Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Busted!

F!*

*link plagiarised from Kinsella and folks on Facebook.

UPDATE:

Owen Lippert, the guy who "wrote" Harper's speech is a PhD who is ex-Fraser Institute, ex-editorial board of the Globe and Mail.

He also offered himself up as a Progressive Conservative candidate in 1988.

He's also author of this paper, "Competitive Strategies for Intellectual Properties".

I don't know why people plagiarise. I've caught students doing it and I've seen people I thought were great reporters lose their careers for doing it. I feel sorry for Lippert, who resigned today for giving Harper the plagiarised speech. Here's a guy with a lot of brains and quite a good career, and now he's screwed.
As for the political impact on Harper: nil. Someone gave him a plagiarised speech. He can act the wounded consumer, the betrayed leader. He'd only be in trouble if he claimed to have written it himself.
Some people might be reminded Harper was willing to follow Bush into war in Iraq. But that's a "might have been".
And it's not a career killer. Ask Joe Biden.
Still, it probably puts some spring in the step of the Libs and Dippers.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Let's see the cash first

I've been following the credit meltdown for well over a year, and it's played out the way I expected. Today is sickening. Thank God so few people know any history or have any idea where this thing is going.
It's particularly strange to teach university students who don't have any recollection of recessions. Most of the weren't even born during the recession of the early 1980s.
This one is going to be far worse. The 1980s recession was a contraction of manufacturing. This is a total vapor-lock of credit. This hasn't happened since 1929 and we haven't seen bank failures like this since the winter of 1932-1933, when, at least, a bank relief bill made it through Congress with bi-partisan support. I can't imagine what would have happened in 1933 without the Reconstruction Finance Corp. and the federal re-organization of banking. Unless Congress acts, I fear we will find out.
As for Canada, we're doing exactly what we did in 1929: pretend the downturn will be kept to the States. In early 1930, the Toronto Star sent Parliamentary reporter Wilfrid Eggleston across the States to write about the lousy conditions down there and, by comparison, praise William Lyon Mackenzie King's policies. That didn't save King in the 1930 election campaign. And by the end of 1930, we were worse off than the Americans (but our banks did survive the storm of 1932-1933, when banks collapsed across the States, money disappeared from circulation in America, and people resorted to barter and municipal scrip until a deal was reached between the outgoing Hoover administration, the incoming Roosevelt team, Congress and the banks.
As I said above, today's politicians don't have it in them to work for the betterment of the economy. And, if anything, this collapse is worse. The 1932 collapse began when individual savers pulled their funds from regional banks. It was solved by getting cash to those banks so people would have faith in them and return their savings). Our exports were killed by American tariffs, cheap Soviet wheat came on the market, and pay cuts ruined the purchasing power of those who had jobs.
There's a myth that the war ended the Depression, when, in fact, the economy grew fairly steadily from 1934 until 1939. Without the war, the economy probably would have recovered by the early to mid 1940s, and much faster if there had been a concerted effort to end trade barriers.
Now, banks are not only afraid to lend to businesses and individuals, they're afraid to lend to each other for fear they will lose their money. Quite simply, trade and investment cannot function without this credit.
If you want to know what I think of this mess, read through the blog. It's all here, beginning last August. What's the way out? Well, a lot of people are going to offer a lot of ideas over the next few years. Some of them will be pretty scary as people look for easy answers.
First, we'll have to absorb and work off the losses. A lot of people are going to end up as debt slaves, since American bankruptcy laws were changed by the Bush administration to prevent the types of walk-aways that we have in Canada. House prices are going to have to drop to a level in which it makes sense for the average family to buy.
They way out involves a shift in how we do business and politics. It involves investment in real productivity, not in paper assets. It also involves seeing business differently, especially in the way quarterly results are so over-emphasized. That, much more than anything, has resulted in the drying up of real physical investment.
Many companies will need to be de-leveraged. Eventually, this will be good for the media as it emerges from the debt heaped upon it by the various buy-outs and asset sales of the last twenty years.
But the only real way out is to invest in communities, especially in manufacturing. Quite simply, we don't make anything. We don't process our natural resources. We've become a nation of hole diggers and paper-pushers. We don't even hew wood anymore.
It's the same in the States.

But I am too whacked from watching the day unfold (and lecturing for two hours) to deal with this.

So, instead, I'll mock this guy. I don't think he has more than 4 trillion pounds at his disposal. As for proving evolution, it's fairly easy, to anyone with an open mind.
In fact, it's easy as hell to disprove Noah's Flood as the cause of the deposition of continental sedimentary rocks, but that isn't the bet.


HT to Norman Spector for the link.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Right Stuff

When I was a kid living in Toronto and Steve Harper was pulling his little red wagon around my neighbourhood delivering the Toronto Star, I was enthralled by the space race. I remember the brief Mercury flights, the Gemini series and the Appolo missions. Those were such heady days: three day-missions launched by giant versions of the V-2, astronauts in bug-head space suits poking their heads out to begin brief, dangerous space walks. Then the heroic return.
I'm glad those days are back.
I'm sure I can find my plastic transistor radio around here somewhere.

