Thursday, November 30, 2006

The 51st State Strategy


Howard Dean came to the Great White North yesterday.......

MONTREAL — The most wide-open Liberal leadership convention in a generation opened Wednesday, with a pep-rally style speech in the evening by U.S. politician Howard Dean.

He told about 2,500 delegates at the Palais de Congres in Montreal that opposition political parties — such as his in the United States and theirs in Canada — can win elections by going after every vote.

“Whether it is the Liberal Party or the Democratic Party, we should never cede a single region or province, never cede a single state or city. Nor should we ever cede a single voter. Not a single one,” Dr. Dean said.

“It is a mark of respect for the voters that we ask each one for their vote regardless of the likelihood of getting it. This is what we call the 50-state strategy.”

The Democrats' “50-state strategy” paid off in mid-term elections earlier this month, giving the party control over both houses of the Congress.

And while there were no reports of any 'screams', it appears that Mr. Dean may actually have stepped it up another octave or two into a range that drives all of the yellow dogs from Fox News absolutely bonkers.

Because Dean spoke, wait for it.......



What will James Carville and the Wilting Dem's of Beltway (no)Ball(s) Society have to say about that I wonder?

Original Link Source on HoDo's verbal freedom fries from Chet of The Vanity Press.
And if you wanna see a true picture of all that is active about the 51st State and Main, check the following out, courtesy of Cliff at Rusty Idols. (and don't miss the 'coach').


Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Never Ending Story


This may come as a surprise to some of you, especially those that read the screeds I post up here regularly, but I'm actually not a bad teacher.

Although, just to be clear right up front, the kids I get paid to teach these days are not actually kids.

That's because I deal mostly with students who are doing their best to get into professional school, or some reasonable facsimile thereof.

Which means that, on the whole, they are a serious and seriously driven bunch.

But please do not be fooled; my ability to teach Type 'A' personalities reasonably effectively has absolutely nothing to do with my own extremely serious and ridiculously long bouts of training at fancy-schmancy institutes of higher learning.

Quite the contrary, actually.

Because, if you really want to know, everything I ever learned about teaching I learned at summer camp.


A lot happened to me while I worked my undergraduate summers at a little gem of a place located high in the Sooke Hills on the southwestern edge of Vancouver Island.

Not the least of which was once wowing a fellow counsellor-in-training with a little bit of chivalry that involved an offer to take a long walk through a shallow pond while we both pretended we knew how to use a compass.

But that's a whole other story.

And so is the story of how I invented a bogus fitness activity called 'Fat Belly Hour' which my cabin group and I used to successfully bamboozle the camp quartermaster into forking over dozen or so bags of marshmallows that we devoured while wallowing in the shallow end of the swimming area pretending to be high-altitude beluga whales.

Which is just another way of saying that if you want to survive as a camp counsellor, suspending disbelief with a wink and a nudge is the only way to go.

Because there is nothing that kids like better than feeling that they, too, are in on the joke right from the start.

Except for one thing that is.

And that is when you manage to convince them that you are on their side.

Unfortunately, unlike pond walks and fat belly hours, that is something you can't fake and you actually have to work at.

Which brings me to that infamous early Bill Murray vehicle called 'Meatballs' which was a B-grade movie that centered around the life and times of the fictional Camp Northstar.

And fictional is a very good way of describing just about everything thing about that movie, including the ludicrous tales of the 'CIT's So Serious', the stupid intercamp rivalries, the non-stop panty raids, the bad food, and, most of all, Mr. Murray's insane antics.

But there was one bit in the movie that still rings true for me.

And that is the 'Vegas' scene.

In that vignette, counsellor Murray tracks down a kid in a diner that has just bolted down the camp road because he figures nobody likes him.

After bumming a few fries, Murray nonchalantly asks the kid if he's going to Vegas.


Because, as Murray explains:

"If you're going to Vegas, I would be up for it because I love that town."

In spite of himself, the kid laughs.

And it is in that fleeting moment that the camp counsellor begins the process of showing the kid that he is on his side.

And, of course, after that everything comes up aces; end of story.

But it is not quite the end of this particular story.......


Now, it's not always easy to remember that the survival tricks you learned as a callow, snot-nosed 22 year old at summer camp can actually come in handy when you are dealing with kids of your own.

Take last Thursday night, for instance.

It was a madhouse at our place as usual. Little E., the seven year old, was blasting the soundtrack from 'My Fair Lady' while she danced madly in front of the living room funhouse mirror. In contrast, our thirteen year old daughter E. was pretty upset.

E. had a ton of the cursed highschool homework to do and she was giving C., her mom who also just happens to be that young girl with the compass from days gone by, a pretty hard time about it.

At this point in the story it's important to let you know that since school ended earlier that afternoon C. had already dealt with swimming class, piano lessons, and a trip to the Buy-Low. Then she rushed the crew home, cooked the dinnner, did the dictee, took care of the recycling, made a bunch of calls on behalf of the school choir, and suddenly found herself face-to-face with E.'s full metal meltdown when I finally walked in the door, late - again.

On the defensive and feeling inadequate, I immediately morphed into hard-core authoritarian Dad and began laying down the law with impunity.

Which worked fantastically.

For about 3 minutes.

Then all hell broke loose.

