September 30, 2005

Then why are my taxes so high?

Sept. 30 - I'm too tired to do a total deconstruct of remarks made by Canada's Ambassador to the U.S. Frank McKenna (McKenna calls United States government dysfunctional) but he does have a few good points:

"In Canada, whether we like it or not -- and often we don't like it -- but essentially we have party discipline, and if you can convince the Prime Minister or a minister that something should be done, invariably it can end up being done," Mr. McKenna said.
True, totalitarian governments do tend to be more efficient, but the question lingers: what if you can't convince the PM to do something?

And then there's this:

At the same time, he said, the United States faces "a very difficult financial situation," with predictions its deficit will hit or exceed US$500-billion this year.

"That's not to speak of the fact that that doesn't include unfunded liabilities for social security, which, some estimate, could run into the twenties and thirties of trillions of dollars."

By comparison, Canada is in its eighth consecutive year of surplus, with a dropping ratio of debt to gross domestic product, he said.

Yeah, we know how you reduced the national debt. The military, health care system and provinces were underfunded, but the economy was so robust that we could afford the corruptions of Adscam and the unfolding questions about Earncliffe contracts.
"Our pension plan, instead of being in deficit, is actuarially balanced for the next 75 years."

He also praised Canada's health care system and the country's abundance of natural resources.

Whatever, dude. Just don't get sick up here.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:42 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

September 29, 2005

The new G-G

Sept. 29 - Someone in my family asked why I had posted nothing on the Michaelle Jean, Canada's new Governor-General. I replied that she holds French citizenship, she has been appointed to represent the Queen of England, and what's wrong with this picture? (My kids and husband are old enough to handle my sarcasm wit.)

Well, she's announced her intention of giving up her French citizenship. I can't deny that's an improvement.

Posted by Debbye at 09:55 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

The War on Fatherhood

Sept. 29 - Many thanks to David A. Giles for the following link:

Stephen Baskerville, PhD - Fathers and Men's Rights Articles.

There are a number of articles by Dr. Baskerville on the web page; some of them look interesting, some look to be controversial and a few look to be extremely uncomfortable.

Discomfort is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, sometimes it is an extremely health sign that something is wrong and needs fixing.

Posted by Debbye at 09:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

New London's Burning

Sept. 29 - Tuning Spork reports on some very interesting developments in New London following attempts to implement the Kelo decision (known to many of us as "that damned Supreme Court ruling which allowed scum-bag developers to steal honest people's homes") in New London's Burning.

Double heh.

Posted by Debbye at 07:06 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 28, 2005

Dingwall resigns at head of Canadian Mint

Sept. 28 - David Dingwall, whose name came up during the Gomery Inquiry into Adscam and, more recently, due to his extracurricular activies as an unregistered lobbyist for grants with the Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC) on behalf of Bioniche, resigned as head of the Canadian Mint this afternoon:

The former Liberal cabinet minister has become embroiled in controversy after it was recently revealed he failed to register as a lobbyist for a Toronto pharmaceutical company.

In a statement Wednesday he said he believed all of his actvities were above-board.

Mr. Dingwall stepped aside amid controversy about his lobbying activities, before his appointment to the Mint as well as questions about his expenses while heading up the Crown corporation.

His lobbying activities on behalf of Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. are under scrutiny by Industry Canada.

It should be noted that yesterday, Bioniche announced they would repay Ottawa the $463,974 "success" fee.

Dingwall's expense account was reported on only this morning:

Federal documents released under the Access to Information Act show the office expenses and pay packet of David Dingwall, president of the Royal Canadian Mint, cost more than $1 million last year.

Included in Mr. Dingwall's office billings for 2004 were $1,235 for his annual golf membership, $13,228 in one day of foreign travel, and a $5,728 meal at a posh Ottawa restaurant.

And while Mr. Dingwall has a leased car courtesy of the Crown corporation, his office ran up a $2,500 tab for limousines in 2003.

The wining, dining, globe-trotting and other office expenses added up to $846,464 in 2004, mint records show. In addition, Mr. Dingwall's annual salary -- not including up to 12 per cent in performance bonuses -- is as much as $241,000.


Other billings released to [Tory critic for the mint] Mr. [Brian] Pallister show Mr. Dingwall, a Jean Chretien-era cabinet minister, has been running up a substantial tab, which included the following in 2004:

- $5,297 for various membership fees;

- $11,173 for meals in Canada;

- $3,317 in foreign dining;

- $40,355 for domestic travel;

- $92,682 for foreign travel;

- $12,487 for domestic hospitality;

- $5,998 for lease vehicle operating costs.

Mint spokeswoman Pam Aung Thin defended Mr. Dingwall's spending, saying each claim has been approved and verified by the Crown corporation's chief financial officer.

When I first began to read about the TPC transactions for which Dingwall lobbied I had to double-check to make sure he was still president of the Canadian Mint -- it seemed inconceivable that someone who already had a plush patronage appointment would also be a registered (much less un-registered) lobbyist. It just goes to prove how naive we can be about how this government operates.

Sept. 29 - The Toronto Sun isn't pulling any punches in today's editorial Dinged by David Dingwall:

This editorial is inspired by David Dingwall, a man who made $277,000 a year as president of the Royal Canadian Mint (until yesterday) and still charged Canadian taxpayers $1.79 for a bottle of water.

And, oh, yeah ... $91,437 on international travel in 2004 alone.

Greg Weston says he was Chewing Our Money and looks on the career which Paul Martin praised in the House yesterday:
Back in 1994, Dingwall was Liberal public works minister when he publicly vowed to eradicate patronage and corruption from the awarding of massive federal advertising contracts.

The senior bureaucrat handpicked by Dingwall to clean up the advertising swamp was Chuck Guite, the same official who helped create it under the Tories.

The rest, as they say, is history. AdScam was born in Dingwall's department the next year, $350 million was blown on the scandalous advertising sponsorship program, and Guite is now facing criminal fraud charges.


Testimony at the Gomery inquiry into AdScam indicated that in 1998, for instance, Dingwall was paid $12,000 a month by a Montreal advertising executive he apparently had never met, supposedly to provide lobbying advice to VIA Rail, a Crown corporation prohibited by law from hiring lobbyists for anything.

The Montreal ad executive, Jean Lafleur, is a key player in the AdScam fiasco, and told the Gomery inquiry he was ordered by VIA to hire Dingwall and send the bills to the public railway.

Posted by Debbye at 07:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The ethics of Martin and his Liberals

Sept. 28 - Toronto Tory is busy digging up questionable transactions between Liberal Party leader Paul Martin, the government he leads and corporations which, after receving government money, made sizeable donations to the Liberals and/or Martin's leadership campaign. Keep in mind that Martin was Canada's Minister of Finance for several years before his campaign for party leadership.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) lies at the center of the allegations in Entry #1:

After JD Irving Limited received $700,000 in approved funding from ACOA, they donated $100,000 to Paul Martin's leadership campaign.

Oxford Frozen Foods received $1,600,000 in 2003 from ACOA, and donated at least $50,000 to Martin's leadership campaign.

