Author: Kate

Mary Walsh, Still Not Funny

Jaeger skewers Mary Walsh, and it looks good on her.

Speaking of taxpayer-funded nonsense, what’s one to make of this interview with Mary Walsh? Mary Walsh is the warrior princess of the CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, who regularly subjects conservative politicians to haranguing monologues. Here she is taking a run at Alberta Premier Ralph Klein’s health care reforms:

Well, I already talked to Jean Chretien about it, but what is Ralph Klein up to? What does he want? I think he’s just drinking too much. I think he should just get off the liquor. Personally, Ralph Klein, cuz he really has that kind of, now, this is the fourth time he’s trying to drive through this private health care legislation; nobody wants it, not even the people of Alberta and he’s still doing it. He’s just like one of those drunks. He’s got a bad hangover. I don’t even know if he drinks, but just to me, it appears to me that I’m not making any kind of libelous statements about Mr. Klein and his relationship with a scotch bottle.

Now that’s the kind of classy, cerebral policy analysis we fund the CBC to do. Perhaps you’re not aware that Mary Walsh has a personal interest in health care. She is suffering from macular degeneration, which would have left her blind had she gotten the usual Canadian treatment of being stuck on a waiting list for several months. But instead she’s been rushed off for two urgent eye surgeries – in St. Louis.
She continues to read her leftist harangues off of a teleprompter albeit with large type. That she can see at all is thanks to surgery performed in private American clinics, yet she continues to rant against private health care. All the time funded by Canadian taxpayers, of course.

Another good Canadian blogger. Don’t let the “Trudeau” in “Trudeaupia” scare you off.

Pubic Hair and Ladybugs

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has announced the winners of the 6th Annual Teddy Awards.

Ottawa: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) held its sixth annual Teddies Waste Awards Ceremony to honour the best of the worst in government spending at a black tie news conference today on Parliament Hill. CTF Federal Director, John Williamson, acted as master of ceremonies.

The expected spending scandals are listed, of course. But there are some lesser known gems.

Worst Use of Props — Pizza 9-1-1: The Ontario city of Kawartha Lakes’ fire department has offered to deliver pizzas to residents as part of a fire safety promotion campaign. If Kawartha residents own a working smoke alarm the pizza will be free.

It reportedly didn’t take long before residents realized that there was no limit set on the number of “smoke detector inspections” you could order to your door.

Manitoba Arts Council put up $5,000 to fund Aliza Amihude’s jewelry made with her toenails, pubic hair, mouse droppings and dead ladybugs. We are told one necklace sold for $360. No word yet if the “art” proceeds will be repaid to the Arts Council or dedicated to psychologist bills.

The complete list of award winners can be found at the organization’s website.

Western Alienation, Pt III

A poll result obtained under access to information reveals that the feds really don’t like to have these types of polls made public;
Globe and Mail

Ottawa – The federal government was told Western alienation had reached disturbing levels just after Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol, with almost a quarter of one Prairie province saying it wouldn’t care if they joined the United States

Twenty-three per cent of Saskatchewan residents said they would not be too concerned if their province joined the United States, more than in either Alberta or Quebec, where 19 per cent expressed that view.
The poll may help explain why Prime Minister Paul Martin has made Western concerns a key priority while moving cautiously on the Kyoto file. Although he criticized his predecessor for lacking an implementation plan, Mr. Martin himself has not introduced one.

No suprise there. That’s the price of political expediency. Kyoto sells in the greater metropolitan Toronto area. When east-west interests are in conflict, the west is politically expendible. But things get trickier when energy and resources are on the table.
Unlike Quebec, if the western provinces did choose sovereignty, we exit with the bulk of Canada’s energy resources. Screw with our energy based economy at your peril – Peter Lougheed demonstrated that during the National Energy Program crisis of the early 1980’s.

The sense of belonging to Canada among Westerners has dropped sharply in the past decade, the Ekos study notes.

No shit, Sherlock. And in typical fed fashion, the Liberal government commissioned a poll. As if the the Reform-Alliance near sweep of the west in the past two federal elections weren’t a clue.

Nectar Of The Gods

Another best-kept-secret of Saskatchewan spilled in the media.

A series of Molson USA print and radio ads points out that the zinc in Saskatchewan barley is also common to oysters and truffles, known for their amorous properties.
“Here at Molson, we’re constantly asked if our Saskatchewan barley is an aphrodisiac,” one print ad states. “Those rumors are unfounded,” the ad concludes.

