Monday, April 30, 2012

In France it's dirty tricks and dirty laundry all round

They're heading into the home stretch of the Presidential election this week.

Serial rapist and former Socialist power-broker Dominique Strauss-Kahn embarrassed his comrades by giving an interview to The Guardian in which he evaded all personal reponsibility for his infamous behaviour over the past year and put the blame squarely on his political enemies.

Attaboy, DSK, that's a man all of France can admire!

One who under no circumstances will shoulder the slightest responsibility for his actions. If it's not the hormones it must be the political enemies, and if not that, then maybe... ah!...

What's the use?

Blame society!

You're a "socialist" after all!

Meanwhile, over on the dark side, Sarkozy now threatens to sue anyone who repeats the rumor that Sarko entertained the notion of accepting 50 million euros from none other than the Monster of the Magrheb to finance his original campaign. In fact, there are claims that far more went on than a "notion entertained", and that Sarkozy happily took Gadaffi's money.

If so, that would explain the unseemly haste with which Gadaffi was dispatched last year.

Dead Gadaffis tell no tales.

But perhaps they've left a paper trail?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and why we're fucked

On the computer I'm reading a news story about how the NTC, our NATO-installed non-democratic Libyan government, is getting cold feet about the democratic elections long in the offing.

Meanwhile, on the TV just over my right shoulder 60 Minutes has got a CIA guy who just wrote a book. All about how "enhanced interrogation techniques", commonly known as torture, have been a blessing to America.

I guess there's a certain segment of the population that still wants to believe this.

Those folks should make an effort to look around and see what's going on in the world.

This attitude that we, the enlightened West, can call the shots for the whole world has taken us to a nasty place. The engineers and architects of the Iraq and Afghan wars should be sitting in cells in The Hague.

Instead, The Hague busies itself with Serbs and minor league dictators.

Obviously the NATO-US-Israel pact has clout. We are and for the foreseeable future will remain the big dogs.

But what are we doing? The Iraq and Afghan conflicts have sown the seeds for a thousand years of hate.  We've sown those seeds in cultures that won't mind nurturing those seeds for a thousand years.

We're bankrupting ourselves in order to make the rest of the world hate us.

Yet at every wrong step there is a chorus of cheerleaders urging on the stupidity.

Cheerleaders who have political skin in the game.

Cheerleaders who have financial interests in the game.

Cheerleaders who can call torture "enhanced interrogation techniques" but wonder why "they" hate us.

Netanyahu critics hijack Jerusalem Post Conference in New York

Well here's something the American audience doesn't get to see every day.

Senior Israeli security boffins casting rude aspersions all over the greatest leader since Moses.

They love Netanyahu in America. Iran can be months away from a nuclear weapon for twenty years but the American public still buys into it every time the words fall from his lips.

And they're suckers for those Hitler analogies too. There can never be too many Hitler references in any Netanyahu speech intended for the American audience.

Netanyahu pretty much has managed to become the face of Israel to much of the American audience, so it must be a shock to realize that the man is something less than revered among the upper echelon of the security establishment.

Former Mossad boss Meir Dagan has gone on the record before as not being a true believer in the urgency of the Iran threat, so one can assume the JPost folks knew what they were getting when they invited him to the conference.

Perhaps now Netanyahu's American base will realize that he's not Moses after all.

Netanyahu greatest leader since Moses

At least according to the informal poll I conducted among shoppers at the Beth Ezekiel spring fund-raiser and rummage sale yesterday.

That news should shore up the spirits of the man who has been taking more than the usual amount of abuse lately. Most recently it has been former spy chief and vindictive know-nothing Yuval Diskin grabbing headlines with his intemperate remarks about the Prime Minister.

As spokepersons for both the Prime Minister and Barak were quick to point out, Diskin is a bitter man these days because his reign of error at Shin Bet is over and he was rightfully overlooked for the top spot at Mossad.

So hold your head high and carry on, Mr. Prime Minister. Remember, they grumbled about Moses too.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Crop circles reveal Netanyahu is the Messiah!

Yes, it's true! Right here at Falling Downs the crop circles are speaking!

Wait just a minute, you say. It's April. There are no crops.The crops have yet to be seeded... how can there be "crop circles"?

Ah, that is but the first miracle!

When Jehovah speaks He careth not for the season!


Crops or no crops, you cannot silence the voice of the Almighty!

Benyamin has been governing his entire career based on the voice of the Almighty.

Matters not a whit that no one else hears that voice.

And that in itself is proof enough for me that Benyamin Netanyahu is indeed the Messiah!

Analytical thinking will shake your faith

That's the nub of a story that's big news today. Apparently some researchers at UBC have figured out that people who ask hard analytical questions of their faith will end up questioning their faith.

Well, duh!

Hey, there's a reason "faith" is called "faith".

That reason has a lot to do with the fact that faith is often at odds with analytical stuff.

Faith wouldn't be faith if it had scientific proof, would it?

So whether your faith involves Jesus, Krishna, Mohamed, or Jehova, just keep the faith, and don't let that analytical talk scare you.

So what's wrong with passing twenty cars at a time?

Here's a headline that makes you scratch your head.

No less an authority than a politician has chimed in to say they've seen folks pass up to 20 cars at a time on the highway between Edmonton and Fort MacMurray.

So what?

In all probability there were 19 cars bunched up behind some dorkshit who was doing 10 under the limit.

Why those 19 don't pass the dorkshit I'm not sure.

Why the dorkshit isn't arrested and waterboarded I'm not sure either.

They should be.

But it's perfectly understandable that eventually somebody at the tail end of that parade who just wants to get where they're going is gonna pull out and pass the entire caravan.

You'll notice that the politicians have been talking about twinning that highway since 2006. I used to live in Alberta and I can assure you that the topic of twinning that highway has been on the agenda for a lot longer than that.

So if you are serious about saving lives on that road, dear politicians, stop talking about it, stop studying it, and just twin the friggin' highway already!

Max Mosley takes on the Anti-Christ

You remember Max, don't you?

Had the embarrassment of a lifetime a few years back when some of the Rupert Murdoch papers ran a story about him cavorting with half a dozen hookers kitted out in Nazi regalia.

That's one of the differences between the truly rich and us regular guys; they can afford a half dozen hookers at a time.

But I digress. No matter how distastefull ones pedigree, your private pants-off time should be yours and it should be private. That rule obtains regardless of how rich you are or how gauche your tastes. Rupert Murdoch gleefully broke that rule with his front page expose of Mosley's hobby.

Mosley sued and won, but he's not done with Murdoch. He's offering to foot the legal bills for any Brit politico who wants to take on Murdoch.

Murdoch has pretty much had his way with the British political elite for quite some time now. It'll be interesting to see what sort of sordid revelations this generous Mosley initiative scares out of the underbrush.


Today we cleaned out Murray Zidenberg's apartment.

No, Uncle Murray hasn't gone to his reward...

Actually, maybe he has.

He's nestled into a place in Oshawa where he's got a Red Seal chef doing the meal prep and 24 hour a day room service. He's never had it so good.

Word has it that he's morphed into something of a social butterfly at the new place. That ain't Uncle Murray.

But maybe it is now.

Maybe he's made peace with the fact that it's OK to coast to the finish line.

You don't have to keep the reserve tank topped up anymore.

He's come to that time and place in his life.

I'm not a big fan of moves. But every move is a passage to something. On the whole it's more fun helping the younger generation move.

Over the course of a five year university career I helped my daughter move four times. Every move was infused with optimism. When you're young a move means you're heading somewhere.

When you're old you're heading somewhere too, but it's just not the same.

Aunt Flo was there to supervise the moving of Murray's stuff. She's been divorced from the guy for twenty years but still runs his life. She's a powerhouse, Auntie Flo is.

Loud 'n proud. Look up "kvetch" in the dictionary and you'll find her picture. Walk into any store in town with her and watch the sales staff dive for cover.

Auntie Flo suffers no fools and takes no prisoners.

She supervised the loading of my truck. This is going to the Goodwill. These three boxes are for the Sally Ann. All that stuff is going to the recycle depot. Maybe this stuff you can use at the farm...

Once I was out of sight I made a beeline for the landfill.

Sorry Aunt Flo.

But I still love ya!

FDA approves new boner pill

And a "fast-acting" one at that.

It's about time.

Trouble with Cialis and Viagra is that by the time they kick in the moment could very well have passed.

As in the prospective recipient of your business came to their senses and called a cab.

This new pill, "Stendra", cuts the wait time down to 15 minutes. That's still a long time in my book.

Fifteen minutes still allows second, third, maybe even fourth thoughts, depending on how hard you're thinking.

Apparently it also has the risk of the same side-effect; the all-day boner that just won't go away no matter what.

You know, the one that you're supposed to go to the ER to have treated...

Has anyone ever checked out just how they do that?

Naughty Secret Service agents will have to take their Mom's along on trips

Homeland Security boss Janet Napolitano dropped a bombshell on the security establishment yesterday.

After the Cartagena Crisis Napolitano decided that what the secret agent types needed most was adult supervision. Chaperons.

And who better to chaperon than an agent's mother.

