Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bush 2004 campaign chief now has regrets - duh

There's an extremely irritating article in the NYTimes, published tomorrow, that should have you tearing your hair out: "Ex-Aide Details a Loss of Faith in the President." The article's about Matthew Dowd, former Democratic strategist who turned Republican due to his "falling in love" - yes, that's the way he puts it - with George W. Bush. And now that it's clear that he's been had, he's going public. Here's a notable excerpt from the article:
Mr. Dowd, a crucial part of a team that cast Senator John Kerry as a flip-flopper who could not be trusted with national security during wartime, said he had even written but never submitted an op-ed article titled “Kerry Was Right,” arguing that Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate, was correct in calling last year for a withdrawal from Iraq.

“I’m a big believer that in part what we’re called to do — to me, by God; other people call it karma — is to restore balance when things didn’t turn out the way they should have,” Mr. Dowd said. “Just being quiet is not an option when I was so publicly advocating an election.”
You cannot read this article without shaking your head repeatedly. There are a number of things Dowd says that are just a day late and a dollar short, as they say. I am constantly amazed at the people who were suckered by empty suit Bush and feel absolutely no sympathy for their daftness.

The 2004 election is destined to be viewed, historically, as a colossal mistake. The triumph of petty partisan attacks over substantive considerations. You'd like to think that the next election will not produce a similar campaign but why would anyone have faith in that?

A glimpse of Dion at his best



Hello, Liberal strategists? Look what you have here that you're stifling. A passionate, honest, intelligent fighter. Thursday's speech would have been so much better if you could coax this Dion out of him.

Let him speak without written text! Dion needs to get comfortable with a relatively short stump speech and stop reading from teleprompters and documents. And that video you posted on YouTube of his rally to caucus...why was it shot with the teleprompter partially obscuring his face? This basic stuff needs to get fixed.

When Dion is on fire, like this, he'll be just fine.

Have you seen these billboards?

I was driving home the other night with the Impolitical husband and I happened upon a wondrous sight...a prominent billboard that caught my eye along the Gardiner at the foot of the DVP:



Doesn't that just make your day? There are 46 of these billboards that have been put up in the Hamilton/GTA area since March 5, in some very heavy traffic areas, courtesy of the Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors. They're all across the country.

They're mad as hell and gearing up for an election too...:)

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mini Bush's office concerned about Jason Kenney comments

On Kenney expressing support for Mario Dumont's "...controversial concept of "reasonable accommodation" for religious minorities": picked up in this media report . Is Kenney road-testing this tact, i.e., parroting Dumont, for an appeal to these instincts in a federal campaign in Quebec? Do the federal Conservatives really want to go down this road? Hmmmm.....it's a dangerous road for them.

Why do I think they're concerned about Kenney's comments? The Privy Council Office is looking for reaction to it. They visited my blog today on the issue. Hi guys!

I've expressed my view on this before. It's a dangerous liaison for Mini Bush and his crew who are perceived, in a good part of Canada, as retaining the vestiges of Reform, shall we say, intolerance. As I wondered in my post this past week:
And is it good news for Harper's Conservatives to be affiliated with a latent resentment of minority accommodation that Dumont tapped into during this election?

Since the fall, an angry debate over accommodating religious minorities roiled the province.

More incidents erupted during the election campaign. People complained that their party at a sugar shack was curbed by Muslim patrons who needed prayer space. There was outrage over whether Muslim women should lift their face veils to identify themselves when they vote.

Mr. Dumont barely touched on those issues during the campaign, but he had already gained a lot of capital last fall when he was the only leader who spoke forcefully against accommodations, saying Quebec had gone too far in placating religious minorities. (emphasis added)

Nah, that's not a good look for Mini Bush and his gang...this is exactly the kind of issue Harper's Conservatives need like the plague at this point. They're ticking time bombs with such issues and they embrace it at their peril.
My oh my how the PCO loves to keep tabs on its MP's...:)

The mice are scurrying from the ship in Washington

"Routine" staff departures in Rove's office.

Rove, you kill me with this stuff...:)

Of course it's routine, no reason at all for your minions to leave...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dion swinging into election mode

Preview of Dion's electoral themes in his speech today:
The Conservatives promised not to tax income trusts. Mr. Harper made that promise himself. Then he went back on his word – and a million Canadians paid the price. The Liberal income trust plan would soften the blow, and put back some of the money that was ripped out of Canadians’ savings.
The income trust decision is one reason I believe Harper doesn't want an election right now. He might want more distance from it. And the equalization stink that Danny Millions and others are leading don't help in the "broken promise" department.

Dion's strength:
Let me make one more point. I am a very determined person. I will fight this coming election, whenever it may come. And I will fight hard.
Anyone who thinks Dion is weak, confused or a pushover of any sort - because he happens to not be that good, yet, with a teleprompter - is waging a high stakes bet. Video on Garth Turner's site. Dion starts in at about the 5 and a half minute point.

Speaker Pelosi right on



In case you missed this clip yesterday, it's very powerful and seems to capture this moment where Bush is reeling and the Democrats are ascendant and finally beginning to take action on Iraq. Speaker Nancy Pelosi assures the world that there are some rational actors in Washington, D.C. Her confidence and determination burst through the screen.

Kyle Sampson: one smooth operator

Given his testimony today, ubiquitous on YouTube (TPMmuckraker is a great source for contextualized clips), you can see why he was touted as the next Karl Rove. He looks like him, he sounds like him, he's a shrewd, canny operator. He held his own as best as he could given the bunk he was defending. He was forced to acknowledge, for e.g., that if he were in a position to do it over, he wouldn't fire U.S. attorney David Iglesias, given Iglesias' stellar performance record. And of course, he regrets his role in the entire mess. Naturally, now that he's been caught.

Also of note today, he admitted that he brought up Patrick Fitzgerald's name as a possible attorney to be fired but was given the cold shoulder. He certainly pushed the limits of possibilities, this Rove acolyte. The nerve of these little Bush piss ants with little prosecutorial experience having the brazen audacity to suggest that one of the most highly regarded prosecutors in the U.S. be turfed while that prosecutor is in the midst of conducting an investigation/prosecution of the Vice President's Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby. And he freely admits to the world, oh yes, I raised it and it was inappropriate.

I don't think anyone should be under any illusions about the effect of Sampson's statement today and the previous acknowledgement that Fitzgerald had been ranked as "not distinguished" on Sampson's ongoing list of prosecutors status. It is a distinct possibility, that had the Democrats not won in November, Patrick Fitzgerald would have been turfed by now. Who would have stopped them?

Other big news from Sampson's testimony made early in the day, this: Sampson contradicting A.G. Gonzales' professed lack of involvement in the firings. And Gonzales is going to be called to testify again.

Here's a fair synopsis on the effect of Sampson's testimony:
Sampson today may be earnest and even on occasion honest. But he is painting a devastating picture of a Justice Department and White House that decided first what was to be done and then tried to figure out a way to justify it. When you work backwards like that, you usually get in big trouble. And little Sampson has said during his first few hours of testimony suggests otherwise. His words to the senators make it even more likely that the Attorney General will have to leave his post, sooner rather than later.

Mini Bush snubs Liberia

No political hay to be made, apparently. Better to be seen with the hockey guy. Plays better with the Tim Horton's crowd.

Mini Bush's staff either being embarrassingly petulant with Stronach (who was associated with the Liberian President's visit)...or negligent...:)

Tick off a nation...who cares, hey Mini Bush?

Another Canadian institution rife with fraud

First the Ontario Lottery Corporation's credibility implodes upon public reporting by the CBC and now the Ontario ombudsman, now this: "Mounties allege fraud in pension management." Of note, this paragraph in the Globe report:
The committee is examining an Auditor-General's report released last November that said the administration of the RCMP pension fund was rife with nepotism in the early 2000s and that $3.1-million was diverted from the fund to other Mountie accounts. There is no evidence anyone pocketed the money, the Auditor-General's Office said.
Was this the first Auditor-General's review of this issue? If so, why? Apparently this stuff has been going on for at least six years...I can only guess that the internal culture of the RCMP and efforts to stifle proper oversight contributed to the difficulties in making it known.

