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

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Blast from the past

Remember the Berlin wall? Huge thing, kept people apart, had a huge psychological impact on the people who were forced to live in its shadow?

This is what Ariel Sharon thinks peace looks like. Hey, mideast politics may be complicated, but this simples it down for me. Just like Berlin, the bad guys can be identified as the government employing guards to patrol an enormous concrete barrier. Once your government's policies involve masonry, it's time for some serious self-examination.
Look who's blogging!

Somehow, I never found him entertaining on television, but in print, Bill Mahar is sharp and funny, and now he's doing it for nothing, on a web browser near you.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Me-too punditry

I have nothing to add to Hesiod's post here about Bill Clinton's crack at bin Laden, other than a desire to direct your attention toward it, and make of it what you will. I might have to buy a copy of the New Yorker today, and see how the hunt for Osama is going now. Short version: not so freakin' hot.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Another random summer link

Via the City of Floating Blogs, all the dirt on your favourite celebs!

(Hey, if a former resident of 24 Sussex Drive can say "celebs" with a straight face, I think I deserve to, as well.)

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Today on television

CNN is going to show photos of the dead sons of Saddam. The warning keeps popping up: "images will be graphic".

Did I say "warning"? I think I meant "teaser". What's wrong with these people?

Monday, July 21, 2003

Web watch

I've mentioned before on these pages that I've been trying for some time to relocate to the Cayman Islands, to join my girlfriend who located there from Edmonton some years ago. I've also mentioned my attempt to prepare for the new political culture by reading the CayPolitics website on a semi-regular basis.

The site had been down for some time, as legal issues complicated the operation of the site. But it's back up and running, has a cleaner look, and managed to return in time to scare the crap out of me with the government's "Terrorism Bill".

Section 55 of the [Terrorism] Bill would permit the Governor of the Cayman Islands to request the interception of telecommunications by service providers. Such Powers would give the Governor the authority to request any telecommunication company to intercept or �tap� the telephone or other telecommunication devices of a user, whether it is a local or a foreigner utilizing the services here in the Cayman Islands.
I'm going to spend some time today looking for more information on this bill, including this section. Will the Governor have to retroactively defend a wiretap order in court? Will the surveilled eventually be informed that his or her privacy has been invaded? Does there need to be actual suspicion of terrorist activities to decide to wiretap, or can the Governor pretty much have at 'er with anyone he might suspect of smoking pot or being gay?

The garbage that governments around the world have been trying to get away with under the guise of "fighting terrorism" is shameful. Anyone watching the American experience with the Patriot Act knows that undermining civil liberties doesn't make anyone safer. It just makes government more intrusive.

Someone local to the Cayman Islands needs to be asking these questions. With any luck, I can make a living being that someone, some day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

If only I had a decent-sized audience. Oh, the power!

Remember Johnny Fever encourraging the citizens of Cincinatti to dump their garbage on the steps of city hall? With a decent-sized net community, that power could be yours.

Imagine, the readers and writers of Cowtown Bloggers and all the associated blogs therein, scattering themselves around Olympic Plaza some busy lunch hour until the appointed time, when they all hit themselves with cream pies, then go home. And that's just what I've got off the top of my head.

Better ideas?

Despite claims to the contrary coming from Iranian authorirties earlier this week, the Vice-President admitted today that Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was beaten to death. To those of us following the story, her cause of death is hardly news, but the admission itself is remarkable, and points to a couple of very hopeful things going on in Iran.

First of all, I haven't blogged anything about Ms Kazemi. Not an oversight - I was holding out until I could find some of her work online. From the little I've seen, she was a talented and courageous journalist, recording both the suffering and the humanity in some of the most dangerous places on earth. I'd like to say more, but I've had no luck in finding her work to speak further about it, or better, to link to it. (If I find something, you'll be the first to know.)

