Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Whose job is it to play by the rules?

Here's one thing that I don't blame former Alberta Premier Alison Redford for doing -- taking her daughter with her on many of her government flights was the right thing to do.  This is kind of thing any parent SHOULD do, and we should expect it when we elect people with children to public office.
Now obviously, there was a serious attitude problem here, a inflated and egotistical sense of entitlement by Redford and her office staff which lead to deliberate and gleeful abuse of their access to government flights.
But here's the other thing -- a political studies professor also blames the civil service, and that goes too far:
Lightbody, the political scientist, said many people within Redford's office and various ministries would have known about the "blatant abuse" of government aircraft, yet no one spoke out publicly.
"These are people who work for the citizens of Alberta, and someone, sometime, somehow, should have said, 'No, this is wrong,'" Lightbody said."
Yes, these civil servants are paid by the public, but they don't work for them.
I've worked in the civil service, and I know.  It wasn't "the public" who were in charge of my workload and my paycheque -- it was the politicians who were elected by the public to be my boss, to tell me what to do.
Civil servants did not have any ability at all to stop Redford's abuse, just as none of the staff working for the Senate could have stopped Duffy, or Brazeau, or Wallin -- as taxpayers, we should not expect civil servants to be doing this.
The people we elect are the ones to blame here, for feeding their own sense of entitlement to the point that they didn't even recognize how unethical their behaviour had became.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Shorter Mark Levin:
John Baird and Stephen Harper are my new BFFs!
Its nice to know our Canadian leaders are so popular abroad!
Who is Mark Levin? Well, here's how Media Matters describes him:
Levin is known for his inflammatory commentary, including the recent claim that the "key" to a Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016 would be "her genitalia." He has also accused Obama of abusing children, compared marriage equality to incest, polygamy, and drug use, compared supporters of the Affordable Care Act to Nazi "brown shirts," and advocated for Obama to be impeached
Prince of a fellow!  He should fit right in with the Harper Cons.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My tweets about Duffy

Today's Duffy news about the personal trainer and the makeup artist etc is just a gift to Twitter. Here's my contribution:

Friday, July 18, 2014

The catfight meme

Digby wants Elizabeth Warren to run against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president because she wants to see:
two intelligent, accomplished women stand for president and debate the issues
Unfortunately, I think the rest of the Washington pundits want Warren to run just to so they can create a "catfight" meme to chatter about endlessley.
The thing is, they all seem to think that Clinton is a secret right-winger. In terms of foreign policy, maybe. But in terms of domestic policy, I think Clinton will prove to be more progressive than just about everybody.
When she ran for president seven years ago, Clinton knew she would have to fight Republicans tooth and nail to get anything progressive done, but she was committed to fighting them. It took Obama years to realize that Republicans were never going to let him be the kind of bipartisan president he had wanted to be.
Personally, I can hardly wait to see what Hillary will accomplish as president.

Putin will be the loser

Yesterday Josh Marshall called the Malaysia Airlines disaster a game changer for Vladimir Putin:
For months Putin has been playing with fire, making trouble and having it work mainly to his advantage. Certainly in the context of Russian history and nationalist aspiration reclaiming the Crimea is a vast accomplishment. But the whole thing blew up in his face today in a way, and with repercussions I don't think - even with all wall to wall coverage - we can quite grasp.
Find extremists and hot-heads of the lowest common denominator variety, seed them with weaponry only a few militaries in the world possess - and, well, just see what happens. What could go wrong?
Today the same gang of idiots are shooting at the investigators who are trying to reach the plane crash site.
Andrew Sullivan writes:
If Russia is directly involved in this way, it seems to me that Putin has now over-reached in such a way that all but destroys what’s left of his foreign policy.
And Josh Marshall’s right that the spectacle of Russian cluelessness, amateurism and recklessness could be the worst news of all for Putin. If there’s one thing a neofascist Tsar cannot afford it’s the appearance of incompetence and chaos.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Of course its political!

What's the point of being in power if you can't use government agencies to target and harass your enemies?
It's a time-honoured political tradition around the world, and now it's come to Canada.