My understatement of the day: the lack of rigour in the form of independent controls within these respective entities needs attention. Now.

It's a freaking house of cards these days...

Must read on Rove in NY Times today

On the occasion of Kyle Sampson's testimony today to the Senate Judiciary Committee, this article, "E-Mail Shows Rove’s Role in Fate of Prosecutors," is a timely dig into Rove's role as the main political force driving the appointment process for these U.S. attorney positions. The claim that Rove has not been "involved" is slowly but surely being disproven by reporting like this. The big question remains whether it can be proven that he sought to remove any of these prosecutors in order to put an end to ongoing corruption investigations or to remove attorneys who refused to proceed against Democrats. The article suggests, in addition, that Rove's role in placing U.S. attorneys in certain states may also warrant scrutiny as, unsurprisingly, prosecutions of Democrats were undertaken soon after Bush appointees (e.g., former Bush fundraiser choice in N.J.) arrived on the scene. The use of the U.S. attorney office to achieve such political interference in the judicial system is worth serious investigation.

A few notable quotes from the article for you, both comic in nature to me:
“There is an issue of intrigue, and for better or worse, that surrounds Karl Rove,” said Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It is in the president’s interest and the country’s interest to have it dispelled or verified, but let’s hear it from him.”
Senator Specter, newly freed from the shackles of his Republican majority prison, breaks with the administration and calls for Rove to testify. At least Specter continues to entertain political types with his finger to the wind positioning...:)

And how's this for sticking it to the man:
Some Republicans say they always understood that Mr. Rove had a say in prosecutor appointments. “I basically felt when I was talking to Karl I was talking to the president,” said former Senator Peter G. Fitzgerald, an Illinois Republican. (emphasis added)
That's priceless. It's meant as a dig at Bush, of course, but at this particular moment, it hurts Rove the most. Not involved? From the account that Senator Fitzgerald offers of how he came to recommend Patrick J. Fitzgerald (no relation) to the U.S. attorney's position in Chicago, it sure sounds like Rove was the only one involved! And given how that appointment turned out - see investigation and conviction of Scooter Libby - it certainly would give Rove the motive to not be so deferential to these inconvenient Senators next time around. Nice of Senator Fitzgerald to weigh in on such a timely basis, don't you think?

Read on in the article, there's lots more...:)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Surprise! The ADQ is a nationalist party

Nice to see the media finally paying some attention to the ADQ platform. It's not at all what it's been portrayed to be. The assumption that has been bandied about is that since Dumont was against holding a referendum on separation, he must be a federalist or at least seeking to play nicely in Canada. Well, something along those lines. And it turns out, that's not really true. The ADQ platform is highly nationalist:
Adopted by the party in 2004, the policy is a strongly nationalist document that calls for Quebec to adopt its own constitution, create its own citizenship and even disregard some federal laws when they are judged to be infringing on areas of provincial jurisdiction.

"Our first fidelity, our passion and our loyalty are toward Quebec," the platform says. It adds: "The development of Quebec as a distinct nation flows naturally from an increase in our autonomy." Canadians outside Quebec are considered "privileged partners," not countrymen. It proposes having the province's name officially changed to the "Autonomist State of Quebec."

The document is heavy on rhetoric about rejecting "submission to Canada" and affirming Quebec's "sovereign rights."

The Canada Health Act, which sets national standards for healthcare delivery and limits private sector involvement, is considered an unacceptable intrusion. (emphasis added)
And Dumont views Harper and his vague hints of "open federalism" as an ally in achieving such goals:
"We have said many times that we are autonomous. Mr. Charest said that it doesn't exist or that it shouldn't exist. That will be up to the people to decide. But more autonomy for Quebec within Canada, that is well appreciated," Mr. Dumont said yesterday.

"As far as I am concerned even the Prime Minister of Canada seems to understand what we mean. He has used the word autonomy in many of his speeches in Quebec, which is appreciated by the people of Quebec. In Western Canada also, people want to hear about more provincial autonomy." (emphasis added)
See? Mini Bush has been viewed as an ally in the cause of "autonomy," the until now much under-scrutinized yet hip new Quebec political orientation. It'll be interesting to see how far Mini Bush is willing to go in his dance with the autonomists.

For good measure, Dumont confirmed his nationalist bona fides after the election:
Speaking to reporters in Quebec City yesterday, Mr. Dumont said Canadians should not label him a federalist. "I hope that is not how they perceive me. That would be a mistake," he said.

He said Monday's results show many Quebecers have been won over by the concept of autonomy, and he plans to deliver.

"Talking about the future of Quebec has been for years, for decades, a matter of dividing people between the 'Yes' and the 'No.' Uniting people behind an option that is modern, yes, I think it is a position of strength," he said.

"All the positions that we will take, all the proposals we will make, will be based on that philosophy that we want Quebec to gain more autonomy."
This is cautionary information for all those heralding a cakewalk for Harper's Conservatives in Quebec. To gain the support of Mario, there will be a price. Watch for it.

More election reaction

There's a good article in The Star today covering some of the reaction to the Quebec election and what it might mean for a rumoured federal election. Stephane Dion made some good points, finally getting some airtime:
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said yesterday he had no doubt Harper was spoiling for an election, but he warned there are perils in trying to play both provincial and federal politics.

"Quebecers are very politically sophisticated and we can tell the difference between what's at stake at the provincial level and what's at stake at the federal level," Dion said, repeatedly using "we" when he talked of Quebec, to underline the difference between himself and the Alberta MP who is prime minister.

Dion said the federal campaign in Quebec will revolve around far different issues than the ones that drove the provincial campaign – the war in Afghanistan, or support for social programs, for instance – on which Dion believes the Liberal position is far closer to majority Quebec public opinion.

Dion said he won't fight the next election campaign in Quebec apologizing for Canada and the federal government, as he believes Harper has done. "I think it is time to have a prime minister who is making the case for Canada in Quebec," he said.
Excuse me, but I find Dion to be eminently likeable. The Harper taunts of him as being weak, etc. seem so childish when you're listening to him. His press conference is here.

There are other intriguing quotes in the article from Mario Dumont - who is already serving notice he's not going to be a foot stool for the federal Conservatives.

And from a very boastful Jason Kenney on the future of separatism in Quebec and how Stephen Harper is responsible for its demise. I'm not going to bother getting into the merits of Kenney's comment but I would venture a thought that he's one of the last people Quebecers would want to hear making comments of this sort. Humility, people.

Don't mess with Danny Millions

He's going nation-wide with his anti-Harper message: "Nfld. ads attack federal 'promise not kept'."

Good for him. Harper made a promise to to Newfoundlanders and Nova Scotians in order to get elected. And he broke it. Simple as that. Danny didn't make his millions by rolling over when a bully steamrolls him. What was it Trump said the other day? “When somebody screws you, screw them back.”

Combine this with the income trust decision...blatant promise breaking is clearly up for grabs in an election.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

We're just not that into you, Mini Bush

Recall the book entitled, "He's Just Not That Into You?" I think Mini Bush should reconcile himself to the fact that after a year at the helm of his minority government, Canadians are giving him a continued cold shoulder. We've been going out with you for a year now, Mini Bush, and we just can't seem to commit.
Nationally, the Conservatives sat at 35 per cent in the poll, versus 31 for the Liberals, 13 per cent for the NDP and 10 per cent for the Green Party.
And his own strategist admits we don't like him:
Conservative party strategist Tim Powers says that while Quebecers, like many other Canadians, might not be enthralled with Harper personally, they appreciate what he's accomplished.
And Ontario remains the hardest nut for Harper to crack:
And in Ontario, the Liberals were ahead in the most recent survey at 41 per cent to the Conservatives' 33 per cent. The NDP were at 14 per cent and the Green Party at 11 per cent in the province.

Anderson says too much has been made of "relatively modest" improvements in the polls for the Conservatives lately.

"Because there are so many choices and permutations, and so much clustering around the centre for the two main parties, there's going to be more volatility and there has been more volatility over the past couple of years than we've seen before," Anderson said.
Canadians seem to prefer the status quo for now, despite the best efforts of Mini Bush's crew to change the dynamic.

