Archive for January, 2008

Communist Party of Canada leader to speak in Ottawa tomorrow

While I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of the Communist Party, I did nevertheless have an opportunity two years ago to hear Miguel Figueroa, leader of the Communist Party of Canada, speak at an event and I was thoroughly impressed. Thus, I was very pleased to learn that Figueroa (and possibly some others) will be talking and taking questions at Carleton University in Ottawa tomorrow, Monday January 28.

The event starts at 7pm in room 134 Unicentre at Carleton University. I’m going to be in attendance, so if any Ottawa comrades, bloggers or people who are quasi-left wing, even if not officially identifying as Marxist or Communist, wish to hear a very affable and likable speaker talk and/or would like to meet with me in person, please feel free to come on out.

My (limited) impression of Figueroa and Stu Ryan (perennial Communist Party candidate in Ottawa Centre who I imagine will also be attending) is that they are definitely not anything like those who used to run the CPC which everyone on the far left used to love to hate.

Hope to see some of you there!

Bush names terrorist sympathizer as new ambassador to Nicaragua

A database search of all mainstream news outlets suggests that this announcement has gone completely unreported in both the United States media (source) and the Canadian media (source), however some publications in Europe published the story.

The story, in case you missed it because you don’t read the European press, is that U.S. president George W. Bush has just appointed Robert Callahan as the United State’s Ambassador to Nicaragua.  Callahan was John Negroponte’s (the former Ambassador to Honduras) right hand man, spokesman and speachwriter while the two were co-ordinating the operations of the Contras in Nicaragua during the 1980s.

Some background information:

-The World Court ruled in their 1986 verdict in the case of Nicaragua v. United States, what the whole world already knew:  that the Contras constituted an illegal terrorist movement and that the United States had violated international law by funding the Contras.  The World Court ordered the United States to pay reparations to Nicaragua; reparations which the United States has refused to this day to pay.

-Callahan and Negroponte were co-ordinating terrorist activity from the embassy of Honduras, launching attacks against Nicaragua from the diplomatic immunity of a foreign embassy — itself an illegal act.

Injury:  Naming an internationally-recognized terrorist sympathizer as ambassador to the country he used to help terrorize.

Adding insult to injury:  When Callahan was operating against Nicaragua’s government during the 1980s, his boss’s efforts were centred around trying to overthrow and/or assissinate then-Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega.  Guess who was just elected Nicaragua’s president last January after a long hiatus?  Answer:  Daniel Ortega.

Usually ambassadors are formally ‘received’ by the head of state of the recipient country.  How awkward will that introduction be:  “Hi.  You don’t remember me, but I worked hard to try to illegally topple your democratically-elected government and assissinate you while I was stationed in Honduras in the 1980s.  How do you do?”

What’s next?  Bush to appoint Orlando Bosch and Posada Carriles as co-ambassadors to Cuba? 

Is Harper trying for a record? 3 instances of hypocrisy in 3 weeks.

For your consideration: Three items of hypocrisy from the government of Canada all occurring in the past three weeks.

Item #1:  Organ donation = good.  Gay organ donation = bad.

canadian-conservatism-homophobia.png

According to the CBC, Canada’s Conservative government changed a federal government policy in order to forbid homosexuals from donating organs.  The catch?  There’s four of them:

a) The government of Canada neglected to tell key groups and medical professionals involved in minor, unrelated fields — fields such as organ donation — that the organ donation laws had been changed.

b) The government of Canada is still willing to accept homosexual women’s healthy organs, just not homosexual men’s healthy organs.

c) The government of Canada is still willing to accept homosexual men’s healthy organs provided they abstain from homosexual activity for a period of 5 years (although our gay brothers can take solace from the fact that, presumably,  the government has no problem with them engaging in ‘relations’ with women during said five year period).

d) The government of Canada is still willing to accept without question wildly promiscuous heterosexual men and women’s organs as well as the organs of heterosexual couples who engage in anal sex.

Item #2:  Canada opts out of UN global anti-racism conference because… racism will be discussed.

The government of Canada just announced that it will not be attending the annual UN global anti-racism conference because one possible topic will be:  anti-Arab racism and specifically anti-Arab racism in Israel.

