Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How Andy Smith makes us proud

Andy Smith is just a regular guy. No fake names used in this story.

Andy came into his formative years with a couple of strikes against him. By formative years I mean the teens. Ya, I know there's a school of thought that says a person's character is etched in stone by the time they're three years old, but I don't buy it.

Andy was a wild little shit. Learned to love the taste of liquor early. Rumor has it that in his high school years he never missed a day where he wasn't either drunk or hung over.

I'm probably overstating the case here; local teachers claim that Andy missed more days than he attended. So assuming he was sober all those days he wasn't at school, maybe he wasn't the teenage alcoholic he's made out to be.


Whatever the particulars, I ran into Andy the other day, at a wedding reception, of all things. The family unit here at Falling Downs doesn't get out for a lot of this kind of stuff, especially weddings.

You know how it goes. Young couple hooks up. Puts on a fancy shindig, you buy them a nice wedding gift, and while you're still paying off the gift via your never-declining credit card balance, the little shits are already going their separate ways.

Anyway, we made an exception for the kids at this wedding, and low and behold, we unexpectedly run into the local wild child, Andy Smith.

Andy ain't wild no more. He's got his Chef's ticket and works at a fancy-pants restaurant.

But that's not all.

Andy is one set of exams away from getting his Cement Finisher ticket as well.

That is one well-rounded young man!

So here's the lesson I hope you'll take away from this brief introduction to Andy. The next time you run into a teen who you think is an obnoxious poke in the eye of civilization, cut him some slack. Give him a chance. Maybe even give him a hand up.

In ten years he could be an awe-inspiring example of the virtues of dedication and hard work.

Andy Smith just showed me it's possible.

Fox news has Mitt trouncing Gingrich by 2:1 margin

With another 40 minutes to go before the polls close, Fox News is reporting that based on their exit polling Romney is running away with the Florida primary.

Elsewhere on Newt's really really bad day, a couple of songwriters have sued the Gingrich campaign for using the song "Eye of the Tiger" without permission.

That's par for the course for our wily carpetbagger, isn't it?

Do it now; make excuses later.

Most Orwellian headline of the 21st century so far: Iran 'ever more willing to attack US attack'

That's off the Guardian UK website today.

Whoa! They're going to do what?

They're going to attack a US attack?

Isn't that more commonly referred to as defending oneself?

Check it out:

Iran 'ever more willing to attack US attack'

The US director of national intelligence, James Clapper
James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, also says Tehran is keeping its options open to develop nuclear weapons

If you want to read something critical of Israel, go to Israel

Writing about Israel that eschews the usual pro-Likud cheer-leading is mighty hard to find in North American media.

It usually takes one of two forms here. On the one hand, you've got the professorial types. Chomsky, Finkelstein, Michael Neumann, just to name a few. They are easily dismissed as pointy-headed elitists by our main-stream media.

On the other hand, there are the drooling anti-semites, just a degree or two removed from the Protocols, and they are easily and deservedly dismissed as what they are; anti-semetic.

What we never see is a rational discussion of the pros and cons of the Likud platform. That's something that is routinely called into question in Israel.

Take for example the response to a recent Haaretz article by Gili Cohen entitled Israel's air superiority in question.

The article is a lengthy paraphrase of a speech by Maj. General Ido Nehushtan, chief of the Israeli air force, in which he laments Israel's declining air superiority vis-a-vis her neighbors.

What's insightful is not so much the article, as the comments on the article. By a wide margin readers see the article as a transparent ploy to frighten the Israeli electorate and to squeeze more free stuff out of the American taxpayer.

If you expressed such a thought in America you would be dismissed as an

Here is the link:http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/iaf-commander-israel-s-aerial-superiority-is-in-danger-1.409889

What's so tough about Canada's tough new sanctions on Iran?

We've already seen the standard fare: blocking bank accounts in Canada held by bigwigs in the Revolutionary Guards.

Number of Canadian bank accounts ever held by bigwigs in the Revolutionary Guards?


So the sanctions announced by Foreign Minister John Baird today are going to hit the towellers where it hurts. The new sanctions will include the following:

  • total ban on oil exports to Iran. While it's true that nobody actually wants Canada's dirty oil, at least we know the Iranians aren't going to get their grubby nuclear-weapon-seeking hands on it.
  • total ban on maple syrup. That'll teach the towel-heads. No more of the good stuff on your morning pancakes. You'll have to settle for that Aunt Jemima faux syrup that our less committed American neighbors still make available.
  • complete ban on pork exports to Iran. Good luck finding a BLT or a pulled pork sandwich in Tehran after this.
  • ban on export of Celine Dionne CD's. What are you going to play at your weddings now, People of the Towel?
  • total ban on Canadian nuclear technology. That's a grey area. We gave all our Canadian nuclear technology away to India and Pakistan to enable their nuclear weapons programs. If the Iranians can't get it from us they can always get it from them.
  • Leaf's season tickets will no longer be sold to known members of the Revolutionary Guards. 
I think when they have a chance to mull that over the Iranians will see we're not kidding around. We are the Canadians. We punch above our weight all the time and we mean business. We don't cut and run, unless it becomes politically expedient for us to do so.

So shape up, you Iranians. You don't want to risk an even tougher round of sanctions from the biggest hypocrites in the world.

Harperites converge on Holy Land to lecture Palestinians on democracy and human rights

Canadian PM Harper sent two of his most trusted yes-men on a Holy Land junket to meet with the Palestinian leadership this week.

Foreign Minister John Baird, the imbecile last seen signing NATO bombs in Libya, and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty were in Ramallah to lecture the PA leadership on the folly of their ways in seeking UN endorsement for a Palestinian state. The Canadians reiterated the position that the timing of statehood must be negotiated directly with Israel and cannot be  subject to pre-conditions.

Baird and Flaherty have some experience in dealing with recalcitrant aboriginal populations. "Our native people have it a lot worse than your Palestinian lot," Baird reminded his Ramallah hosts. "But you don't see them running off whining to the UN about their lack of an independent state."

Baird may have a point.

In an informal survey of Ramallah natives, 100% said they would prefer to take their chances with Israel rather than swap places with Canadian natives in Attawapiskat.

Canada announces new and improved sanctions on Iran

Foreign Minister John Baird announced tough new sanctions against Iran today.

"Iran continues to undermine regional and global security and stability," Baird said.

Baird is the buffoon who allowed himself to be photographed signing bombs that were to be dropped on Libya during our rebels' struggle for freedom last summer. He has been noticeably silent on the Libyan question in recent months.

Which is not to suggest he hasn't been busy. It takes a lot of research to figure out that the main source of regional and global insecurity and instability is Iran.

In the immediate region, one would have to go back quite some time to find an era of peace and stability. There's that Afghan war on Iran's eastern border. That's a pretty big dollop of instability and insecurity in the region. Is Iran the author of that? No.

Then there's the instability and insecurity on Iran's western border. That festering sore is called Iraq, and it's been a festering sore since the prophets of American Exceptionalism chose it to be the model democratic state in the region. Is Iran responsible for that? No.

There are of course other hotbeds of insecurity and instability in the region. Israel, Lebanon, the West Bank, Syria, Gaza. In every case the sources of the instability and insecurity can be traced to actors other than Iran.

None of which will deter Baird.

"Canada has taken aggressive actions and has among the toughest sanctions against Iran in the world."

When asked for comment, a senior Iranian diplomat replied, "what's Canada?"

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pinko New England journalist claims US South is "racist"

Who can even imagine such a slander?

Here we are, well into the 21st century, and John Stoehr comes up with this libel entitled Gingrich in the land of racism and religiousity.

Stoehr publishes his vile rant in al Jazeera, as you might expect; pity W didn't make the right call when he had their HQ in the cross-hairs of a Hellfire guidance system a few years ago.

Here's a few choice quotes from Stoehr's anti-American polemic:

  • ...the land is soaked in racism
  • ...religion and racism are completely natural features in the world of public affairs
  • ...haze of race-baiting and Bible-thumping...
  • ...this land of racism and religiousity
And not only is he slandering the American South; he is slandering one of her favorite and most patriotic sons at the same time!

I'm sure the Mormons are behind this outrage!

US announces sanctions on trade with US

Responding at long last to polls that show more people on the planet view the US as a threat to world peace than any other country, Congress today took the unusual step of introducing sanctions against anyone who trades with the rogue American Empire.

The new measures are expected to hit China especially hard. Americans count on China to produce virtually everything they buy. It is expected that it may take American firms a generation to ramp up production of consumer electronics and ersatz plastic crap to levels that will satisfy the buying public.

Americans also count on China to buy its public debt. It is not known if the Chinese will respond by telling us to buy our own debt then.

Also hard hit will be Saudi Arabia, or at least its ruling family. That's a pretty big family. With every generation the number of Saudi princes quadruples, to the point where the  national economy now suffers from a bad case of "prince-lock", whereby the 50,000 or so Saudi princelings have such a firm grip on the national treasury that there's little left for anyone else.

Canada is expected to suffer too. Long pleased with the fact that 80% or more of their foreign trade is with the US, the sanctions will certainly come as a sharp blow to the Canadian economy. Never mind finding new markets for your dirty oil; how about finding new markets for 80% of your economic output?

The effect of the sanctions on the American economy is expected to be positive in the long run.

