November 9, 2006

Staying The Course

As of right now, Allen (R) has not yet conceded in Virginia, delaying the final election results. Most news networks are calling it for Webb (D), which would give Democrats a majority in both houses of Congress.

In related news, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resigns. I'm currently listening to Bob Woodward's State of Denial on Audiobook, so this news is especially interesting to me.

The book describes Rumsfeld as a man who helped mastermind the Iraq invasion, took charge of the military, was unable to delegate responsibilities, ignored advice from generals and intelligence experts, and was a generally unpleasant guy. I can't say I'll miss him much.

08:27 | America , Politics | Comments (0)

November 8, 2006

Election Roundup

As of right now, the Democrats have taken the House of Representatives, six governorships and are tied with the Republicans for the Senate.

MSNBC has a roundup of vote issues and irregularities. Issues ranged from illegally requiring photo ID, to poll workers not knowing how to turn the voting machines on. Fortunately, it looks like most counties with voting machines were able to use backup paper ballots to minimize wait times. Good job!

Speaking of the reliability of voting machines, Florida Secretary of State Sue Cobb is more optimistic than I:

History has shown that the machines are far more accurate than paper so we're quite confident in it. There is absolutely no reason to believe that there will be any security issues, any hacking going on.

07:41 | America , Politics | Comments (1)

November 7, 2006


If you're one of my American readers and you haven't already, go out and vote!

If you're not American, be prepared to be inundated with news reports about voting irregularities for days to come. Looks like some states are off to a great start. Keep in mind that this is the country that wants to bring democracy to Iraq.

08:00 | America , Politics | Comments (0)

October 3, 2006

Hypocrite Of The Worst Kind

"It's vile. It's more sad than anything else -- to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain."

Mark Foley, about Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct (from DailyKos)

07:51 | America , Politics , Quotes | Comments (0)

September 7, 2006

Everyone Knows Mr. Ed

You know what pisses me off? In a time where the US has wars in two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), are posturing themselves for a third (Iran), where the administration's policies are being criticized (warantless wiretapping, torture, rendition, to name a few), where reconstruction of New Orleans, a year after Hurricane Katrina, is stalled, and an election is less than a month two months away, the most pressing issues for the House of Representatives to debate is that of Horse slaughter?! Just ask Rep. John Sweeney, R-NY why he thinks this issue should take the spotlight:

Everyone knows who Mr. Ed, Secretariat and Silver are. I dare anyone to name a list of famous cattle or chickens... They are American icons that deserve to be treated as such. Would we ever think of slaughtering and serving a bald eagle in this country? The same should be true of the horse.

Personally, I would think America's elected representatives would be more concerned with the 2658 American dead in Iraq than the three horse slaughterhouses in the US.

Update: The bill passed the House. Another choice quote, this time from Representative Nick Rahall, D-WV:

Horses are part of our identity and heritage... yet the merchants of slaughter will have us believe that is fine and dandy to slaughter our horses for the sole purpose, the sole purpose, of sending their flesh overseas to support some warped demand among foreign diners for horse meat.

"Merchants of slaughter"? Well, I guess that's technically accurate, but "warped demand"? Personally, I've eaten horse meat, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Take that, Seabiscuit!

Here's a fun game: substitute Rahall for the name of a member of the Indian parliament, and the word "horse" for "cow". Or maybe a member of the Knesset decrying other nations eating Israeli-farmed pork?

Update 2: Looks like the Washington Post is just as appalled with the House's ridiculous priorities.

01:09 | America , Politics | Comments (2)

September 2, 2006

Chris' Guide To The Washington Primaries

Primary elections are coming to Washington. For those who aren't intimate with the American electoral system, a primary is a vote between party members to decide who will be the candidate for a particular position. That person will then run against the other party's primary winner for the seat in question. I would like to offer this guide out the primary candidates running for United States Senator for the Evergreen State, based on their primary pamphlet profiles.

The Democrats
Michael "Goodspaceguy" Nelson

Nelson is in favour of abolishing war on Earth with world-wide free trade, although is light on details on how this can be achieved. He is also in favour of eradicating homelessness though abolishing the minimum wage and establishing a head tax. Oh, and he wants to spend the state's tax money on space colonization.

Strong point: He has a blog.
Weak point: He's a total nutjob.
Best quote: "Unfortunately, much of our space money has been wasted. It is as if our leaders have not been educated in orbital space colonization."

Michael "The Mover"

The Mover is in favour of putting Saddam Hussein back in control of Iraq, and letting the Iraqi army patrol the borders. He assures us that this will lead to cheap, plentiful oil for America. He is against British Columbia dumping their sewage into the Straits of Juan de Fuca, threatens to wage war with Canada to stop it, and calls the Queen of England, the "Queen of Pigs".

Strong point: He is willing to fight Senator Ted "Series of tubes" Stevens.
Weak point: Has loose grasp on foreign relations, reality.
Best quote: "Listen to the thunder, hear the Governor roar; Mike the Mover's loose again, and knocking at the door!"

