Sunday, September 30, 2012

From terrorists to "official opposition" in 48 hours

Iranian terror group MEK just got off the official USA terror list on Friday. Already the PR machine they've put together is lobbying to have them recognized as the official opposition in Iran.

Already elected officials in both parties are busy making statements to that effect.

In the current political climate I can see this idea as having broad bipartisan appeal. Sure, it's a profoundly stupid idea and will in the long run come back to haunt us, but that's not the point.

Even though the MEK have zero popular support in the country, recognizing them as the official opposition will allow the administration to make all manner of mischief while cloaking themselves in layer after layer of patronizing twaddle about freedom and democracy.

That's why this idea could get serious traction.


Harper's World Statesman Award

How gauchely self-aggrandizing of Canada's Prime Minister to avoid the UN General Assembly but to travel to Manhattan to pick up his "World Statesman Award" from the enormously self-important Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

Harper's award was presented by Henry Kissinger, a former recipient of the prize, and a man wanted for crimes against humanity on three continents, a fact that his Wikipedia entry wryly notes sometimes complicates his travel plans.

The awards ceremony represents the intersection of Big Politics, Big Capital, and American Empire. It's an opportunity for the plutocrats to bestow favor on the political hacks who have been good to them. It's also an opportunity for the plutocrats to praise one another for their humanitarian endeavors.

This year the CEO's of those well-known humanitarian organizations, IBM and Citibank, were honored for their contributions to humanity.

One can well appreciate why Harper might feel more at home among the plutocrats than at the UN. As his increasingly irrelevant foreign policy shows, he is a leader far more comfortable with empty platitudes about freedom and democracy than with an agenda that actually engages with the world. He eagerly enters into free trade agreements with the most anti-democratic regimes in South and Central America while closing Canada's embassy in Tehran.

Word Statesman indeed.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The other William J. Perry award

Whilst scouting around for info on the award that the Hon. Peter Mackay snagged this week, I stumbled upon yet another award named after the very same former Secretary of Defense and consummate Military Industrial Complex insider, Dr. William J. Perry.

This other award is handed out by the "Precision Strike Association." That's a lobby group and trade association for the folks who build stuff that blows up other people.

In 2007 the "small diameter bomb team" took the prize. That's a joint effort between the US Air Force and the Boeing Company.

The next year the "multiple rocket launch team" triumphed. That was a collaboration between the US Army and the Lockheed Company.

I actually like the sound of this; strikes me as the real McCoy. Their website is full of references to the "kill chain" and such. Not only that, but for a mere forty bucks I can actually become a member of the Precision Strike Association.

I'm in!

I can't imagine a wanker like Peter MacKay getting that William Perry Award.

Welcome back Khadr

Having exhausted every possible avenue of foot-dragging, legal or not so much, Canada has reluctantly repatriated her most famous child soldier from Gitmo.

Omar Khadr was fifteen years old when he may or may not have thrown the grenade that killed a US soldier in Afghanistan. His age at the time is pretty much the only fact not in dispute.

Canadians like to portray themselves as the most virtuous of the Nations of Virtue. Canada is a leading proponent in the international push against child soldiery. When it's a Canadian child and we don't like his father's political affiliations, all that do-goodery is forgotten in an instant.

A great swath of the Canadian media, who can in many matters be counted on to be conventionally liberal, will continue to refer to Khadr as a convicted terrorist, a murderer, or a jihadist. They won't refer to him as an Afghani patriot, a member of the resistance, or a freedom fighter.

He should be remembered as a child soldier and be allowed to live a normal life. The Harper gang's insistence on using legal technicalities to obstruct his reintegration into society risks making him an icon for radical Muslims in Canada and beyond.

Set him free, leave him alone, and let him live his life.

Canada's Defense Minister inducted into Neo-Fascist Hall of Fame

Prime Minister Stephen Harper wasn't the only Canadian to go south and pick up an award this week.

Defense Minister Peter "Pinocchio" MacKay picked up the prestigious William Perry Award in Washington. That's an honor bestowed by the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies every year to one worthy institution and one worthy individual. This year Mr. Mackay shared the award with the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in Fort Benning, Georgia.

If that name doesn't ring a bell it may be because you know that august institution by it's former moniker, The School of the Americas. That's the school where thousands of wannabe dictators, war criminals, torturers and shitbags of all stripes have traditionally been schooled in the American way of spreading democracy throughout Central and South America.

To see what WHISC graduates have been getting up to go here.

While not as prestigious as Harper's World Statesman Award presented by Schneier's Deli in New York, or Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, it does provide some consolation for Mr. MacKay, long considered a light-weight in over his head on the Defense file.

Congratulations Mr. MacKay!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Apple well past best-before date

The signs are everywhere.

The lukewarm reviews for the iPhone 5.

The rioting workers at the assembly plants in China.

The maps fiasco.

This is a company that has peaked and has nowhere to go but down.

Imagining that an IT hardware supplier could become the most valuable corporation in the history of corporations was marginally plausible.

Imagining that it would remain that for more than a brief moment was not.

Go short.

What the Iran-Israel side-show covered up at UN General Assembly

The war on drugs.

That war has blighted more lives and sucked up more blood and treasure than Afghanistan, Iraq, and the "war on terror" combined.

Don't get the impression that the think tank here at Falling Downs is in any way "pro-drug".

But when the war on drugs causes infinitely more damage than the drugs, maybe it's time for a re-evaluation.

That's what the leaders of Mexico, Colombia, and Guatemala said to the General Assembly this week.

Not that you would have found that out by reading the mainstream media.

Because every news service in the Western world is obsessed with Ahmadinejad's speech and Netanyahu's cartoon props and won't even acknowledge that there are other issues to talk about.

Which leaves Obama clear sailing to keep on keeping on with the most self-destructive war in American history.

Falling Downs scoops the big dogs on Netanyahu's cartoon bomb

Today a wave of derision washed over Bibi's performance at the UN yesterday, as one news site after another made the link between the Roadrunner et al and his idiotic stage prop.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Falling Downs got there first.

What the hell was that all about? The cartoon bomb practically screamed out "I am a buffoon"!

The only place I saw a defense of Bibi's speech was at the Bibi-friendly Israeli site Ynet. They postulate, having consulted with an imaginary inner circle of Netanyahu advisers, that the goal was to attract attention and that the goal was achieved.

I suppose that if your goal is to get attention by flaunting your idiocy, the goal was indeed surpassed.

If the goal was to be taken seriously in a serious forum, this must be one of the bleakest moments in Bibi's career.

RIM loses billions but manages to add 100m to cash reserves

You have to love it when a company widely believed to be going down the toilet manages to boost its already staggering cash reserves by $100,000,000.00.

In a single quarter.

That's the kind of losing proposition you might want to take a bet on.

Looking forward, the BB10 is said to be a make or break product.

Let's consider the worst case scenario. BB10 does a crash and burn. The BB brain trust throws up their hands, pink-slips the entire workforce, and auctions off the entrails of what's left.

Goodbye to 2.3 billion and a patent bank worth... aye, there's a mystery!

But it's not really that mysterious. Under that scenario the break-up value of RIM is at least double the close price today. Probably more.

Take a middling view, and RIM can keep losing money and adding 100m to cash reserves every quarter.

When the "losses" are tax-driven write-downs of goodwill and other nebulous accounting fantasies, this could theoretically carry on for years.

When you look at RIM market share in emerging markets vs. mature markets you can see that their story isn't all that bad. After all, those cash accumulations are coming from somewhere. They're losing market share in the most mature and over-saturated markets in the world.

They're more than holding their own in the emerging markets.

The last scenario: BB10 whacks it out of the park. RIM regains market share even in those mature markets. That eventuality would see a restoration of the stock price to levels we haven't seen in a couple of years.

No matter how you look at it, RIM is a buy in the current price range.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why your friendly neighborhood stockbroker is an endangered species

Boyd Erman has an interesting piece in the Globe about why retail brokerages are disappearing.

And while it's a reasonably informative article I'd like to tease out a couple of strands that he hints at but never follows up.

There was a time when every town of any significance had at least one stock brokerage. I remember my father taking me into a place in downtown Guelph, right on St. Georges Square. It was one of those Toronto-based independent shops that later on was to disappear into the maw of one of the big banks. There he opened an account in my name because I was not of legal age, and I was henceforth empowered to buy and sell publicly traded shares.

I was also welcome, were I so inclined, to sit in their lounge and watch the stock ticker on the wall. On any given day in that pre-computer pre-internet era you'd find a couple dozen gentlemen gathered there with their eyes glued to the ticker. Some guys would stay all day, from the moment Bay and Wall Streets opened till they closed.

Others stayed fifteen minutes.

Some of those guys were local businessmen, some were retired professionals, some were factory hands. You had not quite a cross-section of humanity, but something close to it.

When you did a buy or a sell there was a 5% commission that went to the brokerage.

Technology has been one of the forces that have pushed this business model into the dumpster. You no longer have to sit in somebody's real estate to see live stock quotes. They're available on your home computer or your smartphone.