While in the short-term consumers are likely to be shocked at the miles of empty shelves in their local Walmart Super Center, the employment boom that will ensue as we struggle to replace imports will soon have everyone from the local homeless shelter to the corner offices on Wall Street whistling "happy days are here again".

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gingrich finished in Florida

Latest polls all predict Newt's toast in Florida.

There was no bump in the numbers when Sarah Palin weighed in on behalf of the Newtster. No Cain bump either. And Sheldon needs to dig a little deeper into his bank account if he wants his boy to go head to head with Mitt in terms of television commercials.

That's democracy in America today.

It's not about ideas. It's not about integrity. It's not about track record.

Democracy in America is about who can put out the most and the best television commercials.

Rival peace talks assure successful end to Afghan fiasco

The news has been out there for a while now that the Taliban, the evil-doers we kicked out of power back in 2001, have opened an office in Qatar for the sole purpose of negotiating with the US.

What might they be negotiating? The Hindu website has a pretty good take on that. First, the Taliban negotiating team wants themselves taken off the US "Kill or Capture" list. Makes a certain amount of sense, I guess.

Can you really have a serious talk with someone who has you on a hit list?

Next, release all Taliban prisoners wherever they might be held.

Beyond that, it's all about making the US/NATO capitulation look like some sort of victory. We're literally pleading with the Taliban to make us look good as we high-tail it out of there.

Meanwhile, back in Kabul, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is mightily pissed that the surrender talks have started without him. He is the leader of the country, after all. He has retaliated by convening separate peace talks with the Taliban in Saudi Arabia.

Duelling peace talks, as it were.

There's a bit of a novelty involved here, in that the Taliban are humoring Karzai by agreeing to meet with him. In the past, they've refused direct negotiations with Karzai's regime, claiming he's just an American stooge. While anyone who has followed the Afghan fiasco knows that's true, this does seem to indicate a bit of mellowing in the Taliban position.

So it's peace talks here and peace talks there and peace talks all round as we prepare to declare victory and move on to the next fiasco.


Greeks say 'nein danke' to latest German debt offer

And what a generous offer those crafty Germans have come up with.

Seventy years after loosing the Vermacht on the hapless Greeks, the Germans want to take the country over again, but this time with an army of smart guys in suits.

According to the Financial Times, this latest bandaid for the never-ending euro-crisis would  involve giving Greece new loans to pay off the old loans, thereby saving the banks who are too big to fail and the careers of the many bankers who are too smart to make mistakes.

The Greek "crisis" did not spring up overnight. Greek debt accumulated over many years as foreign banks routinely approved decisions to continue buying Greek debt. Such decisions are taken by well educated and very well remunerated bankers, who in a sane world would now be held to some measure of accountability for their decisions.

But in the too-big-to-fail world of international banking the smart guys never make mistakes, and the Greeks can continue to poke new holes in their belts as they cut back further and further to ensure that the bankers come out with their profits intact.

The new money will allow the Greeks to save the German banks, at least for the time being, but, as one would expect in a deal offered by the Germans, it comes with rather nasty conditions attached. Most onerously, it would oblige the government to pay it's debt obligations first before any normal government expenditures.

In other words, paying interest to German banks would take priority over domestic spending on frills like education, health care, pensions for the elderly, and whatever is left of the already strained social safety net.

What's in this for the Greeks? The right to borrow even more money down the road, to increase their indebtedness to the same too-big-to-fail banksters who have them in the corner already.

Good for the Greeks for saying no. It's time the smart guys in suits are held accountable for their mistakes.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Adelson fumes as losers pile on the Gingrich bandwagon

Oh Sheldon, I see Herman Cain has just endorsed our boy Newt!

Herman Cain, you know, the black guy.


Calm down, Sheldon. I just read a very kind profile about you on one of the Brit websites. They're a long way from asking nosy questions about exactly how you turned a trade show into a personal fortune worth billions.

But I feel your pain. Yesterday it was Sarah Palin coming out for your boy. If that wasn't bad enough, now you've got the Hermanator on your team.

And what a team it is, Sheldon. Stay with me for a minute. You got Newt, the wily carpetbagger who can't keep his pants on, and then you've got Cain, the wily pizza mogul who can't keep his pants on...

I see a whole new franchise here, Sheldon, and it's got nothing to do with gambling. It would be good to diversify anyway.


I don't really have to explain it, do I Sheldon? Panzerotti - Panzeroffy?

Go for it. You're paying them anyway, why not get something back for your money?

PANZEROFFY'S PIZZA AND DELI, a Sheldon Adelson company.

France breaks ranks, abandons allies in Afghanistan

Now here's a bullshit story if ever I heard one:

The announcement by French President Nicolas Sarkozy that his troops would sharply accelerate their departure from Afghanistan cast a harsh light on potential cracks in the U.S.-led military coalition in the country.

Although the Obama administration and the
NATO force sought to portray Friday's declaration in Paris as neither surprising nor unilateral, it marked not only an effective end to France's combat role in Afghanistan, but a breaking of Western ranks as an unpopular war drags into a second decade.

That's from the LA Times.

Why is it a non-story?

In the first place, Afghanistan is a done deal. We lost. We're negotiating with the Taliban right now at their new offices in Qatar. The only thing we're negotiating is how we make our retreat look good. It's about saving face, not for the Taliban, but for us.

In the second place, who is breaking ranks? The Canadians are out already. The "we don't cut and run" guys cut and ran way before the French. Obama has long ago announced America's timetable for withdrawal. Breaking ranks? I think the "ranks" are but a misty-eyed memory.

So forget about "potential cracks in the US-led military alliance."

That was toast long before Sarkozy smelled the coffee.

Barak hoists war flag in Davos but nobody salutes

Ehud Barak was in Switzerland yesterday, doing his best to instill a little towel-o-phobia in the assembled worthies at Davos.

If we don't act soon, it may be too late, claimed Barak. In mere months the Ayatollahs could have nukes.

Too late for what?

Why, too late for the infamous "surgical strike" that is much beloved by Israeli and American war apologists. You know, like the surgical strike on Falluja, or the mother of all surgical strikes, Operation Cast Lead.

Presumably it won't be too late for a massive carpet nuking of the entire country. That'll slow up their nuke program.

Alas, the Davos crowd did not seem unduly alarmed by Barak's news. That could be because Davos is well beyond the range of Iranian missiles.

Or it could be that they've been listening to the same shrill warnings about the Ayatollahs being months away from a nuclear weapon for at least twenty years now.

Or maybe they're just a little more sophisticated than the Florida Republicans who are lapping up every fear-mongering ant-Iranian cliche that Newt and Mitt toss their way. Hell, when you watch the debates you'd almost think Iran's nuclear ambitions were the single most important issue facing Florida voters.

Google home page sends anti-tarsands message

Did you notice it too?

Today's Google home page. The first "o" in google is already sinking in the sludge, along with untold migratory birds.

Then the second "o" in the form of a giant snowflake comes floating down and gets stuck in the sludge.

And that poor innocent cow, just standing there, chewing the snow or the sludge or whatever, oblivious to the imminent danger.

Log out and click on google; see for yourself.

That's as nefarious an example of foreign interference in Harper's energy policy as I've ever seen!

Friday, January 27, 2012

$200 million buys one baseball player or 400 schoolteachers; what does Detroit need more?

Holy rust-belt Batman, Prince Fielder can buy the entire city of Detroit with that kind of money!

Is this the sundown deal for Mike Ilitch? The legacy that the aging pizza meister will leave to the world of professional baseball?

I'm an October baseball fan. I can conjur up a bit of interest when the playoffs come along. Pretty much sums up my interest in all the pro sports.

Fielder's per annum runs to well over $20 million a year. That's about 400 schoolteachers.

I think Detroit needs the schoolteachers more.

Free Syria!

On the face of it, it's hard to know what to believe about the upheaval in Syria.

What do we know?

We know that there are a lot of people pissed off at their dictator.

We know that this has been an armed campaign against the dictator from the first days of the uprising.

We know that the armed campaign is organized and financed by foreign countries: France, UK, Turkey, Qatar, and the US, among others.

Can this campaign free the people of Syria?

Many of the same players just recently concluded their campaign to free the people of Libya. How is that going for the people of Libya?

Those who promote the present unrest within Syria also posit a future Syrian state that cuts its ties with Iran and becomes a friend and ally of Israel and America.

How realistic is that?

Caterpillar celebrates record year by screwing workers

2011 was a very good year for the Caterpillar company. Sales and profits have never been higher.

But even when you're more profitable than ever, there's a sure-fire way to ratchet record profits up to even higher levels.

Ratchet down the wages of the folks who actually build your Caterpillar stuff.

That's what's going on right now at the Caterpillar locomotive plant in London Ontario. Purchased from General Motors via a very profitable layover at a hedge fund, Electro-Motive Diesel employs about 500 workers in the southern Ontario city.

The skilled welders and steel-fitters at Electro-Motive have been given an ultimatum by the company that is coming off the best financial year in its history: work for half of last years wage or we'll shut you down and send the work somewhere else.

Makes sense to me. Just because you're having the best year in your history doesn't mean next year can't be even better. And if you have to rip the guts out of the union folks who build your stuff, well, that's the way it goes.

