Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wanted: a strong leader

Major Canadian political party seeks leader, bilingual, able to take charge of faction-ridden caucus. Must have personality plus, strong and determined TV persona, and must have his own red tie...

Canadian readers may remember last year's federal election. (Was it only last year? ed.) The TV campaign -- the debates, the ads, the 24/7 analysis and punditry -- stick in my mind. We had five (5) parties contesting the election (being charitable to the Greens), led by four (4) strong personalities.

Who was the weakest link? Give you a wasn't the woman! Step forward, poor little put-upon Stéphane Dion. Yes, he of the red tie, pencil-neck and somewhat owlish visage...that's when he didn't appear more like a deer caught in the headlights.

I felt genuinely sorry for M. Dion. Being portrayed in a Tory attack ad with a puffin shitting on his head was just a small portion of the indignity and scorn heaped upon him every day. He was indeed shat upon from a great height, and by all and sundry including many within his own so-called united party.

I remember him as playing the 97-pound weakling to "Call me Steve" Harper's beach bully. It seemed he wore the glasses to protect his eyes from having sand kicked in them! And when he tried to go on the offensive himself, as in the debates, it was rather like watching a sheep trying to savage a wolf.

M. Dion must have been mightily relieved when it was all over and a bloodless coup put him out of his misery. But he was no more relieved than card-carrying Liberals who thought that now they could crown a new leader, a strong leader, one who would impose some order on the fractious party and stand up to the attacks of Mr. Harpoon and the barking of the dreaded square-jawed Baird.

Alas, the Liberals chose Michael Ignatieff, the latest in an increasingly long line of urban liberal intellectuals who have difficulty relating to Joe Sixpack from Otter Haunch SK.

How can one describe the Iggster? He is taller than his predecessor, more...saturnine, perhaps? He is thin, angular...another Abraham Lincoln, maybe? Except you can't picture him splitting rails or operating a jackhammer or anything vaguely physical like that.

Indeed, in the truly awful ads in which we see him standing in a copse near Cherry Beach, he manages to look quite uncomfortable, as if afraid that a squirrel or raccoon might jump on him. Maybe that's why he keeps his voice so low. And the vapid script... I keep waiting for him to say "Gosh, so these are trees, eh. We should do something with these...something better!"

Dear readers, Walt has seen this movie before. We've got yet another bemused and feckless dude (in the old sense of the word), a puppet in the hands of the Toronto Liberal establishment (hello, Senator Smith!), who's going to shoot it out against the Sundance Kid. Guess who's going to get killed?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Land of disasters

No, we're not speaking of Toronto sports teams. I mean real disasters, natural disasters: hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, wildfires, and of course typhoons. No country that I know of is more afflicted by these things than the Philippines.

The Pilipino national anthem begins (in English) "Land of the morning", but I think "Land of disasters" would be a more accurate soubriquet. You name it, they've got it. Not just natural disasters but manmade ones, like ferry sinkings, too. Yet in the face of one calamity after another, Pilipinos remain, in my observation, cheerful and optimistic.

And they always manage to survive. The Philippines is a nation of survivors. But that doesn't mean they don't need outside help.

Right now Pilipinos are suffering from the worst flooding seen since the 1960s, resulting from a tropical storm which swept across the northern islands a couple of days ago. You've probably seen video clips on TV. If you would like to do something to help the 1000s of displaced and afflicted families, you can send a donation through the Canadian or US Red Cross.

Click here to visit the Canadian Red Cross's web page on Asian typhoons. You'll find a link you can use to make a donation online. The people of the land of disasters will thank you, and God will bless you for your charity.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The problem is the leaders: Rick Mercer

Sometimes Rick Mercer's TV rants don't work so well when they appear in print. Sometimes they are better. Today's analysis of the character and style of our three (Anglo) political leaders is one of the best pearls Mercer has ever cast before us. Read it!

Just a taste... Here's what he has to say about Mr. Harpoon:

"We have a minority government that bombards us, practically year-round, with campaign-style ads that are more vitriolic and personal than anything ever witnessed in Canadian history.

When it comes to issues that Canadians care about – the economy, Afghanistan, heath care, medical isotopes – there is a campaign of misinformation that qualifies as pathological.

When asked the philosophy behind our Prime Minister's communication strategy, Mr. Harper's former campaign manager, Tom Flanagan, summed it up with the phrase: “It doesn't have to be true; it just has to be plausible.”

Voting Conservative is not a problem for a majority of Canadians; we've done it before. Voting for an angry guy who thinks we're stupid and will believe anything? That takes some getting used to."

Mercer is equally scathing about the Iggster and Jack Laydown. Read the column!

Vatican confirms Pope to visit Fatima

Vatican Radio has now confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI will travel to the Marian shrine at Fatima, in Portugal, in May 2010. Father Federico Lombardi, the Director of the Holy See’s Press Office, said the Holy Father plans to preside over religious celebrations marking the 93rd anniversary of the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin at Fatima.

Click here and follow the link to hear the Vatican Radio report on this and the Pope's other travel plans.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pope to visit Fatima next May - DO hold your breath!

Yesterday Associated Press broke the news that government officials in Portugal have announced that Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima next year.

This major announcement has not yet been confirmed by the Vatican, which normally waits until a few weeks before a papal trip. But it's not likely that the Portuguese government would give out the news were plans not firm.

The AP report says the Holy Father will preside at celebrations marking the 93rd anniversary of the miraculous apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima on May 13, 1917.

Traditional Catholics, particularly Fatima scholars like Father Nicholas Gruner, are speculating that the Pope may use the occasion to reveal, at long last, the words Our Lady confided to Sister Lucy, in the Third Secret of Fatima.

