Friday, March 30, 2007

Bev Oda becomes regular butt of Boing Boing

The folks at Boing Boing take copyright law seriously and they've been withering in their contempt for Canada's Heritage minister Bev Oda. They sounded the alarm about her shameless pre-election money grubbing from multinational and American Entertainment companies, who she then went on to be the Minister responsible for regulating after being elected. Of course she then got caught taking money from them again, while in her role as Heritage Minster and was forced to give the money back.

She and the Harper government have signaled their intention to bring Canadian copyright law into line with the fondest wishes of the American entertainment industry.

As friendly, even sycophantic, as she's been with the industry and corporate leaders she's shunned actual artists and arts groups. Yesterday at a Canadian Museums Association luncheon where she was the speaker, the President of the Association tried to present her with a boomerang to represent how promises will always come back to you. It was a pointed reminder of the promise of a comprehensive museum plan and funding guarantee the Conservatives made in the last election and have ignored ever since.

Oda stiffly refused the Boomerang and fled the room.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Canada's answer to Ann Coulter

Rachel Marsden, former Gurmant Grewal aide under a false name and infamous serial stalker who Peter Worthington once described as "good looking ... articulate ... but nine miles of bad road." has turned up on Fox News Late Night where they seem to be grooming her to become Coulterbot 2.0.
"Maybe [Pakistani cricket fans] should focus less on cricket and a little more on hygiene," opined Rachel Marsden on a recent episode of Fox News' middle-of-the-night talk oddity "Red Eye." Marsden was adding her two cents to a discussion of murdered Pakistani cricket coach Bob Woolmer, and seemed unaware that she had said anything offensive. But her co-hosts, Greg Gutfeld and Bill Schulz, looked appropriately aghast; Gutfeld was quick to assure viewers that "Red Eye," the Fox-for-frat-boys show he's been hosting with gross-out gusto since Feb. 6, did not endorse Marsden's views on Pakistani hygiene.
She's also making comments about cases of false rape allegations and legal consequences for predatory slander. No conflict there...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Allegations of criminality at the highest levels of the RCMP

RCMP Chief Supt. Fraser MacAulay added: "For the past few years, the RCMP has had a small group of managers who, through their actions and inactions, are responsible for serious breeches in our core values, the RCMP code of conduct and even the Criminal Code."

The officers alleged that Zaccardelli and others blocked investigations and removed some who were asking uncomfortable questions.

In blaming the leadership, Lewis said, "A culture was created by several senior executives where it was a danger for employees to report wrongdoings."

Roll that one around in your head for a bit, really adjust yourself to the statement that within the highest echelons of the RCMP "A culture was created by several senior executives where it was a danger for employees to report wrongdoings."

There's been serious problems in the RCMP for years. Go back twenty years or so and the RCMP were the elite. More money, better equipment and more prestige than the various city police forces - that's completely switched around now and a city cop becoming a Mountie would probably be taking a pay-cut.

Morale, professionalism and management culture all appear from the outside to have taken a steep dive. A proliferation of tragic and and appalling incidents has rocked Canadian confidence in our national police force.

I still don't understand how you can shoot someone in the back of the head in self defense.

This isn't something that can be left to politicians and back rooms anymore. This can't be put off because it's inconvenient to the minority government. This needs a public enquiry, that's not even open to question now.

"A culture was created by several senior executives where it was a danger for employees to report wrongdoings."

Unreal.


Hat-tip to Bene Diction Blogs On

Treated like mushrooms

Kept in the dark and fed on shit.Can't disturb them with any unpleasant truths. It isn't the first time or the first news magazine to do it either.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Boisclair plans to stay on as head of PQ

QUEBEC — Parti Quebecois Leader Andre Boisclair is staying on as party leader and said Tuesday it’s much too early to write off Quebec independence.
Hate to break it to you Andre, but you have about as much chance of still being in the same job in two months as Alberto Gonzales has.

I'm sure the knives are already out.

Vigilante gang operating in Calgary without Police backing

ALBERTA/630 CHED - Calgary's police chief says he was blindsided by the crime-fighting Guardian Angels hitting the city's streets before sharing details of their operations with him.
The red beret wearing vigilante gang claims to have been in touch with Calgary Police Liaison officers as recently as two weeks ago but have publicly launched a showy media campaign without answering vital questions from the Calgary police services about training and operational methods.

