Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Way Forward?

The GOP seems to be marketing itself as the party of survivalists and unemployed torture chamber workers. Don't believe me? Give this a watch.
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The Rest Is Silence

I have been wondering why the Tories have been so quiet about their coup in getting Robert Fowler freed from captivity. Normally, they would be braying to the world about their genius in foreign affairs. But in this case, only silence. Do you think they are trying to hide something they are not very proud of?
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Plan B

If Layton is really serious about getting things done, he should be on the phone to Gilles Duceppe, tonight. The two of them should get together and present a common set of progressive demands and play the Liberals off against the Tories. They should stop letting Harper and Iggy set the agenda. The Bloc and the NDP have the power of life and death, they should get together and do some good for the country. Bring the coalition agenda into being another way.
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For Thirty Pieces Of Silver

Shorter Garrison Keillor: "Let those who tortured prisoners go free. At least we will get free health care out of it. C'mon, what are a few tortured Muslims, when you can have a free bypass!"

Update: Dear readers. Read the piece and let me know what you think. After re-reading it, it might be satire that went over my head. What say you?

Update the Second: On the other hand. It is beginning to look as if the "Keillor is a liberal wanker" position is the right one.
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NDP Deathwatch

Year 48, Part 2. Today it is Chantal Hebert's turn. All of these Liberal-leaning media expressing only the best for the NDP, are just touching. Really.
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Thomas Friedman Cries And Justifies Torture

I know, I know, saying Tom Friedman is an asshole, is a little like saying the sun is hot. But, today Friedman had another "suck on this" moment, in which he shrugs his shoulders and says basically, "Hey, we are trying to build a democratic Iraq (yes he is back to justifying Bush's war), so of course we are going to have to torture people. It is the nature of modern war. Too bad. So sad. Suck on it." Today is a day when Americans and the rest of us are reminded once again of the culpability of the MSM in the lawlessness of government. When the press is acting as the fourth branch of government anything, including torture, is possible.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hell Freezes Over, Etc.

I agree with a Margaret Wente column. Remarkable.
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What Can One Say

About a government so cowardly that it condemns torture on the one hand, while using the results of torture to craft a "Hail Mary" strategy to keep one of its own citizens out of the country? Words fail me.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Morning For Socialism In America

It is great to hear phrases like "the ruling class" being tossed about again. I find it bracing and it brings me back to my youth. It also shows that the torture issue is waking up a few to the realities of the world.
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Good Morning

Wake up, y'all.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Trials Would Be Good Enough

Frank Rich in the NY Times today:
President Obama can talk all he wants about not looking back, but this grotesque past is bigger than even he is. It won’t vanish into a memory hole any more than Andersonville, World War II internment camps or My Lai. The White House, Congress and politicians of both parties should get out of the way. We don’t need another commission. We don’t need any Capitol Hill witch hunts. What we must have are fair trials that at long last uphold and reclaim our nation’s commitment to the rule of law.
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

I'm With Wells

I also don't give a rat's ass if Democrats end up in jail over the U.S. torture scandal. If it can be shown that they broke the law, that's where they belong.

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NDP Deathwatch

Year 48. Liberals never tire of speculating after the health of the NDP. Touching really.
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Um, What?

Is Rob Silver giving us insight into the views of the Ottawa Establishment, on the Khadr judgment? If so, this should give all of us some pause. Silver brings out the classic conservative "activist judges" argument to complain about the judgment against the Harperites (remember Silver is a Liberal).

The idea that the judge was holding the government to account for consciously ignoring its own signature on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, never appears to cross his mind. Despite the initial eyewash about his belief that the government "should" intervene on Khadr's behalf, in Silver's mind this is all about the government's "right" to conduct foreign policy as it sees fit and judicial interference in that "right".

