Saturday, March 31, 2007

Do Farmers Know What They Really Voted For?


The convential wisdom of the whirlitzer (C.W.W.) goes something like this:

WINNIPEG (CP Mar30/07) - Western Canadian barley farmers who have spent years lobbying for the right to choose how they market their grain could finally get their wish this summer.

Federal Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl said Wednesday that 62 per cent of the 29,000 farmers who cast eligible ballots in a plebiscite voted to either have the Canadian Wheat Board participate in a competitive market, or stop dealing with barley altogether.

Strahl called the results "unequivocal" and says he'll now take steps to get the cabinet approval needed to remove the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly by August, in time for the start of the crop year.

It never ceases to amaze me, however, how far off the mark the C.W.W. actually is.

I mean, if you were to just read that lede above, which was, essentially, repeated from sea-to-shining-sea by a whole lotta media organs (ie. not just the CP) and then to move on, you would figure that Mr. Strahl was giving you the straight goods based on a convincing and unequivocal mandate from a supra-majority of farmers.

But, if you were to dig a little deeper in the google news cache (and/or head over to Buckdog's place) you would find stuff like this:

In the four western provinces, where the CWB monopoly rules, the overall result saw only 37.8% back the so-called "single desk," while pro choice hit 49.4%. But when the Saskatchewan numbers were broken out - where 15,327 farmers voted - 45% chose to extend the monopoly.

In Manitoba, where it appeared a boycott was in the works, 50.6% of only 3,703 barley producer cast ballots saying leave it be.

In B.C., the vote was 49.4% pro choice. But only 156 ballots were in the boxes.

Apparently the results were decisive enough for the minister to vow he's going to "deliver."

Neil Waugh, Edmonton Sun Mar29/07

Which, of course, leaves Alberta.

Now, if you were to fall into a conventional wisdom trap of a very different kind, you might say to yourself..... "Ah ha! Of course. It's all the fault of those roto-tilling reactionaries from Wild Rose Country."

But why, if that is really the case, did Mr. Strahl's operatives feel the need to campaign/advertise, cajole and obfuscate like heckfire in Alberta (and, apparently, only in Alberta) in the run-up to the vote.

Which is a gleaming little gold nugget of hard-panned information that comes our way courtesy of the Regina Leader-Post's financial editor, Bruce Johnstone, who has a whole lot more to say about the manner under the header 'Tories Sinking To New Depths on Barley.'

Here are just a few examples of the questionable tactics used: misleading plebiscite options; issuing "gag orders'' against CWB directors and staff; firing the CWB president during the election; arbitrarily changing the voters' list during the election; disenfranchising thousands of producers; sending multiple, numbered ballots to producers, then calling them to ask which ballot they wanted counted; no third-party spending limits; etc.

The list of dirty tricks and undemocratic practices (no public voters' list, no secret ballot, no third-party spending limits) would make a Third World dictator blush.


Whatever one thinks about the Canadian Wheat Board, the tactics employed by the Conservative government during its year-long battle with the CWB are reprehensible, undemocratic and possibly illegal.

And finally, there is this about the wording of the plebiscite itself, from Mr. Johnstone:

In addition to options to keep the status quo or remove barley from the board, the plebiscite posed this loaded option to producers: "I would like the option to market my barley to the Canadian Wheat Board or any domestic or foreign buyer."

Could some producers have been fooled into believing that they could have their cake and eat it too? In other words, keep the Canadian Wheat Board but have the option to market their grain elsewhere?

Why wouldn't they? That's what Strahl kept telling them, even though Strahl's own handpicked task force said operating the Canadian Wheat Board in an open market was unworkable.

As the National Farmers Union president Stewart Wells noted, ask a misleading question and you'll get a misleading answer. Wells said many farmers voted for Option 2, thinking they were supporting the CWB.


I sure hope Mr. Strahl didn't dip any fingers in purple paint in the wheat fields round Wetaskawin.


Please note the fact that the anti-conventional wisdom pieces cited above come from, in turn, the Edmonton Sun and the Regina Leader-Post, neither of which is known for it's waygone lefty views.


The Quest......

For The Crown

It is not a mission for the faint of heart.

Luckily, Mary and her band of merry Anon-O-Mice are up to the task.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Coultergeist, The Next Generation


It is bad enough that Canada will forever be apologizing for the senseless havoc that David Frum's worthless words of wingnut wizardry have helped to unleash upon a weaponized, but weary world.

But now, after all we've been through, how are we, years from now, going to explain this:

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Rachel Marsden. I predict she is going to provide us with hours and hours of schadenfreudelicious fun in the very near future. Ms. Marsden is Fox News's newest rising star, a statuesque former contributor to the O'Reilly Factor who has been installed as a co-host on Greg Gutfield's nightly laugh-less frat boy circle-jerk, Red-Eye.


It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, I tell ya.

Under, as Jimmy Durante once noted........

'The Big Dubbya'



On The Buses.....

......With Guns?

I love riding the buses of Vancouver.

Especially when stuff like this happens:

The 44-B hightails it from the Point Grey campus all the way into the downtown core, about 12 km in all, in something like six stops. The machine itself is one of those articulated behemoths with a round dish floorplate in the middle between two hunks of busbody that is straddled by a couple of bench seats that was filled to bursting with a bunch of school kids out on a field trip.

As soon as we hit the road the kids were up and surfing the dish. The only other place I've seen this kind of thing is on the Metro in Montreal, and it's fantastic to watch because some of these kids are really good at rolling with each and every exaggerated twist, turn and jump that, taken together, are hugely amplified whipsaw replicas of even tiny movements of the driver's hands on the steering wheel sixty feet in front of them.