I blogged about the Guardian Angels when they first started nosing around Calgary last spring. Paramilitary vigilante gangs have no place on Canadian streets.

Conservative scandals and the authoritarian impulse

For a party that rose out of the Reform Party movement which made an ideological fetish out of being grass-roots oriented and driven by the will of the electorate, the Conservatives flipped over to top down authoritarian machine politics awfully quickly.

Of course the righteous rhetoric about the will of the people was always a bit of a sham as we discovered in my riding of Calgary Centre. Social moderate Jim Silye, a little out of place in the rabid pirhana pool that was the Alberta Reform Party polled his riding. He found out we were overwhelmingly socially moderate to progressive on issues like choice and gay rights. Accordingly he broke with the party and voted for Liberal Government gay rights legislation. He was quickly booted out and replaced by far right social reactionary Eric Lowther who was then beaten three years later by Joe Clark when progressives and gays held their noses and supported him against the then Alliance candidate. Ironically Silye would probably fit in fine now with the mutant center right thing Harper has out of expediency carved the Reform/Alliance/Conservatives into.

Now the Conservatives face a plethora of scandals from the Rob Anders debacle to the Jim Hart Fax and skulduggery in Ontario civic politics that all stem from a single source: Top down control over local riding politics that mirrors a top down dictatorship of the PM's office that makes the famously centralized Paul Martin Liberal government look like an anarchist debate club.

The Pay Day scandal and it's echoes in the Ottawa Mayor's office are the inevitable manifestation of the deep strains of authoritarianism that underlay the thin pseudo-intellectual veneer of faux libertarianism in the Canadian Conservative Party.

There are really only vestiges left of any kind of grass-roots control over what is now called the Conservative Party. Harper doesn't trust his supporters, his staff or his MPs. He certainly doesn't trust his grass-roots. His control is too overt though. As Andrew Sullivan recently said of Karl Rove, if people think of you as a Machivillian schemer that just means you aren't one.

Enemies come together because nobody wants to pay their water bill.

By December 2004, Mr Blair was confident the DUP and Sinn Fein were about to go into business together.

But Mr Paisley said the republicans would have "to wear sackcloth and ashes" to atone for their terrorist record, and the IRA robbed pound stg. 26.5 million ($64.5million) from the Northern Bank.

Mr Blair then struck on the novel idea of sending Peter Hain to Northern Ireland to stir things up.

The new carrot-and-stick strategy required the new Secretary of State to become the most unpopular viceroy since direct British rule was imposed on Northern Ireland in 1972.

"Hain the Pain", as he came to be known, oversaw big cuts in local administration and public spending, threatening water charges for the first time in the province. And he warned of the abolition of its grammar schools.

Both measures, Mr Hain promised, could only be averted if the parties agreed on a plan to restore devolution. Mr Adams and his deputy, Martin McGuinness, were ready to go along.

By signing up to the St Andrew's Agreement in October, Mr Paisley claimed he had removed the threat to the province's selective secondary education - but that left the water charges.

That issue was contentious enough among the locals to act as a catalyst for the DUP and Sinn Fein to give serious thought to reaching a deal.

You know politics have normalized when bitter, blood enemies are forced by the voters to work hand in hand over pocketbook issues like water bills. Blair makes up for a lot - by no means all - by how far he moved the Irish peace process.

When people say 'you can't negotiate with terrorists' it's worth noting that one of the most intractable and bloody generational guerrilla campaigns in history was settled by negotiating with current and former terrorists.

The Palestinians may not be ready for a Gandhi but they could use a Gerry Adams. And Israel could use a John Major, a leader who was willing to turn his back on his party's traditional hostility to the IRA and Sinn Fein to secretly accelerate the peace process.

This particular coalition government may spectacularly flame out and sooner rather than later. But they have an incentive to make it work and just the act of coming together of the Sinn Fein and the DUP eliminates a score of political red lines. Even if this government collapsed, the next one would be easier to establish, more stable and easier to maintain.

Even if this coalition collapses tomorrow or in six months it's very existence has advanced civil society in Northern Ireland tremendously.

