Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mr Ford's Movie List

I am with Peter Howell. If Rob Ford meant this when he talked about the "Gravy Train", I would be right beside him. Sadly, when Mr. Ford says "gravy train" he means people who make union wages. Like all dangerous class warriors, Ford disguises himself as a friend of the "working man", while safeguarding the real elites in a fog of faux populism.
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Crazy Options

Reading the NY Times roundup of reviews of Obama's appearance on Jon Stewart's show the other night, I came upon this paragraph by Robert Stein. It deftly illustrates where apologists for Obama are coming from:
“This encounter was a sour reminder of how far those who were high on Obama’s coming have crashed and burned,” added Robert Stein at Connecting the Dots. “Days before election, to persuade supporters to get out and vote against the likes of Rand Paul, Christine McConnell and Linda McMahon, he has to explain why he turned to Larry Summers for economic advice. Would they have preferred John McCain and Joe the Plumber?”
I have to give Stein some credit, while he does mention Joe the Plumber, he doesn't mention even crazier alternatives Obama could have turned to -- crazy nutters like Joe Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, for example.
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Weird Or What?

Is it just me, or is Brad Wall's sudden conversion to economic nationalism totally bizarre? After all, it was Wall's political godfather, Grant Devine, who sold off the province's birthright in the first place. To suddenly claim that the resource once again belongs to the people of Saskatchewan, is kind of like rediscovering your virginity after years of whoring. It sounds good inside your own head and may even allow you to sleep at night, but it makes everyone around you snicker about you behind your back.
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Comments Encouraged

I always wondered where Conservative trolls got their money:
MacDougall added that this year's budget has committed the government to freezing expenses in ministers' offices.

He explained that the rise in PMO expenses is the result of two things: A larger communications staff to help the prime minister and his ministers communicate with Canadians; and, to a lesser extent, increased travel by Harper throughout Canada as he informed the public of the government's actions to fight the recession.

"Communicating is always important. But it's even more so when Canadians are worried about their economy and what their government is doing to address it. So it's important to return every phone call and have the prime minister out there communicating."

MacDougall said a larger communication staff is needed because "news is happening all the time now, there's more media formats and more outlets." (Emphasis mine).
It takes a lot of manpower to fill up the comment sections of our major newspapers' web sites with pro-government posts.
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The Stab In The Back

Well, you just knew this was coming. The Harperites are denying they made any deal with Omar Khadr to repatriate him. The shit will hit the fan, now (though I doubt we will hear much from the opposition, as I expect them to run for cover). More to come. Count on it.
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The term "elites" is being thrown around a lot by conservatives these days, but they never define what they mean. This is of course, on purpose, because it invites angry people to fill in the blank. The clerk at the bank who wouldn't break a twenty for me, because I didn't have my bank card on me. She is a member of the goddamn elite. The park ranger who told me I couldn't start a fire in a national park, even though I had the wood and everything. He was an elitist too. See, it's perfect. Anyone who doesn't do what I want them to and is a low level functionary for a big institution, is a member of the elite. That is who we should hate, according to conservatives. PM's and CEO's of banks are just too far removed from our daily experience to truly hate. It is like hating the moon. None of us will ever get there, just as none of us will ever meet a PM or a bank CEO. It is better for us to take out our frustration about the decisions these great people make, on the backs of clerks and park rangers. It gives our hatred something solid and within our reach. It is also completely bogus and therefore impotent, but never mind. Conservatives love impotent rage.

As a public service to the confused out there, I want to give you a simple definition of elite. A true member of the elite is a phone call away from getting face time with the king (or in our case, the PM) and/or he or she will always have his or her phone call returned by the king/PM personally. You're welcome and please leave the bank clerks and forest rangers alone. They are just folks like you, trying to make a living in a tough world.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It Makes Me Want To Puke

First, two U.S. presidents and Canadian prime ministers ignored their international legal obligations under the UN Conventions On The Rights Of The Child and locked up a kid, without trial for eight years. Then, they forced the kid to choose between life in prison in the U.S. or self-denunciation with repatriation (eventually, maybe). Having taken the only logical course, the U.S. government then entered all kinds of suspect testimony into the record, duly and uncritically reported by the corporate press (and the state owned CBC). Next, the kid, who should have been home 8 years ago had to sit in court and listen to a government psychiatrist testify that the kid is dangerous because he spent eight years in Gitmo (as if he had a choice). Finally, even as Khadr was being railroaded, the current sick fuck to occupy the White House, was signing exemptions so that his allies can press more kids into the meat grinder (h/t to pogge), again contrary to both U.S. and international law. All in all, a disgusting display of hypocrisy and an arrogant display of victor's justice. Now excuse me while I go have a shower.