That's made it possible for on-line brokerages to totally destroy that fee structure. Who would pay 5% to buy or sell shares when a dozen on-line brokers will do a million dollar trade for a $15 flat rate?

The other part of it is those clients are no longer there. Retail stock brokerage is dead because there aren't those regular folks involved in the game anymore. Most local businessmen don't have the kind of surpluses that small local business used to have, and the blue-collar guys went to mutual funds long ago if they can accumulate any savings to begin with, which gets less likely every year.

The brokerage business itself has changed too. They can't make the rent hoping that your small account might someday turn into a large one. Most of their profits now come from trading for their own accounts in one way or another.

That's why retail brokerage is down for the count.

Netanyahu reveals secrets of Iran's nuclear program

Benjamin Netanyahu shows a drawing illustrating Iran's alleged progress towards a nuclear-weapons capability during his speech to the UN General Assembly, 27 September

Netanyahu displays blueprint of Iranian nuclear weapon at UN

My goodness, that Iranian nuke does bear a striking resemblance to the primitive devices from the Acme company that the Road Runner et al used to pelt one another with on Saturday mornings.

The Israeli Prime Minister astonished his audience at the UN General Assembly with his grasp of the technical intricacies of bomb-making today.

Holding aloft a visual aid that looked as though it had been prepared by a kindergarten teacher, Bibi informed the assembly that bombs consist of three stages plus a fuse.

“I’m gob-smacked” said admiring UK Foreign Minister William Hague. “I’ve long been awed by Bibi’s skills as an orator and a political operator, but I had no idea of his expertise in nuclear engineering!”

Using his teaching prop Netanyahu explained that Iran’s nuclear ambitions could be thwarted by drawing a red line between the 2nd and 3rd stage of the bomb, well before the fuse.

He then proceeded to draw that line with a red marker he pulled from his pocket.

Whew! 

I guess we can all breathe easy now!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ahmadinejad only a side-show at the UN

Here's a far bigger story.

The Presidents of Guatemala, Colombia, and Mexico have all spoken out for a reassessment of the "war on drugs."

That's the war they chose to talk about when they had their turn at the UN General Assembly.

The US war on drugs; not the threat of the mullahtocracy in Iran.

All three are allies in this war on drugs.

All three are lavishly "assisted" in this war by the American taxpayer. Assisted with money and weaponry and "advisors" on the ground.

And all three are utterly fed up.

If that's how the vassal states feel, imagine the sentiments in the rest of the world?

It's probably too much to hope that Obama will change this.

Here's another success story from the Arab Spring

You remember Arab Spring, do you not?

Swept through the Maghreb awhile back, and though we didn't see it coming the Nations of Virtue wasted no time in trying to get ahead of this outbreak of freedom, which we certainly managed to do in Libya.

Not that the Libyans seem to appreciate it. Just ask Ambassador Stevens.

Egypt is now in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Syria things seem to be on hold ever since the Nations of Virtue realized that their proxies doing the actual fighting hate America at least as much as they hate Assad, and in Tunisia...

Well, here's a good news story out of Tunisia, the cradle of Arab Spring, we are told.

Apparently there is outrage over the fact that newly democratic Tunisian police officers are jailed for raping a woman.

It's difficult to ascertain from the story if the outrage is directed at the woman who was raped or the policemen who raped her. Seems to be a bit of both.

Perhaps it is time to heed the advice of Ron Paul and wash our hands of Arab Spring. America could use her resources to better effect in America.

Look around.

It's not as if there's nothing to do.

The golden teat of 9/11

9/11 may have claimed three thousand lives on that infamous day, but there's no denying it also gave a second wind to many flagging political careers in America.

Of all the cynical opportunists who have been busy milking the 9/11 gift, none has been sucking harder on the golden teat than former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani.

He was hard at it again today, using the occasion of the Ahmadinejad speech at the UN to castigate Obama for his failure to start a war with Iran.

Yet.

"Out with the murdering mullahs" he cried, to the approval of an Iranian-American crowd who pine for the return of the murderous but at least rabidly pro-American Pahlavi dynasty. 

He was joined on the podium by fellow opportunists Tom Ridge and Newt Gingrich, a triumvirate who would well quality as poster boys for the decline in American credibility post 9/11.

Ahmadinejad shocks world with conciliatory speech at UN

No wiping Israel from the map.

Not a mention of the Great Satan.

Looks like Ahmadinejad wants to go out of his political career like a lamb and not a lion.

With the exception of the Canadian delegation, none of the Nations of Virtue left the room during the speech.

The Canadians have of course been floundering on the shoals of their own incompetence with their various forays into the diplomatic arena of late.

Letting Italy take care of the Canada desk in Iran.

Renting rooms in various UK diplomatic missions instead of fielding their own.

Diplomacy is of course a serious business, and it has been amply evident since the ascent of John Baird to head  Foreign Affairs that the Canadians have abandoned the field.

Baird is scheduled to address the General Assembly on Friday, after all the serious players have gone home.

Canadians embarrass themselves sucking up to the USA and Israel

Well, the UN General Assembly didn't see the full-court walkout of Western nations that some were anticipating for Ahmadinejad's speech.

Only one diplomatic mission walked out; the Canadians.

The American's didn't bother attending, because as every thinking person knows, there's no point talking to your enemies.

The Israelis didn't bother attending either, but at least they had a legitimate excuse in Yom Kippur.

As for the Canadians, they are in the process of downgrading their entire diplomatic infrastructure anyway, so perhaps they were just ordered to leave so the Canadian government could save a bit on wages.

In the event, a certain J. Baird from Ottawa won the Falling Downs Walk-Out Pool.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In the war between Pam Geller and civilized men, we're with the civilized men

That's quite a clever turn we see on those billboards Ms. Geller's crew has forced various transit services to run.

The Palestinian struggle for justice has just been tossed into the Jihad bin, and the Likudniks are home free; just combating the Jihadist terror of the Palestinians.

And you'll notice they're no longer Palestinians.

They are now just plain and simple jihadi "savages."

Alas, perhaps too clever and too late.

As the years go by and illegal Israeli settlements continue to grow and prosper in the West Bank, fewer and fewer fair-minded people are taken in by the charade of a "peace process."

It is by now abundantly clear to even the most sympathetic observer that the fundamental problem in the peace process is that Netanyahu by far prefers the status quo to peace.

And now we must support him because he is after all staring down a "Jihad"... against savages, no less!

I can't imagine this nonsense is going to fool anyone.


Why are Romney's tax numbers not being challenged?

One of the big stories out of the Romney campaign lately has been the supposed divulgence of his 2011 tax records

Romney claims to have "earned" just over 20 million, and paid an effective tax rate of about 14%.

The media in general has decided to take that story at face value. There is the predictable umbrage taken on the left about how this tax rate is half of what middle-class taxpayers typically pay, but that's about it.

About a month before Romney released those numbers the Gawker  website posted hundreds of pages of financial statements that showed most of Romney's fortune appeared to be stashed offshore, particularly in the Cayman Islands.

There are good sound reasons why fortunes are stashed offshore, particularly in the Cayman Islands. The primary reason would be that no one who does such a stashing would then declare income earned in the Cayman Islands on their USA tax filings.

That's the whole point of stashing your loot in the Cayman Islands in the first place!

Something stinks!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Mafia Tales, the Donnie Brasco edition

These people will stop at nothing.

This "inquiry" into political corruption in Montreal has now flown in a former FBI undercover guy who infiltrated a Mafia family in New York City.

Thirty years ago.

An undercover guy who milked it for all it was worth.

This will shed light on corruption in Montreal politics today?

Not likely, but it did hatch a slander on unions.

The Mafia uses unions to corrupt otherwise honest politicians.

Unions are obviously VERY bad.

How depressing to see how many page inches this story gets when there are really important things going on in the world.

The Zen of Ahmadinejad

He's more than a man of peace. He's a Zen Master.

Every human being should live in the moment, he says.

In fact, once his term ends and he's back to being a private citizen, I wouldn't be surprised to see a line of self-help books and maybe some yoga how-to videos coming from the wily toweller.

I'm watching that British guy interview Ahmadinejad on CNN.

Have to say he makes at least as much sense as anybody running for the oval office in 2012.

Also have to say Piers' is lobbing softballs, for the most part.

He gets Ahmadinejad to say we cannot impose our will on the Palestinians. Well, that is a wonderful sentiment, but by the same token we cannot impose our will on the Israelis either.

Piers keeps interrupting just as Ahmadinejad is going places with his answers. Wants to reduce the interview to the Holocaust and homosexuals.

And the utterly crucial matter of whether or not a single woman can go skiing in Iran.

Frankly, I don't think Ahmadinejad's views on homosexuality and women's rights are that far from Romney's.

Generally speaking, the man seems a cut above the caliber of politicians we are accustomed to here in the Nations of Virtue.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Syria Free Army moves HQ to Syria

Did you happen to notice that story today?

The General in charge was all over his usual mainstream news accomplices explaining how this signified that the Syrian Free Army, and their partners the Free Syrian Army, were winning hearts and minds and making inroads against the brutal Assad regime which, in case you don't know, is slaughtering its own people.

