Thursday, March 31, 2011

I'm not Michael Ignatieff, and you're also not Michael Ignatieff.

The Conservative Party of Canada Platform 2011

OK, we don't have a platform. Like last time, we'll probably let you know what the platform is a few days before the actual election. But that's not important right now.

What is important is to know that there are literally millions of Canadians who are not Michael Ignatieff. This is crucial. If there were over 30 million Michael Ignatieffs in this country, a majority of them might vote for the real Ignatieff, with disastrous results that are only too apparent.

For one thing, he'd probably leave the country and go back to Harvard, trying to be the Prime Minister of Canada in a way that all his intellectual friends would "ooh" and "aah" over. The alternative is me, Stephen Harper, a known quanitity that would be kicked out of Harvard as soon as possible, or even earlier. What higher praise is there than that?

A great deal is being made in the liberal, communist, CBC press that I'm not answering any questions. What questions? What I'm offering is a stable, sensible, common-sense, fascist government that makes the trains run on time and is an enthusiastic partner in NATO, but not the United Nations. What more do you want?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

George Orwell and the "Improvised Explosive Device"

As Tom Lehrer said, when China successfully detonated a nuclear bomb, the Americans called it a "device."

As George Orwell said:

"Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

"I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

"Here it is in modern English:

"Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account."

There's a lesson here people, which is that an "Improvised Explosive Device" - an invention of the Iraq invasion of 2003 - is the same thing as a land mine, the subject of an international treaty known, ironically in this context, as the "Ottawa Convention," unsigned by the United States, whether locally or remotely detonated. It's not new.

The latest Canadian - Yannick Scherrer - to be killed in Afghanistan is reported to have died from an "improvised explosive device." He was killed by a land mine. He was killed in precisely the same area where Canadians have been killed by land mines for the past five years.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Brer Osama Makes a Tar Baby for Uncle Sam

"It was a slow, difficult, painful process, they were responsible men and patriots, and they did not lightly back away from their own, let alone America's, commitments. They, as much as Lyndon Johnson, had encouraged this course, and they, as much as he, were stuck on this tar baby."

David Halberstam
The Powers That Be
University of Illinois Press, 2000
pg. 481


"Didn't the fox never catch the rabbit, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy the next evening.

"He come mighty nigh it, honey, sho's you born--Brer Fox did. One day atter Brer Rabbit fool 'im wid dat calamus root, Brer Fox went ter wuk en got 'im some tar, en mix it wid some turkentime, en fix up a contrapshun w'at he call a Tar-Baby, en he tuck dish yer Tar-Baby en he sot 'er in de big road, en den he lay off in de bushes fer to see what de news wuz gwine ter be. En he didn't hatter wait long, nudder, kaze bimeby here come Brer Rabbit pacin' down de road--lippity-clippity, clippity -lippity--dez ez sassy ez a jay-bird. Brer Fox, he lay low.

Brer Rabbit come prancin' 'long twel he spy de Tar-Baby, en den he fotch up on his behime legs like he wuz 'stonished. De Tar Baby, she sot dar, she did, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"`Mawnin'!' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee - `nice wedder dis mawnin',' sezee.

"Tar-Baby ain't sayin' nuthin', en Brer Fox he lay low.

"`How duz yo' sym'tums seem ter segashuate?' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

"Brer Fox, he wink his eye slow, en lay low, en de Tar-Baby, she ain't sayin' nuthin'.

"'How you come on, den? Is you deaf?' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee. 'Kaze if you is, I kin holler louder,' sezee.

"Tar-Baby stay still, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"'You er stuck up, dat's w'at you is,' says Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'en I'm gwine ter kyore you, dat's w'at I'm a gwine ter do,' sezee.

"Brer Fox, he sorter chuckle in his stummick, he did, but Tar-Baby ain't sayin' nothin'.

"'I'm gwine ter larn you how ter talk ter 'spectubble folks ef hit's de las' ack,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee. 'Ef you don't take off dat hat en tell me howdy, I'm gwine ter bus' you wide open,' sezee.

