Friday, December 26, 2008

Futility for the Holidays: The Detroit Lions

Since I was born in Windsor, Ontario [across the river from Detroit, Michigan] I have been a Detroit sports fan all my life [with the notable exception of hockey, where my loyalty lies with (sigh) the Toronto Maple Leafs].
Since 1966 [when I became an active sports fan] the Lions have veered between a marginal playoff team and contenders for an early pick in the NFL draft. Unfortunately, more often the latter than the former. They have never been thought of as a serious Super Bowl team. This year they are on the brink of seizing the title of "The Worst NFL Team of All Time". They are one loss away from a perfect oh and sixteen record. The last game is in Green Bay against the less than stellar Packers. The Lions have not won in Green Bay in seventeen years.
Thinking about this team and these turbulent times, shows how crucial good management can be for the success of any enterprise or government. The Lions have an owner [William Clay Ford]who is deeply loyal to his managers, but is a terrible judge of people. He is also not very bright or passionate about his teams on field success. The former GM, Matt Millen, seemed to be a younger version of the owner. He was louder and more passionate about what he was doing. He just did not know how to select good football people, either coaches or players. His last coach, Rod Marinelli, is the worst of the worst. He is utterly out of his depth as a head football coach. He is loyal to his assistants and players [that are loyal to him], no matter how poorly they perform, and is utterly inflexible in his approach and planning. If you can, imagine what George W. Bush would be like as a head coach of an NFL team. I happened to listen to a Detroit sports radio show and the discussion was whether Marinelli should be fired. A caller made a great case that he should be kept on until they WON a game. Yes, until he actually won a game. This was about half way through the season and this caller wanted Marinelli to be the coach of record if the 2008 Detroit Lions went 0-16. This view became pretty common in the Detroit area. Now that we are at 0-15 this will most likely be Rod Marinelli's last game as a head coach. Unless, Mr. Ford does the unthinkable [for others] and retains Marinelli. Part of me hopes he does. That will make it possible for me to finally give up on this team and find a franchise that actually cares about winning.
A week or so ago, I became somewhat optimistic that things would change with the Lions in 2009. New GM, new coach, new staff, first pick in the draft, and a good housecleaning might actually point the way to a better future. Now, I'm not so sure. The owner will always be the same and the franchise will never change while he is still the leader.
I will probably watch the last game this Sunday. I hope they win, but a win will be no cause for celebration. The celebration will be in the off season, if changes are made.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Democracy in Action and the Pundits Recoil

So, it takes the biggest political crisis of my lifetime [born 1957] for the corporate media and their mercenary mouthpieces to display their true colours. The last four days or so I have been watching and reading various Canadian media regarding the potential replacement of the Cons with the Coalition. I won't bore you with the reasons for this upheaval, but a few story lines have been actively promoted by our free press:

1. Mr. Harper, with some help from a couple of his sleazier acolytes [Flaherty], is without a doubt the cause of this whole mess.
2. Mr. Harper and the Cons are still the best choice to effectively govern Canada. Nevermind that they refuse to do anything regarding an economic stimulus package until it is too late.
3. Mr. Dion is not fit to be PM. He was 'rejected' by the public at the last election. Nevermind that in our system we don't elect the PM or that the Liberals finished second in number of seats, or that the Cons are not a majority.
4. The NDP are socialists and will turn this country into a socialist country. Nevermind that we are a socialist country already and so is all of Europe and a lot of the rest of the world.
5. The Bloc will be calling the shots and will destroy Canada. Nevermind that they will not take part in the government and have only pledged to vote for it for eighteen months or so. And see below from a Globe and Mail forum with Globe editorial board editor[Dec. 2, 2008];

Richard Stanczak from Corunna, Ontario Canada writes: Mr. Geiger, there has been much bashing of the potential support of the coalition by the Bloc in the media. Some of the imagery used, by the Globe and Mail in particular, is outright fear mongering. The Bloc MPs have been elected by Canadian citizens who felt they were the best representatives to serve their interests. I believe they are required to take an oath of office which [must] require allegiance to the country and its institutions. My question is, why is the media so bent on attacking the Bloc MPs and assigning the worse possible motives for their support of the coalition? Do you not think it is possible that they see their constituents in trouble and are trying to act in their best interests? Would you not expect all MPs, no matter what party, to act that way?
John Geiger: Perhaps. But at the end of the day the Bloc MPs are committed to the destruction of Canada. We cannot escape that fact, nor can we gloss over it. Mr. Duceppe is an effective politician, and he clearly satisfies some constituency within Quebec, but lets not pretend that he has the interests of the country at heart. He is not the man we should turn to as the saviour of Canada. He sincerely believes he has the interests of Quebec at heart. That is where the matter ends.