Friday, September 26, 2008

George Radwanski Will Walk

For two weeks, a judge has heard how the Privacy Commission was a disorganized snakepit when George Radwanski took over. Saddled with a mess-in-progress, Radwanski was also handed all the problems that came with the new Privacy Act and, within a few months, 9-11.
The most troubling of the charges, that Radwanski was involved in a kiting fraud, was given a backhand today by the trial judge. The more minor charge, that Radwanski padded his expenses, had pretty much fallen apart during the trial.
Today's question: was Radwanski screwed by the RCMP for his opposition to closed-circuit cameras in cities and his criticism of the anti-terrorism law? Did the RCMP pull a Maher Arar on the privacy commissioner by feeding dirt on him to the press?

Sep 26, 2008 05:44 PM
Tim Naumetz
THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA–Former privacy commissioner George Radwanski's fraud trial ended today with the presiding judge questioning key points the prosecutor attempted to make as he wrapped up the Crown case.

Justice Paul Belanger of the Ontario Court of Justice told Crown attorney Robert Wadden a key part of his case against Radwanski was a "red herring."

Belanger also indicated acceptable standards and federal policy for public servants extending hospitality at the expense of taxpayers will play a crucial role in his eventual decision.

He questioned at one point whether Wadden could demonstrate that regular weekly lunches Radwanski wrote off as hospitality for working sessions with a top aide were not held for "legitimate business."

Belanger also implied on two occasions that witnesses who could have bolstered the Crown case had not been called, including a former manager in the privacy office and other public servants who might have testified about hospitality practices in the government at large.

The charges centre on thousands of dollars in hospitality expenses Radwanski billed the government for the lunches with Donna Vallieres, his director of communications, policy and research, a $15,000 travel advance Radwanski kept outstanding for more than a year and $16,000 in cash he took out in unearned vacation leave.

Belanger made the "red herring" comment as Wadden was turning his attention to a loan Radwanski obtained from his former chief of staff during a bookkeeping transaction that involved the travel advance. Radwanski took out the advance in May 2002 to pay down his American Express government travel card.

Chief of staff Art Lamarche, also charged with fraud and breach of trust, loaned Radwanski that amount in March 2003, allowing Radwanski to pay down the due advance before the end of the fiscal year. Radwanski took out another $15,000 advance the next month to repay Lamarche.

Radwanski has testified he believed someone in the office made an accounting error over his reimbursements and claims for earlier travel, and he did not intend to pay the advance down until he received a formal accounting of his past claims, expenses and reimbursements.

Wadden was attempting to establish the loan from Lamarche was a key part of the fraud charges against the pair when Belanger essentially brushed the argument aside.

"I think it's a red herring," he told Wadden, adding Radwanski could have borrowed the money from his "mother-in-law." Belanger added he did not put "very much weight on it."

Wadden acknowledged the loan might be "somewhat of a side issue" but countered that the transaction meant both Lamarche and Radwanski had a personal financial interest in Lamarche authorizing the second advance.

The Crown prosecutor forged ahead, arguing the travel advance itself was a fraudulent act because it was not intended for travel even though the form Radwanski and Lamarche used to obtain it was specifically intended for public servants to take out travel advances for planned trips.

"It's actually a fraudulent act," said Wadden. "It's using a travel advance when there is no indication of using it for travel."

Radwanski's lawyer, Michael Crystal, earlier pointed to evidence that showed virtually everyone in the upper echelons of the privacy office was aware what the initial advance was for, while the advance itself contained only one explanatory line, which was a reference to the outstanding Amex card.

Wadden noted the loan Lamarche advanced to Radwanski was repaid through the second advance, which Lamarche authorized, and in that way he stood to benefit personally from the advance.

Lamarche's lawyer, Norman Boxall, argued that throughout all the transactions, his client was responding to Radwanski's instructions and dealing with others in the office on Radwanski's behalf.

When Belanger questioned whether Radwanski and Vallieres might have been legitimately working over their weekly lunches, Wadden replied: "You simply can't do it that often."

Belanger rejoined: "Error in judgment, but fraud, breach of trust?"

Evidence in the trial included government policy that allows senior public servants to extend hospitality to staff for work over mealtimes. But one of the questions facing Belanger is whether Radwanski abused the policy compared with others in the government in similar positions.

Wadden acknowledged the rules allow working lunches, but he said ``for a full year, year after year?"

Belanger said he would require transcripts of the testimony to weigh the evidence and would not have a verdict until November.

The Bailout: RIP

Oil shale development. Food stamps. Mortgage relief.
Politics is quickly vapour-locking any chance of a Wall Street bailout.
The Democrats are willing to bail out the street if they get a few bones for the poor. Bush says he'll veto that.
Bush wants oil shale development, which has nothing to do with the economic stimulus or the bail-out. It would be one more little present for his oil company pals (though it may also be a good idea for energy security).
The House Republicans oppose any government money for bail-outs.
A big hint that the bailout is dead will come if/when the ban on short selling is extended. It's due to expire Oct. 2.

Iran's New Nazis

Guilt for the Holocaust is something that burdens all of the countries of the West. While Hitler oppressed Jews and other "undesirables," then mechanized and industrialized genocide, all of the countries of the West appeased him, stayed neutral, and, when war finally came, did nothing to try to destroy the infrastructure of the death camp system. Countries like Canada refused to hear the pleas of the Jews and gave no "refugee status" to the many thousands who might have escaped.
So when Iranian "students" mock the Holocaust and advocate genocide, I feel very angry and quite nauseous.
Iran wants to be treated as a civilized country. I don't see why it should be when, if freed from international constraints it would work toward another attempt at exterminating the Jews.
I can imagine how the elites of Europe and the Mideast would feel if some government encouraged or even tolerated groups that publicly or privately advocated the extermination of Muslims.