Obviously the Syrian war is at a turning point if our rebels,...  sorry, Turkey's rebels, have taken enough territory that the Free Syrians can take up residence there.

This was duly passed on by every major Western news organization as evidence that the freedom-loving rebels were making inroads against the evil Assad regime.

Oddly enough the good General was giving these media interviews from Turkey.

What does that tell you?

Nevermind Ahmadinejad: check out Morsi's blood libel

I don't even know what a "blood libel" is supposed to be.

I know it's a phrase that the Likud crowd likes to whip out when they're trying to shut down debate.

"That's a blood libel."

Oh, sorry...

But look at what Morsi had to say about US Middle-east policy. He claims American policy is BIASED.

Oh really?

And if that isn't scandalous enough, he goes on to claim it is biased FOR Israel and against the so-called Palestinians.

Who can even imagine such a thing? And this man will be speaking at the UN?

And Obama just promised to continue the billion a year in military aid to this guy?

The world is changing...

Ahmadinejad at the UN; join the Falling Downs Walkout Pool

Here's how it works.

Ahmadinejad will be addressing the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

We're selling tickets for how far into Ahmadinejad's speech the Nations of Virtue will get up and leave the room, and which country will lead the walkout.

So, for example, if you want to bet on France leading the walkout thirty seconds into the speech, and the French delegation leads the walkout at thirty seconds into the speech, you win the pool!

Tickets are available at one second increments. Just send me twenty bucks and you're in.

Sorry, all the tickets for Israel, US, and Canada at the one second mark are already spoken for.

Canada: the little colony that couldn't

Just days after announcing that Canada's interests in Iran would henceforth be served by the Italian embassy there, the word in Ottawa is that we will be "combining" foreign diplomatic posts with those of the UK.

The supposed rationale for this move is to deliver better value to the Canadian taxpayer.

Why not go all the way and abandon all pretense at being a sovereign nation? Just dissolve parliament and let  Whitehall run the whole show, or at least the parts they're interested in.

Maybe there would be other interested candidates. Perhaps the Chinese would be willing to take Alberta. They seem keen on the tar sands after all. And the Maritimes could join the Boston states. Ontario could officially become part of the midwestern rust belt.

Manitoba might make a go of things as an independent Hutterite homeland. Vancouver could be an independent city-state along the lines of Singapore, with the rest of the province reverting to aboriginal ownership.

Quebec would gain independence by default as the rest of the country withers away around it.

And the savings to Canadian taxpayers would be so immense that no Canadians would need to work anymore...

Poor Pierre must be spinning in his mausoleum. After all that fuss over the "patriation" of the Constitution, our flirtation with sovereignty appears to be over after a mere thirty years.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Irwin Cottler wets his trousers

Irwin is one of those way-back dudes who truly believes that the tides of antisemitism would sweep Israel off the map were it not for the vigilance of himself and like-minded guardians of the Holy Land.

He unleashes the full thrust of his anti-Iran agenda in an op-ed at the Jerusalem Post today.

Ahmadinejad should be in the dock at the Hague and not addressing the UN next week, according to Irwin.

Well Irwin, I agree with you that Ahmadinejad is a nasty bit of work, but vulgar rhetoric aside, he hasn't actually hurt anyone outside Iran.

Compare that record to what some of your champions have accomplished in the past twenty years.

Bush?

Rumsfeld?

Wolfowitz?

This could be a very long list, Mr. Cottler. A long list of champions of freedom who are responsible for far more bloodshed than Ahmadinejad.

Let's bring the big killers to The Hague before we worry about the big talkers.

Gangnam style

I don't know why Junior is wasting his time with stuff like this.

Ya it's great, in its way, although I have to say I liked his Waitsian stuff better.

But this Korean dude has got a quarter billion views on this Gangnam schtick. What the fuck?

Come on Jake, do the Gangnam!

Mafia tales

When the Toronto Star, Canada's most liberal newspaper, has the opportunity to make mountains of news out of molehills of facts, they usually pick on their big fat slob of a right-wing mayor, Rob Ford.

But this week they've taken a new tack.

The Mafia!

Yes, THE MAFIA is big news in the Toronto Star these days.

As a kid who grew up in working class Guelph back in the day, I learned a thing or two about my Italian neighbors.

Guelph had a huge Italian immigrant population at the time, and being just a generation or two removed from the old country, certain cultural artifacts still had currency among them.

Like respect for certain semi-underground organizations loosely known as "the mafia."

There were certain family names that were reputed to have greater or lesser connections to this supposed criminal organization.

Over the years I eventually got to know folks from all those families. I don't know anything about the mafia, but I know none of those folks would mess with you if you weren't messing with them.

So I'm a bit skeptical about the mafia stories the Star has been running all week.

Seems the fact that Vito Rizzuto will be out of a Colorado prison soon is one of the drivers behind their binge of mafia stories. According to the Star the fact that most of his immediate family has died in Montreal turf wars while he was in the big house means he'll be looking for revenge when he gets out.

They also speculate, for no reason whatsoever, that he'll be making Toronto his base of operations.

I knew a guy, Manny Crabtree, who used to be a prison guard at the prison where Johnny Papalia did one of his stints. Papalia was well known as a local mafia big dog. They became best friends. Manny looked out for Johnny, and when Johnny got out he looked after Manny.

Johnny eventually caught a bullet, but their friendship was proof that insofar as there is a mafia, it honors a social contract the likes of which we would all benefit from.

All of those "mafia" families in Guelph went mainstream generations ago. The guys who got off the boat and did what they had to do produced a wave of offspring who became lawyers and university professors and doctors and congressmen and members of parliament and real estate developers and businessmen of all stripes.

Pretty much like most other immigrant communities.

But the Toronto Star still needs to sell papers.


Why big fat slobs make great politicians

I'm not saying you have to like their politics, but big fat slobs make great politicians.

Why?

I think it's the "everyman" image that carrying around an extra 150 pounds conveys.

Look at Chris Christie for example. Christie wouldn't know a good idea if it kicked him in the teeth, but he's immensely popular with the masses. In fact, if he was running for president today Obama would be in trouble.

Instead, the Republicans picked that skinny-ass Mormon and look how things are going.

The smart money is already banking on Christie for 2016.

Or look at Rob Ford. He ran for mayor of Toronto on the most reactionary platform one could imagine.

Stop the gravy train!

The goddamn garbage collectors are going to be GETTING GODDAMN PENSIONS for fucks sakes!

WAKE UP TORONTO!!!

Now Toronto is probably one of the most lame-ass liberal cities in the world. You can't smoke a cigarette within 100 metres of a playground because the tykes might start smoking on account of your bad example.

They recently had a debate about whether they should ban the sale of bullets.

You need a dog permit to walk your dog. And if your dog takes a crap on city property, the dogshit police are hiding behind the cedar hedge recording the particulars for the ensuing court action.

But big fat Rob Ford won this crowd over because he's a BIG FAT SLOB!!!

Nevermind the obesity epidemic. Big fat politicians are the wave of the future.

The whimsy of America's War on Terror

Mrs. Clinton made it official today. Or at least semi-official. The MEK, an Iranian terrorist group officially declared as terrorists by Mr. Clinton in 1997, will this week return to the fold of the "good guys."

The logic behind this move seems to be that the MEK are more interested in making mischief against the Ayatollahs than they are in making mischief against the Nations of Virtue; therefore the enemies of our enemy are our friends.

The practical reality behind this move is that the MEK has access to vast financial resources. They have spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying the US government to get off the official list of terror organizations.

The list of top-drawer US power-brokers who have happily taken their money to lobby for their rehabilitation is impressive indeed. Hell, these guys could give AIPAC a run for their money!

What they used to be was a Marxist underground resistance against our old pal, the Shah of Iran.

What they are today is a Marxist-Islamist group seeking to overthrow the  Ayatollahs.

Seems to me we've sponsored this sort of resistance movement before.

Does the name "al Qaeda" ring a bell?

Libyan militias swept out of Benghazi

That's the headline on the Reuters news site at the moment.

At first blush you want to think, finally! The people are putting a stop to the rule of misrule by the militias that have run amok in the last year.

Or maybe the non-existent central government has finally got its ducks in enough of a row to establish a bit of law and order. So far they've not shown any interest in governing anything other than the oil exports.

But when you read the article you realize it's nothing of the sort. One Islamist militia has been swept out of town by other Islamist militias.

That's what Western media consider a good-news story out of Libya a year after we dispatched the Colonel.

Connectivity overkill

It's an appropriately autumnal day here on the Bruce, and the Farm Manager decided we should head up the Peninsula to find a spot of breakfast.

We passed by the usual Wiarton stops with a vague notion to see what might be available towards Lion's Head.

By "autumnal" (not to be confused with "fally" or "fallish") I mean one of those days when its deep summer one minute and almost winter the next. As we took the coast road through Purple Valley and past Hope Bay and Barrow Bay we met thunder, lightning, bright sunshine and autumnal gloom in rapid succession.

Again and again.

Toured around Lion's Head, the Farm Manager remarking more than once what a pretty place this would be to retire to, and a decent hospital not that far away in Wiarton for the moment I have the big one.