And all because nobody wanted to pay their water bills.
Until Sunday, Mr Hain was declaring that the water bills were ready to be sent out to homes across Northern Ireland. But yesterday, he announced they would remain unposted.

Monday, March 26, 2007

More Conservative Candidate Buying?

OTTAWA (CP) - The Ontario Provincial Police have launched an investigation into a sworn affidavit that claims a senior Tory close to Prime Minister Stephen Harper was involved in an alleged bid to buy off an Ottawa mayoralty candidate.

"It's an ongoing investigation at this point," Sgt. Christine Rae of the OPP's east region headquarters in Smiths Falls, Ont., said Monday.

The affidavit, sworn out by former mayoralty candidate Terry Kilrea, names John Reynolds, the co-chairman of the 2006 Conservative election campaign, as the federal contact in a purported Parole Board appointment offer by eventual winner Larry O'Brien. In return, Kilrea was to drop out of Ottawa's 2006 municipal race.

Now we know why the Jim Hart fax surfaced when it did.

This is what the Conservatives will be talking about for the next twenty or thirty news cycles. Not the shiny new budget, not 'settling the fiscal balance', not the environment (small favours) they certainly don't want to campaign with this hanging over their heads.

You have to kind of admire how carefully constructed the timing of this looks. Its never a wise idea to forget how good the Liberal organization is at the lead pipe school of politics.

Hat-tip to Impolitical

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sunday Link Blast - Mar 25

Where Jason got the question from

The pseudo-macho warmongers at the National Review's blog page asked the same question with the same intent.

Sunday Morning

The Velvet Underground

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Pendulum Swing

The Globe and Mail ran an obituary and tribute to economist Alex McLeod last week. He was one of the last of the robust Keynesians, a true believer in interventionist liberal economics.

He had reason to be; as a system Keynesianism had a stunning run of success and surging standards of living for most of the industrialized world. When the chugging economic engine began to sputter in the stagflationary 70's McLeod reluctantly agreed that some retrenchment was necessary but was appalled when the elites took the opportunity to roll back and denigrate all attempts to alleviate capitalism for decades.

Now all that's left of Keynesian economics in the US is Military Keynesianism. Bullets just seemed more fun than butter.

The pendulum had started to swing back - among the public if not among the elites - before 9/11 warped the public discourse away from bread and butter issues on a global level and to a facile us and them 'Look, it's terrorists who hate our freedom!' paradigm that certain political figures still wish we could be distracted with.

But politically the 9/11 distraction appears to have begun to lose it's power. For that we may have the stunning level of grotesque incompetence in the Bush White House to thank. Recent polls in the US show a dramatic sea change in a huge drop in support for the Republican Party and the neo-conservative agenda. In 2000 Ralph Nader got a lot of flack for suggesting that a Bush administration might be a good thing because it would 'heighten the contradictions' it's beginning to appear he may have been 100% right. It's a shame of course so many thousands of Iraqis and Americans had to die before the American people could begin to adjust their thinking.

Here in Canada we've watched a far right neo-conservative party lurch into the mushy middle, publicly of course, much as Schwarzenegger in California and the Moderates in Sweden have. Harper, in accord with the better strategic minds of the conservative movement worldwide has concluded that the next few years will not be kind to the extremes of right wing thought.

He's right.

The pendulum is swinging, strategically the most important job for progressives in the next few years is to define the center as far to the left as possible, both politically and more importantly economically. The reflexive hostility to the shibboleths of interventionism and activist government will stalk the debate of the media and political elites for some time to come. For the rest of the population we need to be ready to argue the real economic and social benefits of the macro-economic view.

There will be more real receptivity in the next few years to changing the basic terms of the debate than there has been in decades. The fight has just started.

Explosive

Diverse featuring Lyrics Born

Friday, March 23, 2007

Jim Hart: 'Here's my itemized price, where's my money?' could mean anything...

Hart says when his resignation was accepted by the party he was asked to provide an estimate of his financial losses in order to protect his family until he found work.

He says the documents in question can be taken out of context or spun in any direction.

Hart says all parties should examine their own track records on members' resignations for their leaders and patronage appointments.

I'm having real trouble interpreting that to mean anything other than 'C'monnnn... Everybody else does it...'