Indeed. Uhh, first off the Bloc wants to separate Canada through the democratic process. You know, by voting. That hardly merits the term, 'destruction of Canada'. Second, Mr. Geiger displays his uncanny ability to read minds, specifically Mr. Duceppe's. And lastly, he is not the saviour of Canada. He is not even in the government. He is only voting with the coalition. Mr. Geiger and the rest of the media horde seem to think that Mr. Duceppe is the real leader of this coalition. Why do they think that? Don't expect an answer.

The Globe and Mail, CTV, Rex Murphy of CBC, Andrew Coyne of MacLeans, and many others have been in full howl over the unfairness, the stupidity, the illegal, and the undemocratic nature of this coalition. It appears that their option of choice is to allow Mr. Harper to have another go at it. Presumably chastened by his brush with political suicide. Although they refuse to come out and say this. They heap such scorn on the coalition without offerring an alternative, that one can only surmise that they think Mr. Harper, a kinder gentler Harper, will behave and govern Canada responsibly.

Personally, I don't think we can take that chance. Toss Mr. Harper and his fellow trolls into the opposition for a spell. I don't think the coalition can do any worse.

UPDATE: I am starting to hear a lot of talk about Mr. Harper resigning, and maybe taking Flaherty with him, if the coalition will allow the Cons to stay as the government.

Great, just what Canada needs. An Albertan Putin pulling the strings of his appointed puppet.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Obama and the 46.4% Problem

My early prediction for the US election was McCain over Obama in a squeaker. Possibly closer than the 2000 election. Why? I did not feel that a significant portion of Americans could get over Obama's 'uniqueness' to cast a vote for him. I mean, he was different from any previous president. His name was strange, unAmerican even. Uhh, alright already. Enough whites would not vote for him because he is not white.
But they did. Why? Enough Americans, especially white Americans, realized that their country was in dire straits. You name it, its a disaster:economy, deficit, two wars, environment, education system, justice system, competent government, constitutional freedoms, foreign relations, etc.
The Bush/Cheney/Republican managed to screw up everything they touched in eight years. Now, the electorate had a look at who they were going to trust to get them out of this horrendous mess and by the landslide margin of six per cent of the voting population chose Obama.
Think about that for a second or a minute. After a disastrously incompetent campaign [I hope I don't have to list all the blunders here] with a national joke for a VP, defending the worst President in US history, and including some of the most poorly timed news events possible, McCain still received 46.4% of the popular vote. FORTY-SIX POINT FOUR PER CENT!
And this while running against a candidate who may be one of the finest speakers in presidential history, running a very well organized, very well financed, relatively fault free campaign. Who is also the leader of the 'majority' party. Who also received a huge number of high level endorsements from all across the political spectrum including numerous Republicans. Still FORTY-SIX POINT FOUR PER CENT of Americans decided the old, crooked, lying, angry, Republican, dumb white guy who championed the same policies that got them into the two wars and financial crisis was the right guy to lead the country out of this mess.

If that doesn't scare the hell out of all Americans [and the world] , it should.

Enough Americans put aside their fears and prejudices to give their country a chance. I hope Americans, especially Democrats, don't become complacent and think that everything has changed. They have a lot of work ahead of them to defeat the forces of ignorance, who unfortunately will be heard from very shortly [2010 if not sooner].

Best wishes to Barack Obama and the people of the United States.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

November 2008 Update

Its been awhile since I last posted, and strangely, during a time when elections were held in Canada and the US that I followed quite closely. Frankly, I did not write because I was depressed and dreaded the outcomes that I believed were about to occur. In short:

Canada- we had an election about nothing. It was very unlikely anything would change. The accomplishments of this election? Stephane Dion was thrashed as the Liberal leader, the Greens got some much needed airtime and a few hundred thousand more votes, and Harper was further exposed as an opportunistic Bush lite clone. Some people are upset about the waste of energy, money, and time on this election about nothing [philosophically I believe that any practice of our democratic rights is worthwhile], which probably led to the embarrassingly low turnout.
Oh, in case you missed it, NOTHING CHANGED.

US- this was the one I was dreading. Americans were presented with a choice between their past [that would be McCain] and their future[that one]. I fully expected the outstanding qualities of Barack Obama to get buried by an avalanche of sleaze and racism and the US would sink ever lower towards a third world style society: ie. disappearing middle class, tremendously wealthy elite, unbelieveable poverty, increasingly ignorant and uneducated citizenry, and a growing military and police state.
Oh, in case you missed it, SOMETHING CHANGED.