Why she automatically assumes that it's me who will have "the big one" I'm not sure. Women have been known to have heart attacks too. Anyway, dying in the ambulance between Lion's Head and Wiarton is probably as good a death as any, so I'm game.

There's a new place open on the main drag, Rachel's Bakery and Cafe. All day breakfast the sign promised.

Rachel has a Art Deco theme going on. Black and white floor tiles, chrome and glass furniture. Pleasant.

We nab a window seat so we can keep an eye on the hounds, who plant themselves in the front seats of the car and bark at passersby, especially passersby walking dogs.

As we're sitting by the front window a family unit of two plus three walks in. Let's call them the Twattleys.

They are all heavily kitted out with lap-top cases, smart-phones in those stupid belt holsters, and various iPads and Playbooks and Kindles. I swear between the five of them they had at least ten electronic doodads.

Papa Twattley came through the door first, to scope out the terrain I suppose. Is your wi-fi up was his first question.

Not what's the soup of the day or what's the daily special.

Is your wi-fi up?

The Twattley tribe converges on the biggest table in the place, and Papa runs to the counter to complain that the table hasn't been properly scrubbed down. The harried counterperson leaves the counter and does a wet-cloth wipe-down of the table.

The Twattleys, reassured by the gesture, begin unsheathing their armada of laptops and iPads and Playbooks.

By now our breakfast is served. Turns out Rachel's has been in business over a year. Business is good by the look of things on this post peak season Saturday.

Constant traffic in and out. Seems to be a lot of locals coming for some of the baked goods. Strawberry tarts baked fresh this morning.

The Farm Manager chose the breakfast sandwich, which I think was a better choice than my peameal bacon and eggs with rye toast.

Meanwhile the entire Twattley tribe is deeply into their screens. I've never seen a family outing quite like it. They're sitting around a table sharing a meal, but they might as well be in different countries.

I don't get it.

But thumbs up for Rachel's! Maybe cut out the wi-fi to discourage the Twattleys and their ilk from ruining the ambiance, but good food, pleasant decor, and we got out of there for well under twenty bucks.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Toronto's "Granny Groper" targets seniors in sex assaults

Panic is spreading through the Toronto borough of South Etobicoke as a serial sex fiend targets elderly women in the area.

Police report that half a dozen women ranging in age from 50 to 95 have been attacked in the past week.

Toronto Police spokesperson Sgt. Scott Dinglewood took to the airwaves this afternoon to advise vulnerable elderly women about what precautions they should take to avoid the clutches of the rampaging pervert.

"Lock your doors and windows and don't answer the door or the phone," Sgt. Dinglewood advised.

"And for Gods sake, stop dressing like sluts."

Romney's Cayman Islands income not included in today's numbers

Romney is trying to claw back a bit of the credibility he has squandered over the past week or so by releasing his 2011 tax records. He claims to have earned 13.7 million and we have no reason to doubt him.

However, that is only the money he made and declared in jurisdictions subject to American tax laws. Since the bulk of Mitt's fortune is in offshore tax shelters, the income earned there does not have to be declared in the US.

Nothing illegal about that given the way tax laws are structured, but anyone who thinks that Romney has come clean about his finances is guilty of wishful thinking.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Death to France

Wow!

What a refreshing change from the usual refrain of  "death to America" and "death to Israel."

The ruling elite in France have lined up solidly behind the Charlie Hebdo crowd to proclaim the primacy of freedom of speech over all. They have already ordered the temporary closure of French embassies in twenty countries in anticipation of widespread anti-France hooliganism in those Muslim nations.

And it is not as though the primacy of free speech in France is without limits. Were you to question, as a matter of free speech, certain aspects of French history circa WWII, you would find very quickly that the same legislators who are willing to close embassies will close ranks to deny your freedom of speech.

These are of course the same people who continue to deny their genocidal terror campaign against Algeria while simultaneously prattling about the misdeeds of the Assad regime in Syria.

Whatever hopes one might have harbored with the ascent of a "socialist" to the Elysee Palace can be safely laid to rest by now.

They shall take up serpents

I was chatting with Junior about how fundamentalists of all stripes have more in common with one another than they do with the more moderate elements within their own creeds.

Put a fundamentalist Christian, Jew, and Muslim in a room together, and they'll come out united in their beliefs about certain certainties and swinging at the backsliders across the religious terrain.

Gay marriage? Universal agreement.

Abortion? Universal agreement.

The death penalty? Universal agreement.

You could almost make an argument that insofar as there exists a "clash of civilizations", that clash is between the fundamentalists and the moderates across the board, rather than between Christians and Muslims or Jews and Muslims or Christians and Jews.

There is even discord among fundamentalists within the same religious stream. For example, the gospel of Mark has a pretty clear directive that the followers of Jesus should be picking up poisonous snakes just to prove that they are true believers. Yet, with the exception of small pockets of literalists confined mainly to the  hillbilly belt of the Appalachias, the overwhelming majority of your gay-hating race-baiting fundy crowd takes a pass on that one.

As one strays from fundamentalism there are other similarities among the great religions, or the "people of the word".

For example, all of the big three religions have strict prohibitions against the charging of interest on borrowed money, yet I've never met a Christian or a Jew who has a problem going against this principle. The Muslims just have more creative ways of getting around it.

Maybe this would be a good time to take a step back and tally up how much we have in common with our "enemies".

The things we have in common far outweigh the things that keep us apart.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Time for the de-liberation of Iraq

Reuters has quite the scoop today.

Apparently they've seen really real top secret "Western" intelligence reports that report our Iraqi vassals are conniving with Iran to deliver "military personnel" and weapons to Syria.

Fouad Ajami thinks we did a wondrous deed in liberating Iraq.

I think we handed the country to Iran.

This story would never have happened if the evil despot Saddam were still in power.

America spent a trillion dollars and many thousands of lives turning an erstwhile ally of America into an erstwhile ally of Iran.

The concept of unexpected consequences should be kept firmly in view as our rulers contemplate a war with Iran.

CNN's house Arab still banging war drum

You've met Fouad Ajami here before.

Ajami can be relied upon to deliver good pro-USA face-time on American networks, which I suppose is why we see so much of him.

Today he was interviewed on CNN about the Innocence of Muslims fiasco. Ajami deftly turned it into an anti-Hezzbolla rant.

You see, Hezzbolla boss Hassan Nasrallah made a speech the other day calling for demonstrations against the film. This was Ajami's lever to turn the discussion away from the film and towards the evil and despicable and USA-hating Nasrallah.

Why does Nasrallah rail against this modest work of art, but stays silent about the carnage being wrought in Syria by the evil and despicable and USA-hating Assad just next door?

Ajami seems to have a problem with Arab dictators slaughtering their own people. Apparently he believes that's America's job.

To this day Ajami extols the virtues of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

As for the Syria "slaughter", that is being orchestrated by our NATO ally Turkey, and paid for by our non-democratic allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Not that you'd ever hear those truths from Ajami's lips.

And as for Innocence of Muslims, well, that exercise in idiocy is just proof of our cultural superiority.

We do have freedom of expression here after all.

Blasphemous buffoonery

In a brazen attempt to cash in on the hysteria surrounding the "film" The Innocence of Muslims, the self-styled anarchists who publish Charlie Hebdo went all out with a special let's-insult-the-Prophet issue today.

After all, what publicity-hungry struggling magazine publisher could resist such a windfall of controversy? The so-called film led to rioting in over twenty countries, dozens of deaths, and thousands of arrests and injuries in the past week.

The think tank here at Falling Downs is of mixed opinion in this matter. Here in the Nations of Virtue we take great pride in our vaunted freedom of expression. Virtually every senior politician in France has at one time or another gone on record supporting Charlie Hebdo's right to free expression through their past brushes with controversy.

In principle I agree with them.

At the same time, we should ask ourselves why and how we have allowed that great freedom to be reduced to an excuse to allow the gratuitous slander of other peoples' beliefs.

Where is our free press when it is time to question the ruling elites on their next war or on their war on social welfare and the common good? Happily pandering to those elites while spreading their propaganda, that's where.

Already the French government has added extra security to many of its diplomatic missions in the Islamic world in anticipation of more outrage.
They'll be needing plenty of additional security right there in France as well, where a generation of disaffected young Muslims will seize this opportunity to lash out at a society that they see as having marginalized them.

Perhaps they can present the bill for all this extra security to the opportunists at Charlie who are glorying in all this publicity.

The magazine was originally called Hara-Kiri. Maybe they've finally managed it.


When is a NGO not a NGO?

The Putin haters are up in arms these days over the Russian President's decision to ban USAID from the country.

The BBC had a spokesman from Freedom House on to bemoan the impact that this move would have on US based non-governmental organizations such as his. Freedom House is an NGO that is ever-so-busy promoting democracy and human rights in Russia.

As you would expect, not a word of this bemoaning was challenged by the BBC presenter.

The problem with this scenario is that Freedom House was hatched by FDR in the early 1940's to act as a propaganda tool to sway American public opinion towards involvement in WWII. It has continued to be a propaganda tool for the US government ever since, and gets virtually all its funding directly or indirectly from the US taxpayer.

