Monday, May 25, 2009

Quote du Jour: Shovel-ready Baird

Comment by Nova Scotia Liberal MP Michael Savage in response to the Cons using John Baird as their bullying frontman during Question Period today to fend off opposition party complaints about the EI system:

"The only thing that's shovel-ready are the answers from this minister."


Caution: Flying bullshit

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Quote du Jour: The Infallible Prime Minister

I have never in my life knowingly done anything wrong.

- Brian Mulroney
Oliphant Commission testimony, May 19, 2009

Someone nominate the man for sainthood!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The New Wonderland

"I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views."
- Barack Obama

"I quite agree with you," said the Duchess; "and the moral of that is--'Be what you would seem to be'--or if you'd like it put more simply--'Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.'"

- Alice in Wonderland (Chapter 9)

ACLU: Obama Administration Reverses Promise To Release Torture Photos

Obama Breaks Major Campaign Promise as Military Commissions Resume, Says Amnesty International

Greenwald: Obama's kinder, gentler military commissions

Obama mulls 'indefinite detention' of terror suspects

Death in Libya, betrayal in the west

Obama supporters up in arms once again simply cannot claim that they weren't warned. They just refused to pay attention when it really mattered.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mulroney on the Defensive

Brian Mulroney is a pathetic shell of a man. If you ask him why, he'll say that his biggest mistake was meeting Karlheinz Schreiber - leading, as we all know by now, to his acceptance of envelopes of disputed amounts of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash under the table. He says he's sorry about that. From all appearances, he's more sorry that he has had to admit it publicly.

After 2 days of softball questions from his lawyer Guy Pratte at the Oliphant Commission, the commission's counsel, Richard Wolfson, hammered Mulroney this morning about why he didn't reveal his business relationship with Schreiber when he was under oath in 1996 - stating that he only met with Schreiber for "coffee". Mulroney, claiming his interrogators wanted to "kill" him, repeatedly stated that nobody had asked him. His propensity to answer simple questions with long, unrelated diatribes leading him in whichever direction he chooses to go under oath, then and now, belies the idea that those lawyers at that time had failed (as Mulroney contended). They asked questions. He gave answers that he wanted to give.

Wolfson made the point that, as a former (supposedly honourable) prime minister whose business with Schreiber was legitimate (at least according to Mulroney), he shouldn't have had any qualms back in 1996 about talking about the so-called "retainer" money Schreiber had provided. But they didn't ask about it!, poor Brian insisted.

It's everybody else's fault, you see. If only... If only they had asked about those business arrangements back then (even though they had absolutely no way of knowing about them and Mulroney was quite happy to talk all about Marc Lalonde's business with Schreiber at length but obviously not his own), poor Brian and his family could have been spared this Greek-style tragedy.

The drama continues... as does the testimony. No matter what, however, the time is long past for Mulroney to rehabilitate his very tarnished reputation. They don't call him 'Lyin' Brian' for nothing. He's an arrogant, paranoid, defensive man who wants us to believe that he is entitled, by his very existence, to be redeemed. The reality that he continues to create defies that fantasy.


Mulroney blames reporters for show of emotion (Have I mentioned how pathetic he is?)


Quote du Jour: Why the Cons are investigating Dhalla

Asked why the committee was proceeding with further investigation into the matter, Tilson told reporters bluntly: "Because you people are writing about it."

You thought they actually cared about those caregivers?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lyin' Brian Under Oath

Brian Mulroney, the former Conservative prime minister whom Harper and his bunch have recently tried so desperately to brand as a non-Conservative - a pre-emptive strike before his appearance at the Oliphant Commission - began his testimony this morning in an emphatic, Nixonian 'I am not a crook' style.

Right out of the gate, Mulroney tried to play the sympathy card:

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney said Tuesday at a federal inquiry he hid his business dealings with German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber to avoid the rumours and speculation that fuelled [sic] allegations against him in the Airbus affair.

"The enormity of those events scarred me and my family for life. And it explains my conduct in trying to keep private the private commercial transaction I entered into with Mr. Schreiber after I left office, so as to avoid the same kinds of deceitful and false purveying of information that had led to the original Airbus matter in the first place."

Mulroney received a $2.1-million settlement after he sued for defamation when his name was publicly mentioned in connection with a 1995 investigation into the sale of the Airbus jets to Air Canada.