Those words, indeed the very existence of the Third Secret, have long been the subject of extreme controversy in Catholic circles. The Vatican was supposed to divulge the Third Secret in 1960, according to the instructions of the Virgin, but it did the opposite, hiding Sister Lucy's handwritten notes deep in the Vatican Archives.

Why all the secrecy? Why has every Pope since Vatican II kept silent while princes of the Church tried to silence the voice of Our Lady? The Third Secret is widely believed to predict corruption and apostasy in the Church, and the loss of the traditional Catholic Faith which has followed on Vatican II. No wonder the Church doesn't want to talk about it!

But Benedict XVI has read the Secret and has called it the greatest prophecy of the 20th century. He knows what it says and what Our Lady wants him to do to avoid the loss of millions, even billions, of lives and souls.

The Holy Father faces opposition from powerful forces within the Vatican itself, notably Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the papal wannabe. But perhaps -- let us hope and pray -- the Pope has decided that at last he must act! Those who hold to the traditional Catholic Faith should be counting the days until May 13, 2010.

Most Catholics know little or nothing about Fatima and Our Lady's prophecies for these last times. If you would like further information, let me know how to contact you by snail-mail, and I'll send you The True Story of Fatima, by Father John DeMarchi. Knowing the truth about the Message of Fatima could save your soul!

20 things you should know about Steve

This just in from Agent Harper-lover she!

20 things everyone should know about Stephen Harper
and his Reform-Conservative government

1. They rigged a self-serving and politicized infrastructure stimulus program so that most of the money could land in Conservative-held ridings, delaying projects so much that only 12% are in construction and creating jobs.
2. He called Canada “second-tier socialistic country” and a “Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term.”
3. They put Canada on track for a deficit before the recession hit and now holds the record of the largest deficit on record at 56 billion (and climbing).
4. They failed to plan for the H1N1 flu by delaying the order of the flu vaccine and sending body bags to remote communities instead.
5. They spent 5 times more on self-promotion than informing the public on how to protect themselves from H1N1.
6. In the past two months, he has twice failed to defend Canada’s healthcare system against outrageous attacks from ultra-right Conservatives in the United States.
7. He kept ministers in his cabinet who called the medical isotope crisis they helped create “sexy” and made jokes about the listeriosis crisis.
8. He broke his promise not to raise taxes with a $13 billion EI payroll tax.
9. They pick and choose when to protect the rights of Canadian citizens at home and abroad.
10. He called women, minorities, the disabled, and gays and lesbians “left-wing fringe groups” and Canada’s independent judiciary “left-wing ideologues.”
11. He keeps a minister in his cabinet who openly mused about putting 10-year-olds in jail.
12. He denied that the country was in a recession and failed to plan for it, and only agreed to provide economic stimulus after causing a constitutional crisis.
13. He said he doesn’t care if “Canada ends up as one national government or two national governments or several national governments, or some other kind of arrangement.”
14. He holds the record for unelected Senate appointments for a single year — 27 (28 if you count Mike Puffy as taking up two seats, ed.), more than any Prime Minister in Canadian history – after saying he would never appoint Senators.
15. He has presided over the loss of nearly a half million high quality fulltime jobs since October, with no plan to replace them with the next generation of jobs.
16. He has pushed for amending the Canada Health Act to allow for-profit-pay-as-you-go Medicare in this country and abdicated any federal role in ensuring its guiding principles of public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability, and accessibility.
17. He said "There will be no special status, formally or informally, for Quebec or any other province."
18. He pushed for further deregulation and less oversight over banks and financial institutions.
19. He has done nothing to address the hollowing out of corporate Canada due to a weakening in foreign takeover rules.
20. He bragged that he was opposed to government programs to eliminate child poverty and promote cultural identity.

"100th anniversary"

Hey! The previous post was no. 100! How about that...
It's said the average blog has about 20 readers and last about two months. Walt has done a little better than that.
If you're enjoying the blog, or getting provoked or finding food for thought, whatever, please let me know. Click on "contact" below to find out how easy it is to send a message to Walt!

A prescient prognostication

Here's an excerpt from a speech given by a would-be leader of his country in October, 2002:

I know that even a successful war against ____ will require a ____ occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of ____ without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East and encourage the worst, rather than the best impulses of the Arab world...

Today's multiple choice quiz:
1. Was the speaker referring to (a) Canada, (b) Iraq, (c) Afghanistan, (d) the little mosque on the Prairie?
2. Who was speaking? (a) Dubya (b) Steve Harper (c) Saddam Hussain (d) Hussain Obama
3. Was the speaker (a) a warmonger (b) a peacemonger (c) in favour of the war (d) against the war (e) waffling?

Answers: (b), (d) and maybe (e).

Tomorrow's question:
When will Obama declare victory (didn't Dubya already do that? ed.) and bring the troops home?

Tax revolt...against whom?

Ontario political pundits are having difficulty reading the entrails of the St. Paul's by-election and recent opinion polls. It was hoped by new Tory leader Timmeh Hudak, and feared by Liberal backroomers that pissed-off voters would trounce the new and very liberal Liberal candidate.

Instead he won in a walk, in a by-election in which only about 25% of eligible voters bothered to come out. Neither the proposed Harmonized Sales Tax nor the scandals at e-Health or the Ontario Lottery Corporation seemed to exercise them much.

For those who have been asleep, the HST is being put into place by Ontario's Liberal government at the behest of "Call me Steve" Harper's federal Tories, to take effect next summer. The McGuinty Liberals, having resisted harmonization for years, say that we need it now because of the recession. So will it be dismantled when the recession is over? Don't hold your breath!

