Friday, August 28, 2009

Kansas Republican calls for "great white hope"

A rather unfortunate choice of words, don't you think?

A Republican congresswoman from Kansas is issuing a great big apology for saying the GOP is searching for a "great white hope" to stop President Obama's policy agenda.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins "apologizes if her words have offended anyone," her spokesman, Mary Geiger, said. "That was not the intent in any way, shape or form."

During an Aug. 19 forum, Jenkins attempted to reassure the crowd that that the Republican Party has promising young leaders.

"Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope," Jenkins, who is white, said. "I suggest to any of you who are concerned about that, who are Republican, there are some great young Republican minds in Washington."

Later, at an event at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Jenkins denied she was using racial terms. She said she meant only that the GOP needs "a bright light."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gary Doer is moving on

The longest serving Premier in the country has decided to call it quits. He'll be missed, but I don't think it's the end of the road for his government. Certainly his personal popularity has been an important part of the NDP's success in Manitoba, but they're hardly a one man show; within his own caucus there are a number of worthy successors. Bill Blaikie, Theresa Oswald, and Greg Selinger would all be fine leaders, for instance; Blaikie is almost universally respected even by his opponents, Oswald has shown that she has the fortitude to stand up to a withering attack (as health minister she's had to fight off the Tory and Liberal attack dogs at every turn), and Selinger has done a fine job as finance minister. In this babble thread Scott Piatkowski suggests that Jennifer Howard ought to run, and he has a point; although she's a relative newcomer, she's highly intelligent and likeable. Steve Ashton is another possibility; someone calling themself Brodie, in a comment to this post at PolicyFrog's blog, claims that he's already sent out an email to his potential supporters, in fact (though this has to be treated as unconfirmed for now). Outside of caucus, some have suggested that Judy Wasylycia-Leis and/or Pat Martin might run as well, though that seems a bit less likely to me (and they'd be sorely missed at the federal level if they did).

We'll have to see how see how it goes. In any case, I think there's still plenty of life left in the provincial NDP; this should be more of a changing of the guard than the end of an era. Let's hope so, anyhow.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senate reform, Harper style

Just like the last round:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to fill Senate vacancies with some of his closest Conservative backers in the second round of Red Chamber patronage appointments in less than a year.

Mr. Harper’s campaign chair, Doug Finley, and his long-time communications assistant, Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, are set to become senators in the coming days. Conservative Party president Don Plett is also on the list of Senate nominees.

Mr. Finley was a key player in the controversial “in-and-out” advertising system in the 2006 election, in which the Conservative Party sent funds to local campaigns to buy national television ads. The strategy allowed the party to stay within maximum spending limits, but has come under sharp criticism by Elections Canada. Mr. Finley is expected to take an Ontario seat, while Mr. Plett will be a Manitoba senator and Ms. Stewart-Olsen will represent New Brunswick.

This is the second time in a row that Mr. Harper has appointed senators when Parliament is not sitting, allowing him to escape opposition attacks. He named 18 new Conservative senators to the Liberal-dominated chamber last December, just before Christmas, including party fundraisers and officials.

While Mr. Harper has long been critical of the Senate and its appointment system, and had vowed not to fill any vacancies until reforms had been put in place, he argued last year that he had to start making his own nominations.

From the Globe and Mail. Funny thing, that...

Man jailed three months for breath mint possession

No joke:
A man is suing the Kissimmee Police Department for an arrest over mints. When officers pulled Donald May over for an expired tag, they thought the mints he was chewing were crack and arrested him.

May told Eyewitness News they wouldn't let him out of jail for three months until tests proved the so-called drugs were candy.
From here, via babbittd in this iTulip thread.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In Surrey, they'd rather have shit than homeless people

Sad but true:

A controversial manure cure for homelessness in Surrey was apparently the result of discussions between city staff and members of the Surrey RCMP, Deputy City Manager Dan Bottrill said Monday.

Bottrill said he is still trying to determine exactly who came up with the idea of spreading smelly chicken manure around a Whalley social service building to drive away vagrants.

City bylaw staff, RCMP and members of the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association (that represents local merchants) were involved in the talks, Bottrill said.