How can it present itself as a NGO?

One need not wonder how America would react if the government of China or Russia were financing front groups, or NGOs if you will, that explicitly endorse certain political parties and politicians in US elections. Such a situation would not be tolerated. The "NGO"s would be sent packing, if not sent to prison for a few years first.

Once again the Putin haters have been vindicated. The man conducts himself as though his nation is a sovereign state.

Such effrontery will not be tolerated!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chicken entrails reveal Romney is the Messiah!

Once I realized that the number of Romney campaign donors matched the number of "chosen" folks bound for heaven I knew I was on to something.

Over the years I've befriended a semi-retired shaman who lives in a cave  on the escarpment, just off the next concession. Wilbur Manytroubles still dabbles in his shamanistic stuff; he'll read chicken entrails for twenty bucks - bring your own chicken.

Luckily my friend Sue raises chickens. Leaves them to free range around her place while she's at work. Had me one of those free-range Leghorns in a pillow case in no time, and I was off to see Wilbur.

I've got some good tips from Wilbur in the past. His deal is you have to take the sacrament and then the Gods will speak through him to answer your questions. I once asked him the secret to successful investing.

Buy low, he says.

OK, I said, holding in a little more of the sacrament... and then what?

After a long pause he says, sell high.

Longer pause.

Hmmm... Sell high?

How do I know when I'm high enough?

Another pause, and then Wilbur starts laughing, just a wee guffaw at first, but soon enough great gales of infectious belly laughter, till we're both rolling around on the floor of his cave holding our guts because we're laughing so hard it hurts.

So I get up there with the chicken, and we do the sacrament, and watch the poor girl do her brief headless chicken dash till she drops in the corner, whereupon Wilbur says to Mrs. Manytroubles, bring me the innards when you've put the bird in the roasting pan dear.

While she's busy with that me and Wilbur have a beer and chit-chat about the upcoming election, and I tell him about my theory, that Romney is the Messiah and his donors are the 144,000 who will enter heaven.

Mrs. Manytroubles brings the chicken entrails in a crystal dish and sets them on the table. Wilbur pokes and prods at them with the bottom of his Coors Light can, a look of extreme concentration on his face.

Hmm... he mutters again and again.

Finally he pushes the dish away and looks me in the eye.

By God, he says, you absolutely nailed it!

Mitt Romney is the Messiah!

Romney more than a guest at Marc Leder's mansion, he is an investor in Sun Capital Partners

That's right. When Marc Leder decided to open his own hedge shop, he looked to Mitt Romney for start-up capital. In fact, it's rumored that the uptight Mormon and the horn dog of Boca Raton remain partners in some of Sun Capital's funds.

It is obvious now that Romney felt quite at home and among friends at Leder's fundraiser, and he used the opportunity to speak bluntly. That's causing a bit of a fuss now that Mother Jones has leaked some of those remarks. The media are now all about "oh look at how Romney reveals himself when he's with his own kind" etc. etc.

That's a bit much. I don't think he was being honest at all. Who truly believes Romney gives a shit about 53% of Americans? I think it's a lot closer to .053%, or roughly the percentage of the population who will attend a Romney fundraiser during the course of the campaign.

That works out to about 144,000 people, the exact number that some religious cults claim will enter the Kingdom of Heaven...

Hey! I could be onto something here!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mass graves discovered as orgy of ethnic cleansing continues in Kenya

America is running out of allies on the Dark Continent. All the places we've been putting our money are either in play or outright lost.

Mali?

Libya?

Egypt?

Ethiopia?

Somalia?

Kenya?

Things are particularly ugly in Kenya right now. That was always a country thought to be "in the bag" as it were.

Only the most paranoid colonialist ever imagined Kenya turning back to her darkness.

But look at Kenya today...

100 acres and peace of mind

Falling Downs isn't actually falling down.

Well, it is and it isn't.

I stood back and admired the old shack tonight, in a twighlight junkhaven madness that even my minister could appreciate.

I was gazing up on the old pile from in front of the garage.

It occurred to me that in the city, this gazing spot would be in my neighbor's yard.

Or in the yard of the next neighbor after that.

Here, I'm just in between the house and the barn.

One hundred acres of yard spread out in all directions.

And a tiny spot of peace of mind stuck right here in the middle.

Italy goes where Canada fears to tread

Just a week ago Canada's tough talking Foreign Minister John Baird announced that Canada was closing its embassy in Tehran.

It must have occurred to him after the fact that this unilateral move left a multiplicity of Canadian interests in Iran effectively stranded.

So today he announced that henceforth, Canada's interests in Iran would be represented once again.

By Italy!

Is Canada's foreign service establishment so grotesquely inept that we need to outsource threat assessments to the private sector and delegate the handling of Canada's interests in Iran to a third country?

Apparently so.

That's what happens when you appoint a light-weight like John Baird to the post of Foreign Minister.

We look like inept dolts, playing at diplomacy instead of doing any.

At least it got us a pat on the back from Netanyahu.

Worlds most retarded nuclear scientists still months away from a nuclear weapon

That's the news Israeli PM Netanyahu had for the American public on Meet the Press yesterday.

Which puts the Iranian nuclear program about where it was when Netanyahu first sounded the alarm twenty years ago.

Which leads one to conclude that either the Iranians really are that stupid, or Netanyahu is being unduly alarmist.

I think generally speaking the public has caught on that Netanyahu has 101 really sound political motives for his non-stop trumpeting of the Iran nuke story, none of which have much bearing on whether or not or if ever Iran develops a bomb.

His hysterical proclamations do succeed in drawing the eye away from more pressing issues, both within Israel and without.

Little things like making peace with those pesky Palestinians who just won't go away.

Or those cranky young Israeli Jews who have the audacity to protest in the street about the hardships they face trying to build lives in the Holy Land.

Meanwhile, former Mossad boss Meir Dagan  showed up on a rival network hours later to pour scorn on the idea.

The Iranian leadership is comprised of rational operators he believes. Bellicose rhetoric aside, they know that they'll need hundreds of nuclear weapons before they pose a realistic threat to Israel.

Given the pace of their nuclear program, that should take us well into the next millennium.

In the meantime, let's all just take a few deep breaths and try to relax.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lois Vutton boss sues newspaper for calling him "rich idiot"

A rich idiot with extra-thin skin.

It's hard to know what to make of a story like that. He seems to be going out of his way to reinforce the perception that the super-rich are assholes.

Bernard Arnault is the richest guy in France, and he's drawing a lot of attention to himself by publicly announcing he intends to become a Belgian citizen.

That's seen as a response to the government's recent decision to up the tax rate to 75% for income over a million euros. This is sheer speculation of course; he may simply want to move in order to be closer to those superior Belgian chocolates.

Hell, people move all the time and for a multiplicity of reasons. Who are we to impugn his motives?

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if his first order of business when he settles in Brussels isn't lobbying the Belgian government to raise the income tax.

And lower the chocolate tax.

So I'm sure that idiot talk was just a misunderstanding.

FBI bust Chicago high school student in terror plot

Adel Daoud had all the characteristics of a Jiahadi sleeper.

He used the internet to chat on Islamic web-sites.

That's the red flag right there. A kid with an Arab sounding name is chatting on Islamic web-sites? Better assign a team of agents to get to the bottom of this.

Before you can say Allah Akbar the FBI had convinced the kid that they were hard-core terror types and wanted him on their team. The kid obliged. He even went so far as to scout possible targets on, get this, Google Street View!

And after months of coaxing, his FBI handlers convinced him that they had a car bomb for him to explode, right there in downtown Chicago.

Whew!

That was close! Thank God the FBI was right there to arrest this terrorist!

Which proves yet again that we can never let down our guard. That Muslim kid next door might seem to be an ordinary high school student, but do you know what he's doing on the internet?

Brian Burke delivers tough talk from the wheelhouse of the Titanic

Every few years the guys who run the NHL are seized with an overpowering urge to run their ship into an iceberg. They're at it again.

Long the poor sister in the world of pro sports, the NHL has actually had a resurgence of sorts since the last lock-out. But that's not good enough for the owners.

As the pie has gotten a little larger, the owners figure that they need a bigger slice. The upsurge in television revenues, they maintain, is due to their shrewd management, and not to the efforts of the guys wearing the skates.

They're willing to drive the team bus over a cliff if they don't get their way.

This is the context in which Burkie lambasted the talking heads at ESPN the other day. ESPN had just announced that the Maple Leafs came dead last in their annual survey of professional sports teams.

That's a bit a pickle to chew on, because the Leafs are also acknowledged to be one of the most valuable sports franchises. In fact they have just changed hands at a valuation that prices the organization as being worth somewhere north of a billion dollars.

ESPN is of course commenting on the Leaf product on the ice, not their valuation on the bourse, and on the ice, where Burkie bears a large measure of responsibility for the product, the Leafs suck.

So of course, according to Burke, ESPN are a bunch of know-nothing twats who don't understand hockey.

Well Burkie, it's been my observation that under your guidance we have yet to observe the Leafs playing in the post season.

Any thoughts on when that might change?