If that's really their defense, that and the farcical argument that the fax can be read as anything other than Hart presenting a bill for services rendered, then they are conceding the document is genuine which means Stockwell is in genuine trouble.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Stockwell Day Cash for Riding Scandal Returns

Liberal MP Mark Holland said documents the party discovered last week raise new questions about whether Day's office negotiated payment to a sitting MP in exchange for his stepping aside in a B.C. riding, something prohibited in the Criminal Code.

The RCMP made some initial inquiries into the issue six years ago but said then that it would not launch a full investigation.

The force said Thursday it had received the documents and is reviewing the matter.

Holland says he believes the RCMP would not have seen the documents in question, which were found among old files in the opposition leader's office.

Thought A: The Liberals have been sitting on this document for a while waiting for a special occasion, and yesterday Harper called Dion a Taliban sympathizer. 'Fuck me? No, Fuck you.'

Thought B: What kind of learning difficulties do you need to have to leave a 'yes I did it' document in an office that you know will be taken over by your bitterest political enemies?

Hat-tip to my friend Ian who puts this in the maybe something, maybe nothing category. Accurately I think.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Don't Hate the Player

Dan The Automator & Hieroglyphics

The Death of internet radio?

The Copyright Royalty Board is about to do the Recording Industry's bidding and kill internet radio stone dead. From Warren Ellis' online community the Engine.

Liberal Betrayal

As expected the Liberals shafted Canadian workers today.

Uncorrected Proofs beat me to listing the breakdown of voting:
How did prominent Liberals vote on Bill C-257?

In favour:

Stronach
Coderre
Fry
Easter

Opposed:

Dion
Martin
Ignatieff
Martin
McCallum
Sgro
Graham
Volpe
Bennett
Brison
Goodale
Dryden

What about the Conservatives?

Only one Conservative MP supported the bill, Jeff Watson from Essex.
For the detailed vote count and parliamentary record go here.

The NDP and Bloc unanimously supported the legislation.

Essex workers have a Conservative MP who clearly cares about their issues, maybe that means he deserves their support. However even in Essex a vote for the Conservatives is unambiguously a vote for a party inimically hostile to labour. They may want to think about that.

And workers in Liberal ridings need to remember this out and out act of betrayal based on a contemptuous condescending lie the next time someone tells them Liberals are so much better for their interests than the Conservatives.

These Liberal MPs just lied to our faces because they know that essential services were not threatened by this law.

They just made it clear that they think trade unionists are irresponsible maniacs who would risk the healths and lives of our fellow Canadians, and that we're too stupid to know when we're being lied to.

Update: Erin at Relentlessly Progressive Economics looks on the bright side.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Something for everybody but First Nations

The Conservative budget as Eugene points out, is a repudiation of the entire governing philosophy the Conservatives have previously claimed to hold dear. This is the kind of budget Harper and the Conservatives would have thundered against if it was laid down by a Liberal Finance Minister. Funny story...

It is in fact a watered down version of the last Martin budget with the serial numbers filed off. We went through an election and a year of the Conservatives learning the hard lessons of surviving in a minority to get essentially the same government we would have gotten had Martin won.

The exceptions are a mangled insufficient patchwork of incentives that have failed everywhere they've been tried instead of a real childcare plan and nothing even remotely comparable to the Kelowna Accord.

This budget is, you'll forgive the crudity, a big 'fuck you' to Canada's natives.

This is at a time that the living standards of Canada's natives are a matter of international concern and shame. Whole communities are falling victim to decay, non-existent infrastructure, gruesome school drop out rates and an escalating crisis of drugs, gangs, soaring prison population and despair. This the backdrop to inaction, because the Conservative budget doesn't even attempt to address Canada's First Nations.

Can Canada survive as the kind of country we want it to be with a calcified permanent racial underclass?

What little proposals the Conservatives have made on native issues seem to indicate an intense hostility for actual natives. An agenda of dismantling native communities and absorbing them into larger towns and cities has already been established. The bitter Conservative hostility to traditional communal values among natives can be seen in a home ownership program that seems designed to undermine native communities rather than support them, and no funding for desperately needed social housing.

