Gen X at 40

Canada's Favorite Blog

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Arthur -

Would you have your taxes raised

For libraries? Sure.

Hans -

I've always favoured the American system for grooming athletes over the Canadian. I think its terrible that potential hockey stars become essentially pros at 15 and move to strange new cities and live with strange people. The major junior hockey system sure didn't help Mike Danton out, did it? Also, it makes University sports seem kind of silly: Really, what is the point of CIS hockey? At least the American system maintains the pretense that sport is but one aspect of building a well-rounded & edumacated person whereas in Canada, if you're not on a major junior hockey team by 15, you have no future.

Gordo -

As I was wrote to 'nee yesterday: I tend to think that a Conservative minority could actually be a good thing. It would give the Liberals the figurative kick in the ass that they deserve (We lost to that prick???). It would give Harper and his henchmen a crack at de-Chretienifying the place. God, Ottawa needs some Lysol right about now.

The best part is that it would give the country a damn good look at what a loony schmuck Harper actually is. Let him see how hard it is to actually run a country and see how he likes being hounded by the pack of ill-mannered dogs that is Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. Let's see what he thinks of compromising on legislation when he needs the help.

Naturally, the downside is that we'll be in for another election in under two years. But, I think the country could benefit from it. Assuming that the Opposition actually plays ball this time.

I'd definitely pay more taxes for better funded, better staffed, better equipped libraries. Same goes for schools.

David Janes -

The WJHC isn't -- but Junior hockey in general is a disgraceful abuse. Seriously.

Do I go to libraries? Absolutely -- when I can't afford new needles to inject smack into the corner of my eyeballs, <a href="
http://lfpress.ca/newsstand/CityandRegion/2006/01/06/1381164-sun.html">I scour the dumpsters</a> there for one to re-use.

If the Tories get in, they plan to block the Sun and let American interests rent us sunlight packaged in non-biodegradable cans. Just like Monty Burns.

'nee -

I'm a web addict, so I don't use libraries. I also scoff at people who say they don't have email. That's what libraries are for. However, I do occasionally venture into the library at work when I can't order a book online. I suspect that, were I poorer, a library would become very wonderful ideed. Fund 'em like crazy, I say - who knows when I might be amazon.comless?

Also, scarier than Steven Harper are all the people who have read the Conservative Party platform, calmly agree with it and then vote Conservative anyway. That means that they actually believe everything they read! They seem to have forgotten that Steven Harper isn't really a Conservative at all; he's a freaking zealot.

Flea -

Any government that promises to attempt to reverse same-sex marriage is a disaster for many, many Canadians. It isn't quite blocking out the sun but it is a potential disaster to many people.

SayNay? -

This talk about Harper reminds me of the talk about Regan being Darth Vader and the like....

It sounds like you're all afraid you'll wake up Jan. 24 to find out your Dad is now running the country and he'll find your stash and make you clean up your room...

Don't worry folks. The earth will maintain its orbit around the sun, the sun will also rise in the east and set in the west, and maybe something good will happen like, I dunno...maybe not as big as the fall of communism and the freedom of the enslaved, but something good...

'nee -

Where "my stash" can be suitably substituted for "my freedom to have anal sex or, you know, express an opinion" and besides, Reagan traded arms for hostages. Darth Vader would have strangled them to death with the force, instead.

David Janes -

Yes, I remember the pogroms again the Gays back in the 80s. Horrible, horrible: let us never return those times.

David Janes -

I can't let the "express an opinion" comment pass either. In England today ... a fair prototype of where progressive politics would like to lead us ... expressing the opinion of the sort that "god doesn't think you have a right to have anal sex" will (and has) led to police investigations. When I think of "hostility to the point of punishment for speech that differs from the dominant philosphy", examples from the left pop up in my head about 20 to 1.

David Janes -

I suppose I'll just mention here for a laugh the time the Liberals put there hands on your bush (as they say in the States these days) and took away your reproductive feedom.

SayNay? -

David's all over you on this one 'nee. You really need to get a grip.

The "liberal left" has obviously been so oppressed by the "conservative" society of "last century's values" (that you and others say Harper touts), to the point that it has acquired over that time, ascendancy in Canada, Britain and Western Europe.

If it were otherwise, as your thinking would suggest, a "conservative" wouldn't be just reading your blogs and debating issues with you, he or she would be reporting you to the Conservative Thought Police in the hope of at least silencing "liberal" thoughts like yours through intimidation. Ever happened to you? Didn't think so. But ask Lynette Burrows a British author about her experience with the British Liberal Thought Police, after she expressed an allegedly "homophobic" opinion on British radio.

But many with opposing views, like David, see that the liberal movement, rather that being a force for liberty and the free exchange of opinions and ideas, has become now, rather ironically, a reactionary force in which its elites seek to supress any public thought or expression that conflicts with their current views by force of law and coercion.

For more on the left's view of the exercise of free speech in Britain, Lynette Burrows and the Liberal Thought Police see http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/19771.html

Alan -

Try to take something not personally, SN, and stop linking to other blogs to makea point. If you can't express it, don't bother hitting the post button.

There is a big part of libert-anarchy the socon movement that has little time for the rights of others because it is all about making sure their stomachs are full and to hell with the other guy - and while there may not have been roundings upin the 80s we in our family know three guys murdered in Halifax in bashings so do not trivialize where society has come from.

David does, however, make a good point about the UK which is arresting on suspicion those that talk about things...like militant Islam among other topics. But the scariest thing for me is the anti-hoodie law so that the computers can read your face like a bad code.

SayNay? -

The link doesn't make the point, it merely a convenient link to the story on Ms. Burrows - less it's veracity be questioned - but I see from your comments that no proof of statements made need be provided. Thanks for that.

Alan -

I would prefer that you debate yourself rather than lean on the crutch of questionable links of your webby heroes.

SayNay? -

Never read that blog - just came across that story. Sorry to disappoint.

Alan -

You are a constant source of disappointment so do not take it personally today.

Marian -

Is this the ideal we want to uphold? There are no pogroms for gays? Obviously we can do better.

On the issue of a Tory win: Harper thinks Canada is a second rate country. His sole aim in getting elected is to change what we know into something that already exists in the US. I think the real worry is that Conservatives won't get in with a minority, but will somehow get a majority (minorities are hard to arrange even if you want one) and, once in, will do things that will undercut Canada's ability to fund government services in the future (which has been the legacy of previous neo con governments). Also, deep integration, health care, and something like Walkerton (i.e., a disaster having to do with holes in infrastructure) come to mind as repercussions of a Conservative win. I am sure they won't mess with free speech, but I suspect they'll affect my sister's ability to marry her true love if she wants to. To be honest we've had moderate conservativism for a long time on various issues. We've had cost cutting and deficit reduction for twenty years and I'm ready to move on now to the actual funding of services. Moreover, Canada is a left wing country in many regards and the only reason we don't have left wing government all of the time is that we have more than one left wing party. What that means is that a Conservative government would be constantly at odds with what people actually think is good. So, if the Tories do get in, we're going to get a lot of stuff we don't want and no movement on issues that need movement: health care, public broadcasting, child care, same sex marriages, the environment, education etc.. Personnaly, I like the NDP's policies, but I think they need to be implemented by the Liberals.

SayNay? -

If I took it personally, Al, I would gone long ago. I know, I know...good riddance and all that...

