Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Limbaugh on Coulter

Since this is the first time I've agreed with Limbaugh on anything important, I thought I would post what he had to say:

RUSH: I’ve met Ann Coulter a number of times. I can say that I know her, and she is decent, and she’s funny. Dirty little secret here, Ari: She actually doesn’t mind this at all. She’s in the front page, above-the-fold in the local newspaper. Everybody around the world is talking about this, and she has successfully illustrated just what a bunch of bigots there are at this university. So this is something that she’s out there laughing about. This hasn’t even happened at the stupidest American university, as she says. Ari, I’m glad you called. Thank you very much.

Ann Coulter played the University of Ottawa like a virtuoso. The university could have let her come, speak to a few hundred people, then leave. Instead, it got into a shit-flinging match with someone who has a much bigger podium. Provost Francois Houle and student union president Seamus Wolfe have a tin ear for media, and, in their efforts to be big men on campus have done serious harm to the world-wide reputation of the University of Ottawa. Coulter will go on to the next dust-up (they're her stock in trade) but we members of the University of Ottawa community will have to live with the damage caused by Houle and Wolfe.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Other People's Troubles

I've been getting a steady strem of e-mail from people telling me that a guy I used to fight with on the Internet is having marital problems. Well, you can stop sending me this stuff, guys. Not my business. I don't want to know.
Look, lots of marriages have problems. Sometimes, bumps in the road -- even serious ones -- occur, and people still work out their differences. That's always the outcome that I hope for, especially when there are kids involved.
If a marriage has, indeed, foundered, well, that's none of my business. I just hope everyone extricates themselves with the least amount of collateral damage.
Is it news? Only if it's a PM's wife going berzerk in public. Otherwise, well, it's just another drag, just another bummer in a world where lawyers rarely starve.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Goin' Fishin'

It's March Break, and we're going out of town for a week. The Hill is pretty much mired in the same tedium that gripped it last fall. When I get back, I'll analyze some of the legislative decisions Harper's government has taken since the House returned.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Peter Woodcock, March 5, 1939-March 5, 2010

Yes, Peter Woodcock died on his own birthday.
Who was he?
In my childhood, he was the bogeyman. My parents actually warned me, when I was little, that there were bad people like him around. I remember, as a three or four-year-old, riding past the CNE grounds and my father pointing and saying "that's where the guy killed the little kid."
And Woodcock killed another boy at Cherry Beach. A few months later, he murdered a little girl under the Bloor Viaduct. He was caught a few days later and sent to the old hospital for the criminally insane at Penetang. Woodcock was 16 years old.
I was born the week he was sentenced, and he spent every day of my life in custody. That institutionalization was relaxed in the early 1990s. Staff of the Brockville hospital where Woodcock was held took him to the Smiths Falls railway museum to indulge his train fetish. They took him to see Silence of the Lambs.
Then they decided he was ready for escorted day passes with friends. His first escort was Bruce Hamill, a murderer who had been released from Penetang. On their first day out, they butchered Dennis Kerr, a Brockville psychiatric patient. Woodcock had convinced Hamill that an alien brotherhood would solve all his problems in return for Kerr's sacrifice.
Woodcock had a persuasiveness that would make a real estate agent frantic. He seemed like a nice guy, and he could be made to behave like one, if he was carefully supervised. He never really wanted to be free. His biggest real concern was the quality of his food, which abruptly deteriorated twenty years ago when the provincial government contracted out Penetang's kitchen. Anything else complicated his life, and he didn't do well when things changed.
I got to know him well over a 15-year period beginning just after Kerr's murder. I still don't understand why he was a psychopathic serial killer. It may have been baby trauma, when his mother abandoned him and he bounced from one foster home to another. It might have been some kind of brain malfunction, perhaps from birth.
I do understand he was morally flawed. He knew it, too. In fact, he understood that much better than the medical staff at Penetang, who, for years, tried to pretend he had a simple wiring problem that "treatment" or time could fix.
There are what-ifs: if the psychiatrists hired by his wealthy adoptive family had realized the danger, he might have been stopped; if some of the dozens of kids molested by Woodcock had talked before he killed, he might have been caught much earlier; if he had been kept in simple comfort but under real supervision, he might not have killed a fourth person.
He was incarcerated for 53 years. He was told when he was 16 that he would never be free. He was put through LSD therapy, forced to live in a jammed room for 40 days to learn empathy, placed for days in an artificial womb.
He was interviewed, studied, probed, written about. He got his eyes fixed, made a few bucks from a lawsuit against the union representing his guards, was on TV a few times.
I wrote a book, By Reason of Insanity, about him. The title cast a wide net. It was the first verdict against him. It was also an indictment of a system that sought to medicalize a person and a condition, psychopathy, that probably can't be medicalized because it involves a great arrogance, a belief that one's desires trump all the rights of another person.
And it mocked a system that wedded ideas of psychiatric patient activists -- including Scientologists -- with government cost-cutting to rush people out of institutions. Many former inmates had already screwed up and some of them had killed again before Woodcock was released. His case was just so outrageous and so ludicrous that it could be used as a blunt instrument against the system.
But it didn't change much. Jeffery Arenberg, who gunned down Ottawa sportscaster Brian Smith in cold blood, was held at Penetang for just three years before being declared cured. Released from all supervision -- Arenburg does not even have a criminal record -- he was back in custody within months, this time for hitting a US border guard. After serving a couple of years for that, he''s out on the streets again. And he's still crazy as hell.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Person note

Rebel Steve K., can you e-mail me at Have lost all your co-ordinates.