To Silver, it all comes down to the difference between "should" and "must", no matter what documents the government signs. No wonder Khadr was in jail during the Liberal years. Sadly, I get the feeling this is the elite consensus, in Ottawa. Law is to be ignored or applied at the whim of the prime minister in power.
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Friday, April 24, 2009

Reclaiming America's Soul

What Krugman said.
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Shorter Harper

We reserve the right to use the infrastructure of the rule of law, as a means of forestalling the upholding of the rights of a Canadian citizen. Oh, and the Liberals did the same, so there.
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Torture As Debating Point

This headline in the New York Times sent a chill up my back : At Core of Detainee Fight: Did Methods Stop Attacks? If the answer is yes, then torture is justified? They might as well have just written "The Ends do Justify the Means", and be done with it.

The article itself is just further evidence that the he said/he said equivalence of the Bush era in the MSM is alive and well at the Times:
For both sides, the political stakes are high, as proposals for a national commission to unravel the interrogation story appear to be gaining momentum. Mr. Obama and his allies need to discredit the techniques he has banned. Otherwise, in the event of a future terrorist attack, critics may blame his decision to rein in C.I.A. interrogators.
The Obamaites have to discredit torture? Really? I guess I shouldn't be amazed by this, but I am. America's paper of record is openly calling on the President to prove that torture is ineffective, rather than condemning the practice as a wrong in and of itself. If anyone needs proof that America is fracked, you need look no further than this article.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Great Line Of The Day

From Dennis Perrin:
There are rare moments when the American Fix is so blatant, so obvious, that speaking against it merely reinforces its power and reach. This is one of those moments. Admire it, fellow peasants. You have nothing to lose but your CHANGE.
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Shorter Dalton McGuinty

To auto worker retirees: Let them eat dog food.
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shorter Obama

Obama: We cannot hold the government accountable for things that happened in the past, only for the things that happen in the future.

Me: But won't those things then be in the past?

Obama: Exactly.

Update: Better, but I will believe it when Cheney is in the dock. Still too much dodging and weaving and evasive maneuvers.
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Canada, Not To Be Left Out

Has abandoned even the facade of democracy. The question of the day is, are elections, as they are now constituted, even necessary?

Exhibit A: Our two biggest parties are, in effect, acting as agents for a foreign corporation, against the interests of Canadian workers. They make the act of voting as appealing as suicide.
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

It Is Now Official

The United States is no longer a democracy. It is an oligarchy. President Obama is essentially telling the world, that there are people above the law in the U.S. and those people belong to a protected clique. Good luck to our American cousins, they are going to need it (especially if they find themselves in the torture chambers of their country's enemies).

Update: Oh and President Obama is now breaking international law. Not that anyone gives a shit.
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Biggest Bad News Story Of the Weekend

For Stephen Harper. EPA: Global warming a health hazard This will make the Prime Minister of Alberta's job a lot harder. The EPA doesn't screw around once they get you in their sights. That's why Bush suppressed them for eight years.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Playing Games -- Again

It is becoming clear that the Tories are playing games with Ontario's economy. They are so focused on setting up the CAW as the fall guy, should Chrysler go belly up, that no other initiatives are even being put on the table. Letting Chrysler go under seems to be very attractive to the Tories for some reason. First, it kicks Ontario in the balls (something that will warm the hearts of the Alberta-heavy caucus, still seeking revenge for the NEP) and second, it makes the CAW look like the bad guys (which is something the Blogging Tories will be glad to run with). With this government, nothing is more important than to bleed Ontario and keep its base happy. Nothing. Not the economy, not security for its citizens. Nothing.

Update:The leaders of the CAW, not being retarded, have decided to fight back.
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Not Very Happy

Digby is not a happy camper. He has a very long post about the torture memos and finishes with this:
They are all war criminals, from the nice looking Mormon sadists who call themselves doctors, to the twisted bureaucrats in the Justice Department who call themselves lawyers, to the top leadership of the Bush administration who sat there and watched choreographed torture sessions in the White House and have the utter gall to call themselves human. They all knew that what they were doing was repulsive and immoral. That's why went to such lengths to ensure that all of it was approved with all the is dotted and all the ts crossed all the way to the very top and back down again. They all implicated each other.

Apparently, they assumed that nobody would ever prosecute even one of these very important, upstanding members of their professions for horrific crimes such as these because if onw went down they would all go down. And apparently they were right.
He is of course correct. The Obama Administration is running and hiding from this a fast as they can. The question is why?

