Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

It must be a painfully slow news day in Canada when a letter to the editor from a disgruntled “youth” in the Stratford Beacon Herald makes it to the top of the roster on the National Newswatch aggregator.

How it’s “news” at all is somewhat difficult to fathom. Perhaps the folks at National Newswatch will soon be scouring the small town newspapers of the nation to discover similarly newsworthy features such as, for example, scathing reviews of area bake-sales by a superannuated food critic or the negative impressions of some lonely heart who was “disappointed” by the Bridal Fair held at the local Community Hall.

It Pays to be a Hateful Racist

That would seem to be the take-away lesson from the purportedly successful fundraising efforts of Kathy Shaidle aka Five Feet of Fecal Matter™ — a website that astonishingly, now even features a monthly payment plan.

Evidently, there are “thousands of daily readers” who morally — and in some cases, financially — support the relentless slagging and demeaning of various ethnic minorities, the high comedy of chortling over the massacre of thousands of innocent Indian civilians (referred to wistfully as “the good old days”), the approval of systemic racial segregation policies, and the not infrequent diatribes expressing an outright hatred of Canada.

Not only do our fire-breathing, so-called “conservatives” appear to tacitly approve of this kind of disgusting rubbish through their perpetual silence, but there’s no shortage out there it would seem of ideological fellow travellers willing to actually fund its dissemination by forking over their hard-earned dollars to an exploitative harridan who quite cynically strokes their most base prejudices, hysterical xenophobia, and vile bigotry on a daily basis.

By the way, it should be noted that this shameless fraudster is soliciting funds under false pretences by claiming on her website that she’s “being taken to court for criticising Canada’s ‘Human Rights’ Commissions.” In fact though, she’s being sued for personal libel and not for her criticism of the HR commissions. Quite frankly, it’s a wonder that criminal charges haven’t been filed against her for obtaining “donations” by “deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means” in contravention of S. 380 of the Criminal Code.Maybe someone with a legal background might want to check into that…

Winning Friends & Influencing People

Via NBC, luggage tags from the McCain campaign calling the reporters who have followed McCain for much of this election the “JV Squad” (junior varsity) while others are covering Obama overseas; the reverse side of the luggage tag was in French with a beret-wearing guy pouring wine.

Yeah, belittling the people covering you; that’s a super way to endear yourself to them. Good lord, McCain’s campaign team is stupid beyond belief.

Your Mattress Never Looked Better

Here’s a rather scandalous story of government malfeasance that you would think might be receiving more prominent exposure.

It seems that U.S. state governments are holding more than $32 billion worth of “unclaimed property” that they’re supposed to safeguard for their citizens. However, a Good Morning America investigation back in May found some states move aggressively to seize property that isn’t really unclaimed and then use the depositors’ money to balance their budgets.

Unclaimed property consists of things like forgotten apartment security deposits, uncashed dividend checks and safe-deposit boxes abandoned when an elderly relative dies. Banks and other businesses are required to turn that property over to the state for safekeeping. The problem is that the states return less than a quarter of unclaimed property to the rightful owners.

From an extended account of Elisabeth Leamy’s report:

San Francisco resident Carla Ruff’s safe-deposit box was drilled, seized, and turned over to the state of California, marked “owner unknown.”

“I was appalled,” Ruff said. “I felt violated.”

Unknown? Carla’s name was right on documents in the box at the Noe Valley Bank of America location. So was her address — a house about six blocks from the bank. Carla had a checking account at the bank, too — still does — and receives regular statements. Plus, she has receipts showing she’s the kind of person who paid her box rental fee. And yet, she says nobody ever notified her.

“They are zealously uncovering accounts that are not unclaimed,” Ruff said.

To make matters worse, Ruff discovered the loss when she went to her box to retrieve important paperwork she needed because her husband was dying. Those papers had been shredded.

And that’s not all. Her great-grandmother’s precious natural pearls and other jewelry had been auctioned off. They were sold for just $1,800, even though they were appraised for $82,500.

“These things were things that she gave to me,” Ruff said. “I valued them because I loved her.”

Bank of America told ABC News it deeply regrets the situation and appreciates the difficulty of what Mrs. Ruff was going through. The bank has reached a settlement with Ruff and continues to update its unclaimed property procedures as laws change.

In case you’re wondering, the situation here in Canada is quite a bit different. Canadian banks have a legal obligation to attempt written notification of account owners after the second and fifth year of inactivity. In addition, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) publishes owner names of all unclaimed balances worth $10 or more in the year prior to the transfer to Bank of Canada (i.e. the 9th year of inactivity). Publication is made in the Canada Gazette, available at all public libraries.

