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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The golden age 

This Newsweek article about evangelical debaters - Cut, Thrust and Christ - made me think about the overall goals of the religious right.
When you look back over the last hundred years or so, the 20th Century, you see the larger picture, I think -- basically, how the rise of the progressive left in the western democracies helped both individuals and society make a lot of social and economic progress.
Progressives supported unions, to end sweatshops and help working people get paid what their labour was worth. And medicare and access to education and workplace safety regulations and old age pensions, to make people's lives safer, more secure and to protect people against economic catastrophe. With these advances also came so-called "liberal" courts which brought us things like the privacy rights, birth control, abortion rights, affirmative action, and equal rights, which ended anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and discrimination of all kinds.
These left-wing advances were not just theoretical constructs. People today may not remember, but men and women died fighting for these 'liberal' ideas -- union organizers were killed in the early 20th century; civil rights workers in the South were beaten and hung. And millions of people have benefited directly and personally from these changes -- they were paid decent wages for their work, they could save money and buy their own homes, their working conditions were made safer, their children got educated in decent schools, they got health care when they were sick, they had enough money to live on when they got old, and they had the right to pursue happiness without being held back by discrimination.
Now the right seems to think it is their turn -- the pendulum has swung their way, they think.
The problem I have is that I cannot discern what the right wing wants to do with all their new-found power, except to somehow turn back the clock and dismantle everything the liberals created.
This Newsweek article about how right-wingers are training their young to rule the world gives us some insight into right-wing goals:
. . . the religious right figure that if they can raise a generation that knows how to argue, they can stem the tide of sin in the country. Seventy-five percent of Liberty's debaters go on to be lawyers with an eye toward transforming society. "I think I can make an impact in the field of law on abortion and gay rights, to get back to Americans' godly heritage," says freshman debater Cole Bender.
Godly heritage? What is that, and how does it help a working person qualify for a mortgage? Well, its a mythical golden age, back to when America was founded, when men were men and women were women and "God's in his Heaven. All's right with the world."
So what would a society based on a "godly heritage" look like? Well, forget about using the Constitution to protect anybody's rights, forget about government entitlement programs, forget about those burdensome government regulations (except to outlaw abortion). Such a society starts to look like this one or this one.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

I am liberal, hear me roar . . . 

After the disappointment of seeing the Alito cloture vote approved, I was thinking how downhearted the progressive blogosphere would be tonight.
But they're not, not at all.
They're reciting Shakespeare, and channeling Churchill, and praising Kerry, and quoting Robert Kennedy.
Reminds me of a song:
I am liberal, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again

You can bend but never break me
'cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
'cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul

I am liberal, watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin' arms across the land
But I'm still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make conservatives understand

Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am liberal
With apologies to Helen Reddy.

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Doesn't CBC News use Google? 

In Comments, pale (aka fuddleduck) notes this CBC News article - a poorly-researched story about American Free Congress Foundation founder Paul Weyrich and his latest love song to what he sees as a sneakily clever Stephen Harper strategy.
With friends like these , etc etc.
Anyway, this Weyrich fellow -- who is described in the article only as a "U.S. right-wing strategist" rather than the fascist wing-nut he actually is -- calls same sex marriage and abortion "cultural Marxism". The CBC naively goes on to say "He does not say how these things are linked in his mind to Marxism."
Why doesn't CBC know how to google? Just google "cultural marxism" and you get this page which takes you to this Southern Poverty Law Centre website on their Intelligence Project which gives a detailed and very scary description of a well-established, vile, anti-Semitic, fascist philosophy -- its far beyond just a crazy idea in Weyrich's mind:
"Cultural Marxism," described as a conspiratorial attempt to wreck American culture and morality, is the newest intellectual bugaboo on the radical right. Surprisingly, there are signs that this bizarre theory is catching on in the mainstream.
The phrase refers to a kind of "political correctness" on steroids -- a covert assault on the American way of life that allegedly has been developed by the left over the course of the last 70 years. Those who are pushing the "cultural Marxism" scenario aren't merely poking fun at the PC excesses of the "People's Republic of Berkeley," or the couple of American cities whose leaders renamed manholes "person-holes" in a bid to root out sexist thought.
Right-wing ideologues, racists and other extremists have jazzed up political correctness and repackaged it -- in its most virulent form, as an anti-Semitic theory that identifies Jews in general and several Jewish intellectuals in particular as nefarious, communistic destroyers. These supposed originators of "cultural Marxism" are seen as conspiratorial plotters intent on making Americans feel guilty and thus subverting their Christian culture.
In a nutshell, the theory posits that a tiny group of Jewish philosophers who fled Germany in the 1930s and set up shop at Columbia University in New York City devised an unorthodox form of "Marxism" that took aim at American society's culture, rather than its economic system.
The theory holds that these self-interested Jews -- the so-called "Frankfurt School" of philosophers -- planned to try to convince mainstream Americans that white ethnic pride is bad, that sexual liberation is good, and that supposedly traditional American values -- Christianity, "family values," and so on -- are reactionary and bigoted. With their core values thus subverted, the theory goes, Americans would be quick to sign on to the ideas of the far left.
The very term, "cultural Marxism," is clearly intended to conjure up xenophobic anxieties. But can a theory like this, built on the words of long-dead intellectuals who have little discernible relevance to normal Americans' lives, really fly? As bizarre as it might sound, there is some evidence that it may. Certainly, those who are pushing the theory seem to believe that it is an important one.
"Political correctness looms over American society like a colossus," William Lind, a principal of far-right political strategist Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation . . . and a key popularizer of the idea of cultural Marxism, warned in a 1998 speech. "It has taken over both political parties and is enforced by many laws and government regulations. It almost totally controls the most powerful element in our culture, the entertainment industry. It dominates both public and higher education. ... It has even captured the clergy in many Christian churches."
The idea of political correctness -- the predecessor of the more highly charged concept of cultural Marxism -- was popularized by the mass media in the early 1990s, highlighted by a 1991 speech by the first President Bush in which he warned that "free speech [is] under assault throughout the United States." By the end of 1992, feature stories on the phenomenon had appeared in Newsweek, New York magazine, The New Republic, Atlantic Monthly and the New York Review of Books.
The Wall Street Journal. . . said it posed a "far worse ... threat to intellectual freedom" than McCarthyism. In the pages of The Washington Times . . . Heritage Foundation scholar Laurence Jarvik wrote angrily that "storm troopers" were attacking "Western culture."
Of course, the phrase was basically a politically charged construct that was used to mock the left and even liberals. Challenges to gender bias, efforts to diversify the nation's universities, and similar policies were dismissed as attempts to turn the universities into "gulags" under the thumbs of left-wing thought police. The term was used to attack ideas while avoiding any discussion of their merits.
And it is the promoter of this theory -- Paul Weyrich -- who is now enamoured of Stephen Harper and the Canadian conservatives.
He was the one who emailed American conservatives just before our election to tell them not to speak to Canadian reporters for fear they would say something nutty and thereby jeporadize Harper's election chances. Now he has written a laudatory article about Harper's victory -- the CBC said his story was on the Free Congress Foundation website but they provided no link and I couldn't find it. Anyway, CBC quotes him as writing this about Harper:

"Harper is pleased that the media and many in his own party are nay-saying," he writes. "Harper thinks that such pessimism would lower expectations and give him additional latitude to accomplish his agenda.
"Harper's game plan apparently is to pit the federalist Liberals against the Bloc Québécois and the decentralizing Bloc against big-government Liberals.
"Canadian media understands that Stephen Harper greatly would expand defence spending. He does not like the Kyoto Treaty . . . More importantly, Harper favours participating in the United States missile defence program . . .
"It is not widely known in this country that a Canadian prime minister has more power than a United States president. Harper could appoint 5,000 new officials. (No confirmation is required by the Canadian Parliament.) The prime minister also could appoint every judge from the trial courts, to the courts of appeal to the Canadian Supreme Court, as vacancies occur.
"Harper's partisans believe he could maintain power for four years, during which time Conservatives hopefully would witness many vacancies created by Liberals leaving the courts. The Supreme Court of Canada currently is dominated by Liberals.
"As has been the case in the United States, cultural Marxism largely has been foisted upon Canada by the courts. If judges who respect the Constitution were to be appointed they would confirm that such rights are not to be found in that document. Sound familiar?"
Why, yes, as a matter of fact, it does. But it sounded better in the original German.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Voting against Alito 

One more reference to recent American news -- I think the Alito filibuster is another battle where the only choice is to decide which side to be on.
The side to be on in this battle is the filibuster side, whether it wins or loses.
America will hate Samuel Alito as a Supreme Court justice -- he is a toady and a syncopant, as well as a right-wing pro-lifer. Americans will remember who tried to put him on the court and who tried to stop it.

