Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Banker Woes . . . .

This blurb on the Vancouver Sun editorial page today would be humorous if it hadn't had reminded me of mr. wolfowitz' role in initiating the war in Iraq. As "rummy's" right-hand man, he was one of the prime proponents of invading Iraq and it's devastating consequences.

Banker doesn't give a darn about putting his best foot forward

Vancouver Sun Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2007

As president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz is handsomely remunerated, to the tune of a $ 300,000 US tax- free salary, along with a mortgage allowance and golf club membership.

So it’s no surprise that Wolfowitz cuts an impressive figure, with a sartorial style that includes fancy shoes and designer suits. You might even been tempted to say that he looks smashing from head to toe — but it’s probably best if you don’t say that.

In fact, it’s best you don’t mention Wolfowitz’s toes at all since they’ve received enough, um, exposure. You see, the World Bank prez found himself in Edirne, Turkey, on Monday, and did what many dignitaries do: He visited the Ottoman- era Selimiye mosque. Further, he did what anyone does when visiting a mosque: He removed his shoes.

So far so good. But as Wolfowitz was leaving, those ubiquitous paparazzi were waiting for him, and they managed to catch him with his pants down -- or at least with his shoes off. And wouldn't you know it, it seems Wolfowitz was a little behind with his laundry that day, since he had not one, but two large holes in the toes of his socks.

Now there are several possible explanations for Wolfowitz’s footloose and fancy- free attitude. Although it seems unlikely, perhaps the president of the World Bank has fallen on hard times, hard enough to prevent him buying a decent pair of socks. Or perhaps he’s making a statement here, one that says the president of World Bank is willing operate on an, um, shoestring budget to ensure that his money — and yours — is not wasted.

But we think there’s a simpler explanation: Perhaps Wolfowitz just doesn’t give a hoot, since he obviously doesn’t give a darn.

World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz has a
bad sock day as he leaves Ottoman-era Selimiye
mosque in Turkey on Monday.

Photograph by : Nadir Alp, Associated Press

Perhaps the holes in his theories on international relations should be of more import than those in his socks . . . .

Monday, January 29, 2007

bush and shrub Party Over? We Can Only Hope . . . .

Thought you would enjoy this excerpt from an excellent article by Sarah Anderson of AlterNet. It details the straining of relations between the US and Canada due to the Maher Arar rendition case . . . .

Despite his ideological affinity for President Bush, Prime Minister Harper has not been oblivious to the fact the U.S. government is about as popular among Canadians today as it was when the Americans invaded in the War of 1812. In October, he was moved to ring up Bush and ask him to "come clean" about the Arar affair. He even went so far as to ask that Bush acknowledge "the deficiencies and inappropriate conduct that occurred in this case." That, of course, was as likely as the President admitting to shirking his Vietnam War National Guard duties.

Check out the full article for Sarah's take on the bush/shrub alliance . . . .

Friday, January 26, 2007

US Ambassador Gets Testy . . . .

This editorial from today's Halifax Daily News is great!

Just who does Mr. Wilkins think he is, anyway?


Last updated at 7:27 AM on 26/01/07

Temper, temper, Mr. Ambassador

United States Ambassador David Wilkins can be charming — as he was when he expressed his country’s gratitude to Canada for the assistance we provided during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He can be firm — as he was when he continually reminded Canadians that a new American law requiring passports to get into the country was not going to be rescinded simply because it wasn’t to our liking.

And he can be infuriating — as he was yesterday, when he chided Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day for pushing the Americans to remove Maher Arar from its no-fly list.

In 2002, Arar — a Canadian citizen originally from Syria — was detained in the United States while changing planes to return to Canada. Based on faulty information from Canada, the Americans believed Arar had ties to al-Qaida, and deported him not to Canada, but to Syria.

After more than a year of torture in Syria, Arar returned to Canada. An inquiry cleared him of involvement with terrorism, and he is no longer considered a security risk here. But the Americans still think he’s a threat.

Day has been vocal in his criticism of that stance. Yesterday, it was Wilkins’s turn to get vocal.

“It’s a little presumptuous of (Day) to say who the United States can and cannot allow into our country,” the ambassador huffed. “Canadian officials would rightly never tolerate any American official dictating to them who they may or may not allow into their country.

Was it not “presumptuous” for the Americans to pack Arar off to Syria, instead of simply sending him back to Canada?

Suppose Canadian authorities seized an American citizen at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Suppose said citizen was not sent back to the United States, but spirited away to another country, one with a dubious human-rights record. Suppose said citizen suffered torture in that country.

This would, rightly, never be tolerated by the Americans.

So why should it be tolerated by us?

Well said, Daily News . . . .