My August 14, 2007 Post

The tightening of credit is about to shake the Canadian economy -- and Canadian journalism -- to its core.
Remember this, folks: there are only a handful of Canadian media companies that are not over-leveraged and saddled with crippling levels of sub-prime debt. TorStar and the Halifax Herald are OK. GlobeMedia, with Thomson's deep pockets, will also make it, though it will be dismantled into its constituent parts. CanWest survives on junk bonds. (Let's see if the Alliance-Atlantis/CanWest deal closes, as scheduled, tomorrow.) My bet: CanWest will be liquidated, its papers and TV assets sold off at below debt value. Quebecor is also over-leveraged and its media properties are, in the main, garbage. It, too, will be broken up. Ted Rogers once said that he doesn't worry about his debt, his bankers do. Well, everyone's worried now. "Convergence" is over, and a lot of media people are in very big trouble.

This problem will be spread through Canadian business. How heavily leveraged is Onex? Magna? CP? Will the Alcan deal go through? What about the dozens of other major deals built on the back of easy money? Leveraged buy-out and asset stripping is a pyramid scheme. No one can keep it going forever. Ask Conrad Black.


Sept. 25, 2008

I still believe this is how the credit crisis will play out in Canada, The banks are the big dominos. There are many small ones.
That's not what I hope. It is, unfortunately, what I expect.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My gut still says a Tory majority

The general consesus among the punditry is that these Harris-Decima numbers are way off, that the Tories are not up 15 points over the Liberals. I suspect, though, these may turn out to be rather prophetic numbers.
Dion has been defined by the Tories. The public truly does see him as a wimp.
Ignatief might have won this election. Rae would have been creamed, tarred, sometimes unfairly, with all the crap the Tories could dig up from Rae's term in office. He would have got the last laugh, though, since there's no way the Harper "team" has the depth needed to handle this recession.
The election of 2012 will put the Liberals back in power. In some ways, they should be glad they're losing.
As for an NDP-Liberal coalition, the only way that can happen is if the Dippers and Liberals hold all the seats they have and the Bloc loses seats only to the Liberals or NDP, or if the Tories lose a whack of seats to the NDP. Otherwise, it's mathematically impossible. The tories won't lose seats in this election, and if the Bloc does lose some seats, it won't be to Dion and Layton.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

And I had $100 riding on this guy to win

Tory candidate in Bob Rea's riding quits, saying he couldn't commit four years to public service.
Actually, it seems he wanted us al to become like Bernhard Goetz. Bigcitylib, one of this blog's more welcome visitors, has dug up the web caches of Reid's more interesting offerings.
Reid opposes medicare and the Canada Health Act. He thinks things might have gone differentkly for the poor chappie decapitated last summer in the country's first documented case of bus rage if the other passengers and the driver had been packing heat. Yup, it might have: the psycho might have got into a gunfight with the other passengers. Big improvement, that.

UPDATE
Emboldened by Reid's departure from the political stage, bus rage psychos continue to attack Greyhound passengers.

Don't vote for smart people... vote for conservatives.

Woodrow Wilson, Pierre Trudeau, Indiana Jones, Jack Ryan... I remember a time when "professor" was a respected line of work.We only elect stupid people, or, like the incumbent PM, people too academically unqualified to be professors in their disciplines.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Giving the fox the keys to the chicken coop.

The Bush idjuts want Wall Street to manage the $700 billion fund that will be used to bail out Wall Street's mortgage mess.
Why not just toss them the keys to the money printing plant?
Buy gold.

Clock is ticking at the Ottawa Citizen

The union representing editorial employees is recommending rejection of the Citizen's "final" contract offer tomorrow.
Canwest is offering 2.5%, 2%, 2%, 2% and 2.5% over five years. That's a long contract, and if inflation goes back to the 1980s recession rate of 12%, Citizen staffers would lose more than half of the buying power of their salaries over the life of the deal. With the economy so shaky, they'd be foolish to take anything more than a three-year deal.
Here's what they make now (PDF file).


UPDATE
Ignoring the union's recommendation, the Petfinder journos voted to take the offer.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ever play frogger?

That's the video game where you have a little green frog trying to cross the road, and he has to dodge the wheels of passing cars... then he gets to a river and he jumps from log to log as the logs sink, trying not to be drowned.
I heard someone saw a Stornoway gardener walking to the far end of the backyard with a shovel, a .22 and Kyoto the dog.

John Ralston Saul, dipshit

Official Ottawa -- the Hill, the bureaucracy, and especially the military, was so glad to see the last of His Excellency John Ralston Saul, the blowhard public intellectual and, in Paul Gessell's brilliant phrasing, "pop philosopher". Saul, to be blunt, was an asshole whose sense of entitlement was only surpassed by that of his wife. Saul has never produced a book that was readable or coherent. He hates yankees, which makes him popular in France. He throws the names of real philosophers around, the way Trudeau did, so stupid people would think he's smart. He's not. He's just really pretentious.
He wasn't just a consumer of the fabulous perks that come with Rideau Hall. He interfered in anything he could, pestering official Ottawa with his unwanted advice. He was hell to work with in Ottawa and torture to travel with, always demanding deference when none was due. His greatest moment came when, while Canadian veterans were celebrating their role in the liberation of the Netherlands, he demanded to be allowed into a private interview between Adrienne and the Queen of Holland and the Dutch told him to get stuffed.
There was no majestic arse that he would not creep. His wife was a token appointment, someone who spoke well but had really done nothing more than interview people on the CBC and do voice-overs of other people's documentaries.
It takes near-unmeasurable levels of gall to accuse Ottawa of a "colonial mentality" when you spent six years latched to the public teet as the spouse of Her Majesty's representative in Canada. The darling couple still collect Her Majesty's shilling, cashing those vice-regal pension cheques every month.
Yes, Ottawa public servants mistake timidity for professionalism. Ottawa is not a great capital. It could be, but people like Saul who pass through the place tend to leave nothing behind but a bad smell. Ottawa is a city where outsiders and transients make the decisions about the city's future. How, then, could it ever be great?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Big Brother is Googling You

