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Monthly Archives: March 2008

As I’ve been working on this 20-25 page paper, I’ve been doing my usual scanning of the day’s headlines and came across this: “Todd Bertuzzi suing former coach Crawford.” I’ve tried to withhold from commenting, but I can’t any longer. Some things just need to be said.
Todd Bertuzzi is an imbecile. I’d like to use a stronger word, but I can’t think of one at the moment. Writing essays will do that to you. It’s like your entire vocabulary has been poured into the paper and you don’t have any words left to use.
Anyway, apparently Bertuzzi claims Crawford’s negligence attributed to Bertuzzi’s infamous sucker punch which dropped Steve Moore face-first to the ice. A pile-up ensued, which broke three vertebrae in Moore’s back and has kept him from playing hockey ever since; he will never play professionally again.
Now, I have no doubt Crawford said something about repaying Moore for his hit on Canucks captain Markus Nasland. He probably did. That’s the way things work in the NHL. Retaliation is its modus operandi. But at the end of the day, it was Bertuzzi who CHOSE to hit Moore. He was the one who CHOSE to retaliate. He CHOSE to perform his own vigilante justice. Bertuzzi’s a big boy, and to think that Crawford threatened him to do it or else or that Crawford’s inference that someone should take care of Moore affected all of Bertuzzi’s actions that game is just inane. At the time Bertuzzi’s star was climbing rapidly; he didn’t have to listen to Crawford. What a f*cking idiot.
This is yet another example of how no one takes responsibility for their own actions this day in age. It’s always someone else’s fault. PEOPLE NEED TO START TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN ACTIONS. Period.
N.B. – Why is Bertuzzi doing this? He’s in Anaheim and enjoying a bit of a resurgence in his career. I don’t understand the timing of it, either, especially with the playoffs coming. I sense some kind of personal vendetta. Maybe he and Crawford never got along in Vancouver, and this is one more way to stick it to him. Hmmm…

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My favouritest picture of Stephen Harper, ever. Better than the infamous cowboy/vest combo picture from the Calgary Stampede a couple of years ago. The irony of the image will become clear below…

And now for possibly my favouritest rant ever. Paul Wells tells Stephen Harper to ‘SIT THE F*CK DOWN!’ You need to read it all to get the full effect.

I LOVE IT!!!!

My favourite excerpt is below…

Surely by now Ontarians should know that the big guy doesn’t like it when his orders are ignored. And his contempt for Ontarians’ electoral decisions, when the voters of that province have the gall not to vote Harper’s way, is a matter of long record: witness his childish rant in the aftermath of Stockwell Day’s 2000 election defeat. (And understand this: if anyone ever manages to beat Stephen Harper fair and square in a general election, we will see a display of gracelessness in defeat without precedent in the history of Confederation. This is simply guaranteed. It is what he does.)

There are two things going on here. One is the baselessness of Flaherty/Poilièvre/Harper’s attack on Ontario’s budgeting. Oil is at historic highs, the dollar is up a quarter in the last years, the U.S. real-estate industry is essentially imploding, five central banks pumped hundreds of billions of liquidity into the market in a co-ordinated push — and the problem is Dwight Duncan’s business-tax rates? Come on.

The other is the impudence of Harper’s control-freakery. We know he likes to run everything, but here’s the deal: if somebody signs up to be a Conservative staffer, you can tell them what to do, OK? You don’t get to run the Senate. You don’t get to push bureaucrats around for kicks. You don’t get to muzzle public servants, tell reporters how to cover you, pick the next US president or write Ontario budgets. There’s a Canadian constitution that says so, and just because you boycotted the 25th-anniversary celebrations of the Charter of Rights doesn’t mean the separation of powers, which isn’t even in the Charter, goes away by fiat.

Stephen Harper is such a clever tactician that his little games can be so fascinating we overlook their significance. The significance of this one is, well, significant: he’s badmouthing his own country’s industrial heartland and running roughshod over the prerogatives of a legitimately-elected government for the sake of cheap political points and to prop up his serial loser of a finance minister. It’s not funny.

Amen, brother. Amen.

I went to bed at 3 am last night. I decided at 1 am that it was time to learn all there is to know about Tibet. I don’t know why I finally find motivation to do things after midnight. It must be some weird genetic thing I got from my Grandma Lehmann. She’s a notorious night owl.

