Monthly Archives: January 2011

Obama talks plenty but says nothing

Tuesday’s State of the Union address confirms that the president of the United States is a boring blatherskite. The nation will survive, but it’s bad news for them and us, given the key U.S. role in preserving order and liberty in the world and the enduring appeal of his vacuous sort of style to progressives.

The speech was awful in several dimensions starting with a painful failed laugh line about oil company prosperity (the White House transcript obsequiously indicated “laughter” that their video, also available online, makes clear did not happen). You’d think someone in the White House would know what members of Congress find funny.

Or patronizing; if anyone doesn’t need an undergraduate lecture on the virtues of public discussion it’s them. I realize the president wasn’t really talking to Congress. He was trying to go over their heads to the American people … who just handed House Democrats the largest midterm defeat since 1938 and gave Republicans the biggest gain in state legislative seats ever. Continue reading

Online we lose our decency/pants

Did we lose our minds, and our pants, when we went online? I have to ask because of a news story about a guy who used women’s Facebook profiles to hijack their e-mail accounts, retrieve the nude photos they’d sent of themselves, and humiliate or blackmail them. Yes. I said nude photos.

MSNBC says in nine months this wretch hijacked the accounts of hundreds of women and wound up with “more than 170 files of explicit photographs stolen from e-mail accounts he had hijacked.” Remember, he wasn’t able to target known senders of nude pictures. His victims were just foolish enough to list on Facebook the personal details you’d need to answer typical “Forgot your password?” questions about your mother’s maiden name, favourite food etc. And hundreds of them had self-published porn pictures sitting around in their Sent Items folders.

Can someone tell me what is going on? In the pre-Internet era, how many women were sending out nude Polaroids of themselves? And at least back then it was laborious to create copies. The Internet seems to affect people the way that T-shirt says tequila does: First you think you’re invulnerable, then you think you’re invisible. Why? Continue reading

Toxic commentary about toxic commentary

The irony in commentary about toxic American political rhetoric after Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot is how toxic the commentary is. If the American right really had a particular penchant for murderous language and ideas it would be important to say it. But it’s just not true.

In one sense it doesn’t matter because the suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, appears to be insane. But if we are going there, let’s go the full distance: He appears to be an atheist Nietzschean enthusiast for the Communist Manifesto whose obsession with language resembles the PC fixation on “privileged discourse.” So let’s try to stick to the facts. Continue reading

We need more backbenchers

Just how excited are you that Julian Fantino is now secretary of state for seniors while Diane Ablonczy traded that prune for the obscurity of secretary of state for the Americas from which Peter Kent vaulted to minister of the environment? What? Didn’t you see all the stories we wrote?

See, this mini-shuffle means Prime Minister Stephen Harper may or may not be keen on a spring election while his government’s position on the environment may become more evasive — unless it already was. Surely that’s worth putting on the front page and quoting opposition and government politicians saying exactly what they would say anyway about this very minor shuffle.

The only remotely pertinent comment I detected was NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair saying that “Mr. Kent will be there to deliver the lines that are prepared for him by the Prime Minister’s Office,” and “The arrival of the fifth environment minister in five years augurs nothing well for future generations.” Continue reading