Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Holiday time

Yes, I'm aware I haven't posted for a few days. And it will be a couple more. But happy Canada Day / Dominion Day, everyone!

Friday, June 27, 2003

Compare and contrast

1969, Canada: Pierre Trudeau's government repeals the law banning sodomy, the Prime Minister declaring "The State has no place in the bedrooms of the nation."

1969, USA: The Stonewall Riots in New York begin a long march toward gay and lesbian civil rights.

2003, Canada: Same-sex marriage is recognized. Right-leaning people in Canada declare that while they has no problem extending the rights and priveleges of marriage to gay couples, they would prefer such unions not be called marriages.

2003, USA: The Supreme Court rejects a Texas law banning sodomy. (CNN shows a map, several times, of states with sodomy laws --- it bears a striking resemblance to a map of the Confederacy, if you ask me. What should I read into that?) A right-leaning person declares the court "has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda." That right-leaning person? Justice Scalia, of that self-same court.

Jebus! And if you want some real fun, read the dissenting opinions --- the three Justices that voted to sustain the law. Or read some of Senator Santorum's thoughtful reflections. Man, even Sullivan thinks those are a little crazy.

My point? Proud to be Canadian. Not much else, really. But hey, nice to be posting anything on this fancy new blogger.

Update Check out the survey accompanying this story. 60% of people agree that homosexual relations between consenting adults should be legal. Er.... 40% don't? Really? In the land of freedom and opportunity, the land that sent their children to die to liberate people they've never met (yes, I know that's not precicely what happened, but that's what they thought they were sending their children to die for), two people in every five think there should be laws about who puts their whatzits on consenting who's where? Two out of five? Two out of five?!? Buggar! Literally --- it's your patriotic duty.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

How'm I supposed to compete with this?

Sick of my political whining? Worrying too much about global warming, war, and the fact that our Premier is a good buddy of Vice President Mysterio? The by all means, it's time for you to be scanning photo weblogs instead.

Can you think of anything more derivative of actual communication? "I hate all of these thoughts and ideas... I want to look at grainy pictures!"

(In fairness, the photo weblog linked in the Time article has some neat pics. I just can't imagine most of them are that good. I suppose the same can be said for this sort of blog. I'm so conflicted!)
Finally, a conspiracy theory I can get behind

Why is the United States diving deeper into the quagmire of Iraq? What was going on in the minds of the major players creating a false sense of panic around WMD? Jim Lobe has an interesting thought on the subject: they want to get the United States in such a bad budgetary situation, there will be no choice but to make major cuts to social spending.

[Paul] Krugman, like the Financial Times, argues that the administration ideologues are deliberately creating a fiscal crisis in order to achieve their goal of dismantling a social and economic system that ensured domestic tranquility since the New Deal. "The people now running America aren't conservatives: they're radicals," wrote Krugman. "How can this be happening? Most people, even most liberals, are complacent. They don't realize how dire the fiscal outlook really is, and they don't read what the ideologues write."

Monday, June 23, 2003

Bad idea

Hey, who wants to extend a war that's already theoretically over? Er... that would be the Americans, who couldn't be bothered with making a case against Syria (they've read The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and decided against it), and would rather simply engage them in a firefight that could goad the Syrians into serious words with the USA.

This saves the trouble of forging documents and making wild accusations, to be sure, but is the US really up to another fight? See reason five of the eight reasons why WMD still matters:

5) As long as US forces are in Iraq, the North Koreans have a free hand. If they were to plunge across the Han River tomorrow, we have ONE heavy division able to deploy to Korea. Half of the US combat power is now stuck playing policeman in Iraq and will be for months, their equipment breaking down daily, men being killed by enemy action.
Admittedly, the forces would more conveniently be deployed to Syria than Korea, but really, isn't the preferable option to just freaking avoid starting another war? I'm in no way claiming that the Americans shot first (or that they didn't), only that avoiding confrontations like this should be an extremely high priority... higher than trying to collect an entire suit of Iraq bad guys, even.
I could post....