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Using the L-word 

The L-word is 'Liar'.
The New York Times is pissed - and rightfully so. Here are some excerpts from their Sunday editorial - Spies, Lies and Wiretaps - emphasis mine:
A bit over a week ago, President Bush and his men promised to provide the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the sort of warrantless spying on Americans that has been illegal for nearly 30 years. Instead, we got the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation, contemptuous dismissals of civil liberties concerns, cynical attempts to paint dissents as anti-American and pro-terrorist, and a couple of big, dangerous lies.
The first was that the domestic spying program is carefully aimed only at people who are actively working with Al Qaeda, when actually it has violated the rights of countless innocent Americans. And the second was that the Bush team could have prevented the 9/11 attacks if only they had thought of eavesdropping without a warrant. [To say that] Sept. 11 could have been prevented . . . is breathtakingly cynical. The nation's guardians did not miss the 9/11 plot because it takes a few hours to get a warrant to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mail messages. They missed the plot because they were not looking . . . nothing prevented American intelligence from listening to a call from Al Qaeda to the United States, or a call from the United States to Al Qaeda, before Sept. 11, 2001, or since. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act simply required the government to obey the Constitution in doing so . . .
And the editorial continues on to demolish every Republican talking point which has been trotted out over the last month by servile Senators and ignorant talking heads:
. . . The biggest fish the administration has claimed so far has been a crackpot who wanted to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch — a case that F.B.I. officials said was not connected to the spying operation anyway . . .
The secret program violates the law as currently written. It's that simple . . . Mr. Bush made himself the judge of the proper balance between national security and Americans' rights, between the law and presidential power. He wants Americans to accept, on faith, that he is doing it right. But even if the United States had a government based on the good character of elected officials rather than law, Mr. Bush would not have earned that kind of trust.
The domestic spying program is part of a well-established pattern: when Mr. Bush doesn't like the rules, he just changes them, as he has done for the detention and treatment of prisoners and has threatened to do in other areas, like the confirmation of his judicial nominees. He has consistently shown a lack of regard for privacy, civil liberties and judicial due process in claiming his sweeping powers. The founders of our country created the system of checks and balances to avert just this sort of imperial arrogance . . .
Mr. Bush says Congress gave him the authority to do anything he wanted when it authorized the invasion of Afghanistan. There is simply nothing in the record to support this ridiculous argument. The administration also says that the vote was the start of a war against terrorism and that the spying operation is what Mr. Cheney calls a "wartime measure." That just doesn't hold up . . .
Mr. Gonzales, who had the incredible bad taste to begin his defense of the spying operation by talking of those who plunged to their deaths from the flaming twin towers, claimed historic precedent for a president to authorize warrantless surveillance. He mentioned George Washington, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. These precedents have no bearing on the current situation, and Mr. Gonzales's timeline conveniently ended with F.D.R., rather than including Richard Nixon, whose surveillance of antiwar groups and other political opponents inspired FISA in the first place. Like Mr. Nixon, Mr. Bush is waging an unpopular war, and his administration has abused its powers against antiwar groups and even those that are just anti-Republican.
The editorial ends with as stern a statement as I have ever read in an American newspaper:
. . . Congress has failed, tragically, on several occasions in the last five years to rein in Mr. Bush and restore the checks and balances that are the genius of American constitutional democracy. It is critical that it not betray the public once again on this score.

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If you've got the money, honey, I've got the time 

So Jack Layton is declaring a honeymoon with the Conservatives:
"I am going to make a legitimate, determined effort to find things where there can be common action," [Layton]said in an interview with The Canadian Press. "I believe there are ideas in all of our platforms for the parties to get something done."
. . . with the reality of a Conservative minority government on Feb. 6, and with no appetite among Canadians for another election soon, pragmatism is setting in . . .
Another source of pragmatism, I would think, is that nobody has any money left now to fight another election right away.
But come next fall, how tempting will it be for the NDP, the Conservatives and the Bloc to think about a snap election before the Liberals can get their act together again . . .

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Great line of the day 

Cheryl at The Galloping Beaver quotes Judith Hayes: "If we are going to teach creation science as an alternative to evolution, then we should also teach the stork theory as an alternative to biological reproduction."
And wouldn't millions of teenagers just love to think that sex wasn't connected to pregnancy.

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Who's on first? 


In Comments, tcarson suggests I should try an Open Thread to find out what is on everyone's mind right now.
So here it is -- my very first Open Thread! Oh, isn't it just so thrilling? So who's gonna be on first?

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Iraq deja vu 

Well, let's check in on the war news why don't we -- we haven't done that in such a long time.
But I find that just about all the "news" is strangely familiar.
The grandiosity of the US department of defense continues to be revealed -- today, the news is that the Pentagon thinks it will need to "fight the net" someday and wants the ability to knock out every telephone, networked computer, and radar system on the planet.
In Iraq, the war crimes of the US Army continue to be revealed -- today, the news is that they took women as hostages to try to force their husbands to surrender.
The incompetence of the US administration continues to harm the Iraqi people -- today, the news is that close to 200 water, sanitation and electrical reconstruction projects in Iraq won't be completed -- as well as harming American taxpayers -- today, a US audit announced a "spectacular" waste of funds in Iraq.
Oh, and although five out of ten Americans now believe the Bush administration deliberately misled the American public about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, almost six out of ten Americans would support military action in Iran if Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.
Because after all, they sure wouldn't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
Hey, seems to me I've heard that somewhere before...
Oh, here's one piece of actual new news -- King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is making his first official trip outside the Middle East since being crowned last year. And where he is going? To China, India, Malaysia and Pakistan.

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Oil troubles in the northern waters 

In the whole election campaign, I thought Harper's dumbest moment came when he started talking about spending billions on Arctic icebeakers and establishing bases in the middle of the great white nowhere to form a thin white line against those bullying American subs. I thought it was just the usual election posturing taken to the n-th degree to impress us rubes.
But now I realise there may be more to it -- like, Canadian oil reserves, and international oil transport.
Thomas Walkom's Toronto Star article -- Harper's Arctic stand makes for grand politics -- refers in passing to several important issues:
. . . Certainly, the Arctic issue is serious. The polar icecap is melting, making it easier to navigate the Northwest Passage. Scientists warn that if this route were to become a well-travelled waterway for, say, oil tankers, there could be unwelcome consequences for the fragile ecology of the Canadian North. Unfortunately, for Canada, the U.S. has the better legal argument here. Other key maritime routes that pass through sovereign territory, such as Indonesia's Strait of Sunda, are treated as international waterways. Why not the Northwest Passage?
Perhaps even more important, though, are the simmering issues of resource ownership in the Arctic, as Canada, Denmark, Russia and the U.S. vie with one another for the right to exploit undersea oil and gas deposits.
Now, it starts to make some sense, if oil and gas deposits are at risk, not to mention use of the Northwest Passage for oil tankers. I still don't know if Harper's solutions are the right ones, but taking some action in the far north seems to be more justified.
By the way, I did find amusing this writer's comments that the US has the better "legal argument" -- so is the Bush administration actually going to put forward a position that Canada shouldn't violate some existing treaties, even though they themselves have abandoned numerous treaties in the past five years? And would they be running off to the International Court -- which the US despises -- to get these enforced?

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Very smart 

I was glad to see this quick response to the Alberta move on health care -- Harper warns Alberta on health reform: "Alberta can go ahead with all the health reforms it likes - so long as it stays within the rules of the Canada Health Act, says a spokesman for the incoming Conservative government."
Any time there is a new government, there is always a certain amount of pent-up demand for change -- which can explode in the incoming government's face if they don't get a grip on it quickly. So its good that Harper took immediate steps to cool Alberta down.

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Weekend! 


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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Daaaawwg talks to G-Dubz 

From OptimusCrime -- The Inaugural Phonecall. (And thanks to My Blagh via Galloping Beaver for finding this.)