The catch?  Talking about the racism of our enemies towards us and our allies is fine and good and worthwhile.  Talking about the racism of our allies towards our enemies is beyond the pale, a waste of time and, to quote a government official, a “gong show”.  Incidentally, the government isn’t alone on this front.  Former Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler aptly summed up the party line of both major parties in Canada when he said last year, with a straight face and unquestioned by the mainstream media that:

“the most virulent of hatreds [is] namely, anti-Semitism.” (source)

more-equal-than-others.pngThus, hatred isn’t all equal.  Hatred towards our allies is the “most virulent of hatreds” while hatred of our enemies is somehow less “virulent” or horrendous.

Or perhaps we’re just reading too much into this.  Perhaps all hatreds are equal but some are just more equal than others?

Item #3:  Canada says threatening the world with nuclear weapons is unacceptable…. except when we do it.

Last April, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated publicly and unequivocally that given  “the kind of values it [Iran] stands for…  I think our allies have a completely legitimate case in being concerned about a regime like that gaining access to nuclear weapons.” (source)

dr-strangelove.pngSeems reasonable.  The government of Canada would never support an offensive, bellicose regime having nuclear weapons.  It’s true that our allies may have nuclear weapons, but they would never be offensive or bellicose with them nor would they threaten to use them except, as has been official policy since the end of the Cold War, in retaliation against a nuclear attack.

The catch?

It turns out that an official NATO panel consisting of highest-level representatives from our nuclear-equipped allies (representatives including Britain’s former Chief of Staff Field Marshal the Lord Inge and the United States’ former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Shalikashvili) have just released a NATO policy document advocating a more aggressive, bellicose and offensive nuclear weapons stances for NATO.  This policy document includes reversing long-standing NATO policy and advocating in favour of first-strike, pre-emptive nuclear strategies for NATO.  The dossier also advocates “the use of force without UN security council authorisation” under some circumstances (source, source, source)dr-strangelove-2.png

Just as an aside, if a panel of Iran’s highest officials and generals just advocated Iran adopt such a position towards us, how do you suppose the North American media would react?  Do suppose maps would still bother depicting a chunk of land called “Iran” located in between Iraq and Afghanistan?

.

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See also:

Propaganda in Action: The Iranian Hostage Crisis

Propaganda In Action: Canada as a force for peace in the world

Is socialism violent or is liberalism hypocritical?

The hypocrisy of anti-copyright campaigns

Israeli lobby group has begun to pay students to agree with Israeli policy

What’s more powerful: Blogs or the mainstream media?

What’s More Powerful: Blogs or the Mainstream Media?

A funny thing happened the other day, for those of you who missed it. I had just come home from a long trip to our friendly neighbours to the South and I posted a quick little blog post to let my regular readers know that I’d returned. My plans were to wake up the following day and write the blog post that I’d planned to write on the occasion of my 100,000th hit which I received sometime on Christmas Eve while I was away.

Well, it turns out that I missed my 100,000th hit (which took 1 year, 1 month and 4 days to achieve).

And my 200,000th hit (which took about 16 hours to achieve).

And my 300,000th hit (which took about 14 hours to achieve).

So I figured that now was as good a time as any to reflect on blogs as an institution by comparing the power of blogs to the power of the mainstream media.

A quick comparison of the reach of blogs versus the mainstream media results in some interesting findings.

Let’s start with just this blog here, which is as far from being a widely read blog. In the past 48 hours, this blog received approximately 240,000 hits. While it is impossible to draw direct comparisons because some of those hits were undoubtedly repeat hits just as it is also true that some of people will leave their television set on while they are not paying attention or have left the room. But, ignoring those caveats, what does that compare to in terms of the viewership of mainstream media broadcasts?

Breakdown according to the 2006 year-end Neilsen Media Research report.