What they're saying down at Tim's is that it doesn't matter, because we're already paying 13%in taxes -- 8% to the province and 5% to the feds. What they don't seem to realize is that many ordinary, everyday things are presently exempt from the provincial sales tax. When the HST goes into effect, you'll see an immediate 8% increase in the cost of a haircut, a newspaper and your daily double-double!

Doesn't anyone care about this? In other countries they'd be out marching in the streets. The only marching we see in Ontario is during multicultural festivals!

Here's a twist! It's just possible that the voters may be smart enough to place the blame for the HST squarely where it should like -- with the Tories!

A poll in today's online Toronto Star asks "Will the introduction of a harmonized sales tax be a key issue for you in the next federal election?" As I write, the tally is "Yes" 63%, "No" 36%. Harper has been a study in silence, leaving McGuinty to take the flak for this blatant tax grab, but perhaps we hosers won't be taken in, after all.

Footnote: Chantal Hébert has an excellent column in today's Toronto Star making this same point. And we didn't even discuss it before sitting down at our respective keyboards!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Always time for Tim Horton's

If you missed yesterday's speeches to the Disunited Nations by the likes of Muhammar Gaddafi and Mahmoud Ahmadinajad, the dictators (democratically elected leaders, surely! ed.) of Libya and Iran respectively, you weren't alone.

While world leaders, even President Obama, were gathered in solemn assembly for the gabfest on the banks of the Hudson, Canadian PM "Call me Steve" Harper was in Oakville, Ontario for a double-double and a donut at Tim Horton's. Where else?

The occasion (for it seems Harpoon does not lower himself to mingle with the plebes just any old day) was the iconoic donut shops' moving their head office back to Canada, after 14 years in the wilderness of Delaware. Welcome home, Tim's!

And Steve...glad to see you patronising a Canadian company in the same way you patronise Canadians generally. It's always time for Tim Horton's.

Save the blue-fin tuna!

On the National news last night, CBC-TV carried a long and informative piece on the over-fishing by Europeans of the blue-fin tuna. Stocks are OK in the western Atlantic, but closer to Europe the mighty (and mighty tasty) fish is close to "commercial extinction". So says Dr. Boris Worm. Isn't that a great name for an icthyologist? Or for someone who studies fish?

And if Dr. Worm should change his mind about the threat to the blue-fin tuna, wouldn't that be a case of the worm having turned?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tories recruit new candidates for Greater Toronto Area

The Conservative Party of Canada has for the last couple of decades been pretty much shut out of the Toronto area. Now they are ramping up their pre-election preparations, recruiting new candidates who they hope will be more appealing to GTA voters, especially in Mississauga.

Pictured here is Tory leader Steve Harpoon with one of his new MP wannabes, identified only as "Mr. Singh". Note his Tory blue turban. He hopes to unseat Liberal MP Ruby "Princess" Dhalla in the riding of Brampton-Springdale. (Not "Sikhdale"? ed.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

What ever happened to pocket books?

Two bits. Twenty-five cents. That's I paid for the first "pocket book" I ever purchased. I can't recall the title, but remember that it was published by Pocket Books, whose logo was a kangaroo holding a book. Very cute.

The pocket book was printed on newsprint, perfect bound, with flimsy cardboard covers. And it was indeed small enough to fit in your pocket.

Slightly larger -- presumably made for bigger pockets -- were Bantam books, published by Bantam which, sure enough, had a bantam rooster for its logo. They cost 35 cents. Or maybe 50 cents for an extra thick one.

I bought lots of those because Bantam published the Nero Wolfe detective novels by Rex Stout and the hilarious stories of Max Shulman such as The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

That was a long time ago, yet it seems like only yesterday. But only yesterday I purchased a new book by J. Maarten Troost, Lost on Planet China. (You'll find my review below.)

It's a paperback -- that's what they're called now -- printed on newsprint (albeit of good quality), and will fit in your pocket if you have cargo pants or other commodious garments. It cost $14.95. And they wonder why booksellers are going out of business!

One man's attempt to understand the world's most mystifying nation

That's the subtitle of the book Walt's reading, Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost (Broadway Books, New York, 2008). It's part travel adventure, part history, part political commentary, and well worth reading.

The author is half Dutch, half Czech, was raised in Canada now makes his home in the USA. His previous books include The Sex Lives of Cannibals, and Getting Stoned with Savages. The bizarre titles made me pick them up off the library shelf, and I was hooked after just a couple of pages.

Mr. Troost gives the lie to those who say that China is becoming more like the west every day, thanks to the pressure of international business and economics. Tain't so! The author travelled through parts of China not long after I came home, and what he writes is what I saw. China is still very much a world apart.

Some of you, if you haven't been to China, may think that Mr. Troost is a fabulist -- making it all up. Tain't so! Anyone who has spent even a couple of days in the Middle Kingdom will agree with his observation that "much of life in China is essentially a flirtation with anarchy".

The Houston Chronicle calls Lost on Planet China "at once breezy, funny and edgy, with enough good reporting to make your feel what it's like to Walk China's real streets". Yes. Read it!

Afghanistan commander's assessment: FAILURE

The Washington Post has put the truth -- or at least the unclassified version of it -- out there for all to see. Today it published US General Stanley McChrystal's Commander's Initial Assessment of the Afghan war.

Dated 30/8/09, the report to US Defense Secretary Robert Gates is brutally frank. The West is losing the war, McChrystal says, and will have to withdraw in defeat unless more troops are sent to pursue a "radically revised strategy".

The general says failure to reverse "insurgent momentum" in the near term risks a situation in which "defeating the insurgency is no longer possible."