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Well, I'm trying 


I'm really trying.
I really do want to give Harper the benefit of the doubt, to accentuate the positive and elminate the negative, all we are saying is give peace a chance, and all that touchy-feely 60s stuff about peace and love and stop with the negative vibes.
But it gets a lot harder when I read articles like this one (thanks to Cynic for finding it) -- Harper's grand plan:
On the one hand, he wants to radically decentralize power and taxing authority so that the federal government no longer plays a significant role in social areas, like medicare, that Canadians regard as national institutions.
On the other, he wants to focus and strengthen Ottawa's role in areas such as defence so that Canada can more effectively join the United States in what Harper has called the great moral battle against tyranny and terror.
Sorry, but I just can't help it -- when I read stuff like this my inner-Yosemite Sam starts to explode into the mother of all Snark attacks and I burst forth with "Oh, great, guys, just what we need, George Bush Lite -- all the incompetence without those bloated deficits -- yet! Does he think this is what Canadians elected him to do? Well, he's got another think coming . . . (yadda, yadda, yadda, you know the rest!)"

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We can only choose our side 


We don't get to choose the battle. We only get to choose our side.
I have been thinking lately about how to reply to the apparently-reasonable-sounding argument that I hear from Conservatives and religious people that a person can support gay rights without supporting gay marriage.
But you can't. Not anymore.
We don't get to choose the battle.
No one decided that the second world war would start in defense of Poland. But once Germany invaded, no one could just sit back any longer and say "Sorry, boys, can't fight now because we just aren't organized well enough quite yet. Let's put this off until something else outrageous happens."
No one decided that the right to have an abortion should define the women's movement. But this issue came to symbolize the most basic right, for women to control their own bodies, and therefore people who do not support a woman's right to choose are not feminists and cannot claim to be.
No one decided that the black civil rights movement would make its bones through a bus boycott in Montgomery. But once this boycott began, the black people of Montgomery had to keep on walking no matter how tired they were and how violent things became. The people couldn't say "Sorry, boys, this is really inconvenient for everybody, so can you please take your cause to some other city?" No, Montgomery became a battle that had to be won.
And so it is now with gay marriage. The battle is real and immediate and personal to many gay people, but its has also become symbolic. The Christian Right hysteria against gay marriage is one of the factors that has made this battle so important, because the core of their opposition to gay marriage is bigotry and hate against gay people, which cannot be allowed to win.
When someone says "I don't support gay marriage but this doesn't mean I am a bigot", this simply isn't true. Not anymore. The battle lines have been drawn.
The choice is which side you are on.
You ARE a bigot if you don't support gay marriage.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Horse with no name 


Come on, Liberals, get on with it!
According to this article, some of the least-likely leadership candidates in the country -- people whose horses are so dark they are effectively invisible -- want to give Harper all sorts of time in power by delaying the leadership convention until late 2007, so they can sell a few more memberships.
Along with likely candidates Frank McKenna, Brian Tobin, John Manley and Alan Rock -- as if this weren't enough -- the article also mentions dark-horse candidates Martin Cauchon, Stephane Dion, Maurizio Bevilacqua, Belinda Stronach, Scott Brison, Ken Dryden, Anne McLellan, Joe Volpe, Michael Ignatieff, and Denis Coderre. Coderre is quoted in the article as saying that Liberals should delay their leadership convention until they "conduct a thorough post-mortem on the losing election campaign, reunite the warring factions and allow plenty of time for new ideas and new leadership contenders to emerge."
But Canada doesn't have "plenty of time".
On this agenda, the Liberals wouldn't really be ready to fight another election until 2008. And by then, the Canada that the Liberals built will be on the way to being dismantled. We may well be in Iran with Bush. Customs and immigration integration may be implemented. The CRTC and the CBC will be unrecognizabble. Kyoto and the Kelowna accord will be toast. We may well be allowing two-tier health care.
So a crew of no-name Liberals want to give a Harper government the time to do all this, just so that they can try to promote themselves into a spoiler role in a leadership race?
Thanks a bunch.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

First, we gut the CRTC! 

Wow -- less than 24 hours and the CSA (Conservative secret agenda) is already up and running!
Kate McMillan's final CBC election blog post -Morning in Canada- says that as well as doing the things Harper actually told Canadians he would do -- like the accountability act, tax cuts, etc -- he should also immediately start doing things he DIDN'T tell anyone about, like gutting the CRTC and the CBC so that Canada can have its very own rightwingnut Rush Limbaugh-types dominating our radios.
. . . the single most important change he [Harper] can make to restore balance to Canadian democracy is to begin breaking down the stranglehold of government and the Liberal apparatchik on the communications industry by eliminating or radically restricting the authority of the CRTC, restoring political balance on the board of the CBC and moving the network to a model of market self-sufficiency, and closing the generous pasture land of government funded "think tanks" where deposed and unemployed Liberals retire to lobby the government at government expense - and inform Canadians of our "Canadian values."
For until and unless conservatives can look forward to hearing their voice, their issues, their world view expressed as part of - as opposed to subject matter for - mainstream Canadian media, the prospects for the election of Stephen Harper to bring "Morning to Canada" will be remembered only as a brief time out for Canada's unnaturally governing party.
Its going to be a fun year, isn't it?

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Great line of the day 

From Keith in the comments to Steve Gilliard's Canadian election post:
If one looks over the totals, one almost got the impression that the Canadian public stood the four leaders up against the wall and read them all the riot act. "Harper, we'll let you try things out but we don't trust you and if you get out of line, you're toast. Martin, go stand in the corner and get your shit in order. Duceppe, don't be getting any ideas about trying for independence because we're not in the mood. And Layton, you still don't have enough votes to be a power broker so shut the hell up and reign in your ego."
Emphasis mine. Hey, I think he's got it!

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Update on my son 

And just a quick update on my son -- he got 1284 votes with 182 out of 184 polls reporting -- a couple of hundred more votes than the Greens got last time in the Blackstrap riding, so we were pretty pleased about it. Thanks, everyone, for your good wishes.

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Martin resigning 

Well, this is sad news -- Paul Martin says he won't lead the Liberals through another election.
So I'll bet Jean Chretien thinks now that he won.
Maybe he did, but the people of Canada have lost.

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Harper + Duceppe="several years of rule" 

An article "Grit Removal" in today's American Spectator blog, John Tabin writes:
. . . It's possible, though not likely, that the Conservatives will win an outright majority in Parliament. But even if they don't, and need to form a coalition government, they will have more of a chance to move an agenda than one would expect. As a political consultant explained to me in Washington a few months ago before heading north to work for the Conservatives, the leaders of the Tories' prospective coalition partner, the separatist Bloc Quebecois, are willing to give Harper several years of rule (but expect lots of Tory reforms to exempt Quebec) . . .
Emphasis mine.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

My son, the candidate 


Mike is running for the Greens in Blackstrap. What an experience it has been for Mike -- I know it would never ever have occured to me to run for federal office at the age of 22. We're very proud parents, of course, and we've been helping out wherever we can.
Mike is his own person, with his own political ideas, running his own campaign, and filming everything as he goes. His film project will be unique.
In the last election, the Green candidate in Blackstrap got a thousand votes, compared to the winner's 15,000. But Mike's argument is this: if Blackstrap elects Canada's first Green MP, then tens of thousands of Greens from across Canada will want to move here, and that will be great for the constituency and the province.
Mike has a point, doesn't he?
His sister wrote this about him:

. . . his approach is novel. He's seeking to bring an important aspect of Canadian society into the lime-light, so to speak. Our political processes are often a complete mystery to those who are not involved directly and many have no idea what it takes, who to talk with, or how to go about becoming a Member of Parliament in this country. One thing I have always appreciated about Mike is his unique vision for the world, his ability to sort through the political BS to the core of the issue, and more than anything his unending sense of humor - which I believe to be the most important for a candidate in his position. And you may write this off as a proud, perhap boastful, sister of similar political mind - but when it comes to the seriousness of the leadership hopefuls in this country I make no false claims. Mike Fornssler is going to change the face of politics in this country, one film, one election, one speech, one interview at a time.

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Good and hard 

First, Brian Gable from Friday's Globe and Mail:


Now, here are a few apt H. L. Mencken quotes about politics and democracy:
A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.

Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.
And finally, my personal favorite:
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it, good and hard.

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Hello, breakfast! 


