Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What I like to hear!

The NDP are taking my advice. (Ok, it's improbable that Jack Layton has has dismissed his consultants and is perusing this site for his election strategy, but how do you know he isn't?)

On to the awesomeness:



And in French, it's double the awesomeness:



Polished, unapologetic, knows who its audience is (and more importantly, is not), and strongly suggests that Stephen Harper Hates Canada (TM).

If only they'd start saying it all in English.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Shorter David Warren

Article: Bailout Blues

The current US Financial crisis is happening because black people were encouraged by the government to own homes.

It's thanks to Conrad Black and the Aspers that this tripe is published in Canada. Excellent 3-line rebuttal here.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Settling for crocodile tears

These are the last ten days of Ramadan, and are given special importance by Muslims. The significance of the month is thought of in many ways: it is "the month of the Qur'an," it is a time when Satan is chained and the Muslims must only contend with themselves, it is a time to pull back from the material and devote oneself to the spiritual, and a time to suppress all of the bad habits and attitudes that creep into our hearts during the rest of the year.

The ritual of fasting is likewise construed in many ways, just one of which is an act of solidarity with those who are impoverished. By making ourselves unable to eat or drink, the reasoning goes, we gain an understanding of what it means to be physically deprived, and develop sympathy for those who have no choice but to be.

Reading this piece from Al-Jazeera English today, I was reminded of the huge gap between the symbolism of Ramadan for Muslims the world over, and the action that is needed from them.

Said a Daoud Hari, a refugee from Darfur:

I think that [US President George] Bush has done a really good job with Darfur.

Before Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, and Gordon Brown, the new prime minister in the UK came in, he was acting alone.

No world leaders talked about the genocide or the crisis in Darfur.

Now Bush is leaving office and we want the next president to do more to help Darfur.

Both [Barack] Obama and [John] McCain have to take action and end any negotiations with the government of Sudan.

The next president of the United States has to make this the most important issue for them, as this the most serious humanitarian crisis on the planet.

They could use sanctions, but they also have to take action to pressure China not to support dicatatorships in Africa and to help stop the genocide there."

Does he realize that Bush has no actual interest in Darfur? Does he realize that for all parties in the Western world, Darfur is little more than a matter of political convenience? For the Republicans, talking about it is a way to shore up their claim that they are interested in humanitarianism, a convenient cover for their opposite behaviour in the rest of the world. For "liberals", it's a way of proving the opposite; "if they were so interested in democracy and human rights," the Dems say, "They would have done something about Darfur." For the Zionist lobby, it's a way to deflect criticism of Israel, "why the fuss over a few thousand Palestinians when millions are being killed in Sudan!" they protest.

Maybe he does realize that. The problem is, though, that the people whose first responsibility it would be to help his people have failed to do so, starting with their awkward defense of Omar El-Bashir. Neither Africans, nor Arabs, nor Muslims, writ large, have done anything about that monster despite the havoc he has caused in order to enrich his regime. Their own failure to confront the problems close to home is part of their failure to resist the challenges from outside.

A local imam near where I live always includes Darfur in his supplications after a sermon. It's a start, but it's hardly enough. Until the Muslims act sincerely for Darfur, the people there will have to settle for crocodile tears.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shorter Robert Sibley

Article: Recalling another 9/11 Attack

George Bush's glorious "Coalition of the Willing" in Iraq is just like the European army that triumphed over the Ottoman hordes at Vienna in 1683, which is really the main reason why Muslims are angry at the West today.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Tariq Ramadan flattens Philippe de Villiers

Here's an entertaining exchange between Muslim academic Tariq Ramadan and conservative French politician Philippe de Villiers, on the French current events show Ripostes.



de Villiers believes that France's Muslim minority represents a threat to the Republic, and does not consider them to be truly "French." He goes from condescending and disingenuous to desperate and scatterbrained, ending the debate by grasping at ad hominem attacks against Ramadan.

De Villiers' arguments are prototypical of the "The Mozlems are Coming!" hysteria that seems to have gripped the much of the internet and the Western world, relying on isolated anecdotes, confusing Islam with the behaviour of certain Muslims, and holding them to a moral standard which he refuses to apply to anyone else - himself included.

It's in French, so if you don't understand the language, you should learn.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

I know that it's bad
That's it's the kind that they can't operate on
And I know, it's real slow, honey
Painful, and real slow.

