Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stop making fun of Sarah Palin!

I had heard all about Tina Fey's parody of Sarah Palin on SNL. I saw snippets and finally went to NBC.com to watch the entire skit. It's hilarious even if you haven't seen Palin herself. Then I kept searching the web, and saw (1) a clip of the Palin interview by Katie Couric, and (2) Tina Fey's second SNL appearance recreating the Couric-Palin interview.

This is not parody or satire. It is a re-enactment. Most of Fey's responses are taken directly from the real interview. It is more of a public service to get across to a wider audience - primarily the young or indifferent who may not have bothered to watch Palin on tv, but hopefully will vote - what a colossal moron she is.

So stop with the parodies. Sarah Palin is hilarious all by herself. We don't need comedians to make jokes about her; what we need is more recreations, replays, and impersonations which depict her as she really is. Only then will people understand how dangerous it is to consider putting in one of the highest political posts in the world, a right-wing religious nut with little knowledge of politics, no experience with or awareness of foreign relations, no analytical skills, and an inability to form a halfway coherent or articulate thought of her own. How funny would that be?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Some Political Definitions

As our election draws near and I hear more and more political discussion, it keeps occurring to me that it would be handy to have a political dictionary. I'm sure there is one already, but I'm thinking more along the lines of how the terms actually function, not what historians, politicians, or grammarians dictate as what you should believe. Here, then, are my first two submissions for such a reference book.

Wasted Vote
Someone told me in the last election that voting NDP was a "wasted" vote. Hey - if you take the time to vote, then there is no such thing as a "wasted" vote. In a true democracy, you vote for the person you want to see elected - end of story. When did "democracy" get redefined to mean voting for a person/party you don't believe in, just so a worse asshole doesn't get elected? If you are eligible to vote and you don't bother to, that is a wasted vote.

Fiscally Conservative
I started to hear this phrase around the lead-up to the last election. As in, "I'm liberal, but fiscally conservative." I'd never thought I'd heard anything so ludicrous - especially when it comes from gays. You mean, if they handle the country's finances well, you're willing to overlook the fact that they want to discriminate against you, restrict your rights, treat you like a second-class citizen, and perpetuate myths - such as that gays are child molesters? Way to go. Fortunately for us, the myth of conservatives as being better at handling money has been shot to hell south of the border, with the US incurring record debt, spending trillions on the useless Iraq invasion, and now socializing bad investment failure while leaving homeowners with failed mortgages out to dry. The Bush administration has become an international laughing stock, and McCain and Palin are showing with each successive interview and sound bite that they easily have the potential to continue the trend. Yay capitalism! And now, Canadians have seen the usual cuts to social programs and the arts, while our own conservatives spend $22B on the military. Is this what you meant by "sensible spending"? I don't actually mean to suggest that the term "fiscally conservative" come to be associated with managing money so badly that people see you as incapable of running a lemonade stand at the end of your driveway. I just don't want to hear the phrase any more - not from people who expect to be taken seriously.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Good Guys Win One

Jeremy Hinzman, the first Iraq war resister to go public with his fight to stay in Canada, today won a stay of deportation, along with his wife, Nga, and their two children (one of whom was born here recently). The War Resisters Campaign held a meeting to discuss the decision this evening, and the mood was jubilant, although there is still a tough fight ahead. With Harper ignoring his obligations to the Canadian people (Parliament voted on June 3 to allow the resisters to stay; Harper's refusal to honour the vote smacks of dictatorship), we are now possibly looking at a political game for the next couple of weeks; the government will try to dodge the issue and consider how to continue to refrain from taking action while simultaneously avoiding any moves that will result in negative press. For today, all that matters is that the Hinzmans' deportation order for tomorrow is void.

Harper's refusal to have a heart is not surprising - I don't know if there was a time when I didn't think he was an asshole - but it's been discouraging. I rushed home from work today and then turned around and rushed out to the 6:00 meeting. Although the news broke some time after 4:00, I knew nothing until I walked in the door. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting good news, so to be told "they got a stay" was more than a little overwhelming. I was unable to talk for a couple of minutes.

In this tough and ongoing campaign, time out to show some appreciation. Huge thanks to:
Alyssa Manning, Jeremy Hinzman's lawyer, who was brilliant in court today
Michelle Robidoux and Lee Zaslofsky of the War Resisters Support Campaign, who never seem to stop going...
The Quakers, who have been so kind and welcoming, and who have provided continuous support for the resisters - especially when they are arriving and getting settled - and also for the campaign workers (they provided a lovely dinner tonight)
Alex Lisman, who has been documenting the campaign and providing video, including the film Let Them Stay as well as video clips on YouTube
Laura of wmtc, who reports every development on her blog, including when and where to take action to aid the campaign
Olivia Chow, who introduced the motion in Parliament, and continues to speak out on the issue
• The International Socialists, who have been non-stop supporters and proponents in the fight to keep the war resisters in Canada
• All of the other supporters who have come out to meetings and demos. Every one of you is significant in helping to show the complacent, unaware, mainstream public that this is an important issue
The war resisters themselves - some of the most courageous and wonderful people I've met. They have suffered enough; they deserve to get all this shit behind them, and to live peaceful and happy lives

As was stated more than once in the meeting: we have the law on our side, and we have the facts on our side. (Not to beat a dead horse, but we also have a majority.) The opposition results in repeating the same, tired, shallow arguments. They are beating their fists. Unfortunately, some of them hold the power to effect change. It is up to us to keep up the fight, and keep this in the spotlight. Don't let them get away with injustice. People want the war resisters to stay in Canada.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Harper Rejects Financial Aid for Cities

Remember the above headline? It was also posted under the phrase: "Harper to Cities: 'Drop Dead'". Although Harper may never have used the more colourful phrasing, the point is clear. Billions of tax dollars leave our major cities. Think about the millions of people in Toronto alone, and the tax dollars they generate. Then think about our transit system (the most poorly funded in North America), our crumbling roads and bridges, and reports you hear - that the work done on repairs is only aimed at maintaining them, not replacing aging infrastructure. And we don't have the money to deal with this, a problem that will eventually affect every one if us.

