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Sunday, January 31, 2010

He'll get high with a little help from his friends 

We've see Harper the Kitten Whisperer, then Harper as Mr. Blue Sweater and the Piano Man. Now he's becoming the Great Humanitarian.
But using the world's poor as a photo backdrop to raise poll numbers at home has triggered everyone's gag reflex. And in fact, this might well backfire on Harper if his cabinet uses it to justify CIDA funding for pro-lifers.
Steve V. sums up the issue:
It actually makes you angry on one level, the way this Prime Minister is clearly manipulating genuine human plight for NAKED partisan advantage. That said, I do find it somewhat refreshing that Harper's new projection, the great international humanitarian, is basically going over like a lead balloon, the disconnect so striking to border on embarrassing.. . .
Here's my cynical take on the chronology, which I'd wager is BANG ON.
Serious political problems at home, plummeting support that has sent shock waves through the PMO, completely derailing their ENTIRE winter and spring strategy, which was supposed to set the stage for electoral bliss. In the midst of the hammering the Conservatives were taking, a natural disaster occurred. The government responded with opportunistic zeal (I'm sure there was a genuine component, but only a fool doesn't consider "the wheels turning" in the PMO), high profile photo ops, swamping the media, seeing this event as the channel changer they desperately wanted.
The PMO saw the positive press for their Haiti response, which SUDDENLY produced this epiphany- we can re brand this Prime Minister as a humanitarian, taking a lead on the world stage, an advocate for the disadvantaged. Never mind, that all policies to date either contradicted the new messaging and/or demonstrated COMPLETE AND UTTER INDIFFERENCE, the PMO plowed ahead with the notion, cobbling together new initiatives. It was all political calculus, but this PMO believe if you say it, they will come, any level of true historical inspection a temporary obstacle.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Curiouser and curiosier 

Four wingnuts wearing phone company costumes were arrested the other day for trying to bug the offices of Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu.
Stupid, huh? When a Landrieu staffer asked for their ID, they said they left it in the truck.
The U.S. Marshal's Service apprehended all four men shortly thereafter.
Now they're saying they were actually just trying to investigate whether her phones were busy or not.
Well, this explanation makes even less sense.
I smell a barking fish here, or a smoking gun or something.
Initially, all the attention was focused on James O'Keefe, the guy who played a pimp to sting ACORN last year. And the news stories also mentioned Robert Flanagan, 24, who is the son of the acting US attorney for the Western District of Louisana.
Blogger Lindsay Beyerstein has pieced together some background on another of the gang that couldn't bug straight

One Stan Dai was listed as the Assistant Director of the The Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence (ICCAE) at Trinity (Washington) University. . . . Stan Dai spoke about torture and terrorism last June at a "CIA day" organized by the Junior Statesmen Summer School at Georgetown. The program included a field trip to the CIA and lectures at Georgetown the next day, according this event program I found online. As we know, Dai served as the assistant director of a program dedicated to steering young people into careers in intelligence. Get this: according to the flier, Adam Brandon, the press secretary of FreedomWorks (Dick Armey's town hall mob outfit) was on the same program.
. . . Prior to that, he served as the Operations Officer of a Department of Defense irregular warfare fellowship program.


And the plot sickens. A commenter at Emptywheel's post on this issue says:
Dai’s co-conspirator Flanagan was on a similar track.
Flanagan’s resume indicates he is enrolled at the Missouri State University’s Department of Defense and Strategic Studies. This curious institution is in Fairfax, VA (not in Missouri). It is headed by William Van Cleave, another neocon figure (a member of Wolfowitz’ Team B!). It graduates 15 people a year. And it is next door to NIPP (National Institute of Public Policy).
In a later post, Beyerstein digs into Flanagan's resume a little more -- turns out he has interned for two Republican politicians and claimed that he "briefed legislative staff on areas of national security and international relations."
So these guys have spent years thinking of themselves as intelligence operatives and national security experts.
This makes even more ridiculous the explanation of the incident as an investigation of busy phones.
Does anyone remember how low-level the Watergate burglars were, and how stupid the whole thing appeared to be at first?
I'm just sayin...

