Saturday, June 30, 2007

Happy Canada Day weekend!

(AP PHOTO/Nathan Denette/CP)

The CN Tower is red and white this weekend for Canada Day. Drove by Friday night and it looks fantastic. It's better in person, with the colour being more vivid and fluid, but here's a sense of what it looks like. Have a great weekend no matter where you are and be thankful that we are so fortunate to live in the greatest country on earth...:) Happy 140th to it, as well!

It's the fear



Olbermann offers up some perspective on the London car bomb media extravaganza in the form of former CIA officer, Larry Johnson. Some of his advice: "Let's stop the alarmist behaviour." And again, attention is paid to the faulty notion that fighting "them" over "there" will prevent such incidents from happening over "here."

Friday, June 29, 2007

Olbermann skewers Rupert Murdoch



Once again, Keith gives you the goods as the Faux tycoon seeks to get his claws on the WSJ.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Still room for Gore

Interesting poll from New Hampshire at this link: "Clinton Leads in New Hampshire but Gore Would Win."

Black now with the jury

For what it's worth, I agree with Steve Skurka's prediction that Conrad Black is likely to be found innocent by the jury in his Chicago trial. For this reason:
Mr. Skurka said prosecutors have failed to prove that fraud took place at Hollinger International Inc., because so many documents have been introduced to the jury that outlined details of the alleged illegal non-compete payments.
The Globe and Mail

"This is a fraud case replete with disclosure," he said. "The essence of fraud is concealment and this is the antithesis of that."

Defence lawyers have done a good job of showing that the payments were not only legal, but approved by directors and reviewed by outside lawyers and auditors, he added.
The prosecution's final rebuttal today, by Eric Sussman, focusing on the non-compete payments seemed weak:
"The important question to ask is 'the why' of these payments, not whether they were or weren't disclosed," Sussman said of the millions of dollars in non-competition payments that the government claims Black and the others stole.

"Mr. Black is saying the 'why' is because the buyers demanded it," he said. "The buyers requested it. It's the company's money. That's what they are taking."

The non-compete payments flowed from the sale of hundreds of newspapers and other media properties that Black's one-time publishing empire, Hollinger International Inc., began selling in 2000 to pay off bank debt.

Buyers make such payments to insure that sellers -- in this case Black and his associates -- will not reenter a media market with a new rival publication once they have left it.
Seems to me it's a bit late to be asking about the "why"...but this should be fascinating...

Profiles in courage

Maureen Dowd plays up the Cheney focus in the news in her column today, "W Learns from Students":
A group of high school Presidential Scholars visiting the White House on Monday surprised President Bush by slipping him a handwritten letter pleading with him to not let America become known for torture and urging him to stick to the Geneva Conventions with terror detainees.

The president reassured the teenagers that the United States does not torture. Then the vice president unleashed a pack of large dogs on the kids, running them off the White House lawn, before he shut down the Presidential Scholars program and abolished high schools.
Lol...:) Really though, the kids should have handed the letter to the real guy in charge, the Veep. The latest evidence of Cheney's control can be found in today's instalment of the Washington Post series on Cheney where his control of the Environmental Protection Agency's operations are on full display. The big scoop found in it today...Christie Todd Whitman declares to the world that she left as EPA Commissioner due to Cheney's interference and control over policy to such an extent that she could not conscience the direction he was taking. Not for her previously cited family reasons. Surprise, surprise. She finally quit when faced with having to sign a rule that she just could not stomach.

In the same vein, see also, Republican Senators Richard Lugar and George Voinovich breaking with Bush on Iraq yesterday. Now that the administration's in the low 30's and sinking in approval, guess it's safe for such courageous souls to come forward and speak the truth. Profiles in courage, all...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A big shout out to Henry Waxman today

If anyone can hold the Bush crowd to account, I'm betting on this guy...calling them out, holding their feet to the fire. Today he's going after alleged White House security violations, building on Cheney's ludicrous refusal to submit to any kind of proper, legally compelled oversight.

Way to keep at them...:)

Oh the places Harper will go

I'm looking forward to Mini Bush's grand world tour this summer, pegged as "Sydney to Santiago" by the CP. I wonder if there'll be t-shirts? Let the travel season begin. Tim Powers, I see, is perhaps setting the bar too high for his leader on the expectations front:
Party and government insiders say placing Harper on the international stage during the parliamentary break puts him in the best possible light. Photo-ops on the tarmacs and in the palaces of exotic locales emphasize the statesman, rather than the Tory politician with his various difficulties at home.

"It's a good environment for him because it allows him to showcase his leadership and his presence on the world stage, and that reinforces his bona fides with Canadians," said party strategist Tim Powers. (emphasis added)
Say wha? Bona fides with Canadians? You mean with the income trust Canadians? The Atlantic Accord Canadians? Or the Kyoto-supporting Canadians? And as for presence...where, pray tell, has such presence been evident?

On this trip?



Or on this trip?



Or the recent G8 where Mini Bush served as a bridge between the intransigence of the U.S. on global warming and Europe's desire for action and where the U.S. "won" the day?

Presence? Methinks the PMO is working a little too hard on spinning this thing. Check out another source's strange characterization of Harper:
In Haiti in particular, Harper will be able to advertise the fact it has become Canada's No. 2 destination for long-term aid dollars after Afghanistan.

Said one government source: "It presents him as an activist, well-rounded PM that is doing something and accomplishing something." (emphasis added)
It might just be me, but "activist" and "Stephen Harper" are not two concepts I often see used in the same sentence. This is the PM, after all, who has called Kyoto a "socialist scheme" in his past and whose environmental priorities were sorely lagging until the polls provided a rude awakening. Not exactly the stuff "activists" are made of...

But there's more spinning from the insiders. And its worse.
Shortly thereafter, Harper is scheduled to shoot up to the other end of the hemisphere on an important trip to the Arctic.

Harper visited the area last year, but in 2007 he's expected to come with his pockets full - with possible announcements for new patrol vessels and a northern naval station. One government insider says it's part of a patriotic vein that Harper would like to tap, mining some classic elements of the Canadian identity that have been buried in recent years.

"It's harkening back to another time - of being proud of our heritage and building our nation," said the source, recalling the ascendency of Tory prime minister John Diefenbaker in the late 1950s. "You'll note his insistence in highlighting national icons, like the North, the red ensign and hockey."
(emphasis added)
Yes, it's back to the 1950's with Harper... I suppose we're all supposed to get misty-eyed at the PM evoking such symbolism for us, hey? Don't you think they might have a better shot at this stuff working if the PM's staff didn't explicitly telegraph it to us?

(And about that red ensign reference...that struck me as a little strange. Not something you hear every day. And something they might want to be careful with. Check out this background on the red ensign and the heading "Use today.")

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Cheney presidency

What to say, at this late date, about Dick Cheney and the challenge he represents to the democratic operation of the U.S. government...it's frightening. If you're following the Washington Post series on Cheney, as many bloggers are, what's remarkable is the insight presented courtesy of former (and possibly current) insiders who are dishing on Cheney's many power grabs and steering of the ship of state. As noted in today's article, Cheney is so skilled an operator behind the scenes that he rarely loses a battle. He and his chief legal counsel, David Addington, wield tremendous power and have been instrumental in navigating the legal and political battles to enable cruel interrogation techniques to be employed by the CIA and in sustaining the Gitmo blight on the American reputation in the world. There is a litany of powerful Bush advisers who have failed to dent the Veep's leviathan presence and influence in the White House. It is truly a remarkable bit of reporting we are reading.

And timely given Cheney's ludicrous refusals of late to submit to any kind of accountability, no matter that the law provides for it. Democrats are going to cut his funding? Good luck with that. Unless they're prepared to go to the brink...and I would strongly encourage them to do so, I'm betting a continued string of victories for Cheney. The American system of democratic government with checks and balances has failed thus far.

If this is not a co-presidency, then I'd certainly like to see one.

Footsie watch continues

Another Conservative mucks it up:
Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn, who accompanied Harper to Roberval, said the matter is clear to him.

"Each Quebecer knows what we are," he said. "We are a nation. We are one of the two nations which founded this country."
Hmmm...I thought this nifty Quebecers form a nation within Canada stuff, courtesy of Mini Bush, was supposed to foster national unity (see Lawrence Cannon quote)...kinda sounds like two nations to me.

