Saturday, March 31, 2007

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?'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...:)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

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.

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...

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.

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....:)

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.

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.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007

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.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Conservative hatorade watch

Today's winner: Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott.

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...:)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

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.

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...:)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

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...:)

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.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

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.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mini Bush, chameleon

"Top court upholds blackout on early election night vote results." Of course it should.
The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the long-standing legal ban on reporting early vote results on federal election nights in regions of the country where the polls are still open.

In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled the ban can be justified under the Charter of Rights.

Since 1938 federal election law has forbidden the reporting of early results from other areas of the country in places where people may not have had a chance yet to cast their ballots.

OK, nothing remarkable here, right? Move along, people. But wait just one minute. Looky here at what jumps out from the page on the occasion of a discussion about public views expressed during the course of this public policy issue winding its way to the Supreme Court. Yes, it's another reminder of Harper's penchant for taking the extreme view (until he became PM, of course):
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, then a private citizen, criticized the reporting ban in 2001, when he circulated a fundraising letter soliciting support for Mr. Bryan.

At the time, Mr. Harper called Elections Canada officials “jackasses” and referred to Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley — who stepped down last December — as a “dangerous man.”

The prime minister has been more careful in office, offering no comment on the legal battle while lawyers for the federal Justice Department continued to defend the law.
Temperament, temperament. It never ceases to amaze that a man who has made such public expressions of such utter, unbridled contempt for various Canadian institutions and individuals has become our PM. Just amazing. Recall such classic Harperisms...Maritimers are lazy, Kyoto is a socialist scheme, Elections Canada officials are jackasses, build a firewall around Alberta...and all of these statements made in the prime of his mature, adult life. And without consequence.

So who is this guy who is currently masquerading as PM? And where have these views gone?

Listen to Hillary on Iraq today

Do yourself a favour and listen to her discussing Iraq, here (or read the story and transcript, here, but the audio gives you a better sense of her command of the issues). It's from an interview series the NY Times is doing with the candidates on Iraq.

Listen to the substance, knowledge and sensible positions. Then imagine George W. Bush sitting down to do the same.

She gets a ton of flak for her personality, history, etc., but when you sit and listen to her, you think, you know what...she makes a lot of sense. It may just be as simple as that.

How U.S. conservatives view Stephen Harper

Somehow, Impolitical has ended up on the mailing list of Richard Viguerie, who runs I get a kick out of how down on George W. Bush these firebrands are these days. So sad.

Their press release yesterday in response to a NYTimes poll showing the Republicans with terrible numbers going into 2008 happened to catch my eye. Seems the extreme right in the U.S. draws some inspiration from Mini Bush and his new Conservative party that has risen from the "Progressive Conservative" ashes:
“President Bush’s legacy may be to preside over the GOP’s demise. In the 1993 elections in Canada, the ruling Progressive Conservative Party suffered a disastrous defeat and was left with a grand total of only two seats in the House of Commons. The party never again won more than 20 seats, out of 308, and officially dissolved in 2003. However, it was replaced by the new Conservative Party of Canada, which is led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“If the Republican Party continues on its present course, it will follow in the footsteps of the Progressive Conservative Party in Canada. Then, perhaps out of the ashes of the George W. Bush GOP, a new phoenix will arise to lead the U.S. in a conservative direction.”
Isn't it heartening to know that Harper brings such comfort to American conservatives and the future of their movement?

We have our very own conservative phoenix...:)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The newborn environmentalist


"What are these tall, wooden things I see all around me?" Or insert your own more creative caption for the spectacle of Stephen Harper, who for most of his adult life has denigrated environmental issues, now traipsing around the woods for his electoral life. He's shameless.

And everyone knows it: "In Reversal, Canada's Conservatives Embrace Environmental Concerns."

On the lighter side...

Stockwells Day spells his own name wrong.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mini Bush still a great unknown for many

At the Impolitical blog, of course, we know quite a bit about Mini Bush. The nickname, for instance, says quite a bit. It is, in fact, how I would like to see the great unknowns about Harper filled in during an election campaign.

The uncertainty that remains over exactly who Harper is and what he stands for is a political vulnerability that remains to be exploited by his opponents: article here.

You's not all coming up roses for Mini Bush...

A General lets the Republicans have it over Iraq

Retired General Paul Eaton with very tough talk about the damage Republicans have done to the military. Wow.

Brilliant Frank Rich column today

Why Libby’s Pardon Is a Slam Dunk:
EVEN by Washington’s standards, few debates have been more fatuous or wasted more energy than the frenzied speculation over whether President Bush will or will not pardon Scooter Libby. Of course he will.

