From Regina To Cairo, With Love And Maybe A Condom Or Two

The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan is about the only small-c conservative blogging (that I’ve been able to find, at least) who hasn’t gone over the John Gormley/Glenn Beck edge. He keeps a mind open enough to look at bloggers that he doesn’t always agree with every time … and one of the benefits of that is, in this case, a very insightful look at one of the underlying reasons why Egypt went into revolt last month. Apparently, the guys are love sick. (The New Yorker):

Valentine’s Day—Eid El-Hob or “Love Day”—is normally big enough in Cairo, celebrated in a way that American couples would recognize: red roses, plush hearts in gift stores, specials at romantic restaurants. This year, though, the revolution has overshadowed everything. As a friend put it to me, “I feel bad for the stores that stocked up on teddy bears. Everyone’s buying Egyptian flags instead.”
But love and revolution are not unrelated. There is much talk about a “marriage crisis” in Egypt—low employment rates lead to low matrimonial rates—and the protesters in Tahrir Square were, indirectly at least, marching against it. Lack of jobs was high on their list of grievances. Many of those I interviewed said that getting married and having a family were things they dreamed of most in a post-Mubarak Egypt. One twenty-eight-year-old man I spoke to, on a relatively quiet day in Tahrir last week, illustrated his frustration by thrusting his hips back and forth, explaining, “No money, no sex.”

Money doesn’t buy you happiness, but in the courtship world it does help to improve your bargaining position.

The story made me think back to what I had written about eight or 10 months ago, regarding the On To Ottawa trek and Regina Riot. (prairie dog). Bill Waiser told me that, far from wild eyed zealots looking to bring home the Communist Revolution, the participants were angry that they were forced into an economic system that not just let them down, but whose existence depended on keeping them down. And if you don’t have money, being able to cherchez la femme isn’t possible (as me, who was laid off from several small-town newspaper jobs in the 1990s, and that did to my dating possibilities what the threat of STDs and pregnancies couldn’t do — shut it down to absolute zero).

In the West, there are a few other outlets — porn maybe, a fantasy world — for those who are lonely and frustrated. And maybe that gives men more of an illusion that they can succeed in life at a time when not only the odds but the Powers That Be are arrayed against them. It’s a safety valve that states and business leaders shut off at their peril … which explains why most states that allow for the overt or covert commercial exploitation of sex seem to be immune to the power of a revolution in the streets. I’m not saying that Hosni Mubarak would have remained in power if there were strip joints in Cairo, but I could see how it could have helped.

Olbermann Fired?!?! ROAR!

I’m fighting a cold and went to bed around 8:00 last night. Just woke up at 3:30 a.m. and checked my phone and I find a text message from my publisher saying that MSNBC has fired Keith Olbermann, one of the liveliest pundits down in the United States and a guy prairie dog is a fan of. Great. The termination presumably has nothing to do with his ratings, which were high. Was it his politics? MSNBC was just purchased by cable giant Comcast, which was able to pull off that sketchy media deal by greasing politicians to the tune of $11 million last year. I guess we now need to wonder whether this corporation doesn’t want people like you and me to have someone like Olbermann to listen to or watch. I’m sick, so I’m not going to wonder very hard about this. Money talks, and it looks like today it told a great pundit to shut up.

Meanwhile, Fox News still has Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.

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Making Jesus Happy is Expensive To The Taxpayer

I can’t find the story the LP did where they said it cost the province about $200K in legal fees to fight the ruling on same-sex marriages and the role of the provincial marriage commissioner. But south of the border, it cost the United States government $200 million to maintain its Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy for its armed forces (Slog) instead of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in uniform. And that’s not counting the cost of letting go valuable and talented troops, training them, and then training their replacements.

Jared Loughner: Allegations And Charges

From The New York Times:

Court documents filed in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix indicated that evidence seized from Mr. Loughner’s home showed that he had planned to kill Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head. Found in Mr. Loughner’s home, F.B.I. special agent Tony M. Tayler Jr. said in an affidavit supporting the charges, was an envelope with the handwritten words, “I planned ahead,” “My assassination,” and “Giffords.”

