Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How many?

How many suicide bombers were born this week? How many children watched their whole family get blown to bloody shreds and now live only for the day they can put on an explosive vest?

How many moderate Palestinians became radicals? How many radicals became consumed with revenge over any other consideration?

How many observers worldwide went from guarded support for Israel's right to defend themselves to appalled disgust at any suggestion of equivalency between the damage a few rickety rockets can do and the mayhem that the 4th largest military in the world can commit on a gigantic outdoor prison?

In a pre-election effort to appear tougher than Netanyahu and the other maniacs of Likud, Barak and Livni have tried their best to show they can be as indiscriminately destructive and violent as the Israeli far right, by slaughtering hundreds.

How many more times will Israeli political considerations require mass murder?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Linkblast - Dec 28

Monday, December 22, 2008

Was White House e-mail scrubber murdered?

The Bush administration insider who set up the secret White House email accounts that were mysteriously erased when the US Attorneys firing scandal hit has died in a suspicious plane crash. He apparently claimed that he was being threatened by Karl Rove!
WASHINGTON, Dec 20, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Michael Connell, the Bush IT expert who has been directly implicated in the rigging of George Bush's 2000 and 2004 elections, was killed last night when his single engine plane crashed three miles short of the Akron airport. Velvet Revolution ("VR"), a non-profit that has been investigating Mr. Connell's activities for the past two years, can now reveal that a person close to Mr. Connell has recently been discussing with a VR investigator how he can tell all about his work for George Bush. Mr. Connell told a close associate that he was afraid that George Bush and Dick Cheney would "throw [him] under the bus."
A tipster close to the McCain campaign disclosed to VR in July that Mr. Connell's life was in jeopardy and that Karl Rove had threatened him and his wife, Heather.
Connell's name comes up in every creepy piece of alleged malfeasance of the entire Bush era, from election fraud to the political prosecution of Don Seigelman. Journalist Larisa Alexandrovna reluctantly revealed that he was a source because of the deeply disturbing timing of a source into high crimes by the White House dying just as he was ready to talk.

This sounds like a cheesy suspense movie plot but its a disturbing story nonetheless.


Holiday blogging schedule

If it wasn't obvious from my not having posted for 10 days, I'm on holiday blogging schedule. Two sets of families to visit, gifts to buy, arctic temperatures to brave.

Happy happy, joy joy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Contrary to stereotype

Albertans support the public health care system more than the majority of Canadians do.

The study, commissioned by the U of C's School of Policy Studies, scrutinized Alberta's health-care legislation in light of what's allowed under the federal Health Act and also compared the province's approach to regulation across the country.

It found Alberta's regulations that compel physicians to operate either fully inside or outside of the public system goes beyond federal requirements; it also showed the same is true about Alberta's ban on private insurance for otherwise publicly insured services.

Still, despite the notion that Alberta could actually push the private health-care envelope further under the nation's laws, study author and health-care policy expert Gerard Boychuk said the research project found that Albertans are less receptive to private health-care overtures than Canadians on average.

"I think it corrects that misperception that Alberta is a leader in encouraging private financing for health care," said Boychuk, associate professor in the University of Waterloo political science department.

Alberta politicians have long wrestled with private-public health care, most notably with the 2001 Mazankowski report and Ralph Klein's infamous Third Way, each of which were blitzed with public opposition.

Monday, December 08, 2008

We're not going to be your whore.

What Northern BC Dipper said, in spades:

You see, in order to be a continual threat against the Conservatives, the NDP would have to be willing to form a coalition anytime Ignatieff would like it to. However, the reality is this: if Ignatieff abandons the coalition once, the NDP isn’t going to come back to it again. It’s the “fool me once, shame of you, fool me twice, shame on me” principle at work here. So Ignatieff has two choices on January 26th if he becomes leader. He can either stick with the coalition, or be the enabler of Conservative policies for years to come.

Iggy and the Stooges seem to think they got Harper to back down just by threatening a Coalition and now that threat is permanently part of the Liberal arsenal.

Keep dreaming. If Liberals want to keep using NDP numbers for power plays we're going to need a ring.

All or nothing folks. Coalitions are going to be part of the Canadian political landscape in the years to come - that's a given. If the Liberals establish themselves as an unreliable, self interested partner this time, which they seem intent on doing, this will be factored into the negotiations for the next one.

Some of us put aside serious misgivings to embrace this coalition - confirm those misgivings and the Liberal Party will have difficulty ever putting a similar coalition together again. Even getting NDP support in future Liberal minority governments will come with a higher cost.

