After much prodding by other bloggers, I set this up for my own writings. The name is in honour of the two women that mentored me throughout my life on politics and intelligence issues, as well as being wonderful family members, now alas deceased. I hope to live up to their standards at this site.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Talibangelist puts out a hit.

So just over a week and a half ago I wrote a post dealing with religious zealotry and that I found it to be among the worst forms of zealotry going because of the additional aspect of believing one is a tool of divine will enabling the belief that anything done is by divine will and therefore automatically moral/holy, even if for anyone other than the "chosen" it is by all definitions the blackest evil. I also noted that the power of the religious right in America has grown to such an influence it is affecting scientific research and reporting at the highest levels of the American government. I even pointed out that having the religious and the political in one vehicle was extremely dangerous with a Dune paraphrase. So what do I get to underscore this fear of the power of the religious right in America and their attempts to gain strength in Canada? Pat Robertson calling for the assassination of a twice-elected head of State of a major middle power, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and the various reactions and non reactions to that statement within America.

Before I go any further, I want to make a few things clear. I know about Chavez's history, including his own failed coup attempt in 1992, and that he is not a perfect democrat as we in Canada would define the concept and has some faults along with his virtues. However, given he won two elections, survived a coup against him and a referendum in the past five years, and is looking likely to win a third election next year it would seem his citizens are not bothered by this. The last election was monitored by Jimmy Carter and other well respected international election observers and they said it was a legitimate election, so whatever else someone wants to say about the ideology/politics of Hugo Chavez he at least is a democratically elected President. As for his anti-American tone, well given that since the Bush Administration came to power it has done nothing but try to undermine him and his government both covertly (as in funding organizations that ended up being involved in the referendum and strike he faced in the last few years) and overtly (see the lack of denouncing of the coup and the apparent support/recognition Bush was appearing to give to the "new" government) that should come as no surprise/shock, or be seen as without any merit. Given the whole rationale behind Iraq these days at least is creating democracy to fight international terrorism on top of the long standing American doctrine to support democracies, having the image of a major American political player and supporter of this Administration and the party controlling both the Executive and Legislative branches calling for the assassination of duly elected Head of State can be seen as on the same level as when someone like Khomenei issued his fatwas against western leaders/figures. This undermines a foundation of American foreign policy, at least official policy. Policy which I would add is espoused both by the current Administration and also by previous Presidents going many decades back.

Now, before I hear someone trying to tell me Pat Robertson is no one of any real significance/power in America as I have already seen too many pundits in America doing, I will show why I believe that to be false. Let's look back at Pat Robertson's accomplishments of the last couple of decades. He founded the Christian Coalition, one of the foundations for the rise of the religious/evangelical right in American politics, as well as its loyalty to the GOP. In 1988 he ran for President seeking the GOP nomination and even did well in Iowa before being derailed by Pat Buchanon taking most of the base Robertson had hoped to command. Indeed, it was his loss that caused him to set up the Christian Coalition one can fairly argue. His 700 Club even now is believed to get one million viewers daily even after his many scandals and many intolerant and hateful statements, some examples of can be found here. After all, this man was one of those that said 9/11/01 was Gods retribution for things like abortion and gay rights in America. Not to mention nuking the American State department. Then there is his American Center for Law and Justice that he set up as a counter to the ACLU and to specifically aid in the obtaining of legal privileges and rights for religion in the States that it had never held before among other things. Indeed this group he founded and is still President of last I heard argues that the separation of church and state is superceded by the individual's right to worship freely as he/she chooses. One last point to consider to underscore his continued power. Last year late in the Presidential elections Pat Robertson publicly stated that Bush told him that there would be no casualties from the Iraq war before he launched it. The response from the Bush campaign to such a damaging statement was not to vigourously denounce it but to distance themselves from it as gingerly as they could for fear of alienating Robertson's supporters within the GOP political base. That more than anything else underscores the reality of his ongoing and current power and influence in America conservative political circles

So we know this is not a nobody, despite the attempts to describe him that way. Indeed, he was one of the religious leaders that after last November made it clear that he felt Bush owed him and his followers for their support in electing him, and that they expected payback. One example of that was the Terri Schiavo case where he flew back to sign the emergency legislation from his Crawford ranch, something he had done for no other legislation before or since. Indeed, it also illustrated the power of Robertson and so many of his followers and their allies within the religious right in the GOP Congress that they got this legislation through at all, let alone with the speed it received. Understand that this legislation was effectively trying to find an activist judge that would overrule the rulings of the judicial system and judge Greer's perfectly legal and following Florida law decisions as written by its legislature, and was doing so by empowering any judge that was willing to do so in this one special case. Now supposedly activist judges are one of the worst enemies of not just the American political right but the religious right themselves. Indeed, they go on about the dangers of activist judges more so than any other segment of the American population from all I have seen and heard. So we see the hypocrisy in action in this case showing that their mantra of the evils of activist judges is nothing more than a partisan piece of rhetoric despite all the attempts to cloak it as principle based.

This also though underscores again the still growing power of this movement in American politics and government these days. This is also why when someone with Pat Robertson's stature and influence within that community makes such a statement as he did on assassination is a very serious matter and a bright light warning of just how far down the road of religious zealotry American foreign policy as well as domestic has gone. What is even more serious though is the lukewarm denunciations of this statement by those in the American political right, that is when they have made a condemning statement at all on this. President Bush has said nothing publicly that I am aware of, all that has been said was from either Rumsfeld or the State department spokesperson. Yet whenever a prominent Islamic religious figure makes any sort of statement supporting assassinations of anyone it is considered to be required for all moderate Muslim leaders to bitterly denounce such statements otherwise they are assumed to be somehow supportive of them. So where is the outcry from the moderate Christian community denouncing is the strongest possible terms the anti-Christian nature of Robertson's remarks? Why as of this post aren't the Blogging Tories denouncing this example of support for religious terrorism like they do all the Islamic ones they find? Assassination is a tool of terror especially when it is being taken against those whose views or political actions one does not like after all.

