life events that seriously impacted both of us in separate ways because neither one of us knew the real truth. I cannot stress how important it is to clear these things up so people can actually move on knowing the truth but that should never have to wait until the end of one's life is near. It's never too early to clear the air and to be honest with someone else about how you saw your life with them and it's so necessary for peace of mind. I'm glad we were able to straighten out some of those issues. It's tragic that it took this to happen until we finally managed to do it.

I've finally been able to slow down a bit and breath the last couple of days. That's why the name of this post is "whirlwind". It's all been very chaotic and exhausting. (In the middle of all of this, I was set up on my second blind date ever but that's another story. I'm one of those people who actually enjoys being alone so this has added a bit of extra stress. Life seems to be pushing me along and, as usual, I'm pushing back.)

I've kept a bit of an eye on the US presidential race but, as I predicted, it's so incredibly boring that I know I'm not missing much anyway. I do plan to get back into the swing of daily blogging now as much as I can. I'll see how things go. My apologies to those who've been waiting for me to get back to posting.

Speaking of yahoos, the Calgary Stampede started today. I doubt I'll head down to the grounds but you can bet that I'll hit every Stampede Breakfast I possibly can. Good, free food. What's not to like??

Alrighty - just writing all of that down wore me out. Off to catch up on things.

Happy Independence Day to my yank friends! Don't overdose on the hot dogs.