Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Huh?

(AFP/File/Jim Watson)

The exact expression that millions will have on their own faces as they watch you tonight...

The fat and happy media

Media apathy.
But still, you have to wonder -- when are Russert and the gang going to decide that enough is enough and really, seriously get angry about being lied to all the time?
Yes, you do have to wonder why so-called journalists aren't getting angry about the Bush administration's litany of lies...it's possible that they're just too comfortable with their jobs, their lives and are content not to rock the boat. The Russerts, Matthews, network reporters, network anchors and numerous cable news mavens make a lot of money from their corporate media employers. They write books too based on their media profiles. So a lot of them are just plain fat and happy. And so they're not inclined to bite the hand that feeds. They need to keep bagging the high-profile politicians and other media stars for their shows.

And there's massive group-think strategy being deployed by the Republican PR machine on a concerted basis. Think about it. The conventional wisdom right now in Washington is that the Democrats have no message, no policies and just play partisan politics because they hate the President. They have no leaders. And on and on and on. That has become the accepted conventional wisdom. And most of these media icons sign right on to the playbook because it's just too much damn work to keep up with actually analyzing the facts that they see before them with any kind of careful scrutiny. It's just too hard to keep up with the deluge on a daily basis when and his gang are pumping out message after message and the entire Republican choir is singing from the songsheet.

At times like these, it's almost enough to make one cancel their MSNBC channel...(almost, because there's still Keith Olbermann...)

McKenna's out, yawn

The Globe and Mail: McKenna's withdrawal throws open Liberal race.

Sorry, I just can't get myself to feel much of anything about this news. I get that he was a very successful Premier. For 10 years, no small feat. But it is lost on me as to what the big attraction was about McKenna. There's no umph with this guy, no star quality, no magnetism. Not to say that there's an abundance of that in Canadian politics, but please, could we get a little more inspiration from our leadership candidates? McKenna gives the impression of a competent technocrat and is amiable enough. But his voice is strange-pitched, boy-like and monotonous and he can come off as being a little too sanctimonious.

Witness yesterday's scolding of unnamed leaders during his press conference for the state of relations with the U.S. Could it be that the golden boy is politically tone-deaf on this issue? There are a good number of Canadians who support standing up to the Americans at this date due to their unilateralism, arrogance and backward social policies. Maybe there are times over the course of a longstanding relationship when you need to take such matters into consideration and hold your neighbour accountable, especially when they're walking all over you. So he may have shown his potential supporters exactly why he's not cut out for the Liberal leadership at this time.

So good luck in the corporate world Frank, as all those "thousands" of companies vie for your boardroom prowess. Do yourself a favour, however, and aspire to be a competent director unlike many of the politicos who have earned boardroom seats for their past political achievements and connections but who end up as "sleepers" or "yes-men" beholden to the conventional management wisdom...as the Enron trial this week reminds us, we've had enough of that.

Monday, January 30, 2006

NYTimes editorial board on a mission

Louisiana in Limbo - New York Times. It is clear that in the run up to the President's SOTU address that the NYTimes editorial board has decided to shout from the rooftops the glaring problems facing the nation, day by day....the Elito nomination, the NSA wiretapping program, the Gulf Coast state of despair...it's a gauntlet thrown down at the President, to see how he addresses these issues, if at all. It has been most enjoyable.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Krugman destroys the Abramoff story line

The story line that this is a bipartisan scandal. That Democrats received money from Abramoff too. The story line that and his PR machine have cranked out and worked like grease through the media outlets that now frequently function like arms of the Republican Talking Point factory. Krugman pointedly takes Katie Couric and the Washington Post to task for repeating Rovian spin and legitimizing it.
There have been both bipartisan and purely Democratic scandals in the past. Based on everything we know so far, however, the Abramoff affair is a purely Republican scandal.

Why does the insistence of some journalists on calling this one-party scandal bipartisan matter? For one thing, the public is led to believe that the Abramoff affair is just Washington business as usual, which it isn't. The scale of the scandals now coming to light, of which the Abramoff affair is just a part, dwarfs anything in living memory.

More important, this kind of misreporting makes the public feel helpless. Voters who are told, falsely, that both parties were drawn into Mr. Abramoff's web are likely to become passive and shrug their shoulders instead of demanding reform.

So the reluctance of some journalists to report facts that, in this case, happen to have an anti-Republican agenda is a serious matter. It's not a stretch to say that these journalists are acting as enablers for the rampant corruption that has emerged in Washington over the last decade.

That's a shame

CNN.com - Poll: Most think Bush is failing second term - Jan 26, 2006.
(PoliticalHumour.about.com)

Can George W. Bush just do whatever he wants?

Or will anyone oppose him? Bush's domestic spying program is in dire need of congressional scrutiny in the form of effective, legitimate Senate hearings to determine the nature of this program, who is being spied upon and whether the law has been broken. If it has, there need to be consequences. The world is watching to see if Republicans and Democrats in Congress will be steamrolled once again.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Maybe some day...

A frogmarching in the offing?

Thanks, but no thanks

Let me do for health care what I did for the new Medicare drug benefit, says Bush. Yeah, we'll get back to you on that one pal, but it ain't looking good. Your political capital on such issues is nil, nada, kaput...

Rove henchmen in the trenches

Science the latest casualty in Bushocracy's war on freedom of speech. Guess what? They're winning, bit by bit, day by day. , you must be so proud of how your little henchmen are falling in line:
The fresh efforts to quiet him, Dr. Hansen said, began in a series of calls after a lecture he gave on Dec. 6 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In the talk, he said that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet." The administration's policy is to use voluntary measures to slow, but not reverse, the growth of emissions.

After that speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews.

Among the restrictions, according to Dr. Hansen and an internal draft memorandum he provided to The Times, was that his supervisors could stand in for him in any news media interviews.

In one call, George Deutsch, a recently appointed public affairs officer at NASA headquarters, rejected a request from a producer at National Public Radio to interview Dr. Hansen, said Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer responsible for the Goddard Institute.

Citing handwritten notes taken during the conversation, Ms. McCarthy said Mr. Deutsch called N.P.R. "the most liberal" media outlet in the country. She said that in that call and others Mr. Deutsch said his job was "to make the president look good" and that as a White House appointee that might be Mr. Deutsch's priority.

But she added: "I'm a career civil servant and Jim Hansen is a scientist. That's not our job. That's not our mission. The inference was that Hansen was disloyal." Normally, Ms. McCarthy would not be free to describe such conversations to the news media, but she agreed to an interview after Mr. Acosta, in NASA headquarters, told The Times that she would not face any retribution for doing so.
(emphasis added)

Mobilizing for an Elito filibuster

Senator Kennedy calling on the troops.

A little shameless self-promotion

CJR Daily summing up the "left's" views on the NYTimes call for an Elito filibuster, including those of yours truly...

Freak show

CNN.com - Poison Justice Stevens,Coulter jokes - Jan 27, 2006. Only a truly vile being could make a living this way...when will people realize the freak show that is Mann Coulter needs to be ignored and maybe it will go away...

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Harper machismo

Don't mess with our frozen tundra and icebergs. We'll come at you with an icicle.

Brazen

In Bushocracy, if your administration is being investigated for ties to a corrupt lobbyist, what do you do? Appoint the chief prosecutor to a federal judgeship. And be sure to tell everyone it's just routine...

They're thumbing their noses at you...they're saying just look at what we can get away with...

Kerry says "no" mojo for Elito

I give him credit for trying to launch the filibuster on Elito. The principal problem, however, is that the Repubs appear to have the numbers to defeat a filibuster effort. Appear. Can Kerry's powers of persuasion (and of others such as Senator Kennedy) sway the Liebermans of the world at this late date? Create a rolling momentum on the issue? We're talking a , people. And Kerry himself is in Switzerland at the World Economic Forum. So there does not appear to have been a sustained strategy initiated in advance of the vote and this may doom the effort from the getgo.