So far I see mostly a deafening silence from those same voices that get all up in arms whenever an Islamic religious figure, and ones without the power and prominence within their societies as Robertson has I might add, preaches a violent message against those they disapprove of. Yet these voices have plenty of time to attack a gold star mother for speaking her mind and exercising the legal rights she has and that her son died in the name/service of? I see a huge double standard in the treatment of Christian extremism and Islamic extremism in play here, as I have seen in all too many other cases as well. As one example take the abortion provider killings and the many within the religious right that see it as legitimate self defence and not murder at all. Even bombing clinics is seen as moral, for they see them as equivalent to the gas chambers and other places of mass killing/murder. Yet we do not see these religious extremists being denounced as a threat to the health of a free and rule of law based society by this government and its supporters, indeed whenever this is raised by the opposition to the GOP it is decried as being anti-Faith in some manner more often than not. At most we see from the mainstream religious right in America is a pro forma tut tuting such wrongheaded actions, not exactly ringing denunciations of such methods. Religious extremism is a threat to free and open societies, whether that religion is Islam or Christianity. To truly fight this conflict we are in we cannot afford to pretend otherwise, otherwise not only do the Christian extremists become stronger and more dangerous within our societies but it also undercuts any notion that the fight against Islamic extremists is anything other than a Christian crusade, and that would only exponentially increase the active as well as passive support for such extremism within the over one billion strong Muslim community globally as being in defence of the persecution of their Faith.

I realize some may think I am taking Robertson and this latest wild statement of his far too seriously. I would obviously disagree. I see not simply his statement but the various reactions and lack of reactions to it to be some really alarming/serious aspects though. It shows yet again just how powerful Christian religious zealots and zealotry have become within the American political power structure, especially in the current governing party. It shows the threat posed by too many of the social conservatives in our societies, more so currently in America because they have a higher (double) percentage of fundamentalist (in this case defined as believing the Bible to be the literal word of God) Christians to get out to the ballot boxes. It also underscores that the battle against religious extremism and religious terrorism is not just with the Islamic extremists, it is also as much with the Christian extremists, and currently they are getting away with murder quite literally given their power of the American foreign policy at this time.

So ultimately despite all we have been told to the contrary we have been witnessing a de facto Christian crusade against Islamic religious extremists, and that is a very dangerous thing. When Robertson makes comments like this, he only underscores that for those Islamic extremists as well as providing confirmation of their own ideology and propaganda regarding American/western intentions and true motives and nature for them to use in recruiting more supporters/soldiers to their cause. The lack of the proper denunciations from other Christian leaders in America and the current Administration given its close connections to Robertson are also useful as corroboration for the perception/belief that this is a religious war being masked as a secular one by the Christians controlling the American government, thereby legitimizing the notion that there truly is a need to defend Islam from an attacker of the Faith. So this can also be reasonably seen as aiding the cause of those Islamic extremists, or as the American right and religious right like to claim of liberals/Democrats when they are critical of President Bush and his handling of Iraq, providing aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war except in this case one can actually make that argument credibly. Yet where are the voices calling Pat Robertson a traitor to America, anti-American, pro-terrorist, etc? (crickets chirping in background)

We live in very dangerous times when the most powerful nation on the planet is under the control of people that are religious zealots or pander to religious zealots to maintain their power. That someone like Pat Robertson is still respected/feared by any American political party, let alone the current governing one as he is, is a very bad sign, IMHO. One last irony to note. The 700 Club which this statement was made on is a show carried on the Disney Family Channel. Consider that and then consider the messages of hatred and things like praying for deaths being considered acceptable family viewing and something wholesome for the kids to see. Yet let a bare nipple show at a Superbowl game and it is a federal offence for the corruption and immorality it presents. The picture that presents in not one of a healthy society in my view, but rather one in serious danger of becoming theocratic in nature. Given the belief that the notion of separation of church and state is seen as not something the American Founding Fathers intended for despite all the evidence to the contrary from their writings, and that this view is gaining mainstream credibility over the last two decades, that is nowhere as far fetched as I suspect too many people may think/claim it is.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I am quite disgusted regarding the GG "Controversy"

I have been paying attention to the Separatist "controversy" that has suddenly erupted around Michaelle Jean, and I have been becoming increasingly more and more disturbed by what I have been witnessing. From what I can tell, this started when some hard core Quebecois Separatists made some unsupported allegations about her and her husband's "true" Separatist beliefs/sentiment. Regarding the spouse issue, so long as the spouse holds no official functions/powers, I do not have a problem with it. After all, in Quebec there are many married couples with one being an committed Federalist and the other strongly Separatist. So long as he is willing to not involve Rideau Hall itself in his political beliefs I have no problems with it. Indeed, it shows just how accepting we are of those views we disagree with. The issue her is Michaelle Jean herself, not her spouse. Using the spouse like this smacks to me of guilt by association.

Indeed, much of the case surrounding Michaelle Jean appears to be guilt by association, with an ambiguous comment or two thrown in to "corroborate" these allegations. Now using guilt by association as a primary basis to question someone's honour, integrity, and loyalties without anything from that person themselves to cause valid questioning is really a despicable act IMHO. From this we have been seeing in English Canada demands on how she voted in the 1995 Referendum. We see people demanding she formally declare her loyalty to Canada and that this would make all this go away. We even see demands that she be replaced as GG designate on the basis of these allegations. However, I see no reason to do any of this yet, seeing as nothing has come out to show her having any such views from her own words and/or actions that she is at all a Quebecois Separatist nor someone that would swear false oath. This looks and feels like the same kind of baseless smearing that I saw the SBVfT do regarding Kerry's medals and service in Vietnam, and with about as much supporting evidence to date.

