Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Always Thought Christie Blatchford Was an Idiot

(I changed the title, so that it says "Idiot" instead of my first choice "Moron" because that's what I call Blatchford's sister in stupidity, Rosie DiManno.)

I haven't read you for years and years and years Christie. You used to appear in the Toronto Sun, writing brain-dead criticisms of left-wing politicians and causes and nauseating praises for right-wing politicians, for cops, for the military, and on and on. I just didn't have much time for your ugly, unoriginal musings. I was aware that you somehow moved to the Globe & Mail, but by that point my reading of that newspaper had fallen off as I got angry at paying good money only to see at least half the editorial page taken up by Marcus Gee, Margaret Wente, and Jeffrey Simpson. So, now you're at the Globe. Whatever.

You're still the same dull plodder you always were. Yeah, "the troops" are doing an awesome job. Anyone who criticizes "the Mission" (tm.) is a traitor who hates "the troops." Only the troops are fighting, killing and dying, all to prop-up an unpopular, corrupt, brutal, criminal government. While you've been standing around with your fingers in your ears shouting:


... the plain fact of the matter is that we've been losing. Let me repeat that for emphasis: We're LOSING. Canadian soldiers used to roam around the province of Kandahar. Now we're reduced to guarding the entrance-ways to Kandahar City.

The outgoing NATO commander for southern Afghanistan told The Associated Press that troops need to secure the exits and entrances to Kandahar city itself if the provincial capital is to be protected from infiltration and an eventual Taliban takeover.

"Will Kandahar fall? Every two or three weeks people tell me Kandahar will fall. I think the way forward is to secure the approaches to Kandahar city," said Dutch Maj. Gen. Marc C. De Kruif.

But the strength of the insurgents is only part of the problem. The other part is the local people's
mistrust of the U.S. and the Afghan government with which it is partnered. Without trust, the residents cannot be counted on to tip off authorities to the militants' presence.

Why are we LOSING? Even though you continue to stop up your ears and yell insults and inanities, I'm going to tell you Christie. It's the same reason why I was opposed to this war all along. Because bush II, Chretien, Martin, and now harper and Obama, simply don't care about the people of Afghanistan. This is a cynical imperialist game for the US-Americans and an opportunity for Canadian prime ministers to practice their spit-shining on those presidents' shoes. As such, neither we nor the US-Americans will do much for the Afghans outside of some token development projects that make for good public relations.

I like this title, so I'm gonna post it up now and finish it whenever. But the main point is my expanding upon this critique of Blatchford here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Online Petition For Public Inquiry Into Torture

Pursuant to the goal of bringing accountability and the rule of law to Canada, and starting the process of getting the harpercons into the prison cells they're inevitably going to be thrown into, Alison at Creekside has a link to an online petition for a public inquiry into torture.

Please sign it and send it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

If Parliament Can't Do It, WE WILL

This prisoner torture in Afghanistan isn't the most important issue before us as a nation. It's damned serious, but I'd say Canada's ancient policy of cultural genocide against the First Nations is the biggest issue. But on this issue the harpercons have clearly crossed the line and violated international law. This whole Afghanistan "mission" is an abomination, and the depravity of Afghanistan's prison system is symptomatic of that. If we can STOP the harpercons on Afghanistan with this investigation that in itself makes it worthwhile that we hammer away on it.

There are no two-ways about it. Colvin's memos were enough of a reason for Canadian officials to have conducted a serious investigation into what we were doing. Record-keeping continued to be deliberately lackadaisical and prison transfers continued into 2007. When you hear that you might be complicit in war crimes, you DON'T allow the war crimes to continue while you craft a new policy. You STOP what you're doing.

But by committing war crimes, these detestable murderers and scum bags have placed themselves in a position whereby they will serve serious prison time. We can put these lying, stupid, anti-democratic, corporate-shilling, war-mongers AWAY. We can BREAK this political bowel movement and we can set a priceless precedent for other future prime ministers who might feel compelled to sign-on to another US imperialist project.

And if the Special Committee on Afghanistan can't do it. If they can't get the government to turn over the memos that clearly establishes their guilt, then it is up to us to ask the International Criminal Court to do the job. And we will hound these evil buffoons until their dying day for disgracing this country. And we will change the political culture in this country so that the twisted freaks defending torture on discussion boards, radio call-in shows, letters to the editor, and etc., are too ashamed to reveal their putrescence, or at least too frightened of the social consequences of cheerleading the rape of innocent bystanders in the prison hell-holes of a dictatorship.

The culture of impunity that the bush II regime enjoyed has borned extremely bitter fruit. It must not flower to such an extent here in Canada.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rick Hillier and Second-Hand Information ...

Private Mann:"General Hillier, 'Amnesty International' has a scathing report about Afghan prison conditions."

Hillier: "Those detestable peacenicks and bleeding-hearts! Why should I care about such second-hand information!!"

Private Mann: "The PMO just called. Prime Minister Harper wants us confined to our bases until the election's over. Soldier deaths hurt him in the polls."

Hillier: "What's that?? Listen private, until I hear those words from Harper, from his own lips whispered into my pretty little ears, it's business as usual! I can't run this mission based on second-hand accounts of what the government wants!"

Private Mann: "Errr, yessir, general sir. Forward Base No. 12 reports an increased Taliban presence in their area. They're calling for helicopters and reinforcements. They believe an attack is imminent!"

Hillier: "Did you actually get that from them, or might'n't it have been THE TALIBAN trying to get me to move troops around according to where they're least likely to strike?!?!? How do you know that one of those detestable ragheads doesn't know English and can pose as a Canadian soldier over the phone? I'll need a first-hand request, via webcam at the very least before anything is done!!"

Private Mann: "Yessir. You're insane sir."

Am I missing something? Is Colvin saying that he sent warnings of prisoner abuse in 2006 and Hillier is saying that he didn't? Is it as simple as that? That the harpercons are refusing to release Colvin's reports and simply trying to say that Colvin doesn't know what he, himself wrote in them? Is the government (and the detestable Hillier) basically counting on their not having to release Colvin's reports to protect themselves?

Let this be a test of the legislative branch vs. the executive branch then. EVERY SINGLE OFFICIAL who obeys harper and refuses to give the committee its requested evidence should be jailed for being in contempt of Parliament. Empty out the Justice Department, the PCO, if need be. Every power that parliament has should be used to the limit to get to the bottom of this!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Building On What Pogge Said:

I'm sure the Conservatives would love to see this whole issue of torture turn into a partisan free-for-all that the general public will then tune out as being simply more of the same nonsense that they've come to expect from the overgrown children in Ottawa. You're now helping them and making it appear as though the NDP is only too happy to use human rights as a partisan issue.

I commented that I understood what Layton was trying to do, but that I agreed with pogge that it might not be good optics to make this entirely partisan.

If I ever remember not to drink some spare forty bucks, I'll rejoin the NDP.

That said, I think you've got a good point there pogge. I'm not sure that I agree with you 100% but i'm not sure that I 100% agree with Layton trying to position the NDP as the party with the least baggage on this defining issue.

So I would have kept my mouth shut about Ignatieff and kept the focus on harper if i were Layton.

I'm now of the opinion that it would be tactically best if Layton and the NDP would refrain from attacking the Libs where they're weak until they've managed to bring down stephen harper and his "conservative" idiots and assorted scum-bags.

The opposition should form a united front of outrage and focused vengeance upon the harpercons. The Liberals can do a great job mustering soaring heights of moral rhetoric against the evil that the harpercons have done, and THEN, when Canadians have been instructed on the enormity of these crimes, the NDP can turn on the Liberals. If they have to they should allow the Liberals to restrict the timeline of any investigation to exclude their own culpability. In whatever follows, the rhetoric of the Liberals can be turned against them on the campaign trail.