Mohammad H. Said

Said claims all Muslim aggression towards America (including the 9/11 attacks) are due to America's support for Israel. He then sums up the last 600 years of Middle Eastern history. Not much of substance besides that.

Strong point: Sure knows his Middle Eastern history, which is more than I can say for most US Senators.
Weak point: Has little to say besides how evil America's support for Israel is.
Best quote: "This is the answer to all this conflict, a One State Solution where all Semitic people (descendants from Patriarch Abraham), Jews and Arabs (Christians, Jews and Muslims) can live in a secular state like us."

Hong Tran

A refugee of the Viet Nam war, Tran claims to be the only Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate calling for the quick withdrawal of troops from Iraq, which is verifiably untrue. In fact, she's not even the only Washington candidate calling for a quick withdrawal. Besides that, she's in favour of universal health care, protecting civil liberties, and is willing to stand up to the Bush administration.

Strong point: Solid Democratic policies.
Weak point: Really should check her facts before claiming to be the "only Democratic candidate calling for <blank>".
Best quote: "I am the only Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate calling for a repeal of The Patriot Act and an end to the trade policies sending good jobs overseas."

Maria Cantwell

Cantwell is the incumbent senator, and calls for a quick withdrawl of troops from Iraq. She has also stood up to the Bush administration on issues like privatizing Social Security, funding for No Child Left Behind, and increasing energy rates.

Strong point: Incument senators enjoy at 90% reelection rate.
Weak point: Talks a lot about what she accomplished, not much detail about what she will do if reelected.
Best quote: "I'm working to preserve our quality of life and stand up for our Northwest values."

The Republicans
Mike McGavick

McGavick longs for the days when the Senate "actually produced results". He is against deficit spending, in favour implementing of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, and securing borders.

Strong point: Acknowledges Senate partisanship and is willing to work to produce results.
Weak point: Is willing to "make hard choices", but not tell us what these hard choices are.
Best quote: "While the Senate is gridlocked by partisanship, our problems get worse. They have closed their minds and hearts. But it hasn't always been this way."

Brad Klippert

A full-time law enforcement officer, and pilot in the National Guard, Klippert believes in being tough on crime, a strong military, and outlawing gay marriage. Klippert also stands for American self reliance, (not reducing dependence on oil per se, rather dependence on foreign oil), fiscal responsibility, and the Pro-Life stance.

Strong point: Clear on what he believes in.
Weak point: Likens his point of view with those of Dr Martin Luther King. Clearly Klippert has a high opinion of himself.
Best quote: "Like the five brave men on flight 93, join me now as I stand up and step forward to make a positive difference!"

William Edward Chovil

A self-proclaimed expert on government, Chovil is staunchly anti-communism and anti-socialism, and proudly pro-Americanism. His profile asks a lot of questions ("Do you want school vouchers to help your children attend the school of their choice?") while cleverly skirting how he would answer them, prompting me to ask whether he's asking them rhetorically, or sarcastically.

Strong point: Pro-Americanism.
Weak point: Doesn't realize the Cold War is over.
Best quote: "If you believe America can do better with more National and Global Communism and Socialism and less Americanism I can't help you."

Gordon Allen Pross

Pross is a man who likes numbers. He had the uncanny ability to reduce complicated issues like tax reform to analogies involving pennies. This simplification allows him to explain that only one tax is needed to pay for all of America's important programs (healthcare, education, career track and paid vacations), and that tax is: tithing! 10% of everyone's net worth should be the only tax anyone ever pays. Plus, he has found the solution to campaign reform: a rounding error!

Strong point: So patriotic, can't say the word "cent" without prefixing it with the word "Lincoln".
Weak point: Clearly has no idea what he's talking about.
Best quote: "Now Washingtonians' Vote justifiably abolishes censored auctions for public office. Washingtonians' Proudly Resurrecting Sparks of Deity for First Amendment Primaries!"

Warren E. Hanson

Hanson starts off his spiel pretty bleakly. Immigration, both legal and illegal, has caused almost unsolvable problems. He wants stronger borders, citizenship for the US-born only, felonies for illegal workers and English as the national language. He also takes pride in his physical strength and stamina.

Strong point: The issues he wants to tackle are clearly important in the state of Washington.
Weak point: I guess I'm biased, being an immigrant worker, but I'd have to say he certainly borders on xenophobia.
Best quote: "For my years I am in excellent health and quite strong (BP ˜ 118/66 – no addictions)."

B. Barry Massoudi

Massoudi loves America and hates deficits. He believes that "each single issue can be solved easily with American ingenuity and perseverance". Although I appreciate his optimism, I have no idea what that statement means.

Strong point: Damn, he loves America.
Weak point: A little naive in thinking that the world believes "U.S. global leadership, power, and influence are trusted as a force for good".
Best quote: "The United States is the greatest and freest country on earth."

I hope this guide has been helpful, illuminating, and didn't crush your belief in the democratic process too badly.

10:33 | America , Politics | Comments (1)

July 6, 2006

Birthday Gifts For W

Prime Minister Harper will be presenting President Bush with some authentic Canadiana for his 60th birthday, in the form of a belt buckle and a genuine Mountie Stetson.