But to the task at hand…

Here we go again.

The CFL has decided it wants to ‘get back’ to Ottawa (insert sarcastic ‘yippee’ here).

Count me as one not-so-happy camper. Remember the last attempt at CFL football in Ottawa? The Renegades? The Renegades that folded a mere four years after their establishment. The Ottawa Rough Riders (note the spelling!) of old were a storied franchise. They had the likes of Tony Gabriel, Russ Jackson. They’ve won more Grey Cups than our Riders, even though their last one was in 1976 – and they beat the Riders to win it.

Expansion in the CFL is usually the nightmare. The only successful expansion in the past 20 years has been the revitalization of the Alouettes brand. There was the horrendous American experiment in the early 1990s by former commish Larry Smith (who now, oddly, is the president of the Alouettes; weird) that almost sunk the entire league. I’ve never completely forgiven the man for that ridiculous venture. Remember the Sacremento Gold Miners? The Birmingham Barracudas? The Memphis Mad Dogs? The Shreveport Pirates? And my favourite – the Las Vegas Posse.

The Posse were my favourite because of their anthem singer. The man f*cked up the Canadian anthem EVERY SINGLE TIME. I began to wait for Posse games just so I could hear that godawful singer. It was an absolute embarassment, especially to passionate CFL fans, who never wanted expansion in the first place. But the worst part of American expansion? The fact that the first time Regina ever hosted the Grey Cup, 1995, the Baltimore Stallions won. The only American team to ever hoist the CFL’s ultimate prize. I was there. Maybe that’s why I’m so bitter about it…

Nothing good came out of expansion, except for the development of Anthony Calvillo into a bona fide number one quarterback. But that has only benefitted the Alouettes. The CFL took a good decade to recover from the mess Smith and Company created with their American experiment.

And then came the Renegades in 2002. Personally, I didn’t think the league was strong enough yet to start fiddling with new franchises. The Renegades weren’t horrible, but they weren’t very good either. The problem was the ownership, unable to front the money required. The team ended up reverting to the awful Gliebermans, who proceeded to dig the Renegades’ financial hole even bigger. They folded before the 2006 season.

At that time things weren’t good in Toronto or Hamilton, either; both were in need of new ownership. Luckily a miracle happened. The CFL owners actually thought about whom they were hiring as commissioner and appointed Tom Wright. Wright found Bob Young to take over Hamilton, and David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski bought the Argos. The Argos, especially since the move of ‘Pinball’ Clemons into the head coaching position, have enjoyed an expanded fanbase. Hamilton continues to struggle, but Young refuses to give up, putting money into stadium upgrades and ponying up the money to sign 2005 MOP Casey Printers. Expect them to be better this year.

So here we are. 2008. And the CFL decides it’s time to go back to Ottawa.

But there IS reason to hope this endeavour will not end as catastrophically as the last.

First, the franchise is CONDITIONAL, meaning, it’s not for sure. The owners have to pay the CFL $7 million up front expansion fee. They must secure a lease for Frank Clair Stadium and upgrade it. All of these things must be done before the team even begins to assemble itself.

Second, the ownership involved has deep pockets.

Third, Jeff Hunt is involved. Hunt owns the Ottawa ’67s and has become a well-known sports executive, turning around the ’67s and creating one of the top junior hockey franchises in the country. But hockey is far different from football.

Fourth, there is a salary cap. This will help cap spending and force the franchise to development talent in order to be successful, rather than spend itself into oblivion.

Fifth, the timeline. None of this is going to happen for a good two years, maybe more. This gives the CFL time to make sure everything is ready, from schedule changes to marketing. The expansion franchise will be able to market itself and develop a season ticket base.

What don’t I like?

1. Nine teams does not a league make. It’s a pain in the ass scheduling wise.

2. The Bombers will be forced to move West again. The East is usually the weaker of the two divisions, and the playoff crossover rule will probably be used for the first couple of seasons.

3. The fact that Commissioner Mark Cohon is pursuing expansion so soon after the Renegades’ debacle. If I was Commissioner, I would work on marketing the CFL to its current franchises. The game continues to lack a real marketing presence. The move of broadcasting rights to TSN should help. And I’d be working with Hamilton to reenergize that franchise; its fanbase is faltering. The league’s eight franchises need to be strong before expansion is an option.