Why am I talking about such a clear-cut moral issue along lines of partisan opportunism? Because I believe it is a moral imperative to destroy both of these mainstream parties. Both these parties dragged Canada into this mess and down into the muck. The harpercons have proven themselves absolutely evil on so many fronts (Aboriginals, Muslim-Canadians, Global Warming, poverty, the tar-sands) and the Liberals debased us in Haiti, and most of 'em would have dragged us into Iraq, and, finally, Igantieff thinks the tar-sands project is awesome. The NDP is an uncertain instrument, but they're a step in the right direction away from all of that evil and insanity. If the NDP can only help destroy one of these parties (the worst one, the most right-wing one) then that is a worthy goal.

But I believe that destroying the harpercons requires Liberal help. A united opposition against a minority government, in the face of pretty obvious committment of war-crimes by said government, can and must bring the guilty individuals to justice. harper is scared, but he might not be as scared as he should be, as he deserves to be. Because he was at the head of a government that committed war-crimes and that must mean a prison sentence.

That's what this means. That's what this HAS to mean. We have signed-on to a horrible project. We are imposing a brutal, corrupt, puppet-government on a desperately poor people. We are bombing villages from the skies because some insurgents might be sheltering among them, killing dozens of innocent civilians at a time. Because of a lack of competent translators we are handing over innocent bystanders to be raped and tortued in Karzai's prisons. We are shitting all over the values that we are supposed to represent.

Every single defender of this atrocity, every single politician who is responsible for this nightmare, ALL OF THEM must accept their responsibility with humilty and penitence. And it is long past time that we should suffer their continued ravings.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Is stephen harper a Snivelling Coward?

Where was he while the intellectually unequipped Peter MacKay was casting apsersions at Richard Colvin's "third-hand information" from people MacKay knows are bad because he's read "third-hand information" about them?

There he was. Taking a cheap photo-op with the National Men's Lacrosse Team. As the Globe and Mail titled it: "Lacrosse Trumps Torture." What a fucking putz.

stephen found out in the days before the Governor-General stupidly granted him a prorogation that he's really not all that much of a tough-guy after all. He was so terrified of losing power, and so stressed out from the harsh words from his enraged caucus that he almost started tearing up while giving one of his stream-of-platitude speeches about the deaths of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. (Usually he's able to drone his way through those events without incident, but that time he actually felt some emotion. Too bad it was all about him.)

So here, once again, we have damning evidence of stephen harper's leadership deficiencies. The man is a gutless, spineless, amoral control freak.

We also have evidence that harper and his thugs directly threatened the entire military and diplomatic staff in Afghanistan if they spoke out against torture. Only the number two man felt strong enough to resist this pressure and they've attacked him in numerous ways since then, up to not paying his legal bills.

On July 28, the federal justice department wrote to 28 high-ranking government and military officials with knowledge of the Afghan detainee file, warning that their testimony could damage their reputations and potentially put their colleagues' careers at risk.

The letter "strongly" recommended they all retain the justice department as their legal counsel.

Not surprisingly, most heeded the pointed advice -- after all, it was coming from their employer. In fact, only one person retained his own counsel and agreed to co-operate with the commission.

That was diplomatic whistleblower Richard Colvin, formerly acting ambassador in Afghanistan, and now deputy chief of intelligence at the Canadian embassy in Washington.

But the Globe and Mail and numerous other organizations have uncovered details about how widespread torture, rape and murder are in Afghanistan at the hands of the security forces we're funding, training and arming. Torture happened, and harper and his crew knew or SHOULD HAVE KNOWN, and the fact that they did nothing about it, means that they are going to go to jail.

There was one problem when senior ministers and officials of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government said they were unaware of reports that prisoners were being tortured in Afghan jails, including prisoners handed over to Afghan authorities by Canadian soldiers.

Both international and Canadian law require officials in a position of "superior responsibility" to know or try to find out what is happening if they are told or suspect that a war crime or crime against humanity is being committed or about to be committed.

People who were there and who know stuff should look at that craven coward staring like a moron at that lacrosse shirt and they should realize that career-wise, he's a dead man walking. There will be no repurcussions for speaking out. The harpercons are finished.

And it's a good thing to destroy this party. True, they represent a large proportion of Canadians. Canadians of diminished mental capacity who have a right to their opinions, and their vote, but who, for the good of the country, should be kept far from the levers of power. Our bankrupt electoral system has put this power into their hands and we see the sickening results.

[You know, when all is said and done, the government put a lot of work on the subject of prisoner transfers. It's just that none of it was about upholding our legal obligations to respect human rights.]

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Peter MacKay: Imperialist Stooge for a Rapist Government

Here's the ever-moronic Peter MacKay:

Under fire from all parties, MacKay dismissed testimony from Richard Colvin as second- and third-hand information from enemy sources.

“What we’re talking about here is not only hearsay, we’re talking about basing much of his evidence on what the Taliban have been specifically instructed to lie about if captured,” he said.

And further:

His statements – if I could finish, his statements that he made yesterday do not stand up to scrutiny. When pressed on the important issues of what was the source of his information, all he could tell us – and he was asked a number of times and given opportunities to clarify – all he could tell us was it came from second, sometimes thirdhand information. It came from reports that he had read. It came from a Taliban himself who, I note were not even Taliban that he could say were transferred from Canadian prisoners – or from Canadian Forces. So what we’re talking about here is not only hearsay, we’re talking about basing much of his evidence on what the Taliban have been specifically instructed to lie about if captured.

And once more for good measure:

MacKay painted Colvin as having been duped by the Taliban and said Canadians are being asked to accept the word of prisoners "who throw acid in the face of schoolgirls." MacKay also said he did not know about Colvin's allegations.

So he's a Taliban-dupe? Or worse?

Don't forget now; Canada is one of the richest countries in the world. It's a direct heir to the British Parliamentary System, the oldest democratic parliament in the world. And this plodding piece of shit is a front-rank cabinet minister in our government!

Using his own logic, we could take MacKay's account of the Taliban throwing acid in the faces of Afghan schoolgirls is also a third-hand account. If one wanted to be just as idiotic as MacKay and "Canada's Shittiest Government" we could ask MacKay if he saw those schoolgirls getting attacked. Did he speak to them afterwards? We could go on and on like that until we decided that the whole thing was made up by the Western media, which has been complicit in aiding and abetting an imperialist project to set up a puppet government in Afghanistan. This puppet government is so corrupt, brutal and unpopular that they need to make up atrocity stories to demonize the insurgency and justified a continued Western military presence.

If I were cut from the same filthy cloth that MacKay was torn from, that sort of blanket denial would be my method of operations. But I'm not. I believe there are some nasty, monstrous characters on the insurgents' side. But that there are some equally vile monsters on our side. (Including, it appears, members of our own government.)

The harpercons have deliberately refused to investigate any of the allegations of torture, child-rape, corruption, etc., against the Karzai/warlord regime. It appears they have steadfastly refused to be accountable for any of our prisoners in Afghanistan. If there's no paper-trail, there's no proof of any crime. And then they get to crow about how nothing is proven.

But too much has happened. There will be a public inquiry and whether the mental freaks slithering around on discussion boards* across the Canadian internet care about this or not, the fact of the matter is that these are allegations of war crimes. "Crimes," as in "criminal" as in "penalties." I am not the head of the official inquiry into allegations of prisoner abuse. I'm just an opinion on the internet. And it's my opinion that the harper government is guilty as hell of war crimes. And therefore, I believe that stephen harper and all the other scum-bags involved in this abomination are going to go to jail.