These gifts will probably be more appreciated than former PM Martin's gift of an Inuit sculpture, valued at $350, or Chrétien's fantastic wooden pen rest, valued at approximitely $20.

Wow, a pen rest... I wonder if Jean forgot it was George's birthday and picked it up at the airport.

00:26 | America , Canada , Politics | Comments (0)

June 28, 2006

The Most Important Issue

The Washington Post put this question to the US Senators who voted for the proposed flag-desecration amendment : Is this most important issue facing the nation?

"I don't think anybody would say it's the most important,": Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.).

"No, no, not even close,": Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.)

"Ha, ha, ha,": Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.).

"This is the day we're dealing with it,": Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

"It's not a burning issue,": Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.).

"You know, it's interesting, in terms of the question of why, why, why now... Is it important? You bet it's important,": Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)

"I think we have some misplaced priorities...I don't think it's the right time to bring up the issue... I'll vote for it,": Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

"I'm not going to put it 'the most important,'": Norm Coleman (R-Minn.).

"I wouldn't call it the most pressing,": John Cornyn (R-Tex.).

And Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the author of the amendment:
"In my opinion, there's nothing that would supersede this in importance."

My tax dollars at work.

07:32 | America , Politics | Comments (0)

June 19, 2006

Money Where Your Mouth Is

Yeah, I know I haven't been blogging much lately. Hopefully this video will appease the masses until my "blogger's block" goes away.

Georgia Representative Lynn Westmoreland, a Congressman who co-sponsored a bill to require the display of the Ten Commandments in the House of Representatives and the Senate is asked by Stephen Colbert to name the Ten Commandments. He only gets two.

07:34 | America , Politics | Comments (1)

May 8, 2006

Bush's Best Moment

When asked by the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag what was his best moment since he became president, Bush replied "I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound (3.402 kilos) perch in my lake,"(link).

For once, I agree with the president.

Curious how other presidents answered? Check out Carter and Clinton's responses here (note, neither of them involve catching big fish in a stocked pond).

16:13 | America , Politics | Comments (0)

May 3, 2006

Nuestro Himno

On Monday there were numerous demonstrations across the country by immigrant workers protesting the proposal of a new immigration bill. In time for the protests, a Spanish-language version of the American National Anthem was released to the airwaves. President Bush's reaction to the song was less than supportive:

"I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English"

If that's the case, then I guess the US Government should update their web pages to remove not one, but four Spanish versions of The Star Spangled Banner.

Although I agree that knowledge of the English language is an important skill to have if one wants to live in the United States, I don't agree with people who take offense at a Spanish (or any other language) version of the national anthem, considering the United States (unlike most countries) has no official language. One can imagine any politician proposing an English-only America kissing Hispanic votes goodbye.

07:48 | America , Politics | Comments (1)

January 24, 2006

Prime Minister Harper

As expected, the Conservative Party of Canada won a minority government. I'm proud that almost 65% of voters participated, up from 2004. I'll be really interested in following Canadian politics during this term, considering the Conservatives will have to make nice with the other, more leftist, parties. Also, the Conservatives didn't get a clear mandate from the people. In fact, according to this CBC poll, most Canadians who voted for the Conservatives did so for a change, not because they support a right-of-center agenda.

I was glad to hear how the NDP made big gains and glad that the Greens got over 4% of the popular vote (although no seats), although I am a little dismayed how skewed our riding system is. Le Bloc got about 10% of the popular vote and 17% of the House's seats, while the NDP got about 17% of the popular vote, and only 9% of the seats.

I am also glad to hear that Paul Martin is resigning as head of the Liberal Party. Not that I disliked him, in fact, I felt he get dealt a losing hand when he won the leadership after Chrétien's resignation. But I think the party needs to be cleansed before people (in particular, me) can trust it again.

Overall, I think it's going to be ok until the next election. I give it 2 years tops.

For those interested, full election results can be found here.

21:52 | Canada , Politics | Comments (2)

January 21, 2006

Get Your Vote On

So which one of these fine fine parties did I vote for? Considering I have an equal amount of confidence in each of them (none), it was a tough choice. So I took the advice of a good friend of mine, and voted for the NDP. To paraphrase her advice, although the NDP won't win enough votes to form a government, having a strong NDP presence in Parliament is important to ensure social programs get enough attention. I don't agree with their fiscal policies, but I do like their focus on social programs. Also, it's a way of registering a complaint against the Liberals and Conservatives, who stand the best chance of actually winning.

Unlike here in the US, where a vote for a third party during the presidential elections is essentially a symbolic protest (yes, some would argue that it sends a message, just not a very loud one), a vote for the NDP, knowing full well they won't win makes more of a difference since they win seats.

For those of you so disillusioned with the prospects you're considering not voting, may I recommend you consider some of the smaller parties (NDP, Green or independents). That way you're sending the message that you're unhappy with the way things are. By not voting, you're not sending any message at all.