But then, I wouldn't have the time to read Order of the Phoenix. And so far so good.

Some advice for purchasing that worked for me. Forget the online store, and head to the enormous pallet in the middle of the entrance at Chapters. Then say very loudly, "Oh, look... the new Harry Potter book. I hadn't heard this was coming out."

Wander around for a while, browse other books. Then return to the pallet, find some poor sod staffperson dutied with hanging around it, and say, "Have you got the new Harry Potter book?"

Drives 'em crazy. Fun!

Friday, June 20, 2003

Cats sleeping with dogs

Damien Penny, of all people, shares my opinion that legal recognition of gay marriage is a good thing, not a bad thing. And I may surprise some of my left-leaning readers that I share his opinion that religious organizations do not have a duty to perform those marriages, though they may elect to do so. I strongly suspect my own church, the United Church of Canada, will be among the first; they've already been performing various joining ceremonies in a few congregations.

"The United Church seeks to support the diversity of families who uphold a secure environment for nurture, growth, and development and that will contribute to the spiritual, social, psychological, sexual, physical, and economic wholeness of the members," explains [Rev. Jackie] Harper. "It is the experience of the United Church that non-traditional family forms equally advance these family values."


Harper acknowledges that while some people within the United Church will find the concept of same-sex marriage a challenge to their understanding of the Bible, she says it is important for people of faith to explore scripture within the overarching theme of "a God who seeks people to live in loving, just relationships, and who longs for all God's people to know life in all its fullness" (John 10:10b).
The real trick, I suspect, will be convincing individual congregations to open their doors to these marriages... the central office can't legislate acceptance, and the Moderator doesn't issue encyclicals in the UCC.

What the hell... let's give Damien more props for noticing this appropriate little jewel in the Onion.
Winning hearts and minds

Now they admit it. In their own words, American soldiers describe shooting civilians in Iraq. But can you blame them? It was revenge, after all.

"There's a picture of the World Trade Centre hanging up by my bed and I keep one in my flak jacket. Every time I feel sorry for these people I look at that. I think, 'They hit us at home and, now, it's our turn.' I don't want to say payback but, you know, it's pretty much payback."
Via Tom.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

No charge

Two American pilots, involved in dropping bombs on Canadian soldiers training in Afghanistan in April 2002, will be walking away without being charged. There may be military reprimands, however.

In other news, American pilots continue to fly in war zones hopped up on speed. Perhaps the person who signed off on that decision should be facing criminal charges.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

But at least they're free!

Could the Americans act more like an occupying force rather than a liberator? Did they shoot a lot of Frenchmen at the end of WWII?

"Run him down... it's a suicide bomber!"
Hooray redux

Ottawa will not contest the Ontario court decision to recognize same-sex marriage.

I have to admit, part of my joy in this is that I think the Alberta Tories and the federal Liberals could both sustain significant self-inflicted wounds. Gay marriage is a subject, like capital punishment, which has a tendency to cause debate that generates much more heat than light.

The provincial Tories might in fact have the right idea: promise to do everything in their power on the side they've chosen, and when they lose, blame Ottawa. It's the best of three worlds: they get to appeal to the Ottawa bashers and the anti-gay rednecks, but in the end, they won't lose many that they had among the gay and gay-positive community. As long as the law stands despite Alberta's efforts, the position won't be any more of a deal-breaker than the Vriend debate was.

And if you're still waiting for me to make the eloquent arguments in favour of same-sex marriage, well, you'll have to keep waiting: while this is an extremely significant symbolic victory for lesbian and gay Canadians, in practice it won't have a huge impact until one member of the couple is incapacitated or dead. Very little remains of the privileged position once held by marriage in law. Civil unions and common-law relationships both carry with them most of the rights and responsibilities one assumes in marriage.