*It's really disgusting to read these vermin. They will issue their blanket denials and then in the same breath they'll admit that of course the Afghan government tortures people. They'll say though that we have no responsibility, we have no jurisdiction, we have no right, to tell them how to treat the prisoners we turn over to them.

What would these idiots say if you were to suggest restoring funding to the Palestinians under a Hamas government? What should we say if the Iranians rape and kill a Canadian photojournalist inside Iran? These people have no conception of human rights or the rule of law. They're still working on intellectual consistency.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Seeing Malalai Joya

I went into Toronto a few nights ago for Malalai Joya's stop on her book tour for A Woman Among the Warlords. Because of the crowd I had to sit in the upper-level of the beautiful Trinity-St. Paul's Anglican Church. Unfortunately, the acoustics upstairs aren't as good as they are downstairs apparently. Because while the people downstairs were able to laugh, gasp, at or express support for what the speakers were saying, I was often struggling to understand.

It started late because there was a huge traffic snarl caused by a construction accident over the Yonge Street subway line and people were hours late getting to the event. Then the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War spoke and introduced Malalai to thunderous applause. Before Joya spoke, the Minister of Trinity-St. Paul's said a few brief words. Next was a charming young woman, an Afghan-Canadian woman who is an undergraduate student at York University. She sounded very much like an mainstream North American young woman, peppering her speech with many "You knows" and "like"'s and such. But because of her connection to Afghanistan, she's become active. The good thing was that, as an activist, she actually demonstrated some very clear, concise, and coherent thinking. She got to the point very well and she made connections about government policy, public apathy and illusion, and mainstream lies. They then brought out a US war-resister trying to stay in Canada. This was a short young woman who spoke very softly (though, again, it appeared the people downstairs could hear her better). She spoke of a conventional upbringing and of having conventional views of what the US military was all about. Then, as near as I could figure it, she talked about going on pointless house-raids in Baghdad that shook her up, including one where a two-year old girl was deeply traumatized, which affected her as a mother. I really couldn't make out much of the rest. She went back to the States for two weeks and then made the difficult decision to go to Canada before being sent back. Then Olivia Chow was introduced. Chow spoke clearly about Joya's presence at the last NDP convention, about how the NDP is the only party trying to end the combat mission in Afghanistan, and concluded with some depressing statistics from Canadian state sources and a recent Oxfam report.

Then Malalai got to speak. She has an accent (obviously) and she spoke very fast and loudly into the microphone. I could hear her better than the war-resister but only with difficulty. She talked of how she'd become famous for criticizing the warlords in the Afghan parliament. How she didn't think the book should be about her but the publishers told her the book would sell better it is was (proceeds from the book are going to RAWA-supported causes in Afghanistan). She provided anecdotes about the sufferings of individual Afghan women. She talked about how poverty makes parents sell their young daughters as "brides" to wealthy older men. She said that their elections are shams and that most decent people do not offer themselves as candidates because they'll be attacked, perhaps killed, but more importantly, because they don't want to dignify these empty charades with their participation. She said the families of Canadian soldiers should go after Canadian governments that put them there to die in a lost cause. She said that if we foreigners take our troops out, then the people of Afghanistan will have one less enemy to fight. She appeared to be very moved by the war-resister's story and became very emotional when speaking of her, hugging her, and thanking her for her brave decision. She, too quoted from the Oxfam report saying that one-in-five Afghans report having been tortured in their lifetimes. She said that people in Canada and elsewhere ask her sometimes not to go back, but she insists she's not afraid to die. Essentially, she'd rather die fighting for Afghanistan than to exist in safety knowing her country is suffering. She concluded by linking the struggle in Afghanistan to the struggles in Iran, Iraq and Palestine.

Again, I didn't hear it all very clearly. For that I was disappointed. On the other hand, I didn't go expecting to hear very much that I didn't already know. I really went to see a great heroine firsthand. I wanted to see what the courage to stand up to male warlords and gangsters, the courage to educate her sisters under the threat of death, the courage to keep going after five assassination attempts, looks like. She looks like a very ordinary human being. But that's all that most of us are. (I'm sure there are some heroes and heroines with grandly commanding presences, but most of us can't fill up a room with their physicality.) It's the convictions inside of some people. It's the belief that making the world a better place is more important than keeping the body alive at the expense of one's reason for living.

I'm happy that I went to see a person making world history. And by that I mean the history of human progress, not the depressing histories of wars and empty, elite power-struggles. We are living through a dramatic moment as Canadians. Our Liberal and Conservative governments have dragged us into a military, political and moral quagmire, and the atrocities we are complicit in will be regarded with the same shame among decent people as were the Residential Schools and the Internment of Japanese Canadians. Malalai Joya will be remembered by her people as someone who stood up to the forces of torture, barbarism, gangsterism and hate. Let's make ourselves those people in history who pulled Canada out of this quagmire. Let's take this opportunity to take the forces of militarism, greed, imperialism and arrogance, and shove them down into the trash-can where they belong.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Richard Colvin Made it All Up ...

"Because he hates stephen harper/Canada!!!" (The two are interchangeable to a Blithering Idiot, ... I mean Blogging Tory.)

And the request from CF for new boots to help them wade through the blood and fecal matter on the floors of Afghan penal institutions?

"Um, that would be a totally irrelevant point."

All-righty then.

"And why should Canada be responsible for what one government does with its prisoners?"

You mean the government we arm, fund, protect? That one?

"Even if WE gave them the prisoners, it's not our responsibility!"

Sorta like handing someone's kids over to a pedophile? Or French Jews over to the Nazis?

It's difficult at first to grasp the depravity and the cowardice of these vermin. There used to be a time when people would be embarrassed for saying such stupid, evil nonsense.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Conservatives are Scum: Part 7,049

Richard Colvin finally got to speak. The Constipated Party of Canada is going with: "If you didn't actually see it, then nothing happened, and you're making shit up because, well, we don't know." The malingering crowd of "conservative" internet activists are out in force trying to down-play war crimes.

But there's something lovely that I hope the non-vermin in Parliament remember: War crimes are illegal. And when you do stuff that is illegal, you're supposed to go to jail.

We've sent innocent people off to be tortured. I can imagine the gerbil-on-a-wheel thought processes of idiots like Rick Hillier: "US-Americans treat Arabs and Muslims like the scum they are. Things like "the rule of law" and keeping track of your prisoners are for faggots!"

Gahh. I wish I could say something more substantial about this gigantic evil.

In other news, the "conservatives" are sending out pamphlets accusing the Liberal Party of anti-Semitism. A new low for a party that hits new lows every fucking hour.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Removed "Canada-Afghanistan Blog" from blog-roll.

I should have listend to myself.
I'm glad I didn't waste my time reading right-wing blogs, or Canadian government websites, touting all the fantastic accomplishments we've made in Afghanistan.I'm busy enough as it is, so I tend to focus on the people who've almost always been right (and when wrong, at least had their hearts in the right place).Because, if I'd been reading pro-war stuff, I'd have been having useless debates with myself and others since 2001. And here it is, 2008, and Afghanistan is still a mess. If I'd been reading pro-war shit, I'd have been wasting precious minutes hearing from Rick Hillier, Stephen Harper, KKKate McMillan, etc., about how the Taliban is in its "last throes" for the past several years, when the fact that we're still there and insurgency is growing, kinda puts that delusion to rest. The fact that the fighting continues and the insurgency grows makes me trust this guy more than the previously mentioned imbeciles.I'm glad that I don't have the time of day for absolute fucking morons. It saves so much time.