If that didn't convince you to vote, consider this: Canadian voter participation has been dropping steadily for over a decade, hitting less than 61% in 2004. In the 2004 US presidential elections, voter turnout was 64% up from 60% in 2000. We don't want a lower voter turnout than the Americans, do we? Get out and vote!

17:05 | Canada , Politics | Comments (2)

January 17, 2006

If You Don't Mind, Please Rock The Vote

Today I dropped off my absentee ballot for the upcoming Canadian election. Living in the US, and not being able to watch CBC, I had to base my judgment on something less typical: I read the party platforms.

I made up a table of the issues I cared about and each of the four parties' stances. The parties are (in alphabetical order): The Conservatives, The Greens, The Liberals and The New Democrats. If Le Bloc Québécois were running outside of Québec, I would have read their platform too.

In case any of you care about my crack-pot political views, read on. For those of you whose eyes have glazed over already, maybe you'd prefer something a little less serious.

So here goes (note, I'm only highlighting the issues most relevant to me. This list is far from exhaustive):

The Conservatives

The Good
Reform our currently appointed-for-life Senate, more money for R&D, support for the Council of the Federation, increase the size of our pitiful Armed Forces, fixed federal election dates.
The Bad
Another vote on the legality of gay marriage, cutting the GST instead of income taxes, halt plans for the decriminalization of marijuana.
The Ugly
A hidden right-wing social agenda. Harper's speech praising the US's conservative administration makes me suspicious.

The Greens
The Good
Environment first, lower taxes for lowest income bracket, a focus on preventative health care, investment in public transportation and alternative renewable fuels, focus on "green collar" jobs.
The Bad
A vague commitment to "Recognize a clear result to a clear question in the event of a future Québec referendum".
The Ugly
The Greens strike me as a local chapter of a world-wide organization, and not a Canadian party for Canadians. As such, I found Canadian issues, like national unity, health care, defence all took a back seat to environmental issues.
The Liberals
The Good
Good economic and job-creation record, R&D investment, enforcement of Canada's northern sovereignty, beefing up the armed forces, ban the weaponization of space,
The Bad
A platform full of "Look how great a job we did, and we swear there won't be any more scandals. Scout's honour.", no criminal prosecution for those that embezzeled hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars, no mention of marijuana decriminalization.
The Ugly
Sorry, I just don't trust these guys anymore.
The Good
More money for social programs, tax cuts for lowest income bracket, armed border guards (duh!), more money for public transportation, stronger provincial rights, fixed election dates, laws to restrict lobby groups, refocus the Armed Forces for peacekeeping missions, "Fair-trade" not Free-trade, money for the arts, money for the environment, national prescription drug plan.
The Bad
Repeal Liberal tax cuts. So that's how we are going to pay for this platform?
The Ugly
Knowing they won't form a government allows the NDP to make pie-in-the-sky promises, without having to deliver.

So who did I vote for? Sorry, you'll have to wait for my next blog entry.

23:56 | Canada , Politics | Comments (3)

October 6, 2005

Torture: The Pros And Cons

I don't know what sounds worse, the headline "Senate votes to ban torture" or the fact that President Bush is threatening to veto it.

08:20 | America , Politics | Comments (0)

September 21, 2005

Move Over Osama, Paris Hilton Is Next

The FBI is now recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad as part of the Bush Administration's War on Porn.

Yes, you read that correctly. It appears that the War on Terror is going so well for the Bush Administration, that they can afford to put agents onto this new squad that targets - not illigal child pornography - but the legal hardcore kind.

The priorities of this administration never cease to amaze me.

08:05 | America , Politics | Comments (0)

August 22, 2005

Margarine of Colour Unite!

Remember Québec's ban on butter-coloured margarine? An interprovincial panel has finally struck it down. Analysts say this will be a loss for Québec's dairy farmers, who have enjoyed government protection in the lucrative butter-coloured spread market, while providing a boon for canola and soybean farmers.

Although not quoted in the article, I'll bet the people who make I Can't Believe It's Not Butter are thrilled that they can finally discontinue their Québec-only I Can't Believe It's Not Butter As Long As I Don't Look At It brand.

20:38 | Canada , Politics | Comments (0)

August 3, 2005

New Governor General

On Thursday Prime Minister Martin will announce Canada's new Governor General, Michaëlle Jean.

So, what the heck does the Governor General do? According to this CBC page, the GG is essentially appointed by the Prime Minister, and duties include:

  • Representing the Crown and ensuring there is always a prime minister.
  • Acting on advice of prime minister and cabinet ministers to give royal assent to bills passed in the Senate and House of Commons.
  • Signing state documents.
  • Reading throne speech.
  • Presiding over swearing-in of prime minister, chief justice and cabinet ministers.

Oh, and get paid over $100,000 a year. Not bad, eh?

If I had known that a career in journalism could get me appointed to one of the highest positions in the country, then I might have chosen a different career path, and maybe played up the whole being-born-in-Québec-thing.

Félicitations Mlle Jean!