But there was more than just that going on with these kids, because they were clearly from two different classes from two very different schools. One class was the host group, all hip and city and urban and cool. The other class was visiting from way out of town in the sticks, maybe Prince George or something. And they were all babbling back and forth to beat the band while they joked around and took turns up on the dish playing it kind of like they were riding bulls at the rodeo.

And one class was teaching the other class how to count in a language they had never heard before. It was mandarin. And the kids doing the teaching were the hosts. The kids from Prince George were all white, and they were lapping up the "eee!..... arrre!!....san!!!.....soooo!!!!" counts and turning them into whooping cheers like they were 'Team Tolerance' at the Calgary Stampede.

Then, suddenly, thirty-two minutes after we got on the bus we were all thrown out onto the shimmering street in front of Waterfront Station. The kids filed off and wandered toward the Five Sails at Canada Place. Me, I slipped my laptop into my pack, strapped it on my back, grabbed my bike from the rack at the front of the 44-B, and headed for the seabus and the ride across the harbour trailing this view.

But now, unfortunately, we have decided we need to have paramilitaries riding shotgun on the behemoths.

The Bear 604 has the story, and he explains why this is so ridiculous, not to mention scary.

The 99 B-Line deployment is an accidental shooting waiting to happen. The route stretches from Broadway/Commercial Drive Station to the University of British Columbia campus, with most of the city's major health care facilities at VGH in the middle. Sooner or later, a student activist, maybe with the Bus Riders Union, a psychiatric outpatient, or just somebody who's having a really bad day is going to get on the overcrowded bus and cross an overstressed bus driver.

Ya, and what about those crazy, troublemakin' dish riders and/or wild-eyed middle-aged guys in bikeshorts that try, perhaps, to intervene?


Couldn't we just make like the British and/or the dopey old British sitcoms and have, I dunno, maybe, conductors?


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hiding In Plain Sight.....


Earlier today former Socred, Reformer, CCRAP-master flash, and Stockwell Day defender John Reynolds took a breather from the controversy surrounding the Ontario Provincial Police's probe into parole board patronage and paid a little visit to his old stomping grounds, the floor of the British Columbia legislature.

Apparently, according to an interview with S.M. Holman, Mr. Reynolds was just there to 'talk politics' with the likes of LINO Transportation and Porkchop Minister, Kevin Falcon.

But the best (and most defensive?) quote of the day apparently came from the Minister for Forests, Housing and Cowboys, Rich Coleman, who said that the conversation with Mr. Reynolds was:

"Nothing nefarious."

To which you might say......Hmmmmmm......

Especially if you have considered the fact that Mr. Falcon will soon be in charge of laying out a whole lot of local pavement pork which will ultimately, especially if the dreaded majority befalls us, rely upon increased Gateway project funding from Mr. Reynolds' current party of convienience.

Not to suggest that there would be any sort of nefarious, circular, quid pro quos associated with a deal like that or anything.

No siree.



Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Things To Remember About The B.C. Ferries Investigation


Update: Mar 28/07 5:30pm - Dave, who again knows of what he speaks, has an excellent, and much more succinct, post on this issue up at the Galloping Beaver. He also left us a comment on the thread attached to this post that is absolutely must, and I mean must, reading for anyone who is, in good faith, trying to truly understand what's happening with BC Ferries in general and what happened on the QOTN specifically.

(please note: this is a long one because I really wanted to get it all down in one place - if you just want the punchline skip on down to points six and seven at the bottom)

BC Ferries released the results of their own internal investigation into the year-old Queen of the North sinking Monday (pdf).

According to the Globe and Mail, they concluded that the sinking, which occurred after the vessel crashed into Gil Island at speed, was caused by human error.

They have also made much about the fact that two of the crew members that were on the bridge that night did not participate in the investigation.

They have also made much of the 'casual culture' that existed on the bridge.

They have also made much of the fact that the company investigators did not believe that the Quartermaster could not find the autopilot switch when the other crew member yelled at her to turn it off as a prelude to try and alter the course of the ship at the last minute, because:

"this testimony is difficult to reconcile."

Or, as Gary Mason (behind the G&M subscription wailing wall for Mar 27/07) put it:

"company investigators found this difficult to believe, saying this is a procedure she would have prevously done many times"

Now, this does sound bad for the folks who were in control of the vessel on that fateful night.

And my Dad, who spent his entire adult life travelling up and down the Westcoast towing logs and everything else imaginable, has said from the beginning that there very likely must have been a considerable element of human error in something like this.

But when you read the C.E.O.'s latest statements you would think it was a slam dunk that the entire thing was 110% the awful, terrible crew's fault:

"To go on to hit an island is quite stunning," said David Hahn president and CEO of B.C. Ferries.

However, before we all rush to judgement there are a number of points that I would like to remind everyone of:

First...... B.C. Ferries managed to get their internal investigation out this past Monday, just one day ahead of an interim draft report from the independent Transportation Safety Board which has now been sent to all parties involved to get their input before the latter report is finalized and made public in a few weeks.

Second.....All of the crew members that were on the bridge at the time of the accident have co-operated with the Transportation Safety Board's independent investigation, which something you very rarely hear through through the din of the cranked-up, one-day-ahead-of-the-game, internal investigation-assisted Whirlitzer. Regardless:

"according to (BC Ferries) company sources, their (the crew members') statements did not illuminate or explain why vital course corrections weren't made"

This also comes from Gary Mason's column. Now it is important to consider that these 'sources' are not named and it is also worth considering the 'how do they know anyway?' - type question. For example, it might be that they found this out from reading the draft of the TSB investigation and are now leaking it to their advantage, or, alternatively, they could have gotten it from someone friendly to them on the TSB, or, they could even just be making stuff up (ie. we don't know which of the three alternatives, or other alternative it is because it is not sourced which, of course, is just one more example of that rumour and innuendo thing again that we've been fussing about so much of late). Regardless, the floating of this non-verifiable, anonymous account to a high profile local pundit at the very least smacks of a spin dial set to 'eleven' .