So sad...:)

Keith Olbermann squashes the bugman



Keith kills the bug dead....:)

And a big shout out to Henry Waxman today

The House Democrat giving the RNC fits: "GOP Groups Told to Keep Bush Officials' E-Mails."

Bob Fife watch

I was all set for a beaming report on "Harper's triumph" from the intrepid Bob Fife. I awaited the glowing tribute to Harper's keen political instincts and deft handling of the Quebec file from the PCO's fave. I saw Jed Kahane...then Roger Smith...but alas, it seems Bob missed out on his pal's big night. Nowhere to be found on my screen. Wha'appen, Bob? Will just have to wait and watch for your next "exclusive" Mini Bush story.

(CTV, however, doing a bang up job in his absence: "Que. election results a boon for Harper: analysts.")

On conventional wisdom in Quebec

If there's anything this election proved, it's that it's nonsensical to bank on the conventional wisdom.

Like the current conventional wisdom taking hold in the wake of these Quebec election results as to how it's a big win for Harper's Conservatives. Never mind the fact that his "boy" (as so aptly put by Andrew Coyne last night, one of the few commentators to stray from the conventional wisdom), Jean Charest, served up what is in effect a loss last night. Anybody but Jean seemed to be the theme of the campaign and election night. Never mind that Harper joined himself at the hip to his "boy" in the run up to the election (recall the joint, big environmental announcement in Quebec, for e.g. just before the election call). And never mind that Harper tried to, in effect, buy Charest a return to a majority government by dumping billions in his lap in last week's federal budget. It's good news for Harper, nevertheless, that his "boy" barely eked out a minority government over someone who started the election in the distant rear view mirror.

Even the new guy's showing, Mario Dumont - whose team and policies people openly profess not to really know that much about - signifies a big win for Harper! Because after all, Quebec is naturally a conservative province, they say. And Dumont's voters are natural Harper voters. I see. That's why these Quebecers have been electing Liberals, PQ and Bloc politicians for the last twenty years. All this time they were just waiting for Mario Dumont and Stephen Harper's Conservatives to ride in and save them. Apparently Quebec is the new Alberta, we just never knew it until now.

So it was quite the night. If Charest wins, Harper wins. If Dumont wins, Harper wins. I mean, you've got to be thinking to yourself that Stephane Dion would have to be delusional to even bother showing up for the next election at this point. How's he going to overcome the presumptive story line being broadcast by the commentariat lemmings about Harper's coming majority?

Well, not to be a party pooper, but is everyone willing to immediately rule out the Bloc given last night's supposed "implosion" of the PQ? Is it a possibility that having a minority government in Quebec City that is largely federalist in orientation would suggest the Bloc's chances remain quite good in the next federal election? Quebecers have been known to choose contradictory results - the 1970's for e.g., Liberal MP's federally, PQ provincially - in order to gain leverage. I wouldn't rule it out at this point.

The popular vote split was very close. Liberals 33%, ADQ 31%, PQ 28%. There is a degree of unpredictability evident in these results.

Dumont came close to becoming Premier. He's a new face. He caught on in a brief campaign. It's possible an unforeseen leader could do the same in Quebec, or elsewhere during a coming federal campaign.

And is it good news for Harper's Conservatives to be affiliated with a latent resentment of minority accommodation that Dumont tapped into during this election?
Since the fall, an angry debate over accommodating religious minorities roiled the province.

More incidents erupted during the election campaign. People complained that their party at a sugar shack was curbed by Muslim patrons who needed prayer space. There was outrage over whether Muslim women should lift their face veils to identify themselves when they vote.

Mr. Dumont barely touched on those issues during the campaign, but he had already gained a lot of capital last fall when he was the only leader who spoke forcefully against accommodations, saying Quebec had gone too far in placating religious minorities. (emphasis added)
Nah, that's not a good look for Mini Bush and his gang...this is exactly the kind of issue Harper's Conservatives need like the plague at this point. They're ticking time bombs with such issues and they embrace it at their peril.

We saw how the conventional wisdom played out last night. I think I'll maintain a healthy degree of skepticism.

Hey, Ontario Lottery Corporation

Here are two words you need to get to know: risk management.

This story is a huge embarrassment. Kudos to the fifth estate reporters who blew the lid off this scandal.

Monday, March 26, 2007

More allegations of Conservatives buying off candidates

"OPP investigating affidavit alleging Tory link to mayoralty offer." John Reynolds and John Baird's names come up here in connection with the Ottawa mayoralty election in 2006.

A former mayoralty candidate, Terry Kilrea, claims he was offered a position on the Parole Board in exchange for him dropping out of the race. He's sworn an affidavit to that effect and now the OPP's investigating. John Reynolds is alleged to have been the source of the patronage offer. Kilrea claims he was instructed to call John Baird about it if he was interested. The guy making the offers to Kilrea was Larry O'Brien, the now Ottawa mayor. O'Brien is supposedly John Baird's friend.

Which brings us to this:
Then-treasury board president John Baird's unusual, mid-campaign intervention on a federal transit grant dramatically altered the course of the campaign, and ultimately helped O'Brien win by a wide margin.
It appears that the Conservatives were very keen to see Larry O'Brien win the mayoralty race. Why? Is it payback? Who is O'Brien?
O'Brien was founder and CEO of Calian, a technology company in Ottawa. He and his wife Debbie, and their two sons, Matthew and Michael, presented the SCO Health Service Foundation with a cheque for $400,000 to benefit Saint-Vincent when it was being renovated and expanded.
Is it just that O'Brien is an ally of Baird or was O'Brien a Conservative financial contributor? I'd like to know.

Echoes of the recent Stockwell Day allegations here as well.

Giving Karl Rove the benefit of the doubt

Susan Estrich thinks it's all Alberto's fault:
But I’m willing to give Karl Rove and Harriet Miers the benefit of the doubt. After all, Karl is an old friend of mine, and I was ready to see Harriet confirmed to be on the Supreme Court. And truth be told, whatever they said or did here, I don’t think they’re the ones whose judgment is really at issue.

A President’s top political adviser is allowed to see things politically. He’s allowed to push for his people to get political appointments, including as prosecutors, provided they’re qualified, which his deputy, who was ultimately appointed as interim U.S. attorney in Little Rock, plainly was.

The White House counsel, which is what Harriet Miers was, has only one client, the president; she’s allowed to view things through the narrow set of blinders shaped by her client’s interest in having loyalists serve him.

It’s the Justice Department that is supposed to serve as the buffer, to act as a limit on political pressure, to represent the interests of We, the People as well as Him, the President. Alberto Gonzales’ loyalty to the President may be the reason he still has his job, but it is also the reason his job is in trouble.
If Rove and Miers were involved in ousting prosecutors for reasons such as the prosecutors refusing to indict Democratic political opponents (the Iglesias, MacKay firings) or to discontinue an ongoing corruption investigation (the Lam firing)...then Estrich is way off here. They're not entitled to use their political positions to accomplish such ends which interfere in the impartial administration of justice. Estrich giving them a pass? Very strange.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Mini Bush is sixty weeks old

And to mark the occasion of the 60 week old Harper government, Garth Turner provides a special list of 60 reasons not to vote for Harper. I like it. Handy reminder of all things dispiriting about Harper's tenure. A few of my faves, I'll just pick, say 11-15:
11. Promising investors a break on capital gains taxes and then abandoning it after being elected.
12. Dredging up anti-gay sentiments by forcing another vote in Parliament on same-sex marriage.
13. John Baird’s partisanship.
14. Parliamentary secretary Pierre Poilievre’s hand gestures in Parliament and F-word comments in committee.
15. Refusing to allow media coverage of the return home of our Afghan war dead, without consulting the families.
Just 4 of 60 wonderful reasons not to support Mini Bush.

I think there's some very evocative material here that could form the basis of some very effective campaign ads.

Rove's time will come

From 10 THINGS you might want to know about executive privilege:
"Top presidential advisers in the Clinton administration testified nearly four dozen times, including during the Whitewater investigation. "
Not that these clowns think they're in any way as accountable as the Clinton folk were...but still, facts and the law have a nasty little way of bringing the powerful back down to earth...:)

Mercifully, it comes to an end

"Don't elect a minority, Charest urges Quebec." He's talking about a minority government, of course. (Perhaps that word should have been included in the headline, given the racist overtones of this campaign.)