C. had to step back in and institute a forced truce of Golanian Heights proportions that sent everyone to their neutral corners.

About three hours later E. finally managed to finish her homework.

By then Little E. was fast asleep with yet another tooth for the fairy in a tiny treasure box at her bedside.

C. was in her pajamas and she was either reading Anne-Marie Macdonald or watching that wretched E.R. on the TV - I'll be darned if I can remember which.

And when I emerged from my subterranean blues room (ie. the basement cubbyhole where I compose these screeds) E.'s bedroom light was still on.

We hadn't spoken since the blow-up and I was tempted to leave her alone until morning.

But then, luckily for both of us, my heart softened and I knocked even more softly on her door.

She was hunched over her desk pretending to read her science textbook while she listened to the Ramones on her I-Pod.

My opening gambit was to ask her what she was doing in math these days.

She had a tough time explaining it precisely, but it sounded like it might have something to do with that dastardly distributive principle of multiplication and addition.

Which brought Grade 9 rushing back to me all over again.

So I explained to E. how I almost failed Grade 9 math because I was enrolled in one of those faddish 'work at your own pace' courses that were so popular in the middle '70's. Then I told her how my Dad bailed me out by stepping in and setting some ground rules that helped me get my homework done every night for about two weeks until I started passing tests again.

And that was all it took.

Pretty soon she was telling me about her own trials and tribulations as a kid in her first year of highschool.

Then I asked her to tell me what was really bugging her.

It turned out to be quite simple actually. She had been planning to go to a movie the next night, Friday, with a bunch of her new friends, but that had fallen through for reasons that still aren't entirely clear to me. The point is, though, that, regardless the reason, E. was devastated by this teenage turn of events.

So we devised a plan. She would call up one of the new friend kids and work something out. For my part, I promised to take them to any movie at any theater, within reason, within a 30 mile radius.

And I did.

The next night Little E. and I drove her big sister and her friend Z. to Tinseltown which is multiplex on the edge of Chinatown so that they could go see that new flick about dancing penquins or some such thing.

I have no idea if there are any Vegas scenes in that movie because, as you might have already guessed, the third part of the deal was that Little E. and I could not actually got to the movie ourselves.

This much I do know - trying to explain to your seven year old, even in fictionally conspiratorial candy-coated terms, what the characters who are ranting and raving as they roam the streets of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside are really up to on a rainy Friday night in the middle of November just might be one of the most difficult tasks I've faced as a Dad so far.

But that too, like the time I took a trip to Vegas in a Motel Slant-Six to have breakfast on the Colorado Rockies, is another one of those stories that I hope will get better with the passing of time.

And if does I just might tell it to you sometime.


Just for the record: The image is of E. in a gorilla suit on Chatham Island just south of Victoria B.C. The suit and the idea were provided by our good friend G., who just happens to have been another of the counsellors at the above described summer camp. However, the 'Gorilla Of The Gulf' is an entirely different story that only E. herself knows for sure.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Screed That Served Us All


There's an old saying that freedom of the press is only assured for the man that owns one.

But perhaps that should be updated to include the man who 'controls' one.

Which, I guess, one could argue is the purview of rogue dictators and the Rovians.

But what about Canadian Prime Ministers who lecture Asian leaders about how important 'free speech' is to all Canadians?

From Saturday's (Nov18/06) Globe and Mail

HANOI — Prime Minister Stephen Harper kept himself under wraps yesterday as his officials worked to defuse a growing list of controversies such as whether to meet with China's President, the ouster of a Chinese diplomat from Canada and how to respond to new proposals to combat global warming.

Mr. Harper and his staff took aggressive control of the agenda after a reporter threw a question at him as he was being greeted by his Vietnamese counterpart yesterday morning. Mr. Harper is in the Vietnamese capital to attend a weekend summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum, but arrived early to take part in bilateral meetings with other leaders.

The question thrown to Mr. Harper prior to his meeting with the Vietnamese leader had to do with the Chinese foreign ministry's comments that it was irresponsible to interfere in China's domestic affairs.

Canadian reporters found themselves barred from the rest of Mr. Harper's events yesterday, including a photo opportunity with Canadian youth and a dinner with his friend and ideological ally, Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

So, if the press was barred from the proceedings, how do we actually know that Mr. Harper actually told the Vietnmamese PM how much import we, the Canuckistani people, place on free speech and, by implication, a free press?

Because, as Anthony Germain told us on last night's CBC 'World-at-Six', Mr. Harper's Chief-Rovian-In-Training, Sandra Buckler, was good enough to wheel in an 'unamed government official' who told the no-longer-free press just that.

Mr. Germain was also good enough to tell us that when Mr. Harper turned to the TV cameras before the dinner with Mr. Howard and said he wanted to speak 'to the media' about how he is going to focus on energy and the environment at the APEC meeting there were, of course, no actual media there. In fact, while it looked on TV like there was a news conference going on Mr. Germain noted that the only people in the room were Mr. Harper's wife Loreen, the Howards, PMO staff, the TV cameraman, and Mr. Harper's official photographer*.

Mr. Germain, also went into considerable detail about how there was to be a 10:00 pm press briefing when all was said and done. But then the story about Karl's man in Vietnam asking his buddy Steve-O to send our warships to North Korea broke and the entire thing was cancelled.