"Tar-Baby stay still, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"Brer Rabbit keep on axin' 'im, en de Tar-Baby, she keep on sayin' nothin', twel present'y Brer Rabbit draw back wid his fis', he did, en blip he tuck 'er side er de head. Right dar's whar he broke his merlasses jug. His fis' stuck, en he can't pull loose. De tar hilt 'im. But Tar-Baby, she stay still, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"`Ef you don't lemme loose, I'll knock you agin,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, en wid dat he fotch 'er a wipe wid de udder han', en dat stuck.

Tar-Baby, she ain'y sayin' nuthin', en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"`Tu'n me loose, fo' I kick de natal stuffin' outen you,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, but de Tar-Baby, she ain't sayin' nuthin'. She des hilt on, en de Brer Rabbit lose de use er his feet in de same way. Brer Fox, he lay low. Den Brer Rabbit squall out dat ef de Tar-Baby don't tu'n 'im loose he butt 'er cranksided. En den he butted, en his head got stuck. Den Brer Fox, he sa'ntered fort', lookin' dez ez innercent ez wunner yo' mammy's mockin'-birds.

"`Howdy, Brer Rabbit,' sez Brer Fox, sezee. `You look sorter stuck up dis mawnin',' sezee, en den he rolled on de groun', en laft en laft twel he couldn't laff no mo'. `I speck you'll take dinner wid me dis time, Brer Rabbit. I done laid in some calamus root, en I ain't gwineter take no skuse,' sez Brer Fox, sezee."

Here Uncle Remus paused, and drew a two-pound yam out of the ashes.

"Did the fox eat the rabbit?" asked the little boy to whom the story had been told.

"Dat's all de fur de tale goes," replied the old man. "He mout, an den agin he moutent. Some say Judge B'ar come 'long en loosed 'im - some say he didn't. I hear Miss Sally callin'. You better run 'long."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The election is about contempt.

It's not about the budget.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Open Season in Libya

It's hard to believe that Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter governs what's going on in Libya. What it looks like now is that if you get a UN Security Council resolution authorizing any kind of military action, then it's a free-for-all, and anybody with serious "Need To Protect" fantasies can just act them out without any supervision by grown-ups. You don't need a chain of command, or a plan, or anything - just go for it.

The way it's supposed to work is:

Article 42

Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

Article 43

  1. All Members of the United Nations, in order to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, undertake to make available to the Security Council, on its call and in accordance with a special agreement or agreements, armed forces, assistance, and facilities, including rights of passage, necessary for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security.
  2. Such agreement or agreements shall govern the numbers and types of forces, their degree of readiness and general location, and the nature of the facilities and assistance to be provided.
  3. The agreement or agreements shall be negotiated as soon as possible on the initiative of the Security Council. They shall be concluded between the Security Council and Members or between the Security Council and groups of Members and shall be subject to ratification by the signatory states in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.

Article 44

When the Security Council has decided to use force it shall, before calling upon a Member not represented on it to provide armed forces in fulfilment of the obligations assumed under Article 43, invite that Member, if the Member so desires, to participate in the decisions of the Security Council concerning the employment of contingents of that Member's armed forces.

Article 45

In order to enable the United Nations to take urgent military measures, Members shall hold immediately available national air-force contingents for combined international enforcement action. The strength and degree of readiness of these contingents and plans for their combined action shall be determined within the limits laid down in the special agreement or agreements referred to in Article 43, by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee.

Article 46

Plans for the application of armed force shall be made by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee.

Article 47

  1. There shall be established a Military Staff Committee to advise and assist the Security Council on all questions relating to the Security Council's military requirements for the maintenance of international peace and security, the employment and command of forces placed at its disposal, the regulation of armaments, and possible disarmament.
  2. The Military Staff Committee shall consist of the Chiefs of Staff of the permanent members of the Security Council or their representatives. Any Member of the United Nations not permanently represented on the Committee shall be invited by the Committee to be associated with it when the efficient discharge of the Committee's responsibilities requires the participation of that Member in its work.
  3. The Military Staff Committee shall be responsible under the Security Council for the strategic direction of any armed forces placed at the disposal of the Security Council. Questions relating to the command of such forces shall be worked out subsequently.
  4. The Military Staff Committee, with the authorization of the Security Council and after consultation with appropriate regional agencies, may establish regional sub-committees.