I haven't been keeping up with Oddball News lately -- though with the amount of blogging I am doing about the election, my reader could beg to differ.
Anyway, here's one of the stories I missed -- Hamster, snake make a strange pair:
Zookeepers at Tokyo's Mutsugoro Okoku zoo presented the hamster - whose name [Gohan] means meal in Japanese - to Aochan [a Japanese rat snake] as a tasty morsel in October, after the snake refused to eat frozen mice. But instead of indulging, Aochan decided to make friends with the furry rodent, according to keeper Kazuya Yamamoto. The pair have shared a cage since. "I've never seen anything like it. Gohan sometimes even climbs onto Aochan to take a nap on his back," Yamamoto said.
Oh, if only our politicians could get along so well, eh?
(AP Photo/Mutsugoro Okoku Zoo, Kyota Nomura)

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Conservatives + Bloc = Government 

Remember -- the magic number is 156 (including the Speaker).
Jason Cherniak has got a much better handle than I have on what is happening in the ridings across the country. Here is his best-case/worst-case scenario, which provides us with the likely range of results:
. . . in the best case scenario, a Liberal loss of 13 in Atlantic and Quebec, a Tory gain of 10 in Atlantic and Quebec and a BQ gain of 3 in Quebec . . .
Lib - 120
Con - 108
BQ - 56
NDP - 24
At worst for the Liberals, they lose 8 in Atlantic, 10 in Quebec and 20 in Ontario. That would give approximate numbers of:
Con - 130
Lib - 94
BQ - 56
NDP - 28

This prediction is also quite close to the Canadian Election Project numbers, which presently predict:
Con - 108
Lib - 93
NDP - 23
BQ - 58
Other - 1
Too close to call - 25
So the question of the day is - what happens next?
Only in the Cherniak best case scenario is there a chance that Martin remains as Prime Minister, and even then he would need NDP support plus some of the Bloc or Conservatives to vote with him.
In either of Cherniak's scenarios, if the Conservativea and the Bloc form an alliance then Harper would be Prime Minister. So does anyone think Harper wouldn't do exactly this -- work out a deal with Duceppe so that Harper can be PM and Quebec can be de facto independent?
Is this the government that Canada actually wants?
Well, if you vote Conservative on Monday, this is the government you will get.

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Great line of the day 

In Comments, The Rev referred us to his election post, and it was certainly worthwhile to click the link. Here is some of what he says:
Given the state of the polls in Canada at the moment, it would appear that Canadian voters, having seen how things have gone south of the border for the last six months, have said to themselves, "enough of the this solid economic development and sane, sensible, progressive social policy - gimme some incompetent bible-thumping yahoos who want to disassemble the government and fast, before its too late for us to get in on all the fun and games in Iraq." They appear to have decided that because Paul Martin and the Liberals are 'arrogant' and the previous Liberal administration probably skimmed some money from the till, they are going to vote for the Bush-Lite Conservatives.
Great idea Canada. Very clever.
Babies and bathwater, amputated noses and spite-worthy faces - pick your similie my fellow Canucks, but the bottom line is that you're making a horrible mistake.
Emphasis mine. Read the whole thing -- it gets even better after this part.

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In the stars 

Now a psychic is predicting a Liberal minority:
A psychic and an astrologer who claim to have predicted past political winners and losers say Martin is destined for a second minority government. "I look at him and I see his aura. It is so strong that it is clear this election is meant to be his,' said Marra, a psychic at the Psychic Boutique at Yonge St. and Wilson Ave. . . . In his 35 years as an astrologer, Robin Armstrong, who works in Aurora, said he has rarely seen an election where the media opinion of who is going to win has contrasted so much with the star charts. Armstrong also predicted a Liberal minority . . .
And just for fun, here are the horoscopes for Monday that I found on the net:
Paul Martin's horoscope : You will be the focus of attention today and, yes, you'll like it. There is, however, a danger that the suspicious side of your nature will get the upper hand and instead of just enjoying being everyone's pet you will try to rationalize why you are so popular. Put your mind in neutral for the next 24 hours and let your feelings guide you.
Stephen Harper: What's done is done and cannot be undone, so stop looking back and wishing things had been different because it is a total waste of your time and energy. The only things that matter are where you are now and where you intend to be in the very near future. Mars in your birth sign will provide the momentum you need.
Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe are both Cancers and have the same intriguing horoscope for Monday:
Venus, planet of love, in your opposite sign of Capricorn brings relationship issues to the fore, and because Venus links with Mars, planet of passion, today you will leave the object of your affection in no doubt at all how much you care for them. But don't go overboard about it -- love is one thing, emotionalism quite another.
And for Jim Harris, well, he's an Aquarius:
When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius . . .

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Take a guess 

Is DarkSyde describing the Christian Right, or fundamentalist Wahhabism?
They are vehemently against abortion, they resist progressive woman's rights. They view homosexuality as a crime against nature and God, some advocate the death penalty as an option for it. Separation of Church and State is despised by these folks; they insist the nation is founded on the principles of their religion, and they work hard to bring that de facto theocracy about. They deplore strong language, gay characters, and sexual content on TV and in the media. And they ignore the Geneva Convention when it suits their ideological purposes, including provisions against torture or due process. They're anti-stem cell research, pro-creationism, and generally distrustful of science. These folks are easily whipped into a state of frenzy with ideological manipulation to the point where they will commit violence, or at least tacitly endorse that violence is acceptable, if it advances their Divine agenda. They then take great pains to justify that violence, including unprovoked attack of civilian areas, under certain conditions, with convoluted theological gymnastics. They are almost to the man pro-death penalty . . .
You'll have to click the link to find out which group DarkSyde is referring to, I think. Its a scary thought, too.

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Quid pro quo? 

The Gazetteer informs us that The Washington Times had chimed in again on the Canadian election. And it looks like John Reynolds is now making Canadian foreign policy:
. . . John Reynolds, official opposition house leader, said while trade disputes between Canada and the United States will remain, the tone of political discourse will change. "We had a government that for 12 years in Canada has called [Americans] words like 'coward' and 'stupid,' " said Mr. Reynolds, who co-chairs the Conservative elections campaign. "That would change. Our party is not filled with anti-American people like it is within the Liberal Party."
Mr. Reynolds, who spoke to The Washington Times after a boisterous rally of Conservative sympathizers in a downtown Montreal hotel Wednesday, said Conservative leader Stephen Harper and President Bush should sit down and work out the trade problems.
"We've been friends and neighbors for a long, long time," Mr. Reynolds said. "We are major trading partners in the world, we've got a lot to offer each other and we have to get that friendship back on track just like you'd have with your next-door neighbor."
Mr. Reynolds said the first practical step in improving security cooperation between Canada and the United States would be to restart discussions about joining the anti-ballistic missile program.
"We've got to sit down and discuss this. There is a quid pro quo for everything," he said.
But how far the Conservatives push their social, political and economic agenda will depend on whether they manage to gain a majority in Canada's 308-seat House of Commons, or will have a minority government . . . On the foreign policy front Mr. Harper has promised to improve Canada's relations with the United States, but also to take "a tougher stand on international trade disputes."
Prime Minister Paul Martin, on the other hand, has run an uninspired campaign full of gaffes. And his attack ads trying to paint Mr. Harper as a religious zealot with a hidden agenda, or as an American lapdog, have backfired. One of the ads quoted from a Washington Times opinion piece by Patrick Basham where he claims that, "If elected, Mr. Harper will quickly become Mr. Bush's new best friend internationally and the poster boy for his ideal foreign leader."
Speaking to reporters Thursday Mr. Martin again went on attack. "We've never seen a major political party with such a conservative agenda as this one, an agenda which has really been taken from the extreme right in the United States," said Mr. Martin.
The Gazetteer asks what the quid quo pro is going to be. I wonder too.

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An unnamed whale 


We can be grateful for small mercies -- at least the whale wasn't around London long enough for some newspaper to give him a name!
That said, I always find it remarkable how much people can care about the fate of an animal in trouble, how quickly we come to their aid, and how much effort we can put into trying to save them.
The BBC reported that "As the rescuers moved the whale applause broke out among the 3,000 onlookers . . . as the whale passed beneath." Yes, I would have applauded, too.
(AP Photo/Tom Hevezi)

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Fun with Fotos 

Martin leaps over barriers:

Photo by Paul Chiasson,CP

while Harper runs into brick walls:

Photo by REUTERS/Andy Clark

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"Its not him, its us" 

Its like the old break-up line "Its not you, its me."
I fear a Harper election partly because of what he would do, but mainly because of what such a victory would say about us as Canadians.
Here is a description about what has happened to people in the United States over the last decade, which purports to explain why they vote for Republicans. It is what I DON'T want to see happening in Canada:
Looking at the data from 1992 to 2004, Shellenberger and Nordhaus found a country whose citizens are increasingly authoritarian while at the same time feeling evermore adrift, isolated, and nihilistic. They found a society at once more libertine and more puritanical than in the past, a society where solidarity among citizens was deteriorating, and, most worrisomely to them, a progressive clock that seemed to be unwinding backward on broad questions of social equity. Between 1992 and 2004, for example, the percentage of people who said they agree that "the father of the family must be the master in his own house" increased ten points, from 42 to 52 percent, in the 2,500-person Environics survey. The percentage agreeing that "men are naturally superior to women" increased from 30 percent to 40 percent. Meanwhile, the fraction that said they discussed local problems with people they knew plummeted from 66 percent to 39 percent. Survey respondents were also increasingly accepting of the value that "violence is a normal part of life" -- and that figure had doubled even before the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks.
And when we also get the news that American conservatives are licking their chops about a Harper victory, that scares me too.