My oh my... the interesting and diverse interpretations just keep on coming...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fortier playing footsie

Conservatives still being unclear:
[...]Public Works Minister Michael Fortier, who was at the same reception as Dion and Duceppe, said the Liberal leader is addressing a matter that was settled months ago.

But when asked to define the Quebecois nation himself, Fortier said Quebecers know what it means.

"Today the people who are celebrating the Fete nationale, on June 24th, are Quebecois, they are people in Quebec," he said.

"There are people who are celebrating outside Quebec but it is in Quebec where the Fete nationale is celebrated. I think this debate was settled in November."
Think they know exactly what they're doing by continuously using the term "Quebecois"...it's called pandering, footsie, nodding to the nationalist sentiment in Quebec...insert your favourite term.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Best of luck to Belinda

"MP Stronach is battling breast cancer."

The helpless Conservatives

Harper's spokesman pleads:
[...]Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas later said the government was open to applying the bill if the Liberals would tell them how to do it.

"If the Liberals have a plan or a way to reach six per cent below 1990 on greenhouse gas reductions they should share that information with us so we can work together on achieving it."
We empathize, my friend, but unfortunately for us, your party is in government...best do your job and stop shirking - or the voters will get you out of the way...:)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Terrible optics for Harper

Mini Bush does know that a law passed by the Parliament is not subject to any kind of veto, doesn't he? That we do not have a separation of legislative and executive powers as they do in the U.S., right? Or is Mini Bush once again comporting himself according to his nickname?

Consider the headlines we're seeing now, on the Kyoto legislation receiving royal assent: "Harper dismisses Kyoto compliance law," "Harper dismisses Kyoto compliance law as constitutionally impossible." Not good. The PM seems to be signifying that his government will not be giving effect to the will of the majority of Parliament.

This is what happens when we have a minority government situation. Private member bills will pass with such support. And once they've become law, and this one has received royal-assent now, then it's not to be ignored. If funding is required to support a plan, then a money bill may be the next step, in the fall session. If Harper respects that he's in a minority government situation, he should be open to working with the other parties on this. If not, let the chips fall where they may.

As for the simplistic talking point that the Liberals were in power for 13 years and did nothing...give it a rest. Does anyone seriously think that if the Liberals were in power right now, that we'd be subjected to the can't-do attitude on the environment that the Conservatives have evinced? Don't think so. The Conservatives immediately reversed course from where the previous government was heading. That talking point also presumes a level of environmental priority and public consciousness that did not exist throughout the 1990's. It is now when the time has become ripe to execute significant environmental action now that the government's financial house has been put in order - thanks to the Liberal governments of the 1990's. We now have a federal government that's in the position of actually CUTTING the GST, in a tremendously flexible position. How about, say, restoring that 1% to fund Kyoto? People were already used to it and if it were positioned as a challenge, to support a national commitment to the environment in an election campaign...well, lots of ideas to be hashed out, I'm sure. But the threat of economically crippling and "massive tax increases" can surely be countered.

This is a risky strategy for Harper and the Conservative wonder boys...they're counting on this to play with the electorate...

Thinking Blogger Awards

Yes, it's quite the development I've learned of...Mentarch at Another Point of View has been kind enough to tag me with that interesting little phenomenon known as the Thinking Blogger Award. Right back at ya, Mentarch, the blogging community is a wonderful thing.


So here's the business part - the rules:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.
And in turn, five blogs that make me think:

1. liberal catnip, of course. Let's just get this out of the way. Always right there on the leading edge with a progressive critique of the Bush administration and its many foibles. Terrific research and powerful writer.

2. A View from the Left. This kid's got moxie! A 19 year old university student who unabashedly puts her views out there on all things going on in the federation. When I was 19 and away at university, I'll tell you, I wasn't spending my time in front of a computer, if you know what I mean...so good for her for gettin' this done!

3. I have to include Cerberus. The big dog of the legal set. What with his getting-sued advice and all, he's a blogger's best friend, not to mention the dose of hilarity he injects with his many, shall we say, projects.

4. Afghanistanica. A very worthy blog to check out written by a graduate student studying the country. Timely and relevant for us, of course due to its focus. Great links/resources for anyone interested in learning more about this country beyond the superficiality of day to day media coverage.

5. Sir Robert Bond Papers. Yes, Bond...Robert Bond...:) Offers a great perspective from Newfoundland that's of great interest these days given the tremendous hullabaloo afoot in the nation over equalization, oil et al.

So there you go, enjoy all...:)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Harper's in good company

Gee, who else do we know who has scored well in response to inane polling questions such as who would you prefer to have a beer with? George W. Bush. And we all know how well that's worked out...:)
Planning a beer and barbecue bash? Forty-five per cent of respondents chose Harper as a guest, compared with 26 per cent for Dion.
So congratulations Mini Bush, you win this of the most hollow, irrelevant polling trivia!

We call him Mini Bush for good reason, don't ya know...:)

Quote of the day

Ontario A.G. Michael Bryant on fire:
After the tragic death Monday of trucker David Virgoe on Highway 400 in an accident allegedly caused by racing, Bryant yesterday threw down the gauntlet at The Fast and the Furious wannabes.

"Just on the balance of probabilities if we can establish that a car is being used for the unlawful purpose of street racing, we will seize it and you will never see it again.

"We will crush your car, we will crush the parts."
This has to be one of the most vibrant statements I've heard from a Canadian politician of late. Those Ontario Liberals seem to be consistently in sync with the public on major issues these days...could be trouble for opposition parties to find any elbow room...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hilarious

Bush appoints first "Total-Fucking-Mess Czar."

Really.

The Onion Radio News has the hilarious details...:)

"Belligerent federalism"

If I lived in Saskatchewan, I'd be mightily peeved at the flippant treatment of my province's concerns at the hands of the federal Conservatives of late...they seem to be going out of their way to mock Calvert. From today's reporting on Calvert's appearance before a Senate committee:
Calvert told the committee he doesn't believe the unelected upper house has the right to change or defeat the federal budget, which overhauls the federal-provincial equalization funding program.

"Oh, I see. So this is just all some fluff to support your lawsuit?" Tory Senator David Angus replied.

Calvert's NDP government is going to court in the fall to challenge the constitutionality of the federal budget's changes to equalization.

Calvert fired back at Angus: "I take a little offence at a senator of Canada calling what I'm saying 'fluff.' Just as I take a little offence from your prime minister standing up in the House of Commons and saying to the people of Canada that what Saskatchewan is doing is, quote, absurd."

Harper dismissed the Saskatchewan lawsuit as absurd after challenging any disgruntled premiers to take the government to court.

Calvert fumed that other federal ministers have variously called Saskatchewan's campaign for justice "nuts" and "juvenile."

"What I'm doing here is trying to stand up for the people of Saskatchewan because we don't have a Conservative in the House of Commons who will," he snapped.

One Tory MP from Saskatchewan, Andrew Scheer, later said Calvert is "out to lunch," reinforcing the premier's complaint that the Harper government practices "belligerent federalism."
Calvert's got his legal action together and we'll see how that goes. I'm never as quick as the federal Conservatives appear to be, to dismiss any legal claim so easily. There are competing provisions in the Constitution that are at issue here and there should be, at a minimum, more respect emanating out of Ottawa for the legal process now that it's begun. Is that too much to ask, especially in the wake of the plaudits for the decorum in evidence on the Hill yesterday - or was that just a one day thing for the Conservatives?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Brilliant Clinton Sopranos parody



This is hilarious...watch for a Sopranos cameo in the clip...:)

Is that the sound of major Conservative backtracking?

Or is it just a NASCAR backfiring?
Canadians should not link a Conservative party ad stamped on the hood of a pollution-causing NASCAR vehicle to the federal government's effort to halt climate change, a top cabinet minister said yesterday.

Four Conservative cabinet ministers helped launch the unusual ad at a racetrack east of Toronto this weekend, but Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon said "there's a difference" between the government and the political party.

"I don't think it's something that is related directly with the government of Canada," Cannon said. "It's a party initiative and I think that the officials from the party are the ones that should answer."
Can you say major, major goof?

Thank you, oh Conservative party gurus for the gift you have given bloggers like me on what might have been a very average news week...:)

And then there were four...