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Give it back to Steve Fonyo 



Rev. Paperboy calls bullshit to the decision to take away Steve Fonyo's Order of Canada and so do I:
I still think this is unfair, hypocritical and just plain mean-spirited. . . .Admittedly Fonyo has not led an exemplary life since he was awarded the Order at age 18, but he was not given the award for the life he was going to lead or for his ongoing contributions to Canada - he was given the award for finishing what Terry Fox started, running across the country on an artificial leg to raise awareness of and money for cancer research.
And if getting into legal trouble or behaving disreputably is grounds for rescinding this award, the Rev. asks, what about Conrad Black and Garth Drabinsky, not to mention the former Prime Minister who accepted envelopes of cash in hotel rooms?

UPDATE: And Guy Lafleur was convicted of perjury last year.

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Just for fun 

A peculiar but compelling countdown


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Great line of the day 

Andrew Sullivan writes a profound post about Obama's State of the Union speech and what it means for the future of the United States:
I've lived in Washington for twenty years. I saw in Obama the real hope that something constructive could emerge from the corruption and decline of the recent past. I saw last night the civil tone that marks a responsible politics, rather than the glib cynicism and mock heroism that has marked us in much of the new millennium . . .
Last night, I saw one of the few men left able to see the depth of the crisis and not lose faith in this country's ability to overcome it.
Emphasis mine.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

"You're from the 60s!" 

I've always regretted that they had to call the reclusive author in Field of Dreams "Terrence Mann" instead of J.D. Salinger, though having him played by James Earl Jones instead of, say, Dennis Hopper, was what made that movie.
Anyway, I love this scene in particular, and always thought this was likely what J.D. Salinger would have said, too -- "Oh my God, you're from the 60s! Out, back to the 60s, back!"



Who knows, maybe he did actually say this to W.P. Kinsella.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dirty Harry meets Rain Man 

xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language - By Randall Munroe


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Monday, January 25, 2010

Democrats on parade 

I can't tell you how pissed off I am at the gutless congessional democrats who are scurrying away from health care reform as fast as their little feet can scamper.
Here's their plan for the nine months, until the midterm elections:
1. Do nothing controversial anymore
2. Blame Republicans for nothing getting done.
They don't have a plan for the nine months after that, because these lucky duckies might well lose their majority in the House, and they won't have to worry about governing anymore.
Then the Republicans will get to spend the next two years holding hearings on Obama's birth certificate.
I can hardly wait.
So right now we're still reading about all sorts of magic pony 11-dimensional chess scenarios from the progressive blogs as they frantically try to save the democrats from themselves.
The latest is to get 51 Senators to pass a reconciliation bill to revise the worst features of the health care reform plan that very same Senate voted to support a month ago, and then the House is supposed to vote in favour of both the Senate bill and the bill that guts it. And thusly, health care reform will be achieved!!
Yeah, that'll happen.

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Pathetic 

This is laughable -- Jane Taber reports on the list of Conservative activities today which supposedly demonstrate just how darned busy the Cons are, working for Canadians.
And just about all of the 30 or so events listed are variations on ministerial press conferences, the type of event which could easily have been scheduled anytime in the last week or the next -- and would have been, if the Commons had actually been open as scheduled.
How dumb do they think we are?

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

"No to perogie" protest 

25,000.
That's the estimate of how many Canadians gathered on a cold and snowy Saturday to protest Harper's prorogue of Parliament. Here are some photos from today's protest across Canada

Vancouver


Toronto




Ottawa


Edmonton - home of the "no to perogie" sign


Saskatoon

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoon 

And now for something completely different: A History of Evil by Norweigian animator Ole Magnus Saxegård


h/t Drawn.

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Not a throwdown 

Not a throwdown this week with POGGE -- just me chiming in with another Kate and Anna McGarrigle song, the Log Driver's Waltz

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Saskatchewan anti-prorogue rallies on Saturday 



Just checked and Google lists more than 2,000 news stories about Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament, including lots about the protests tomorrow.
Regardless of how the Cons keep trying to spin this prorogue as routine and no big deal, my son points out that Harper himself changed the meaning of prorogation in Canada when he used it last December to save his government. Reap what you sow, hoist by his own petard, and all that.
Here's a neat map of all of the anti-prorogue rallies tomorrow -- there's even going to be one at Trafalgar Square in London.
Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament posts this information about Saskatchewan rallies on Saturday:
SASKATOON, SK RALLY
Date: Saturday, January 23
Time: 1:00 pm local time
Location: City Hall
RALLY PLANNING GROUP
http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=264977381210