World o' Wusses

Couldn't the Liberals come up with a better strategy than "Harper's destroying Canada but we know we can't convince the people of Canada of that fact, so we'll wait until the Tories somehow screw up bigger-time."

The Maple Leaf Forever

We could always go back this:

In Days of yore,
From Britain's shore
Wolfe the dauntless hero came
And planted firm Britannia's flag
On Canada's fair domain.
Here may it wave,
Our boast, our pride
And joined in love together,
The thistle, shamrock, rose entwined,
The Maple Leaf Forever.

The Maple Leaf
Our Emblem Dear,
The Maple Leaf Forever.
God save our Queen and heaven bless,
The Maple Leaf Forever.

At Queenston Heights and Lundy's Lane
Our brave fathers side by side
For freedom's home and loved ones dear,
Firmly stood and nobly died.
And so their rights which they maintained,
We swear to yeild them never.
Our watchword ever more shall be
The Maple Leaf Forever


Our fair Dominion now extends
From Cape Race to Nootka Sound
May peace forever be our lot
And plenty a store abound
And may those ties of love be ours
Which discord cannot sever
And flourish green for freedom's home
The Maple Leaf Forever

Not that The Maple Leaf Forever wasn't tampered with. My mother, who went to school in Orange, Protestant York County learned the song in the 1930s with these lines

The Maple Leaf
Our Emblem Dear,
The Maple Leaf Forever.
God save our Queen and heaven bless,
The Maple Leaf Forever.

sung as this:

The Shamrock, Thistle, Rose entwined
The Maple Leaf forever.
God save our King and heaven bless
The Maple Leaf Forever

But my father, who was educated in a Roman Catholic private school in Kitchener at about the same time, learned those lines as:

The Lily, Thistle, Rose entwined
The Maple Leaf forever...

I've always thought the words of O Canada were something like:

O Canada, our home-made naked land
(or "our home on Native land")
then mumble mumble mumble until the music stops. At least, that's the way everyone seems to sing it.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Budget

Well, here it is.

It's certainly a budget crafted by a government that does not want to risk losing power. In its spending patterns and rosy predictions of growth taking care of the deficit, it reminds me so much of Michael Wilson's budgets in the Mulroney years. The budget was always going to be balanced in five years, but the five-year clock re-started every year.
Nothing to deal with the huge growth in bureaucracy in the past decade.
No real help to Ontario's manufacturing, to forestry or to other sectors in trouble. I guess in Harper's world we can all push paper and computer keyboards and the Chinese will keep lending us money to buy their stuff.
I suspect we will very much regret the opportunity that is lost here. We were still relatively financially healthy, compared to most G-20 countries. Harper is governing like Mulroney, buying off the regions and loading us and our kids with debt. Next, of course, will come higher interest rates and even more decline in the living standards of Canada's working families.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Throne speech highlights

It's an election manifesto as much as a legislative to-do list. Here are the highlights:

• Freeze in departmental salary and overhead budgets.
• Review of all departmental spending
• A new emphasis on achieving efficiencies and ending duplication in the public service.
• Freeze on MP, Ministers, Senators and PM’s salaries.
• Freeze on ministerial office budgets
• More funding for skills development and apprenticeship programs
• Strengthened education opportunities for Native peoples.
• Emphasis on technology research and development, with strengthening of copyright laws.
• Allow foreign investment in telecommunications comapnies.
• Space-based technologies that will help support Arctic sovereignty (probably a polar spy satellite system).
• Encouragement of foreign investment in Canadian space technology.
• More work on Free Trade.
• National securities regulator.
• Cut red tape for new energy projects and small business.
• Invest in clean energy research.
• Help for the marketing of forestry and farm products.
• Reform Canada’s fisheries management.
• Find ways to protect workers in bankrupt companies.
• Better food safety research.
• Tougher youth crime laws, increased penalties for sex offenders who prey on children, including Internet luring and cyber abuse.
• Life in jail without parole for multiple murders.
• No house arrest for violent offenders.
• Re-introduce legislation toughening the laws on illegal drug trafficking
• “Improve criminal procedures” to cut the number of long, drawn-out crimes.
• More help for victims of crime.
• More anti-terrorism funding, including more airport screening and biometric passports.
• More judicial tools to fight terrorism and organized crime.
• Protection of seniors’ income and a national Seniors Day.
• Access to EI for soldiers.
• More money for war memorials and a memorial to the victims of Communism.
• Modernize support systems for veterans.
• More help for Native reserves, including environmental clean-ups, settlements of land claims, and breaking down barriers to gender equality for Native women.
• Strengthen Francophone identity and restrict the use of the federal spending power in areas of provincial jurisdiction.
• Place an emphasis on Arctic research, including sustainable development in the North.