But I'll say he deserves credit for stepping up and opposing Elito as he's done. Because despite the late hour, it's the right thing to do, for principle's sake. If you believe Elito is fundamentally too much of a hard-liner for the right, then you have to do something to stop it. And if the only weapon you have is the filibuster, then use it. We know the Repubs are not afraid to employ the weapons they have. So fight the Repubs by playing hardball right back at them.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

And the PR strategy continues

I can stand up to the U.S. too:
Though reporters didn't ask him about it, Harper went out of his way to bring up comments made this week by U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins, questioning the Conservative plan to protect Arctic sovereignty.

Harper said the Conservatives had a mandate to govern from the Canadian people, not from the U.S. government.

How's that "Accountability Act" coming, Stephen?

The Globe and Mail: Harper failed to meet ethics czar on Grewal. What is it they say about those who live in glass houses...

It's Bush Incompetence week

Mark it on your calendar.

Beautiful

(Reuters)
Georgetown law students turned their backs on Gonzales this week as he justified the Bush eavesdropping...good for them.

You're preaching to the choir, Bob

A President Who Can Do No Right - New York Times. I hear you, loud and clear. Absolutely scathing column on Bush's incompetence today. The infuriating aspect of all of this is that the Republican Senate and House are united with Bush, despite his incompetence, arrogance and alleged law-breaking. And that makes a crucial difference in this media era. Bush can be the "worst president in memory" yet he gets away with it due to the extensive cover he's been provided by corporate media and his party, engineered by .

Gore gave a systematic and thorough opposition to Bush in his recent speech, and unless he keeps it up, there are few with stature to take on the massive challenge of holding Bush to account.

But at least there are the Bob Herberts of the world to make it all sting a little bit less:
This guy is something. Remember his "Top Gun" moment aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln? And his famous taunt — "Bring 'em on" — to the insurgents in Iraq? His breathtaking arrogance is exceeded only by his incompetence. And that's the real problem. That's where you'll find the mind-boggling destructiveness of this regime, in its incompetence.

Fantasy may be in fashion. Reality may have been shoved into the shadows on Mr. Bush's watch. But the plain truth is that he is the worst president in memory, and one of the worst of all time. Many thousands of people — men, women and children — have died unnecessarily (and thousands more are suffering) because of his misguided and mishandled policies.

Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser for George H. W. Bush, counseled against the occupation of Iraq at the end of the first gulf war. As recounted in a New Yorker article last fall, he said, "At the minimum, we'd be an occupier in a hostile land. Our forces would be sniped at by guerrillas, and, once we were there, how would we get out?"

George W. Bush had no such concerns. In fact, he joked about his failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Like a frat boy making cracks about a bad bet on a football game, Mr. Bush displayed what he felt was a hilarious set of photos during a spoof that he performed at the annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents Association in March 2004.

The photos showed the president peering behind curtains and looking under furniture in the Oval Office for the missing weapons. Mr. Bush offered mock captions for the photos, saying, "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere." And, "Nope, no weapons over there, maybe under here."

Still "No" on Elito

Senators in Need of a Spine - New York Times. Second blistering editorial in a week. Like a voice crying out in the night. Will anyone hear it? Quite a compelling case made here to vote against Elito, even for the filibuster. But it's all political and Democrats are laying down again in the face of the monster PR machine backing the Repubs that has made Elito, despite all evidence to the contrary, into a bland non-issue.

It's a freaking mess, the opposition to Bush, and he'll continue to walk all over it with Rove plotting the course unless they take a stand on each issue, out of principle, and in a united way. The Repubs are united and unless the Democrats do, they won't be heard. They're "choosing" to fight on the NSA issue and throwing the Elito matter under a bus...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Have they re-named the White House?

(AP)

This seems about right, who bettter to appear at the Threat Operations Center?

It speaks

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan: "Canada":
Q This morning there was a program at the American Enterprise Institute on the election in Canada. And Stephen Harper was just elected Prime Minister. And three former members of the administration -- David Frum, who was a presidential speechwriter, Roger Noriega, who was an assistant Secretary of State, and Phil Swagel, who was chief of staff for the White House Council of Economic Advisors -- discussed the softwood lumber dispute. And they all agreed that the U.S., they said, acted like a rogue nation in this dispute, that the U.S. is in the wrong. And I'm wondering if the administration would agree with that, and if we might see some resolution of the softwood lumber dispute now that we have a new leader in Canada.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, let me offer our congratulations to the new government that is taking place, taking form in Canada. We congratulate the Conservative Party and Stephen Harper on the victory. We have had a strong and broad relationship with Canada, and we look forward to working with the new government to strengthen our relations even more. So we offer our congratulations.

In terms of the softwood lumber issue, this is something that we've had a disagreement over. The President has discussed it on a number of occasions when he's met with the Prime Minister there. And we are continuing to work to try to bring it to a resolution and that's what we will -- that's what we are committed to doing.

...
Q Scott, this morning you said that President Bush would call the Prime Minister from Canada, Stephen Harper. Can you give us an update --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don't have an update on that. I expect he will be calling him soon to offer him his congratulations and say that he looks forward to working with him.

Q Can you give us -- there's a bit of a sense in Canada that this conservative government in Canada will be better able to work with the conservative Bush administration. Can you just give us a historical significant comment on --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've had a good working relationship with Canada for a long time. There are many areas where we have worked closely together with the government. We look forward to working with the new government and strengthening those ties even more. I'm not going to try to compare one administration to the next. We congratulate Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party on their victory, and look forward to working with them.

Q Could the fact that they have a very short minority government be a problem? Could that force Stephen Harper to adopt a stronger, tougher attitude --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's getting into internal politics inside Canada. I'll leave that analysis to others.

That's a surprise

White House Declines to Provide Storm Papers - New York Times. They don't even care about the optics of such things anymore because they can get away with it.

There is no opposition to the Bush administration. Congress will roll over once again despite the public disagreement expressed by Republican Senator Susan Collins who oversees the Senate committee investigating the Katrina response. No one who speaks with the President or Cheney can be compelled to testify before Congress on the substance of any conversations they've had with them or other White House officials, apparently. Ah, the ascendancy of the unitary executive branch. Al Gore certainly had this nailed, didn't he?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Doggone it, it wasn't so bad after all

REUTERS/Shaun Best

Let's not overstate this people

CNN.com - Canadians choose conservative - Jan 24, 2006. Yes, we chose a Conservative minority government...that means the Conservatives can't do anything legislatively without support from one of three centre-left parties. Canadians explicitly refrained from giving the Conservatives their desired majority due to extreme hesitance from the majority of Canadians to support socially conservative policies. The Liberals, who were vilified during the campaign for corruption, scandal, investigations, an incompetent campaign and poorly chosen advertising, ended up with 103 seats to the Conservatives' 124. A gargantuan 21 seat difference, ahem. So that's it in a nutshell, my American readers, there's no sweeping tidal wave of conservatism going on here comparable to the experience in the U.S.. If this Conservative government cozies up to the Bush administration, watch how quickly it'll be sent packing in our next federal election - which will be held likely before your own 2008 campaign...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Signing off for now...

More perspective later tonight. But this is a huge disappointment for the Conservatives tonight. They will have beaten the Liberals by less than 20 seats. Two weeks of great expectations have come crashing down tonight, there's no way around that.

Why is Mike Duffy at the NDP headquarters tonight? That's not where the action is...is there a free buffet going on tonight? (Not my joke, a little bird made that one up...)

Talk later...

Olivia goes to Ottawa

Well she finally did it...congrats Ms. Chow, you're Ottawa bound.

Calling Oakville

Is that a red tide I see out west of the GTA? I just saw an "elected" Liberal verdict on a ticker for Oakville...

Landslide Annie thinks she's going to pull it out

Not conceding anything yet...as of posting...

Stronach re-upped

Won with a pretty nice margin considering the target she always wears on her back. Belinda is wearing a trendy Chanel type blazer, there with her dad Frank the autoparts magnate in the background...she's been re-elected Canada, deal with it. I recall seeing her profiled during one of those cheesy CPAC segments and she was being her typical self, earnest and hard working. I am not a charter member of the Belinda hating clubs around the country...and so, the rumours start that she's about to cross back over the floor now that the Conservatives are in the minority...:)

What exactly is a "beer" minority?