Why do I say this one asks? Simple. If this woman were a genuine Separatist of any kind, given her prominence and influence in Quebec society for the last 10-15 years or so there should be some clear and unambiguous evidence of this. So far none appears to have appeared. What I have seen is speculation, assumption, and innuendo, and that being considered sufficient to call into question her personal integrity, honour, and loyalty to Canada is something I cannot agree with. Worse, it is something the Separatists can make good use of, which is why I suspect they started this in the first place. This is a GG choice that resonated well in Quebec and appears to have helped caused a favourable shift towards the primary Federalist party in Quebec, so it is not unreasonable to believe that over time her influence in tamping down Separatism in Quebec could have been a real threat to the Separatists. By calling her loyalty into question like this and then egging the more reactionary members of the Canadian political landscape to see this as a way to discredit the current PM's judgment/competence they may well achieve significant benefits to their cause. Jason Cherniak also makes a good case for this here as well. This type of smear attack if it is taken up in the ROC can easily be used to paint Canadians as being intolerant of Quebecois, anti-francophone, and even possibly a bit racist, and that this helps show why Quebecois need to be their own nation to protect their way of life and to be properly "masters in their own house". Why then are so many self described Canadian patriots then willing to aid the Separatists by engaging in these "questions" about Ms. Jean's loyalty, integrity, and honour? Aside from the Sponsorship Scandal the Separatists haven't much fuel to feed the fire of their cause lately from the federal side of things. Trashing a popular Quebecois and treating her like some sort of guilty until proven innocent second class citizen as is happening now certainly can be made to do exactly that, and if Martin doesn't support her to the hilt or worse dumps her on the basis of what is currently out there they can use that to show the treacherous nature of the federalists, a win either way for the Separatists.

There is plenty of cause for the Separatists to want to derail this nomination. There is also benefits to having it derailed in a manner which allows those Separatists to use it to their advantage with those they are trying to win over to their cause. This seems perfectly obvious to me. So why are so many of the self described Canadian patriots being this dense? Is it because they are too ignorant of the relevant issues and contexts, or is it out of some partisanship so as to use this to score points on the PM regardless of the potential repercussions of doing so in this manner. It is also to my mind a particularly cheap and demeaning type of character attack against a GG candidate that until this appeared to be unassailable without looking too partisan or some other negative quality. Do we live in a society where unsupported allegations must be answered or otherwise the assumption is that someone is guilty of said allegation? Come back to me when you have clear cut evidence of this woman's previous duplicity and/or Quebecois Separatist beliefs from her own mouth in context or through any political action she has taken to support that cause. Until then I see this as nothing more than smearing by use of ambiguous statements without context and guilt by association, and I would still like to believe that in Canada you need more before you are presumed anything other than innocent.

Look, try to understand what I am saying here and stop looking at it from a partisan POV if you are. All I am saying is why and how is it truly reasonable to make the assumptions that have been made on the "evidence" presented to date regarding her being any kind of Quebecois Sovereignist, especially without anything resembling true clearcut and even moderately convincing evidence? Not simply these assumptions, not through guilt by association, not through contextually murky ambiguous statements, but simple unambiguous evidence from her own words and /or actions previously in her life. Otherwise this is nothing but a witch hunt using extremely circumstantial as well as ambiguous evidence at the very best. If this real evidence is there and presented, then some of these (the more civil/sensible) questions are reasonable to require some answer from her, because then there is some reasonable basis to question whether that she herself has these beliefs. All I am wanting is to wait and see if such actually turns up before deciding to "run her out of town" at it seems some would do already. This leaping to conclusions so many people like doing, and this is true of all political stripes, is one of the worst aspects of human nature. It also leads to some of our more negative behaviour and sins from what I have seen in life. Why is it so unreasonable to assume someone is innocent until proven guilty, or in this case have some reasonable clear evidence at the least first before questioning her loyalty, integrity, and honour? This kind of smear job does nothing but harm to our political environment, and I don't think too much of those that chose to participate in such. Oh yes, just for those that question how any good could come from someone chosen that may have once held Separatist views or at the minimum is married to someone with such beliefs even if they do not, I really liked this comment I found at Jason Cherniak's.

Bottom line though, until people have some REAL proof that she holds Separatist beliefs it is inappropriate to be demanding that she state so publicly. I wonder how some of these voices would feel if the GG pick was an Albertan and it was declared they had to publicly affirm their loyalty to Canada because they were friends with some Alberta Separatists, and had made a couple of comments that could be seen as possible support for such, despite no actual clear evidence of such being presented nor any evidence that their word/honour/integrity was at all questionable. Remember, one of the underlying assumptions is that if she is a Separatist then she is willing to swear oath falsely when sworn in as GG. Exactly what basis is there to question her integrity and honour been presented? I haven't seen anything yet, and I would think that this assumption is something all Canadians should enjoy until there is evidence to the contrary presented.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Grewal/Harper still have to answer for their lies to Canadians

Last night the RCMP released a statement that said they were closing the investigation into any criminal charges coming from the contents of the Grewal recordings turned over to them. That neither Grewal nor Murphy and Dosanjh committed any criminal acts on these recordings, nor did Grewal apparently hand the RCMP edited/altered recordings. That the Liberals were not breaking the law and trying to buy MP votes, and that Grewal was not trying to sell his vote. This is what the RCMP were dealing with.