This is where I lapse into fantasies of worker solidarity. What if the guys who operate Caterpillar equipment world-wide simply said "no thanks - I won't operate equipment that is built by a company that squeezes it's surplus profits out of the paychecks of their workers."

Construction sites and mines and road-building projects all over the world would shut down overnight.

Sarah Palin delivers kiss of death to Gingrich campaign

She's endorsed him before. Her wife Todd has endorsed him too. Neither were endorsements that the Gingrich campaign was angling for. In fact, GOP candidates would far prefer NOT to have a Sarah Palin endorsement.

Be that as it may, Sarah can't keep a good thought down, or any thought for that matter, and she came out swinging yesterday in defense of the Newtster.

He's just a victim of the liberal media. He's just a victim of the GOP establishment.

That tells you quite a bit right there, doesn't it? Anytime someone can simultaneously be a victim of both the GOP establishment and the liberal media, there should be red flags, or at least pink ones, going up all over the place.

Or, maybe the GOP establishment really IS the power behind the liberal media. That's a conspiracy theory some of my gay pinko friends have been flogging for years.

How odd that it would be Sarah Palin who drags it into the spotlight.

The 'Free Syria Army' meets bullshit detection 101

The Free Syria Army, stage managed by us from an airbase in Turkey, has got a video out showing off some Iranian prisoners they've captured in Homs. The intent is obvious; to confirm what this blog has said all along, that the Syrian "uprising" is just the western front in our already-on war against Iran.

What trips up their propaganda video is the fact that they make such a big deal of showing off the passports of the supposed Iranians they have captured fighting for the regime in Damascus.


This blog is read by folks in every country that made up the 'coalition of the willing'. Let me ask you boys and girls, when you were shipped off to Iraq or Afghanistan, was your passport part of your kit? Did you carry your US/Canadian/UK/Polish/etc passport in your pocket when you went out on missions in Iraq and Afghanistan?

I'm guessing not.

But these twats who run PR for the 'Free Syria Army' think we're stupid enough to believe that Iran would send fighters to Syria, with their passports in their pockets, so that in the event that they fall into enemy hands they can be a propaganda coup?

Nice try, but you'll have to try harder.

Gingrich, Netanyahu, and Sheldon Adelson; what Israelis really think of Newt

Here's a few paragraphs from today's Haaretz On-line. Seems not everyone in the Holy Land thinks Newt is their best friend.

Gingrich won't win, and Bibi will be in a lose-lose situation

We'll have to be careful of Obama, who is gritting his teeth to hold back his grudge, and we'll have to be careful of Romney, who won't soon forget the bloodbath prepared for him by Newt and Bibi's friends.

Newt Gingrich won in South Carolina and that's good, very good. What's so good about the victory of an egomaniac who has compared himself to Churchill, de Gaulle and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? It's good because it's bad for the Republican Party, which is drunk not on wine but on tea. That's how the wild party will continue until the summer, and they'll all swallow each other alive.
They will reach the end of the race for Republican presidential candidate bruised and battered, increasing U.S. President Barack Obama's chances of being reelected by the skin of his teeth. In spite of all the disappointment with him, he behaves like a normal and well-meaning human being, and that's no small thing nowadays - both in the United States and here. Another term in office - without the fear of big donors and AIPAC - may repair what has been broken.
From here, we will wish Gingrich good luck on his future path, where every patch of greenery he touches turns yellow. This is the man who has a reputation for making a fool of himself. This is the man who was thrown out of Congress in disgrace - the House Ethics Committee handled dozens of complaints filed against him when he was chairman, and fined him hundreds of thousands of dollars for "irresponsible use" of public funds.
He was the one who pushed for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton because of Monica, while he himself was having a secret affair with his platinum-blonde assistant, Callista. He informed his first wife that he was divorcing her while she was still bedridden with an illness, and to his second he suggested an "open marriage," according to her testimony. Sara Netanyahu would not be pleased with such behavior.
I have absolutely nothing against a womanizer. So why do I feel like vomiting when he of all people preaches the sanctity of the family and family values? The nausea increases when he publicly displays the indulgence he receives from his new church; Gingrich is now a devout Catholic. And the observer will wonder, how is such a historic and important party running such dubious candidates, who are infuriated by welfare and bought by wealth?
With all his character traits and views, Gingrich is the natural candidate of the "International Likud," as we learned in a conversation with journalist Yaron Dekel. Don't we finally deserve to have a president after our own heart, who considers the Palestinians an invented people, brings down the Iranian government with one shot, transfers the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, frees Jonathan Pollard and crushes the elites and the media?
Although Netanyahu is not interfering, we know whom he really likes - anyone but Obama. That's all he requires. The freebie daily newspaper Israel Hayom also wants Gingrich, because that's what the boss wants. The paper's patron, Sheldon Adelson, had good reason for contributing $10 million and rescuing his friend at the last moment. Our Sheldon knows how to gamble, that's his profession. Didn't he bet on Bibi Netanyahu and win? Didn't we lose?

Iran oil-for-gold swap threatens US dollar

According to reports circulating today, India and Iran have agreed on a major gold for oil swap.

The significance of such a deal is that it is done entirely outside the US dollar. Russia has already agreed to buy Iranian crude without using the dollar.

These deals are being done at a time when the US and the EU are attempting to ratchet up the political pressure on Iran by boycotting Iranian oil. By going around the dollar, the Iranians are not only subverting the boycott, but are delivering a counter-blow that could well have far more serious consequences for the Western economies.

As anyone who follows these matters knows, the US is technically a bankrupt nation. The “value” of the US dollar is maintained by a combination of faith and fear. As the targets of US wrath realize that they can simply work outside the framework that the big Western institutions have imposed on them for the last 75 years, neither the fear nor the faith will keep the dollar aloft much longer.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ron Crum and the most confused election story of the 2012 campaign (so far)

CNN must be running out of ideas. They're trying to spin a story about which of the two GOP front-runners are most likely to appeal to rural Florida voters.

The obvious answer is neither of them. Let's face it. They're both millionaire political insiders. But you can weave a story about which one of them can get the vote of the unemployed Florida charter boat operator?

How Ron Crum gets into a front page story I'm not sure. Looks like a decent enough guy in the picture. Has a nice parable about fishing poles. But by Jeezus Ron, wake up! You don't really think either of these millionaire twats gives a shit about you and your fishing tackle shop, DO YA?

But at least CNN managed to get out a story about the election that didn't mention Ron Paul.

The zen of Chloe

Falling Downs regulars will know Chloe. The evil cat from hell who spent years doing nothing but sulking on asbestos-wrapped heating pipes and slipping over to Mary Ann's house next door for kosher cat kibble.

Don't think I mentioned it before, but Chloe's only one or two degrees of separation from one of the country's most notorious serial killers, Paul Bernardo.

Here's the connection. Chloe got her operation at a cat clinic down Burlington way. Karla Homolka, Bernardo's wife and partner in the dastardly deeds that made them famous, used to work at that clinic.

Sends shivers up and down your spine, don't it? What's she thinking about as she's purring on those asbestos-wrapped pipes? The caress of Karla?

But Chloe has become a much more convivial cat since we moved to Falling Downs.

She's out and about every single day. Where we didn't see her for weeks on end, she's now making regular daily purr-pasts. She's a happy cat at last.

She mixes freely with the hounds, and has largely symbolic hiss-fests with the other cat.

She has, however, developed one peculiar habit I wish she hadn't. The cat box is in the basement, a few feet away from the wood furnace. I tend to spend a lot of time down there, because apparently the farm manager has decreed that keeping the wood fires burning is one of my responsibilities. Possibly it's the only one. In fact, she mockingly refers to that little space in front of the wood furnace as my "man cave," which is more than a little bit cruel.

Anyway, I've been noticing for quite some time that as soon as I park myself in front of the furnace, Chloe comes for a squat in the cat box. Without fail. Every time. Guaranteed.

I've gotten over my resentment. Join me, Chloe, as I keep the fires burning, and by all means have a shit while you're in the neighborhood. After all, we are doing jobs of equal import.

Without fire, we'd be dead. And if we couldn't shit, we'd be dead too.

Why I couldn't be a journalist

Neil Reynolds is a good guy. A lifer in the world of journalism, he's in the twilight of his career and gets an occassional column in Canada's newspaper of record, which isn't any paper affiliated with Postmedia.

He spent a few years in the early '90's out east toiling for the Irving papers while I was toiling at the Irving Shipyard just across the harbor. (and although "toiling" may be too strong a word for my efforts at Saint John Shipbuilding, I like to think that Neil and I almost crossed paths in New Brunswick twenty years ago.)

A few days ago Neil had one of his irregular columns in the Globe entitled the little democracy that could, all about the success that democracy has made of Africa's wealthiest country, Mauritius.

Right away I hear the skeptics; Mauritius? Africa? Isn't Mauritius an island in the Indian Ocean a thousand miles offshore from Africa? Well, you're right, dear skeptic, but democracy works wonders both in economics and in geography.

The bigger problem I have with Reynolds' fluff piece is the claim that Mauritius is Africa's wealthiest country. Up until the NATO intervention the richest country in Africa was Libya.

Pre-NATO Libya beats Mauritius on every indicator of human well-being. Higher GDP per capita. Lower debt per capita. Longer life expectancy.