So far, the UN Military Staff Committee is MIA for almost 70 years, and as for "authorization" by constitutional processes of participating Members, forgedaboudit.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Canada's Crusader Rabbit...

...takes on Dudley Nightshade

Too bad we didn't have any F-35's. Never mind, Canada's corporations shouldn't be afraid to do business with Libya, when we find out what it is.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

To kill an eagle.

Resolution 1973 (2011)Adopted by the Security Council at its 6498th meeting, on 17 March 2011
The Security Council,
Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
1. Demands the immediate establishment of a cease-fire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians;
2. Stresses the need to intensify efforts to find a solution to the crisis which responds to the legitimate demands of the Libyan people and notes the decisions of the Secretary-General to send his Special Envoy to Libya and of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union to send its ad hoc High Level Committee to Libya with the aim of facilitating dialogue to lead to the political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution...

National mythology dies hard. The recent UN Security Council Resolution authorizing force in Libya passed 10-0 with 5 abstentions. This is a little different from UNSCR 1970 (February 26, 2011) that passed 15-0, referring the Libyan government to the International Criminal Court. China and Russia abstained on the intervention of course, but of greater interest is that Germany, India, and Brazil abstained.

Germany has been a great source of wisdom in international affairs in recent years, the madness of the Afghanistan involvement excepted. One can easily imagine Germany has no wish to involve itself in north Africa, the memories of the last involvement being bitter. In fact, Germany has so many bitter memories, and seems to have faced them so squarely, that the contrast between Germany and the last great Imperial fantasists of Anglo-American grandiosity seems stark, the latter being obviously puerile, stupid, and doomed.

Once again, air power is imagined as an easy solution. Once again, ground troops are unthinkable. Once again, white Crusaders will be killing Muslims, even if the Muslims are homicidal, fratricidal, spoiled brats. Why, one asks oneself, are the Chinese not lining up to pulverize the rotten Ghadhafi and everything he and his slobbering sycophantic family stand for? And why is NATO, except Germany, so frantic about north Africa, having stood by for decades and watched the middle East - particularly Gaza - burn? And why is NATO perfectly OK with sending "terrorists" to Egypt to be tortured in dungeons the Egyptian people have now turfed on live television, even though they (the people of Egypt) got no support from the enlightened West? As Boy Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, said of the Egyptian revolution, you can't put toothpaste back in the tube. That's wisdom for you.

Nobody seemed to get too excited about mass rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Somehow though, when it's on television it becomes a potent factor in domestic public relations, meaning the squalid marketing of drivel that has become the substance of western democracies and their elections. Possibly, the Congo rape of children in HDTV on cable would elicit some outrage in NATO, but I'm not betting on it. The Public Affairs department of NATO, or whatever they're called these days, would gloss over it like napalm in Vietnam.

I'm looking forward to the Big Toys Boys doing their thing in Libya. It'll be a cakewalk.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Macondo 2 - This time, it's radioactive.

Sequel to Macondo, The Well from Hell

Summary: A hard-driving bunch of engineers, determined to produce vital energy supplies at rock-bottom prices, cuts corners with safety and ends up ambushed by a once-in-a-billion years event that could not have been predicted, imagined, or even thought of by any reasonable human being. Initial hand-wringing bleeding-heart whining by flaky environmentalists is met by crusty, stoical, laconic bulletins from highly trained bullshit artists. Meanwhile events spiral out of control, although strategic communications about the events are professionally managed.


Thad Allen.............Yukio Edano

Tony Hayward.......Masataka Shimizu

Barack Obama........Naoto Kan

Steven Chu..............Gregory Jaczko

Billy Nungesser.......Katsunobu Sakarai

...and a supporting cast of thousands, or more.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Truth and Marketing in Fukushima

In fact, the hourly dose at Fukushima was 72,000 times the background dose.

Various statements have appeared with regard to radiation at Fukushima following the earthquake and tsunami. To pick one example:

"Radiation levels around Fukushima for one hour's exposure rose to eight times the legal limit for exposure in one year", said the plant's operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco).