And Jean...you blew it, baby, you really blew it. Charest will likely end up with a minority government and much diminished by this campaign.

I agree with Chantal Hebert's conclusion about this campaign:
One way or another, it looks like there will be no real closure for anyone on Monday. The next act in this saga will take place on the stage of the next federal election.
And is it just me or is election fatigue a very real phenomenon out there?

"Professionalism and restraint"

The NYC Police overstepped their bounds in spying on legitimate political protest and planning prior to the NYC Republican convention in 2004: City Police Spied Broadly Before G.O.P. Convention.

Get a load of this:
The satirical performance troupe Billionaires for Bush, which specializes in lampooning the Bush administration by dressing in tuxedos and flapper gowns, was described in an intelligence digest on Jan. 23, 2004.

“Billionaires for Bush is an activist group forged as a mockery of the current president and political policies,” the report said. “Preliminary intelligence indicates that this group is raising funds for expansion and support of anti-R.N.C. activist organizations.”

Marco Ceglie, who performs as Monet Oliver dePlace in Billionaires for Bush, said he had suspected that the group was under surveillance by federal agents — not necessarily police officers — during weekly meetings in a downtown loft and at events around the country in the summer of 2004.

“It was a running joke that some of the new faces were 25- to 32-year-old males asking, ‘First name, last name?’ ” Mr. Ceglie said. “Some people didn’t care; it bothered me and a couple of other leaders, but we didn’t want to make a big stink because we didn’t want to look paranoid. We applied to the F.B.I. under the Freedom of Information Act to see if there’s a file, but the answer came back that ‘we cannot confirm or deny.’ ”

The Billionaires try to avoid provoking arrests, Mr. Ceglie said.

Speaking of "not distinguished" attorneys...

Frank Rich plays on Bush's supposed nickname for Alberto Gonzales today, "When Will Fredo Get Whacked?" He surmises that'll happen once Alberto's no longer useful to the boss. In the meantime, Bush is remaining loyal, since they've got a lot of, how shall we put it, "delicate" history. Some of it:
Mr. Gonzales may be a nonentity, but he’s a nonentity like Zelig. He’s been present at every dubious legal crossroads in Mr. Bush’s career. That conjoined history began in 1996, when Mr. Bush, then governor of Texas, was summoned for jury duty in Austin. To popular acclaim, he announced he was glad to lend his “average guy” perspective to a drunken driving trial. But there was one hitch. On the juror questionnaire, he left blank a required section asking, “Have you ever been accused, or a complainant, or a witness in a criminal case?”

A likely explanation for that omission, unknown to the public at the time, was that Mr. Bush had been charged with disorderly conduct in 1968 and drunken driving in 1976. Enter Mr. Gonzales. As the story is told in “The President’s Counselor,” a nonpartisan biography by the Texas journalist Bill Minutaglio, Mr. Gonzales met with the judge presiding over the trial in his chambers (a meeting Mr. Gonzales would years later claim to have “no recollection” of requesting) and saved his client from jury duty. Mr. Minutaglio likens the scene to “The Godfather” — casting Mr. Gonzales not as the feckless Fredo, however, but as the “discreet ‘fixer’ attorney,” Robert Duvall’s Tom Hagen.

Mr. Gonzales’s career has been laced with such narrow escapes for both him and Mr. Bush. As a partner at the Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins, Mr. Gonzales had worked for Enron until 1994. After Enron imploded in 2001, reporters wanted to know whether Ken Lay’s pals in the Bush hierarchy had received a heads up about the company’s pending demise before its unfortunate shareholders were left holding the bag. The White House said that Mr. Gonzales had been out of the Enron loop “to the best of his recollection.” This month Murray Waas of The National Journal uncovered a more recent close shave: Just as Justice Department investigators were about to examine “documents that might have shed light on Gonzales’s role” in the administration’s extralegal domestic wiretapping program last year, Mr. Bush shut down the investigation.

It was Mr. Gonzales as well who threw up roadblocks when the 9/11 Commission sought documents and testimony from the White House about the fateful summer of 2001.
Seems to me that someone could fetch quite a deal for a very interesting little memoir. I find that 9/11 reference to be quite intriguing to ponder. What does Fredo know about events that summer?

Beyond the Bush skeletons, the more likely and immediate rationale for Bush's fierce defence of Gonzales...of course, the serious allegations of obstruction of justice that have been bubbling up from the cases of some of the fired attorneys and beyond.

This must be quite the thing, to get caught up in the ride with a life-long friend/power-broker who brings you along to heights you never would have reached and to whom you owe everything. And to now be in the midst of your hubris-filled adventure coming crashing down around you. How degrading it must have been for Gonzales, deep down in some small part of his soul, to have had to endure the annoyingly condescending label of Fredo from a boob like George W.

But heck... I'm starting to sound sympathetic, let's rein that in...:)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cool song



At least I think so...from The Good, the Bad, and the Queen, "Kingdom of Doom." It's so freaky sounding, very British, ethereal and slightly political. If you were in London tonight, I think this is what Britain would feel like. Btw, very British video too!

"Drink all day, cause the country's at war..."

"a love song for the collaboration..."

Love it.

I am not "involved" in writing this blog post

Are you sitting down? Here's a real shocker for you...Alberto Gonzales caught stretching the truth:
"Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales met with senior aides on Nov. 27 to review a plan to fire a group of U.S. attorneys, according to documents released last night, a disclosure that contradicts Gonzales's previous statement that he was not involved in 'any discussions' about the dismissals.
You see, it depends on what the meaning of the word "involved" is...:) I'm sure Gonzales meant it in exactly the same way that it was previously meant when Karl Rove was said not to be involved in the outing of Valerie Plame.

Little Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' ex-deputy is going to be testifying next week...I'm sure he'll shed some light on Gonzales' degree of involvement. And Rove's. Should be mighty interesting. If I'm not mistaken, Sampson will be one of the first from this administration to testify publicly on the inner workings of the White House.

And isn't it amazing how emails disclosing such information suddenly appear on the heels of the Justice Department learning that Sampson will indeed testify...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Rove's little henchman

Josh Marshall gives you a sense of the ilk that Rove sought to put into the U.S. attorney role in Arkansas:



Pure partisan hack. More here and here. (I would love to go into this in more depth but pressed for time today/tonight.)

Very sad

A glimpse of intense humanity and grace visited the U.S. political scene yesterday: "Ready for Another Tough Campaign."

Poll a mixed bag for Mini Bush

Let them dream: Harper's Tories on course for majority: poll. A favourable poll putting the Conservatives at 39% nationally in the immediate aftermath of the budget. Don't get too excited, Mini Bush.

I'd be interested to see polls in Quebec, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland right about now, with a few days of budget, shall we say, "aftermath" sunken in. You know, like Danny Millions taking a blood oath to throw the Conservative bums out...and Lorne Calvert having been called a liar by a federal Conservative MP...and Harper being perceived as threatening the Quebec electorate and the Quebec Premier now treating him like he's a skunk at the party...I wonder if those developments are reflected in these numbers?

And let's keep some perspective, people. Recall that Mini Bush got 36% in the last election. This poll suggests a mind-boggling growth in Conservative support of 3% in over a year...:) Oh yeah, he's cruising into majority territory...:)

I'm constantly amazed at the brouhaha over such numbers when the poll also provides these ones:
For example, the Conservatives now find themselves tied with the Liberals at 40 per cent support in Ontario, the first time since July that the Conservatives have cracked the 40-per-cent mark. In Quebec, the Tories and the Liberals are locked together at 24 per cent, each party just nine points behind the Bloc.
It has not taken much to dent Conservative growth in Ontario and Quebec thus far. And the Liberals have barely made an effort. And they're still a point better than where they were last year, with a new leader who has been slammed by a major media campaign and who is consistently underestimated. Remember this?



There was a reason Dion caught on and Harper and the gang needed to attack so quickly.

With Harper's foot-in-mouth disease, wild card MP's and a multitude of unknown events before us, nobody's walking away with a majority result anytime soon.

IMHO...:)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mini Bush's Quebec power play may be backfiring

Charest testy as Quebec Liberals slip in polls.

