Category Archives: Canada

Oh Canada! I Stand On Guard For Thee, v.2

It’s time to debunk some more cherished right-wing myths about Canadian healthcare. No, Canadian doctors are not flooding across the border to practice here, and no, Canadians are not flooding across the border to get their care here. In particular:

When I look at that tiny little sliver in the middle representing those who choose to come to the U.S. for their care or are forced to by an emergency, I just laugh my ass off. Yet it seems the conventional wisdom is that Canadian healthcare sucks. Even some doctors are repeating that lie, because they all “know someone who knows a doctor from Canada” who “couldn’t practice there” and was “forced to move here.” It’s like the old lie about hippies spitting on Vietnam War veterans: everyone claimed they knew someone who knew someone this happened to; no one could ever actually find “the someone” it happened to. Ah, zombie lies, they just won’t die.

The problem with Republicans is that they just make shit up and the problem with the Democrats and the “liberal media” is that they let them. Remember when Sen. Bob Corker claimed that Canadians were leeching off of America’s medical innovation? He actually used the word “parasites.” What an ass.

Robert Stein had a really good post up yesterday about this tendency for Republicans to just make shit up, be it making Paul Revere’s famed ride about gun rights and bell-ringing or making specious claims about Canada’s excellent healthcare system. It’s part of a general tendency towards dumbing down American politics, he says. Mainlining stupidity is a two-pronged process, he observes: first Republicans demonize knowledge and expertise or those with knowledge and expertise, then they replace it with misinformation. And then suddenly Republicans have one set of facts, Democrats have another, and nothing ever gets done because we can’t even agree on the problems let alone find solutions. Once upon a time we had the media to referee such conflicts and remind everyone what the facts were; today, though, the media is stuck in its “well, there’s two sides to every story!” rut. They’ve largely abrogated their responsibility to the American public and no one has stepped in to replace them.

This is a big problem for America today but I don’t see it changing any time soon. Far too many people are profiting far too much from keeping the populace dumb and divided.

Adding … Alex Bennett, who is not someone I normally listen to or even like, just made a really good point. He said the reason stories like Weinergate take off is that they’re easy for everyone to have an opinion about them. If you want to talk about healthcare (or Libya, which was the example Bennett used), you need to know something about these topics, you need to know who Qaddafi is, you need to know something about the Canadian healthcare system, whatever. But even people who know nothing about politics can have an opinion about Weinergate.

And I think this is just another component of the dumbing-down of America. We have more people who don’t know anything about important things, so the trivial stuff ends up dominating our discourse.


Filed under Canada, healthcare, Sen. Bob Corker

Rebel, Rebel

Of all the stupid debates in the modern American discourse, the brouhaha over a Canadian couple’s desire to keep their baby’s gender secret has to be the most ludicrous.

Here’s Mitch Albom, author of such wretchedly insipid bestsellers as Tuesdays With Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven, tsk-tsking about the family in his syndicated column:

Meanwhile, Storm’s two older brothers — Jazz, 5, and Kio, 2 — are being raised without formal schooling and taught to choose whatever behavior they like. Jazz, according to the Star, dresses in pink, paints his nails and wears a stud in his ear.

This, we are to believe, is his “choice.” Of course, Mom or Dad made the choice to buy the nail polish, the clothes and the stud. What happens if the child points to a chain saw? They get him that, too?

Ha! And what kind of dirty fucking hippies name their kids Jazz and Kio, amiright? Nail polish? On a boy? It’s a notorious gateway purchase to chain saws!


Let me add that according to Albom’s Wikipedia bio, he and his wife have been married for 16 years and have no children. So maybe he should just STFU.

This story is annoying to me on several fronts. For one thing, every news program has had to weigh in on “the issue,” which I find really puzzling. Who gives a shit about what one isolated family is doing?

And then, helloooo, it’s Canada! Um, ‘scuse me, since when do we give a crap about what folks do in Canada? Aren’t they the land of Socialist medicine and all that? We sure didn’t care during the healthcare debate.

Most annoying are the social conservatives who are just up in arms over this story; here’s one who calls it an “attack on God.” I just love these conservative types who feel it’s their duty to tell everyone else the right way to live and raise their kids. Even people in other countries! And you guys call us the Nanny party? Please. Hey, J. Lee Grady: I have a steaming cup of STFU with your name on it, too.

And finally: am I the only one detecting a huge waft of bullshit over this story? Maybe I’m wrong, but it wouldn’t shock me at all to learn the media had once again been shamelessly punk’d — you know, like how the whole “Botox mom” story was a huge hoax.