Keep in mind that the list of donors has vanished from official Canadian government archives (fortunately, Google's snapshot images endure.)

And then there's TESMA, which received received $2,600,000 from ACOA and then donated $15,000 to the leadership campaign.

Is it just me? Either these corporations are so needy that they require taxpayer subsidies or they are so financially secure that they can afford to make political contributions. I don't see a middle ground which is also ethical and, to all appearances, this is a quid pro quo arrangement and the taxpayers are footing the bill.

Entry #2 on Toronto Tory's list concerns something I alluded to earlier: Martin's dilemma in trying to sandwich the date for the next election between reports on audits. I should have included trial dates!

The Earnscliffe Strategy Group has long been associated with Paul Martin, and the article $10M in federal funds go to firm linked to PM in today's Ottawa Citizen brings new figures:

The Earnscliffe Strategy Group, an Ottawa consulting firm with close political ties to Prime Minister Paul Martin, has received more than $10 million in federal government money since the Liberals took power, new documents show.

And another Ottawa polling firm that has sometimes worked with Earnscliffe received more than $61 million in the same period.

Ottawa-based EKOS Research was awarded more than 1,600 contracts over the 111/2-year period, mostly for public opinion research.

The work was done for various departments, agencies and Crown corporations.

Records tabled in the House of Commons on Monday show that Earnscliffe and its affiliates have received 269 contracts, amendments and standing offers since 1993.

During Mr. Martin's years as finance minister, his department repeatedly hired Earnscliffe to do polling and focus groups and provide communications advice, often in advance of federal budgets.

The new records show that Earnscliffe received just under $2 million from the Finance Department alone.

The finance contracts last year became the subject of a political storm as a former public works official alleged that the tendering was specially tailored to ensure the work always went to Earnscliffe. The firm denied the allegation.

Most of the finance work was done by Earnscliffe senior partners David Herle, who ran Mr. Martin's 1990 leadership bid, and Elly Alboim, a former CBC producer.

Additionally, there's been a lot of speculation that Earnscliffe is Martin's Adscam, with contracts going out for little or no work.

The apparent conflict of interest hides another weakness in the Martin government. All governments pay heed to public opinion, but public opinion is usually concerned with short term objectives and governments that lead are presumed to take a longer view.

When public opinion dominates decision-making we end up with a government that hesitates, fumbles and, shall we say, dithers. Harsher types might call it opportunism, something we expect in political parties but reject in governments.

Posted by Debbye at 06:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 27, 2005


Sept. 27 - I had been unable to remember the source, author or name of an article I had read (which turned out to be a book review!) so was unable to link it in my post on Fatherhood and Grandparenthood. I am grateful that reader Andrew P. recognized my brief description and very kindly emailed me the relevant information.

The book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by economist Steven D. Levitt and scientist Stephen J. Dubner was reviewed by Orson Scott Card in Freakonomics Or You Have to Find the Facts Before You Can Face Them. Some of the assertions in the book are controversial and Card touches on one of the hypotheses: that lower crimes rates came about as a result of decriminalizing abortions.

In 1973, Roe v. Wade made abortion permissible throughout the United States. The floodgates opened, and vast numbers of abortions were performed. As a result, vast numbers of children were not born.

Ah, but which children? The vast majority of the abortions were among women who would have been raising their children without a father; substantial numbers of these women were addicts. And even the abortions performed on middle-class women were somewhat more likely to be the result of liaisons in which one partner or the other, or both, had poor impulse control.

In other words, the fetuses that were aborted, had they been born, would have become children who were statistically the most likely group to become criminals. Raised by single mothers, in poverty, with genes that might not provide them with much ability to foresee the longterm consequences of impulsive actions.

The crime rates began falling exactly when that generation of children would have reached adolescence and those with such tendencies would have begun their criminal careers.

It certainly looked as if we killed off much of our criminal class in the womb.

Did I mention that some of the conclusions are controversial?

I've only excerpted the portion of the review that fit the blog post I was writing, but the review is about much more than that and addresses one of the biggest problems of this information age: too much specialized knowledge by experts which we can neither ignore nor understand.

I was curious and read about the book at the Freaknomics site and saw something that never fails to get my attention:

[Steven D. Levitt] usually begins with a mountain of data and a simple, unasked question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. (Emphasis added)
I can't recommend the book as I haven't read it (at least not yet) but it sounds intriguing.

I need to write (or at least begin) a report on a meeting I attended yesterday evening and then catch some sleep so probably won't post again until tonight.

(Orson Scott Card link via Relapsed Catholic)

Posted by Debbye at 07:43 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

OPP Ironmen

Sept. 27 - Good friend Jack has helped launch a website for OPP IRONMEN, self-described as "two very tough cops giving it their best!" Their best includes going into the dunk tank in order to raise money for Diabetes Canada.

They're also a bit modest, but Jack's profile of them is very informative. [Blogger permalinks seem somewhat skewed today; scroll down to Sept. 26 post "Very Late Update | OPP Ironmen" or run find option (Ctrl + F for IE users) search words "OPP Ironman."]

Welcome to the crazy blogging world, Ironmen!

Posted by Debbye at 06:38 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 26, 2005

The value of Unasked Questions

Sept. 26 - Two items on the UN, one on oil-for-food and one on the lack of whistleblower protection in Canada have a common denominator: unasked questions.

From Fréchette's U.N. challenge (link via reader JM):

The oil-for-food report, by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, said the U.N.'s systems for preventing mismanagement, corruption and communications gaps were "insufficient," and that Fréchette "knew but did not act upon" reports of major program violations.
Now I'm not a journalist and I never went to journalism school so I could be wrong but wouldn't a real reporter ask about the "knew but did not act upon" part and perhaps even about the allegations that Fréchette actually blocked reports of corruption in OFF from coming before the Security Council? But no; the very next paragraph reads:
But, Volcker concluded, both Fréchette and Annan should be part of the effort to reform the world body, the task that the Montreal-born diplomat and public servant was appointed to do seven years ago, when faith in the U.N. leadership was high.
M'kay. Faith in the U.N. leaderhsip was high when Fréchette was appointed and now, by implication, it's low. The logic of keeping Frechette on when it seems clear that she has failed to accomplish her appointed task escapes me, but I wonder if Ward is perhaps being deliberately ironic in that paragraph. Oh well, one can only hope.

Salim Mansur, always a favourite around here, doesn't mince words: Paul Martin out of touch in reference to Martin's speech to the U.N. (text of speech here.)

Mansur speculates on the kind of speech Lester Pearson would have made:

The former PM and Nobel-Prize-winning diplomat would surely have told the UN that Canada, as a founding member, found intolerable the stain on the organization's reputation due to the corruption, ineptness, nepotism and mismanagement revealed by Paul Volcker's commission of inquiry into the Iraqi Oil-for-Food scandal.

Pearson would surely have reminded the UN of his role in calling for global "partnership for development," and the necessary provision of assistance by rich countries to the poor. But he would also insist the UN cannot be trusted with increased funds unless full reform of its management practices occurred, and the UN secretariat became accountable and transparent.