Is Brian Tobin saying that since Harper doesn't have more than 24 more seats than the next party that it's a "beer" minority? He keeps using this term, it's quite funny.

Conservative wins in Burlington

Well you got what you wanted Burlingtonians...you now have a member of the Conservative blue "government" in your riding...enjoy your new Prime Minister...

Bob Fife has weighed in: Martin is finished

The impartial one has spoken...

NDP elected in my riding, Parkdale-High Park

Hey! An orange wave has just washed over my riding! Yes, I am officially a member of a newly orange riding. CBC just projected the NDP candidate Peggy Nash to win over the Liberal incumbent, Sarmite Bulte (Sam). So I'm now in one of 32 NDP ridings across the country. Well this should be interesting now. If you're not going to be in the government, guess the NDP's as good a place to be as anywhere else. I must say, the Conservative candidate in this riding certainly did not shine, to say the least. Saw him in an all candidate type thing on local TV and he had to keep referring to his notes to read his talking points...they could have done better with that choice, as with many around the GTA.

CBC popular vote in Canada

To those who mocked the SES poll, the numbers from last night look at this stage to be panning out exactly. Canada wide, 36% Conservative to 31% Liberal, seems pretty close to yesterday's "small" SES sampling...

Tony Ianno and Olivia Chow duking it out once again

This one will go late into the night I'm sure. These two have quite the history and she's tried to unseat him twice before. I think he's got quite the machine down there and her candidacy is usually a lot of profile but little substance. That's my humble opinion as a former Trinity-Spadina voter twice over...

Spur of the moment rap

GTA to the 905, keeping those pesky Liberals alive...

Ignatieff wins

Oh where are you Mr.Chyczij,ex-Liberal Riding association president of Etobicoke Lakeshore? Your petulant fit of quitting on the eve of the election and throwing your support to the Conservatives just didn't pan out, did it? What goes around comes around pal...now the people of Etobicoke-Lakeshore have a potential leadership candidate in their riding and he will be a better politician now for having had his feet held to the fire. Nothing like a rude awakening to sharpen your antennae from here on out...

100 seats?

My oh my, will that hold up...that will be quite an achievement given the campaign that has just occurred. I'm telling you, Martin's last few days where he gave it his all ended up counting.

Early conclusions

There is a strong residual Liberal vote in this country my friends...I'm looking at a screen right now where 116 seats have gone for the Conservatives, 99 for the Liberals.

Now this was supposed to be a result taken after weeks of focus on Liberal scandals, corruption, investigations, an inept campaign replete with blunders and poorly chosen ads...and is this the best Stephen Harper can do with all of that handed to him? OK, it's now 121 to 98...woohoo Conservatives...

Freak panel on CTV

Can you say intolerant? Joseph Facal? Joy McPhail? What is going on, do they think this is good TV? The mystique of Facal is puzzling to me. He sounds like a halting lunatic and his views on Quebec are way out there...

I am preferring the CBC coverage myself with Segal, Broadbent & Manley...

John Reynolds just said Martin scared the country enough to get a decent number of seats...Yeah, I was real scared when I cast my vote....

St. Paul's the "bellweather"

Not shaping up that way early on...Dr. Carolyn Bennett is ahead of Peter Kent by 1000 votes at this stage...

Is that it?

The framework of the results is shaping up pretty quickly. I must say, this is being settled much earlier than I anticipated. I'm interested to see the percentage of vote breakdowns in Ontario and the GTA.

Oh, and we see there is now a "Green" on the board...

The chin!

Mulroney has materialized...on with Lloyd, live from West Palm Beach, Florida...sounds pretty happy with the shape of things. He doesn't look so bad compared to Harper, does he?

The Promise Keeper is in the lead

David Sweet, a muzzled Conservative and former "Promise Keeper" activist, is leading in his Ancaster riding outside Hamilton. I hope to the almighty election Gods that this dude is actually elected. This will be an MP to watch Canada!

CBC is on the Conservative minority bandwagon

Cautious but now projecting...Stephen Harper is your next PM Canada, hope you enjoy him, Impolitical didn't pick him!

Paul Martin behind early on

Can it be? The BQ possibly defeating Martin himself? Well that would make it a much easier decision, wouldn't it?

The Big CityTV weighs in as well

Gord Martineau has spoken, "Conservative" victory...at least they're playing it a little safer than CTV...

CTV projected already?

So a Conservative minority is what we have on our hands according to CTV...well I suppose we'll have to see how things turn out yet...

Burlington

Long night in Burlington they are saying...that one is going to be close for all you Burlingtonians...

10 pm BC closes....

So I will respect result discussion until then...looks pretty interesting to start off...I've said this will be closer than most think, let's see how my humble (and rather general) prediction holds up as the night goes...

Lots of good websites out there to review for updates, the Toronto Star's got a good one where you can "bookmark" ridings you're interested in and quickly get updates.

Voting was quite busy at my poll in Parkdale-High Park tonight. Apparently the NDP have a good shot at picking it up from Liberal Sarmite Bulte. We shall see...

Welcome to Impolitical's election blogging

And we're off people, let's have fun out there!

"No" on Elito

Good case for why.

Happy Election Day!

To all my progressive friends out there, vote early and vote often....:)

Seriously though, just vote! And let's play safe out there, kids!

I'll say it

One last word. For all the Martin naysayers - and it has become a popular parlour game to mock him - he has fought a better campaign over the last few days than many will give him credit for. He has not quit in the face of dire predictions. His back's against the wall and he's given it a good fight. There is a definite energy that he grabs in the last few days and rides to the end. There's no getting around the fact that if he loses, he'll likely be gone. But he's going down swinging and without a hint of resignation to his fate. And you know what? Other than the sponsorship issues, I'm just not unhappy enough with the state of affairs in this country to give him the boot. And I'm certainly not unhappy enough to let Stephen Harper get his chance.

Campaign funnies

REUTERS/Andy Clark

You get an "A" for effort, my friend!

Interesting polls on election eve

CPAC/SES

CPAC/SES have their last tracking poll out as of last night and it's interesting all right. If it is correct, it could be a much closer election than anyone has predicted. For the story appears to have been written, my friends. Conservative win, minority or majority. We've all known that for two weeks now. Yet I would respectfully suggest that two weeks may have been just a tad too long to have had Stephen Harper on full display to the country. A two week flirtation is a pretty long time to consider if you really want to be with that person. I think I've made my point. But let's look at the CPAC poll, just for fun.


CPAC/SES has published a day-by-day set of national results taken from "Very Likely Voters" on the 20th, 21st and 22nd. Those results show a trend downwards for the Conservatives at 38.4%, 38.3 and finally 32.7 on Jan. 22nd. The Liberal trend is not so clear. It's 35.1, 27.4 and 31. Consider that. Conservatives 32.7 to Liberals 31, on the day before the election. If that trend were to continue through to tomorrow, there could be some interesting results in the offing. But it's within the margin of error, which is close to a whopping 6%. And the sample size is not as large as some other polls. So factor that in.

And there are some developments in the regional polls as well:

Atlantic Canada: Liberals 44, Conservatives 29, NDP 22
There's an 11 point jump in Liberal support in Atlantic Canada from the 21st to the 22nd. Up from 33% to 44%. That comes mostly at the expense of the NDP. So is NDP support caving, in this region at least, on the eve of the election? The "Five Day" rolling tracking poll has the Atlantic numbers at L37/C31 and NDP/26. So we shall see.

Here in the GTA, it's still looking pretty Liberal but I would expect a few NDP seats. Olivia Chow's lost 3 times now in her bids to win provincially and federally. If she doesn't win this time, she'll never win.

But you can look at the poll yourself and judge...