Third..... When the P.R. outcome doesn't look so good the Corporation doesn't always act so quickly or as efficiently to get things out to the public. Case in point, B.C. Ferries sat on the internally commissioned system-wide safety report from George Morfitt for weeks through the late fall/early winter of 2006 all the way through into the New Year of 2007 before they finally dumped it, late on a Friday, just before the Pickton trial was to begin. Despite this blatant attempt at newscycle blunting, a few people did actually notice that the report made no less than 41 specific safety recommendations, two of which were that:

BC Ferries should carry out a comprehensive review of the Safety Management System (SMS) to determine
which areas are functioning effectively and which areas need improvement

BC Ferries should improve existing training and orientation processes to ensure they are sufficient to increase
knowledge and awareness of the SMS (safety management system) across the organization, especially among vessel
Officers and Terminal Directors and Managers to ensure they have “bought into” the SMS;

Now, there was nothing that could be spun there. Mr. Morfitt, who was chosen by BC Ferries themselves, told the Corporation that they should review the systems management plan (which would indicate that there were concerns about its overall effectiveness) and that they should then implement it system-wide to improve training and orientation. Interestingly, Mr. Hahn was NOT available for comment after the release of the Morfitt report which was, at least on the face of it, surprising given that, as was pointed out above, and as will be pointed out below, he always seemed to be available at every other other opportunity.

Fourth....Instituting such a comprehensive safety plan and stepped-up training was something that former B.C. Ferries safety officer Darin Bowland had apparently been asking for since before the Queen of the North sank for which he was, also apparently, rebuffed by B.C. Ferries management at the time. Bowland also claimed that he said that if such changes were not instituted that there would be a 'strong likelihood of catastrophic incidents'.

For his part Mr. Hahn had this to say:

"We reject all of his (Bowland's) allegations," Mr. Hahn said. "I think what's interesting [is] he never set foot on the Queen of the North during his time here, never was on the Queen of Prince Rupert [a sister ship], was never in Prince Rupert or Port Hardy on any business from B.C. Ferries.

Fifth......Mr. Bowland then began proceedings for a wrongful-dismissal suit in the summer of 2006 that was eventually dropped in the fall.

This does, indeed, mean that it is important to take Mr. Bowland's previous claims with a grain of salt (and why it is important to always keep the Morfitt report in mind).

Regardless, afterwards Mr. Bowland called on Mr. Hahn to release his previously stated safety concerns given that he, Bowland, could not due to a confidentiality agreement.

Mr. Hahn flatly refused to do so, and instead had this to say:

"If there was fact, if they were credible allegations, why would he drop the lawsuit? It's very clear that if someone had the smoking gun stuff he's talking about, they would continue with this."

Now, as we've already seen, Mr. Morfitt showed us at least the tip of the barrel, if not more, of such a potential 'smoking gun' a couple of months later. But it is even more important to understand that pretty much an entire, although metaphorical, Smith & Wesson had already been flashed around months before all of this 'stuff" came out. Which brings us to point number six, the.....

Sixth...... Late last spring (2006) Mr. Hahn received, well in advance of its public release, a letter from the Transportation Safety Board (the same independent, federal board that is now wrapping up the fullscale, independent investigation described above). When he was asked about this letter by Vaughn Palmer before it was publically released, Mr. Hahn made like a doctor of some kind and described the letter as 'benign'. It was anything but. Here's an excerpt of our report from that time (it's not short, but it is worth reading all the way through to the end - you'll see why):

Now, over the past couple of days I have read and heard Mr. Hahn say many times that the letter means little because it just reflects the grousing of a few BC Ferry workers after the fact. Additionally, I also heard him say yesterday that it doesn't matter anyway because the upgrades were trivial and were comparable to getting a new keyboard on a your home computer.


Perhaps we should go to the original document (ie. the TSB's letter) and see if Mr. Hahn is making an honest diagnosis or if he is playing the part of a quack bent on getting out his own spin.

We will excerpt it below, but the entire letter from the Safety Board can be found here (warning pdf file):

"......Early in March the Queen of the North had just completed a refit, which included the installation of a new sterring-mode selector switch at the main steering station. Although crew members who were involved with the refit had passed on information about the modifications to other crew members, not all crew members appear to have been adequately briefed.

Information gathered so far has revealed that some bridge team members were not familiar with the use of all of the bridge equipment and controls. For example, members of the bridge team had different understandings of how the recently installed steering-mode selector switch worked and what function each setting of the switch performed (that is, to select between the autopilot, jog, and the forward and main steering wheels)."


So, the Transportion Safety Board is telling Mr. Hahn (the letter was addressed specifically to him on May 11th, 2006, almost one month ago [ie. before the report was originally written - RossK] that there were members of the crew that may not have been adequately trained to operate a piece of equipment that controls the autopilot and the steering.

In case you missed it, please read that last bolded phrase above one more time before we move on to the last point which is the......

Seventh......And here we come all the way back around to the beginning. To refresh your memory, because it was so long ago, the 'company investigators' found it difficult to believe that the Quartermaster (ie. a member of the crew) would have had difficulty turning the autopilot off when the other crew member on the deck yelled at her to do so because 'she would have previously done so many times.'

