Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Would somebody like to sing "Do They Know It's Christmas"?

Israelis : 5 dead, 31 wounded
Palestinians : 375 dead, 1500+ wounded

"The goal of the operation is to topple Hamas. We will stop firing immediately if someone takes the responsibility of this government, anyone but Hamas. We are favourable to any other government to take the place of Hamas."
In 2006 Israel jailed one third of the Hamas cabinet, democratically elected by a majority.
"It has not manipulated Palestinians into hating Hamas, but has probably been counterproductive. It is just useless collective punishment."

Haaretz :
"Israel has always believed that causing suffering to Palestinian civilians would make them rebel against their national leaders. This assumption has proven wrong over and over."

"One and a half million Palestinian refugees crammed into the cesspool of Gaza, 80 per cent of whose families once lived in what is now Israel. This, historically, is the real story: most of the people of Gaza don't come from Gaza."

Center for Strategic and International Studies via the G&M:
"Israeli leaders synchronized their retaliatory attacks to the political calendar in the U.S., thinking it was better to strike before President George W. Bush left office on Jan. 20 because they weren't as sure about what president-elect Barack Obama's reaction would be.

The governing Labour and Kadima parties are believed to want to improve their odds in coming national elections, demonstrating that they are as tough as hawkish Likud Leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently ahead in the polls."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Steve to Bruinooge : STFU

Steve's spokesthingey reminds Bruinooge that making a meal out of fetus fetishism is not the way to a majority government :
"We will not introduce or support legislation on abortion."

All kidneys aside, the first NaPo link above inadvertantly sets the record straight when giving some background on ongoing ReformaCon forays into managing women's bodies for the good of society :
"To pro-life advocates like the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, P-207 seems all-too-similar to the controversial private member's Bill C-484."

Pro-choice is indeed the actual pro-life position. Thank you for noticing.

Con MP inexplicably goes on and on about auctioning off kidneys on eBay...

and issues a challenge ...
"Mr. Bruinooge said that it is illegal for an individual to have a kidney removed and auction it off on eBay.
“The bottom line is that people like myself are not going to stop until, at the very least, unborn children have more value than a Canadian kidney,” he said.
“Your kidneys have more protection than an unborn child until the moment it is out of the woman,” Mr. Bruinooge said. “I challenge anyone to debate me on that point, because I don't think you can. It is very true."

Ooooh, pick me, Mr Bruinooge, pick me.
It is not permitted to auction off kidneys on eBay.
It is not permitted to auction off fetuses on eBay.
Therefore kidneys do not have more protection than fetuses on eBay.

Mr Bruinooge, recently elected to head a secret "pro-life" caucus of federal Lib and Con MPs, would also like to see the abortion debate reopened. Hell, yes. And what about slavery? Has anyone seriously debated the pros and cons of slavery recently? Because I'm guessing eBay doesn't allow slave auctions either.

Hysperia, Impolitical, deBeauxOs, Cathie, JJ, LuLu, Antonia, and Scott

Sunday, December 28, 2008

"SPP : Kill it, recast it, or rebrand it"

is the recommendation of Sarah Ladislaw, member of the North American SPP Energy Working Group and fellow at CSIS - the Center For Strategic and International Studies. She was speaking at a CSIS book promo/discussion group in Washington DC last week for The Future of North America 2025 : Outlook and Recommendations, edited by Armand Peschard-Sverdrup.

You'll recall the public outcry up here in April last year when the CSIS NA2025 panel convened in Calgary and director Armand B. Peschard-Sverdrup was quoted as saying :
"It's no secret that the U.S. is going to need water. ...
It's no secret that Canada is going to have an overabundance of water.
At the end of the day, there may have to be arrangements."
According to comments they made last week, the panel has not changed its position on that.
"Canadians have no water management, " said Bill Nitze, adding that while "North America is water-rich, southern California and Mexico are not." He recommended setting up "water markets and water banking", plus expanding the powers and budgets of the International Water Commission(US/Mexico) and the International Joint Commission (US/Canada) to "manage water in all three countries".

Noting that "the SPP has gotten a bad name on the centre-left in Canada" where it is "seen as a vehicle for business interests to exploit resources, including bulk water exports from Canada" he further advocated the importance of "a game changer" and "giving it a different flavour" by "getting people to talk differently". In a recommendation from the floor, Diana Negroponte of the Brookings Institution suggested adopting the word "coordination" in place of "integration" and panel members duly noted her advice to "avoid the word integration".

Answering a question about the current stagnation of the SPP, Ladislaw advised expanding the focus from the federal to the state/provincial level, a tactic we have already seen in groups like PNWER and Atlantica.
"Based on the EPA experience," said Bill Nitze, "if you provide money, lots and lots of money, for local needs, then you can get co-operation. Federal governments have enough money to make this happen".
This was easily up there as the most boring hour and a half I have ever spent so you guys out there owe me big time. Conjure up, if you will, a high level discussion of Germany's annexation of Austria in 1938 discussed entirely from the point of view of making the trains run more efficiently.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Best of the merry happy jolly

These two little guys, a young raven and a deer born late in the spring, have been taking turns at the bird feeder. This year my Christmas tree was a dozen or so feeders hanging in the brambles and saplings outside the window in front of my computer, the ornaments the constant flutterings of tiny birds. Best tree I ever had.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And the little kid gets to keep his pony

Remember this? Little kid with cerebral palsy, his pony Emily, and the asshat neighbour complaint?
Hello all,
I want to thank each and everyone of you for your love and support, your letters, petitioning, fundraising came through today.
Short after 1pm this afternoon Sam and I appeared before The Caledon Committee of Adjustments and plead our case, the out cry of support from everyone across the world was heard loud and clear by everyone there. It was determined that Emily could stay here on the property with Sam ...
Letter from mom Antonia Spiteri continues at RC Rublik.
Caledon councillor Annette Groves : "While you have to enforce the rules, there are times when you have to use discretion and have to remember that you’re a human being and have to have some compassion."
With thanks to Dawg and PSA at Canadian Cynic for linking.
A round for ponies for everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Six mil poly

on clothsline.

