Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Canadian Election Watch - Day 24

While the plagiarism bombshell ruled the day, Canadians were once again reminded that when Stephen Harper was the Reform Party's (opposition) leader in 2003, he was more than eager to toe the neocon line following it and them right into the illegal Iraq war. And we'd still be there if he'd been PM at the time. Just imagine how many lives that would have cost. And we're supposed to trust this man to lead our country's foreign policy? Not a chance. We're all more than familiar with the way he's dealt with the Afghanistan war and hidden the abuse of Afghan detainees. Enough is enough.

And, speaking of corruption, chicanery, and conservatives behaving badly, reader Raj e-mailed me this article: Tories opened patronage doors before election: CP

OTTAWA -- The Harper government approved 148 appointments to federal boards and agencies, long used as rewards for supporters of the party in power, as the election neared, The Canadian Press has learned.

Cabinet handed out the posts in three rounds, the first only two days before Parliament recessed for the summer, the second on July 30, at peak holiday time for politicians and political journalists, and the third less than a week before Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the election for Oct. 14.

Harper, who railed against Liberal patronage in the 2006 election, later failed to deliver on a campaign pledge to put an independent commission in charge of vetting cabinet appointments. He angrily shelved the idea after opposition MPs refused to ratify his nomination of Gwyn Morgan, a Calgary oil baron who is also a friend of the prime minister, as the commission chair.

Just who does Sweater Vest Steve think he's trying to fool? That's Steve and his so-called "new" government of transparency and accountability - a first class charlatan.

In other news, frankly, this headline is depressing: Harper majority a concern to more than half of Canadians: poll


Well, take a look at the story:

More than half of Canadian voters say they're worried about the thought of giving Stephen Harper a majority government, but most wouldn't change their vote to prevent it.

The results are found in a new Globe and Mail/CTV News poll by The Strategic Counsel, which finds that 52 per cent of Canadians surveyed are anxious about a majority Conservative government. When asked whether they would consider changing their vote if it appeared the Conservatives were going to form the majority, only 16 per cent replied in the affirmative, with 81 per cent saying they would stick with their original intentions. The rest didn't know.

The Tories are still in minority territory at 39% (while the Liberals have nose-dived to just 24%) but that kind of voter apathy about the country's future should be more than troubling to the opposition parties and all Canadians who reject the 'Daddy knows best, just shut up and behave' Conservative philosophy. The upcoming debates could be crucial - that is if anyone actually watches them. And, even then...

In a sign of how uneventful the federal debates have become, however, experts have to go back more than two decades to come up with a Canadian example of a debate exchange that was widely deemed to have had an impact come voting day. That was a pitched 1984 dustup over political patronage between Brian Mulroney and John Turner.

The addition of Elizabeth may might garner a few more viewers at least. She's predicting it'll be a 'make or break' event for the Green party.

The French debate will be held this week on Wednesday at 8 pm ET followed by the English debate on Thursday at 9 pm ET. If you don't have access to Canadian teevee, you can catch them online on CPAC.

CBC's The National did a segment about Canadian bloggers this evening. You can check out the video on their site (on the right side of the page, following the news). Interviews include Steve Janke (Blogging Tory), Jason Cherniak (Liblogs) who whines about being "swiftboated" by the Dippers, and NDPer Devin Johnston. More about that Cherniak controversy here.

The Liberals Drop a Plagiarism Bombshell on Harper

Unbelievable. Or not.

I knew he was a puppet of the imperial empire but this shows that he was, more correctly, the ventriloquist's dummy.

In one segment, both leaders are heard saying:

"It is inherently dangerous to allow a country, such as Iraq, to retain weapons of mass destruction, particularly in light of its past aggressive behaviour. If the world community fails to disarm Iraq we fear that other rogue states will be encouraged to believe that they too can have these most deadly of weapons to systematically defy international resolutions and that the world will do nothing to stop them."

The clips then jump to Howard saying:

"As the possession of weapons of mass destruction spreads, so the danger of such weapons coming into the hands of terrorist groups will multiply. That is the ultimate nightmare which the world must take decisive and effective steps to prevent. Possession of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons by terrorists would constitute a direct, undeniable and lethal threat to Australia and its people."

According to the Hansard transcripts, Harper said:

"As the possession of weapons of mass destruction spreads, the danger of such weapons coming into the hands of terrorist groups will multiply, particularly given in this case the shameless association of Iraq with rogue non-state organizations. That is the ultimate nightmare which the world must take decisive and effective steps to prevent. Possession of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons by terrorists would constitute a direct, undeniable and lethal threat to the world, including to Canada and its people."

Someone had better be proofreading that book he's writing about hockey very carefully.

And the Tory reaction?

Reached by CBC News following Rae's appearance, Harper's spokesman Kory Teneycke dismissed the issue as irrelevant, saying the release of the video was an "act of desperation" from the Liberal campaign a day ahead of the first of the leaders' debates.

"I'm not going to get into a debate about a five-year-old speech that was delivered three Parliaments ago, two elections ago, when the prime minister was the leader of a party that no longer exists," Teneycke said.

"We're going to focus on the economy, which is the No. 1 issue Canadians want to talk about. We're not going to be distracted by attacks from the Liberal war room."

Run away! Run away!


Just how much does Steve like John Howard's style? Check out this September article from The Australian: Howardism lives on

You can read the Jeffrey Simpson editorial mentioned in that piece here.

Mea culpa resignation update:

Tory strategist resigns for plagiarism in Harper's speech

A Conservative war room strategist apologized and resigned from the election campaign Tuesday after he admitted to plagiarizing parts of a speech delivered by Stephen Harper on the Iraq war in 2003.

"In 2003, I worked in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition," Owen Lippert said in a statement released by the Conservative campaign Tuesday afternoon.

"I was tasked with - and wrote - a speech for the then leader of the Opposition. Pressed for time, I was overzealous in copying segments of another world leader's speech. Neither my superiors in the office of the leader of the Opposition nor the leader of the Opposition was aware that I had done so."

Sure. Right. Uh huh. Buh bye.

A man with this type of academic and political background was really that sloppy? And has he also resigned as a senior policy advisor for CIDA or will that job be waiting for him if the Tories win?

Just an FYI for you book shoppers out there: you might want to think twice about buying this particular title authored by Lippert - Competitive Strategies for the Protection of Intellectual Properties. Perhaps the premise of that book was to see how much you could (competitively) plagiarize while getting away with it?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Canadian Election Watch - Day 23

So, Jack Layton wants a pentpartisanship meeting on the economic meltdown. Steve, of course, quickly said no.

...a spokesman for Mr. Harper ruled out any such meeting, saying the campaign debates are the proper place for this kind of discussion.

Apples and oranges. Even if you think Layton is grandstanding, the idea of the leaders getting together to discuss Black Monday, is vastly different from jabbing each other in a partisan way during the upcoming debates. In effect, Steve is saying that he's so supremely confident in how the Cons handle the economy (history proves how wrong that is) that he won't work with the other parties to ensure that this country's future is safe.