His idealism was framed by realism, since he knew full well the perennial nature of evil. He would not have shirked taking responsibility for UN failure in Rwanda and the Balkans, and then in scolding member-states for their appalling disregard for the tragedy unfolding in Darfur.

Pearson would also, in my view, have made sure Canada stood firmly together with Britain and Australia as members of a great Commonwealth affirming U.S. President George Bush's message in New York on this same 60th anniversary occasion: "If member countries want the United Nations to be respected -- respected and effective -- they should begin by making sure it is worthy of respect."

My reaction to Martin's speech superceded my usual reaction to vague platitudes and drivel because I was outraged that Martin of all the leaders gathered there would have the nerve to talk about reforms and financial accountability. I did note, however, that he talked about "three pillars," a rather clear lifting of Bush's Whitehall speech which also employed "three pillars" to explain U.S. foreign policy.

Has anyone asked why Martin felt it necessary to plagiarize the president of the United States?

Claudia Rosett writes The Buck Still Hasn't Stopped (link via Newsbeat1) that the "definitive report" issued by the Volcker Inquiry is "hefty" but not definitive.

You should read the whole thing, but this is a CanCon post so I only excerpted this bit about the man said to be Paul Martin's mentor, Maurice Strong, from page 2 of the article:

Part of the problem is that Volcker has imposed on his inquiry the standards not of a prosecutor, but of an accountant. Faced with a pole too tall to measure by hand, he instead tells us its precise circumference on the ground, and lets it go at that. Much has been aired already of Volcker's account of Annan's strange and abiding ignorance of his own son's lively lobbying for U.N.-related business. So let us focus on another character, Annan's former special adviser Maurice Strong, longtime U.N. guru of good governance. (Strong did depart the United Nations this spring, but with Annan's office expressing fervent hopes he will soon return.)

At some length, Volcker does the genuine service of laying out how Strong, in mid-1997, received a check for $988,885 made out to his name (a copy can be found on page 106, Volume II). The check was drawn on a Jordanian bank, funded by Saddam's regime, and delivered by Korean businessman Tongsun Park, who was a U.N. "back-channel" go-between with Saddam. Strong endorsed the check over to a third party to invest in a Strong family-controlled business, Cordex Petroleum. Interviewed by Volcker's team earlier this year, Strong said he did not recall receiving such a check. When shown a copy, he said he did not know the money came from Iraq. Volcker leaves the matter there, concluding that "the Committee has found no evidence that Mr. Strong was involved in Iraqi affairs, matters relating to the [Oil-for-Food] Programme or took any actions at the request of Iraqi officials."

But how hard did the Volcker committee look? In July 1997, the month before Strong cashed the Saddam-backed check, Annan was issuing his first U.N. reform program, reshaping the secretariat. Strong was the major architect of that reform, and was thanked profusely by Annan at the time for "his important contributions." A significant aspect of that reform was the consolidation of the then-new, ad hoc, and diffuse Iraq Oil-for-Food program into a single, more firmly entrenched office. This move tilted control of the daily administration of Oil-for-Food away from the Security Council and toward the secretariat. When the new, unified office set up shop three months later, in October 1997, Annan appointed Sevan as executive director. That marked the beginning of the stretch in which Sevan began taking bribes from Saddam, and the Oil-for-Food program, urged on by Annan, began to grow astronomically in size and scope. Lacking any disclosure of the secret U.N. paper trail that led to the creation of this office and its expanded mission, it is impossible to know whether Strong took a direct hand in setting up the office from which Sevan then, in effect, collaborated with Saddam. Perhaps Strong had nothing to do with it. But Volcker doesn't even ask the question.

Not asking the right questions could be due to oversight or ineptitude, right? Right.

The last item, Whistleblower fires back at Immigration and Refugee Board (link via Let It Bleed), concerns the dismissal of Selwyn Pieters, a man who had gone public with allegations of wrongdoing at the Immigration and Refugee Board:

In March 2004, Mr. Pieters complained to the Public Service Integrity Office that the politically appointed board members who are supposed to decide the fate of refugee claims were violating the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by not writing their own decisions.

The refugee protection officer also went to the media with his allegations that civil servants were the ones who were doing the decision-making.

Following a probe by a board-hired investigator, IRB chairman Jean-Guy Fleury conceded “improper conduct occurred” in three cases and “appropriate administrative measures” were taken against four board members.

In firing him last month, executive director Marilyn Stuart-Major credited Mr. Pieters with exposing the wrongdoing in which he participated.

However, she lashed out at him for his “deliberate fabrication” in calling the problems at the board “systemic,” and for alleging a “code of silence” existed around the misconduct.

The case is complicated by claims and counter-claims of racism, harassment and retaliation, but there is another issue posed because Mr. Pieters believes that dismissing his claim that the problems at the board are systemic was done prematurely:
He also maintains it failed to delve thoroughly into his claim that the problems with decision writing were widespread.

“I said it was a systemic issue and they're saying there's no evidence of any systemic issues here,” Mr. Pieters said.

“There's no evidence because (they) didn't investigate it.”

Clearly readers can't judge if the review was inadequate, but it does raise some serious questions, including the Board investigating itself, and in light of indications during the Gomery Inquiry that civil servants often exceeded their job descriptions I think this derserves more scrutiny.

After all, if you don't ask, you won't know. Nor will we.

Posted by Debbye at 04:54 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

September 25, 2005

Protests in Washington

Sept. 25 - I've been scratching my head trying to figure out what to post about the latest anti-war demonstrations but Ith puts it into wonderfully clear perspective in Expectation.

We have well-attended science fiction conventions in Toronto too! They last a few days as opposed to a few hours, so I totally expect commensurate news coverage.

Posted by Debbye at 11:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Pizza and guns

Sept. 25 - Long ago I desisted from reporting on gun crimes in Toronto. There may have been a slender window of opportunity to crack down on the gangs, but I think that time has passed and gangs are securely entrenched.

But when I wonder about the money and resources that have been squandered on the useless gun registry, the reduced number of personnel in the RCMP and Toronto Police who actually work on capturing criminals, and the seeming inability of border guards to control weapons imports and keep previously deported criminals out of Canada, I realize that I really should have majored in Compiling Data from Diverse Sources to Present Myth-Busting Papers instead of History. Unfortunately, numbers induce a deer-caught-in-headlights response from me so I may believe these things are connected but can't yank up numbers to prove it.

Back on topic. It's been a long, bloody summer here, but you people outside of Toronto can rest assured that Toronto City Council is doing nothing everything they can to end the bloodshed.

The shooting death of a child last summer was hailed as "The Last Straw" by our intrepid mayor, so I suppose this latest can't really be called "the last straw" but maybe this will be "the really last straw" or "the really really last straw" ( Cops review tape in hunt for gunmen who shot one 17- and one 18-year old as they stood at a counter ordering pizza.)