That'll ensure the lads are on their best behavior. Hell, they'll be ducking out onto the balcony of their hotel suites just to have a smoke! Forget the weed and the party powder and the Jack Daniels.

"Agent Smith, Agent Riley, I've got good news and bad news. You're going to Bangkok for three weeks to do pre-summit security. Three weeks in Bangkok on the government tab boys! Bangkok! Is that friggin' great or what!?"

Smith and Riley exchange high fives.

"The bad news is you're taking your moms."

Friday, April 27, 2012

Wally Tucker; thanks for the memories

Wally used to attend his frequent Guelph court dates wearing absolutely nothing.

That would always send the courtroom staff into a tizzy. Wally and his trusty sidekick Mike Baldasaro would be flanked by half a dozen court workers holding up towels and blankets to maintain a semblance of decorum.

But I do believe Mr. Tucker made his point.

R.I.P. Wally Tucker

Kipling just called me with the news that Wally Tucker has gone to his reward.

Rest in peace Wally! You were an inspiration to millions.

This blog has always championed Wally's campaign for sensible pot laws. The fight is far from over, but thanks Wally for the leadership.

I'll have to twist one up in Wally's honor.

Right now.

And as for you, Mr. Tucker, fire one up with the angels...

Canada still basking in glow of Libya victory

Canada was one of the most hawkish outside nations involved in the Libyan conflict, conducting a disproportionately large percentage of the air strike missions and providing important diplomatic and humanitarian support to the rebels.

That's from today's National Post. 

That first line is more or less true. Canada was indeed one of the most belligerent anti-Gadaffi countries, even though major Canadian construction and oil companies had major projects ongoing in Gadaffi's Libya with the full blessing of the Canadian government.

After that it gets a bit dodgy. Canada didn't really conduct a "disproportionately large percentage" of the air strikes when compared to other NATO small fry.

Nor was there anything remotely important about Canada's diplomatic and humanitarian support for the so-called rebels.

However, the Harper gang is keen to be seen as "punching above its weight" and all that neanderthal stuff, so glorying in this supposed glorious victory in Libya is a story that the right wing of Canadian media need to trumpet.

The Post article does indeed raise some questions about Foreign Minister Baird's unseemly enthusiasm for that war. But there's no discussion whatsoever about how much better the Libyan people are doing now that they're rid of Gadaffi.

Probably because they'll need another twenty or thirty years to recoup what they lost when NATO brought them their "freedom".

Workers' struggle takes ominous turn in China

The Guardian is reporting that workers at Apple's biggest contractor in China, Foxconn, are threatening to jump off their factory roofs if management doesn't make good on assurances to improve wages and working conditions.

That revelation came as a nasty shock to the think tank here at Falling Downs. Not that long ago China's union activists were making headlines and inspiring workers around the world by throwing factory managers from the roof.

Now they're threatening to throw themselves from the roof?

Chinese workers have made gigantic gains over the past few years. In the past year alone factory wages have gone up an average of 20%. As their wages spiral up and American wages continue to stagnate, it's estimated that China and the US will reach wage parity within a few years.

After that the Chinese workers will be leading the way in establishing the benchmarks in labor contracts. However, I don't believe this new bargaining tactic will take hold in America.

Can you imagine the response if the UAW bargaining team walks into a meeting with Ford or GM and gives 48 hour notice that they're all going to jump from the plant roof if they can't reach an agreement?

That's not going to fly here.

BC mayors call for legalization, regulation of marijuana

A coalition of British Columbia mayors has written a letter to the premier and the leaders of the opposition parties pleading for an end to current drug enforcement strategies.

We stand together as B.C. mayors because we think our communities will be safer and our children better protected from criminal elements if we overturn marijuana prohibition and implement policies that strictly regulate the adult use of cannabis” the letter states.

The moves comes just months after four former BC attorneys general called for legalization and regulation.

Meanwhile the Harper gang is ploughing ahead with plans for harsh new sentences for possession of small quantities of pot.

Just who is out of touch with reality here?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Facts prove that subsidized day-care turns kids into anarchist revolutionaries

Do the math.

Quebec introduced subsidized day-care in 1997.

What's the biggest news story out of Quebec today? College students rioting in the streets over the fact that their tuition is going up.

Most of the civilized world cranks up tuition for college students on a regular basis. After all, the kids might as well learn young that every time they make a move to improve themselves the system is going to be right there to extract a huge financial toll.

What happens?

Nothing. A lot of grumbling but nothing changes and the students reluctantly pay up.

Not in Quebec. All of a sudden the momentum of the soak-the-students movement is broken.

Those Quebecois are leading the way.

And if you did the math you already know that the first generation of North American college students to reject tuition increases are also the first generation of North American's who had the benefit of subsidized day care.

Case closed.

Joel Ward drives last nail into Bruin's repeat hopes

This shit will happen every time.

I've got one eye on the computer where I'm researching the next blockbuster blog-post about American exceptionalism or whatever.

I've got the other eye on the playoffs. I knew Boston and Washington had it tied at one for the longest time.

Then while doing some reading on Charles Taylor's partial conviction at The Hague I hear that we're going into overtime in the hockey game.

I figure hey I want to catch this, but first I'm gonna run downstairs real quick and throw a couple sticks on the fire.

By the time I get back they've got Joel Ward being interviewed on national television for the first time in his hockey career, and I knew right away that the game was over and Joel Ward bagged the winner in OT.

Joel played some of his junior hockey locally and I ran into him a couple of times. A lot of NHL wannabees pass through town on there way to the bigs. Except the vast majority will never get beyond Junior A.

What sticks in my mind about Joel Ward is that he wasn't at all like most of the other Junior A guys passing through town. He was a real down-to-earth kid who was actually pretty sure he wouldn't ever make the big leagues.

I remember having a chat with him about the pros and cons of a welding  career. The cons anyway. But the kid was interested. Knew that if the hockey thing didn't work out he was going to be ready with a Plan B.

Last year Joel moved from Nashville to Washington with a contract that makes him a multi-millionaire. When you saw him on national TV last night he was still every bit the unassuming kid I knew years ago.

Nice work kid!

New foreign-worker rules push down Canadian wages

Last year over 190,000 so-called temporary foreign workers were admitted into Canada. Most of these are brought in because of lobbying by employer groups who claim that there are no qualified candidates for these jobs in Canada.

Given that there are approximately 1,500,000 Canadians unemployed, a reasonable observer might ask what the government is doing to help Canadians aquire the skills they need to qualify for these jobs.

Today the Harper gang made it clear what it intends to do for unemployed Canadians.


But they do have some great news for the employers.

Henceforth the government will make it easier to import foreign workers, cutting the 12 to 14 week approval process down to 10 days. 

Furthermore, while employers were in the past obliged to pay their imports the prevailing wage in an industry, the new rules will permit foreign workers to be paid 15% less than the average wage in any particular sector. Given the many possible ways of fudging averages this gives employers a green light to drive down wages simply by claiming a shortage of skilled workers and then importing people who will work for less.

Which makes this a good news/ bad news story.

Bad news for Canadian workers.

Good news for the companies who have washed their hands of their responsibility to train and hire them.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wisconsin becomes litmus test for Right-To-Work-For-Less States

Scott Walker isn't turning into the success story the Koch brothers were hoping for when they started pumping money his way.

Wisconsin has the distinction of being the state that actually lost the most jobs in the past year.

That's not exactly a resounding endorsement of Walker's "right to work" initiative.

"Right to work" is the insidious Orwellian moniker for anti-union initiatives that have become popular in many American states. In practice, a "right-to-work" state severely limits the rights of workers to organize.

The guiding philosophy behind "right to work" is a Darwinian belief that there is always somebody willing to work for less. And once you get unions out of the way there usually is.

It's been proven time and time again. When Peter Pocklington embarked on his union-busting war of attrition against the Gainers workers in Edmonton way back when, he knew that with the right government supports he would be able to restructure the wage scale in the meat-processing industry.

And even though Pocklington's unbridled greed eventually landed him in an American prison, he was successful in destroying the established wage structure of the meat-packing industry.

Before Pocklington, guys who worked in meat processing plants did shit work for a living wage.

After Pocklington, guys who worked in meat processing plants did shit work for a shit wage.

Virtually the entire North American meat-processing industry today is staffed by recent immigrants or illegal immigrants who work for minimum wage or close to it.

Peter Pocklington was a pioneer and a visionary.

Scott Walker is a Johnny-come-lately.

Working people aren't fooled by "right-to-work" propaganda anymore, no matter how much money the Kochs and their ilk throw into these campaigns.

"Right to work" just gives you the right to work for less.

Flush those pills and fire up God's anti-depressant instead!

A new study claims that for most people using them the risks of common anti-depressants outweigh the benefits.

Drugs that stimulate seratonin production in your body can mask the symptoms of depression, but also mess with the 101 other things seratonin does in your body. As a result the use of common anti-depressants can depress you, depress your sex drive, and even kill you.

On the other hand you can say "no thanks" to Big Pharma and turn to God's own organic anti-depressant. You'll forget your troubles, your sex drive will be fine, and it hasn't killed anyone yet.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Paul Krugman unleashes anti-semitic diatribe

It's been a banner week for anti-semitism.