After the latest slime from Brian Platt and his Moronic Messiah Terry Glavin, about the heroic Malalai Joya (essentially she's just a silly girl to these he-man super-democrats) and further nitwittery by Platt at his stupid blog, I've decided to remove his link. I don't even bother to check in on Glavin's "transmonsterrattus" (or whatever) anymore.

Here's the nitwittery - Platt went to Joya's book talk and related it thusly:
In fact, at the presentation she was asked what would prevent the Taliban from taking over after a NATO/UN withdrawal. Instead of answering the question, she proceeded into a long speech about how terrible the situation is right now. So I put up my hand and demanded she answer the question. This led to a long, angry exchange between the two of us that lasted about 10 minutes, at which point I was told to shut up by the "antiwar" organizers of the event.

Is that, or is that not whining about being censored? About how Joya's supporters won't tolerate free debate or being challenged? I responded:
Brian, Do you have the intellectual consistency to acknowledge that you tell people to "shut-up" regularly here at your blog? Do you have the intellectual consistency to understand that you can't piss and moan when Joya's supporters tell you to shut-up after a ten minute argument at a public event when other people want to speak? Or are you just going to be the same old total boob that you always are and delete my post? That would be pretty special though, you have to admit. Responding to the revelation of your hypocrisy by yet another example of your hypocrisy.

Remarkably, Brian chose to delete my post. He then launched into an amazing explosion of blithering:
One more comment, to anyone following this story: anyone who was at the presentation would surely admit that I wasn't "monopolizing" any time at all, which is what Dawg claims at his blog. For every 10 seconds that I spoke, Joya spoke for 2 or 3 minutes.My intervention also came after an hour of Joya speaking and taking embarrassingly soft questions from her adoring fans.I also am making no claims about free speech, so ignore that straw man accusation. I got heckled from the back of the room, that's all. I've done my share of heckling in the past.As anyone at the presentation would also acknowledge, I got my point across just fine.

Yes Brian. I'm sure you did. In your own mind. It's to be expected though. The witless turd was completely wrong about what would happen to the Shiite "rape your wife free" law. He's been wrong about Afghanistan from the very beginning. Why shouldn't he launch into incoherent babbling when called on his hypocrisy?

Reading the latest Harper's Magazine. There's a story "The Master of Spin Boldak" about Abdul Razik, a drug warlord who is the local commander of the Afghan border police in the town of Spin Boldak. Near the end of the article, the author (Matthieu Aikins) writes:

Razik’s clandestine smuggling operations have spilled over into the allied fight against the Taliban, thereby bolstering the widely held perception that the ISAF and the central government are favoring certain tribes and marginalizing others. Soon after he assumed power at the border, Razik began to feud with elements of the Noorzai tribe, particularly the Sultanzai, a rival smuggling clan spread between Spin Boldak and Chaman. One notorious incident took place during the summer of 2006 in Panjwaii District, a volatile area just west of Kandahar city. A predominantly Noorzai district, Panjwaii is a lush river valley crisscrossed by thick orchards and mud-walled compounds, and it provides an excellent springboard for attacks on Kandahar city. During the course of the summer, Taliban fighters had infiltrated the valley, and eventually the district governor, an Achakzai, called in Abdul Razik’s border force.

What followed was a debacle. The Noorzais, fearing their tribal enemies, rose up and joined forces with the Taliban. Razik and his men responded to the unexpected resistance with brutality. “They were killing women and children,” said Ustaz Abdul Halim, a Noorzai and former mujahideen commander who lives in Kandahar city. “After that, everyone was with the Taliban.”

Capitalizing on the tribal dynamics, the Taliban installed a Noorzai, Mullah Rauf Lang, as their commander in Panjwaii District. Later that fall, newly arrived Canadian troops in the area would launch Operation Medusa, a large-scale assault that killed hundreds of fighters and scores of civilians in weeks of close combat and withering bombardments. Today, the area remains one of
the most violent in Kandahar Province—the Canadians suffer many of their casualties there and have recently abandoned two untenable forward operating bases in the area—and anti-government sentiments still run high.

This is the sort of snake-pit that our brilliant leaders have committed us to. This is why our country is committing war-crimes. In order to continue to fund and arm murderers and druglords. These idiots continue to crow after 8 years of miserable failure and they have the nerve to criticize Malalai Joya? There's nothing to be gained by keeping on top of what the deluded nut-bars are saying. At least in the way that I hoped there might be.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

thwap is inspired ...

stone d and dru-u-u-unk is more like it.

anyway, he doesn't want to trash the rotten socialism that has made capitalism look bad (same way Stalinism made capitalism look good!) any more than he has to, but the reaction to this video:

to whit:

I used to listen to this band via short-receiver radio from behind the iron curtain back in 70s.

Back then I did not speak English and the words were a mystery to me... After 30+ years and with English well understood this band still rocks!!!

Gave me pause.

There's something about the freedom in the West. The sort of thing that the faggots and the artists and the feminists have produced, and not the knuckle-dragging imbeciles of the blogging tories, produce.

And there's the whole historical set o' circumstances that makes my mother tongue of English, the LINGUA FRANCA of humanity right now. Y'know, the same language that "The Sweet" is using.

More on Contrasting 1929 With Today

Earlier, I brought up some differences between 1929 (the year the Great Depression began) and today. Among those differences there is the more timely use of counter-cyclical fiscal policy, the continued easing of monetary policy, a larger public sector and, even if I didn't mention it last time I'll mention it now, greater income support programs (unemployment insurance, general welfare assistance) relative to what we had in 1929.

All of these things have worked to prevent us from having slipped into a downward economic spiral as happened between 1929 and 1932 (the worst year of the Great Depression). Obviously though, we're not out of the woods yet. Unemployment (especially in the USA) continues to rise, along with bankruptcies and foreclosures. Supposedly the big bust in commercial real-estate is still to hit. Some economists have said that employment is a "lagging indicator" meaning that it takes a while for unemployment to rise in tandem with a financial meltdown and credit crunch and then it takes a while for employment to rise after the financial and credit crises have been resolved.

The problem with that analysis is that there doesn't appear to be any indication that there's going to be any sector producing good, stable employment for large numbers of people anytime soon. We're going to be mired in an even more dismal labour market than we've had since 1990, and this time the "credit" (re: DEBT) that sustained the expansion of household consumption is tapped-out.

So, are we still headed for economic Armageddon?

Perhaps. Here's the thing. It might be possible for us to limp along like this as a society for a number of years. The factors I mentioned earlier still have a lot of life in them, especially government counter-cyclical spending. All of the weeping and wailing about exploding deficits is misinformed, dangerously simplistic nonsense. Crooks and Liars had an interesting graph that serves once again to dispel all this deficit hysteria we've been conditioned to feel but which should have been forever dispelled by Linda McQuaig's bestseller: Shooting the Hippo.

We are not in any sort of danger of hitting a "deficit wall." Neither is the United States. We aren't today and we weren't in 1993 when Paul Martin and Jean Chretien were slashing billions in needed public services while simultaneously giving away billions in tax-cuts to the wealthy and the corporations.

Even after years of bush II's tax-cuts and deficits, and Obama's stimulus spending, the USA's debt-to-GDP ratio is still under 60 percent. I once read somewhere that the "debt-wall" that a nation crashes into and then becomes unable to borrow anymore money is hit at a debt-to-GDP ratio of 80 percent, but this is bullshit. Japan has a debt-to-GDP ratio of almost 120% and it's in no danger. The simple fact of the matter is that a Canadian household with an income of $100,000 and with no other outstanding loans or credit card debt except for a $300,000 mortgage has a debt-to-householdGDP ratio of 300 percent. And when a couple making 100 g's a year buy a $300,000 house, nobody shows up screaming at them for burdening their kids with a crippling level of debt.