A president who tries to void laws he doesn’t like by encumbering them with “signing statements” and who regards the Geneva Conventions as a nonbinding technicality isn’t going to start playing by the rules now. His assertion last week that he is “pretty much going to stay out of” the Libby case is as credible as his pre-election vote of confidence in Donald Rumsfeld. The only real question about the pardon is whether Mr. Bush cares enough about his fellow Republicans’ political fortunes to delay it until after Election Day 2008.

Either way, the pardon is a must for Mr. Bush. He needs Mr. Libby to keep his mouth shut. Cheney’s Cheney knows too much about covert administration schemes far darker than the smearing of Joseph Wilson. Though Mr. Libby wrote a novel that sank without a trace a decade ago, he now has the makings of an explosive Washington tell-all that could be stranger than most fiction and far more salable.

Mr. Libby’s novel was called “The Apprentice.” His memoir could be titled “The Accomplice.” Its first chapter would open in August 2002, when he and a small cadre of administration officials including Karl Rove formed the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a secret task force to sell the Iraq war to the American people. The climactic chapter of the Libby saga unfolded last week when the guilty verdict in his trial coincided, all too fittingly, with the Congressional appearance of two Iraq veterans, one without an ear and one without an eye, to recount their subhuman treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

It was WHIG’s secret machinations more than four years ago that led directly to those shredded lives. WHIG had been tasked, as The Washington Post would later uncover, to portray Iraq’s supposedly imminent threat to America with “gripping images and stories not available in the hedged and austere language of intelligence.” In other words, WHIG was to cook up the sexiest recipe for promoting the war, facts be damned. So it did, by hyping the scariest possible scenario: nuclear apocalypse. As Michael Isikoff and David Corn report in “Hubris,” it was WHIG (equipped with the slick phrase-making of the White House speechwriter Michael Gerson) that gave the administration its Orwellian bumper sticker, the constantly reiterated warning that Saddam’s “smoking gun” could be “a mushroom cloud.”

Ever since all the W.M.D. claims proved false, the administration has pleaded that it was duped by the same bad intelligence everyone else saw. But the nuclear card, the most persistent and gripping weapon in the prewar propaganda arsenal, was this White House’s own special contrivance. Mr. Libby was present at its creation. He knows what Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney knew about the manufacture of this fiction and when they knew it.
This is a barn burner, for sure. One more killer excerpt that will have Mary Matalin pulling out her hair:
Mary Matalin, the former Cheney flack who served with Mr. Libby on WHIG and is now on the board of his legal defense fund (its full list of donors is unknown), has been especially vocal. “Scooter didn’t do anything,” she said. “And his personal record and service are impeccable.” What Mr. Libby did — fabricating nuclear threats at WHIG and then lying under oath when he feared that sordid Pandora’s box might be pried open by the Wilson case — was despicable. Had there been no WHIG or other White House operation for drumming up fictional rationales for war, there would have been no bogus uranium from Africa in a presidential speech, no leak to commit perjury about, no amputees to shut away in filthy rooms at Walter Reed. (emphasis added)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Video log on the Libby trial

Since I'm on a videoblogging's one more for you. These bloggers, Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake and Marcy Wheeler, author and blogger as well (emptywheel), did a great job in covering the Scooter Libby trial and leading the charge in the blogosphere to focus attention on the Bush administration's breach of national security in leaking Valerie Plame's CIA status to the world. Their last video on the case, with a plea to Capitol Hill Democrats to pursue Cheney's office on its role in this matter and drawing attention to the fired U.S. attorneys as well:

A cool site to check out

A YouTube blogger, the Reluctant Redneck, talks about the MIT OpenCourseWare site.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Yawn, Mini Bush rules with an iron fist

More confirmation today. Conservative infighting, though, that's a pleasant twist on what we've seen lately. Try to push around those Maritimers and guess what? They'll push back. That Tim Hortons crowd down there in Moncton is no pushover, Doug Finley. They remember, most likely, Harper's denigration of them in the past (Maritimers not being motivated to get off unemployment, you know the one). And apparently they write letters to the Globe and Mail disclosing Conservative campaign thoughts.
Several Conservatives who were at a recent meeting in the Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe riding attended by Mr. Finley -- and who refused to have their names published -- say he told them they must select a candidate for the next election by March 23, or he would appoint one himself.

