Monday, April 30, 2007

Globe comment threads

I wonder, when perusing these things, whether the political parties have paid staffers tasked with writing comments in order to shape the discussions.

What are they doing with that gigantic Conservative war room with all those computers, anyway...:)

Pious Bush administration embroiled in a hooker scandal

"More names expected from list of 'D.C. Madam'."

So sad when the holy-roller set gets taken down a peg:
After naming some of the high-profile clients to her Washington-based escort service, the so-called 'D.C. Madam' apologized Monday but said more names could soon be revealed.
...
On ABC's Good Morning America, investigative reporter Brian Ross, who broke the story, said there are more high-profile names on the client list. ABC is planning a story on Palfrey on its prime-time news program "20/20" later this week.

"It's a long list, we've been going through the phone records for the last four years provided for us by Jean Palfrey," Ross said Monday. "There are some very prominent people, lobbyists, lawyers, members of the military, other people in the Bush administration."
Yep, that's a real shame...

Harper continues to put the troops out in front

Harper continues to mischaracterize the opposition's questions on the Afghan torture allegations. Here's a quote from him in Question Period today:
"'Unlike the members opposite, we don't automatically assume any allegations made by the Taliban against the Canadian Forces are the unbiased truth,' Harper fired at the opposition."
The "Taliban" are not making allegations against the Canadian Forces, from what I've seen. The allegations are that Afghan prisoners are being tortured in Afghan prisons. Not by Canadian Forces, as Harper's comment suggests.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Justin Trudeau wins

Pierre Elliott Trudeau's son Justin wins bid for Liberal nomination.

Good for him. Put his head down and worked, fought all the naysayers, doomsayers, Jean Lapierres, presumptive stakeholders to the nomination...and won.

Another new politician on the federal scene that makes a lot of people nervous, for all the right reasons.

Take that, James Dobson

Christopher Hitchens publicizes a little known fact about Rove:
"Has anyone in the Bush administration confided in you about being an atheist?
Well, I don’t talk that much to them—maybe people think I do. I know something which is known to few but is not a secret. Karl Rove is not a believer, and he doesn’t shout it from the rooftops, but when asked, he answers quite honestly. I think the way he puts it is, “I’m not fortunate enough to be a person of faith.”"
Think that ever came up during all those conference calls among Rove and religious right leaders coordinating efforts in 2004 to get Bush re-elected? Or during those cozy consultations between Rove and Dobson over Harriet Miers' religion and judicial philosophy?

David Kuo has previously written on the hypocrisy of the Bush administration in matters of religion:
The conversation between Mr. Wilson and Mrs. Viars comes amid publication of another book that perhaps should be required reading for evangelical conservatives: "Tempting Faith." Author David Kuo worked in the White House office for the faith-based social initiatives that were a foundation block of Mr. Bush's 2000 platform. The book recounts his disillusionment with officials, up to the president. On his promotional tour, Mr. Kuo is calling for Christians to "fast" from politics for two years.

From pages 229-230: At the White House, "They know 'the nuts' were politically invaluable, but that was the extent of their usefulness.….National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as 'ridiculous,' 'out of control,' and just plain 'goofy.'"
So Hitchens' tidbit is just further indication of the likely internal White House dynamics Kuo reported.

The piling on to this sunken White House is almost too easy these days.

A missed opportunity

Nick Kristof writes today about talks that occurred between Iran and the U.S. commencing in late 2001 with Iranian cooperation in the Afghanistan effort, and ending, unfortunately, in May of 2003 with a proposal made by Iran that the Bush administration walked away from:
In the master document, Iran talks about ensuring “full transparency” and other measures to assure the U.S. that it will not develop nuclear weapons. Iran offers “active Iranian support for Iraqi stabilization.” Iran also contemplates an end to “any material support to Palestinian opposition groups” while pressuring Hamas “to stop violent actions against civilians within” Israel (though not the occupied territories). Iran would support the transition of Hezbollah to be a “mere political organization within Lebanon” and endorse the Saudi initiative calling for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Iran also demanded a lot, including “mutual respect,” abolition of sanctions, access to peaceful nuclear technology and a U.S. statement that Iran did not belong in the “axis of evil.” Many crucial issues, including verification of Iran’s nuclear program, needed to be hammered out. It’s not clear to me that a grand bargain was reachable, but it was definitely worth pursuing — and still is today.

Instead, Bush administration hard-liners aborted the process. Another round of talks had been scheduled for Geneva, and Ambassador Zarif showed up — but not the U.S. side. That undermined Iranian moderates.