General Martin Dempsey finally hears wake-up call

America's top dog in Afghanistan is getting a whiff of the coffee, and not a moment too soon. In fact, some would say he's about ten years late to the game.

Speaking to the American Forces Press Service General Dempsey characterized the rash of green on blue attacks as a "serious threat" to the war effort.

No shit!

Recently the Pentagon has fought back, in that classic Pentagonian way, by directing their talking heads to refer to green on blue attacks as "insider" attacks, a directive the mainstream media were quick to incorporate.

To no avail. There seems to have been an uptick in the frequency of green on blue attacks since that directive came down.

The problem isn't what you call it, General Dempsey, the problem is those people are sick and tired of your help and just want you to go home. Never mind the "war effort", this war has been lost for years.

And just to put an exclamation mark behind that sentiment, the US took out a dozen women gathering firewood yesterday.

Wonder if any of them had brothers or fathers or sons or husbands in the Afghan Army or police?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Justice for America

I'm watching Fox News and when we go to a commercial break my screen proclaims "Justice for America".

John Bolton was just on being a little less inflammatory than I might have expected.

Hell, it's John Bolton; I was expecting "nuke 'em now!"

We've got Erick Stafelbeck on now. In a civilized country his oeuvre would be considered hate speech from start to finish.

There does not seem to be the slightest awareness on the part of host or guest about why these many Muslim countries are wracked with anti-American rioting.

Instead, we are putting forward the thesis that America should be compensated for all the money she has spent bringing freedom to the Arab world.

It's time we demanded justice for America.

Canada's inept security establishment farms out threat assessments to private sector

Canadian taxpayers fork out well over half a billion dollars every year to fund CSIS,  the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

What do we get for our money? Not enough, apparently. The story is out that the government recently retained London based Control Risk Group to get the real skinny on what threats to Canadian interests might be lurking out there.

Control Risk Group is in the business of advising its clients about what they might be up against when operating in dodgy business climates. They're big in Nigeria and Colombia, advising Big Oil and mining multi-nationals on what the odds are that their senior executives might be kidnapped. When they are, they can also help negotiate the ransom.

One would like to think that for an annual stipend of half a billion CSIS could figure out this stuff in-house. That would seem to be the bare minimum that a sovereign nation should expect from it's intelligence services. Makes you wonder just what they do with their annual budget.

Have meetings.

Strike committees. I hear there's a lot of action at the ad-hoc committee to select new office furniture.

Of course they also have to do their due-diligence on the private contractors who will provide the actual intel. That keeps an entire floor at CSIS HQ just hopping with busy-work.

Word is that the recent closure of the Iranian embassy was the result of some of this private sector intelligence.

Hmm... a private sector consultant with deep ties to Big Oil claims that diplomatic ties with Iran threaten Canadian security?

Seems to me there's way too much potential for multiple conflicts of interest in that scenario.


Friday, September 14, 2012

al Qaeda introduces new number two; Abe al Ibrahim

Abe al Ibrahim

Just goes to show you that anybody can look like a terrorist when you kit them out with a turban!

Coyote duty at Falling Downs

The coyotes are getting bold. They took out one of Lundy's calves in the pasture just behind the house. In broad daylight no less.

That's why I spent the better part of the afternoon in that pasture, sitting in a lawn chair with a rifle on my lap.

Of course that becomes a case of the watched kettle never boiling. The coyotes are never going to show up when you're sitting out there in their field.

Hell, they probably ate a calf or two as soon as I gave up my watch.

But the experience did remind me of how fortunate I am to live a scene straight out of the lives of the Bedouin goat-herders of the Sinai or the homesteaders of the old west. 

While I never saw a coyote, I did get to watch the sun set behind the far ridge that marks the western boundary of Falling Downs.

Quite the spectacle.

And all of that without the benefit of a personal electronic device of any kind.

 

CNN in denial

Wolf Blitzer is sitting in for that English guy tonight. He's got some princeling from the Libyan royal family on to explain what's going on there post-Gadaffi.

The Libyan royal family hasn't been relevant to anything that happens in Libya since the 1960's. True enough, the princeling seems to think that his turn on CNN affords the monarchy a bit of legitimacy, but that's not a sentiment easily transferred to the real world.

In the real world the Libyan royal family is beyond irrelevant, and the events sweeping through the Middle East underscore the irrelevance of CNN's reporting on these matters.

The fact that CNN finds it appropriate to bring such non-entities in front of the camera to declare Libya's affection for America and blame the murder of the US ambassador on Gaddafi loyalists demonstrates how dramatically out of touch CNN really are.

We, the Nations of Virtue, are hated not for our vaunted freedoms, but for our incessant meddling in affairs that are none of our concern. We have been imposing our will on these peoples for well over a hundred years in one way or another.

They are trying to tell us that they're good and tired of it.

The Innocence of Muslims; Monty Python meets Mohammed

But without the production values.

It's hard to believe this high school dramatic production gone awry has set the Islamic world on fire. I have to disagree with Mrs. Clinton. This isn't disgusting or reprehensible. In fact, this is marginally funny but mostly really stupid.

And it does, no doubt about it, pull out all the stops in its febrile attempts to mock Islam.

So what? This comes out of a culture in which mocking Christianity or Judaism is fair game. It's something we call freedom of speech. That's a concept that applies to the most exhalted exhortations about liberty and justice as much as it applies to the most juvenile expressions of artistic license.

I think the reason embassies are going up in flames throughout the Middle East has next to nothing to do with this so-called movie. It's about  a half century of resentment over 1948 and 1953 and the occupation and the settlements.

It's about Iraq and Afghanistan and the millions of Muslims who have died for the Western world's insatiable thirst for oil.

It's about resentment over the last seventy-five years of American bullying of all things Islamic.

This "film" is a catalyst.  It has tapped that well of resentment.

The wheel of Karma turns...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

CNN shocked that Libyans hate the USA

I'm watching Anderson Cooper and he's featuring a parade of high-profile  twats who are still in denial about how America is perceived in the Middle East.

Just had a retired General on who claimed that a lot of Libyans wear the American flag under their shirts. Apparently they really love America but they're afraid their neighbors might rat them out to al Qaeda.

This is probably the single most stupid statement I've ever heard on CNN.

And I watch a lot of CNN.

How I made a fortune in Crack Spread Swaps on the NYMEX

I'm lying.

I've done no such thing.

But lying is the cornerstone of contemporary journalism, so don't blame me if I'm trying to play by the rules.

I couldn't tell you if my life depended on it what a "Crack Spread Swap" is. Back in the day the NYMEX had your basic Brent Crude and Light Sweet Crude on offer and I could sort of figure out what was going on with the attendant strike prices and expiry dates.

The derivatives at least had a sensible trail that led back to the underlying commodity.

Sensible in the sense that if you thought about it, you could make sense of it.

To say there has been an explosion in the proliferation of derivative products in the past twenty years would be an understatement of vast proportions.

And it's not hard to understand why.

Every year tens of thousands of new MBA's are graduated from universities in America and beyond. They've got to do something.

Not a one of them is prepared to contribute anything to the real economy, so they are forced into the Rumpelstiltskin economy of paper-shuffling and inventing new derivative products, and I swear the NYMEX must be adding at least a dozen new derivative products every day.

That makes it more time-consuming to sort through the multiplicity of Crack Spreads and the Conway Propane BALMO Swaps and find the real, or at least "realer" stuff, the futures options that are going to make the clean clear jump the moment the war on Iran takes off.

Once Bibi pulls the trigger oil will triple overnight. The trick to maximizing your profits will be to buy those contracts that are just days away from expiry when the shit hits the fan.

Of course, if the shit doesn't hit the fan, you just kissed your life savings good-bye.

But time it right, and every penny you invest will turn into a hundred dollar bill.

mma d mal





Oh, sorry, didn't notice you there. I was just updating my facebook status.

I am moved to wonderment at how a periferally useful but far from essential piece of technology has in less than a generation made itself an indespensible accessory. The cellphone marketeers have pulled off one of the greatest flim flam jobs of all time.

You see parents with their wee ones waiting at the end of the lane for the schoolbus, checking their text messages on their phones. What would they have been doing in the pre-cell era? Interacting with their spawn maybe?

By the time the spawn are in the second or third grade they will in most cases be checking their own text messages on their own phones as they await the bus.

People text while pushing their baby strollers through the park. The parental gathering spots around the playground are filled with adults glued to their tiny screens. Today I saw a guy texting while skateboarding.

And you can't beat the mall for text traffic. Everybody in the mall is rushing from store to store, thumbs a-flying while they relay the good news of their latest purchase to their twitter followers or their bff's or their mom.

The cell/text addiction is particularly ubiquitous among the teen crowd. This is the market that is in that tenuous transition from having a parentally subsidized phone to making their own way in the texting world. You see them throughout the mall, in bus shelters all over town on their way to their minimum wage jobs at the mall, and often enough busy texting while you are waiting for them to serve you at the shops they work at in the mall.

The cell phone manufacturers and marketers have by and large convinced society that this addiction is a good thing. This is the most socially engaged generation in the history of humanity they tell us.

Bullshit!

This is the most socially retarded generation in the history of humanity. They are totally consumed by the exercise of swapping innanities back and forth on electronic devices while life passes them by.