SayNay? -

I'd like to reply to Marian - but she gives Al gifties - I don't want to mess that up...and anyway Al's placed me on a well-deserved probation... Where's David?

Marian -

Actually, I meant to say earlier that I'd probably even send you, SN, a trabant because I like them so much. I think everyone should have one.

SayNay? -

You're too kind, Marian. Not quite a K-car, but still " a nice, reliable automobile".

[Al right now would suggest a petard for me - so that I may hoist myself]

David Janes -

[Where's David? I was off having my daughter shown how to milk a goat.]

My point was not that "no pogroms" is not my gold standard for behavior but rather that in fact there have been no pogroms against gays in recent Canadian history, and certainly not during the period loathed "neo-con" governments of Canada, the US and the UK during the 1980s. Looking back further in history, I suspect that there were as many gays (as a porportion of the pop.) in the 1950s, the 1920s and the 1880s as there is today, and furthermore, I suspect most people knew it -- and didn't particularly care.

Your list of things that "need movement" certainly corresponds to my list, though obviously not in same fashion. Sweden+ isn't my idea of the country I'd like to live in, though perhaps the health care is better because they deal with it rationally rather using ideological purity test. I'm particularly not sure what further movement you want on the gay marriage issue. Perhaps children can be made to play act gay marriages to foster tolerance?

Walkerton was an example of a unqualified liquored-up idiot poisoning a town. We can find similar examples on native reservations today, which are run under the prototype of progressive government -- unlimited budgets and no accountabilty. I'm reading a book right now called "lost in space" by Greg Klerekx that describes NASA as much a similar entity, an organization without purpose or accomplishment except to dispense cash to the friends of the dominant groups in society. This is why I fear things such as the Liberal's day care plan -- which has skipped the middle stages of actually doing something for a while and is simply and transparently a a scheme to hand money out to Liberal-friendly demographic to take care of Liberal voter's children, to maintain and increase an indentured class.

I'll have to disagree with you on Canada being predominantly of left wing country. The fracturing of the right during the 1990s certainly is largely (though not totally) respondable for the long run of left wing governments in Canada. Outside that, the right has been competitive at least.

Marian -

I think the stereotype of the liquored up Native needs to be retired. I have actually lived on a reserve (briefly), and a lot of these places are dry and have fairly strict top-down kinds of management set against the backdrop of extreme climate, fairly serious and complex social and identity problems, as well as long term cycles of poverty and alienation. Some are, of course, fiefdoms with little or no accountability, it's true, but tells us little. It's not a good issue to prove any point about, say, government in general because it is an example of a unique type of government with its own rules. Walkerton, on the other hand, is just an ordinary place in an ordinary part of Ontario.

I also think it's bad strategy to attribute to me or other lefty discussants all responsibility for every allegedly 'progressive' policy. I didn't write the Indian Act, and I'm not personally responsible for reservations. But in any case, I don't see the relevance.

On a side note, do you think Mulroney was a neo-con? Personally, I think his politics are actually quite close to Paul Martin's. I would have thought he'd be classified as an old fashioned Ontario Tory with a progressive bent on social issues (Bill Davis would be another). Neo-cons are of course a mixed bag, but you don't find many with Mulroney's combination of pro big business sensibility and (big spending for corporate friends) pro gay rights and women's rights (he fostered Kim Campbell) among the current crop. Most are either libertarians (so very minimal government spending), or social conservatives or both.

I think one of the reasons the conservatives don't do well in Canada is because they are in denial about what actual Canadians want in terms of policy. They can't believe that we actually like public health care and funding for education as well as equal rights for gays etc..

Marian -

I guess I should say Mulroney is more a central Canada Tory since he was from Quebec but you know what I mean.

SayNay? -

Nice save David. And Marian, interesting points, but to be fair I don't think David was referring to natives being "liquored up" - this comment, as I read it was only, and only meant to refer to the Koebel brothers in Walkerton.

[I can't say anymore - Al still has me on a "time out" and if he sees this....]

Marian -

SayNay, I don't think David 'saved' anything, nice try though.

SayNay? -

No, you know, holding up the end and all that...that's all [Sh*t, I think I hear Al coming....]

Marian -

The reserve I lived in had communal toilets (outhouses on street corners) no hot running water and no cold running water in most places. People hauled water and used wood burning stoves. It also had a ten O'Clock curfew and no alcohol was allowed. Does this sound like the mainstream? Okay. So we should agree that this is a separate type of situation...It simply is not a similar type of government to your usual municipality.

Marian -

Don't worry, SN. He's liable to kick me out too shortly, I think.

SayNay? -

Marian, I suppose that wasn't Natuashish. Can the Tories do any worse?

Marian -

No, it was in Ontario. My point is that I suspect that the Tories would have us all, or a select group of us (me, for instance, and others of us who are not right minded or in the right profession) living like this with no infrastructure. Of course, since David has brought it up it might be nice if after the Liberal win we could get into what can be done about this issue other than using it as an example of how not to do things.

Hans -

"It sounds like you're all afraid you'll wake up Jan. 24 to find out your Dad is now running the country and he'll find your stash and make you clean up your room..."

Sorry for the delay in responding to this remark. But I really must say, it reminds of the last time Say Nay appeared in these electronic pages and seems to be some kind of recurring delusion that Say nay has about politics: In other words, Say Nay, I find your comments troubling not because I am a leftie or a rightie but rather because your impression of people populating their parents basement seems so totally ill-conceived as to appear disengenuous and your continual comments to that effect appear designed solely to illicit feedback that confirms your view that left-wingers vaguely lack the moral fibre to get out of their parents basment. In other words, I don't think even you believe the antiquated stereotype you try to purvey. Hell, I don't think even Michael Coren believes it anymore. But like I say, the responses from "the left", in that they insinuate that freedom to smoke pot might be a good thing, merely confirm your view. The problem is the hypothesis about who lacks the fibre or ambition or wherewithal to achieve anything beyond their parents basement is a fantasy.

Newsflash: Most people smoking pot in their parents basement have no political views at all. In my opinion, their politics does not extend beyond materialistic wishes to be generally satisfied at all times through little effort. On the other hand, many lefties that I know of are interested in materialism at all. Many work diligently, if naively, for the good of their fellow man and prefer to have acheived a level of well-being through their own industriousness. On the third hand, if you look at the the "right wing" as embodied in the financial establishment centred on Bay Street you see a group of men whose material comfort is based almost entirely on the accomplishments of their ancestors and whose position is related to whether the parents sent them to UCC or Lakefield. If only Stephen Harper could "find their stash" and make them "clean up their room"!!!

In short, Say Nay, I suggest you leave the absurd stereotypes to shock radio because an honest debate might be just the reality check you need, dude.

David Janes -

Marian, sorry for my unclear writing. The bridging concept between my first sentence and the second was supposed to be "Kashechewan", not "booze".

More generally, my point is that wish for more government, more paternalism, more propaganda (I'm sure you'll choose different phrases) can and does reach a point of diminishing returns. In particular in Canada, as governments have realized they are not particularly accountable to the citizenry, large departments and projects are merely a cynical method of dispersments for maintaining power. The native situation is particularly instructive of the limitations of unlimited spending. The DFO, in relation to the number of fishermen, is also another example.

Jane Jacobs latest sadly unreadable polemic is my source for "Brian Mulroney is a neo-con".