Neil knows all this. He's a smart guy. But he also knows that if he told the truth they wouldn't let him write a column in the national newspaper of record.

He'd be writing a blog.

Libyan rebels torture opponents to death, but it's still Gadaffi's fault

The NYT put out a rather unflattering story today about our NATO-sponsored rebels in Libya. The Times was a major cheerleader for our Libyan adventure. Month after month after month of "Gadaffi bad, rebels good!"

Seems that even the New York Times is having second thoughts. They report that Doctors Without Borders has suspended operations in Misurata because the same prisoners keep showing up with new injuries. Only took the geniuses at MSF four months to figure out, hey, we're just patching these folks up so the rebels can torture them some more!

The torture victims seem to be comprised of two suspect groups; Gadaffi loyalists and black people. Black people who are suspected of being Gadaffi loyalists don't survive long enough to be tortured.

Apparently the police can't do anything because "everyone has a gun now."

And the Times reassures us that this is happening because of four decades of Gadaffi rule. Nothing is the responsibility of the NATO countries without whom the rebels would have been a minor foot-note in Libyan history by last April.

What a disaster. From the highest standard of living in Africa to complete anarchy in under a year.

Good work, NATO!

Panetta admits budget cuts threaten F-35 roll-out, but Canada still gung-ho

Leon Panetta admitted today that the proposed $488 billion in US defence cuts might mean major delays or a complete walk-away from the most advanced and expensive warplane of all time, the F-35 strike fighter.

The main problem with the F-35 is that it doesn't work. Its development is years behind schedule and hundreds of billions of dollars over budget.

Sometimes progress isn't.

This has not deterred the Canadian buyers. They've committed to about 65 of the non-functioning aircraft, at a cost estimated between 30 to 60 billion. That's about 400 to 900 million dollars per plane.

Meanwhile, Turkey just signed a deal to buy a bunch of Russian Yak 130 fighters for 15 million apiece. They're slower, prettier, and more versatile than the F-35, but they have one major advantage; they work.

For the price of one American F-35 that doesn't work, we'd have 20 Russian jets that do. For the price of 65 F-35's, we'd have well over a thousand fighter jets!

Think about it, Mr. Harper. 65 planes that don't work or an air force of over a thousand fighter jets.

Canada could be a world power again!

Award-winning journalist unleashes cliches of doom on Harper's China visit

The Ottawa Citizen has been a newspaper longer than Canada has been a country. It went through various ownerships over the decades and eventually ended up a Conrad Black property. In spite of that, it's never been able to transform itself into the country's "newspaper of record."

No wonder.

In one of the shrewdest moves of his ill-fated career Conrad Black unloaded his newspaper empire on the hapless Izzy Asper for top dollar just as the internet was making ink and paper obsolete. Izzy's Canwest media empire floundered aimlessly for a few years before going tits up.

Then lo and behold, a crew of finance sharpies backed by Goldman Sachs bought control of Canwest from the reciever for pennies on the dollar, and set up a "new" company; Postmedia. As a titular figure-head they brought in Paul Godfrey to dignify the exercise. Godfrey had in an ealier life made himself wealthy by launching the Toronto Sun tabloid.

The exercise wasn't about saving newspapers; it was about breathing life back into all that Canwest corporate debt they bought for pennies on the dollar. Nevertheless, they have to keep flogging newspapers to make their financial dreams come true.

And nothing moves papers like a bit of controversy.

Which brings me to Terry Glavin's opinion piece in the Citizen today.

Glavin has written a series of articles about the China menace. Seems the wily commies are taking over the world. Today he continues to work readers into a froth about the upcoming  Harper visit to China, which after the obligatory bullshit about our concern for human rights, will be nothing more and nothing less than a full-on grovel to beg the Chinese to buy our dirty oil.

In Glavin's article China's state-owned oil company is both "absurdly corrupt" and a "ravenous behemoth."

Its president is "aggressive and ambitious." If that isn't bad enough, "Sinopec provides the sanctions-busting revenues to allow the delusional mass-murderer al-Assad to hang on in Damascus."

But wait a minute! Then it gets "really ugly". Turns out those commies are now Iran's number one customer for Iranian crude! OH. MY. GOD!!!!!

So that's the big fear, that Harper is keen on doing business with people who still do business with Iran?

That's not a big story, my friend. Israeli companies do as much business with Iran as they can get away with. (see for example Achieving Peace on Earth one embargo defying deal at a time right here on this blog.)

Glavin goes on to claim that China now co-authors Canada's foreign policy, at which point I think it's fair to say he's given up all claims to any measure of credibility.

A company whose president is aggressive and ambitious? God forbid!

A major oil company that is a ravenous behemoth? Huh? There's been one that wasn't?

As for absurdly corrupt, I think in China they still make a practice of hanging their white-collar criminals.

Here we applaud them when they buy media empires for pennies on the dollar and bail them out when they get too big to fail.

Tom Ridge now doing PR for Iranian terror group MEK

Tom Ridge was the first Secretary of  Homeland Security. He quit after two years to take his chances as a free-lance lobbyist.

How’s that been going for him? Even though his national security profile was by far overshadowed by a host of more robust personalities around Washington, he seems to have done alright for himself.

His clients don’t hire him for his grasp of national security issues. They hire him because he’s a political insider. That’s what got him the Homeland Security gig in the first place. In the decade since leaving Homeland Security he’s found work shilling for the nuclear industry, the oil sector, and now foreign terrorist organizations.

That’s right, the former Secretary of Homeland Security now does public relations work  for the MEK, the shadowy Iranian terror group that was funded by Saddam Hussein for many years. Writing on the Fox News site today, Ridge claims that he knows and admires the leader of the MEK,  Maryam Rajavi, who he claims cherishes the same American values that we all do.

Soon after we put paid to Saddam’s ability to sponsor Iranian terrorists, Rajavi was arrested at her villa in France, along with 160 followers and millions of euros in cash. It is not known in polite circles who funds the MEK today, but there are voices in impolite circles who have suggested that their funding comes mainly from the CIA.

Why would we want to sponsor an Iranian terror group? Their main goal is making trouble for the ayatollahs. That’s something that fits right in there with those American values we share.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spawn of Cecil signs $214 million deal with Detroit Tigers

Holy rust-belt Batman, Prince Fielder can buy the entire city of Detroit with that kind of money!

Is this the sundown deal for Mike Ilitch? The legacy that the aging pizza meister will leave to the world of professional baseball?

I'm an October baseball fan. I can conjur up a bit of interest when the playoffs come along. Pretty much sums up my interest in all the pro sports.

Fielder's per annum runs to well over $20 million a year. That's about 400 schoolteachers.

I think Detroit needs the schoolteachers more.

Newt vs. Mitt: the ultimate indictment of America's dysfunctional education system

It's not hard to see why folks have given up hope with the great hope Obama. Everything he's touched he's made worse.

Want health care reform? He promised it. What did he deliver?

An end to war? Look around you.

Good thing they gave him that Nobel prize in advance. No way he'd have got it on his actual accomplishments.

But look what's going on across the floor. It's Newt vs. Romney.

It's the grass-roots guys who are going to set things right in Washington.

Newt has just proclaimed himself the ultimate Washington outsider. Now, I suppose it's a politician's perogative to make outlandish claims that bear no resemblance whatsoever to reality. But even by that standard Newt's outsider status is quite a long stretch.

But it's working for him! Humble God-fearing Americans are swallowing this shit!

Then you've got Mitt "corporations are people too" Romney.

Had there been the slightest pulse left in the corpse of America's working class at the time he spoke those words he would have been tarred, feathered, and run out of town within fifteen minutes.

Newt, you've been the quintessential Washington insider for at least thirty years. Why lie about it now?

Mitt, corporations aren't people. If you don't understand that, you don't deserve to represent the American people. Corporations maybe, but definitely not the people.

And the American people know the difference.

Torture, arbitrary arrest, summary execution; business as usual in democratic Iraq

The international NGO Human Rights Watch has issued a scary condemnation of the goings on in Iraq. You know the place. Suffered for decades under that old dictator, Saddam Hussein. Liberated by the US. Destined to be a model democracy, the pivot point for a whole new democratic Middle East.

So how are things going in free Iraq? Free at the cost of nearly five thousand American lives and a trillion US taxpayer dollars?

According to Human Rights Watch, not that great.

The gender-equality situation is worse than it was under the old dictator. Women are more overtly second-class citizens today than they were under Saddam.

Journalists had to keep in the shadows back in Saddam's day, but they tend to die with greater frequency now that we've brought their country democracy.

Arbitrary arrest and torture of political opponents is routine.

Summary execution is routine.

Oh, and the chap we installed in the place of the evil dictator is way more chummy with Iran than Saddam ever was.

For this 5,000 Americans died and America went bankrupt?

It's all sweet grass and feathers at Chief Harper's invitation-only Loya Jurga

Big Chief Harper summoned the lesser chiefs to a pow-wow today. They came in their hundreds. Grand Chiefs, Regional Chiefs, hereditary Chiefs, Band Chiefs, you name it.

Most of the morning was taken up with prayers and tributes to the sleeping Gods that haven't done their First Nations supplicants much good the last five hundred years or so. Why not take a page out of whitey's book and try for a bit of separation between church and state, native brothers? The white folks are just patronizing you when they indulge this stuff. Let sleeping Gods lie already!