But the Transport Safety Board told us months ago that they had concerns about this very issue. And they, specifically, did not back down after the fact. Again, from one of our reports at the time, also from last June:

"[But] our investigators turned up a safety deficiency . . . and we are telling B.C. Ferries about what we uncovered," he said.

"We don't wait for the final report if something needs to be done. We haven't drawn any conclusions, but we've seen this thing, and it's starting to quack like a duck."

Canadian Transportation Safety Board spokesman John Cottreau, June 7th, 2006

To which Mr. Hahn responded:

"I think that's a bunch of B.S."
BC Ferries CEO, David Hahn
Emphatically responding to employee safety concerns, June 08, 2006.

Now do you see why, perhaps, that the 'company investigators' are now, nine months later, so full of zeal in their suggestions to the media that no one should believe that the Quartermaster may have had difficulty turning off the autopilot in the heat of the moment.

Additionally, here's something you may not have known already, because it is not something that the company's investigators or the CEO have made much of a fuss about (unlike, say, their trumpeting of the playing of music on the bridge), and that is the fact the Quartermaster was really little more than a deckhand who was actually training for the bridge job at the time of the accident.

There's that word again - training - the word that Mr. Bowland, whose comments should be taken with a grain of salt, and Mr. Morfitt, whose comments can be taken straight up, both indicated the Corporation has had some difficulties with in the not so distant past (ie. during the period when the accident occurred).

Oh, yes, and of course, the Transport Saftey Board also raised the same concern forcefully as well, both in writing and orally - nine months ago.

All of which makes one wonder - do the members of the local media really and truly have difficulty moving things from short to long term memory, or is this actually an issue early-onset, whirlitzer-assisted memory loss?

Regardless, all I'm really trying to suggest here, especially given the ferry corporation CEO's documented track record of serial spin-doctoring, is that we would all be well advised to read the internal report with a skeptical eye and wait until the TSB's complete and independent report is made public before we make any final judgements of our own about where, and how, the blame should be apportioned in its entirety.


I believe it was important to raise the issue of Mr. Mason's unnamed 'company sources' because he also resssurects some vicious rumours, none of which were specifically alluded to in the company's own report. This type of thing becomes even more relevant when one is reminded of the lengths that Mr. Hahn has gone to in the past in an effort to win over local pundits to his POV, not to mention the fact that he has also been known to shut the door on those reporters who don't.
Finally (and I'm really going to stop now - promise), if anybody's interested you can read our entire series of BC Ferries posts, from top to bottom, here.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Stopping The Smear Merchants


Yesterday, I invoked the words of Joseph N. Welch, who stopped the state-sanctioned smear merchant Joseph McCarthy in his tracks by simply asking:

Have you no sense of decency, sir?

But, despite what many may think, a number of people worked to end Mr. McCarthy's reign of terror.

And one of them was a Canadian:

"Reuben Ship's celebrated radio satire of the work of the US House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) and the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and its chairman, Joseph McCarthy, was first aired nationally in Canada by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on May 30, 1954. For the most part, the drama was reviewed favorably in Canada. In the USA, it was reviewed in a positive light by the New York Times and by the left-wing press (including New Masses), but it was excoriated by the right wing as anti-American propaganda. By mid-June, tapes of the broadcast were circulating in the USA. There, some attempts to broadcast the CBC production on both coasts caused objections from the American Legion and private individuals...."

This is in reference to 'The Investigator', a parallel universe radio play where Joseph McCarthy takes his act to heaven. It quickly became an underground hit in the US that, apparently, was even listened to on a bootlegged LP by Dwight Eisenhower and his staff.

"About 100,000 copies of a long-playing record made from the CBC production of "The Investigator" were sold during 1954 and 1955, mostly in the US. The LP appeared on an obscure label named "Discuriousities" created by two enterprising Americans to sell the recording—probably in collaboration with Ship himself. The record was described as communist propaganda by Ed Sullivan in his newspaper column and in other publications; it was given positive notice (again) in The New York Times, which wondered if the satire might cause friction between the US and Canada. The New Republic informed readers that a chuckling President Eisenhower had it played at a meeting of his cabinet......"

Of course, the smear merchant militia, including those members located North of the 49th parallel, went berserk. But in the end the whole world listened, and eventually truth and reason won out.

"In Ottawa, Hugh Lennard, a Conservative member of Parliament, castigated the Canadian Government for allowing the broadcast......(but then).....The Australian Broadcasting Company requested broadcasting rights and the production was praised highly when it was aired by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) a year or so later...."

The question is, would such a doc, if it were made today, even be broadcast on the CBC.

And I'm not talking about this very day's CBC, but rather the one that, credibly uncredible rumours have suggested, could soon, perhaps maybe, if Sandra Bee's wildest dreams come true, very well be ruled by this guy.

The Investigator was brought to our attention via a great documentary by Sam Levene on CBC's Sunday Morning. The original radioplay is archived on the 2nd link above.
This story was first posted, in a slightly different form in May 2005.
And just in case you are shaking your head in disbelief regarding the subject of the uncredible, but incredibly credible rumour that I didn't just make up (ie. I've blogged about it before at the very same time that incredibly important people were blogging about other, but related, stories about banging evil up the side of the head with an axe handle), you may do well to remember that he has spent a not inconsiderable amount of time either as a panelist and/or guest hosting on The Current. And don't ever forget that his his mom was, well, his mom.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Have You No Sense Of Decency, Sir.....

At Long Last?



Apparently, the federal Liberal operative, and Dion backer, Mr. Jason Cherniak has now made it clear that he believes not in a nation of laws nor of decency, but rather in a nation of rumours.

Especially if said rumours originate from 'credible' people.