A New Brunswick MP joins the equalization fight: "Dear PM: You're cheating New Brunswick out of a billion dollars." And John Crosbie goes at it today as well.

So sad to see Mini Bush reaping the fruits of his divisive policies.

No-fly list ripe for problems

You can't help but read the reporting on this thing and shake your head. The procedure is littered with problems not to mention the fact that our government could be taking actual constructive steps to make flying more safe. Like improving technology in airports to examine baggage and cargo and prioritizing such measures over p.r. exercises undertaken to align ourselves with the most obtuse administration ever to wield power in Washington. How about that? Think a no-fly list is going to catch any terrorists in its net? Think we'll be safer for it? It's likely to produce more horror stories than anything.

So let's consider the mechanics of it in this report:
The list applies to all flights, both domestic and international, and was created by an advisory group to the Transport Minister composed of CSIS agents and the RCMP.
Is that the "broken" RCMP that's in on this? What kind of oversight exists on this advisory group's exercise of power to ensure it's not being abused and that names placed on the list are not done so for improper purposes? Is there any? Who appointed the advisory group and who's in it? Within any organization there are factions with known beliefs on issues...I wonder about the choices of individuals for such groups, particularly when there's no public disclosure of such matters.

Next:
Those named on the list are believed to pose an immediate threat to air security. They must also have been involved, or have been suspected of involvement, in a terrorist group, or they must have committed a serious and life-threatening crime against Canadian aviation.
Um, question for you...why aren't these people being arrested instead of being left to be halted by the airlines? Please explain that one to me like I'm a 10 year old.

Next up, the delightful airport experience:
Airlines are not permitted to print boarding passes for anyone with a name that matches someone on the list until that passenger proves he or she is not the person in question.

That means all passengers must arrive at the airport with one piece of government-issued photo identification, such as a driver's licence or a passport, that gives their name, sex and date of birth – or two pieces of government-issued identification, such as a birth certificate, that shows their name, sex and date of birth.
I can just imagine the stories that will emanate from individuals having to prove they are NOT the person named on the list to these airline personnel. Are they receiving any security training on such matters? Doubt it. Sounds like the airlines are shunting people off to Transport Canada to appeal. If your name's on that list - and we have no way of knowing who's on it, why they were placed there, etc. - and you've got ID confirming your name...what's going to happen? Kafkaesque arguments with airline and Transport Canada officials over your identity and likely a preponderance of decisions denying individuals the ability to fly.

This list is ripe for abuse in terms of who gets placed on it and why, discretion in the hands of airline officials over individuals mobility rights, issues that haven't even arisen yet.

(h/t to James Laxer's blog on this issue, great post.)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Nice contrast

"Ontario poised to put $600 million into developing green cars" while the Conservatives are sponsoring gas guzzling NASCARs driven by the author of Canada's own Mini-Drudge report...:)

That's a shame

Rupert's got company in his bid for the WSJ/Dow Jones as the Bancroft family maintains its anybody-but-Murdoch stance: "GE and Pearson Discuss Joint Bid For Dow Jones."
As Dow Jones & Co.'s controlling Bancroft family continues to fret about selling to Rupert Murdoch, General Electric Co. and Financial Times publisher Pearson PLC are in talks about making a joint bid for Dow Jones that would allow the family to keep a minority interest.

The two companies have discussed a scenario in which GE's CNBC business channel, the FT and Dow Jones would be combined into a privately held joint venture, according to people familiar with the matter. The venture would be owned equally by GE and Pearson, with the Bancrofts holding a minority stake, these people said.

The GE-Pearson talks -- which these people cautioned are preliminary and could collapse -- signal that an alternative may be emerging to News Corp.'s $5 billion bid for Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal.
They have good reason to stay away from the Faux News tycoon. Not that this new proposal is ideal, it continues a pattern of consolidation of media ownership in North America. But it's better than letting Murdoch get his hands on the Journal...

About that last episode of the Sopranos...

There was a great column in the Washington Post yesterday, "Eureka! Solving 'The Sopranos'," that's worth a look if you're still mulling over the meaning of that last episode. This analysis, and it's detailed enough for sure, suggests the final scene and events leading up to it were a recreation of the last supper that was, as the title of the episode suggested, "Made in America." Fun stuff.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mini Bush's phantom issue

He's just wishin' and hopin' for a break: "Harper warns Liberal senators to pass budget."

A freebie for Mini Bush...jump on the bandwagon and issue your stern budget warning...then when they pass it, you look like you're the in charge guy and can sternly lecture everybody about how they did the right thing. If they don't pass it, you've egged them on to defy you. Machiavellian Mayberrys are at it again...yeah, rail against the Senate. Canadians are on the edge of their seats and primed for some big time outrage against the Senate. Love to see them try this one.

Caught the report on CTV of Harper fake-smiling through his gritted teeth issuing his supposedly friendly advice to pass the budget. Smiling is like forced punishment for this guy...it's like nails on a chalk board...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Comforting thought of the day

Say wha?:
According to Dr. Justin Frank, a prominent Washington psychoanalyst and author of Bush on the Couch, the younger Bush is a "paranoid megalomaniac," partly because his father was emotionally and physically absent during his childhood, which "triggered feelings of both adoration and revenge in George W."
And just think, he might be drinking again...:)

Oddball politicians in the news

There's a welcome article in the NY Times today on the fake, robotic Mitt Romney who appears to be genetically incapable of offering a glimpse inside his soul, of anything that would indicate that he's a real human being like the rest of us. Talk about a scripted, polished, good looking candidate who will say anything, including radically changing his positions on issues like abortion. If that's what you're up for, the pretty-boy airline pilot who's being handled like tomorrow's election day, the Mittster's your guy...nice to see that his rise in the polls is increasing the level of scrutiny of this guy.

Speaking of oddball politicians who can't connect...of course, there's Mini Bush. Whose leadership has inspired an article like this one in the Globe today full of wonder about how he's actually survived in this minority government for so long. Reminding us how the Conservatives have run out of initiatives and have proven themselves fundamentally incapable of running that "good government" that Mini Bush stated once on CTV's Question Period as his priority...a clip that is most helpfully run time and again promotionally on CTV to remind us all of Harper's shortcomings in that regard. Also of note in the article, an "insider" touting the need for another cabinet shuffle, underscoring the thin government bench on display. And for good measure, the report also includes another aspect of the Conservatives' problems, the media clampdown run out of the PMO that's backfired:
One backbencher said the biggest frustration for MPs is the fact that they can't tell their own story to their own voters because of discouragement from the Prime Minister's Office about talking to the news media.

“They're going to write about politics and I want to be in the story,” the source said. “I want to get a message across. I think more and more guys are saying: ‘Look, we've got to talk to them.'”
You, my friend, are this week's winner of the Sandra Buckler-I'd-take-this-guy-down-hard-if-I-knew-who-he-was sweepstakes. All in all, this is a handy bookending of the Harper government, circa 2007.

Funny tribute to Bob Barker



He's gone...Olbermann's got some classic footage, memories of the "hanky panky," his turn in Happy Gilmore ("...the price is wrong, bitch!") and some classic moments...nicely done.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday night video for you



Chantal Kreviazuk's "Wonderful" live...no particular significance to this choice, just a nice little song from an artist I like immensely...:)

Idiots, part 2

Chantal Hebert agrees that Liberal Senators are playing with fire: "Beware, Liberal senators."

When Republican hatchet men cry



Tim Griffin, the U.S. attorney for Arkansas who's now resigned - he's the guy who was installed in the middle of the night by Alberto Gonzales in the now repealed Patriot Act emergency provisions - says a tearful goodbye in Arkansas...so sad.

Griffin's the Rove henchman who is alleged to have been instrumental in "caging" minority voters serving in the armed forces and getting them off the rolls in Florida to assist in W's electoral efforts. That stuff's illegal. No wonder he's gettin' the heck out of dodge and no wonder he's crying...