'nee -

SN: First off, look up the word "facetious." You caricaturized the left, so I caricaturized the right. Second off, David's point is a good one, but note that while freedom of speech can definitely be numbered amount general liberal values, a lot of "liberal" governments don't necessarily hold liberal values - much the same way some conservative values are fine and dandy, but conservatives don't seem to pay them any mind, for example the "small government" and "small deficit" thing in the US. I don't believe that Steven Harper is any more a small-C conservative than Tony Blair is a small-l Liberal.

Hans: Yes, but as SN clearly demonstrates, the "right wing" and all that term conveys have successfully demonized the '60s -- but those kids who were smoking pot in their parents' basements were the same ones who marched for civil rights - and won them - the same ones who protested against Vietnam were beaten by the cops for having long hair and who, in some cases (in the US, at least) are still in jail for smoking that selfsame pot. Furthermore, many of those people smoking pot in their parents' basement went on to take positions in education and leadership roles in society, and were the only reason that the '80s weren't even worse for society and the economy than they already were.

SayNay? -

Easy Hans - Jeez, you guys are so touchy in a Sean Penn kinda way - Al already spanked me once today and put me in timeout.

I was just attempting a little humour in response to Gordo's, what's your phrase oh, yeah, "honest debating" point wherein he stated that a Conservative victory would "give the country a damn good look at what a loony schmuck Harper actually is" and 'nee's further articulate point: "Steven Harper isn't really a Conservative at all; he's a freaking zealot".

10 yards for piling on.

Marian -

David, you still seem to be having some ability to distinguish two types of situation: one (Walkerton) is a case in which cuts to infrastructure lead to a lack of checks and balances (and consequent poor water quality which resulted in sickness and death) and Native reservations which because of the complex cultural issues are not really comparable at all even if it could be proved that these communities are getting more than their fair share in terms of cash. What you need is to show that another town, say Perth Ontario, had a similar problem where without cuts and without a lack of checks and balances a similar situation occurred. A Native reservation is just not similar enough to Walkerton.

David Janes -

My ability to distinguish between these two types of situations is excellent. I'm not planning to get into an extended argument about either situation here but the cause in both cases (Walkerton and Kashechewan) was unqualified individuals running the water supply. I understand the lack of checks and balances contributing to both cases, though one wonders in the case of Walkerton where the manager was engaged in outright deceit and something akin to fraud whether in would make any difference. In the case of Kashechewan, as with many other native problems, society and government couldn't give a shit because it basically views natives as being a different species incapable of meaningful accounting for their actions.

'nee -

Marian, a few years ago I read a really interesting social work text with the quietly sarcastic title "Reservations are for Indians" by Heather Robertson, about the problems inherent in any "reserve" culture, not just native.

While I agree that Walkerton and the most recent reserve infrastructure scare are different, it's only because it's a difference in whose funding was cut and when - Indian Affairs has always been underfunded, while funding for public infrastructure has a more checkered history. But I agree that all reserve issues, including infractructure, are also political ones - therein lies a problem: the idea of native self-government has such a strong presence in Canada that any interference from the feds, aside from more money of course, is seen as paternalistic meddling. Government's typical, and childish, reaction to this viewpoint is "fine, see how you do on your own then!" Rather than collaboration there is animosity or amnesia, neither of which help solves a problem.

David: not unlimited money, quite the opposite - only in recent years has there been anything, and as I mentioned above the problem is largely about apportionment - it goes towards the wrong things.

(Personally, I think that "native self-government" is as ridiculous as "Quebec separatism", but that's just me... )

David Janes -

From here, Canada spends "about $9 billion in support for First Nations and Aboriginal peoples". From here, Canada's native population is about 1,000,000. This yields $9000 / person, or assuming 4 persons per household, $36,000 / family. That's a lot of money in my books.

Just to put this spending in perspective, if Canada spent equally on average on all Canadians to bring social justice, guarenteed minimum incomes or whatever the flavor of the decade is, we'd be talking (9,000 x 33,000,000) $297,000,000,000 = $297 billion dollars. Canada federally raised $186 billion in taxes and other revenue in 2003.

'nee -

Yes, "recently" being the past 15 years or so. Furthermore, $9000 isn't enough to live on. Further furthermore, does this also include education? I don't know whether or not native education is a federal responsibility rather than a provincial one; even further furthermore, that does assuredly include infrastructure that, for the rest of Canadians, a municipality would be responsible for funding. So it's not entirely a matter of simple division.

Besides which, as I said before, it is not "unlimited" in the actual sense of the word; I agree that it's probably too much, but whatever it is, it's being spent in all the wrong places *anyway*.

David Janes -

Well, $36,000/family is enough to live on, although I'm not sure we're we signed up for 100% of native families.

However, the last sentence is what I'm getting at using natives as an example (but also see the DFO, the gun registry, NASA and god knows what else in the states): as the money becomes larger and larger and as we hold our governments less and less to account, the money will increasingly become diverted and this problem will become monotonically worse over time. The institional point of spending the money will simply become spending the money and maintaining the infrastructure to spend that money. Add the whole corruption thing on top...

And this brings me to my second point, which is basically Marian's appeal is to fear. What will the CPC do? They'll be scary! Look at Mike Harris and Brian Mulrooney. I'm no friend of either -- look it up. In BM's case, he was a weak shit rat bastard, in MH's case, he decided to sell out Toronto for political reasons. This doesn't have anything to do with "right wingism" per-se.

Scary is using the RCMP to arrest people who don't give loans to your pals. Scary having access to large amounts of cash to hand out, the source of which is almost certainly from the mob. Scary is diverting large amounts of government cash to your friends and family and political operatives.

Scary is Canada becoming Mexico north.

David Janes -

read "provide native families with 100% of their income".

GR -

I am not Canadian or Canadien, (does border state count?)but your debates bring up four points. Mind if a New Englander jumps in?
First, what worries me about the US, and what I see mirrored in your discussion, is that the US is a bull in a china shop. Big, clumsy, making mistakes, but strong and annoyingly difficult to stop. American gov't needs to be aware of other countries in this world, because all empires throughout history have become certain of their power and arrogant about it. And what happened to Rome, the British Empire etc?
Second, even though you are discussing points important to Canadians, your debate is identical to the issues discussed in almost all western nations. It is remarkable how similar the debate is, but the reactions of gov't in each country is very different. John Kerry was from the state that made gay marriage legal, and that's why he never had a chance (although he had nothing to do with state politics).
Third I like how the debate in Canadian gov't can go more than simply left, right, democrat and republican. It seems like the winning half in US elections gets to take all his marbles and go home. The debate in the US has been moved to some dark, damp, basement next to the boiler. Our president rolls out the 9/11 blanket to smother debate when neccessary.
Fourth I am an unapologetic progressive. This is a little different from a liberal. I would say a progressive wants to see the world improved, as the Roosevelts said 'gov't is there to improve the lives of everyone'. My point? Why does it seem liberals, the left, and progressives have discussions, read many sources and opinons, and wish for something better but the RIGHT turns up the volume: so certain that their opinon is correct, loud, hateful and personal attacks of people who don't agree. Ahnold has said 'girly men', Rush has called others 'feminazis' and Bush says you are with him or for the terrorists. What does ignorant name calling do for anyone?

Hey, where did Alan go today?

David Janes -

"What does ignorant name calling do for anyone?"