What's happening is the equivalent of economic terrorism. What al Qaeda was unable to accomplish via the 9/11 attacks, Wall Street and the US government have now wrought on the American people and the global economy. What Harper is doing amounts to telling Canadians to just "go shopping". That's not good enough in the midst of an unprecedented economic failure. Do you trust politicians like Jim Flaherty to guide Canadians through this? Do you trust the Conservative philosophy?

There are two weeks left in this campaign. I predict that concerns over the economy, and the success or failure of the opposition's efforts to pin those concerns on the Conservatives, will determine whether Mr. Harper gets his longed-for majority.

Jim Stanford - author of Economics for Everyone.

He's got that right.


Stay tuned for the 'Give Flaherty the Boot' campaign.

Video: She who might be the next VP...

COURIC: Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

Yikes! Move over Miss Teen South Carolina.

Fareed Zakaria:

Will someone please put Sarah Palin out of her agony? Is it too much to ask that she come to realize that she wants, in that wonderful phrase in American politics, "to spend more time with her family"?


Failure to Traunch

It was Economic Armageddon!

Everybody was angry! (Or so they said.)

They met, they sweated, they agreed, they had a bill, they FAILED, the Dow tanked, they all blamed each other, they went home (for the Jewish holiday)!

Bush's head exploded! (Okay, not really - but that might just happen in the sequel. Stay tuned.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Canadian Election Watch - Day 22

What a difference a journalist makes:

Some unidentified CBC reporter: Dion says Liberals are in the middle

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion moved to locate the party firmly in the middle between the Conservatives and the New Democrats on Sunday.

Addressing a Liberal women's meeting in Toronto, he said the Conservatives do not understand that the role of the government is to help people, while the New Democrats do not understand that the role of the private sector is to create jobs and wealth.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is an old-fashioned conservative, while NDP Leader Jack Layton is an old-fashioned socialist, he said. Dion described the Tories as having a "laissez-faire I don't care" approach.

Carly Weeks writing for The Globe & Mail: Dion lashes out at NDP, Tories

TORONTO — With sagging support and the NDP breathing down his neck, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion launched a blistering attack on his opponents Sunday, saying the Conservatives can't be trusted to run the country and that the NDP doesn't understand the economy.

The Liberal Leader tried to beat back damage inflicted on his party by the NDP, warning that Leader Jack Layton's economic platform would destroy the Canadian economy.

“Mr. Layton has an old-fashioned socialist mentality that will not work in this century,” he said.

Canwest's conservative-slanted coverage for The National Post wasn't that feisty. Just goes to show you how the same story can have a very different impact depending on who's presenting it to the public. As for the message, muddling around in the middle is not a winning strategy for winning an election that you're already struggling with. And, in case Dion has forgotten, it was dreaded "socialism" that brought us medicare and that's kept our country from turning into an even more militaristic society than it already is. Not that I'm a fan of Jack Layton but Dion would be wise mot to throw the socialist baby out with the neocon bathwater.

Speaking of Jack, I see he's promising to eliminate poverty by 2020. Haven't we been down this road before?

Unveiling the New Democrats' plan for governing today in Toronto, Layton pledged a new $17 billion child benefit plan that will reward families up to $400 a month per child.

"The New Democrats' child benefit will give every middle-class and working family in Canada a raise," he said.

"Our priorities are those of the kitchen table, not just the boardroom table."

As first disclosed by the Star, families with a household income of $38,000 or less would receive $400 a month per child.

Those making less than $188,000-a-household would get $250 a month per child.

And families earning more than $188,000 a year would receive $100 a month per child.

Can someone please tell me why a family earning more than $188,000 a year (or a family edging up on that amount) needs money from the government? What's wrong with this socialist picture? If you want to help the poor, help the poor, Jack.

While we're on the subject of poverty, it looks like Steve doesn't even want to touch it and is being criticized for not appearing in a new video posted Sunday on Make Poverty History's site.

Liberal Stephane Dion, New Democrat Jack Layton, Elizabeth May of the Green party, and Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois all answer questions for the video “On the Record.”

“In all cases they have something to say about what they’ll do to deal with global, domestic and aboriginal poverty,” said Dennis Howlett, co-ordinator of Make Poverty History.

“But so far we haven’t heard anything from Stephen Harper.

“We went back and forth for quite some time with the Prime Minister’s Office media people. The final thing we got back was our questions were too specific and that he would do it if we asked more general questions ... The whole point was to get specific commitments from party leaders.

Like nailing Jello™ to the wall. If you want your questions answered by Steve, use MPH's online form (but don't hold your breath waiting for a response).

On the Green front, May ended her cross country train trip in Halifax on Saturday while asserting that she's not in favour of strategic voting, as had been reported last week. You certainly can't vote strategically in a riding like mine (Calgary East) which has basically gone Conservative since the beginning of recorded time. The best I can do is to enter a protest vote. The opposition candidates around here are absolutely invisible as are their election signs. And they wonder why they don't get more votes?

As for Gilles, well, a guy can dream, can't he?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Canadian Election Watch - Day 21

I took the day off so I'll leave you with this:

The beaver, which has come to represent Canada as the eagle does the United States and the lion Britain, is a flat-tailed, slow-witted, toothy rodent known to bite off its own testicles or to stand under its own falling trees.

- June Callwood

Friday, September 26, 2008

Canadian Election Watch - Day 20

This new poll is definitely the big news of the day (if you're into polls):

OTTAWA - Support for the federal Liberal party is crumbling, so much so that the New Democratic Party appears to have a realistic chance of forming the official Opposition, according to a new poll commissioned for Canwest News Service and Global National.
Thirty-nine per cent of the respondents said they would vote Conservative, about the same number as a similar poll a week ago. Just 23 per cent of respondents said they would vote Liberal, a drop of four percentage points in a week while 18 per cent would pick the NDP, a gain for that party of three percentage points.

Support for the Green party also climbed in the week, by two percentage points up to 11 per cent.

In the 2006 federal election, the Conservatives received 36 per cent of the popular vote compared to 30 per cent for the Liberals, 17 per cent for the NDP and five per cent for the Greens.

IV caffeine for the Liberal Party - stat!

I'm still not seeing a majority for the Cons and, as one commentator I heard on Friday said, when the battle is for the (mushy) middle, both the Liberals and Cons look very much the same. The inability of the Liberal party to clearly articulate its Green Shift plan which has been messaged by the Cons in 2 words, "tax increases", has created major problems for the Liberals as far as I'm concerned. And yes, there is the lack of charisma issue for Stephane Dion but it's not like Harper is Mr Personality unless you're into the nasty bullying type. Exhibit A: Harper accuses Liberals of rooting for recession.

Harper, preaching from Conservative bedrock in the Calgary heart of Alberta's oil patch, wrapped up a bruising week of campaigning Friday with a wrecking-ball performance.

"The other parties have clearly written off Alberta and don't mind using Alberta as a whipping boy from time to time, which I think is very unfortunate for our country," Harper opined to a receptive audience at the Calgary Winter Club.

