Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Being Wife of a Tory PM

We're not even sure what her real name is.

Some say it's Laureen Teskey. Others say she now asks to be called "Mrs. Harper." Hm, but then, does that mean her name *is* "Mrs. Harper"? Did she (ack!) change it to appease the social-right-wingers in the Reform-Alliance-Conservative pack, to pretend to not be the intelligent, independent person that she apparently is?

Serious, serious ack if she did.

She has two kids, she rides a motorcycle, she's outgoing and extroverted and yet somehow married Mr. Harper. She also calls herself a "moderate" conservative and not a social conservative at all.

(I always find it reassuring to read things like that, but then, everybody thinks they're moderate, right? Does it mean anything when you call it yourself?)

She's trained as a journalist and used to run her own business, but quit to support Stephen's political career. She's always been politically active, but she has relegated herself to acting as advisor to her hubby.

Which is lovely and supportive and admirable and all that, and of course everyone knows it's next to impossible to have two careers going if one spouse is prime minister. But when I combine this with the appallingly low numbers of female candidates (and voters!) in the Tory ranks, and the pre-1960 attitudes towards childcare, feminism, reproductive choice, and "the family," I become slightly uncomfortable.

What's happened to the women's movement?

I mean, we don't even know her name.

Monday, January 30, 2006

BBC: Greenland is Melting

Check out this top story on BBC: Greenland icecap is melting very quickly, sea levels are going to rise.

My question: Will the Tories now renew commitment to Kyoto, or will they give Newfoundlanders free swimming lessons?

Friday, January 27, 2006

US Military PsyOps

Go here, read this: BBC on US military psychological operations in the US, Iraq and elsewhere, as revealed by government documents.

Harper Reality Check

The progressive blogs are saying that Harper is a cyborg. Something to do with a wooden smile and shaking his kids’ hands at school.

But last night, the CBC told us who Harper really is (and the CBC wouldn’t LIE - even though they're evil enough to show his high school yearbook picture). He’s a quiet, reserved kind of guy who hates the public spotlight. He’s a theorist, an economist, an introverted, bookworm type who never wanted to be a politician.

Gulp. Bad career choice, dude.

But on the other hand, knowing that he’s really just shy is kind of … endearing. Okay, that’s a bit strong, but he’s just a dweeb. A philosopher-king kind of dweeb, definitely geeky.

Just like us.

He must be scared sh*tless.

But if he’s as nerdy and introverted and camera-shy as the CBC says he is (and the CBC wouldn’t LIE), then he would be the type to read blogs, rather than muscle around on Parliament Hill. He might even be reading our blogs. Hey, he might even be reading THIS blog right now.

If you are, Stevie, then hullo, welcome to the community. I’ve got a few starter tips for you to get you started off on the right (ha, get it?) foot.

1. When you have a radical new idea you want to get through Parliament, then present it like this: “We have a new idea here, and here are the basic ideas and the options we’re considering. Take some time to look it over and discuss it. If you have some other options, bring them to the table. Let’s focus our goals so that we’re working toward the same thing.” Instead of: “Here’s what we’re going to do. It’s all written in this 400-page document. No discussion, no options, no time, just shut up and sign it, and I am a CYBORG!”

2. The philosopher-king idea sounded great in Plato, but in real life, reality and philosophy don’t mix very well. You may like to align all ideas along a one-dimensional line of Right-to-left (right=good, left=stupid), but the real world is three-dimensional. The Earth is tilted on its axis. Its orbit wobbles. Its not a sphere, but an ovoid because the poles are flattened. The people on it are generally rational, but an incredible number are TSFW (too stupid for words). Toilets don’t flush, wind directions change. And watch out for that yin-yang thing: what’s good becomes bad in a different context. Tip: modify the philosophies to fit the realities, not the other way around.

3. The most heinous governments in the world have always been ideological.

4. There are really just two regions in Canada: Alberta, and The Rest Of Canada. If that’s news to you, then take a look at the election results. I don’t know what it is that does it – maybe those big hats. But Albertans are definitely cut from a different cloth, and they used the same scissors to cut you. All the more reason to do a federalism shake-down, that’s what I say. But don’t take out those scissors on us, or expect some big trouble.

5. Don’t lose sight of the irrational things of political life. Myth. Tradition. Home loyalties. Symbolism. Like the HBC being sold to an Amurican the day you walked into the Parliament Building as PM-elect. You may think the big issue of your reign will be democratic and federal reform, but it might end up being bird flu. Or mad cows. Life has a way of doing these things.

6. My final tip: Use that vast cranium to think. As much as I’m in favour of recycling, I don’t favour politicians re-using old ideas. What you thought up in the 1990s belongs in the 1990s. Think today about today. Also, keep in mind that on every issue, there is a Yes side and No side in an endless, yanking tug-of-war. But there are also those Third Options, the ones no one has considered yet. Think: "I like third options, I like third options..."

That's it, enough to get your started.