In the afternoon Big Chief Harper had to duck out early to meet up with some serious folks in Davos, but not before delivering one of the most hackneyed speeches of his career.

Referring to the Indian Act, the 1876 legislation that codified native apartheid in Canada, Harper said "that tree has deep roots. Blowing up the stump would just leave a big hole."

And with that Harper was off to Switzerland, and the Chiefs were off to their impoverished communities, no more empowered and no wiser than they were before.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sean Penn appears on TV to hail Libyan revolution while Gadaffi loyalists retake Bani Walid

You have to admit that was an ironic coincidence of timing.

There's Sean Penn opining on the deeper significance of the Libyan revolution on Piers Morgan's CNN show and even as his lips are moving a number of news sites are claiming the town of Bani Walid has fallen to Gadaffi loyalists.

Four months after the victory.

I was a little disappointed in Sean's take on Libya. He seems to think it was an exceptionally positive use of America's bully stick. If there was some evidence that the people of Libya are now better off, I might be inclined to let that go unchallenged. But, are they better off?

But I like Sean Penn, so I'm inclined to make allowances for his ignorance of events in Libya. Of course, he is a well-connected dude and maybe he knows stuff that I'm not privy to. So we'll have to wait and see, but everything I've heard and read says the people of Libya spent the last year getting a royal screw-over.

They will emerge from this with a greatly reduced standard of living. They will be in debt to America, other NATO countries, and the World Bank/IMF diad of doom in perpetuity. They will be paying for the new jets and weapon systems that their NATO pals will push on them. Western construction conglomerates will feast on the rebuilding contracts to rebuild what the Western military complex just smashed up.

But they will be "free".

So I think Sean's got that one wrong, but we'll see. The other day I said he had Haiti wrong too.

I still believe he does, but at the same time I have to salute his resolve to make a difference. He's investing a lot of himself in his Haiti mission. That takes a lot more than sitting in my comfy chair carping about it.

At the same time, while his projects are a short term relief to some people who really need it, what are they in the long term? Penn spoke a bit about a manufacturing industry that could be operated out of Haiti with a smaller carbon footprint than running it in China. Why? Because it's only and hour and a half from the US. That says something about his vision for Haiti's future.

Haiti: the low-wage assembly site of choice. We will undercut child labor rates in China and Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Similarly, viable housing solutions can't happen in Haiti until the ruling elite agree to land redistribution. By propping up the status quo you help the ruling elite avoid that necessary step for Haiti's future.

Without that fundamental step, everything else is just bandaids.

Turning another lost war into an entertainment commodity

Last night CNN presented Narco-Wars; a CNN Special Report.

Narco-Wars is a documentary about the effect that America's war on the drug trade is having on the societies of Central America, featuring CNN's Kaj Larsen, who comes across as a Geraldo Lite character; a little brighter but slightly less obnoxious.

While it is about America's "war" on the drug trade, it goes to some lengths to avoid calling it that. Rather, we are to believe that we have made common cause with certain right-wing governments in Central America because we have a common enemy, i.e. the "narco-terrorists."

It has been well over fourty years since President Richard Nixon declared the war on drugs, but the real shooting war didn't get serious till Jose Calderon won a somewhat suspect election to become President of Mexico in 2006. Needing an issue to take the voters minds off the fact that they'd just been massively hosed, Calderon, with endless cheer-leading and financial support from Washington, declared all-out war on the Mexican drug cartels.

Since Mexico is merely a transit point between the drug-producing countries of South America and the worlds biggest market for illegal drugs, the USA, this is obviously a proxy war Calderon is waging on our behalf. The result of Calderon's war after six years? No change in the availability of illegal drugs in the US, approximately 50,000 violent drug-war deaths in Mexico, and the militarization of society in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. And oh yes, the American taxpayer gets to foot the bill for this nonsense.

The CNN doc focuses on the situation in Honduras and Guatemala, which Larsen continuously reminds us are now by far the most violent societies in the world. Far worse than Mexico. Every 45 seconds or so he mentions this. There is no connection made between America's war on drugs and Central America's war on drugs except as some abstract we're-all-in-this-together feel-good cliche. There is however a great deal of attention paid to how much America is "helping" these countries in their war.

American guns, American SUVs, American helicopters, and American advisors are prominent in the film. All paid for by the ever-generous American taxpayer of course. From all appearances DEA agents actually command military units on the ground in Honduras and Guatemala.

Does Larsen offer any solutions? He isn't interested in any. He got a working trip out of it and something to add to his resume. It would seem a perfect opportunity to call attention to the futility of the entire exercise and to demand governments change their approach to the entire question of drug prohibition, but there's not a wiff of that.

In fact, the DEA agents bemoan the fact that they just don't have the resouces to effectively bring the cartels to heel. So hang on to your wallets, American taxpayers! We're in it to win it, costs be damned!

In the meantime, enjoy the documentary. At least you're getting something for your money.

Gingrich smitten with amnesia; claims to have no memory of last fourty years!

After almost 45 years as the ultimate political insider, Newt Gingrich has declared himself the ultimate political outsider.

And why not?  After his stunning victory in South Carolina, anything is possible!

Newt’s career goes back to his work in the Nelson Rockefeller organization in the 1960’s. He was first elected to congress in 1978. He rose in power and prestige to become Minority whip and then Speaker of the House. He wasn’t just an “insider”, he was an insider’s insider, without a doubt one of the most ruthless and powerful operators in Washington.

When he resigned in disgrace did he leave Washington  to ponder the various ethical lapses that had lead to his downfall? Most emphatically not! He stayed right there turning lemons into lemonade. Gingrich used his insider’s savvy to become one of the most effective lobbyists of all time!

But he can't remember a damned minute of it! Newt's got amnesia!

That's how he can call himself a Washington outsider.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Arab dictator seeks medical care in US

America has an interesting history in terms of how it treats the dictators it has propped up once they have outlived their usefulness.

The Shah of Iran, American bum-boy par excellence, wasn't even allowed into the country for life-saving medical care when the jig was up.

Noriega was allowed into the country to sit in a cell for 18 years.

Now President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen is heading our way. Looking for a spot of medical attention.

America's relationship with Yemen has been a troubled one. Unlike other Arab dictators like Mubarak or the house of Saud, Saleh hasn't  always been a reliable ally.

At least not from our point of view. He hung in there supporting Saddam Hussein long after his American friends had stabbed him in the back.

He's been fighting a supposed "Arab Spring" uprising for almost a year.
The Yemeni opposition are one of the few forces routinely identified in Western media as al Qaida, which is almost a sure sign that they're nothing of the sort.

In fact, Yemen has a tortuous history of civil war. They were fighting each other and various supposed conquerors when the US of A was just a twinkle in George Washington's eye.

They'll keep fighting. In the meantime, by allowing Saleh into the country, America has again chosen to publicly choose sides in what should be none of America's business.

Too much snow shuts down ski resort

That's a bummer when that happens. Too much snow at a ski resort?

Mind you, the resort in question is Hermon in northern Israel. They tend to rely on artificial snow a lot. Israel has never been a big market for snow tires or ski vacations.

Usually when I contemplate a ski vacation I think Whistler or Colorado. And contemplate is about as far as it gets.

First of all, I'd have to learn to ski. Tried it once, at the Chickopee ski hill in Kitchener. I was still standing at the top when my skiis arrived at the bottom. Just lucky some six year old didn't get a ski through the forehead.

Kind of a deadly form of recreation from what I understand. Took the life of a top free-styler just this past week. And I think one of the Kennedys bought it on skiis, and Sonny of Sonny and Cher fame if I remember correctly.

Not that I haven't had some great adventures on ski slopes, but they've usually been in the summer. I remember once hiking up a mountain near Innsbruck in Austria. It was one of those misty brooding days that reminds you of a Procol Harem album cover. I climbed and climbed, getting closer to God with every step.

As I neared the top, through the fog and the mist I thought I heard voices. Angels!

No, they were speaking German... couldn't be.

I rounded the last turn in the trail and there before me was a ski resort, the top end of a gondola lift that came up the other side of the mountain. I'd hiked through fog and rain all day to glimpse the face of God when for a few pfennigs I could have taken a tram.

God wasn't there anyway, so it didn't really matter.

Giffords resigns Congressional seat

A spokesperson for Gabrielle Giffords has announced that Giffords is giving up her seat in the House of Representatives to focus on recovering from the brain injury she suffered when she was shot in the head by a wacko a year ago.

The move is seen as controversial because it implies that a measure of brain function is a necessary attribute to serve in Congress.

Most Americans are convinced that being certifiably brain-dead is the more important qualification.

Be that as it may, Rep. Giffords has been a terrific role model as she fights her way back to good health. And if she ever comes back to the political arena firing on all cylinders, watch out!

Giffords for President in 2020!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Joe Paterno and the flying shit-hammer of karma

That's a pretty big come-down.

From coaching legend to fired from your job to dying of cancer all in a couple of months.

I don't know Joe Paterno and I don't care for the jock culture that he made his career in.

I don't know anything about the Sandusky business, although it stands to reason that guys who get off seeing other guys naked might want to arrange their lives in such a way that showering with young men is part of their job description.

But I do believe that a man who committed most of his working life and then some to a single cause, the Penn State football program, deserves a measure of respect.