Harper did not provide any examples.

Having stoked the fires of regional alienation, Harper went further, accusing Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion of "some of the most irresponsible behaviour of a Canadian political leader I've ever seen."

Harper's complaint? Dion's pointed criticism of Conservative economic policy and its impact on a flagging Canadian economy.

"Some Canadians think that in times of economic difficulties, you need to elect a right-wing government – right-wing governments are supposed to be good economic managers in their minds. But it's not true," Dion said Friday in Toronto.

"Each time you have Conservative governments, the economy is not going well. In fact, Tory times are tough times."

Harper, in turn, accused Dion of "trying to drive down confidence in the Canadian economy without foundation – and quite frankly sitting on the sidelines virtually cheering for there to be a recession."

And, as that article reminds readers:

Yet it was the Conservatives who spent much of the last year trash-talking Ontario and its investment climate.

Harper's finance minister Jim Flaherty famously said Ontario was the "last place" a tax-conscious business would invest, while Tory House leader Peter Van Loan repeatedly called Ontario's premier the ``small man of Confederation."

The glaring contradiction was not lost on Dion.

"Shame on him," the clearly inflamed Liberal leader said late Friday in Belmont, Ont.

"Do you want more of this? Do you think it's the way, in a democracy, to debate and to try to find the best solutions for our country?"

Meanwhile, back at the Harper ranch:

OTTAWA -- The Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, indicated Friday that the Canadian economy was at risk unless voters gave the Conservative Party a "strong mandate" to govern on Oct. 14.

Emotional blackmail from Bush of the North. Who's driving down confidence again, Steve?

Here's the cover of the Calgary Sun that Calgarians woke up to on Friday:

Harper is standing by his man, Lee Richardson, stating that his blaming immigrants for crime just "isn't an issue among voters". And it probably isn't for xenophobic right-wingers who agree with that judgment but it certainly is for the rest of us.

On the Liberal front, Dion has turfed candidate Lesley Hughes. Ms Hughes learned about her forced resignation from a CBC News crew. Bad form, Mr Dion.

Provincial, territorial ministers bash culture cuts
The politics of resentment
Anybody-but-Harper movement hopes to catch fire
Transcript: Elizabeth May meets with Star editorial board
Layton pitches prescription drug program

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Canadian Election Watch - Day 19

While economic Armageddon (according to the boy king George) plays out in the US, Canada's opposition leaders took the opportunity to bash Steve on Thursday on his economic record. Stephane Dion held nothing back when he called Harper an "economic incompetent" and staked out the Liberals' claim to the mushy middle:

“We are not the left-wing party. We are not the right-wing party. . . We are the party of the large centre,” Dion said.

And here's our illustrious prime minister trying to look prime-ministerial:

"All the fundamentals of the Canadian economy are good. It's not the time to do anything new, wild or stupid," Mr. Harper said in Victoria.

"I think we will be fine - not great - but we will be fine as long as we don't do stupid things," Mr. Harper added.

Not only has he downgraded the status of our economy from "strong" and "solid" to "good", he's also downgraded his rhetoric to 5th grade level. (No offence to 5th graders). Define "stupid", Mr prime minister.

Is there something in the air? Defeatist Liberals should ‘shut up,' Ignatieff says. And we thought all of the adolescent behaviour had been confined to Question Period. What's next? A food fight?

In other news, Layton, once again siding with the Cons, stated that if he won (not gonna happen) he'd "make sure a federal carbon tax never sees the light of day" while he and Steve, in separate announcements on the same day offered different consumer protection strategies.

Locally, here in Calgary, yet another Con had Right-wing Foot in Mouth disease:

In an interview, Conservative incumbent Lee Richardson suggested immigrants are to blame for much of the crime in Canada.

"Particularly in big cities, we've got people that have grown up in a different culture... and don't have the same respect for authority or people's person or property," Mr. Richardson told Fast Forward Weekly.

"Talk to the police. Look at who's committing these crimes," added Mr. Richardson.

Mr. Richardson later said he regretted the comments and that he misspoke.

Hey Richardson, if I call you a xenophobic bastard, can I just say I "misspoke" later too?

And I see the NDP is still on a roll as well:

Also on Thursday, the Liberals demanded that Layton fire his candidate in the riding of Durham, near Toronto, for violent and misogynist remarks on the Internet.

In Facebook postings denouncing U.S. war deserters, Andrew McKeever used an obscenity to refer to a female poster, and threatened to beat up a male one.

Mr. McKeever released a statement saying he is "deeply sorry for having offended anyone."

Mr. Layton told reporters the candidate has apologized and that's enough.

Which cave did these candidates crawl out from under? Mon dieu.

Oh, we're not done yet. And this one is ironic considering the controversy Liberal blogger and Liblogs owner Jason Cherniak recently created about an alleged NDP candidate and 9/11 conspiracy theories. Who needs to "chillax" now, Jason?

Conservatives called for Winnipeg-area Liberal candidate Lesley Hughes, a former CBC broadcaster, to resign over an article she wrote shortly after 9/11, saying Israeli businesses in the Twin Towers may have had warning about the attack because they vacated the building a week before the terrorist strike.

"Canadians rightfully relegate 9/11 conspiracy theorists to the extreme ideological fringes of our society," said Conservative candidate Rochelle Wilner.

However, Ms. Hughes issued a statement Thursday night, saying she is "deeply distressed" by any suggestion she's anti-Semitic.

"I find any interpretation of my journalism as anti-Semitic personally offensive and I heartily apologize for that perception," she said.

Are we having fun yet?

Meanwhile, Elizabeth May's train had a run-in with a moose. The moose lost and, as far as I know, May didn't field dress it. And perhaps grabbing onto the sudden death metaphor as a result of that encounter, she issued a dire warning for Canadians:

But before her train from Vancouver pulled into Toronto last night, she called for a form of strategic voting, which she feared might get her in a moose-size mess of trouble with her own party.

May urged Canadians to do all they can to throw Prime Minister Stephen Harper out of office, including strongly suggesting they shouldn't vote Green if another candidate has a better chance at defeating a Conservative.

"We are too close to the edge of a global apocalypse," May said in an interview. "We have got to grab the opportunities we have. And, clearly, the contribution Canadians can make to a global solution is to get rid of Stephen Harper."

All I know is that it's time to stockpile cheesecake. The rest of you are on your own.

"Young flesh", "fresh meat" - whatever the comment was, Gilles isn't taking it back. That's 2 campaign days wasted on those remarks.

The level of our leaders' political discourse is quite impressive, n'est-ce pas? This is like political limbo: how low can they go?


Royal Bank Under Investigation

While Stephen Harper has been crossing the country trying to reassure Canadians that the fundamentals of our economy are solid, insisting as well that our financial institutions are "solid", US regulators have announced that the RBC is under investigation:

U.S. federal enforcement officials are turning their sights to the Royal Bank of Canada as they crack down on financial institutions amid mounting public anger over a plan to bail out banks exposed to the credit crisis at the expense of taxpayers, according to officials.

