Sunday, February 28, 2010

Harper at the Olympics

Our glorious leader, Stephen Harpericus, on the Canadian hockey team:

"Man for man, our team is the superior team but let's not kid ourselves, the most consistent team in this tournament to date has been Team USA," Harper said in an interview on CTV.

Don't overdo the enthusiam there, Stevo.

He also has advice for them on how to win. If I were them, I wouldn't take any winning advice from him.

He had our hopes up for a minute with this statement on short-track speed skating.

"That was the most exciting event I've ever been at in my life. I think I almost had a heart attack before it was over," Harper said.

Don't you have to have a heart first?

Ah, well.

There's always the hockey game this afternoon, though.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

NATO - a multinational military dictatorship

Seems that U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates just can't get enough of war.

Gates: European aversion to war a danger to peace

Gates warned that Europe’s aversion to war was doing serious harm to assorted US military operations with NATO backing, and was therefore “an impediment” to the lasting peace he envisions those wars eventually creating.

Perhaps it's the memory of two world wars that devastated their countries in the last century that makes Europeans a little wary of militarization and armed conflict. Do you think?

The late British WW1 veteran and later peace activist Harry Patch from Britain didn't find any glory in it.

"Too many died. War isn’t worth one life,” and [he] said war was the “calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings".

WW1 set the stage for WW2. Every war sets the conditions for the next. If you want peace, another war isn't the way to get there. It wastes lives, it destroys families, it squanders resources and destroys economies.

If you're an arms dealer or munitions manufacturer, though, it's definitely the way to go.

An interviewer spoke to a young German woman during a recent antiwar demonstration. The citizens of Germany, like those in all the other countries involved in the Afghanistan mess, want it stopped now. She said that the German constitution prohibits the use of armed forces in war unless the country is attacked from outside. It also prohibits the use of its armed forces against its own citizens. But it seems that the almighty NATO can simply demolish national laws. This makes it effectively a multinational military dictatorship.

Even the Iraqi vice president warned that increased militarization of a society is setting the stage for a military coup.

Too bad our jonesing-for-war government "leaders" still don't get it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

McChrystal needs an equine proctologist: Fred Reed

Lordy, lordy. Some words should be written in letters twelve feet high and put on display for all to see.

Fred Reed and his Thoughts on an Interview with General Stanley McChrystal

Yes, [McChrystal]thought, we really should stop killing so many civilians, but we would stop. We were going to help the Afghans, as soon as we finished killing most of them. (He didn’t say the part about killing most of them but seems to be working on it.) We would win their hearts and minds by beneficent and salubrious bombing. (OK, he didn’t say that either. It seems to be what he thinks.)

Gret Gawd, I reflected not too charitably, if this guy ever gets sick, he’ll need an equine proctologist."

And as the numbers of dead soldiers and Afghans skyrocket - the last 27 civilians killed in a bus convoy was a Special Ops operation and they were WRONG - Fred Reed makes the following suggestion:

Now, if America wants to kill its own soldiers, that is America’s business. It is a matter of national sovereignty with which no other country should have the right to interfere. McChrystal could maybe hold a private war somewhere in the southwestern deserts. You know, McCrystal vs. David Petraeus, with two divisions each, twelve rounds or knockout, no holds barred, but they have to buy their own weapons.

But leave others out of it.

Amen to that.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hard power gets Harper off

The immortal words of Our Glorious Leader Stephen Harper when asked about military expenditure while checking out relief efforts in Haiti:

'To do soft power, you need hard power,' Prime Minister says of Canada's relief efforts

Apart from bringing up (no pun intended) all kinds of Freudian connections with that particular quote, we could investigate why military resources are used at all for civilian relief efforts.

But this whole thing is a shameless photo-op for Harper. After closing down parliament and telling everyone to go to the Olympics (does this remind you of Bush telling everyone to go shopping after September 11th?), and making an appearance there himself, now he has to strain the infrastructure by making an "official visit" to Haiti to show us his deeply caring heart. Give me a break already!