In a perfect world

it would not have been necessary for Stephen Harper to eat a baby....
And yes I have stolen Ottawonk's entire site logo here but he's off on Perogies and besides I'll put it back before he gets home.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Steve's Big Stocking Stuffer Senate "Reform"

"It's a sad day," said Harper as he set a record for the most Senate seats filled in a single day, certainly the most seats ever appointed by a government in hiding.

Nat Post : All appointees "had to first pledge allegiance to Conservative policies on Senate reform in the future while promising to oppose any coalition of opposition parties that included the Bloc Quebecois ... as the pre-condition for their appointment."

So it's more than a little ironic that Harper has just appointed Michel Rivard, a genuine former separatist under Parizeau , to a Senate seat in order to stave off the entirely fictional possibility of a Bloc member ever accepting one. Especially as Steve's only elected senate envoy, Bert Brown, said only yesterday :

Brown said Harper was particularly worried that the coalition might appoint separatist senators - a scenario denied by all three opposition parties.
"I think Harper got a little bit spooked and decided that he didn't want to see separatists in the Senate," said Brown

Well ok, you might be thinking, but people change. And you'd be right! Rivard switched from Parti Québécois to the Alliance and lost.
Ok who else we got?

Michael MacDonald, Con Party vice president, ran for office and lost
Fabian Manning, Con MP defeated in last election
Yonah Martin, Con not elected in last election
Leo Housakos, Alliance candidate, ran for office and lost, *issues*
John D. Wallace, Corporate Counsel for Irving Oil, ran for office and lost
Stephen Greene, Reform Party chief of staff, ran for office twice, lost both times

Seeing an electability pattern here yet?

Mike Duffy, Con pointman at CTV
Pamela Wallin, CTV, CBC, Council of the Americas
Nicole Eaton, National Post columnist

Irving Gerstein, Con fundraiser, *issues*
Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis (Que.) ProgCon MP
Richard Neufeld, Socred, then Reform, now BC minister of Energy Mines and Petroleum
Fred Dickson, QC , Legal expert on offshore resource development, P3 booster
Percy Mockler, Con MLA in the New Brunswick
Hector Daniel Lang, Yukon Legislative Assembly
Patrick Brazeau, big Harper fan and National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. off reserve
Nancy Green Raine, Go 2010 Games Go!

Steve : "It's the only option. Does the government Canadians elected appoint those senators or are they going to be appointed by a coalition that nobody elected?"

I dunno, Steve, only 6 of your 18 were ever elected to office at all and another 7 have run for office under one C.R.A.P. banner or other and have already been rejected.
Sure is a lot easier running a government without any sitting opposition though, isn't it?

So the question now is : Will Governor General Michaëlle Jean ratify Harper's party hacks and fans and unelected fundraisers without the confidence of the House?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Harper's CTV Christmas Special

I tuned in ten minutes late for Steve's hour long CTV Christmas Special and over the course of five minutes he said :
"There's no justification for trying to suggest that Canadians would put into power a coalition where the Bloc Quebecois would have a veto over the affairs of the country."
"Having the Bloc Quebecois have a veto over the decisions of a national government would be very dangerous for the long run interests of the country."
"Government cannot function if it is always looking over its shoulder to see if the Bloc Quebecois will veto."
"Canadians did not vote for the Bloc to have a veto over the government."

Dear Steve
Allow me to quote from the Coalition's Accord, signed by the three opposition party leaders including Gilles Duceppe on Dec 1:
"The [Coalition] Government will not request a dissolution of Parliament during the term of this agreement, except following defeat on an explicitly-framed motion of nonconfidence presented by the Opposition...[that would be you, Steve]... or any vote pertaining to the speech from the throne; or on a budget vote at on any stage in the House; or on any bill to implement a budget at any stage in the House; or on any motion in the House to concur in, restore or reinstate any Estimates; or on any supply bill at any stage in the House.
The Bloc Québécois will neither move nor will it support any motions of nonconfidence in the Government during the term of its support for this agreement, and will vote in favour of the Government’s position with respect to all matters referred to in the immediately preceding paragraph."

Could that be any clearer? The agreement actually binds the Bloc to vote with the coalition on all matters of confidence and to support all budgets, throne speeches and money bills.

Steve knows this of course, but he went on Corporate Television Vehicle and bullshitted the Canadian public about it four distinct times anyway, because presumably he hopes to unite the country behind him in a little redneck frog bashing. Fucking appalling. And neither host, Lloyd Robertson nor Robert Fife, called him on it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Here's how we fix Canada's political mess"

is an article by Preston Manning in today's G&M, in which he advises dissolving the coalition and preparing for "the next election" to "give Canada the broadly supported majority government it needs in times like these."

But first, let's review some quotes from a book Preston wrote with Mike Harris last year, published by the Fraser Institute and "guided" by the Montreal Economic Institute, with help from Michael Hart, member of the Task Force on the Future of North America. You can read the whole thing yourself online :

International Leadership by a Canada Strong and Free :

~ Deepening integration with the US economy must be on the agenda as the best way for Canadians to increase our trade, prosperity, and leadership potential.

~For Canada, Mexico’s presence at the NAFTA table is no reason to avoid action on our urgent national interest in pursuing a formal structure to manage irreversible economic and security integration with the United States.

~The 2005 Security and Prosperity Initiative adopted by Prime Minister Martin and President Bush and confirmed by the Harper government a year later laid a promising foundation. Both governments now receive regular status reports on its implementation. The earlier Smart Border Accord gave security and access to the United States a higher priority than before September 11. Both, however, operate within existing laws and policies and are therefore limited in scope. Extracting the full benefit of deeper integration requires a more ambitious initiative.