What positives are we seeing from this tragedy? First of all, if a reformer is making this admission, if the President of Iran is flexing his political muscle enough to be able to investigate this sincerely, the reforming forces in Iran are clearly in ascendency. The old theocracy never would have allowed the investigation... bury the woman, bury the discussion, hope it goes away.

The second thing we're seeing is the vistory of constructive engagement. Canada's diplomatic relationship with Iran can hardly be called warm, but neither is it punctuated with threats and boycotts and calling them "evil". As a result, when something like this happens, the Canadian government still has some leverage that doesn't involve a B-2... Iran doesn't want to lose Canada's favour while our southern neighbours are beating the war drum.

Being a member of the Axis of Evil must be trying at times, and history suggests that the implied American threat plays into the hands of the hardliners. Ms Kazemi's death did nothing to change this political chess game going on in Iran, but I think we're seeing a lot more of the pieces than we usually do, and the moderate side looks to be in better shape than I thought.

Update: Bill Graham says that both I and the Vice-President of Iran may have spoken too soon about the precise cause of death.

... Graham said [Iranian] Foreign Minister Kharrazi told him that "she might have fallen or had an accident." He said that until it's known what happened, it's not possible to say what caused it.
Why I'm a so-so blog

Tom nicely sums up in a single post what I've been dribbing and drabbing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

A reasonable voice cries out from the public television wilderness. No, not Big Bird. The other reasonable voice.

Jon Stewart lays the smack down on cable news networks. While on PBS.
Truth passes over the horizon behind us, and we wonder where we're headed now.

Even though the war is over, the President can't help but make up newer and crazier reasons why he needed to send American's sons and daughters to kill and die. The newest gutbuster:

Defending the broader decision to go to war with Iraq, the president said the decision was made after he gave Saddam Hussein "a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."
Did he misspeak? Was he confused? Or was he so emboldened by the success of the PR campaign to link al Quada and Saddam that he now believes that he can say any old shit, and people will believe him?

Weapons inspectors couldn't find anything because Saddam was really good at hiding stuff. We know where it all is, but we can't tell you. It was snuck out to Syria during the war. The truck makes anthrax. Uday swallowed all the yellowcake. There were no inspections. The war was a popular revolution. There was no war. Hit us with the little Men in Black flashy-forgetty thing, and move on to the next war.

I cannot imagine how people find GW Bush or his entourage at all believable any more.

Monday, July 14, 2003

More counterargument

I keep saying that what was said during the State of the Union was factually true, however misleading it may have been. But The Daily Howler argues that the famous sixteen words cannot even reach that low bar of honesty:

What did Bush say in his State of the Union? Here is the statement in question:

BUSH: The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

Did Saddam �seek significant quantities of uranium from Africa?� Bush didn�t say that the Brits believe this. He didn�t say that the Brits have made such a claim. Instead, Bush said that the Brits have learned that this happened�and as such, he implied that the Brits� claim was true.
Convincing argument. I have some rethinking to do.
The other side

Hesoid is not the only person in the world of blogs to be much more critical than I have been toward George Tenet, but he's one:

Note to George...why the hell are you sticking your neck out for these lying assholes? It certainly cannot be for the good of the country, or for national security reasons.
Because it's his job. If he wants to resign, and then start criticising the current administration, fine, but he works for these lying assholes. And I want to point out again, he didn't admit to more than he needed to. To paraphrase: The text was factually accurate [with the whole British government caveat]. The bar of truthfulness should have been higher.

What do I take from that? What doesn't he say, that I think is implied here? If it is the case that there was pressure to build a case against Iraq, when the CIA didn't percieve any real threat (and I happen to believe that's exactly what happened), would a word of George Tenet's statement contradict that? Not at all.