So, when midnight rolled around the fully-cowed and penned Mr. Germain finally asked himself, his producers, and his audience if:

'it was possible to do this story without sounding like it was a self-serving screed by a
frustrated journalist?'

As one Canadian in the audience who believes that free speech is an unalienable right rather than a political point scoring tool I would answer Mr. Germain with a most definitive yes.

*Must admit, that last one had me wondering.....was it officially a 'still' one or a leniversion photog?
If you would like to keep up on non-stop the machinations of Ms. Buckler and Mr. Harper, don't forget to check out Alison's ongoing series at Creekside.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sometimes, The Rich.....

....Really Are Like You And Me


The big news around town today was the announcement that the Aquilini family bought-out Seattle bazillionare John McCaw to acquire total ownership control of the Vancouver Canucks and the barn they play in, General Hummer's Place.

All of which has been greeted with high-pitched hosanahs from the area's sports pundtwits because it means that a local family is once again in control of the city's NHL franchise.

And with each report the twitterers invariably mention the Canuckeheadland's first family, the Griffiths.

But only in passing.

As such, they rarely mention is that it was papa Frank Griffiths that acquired the team in the '70's and that he worked hard to make it into a local institution, even when it was losing, which was often, while he simultaneously built a communications empire which, at it's peak, consisted of ten television and twelve radio stations which included Vancouver market leaders BCTV and CKNW.

And what the twittering tweety birds mention even more rarely* is the fact that it Frank's son, Arthur Griffiths actually 'lost' rather than willingly 'sold' the hockey team.

So, how did that happen?

Well, nobody but Arthur and his accountants know for sure, but the best accounts make it very difficult not to conclude that the younger Griffiths over-extended himself when he borrowed huge sums, hand-over-fist, to build a new arena and bring the ill-fated NBA Grizzlies franchise to town.

Then, when the loans started coming due Arthur tried to bail himself out by selling off the family's communication assets, but when that wasn't enough he turned to an old-school-tie friend from his youth, a very fine-fellow named John McCaw to bail him out.

McCaw happily obliged and then, almost immediately the real squeeze play began in earnest. As a result, within three years Arthur lost his grip on the hockey team entirely and he was thrown out of his office at GM Place.

Anyway, this morning on my way to work I heard an interview with Mr. Griffiths the Younger on one of the local radio stations his family didn't use to own. And to his credit he was gracious in his comments about the McCaw era and his limited involvement in it.

He also had some very insightful things to say about how things have changed since his family owned the Canucks and the new market pressures the Aquilinis will face.

At the end of the interview Griffiths was asked what he is up to now. He replied that he is in the web streaming business.

'Hmmmmm - interesting, he must be building a 'new media' empire,' I mumbled to myself.

Then, with a little further prodding, Arthur went on to say that his latest 'exciting' projects include the streaming of images from a set of webcams placed near the resident grizzly bears on Grouse Mountain and the webcast of a local nightclub act.

'Wow!', I thought, 'that sounds almost as lucrative as this blog'.

Which just goes to show you, F. Scott Fitzgerald can't be right all of the time.



From the credit where credit is due dep't: Ian MacIntyre in the Sun had a pretty good barebones summary of Arthur Griffiths' downfall.

In the comments Scout points out that Arthur is actually trying to cash in on the Hornby Island eagle's nest thing which his company got involved in on the back end. So maybe I'm being too harsh. After all, perhaps lightning, and pet rocks, really do strike twice.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Extremism On Crack


Yesterday we noted that the the current leaders of the U.S. Republican party have fostered a climate of sociopathic non-tolerance that encourages brutishness, ignorance and hate-based intimidation.

The example cited involved a group of 'patriots' who used intimidatory surveillance and unconcealed handguns in an attempt to discourage Latinos from voting at polling places in Arizona.

Well, Cliff at Rusty Idols now has more information about the perpetrators, one of whom has been linked to a well-known anti-immigrant group called the 'Border Guardians' by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

By all accounts the 'Border Guardians' are a more extreme version of the Minutemen, the vigilantes with guns that have been encouraged at every opportunity by George W. Bush and the Republican Party.

It is not a pretty picture, and if the SPL piece is not bad enough, many of the comments attached to a story in the Tuscon Citizen describing yesterday's events are enough to make any thinking person shudder.

And when you see stuff like this it is hard not to come to the conclusion that such extremism is actually the fourth generation offspring of first Lee Atwater's, and then Roger Ailes', and now, finally, Karl Rove's so-called 'genius'.

Joseph Goebbels, I'm quite certain, would be very proud indeed.

And if you would like to see an example of how these folks attempt to intimidate up close and personal, check out the first comment left on the thread to Cliff's post itself.
Update: David Neiwart has the entire ugly story, with full background, up at Orcinus.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

We All Owe Michael J. Fox Now

..........Late night, Tues Nov. 7th, 2006

(updates below)

The fate of the free world tonight came down to a previously obscure Senate race in the southern U.S. State of Missouri.

I say previously obscure because this is the race that Michael J. Fox made famous by supporting the Democrat, a woman, Clair McCaskill because she had the guts to make Stem Cell Research an integral part of her platform.

The TV ad that Fox made was no-nonsense, hard-hitting, eloquent and uplifting all rolled into one.