As for the Strategic Counsel. What to say here. They've been far and away an outlier from other polls who consistently topped the Conservatives out at @the 37% mark. And given the publicity of these polls from their major media partners, CTV and the Globe, if they're not correct tomorrow night, they'll have some 'splainin to do. Their last poll is here.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Poll action today

For those who say the polls haven't been all over the map, look at the CPAC tracking poll current to January 20th.

In Atlantic Canada, from the 19th to the 20th, the Conservative support dropped 7 points. The Liberals picked up 3 and the NDP 4 of those points.

Quebec is stable.

In Ontario, relatively stable, with Libs at 39, Conservatives at 35, NDP support fell 2 points overnight.

In Western Canada, NDP lost 4 points overnight. Libs lost 1, Conservatives up 4.

There is still some movement going on in the regions, and the undecideds remain at 12% nationally. They're at 14% in Ontario.

I think the outcome has been largely written, Conservative minority. But it may yet prove to be an interesting night.

I like it

John Kerry is pretty succinct these days, ABC News: John Kerry Bashes Bush Wiretaps, Talks of 2008:
Of the Bush administration's efforts in the war on terror Kerry said, "Osama Bin Laden is going to die of kidney failure before he's killed by Karl Rove and his crowd."
Works for me. I'd have to say that's the quote of the week. Keep it simple Democrats, there's lots to work with. Just stop engaging Rove and Mehlman and responding to their taunts. The facts speak for themselves.

And he did a pretty good job in exploding the Republican talking points on Abramoff:
Hitting the Democratic theme that Republicans have created a "culture of corruption" in Washington, Kerry bristled at the suggestion that his presidential campaign accepted over $100,000 in what Republicans have termed "[Jack] Abramoff-affiliated lobbying firms."

"I've never met Jack Abramoff," Kerry said. "I've never taken a dime from Jack Abramoff.

Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges, primarily is known as a Republican lobbyist but has ties to members of both parties.

"This is a Republican scandal," he added. "They run the House, they run the Senate, and they run the White House."

Kerry laid blame squarely on the shoulders of his former foe, President George W. Bush.

"The president sets the tone," he said.
(emphasis added)
I like it very much Senator Kerry, just keep telling the truth, people are listening...

Can you hear the silence?

From the Washington Post this past Thursday, Breaking Ranks. Colin Powell's former chief of staff while he was Secretary of State, Larry Wilkerson, reflects on his time in the upper echelons of the Bush administration. Bush is "unsophisticated"and there's this:
"I see hard-headedness, I see arrogance, I see hubris, I see what I saw in a lot of Texans."
On the administration, he says it is "inept"...
"...probably the worst ineptitude in governance, decision-making and leadership I've seen in 50-plus years. You've got to go back and think about that. That includes the Bay of Pigs, that includes -- oh my God, Vietnam. That includes Iran-contra, Watergate."
Echoes of Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke et al. Another insider who has left and speaks of Bush and the fact that the emperor has no clothes. Wilkerson could make a small fortune by writing a book, but I suspect he is reluctant to suffer the fate of others who can withstand the onslaught of character assassination and marginalization financially, as it sounds like he can't. For now he's limiting his story to media interviews such as this.

There are musings here on how Powell might have been used by the administration and wonder expressed about he and Powell not seeing the intelligence community's doubts on Iraq WMD prior to his famed UN speech. Because Wilkerson has broken ranks with Powell by speaking out publicly on such matters, Powell has essentially stopped talking to him.

The vaunted Colin Powell. Your silence is deafening.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

No questions please, we're conservatives

You might be restrained.

Watch the David Akin video...a TVA reporter got a little upset when physically restrained by a Conservative supporter as she tried to ask a local candidate some questions.

Questions? They don't like that in these last few days. Come on, what do you think this is, an election campaign?

Harper the fake

Martin is drawing attention today to the stage-managed Conservative campaign. It really has been something. They've been able to put the clamps on the wingnuts easily enough. That won't last forever though. The most offensive aspect of the Conservative campaign, however, has been the makeover that has been on display since day one. It's like an extreme makeover team sat him down and said, "OK, this is you as you normally are - and you have to stop that. This is how you'll act throughout the campaign." You will read scripts. You will smile. You will lower your voice and not appear angry and outraged most of the time. You will have these 5 priorities. You will plant 5% GST stickers on cars and houses. You will not talk about your personal views on social issues. You will wear turtlenecks and open necked shirts. You will not talk about America. And so, you will not be yourself.

For anyone who has followed Stephen Harper over the years as he's been in an out of the House of Commons, the leader of the National Citizens Coalition, Alliance leader and now Conservative leader, knows that he's just not a smiling, happy guy. Surly, bland, mean-spirited at times and usually unsmiling. Yet throughout this campaign, Harper has been a totally different guy. Smiling throughout his CBC town hall, speaking more slowly and quietly. The "aw, shucks" attitude that yes, I used to have radical positions but I have evolved as the circumstances have required it. My pre-election views are inoperative. And there has been little scrutiny of his newly created persona given the story line that's been written - time for a change and he can't be that bad, can he?

And this is the frustrating aspect of this campaign. Many voters have not followed Harper that closely over the years given his relative low profile compared to Martin, and so the glaring difference between the pre and post election Stephens has been largely discounted. Written off as an "evolution" by the Bob Fife's of the world. Yet the Harper who thinks nothing of dissing a province for political gain, whose political instinct is to jump to his feet to say that the same-sex marriage law will not be legitimate because it's being passed with the support of Quebec MP's - he's just not present during this campaign. And yet that was just 6 months ago. Where have those instincts gone, my friend?

The challenge for the Conservatives will be to keep feeding Stephen his happy pills because when the campaign's over, he's going to have to continue to live up to the smiling, tolerant, open-minded guy schtick. And I have a funny feeling that the real Stephen just can't sustain it.

Hilarious today

Maureen Dowd's column today, "Googling Past the Graveyard," a jovial take on some of the news of the week, notably Bushocracy's request that Google turn over user search data:
I don't like the thought of Dick Cheney ogling my Googling.

Because what I'm Googling, of course, is Dick Cheney. I have to constantly monitor how Vice Voyeur is pushing the federal government to constantly monitor millions of ordinary Americans' phone calls, e-mail notes and Internet searches.

If you want to know why the Grim Peeper is willing to turn this country into a police state to take his version of democracy to other countries, just do a Google search under "antiterrorism," "government snooping," "overreaching" and "fruitcake."
Ya gotta laugh, otherwise...

Cable news lemmings

Warning. Read link after breakfast. Some of my readers don't like swearing. But sometimes, it's just so necessary. So there, you've been warned.

Shit-Eating Collaborator Monkeys:
Why is Tweety comparing Michael Moore to Osama bin Laden? Why is FOX "News" commentator John Gibson claiming that the American left is working for Osama bin Laden? For that matter, why would an Eschaton troll claim that Murtha and Osama bin Laden have the same position on Iraq? Why, in short, has the reemergence of Osama bin Laden got the right and their enablers acting so ... "unhinged"?

Because Osama bin Laden is still alive all these years later, threatening America, which means George W. Bush is a failure.
Enjoy the rant of the day...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Somewhat obvious metaphor of the day

(Reuters)

Harper in GTA..."Brick Wall" poster...someone trying to suggest something...?

Conservatives drop in Ontario in another poll

Confirms the volatility. Some numbers of note:

National: Conservatives 35.5 / Liberals 29 / NDP 18.8.
Atlantic: C 41/ L 31 / NDP 23 (9 points overnight to the NDP!)
Ontario: L 39/ C 36 / NDP 19.

The polls are picking up a Conservative drop in Ontario...

Maybe this is why Belinda left him?

CBC News: MacKay apologizes for 'knitting' remark:
McDonough and MacKay were sparring about constituency races in Nova Scotia. When he said she was using her reputation to drag NDP candidates across the finish line, she defended the NDP candidate running in his riding.

"We'll just see what happens," MacKay replied. "I think you better stick to your knitting and win your own riding."
Stick to your knitting ladies...