The NDP is calling for an independent probe into the Canada Revenue Agency's targeting of some Canadian charities for their political activities.
In a letter Wednesday to Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay, the party says the alleged misuse of tax agency audits against political opponents of the government is muzzling charities and draining them financially.
...A Canadian Press investigation reported that the tax agency has stepped up its probes of charities for their political activities, well beyond a first wave of audits of key environment groups that challenge the government's energy policies.
International aid groups, anti-poverty organizations and human-rights agencies have also been swept up in the net, with some 52 political-activity audits now in progress.
An initial budget of $8 million set out in the 2012 budget has grown to $13 million, and political-activity audits are being made a permanent part of the Canada Revenue Agency's work.
Asked for comment on the NDP letter Wednesday, Findlay's office provided a week-old statement that itself repeated the minister's talking points in the House of Commons: "CRA audits occur at arm's length from the government and are conducted free of any political interference."
Some charities report that the audits are driving up their legal bills, to more than $100,000 in one case, as they consult lawyers to represent their case to the tax agency. Some audits have dragged on for more than two years with no end in sight.
Mere coincidence? Ha, ha, it is to laugh.
We all know that there's a long-standing conservative meme that environmental organizations, anti-poverty groups, social justice charities, international aid NGOs and welfare agencies are all just secret fronts for traitorous evil leftists -- being reality-based, of course these organizations have a liberal bias.
The Harper Cons already know how much of their own support at the polls is coming from conservative-aligned groups like the ethical oil, right-to-lifers and evangelical churches.  So it would also be an article of faith that the leftie organizations must be secretly abusing the nation's charity rules to shill for the Libs and the NDP and the Greens.
The Harper Cons would never believe that their opponents would play by the rules, because they don't themselves, as Carol Goar notes in the Toronto Star:
Many of the “political activity” audits launched by CRA since 2012 were triggered by complaints from Ethical Oil, a lobby group with strong ties to the Harper government and the petroleum sector. This is a departure for CRA. Unlike the random audits it has always conducted — approximately 900 a year — the new ones are susceptible to external direction, compromising the fairness and professionalism in which the tax department has always taken pride.
It wouldn't surprise me if it turns out the whole strategy of targeting left-wing charities and dragging out audits was just another sleazy political tactic from the Harper PMO.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Today's cheap shots

Two cheap shots noted today:
The Harper Cons wouldn't approve a helicopter tour of the Manitoba flood zones by the Leader of the Opposition:
Brig. Gen. Christian Juneau, commander of the third Canadian Division, had agreed to the tour, subject to approval by Defence Minister Rob Nicholson.
But late Tuesday, Mulcair said he was informed by Nicholson's office that his tour had been vetoed.
And Toronto's buffoon-who-thinks-he-is-a-mayor Rob Ford refused to stand and applaud the Toronto citizens who organized the WorldPride event.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford refused to explain today why he remained seated while city council gave a standing ovation to organizers of the recent WorldPride festival.
He did not answer questions from reporters outside his office about why he didn't stand along with fellow councillors, but said he's not homophobic.
Yeah, sure.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Tweet of the day

CTV has a story titled Best Twitter reaction to Germany's 5 goals against Brazil but they missed this one:

Of course, I'm not surprised, really....

Friday, July 04, 2014

Defining moments in Canadian history

I think this is rather neat.  Its from -- Defining moments in Canadian history at a corporate blog for American Appraisal:
here’s a fun infographic with little-known facts about Canada, events that made headlines, and uniquely Canadian milestones.
I found it at Cool Infographics