In other words, it was what American exceptionalism once was and can still become again.

And for all that Rush Limbaugh and the Screamers lambasted Mr. Fox, most venomously by flat-out stating that he was faking the symptoms of his advancing Parkinson's disease.

The latter actions were the polar opposite of exceptional. In fact, they are all that is banal, brutish, and wrong with what America has become but does not have to continue to be. And these actions of the 'Axis of The Venal' were made all the worse by the fact that mainstream media outlets gave them serious airplay and even more serious consideration as talking points which, in turn, gave considerable credence and respectability to outright slander.

But in the end this crap didn't matter.

Because Mr. Fox soldiered on with grace, wit, humility and sincerity which is, of course, the exceptionally Canadian side of his character.

And now?

Well, McCaskill has just won, by a whisker.

And in so doing she appears to have swung the US Senate to the Democrats, who have already taken control of the Congress.

Thus, George Bush can no longer threaten the Constitution of the United States and all the peoples of the world, unchecked.

In other words, if not outright impeachment there will, at the very least, be a measure of oversight now.

And for that we all owe Michael J. Fox a huge debt of gratitude.

Here's hoping full U.S. federal funding for ethically-approved and fully monitored Stem Cell Research is re-established immediately.

And I'm sure there are some hugely proud parents in Burnaby British Columbia tonight.

And I'm not talking about the Keatons or the McFlys.


Update: Of course, it could all come undone if Conrad Burns in Montana manages to get Smithers and the Henchfrogs walk off with the field with home base in a pine box.
DoubleSecretProbation Update: Wed morning......Democrat Tester has been declared the victor in Montana by....wait for it.......FOX News!
Triple-O Sauce Probation Update: Wed morning.....The oversight has begun!......Reports are rolling in that Rumfsfeld will resign today. The Rovians know they are operating under a whole new reality today, and in this case it truly is one of their own making. And it's name is fear.


Come Gather Round People, Wherever You Roam...


11pm Election night.....

House solidly Dem which equals.........subpeona power!

And as for the Senate, Virginia has swung to Webb, so now the Senate now hangs on Missouri where Democrat McCaskill (she who supports Stem Cells and was supported by our hero Michael J. Fox) is slightly ahead and Montana where Simpsons' favorite Republican Conrad Burns is getting smoked. If things continue to go that way it will put things out of reach even for the Tiemaker and Bush smoocher, Joe Lieberman.


The Worstest LiverWorcesteshire Party Of All Time


Is getting smoked in the Congressional races and is in trouble in the Senate, especially if Jim Webb fights back after the skullduggery in Virginia.

But that doesn't stop them from making stuff up to give the Cable Screamers a handle on the 'Everybody Cheats!' meme even in the absence of any evidence whatsoever.

And btw, Tommy Keaner the Younger, whose Dad was the guy who acted as a paid flack for the FAKED 9/11 Miniseries on ABC and whose paid flack-hack today accused his opponent of jamming the locks on his campaign office in the absence of evidence or witness, got absolutely smoked for the New Jersey Senate seat.


The LillyLiverWorsted Party In The World


What kind of party figures arithmetic is nothing but a theory?

“You may end up with a different math, but you’re entitled to your math,” Rove said. “I’m entitled to ‘the’ math.”

Karl Rove on 25 October 2006 on NPR:

Apparently, today's Republican party.

Wonder how Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein, not to mention my Grade 2 teacher, Mrs. Griffiths*, feel about stuff like that?

*Thanks scout!


The Liverworstest Party In The World


What kind of party busses homeless people into electoral districts to hand out fake, misleading sample ballots that identify their candidates as Democrats?

Inaccurate sample ballots describing Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Senate candidate Michael S. Steele as Democrats were handed out to voters in at least four polling sites in Prince George's County this morning.

The ballots were handed out by people who said they arrived by buses this morning from Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Erik Markle, one of the people handing out literature for Ehrlich, who is seeking reelection, and Steele, the current lieutenant governor who is campaigning to replace retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D), said he was recruited at a homeless shelter in Philadelphia.

After a two-hour bus ride to Maryland, Markle said the workers were greeted early this morning by first lady Kendel Ehrlich, who thanked them as they were outfitted in T-shirts and hats with the logo for Ehrlich's reelection campaign. Nearly all of those recruited, Markle said, are poor and black. Workers traveled to Maryland in at least seven large buses.

Apparently, that is today's Republican party.

Wonder how Abraham Lincoln feels about stuff like that?


The Worcesteshire Party In The World


What kind of political party fosters a climate where intimidatory surveillance and guns are used to stop people of a specific ethnic group from voting?

Well, apparently, today's Republican party.

Nina Perales, a senior poll-watcher for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), called me from Tucson's Iglesia Bautista precinct, where the three men are approaching Latino voters and videotaping them on their way to vote.

"As voters are coming out of their cars and walking up towards their polls, one person is videotaping the voter as he walks towards the polling place," she said. Then another person, wearing an American flag bandana and a shirt with the image of a badge ironed or embroidered on it, approaches with a clipboard to talk to the voter. "While the clipboard person is. . .talking to [the voter], the cameraperson comes up and starts videotaping their face," Perales said.

As this happens, the third man -- with a gun visible in a sideholster -- stands next to the voter. According to Perales, he is wearing a shirt with an American flag on it, and camouflage shorts.