Styrofoam coffee cups
And bad drugs that never work enough
And I know, it's real slow, honey
Painful, and real slow.

I get it all the time
Bright eyes, to bat and hide behind
But I know they're just for show, honey
Painful and just for show

Black rooms, to babysit,
White halls, to pace and wait for it
But I know it's too slow, honey
Painful and too slow

- Matthew Good, "99% of Us is Failure."

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How to beat the Konservatives: "Why Stephen Harper Hates Canada"

I'm fairly certain that nobody advising St├ęphane Dion, Jack Layton, or Elizabeth May reads this blog. That said, if they were, here is what I would tell them.

1. Wrap yourselves in the flag, and question Harper's patriotism.

2. Support a vision of Canada as a bilingual, multicultural society, and force the Conservatives to prove that they support it too.

3. Recycle Harper's academic and lobbying past, and remind everybody what and whom he worked for. Run pictures of him whining to the US Congress about how awful Canada is.

4. Don the mantle of Tommy Douglas, and bring back the religious left.

5. Don't bother trying to prove that you "Support the Troops." Prove to everyone that the Conservatives really don't.


Finally a little bit of individualized advice for a) Dion:

You aren't Sarah Palin. You aren't even Jean Chr├ętien. You are a more like a mild-mannered version of Pierre Trudeau. Don't apologize for that, and don't force yourself to pretend otherwise.

and b) Layton:

Yours is not the party of big money. Bay Street hates you above all. Most people, however, have a legitimate reason to hate Bay street. Exploit that.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Apartheid Yet? How about a Crusade?

The human rights monitoring centre B'Tselem released a report this week about continuing seizure of Palestinian land by colonists in the West Bank, entitled "Access Denied."

Settlers pave patrol roads and place physical obstructions on Palestinian lands adjacent to settlements, at times with the authorities’ approval, at others not. Settlers also forcibly remove Palestinians, primarily farmers, from their lands. B'Tselem has documented cases of gunfire, threats of gunfire and killing, beatings, stone throwing, use of attack dogs, attempts to run over Palestinians, destruction of farming equipment and crops, theft of crops, killing and theft of livestock and animals used in farming, unauthorized demands to see identification cards, and theft of documents.
As usual, the IDF and zionists everywhere try to pass off the seizure of thousands of acres of Palestinian agricultural land by the colonizing power as a "security measure." B'Tselem addresses those absurd excuses:
Indeed, in 2002-2004, Palestinians killed 31 Israeli citizens and injured many others inside settlements in the West Bank. But Israel allows settlers to enter freely, without supervision, the land, which ostensibly was meant to serve as a warning area free of people, but is, in effect, closed only to Palestinians. As a result, settlers move about on the Palestinian land regularly, steal their crops, and even live on and work the land. This practice breaches both the logic of a “warning zone” and the military orders closing the area.
Yet, in what is the most misconstrued conflict in the world, "serious" people in politics and journalism, who will leap to any opportunity to toast Nelson Mandela, are timid when it comes to calling a spade a spade, and labelling such a situation as being only marginally different from apartheid in South Africa or Zimbabwe.

Instead, the victim is serially blamed. Who is responsible for starting the conflict? The Arabs, of course, for failing to accept a UN vote that divided Palestine into two fragmented states, solely for the benefit of a largely European immigrant minority. Who is responsible for continuing the conflict? The Arabs, of course, even though every agreement struck between Palestinians and Zionists has been marked by faster and faster rates of eviction and confiscation. As a Dawn editorial notes, the Annapolis agreement has been no different:
. . .the area under the settlements is now 40 per cent of the West Bank, even though in 1948, when the UN partition plan was adopted, the European settlers possessed only six per cent of Palestine’s land. . . All peace plans have fizzled out because Tel Aviv never had any intention of quitting even an inch of Palestinian land. In November last, Israel signed the Annapolis document, which pledged it and the US to a two-state solution by the end of this year. However, within a week of the signing, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared that his government was not bound by the Annapolis timetable.
Finally, who is waging a religiously motivated war for global domination? As the North American narrative has it, the Muslims are, even though one has to reach back centuries to the expansionistic era of the Ottoman empire to find an example where Muslims tried to impose a Muslim regime upon a non-Muslim country.

There is, however, a reason why Zionism has been rammed down the Palestinians' throats so enthusiastically by Western nations, and there is nothing secular about it.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Character

"Thoughts become intentions. Intentions become actions. Actions become habits. Your habits define your character. Good thoughts lead to good character."