(N.B.: I don't know the colour of the victims in this case and, quite frankly, I don't care: it's irrelevant. Two men were shot and they shouldn't have been shot. The other patrons in the pizza shop shouldn't have been forced to dive for cover and the owner and staff shouldn't have to endure the trauma of returning to work in the following days, relive the incident and see bullet holes. I really hope that sounds judgemental because I am!)

23:31 - It's not just Toronto, by the way. Read this, ponder the questions, and follow the link.

Posted by Debbye at 10:26 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

That damned gun registry again

Sept. 25 - I linked this in a post below but it really deserves its own spot. The alarm bells that went off when we were told that the feds had spent $1 million in software were not false, and it may well be that the gun registry is a 'Bigger fraud than AdScam':

Critics of the gun registry are eagerly awaiting Auditor General Sheila Fraser's "Canadian Firearms Program" audit which is scheduled to be released in February -- if we're not in the midst of a federal election campaign.

Fraser isn't doing interviews about the audit, which has been underway for months.

The last time her office attempted to look into gun registry spending was 2002 and the results were explosive. In fact, her team was forced to abandon its attempts to follow the spending on the gun registry because of the absence of records.

"The information on cost recovery provided to the government changed as the program developed," Fraser wrote at the time.

Originally expected to be self-financing by 1999-2000, Fraser and her auditors discovered the target for the firearms program to break even was pushed to 2013 -- an assumption that the program collect $419 million in fees in 2002-03 and about $828 million by 2007-08. (Emphasis added)

What part of accountable government don't people understand? People who vote for the Libranos do so in large part because that party says the right things; I get that. But what kind of brain death fails to connect the lapse between "saying the right things" and "doing the right things?"

There is a sick, twisted mentality at work here. Paul Martin has to time elections these days with an eye on inquiries into scandals and the reports they generate.

To reiterate an old rant, if those who froth at the mouth when they read "Halliburton" would apply some of the same passion when they read about the seemingly endless list of government mis-spending and "absence of records" we might find a lot of common ground.

To re-iterate another rant, let's see some concrete proposals from the CPC to force accountability into public spending (and that includes accountability from any agency, institution or foundation that recents public funds.)

Or, to take another view, if the aim of the Libranos is to initiate "Scandal Overdose" then they are succeeding. I know I'm weary of being angry and I can't help but wonder how many Canadians have begun to block out this kind of news simply to bring some sanity back to their lives.

(Link via Newsbeat1 via NealeNews, two of the most informative sites in Canada.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 24, 2005

Fatherhood and Grandparenthood

Sept. 24 - I read two posts yesterday that really stuck with me. They both concern parenting, or more properly, the lack of full parenting, and raise some disturbing issues.

David has written an outstanding post about The Ultimate Victims of single-parent families and he's backing it up with more than abstract speculation. Some of the figures cited are alarming and point to the need for a sober evaluation of the impact on families without a father's influence.

It's a touchy subject. There are a great many women (and a few men) who are raising children singlely and it is not always by choice. Some were deserted or one of the parents died. Others wisely left abusive or destructive relationships. I doubt anyone would argue that remaining together "for the sake of the children" is a good thing when the kids are forced to endure the fighting, bitterness, and animosity that often arises when a marriage has crumbled. Yet the acceptance of "no-fault divorces" argues that we as a society do accept that marriages can fall apart for a number of reasons that don't cast either spouse as villainous but simply as incompatible.

But somehow there has been a shift whereby dropping the belief that it's best to stay together for the sake of the children has led to assertions that a non-custodial parent, usually the father, is dispensable. Mom can do it all, be both father and mother, and the kids will turn out just fine because ... well, actually, that part is kind of left out. Dad's good for presents and trips to amusement parks, but when it comes to guidance, discipline and that most important parenting tool which we are literally stuck with, setting a good example, he's too often considered inconsequential. Evidently, two heads are not better than one.

The alarming part is that family courts also seem to regard the other parent as superfluous by their reluctance to enforce visitation rights when the custodial parent deliberately (and one might argue maliciously) denies it.

The seeming indifference of the courts when a parent's visitation rights are denied allows for a second injustice: the child's rights have also been violated. Judges and family courts, by inaction, diminish the worth of the love between the child and the non-custodial parent. Although the impact of that has yet to be assessed, one has to wonder how a child will develop emotionally when love for one parent is intentionally thwarted by the other or if the child comes to feel ashamed or disloyal because of that love.

I believe we need to find a way to encourage and support those who are raising children alone without diminishing the very real need for children to have two involved parents because, in this instance, we really do need to think about the children.

Anyone who prefers words like "resilient" and "survivor" over "irreparable" and "victim" will be intrigued by this next post. Raskolnikov evokes the former as he examines a different kind of parenting issue in Gramma's House by looking at the large number of grandparents who have taken on the child-raising of their grandchildren in aboriginal communities. That mirrors what is happening throughout Canada and the U.S.A. but there's a twist: the grandparents who are raising these kids are of the generation that is often viewed as having been so damaged by res-schools that they were rendered incapable of good parenting skills.

Evidently there has been a lack of any noticeable concern exhibited by Tribal Child and Family Service workers and community leaders, which is surprising and perhaps even alarming, but both of the outcomes Raskolnikov suggests contains the hope of healing.

(The comments, by the way, offer some different perspectives and worth the read.)

Sept. 25 - 17:05 - Read Is There Really a Fatherhood Crisis? for more (it's long and I'm still working through it, but it's already pretty hard hitting.) I don't know what to say; it's all very sobering.

I read an article this week (but can't find it now) linking the lowered crime rates in some major American cities with readier access to abortions. That was really a mind-stopper (if you know the one I'm referring to please drop me a line so I can link to it as well.)

Sept. 27 - 07:14 - Many thanks to Andrew P., who remembered that the article was Freakonomics Or You Have to Find the Facts Before You Can Face Them by Orson Scott Card and - bonus - that it had been linked by Kathy at Relapsed Catholic which was how we both came to read it.

21:50 - John Leo is linking Katrina casualties to single-parent families, although I think he may be streching it a bit far. One of the most uplifting things I saw during the early coverage were two men who had delivered their wives and children to the Convention Centre and were heading out to see if anyone else needed help. They had such a matter-of-fact attitude - neither exhibited humility or arrogance - and just said they had done what men need to do. I wish I could remember their exact words.

An honest report on Katrina might well show that a lot of men stood up and, well, acted like men so often do: strong and true.

I enjoy some wine with dinner so I'm going to indulge in some sauce for the gander is good for the goose whimsy: Imagine, if you dare, what would happen if all the men in the world went on strike. [And before you mention Lysistrata, be sure and read the damned play. The women barricaded themselves in the town treasury, which was a bigger problem for the Greek men than doing without sex!]

Posted by Debbye at 06:44 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

So far so good

Sept. 24 - Hurricane Rita Hits Texas, Louisiana but thus far there have been no reports of fatalities directly attributable to the storm. It's not over yet and could still turn sour, but it looks as though the worst predictions have not materialized.