~ The federal government should revisit the decision not to participate in the Ballistic Missile Defence program

~The central importance of good US-Canada relations to Canada’s interests across virtually every domestic and international issue requires that the federal government make that relationship its highest international priority.

~ In order to facilitate the integrated coordination of their two economies, the two governments need to create a customs union involving a common external tariff, a joint approach to the treatment of third-country goods, a fully integrated energy market, a common approach to trade remedies, and an integrated government procurement regime.

~Government has no place in the decision-making of Canadian consumers, importers, or exporters.

~If Canadians wish to contribute to global peace and security they can only do so effectively as partners with the United States.

~There is much to be said for Canada and the United States developing a North American energy security accord that looks at the best way to develop and distribute the continent’s resources to the benefit of people on both sides of the border.

Thanks, Presto, for coming out for Steve like this. I'm sure he appreciates your continued support in today's G&M.

"International Leadership by a Canada Strong and Free"
Available at Chapters.Indigo.ca for just $19.95!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Man of Steel vs. the Incredible Shrinking Mandate

One of the crowning glories of Steve's Five Priorities Four Pillars Three Little Pigs Accountability Act was his paean to Canada's Gnu Government transparency - the creation of the Parliamentary Budget Office to provide independent analysis of the national economy and the government's fiscal position.

First budget officer Kevin Page, or "Man of Steel" as Jennifer calls him, has produced two reports since March, both critical of the government.
The first, released during the election, calculated that the cost of the Afghanistan mission not including military equipment will be about $18.1 billion by 2011.
The second, published shortly before Diamond Jim Flaherty vowed there would absolutely be no chance of a deficit next year, projected a deficit for next year.
"In his economic statement, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty projected a budget surplus of $100 million for 2009-10 based on the sale of about $2 billion in assets that he didn't identify."
Mr. Flatulence has since reluctantly come around to Kevin Page's assessment, predicting a $15-billion deficit, only to be contradicted himself by Steve who is now calling for a $20 to $30-billion deficit.

So it won't come as much of a surprise to hear that in the matter of the Department of Finance vs the Parliamentary Budget Office, old Kev has had his budget frozen -( h/t Steve ) - presumably because accurate financial forecasts are a dime a dozen lately in Steve's Fiscal Funhouse.

Actually it's a testament to Mr. Page's perseverence that he has got this far. Both Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella and House Speaker Peter Milliken want him reined in, arguing that the "budget office is simply an extension of the services the Library [of Parliament] already offers."
"The parliamentary library operates on a solicitor-client basis. This means any research the library collects for MPs and senators is "privileged" and can be withheld at their request. As an adjunct of the library, Mr. Page's reports would be done for MPs and committees who then can could use the information as they want."
Privileged. Witheld at their request. As they want.

In 2006 a document at the Library of Parliament outlined the various forms the Parliamentary Budget Office could take and decided it should not be granted the same independence enjoyed by the Auditor General. Evidently no one informed the Man of Steel.

Hello, soldier!

A Canadian infantry soldier in Afghanistan has been posting on the leftie discussion forum Babble for the past few days, taking questions and answering criticisms.

His spelling and history mistakes notwithstanding - "geneeva" and confusing the stated reasons for the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan - it's impossible to tell if he's posting on his own accord, whether its part of his "job", or if the whole thing is just psy ops.

Regardless, an interesting discussion.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"It's still Canada"

Zoom at Knitnut came upon a police situation she didn't like the look of yesterday :
"three police officers were trying to put an unconscious, handcuffed woman into the back of a van."

She didn't see the beginning of the incident, described to her by a bystander as :
“And the big cop, he slammed her face-down into the sidewalk just like she was a huge man,” said one of the men.
Then, he said, they cuffed her and went to put her in the van. She was part-way in when suddenly she just collapsed. Unconscious. She was bleeding from the head. That’s roughly when I came along."
So Zoom started taking pictures. That takes one hell of a lot of nerve. A 66 year old family lawyer in Edmonton was tasered for doing just that.
When challenged by police, she stood her ground, and as Bene Diction said to her in the comments at her blog :
"You were on public property (common ground) and something in your core integrity may have helped bystanders dig within themselves."
Indeed, another bystander did speak up :
“It’s still Canada,” said a young man in the crowd.
The cop wheeled around.
“You say something?” he demanded of the young man.
“Yeah,” he replied, “I said ‘It’s still Canada.’”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” demanded the cop.
“It means,” said the young man, “that we have rights here. She can take a picture of anything she wants and she doesn’t have to delete it just because you say so.”

Good for you, Zoom at KnitNut and the young man who stood up both for you and an unconscious handcuffed woman bleeding from a head wound being stuffed into the back of a van.

Continued at KnitNut ...

h/t JJ and Stageleft
Update : Also saluted by Excited Delirium, Skdadl at Pogge, Dr. Dawg, Miss Vicki, JimBobby, and Bene Diction who has good advice for anyone who finds themselves in Zoom's position.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Time To Go Right Off the Deep End.ca

Many ReformaCons are so incensed that the coalition has "formed a devil's pact" with the "seperatist"(sic) Bloc, a party they repeatedly accuse of wanting to "break up Canada", that some of them feel they have no other choice but to launch "a new business and taxpayer organization" to encourage BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan to "leave confederation".

Dear Mr. Gregson, Chair of the Western Business and Taxpayers Association, Convention Chair of It's Time To Go! and former "club scout leader" :
I see you have chosen the Con symbol munching down on a stetson for your flag. Good call.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dziekanski's death his own fault apparently

Robert Dziekanski's death was not only pretty much his own fault, but he probably would have dropped dead right there in the Vancouver airport even if the mounties and their TASERs™ had never shown up.

No really. It's all there in Stan Lowe's "Criminal Justice Branch Clear Statement" : the cause of death was
"a hysterical fear of flying, lack of sleep over a 30-hour period, and dehydration, which would have placed him at increased risk for Sudden Death Following Restraint."