You can get the entire story from Pogge, because I will not continue any further attempts to engage in a reasoned debate with the Operative, nor link to him any longer.

I do have one suggestion, however, for anyone that might be thinking of swallowing the Operative's StarChamber-assisted codswallop.

And that is to listen to this.


Because this stuff matters.


Update, Sun Mar 25/07, 11:20pm PDT: The Operative has now posted up a carefully worded half-a-mama-mea culpa titled 'I was wrong'. However, despite the title, I read it as a non-apology apology. Specifically, I cannot conceive of a truly heartfelt apology in which the propagator of a vicious, unsubstantiated and hurtful rumour continues to consider the said propagation, as the Operative now puts it, to have been a mistake made in 'good faith'.


Propagation For The Nation


Many on the left side of Canada's Bloggodome are aghast* at the lede to a post written yesterday by federal Liberal party operative and Dion backer Mr. Jason Cherniak:

"Let's face it. People cheat in politics. It's not a good thing. It shouldn't happen. But it does. The rumour around TO (Let me be very clear; I am not suggesting that the rumour is true. I am only stating that it is out there.) is that Olivia Chow won because NDP supporters from across the city voted early and often at different polling stations in Trinity-Spadina. I don't know if it's true, but just the rumour led the federal Liberals to fight for a new rule that voters must show ID before receiving their ballot.

And I'm sure many on the right side of the Dome are, or soon will be, rubbing their hands with glee.

But, regardless your political point-of-view, if you are a reasonable person I think you would agree that propagating vicious rumours in the absence of supporting evidence is never a good thing.

Which is why I asked Mr. Cherniak the following:

(B)ased on the first paragraph of the post under consideration - if someone were to start a rumour that a certain Canadian politician had won, oh say, a leadership vote based on the fact that he or she had non-conjugal, but very friendly, relations with barnyard cows, would the political party involved then subsequently call for the identification of every single one the livestock involved?

Now, Mr. Cherniak did not provide a direct answer to either this or other questions from his readers regarding his deliberate propagation of the voter fraud rumour.

He did, however, 'allegedly' write this further on down the comment thread attached to his original post:

"This is amazing. Do any of you deny that the rumour is out there? Of course not - so why are you acting so shocked and appauled (sic) that I am mentioning it?

Based on this response it would be very difficult for a reasonable person not to conclude that Mr. Cherniak feels it is the right of any and all to spread unsubstantiated rumours whenever they feel the need to do so, regardless the absence of evidence.

As a result, I felt compelled to ask Mr. Cherniak one final question:

When, exactly, did the alleged political leader alluded to above stop having non-conjugal relations with cows?

Of course, it is, and always will be, a ridiculous question.

But the point of writing it is the following - which I also put to Mr. Cherniak:

"(A)fter reading that, do you see why so many seemingly reasonable people are, indeed, shocked and appalled by what you wrote in the lead to this post?"

And, again, I'm talking about all reasonable people here, regardless their political POV.

Because no one who is reasonable wants to see any major political political party in Canada stoop to the level of smear and innuendo to win friends and/or influence their uncles.

Or elections.


*Update: Apparently, not all left-siders, one of whom is StageLeft, are actually aghast. Please see his statement of unaghastness in the comments.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bending The Pretzel


Yesterday, Dave got very upset about the following cryptic, but loaded, post from federal Liberal operative, and Dion backer, Mr. Jason Cherniak:

"Um... Isn't this an act of war?"

Mr. Cherniak was referring to the situation of the 15 British sailors and their capture by the Iranian Revolutionary guard.

In the comments to Dave's post which, characteristically, did not pull any punches for reasons that are very clear if you go read the whole thing, Mr. Cherniak then, apparently, wrote this:

"It was a question, moron."

All of which compelled me to respond thusly, especially after I went to visit Mr. Cherniak's site to ensure that I fully understood the context of his original post:

"Despite the question mark at the end, I read it, particularly given the use of the term 'Isn't' instead of 'Is', as an assertion that could be easibly denied at a later time and/or date.

And I believe that the comment at 12:12 pm above, particularly if it was, indeed, written by Mr. Cherniak, would support such a view.

Not to mention the update that Mr. Cherniak has now tacked on to the top of his original post.

Thus, I can only conclude that Dave, despite his inability to mince words, has a valid point.

And it is an important point, particularly if such a now denied assertion were to be used subsequently in any later attempts to alter the public's perception of a particular political party's position vis-a-vis any future changes in Middle East policy.

Now, all of this could be viewed as a bad thing, as some in the Canuckistani Bloggodome are already suggesting, but it could also be argued by others, I suppose, that it is the job of political operatives, come heckfire or highwater, to do their best to give their political masters time and room to manoeuvre.

Alternatively, there is also the possibity that I am entirely mistaken and that Mr. Cherniak was, indeed, only asking an innocent question after all.

But then, I saw the following, which was the lead paragraph of today's post from Mr. Cherniak:

"Let's face it. People cheat in politics. It's not a good thing. It shouldn't happen. But it does. The rumour around TO (Let me be very clear; I am not suggesting that the rumour is true. I am only stating that it is out there.) is that Olivia Chow won because NDP supporters from across the city voted early and often at different polling stations in Trinity-Spadina. I don't know if it's true, but just the rumour led the federal Liberals to fight for a new rule that voters must show ID before receiving their ballot. If nothing else, such rules at least ensure that people can have confidence in the democratic process."

Mr. Cherniak then goes on to finish the post by suggesting a very reasonable compromise approach regarding the identification of veiled Muslim women who wish to vote in Quebec's upcoming election.

However, it is just not possible to consider the intent of the paragraph quoted above as 'innocent'.