The second-guessing will be inevitable, but I'm from earthquake country and the idea that people actually have prior warning about the approach of a hurricane and can take measures to safeguard their lives and property makes me downright envious. I suppose it's just human nature to be irritated when precautions turn out to be unnecessary, but hey! we're alive, therefore we bitch.

Going further with a half-full glass stance, the evacuation of a city the size of Houston can be spelled opportunity as local, state and federal officials review evaluation reports and those lessons learned can provide invaluable information for all cities in the event they need to get millions of people out in the event of a natural or man-made catastrophe.

Media coverage of both Katrina and Rita have been much as we'd expect: breathless, drama-building reports from some poor schlubs who are forced to file their reports out of doors just so we can get a "feel" for what not having enough sense to come in out of the rain is like, but there have been some things they failed to report such as these:

Americans breathe a sigh of relief as
Texans stop bragging for 5 minutes...

Floridians count blessings...
Dems demand recount...

Check out a number of items that didn't make the press over at Countercolumn (and if you can take it, read about the sad and embittered race of men we call Logisticians.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Ethics and the Liberals

Sept. 24 - Bill and Angry continue to keep their eyes on the growing questions about how some Technologies Partnerships Canada (TPC) loans were obained. Two weeks ago it was about $3.7 million made to 3rd party intermediaries who were used to help obtain the loans, and now it appears that the investigation has expanded from four to as many as 15 companies that are improperly using lobbyists or middlemen.

Some recent revelations bear yet more resemblence to Adscam-style dealings, namely claims that a lobbying firm, Wallding International, is owned by former Cabinet minister and president of the Royal Canadian Mint David Dingwall, was paid a $350,000 "success" fee for his assistance in getting $15 million in federal financing for Bioniche. Angry has more in this post that poses some questions about the lobbying activies of Dingwall and another former Cabinet Minister, Marc Lalonde, who served under Pierre Trudeau, and now works on behalf of TM Bioscience, a company that has also received money from the TPC.

The TPC is now being phased out and replaced with a new agency, the Transformative Technologies Program. Okay, so they discard a name that has been touched with scandal. But now I'm wondering if it is something more after reading this:

NORTH CAPE, P.E.I. (CP) - Prime Minister Paul Martin said Saturday that he intends to make Canada a major producer of renewable energy.

Martin made the commitment as he toured the site of the new Canadian Wind Energy Institute at North Cape, a blustery village at the northwestern tip of Prince Edward Island.

On Friday, the federal government, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, announced it will contribute about $3.6 million toward the establishment of the institute.

As well, starting with the 2006-07 fiscal year, Natural Resources Canada will contribute $1 million annually for two years toward operating costs.

That commitment, however, is expected to extend well beyond two years, but tail off gradually as the institute's own sources of income grow.

Are institutes that receive federal financing required to be audited by the A-G or, like foundations, are they exempt?

Bill and Angry are doing fantastic jobs staying on top of this story and, like Adscam, the allegations of wrong-doing involve people who were once entrusted with the governance of this country.

This is very timely: Toronto Tory has set a self-imposed challenge:

Every day, for the next 30 days, I will post an example of a company or individual who has an unethical relationship with Paul Martin, and/or the Liberal party of Canada/Ontario.
There are more details about the challenge at LIBERAL CORRUPTION - THE ONE MONTH CHALLENGE. Somehow I don't think there will be a lack of material.

Sept. 25 - 17:49 - I missed this post by Kate that expands on the role David Dingwall played in Adscam and connects some more dots.

So many scandals, so little time. The gun registry could be a fraud bigger than Adscam (link via Newsbeat1)"

[Auditor General Sheila] Fraser isn't doing interviews about the audit, which has been underway for months.

The last time her office attempted to look into gun registry spending was 2002 and the results were explosive. In fact, her team was forced to abandon its attempts to follow the spending on the gun registry because of the absence of records. (Emphasis added)

I feel sick.

Posted by Debbye at 07:03 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 23, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson

Sept. 23 - One last thing before I head out. Friday is VDH day at the National Review, and he manages to bring freshness to the old debate over keeping Iraq one, intact nation (Strategy, Strategy Everywhere ....)

I haven't intentionally quit making the case for the war in Iraq, but I find it hard to keep re-cycling the same arguments (besides, it makes me cranky to keep saying the same thng over and over and, you know. Over. Blame it on my kids.)

I can't excerpt from Hanson. The narrative is too tight. Just read it.

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Spirituality and hockey

Sept. 23 - It's a cleverly disguised PR campaign, I tell you! A lot of people are still mad over last season's lockout and going "meh" over the new season, so perennial boring-campaign organizer Martha Burk has been retained to build the interest in hockey by another stupid whine (Burk shifts energies from Augusta to NHL ads) against the new NHL ad claiming it is - you guessed it - "offensive on many levels." (She's probably not referring to the cost of tickets.)

The response from an NHL spokeswoman is wonderful:

"This ad shows no disrespect for women," [Bernadette] Mansur told The CP. "On the contrary, the woman is the spiritual and physical trainer for the 'Warrior' and is his mentor."
Ah, that Canadian sense of humour. There may be a spiritual level to rock'em sock'em hockey, and the distinct sound of a well-placed body check is admittedly music to the ears, but I'll wait for Don Cherry's opinion on the ad before I'll let Martha Burk tell me what offends.

There is some merit to the claim of "mentor," though. Tacitus wrote that the women in Germanic tribes urged the men to battle, baring their breasts and reminding them that their children would be enslaved if they lost to the Romans.

Um, maybe I should stop while I'm ahead. And, you know, "Go Leafs!"

(Via Kathryn Lopez at the Corner.)

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Our crazy Uncle Paul

Sept. 23 - Crazy Paul's billion dollar shell game: maybe Canadians pay closer attention to US matters than Canadian ones in order to stay sane!

Posted by Debbye at 05:13 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

New Orleans flooded again

Sept. 23 - This was news I didn't expect to awaken to: the future of New Orleans and, worse, actually contemplating that rebuilding it might not be the best course, received another blow today with a new breach in the levee (Texas Braces for Catastrophe; New Orleans Flooding Again.)

I've always had a pet theory that inviting the newly-American inhabitants of the city to join us in fighting the British - and beating the Recoats soundly - brought New Orleans and Louisiana securely into the American fabric and reduced the abandonment many felt when Napoleon sold them along with the territory. We cannot think of Andrew Jackson without remembering Jean Lafite, and the Battle of New Orleans is remembered with a glory which is scarcely diminished even when we consider that it took place after a treaty had been signed.

Abandoning New Orleans is literally a case of abandoning an important part of our heritage and an integral part of the history of extending our borders from sea to sea.

And then there's the personal. So many of us have wonderful memories of the times we visited there (and sometimes the memories are the more cherished because we can't exactly remember!) furthering the dilemma beyond logic and reason. The cuisine. The music. The people. The mystique. New Orleans is part of the American soul in ways I can feel more than articulate.

I can't even imagine how those who call New Orleans home are feeling today, but maybe it is time to bite the bullet and make some hard calls. It is going to hurt. Deeply. Even thinking about it hurts. Part of me knows that with time we'll do what we've always done: cling to that part of the American spirit that has always held that a new future means a better future, but for now I thinks its permissible to grieve.