Libby off to jail, Olbermann's coverage



Olbermann's show, with substitute host extraordinaire Alison Stewart, covers the Scooter Libby off-to-jail story...around 3 minutes in, watch for David Shuster to float the idea that Libby could save himself from prison if he were to dish on Cheney. Not exactly a bet anyone would be making at this point, but still, at least someone's reporting on the possibility. And as Shuster notes, Libby's wife cried today in the courtroom, understandably. He's got young children. Certainly has his motivating factors to "focus the mind" and try to recall certain conversations with the boss he claims to have forgotten. But on the other hand, there are all those conservative backers who are really watching over his shoulder now, funding his defence, lobbying for his pardon. They're all gone if he makes a deal with prosecutors.

Nice little mention by Shuster of the "Republican wingnuts" who have been making threats against the judge and who deserve to be exposed nationally for their intimidation tactics.

A big shout out to the people of Massachusetts today

Congrats on staving off the neanderthals: "Massachusetts Gay Marriage to Remain Legal."
Same-sex marriage will continue to be legal in Massachusetts, after proponents in both houses won a pitched months-long battle on Thursday to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

“In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure,” Gov. Deval Patrick said after the legislature voted 151 to 45 against the amendment, which needed 50 favorable votes to come before voters in a referendum in November 2008.
Welcome fully on board to the peaceful progressive world where gay marriage exists and bothers nobody but wingnuts.

The state has rid itself of this reactionary referendum proposal that was encouraged by former Governor Mitt Romney, now taking his discriminatory act on the road in the GOP primary...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Gore doesn't think much of Mini Bush's bridge building

Calls G8 agreement on climate change a "disgrace."
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore denounced a deal by world leaders on curbing greenhouse gases as "a disgrace disguised as an achievement," saying on Thursday the agreement struck last week was insufficient.
...
"The eight most powerful nations gathered and were unable to do anything except to say 'We had good conversations and we agreed that we will have more conversations, and we will even have conversations about the possibility of doing something in the future on a voluntary basis perhaps."'
Harper played a crucial role in ensuring Merkel's compulsory targets would be derailed. He was instrumental in contributing to this futile outcome.

Oh and by the way, the rationale for Gore's candidacy continues to be glaring...

Your anti-democratic tendencies are showing, again

They're at it again, hauling out the trusty old Conservative obstruction manual: "Tories shut down environment committee rather than hear critical witnesses."

Information and education are dangerous things, don't ya know...

It's the big house for Scooter

Unless Bush has the nerve to pardon Libby, it looks like he's going to jail: "Judge Won't Delay Libby's Prison Term for Appeal." Of incredible significance, the conservative faithful's campaign to free Libby has taken a threatening personal turn against the judge:
Walton opened the hearing by noting the intense passions that surround the case. Since he imposed the sentence, the judge said, "I received a number of angry, harassing, mean-spirited phone calls and letters, some of those related to wishing bad things upon me and my family." Walton added: "Obviously, I find that very troubling. Those types of things cannot and will not have an impact on my decision."
Here's how the NY Times put it:
For one thing, Judge Walton revealed that he had received threatening letters in recent weeks. At first he just discarded them, he said, but as they kept coming, he began collecting them and has turned them over to the authorities.
How unsurprising. One of the worst side effects of the Bush administration's tenure, the trampling of respect for the impartial administration of justice rears its ugly head once again. Those issuing threats against the judge clearly won't be calmed by this:
After Walton's ruling, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said that "Scooter Libby still has the right to appeal, and therefore the President will continue not to intervene in the judicial process. The President feels terribly for Scooter, his wife and their young children, and all that they're going through."
Got anything interesting you'd care to share about your boss, right about now, Mr. Libby?

Idiots

"Liberal senators may defy Dion on budget bill."

Terrible, horrible, awful strategy, boys and girls...listen to your freakin' leader.

Let the bullies mock Calvert

Harper made a baffling statement in the House yesterday, mocking the Premier of Saskatchewan on his threat to take Ottawa to court. Nicely done there, Steve, by the way. Way to apply the cooler heads to the situation. Here's what he said to the Premier of Saskatchewan:
"I have to say that I think this debate is getting a bit to the level of the absurd," he said in the House of Commons. "We were being accused of breaking the contract with the Atlantic Accord. Now the Premier of Saskatchewan, who has no accord, was going to sue us for breaking his accord. I do not even understand what they are saying any more."
No, you clearly don't. Better check with some of them there lawyers you've got in your Department of Justice on this one. Because Calvert's making a constitutional argument, not a contractual one. And not having read the case law, if there is indeed any, on the equalization formula provision and the non-renewable natural resources provision of the Constitution Act and their interaction, I would off the top of my head not dismiss Calvert's possible suit against the federal government so cavalierly. Because he made no contract or "Accord" - and claims he wasn't offered to enter one, contrary to the Atlantic provinces at issue - he may in fact be in a better position to argue a straight out constitutional case that suggests discrimination against his province, that they're being unfairly singled out. And that as a result, the application of the budget equalization provisions causes a discriminatory result for his province. The equalization provisions in section 36 of the Constitution Act, 1982 are not supposed to take away from or infringe upon existing provincial powers, such as the non-renewable resource provisions in section 92A of the Constitution Act, 1867. Here's the way the Globe puts it:
Constitutional experts have said a province cannot sue the federal government for breaking the Atlantic Accord because the courts would interpret the dispute as a change in government policy rather than the breach of a contract.

But Mr. Calvert said he is not suggesting that a contract has been broken. Rather, he believes there is a constitutional argument to be made because the Constitution enshrines the principles of equity and fairness in the distribution of equalization payments and also says that non-renewable natural resources belong to the jurisdiction in which they are found.
So it appears that he's not arguing a flat out entitlement to Harper's promise on equalization, which might pose problems to argue legally, but somehow that there's interference in the province's ownership of its non-renewable natural resources. We shall see. But it looks interesting and should not be so readily dismissed.

In the meantime, I suppose we can expect more contempt from Harper given that Calvert's not playing nice in the backroom negotiation sessions like Rod MacDonald. And strange Conservative talking points on the need for contracts in order to pursue legal action.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My contribution to the effort...

Hey, blogging Taylor guy, the 1970's called...they want their Maureen McTeer shtick back...:)

Liberal Alberta, peeking through

They are way, way, way overdue on the "time for a change" dynamic in Alberta: "Liberals grab Klein's former seat." Well done, Calgarians, a big shout out to you today...:)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Help, we're falling

And hopefully, they won't be able to get back up...:) "Conservatives have fallen three percentage points behind the Liberals: Poll." Um, yeah...I would like to think. After the disastrous spring and early summer these guys have had, if they weren't losing ground I'd be mightily troubled. What a flat electoral horizon it appears to be, however. Nobody's moving significantly but I do enjoy that noticeably downward trend of Conservative numbers in Atlantic Canada, Ontario and Quebec.

The Libs need a national ad campaign that's positive, touting Dion and policies that are in sync with the vast majority of Canadians...that would do nicely say in early fall...assuming we don't have an election in the offing, of course.

Bush Justice Deparment siding with the big guys - big surprise

Backing corporate America against investors in the significant Enron shareholder case against its partner financiers:
The Bush administration rejected a Securities and Exchange Commission recommendation in a key Supreme Court case and did not support shareholders suing Wall Street banks for damages over Enron's collapse.

The Justice Department's solicitor general, who represents the administration in Supreme Court cases, did not file a friend-of-the-court brief by Monday's deadline. The SEC recently asked Solicitor General Paul Clement to file in support of the Enron shareholders.

The move puts the Bush administration at odds with the federal agency that oversees securities markets as well as with dozens of states and several consumer and investor advocates.
Get that? The Justice Department ignored the SEC on this. The Bush Justice Department seems to have an incredibly firm view of its priorities these days, doesn't it?
Dan Newman, a spokesman for Enron plaintiffs' law firm Lerach Coughlin, called the administration's stance "an unprecedented example of politics trumping the rule of law, a crass slap in the face to (SEC Chairman Christopher) Cox and the Enron victims from the hyperpolitical Bush Justice Department."

The case, pitting cable TV company Charter Communications Inc. against a shareholder that accused it of securities fraud, raises an issue known as scheme liability: Whether shareholders also can collect damages from investment banks, attorneys and accountants believed to have aided fraud by their corporate clients.

The high court's ruling in the case could determine whether the Enron plaintiffs' $40 billion lawsuit against the investment banks - stalled by a federal appeals court ruling in March - can proceed. The shareholders contend in the suit that Merrill Lynch & Co., Barclays PLC and Credit Suisse Group should be held equally liable as Enron Corp. as participants in the fallen energy company's massive accounting fraud.