The "brilliant" play to resolve the fiscal imbalance might be blowing up in Harper's face. In the short term, it might lead to a PQ government out of voter resentment against Charest's blatant tax cutting gimmick and the perceived interference in the Quebec campaign by Harper. Boisclair's playing it all up, to the hilt. Heading into the weekend before Monday's election, it's not a good story line developing.

Harper's handling of Quebec will come in for serious scrutiny if the PQ are elected on Monday.

Brooks on the U.S. attorney firings today

Do I find myself in partial agreement with David Brooks today? Strangely, yes. In "A Proper Distinction", Brooks points out a key aspect of this political controversy:
But the word “political” in this context has two meanings, one philosophic, one partisan. The prosecutors are properly political when their choices are influenced by the policy priorities of elected officeholders. If the president thinks prosecutors should spend more time going after terrorists, prosecutors should follow his lead.

But prosecutors are improperly political if they bow to pressure to protect members of the president’s party or team. Most would agree that Harry Truman was being improperly political when he tried to block the reappointment of Maurice Milligan, a U.S. attorney investigating the Pendergast political machine in Missouri.
Just as, Brooks points out later in his column, it was improper for Bush to have fired David Iglesias, who was clearly the object of partisan efforts to influence his prosecutions. Brooks thinks Carol Lam was properly removed, however. I will respectfully disagree for now pending the investigation and based on my inability at this stage of the Bush administration to continue to give these people the benefit of the doubt.

Brooks takes a shot at Gonzales:
But what’s striking in reading through the Justice Department e-mail messages is that senior people in that agency seem never to have thought about the proper role of politics in their decision-making. They reacted like chickens with their heads cut off when this scandal broke because they could not articulate the differences between a proper political firing and an improper one.

Moreover, they had no coherent sense of honor. Alberto Gonzales apparently never communicated a code of conduct to guide them as they wrestled with various political pressures. That’s a grievous failure of leadership.
And he takes a shot at Bush as well:
And the White House, instead of trying to restore some proportion, has picked a fight over a transcript. The president says he will allow White House staff to appear before Congress, but not in public, not under oath and not with a transcript. The president apparently expects his supporters to rally behind the sacred cause of No Transcript. In time of war, he’s decided to expend political capital so that his staffers can lie to Congress without legal consequences.
My, my. Brooks is presuming Bush staffers will lie? That's pretty amazing. Do you have some special insight here, Dave?

Where I disagree...Brooks goes on to engage in his typical Democrat slagging. He writes of Gonzales' spectacular failure of leadership and admits, at the very least, that Iglesias was improperly fired...yet the Democrats are engaging in "bad behavior" for investigating...!

Gore's challenge to congress



Sadly, there may be no Gore presidential campaign:
It seems clear that Gore has no interest in running for president again. His policy proposals put him to the left even of Bernie Sanders. In his testimony, he called for an immediate emissions freeze and a 90 percent reduction by 2050. He wants the United States to replace payroll taxes with carbon taxes, sign an accelerated version of the Kyoto Protocol, stop building dirty coal power plants, raise fuel-economy standards, and ban incandescent light bulbs. (Hillary Clinton, who sat stone-faced through most of the hearing and revealed an impressive grasp of policy minutiae during her own speech, appeared to have nodded ever so faintly at a few of these.) If Gore were to enter the primaries, such proposals would be raked over and ripped apart by other Democrats.

US DOJ whistleblower:politics trumps law in Bush's DOJ

Are the floodgates opening? This article tells me they are: Prosecutor Says Bush Appointees Interfered With Tobacco Case . These details will grab your attention this morning:
The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take steps that weakened the government's racketeering case.

Sharon Y. Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's office began micromanaging the team's strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government's claim that the industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers.

She said a supervisor demanded that she and her trial team drop recommendations that tobacco executives be removed from their corporate positions as a possible penalty. He and two others instructed her to tell key witnesses to change their testimony. And they ordered Eubanks to read verbatim a closing argument they had rewritten for her, she said.

"The political people were pushing the buttons and ordering us to say what we said," Eubanks said. "And because of that, we failed to zealously represent the interests of the American public."

Eubanks, who served for 22 years as a lawyer at Justice, said three political appointees were responsible for the last-minute shifts in the government's tobacco case in June 2005: then-Associate Attorney General Robert D. McCallum, then-Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler and Keisler's deputy at the time, Dan Meron.

News reports on the strategy changes at the time caused an uproar in Congress and sparked an inquiry by the Justice Department. Government witnesses said they had been asked to change testimony, and one expert withdrew from the case. Government lawyers also announced that they were scaling back a proposed penalty against the industry from $130 billion to $10 billion.

High-ranking Justice Department officials said there was no political meddling in the case, and the department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) concurred after an investigation.
Of course it's all denied by Gonzales' crew. Would you expect them to say anything else? Their credibility is strained, however, given the evidence that's rolling out and their flimsy denials that any political considerations played a role in the ouster of the fired U.S. attorneys.
Eubanks, who retired from Justice in December 2005, said she is coming forward now because she is concerned about what she called the "overwhelming politicization" of the department demonstrated by the controversy over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Lawyers from Justice's civil rights division have made similar claims about being overruled by supervisors in the past.

Eubanks said Congress should not limit its investigation to the dismissal of the U.S. attorneys.

"Political interference is happening at Justice across the department," she said. "When decisions are made now in the Bush attorney general's office, politics is the primary consideration. . . . The rule of law goes out the window." (emphasis added)
Eggen's original report on the story from 2005 can be found here . The NYTimes had a similar story at the time with reference to Eubanks' disagreement with her political superiors over the reduction of the $130 billion judgment sought to $10 billion and general commentary about a lack of support from the political higher ups. How far could her story really have gone at the time, however, given the internal Justice investigation that turned up nothing and a passive Republican congress unwilling to do anything about the allegations.

Times have changed. Now she's willing to talk, it appears. Elections have consequences, as Senator Boxer reminded everyone yesterday.

This investigation of partisan manipulation of the DOJ is going to be big. Huuuuu-ge.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Conservative hatorade watch

Today's winner: Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott.

Subversion of justice watch: Wednesday p.m.

Attention being drawn today to the very slow moving investigation undertaken by the U.S. Justice Department into the Republican phone-jamming hijinks that occurred during the 2002 mid-term congressional elections in New Hampshire. The central allegations there are that the pace of the investigation was drawn out by someone or somebodys beyond the 2004 election for political benefit to the Republicans.

And there's a really strange aspect to the firing of U.S. attorney Carol Lam of southern California that's come to light. It involves money possibly flowing through Cheney's office that might have ended up being used to buy convicted Republican California congressman Duke Cunningham a boat. Lam was possibly looking into this.

The White House would like to keep the focus on an issue of mishandled executive appointments, i.e., U.S. attorneys "who serve at the pleasure of the President." Their bigger problems are allegations like the ones referenced above and the consequent growing perception that Republican partisans were obstructing justice.

Mini Bush is an embarrassment

"PM says Liberals support Taliban prisoners more than troops."
The prime minister has accused Liberal MPs of being more supportive of Taliban prisoners than Canadian soldiers -- a claim that has Stéphane Dion demanding an apology.

The statement came as Stephen Harper attempted to rescue his beleaguered Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor, who was fending off Liberal calls for his resignation over erroneous statements he made about prisoners in Afghanistan.

The Liberals went after Mr. O'Connor in the Commons and demanded his resignation. The minister, red-faced and flustered, repeated the apology he has made several times, saying he had acted in good faith.

Mr. Harper then stepped into the fray, saying he understood the Liberal “passion” about Taliban prisoners, but wished they would show the same support for Canadian troops -- a crack which provoked shouts and jeers from the Opposition.
Beyond the pale, this is par for the course for our exemplary PM, being the model of decorum and civilized statesmanship that he is...:) (Not.)

When Mini Bush is put on the spot, his partisan low-road instincts always shine through. You are what you are, at your core. You can't change that. It's like he's trying to channel Mulroney's wit in the House but he can't pull it off. So he should just stop. Get a hold of yourself, man.

We call him Mini Bush for good reason here at the Impolitical blog, don't ya know.