A U.S.-Iranian rapprochement could have saved lives in Iraq, isolated Palestinian terrorists and encouraged civil society groups in Iran. But instead the U.S. hard-liners chose to hammer plowshares into swords.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Funny

Check out Garth Turner's blog for a great photo (from a few days ago)...it's worth it...:)

Late night lazy video blogging



One of my favourite songs from the past few years...seems to have extra resonance this week.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Go Keith go



Olbermann with a rebuke to Giuliani for his fear mongering on terrorism this week. Could be equally applied to our own Conservatives' burgeoning rhetoric on Afghanistan.

Conservative hatorade watch

Today's winner (based on his stellar performance in the House of Commons yesterday): Conservative MP Richard Harris (Cariboo—Prince George).

H/t to Creekside blog for the keen eye.

This guy certainly rocked the Democratic debate last night



Mike Gravel, one of the Democratic candidates for President. Enjoy...:)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mini Bush reaping what he's sown

It is striking how the atmosphere in Ottawa has made a decisive turn for the worse, particularly over the past week. Can't say that I'm surprised though. The Liberals in particular have been primed to take on Harper after he has taunted and attacked Stephane Dion for months in a consistently gloating posture. I mean, give them an opening and there'll be no mercy after the treatment Harper has dished out. He's been terribly short-sighted in so callously disrespecting his political opponents.

Temperament, temperament...what is it we see of political leaders? It's their Achilles heel that will be their eventual undoing. Clinton's, um, gregariousness. Bush's stupidity. Martin's lack of focus.

For Harper, I still can't put my finger on the exact quality, but I think it's fair to say it comes from a deep, dark place within him...:) It could be the need to control. It could be an over-thinking of the strategy. Being too clever by half. The bizarre emotional detachment. The mean streak. Not quite sure yet.

But here's an interesting piece we see today supporting the "control freak" theory. The Harper crowd's propensity to control information seems to be making them trip over themselves:
The common theme, it's being said, is a tendency to dishonest coverup by the Conservative government.

In the Afghanistan case, it's the question of whether the government wilfully tried to conceal information about potential mistreatment of detainees captured by Canadian forces and turned over to Afghan security forces. A report released to the Globe and Mail showed that all references to detainee mistreatment and torture had been blacked out in the version sent to the newspaper. But the Globe also had the full report and was able to fill in the blanks.

This has opposition leaders and critics actually accusing ministers of lying – not once, but repeatedly. Even by the standards of this raucous minority Parliament, that's rare.

Environment Minister John Baird is also being accused of changing his story – not once, but several times – in the aftermath of the embarrassing transmission of his green plans to the opposition lobby of the Commons on Tuesday night. (emphasis added)
All IMHO, of course...:)

The terrorists win if we fire O'Connor

So says an anonymous Republican Conservative spinner on behalf of Mini Bush: "PM stands by O'Connor -- but for the wrong reasons."
Conservative sources told The Globe and Mail yesterday that despite pervasive recognition of Mr. O'Connor's failings, Mr. Harper has no plan to let the Minister go because it could be interpreted as a lack of commitment.

"If it's interpreted as us wavering, or any weakening of resolve that somehow we're on the wrong course, those questions would get asked," a source told The Globe and Mail.

"The Taliban would see it as a positive thing."
Sounds suspiciously close to Bush's rationale for keeping Rumsfeld, doesn't it?

The parallels just keep on coming...:)

Meanwhile, the burned out O'Connor announced an agreement that will enable monitoring of detainees in Kandahar:
"Military officials have made contact with the National Directorate of Security regional director, General Quyaum, for security in Kandahar," Mr. O'Connor said. "He agreed to provide full access to detention facilities. Canadian government officials will establish continuous liaison with the prison authorities for the purpose of verifying the state of detainees."

Under the Geneva Conventions, Canada must ensure that prisoners it transfers to other authorities are not abused, and this agreement for the first time puts Canadian officials in charge of monitoring detainee treatment instead of leaving it to outside organizations.
Well, it's about time, boys. Better make sure it's not full of holes though. The Globe report suggests ways the Afghans will be able to side-step this arrangement by transferring prisoners to other locations or to other Afghan institutions such as police or army. A makeshift solution carved out on the fly would not be a proper resolution to alleged abuses of rights under the Geneva Conventions, now would it?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rosie O'Donnell leaving the View

Report here.

Rosie O'Donnell, for all the flak she's taken from pompous blowhards since joining that show last year, has been courageous in doing her part in restoring some semblance of free speech on American network television. From what I have seen, she's provocative, she's confrontational, she's unique. She challenges the status quo. And she's a democrat.

I applaud her for the past year and her continued effort to speak out against the incompetent and dangerous Bush administration.

Bev Oda organizing a sponsorship extravaganza?