"Three forensic pathologists concluded that Dziekanski did not die as direct result of a cardiac arrest brought on by the electric shock from the stun guns," no, instead the pathologists concluded "Dziekanski likely died as a result of cardiac arrest linked to Sudden Death Following Restraint." Capitalized.

Tell me more about this new capitalized medical condition, Mr. Lowe of the criminal Justice Branch.
"Sudden Death Following Restraint usually involves individuals who are restrained after exhibiting combative and bizarre behavior. As a result, said the report, cases often involve law enforcement personnel."
Gosh that's kind of like that other now completely disgraced medical condition - excited delirium - isn't it? In what way are law enforcement personnel "involved"?

Well, after stun gunning Dziekanski five times, and handcuffing his hands behind his back as he lay on the floor, "The force included Corporal Robinson pushing his knee/shin down in the shoulder/neck area of Mr Dziekanski." At which point "Mr. Dziekanski appeared to go limp and become unconscious", in which state he remained, while no one attempted to resuscitate him for 11 minutes, until the paramedics showed up and couldn't find a pulse.

Stan Lowe at Friday night's press conference (because bad or improbable government news is always released on a Friday night) : None of the four RCMP officers involved will face criminal charges because :
"the available evidence falls remarkably short of that standard."

Remarkably. And their actions, according to another RCMP expert :

"represented a reasonable escalation and de-escalation of force"

One thing the "Clear Statement" is very very very clear about though : none of this can be blamed on the TASERs™, even if there have been subsequent reports of them discharging at 30 times the stated rate.
Fine, let's take TASERs™ out of the equation then - I don't give a shit about the TASERs™ - which only serve to operate as a smokescreen for everything else that's wrong here.
An RCMP officer kneeling on some handcuffed guy's neck/shoulder until he passes out, standing around while he dies, and then the justice system helping him get away with it - that's what's at fault.

Bonus bullshit : In addition to the three un-named pathologists, "Two medical experts in the area of Addiction Psychiatry and Alcohol Related Disease also reviewed the case."
And they came up with .. wait for it ... possible alcohol withdrawal as an explanation.
Poor guy can't catch a break with this inquiry - when the autopsy shows no alcohol in his blood, even that is used against him.

And although the apparently hysterically afraid-of-flying Dziekanski spent 20 hours on planes that day, a year later RCMP investigators were unable to come up with any report regarding his behavior on the flights.
They did however go all the way to Poland to dig up dirt on him :
"RCMP officers who went to Poland to talk to people close to Robert Dziekanski seemed focused on finding negative things about him, says one of those interviewed.
"What kind of person was he, was he a drinker, drug user? Was he aggressive?" she said through a translator. "Most questions were to expose him as not a nice human being -- not to find out what kind of person he really was."
Kosowska said she was left with a poor opinion of the RCMP after two officers questioned her for more than three hours. "I'm appalled by everything .
. . including the fact the policeman was not able to look me straight in the eye."
So you won't be surprised to hear that a good portion of Stan Lowe's 19 minute press conference and CBC's subsequently crappy TV coverage carried considerable conjecture as to whether Dziekanski was crazy or a drunk.

It is also noted in the statement that Mr. Dziekanski picked up a stapler in an "open hand" manner, causing the officers to hit him the first three times with a TASER™ within 25 seconds of entering the room. As someone wrote in the 665 comments under the CBC story : if a stapler is such a lethal weapon, maybe we should be arming the RCMP with them instead.

Yesterday's post : No charges for RCMP who killed Dziekanski

Friday, December 12, 2008

Budget 2009 : Open door policy!

Via Maxwell's House, we learn that Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finangling, has thrown open the doors to all Canadians to contribute to Budget 2009 at the ministry website! Really. What's your pleasure?
Sure there's a handy list of suggestions but also a page to write in your own.

Sven at Fish Eggs has an idea :

"Every Canadian Citizen, will, for the next twelve months, receive a $2000 monthly payment. If you make more than $35,000 per year, it will be progressively taxed to ensure it gets to those whom need it the most. Simple.

This programme will run for one year only. Short.

As the lower income earners all know, this money would enter the economy almost completely, as there is little or no room for most to squirrel away their money. People could spend this money to buy a car, thus bailing out the auto industry. Or they could choose to spend it on housing, thus bailing out the housing industry. Or they may decide to invest in more education and go back to school, thus bailing out the education sector. What matters here is that the PEOPLE would decide where to put OUR hard earned tax dollars. The politicians would then be able to see where we chose to put our money and they could then craft legislation to reflect these investment choices made by Canadians. Effective."

Go for it, Sven.

No charges for RCMP who killed Dziekanski

The Star : "The Mounties involved in Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski's death at Vancouver's airport last year will not face any criminal charges.
When RCMP responded to a disturbance call about Dziekanski, four officers confronted the unarmed Polish man and less than a minute into the encounter, a Taser gun was used, jolting Dziekanski, who fell screaming to the ground. Video, captured by a bystander, shows officers piling onto Dziekanski. He died within minutes."

Two to four TASER™ jolts less than 25 seconds after entering the room actually, and then they stood around for 11 minutes afterwards doing nothing to revive him while waiting for help.

Without Paul Pritchard's ugly and incriminating 10 minute video of the whole event and his threat of legal action against the RCMP to get it back from them, we wouldn't even know what happened because prior to its release the official RCMP story was that there were only two cops and perhaps Dziekanski was a "drug mule" or had "an underlying medical condition".
And then there were the internal documents between the Canadian Border Services Agency, the RCMP, and airport officials on their own security tapes of the incident : "The material has been cleansed too much," read one.

BC's Attorney General will be explaining this exciting new legal precedent at a press conference later today : If a gang of four thugs attacks someone without cause, drops them to the ground and leans on their neck and chest until they are dead - no worries.