4. With the NFL coming to Toronto for five games a year from now on, I have to wonder what is the CFL’s plan to deal with it. It could jeopardize all of the hard work that has gone into revitalizing the Argos. The league should be working on creating a specific Canadian brand of football in order to weather the coming NFL storm. Expansion at this time isn’t a good idea with the NFL on the horizon.

Have you ever noticed that there is no grey in American politics? Everything is in stark contrast. Everything is defined within strict parameters. As President Bush so famously said: “You’re either for us or against us.”

This unfortunate dichotomy has once again taken center stage with the publication of racially-charged statements by Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s pastor.

Rex Murphy had a very good column in The Globe and Mail this past Saturday about this week’s events, including Obama’s incredible speech on racial politics in the United States. You owe it to yourself to read his speech. I posted a small section of it a couple of days ago, but you have to read it in its entirety. It’s a significant speech that will probably become more significant as time passes – hopefully.

Basically Murphy contends that for the past year or so, Obama has been able to ‘transcend’ race. He was able to gather support from all corners of America, creating a movement united for change. But that has completely changed in the past couple of weeks. Now the politics of race has taken center stage; or as Murphy says, “so must for postracial politics.”

Previously, Obama’s biggest racial criticism were whether or not he was ‘black’ enough because his mother is white. Now he is considered black, but one who must once again prove he is ‘good enough’ to win the White House. What an incredible about-face considering his past momentum.

Racism continues to deeply divide America, even in the 21st century. And we are foolish to think that Canada is not the same.

I just hope Murphy’s last sentence does not come true:

If Barack Obama can honestly turn this moment not to his own, but to his country’s advantage, he will deserve the presidency.

If he can not, this once so promising campaign will leave scars on American politics on the matter of race not seen since the turbulent days of the civil rights movement.

Five years later.

I don’t write a whole lot about the Iraq War for two reasons:
1. It’s the same story day after day after day.
2. It’s just so damn depressing because of reason #1.

But seeing as the fifth anniversary of the war occurred this week, I feel I need to address it. And is it really an anniversary? To me the word ‘anniversary’ implies that the occassion is joyful, something worth celebrating. This event is clearly not.

I remember when the war broke out. I was in my fourth year of university in Regina, and I was sitting in the lounge at Luther with a bunch of the girls from my floor. We were watching President Bush declare war and announce that his troops were now on the ground, Operation Iraqi Freedom commencing as he spoke. The mother of one of the girls was with us, having just dropped off her daughter. Before the live coverage ended, she looked at all of us and said, “You girls remember where you were on this night. This is history.”

It sure as hell is history. Bad history. Even the White House is trying to rewrite what has happened so that it shows the Bush administration in a more positive light. I was watching ‘The Fifth Estate’ tonight (I know, I know – what a way to spend a Friday night) and the documentary was about various things having to do with the Iraq War, from investigating its causes to analyzing media coverage. They showed numerous video clips of President Bush speaking on the war, including the infamous speech on the destroyer where he claimed victory. ‘The Fifth Estate’ pointed out that on the White House’s archive footage of that speech, the ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’ banner has mysteriously disappeared…

What does that tell you? It tells you that even the White House, despite its continued optimistic statements about how success is being achieved in Iraq day after day, knows it made a mistake – though it would NEVER admit such a thing (Americans don’t make mistakes, you know).

The problem is that the Bush administration is delusional. I don’t know how else to describe it. Or comprehend its complete and utter lack of understanding of what’s actually happening over there. For example, look at these statements pulled from this week’s speech by President Bush commemorating the fifth anniversary of the war’s beginning stages:

1. “A little over a year ago, the fight in Iraq was faltering.”

2. “The successes we are seeing in Iraq are undeniable.”

3. “In recent months we’ve heard exaggerated estimates of the costs of this
war.”

4. “There’s still hard work to be done in Iraq. The gains we have made are fragile and reversible. But on this anniversary, the American people should know that since the surge began, the level of violence is significantly down, civilian deaths are down, sectarian killings are down, attacks on American forces are down.”