The point is, Canada, the USA, the whole industrialized world, can limp along at this anaemic level of economic growth for years to come with no danger of ever hitting a "debt wall." Of course, elites will continue to propagate the easily-demolished claim that all of these necessary deficits (for insufficient counter-cyclical spending on construction projects and military spending AND for continued financial sector bail-outs) are going to require belt-tightening and social welfare cuts, education cuts, etc., in order to prevent us from going completely bankrupt, and that brings me back to the central problem.

We COULD still have an economic collapse because the causes of the 2008 collapse are still with us, and under the deluded policies of our elites, becoming even greater. There is simply nothing in the real economy that points towards sustainable economic growth. The last few years of the bush II bubble were built on deficit spending (with USA military spending being about the only thing that "benefited" ordinary US-Americans) and a real-estate/financial bubble built on massive fraud.

The wars continue, but the real-estate bubble has collapsed. We now have a stock-market bubble based on the US Federal Reserves expansion of the money supply, which is unsustainable. Meanwhile, the elites have completely failed to learn their lesson and instead of directing some of the wealth back into households to spend in the real economy, or to prevent homelessness and bankruptcies from exploding, are insanely trying to squeeze yet more blood from ordinary people's bodies. They're laying people off, in both the public and the private sectors, and calling in debts.

The way I see it, most all of us go through life hoping for the best. Thinking "it's going to be okay" when for the vast majority of us, it doesn't end okay. We all die and most of us die painfully and in fear. Very few of us get the uplifting "good death" drifting painlessly off to the big sleep after having shared our last affections for our loved ones gathered 'round. We all say "it's going to be okay" simply to get through day to day.

It's the same with elites. They imagine "it's going to be okay" while they continue to plunder and reinforce the patterns that almost did them in the last time. For them, this has not been so bad. In the USA, the tax-payers rescued them and instead of unemployment they're getting $21 billion dollars in bonuses. Rather than see the trauma of the working class as a problem, they see it as an opportunity. Manufacturing is a good environment for trade unions. It's awesome when manufacturing jobs go to dictatorships in the global South, because it destroys the union movement in the home countries where you can't just shoot union leaders like you can in Indonesia or Colombia. Using the deficit as an excuse to slash the public sector is another way to destroy those pesky union movements. Get everybody working in low-paying, uncertain service sector jobs and the whole working class can be tamed into submissiveness. Overburdened with debt and with no job security, you can ask anything you want from them. And, "it's going to be alright" because, well, it just will.

Who cares that these people will be less capable of sustaining the consumption levels that were totally unrealasitic (but for expanding credit-card debt and an imaginary rise in real-estate wealth) for the past twenty years? Who cares that this continued shovelling of taxpayer dollars relies on an economy that hasn't yet gone completely down the toilet?

Well, they should care. Because it might be impossible to sustain this nightmarish policy, even on it's own terms. To speak nothing of the possibility of a democratic revolt as the injustice of this system is stripped naked for all to see, as elites resort to such blatant theft to sustain themselves.

And this all ignores the reality that we're headed for an environmental catastrophe that requires we direct the bulk of our resources and talents to something other than propping-up a bunch of insular, selfish pricks in the banking and investment industries.

That's enough for today.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Economists as Priests

It's not an original idea, but here's some of my thoughts:

Priests deliver an unrealistic code of ethics and say that divergence from this code will bring disaster and adherence to the code will bring happiness and success n' life. There's enough commonsense in this ethical code ("do not kill," "don't be a drunkard," "don't have promiscuous sex with all and sundry") that people can fool themselves into believing the whole dog's breakfast makes sense in a vague sorta way. Until the inanities and ridiculousness are just too apparent or personally inconvenient ("don't wear wool and cotton," "don't ever have a lustful thought," "give all your money to the church and walk the earth preaching the word o' God").

If you follow all the priest's instructions, you'll be fine. Except it's impossible to follow them all. ("Oh no! I had a lustful thought!") But even if you could follow everything to the letter ("Marge everything is a sin. Have you ever sat down and read this thing? (holds up the bible) -Technically we're not allowed to go to the bathroom. ") it's impossible that everything is going to work out. Because shit happens. And because we all die. And there's no evidence that we go to a better place and our just rewards after we die. Not even after centuries of people looking for evidence. At the end it all rests on faith. And if you do what the religion asks and things go disastrously for you here on Earth, well, maybe God's got a sick bet with Satan and they're both testing your faith.

So for capitalist economics: There aren't supposed to be any regulations or government interventions, except to defend property and enforce contracts. But once you have a government strong enough to do those things, it's impossible to believe that wealthy people won't try to co-opt it to their own purposes. We're supposed to live within our means, only the economy is 70% based on consumer spending that has to grow every year. But there must be no deficit spending, ... except when that benefits the powerful, then their moral standards accept reality.

Mainstream economists who bleat about corruption, moral hazards, market distortions, etc., ... are to business people, like the priest who yammers about unrealistic moral codes (whilst downloading kiddie-porn 'natch) is to the men in the community who openly reject them whenever these codes become too unrealistic.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Meet General Karl W. Eikenberry

From Patrick Cockbourn at CounterPunch.Org, we get a blistering criticism of the Afghan government, including my first hearing of retired general Karl W. Eikenberry:
In a leaked cable to Washington sent last week, the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Gen Karl W. Eikenberry, argues that it would be a mistake to send reinforcements until the government of President Hamid Karzai demonstrates that it will act against corruption and mismanagement.
General Eikenberry knows what he is talking about because he has long experience of Afghanistan. A recently retired three star general, he was responsible for training the Afghan security forces from 2002 to 2003 and was top US commander in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007.

It's not the case that I've discovered the intelligence of a military man only because I happen to agree with the core of what he says. The reason that I think this is important is that the opinion of such a man ought to count with the fuckheads, liars and fools who have been telling us, year after year, for EIGHT FUCKING YEARS, that "we're winning" in Afghanistan, as things get progressively worse.

In other news, I hope to get to Toronto on Wednesday, November 18th, to see Malalai Joya on her book tour for A Woman Among Warlords. I can't resist pointing out (perhaps not for the first time) that pro-war asshole Terry Glavin likes to rest on his first-hand knowledge of Afghanistan while indulging in his deluded rants, and he uses this experience as if it nullifies the fact that he's been totally wrong-headed, advocating continued Canadian killing and dying for a thoroughly corrupt, discredited puppet government. At the same time that he crows about his visiting Afghanistan, he denigrates Malalai Joya's condemnation of the NATO debacle.

What is it, what simple mental block is it, that causes an otherwise intelligent man to such depths of buffoonery, hypocrisy and delusion?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Differences Between Today and the Great Depression

Anyone who thinks this crisis is past us is dreaming in technicolour. The root causes of the "Great Recession" remain: the real economy has been squeezed almost to the limit, and the financial sector remains an unbalanced balloon stretched so thin that it can be burst by the tiniest of pin pricks.

The economic and political geniuses who brought us to this sorry state are still very much in the driver's seat and for want of a focused campaign, alternative political-economic forms are not going to get beyond the pages of progressive magazines and internet sites.

There's a number of differences between today and the Great Depression of 1929-1939 though, that have kept us (so far) from a truly devastating economic collapse.

