A live video feed (with sound) on the Internet from a watering hole in Botswana. I opened up the link to hear the grunts and squawks of strange birds, and see this elephant calmly drinking. It’s about 8:37 AM there, which happens to be the peak viewing time. I’ll say.This is eerie and wonderful all in the same moment. The Internet just keeps amazing me.
I was watching a little TV this evening, around 7 PM. On the Canadian Comedy Network (which often airs shows like the US Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, Crank Yankers and South Park), a Canadian Sketch comedy program called Royal Canadian Air Farce aired. At first, there was nothing too controversial. I caught a guy with green hair (the green paint was a product that covered grey) on a date/commercial. Some other silliness. Then, right near the end, they had three of the male cast members in camouflage uniforms and helmets. After some more silly talk, they announced who had won the “Royal Canadian Air Farce Chicken Hawk Target Award”. It was Bush. Well, that was just the beginning. They then load up a big cannon with all kinds of nasty ‘metaphorical’ ingredients including oil, feces, something from a can, and finally after many other disgusting additions, add some ‘sugar so that everything ends up seeming all nice’. Then they shoot the whole mess point blank at a big photo of a smirking George W. Bush. The crowd goes wild. “Try and invade that, George W.!” says the cast member playing a sort of General.
Things must have really gotten bad, when even friendly neighboring countries literally shoot shit at the US President. Then I was even more shocked to learn that this was filmed in 2002! With the CBC strike, Canadian Air Farce, which is a CBC program, is in reruns until the labour dispute is settled. So this is what the irreverent comedians were doing to cheering crowds 3 years ago. I can’t even imagine what they’d be airing today in new shows. This 2002 spot made The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart look positively deferential.
I have to admit that I had mixed feelings watching this. Part of me was thinking ‘Hey, this is great! They agree with me! A whole country on my side!’ But then it began to sink into me (perhaps the old conditioning that goes back to kindergarten and first grade, where we placed our hand on our hearts and pledged allegiance to the flag). The US Presidency is still something that somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I hold as something elevated, to be respected if not liked. To see a US President, even one who I hate more than any of them in my life (even Nixon, who I remember with as much loathing as a twelve year-old’s memory can bring forth), shot with excrement from a cannon… That glee somehow began to melt into shame. I didn’t vote for that smirking buffoon, and even left the country due in a large part to him, but I couldn’t bring myself to hurl (or shoot) crap at his effigy. At least not without a good evening’s worth of drinking.
In honor of the indictment of Tom Delay, the new revelations of insider trading by William Frist, the continuing story of incompetent crony Michael Brown, and of course, the CIA-outing Karl Rove, as well as the rest of the Bush gang, I offer this marvelous ad parody by 2 Political Junkies . It just doesn’t get any better (or worse) than this, folks:
Just when I thought the Bush Administration couldn’t get any more corrupt, they actually use another disaster to befall Americans on their watch (Hurricane Katrina) to help them further their own cronyism. This one even reached CNN:
About 250,000 federal employees have government credit cards, which typically have a purchase limit of $2,500.
At the request of the Bush administration, Congress increased the credit line to $250,000 as part of a massive Katrina recovery bill approved last week. The aim is to make it easier to speed aid to victims.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the “outrageous increase” was “slipped” into the bill. He is seeking to insert language in a Katrina health bill that would reduce the limit in most cases to $50,000.
Under the guise of ‘making it easier to speed aid to victims’, all of the checks and balances on abuse, the built-in encouragement to help Women and Minority-owned businesses and local businesses go out the window if your expense is less than $250,000.
So, let me get this straight: With little to no oversight, a federal employee with a government credit card could pretty much finance the building of a house, if they want, no questions asked. Or maybe they could charge a trip to tour facilities in, say, Las Vegas, to get an update on the latest construction techniques (wink, wink). If we thought the rebuilding of Iraq was a gift to Haliburton in no-bid contracts, try multiplying that by 250,000 people, all with carte blanche (although I assume the cards they have are Visas or Mastercards). Apparently there was a minor update to this after Grassley’s uproar, and they need a ‘signature’ from another government official for expenditures over $50,000. Oh that changes everything.
Here in Canada there was a huge uproar over corruption by the Liberal Party for funneling about $81 million (CAD) in funds to an advertising agency with ties to their party for little or no work. To put that in perspective, Halliburton, which has pretty close ties to the current administration, was again in the news about their contracts in Louisiana. And as for their sterling reputation in Iraq:
All told, Halliburton has earned more than $12 billion in Iraq. Pentagon audits released by Democratic party in June showed $1.03 billion in “questioned” costs and $422 million in “unsupported” costs for Halliburton’s work in Iraq.
— from a report published Sept. 22, 2005 by Pratap Chatterjee, an investigative writer who is currently Director of CorpWatch.org.
All in all, I’d say that Canada has a lot to learn in the corruption game. $81 million? Heck, I’ll bet that Halliburton has that kind of pocket change fall out as they lean over their rigs in Bagdad. As Crocodile Dundee said: “That’s not a knife…”
Maybe if the Government of Canada gave, say, a quarter of a million of their employees a credit card with a quarter of million dollar credit limit, then we’d be talking scandal.
Or maybe it’s just business as usual in the country to the south of us these days.
We realized that this Friday very will might be one of our last days of warm weather, and it was an uncharacteristically clear day (as you can see). So on a whim, we hopped on a #4 bus to downtown, continued on the Skytrain a couple of stops to Waterfront station, got on the Seabus to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver, and promptly stepped on the #236 bus to Grouse Mountain. I mention these details because it’s remarkable that all of these unplanned connections gave us a trip time of no more than 50 minutes, door to gondola.
Grouse Mountain is a unique attraction. I don’t think I know of any other place where you get a nice high peak that looks out on cities, other mountains, a river and an ocean, and is reachable solely by public transportation with no prior planning. It’s also well maintained and comfortable. After a spectacular gondola ride, up top we ate a nice lunch at the Altitudes Café (including some absolutely wonderful fish soup that was chunky and spicey). We saw a bit of the lumberjack demonstration (a charming bit of Universal Studios-style hamming it up), and gawked at the white wolves, grizzly bears (and I saw firsthand that bears do not necessarily shit in the woods, but sometimes do it very much in plain view of hundreds of tourists, fortunately behind an electric fence). We saw paragliders and helicopters take off, and walked all the way to the summit to take in a pretty stunning panorama. The air was thin and a bit chilly, but not uncomfortably so.
Tomorrow is the annual ‘Grouse Grind’, where thousands of Vancouverites walk up the mountain for charity. I’m glad we didn’t run into that. I’m also glad that we did finally make it to Grouse, though. We had originally planned it for my birthday, but the smoke from the Burns Bog fire (which was finally put out a couple of days ago after burning for 11 days) and an affair that took over the facility kept us until today. There’s a slide show on flickr of our trip at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ddrucker/sets/1005306/