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Great line of the day 

Michael Moore speaks out on the Canadian election:
. . . Far be it from me, as an American, to suggest what you should do. You already have too many Americans telling you what to do. Well, actually, you've got just one American who keeps telling you to roll over and fetch and sit. I hope you don't feel this appeal of mine is too intrusive but I just couldn't sit by, as your friend, and say nothing. Yes, I agree, the Liberals have some 'splainin' to do. And yes, one party in power for more than a decade gets a little... long. But . . . There are ways at the polls to have your voices heard other than throwing the baby out with the bath water.
These are no ordinary times, and as you go to the polls on Monday, you do so while a man running the nation to the south of you is hoping you can lend him a hand by picking Stephen Harper because he's a man who shares his world view. Do you want to help George Bush by turning Canada into his latest conquest? Is that how you want millions of us down here to see you from now on? The next notch in the cowboy belt? C'mon, where's your Canadian pride? I mean,
if you're going to reduce Canada to a cheap download of Bush & Co., then at least don't surrender so easily. Can't you wait until he threatens to bomb Regina? Make him work for it, for Pete's sake . . .
Emphasis mine.
Well, Michael, thanks for noticing, and we're trying our best.
Thanks to From the Heartland for noticing this story.

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Cerberus sums it up 

In The Final Weekend: Final Thoughts, Cerberus writes exactly what I was thinking -- how did they know?
Anyway, go read it if you want a concise summary of just about everything important for this election..

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Where have these people been? (Part Two) 

Part One is here.
And its about time people started speaking out.
Here's the most recent list of Conservative opponents, from the :Toronto Star:
- The Canadian Climate Coalition complained that the Tories were the only party that refused to respond to a questionnaire on the Kyoto Protocol, and accused Harper of moving Canada 'into the same camp as U.S. President George W. Bush.'
- The Council of Canadians expressed concern about recent comments by Conservative MP James Lunney favouring bulk exports of Canadian water, and called on Harper to clarify his position on the issue.
- Sixty-six economists signed a joint statement warning that the tax breaks being offered by the major parties would leave a huge deficit in social services and hurt the poor. They took special aim at the Conservative proposal to eliminate taxes on reinvested capital gains, saying it would 'deliver very large tax savings to a tiny group of high-income Canadians.'
- Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said he's not satisfied by recent comments by Harper that the party supports the principles of the Kelowna native deal, but not the final agreement and dollar amount. 'Any suggestion that one supports the objectives and the targets but not the approximately $5 billion allocated to these targets is of great concern to us because we won't be able to meet the targets without money,' he said.
- The gay-rights group Egale warned: 'Stephen Harper goes ahead with his plan to reopen the divisive equal marriage debate, it will lead Canada into a legal swamp.' On Monday, 104 law professors wrote an open letter to Harper saying that his plan to reopen the equal marriage debate would lead to "legal confusion, a lack of uniformity, and unnecessary, protracted and costly litigation."
- Harper also faced questions from reporters Tuesday on claims that the Tories harbour a secret agenda to reopen the abortion debate. On Monday, Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the father of the pro-choice movement in Canada, had said Conservatives can't be trusted on the abortion issue. But Harper maintained he "won't be initiating or supporting abortion legislation." "I'll use whatever influence I have in Parliament to be sure that such a matter doesn't come to a vote," he added.
Yeah, Stephen, sure. Surprisingly, I'm sure, your influence just may not be quite enough...
And if you need any more talking points, Rabble associate publisher Duncan Cameron provides this concise summary of why the Conservatives would be a bad choice for Canada:
On policy, Conservative leader Stephen Harper is clear. He is not bound by a parliamentary decision to approve same sex marriage. Nor would his government support the international convention on climate change known as the Kyoto Accord, or the federal-provincial agreement on aboriginal issues reached recently at Kelowna.
He is ready to re-start negotiations to make Canada a partner in the American first strike missile system known perversely as missile defence.
The reason Harper favours the so-called traditional definition of marriage is not just to ensure that gay and lesbian Canadians are made to feel insulted and demeaned. He also wants to prove to the courts that the House of Commons is not bound by legal decisions Conservatives do not agree with.
Similarly, with the Kyoto accord, he can demonstrate how a Conservative government can step down, and walk away from an international treaty ratified by Canada, in order to show solidarity with the Bush Republicans, and the U.S. . . . Just in case anybody missed it, under a Harper government, payment of the capital gains tax will be waived if you “re-invest” the gain within six months by buying a summer cottage, a speculative property to rent out, or some more stocks.
This capital gains holiday is super expensive to implement, and worthless to society. It could, however be dangerous, having the power to provoke speculative booms, and accelerate busts. Since it will favour the wealthy greatly, it has not been subject to rigorous examination in the media
Announced for the first time with the rest of the Conservative program last Friday, the capital gains measure far overshadows the attention-getting proposed one per cent reduction in the GST, trumpeted at the outset of the election campaign as a measure of social justice. It turns out the Conservatives do favour the rich even when they pretend to be looking out for working families. Their tax policy proves it.
If the Conservatives win, its time to get into the house flipping business, I guess.

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Scalia Lite 

Well, Harper just couldn't keep his inner "Refooorrrm" quiet any longer -- its been two months since he could actually say what he thought, and the real Harper just had to break loose.
Here was today's Globe and Mail headline, above the fold: Harper warns of activist judges.
. . ."I am merely pointing out a fact that courts, for the most part, have been appointed by another political party. But courts are supposed to be independent regardless of who appoints them and they are an independent check and balance," he said. When one reporter asked if he believed judges are activists with their own social agenda, Mr. Harper replied: "Some are, some aren't." . . . Mr. Harper's former Reform and Canadian Alliance allies have cried loudly about judicial activism, with many complaining that liberal judges have imposed such things as same-sex marriage upon an unwilling populace.
Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler responded with a scathing attack on Mr. Harper, arguing that his opinions are unfit for a man who aspires to lead the country. "To me, [it] is irresponsible for a political leader to be impugning the independence and the integrity of the very institutions he should be protecting," he said. "We need someone who will respect the rule of law, who will respect the independence of the judiciary." Mr. Cotler said that the suggestion judges are Liberal-biased demeans and insults the judicial system. And he defended his own judicial appointments, saying they have been scrupulously apolitical.
In 2003, after courts in British Columbia and Ontario recognized the legality of same-sex unions, Mr. Harper, who was then the leader of the Canadian Alliance, accused former prime minister Jean Chrétien of stacking the courts with sympathetic judges for that very purpose.
"They didn't want to come to Parliament, they didn't want to go to the Canadian people and be honest that this is what they wanted," he said at that time of the Liberals. "They had the courts do it for them; they put the judges in they wanted, then they failed to appeal, failed to fight the case in court."
. . . Mr. Harper says there is a particular type of person who would get those jobs if he were prime minister. "What we will be looking for is what I call the judicial temperament," he told reporters. "And that is the ability to competently and shrewdly and wisely apply the laws that are passed by the Parliament of Canada."
Sounds like the Conservatives will be looking for men like Antonin Scalia.
Oh, Myrtle, we're in trouble now...

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Trend is up 

.SES tracking poll Jan 18 -- Conservatives 37, Liberals 32.
Finally, the Liberals seem to hae stopped sliding and they have found a ladder to climb.

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Some good news 

Here: Poll suggests Liberals back in lead in Ontario
And here: Martin's Values, Hopes, Dreams ad

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Already with the excuses... 

What is Harper doing here? Not even elected yet, but he's already setting up the civil service or the Senate or the courts to take the blame for his failure.
Are there some promises he had made that he doesn't really want to keep? Harper said today that a Tory majority would not have 'absolute power'. Well, that will be news to the voters. The Liberals did it their way for 12 years; now if the Conservatives win a majority then the voters will expect them to do what they promised. And if they don't, they really can't blame it on the Liberals.