Government by talk show yahoos

 Christie Blatchford sums it up:
The government brought in a cruel and inhumane program aimed squarely at the most vulnerable people in the country, sold it in the basest way imaginable by appealing to the least generous impulses in us all and hasn’t proved it will save one red cent of the $91-million cost of the program.
The Harper Cons seem to think they should govern based on what some yahoo redneck is whining about on a radio talk show.
If you flick on a radio anywhere between Kamloops and Brandon, I'm sure you've heard these people complaining about how all those  underserving bogus immigrants are stealing all our health care.  It's stupid and they don't know what they're talking about, but don't bother them with the facts, they would rather feel aggrieved and persecuted.
So in response to these ignorant rants, the Harper Cons cut off health care for refugees two years ago.  It was a stupid decision, made by a government that doesn't know what it is talking about.
But at least our Canadian courts still believe that public policy should be based on demonstrable facts, not right-wing fantasies.
To absolutely no one's surprise, the Federal Court of Canada has struck down the Harper Con denial of health care for refugees.
And of course, also to absolutely no one's surprise, federal immigration minister Chris Alexander is going to appeal.
A year or two from now, the Supreme Court will strike down for good the Harper Con denial of health care for refugees.
In the meantime, Hanif Ayubi will have to hope that a pharmaceutical company will continue to give him diabetes medication. And Saleem Akhtar will hope that the Saskatoon Cancer Clinic can continue to pay for his chemo. And Garcia Rodrigues will hope an ophthalmologist will operate on him for free again if he suffers another retinal detachment.
But there is no hope for Naomi Marcos de Arroyo, who won't be going on any field trips with her Sea Cadets friends because she doesn't have health insurance.

Opus Dei comes to Washington

I think the anti-Obama Republicans who think the Hobby Lobby decision is a triumph are going to regret they ever heard of it.
Because this legal decision and the others that will follow are not going to be seen by the general American public as some kind of victory against Obama-care. Instead, its going to be seen as what it is -- the five Catholic Supreme Court justices abusing their oath of office to arrogantly impose the nutty anti-birth-control views of the Catholic Church on women and on their families.
As Booman says:
This battle isn't really over abortion. It's over female equality. And the Republicans are going to lose.
Women are not amused. We have had 50 years of equality and sexual freedom, primarily because we can control whether or not we get pregnant, and we're not going back.
I'm old enough to remember when Jack Kennedy was the first Catholic elected as President of the United States. And him being a Catholic was a very big deal, because a large number of Americans were very worried he would "follow orders" from the Pope rather than from the public. Kennedy even had to give a speech about it, where he had to promise not to be a "Catholic" president.
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him....
I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters--and the church does not speak for me.
Whatever issue may come before me as President--on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject--I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.
That was said 55 years ago.  And whether the American government would ever base its decisions on the tenets of a specific religion hasn't come up since.  Until now.
The Hobby Lobby decision is purportedly based on "religious freedom" but people just aren't that dumb. They know it is equality and sexual freedom for both women and men that is at stake here. And I think they are still just as concerned as they were then about anybody trying to impose a narrow religious belief on Americans.
In the news tonight is a story about ministers handing out condoms at a Hobby Lobby store.
The action in Aurora is part of a growing number of religious Americans who are publicly expressing their frustration with the Supreme Court’s decision. Several faith leaders have spoken out against Hobby Lobby’s position even before the decision was announced, and Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, was quick to blast the ruling, saying, “I am horrified by the thought that the owners of Hobby Lobby as Christians think their corporation has a soul, and I’m even more appalled that the Supreme Court agrees.”
Over at Balloon Juice, John Cole says:’s nice to see some people out there telling America that not all people of faith are taking their marching orders from the Opus Dei wing of SCOTUS and the Vatican.
This isn't going to be a vote-getter for the Republicans.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Tennis, anyone?

I love watching tennis now that we have a big screen TV, and its been great to see Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard advance to the semi-finals at Wimbledon.
Two players who have been labouring at Wimbleton all week, under the media radar, are Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil, who are each playing quarter-final matches in men's doubles, and Nestor has also reached the quarters in mixed doubles.
Nestor is some kind of grand old man of Canadian tennis -- he has been competing and winning matches since 1989, including a gold medal in Sydney in 2000. It was Pospisil whose magnificent doubles tennis with Nestor kept Canada contending in the Davis Cup last year.
So good luck to all of you.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

I'm retired!

I've been easing toward retirement for the past several months, but I have finally got everything completed and so I'm outta there!

One of the things I hope I will be able to do now is to blog and tweet more often, though I hope not to the extent that my retirement will be like this:


We're both retired now, my husband and I, and we're looking forward to learning some new things and doing some new things, some of the things we never had much time to do before, like volunteer work and swimming and cooking and a little travelling, too.

Provided, of course, that we don't run out of money and have to go back to work somewhere:

September 29, 2009

If we remember how to do it!