There are serious problems in some communities, but destabalizing all of them based on ideological aversion to traditional communal structures, in the most condescendingly paternalistic manner possible no less, is not a solution.

The almost tears in Phil Fontaine's eyes told the story. Our government has just fatally undermined the current leadership in Canada's First Nations.
We have patiently waited a long time for action. This budget only allows for enough money to continue the management of misery."
When this summer gets hot - and it's going to get very hot on barricades all over Canada - this budget and its breathtaking and irresponsible disdain for any real effort on the First Nations file will be the spark that lit the fuse.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sunshine

Handsome Boy Modeling School

Hearts and Minds?

Afghan civilians are increasingly turning against Canadian troops and their country's government and toward support of the Taliban, according to a large-scale survey conducted in southern Afghanistan this month.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

All Alone

Gorillaz and Roots Manuva - Live

Sunday Link Blast - March 18

Question.

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday peace talks with the Palestinian coalition government would be impossible as long as it refuses to renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist.
...

The coalition platform, however, appears to implicitly recognize Israel by calling for a Palestinian state on lands the Israelis captured in 1967, in contrast with Hamas' past calls to eliminate Israel altogether.

It also pledges to ``respect'' previous agreements with Israel and authorizes Abbas to conduct future peace talks. Any future deal would be submitted to a national referendum, apparently taking away veto power from Hamas.

As recently as last march Israeli leader Ehud Olmert reaffirmed his belief in the concept of Greater Israel including the occupied territories, in a speech to the US Congress no less:

I believed, and to this day still believe, in our people's eternal and historic right to this entire land.

To be clear this means that the leader of Israel denies the right of Palestine to exist. Government Minister Avigdor Lieberman has in the recent past, gone so far as to advocate ethnic cleansing to achieve Greater Israel.

Are the government of Israel or it's Ministers required to renounce such views and affirm the State of Palestine's right to exist? Should they be?

Update: Jacob's Super Patented Brain comes up with the same question and others.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mouseland

Worth seeing again in light of recent events:

A Purge in Cherniak Land

Liblogs owner Jason Cherniak is busily banning anyone left of center from the rolls and rigidly protecting the ideological purity of his little empire.

After the crap Robert was put through over one thoughtless remark, Cherniak still thirsts for blood and Liblogs are now turning inward and chewing at their own vitals. For someone who has the shits, the fits and the blind staggers at any chance to tar an ideological foe as an anti-Semite, he sure acts like Adolph losing his shit in the bunker.

From now on the only fair assumption when reading any blog branded with the Liblogs banner is that it has received the official Cherniak seal of ideological approval.

Personally, if Dippers was run the same way I wouldn't be a member; I run this blog, and there are no seals of approval here.

If nothing else, this certainly indicates some real worry about the NDPs slick new ads under the reflexive scorn from professional Liberals.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not even the Pentagon can deny it any longer

Iraq is officially in a Civil War.
Unlike previous reports, the one released yesterday depicted some aspects of the Iraq conflict as a civil war.

"Some elements of the situation in Iraq are properly descriptive of a 'civil war,' including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities and mobilization, the changing character of the violence, and population displacements," it said, echoing the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq released in January.

"Illegally armed groups are engaged in a self-sustaining cycle of politically motivated violence, using tactics that include indiscriminate bombing, murder, and indirect fire to intimidate people and stoke sectarian conflict," the Pentagon report said.

In one week Liberal MPs show their true colours.

Next Wednesday the 21st, Bill C-257 the Anti-scab law comes before the House.

After supporting the private members bill brought by a Bloc MP all the way up to winning second reading in the House Stephane Dion and the Liberal leadership ginned up a phony threat to essential services and sandbagged Canadian Labour.

The fundamental unambiguous lie at the center of the Liberals cop out bespeaks of a disrespect bordering on out-right contempt for Canadian workers. Essential services were not and are not threatened by this law. The contrived amendments that Dion seized on were irrelevant frills that merely repeated existing legislation.

Essential services have existing iron-clad protection in the Federal Labour Code. The Canadian Industrial Relations board can and does order rolling provisioning, back to work legislation and binding arbitration. And in fact in the last seven disputes over six years that were covered by federal labour law the parties, union and company, independently negotiated maintenance of service agreements without the CIRB having to make them do so.