But it's not entirely their fault. Even though working people have become more productive every year at least since the dawn of the industrial revolution, our relative standard of living has been in decline for the last half century.

These teens simply can't afford lives anymore.

But they can afford a cell phone with an unlimited texting plan.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Will Bibi get his war?

And will Obama back him up?

It's not that I don't care. Here at Falling Downs we've got friends and family who reside in the Holy Land. We and they are pretty much convinced that war is not a good idea.

There's a long list of upper management folks in IDF/Mossad and all the rest who strenuously object to a war with Iran.

Do they have enough clout to keep a leash on Netanyahu?

I can't imagine that things look much different on the US side.

You've got a handful of influential war-mongers, mostly from the right-wing think tank community, and your evangelical Christian crowd pushing the war-wagon forward.

Then you've got a broad swath of thinking folks who think that given the cost of achieving what has been achieved in Iraq and Afghanistan and even Libya ever since this Jiahad on Jiahad began, we'd be far better off getting used to the idea of an Iranian bomb than we would be if we chose to bomb this idea out of them.

Tom Keller articulated that point of view quite effectively in the New York Times recently.

But the real reason I give a shit is because I've been following the NYMEX oil future option contracts, and I can tell you that whoever times this war right is going to make a killing. When the Straits of Hormuz clamp shut, as they surely will, the right contracts are going to be turning pennies into hundred dollar bills.

After all the news I read, I think it's only fair that some of those pennies should be mine.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

As US throws Israel under the bus, Netanyahu grateful for Canadian support

You have to love the rhetoric. Romney dropped the "under the bus" reference into his convention speech right between motherhood and apple pie.

But those crafty Canadians... they know to suck up when the sucking's good. Long angling to be universally recognized as Israel's very best friends in the whole world, the Harper gang seized the moment last Friday and announced the closure of Canada's embassy in Tehran.

Netanyahu lost no time in commending the Harper-Baird-MacKay triumvirate on their courage and leadership, which must have made the three stooges feel at least a foot taller.

Each.

Prime Minister Harper. The born-again Christian who sees Biblical prophecy playing itself out in the Holy Land.

Foreign Minister John Baird, who goes globe-trotting with his "personal rabbi" in tow.

And Defense Minister MacKay, who is married to the daughter of an Iranian expatriate.

What they don't seem to appreciate is that the vast majority of Israelis are deathly afraid that Netanyahu will unleash something that saner heads would rather not see unleashed. Netanyahu is a man determined to cement his place in the history books for the next thousand years.

That's not the sort of megalomaniac who needs encouragement.

So in the event that the cooler heads do not prevail, there is a good chance that Obama will let the Israelis go  it alone.

With the help of the Canadians of course.

Let me see... we could have the Princess Pollyanna regiment on the ground by, say, 2014. At least if we can lease some transport planes from Kazakhstan

And we do have some submarines. I think.

In drydock.

So don't worry Bibi.

We've got your back!

New York Times gives thumbs up to nuclear Iran

Well, not quite a thumbs up perhaps, but a grudging acknowledgement that maybe the world could live with it. After all, most countries, after acquiring a nucear weapon, don't rush out and drop it on their neighbors.

Especially when the neighbors have nukes of their own.

It's called "mutually assured destruction", or MAD for short.

It's why the Paks and the Indians don't nuke one another.

Or the Indians and the Chinese.

Or the Chinese and the Russians for that matter.

As you well know, only one country has ever used a nuclear weapon in war, and you know who that is.

So in all this hysteria about Iran it might be useful to take a step or two back and survey the big picture. Personally, I don't think anyone needs nukes. I'm about making peace.

Somebody wants to wipe you from the map?

Those are the folks you should be talking to.

More than anyone else, that's who you need to talk to.

Frankly, I think the world would be a better place if nuclear technology were relegated to the dustbin of history. There is not a country with nukes that couldn't spend the resources more usefully on housing and education and health care for their people.

That goes for Russia and the USA, for India and Pakistan, for Israel, and for Iran too.

It goes for everyone.

We will have a moral right to demand the extinction of Iran's nuclear program when we and our allies have gotten rid of our own.

Anything less is hypocrisy and nothing more.

Al Qaeda marks 9/11 anniversary by hoisting their flag over US embassies in Egypt and Libya

Hard to believe, isn't it?

We took out the big dog, and at this point we've vaporized the al Qaeda second-in-command several dozen times, but still the wily towellers manage to hoist their banner over the US embassy in Cairo and the consulate in Benghazi. All this on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.

This was in Libya and Egypt, two of the supposed success stories of the Arab Spring.

Do you think NATO's chickens are coming home to roost?

God's man at JP Morgan fixes Glencore-Xstrata deal

Five years from now when the financial press is doing the post-mortem on the biggest bankruptcy in the history of mining, they will recall that this deal almost didn't fly.

Then, like in a scene from The Godfather, Big "Tony the Weasel" Blair was sent in to knock some heads together.

Hey, he's not called God's man for nothing.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fear and loathing at the old folks' home

Haven't seen my friend Heather for awhile. Heard she'd taken a job in the dining room at one of the local nursing homes, so when we met up the other day I wanted to quiz her all about it.

Among other things I guess I'm planning for my declining years.

So how's the job working out?

Oh God! I HATE it!

Why so?

Well, they're just nuts. I want to quit but they won't let me.

What do you mean?

Well every time I get up the courage to tell them I'm outta there they talk me into staying another couple of weeks.

What's so bad about it?

They're all friggin senile! They follow me around when I'm setting the tables in the dining room. They unset the tables faster than I can set them! And the other day, we're having yogurt for dessert, and... and before I could stop him, this elderly gentleman is stirring his yogurt....

Heather breaks into a hysterical half-laugh half-sob.

He's stirring the yogurt... WITH HIS PENIS!

Hmm...  I'm a pretty liberal guy but I'm thinking maybe I'll strike that place from my list.

Toronto nix's proposed bullet ban

Do-gooder councillor Adam Vaughn saw his proposed law to ban the sale and storage of bullets within the city limits get short shrift at a meeting of the city's executive committee today.

Vaughn hatched his proposal after a recent shoot-out between two wannabe gangsters that killed two and injured over twenty, none of whom were the shooters, thereby proving that both gangsters and the NYPD could benefit from a few more hours practice time at a shooting range.

This kind of well-intentioned foolishness normally gets considerable traction in Toronto, so I'm not sure what went wrong here. Maybe folks are coming to their senses.

The gang boys shooting up downtown Toronto don't buy their guns or their ammunition through legitimate channels, so such a move would do absolutely nothing to curb the proliferation of illegal hand-guns or the frequency of their use.

What it would do is further stigmatize law-abiding gun owners.

I remember a few years ago buying a box of .177 pellets for Junior's air rifle at Canadian Tire. The "ammo" is kept under lock and key. Before a store employee unlocks the cabinet you must produce ID which is dutifully recorded. The employee then carries the lethal purchase to the check-out for you, thereby preventing the possibility that one could whip out a Daisy air rifle, load up, and go on a murderous spree right there in the hunting & fishing aisle!

Perhaps the pendulum is starting to swing in the direction of common sense.

US officials hail major breakthrough in terror war as "number two" al Qaeda leader killed again

Oh for fucks sake. Come on, US officials, how many times can you get al Qaeda's number two leader?

These terrorists must have more vice-presidents than GM back in the seventies. I suppose it could be true though. After all, every time they get "number two" another number three guy gets a promotion.

The scoop on this particular kill is that the target was packed into a car with six others, all of whom were dispatched to paradise. Let's do the math. Six towellers in a Toyota... we're talking extended families that number into the tens of thousands, every one of them now sworn to seek revenge on America.

This is a major breakthrough in the war on terror?

By God, this really could be the war that never ends!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The rampant hypocrisy of the BBC

I was watching a bit of Stephen Sackur's interview with a Bahraini human rights activist tonight.

Bahrain is one of those Arab statelets that will never be allowed their Arab Spring, mainly because Bahrain is an important way station for the US Navy.

The Shia of Bahrain have been protesting hard against their Sunni overlords. While Shia are the majority in Bahrain, their protests have been snuffed by the interference of the Saudi military, with the full connivance of the USA.

Sackur seemed determined to pin the failure of Bahrain Spring on the fact that the Bahraini protesters have resorted to violence. Apparently some Molotov cocktails have been tossed in the direction of the police.

Contrast that with how the BBC treats the Syrian war. No criticism of the "protesters" resort to violence there.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

The ten thousand stories in my garage

I was just out there twisting one up. I'm twisting Kipling's organic homegrown, and I'm twisting it in a vintage Pall Mall cigarette tin that would probably fetch fifty bucks at a flea market.

That's just one of the cigarette tins I inherited from Grampa McMahon. He was the grandfather of my second wife and the great grandfather of my children.

Or at least one of them. Not one of the children... I mean he was one of their great grandfathers.

Grampa's wife was a Heintzman. She had several brothers who worked at a piano manufactury of the same name.