How about those Leafs

The lame-ass Leafs proved again that they are indeed lame ass.

For some reason the Leafs brain trust believes that we'll keep paying for mediocrity forever. Hey, maybe they're right?!

After all, there's still a waiting list for the highest priced season tickets in the world of professional hockey.

But mostly, those season tickets have become a perverse status symbol. The deal among the mover and shaker crowd in Toronto is that you hold season tickets just to show that you can, and then you don't go to the games to show that you think the team sucks.

Excuse me, but how does sell-out after sell-out with thousands of seats empty give Leaf's management the message that they need to clean house? Shit, they'll happily play in an empty arena as long as all the seats are paid for!

The lame-ass Leafs just lost to the even lamer Canadiens.

At least the Canadiens have given their fans something to cheer about in the last 45 years.

Dr. Doom predicts more doom

We're doomed.

Thus spoke Nouriel Roubini in an interview with Canada's newspaper of record, which is not the National Post.

Roubini is famous as the guy who predicted the collapse of the US housing bubble. I predicted it too, but I guess it doesn't count when you're a retired welder in the back reaches of Bruce County.

But Roubini is a globe-trotting economist, so when he figured out that if you keep making loans to people who don't have a hope in hell of paying them back you'll eventually have a problem, people listened.

In today's interview with the Globe and Mail Roubini reveals that he is once again on the same page as the think tank here at Falling Downs. Has he been reading my blog? Fess up, Dr. Doom.

Roubini agrees that the Greeks will eventually have had enough of the IMF and will rise up and say "fuck you" to the austerity that their Euro-zone pals have imposed.

Goodbye euro. Welcome back drachma. And welcome back sovereignty. In the process maybe you can get rid of the Goldman Sachs flunky who you've got running your country.

Canadians are stupid

It was only a week ago that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan announced that he was going to let domestic fuel prices go to international market levels.

Look at what has happened in Nigeria since! Riots, bombings, you name it. The Nigerian people aren't stupid. As Africa's biggest oil exporter the two-dollar-a-day folks in Nigeria, i.e. the 99%, don't understand why they should be paying $100 plus a barrel for the stuff that comes out of their ground for under ten dollars a barrel.

They're not fooled by that "invisible hand of the free market" bullshit.

Yet here in Canada, I have never in my lifetime heard the question raised  why we, unlike most oil exporting countries, are forced to pay the international price for a commodity that comes out of our own soil.

The question is not even on our radar.

Could it be because "our" oil sector is controlled lock stock and 50 gallon drum by foreign oil companies?

Could it be because our energy policy is written by the foreign oil companies that control our resources?

Community newspaper gets flak for advocating Obama assassination

Pity Andrew Adler. Andrew has been trying to make a go of his Atlanta Jewish Times for a few years now.

Andrew got way more attention than he bargained for with a little op-ed he wrote a couple weeks ago advocating the assassination of Obama.

If this advocacy had come from some right-wing redneck cracker nobody would bat an eye. But when it comes from something with the word "Jewish" in its name, its a huge deal.

I've never seen any evidence that Obama isn't just as firmly in AIPAC's pocket as any of his predecessors, so I certainly don't share Andrew's concern. He seems to be in thrall to that Likudist fringe that thinks any reluctance to nuke Iran RIGHT NOW is the equivalent of appeasement.

Anyway, poor Andrew has become the lightning rod for the usual anti-semitic crowd who now have "proof" of some sort of Jewish conspiracy.

I'm pretty sure that if Mr. Adler was privy to such a conspiracy he wouldn't have announced it in his newspaper.

NATO rebels run riot in Libya

With the help of thousands of bombing sorties by various NATO air forces our plucky rebels were able to rid their country of their eccentric dictator. Now it seems they're trying to get rid of their newly non-elected National Transitional Council.

A mob of rebels stormed the temporary parliament in Bengazi today. They're pissed off about being side-lined by the new non-elected leadership, most of whom have spent decades living in London and New York until returning recently to help unlock the secret of the missing Gadaffi billions.

As soon as that secret is unlocked most of them can be counted on to return to London and New York, which is what concerns the rebels. They seem to be catching on to the fact that they're just as much the victims of a massive screw-over as was Gadaffi himself.

The Gadaffi-era welfare state, by far the most comprehensive in Africa, lies in ruins. The rule of law, such as it was, is a distant memory. The NATO sugar daddy has found new preoccupations now that Libya's oil is secure.

Give these rebels a few more months and they'll all be Gadaffi loyalists again.

If Frederick got two beatings a day, how many beatings did he get in a week?

A schoolteacher in the American South lost his job this week for posing this question in a math assignment.

America lives in a state of constant denial.

Slavery? What slavery?

Slaves were never mistreated, especially since there were never any slaves to begin with.

All those black folks who came over from Africa in leg-irons were just the illegal immigrants of the day.

America bent over backwards to make them feel welcome. All that civil rights stuff in the '60's? Liberal propaganda!

Every patriotic American knows that the black folks who came over here to pick cotton had a way higher standard of living than the black folks who stayed in Africa.

It is indeed a sign of how far the communist teachers' unions have subverted the curriculum that such anti-American filth would find its way into a homework assignment.

The slaves got beatings? I say that commie teacher should get a good beating.

Such a slander on America can never be tolerated in the education of our children.

Wily carpetbagger charms pants off South Carolina

But will they regret it in the morning?

I love South Carolina. Myrtle Beach is my favorite winter vacation spot. You can golf in January. And prices are always reasonable, the people always friendly.

I'm guessing that Newt's sudden surge has a lot to do with the latest Adelson cash infusion and not that much with the good folks of South Carolina. Mind you, they are a forgiving lot.

They're big on that Christian virtue of forgiveness. They're ready to forgive Newt for dumping his first wife when she got a life-threatening illness. They're ready to forgive him for dumping his second wife when she got a life-threatening illness. Thankfully, wife number three has managed to hang onto her good health and her husband.

When wife number two showed up on prime time the other day, in an exercise obviously choreographed by the Romney campaign, to claim that  Newt doesn't have the moral fiber to be considered presidential material, South Carolina had already forgiven him.

Besides, what's moral fiber got to do with being President? When you think Bill Clinton, does the concept of "moral fiber" come to mind? What about W? I'm thinking not.

Or how about Strom Thurmond? Yes, he was a candidate for the White House once upon a time, when moral fiber was just being developed at Coker Experimental Farms right there in South Carolina. Ran on a platform of keepin' the neegra in his place.

Didn't get him to the White House but it kept him in the Senate for the next fifty years.

Sarkozy smells coffee, threatens to wake up

In a notable departure from prevailing practices, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called an immediate halt to French participation in training the Afghan Army after one of the trainees killed four French troops and wounded a further fifteen.

Normally these attacks, which are alarmingly frequent, are dismissed as the work of Taliban infiltrators and cited as evidence of desperation on the part of the enemy.

Since his ascent to the Presidency Sarkozy has tried to compensate for his diminutive stature by taking a Napoleonic strut across the world stage. He claims success for his interventions in Ivory Coast and Libya, although it will take many years for the nature of that "success" to be determined.

So why does this incident in Afghanistan have him threatening to pull out of the country altogether?

Because it's election time in France, that special time that comes around every few years in the western democracies when the leaders have to pretend that they bend to the will of the people!

And suddenly Sarkozy is a man of peace.

Another evil dictator unveiled as CIA asset

It's interesting how stories this juicy can become what are technically referred to as "yawners" in the journalism business.

The story of Charles Taylor starts off remarkably like that of Eddie Murphy's character in Coming to America. After a well-rounded liberal education in Boston area schools Charles was well on his way to becoming just another Massachusetts moderate when the hand of fate intervened.

The hand of fate in this case was the hand of Taylor's CIA handler, who thought Taylor might just be the kind of up-and-coming go-getter who might be helpful in doing God's work on the dark continent.

Taylor returned to Liberia and worked his way into the political elite. Not content with his CIA stipend he found himself on the run accused of embezzling millions of dollars from his impoverished country.

He found himself back in Boston where authorities locked him up pending extradition. He then masterminded the first ever successful escape from the Plymouth House of Correction, an escape he now claims was arranged by his CIA sponsors.

Returning again to Africa he pal'd up with the late Monster of the Maghreb to train a rebel army which he would use to overthrow the government of Liberia. From this point on he was working both for the CIA and Gadaffi simultaneously.

There followed one of the most vicious civil wars in history which took at least a quarter million lives in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and which was rampant with the most lurid human rights violations.

Child rape, child murder, cannibalism, hacking childrens' limbs off in front of their parents; it was all in a days work for our man in Africa. Sure enough, both the US and Gadaffi had put their money on a winning horse. In 1997 Taylor, still on the CIA payroll, became president of Liberia.

Today he's sitting in a cell in The Hague, in a trial that doesn't generate a lot of headlines on this side of the Atlantic.

Which is a shame, because it's a very compelling story.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Getting high in the holy land

Well here's a spot of good news.

Whether you're a Christian or a Jew, planning a trip to the land of Abraham and Moses and Jesus doesn't mean you won't be able to take a toke of the weed 'o wisdom.

In the course of planning my own trip to the land of our fore-fathers I've come up with a bit of useful info.

Everywhere you go you can get the best of the good stuff just by asking around a bit. But you have to exercise a bit of discretion.