PRINCE ALBERT, SK
Date: Saturday, January 23
Time: 1:30 pm
Location: PA Union Centre, 107-8th St. E.
co-sponsored by the Prince Albert Chapter of The Council of Canadians and the PA and District Labour Council

REGINA, SK
RALLY
Date: Saturday, January 23
Time: 1:00 pm
Location: Scarth Street Mall
RALLY PLANNING GROUP
http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=253266656648

By the way, the group now has more than 210,000 members. Considering how derisive some of the Cons were when the group first started, what occurs to me is "Some chicken. Some neck."
And in other news, the Liberals are giving grades to various damage control strategies being tried by Conservative MPs. Here's one that got an "A":
Conservative MP Ed Holder picked his constituents’ most frequent complaints for his “Holder’s Happenings” newsletter, including:
* “This is a dictatorial Prime Minister. MPs aren’t allowed to speak their mind. Why did he do this?”
* “What happens to Bills now before Parliament?”
* “You’ve shut down democracy. What’s not getting done in Ottawa?”
* “This just gives MPs more vacation!”
* “Won’t you be using this time to go to the Olympics?” and,
* “You don’t work if you’re not in Ottawa.”
Oh, I'll bet the Tory spin doctors are pretty pissed off about that.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Great line of the day 


Jon Chait tells the democrats don't panic!
The difference between the parties is that Republicans ignore the establishment’s advice. After Obama’s election, conventional wisdom insisted that the GOP would have to move to the center. Instead the party moved further right. And whatever the policy merits, it has worked politically. If Republicans had cooperated more with Obama, it would have given him bipartisan accomplishments and made him even more popular.
The GOP’s ability to ignore establishment nostrums in the face of defeat is its great electoral strength. Democrats, by contrast, have a congenital tendency to panic. Abandoning health care reform after they’ve already paid whatever political cost that comes from voting for it in both houses would be suicide. Even if Coakley loses, the House could pass the Senate bill as is, avoiding the need to break a filibuster, and tinker with it in a reconciliation bill that can’t be filibustered. The only thing preventing the Democrats from following through would be sheer panic.
Emphasis mine.
However, as I predicted, House Democrats are already backing away from health care reform --- cowards! I just hope calmer heads will prevail.
Along those lines, Josh Marshall lays down the challenge for Obama:
This is the biggest testing time the president has yet faced. It could be a key turning point in his presidency. Over the next forty-eight hours the president is going to come under withering pressure to walk away from reform. It'll come from the left and the right, and in various different flavors. It will come from shocking directions. The president is going to have to find a way to say, No. We're doing this. He'll need to stand down a lot of cowardly and foolish people in his own party. He'll have to stand down the vast and formless force of establishment punditry and just say, No. We're going to do this. And he's going to have to make the case to the public, not necessarily convince all those who have doubts about health care reform but make clear that he thinks this is the right direction for the country and because he thinks it's the right thing to do that he's going to make it happen.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Dream on, FDL 

Jon Walker at Firedoglake writes
If Coakley loses in Massachusetts, I don’t see how health care reform passes without reviving reconciliation, and, by default, the public option.

These people are really living in a dreamworld if they think a Democratic loss in Massacheusetts would lead to a positive result for health care reform in the United States.
If Coakley loses, then health care reform in the United States doesn't pass at all.
Thanks to the teaparty wingnuts last summer and the progressive push-back this winter, reform is already barely alive now. Reid and Pelosie stitched together a very small majority to pass what they have got now.
If Coakley loses, her loss will be blamed on HCR and the whole initiative will again be radioactive for your Democratic politicians. The talking heads would talk about nothing else for the next two weeks except for how foolish Democrats would be to continue with such a loser initiative, so bad that it will cause even the bluest of the blue states to vote against a Democrat. So then the Democrats in the House and in the Senate will be too scared to pass any health bill at all -- not the Senate bill, not reconciliation, nothing.
Bye-bye health care reform.

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Another throwdown 

In response to POGGE's Friday night
post, here's mine -- sort of the same words for different music.