As the head of the CIA, Tenet can't go around calling his boss a liar. Neither should Tenet be lying to cover for the President. In his statement, he did neither. Nothing George Tenet said should be ending the questions around the State of the Union address. Quite the opposite: I think his statement successfully begs a series of questions that need to be asked, but are not his responsibility to answer. Who wanted this case built? Who thought "strict truthfulness" was a high enough bar, presuming that the CIA had the conversation with the Administration that I imagined in my previous post? Why was the CIA asking the British to drop the Niger uranium accusation, while the US administration wasn't publically correcting themselves?

These are all good and important questions. These are questions that Tenet doesn't answer, or attempt to answer. All he says is that he and his agency should have tried harder to stop the President from making this ridiculous implication. As well he should. The fact that he hasn't resigned as part of his apology should tell us everything we need to know. He aand we both know the real responsibility for this unnecessary war lies elsewhere.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Weekend schedule

So much to do here at RevMod. There's a few new links around the internet pointing right here, and I need to add them to the reciprocal link list. And I have to update my non-reciprocated link list to the left, as well --- I find myself rarely going to a couple of them, and I have a couple of new regular favourites.

Speaking of which, have I mentioned The Memory Hole? Here, for example, is what freedom and liberty looks like in Iraq. Give the photo a soundtrack in your head: "Bad boyz bad boyz, what'cha gonna do?"

I was actually thinking about beginning the work of creating an attractive new template for RevMod, to go along with an attractive new domain name. Don't worry - I'll leave a forwarding address.

And I was certainly going to blog about CIA director George Tenet taking one for the team. Sorta. I mean, check Tenet's wording: "...agency officials in the end concurred that the text in the speech was factually correct that the British government report said that Iraq sought uranium from Africa. This should not have been the test for clearing a presidential address." And yet, all of the Iraq allegations fell into the same category - factually correct but inferring much darker information that happened not to be true. Saddam has links with terrorists (but not al Quada). Iraq has weapons of mass destruction programs. &c, and so on.

Tenet's admission needs to be seen alongside the Wesley Clark revelation from last week. Tenet didn't say that the CIA made these false allegations in the first place. Tenet only acknowledged that his agency should have more forcefully said "this Niger stuff is all bullshit." Meanwhile, on the afternoon of September 11, 2001, Wesley Clark was receiving instructions to implicate Iraq in the attacks --- without any evidence to suggest it. Clark wouldn't do it, so he looks pretty damn good today. And I admire George Tenet's willingness to accept he's been enabling the US administration's web of lies - that's the first step. But someone decided to include that allegation in the first place. Someone who was writing the State of the Union said, "Can we mention the aluminium tubes? No? How about that he bought, I dunno, uranium? No? How about we say he tried? No? Can we say that the British have, at some time in the past, believed Iraq was trying to buy uranium? Hey, that's true! Bingo!

I admire Tenet, I have to say again, for recognizing his role in this absurd dance last winter. But I don't think the person who called Wesley Clark and said "link today's events to Iraq", who said "find every scrap of evidence that suggests Iraq is dangerous and put it in the speech, no matter how much evidence to the contrary might exist", the person who told intelligence agencies to interpret every satellite photo in the worst possible light (this truck might be a mobile lab, those silos might contain missiles) --- that person, or people, still have a great deal to answer for, and George Tenet did not let him, her, or them off the hook.

Huh. I guess I just did blog that. Damn.

Anyway, I was going to do all of that, but you know, two things are fighting for my time. First of all, it's a glorious morning, and I want to go enjoy some of it. Second, I'm now the proud owner of four seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD. This, despite having watched my first full episode of Buffy on Wednesday. I blame the CBC.

So, don't expect to hear a lot more from me this weekend. Unless I'm planning to meet you on the links.

(Golf, not URLs. If I was just speaking to you with that correction, shut off your computer and go get some sun.)

Friday, July 11, 2003

How to pass a dull Friday afternoon

Blog everything.

Here's an article about a Bush attack ad (what's the deal with the uranium, Dubya?) running currently in the US. The article is published in the right-wing but journalistically sound (no, I don't think the two stand in opposition) National Review. It draws the money connections from the attack ad to high-profile Democrats.