This is a question that may never be answered, but Roland Martin may have given the game away yesterday on CNN:
MARTIN: Look, unfortunately, the left, frankly, needs to shut up when it comes to this issue, because if you're the president -- if you're President Obama, the last thing you want is the future president, if it's a Republican, looking back at what you did and saying we're going to prosecute those folks, as well.
Got that. Let's unbox this a little. Martin is basically preemptively accepting a possible Republican argument that all prosecutions for real war crimes are politically motivated. Am I the only one who thinks that is bat shit crazy? Or is it something else? Could it be that Martin is accepting the idea that Obama will probably do something illegal too and so it is not in his interest to go after Bush, for fear of being put in jail himself down the road? If that is so, America is done. Once rule of law is replaced by the rule of serial elite ass covering, democracy is finished.

Update: It seems others are not very happy either. Oh well, the President's defenders can always tell us to "shut up".

Saturday Update: Chris Floyd with a terrific deconstruction of Obama's statement accompanying the release of the memos.
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dear Psycho Steve

If you think your poll numbers in Ontario are bad now, just wait. And in related news, if Tony Clement keeps opening his trap about being willing to let the auto sector in Ontario collapse (and it happens), you guys will be finished in Ontario for generations. It will be Ontario's NEP and your party will be radioactive. Just a friendly warning.
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Move Along. Nothing To See Here

President Obama is getting kudos for releasing the Bush torture memos (as he should). However, by his own statement, the president is basically saying, "Yes we tortured. Yes it was wrong, but I am not going to prosecute because it would divide the country (very Lincolnesque) ." He uses the CIA operatives as his shield, but who cares about the small fry anyway?
In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution. The men and women of our intelligence community serve courageously on the front lines of a dangerous world. Their accomplishments are unsung and their names unknown, but because of their sacrifices, every single American is safer. We must protect their identities as vigilantly as they protect our security, and we must provide them with the confidence that they can do their jobs.

This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong views and emotions that these issues evoke. We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America’s ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.
As I said, who cares about the small fry? What about the big fish? I want the senior officials in the Bush administration, the ones who ordered the torture, the ones who ordered these memos distributed, to face justice. Obama is saying, he can't do that because Republicans might get pissed off. Well, too bad. The law is clear. You torture you go to jail. The law doesn't say, you torture you go to jail, unless that makes you angry. If Obama walks away from this, he is a guilty as Bush and even more so because he is making a cold, calculated decision to let torturers get away with their crimes. Disgusting.
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Dream The Dream

Watch, enjoy, rejoice.
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What Race To The Bottom?

"Look, they pay workers 4 cents an hour in China. Come back when the CAW is willing to compete at that level." I wonder what bond traders make in Shanghai?
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

At Least When Obama Shreds The Constitution

He looks so damn cool doing it. And remember kids, it is better to look good than to do good. Obama is a typical Liberal. Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, when he talks about human rights, but when the rubber hits the road, he is a Bushian, pure and simple. His administration is just as anxious to keep prisoners out of American courts as the Bush Administration, but Obama has the added bonus of claiming just the opposite. Yup, he's a Liberal all right.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

He Has A Point

From the Globe:
Mohammad Asif Mohseni, a top Afghan cleric who was one of the law's main drafters, said the legislation cannot be revoked or changed because it was enacted through a legislative process — passed by both houses of parliament and signed by Mr. Karzai. He condemned the outcry, saying Western countries were trying to thwart democracy when results did not please them.

“The Westerners claim that they have brought democracy to Afghanistan. What does democracy mean? It means government by the people for the people. They should let the people use these democratic rights,” Mr. Mohseni told reporters in the capital, Kabul.
If what Mr. Mohseni says is true, it seems to me the question turns back on the west. If this the democratically expressed will of the sovereign state of Afghanistan, why are we there?