240,000 is a greater reach than the total viewship of the following top-rated TV programmes (in 2006):

THE ABRAMS REPORT on MSNBC (238,000 average viewers)

MSNBC LIVE on MSNBC (207,000 average viewers)

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on Headline News (170,000 average viewers)

THE MOST on MSNBC (196,000 average viewers)

ROBIN & COMPANY on Headline News (198,000 average viewers)

CNN HEADLINE NEWS on Headline News (190,000 average viewers)

PRIME NEWS W/ ERICA HILL on Headline News (184,000 average viewers)

MAD MONEY on CNBC (158,000 average viewers)

THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON on MSNBC (128,000 average viewers)

BIG IDEA WITH DONNY DEUTSCH on CNBC (138,000 average viewers)

COVER TO COVER on CNBC (118,000 average viewers)

THE SUZE ORMAN SHOW on CNBC (118,000 average viewers)

Now, keep in mind, that’s just this relatively insignificant blog.

When we expand our search, we see some interesting statistics. Even if we ignore all independently hosted blogs, as well as all blogs hosted at blogspot and other popular blog hosts and focus only on all the blogs hosted at WordPress.com (including this blog), it isn’t even a contest.

Bill O’Reilly’s popular programme The O’Reilly Factor averages 2,094,000 viewers per night. O’Reilly’s programme runs 5 days a week (when he’s not defending himself against sexual harassment charges from his co-workers). Assuming O’Reilly takes two weeks off per year, that translates to approximately 523,500,000 total viewers per year (keeping in mind that those who watch his show regularly would be counted separately for every time they tune in)

Here is the data on only the blogs hosted by wordpress for the month of November alone:

416 million pageviews for blogs hosted with WordPress.com, and another 169 million on blogs hosted with WordPress.org. Total: 585 million pageviews. (source)

So all of the blogs on just one of the blog hosting sites, in one month alone exceed the total annual viewership of Mr. O’Reilly’s #1 ranked television programme by 62 million.

When we compare the two in terms of annual reach, we see the following results.

blogs-versus-oreilly.png

So the question remains as to how long the mainstream media can continue pretending that blogs are insignificant? I believe I’ve shown the evidence to the contrary to be abundant.

Top 5 things I saw in America which, as a Canadian, freaked me right out

I’m back from my vacation down in the United States, and will return to blogging with regularity as soon as possible.

To celebrate my return to this frigid, yet comparatively sane country, I felt it worthwhile to relay a list of five items which I saw during my travels which the locals thought was perfectly normal (I presume), but which freaked the heck out of me as a Canadian.

#5

A trucking company which hauls all manner of freight throughout the deep south of the U.S. which calls itself a “Christian company” (the very idea of which seems as bizarre to me as a “Christian dog”) and which requires that its trucks to carry religious and political messages. The messages I saw included:
It’s not a choice, it’s a child
and
God loved us so that he gave his only son.

#4

A breakfast creation in upstate New York called “Stuffed French Toast”. What does “Stuffed French Toast” entail, you naïve non-American might ask? It’s French Toast (which, keep in mind is cooked in butter) stuffed with bacon, eggs and processed cheese (which they proudly call ‘American processed cheese’, I presume, to distinguish it from real cheese which could, after all, be French and/or offer unAmerican nutritional content). But here’s the kicker: on top of your “Stuffed French Toast” cooked in butter, you will find… a square of butter.

#3

A massive billboard in South Carolina just outside of Georgia which read:
“Victory is great, but honor is greater. Defend your Southern heritage.”

#2

A letter to the editor pasted proudly on a business door in Key Marathon, Florida by the business owner discussing how immigrants today are a disgrace to immigrants from the start of the 20th Century. The letter details how people need to read history because in 1901, when the business owner’s grandfather came to the country, he didn’t ask for any government handouts like modern immigrants are asking for. So modern, non-English-speaking immigrants are greedier than the immigrants from 100 years ago and thus do not recognize the value of hard work and don’t appreciate why America is great. (I’m not concocting a straw man here, this is, as best as I can recall, the structure of the argument). Apparently, nobody told the letter-writer that in 1901 NOBODY got government handouts (other than cheap land which WAS aimed at immigrants) because there weren’t significant government social programs until after World War II.
I guess the purpose of the letter was for other people to read history, not for the letter writer to read history.

#1

Casa D’ice, a restaurant located near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which features political messages as their signature claim to fame.  Among the political messages they put up under their restaurant’s name and proudly reproduced on their website include:

 outside_sign001.jpg

outside_sign007.jpg

 outside_sign009.jpg

 outside_sign019.jpg

 outside_sign011.jpg

 outside_sign047.jpg


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