Google, which already essentially steals the work of journalists, is now out undercut newspaper on-line ad sales. The association representing the world's major papers wants anti-trust investigations of Google's actions. That might fly in the EU, but it won't get anywhere in the States. And in Canada? Don't make me laugh. This is a country whose regulators say there's no proof of collusion in the gasoline industry.

Marion Dewar

The death today of former Ottawa mayor Marion Dewar comes as very sad news. Dewar epitomised the best of what a political figure could be.

My sincere condolences to Paul, Julia and Marion's grandchildren.

Yes, there was a massive hurricane...

but at least we got free coconuts.
CNBC's reporting 1,000 US banks could fail in the next few months. But in the happy-talk land of TV financial journalism, that's great news. It's a buying opportunity.
But the depositors, the deposit insurers, the public, the bond holders, foreign governments, whaddywecare?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Analysis of the Campaign Coverage

A few things to keep in mind as you read, watch or listen to the reporting of Campaign 2008: the cost of punditry is much lower than the cost of reporting. I see many, many, many column inches and broadcast hours devoted to opinion, but not many boots on the ground. It costs tens of thousands of dollars to have one reporter on a campaign plane. Just the airfare can be upwards of $20,000. Add to that the reporter's regular salary, big whacks of overtime, and out-of-pocket expenses, and the news budget takes a big hit. There are three national parties, the Bloc and the Greens to cover.
Then there's the fact that the pool of seasoned political reporters is not only much smaller than it was two decades ago, it's much older and less inclined in engage in adventure. Therefore, most of the leaders are covered by reporters who really don't know much about the workings of the federal government. This results in the over-reporting of polls, gaffes, and other superficial material.
The Canadian journalism elite is now run by ad sellers and marketers and has no real understanding of national politics or interest in it. Therefore, by its logic, neither do you. The people who will write and say the campaign is "boring" are invariably those who do little travelling, rarely talk to regular Canadians, and live inside a bubble in which they are protected -- for now -- against most of the problems faced by ordinary Canadians.
A surprising number of national pundits have no sources in the regions and can't speak French. They write from downtown Ottawa or downtown Toronto and are divorced from the realities of those who live in less prestigious places and make less than $100,000 a year.
To cover a campaign well, you have to put reporters into key ridings for more than an afternoon. You have to pry them off the phone and send them across the country.
But that's not the way this campaign will be covered. There are at least five polls a week, giving the pundits more than enough to chew on. There have been a few small gaffes and screw-ups, all of which were cheap to cover and comment upon.
It's also easy -- and common -- for some of the country's largest news organizations to simply cover the "style" of the leaders as they campaign, to the point where pundits are simply expounding upon what's broadcast on Newsworld and Newsnet. Many of the pundits have not actually seen the leaders in the flesh.
As for individual races, on-the-ground work by political parties, cabinet ministers, front-bench Opposition MPs... well, that kind of coverage costs money.
Canadian media has always been happy if they get the same stories everyone else has. In fact, many editors are suspicious of material discovered by their own reporters and are only re-assured when they see it elsewhere. I found that was the case in my World War II censorship research, and I've seen through my own career that not much has changed.
And the pundits invariably have their own agendas, which news outlets allow them to hide. Quite often, the agendas involve the most blatant conflicts of interest, with pundits being rewarded for biased coverage that will pay off in consulting work, polling contracts, and jobs.
Some of those jobs may well be landed by political journalists. I'd say about half the reporters I knew in the Press Gallery 15 years ago now have great jobs in the federal bureaucracy. Most were hired under the Liberals.
Another large contingent of ex-journalists work in the Liberal Party and NDP research office.
Not many Gallery people became Tory flaks. Instead, the Tories mostly hired little weasels from the boonies, young men with no education or experience who would do anything to advance the party. This is paying off big-time, I see.
Real investigative reporting has probably ceased for the duration. Now the campaign is a battle of ad agencies, some analysis of the leaders' debate, and a lot of garbage about sweaters.

Pray your kitty does not stray

The Canadian Association of Journalists apparently has learned Ottawa Citizen staff have voted 83% in favor of a strike.
My money is on some kind of settlement, but if the Petfinder people do go out, they can expect little mercy from the Graspers.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Today's Media Semi-Dishonesty

Slate Magazine doesn't tell you the author of this anti-Harper article used to be a speechwriter for Stephane Dion.
I guess there wasn't room or something.


Oops. It is there. At my age, I can't read 4 point type.
See if you can find it.