Conservatives filling out questionnaires on sponsorship opportunities in their own ridings. And choosing a most decidedly Republican manner of communicating the information:
"He also wants to know why the memo asks Tories to respond to Oda's personal MP's office e-mail account instead of her government office in the Department of Canadian Heritage."
The parallels just keep on coming...

We're just not that into you, Part Deux

Tory support dives, now in tie with Liberals.

Methinks the turn for the worse in Afghanistan is resonating with Canadians. Mini Bush staying the course in Afghanistan and failing to ensure Geneva Conventions are followed is eerily parallel to certain other goings on in the world, ahem.

And given that this poll was taken Thursday through Saturday of this week, it's likely related to John Baird's fear mongering on the environment as well. Big turnoff.

Torture...fighting with Danny Williams...lies about income trusts...Mini Bush has got something for everyone to be peeved at!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Consider yourself told, Barbara



The unwitting Barbara Bush speaks...:)

Some lighter fare given this weighty day...

Spitzer acting with conviction

Good for him:
The news that Gov. Eliot Spitzer will soon introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriage — what he calls “a simple moral imperative” — is welcome and could give new national momentum to this important cause. Mr. Spitzer would be the first governor in the nation to introduce a gay marriage bill. But if he is going to make a real difference, rather than simply checking off a box to fulfill a campaign promise, he will have to fight for the law vigorously.
...
Mr. Spitzer is right to be fighting for gay marriage. Civil unions and domestic partnerships are an important recognition of gay relationships by a state. But they still represent separate and unequal treatment. One federal study identified more than 1,100 rights or benefits that are accorded only to the legally married. That means that even in states recognizing civil unions and domestic partnerships, gay couples often have to use legal contortions to protect their families in ways that married couples take for granted. Gay couples may also be discriminated against when it comes to taxes and pension benefits.
What a concept...a politician doing the right thing in spite of the odds and the backlash he is liable to incur.

Watch him closely, he's a dying breed.

More trouble for Rove

"The Office of Special Counsel will investigate U.S. attorney firings and other political activities led by Karl Rove."

That's a shame...:)

Have a laugh



On the occasion of the Conservatives' imminent environmental scheme...here's W to tee it up...:)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Karl Rove says Sheryl Crow "insulted" him

Have a big laugh over this one this morning...:)

"She came over to insult me, and she succeeded," said a beleaguered Karl Rove of his encounter with Sheryl Crow on Saturday night.

Yes, that's right. Karl Rove whining that somebody insulted him.

Please.

Let's not insult the thin-skinned delicate genius and destroyer of reputations in-chief. For you see, he can dish it out mightily, but a little face to face accountability? Nope, can't take it. You hurt the poor bastard's feelings, Sheryl.

Someone give this woman a medal, please!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Exciting presidential race in France

It's down to Sarkozy and Royal. The next vote occurs May 6. The next two weeks will be fascinating in France as the focus shifts more intensely to these two candidates:
Aides to both candidates have predicted the second-round campaign will focus on two issues: Can Mr. Sarkozy appeal to centrist voters after a rightward drift during the first-round campaign? And can Ms. Royal win over skeptics who say she isn't fit for the job. "Nicolas will show off his capacity to act and deliver," said Patrick Balkany, a French lawmaker and a longtime friend of Mr. Sarkozy. "He will make Ms. Royal look ridiculous."

Jean-Pierre Chevènement, a former interior minister and an adviser to Ms. Royal said: "These are macho allegations. She has demonstrated that she can be hard-headed and sensitive, all qualities required for a head of state."
The sharpened knives are clearly out! While the betting now seems to favour Sarkozy, the front-runner and candidate of the right, the supporters of all the runoff candidates who've now dropped off will move elsewhere and as the WSJ article notes, there's an element of unpredictability with that. I caught an interview Charlie Rose did with Sarkozy a few months back and was distinctly underwhelmed. But hey, maybe that's just me. What I find truly of interest is the prospect that France could have a woman president for the first time in its history, in a few weeks time.

Karl Rove confronted on global warming

By Laurie David and Sheryl Crow last night at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Karl was "combative," they write, in an animated description of their encounter with the dark side. His rude goodbye to them is telling:
In his attempt to dismiss us, Mr. Rove turned to head toward his table, but as soon as he did so, Sheryl reached out to touch his arm. Karl swung around and spat, "Don't touch me." How hardened and removed from reality must a person be to refuse to be touched by Sheryl Crow? Unphased, Sheryl abruptly responded, "You can't speak to us like that, you work for us." Karl then quipped, "I don't work for you, I work for the American people." To which Sheryl promptly reminded him, "We are the American people."
Those on the right wing of the spectrum certainly are bothered by the topic, aren't they? It's like some pesky, inconvenient issue has been forced upon them by Al Gore and they wish to run as far as they can in the opposite direction. Even when the lovely Sheryl Crow is trying to speak to you. What a shame.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Conservatives' strange environmental strategy

After reading and watching a bit of the coverage on John Baird's performance (make no mistake, it was a performance) before a parliamentary committee yesterday, I've had a few thoughts about what is going on here.