So, the technical term for Dion's Essential Services argument is a bullshit excuse. It's a scornful lie that the Liberals knew they could count on Canada's reliably neo-liberal mass media not to expose.

Again.

Labour are getting royally screwed by the Canadian Liberal Party without a kiss or even a twenty on the dresser.

Again
.

That this was completely predictable makes it no less infuriating. I fully understand that the Liberals diverge from the Tories in little but degree. It's just disappointing to see it confirmed.

Again.

When I was lobbying on the Hill for my union, I met with MPs individually from two of the parties. Tories were mostly distantly polite - except for one wing nut MP from the BC interior who shall remain nameless, mostly because I don't remember his name, who flipped out and ranted about 'union mischief' until the spittle flew, and one staffer who seemed stunned that a union lobbyist had a Hill pass and didn't need to be signed into the building.

Liberal MPs were polite ranging to effusive - they were also the most bitterly caustic about the government in those dwindling last days in the bunker with Paul Martin. They promised nothing, offered nothing in their careful smiles and empty handshakes.

The NDP had our entire lobbying team come in and speak to their whole caucus meeting, and gave us a round of applause and some energetic 'Shames!' at some of our descriptions of the company's behaviour - their support was a given. Nobody on either side had any doubt that they'd be in our corner in the coming dispute. I got to shake hands with Ed Broadbent and he gave me a visitor gallery pass from his office which is still on my fridge. I give them crap and I worry about creeping Blairism but the NDP are still the only dependably worker friendly party federally.

We can count on them. We can count on the Bloc which sponsored the bill in the first place and are a leftist party too. We can count on perhaps three or four Tories who represent heavily unionized ridings. We can count on a few Liberals, but probably a lot less than people are expecting. The fight goes on but I have a sinking feeling that the fix is in.

I will be posting the vote tally and names when they are out. Special attention and emphasis will be paid to Liberal MPs who vote against the legislation, abstain or even more despicably are too cowardly to even show up to vote.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"You wish this was Vietnam..."

When even the best case scenario is a nightmare, quagmire is too mild a world.
This is a dark chapter in our history. Whatever else happens, our country's international standing has been frittered away by people who don't have the foggiest understanding of how the hell the world works. America has been conducting an experiment for the past six years, trying to validate the proposition that it really doesn't make any difference who you elect president. Now we know the result of that experiment [laughs]. If a guy is stupid, it makes a big difference.

New York Times hit piece on Al Gore recycles same old global warming denier hacks

Broad wrote that "scientists are sensitive to [the film's] details and claims" and that Gore has received criticism not "only from conservative groups and prominent skeptics of catastrophic warming, but also from rank-and-file scientists." But of the sources cited in the article, at least four have records of misinformation on the issue. Though three of these were identified as skeptics or as having expressed skepticism, in all four cases, their past statements or studies questioning global warming theory have been debunked or discredited by the scientific community -- which Broad did not report.
More

Update: David Roberts rips the NYT a new one.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Global Warming will turn Nunavut into the new Riviera?

The Inuit—the little semi-nation of Nunavut—is going to become significantly more valuable in a warming world. Right now Nunavut’s a frozen wasteland. I would love to be the guy with the Nunavut promotion account twenty years from now because I’m going to rechristen the place “the gateway to the hemispheres” and invite celebrities, and cruise ships will be stopping by, and the sign on the dock will say, “Welcome to Nunavut, Gateway to the Hemispheres!” We’ll see all kinds of wild economic activity up there. There will be change, yes. The traditional way of life will fade and be replaced with something else, maybe something zany, but change seems an inevitability of human experience. Really no society on earth, maybe the ones in the Amazon basin are the only exception, has been able to insulate itself from change. We can’t insulate ourselves from it and I doubt the Inuit will ever be able to do that, either.
The Global Warming Denial Progression
  • A: Nothing's happening. You're a fool and a communist if you think something is.
  • B: OK, somethings happening but it has nothing to do with us, it's sunspots or something.
  • C: OK, maybe it's got something to do with us, but we can't try to do anything about it. That might be bad for business. Trust in the market to find a solution.
  • D: Heyyyyyy....Maybe we can make some money off of this...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sunday Link Blast - March 11

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Irresponsible Speculation

It's election night November 4, 2008 and Democratic candidate Al Gore has just convincingly beaten sitting Vice President Condoleezza Rice - in both the popular and electoral college vote...

