Thursday, February 28, 2013

Blame the staff

We're just about reached the "blame the staff" phase of the Senate expenses scandal.
Harper is laying the groundwork for finger-pointing:
“They are reviewing all of their expenses to ensure not only that the expenses are appropriate but the rules in the future for governing such expenses are appropriate”
Yes, indeedy, now its "the rules" that are to blame.
And who wrote and enforced those rules? Why, the Senate staff.
The audit report is going to tell us that the staff "misadvised" and "accepted erroneous travel claims" and "neglected to require documentation" and in the end some clerk in the Senate office might be transferred.
In the meantime, let's investigate Mike Duffy's parking place.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Looking under every rock

They tried to deny it, but now the Harper Conservatives have been forced to admit it -- their EI investigators are each expected to ferret out almost half a million dollars annually in supposedly-fraudulent EI claims.
NDP whip Nycole Turmel asks
"Rather than saving $485,000 on the backs of these poor sods, why don't they start sending inspectors to senators' homes?"
Well, because they'd have to find them first.

Great line of the day

POGGE describes why basing our real Canadian 'economic action plan' on part-time, temporary, contract, non-union precarious jobs is just ducky with big business and big government:
People who feel their economic position is precarious will settle for lower wages, fewer benefits and more abuse. Their employers can look forward to bigger profits on which, thanks to those same co-operative governments, they'll pay lower taxes.
And based on the way so many politicians have embraced the latest phase of neoliberalism — the Austerity Agenda — this is exactly what was supposed to happen. Now they can really go to work on public sector employees too. Those offshore tax havens won't fill up with huge piles of money all by themselves, you know.
Emphasis mine.
It is, of course, a terrible strategy for any long-term economic stability or growth or future.  Someday the Harper Cons might understand that, but only when they themselves are out of a job.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hey big spender

Introducing the Top 10 spenders in Canada’s Senate:
Gerry St. Germain, a Conservative who retired in November, was the top spender ($378,292), while Liberal Robert Peterson, who retired in October, landed in the fifth spot ($320,234). Sen. Pamela Wallin, whose travel expenses are being audited, ranked second-highest in overall spending ($369,593), while Sen. Mike Duffy, another senator whose expenses are being audited, was ninth ($298,310).
The top 10 spending list is rounded out by Sens. Terry Mercer, James Cowan, Nick Sibbeston, Fabian Manning, Bert Brown and Pana Merchant.
Three of the top spenders — Wallin, Peterson and Sen. Pana Merchant — are from Saskatchewan, the most heavily represented province in the analysis of top spenders.
Great news that we're number one, isn't it!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Its time for MHF to STFU

Could Martha Hall Findlay be any more ridiculous?
She's concern-trolling Justin Trudeau for being popular -- does she actually think that someone as unpopular as she is would be a more credible national leader?
And she keeps babbling about how she's really Trudeau's friend while endorsing the vicious Conservative narratives attacking his credibility and leadership skills.
Martha, if you can't lead and you won't follow, then please get out of the way.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"The Prime Minister is calling"

The latest news is that more than one-third of Canadians say Senate should be abolished.
Only a third? I'm surprised -- I would have expected at least 80 per cent would want to get rid of the Senate.
In fact, I don't know why anyone would want to keep it.
But I guess its like the lottery -- lot of  us think we're actually going to win a lottery and maybe a lot of us are also expecting to get that phone call from the Prime Minister someday too.

The difference between dogs and cats

It's the crash at the end that slays me again...

Its a pipeline, not a morality play

In The Keystone Principle: Stop making it worse environmentalist KC Golden makes the ridiculous argument that opposing the Keystone pipeline is some kind of moral test of environmental purity:
Keystone isn’t simply a pipeline in the sand for the swelling national climate movement. It’s a moral referendum on our willingness to do the simplest thing we must do to avert catastrophic climate disruption: Stop making it worse.
Specifically and categorically, we must cease making large, long-term capital investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure that “locks in” dangerous emission levels for many decades. Keystone is a both a conspicuous example of that kind of investment and a powerful symbol for the whole damned category.
Now, its quite possible to object to a pipeline's route or its environmental impact or long-term effect on fossil fuel consumption or increased pollution from oil sands or whatever.  But portraying the Keystone pipeline as a "moral referendum" on climate change is silly.
It's just one more pipeline, joining several others that already carry Canadian oil to the United States.
If there is any moral component here, I believe it is this:  the quicker the United States can reduce its dependence on Middle East oil, the less likely we will find ourselves tangled up in another Middle East war.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Armageddon avoided for now

By my admittedly inexpert calculations, five hours later and the Chelyabinsk meteor would have hit north of Edinburgh.
Twelve hours later, it would have been uncomfortably close to Saskatoon.
You never know what's coming for you.
                 - Benjamin Button