Petulance

TheStar.com - Etobicoke Liberal riding president throws support to Conservatives. This Liberal riding association president deserves a good kick right out the door so happily, he's resigned. If you can't support your own candidate, when push comes to shove, you should leave. So good riddance Mr. Chyczij, here's hoping your petulant actions will not be rewarded and will instead rile up the voters in Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

Poll action today

CTV.ca | Harper's lead shrinks to 9 points in latest polls and it's 6 in the CPAC tracking poll. Here's the Strategic Counsel poll on the Ontario numbers:
And in Ontario, the other province showing significant change, what a difference a few days have made (percentage point change since a Jan 14-16 poll in brackets):

* Liberals: 40 (+7)
* Conservatives: 33 (-6)
* NDP: 20 (same)
* Green: 7 (+1)

Most of that surge is coming in the Greater Toronto Area, comprised of the 416 and 905 area codes. The Liberals have jumped up to 50 per cent support (they had 55 per cent in the 2004 election), while the Conservatives are at 30 per cent -- a drop of seven points in a matter of days. The NDP is chugging along at 16 per cent, which is a drop of three points from its high of a few days ago.
The CPAC poll, however, puts Ontario much closer: 40-39 in the Conservative-Liberal race.

Shaping up to be more of a fight in Ontario than has been expected...people have had two full weeks to take a look at Harper as PM and they are not sold, at least not in this province.

More on your Conservative candidates

TheStar.com - Is religious right poised to set Harper's agenda?

Better late than never I guess...

Meet the Conservative candidates

Some of the Conservative candidates we all knew were percolating somewhere, featured in a prominent news story which suggests momentum and poll numbers are dipping:
Mr. Harper was introduced at the news conference by David Sweet, the Tory candidate in Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale. Mr. Sweet is a former president of Promise Keepers Canada, an evangelical Christian organization that believes homosexuality is a sin.

In a November, 2001, edition of Christian Week magazine, he wrote: "[M]en are natural influencers, whether we like it or not. There's a particular reason why Jesus called men only. It's not that women aren't co-participators. It's because Jesus knew women would naturally follow."

Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Harper shared the stage with Harold Albrecht, the Conservative candidate in Kitchener-Conestoga, at a rally attended by about 800 enthusiastic supporters.

Mr. Albrecht is pastor and founder of the Pathway Community Church. In June of 2004, he wrote in a letter to a Kitchener newspaper: "If one is truly committed to the marriage vows of fidelity, these same-sex marriages would succeed in wiping out an entire society in just one generation."

When reporters tried to question Mr. Albrecht about his views after the rally, Conservative handlers blocked them from getting close. Mr. Albrecht was hustled into a kitchen where he stood alone as the news media were told he was too busy to speak with them.
Meet your Conservative candidates Canada...what they've been keeping the lid on...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Harper harps on Buzz, again


For the second day in a row, Harper's preferred topic is this: CBC News: Hargrove's comments 'beyond the pale': Harper. Seems a little bit of overkill to me, especially since Hargrove's clarified his remarks repeatedly...

There's a media strategy war going on. Harper wants to talk about Buzz. Martin wants to talk about Harper's views on the courts. Wonder why.

If it ain't broke...

The "courts" issue is a reminder of how you can only shield from the public what you truly believe for so long. opened up this can of worms by his comments this week and he's going to be answering these questions until election day, it seems to me...this debate over the courts reminds people of what they don't particularly like about him and his team. The spectre of intolerance vis-a-vis the re-opening of the gay marriage issue, politicized judicial appointments, pro-American views and leanings...it's all bad, Stephen.

On the court appointment process, let's let someone in the know speak:
Eugene Meehan, a former president of the Canadian Bar Association who has been consulted by the government on Supreme Court appointments, says the process in this country produces a judiciary that is envied around the world.

On Supreme Court appointments in particular, "previous prime ministers have studiously avoided any kind of political partisanship and have appointed only the Wayne Gretzkys of the legal world," Mr. Meehan said.

If Mr. Harper's lead in opinion polls holds up through Monday's vote, he'll get a chance soon enough to demonstrate what he means when he says, as he did yesterday, he's looking for judges with "what I call the judicial temperament."

Way to change the subject

Hillary Clinton Says White House Has Mishandled Iran - New York Times. You go, ...that "plantation" remark now seems to be pitifully small in comparison to such issues...let's see if Tweety and his cable news pals continue to obsess over it...

"American official said"

As we see such articles and wonder about the meaning of such a taped message from Bin Laden, Bin Laden Re-emerges, Warning U.S. While Offering 'Truce' - New York Times, let's keep in mind the sourcing that's cited in the article:
an official of the Central Intelligence Agency said
An American counterterrorism official said
the American counterterrorism official said
A second American counterterrorism official echoed
The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said
And judge for yourself...

What a surprise

Writer Says Ex-Chief of HealthSouth Paid for Positive Coverage - New York Times:
Throughout the six-month trial that led to Richard Scrushy's acquittal in the $2.7 billion fraud at HealthSouth Corp., a small, influential newspaper consistently printed articles sympathetic to the defense of the fired CEO.

Audry Lewis, the author of those stories in The Birmingham Times, the city's oldest black-owned paper, now says she was secretly working on behalf of Scrushy, who she says paid her $11,000 through a public relations firm and typically read her articles before publication.
Journalists being paid for positive coverage...where in the world would Scrushy get an idea like this?

Brownie sighting

Brown Now Says He Deserves Much of Blame - Yahoo! News. We knew that, , but it's nice to see you coming to grips with reality...

Interesting poll results as we head toward the weekend

Lots of interesting results in the CPAC/SES nightly tracking poll. Canada-wide, Conservatives are at 36.9, Liberals at 31.5. This is much closer than the Strategic Counsel polling which has a 42% Conservative to 24% Liberal result, a difference of 18 points versus 5 in the CPAC/SES poll. And Decima has a 10 point difference between the two main parties, with the Conservatives at 37 and the Liberals at 27.

What does this mean? If it's a stalled case of Tory momentum at @37% then the results could be closer than many think on Monday. There remains a sizable chunk of undecideds in the CPAC poll at 16%. And the NDP numbers appear to be dropping overnight. In Atlantic Canada, there was a drop in support of 9 points for the NDP over one day, January 16th to 17th. And a drop of 5 points overnight in Ontario for the NDP. Where that dropping support ultimately ends up is anyone's guess...right now it looks like it's going to both the Liberals and Conservatives.

And the Tories lost 4 points from the 16th to the 17th in Western Canada, mostly to the benefit of the NDP. This must be largely B.C.

So there is still a lot of movement in the electorate and it could make for a big surprise on Monday. I wouldn't be popping any champagne corks over there in Conservative headquarters yet , as I'm sure you're not...

Should be lots tuning in to see Harper and his Cheshire-cat-smile on the National tonight...

Et tu, Toronto Star?

(Toronto Star)

"God bless Canada" II

An oddity in Harper's speeches that I wrote about back in May of this year but which is timely and so I am re-publishing it...why does he include "God Bless Canada" at the end of his speeches? It's a minor point, granted, but it is symbolic of Harper's tendency to be influenced by our southern neighbour in his political practices and policies. And I say "no, thank you" to that.

The real reason Layton has been so hard on the Liberals

A Liberal compared his wife, Olivia Chow, to a dog. Apparently for Jack, that wasn't an out of control lone Liberal ranger type deal. It stuck with him and he was still speaking of it yesterday:
Mr. Layton ratcheted up his attack on the Liberals, answering his own rhetorical question as to why the party is losing Liberal voters.

"They've been offensive -- comparing women to dogs, running down our military, mocking parents for not caring about their children. They're subject to several criminal investigations and they've been remarkably inept and wrong-footed," he said. "Canadians are unforgiving about this."
Translation: you called my wife a dog, mofos, I'm not forgiving you.

I'd forgotten all about that. Not Jack, apparently, and it may explain why he's been so relentless with the Liberals and less so with the Conservatives.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tell us how you really feel, Mr. Kent

CBC News: Harper promises Toronto a place in government:
Harper held a rally on Wednesday in St. Paul's, the Toronto riding currently held by Liberal Carolyn Bennett. The Conservative candidate there is Peter Kent, a veteran television journalist.

