The F-35 Boondoggle

I know we’ve been over this ground before, but remind me again… why does Canada even need this heinously expensive new class of fighter jet at all? What possible military threat are we defending ourselves from? Seriously. What is the point?

Aside from the absurdity of ploughing something like $30 billion into a high-tech gizmo that serves no useful purpose whatsoever (it’s worth noting that Lockheed Martin’s last iteration of this plane, the F-22 “stealth raptor” fighter, has never actually been deployed in combat), there is the matter of the Harper government having egregiously misled Canadians about the cost of the program during the last election and then repeatedly lying to parliament subsequent to that. For instance, according to Harper and his ministers last year, there was a contract in place that would prevent cost overruns, but now they claim there is no contract. So which is it?

Bob Rae has called on Harper to resign over the issue, but, of course, nobody seriously imagines that’s going to happen. I mean, we’re only talking about a complete lack of government oversight involving a measly $10 billion discrepancy in accounts… it’s certainly nothing anywhere nearly as serious as the “AdScam” fiasco where possibly $100 million of taxpayer money was at stake! In that case, it was entirely justified that every “conservative” worth his or her salt should howl with OUTRAGE! like a gut-shot dog every day for years and years and years…

Olbermann: A $10 Million Chandelier

Appearing on Dave Letterman’s show last night, Keith Olbermann talked about being fired by Current TV the other week. “I screwed up really big on this,” he said. “It’s my fault that it didn’t succeed, in the sense that I didn’t think the whole thing through.”

“I didn’t say, ‘You know, if you buy a $10 million chandelier, you should have a house to put it in.’ Just walking around with a $10 million chandelier isn’t going to do anybody a lot of good.” Olbermann went on to quip, “And then it turned out we didn’t have a lot to put the house in… or a building permit.”

Hmmm. We should all be so lucky to get $50 million (the reported amount of Olbermann’s contract) for a thoughtless, ill-fated decision that quickly turned out to be a big screw up that eventually terminated in complete failure.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Thom Hartmann just couldn’t resist drawing some obvious conclusions the first World Happiness Report released earlier this week showing that the world’s happiest countries are all in northern Europe with Denmark, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands taking the top four spots. Canada came in a respectable fifth and the United States a distant eleventh place.

According to the report: “Happier countries tend to be richer countries. But more important for happiness than income are social factors like the strength of social support, the absence of corruption and the degree of personal freedom.

Over time as living standards have risen, happiness has increased in some countries, but not in others (like for example, the United States). On average, the world has become a little happier in the last 30 years (by 0.14 times the standard deviation of happiness around the world).”

I wonder if someone will remind Stephen Harper of his now infamous quote from 14 years ago when he was vice president of the National Citizens Coalition speaking to a Montreal meeting of the right-wing U.S. Council for National Policy where he lamented the fact that “Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.”

Indeed we are – and maybe it seems, that’s not such a bad thing after all.

Liblogs – Minus One (Updated)

Hey, did you notice that Liblogs got a cool new make-over recently?

Almost a year after he went down in flames (sadly, along with most of the party) and then, almost exactly as the Conservative attack machine had predicted, immediately hightailed it back to a cozy academic sinecure at Harvard the University of Toronto’s Massey College, the operatives behind Liblogs finally got around to ditching the old banner featuring Michael Ignatieff. More than a little late getting around to that bothersome detail some might say, but hey, a good thing nonetheless. And more than that, the site now has a bunch of cool new features and lots of social media playfulness. Hooray!

One thing you WON’T find on the “new and improved” Liblogs site though is yours truly. Seems, I got kicked to the curb in their renovation. Imagine that! But not to worry… there is a close approximation in “Red Writing” whose Twitterish looking site apologetically states, “Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.”

Go figure.

Update: Reinstated! Thanks to Steve V. for the quick fix.

“This Will Always Be So” (Or Not)

Some readers may recall a post from a little while back featuring Richard Dawkins appearing on MSNBC’s weekend “Up” program where he floated the provocative idea of taking politicians to task for some of their kooky religious beliefs… Well, guess what? It seems that someone did precisely that the other day at one of Mitt Romney’s “town hall” events…

Asked if it’s a sin for a white man to marry and procreate with a black woman, needless to say, being the gutless douchebag he is, Romney reacted to the question as if he’d just been tossed a red hot BBQ charcoal. “No” was his emphatic response before quickly turning to the other side of the crowd for a more scripted inquiry.

But wait, how can that be?
Evidently, the God-inspired, yet indisputably racist proclamations of the Mormon religion’s “second prophet” (you know, following the grifter with the magic top hat) are currently null and void. That whole thing Brigham Young declared about “the penalty, under the law of God” as regards to whites conjugating with blacks being “death on the spot”… Well, not so much now, I guess.

I think we may well have a better insight into why Mitt Romney is, as one of his former rivals memorably said, such a “well-lubricated weathervane.” Seems Dawkins may have been onto something here after all when it comes to better understanding a political candidate’s mindset via their religious beliefs.

Parliamentary Fight Club

Irrespective of the supposedly worthy fundraising cause involved, what an utterly bizarre and unseemly event this past weekend’s charity boxing match was. Hard to believe that we’ve actually sunk lower by a quantum measure of absurdity in comparison to our American friends – can you imagine two members of Congress showing off their “tats” and battling it out in the ring?