Some say Mr. Finley indicated that party policy was being developed to appeal to the "Canadian Tire crowd" and earn the support of targeted groups needed to win a majority government.
March 23? Assuming a budget defeat? Or is this a big fakeout? Who wrote this "anonymous letter" to the Globe, anyway?
Some local party members also say Mr. Finley said that the election date would be determined by himself and Mr. Harper -- and perhaps chief of staff Ian Brodie. Others say he indicated that he would work collaboratively with the party's national council.
Hmmm...Mini Bush and his chief crony pick the date... or his campaign chairman will work co-operatively with riding decide...:)

As a side note, I'm wondering what constitutes the Canadian Tire crowd, really. I noticed a new one recently at Bay and Dundas in Toronto. Do downtown Torontonian apartment dwellers who shop there constitute Harper's crowd?

Do I? I've got a stash of Cdn Tire money in my kitchen drawer...:)

Friedman today

In "Don’t Ask, Don’t Know, Don’t Help" today, Tom Friedman has a few good lines on the Walter Reed situation and Bush's failure to rally the U.S.:
Mr. Bush summoned the country to D-Day and prepared the Army, the military health system, military industries and the American people for the invasion of Grenada.

From the start, the Bush team has tried to keep the Iraq war “off the books” both financially and emotionally. As Larry Diamond of Stanford’s Hoover Institution said to me: “America is not at war. The U.S. Army is at war.” The rest of us are just watching, or just ignoring, while the whole fight is carried on by 150,000 soldiers and their families.

In an interview last Jan. 16, Jim Lehrer asked President Bush why, if the war on terrorism was so overwhelmingly important, he had never asked more Americans “to sacrifice something.” Mr. Bush gave the most unbelievable answer: “Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night.”

Sacrifice peace of mind watching TV? What kind of crazy thing is that to say? Leadership is about enabling and inspiring people to contribute in time of war so the enemy has to fight all of us — not insulating the public so the enemy has to fight only a few of us.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

We need some frickin laser beams

People give their suggestions on how to get the dangerous sheets of ice off the CN Tower.

Very funny...:)

Scooter's going to the big house

Is Scooter going to the big house? Really? Well, let's think about it. Libby's convicted. His lawyer announces right away that they're seeking a new trial (unlikely to go anywhere say legal analysts) and if that fails, will appeal. What are they up to?

Jeffrey Toobin explains:
TOOBIN: Well, most appeals fail. It's important to remember that the vast majority of criminal convictions are upheld on appeal.

But there are really two factors at work here. There is the appeal, but there's also the clock. And that's going to be very important -- the calendar. Because the time for presidential pardons of controversial people is in the lame duck period, after a president is leaving office. So the real issue here is, can Scooter Libby extend his time outside of prison long enough to get to that lame duck period when he might actually get a pardon?

So let's do the math a little bit. He's apparently going to be sentenced in June. Post-trial motions will probably keep going through most of the summer. His appeal probably won't even begin until the fall. An appeal probably takes three or four months to be resolved. That would take us into January, February, March of 2008. If, like most defendants, he loses, he could then go for a [certiorari] petition. He could ask the Supreme Court to get involved in the case. That really might take him up to November 2008.

So it is possible that he will be out of prison pending sentencing during his appeal -- enough time for President Bush then to pardon him following the presidential election in 2008, before he leaves office in January 2009. Those are the kind of calculations that a lot of people are going to be doing now, and certainly Libby's defense team will do everything it can -- and it's even started today -- to slow this process down so that a pardon after the election becomes a possibility.

HOLMES: You're telling me essentially he just needs to hold on in hopes of getting that pardon? He can actually stretch this thing out? And do we have any reason to think certainly the president will give him that pardon?

TOOBIN: Well, we don't know. His father, the first President Bush, pardoned several people involved in the Iran-Contra affair during the lame duck period, 1992, before President Clinton was inaugurated in January 1993. President Clinton issued a number of very controversial pardons, including of the fugitive Marc Rich, during that period after the [Al] Gore-Bush election and before he left office in 2001.

So certainly that timing is going to be very important. And even today ... we heard that [defense attorney] Ted Wells was trying to delay the sentencing past June. So running down the clock is going to be a big strategy of the defense here. (emphasis added)
We'll see how slowly they can run out that clock.

In the meantime, if you're Libby, would you hang your hat on a Bush pardon or would you consider a deal from Fitzgerald in exchange for the real dish on Cheney? Listen to what one of the jurors had to say, speaking to reporters today:
“The belief of the jury was [Libby] was tasked by the vice president to talk to reporters,” said Collins, a former staff writer for The Washington Post who said he felt honor-bound as a journalist to speak with reporters. “We never came to any conclusion whether Cheney would have told him what exactly to say.”
If a jury had evidence on Cheney's "tasking" of there reason to believe Cheney might be convicted? Imagine.