However, that is not what was the basis for the Grewal/Harper/CPC edited recordings fraud/scandal. No, that was something else again, and it is important that the two matters not be conflated, because the CPC, Harper, and Grewal still have to answer for their bearing of false witness to all Canadians through the use of faked evidence when they claimed the recordings proved the Liberals were willing to sell Senate seats for votes when they clearly were not. This was after all the original charge made by Grewal and supported by Harper and the CPC from May 18 05 onwards to the second week of June when it was clearly demonstrated that their recordings were heavily edited so as to make that allegation appear truthful. Indeed, that allegation was the heart of the scandal and the focus of the questions regarding these recordings in Question Period during the two weeks between the May 18 05 release and the May 31 05 edited release.

Whether the RCMP had been handed over the full recordings was always irrelevant to the actions taken by the CPC when they released the edited recordings on Grewal's website on May 31 05 and then for the next two days vouched for the recordings completeness, accuracy, and integrity. That any complaints by the Liberals of missing material and editing was totally without merit and nothing more than a smokescreen attempt to dodge answering why they were willing to sell Senate seats according to the CPC. That the focus on the Senate seat allegation by the CPC for the two to three week period when it was a false allegation, and one Grewal HAD to know was false since he was in the meetings the recordings were made from, was never supported by the facts. It is also an allegation that should have been understood to be false once the CPC had the recordings for twelve days before the May 31 05 release by the CPC and Harper. Yet they still released the edited May 31 05 recordings and continued the attack on a false allegation using falsified evidence to make it appear like they were telling the truth.

This leaves some rather important questions still needing answers. We know that Grewal knew he was lying from the outset, and we know this from his own recordings once the final "full" release came out. However, when did the CPC get the full recordings, when did they examine them, and why did they continue with the lie about Senate seat selling once they had the full recordings which clearly showed otherwise? Who did the editing, was it entirely Grewal and therefore he lied to his party and leader and placed them in the position of supporting a lie? Was it someone(s) within the CPC, and if so who within the CPC knew about it and when did they know it? After the final release of the recordings where it was clear the May 31 05 release was edited and that the Senate seat selling allegation never had any merit to it, why was it never retracted by the CPC and Harper, and why have they to this day refused to even acknowledge that they tried to pass off a heavily edited recording as accurate to "prove" that their claims of Senate seat selling was truthful when it clearly was not? Was this solely the act of a renegade member of the CPC caucus, or was this in collusion with the CPC leadership? The actions, or rather lack of actions taken against Grewal for this fraud and placing the CPC in the center of this fraud implies that he was not acting alone, that he had CPC support, quite possibly including Harper. Otherwise, he should have been gone long before now.

So we are still left with the questions as to who edited these recordings, when did the CPC leadership and Harper know they had been edited, and when did they find out that the Senate seat selling allegation against the Liberals and PMO specifically never had any merit to them. Why once this fraud was discovered and that the CPC had been lying to Canadians about the Senate seat selling allegation form the outset has the CPC completely refused to accept any responsibility for this act of deception against all Canadians? How can a man that supposedly has the personal honesty Harper is reputed to have be a party to such a lie, and once exposed to the reality that he had been spreading an unsupported lie why has he not come forward and explained himself to Canadians? Not to mention how a party that claims to be "clean cut" and full of integrity and would bring back ethics and principle to government was party to this deception, and once the deception was exposed refused to accept responsibility and take the appropriate measures against those that caused the CPC to besmirch it's good name and credibility with this fraud? The RCMP investigation does nothing to answer these questions, nor to diminish their importance and necessity for them to be answered before this matter is allowed to pass.

No, the Grewal/Harper/CPC scandal of lying to Canadians about a serious criminal allegation using falsified evidence is still as real as ever. Do not let this RCMP closure of the investigation of the contents in the recordings given to them and the integrity of the recordings given to them be conflated with what the CPC did on Grewal's website, the lies about Senate seat selling, and their use of falsified evidence to make that allegation appear truthful, and their refusal to explain themselves once they were caught in this lie and using false evidence to support this lie. That is still as serious an issue and unanswered for as it was prior to this RCMP report.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

One of my worst fears of my lifetime

This is an absolutely excellent post by Shakespeare's Sister on why I fear and distrust the socon movement in the USA and to a lesser extent the one in Canada. I should mention that the only reason I am less fearful of the Canadian socon movement is that I have yet to see any similar large political power bloc formed by these people in this country, unlike in America within the GOP. My concerns are that reason, rationality, and most importantly free thought are in serious danger by this movement, and this piece by SS captures that very well indeed.

There is all too often this belief that faith is a good thing no matter what, nor to what degree it is felt. Well one of the things I have always found to be dangerous is zealotry, and unfortunately religious zealotry tends to be among the worst types of all. When the mentality is that anyone that does not think the way you do is automatically a threat to be destroyed before it destroys you/your belief, you create a world totally hostile to the concept of diversity of opinion, indeed thought itself. One of the things that makes religious zealotry so particularly dangerous is the precept of some divine will be it perfect or fallible is still moving through you and therefore everything you do in it's service is by definition acceptable/moral/holy, even if it were done by anyone not of the "true faith" it would be the blackest evil.

When this mentality starts dictating what is scientific and what is not, we are all in for some serious trouble. We see this happening in the highest offices of power in our American neighbour, and whether most Canadians want to openly admit it or not it really worries us. After all, whether we Canadians like it or not American major events and movements inevitably have an impact on our own society, be it in favour or in opposition of that movement/event. Indeed, one can make a very good argument that the current CPC and it's leadership take much of their inspiration from watching their American brethren, although thankfully they have a much smaller base within our population than is the case for Americans and thus far less success, at least to date.