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Deep Integration" - Coming To Your Home? ? ? ?

There are varied opinions in "blogland" regarding "Deep Integration" and the potential effects of same, both positive and negative.

l-girl of "We Move to Canada" blog and Barbara Yaffe one of my favourite columnists from The Vancouver Sun both seem to minimize the negative results of such a process and I hope they're right.

One can't ignore information such as this article from yesterday's The Tyee out of BC, however. Thanks to "drf" for pointing this out. (BTW, does anyone have opinions on the author, Murray Dobbin? His articles are usually quite thought provoking.)

It does give one pause, and I for one, am not looking forward to US policies, laws and culture assimilating into Canada. The reason we are moving to Canada is precisely because of the differences between the two countries and our hope is that it remains so . . . .

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

When Pigs Fly . . . .

Compliments of today:

Cheney: Talk of blunders in Iraq is 'hogwash'

POSTED: 4:32 p.m. EST, January 24, 2007

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday dismissed as "hogwash" the suggestion that blunders may have hurt the administration's credibility on Iraq and led members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to question President Bush's plan to send more troops to Baghdad.

In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, carried out a day after President Bush delivered his State of the Union address, the vice president was told that some Republicans in Congress "are now seriously questioning your credibility, because of the blunders and the failures."

To that Cheney responded: "Wolf, Wolf, I simply don't accept the premise of your question. I just think it's hogwash."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee defied President Bush on Wednesday and approved a resolution declaring that sending more troops to Iraq is "not in the national interest."

"We better be damn sure we know what we're doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder," said Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, one of the harshest Republican critics of the plan.

Cheney said the administration is committed to moving ahead with its plan to send more troops to secure Baghdad, even if Congress passes a resolution in opposition.

"It won't stop us," he said. "And it would be, I think, detrimental from the standpoint of the troops."

Cheney added, "The notion that somehow the effort hasn't been worth it or that we shouldn't go ahead and complete the task is just dead wrong."

Cheney said the U.S.-led ouster of Saddam Hussein was the right move.

"The world is much safer today because of it," the vice president said. There have been three national elections in Iraq. There's a democracy established there, a constitution, a new democratically elected government. Saddam has been brought to justice and executed, his sons are dead, his government is gone. And the world is better off for it."

Cheney added that had Hussein been allowed to remain at the helm of Iraq, "he would, at this point, be engaged in a nuclear arms race with (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad, his blood enemy next door in Iran."

"There's problems, ongoing problems. But we have, in fact, accomplished our objectives of getting rid of the old regime, and there is a new regime in place that's been there for less than a year, far too soon for you guys to write them off," Cheney said.

Asked to describe the biggest mistake made by U.S. war planners, Cheney said: "I think we underestimated the extent to which 30 years of Saddam's rule had really hammered the population, especially the Shia population, into submissiveness. It's very hard for them to stand up and take responsibility, in part because anybody who's done that in the past have had their heads chopped off."

Asked about the pregnancy of his daughter Mary, who is in a relationship with a female partner, Cheney expressed irritation with his questioner.

"I'm delighted I'm about to have a sixth grandchild, Wolf," he said. "And, obviously, I think the world of both my daughters and all of my grandchildren. And I think, frankly, you're out of line with that question."

Yeah, Wolf, don't get out of line - Dick might take you quail hunting . . . .

Monday, January 22, 2007

Why Is This Not A Surprise?

This news today regarding Maher Arar does not surprise you, does it?? And, here's more . . . .

Al's Justice Department needs a lot of oversight from Pat Leahy & Co . . . .

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Friday, January 19, 2007

How Appropriate . . . .

Man with squirt gun warned outside Harper event

Updated Fri. Jan. 19 2007 7:18 PM ET

Canadian Press

METCHOSIN, B.C. -- A young man waving a penis-shaped squirt gun was warned Friday not to enter a building where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was about to speak.

A plainclothes member of Harper's security detail was overheard telling the youth it would not be advisable for him to enter the building with the squirt gun.

The red-faced youth walked away from the building followed by several friends.

Harper was at Pearson College, located about 25 kilometres west of Victoria, to announce his government's $1.5 billion renewable energy initiative.

It is not known if the young male was a student at Pearson College.

Prime Minister Harper speaks to the press on Friday.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

No comment . . . .

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Time to 'Fess Up, Al . . . .

Gonzales Testifies on Eavesdropping Changes (Compliments of the Washington Post)

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 -- Attorney General
Alberto R. Gonzalez was lectured on Capitol Hill today by senators who were only partly mollified by the Bush administration’s concession to allow judicial oversight of its electronic-eavesdropping program.

