9:05 PM |
Musings from a Canadian liberal woman on the state of Canadian and US politics.
What? You want to know stuff about me?
9:05 PM |
Harper expanded cabinet to 38 members from 31 to make room for new and veteran MPs alike.
Source: The Star
8:39 AM |
Obama, who raised a record $150million in September, has bought ads just about everywhere – even in the virtual world of Xbox video games. At 8 p.m. tomorrow, he will run a 30-minute commercial on NBC, CBS and FOX. Cost: about $3million.
The ``working'' caveat turns out to be crucial: The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that, including tax filers with no wages or business income, 81 percent would get a tax cut.
12:44 PM |
Then came another kind of "surprise." The global financial crisis that broke out earlier this month did not just damage McCain's campaign by exposing his fundamental (and openly acknowledged) ignorance on economic matters ahead of an era in which such abilities are likely to be at a premium. It also forced the US government to take on trillions of dollars in new liabilities in a bid to restore confidence in the markets. Given the gargantuan deficits and debt already amassed by Bush's profligate spending on wars against Muslims, tax breaks for the rich, and subsidies for large corporations, a costly war with Iran is simply no longer a viable option.
For all of these reasons, Syria must look like a more attractive target, especially if Washington can maintain a level of hostilities that is sufficient to pique the average American's "patriotism" but not so intense that it incurs significant costs. There is no guarantee, however, that the Syrians would cooperate with such an approach, even though any form of response in kind on their part would only invite the Americans to escalate disproportionately, especially with their overwhelming advantage in air power.
The ball seems to have gotten rolling in a Syrian village near the Iraqi border shortly before dusk on Sunday. According to Damascus, US troops arrived in helicopters and assaulted a building under construction at a farmstead, killing eight civilians - half of them children.
The Bush administration's official reaction has been painfully slow in coming, but according to an Associated Press report, a US military officer has confirmed that an attack was carried out by special forces. "We are taking matters into our own hands," AP quoted the officer as saying on condition of anonymity because of what the reporter described as the "political sensitivity" - no mention of patent illegality - "of cross-border raids." Pointedly, the comments came in Washington, not from an officer on the ground in Iraq, where the US military professed to be in the dark about the attack in Syria.
So why now? The timing has got to be instilling a sense of deja vu among senior members of the Syrian regime. They recall with consternation that even after US diplomats publicly acknowledged the value of Syrian intelligence assistance in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Bush and other senior figures kept up their menacing rhetoric about Damascus. [even though they used Syria as a dumping ground for suspects they wanted tortured, like Canada's Maher Arar -catnip]
This looks to be different. Even if Damascus were still a target in Bush's so-called "war on terror," the timing is so vulnerable to accusations of an attempt to influence the election that only a dire threat could possibly justify taking the risk. Even if it turns out that what the Americans hit was indeed tied to the insurgency, therefore, hitting it now makes no sense - unless the real objective is to capture the hearts and minds of undecided voters in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Speaking after a Baghdad cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh also explicitly criticised the US over the unconfirmed helicopter strike.
"The Iraqi government rejects the US helicopter strike on Syrian territory, considering that Iraq's constitution does not allow its land to be a base for launching attacks on neighbouring countries," he said.
7:38 PM |
Much has been made in the US presidential campaign of the $70 billion oil surplus the Iraqi government built up in these last years as oil prices soared. In actuality, most of it is currently being held in American financial institutions, with various American politicians threatening to confiscate it if it is not constructively spent. Yet even this bounty reflects the devastation of the war.
De-Ba'athification and subsequent chaos rendered the Iraqi government incapable of effectively administering projects that lay outside the fortified, American-controlled Green Zone in the heart of Baghdad. A vast flight of the educated class to Syria, Jordan, and other countries also deprived it of the managers and technicians needed to undertake serious reconstruction on a large scale.
As a consequence, less than 25% of the funds budgeted for facility construction and reconstruction last year were even spent. Some government ministries spent less than 1% of their allocations. In the meantime, the large oil surpluses have become magnets for massive governmental corruption, further infuriating frustrated citizens who, after five years, still often lack the most basic services. Transparency International's 2008 "corruption perceptions index" listed Iraq as tied for 178th place among the 180 countries evaluated.
The Iraq that has emerged from the American invasion and occupation is now a thoroughly wrecked land, housing a largely dysfunctional society. More than a million Iraqis may have died; millions have fled their homes; many millions of others have been scarred by war, insurgency and counterinsurgency operations, extreme sectarian violence, and soaring levels of common criminality. Education and medical systems have essentially collapsed and, even today, with every kind of violence in decline, Iraq remains one of the most dangerous societies on earth.