As to CBC's recent report that "four out of 41 guns tested actually discharged more electrical current than Taser International says is possible."
Well good on ya for this, CBC, but this isn't exactly news, is it?
"In 2004 Robert Bagnell was killed almost instantly after being shocked by a Vancouver police Taser.
"Engineering firm Intertek tested the two weapons fired during the Bagnell incident. Their research found while one Taser performed within a normal electrical output, the other was 30 times higher.
Taser International, a U.S. stun gun manufacturer, later disputed Intertek's test results. Since then, the two Bagnell Tasers were sent to the Canadian Police Research Centre in Ottawa for further examination. That was two years ago.
Victoria Const. Mike Massine, considered one of Canada's foremost police experts on stun guns, says Tasers are not tested by police. "I'm assuming (Tasers) are tested at the factory," he said. "We don't have the mechanism to do that."

Dr. Dawg : WHITEWASH :
"It's time to disband this "horribly broken" outfit. And it's time to break up the cosy little cliques that have developed between police and Crown attorneys. Lives may well depend upon it.
Until this happens, no one is safe from the bully boys in red serge. No one. There are no checks and balances, there is no accountability. The RCMP is literally out of control. Its officers are, unlike the rest of us, above--or outside--the law."

Follow-up post : Dziekanski's death his own fault apparently!

News, propaganda, psy ops - whatever

Press and "Psy Ops" to merge at NATO Afghan HQ :
"(Reuters) - The U.S. general commanding NATO forces in Afghanistan has ordered a merger of the office that releases news with "Psy Ops," which deals with propaganda, a move that goes against the alliance's policy, three officials said.
The move has worried Washington's European NATO allies -- Germany has already threatened to pull out of media operations in Afghanistan -- and the officials said it could undermine the credibility of information released to the public.
NATO policy recognizes there is an inherent clash of interests between its public affairs offices, whose job it is to issue press releases and answer media questions, and that of Information Operations and Psy Ops.
Information Operations advises on information designed to affect the will of the enemy, while Psy Ops includes so-called "black operations," or outright deception
The new combined ISAF department will come under the command of an American one-star general reporting directly to McKiernan, an arrangement that is also against NATO policy, the NATO official said.
"What we are seeing is a gradual increase of American influence in all areas of the war," the NATO official said. "Seeking to gain total control of the information flow from the campaign is just part of that."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rumours of the coalition

From my notes off CPAC coverage of Iggy’s Don't-fuck-with-me debut as the Liberal leader today :
"I am prepared to vote non-confidence in this government. And I am prepared to enter into a coalition government with our partners if that is what the Governor-General asks me to do. But I also made it clear to the caucus this morning that no party can have the confidence of the country if it decides to vote now against a budget it hasn't even read."

Kady live-blogging the same event : "This is kind of interesting - we the media don’t seem to know what to make of this. It’s going to be tough to spin this into another “coalition is dead” story, but I bet we’ll manage to do it somehow. We’re professionals."

Heh. Good one, Kady.
Well, they certainly tried. In his questions to Iggy afterwards, Corporate Television Vehicle's™ Craig Oliver was obviously astounded that Iggy hadn't yet dumped what he referred to as "The Three Muskateers", but then later reported that Harper, in a clear case of flop sweat, was planning to appoint 18 Con senators to the Senate before Christmas. Now why would Steve do that after campaigning for an end to an unelected senate?

Do I like Iggy? No, not much. Is he capable of outflanking Harper? Yes. Do I think he would dump the coalition in a heartbeat if he didn't need it? Yup. Is the coalition still viable? Yes. Will it be accompanied by ponies and rainbows? Nope.
This coalition idea is going to take time to appeal to a public more familiar with our unofficial ConservaLiberal corporate coalition and its media mouthpieces and there will be setbacks.

So don't be sending your rainbow ponies off into battle and then mourning their imaginary deaths.
Write a letter to your MP, sign a petition, call an openline show, talk to your neighbours.
Fight back. It's your coalition.

Update : Thwap's Schoolyard :
What part of "majority rule" do you not get?

Expanded version on coalition-bashing via media monopoly at The Galloping Beaver.

A coronation if necessary but not necessarily a coronation

The puffin is a noble bird
But also Rae, Stephane Dion
And the coalition chaps.
No more a fan of torture
Or adventures in Iraq
He's been crowned by the Librulz
Just to fend off Gilles and Jack.
The rest of us are worried
What's hidden up his sleeve
But all will be forgiven
If he also buries Steve.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Another great RepubliCon idea

Dr Dawg relates that Gerry Chipeur "the Alberta lawyer who drafted a power-sharing proposal between Stockwell Day, Gilles Duceppe and Joe Clark in 2000 is now suggesting that the Conservatives should defy the Governor-General if she were to ask the Liberal-NDP coalition to form a new government if the Conservative administration falls on January 27."

CanWest : "Chipeur's argument foreshadows a possibly drastic response from the Conservatives should they be turfed from power. He suggests that Conservatives may not readily accept the governor-general's decision should she refuse the prime minister's request for an election."

Chipeur, an anti-SSM ReformaTory Alliance lawyer and activist with ties to Republicans and the evangelical and anti-Kyoto movements on both sides of the border, is laying groundwork for the Cons again here, something he excells at.

New York Observer : (bracketed info mine)
"From: Paul Weyrich[co-founder of the Moral Majority and the Heritage Foundation]
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2006 9:38 AM
To: Bob Thompson[a staffer at Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation]
Subject: Message from Canada
Importance: High
Please get this message to the Stanton, Family Forum and Wednesday lunch groups:

I received a call last night from Gerald Chipeur, an important figure in Canada’s Conservative Party. He told me that Conservatives are with-in striking distance of electing an outright majority in Parliamentary elections Monday.

He said the Canadian media, which is trying to save the current Liberal government, has a strategy of calling conservatives in the USA in the hopes that someone will inadvertently say something that can be hung around the Conservatives.