Canada's largest bank is at the top of the list for enforcement agents at the Securities Exchange Commission who are pursuing financial institutions implicated in the collapse of the $330-billion auction-rate securities market, according to two federal officials.

The collapse of the market in the spring left many Americans unable to access funds they believed would be there for them to pay for short-term needs like college tuition and medical expenses, according to the SEC.

The disclosure is the first time officials at the agency have acknowledged they are preparing a federal enforcement action against RBC, and follows a parallel probe being pursued by state authorities. The pending enforcement action would make RBC one of the first Canadian banks to be called to account for its role in the credit crisis.
An RBC executive said the bank was working with regulators, and indicated management at the bank's capital markets operations expected to reach a comprehensive settlement with U.S. authorities.

The bank faces an estimated payout of $1 billion based on precedent-setting agreements negotiated with other U.S. and international institutions by state and federal authorities to buy back securities held by individual customers, charities and small businesses, and to reimburse those clients for damages.

RBC is also the target of a class-action law suit from customers of the bank alleging there was mis-selling of the securities pursuant to "top down management directives", according to a filing submitted to in a U.S. District Court by law-firm Girard Gibbs.

Did newly-retired RBC Capital Markets chairman Chuck Winograd see this coming? Is that why he retired?

Ironically, the governor of the Bank of Canada gave a press conference this morning about the state of our economy standing in front of the RBC's logo. Carney, contradicting Sweater Vest Steve's assurances, warned that "any slowdown in the U.S. economy would have consequences for Canada". Well of course it will and, as he noted, it already has.


Slump will hurt Canada: TD
TSX sinks on commodities
Royal Bank makes bid to clear U.S probe

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Canadian Election Watch - Day 18

Steve on Tuesday:

“I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people, you know, at a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren't high enough when they know those subsidies have actually gone up, I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people,” he said during a campaign stop in Saskatoon.

I guess that means he's opting out of G8 meetings from now on.

Oh. That quote was about Canadian arts and culture?

Mr. Harper's barbed shot at whining elites attending glitzy affairs was curious, given that his wife Laureen is the honorary chair of the National Arts Centre's gala next month in Ottawa.

That's what they call (in truly elitist terms) "schadenfreude".

And, while Steve's been busy mimicking John McCain and Dubya this week - telling us that the fundamentals of our economy are strong - Merrill Lynch issued this warning today: "Canada could face housing woes".

In a report issued Wednesday, Merrill Lynch Canada economists said many Canadian households are more financially overextended than their counterparts in the United States or Britain.

They said it's only a matter of time before the “tipping point” is reached and the housing and credit markets crack in Canada.

Locally, the hot and extremely expensive housing market in Calgary has slowed down with a glut of newly-built condos now sitting empty because there aren't any buyers. On top of that, the G&M also reports that "average pay increases among Canadian workers are set to cool next year" thanks to the current economic mess. Not to worry though. Steve has it all under control. (cough cough hack hack)

Maybe he can get those 14-year olds that he wants to imprison for life ("fresh meat" as Gilles calls them) to start working on building some new nuclear plants (although Elizabeth May might have something to say about that). A little child labour goes a long way towards "rehabilitation". Victorian England wasn't all that bad for kids, was it? Oliver Twist was just an immature little whiner. What's not to love about gruel?

In other news (of the nudie type), I see NDP candidate Julian 'I stripped in front of teenagers 12 years ago so I could go skinny dipping' West has resigned but his name is still on the ballot. How many more candidates will The House That Jack Built lose? Stay tuned. (They're quite the interesting bunch.)

Why are we having this election again?

Write Your Own Caption

"Our entire economy is in danger. That's why I'm announcing tonite that I'm selling the White House on eBay™."


McCain Suspends Campaign

John McCain has announced that he's suspending his campaign to go back to DC to work on the financial meltdown. He's also called for Friday's debate in Mississippi to be canceled/delayed.

Politically, this could go one of two ways. Either McCain will be seen as being a "leader" for making such a bold gesture (suspending his campaign) or he'll look like he's running away from the race and the debate (which I don't think should be canceled/delayed, regardless).

McCain said he is calling on President Bush "to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself. It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem."

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton released a statement reacting to the news.

"At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal," Burton said. "At 2:30 this afternoon, Senator McCain returned Senator Obama's call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement. The two campaigns are currently working together on the details."

Meanwhile, Paulson and Bernanke are testifying in front of the house financial services committee this afternoon. Online on C-SPAN3.

Paulson: "I'm not looking for extraordinary power."

Excuse me?

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

More to come, obviously...


Video of McCain's announcement -

Unofficial Obama campaign response: 'The Debate is On'

Apparently, Obama will be debating himself. Nothing new there (flip flops). Or maybe he could debate Biden since Joe seems to think he's been running against Obama again lately.


Obama press conference: "I believe we should continue to have the debate."

I'll post a link to the transcript and/or the video when it's available.

The debate commission says 'Game on!' despite McCain's request.


Video of Obama on the debate issue -


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Canadian Election Watch - Day 17

I'm taking the nite off. Enjoy this blast from the past...


How Not to Spend $700 Billion

So...I watched the Paulson bailout plan hearings today and, for those who didn't, here's what happened.


a) doesn't know if the plan will work.
b) doesn't know exactly how the plan might work.
c) doesn't know who would oversee the plan.
d) doesn't know why he needs $700 billion ASAP (he just does - don't ask questions)
e) doesn't know who the next treasury secretary (aka the Forces of Darkness Economic Overlord) might be.
f) doesn't care.
g) doesn't realize what a completely unprincipled, power hungry moron he is.

On the upside, I learned a new word today: "traunch"

Oh...and in related news, guess who's under FBI investigation?

Senior execs from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and AIG

The bureau is trying to determine whether anyone in those financial institutions, including their senior executives, had any responsibility for providing "misinformation," CNN reported.

A federal law enforcement official confirmed the FBI is now looking at 26 cases of potential corporate fraud related to the collapse of the U.S. mortgage lending industry.

Maybe Bush can pardon them before he leaves office. That would be the right (wing) thing to do.

You Were Warned

Watching the US economic bailout hearings on C-SPAN today, I'm once again reminded of the words of the character Arthur Jensen in writer Paddy Chayefsky's 1976 movie Network.

You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations! There are no peoples! There are no Russians! There are no Arabs! There are no Third Worlds! There is no West! There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars! Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds and shekels! It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic, and subatomic and galactic structure of things today. And you have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and you will atone!

Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT and T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon - those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state - Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories and mini-max solutions and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime, and our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you to preach this evangel, Mr. Beale.

What's going on in Washington and on Wall Street now was scripted throughout history to arrive at this very point. This isn't a crisis. It's an eventuality. Just one more obscene step in the furtherance of empire by those who really run the world - the corporations. There is no punishment, only enabling.