First, the German (and that says it all right there) former SS man (and if just being German isn't enough, this will for sure seal the deal) and so-called poet Gunther Grass claims that Israel's nuclear arsenal is a source of instability in the middle east.

Then 60 Minutes has the audacity to run a virulently anti-semitic segment  about Christians in the Holy Land. I watched the segment and found it roundly unremarkable, except the part where Ambassador Oren seemed to think it was fine to call the president of CBS and try to have the show squelched before it even hit the air.

Hell, those anti-semites at CBS are so smooth that I didn't even notice the anti-semitism.

Luckily Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post was watching too. She picked up on all those anti-semite flags that I had missed.

Thank you Jennifer!

And if this ground-swell of anti-semitism isn't odious enough, today New York Times columnist Paul Krugman piled on.

According to the anti-semite Krugman, Netanyahu is "narrow-minded" and his policies are bad for the long term security and prosperity of Israel.

Who can even imagine such a thing? Netanyahu narrow-minded?

Netanyahu putting his personal political ambitions before the common good?

What anti-semitic blasphemy!

Your call is important to us; thank you for holding...

Don't you love that? You'd think that if they were serious about the "important" part they might hire somebody to answer the phone.

Today I came home to a voice mail from Abby at my mortgage company. I get these once in awhile. Usually they're trying to sell some extra service that you'd already be getting if you thought it was important. I figure right away it isn't, but what the heck, I give a call back anyway.

Just trying to be polite.

"Your call is important to us. Thank you for holding."

So I hold. Every couple of minutes the recording comes back to remind me that my call is important blah blah blah...

Eventually Chantal takes my call. She thanks me for holding. Before she can tell me why they called she needs to ask a few questions for security purposes.

Wants my address and phone number.  I pass that test.

Then she wants to know my ten digit mortgage number. I don't have that handy, and since they called me, I figure we'll have to work around it.

She wants to know how often I make the payments.

Every two weeks. Passed that test.

When was the last payment?

Two weeks ago tomorrow.

Chantal isn't happy with my answer. We go back and forth on this for a couple of minutes. Finally I suggest she consult a calendar.

I passed that test too.

Then she needs to know the amount of the payment.

Five hundred and eighty three dollars and change.

How much change?

Well, without looking at a bank statement I don't know, and I'm just returning a call they made because I'm trying to be polite.

Chantal isn't pleased. She's not going to divulge the secret information if I can't come up with the exact amount of the payment, right down to the penny.

So I tell Chantal I'll just sit tight and wait for Abby to call back and wish her a good day.

This strikes me as a terribly inefficient use of Chantal's time. I'm sure it's not her fault. I'm sure she's just following a script.

And the extra layer of mortgage insurance or whatever that they were hoping to sell me is going to go unsold.

73 year old leads nature cops on high-speed chase in kayak

73 year old Mak Zuban got a $200 fine this week for trying to outrun a 32 foot MNR patrol boat in his kayak last summer.

Zuban, a former world class kayaker, was out for a paddle when the MNR fun police decided to give him a hassle for not wearing a life vest. The officer piloting the boat testified that he tried five times to get Zuban to stop.

While I'm all for the rule of law etc. I think it's appalling that we have branches of law enforcement that have nothing better to do than harrass senior citizens. Surely at age 73 we can allow Mr. Zuban to decide for himself if he wants to wear a life jacket.

If that's the closest these MNR lads come to doing "work" out there on the water, maybe that's one area where we can afford some spending cuts.

Tea Party strikes out in Alberta


There's a certain risk in writing about election results before the votes have actually been counted.

Apologies to all those fine foks in Alberta who, as I knew all along, are much too perceptive to be taken in by that fringe right-wing stuff the Wildrose Party was peddling!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tea Party takes Alberta

In one of the most resounding upsets in Canadian political history Alberta's nascent Tea Party acolytes, styling themselves the "Wild Rose Party", have swept the ruling Conservative Party out of power.

Wild Rose has the cachet of a happening new thing, even though the back rooms are stuffed full of veteran Harperites, Reformers, and former Mike Harris advisors, all of whom are pretty much the same people anyway.

Nevertheless, this cosy old-boys club managed to hide behind the photogenic leader of their "new" party, Danielle Smith.

Smith has nothing much on offer other than the tried and true Tea Party agenda. Government bad. Taxes bad. Regulation bad. Unions bad.

That sells in Alberta, which has had a great ride on its petroleum resources for the better part of the last hundred years.

Virtually all Albertans fervently believe that they are responsible for the fact that Alberta has enormous dirty oil reserves, and that it is their God-given mission to exploit those reserves as quickly as possible.

Virtually all Albertans have been Albertans for no more than two generations, so their fervor has the exuberance exhibited by all new converts.

The Wild Rose victory will give them a chance to pursue their political beliefs to their logical conclusions.

Good luck, Alberta!

Jack's Auto Repair

In my teen years I worked at a place called "John's Supertest" on Waterloo Avenue in Guelph. It was the last gas station on the way out of town, just up the road from the "Manor", the last strip joint on the way out of town.

I got to remembering this when I was researching the post about Jimmie Johnson's green racer.

I remember "Mountain Green". In fact, a couple of times I came close to buying a car in Mountain Green.

There was a place in town called Howes and Reeves. They were by that time the "American Motors" dealer. American Motors was the flailing entity run by Mitt Romney's dad at the time, and they flailed until Chrysler bought them out, mainly to get their paws on the Jeep brand, a few years later.

But for a few months back in the late 60's Howes and Reeves had a couple of used cars on the lot that caught my eye. Both were Mountain Green in color.

Both were Chevy Bel Air 2-door post coupes. One was a 327 four speed. The other was a 427 four speed.

I spent a lot of time figuring out how to stretch my $1.20 an hour pay packet to get one of those cars, preferably the 427.

Eventually I figured out I wasn't going to get there from here, which probably marked the onset of my first serious bout of clinical depression.

A year later I was eye-balling a 69 Nova 396/375 at Barry Cullen Chev-Olds. Brand new. Mountain Green with a black vinyl roof. Bench seat, radio delete, 4:11's in the back.

By then I was working full time at John's Supertest. The Nova priced out at just under four grand. Alas, I still couldn't make it work.

Back to the depression. Back to pumping gas 60 hours a week and driving  a 67 Bel Air wagon with a 283 powerglide.

Those were bleak times.

But around the back of John's Supertest we rented out the service bays to Jack, proprietor of Jack's Auto Repair.

When I got hired on at John's the proprietor (John) took me on a tour of Jacks Auto Repair. Jack wasn't in at the time, and since that was the middle of the afternoon and this was a car repair shop I suppose at some level that should have been a tip-off.

Nevertheless John gave me a major spiel about how Jack was the best mechanic in town and I should refer business to Jack whenever possible. He reverently opened the drawers of Jack's tool box to reveal the neatly-ordered wrenches and sockets.

"You can tell a good mechanic by how he takes care of his tools" John solemnly intoned.

So I was pre-disposed to think Jack was some kind of mechanical miracle worker.

And the cars he had for sale seemed to bear that out. A 64 Ford Galaxy with a 406 four speed, an ultra-rare combo that would be worth a fortune today. Had the engine block tied off to the frame with a length of chain.

A 390 four speed Mustang. Asking only $1800.

Over the next six months or so I figured out a couple of things.

Jack was rarely in his shop. He was more often in court fighting small claims cases over cars he hadn't fixed.

When he was in the shop I never saw him working on a car. He and his sidekick "Rubber" would while away the hours drinking beer, which they kept in the toilet tank to keep cold.

I would see cars coming in on the back of tow-trucks, sit in Jack's shop for three months, and leave on the end of tow-trucks, after much ill will had transpired between Jack and the car owner.

Only years later did it occur to me that John was getting kick-backs on the money Jack was wheedling out of customers while not fixing their cars.

That was really depressing...

Obama announces "Atrocities Prevention Board"

Hey, here's a ray of light; instead of creating/causing/committing atrocities we're now going to prevent them!

In a performance that could have been scripted by George Orwell, Obama today announced a new government bureaucracy that will determine when and if our enemies are carrying out "atrocities".

For our atrocity-committing friends I'm sure it will be business as usual.

But it's certainly a warning to our atrocity-committing enemies.

Flanked by Holocaust careerist-in-chief Elie Wiesel, Obama told the world we will no longer namby-pamby around with genocidal regimes unless they happen to be our allies.

Wiesel seized the moment to proclaim his distress over the fact that the Nations of Virtue have yet to deposit Iran's Ahmadinejad into the dustbin of history.

Don't worry Elie; this new "Atrocities Prevention Board" will soon make matters right.

Be patient.

Gadaffi a vital ally in war on terror, documents reveal

There's a bit of a stink rising in Great Britain about how tight the Gadaffi regime was with various Western intelligence services.

Specifically, Gadaffi had a very cosy relationship with Britain's MI6, cosy to the point that Gadaffi's torturer-in-chief Mousa Kousa and various senior Brit anti-terror types were on a first name basis.