I'll post more about the American election later.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Timeless [and Timely] Video

The great, and in this video very young, Elvis Costello with one of my favourites, "Whats so Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding?".

This video was made in Vancouver, where else but in BC would you see those carved poles?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Smartest Thing George Carlin Ever Said

Carlin on ignorance: Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.
YouTube - George Carlin-some people are stupid
WARNING: The above video is full of some of the seven words you can't say on TV. Some might find it offensive. I am not sure why, because it is very funny.

The genius of George Carlin was to identify and then encapsulate in a punch line some of the greatest truths of history.

This comment really hits home for me because it is one of the primary reasons for the mess the world seems to be sinking into. The intellectual laziness of people, and the willingness to accept whatever is fed us by the media, governments, and yes, the internet has allowed the worst type of people to flourish and important issues to be trivialized.

Reminds me of the words of another well known observer of the human condition and Irish descendant;

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.

The last line of this first stanza sums it up perfectly.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lift My Spirit Video

I watched this video a couple of times and I enjoyed it so much I wanted to make sure I could find it whenever I wanted.

A great pick me up!

Crooks and Liars » Open Thread

Monday, May 05, 2008

Great Moments in Journalism - Take 4

The New York Times has just broken another Michael R. Gordon Middle East expose.

Hezbollah Trains Iraqis in Iran, Officials Say

Yesterday -A U.S. official said the account of Hezbollah’s role was provided by militia members who were captured in Iraq.

» Full Story on New York Times

As anyone familiar with Mr. Gordon's work can see, the title covers the meat of the story pretty effectively. Mr. Gordon, with the able assistance of his editors and the NY Times, smears and ties together Iraqi insurgents, Hezbollah, and Iran in one simple story. A hat trick, us hockey crazed Canucks might say. And, as usual, all on the inside information provided by...wait for it... unnamed US government officials!

Before war is declared on Iran, a few questions might be in order;

Who are the sources? Are they the same guys who passed on the previous false information for Mr. Gordon and Ms. Miller? Why can't you name them?
Who are the editors? The same enablers who have blindly approved the previous stories?

And finally, don't you ever learn?

I must admit to being surprised that the 'sources' did not try to sneak in a few more of the bad guys du jour like al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Syria. Perhaps the Times and the sources thought that might be a little over the top for the increasingly cynical audience they are trying to influence? Or sadly, they may be in the follow up to this travesty.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Who are the Taliban? Talking to the Taliban

Finally, a mainstream media company practices some real journalism. On a topic of critical importance to Canadian citizens. I have read and watched the first two installments, link to the image above, and strongly encourage everyone else to.

Perhaps if we understand these people a little more we can bring ourselves to understand why we are in Afghanistan, and how this mission might be ended.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Talkin' Bout Afghanistan

As part of my ongoing personal campaign to get Canada out of Afghanistan, I have spoken to numerous [over two dozen] people in various settings over the last few weeks. Not once have I had a person defend or promote the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. In fact, most people seem to be more against it than I am. At least a third claim they were against it from the outset.

These people range in age from early twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and seventies. This is by no means a representative sample as they are all from Southern Ontario and probably skew a little high when it comes to income and education.

A common thread of their unhappiness is that we were snookered/strong armed into this mission by the US. Primarily, to cover their withdrawal to attack Iraq.

There is also a resignation that with the Conservatives or Liberals [or a combination of them] in the drivers seat, that we will never leave unless the Afghans chase us out.

The discussions I have had have been surprisingly emotional [for Canadians] and have actually lifted my spirits regarding a change in policy. I will continue to raise the issue as often as possible and hope that other Canadians are doing the same.

NOTE: With that in mind I have linked to a couple of Canadian Anti-Mission Blogs in my Links
List. Check them out.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

End The Occupation of Afghanistan


Thats how I end every comment or letter that I send to the Globe and Mail regarding Canada's involvement in the slowly developing fiasco that is Afghanistan. Unfortunately, that is not likely to happen. This is really a two party war with the then majority Liberals [definitely not small l] getting us in it [Thank you Paul Martin], and the now minority Conservatives [sort of small c] vowing to keep us there. The recent commission led by former Deputy Prime Minister Manley of the Liberals supplied the two 'governing' parties with enough cover to allow them to con the press and the people that we should stay. For any American readers, think of your VP Dick Cheney as chairman of a committee that investigates the invasion of Iraq. Can you say 'snow job'?