It be on

House Panel Authorizes Subpoenas for Top Bush Aides. Love John Conyers. On Bush's offer of private interviews with Rove and Miers:
“We could meet at the local pub to that have that kind of gathering,” said Representative John Conyers of Michigan, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Let the constitutional showdown begin...:)

Let Dion be Dion



Let him speak from his heart and extemporaneously. When he does, when he's unscripted and confident, he's fine. You get a glimpse of it here as you did during the leadership race as well. He's got a real vision of the country that will resonate with people...if he's able to get it out there, communicating effectively and getting beyond all the negativity from the Conservatives.

Don't mess with Danny Millions

Or he'll become quite the thorn in your side: "Provinces slam Tories' fiscal gap cure."
Williams, a Conservative, is so incensed he's urging Newfoundlanders to vote against his federal counterparts.

"We're certainly going to encourage people in the province not to put any Conservative members in to support a Harper government," he said in an interview.
Now there's a Conservative I can get behind...:)

Subversion of justice watch: Fitzgerald for A.G.! And Mini Bush...pay attention

Senator Dick Durbin, I heartily agree with you :
"“If it comes to that, we’ll take our responsibility very seriously,” Durbin said, giving Bush kudos for his selection of Robert Gates to lead the Pentagon. As for suggested replacements, he added, “I’d start with the U.S. attorney for the northern district of Illinois” — Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the Scooter Libby case who earned a lackluster rating in Sampson’s Justice memo."
And elsewhere...a fired U.S. attorney, David Iglesias, speaks out on the NY Times op-ed page today in a must-read:
WITH this week’s release of more than 3,000 Justice Department e-mail messages about the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors, it seems clear that politics played a role in the ousters.

Of course, as one of the eight, I’ve felt this way for some time. But now that the record is out there in black and white for the rest of the country to see, the argument that we were fired for “performance related” reasons (in the words of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty) is starting to look more than a little wobbly.

United States attorneys have a long history of being insulated from politics. Although we receive our appointments through the political process (I am a Republican who was recommended by Senator Pete Domenici), we are expected to be apolitical once we are in office. I will never forget John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, telling me during the summer of 2001 that politics should play no role during my tenure. I took that message to heart. Little did I know that I could be fired for not being political.
...
The public has a right to believe that prosecution decisions are made on legal, not political, grounds.
Exactly. When politicians seek to manipulate the justice system for partisan gain, it's unacceptable. People understand the need for an independent, impartial system that will be fair to anyone caught up in its wheels.

Mini Bush heard an earful yesterday on his own judicial partisanship efforts. There were hearings on his plan to tilt the judicial appointments committee membership toward the government, giving them an effective majority position. This is a development that is ripe for abuse. Given what we see happening in the U.S., do you trust that we are immune from such partisanship? Should we be giving the Conservative government majority power on these committees or should independent experts be the majority? When Harper has vowed to appoint judges in line with his politics?

I think you know what I think...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bush and Leahy standing off

Love it, love it, love it. Senator Pat Leahy is standing up to the bully. Rejecting Bush's position that Rove be interviewed privately and not under oath about his involvement in the U.S. attorney firings.

Using Kyle Sampson's own logic...what's the point of having subpoena power if you don't use it?

Budget politics

A central weakness in this budget :
"The budget included several tax breaks for families with children, and measures targeted at some seniors, fishermen, farmers and people who buy fuel-efficient cars.

But the Tories failed to introduce broad-based income-tax cuts for the second year in a row. Last year, the Tories erased a half-percentage-point cut that the Liberals had introduced on the first $35,000 earned."
If I were a Liberal strategist, I think I'd be pretty comfortable arguing for income tax cuts in the next election versus the Conservatives' targeted approach that permits these minor deductions. By the time an election rolls around, it'll have sunk in with people that these small measures don't make much of a difference when tax time comes around. You can have the Conservative pittances versus real income tax relief...that's a substantive argument.

And by the way, now that all the cash is flowing toward Quebec, why does it matter who is the Premier? I mean, the Quebec billions are not contingent on Charest remaining Premier. So are Quebecers supposed to vote for him out of gratitude? I don't see it.

White House was laying groundwork to oust Patrick Fitzgerald

Just when you think this scandal might ebb...it flows.

There was a massive email dump from the Department of Justice last night, 3000 documents...there'll be lots of interesting info forthcoming from that cesspool.

No more midnight appointments of new U.S. attorneys by the A.G. under cover of the Patriot Act. Senate approval has been restored.

There could be bigger obstruction of justice issues to be investigated involving Gonzales.

We learned of evidence that political motivations were almost certainly behind the firing of one of the highest profile U.S. attorneys, Carol Lam of California. Lam had successfully prosecuted a Republican congressman, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, and in February of this year had indicted a CIA official and a defense contractor with ties to that congressman. The Duke Cunningham scandal, replete with hookers and poker, along with Mark Foley, Haggard et al., was one of the driving forces behind the Republicans loss of control of the Congress in November. Karl Rove believed that to be true. Today we learned, via the magic of email, that Lam was specifically identified by Gonzales' deputy as a "problem" and described to the White House in those terms the day after she had issued search warrants in connection with the Cunningham scandal: Prosecutor's Firing Was Urged During Probe. Coincidence? Think Rove might have had it in for Lam who had the audacity to investigate Republicans and publicize their corruption before the election? Yeah, I think he might have been really motivated to put a plan of action together to ensure he'd have more reliable partisans in place prior to '08.

And still on the Lam/Rove connection, we also learned today that there's no evidence to support Rove's claims that Lam's record on immigration cases was the reason she was fired. Rove's cited it publicly on two occasions now as justification for her firing. Oops.

And perhaps the biggest news of the day...check out this line in the NYTimes early coverage of the email dump from last night - the Bushies hubris actually had them contemplating removing Patrick Fitzgerald:
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney in Chicago who recently led the successful prosecution of I. Lewis Libby Jr., who was a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, was on a list of prosecutors whose performance was ranked as “not distinguished” on a list Mr. Sampson sent to the White House in March 2005, Justice Department officials say.

The list was released last week by the department, but the names of most United States attorneys were deleted, except for some of those who were dismissed.

Mr. Fitzgerald was never seriously considered for removal, say Justice Department officials, who said the list represented the thinking of Mr. Sampson, who resigned last week as Mr. Gonzales’ top aide. (emphasis added)
Ranking Fitzgerald in this manner was clearly done in conjunction with the plan to oust others. It makes sense to believe that he would also be considered for removal given his "disloyalty." What's the reaction to this peevish move on the part of the Bushies? Justice types are outraged:
Mary Jo White, who supervised Fitzgerald when she served as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan and who has criticized the firings, said ranking him as a middling prosecutor "lacks total credibility across the board."

"He is probably the best prosecutor in the nation -- certainly one of them," said White, who worked in the Clinton and Bush administrations. "It casts total doubt on the whole process. It's kind of the icing on the cake."

Fitzgerald has been widely recognized for his pursuit of criminal cases against al-Qaeda's terrorist network before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and he drew up the official U.S. indictment against Osama bin Laden. He was named as special counsel in the CIA leak case in December 2003 by then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who had recused himself.

Fitzgerald also won the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service in 2002 under Ashcroft.

Justice spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said yesterday that "Pat Fitzgerald has a distinguished record as one of the most experienced and well-respected prosecutors at the Justice Department. His track record speaks for itself."
Indeed it does. In fact, you probably couldn't pick a better Attorney General replacement than Patrick Fitzgerald right now.

And about the current A.G....look for Alberto Gonzales to be doing the walk of shame some time in the near future...the White House is officiallly hanging him out to dry.

This plot to remove these attorneys reeks of partisan manipulation, the last thing you ever want to see when it comes to appointing independent prosecutors who have the power to launch criminal investigations and ruin lives. Allowing Karl Rove to be involved in that process? Disgraceful. He's got a lot to answer for and I'm sure Senator Leahy will see that he does.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Thanks, Progressive Bloggers

Just wanted to give a shout out to the Progressive Bloggers site and to its members. They just approved my site as an affiliate, for which I am very appreciative.

So what's there to know about me? Well, here are a few notes...