Kent, who was introduced at the rally by CanWest Global executive David Asper, denounced the media as "Liberal apologists."
All those years as a trusted media figure...it's quite a sight to see such loathing of your profession on full display to the nation...sounds a little intolerant to me...

Tie Domi says vote Liberal

Appearing with Belinda Stronach today:
Mr. Domi told reporters he wants Paul Martin's Liberals to remain in office.

"I think our country is in good shape. I don't think we need change."

The real Stephen

Lookie here:The Globe and Mail: Harper says courts bear marks of Liberal rule. He can't help himself. Getting a little testy today it seems. What exactly did you mean by your comment on "checks" that a Conservative government would face?
"In terms of the court, the courts are supposed to be independent," Mr. Harper said.

"I am merely pointing out a fact that the courts for the most part have been nominated by other political parties.
And he's off! On his way now to the Prime Minister's Office, politicizing the judicial appointment process and shifting the debate over appointments to a U.S. style focus on "activist judges." We don't need U.S. style politics imported into our judicial appointment process, thank you very much. Our Supreme Court is admired the world over for its opinions....

Get ready for more of this Canada, the real can't help but shine through eventually.

Clever

Best line from Dowd today, mocking Bush & Cheney's contempt for the law:
"Warrants are for sissies."

Off by a country

The Globe and Mail: Tory Ottawa would be moderated by Liberal influences: Harper.

Hmmm...checks and balances, hey? That's America, , not us...

Blatantly obvious metaphor of the day

(REUTERS/Shaun Best)

Scottie goes to bat for Karl, again

This is fun:White House Briefing: Reporters Zero in On Rove's Abramoff Connections. Details, details:
As the fallout from indicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff continues, reporters are now trying to hone in on Abramoff's White House connections, specifically looking for details on his meetings with President Bush's staff. But so far presidential spokesman Scott McClellan isn't budging.

On Tuesday, McClellan admitted Abramoff had "a few staff-level meetings" at the Bush White House, but he declined to say with whom Abramoff met, which interests he was representing, or how he got access to the White House.
What do you expect from Stonewall? But I must say, I wonder how he feels about going to bat for one more time after Rove hung him out to dry in front of America the last time Karl was on the hotseat...Rove was "not involved" in the Plame leak said McClellan, last time, and apparently on the assurances of Rove himself...and we all know how well that held up...

Yet he appears to be up for it again. Wonder how it'll work out this time? See Scottie cover Rove's butt, here:
Q Did he meet with Karl Rove, for example?

MR. McCLELLAN: We don't -- we don't ever tend to get into those staff-level meetings.
And it continues:
Q Scott, that's not a fair burden to place on us. This is a guy who is a tainted lobbyist, and he has connections -- we want to know -- with whom in the White House. You shouldn't demand that we give you something specific to go check it out. I mean, this guy is radioactive in Washington. And he knows guys like Karl Rove. So did he meet with him or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: I know of nothing that --

Q Don't put it on us to bring something specific. It's a specific question about a specific individual.

Q Can you tell us if he met with Karl Rove?

MR. McCLELLAN: Because we don't discuss staff-level meetings --

Q Of course you do, whenever you want to discuss staff-level meetings. And if Karl Rove, who has ties to Ralph Reed, which he does, we want to know if he has ties to Jack Abramoff, and if they met --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I can answer that.

Q Oh, great. Well, before you said --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I mean, about if he knows -- yes, he knows -- he knows Mr. Abramoff. They are both former heads of the College Republicans. That's how they got to know each other way back, I think it was in the early '80s. And my understanding is that Karl would describe it as more of a casual relationship, than a business relationship. That's what he has said.

But if you've got specific matters that I need to look into, it's my point that I think it's your obligation to bring that to my attention and I'll be glad to take a look into it.
So they know each other from College Republican days and the relationship is "casual" and not "business"...that's the line that Karl is trotting out, can't wait to find out what Abramoff's version is.

Republicans like the word "plantation" too

AMERICAblog and Atrios show us how much...

You can't say that in America!

Ah, the perils of free speech. The delicate ears that may be offended. Take the RNC for example. I'm sure this line from was deeply offensive and shocking to Ken and the gang:
The House "has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about," said Clinton, D-New York. "It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard."
You see Ken and his gang are rarely so indelicate, are they?

Now I can't say this was the most eloquent metaphor to be employed for the occasion. Nor is it one I personally would have chosen to use. But it does embody the same criticism that Al Gore voiced yesterday on the impotence of Congress and it's excessive deference to the President. They both made the same point. Clinton was simply more evocative, shall we say. Personally, I prefer Gore's method of eloquence and forcefulness in making the point.

But for all the shrinking violets out there who like to dish it out but can't take it, you get the Impolitical salute: cry me a freakin' river...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Yummy

Nagin calls for rebuilding 'chocolate' New Orleans .

Settle down

British media, exaggerating: Telegraph : Conservative juggernaut will crush Canada's ruling Liberals, polls predict.

Everyone should read this speech

This speech is just brilliant. I have not read anything like it from a politician or public figure in ages. It is sweeping and I'd venture to say, when people look back on the Bush administration in the years to come, historic. speaks eloquently and fluently about the decline of the U.S. system of checks and balances. What a sad state of affairs that someone like Al Gore is so easily derided by critics and consistently marginalized in the U.S. The petty digs by the RNC yesterday were embarrassing. And so I am re-linking to it for today:Transcript: Former Vice President Gore's Speech on Constitutional Issues. Here are some excerpts that are key, for those who don't have the time to read it, and which may have been overlooked by media coverage.

On the Bush administration's expansion of presidential power under their theory of the "unitary executive":
Under this theory, the president's authority when acting as commander in chief or when making foreign policy cannot be reviewed by the judiciary, cannot be checked by Congress. And President Bush has pushed the implications of this idea to its maximum by continually stressing his role as commander in chief, invoking it as frequently as he can, conflating it with his other roles, both domestic and foreign.

And when added to the idea that we have entered a perpetual state of war, the implications of this theory stretch quite literally as far into the future as we can imagine.
On the Bush wiretapping:
It is therefore vital in our current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to safeguard our Constitution against the present danger posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the executive branch and the president's apparent belief that he need not live under the rule of law.

I endorse the words of Bob Barr when he said, and I quote, "The president has dared the American people to do something about it. For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will."

A special counsel should be immediately appointed by the attorney general to remedy these obvious conflicts of interest that prevents them from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the president.
And Gore eviscerated the lack of Congressional fortitude that exists today:
But the most serious damage in our constitutional framework has been to the legislative branch.

The sharp decline of Congressional power and autonomy in recent years has been almost as shocking as the efforts by the executive to attain this massive expansion of its power.

I was elected to the Congress in 1976. Served eight years in the House, eight in the Senate, presided over the Senate for eight as vice president.

Before that, as a young man, I saw the Congress firsthand as the son of a senator. My father was elected to Congress in 1938 -- 10 years before I was born -- and left the Senate after I had graduated from college.

The Congress we have today is structurally unrecognizable compared to the one in which my father served.

There are many distinguished and outstanding senators and congressmen serving today. I am honored to know them and to have worked with them.

But the legislative branch of government as a whole, under its current leadership, now operates as if it were entirely subservient to the executive branch.

It is astonishing to me and so foreign to what the Congress is supposed to be.


Moreover, too many members of the House and Senate now feel compelled to spend a majority of their time not in thoughtful debate on the issues but, instead, raising money to purchase 30-second television commercials.

Moreover, there have now been two or three generations of congressmen who don't really know what an oversight hearing is.

In the '70s and '80s, the oversight hearings in which my colleagues and I participated held the feet of the executive branch to the fire no matter which party was in power.

And, yet, oversight is almost unknown in the Congress today.

...

Members of the minority party are now routinely excluded from conference committees, and amendments are routinely disallowed during floor consideration of legislation.