Why don't you tell us? You spent the latter half of the last paragraph offering much the same thing, offering bizarre semiquotes and caricatures of the right.

Marian -

'nee, I was leaving open the possibility that David was right about the money because I didn't have the figures to back up an argument saying that there was too little of it and because it's so obviously a red herring. Of course having lived in a reserve (briefly) it would either have to be a case of underfunding or a case of corruption or a combination of these and some other facts having to do with harsh climate and cultural differences, because the basics weren't there (and not just the basics having to do with water). Now that you tell us that the figure is nine thousand that really makes sense. It's not enough. It's also possible that it's being mismanaged somehow. But this is more or less irrelevant because reserves are organised completely differently and there are other issues at stake there that would affect whether someone could be held accountable and how etc. etc. etc..

So David, if it is a case of individual error, why hasn't this kind of thing happened before in Perth or Owen Sound? I would say that it's because until now there have been enough people involved in checking the work of others and the system of reporting back and trouble shooting was sufficient to prevent something like this. Walkerton happened because we cut and privatised parts of that feedback system and didn't provide sufficient funds for municipal infrastructure. Individual error and incompetence happen all the time, but these errors are normally corrected. They weren't corrected in Walkerton because they'd shut down the feedback system. This was the conclusion of the Walkerton Enquiry as well. From the CBC web site: "Justice Dennis O'Connor's report also points to the region's public utilities managers and Ontario government cutbacks as contributors to the tragedy." http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/walkerton/walkerton_report.html

SayNay? -

Let see, do I have this right: you are paid, as part of your job, to chlorinate and then test the water other people are drinking - you do neither and then you falsify the results you are required to send to the MOH. How is that the fault of "cut-backs"?

Marian -

It's not about blame, it's about making sure it doesn't happen. It's the law of averages that there will be other incompetents and other errors. What we don't want is for that person or error to be where the buck stops. Try a little harder SN to get what others are saying.

'nee -

Because MOH is supposed to check up on the reports periodically, and they didn't have the manpower to do so. THat all it takes is one or two morons to screw up vital system - or that they were hired in the first place - should be suspect, and guarded against.

I worked for Water Quality in BC while the Walkerton inquiry was going on. One of my jobs was to keep track of the trial transcripts. Thus I say with a fair certainty that the system failed in multiple places, allowing the situation that <I>let</I> the irresponsibility and idiocy - and fraud - happen in the first place. And happen it did, for <I>years</I>.

SayNay? -

Well, I'm trying to follow your point about Walkerton, Marian. I might agree with the "cutbacks" point if it was the case of Koebel not sending in the test results, or sending in "bad" test results to the MOH, and the MOH not looking for them or at them for weeks because there was not enough staff, backlog etc. But I understood that Koebel actually falsified the reports sent in. It was not a "feedback" problem.

Your point that "if it is a case of individual error, why hasn't this kind of thing happened before in Perth or Owen Sound" seems to me to rather support David's point that Walkerton was a "one off" case, involving active fraud of a bad actor, not mere negligence.

'nee -

The problem is trying to prove a negative, SN. Do we really know that other water systems haven't been contaminated? People haven't died, but that doesn't prove anything - mild cases of illness might not be reported by residents, since they just didn't know. Who knows? The system isn't there to make sure. There are 63 communities in Ontario currently on boil water advisories, and that number itself speaks of failed/failing infrastructure.

'nee -

Who was it who drew a comparison between the failing of the acquaducts in Rome with the fall of same?

Marian -

I was responding to David's claim that progressive policies have also caused situations like the one in Walkerton in Native reservations. In my view his case is weak because Native reservations are not run the same way as other municipalities and there is no evidence that we're talking about progressive policies in any case, but the cause and effect is also muddled because of the other factors involved. In my view, he needs a place like Walkerton (e.g. Owen Sound or Perth) and a progressive policy in order to make his case. He would have to show that there were a similar instance in a Walkerton-like town involving, say, the NDP giving too much money to some municipality or doing some lefty thing and show how that lead to some kind of calamity. Saying that there are other cases like Walkerton is not enough. It also doesn't contradict what I am saying.

Anyway, we seem to be going around in circles. SayNay, you should go back to your echo chamber. This is starting to sound like that 1950s comedy sketch about the Komodo Dragon -- Scientist: "The Komodo Dragon is the world's largest living lizard" Interviewer: "So, how big would you say the lizard is? I bet it's pretty big! Is it bigger than your ordinary garden variety lizard?"

Marian -

Re: Koebel and falsification, read Justice O'Connor's report. I believe you'll find that *among other things* one or more of the agencies that conducted tests on the water were at one time supposed to report back to both Koebel *and* the Province or some other outside body (a check that was later eliminated through privatisation). This left Koebel to his own devices. The report itself lists cutbacks as one of the causes. So, um, the government hired some judge to conduct an inquiry and this is what was found. I know that ultra-conservatives are really into revisionism, but it goes a little far no?

SayNay? -

Well, I think we agree 'nee it's a good thing people aren't dying, and the advisories suggest that this is because other people are indeed doing their jobs protecting the public, with the trust that's placed in them - something Koebel didn't appreciate, apparently. If I remember correctly, he knew the Walkerton water was contaminated, and let the people drink it for what, 5 days before he informed the local health board?

I would suggest every Ontario community has a "water advisory" once a year or so - a sewer line breaks, flooding occurs ( as in Walkerton), a contaminant leaks etc. These have occured regularly, even before the "Harris years". No biggie, provided some dope doesn't leave it a week to tell you there's E.coli in the water - that's when people die.

I am sure, 'nee, that you, I and David ( I dare to presume) all agree that there is a pressing need to replace our community's aging infrastructures - treatment plants, sewer lines etc. - no argument there - but Marian I thought, was talking about the lack of investment in, or cutbacks of, "people" or "programs" with specific reference to the Harris years in Ontario leading to Walkerton (the water testing downloading actually began with the Rae gov't, btw).

I do not see Walkerton as providing a basis for an argument of why we need more public servants in more public programs esp. if the argument is that we need this expansion to protect the public from the shoddy work other public servants in other public programs.

SayNay? -

Quite frankly, I agree with Marian, I don't see any real connection or link between Walkerton and the water quality issues on Native reserves. How big is that lizard?

My discussion was directed to the "checks and balances" argument.

GR -

DJ is correct--I did make a blanket statement. A generalization. I am more ignorant than a lot of people, that's true too. It SEEMS like progressive dialogue is polite much of the time and it SEEMS like the right makes loud and self-righteous, even hateful remarks much of the time. Do I have stats? No. Is it my impression, yes. As I believe Alan hinted at here early on, the debate should be reasoned and polite.
Where is Alan anyway?

Hans -

Your right Say Nay. It drives me equally crazy when people talk about Harper as scary without saying why they think that. These things are ridiculous caricatures.

Arthur -

It drives me equally crazy when people talk about Harper as scary without saying why they think that.

You guys are sooo political correct. This is politics. It's supposed to be a mudfight.

David -

Marian is asking me to prove a negative. However, there's lots of other deaths involving government functions going on in a non-spectacular fashion -- road accidents, prison murders, children that are wards of Children's Aid and so forth.