Dance with the ones who brung you or go home alone. Your call.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Coalition Government: It's a good life if you don't weaken

What Galloping Beaver said:
Grits, you have a good thing going with this coalition idea. Don't piss it away by being Liberals.
To be clear, I haven't seen a lot of faint hearts among Liberal bloggers but among MPs we have folks like Sgro and Karygiannis already starting to signal surrender and Ignatieff who thinks this is all just a feint to hold over Harper's head if he doesn't play nice.

Harper is counting on the Liberals falling apart before parliament returns. He'll spend the next two months dangling senate appointments and demonizing the opposition and he's counting on being able to throw enough goodies into the budget he drops when he gets back to split off enough Liberal MPs to maintain a grip on power.

If he gets a reprieve there will be another attempt to kneecap the opposition - Liberals, this isn't a guy who can be dealt with or accommodated or compromised with.

He wants you dead and he wants to be the one who kills you. Now more than ever.

UPDATE: Fucking John Manley

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Violent language encourages violent acts

The just concluded American election reached its nadir when increasingly desperate Republicans turned to demonizing their foes. McCain/Palin campaign events began to resemble torchlight rallies as rhetoric about treason, terrorism and socialism was thrown against Barack Obama. Predictably such intemperate, eliminationist rhetoric led to hysterical, even violent responses from the Republican hard core base.

Pandering to this kind of uniformed, resentful hatred of the opposition was the most inexcusable part of a sleazy, dangerously demagogic campaign - culminating in the horrific race baiting of a white McCain staffer falsely claiming a black Obama supporter had attacked and mutilated her. Despite a farcically, blatantly false story she was embraced by the McCain campaign.

Canadians watched these antics in shock and thanked our lucky stars that we don't do politics like that up here.

This week Prime Minister Harper and his embattled government have used the kind of heated rhetoric unsuited to a democracy. All but calling the opposition traitors to Canada, describing legitimate parliamentary behaviour as a coup and demonizing whole segments of the Canadian public.

And now we've seen the first attacks against opposition offices and signs. MP Nathan Cullen had one of his campaign signs literally firebombed, Liberal M.P. Ujjal Dosanj had his constituency office vandalized - petty stuff so far but unambiguous warning signs that dangerous passions are being stoked.

If Harper's desperate slanders lead to actual political violence history will not forgive him. All Canadians should call on the Prime Minister to stop misrepresenting legitimate parliamentary democracy as treason and cool the rhetoric before someone gets hurt.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I'm Part of the 62% Majority

Clearing out the deadwood

President Obama's team have advised all of George W. Bush's patronage appointment ambassadors that their services will no longer be required after January 20th. Including this guy:
Consider the U.S. ambassador to Canada, David H. Wilkins. (No relation to me.) President Bush nominated him in 2005. He’s been a South Carolina state legislator. He’s a friend of President George H.W. Bush and raised more than $200,000 for President George W. Bush in the 2004 election. Ambassador Wilkins and his immediate family contributed $33,050 to Republicans over the course of the 2000, 2002 and 2004 election cycles, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Apparently, he’d only been to Canada once — 30 years before his appointment — as part of military service.

Quote of the Day

"I've never seen the leader of a Conservative party, certainly not Bob Stanfield, certainly not Joe Clark, lie — I choose the word deliberately — the way Mr. Harper has... They lie. They pay people to destroy things."

-Ed Broadbent

To get as gentlemanly a parliamentarian as Ed Broadbent to use the 'L' word takes a lot.

The wheel turns

Next month an American President who actively encouraged and promoted torture will be replaced by a President who's grandfather was imprisoned and tortured.
"The African warders were instructed by the white soldiers to whip him every morning and evening till he confessed," said Sarah Onyango, Hussein Onyango's third wife, the woman Mr Obama refers to as "Granny Sarah"...."He said they would sometimes squeeze his testicles with parallel metallic rods. They also pierced his nails and buttocks with a sharp pin, with his hands and legs tied together with his head facing down," she said The alleged torture was said to have left Mr Onyango permanently scarred, and bitterly antiBritish. "That was the time we realised that the British were actually not friends but, instead, enemies," Mrs Onyango said. "My husband had worked so diligently for them, only to be arrested and detained."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Classic Concern Troll

Conservative Senator Hugh Segal is very indignant on behalf of all us poor New Democrats dragged into this coalition against our will. I'm so glad he's here to warn us against such a horrible mistake, more in sorrow than in anger.