Originally, we went to hide from George Bush's wrath for skipping Iraq. The cover story became we were there to "defeat" the Taliban. The PM has told us that is not going to happen. Long before this though, the cover story changed to a human rights narrative. We were told we were there so that little girls could go to school and women could escape the repression of the Taliban. Now, that that story is inoperative, I ask again, why are we there? Myself, I won't be surprised if the answer is "We are there because, shut up!"
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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Of Sociopaths And Prime Ministers

Chris Selley says a mouthful in his April 4 piece on the bizarre case of Abousfian Abdelrazik:
What the hell is going on here? The idea that Foreign Affairs is digging in its heels simply to avoid being seen to back down implies a lack of foresight and a level of sociopathy that I’m not willing to ascribe to Cannon, or to most cabinet ministers for that matter. (emphasis mine)
Note he says "most cabinet ministers" and not "all". Since I am on record as stating that I firmly and sincerly believe our PM is a sociopath, I have nothing further to add. It is nice however, that others are beginning to point out the fucking obvious. Thanks to Dr. Dawg for the heads up.
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The Coming Storm

Dear Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Harper. Consider this a warning. If you do nothing to help the pensioners of the auto sector, you are screwed. Stories of old people fearing for their futures are starting to pop up already. Imagine the headlines if you continue to pretend like you have no responsibility for their fate, and the worst case scenario becomes a reality. If you are afraid of a backlash from your right wing base, imagine the fury of the families of these retirees. A storm is brewing gentlemen and if you don't take your fingers out of your ears and hear the thunder, you will be swept away by it.
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Don't Let The Screen Door, Etc.

Bye bye, Billy Bob.
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Rearranging The Deck Chairs

Krugman nails it, yet again:
Much of the seeming success of the financial industry has now been revealed as an illusion. (Citigroup stock has lost more than 90 percent of its value since Mr. Weill congratulated himself.) Worse yet, the collapse of the financial house of cards has wreaked havoc with the rest of the economy, with world trade and industrial output actually falling faster than they did in the Great Depression. And the catastrophe has led to calls for much more regulation of the financial industry.

But my sense is that policy makers are still thinking mainly about rearranging the boxes on the bank supervisory organization chart. They’re not at all ready to do what needs to be done — which is to make banking boring again.

Part of the problem is that boring banking would mean poorer bankers, and the financial industry still has a lot of friends in high places. But it’s also a matter of ideology: Despite everything that has happened, most people in positions of power still associate fancy finance with economic progress.

Can they be persuaded otherwise? Will we find the will to pursue serious financial reform? If not, the current crisis won’t be a one-time event; it will be the shape of things to come.
To answer Krugman's question, my sense is not if they can avoid it. The Obama administration will try, as best they can, to pretend to do something, while doing nothing. It is the Liberal way.
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Another Great Moment In Political Reporting

By the Globe and Mail. There must be a referendum on electoral reform, because the establishment press is rolling out the "democracy is boring" and "the establishment parties (who by the way, are doing such a great job) are opposed to the whole idea of reform" pieces. It is content free reporting at its best. You get the sense that the reporter would rather eat poison than actually try to understand and convey to her readers the system under discussion and why people might be calling for change. Nope, it is all just too hard to understand and by God she is not going to do it. Yup, I have seen this all before, in Ontario, two years ago.
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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

10 Reasons I Am Voting Conservative In The Next Election

10. Because I am a man who happens to think it is my business what a woman does with her body.

9. Because I think every industry should be run like Wall Street.

8. Because I think Indians (you heard me) live too high off the hog.

7. Because I think 1 Million B.C. was an accurate view of history (except the title is wrong because everyone knows the earth is only 6,000 years old).

6. Because I believe that greenhouse gas is what they use to heat greenhouses.

5. Because I believe that last fall was a good time to buy stocks.

4. Because Glenn Beck is my hero and Don Cherry is Canada's greatest political thinker.

3. Because I believe in free speech for everyone, unless they criticize the Likud Party.

2. Because I believe that the Prime Minister's Office has the right to decide which Canadians get to live in Canada.

1. Because I believe that guns don't kill people, immigrants do.

Thanks to Hell Upside Down, for the inspiration.
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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Attention RIM Marketing Department

You can't get better press than this. The last paragraph is worth millions.
The failure to appreciate the iPhone was all mine. But I decided not to dwell on that. “I thought you might be back,” the AT&T saleswoman said as I walked in the door. “So?” I said. “You were right.” With some satisfaction, she took the iPhone, and I walked away with a new BlackBerry and money to spare.