Another example: someone drowned at Wasaga beach (I think) this summer. There was no life guard. Could have they been saved if there was a life guard? Maybe. How about if there was 25 life guards? Maybe even a better chance. There's lots of small ponds and swimming holes that people have water accidents too. Perhaps we should have 1 (or 25) life guards for each of those. If you don't agree, you're obiously a callous neo-con bastard [*] driving to save money for Hummer gas money.

Or to sum up, after a while the marginal value of spending extra money is low or even negative, because the money could be better spent elsewhere. Discovering where that margin is is the trick, of course.

With regards to "aging infrastructure", this is actually one of my pet beefs. Delivering water, taking away sewage, maintaining safe roads are amongst society's core functions. In Toronto (I can't speak for anywhere else), politicians simply have little interest in delivering it. If I was emperor, this is what we'd spend our money on. I'd also rotate all cities by 45 degrees so the sun wouldn't shine directly down streets at sunrise and sunset.

[*] joke. I know Marian wasn't calling me a neo-con :-)

SayNay? -

David's quite right with his point "after a while the marginal value of spending extra money is low or even negative" - as we know risk management is employed all the time: in the private sector where market forces are at play (ie. where the goal is to maximize profits) and in the public sector where there are obvious budgetary restraints. We make hard choices, even in the public health and safety area, and rely upon people to do their jobs, with the trust that has been placed in them. But is it revisionist to see Walkerton as a tragedy directly arising from human failings, rather than a lack of money?

Marian -

I'll call you a neo-con if you like, David. Anyway, SN,one of the things that is interesting about Walkerton is that it did involve the private sector taking over parts of the feedback loop. That's why there was no report back to the province (at least this is my understanding: private labs did a different sort of thing than had been done). You know, it's not my job to read this stuff to you guys. Anyway, this is the consensus opinion on this topic and not just among left wingers like myself. A combination of cutbacks and privatisation lead to tragedy. The system worked and then it didn't. As David said, there is a threshold and that threshold was crossed. So get with the program (as they say). All I should have to do as a private citizen is say "Walkerton" and you should nod your heads and say: "Been there." That's what everyone else in Ontario does. I mean, your kids are drinking water too. Or do you live elsewhere and bathe in bottled water?

Here's what I find scary about Harper. He is quite comfortable with very right wing economic policies. He doesn't believe in Canada. He thinks Canada is a second tier socialist country. He was affiliated with an organisation that has as its mission the privatisation of medicare. Like a lot of conservatives he gives the impression of thinking that there are good people and there are bad people and the bad people don't deserve the basics. Now, I'm a lefty, but I think there is something to this. I think that there *are* in fact better and worse people, but I think that, number one, human beings are not great judges of this kind of thing and number two even the comparatively bad (i.e. the incompetent bozo or the weak or lazy) deserve the basics (the definition of which we can argue about). Also, I'm not likely to extend the grouping of bad people to my ideological enemies. So, I don't think economists should be poor, or Bay street lawyers or even corporate lawyers. I get the sense that many neo-cons would like to see certain kinds of professions marginalised and made poor. Academics, for instance, and CBC journalists.

By the way, I'm listening to Michael Enright right now and I have to confess that I really do like him as a host. I'm not just indifferent to him as I said earlier in another discussion on broadcasting. Blah Blah Blah.

Marian -

By the way, one of the things that the private sector and Koebel may have in common is that the private sector and Koebel both confuse their own self interest, or the interest of their company with the public good. I think there are areas where the private sector is good. But there are other areas where the private sector is bad. I want courier service and e-mail to compete with the postal service, for instance. I don't want my health to be in the hands of someone who is confused about whose interests he or she is serving.

David Janes -

"By the way, one of the things that the private sector and Koebel may have in common is that the private sector and Koebel both confuse their own self interest, or the interest of their company with the public good."

Couldn't you find a way to work Ted Bundy or Attila the Hun into that?

"I don't want my health to be in the hands of someone who is confused about whose interests he or she is serving."

Fair enough. I want my health to be in the hands of capable well compensed professionals and I want to be treated in timely manner with the best techniques and technology available. Unfortunately, that clashes with your desire to treat the doctors and nurses as a servitude class. This is what those on the left seem to style as "values", though why has always been a mystery to me.

Marian -

Um, servitude class?

I'm going to add to my list of Harper worries: According to Now, which is a Toronto Mag, "The National Citizens Coalition of which Harper was president was originally founded with the aim of killing publicly funded health care altogether." Harper supported US war in Iraq. Harper also wants to repeal the gay marriages. He's been quoted as saying: "Alberta has opted for the best of Canada's heritage – a combination of American enterprise and individualism.... Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialist country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status." He is opposed to bilingualism. I know, I'm a dullard.

Marian -

I meant to say -- I'm going to add to my list of Harper worries: According to Now, which is a Toronto Mag, "The National Citizens Coalition of which Harper was president was originally founded with the aim of killing publicly funded health care altogether." Harper supported the US war in Iraq. Harper also wants to repeal the gay marriages bill. He's been quoted as saying: "Alberta has opted for the best of Canada's heritage – a combination of American enterprise and individualism.... Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialist country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status." He is opposed to bilingualism. I know, I'm a dullard.

'nee -

David, how on earth is the public sector paying for healthcare treating doctors and nurses like a servitude class? In Canada today, doctors are private practitioners and they just send all their bills to one guy at the end of the day, instead of ten. Certain things are price controlled, but not as many as you'd think. Furthermore, healthcare delivery in the US is generally <I>worse</I> than in Canada, yet the state pays more per capita for healthcare than we do in Canada - so how does that bolster your case? Most other european countries have some form of socialized care, so it's hard to find comparisons for privatization except the US. But there, things are really bad. Servitude class?

'nee -

(I think Alan is just sitting back and watching the counter on this post clime, and smiling to himself.)

Marian -

On the subject of doctors getting compensation here is comment made by a private sector doctor in the US about remuneration that should be of interest, from the New Yorker:

“?Roberta Parillo is a financial-disaster specialist for doctors who is called by physician groups or hospitals when they suddenly find that they can’t make ends meet. (“I fix messes” was the way she put it to me.) At the time I spoke to her, she was in Pennsylvania, trying to figure out where things had gone wrong for a struggling hospital. In previous months, she’d been in Mississippi, to help a group of a hundred and twenty-five physicians who found they were in debt; Washington, D.C., where a physician group was worried about its survival; and New England, for a big anesthesiology department that had lost fifty million dollars. She’d turned away a dozen other clients. It’s quite possible, she told me, for a group of doctors to make nothing at all.

Doctors quickly learn that how much they make has little to do with how good they are. It largely depends on how they handle the business side of their practice. “A patient calls to schedule an appointment, and right there things can fall apart,” she said. If patients don’t have insurance, you have to see if they qualify for a state assistance program like Medicaid. If they do have insurance, you have to find out whether the insurer lists you as a valid physician. You have to make sure the insurer covers the service the patient is seeing you for and find out the stipulations that are made on that service. You have to make sure the patient has the appropriate referral number from his primary-care physician. You also have to find out if the patient has any outstanding deductibles or a co-payment to make, because patients are supposed to bring the money when they see you. “Patients find this extremely upsetting,” Parillo said. “ ‘I have insurance! Why do I have to pay for anything! I didn’t bring any money!’ Suddenly, you have to be a financial counsellor. At the same time, you feel terrible telling them not to come in unless they bring cash, check, or credit card. So you see them anyway, and now you’re going to lose twenty per cent, which is more than your margin, right off the bat.”