When you're coming in to the airport at Tel Aviv, everybody is so cheery and helpful you wan't to assume they're all pot-friendly. Don't fall for it. This is not the time to ask about scoring a bag of weed.

In fact, don't be asking for a "bag" of anything. It marks you as a tourist who wants to pay top dollar. Even when you are a tourist who is happy to pay top dollar, it makes no sense to advertise the fact.

Take your time. Get to know the locals.

Good things will happen.

Do I really want that Bayliner 2452 HT?

One of the local boat shops has a 1992 Bayliner 24 hardtop on offer for a price I could probably swallow; twelve thou or thereabouts.

I've got a lot of questions. Can I trailer it behind my Ford F-150?

Can I afford to cruise anywhere after I gas it up?

Will she accomodate a two week camping trip through the north channel?

So if you've ever cruised the north channel in a 24 foot Bayliner, give me a shout.

Canada stakes future on legal marijuana

OK, it wasn't Canada per se; it was the Liberal Party at their national conclave last weekend.

Fresh from their banishment to the political wilderness under the leadership of that Harvard wanker last election, the Liberals have been casting about for a platform that will return them to relevance in the Canadian political universe.

Legalize pot? Why not?

It's an idea whose time has come and gone several times in the last fourty years. Remember the Le Dain commission? Legalize pot!

That was back in sixties if I remember correctly.

My best guess is that we'll be well into the twenty-sixties before anyone takes this seriously. The Liberal Party is coming up with this concept because they are for the time being relegated to the dung heap of history. The moment they extract themselves from the dung and become contenders again it'll be "good-bye legal pot and hello mandatory sentencing!"

At which point the electorate will fling them back to the dung heap.

The Paki Problem

Lost in all the ink that's been spilled about the grave threat that the nuclear ambitions of Iran pose to civilization is the fact that the towel-heads right next door already have nuclear weapons.

Listen to the GOP presidential wannabees. They out-do one another with tales of what they gonna do if Iran doesn't open up and spread her legs. Do they ever mention Pakistan?


Why do you suppose that might be? After all, towel-heads are towel-heads and nukes are nukes, are they not? Could it be that once you have nukes, ain't nobody gonna bother you?

That's why a number of high-ranking Israeli officials have opined that Iran would be insane if they weren't developing a nuclear weapon.

Pakistan is in turmoil today. Gilani and Zardari are both beholden to more stake-holders than they can count. Musharaff is threatening a come-back, or at least a coming back.

Whither Pakistan?

Israeli drones over Manhattan

According to Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, the New York Times is Israel's greatest enemy in the world.

My first reaction is, well, with enemies like that, guess you don't even need friends!

Greatest enemy? Holy shit, what has the supreme leader been smoking! That Bekaa valley contraband has obviously found its way into his inner sanctum.

Israel has many enemies. Hamas. Hezbolla. Those crazed towel-heads over in Tehran. Obama.

But the greatest enemy of all is the New York Times?

If I was Arthur Sulzberger I'd be taking this mighty seriously. After all, look what happened to Ahmed Yassin, who also had the "greatest enemy" tag put on him at one time. Old Ahmed probably thought, ya right, I'm an ancient fuck in a wheelchair, why would they bother me?

One American...oops, I mean Israeli Hellfire missile cured Old Ahmed and a dozen by-standers of that misconception.

So keep your head down, Sulzy!

Top court refuses to hear torture case as Harper prepares to lecture Chinese on human rights

The Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday refused to hear an appeal brought by three muslim Canadians who claim they were tortured in Syria and Egypt because of information provided by Canada.

As you know, Canada is a light unto the nations when it comes to human rights. No humans have more rights than the lucky humans who count themselves Canadians. We have even exported our superior moral code in the form of the R2P doctrine that was used as the official excuse for NATO's rape of Libya.

There are some Canadians who would quibble with this assessment of Canada's moral superiority, but every party needs a pooper, is what I say. Those Indians in Attawapiskat, for example, who'd be freezing to death in their home and native land right now were it  not for the intervention of the International Red Cross.

The Harper government  had them figured out right away as a bunch of malcontent whiners. Send food! Send fuel oil? We're freezing and starving!...

Well, if you are, the Harperites replied, you have no one to blame but your own lazy and corrupt selves. Just look at the money we have lavished on you!

Same deal with these muslims now making their extravagant claims about torture. And they are but the tip of the proverbial ice-berg, let me assure you. Please note that none of  these whiners claim to have been actually tortured in Canada! See what I mean? Our moral superiority remains intact.

No, we have adopted the out-sourcing model for torturing our nere-do-wells. We send our Arab malcontents to friendly Arab states for "enhanced interogation," along with a list of questions we would like the enhanced interogators to ask. Our  friends in Syria or Egypt or Libya do all the interogation, apply all the enhancements, and clean Canadian hands stay clean!

None of which is likely to impress the Chinese when PM Harper delivers his obligatory rant about human rights when he visits next month. Not human rights abuses in Canada, of course, but in China. He'll say just enough to get a few headlines back in Canada; Harper chastises Chinese on human rights record.

Then it'll  be on to the nitty gritty of the visit; Harper  pleads with Chinese to buy our dirty oil.

Achieving Peace on Earth one embargo-defying deal at a time

There’s a fascinating story on the Haaretz site this morning about Israeli businesses trading with various enemies of the state, including those ultimate purveyors of Mohamedan mayhem, the Iranians.

Forget the road map.

Forget the quartet.

And by all means, please forget God’s envoy for peace in the Middle East, Tony Blair.

Instead, put your hopes for humanity on people like Nachum Shiloh, who, recognizing that “not every Iranian wakes up in the morning thinking of ways to destroy Israel,” makes the observation that there’s a huge business community in Iran that just wants to do business with Israel.

At the same time, Professor Uri Bialer at Hebrew University skates uncomfortably close to an anti-semitic stereo-type when he notes that “there have always been Israelis with an eye for making money."

So, while the politicians on all sides are scrambling for headlines and photo-ops, the capitalists on all sides are busy doing business.

That always implies making connections. Getting to know the folks on the other side of the table. Maybe even sharing a glass of wine and a turn at the pipe.

Carry on, businessmen of the world; the future of humanity is in your hands.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

10 great reasons your teen needs a cell phone

  1. Peer pressure. Do you want your kid to be the only one in his or her class without a cell? That's a terrible burden of difference to  put on a child. Would you want them to be the only one in the class who is gay? Or a different color? Of course not. You don't have to worry about what their friends think, because without a cell they won't have any.
  2. Sexting. Is your fifteen year old daughter the only one in her class who isn't sending tittie-shots of herself to the boys on the football team? How is that supposed to make her feel?
  3. More sexting. What about your twelve year old son? Surely you don't want him to miss this dynamic stage of puberty? Besides, you'd be denying them the chance to chuckle at their youthful indiscretions when they're older.
  4. Getting dates. Everybody knows that without a cell your social life is colder than an Attiwapiskat winter. Why would a caring parent do this to a child?
  5. Cheating on exams. How is your kid gonna have a chance at the best schools when they can't cheat? There are 101 creative ways to use a smart-phone to enhance your child's academic performance. That's why they're called smart.
  6. Buying drugs. How do the kids know that Guido's got a new shipment of chrystal meth? Or Mustafa's uncle just sent him a pound of Bekaa Blonde from the old country? Texting, that's how! Do you want your kid to miss the fun?
  7. Flash mob looting. Three dozen kids from the high school are going to run wild in the Nike outlet at the mall. In and out in 45 seconds. Timing is everything! It's impossible to be in on the cool if you don't have a cell.
  8. Cyber-bullying. Sure, it might be possible to join the fun on an old-school laptop, but lets face it, nothing says "I'm way cool" louder than when you do your bullying on the latest smart phone. If there's a gay kid in grade nine who isn't on suicide watch yet, the other kids obviously don't have the right tools.
  9. If your kid's aren't cool they're setting themselves up to be bullied themselves. Or rather, YOU"RE setting them up to be bullied. Is that the kind of parent you want to be?
  10. Last but not least, your kid needs a cell because the future of the cellphone industry absolutely depends on having vast swaths of the public convinced that they need them. There's no more gullible  swath of the market than teens, and the guilt-ridden parents who constantly give in to whatever their kids demand should keep the smart-phone wars raging for generations to come.

You want the best for your children, don't you? Sign up for a plan now. And don't be cheap about it. Ya, I know you can get some "plans" for twenty bucks a month, but that will just make your kid the laughing stock of his or her peer group. Is that what you want?

Get them unlimited everything to show you really love them. If you're not spending at least $200 a month on your kids cell plan, you're not really a caring parent, are you?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Putin saves Alaska

I really wish the big boys in the news business would give more attention to a story like this.

But no. Instead, you'll see "Putin destroys Russia." "Putin destroys democracy in Russia." "Putin the destroyer wrecks democracy in Russia." and so on. It's everywhere. Just a couple weeks ago the New York Times had no less than three feature articles in the Sunday edition about all the bad stuff Putin does.

So here's a little story about international cooperation at a moment of need. Seems the town of Nome Alaska didn't get it's usual pre-winter fuel delivery this year because of bad weather. I know! Shocker or what!? There's bad autumn storms in the north Pacific in November? Since when?