I value the right to think and say what I believe to be true, what I think about something, and even to be wrong about something and only have to worry about looking foolish for being so instead of some more serious repercussion. I think this is true of much of the rest of the blogging community, whatever their political affiliations. We all need to recognize the threat the socons represent to our society and the way in which we live together, after all, we have the example of our American neighbour to show just what the end goals of such thinking in a culture like ours is. It is to destroy secularism and install the Christian version of the Taliban, at least in terms of the blending of religion and State and regulating personal conduct as was done under the Taliban, and use a religious template for that conduct. So I tend to refer to them as Talibangelists.

My problem is not with Faith, I feel I need to make that clear. What my problem is Faith being used as the means by which we govern ourselves instead of the tried and true methods of secular governance that has worked so well for both NA countries since their respective foundings. To paraphrase a quote from Dune, when religion and politics ride in the same cart, the whirlwind follows right behind it. The history of such has not been a good one, not if one believes in the essential dignity and worth of each human soul, and as a means of governance the abuse it lends itself to tends to develop rapidly and to great excess. I have no problems with converting people one person at a time to a given Faith, it is the use of the State to do so that terrifies me. Faith is ultimately something each individual must come to terms with in their own minds/souls, it cannot be forcibly be instilled through fear of punishment, not and be true faith, anyway. Since only true faith is acceptible/pleasing/desired to God whatever His/Her/Their name(s) are, it always defeats the point. All it does is bring misery in its wake, not enlightment and spiritual growth.

Oh yes, before someone tries the secularism is just another religion argument, remember this: Secularism is a direct outgrowth of reason, rationality, and objective observation and verification. We use the laws that have worked best for us, we modify those laws as new technologies and cultural/social imperatives require. We do that and see whether the results are worth the cost in enforcement of said laws. Secularism is what also allows for freedom of worship, because it makes the State a neutral party in the spread of a religious Faith, giving no preference to one over another. Secularism is what allows so many different Faiths to coexist in our societies with as little friction as there is. Why would anyone want to throw that away? So trying to argue that secularism is just another religion/Faith is dishonest, and it is wrong.

I close this post with this thought. Why is it that those that most loudly proclaim their Faith and it's inherent superiority over all others tend to be the ones that most want the State to enforce it's edicts? If their faith in their Faith was truly strong/deep/genuine wouldn't one then accept that souls can only be saved one at a time and with their willing desire, and not by attempting to force it upon a soul that is not willing/able to hear the Word? I truly worry for us all given what is happening on this continent, and indeed throughout various parts of the world in this regard. We cannot afford to allow the Endarkenment, as some have termed it, to take hold. Especially not in this new age of information technology and the enhancement factor for all other sciences that computer technologies and the integration of data formats allow. We are at the potentials of a true golden age, or a truly hellish outcome for humanity. I chose to work/fight for the former, and not the latter unlike those that want oto believe we live in "the end times". I remember hearing that thirty years ago and that the end was only a few years away/ Well several decades later and we are all still here on the planet, unless the Rapture went completely unnoticed, that is...(yes, last sentence is on the sarcastic side)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

An interesting letter to Mr. Harper from a fellow conservative

I'm reading around the blogs in the blogosphere when I encountered this post from the Conservative Hipster. Now, while I do not share his political views and preferences, I did find it to have much merit to it. I would recommend it to Mr. Harper as well, not that he would, nor frankly should take advice from me given my deep distrust and concerns regarding his party. However, that all being said, if one reads only from where the Conservative Hipster says, "Lead, Mr. Harper" onwards, it is hard for any honest political observer/student of any stripe to dispute the wisdom in those last few paragraphs of this post.

The problem though I think is that this advice even if it were to be followed is several months too late now. Given the visibility of Angry Mr. Harper in the Spring, the changeable Mr. Harper on the budget and other policies the Liberals had put forward, and finally the lying Mr. Harper when he accused the Liberals and Paul Martin of selling Senate seats for MP votes and used fake evidence to corroborate said accusation, it would be all too easy to shred any favourable image/vision Mr. Harper puts forward. At least until and unless he is able to explain his previous actions, which I think he would be reluctant to do, especially on the Grewal deception. Not to mention the crusade he made out of SSM, helping to brand the CPC as a one issue party to some extent, and certainly creating the impression that the CPC is a socially conservative dominated/controlled party.

No, while I think the advice the Conservative Hipster is providing is sound and valid advice, I think it comes too late to be effective even if immediately adopted by Mr. Harper. Still, it is nice to read a conservative poster that demonstrates a real understanding of the world of politics instead of more of this crying about the evil Liberal media conspiracy crap I keep running across from all too many online Conservatives, hence why I take note of it. Pity he seems to belong to a tiny minority, but who knows, that could change over time.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Bob Novak is losing his No Ethics Zone

Last December one of the regular contributors at The Washington Monthly did a rather decent overview of Bob Novak's professional life, and demonstrated how he has been able to effectively survive scandals that would have destroyed any other journalist/pundit. Indeed, it also explained why he appeared able to even dictate the terms by which he would not be questioned regarding his role in the outing of a covert operative, as well as why he was able to prevent his colleagues on both CrossFire and The Capitol Gang from raising the topic as well. I thought I would share this with my fellow Canadians who might not have been aware of this information. You can find the article here.