No, neither of them are candidates right now and Rice is currently the Secretary of State, but follow along for a moment...

Al Gore lets the other Democrats flail away at each other for the next six months, waits until fall to announce and then drops into the race at the last minute instantly eclipsing all the other candidates. He begins his campaign with an Academy Award, picks up a Nobel Prize to go with it just weeks before the primary and sails to victory on Super Tuesday.

On the Republican side, Cheney resigns in the spring due to his carefully established pattern of health problems, defusing the complications from the Libby conviction and taking a fat target away from the Democrats. He's replaced by Condoleezza Rice, allowing the Republicans to brag about having the first black female Vice President and instantly overpowering the other potential nominees.

McCain isn't ever able to placate the base still angry over his independant stands of the distant past, Giulliani's demons surface and he spectacularly flames out in the summer and the Christian Right just can't get past the whole Mormonism thing with Romney. Rice wins the nomination almost by default.

However on election day the African American surge for Rice the Republicans were hoping for fails to materialize due to lingering resentment over the Hurricane Katrina debacle and Rice's association with the Administration's Iraq policy, even less popular in two years than it is now - meanwhile Republican turnout is poor as dyed in the wool conservatives nation-wide all have something better to do on election day than vote for a black woman...

And Al Gore finally gets the job he should have seven years ago.

Come election night we may have one of the contests everybody expects right now - Clinton VS Giulliani or Obama VS Romney - or similar variations, but it's actually pretty rare that the favorites in March end up being the candidates in November.

Shorter Andrew Sullivan: Only Hillary can save the Republicans now.

Update: Newt?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Wait, what?

Most pointless conversion to HD TV ever.

Scooter first, then Connie

Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor who just put a sizable dent in the Bush White House's aura of invincibility by turning Vice President Cheney's right hand man into a convicted felon now turns his sights on Conrad Black.

Patricia Best's droolingly sycophantic hagiography in the Globe last week illustrates how the Canadian media doesn't care if you're arrogant, cynical, rapacious and evil as long as you've got style. Expect a similar barrage of 'magnificent bastard' backhanded admiration from Canada's journalists as the trial commences. After all, if you shoot at the king, don't miss. They're all a little worried he still might be their boss some day.

My friend Ian, an auto-didactic expert on 20th century political history tells me Lord Connie's historical biographies are actually surprisingly good.

A lot of good books have been written in prison...

The penny drops

So the big banks recommending the highly dubious move of selling off Canada's government heritage buildings and then renting them back from private owners will also be collecting big commissions on the sales they've recommended.

What did Harper's New! Government! of Canada! run on again? Oh yeah. Ethics.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Bill Hicks in his prime.

On the Dennis Miller show back before Miller started sucking.

You're The Kind Of Trouble

Solomon Burke

The Globe and Mail and Neo-Liberal condescension

The Globe is about the only thing on the news stands I can read at all now without retching (I live in Calgary remember? My local choices stretch across the wide ideological divide from neo-conservative to paleo-conservative.) and even the Globe is getting my hackles up with it's crass manipulation lately.

Columnist John Ibbotson's favorite rhetorical trick is the false alternative - the only alternative to state of affairs A is straw man alternative B with questionable predicted results C presented as certainties. Gazeteer has more.

Jeffrey Simpson's favorite trick is the unexamined postulate presented as blandly pompous certainty: 'Of course as any sensible person knows, we can't possibly even try to achieve Kyoto without disastrous consequences...' and so on and so forth without ever examining the underlying 'of course'. This despite the oil company CEOs - who can see the writing on the wall, and have to reassure investors - saying that yes, they actually could meet Kyoto targets with minimal adjustment.

Liberal, conservative, it's irrelevant really. Generally speaking the Globe orbits around the center, ranging inconsistently center left on social issues - but on the fiscal front rigidly adhering to neo-liberal certainties and outmoded corporatist modeling already beginning to wither in the harsh light of the 21st century.

It isn't just in the US that the public are out in front and significantly to the left of the elites in government and media.