In recent weeks, unions, state regulators and plaintiffs' attorneys pressed the SEC to intervene in the case on the side of the Enron shareholders. The agency did so on a 3-2 vote of its commissioners, as Cox, a former Republican congressman appointed by Bush, sided with the two Democrats.

Some observers had viewed the SEC's stance as a key test of the agency's leanings on questions of investor protection under Cox.
The politicization of the Justice Department has not been limited to the hirings and firings of U.S. attorneys. It also manifests itself in more subtle ways such as in this case, where substantive legal considerations like the SEC's recommendation that Justice back the shareholders are allowed to twist in the wind instead...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Go get 'em Jim

Jinx Flaherty about to do to takeover rules what he did for income trusts and the Atlantic Accord: "Tories eye revamp of takeover rules." These guys should be adopting more of a "do no harm" type of approach what with their record...still, we'll be awaiting the results...:)

Catching my eye today

The Sopranos ended last night...I didn't mind the ending, thought it was fitting. It resolved enough but left you wanting more. Fine by me. A clever moment...AJ and his girlfriend watching TV and it's the recent footage of Rove doing his "MC Rove" dance followed by Bush's dancing with African drummers at the White House...Karl Rove makes the Sopranos finale. How fitting as well. Trying to send us a message about Rove's place in this era? Is he akin to a Soprano mobster whose era is ending? Or just an absurd figure dancing while the world burns. And it's hard not to wonder about Chase's message with the terrorism theme of the past season. Was Agent Harris' tip off to Tony of Phil's location meant to suggest that the FBI/government had descended to the same depths as the mob? Just wondering...

Isn't anyone going to step up and foil Rupert Murdoch's takeover of the Wall Street Journal? Anyone? NBC and Microsoft are out. Come on, all you billionaires out there! Don't let the Faux in the hen house...the WSJ is a great paper, setting aside the yahoos in the editorial room of course, and if Murdoch gets his hands on it, that's all she wrote...the death of a great newspaper is imminent.

Excuse me for just realizing...but we're entering a 4 month long provincial election campaign here in Ontario:
Just a day under four months from now, voters go to the polls for the first fixed-date election in Ontario's history.

With the Oct. 10 date set long ago, there'll be none of the usual surprises waiting for the government to pull the plug and start the campaign.
4 MONTHS! A product of the fixed election date legislation. A federal version of this is on its way too. I don't think I like the feel of this so far and I'm a blogger that thrives on political content creation...the Canadian way is to have shorter, sprint like elections. And the intensity is already pretty high. Could take a lot to get me excited about this one in the short term. Preliminary observation though...John Tory is not Mike Harris.

Albanians, wtf? I mean, I get that you're grateful to the U.S., but it was Clinton who paved the way for Kosovo's independence via the NATO action the U.S. led in the 1990's, not Bush. Bush was hesitant on the issue...get to know him, you might feel differently and like the rest of us...:)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Have the courage of your convictions

The new Public Editor at the New York Times devotes a column today essentially justifying the Times' decision from last weekend NOT to run the JFK terror extravaganza on the precious front page real estate of the Times. Driven no doubt by Bill O'Reilly's ranting about it to his meathead viewers, expressing his outrage that the Times dared to put it on page 30/aka the front page of the Metro section. In O'Reilly world, if Bush foot soldiers hold a press conference alleging a serious terror plot, that's an automatic front pager. No questions asked.

Maybe with some other reputable government that people trusted and had reason to trust. But this is W's brain trust of politicized U.S. attorneys and a government with a record of trotting out years-old fodder at politically convenient moments. So the Times was naturally skeptical. And they had sources telling them the same thing, from inside the government to boot:
This time, Times reporters were hearing skepticism from sources in the government, Gottlieb said, and he became even more concerned that the newspaper not “buy into the hype on an issue where stories have frequently been overstated.”
Ho, ho, somebody did their job! And there was plenty of debunking in the following week that has justified the Times' decision not to shill terror for the Bush administration and whatever their purpose was last weekend (Democratic debate the next day?).

Hopefully this Public Editor will not be spending much of his time addressing the attacks of Bill O'Reilly and the right wing hordes. Because they'll be dishing out plenty. The Times has nothing to learn from that quarter on journalistic propriety...

Best of Olbermann from Friday, for sure



The breathtaking, sit on the edge of your seat coverage of the Paris Hilton breaking news spectacle on Friday courtesy of Olbermann's hilarious rendering. With appropriate background music. Chihuahua sightings. And the best part near the very end...the clever individual who had the wherewithal to create an "Obama-Hilton-08" sign and get it in front of the cameras. "A" for effort to that dude...:)

Here's that footage of Bush drinking whatever the heck he was drinking



Since there's so much interest in it out there. This is the BBC footage. Only American broadcast with the cojones to show it was Olbermann.

So let's review. They say it was non-alcoholic. He still got sick the next morning. And he lets himself be seen drinking a near-beer in public. Any consideration to the message you're sending to the world there, Georgie boy? Leader of the free world has a drinking problem but let's appear to be having a cold one in public anyway because really, who gives a f*%#, I'm the leader of the free world, right? And any consideration to the notion that the taste of that stuff cannot be a good thing for alcoholics to be whetting their whistles with? Or is that just me?

W's judgment, on full display...:)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Dear Paris

I hope you are doing OK back in prison. I know this must be rough on you and going to prison is not an easy thing. (Not that I would really know, never having been there myself.) But I would like to encourage you to think of your situation in a different light. In a less self-centred fashion, if you will. I would urge you to consider your jail time as a national public service that you are performing for your country. For I believe your case will, in a very strange way, prevent President Bush from pardoning Scooter Libby.

For you see, your incarceration has single-handedly focused the overbearing weight of media scrutiny in the U.S. on the issue of equal application of justice. The idea that a judicial system should, ideally, treat all who appear before it equally. Without concern for a defendant's race, gender, class or social status, among other considerations. It is this idea that has driven the court to re-insert you into the prison system to serve at least a respectable amount of time in your sentence.

Now here's where your public service comes in. The outrage expressed by many at your having been released so early suggests that there is tremendously strong support for the idea of equal application of justice among Americans. So strong, in fact, that it may just be that a pardon for Scooter Libby may now be unthinkable. Would the President dare pardon Scooter and spare him his jail time when even you, Ms. Hilton, are required to do your time? For a driving offence, no less? To pardon a convicted felon like Mr. Libby, I can just imagine what the outrage would be, judging from the reaction to your own case. Consider what kinds of statements we're reading in the news, 24 hrs. a day, given your situation:
“We cannot tolerate a two-tiered jail system where the rich and powerful receive special treatment,” Mr. Delgadillo said after learning of the release.
...
Judicial and police officials here said they were inundated with calls from outraged residents and curious news media outlets from around the country and beyond. The Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist, decried Ms. Hilton’s release as an example of “double standards,” saying consideration was given to a pampered rich girl that would never have been accorded an average inmate.
You see what I mean? The outrage in America over double standards in the justice system has reached a boiling point. I think you have ensured that Scooter will also do his time.

So I say to you, take heart in all this. You are serving your time and helping to ensure that there will be no pardon for Mr. Libby. For that, the world would thank you.

Your BFF,

Impolitical

P.S. Scooter Libby was the Vice President's chief of staff and he was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice following the investigation of the outing of a covert CIA agent. Just thought you might not know that. That's very important stuff.

P.P.S. Have as great a day as you can!

You got that right, Bob Geldof

Well said:
"'A man called Stephen Harper came to Heiligendamm; Canada stayed at home,' Mr. Geldof said."

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Friday night video summing up Harper's G8 performance



"Excuses" by Alanis Morissette. To both explain and commemorate Mini Bush's mediocre turn at the G8 this week.