10:42 AM |
“Men will lie on their backs, talking about the fall of man, and never make an effort to get up”
- Henry David Thoreau
11:28 PM |
Labels: US election
9:58 PM |
9:39 AM |
He also said the Conservatives had a "massive financial advantage" to "distort" his Green Shift plan and that the Liberals did not have the resources to fight back "given our existing financial crisis."
"It has been a mistake to go ahead with the Green Shift because we are not equipped to explain what it was," he said.
Dion said Tory "propaganda" about the plan was cemented in the minds of Canadians and "was the main reason why we lost."
7:53 PM |
“Sometimes paranoia's just having all the facts.”
-William S Burroughs
10:49 AM |
Soldiers of Humanity
Once a division of the Japanese army was engaged in a sham battle, and some of the officers found it necessary to make their headquarters in Gasan's temple.
Gasan told his cook: "Let the officers have only the same simple fare we eat."
This made the army men angry, as they were used to very deferential treatment. One came to Gasan and said: "Who do you think we are? We are soldiers, sacrificing our lives for our country. Why don't you treat us accordingly?"
Gasan answered sternly: "Who do you think we are? We are soldiers of humanity, aiming to save all sentient beings."
8:24 PM |
9:16 AM |
KING: Lars, what would you advise him?
LARSON: Larry, he's got to be bold. He's got to tag Obama as the Marxist that he is. Again, from --
KING: Marxist? Hold it. He's a Marxist?
LARSON: That's Marxism.
KING: Does that make the right wing fascist?
KING: You can't have it both ways.
LARSON: No, fascism is about celebrating the country. America has always been about the individual. And conservatives really are about the individual. But saying we want to spread everybody's wealth around and giving tax rebates to the 40 percent of Americans who don't pay federal taxes, that's Marxism. That's redistribution of wealth. And John McCain should be bold enough to tag him.
Barack Obama doesn't believe in drilling for oil. He doesn't believe in nuclear power. He does believe in spreading the wealth and redistributing Joe the plumber's wealth. That's just dead wrong and Americans know it.
fas·cism (fāsh'ĭz'əm) Pronunciation Key
1. often Fascism
1. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
2. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
2. Oppressive, dictatorial control.
7:20 PM |
Our latest federal election, which effectively changed nothing, is estimated to have cost somewhere around $300 million. After playing with my calculator, here’s a short list of what else we could have done with that money:
* Built 3 planetariums or major science museums.
* Built 4 research laboratories for alternative clean energy.
* Installed 100 wind turbines.
* Provided full university scholarships for 6, 000 students — $50,000 each.
* Provided clean drinking water to northern communities.
* Built 10 high schools.
* Built three regional hospitals.
* Funded 100 13-part educational television series.
* Sent me on 10 tourist flights to the International Space Station.
This is just a partial list; I invite you to add to it. Have fun with your calculator and think hard about where some of our government spending priorities really lie.
1:42 PM |
10:11 AM |
Stéphane Dion's future as Liberal Leader is the key post-ballot question as final results from Tuesday's election show his party sank to its lowest level of popular support since Confederation.
"I don't think any of us have really clear ideas as to why that is happening," Harper said.
12:37 PM |
“No person shall transmit the result or purported result of the vote in an electoral district to the public in another electoral district before the close of all of the polling stations in that other electoral district.”
The Liberals were set to hold on to 17 seats out of Atlantic Canada's 32 ridings in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as of about 10 p.m. ET.
The Conservatives earned 10 seats and the New Democrats took four. One Independent will also be going to Ottawa from the region.
In the 2006 election, the Liberals won 20 seats, the Conservatives nine and the NDP had three.
Leading: Cons 142; Popular Vote 36.7%
Leading: Libs 78; Popular Vote 28.6%
Leading: BQ 47; Popular Vote 7.1%
Leading: N.D.P. 29; Popular Vote 19.6%
Leading: Other 3; Popular Vote 8.0%
Total: 299; 100%
Leading: Cons 143; Popular Vote 37.4%
Leading: Libs 76; Popular Vote 26.7%
Leading: BQ 50; Popular Vote 10.1%
Leading: NDP 37; Popular Vote 18.0%
Leading: Other 2; Popular Vote 7.8%
Total: 308; 100%
Cons 124; Libs 103; BQ 51; NDP 29; Other 1
Polls reporting: 61,438/69,632
Voter turnout: 11,875,370 of 23,401,064 registered electors (50.8%)
4:33 PM |
As Canadians go to the polls, the Conservatives have privately told the country's biggest banks they are ready to step in and guarantee new borrowing because of fears financial institutions will be frozen out of international credit markets for "months," according to people familiar with the discussions.