Ironically, the acronym for treasury secretary Paulson's bail out plan, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, is TARP . That's exactly what it is - a $700 billion temporary cover for the status quo.


Chris Hedges: Fleecing What’s Left of the Treasury
Naomi Klein: Now is the Time to Resist Wall Street's Shock Doctrine
Noam Chomsky: Where now for capitalism?
Democracy Now!: Sen. Bernie Sanders, Robert Scheer and Dean Baker on the Proposed $700 Billion Bailout of Wall Street, the Largest Government Bailout of Private Industry in US History
Congress Urged to Act Soon on Bailout (includes links to Paulson's and Bernanke's prepared testimony)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Canadian Election Watch - Day 16

Are we there yet?

I received my handy dandy voter information card in the mail today. If you have questions about voter registration or where to vote, check out the Elections Canada site.

On with the show...

So, Crime Fightin' Steve wants to name young offenders and get tougher on them, does he? JAWL takes a look at those moves and lays out the case against that announcement.

Speaking of Steve and crime, he's called in those who always get their man to find out who sent out spoofed e-mails in his name.

One of the messages suggests Mr. Harper's recognition of Kosovo's independence could lead to Quebec sovereignty.

The other begins with the greeting, “Hi The Average Canadian, Stephen Harper wanted to tell you” that he intends to destroy health care, make Canada the 51st U.S. state, is beholden to the Alberta tar sands, and dislikes all things green except for the almighty American dollar.

The notes were sent to an e-mail address that automatically distributes messages to people who have signed onto the PMO listserv mailing list.

The jokesters would not necessarily have needed to hack into government computers to perform their stunt; all they would have required was the listserv's e-mail address.


Macleans' Kady O'Malley has more on that story.

Today's poll smoking: Various favourability ratings of the party leaders.

(I'm kind of bored with this race. Can you tell? Whose idea was it to do daily updates anyway? Oh yeah. Mine.)

Stephane Dion released his party's platform on Monday (titled, "Richer, Fairer, Greener") and explained how he'll balance the budget and, well, just read the article. (I'll try to be more enthusiastic tomorrow, I promise.)

I expect the Tory's platform will be named, "Meaner, Crueler, Talk to the Hand" because that was the subtitle of the last one.

Speaking of meaner, Steve is sticking with the income trust tax. That's sure to win him votes, especially from those seniors he ripped off.

Hey. I just followed a Google link to a post about the income trusts over at the Blogging Scaries - I mean "Tories" - and evidently I've been banned. Funny, I've never even commented there and have never linked to them. I guess this would be one of those pre-emptive attacks that conservatives are infamous for. Nice to know they're scared of me. That makes me happy.

You have been banned from this forum.
Please contact the webmaster or board administrator for more information.

What more information do I need? Wankers.

Anyway...where was I? Oh yes.

This news caught my ear today as well: Layton hints at coalition government

For the first time in this election campaign, Mr. Layton has broached the idea of a political alliance to prevent Mr. Harper from leading again.

Gee Jack, maybe you should have thought of that in 2005 when you seconded Harper's vote to bring down the Liberal government.

Margaret Wente chimes in on Elizabeth May: What's not to like about Ms. May? I heard some blurb today about people showing up to see her Green Train at 3 am. There was something about teddy bears in there too although not everyone is happy to see her.

Lastly, the battle for Quebec is on: Fortier v Duceppe

Time for Dancing With the Stars. (I jest - although my cat Joey is apparently a big fan. Who knew?)

ACLU: Government Ordered to Release Detainee Abuse Photos

From the ACLU's site, a court decision that could have ramifications in Canada:

NEW YORK – A federal court today ordered the Department of Defense to release photographs depicting the abuse of detainees by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected the government's appeal of a 2006 order directing the Defense Department to release the photos. Today's decision comes as part of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking information on the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody overseas.

"This is a resounding victory for the public's right to hold the government accountable," said ACLU staff attorney Amrit Singh, who argued before the court. "These photographs demonstrate that the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody abroad was not aberrational and not confined to Abu Ghraib, but the result of policies adopted by high-ranking officials. Their release is critical for bringing an end to the administration's torture policies and for deterring further prisoner abuse."

Those who followed the Conservative's government's shoddy handling of the detainee abuse file in Afghanistan will recognize that the revelation of these photos could put an abrupt end to earlier claims that detainee abuse was just "Taliban propaganda" which our defence and foreign affairs department, along with the PMO and every single Con MP, used as an excuse to write off real concerns about what our military may have been involved in when it turned over prisoners to the US military (until that was stopped) and then to the Afghan government. Remember the infamous filibuster of committee testimony and the other ridiculous lengths the Cons went to trying to hide the truth? If this court decision is allowed to stand unchallenged and these photos are released, expect yet another house of cards to come crashing down.


Video: The US Economy for Dummies



Sunday, September 21, 2008

Peter MacKay Caught 'Bending' the Rules

These Conservatives, they're just such an accountable bunch, aren't they?

Via the CP: Hospitality tab at Passport Canada costs taxpayers $16,800: document

The Canadian Press got it hands on a document that shows MacKay signing off on hospitality tab overruns for Passport Canada employees during the passport crunch last year.

Federal rules strictly govern hospitality expenses, especially when food and drink are provided free to civil servants.

The $16,800 hospitality tab - large, even by Ottawa's standards - was to buy lunches for 400 Passport Canada employees who were working weekends to cope with a crush of passport applications last year.

The government was caught off guard as record numbers of Canadians applied for passports to comply with tougher rules imposed by Washington for travellers entering the United States by air.

The employees had to work three weekends in a row to dig out from a massive backlog of applications.

Treasury Board rules allow civil servants to enjoy taxpayer-funded lunches if they're working outside of normal hours, although it's entirely at the discretion of a department. And if the cost is to exceed $5,000, it must be approved by the minister.

MacKay's approval came only after the civil servants had already chowed down on about $11,200 worth of free meals.

Peter Harder, then deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, alerted MacKay to the problem and asked for his approval as soon as possible "to minimize the amounts approved after the fact."

In a memo, Harder - who left the civil service for a law firm three days later - assured MacKay that "the positive aspect of reducing the operational backlog of passport applicants will far outweigh any public or media relations related to these hospitality expenses."

Shorter Harder: Just approve it. Canadians will get over it.

No thought given to the fact that they created the mess in the first place by agreeing to the paranoid and rushed provisions of the SPP.

A spokesman for Passport Canada did not respond to questions, including why the agency failed to seek the minister's permission before starting to provide the free lunches.

The hospitality tab does not appear in MacKay's or Harder's mandatory disclosure of such expenses on the Foreign Affairs website.


Canadian Election Watch - Day 15

To start off tonite's roundup, as reported by the CBC, props to Big City Lib for exposing some shocking opinions from Toronto Center Con candidate Chris Reid's (now disappeared) blog. (Note: the fact that he's gay has nothing to do with the situation so I'm raising my objection to BCL's headline for that post.) BCL has a follow up post here.