The Conservatives have displayed a shifting attitude in their treatment of environmental issues, as we all know. Mocking the topic for almost their entire first year leading this minority government with a pathetic Environmental Minister at the helm. The contempt was obvious. Faced with growing public concern over the issue and polls substantiating the public's new priority, Harper and the crew have panicked. They put in place a consummate politician with strong communication skills but no environmental credibility. Mouth a few platitudes and we'll be OK goes the strategy.

With this week's turn to fear mongering about the economic impacts of striving to meet the Kyoto targets, it's become clear, however, that at the end of the day, the Conservatives can't be anything but themselves on the environmental file, really. I mean, the environment is not their thing, baby. Mini Bush didn't run for PM to become an environmental crusader. We're still not completely sure what his agenda is, but the environment certainly didn't make his top 10 when plotting his political future.

So while we're still in wait and see mode on their specifics as their public relations campaign paves their way on this file, their opening gambit is not promising.

At a time of great financial strength in our country, we see the Environment Minister decrying Kyoto as the likely cause of a certain recession within a few years if we adhere to its targets. A little dramatic and out of touch with reality? Whose buying this bluster? There may be a few, likely the Conservative base that are buying. But aren't these supposed to be the times when a nation can meet a global challenge? When surpluses abound at the federal level and the GST's even being cut...aren't these indications that we're resilient and capable of planning to meet the big challenges? Aren't these the times when a nation can make a difference on a significant issue? When it has the reserves and buffer to make headway on a pressing issue?

Why are our politicians so reluctant to challenge Canadians to rally to a cause? To ask for sacrifice in support of something bigger than ourselves. Bush was universally condemned for not asking a willing public to sacrifice to fight terrorism after 9/11. For doing so little with the American public's willingness to act in a significant way in response to the threat. If he'd slapped on a gas tax after 9/11 and rallied his nation to get off foreign oil, the public would have gone with him. It's entirely possible that there's a willingness in the Canadian public to be bold on the environment as well. It's a threat that's manifesting itself in our daily lives. The environmental damage is tangible. The National recently did a great job in presenting examples of any number of hot spots around the world exhibiting symptoms of the impact climate change will have. Houses falling off cliffs from beach erosion in England. And we feel tangible effects. The strange weather we witness, the reports of stranded polar bears that are becoming endangered.

We just might give up some of our comforts, the cost of a movie per week or whatever it is for an individual or a family for the sake of making the difference if we're asked to do it and we know what to do to make that difference. The political leadership that exercises the cheap political gimmickry in response to such feelings is going to be wildly off.

It's remarkable too that the Conservatives seem to be throwing in their lot with the nations around the world who are staking out opposition to the Kyoto framework. The U.S., the Australians. The right wing administrations who have been climate change deniers and who won't come to the table for solutions unless they're dragged kicking and screaming. Canadians aren't aligned with Bush's priorities and certainly not his environmental position. So why the Conservatives in Canada would jeopardize themselves politically by so aligning themselves, even if they're not in full climate change denial, is a strange strategy. For yesterdays presentation certainly moves them further into that side of the political spectrum on the environment. It'll be difficult for them to segue back to the positive now.

The psychic talks to angels

Harper's friend is a p.r. nightmare:
It appears taxpayers may be getting a "heavenly" deal when it comes to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's image adviser.

Friends of Michelle Muntean, who maintains Harper's image when he travels, say she claims to commune with angels.

They say the angels relay messages from the dead, and the former TV makeup artist occasionally stuns people with the details.

Harper's office says neither he nor any of the members of his entourage pay for news from the other side.

Rather, Muntean gets a government salary to maintain Harper's wardrobe and image when he's on the road.
Tell people what her salary is and get it over with. Why are they dragging this on? If the taxpayers are paying for it, disclose. End of story. Then it would go away.

This psychic/angel angle makes Harper seem flaky. The optics in keeping her around at this point are terrible...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A professor's view on strange students

For anyone who's taught at a university, this article will strike a chord in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings: "The Killer in the Lecture Hall."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Welcome back, Jean

Making a few appearances, delivering a few zingers in the process to put the partisan yappers to rest:
Meanwhile, former prime minister Jean Chrétien, who brought Dion into politics, yesterday defended his protégé, saying it was not unusual for Liberals to seek alliances with other parties. Chrétien, on CBC Newsworld's Politics show, pointed out that he had wooed former NDP premiers such as Saskatchewan's Roy Romanow and B.C.'s Ujjal Dosanjh to join the Liberals. (Romanow resisted; Dosanjh became a minister.)