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Sunday, January 17, 2010

1000 words 



The Globe and Mail uses the photo to illustrate Gerald Caplan's article about Harper's ideological, incompetent government. It captures Caplan's message perfectly:
. . . Here is a government, from its head down, that practices ignorance-based public policy. Huge areas of the human condition go completely unrecognized – AIDS, global warming, Africa, to name only a few. . . . This is a prime minister who is single-handedly reversing Canada's stellar reputation (too often vastly overrated, I'm afraid) around the world. I've just come from Africa, and I promise you this is no exaggeration.
It's also bizarre in Harper's own terms. He's dying to have Canada elected a temporary member of the Security Council when a rotating seat opens later this year. (What Harper's Canada could possibly bring to the Council except deep-rooted ignorance and sophomoric prejudices is beyond understanding.) Yet he has actively alienated countries all over the world by his various vindictive acts – such as cutting off aid to African countries, refusing grants to widely respected Canadian NGOs, copping out on climate change.
This is a prime minister who knows little about many subjects and feels passionately about them all – the Middle East, international development, the entire Canadian criminal justice system. This is a prime minister who looks at a complex, nuanced, interconnected world and sees only simple black and white . . .

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I love the Internets 

Where else would you get a bunch of average-type non-academic people discussing the Black Death and its impact on world history on a Saturday afternoon?

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Busking 

In tribute to RossK and his girls who are starting the year of busking dangerously:


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Saturday Morning Cartoon 

I have probably posted this before but here it is again anyway inspired by the boss's assertion that bullfights aren't funny.


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Friday, January 15, 2010

Photo opportunity 

If Stephen Harper is just trying to use the Haiti tragegy to get his picture into the paper his staff aren't doing a particularly good job.
Here's three terrible photos now posted to the Yahoo news photo gallery:


"Canada's Governor General Michaelle Jean (L) and Prime Minister Stephen Harper attend a briefing session with senior officials regarding Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti, in Ottawa January 13, 2010. .... REUTERS/Blair Gable"


"Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper pauses while speaking to journalists after making a donation to the Canadian Red Cross as aid for the Haiti earthquake in Ottawa January 14, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Watti"


"Prime Minister Stephen Harper talks to reporters as his wife Laureen looks on after they made a donation to the Red Cross towards the earthquake disaster in Haiti, in Ottawa on Thursday, January 14, 2010.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand"

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Shorter 


Shorter Stephen Harper:
Whoops, I've done it again!
(HT for the cartoon.)

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti 

This is a ray of hope: Canada rushes aid to Haiti
“It's an enormous disaster in a country that can't afford such a disaster, that already has terrible problems,” Mr. Harper said. “Our hearts are with all of them. I can assure you that we are acting as quickly and as comprehensively as we can.”
Watching the NBC coverage, Brian Williams was on the Haiti airport tarmac and he was talking about a Canadian airplane behind him -- it was great to see the Harper government moving so quickly to try to help.
And DART has already been mobilized. It was a week after the South Asia tsunami in 2004 before Martin decided to send DART to help, and I thought at the time we waited way too long.

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Smokin' makes you feel good 



My response to the story about how smoking helps people feel better is "D'uh!"
Of course it does. Why else would people smoke?
My sister, who never smoked, asked me once why I did, and she was surprised when I told her, because I like it. Theoretically, of course, she knew that nicotine is a drug, she had just never quite realized that the reason smoking is addictive is that it makes you feel good to smoke.
I finally quit four years ago, with help from Zyban -- I would never have made it without this drug. I know, I know, it was just substituting one drug for another, but I had quit before, for three months or six months, and always started again. In some weird way, I think, I needed to re-boot my brain so that I didn't need that smoking boost anymore to feel "normal". And I've been smoke-free ever since, even when I'm around smokers.
Knock on wood -- I make sure I always remember that I could get hooked again in a new york minute if I ever have another cigarette.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Torch relay 

Here are some of the videos posted now on YouTube about the torch relay going through Saskatchewan.

A torch exchange in Regina:


Greeted by thousands at the riverbank in Saskatoon:


The torch enters Osler, Sask:


And gets to Prince Albert

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Don't it always seem to go 

You know, it seems like every time I hear on the radio that the gas prices are going up, I'm sucking fumes and then I have to fill up at the higher price.
But I finally won one -- I just bought 10 stamps on Saturday and now stamp prices are going up 3 cents.
So I am ahead by 30 cents.
Whoopsie do!

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Kennedy's seat 

Wouldn't it be tragic if Kennedy's Senate seat is won by a Republican, thus killing health care reform in the United States, the goal Kennedy fought for all his life?

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Shorter 

Shorter Norman Spector
Chretien did something wrong 14 years ago, so the Liberals have no right now to complain about anything Harper ever does!
Sorry Norman, but the statute of limitations has now expired on the Chretien government. Its up to Harper now to take responsibility for what he is doing.

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Something to hide 

Oh, snap!
The Liberals are building an attack-ad campaign around a "something to hide" theme.
This will be a very strong campaign, I think, because it plays into a larger theme of Harper as untrustworthy for Canada.




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The flame in Regina 

And here is the news about the flame in Regina.




Regina turned Victoria Avenue into the world's longest shinny game to greet the torch.
Here's what some of the torchbearers said about their experience:
With a mile-wide grin and hoisting her Olympic torch high, 18-year-old University of Regina student Callie Morris waved her red-mittened-hand to the masses gathered before lighting the cauldron just after 7 p.m. to cheers. “Stick with what you love,” she told the crowd at the torch celebration. Morris, a hockey and baseball player and wrestler, added that because she “stuck” with sports, she was able to be an Olympic torchbearer.. . .
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown...carried it briefly into Mosaic Stadium, home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. “There’s a sense of pride whenever we wear our red serge and you get to represent your country, but to do it in this fashion, tonight and with the troops behind us — unreal,” Brown said . . .
...a number of the torchbearers...became instant celebrities as spectators lined up to touch their torch or get a photograph with its bearer.
Kim Smith ... recalled attending an event about six years ago where Olympic gold-winning curler Joan McCusker... placed her gold medal around Smith’s neck. That “unbelievable” experience inspired Smith to take up running. In the last three years, she’s run two half-marathons and plans to run another this year. When she was handed the torch, “your heart gets so big, so overwhelmed to carry a flame that’s going to end up in Vancouver,” said Smith, who was glad to be “a tiny part of history.”
Rick Minett, who was a torchbearer in Melville earlier in the day, was also a torchbearer for the 1988 Olympics where he had a spot in the relay in Toronto. “It’s like getting struck by lightening,” . . . said Minett, who competed in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii this fall. Minett was particularly proud of how the torch event united Canadians.
An hour after Morris lit the cauldron, the flame was placed in a lantern to continue its journey, and fireworks erupted behind the stage. As music blared and fireworks lit up the sky, Bana Goldsmith stood waving a large Canadian flag tied to a hockey stick, that he used earlier to play in the world’s longest shinny game in downtown Regina. “I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks,” he said.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

The torch relay is almost here 



The Olympic torch is coming to light up Saskatoon as well as Moosimin, Yorkton, Melville, Fort Qu"Appelle, Regina, Moose Jaw, CFB Moose Jaw, Caronport, Mortlach, Morse, Herbert, Swift Current, Kyle, Elrose, Rosetown, Delisle, Vanscoy, Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Warman, Osler, Hague, Rosthern, Duck Lake, Prince Albert, North Battleford, Battleford, Saulteaux First Nation, Cochin, Maidstone, Lashburn, Marshall and Lloydminster.
Part of the celebration in Saskatoon will be a local show:
The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) requested 50 minutes of local entertainment, and organizers have worked for 11 months to provide it, commissioning a new work by Dance Saskatchewan to weave it together . . .Dance Saskatchewan worked with different cultural groups to create a narrative incorporating Saskatoon's culture and history and pay tribute to the province's athletes
If I can find a video of the performance next week I will post it.

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Skipping the lines 

I was checking out some air flight costs the other day and found that the airlines have increased their nickle-and-dimeing for seat selection, extra bags, special lounges, meals and all that.
So here comes this story about Halle Berry jumping the security line at the Montreal airport and it contained this interesting nugget:
Sometimes celebrities are charged a fee to be escorted.
Really? You mean if I paid an extra fee, I could jump to the head of the security line at the airport? Now that might be worth paying extra for!

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Double whammy 

It's starting to heat up now: Majority condemn Harper move, poll finds and Influential British magazine slams Harper's suspension of Parliament.
Here's the money quote from the Economist:
Harper may in fact be correct that "Canadians care more about the luge than the legislature, but that is surely true only while their decent system of government is in good hands. They may soon conclude that it isn't."
And by the way, in the last three days, membership in the Facebook group Canadians Against Proroging Parliament has increased to 100,000.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Lunching with the losers 

So Stephen Harper paid former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer close to $50,000 and one of the things Ari did was to arrange salon-type events last spring where Harper met with Washington Post and Wall Street Journal columnists Charles Krauthammer, David Frum, Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, Anne Applebaum, senior editors Fred Barnes and William Kristol, talk-radio host Laura Ingraham, as well as Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch.
Boris sums up what Canadians got for their money:
. . . the PMO paid Ari a whack of tax payer dollars so Harper could hang-out with the propaganda-mongers of the side that LOST the last US election?

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Great line of the day 

Nancy Nall writes about positive thinking:
Opti­mism has its place in the world. But it’s one of those things it’s prob­a­bly best to keep to your­self some­times, too. Espe­cially when you’re not the one hav­ing chemo.

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Do your duty 

This is pure speculation on my part -- doing actual research would ruin my amateur standing, after all -- but I think in the secret heart of this Canada of ours, deep down where people really live, we are getting mad at Stephen Harper.
He isn't doing his job.
And Canadians don't like it when people don't do their job.
Sure, the syncopates in the press gallery can bow and scrape about how "devilishly clever" Harper was prorogue Parliament last week, but Canadians are not impressed with tricky word games. We will tolerate a lot from our politicians in Ottawa -- late lunches and long weekends and summer-time junkets -- but there is a limit. Canadians won't tolerate politicians who think it should be routine to pay themselves for not working.
Sure, we are distracted by hockey and the Olympics, sure we're digging out from snowstorms and thinking about house prices and jobs. That's why the reaction is taking a little time to build up.
But I do believe it is building now.
Now we're wondering why we have to line up along highways to watch more bodies come home while cabinet ministers refuse to answer questions about Afghan prisoners.
We're wondering why the Harper Conservatives kept telling us how damned important their crime bills are and then blithely ditch them because they're trying to save themselves a little embarrassment.
We're wondering why the Harper Conservatives pontificated last spring about how damned necessary it was for Canada to have a steady hand managing the economy, but they don't seem to be capable of getting things done and then they blithely throw the government into chaos by another prorogue.
Newspapers across the country have published editorials and more editorials and letters to the editor about Harper's contempt for democracy. I've been reading some great posts on the progressive blogs, too -- here and here, and here, and here, and everything here . The Facebook group Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament now has more than 53,000 members -- I think about 30,000 joined just today. Rallies across the country are being organized for Saturday, Jan 23.
The Liberals are now trying to catch the wave -- Scott reports tonight that Liberal MPs will be coming back to Ottawa on January 25 to demonstrate to Canadians that at least some politicians are working.
Rick Mercer sums up why Canadians are getting angry:
...This prime minister has gone from the promise of an open, accessible and accountable government to a government that is simply closed.
It is too bad that prorogation isn't something that our soldiers have in their arsenal. When faced with the order to head out on a foot patrol in the Panjwaii district of southern Afghanistan, to risk their lives to bring democracy to that place, wouldn't it be nice if they could simply prorogue and roll over and go back to sleep. Soldiers don't get that luxury. That is afforded only to the people who ultimately order them to walk down those dangerous dusty roads in the first place.
HT to Alison.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Next year country 

Great game



except for the last three seconds.


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Sunday, January 03, 2010

US housing market 

Sounds like the US housing market is still awful, at least in some places -- Las Vegas prices are down 54 Per cent from the peak, though Dallas prices are down only about 5 per cent from their highest.
Needless to say, this is not good news for Canada's forest industry.
Here's a New York Times story about recent events in the Florida community of Cape Coral, where a third of the 65,000 homes are affected by foreclosures.
. . . the fable [was] that waterfront living beyond winter’s reach exerts such a powerful pull that it justifies almost any price for housing [which] propelled the orgy of borrowing, investing and flipping that dominated life here and in other places where January doesn’t include a snow blower.
. . . speculators had simply been selling to other speculators, making the real estate market look like a Ponzi scheme. The ensuing crash was breathtaking. By the winter of 2007, median housing prices in Cape Coral and the rest of Lee County had fallen to about $215,000, down from a high of $278,000 in 2005. By October 2009, they had fallen to near $92,000.
Somewhere on that long, steep downhill path, what was once portrayed here as a momentary if wrenching setback seeped into the community’s bones, embedding lowered expectations and fear.
Here's a cartoon that sums up the blame game now underway


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Stand by me 

Just a musical interlude, from Playing For Change | Peace Through Music


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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Answers 

John Cole asks:
...will people a hundred years from now look back on the way we treat homosexuals ... the same way that you and I look back on women’s suffrage - sort of a stunned disbelief at the way women were treated
Yes.

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