Thus, particularly given that Mr. Cherniak offered no actual evidence to either substantiate or refute the rumour he has just helped propogate, I felt compelled to comment, once again.

And this time I did so directly at Mr. Cherniak's place:

Forgive me for bending a second pretzel here, but I think a point needs to be made regardless the apparent reasonableness of the suggested compromise at the end of the post.

And, of course, in some ways the point is an historical one, the roots of which can be found here:

"Back in 1948, during his first race for the US Senate, Lyndon Johnson was running about 10 points behind, with only nine days to go. He was desperate. And it was just before noon on a Monday, they say, when he called his equally depressed campaign manager and told him to call a press conference for just before lunch on a slow news day and accuse his high-riding opponent, a pig farmer, of having routine carnal knowledge of his sows, despite the pleas of his wife and children."

Which begs the question, based on the first paragraph of the post under consideration - if someone were to start a rumour that a certain Canadian politician had won, oh say, a leadership vote based on the fact that he or she had non-conjugal, but very friendly, relations with barnyard cows, would the political party involved then subsequently call for the identification of every single one the livestock involved?

Hope that was clear enough, very or otherwise.

Please do not misunderstand me, the paragraph bolded above about the political leader and his or her possible interactions with barnyard animals, non-conjugal or otherwise, was not meant to be an assertion of fact and/or even the most wild-eyed rumour.

Because, after all, it was only a question.


For the record, you can find my original use of the LBJ example to try and explain the motivations behind a very different smear by rumour that was used to great political effect by a local apparent/alleged Liberal here. Which is somewhat ironic given the fact that a local political operative that once worked for the local apparent/alleged Liberals, one of whom is his spouse, is currently working for the very same federal Liberal that is backed by Mr. Cherniak. And that, just like the cow thing, is no rumour (although, unlike the cow thing, it is an actual fact).


Not With A Bang, But A Leaker


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
Dec 15, 1791

So, yesterday, I was a lucky man.

Lucky enough to have a big chunk of free time in the cigar tube.

Enough time, in fact, to read the beetle-fiber versions of both the Globe and the NY Times front-to-back, all the way through.

Which was fun, but weird, because I was flying home from the place that almost all Canuckistanis love, but somehow fear to tread........

.........The North

And while I could get Friday's Times before take-off, the only Globe I could get was Thursday's.

Which had something to do with the differing distances between Anchorage, Alaska and Toronto, Ontario, apparently.

Anyway, that meant that I got all the old alleged 'News that Fits the Good Lord to be Tied' from Chicago by way of Toronto and all the new 'News' on the alleged recent attempts by some in the Bush Administration to shut the Guantanamo Bay prison from Washington by way of New York via Alaska.

Turned out though, that when I carefully read Shanker and Sanger's front page above-the-fold Wash/NY/Alaska piece, it quickly became apparent that there was absolutely no 'News' there whatsoever.

In fact, I think it would be more correct to call it 'Anti-News' designed to thwart the ability of the people to seek redress of any and/all grievances.

Including high crimes and misdemeanors.


Because, in my opinion, the Shanker and Sanger Wash/NY/Alaska story was little more than a push-piece, from top to bottom.

And a close examination of the top end of the thing is all that is needed to explain how I came to form this opinion.

Specifically, in the story's first four paragraphs, in which the authors' strongly suggest that Robert Gates and Condoleezza Rice have been trying to convince other members of the Bush (mal)Administration to shut their Cuban concentration camp, there was not one single, on-the-record, named source.

Not one.

First paragraph:
In his first weeks as defense secretary, Robert M. Gates repeatedly argued that the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had become so tainted abroad that legal proceedings at Guantánamo would be viewed as illegitimate, according to senior administration officials.

Second paragraph:
Mr. Gates’s appeal was an effort to turn Mr. Bush’s publicly stated desire to close Guantánamo into a specific plan for action, the officials said.

Third paragraph:
Mr. Gates’s arguments were rejected after Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and some other government lawyers expressed strong objections to moving detainees to the United States, a stance that was backed by the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, administration officials said.

Fourth paragraph:
As Mr. Gates was making his case, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined him in urging that the detention facility be shut down, administration officials said.

Thus, it is not until the fifth freaking paragraph that this high profile attempt at public perception paradigm shifting actually names a source that the authors' quote directly.

And that source only makes a confirmatory statement about the status quo*.

“The policy remains unchanged,” said Gordon D. Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

Now, leaving aside the possiblity that this may indicate that a bold new move has just been made on Mr. Rove's unpatriotic game board, consider, for the moment, what this 'type' of story actually indicates re: how low America's so-called 'paper of record' has sunk.

Because, if they(ie. Mr. Keller and Ms. Abramson et al.) have learned absolutely nothing about how wrong they can be when they rely almost exclusively on the unattributed information of high level maladministration sources (see: Miller, Judith and all that came after), well, how can we possibly learn anything from them?

I mean, is it any wonder that, based on the evidence, we who are paying attention are now, more than ever, looking to the fever swamps to get the 'real' story.

Even if it is, sometimes, purely imaginary.

The story, I mean.

In a hermetically sealed bunker restroom, 10,000 feet below a cliff-face located 374.76 km north of Butte Montana in the newly annexed Albertalands, Big Time is standing in front of a gleaming urinal, fly wide open, waiting.....always waiting.

Enter the off-the-books, ultra-secret, internets-savvy, super-sweeper from the local NSA office, who stands beside his supreme Commander and - opens up..........


*Please note, online this was actually the sixth paragraph. In the print edition, however, it was the tail end of the fifth. Which, of course, should not be viewed as an amendment (at least not in the constitutional sense).