"Excuses"

Why no one will help me
I am too dumb I am too smart
They'll not understand me
I am lonely
They'll hate me
And there is not enough time
It's too hard to help me
And god wants me to work
No resting no lazy

These excuses how they served me so well
They've kept me safe
They've kept me stuck
They've kept me locked in my own cell

I'm too far from home
It takes far too much energy
And I cannot afford to
No one will ever see me

These excuses how they served me so well
They've kept me safe
They've kept me stuck
They've kept me locked in my own cell

These excuses how they're so familiar
They've kept me blocked
They've kept me small
They've kept me safe in my own shell

Bringing this into the light
Shakes their foundation
And it clears my side
Now my imagination
Is the only thing that limits
The bar that is raised to the heights

No one can have it all see
I have to they want me to
And I can't let them down
I'll never be happy

These excuses how they served me so well
They've kept me safe
They've kept me stuck
They've kept me locked in my own cell

These excuses how they're so familiar
They've kept me blocked
They've kept me small
They've kept me locked in my own cell

Doing end runs around the feds on climate change

There's a trend emerging that has the potential to make our federal government border on irrelevancy for its lack of leadership on climate change action. The go-slow approach of the Harper Conservatives is thankfully getting an unwelcome response in many quarters these days. Provinces and mayors are striving for more not less when it comes to action on climate change. Consider some of the recent steps taken. The Quebec government stepped up this week in a big way:
Quebec will introduce Canada's first carbon tax this fall, forcing energy producers, distributors and refiners to pay about $200-million a year in taxes as one part of an ambitious plan to fight global warming.

Premier Jean Charest's cabinet approved the plan yesterday. As of Oct. 1, all energy companies will be required to pay a special tax based on the greenhouse gas emissions they produce. The money will fund the province's efforts to meet emission targets set for 2012 in the Kyoto Protocol calling for a 6-per-cent reduction below 1990 levels.

Quebec is the only province to seriously consider a tax on carbon emissions. Other provincial governments have explored caps on emissions, but not additional taxes.
A major province going with the Kyoto 1990 levels contrary to the federal government's lackadaisical and political choice of the 2006 benchmark year. And Quebec provides a blatant rebuke to Harper's excuses at the G8 today that Canada cannot act strongly in North America as if it does, it's penalized economically by virtue of having to compete with the U.S. and Mexico who are not acting. Why is Quebec doing this then if it's so perilous to its economy? What does Charest know that Harper doesn't?

And today we read this, "N.B. government sets greenhouse targets":
The New Brunswick government has released a plan that it hopes will help to cut the province's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2012.

The plan includes more green power generation, a greater use of public transit and programs to help residents become more energy efficient.
Again, choosing the Kyoto 1990 levels. Ignoring the 2006 levels chosen by the feds.

And last week, we witnessed Ontario signing an agreement with California on low carbon fuel standards. British Columbia also signed up with California to act on climate change last week.

The Harper Conservatives look like they're destined to mirror the Bush administration in so many respects. States like California are having to fight their federal government through lawsuits and taking their own actions . Mayors across the U.S. and Canada are also acting, working with the Clinton foundation, for example, to green cities, major emitters of GHG's.
A coalition of 16 of the world’s biggest cities, five banks, one former president and companies and groups that modernize aging buildings pledged today to invest billions of dollars to cut urban energy use and releases of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

Under a plan developed through the William J. Clinton Foundation, participating banks would provide up to $1 billion each in loans that cities or private landlords would use to upgrade energy-hungry heating, cooling and lighting systems in older buildings.
So for all of our preoccupation with Harper's undermining of international standards and desire for a strong federal commitment, there's some comfort to be taken from local actors stepping up and around the inaction of the naysayers like Harper and Bush.

Bush drinking "Buckler" beer?

Americablog has the pictures of Bush drinking what could be a "near beer." Then Bush is mysteriously ill Friday morning at the G8 with a "stomach bug"....

Time to subpoena Rove

Enough is enough the NY Times is screaming today. "It’s Subpoena Time" for Rove, Miers and their underlings. Give these guys a fight. Go to court if necessary to force them to testify. Could not agree more with this editorial and it gets an extended excerpt:
For months, senators have listened to a parade of well-coached Justice Department witnesses claiming to know nothing about how nine prosecutors were chosen for firing. This week, it was the turn of Bradley Schlozman, a former federal attorney in Missouri, to be uninformative and not credible. It is time for Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to deliver subpoenas that have been approved for Karl Rove, former White House counsel Harriet Miers and their top aides, and to make them testify in public and under oath.

Mr. Schlozman was appointed United States attorney in Missouri while the state was in the midst of a hard-fought Senate race. In his brief stint, he pushed a lawsuit, which was thrown out by a federal judge, that could have led to thousands of Democratic-leaning voters being wrongly purged from the rolls. Just days before the election, he indicted voter registration workers from the liberal group Acorn on fraud charges. Republicans quickly made the indictments an issue in the Senate race.

Mr. Schlozman said it did not occur to him that the indictments could affect the campaign. That is hard to believe since the Justice Department’s guidelines tell prosecutors not to bring vote fraud investigations right before an election, so as not to affect the outcome. He also claimed, laughably, that he did not know that Acorn was a liberal-leaning group.

Mr. Schlozman fits neatly into the larger picture. Prosecutors who refused to use their offices to help Republicans win elections, like John McKay in Washington State, and David Iglesias in New Mexico, were fired. Prosecutors who used their offices to help Republicans did well.

Congress has now heard from everyone in the Justice Department who appears to have played a significant role in the firings of the prosecutors. They have all insisted that the actual decisions about whom to fire came from somewhere else. It is increasingly clear that the somewhere else was the White House. If Congress is going to get to the bottom of the scandal, it has to get the testimony of Mr. Rove, his aides Scott Jennings and Sara Taylor, Ms. Miers and her deputy, William Kelley.

The White House has offered to make them available only if they do not take an oath and there is no transcript. Those conditions are a formula for condoning perjury, and they are unacceptable. As for documents, the White House has released piles of useless e-mail messages. But it has reported that key e-mails to and from Mr. Rove were inexplicably destroyed. At the same time, it has argued that e-mails of Mr. Rove’s that were kept on a Republican Party computer system, which may contain critical information, should not be released.

This noncooperation has gone on long enough. Mr. Leahy should deliver the subpoenas for the five White House officials and make clear that if the administration resists, Congress will use all available means to get the information it needs.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

How do we know you're not terrorists?

Fear mongering and letting the threat of terrorism pervade every government decision, no matter how impractical has caught up with the U.S.. Apparently a lot of Americans now need that pesky little passport to travel and they're experiencing the same disastrous backlogs we are. So now, the U.S. government is not requiring Americans to have passports to get into Canada . But they're still requiring it of us, of course.

Isn't it interesting the way the U.S. can unilaterally decide what documents are required for travel into Canada? And Steve's subservient government is nowhere to be found in standing up for Canada? After all, he keeps telling us what a threat terrorists are and spends a ton of time with the military these days. Shouldn't we be demanding passports from Americans? Why is the operative presumption that Canadians are potential terrorists and American's aren't? Seems to me the terrorist plots we've heard about of late are in the U.S., not here...Fort Dix, JFK. After all, the Americans tout these grave threats on their soil and it's all over their news courtesy of showy press conferences. If it's all true, then shouldn't we be concerned with U.S. travel into our country as well?
A proposal set to be announced as early as Friday will temporarily waive a requirement that U.S. passports be used for air travel to and from Canada and Mexico, provided the traveller can prove he or she has already applied for a passport, officials said Thursday.
...
The proposal applies only to Americans, a U.S. official said. Canadian air travellers entering the United States will still need passports.
I won't be holding my breath that any sane level of resolution will be applied to this one...

Bush speaks for Steve, Steve enables Bush

Making us so proud at the G8 with Bush's continued piggybacking on our leader's mediocrity.

The upshot of the G8 on climate change:
The goal is to agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050, Merkel said, hailing the decision as a “huge success.” She said it came after many rounds of talks and negotiations on climate change.

But the declaration falls short of an ironclad commitment, saying only that the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters should “seriously consider” following the European Union, Canada and Japan in seeking to halve their output by 2050.
They're going to "seriously consider" following us? That's rich. We who are now using the undeveloped world as a rationale to stave off a new global agreement that will commit to hard targets (Kyoto, anyone?). We who enabled the U.S. to renege on firm commitments at this summit by providing overt political cover for the Bush White House (see the quotes from James Connaughton, senior climate adviser to the White House, quoted in a previous post today). Declaring progress by simply getting the U.S. to "seriously consider" joining the party.