Update: Be sure to read the comments for the the outraged retorts from IPhone lovers. Here is a picture of the author. At least two people have commented that IPhones aren't for "old people". Hilarious.
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Muslim? Of A Darker "Hue"? Stranded Outside The Country? Good Luck

What is Canada's policy regarding Canadians stranded overseas? Who knows? As with so many other things, the economy for example, the Harperites are making it up as they go along. If you are a white woman stranded in a Mexican jail, we move heaven and earth to help. If you are a black Muslim, charged with no crime, but stranded in Sudan we move heaven and earth to keep you out -- even to the point of acting extra-constitutionally. The question posed at the beginning of this post is a trick. There is no policy in Canada anymore, only acted upon whims of the ideologues and spin doctors of the PMO.

Canada has been taken over by thugs and outlaws --men who believe that law is bendable, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is merely a list of suggestions. We must do everything legally possible to toss these bastards onto the garbage heap of history, along with their lawless buddies, the "assassin king", Dick Cheney and his little pal George Bush.

Update: Tom Flanagan, as always, suggests a alternative, yet plausible reason for our government's insane improvisation. From his February 2, Globe and Mail column.
Mr. Harper's first priority should be to reconnect with the Conservative base - the donors and volunteers who keep the party alive. These people may understand the political necessity of his budget, but it won't make them like deficit-spending. Volunteers and donors have to be motivated by more than realpolitik.

Mr. Harper needs to show them that he's still a conservative by pushing some non-budgetary initiatives in the House of Commons. He could start, for example, with the criminal-justice measures from the party's platform in the 2008 election. Why not make these a matter of confidence and run them straight at the Liberals? Will Mr. Ignatieff force an election on behalf of criminals? I don't think so.
Is this another case of Harper trying to get his conservative groove back, on the cheap?
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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Can You Say "No Win Situation"?

The Afghan government can back down and thereby cement in the minds of its people, the idea that the "foreign crusaders" are running their country; or the western governments can back down and cement in the minds of their people that their children are dying over there for something other than promoting human rights. Neither side can afford to have those ideas become common currency. The only winner here is the Taliban.
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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Why I Like Paul Krugman Reason 1

Because he saw what was coming four years ago.
So should we all feel confident about the economic future, assuming that Mr. Bernanke is confirmed? Alas, no.

This isn't a comment on Mr. Bernanke's qualifications, although there is one talent, important in a Fed chairman, that Mr. Bernanke has yet to demonstrate (though he may have it). Mr. Greenspan, for all his flaws, has repeatedly shown his ability to divine from fragmentary and sometimes contradictory data which way the economic wind is blowing. As an academic, Mr. Bernanke never had the occasion to make that kind of judgment. We'll just have to see whether he can develop an economic weather sense on the job.

No, my main concern is that the economy may well face a day of reckoning soon after Mr. Bernanke takes office. And while he is surely the best politically possible man for the job (all the other candidates I would have been happy with are independents or Democrats), coping with that day of reckoning without some nasty shocks may be beyond anyone's talents.

The fact is that the U.S. economy's growth over the past few years has depended on two unsustainable trends: a huge surge in house prices and a vast inflow of funds from Asia. Sooner or later, both trends will end, possibly abruptly.

It's true that Mr. Bernanke has given speeches suggesting both that a "global savings glut" will continue to provide the United States with lots of capital inflows, and that housing prices don't reflect a bubble. Well, soothing words are expected from a Fed chairman. He must know that he may be wrong. (October 28, 2005)
If only Jim Flaherty had bothered to read Krugman he wouldn't say stupid things like "no one knew".
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No Wonder People Are Against Bailouts

When the government involved privatizes profit and socializes risk, the taxpayers are always the loser. So it should come as no surprise that popular opinion is against bailouts of any kind. The problem isn't in the bailout, but in the government's attitude toward the private sector. Joseph Stiglitz explains how the bank bailout in the U.S. is set up:
In theory, the administration’s plan is based on letting the market determine the prices of the banks’ “toxic assets” — including outstanding house loans and securities based on those loans. The reality, though, is that the market will not be pricing the toxic assets themselves, but options on those assets.