In his blog, according to BigCityLib blog, Reid criticized passengers on the bus in Manitoba where Tim McLean, 22, was beheaded in a gruesome killing in July.

Passengers and the driver "stood by and watched another person being butchered, and couldn't muster up any courage or self-sacrifice to intervene," Reid wrote.

"This is where socialism [has] gotten us folks, a castrated effeminate population."

He went on to say that if Canadians were allowed to carry concealed handguns, they could defend themselves.

Yes, more guns will fix everything, won't they? That's just this "castrated effeminate" person's sarcastic opinion.

And now for something completely different, the G&M offers this montage of 11 recent political cartoons.

Lastly, because I've been feeling pretty ill lately (literally - it's not just the reality of the political scene that's gotten to me although that sure doesn't help) I'll just add this list of links about today's action on the campaign trail:

NDP candidate apologizes for skinny-dipping (in front of minors 12 years ago)

Dion to unveil platform and hit the re-set button on sputtering campaign (shorter headline: he's releasing the Liberals' platform on Monday)

Harper misleading Quebeckers, Duceppe says (Harper's misleading everybody - no news there)

Catch Elizabeth May's Green Train coming soon to some tracks near you.

Steve and Stephane both took the day off.

Meanwhile, a new Harris Decima poll has the Cons lead widening. Ipsos shows the same trend. How many people will actually show up to vote is another question altogether.

Sunday Food for Thought: Piracy

“What do you want to be a sailor for? There are greater storms in politics than you will ever find at sea. Piracy, broadsides, blood on the decks. You will find them all in politics.”

- David Lloyd George (British Prime Minister. 1863-1945)

It's quite ironic and more than apropos that this past Friday was Talk Like a Pirate Day as the US government decided how best to pillage more of the booty of the American people by bailing out private financial companies to the tune of some $700 billion dollars. This is not a feel good Disney movie and the pirates involved are not the mythical, stereotypical, Hollywood likable, swashbuckling types. The only happy ending in this movie will happen for those whose enabled mismanagement of predatory lending practices and unregulated greed, saved from walking the proverbial plank, will blissfully sail off into the sunset ready and able to loot even more.

As the empire crumbled, defence secretary Robert Gates was busy panhandling in England this past week because the ability of the US government to financially manage its wars is in jeopardy:

...the US is to ask its Western allies, especially those who have failed to contribute to the military mission, to provide the bulk of $20 billion (£11bn) needed to more than double the size of the Afghan army from 65,000 to 134,000.

One senior US defence official said: "We feel it is only right that those who have not sent troops should pay towards the cost of the Afghan army. It's not just Nato countries, for example we have Japan, the world's second- biggest economy, who have no troops in Afghanistan. Shouldn't they contribute something?"

The audacity is astounding especially considering that several countries' central banks came to the rescue of the global financial system because of what's happening in the US in the same week to the tune of $180 billion, including $60bn of dollar liquidity' from - you guessed it - Japan.

If you can't afford your wars, perhaps you should consider ending them. Just a thought. But when you've committed to pillaging the natural resources of the countries you've invaded, the means apparently justify the ends.

So, who's responsible for this massive piracy on such an obscene scale? While Democratic and Republican partisans are blaming each other, trying to assure the public that if you vote for their guy "change" is a coming, Kevin Phillips provided the real picture to Bill Moyers last week and it shows the complicity of both parties:

BILL MOYERS: So how is it that, as you write in the book, the financial sector has hijacked the American economy? You used that term.

KEVIN PHILLIPS: I use the term. And without using a whole bunch of numbers, let me try to put it this way. You had-

BILL MOYERS: The numbers are there in chapter two.

KEVIN PHILLIPS: The numbers are there in chapter two. You had essentially a financial sector that, let's say, was sort of neck and neck with manufacturing back in the late 1980s. But they got control in a lot of ways in the agenda. Finance has been bailed out. I mean, everybody thinks this is horrible now what we're seeing in terms of bailouts. Even a lot of the people who do it think it's bad.

This has been going on since the beginning of the 1980s. Finance has been preferred as the sector that got government support. Manufacturing slides, nobody helps. Finance has a problem, Federal Reserve to the rescue. Treasury to the rescue. Subsidies this, that, and other.

So bit by bit, they got bigger. And the other reason they got bigger was because this became a country that was further and further in debt. Consumerism was just pushed to the nth degree. People were given the sense that they had to buy everything and they had to borrow to do it increasingly.

But we've seen the central component of the rise of the financial sector is the rise of the debt industry. Mortgage, credit cards, all these gimmicks that Wall Street sells-- just all kinds of products. And, of course, the products are laying an egg all over the world right now.

BILL MOYERS: You're very hard in here on Alan Greenspan's tenure at the Fed.

KEVIN PHILLIPS: Well, I know Alan from the Republican campaign back in 1968. He was always a very scholarly, data-driven guy. But I think, for some reason or other, his chairmanship will be remembered as turn on the spigots.

BILL MOYERS: Turn on the spigots?

KEVIN PHILLIPS: Turn on the spigots. He started in 1987 with a crash that was a wicked one in one day in 1987. And he turned on the spigots. And they had the huge growth of the tech bubble in the 1990s. And then right after the tech and the stock market bubble blew up in 2000, you had 9/11. So there was a need for more stimulus. And they ginned up the stimulus again hugely.

And the upshot is that during Greenspan's tenure from 1987 to 2006, what they call total credit market debt in the United States quadrupled, quadrupled from about $11 trillion up to $44, $45, $46 trillion. And finance got the great bulk of it. And Greenspan would do nothing to disturb finance.

He wouldn't puncture a bubble. He wouldn't crack down on the exotic mortgages. He really wouldn't do much of anything except give obscure speeches in which, you know, he mumbled the different directions so nobody would know what he meant. But basically he gave finance what they wanted.

BILL MOYERS: And you write also that during this period the Clinton Administration aided and abetted this kind of speculation. Bill Clinton's economic advisor, Bob Rubin, who later became Secretary of Treasury — wanting to fuel this, right?

KEVIN PHILLIPS: It's been a bipartisan phenomenon. You can go back to the 1980s and say Reagan and George Bush, Sr., got a bubble started. Clinton got in and got an even bigger bubble going. And then George W. Bush with the biggest bubble of all. But it's not that the Clintonites didn't play. They did. Bob Rubin as Secretary of the Treasury — I mean, if he was a Hindu and he was being reincarnated, he'd come back as a pail because this guy bailed out everything you can imagine. They had the Mexican loan bailout. They had the long-term capital management bailout, the Russian Southeast Asian currency bailouts.

BILL MOYERS: All of which, however, kept them from coming into this economy, into our economy, coming to our continent.

KEVIN PHILLIPS: Well, except that a lot of the liquidity they created and the momentum and the borrowed money produced the implosion of the bubble in 2000.And a lot of what was imploding was the $2.5 trillion in new debt that was tied to energy and telecommunications, that's Enron, WorldCom, and Global Crossing. So there was a lot more of a bubble blown up there.