Well, duh. Who else was going to pay for it?

People should be aware of who's trying to sell them a message. Any message. Knowing that Moonies own the Washington Times is helpful information, when you read a story like this one.

If this group of Democrats were the only ones asking about Niger uranium, they could probably be written off. Me? I'm happy to see that in the past few months, the Democrats have decided that they should act like a serious opposition party, instead of Republican Lite. I'm sure the National Review didn't mean for me to be comforted by their story, but there it is.
I read comic books

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
That's so last week

As the Americans get caught up on the issue of fake-o "intelligence" leading to the Iraq war (and with them, it's all uranium uranium uranium. Where's the other WMD? Where's the evidence of an al Quada link? Still, it's a start), the British critics remain one step ahead, and this time, the Prime Minister is joining them. Tony Blair doesn't think secret military trials in Guantonimo passing death sentences sounds like a very democratic process. Geez, ya think?

But he's stepping quietly, hoping to use his status as a Bush friendly to quietly get things done.

"All the prodigious political energy which our PM can expend on certain issues - like prosecuting what begins to look increasingly like a dubious proposition for war in Iraq - should now be applied to our American colleagues where the rights of individuals and the right to an independent fair trial and justice is concerned," [Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats] said.
Couldn't have said it better. There are issues Canada sucks up on (missile defense comes to mind) in order to buy political capital to get something else done at some other time. That's always been the grease that keeps the wheels of diplomacy moving.

Lately, however, the Bush administration seems to be proving it doesn't understand this basic principle. Canada immediately volunteers its runways for American planes on September 11? Be sure to neglect them when thanking the world. The rest of the world stands behind you in Afghanistan? Ignore them or berate them on Iraq. On the other side of the coin, tear up Kyoto and the land mines agreement, tear the teeth from the biological weapons agreement, and then call the UN ineffective when it won't do your bidding.

So Prime Minister Blair should perhaps not be surprised, though he probably will be, when Americans start passing death sentences on British citizens found by the Americans in Afghanistan - British citizens who may have never set foot on American soil. Tony Blair is starting to get the feel of "battered spouse" to him. Tony, George's unpredictable behavior isn't your fault. George isn't going to change, no matter how bad you want him to, no matter how unconditional your love. He certainly won't change while you cover for him. It's time to think about protecting your own political future, and quit enabling George's behavior.
"Provincial" means more than one thing

The Premiers' conference in Charlottetown has produced a recommendation for a "council of the federation".

You know, a few of the Premiers, my own included, have celebrated this grand coming-together of Premiers on this issue. Klein attributed that to having a Premier from la belle province who is a federalist. Except, here's the thing: they're all seperatists, power-wise.

Thirteen Premiers, all with the same list of demands. To paraphrase Will Ferguson from his Canadian History for Dummies, here's the list:




I really hope Paul Martin isn't going to be our next headwaiter (as Pierre Trudeau once referred to Brian Mulroney, as part of his critique of Meech Lake). I like a strong federal government, and don't need a country that is little more than a patchwork of feifdoms scattered across the northern half of the continent.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Tune into RevMod, for all the pie-related news and opinion you need.

James Bow says that as political protest, the Klein entarter was badly done. I would agree, if I thought the point was political and deeper than "Boy, that Ralph's a big jerk!"

Meantime, the Calgary Sun seemed to enjoy nothing more than a lot of letters from people who wrote variations of "Klein deserved it, he's a big jerk." And those of you who appreciate the Sun's subtle editorial hand will realize that each letter ended with a smarmy bracketed response, along the lines of "Where's your Stampede spirit?" And that seems to be the attitude of those around me, as well. Huh. Considering I'm the left-winger in this crowd, what am I hearing?
Even the Washington Times admits it now

Private Lynch was injured in a car accident, not a battle. When you have even the Republican Rag acknowledging that, the house of cards is beginning to fall.