18:25 - The news out of New Orleans is getting worse. Thank God the city stayed closed, but spare a thought for the troops there.

Glad to see the President sensibly cancelled his trip to the region. People on the ground there have enough to contend with and don't need the security nightmare.

I finally received word that my Texas friends are safely out of Rita's path. I have to go to work tonight (although I really don't want to leave the storm watch) and I'll be holding my breath even though I know on most levels that we'll weather it.

I can't help thinking that the destruction wrought by the hurricanes have brought us together again. I don't mean the politicians and other Important People but just us, the normal, everyday American whom everyone takes for granted. The press was all a-twitter at the lapses at every level of government but for me, it just reinforced the soundness of the joke "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

Say a prayer for Texas. We owe them: the people of Houston electrified the nation when they strode in with a "we can help" attitude and gave refuge to thousands of NO Katrina survivors (and, more importantly, challenged other cities to do the same) and rekindled belief in something that we've seen too rarely in these modern times: neighbourly actions. Southern hospitality and Christian charity have combined to remind us (again) that we are a decent, good people and that we can help and stand by one another.

Posted by Debbye at 04:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Fraud in Canada's health care system

Sept. 23 - News that billing fraud is widespread in Canada's health care system isn't exactly unexpected (Health fraud rampant) but it is dismaying to see it confirmed:

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. - Canada's health care system is rife with fraud that costs the public and private sectors an estimated $3-billion to $10-billion a year, the country's first-ever survey of health fraud indicates.

"It's a big problem. It's a multi-billion-dollar problem and that's a big drain on the health care system," said Michael Chettleburgh of Fraudbox Inc., which did the survey for the Canadian Health Care Anti-Fraud Association.


Speakers at the anti-fraud association's annual conference told about fraudulent billings by pharmacists, dentists and other health care professionals, as well as the growing problem of people stealing caregivers' identities to illicitly claim payments.

The article notes that the problem isn't limited to Canada, but the realization that the cracks in the taxpayer-funded health care system here are worsened by the greed of some health care professionals further erodes public faith those in the health sector have a calling to cure and heal.

The Canadian Health Care Anti-Fraud Association page doesn't have the report on its page yet but the results of the survey are available in .pdf here at the Fraudbox Inc. site.

(Via Neale News)

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September 22, 2005

The Great Canadian Blog Survey

Sept. 22 - I knew I was forgetting something important. I'm a lot late with this, but if you haven't taken the The Great Canadian Blog Survey there's still time!

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Happy birthday, Frodo and Bilbo

Sept. 22 - Today is the birthday of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins (by S.R., at least) and it may seem silly (and probably is) to mark the birthdays of fictional characters but two of the most important works during the 60's were Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein.

Yeah, I know somebody's thinking What about Catcher in the Rye and Future Shock and some of the more intellectual books but I ask you, how many times did you re-read Salinger and Toffler and how many times did you re-read Tolkien and Heinlein? which did you re-read most recently? and, most importantly, which brought you joy?

So I'm toasting those worthy hobbits and, as I do every year, thanking them for giving us the Red Book for our birthday present.

(Have no fear, I'm not totally wacko. I hardly even considered the idea of hunting for my "Frodo Lives" button.)

Alas, I'm still struggling through The Fountainhead. And I seriously should have gotten to sleep some hours ago.

Prayers go out to those in Rita's path and for those in our military and the National Guard who are now at risk. It would be responsible for me to be irked at those surfing as the storm approaches but I can't deny that part of me which envies them. (Just wait too long before you leave, okay?)

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Sept. 22 - Glen Reynolds is reporting on the initiative to Cut the fat in order to pay the huge costs of Katrina's devastation, and it struck me that this easily has Canadian applications.

Cut the pork to improve the health care system.
Cut the pork to upgrade the military.
Cut the pork to reduce gas taxes.
Cut the pork to reduce taxes period.
Cut the pork to ______________ (your project.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I hate working nights ...

Sept. 22 - because I miss really exciting things like Captain Ed attending a conference in Toronto.

(Link via modest attendee Newsbeat1.)

19:50 - Right Girl has more details on the event including a link to a webcast at The Shotgun.

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Greg Weston on Coffin's sentence

Sept. 22 - Greg Weston writes on the incredibly harsh sentence given to the first convicted participant in Adscam (from Coffin nails Liberals?):

OTTAWA -- The Quebec judge who sentenced one of the AdScam con men to a wrist-slapping for stealing $1.5 million has certainly sent a clear message to all who would even consider ripping off the government.

In the immortal shrug of Jean Chretien: "So, maybe a few million was stolen."

For 15 counts of deliberate and systematic fraud, Montreal advertising executive Paul Coffin was sentenced this week to two years less a day "to be served in the community."

Translated, he has to be home by 9 p.m. weeknights, and lecture university students on "business ethics."

Coffin's pitch to so many young minds will no doubt include horror stories about how his utter lack of business ethics condemned him to a miserable life of big boats, fast cars, fancy houses and expensive wines.

I'm not surprised, but nonetheless I feel ashamed for this fine country.

Paul Coffin betrayed the people he was supposed to serve. He betrayed every single Canadian but the court has ruled that it's no big deal.

Does the word honour even have meaning these days? If it doesn't, and I am becoming increasingly certain that it does not, then dishonour too seemingly has no meaning. And that is the government we're stuck with.

13:57 Sleep can wait; Darcy lends some much needed perspective into Coffin's gentle treatment. Now I'm getting mad again.

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"Don't get stuck on stupid"

Sept. 22 - I heard Lt. Gen. Honore's (aka Ragin Cajun) now famous response last night on Fox just before I left for work. My first thought was of the jealousy that must be emanating from political officials everywhere (and that includes Don Rumsfeld, who to the best of my knowledge never used the "S" word) and my second thought was that this news conference highlights again how little the news media understand not only military matters but also those who lead the troops.

My third thought was that my kids (or anyone's kids) could have warned 'em that adults will not easily tolerate the same question a second - much less a third - time, and a general is The Adult in a room of adults.

The full impact of his words, however, contain a sharper rebuke (full transcript at Radio Blogger) than "being stuck on stupid." Seems that some in the news media just wouldn't accept their mission no matter how many times it was laid out for them and how urgent the matter was:

... You are carrying the message, okay?

... And we understand that there's a problem in getting communications out. That's where we need your help. But let's not confuse the questions with the answers.

... Let's not get stuck on the last storm. You're asking last storm questions for people who are concerned about the future storm. Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters. We are moving forward. And don't confuse the people please. You are part of the public message. So help us get the message straight. And if you don't understand, maybe you'll confuse it to the people. That's why we like follow-up questions. But right now, it's the convention center, and move on.

Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...

Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months. [Emphasis added]

The news media's help is urgently needed to get information to those who need assistance evacuating New Orleans. The message is simple and clear-cut. Heck, a 50's era movie would have shown reporters racing to the phones and the presses rolling.