The men only approach Latino voters, she said, and noted they have been doing so since early this morning.

I wonder how Dwight D. Eisenhower feels about that?


The Worstest Party In The World


What kind of political political party has their operatives call people up and tell them that they will go to jail if they try to vote?

Apparently, today's Republican party.

I wonder how Barry Goldwater feels about that.


The Worst Political Party In The World


What kind of party uses non-stop 'Robo-Calls' to keep sick old ladies from their nurses?

An Ohio woman, who did not leave her name, called The Washington Post in tears yesterday, saying she could not keep her phone line open to hospice workers caring for her terminally ill mother because of nonstop political robo-calls.

Pamela Lorenz, a retired nurse in Roseville, Calif., called her own experience "harassment as far as I'm concerned" and said, "If I were voting right now, the opponent who's doing this, he'd be off my list for throwing that much trash."

Hour after hour and day after day for two weeks, Lorenz's home has received the same NRCC recorded message attacking Charlie Brown, the Democrat who is challenging Rep. John T. Doolittle (R) in a hard-fought battle in northeastern California. "It is a recorder calling," Lorenz said. "I can't call it back to get them to stop."

Today's Republican party, that's who.

Wonder how Teddy Roosevelt feels about stuff like that?

Original WaPo linksource: Firedoglake.


Monday, November 06, 2006

What If There Was A Quid Pro Quo?


After some extremely opaque suggest-o-grams, Vaughn Palmer finally came right out and wondered out loud if there just might have been some sort of 'You say tomato, I say tomaaaaahto' kind of a thing going in the run-up to the BC Rail sale.

Palmer's velvetized hammerhead screed in last Fridays's (Nov. 4th) Vancouver Sun is hidden behind that gosh-darned Canned-West subscription wailing wall, but BC Mary has it well excerpted here. The following passage gets to the crux of the matter at hand:

"The aides (ie. Basi and Virk) are accused of being involved in the exchange of confidential information regarding the sale [of BC Rail] and of gaining benefits and/or other considerations in return.

But one possible defence would be that they were authorized to pass along information to keep the bidding process alive.

That was a critical consideration for the B.C. Liberals as they moved to privatize BC Rail in the second half of 2003.

The preferred bidder was CN Rail. It had a continent-wide rail network and it was offering the highest price -- $1 billion.

But to preserve the competitive aspect of the process and to keep pressure on CN, the government needed other bidders.

Initially there were three. But one dropped out in the early going and a second exited in the final month, complaining that the process was tainted.

With only one other bidder left, the competitive aspect was hanging by a threat. Not surprisingly, the Liberals wanted to keep that alternative player in the game.

The rival bidder was OmniTRAX, a Colorado-based operator. It did stay in until the announcement Nov. 25, 2003, that CN Rail would takeover BC Rail.

OmniTRAX subsequently got involved in bidding for another BC Rail asset, the spur line serving the Roberts Bank superport.

There was talk that it might prevail in the bidding process as a sort of consolation prize.

But the Roberts Bank sale was cancelled in early 2004. Police had advised the government that confidential information regarding the spur line had ended up in the wrong hands, possibly compromising the bidding process.

The charges in the case imply a tit-for-tat. The aides were allegedly passing confidential information to gain something for themselves.

But what if any passing was inspired by their bosses, the politicians? What if the objective was to keep OmniTrax in the loop and thereby preserve the credibility of the BC Rail sale?"

So, given that last paragraph, wouldn't it be interesting to know if the leaders of the BC Liberal government at the time were meeting privately with the leaders of CN and Omnitrax in 2003 before the deal went down?

Well, one of the great things about the discussion over at BC Mary's place is that it spurs folks to consider such possibilities and go looking for any evidence to either support or refute them. As such, I went a searching and found that this issue had been raised in the Legislature way back in 2004:

First, there's this, originally posted for posterity by Mary herself, from Hansard of Apr 26, 2004

Joy MacPhail (to Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon): When did the minister become aware that the Minister of Finance (Gary Collins) was meeting with Pat Broe, the head of Omnitrax, while the bidding process for the Roberts Bank spur line was going on? When did he become aware of that?

Hon. K. Falcon: The fact is, I'm not even sure when I became aware. I think I recall reading something in the media about the member's questioning of the Minister of Finance in estimates or something. I have some brief recollection that I read something in the media, but that would be it.

J. MacPhail: I just want to clarify. It is this Minister of Transportation who is responsible for the sale of B.C. Rail — am I correct? — including the spur line to Roberts Bank.

Hon. K. Falcon: The member knows very well that that's correct.

J. MacPhail: Okay, and he was the minister on March 3. When the Minister of Finance was asked questions about these private meetings with Pat Broe by a Vancouver Sun reporter, the Minister of Finance admitted that he discussed the Roberts Bank spur line sale with Pat Broe. He said, "Oh, it was inconsequential," but he did admit to discussing it. That's his interpretation. It was inconsequential — a private dinner between the Minister of Finance and one of the bidders on the Roberts Bank spur line sale while the bidding process was going on. The Minister of Finance admits that it was discussed at their private dinner.