Where's it all going?

Albertans think about this for a moment, and think hard.

Where is the money going? I'm not even talking about the surplus now, I'm talking about the money. Oil is higher than it's ever been. This is everybody gets laid time among the power tie crowd in Calgary's boardrooms.

Down at street level though the homeless count one night last year was 3,436. This was a conservative count and the numbers have swelled since then. Many suffered severe frostbite this winter as the swamped drop-in center had to turn people away at the door.

Our hospitals are turning away patients and our politicians are pushing dubious flirtations with private delivery on us because with huge surpluses, it's apparently more important to give cash to huge oil companies than spend on public health care.

Meanwhile tiny Arab sheikdoms are building hundred story vanity towers and air-conditioning every inch of sand. Venezuela is getting huge boosts in literacy rates and infant survival from massive social expenditures, less sustainably it is charging it's own people pennies for gasoline, but it is doing all of this with a similar level of wealth.

Here in Calgary we have a roads and public transit infra-structure that would be at the breaking point with half of our population. Try taking a train in Calgary at rush hour if you don't believe me. Similar strains exist throughout the roads and highways of the whole province. The Tories created a fiscal debt, then converted it to an infrastructure debt and now tell us it's us who have to tighten our belts as Alberta racks up surpluses in the billions and oil prices hover at the $60 a barrel mark.

So again, all questions of ideology, sustainability and governing philosophy aside, where is the money going?

Someday the oil will be gone. The sticky tarry muck of the oil sands will be sucked dry, the natural gas reservoirs will be tapped, the ancient old growth forests will have all been turned into toilet paper, the fresh water will have been blasted into the ground to force up the last bubbling drips of fossil fuels or sold in bulk across the border, all the fragile natural wealth of Alberta will have been exhausted.

And we'll still be wondering where the money from all that rapacious exploitation went and why our leaders golf vacations someplace warm keep getting longer and longer.

For we are Albertans.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunday Link Blast - Mar 4

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Quote of the day

"But he will run on torture - that much we already know. The religious right base actually seems to believe in torture. Along with making lots and lots of money, and losing weight, torture is now apparently one of Jesus' core teachings."

Gone For Good

From Big Sugar

Friday, March 02, 2007

Liberal Scumbags

Usually they wait until after we've voted for them before they screw us.

UPDATE: Erin Weir at Relentlessly Progressive Economics points out that essential services are already guaranteed by the Federal Labour Board making Dion's justification merely an excuse to claim he supports the idea in principal.

Of polls and provinces

Lots of excitement today among the mainstream media over polls showing the Conservatives in the lead. Of course you have to wade through twelve paragraphs of this CTV story to find this relevant point:

In Ontario, the three February surveys average out to marginal 37-35 lead for the Liberals over the Conservatives, with the NDP at 16 per cent and the Greens at 11.

And in Quebec, the rolling averages put Bloc support at 38 per cent, followed by the Liberals at 23, the Tories at 16, the Greens at 10 and seven per cent for the NDP.

First past the post remember folks? If the Tories have gotten a big boost in support in Alberta or Saskatchewan, it means essentially dick. Two feet past the post or two-hundred feet past the post means exactly the same thing.

These polls are bad news for the Tories, no matter how much wistful establishment journos massage the numbers. Stasis or decline in Ontario and Quebec for the Tories numbers does not bode well for holding onto their minority - much less getting a majority.

Any Tory supporters who take deceptive national poll numbers seriously without taking into account provincial breakdowns is in for an unpleasant surprise come election day in... shall we say May? June? Depends if the Tories think the Canadian people are dumb enough to fall for intensity per barrel targets that allow the oil fields to increase rather than reduce their assault on the environment.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

New York Times praises Canadian commitment to Civil Rights

The United States Supreme Court has ruled twice in favor of Guantánamo detainees on statutory grounds, but it has yet to address the profound constitutional issues presented by American practices, including the abuses Congress authorized when it passed the Military Commissions Act. Such a showdown does not seem far off, but Congress also has a duty to revoke or rewrite the laws that have been abused in the name of national security, starting with the 2006 tribunals law.

Lawmakers have only to look to the Canadian court for easy-to-follow directions back to the high ground on basic human rights and civil liberties.

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