As much as it pains them to admit it, our elites realize the bracing effects of Keynesian fiscal policy. Whereas Herbert Hoover (and every other major leader of his era) believed in fiscal restraint, our elites (with the exception of the dim-witted Jim Flaherty) understand that counter-cyclical deficit spending is necessary to stop a downward economic spiral.

Our current crop of leaders also had the benefit of hindsight and kept monetary policy loose with low interest rates. In 1929, British and US-American monetary authorities actually raised interest rates in the face of runs on their currency. In 2008, the United States wasn't facing a run on its currency and, indeed, the bush II regime would have welcomed a moderate devaluation of the US dollar to help with its trade imbalance.

In 1929, the public sector was a much smaller component of national economies than is the case today. One result of this is that there is a larger base that is relatively more immune to the swings of the economy. The security of public sector workers remains a sore spot with both anti-worker politicians and with private sector workers who ignorantly see their salvation in the destruction of the fortunes of people similar to or weaker than themselves.

In 1929, the US economy had been "roaring" since pulling the world out of an economic slump after 1925. (The Great Depression "hit" the USA harder than other countries because those other countries had been mired in sluggish growth or mild recessions since the end of World War I. Great Britain was still recovering from the disastrous effects of returning to the gold standard in 1926, and this probably mitigated the extent of its fall in between 1929-1932. It simply didn't have much farther to fall.) In 2008, all the Western industrial democracies have been long mired in stagnant wage growth and sluggish "jobless" economic growth.

Further to that last point ... I'll pick this up later.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Me vs. Richard Dawkins

(Wonder what kinda traffic that title will generate!)

I don't have much of a beef with Atheist Richard Dawkins. I think most of religion is mumbo-jumbo. I have a rather positivist view of religion. First, humans needed religion to try to explain existence. Then they needed philosophy. Now, science.

The thing is though, I don't believe that science will ever explain it all. That's not to say that we should therefore blow the dust off of our holy books and turn to the deranged scribblings of various long-dead lunatics for guidance.

What science seems to do is explain more and more of our immediate experience, whilst also enlarging our sense of the vastness of the universe(s) we inhabit. Before the average person can get their mind around the atomic scale, we discover smaller and smaller sub-atomic phenomena. As we get used to galactic scales of vastness, we learn more and more how big the universe is and that it is one segment of an infinite multiverse.

What is behind all of this? We still don't know much more than our cave-dwelling ancestors. It's vast and it's bigger than us, and it's beyond us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

RCMP-CSIS: Jockeying for glory

I'm of mixed emotions about this National Post article [h/t C-C]:

OTTAWA -- The RCMP disrupted 14 suspected terrorist incidents in recent months, including several in which the alleged activities were interrupted without charges or publicity.
The cases all involved suspected national security-related criminal acts and the Mounties' national security enforcement teams and sections, according to the force's fiscal 2008-2009 performance report tabled in the Commons.
Buried deep within an attached document, police reveal they disrupted the activities of the 14 groups and/or individuals during the year. Though no additional details are offered, a handful of the cases were publicized.
At least four involved suspected operations of the Tamil Tigers, the separatist guerrillas defeated by Sri Lankan government forces in May following more than 25 years of civil war.

On the one hand, some of this stuff is pretty thin gruel. On the other hand, the Tamil Tigers are a major terrorist group and the Air India bombing remains Canada's worst terrorist incident. But all this self-congratulations about thwarting terrorism only builds into the racist, democracy-destroying hysteria indulged in by the pants-pissers on the right-wing.

This appears to be part of a turf-war betwixt the RCMP and CSIS as to who will lead the fight against terrorism (and receive the public funds to allow them to do so). I'm no fan of the RCMP of late, but I agree with head of the RCMP's Bill Elliot's pointed jab at CSIS:

RCMP Commissioner William Elliott said disrupting credible and imminent threats without sufficient evidence to justify criminal charges is sometimes necessary.
But, "counter-terrorism measures based exclusively on intelligence that falls short of the evidentiary threshold are fraught with danger and difficulty," he added.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ezra Levant and Alberto Gonzales

Two doughy, pimply-voiced, stupid turds.

I get the impression that Ezra Levant is trying to get sued by Maher Arar with his revolting assertions that Arar is a liar who was never tortured, and therefore stole 10 million dollars from Canadian taxpayers. He wants to get sued so that he can torture Arar again under cross-examination. Ezra Levant is such a gutless, butt-ugly coward.

In order to believe this, Ezra must be so incredibly stupid as to be oblivious to the whole rationale for the USA's "rendition" program. Supposedly, the USians won't send a terrorist suspect to Canada, whose intelligence services share information willingly with them. The place that's just across the border. The place that shares their values.

No, the US sends suspects to Syria. Is it because they're so friendly with Syria? Is it because they trust Syria more than they do Canada?

No, obviously. It was because the USians and us Canadians had nothing on him but the Syrians torture people, so maybe they could torture him and find something. But (and Ezra, prick up your ugly, mung-encrusted ears and listen), the Syrians could not beat anything out of him and he was released.

He was released.

Did'ja get that Ezra? You ugly fat fuck? He was released. You stool-brained cockroach.

We didn't have anything on him. The Americans didn't have anything on him. The Syrians couldn't get anything on him. Because he's an innocent man.

But you, you dipshit, you believe that a) The Syrians knew he was a terrorist, b) didn't torture him, and c) let him go.

Y'see, this is where "so stupid you're insane" comes into play. Ezra believes all of this shit (and scrabbles after rancid straws like Omar Khadr's coerced, false admissions of recognizing Arar) and is spewing out these slanders in the hopes that he'll be sued and can then cross-examine Arar in a courtroom.

But what the ugly, shit-for-brains pud hasn't figured out is that his entire worldview is based on a tragic lack of brain cells that create insane scenarios such as the one I've described above.

[There's a lot of tragic bullshit in that YouTube link. But Leahy's laughter of disbelief at the simpering Gonzales's statement that the US Justice Department was able to send Arar to Syria because they'd sought assurances from the Syrians that he wouldn't be tortured, is a powerful statement on the ridiculous stupidity that these "conservatives" expect us to take seriously.]

Friday, November 6, 2009

Making Things Easy for Ezra Levant ...

... to understand.

Ezra, imagine this: The Liberal Party of Canada returns to power. Traumatized by the years of cruel bullying they endured at the hands of the psychopathic harper, and determined to use their power to make sure they're never put in such a painful position ever again, they decide to strike-out at all their ideological enemies.

As a result of this, one fine Alberta morning, you're waddling to your car with your goofy face and your brain continuing to slowly fizzle within the fluid inside your skull like it's made of alka-seltzer (as it tends to do), when members of the RCMP kidnap you and take you to an undisclosed location.

Once imprisoned, you are beaten black and blue, humiliated and abused, until you "confess" who your accomplices are and who pays your salary. [I know! Isn't this totally insane??] After your torturers become convinced that you're just a low-level, semi-talented shill for corporate Canada and you represent no real danger to anyone, you're left in a rat-infested, coffin-sized cell to recover from your injuries and to let your bruises heal.

Once this has been done, you're released onto the street, cashless and without an apology. You go to the media to find yourself described as a "terrorist suspect." The Liberals have allowed it to be said of you that there's "secret evidence" that proves you're a terrorist, from "sources" they can't reveal.

To your chagrin, you notice that there's people like me saying you no doubt deserved your beating, except there was no beating because you have no bruises. I commiserate with the RCMP who are being tried in the court of public opinion by terrorists like you and your terrorist-sympathizer allies and the terrorist-loving media and the deluded saps who buy into all your terrorist-loving crapola.