That would make for a few stories!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

When I had the farmhouse here at Falling Downs refitted with a new electrical service a couple years ago, I had a 220 welding plug installed in the garage.

I had high hopes.

Just to get in to twist something up I have to negotiate a utility trailer registered in the name of Bruno Neumann. That would probably make half a dozen stories right there.

And a snow-blower that is sitting just in front of the garage, waiting for me to replace a tire before winter comes. More stories.

And then there's an amplifier and a number of guitars before I can reach for that Pall Mall tin which is right by the poster for the fund-raiser for that kid who died in a car crash.

By God, we've got another dozen stories!

And so far I've only got five feet into the garage! Go back a little further and you've got the camping supplies. Camping. Holy shit, I could write a book just of camping stories.

We do have the workbenches that one would expect in a garage, but they are covered in clutter from one end to the other.

Miscellany from screws and screwdrivers to cordless screwdrivers to hammers and nails and saws and chainsaws and sockets and wrenches and tool accessories of all sorts.

And a bag that fits onto the last lawnmower I bought that will catch the grass clippings.

Hey, that's the very machine I sliced Stumpy with...

At least ten thousand stories...

No wonder I never get anything done.


Hooked on classics

Back in the day there was a used book store on Quebec Street in Guelph, right by the alley that separated it from the Woolworths store.  The old bag who ran it had a steady clientele of aging perverts trading in their pervert magazines. She also recycled textbooks and novels and virtually every embodiment of the printed word that you could imagine.

Including car magazines. Car Craft, Hot Rod, Car and Driver... you name it, they were all there for a quarter of the cover price, and often not more than a month or two old.

The old bag had an inherent suspicion of anyone walking into the store not wearing a trench coat and a week of stubble. She'd be sitting behind a pile of books at her desk, chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes and doling out toxic stink-eye to young customers like me.

One day I left her store clutching a new purchase that had a 1966 Comet  Cyclone on the cover. As I blinked my way into the sunlit street I suddenly froze; there in front of me was a 1966 Comet Cyclone!

Red with a black vinyl roof. Twin scoops. 390 cubes under the hood.

And it was running! An empty car just sitting there, its rumpa rumpa rumpa idle making my hair stand up. What a moment!

That was still a couple of years before I was a legal licensed driver. When I hit that age I was shopping for cars that had the rumpa idle. I was working at John's Supertest at the time. The Leader boys at the Gulf station down the road had a couple of cars for sale.

A 65 Chevelle and a 64 Chevy II.

The Chevelle was out of my price range, but I figured I could manage the cost of the Chevy II. It was a 283 four speed and it went like stink. I hemmed and I hawed and by the time I got around to making a decision it was sold.

To Kipling.

I made do with lesser cars for awhile, all the time keeping an eye out for the right purchase. I almost had a 413 Dodge but Earl Vollet beat me to the bank. Finally I gave up and factory ordered a brand new 340 Plymouth Duster.

That was the first of a run of 340's. My Mopar string was occasionally interrupted. Once by a 348 Pontiac convertible with a four speed. By a 1967 Impala SS with a 327 and powerglide. By a 1973 SD 455 Trans Am.

Kipling meanwhile went from strength to strength. From that Chevy II to a big-block Cuda to a big block Chevelle that had been on the SS/D drag racing circuit the year before, and then that hemi Charger.

Other friends had other classics. Barney had not one but two 396/375 Novas. One was a no option bench seat four speed with 4:56 gears in the back. The other was an automatic. Power steering, vinyl roof, black on burgundy.

Johnny had a Super-bee with a full race 383. Kenny had a 327 Chevy II that could outrun any 340 Mopar in town in the quarter.

The quarter mile we ran on most was out on the Highway 86, right in front of my house. That was the favored local dragstrip from the time my parents moved there in 1967. A typical meet in the late sixties involved dozens of cars, hundreds of spectators, look-outs with walkie-talkies.

A guy named Rinehart lived one concession over and had a 68 Mustang with a 427 side-oiler. He had a couple of younger brothers who were making a name for themselves in local hockey circles. One of them eventually became a big deal in the NHL.

Rinehart used to run on the 86 with open headers. Rumor had it the car had been on the NHRA Super Stock circuit the year before. I could hear his car from the moment he fired it up a concession away. That was a low 11 second car - maybe even high tens.

The racing would go on until the OPP arrived.

Alas, times changed. Some of the drag racing guys got into the drug dealing culture.

Most of them got into the family & jobs & mortgage culture.

Fast cars went away.

When I stick my foot in the Mustang fifty today I can only leave it there for a few seconds. 100mph comes up much too fast, and I have no desire to go any faster.

You can go to your local Subaru dealer today and buy a new Subaru that will beat most of those old school muscle cars in the quarter mile.

But it totally won't give you that rumpa rumpa big block idle that made your hair stand up back in 1966.




Blackjack and blowjobs: Sheldon Adelson's plan to save Spain

Hallelujah! Sheldon has saved Spain from the Eurocrisis! Hell, he may even have just single-handedly saved the Euro!

How? By creating 300,000 jobs!

How is he doing that?

By building casinos! Yes, casinos in Spain! What a visionary! Why has no one thought of this before?

Already the usual pinko anti-semitic Adelson-haters are casting aspersions on his Spanish Salvation Strategy.

Oh, but prostitution rates will go through the roof, they whine. What rubbish! Prostitution is a viable career choice. A dozen new casinos in Madrid will create tens of thousands of new positions for prostitutes.

Oh, but the jobs will be of low quality, they whinge. What nonsense! Yes, it's true that Adelson is negotiating for an exemption from minimum wage laws for his casinos, but a job is a job. Making half the minimum wage is still twice as good as nothing!

So carry on Adelson, you are an inspiration! Don't let the naysayers and the back-stabbers slow you down. Once the Spaniards realize the full munificence of your casino plans, I'm sure they'll be thrilled to subsidize your construction costs, guarantee low-interest loans, and waive the minimum wage laws.

The future of the Eurozone hangs in the balance.

A few questions about the Glencore-Xstrada deal

That's not Marc Rich hiding behind the curtain, is it?

There can be few public companies that have as extensive a track record in the art of the shady deal as Glencore.

Bribery and corruption were a way of life. Every boycott or sanction or embargo was seen as a business opportunity.

Pay off a dictator to get lucrative mining concessions? How much?

Sell Iranian oil to Israel? No problem!

Mind you, most of the dirty business happened before they went public. The added scrutiny of being a public company seems to be slowing them down somewhat. Since their IPO in early 2011 their share price has lost about a quarter of its value. Not only that, but their corporate debt is at serious risk of a ratings downgrade.

So it's obvious why they want Xstrata. Forget about efficiencies of scale and corporate synergies. It's about getting their hands on billions of dollars in annual operating profit.

The media are starting to talk about this as a "hostile" takeover, and I'm not sure such a conclusion is warranted. Both companies are run by Marc Rich proteges. Xstrata is too big and too public a company to be run according to the "we'll do whatever we can get away with" ethos that has prevailed at Glencore.

The global climate for mining conglomerates is what's getting hostile, not this takeover. Governments in many parts of the world are not nearly as easy to bribe and bully into acquiescence as they were even twenty years ago. That's a trend that will gain momentum going forward. It's a trend that will make new operations far more expensive to bring on stream.

That makes established operations that much more valuable, and I don't think that value comes close to being reflected in the share swap on offer. Glencore is already the largest Xstrata shareholder. Once they have control they'll be able to do what they want with that cash flow.

That's bound to be good news for Glencore insiders, but not necessarily for the other shareholders.



Friday, September 7, 2012

Canada closes Iran embassy in anticipation of Israeli nuke attack

There can be no doubt that Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird and his personal Rabbi are very very tight with the Netanyahu gang.

Out of the blue, Baird pulls all Canadian diplomats out of Iran and shuts down the embassy.

Yes, he made some noises about human rights etc.

This is from the FM of a country that signed free trade agreements with both Honduras and Colombia in the last year, so obviously anything the Canadians say about human rights vis-a-vis Iran is just a smoke screen.

What does Baird know that you and I don't?

Canada: the mouse that squeaked

Canada's generally befuddled Foreign Minister John Baird is back in the headlines after a brief hiatus.

This time he's announced the closure of the Canadian embasssy in Tehran and the expulsion of Iranian diplomats from Canada.

Baird has a three-fold reason for the move. One, various towellers keep talking nasty stuff about Israel. Baird has a soft spot in his heart for the Holy Land and while he knows there's not much he'll be able to do for Israel in the event of a hot war, he can at least make this symbolic gesture during the ongoing Iran-Israel cold war.

Secondly, Baird has inside information from Israel that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Shutting down the Canadian embassy in Iran will at least save a few Canadian lives when the Israelis nuke the Iranian nuclear program.

Third, Baird has concluded that Iran is the biggest threat to world peace, and figures it would be better not to talk to people who are a threat to world peace.

Ironically, polls conducted by the European Union and the Pew Research Group in Europe and the Middle East consistently show that the vast majority of people who live a lot closer to Iran than Baird does see the USA and Israel as the biggest threats to world peace.

No word on when Baird plans to close the Canadian embassies in Washington and Tel Aviv.