Bye, Dubya!
For those who find my links too onerous to follow

The Guardian will be available in an American print edition soon. This follows stories on Alternet about Ann Coultier's book bombing, and Micheal Savage getting canned from MSNBC. Could it be that the Iraq propaganda war represented a low point in American media discourse, and they're actually on our way back up? I hope so, because particlarly in media, the US direction tends to put up- or downward pressure on our Canadian outlets.

At any rate, Tim Rutten, writing in the LA Times, hopes so, but believes his country has gone a very long way in the wrong direction. And he observes even right-wingers running from their thick-necked brethren and sisteren (et, tu, Sully?):

On his influential Web site, Sullivan on Tuesday described Savage as "a lout, a loudmouth, a bigot for hire and a significant part of what is wrong with the far right. The amazing thing is not that he no longer has a big job at MSNBC. The amazing thing is that he ever had a job in the first place."
And scroll up Sully's blog to see his thoughts on Coultier. Run, Forrest, run!

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Following my own advice

Remember my suggestion that you follow a link, then follow a link from there, and so on? Here's my first little find: the conspiracy theory generator. I never knew Michael Moore was in league with the Rosicrucians to fill the Glenmore resovoir with saltwater! Thank goodness for the generator's help.

(More seriously, I wonder if Umberto Eco has seen this thing?
Mmmm... pie

I have never seen a worse display of pieing than we did yesterday morning at the McDougall Centre. Let's talk about the difference between a skillful pie-related comedic protest (entarter, as the inventor calls it), and an attack.

- Not really pie - whip cream

The Premier was hit with a pie that seems to have been picked up at the Husky or Costco or somesuch earlier that day. It was an actual cream pie - banana, if appearances can be believed. A good solid banana cream pie filling is delicious, to be sure, but it is far too dense to be pure hilarity. The point is to make the target look silly, not to injure. Which brings us to point two:

- Don't drown your target

The fellow who hit Mr. Klein with the pie appeared to mash it hard against his face. A pie delivered in anger defeats the purpose of the pieing: laughing derision.

- Select an appropriate target

Ralph Klein is no stranger to ridicule, and he seems to deal with it in stride. Whatever criticisms I have of the premier (and they are many and varied), humourlessness is not one of them. And his vulnerability to this particular attack is part of what makes him an inappriopriate target for entarter. He's mixing with the common folks, servin' up some common food, having a relaxed good time in some loose clothing. Cream pie against this backdrop isn't particularly funny. On the other hand, catch someone arrogant, in a well-tailored suit, presenting an award for "best caviar" or some such. Huh. Now cream pie = big guffaws. Or did about ten years ago, when Noel Godin founded the modern political practice.

Some reactions around the province toward yesterday's pie-related assualt have been pretty angry. But it just makes me sad. Sad, mostly, that the point of entarter has been lost on the very individuals who attempt to perpetuate it. The pie has lost any cachet it had as a tool of revolution.
Yesterday's news today!

If Blogger hadn't gone oddly south on me yestrday, you would have read some news about the report presented by the British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. Entitled "The Decision to go to War in Iraq", it makes for interesting PDF reading. Unfortunately, that also means that large excerpts here require transcribing, and I really don't feel like doing all of that a second time. Instead, let me boil it down.

My unique (I'd like to think) addition to the conversation is that the post-war debates in the UK and in the US have reconfirmed my faith in parliamentary democracy over Republicanism. I like having an executive branch that has to answer directly to the legislative branch, day-in and day-out. If GW Bush had to face that same sort of scrutiny on an ongoing basis, instead of only ever facing friendly crowds, I suspect the world would be a very different place.