5. “To allow [a sudden troop withdrawal] to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and make it more likely that America would suffer another attack like the one we experienced that day — a day in which 19 armed men with box cutters killed nearly 3,000 people in our — on our soil; a day after which in the following of that attack more than one million Americans lost work, lost their jobs.”

6. “A free Iraq will fight terrorists instead of harboring them. A free Iraq will be an example for others of the power of liberty to change the societies and to displace despair with hope. By spreading the hope of liberty in the Middle East, we will help free societies take root — and when they do, freedom will yield the peace that we all desire. “

Let’s examine these statements in turn.
1. The battle is still faltering. Despite the considerable surge of troops, Iraq isn’t a whole hell of a lot safer. More on that later.

2. What successes? And for whom? Iraqi women and children are not seeing any benefits of US occupation.

3. Exaggerated costs, huh? Last I heard, the DAILY cost of the Iraq War was $1 BILLION dollars. A BILLION DOLLARS A DAY. And for what? If I was an American right now, I’d be more than a little ticked. My country’s economy is in recession mode, infrastructure is in serious need of repair, and millions don’t have health insurance. I have no problem with foreign aid; I actually believe rich countries have an obligation to help the developing world. But money to finance a war doesn’t count as foreign aid. Sorry.

4. Really? Violence is down? Consider this list of just one day’s violent incidents compiled on March 18 by The Globe and Mail’s Middle East correspondent, Mark MacKinnon:

Inside Baghdad:

1) Just after 7 a.m. a roadside bomb detonated near a police patrol in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Mansour, killing one policeman and injuring another.
2) Around 9 a.m., just before Mr. Cheney arrived, a Katyusha rocket hit the fortified “Green Zone” in the centre of the city. No casualties were reported.
3) Around 11 a.m., a mortar shell was lobbed into the green zone.
4) Later in the day, a roadside bomb targeting a U.S. convoy exploded in the Zayouna neighbourhood of northeastern Baghdad (a place I visited just last week…), injuring four civilians. Other reports said three people had been killed.
5) Again in Mansour, another roadside bomb targeted a police patrol, but apparently missed its target, injuring a civilian.
6) Around 1 p.m., eight people were killed and 11 others were injured when a boobytrapped minibus exploded in the upscale Karada neighbourhood.
7) Two U.S. soldiers were killed when their Humvee hit a roadside bomb. The soldiers were clearing a road in northern Baghdad when they were killed, the military announced.
8) Around 2 p.m., a roadside bomb targeted an American patrol in east Baghdad. Iraqi police reported no casualties.
9) Around 5 p.m., Iraqi army and police found four dead bodies buried in a garden of a deserted house south of Baghdad.
10) Around 6:30 p.m., two mortar shells hit a soccer field near a school in east Baghdad. Five soccer players were killed and 7 were injured.
11) A mortar round killed six children when it landed on their home in the Sawmar
district of northern Baghdad, the Iraqi military said.
12) Iraqi police patrols found seven unknown bodies on Monday that had been dumped in different parts of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, a police source said.

The rest of the country:

1) U.S. forces killed two al-Qaeda militants and detained four others on Sunday during operations in central Iraq, the U.S. military said.
2) 52 people are killed and 75 others are injured when a female suicide bomber blows herself up in the southern city of Kerbala, near the shrine of Imam Hussein, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam.
3) The U.S. consulate in the south-central area of Babel came was targeted by three
Katyusha rockets. No injuries or damage were reported.
4) A policeman was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in central Basra on Monday morning.
5) The Basra morgue received the bullet-riddled body of a woman.
6) Three bodies of fighters belonging to the U.S.-backed neighbourhood police were found two days after they were kidnapped in the town of Udhaim, 100 km north of
Baghdad, police said.
7) Two civilians were wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded near a convoy of trucks carrying construction materials.
8) A parked car bomb wounded five people, including a policeman, when it blew up near a police patrol in the northern city of Mosul, police said. Gunmen and police had reportedly clashed shortly before the explosion.
9) Five mortar bombs landed, wounding two people in central Mosul.
10) A policeman was killed when unidentified gunmen attacked an Iraqi police checkpoint in central Haditha city, 170 km west of Ramadi.

And the best quote by MacKinnon:

If this has been a successful endeavour, I’m terrified – for Iraq’s sake –
of what a failure looks like.

No sh*t.