Correction: I don't want to forget Jean Chretien's contribution to this mess, so that makes three PM's who failed to live up to international treaty obligations.

Update: Andrew Sullivan (an American no less) is the only journalist with the balls to call bullshit. Why are Canadian pundits hiding under their desks?

Updater: Behold an example of a Canadian pundit who also calls bullshit.

Updaterer: And Jesus, George Jonas too.  I am beginning to see a pattern here. 

Updatererer: Bejing York points to this really interesting interview with David Lindorff.
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Understatement Of The Day

Marcus Gee on Rob Ford's shelf life:
Marcus Gee:
I think the O'Brien story is instructive. Mr. Ford has promised to make sweeping spending cuts and tax cuts AND no cuts in services. When he falls short, people will be disappointed.
When you promise to give everyone money for nothing and services for free and then don't deliver, you might have a short career in the big chair.
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I live in the world's most intelligent city (2007) and it's citizen just voted to stop putting fluoride in the water. We don't need no education. We just need the name of a cheap dentist.
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The Garbage Man Can

A lot of the euphoria on the right this morning, reminds a lot of the post-election euphoria in the Simpson's episode, entitled "Trash of the Titans". Homer ran for Trash Commissioner on the promise of more service for less money. Hilarity ensued. Sadly, the outcome in Toronto will be a lot less funny.
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Sure Chris

Chris Selley is chuffed about Ford's election in Toronto and breezily dismisses concerns about working conditions for employees of the city:
Opening up garbage collection to competitive bidding will be another interesting debate. This is not an “anti-union” measure. The replacement workers — if they were indeed replacements; CUPE could easily win the contract — would themselves almost certainly be unionized. But it would be a quick declaration that things are not as they were, that we’ve simply passed the point in history where something like trash pickup needs to be the exclusive domain of the public employee.
Quite true, CUPE could win the contract, as long as it was willing to take non-union wages and benefits. Chris isn't worried by the race to the bottom, and I suspect most of Ford's supporters don't, but in the end, by adopting this attitude, they are simply cutting their own throats. Screwing public sector workers, is the new opiate of the masses.
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Push Grandma Under The Bus

The Liberals and Conservatives are after Medicare again. Jesus, their response to any challenge in health care is always "privatization". Ever think about taxation to support a basic right of Canadian citizenship? Hell no, that would require a spine and a political options kit that contains more than "Help the rich get richer".
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The Lede Says It All

From the Los Angeles Times:
The Obama administration will be spared putting Canadian terrorism suspect Omar Ahmed Khadr, a Guantanamo Bay prisoner, on trial in relation to a firefight in Afghanistan when he was 15 and apprenticed to militant fighters.
That is what has always been about, sparing Obama from the embarrassment of prosecuting a child soldier, counter to international law. How nice for Obama and his merry band of torturers that that is no longer necessary. How nice for the Harperites who can now spread their usual brand of bullshit for the consumption of their eager, hungry base. How sad for Canadians, Americans and anyone interested in justice that we are lumbered with such sorry "leaders".
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Obama's Railroad

Some call it justice. We call them assholes. Rip up the United Nations Conventions On The Rights Of The Child. Maybe they need toilet paper on Air Force One.
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Election Coming

Before the end of next year. How do I know? I know because of this paragraph, written in the Post, about the deal the Harperites are negotiating over Omar Khadr:C
Canadian agreement is necessary if the plea deal is to deliver on a proposal that, sources have told Postmedia News, would see Khadr transferred to Canada after spending the first year of an eight-year sentence in U.S. custody. (Emphasis mine)
The Harperites want Khadr out of the country during the next election. They have a year to make it happen.
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Friday, October 22, 2010