Even if all this gets sorted out, there’s a further gantlet of mind-numbing insurance requirements. If you’re a surgeon, you may need to obtain a separate referral number for the office visit and for any operation you perform. You may need a pre-approval number, too. Afterward, you have to record the referral numbers, the pre-approval number, the insurance-plan number, the diagnosis codes, the procedure codes, the visit codes, your tax I.D. number, and any other information the insurer requires, on the proper billing forms. “If you get anything wrong, no money—rejected,” Parillo said. Insurers also have software programs that are designed to reject certain combinations of diagnosis, procedure, and visit codes. Any rejection, and the bill comes back to the patient. Calls to the insurer produce automated menus and interminable holds.

Parillo’s recommendations are pretty straightforward. Physicians must computerize their billing systems, she said. They must carefully review the bills they send out and the payments that insurers send back. They must hire office personnel just to deal with the insurance companies. A well-run office can get the insurer’s rejection rate down from thirty per cent to, say, fifteen per cent. That’s how a doctor makes money, she told me. It’s a war with insurance, every step of the way.”

The full article is here: http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/050404fa_fact

SayNay? -

You'll remember 'nee and Marian...Al and I had a little "tiff" yesterday, and...well, let's say it just ended a little badly...for one of us.

And you'll note, I'm the one still posting...yeeees, haaaaa, aaaah, haaaaa (Jon Lovitz satan character-type evil laugh here).

[Well of course, it just means Al, has a life. must put that on my "to do" list]

David Janes -

(1)
If I drive an Accord and you drive a Civic, your car is not 33% more price effective -- you're just driving a cheaper car.
(2)
If you go to states for treatment -- I know, because I've done this -- you'll be given a 30% discount because insurance is not paying for it. This is another cause of higher costs. There's lots of money there.
(3)
Having two parents who were effectively denied treatment (i.e. wait a couple years and we'll get to you then) for easily fixable problems, I don't particularly think health care is that great here.
(4)
You've set up a false dichotomy: there are many options besides the way the US does it.

Staying out of Iraq is classic sort of modern day Canadian virture. Humming and hawing on the part of government until the polls come in, and then after the "decision" is made, playing it up like it was some sort virtue. cf. Kyoto also. The right's support for the Iraq war does speak to a core difference in values, where we believe that all humans have rights and are capable of of (and should be) living in dignity and freedom, the left tends to think that the natural state of non-Westerners (non-whites, essentially) is to live like animals in a state of brutality. Were you horrified by all those purple fingers or do you just think it's some sort of puppet government over the and turned off the TV?

And with that, you're run my keyboard out of power so I'm going to deny Alan 100 posts to this thread and sign off.

GR -

Listen: here is the irony of US healthcare. People with great jobs and salaries generally also have great health insurance, provided for free by the employer. My wife and I make very little compared to many if not most Americans, and 33 percent of our monthly before tax income goes to pay for our health insurance. (we are LUCKY to have something, many do not) Not rent, not food, not even the ancient car in the driveway. Neither of us has been sick or used our health insurance in over 15 years. We have what is considered 'affordable, healthy lifestyle' insurance. I would kill have to some kind of state program like yours. And sadly, even people with insurance can be denied treatment--it just plain stinks. So Canadians be grateful for what you have.

Arthur -

The right's support for the Iraq war does speak to a core difference in values, where we believe that all humans have rights and are capable of of (and should be) living in dignity and freedom, the left tends to think that the natural state of non-Westerners (non-whites, essentially) is to live like animals in a state of brutality.

That's quite a black and white comparison you make there: please reformulate David.

Marian -

I'm trying to do my part to bring us to 100.

I don't think Canadian style care vs US style care is a false dichotomy for Canada. I don't think it's realistic to expect that Canada can introduce private care and not end up with a US style system. We're not France. We're not part of the EU's trading block. We *are* in fact part of NAFTA which has provisions that would push us in that direction.

Re: Liberal virtue, oh, sure, Chretien is a pragmatist, but you shoudn't underestimate the effect that his mentor, Trudeau, had on him. You can bet that thumbing his nose at the US was no cynical decision. Moreover, liberals in most parts of the world have a tendency to be internationalists and this was an opportunity to underline the near unilateralism that was taking place when it came to Iraq.

Marian -

Um, 'shouldn't,' not shoudn't. What are we at? 77?

Marian -

I think cynicism is much more applicable to the Bush admin. Their goal was clearly to advance the interests of the US, not spread 'democracy.' They'll happily support dictators as long as they don't get in the way. And they're not so happy with the democratic processes at home and abroad that don't suck up, e.g. France (remember freedom fries?), the press's revelations of torture and Valerie Plame come to mind.

'nee -

David, just because our system isn't perfect doesn't mean it's not better than another system. It says only that our system isn't perfect. Furthermore, let's look at a country with a similar setup, then: Britain tried privatizing their healthcare and it was an unmitigated disaster. Taiwan has recently moved to a public-pay system. Cuba has introduced two-tired care in the form of a revenue grab from foreign tourists, and their public care has suffered as a result. Enough false dichotomies for you? Then look at the article Marian quoted, and listen to the stories of some self-employed people in the US trying to get private insurance and being charged $1000 a month for it, because they had something wrong with them ten years ago, or they had a baby, or they pick their nose in public. Then look at the people who had a serious health problem and were denied coverage from their HMO, too - a situatione exactly analgous to your anecdote about your parents. Privately funded care is at best no <I>better</I>, but I'd argue that it's clearly worse by its very nature.

Marian is spot on: NAFTA will require that we do certain things with our health services, and furthermore that we can't undo it once its done. Erring on the side of socialism is clearly indicated.

GR -

I am sure that a fairly long list of terrible dictators could be made. Plenty of nasty places where there are nasty rulers. If you have enormous oil reserves, then somehow you find yourself at the top of the list of nasty dictators that need to be toppled. If, however, you are already a willing trade partner of the US, such as Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, then obviously the US gov't can smile and turn a blind eye.

'nee -

(er, first sentence: not better "or worse" :)

Marian -

Incidentally, when I say things like 'thumbing the nose at the US,' I don't, of course, mean thumbing my nose at ordinary citizens. There's a difference between US policy and US citizens and I recognize that.

Hans -

Sorry Arthur. I've become jaded by mudslinging.

David -

Arthur: no, I believe my statement to be accurate.

Nee: more or better management won't improve Canadian health care. More options are needed -- more tiers, if you, such as in nightmare places such as Germany, Sweden or Quebec.

GR: do nothing or do 'em all are not the options on the table. The west can no longer not be engaged in the world. In some places, such as Iraq, military action was/is the only option. In others, such as China, engagement through trade and relations may be the only reasonable possibilities.

Marian: Plame? The woman -- the "outed" who's who listed "covert agent" -- who sent her husband to Niger and he came back and wrote an article about in the NYT lying about what he found? I guess "Fitzmas" turned out to be a bit of disappointment for you. [More here if you want to read more right-wing lies]

The media revelations of torture? Where? Is that case where a solider called red ink menstrual blood? Or are you talking about Abu Gharib, where the military found and prosecuted some cracker who on _one night_ connected _random street criminals who were transfered to her block_ to electrodes that _weren't connected to anything_. And don't the naked human pyramid! If those central american countries in the 80's new about that one, history would have turned differently, I'll tell ya.