Again, the full story is here.

Sunday Morning. Still Furious.

So my day was pretty much ruined yesterday by the news coming out of Arizona. Maybe you think it’s nuts that the attempted assassination of that state’s only democratic Congresswoman upsets a comfortable, well-fed editor in a different, more stable country. Fair enough. Then again, why shouldn’t I be upset?

First off, while I despise its international military adventures I like the United States. I like going there. I like its cities. I like the TV and music and (being a nerd) the comic books. I like many of its people — I’m related to some of them and unconfirmed rumour has it I’ve pleasantly wasted more than a few evenings playing god damned World Of Warcraft with likable, funny, chummy Americans. I even like some of the NHL squads quite a bit — regular dog blog readers know my team is the Columbus Blue Jackets (I even have the jersey). And there’s a U.S. newspaper or five that I skim online every day.

I feel like this bad, bad, political murder happened not to “some other country’ but to my friends and neighbours.

Second, while it appears the alleged killer is a deranged individual, a (somewhat) liberal politician was shot in the head (some symbolism there, no?). That right there distinguishes this from other massacres like Columbine. There will be a lot of punditry forthcoming to minimize this fact, and I want to make it clear that I am preemptively pissed off at it. And the politics at the wrong end of this apparent madman’s gun? Pro-health care. In a place filled with lunatic opposition to both. And if this offends people I’m sorry, but if you’re against the principle of health care for everyone regardless of income, you’re against humanity. Yes, there can (and should!) be arguments over policy details, because hashing things out allows the best ideas to emerge — but good, decent people do NOT argue over the universal accessibility of health care.

Thirdly, there will be a lot of blubbering about how this tragedy was caused by “divisive politics. No. This was not “divisive politics”. The blood is specifically on the hands of the radical conservative politics of the Republican party, and specifically on people like Sarah Palin. Palin, along with the capering, self-serving, Grima Wormtonguesque millionaire known as Glenn Beck, have employed violent, emotionally manipulative language and coyly stoked the fires of armed insurrection since the Democrats nominated a popular, charismatic black man as their 2008 presidential candidate. And health care pushed them over the edge. What the fuck kind of disturbed people oppose health care?

Let’s not kid ourselves here: the type of people who identify with the Tea Party are the types who, historically, would’ve been against women and blacks voting. They don’t want gay people marrying, they don’t want evolution taught in schools (because it’s “just a theory”), they don’t want their children to have access to birth control. Because of fear, they embrace ignorance, selfishiness and the language of violence.

The Tea Party is to blame for the degraded discourse that led to this murder, and  the movement needs to be universally excoriated and renounced.

Finally, let’s not forget that a smart, competent woman was the target, here. And one of the dead was a young girl interested in civics who’d been inspired by a female politician. In addition to a political act, this massacre was inherently misogynistic. But then again, with its opposition to female reproductive rights, social programs like child care, health care and welfare and the taxes that fund them, the Tea Party — which again, set the tone that encourages disturbed people to pick up guns and shoot lady politicians and children — is a misogynistic movement. Pretty darn weird for a movement whose de facto leader is female — but the psychology of bigotry, hatred and fear has always been murky and contradictory.

And that’s my two bits. Here’s Keith Olbermann’s.

The Man Alleged To Have Shot Congresswoman Gifford…

Sounds like a lunatic whose politics were all over the map. His name is Jared Lee Loughner. From the Telegraph:

On Saturday night. Caitie Parker, a singer-songwriter from Arizona, said she had known Loughner when they were both teenagers and that he dropped out of school in 2006 after developing alcohol poisoning. However she added that when she had known him, Loughner seemed to be liberal or Left-wing. “I went to high school and college, and was in a band with him,” she said on Twitter. “I can’t even fathom this right now.” Describing him as a “political radical” and a “loner” who was “very philosophical”, Ms Parker claimed Loughner was “oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy”, which predicts the world will end next year.

