Bob Broughton's Blog about British Columbia politics

This time, it's from George Jonas instead of Terence Corcoran. Here's my response:

Editor, National Post;

With the publication of If you won't shoot, don't Taser by George Jonas (Nov. 24), the public discussion of the relationship of tobacco with death and disease has gone full circle.

People in Denial about this relationship have put considerable energy in identifying alternative causes for the many illnesses caused by tobacco; chlorine in swimming pools, x-rays, increased radiation in the environment, even “bad karma”. To relate just one of many cases I am familiar with, Californian Mary Herrin chose to identify her doctor as the cause of her two heart attacks, instead of her cigarette habit; Ms. Herrin died at the age of 58.

What Mr. Jonas has now given us, based on what he calls his own “mini-inquiry”, is that the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport was caused by Dziekanski's cigarette habit, not by over-eager use of tasers by the police. Jonas, however, was not willing to blame Dziekanski for his own addiction to cigarettes. Nor was he willing to blame the manufacturers of the cigarettes Dziekanski consumed, even though those manufacturers lied to the public for many years about the adverse effects of their products, including the addictive nature of them.

Instead, Jonas chose to blame “Big Nanny”.

This is silly nonsense. No “nanny”, big or small, deprived Dziekanski of the ability to communicate in either of Canada's official languages. No nanny separated him from the relatives he was supposed to meet at the airport. No nanny caused him to “create a disturbance”, attracting the attention of the police. No nanny caused the police to over-react.

George Jonas may well be looking for a big nanny to change his diapers for him. Good luck with finding a volunteer.

Robert Broughton

I had been planning for several days to put up something about the latest act of barbarism from Saudi Arabia, the sentencing of an anonymous woman known as the "Qatif Girl" to 200 lashes and six months in prison for being a rape victim. Much to my surprise, The Province beat me to it; they ran this column by Dan Gardner: A carbon tax is necessary to stop oil from bolstering a barbarous regime.

Here's another story from a favourite site of mine, Crooks and Liars: Saudi Arabia’s atrocity.
A Kitsilano-based grassroots organization: Voters Taking Action on Climate Change

As Steven Colbert likes to say, only 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens. Why is the Bush Administration fighting terrorism in Iraq and Iran instead of Saudi Arabia? The Bush family's long-term friendship with the Saudi royal family has somthing to do with it, but Gardner came close to telling us that we help fund Al Qaeda every time we buy a tank of gas. More on this later, but the fact that a right-wing newspaper like The Province is catching on is definitely noteworthy.

I was inspired to write this by The Creepy Similarities Between George W. Bush and Vlad the Impaler, by Marc McDonald. This piece of writing made some interesting points, but there's a fundamental problem with this comparison: although Vlad the Impaler had many serious faults as a human being, nobody ever accused him of being a coward.

It says elsewhere in this blog that George W. Bush is the Caligula of the 21st century. I didn't come up with this idea on my own; I got it from the Goddess of Talk Radio, Randi Rhodes. Randi made this accusation while discussing the subject of torture. The similarities go a lot further, and here's the list I came up with. (Disclaimer: I'm not a hard-core student of ancient Roman history; most of the information presented here about Caligula came from Wikipedia.)

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (a.k.a. Caligula)

George W. Bush

Believed that he was a god.

Convinced the Religious Right that he would represent their interests, an even greater stretch.

Tried to make his horse, Incitatus, a consul.

Appointed Michael Brown, Judges and Stewards Commissioner of the Arabian Horse Association, as Director of FEMA.

Ordered arbitrary arrests and confinement.

Suspended habeas corpus.

Sent troops on illogical military exercises.

Sent troops on illogical military exercises.

Used mercenaries for foreign wars as well as personal bodyguards.

Used mercenaries for foreign wars.

Exhausted the treasury with political payments for support, generosity and extravagance.

Increased the national debt by three trillion dollars.

An eager witness of torture and executions.

Violated international treaties on torture, approved executions of juvenile offenders and mentally retarded people.

Made his palace into a brothel, committed incest with and prostituted his sisters.

Barney Frank, Mark Foley, Larry Craig...

Randi Rhodes' Bush/Caligula comparison was made on her program on Nov. 15, 2005. If you can send me a transcript or a link to a recording of this program, I will be very grateful.

It took a waitress at a Maid-Rite Diner in central Iowa named Anita Esterday to expose all the silliness that passes for press coverage of the 2008 Presidential campaign. Commenting on the media frenzy over whether Sen. Hilary Clinton did or did not leave a tip for her after having a meal at the Maid-Rite, she said, "You people are really nuts. There’s kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now — there’s better things in this world to be thinking about than who served Hillary Clinton at Maid-Rite and who got a tip and who didn’t get a tip."

You can read the rest of the story at The Carpetbagger Report by Steve Benen: Waitress tells campaign reporters: "You people are really nuts". I especially like one of the comments: "Give that waitress a raise and royalties [for sales of the] 'You People Are Really Nuts' Tees."

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Nov. 1 than former RCMP Commissioner Norman Inkster has been appointed Chair of the Advisory Council on National Security. Inkster has been a member of this Council since it was established in 2005.

The remaining tobacco industry executives living in Canada will probably be sleeping better at night knowing that Inkster is looking out for them. The same is true for the members of the tobacco-industry-funded Canadian Convenience Stores Association. After all, how would Canadian convenience stores survive if they didn't have cigarettes to sell?

Those of us who are not tobacco industry executives or convenience store owners should start figuring out how to bring our own bomb-sniffing dogs to the airport with us. Inkster has a history of providing cover for the People in Charge that goes back to the Mulroney government, when he decided not to execute search warrants against Tory backbench MP Richard Grise during the 1988 election campaign.

Today at 7:58 a.m. PDT, the Canadian dollar and US dollar were an even trade for the first time since November 25, 1976.

I've believed for several years that that the Canadian dollar would be at par before Dubya left office. So, this event took place over a year ahead of schedule. Thanks again, George. You are leaving an economic legacy that will be remembered for many years to come.

Story from the Globe and Mail: ‘Strong currency, proud currency'