Hillary's listening

Interesting article about Hillary's campaign tour today in the NY Times that gives you a sense of what it's like to be there and the positive reception she's getting from many quarters.

That's a pleasant surprise.

Have a laugh

Take a look at this picture. It's a riot. Came across it last night as I was looking for something...:)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Quebec autonomy making a splash

"ADQ puts focus on Quebec's autonomy."

And guess who's Dumont's new best friend on the campaign trail?
Mario Dumont's Action démocratique du Québec party is calling for more autonomy for the individual, for the regions and for the province. And despite being called a closet separatist by Premier Jean Charest, Mr. Dumont remains convinced there can be no better place for Quebec to achieve its autonomy than under Prime Minister Stephen Harper's vision of Canada.

"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."
Dumont is running a clever campaign. It's going to become a major problem for Canadians, however, as we're going to see how Stephen Harper and his crew wish to decentralize the federation to accommodate the me-first provincial leaders. They've been deliberately vague on their "open federalism" and what it will practically mean.

And again, wasn't the "Quebec is a nation within Canada" supposed to alleviate the drive for autonomy from Quebecers?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The coming election

More from Garth Turner on the coming nasty election:
But, why are the poll numbers as they are?

The Cons will tell you it’s because PMSH is pursuing an action agenda, showing decisive leadership and (as the new slogan says), getting things done. But opponents point to the Tory failed record to date on the environment, to the Quebec-is-a-nation pandering for votes, to the smears and slagging of opponents, to the income trust broken promise, to the stacking of the courts, the needless same-sex marriage debate and the fact the PM looks and sounds more like a bully than a leader.

Liberals may have lots of excuses for the polls, but you have to admit when the Cons spend a few million dollars on TV, Dion-is-not-a-leader, attack ads, some mud sticks. That was masterfully augmented by the Dion-is-soft-on-terror spin given during the recent terrorism bill debate, and the Dion-can’t-control-his-caucus shtick when free-spirit debating Liberal MPs were compared with robotic Conservative ones.

Whatever. It’s war. This is just a taste of what’s coming. As I told the Liberal strategic gods, this is the campaign you must expect. Stephane Dion may be a thoughtful, academic, cerebral, rational guy who tries hard to see all sides of an issue, but he is now up against a Conservative machine which knows the first rule of politics. Yeah, there are none.
At least there's some recognition within Liberal circles of what to expect. Hopefully they'll be listening and not deluding themselves that taking the high road alone will work.

Friday night video

From last night, if you missed it. A nice way to end the week...:)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Poor little Rick Hillier

Apparently he's met his match in the form of the fearsome Denis Coderre:
"I've been shot at. People have attempted to blow me up. I had a suicide bomber targeted against me when I was the commander in Afghanistan. And I've been called every name in the book, I'm certain," Hillier said. "I don't think I've ever been so insulted as to be called a prop for a political party."
No? Doesn't take much then, does it?

Hillier's comments deserved a swift and firm rebuke. It was inappropriate, to say the least, for the chief of defence staff to be seen as slagging the Liberals for their budgets in the 90's. For him to expect to be able to do so without consequences demonstrates that the General should stick to his military role and stay out of the political arena. We should not be going down the American road where the military is seen to be tacitly siding with the government and the opposition is demonized as being unpatriotic or anti-military. We don't need that at all. Hillier's continued comments along this line, attacking the Liberals, are an outrage.

McCain announces

On Letterman. Ho hum.
“By the way, I’ll be making a formal announcement in April,” Mr. McCain said. By way of explanation, he added: “This is the announcement preceding the formal announcement. You know you drag this out as long as you can. You don’t just have one rendition. You’ve got to do it over and over.”
Right, but you don't bore everyone to death with the fakery of it all. This might have been cute 7 years ago when he was the "straight talker" and all but these days, I don't know if it's just me, but his shtick sounds tired.

And by the way, John, didn't you notice that all the cool kids are announcing on the internets?

Mini Bush's flights of fancy

Attacks the Liberals for $11,000/hour use of government jets during the last federal election. And guess what? Turns out they're wrong. Invoices show operating costs per hour are much less. And when the Conservatives use them now? They pay economy fare to the taxpayers. Accountability's only good for the opposition, hey Steve?

Another line of attack against the Conservatives: they will say anything to get elected irrespective of the facts.

And they'll slip anything at all, no matter how miniscule, to the pliable, "exclusive" seeking CTV these days:

The big scoop tonight? A fund that everyone knew about was being used...I am truly amazed at the investigative powers of the CTV reporters these days...:)