Amazing how a whole lot of nothing has been spun into a victory for the world. And how the Bush administration, who has committed to exactly nothing, other than a bunch of meetings, gets to declare victory on its changed attitude.

I am so proud of Steve.

No pardon for Libby

Newspapers across the U.S. weigh in with editorials opposing a pardon for Libby.

Good for them.

Funny

Bush Gropes Merkel to Ludacris

The grope that rocked the G8 summit last time around...hilarious.

Bush steals Steve's bridge talking point

My, my what a strange confluence in talking points between Bush and Mini Bush at the G8, reported here in today's NY Times: "At Group of 8 Meeting, Bush Rebuffs Germany on Cutting Emissions." Seems that Bush now fancies himself as the "bridge" at this meeting. Wha' happen, Mini Bush? Somebody stole your thunder? Remember how you told us you would be that bridge? That it was the traditional role Canada played? Maybe Brodie and Rove got the roles reversed. Because it turns out Bush is the bridge guy:
...Mrs. Merkel is pressing the Group of 8 to adopt a plan to cut emissions in half by 2050 and to limit the rise in global temperature to two degrees Celsius — terms the president’s chief environmental adviser, James L. Connaughton, said Wednesday the United States was not prepared to accept.

Instead, he said, the final communiqué approved by the Group of 8 nations — the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan — would probably reflect a merging of Mrs. Merkel’s plan with a proposal by Mr. Bush. In a major speech on climate change last week, the president said he intended to convene major polluting nations, including China and India, in a series of meetings aimed at setting long-term goals by the end of 2008.

“Here’s a way to get China and India at the table,” Mr. Bush said Wednesday, in a roundtable with reporters before his lunch with Mrs. Merkel.

He said the United States “can serve as a bridge between some nations who believe that now is the time to come up with a set goal” and “those who are reluctant to participate in the dialogue.”
It certainly looks like there has been coordination behind the scenes between Bush and Harper's staffs as to how this entire thing would be played out, right down to the talking points they're using. Looks like Harper was the front man, paving the way for Bush with this shtick.

Memo to Buckler et al. in the PMO. Not good to appear to be mouthpieces for Bush. Terrible optics. Terrible! Makes Harper look like a puppet. Not that some of us mind, of course...

We call him Mini Bush for good reason here at the Impolitical blog...:)

A former senior Bush administration official gets it

A quote of the day from an unknown former Bush official on why Libby should not be pardoned:
A former senior administration official with his own ties to the case said Mr. Libby had failed to meet the general standard for a pardon by not showing contrition or serving any time. This official also noted that Mr. Libby had also been found guilty of lying to investigators, the same offense that led to the impeachment of Mr. Clinton.

The former official, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about the president, said: “It would show a deep disregard for the rule of law if he was to do it right now, when there has been no remorse shown by a convicted felon and no time has been served. How’s this going to fit in his long-term legacy?”
Good question. Maybe if the egotistical Bush thinks he still has a shot at a decent legacy, he might care enough not do it.

Still, there is tremendous pressure building from Libby's supporters. A "third option" is proposed today by a former Bush senior official: don't pardon him, but commute his sentence and keep the fine in place. That way the stand up fella remains convicted but doesn't have to debase himself with an "excessive" punishment. And he can pay off his wrongdoing. Nice. Can't have an elite Republican guy going to prison, after all. Problem is, this still smacks of special treatment by Bush in a case in which he, as President, is directly implicated.

Libby's likely to go to jail sooner rather than later. So the pressure's going to be on Bush...

U.S. using Canada's position as a shield at G8

Mini Bush is helping out his pal by lending out his environmental mediocrity for emulation. The "senior White House climate adviser, "James Connaughton, is singling out Harper's opposition to the German goals as a rationale for the U.S.'s own intransigence: "Scramble to save G8 summit as U.S. rejects German climate change plan."
Yesterday, Mr. Connaughton counted Canada as one of the countries that disagrees with Germany. Asked about achieving a target of 50-per-cent reductions below 1990 levels, Mr. Connaughton said Canada and many other nations have different ideas about targets. And Canada also disagrees with the German goal to cap temperature increases at 2 per cent, he said.

“We're not alone in that. Japan, Russia, Canada and most other countries that I've spoken with do not support that as an objective for a variety of reasons,” he said.

A Canadian official appeared to push back yesterday, noting that Mr. Harper had supported cuts of 50 per cent earlier this week when he met with Ms. Merkel in Berlin.
Yes, pushing back with all their might. The Americans might swallow you whole, Mini Bush.

You can see the way that Baird and Harper hope this shapes up. Harper goes in with his "bridge" p.r., tries to set Canada apart but not so far from the Europeans...Bush comes in and opposes the Europeans...Harper does his "bridge" thing and gets some kind of mediocre compromise that somehow enables him to say he's brought the Americans in, even an inch, which is better than nothing. And the Europeans reluctantly go along because they want to save face. Meanwhile, the earth is worse off for the effort because Mini Bush's sham intensity-based emissions reductions regime has been allowed to flourish.

I am so proud.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A telling measure of Harper's Conservatives

Watch how they treat one of their own, a respected long time MP who departs from them on principle: "Renegade Tory MP from N.S. says he's the victim of dirty tricks." They've immediately taken retribution:
The veteran Nova Scotia MP, who was tossed out of the Conservative caucus Tuesday, told a Halifax radio station that he and his staff have been cut off from their electronic constituency files.

"We have 784 constituency files here that deal with people problems ... and we've been cut off," Casey told an open-line show on CJCH.

"But this is not right. I'm a member of Parliament. These are my constituents. They've got problems. They're people I try to help. This is what I do."

But a Conservative source, who asked not to be named, insisted Casey had been cut off only from party databases - not his own constituency files.
Nice job, boys. Give him more motivation to join the Liberals and start telling tales about life under Harper...

A Libby pardon and the rule of law

Dan Froomkin suggests today that Bush might actually go ahead and pardon Libby. That's the buzz. A phenomenal prospect being realistically discussed now. It will be fascinating to watch Bush look into the abyss and decide who he is and what he ultimately represents:
Washington is abuzz with pardon talk. The thinking appears to be that Bush will grant one before Libby has to go to prison, which could be as soon as the end of July. The pardon will cause Bush a little political damage -- but what's a little more political damage these days?

But this kind of thinking may underestimate the potential fury of the American public.

Pardoning Libby would send the public the message that this White House thinks it is above the law. It's a point critics have made time and time again, whether it relates to the treatment of detainees, warrantless wiretapping or the purge of insufficiently partisan U.S. attorneys. But this time, the charge just might really stick.

Because Libby's lies came in the context of a White House campaign to defend its actions in the run-up to war, pardoning him would inevitably call renewed attention to the most tragic and least forgivable mistake of Bush's presidency: misleading the American people into a disastrous war. It could send the anti-war movement into overdrive.

And pardoning Libby -- a lawbreaker who may have been acting under orders from his superiors -- would finally and fully associate Bush in the public's mind with the one transgression that has forced a president out of office in the modern age: A cover up.
To pardon Libby, Bush will have to go out of his way to sidestep the rules on pardons - Libby does not qualify under the Justice Department rules. The applicant for a pardon is supposed to wait 5 years before applying. And is supposed to demonstrate remorsefulness, not martyrdom. A Libby pardon will represent an extraordinary reach around the pardon rules.

And it would be an affirmation that the behaviour of Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales, currently being scrutinized by congress looking at the U.S. attorney firings, in playing fast and loose with the truth is A-OK with Bush. Here's a worthwhile commentary arguing against a pardon on these grounds:
Lewis "Scooter" Libby deserves a stiff prison term to deter his erstwhile Bush administration colleagues, for example, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and White House political guru Karl Rove, from equivocating with Congress and the courts. A stiff punishment is imperative also to honor the rule of law, the nation's crown jewel.
...
Nothing is as dangerous to the Constitution's checks and balances and protections against government abuses as a belief among high-ranking officials that they are above the law and may lie or connive with impunity. Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis sermonized in Olmstead v. United States (1928): "In a government of laws, existence of government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it invites everyman to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy."