Here are some other pertinent quotes:
"The overall situation is deteriorating."
"Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it."
"Failure to provide adequate resources also risks a longer conflict, greater casualties, higher overall costs and ultimately, a critical loss of political support. Any of these risks, in turn, are likely to result in mission failure."

General McChrystal, who already has at his disposal more than 100,000 Western troops, mostly American but including thousands of Canadians, has reportedly drafted a separate request for yet more troops, but has not sent it to the Pentagon.

The idea of putting "more boots on the grounds" faces resistance from within Obama's Democratic Party, which controls Congress. Public opinion in the other NATO countries which might be asked to contribute, is even more strongly against any further commitment.

The obvious course of action is for the Americans to admit that they've made a colossal blunder, and devise a speedy exit strategy. Will that look like cutting and running? Who cares?! As Washington insiders have been heard to say "the jig is up"!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Go fly a kite...but not in Beijing!

October 1st will be the 60th anniversary of Chairman Mao's proclamation of the People's Republic of China. This year's National Day will therefore be the occasion of great celebration by all right-thinking (left-thinking? ed.) Chinese, whether in the PRC or overseas.

Or not.

It seems the Communists are more than a little nervous at the possibility that some "splittists" or "rightists" or "dissidents" might mark the anniversary by staging some sort of anti-government demonstration. Shades of "the events of 6/4", as the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 is known.

To guard against this, the Communist authorities -- an appropriate word if ever there was one -- have launched a security crackdown undreamed of by even the most paranoid Americans. One of a long list of banned activities is flying over the capital city.

We're not just talking about airplanes here. They mean any kind of flying, including kites and pigeons!

Walt is not making this up. According to a report in the Shenzhen Daily, in its latest efforts to beef up security ahead of the National Day celebrations, Beijing has widened a ban on flying activities to include pigeons and kite-flying.

The ban, which is effective September 15th to October 8th, applies to sports, recreational and advertising flight activities in the capital. Residents are prohibited from releasing pigeons, and flying kites and balloons, even at celebrations and shopping promotions.

In Walt's observations of China, the ban on pigeons should hardly be necessary, since they, along with any other living thing that flies through the air, will already have been eaten.

A brickbat for Canada Post

This week Canada Post Corp issued a special stamp to publicize mental health. "Support mental health or I'll kill you!" -- just kidding.

If you want to buy one, it'll cost you an extra 10¢, which goes (it says here) to the Canada Post Foundation for Mental Health. (Do the words "going postal" mean anything to anyone?)

So far so good, right? But get this. Just as you pay GST on a postage stamp -- Canada is one of about three countries in the world that adds a tax to a tax -- so you have to pay GST on your 10¢ donation! A book of 10 mental health stamps will cost you $6.40 + 32¢ GST, total $6.72. Only in Canada you say?!

If you want to support the struggle for better mental health, Walt suggests you make a donation to a registered charity. You'll get a receipt for income tax purposes...and you won't have to pay GST!

A bouquet for Canada Post

Canada Post Corp. has unveiled its stamp issuing programme for the rest of the year. Walt is happy to tell you that this year we're going to have some really nice, Christian Christmas stamps.

It hasn't always been so. Christmas stamps have been issued since the 1960s. For over four decades they have almost always featured religious and/or secular designs that bore some relationship to Christmas: nativity scenes, Santa Claus, Christmas trees, that kind of thing. And they have almost always carried the legend Christmas/Noël.

But in this century the winds of political correctness are blowing through Canada Post. In 2005 they decided to produce, in addition to a nice three-stamp set of creche figures (from St. Joseph's Oratory in Montréal), an "unChristmas" stamp with a nice picture of a snowman...and no reference to the holiday. So the heathen (surely "non-Christian", ed.) minority was appeased. Now they had their own "winter holiday stamp".

The next year, the position was reversed. Canada Post issued one small stamp marked "Christmas/Noël" showing the Falardeau Madonna and Child, and three "winter" stamps. Since the three-stamp set includes the stamps to be used on mail to the USA and overseas, people in those countries might well conclude that Canadians forgot about Christmas.

Quite understandably, Christians complained. "We're not a minority yet!", they said. And in 2007 we went back to the status quo ante, with one secular stamp and a set of three religious Christmas stamps.

And last year, Canada Post went the other way, with three "winter fun" stamps and one smaller (but very beautiful) Christmas stamp featuring a sculpture of the Baby Jesus created by Canadian sculptor Antonio Caruso. But at least the "winter fun" stamps had the words "Christmas/Noël" printed in the corner, in tiny type.

This year we're getting a beautiful set of three more sculptures from the nativity scene by Caruso, in a large format, bearing the words "Christmas/Noël". The anti-French gang will be annoyed that "Noël" is in much larger type than "Christmas", but then "Noël" is a word in English too. Right?

The Muslims, Hindus, Jews etc etc will have to make do with a smaller stamp featuring a Christmas tree. Or it might be a Hannukah bush. Who knows? But if you look closely, it does say "Christmas/Noël".

So...three cheers from Walt for an apparent end to overarching political correctness. May I be the first to wish you MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, September 18, 2009


Pte. Jonathan Couturier, age 23, RIP

This past weekend Senator Colin Kenny, chair of the Senate committee on national security and defence, advised Canadian Prime Minister Harper to develop an exit strategy, or, as the Globe & Mail put it, "organize Canada's retreat."

"What we hoped to accomplish in Afghanistan has proved to be impossible," Kenny wrote. "We are hurtling toward a Vietnam ending."

Predictably, Senator Kenny is now being attacked by Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance, the commander of Task Force Kandahar, and no less than Governor-General Michaëlle Jean. Easy for them to stay on Mr. Harpoon's message. They don't have to leave the base and risk being blown to bits by an IED.