Poor Brian. So misunderstood.

Canadians will have to choose between live coverage of 2 scandals today as MP Ruby Dhalla testifies before the standing committee on citizenship and immigration in an attempt to fend off the Nannygate allegations.

All in all : drama everywhere you look.


Watch the happenings live online on CPAC's site.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ignatieff Bashes the Coalition

All politicians lie. The job of a voter is to decide whose lies they like more. While Michael Ignatieff was out pimping his new book, True Patriot Love, on Sunday in Montreal (a "love" Star columnist Linda Diebel questioned back in December 2008 considering Ignatieff's extended leave from Canada), he was also busy trashing the coalition between the BQ, Liberals and NDP that almost brought down the failing Conservative government until Harper chose the coward's way out and prorogued parliament to avoid his own demise.

MONTREAL — If the proposed coalition of opposition parties had come to power last year it would have deeply and enduringly divided Canadians, says Michael Ignatieff.

In Montreal on Sunday to promote his most recent book, the federal Liberal leader also said the coalition came at a time when the party's right to govern would have been called into question after one of the worst election results in its history.

The party lost 19 seats and captured just 26 per cent of the vote in last October's federal election.

"I'm in politics to unify people, not to divide them," Ignatieff said.

"There was also a question concerning the legitimacy of the coalition that troubled me."


Ignatieff felt that Canada, entering into a severe economic recession, needed more certainty than the coalition could provide, comparing the tentative deal to an unstable three-legged stool.

"I felt it was very difficult to guarantee the necessary political stability during a time of crisis with three partners in a formal coalition," he said.

"That was my first doubt. I couldn't guarantee the long-term stability of the coalition under the circumstances."

As Blogging Horse notes:

...things Ignatieff used to say about the coalition he now derides:

“I think the thing that the Canadian people…have to understand is that the coalition agreement does not jeopardize the national unity of our country. No Liberal, certainly not me with would ever sign into any agreement that jeopardized the national unity of the country, that compromises the national authority of the government or sets in place unequal treatment of provinces." – Michael Ignatieff, "Mike Duffy Live", 5 December 2008

“I support the [Coalition] accord because it's fiscally responsible, it provides responsible economic leadership in tough times and it also conserves the basic principles of national unity, equality that our party has always believed in.” – Michael Ignatieff

In fact, Ignatieff was so opposed to the coalition accord he now considers more divisive than Stephen Harper, that he was only willing to sign a petition to the Governor General in favour of it...

Despite what Ignatieff was saying publicly back then, it was obvious to astute observers that he considered the coalition a non-starter. As Jack Layton put it when Ignatieff supported the Cons' budget, "Mr Ignatieff has chosen to form a new coalition with Mr Harper."

Of course, the idea that the coalition would have shattered Canadian unity is just a strawman for the politics behind the situation. The Liberals weren't ready for an election. Ignatieff would have been loathe to share power with other coalition leaders when he had just grabbed the brass ring of leadership. The Liberal party had to revamp its platform - a task it still hasn't completed. Perhaps Ignatieff should have spent less time writing a new book about his personal life and more focused on what he's supposed to be doing as leader.

The Liberal party is expected to bring out its' new and improved policies in June - a time when the Canadian public will be more focused on the last days of school and the coming days of summer. As former White House chief of staff Andrew Card said of announcing the drumbeats of war against Iraq in September, 2002, "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." And this session of parliament will likely end with the Dhalla Nannygate scandal hanging in the air over whatever the Liberals might wish to do policy-wise.

For some unknown reason, Michael Ignatieff decided this was a good time to throw his political allies in the Bloc and NDP under the bus by backing off his previously stated support of the coalition - an idea that had broad support across Canada during very turbulent times. He might want to spend some time with a political consultant or two in between book tour appearances to learn a bit about how to win friends and influence people.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Friday Fun: The Mulroney/Schreiber Affair for Dummies

Was Abdurahman Khadr telling the truth?

In 2004, one of Omar Khadr's brothers, Abdurahman, shared what seemed like a fantastical story with PBS' investigative show Frontline. His now infamous tale involved quite an incredible journey through several countries - from Afghanistan to Gitmo in Cuba and onto Bosnia where he claimed to have worked as a CIA informant. With no way to actually prove his CIA connection, he has remained under a cloud of suspicion since he went public. Both he and child soldier Omar Khadr have been smeared with guilt-by-association charges by those who believe that they hold the radical views expressed by their notorious parents and other family members.