I've been blogging since mid-2005 and my subjects are largely U.S. and Canadian politics. I write a lot about Bush and his henchmen and their legions of atrocities. Karl Rove is a favourite target of mine. He is largely responsible for the decline of the quality of the American democracy over the past six years, at least that's one of my pet theories and I'm sticking to it. The material that they provide these days is priceless for bloggers yet at the same time too often frightening. The current U.S. attorney scandal is an example of a subversion of the justice system for politcal ends that I find astounding. This is the kind of issue that piques my interest.

And I'm finding the same kind of material emanating out of Ottawa these days as well. Mini Bush (my pet name for one Mr. Stephen Harper - say it out loud and try to refrain from laughing) seems to have the gut instinct to follow down the road that his Republican confreres to the south travel. That is, the low road of hyper-partisanship which becomes manifested in almost everything they do. The echoes of the worst of the Bush administration that we've seen thus far in Harper foreign policy, media interactions, judicial appointment philosophy, environmental policy and domestic initiatives is another theme here at my blog.

I try to be funny in a majorly sarcastic way...:) It doesn't always work, but, hey, I'm trying. Through all the frustrating bs coming from these administrations, you have to lighten it up!

I blog anonymously. It's just a personal preference, no real big scoop behind that.

I may be adding a team blogger, a friend - disco, who may be adding some variety of a tech, humour brand in the next little while.

I'm in Parkdale-High Park, one of the few ridings in Canada to be NDP provincially and federally. Yeah, my home is definitely located in one of the more progressive enclaves in the country! I'll be supporting Gerard Kennedy in the next election and he'll have a good shot in a fierce campaign.

I'm a night owl and tend to post at all hours. It's a product of a flexible lifestyle that I enjoy with the Impolitical husband. Strange hours but then again, it's all relative, isn't it?

And I hope you enjoy the blog...that's it!

By the way...major snow job alert coming out of Ottawa this very hour. And I'm not talking about the weather...:)

Lovely quote of the day from Elizabeth May

Junior MacKay's nightmare has begun:
"Saying she expects an election 'very, very soon,' May minced no words about her antipathy to Conservatives yesterday when she announced she would be vying for a Commons seat in the Nova Scotia riding of Central Nova, held by MacKay for the past 10 years.

'I can't say how much I fear for my country if these people ever got a majority,' May told supporters and journalists in Antigonish, one of the main towns in the largely rural riding."

Bob Fife watch

After his budget "report" last night, in response to a question from anchor Sandie Rinaldo, Fife stereotyped the Conservatives as being "penny-pinchers" and the Liberals as "big spending." Well, excuse me for throwing a cold bucket of water on Bob's propensity to use Conservative talking points...but it was the Liberals who got control of deficit spending in the 1990's after the excess of the Mulroney years and left the Canadian economy, after over a decade of Martin's fiscal management, in pretty darned good shape. There wouldn't be all these billions to be throwing around if not for Liberal responsibility when it came to budgetary matters. Yet the Conservatives of late, announcing spending like drunken sailors have the "penny-pincher" label bestowed upon them by Fife, making it seem that they are usually the fiscally responsible party - versus the irresponsible big spending Liberals.

I mean, WTF?

And once again, a big shout out to Senator Pat Leahy

One of my favourite recipients these days: Leahy: "I Am Sick and Tired of Getting Half-Truths."
“I do not believe in this, ‘we’ll have a private briefing for you where we’ll tell you everything,’ and they don’t,” Mr. Leahy said on the ABC News program “This Week.” adding: “I want testimony under oath. I am sick and tired of getting half-truths on this.”
I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired too, Pat...:)

And the story gets better today with this development:
Already, the uproar over the dismissals has led to the resignation of Mr. Gonzales’s chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, whose plan to remove 7 of the nation’s 93 United States attorneys was detailed in e-mail messages made public last week. The messages showed that during the last two years, Mr. Sampson had consulted extensively with the White House about planning for the firings, information that contradicted earlier assertions by Justice Department officials that the White House was not involved.

Mr. Schumer said his aides had spoken Saturday night to Mr. Sampson’s lawyer, and had received indications that Mr. Sampson “wants to come forward.” Speaking on “Meet the Press” on NBC, Mr. Schumer said, “It’s a real possibility that he will voluntarily testify.” (emphasis added)
So stonewall away, Mr. Rove et al., but Gonzales' former chief of staff, frequent communicator with the White House on the U.S. attorney dismissals and all-round Rovian underling may very well be singing like a bird for all the world to see. I'm thinking you White House types might want to have your say as well, but maybe that's just me.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A few speed bumps for Mini Bush

Entering the final week of the Quebec campaign, the PQ takes the lead:
"The latest survey conducted by Strategic Council for the Globe and Mail and CTV suggested 32 per cent of respondents supported the Parti Quebecois, 30 per cent favoured the governing Liberals and 26 per cent backed the ADQ.

But the race is to close to call when the margin of error is considered.

The poll surveyed 1,000 voters between March 14 and 15. The results are considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

Mr. Boisclair said Friday that even with a slim PQ victory, he would seek a referendum. He maintained the PQ will form a majority government.

Campaigning in Quebec City on Saturday, the energized PQ leader said his performance in last week's televised leaders' debate breathed new life into his party's campaign."
What do you think about that, Mr. Harper? Not playing out the way you hoped, has it? If it's a PQ or ADQ minority government, this is a rebuke to Harper, no question. Maybe that's why he appeared angry, pale and sweaty in his speech in Toronto last night. Or is it just me who had that impression...:) (CP)

With the federal budget slated for Monday, it'll be very interesting to see how it plays out this week in the campaign.

What our current PM's view on Iraq was

Since there's a lot of revisionist history being undertaken this week, we should also remind ourselves of what Mini Bush thought of the Iraq war at the time it was being contemplated and launched. His public positions provide a very insightful look at the political judgment of Stephen Harper on a momentous issue of our times. And his instinct was to unequivocally back Bush, 110%.
"It [referring to calling a Minister "Idiot"] was probably not an appropriate term, but we support the war effort and believe we should be supporting our troops and our allies and be there with them doing everything necessary to win.

* Montreal Gazette, April 2003
...
I don't know all the facts on Iraq, but I think we should work closely with the Americans.

* Report Newsmagazine, March 25 2002
...
On the justification for the war, it wasn't related to finding any particular weapon of mass destruction. In our judgment, it was much more fundamental. It was the removing of a regime that was hostile, that clearly had the intention of constructing weapons systems. … I think, frankly, that everybody knew the post-war situation was probably going to be more difficult than the war itself. Canada remains alienated from its allies, shut out of the reconstruction process to some degree, unable to influence events. There is no upside to the position Canada took.

* Maclean’s, August, 25, 2003
...
We support the war effort and believe we should be supporting our troops and our allies and be there with them doing everything necessary to win

* Montreal Gazette, April 2, 2003
Well worth remembering this week.

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

Prediction: Green Leader will give Junior MacKay fits



"Green leader May looks to unseat MacKay in N.S. riding." Think Junior will take May to the local Tims?

Good for her! Can you say chutzpah?

Someone better brush up on the environment...:)

Tip: see if you can goad Junior MacKay into telling you to "stick to your knitting"...he's been known to utter the phrase in the past and seems to have, um, shall we say "issues" when "interacting" with powerful women...:)

A look back at March, 2003

Frank Rich today, "The Ides of March 2003," with a look back at some of what was being said at the time the Iraq war commenced. Notably, there were a number of red warning flags about the intelligence upon which the war was based and hey, there were some Democrats asking questions at the time. Some excerpts:
March 6, 2003

President Bush holds his last prewar news conference. The New York Observer writes that he interchanged Iraq with the attacks of 9/11 eight times, “and eight times he was unchallenged.” The ABC News White House correspondent, Terry Moran, says the Washington press corps was left “looking like zombies.”

March 7, 2003

Appearing before the United Nations Security Council on the same day that the United States and three allies (Britain, Spain and Bulgaria) put forth their resolution demanding that Iraq disarm by March 17, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, reports there is “no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.”. He adds that documents “which formed the basis for the report of recent uranium transaction between Iraq and Niger are in fact not authentic.” None of the three broadcast networks’ evening newscasts mention his findings.