But if you're still waiting, try this guy on instead.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Thanks for the archival work

Here's a writer, fellow calls himself Stefan Sharkansky, who has itemised the arguments we have all been mentioning about why the war was a very bad, perhaps criminally bad, idea (and relates them back to one columnist, like that's the only source for these lines of reasoning). Seems Stefan doesn't agree with us, judging by the way he calls the list "canards". And yet, if you asked me to list all the reasons I thought the war was a bad idea, most of that list would be there.

Perhaps he has rebuttals for these so-called "canards". To be honest, I don't have complete patience for wandering his blog to find out, though I may tomorrow.

An example: September 11: Bush has been telling the American people that Saddam was responsible for the September 11 attacks. [he hasn't] It would otherwise be impossible to persuade the American public that there were valid reasons for removing Saddam from power. If "He hasn't" is the whole of the rebuttal, I can live with this - I think it's a reasonable description of the argument. No straw dog here. There are a couple of straw dogs, but only a couple.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, thanks, Stefan, for all the legwork. To those people who supported the war, disputing the arguments on that list would be a good place to start.

Update: It was too late, and my example was not entirely clear. I know that the administration has never explicitly linked September 11 with the former Iraqi regime. They have simply gone out of their way to create the impression that they had --- thus the half of Americans that had drawn that conclusion. Surely you remember the pains the Administration took to convince us of an al Quada/Iraq convention back at the beginning of Operation Get Consent. Stories surfaced of clandestine meetings in dark Egyptian barrios, theatrical enough for an episode of Secret Agent. Sure, the claims were retracted, but by then, people were convinced enough and the noise of the retraction was so small that the impression remained, and GW Bush could make subtle implications about the known terrorist connections Iraq had, and only people paying close attention realized he was talking about Hamas, and not Osama. It is disingenuous of Stefan to suggest this was not an intentional confusing of issues on the Administration's behalf.
Thank this clever fellow for a lovely Tuesday giggle

Up for auction on eBay today: a John Ashcroft-autographed copy of 1984. Let me know if ebay drops the page, which I'm sure they eventually will.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Getting caught up

I don't know nuthin' about the world right now. I'll get there, I'm sure. But in the meantime, I've stumbled across someone who has much more of a clue: meet Kriselda of Different Strings. She has interesting posts right now on the Iraqi purchase of uranium that never happened, as well as those Iraq / al Quada links we heard so much about before the war.

There's lots more there, but it would be nice if you came back some day.
I'm back

Anything happen in the world while I was gone?

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

No updates for a few days

I'm off to Edmonton until the end of the weekend, and while I'm going to need to pop in to an internet cafe now and again (Hey, that backgammon won't play itself), I suspect I won't have much to post. See you next week!
Klein's reaction: not entirely "Hooray"

Most everyone in Alberta by now has heard that the Premier of Alberta is prepared to use the notwithstanding clause of the Charter to avoid being forced to recognize or allow gay marriage in Alberta. Most people understand what this intends. But, going by the debates I attended during my run for the legislature, very few people seem to understand the role of sec. 33, and what it can and cannot do. And as few seem to remember the debate after the Vreind decision that led to Klein's pronouncement yesterday.

Quick backgrounder on the Constitution and Charter: There are no absolute rights. Section one is very specific that rights exist "...subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society." But that wasn't enough for some Premiers, so during the negotiations prior to the 1982 ratification, Section 33 (the "Notwithstanding clause") was a very Canadian compromise to assuage fears that absolute rights of citizens would infringe on the right of a Legislature to legislate (which is, properly, what individual rights do). S. 33 allows a law to stand, notwithstanding the rights that law abridges. Note well that s. 33 can only be used to overrule what we think of as the fundamental rights, as outlined in ss. 2 and 7-15: speech, assembly, life/liberty/security, equality.... all the hits. It can't be used to overrule the right to minority language education (s. 23), for instance, or your right to get service in either official language at any federal government office (s. 20).