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Who not to vote for 

Vote Marriage Coalition has published their list of 150 candidates who they say do not support gay marriage.
Well, now you know who NOT to support in Alberta, British Columbia,
Manitoba, New Brunswick , Newfoundland and Labrador , Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia , Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan , Yukon .
Its notable that so many of these bigots are Conservatives -- which means that if the Conservatives win this election then they will have enough votes in the Commons to overturn the gay marriage bill.
And now 100 legal beagles have sent Harper a letter about how stupid this all is: "It appears to be your intention to pass a law that you know is almost certainly unconstitutional and then leave it to the courts to clean up the mess."
But these law professors don't understand priorities here -- given the choice between taking a responsible approach to governing, and pandering to their base, which way does everyone think the Conservatives will go?

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Monday, January 16, 2006

"The best record in Canadian history' 

Rob McGowan, editor of Politics Canada endorses the Liberals -- he finds too much that is wrong with the Conservatives, and lots that is right with the Liberals:
Paul Martin assumed the mantle of power in December 2003 bringing about a series of significant changes to accountability, a new accord on Healthcare emphasizing wait-time improvements, the Atlantic Accord, funding for cities, Parliamentary Reforms, free votes, terminating the Sponsorship Program, increased military funding, signed the helicopter contract, tightened financial controls, greater co-operation with the provinces, resolved the BSE cattle export dispute, and achieved a drop in duties on softwood lumber. He did this while dealing with the aftermath of Chretien's ill-fated Sponsorship Program as well in a minority setting passing more legislation than any other Prime Minister in a minority. Should the Conservatives take power they will inherit a country in much better shape than the last Conservative government left it. In 1993 interest rates and unemployment were high, and a government burdened with two decades of deficit financing and burgeoning debt. Today the Liberal record of sustained economic growth, balanced budgets, debt repayment, exceptionally low interest and low unemployment rates is the best record in Canadian history as well as the best record among the G7 countries.
Yes, this sums it up quite well.

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$388 

As The East End-Underground reports, the Conservative's child care allowance proposal evaporates once you figure in the income taxes. From a Caledone Institute study: "a two-earner couple in Ontario raising two children (one under 6) and earning $36,000 . . . would end up with a net Child Care Allowance worth just $388 - only 32.3 percent of the $1,200 face value payment."

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Great line of the day 

In my Comments page for the last post, the Dave the Galloping Beaver writes: "All platforms being equal (relatively worthless), the indicator of the real agenda of a political party and its leader is the direction of those organizations which support them. In checking them all, Harper's leave me cold." Emphasis mine. And I will keep checking his blog for more on this topic.

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Cheshire economics 


If the media are now going to blunt every criticism of the Conservative budget by describing it as just another attack on Harper, then neither the Liberals nor the NDP will be able to generate any traction.
What we are seeing now from the Conservatives is what I am calling Cheshire economics -- promises appearing from thin air like the Cheshire Cat's smile, then quickly disappearing before they can be pinned down.
This CP story is headlined Federal election campaign enters final week with attacks focused on Harper, which trivializes some serious concerns:

A Tory government would boost user fees to finance costly election promises, Layton warned. . . "They relieve you of your cash in other ways, with user fees and charges and things they don't call taxes," he told supporters . . . Martin was also in warn mode, saying the Conservative platform doesn't add up and costly pledges to help cities build infrastructure, housing and sports facilities could suffer. "Mr. Harper won't tell us what he'll cut, he won't tell us which programs he's going to cut and which services he's going to cut," Martin said . . . "But let me tell you, something is going to have to give."
Meanwhile, we're already seeing some Conservative cutbacks appear and promises disappear. When Harper released the Conservative budget, it included a letter from the Conference Board of Canada (pdf) trumpeting its affordability.
So Saturday we got the news that the budget had been quietly reissued because originally it hadn't listed $26 billion in hidden spending cuts.
Today we find out that the budget approved by the Conference Board didn't include billions Harper has now promised to Quebec, nor does it include his promise that Canadians can go elsewhere for health care if necessary:

[Conference Board economist]Darby says the version of the platform he was given to vet didn't include a Conservative party health-care guarantee which states patients will be transported to another jurisdiction if they can't get timely care at home. It also omitted a Tory platform promise to redress the so-called "fiscal imbalance" between Ottawa and the provinces. Darby wouldn't comment on whether the timely health-care guarantee would bear a significant cost. "Talk to Harper," he said. "It is not in the platform I received from them." It's also not clear what the Conservatives expect to pay to redress the fiscal imbalance . . .
Now, Goodale and the Liberals argue that the so-called fiscal imbalance doesn't really exist. So maybe this explains it -- the Conservatives were promising anything to sound good in Quebec, but later on they intended to announce that -- surprise, surprise -- they actually don't owe the provinces anything after all.
But beware, Ontarians -- don't make that appointment at the Mayo clinic just yet.
'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
' That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don’t much care where--' said Alice.
' Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
' --so long as I get SOMEWHERE,' Alice added as an explanation.
' Oh, you’re sure to do that,' said the Cat.

UPDATE: And as POGGE notes, check out Tilting at Windmills where Ian Welsh says the capital gains tax exemption will distort the Canadian economy by encouraging speculation in housing and in securities.

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Where have these people been? 

A coalition of progressive groups calling themselves the Think Twice coalition has FINALLY stepped forward to warn of the danger of Conservative victory.
Its about time.
Members include Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians; Buzz Hargrove, Canadian Auto Workers; Kira Heineck, Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada; Linda Silas, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions; Bonnie Diamond, National Association of Women and the Law; and Elizabeth May, Sierra Club; plus the Canadian Federation of Students, Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation, Egale Canada, Prevent Cancer Coalition, and the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.
Other than Buzz Hargrove, I haven't heard about any of these groups speaking out in support of the Liberals. There was no coverage that I saw on Friday for the coalition's announcement -- I found this story on Rabble, and that's just preaching to the choir.
But for the record, here's what they are sayng:
What would Conservative policies mean for Canadians?:
They mean privatization and deregulation, and more cuts to social programs.
They mean the end of the national child-care program, and the rollback of the $5 billion deal between 10 provinces and the federal government. This is the beginning of the first new national social program since medicare, but Harper says he will cancel it in exchange for a dollar a day sent to Canadians, burdened with securing and financing their own child care.
They mean abandonment of the agreement just achieved with First Nations at the Aboriginal Summit, and reneging on promised spending to alleviate a housing and health care crisis for some of Canada's most vulnerable citizens, women and children.
They mean more greenhouse gas emissions, the end of the domestic Kyoto plan to reduce emissions by 2012, and moving Canada from a strong supporter of further emission cuts to supporting George Bush's camp.
They mean a health care system based on commercialization, not patient needs; based on competition between health care providers, not collaborative practice; a health care system that would allocate public health care dollars to for-profit business, rather than improving primary health care for our families; and a continuing absence of national standards for home care and inadequate long-term care for our seniors.
They mean the loss of at least $1 billion for affordable housing, and the potential loss of a Canadian housing framework.
They mean no commitment to the income measures and services needed to reduce poverty.
They mean abandoning efforts to protect workers' wages, pensions and benefits in cases of corporate bankruptcy.
They mean massive tuition fee increases for university and college students.
They mean greater trade and foreign policy integration with the U.S., particularly joint military ventures (including participation in foreign conflicts and space-based military systems).
They mean new risks to Canadian women's right to reproductive choice and access to abortion.
They mean abandoning plans for new pay equity legislation.
They mean abandoning plans for a new national strategy for people with disabilities.
They mean less government support for the arts and for public broadcasting.
They mean re-opening the debate over equal marriage rights for same sex couples, and the introduction of unconstitutional legislation.
They mean re-opening the Charter to protect private property rights, which have major implications for environmental protection, labour rights and equality rights.
They mean big tax cuts for corporations, and fewer pollution regulations.
All this, and missile defense, too.
But it may be too late to persuade people to think twice about their votes -- the "racist, homophobic, anti-feminist bigots" have already booked their flights to Ottawa.
It ain't no use in callin' out my name, gal
Like you never did before
It ain't no use in callin' out my name, gal
I can't hear you any more . . .
I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don't think twice, it's all right