It's not the first time that I've watched a press conference and, as I listened to reporter's questions, wondered if they had even listened to the speaker. What is wrong with those members of the news media who are flustered when asked to simply report vital information in the public interest? Does doing so upset their itsy bitsy apple carts?

Too bad the general couldn't tell the offending reporter(s) "Drop down and give me 50" (you know he wanted to.)

The incident seems underplayed today in the news as Rita closes in, but it won't be forgotten. Milibloggers cheer and salute, and it's being adopted as a new motto. One Canadian has seen its logical extention to public life and has challenged politicians to stand up and tell the truth and a staffer for at least one California politician seems to be making it part of a re-election campaign.

There is a very good "reverse fisking" by Jack Yoest. He makes a lot of points I wish I had thought of but he got there first and does it well.

Generation Why saved me the trouble of digging up two vastly contrasting photos which goes to show that wisdom can be gained by learning from the mistakes of others (link via One Hand Clapping.)

(Other links via Open Post at Mudville Gazette.)

I haven't been able to locate a reference to the press conference at the Department of Defense Katrina news page. It may be just a time lag thingy (they don't seem to have any information about the military role in the evacuation, either) or maybe some public relations types are trying to figure out if they should ignore it, note it, or stand pat until they see which way the wind blows.

Note to DoD: that genie left the bottle and took the cork with her. It ain't rocket science.

19:31 - Here's the link in Dan's comment to a prior case of plain talk by the Ragin Cajun (scroll down to Sept. 5 entry.) Logic tells me that many members of the press are just itching to play "gotcha" with the good general, but they are insufficiently aware of how much we Americans (and many Canadians) treasure blunt honesty. It may have taken over 30 years to sink in, but finally, somewhere, Spiro T. Agnew is smiling.

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September 15, 2005

Elections in Germany

Sept. 15 - Peaktalk reports that EU Commissioner Nelie Kroes has endorsed Angela Merkel and discusses some of the implications of the results of the German elections for the EU.

I don't keep abreast of politics in Europe as much as I would wish, but it does seem that now that widespread activism against U.S. intervention in Iraq has died down and the EU Constitution has been rejected by the Netherlands and France that there is renewed focus by European nations on their issues and much talk of necessary economic reforms. I really can't make any predictions or informed comments but I tend to always think it a good thing when we survey our own backyards rather than those of our neighbours.

By the way, if you missed yesterday's Instapundit link to Pieter's German Election Primer be sure and read it. Very, very informative.

Posted by Debbye at 07:51 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Robert reports Reuters

Sept. 15 - Robert reports that the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists is asking al Qaeda the resistance in Iraq to investigate the killing of journalists by its forces.

Well, maybe not exactly. (He got me good with this one.)

The pity of it is, it should have been true. I'm just sayin'.

Posted by Debbye at 07:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Terrorism and world poverty

Sept. 15 - The U. N. continues to dither over defining terrorism and taking a firm stand for freedom. Iraq President Talabani had no difficulty in identifying it during his response (scroll down) to Bush's welcome speech to the White House on Tuesday:

We have also people who are in -- (inaudible) -- who are cooperating with Iraqi forces, and with American forces against terrorism. It is a good signal that our people start to understand that terrorism is the enemy of Iraqi people before becoming enemy of Americans. They are killing our civilians, or innocent children. They are destroying our mosques -- church, everywhere, regardless of what may happen to the people.
Yesterday's terror attacks in Baghdad continued the sad connection with the dead of Sept. 11 in New York, March 11 in Madrid, and July 7 in London: those whose only crime was going to work were murdered by the same merciless group as took the lives of those seeking employment. And what is employment if not a means to secure income to meet the necessities of yourself and your family?

Those who were killed because they have or seek jobs join the fallen of Beslan who were guilty of no more than attending school and the many victims of terror attacks who were guilty of no more than shopping at a local market, enjoying a vacation in Bali, or working in the tourist industries of Bali, Egypt and Kenya.

There is much truth to assertions that poverty plays a role in recruiting to terrorist organizations, but doesn't that beg the question as to why many terrorist actions seem to be intended to further poverty?

Member countries of the United Nations may be unwilling unable to define terrorism, but most of us can see that one of terrorism's goals is to defeat the hopes of people who want to better their lives.

I never thought it probable that the U.N., in which a majority of the member nations are dictatorships, would actually stand up for freedom and human rights anyway but it is interesting to note that terrorism is - properly, in my view - being framed as being a major obstacle to ending world poverty. It seems to me that the British proposal to the U.N. is aimed not only at the bureaucrats, rock stars and NGOs but also to everyday people, most of whom can connect dots and who rely on their common sense more than deconstructionist obfuscations.

Given today's attacks in Iraq in which at least 30 were killed, President Talabani's address to the U.N. in which he asked that the world help defeat terrorism resound all the more eloquently.

On a related note, for those who find it hard to believe that al Qaeda attacks people simply because they want to be free today's roadside bombing in Kabul and the timing of yesterday's attacks in Iraq as well as the threats leading up to last January's elections there should at least be suggestive:

The wave of bombings, which began shortly after dawn and continued until about 4 p.m., coincided with Iraqi lawmakers announcing the country's draft constitution was in its final form and would be sent to the United Nations for printing and distribution ahead of an Oct. 15 national referendum. Sunni Muslims, who form up the core of the insurgency, have vowed to defeat the basic law.
A final thought: the leadership of Iraq continues to impress me with their steadfast refusal to be goaded into a civil war. An old Civil Rights song urged we "keep our eyes on the prize / hold on" and today's Iraqis are exhibiting that kind of resolve. They are truly heroes.

Let Freedom Ring!

[FYI: President Bush's speech to the UNSC is here. British PM Tony Blair's address to the U.N. summit is here (with thanks to Robert for the latter link.) Also, President Bush is not impressed with the UNHRC and blasts them (link via Neale News.)]

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Scandal - again!

Sept. 15 - Release of the Gomery Report on Adscam is delayed. The report on the Toronto MFP scandel is out. The issue of accountability - or lack thereof - continues to dismay and anger us.

But scandal seems to be becoming Canada's chief industry, as Bill takes note of yet another Canadian boondoggle which is finally being subjected to scrutiny: Audit of $2.9 billion TPC program expands and (oh my aching head) Paul Martin's mentor, Maurice Strong who was also implicated in OFF, is involved. Again.

One of the findings of the Volcker Inquiry into the U.N. Oil For Food program was the extent to which corruption is institutionalized in the U.N. I fear that much the same may be said of Canada (and Ukraine) and that weeding it out will prove far more difficult than installing new leadership.

The extent of corruption in the civil service and the complacency of the news media are the ultimate impediments to honest government. It's that simple. Shame on the lot of them.

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Canadians troops injuried in Kabul

Sept. 15 - They hold the line so others can be free, and too often at a price: Two Canadian soldiers were injured in Kabul by a roadside bomb during a routine patrol in preparation for Sunday's elections. Details are sketchy, but thankfully the injuries are said to be minor.