Obama = toast

It's not what I wanted to see. Nothing would have been more exciting and entertaining than having Obama in the White House, and, while we're at it, Al Franken as Senate Majority Leader. Obama is smart, dynamic, and wants to expunge some of the neo-Con excesses of the past 28 years. If he had a Congress behind it, it would be a revolution.
Alas, this is not to be. Gallup shows a close race, but McCain's numbers, even after two weeks of solid Palin-bashing, including the lead editorial in today's New York Times, have left McCain with his highest poll numbers since Obama emerged as Democratic front runner. If Palin-bashing was an effective tactic for Obama and his supporters, McCain's support would be going down, not up. The more Palin is bashed, the better numbers she pulls. There are good reasons for this, which I'll talk about below.
Anyone would be a better president than George W. Bush. He is now competing with Warren Harding for the top of the 10 Worst Presidents list. I suspect Obama would/will make a pretty good president, possibly even in the top tier, once he develops and/or articulates a good reason for wanting to be president. That's the problem with so many leaders these days, whether we're talking about Chretien, Paul Martin, George Bush and Bill Clinton. As I said at the top, I think Obama wants to undo much of the Reagan-Gingerich-Bush Revolution. Unfortunately, Obama does not say that. He speaks of "hope" and "change" and I've given him a very large benefit of the doubt of what hope and change would mean.
John McCain is a decent man. Anyone who followed the guy's progress through the 2000 primaries, when he was smeared by Karl Rowe with lies about illegitimate kids, and watched him as he developed as the voice of principled, non-intrusive conservatism knows it. The American public know the guy is tough. They're seeing Obama is a bit, well, sucky.
Not only are the polls going south, the Democratic congressional candidates have taken to the lifeboats and left Captain Obama to go down with the ship. Notice in this story the split in the Democrats and the survival of Hillary Clinton's campaign machine.
As I said a couple of weeks ago, Sarah Palin resonates with small-town people, working class and lower-middle class people, even unionized workers. She also has a certain attraction for middle-age men, a pretty large voting group that usually finds its way to the polls. She also racked up big bonus points with anyone who's had a brush with teen pregnancy. Pro-choice people who suggested she probably should have aborted little Trig, the baby with Down's Syndrome, didn't do Obama much good, either. Many, many people see her as "one of us", someone outside the supposedly glamorous and undeservingly rewarded world of Washington, Manhattan and Hollywood.
Knock her as a mom, and every mom who's had a bump in the road feels it. Knock her for being uneducated, and everyone who lacks a BA is onside. Make fun of her kids' names, and all the folks who have named their kids Cody and Willow feel slighted. Trash Wasilla, Alaska, and you trash Castle Rock IA, Watertown NY, Munising MI.
My friend Skippy Stalin is right: Once Obama started running against Palin, he lost.
I gave current events quizes to about 35 students this week and the name-in-the news that was most forgotten was "Joe Biden".
You'll see some interestin comments here that I think strengthen my points a bit.

Harper and the Graspers

The near-fawning coverage of the Harper Tories in most of the Asper-family controlled Canwest press raises the question: what's in it for them? There's the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, a Winnipeg(?!)-based family project that is well on its way financially, thanks to you, me, and every other Canadian who pays taxes. But to avoid big-time financial trouble, the Aspers really need some sort of legislative bail-out. You see, as it stands now, it's against the law to sell newspaper companies and TV networks to foreigners. At the very least, the Aspers need to unload their newspaper chain, which doesn't fit into the family business of buying Canadian rights to American dreck TV and re-broadcasting the crap to Canadians. (The Liberals set that system up, and the Aspers did show them a couple of decades of loyalty for it. But times change). Since there's no one in Canada in the newspaper business who has the money or the inclination to buy the chain, the Aspers need foreign ownership changes to allow Americans or Murdoch to buy the papers.
In fact, just the possibility of foreign buyers for the Aspers' media properties would light a fire under Canwest's moribund stock and save the Grasper family farm. And this week, Harper made some interesting comments in that regard. The travelling press corp, limited to poll-driven reporting, missed the nuance. My old roomie Lise Lareau, the head of Canadian Media Guild, which represents most CBC employees, did not.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Your tax money at work (again)

It takes all kinds... lifestyle choice... to each their own... love is blind...
The laff-a-decade folks at This Hour Has 22 Minutes are stuck doing the same schtick over and over and over and over and over and... well, you get the point.
One of their cast members was briefly arrested for pretending to accost the Prime Minister and express her lurve.
Almost as funny as reading the phone book.

And it conjures up today's most gruesome image.

Mud wresting in rural New Jersey

Bill Murdoch comes from my old corner of the Ontario sticks. He made his name as a township reeve in Grey County who was eager and willing to carve up the Niagara Escarpment into 5-acre lots. This made him popular with Toronto people who wanted a little hobby farm in one of the nicer parts of the province, and with farmers eager to unlaod their old goatland for big money. Then he moved way out of his league, getting elected to Queen's Park, where they make real laws and stuff.
Murdoch has, yet again, stepped in bovine by-product. Yup, John Tory is yesterday's news, having blown the last election campaign with his idjut full-funding-for-madrasses promise. And, yes, losing Ontario Tory leaders don't get a second electoral chance (not that there have been too many losing Tory leaders these past 70 years). But Bill just couldn't keep his mouth shut, which is one good reason to send the stupid bugger back to the farm and let the smart people work this out.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

You be the judge

In this now-notorious TV audio clip (which has been subject of legal threats from Green Party communications flak John Bennett, who used to work for -- wait for it -- Amnesty International), does Elizabeth May say "they" think Canadians are stupid or "I" think Canadians are stupid?
The difference in wording does mean a lot. And keep in mind that the quote is pulled from some kind of context.
Here it is.