A year ago, a major bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. Remember that? City officials in Toronto were quick to reassure us that our bridges and roads were safe. Why did they need to reassure us? Because we are well aware that our infrastructure is not in good shape. And now, after the listeriosis crisis, I wonder about the state of our regulatory and inspection systems, which Harper is working to dismantle and de-regulate, so that big business can earn its capitalist dollars without the burdensome task of maintaining proper health and safety standards.

Harper has made it clear that he doesn't care. He doesn't care about cities - where the majority of Canadians live. He hates Toronto. And the tax money which he refuses to give up to fix and improve our cities is going to the military - $22 billion to Afghanistan, for no other reason than to make George Bush happy.

If Harper had good business sense, he would invest in our cities. Instead, we are losing ground globally in the tourism business (Toronto's main industry), and that affects service industries, puts more of a strain on social services (or puts more people on the street, which is worse for tourism), decreases consumer confidence and spending, which affects other industries, and leads us into a downward spiral. You'd think politicians who put big business on top of their priorities would understand all this. And this is who the right-wingers want to elect? Go figure.

Interestingly, when I did a Google search to review the "Drop Dead" article, the page that came up had Harper's photo at the top, under a banner ad screaming, "They've Gotta Go!" The ad was for Toyota and refers to clearance of end-of-year models, but it's one of those happy, ironic coincidences that make me smile. Yes, Harper and his Regressive Conservatives have got to go. Now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dangers of Fighting in Afghanistan

My friend at wmtc posted this morning about the "sacrifice medal" which is being awarded to Canadian soldiers who are killed in Afghanistan. In the news is a Regina man who was told his son would not be awarded the medal, because he was accidentally killed by a fellow soldier. Apparently, the medal only goes to soldiers killed or wounded as a direct result of hostile action. Although I don't think our troops are helping the overall situation and should be withdrawn, I do think the majority of our soldiers had good intentions and wanted to honour their country; I think if medals are to be given out, the cause of death should not matter.

But there is a more significant fact to come out of this story: of almost 100 Canadian soldiers who have died, 13 will not be getting the medal. That's 13. Does that figure not bother anyone? Hey, Canadians! If you get deployed to Afghanistan and end up getting killed, the chance of it happening by accident are greater than 10%! "Sorry, buddy. Didn't mean to shoot you. Buddy?"

To hell with "red Fridays", yellow ribbon car magnets, and all of Harper's other propaganda. Afghanistan is worse off than before they were invaded. Occupation forces are not wanted by the Afghanis. Almost 100 Canadians are dead, and our forces hold the dubious distinction of having the highest death rate of the occupying forces.

Support our soldiers; bring them home. Right now.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Democracy Now! Tell Harper to Act on Behalf of the War Resisters!

Once again, the facts:
1) The majority of Canadians want the American Iraq war resisters to be allowed to stay in Canada.
2) A majority in the House of Commons voted to allow the war resisters to stay.
3) Harper himself stated (on April 13, 2005), "The Prime Minister has the moral responsibility to respect the will of the House."
4) Harper and the conservatives have continued to ignore the above facts and have allowed the deportation of one war resister; another is to be deported on September 23.

This Saturday, September 13, there will be protests across Canada to demand action from our fuckwad of a prime minister.

Click here to find out how you can join a protest in your city.

The decision to allow Viet Nam draft dodgers to stay in Canada was only made after public outcry and protest. What are you waiting for? If you are in Toronto, I'll see you at Lake Devo at 1:00 pm.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Persecution of Muslims Continues in Canada...

A week ago, I was trying to plan a trip to Ottawa to celebrate my friend's husband's birthday. Moe turned 40 in August. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend his own party. The authorities would not allow it. Why? Because Mohamed Harkat is a Muslim, and has been accused of being a terrorist.

Never mind that those behind the accusations have never charged Moe with any crime. He spent 43 months in prison under a security certificate, and has only been granted bail on the basis of the most draconian conditions. He must wear a tracking bracelet, and must be accompanied at all times by his wife, Sophie, or her Mother. Visitors must have a criminal record check and be cleared before they can visit Moe. A surveillance system at their house was a prerequisite to his bail. He is not allowed to leave the house unless his outing has been previously cleared by CSIS (and even then he is shadowed by CSIS agents). Moe cannot even use a public washroom without being accompanied.

The entire time Moe was in prison, he received no dental work. As a result, he now needs thousands of dollars of work on his teeth. Because of the bail conditions, neither Moe nor Sophie is able to work. They also have mounting legal bills from the years that this case has dragged on.

What kind of country do we live in, that this is allowed to happen to a person? The government sanctions these injustices by allowing them to pass unchallenged. The concept of innocence until proven guilty has long ago ceased to be a guiding principle of our legal system. If there is sufficient evidence to charge someone with a crime, do so. But let us not sit by with apathy while the innocent are harrassed and treated as animals.

I am sending Moe and Sophie a monetary donation (not my first). This time I hope it can help pay for part of his dental work. If you can contribute, please mail a cheque (payable to "Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee") to:

Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee
c/o 22 Rue Dalpé, Apt. 6
Gatineau   QC     J8Y 2Y5

I will be posting a more detailed report of the security certificate cases soon. It is imperative that Canadians - and the rest of the world - learn the details of this travesty of justice.