So Steve, feel free to check in regularly. I'll keep letting you know how you're doing, give you some pointers for working with us Rest-Of-Canaders. We're not so bad once you get to know us.

You can do it, buddy. Just keep your stick on the ice.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

McKenna McDrama

Wasn't it just yesterday, the Liberals were falling down on their knees, thanking the Almighty for their puny survival. But today, the grey creep of dawn won't spare them their dishonour.

The castle has been lost. The giant hand has moved in the black king, rolled up the drawbridge, and clanged it shut. It was all there on TV for the nation to see.

Yet their punishment is not over. Besmirched and poverty-striken from their past excesses, they now have battle each other for control of the party monster. Like Medusa’s head, it writhes, serpentine. Martin, oh Martin has fled!

It's hard to pity them. And it's hard not to -- a scrambling mix of the hopeful and the hopeless, grasping for power, unwashed and undeserving.

And then, lo and behold! -- here’s Frank McKenna, the newly minted ex-ambassador to USA, marching back across the border to trumpet anthems, wings ablaze, like a veritable messenger from God.

Frank McKenna, the cool, the unflappable. Frank McKenna, stately, solemn, dignified, his cute li’l ol’ east-coast accent firmly in check.

Frank McKenna in every newspaper, that elegantly written letter, a flourish in every paragraph. My, what a letter.

Everything about him screaming Experienced, Capable, Untainted.


The Liberals look up from their misery, drop their cudgels, wipe their drooling lips, gasp for air.

Could he… could he… be The One?

Polygamy in Canada

Last night's Fifth Estate featured an extremist Mormon community in BC that practices polygamy. The guy they were interviewing had 20 "wives." He argued that if people have the right to be adulterous or enter same-sex marriages, then he has the right to live his lifestyle.

What was weird was that except for the multiple-wife thing (and except for the skating arena he has to rent every time his 'family' wants to go skating), he seemed kind of normal. Trust me, it was eerie.

The question, then, is what does a pluralistic, accepting nation like Canada do with polygamy? On the one hand, the government tends to want to stay out of the bedrooms of the nation. On the other hand, we know that multiple-marriages virtually always involve multiple wives, not multiple husbands. (Even the idea of multiple husbands is enough to make women run off screaming.) Moreover, polygamy women occupy a low status in their society and religion, are usually deprived of a full education, are denied birth control options, and are usually married without real consent at an age too young to know what is happening. Moreover, they live very restricted lives under a severely patriarchal system that imposes rules regarding their movements, clothing, and obedience and denies them knowledge of the outside world.

The polygamists would argue that the women have chosen this life. I would hand them a dictionary have them look up "choose."

One concern about polygamy is that the idea can spread, especially to other religious groups with strong patriarchal or Old-Testament tendencies. Western women have worked hard to gain the right to freedom and autonomy. If polygamy becomes widely accepted, then women will once again be relegated to a low status.

The courts are going to have to decide this. And it’s going to be tricky, because fundamentally, people are free to live the lifestyles they choose. So what to do?

The courts can start by focusing the definition of marriage to exclude communal groups. A Western marriage is a relationship and a partnership. A man with 20 women is neither relationship nor partnership. Moreover, multiple marriages are not in the public interest, since they would skew the ratio of available males and females in society and cause strife. So the courts can restrict the definition of spouse to 1/uno/un.

This would mean that only the first woman a man marries can be regarded as his legal wife for legal, inheritance, travel, and insurance purposes. The others would have no status except consensual adultery. If those women wish to marry someone else (or each other, as in the same-sex marriage of 2 of the 20 "wives" on TV last night!), they would have the freedom to do so. Moreover, the children of the other women would all belong entirely to their mothers.

In the case of divorce, only the legal wife can divorce. She can use adultery as the cause. (No kidding?) But the courts may want to create a form of "aggravated adultery," to refer to any situation in which the woman has to endure adultery in her own home against her will. This would open an option for legal action against the husband and the religious organization.

Yes, now we're getting into the "negative reinforcement" section...

In addition, if any of the other women want to "divorce," all they would have to do is leave -- because they're not married. If they put the father’s name is on any birth certificates, they can sue for child support for their children (otherwise, they would seek a paternity suit the old-fashioned way). Also, if the fake marriage was performed by a religious organization, she can also sue the husband and clergy for false marriage. AND if she was being held in the marriage against her will or was "married" before a reasonable age of consent into a group situation, then she can sue for these additional forms of abuse, which could carry a criminal charge.

Message from the courts: It's up to you, dude, but you will probably regret it.

I would also suggest that the RCMP should be able to seek warrants to enter premises where polygamy is suspected so that they visit the building or school and educate the "house of spouses" about their rights and their options under Canadian law. Resistance to these warrants would constitute grounds for arrest.

These laws would not make it a crime to part of a consensual sexual group, if that is the lifestyle a guy chooses. However, they would restrict the legal recognition of such arrangements and provide for the rights of the women involved. In short, they would make the risks and costs of these arrangements high enough to discourage men and religions from getting involved.