Well, all I can tell you is that I got friends – not naming names, mind you – but I got friends, who went out for a few brewski’s – and you know, woke up naked.
Not saying there’s a connection, mind you, but, I’m just saying is all.

G. Gordon Liddy

The same, from Watergate fame. Interviewed by the incomparable Frank J. of IMAO.

Frank: As everyone knows, men love firearms and attractive women; what gave you the idea to combine the two?
Liddy: When I was a boy, of course, you had girly calendars in every garage, factory, and everything else that you could think of. And, when I was a boy, you could walk right down the Main Street of town – you know, if you were 13-years-old or so – with your firearm on the way out to the woods to shoot squirrels and so forth. Then that became politically incorrect – both of those things became politically incorrect, and I wanted to make a statement against political correctness, so I combined the girly calendar and firearms.
Frank: That’s a nice way to make a statement, but has your calendar ever drawn controversy from people who dislike women or are against the objectification of firearms?


Miriam B�dard is a national Canadian hero in an unlikely sport – she won two Olympic gold medals in the biathlon at the ’94 games. The sport combines cross country skiing with target shooting.
She’s a national hero again today. Her attempts to draw attention to bloated invoices during her employment in the marketing department at Via Rail, resulted in being pushed out of her job. With the Adscam scandal being dragged into the full (partial?) light of day, she put her former boss, Jean Pelletier, in her crosshairs. She wrote to Prime Minister Paul Martin relating what had happened.
Pelletier, a Chretien appointee, had some choice words for her.

“I don’t want to be mean to her, but she is a weak and pitiful girl, a girl who does not have a spouse, as far as I know. She has the pressures of being a single mother who has financial responsibilities. Honestly, I find her pitiful.”

(B�dard is married, and drives a BMW. )
Today, Paul Martin had some choice words for Jean Pelletier.“Clean out your desk”.

Mary Shelley Vs God

There’s a fair bit of indignation in the media and ’round the blogosphere this week about Bush’s replacement of two members of a bioethics council formed to advise him on thorny issues of reproduction and scientific research. Glenn Reynolds weighs in with a Tech Central Station column:

Why, indeed? A ban on this sort of research might condemn millions to unnecessary early death. It’s certainly the sort of thing that ought to be debated in an election year. And that is sure to be. Does Bush want to be portrayed as the minion of religious extremists who’d stifle science even at the cost of lifesaving medical technologies? If he doesn’t, then he’s going about things all wrong.

Only in the western world is succumbing in late middle age to a disease like Parkinsons considered an “early death”. Those lifesaving technologies being developed to treat disease of middle age are extraordinarily expensive. Our health systems are under huge funding pressures for a very simple reason – treatment technologies cost more to develop and deliver than the average health care consumer is actually worth as a taxpayer.
Research that crosses into the realm of human reproductiion and genetics requires careful monitoring and public debate. Bush is being accused of stacking the deck to place people on the panel who are more likely to give him advice he wants to hear. That’s a fair enough criticism, and one I agree with, if true.
But I have noticed something odd about this particular poli-scientific debate. The media spin on this is, as usual, from the secular, liberal “default” position – “Bush is allowing his personal religious beliefs to obstruct important research, undermining American leadership in scientific advancement.”
For the past decade, stunning advances in the field of genetic engineering of food crops have been realized – golden rice, engineered to produce pro-Vitamin A; Roundup Ready canola has allowed farmers to dramatically reduce the number of herbicides required. GMO wheat awaits approval. This excellent article in Atlantic Monthly summarizes the progress and the promise.
Yet, this promise is seriously threatened by fearmongering. Europe and Japan are invoking policies on GMO crops that suggest they are the minions of the environmental churches of Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.
Advances in agscience that can truly save millions from an early death and malnutrition, aid the preservation of environment and do so for pennies a person are being thwarted by European governments, mindful of Green party, environmental and consumer group influence. Proposed GMO labelling requirements and threats to close borders to transgenic crops effectively keeps many from becoming commercial.
Many of the same types who would criticize Bush for including religious opinion on a scientific panel debating the use of fetal cells – are those who refer to transgenic crops as “Frankenfood” .
Biblical scholars have no place in scientific discourse, but Mary Shelley does?
Update: David Bernstein explains my ambivilence about the appointments, and a lot better than I could