So cosy that they collaborated on the illegal rendition of suspected al-Qaeda operatives.

So cosy that they worked together to set up a phoney radical mosque.

So cosy that if Gadaffi was ever to face charges of crimes against humanity, the entire upper echelon of the British security services would have to be sitting in the prisoners box at the Hague right there alongside him.

Which would explain the untoward haste with which Gadaffi was dispatched to his reward.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Karzai and Obama to sign ten year extension of US occupation of Afghanistan

US ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker signed a memorandum of understanding today that commits the US to stay in the country for another ten years.

The US presence is said to include a sizable contingent of combat troops and thousands of "trainers".

Both Obama and Karzai are expected to sign the agreement before the NATO summit in Chicago next month.

The agreement also obliges the US to financially prop up the corrupt Karzai regime for the duration.

No word on whether the democratically elected President Obama intends to run this by the American people before signing.

Storm clouds over Europe

Round one of the French presidential election went today and the only real surprise is the unexpectedly robust showing of Marine Le Pen, the far right candidate.

In Europe the term "far right" is generally interchangeable with the term "neo-fascist".

So while there are no storm troopers in the streets just yet, give it time.

The Wall Street Journal brushes off Le Pen's showing by claiming "this is a turn democracies often take when politicians have no answers for high unemployment, rising debt, and economic decline."

So it's nothing to worry about then. It's just a turn democracies often take...

You know, like in Italy in the 20's.

Or Germany in the 30's.

Certainly nothing to worry about.

The WSJ makes it clear what they worry about. Those damned socialists! Hollande beat Sarkozy and will need the support of the Left Front to triumph in the second round on May 6. That means full steam ahead for the socialist "fantasy" program of a living minimum wage and a 75% marginal tax rate on the highest income earners.

That would amount to "jumping off the socialist cliff" according to the Wall Street Journal.

They'll take the fascists any day.

SEC finally getting tough on finance hanky panky

They slept through Bernie Madoff's 60 billion dollar fraud.

They snoozed out in Lehman Brothers very offices throughout Lehman's 300 billion dollar fraud.

But that was then.

This is now, and the gloves are off.

The SEC is throwing the book at two British teens who took investors for roughly 1.2 million dollars.

That's right, we're talking a million here, not billions or hundreds of billions.

Alex and Thomas Hunter were sixteen years old when they came up with the idea of a stock-picking robot. "Marl" was supposedly programmed by a veteran Wall Street insider to sniff out up and coming penny stocks. The kids sold a newsletter to thousands of subscribers revealing Marl's stock picks.

Heck, they almost became millionaires!

The SEC filed suit in New York this week to force the Hunter twins to make good.

Mainwhile, Richard Fulds, the Lehman CEO who walked away from the wreckage with hundreds of millions of dollars, has yet to hear from the SEC.

What's "bogus" about Hungary's Roma refugees?

In the 1930's Canada was very vigilant about keeping another group of "bogus" refugees out of the country.

Those Jewish folks didn't have a darn thing to worry about in Germany. Canada turned them back with a "good luck to ya and that Hitler chap isn't such a bad guy. Get over yourselves."

Seventy-five years later it's deja vu all over again. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is pretty much at the end of his rope when it comes to those bogus Romas flooding Canada's refugee system.

It really doesn't require a lot of effort in this day and age to find news stories about the situation the Roma face in Hungary and a lot of other places. I appreciate that Kenney is a busy guy but surely there is someone in his office who can take the half hour.

Just google "Roma in Hungary" and see what comes up.

It ain't pretty.

It's an acceptable opinion in Hungary to advocate rounding up the Roma and confining them to camps.

Sound familiar?

Fareed Zakaria declares Mexican drug war going great!

That's an insight he shared with the GPS audience this morning.

When you're as well-connected and high profile a journalist as Fareed you're obviously privy to inside intel that's not available to the rest of us.

So we'll have to take Fareed's word for it that in spite of the 50,000 dead Mexicans and continuing saturation of the American market with illegal drugs, Calderon's US-dictated war on the cartels has turned some sort of imaginary corner.

Fareed's info is obviously so top-secret and up-to-the-minute that even the heads of state gathered at the recent Cartagena conflab hadn't heard of it. With the exception of Obama and his trusty parrot Steven Harper, every leader in the Western Hemisphere, Calderon included, has had their fill of the "war on drugs."

One of the few bits of supposed evidence that Zakaria cited was that no less than forty high level cartel operatives have been killed since Calderon launched this war in 2006.

Leaving aside the question of whether eliminating forty senior narcos justifies 50,000 dead, what does he suppose happens when a senior leader is taken out?

He is immediately replaced by younger and more aggressive leaders. Based on what I hear from folks who buy the stuff, the continued ample supply of illegal drugs would seem to bear that out.

So is Fareed's declaration of almost-victory based in reality, or is it based on White House talking points?

Jimmie Johnson celebrates Earth Day by painting his race car green

What's this, NASCAR is going eco-friendly?

Must be true. I unearthed this gem on the ESPN site this morning;

JIMMIE GOES GREEN: Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 will be dressed in pewter-like green on Sunday, the first in a series of new color combinations to pay tribute to American muscle cars.

The color is technically called "Mountain Green," and was one of General Motors' classic color combinations from 1967, appearing on every model of passenger car except the Corvette.
Johnson's team chose the greenish color to coincide with Earth Day, which is Sunday.

So we're paying tribute to Earth Day and the American muscle car simultaneously?

Only in America!

Now that the NASCAR folks have got in touch with their inner tree-huggers, what other surprises can we expect?

May be the Sierra Club  will sign up to sponsor a car. 

Here comes Montoya in the World Wildlife Fund Toyota... can he get by the International Climate Change Institute Chevrolet of Clint Boyer?

It's a beautiful thing!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Good news from the farm suicide capital of the world

Check it out.

It's from the Reuters site and it is one happy uplifting story. Seems those backward Indians are finally getting with the program and switching to tractors from their traditional oxen.

Seems you only have to feed the tractor when you need it. The oxen you have to feed year round. Indian farmers are enjoying the same spike in income that American farmers saw when slavery was eliminated.

Of course, we've gilded that moment in history as the "emancipation of the slaves" so we've blocked from memory the economic realities behind that emancipation.

Anyway, nowhere in that happy story about farmers in Maharastra is the word "suicide" mentioned. I find that odd, because Maharastra has been the world leader in farmer suicides for many years.

So is this a "good" news story or just an incomplete one?

Boycott F-1!

Bernie Ecclestone has demonstrated his belief that his F-1 circus and the dollars he makes from it are more important than the democratic aspirations of the people of Bahrain.

It's time to say "enough".

Let the television networks that broadcast the race know that you disagree with Bernie Ecclestone.

Let the advertisers and the team sponsors know too.

Bernie Ecclestone has shamed the world of motor sports.

Ecclestone says the show must go on

It's the circus that Bernie built, and it's on view this weekend from Bahrain.

Also on view are protesters in the thousands taking advantage of the fact that the world's gaze will be on their country because of a Grand Prix.

Bahrain is one of those Arab dictatorships we don't have a problem with because the ruling family is safely in our pocket.

Apparently a good slice of the local populace is unhappy with the ruling family precisely because they are in our pocket.

Yesterday a protest leader was beaten to death by Bahraini security forces.

But the show must go on!

Israel a "terribly retarded culture"

At least according to Dr. Aminadav Dykman, head of translation studies at Hebrew University.

And he's got the cure; what Israel really needs most is a Hebrew translation of the complete works of Shakespeare!

Oh my God! Stop that man before it's too late!

I don't know why, but the magic of Shakespeare has forever eluded me. Perhaps I am missing the Shakespeare-appreciation gene.

To my ear Shakespeare is dull, long-winded, confusing, and highly over-rated. As far as I'm concerned any culture that has escaped the Shakespeare infatuation is doing well.

Just recently a local group was organizing a bus trip to Stratford to view a presentation of The Twelfth Night, or possibly the Twelfth Knight. For the modest sum of sixty dollars, 120 if I were to take the farm manager along, I could rub shoulders with the local intellectual elite on a four hour bus ride, rub shoulders some more through a four hour play, and then rub shoulders some more on the four hour bus ride back.

For me this is a lifetime of shoulder-rubbing with a bunch of people who utterly love Shakespeare. I was lying when I said I'd think about it. Just trying to be polite.

I would pay thousands to escape such torment!

Normally I am in favor of diverting military spending into cultural pursuits. With Shakespeare I must draw the line.

Bringing transparency to censorship; Russian politician proposes good news quota

Vladimir Zhirinovsky is the Newt Gingrich of Russian politics. He may be full of shit but none the less he from time to time passes an interesting idea.

In light of the previous post about the French election I was intrigued by Zhirinovsky's suggestion that there be a quota for good news.

For example, the Globe story on the French Presidential election could carry this disclaimer;

Important aspects of this story have been omitted in order to meet the good news quota.

Is that not preferable to having some faceless editor arrogantly take upon himself the responsibility of denying you access to the news? At least now the news consumer knows that he or she is missing something.

Alas, the next conundrum will be who gets to decide what news is "good" news.

