Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Alberta Legislature: Scumbags, Holodomor and Property Rights

There was a debate in the Legislature today (29 Nov 2011) regarding landowner property rights. There is no doubt that at least 4 of the bills passed in the Stelmach era went too far by removing basic landowner rights, eliminating public consultation and removing the appeal process.

Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman was talking in circles about the evils of these bills, when he veered off into an analogy to European history and the Ukrainian genocide of 1932, also known as the Holodomor.

Here's what he said as recorded in Hansard:

I mean, when you look at Europe, it's interesting. They still have vivid memories of the starvation. We just had a ceremony on Monday in commemoration of Holodomor, the starvation in Europe. That wasn't because of bad weather or not being able to produce. That was, again, an evil, corrupt government confiscating property from the people and trying to take that to destroy a region which the government was having difficulty controlling. [interjection] It's interesting that the Education minister wants to ask if that's for real when many of the acts that were taken inEurope during World War II and other times very much were brutal acts that didn't respect property rights. There are many areas in these bills that have no respect for property rights. When you step down that trail, we can see the end results, and we don't want to go there, not even one step, here in Alberta. Yet many government members seem to pride themselves on this and say: “We know best. We'll put it in cabinet. Cabinet will make those decisions.” It's just wrong, Mr. Chair. That's the last place we want those decisions to be made. What happens when cabinet makes those decisions is that they become political decisions, and political decisions are rarely in the interest of the people. They're usually more in the interest of a party in retaining and holding that power.
A bit of an offensive comparison I think, and by the way, it's the same inflammatory rhetoric that many far right people use to talk about gun registries, wheat boards and the state broadcaster.  Liberals are really just Communists, after all, and they're coming for you. 

Thomas Lukaszuk, the education minister, rose on a point of order (inflammatory language) and had this response:

Mr. Chairman, before we get to the amendment, I would like to rise on a point of order under section 23(h) of our standing orders, using language that entices, I believe it is, a disorder in the House. The hon. Member for Calgary-Glenmore about three or four minutes ago in his comments made a statement that I was hoping
initially I was mishearing. Then he repeated it several times, so without a possibility of denial he said exactly what I think I heard. I know what he said. Mr. Chairman, he compared the Alberta government's land-use policies legislation to the atrocities and genocide of Holodomor in Ukraine. What he's doing is comparing
polices that we're passing in this Legislature right now to Stalin's genocide during the 1930s in Ukraine, known as Holodomor, which killed somewhere between 6 million and 10 million people. If this isn't reaching a new bottom for the Wildrose, I don't know what is.

Neither do I. It's a complete low point.  Unethical and unparliamentary.   My guess is that Hinman knew the Ukrainian reference would get under the skin. It was a targeted reference. The Wildrose view of property rights excludes any type of public or government interest in infrastructure planning. In their world, there would be no environmental laws, and probably not much public infrastructure.

The question is the restoration of the balance between private and public rights.  The government went too far in removing rights and remedies from landowners. If you've read my blog, you'll know I support almost nothing this government has done, and I don't really expect the new Premier will do much about this issue. She is just as obligated to industry groups as her predecessors.

Full hansard of the debate is here. If you're on Twitter, the debate was raging there this evening.  Check the #ableg hashtag.

Please recommend this post

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Amazon Gift Giving

Amazon's product page for Pepper Spray is getting seriously owned right now. I didn't know Amazon sold Pepper Spray. It's not really funny, but it's good to see people react to such a poor recommendation for Christmas shopping.

via the Political Carnival

Please recommend this post

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hijacking Penn State

As if the tragedy at Penn State wasn't bad enough in and of itself, people with unrelated axes to grind are now using it to get attention.

1.  A spokesman for an anti-gay hate group blames gay men and homosexuality for the alleged sexual assault(s) at Penn State.  By repeating the old lie about how pedophilia is linked to homosexuality they managed to suck up a considerable amount of media attention.  Actually, this myth doesn't need to be debunked, as such, because there has never been any real scientific research to support the claim.  Some might disagree with me, but I've come to believe that any kind of social science analysis or theory offered by religious groups is completely worthless.

2.  Some climate change denialists who have been engaged in long term harassment of Penn State researcher Michael Mann have linked the sex scandal to Mann's research.  I'm not even sure I understand the logic here, but it seems to be something like...because Penn State had governance problems as seen in the alleged sexual abuse scandal, therefore the prevailing climate change science must be wrong.  Oh, that hurt my brain.

Because in the fractured minds of these people the victims don't really matter.  They are only props, used to further narrow misguided ideological crusades.

Off topic, but speaking of religion and social science I found this article about Michael Pearl, a Christian dominionist author who advocates beating children as young  as a few months old. The article is written by Frank Schaeffer who knows his way around these circles.  I was reading about this before on a few christian mommy blogs. It's really kind of scary.

Please recommend this post

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Two Canadian Artists

Doris McCarthy was a Calgary born visual artist and author, but spent most of her life in Scarborough Ontario.  She had a bit of a thing for icebergs, which is fine by me because I love northern landscape art. Pictured below, Iceberg Fantasy #40.