The extraordinary pledge was made behind closed doors after Canada's banks disclosed they were being starved of desperately-needed financing and could not continue to fund normal operations without government help, despite signs of a rebound in stock markets.
Confirmed on the eve of the election, the implicit public guarantee of private debt by the Conservatives represents a historic departure from free-market principles and signals a profound loss of confidence in the global banking system.
It means Ottawa is prepared to publicly guarantee repayment of any new money banks borrow from each other and from foreign banks, to make sure Canada's financial institutions do not fall behind their peers.
Stephen Harper, the Conservative leader, is reluctant to officially declare this policy, but is likely to do so if Washington moves first because of the detrimental impact a U.S.-only guarantee could have on Canada's financial institutions.
Before pulling the trigger, the Conservatives first aim to try and meet the funding needs of Bay Street directly by aggressively expanding a scheme to buy up mortgages from banks.
After initially putting up $25 billion of public money to buy mortgages, the Department of Finance is prepared to increase that limit as needed up to $225 billion, at which point the risk of taxpayer losses starts to rise sharply.
10:03 AM |
Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.
7:05 PM |
Elections Canada spent $277.8 million on the 2004 general election.
This time around, Stephen Harper's election call cancelled four by-elections which were set for September. According to Elections Canada, a federal by-election costs an average of 892,000 per riding. That means taxpayers will pay $3.5 million for the cancelled by-elections, since spending tallies are restarted once a general election is called.
10:57 PM |
So, is this the beginning of the end? The end of the beginning? The beginning of the beginning? The end of the end? The end of the beginning of the end? The beginning of the end of the end? Or is this just life?
7:37 PM |
Stephen Harper, looking to stem the dramatic slide of his party in Quebec, reassured Quebecers on Saturday that he is not the "devil incarnate."
Earlier Saturday, in London, Ont., Harper scoffed at the possibility a Conservative government would have to cut programs to balance the budget if the economy continues to slump.
"This is a ridiculous hypothetical scenario," Harper told reporters when asked what his priorities would be in terms of program cuts.
"What it really comes down to is you're asking me to say what would Canada do if our economy went to hell in a handbasket. This government is running the economy so it can't go to hell in a handbasket."
Harper sued the Liberals for defamation in 2008 based on comments on their website about the situation with Cadman.
Harper said the tape had been edited, but a court-appointed expert in the defamation case reported Friday that the key portions that the prime minister had contested contain "neither physical nor electronic splices, edits or alterations."
Harper needs to explain "what he meant when he said on the tape that Conservative officials offered Mr. Cadman financial considerations for his vote," Dion said.
Nationally, the poll of 1,000 Canadians conducted on Friday suggests the Conservatives had the support of 35 per cent of decided voters. That's down from the 39 per cent that the party garnered when the same poll was conducted on Sept. 28 and 29.
The Liberals climbed from 24 per cent to 28 per cent over the same period while the NDP remained steady at 19 per cent and the Green Party fell from 10 per cent to 9 per cent.
Other polls conducted over the past two or three days had different numbers for the national race. Harris-Decima put the Conservatives at 36 per cent across the country and the Liberals at 25 per cent, a gain of one point for the Tories and a loss of one point for the Grits.
A Nanos Research survey, meanwhile, suggested that there was just a four-point spread between the two parties, with the Conservatives at 32 per cent and the Liberals at 28 per cent. The New Democrats were selected by 22 per cent of respondents in that poll while the Green were chosen by 8 per cent.
10:48 PM |
10:06 PM |
Gov. Sarah Palin abused the powers of her office by pressuring subordinates to get her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, fired, a investigation by the Alaska Legislature has concluded.
A report on the bipartisan inquiry that was released Friday by lawmakers in Anchorage, concluded, however, that she was within her right to dismiss her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, the trooper’s boss.
The public portion of the report concluded that Ms. Palin violated the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act by allowing pressure to be exerted to get Trooper Michael Wooten, her former brother-in-law, dismissed.