None of that is news, of course, but what reminded me of Khadr's adventure was this article in The Independent this past week that might actually lend some credibility to his story: Exposed: MI5's secret deals in Camp X-ray - How MI5 attempted to recruit prison camp inmates

MI5 secretly tried to hire British men held in Guantanamo Bay and other US prison camps by promising to protect them from their American captors and help secure their return home to the United Kingdom, The Independent has learnt.

Khadr is a Canadian but the first officials he spoke to in Afghanistan when he was picked up were British because, as he explained to Frontline:

Why would the British come and see you?

Well this is after I was put in jail, you know. … I don't know, they told me, "Well there's no Canadian embassy so we are responsible for any Canadians here in Kabul under detention." …

Then they moved us from that jail to another jail which was the Afghani intelligence jails. There is a lot of them but the third intelligence directorate jail. They kept us there and that's where the Americans first interrogated me and then Canadians, the RCMP. They kept me there for a month and a half and then they moved us from there … to another jail.

The British story has a twist, however:

One of the men, Richard Belmar, was told he would be paid "well" for his services if he was willing to work undercover for MI5. A second detainee, Bisher Al Rawi, was told that if he agreed to work for the security service he would be "freed within months".

Three other detainees were threatened with rendition and harsh detention regimes if they did not co-operate with their British and American interrogators.

But MI5 failed to honour the promises made by its agents, a former agent has told The Independent.

The source, who is close to the MI5 officers who conducted the interviews, has confirmed that "assurances" had been given to the British men while they were held in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. But he said that senior officers in London had cleared the actions of its own officers but later reneged on the promises. This is backed up by sworn testimony lodged in the High Court from the former detainees.

As the article notes, these British agents want the public to know that they had approval from those in charge - that they were not some rogue players in this situation. That's why these details have now come out.

Considering the international intelligence community's collaborations during this period, it suddenly seems even more probable that Abdurahman Khadr was in fact telling the truth. There is very little else to explain the strange facts involved in his incarcerations, releases and subsequent travels that ended with his return to Canada without even a whisper of any charges being laid for his purported role in the so-called war on terrorism.

Working for the CIA

[Frontline:][Tell us about your first contact with the CIA.]

[Khadr:] The first contact with the CIA … it was the meeting where, you know, they started asking me questions. They told me that we know you've been talking to the British and you were very cooperative. And can you help us in this place, can you help us in that? I said well I've already told this to the British. I'll help you anyway. I just want to get out. …


Editor's Note: FRONTLINE asked the CIA to confirm or deny Abdurahman Khadr's story but the agency declined to comment. However, Abdurahman did submit to a polygraph examination at FRONTLINE's request, in which he was asked about his work for U.S. intelligence, being paid for it and being flown on a small jet to Bosnia for his mission there. On all major aspects of his story, Abdurahman passed the polygraph.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The New 'Good Germans'

Sick country. Deluded people:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A national poll indicates that most Americans don't want to see an investigation of Bush administration officials who authorized harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, even though most people think such procedures were forms of torture.

Six in 10 people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday believe that some of the procedures, such as waterboarding, were a form of torture, with 36 percent disagreeing.

But half the public approves of the Bush administration's decision to use of those techniques during the questioning of suspected terrorists, with 50 percent in approval and 46 percent opposed.

"Roughly one in five Americans believe those techniques were torture but nonetheless approve of the decision to use those procedures against suspected terrorists," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "That goes a long way toward explaining why a majority don't want to see former Bush officials investigated."

Fifty-seven percent of those questioned don't want Congress to investigate Bush officials who authorized those harsh interrogation procedures, with 42 percent calling for action by lawmakers. Fifty-five percent also don't want a similar investigation by an independent panel.

Investigations of the military and intelligence personnel who actually used those techniques during interrogations are even less popular. Nearly two out of three Americans don't want Congress to investigate the who carried out those procedures. Fifty-five percent don't want a similar investigation by an independent panel.

I'm waiting for the poll question that asks, 'If you or your child were waterboarded, would you call it torture and demand an investigation?'

The American exceptionalist attitude is breathtaking.

Brace for karma, people.