But the New Democrats? They used to be different, even when their policy prescriptions were naive or unduly statist, their motives, purposes and integrity were clear.

Canada will suffer from the absence of a coherent left-centre party that always defends collective bargaining, social justice and a creative and humanizing role for the state. This will cost the quality of our national debate for decades to come. Surrendering that clarity to Liberal political appetites and Bloc manipulation is an act of political desertion and abdication of staggering proportions.

Card-carrying New Democrats across the country were not even given a vote on the matter by Jack Layton, Ed Broadbent or Thomas Mulcair. For a party with the NDP's traditions and heritage, that is truly remarkable.

What we really should have done of course, is stay on the sidelines remaining ideologically pure while Harper did his level best to murder the very concept of political opposition. Take a pragmatic, clear-eyed chance to make real progress on our issues? Hugh wants to save us from that.

We're not worthy of his selfless concern for our well-being.

They'd whip up a witch-hunt...

...but Canadians have never been much for the torch-wielding mob thing. Right wing politics don't really have that heady populist kick without some scapegoats to demonize. The 'enemies within' de jour are socialists and separatists.

Canadians have elected socialists to run almost every province in Canada at one point or another, usually successfully. This isn't as effective a pejorative outside the base as Conservatives seem to think.

As for Separatists, well isn't in our interest to engage Quebec in participating in Canada? The Bloc shows every sign of adapting to diminished support for independence in Quebec by downplaying separation and primarily becoming a Quebec First party - but hey we're currently being governed by an Alberta First party so what's your point?

Maybe the fact that the current governing party sees nothing wrong with dismissing or demonizing big chunks of the Canadian voting public with hateful, even eliminationist rhetoric is a clue as to why the Canadian public overwhelmingly voted against them? Why they are almost completely shut out of urban Canada?

The Conservatives have lost the confidence of parliament. They never had the confidence of Canadians.

UPDATE: The Toronto Star lays out the facts:

The Bloc would not have seats at the cabinet table and would not have a veto over government decisions.

The deal would require the Bloc to be consulted by the government. But consultation is, or should be, the norm in a minority Parliament. Indeed, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty boasts of having consulted the Bloc before producing last week's economic statement.

The Bloc has agreed to support the coalition on budget measures and other non-confidence votes because it favours the coalition's economic policies over the laissez-faire approach of the Conservatives. Duceppe made it clear on Monday that there is no quid pro quo for his party on its sovereignist agenda. That is why he is reserving the right to withdraw support from the coalition after 18 months.

Dion's anti-separatist credentials are impeccable. He has been the target of separatist attacks throughout his careers.

Harper himself played footsie with the Bloc back in 2004, when the Conservatives were in opposition and were trying to topple the Liberal government of the day.

The Conservatives are entitled to argue that the proposed coalition government is bad for the economy and bad for the country. But to suggest, as they have, that the coalition is a conspiracy to break up Canada is not just false. It is an insult to the intelligence of Canadians.

Now's the time

To the many serious voices of the legitimate and mainstream Canadian media arguing that it's okay that the Conservatives don't plan to even announce new stimulus until the end of January, here's Paul Krugman on the need to go big and the need to go fast.

You've written that FDR was at times too cautious in his response to the Great Depression, and that by reducing spending and raising taxes in 1937 to appease deficit hawks he sent the economy into a severe recession. Do you think the next administration recognizes that they should err heavily on the side of too much stimulus?

I think they understand that they have to go big; what I don't know is whether they understand just how big big is. But they are being bombarded with concerns, not just from me but from a lot of people, and unlike the current administration they actually listen to experts. So I'm hopeful that they'll do the right thing.


Could a lack of action over the next two months ultimately prove fatal to our chances for a timely recovery?

Fatal I don't know. But these are two bad months to have policy comatose.

That hits the spot!

mmmm.... right wing despair....

Quote of the Day

"The prime minister and myself need to have a conversation,"

-Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean

Takes one to know one.