Chrétien also noted that Tories didn't put a candidate up against him when he ran in a by-election in New Brunswick in 1990 to get a seat in the Commons. "It was not a big deal," he said.
Chretien's digs make the current crop of pols look like rank amateurs. And he does it with humour, too, mocking the Conservatives for their failure to observe the 25th anniversary of the Charter's adoption:
"[Former Progressive Conservative prime minister John] Diefenbaker was such a proponent of the Charter of Rights," Chrétien said. "I hope they will not put the flag at half-mast [Tuesday] because it will be the anniversary."
Thanks for the reminder of how it's done...:)

And while on the topic of the Charter, a big shout out to another Jean, the Governor General today for her comments on the occasion of the Charter's 25th anniversary. Well said.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Mini Bush enjoying the Liberal infighting

Ray Heard's of interest to them today, not surprisingly:



Better get your act together, Liberals, or Harper's just going to keep poking the hornet's nest.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Harper stacks the deck

Not content with an Auditor General's report that said the previous government's polling practices were "fine," the Conservatives' investigation of the previous Liberal government's polling practices as an election looms within the next year is topped off with the choice of a separatist to run the investigation: "Ex-separatist to head probe into ad contracts." So the separatists and Conservatives can continue to smear the Liberals in the next election campaign with ammunition from a sham investigation into people no longer associated with the current Liberal team.
A former Quebec separatist cabinet minister who played a key role in the 1995 referendum campaign has been hired by the Harper Conservatives to investigate the polling contracts of the previous Liberal government.

The Liberals are calling it a "partisan witch hunt."

And Daniel Paillé, the "independent adviser" hired to conduct the investigation, refused to say yesterday whether he is still a separatist. He told reporters that this is a "private question" and "very personal."

". . . Religious and politics aspects of somebody for me is private," he said.
...
Mr. Paillé served in the very senior and political role of industry minister in Jacques Parizeau's PQ government from 1994 to 1996 -- during the lead-up and aftermath of the 1995 referendum that almost broke up the country.
Playing footsie with the separatists used to be the particular province of Brian Mulroney. Now we get confirmation Harper's playing the same game. An incredible wink at a former separatist cabinet minister here. Not to mention the inherent bias in choosing a blatant partisan to investigate an opposing political party. I mean, why don't you just have Jason Kenney do it?

Just incredible. They didn't even try to mask their intentions. At least it'll be easy to criticize the report as partisan hackery.

Kenneth Starr, anyone?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Conservative hatorade watch

Today's winner: Dave Anderson, executive assistant to Conservative MP, Bruce Stanton.

We can all rest easy now

"Birkhead is father of Anna Nicole's baby."

Not like there are wars going on...or a justice system under attack by rabid Bush partisans...you know, little inconsequential stuff like that.

Please, yes, bring us our breaking news about a celebrity baby's parentage. Whatever could be more important?

Imus implodes



Here's Keith's report on the Imus mess, with his own brief preface on his fellow MSNBCer. Notable for Keith's restraint, I'd say.

Imus' locker room calibre discussions can, not surprisingly, degenerate into moronic and degrading moments, especially for those who are the butt of his barbs. And so he's being called out for it. Good. This is just the tip of the iceberg in American radio, though. There are offenders much worse than Imus out there who have been prospering for years from out and out hate mongering. Rush Limbaugh, anyone?

Your weekly White House scandal courtesy of you know who

Let's see...of late we've had the U.S. attorney firings scandal. Last week we saw the General Services Administration under investigation for allowing government resources to be deployed to help Republicans get elected. And this week, we see this off-shoot of the U.S. attorney purge: "White House unofficial e-mail accounts draw scrutiny."

This latest White House transgression involves allegations that the Bush White House has been avoiding the Presidential Records Act by using outside e-mail domains for, shall we say, controversial communications. The e-mail domains appear to be hosted by the Republican National Committee.

Now of course, they're pleading defence number 1. The Clinton people did it. But a former Clinton White House chief of staff says, no, I don't think so. Podesta commented, for the article:
"It doesn't appear that they were doing what we did, which was to segregate political activity from official activity," he said.
The Bush White House has apparently been using those external e-mail sources for official business.
Congressional investigators say they found communications on one account from top White House aides about official matters, like the December firings of eight U.S. attorneys.

Those e-mails were discovered on a Republican National Committee e-mail domain called gwb43.com. That domain is not part of the official White House communication system.