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

They'd all freeze here anyway

Our good news today:
In a bizarre exchange in a place known for bizarre exchanges, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told the House of Commons Wednesday that “Canada will never be a safe haven for zombies.”
“I want to assure this member and all Canadians that I am dead-icated to ensuring that this never happens,” Baird said.
Reassuring, isn't it?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Great line of the day

The Sixth Estate rips apart the latest Harper Con talking point -- leaked to one of their most reliable courtiers Jane Taber -- about how Senator Duffy isn't really defrauding the taxpayers he's actually just defrauding the health care system because PEI doesn't have a cardiac unit so Duffy just has to pretend to live in Ontario so he can use their cardiac doctors, or something... Anyway, Sixth Estate ends with this:
I guess we now know why right-wingers are so paranoid that lazy, self-interested gits are ripping off the welfare system. That’s what they think is going on, because it’s exactly what they do when given the opportunity.

Media frenzy

The media frenzy around where Mike Duffy really lives just shows the truth of the saying "be nice to the people you meet on the way up because you'll see them again on the way down."
He hasn't been particularly nice to Canadian journalism either before or during his Senate career:
In the 1990s, Duffy sued Frank magazine for defamation, referring to Duffy as the "Puffster". Duffy claimed that the magazine's satirical attacks against him cost him the Order of Canada. Frank settled out of court with Duffy.
In 2008, a panel of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that Duffy had violated broadcasting codes and ethics during the 2008 federal election. The panel concluded that Duffy's decision to air 'false starts' of an interview with then-Liberal leader Stéphane Dion “was not fair, balanced, or even handed" and that during the same broadcast, Duffy “significantly misrepresented the view of one of the three members of his Panel...Liberal MP Geoff Regan.” ...
In March 2010 Duffy criticized the University of King's College and other journalism schools in Canada for teaching Noam Chomsky and critical thinking. He went on to say that journalism schools in Canada were churning out leftists who thought private enterprise was bad. The head of King's School of Journalism reacted with surprise to Duffy's criticism, saying that Manufacturing Consent was not part of the curriculum. She also said she would not apologize for teaching critical thinking to journalism students. A number of editorial comments were written in response to Duffy's criticism.
The press can hardly wait for the tar and feathering, because it just couldn't happen to a more deserving guy.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Don't piss on me and tell me its raining

The latest robocall scandal is going to bite the Harper Cons in the ass, to coin a phrase.
They could have done a reasonably neutral poll to find out what Saskatchewan people actually thought of the urban ridings proposal.  This might have given them some valuable information about how widespread the desire for urban ridings actually is, information which they might have been able to use to build a case for rejecting the boundary changes.
But no.  The Harper Cons think they can create their own reality.  They got pushy and they got sneaky.   Result:  disaster.
Saskboy got one of the calls and reports on what the robo-voice said:
Last week I got a robocall from “Chase Research” and listened to it all, taking notes when I realized it was a Conservative push-poll and would cause a scandal....It referred to “drastic” changes to “traditional” riding boundaries and said the new way would pit “rural vs urban” against each other. After being negative about the situation, it asked for a yes or no option to the changes, or to have options repeated.
They embarrassed themselves and, now that the scandal has erupted, they have a poll that they cannot use. In fact, when Conservatives now start talking about how "the Saskatchewan people" want to keep the boundaries as they are, the press and the commission members can just laugh them out of the room. question period, NDP MP Craig Scott, in a question, noted that no party with a "classic sense of ethics" would attempt to pressure a boundaries commission to reverse its proposals by using what he called "robocon propaganda." Surprisingly, it was Harper rather than one of his ministers who stood up to answer Scott’s question, perhaps an indication of how seriously the prime minister views the issue.
Harper replied, "There are actually parliamentary hearings into this. Obviously there is political input, although the final decision is independent,' meaning, perhaps, his office will not try to influence the Conservative MPs who dominate the committee.
Well, dream on about that. Still, thanks to their own clumsy hubris, the Harper Cons can no longer just quietly bury the redistribution report.

Saturday, February 02, 2013


More legal trouble for Mayor Rob Ford
“The audit revealed more than 100 apparent contraventions of the Municipal Elections Act, including the finding that Ford spent more than $40,000 above his legal spending limit. Additionally, the auditors found that Ford, in apparent contravention of election laws, accepted corporate donations, received a loan from Ford’s family company (Doug Ford Holding Inc.), and began spending money before the campaign was legally permitted.”
You can't make this stuff up.

Friday, February 01, 2013


Charles Pierce describes the Republican performance at Chuck Hagel's nomination hearing:

A few great Pierce lines:
...This is the equivalent of a clown taking singing lessons from a goat.
... It was like watching Rent performed on the set of Show Boat.
...There is some criticism rising that Hagel was not properly prepared for his testimony. I'm not sure anybody could have been. How could anyone be properly prepared for Jim Inhofe and Ted Cruz in the same day? Those kind of mushrooms are still illegal.