Rubin was also central — Democrats more than Republicans in a lot of ways with the Clinton Administration — in getting rid of Glass Stiegel [sic] [it's Glass-Steagall -catnip] , was the old restriction that the banks couldn't tie up with brokerage firms and insurance companies. Well, basically after they made their reform led by Clinton and by Bob Rubin, you had like four-color linguini here in a bowl. It's all mixed up together.

BILL MOYERS: So you have it — for this disaster has bipartisan parentage.


So, who's going to save the world?

BILL MOYERS: What do you think when you hear John McCain and Secretary Paulson say that the fundamentals, however, are solid?

KEVIN PHILLIPS: Well, John McCain once said he didn't know anything about economics. And half the time what he says, you know, proves that on a day-by-day basis. I don't think we have a sound economy at all. Not remotely at this point. I mean, there are, like, ten yardsticks I could use. Paulson is your typical Treasury Secretary guy that has to deal with it. And everybody knows he has to exaggerate. He has to say all the Hoover type stuff about how strong the economy is and the recession's going to be over in three months and that sort of stuff. I don't really credit these people very much. But, frankly, I don't credit the Democrats either.

BILL MOYERS: No, I was going to say Obama's trademark rhetoric of inspiration seems to desert him when he talks about economic affairs.

KEVIN PHILLIPS: He doesn't seem to have anything very specific to say. That's part of the problem. A second problem is, for me at least, you know, just as I can't believe that John McCain ever wanted to get his economic advice from Phil Gramm. I mean, Phil Gramm, a former Texas Senator, appalling. He and his wife were known as Mr. and Mrs. Enron because they were so flagrant, that's McCain.

But then you've got Obama with Bob Rubin and he doesn't have any problem with the hedge fund types. I mean, one of the Chicago people was a major financer of his. He gets a guy to pick his vice-president. Turns out to be somebody who was part of the Fannie and Freddie mess.

So I don't exactly see Obama as this fellow riding in on a horse who represents all kinds of reformism. It's an important thing probably to have to change from the Republicans but I don't see that he is free of the ties to finance and Democratic Party financial types.

Once again, the American public will be left holding the bag with a dismal choice for the future.

One would think that maybe those who have been written off as "commies", "socialists", "liberals", and "radicals" would at least garner a bit of respect now after warning for decades of the perils of globalization, global integration of the financial sector, wars without end, the rape of natural resources, and the danger of the status quo conservative philosophies that have been accepted by the largest mainstream western political parties. But it seems the public is not yet ready to admit in any grand or humbled way that it has so foolishly been led by the nose down a gangplank of its own making while envisioning its' leaders to be that kindly, likable Johnny Depp type of pirate who would still, after all, turn around and steal all of its money in the blink of an eye.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

- Albert Einstein, Why Socialism? (1949)


Text of Draft Proposal for Bailout Plan
Treasury Seeks Asset-Buying Power Unchecked by Courts (Update2)
Exclusive: Foreign banks may get help
Bipartisan Support for Wall St. Rescue Plan Emerges
Chalmers Johnson: Why the US Has Gone Broke
Robert Fisk: Why does the US think it can win in Afghanistan?
Paulson Bailout Plan a Historic Swindle

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Quote du Jour: Bush Learns How the Economy Works

From his press briefing on Saturday:

Q Democrats are insisting that the federal bailout package include help for homeowners facing foreclosure, other assistance for middle-class citizens such as possibly expanding the jobless benefits. Is that completely out of the question?

PRESIDENT BUSH: We're going to work with Congress to get a bill done quickly. I called leaders of both chambers, both parties, yesterday to thank them for the initial statements coming out of the meeting that they had with Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke. I found a common understanding of how severe the problem is and how it is necessary to get something done quickly, and I think we will.

President George W. Bush listens as Colombian President Alvaro Uribe speaks to a reporter Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008, during a joint press availability in the Rose Garden at the White House. White House photo by Eric Draper And we'll continue to work with them. It is essential that the package be robust and strong to address the problem. I know -- look, I'm sure there are some of my friends out there saying, I thought this guy was a market guy; what happened to him?

Well, my first instinct wasn't to lay out a huge government plan. My first instinct was to let the market work until I realized, upon being briefed by the experts, of how significant this problem became.

And so I decided to act and act boldly. It turns out that there's a lot of interlinks throughout the financial system.
The system had grown to a point where a lot of people were dependent upon each other, and that the collapse of one part of the system wouldn't just affect a part of the financial markets; it would affect the average citizen -- and how. Well, it affect[sic] their capacity to borrow money to buy a house or to finance a college loan. It affect[sic] the ability of a small business to get credit. In other words, the system risk was significant, and it required a significant response, and Congress understands that. And we'll work to get something done as quickly and as big as possible.

The man just found out about those "interlinks" today?

Ummm...holy fuck??

Canadian Election Watch - Day 14

Kelly McParland of the National Post gets the prize for the most hysterical headline of the day: "Somebody barricade the mint: Liberal promises top $80 billion. Yes, you read that right". McParland then identifies the spending promises made by the major parties since this campaign started. The phrase "apples and oranges" comes to mind. Let's hope this person isn't an accountant because the alarm he or she has raised is quite disingenuous especially considering the fact that history has shown that it's the Conservative party, hands down, that has managed to squander surpluses and leave Canadians with deficits repeatedly. What that article also fails to mention is the proposed revenue side of each party's balance sheet. Nevertheless, it does provide a roundup of who's been promising what and for that reason alone, it's useful. Leave the hysteria at the door.

Harper on the plane:

Harper brought his wife Laureen and daughter Rachel to Nunavut for the brief six-hour stopover.

His son Ben was busy at hockey try-outs, he said.

Ben, a good player, doesn't want to tryout out for competitive league. "His choice," says his hockey fan dad, who says he is still writing a history of hockey.

Ben's choice comes as a relief to Laureen, Harper said.

"My wife says 'I don't want to do all that driving around.'"

Harper threw up his hands: "I said 'the police drive you around.' We don't even have a car."

The family sold its van because they never used it. His Mountie bodyguards won't let him drive. "They said if I insisted they'd let me drive on the highway."

What happened to Sensitive Metrosexual Man in a Sweater Vest Steve?

On the north:

Harper hadn't heard Stephane Dion's crack about the Conservative military strategy in the north – the reference that Canada couldn't win in a military set with Russia or the U.S. and "we're too civilized to shoot the Danes."

Harper said it is a reference to the dispute over Hans Island. "I have all these atlases at home and I don't even have one that's big enough to show Hans Island. It's a little dot in the middle of nowhere."

A reporter joked: "So are you ceding Hans Island?"

"Believe me, we have more important disputes than Hans Island."

Miss Teen South Carolina obviously should have included Harper in her list of people who need maps. And how about Teh Google Maps, Steve? Ever heard of them? Oh who cares about a "little dot" anyway? Ottawa's a "little dot" too so I guess he won't mind if someone else takes that over either.