The Presidential Records Act, passed during the Nixon administration, requires the preservation of all official records of and about the president.
Devious little buggers, aren't they? Why leave records of their activities on government servers, when they can just safely lock them up at the good 'ole RNC? Beeg problem they didn't count on though. Chairman Henry Waxman is all over this.

And if you're wondering who might have ordered all of this "skirting" of official channels of communication...seems Karl Rove is quite concerned about Presidential records these days. Getting personally involved in how W's records will be all splayed out.

Coincidence?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Have a laugh



It's Monday after all...so check out the young conservatives against the environment...:) Nicely done. This is hilarious.

That SES poll

Mini Bush at 36%. Still. Liberals at 33%.

As I've said before, we're just not that into Harper, it's been apparent for quite some time now and the leading pollsters seem to be confirming this for us.

Could it have anything to do with the fact that a certain fellow conservative's government is imploding before our eyes? A certain someone to our south whose administration's daily foibles are widely broadcast to the Canadian public?

It just might be...

Play nicely out there

Article in the NY Times today about civility in the blogosphere and an effort to create a bloggers code of conduct: "A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter



Watch out for this guy today...:)

Stunning repercussion from McCain's Baghdad walkabout

Frank Rich picks up on a shocking report in his column today which is critical of John McCain's photo-op stroll in a Baghdad market last week, "Sunday in the Market With McCain." Rich cites this report:
The day after Mr. McCain’s stroll, The Times of London reported that 21 of the Shorja market’s merchants and workers were ambushed and murdered.
The link to the Times of London story is here. If this is indeed true, John McCain's foolish stroll to support his political position on the war and the recent "surge" was, as Rich puts it, truly indefensible.

Wow.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The sliming of Speaker Pelosi

Like many, I have been watching Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to the Middle East this week and the reaction to it. It has devolved into a case study in Republican smear operations. A typical partisan shout-fest, with the shouting and howls courtesy of Bush's Republican media noise machine, of course. I'm sure Sandra Buckler's minions watched and learned as the week progressed, eager to so use their own brand new war-room digs.

Leading the charge against Pelosi was Dick Cheney, who trashed Pelosi on - where else - Rush Limbaugh's show yesterday:



"Bad behaviour" condescended the wrong-on-every-count Cheney of Pelosi's visit to Syria. All the while quietly acquiescing to Republican members visiting Syria and failing to publicly condemn them for their behaviour. One can only surmise that Cheney is still being used to ensure that Bush's remaining 30% of support doesn't crumble as Bush becomes less and less relevant. Who else would believe Cheney's judgmental attacks on Pelosi? Witness the report yesterday providing definitive confirmation that Cheney's perpetual linking of Al-Qaeda to Iraq as a justification for that war was and is off. Way off. Yet he continues to mislead on the point, as recently as Friday.

The hypocrisy of the attack on Pelosi for daring to speak with American enemies was challenged nevertheless, by columnists such as Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post who roundly criticized his own editorial page for its Pelosi smackdown. And Keith Olbermann stepped up (see video above) to question why his nation should forego the opportunity of speaking to hostile nations. Speaking with American enemies, Keith's report informs, has been advocated by some within the Bush administration including Condoleezza Rice's recent statement regarding speaking with Iran and Bush's own tacit support for Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson's impending visit to North Korea.

Pelosi, for her part, fought back immediately and appropriately against the onslaught. And she did it with a sureness and serenity that continue to win this blogger's plaudits. Here are a few of her statements on the brouhaha:
“We understand our responsibilities when we leave the country,” Ms. Pelosi said. “On all the issues, it was a very direct message, very consistent with the Bush administration’s message.” She said her message “was not always the one everyone wanted to hear.”

“I come back thinking, all right, we will get through their tantrum,” Ms. Pelosi said, in a reference to the administration, “but the fact is, we accomplished what we set out to do. I think we improved the understanding among the different parties.”
Her characterization of their attacks on her as being the equivalent of a "tantrum" strikes the same note as her plea for Bush to "calm down" just over a week ago. It immediately diffuses the emotion and marginalizes the criticism. She's quite good at it. (This is what we need to see more of from Stephane Dion.)

The force with which the right wing came at Pelosi is a reminder of the viciousness of the conservative noise operation which still launches assaults in such a concerted manner. The Limbaughs, Hannitys, RNC and Bush administration officials all work together to propel the slime operation. The attacks no longer go unchallenged, but they remain an awesome force of public relations, ready to go so far as to portray the Speaker of the House as unpatriotic, dangerous and disloyal. It's truly amazing to witness how far the foot soldiers will still go in Bush's name when the guy is pushing 30% in the approval ratings.