Again in the case of the Globe's treatment of the French election, the surging popularity of the hard left might be bad news to the paper's editorial board, but could very well be good news to many readers. Who will decide what is what?

All the news that's fit to print or all the news that comfortably fits?

If you've followed the French Presidential election campaign at all you'll know that one of the most exciting or terrifying developments, depending on your point of view, is the emergence of the Left Front.

The Left Front is an amalgam of left-wing groups loosely organized around the Communist Party. Its leader Jean-Luc Melenchon has promised a 100% tax on incomes over 300 thousand euros. He's also promised to turn France away from the German-dictated austerity agenda that is crippling Europe. He's the most exciting voice in the Presidential race.

So how is it possible for The Globe and Mail to publish a half page feature about the French Presidential election today without once mentioning either Melenchon or the Left Front?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy 420!

Not sure where this 420 stuff originated.

Originally I couldn't figure out why the pot-heads were celebrating Hitler's birthday. Just doesn't add up. Pot-heads... Hitler?

Lets twist one up and celebrate the Fuhrer?

Then they told me it was also Bob Marley's birthday.

OK, that makes a bit more sense.

Not that pot and making sense necessarily go together all the time...

But for the think tank here at Falling Downs we're a little more comfortable with some birthdays than with others.

At Falling Downs we like to celebrate 420 more than once a year. As you know, 4:20 comes around every 24 hours.

And whether you fire one up once a year or once a day, don't forget to celebrate the folks who have brought the weed of wisdom into the mainstream.


Wally Tucker.

Marc Emery.

Willie Nelson.

Now turn off your computer and go twist one up...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ted Nugent and the cancellation of the Ontario spring bear hunting season

Since the Michigan Madman keeps popping up in the news I'd like to refer back to when he was making headlines in the Toronto Star.

For many years Terrible Ted used to bring his extended family across the Saint Clair River every spring for a spot of bear hunting. Ted was a rich and reasonably famous dude and his hunting party spent tons of money in the rural Ontario economy.

Then, back in '99, Premier Mike Harris, out of the blue, cancelled the spring bear hunt.

Now, on the face of it, you'd think Mike and Ted would have quite a bit in common. Mike was one of those hard right guys who would feel right at home at a Tea Party tea party. A slash and burn union-busting redneck all the way.

So the cancellation of the spring bear hunt was a bit of a shock. People took a second look at Mean Mike. If he cared enough about those cuddly bear cubs who lost their mommies to the spring hunt, he really couldn't be such a bad guy, could he?

Of course the more liberal reaches of the media couldn't help but soften their approach to Harris after that. That most liberal of liberal Canadian newspapers, the Toronto Star, invoked the Nuge in its attempt to whitewash Harris.

You see, of all the critics of the cancellation, the Motor City Maniac was the most vocal, and that's just the foil that the Star needed to discredit all the other critics.

Like, if a self-proclaimed "greasy gun-loving guitar player" from Michigan is against this, it's obviously a good idea. Case closed.

They didn't dwell too much on the back story. A big Harris financial backer by the name of Robert Schad had a soft spot for cuddly bear cubs. Over brandies one night he says to Mean Mike, "hey pal, I'm thinking of another six-figure contribution to your re-election fund, but how would you feel about doing me a little favor? I've just been so worried about all those homeless motherless bear cubs we see every spring because of that darned spring bear hunt..."

And the rest is history.

The rest of the history includes more reports of nuisance bears every year all over rural Ontario, to the point that they're becoming a threat to campers and cottagers, but that's another story.

Sooner or later the spring hunt will be back and so will Ted and his high-spending posse.

Wang Dang Sweet Poon-tang!

Well this should give those editor types over at Before It's News a collective boner.

Over the past week I've written separately about three topics that came together in one mainstream headline today; Allen West supports Nugent in Secret Service probe.

Hell, who even knew these disparate stories could converge and congeal...

West is the guy who broke the story about the card-carrying Communists in the Democratic Party.

You know what the Secret Service guys were probing down in Cartagena to make it onto the front pages.

And then you have the Nuge, the Motor City Madman, proffering his take on an Obama re-election.

Days later the Secret Service is probing the Motor City Motormouth and Allen West is riding to his rescue!

Oh, it's a crazy world, ain't it?

By the way, a reader sent a quibble to the Falling Downs think-tank on that Nugent bit. Claimed I was wrong to suggest that Maple Leaf Gardens would have been half empty if Terrible Ted had been sharing his intemperate pro-gun anti-Obama opinions back in the day.

Well, on reflection, I'd have to agree with the quibble. The crew I went to see Nugent with weren't exactly a peace and love crowd. There's a tendency to view the past through the haze of what you think it should have been instead of what it was. Music should never be tethered to politics.

Good call.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why kids don't like cars anymore

I've commented here and there about why it might be that young drivers aren't driving.

There's a school of thought that claims young people aren't driving because they're more into Facebook and the virtual world and they just don't care.

There's a related school that wants you to think that young people today are so acutely tuned into environmental issues that they are too ashamed to take a car when they can take public transit.


Young people don't drive because they can't afford to.

And it's not just because a minimum wage job can no longer facilitate a car.

It's because a minimum wage job can't possibly pay car insurance.

Back in the day every kid who worked part time at a gas station was driving their own car. Not a fancy car perhaps, but the wheels you needed to get the hell out of your life and your home town.

Without cars Jack Kerouac could not have written On the Road.

I got a personal taste of this anti-car revolution recently when my daughter was car shopping. She's a super-good kid who does everything the right way. Been driving for eight years. Not so much as a parking ticket to blemish her record.

Made her way through university and landed a job as a supply teacher. Public transit does not facilitate the career of a supply teacher. She needs a car.

She can afford a car. She can afford the beginner models of any of the big brands.

But she can't afford the insurance. In every case the insurance payments are more than the car payments. How is such a thing even possible?

You can drive that Toyota Yaris off the lot with no money down and a monthly payment of $250 all in, but the insurance is going to be $300 a month?

Fuck that!

Occupy the insurance companies!

Johny Death and Big Bernie still gung-ho for F-1 circus in Bahrain

The latest news from the Formula 1 camp is that they're still going ahead with the race this weekend.

Mind you, I'm not sure I'm privy to the latest news. The F-1 website appeared to be blacked out when I checked it a couple of minutes ago.

Maybe Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone are having a re-think.

As well they should.

Protesters took to the streets in Bahrain to demonstrate against the F-1 spectacle to be staged this weekend. Billionaire Bernie and his flock of millionaire race-car drivers are due to strut their stuff in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Bernie Ecclestone is one of the biggest success stories in the history of car racing. I love car racing. Formula One, NASCAR, the Saturday night action at Sauble or Varney, I've got a soft spot for it.

Bahrain has been one of the weak links in the Arab Spring. Weak in the sense that since the ruling family there is in our pocket, we can't exactly be all over freedom and democracy like we were in the case of Libya or Syria.

Oh, you're shooting unarmed protesters? Well, carry on then, we'll look the other way.

Sorry Bernie. If I've noticed then hundreds of thousands of other F-1 fans have noticed. You're going to run your race over the protests of thousands of Bahrainis in the streets? That's just not cool.

It's not worth it Mr. Ecclestone.

Pull the plug now.

The wimpy radicalism of the NDP

Andrea Horwath wants to shift more of the financial burden of our fight to slay the deficit onto the "super-rich".

But she doesn't want to give offence.

So she's suggesting a 2% surcharge on folks earning over a half million a year.

Far from not giving offence, that confiscatory two percent earned her a scathing rebutal in the Globe.

Contrast that to the proposal put forward by Left Front Presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon in France.

How about a 100% surcharge on everything over half a million bucks?

Obviously he's not concerned with giving offence!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ted Nugent rocks!

I've been a Nuge fan since the Amboy Dukes days and I don't intend to apologize for it.

Saw Nugent live once, at Maple Leaf Gardens. Cops frisked everybody at the door. I lost a vial of really nice hash oil. They didn't charge anybody; just took your stuff.

Ted Nugent is in a bit of hot water these days on account of some untoward comments he made about the possibility of an Obama re-election. Apparently The Nuge is now a Romney fan.

You know, the "corporations are people too" guy.

Ted's been a corporation for quite a long time. Long enough that he sees more in common with Romney than with the loaded long-hairs who used to buy his concert tickets.

The people who made him wealthy.

I used to have the "Ted Nugent Double Live" album. Pretty intense for the times. Never got the sense I was listening to a corporation.

He was rapping before rap was invented.

That shout-out to Nashville pussy has to be one of the greatest lines in the history of vinyl.

Alas, Ted is showing the wear of the years.

That NRA endorsement and your take on Obama would have left that Toronto arena half empty thirty-five years ago.

But you still rock, dude!

In the woods with Junior

I don't see Junior that much anymore.

He's holed up in his Mom's basement down in the city. Used to have a job at Wal-mart, but he quit to focus on his music.

I didn't actually notice much in the way of music when he took his hiatus from the world of work. Got the impression he was more focused on pussy and pot-smoking than he was on music.

Not that he's faking it in the musical talent department. There's a little thing he did called Nicotine run that you can find on You tube if you're interested.

