Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Let's also do the math: My car has an 18 gallon tank. Federal tax is currently something like 19 cents/gallon. For me, that's a $3.42 saving per fill up. How about we just give everyone a free Starbucks latte instead?
And, I'm sorry--Americans already have the lowest gas prices in the world. What, Americans, do you think you have a god-given right to have cheap gas and drive huge fuel-inefficient cars for eternity? As far as I'm concerned, higher gas prices are a good thing, since if people finally start realizing that fuel efficiency and public transit are good things, we might actually see more of those (and we can take away the stupid campaign shills of "reduce our dependence on foreign oil.")
And also, how pathetic of you saying you're there for the working man? Listening to you try to empathize with some guy who lost his job, when you've never been laid off in your life? [Full disclosure, nor have I. But I don't hide my elitism.]
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Cheney is claiming that he is utterly immune from any sort of congressional oversight.
As sad as this evidence that we have become an autocracy, what is worse is that I think the administration and its gang can get away with the insanity (including Cheney's conflicting claims as to what part of government he is) because the American people are either too stupid or too apathetic to actually care about the descent into totalitarianism.
Cheney has refused to let anyone from his office testify as to the authorization of torture. To which Conyers replied:
Presumably, you believe that whatever actions you took were necessary and comported with the law; in such circumstances, I cannot imagine why you would decline to appear and set the record straight. The American people deserve no less.
The Republicans will burn in hell for letting Bush get away with this for 6 years, but the Democrats will be right behind them for having been such pussies for those 6 years.
Can we talk about food crises?
Can we talk about the appalling deficit that no one seems to care is going to sink the economy? (I recall back when Canada was running deficits the WSJ suggested we were on the bring of being 3d world. Um.)
Can we talk about Bush's stupid statement today that he has sent all sorts of proposals to Congress to fix the economy? And that he's claiming it's the Democrats' fault?
Can we talk about health care?
Can we talk about Iraq?
No. Bowling scores matter more than policy.
And that the masses seem to lap this shit up only speaks to their stupidity and that voting should be restricted to those who actually understand the issues.
Greenwald gets it right:
I think the most important thing to note about the Jeremiah Wright Story is that we're a Nation plagued by exceedingly few significant problems; blessed with a quite healthy political culture and very trusted political and media institutions; composed of a citizenry that is peacefully content with its Government and secure and confident about their future; endowed with a supremely sturdy economic foundation free of debt and other grave economic afflictions; vested with the ability to command great respect and admiration from the other nations of the world; emancipated by the burdens of war and intractable conflicts which have toppled and destroyed so many other great nations of the past; and, most of all, we're becoming freer and more prosperous by the minute.
. . .
So it isn't as though we really have anything else to talk about besides Jeremiah Wright. There are some countries in the world -- probably most -- which have so many big problems that they could ill-afford to devote much time and energy to a matter of this sort. Thankfully, the United States isn't one of them. I believe it's critical that we keep that in mind as we discuss him for the next seven months.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Seriously, I have no faith in the Democratic party to get this election right. We couldn't win an election against Bush, who ranks among the worst presidents ever (something we knew in 2004). Against McCain, who lacks his baggage, with all the current infighting and the inevitable disillusionment that will result from the losing camp, I don't think we have a prayer.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
It was the Conservatives who stood up in Parliament recklessly smeared the arbiter of our remarkably fair and trusted elections process, and suggested this was all part of a Liberal-RCMP-CBC-Elections Canada conspiracy. Just as the Conservatives have accused any and all respected institutions in this country who dare stand up to them (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for example) of being part of some vast left-wing conspiracy.
When she isn't writing yet another column bashing Dion, (a full chronicling of her obsession here), Hebert is either cynically dismissing Conservative scandals as inconsequential or shooting the messenger who first brought them to light.
Chantal, this blog's days of respecting your opinion are over. And let's not get started on your hair.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Conversely, should she [Clinton] win by 10 points or more, the race could fundamentally change at this late hour and the Illinois senator's inability to win another large state, which will loom large in the 2008 general election, will give Clinton an enormous boost for a final sprint.This makes absolutely zero sense. It's not as bad as Clinton arguing that because she won California and New York, she should be the nominee (after all, I could run against the McCain in CA and NY and win--these two states are Democratic. Period), but it's up there. Because in case it hadn't occurred to anyone, the primary is a contest between two Democratic candidates--not against McCain. The issue is not whether Obama can beat Clinton in PA, but whether he (or she) can beat McCain. The "inability to win another large state" is meaningless when the only contestants are the same party.
Clinton leads among hunters, bowlers (after a stunningly bad bowling photo-op by Obama) and gun owners, the two are tied among beer drinkers (after Clinton's shot with a beer chaser in Indiana).
If this isn't an argument for restricting suffrage, I don't know what is. So Clinton suggests that she used to go hunting (really? I'm calling shenanigans on that one) and so people who hunt vote for her. And Obama has a bad day bowling and suddenly he'll make a worse president? To be honest, I would rather my president be very bad at bowling, because that suggests too much time spent in the bowling alley and not enough time doing things like, say, learning policy. The beer thing is nonsense.