5. Possibly my favourite statement of them all. For what I’m sure won’t be the last time, let me repeat: the majority of the September 11th hijackers were SAUDI ARABIAN. Basing the Iraq invasion on ‘war on terror’ auspices is asinine. I continue to ask: why aren’t we invading Saudi Arabia? Oh yeah. They’re American allies. And we don’t invade our allies (like *cough* Pakistan *cough* – even though Pakistan’s refusal to crackdown on terrorist organizations is part of the reason Canadian casualties in southern Afghanistan continue to climb. Oh well.). I continue to be stupefied by this logic, or rather, lack thereof. Iraq ain’t the problem, folks. Oh, and I forgot about the fear-mongering. They’re still trying to scare Americans into supporting the war.

6. For a very short period of time, I believed the Iraq War was based on oil and nothing more. Thankfully I got my sanity back and realized that while oil is a nice side benefit, the reasons behind invading Iraq are a whole hell of a lot more complicated. Does it have something to do with avenging the 1991 Gulf War? Sure. Does it have to do with asserting American power and influence in the Middle East? Of course. But a huge part of the reasoning has to do with this weird right-wing conservative belief that making Iraq a democracy will inevitably cause the people of Iran, Syria and company to rise up and create democracies of their own. It’s a nice thought. It really is. And I appreciate it. But it just shows how little Americans understand the Middle East. Their governmental systems are deeply interlinked with religion and culture, which makes a democratic system pretty freaking hard to implement. Is it impossible? No. But it will take generations to embed the type of values that are implicit in democracy into a people whose personal belief systems run completely counter. And invading countries illegally under international law doesn’t exactly give democracy a good name.

So there you have it. Five years later and the rhetoric hasn’t changed. The White House continues to frame the Iraq War as “necessary, noble and just” when it is clearly none of those things.

And President Bush continues to be President, despite lying to those who elected him about his reasons for invading Iraq and directly causing the deaths of almost 4000 American soliders and tens of thousands of Iraqis. How is he still president? How is it that a president can directly lie to the American people about a war that was misguided at best, completely selfish at worst, and not be impeached, while another president has sex with an intern, which really has no real effect on the day-to-day affairs of a country except that it sells papers, and is almost turfed from the Oval Office. I just don’t understand.

Iraq continues to be a quagmire. A joke. A f*cking disaster.

Heaven help us all.

I like Barack Obama.

Despite my reservations as to whether he is equipped to be the President of the United States at this time, I truly believe he is one of the few genuine politicians that exists today. His words are full of emotion and you can’t help but believe what he says; it hits you right in the heart.

Yesterday he made a momentous speech on race relations in the United States. Read this and tell me you are not moved:

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina – or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time. This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it
overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

THIS is what politics is about: inspiring each other to work together and form ‘a more perfect union.’

THIS is what Canadian politics needs an infusion of.

The word ‘HYPROCRITE’ screamed through my head when I read this (and kudos to Brad Wall for not sucking up to ‘Steve’):

PRIME MINISTER WANTS LAWSUIT DROPPED

The Government will not scrap the equalization lawsuit started by the
former NDP administration.

This, even though our Premier has been asked to directly by the Prime
Minister.

Brad Wall isn’t dropping the lawsuit altogether saying right now, with a
new appraoch to provincial-federal relations, it isn’t needed.

The NDP motion to debate the equalization issue in the Legislature Monday
was defeated. Wall maintains such a debate isn’t necessary.

Sooooooo, let me get this straight. The Saskatchewan government sued the federal government for breaking an election promise that everyone knows they had no intention of keeping. The federal government continues to demand the lawsuit be dropped, though it has merit.

THEN, the Prime Minister decides to SUE the Liberals for libel over a released passage from a book that, A) wasn’t released by the Liberals, but by the Globe and Mail, B) contains TRUE information corroborated by a tape that exists and C) that he simply wants to go away.

I smell a hypocrite. He doesn’t want people suing him, but he can sue others. Hmmm…

I really have no time for people like Stephen Harper. The more he’s in the power, the more I believe he thinks he’s above the rest of us. I can just hear him saying, “I am THE PRIME MINISTER! Bow down to me, you insipid, feebleminded, poor excuses for people!”

He’s an asinine hypocritical, poor excuse for a Prime Minister.

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