Update

Actually, the fact that she agrees with the notion Canadians are stupid, whether it's "they" or "I" really doesn't matter.
I had taken it for granted her comments were lifted out of some kind of context. Amazingl, I was wrong. Here's the audio of the broadcast. The exchange begins about 38 minutes and 30 seconds into the clip.
I hardly see how Bennett can make a threat about slander, when his own boss made the statement. As for TVO's copyright, this is defintely fair use for the purposes of public debate.


Turns out John Bennett has joined Ryan Sparrow in the flak doghouse. Bennett was, er, not quite accurate in his threat that TVO would sue the Tyee and Stephen Taylor, and the Greens have disowned any threat of legal action on their behalf.

When partisanship trumps common sense and decency

you sometimes have to shoot your pitbull.

My wife and I were wondering the other day

whatever happened to this guy and if he still skulks around Vancouver bars saying "I friggin' made it, and I never got no Order of Canada or no statues and shit."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Today's question

Who is this "William Fox" who writes today in the Globe about media coverage of the election? He writes very glowingly of the Tory's management of their campaign. The little bio says "William Fox, author of Spin Wars, has been at both ends of the campaign plane and is a student of political communications."
Well, this is what the Globe doesn't tell you: Fox used to be Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's top PR flack. That's a useful piece of information, isn't it? I guess the Globe just didn't have enough room for that little fact.
Isn't it time the media in this country re-established the line between journalism and flackery? At the very least, we should know whether or not people doing political analysis in the country's news pages have been employed by the very political party that they're writing about.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Dion and Layton take a shot of extract of wild strawberry

every time the Taliban waxes eloquently on who it wants to win the Canadian election.

Turns out the Taliban didn't take long to find their man.

Steve Maher, the Halifax Herald's brilliant Parliamentary reporter, ties it all in a big bow here.

Boo hoo...

No one's going to switch their vote to Dion out of sympathy, no matter how Grit spinners spin it. Yea, the poopin' puffin was stupid, but there's lots of stupid stuff on the Internet. If it had been in a TV commercial, things might be different.
The whole puffin thing is an inside joke lost on 99% of Canadians, though, of course, they'll get the bird blast part. But if votes shift by .001% over the tasteless web page, I'll be surprised.
The campaign will almost certainly be decided by the debates. Right now, everyone's still trying to cope with change from summer to fall mode.

BTW, having a bird crap on you is supposed to be good luck, so maybe there's actually a mole in the PC War Room. Maybe.

The CBC: Canada's Public Broadcaster

It costs $1 billion a year. And it justifies itself by saying it provides services that no other media outlet in Canada will provide.
Services, I suppose, like running this piece of shit.
You want to take on McCain and Palin, fine. Like they'd really give a rat's ass. My advice as a writer: use real logic and real evidence, not invective and insults that border on racism. There are plenty of things to criticise about Republicans. Do some research instead of flinging garbage.
As a taxpayer, I don't want to pay for this garbage. The country isn't short of opinion-editorial space. If no one wants to publish Mallick in the free market, maybe the CBC should take the hint.
I'm in favor of a very scaled-back CBC with one radio network and one TV network doing documentaries and educational programming, with concise, straight news broadcasts similar to The World at Six. This type of trash reinforces that view.
If Heather Mallicks fans want to read Heather Mallick, let them do it on their own dime, just as the David Frum and Mark Steyn readers do.

The Family Man Schtick

Being a "family man" has become important in this election, as though we all don't have parents, siblings, significant others, etc. I didn't know Mackenzie King was running in this election. He wasn't exactly a "family man" unless you count his dead mother.
Maybe this is supposed to make Harper and even Dion "human". I've seen them both close-up around their families. Yup, they have attractive wives and kids whom they don't seem to abuse in any way. The Harper kids are delightful and one of the first times I met Harper when he was PM, he asked a friend of mine where he could find a good hockey program for his son.
They also seem to be loyal husbands and neither of them has been caught cruising the city's leather bars or in sheep barns. But I'm glad neither one of them was my daddy. Being the child of a politician must be profoundly strange.
Maybe the Tory "family man" ads and resulting press coverage will attract the votes of people who need a pater patria instead of a Prime Minister. Now you don't just have to be smart and sober, you have to be the "aw shucks" daddy of your country.

Monday, September 08, 2008

From our "what ever happened to..." files

Not OJ. We know where he is this week: on trial in Vegas for numerous felonies and praying that karma is not such a bitch.
Today's lost sheep is Gary Coleman, mutant former actor, bankrupt, professional wrestler, security guard, and candidate for Governor of California, now involved in vehicular assault on bowling patrons.
Sometimes, Gary, OD'ing at the height of your fame or cashing your own check, as per Hervé Villechaize, is not such a bad idea.

HT National Newswatch

Sooooooo close to the line.

Last year, I taught several Concordia students who had been at Dawson College a year earlier, when Kimveer Gill attacked the place. It's hard to describe the impact on those students, and I don't want to talk about them on my blog. Suffice to say, the Dawson shootings resonated among our first-year class.
So I'm very concerned when any politician tries to make hay out of Gill's rampage. Still, I think Dion did a good job of dealing with one of the issues involved: Gill's assault rifle still is not on the list of prohibited weapons. Since it's designed for killing people, not for hunting, I agree with Dion: the government should act. If, as he says, the committee that recommends which weapons are banned is stacked with loonies and gun nuts, then Dion's done a public service by exposing them. If not, he's tried to turn tragedy into votes.
His claim does have the ring of truth to it. The evidence? Almost two years after the killing, another Kimveer Gill could buy the same weapon and go into another Canadian school. That's a rather scary thought for those of us in Montreal colleges.