I raise this point in the wake of the walkoff on CNN's Strategy Session part of Inside Politics Thursday Aug 4 05. It appeared then and still to this moment as a tactical walkoff, because the host made clear at the end of the segment that he had been planning on asking Novak about the CIA leak investigation, but since he had left that was not possible. Now, that was an unusual statement for the host to have made given previous diligent efforts to protect Novak from any questions regarding that matter at CNN. Indeed, over the last few weeks he has been receiving more direct and pointed comments and questions from his colleagues than he ever has previously, and it seems to be getting to him. He has also lost his two main TV venues to push his agenda and message, Crossfire and Capitol Gang. I suspect he is becoming increasingly fearful of this time of actually facing consequences for his actions in the Plame outing, unlike any of his previous scandals, including the use of a Soviet spy to trash Janet Reno with back in the 90s. There is also this to consider. If he is not in jail for contempt, it can only mean he has testified in front of Fitzgerald's grand jury, yet no one has a clue as to what his testimony is. He claims he is under legal restrictions from talking about it, but unless he is a focus/target for criminal charges from this grand jury that holds no water. Else Matthew Cooper would not have been able to report on his testimony as he did in Time magazine the other week. So I am wondering if he is afraid of being charged and hung out to dry for this one the one hand, and is terrified of the retribution he may suffer from the Right in America if he is seen as betraying the Bush Administration and the GOP hold on power in America. Without his sources in the GOP in America this man has nothing to bring to the table, so the loss of such access would be the kiss of death for his career, or rather what remains of it to this point

Either way though he is apparently starting to really feel the pressures of the matter, and for that I am pleased. It has long irritated me that this man has managed for so long as a rumour monger and gossip, yet passed himself off as a journalist to enhance credibility yet then claims he is but a lowly pundit when someone tries to hold him accountable for the damage resulting from his use of incorrect and indeed slanderous material. He has managed to defer his just rewards for many years, and now it appears they are finally catching up with him and forcing him out of his self designed and contained No Ethics Zone.

Speaking of the Rev Fred Phelps

I find it interesting that in the past week I have encountered the Rev Phelps on two different matters, the first one as an example of the concerns surrounding the Emery prosecution/extradition. That was ok, because it simply was making the point that the way Mr. Emery is being sought under American laws by American law enforcement without any Canadian charges being laid or for that matter the offence being prosecuted in Canada for many years now. Then I ran across this and became quite nauseated indeed. This so called man of God and patriotic American seems to think that it is a good idea to celebrate the death of American soldiers in Iraq as God's punishment for allowing homosexuality in America. That is a mentality that should be offensive to all true people of faith, yet this man is still regarded by many on the Right in both America and Canada as a hero. Anyone that buys into this kind of zealotry is no better, indeed is the soul brother/sister of the Islamic terrorists like Osama bin Laden.

It is too bad we have the Talebangelists in North America trying to do here with Christianity what Osama and company are trying to do with Islam in the ME. It is up to all of us that value the rule of law, tolerance of diversity, and the notion that all are equal before the law to fight this mentality at every turn from gaining power. In America that battle is to retake control of the government, and thankfully it seems to be gaining some strength taking the Ohio election last Tuesday as one example. In Canada we must prevent the CPC from taking power until they deal with their own religious extremists and reduce their power within the party to what a fringe element should properly have instead of the near control that they currently have.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The outing of a covert asset for political purposes

For two years now there has been a major perversion of not just American national security but global security that has gone unanswered, specifically who in the Bush WH outed Valerie Plame, and why did they do so. To understand why this is a big deal, it is important to understand that Mrs. Wilson's job at the CIA was as an operative involved in the monitoring of WMD proliferation, including nuclear proliferation. She worked for a cover business, which is also a major covert asset and one in some ways even more difficult and costly to create than a covert agent. Worse, it is extremely unlikely that Mrs. Wilson was the only CIA operative who had that business as their cover. This cover business was directly involved in the global monitoring of dangerous weapons technology proliferation, which in these times of stateless terrorist actors is arguably the single most important security issue of our times.

Imagine for a moment how dangerous suicide attackers would be if instead of explosives they had nerve gas to use in a subway bombing. Or some form of virulent bioweapon that some State had cooked up and then lost control over (control as in ownership that is) and started using those weapons instead of conventional explosives. These types of attacks would be frightening enough as it is, seeing as these are weapons of mass death as well as not to put too fine a point on it also perfect weapons to instill terror as well. This would make acquisition of such capabilities a top priority for many of these terrorist groups. Now that would be bad enough. Consider though the effect a nuclear terrorist attack would likely have on the country that suffered it. The terror generated would be extreme, the damage both immediate and long term to the targeted area would remind everyone of the horror/terror for years thereby being a very useful long term terror weapon all by itself. For a society that is governed by rule of law and civil rights though it would also almost certainly cause an immediate outcry by the public to make sure such never happens again, and no matter the extreme means needed to do so. So for a terrorist group that wants to destroy the rule of law and freedoms most representative democracies have as core values a nuclear terrorist attack would be ideal. After all, the only people that can change a society's laws and customs are those within that society, and one of the main points of terrorism is to make the population so fearful that they will embrace changes they would otherwise never tolerate.

So coming back to Mrs Wilson we see someone whose career and indeed her very life is devoted to preventing such an occurrence from ever happening. One would have thought this would be regarded non-partisanly as something to be respected, and the outing of such an asset to be a heinous crime, regardless of your political leanings. Sadly, that has not been the case.

What really galls me though about this case is that to protect a dubious and already shaky argument regarding Saddam's nuclear capabilities (indeed so shaky that within Days of Wilson's op-ed in the NYT the now infamous sixteen words were repudiated from the 2003 SOTU) a real long term valuable asset in protecting America and the world generally from nuclear threats was destroyed. The irony in this is as profound as it is sickening.

Understand something. When Plame was outed and Brewster Jennings and associates was also outed it did not just place Mrs. Wilson and her own family in jeopardy. Every person that worked for BJ&a came under suspicion of being CIA, as well as identifying all the CIA assets that did work with this business. Every person that ever did business with BJ&a becomes suspected of either being CIA or being a CIA source, and that means every foreign national that falls into that category suddenly came under suspicion by their own governments of either being CIA or CIA sources. That this could easily have led to their imprisonment, torture, and even deaths depending on which country we are talking about is clear. That this ripple effect would be widespread and profound is also brutally clear, even if we do not know at this time what the damage assessment of this act is.