In the United States Senate, which used to pride itself on being the greatest deliberative body in the world, meaningful debate is now a rarity.

Even on the eve of the fateful vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq, Senator Robert Byrd famously asked, "Why is this chamber empty?"

In the House of Representatives, the number who face a genuinely competitive election contest every two years is typically less than a dozen out of 435.


And too many incumbents have come to believe that the key to continued access to the money for re-election is to stay on the good side of those who have the money to give.

And, in the case of the majority party, the whole process is largely controlled by the incumbent president and his political organization. So the willingness of Congress to challenge the executive branch is further limited when the same party controls both Congress and the administration.

The executive branch time and again has co-opted Congress' role. And too often Congress has been a willing accomplice in the surrender of its own power.
So there you go, a few choice excerpts to give you the flavour of what public discourse should be but rarely is anymore.

Nomination for new Alberta license plate slogan: "Cash is king"

Inspirational stories out of Alberta these days, usually about having too much money and not knowing what to do with it. So what do we find tonight? There's this, "Alberta buys way out of welfare court case":
Alberta has quietly settled a lawsuit covering thousands of people who were shortchanged by the welfare system over more than two decades.
...
The lawsuit, filed two years ago, claimed the province underpaid or illegally clawed back money from welfare recipients, severely handicapped Albertans and people receiving widow's pensions.

The policies were changed last year, but thousands of Albertans who were receiving welfare benefits from 1979 to 2004 are now eligible for settlements.
Big of them.

And a very intriguing new development in the federation, here. Apparently the electoral strait jacket in which they find themselves is somewhat limiting for a province with so much cash on hand. So they're exporting their political influence in a very non-traditional way:
Conservatives in Alberta are not only sending their MPs to assist in other ridings across the country, they're sending money to help defeat Liberals in Ontario and Quebec.
Don't have enough seats in the House of Commons? Can't get a Triple-E Senate? Then buy some seats out East...yeah, that's an interesting little end run around the Liberals. Wonder if any of that money is making its way into my riding?

That's a shame

Tories struggle in Toronto's Liberal strongholds...







(CTV.ca)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Right freakin' on

(Photo: AP)

was so on today, it's a must see....

Here's a sense of what he spoke about:
Former Vice President Al Gore said today that recent revelations that the Bush administration monitored domestic telephone conversations without obtaining warrants "virtually compels the conclusion that the president of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently."

In an hour-long speech during which he grew animated and frequently raised his voice, Mr. Gore called on the attorney general to appoint a special counsel to investigate the matter and recommended that Congress hold "comprehensive - not just superficial - hearings." He also said telecommunications companies that provided access to their networks to the government should stop doing so.

(emphasis added)
This latter point, on the telco companies that have participated in this activity, is something that has fallen under the radar screen thus far and it's about time a spotlight is being shone upon it. And as to the atmosphere of fear that has been cultivated by Bush et al. as they seek to justify such acts, here's Gore:
"Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march - when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?" he said. "It is simply an insult those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they."
Here's the full text of the speech. Read and think about Gore in '08.

This must mean it's OK then

Laura Bush Backs Domestic Spying Program - Yahoo! News.

Hit the road, Jack

And don't you come back,
If the result of this campaign is a diminished NDP caucus and a majority Conservative government, Layton's days as leader could be counted.
...no more, no more, no more, no more....

A good sign in Quebec

There is federalist life in Quebec. It's still not overwhelming, but this election has shown that Quebecers apparently are looking for something to vote for rather than to vote against. And this is good for the national unity front. In two polls today, if you combine support for the federalist options, they are now outpolling the Blech. From the Star today:
In Quebec, with 75 seats up for grabs, the separatist Bloc is at 46.6 per cent, the Tories at 21.6 per cent, the Liberals at 18.1 per cent, the NDP at 9.8 per cent, and the Greens at 3.3 per cent. EKOS polled 286 Quebecers and the data there is accurate to within 5.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The Globe has these numbers, which are a little shocking though:
And the upward trend continues for the Conservatives in the rest of Quebec where they are polling at 32 per cent compared with 41 per cent for the Bloc Québécois and 12 per cent for the Liberals. If these numbers hold, the Conservatives likely will win seats in Quebec.
These numbers are likely off...there's a 10 point difference here in these polls on Tory support in Quebec. Still, the rejection of the Blech is welcomed. A party that just says "no,""no," and "no"...a protest posture that is difficult to sustain in the long run. The Blech has had a long run as well (are they too at the 12 year mark?) and perhaps Quebecers too are hearing the change siren calling, an angle not fully contemplated by federalists thus far - except for those advising the Conservatives, apparently, who have tapped into the interest in a new alternative...

This will be shameful

The Globe and Mail: Tory plan to revisit marriage law called 'reckless'. You can say that again.

The spectre of a Conservative majority government bringing a motion before the House of Commons, in a free vote, to define marriage back to the one man-one woman common law version will be quite a sight indeed. I would venture to say most people don't want this debate re-opened. It's a well-settled question now, as pointed out by Blech leader Gilles Duceppe during the first English debate. Well-settled by both the courts of this country and the federal government which passed the Same-Sex Marriage Act.

If this vote were to occur and legislation were to follow, it would clearly be struck down by the courts as discriminatory. That's certain. So will be choosing to impose great expense on gay Canadians who will have to, once again, litigate for the rights that the rest of us have and more importantly, he will be putting people through a rather gratuitous and painful disenfranchisement. This is an unjustifiable pursuit by a future federal government. A waste of all of our time and a shameful path to walk.

Is the new and improved, tolerant and moderate Stephen Harper listening?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Tragedy

CTV.ca | Foreign Affairs diplomat killed in Afghanistan...

Bob Fife watch

Robert Fife, now on the Harper bandwagon - oops, campaign trail - was at it again last night. Fawning over this apparently mindblowing policy announcement from :
As part of his new, moderate image, Harper said gay and lesbian couples would be eligible for his party's proposed child care benefit. "We will give our child care allowance to every parent without exception," he said.
Fife crowed over Harper's "evolution" as a politician after recounting this policy "development" from Saturday. Amazing, isn't it? Apparently Harper gets national news validation via Fife for simply treating gays equally to other Canadians...yeah, that's worthy of applause, Bob.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Saturday funnies...

Been wanting to post this for a while now...very clever...

Harper's personal challenge

If anything, this column in today's Globe shows that the you've been seeing in the campaign is not necessarily what you'll be getting.

The "man of the people" image fostered during the campaign, that he's a Tim Horton's kind of guy, hang out at the hockey rink kind of guy...how about this?
One person who has known the man for a long time and remains profoundly ambivalent about him (and who asked not to be named), argues that the key to figuring out Mr. Harper is to understand that he always believes he is the smartest person in the room. University of Calgary political scientist Tom Flanagan is perhaps Mr. Harper's closest political confidant, but the Conservative Leader has had no real mentor (something that personally disappointed Mr. Manning, who had hoped to be one) because he has never encountered anyone he considered markedly wiser than he is.
(I hear echoes of Preston Manning here...) So he thinks he's the smartest person in the room? Well what's the problem with that?
He has mellowed in recent years, say his defenders; not enough, say his detractors. For Rick Anderson, an independent consultant and former aide to Preston Manning, this is the crucial question.

If Stephen Harper is a success as a prime minister — and I think all of us would want him to succeed — it will be because of the ways he has matured over the past five or 10 years, as we have all matured, and learned to combine his idealism with respect for the views of others,” Mr. Anderson says.

And if he fails, “it will be because he has not learned that wisdom.”
The problem is just as Anderson articulates and is noted in the beginning of the article. If Harper runs up against a brick wall, i.e., he doesn't get his way, he has a track record of picking up his marbles and going home. And he's never going to be a warm, personable guy. Likability is barely present here. Why is that important? People will still root for you in tough times if they like you, they'll stick with you. He doesn't have that reservoir:
Mr. Harper lacks the ability to publicly empathize. It is unlikely that a Prime Minister Harper would ever speak for the people, comfort them, move them, as Bill Clinton did after the Oklahoma bombings, as Tony Blair did by reading from First Corinthians at Diana's funeral, as Paul Martin did at the memorial service for the police officers killed at Mayerthorpe. Mr. Harper is just not that kind of man.