In the 263 pages that were released, the independent investigator, Stephen E. Branchflower, a former Anchorage prosecutor, said that Ms. Palin wrongfully allowed her husband, Todd, to use state resources as part of the effort to have Trooper Wooten dismissed.
The report says she knowingly “permitted Todd Palin to use the governor’s office and the resources of the governor’s office, including access to state employees, to continue to contact subordinate state employees in an effort to find some way to get Trooper Wooten fired.”
Further, it says, she “knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda.”
8:18 PM |
Some Liberals already have taken aim at Mr. Dion in the midst of the campaign, but they should engage in a more sophisticated diagnostic. The party-writ-large has failed to reinvent itself for the 21st century and public opinion research shows, perhaps as a result, that fewer and fewer Canadians identify themselves as "liberal."
Meanwhile, the supposedly obstinate Mr. Harper has been nothing if not open to adjusting as circumstances change. He was masterful in building a "big tent" centre-right alternative to the "natural governing" Liberals. His vision, determination and adroitness restored political competition to Canada, not an insignificant accomplishment.
Mr. Harper has done well on other fronts, too. He has spoken with refreshing candour and courage on foreign affairs, especially on the Middle East,
12:09 PM |
In the end the incident they hoped to use to define Mr. Dion as a confused ditherer may actually provide more telling insight into the character of Stephen Harper.
5:44 PM |
Harper defended his comments, saying it was obvious to anyone who saw the interview that he was "specifically talking about the fact that many Canadians have seen big losses in their portfolios in the last couple of weeks."
"I know that because, as I say, my mother is one of those people, and I hear about it every single day. And we know that people are worried ,and they have a right to be worried about what's going on in financial markets," Harper said in a campaign appearance in Victoria.
He then repeated it wasn't appropriate for a prime minister to "join in a wave of stock market panic and pessimism around the world," but rather to ensure the government prepares in advance and make long-term investments to protect Canadians' interests.
"We had a plan," he said. "We do not get caught up in market panic."
Alberta's Progressive Conservative premier wants to meet with his provincial counterparts to discuss the state of the Canadian economy, even though Stephen Harper called the same proposal by Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion "panicking."
RBC Capital Markets, the investment banking arm of Royal Bank of Canada, also neither admitted or denied wrongdoing. It said the buyback would cut into its fourth-quarter earnings by about $30 million on a pretax basis. That estimated loss includes the $9.8 million civil penalty the company agreed to pay to Cuomo's office and the North American Securities Administrators Association, which represents securities regulators in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The SEC, Cuomo's office and other state regulators have been conducting a wide-ranging investigation into banks' marketing of auction-rate securities. The regulators have alleged that the banks misled customers into believing auction-rate securities were safe, cash-like investments.
5:27 PM |
"Our position in Canada, of course, is that we don't have a crisis in our financial sector, in our banking sector," he said, ahead of a meeting of G7 finance ministers in Washington on Friday.
TORONTO (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper, acknowledging that Canadian banks were facing a credit crunch, said on Tuesday the government would probably take some steps soon to alleviate those.
Federal officials would give no reason Tuesday for the delay, which presumably relates to the difficulty of setting interest rates under current conditions.
The bonds, a Canadian tradition since 1946, are backed by the government and promoted as a foolproof way for small investors to save. They are put on sale each fall.
David Gamble, public affairs director of the Department of Finance, which is responsible for CSBs, confirmed that the 2008 campaign has been delayed but would not say why.
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Tuesday he is concerned about the sharp falls in Canadian stock markets but said there may be some good stock bargains out there now.
He told a news conference that it is clear that a lot of investors have panicked, and he said members of his extended family have been shocked by developments in the market.
But he added: "I think there's probably some great buying opportunities emerging in the stock market as the consequence of all this panic."
Stephen Harper is a "fragile" and shaky leader who is incapable of making decisions that will protect the economy, says Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe.
Duceppe said the Tory proposals would do little to help people in the battered manufacturing and forestry sectors, especially older workers.
"I think he's just missing the boat. He talked about Noah's boat. They're still looking for it nowadays."
Duceppe was referring to Harper's comment in Toronto earlier in the day when he said now is not the time for Canadians to eschew his party.
"As the saying goes, it wasn't raining when Noah built the ark," Harper said. "Which is why when the rain came, Noah didn't need to panic and he didn't switch boats."
4:28 PM |
Earlier Monday, Harper said the government is considering "secondary" plans to stabilize the Canadian financial system. But within hours, his chief spokesman said the government wasn't planning any extraordinary measures.
8:07 PM |