22:27 | Canada , Politics | Comments (1)

July 9, 2005

Civil Unity

I rarely see eye-to-eye with Alberta Premier Ralph Klein when it comes to social issues. But a few weeks ago he mused that his government "wouldn't be involved in the solemnization of marriage", as a way of opposing the recently passed Bill C-38, which if made into law, would make gay marriage legal in Canada, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Since in Canada marriage is federal jurisdiction, Klein has no other recourse. In my opinion, his comment about solemnization is a perfect solution. This was actually an idea I had thought up months ago, but for the opposite reason Klein has.

Imagine a system where the government only recognizes civil unions, and has no concept of marriage. Marriage would be a purely religious rite with no legal standing. Before or after the wedding ceremony, the "newlyweds" would stop by the local judge's office and sign a civil union license. Obviously property and tax laws, etc. would have to be changed accordingly, but we skirt the entire issue of the government condoning an untraditional form of marriage.

I really hope this idea catches on, and people in support of gay marriage don't reject it just because Klein proposed it.

12:54 | Canada , Politics | Comments (5)

May 17, 2005

Would You Mind If I Told You How We Did It In Canada?

This news is a little old, but worth noting. NDP MP Ed Broadbent has agreed to abstain from Thursday's budget vote to compensate for Conservative MP Darrel Stinton's planned absence in a procedure known as pairing.

Stinton is scheduled for cancer surgery Wednesday, and Broadbent (whose arty has formed a shaky alliance with the Liberals) has decided to sit out as a courtesy. This is not an unprecedented move, and I think is clearly in the best interest of voters (instead of the best interest of the party), since it will negate any unfair advantage one side may have. Not that I particularly agree with the Conservatives, or the NDP, but I do think taking advantage of a representative's illness to be somewhat undemocratic.

I've discussed this with several of my American friends, who all seem shocked by the very idea. When asked if such a thing would happen in the US, all I got was laughter for a response. I guess we do things a little differently in Canada, and I'm ok with that.

20:39 | Canada , Politics | Comments (2)

May 5, 2005

In Kansas, Evolution Is On Trial

Here we go again. 80 years after the so-called "Monkey Man Trial" in Tennessee, the Kansas Board of Education is holding hearings on whether or not Intelligent Design should be taught in schools.

As I've stated before, I feel ID has no place in science class. Maybe in a Social Studies class, but it's certainly not biology.

I wonder if this will end similarly to Georgia's textbook sticker policy.

22:39 | America , Politics

April 6, 2005

Activist Judges Deserve What They Get

That's it. I'm officially disgusted with American politicians.

Senator John Cornyn: "I don’t know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that’s been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence." [Senate Floor, 4/4/05]

00:53 | America , Politics | Comments (5)

April 4, 2005


The Gomery Inquest, currently investigating the Liberal Sponsorship Scandal is in full swing. As many Canadians know (or maybe they don't), there is currently a media ban on testimonies. Luckily, in the digital age of the Internets, non-Canadian sites are free to post details, although it's unclear whether Canadian sites can link to them. So I'm going to link to a Slashdot story, that happens to link to the forbidden story. But if you're Canadian, whatever you do, don't click the link.

In related news, the Conservative Party of Canada is making plans for a spring election.

22:05 | Canada , Politics | Comments (2)

March 19, 2005

Down With Margarine!

US states may be debating banning things like gay marriage and evolution in schools, but in Canada, Québec bans something much more insidious: coloured margarine.

Quebec's strong dairy lobby was able to persuade the government to protect the population from margarine until 1961. But margarine did manage to make its way to morning toast in the province. The dairy lobby, though, was determined to make sure that Quebecers would not be confused and buy margarine if they were really after butter.

These kinds of laws really annoy me. Clearly they were enacted to protect businesses (in this case, Québec's dairy lobby), and not the public (I don't know about you, but I have *never* confused butter with margarine due to being the same colour).

11:26 | Canada , Politics | Comments (1)

March 1, 2005

Being Socially Progressive

First, legalizing gay marriage, then decriminalizing marijuana, now Canada's Liberals are considering decriminalize prostitution.

This is something I would be in favour of, not because I would go out and me a hooker, but because sex for money between consenting adults is a victimless crime. Plus a legal sex trade would mean workplace safety laws and benefits for abused women who otherwise work for little money or drugs.

The purpose of laws is not to enforce morality, but to protect the public.

Speaking of being socially progressive, the United States Supreme Court has outlawed juvenile death penalty.

Good news all around.

22:48 | Canada , Politics | Comments (2)

February 27, 2005

Questionable Science

One of the funniest political cartoons I've seen in a long time: When Kyoto Meets Missle Defence.

22:23 | America , Politics

February 2, 2005

Virginia Is For (Straight) Lovers

State legislators in Virginia are proposing to change the motto on the state license plates to "Traditional Marriage" and include an image of two interlocked rings over a heart. This is the same state that last year prosecuted a woman for receiving oral sex.

Meanwhile blogger Waldo Jaquith came up with his own plate design.