Let's hope this is only the first of many times Al is called upon to explain his actions to limit personal freedoms.

Real congressional oversight is going to be something this administration will - hopefully - have to get used to . . . .

UPDATE HERE to reveal the Canadian connection to this story. "You go, Pat Leahy!!"

The Bully Puts the Pressure On . . . .

According to an article on CBC News this morning, the US wants Canada to increase it's oil sands production in Alberta by five times. So, what's good for oil company profits in the US is horrible to the environment in Canada and elsewhere around the globe. No surprise here, eh? I'm sure mr. harper's "special relationship" with bushco had nothing to do with this . . . . .

U.S. urges 'fivefold expansion' in Alberta oilsands production

Last Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2007 | 6:31 AM ET

The U.S. wants Canada to dramatically expand its oil exports from the Alberta oilsands, a move that could have major implications on the environment.

U.S.and Canadian oil executives and government officials met for a two-day oil summit in Houston in January 2006 and made plans for a "fivefold expansion" in oilsands production in a relatively "short time span," according to minutes of the meeting obtained by the CBC's French-language network, Radio-Canada.

You can read the whole article here.

This should give Stephane Dion and Jack Layton something to ask mr. harper about.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Not a Typical Vancouver Winter . . . .

This winter's abnormal weather patterns have created a very different picture of Vancouver:

Apparently, the frigid temperatures are to remain most of this week.

Kind of makes us glad we're still here in Florida right now . . . . Let's hope we can continue to say that during the summer's dreaded "Three H's" . . . . (Heat, Humidity & Hurricanes)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

"Queerie" For You . . . .

Here's a question for you current and future Canadian Permanent Residents:

Are the CIC people in charge of assessing the applications for PR status
located in US visa offices - Seattle, Detroit, New York, etc. - citizens of the US or Canada?

I'm assuming they are Canadian citizens assigned to these offices, but does anyone have evidence of this?

Would it make a difference in their attitudes towards US citizens attempting to leave the US?

Any thoughts??

Border Patrol . . . .

This news from yesterday should do wonders to improve US/Canadian relations:

U.S. to begin drone patrols on Canadian border

POSTED: 12:42 p.m. EST, January 12, 2007

WINNIPEG, Manitoba
(AP) -- Unmanned surveillance aircraft will start patrolling the Canadian border by this fall, a Department of Homeland Security official said.

The propeller-driven drones, called Predators, will begin patrolling U.S. airspace along the border with Canada by September and will fly day and night, said Scott Baker, chief patrol agent of Customs and Border Protection, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

You can read the whole story here.

Wonder if all the folks like us that are attempting to cross the 49th Parallel had anything to do with this?? :)

Friday, January 12, 2007

"Condescending" Rice Gets Her Comeuppance . . . .

Looks like Condi had some splainin' to do . . . . It's about time!!

Rice, a Uniter of the Divided

By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 12, 2007; A01

Within minutes of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's arrival on Capitol Hill yesterday, it became apparent that the Bush administration had, after four divisive years, finally succeeded in uniting Congress on the war in Iraq.

Unfortunately for Rice, the lawmakers were unified in opposition to President Bush's new policy.

"I have to say, Madam Secretary," a seething Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) told Rice, "that I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."

"Madam Secretary," added Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, a moderate Democrat, "I have supported you and the administration on the war, and I cannot continue to support the administration's position. . . . I have not been told the truth over and over again."

"You're going to have to do a much better job," lectured Sen. George Voinovich, an Ohio Republican. "I've gone along with the president on this, and I bought into his dream, and at this stage of the game, I don't think it's going to happen."

It was a bipartisan scolding of the sort rarely seen in the Bush presidency, and Rice endured it, for the most part, with quiet indignation. She stared expressionlessly at her tormentors or looked down at the table, occasionally noting their complaints on a memo pad with her No. 2 pencil: "Crisis in the region . . . Iraqis killing Iraqis . . . Withdrawal." The oversized yellow leather chair at the witness table made Rice look small, and for much of the hearing she sat hunched, her hands clasped tightly in her lap. Only once did she betray her agitation by pounding her clasped hands to her thigh, out of the senators' view.

Rice tried not to be baited. A ferocious Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), noting that the childless Rice is not at risk of losing her own offspring in Iraq, displayed a 2005 quote from the secretary saying she had "no doubt" about a troop reduction in Iraq. "You had absolutely no doubt about how great it was going," Boxer said.

"Senator, let's not overstate the case," Rice soothed. "I don't think I said it was going great."

But ultimately, Rice could not avoid quarrels. Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, angrily condemned the "escalation" of the war. "To ask our young men and women to sacrifice their lives to be put in the middle of a civil war is . . . morally wrong. It's tactically, strategically, militarily wrong."