However, one of the byproducts of this event is to make it harder for covert agents to develop sources, because if they cannot feel they can trust that their identities will be protected at all costs then why take the chance? Another of the byproducts is that it gives foreign agencies a means to examine the ways covert businesses are established by the CIA, revealing potentially methods as well as the sources. This is something NO intelligence agency ever wants to have happen. As well, we need to remember that one of the most fundamental criticisms of the American intelligence services in the post 9/11/01 world is the need for human assets. This action has made the recruitment and placement of such assets ever so much harder. That is yet another way in which this one outing has done fundamental and long term damage to the security interests of America.

So this establishes that there was significant damage done by the Plame outing, whether we know the specifics or not. Indeed, this is the worst espionage outing I have seen in at least two decades that was not the result of a mole operating within the American intelligence establishment. However, this outing was the direct result of someone(s) in the Bush WH feeding information to friendly reporters to attack the credibility of Joe Wilson by any means possible, including the suggestion that he went on this trip for his wife and not the CIA in response to an inquiry by the office of the VP. For one thing how ethical and moral is it to attack a critic by doing so through his spouse/family? That is something you see mobsters do, and not something governments are supposed to be embracing/endorsing. For another, did it matter who initiated the trip more than what the results of that trip were? Of course not. For whatever reasons, this was a smear job pure and simple, and the fact it has dragged on this long without actions taken within the Bush WH make it clear that security issues are secondary to political issues for this WH. That is a dangerous mentality for any government, it is especially frightening to see in the sole superpower.

At this point we know that Rove violated his nondisclosure agreement, yet instead of having clearances revoked he is now deputy WH Chief of Staff. He is responsible for coordinating the Homeland Security and NSA committees. In that position the amount of truly sensitive information he routinely sees is staggering. Worse, he is clearly involved in the leak, if not necessarily the originating source, yet despite that involvement President Bush refuses to take action against a known leaker despite his many pledges to do just that. Not to mention that either Rove broke a Presidential order when he did not come forward and identify his role in this matter to President Bush, he did come forward and Bush chose to continue to claim he did not know, or Bush was in on this outing from its outset. No matter which explanation turns out to be the case, they all are proof of fundamental deception within this WH on vital national security issues. That is not something that is supposed to be excusable no matter who does so and what party they belong to. This is supposed to be a non-partisan applies to everyone environment, yet clearly this is not the case in this Administration and GOP Congress.

Bottom line? We see an Administration that places it's own political survival/health over the national security interests of the USA, indeed the world. We see an Administration that came to office declaring a higher standard than it's predecessor for itself and its employees. Yet now they will only take action if someone is charged/convicted of a criminal offence??? For one thing no WH could keep an employee that is charged/convicted of any serious crime regardless of preference, it simply is not allowed. So to say that this is the point one will act is to say that so long as no laws are broken and proven so in a criminal indictment and/or trial then anything goes. If anything that is a worse standard than the Clinton one that the GOP and GWB constantly decry and vilified. Yet this is the President that says what he means and means what he says???

It is to laugh!!! At least it would be if the consequences of this were not as serious as they are, not just for Americans but all of us on planet Earth.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Well, I finally got around to doing this. After commenting at places like Washington Monthly for almost two years now I am now a blogger myself, instead of just a commentator. I have been told by many that I should have my own blog, well now I get to see whether they were right. My primary interests for blogging are in the political realm, although I also have a interest in security and intelligence issues as well. I would also give fair warning, when I get my teeth into an issue, I tend to be rather tenacious, and one of those issues is the Plame outing in 2003. Another is the Gurmant Grewal recording fiasco of May 2005, so one can expect that I will shortly be filling up my blog with posts dealing with these issues among many others.

I hope that I am able to provide well written and presented posts for all, but we shall have to wait and see how that works out. In the meantime, welcome.

The Grewal recordings fraud

There has been among too many online Canadian conservatives a tendency to dismiss the questions surrounding the Grewal recordings as nothing more than a Liberal party and Liberal controlled media conspiracy to discredit Mr. Grewal and his recordings to protect the Liberal party. Yet this has been a problem of the CPC's own making from the outset. Indeed, it was the actions of the CPC that have given the Liberals protection from the contents of these recordings, yet there is an unwilliness by too many conservatives to recognize this. By making the Liberals victims of a fraud by the CPC they cover the sleaze from the Liberals in the recordings and caused the damage to mainly happen to the CPC and it's leader. Indeed, the continued refusal to explain how the CPC made false and unsupported specific criminal allegations against the Liberals continues to do damage to the CPC as well as provide all CPC opponents a major weapon to use to attack CPC honesty, credibility and trustworthiness.

Lets go back to the beginning, shall we? All information regarding this matter can be verified at Buckets of Grewal.

First, back on May 18 05 Mr. Grewal comes forward with eight minutes of selected excerpts from his secret recordings of negotiations to cross the floor with two senior Liberals, Minister Dosanjh and the PM's Chief of Staff Tim Murphy. These excerpts are portrayed as evidence of the Liberals being willing to exchange Senate seats for MP votes, something clearly criminal under Canadian law. However, until the full recordings are released to put these excerpts into context it is premature to take these excerpts and the claimed meaning of them at face value. For the next twelve days the CPC leadership has control over these recordings saying only that they were translating and transcribing these recordings. It is also important to note that during the May 18 05 newsconference it was claimed there was four hours of recorded material. As well, during this period the CPC was claiming they would release the full recordings so that all Canadians could review the evidence for themselves to make their own minds up about the criminal behaviour of the Liberals.