20:32 | America , Politics | Comments (4)

January 29, 2005

Campaign Promises Not Legally Binding

An Ontario judge has found that anyone who expect politicians to be accountable for their campaign promises is naive about the democratic system, after the Canadian Taxpayers Federation tried to sue the Ontario Liberal government for breaking their no new taxes campaign promise.

On the one hand, yes, you can't take a politician's word at face value, on the other, how are voters supposed to make informed decisions, if there is no accountability until the next election?

15:04 | Canada , Politics | Comments (5)

January 13, 2005

Unconstitutional In Fact, Not Theory

A federal judge in Georgia declared stickers on school science textbooks that stated evolution "a theory, not a fact" unconstitutional.

The issue came down to that the school board who has put the stickers on the books was implicitly endorsing religion (Creationism). Note the stickers did not call out any other scientific theories, only evolution. Although this ruling is encouraging, there are still battles to be fought:

Officials in Alabama said they do not think Thursday's ruling affects the several-paragraph evolution disclaimer in the front of that state's science books.

A work colleague of mine went to a talk on Intelligent Design (basically Creationism without mentioning the Bible or God). He even lent me a DVD on the subject, which I will watch. It's one thing to make an informed decision about a theory, it's another to knee-jerk react to it. Especially since the ID supporters' main argument is that students should be taught conflicting views. I agree, as long as the views have scientific merit. Maybe I'll even post a review of the DVD...

21:35 | America , Politics | Comments (2)

December 23, 2004

Voting Is Hard

The 2000 federal election in Florida, (among other things, eligible voters being turned away because they were erroneously labeled as felons, who cannot vote), the 2004 federal election in Ohio, (where black voters were allegedly denied the vote) and now, the gubernatorial election in Washington state, where, after two recounts, the tally is still being disputed.

For a nation that is supposed to be leading the free world and bringing democracy to overthrown dictatorships, the US sure has trouble counting their own votes.

20:27 | America , Politics | Comments (1)

December 21, 2004

An Unprecedented Orgy

On the bottom floor of my parents' condo is a library of donated books. Among the large number of Harlequin romances, Reader's Digest condensed novels and John Grisham books are a surprising number of books on Canadian history. Besides books on the war of 1812 and Trudeau biographies, I found a book called On The Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years by Stevie Cameron. Having always wondered why Canadians revile Mulroney so, I took a peek at the book's description on the inside of the dust cover:

When Brian Mulroney's Tories left office in 1993, Canadians breathed a collective sigh of relief. There had been boondoggles, cover-ups, and scandals aplenty - and the strong suspicion that among those in power many had looked after themselves and their cronies at the expense of the citizens who had elected them.

The dust cover also describes Cameron's account of "flagrant kick-back schemes... misappropriation of parliamentary budgets, favours to corporate supporters of the party, and an unprecedented orgy of patronage appointments..."

The funny thing is, you can replace the words Tories with Liberals, Mulroney with Chrétien, and 1993 with 2003 and the text still holds true.

So why are the PCs considered worse than Hitler, while the Liberals were re-elected three times? Maybe because Canadians have gotten so used to hearing the word boondoggle in the news so often, they are no longer fazed. Or maybe it's because the economy is going so well. Or maybe it's because despite numerous scandals and misappropriation of public funds, the competition makes Canadians think "Well, maybe the Liberals aren't so bad..."

21:12 | Canada , Politics

December 9, 2004

Love And Marriage in Canada

Today I am very proud to be a Canadian. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government can change the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex marriages. According to Prime Minister Martin, the Liberal government will introduce a bill to do this as soon as January.

I wonder sometimes if Canadians' support for gay marriage is merely support for Canada exercising its sovereignty, despite (or perhaps in spite of?) the recent American anti-gay sentiment (like an election "decided" by so-called Moral Values). I wonder how many Canadians are somewhat indifferent to gay marriage, but just want to stick it to Bush.

Meanwhile, groups opposed to gay marriage are asking for a referendum on the issue. I'm kind of split on this. On the one hand, in a democracy the majority rule, and should the majority be against gay marriage, then maybe it shouldn't be allowed (although my opinion is that a nation-wide referendum would be for gay marriage). On the other hand, there needs to be a careful balance between the desires of the majority, and the needs of the minority. Sometimes laws need to be made to protect minority rights, however unpopular (take anti-Japanese internment after World War II as an example of the need for such laws).

Today I'm proud because as a nation, we are moving forward and eliminating discrimination. Ok, and maybe a little bit because we're sticking it to Bush too.

22:04 | Canada , Politics | Comments (4)

December 3, 2004

Abstinence Makes The Heart Grow Fungus

A study ordered by California Congressman Waxman found that some US federally-funded abstinence sex education programs lie to students. Some of the lies include:

  • 50% of all American teenage gay men are HIV positive
  • condoms fail in 31% of cases of heterosexual sex
  • abortion can lead to sterility and suicide
  • you can catch HIV from a person's tears

And my personal favourite:

  • touching someone's genitals can make you pregnant

Keep in mind that the Bush Administration's grand plan to help stop the spread of AIDS and HIV in Africa involves pumping over $1B into, you guessed it, abstinence programs!