We are in the current disaster that we are facing (i.e. 7 years of Dubya) precisely because people cared about these issues. Dubya was the guy who you could sit and have a beer with. He was "one of the guys" (which, of course, was demonstrably false: he was no more one of the guys than anyone else who'd lived off Daddy's money and going to private schools his whole life). He was in touch with "the common man." He hunted. He has a ranch. He was a dude.
Forget that he had almost no meaningful experience in government. Forget that my parents' dogs have been out of the country more times than he had. Forget that he was semi-literate and barely articulate. None of that mattered, because he was just a regular guy, and we all just want regular guys to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world.
Screw it. From now on, let's just randomly select the president. And no one with any sort of non-working-class background can be involved in the lottery.
UPDATE: An exceptional article from Andrew Cohen.
Some choice bits:
It's hard to get elected president if you're seen to be too smart. George W. Bush, who is the money and name of the elite, won twice when charm trumped intellect. He was reassuringly simple. Al Gore was seen as wooden and brainy. John Kerry spoke French, wore a field coat and rode a windsurfer. Both lost, and so did America.
C.V. Wedgwood--one of the greatest historians of the 20th Century who, sadly, isn't widely known--made this exact point in an essay (which I can't find online)--that we should want out leaders to be people we look up to. We should want truly exceptional people running our governments and our institutions.
When the Roosevelts, Wilson, Kennedy and Clinton got into office, all were kinder to the poor than to the rich. On the other hand, the soothing Ronald Reagan and the brush-clearing Mr. Bush cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Neither was accused of championing the underclass.
The question, then, isn't who is a member of the elite and who is not, as measured by whom you'd prefer to have a beer with - the reason, it is said, that the amiable Mr. Bush was elected twice.
The president should come from among the elite - on the assumption that the people deserve the candidate with the most experience, the best judgment and the greatest ability to lead - none of which implies arrogance or aloofness.
Sadly, that seems to be forgotten in the US.
This is a wonderful, bumper-sticker faux solution that looks like it's doing something when it actually is not. Where on earth is the actual showing that finger printing every last visitor to the United States when they leave the country will do anything to make the country any safer? This is as bad as making us throw out water bottles or take our shoes off--measures that somehow make it look like the government is doing something, while not doing anything substantive. It makes housewives in Nebraska happy, but I can't see in any way what it will do.
Other than, of course, decrease tourism.
And the cost?
The overall economic impact on companies, passengers and the government is expected to exceed $3.5 billion, industry lobbyists said, at a time when carriers are struggling with safety concerns, high fuel costs and passenger complaints.So we're concerned with our airlines going bankrupt, with rising costs, and the fact that domestic air travel is misery (paying for your drinks and your peanuts, paying extra for basically everything), and we're going to drop a $3.5 billion dollar surcharge on consumers?
Friday, April 18, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Stephen Fletcher, taking a question on a safe-injection site in Vancouver. "As I mentioned, Mr. Speaker, our government will review the research very carefully. No decision has been made. However, as I have the floor, I am reminded that the Liberal Party and its leader have no policy, no leadership and no vision for the country. That is why the people said no to a Liberal government."And, for the record, the question was from Libby Davis--who isn't even a Liberal!
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Witness this wonderful exchange between MHF and Jim Prentice.
Mr. Speaker, the numbers speak for themselves. Why is the Conservative government doing nothing to stem the slow death of the 250,000 strong well-paying jobs we have in Ontario, jobs created by the up to now innovative and world leading auto sector?
Um. I don't seem to recall MHF asking about the bridge. As she herself noted:
Crazy. They all just have their talking points in the Government and no matter what the question, the talking point comes out.
Can you name its capital?
Can you tell us when China occupied it?
When China occupied it, was it a thriving multi-cultural democracy, or a feudal backwater?
I know saying "Free Tibet" is all very trendy, but really, if you're protesting, it would be great if you actually knew what your issue was. Because it seems to me that so many of the "Free Tibet" types are a bit like pageant queens who always say they want "World Peace"--it's a mantra you can invoke to look like you're Cool and Caring and Sensitive.
None of this is to say that I think China's a good country or that it should have the Olympics. Far from it, as I said a while ago. Hairy Fish Nuts has a good point too. ("Learn the lesson tyrants and dictators, make the West some money and you can do whatever you like. Poor Saddam all he had to do was open some Nike factories and he'd be gassing Kurds to his black heart's content.")
But there are far more reasons to protest China getting them than simply the Tibetan issue.
You can also bet that if China weren't the place everyone needs money from and is a big-ass market, the fact it's not a democracy would have derailed it nicely. Honestly, if we actually cared about these things, the IOC would put forward criteria for being an Olympic host: Stable democracy, respect for the rule of law and human rights (Sorry, USA, you'd be out), etc etc etc.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
So why on earth do we tolerate militias in Iraq?