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

TV Iraq 

Billmon is back with a post about the newest in reality TV, Iraq style - The Abu Zarqawi Hour:
The video ends with Abu Zemen being shot in the back of the head, as well as having his house blown up.
Let's see Kiefer Sutherland top that . . . the terrorists appear to be getting a much bigger bang for their propaganda buck than the U.S. military is for its. With all due respects to the Lincoln Group, planting phony op-eds in Iraqi newspapers and blasting out text messages praising the democratic process is pretty thin gruel compared to exploding Humvees and videotaped executions. . . .
an insurgent group that operates its own clandestine TV studio and runs promos for future programming is not exactly a fly-by-night operation, constantly on the run from safe house to safe house. To me, it's just another sign that the Sunni insurgency -- or at least the homegrown parts -- is evolving into a complex enterprise, one that has a mix of clandestine, semi-clandestine components, as well as public "front" organizations. The result might be something like the old IRA/Sinn Fein apparatus, with a similar strategy of combining guns and politics . . . the metamorphosis of the Sunni insurgency into a multi-faceted, multi-layered resistance movement makes counterinsurgency an even more complicated task, and makes the U.S. military's emphasis on brute force (i.e. dropping 500 lb bombs on safe houses and leveling entire neighborhoods to chase out a few hundred rag tag guerrillas, even more inappropriate. The strategy and politics of it aside, though, the most striking thing about the "Abu Zarqawi Hour" is how it demonstrates the deranged, almost hallucinatory, quality of our 21st century global village . . . just as Paddy Chayefsky predicted 30 years ago.
The season premier of 24 is on tomorrow night -- I stopped watching at about the 2-3 pm show on the first year of the series but I gather they have dumped that day-in-the-life format and that Jack Bauer is still saving the world weekly by torturing some brown-toned person about whether to cut the blue wire or the green wire, or something like that. It does seem that what is on TV in Iraq these days is miles ahead of any Hollywood fantasy.
And what is Washington's response to all the problems in Iraq? Swiftboat Jack Murtha. Yeah, that'll do it.

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Oh, lighten up! 

Late Night Political Jokes from the last week:
"Doctors in Israel are now slowly drawing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon out of his coma to see what his remaining brain function is. Political experts say it is unlikely someone could run a country with a severe loss of brain activity. I beg to differ." --Jay Leno
"Doctors say that Ariel Sharon is emerging from his coma and can move his hand. The first thing he did was give Pat Robertson the finger." --Jay Leno
"Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has regained some brain function. The bad news: Pat Robertson, still no brain function at all. You know about this -- last week Pat Robertson said Ariel Sharon had a stroke because God was punishing him for dividing Israel. You remember a couple of years ago Pat Robertson announced he had prostate cancer? You think God was punishing him for being a pain in the ass?" -- Jay Leno
"There was also the emotionally-charged saga of Mrs. Alito. I myself will never forget the sight of her crying as she listened to Sen. Lindsey Graham defend her husband from Democratic attacks on his character. It was a sign of how brutal and hard-hitting these hearings can be, especially for a woman who, due to a tragic laundry accident, was forced to show up wearing her grandmother's couch." --"Daily Show" correspondent Ed Helms
"Senators were shocked that Alito would belong to a group made up of exclusively white males, as opposed to the Senate, which is, of course, overwhelmingly husky white males. If your organization is all white and all male, make sure they're all fat." --Jon Stewart
"Have you been watching the Alito Supreme Court nomination hearings? The Democrats are upset, they're crazy, they're already accusing him of giving vague, contradictory answers. And Alito was on that, he shot back, 'Maybe, maybe not.'" --David Letterman
"Supreme Court confirmation hearings are under way for Judge Samuel Alito. It's pretty interesting. Democrats want to know his position on privacy, while Republicans want to know his position on prison terms for bribery." --Jay Leno
"This week, New Jersey voted to temporarily suspend the death penalty. Lawmakers say it sends a strong message to death row inmates: If we can't leave New Jersey, neither can you." --Conan O'Brien
"Last Thursday, the president tried to counter the growing criticism of his Iraq policy by gathering together 13 former secretaries of defense and state, a regular who's who of who's blown up what. ... Also on the guest list, Robert McNamara, defense secretary during the Vietnam era. The White House invited him to ensure that at least someone in the room had fu*ked up more than they have." --Jon Stewart
"Indicted Congressman Tom DeLay announced that he will not run for re-election as House Majority Leader but that he will run for re-election to Congress. So apparently he thinks he's too corrupt to be a leader, but not too corrupt to be just an ordinary congressman." --Jay Leno
"In Washington, the Justice Department was evacuated because of a suspicious package. It was okay, it just turned out to be a bag of cash dropped off by Jack Abramoff." --David Letterman
"So what? A lobbyist cheated Indian tribes out of $25 million then laundered their money through phony Christian charities trying to stop other Indian tribes from getting casinos [on screen: 'Thou Shalt Not Compete'] and bribe congressmen in the process. Know what I call that? I call that business as usual in Washington. [on screen: 'Screwing Indians']" --Stephen Colbert
And how could we end without another great Non Sequitur:


Reminds me of many of the scintillating conversations that go on in our house every day!

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Dyn-o-mite 

I haven't read Paper Dynamite Online before but found this post at Progressive Bloggers.
It expresses my sentiments exactly, so therefore I do believe it is brilliant!
PD criticizes the Globe and Mail for its lukewarm Harper endorsement this morning -- he says they are letting a self-indulgent preference for Harper's style overwhelm their objective judgement about what is really the best for the country. What he says applies to all of us, I think:

I, like many Liberals and Canadians in general, have been disappointed with the Liberal campaign. But beyond the chaotic messaging and themeless Liberal campaign, there does exist rational arguments for voting Liberal.
The three great challenges that will confront Canadians in the next five to ten years are; 1) the innovation economy and globalization, 2) the environment and 3) increasing pressures on the health care system from aging Baby Boomers. The Conservatives are ideologically ill equiped to meet these challenges which will require more government involvement in key areas like research and development, higher education as well as a strong commitment to Kyoto. Furthermore, the impending strain on the health care system means that the Federal government must remain on the path of fiscal prudence. On the other hand, Harper has said during this campaign that 'all taxes are bad' and he believes surpluses indicate Canadians are over taxed. That's exactly what George Bush said to justify his reckless tax cuts which have led to ballooning deficits in the States.
Over the past 12 years the Liberal government has taken Canada from the verge of becoming Argentina North to the most fiscally sound economy in the industrialized world. Recently they've outlined policies on innovation, education, and the environment that will serve Canadians well as we strive to meet the complex challenges awaiting us. And they've done so within the context of a meta-promise not to go back into deficit.
Anger, frustration and disillusionment are powerful psychological forces. We can indulge them or we can try to think clearly and rationally.
Absolutely correct, I think. Now, as my reader knows, I like Paul Martin -- not his style necessarily, but his substance. Overall, I think the Liberals have the right ideas for Canada.
I didn't always think this -- I disliked Trudeau's liberals and I rather liked Mulroney (yes, GST and NAFTA and all). I came around to the Liberals in the mid-90s -- though I must admit I never did like Chretien (who began his Prime Ministership with lies about abolishing the GST, and ended it with lies about the sponsorship scandal). As I have grown older, I have come to see the value of many of the Liberal ideas. Their policies, I think, have been good for the country.
And their courage on social issues is outstanding.
An ordinary government -- a cowardly one -- would have taken the easy way and just left gay marriage to be permitted province by province as the courts decided it. But Paul Martin not only brought the issue back to Parliament, but he led the way in getting MPs and Canadians to accept gay marriage by framing it as a civil rights issie.
It is an example of true and courageous political leadership -- for which Martin hasn't been given nearly the credit he deserves.

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The woman beside the throne? 


CP Photo Ryan Remiorz
If Stephen Harper becomes Prime Minister, just how influential would Laureen Teskey Harper be in Canadian politics?
Today's CP story includes reference to a possible Conservative cabinet. But, it says, Harper "hasn't even started discussing cabinet jobs with Tory candidates. 'I have not sat down and had a discussion with anybody on that subject yet,' he said. 'I haven't even discussed it with my wife yet.'"
So the woman that the Globe and Mail described as "a party girl who likes to laugh . . . opinionated and not afraid to speak her mind -- just not to reporters" will be advising Harper on who should be in Cabinet?
This London Free Press article tells us more. First, a bizarre factoid leads us to suspect that he and Georgie will have even more in common than we already thought: "Strategists say that thanks to Harper's wife's influence, the Tory leader is much more comfortable working closely with women in his caucus than he is with the men."
But don't worry, Canada, as well as Laureen, there will be some old party hacks hands coming back to help our boy out. "Harper is expected to look to Tory Senator Hugh Segal and former prime minister Brian Mulroney to help him draft his front-line team."