Now, let me add from the perspective of today that CNN seems to have taken this particular bull somewhat gingerly by the horns. In particular, there's some talk around the African nuclear material referred to in January's State of the Union Address. So while GWB can avoid facing his accusers in a republic, the number of people he has to duck to do that may be beginning to grow.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Light blogging --- not just here

A couple of my readers have complained lately about my lighter blogging pattern since I've returned to work. And yes, I'm sure being at work instead of (say) sitting in front of my computer absorbing every story posted on the Globe and Mail site, AlterNet, and a few favourite blogs has put a dent in my posting volume.

But I'm not the only blogger to have slowed down considerably. Tom Tomorrow filled in his posting gap with a guest blogger, but that only illustrates that Tom's posting has slowed. August graduated, and though he's still looking for work, he's not posting at the rate he was while still a student. (August's new template looks great, by the way - way easier to read.) Not strictly a blog, but Get Your War On is too busy writing for the Rolling Stone to produce much of anything on his page. This is hardly a scientific, or even complete, survey, but it seems to me that I'm not the only one who isn't making blogging my top priority any more.

Today, it struck me why. The fact is, we were as excited (albeit angry) about the war as the Faux News wargasm crowd. Myself, I managed every day to feel outraged that such idiotic reasoning based on such obviously fabricated "facts" ws the entire basis of argument for an unneccessary war. I managed to feel equally outraged that American citizens bought it all. (Tony Blair's conviction that there was a real and present danger did give me pause, but I suspect he simply bought into the same falsifications that Americans were being handed, without having any British intelligence of any practical value.)

Well, now the war is over. (Okay, not really. But still.) And Americans are beginning to wake up to the truth about the lies. (Again, not really. But these are the things I tell myself to sleep at night.) The outrage I was feeling constantly in February and March are no longer the fuel for me to blog and blog obsessively, in the hopes that someone might wander here and be convinced of something, might pass my arguments along to a friend, and might take a step toward real political and social change.

Some American left-wing bloggers have replaced that incentive with general blogging about the dangers of the G.W. Bush administration. But without a war looming (and there may be one or two, but I'm sure they won't want to introduce any new "product" until the fall), GWB seems like an American problem, not mine. As for my own Prime Minister, I have no complaints as his term in office wanes. Gay marriage, pot decriminalization, constant shots at the American administration --- what's not to love?

It won't always be so, because there's always going to be something to write about, but if I'm not posting as constantly over the summer, this is why. And slower activity is not a hiatus by any stretch... check back, and I'm sure we can find something for you.

But consider this slower posting by your regulars to be an opportunity to find something new. Follow a link to the left, here. Then follow a link from there, and so on. Rememeber when that was what we loved about the internet? No? Maybe it was just me. But at any rate, find something interesting and new... that's how I'll be spending MY summer vacation.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

I'm sure Liberia is no fun either.

More updates from the Congo, and things just aren't pretty. Salon makes you watch an ad before you can read about the President's trip to Africa and how he will ignore what's happening in the DRC, but do it anyway, because it raises a question: why is the State Department starting to talk up Liberia?

Let me break it down for you: yer average American citizen seems to think that their government has already found Iraq's currently non-existent weapons of mass destruction, which they are further convinced would have been used by Saddam Hussein to continue what he started on September 11, 2001, through his evil al Quada minions. Or something. What are the chances that same responsible member of the polity will understand the difference between Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo? What are the chances that our imaginary eligible voter will not write the entire continent off in his or her head, again, and move on to more pressing matters ("Is Saddam hiding in Syria? Osama who? How about that Laci Peterson thing, huh?")? I think the Administration may be intentionally playing into that habit, because it really isn't interested in installing friendly democracies everywhere, but it said it was. Gotta help the citizens to doublethink that little promise away.

Update: Let me add something that I should have mentioned. Liberia is not a bad place to send a few UN troops to keep people from shooting at each other - this is what peacekeeping is all about. It just isn't the only place, or the most urgent place.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

C'mon, Vancouver

Here's cheering for an announcement of Vancouver/Whistler's successful bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. I'll be queueing up immediately for tickets to the Men's and Women's Bonspeils.

Update: Hoo-wah!