Did the Minister of Finance ever tell this Minister of Transportation about the nature of those discussions? Did he ever declare that discussion in what's supposed to be an open and transparent bidding process, of which Omnitrax was one of the bidders?

Hon. K. Falcon: No.

And the following anexchange between former MLA Elayne Brenzinger questioning Mr. Falcon, also from Hansard, on Oct 6th, 2004* .

E. Brenzinger: My question is directly to the Premier and not to the Minister of Transportation, as this clearly is not a transportation question. As early as June 2002, then-CEO of CN Rail, Paul Tellier, discussed with the Vancouver Sun editorial board CN acquiring B.C. Rail, despite the fact that only a year earlier the Premier had promised not to sell B.C. Rail.

On November 21, 2003, CP Rail wrote a letter to the Premier stating that the government's handling of the B.C. Rail sale was extremely prejudiced. My question, directly to the Premier, is: will he confirm that he did in fact meet with then-CEO Paul Tellier in Kamloops prior to an RFP being issued regarding the sale of B.C. Rail, and that amongst the matters discussed was the purchase price of CN?

Hon. K. Falcon: Clearly, this is an issue that the member continues to raise, so I might direct the member to Charles River Associates Inc., the independent report that was done on the B.C. Rail–CN investment partnership. He actually goes into some detail over that CP letter. You will find that it was canvassed very, very thoroughly, and there was no fault found whatsoever.


I would encourage the member to actually take the time to read the report, and when the member reads that report, she will have all the answers there for herself.

Now, in addition to all the ramifications that this would have regarding how our assets were sold down the Corporate River on a flood tide by the gang that couldn't PPP straight, just consider the following for a moment.......

Doesn't this cast those apparently 'innocent' conversations between Messr's Campbell and Collins on David Basi's cellphone that Liberal Attorney General Wally Oppal made such a fuss about last week in an entirely different light, or dark, as the case may be?

*Actually went searching for the Brenzinger passage after prodding from 'Deep' Anonymous on Mary's comment threads.


Oh, The Irony Of It All....


(Updated at the bottom of post)

Back in the summer I watched with amazement as a grassroots movement, spearheaded in large part on the web by folks like Ms. Hamsher and Ms. Harden-Smith at Firedoglake, helped defeat an unabashed Bush supporter named Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary for Senate in the state of Connecticut.

Yes, you read that right.

An unabashed supporter of George W. Bush and his nakedly aggressive war of choice in Iraq who also happens to be a Democrat.

Not to mention a sitting member of the U.S. Senate for the last 18 years.

And, as many of the the most thoughtful of the Netroots denizens also pointed out, there were actually tons of reasons why anyone with even a single progressive bone in their body had no business supporting Mr. Lieberman. Just one example was his cooperation in repressive anti-choice legislation and policies.

Anyway, the point is, I saw this defeat of Lieberman as a great victory against an incumbent with all the money and all the power who had turned his back on his constituency.

The only trouble is that now that Mr. Lieberman has been completely unleashed from that constituency he is running hard, with Republican backing, as a so-called Independent.

And, as such, he stands a good chance of prevailing in the general election tommorow.

Which would be bad enough on it's own.

But what if the numbers were to come out as Greg Morrow, at Democratic Space is predicting?


CHANGE -6 +5 +1

The thing to remember here is that a tie does not go to the runner in the U.S. Senate.

Instead, it goes to the Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney.

So how those two potential Independent votes go is absolutely vital.

One of those independents is a progressive from Vermont named Bernie Sanders.

The other is Mr. Lieberman.

So if Lieberman were to vote right and force a tie on, say, a plan to get out of Iraq that the Sanders supported......

Well, that would bring the thing back to a tie.

Which likely means that direct democracy in Connecticut may have, at least temporarily, given control of the Senate to a malevolent misanthrope with the metronomic monicker of 'Big Time'.

All of which goes to show, while irony may not be dead, it just may get shot in the face if it goes out duck hunting tommorow.


Unless, of course, the 'Get Out The Vote' initiative pushes the real Democrat in the race, Ned Lamont, over the top. I, amongst billions of others on this good earth, have my fingers crossed....
Have to point out that a truncated version of this screed is in the comments thread to a post by Mahigan on the weekend over at POGGE's place when he first brought up Mr. Morrow's predictions (which were pretty much spot-on in Canuckistan's last federal election).
Update, Election Eve Afternoon: The real Dean of US Political polling John Zogby on Air America is calling it big for Democrats in the House (Congress) but is very pessimistic about the Senate, as he believes that Rhode Island and Montana are swinging to the Republicans.
Double-Secret Probation Update: How can a party even pretend that it is upholding the principals of freedom and democracy if one of its chief election day strategies is to keep people from voting?
Triple-O Sausaulito Update: Greg Morrow has now updated (late Election Eve) to 50R/48D +2Independents in the US Senate. In away, this would be even worse, because it would take the pressure off Lieberman.
Quadruple Bypass Surgical Update: Greg Morrow was good enough to send us his absolutely final Senate prediction from 11:59pm Election Eve - He now has it 51R 47D 2 I.....but looking at the individual races that includes a dead heat between Allen and Webb in Virginia....guess he's betting on the Robo factor to win it for the guy who's goons attacked Mike Stark.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Every Which Way But Loose


Apparently, sometimes even a prop-a-gannonist extraordinare can't tell which way the whurlitzer will blow even if he does keep an entire legion of weathermen on retainer.