And quite unfortunately, we've got the same dynamic shaping up in Canada as we witness the unveiling of Mini Bush's war room this week with its state of the art media capabilities - including television studios where attack ads are proudly displayed. The priority given to such negative modes of attack by Harper's crew is a distinct echo of the Republican media offensive undertaken against any opponent who suddenly catches fire in the public mind.

Speaker Pelosi stealing Bush's spotlight as he increasingly becomes irrelevant? See above. John Kerry and John Edwards leading Bush after the Democratic convention in 2004? Launch a terror alert. Stephane Dion inspiring Canadians after his election as leader in December 2006? Launch a series of negative ads. A fellow conservative Premier impugning Harper? Crush him like a bug without any regard to statesmanship.

The Harper gang seems bent on emulating the tactics of an administration so obviously on the decline.

Far be it from me to interfere...

Friday, April 06, 2007

Rove sought for questioning, again

And a big shout out today to Chairman Henry Waxman, keeping the heat on the slippery one: "Karl Rove and the GSA."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

It's all about Mini Bush

I agree with Garth on public sentiment surrounding an election call (except for the Shakira part - substitute George Clooney please):
An election in 2007 is pointless, needlessly expensive, unjustified and probably dangerous. The electorate is in no mood to give a majority to anybody, and volatile enough to create any outcome. Both Harper and Dion (not to mention poor Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe) are treading on shaky political ground at this point in their careers as leaders by jumping into this maelstrom, and a third general election in three years just reinforces the flakiness of our ruling class to the rest of the world.

Would I rather spend my time on legislation than raising money? Is Shakira hot?

Anyway, it’s coming. And when it gets here I truly hope Canadians understand and remember that the election of Spring, 2007, was a monument to one man’s burning ambition. Stephen Harper wants it. He can taste it. All that remains is for him to reach out, extend a finger, and impart it life. (emphasis added)
That latter sentiment is particularly obvious given Harper's public utterances yesterday and the vigour with which he's pursuing his attacks on opponents. "One man's burning ambition..." - love it!

Rove meets the public - and it ain't pretty



Brief and fuzzy video but gives you a sense of the intensity of the crowd that showed up to heckle Rove. More here, a local news report: Karl Rove runs into some protesters.

Good for them.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

One of Mini Bush's MP's makes a mockery of a public meeting: video



Kudos to the intrepid videographer.

Supposed "Open House" in the Okanagan riding to meet with local MP, Ron Cannan...but, surprise! Conservatives only! Let there be no dissent in Stephen Harper's Canada!

How dare anyone take video of a Conservative member's Open House? When Harper's crew has Dion being followed?

The propensity to muzzle, the need to control...vivid recurring motifs in the Harper government's modus operandi.

Ask former Sen. George Allen about the power of YouTube ads

Lots of wingers mocking this today: "Liberals turn to YouTube to counter Tory attack ads."

Macaca, anyone? Or how about ParkRidge47's Big Brother creation?

Nah...can't possibly have any impact, can it...:)

John McCain has lost it

What a sad, sad spectacle: "McCain Wrong on Iraq Security, Merchants Say."

A great decision for the environment

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday slapped back the Bush administration's refusal to allow its EPA to regulate auto emissions: "Justices Say E.P.A. Has Power to Act on Harmful Gases."
In one of its most important environmental decisions in years, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate heat-trapping gases in automobile emissions. The court further ruled that the agency could not sidestep its authority to regulate the greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change unless it could provide a scientific basis for its refusal.

The 5-to-4 decision was a strong rebuke to the Bush administration, which has maintained that it does not have the right to regulate carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases under the Clean Air Act, and that even if it did, it would not use the authority. The ruling does not force the environmental agency to regulate auto emissions, but it would almost certainly face further legal action if it failed to do so.

Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said the only way the agency could “avoid taking further action” now was “if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change” or provides a good explanation why it cannot or will not find out whether they do.
A few notes on the decision...Bush's appointments dissented, of course. Otherwise, there's widespread acclaim for the decision. Including this Republican:
“I am very encouraged by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today that greenhouse gases are pollutants and should be regulated by the federal government,” said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican. “We expect the U.S. E.P.A. to move quickly now in granting our request for a waiver.”
And once again, the 5-4 split in this decision is quite the timely reminder of just how significant that next presidential appointment will be to this court...

Monday, April 02, 2007

About Harper's hidden agenda...