But as easy as it appears to apply s. 33, there are political pressures that make it extremely inconvenient. First, there's the whole "Hey, we're going to be overrunning the rights of you and/or your fellow citizens --- you down with that?" PR headache in the media. Then, if the popular winds are blowing enough in your direction to endure whatever resistance that follows, and you pass some legislation that invokes s. 33, you have to go through the whole routine again some time in your next term, because the clause has to be renewed every five years or it expires.

Klein promised this use of s. 33 shortly after the Vriend decision (I hate using pdf documents, and I hate using anything produced by Senator-Elect F.L. (Ted) Morton more (smart enough guy, but WAY out right), but that's what I have: first paragraph of page four). This is my own projection, but I don't think Ralph Klein is particularly anti-gay, or even anti-gay marriage. I think he was facing enormous political pressure in his caucus following the Vriend decision. That decision determined that protection against discrimination in Canada includes protection against discrimination due to sexual preference. I think that extension probably is one Ralph Klein doesn't object to, but he led (and still leads) a caucus that falls on social issues some distance to the right of Ralph.

So under political pressure to use s. 33 then, Klein responded, look, we can't deny homosexuals basic human rights. But if it ever gets to the point that, say, gay couples start getting married, that's when I'll put my foot down. And the strategy worked like a dream! Court decisions slowly but surely extended rights, and Alberta played along, knowing where the line had been drawn to placate the caucus homophobes. I'm convinced Klein thought there was almost no chance of a court decision that would force his hand before he was well out of politics. And, in fairness, that court decision isn't here yet... the Supreme Court of Canada has yet to be asked if it will hear an appeal, and to decide if it will if it is asked.

There is only one solution if the SCC upholds or doesn't hear an appeal: come down on the government of Alberta like a ton of bricks. They will fold on this issue under enough public pressure. There will be members of the Tory caucus hoping for a violent public reaction so the issue can be reconsidered and the decision to invoke s. 33 overturned. I'll talk more about that as the issue becomes more pressing, but the essential message should not be about the rightness of gay marriage. The message to this government should be a consistent and strong one: the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the cornerstone of our liberal democracy, and no government should ignore the rights therein.


(It would have been better by far, for all concerned, if this had been a legislative decision rather than a judicial order. Still --- Hoo-wah!)

Monday, June 09, 2003

Nah, we'd rather watch the Laci Peterson trial

A legal opinion has been written suggesting that a judicial review of the legality of the Iraq war is required. The opinion was written by a senior barrister at Cherie Blair's legal firm. That would be Cherie, as in spouse of Tony.

Hey, easier to ask forgiveness than permission, right?

My question is this: how bad will it have to get for Tony Blair for believing the American "evidence" and acting on it, before the White House has to start answering for fabricating or exaggerating that "evidence"?
Standup time

U.S. Says Iraq Hid Banned Weapons Well

I think George Bush is looking in the wrong place. At least, I hope that's the explanation of why he has his head so deep up his own ass.


Sunday, June 08, 2003

WMD round-up

I tried to post this morning, but couldn't seem to get Blogger to let me in. Oh, well... brunch and a round of golf (39 at the McCall pitch-and-putt, but nice to get a round in anywhere finally. Played a round at the Stanley Park P&P in Vancouver, but walking around with a putter and an 8-iron doesn't really count.) later, I'm relaxed and happy. Now, let's see... what did I do with those bookmarks?

The WMD snipe hunt appears to be nearing a break point. The two mobile labs? They produce hydrogen, say senior weapons experts, to fill artillery balloons. Those of you who find the greatest humour in dark, deadly irony will appreciate that the system was bought from the British.

The Prime Minister's office (Britain's, not Canada's) admitted some of their anti-Saddam information was lifted from very shaky sources.

The doves are gloating and the hawks are waffling.

And finally, life in Baghdad is not particularly pleasant.

That was a slam-dunk of a war, huh? Nuthin' but net!

Saturday, June 07, 2003

And in case you were considering forgetting:

I don't know why I bother to link to Dear Raed --- I mean, if you're interested in post-war Iraq, you're already reading him, and if you aren't, you don't. My pointing him out to you is a little like contacting the CBC's call-up show on reading list day, and letting them know about this great kid's series, Harry Potter.