Case in point - the pre-hibernatorial spate of Iraq War blade-blaming* that was published in the pages of Vanity Fair yesterday.

At the time, we only quoted David Frum's words, but the article contained multiple quotes of a similar nature from the likes of neoconian barbarians named Adelman, Ledeen and Perle.

The thing is, as the first 24 hour news cycle proved, the apologia backfired and the spin started going backwards, fast and out of control.

So Frum immediately (or previously, just in case?) cut a deal with Arianna Huffington and posted up a velvety smooth screed filled to bursting with self-justificatory solipsistic codswallop like this:

"It's true I fear that there is a real danger that the US will lose in Iraq. And yes I do blame a lot that has gone wrong on failures of US policy.

I have made these points literally thousands of times since 2004, beginning in An End to EvilState of Denial (start herehere.) I have argued them on radio and on television and on public lectern, usually in exactly the same words that are quoted in the press release. 22-part commentary on Bob Woodward's State of Denial (start here and find the remainder here.) I have argued them on radio and on television and on public lectern, usually in exactly the same words that are quoted in the press release.

"[T]he insurgency has proven it can kill anyone who cooperates, and the United States and its friends have failed to prove that it can protect them."

"I always believed as a speechwriter that if you could persuade the president to commit himself to certain words, he would feel himself committed to the ideas that underlay those words. And the big shock to me has been that although the president said the words, he just did not absorb the ideas. And that is the root of, maybe, everything."

And finally that the errors in Iraq are explained by "failures at the center."

Nothing exclusive there, nothing shocking, and believe me, nothing remorseful.

My most fundamental views on the war in Iraq remain as they were in 2003: The war was right, victory is essential, and defeat would be calamitous."

Sure sounds like the words of a reasonable ideologue, eh.

Unless, of course, you have been paying attention.

In which case, you might agree with the great majority of the commenters to his post who relentlessly, and righteously, point out that the entire thing is nothing but a bald-faced attempt by Mr. Frum to whitewash the Acts of Evil perpetrated on millions of people by himself and his very best friends and colleagues.

*"Blade-Blaming" is a hockey term, which involves involves looking down at your stick, shaking your head, and blaming it for your own screw-ups on the ice.


Down Goes Frummy!


I sure hope the following statement doesn't mean Our Frumness is getting ready to come home to run Mr. Harper's CBC:

"I always believed as a speechwriter that if you could persuade the president to commit himself to certain words, he would feel himself committed to the ideas that underlay those words. And the big shock to me has been that although the president said the words, he just did not absorb the ideas. And that is the root of, maybe, everything."
David Frum, Axis of Evilite
Vanity Fair, Nov 3, 2006

Sure thing Mr. Frum,

But, then again, you are even more self-deluded than that Prince of Darkness you call your own, Richard Perle, if you truly believe that the Shrubbery ever gave a crap about a single word you ever wrote for him.

Not that true beliefs necessarily mean much to a propagannonist such as yourself.

But the fact that you bring this up now is mighty suspicious to say the least.

Because the hogs are clearly in the tunnel.

And it looks like you and the rest of Neandercons are down there with them.

And by all accounts the stink is not emanating from the swine.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Orwell Shrugs.....

.....In Penticton*?

From the sharp quill of on-the-spot reporter Sean Holman:

North Island provincial Liberals have been distributing goodie bags in support of their salmon aquaculture resolution. Not surprisingly, that proposal - which calls on the party to continue to "support a risk managed, science based approach to salmon aquaculture" - passed unanimously earlier this afternoon (at the Liberal's biennial convention in P-tikitown).

But just what is a risk-managed, science-based approach to fish farming anyway?

I have a pretty good idea, but why don't we check the views of a self-declared expert in the field:

.....In an interview following that vote, the constituency association's event chair Barb Walker explained her riding introduced the resolution because, "In the North Island and the North Coast, (aquaculture) is a huge economic input into our communities." "You know what - I've been to a lot of fish farms. And, you can tell by looking at them, where science is missing we need to use some common sense. Our eyes can tell us what we see. And we see clean, well-run farms. And, if you look in the systems, the wildlife that is growing there is just absolutely phenomenal."

Well, I guess so.

As long as you consider sea lice to be both risk-managed and phenomenal.

Because there is no doubt that the little critters in the 'systems' certainly are scientific.


*Just don't tell Paladin .........Have gun will travel......


Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Adjuster


Awhile back we pointed out that when ridership is down and profits are up, it can mean only one thing......

And that is that the average British Columbian that cannot avoid regular trips on B.C. Ferries is being screwed royally.

And now that screwing has is become positively purple in it's royalheinousness.

But never fear, like crustaceans being slowly brought to a boil, we apparently won't even notice.

At least that's what Kevin Falcon is telling anyone who will listen:

Victoria (11/02/06): Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon is dismissing complaints from Gulf Islanders about the latest fare increase on B.C. Ferries.

Rates on the smaller ferry routes jumped almost 4½ per cent yesterday, compared with just under 3 per cent on the major routes.

Brian Hollingshead of the Gulf Islands Trust said fare increases and fuel surcharges are starting to hurt small coastal communities.