Margaret Wente puts the blame where it belongs, albeit in a 'Harper's ego has left us at the mercy of socialists and separatists' fashion:
Mr. Harper was supposed to be the steady hand at the helm. But now, even his long-time loyalists whisper that he's lost it. They are right. You can put up with a bully. You can even put up with a paranoid, controlling bully. But a paranoid, controlling bully with catastrophic judgment is another matter.
But there's an unambiguous irony with a capital 'I' in Ms Wente criticising someone else for being a 'paranoid controlling bully'.
Just after 9 a.m. on a cool autumn morning, Margaret Wente is greeted by the familiar sounds of The Globe and Mail newsroom. Reporters are checking phone messages, placing early calls and scanning the news wire to see what's happened overnight. Some are chatting and leaning against a wall that displays seven clocks telling the time in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Jerusalem, Moscow, Beijing and Berlin. Wente surveys the sea of desks as she makes her way to her office in the Report on Business section. Nothing could have prepared her for this.
Some reporters are wearing white buttons with "Weak and Hopeless" printed in big black letters. They're reacting to one of Wente's memos—now known as the Weak and Hopeless memo—which was mysteriously leaked to the newsroom. A month earlier, William Thorsell, the Globe's editor-in-chief, had asked Wente to jot down what she thought was wrong with the paper's A-section, to which she'd responded: "The Toronto-based national news team is in exactly the same situation that ROB was in 1994. It is starved for good reporters. Key beats are uncovered. Other key beats are staffed with hopeless people.... No amount of clever editing or packaging will fix that. The only fix is to hire some top young reporters.... No amount of remedial training, rework, or memo-writing will compensate for a basically weak staff."
A year and a half later, her reputation is still suffering. Even before the memo made the rounds, many Globe reporters felt that Wente was difficult to work with. She's often described as blunt and distant. As managing editor of the Globe, she's renowned for her impenetrable vision of the paper. As an editor of other people's work, she is highly skilled if not gentle. She expects the same level of professionalism from her colleagues that she demands of herself. She has no time for hand-holding or stroking reporters' egos. This is a woman who believes in hard work, not flattery. Colleagues who've known her for years say they still can't read her thoughts or predict her next move. She will admit to being painfully shy but says little else about herselfespecially to her staff. Which, of course, builds suspicion and paranoia. In an industry that attracts more than its share of suspicious and paranoid types, Wente's reticence can cause problems. As shocked as she might have been that morning, faced with a newsroom of "Weak and Hopeless" reporters, Wente remained silent as her eyes fixed on the white buttons.
She can, I suppose be considered an expert in workplace bullying.

End Game

I can't imagine what its like in the PMO bunker right now, with Steve losing his shit and ranting and sweating as the tanks roll in and the respect of underlings trapped there with him becomes forced and resentful.

The Globe and Mail calls for him to resign. The National Post just calls him a clueless bully who ignores the advice of everyone around him:

No one in the caucus would speak on the record, but a chat with former Conservative Bill Casey was revealing. The Independent MP, who was booted out of the Harper government for voting against a budget, said the great unravelling of the last few days is actually the product of a frustration that has been building on the opposition benches for the last three years. "Brinksmanship politics and pushing the opposition around has crystallized with this coalition," he said.

That attitude has also translated into Mr. Harper's relations with his own caucus, with the result that they are likely to prove as loyal as a pack of wolves turning on the one who falters. "His leadership style is not working. Ninety-five per cent of the Conservative caucus would have said don't make that statement [removing public funding for parties] if they'd been asked. But that's the problem. They are never asked, yet they'll carry the can for that decision," said Mr. Casey. "He doesn't understand people. He doesn't get that you can only push people around for so long before they push back."

Conservative MPs look wistfully around their comfortable Center Block offices as they get ready for Christmas. Conservative staffers, some just hired, in the process of renting homes and moving families, rage against scheming packs of 'losers, socialists and separatists' but have no doubt about who to blame for the coming exile from power.

The sweetest revenge of all, in years to come this is what Harper will be remembered for: The master strategist, the cunning partisan warrior who brought games theorists into strategy sessions (I guess they were busy last week.) and so clearly revelled in his image as an icy Machiavellian schemer, will be remembered for one of the most clueless and boneheaded political miscalculations in parliamentary history.

Joe Clark just thought he could govern as if he had a majority, Stephen Harper thought he could crush his enemies as if he had a majority.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Quote of the Day

“I think a lot of people in Canada have been looking for politics to be done a little differently. I think it would be fair to say that what you’re seeing here today is politics done a little differently,” he said. “It’s actually done with the notion that people who have had differences of opinion, sometimes quite profound, might be able to find issues and avenues and strategies and ways forward together in difficult circumstances. And to me this is an expression of enormous optimism.”

If nothing else...

...today's presser makes it clear - if anyone need any more confirmation - that Iveson and the National Pest are nothing but partisan mouthpieces for the Conservatives spinning fictions for explicit partisan gain.

We should expect more mischief and unambiguous attempts at sabotage from the right wing media - CanWest, CTV and the Sun chain will not hesitate to engage in all but open attempts to scuttle this from day one.

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