You're doubly chagrined because there's certainly going to be no public inquiry into your torture and certainly no financial compensation because you wrote shit like this:
I see that Maher Arar, the huckster who lied his way into $10.5 million of our tax dollars, has had less luck with the U.S. legal system than he had with ours. A U.S. appeals court threw out his nuisance claim against the U.S. government.
Now, that's not quite fair of me, is it? I mean, it's not fair to Canada's legal system because, had Arar actually gone to trial here, his case would have been thrown out, too. Arar's testimony would have been torn to shreds; he would have wilted under cross-examination. He would have been proved the liar that he is.
So, let me retract and apologize: Arar did not have good luck with our legal system. He had good luck with a politicized inquiry that bore his name -- the Arar Inquiry -- but in which he never testified. Of course he didn't: he doesn't want to answer questions.
Arar the hustler -- and his lawyers-of-fortune -- will have to find a new target to shake down. Of course, they won't go after the Syrian government -- the Syrians know too much about him, and what really happened. He's already squeezed what he can out of Canada. Who will keep Arar in
the style to which he's become accustomed?
My advice to Arar is to stop with the lawsuits, and focus on the real money: taking huge speaking fees from every university and other left-wing bureaucracy in Canada to tell his fictional account of woe. I bet the UN would give him a gig, and probably some global warming NGO, too.
Just remember not to have a Q&A session afterwards.

And you certainly don't want to go down as a total complete hypocrite and a waste of that passing racoon's sperm do you?

P.S. Aside from the overall scuzzy, stupid shit that this butt-ugly, stupid piece of waddling shit wrote, what the fuck is this supposed to mean?:
Of course, they won't go after the Syrian government -- the Syrians know too much about him, and what really happened.

The Syrians know all about him? But they didn't torture him? What?? The USA and Canada shares information with Syrian Intelligence about terrorist suspects because ...?

Seriously, ... what was Ezra trying to say there?? "The Syrians know too much about him" ... I take it that means that the Syrians know he's a terrorist. "and what really happened" I take it to mean that Arar would lose a lawsuit against them because they didn't torture him. But if they know he's a terrorist, and they didn't torture him, why did they release him? Where's the file they've got?

How does Ezra pretend to know any of this anyway? How does he know what the Syrians are like? How does he know they don't torture people? Actually, they do torture people. So why does he think they didn't torture this guy who they supposedly know is a terrorist??

Or is Ezra just a loathsome, slimey cockroach?

It's revolting enough that these Keyboard Commando, Tough-Guy, Fuckheads think that people who were sent to Syria by Canada should go to fucking Syria and stand in court and sue the Syrian dictatorship and NOT the country that put them in the torture chamber. It's revolting that these ranicd piss-stains seriously think it's possible to sue a lawless dictatorship. It's revolting that they think that not suing a torturing dictatorship makes one a coward who therefore has no right to sue the country that subjected them to that torture.

Life's a Bitch, and Then You Die

That is all.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Jeffrey Simpson, Rick Hillier and Brian Platt

I don't have a whole heckuva lotta time for Jeffrey "Public Healthcare is Expensive!!!!" Simpson, but yesterday he had something interesting to say. It seems there's a bit of a difference between how former CF head Rick Hillier sees his contribution to Canada's getting mixed-up in Afghanistan and how Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang see it.

Here is where the tale – or, rather, non-tale – of the Hillier book gets interesting. Eugene Lang, chief of staff to Bill Graham, Mr. Martin's defence minister, co-authored a book with the University of Toronto's Janice Gross Stein that reported in considerable detail how the general had argued for and planned Canada's entry into Afghanistan. Mr. Hillier's book suggests he took a secondary role in those decisions.
Politicians made the decisions, he says, an assertion that is correct in practice but that surely plays down his role in urging not just participation, but in the dangerous province of Kandahar. ... Mr. Lang and Prof. Stein's book is the best outsider's account of how Canada got into Afghanistan, although Mr. Lang was an insider for some of that time. Other officials with knowledge of the inside debates have argued that the authors didn't get everything right. They probably didn't. But no one looking for greater insight should turn to Mr. Hillier's book.

If it is in fact the case that Hillier argued strongly for Afghanistan, but is now hiding behind the weasel words that technically, officially, politicians make the decisions (with the inference being that no matter how loud he brayed about the benefits of sending the CF to shoot Afghans - both "detestable scumbag" Taliban AND poor farmers resisting our corrupt, brutal puppet-government -- he can't be blamed at all for the debacle) then it says something about the man's character.

I've heard a couple of things about how injured CF people have to wait forever to get any sort of medical treatment, and how harper and others dick them around financially, to make me think that the CF is as callous about the troops we're all supposed to worship as the scandals in the USA paint the US military. ANYONE who rises to the top within the public sector in our dysfunctional federal government might be more schooled at butt-kissing than looking after their rank-and-file.

If Hillier is really trying to dodge his responsibility for the insanity he advocated, then he's pretty pathetic.

Speaking of pathetic, I decided to drop in on "Brian" of the "Canada-Afghanistan Blog" to read his rationalizations in the face of the recent news of Karzai's brother being a CIA asset and an alleged druglord and Karzai's farcicial "re-election." I wasn't disappointed. Observe:
The election roller coaster is over, and we can get on with the business of building a democracy in the face of a vicious, depraved insurgency.
Obviously, nobody is overjoyed about how things went. Abdullah probably did the right thing by conceding now and avoiding the logistical nightmare of a run-off which he almost certainly would have lost.
Let's hope this election is a learning process, that the mistakes are fixed for next time, and that Karzai
puts at least some action behind his talk. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is going to inevitably involve some amount of trial and error, and this election was quite the trial. It's been said before: considering the situation, it's a miracle an election was pulled off at all.
onward we push.

(That last link is to the ridiculous Terry Glavin. As of this writing I have no intention of reading that sputtering lunantic.) Anyway, Brian's mewling prompted me to ask the following:
Hey Brian,If the Pashtuns are 40% of the population, and only 5% of them turned out to vote (because of insurgents' threats, and their own disgust or apathy over their choices), how big a factor would that have been in the 30% election turnout nationwide? (I was never good at math.)And if 1/3rd of the ballots were fake, has that been counted against that 30% turnout?And doesn't all of this make Karzai's leadership a total fraud?And if Karzai's brother is a druglord on the CIA's payroll, as is Karzai's Interior Minister, what can we say about his chances for removing corruption?And given all of this (including the Shia wife-rape law that you initally denied the existence of, before saying it was unconstitutional and wouldn't pass) why are we killing and dying over there again?

"Brian" responded with unusual invective.
Read the fucking blog, you idiot. I grapple with these questions every day, and face them head on. Don't bother replying to this. I'll delete it. Your reputation precedes you.

I suppose it'll be deleted, but I felt compelled to say this:

Temper, temper Brian.Actually, I am curious. I do read your deluded drivel from time to time, but not consistently.Did you ever get around to contemplating the significance that you were totally wrong about the Shia wife-rape law? It did exist, and it has passed and is now part of the culture.

Doesn't that show that you don't know what you're talking about, that you're always wrong, and that the people you presume to criticize (left-progressives) are more sensitive to reality than you and your similarly paranoid-defensive ranter Glavin?

Doesn't it all boil down to you and other idiots contributing to a brain-dead political culture of corruption, death and failure?

Isn't it the case that left-progressives have been right all along? That imperialist scum-bags CAN'T forge a genuine democracy in Afghanistan because they don't fucking wan't one?Pull your head out of your ass Brian and realize that your whole effort here is worse than a waste of time. Worse than a waste of time.

I'll still keep the dude on my bogroll. I need to keep an eye on these bozos now and again.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm Not Even Sure if This is a Good Version

I'm just posting something for the sake of posting something ...