I doubt that the often promised election will change anything. The parties that are adamant about ending the mission [NDP, Bloc, Green] are too small and marginalized to be able to get the popular support to elect the MPs necessary. And lets face it, the issue is just not important enough to Canadians that a majority will vote against a candidate just for his position on Afghanistan. Even though in poll after poll over 50% of Canadians want the mission ended.

Personally, I plan to continue to push through letters and emails that we must end our occupation in February 2009. I will also continue to bring up the issue in conversation with anyone, and if there is an election soon, ask the question publicly how the candidates stand on our occupation of Afghanistan.

Hopefully, I can embarrass enough voters to make this a key voting decision. I'll even use the lame reasoning about the cost in dollars to us poor downtrodden taxpayers. Forget the loss of soldiers lives, forget the loss of Afghan lives, forget the sheer immorality of forcing our 'way of life' on an independent people and occupying their land for years to ensure the survival of a corrupt, non-representative government.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Harnessing Bloggers for the Greater Good

Today I read an opinion piece in the NY Times by Mr. R. Klain [Speaking Truth Without Power - Campaign Stops - 2008 Elections - Opinion - New York Times Blog] which deals with the lack of impact by progressive blogs on the Democratic primary. Well, sort of.
I'll skip the bulk of his article and get to his last line where he bemoans the fact that
"the leading Democratic candidates still have a long way to go before they harness these strong voices for their campaigns."
I think Mr. Klain [I hope its not a nom de plume for Joe Klein] misses the point of blogs in general. Bloggers highly value their independence from particular candidates and organizations. They arose primarily because of the frustration that previous candidates and organizations were acting contrary to what they had campaigned for, and had been supported for, which actions were in general anti-progressive. Finding absolutely no outlet in the mainstream media to be heard, thanks largely to the submission of the press to the powers that be, the internet was used to protest and then galvanize opposition to the anti-progressives.
Based on that history and the general mind set of progressive bloggers, there will be great resistance to be 'harnessed' for a candidate or the Democratic party. I think you have seen how that worked out for conservatives vis a vis George W. Bush and the Republican party in general.
But Mr. Klain and the MSM and the other hierarchies cannot comprehend that. I think Captain America sums it up best below from the classic Marvel Comic Daredevil #233 by Frank Miller:

[Click to expand. Unless you have great eyesight.]

Monday, January 07, 2008

Hummer, Why I hate thee.

While driving in and around Ottawa this weekend, I drove past a couple of Hummers. I could feel my blood pressure rise and my teeth grind. There is just something about those vehicles that puts me over the edge. "Why is that?", I asked aloud, receiving looks of resignation from my wife and youngest daughter as my pathological dislike of Hummers is widely known. To their relief I went over the arguments in my mind, with only the odd snort or snarl to acknowledge that my thought process was continuing.

The Hummer. It is a big, grotesque, ugly, overweight gas guzzler. It is the anti-hybrid. A vehicle born from the womb of the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned about in 1960. It is everything that is wrong with the North American car industry, and by extension the United States of America. You know, 'Whats good for GM is good for ....'.

Countries can be defined by the vehicle they produce or hold up as an icon:

England- the Mini or the Jaguar. Overpriced, yet classy and prestigious.
Japan- Honda Civic. High quality, mid priced, and dependable in the long term.
Germany- Mercedes Benz. Expensive, well made and a status symbol.
Sweden- Volvo. Safe, expensive, reliable, and did I say safe?
South Korea- Hyundai. Compact, inexpensive, yet reasonable as far as operating reliability goes,
Russia- Lada. Cheap, low tech, proletarian.
East Europe- Yugo. See above.
Brazil- Volkswagon Bugs. Not sure if they still make them here. Cheap, reliable, accessible, and fun.
Canada- we will take credit for the minivan. We make a lot of them here and we sure drive enough of them. Roomy, good for camping, mid priced, family friendly.

Now the U.S.- The Hummer. A Jeep on steroids. Hugely over priced. Ridiculous operating costs. Butt ugly. Gargantuan. In fact it doesn't appear to be that roomy. Even though it takes up a lane and a half of a city street, not to mention two parking spots. Can't see over it. Can't see around it.
It is the ultimate 'Look at me and what a big raging ass I am and I don't give a damn what you think because I got mine buddy.' kind of vehicle. Its the kind of vehicle that people with more money than brains lust after.

The Hummer is like US foreign policy; intrusive, domineering, wasteful, over tech, and in the end a failure. It is no surprise that this vehicle was originally built for the army. It may work on the battlefield, but why apply it to a civilian environment?

I believe that if all Hummers [with or without their owners] disappeared into a black hole tomorrow, the world would be a better place.

Thanks, I needed to get that off my chest.