Poor Ezra Levant; it must really chapped the insufferable little toad’s backside that not only didn’t the Liberals’ pretentious “shiny pony” get flattened in the first round, but actually managed to withstand Senator Brazeau’s initial hammering and eventually best the odds-on favourite Conservative with a TKO in the third round.

As much as I’m completely appalled by the event, I have to admit to whimsically considering that more such brawls might perhaps be a worthwhile replacement for the shrill and mostly pointless haranguing of Question Period. Hmmm… I wonder if Pierre Polievre has tats?

Different Messengers, Same Story

A “conservative” speaks out about the controversial shooting of “gangsta hoodlum” Trayvon Martin.

While it’s easy to dismiss the commenter given that he’s a 400 lb. redneck with a drawling southern accent, wearing denim overalls and a coonskin cap, the fact of the matter is that his opinions and convoluted rationalizations concerning the murder of Trayvon Martin are essentially identical to those now being peddled by the well-heeled millionaire pundits on Fox News and so-called “conservatives” across the spectrum of right-wing media.

Update: Video has just now surfaced showing George Zimmerman – the paranoid wannabe cop who claimed he was beaten to within an inch of his life – emerging in handcuffs from a police cruiser shortly after the incident, but without assistance, completely unscathed from his allegedly life-threatening altercation. No bloody contusions, no broken nose, no signs of his head having been repeatedly slammed into the ground, no blood spatter, no tell-tale grass stains on the back of his shirt; in short, nothing whatsoever that would corroborate his ludicrous version of events on the night he chased down and shot a black kid for the crime of wearing a hoodie and, as Zimmerman put it in his call to 911, “just walking around, looking about.”

I wonder how the virulently racist wingnuts will spin this next?

Subliminal Frames

If you’ve watched Santorum’s “Obamaville” web advert once or twice, it’s easy to miss a number of what can only be described as “subliminal” images as they appear for only a fraction of a second and often in rapid succession. Whether or not that advertising tactic actually works is highly debatable – personally, I’m rather doubtful that it has any effect whatsoever. It is, however, highly insightful with regards to the mindset of the ad’s creators.

So here for your edification are some of the split-second images you might not have apprehended at first or second glance.

Having ferreted them out, it’s hard for me to watch the video without seeing them now, but I’m curious… Did you notice that the attractive black woman shushing the viewer with her finger over her lips appears again towards the end of the ad? What do you think she’s asking the viewer to keep secret?

After the ad conflates Iran’s Ahmadinejad with Obama on the television, did you notice the little blond boy wandering into a dark, menacing forest? I know for sure I missed that one.

But you probably did get the quick shot of the scary-looking Muslim dude, right? Can’t demonize Obama without one of those!

The hamburger coming out of the meat grinder also escaped my attention at first. Not sure where that metaphor is directed… could be the war in Afghanistan or possibly some allusion to the Soylent Green future awaiting the miserable white folk of Obamaville should you-know-who get re-elected.

The others you may have caught: the close-up of the pensive young woman (not sure what that’s meant to signify); Obama looking terribly grim and forbidding; the Capitol building shot with a red filter to make it appear Hellish or possibly awash in blood; the goofy, uptight looking white woman with glasses sneering in disgust; and finally the helpless baby clothed in red in a pink bassinet.

I’m actually quite amazed that Santorum’s people didn’t include a picture of a fetus in the ad somewhere, but I guess this image of the baby comes pretty close to conjuring up that mental association.

“Obamaville” Examined

Wow. I’d heard about this attack ad put together by the Santorum campaign and finally saw it last night on Hardball. Chris Matthews and his fellow chuckleheads all seemed to have a good laugh at its apocalyptic absurdity and the fact it plays more like the trailer for a slasher movie than a political ad.

It’s quite a stunning piece of work, especially when examined closely. A site called businessinsider.com has broken it down frame by frame, along with hilarious commentary.

However, they’ve also missed a whole lot of “subliminal” things that were stuffed into this incredibly bizarre one minute video. Things you may not even have realized were there. So, stay tuned… In a future post I’ll try to tease them out for you — some are quite amazing.

Religious Beliefs in the Public Square

Richard Dawkins provocatively suggests that the superstitious religious beliefs of politicians should be more openly challenged. “You challenge a candidate about his beliefs about taxation, about military policy, and so on; why don’t you challenge his beliefs about what he thinks about the universe and the world?”

“As a voter, if I know that the person I’m contemplating voting for, however good his beliefs on taxation and so on may be… If I know that he privately believes that a 19th century man called Joseph Smith dug up some golden tablets, read them with the aid of a stone in a top hat and translated them out of some ancient language into not 19th century English, but 16th century English – that man was a fraud and a charlatan – and any modern politician who nails his colours to the mast of that particular religion is someone that I’m suspicious of voting for. I know those beliefs are private, but they’re crazy beliefs. And why should I vote for a man, however sensible his public beliefs may be, if his private beliefs are ridiculous and mad?”

It does seem a rather odd contradiction that most Americans feel the private, doctrinal religious beliefs of their political representatives are somehow sacrosanct and beyond skeptical analysis while at the same time demanding that they not only openly demonstrate and profess their religious convictions, but also translate selective aspects of their beliefs into public policy.