Yes, it's a classic case of shoot the messenger. 131 Canadians have died in Afghanistan, but even a senator is not allowed to ask why, let alone suggest that perhaps we've made a colossal mistake. Shame.

Footnote: Canadian Press reports that Pte. Couturier's brother has told Le Soleil that the young soldier thought the mission was futile. His sister-in-law added that Pte. Couturier no longer wanted anything to do with Afghanistan.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Our good intentions in Afghanistan -- a liberal delusion

That's "liberal" with a small L. Although a big-L Liberal government got us into the Afghanistan quagmire, it's a Conservative government that keeps us there, even though the death toll continues to mount?

Why? Because we delude ourselves that we can bring "transformational change". Just yesterday "Call me Steve" Harper said, while sitting at the side of the arch-liberal Obama, that in 2011 Canada would be "transitioning"* from a military role to a "developmental role". Ah yes, bringing the benefits of peace, democracy and civilization to the benighted heathens.

As Margaret Wente points out in a good column in today's Globe and Mail, it ain't gonna happen. The Afghans don't want "transformational change". They are happy with their society the way it is...or the way it used to be before the westerners started mucking around.

Even if they did want to let their girl-children go to school, have free and fair elections, etc, etc, all those fine things aren't going to happen until they have a government capable of imposing its will on the entire country. As Ms Wente says, "elections hardly matter if a winner's incapable of governing. Afghanistan doesn't need an elected figurehead. It needs a good, tough warlord."

Furthermore, she asks, "If our effectiveness is zero, why are we willing to have Canadians blown up for two more years?" And she answers her own question, "Because no one wants to broach the subject."

Walt is willing to talk about the elephant in the room. Walt says, we are not our Afghan brothers' keepers. Let them sort out their problems for themselves and by themselves. Let Canada get out of Afghanistan now.

* "Transitioning?" How many times have I heard politicians and pundits use this neologism lately? It's by way of becoming the buzzword of the year. Let me remind all and sundry that "transition" is a noun, not a verb. What's wrong with a simple word like "changing"?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wearing it

Walt's not going to say "I told you so" just yet. My prediction was that "Call me Steve" Harper would still be in office at the end of the year. So surviving one vote this coming Friday leaves us with a couple of months yet to go.

The comic figure in this week's episode is Jack Layton, leader of the Few Democrats, pictured at left.

Having made sport of the Liberals for not joining his party in voting against the Harper government 79 times, Comrade Jack has now decided that on Friday his party will, er, vote with the government. It is rumoured that Jack is headed for Payless Shoes to see if they have any size 14DDD flip-flops!

Chantal Hébert has an excellent column in today's Toronto Star. I quote only the first sentence: In hindsight, Jack Layton would have been well advised to fall on his sword over the summer and ask the NDP to start looking for a successor.

"The new sheriff is a nig...!"

Remember that line from the Mel Brooks classic, Blazing Saddles? The good townspeople of Rock Ridge are startled to discover that the governor has sent them a new sheriff who happens to be...ahem...of the coloured persuasion. So they embark on a campaign to get rid of him.

It is said that art mirrors life. Walt says that life imitates art as art imitates life. (Not as poetic. ed.) The good people of the US of A seem to have suddenly woken up to the fact that they have elected a "nig" as president. (Come to think of it, isn't there a bit of a resemblance between Obama and Cleavon Little?) So now, it seems, about 49% of them want to get rid of him!
This is not Walt's opinion. It is the analysis of former president Jimmy Carter. The peanut farmer says that the real reason Obama's approval ratings have plummeted is the racism of the American people.
Racism is still around, Carter says. So is liberal guilt, Walt says. C'mon folks, give the new nig a chance!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Private Patrick Lormand, RIP.

Meanwhile, 2500 more Canadian troops are getting ready to depart from Edmonton to put their lives on their line in Afghanistan.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The 55 billion dollar man

This just in from Agent 26 down in the banana belt...

I had to share this, because what has riled me to no end is the persistent Conservative claim to be "fiscal conservatives"! Is anyone paying attention to the amount of overspending that has happened with these so-called "fiscally conservative" people? How can they continue to make this claim in light of the overwhelming statistical evidence?

What is particularly galling is that as a country, we have nothing to show for this kind of spending. If we had a national day care program, or some real fixes made to our health care system, or some kind of environmental plan to combat climate change, maybe I could stomach this kind of spending. But we have had NOTHING that improves our quality of life as a nation.

Forgive my rant, but this data (see below, ed.) on spending excess was just too much.

When pigs fly: More huffing and puffing from Harper’s $55 billion man

Last October, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty predicted no deficit and no recession.

In January, he predicted a $34 billion deficit. In May, that prediction ballooned to a record $50 billion deficit.

Today, Mr. Flaherty huffed and puffed his way out of his 2013-14 surplus projection and revised the deficit - yet again - to $55 billion. He expects Canadians to believe him this time when he says he can control growth in government spending by 2015.

But the Harper government can’t hold themselves back from the trough. Here are just a few examples of how successful the Harper government has been when it comes to exercising fiscal restraint:

1. Government expenditures. Since Harper came into office, government expenditures have ballooned by over 30 per cent. They increased spending by three times the rate of inflation in the three budgets before the recession hit, and now spend $40 billion more annually than the last Liberal government.

2. Prime Minister’s Office. Last week it was revealed that spending in Prime Minister Harper’s own office soared by 14 per cent in a single year – the tune of a whopping $20 million. (Canwest News Service, September 4, 2009).

3. Senate Appointments. In less than one year, Senate patronage king Stephen Harper has made 27 partisan appointments to the Senate—more in a single year than any other Prime Minister in history – costing Canadians $3.46 million annually. (The most egregious example being the appointment of that fatuous toady, Mike Puffy. Walt.)

4. Advertising. In 2007-2008, the Harper government spent $84.1 million on its various advertising activities. This was more than double the amount spent under the previous Liberal government, which was $41.3 million in 2005-2006. For the first quarter of 2009-10 alone, the Harper government put aside $65 million for advertising campaigns, $40 million specifically for partisan promotion of the Conservative budget.

5. Ministerial expenses. Despite promising to tighten their belts, a Toronto Star analysis found that Conservative ministers are spending more than Liberals ever did in government (The Toronto Star, November 22, 2008), while Harper’s expansion of the federal cabinet last fall will cost taxpayers an additional $3.9 million in salaries alone for the extra ministers and their staff.

6. Consultants. Harper government spent nearly a billion dollars on consultants in its first two years in office: a 42-per-cent increase over the amount the previous Liberal government spent between 2004 and 2006 on consultants (Toronto Star, December 8, 2008).

7. Polling. In 2007, the Harper government commissioned more than two polls per business day which totalled $31 million in the government’s first year of government.

The foregoing is a press release from the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, 10/9/09.

The game of chicken climaxes Friday

Friday (18/9) looks like being put-up-or-shut-up day for Canada's "New" Democratic Party. A ways and means motion that afternoon could be the straw that breaks "Call me Steve" Harper's back, but only if the NDP votes with the Bloc Québecois and the Liberals to bring down Harpoon's misgovernment.

The Iggster has already announced that his Liberals won't back down this time, and his smug phiz is already appearing on your TV screen. The Blocheads also seem ready to hit the election trail.

That leaves the Few Democrats to ride to the rescue of the Tories, if they want to avoid the election of which they are scared shipless. See my post of 2/9.

"Hit the road Jack" Layton has been making conciliatory (conciliaTory? ed) noises about how everyone should try to work together, but his troops sound increasingly doubtful. Having chided the Liberals for their previous support of the government, they'll be hard-pressed now to vote with the same capitalist-roaders.

Of course Harper's minions could find a way to duck the vote. A spokesman for Government House Leader Jay Hill said "the final timing decision has not yet been definitely made."

But check my post of 2/9 (or 9/2, for American readers -- OK, September 2nd). Here's what Layton's saying now: "I really think that most people across the country are saying to themselves, can't these people talk and get something done on the important issues? ... I say to the Prime Minister again, that it's incumbent upon a prime minister in this country in a minority parliament to work with other parties."

Sounds to Walt like he's the one who's going to blink. Stay tuned...

Friday, September 11, 2009

When your number's up, it's up! *

The Daily Telegraph (UK) reports that a Vienna man who prayed for deliverance when he was trapped in an elevator had his prayers answered, and was extricated safe and sound. Naturally, he went to a nearby church to thank God. Not so naturally, he was killed instantly when a stone altar fell on him. “He seems to have embraced a stone pillar on which the stone altar was perched and it fell on him,” a police spokesman said.

* Walt is aware that "When your number's up, it's up" is not good Catholic thinking, but ya gotta wonder about this one...

The fallen stars

St. Peter Damian (see article below) was not the first to warn of homosexuality and other sins and disorders in the priesthood of the Church.

God Himself warned us, in Holy Scripture and the Message of Fatima, about the sins of the priests for which we are now paying. St. Paul said: After my departure, ravening wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. And of your own selves shall arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:29-30)

An even more chilling prophecy is given in the Apocalypse: And his tail drew the third part of the stars of Heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the Woman Who was ready to be delivered; that, when She should be delivered, he might devour Her Son. (Apocalypse 12:4)

This is the vision – too long ignored by the Church – of the Woman clothed with the sun, and of Her persecutor, the great dragon (meaning Satan). In scriptural language, "the stars of heaven" mean the Catholic priests, bishops and Cardinals. We can find this explained in The Book of Destiny by Father Bernard Kramer.

Some think that the prediction that "the third part" (one third) of them will be cast down refers to those who have left the priesthood. But the number of bishops and priests has not yet fallen by that much. Of 450,000 priests who were in the Church in 1965, 50,000 left by l975. That is not one-third. Tragically, some of the "fallen stars" are still inside the Church – a cancer in the Mystical Body of Christ.

It is plain to see that some priests are working not for Our Lord, but for their own sinful purposes, just as St. Paul warned. Even worse, some are working for the devil! As Pope Paul VI told us, "The smoke of Satan has entered the Church."

In the words of St. John Eudes, instead of leading their people to God, these bad priests drag Christian souls with them into hell.

What is to be done? More on this soon!

Homosexual priests -- a warning 1000 years old

The problem of homosexuality in the priesthood, with its attendant evils of pædophilia and sexual abuse, is well known. It causes pain and suffering not only to those who have been molested by rogue priests, but to all Catholics who have to endure the scandals, not to mention the literal bankrupting of entire dioceses to settle court claims.

Pope Benedict XVI is well aware of the problem, as was his predecessor, and has spoken out against it. But somehow the idea has taken hold that this is a modern scandal. While it's true that homosexuality in the clergy has erupted and been exposed dramatically since the "reforms" of Vatican II, it is something that bedvilled the Church (pun intended) for centuries.

Speaking at his public audience on September 9, the Holy Father urged Christians "to create silence within ourselves in order to listen to the voice of God." He preached a reflection on the life and influence of St. Peter Damian (1007-1072), a champion of monastic life and of reform within the Church.

His Holiness pointed out that St. Peter Damian "was not afraid to denounce the state of corruption that existed in the monasteries and among the clergy." Although he didn't say so, Benedict appears to have been referring to the Book of Gomorrah, a savage attack on homosexuality in the priesthood.

Writing in Inside the Vatican, its editor, Robert Moynihan, pornounces himself "perplexed" by Pope Benedict's talk. Moynihan calls attention to the Holy Father's failure to specify the particular type of corruption St. Peter Damian denounced.

Moynihan wonders if the Pope deliberately skirted the issue. The Holy Father is extremely subtle and guarded in disclosing his intentions, so it seems more likely that he was dropping a hint, confident that knowledgeable Catholics will make the obvious connection.

The big question is, what is to be done? How are the homosexuals and pædophiles to be rooted out? How is this cancer to be excised from the Mystical Body of Christ? What does the Pope plan to do?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What's wrong with our "plan" for Aghanistan?

Here's an answer to that question from Patrick Brown, a foreign correspondent since 1980, now living in Beijing.
This is an excerpt from his new(ish) book Butterfly Mind, Anansi, 2008.

Afghanistan is essentially a federation of mutually antagonistic ethnic groups who have fought each other vigorously and often, but are, in one sense, curiously united. Afghans of all groups are unanimous in their view that Afghanistan is one country, they belong to it, and it belongs to them. Conflict is never about separation from Afghanistan; it is about how to divide up power and wealth in a state with national borders everyone agrees on.

This power-sharing is one of the factors that makes outside intervention so perilous. Foreigners, however well-meaning, cannot possibly acquire the intimate understanding they would need to avoid antagonizing some or all of the groups. Eventually, all outsiders have worn out their welcome.

Intervention almost never works out as predicted, and it is almost never executed with sufficient thoroughness and commitment. The decision to intervene, either for humanitarian reasons or because a regime has become intolerable, are often made haphazardly, and the results almost always are disappointing. Those decisions deserve care and attention proportional to the blood and treasure lost when bad decisions are made.

I have been in Afghanistan many times since the Taliban left. I have watched a growing number of foreign nation-builders and peacekeepers lose their lives in the dusty hills of a country that once again produces 90 percent of the world's heroin.

After 9/11, there really was no choice except to intervene in Afghanistan [in Mr. Brown's opinion, ed.], but the estimates of what it would take to create a stable democracy there were optimistic to the point of foolishness.

'Nuff said...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Canada-Afghanistan connection

We're not talking opium or heroin here, although we might well be... No, we're talking about the political connection.

Reports coming out of Afghanistan indicate that Hamid Karzai -- the puppet of NATO -- is leading in the presidential election results, with about 54% of the "vote". I put "vote" in quotation marks because of the massive fraud, which is currently "under investigation" but will likely be confirmed by "independent" observers after a decent interval which will allow for the rug to be lifted high enough to have all the evidence swept under it.

Still, Karzai is clearly the creature and the front for western interests. Keeping him in office is costing billions of dollars and thousands of lives. (The Dutch had a bad weekend, losing more soldiers than the Canadians. Meanwhile the Americans are smart and just drop tons of bombs on all and sundry.)

"Hamid Karzai's woes are Stephen Harper's woes." So says John Ibbitson in today's Globe and Mail. Click here to read his excellent analysis. His conclusion: "If Canadians go to the polls often enough, they may start to ask themselves just what our country has achieved in this quagmire, and why." Indeed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Walmart's anti-shoplifting campaign

In Walt's experience, shoppers in Chinese Walmart stores -- yes, there are many of them -- don't dress nearly as badly as those in North American outlets. Perhaps they don't want to be conspicuous, so as not to draw attention to themselves, especially if they're shoplifting.

You wouldn't want to be caught shoplifting from a Walmart (or any) store in China. Agent 78 passes on this story, reported by China Daily.

In the Chinese province of Jiangxi, a woman suspected of stealing from a Walmart store was allegedly beaten to death by five employees. Police said the five had stopped the woman in the street and demanded to see a receipt for the goods she was carrying, but she refused because she could not verify their identities. So they began beating her.

China Daily quotes the woman's husband as saying, "They started to hit her because she didn't do what they said. I got there and tried to stop them but they kept beating her."
The beating intensified as she tried to telephone for help using her mobile phone.

In a statement, Walmart said it was "fully cooperating with the relevant authorities and will release further details as it is appropriate".
"We extend our condolences to the family of the deceased," they added.
Oh...and thanks for shopping at Walmart!

Footnote: Agent 78 says she wasn't at all surprised by this story; beating thieves is normal in China.

Better than the zoo

Thanks to Agent 17 for recommending The People of Walmart. Here are just a couple of the great pix of real people -- no, honestly, they are! -- that await you.
Walt shops at Walmart. They've got cheap stuff for those of us willing to make do with "good enough". And for people-watching, Walmart is even better than airports!
Both are better than the zoo. At the zoo you have to walk around to see the odd exhibits. At Walmart or the airport, the weirdos walk by you!
And folks, I'm not just talking about the shoppers. Walmart -- or at least the one I patronize -- has quite an assortment of oddities behind the counters too! Where do they get so many horribly obese women? Is it some kind of affirmative action programme? Or are they just taking the ones who won't fit behind the counter at McD's? Walt wants to know!
Enjoy the pix of real people. When I look at them, I'm reminded of a great line from Repo Man.
Bud (played by Harry Dean Stanton): Look at 'em, ordinary fucking people, I hate 'em.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Drinking beer, wearing pants -- flogging offences for Muslim women

On 20/8, Walt posted the story of a Muslim woman -- an Indonesian residing in Malaysia -- who was to be flogged for drinking beer in public. You'll be glad to know the punishment ordered by the Sharia court has been... wait for it... postponed until after Ramadan. Perhaps the whipper-snapper (is that what they call the person who does the flogging?) will be too weak from the daily fast to do a good job!

Meanwhile, in Sudan -- another country where Sharia law applies -- a judge convicted a female journalist for violating the public indecency law by wearing trousers outdoors. She was ordered to pay a fine of $200, but was spared the flogging penalty which might have been imposed.

Lubna Hussein was among 13 women arrested in a raid by the public order police in Sudan's capital city. Ten of the women were fined and flogged two days later. But Hussein and two others decided to go to trial. Outside the courthouse, before the trial got under way, police rounded up dozens of female demonstrators, many of them wearing trousers.

Walt can't understand why these women did not figure out the obvious and easy way to avoid the wrath of Sharia law! Why risk being flogged when all you have to do is take off your trousers?!

Question for the CBC: How come we never hear about stuff like this on "Little Mosque on the Prairie"?

128, 129

While millions of Canadians and Americans enjoyed the Labour Day weekend, some were obeying orders, doing what they had to do, and will never see another Labour Day.
Here you see DND photos of Major Yannick Pepin, 36, and Corporal Jean-François Drouin, 21, victims of yet another IED (roadside bomb in plain English) southwest of Kandahar.
They are the 128th and 129th Canadians to die since the Afghan mission began in 2002.
Footnote: It is reported that in last month's free and democratic election in Afghanistan (see Walt's post of 23/8), the number of votes cast exceeded the population of the country.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

South African refugee not wanted in Canada

Last week a member of the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board, one William Davis (wasn't he the premier of Ontario? ed. ... maybe not), ruled in favour of granting refugee status to an African gentleman.

The man had come to Canada as a visitor and overstayed his visa by...oh...let's just say a long time. Then, to stay in Canada, he filed a refugee claim alleging that he had been denied employment in his homeland, and mugged and stabbed in seven robbery attempts, all because of his skin colour. Mr. Davis found that the applicant had a justified fear of discrimination, and allowed him to stay.

Now, a spokesman for the Minister of Immigration, the fair-minded and compassionate Jason Kenney, has announced that the federal government will appeal the decision.

FACT: The Immigration and Refugee Board is supposed to be an independent body. The government almost never appeals or interferes with its decisions.

QUESTION: Why would they intervene in this case?

ANSWER: Because the refugee, Brandon Huntley, is white!

At his hearing, Mr. Huntley said he was called a “white dog” and a “settler” during the attacks just mentioned. He said that he did not report any of the attacks to the mostly-black SAPS (police) because he “did not trust them.”

In his reasons for judgment, Mr. Davis said that Mr. Huntley would “stand out like a sore thumb” in any part of South Africa because of his colour. He ruled that Mr. Huntley had given “convincing proof” of the government's “inability or unwillingness to protect him.” He added that Mr. Huntley would be unable to find a job in South Africa because of affirmative action in favour of blacks.

Reaction from the government of South Africa was swift, outraged...and predictable. They accused Mr. Davis and the Canadian government of...wait for it...racism! No surprises there.

In a statement, the ruling ANC said "Canada's reasoning for granting Huntley a refugee status can only serve to perpetuate racism." And it was suggested that such racist sentiments and actions would have a negative impact on Canada-South Africa relations, trade, etc etc, blah blah blah.

So of course "Call me Steve" Harper's government caved. God forbid that we should be accused of racism or of being anti-black, especially with an election coming on. Hence the appeal. Preposterous!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fall election after all?

Walt's prediction: December 31st will see Harpoon still in office, thanks to the fecklessness of the gutless Grits.

That's what I wrote on Saturday (29/8). The next day the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and Government-in-Waiting got up on his hind feet and said his party wasn't gutless or feckless and would "withdraw its support" from the Harper Tories.

Would that mean a quick no confidence vote followed by a fall election? Iggy didn't actually answer that question, leaving it to Bob "I never believed in socialism" Rae to say "Maybe."

Sorry, but Walt has seen this movie before, and recently too. Remember the big hoo-hah about EI reform, just last spring? If the Tories didn't loosen the EI purse-strings, the Grits were gonna bring them down. Oh yeah! Bring on the election! didn't quite turn out that way.

What we're hearing from the Liberal hawks sounds to me like more of the same, another cry of "wolf" to persuade credulous voters that the Grits are not shit-scared of facing the electorate with little money and no platform.

Fortunately for the Liberals, they alone can't bring down Mr. Harpoon. If they bring a no-confidence motion on one of the opposition days -- say October 1st or 7th -- they would need the support of both the Bloc Québecois and the NDP to topple the government. Neither party shows much inclination to enter the fray.

The Not-So-New Democrats have a leader who is well past his prime. Jack "I'm running for Prime Minister" Layton should have resigned quietly after last year's election, when his party couldn't do better than a 4th-place finish, in spite of running against the weakest Liberal leader ever.

They have a competent leader waiting in the wings. Thomas Mulcair is bilingual, obviously intelligent, and performs well in the House and especially in committees. Too bad for him he represents a Montréal riding (a miracle in itself) and will need a minor miracle to be re-elected.

As for the Bloc, they look like winning 30-40 seats in Québec no matter when the next election takes place. They have nothing to gain from a change in government so would probably be quite content to uphold the status quo for another 9 months or so.

Walt stands by his prediction.

Footnote: What a pity Gilles Duceppe isn't a Liberal!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Osama bin Laden's whereabouts revealed

You read it here first! Walt can now reveal that Osama bin Laden is in hiding in Canada. His location is...wait for it... ... ...on the set with the cast of CBC's "Little Mosque on the Prairie"! Of course! The very place where no-one would ever look!