- A wise friend.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Shorter Daniel Pipes

Article:
The West's Islamist Infiltrators

Over the past 6 years, several Muslims have been accused of supporting terrorists, or fired from jobs in the US where they might have posed a threat, which just proves the need for us to be suspicious of every Muslim.

(What is a shorter?)

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mike Huckabee at the RNC: The Viet Cong stole your desks

Please do not judge your American friends by what you see on TV. Really, not all of them are imbeciles.

-----
Transcript:

"...And with that, she went to the door of her classroom and motioned, and in walked over 20 veterans, some of them still wearing the uniforms from days gone by, every one of them carrying a school desk. And as they carefully and quietly arranged those desks in neat rows, Martha said, "You don't have to earn your desk, because these guys, they already did."

(APPLAUSE)

These -- these brave veterans had gone halfway around the world, giving up their education, interrupting their careers and families so that we could have the freedom that we have. Martha told them, "No one charged you for your desk, but it wasn't really free. These guys bought it for you. And I hope you never, ever forget it."

And I wish, ladies and gentlemen...

(APPLAUSE)

I wish we would all remember that being American is not just about the freedom we have; it is about those who gave it to us.

(APPLAUSE)

And let me remind you of something. John McCain is one of those people who helped buy the freedom and the school desk that we had. John McCain helped me have a school desk.

And I want to tell you: I pledge myself to doing everything I can to help him earn a desk, and I'm thinking the one that's in the Oval Office would fit him very, very well..."



-----

In a nutshell, American prosperity is guaranteed by the use of aggressive military force against 3rd-world nations.

This is what Huckabee, along with the great white horde, were essentially celebrating: how else to explain the link between John McCain's service in Vietnam and the school desks in an Arkansas classroom. Were the VC stealing school desks from American schoolchildren? Was there a Vietnamese armada striking out for Americas shores (NB: fleeing refugees do not count)?

"We had to destroy the town to save it, and to get our desks back."

It may be an unwitting admission - but the fact that the crowd cheered so enthusiastically tells you something about the way many Americans view brutal military aggression - not even as a necessary evil, but as the guarantor of their way of life, and something to cheer about.

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Bravo London!

Not, that is, the real London, but the pretend one in southwestern Ontario.

The city has voted to stop the sale of bottled water in public buildings where water fountains are available.

As I have written before, and lectured to friends, colleagues, and astonished strangers, bottled water is the enemy of humankind.

Yes, there's nothing like the pure, fresh taste of the City of Guelph

There is nothing quite so emblematic of the frivolity of consumers, the destructive power of marketing, and the greed of industry than bottled water, a tremendously profitable product that has successfully created a huge, lucrative market for something that is already available for free.

Where public enterprise has created an efficient, affordable, and safe method of distributing a product that is essential for life, private enterprise is trying to supplant it with an inefficient, polluting, and overpriced alternative that exploits and depletes natural resources.

As for the beverage industry's argument, that bottled water is a healthy alternative to sweetened soft drinks, we should take heed, and ensure that cheap, clean, cold city water is ubiquitously available, rather than being supplanted by arrays of vending machines in public buildings.

Or is that not what they meant?

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Monday, September 1, 2008

The Story of Polio in Pakistan

Or. . . "What Happens to Muslim Societies in the Absence of Disciplined Islamic Scholarship."

From Dawn: Sindh, Northern Areas and FATA described as polio nurseries
From The Guardian (Feb 2007): Polio cases jump in Pakistan as clerics declare vaccination an American plot
From IslamOnline (Feb 2007): Pakistani fatwa boosts polio vaccination

Not that I'm a fan of Pakistan's MMA party, but unfortunately, no one else was available to be the adult in the room, and in the absence of even questionably qualified authorities, people look to whatever self-appointed preacher happens to be around.

The good news, however, is that if the four remaining affected countries (Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Nigeria) keep making progress, most of you reading this will live to polio go the way of smallpox before it.

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1st Ramadan, 1429

Its here!

Ramadan mubarak to all the Muslims out there.

And to my non-Muslim readers: feel free to eat and drink in front of your Muslim friends and colleagues. Fasting is not famine; that would defeat the purpose.

And for those who know me personally - if there is some verbal abuse you've been waiting to heap upon me, now is probably a good time for you :)

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