Bottrill said the Aug. 14 dumping at the Front Room drop-in centre in the 10600-block of 135A Street appears to be have been a result of a "well-intentioned" attempt at finding a solution to the problem of the many homeless people who hang out in the area.

Source. Of course, the city is now backpedalling furiously now that the story has hit the media...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

On the farm workers' decertification vote

You may have heard about the migrant workers at a farm in Manitoba who first voted to unionize, then to decertify. Predictably, the usual spin by the MSM is that unions are no good for farm workers, blah blah blah. Interestingly, though, the Winnipeg Free Press (of all things) has published an opinion piece which puts a rather different light on things:

Recent media reports state that workers at Mayfair Farms in Portage La Prairie chose to decertify after the long struggle to unionize. What those reports don't talk about is the threats that workers received when they expressed interest in unionizing. At least one strong union supporter was denied return to Mayfair Farms this year.

The day before the decertification vote the Mexican consul -- which has a vested interest in keeping workers in Canada, as their remittances are a major source of national income -- held a closed-door meeting with workers at Mayfair Farms. Early this summer the Mexican consul visited all farms with seasonal agricultural workers in Manitoba letting workers know that should they unionize they would be blacklisted.

The lack of permanent status, the ever-present threat of being sent home, their isolation and their inability to communicate in either official language leave them among the most exploited of Canadian workers. Yet, they keep coming back.

As Diego explains; "I know I'm exploited here. At least if I work here my children eat. At home I'm exploited and my children don't eat."

Workers are keen to get as many hours as they can while they are in Canada -- up to 110 hours/week. A major gain for unionized workers had been the equal distribution of overtime hours. Without a union, in periods of work shortage, only those workers closest to the boss, such as crew foremen, would work overtime. With a union, overtime hours were shared equally. The union contract also ensured that workers who became sick were taken care of, instead of being sent home.

Unfortunately, the important gains that the unionized workers achieved were offset by the employer's decision to undermine the union by reducing the work week to a maximum of 70 hours. This sudden and arbitrary reduction in the work week meant that workers lost up to 30 per cent of their income, a move Mayfair Farms knew would be devastating to workers trying to send as much money as possible to their impoverished families. Clearly this was a very effective strategy in reducing union support. Now that the union has been decertified, workers are only protected by provincial legislation.

The CBC article linked to above is actually far more right wing in its spin than this piece. I find this a bit strange, given the accusations generally leveled at the CBC for having a "left wing bias".

Thursday, August 13, 2009

U.K. health system hits back at ‘untruths’

Further to yesterday's post, the Brits aren't taking this lying down:
LONDON - Britain's health care service says it is sick of being lied about.

Pilloried by right-wing critics of President Barack Obama's health care plan, Britain's National Health Service, known here as the NHS, is fighting back.

"People have been saying some untruths in the States," a spokesman for Britain Department of Health said in a telephone interview. "There's been all these ridiculous claims made by the American health lobby about Obama's health care plan ... and they've used the NHS as an example. A lot of it has been untrue."

Source. Meanwhile, as pointed out by a poster here, our own government is strangely silent on all the lies and half-truths being brought forward about our system. But then, when you look at the shite that our esteemed Prime Minister spewed back when he was with the National Citizens' Coalition, it's no surprise. He's just learned not to express such opinions now that he has to answer to the public.

Health care critic says that Hawking "wouldn't have a chance" in the UK

From Dispatches From the Culture Wars' "Dumbass Quote of the Day" file, an anti-health-care op-ed that says that Stephen Hawking wouldn't get any health care in the UK because our "socialist" system doesn't value the lives of disabled people. As Culture Wars notes, "Stephen Hawking was born and raised in the UK and has lived there all his life. He teaches at Cambridge. That's in the UK. This ranks up there with the French not having a word for entrepreneur."
From BoingBoing. There's a link to the op-ed in question, but it's been edited to remove all reference to Hawking except this:
Editor's Note: This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK.
Of course, getting caught in this particular falsehood isn't likely to change them.

Bush spoke of supernatural beings in discussions with Chirac


Incredibly, President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse.

Honest. This isn’t a joke. The president of the United States, in a top-secret phone call to a major European ally, asked for French troops to join American soldiers in attacking Iraq as a mission from God.

Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”


Monday, August 10, 2009

Dubious accusations of violence against union activists

Perhaps you've heard of Kenneth Gladney. He's the guy who claims that those wicked union thugs beat him up for daring to oppose Obama's evil socialist agenda (you know, stuff like ensuring that everyone can get health care). Thing is, there's a video of part of the confrontation, which calls Mr. Gladney's account into question:

Via Media Matters. Note that the guy lying on the ground at the beginning is not Gladney, but an SEIU member. Note too that Gladney doesn't appear to be hurt in the video, yet according to Crooks and Liars he showed up at a press conference in a wheelchair. Now sure, it's possible that one of the SEIU activists started the confrontation (since the video doesn't catch the beginning) but there's certainly no more reason to believe this than there is to believe that Gladney started it. I suspect less, because union activists know they're not going to be cut much slack. And even if it turns out that some SEIU person did start this, it's clear that Gladney wants to milk this for all it's worth, as do his fellow conservatives. And the wheelchair stunt suggests that he's not one to let the truth get in the way of a good story.

But it falls to Blaque to point out the most delicious irony. Gladney's right wing buddies are taking up a collection, because he doesn't have health insurance! You'd think that might make them reconsider their position...

Friday, August 7, 2009

More right wing craziness

Now they're inciting violence:
Based on the news that health care events are edging into violence, an anti-health care reform protester in New Mexico named Scott Oskay is calling on his hundreds of online followers to bring firearms to town halls, and to 'badly hurt' SEIU and ACORN counter protesters.
Not an isolated incident, either. They're calling SEIU and leaving threatening voicemails:
"I suggest you tell your people to calm down, act like American citizens, and stop trying to repress people's First Amendment rights," said Diana. "That, or y'all are gonna come up against the Second Amendment. Stop the violence."
Source. As a commenter there says, there's a pathological degree of projection in that statement; you can be assured that if SEIU, ACORN, or any left-leaning organization was actually getting violent, the crackdown would be huge. But when these brownshirts start uttering threats and urging others to "badly hurt" people, where's the response?

Lest anyone think I'm singling out the Americans unfairly, we have some pretty loopy folks up here too. For instance:

Recently, outspoken advocate, former Neepawa mayor, newspaper publisher and PC party member Ken Waddell figured out what he said was the reason for increased crime. He claimed that across the province, you can take crime stats maps and overlay them with an election map with a high degree of accuracy.

The low crime areas are in PC constituencies while the high crime areas are ruled by NDP.

“Is it only a coincidence?” he asks. “Could it be that the criminal element knows how to support the NDP and could it be that the NDP leadership knows not to go too hard on crime?”

Obviously this theory is about as crackpot as they come. In fact suggesting the NDP government is somehow in bed with the criminal element, who gets their gangster friends to vote NDP, with an organized push to stay soft on crime, would be slander if it wasn’t too ludicrous to ever be taken seriously.

From the Altona Red River Valley Echo. You know it's a crackpot theory when even a small town paper, owned by Sun Media no less, calls it for what it is.

What, you mean they don't hate me??

It seems that, contrary to popular belief, women who self-identify as feminists actually are less likely to have hostile attitudes towards men than those who do not:

From here, via martin dufresne in this babble thread. No doubt some heads will explode as a result of this... or would, at least, if the mainstream media picked up the story.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What the heck is with these "birthers" anyway?

No doubt you've heard of these people. They are absolutely convinced that Obama was not born in the US, and nothing will satisfy them. Here's some in action:

Via mesyn191 in this iTulip thread. Scary, no? And doesn't it occur to them that if there were any serious reason to believe that Obama was not qualified for office, that John McCain or Hilary Clinton would have dug it up? I mean, wouldn't you, if you were in their position? No doubt the birthers would say they're in on the nefarious scheme too, though.

And as others have pointed out, no previous president has faced scrutiny of this type. Nobody spread rumours about JFK actually having been secretly born in Ireland. But to a lot of people, Obama doesn't look like a real American. And an awful lot of elected officials are reluctant to discuss their views on the matter:

Via Blaque. Oh, and by the way, the birth certificate is shown here.