Oddly enough he managed to put that together back when he was working at Wal-mart.

So I was thrilled when he e-mailed me last week to ask if this weekend would be a good time to come up for a visit.

WTF, he's my kid, anytime is a good time for a visit. And his mother was giving him the car for the weekend. It would be the first time he found his own way to Falling Downs!

I damned near exploded with pride.

Friday night I called to ask the particulars of his itinerary. Nobody picked up so I left a message.

Thirty seconds later his mother called back. I like to avoid talking to the mother if at all possible.

"Junior isn't getting the car unless blahblahblah yadayadayada.


Well, maybe I won't be seeing Junior this weekend after all...

Couple of hours later Junior calls up.

"Hey Dad, any chance you can pick me up?"

Well, godammit, I hate to be a sap, but I want to see the kid, so we strike a deal.

I'll make the three hour drive to the city to pick him up; he takes the bus back.

So I pick up Junior and he's got it all going on. Sporting a new look. Trench coat and Sherlock Holmes cap. And he's got news.

Got his Wal-mart job again.

I never dreamed I'd feel elated on hearing the news that the fruit of my loins is working at Wal-mart, but what the fuck, at least it's a change from sitting in Mom's basement smoking dope.

The mere fact that they hired him back says something good about him.

The fact that he hates it says something good about him too.

So we hung out for a couple days. He drank way too much of my beer. It was great to see him.

Before he headed home I wanted him to have a taste of the real Falling Downs. It ain't all about smoking the weed of wisdom and drinking beer.

I took him out to get a load of firewood.

He was a bit out of sorts at first. Just watched for the first five minutes. Then he got into helping load the truck.

When I fired up the Stihl he asked if he could give it a try.

Music to my ears. Within the next five minutes he'd got the lesson on the cold start, the hot start, and how to figure if you should make the cut from this side or that.

Have to say that with the trench coat and the Sherlock cap he was the most nattily attired lumberjack of all time.

We loaded up the truck and then had a beer, just me and Junior in the woods.

Why being lazy and stupid isn't such a bad thing

I've been around an awful lot of working folks in my time, and it's given me the opportunity to make some observations.

I don't intend this to be a scientific study; more of an anecdotal report on what's what in the world of Human Resources, or HR as they like to call it.

HR is one of the few things you can get into with a degree in Sociology. Then of course it depends on if you took the right Sociology courses. The sociology of organizations is pretty much a must-have. Anything with Industrial sociology in the title is good on the resume.

The sociology of poverty ain't gonna help you much, so if you took that, might as well leave it off the resume.

But where I have to part ways with the professional HR crowd is when it comes to the folks deemed "stupid and lazy".

Think about it for a minute.

I've been in all kinds of workplaces, and I've concluded that stupid and lazy employees are among the best hires.

Your smart and lazy types are the worst. They'll be looking for ways to get on the long-term disability plan from the moment they're hired. Avoid them like the plague. The last thing you want at your company is folks who are really smart and really lazy.

Of course it goes without saying that the best kind of employees are the ones who are both smart and hard-working. These are the kind of people who will take you places. They'll be inventing new stuff, figuring out how to market old stuff as if it's new, and coming up with new terms for both "shit" and "shinola".

But you don't want to gamble too much on these folks. As valuable as they are to your company, your competitor across town might find them even more valuable. Be warned!

Then there's the stupid side of the ledger. You've got your stupid but hard-working and your stupid and lazy.

Here's the problem with the stupid hard workers. They've got a great work ethic. They are loyal and honorable. But they're stupid. They can go a long long way down the wrong road before anybody catches on to the fact that they're on the wrong road.

That can cost your company a lot of money. If you're in HR and your hire costs your company a lot of money, you will be unemployed really fast.

That's why lazy stupid people are your safest bet.

They're not going to rush into anything.

They're not going to go out of their way to show "initiative".

In fact, they aren't going to make a move until you tell them exactly what to do. And even then they won't be rushing into it.

Play it safe.

Hire the stupid and lazy people first.

Let's get the Taliban to train the Afghan Army!

This is such a great idea I'm not surprised one of the beltway think-tankers hasn't come up with it.

Instead of having Canada and the other ISAF partners making these ludicrous open-ended committments to "training" the Afghan army, why not let the Taliban take on the job?

After all, they're mostly Afghans, and would therefore be able to avoid all those emarrassing cross-cultural misunderstandings that constantly undermine our training efforts, such as the predeliction the Afghan army officer corps apparently has for sexually explointing pre-teen boys.

Secondly, if one of those recruits snapped and went on a shooting spree, he'd just be taking out a few of their own instead of the far more valuable ISAF members.

Thirdly, we'd save one hell of a pile of money. The tab for training this lot runs into the billions of dollars. The Taliban would be happy to train them for free.

Finally, it just makes good sense to have the winners train the army. The Taliban have fought the most efficient, modern, and technologically advanced military combine in the history of warfare to what a generous observer might concede is a draw.

Why do they need us to train them?

On the down side, I suppose if we went home and left them to their own devices they could no longer be relied on to follow our orders.

The myth of training Afghanistan's army

As Australia announces its withdrawal from the Afghan quagmire, it’s worth another look at the myth of our so-called training mission there.

Supposedly we are training an Afghan army so that the country will be able to “stand on its own feet” in some happy and democratic future when our ten or fifteen or twenty-five year run of doing God’s work there comes to an end.

It is ISAF, NATO and the Pentagon that have arbitrarily decided that 350,000 men under arms is the sufficient number to ensure a secure and “independent” Afghanistan, a number higher by several orders of magnitude than at any time in the country’s history.

The estimated cost of maintaining that army ranges from four to six billion dollars per year.  This in a country with gross government revenues in the range of one billion dollars.

Do the math.  

What is the nature of the “independence” that a foreign trained, foreign equipped, and foreign funded army is to preserve in Afghanistan?

I believe the technical term would be "imaginary".

Monday, April 16, 2012

Looming Oxycontin travesty just the latest chapter in Canada's genocidal war on Native peoples

The Harper gang has figured out how to solve the wave of Oxycontin addiction that has become a major issue in poor communities across Canada.

It's really simple.

Just take away the Oxy.

Hundreds of thousands of addicts will have no choice but to straighten up and fly right.


Or tap into the vast underground Oxy supply network.

In other words, the federal government intends to solve the Oxy problem  by driving addicts into the arms of criminal networks.

At least this approach is consistent with Harper's stance at Cartagena last week.

There's no problem with the war on drugs or drug laws; the problem is the addicts!

Let's solve the drugs problem by coming down really hard on addicts!

Let's get serious about punishing people who are addicted to drugs!

After all, why make addiction a health issue when you can just shovel more souls into for-profit prisons?

No sector of Canadian society has been more brutally impacted by Oxy addiction than the Native community.

Chronic poverty with no way out, a culture of dependency fostered by the federal government, and a four hundred year tradition of being exploited by the dominant white culture have left Canada's Native community ripe for addiction epidemics.

By all accounts the Oxy epidemic is more virulent and more destructive of Native society than anything that has gone before.

Addiction means dependency. Native communities have succumbed to Oxy addiction for many reasons, all of which are readily fathomable to anyone who makes the effort to understand Indian disenfranchisement in Canada.

To "solve" the problem by simply taking out the Oxy, without any plan to deal with the inevitable fallout, is cruel, inhumane, stupid, and counterproductive.

This policy will further enslave the Native population and further empower the criminal networks.

It is a gigantic step backwards.

Canadian Native Reservations ravaged by Oxycontin addiction

But don't worry, Health Canada and the Department of Indian Affairs is coming to the rescue.

On many reservations the rate of addiction approaches the 100% level among the adult population. So the folks in Ottawa are going to help by taking away Oxycontin!

That's right. No addiction counselling, no methadone replacement therapy, no nothing.

Tens of thousands of Native Canadians are being given the opportunity to quit their Oxy addictions by going cold turkey overnight.

Some Native leaders are warning that as existing supplies run down there will be a massive disruption of the social fabric of some of these isolated and impoverished communities.

There is almost guaranteed to be a crime and suicide wave of epic

So far the warnings are falling on deaf ears.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Stephen Harper exposes himself

Here's the link to the PMO just so you don't have to take my word for it.

At the meeting of heads of state of all the Americas except Cuba, Harper distinguished himself by agreeing with everything Obama said and ignoring the wishes of the rest of the Hemisphere.

As you can see, his parting observations don't even bother with a nod to your usual clap-trap about human rights and democracy.

Harper gets straight to the meat of the matter.

The entirety of his remarks concerned the resource development industry, or mining as commoners refer to it.

For Harper this trip was about nothing other than promoting corporate mining interests.

Maybe those corporate interests could reimburse the taxpayers the cost of the trip?

Elite Israeli troops found napping on Northern border

Over the years we've become accustomed to hearing the superlatives piled on the IDF. They are the most disciplined, most courageous, most moral fighting force of all time.

Turns out they're also one of the sleepiest.

Seems the soldiers from the 101st Paratroop Brigade were stationed at the border to ambush hashish smugglers and Hezbollah terrorists. When HQ was unable to make contact with the unit they sent a scouting mission out.