Bank of Canada acts as custodian when there has been no account activity for a ten year period and the owner cannot be contacted. Accounts worth $500 or more are held indefinitely until claimed. Interest is paid at the rate of 1.5% per annum for a ten-year period.

Balances under $500 dollars are retained for 20 years — 10 years from the date of the last owner transaction at the bank, with an additional 10-year custody period at Bank of Canada. Written claims must be received no later than December 31 of an account’s “last year” — 20 years after the year of the last transaction.The searchable database can be found at the Bank of Canada’s website (unfortunately, all of my searches came up with “no document” results).

A Matter of History

In a segment last night on the “liberal media” CBS Evening News featuring presidential candidate interviews with Katie Couric, Sen. John McCain called Sen. Obama’s account of why the “surge” in Iraq succeeded a “false description” of history.

Couric: Senator McCain, Senator Obama says, while the increased number of US troops contributed to increased security in Iraq, he also credits the Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after militias. And says that there might have been improved security even without the surge. What’s your response to that?

McCain: I don’t know how you respond to something that is as — such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarlane [phonetic] was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that’s just a matter of history. Thanks to General Petraeus, our leadership, and the sacrifice of brave young Americans. I mean, to deny that their sacrifice didn’t make possible the success of the surge in Iraq, I think, does a great disservice to young men and women who are serving and have sacrificed.

One tiny problem — it’s bullshit.

And gosh, wouldn’t you know it, the “liberal” CBS News team conveniently decided to edit it out of their broadcast. (They’ve since released the entire interview on the CBS website, however.)

The colonel in question is now a one-star general, and his name is Sean MacFarland. He was commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, based in Ramadi in 2006 and early 2007 and is a key figure in embracing the so-called “Anbar Awakening” before it even had that name. Here he is explaining what was going on to Pam Hess, then of UPI, on September 29, 2006, at least two months before Bush decided upon the surge, and about three before he announced it to the public:

With respect to the violence between the Sunnis and the al Qaeda — actually, I would disagree with the assessment that the al Qaeda have the upper hand. That was true earlier this year when some of the sheikhs began to step forward and some of the insurgent groups began to fight against al Qaeda. The insurgent groups, the nationalist groups, were pretty well beaten by al Qaeda.

This is a different phenomena that’s going on right now. I think that it’s not so much the insurgent groups that are fighting al Qaeda, it’s the — well, it used to be the fence-sitters, the tribal leaders, are stepping forward and cooperating with the Iraqi security forces against al Qaeda, and it’s had a very different result. I think al Qaeda has been pushed up against the ropes by this, and now they’re finding themselves trapped between the coalition and ISF on the one side, and the people on the other.

That’s a pretty egregious error for a candidate staking his election on his allegedly superior knowledge and judgment about the situation in Iraq if he can’t even get the historical facts straight.

Links With Your Java

• “Government not sure how to spend wireless windfall,” says the Ottawa Citizen headline translating Jim Prentice talking about various ways the $4.3-billion raised from auctioning off wireless spectrum licences might be spent once Stephen Harper’s “fiscal parameters” have been assessed. Previously, the government had promised that the auction proceeds would be used to pay down federal debt. Now, well, maybe not so much… after all, there are “other priorities” you know.

• Speaking of which, Harper is expected to announce three by-elections for the first week of September. The ridings involved are Westmount-Ville Marie (LPC), St. Lambert (BQ), and Guelph.(LPC). Two of the ridings promise to be close contests.

• Liberals promise to crack down on gas price-fixing as part of their Green Shift plan (not to be confused with GreenShift®, a “consulting” firm and distributor of paper coffee cups, toilet paper, urinal cakes, etc.).

• Two Czech bug hunters arrested in India for poaching have maintained their innocence and called to be released. The Indian press has suggested that the Czechs could belong to an international network of butterfly smugglers. Who knew?

• Why is ABC’s Jake Tapper (part of the “liberal media”) such a nihilistic asshole? Really. The man has the intellectual depth of a rock crab and a moral capacity quite a bit lower than that.

• Is Obama’s campaign team a dissolute bunch of Mooslim-lovin’ drug addicts? Via the always kooky Pam Geller at Atlas Shrugs: “With Senator Obama still in Iraq, his staff and press could be seen smoking flavored tobacco in hookahs in their Amman hotel bar, well past midnight local time.” Scary!!! Plus, there’s even bonus video of Obama “bumbling” and a transcript too! Sample: “Uh, uh, are, uh, uh, uh, um. That’s — that’s a bunch — so — so let me tick these off. Deh… Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, um, uh.” And so on.

• In case you haven’t seen it already, here’s the video showing President Bush caught on candid camera making light of the housing crisis:

Note: Updated with new version that includes an extended excerpt of Bush’s remarks, plus some fairly rabid commentary by TYT. More on the intrigue surrounding the now “banned” video here.