Mr. Falcon said no one likes to pay more to take a ferry, but the increases are only about $2 or less.

He said the public will adjust, and the increase won't affect the economy in any dramatic way.

The thing of it is though, this is not the only rate increase that has been forced upon us recently. In fact, according to Greg over at Dingorue, with permanent 'temporary' fuel surcharges included it looks like we have now been squeezed a total of 27 percent out of the past year alone.

Not that a thing like that would actually matter to the folks that Mr. Falcon likes to hang out with on boats.


And don't even get me started on those bogus, and exhorbitant, 'reservation fees' that are not considered fares and thus are not subject to any oversight controls whatsoever (not that that would matter anyway).

Remind me again.....just who paid for those ships in the first place?


Rolling Up Their Own Rim.....

....To Win?

Well, whadd'ya know:

“VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) Nov 1/06” - The president of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is seeing red after learning the cost of setting up a Tim Horton's coffee shop in Afghanistan was almost four million dollars.

John Williamson says the restaurant chain giving Canadian soldiers a taste of home in Kandahar should be footing the entire bill.

“Tim Hortons is receiving a massive P.R. benefit from this whole entire venture.”

Speaking on CKNW’s morning news with Philip Till, Williamson says he's also concerned Canadians could end up paying more than two million dollars each year to keep the shop open.

In a way I guess we should be filled with Canadian pride by this little taxpayer-supported enterprise because unlike, say, Halliburton, by all reports THInc. is doing a great job of consistently delivering brown coloured fluid to our trooops that does not contain any sewage whatsoever.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Trial Of The Century Sputters To Life


Just in case you missed it, or not, now that the local media mavens are actually starting to start to shake themselves awake from their self-induced slumber, the British Columbia Legislature Raids trial, which will apparently involve the testimony of at least one member of the no longer existent PR firm 'Pilothouse' (ie. the company that allegedly paid out the bribes, but whose former principals have not been charged), is actually showing signs of sputtering to life almost three years after the fact.

And the best place to read all about it is at citizen journalist extraordinare BC Mary's place.

Today, Mary goes over Vaughn Palmer's latest column with a fine-toothed comb, including the so-called tidbit about an allegedly surveilled meeting/dinner between former Finance Minister Gary Collins and Omnitrax president Dwight Johnson (Omnitrax was one of the bidders for BC Rail and a client of the aforementioned very fine fellows from Pilothouse).

The thing is, Mary looks to have beaten Mr. Palmer et al. to the punch on this one by, oh say, 5 months or so, just because she has been paying attention from the get go.

And all she had to do was read Hansard.

Here is an exchange in the Legislature on Apr 26, 2004 between Joy MacPhail and Kevin Falcon as resurrected for posterity by Mary:

J. MacPhail (to Minister of Transportation K. Falcon): When did the minister become aware that the Minister of Finance was meeting with Pat Broe, the head of Omnitrax, while the bidding process for the Roberts Bank spur line was going on? When did he become aware of that?

Hon. K. Falcon: The fact is, I'm not even sure when I became aware. I think I recall reading something in the media about the member's questioning of the Minister of Finance in estimates or something. I have some brief recollection that I read something in the media, but that would be it.

J. MacPhail: I just want to clarify. It is this Minister of Transportation who is responsible for the sale of B.C. Rail — am I correct? — including the spur line to Roberts Bank.

Hon. K. Falcon: The member knows very well that that's correct.

J. MacPhail: Okay, and he was the minister on March 3. When the Minister of Finance was asked questions about these private meetings with Pat Broe by a Vancouver Sun reporter, the Minister of Finance admitted that he discussed the Roberts Bank spur line sale with Pat Broe. He said, "Oh, it was inconsequential," but he did admit to discussing it. That's his interpretation. It was inconsequential — a private dinner between the Minister of Finance and one of the bidders on the Roberts Bank spur line sale while the bidding process was going on. The Minister of Finance admits that it was discussed at their private dinner.

Did the Minister of Finance ever tell this Minister of Transportation about the nature of those discussions? Did he ever declare that discussion in what's supposed to be an open and transparent bidding process, of which Omnitrax was one of the bidders?

Hon. K. Falcon: No.

You got that? This was in the Spring of 2004.

So forget about all this 'accidental wiretap' stuff for the moment, because clearly people knew, and people have known for a long time, about meetings between the former Minister of Finance (ie. Mr. David Basi's boss, one of the former government insiders who, again allegedly, accepted money from the fine fellows at Pilothouse) and the very good folks from Omnitrax (ie. clients of the truly fine fellows from Pilothouse).



Where's The Shrubbery Gone?



President Bush will hold no public events of any kind on Wednesday, an exceptionally light schedule this close to next Tuesday’s midterm elections. That sparked questions about whether Bush has a “November surprise” in store. This is, after all, a president who has twice managed to sneak away to Iraq.

I'm not so sure about Baghdad, after all that mission no longer looks to be accomplished.

But how about Paraguay?

Or, better yet, maybe that bar in Burundi where ol' Wild Bill C. and Big Lee A., or at the very least their ghosts, are rumoured to be holed-up dispensing killer advice of the finest kind.

I guess only time, and The Cable Screamers, will tell.......

Original Link Source to the Shrubbery's disappearance from public view: Bernhard on the comment threads at the Moon.