The Obama regime realizes that nobody in the lower 48 gives a shit about Alaska, especially after the Palin experience. But if the 3,500 souls who call Nome home freeze to death this winter, it's gonna make for some bad PR.

Now they have a problem. The most powerful empire that history has ever seen cannot scare up the resources to deliver fuel to Nome. We have what, twelve carrier battle groups? And every one of them and their hundreds of support ships are busy fighting the war on terror,  the war on drugs, the war on drug-smuggling terrorists, and the war on terrorists who smuggle drugs just for fun because that's what terrorists do in their spare time till they get the call from Jihad Central about their martyrdom mission.

Oh, and patrolling the Strait of Hormuz in case the towellers get too uppity.

So America is forced of necessity to turn to the evil Putin to lease a Russian ship to deliver oil to Alaska.

Delivering a load of oil to the west coast of Alaska has never before been attempted in the dead of winter. But those Russians, along with a US Coast Guard icebreaker, just did the impossible. They saved the town of Nome. It's a beautiful story of international cooperation. Should become a movie of the week if not a full length feature.

But it won't. That might make the Russians look human.

Beer-swilling blogger scoops major media outlets again

Well we’re clinking glasses all round here at Falling Downs today. The more erudite readers will already recognize the prescient nature of the insights generated by our unique brain trust.  We had Libyan missiles going through the Gaza tunnels months before major Israeli media picked up the story.

We miss the odd one too… turns out Gadaffi wasn’t really having a chess tournament with Shalit after all. But overall, this blog has a pretty interesting track record of getting on a story long before the professional journalism community even catches a wiff.

Why is it? Well, for starters we’re smarter. Secondly, we have better weed. Thirdly, we’re already unemployed so we don’t have to worry about losing our jobs if we give offence.

Back in October we brought you The Eurocrisis: guaranteeing massive profits for the bond vulture funds.  Almost three months later a major alternative news aggregator brings you this story:

There is mounting evidence that some of these investment funds are not even original lenders, but have bought Greek debt cheaply after the economic crisis had already hit precisely in order to be able to blackmail the country. Elsewhere in the world Jubilee Debt Campaign has called these companies ‘vultures’ – funds which buy up the debts of a crisis-hit country for small amounts of money, in order to be able to make large profits.
German daily Der Spiegel estimates that ‘speculative investors’ could account for an enormous €50 billion of Greek debt. Bloomberg reported that a fund called Saba Capital Management bought Greek debt at a price suggesting a 75% chance of default. Reuters reports the likelihood that funds have been “building up their positions in the past months” buying debt for 40% face value, and that the “bet had already worked for some funds” as Greece has paid out on smaller debts to get rid of the claims.

Who knew those journalists at Der Spiegel read The View from Falling Downs. Now if we could just convince them and their huge budgets to follow up on some of our other stories. 

Was Jimmy Hoffa’s last ride really in a salami delivery truck?

NATO rebels in Libya now fighting for pussy

So what’s going on in the world of our Libyan rebels these days?

There’s a certain paucity of news, wouldn’t you agree?

The BBC took a brief peek behind the curtain of silence with a short story on their evening newscast last night.

Seems the various rebels are still fighting one another. Every faction is on the side of freedom, of course, and the guys they’re shooting at are hard-core Gadaffi loyalists. This will be going on till they run out of ammo, which could take years.

In the meantime, the new normal in Libya seems to be, well, gangs of armed men shooting at other gangs of armed men.

Then the reporter cuts to an interview with some hapless “senior commander” who complains that it’s impossible to get the gangs of armed men to follow orders. Good luck with that!

Then we’re out in the field, interviewing the leader of a group of armed men who apparently have another group of armed men holed up in some little town near Tripoli. The leader, kitted out in a natty uniform topped off with a jaunty red beret, tells the reporter they won’t let up till they get what they want.

“And what is it you want?” enquires the reporter.

“We want their women!”

And that’s what the struggle for freedom and democracy has come down to in Libya.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Can Sean Penn save Haiti?

A couple of lifetimes ago I had a job producing a little propaganda tract for the University of Guelph that was intended to brag up the school's role in international development.

Part of my job involved interviewing University big shots, smug Rolex-wearing twats who spent most of their time flying off to United Nations' conferences on the taxpayers dime, and whose interest in the worlds' poor extended no further than how another study about them would enhance their career.

The more I learned about "international development" the more I became convinced that most of the so-called developing world would be better off if we cleared the hell out and allowed them to proceed with development at their own pace and in their own way.

While there are occasional exceptions, I still believe this is the case today.

That's why I'm a little bit conflicted about the news that Sean Penn has been named Haiti's "Ambassador at Large."

In the two years since the great earthquake, Sean Penn has made Haiti aid and reconstruction his life's work. I have no doubt about his sincerity.

He's practically lived in the country and invested plenty of his own money and time. He's a genuine A-list Hollywood star who neither needs nor seeks the PR that is so often associated with the charity efforts of the rich and famous.

His past record of activism further enhances his bona fides. Sean Penn has spoken out consistently for human rights of every stripe. He was one of the most high-profile protesters against the Iraq war.

Yet, I have to wonder, is he really helping the Haitians? The Haitian elite have more than enough resources to fix Haiti if they were so inclined, which by and large they have more than proven themselves not to be. Haiti's elite see their country as a cash cow to be milked in perpetuity.

As long as that elite controls the country, aid is little more than a subsidy that allows them to shirk their responsibilities to their own people. It further entrenches the dependency that is already endemic in Haitian culture.

When the Haitian people democratically elected a president who the elite saw as a threat, they called in their cronies in the US and France and Canada to have him removed, a request we were happy to oblige. We're not that keen on democratically elected leaders if they might upset the status quo and threaten "our" interests, which happen to coincide with the interests of the indigenous elite.

In short, we are interested in profits before people.

Ninety miles across the Caribbean lies the reason American policy makers need to keep Haiti down: Cuba.

Cuba chose a different road fifty years ago: people before profits. That's just not the American way. And Washington has suffered fifty years of acute paranoia over the possibility that Cuba's example might inspire Haitians to reject our capitalist model and try something else.

So can Sean Penn make a difference?

No, he's just another well-intentioned dupe propping up the status quo.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

How I got fired from Dick Cheney's war profiteering empire of evil

OK, I have to admit I'm stretching things a bit here.

But that's a time-honored tradition amongst headline writers in the mainstream press. If a bit of confabulation is good enough for the New York Times, what the hell, it's good enough for The View From Falling Downs.

I got fired from Dresser Industries about 10 years before Cheney became CEO of Halliburton and 15 years before Halliburton bought Dresser. But hang in there; it's a good story.

Before I'd been at Dresser I did a spell at an outfit called Kearney National. The president of Kearney National was a guy named Freeman Spracklin.

This was an era when manufacturing plants in Southern Ontario adhered to what might be called a traditional stratification. The plant manager was usually some guy who had done military service and was discharged with some middling rank. He was invariably British or a first or second generation spawn of Brit immigrants.

The office folks were white and Anglo.

The shop floor was an assortment of Pollocks and Wops, Squareheads and Jamaicans, with an occasional working class Canadian thrown in for good measure.

I spent an entire summer of my employment at Kearney National, a manufacturer of electrical switch-gear, painting Freeman Spracklin's house. I was a welder. I guess this is one of the fringe benefits you don't have to declare when you're a big dog.

Get the niggers to paint your house on the company's dime.

Anyway, one of my fellow painters called up to the big house was a guy named Cheech Contini. Me and Cheech were like brothers. We both liked to toss back a few. We both had illustrious family connections.

Me, well I've told you about the connection to the Von Trapp Family Singers. It's in the blog. Look it up. Let's just say the Captain wasn't quite what he's made out to be in the movie.

In Cheech's case, the family connections were reputed to be to that other "family" of Italian folklore. You know the ones.

So all good things come to an end and the welding/painting the CEO's house gig did too.

Couple years later, I land a gig at Dresser, and holy shit, there's Cheech!

Cheech is raving about the place. He's got himself a sweet spot in shipping. Writes his own overtime ticket! He's also a shop steward! Not only that, but his brother Tony is President of the Steelworkers Local that represents the workforce!

So, I'm thinking, happy days are here for good. Stay tight with my Italian friends and this could be my dream of early retirement come true!

Little did I realize that uncontrollable forces were working behind the scenes. The Dresser plant built overhead cranes and oil rigs. Business was booming. The company had actually gone to England to recruit Brit steelworkers from Glasgow and Sheffield by the dozens with promises of ten years of work. Guaranteed!

Then the commie-symp Trudeau brings in his National Energy Policy and the entire oil rig side goes for a shit literally overnight.

The Brits got lay-off notices and eventually launched a class action lawsuit.

I got called into the office on the last day of my 90 days probation and was told my services were no longer required. One more day and I could have been part of the class action.

So here's the good part. Under union rules the shop stewards are the last to get the lay-off. The Dresser plant hobbled along for a couple of years with a skeleton crew of half a dozen workers to finish off outstanding contracts - at which point shop stewards outnumbered workers by a ratio of 3:1!

Tony was the very last to go.

Rumor has it that he managed to hang on for a couple of years as Local President even after there were absolutely no workers left in the plant for him to represent, and Dresser eventually offered him a generous buyout just to get him the hell out of there.

Good for him!