"I don't see it, and the president doesn't see it, as an escalation," Rice replied.

Hagel looked stunned. "Putting 22,000 new troops, more troops in, is not an escalation?"

"Escalation is not just a matter of how many numbers you put in," Rice ventured.

"Would you call it a decrease?" Hagel pressed.

"I would call it, Senator, an augmentation."

Rice rejected lawmakers' pleas to consider talks with Iran and Syria ("That's not diplomacy; that's extortion") and refused to promise that Bush would seek permission from Congress before attacking either country.

The senators reacted with a palpable fury. "I send letters out to the families and tell them about how brave their sons were and that the work they're doing there and the deaths were as important as what we had in the Second World War," Voinovich told Rice. "But I have to rewrite the letter today."

Rice had little with which to answer him. "I think that we don't have an option to fail in Iraq," she replied.

Voinovich glared from the dais.

The Foreign Relations panel is a murderers' row of political egos, with seven members who have contemplated 2008 presidential runs. But the frustration with Rice's answers had the salutary effect of breaking down party divisions. Democrat Chris Dodd (Conn.), who had just announced his presidential candidacy on "Imus in the Morning," gave a hug to Republican Hagel. Democrat Nelson praised Republican Norm Coleman (Minn.). Republican Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) concurred with Democrat Boxer. And Democrat Russ Feingold (Wis.) had only the warmest words for Hagel.

Some lawmakers wanted withdrawal from Iraq, others favored a bigger U.S. commitment, but most everybody saw Bush's plan as inadequate. "I hope you'll convey to the president," Chairman Joseph Biden (D-Del.) urged Rice, "that you heard 21 members, with one or two notable exceptions, expressing outright hostility, disagreement and/or overwhelming concern with the president's proposal."

Indeed, the lone lawmaker showing some sympathy was Republican Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who muddied his defense with an extended metaphor about gambling. He said Bush's speech Wednesday night made clear "this one is for all the marbles," and he advised Iraqis to heed "Kenny Rogers' old song, 'You got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em.' It's time for them to deliver on the hand that they've dealt."

But Barack Obama, for one, wasn't playing at Isakson's table. "This administration took a gamble," the Illinois Democrat said. "It appears that it has failed, and essentially the administration repeatedly has said we're doubling down."

There were demonstrators in the room: a woman from a left-wing group who applauded when Dodd labeled the Iraq policy "a fool's paradise," and a man who was led off by police shouting, "Lies! It's all lies!" But such heckling was redundant at a hearing in which more than a dozen senators vied for time to berate the witness. "Quite possibly the greatest foreign policy mistake in the history of our nation," Feingold proclaimed.

Less shrill but more powerful were the words of Bush's loyal supporters, who wore queasy looks as they challenged the new Iraq policy. Coleman rested his forehead on his hand, then asked Rice: "Why wouldn't it be wiser to hold the Iraqis to certain benchmarks?" John Sununu (R-N.H.) complained of a "refusal to share information." David Vitter (R-La.) judged: "Too little, maybe too late."

Even Murkowski, a junior senator who rarely breaks with the administration, joined in the denunciations. "You've clearly heard the skepticism that has been expressed this morning -- so many of my colleagues, and for good reason, skepticism about a lot of things," she said. The Alaskan spoke of her "great concern" that the United States is now in "a situation that I had hoped we would not be in."

Murkowski pleaded with Rice for assurances "that this is going to yield us a better result, a different result than what we have seen in the past."

Rice could offer none. "Senator," she said, "there aren't any guarantees."

Maybe mr. bush has finally delivered on his promise of being a "uniter, not a divider" after all . . . . Too bad he had to do it like this.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The "decider's" Decision? ? ? ?

A commentator on NPR yesterday stated the bush administration doesn't do much "in-house" policy making. (Good thing, considering who's "in-house"!)

He also said the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute formulates many of bush's programs.

With that in mind, won't it be interesting to compare the decider's Iraq plan next week with what this outfit says should be done?

Here's their plan.

Let's see how close shrub follows his privatized idea factory's plan . . . .

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year and Congrats . . . . .

A blog "drf" follows regularly, and I am about to "dig" into is Loud Murmurs . . . These folks just got their PR status last week, and are already living in our future home of Vancouver.

Congratulations, and here's hoping the rest of us awaiting word will be in the same situation soon.

Let's put out those positive vibes to the universe that 2007 will be the year lots more of us join the group who have already "crossed over" . . . . .

In the meantime, here's the first sunset of 2007 from "the dock on the bay" here in Florida.

Happy New Year, Ya'll . . . . .