May 31 05: The first "full" and "complete" release of the recordings is announced to the Canadian public and it appears to place the context of the excerpts so as to corroborate/prove the CPC charge of Senate seat selling. The first thing that is noticed is that there is only 75 minutes of material, not four hours. Secondly, the audio quality is poor, and worse, there are a few points where it sounds like sloppy editing had occured noticeable to the naked ear. Immediately the Liberals in the person of Minister Dosanjh that there are missing conversations and apparant editing of the released material. The CPC leadership and Mr. Grewal stand by these recordings as full, complete, unaltered, and pristine. This goes one for two days, with the CPC claiming the Liberals have no case to make about editing, and that it is all a smokescreen.

June 2 05: There is a clarification note issued by the CPC known subsequently as "the suicide note". However, the clarification claims only a technical glitch caused a few seconds of material to have been deleted and that the new release reflects this. This is the first indication that there is something really rotten going on here from the CPC. As well, one of the two excerpts in that note have never been seen in any of the other transcripts to date, suggesting thatthee is still unreleased recorded material out there.

June 3 05: There is increasing evidence that these recordings released and vouched for of May 31 05 as unedited and unaltered had been edited. This comes from various sound experts hired by various media organizations, and they all conclude alteration occured. The first signs of CPC backpeddeling regarding the completeness of the May 31 05 release is seen when Peter MacKay goes from claiming the recordings were "pristine" to not being willing to defend "...anybody's veracity or whether the tapes are pristine." It is discovered that instead of a few seconds of new material 15 minutes of new material had been released, and that some of it does not reflect well on Mr. Grewal, indeed, has him asking for a Senate seat for his wife and the Liberals rejecting any such appointment "outside of politics".

Weekend of June 4 05: It is discovered that there had not just been a release of 15 minutes of new material to the previously released recordings of May 31 05, but that an additional 20 minutes on top of that has been added as well. This is done without the CPC ever bringing any formal attention to this fact. Yet they also release an updated transcript that reflects the new material released. With this additional material it becomes clear that the intital criminal allegation made by Mr. Grewal and Mr. Harper and the CPC about the Liberals being willing to sell a Senate seat is completely unsupported, indeed, refuted. At this point it has become clear that someone within the CPC has clearly and intentionally made false claims of Liberal criminality, born false witness to Canadans on that allegation, and intentionally released edited recordings to substantiate the false claim thereby perpetrating a fraud on Canadians.

Today: Ever since this chain of events has become clear the CPC has steadfastly refused to either back away from Mr. Grewal and his allegations, or to explain how so many edits happened in the May 31 05 release that was declared as complete, especially considering that this version was the only one to corroborate the Senate selling allegation. This puts the credibility of the entire CPC leadership, particularly Mr. Harper at serious issue. Mr. Grewal's credibility is also nonexistent since he made the original recordings and had to know that the Senate seat allegation was false when he made it. What we are left with is a Leader of the Official Opposition being willing to be a party to an intentionally fraudulent criminal allegation against a sitting government. To the best of my knowledge this is truly an unprecedented event in Canadian history. Indeed, to this day Mr. Harper stands behind Mr. Grewal, as do too many online conservatives. There has never been any attempt by either the CPC leadership or these defenders of Mr. Grewal for the events that occured during the period between May 18 05 and Jun 6 05. Whenever there is any challenge made regarding this matter to the CPC supporters it is dismissed as a smear campaign being unfairly and unjustly waged against them and Mr. Grewal, and that anyone that asks for an explanation is either a part of the Liberal smear machine or has been brainwashed by said smear machine. In other words the facts as they actually exist on this matter are completely ignored, and the condict of the CPC in this matter is ignored as well. We are only supposed to focus on Liberal misdeeds, the CPC is supposedly blameless of any fault here, despite the clear evidence to the contrary.

This degree of disconnect from reality is more than a little disturbing. I also have serious problems with anyone making false criminal allegations, especially when they follow it up with falsified evidence. That is what happened here, and I would be just as upset by it if it were any other party and leader. It does not MATTER the party or person, what matters is the fraud itself, and the severity of such a dishonest act occuring and being continually supported despite clear evidence that it was a fraudulent act. If a party and party leader is willing to make false allegations and fake evidence in a matter this serious, it forces wondering what else they would be willing to make false claims about and attempt to use false evidence to substantiate it with. Canadians can not and should not trust ANYONE that would do such a thing.

Finally, it should be obvious to anyone that once Mr. Grewal's credibility was impeached by his own recordings he would come under intense scrutiny, especialy from the media, where some other issues of concern have shown up. Yet this also is somehow all part of the orchestrated Liberal smear campaign. It should also be obvious that this also brings into question the credibility of both Mr. Harper and his party. After all, if they are willing to lie in this matter, why should anyone trust that they would keep their campaign promises either? When you are a party that makes as one of it's primary reasons for supporting their party their committment to principles, ethics, integrity and honesty, this is exactly the worst thing to have hanging over your head as evidence that you would be no better than the current government, possibly even worse. Indeed, this matter is a great defence to any rhetoric regarding the unethical conduct of the Liebrals in Adscam, especially since that is a more traditional money scandal as opposed to this new type of scandalous conduct by Mr. Grewal and the CPC

This is a serious and major problem, and the CPC cannot be allowed to avoid answering for it. Mr. Harper cannot be permitted to escape answering for this fraud perpetrated upon all Canadians by him and his party. I make this pledge here, that until this is matter is properly dealt with and explained that I will not allow it to drop or fade from view. I consider this matter to be far too serious to do so, as well as a type of corruption new to our politics, and of a type that MUST be stamped out from the outset before it gains any acceptability. This type of serious deception regarding criminal allegations is simply unacceptable, no matter who commits it.