Montreal Gazette backing Harper

I'm in Montreal today. The Gazette has a flattering picture of Harper on the front, showing him and Laureen at Quebec City. The Globe and the Ottawa Citizen have the same picture of Harper and his wife and their fancy Air Canada (wait for it) Airbus. Neither paper mentioned the interesting history connected with those planes.
The Gazette, in an editorial with a glaring error (Harper did not walk across the street to Rideau Hall, Gazoos. He went in a motorcade.) wonders who Montreal voters cling to their support of the Liberals when the race in Quebec should be a two-way fight between the Tories and the Bloc.
(Just maybe it's because the Liberals are the most federalist of the federal parties.)
Anyway, looks like the Canwest papers are falling neatly into line. Harper's in Winnipeg tonight and tomorrow. Maybe he'll announce more funding for the Asper family project, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

We're not fussy

On behalf of the friends of mine, both in the media and in real life, who can't cross the border into the States because of some multi-decades-old pot possession conviction (long pardoned), I wonder how someone who has multiple DUIs, cocaine posession convictions and assorted other public felonies can just toodle up to Canada to watch a few flicks?

Tonda McCharles, Agenda Setter

The Toronto Star's rather dim Parliamentary reporter Tonda McCharles hits the campaign trail today and leaves all the other candidates in her dust:

Just hours after the campaign began, however, came news of the death of yet another Canadian soldier in Afghanistan. Sgt. Scott Shipway, the 97th soldier to die, was killed by a roadside improvised explosive device that also injured seven other Canadian soldiers.

The seven injured are "in good condition," said Brig. Gen. Denis Thompson who announced Shipway's death. He said the young father was a week away from returning home after his second Afghanistan deployment.

Thompson said no amount of equipment or technology can prevent determined insurgent bombers from building and planting even bigger explosives.

"The situation is difficult and challenging. there's no question about that," said Thompson.

The news underlined an unpredictable issue in the coming electoral campaign that could see the 100th Canadian soldier killed in the Afghan mission.

It was not a central or strong theme in any of the opening speeches by federal party leaders who attempted today to frame what they want the "ballot question" for Canadians to be

Saturday, September 06, 2008

It's the economy, stupid

As I said over a year ago, we're heading into a recession. Canadians never re-elect governments after recessions, so Harper has to go now.
The Tories will make Dion the issue in this election. There's no big secret there: they defined him after he became leader of the Liberals and have been working him over since then. And how well has he defended himself? Well, not very well.
They'll keep savaging Dion's personality, his English skills, and his social background. They'll do to Dion what the Republicans have done to Obama, insinuating he's isolated from the mainstream, has never had a "real" job and actually despises those people who do.
And they'll bring up energy. At least, that's how they'll define Dion's complicated Green Shift. Like Joe Clark in 1980 and John Tory last year, Dion can't explain his election platform. so the Tories will do it for him: they'll scare the East with talk of even higher energy prices and they'll tell Alberta and Saskatchewan the Green Shift is the new NEP.
In Westmount-Ville Marie, the Tories posted campaign signs boasting "Quebec is Getting Stronger". They're trying to re-make Mulroney's 1984 coalition with soft nationalists. They have the "Quebec is a Nation" resolution while Dion is author of the Clarity Act. Were I a Quebec voter, I'd be working for Dion because I share that aspect of his vision for Canada. Harper does the old trick of telling the West he'll get tough on separatism while, at the same time, rolling over like a toy poodle for the Quebec nationalists. He does what the Albertans always accused Trudeau of doing.
Will it all work?
Like a charm.
Harper will win a majority.

Harper and the GG

I'm told that Harper's people were warned by the outgoing Martin administration that their biggest problems would come from Rideau Hall. They believed their own choice of Governor General, a second-string TV talking head, Michealle Jean, would someday use some of the latent powers of her office. Anyone who actually followed her journalistic career should have known she's a pretty doctrinaire leftist, one with a very highly developed sense of her own self-worth.
And Jean, should she did in her heals and not grant Harper his election, will have something of a case, provided she insist Harper recalls Parliament for a vote of confidence.
And Harper could do this to his advantage, immediately recalling the House of Commons and introducing a whack of legislation that the Opposition would either have to pass, to Harper's delight, or vote down, to Harper's delight.
We'd have a constitutional crisis, one in which the role of GG would be argued ad nauseum. We'd also certainly have an election with the role of entrenched, elite Liberal bureaucratic and institutional power being a major issue. It takes support for all ten provinces to actually change the GG's political role, but there's nothing to prevent the government from de-funding the institution, selling Rideau Hall and stripping the GG of her huge and incredibly well-compensated staff (some of whom live rent-free in mansions on the 80 acre private parkland of Rideau Hall).
I suspect Michele Jean would dearly love to carve a place in history as other than a gender/racial token and flex her constitutional muscles at the expense of a Prime Minister and governing party that she detests. At the same time, I expect her staff will be telling her to stick with tradition and remind her that more than 2 1/2 years is a long time for a Canadian minority government.
As for the fixed election law, it is, in the immortal words of Capt. Barbossa, more like a set of guidelines.