Alan -

Wow. I got back from an internet blackout trip to SW Ontario, saw 85 responses and thought I was dealing with a comment spammer. Let me got through all this to figure out who gets red cards and who gets yellow ones.

Arthur -

The right's support for the Iraq war does speak to a core difference in values, where we believe that all humans have rights and are capable
<br>
Arthur: no, I believe my statement to be accurate.

You mean that 'left' thinking people don't believe in rights?

the left tends to think that the natural state of non-Westerners (non-whites, essentially) is to live like animals in a state of brutality

Where's the proof for that? And don't link to other weblogs: I want to see this well-argued.

Alan -

Comments:<p>1.I think this is a very weird statement not because it is untrue but because it is only since 9/11 that it could possibly be made with a straight face:<blockquote class="smalltext"><i>The right's support for the Iraq war does speak to a core difference in values, where we believe that all humans have rights and are capable of of (and should be) living in dignity and freedom, the left tends to think that the natural state of non-Westerners (non-whites, essentially) is to live like animals in a state of brutality. Were you horrified by all those purple fingers or do you just think it's some sort of puppet government over the and turned off the TV?</i></blockquote>The US right's support for rightist military death squads in central and south America and its propping up of dictators was the going rage for the right for about...umm...a century or more. Claiming any stake to the people freedom argument now is a bit rich for folk so new to the party. Plus the day the right intervenes in Zimbabwe or any other African tyranny is the day I accept David's point.<p>2. Water. Deregulation by the Thatcher/Regan/Harris set meant less spending and a shift in risk management. I was in Kings Cross when it was burning and it was burning because a stair well was full of garbage because cleaners we fired. Folk died. Harris cleaned house in areas of public service, eliminated the practical ability to have checks in the system, Walkerton happened. Folk died. It all goes back to the Chicago School of Economics which taught that any human activity can be quanitified in terms of money and risk managed accordingly - and best managed by the market. The dying is factored in like the savings on those 1970s cars that exploded when hit from behind. But these externalized losses to the whole community are not factored into the efficiency of the new system. They are passed on as something bland, like a "natural" effect. <p>3. On the cost of the First Nations. I would like a comparison on the cost of PEI and the cost of the NWT side by side with that. When you figure out PEI, remember the placement of the DVA headquarters as well as the GST office, both bureaucracies no other province could ever qualify for. I represented and researched enough non-native leaders with sticky fingers (including many of the Sask. PC party) not to be concerned that there is a unique problem with aboriginal government standards. It is a problem in all leadership regardless of race.<p>4. Health care. I think we have a good system. I do not know why anyone thinks different except for David's point which I think is based on being on an underserviced geographical location. In the US my reasonably well-off and rather Republican retired relatives are finding their deductables so high they do not go for medical services we would consider normal. They do not believe their system is a dream. I say sooner or later we will be capping the sorts of services we get will have to occur as we will not be able to afford all that science can do but make sure those services are available for a fee, under extra insurance coverage and maybe to children, say.

Arthur -

I think this is a very weird statement not because it is untrue but because it is only since 9/11 that it could possibly be made with a straight face:

I'll tighten the screws: the intervention of which 'left thinking' country led to the fall of a dictator and his murderous soldiers? Where were the US? Where were you David?

David -

Arthur, re your last comment: huh?

To Al's point re: US intervention, I won't argue anything pre-1945, but simply put afterwards, defeating communist was worth almost any cost. In terms of central and south america, if the choice was between a soviet client state and a "right wing" dictatorship, you take the least worst choice. In fact, "least worst choice" is pretty well the best any government can do.

The question in Africa re: Zimbabwe or whatever is why should the option be military? What can the West do to make things better in Africa. Lots. Insist on the rule of law, insist on yearly improvements, stop pretending (through organizations such as the UN) that the governments legitimently represent their peoples, open up trade especially in domestically protected food markets, allow GMO to be grown (more important in Asia right now), undo the (effect) ban on DDT. Especially the last three.

Oh, and drop a MOAB on Mugabe's ass. Ha ha, just kidding.

Alan -

Good Lord. Defeating a democratically elected government of the left or propping up dictators killing thousands in Central American is not a least worst choice. It is backing murderers. There is no way to rationalize that as supporting democracy in any way.<p>Why not the same approach in Africa to the Middle East, then? There was no rush in Iraq given the stranglehold of over flights. All they had to do was just stop pretending that there was a peril to the world, insist on the rule of law and open up trade. You're right - makes sense.

GR -

It is true and embarrassing that the the US has supported dictators. For example, in the 80s, our friend Saddam Hussein in Iraq was the guy to give stuff to because he was against the Soviets and Iran. Gosh, what happened to that swell friendship? Some of the games the CIA has played have been bad from the start then gotten worse and backfired. That is not least-worst either, just supporting evil.

SayNay? -

I always find interesting when those of a certain view seem to forget the involvement of the Democratic Presidents and their administrations in the planning and carrying out of these past coups or "interferences" in other countries' affairs - since the end of the WWII, the Dems have had the White House roughly half the time and controlled the Houses for longer - long enough to leave their fingerprints on a few of the "nasty" files.

Jimmy Carter(whom Al admires)and his Administration, for instance, had their fingerprints on Indonesian policy in East Timor; support for the Khmer Rouge; El Salvador and Nicaragua; and support for the Mujahadeen (Taliban)in Afganistan...

David -

GR: Dorry to disappoint you, Iraq was never a US client state -- [table with numbers].

Alan -

SN - you have violated the unwritten law by establishing the incorrect to make a point. At no time did I make any difference between the Republicans and Democracts. Again, don't bother responding now until Wednesday at 9 am. I promised you a suspension and this is it. Penalty box but nothing you have posted to date is deleted.

David -

Al -- can you fix that last link for me please?

Alan -

Done...and maybe find some stats pre-1973 as my "ever" includes more than 33 years.

David Janes -

Sorrrreeee. "Saddam's Iraq".

Alan -

Who was in there before? My actual ever really does only go back 33 years. ;-)

Marian -

Re: "Marian: Plame? The woman -- the "outed" who's who listed "covert agent" -- who sent her husband to Niger and he came back and wrote an article about in the NYT lying about what he found? I guess "Fitzmas" turned out to be a bit of disappointment for you. [More here if you want to read more right-wing lies]

The media revelations of torture? Where? Is that case where a solider called red ink menstrual blood? Or are you talking about Abu Gharib, where the military found and prosecuted some cracker who on _one night_ connected _random street criminals who were transfered to her block_ to electrodes that _weren't connected to anything_. And don't the naked human pyramid! If those central american countries in the 80's new about that one, history would have turned differently, I'll tell ya."

Nobody but Karl Rove and you, David, thinks that the Plame case was anything but a bit of dirty dealing by the Republicans for a bad cause. It is illegal to out a CIA agent not to mention dangerous to a whole network of agents who are undercover and have connections to her. Under the right set of circumstances, Plame and some others could have died. To do it for a bit of partisan revenge is putting your own party first before the good of the nation and before the lives of those who serve that nation. This was a real dirty trick by the current admin. By the way, what Wilson said is what we now know, that the WMDs did not exist. He was sent, not by his wife but by a government agency. I know the Republican spin on this, so don't bother pointing me to it. It's simply unbelievable.