And here's another example of what Steve's logic (or lack thereof) looks like:

He frankly admitted he never wanted Green leader Elizabeth May in the televised debates, after previously suggesting it was a decision of the broadcasters consortium.

He said it's "ridiculous that someone who is running in a coalition with another party would be in the debates. It's a matter of principle. Can Peter MacKay go in the debate?"

Breaking news: apparently MacKay is in a coalition with another party!

Yes, that's our (current) esteemed (by die hard Conservatives) leader. Shades of Bush moments. Now why know why he avoids the press as much as possible.

And here's a concise roundup of the day's events:

The New Democrats moved to the political right Saturday, promising to get tough on criminals, the Liberals promised millions for the arts and the Tories pledged to maintain a strong presence in the Arctic and create a stand-alone economic development agency. The promises come as a new poll suggests voter apathy is running high.

A new Ipsos Reid poll for Canwest News Service and Global News suggests two in 10 Canadians are paying more attention to this election than past votes. The majority, about 65 per cent, say they're giving the election the same amount of attention as others. And 14 per cent say they're paying less attention, the poll found.

Considering the fact that there was absolutely no reason to dissolve parliament and call this election, it's no wonder Canadians aren't interested although this site might generate more participation:

A satirical website has also hit the Internet as a result of the Ritz affair. The site -_www.deathby1000coldcuts.info - invites participants to "fire salami slices from your cold cut cannon over the skies of Parliament to defend the honour of Canada and the sensibilities of your fellow citizens!"

The site was created Thursday by a group of employees at Guru Dynamics, a Toronto-based web design and hosting company.

"Gerry Ritz made his comments and we were outraged," co-creator Roger Grant told Canwest News Service. "We feel that he should've been fired."

"We believe political satire plays an important role in voter involvement. We wanted to draw attention to it and that's why we put it the way we did it so people would look at it."

Have at it. It's like having your very own chicken cannon and who doesn't want one of those?

Write Your Own Caption

Talk to the hand!

Photo credit: Reuters

Friday, September 19, 2008

Canadian Election Watch - Day 13

Steve tried to talk about the state of the Canadian banking system on Friday but Gerry Ritz was again the topic du jour.

Here's how not to handle the situation:

Dennis Schroh, whose mother Elizabeth Schroh died on Aug. 24 in Saskatchewan after contracting the strain of listeria linked to the Maple Leaf Foods meat recall, said he was offended when news broke that Gerry Ritz had cracked jokes about the outbreak while he was on a conference call with scientists and political staffers Aug. 30.

While Harper expressed his sympathies for Schroh and other victims' families, he again refused to fire Ritz over the comments.

"Well, look, we would expect that people in that position would be very upset as we all are, and obviously we sympathize greatly with the situation and the loss of their loved ones," Harper said.

"Minister Ritz clearly did not intend to make any such comments publicly and has thoroughly apologized."

Too late, Steve. He was busted. And you seem to think it was okay that he made the comments because, as you're going to great (and ridiculous) pains to explain to people calling for his resignation, it's fine with you that he cracked jokes about dead people and had a death wish for Wayne Easter as long as he did it privately. Do you see where I'm going with this, Steve? Have you read the news today? Listeria toll reaches 18 with death of B.C. woman. One more person for Ritz to insult.

On another front - the actual military front in Afghanistan - Control Freak Steve has effectively muzzled the Defence department spokespuppets. Journalists are not impressed - again. As for what's going on in that war, I'll be writing a post about some new developments on Saturday. Stay tuned.

From the Shenanigans file: Liberal MP Accuses Tory of Unethical use of the Internet because he parked his domain name. That's life in the fast lane. You snooze, you lose.

Are you easily started? If so, you either have PTSD, some other anxiety disorder or you're a conservative. Yes Virginia, we really do have different brains but if you're conservative, you'll probably reject those test results because we liberals are more open to new ideas.

Related to those revelations is this G&M article in Saturday's paper:

“Americans are much more ideological than Canadians. They tenaciously hold on to their ideological orientations and they are much more conservative, much more moral, with more religiosity and so forth.”

In contrast, Canadian voters over the past quarter-century have indicated to academic investigators that most of them can't define right or left or care about the distinction. They increasingly think of themselves as non-partisan and non-ideological. They have the weakest political-party affinity in the Western world.

In sum, they're reminiscent of U.S. philosopher Thomas Nagel's celebrated essay on what it's like to be a bat, in which Prof. Nagel reasoned that only a bat knows what a bat is. Only a Canadian voter knows what a Canadian voter is.

He adds:

There is an educated, engaged elite in the country that is very partisan and sees clear and deep distinctions between the political parties. But to a majority of Canadians, the parties pretty much look alike, with Jack Layton and Stephen Harper as an identical pair of suits.

There's that word: "elite". I'm an "elite", am I? Could have fooled me. I don't even eat arugula. And if that's the state of mind of Canadian voters, we really are screwed.

In the late 1980s, early 1990s, Mr. Graves says, 40 per cent of Canadians self-identified as small-l liberal, 25 per cent identified as small-c conservative and 35 per cent said they were neither. Today, he says, 28 per cent identify as conservative, 24 per cent as liberal and a whopping 48 per cent say they are neither. (A Conservative Party insider last week put the party's core support at 27 per cent.)

The 2000 Canadian National Election Study uses somewhat different numbers but presents a similar – and perhaps even more politically intriguing – picture.

It says 18 per cent of Canadians identify themselves as being on the right, 13 per cent say they're on the left, 39 per cent say they're somewhere in the centre and 29 per cent don't know where they are, putting the non-ideological total at 68 per cent.

Those people obviously need to start using the internets more. If they don't know where they are, maybe Google Maps can help. Or, if they can't figure out how that site works, perhaps a simple multiple choice test would do the trick.

Mini headline roundup:

It's Reefer Madness in the NDP party!

And speaking of smoking:


There's uncertainty in the economy. Canada's "mission" in Afghanistan is being called into question as more soldiers die. Homelessness is at epidemic proportions. Addressing global warming and the environment has never been more urgent. There's a childcare shortage, a nursing shortage and our healthcare system is stretched to the brink. So what is the pressing issue Prime Minister Stephen Harper felt the need to address this week head on, balls out and without an ounce of mercy? Candy. Candy-flavoured tobacco products to be precise.
And who better to dissuade young people from smoking than a perpetually uncomfortable-looking grey-haired man with a slight paunch and a fondness for baby blue sweaters and dress slacks. Maybe he could have a "rap session" with the kids of today about the dangers of smoking and the fun you can have making model airplanes and collecting Brian Mulroney memorabilia. That should do the trick. Just as long as Harper keeps his pudgy little hands off our Big League Chew bubble gum, which is supposed to resemble chewing tobacco, and Popeye Candy Cigarettes, which really are gross, and everything will be cool.

Not only does Elizabeth May get to be in the leaders' debates, she gets to kick off the first one - standing right beside Steve on top of that.

It was a pretty boring day for Gilles. The battle for Quebec continues.

My elitist chariot awaits...