Pant On Fire Alert

Stephen Harper on talks with the Taliban:
Canada and its allies “have always supported attempts at reconciliation,” Mr. Harper told reporters during a press conference here with Swiss President Doris Leuthard.
Always eh? I am sure "Taliban Jack" Layton would beg to disagree.
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Lessons To Be Learned

Chantal Hebert makes some interesting points in her column today about the lessons of the Calgary municipal election for the federal parties. By and large I agree with her, but she leaves unspoken the reality our parties have yet to face. We are multicultural, multi-religious country, led by old, white, Christians. We live in an urban country, but our politics are seized by rural issues (Long guns? Seriously?) , unless it means putting the relatives of our newest urban citizens in detention. In short, our politics caters to a Canada that is an anachronism and urban voters do not see themselves reflected in the priorities of our politicians (or indeed in the politicians themselves). Until and unless the parties begin to understand that Canada is not hockey, long guns and maple syrup festivals, but a complex urban society with real potential and problems, voter apathy will continue.
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Road We Are Travelling

Dahlia Lithwick is writing about he contretemps between Ginni Thomas (wife of Justice Clarence Thomas) and Anita Hill. Close to the end of the article (which is worth a read) Ms. Lithwick writes:
But the depressive in me suspects that Ginni Thomas simply doesn't care what any of us think of her attempt to reach out and touch someone she hates. Why would she? She and her husband long ago passed a point at which they worry about how they will be portrayed in the mainstream press. They stopped reading it years ago. They both live in a world in which the facts of Hill v. Thomas don't matter. There are no facts. There are just "our" beliefs and "their" beliefs, just as there is "our" media and "theirs" and "our" Civil War history and "theirs." To criticize either Thomas has always been to join in the imagined conspiracy against them.
The American conservative movement have taken a very dark road. This is the road Canadian conservatives have decided to take too. They have taken postmodernism and have made it their own. There are no objective truths, there are only beliefs. Anything that contradicts the beliefs propagated by the Conservative Party, are obviously the work of either the devil or the Liberal Party. Facts be damned (or in our case statistical analysis be damned). The road we are on is leading us back to a time when faith was paramount and everyone accepted the word of the priest as the word of God. Welcome everyone, to the new Middle Ages.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Anyone Give A Shit

About Afghan detainees anymore? Anyone? Anyone at all?

Wednesday morning update: Pogge points to a depressing article that came out late yesterday afternoon. The Liberals and the Bloc are looking less like dupes and more like co-conspirators, every day.
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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wanker Of The Day

Kelly McParland. Shorter Kelly McParland: Who cares if Khadr was tortured and held illegally for a third of his life. If he confesses in the hope that he might be repatriated, he must be guilty.
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Revolution Wanted

Seriously, if I was an American, I wouldn't rest until every one of these motherfuckers was in jail for life. A real revolution is needed down there and not that clown show known as the Tea Party. It may come as early as January, when the poor folks putting their faith in that movement discover they have been sold another worthless piece of junk.
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Today In WTF Moments

The Globe and Mail editorial board calls for the end of the secret ballot. What's next, universal suffrage, an idea whose time has come and gone?
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rehearsing His Election Night Speech?

Mr. Harper talking to reporters today about the lost U.N. Security Council election:
"As I've said before, our engagement internationally is based on the principles that this country holds dear," Harper said. "It is not based on popularity."

He added the government's decisions are based on shared Canadian values — freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, justice, development, and humanitarian assistance for those who need it.