The discourse in this country just makes me nuts.


Filed under Canada, child rearing, culture wars, media, Media

Yet ANOTHER Reason To Regulate Carbon Emmissions

Suck on this, Sen. Bob Corker:

“We found a link between post-menopausal breast cancer and exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is a ‘marker’ for traffic-related air pollution,” says Dr. Goldberg. “Across Montreal, levels of NO2 varied between 5 ppb to over 30 ppb. We found that risk increased by about 25 per cent with every increase of NO2 of five parts per billion. Another way of saying this is that women living in the areas with the highest levels of pollution were almost twice as likely to develop breast cancer as those living in the least polluted areas.


Dr. Labrèche adds “Some studies published in the US have also shown possible links between cancer and air pollution. At the moment, we are not in a position to say with assurance that air pollution causes breast cancer. However, we can say that the possible link merits serious investigation. From a public health standpoint, this possible link also argues for actions aimed at reducing traffic-related air pollution in residential areas.”

The study was a collaborative effort by researchers from the Research Institute of the MUHC, McGill University and Université de Montreal. It was funded by a research grant from the Canadian Cancer Society and another one from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

So, scientists have linked traffic-related air pollution to breast cancer. Yes, there needs to be more study, blabbedy blah. But traffic-related air pollution has already been linked to a host of other diseases: from cancer and leukemia to asthma and other upper respiratory diseases. All the more reason why we should dump polluting internal combustion engines in favor of EVs, light rail, and other non-polluting transportation.

And why my dig at Bob Corker? Because this was a Canadian study, of course. I can’t forget how last year, during the height of the healthcare debate, Sen. Corker embarrassed not just Tennessee but all of America by chastising Canada’s former Health Minister for sponging off of American innovation, technology and scientific breakthroughs.

Totally, completely, ridiculously false.

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Filed under air quality, Canada, environment, Sen. Bob Corker

Oh Canada! I Stand On Guard For Thee

One of the most arrogant pieces of ass-hattery coming from the right wing anti-healthcare reform crowd is the allegation that there have been no great medical innovations in countries Not America. It’s our innovation, sparked by the Glorious Free Hand Of The Market, you see, which saves lives.


Today Sen. Bob Corker took that particularly noxious “America! Fuck Yeah!” myth and brought it to new heights of arrogance with today’s WTF moment:

During a hearing of the Special Committee on Aging, the Tennessee Republican told Canada’s former Public Health Minister, Dr. Carolyn Bennett, that her country is “living off of us” because they set lower prices for health care and “all the innovation, all the technology breakthroughs just about take place in our country and we have to pay for it.”

“It is not really our country so much is the problem, it’s sort of the parasitic relationship that Canada, and France, and other countries have towards us,” Corker said. “…You benefit from us, and we pay for that. And I resent that, and I want to figure out a way to solve that.”

Excuse me? France and Canada are parasites on us? Because they’re just sucking off our technological breakthroughs? And you told this to the former Canadian public health minister?

Did she laugh in your face? Or did she show more manners than you did with your little outburst? Just wondering.

Sen. Corker, you have officially embarrassed me with your ignorance and your hubris. So let me give you a little schooling on some Canadian medical breakthroughs (mine is an abbreviated list, but the complete list is at the link):

• 1912 First surgical treatment of tuberculosis. (McGill University Health Centre Research Institute — Montreal, Quebec)

• 1922 First clinical use of insulin for diabetes in human patients. (University Health Network — Toronto, Ontario)

• 1950 Introduction of lumpectomy for treatment of breast cancer. Lumpectomy is a surgical procedure designed to remove a discrete lump (usually a tumour, benign or otherwise) from an affected woman or man’s breast. (University Health Network — Toronto, Ontario)

• 1951 First “cobalt bomb” in the world used to deliver radiation therapy to cancer patients. (Lawson Health Research Institute — London, Ontario)

• 1952 First use of a device that determines whether or not a patient’s thyroid is cancerous through the use of radioactive iodine. (Saskatoon Health Region — Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)

• 1958 World first surgical treatment on cerebral aneurysms. (Lawson Health Research Institute — London, Ontario)

Wow. Major innovations in cancer treatment in a country that did not invent the pink ribbon? I cannot believe it.