Fearing the worst, the scouts were relieved that there had been no mass abduction of Israeli troops. Instead, the entire unit was stretched out in the midday sun enjoying some peaceful nap time.

I'm thinking they probably intercepted one of those Bekaa valley drug mules the day before.

US claims Taliban attacks are "clear sign of our progress"

Taliban fighters launched seven simultaneous attacks in the Afghan capital today.

The attacks come less than a month after Senators Lieberman, McCain and Graham penned an op-ed in the Washington Post called Sustaining Success in Afghanistan, an article that pushes wishful thinking into the realm of self-delusion by taking as its point of departure the premise that there is some "success" to sustain.

Today's Taliban attack is one of the most serious in Kabul since the Talibs were routed in 2001. If there is a momentum to be seen in Afghanistan, which side is it favoring? Facts on the ground would suggest that it is the Taliban who are sustaining success.

Nevertheless the usual spin barrage came from the usual sources today. Hillary condemned the attacks as "cowardly".

Ambassador Ryan Crocker actually managed to turn it into a good news story. Good news for us, at that! Somehow the fact that eleven years after their defeat the Taliban can launch attacks at will in the capital is a "clear sign of progress"!

Crocker must be thrilled that while our progress was manifesting itself in Kabul today, just over the border in Pakistan 400 Taliban and al-Qaeda militants were sprung from a Pakistani prison.

There'll be lots more signs of our progress in the weeks and months ahead!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Former NATO rebels making out like bandits in Libya

Hey, maybe it's because they're bandits?

The totally inept NTC has been spreading around the wealth to former rebels who gave up their imaginary day jobs to fight the good NATO fight against Gadaffi.

Gadaffi is long gone and nobody in the country had any idea how many rebels were required to dispatch him.

Certainly not the NTC.

Once the number of supposed rebels claiming the rebel honorarium passed the total population of Libya, the NTC started asking some hard questions.

Questions like "how could you have been in the fight when your passport shows you didn't re-enter the country till three months after Gadaffi was deposed?"

Or "how could you be fighting Gadaffi when you had a London address and phone number and there is no record that you ever left London?"

In fact, abuse of the rebel bonus scheme was so rampant the NTC has cancelled it altogether.

Which makes it a safe bet to predict what our NATO rebels will be fighting for next!

Obama's Secret Service detail sacked after being secretly serviced by Colombian hookers

Here's another good argument for keeping it in your pants.

Being a member of the President's security detail has got to be one heck of a sweet gig. You get a decent suit, a natty pair of shades, and a gun.

And you get to literally rub elbows with the Top Dog, the biggest of the big dogs on the world stage.

Sure, I suppose there's an element of risk, but the last time one of these Secret Service dudes actually took a bullet was in the Reagan era.

So imagine you're on the team sent to Cartagena to protect POTUS from the many threats that could be lurking there in Colombia.

You scout the terrain. Not a terror suspect in sight. But man, those Colombian babes are hotter than hot! And friendly too!

Mama's back home in Maryland or Virginia and what she doesn't know won't hurt her.

Before you can say "pants-off " the POTUS security detail has got the Colombian bimbo detail rocking the top floor of the Cartagena Intercontinental Hotel!

And then they get busted.

Shamed in the world's media.

Disgraced and humiliated.

Bet Mama knows now!

Good luck fellas!

Drugs debate edging into the mainstream

For a long time it's been obvious for anyone with eyes to see that the "war on drugs" causes infinitely more harm than do the drugs themselves.

It's due to the courage of a few people bold enough to speak out that the issue is gradually making its way into the mainstream.

The courage of folks like Marc Emery and Wally Tucker before him, folks who paid a steep personal price to speak the truth.

Their cause is now being taken up by police chiefs and attorneys general.

Newspapers of record in both Canada and the US have recently published editorials that question the wisdom of our present course in the war on drugs. The simplest barometer of how well the 40 year old war is working can be found at your local high school.

Can the kids still get drugs?

You bet they can, and the drugs are cheaper and more potent.

There is no valid argument whatsoever to continue on the course that we've been on these last forty years.

The drugs war is on the agenda in Colombia this weekend, where only Obama and his trusty parrot Prime Minister Harper will be arguing for staying the course.

And once the mainstream opinion makers are questioning the war on drugs, our leaders will eventually follow.

Obama in Colombia to reassert US hegemony

Obama wasn't in the country more than a few hours when he unleashed this whopper;

The United States has never been so excited about dealing with the countries of this region as equal partners...

You can bet more than a few of the locals choked on their burritos on hearing that one.

Equal partners?

As if!

Truth is, America has a problem south of the Rio Grande. While the US  has been distracted bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, a lot of our once-dependable allies in Central and South America have started acting like sovereign nations.

And not just sovereign nations, but free and democratic ones at that!

Hey, bad shit can happen when Uncle Sam turns his back.

In fact, some of these sovereign states are doing stuff that just doesn't fly with the beltway think-tank crowd.

They talk to Cuba.

They talk to Chavez.

They don't automatically sign on to the latest anti-Iranian pogroms.

And horror of horrors, they are now talking amongst themselves about legalizing drugs!

OH. MY. GOD!!!

These are the countries that have paid the blood price for the idiotic war on drugs that America has been forcing down their throats for the last forty years.

They know the war on drugs has been a fraud and a failure. They're tired of it. They want to try something sensible, something that might save lives and money.

So when Obama comes into town blowing kisses and talking about working with the junior partners as "equals" you know right away he's full of shit.

American democracy has been terminally corrupted by interest groups that succeed time after time in having Washington get behind policies that are not in the interests of the American street.

The legalization of drugs is one of those issues. There are powerful lobby groups who are doing just fine with the status quo.

The prison guard unions.

The for-profit prison system, sometimes referred to as "the prison industrial complex."

Big pharma.

What are the chances that Obama will make a decision that will alienate those lobby groups, no matter how obviously sensible it might be for average Americans or the rest of the planet?

Absolutely nil.

Friday, April 13, 2012

FIA President Johnny Death gives thumbs up to Bahrain Formula One race

Johnny Death, aka Jean Todt, has apparently given the green light to next week's F-1 circus in Bahrain.

I've been following F-1 since that Surtees fellow was world champ on the two wheelers and the four wheelers.

That's never happened again.

And I've never heard of Johnny Death till today.

All along I've been under the impression that Big Bernie calls the shots in F-1.

That would be Bernie Ecclestone, the guy who built Grand Prix racing from a money-losing sideline to a billion dollar industry.

Bernie's website assures me that Jean Todt has consulted all the relevant stakeholders in Bahrain, including the Shia opposition, and everybody is gung-ho for the Grand Prix.

If that's true maybe we won't get to see Lewis Hamilton running over that IED after all.

Flaunting our moral superiority; why we're more righteous than the People of the Towel

Here in the enlightened West we like to look down our noses at the backward antics of our Toweler friends in the Middle East.

Not just our friends, but our Towelhead enemies too.

We are just light years ahead of them, aren't we?

In Saudi Arabia they've got morality police strolling the streets making sure the gals are properly covered up.

Same in Iran. Operatives from the Ministry of Vice and Virtue will make darn sure you're not cavorting with anybody who the Ayatohllas haven't approved for your oinky boinky time.

But thank God we're so far ahead of all that medieval shit.

Just ask Bobby Petrino.

Until today Bobby was the coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. But he's been outed as a guy who dropped his drawers for someone other than his lawfully wedded wife.

By "outed" I mean it's one of the biggest news stories in the land.

Our news media could chose to focus on more important stuff, at least if they thought it was more important.

But no, it's newsworthy that Bobby couldn't keep his pecker in his pants.

Wave your 3.5 million dollar a year job goodbye, Mr. Petrino.

You've had the bad luck of falling into the clutches of America's Ministry of Vice and Virtue.

Also known as "the media".

Welcome to Iran!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mali's new civilian rulers promise peace and total war

Peace for the foreign multi-nationals making a fortune in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Total war on the Tuareg rebels who have seized the north of the country from the corrupt and inept Bamako government.

Interim leader Dioncounda Traore said all the right things after coup-leader Captain Sango handed over power today.

He's gung-ho for the war on drugs.

He's 100% on board for the war on al Qaeda.

They're gonna love him in Washington!

Canadian mining conglomerates breathe easy as Captain Sango sobers up and returns Mali to civilian rule

The dream is over.

Captain Sango's dream of leading his impoverished African republic into a new era.

Sango and his band of fellow travelers seized the levers of power in Mali a week ago after a night of heavy drinking.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Cooler heads have prevailed and Captain Sango has turned the presidential office over to Dioncounda Traore, the speaker of parliament.

That's good news for the Canadian mining companies that account for a big chunk of Mali's GDP.

It's also good news for the Canadian government, which has made Mali a pet foreign aid project.

Canadian profits should be safe and sound for the time being.

Card-carrying Marxists infiltrate Congress

Yup. They sure do. And obviously they are Dems. What else would you expect?

Republican Representative Allen West broke the news at a town hall in Florida the other day. The Progressive Caucus of the Democratic Party is utterly riddled with hard-core commies. West figures there's about 80 of them.

You know the type. Go on and on about how the working class is getting a raw deal etc. Hell, if the working class would just work a little harder, maybe we wouldn't have had to ship their jobs to China.

And work for less. Ya, there was a time when a Pontiac in every pot and two chickens in the garage made sense, but thankfully America has gotten over that irrational flirtation with socialism.

Let me bottom-line it for you, Pinkos.

A "fair wage" is the wage that somebody will agree to do the job for. If I'm a business owner, and I can find somebody willing to work for less than minimum wage, why should the government throw all sorts of legal obstacles in the way of my hiring that person? After all, he or she has kids to try to feed too.

And enough about this health care nonsense. Sickness and disease is God's way of telling you your time is up. How are health care providers supposed to make a profit if they are forced to insure the sick and the diseased? That's communism through and through!

I think it's obvious what the Democratic Communists have done to education. The Dems are totally in bed with the teacher's unions, and you know what that means.

They're all about teaching your kids about evolution and homosexuality. Is that the America the founding fathers had in mind?

And you'll notice that it's these commie Democrats who are always the first to question our wars against drugs and terror. These are the two biggest challenges facing America today, and to have these congressional saboteurs working against us every step of the way is something that has gone on far too long.

So good for you, Congressman West, for shining a light on the seedy communist underbelly of the House of Representatives!

Axl Rose announces new Axl Rose Hall of Axl Rose Fame for Malibu

The announcement followed news that Axl had declined the honor of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Critics immediately assumed that was Rose’s way of saying he was bigger than Rock and Roll.

It’s not that Axl’s too big; it’s just his head.

Axl Rose has suffered from a common condition that afflicts many stars. In Axl’s case though, the disease has made the transition from psychological to actually having physical symptoms. Thus, when people say “Axl’s got a swollen head” they’re not kidding. His head really has gotten too big for his body.

Hollywood psychoanalyst to the stars Dr. Helmut Finkelbeiner  has treated many gigantic egos, but has never seen another case where the bloated sense of self leads to actual bloating of the cranium.

“Axl has suffered horribly from this affliction. He’s basically confined to the two story solarium at his Malibu mansion. There’s an eight foot set of sliding doors that still allow him to get in and out of the house, but he can’t get in a car anymore so he’s pretty much stuck in Malibu.”

Insiders report that while Axl exhibited many early symptoms of Bloated Head Syndrome as early as the late ‘80’s, things really took a turn for the worse when he ditched his original bandmates.  The thirteen year gestation period for Chinese Democracy saw a steady deterioration of his condition.

The creation of the Axl Rose Hall of Axl Rose Fame will give fans an opportunity to pay homage to the greatest singing voice in the history of music.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hillbilly blogger scoops major media again

What was my advice to Ozzie Guillen a couple of days ago?

Shut the fuck up for a week or so and give your brain a chance to catch up to your mouth.

And specifically about Ozzie's love for Fidel; this ain't a good career move, my friend.

Mind you, I love Fidel for exactly the same reason. Nine hundred and some documented CIA plots to assassinate the old commie windbag, and the fucker is still there!

How can you not love that?

But I can say it, Ozzie. You can't.

I don't coach a MLB team in South Florida. You do.

For fucks sakes Oz, turn the damned brain switch on...

The Marlins suspended Guillen for five games today.

Dude, you should listen to me!

The political economy of screwing workers

I was absently scrolling through the interweb when I happened upon a review of a book called The Political Economy of Work in the 21st Century by Martin Slick.

That caught my eye. Before I knew it I was reading an excerpt from said book concerning the divesture of Avondale Shipbuilding from the Northrop Grumman war-profiteering combine.

Northrop always had an awful time finding qualified workers to build its ships. I found that hard to believe, but even I, pro labor as I am, was starting to believe that maybe it's true; maybe Northrop and all the other contractors involved in heavy manufacture simply can't find the skilled workers they need in America.

I put it down to the sorry state of America's education system. America's education system is so fucked that you can't even train a high-school graduate to be a welder.

No offence to my brother welders, but we don't exactly need the creme de la creme of the education world to train as welders. At some of your more intricate fitting assignments you'd want guys who have a reasonable facility with math in general and geometry in particular, but generally speaking, welding is the trade that makes the least demands on the intellect.

So imagine my surprise when I make my way through Slick's book and discover this tidbit:

There is no convincing evidence of a shortage of welders. Avondales efforts (to bring in foreign workers on HB-2 visas) are a transparent effort to utilize immigration laws to pay substandard wages.


So it wasn't the education system after all!

It was about screwing the workers.

Wiebo Ludwig: radical Christian environmentalist or neighborhood bully?

Wiebo Ludwig went to his reward today. There's an unseemly amount of ink being spilled dissecting the man's legacy. Who was Wiebo Ludwig?

No less an authority than the National Post has declared that the world is a safer place without him. I'm not so sure.

A lot of the anti-Wiebo diatribes focus on the fact that Ludwig was the leader of a fundamentalist cult that held archaic (by contemporary liberal standards) views on the role of women in society. That is neither here nor there. Rural Alberta is home to many cult-like religious communities who hold archaic views on the role of women in society.

For the most part, the rest of Alberta doesn't have a problem with them.

What made Ludwig different than the other misogynistic cult leaders was his unwavering opposition to Big Oil practices. Ludwig didn't stop at petitioning his local MP and appearing at local meetings to blow off steam about energy industry practices that even his critics agree were wantonly negligent of the health and safety of local communities.

That's what eventually made Wiebo a direct action kind of guy. He didn't just complain about sour gas wells. He did something about them.

Aware that taking on billion dollar multi-nationals through the legal system was a non-starter, Ludwig became an amateur oil-field terrorist. Amateur is the key word here. Littering gas well access roads with roofing nails isn't exactly al-Qaeda country.

In the course of his direct action campaign Ludwig managed to turn a spotlight on industry practices, something that even his most virulent critics must give him credit for.

The tragic death of Karman Willis may have had a lot to do with raising Ludwig's profile, but it wasn't directly related to either his supposed cult or his battle against Big Oil, other than giving Ludwig and his extended family the reputation of being local weirdos who were therefore fair game for a gang of local teens.

So who was Wiebo Ludwig?

By all accounts he was a neighborhood bully.

He was also a radical Christian environmentalist who truly believed that the wholesale rape of the land by Big Oil was a sin before God. He gave gas-well safety a profile it never had before, and all rural Albertans can thank him for that.

Let that be his legacy.

Leafs to fans; "Thanks for your money. Sorry we sucked. See ya in September!"

Larry Tannenbaum, Chairman of the Board of the Corporate Maple Leafs, took out full-page ads in the Toronto dailies today to apologize for  the embarrassment of the past season.

It was a “thanks for your money, sorry we sucked” bit of excuse making, with a vague promise of doing better next year.

“Passion, hard work, accountability will always be the hallmarks of our organization.”

Oh for fucks sakes Larry, cut that shit out!

Everybody knows that Leaf season tickets have always been more than hockey tickets in Toronto. In the past few years the cool thing to do among the coolest of the movers and shakers is to leave those seats empty, if not for the full game, at least from the middle of the second period.

So when Larry says "we do not take our fans for granted" he's probably right. People will line up to buy those tickets and leave the seats empty just to flaunt their nouveau riche cred.

Larry doesn't actually have to give a shit.

“We are 100% committed to ensuring we ice a team that competes with the NHL’s best.”

Who the hell is “we” Larry? And when are they gonna start?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Our hypocrisy on full display over Syrian conflict

Syria's civil strife spilled over two borders today, drawing the predictable outraged condemnation from the usual American and NATO suspects.

In Lebanon a news cameraman was shot as he stood at the border. In Turkey, at least two Syrian rebels died when they were pursued into Turkish territory after staging an ambush on a Syrian Army checkpoint.

Contrast that to the outraged condemnation that ensued when thousands of Turkish commandos spilled over the Iraq border last October after Kurdish rebels had launched an attack on a Turkish Army checkpoint.

There wasn't any.

Oh, there was condemnation alright - of the rebels!

NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen, British PM David Cameron, and President Obama spoke as one in condemning the rebel attack.

Not even the hint of a scolding for Turkey for those thousands of troops violating Iraqi sovereignty.

And that's not new. Turkey has sent its troops into neighboring countries dozens of times since the latest round of the Kurdish uprising started in the middle eighties.

They have been every bit as ruthless with their own Kurdish population as Syria has been with these foreign funded "peaceful protesters" we've been organizing, paying, and provisioning with weapons.

Don't let that confuse you. Not all dead victims of cross-border incursions are equal.

Turkey is a NATO member and our erstwhile ally. They buy lots of weapons from us. Everything they do is perfectly understandable. When they kill their rebels and violate the territorial integrity of their neighbors it's a good thing.

In fact, we applaud their restraint.

Syria is friendly with Iran and buys weapons from Russia. Obviously they are bad guys. Their rebels are peaceful protesters, freedom fighters, and martyrs.

We condemn the brutality of the Syrian regime and demand that the perpetrators be brought to justice.

Business as usual.