07:06 | America , Politics

November 1, 2004

Voting Is Sexy

To all my American readers: please take the time tomorrow to vote.

To all my non-American readers: don't bother trying to vote. Take it from me, they won't even let you into the polling station.

After work tomorrow, I'll be monitoring the election results with some friends. I wager by the end of the night, we'll either be celebrating, or crying.

22:11 | America , Politics

October 1, 2004


Did I watch the debate?
Do I think the candidates said anything we haven't heard before?
Do I think the debate convinced any undecided voters?
Do I think that the candidates ventured away from their pre-canned answers to have an honest and candid discussion about foreign policy and the current insurgency in Iraq instead of attacking each other's perceived weak points on these issues?
Do I have anything interesting to blog about today?
Well, there is this story about a man who shot his wife after mistaking her for a monkey.

07:40 | America , Politics

May 4, 2004

Anyone But Bush

Living on the Left Coast as I do, I've met a number of people who aren't very impressed with the current US Administration, and would not like to see them re-elected in November.

A large percentage of these people favour the "Anyone But Bush" philosophy. In other words, these people will vote for whoever of Bush's opponents is considered the most electable. That's fine for people who were going to vote Democrat regardless, but it also means people who would otherwise have voted for the Green Party, or an independent would instead vote for the nominated Democrat.

That's fine. I'm not trying to belittle anyone's political strategies. If you hate Bush more than you like Kerry, and are comfortable with that, cool (I'm currently pondering that strategy for the upcoming Canadian election...)

What I do find funny, are the people who were die-hard supporters of Howard Dean who have now switched to the Kerry camp. There's an apartment I pass everyday on my way to and from work that until a few weeks ago had a Dean campaign poster in the window. Now's it's a Kerry poster. I wonder why they didn't just save themselves some money and put up a "Vote Democrat" poster, since they're going to be in favour of whoever is nominated anyway?

20:20 | America , Politics

March 24, 2004

And Justice For All

As you may have heard, the constitutionality of the saying the American Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is being challenged in court due to the words "under God".

According to this article in the Detroit Free Press, the Michigan Senate approved two resolutions encouraging the US Supreme Court to keep the Pledge as it is. Senator Patty Birkholz (R) is quoted as saying "We proudly stand up and recite the pledge, showing our allegiance to our country and two-word reference that dates back to the Declaration of Independence".

It's a real shame how politicians know so little of their own country's history.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written for a Columbus Day celebration in 1892, over a hundrend years after the Declaration of Independence, and it did not include the words "under God". Those two troublesome words were added in 1954 to help differenciate God-fearing Americans from Commie Athiests. Really.

I guess no one told Senator Birkholz that the Cold War is over.

19:51 | America , Politics | Comments (4)

March 6, 2004

Bush Pissed-Off List

President Bush defends his use of 9/11 footage in his campagn. Let's enumerate what groups Bush has managed to piss off since he came into office:

  • The Left (no surprise there)
  • Gay Republicans (yes, they do exist)
  • Fiscal Conservatives (what was the deficit this year?)
  • Families of 9/11 victims
  • Firefighters
  • The United Nations (good thing they don't get to vote)

Let me know if I forgot anyone.

16:15 | America , Politics | Comments (5)

March 2, 2004

Keeping Osama On The DL

I'm surprised this news of Osama bin Laden's alleged capture didn't make any Western headlines (I found it as a substory on Google News). The report was later denied by both Pakistan and the US.

Now I'm no conspiracy theorist, but considering Bush's approval spike after Saddam Hussein's capture, keeping this quiet until the fall would be in the Republicans' best interest...

07:33 | Politics

February 14, 2004


I am really sick of hearing about yet another Liberal scandal. It's a wonder the Liberal government managed to post a surplus, what with this sponsorship scandal and the gun registry hitting $2 billion, among others.

Well, at least it's not my tax money. Not that mine is going anywhere better.

13:44 | Canada , Politics | Comments (1)

January 23, 2004

Church, Meet State

France has been in the news a lot lately for their controversial ban on religious symbols in government establishments, including schools. France practices a very strict separation of church and state as a result of their history of religious monarchy, and religious persecution. In order to preserve this separation, they are taking radical measures.

The United States also practices separation of church and state. This is taken from the first amendment to the US Bill of Rights: " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...". The American point of view is to let the people practice, as long as the government stays out of it. For example, the removal of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court building. Note, that the fact that the monument was put there in the first place indicates a much softer stance than that of France. Even more to the point, in President Bush's State of the Union Address, he implied he would go as far as a constitutional amendment to "value the institution of marriage".

Canada, on the other hand, has no explicit separation of church and state. In fact, the first line in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms recognizes "the supremacy of God and the rule of law". As a result, Catholic schools are given public funding in many provinces. But, Canada is also very socially progressive; it's of the only countries in the world to move to legalize gay marriage.

It's interesting that most people would consider Canada a very socially liberal country, even though its government is the least disentagled from religion (more specifically, Christianity) of the three.

07:53 | Canada , Politics | Comments (2)

December 12, 2003

Jean, We Hardly Knew Ye

Goodbye Jean, and hello Paul.

I truly hope Martin's Liberals will have less scandal, better relations with the provinces, more R&D investment, and generally everything Martin says it will. Yes, I'm sceptical.

I'm not sure, but if the Conservative Party combines the social right of the Alliance with the fiscal right of the Progressive Conservatives, then Canada will have its very own Republican Party.

Then Martin will be unstoppable.

07:11 | Canada , Politics

November 27, 2003

Long Way To Go

It's nice to sit back and think about how progressive and liberal Canada is, only to be proven wrong by bigot politicians. The Canadian Alliance has a long way to go if they want to shed their image of homophobic right-wing conservatives.

It's also interesting to see how gays and lesbians have been treated in Canada, since homosexuality became no longer illegal (gotta love CBC and their timelines).

13:30 | Canada , Politics | Comments (2)

November 7, 2003

It's About Time

And just in time for Christmas: Chrétien is (probably) stepping down early.

I wish Jean and Aline all the best in their post-political lives, enjoying family, friends, and of course marijuana.

06:45 | Canada , Politics

October 9, 2003

The Wheels Of Democracy Part 2

Californians have spoken and have decided against electing an experienced politician to run their state, instead opting for action-film star Arnold Schwarzenegger. All of the sudden, Dalton McGuinty doesn't look so inexperienced.

The CBC has a feature on celebrity politicians, including a circus leader, a professional wrestler, and a Hungarian porn-star. Even Canada's "celebrity" Adrienne Clarkson is on the list.

07:10 | America , Politics

October 3, 2003

The Wheels Of Democracy

Last night was the provincial election in my home province of Ontario. It came as no surprise to me to hear that the Liberals won. This is one election I'm glad I missed. I had always been a PC supporter, but after Mike Harris left, the party just wasn't the same. I didn't like Eves, and I felt the decisions he made as premier hurt more than they helped.

Howard Hampton seemed like a decent leader, but I can't agree with anything the NDP does. I think Ontarians are still smarting from Bob Rae's reign.

That leaves the Liberals. I don't agree much with their policies, and I have very little confidence in Dalton McGuinty. To me he seems very inexperienced, so I hope he put the last four years to good use.

Since I couldn't vote in this election, most of these impressions were formed during the 1999 election campaign and debate, so my information may be a little out of date. Prove me wrong Ontario. Prove me wrong.

07:18 | Canada , Politics | Comments (3)

August 3, 2003

The 51st State

One of the most popular comments I've heard about Canada is that it's the 51st state. I find people who make the comment have either never been to Canada, or are ignorant of current world events. Let's review a few differences, shall we?

And that was just in the last six months!

So considering those points, along with bilingualism, socialized health care and being part of the British Commonwealth (just to name a few), you've really got to wonder what the American education system teaches about world affairs when people still refer to Canada as the 51st state.

17:03 | America , Politics | Comments (3)

December 4, 2002

Political Digression

I know I shouldn't spend my studying time bitching to you all about my political views, but this made me so mad: Ottawa hid huge costs of gun plan, audit finds. Now I'm neither for, or against the gun registry in Canada. Unlike our neighbours to the south, it's not our God-given right as Canadians to have a small anti-aircraft arsenal in our basements, so the gun registry doesn't rate very high on my politica-meter. But what does make me mad, is that this is just the latest (and won't be the last) in a series of bunglings the Liberals have done that cost tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars. And here's the clincher:

The Liberals will be re-elected.

Don't you see? It doesn't matter how many scandals (HRDC, Shawinnigan, patronage, gun registry, etc) the Liberals are responsible for, we keep voting for them, in the hopes that Chrétien will retire. Everyone is hoping that Paul Martin is going to save the day, without knowing anything about him, except that he's not Chrétien.

You're probably now asking yourself: "Ok Chris, great rant, but who then should we vote for? The right-wing Alliance? The left-wing NDP? The last-runners-up PCs? Le Bloc? Some wing-nut fringe party? What?"

I have no idea. I really don't. But the nice thing is, we have choice. The bad thing is, this choice almost guarantees us another term with the Liberals. All I'm saying is, remember these scandals come next election. And for my American readers: make sure the safety on your AK-47 is on.

00:00 | Canada , Politics

October 10, 2002

Political Digression

I guess another good reason to not drive, is to avoid getting shot and killed while pumping gas. My deepest sympathies go to the families of the victims. Especially since the US seems to be so caught up fighting terrorism in the Middle East, that they forgot about their own home-grown terrorists. Maybe they thought they ended domestic terrorism when they put McVeigh to death.

Snipers and bombers keep cropping up in the US, but the government feels it necessary to spend its resources on a war. And during a recession, no less. Does no one remember what happened to the US economy with LBJ and the Viet Nam war? (Ok, I don't personally remember it, but I did take several courses that examined it).

What the hell am I talking about. I'm neither a political pundit, nor do I know what "pundit" means. But I guess that's miracle the of the Internet. Everyone has their own electronic soapbox.

00:00 | America , Politics