I might believe it if he flew there on his own dime. After all, he said he bought his own Olympic tickets. Where exactly does he think his salary comes from, I wonder?

Some of our aboriginal communities are in as bad a state as Haiti - poor water, poor roads, poor schools and health care - but I don't see him making too many visits there. The Kelowna accords, carved out with Canada's aboriginal groups by our last Prime Minister but not completed because of an election and cancelled by Harper's Wreckers when he got into power, could have made a terrific difference to some of Canada's poorest people.

And the Olympics themselves are staged on contested aboriginal lands, never surrendered or ceded by treaties.

Harper's last photo op in Haiti was at a school in Cité Soleil a few years ago. The little girls he had his picture taken with weren't smiling either, just like the poor kids in the article above.

As for your "hard power", Harper, keep it at home (or wherever) behind closed curtains, will you? Some of us are trying to hold on to our last meal.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

They lied about the rocket "veering off course"

So they lied about the death of Afghanistan civilians.

Looks like that errant rocket that "veered off course" and killed fifteen Afghan civilians a few days ago didn't "veer" anywhere. It went exactly where it was supposed to go. Civilians didn't really matter to these guys. They either didn't know or didn't care.

Odds on that it was both.


Deadly Afghanistan Rocket Attack Actually Hit Its Target (Updated)

When a pair of rockets killed 10 or more civilians in Afghanistan on Sunday, the military initially said that the weapons had veered away from its intended target by a thousand feet or more. But a spokesman for the American-led coalition now tells Danger Room that the weapons from the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) actually hit their intended target. Troops were unaware that there were civilians were inside.

And the sweet voice of reason, Malalai Joya, called McChrystal's Afghanistan strategy "ridiculous".

Dear heavens, will someone please listen to her?

From the Independent:

Joya condemns 'ridiculous' military strategy

"It is ridiculous," said Malalai Joya, an elected member of the Afghan parliament. "On the one hand they call on Mullah Omar to join the puppet regime. On another hand they launch this attack in which defenceless and poor people will be the prime victims. Like before, they will be killed in the Nato bombings and used as human shields by the Taliban.

Joya spoke to Allan Gregg on TVO not long ago. I think he was a little taken aback by her intensity and her bordering on despair while her people were massacred and her country destroyed. This is one amazing woman.

No wonder Stephen Harper wouldn't speak to her. She would have wiped the floor with him.

Malalai Joya in conversation with Allan Gregg on TVO

Monday, February 15, 2010

Blame the other guy

More civilians were killed in another "success" for McChrystal's brilliant strategy to "win" the war in Afghanistan, whatever that might mean.

NATO's novel battle tactic spawns opposite effects

Not content with merely screwing up, McChrystal weeps buckets of crocodile tears and then - ta DAH! - blames the other guys. What a prince.

"On Sunday, two International Security Assistance Force rockets hit just such a home, killing 12 civilians and sparking an outcry. The rockets had been aimed at a group of Taliban fighters engaged in a gun battle with coalition forces 300 metres away."

"...[W]e deeply regret this tragic loss of life,” U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, ISAF's top commander, said in a statement apologizing to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

“It's regrettable that in the cause of our joint efforts, innocent lives were lost.”

How to know you're on the wrong track

From and Australia's Sydney Morning Herald:

Cheney 'a complete supporter' of Obama Afghan effort

Time to go.

With friends like Cheney, who needs enemies?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How much is a trillion dollars?

The U.S. deficit is expected to reach $1.6 trillion this year. Barack Obama has just sent a $3.8 trillion budget to the U.S. congress for approval.

How much is a trillion dollars? Well, thanks to Eric Margolis in this article, we now know.

To understand the immensity of one trillion dollars, one would have had to start spending $1 million daily soon after Rome was founded and continue for 2,738 years until today.

So, tell me again, why are we hitching our economic wagon to this falling star?