The two have little to do with each other. The government plan in effect involves insuring almost all losses. Since the private investors are spared most losses, then they primarily “value” their potential gains. This is exactly the same as being given an option.

Consider an asset that has a 50-50 chance of being worth either zero or $200 in a year’s time. The average “value” of the asset is $100. Ignoring interest, this is what the asset would sell for in a competitive market. It is what the asset is “worth.” Under the plan by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the government would provide about 92 percent of the money to buy the asset but would stand to receive only 50 percent of any gains, and would absorb almost all of the losses. Some partnership!

Assume that one of the public-private partnerships the Treasury has promised to create is willing to pay $150 for the asset. That’s 50 percent more than its true value, and the bank is more than happy to sell. So the private partner puts up $12, and the government supplies the rest — $12 in “equity” plus $126 in the form of a guaranteed loan.

If, in a year’s time, it turns out that the true value of the asset is zero, the private partner loses the $12, and the government loses $138. If the true value is $200, the government and the private partner split the $74 that’s left over after paying back the $126 loan. In that rosy scenario, the private partner more than triples his $12 investment. But the taxpayer, having risked $138, gains a mere $37.
In effect the Obama administration is forcing the American taxpayer to take on the majority of the risk, on behalf of the crooks who put the world's economy into the dumper. To me, it is completely rational for the American people to be sickened by this "remedy". This is change we can believe in? Don't make me laugh. It is the same old crony capitalism peddled by a much better sideshow barker.
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George Galloway Speaks

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Canada, The 51st State

The following is a very odd exchange between Michael Ignatieff and Tony Clement, from Question Period yesterday:
Mr. Michael Ignatieff (Leader of the Opposition, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I make a habit of saying the same thing right across the country and the hon. member knows that.

Canadians are not buying cars and I did not get an answer to the question about protecting warranties for Canadian cars. I did not get an answer to the question about access to the credit facility, promised in December, not to be delivered in May. Why?

When will the government start doing its job, which is to protect Canadian taxpayers and Canadian auto-workers?

Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Industry, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, what I did say yesterday was that when we get some details of what the Obama administration has planned for warranties, we are willing to look at that. We are extending credit through the secure credit facility. That will help auto parts makers.

Indeed, as I have said before, we have made loans available. GM has not asked for those loans. There are strict conditions attached to those loans and we will continue to apply those conditions.

When the hon. member stands up and says he is being consistent, I would like to ask the hon. member how consistent he is on the carbon tax, which he pushed on the previous leader of the Liberal Party and now tries to distance himself-- (emphasis mine)
It sure sounds to me like Tony is waiting for word from head office. The position of this government appears to be "We have no position but the position of the U.S. government". For the life of me, I can't understand why more Canadians aren't shocked by this. We don't have an independent government anymore, just a conduit for U.S. policy, even when, as with the auto pension issue, the conditions here are vastly different from those in the U.S. Pathetic.
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Ready, Aye Ready

Thomas Walkom in today's Star gets it right:
What's intriguing about Obama's effective nationalization of GM and Chrysler is that he hasn't bothered with the nuisance of demanding equity shares that might allow the public to benefit from any gains. He simply argues that if the companies want U.S. government money, they will have to do what the U.S. government wants

What's intriguing about Canada's role is that, save for their 20-per-cent-of-production demand, our governments haven't even done that. They are not, for instance, requiring job guarantees. Nor are they demanding that manufacturers build so-called cars of the future in Canadian plants.

In effect, Ottawa and Queen's Park are telling the car companies this: If you want Canadian taxpayer money, you'll have to do what the U.S. government wants.
The Harperites and their little friends at Queen's Park, have given up our sovereignty without getting anything in return. Way to stand up for Canadians, boys.
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