I know the issue is far more complicated, but surely the only real way to stabilize Iraq is to ensure that the national government can project its power and enforce its laws. As it stands now, anyone who gets enough followers and enough guns can effectively defy the state. That doesn't really lead to stability, where any group can ignore laws as it sees fit (particularly when the groups are split along religious or ethnic lines.)
Europe in the 30s would be an instructive example. But then, our current leaders don't seem to care about learning from the past. Or from, say, fact.
Monday, April 07, 2008
He takes Valpy to task for his column which basically suggests that Dion has to become more of a politician--i.e. to jettison his policy-based approach, jettison exactly the reason why he was selected in favour of a more-American style focus on sound bites and dashing images.
It speaks in most part for itself, but one exchange deserves to be singled out.
Valpy wrote this drivel:
But it's Mr. Dion's comportment that is considered the black hole of his problems. Environics' Michael Adams puts it bluntly: “This man has to be more masculine. He has to think about how to be more masculine" ... And it is Stephen Harper, not Stéphane Dion, who is seen as having carved out the territory of the archetypal male.
[WTF? More "masculine"? We're talking about Prime Ministers of Canada, not army generals or football commentators or something. Do we really care? And is chubby Stephen Harper, who probably can't even grow a beard and hasn't seen his own dick over his belly in years, really all that masculine? Is this how we should pick our PM--based on what kind of a jock he is? The Americans tried that one and look how they ended up.]
Michael Adams is probably a very smart man. But this is likely the most dispiriting assessment of politics in Canada this century. If leadership has been reduced to a question of manhood, then we are even more silly a society than previously imagined. For a good chuckle, turn the question around. How big of a man do we really think Mr. Harper to be? Does anyone believe him to have ever thrown a punch in his life? Perhaps to settle this we should demand our prospective political leaders proactively disclose their penis size.
[For our American readers, the "maybe he should strangle someone" is in reference to this.]
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Homosexuality is a perversion of sexuality no different from pedophilia. Homosexuals are obsessed with putting the genitals where they don't belong. It's a sin.
Right and wrong is NOT determined by public opinion nor personal opinion. Homosexuality is wrong and that's a universal, immutable, objective truth.
Well then. At least this guy can spell.
While I could take apart the comment, I'll let its stupidity stand for itself, save to say this: I knew I was gay not because of where I wanted to stick my dick (and trust me, that was very much the LAST thing I ever wanted to do back when I was 15), but because of who I became emotionally attracted to.
Friday, April 04, 2008
Thursday, April 03, 2008
However, the Globe today came out swinging, and I agree:
Even if the Conservatives wish only to string Quebeckers along with vague promises, they risk creating a national melee that would include aboriginals, provinces outside Quebec and various interest groups seeking new powers. It is hubris to think that any government or party can control the terms of this fraught debate. Out of former prime minister Brian Mulroney's failed Meech Lake Accord (1987) and his failed Charlottetown Accord (1992), came the 1995 Quebec referendum in which the sovereigntists fell just a few thousand votes short of a majority. More recently, when Liberal leadership hopeful Michael Ignatieff inflamed nationalist passions not quite two years ago by setting out the elements of future constitutional reform, those emotions inexorably gathered force, a momentum not lost until the House of Commons recognized the "Québécois" as a nation within Canada.Lawrence Martin is a little more pragmatic, observing (alas, subscription needed) that Quebec dominates political thinking far more than it should:
The PM's Quebec preoccupation is driven by politics, of course. Mr. Harper doesn't see many potential gains toward his majority in the West and so concentrates where he sees the most available seats.
The preoccupation is also driven by the media. Quebec still supplies many of the country's key commentators. The obsessive coverage of Liberal missteps in Quebec, a province that is no longer even close to being the party's bread and butter, is the most recent example. Ontario towers over Quebec as an electoral prize. British Columbia is big and fluid. But they rarely rate a mention.
And notes that this might help the other parties:
Although many in the media have wrongly been predicting the demise of the Bloc Québécois for the past decade, there is a larger possibility this time that it can be overtaken. To do so, Mr. Harper must have his party appear as sympathetic to Quebec nationalism as possible.So perhaps there is a hidden silver lining. We shall see.
It's dangerous, though, pollster Nik Nanos was saying yesterday. It opens the door for the other parties to paint the Conservatives as pandering to separatists. One of these days, even Western Canadians, as docile as they've been, might get exercised over that kind of thing.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
OTTAWA — The Harper government is telling Quebec that if the Conservatives win a majority in the next election, they will look to reopen the Constitution and give more meaning to their recognition of Quebeckers as a nation.
Emphasizing the Conservative receptiveness to “Quebec's historical demands,” Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn raised the possibility of winning 30 to 40 seats in the province, up from the current 11.
I was a teenager during the Mulroney constitutional wars, and I remember just how divisive special status for Quebec was. I can't imagine it would be any better now.