If anyone here is unclear on the Abu Ghraib incidents here are the photos:
http://www.antiwar.com/news/?articleid=2444

I think it's really sad that conservatives think that they can smooth over Abu Ghraib. It's just a bump in the road to you guys. Manadel al-Jamadi was tortured and died, others were merely stripped naked and humiliated, many US soldiers were involved in things such as water boarding and other known torture techniques and you guys treat it like a frat party misadventure: "Oh, the stripper drowned in the pool? Jeez, she must have been drunk!" This is truly a case of inappropriate affect, there's a real lack of empathy and an inability to fully appreciate of the gravity of the error. The US is a great nation sullying itself in the eyes of the world with this kind of international performance. This is good for no one, especially not conservative causes.

David Janes -

It's funny you progressives think that the story of Abu Ghraib started in 2003, or what those photos show are anything comparible to history of that institution. But of course, that's not the gold standard: human beings are human beings, some are evil and petty. In a new socialist world after people are improved for their own benefit that won't happen, of course, but in this one we just identify and punish though who do. As the _US military_ did, despite you strange belief that there was some sort of press coup here.

I admit that Cheney and Rumsfeld got off easy, as obviously they sent the orders down to "make them prisoners do the Pyramind."

I actually, I think the Plame stuff was fair play for a good cause. Plame and Wilson wanted to play at politics and being pretty knowledgable about the "reality based community", they knew much of the media and all progressives what eat up whatever they squatted out. Lies lies lies, in case you didn't get the point earlier. As with many "illegal" things we here about from the left (illegal wars, illegal denentions, illegal outings), the illegality only seems to exist in the mind of those making the claims. No courts or prosecutors are taking any such stuff seriously.

Happy Fitzmas!

Marian -

"lies lies, in case you didn't get the point earlier. As with many "illegal" things we here about from the left (illegal wars, illegal denentions, illegal outings), the illegality only seems to exist in the mind of those making the claims"

Um, excuse me? Scooter Libby has or will go to jail over this. So did Judith Miller. It is very definitely illegal to out a CIA agent. It was all over the news in the US (I was through there over the holidays). "The illegal outing of Valerie Plame blah blah blah...etc" is the phrasing that is on every channel in every hotel room everywhere from Newsweek to CNN.

From the New Yorker:
"Because revealing the identity of an undercover agent violates a 1982 national-security act, the Justice Department began to investigate whether members of the Bush Administration had knowingly done so, and eventually chose Patrick Fitzgerald as special counsel."

Here is another news article:
http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=4682

"Cheney looks to be deeply involved in the illegal outing of the secret CIA agent Valerie Palme for partisan political reasons along with his Chief of Staff Scooter Libby. Cheney was exposed in 2005 for the deceptive PR campaign to falsely tie Saddam Hussein to the 9-11 terrorist attacks and WMD’s that did not exist. "

Marian -

Here is the link to the New Yorker article:
http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/051114fa_fact

Marian -

To bring us back to our topic. One of the things that worries me about a possible Tory win is that I suspect it would result in further integration with the US at a time when we couldn't necessarily guarantee Canadian interests. I fear deep integration. I would have real worries about further misadventures by the US in other countries. The Liberals, at least, are moving towards a less dependent future by seeking trade with other nations. I don't think the Tories would. I also don't really think they're Tories, they're closer to Republicans on almost every issue.

Alan -

But remember the call of the libert-anarchists, Marian. The reponse is, of course, that you are citing the untrustworthy MSM and that these people are being brought before judges who cannot be trusted not to make law. All the institutions of society are now suspect as are facts themselves. In fact, facts themselves lie. All is relative except morality which is fixed firm and always agrees with me.

Johnny Nemo -

Certainly special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald seems to be taking the Plame outing seriously. (Scooter Libby might be taking the affair a bit more seriously now, too.)

David, are you seriously suggesting that if I criticize the government, it is right and good that the government can break the law to jeopardize the life of my family and associates? And what "lies, lies, lies" did Wilson (or Plame) tell?

David Janes -

Johnny, please read my post about half way up the page -- that pretty covers the main points about the lies, though there's a few others that Wilson made up as the process rolled.

Scooter Libby, some guy that no one ever heard about before Fitzmas, was charged for lying to the prosecutor, not for "outing" Plame. Judith Miller spent time in jail for refusing to devulge sources, not for "outing" Plame.

Outing an "undercover agent" is a crime -- Plame wasn't an undercover agent under the definition of that term. You will almost certainly not see charges relating to this and if there are you will not see convictions. That's why there was so much coal in the stockings on Fitzmas morning.

I'm not "seriously suggesting" anything of the sort. The government didn't break any laws, Plame and Wilson wanted to play at partisan politics and got burned, plain and simple.

Marian -

"Scooter Libby, some guy that no one ever heard about before Fitzmas, was charged for lying to the prosecutor, not for "outing" Plame. Judith Miller spent time in jail for refusing to devulge sources, not for "outing" Plame."

By your logic, there would be no crime of murder because Capone was not charged with it. Libby was charged with lying (just as Capone was charged for tax evasion) because it is very hard to actually prove the Plame outing when you have uncooperative witnesses, not because the crime does not exist.

And for the record, this tarring of every opponent with the Fitzmas label is unfunny. You don't know what my views are on this topic, so drop it.

David Janes -

Now you're putting words in my mouth, I'm claiming there was no crime (in the "outing"). Fitzmas isn't an insult or a "tar" -- it's the name that the democrats in the states were calling the day the indictments was coming out. I have a pretty good idea that you'd enjoy the site of Dick Cheney being dragged out of the White House in handcuffs, so I suspect I'm in the ball park with "Fitzmas".

Alan -

It is an especially unmannered labelling as I really have no clue as to what "Fitzmas" is supposed to mean. He who lives by the in-joke dies by the in-joke.

Alan -

And, just an idea...if we could, can you link to earlier comments. This can be done by clicking on their individual time and date. That will help with a thread as <strike>bloated</strike> interesting as this one.

David Janes -

We'll never make it to 1000, you know.

Marian -

I didn't understand the Fitzmas thing either. I thought it had something to do with the renaming of Christmas.

I guess, since we've passed one hundred on this thread I can do something less webby for a while. So I'll be going outside now to interact with real humans in an unmediated environment. Wish me luck. Do not click on face, as they say. Ciao.

Alan -

Take water!

GR -

Who was that masked woman? My wife and I would like to take Marian out for a plate of nachos and a couple pitchers of beer. And maybe some chocolate cheesecake for dessert. Thanks Marian.

David Janes -

<p>
Bwah hah hah:

<blockquote>
WE'RE RELUCTANT to return to the subject of former CIA employee Valerie Plame because of our oft-stated belief that far too much attention and debate in Washington has been devoted to her story and that of her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, over the past three years. But all those who have opined on this affair ought to take note of the not-so-surprising disclosure that the primary source of the newspaper column in which Ms. Plame's cover as an agent was purportedly blown in 2003 was former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage.

<p>
[...] Nevertheless, it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It's unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.
</blockquote>

Alan -

Your sense of injustice combined with grudge is a lesson to us all. Huzzah! Why, again, do I care? And why do we love the MSM when it agrees with us?

David Janes -

Didn't you hear me? "Bwah hah ha". What's more human than to enjoy that with a glass of Rum+Coke of a Friday night, or to bask in the imagined approval of the MSM!

Alan -

You are entirely right. It is rude of me to suggest otherwise.