Blogging The Oscars

I’ve never blogged a live event before – we’ll see how it goes. I’ll just update this single entry and see what happens. If it begins to suck too much, deleting one entry is easier.
First impressions… red carpet interviews … the countdown clock and photo feature-the-actor inserts remind me of pre-race Kentucky Derby coverage with tighter dresses and dumber athletes.
4:00 to go. . these people get scripts for a reason.
3:20 … it’s a thoroughbred theme night, no question…. Seabiscuit, Depp’s “horse of a different color” comment and that Copolla chick’s teeth.
The orchestra begins… what? no big opening number? Sean Connery had dental work earlier today, by the sounds of things. The Billy Crystal naked thing worked. Not much else. ARGHHHHH!!!! Michael Moore.
Some of these people actually paid a professional to give them my bed hair.
Crystal’s sing-the-movies schtick is getting old.
Supporting actor: Zeta Jones looks great. Tim Robbins wins. More bad hair. Oprah moment about child abuse.
(I bet the Americans are getting cooler ads, just like the Superbowl)
(in the interest of full disclosure: the only movie I’ve seen of all those nominated is LOTR. I’m hoping it wins for the solitary reason that the blonde elf guy is about the sweetest male thing alive on the planet today.)
One down: LOTR Art Direction. I agree with this choice, as a former Art Director.
Heh. Robin Williams still has it. Finding Nemo beats two things I never heard of. (I forgot – I saw Finding Nemo) for Best Fish Story.
Two. LOTR: Costumes. Speaking of which, Renee Zellweger is wearing a big Kleenex.
Supporting actress: Kleenex lady. Now I know why – to have somewhere to blow her nose, poor tearful thing. Did I just hear her thank the Canadian Automobile Association?
Bob Hope Is Finally Dead Retrospective… camera pans to Mickey Rooney. I’m sure he appreciated that.
Some guy is reading off the phone book. I don’t know what he won. Bathroom break time.
eeeeeeyyikes.. what the hell was Liv Tyler thinking? The Addams Family Librarian?
Where was I? (dozed off during the best songs)
Three: LOTR for something else.
Too bad everyone was half asleep for the Blake Edwards wheelchair gag. My God, this is slow.
Four: LOTR for Makeup. Five: LOTR for Sound Mixing. Sandra Bullock for Best Lampshade Dress.
Documentary for Fog Of War. Here comes the speech… millions died in a rabbit hole in Vietnam. Thanks to McNamara. Apparently, this movie kept McNamara out of Iraq, and that’s done some “damn good”.
Everyone, check your Dead Pool entries.
Where were we? Six: LOTR – some music thing? and Seven: LOTR, film ediiting. This can end any time now. *yawn* Eight; LOTR, Best Original Song. (There were songs in LORT?)
Barbarian Invasions gets Foreign Film. Americans look bewildered. Canada is a foreign country? Master and Commander gets a second award, for cinematography. I’m losing track of stupid dress awards. Has an American film won anything yet?
How long have we been here? I’m thinking of chewing my paw off…..
Nine, LOTR, for screenplay. Get that poor bag lady off stage. Susan Sarandan is threatening a Janet moment, if only gravity will assist a little. Sophia Coppola wins for original screenplay.
Ten, Peter Jackson….. LOTR.
Actress. Charlize Theron. (We are reminded that this is an occupation in which 13 year olds can be considered for the industry’s highest achievment awards. Which means that it’s almost as hard as passing a driver’s test.) Two wins in a row for an African-American woman.
OscarTrivia Question: Which of this year’s nominated movies had no actors?
Sean Penn gets best actor. And a standing ovation? Johnny Depp is sniffling behind his bangs.
Lord Of The Rings makes it a “clean sweep”. Now, somebody get Jackson a comb.

Deconstructing Nanny

I’ve belonged to a fair number of email groups over my years on the net. My current list is a fairly typical snapshot of what lands in my email inbox, and are devoted to the following interests:

Gnu Image Manipulation Program
Canine Genetics
Mark Helprin (novelist) l
Honda CBR motorcycle owners
Yamaha RD (vintage) motorcycles
All-breed Canadian Dog Shows
Local All-breed Kennel Club
Bernese Mountain Dogs
Miniature Schnauzer club list
Miniature Schnauzer private list
Mensa Political forum
posting frequency
almost never
almost never
on occassion
almost never
on occassion
on occassion

The atmosphere on these lists ranges from the dry and highly technical, to the completely unmoderated where the highlights include inspired forays of insult exchange, featuring four-letter-word derivatives that would embarrass a longshoreman.
Why mention this? Because on a great many of these lists, there exists a small subset of self-appointed netiquette nannies. And because there are others who do not subscribe to their personal code of conduct for online discusson, they conclude that we must be unaware of what we are doing. The solution? Enlightenment.
Here, is a sample of one such pronouncement that recently graced my inbox, recieved second hand. In my own little world, these essayists are nearly exclusively the domain of dog club lists. Dog clubs are a bit unlike other lists, in that a great number of members are likely to be “real life” friends, enemies, competitors – or a schizophrenic combination of all three. Thus, debate has more than a passing electronic existance.