Later in the article, there’s this:

An account on YouTube, the video-sharing website operated in Loughner’s name contained several home-made videos including one titled ‘”My final thoughts”. The YouTube account stated that among Loughner’s favourite books, most of which were much-loved classic novels, were Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto … It called for a return to the gold standard, a common demand of Tea Party activists, and claimed that the government was imposing “mind control and brainwash on the people”.

Here’s the video:

Please remember that this is all very speculative. Loughner hasn’t been convicted of anything. And if this video is created by the guy who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people, he sounds like a poster child for “not guilty by reason of insanity”.

Having said that, well, what the fuck did people expect? This is the kind of carnage stirred up when a political movement like the Tea Party that’s affiliated with an allegedly legitimate political party — the Republicans — spouts violent, angry rhetoric that’s predicated on shoddy facts and deliberately used to elevate passion over reason amongst an increasingly economically insecure, increasingly xenophobic and well-armed constituency.

Seriously, what the fuck did people think would happen?

On Gifford’s Status

UPDATE: as of 3:00, Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is definitely alive, and her doctor is optimistic. Useful links; MSNBC feed here, Salon liveblog here. Also, as of 4:00 I’m stepping away to hug the cat. Talk to you all later.

*

There are reports she’s still alive. Let’s hope so. Unfortunately, others are definitely not. Welcome to the world of breaking news on the Internet. In the meantime, here’s the New York Post’s interview with Gifford’s father after the shooting.

I’m going to sit back and watch and read rather than typing for awhile. A good news aggregator on this story is the Huffington Post — you can go there for breaking details. And I guess there’s that old-time television thing…

“Acts Of Violence Against Political Figures Destroy Democracy Itself”

From conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan, who is the kind of conservative non-conservatives could have great conversations with:

When a congresswoman is shot in the head in the very act of democracy, we should all pause. This is fundamentally not a partisan issue and should not be. Acts of violence against political figures destroy democracy itself, for both parties. We don’t know who killed congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and we should be very cautious in drawing any conclusions yet about why. But we can know that, whoever killed her and for whatever reason, political rhetoric involving words like “target” and “gun-sights” is inherently irresponsible.

Word.

This Is Who Was Shot In Arizona

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“Our democracy is a light, a beacon really around the world because we effect change at the ballot box and not because of these, you know, outbursts of violence in certain cases, and the yelling and you know, it’s just, we know change is important, it’s part of our process, and it’s really important that we focus on the fact that we have a democratic process.” –Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

If this shooter — apparently a young male — turns out to be a Tea Party member, then this conservative movement — which has been goddamn seen ignorantly fomenting violence by everyone who’s not fucking stupid or blind — needs to disband in shame.

Democrat Congresswoman Shot In Arizona

MORE OPTIMISTIC UPDATE: She’s alive and her doctor is “optimistic”.

UPDATE: She’s dead. Fuck fucking Arizona fascists and their culture of bigotry, ignorance and violence.

Gee, who would’ve expected madness, xenophobia and  apparent political violence in a state where this happens? Or this? Or especially this?

Arizona is a fucking goddamn unfunny joke.

America Is Going Totally To Hell As I Write*

I’m subscribed to the New York Times News Alert feed, which sends big news into my inbox as it happens… The last two pings! have been news of Republicans winning the midterm elections, including libertarian senator Rand Paul in Kentucky. If you want to follow the whole horrifying mess, the Times has full coverage here.

*I am on a writing retreat at the Banff Centre (aka ‘Heaven’) which is why you haven’t seen me in a while. Off to the buffet now, where they’re going to feed me healthy, beautiful food for cheap because I’m an artist and that’s what artists get here in Heaven.

Well Good Fucking Golly, I Guess George Galloway Isn’t A Terrorist

This afternoon British orator, activist and former member of Parliament George Galloway was allowed to enter Canada (Montreal Gazette). Sure a hell of a change from April 2009, when Canada’s Tory government informed Galloway  he wouldn’t be allowed in because he supported terrorists. At the time, critics (including us) called bullshit, saying the real reason Galloway was blocked was because the Conservative government didn’t like his brash opinions on Palestinian-Israel relations and Canada’s war in Afghanistan.