Want some more? Okie dokie:

• 1960 Implementation of genetic screening programs for hereditary metabolic diseases in newborns. (McGill University Health Centre Research Institute — Montreal, Quebec)

• 1961 Discovery of blood-forming stem cells enabling bone marrow transplants. (University Health Network — Toronto, Ontario)

• 1983 Successful single lung transplant. Lung transplants extend life expectancy and enhance the quality of life for end-stage pulmonary patients. (University Health Network — Toronto, Ontario)

• 1983 The Department of Nuclear Medicine becomes first to use a special imaging agent to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Called [18] F6-fluorodopa PET, the chemical was produced by Hamilton Health Sciences and is now used worldwide. (Hamilton Health Sciences/McMaster University – Hamilton, Ontario)

• 1988 World’s first successful liver/small bowel transplant is performed. (Lawson Health Research Institute — London, Ontario)

• 1993 Discovery of a novel gene associated with Lou-Gehrig’s disease. (McGill University Health Centre Research Institute — Montreal, Quebec)

• 1995 First physical map of the human genome created. (McGill University Health Centre Research Institute — Montreal, Quebec)

• 1996 Identification of a gene that causes colon cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Canadians. (Hospital for Sick Children — Toronto, Ontario)

I could go on … and on … and on … Frankly, the recent medical breakthroughs are far too technical for me to understand fully, but do go to the link and check it out.

I’ll tackle the issue of France later. Right now, I’m too disgusted with our Republicans in Congress, and my own Senator in particular, and need to cool off.


Filed under Canada, healthcare, Sen. Bob Corker

>Some Foreign Policy Questions For Sarah Palin

>Sarah Palin’s latest gaffe occurred when Katie Couric asked about her foreign policy experience. She replied:

“As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.”

Really? That’s foreign policy experience? Watching Putin’s plane fly overhead?

Surely there are some bigger foreign policy issues that Sarah Palin might have been involved with. For instance, what did she do last year when Putin claimed the North Pole:

Late last month, Moscow signaled its intentions to annex the entire North Pole, an area twice the size of France with Belgium and Switzerland thrown in — except all of it under water.

The ice-frozen North Pole is currently a no man’s land supervised by a U.N. Commission. The five Polar countries — Russia, the U.S., Canada, Norway and Denmark — each control only a 200-mile economic zone along their coasts. And none of these economic zones reach the North Pole. Under the current U.N. Maritime convention, one country’s zone can be extended only if it can prove that the continental shelf into which it wishes to expand is a natural extension of its own territory, by showing that it shares a similar geological structure.

So, the Russians claimed a great scientific discovery late last month. An expedition of 50 scientists that spent 45 days aboard the Rossia nuclear ice-breaker found that an underwater ridge (the Lomonosov ridge) directly links Russia’s Arctic coast to the North Pole. This, they insist, surely guarantees Russia’s rights over a vast Polar territory that also happens to contain some 10 billion tons of oil and natural gas deposits.

Did Gov. Palin do anything at all when Putin claimed this huge resource?

Probably not. Probably this is a matter for the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to take up (as indeed they will when the Commission meets in 2009). Because the truth of the matter is, when it comes to matters of foreign policy, the governor of any one individual state really doesn’t have that much input to give.

What about Canada? Alaska shares a physical border with Canada, which has been disputed since the Alaska purchase. Why doesn’t anyone in the media ask Gov. Palin about her role now that global warming has caused the Canada-Alaska boundary dispute to heat up:

“(The treaty) will secure U.S. sovereign rights over extensive marine areas, including the valuable natural resources they contain,” Bush said.

One of the areas Bush likely has in mind is the water along the border between Alaska and the Yukon.

Canada has long insisted the international border continues through the ocean in a straight line from the land. The U.S. argues instead that the border angles 30 degrees to the east.

The area is considered to have high oil and gas potential. Alaska has put exploration rights to the block up for sale several times, but no company has bid on it while its nationality remains disputed.

So, has Gov. Sarah Palin offered her foreign policy expertise on these delicate international boundary issues? Once again, it sounds like this is a foreign policy issue the President and U.S. Senate would handle.

I dunno, maybe she’s been an integral part of these Russian/Canadian boundary disputes. Somehow, though, I think not. Somehow I think if she had been involved in these issues affecting the boundaries of her state, we’d have heard her say something other than “you can see Russia from an island in Alaska” when pressed to give some foreign policy credentials.

Because the truth is, there’s just not much foreign policy involved in being a governor, I don’t care where your state is located. Remember in 2000 how Bush allegedly had foreign policy experience because Texas borders Mexico? That worked out so well for us.

(H/T, DailyKos diarist taricha).

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Filed under Canada, Russia, Sarah Palin