Canadian voters have been led to believe that American conservatives are scary and if the Conservative party can be linked with us, they perhaps can diminish a Conservative victory. Chipeur asks that if Canadian media calls, please do not be interviewed until Monday evening at which point hopefully there will be reason to celebrate.

Many thanks."

When contacted by Canadian Press about the email, Weyrich denied any personal involvement but later on his website, he bragged about his "small victory" in the Canadian elections.

This August, Chipeur, a dual Canada-US citizen, teamed up with the American Chamber of Commerce to hold a $1000-a-plate fund-raising campaign for John McCain for the 80,000 Americans who live and work in Calgary. Canadian citizens' proceeds went to Friends of Science, Tim Ball's oil industry-funded anti-Kyoto "charity", whose funding was laundered through the University of Calgary by Harper's buddy, Prof. Barry Cooper, before the U of C put a stop to it.
Friends of Science used the money to pay for ads which attacked the previous Liberal government's support for the Kyoto Protocol, pledging "to have a major impact on the next election." Chipeur acted as their lawyer in the investigation by Elections Canada.

Chipeur is also credited with introducing Republican Frank Sensenbrenner to Canadian embassy officials at the Republican National Convention in New York in 2004, attended by Stockwell Day, Chipeur's choice for coalition PM in 2000. Sensenbrenner had attended Reform party conventions and Stockwell Day insisted he be hired by the Canadian Embassy. Sensenbrenner was subsequently accused of the Naftagate leak. to damage Barack Obama's credibility during the Democratic primaries but an internal investigation by Harper's deputy minister failed to provide conclusive evidence.
The Star : "In failing to plumb the leak, the report effectively protects the ruling party from awkward questions. With an election not far in the future, voters might reasonably ask if Conservatives put this country's seminal relationship [with Obama] at risk to give Republicans a helping hand."

The RepubliCons - just one big happy family.

Olympic Athletes Village, developing...

The $1-billion, 1,100-unit Olympic Athletes Village being built by Millenium Development and financed by Fortress Investment Group, a New York-based hedge fund and private-equity company, featured rather controversially in Vancouver civic politics news of late when we learned that city council had secretly voted to loan the project $100-million.

In October, city of Vancouver's real-estate director Michael Flanigan assured us that in the case of a default by Millennium, Fortress has said it has the resources to complete the project :

"They have their profit out front, their equity in the deal, their entire corporate guarantees on the line, personal guarantees on the line," he said. "All this will be exhausted before the taxpayer will ever be exposed for a dime. We don't see there is a risk with taxpayers."

"It's believed Fortress Credit has advanced only about half the value of the loan to this point."

"Cracks are spreading throughout the Fortress Investment group, once a leading player in the worlds of hedge funds and leveraged buyouts. On Wednesday, Fortress’s shares fell 25 percent to $1.87. The once-celebrated company has lost 89 percent of its market value over the last year."

Arthur Griffiths, the prominent Vancouver businessman who helped bring the Olympics to Vancouver, remains cheery : "There isn't a city in North America that wouldn't kill to be in the position Vancouver is, having the Olympics here in 2010, during the current economic crisis."
Developing, as they say...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Manley : Screw the coalition - go straight for collaboration

"As a Liberal, I believe the first step for my party is to replace Stéphane Dion as leader with someone whose first job is to rebuild the Liberal Party, rather than leading a coalition with the NDP.
His weakness probably fuelled the Conservative hubris that led to this fiasco in the first place.
But the first task should be to work collaboratively with all other parties to restore the confidence of Canadians in their Parliament."

~ John Manley in an editorial in today's G&M

I see. As a Liberal your advice is to ditch the coalition for a collaboration with the Cons, is it?

The only chance the coalition has to bring down Harper is before the next Speech to the Throne in January. Best you work on playing nice instead, says deep integrationist John Manley, as a Liberal. Feh.

OK, you all know the words by now - everyone sing along :

John Manley : Harper's hand-picked chair of last year's Afghanistan panel which sought to legitimize Canadian partipation in Operation Enduring Freedom, Canada Chair of the deep integration project, 2005 Independent Task Force on the Future of North America, and author of "Building A North American Community" for the US Council on Foreign Relations with Thomas d'Aquino of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and Robert A. Pastor the self-proclaimed father of the North American Union :

"The Task Force's central recommendation is establishment by 2010 of a North American economic and security community, the boundaries of which would be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter."

Next stop for Manley - IggyNation.

Dear leaders of the coalition : Obama-size now

It's time you guys put together an official coalition website and Impolitical has your front page image right here.
What we need from you now is an official source for quotes, breaking news and coalition events to counteract the Corporate Television Vehicle™ which will reliably continue to pump out every rumour and screw-up in the coalition because that's what they do.
Yes, you have your own party websites but Canadians need to be convinced this is more than party politics as usual. Yes, there's lots of grassroots groups doing this already but we need to see you to stand behind it.
Build it and the press will come. There's economists and constitutional experts writing interesting articles about the coalition every day. Publish them. We need pledge drives for when Steve goes for another election do-over. We need dates for the coalition townhalls you better be planning to have in your districts. We need, as Albertan proposed in comments, a one-stop source for :
"more letters to the editor, stacking of on-line polls, calls to talk radio, leaflets in the mail, phone calls to voters and other actions to pursuade the public that the future of Canada is at stake".
And we need it to be interactive - moderate those comments if you must - but let Canadians know you are listening by responding to at least some of them every day.
We need all this and we need it all in one place.
Obama-size now.
Here - I'll get you started with three killer quotes :
Coalition News From Away :

"Canada lost 70,600 jobs in November, about three times more than many economists had expected, Statistics Canada reported on Friday. It was the biggest decline in 26 years.

The news came just over a week after Canada’s Conservative government introduced an economic plan that offered little stimulus but featured cutbacks in government spending.
That approach puzzled many economists and contributed to political turmoil that led the government to shut down Parliament on Thursday to prevent its defeat."