Here’s an edited-down excerpt from what I wrote last year:

Yesterday, an outspoken and somewhat wacky British Member Of Parliament was banned from entering Canada for two university speaking engagements on security grounds in the same week George W. Bush, who ordered the invasion of Iraq on bogus pretenses, was allowed into Calgary for a speaking engagement. British MP George Galloway was banned by Canada Border Services Agency officials. Pertinent minister Jason Kenney, who has the power to overturn stupid and evil decisions, says he will not do so. The decision by Canadian officials is stupid and makes the Minister (whom we’re sure had nothing whatsoever to do with banning Galloway) look like an asshole who doesn’t support free speech unless it’s the kind of free speech he likes. Critics (e.g. me) suspect Galloway is actually being barred because he says inflammatory things about how the war in Afghanistan is wrong. In other words, he’s being banned for being anti-war.

Full screed here (Ye Olde Dogge Blogge).

Galloway enters Canada after a court decision that the Conservative Government was Full Of Shit. From last week’s Globe And Mail article on the judge’s decision:

The judge said he agreed with Mr. Galloway’s Canadian supporters that “that the main reason why the respondents sought to prevent Mr. Galloway from entering Canada was that they disagreed with his political views.”

The judge concluded the government fell short of the standard required to label someone a terrorist.

“It is clear that the efforts to keep Mr. Galloway out of the country had more to do with antipathy to his political views than with any real concern that he had engaged in terrorism or was a member of a terrorist organization,” the judge stated.

Want more? They’re on the story over at Rabble.

There Is A God. Gods. Whatever.

Asshole Christian Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center has canceled the planned burning of the Koran on Saturday and has instead agreed to take up his beef with the Antichrist Muslim leader Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is planning to build a mosque Islamic centre on the site of in the general neighbourhood of Ground Zero. (New York Times).

Could be interesting; would be way more interesting if it was the Monty Python Terry Jones, but no luck there. (Release the Bengal Tiger! Drop the 16 Tonne weight!) If you want interesting, check out NPR’s take on how the new Islamic centre got pegged — erroneously (duh) —  as the Ground Zero Mosque in the first place here and here. (NPR: Watching Washington and On The Media).

Photo stolen from someone who stole it from Terry Gilliam.

UPDATE

Jones now says that he has single handedly stopped the construction of the Islamic centre, which is a total load of horseshit. This is unconfirmed at this time. Stay tuned, but not to me. Jesus.

Spying On The Spymaster

There are only three ways to look at CSIS director Richard Fadden’s statements:

1. He has blown the cover off active investigations conducted by agents in the field. In that case, he must be fired for misconduct.

2. He’s undertaken a rogue investigation that is to smear potential opponents, in provincial political parties, to the Harper regime. In that case, he must be fired for allowing the national security agency to become the research wing of the Conservative Party of Canada.

3. He’s a real-life General Ripper.

All You Need To Know About What Passes For Thought In America’s Conservative Movement …

A Missouri farmer who has accepted more than $1 million in farm subsidies from the United States government since 1995 is organizing a campaign against government spending on what he calls ‘handouts.’ (The Independent).

Everything Is Awful

So here’s how it looks to me today: in Canada we have a government minister calling protesters “thugs and anarchists” after his government spent two billion dollars on a party for the global ruling class. In Great Britain, a new right-wing government has whacked public services in a deficit-smashing rampage. And in America, Republicans want to make it a crime to marry same-sex couples, judges say government can’t stop to deep-sea drilling and, oh, and the U.S. Supreme Court vandalized freedom of speech and freedom of association. And also, it’s apparently worse to expose military murders than it is to commit military murders.

The planet is warming, the fanatics are praying, the oceans are dying and massive resources are pissed away in pointless regional wars that make nothing better and no one safer. Things have been getting steadily worse and worse and worse for 30 years.

And it’s all Ronald Reagan’s fault.

Oh, and the days are now growing shorter.

And now I have to get ready to be on CBC radio in an hour for fun times with Chris Kirkland and Michelle Hugli. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts…

UPDATE: Now Scott Neidermeyer’s gone and retired! Arrrgh!