[In 2005 ElBaradei was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.]

March 10, 2003

Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks tells an audience in England, “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.” Boycotts, death threats and anti-Dixie Chicks demonstrations follow.

[In 2007, the Dixie Chicks won five Grammy Awards, including best song for “Not Ready to Make Nice.”]
...
March 14, 2003

Senator John D. Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia, asks the F.B.I. to investigate the forged documents cited a week earlier by ElBaradei and alleging an Iraq-Niger uranium transaction: “There is a possibility that the fabrication of these documents may be part of a larger deception campaign aimed at manipulating public opinion and foreign policy regarding Iraq.”
...
March 16, 2003

On “Meet the Press,” Dick Cheney says that American troops will be “greeted as liberators,” that Saddam “has a longstanding relationship with various terrorist groups, including the Al Qaeda organization,” and that it is an “overstatement” to suggest that several hundred thousand troops will be needed in Iraq after it is liberated. Asked by Tim Russert about ElBaradei’s statement that Iraq does not have a nuclear program, the vice president says, “I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong.”

“There will be new recruits, new recruits probably because of the war that’s about to happen. So we haven’t seen the last of Al Qaeda.”

— Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism czar, on ABC’s “This Week.”

[From the recently declassified “key judgments” of the National Intelligence Estimate of April 2006: “The Iraq conflict has become the cause célèbre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”]

“Despite the Bush administration’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, U.S. intelligence agencies have been unable to give Congress or the Pentagon specific information about the amounts of banned weapons or where they are hidden, according to administration officials and members of Congress. Senior intelligence analysts say they feel caught between the demands from White House, Pentagon and other government policy makers for intelligence that would make the administration’s case ‘and what they say is a lack of hard facts,’ one official said.”

— “U.S. Lacks Specifics on Banned Arms,” by Walter Pincus (with additional reporting by Bob Woodward), The Washington Post, Page A17.
...
March 20, 2003

“It seems quite odd to me that while we are commenced upon a war, we have no funding for that war in this budget.”

—Hillary Clinton.

Trump sounding off



I can't stand this guy...but I'll give him a little airtime for this...:)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Johnny come latelys

"Baird dismisses Liberal climate plan as a money grab." And so, the Conservative low-road-politicking begins.

Harper and his crew really are priceless. Didn't give a hoot about the environment until Dion was elected Liberal leader just over two months ago. Suddenly, they're greener than green, walking around forests, recycling Liberal proposals as their own and now criticizing Dion's proposals while telegraphing that they're going to do the same thing. Says Baird:
“We'll coming forward with regulations for all industrial sectors in the coming weeks and there will be obviously targets for industry cross the board,” he said.
Putting John Baird in charge of the environmental file symbolizes the Conservatives' real strategy here, it's all about communication skills and a public relations onslaught... now Dion's daring them to put their money where their mouths are while the rest of the world shows leadership. Dion's emissions targets move us in the same direction as the recent British and EU efforts.

Will Harper and John Baird do the same?

Senate reform

Yeah, now there's an attention getter on a Saturday afternoon...Senate reform!

Nevertheless, there's an op-ed in the NYTimes today that is somewhat applicable to our own Canadian debate, "Make the Lords Stand for Election? First, Let’s Sit and Think," given Harper's baby steps toward election of senators:
Real constitutional change should be driven by crisis and necessity. The United States achieved change on this scale only through revolution. That crisis created the opportunity for the Founding Fathers to define their basic philosophical principles and write a new constitution, which remains to this day both a cornerstone of national pride and also a formal political instrument, governed by strict rules.

But in Britain there has been no such crisis. In fact, most believe that the House of Lords is being a good watchdog. It has recently publicized and defended principles of justice and liberty against the government’s human rights and terrorism legislation. Even the reformers want to preserve this positive function. Their problem is not with what the House of Lords is doing, but with how its members are chosen.

The reformers believe that they can change the selection processes without changing the outcomes. They fail to see that these things are connected. It is because the House of Lords’ members are appointed for life that they have an independence that allows them to challenge party policy.

Meanwhile, the British public is largely frustrated with elected politicians and not enthusiastic to see more of them in the Lords. Voters understand that the House of Lords remains anachronistic, irrational and imperfect, but feel no pressing need for change. This has encouraged the Lords to vote overwhelmingly to remain an appointed house. The party leaders, Tony Blair and David Cameron, have evasively favored a hybrid house: partly elected, partly appointed.

In Britain, the grand banner of democracy is cloaking flimsy and unnecessary policies. There is room to make the appointments process more transparent, representative and nonpolitical. But in reality, an elected upper house would make sense only in the context of a new written constitution that redefined the separation of powers; the relationship with the lower house, the church and the monarchy; and deep issues of national identity. But to do that would require the rigor, seriousness and courage of the Founding Fathers. (emphasis added)
Italicized parts throughout echo the Canadian Senate debate and the mood in this country for change. If we're going to embark on the road to an elected Senate, its full implications for the country need to be grappled with...and there's no appetite to do that at this time.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A song I am currently overplaying




Bloc Party, "I Still Remember." Enjoy...:)

Dion taking the lead on the environment

And going after Harper. Good for him. Getting out on front on this issue with some innovative ideas that will encourage companies to go green.

I would expect the Conservatives to replicate the strategy - as the report indicates - but go heavy on the politics, fear mongering and try to tar Dion as harmful to Alberta, industry and the future of Canada as we know it. You can bet on that. Sounds like Dion's getting primed for it:
“We can no longer use our atmosphere as a free garbage dump,” he said.

“It took a Liberal government to balance Canada’s financial budget. Now it’s time to balance our carbon budget.”
...
Dion also took a shot at the Conservative government, accusing it of wasting a year as it performed an about-face in its once lukewarm acceptance of the science of climate change.

“Canada will be asked a simple question: In the fight against global warming, will we be a leader again? Under the Conservative government of Mr. Harper the answer is no,” Dion said.

“The world will need to look for leadership somewhere else.”

Valerie Plame testifies publicly



Another example of what you'd never see if the Republicans were still in control of the Congress. What she said:
Plame, 43, who introduced herself to the House Oversight Committee as Valerie Plame Wilson, testified that she served as "a covert operations office for the Central Intelligence Agency" before the leak and that her "affiliation with the CIA was classified." She said she helped manage "secret worldwide operations" against Iraq's presumed weapons of mass destruction program from CIA headquarters and "traveled to foreign countries on secret missions to find vital intelligence."

Her employment "was not common knowledge on the Georgetown cocktail circuit," she said. "But all of my efforts on behalf of the national security of the United States, all of my training, all the value of my years of service, were abruptly ended when my name and identity were exposed irresponsibly."

Plame said she was "shocked by the evidence that emerged" in the Libby trial about the leaking of her identify.

"My name and identity were carelessly and recklessly abused by senior government officials in both the White House and the State Department," she testified. "All of them understood that I worked for the CIA. And, having signed oaths to protect national security secrets, they should have been diligent in protecting me and every CIA officer."

She said the harm done by blowing a CIA cover is "grave," but that she could not provide details in her case. In general, she said, such breaches have endangered CIA officers, destroyed networks of foreign agents and discouraged others from trusting the U.S. government to protect them.

"We in the CIA always know that we might be exposed and threatened by foreign enemies," Plame said. "It was a terrible irony that administration officials were the ones who destroyed my cover." She added that testimony in the Libby trial "indicates that my exposure arose from purely political motives."
Plame was a CIA asset investigating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programmes yet she was tossed to the curb by the Bush administration for political reasons.

Priorities, priorities...

WTF watch

Andre Boisclair says a very racist thing:
"On Wednesday, Boisclair was giving a speech to students in which he warned of the competitive challenge posed by Asian economies. He illustrated his point by saying that during his recent studies at Harvard, 'I was surprised to see that on campus about one-third of the students doing their bachelor's degrees had slanting eyes.'"
Charest and Dumont are giving him a pass on this, but I can't imagine any politician being able to get away with this, it's just plain offensive and he should do the right thing and apologize.

But it appears he's not going to! What a terrible campaign this has been for him thus far and it looks like it's continuing...