Monday, November 2, 2009

From That Link ...

Earlier post today provide a link to the Special Committee on Canada's Mission in Afghanistan. I've just started reading it and thought I'd share Paul Dewar's grilling of Stockwell Day:

Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Minister.

I want to start off with your comments about communication and getting the message
out. I want to be precise. In looking over the shop that you chair, the Afghanistan task force, something came up that caused me considerable concern. When I asked officials responsible for training military and police whether they were able to read the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission's report, a wonderful project that we helped fund, they told me they couldn't read it because it was in Dari. I was happy to provide a translation for them.

I looked into this, and I asked an order paper question about translation and the capacity of the task force. You talked about getting the message out, and that's fair enough. What came back was rather stunning to me. Not one person in the PCO, the Afghanistan task force, knew Dari or Pashto. In this country, I'd think we'd be able to find someone—I have. Those six communication assistants in that shop are doing something. From 2006 to 2009, the government spent a total of $4,512 on translation into Dari or Pashto, whereas in this same time period they spent $9.2 million on communications about the war.

I point that out to you because I think there are a lot of deficits. It's about priorities. I don't think we should be spending $9.2 million on getting the message out about the war. We should spend more on translation services. We have a critical role. If we can't even find people to translate the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission's report about torture by the people we're training, we have a problem, Minister.

I will leave that with you as a concern, because you asked for advice. It's not acceptable, from my point of view, and I'd like to know the response. I think it's an area where we have failed.

There's been a lot of attention paid to the transfer of prisoners. I'm going to make a motion to have this committee talk to people about this and bring people before the committee. Are the transfer agreements that the government brought in and we signed onto being followed by Afghan government officials? Are we certain that they're following the procedure we put in place?

Hon. Stockwell Day: It's my understanding that they are. I'll get back to you on how we came to that understanding and what gives us that sense of confidence. Then you can judge whether it's a good checking process we have.

On the issue of translation, there actually is a Dari speaker on our task force. This may not have been true when you asked for that information, but there is somebody there now who speaks Dari. Is one person enough? I don't know.

You've raised some good issues on translation. I'll get some information back to this committee, because I know we receive it from other sources. We get the reports of those human rights—

Mr. Paul Dewar: But you understand the disproportionate nature of the numbers.

Hon. Stockwell Day: With respect to communication itself, I'll come back to you with the costs. The cost of printing and distributing these reports—that's got to be fairly significant. There are quite a number of other communication methods that are used. More communication was one of the key recommendations of the independent panel that looked at Afghanistan. In fact, it is the reason we're here today: communication, communication, communication. It was very strong. So I'll get back to you on that.

Mr. Paul Dewar: Fair enough.

I want to get back to the transfer. When the Afghan government releases a prisoner, one of the things that is of concern to all of us is whether we are being notified by the officials. Is that part of the protocol? Are we being notified by the officials when those prisoners are released from jail?

Hon. Stockwell Day: I'll have to get back to you on that. I'm not sure what the notification process is. I don't know whether that would be our responsibility, but—

Mr. Paul Dewar: But we should know.

Hon. Stockwell Day: —let me check on it. I have visited the principal prison under our jurisdiction. I went through pretty well every area of it and talked with a number of the individuals who were kept there.

Mr. Paul Dewar: I appreciate that. Please get back to us. For obvious reasons, this is something I think we should know .

We're training the military, the Afghan National Army, and that's an important job. I've had concerns about the police. I wonder if they know the human rights criteria of their own country, of their own constitution. That's a serious concern, and I've mentioned it before in committee.

I found it very surprising that the AWOL rate for the Afghan army is 10%. Is that your understanding? If so, how is it being dealt with by our military? If 10% of 94,000 men are AWOL, that's quite a significant number. What's our response to that?

Hon. Stockwell Day: Whether it's 10% today or not--I can't say--any rate at all is of concern. Are we going to look at it in comparison to the Canadian Armed Forces, which results show are the best in the world, in a mature parliamentary democracy, with incredible training? We hold this brand-new Afghan army to high standards, but if we expect the same kind of attendance rate, we may be disappointed. So we have to measure it in terms of progress. The number of those being trained and staying are higher than they ever were, but this is fairly new. So it's a concern. It's something we'll work with in our mentoring and training.

Also remember that if you're a member of the armed forces in Afghanistan, you are a target within your own country. In Canada, when our soldiers walk down the street, they are greeted with respect everywhere they go. In that country, if you're a soldier, your family is at risk and you are at risk.

Mr. Paul Dewar: We're not at war, though, and I guess that's the point. It was reported by Persian BBC a couple of weeks ago that ANA and others are handing over their arms to the Taliban. So this is a critical piece. I'd like to know that we have something in place to track the soldiers we train. If they're going AWOL, where are they going?

Hon. Stockwell Day: Remember, this is a culmination of us working with Afghanistan. They have to get to the place where they are controlling their own security and learning the methods and processes. Sometimes it's a simple matter of pay. They're getting paid more than ever, but in some areas of the country, where the narcotics economy is strong, it's pretty easy to buy them away from where they are.

So a 10% AWOL rate is not something a modern-day, sophisticated armed forces could tolerate. But we have to remember that 90% of them are staying on the job under threat of death and their families being slaughtered every day.

Mr. Paul Dewar: But we want to make sure that 10% of them aren't going to the other side. You mentioned Iraq, and that was an issue there. So do we have a strategy to deal with that? If we don't, we darn well should. We could be indirectly fueling the insurgency, and I don't think anyone
wants that.

Hon. Stockwell Day: Clearly these are things that make up part of the overall security matrix. We are seeing a maturing in Afghanistan of their capabilities, not just on the military side but on social development, in virtually every area. But you can't compare it to where we are.

Mr. Paul Dewar: I'm not.

Hon. Stockwell Day: I know you're not, but we have to look at the progress and the fact that they are learning. They are also learning how to go after these types of inconsistencies.

The Chair: You have one minute left, Mr. Dewar.

Mr. Paul Dewar: We want to see the government do more in engaging with other countries in the region. As was mentioned, this war cannot be won through military means, and I think that's pretty clear. So I want to know what the government has done.

Has there been any initiative to talk to countries in the region, like India, Pakistan, Iran, China, Russia, etc.? I think that's something Canada could do, and I certainly encourage you to do that if you haven't.

Hon. Stockwell Day: The entire United Nations force that's engaged there is involved in that type of diplomacy. But Canada specifically has put together a very successful program called the Doha process. We engage and encourage people from Pakistan and Afghanistan to meet and discuss everything from borders to reconciliation. So Canada is very much involved in those types of discussions.

Mr. Paul Dewar: But I'm talking about all the other countries in the neighbourhood. Has there been something of that nature?

Hon. Stockwell Day: From the point of view of diplomacy, discussions are ongoing on a variety of levels.

Mr. Paul Dewar: But are they with those other countries?

Hon. Stockwell Day: Yes. When I was in Saudi Arabia we had discussions about Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia's role, and how they can do more.

Mr. Paul Dewar: But what about the other countries I mentioned?

Hon. Stockwell Day: There are discussions with other countries too.

The Chair: Mr. Dewar, your time is up. Thank you.

Mr. Minister, a couple of issues were raised that you said you would respond to.

Hon. Stockwell Day: I'll get back to you.

The Chair: Hopefully we'll see them.

Hon. Stockwell Day: I appreciate some of the points that have been raised. We'll look into them and get back to the committee.

The Chair: Okay.

We'll suspend for a few minutes while we move in camera.

Yeah, "I'll get back to you on those basic points." Whatever.