Regardless, I found this entry too hard to ignore. In particular this paragraph:

One tiny bit of interesting news before I end this post.

The CIA is contacting Mukhabarat agents for possible cooperation. I swear I am not making this up. Officially there is something called a black list and gray list and pick-ur-color list, but what is happening behind the scenes is that they want to get three different groups.

The agents who were involved in work concerning the USA, they get shaken down for whatever they know and probably will be put on trial for various crimes.

The people who were involved in work concerning Russia, they are being called to interviews selectively.

And the people whose specialty was Iran, they are welcomed, asked if they would be kind enough to contact their colleagues and would they be interested in coming aboard the groovy train?

Sorry this is just wrong, Mukhabarat? You wouldn�t get your Mukhabarat ID if they didn�t know you were a sick fuck who would slit his mother�s throat to get up the party ladder. Or does Bremer�s �de-baathification plan� not include the secret service types?
Isn't that telling? The Americans are more interested in planning for their next invasion than in picking up the pieces of this one. Does this surprise anyone?

Friday, June 06, 2003

If this does not fill you will outrage and sadness, nothing will.

Today at work, I had the misfortune of stumbling into a conversation with someone who had very firm convictions about the Laci Peterson murder. (No, nothing about that case gives me cause for unusual degrees of outrage and sadness --- however tragic the event, it is not particularly unusual nor interesting. The media have become interested in this case far beyond its value as "news", which would be a little outrage-causing, were it not an entirely routine occurance in the media environment we live in.) I asked the co-worker what she thought about the current situation in the Congo, and got a firm and certain "Huh?"

Tell people. Become outraged, and outrage others. Make the genocide in the DRC more important to people than Sammy Sosa's bat.

This is the story that broke my heart --- you've been warned.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Poor Peter MacKay

The new Tory leader seriously needs to hire some new spin doctors. He cuts a deal with David Orchard to get elected leader of the PC party, and for three days he's been getting the crap beat out of him for it. What?

Let me have a go: "Peter has shown the sort of flexibility required of a true national leader." "The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada is proud of its roots, and proud that we could bring a free trade agreement to this country. But just as the NDP is a staunch defender of medicare, so we must be a staunch defender of true free trade, and that defense requires constant examination and re-examination." "Never ask questions? Never rethink policies? That sounds like the Liberal Party, not the PC Party." "Nothing in this agreement says our caucus can't work with the Alliance Party in the House of Commons. Come next election, we'll run 301 candidates, because at that point, the only deal we want to make is with the Canadian people."

I actually believe some of that, if not in the partisan way I've put it. If the Tories believe that NAFTA has been nothing but good, let a committee write a report that backs that up. And let that same committee talk about ways to deal with the forces working to undermine real free trade (think softwood).

As for the "no truck nor trade with Reform" clause, let's be honest: the only sort of merger Reform wants is one where the two parties join together, they call themselves the Canadian Alliance, and Stephen Harper is named leader. It's sort of the merger Nazi Germany had with Poland. No Tory leader worth electing is about to hand over the keys of Sir John A.'s party over to an organization that can't wait to strip it for parts.

I don't think Peter MacKay gave away anything. If there's any reason for Tories to be concerned about Peter MacKay as leader, be concerned that Mr. MacKay either doesn't realize he gave nothing away, or he's afraid to stand up for himself.

Monday, June 02, 2003

The Left Coast View

My buddy Bill used to save all this good stuff for e-mails to his collection of friends. Now, he's sharing it with the world. Have a look; have fun. Smart fellow.

I discover via Bud that a UN peacekeeping force has already been dispatched to the DRC. Canadians will be joining them. The real question now is will they be given the force and the latitude to stop the country from tipping fully into genocide?

I also note with interest that this issue is starting to get some legs even among news sources not known for their international coverage, so there may be hope that the world will take some notice and insist that their governments take real steps to stop this before it gets worse.

Update: It's already getting worse.