"Those are the things we're pursuing, and that does not change regardless of what the outcome of a secret votes is," he said.
I suspect, if the Harperites lose the next general election, you will hear a variant of this speech by the dear leader. Stupid secret ballots.
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Thursday Morning Bitching

Note to the Harper government and the little bitches at the National Post. Suck it up, buttercup. This is the world we live in. Yes, there are people in the world who are trying to further the interests of their nations, through the United Nations. And yes, you may not like them nor share their interests. But, so what? They may not be all that thrilled with us or ours, either. That is what we call international politics. You put your feelings aside in order to advance your country's interests. If it is too much for you, to handle. If you can't do what is necessary to advance the interests of this country and "horse trade" (for God's sake, that is the essence of politics), then you should take up gardening. You have no business running Canada.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

They Didn't Get In

So the "corruption smear" resurrects. Hey, it's how this government rolls.
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Stephen Harper, Negotiator

Stephen Harper brought the negotiating skills he has honed developing such well thought out policies like changing the national anthem and scrapping the long form census, to the world of international relations. Hilarity ensued. How could the United Nations delegates fail to be impressed by such a genius of foreign policy?
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Deconstructing Talking Points

The two main talking points yesterday were:
"We will not back down from our principles that form the basis of our great country, and we will continue to pursue them on the international stage," Cannon said. "Some would even say that, because of our attachment to those values, we lost a seat on the council. If that's the case, then so be it."
"In my view, (Ignatieff's statements) were used as an issue to prevent Canada from succeeding to the Security Council."
So, to recap, Canada lost because Germany and Portugal prostituted their ideals to get seats and because Michael Ignatieff has more credibility on the international stage than the government of Canada.
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Canada's Back!

Oh, wait. Let the hunt for a scapegoat begin! Oh, wait.

Update: Is it just me, or is the Conservative mood surrounding this withdrawal eerily similar to the bizarre Alberta bus convoy of 2004?
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But, The Question Is...

Why are the Conservatives perceived as economically conservative and socially liberal, when in reality they spend like drunken frat boys and check in with Charles McVety on all social issues? Could it be because the MSM constantly repeats the myth?
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John Doyle Is A Brave Man

I agree with him completely. I haven't watched much hockey in years. In the old days, it was all about the game. Now it is about some Conservative Party vision of nationalism, where white men rule and everyone of importance comes from rural Canada and wears a uniform. Anyone who does not belong to these groups can either cheer them on, or just shut the fuck up. It's Canada after all. We have a choice.
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

How Contracts Are Awarded In Harperland

According to the PMO. First, contractors give money to the Conservative Party. Next, they get government contracts, not because they gave money to the party and not because anyone from the government knew they were donors, but by a magical process involving Gnomes who live under the Langevin Block.
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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Question Time

It is time for the Conservatives and their supporters to answer three questions definitively, about coalitions and the Bloc Quebecois. 1. Are coalitions legitimate in a Westminster democracy, yes or no? 2. Do Quebecers have the right to choose whomever they want in an election? Yes or No? 3. If yes, do those representatives have the same rights as any other MP to vote, and form alliances with other parties? If no, then how does the Conservative Party intend to block Quebec voters from choosing members the Party considers illegitimate? These are simple questions and Canadians and Quebecers have a right to know the answers to them before the next election.
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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I Wonder Who Made That One Complaint?

"Tony Clement said he would not speak for the former minister, but added the public policy is justified if there is just one complaint."

Thursday Update: Rosie Barton has posted the actual exchange here. Read it yourself and see if Stephen Harper's face doesn't pop into your head. :
Clement: "I can't quantify. Even if there's one complaint, if it's a legitimate complaint, even if there's one complaint from a Canadian about the coercive tactics used by a government agency we have to consider that complaint a valid question about public policy."

Barton: "Sure, but we don't change public policy for one person do we?"

Clement: "Why not? If they're right."

Barton: "We change public policy for one person?"

Clement: "If they're right."
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Woe Is Us

All you have to do is watch Evan and Reshmi going through their "Watchdogs" shtick to know that Paddy Chayefsky was a Goddamned prophet.
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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Today In WTF Moments

Petey the Potato banned a prominent Muslim from a government sponsored event, at the command of Charles McVety. So, let's recap. In the last few months, this government has scrapped evidence-based decision making, perverted the idea of ministerial responsibility,attempted to gut gun control and instituted trial by letters from loonies. Is there any doubt remaining that Stephen Harper has remade the Conservative brand in the Republican image?
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Friday, October 01, 2010

Conservative Class Warfare

Responsibility, according to Dimitri Soudas, means Ministers answer questions from Parliament (when they feel like it) while their employees pay with their jobs. I like to call that "Wall Street" responsibility.
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