Canada's parliamentary opposition reacted with outrage on Thursday after Prime Minister Stephen Harper shut down the legislature until Jan. 26, seeking to forestall a no-confidence vote that he was sure to lose.

"This really has been a blow to parliamentary democracy in Canada,” said Nelson Wiseman, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto. "It has lowered the status of the elected Parliament and raised the status of the unelected prime minister."

LA Times : Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads off defeat
"But the narrow escape from a crisis that was largely self- inflicted has badly scarred a prime minister already widely regarded as a bully, and reawakened a national unity crisis in a country where regional grievances are sometimes dormant but easily stirred.

"By padlocking the doors of Parliament when so many people in Canada are facing challenges, losing their homes, their jobs or their pensions, he's decided that his job is far more important than theirs," said [MP Brian] Masse."

Friday, December 05, 2008

To the coalition : Keep Meeting

Thousands of pro-coalition supporters protest on Parliament Hill after the Governor General agreed to suspend government until late January.

From Eric Finlay at POGGE :

To the coalition : Keep meeting.

Parliament has been prorogued. So you're not meeting in an official capacity. But nonetheless meet as if you were not prorogued.
Find a site. Pay for it yourselves, and be explicit about that. You're citizens meeting to speak. But in so doing, keep up the business of Parliament. Debate. Draft bills. Hold (unofficial) committee meetings. Vote... on memoranda of understanding.

Show the country, its citizens, and its investors that while you do not argue with the legality of the delay, you see no need to go on vacation in this crucial economic time. Assume (without even explicitly saying it) that in January when Parliament reconvenes, Harper will fall, the coalition will form government, and the memoranda of understanding and drafted bills will be dealt with, bang-bang-bang, because you have already hashed this out.

Invite the Conservatives to join you. If you get some momentum, you might get no few disgruntled members willing to bet that Harper's fury will not control their lives.

Let the Conservatives take an extended vactation. Shrink the proposed vacation period instead, to mark the severity of the economic need.

Make it plain that you do not dispute Her Excellency's right to consent to her nominal first minister's request to prorogue, and that you respect her for making a difficult decision in uncharted waters. Open each session with a consistent, well-crafted adaptation of protocol which is sufficiently distinct that it does not trespass upon Parliament's formal privileges... but that nonetheless shows clearly that you do this out of the uttermost respect for the Queen, the Governor General, and the Canadian people.

Repeat frequently that you're just trying to get work done now, so that things can happen fast when the doors unlock in January. It can't be trespass upon the privileges of government if its level of formality is that of a caucus meeting.

Be completely transparent. Defeat the smoke-filled rooms meme. Heck, hold it in a bar, if you can find one big enough.

The media will come to you. I can think of no more efficient way to stretch your advertising dollars than a bold, newsworthy stroke like this.

If you do this, I will donate to the limit of my ability. I will write letters to the editor praising your actions. I will take my four children and go door to door. In Edmonton. In December.

Pass it on.

Pass it on to your MP and the federal party leaders, or write one of your own but keep on these guys. The Corporate Television Vehicles™ are saying it's over. It isn't. We're just getting started.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Steve pulls the fire alarm and walks into the exam

GG says it's ok and grants him an eight week extension on his separatists and socialists topic.

"Following my advice, the Governor General has agreed to prorogue Parliament," Harper said outside Rideau Hall after a two-hour meeting with Jean."

Prorogue just means recess

but it still contains 'rogue'.
Proroguing is trying to stop your government from falling by cancelling Parliament to avoid a non-confidence vote, or as Justin Trudeau put it : "pulling the fire alarm before you go into an exam you know you're going to fail."
If the Governor-General grants Harper's request, technically he has up to a year to recall Parliament.

While we're all hanging around Kady's this morning, waiting to see if the GG is going to grant Steve his big re-election do-over, let's just take a moment to talk about do-overs in general.

So Steve. Where exactly was your astrologer cum make-up stylist last night?
You have a winter, nay, a zombie palette, Steve. Stay clear of lipsticks with names like Majority Red or Red in Tooth and Claw. Also trowels - it's ok to be pro-rouge, but only just enough to cover your base....

Oh ye gods, Steve's fire alarm just went off.
GG says he doesn't have to write the exam after all.
And naturally he's calling it "the will of Canadians".

HarperCons : Well, it's different when we do it

From Harper's televized election campaign ad to the nation tonight :
"The opposition is attempting to impose this deal without your say, without your consent and without your vote. This is no time for backroom deals with the separatists. A coalition with separatists cannot help Canada."

Tuesday, CTV : Stockwell Day, Minister of Hyperbole :
"The brutal fact here is that something has happened that has never happened before in Canadian history. And that is two federal leaders have actually signed a deal with a separatist party whose goal it is to destroy the country."

Wednesday, G&M : Bloc part of secret coalition plot in 2000 with Canadian Alliance
"A document obtained by The Globe and Mail shows that the scheme would have propelled then Alliance leader Stockwell Day to power in the coalition

The Bloc Québécois was part of secret plotting in 2000 to join a formal coalition with the two parties that now make up Stephen Harper's government.
At the time, the Alliance was ready to fly Mr. Day from his BC riding to Calgary to pick up Mr. [Joe] Clark on the way to Ottawa, where the deal was to be presented to the Governor-General in the event of a minority Parliament."

Wednesday, The Star : Stockwell Day : "My DNA would never allow me to do a deal with the socialists and my heart would never allow me to do a deal with the separatists," Day said, claiming he never saw or heard about the document until last night.

But minutes later, a BQ official handed out the letter sent by Day.
It proposed "a new consensus government" that would be led by "Stockwell Day as Prime Minister of Canada."
It referenced talks that had been held on ministers' jobs, a speech from the throne, and what support the BQ would provide, as well as Joe Clark, then-leader of the PC party."

Plus there was Harper's own attempted deal with the Bloc in 2004 when he was trying to unseat the minority government of Paul Martin.