Truthful testimony is the lifeblood of the rule of law. Justice John Paul Stevens elaborated in ABF Freight System, Inc. v. NLRB (1994): "False testimony in a formal proceeding is intolerable. We must neither reward nor condone such a 'flagrant affront' to the truth-seeking function of adversary proceedings." Yet Libby, thoroughly schooled in his constitutional obligations, lied to both the FBI and a grand jury during special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the leak of Valerie Plame's CIA nexus. Libby was convicted of false statements, perjury and obstruction of justice. Mr. Fitzgerald, a highly regarded Republican United States attorney, was appointed by then Attorney General John Ashcroft. Libby was not the victim of a political witch hunt.
While the standards set for truth-telling by the Supreme Court should prevail, this administration's track record suggests that these are but legal niceties and that political rough-housing will remain their priority, at all times. They're nothing, if not consistent.

Now here's a debater



Watch and get inspired for the day. I take it tpmtv, by re-posting this footage from 1992, is pining for the good old days when Secretariat was on the stage...:) Holy wow batman! Puts to shame all of the current crop. Especially the good ole boys who had themselves another barnburner of a debate last night. Talk of primates and English being endangered and lots of other neat stuff preoccupying those guys. Wheeehooo....:)

Petty

Entry visa for Winnie Mandela denied by the Conservatives. Convicted of serious crimes they say. Despite the fact she was admitted to the U.S. a few weeks ago for an AIDS benefit. We're acting worse than the Bush administration here.

Who's making these decisions? Rob Anders?

A pardon for Libby in the offing?

Now that Scooter Libby's been sentenced to over 2 years in prison, the topic of a pardon for him is all the buzz. The National Review and the Weekly Standard are lobbying hard. For despite Libby's conviction on perjury and obstruction of justice, he is a Republican, after all. And when Republicans lie in the cause of protecting the Vice President and other low lifes in the West Wing, well, that's just to be expected of a loyal Bushie. Never mind that Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about an affair. That was a Democrat. When a Republican lies, whole different ball of wax. And this was not a real crime say the loyalists. As the National Review puts it, he was only "found guilty of process crimes." You see? Process crimes are OK for Republicans. Really makes the U.S. attorney firings all make sense now, doesn't it? They weren't playing along with the Republican cause. What else is the justice system there for but to assist in enabling Republican victories?

So now Bush is faced with a choice - and before considering it, let's remember that really, a pardon should not be on the table at all. It wouldn't be for any other citizen in the U.S. It's a choice before Bush because the Republican noise machine has succeeded in giving it legitimacy. And it's debated on CNN as just one of many other policy issues facing the prospective Republican candidates tonight. In other words, the Republicans have succeeded already in legitimizing the prospect of a pardon for a convicted felon. By a president who will be acting in a self-serving, conflicted manner should he entertain actually doing it. It's off the charts in terms of impropriety.

Bush should choose to let the legal process work through to the end by respecting that Libby was convicted by a jury and now can appeal his case. He should let the system work, without inserting himself into the process. But what he should do and what he will do are likely two different things. What is likely, instead, is that Bush will once again demonstrate the ultimate in contempt for the justice system and exempt Libby, his loyal liar, from its judgment. That decision would be consistent with the growing evidence in the U.S. attorney scandal of the Bush White House's view of how they are unconstrained by the laws that apply to everyone else.

What will drive Bush to act now, before the appeal process? As the article in the Post suggests, there may be a reconsideration of moving to pardon Libby sooner rather than later if he's sent to prison during his appeal.
Informed of the sentence while traveling in Europe yesterday, Bush sent out a spokeswoman to say that he "felt terrible for the family" but would wait to see what happens when Walton holds a hearing next week on whether Libby goes to prison during his appeal.
This suggests that the prospect of Libby going to prison is the tipping point. I wonder how afraid Bush and Cheney are of Libby cutting some kind of deal with Fitzgerald if prison's in the offing? Guess we'll see. But the tea leaves, to me, including Cheney's effusive praise of Libby today certainly suggest that they're very concerned.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sic Rove on the terrorists

"How to win the war on terror: Put Rove on it." Humorous recognition of Rove's special dastardly qualities. Instead of using him domestically, why not turn him against terrorists? Examples of what Rove could do, based on past, ahem, achievements:
How would he succeed in the Mideast? He could, for example, devise a way to ruin Osama bin Laden's reputation. Maybe distribute photos of bin Laden with children, while implying that he seems to have an "unnatural" fondness for them -- the same ploy he used against Alabama Supreme Court Justice and Democratic candidate Mark Kennedy in 1994. What Islamic youth would honor the instructions of a pedophile?

Or how about a variation on the Rove-instigated rumor in the 2000 Republican primary campaign, suggesting that John McCain betrayed the country while being tortured? In Iraq, Rove could start a whispering campaign --source unknown, of course --that accuses Muqtada al-Sadr of selling out to the Americans in exchange for immunity and a life of Western luxury and excess while in exile. What Muslim idealist would offer himself for a leader corrupted by Western culture?

He might also plant doubts about the sexual orientation of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A similar smear worked wonders in helping George Bush defeat Ann Richards for Texas governor in 1994, when Rove's people tagged Richards as a lesbian. Prospective Muslim martyrs might think twice about exploding themselves at the urging of a closet queen.

Karl Rove has been both lauded and handsomely paid for his Machivellian talents in changing public perceptions. And though many consider his methods morally repugnant, all is considered fair in war. The rattlesnake we abhor is the rattlesnake we cheer, when he's loosed in the tent of the enemy.

At this point, what have we got to lose?

Libby got the max

The max as requested by Fitzgerald, that is. A message has been sent to the Bush higher ups: "Libby Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison, Fined $250K." There, but for the lies of Libby, go you, Dick Cheney.

Speaking of Cheney...an intriguing highly flattering statement about Libby was immediately released by Cheney's office:
Cheney released a statement this afternoon lauding Libby's long public service and expressing hope that his conviction will be overturned. "Scooter is also a friend, and on a personal level Lynne and I remain deeply saddened by this tragedy and its effect on his wife, Harriet, and their young children," Cheney said. "The defense has indicated it plans to appeal the conviction in the case. Speaking as friends, we hope that our system will return a final result consistent with what we know of this fine man."
Message: you're my friend, Scooter, stick to your plan and appeal. Don't be considering any other options at this point, if you know what I mean...we don't need to be considering making a play for some kind of deal now do we? Wouldn't that just rock our worlds, to see Libby finally turn on Cheney. Likelihood of happening? I'd say slim. Not exactly sure of the American rules on deals post-sentencing but the idea of cooperating with Fitzgerald is being floated by the Wilsons today...

More tone deafness from the Conservatives on Quebec

Bev Oda's sticking it to the big Montreal festivals, Just for Laughs and the Jazz Festival. Keeping what appears to be budgeted moneys until the fall whereas the festivals occur in the summer. Now there's a brilliant move for you. These festivals bring in thousands upon thousands of tourists and their dollars to Montreal and Quebecers are proud of these well attended, high profile events. You'd think the Conservatives might care about that. Nope, appears not to be the case. Instead, we see another petty administrative move like the shutting down of the House Official Languages committee that misses the bigger picture. But you have fun at the festivals, Bev...:)

Oh yeah, those plans to grow a majority in Quebec are catching on like wildfire...

More on Gore

Bob Herbert contributes his bit today to the Gore media coverage:
I find myself speculating on what might have been if the man who got the most votes in 2000 had actually become president. It’s like imagining an alternate universe.

The war in Iraq would never have occurred. Support and respect for the U.S. around the globe would not have plummeted to levels that are both embarrassing and dangerous. The surpluses of the Clinton years would not have been squandered like casino chips in the hands of a compulsive gambler on a monumental losing streak.
The 2000 election has to be one of the greatest misses of all time. And there are a few interesting but disheartening quotes from Gore on the big question:
“You know,” he said, “I don’t really think I’m that good at politics, to tell you the truth.” He smiled. “Some people find out important things about themselves early in life. Others take a long time.”
...
I noted that he had at least been good enough to attract more votes than George W. Bush.

“Well, there was that,” he said, laughing again. “But what politics has become requires a level of tolerance for triviality and artifice and nonsense that I find I have in short supply.”
It's either genuine distaste for the process at this point or he's engaged in a great inoculation against the trivialities for a different kind of campaign...