We Used To Write 'Em Very Fast....


Well, at least Mr. Jones never made a K-Tel Record.

Or wore a rug.



Friday, March 23, 2007

Not-So Sweet Sixteen


This post has absolutely nothing to do with March madness whatsoever.

Unless, of course, you count madness of the non-hardwood kind.

Madness like, say, this:

Appearing puzzled by the financial details, the jurors (in the Black trial) sat up when (prosecutor) Cramer told them how Lord Black used a corporate jet for a holiday on the Pacific island of Bora Bora at a cost of $US500,000.

He projected a slide of Lord Black’s US Customs declaration on returning to Seattle from French Polynesia, on which he had ticked “Personal” when asked the purpose of his trip.

Which, I'm sure, is all very fine grist for the mill.

But here is the really bizarre part.

The prosecutor introduced an email in which Lord Black, questioned about the jet, said: “I am not prepared to reenact the French Revolutionary renunciation of the rights of nobility . . . We are proprietors after all, beleaguered though we may be.”

Beleaguered, indeed.

Especially when you find out that the self-proclaimed proprietor, beleaguered or otherwise, actually only owned 16% of the company.

(Hollinger International's former chief executive Gordon) Paris testified for more than two hours yesterday and today, telling jurors about Hollinger's corporate structure, which allowed Black to control the company while owning only 16 percent of the stock.

Now, far be it for us to question the good Lord's knowledge of history but, to the best of our knowledge, there was never a time during the French Revolution when the peasants owned 84% of the nobility's stock.



Thursday, March 22, 2007

Whither Canuckistan?


I remember the old days.

It was 2004 and despite all that had already happened many folks, myself included, still believed in the basic tenets of American exceptionalism.

Now to believe that you had to buy into the possibility that, viscious political tactics and ideological extremism notwithstanding, Mr. Bush and the folks that run him, are, at the most basic level, actually trying to do the right thing.

And so, back then, even after Abu Graihb broke, the most progressive and thoughful of American bloggers often held back.

Bloggers like Billmon.

Clearly, Billmon had a great admiration for Seymour Hersh, and while he gave the original Abu Ghraib relevations great play you could see that they also gave him great pause.

Because, while the initial revelations were an indictment of BushCo, as a thinking person who still believed in all that
could be good in an implied American exceptionalism, Billmon could not bring himself, at least in the beginning, to believe that the entire system was rotten to the core.

As a result, he really let fly at any and all posters who suggested that it was. Kate Storm, who we wrote about last week, was one of the ones that got hit in the cross-fire.

But then the deluge came, and even very skeptical people like Billmon came to realize what had truly become of their country.

....the revelations kept on coming, day after day, until the White House torture memos and the dead ghost prisoner wrapped in saran wrap finally came to light.

To his credit, Billmon changed his tune and let the posters go. But he himself started to slip when it became clear that most of the American ruling class, the So-Called-Liberal-Media, and a good chunk of the electorate just didn't give a damn.

And then he really lost his footing when he was forced to watch Colin Powell, up close and personal, soil himself, his State Department, and his country over and over again during a speech at a Davos meeting in Jordan.

After that Billmon disappeared, only to reappear a few months later with a vengeance just before the 2004 Presidential elections, at which time I wondered, perhaps in a slightly wild-eyed way, if what had happened there could ever happen here:

(Billmon first reappeared with) with a short, viscious rant on the OpEd page of the LA Times that was followed by a weird, HST-inspired, Mojo-Rising image on his site that came down almost as fast as it went up.

And now it looks like he's climbed the ladder to roof and has stepped out into the void once more.

This time around he pulls no punches, directly comparing the BushCo Loyalty oath that is being administered all over the U.S., and especially in swing states like Florida, to similar bouts of fascist flim-flammery that were so prevalent in pre-war Germany.

But what really scares him now is not so much the fact that the Rovians have stooped to this level of play acting, but rather the fact that the rank and file is lapping it up.

So, the question for us 'still feeling superior' Canadians is, if BushCo wins and the Anschluss
comes, will we roll over and play the lapdog too?

Now many among us still have grave concerns about that ever creeping, ever crawling Anschluss.

But, clearly, that is not our gravest concern at the moment.

Because, instead, the greatest danger is currently coming from within.

The evidence?

The very recent words of our sitting Prime Minister:

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper accused the Liberals of showing "passion" for the Taliban and not supporting Canadian troops Wednesday during a bitter exchange in the House of Commons after Grit Leader Stephane Dion called for the resignation of Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor.

"I can understand that the leader of the Opposition and members of his party feel for Taliban prisoners. I just wish occasionally they’d show the same passion for Canadian soldiers," Harper said in the House of Commons.

Why is this important?

Because it was tactics like these.........

Tactics like these, in which anyone who questioned fundamental policy decisions - decisions that, for example, could result in the banishment of captured prisoners to black holes of torture, were branded as traitorous or worse.

And it was tactics like those, everyone now realizes, that the Neocons used to start pushing the the snowball rolling towards the fires of hell down south.

And Dave, he of The Galloping Beaver, who knows of what he speaks. explains why this really, matters to us, right now, up here in Canada.

If prisoners are being handed over to another power and our commanders in theatre cannot confirm that those prisoners are being properly treated, then a war-crime is being committed.

Only Harper could translate a concern for protecting our forces from possible involvement in a war-crime as not supporting the troops.

Go and read Dave's entire post, it is very, very good indeed; but be forewarned, he does not mince words.



Tuesday, March 20, 2007

They Know Who They Are


Oh, my:

If it had been hoped that the play-within-a-play that is the Conrad Black trial would proceed with a measured sense of decorum, those hopes have been vigorously dashed not by any of the main actors, but by the marquee supporting cast member.