And yet somehow the HarperCons expect us to be appalled and frightened that the present coalition is doing out in plain sight of everyone the same thing the Cons did in secret.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The separatists are coming! The separatists are coming!

Late in from a media-free day at work and I'm cooking and trying to catch up with the late news on the TV in the next room - all in all the less than ideal conditions under which most Canadians receive their news - and this is what I hear : blah blah separatists blah blah socialists blah blah Bloc blah separatists, separatists, separatists ... And I'm guessing that's all that much of the rest of Canada heard today too.

Seriously, what's with all this nonsense about separatists? We know why Harper is doing it - re-inflating himself by sowing discord as usual - but what the fuck was with the rest of you wanker pundits smirking and rolling your eyes on CPAC tonight?

The Bloc is a regional party looking out for Quebec interests. Less than a third of people who vote Bloc support separation. Their platform strongly promotes worker's rights, the Kyoto Accord, same-sex marriage, the right to abortion, decriminalization of marijuana, and was vehemently opposed to any Canadian participation in the Iraq War. They're social democrats.
So it's pretty clear why the Cons fear them. What's your excuse?

All the news that fits the spin

So how's our national media doing with this coalition thing?
Not the Ezra/Frum nutter fringe, but the reporters and pundits Canada normally relies on to tell us about the world.
Headlines from yesterday and today :

Don Martin : Led by a loser, bound by the Bloc
It's a personal putsch, not a rational rebellion

Greg Weston : Stooges stage coup
Professor, socialist and separatist make their foolish move

Nat Post : Unholy alliance

G&M : A coalition in a time of economic tumult? No thank you

Ottawa Citizen : Coup d'état, Canadian-style

Ottawa Citizen : We're a silly country with petty leaders

McParland: Liberal coalition could make Canada a colony of Quebec

George Jonas : A mockery of democracy

Barbara Yaffe : Will coalition shut out B.C.?
Coalition with Bloc on board unlikely to fly

With CTV, NaPo and all the Sun papers shitting bricks every hour on the hour as well , it seems a good time to remember who owns and controls what you know ...

CanWest Global owns 11 of Canada's biggest dailies including the National Post, the Montreal Gazette, the Ottawa Citizen and the Vancouver Sun and Province.
CTVglobemedia owns CTV and its 24 affiliates, The Globe and Mail, and 35 radio stations across the country.

... and how much faith you're willing to put in whatever else they tell you about the world.

Bonus : From the G&M's Oct 9, 2008 editorial endorsement of Steve for PM : Harper is growing into the job :
"Two anxieties, neither wholly irrational, have attached themselves to Stephen Harper in his years as a contender for and holder of the top political office in the land.
The first is that he is a right-wing ideologue, badly out of sync with mainstream Canadian values and sentiments.
The second is that he is possessed by a mean-spirited and controlling nature; that his emotional intelligence isn't up to his mental level. "
"He has gotten the big things right."

Um, yeah.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Reality vs Steve ... and Chuck and Jim too apparently

Steve in QP today:

"Mr. Speaker, yesterday, as part of the culmination of the machinations of the leader of the NDP, we had these three parties together forming this agreement, signing a document, and they would not even have the Canadian flag behind them. They had to be photographed without it.

They had to be photographed without it because a member of their coalition does not even believe in the country. As Prime Minister it is not my responsibility to turn the keys of power over to a group like that."

... *blink* ... *blink*...

Update : Kady reports Chuck Strahl and Jim Prentice both backed him up on this afterwards at a post-QP scrum, despite the fact there were pictures of Dion, Duceppe, and Harper signing the agreement in front of at least three different Canadian flags on the front pages of papers right across the country.

At least Jim seemed to knowing he was working it - tried to get away with it and then admitted, "The point is there were not only Canadian flags behind the opposition parties."

No, Jim, there were also provincial flags, as usual, which is not at all the same thing as "they would not even have a Canadian flag behind them".

You guys are really losing it.

A Canadian coalition

Good going, you guys.
A couple of years ago I was listening to a member of a Mexican opposition party talk about his experience of being part of forming a left to centre-left coalition. It took 20 years, he said.
Various leaders had agreed to present a united front on the issues they needed each other's support for while still maintaining each party's independence. A good idea but it didn't take.
It wasn't until enough of their grassroots supporters became involved in both arguing their differences and defending the coalition at the same time that it began to work.
I hope we're up to it.
April Reign made a great "Supporting the Coalition for Change" button on a transparent background which you can find over on the sidebar. Here's the code if you would like to display it too - just enclose it in these brackets < >
img src="http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o184/bloggingchange/coalitionbutton.png" alt="Support the Coalition" border="0" /
April's design is based on the original Coalition Bloggers badge which you can download here, for those who would prefer not to include party logos.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Emma the Embryo and Steve's FU fans

Gilles Duceppe in the HoC on Steve's Nov 27 Fiscal Update :
"The government has decided to take advantage of the crisis to attack the rights of women and workers. The government is proposing to suspend public servants' right to strike. It has decided to attack women's rights by submitting their right to pay equity to negotiation. Since when are rights negotiable? It is scandalous. We will never accept such an attack by the government on women's and workers' rights. We will never allow it."

Dear Con talk show shlocktroops

and "every tool" in Guy Giorno's toolbox, aka "All Conservative Members of Parliament" :
If it was ok for Harper, Layton, and Duceppe to write to the GG in Sept 2004 and "respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders", then why are you now all huffy about "backroom deals", referring to the possibility of "a coalition you didn't vote for" as a coup?
Did Layton only become a "socialist" and Duceppe a "seperatist", as most of you seem to prefer to spell it, some time after 2004?
Also, in your comments at NaPo and CBC, where Layton has now become a full-fledged "communist", your outrage that the Bloc is "only out to destroy Canada by separating" would seem considerably more credible if you didn't respond to this perceived threat to Canadian unity with a threat of your own to resuscitate the western separation movement. Just sayin' ...

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