Continue reading

UN Oil For Palaces Program

Roger Simon has been on the UN Oil-For-Food scandal for weeks, and finally, the New York Times has broken the story in a big way.

Perhaps the best measure of the corruption comes from a review of the $8.7 billion in outstanding oil-for-food contracts by the provisional Iraqi government with United Nations help. It found that 70 percent of the suppliers had inflated their prices and agreed to pay a 10 percent kickback, in cash or by transfer to accounts in Jordanian, Lebanese and Syrian banks.
At that rate, Iraq would have collected as much as $2.3 billion of the $32.6 billion worth of contracts it signed since mid- 2000, when the kickback system began. And some companies were willing to pay even more than the standard 10 percent, according to Trade and Oil Ministry employees.
Iraq’s suppliers included Russian factories, Arab trade brokers, European manufacturers and state-owned companies from China and the Middle East. Iraq generally refused to buy directly from American companies, which in any case needed special licenses to trade legally with Iraq.

No war, For Oil.

In the high-flying days after Iraq was allowed to sell its oil after 10 years of United Nations sanctions, the lobby of the Rashid Hotel in Baghdad was the place to be to get a piece of the action.
That was where the oil traders would gather whenever a journalist, actor or political figure would arrive in Iraq and openly praise Mr. Hussein. Experience taught them that the visitor usually returned to the hotel with a gift voucher, courtesy of the Iraqi president or one of his aides, representing the right to buy one million barrels or more of Iraqi crude.
The vouchers had considerable value. With the major oil companies monopolizing most Persian Gulf oil, there was fierce competition among smaller traders for the chance to buy Iraqi oil. And as long as Iraq kept its oil prices low enough, traders could make a tidy profit, even after buying the voucher and paying the surcharge

Scott Ott called ’em as he saw em…

Other Iraqi officials said the ministries were forced to order goods from companies and countries according to political expediency instead of quality.
“There would be an order that out of $2 billion for the Trade Ministry and Health Ministry, $1 million would have be given to Russian companies and $500 million to Egyptians,” said Nidhal R. Mardood, a 30-year veteran employee of the Iraqi Ministry of Trade, where he is now the director-general for finance.
“It depended on what was going on in New York at the U.N. and which country was on the Security Council,” he added. “They apportioned the amounts according to politics.”
One result, for Iraqis, was a mishmash of equipment: fire trucks from Russia, earth- moving machines from Jordan, station wagons from India, trucks from Belarus and garbage trucks from China.

The Chretien government’s steadfast support of the United Nations makes one wonder if the federal Liberals weren’t handing out advertising contracts in Iraq.
More links, including one to the NYT article, at Outsidethebeltway

From A Yeeeaarrh To A Whimper

Washington Post has a piece on the former Democratic frontrunner Howard Dean that is certain to deflate the idealism of the “grassroots” behind his campaign. It seems that when he urged his supporters to help him “take back your country”, he wasn’t quite sure he wanted it all that much.

The feuding and backbiting that plagued the Howard Dean campaign had turned utterly poisonous. Behind the facade of a successful political operation, senior officials plotted against each other, complained about the candidate and developed one searing doubt.
Dean, they concluded, did not really want to be president.
In different conversations and in different ways, according to several people who worked with him, Dean said at the peak of his popularity late last year that he never expected to rise so high, that he didn’t like the intense scrutiny, that he had just wanted to make a difference. “I don’t care about being president,” he said. Months earlier, as his candidacy was taking off, he told a colleague: “The problem is, I’m now afraid I might win.”

A lot of people were afraid you might win, Howard Dean. They had the right instincts, and to your credit, so did you.
The WaPo piece tells a story of a campaign of internal distrust. For example, The Al Gore endorsement was kept secret from Dean’s campaign manager, Joe Trippi.