The risks to the women are already quite apparent.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Media Bias

I keep reading Tory complaints about the Great Eastern-Leftist Bias in the Media and how it smears Westerners, Tories, and Tories Who Wear Cowboy Costumes in particular.

Never believed it myself, since I didn't see a single kind word said about Martin through the whole campaign.

MyBlahg reposted this article, which I'm quoting and reposting. It thumb-squishes this Tory rumour (which we could call the Great Western-Tory Bias in Reporting on the Media):

Crawl Across The Ocean puts to rest the silly liberal media bias lie with the results from this year’s McGill study on media bias during the election campaign.

During the campaign there were 3,753 articles written about the election in the 7 newspapers studied (The Calgary Herald, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, the Toronto Star and the Vancouver Sun, La Presse and Le Devoir).

Of those 3753, 3035 mentioned the Liberal party. Out of those 3035, there were 40 with positive mentions of the Liberal party and 445 with negative mentions of the Liberals, giving a 11 to 1 ratio of negative mentions to positive (slightly higher than last election’s 10-1 ratio).

Meanwhile, for the Conservative Party, the figures were 2730 total articles, including 144 positive mentions and 127 negative mentions, for a slightly positive overall slant (the positive mentions were similar to last election, but the negatives were cut in half).


Harper says he's going to rebuild this great country of ours.

Dude, the country wasn't broken. The government was.

So like, just fix the government. Leave the country alone.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Canada Survives

Well, it's over, and thank God. And now we got what we got. It could have been worse.

As a little House-warming (ha ha, get it?) gesture, I have some letters for each of the parties.

Dear Conservatives:

Congratulations on your win. You managed a very cautious and painstaking campaign, with some surprising accommodations to, well, to Canada .

Your job now is to continue to accommodate, not to charge in with the cavalry. I hope we made that clear last night. No gutting of social programs, no turning back the clock, no ass-kissing of aging superpowers, no nickel-and-diming on childcare.

To Stephen Harper, welcome to the hot seat. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha...!

Dear Liberals:

Well, phew, you survived. So the moral of the story is: Canadians will not tolerate corruption, even in relatively good economic times. This is still a liberal country: but you are in time-out until you learn to behave properly.

To Paul Martin, thank you for some effective though non-stellar leadership through recent crises. I appreciate the two balanced budgets and the calm hand on the tiller. I also appreciate your resignation. Your party has to convince Canadians that it's a new Liberal party if it expects to be elected again. How about a chick for leader?

Dear NDP – or should I just call you Jack?

Jack, you deserve the seats you got. Your job over the next two years is to focus like a laser on those social issues that need to be kept alive while the Tories are in power. We’re counting on you.

Cher Bloc:

It might look tres mal, but just give it un peu de temps. Vous avez un primo opportunity here to work avec Monsieur Harper to get most of les ideals de sovereignte into the nouveau federalism. Politics cree des bedfellows etranges.

Dear Green Party:

We're standing still, mates. Time to get out the lawyers and go after the CRTC.

To all the new MPs:

We have given you a mandate. Here is it: “Now SHUT UP and WORK TOGETHER for the next THREE YEARS, and we DON’T WANT TO HEAR A PEEP OUT OF YOU." Got it?

Yours very sincerely
Clearcut Blogger

Monday, January 23, 2006

Election Night in Canada

It's obvious, isn't it? Voting for the best candidate in your riding and voting for the best party in the country are the two pulls of an election ballot that are in direct conflict with each other. Either we vote dolts into Parliament or a doltish party into Parliament. The doltish party seems the greater evil.

Small wonder we're running an election over corruption.

This weekend, the Kingston Whig-Standard officially endorsed Eric Walton, the Green candidate, as the best-calibre candidate on the ballot with the best balance of good vs weak policies. But how much strength will that endorsement of an individual have against the pull of the parties?

The Star's Richard Gwyn said last week that first-past-the-post system works well. Works well for whom and for what?

The good guys don't win. First-past-the-post is really first-past-the-best.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Why I'm Voting Green

Hello, greetings from southeastern Ontario. I am a blogger on other forums, and I'm seeing a need to add my voice to the expanding Green and progressive Canadian political blogsphere. If we're heading for Torydom for the next long while, then we're going to need to yell and holler loud.

Why I'm voting Green:

1. Winter hasn't come to this area for the past six years.

2. I remember the Ice Storm.

3. I don't want to shake dice when I vote.

4. I don't believe 17th-century economic theories work anymore. I don't believe they ever really did.

5. As the world becomes a global community, our politics have to become global as well.

6. As the US heads toward full economic and social collapse, I want Canada to be strong, independent, and nimble.

7. I have two children.

8. I believe politicians need to represent people, not political parties (and their funders).

9. I value healthcare more than sickcare (but I value sickcare too!).

10. I believe our problems are solvable if we focus on the root of the problem and are open to making the changes necessary to fixing them.

Okay, a spongy start for a political blog. But it'll pick up steam as I get going...

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