He keeps it hidden for good reason. Today we see a report in the Globe indicating that the Conservatives drafted a law on religious rights and gay marriage in the run up to the disgraceful gay marriage vote. The records obtained by the Globe through a freedom of information request are virtually all blacked out due to a claim of privilege, i.e., legal advice to the Minister. The Globe, however, reminds us of what the likely content of the law would have been:
The Globe and Mail reported last October that the government was planning legislation that would allow public officials, such as justices of the peace, to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

The Globe also reported that the measures were intended to protect the free-speech rights of religious leaders and others who criticize homosexual behaviour. The report was based on confidential sources and a partial confirmation from then-justice minister Vic Toews.
While the text of the law that the Conservatives were working on remains shrouded, we do get a revealing glimpse of the inputs valued by Mini Bush and his crew. There's a very interesting set of facts here, in the form of the reference materials that the Justice Department senior counsel had in her possession while working on this legislation:
The documents show Lisa Hitch, the Justice Department's senior counsel, held a meeting last September to discuss the existing protections for religious freedoms contained in the Civil Marriage Act passed in 2005 under the Liberals.

She also sent e-mails to her colleagues titled "Possible amendment to the Criminal Code."

Ms. Hitch's reference materials included a private member's bill on religious freedom, since defeated in the Alberta legislature, from Conservative MPP Ted Morton, with links to socially conservative websites such as campaignlifecoalition.com; lifesite.net; evangelicalfellowship.com and a website that does not currently work called "http://www.thescaryliberals.com/blog." (emphasis added)
Now that's an interesting set of materials for the senior counsel at the Justice Department to be perusing...:)

The dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board

I'm not well-versed on this issue...but my spider sense is telling me there's trouble that's bound to occur as a result of the plebiscite held last week on the future of the Canadian Wheat Board. It's either going to be legal or political in nature. See editorials here: Tories sinking to new depths on barley and here: Is CWB vote beginning of the end? There appear to be serious questions about the clarity of the 3 options given to farmers to choose from on the ballot, the meaning of the results and a raft of questions about the integrity of the process. It sounds like a mess of a process that is ripe for a legal challenge.

There are political implications in play as well, it seems to me, with the Conservatives appearing to be going to great lengths to dismantle a Canadian institution that by most accounts has served farmers well and provided them with stability in the market.

Am I missing something, or is this a clear case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it?"

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The final word on Elizabeth Edwards' choice

Frank Rich has a sensible take on the Edwards' challenge, in the wake of her recurring cancer, in "Elizabeth Edwards for President."
Whatever Mr. Edwards’s flaws as a candidate turn out to be, he is not guilty of the most persistent charge leveled since his wife’s diagnosis. As Ms. Couric phrased it, “Even those who may be very empathetic to what you all are facing might question your ability to run the country at the same time you’re dealing with a major health crisis in your family.”

Would it be better if he instead ran the country at the same time he was clearing brush on a ranch? Polio informed rather than crippled the leadership of F.D.R.; Lincoln endured the sickness and death of a beloved 11-year-old son during the Civil War. In the wake of our congenitally insulated incumbent, who has given our troops neither proper armor nor medical care and tried to hide their coffins off camera, surely it can only be a blessing to have a president, whether Mr. Edwards or someone else, who knows intimately what it means to cope daily with the threat of mortality. It’s hard to imagine such a president smiting stem-cell research or skipping the funerals of the fallen.

Indeed, of all the reasons to applaud Elizabeth Edwards’s decision to stay in politics, the most important may be her insistence, by her very action, that we not compartmentalize the harsh reality of death and the imperatives of public policy, both at home and at war. Let the real conversation begin.
Yep, Rich usually gets it about right.

Mini Bush: commander in chief of the snowmobile brigades

One of Mini Bush's avowed priorities - undoubtedly egged on by his ear whispering pal, one Brian Mulroney - has been to assert sovereignty over the Arctic. And so it appears he has ordered our brave soldiers onto their snowmobiles and off into the great white north to do us proud and plant our flag.
The idea, said Bergeron, is to demonstrate to the world that the Canadian military is capable of operating on sea ice and land that Canada claims for its own.
So how's it going?
A week ago, on the first day of their 8,000-kilometre patrol across and around Ellesmere Island, the 24 soldiers and Inuit Rangers lost two of their snowmobiles and all of their supply-laden komatiks, or sleds.
Well that should do wonders for our brute show of military might in the Arctic, hey? I mean, come on! They managed to fix their equipment and sleds...and I'm not mocking the poor frozen bastards out on snow patrol...but somehow, this "unprecedented snowmobile trek to enforce Canadian sovereignty" just seems a tad futile. If the Americans want to challenge sovereignty in the Arctic passage, particularly given that there's oil rumoured to be up there...I really don't think a few snowmobile patrols are going to do the trick. In this day and age, Canada is going to have to do better than these kinds of escapades.

Remember...you can question the mission without attacking the snowmobilers...:)