But he is not an automaton. Mr. Harper was at the Mayerthorpe service, and when he recounted it later to his staff, tears filled his eyes. When the family cat was run over by a car outside Stornoway, Mr. Harper was distraught. The staff in his office circulated a condolence card, and not in jest.
Forgive me, but the cat anecdote just doesn't do it for me. Maybe it will for the cat lovers of the world. My apologies. The point is that this guy is going to be put on the national stage in full view, not something he's really experienced thus far. There's something about that one position of leadership and accountability that can bring out one's fatal flaws and magnify them like no other experience can. Look at Clinton's fooling around, Bush's exposed incompetence in the wake of Katrina when the "great protector" halo was burst...and see what has happened to Martin. A vaunted, competent Finance Minister who could do no wrong became Mr. Dithers, lacking focus and vision, not the great PM that had been expected. There is something about being the top dog that brings out who you are, good and bad, there's no escaping it...

I for one am betting on Harper's latent flaws being magnified in the same vein as other recent leaders. But we shall see how it all plays out...

Idiots

Some Canadians outside Quebec like the Bloc, say Duceppe has charisma...

Rove-sted

Laugh it up, ...

Friday, January 13, 2006

The joker

Here it comes

If there's a majority in the offing, get ready for some big changes people:
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says he's ready to reopen the debate over Canadian participation in the American missile defence system.

The missile defence initiative, combined yesterday with a Harper pledge to turn his back on the Kyoto accord and his refusal to endorse a $5 billion deal for aboriginal aid, could signal the type of major policy realignment Canadians can expect under a Harper government.

In an interview with Radio-Canada yesterday, Harper pledged a free vote in the House of Commons on the controversial proposal to join the missile defence program.

Harper said if the Americans made another proposal and "if we come to the conclusion that it's in the country's best interests, it's my intention to turn this treaty over to Parliament for a free vote."

The Bush administration's defence plan includes setting up a network of land-based missiles designed to intercept incoming missiles. The U.S. has long sought Canada's participation, although it's unclear what role Canada would play. The initial phase of the plan called for defensive missiles to be placed in California and Alaska.
If it's a minority Conservative goverment, which is likely, then such reports are a little overblown. I would expect Harper to continue his masquerade during a minority parliament and focus on the items he's raised during the campaign...he's not likely to feed three parties who occupy the center to left parts of the political spectrum such red meat and bring down his government in the near future...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

That's a shame

So sad for the Bloc, the free ride is over. CBC News: Don't vote for Bloc, Dumont tells Quebecers.

Bubble boy: bring your family

Bush seems to be in some kind of a fantasy world :
President Bush, in his first visit to New Orleans since October, said he was struck by the contrast in the city now compared to the days just after Hurricane Katrina, when flooding destroyed thousands of homes and businesses and forced the city to evacuate all of its residents.

"From when I first came here to today, New Orleans is reminding me of the city I used to visit," the president said today at a roundtable discussion with 11 small business owners and community leaders. "It's a heck of a place to bring your family."

He went on to say: "For folks around the country who are looking for a great place to have a convention, or a great place to visit, I'd suggest coming here to the great city of New Orleans." His comments were in contrast to those of the White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, who on Wednesday said he had counseled the president to lower his expectations of what he would find as he toured New Orleans and Mississippi today to review recovery efforts from the devastating storm.

"I had to manage his expectations this morning, because while there has been great progress, there continues to be great need - indescribable need," Mr. Card told the United States Chamber of Commerce.

The Gulf Coast economy is struggling and only about half of the 90 million tons of debris from Hurricane Katrina in August has been cleared.

In New Orleans, about a quarter of residents who fled have returned, and many neighborhoods are still abandoned wastelands, with uninhabitable homes, no working street lights and sidewalks piled with moldy garbage. The levee system is as vulnerable as ever.

Evolution

Of the Harper species. You decide...

Separated at birth?

Graham Richardson, CTV news reporter(left)....
and Derek Zeisman, Conservative candidate and big cross-border shopper (right)...

Sigh


It's hard to keep blogging about this election...but what the heck...

There are some of us left who think Stephen Harper has been getting a pretty, pretty free ride through this campaign. Somewhat a propos to that thought, the Impolitical husband noticed last night that Robert Fife, the CTV reporter who has been just hammering, pilloring, disparaging, and whatever other verb you want to throw in - really just dumping all over Martin for the past week or so...has been moved over to cover Harper from here on in. Wonder if there will be equal opportunity scrutiny or is it bandwagon party time, Bob? If I hear this guy say how "Prime Ministerial" Stephen Harper looks one more time...that night that the Liberal plane broke down must have caused Bob to lose a night's sleep or something and he's certainly paid them back in spades...very interesting to see this switch of Fife to the Harper campaign at this stage...wonder if he was the switchor or the switchee...

Boo freakin' hoo to Jason Kenney et al. about the Liberal attack ads about Harper. These guys would be doing the exact same thing if they were in the other seat...oh, wait they are doing it, that's right, silly me, even as they profess such righteous indignation. The Conservatives have been running negative ads through the whole campaign, they're just getting a free pass because that's the story line for this election folks.

And just what does "Prime Ministerial" mean, anyway? That term has been bestowed upon Harper so lazily during the past week, lapping up the Conservative talking points. Does it mean he's showing character and integrity? Great leadership? I can accept those characteristics as defining "Prime Ministerial." But explain to me how Harper has suddenly become Prime Ministerial? He conducted himself gamely during the debates. He certainly wasn't anything special and it put on full display his newly adopted grin for this campaign. He's made policy announcements, mostly scripted events on a daily basis, he's been careful in handling questions from the media. He's kept his wingnuts under wraps (for the most part, apparently word now of some alleged smuggling on the part of a BC Conservative candidate - but that's not criminal activity, it's only driving an undeclared Mercedes across the border with enough alcohol on board to sustain a party for 100 or so of your closest friends, nothing wrong with that mate!)...other than that, I'm at a loss to understand why Harper has been bestowed this title so easily by so many, other than by default. I will reserve judgment on this issue, myself, until he's done something that actually warrants it...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Watch what you say

Because Bush says so. Thanks for the reminder on how freedom of speech should be exercised. And no thanks.

In talking about the situation in Iraq, Bush said this:
"a country that divides into factions and dwells on old grievances cannot move forward and risks sliding back into tyranny."
How painfully unaware he is of the irony of this statement...

Karl Rove watch

It's a new year and so, perhaps turning over a new leaf, Novak has discovered that our man makes mistakes. Novak takes it to him on the new Medicare drug benefit that's just gone into effect. Perhaps someone is seeking to distance himself from the White House and Rove in particular? In any event, Novak thinks the Medicare benefit is a blunder of significant proportions as it was designed to co-opt seniors, traditionally Democratic voters, to the Repub side. But it's so complex and disappointing that Novakula seems to think it will come back to bite the Repubs in November. We can only hope and we're with you, O King of the Undead.

In other news, there's speculation that Rove was offered a plea deal in December by Fitzgerald but Rove said thanks, but no thanks:
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is said to have spent the past month preparing evidence he will present to a grand jury alleging that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove knowingly made false statements to FBI and Justice Department investigators and lied under oath while he was being questioned about his role in the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity more than two years ago, according to sources knowledgeable about the probe.
...
But sources knowledgeable about the case against Rove say that he was offered a plea deal in December and that Luskin had twice met with Fitzgerald during that time to discuss Rove's legal status. Rove turned down the plea deal, which would likely have required him to provide Fitzgerald with information against other officials who were involved in Plame's outing as well as testifying against those people, the sources said.
I'm sure Karl will be happy to take his chances in court, what with the established precedent of GOP donors ponying up for Libby, combined with the likelihood that Jr. will issue a pardon as he's going out the door in '08...