It was, instead, a dysfunctional political family, filled with tales of blocking access to the candidate, neutralizing internal rivals, trying to penalize reporters deemed unfriendly. And some of its members just plain despised each other.

I wonder what the chick who sold her bike to give the money to your campaign is thinking right now – and how many disillusioned young “Deaniacs” may turn their backs on politics altogether. That would be the greater shame.

Mutant Ninja Turtles No More

Somebody, pinch me.
Former conjoined tortoises go separate ways at home

The former conjoined tortoises — who drew worldwide media attention when they were separated in a delicate three-hour operation February 8 — returned home to Tucson, Arizona, this week showing signs of relishing their separate lives, owners Sharon and Bobby Ehasz said.

They didn’t. Tell me they didn’t do this.

Ehasz said his wife worries that bills will keep piling up to care for the 4-inch turtles, whose scars are covered in gauze hardened with epoxy. Already, the couple said they used part of their tax refund check to pay roughly $300 in anesthesia bills. That’s in addition to $700 they shelled out to buy the 3-year-old reptiles in December.
More hospital stays and surgeries also may be needed to correct a curvature in the turtles’ bottom shell, which keeps them from walking properly.

Let’s see if I’m following this so far. They took the world’s only known uber-mutant turtles, worth $700 US and invested a further $300 to turn them into 2 lumps of worthless algae growth medium, one of which could yet depart its mortal coil.

“It’s all worked out the way it should have so far,” Ehasz said, thanking a handful of donors who helped pay for medicines and a new plexiglass-enclosed home he’s building for the pets. “It’s our responsibility to keep taking care of them.”

No Ehasz, had it worked out the way it should have, there would be a flock of happy seagulls preening turtle guts off their feathers.
At this point, there are some commentators who might exclaim “Only in America!”
Uh, no.
Only in Some Whirling Alternate Universe of Rock Hard Stupid.

Wan Chop Dong

In a reversal of fortune…

Beijing – A Chinese transsexual has been barred from competing in the 2004 Miss Universe competition because she was born a man, organisers said on Friday.
Chen Lili, a 24-year-old fashion model from China’s south-western Sichuan province, would have been the first transgender woman to vie for the title.
“The sex of the candidates should be female at birth and cannot be artificially changed,” Miss Universe selection committee chairperson Zhang Ruiling told reporters.

So there. Find your own sandbox. You don’t get to play our games until you’ve had PMS, buddy.

A Strong Message

Japan cult leader sentencing

Shoko Asahara, leader of the Japanese cult that released sarin nerve gas on the Tokyo subway in 1995, was sentenced to hang for multiple charges of murder today.

It has taken 8 years to get to a verdict and sentencing, Asahara can count on another 16 years before his appointment with the rope.
That’ll teach these terrorist folks a few thing or two about the consequences of using WMD’s !

Oh, That Conservative Hating Media

Tonight’s top stories on CTV National News:

9. Rosie O’Donnell marriage
8. Howard Stern / Clear Channel story
7. Canadian boy scout leader caught with kiddie porn
6. Man arrested for killing air traffic controller in Europe
5. Blair spy story [ed – Claire Short’s allegations reported as fact]
4. Crisis In Haiti
3. �U.S. judge blocks Conrad Black’s newspaper sale
2. Fraud and illegal trading at CIBC, Canada’s second largest bank.
And… Canada’s number one news story for Feb.26, 2004?
A month old misdirected letter.
1. Stephen Harper, a candidate for the the bigotted, stupid, redneck, rightwing Reform Conservative Party leadership, issued an apology for an error in which a letter intended for the Canadian Indian community was sent to an (Aboriginal) Indian Friendship Center.

Read the item. They certainly don’t waste an opportunity to pile on, do they?

Sgt. Stryker

Maybe, we could get it right on this try, but if we did (and I say we did) it wasn’t with the help of people like Jane Fonda, and John Kerry. It wasn’t enough to slime people like Charlie and other veterans with accusations of wall to wall atrocities, it wasn’t enough to render further assistance to South Vietnam politically untouchable after 1972, when it came to taking responsibility for the people whom their actions drove into the refugee camps (or the re-education camps, or the killing fields), they were nowhere to be seen. They had moved on, leaving other people to sort out the wreckage and the misery. People, you can make bad decisions— god knows, I’ve made a few— but the people I respect take responsibility when the bad decision has bad consequences.

Go read it all.
via Instapundit