Kananginak Pootoogook (1935-2010) was an Inuit artist who worked in etching and stone sculpture. Pictured below Five Seabirds (2005)
Please recommend this post

Polanski's 'The Pianist'

A very good movie.  Mostly based on the memoirs of Wladyslaw Szpilman a classical pianist who managed to survive the Warsaw Ghetto and the holocaust. Parts of the story came from Roman Polanski's childhood memories of Poland during the war.  These type of movies are so heartbreaking.

Please recommend this post

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"I promise to eliminate some important Government agencies whose names escape me right at the moment. "   All the pundits I've been reading are saying this is the end of the line for the Hair from Texas. Time will tell, dumbness never rules anyone out of high office.

Krugram seems to think it's over, and references Molly Ivan.  I remember her column about Perry a few years ago. Please recommend this post

Quote of the Day

I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.” - Joe Paterno
After learning that he and Penn State university President Graham Spanier were fired immediately over their handling of a sex abuse scandal.

CNN Story

Please recommend this post

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

What the Mayor Said

Story Here. Please recommend this post

How to Make Rob Anders Look Sane

In addition to being a part-time pollster, Dean Del Mastro is also an amateur bishop.

Dean Del Mastro, the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, said on Facebook last month that it was “outrageous” the Catholic school board in Peterborough, Ont. had invited Trudeau to speak for a second time in three years. “If they are looking for a truly great speaker, who also happens to be Catholic, perhaps they might invite [Immigration] Minister Jason Kenney,” Mr. Del Mastro wrote on Oct. 12. “Are there any tenets of the Catholic faith that Justin supports?”

Because Justin Trudeau is a good speaker and communicates well with young people. Not everything can be explained by politics and pedigrees.  Jason Kenney would bore those poor kids to death, or possibly leave them with some kind of unnatural fear and loathing.

Please recommend this post

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Harper's Undiplomatic Behavior

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is on a trade mission in Brazil right now. He caused a bit of a diplomatic problem by acting like a five year old. Here is my rough translation/paraphrase of the story as reported in a Brazilian Newspaper.

The Original is here.

Title: Canadian Prime Minister goes to the bathroom waiting for demands to be met.

The Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, has caused an embarrassment in Brazilian diplomacy on Monday, demanding a change in the protocol and only going to the banquet hall for lunch with the President, after meeting President Dilma Roussef first.

Speeches and toasts are common in this type of event, and can be both before and after lunch. Dilma preferred them later, but Harper made sure they were done before the guests start eating at the meeting yesterday. He did not explain why.

He had already angered aides and diplomats at the Presidential Palace, telling reporters that he would speak there, breaking the rule that such interviews always occur in the Foreign Ministry.

Brazil denied this request. Harper then went to the Foreign Ministry, for lunch, visible angry, and demanding the cancellation of the of the toasts. Then he locked himself in the private bathroom of Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota while waiting for an answer.

Bewildered, Brazilian diplomats did not know what to do, whether to heed the wishes of the Brazilian President, or surrender to the whims of the Canadian Prime Minister.

Only when it was confirmed that he would be obliged, did Harper proceed to the hall where the banquet took place. Lunch was palm heart salad, guinea hen and "pineapple delight". Toasts were made with wines.

Although the Canadian Embassy was surprised by these events, they confirmed the story with the diplomats who were at lunch, and who were in agreement with the distress of their (Brazilian) colleagues, who tried to resolve the impasse.

The lunch was scheduled for 1PM, and the next meeting of the President was the induction of former Foreign Minister Celso Amorim as new defense minister.

Corrections appreciated.

Please recommend this post

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Should University Athletes Get Private Chaplains?

Via Pharyngula:

The University of Iowa is using University funds to hire a Christian chaplain to minister to the needs of the school’s football team. It’s not hard to see how patriotism, athleticism and religion all get stirred into the same pot. It’s a potent cocktail as well as a huge industry.

An online poll at a radio station asked viewers if they favoured the University creating this position. Prior to the Pharyngula blog post it was running at 60% yes, but after…98% against.

Oh well. Myers' blog has a huge following and they tend to crush polls now and again. But I would seriously like to know how many people in Iowa favour a public university creating this position. Please recommend this post

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Minnesota Archbishop: Opposing Marriage Equality Is Not Anti-Gay

Via ThinkProgress:

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt: “The Minnesota Catholic Conference, made up of the seven Catholic bishops from the state, support this amendment not for prejudicial or political reasons, but rather for reasons that are theological, biological and pastoral.”

(Original news item.)

Lets assume for a second that the Archbishop's homophobia is not born of prejudicial or political reasons (which no intelligent person would believe for a second). That leaves his pseudo-humanist argument that it's about theology biology, and pastoral authority or care.

Theology isn't a useful factor here because there are many different theologies. Some theologies actually acknowledge the whole person and accept gay people as equal and normal. Shock! Aside from that theology is a useless guideline for public policy.

Biology has no relevance to gay marriage, or the legalization of it. The Archbishop still thinks he lives in a world where his distortions of modern science are actually relevant to society at large.

That leaves us with Pastoral authority or care. This only applies to Catholics. Leave the rest of us and public policy out of it.

(Shakes angry atheist fist up to the sky) Please recommend this post