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Its everywhere 

Now here's a series of photos I can support. The Freewayblogger is posting photos of "impeach" signs from across the United States. Well, its a lot more encouraging than those photos on Rush Limbaugh's website of people wearing his Gitmo gear.
And Freeway also has a funny post up showing the 'mass graves' of War on Christmas . . .

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Great line of the day 

In a great post about The Calgary School - The Voices In Harper's Head, the Galloping Beaver describes the gang booking their flights to Ottawa a week Tuesday: "Should Harper actually win the election on the 23rd, you can be assured that writers of policy, the advisors in the Prime Minister's Office and the framers of legislation will be a group of racist, homophobic, anti-feminist bigots; those we now know as The Calgary School."
Oh, we're in trouble now, Mabel . . .

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Friday, January 13, 2006

The Jesus Industry 

Now, here's an interesting writer -- Joe Bagent. Apparently he grew up in an American religious fundamentalist household and now he writes lengthy but excellent essays about how the fundies are dominating American politics. Here's an excerpt from Joe's essay on What the 'Left Behind' Series Really Means
Just as the propaganda value of associating Jewish people with rats in Nazi Germany helped the German populace accept persecution of the Jews, the Left Behind books foster a morality that excuses horrors done to "non-believers." Forget about sanity and reason. Christian fundamentalist media promotes a hermetic worldview cut off from reason. From the standpoint of those who consume such media messages, it is not so much propaganda as it is an abundant offering so complete as to be a parallel bizzaro world of its own. It gives answers to questions not even asked.
It is a world in which the Secretary General of the United Nations is the anti-Christ (Left Behind) and the "Clinton Crime Family" deals in cocaine and is linked to the Gambino family (Joshua Project, and other sources.) It is one in which abortion doctors are microwaving and eating fetuses according to testimony given by anti-abortionists before a Kansas House subcommittee (WorldNetDaily, of course) and where crowds of good folks get teary-eyed as Rev. Pat Evans, of the NASCAR "Racing for Jesus Ministries’ rumbles onto the track. . . . cultural documents such as Left Behind or the movies Revelations and Passion of the Christ do great harm, and at a critical time when we are facing economic upheaval, fighting illegal wars and suffering deep religious antipathies across the planet. "Aw," my liberal New York and West Coast friends tell me, "That is overstating the case. The Democrats will eventually be back in power." We cannot afford to wait a few more years and see. No matter if the Dems actually can be elected back into powerlessness, they will have needed at least some of these people’s votes to get there. Next election we will find out if it is possible to be elected without the fundamentalist Christians . . . .
Maybe we're seeing this here already.
One of the (many) things that bothers me about Elsie Wayne's Vote Marriage Canada group which is trying to outlaw gay marriage, is the links on their website to right-wing Christian evangelicals and wingnut anti-gay theology
And here's a CTV update on the gay marriage war:
. . . a video from February, 2005, that shows Rondo Thomas, the Conservative candidate for Ajax-Pickering, speaking at a "Defend Marriage," rally outside the office of incumbent Liberal Judy Sgro. During his speech Thomas is unapologetic about his anti same-sex marriage stance, using war-time jargon and talking about "engaging the enemy and going to battle," on the issue of same-sex marriage. "We're looking for your financial support as well as your physical support and your presence at the time the election is called to defeat members of Parliament who will vote for this bill," Thomas said. "And they need to know we are committed to this war, to win it, and we're going to win it for righteousness and morality in our society." Then in a brief interview he explains further. "We cannot change the definition of marriage. The definition of marriage has been in place since Adam and Eve. That's about 6,000 years for those who might not be aware," Thomas said. . . In Saskatchewan, Vote Marriage Canada . . . has endorsed four incumbent Conservative candidates . . . Lynne Yelich, running in Blackstrap riding, Brad Trost in Saskatoon-Humboldt, Carol Skelton in Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, and Maurice Vellacott in Saskatoon-Wanuskewin . . .

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Mulligans 

Does Harper want to backdate us to 1993, so we can declare mulligans on ALL the battles of the last 12 years, and do everything over? Is this what Canadians actually want? So now its not only outlawing same sex marriage and abandoning the daycare plan and reinstating taxes, but now it is also joining the US missile defense, and abandoning Kyoto, and dumping the Kelowna accord:
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is saying 'No' to Kyoto, 'Maybe' to missile defence, and 'Sort of' to aboriginals . . . Harper signalled Thursday that he would turn his back on the Kyoto climate-change accord and renegotiate a recent $5-billion federal-provincial deal with natives. And he left the door open to joining the controversial U.S. missile defence system, while promising to hold a free vote in Parliament before signing on.
So what else will he want to declare a do-over? Even though he says now that he wouldn't do it, will we someday find ourselves "shoulder to shoulder" helping the Americans lose their war in Iraq?

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Gonzo Alert 

Gonzo journalism is when a reporter takes a cheap shot, trying to make a big hairy deal about something stupid.
The last campaign's gonzo story was the journalists bus breaking down after the Normandy commemoration ceremonies in France.
And here is this campaign's gonzo story: Jack Layton had hernia surgery at private clinic. Well, so what? Yes, he should have remembered and mentioned it, but it was a decade ago, long before he was NDP leader.
Doesn't count, guys, sorry.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Tory Cabinet, according to Mercer 

Rick Mercer has some Cabinet suggestions for Stephen Harper, using their own words to demonstrate how profoundly inept and embarassing these CPC caucus members would be in government. You want accountability? Well then, folks, account for all these offensive, meanspirited and untrue statements:
Stockwell Day Minister of Foreign Affairs . . . When he was questioned as to why his party did not offer condolences to the Palestinians when Yasser Arafat died Stock responded by sending out a column by David Frum that speculated that Yasser died of AIDS. With Stock representing Canada on the world stage can Peace in the Middle East be far away?
Jason Kenney Minister of Health . . . "I do support the idea of private health care." - Jason Kenney, Conservative Party critic on Canada-U.S. Relations, October 31st 2000.
Rob Anders Minister of State (Multiculturalism) . . . "Nelson Mandela is a terrorist. '- Rob Anders "Rob is a true reformer and a true conservative. He has been a faithful supporter of mine and I am grateful for his work."- Stephen Harper endorsing . . . Anders
Vic Toews Minister of Justice Vic is the current Justice Critic and he takes the bull by the horns. He believes the notwithstanding clause should be used to override minority rights. He calls it the "ultimate tool" and so it is. The notwithstanding clause can be used to take away the rights of gay people to marry each other or the rights of the Chinese to drive. If you’re white and straight the chance of this being used against you are slim to none. This is for uppity minorities only . . .
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Art Hanger “Immigrants are choking welfare systems, contributing to high unemployment, and many cannot read.”- Conservative MP Art Hanger
Myron Thompson Minister of State (Youth Justice) “Let's lower the age to ten.” - Conservative MP Myron Thompson, commenting on the age at which he believes one should be tried as an adult, at a Vernon, BC meeting.
David Sweet Minister responsible for the Status of Women “There's a particular reason why Jesus called men only. It's not that women aren't co-participators. It's because Jesus knew women would naturally follow. Men, on the other hand, had to be called.” - Conservative Candidate David Sweet former President & CEO of Promise Keepers Canada
Brian Fitzpatrick Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development “You can’t scalp me because I haven’t got much hair on top of my head.” -Conservative Candidate Brian Fitzpatrick
Darrel Reid Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board "I think every Christian's under an obligation to change laws to reflect biblical values. Different Christians are going to try to change different laws, according to the call God gives them. You see Christians in all political parties. That reflects different understandings of what God's call is to us. That's a healthy thing. If the yeast congregates in one part of the loaf, it makes for pretty bad bread." -Conservative Candidate Darrel Reid former president of Focus on The Family Canada
Cheryl Gallant Women’s Caucus Chair “We saw that young American having his head cut off. What's happening, what is happening down there no different.” - Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke) at a 2004 pro-life rally on Parliament Hill, comparing abortion to the beheading of American Nicolas Berg by insurgents in Iraq
Does this collection of right-wing idiots actually represent Canadian values? I would hate to think so.
UPDATE: Oops, sorry -- forgot to credit Paperboy, in the comments, for this link.

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