This statement is flagrantly, wilfully, criminally misleading. The cumulative dose is a separate issue from the pulse dose, as is obvious from radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and other forms of medical therapy. There is a reason that radiotherapy is fractionated, as is chemotherapy: the therapeutic effects have to be separated from the side effects. The fact that a plant worker received 8,000 times the yearly dose of radiation in one hour is significant, and perhaps lethal, and is nowhere recognized by TEPCO, IAEA, and various nuclear power interest groups.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Naked in Quantico

I think the United States Marine Corps is corrupt, as was suggested by Smedley Butler in 1931:

In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested....I had...a swell racket. I was rewarded with honours, medals, promotions...I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate a racket in three cities. The Marines operated on three continents.

Joel Bakan
The Corporation
Penguin Canada, 2004
pages 92-93

My understanding is that the original "shores of Tripoli" involved 8 Marines and 500 mercenaries. Plus ça change....

Nevertheless, in keeping Bradley Manning naked for his "safety" the Marines have hit on a solution to many of the world's major problems. All briefings should be conducted by spokespeople who are naked. I'm thinking here particularly of Geoff Morrell at the Pentagon. All meetings of the UN Security Council should be conducted by naked people. The President of the United States should be naked at all public appearances. The American Secretary of State should be naked at all public appearances. People should fly naked (see how simple that makes security?).

You see how this works: the more prestigious the occasion, the more reason for the main actors to be naked: the IMF, the World Bank, the Federal Reserve, the Politburo...the list goes on. Vladmir Putin is half the way there.

My dream is to see the American Joint Chiefs of Staff naked in a pyramid like Abu Ghraib. The Chairman, Mike Mullen, would of course be on top. He likes it that way.

Julia Gillard and International Women's Day

What Julia has taught us is that being a woman is no obstacle to corruption.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dust to Dust

Rise and decline of the SAS in north Africa

"A joint SAS-MI6 team was kicked out of Libya last night after their mission to link up with rebels fighting Colonel Gaddafi turned to farce.

"The eight-man unit was sent to have secret talks with opposition leaders but humiliatingly the team was detained and held by a group of farmhands.

"The crack troops, armed with guns, ammunition, explosives and false passports, were mistaken for enemy spies, detained and stripped of their mobile phones and satellite communications devices."

Read more:

Establishing a no-fly zone in Libya

When you've got a hammer....everything looks like a nail.

Why isn't the emphasis on a massive logistical/humanitarian relief? As Jim Gavin, famous American general, said about the folly of abdicating foreign policy to the military:

"Military people can always rationalize almost any problem's becoming military and thus susceptible to a military solution."

James M. Gavin
On to Berlin
"A fighting general's true story of airborne combat in World War II"
Viking Press, 1978, pg. 355-357

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Where in the world is Omar Suleiman?

And where is his collateral evidence, the huge cache of "insurance" documents that - should anything happen to Omar - would undoubtedly find its way onto the internet?

Friday, March 4, 2011

The April Fool election

Bring it on.

The Coup Against Roosevelt

"MacGuire and the plotters had made a fatal mistake in their choice of a leader, however. "With incredible ineptitude," states Jules Archer in The Plot to Seize the White House, "they had selected the wrong man." The plot, and the men behind it, represented everything Smedley Butler now despised. Over the years his youthful passion for battles abroad had given way to an equally fierce desire to fight hypocrisy at home. He had come to believe that war was a product of corporate greed, that his men had fought for no higher ideal than profit. On August 21, 1931 - a full two years before MacGuire first approached him - Butler had stunned an audience at an American Legion convention in Connecticut when he had said:"

I spent 33 years...being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism...

I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1916. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City [Bank] boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street...

In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested....I had...a swell racket. I was rewarded with honours, medals, promotions...I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate a racket in three cities. The Marines operated on three continents.

Joel Bakan
The Corporation
Penguin Canada, 2004
pages 92-93

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Canada's Foreign Policy

(image from "Nothing" iPhone app)

The sad truth is that Canada doesn't have a foreign policy. It has a collection of spinal reflexes, the afferent limbs being vague messages from Americans, and the efferent limbs being Canada's activity in NATO. That's about it. It's a good thing we're not on the Security Council, to which we would contribute nothing. As it is we're doing nothing about the Libyan humanitarian disaster, and John Baird is reassuring us that it's still OK for Canadian companies to work in Libya.

You can't get more nothing than that.