There are scandals. And there are scandals.

A knocked-up 17-year-old is, at the very most, a slight embarassment.
A convicted felon running a city is a scandal.
The 17-year-old is the daughter of the Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States.
The convicted felon/mayor is the son of the head of the Democratic Black Congressional Caucus and a leading supporter of Barack Obama.
Which story did you hear the most about last week?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palin nails it

Sure, I don't agree with everything she said, but her speech last night at the RNC showed she's ready to take on the big boys.
I think she handled the experience issue very well, discussing her reforms in Alaska, however slight they might be, and whacking Obama with the fact he's written two memoirs and no major laws at the Illinois or US Senate.
Bu where she really put it out of the park was on the class issue, making points that will resonate with working people, small-town Americans, and especially people who feel the political/media elite has erected a new, perktastic governing class closed to outsiders and financed with high taxes. She was small-town and working America speaking to urban power and privilege. She very quickly sewed up the social conservative vote and probably landed everyone who voted for Ross Perot.
What many commentators don't realize is that many Americans have been down the same road as Palin: small town or backwater roots, not a lot of money, not a lot of connections, maybe a few family challenges. She's got a husband with a dirty job, a daughter who's knocked up, and she comes from a town with a city hall that's not nearly as architecturally interesting as Obama's columned backdrop.
She used all those things as weapons and challenged established power -- political and media -- far more than Obama ever has.
There are a lot of things I disagree with her on, but I'm beginning to wonder whether John McCain just pulled off one of the sharpest political moves in history, deliberately or not.

After several days of the type of attack detailed here, I think people are going to start feeling pretty protective of Palin. It's almost as though the media has no concept of sympathy, something Palin, the two-fisted so-con governor who advocates drilling in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge, might never have received without the media's huge mis-step over her daughter's pregnancy.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Test of Faith

The Pope has demanded a priest quit his job as an MP. It's not much of a loss, since the MP in question, Raymon Gravel, is one of the more tedious members of the Bloc Quebecois. Still, I'm impressed that he complied. Obviously, he is someone who actually lives his faith, whether you agree with it or not.
Yes, it's a bit hypocritical that the Church, which has known its share of political acts and actors, including the present Pope, to demand its lower clergy stay out of politics. And I'm very troubled by the fact the Vatican made the ruling because of complaints by people in Quebec who did not like Gravel's positions on issues. Still, it might be a step forward in ridding the world of priest politicians like Aristide of Haiti and some of the liberation theology advocates who helped fill the ranks of the Sandinista cabinet. I'm not sure how to read this, thought. If the Pope really plans to pull the clergy out of active politics, he's going to have some real fights with Jesuits, especially in the Third World. And he's going to have to be consistent, not acting just when people complain.

An interesting poll

One man, one vote.
One man, Rupert Murdoch, is voting with his pocketbook.

h/t Norman's Spectator.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I guess he didn't like this...



Fair Play & Daylight was a collection of essays on Ottawa history published by the Citizen in 1995. Russ Mills was publisher at the time. He was later canned by the Graspers for writing an editorial saying Jean Chretien should resign over "Shawinigate".
Most likely Romeo Leblanc was the unappreciative GG. There's a slim chance it was Ray Hnatyshyn
I picked up Fair Play & Daylight today at Value Village on Cyrville Road. Today was their half-price sale, so I got it for 50 cents.

If you're looking for REAL scandal,

join me and follow this wonderful, riveting case. Detroit's hip-hop mayor is off to the slammer a day after he welcomed Obama to his fair city. And the charges aren't exactly jaywalking. Meanwhile, his momma managed to squeak through the Democratic primary in early August, winning the right to run for re-ecetion, but almost 66% of the people who turned out to vote cast ballots against her. Still, she will almost certainly win in November and continue to lead the Black Caucus in the House of Representatives.

Boycott John Deere

for this. And Hershey's for moving their factory from Smith's Falls to Mexico. And Bell for sending their customer service jobs to India.
They say they have the right to move Ontario jobs to countries where labour is cheaper.
Fine.
Let people in those countries buy their products.

The next year's headlines

Will there be an election?

We are all geared up for an election.

We don't want an election.

An election might be illegal.

People will be very upset if Harper calls an election.

Harper has called an election.

No one cares about the election.

The election debates are coming.

Will the Green Party be in the election debates.

Geeen Party fights to be in election debate, launches court challenge.

Green Party loses fight to be in election debate.

No one cares about election debate.

Harper wins English debate.

Dion wins French debate.

Green Party, NDP support eroding.

Can Harper break through in Toronto?

Can NDP break through in Westmount-Ville Marie?

Harper wins larger minority.

Harper brings down budget.

Is Dion's leadership safe?

Dion's leadership unsafe, Liberal sources say.

Dion resigns as leader, cites family reasons.

Liberal leadership contest a horserace.

Public apathetic to Liberal leadership race.

Liberals choose new leader.

Will there be an election?

We are all geared up for an election

No one wants an election.

Is an election even legal...

Today's Historical Fact

No Canadian government has won back-to-back minority governments. They've either moved up to majorities (King, Dief, Pearson/Trudeau, Trudeau) or have lost power (Meighen, Dief, Clark, Martin).

Um, ugh, um... except for one. Pearson in 1965. I should have remembered that. I met Dief during that campaign.

Another theory blown.

Thanks, Anonymous.

Never say die

To celebrate the first day of school, I'm posting this story, which has a bizarre charm.