This attack is yet another in a series intended to prevent consensual government in a Muslim nation and coincides with the terror attacks in Iraq yesterday and today.

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Not-so-strange bedfellows

Sept. 15 - Guess who Mugabe's bestest new friend is?

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September 14, 2005

Updating the links

Sept. 14 - I'm way overdue on updating the blogroll. The additions are Canadian based and I think the sharp increase of blogs up here since Adscam broke continues to defy the "passive Canadian" label.

The Wild Duck
Waking Up on Planet X
A Voice for Freedom
Cannuckistan Chronicles
Right Thinking People
Frost Hits the Rhubarb (new home for News Junkie Canada)
Silence No More (among other things, this is a valuable source on topics about fathers' rights - or the lack thereof. Examining those issues and legal inequities is long overdue.)

I've also added a terrific news source and a site that tracks recent Canadian blog posts:

Newsbeat1 and
The Canadian Bullet.

I've used Newsbeat1 extensively, and The Canadian Bullet is run by Jay Currie, whose new website address has also been updated on the roll.

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September 13, 2005

What Bush actually said

Sept. 13 - What CNN headlines: Bush: 'I take responsibility' for U.S. failures on Katrina.

What Bush said:

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government and to the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said during a joint news conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. (Emphasis added.)
This is as it should be, and the president is taking full responsibility for those things which are actually under federal control.

Had he intervened earlier and outside of the legal limits imposed on his office, of course, we'd probably be looking at the Dems building a case to impeach him.

In a bizarre twist, the one person who failed to take sufficient responsibility for saving lives is deeply concerned about the recovery of the dead: LA Gov. Kathleen Blanco is quoted in the same article criticizing "lack of urgency and lack of respect" recovering bodies of those who died.

I guess she really needs their votes for the next election.

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Umpires and judges

Sept. 14 - I feared that the John Roberts reference to baseball umpires was going to be a problem but I guess people really don't understand the game.

"Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules, they apply them," he said. "The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire."
He's right, so far as he goes, but the most contentious rulings umpires make are judgement calls - balls, strikes, safe, out, fair, foul, and even whether to invoke the Infield Fly Rule - and those are not to be questioned, discussed or argued over (unless you're eager for the hook.) Should the umpire get a rule wrong then the game can be played under protest (that must be stated before the next pitch) and, should the protest be upheld and it is found that the umpire's mistake affected the outcome adversely for the protester, the game can be replayed or picked up from the point of the protest if the game went enough innings to be considered a regulation game.

In other words, judges on appeal benches are more like the protest committee - but even the protest committee can't overturn judgement calls.

One more thing: the Official Baseball Rules are a lot longer than the U.S. Constitution.

A committee member (can't remember who) did pick up the baseball theme and pointed out that umpires don't make the rules but have to apply the definition of the strike zone as it is set out in the in the rules (see Definition of Terms which is Section 2.0 of the Official Baseball Rules and scroll down to "Strike.")

I really expected committee members and the gallery to burst out laughing at that point because an ongoing problem in MLB is precisely that far too many umpires are not giving the lower zone which is unfair to the pitcher.

Freakin' activist umpires.

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September 12, 2005

The Fountainhead

Sept. 12 - I haven't been totally inactive this past month. I finally began to read Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and it is one of the most disturbing books I've ever read.

No, I'm not going to offer any insightful commentary on it. I've already accepted that I will have to read it twice in order to fully absorb those characters that have left me gasping - especially the sinister Ellsworth Toohey.

Truth is, I've thrown it down a few times fully determined to relegate it back to the "Some Other Day List of Good Intentions," but when so many, like the inestimable Tuning Spork like Shaken, have declared that it had a profound influence on them, I know I have to finish it.

Next job is to figure out exactly why I find it so disturbing!

Sept. 13 - 23:21: Tuning Spork says he did not recommend it, and my apologies for the incorrect attribution. Of course, I still blame him (because that's what friends are for!) and Shaken.

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September 11, 2005

Four years and a breath away


(From Shattered, a series of stark photos by James Nachtwey.)

Sept. 11 - Americans were a different people four years ago, idly wondering how a plane could have wandered off course and hit one of the World Trade Towers. Within a few minutes, we were wiser.

My family will again make our annual pilgrimmage to the Toronto Consulate this afternoon. It's lonely; last year the flowers and memorials were few and the flag was flying at full mast, but the Canadian military college next door did have their flag at half-mast and that simple sign of respect reminded me that many Canadians do care and remember even as I felt abandoned by my own consulate.

So much has happened this past month. The Able Danger revelations, Katrina, and damning report on the administration of the Oil-for-Food program all lead to one inevitable conclusion: can a house so divided still stand?

If any good came out of Katrina, it was a reminder of the urgency of electing people who can make the hard calls, swallow their partisan pride, and get to work on the challenges at hand. The Democrats, who have long resented that a Republican was in the White House on Sept. 11, had a chance to prove their leadership mettle when Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent floods hit New Orleans and their failures served to remind me why I voted for George W.

The responsibilities of citizenship at the ballot box have been brought home in a way we never envisioned. The danger of overly partisan politics and whatever motives led Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco to stubbornly resist federal leadership brought so much pain and needless suffering to her constituency that words cannot express my contempt for those who are scrambling wildly to protect her but do bring new and frightening meaning to the phrase "miserable failure."

Bill Whittle's newest essay, Tribes, places the contrasts in sharp relief. Me? I don't know if I'm a sheep or a sheepdog, but suspect I'm a Molly Pitcher. Folks, there's more than enough work for willing hands.

A last but by no means the least tribute and prayers for the courageous crew and passengers of Flight 93. They saved America by reminding us of the great deeds that can come from previously nondescript citizens.

God Bless America. May we never forget the lessons we learned that day - not only about the enemy, but about ourselves.

16:44 - The flag at the Consulate was at half-mast this year, and I deeply thank the official who saw to what to me was an all important detail. Our flowers were the only ones left, but we went late in the afternoon and I am going to assume that previous tributes had been cleared away.

Posted by Debbye at 08:54 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Sept. 11 - Thank you all so much for your message of sympathy and support. I have been focused on personal things (no surprise) and owe you all letters, but want you to know how much they were appreciated even if I couldn't focus sufficiently to make adequate responses.

[I have no doubt that you all have been thinking of and praying for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans flood and don't need me to encourage you for that.]

Mark did require an angioplasty, and had a mild reaction after it but is firmly in charge of his life again (after he takes all his pills, that is!) and sticking to his diet faithfully. No, he hasn't eaten broccoli or yogurt yet and probably never will, but has discovered that he can live without chocolate and fried foods.

Fear is an odd thing. You do your best to present a cheerful, confident face and then when the imminent danger has passed it's Crash Alert! You're dry-gulched by cold sweats, nightmares, and everything that you put resolutely aside in order to do what it takes to get through a crisis.

I feel several cliches coming on, but then they are old saws precisely because they are so often true.

Again, thank you all for your support. August is not a month I will remember fondly, but maybe it's human nature to resent wake-up calls.

Posted by Debbye at 08:06 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack