Sunday, November 30, 2008

Knives out

The Maple Syrup Coalition isn't even formally announced yet and the knives are out for Harper. He is going to experience the reality of Conservative loyalty, AKA "those who live by the sword..."

The Maple Syrup Revolution

Skdadl calls this the Maple Syrup Revolution.
So we could call the Conservative exit "sugaring off"?

Absolutely correct

Curiosity Cat says it's time to clear the air:
. . . if Ignatieff or Rae or Lebanc oppose any reasonable coalition terms which will allow a progressive government to replace the Tories next week, then they will not – repeat not – become leader of the Liberal Party. Liberals will rise up in wrath against any candidate who spoils this chance to install a government which will work with the other two opposition parties to protect Canadians against the gathering storm of the recession.

They're baaaak!

NDP, Liberals reach deal to topple minority Tory government
Wow! I guess they'll just be waiting now for a chance to vote.
I've been reading comments to the effect that Alberta should not interpret this as an attempt by Quebec and Ontario to reassert themselves and to dictate the national agenda again.
And basically I would agree, in that the regional component, so far at least, has not been a deciding factor in the drama of the last few days.
But I wonder if there might turn out to be a some truth to it, in this sense:
A few weeks ago, Ontario was deeply, deeply upset when they became a "have-not" province in terms of Canadian equalization formulas. To those of us who live in provinces whose economies ebb and flow, the degree of angst we heard from Ontario was surprising. Radio hosts were babbling, and op-ed writers were outraged -- it seemed like Ontario thought the sky was falling, and the rightful and natural order of the universe had been overturned.
So it was in this context that Harper produced his contemptuous, insulting, do-nothing economic statement, demonstrating he could care less about Central Canada's economic troubles. And thus he made it much, much easier for Ontario and Quebec to support the return of the Liberals to power.

They aren't impressed

Over at Macleans blog there is a post by Aaron Wherry titled Eulogy for a government? and the first comment is this one:
I donated 1000 dollars to the Conservative Party of Canada this year, and 400 to my local campaign.
What has transpired in the last 72 hours has absolutely disgusted and disillusioned me. At the first Conservative Party Convention (in what seems like a lifetime ago), we were told, and told each other that we would do it better than the other guys. Accountable government, no tricks, no slimy games, just good governance and a United Right.
We, the grassroots of the CPoC have told ourselves that the compromises in policy were simply a temporary condition necessary to achieve power.
We the grassroots of the CPoC told ourselves that the misgivings of this government in its campaign spending, were simply trumped up allegations, created by vengeful officials at elections Canada and members of the left wing media.
We the grassroots of the CPoC turned a blind eye when government grew under Harper, not shrank as promised.
We of the grassroots watched with awe as the facade finally came crashing down this thursday, and the people we placed in power, were exposed as lying, conniving, inept opportunists, just as bad as the people we removed from power 3 years ago.
I will never donate or volunteer on a campaign so long as Stephen Harper is the leader of the Conservative Party.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanks, Steve

If there is one thing which threatens a continuation of the PC-Reform coalition government, it is a Liberal-NDP coalition government.
Because more Canadians actually voted for the Liberals and NDP than for the PC-Reform.
So what is the first thing the new Harper minority government does?
Introduce a so-called economic plan so inadequate, callous, cynical and ideologically rigid that the Liberals and the NDP are now on the brink of creating a coalition government.
Thanks, Steve -- there was no way these folks were going to get together otherwise!
The Conservatives made the classic mistake of thinking that the other parties were just like them -- short-sighted, partisan, and incapable of taking any action that would serve the best interests of the country rather than the party. Now the Cons are gobsmacked - and it couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.
Here's the buzz tonight -- Far and Wide writes:
There will either be more concessions from the Conservatives, namely a serious stimulus package, or we will see a coalition government that introduces exactly that. Despite the rather feeble spin attempts by Conservatives and their reeling supporters, you've already lost, it's just a matter of who makes the ultimate call.
Glen writes:
For a man who, until recently, made everything into a confidence motion to strong-arm his way through Parliament, this has to be one of the most humiliating and cowardly things he's ever done.
Aaron writes:
There are 305 elected members in the House of Commons. In our democracy, you either find the support of more than half of those elected representatives to form a government and pass legislation or you do not and are defeated. There is not a lot of ambiguity about that.
You have to work with the other parties in a minority. Harper chose not to. What I find bizarre about all this is: the Conservatives seem surprised.
WesternGrit writes
It will get ugly, but we need to fight back.
67% of the Country didn't vote Conservative, and now they are ALL uniting together to overthrow Harper who is only a small angry minority. Canadians are speaking through their MPs - which is the way a Parliamentary democracy works.
This is not the American Republic - where the President rules... The elected MPs ARE THE PEOPLE, and they are speaking.
Dawg writes
By forcing a coalition dialogue to happen, Harper let the genie out of the bottle. Coalition talk has its own momentum. It takes a major event to bring feuding parties into alignment. A threat to their survival is one of those events that can trigger new ways of thinking. Now anything is possible. A paradigm shift is taking place right before our eyes.
The potential here is simply enormous--as are the risks.
Yappa sums it up:
Pressured by the IMF, OECD, APEC, G7 and G20, among others, to join the rest of the world's wealthy countries in addressing the economic meltdown, and facing increasing domestic pressure to ease the recession, the PM attempted a risky ploy: an economic statement that combined a refusal to create a stimulus package with an unrelated announcement that he was cutting all funding to the country's political parties, thus bankrupting every party but his own.
The ploy was evidently intended to tie the hands of Canada's other political parties by making opposition seem self-interested.
Counting on the Official Opposition to be ineffective until they select a new leader, expected in May of 2009, the Prime Minister underestimated the will of all opposition parties to stand up to him.
It can now be seen that the PM made a grave tactical error. Canadians are already suffering from the recession, still in its first quarter, and quickly turned on a government that refuses to lift a hand to help them. The opposition speaks for all its constituents when it says that the government must fall and a coalition must take its place. The man who staged a successful hostile takeover of one of Canada's founding parties, a man long known as one of Canada's craftiest politicos, is poised to be toppled.
Ian Welsh writing at POGGE looks at the long view:
Harper's strength last election was primarily in two places: the praires and non-urban southern Ontario. Oil is going to drop below 50 dollars soon, when it does the oil sands in Alberta are going to become unprofitable and the good times in Harper's western base will end. Likewise, southern Ontario has been taking it on the chin for sometime, and no matter what happens to Detroit, that's not going to end. While Alberta will vote Conservative no matter how bad things get, the rest of the prairies are not nearly so dedicated, and southern Ontario might well remember that the Liberal party was much better for them than the Conservatives, who have refused to do anything meaningful to help Canadian manufacturing.
If the Liberals and NDP decide to do this, then, they have to be in it for the long term—they need to expect to govern for at least four years. An election in the middle of the recession will doom then, they have to put in place policies to get through the recession and out the other side, or they will be slaughtered.
If they are willing to work together, are willing to commit to stick this out for four years, then they should grasp the nettle and defeat the Tories.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

How stupid does Harper think we are?

Harper thinks that he can get us to focus on the party funding issue, so nobody will notice that he doesn't know what is he doing when it comes to the economy.
Well, its not going to work. We actually can walk and chew gum at the same time, and we know when we're being flim-flammed:
The true horror wasn’t in the let’s-pretend numbers contained in the much-dreaded fiscal update from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Those were fluffed to give the delusion of deficit-free, rising-revenue fiscal stability, subject to so much imminent change as to be almost meaningless.
It’s the nightmarish aftershock from a sneaky, ill-timed, irresponsible government move to eliminate the $1.95 annual per-vote public subsidy to political parties which, given the united lineup of opposition parties that instantly formed Thursday, sets up Canada for another federal election.
And NabWeekly makes a good point -- the people who are being penalized by the Cons political funding bait-and-switch plan are the Canadians who did NOT vote Conservative in the election:
Isn’t it just like the Conservative government to use the world’s and Canada’s financial crisis to undermine Canadians who didn’t vote Conservative but voted Liberal, NDP, and the Bloq . . .When you tally up the Canadians who didn’t vote for Conservatives in my opinion tells us the majority of Canadians didn’t want a Harper government. Taking away funding to other political parties that Canadians taxpayer money goes towards is just a fiscal farce to gain strength in the Conservative Party for fear of his defeat.


Yes, I agree with what Steve says.
I can't pretend to have studied Michael Ignatieff as much as Steve has.
But I do believe that Ignatieff will be the leader that Canada needs -- particularly now when the 2009 Depression will give the Conservatives the excuse to try to jettison our important social programs.
Ignatieff will be able to convince Canadians to vote for him because he will articulate a vision for Canada and engage Canadians to support it. Ignatieff can, I think, "close the deal" with Canada.
It was this basic task, I am sorry to say, that Stephane Dion never was able to achieve.
I was one of those who believed two years ago that Michael Ignatieff didn't deserve the leadership of the Liberal party because he hadn't worked hard enough or long enough for it. Now, I believe, he has. He has proven his capacity to grow, and this has enhanced his ability to lead.
I was also one of those who questioned Iggy's judgment in supporting the Iraq war. But as Steve explains it:
. . . Unlike the neocons, unlike Harper, Ignatieff had INTIMATE understanding of Iraq, he knew the Kurds and Shia, he worked within the human rights horror that was the Saddam regime. Ignatieff's view started with a consideration of human rights abuse, it wasn't about oil or some misguided militarism, so we can rightly look at his perspective in a different light. Was Ignatieff right in his view? Obviously not, from my point of view, but that rejection also allows for a consideration as to the thinking, there was actually a noble thought process at the core, even if misguided. When Ignatieff admits a mistake, I take him at his word, and we move forward.
Yes, I agree.
So now Scott can add me to his list of Ignatieff supporters: Confessions Of A Liberal Mind, Far and Wide,, Keith Torrie Today, Life In Moderation, Pierre Trudeau Is My Homeboy, Queer-Liberal, Random Noise, The Progressive Right,, A BCer in Toronto.
I'm in good company!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

OK, then, let's change political party funding!

So the Cons are trying to undermine Canadian democracy and screw the opposition parties at the same time? Sounds like another Ryan Sparrow Special to me.
Maybe the Cons think they can force another election because they just don't know what to do about the Canadian economy. And before they have to battle the resurgent Liberals under Michael Ignatieff.
I think the opposition parties should call their bluff -- they should bring in a private members bill to rescind the 2003 Act which restricted corporate and union donations to parties in exchange for the public financing formula.
And they should pass it, quick.
After all, the Conservatives should welcome this, shouldn't they? It would save the taxpayers soooo much money!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Great line of the day

From Ian Welsh in Welcome To A Paper Economy:
. . . welcome to a paper money economy, where the wheelbarrows of virtual cash are trundling straight from the Fed and Treasury to the banks, to disappear into a bottomless hole.
Yes, I had wondered about this, too -- as Welsh points out, all of these supposed billions aren't actually helping the economy stabilize or improve.
I believe we are seeing another Emperor- has- no- clothes situation -- remember when Karl Rove was going to manage the rebuilding of New Orleans? Well, that's about how well Paulson is managing the rebuilding of the economy. I heard Rachel Maddow joke yesterday, "300 billion, 600 billion, gee, soon we're going to be talking about real money!" Yeah, any day now.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This just in

Vatican forgives John Lennon for Jesus quip. Next, they're going to endorse those new-fangled horseless carriages...

I just looked around and he's gone

I was in Grade Nine and I hardly knew who John F. Kennedy was, but I walked into the school and saw an American girl crying her eyes out. And then a boy said "Kennedy has been shot!"
I didn't realize then how much our world had changed, but Taylor Marsh describes what happened next:
Everything was different after President Kennedy died.
The American world that won WWII came apart.
The unraveling led to 50,000 dead in Vietnam, a war begun before J.F.K. that he escalated, but would likely have finished if he'd lived. The illegal bombings of Cambodia and Nixon’s perversion of secret leadership that would be the catapult for Rumsfeld and Cheney's design on the presidency we see today. The coming out of American culture, to Reaganism, Allende, Iran-contra and the secret coups, and the casualties of the culture war: two generations of gay men dead; leading to the Republican fixation with Middle East deliverance, the stalking of a Democrat president, to the attack on 9.11 that led to the rebirth of the notion that we can trust our government, because in the end we must... which led us back to foreign dangers of “urgent” threat and “mushroom clouds,” harking back to THAT TIME, only this time we were led by lies, warnings and threat levels that led us into a preemptive war in which we have lost our national soul.
The national soul embodied in the memory of the image of a youthful, vigorous and valiant J.F.K. Who, even though we now know was merely a mortal man, deathly ill, with addictions and predilections, we still mourn. Because he was the leader with passion, persistence and purpose, who when he spoke inspired us to close our eyes and imagine the impossible. A man who guided this nation at a time in history when war was the easy way out, but who instead found a way to preserve the peace.
Nothing was ever the same after J.F.K. died.

Why Harper called the election

Steve at Far and Wide highlights the story behind the story of coming Canadian deficit budgets:
There is one line from Budget Officer Kevin Page's fiscal report that Liberals should repeat ad nauseum, over and over again:
"The weak fiscal performance to date is largely attributable to previous policy decisions as opposed to weakened economic conditions," the report says.

And that, my friends, is why the Cons rushed to the polls in October. Before the rest of us found out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Say it ain't so

Someday the Democrats will learn the rules:
Never play cards with any man named "Doc."
Never eat at any place called "Mom's".
And quit dissing your own supporters.
Because, you know, next time they can vote for someone else.

Thanks, Tommy

Well, I just spent an exciting evening in the emergency room with my elderly aunt, who had fallen and they wondered whether she broke a bone -- turns out she didn't, but they are keeping her in hospital for a few days anyway until she can walk better -- and it was worth every penny.
No, I'm not being snarky. There's a popular misconception, of course, that Canadian health care is "free", that we aren't paying anything for it. But of course we ARE paying for it, thousands of dollars a year from our income taxes.
And yes, it actually is worth it. My aunt and the doctors and her family were able to make decisions about her care based on what was best for her, not based on what we could afford or what insurance she had.
The continuing problem hospitals have is bed shortages -- politicians absolutely hate spending money on medicare, a bottomless pit which offers them too few ribbons to cut for the billions spent. So we the public have to keep screaming at them. But other than that, its actually pretty great.
Thank you, Tommy Douglas, for Medicare.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

So the Mormons call themselves religious?

So the Mormons refused to sign a letter against torture because it was "too political" and then turned around and spent $20 million in a political fight against gay marriage.
Jesus wept.

Toronto syndrome

You know, if the United States had their own version of Toronto, they'd be better off.
We Canadians know that Toronto is considered by our national media to be the centre of the universe -- the weather is only news when it happens in Toronto -- and so we bring a healthy dose of skepticism to any media types who opine without any evidence on "what Canadians want".
We know that this actually translates to "what Toronto wants", and maybe not even much of Toronto at that -- likely only the people they chatted with at the restaurant last night.
In the United States, their media frequently seems to opine on "what Americans want" based on no evidence at all except restaurant chatter.
But because they don't seem to realise how flimsy this actually is, the rest of their country is at risk of taking it far too seriously.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Greatest post title evah!

From Alison (who else!) at Galloping Beaver and Creekside:
"OK, coffee break's over. Everyone back on your heads!"
Describing, of course, the Con Con.

Yeah, you do that

Columnist Joseph Quesnel is outraged that the Conservative party thinks its own members are just another stakeholder group, and says the Conservative Party should embrace its inner Reform at their convention this week:
Many are not pleased that the party prevented debate on human rights commissions and their growing use in silencing conservatives within Canada.
In an editorial aside, I can only interject: We wish! But back to the column:
By far, social conservatives feel the most marginalized within the party. What seemed like a simple bill to recognize the loss of unborn life in the commission of crimes was lambasted by party leadership.
Many of those who supported this bill still believe that the Conservative Party is a different type of party that respects the will of the membership.
The Conservative Party leadership should not let them down.
And on the sidelines, the Liberals and the NDP are saying, yeah baby, you just do that! Please do demonstrate to women and ethnic minorities across Canada that we should never ever let this bunch of far-right ideological anti-abortion anti-human rights conservatives control a majority government!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Framing Harper

In memoriam for the national portrait gallery, Art Threat announces Framing Harper, a national contest of Harper portraits. Here are some examples:

(ht Drawn -- one of my favorite new links. Check out the rest of my new links on my blogroll and my new section on the economy.)

Rat-f**king Obama, and the Georgia run-off

So someone from Gaza who says he is with Hamas -- AKA the Blue Meanies of the Middle East -- is saying that Hamas met with Obama staff in October.
What a crock! Why would Obama's staff do this ever, much less in October?
I smell rat-fucking, to try to save the Georgia Senate seat.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Did they bang the drum slowly?

I was looking on YouTube to post a reading of In Flanders Fields when I found this song and it expressed better my feelings about war generally -- though it relates particularly World War One: Green Fields of France.

First, learn to say you're sorry

So now Air Canada thinks that smiling at customers will help:
"it's up to each and every one of us to work together to be sure that we're also out in front in the soft attributes such as a ready smile, eagerness to help customers and simply perform jobs well."
Well, yes, that would be nice.
But first, Air Canada has to learn how to apologize to its customers.
Look, its like this. In Canada, things will always go wrong for Air Canada travelers at our airports. An international company like Air Canada is affected whenever American airports screw up, and this is going to happen regularly. Also, we're heading into storm season, when airports in Eastern Canada regularly have to close due to winter weather. Also, Toronto-Pearson is an airport which is so big it is beyond a human scale, yet this is a central airport for Air Canada's operations. Finally, Air Canada seems to have a "just in time" business model where there is no capacity for back up planes or crews or gate staff. The result? Small problems will inevitably become big problems. Flights will leave without the customers who paid to get on them. Or the customers will be there but the flights won't be. Or the customers and the flights will connect but the luggage will go astray.
So, Air Canada, you're going to have to spend a portion of each work week, if not each day, apologizing to people.
Please, learn how to do this right -- I don't want abject misery ("Oh, forgive us!"), nor to I want any non-apology apologies ("I'm sorry if you're upset") or the insult apology ("I'm sorry but would you want to fly in a plane that might crash?").
Rather, I want just a simple, sincere "I'm sorry this happened. Here's what we are going to do about it..."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Next year country

Bryan Schlosser's photo of Ken Miller leaving the field


Over at the Sideshow, commenter QrazyQat suggests that progressives use Ghandi tactics to pressure the Obama administration:
I want to suggest that we keep in mind the Ghandi method for getting results from our new administration and Congress.
In a nutshell: You ask for everything you want and use, if necessary, some action (like finger wagging, or marching, or whatever) to get them to acknowledge your demands; when they offer a smaller concession (as they always do, because they don't want to do it all) you congratulate them for acceding to you and call off the action.
Then you repeat it.
They get used to giving in, and eventually they just give in every time, until finally they've given in so much they're up to what you asked for the first time out.
It's like working the refs, Ghandi-style.
This is not to be confused with the Buffy/Ghandi style which you use for wingnut politicians:
BUFFY: Hey, Ken, wanna see my impression of Gandhi?
(crushes his skull with a club)
LILY: Gandhi?
BUFFY: Well, you know, if he was really pissed off.

Lipstick on a pitbull

So maybe the Liberals have succeeded, at least for now, in forcing the Tory pitbulls to grin and bear it.
I admit I haven't really been following much about Canadian politics just lately, but I noticed that the tone of this story two days ago was much different than this story today. And what came in between was this story yesterday.
Steve at Far and Wide explains what's going on:
Setting the tone, letting the government know that the Liberals will not roll over, they are prepared to vote against legislation which comes without compromise or consultation, nothing will be jammed down our throats, is really what caused the Conservatives to sing a different tune. How else to reconcile Harper's mouthpiece threatening a mere three days ago, only to now hear Harper "isn't eager" for confrontation? The only thing that's happened in the intermediary, a largely defiant and united Liberal caucus sending a clear signal that this parliament it's a different animal.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A loneliness about him

I think Lance Mannion's article is probably quite perceptive because he brings his knowledge of performance and drama to this analysis:
What some have called his cool, others have called reserve, and others have resented as aloofness, appears to me to be a deliberate, disciplined, stepping back. He's watching himself with a deeply critical and skeptical eye, ready to come down hard on the first sign of an emotion or egoistic urge getting out of hand . .
Good performers---and a politician on the stump is a performer---are often their own toughest audience, particularly the ones who aren't naturals. Some performers are able to watch themselves with a sense of humor, others with an ironical detachment. Obama seems to be watching himself with an open grade book in his hand.
And there's a loneliness about him. . .
with Barack Obama we have a President-elect who is a reluctant public figure. He strikes me as a brilliant, active, but scholarly man, introspective, even introverted, who's been granted gifts for public speaking, moral persuasion, and leadership that he is temperamentally not inclined to enjoy . . . I think Obama became a politician because he felt it was his responsibility, not because he thought it would be fun.
And he goes one to discuss why Joe Biden, who does think politics are fun, is Obama's perfect vice-president:
Biden's the guy you can see reminding an annoyed and exasperated President Obama to smile and nod while listening to a blowhard and a boob waste his time by smiling and nodding himself. Biden's the sort you can see walking you to the door after you've just been dressed down and having you convinced by the time he's helped you on with your coat that you've been given a medal and a two-week vacation . . .
Biden, I think, is the perfect complement to a basically shy and skeptical man interested more in policy than in other politicians, drawn more to individuals than to crowds, more at home in private than at ease in public.
I think this may be why it took Hillary supporters a little while to warm up to Obama, because he didn't have that spontaneous, warm, gregarious manner.
But once you get past that difference, then his commitment to leadership and his simple basic decency simply shines.

Sarah who?

Cariboo Barbie has no future in the Republican party because she would not follow instructions.
And that is an unforgivable sin for a Republican.
So we will wave buh-bye as she disappears back into the Alaskan wilderness...

Amazing story

From Tiny Revolution, by Jonathan Schwarz:
It's September 12, 2001. You're sitting in front of a TV, watching footage of the World Trade Center collapse over and over and over again.
All of a sudden, someone from seven years in the future walks out of a tiny temporal vortex, and tells you: George W. Bush is going to fuck this up so badly that in 2008, the United States of America will likely elect as president a black man whose middle name is Hussein and whose father was Muslim. Oh, and he also admits he's used cocaine.
I think it would have been easier to convince me of the reality of time travel. 'No, no, I believe you really are from the future. But the other stuff, that's CRAZY.'

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Celebrating the Obama win around the world:


Obama Girls, a hula dance group formed in honor of Obama's Hawaiian heritage, perform hula to celebrate Barack Obama's victory in the U.S. presidential election in Obama, Japan.


ndian Siddi Tribals eat sweets as they gather in Ahmedabad in celebration of Barack Obama's election victory.

A sand sculpture congratulating US president-elect Barack Obama by Indian sand artist Sudarsan Patnaik


Guy Fawkes celebrations featuring effigy of Obama.





Students at Obama's old school.



Great line of the day

From a comment on Daily Kos about traveling:
We won't have to pretend to be Canadian anymore.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Free at last, free at last

Thank god almighty the United States is free at last.

I'm listening to MSNBC go into lyrical poems of praise for Obama -- "one person who did this, who found a voice and inspired us, this one guy figured out the potential of the word hope and put it before us."

Monday, November 03, 2008

No on Proposition Hate

I was surprised to see that a few people from California have visited this blog -- so this one is for you.
Please, Californians, vote No on Proposition 8.
It is a simple matter of human rights.
The Mormon Church has given $20 million to the campaign to make gay marriage unconstitutional in California -- as Jon Stewart pointed out, this is the church that founded Utah because they were being discriminated against by other religions.
Here is the latest commercial which shows what is at stake:

Sunday, November 02, 2008