For as Barbara Amiel Black, in the company of her husband and stepdaughter, advanced into an elevator in the federal courthouse here in Chicago, she turned on two journalists, Stefani Langenegger of CBC Radio News and Joanna Walters of The Daily Express, and, clearly losing track of the script that she should be following in the many weeks ahead, snapped.

This is what she said: "You are all vermin."

The "you" in question would be the throng of media assigned to cover the fraud and racketeering trial of the downfallen media baron, Conrad Black. According to the two journalists in question, Amiel, just seconds before the doors closed, lashed out at a television producer with an even more ill-starred choice of words. Or rather, word.

This is what she said: "Slut."

Which just couldn't be allowed to lay there like like a blob of still, but nonetheless quivering, goo the middle of Chicago's Division St.

So the good Lord's Lady started it spinning her web of goo almost immediately:

Barbara Amiel Black won't confirm or deny using harsh language to describe a female journalist covering her husband's fraud trial.

But the wife of Conrad Black says remarks were made in a private conversation with her stepdaughter and about "specific journalists" who "know who they are." Amiel Black reportedly referred to some reporters as "vermin" and called one a "slut."

Now a scant couple of days ago we wondered, only half-tongue in cheek, but certainly not mockingly, if Ms. Black, with her ever present reporter's notebook, was playing the part of Harper Lee and/or Truman Capote as she covers her husband's trial and the role that his former business partner, and now arch nemesis, Boo! Radler will play in it.

But with this new turn of events some may instead wish to ponder the possibility that Lady Black is actually doing her best play the part of a very different pundit/character from a very different opera.

However, it would be a grave mistake to suggest that Lady Black has suddenly decided make like a raven-haired version of, oh say, Ms. Anne Coulter.

Unless, of course, the latter suddenly starts wearing much better clothes.

And/or jewellery.



Saturday, March 17, 2007

Everything Is A Lie.


That's it.

That is what 'The Donald' actually said.

Well that and this:

"Bush is probably the worst president in the history of the United States"

I am not making this up.

And, what's more, Mr. Trump stated these two things unequivocally, on camera, to the Wolfman, no less.

CrooksAndBushes has the video.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Groping In The Darkness


I wonder if anybody ever said the following to Richard Perle, late at night, in a darkened room when he was going to Hollywood High way back in the 1950's:

I reached up from where I was sitting on the floor and patted him on the goddam shoulder.

"You're a prince, Ackley kid," I said. "You know that?"

"No, I mean it. I can't just tell somebody they can sleep in......"

"You're a real prince. You're a gentleman and a scholar kid," I said.

He really was too.
J.D. Salinger, A Catcher In The Rye
Little, Brown and Co., 1951

A prince.


That's Mr. Perle alright.

Or, to be a little more specific, the 'Prince of Darkness' who also just happens to be one of the architects of all that is rotten in today's America.

And now, the fine crony that he has always been, despite protestations to the contrary, the dark prince is, apparently, getting set to testify on behalf of the good Lord:

The jurors who will sit in judgment of former Hollinger International chairman Conrad Black filled out a 37-page questionnaire that included such queries as whether they follow financial news regularly or hold any opinions about Canadians.

Released publicly this afternoon, the questionnaire included 78 questions and also shed more light on who might appear as witnesses in the corporate corruption trial.

Among the 84 names listed as potential witnesses were many luminaries already expected to appear at trial, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Bush Administration advisor Richard Perle and former Illinois Gov. James Thompson.

All three men served as board members during Black's allegedly corrupt tenure as chairman of Hollinger, now known as Sun-Times Media Group Inc.

And the good Dr. K. as well?


You almost expect somebody to ask a young lawyer at the defense table, or perhaps that fine fellowtraveller, the Canadian, David Frum, the following:

"Is it safe?"

Except, of course, for the fact that there does not appear to be a dentist in the entire bunch.



Boo! Radler Settles His Accounts


Well, well.

It looks like one of the pillars of the defense may have fallen.

Here is what Mr. Conrad Black had to say about his former associate, and now witness for the prosecution, Mr. David David Radler, recently.

Black has called Radler's deal with prosecutors surprising and has said "the obligation of all of us is to tell the truth."

He added, "If the truth is he did commit a felony, better to admit it. If he goes further and tries to incriminate innocent people, that's something else."

Only problem is, it doesn't look like the trangressions of Mr. Black's doppleganger that goes Boo!-in-the-night are considered to be felonious any longer.

Because Mr. Radler has, apparently, just today settled up his accounts:

David Radler, the former chief operating officer of media company Hollinger International Inc., has agreed to pay $28.7 million (all figures U.S.) to settle fraud charges, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday.

The SEC alleges that Radler and Conrad Black, Hollinger International's former CEO, who is standing trial in Chicago, engaged in a fraudulent scheme to divert cash and assets from the company from 1999 through 2003.

The SEC accused Radler of misappropriating millions of dollars from the Chicago-based company and making numerous misstatements to shareholders.


Wonder what the number would be if the good Lord decided it was time to do a little settling himself?

What's that we hear?


We shall see.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Boo! Radler


Our favorite high/low light from day one of the trial of the Lord we can no longer call our own:

Dressed in a grey suit with a blue shirt and tie, Lord Black arrived early with his daughter, Alana, and his wife, Barbara Amiel. “I'm fine,” he said after stopping briefly to chat with a few reporters on his way into the courtroom. Lady Black did not comment and took a seat behind her husband, who sat at a long table with his legal team. Dressed in a pantsuit, Lady Black took notes throughout the day in a small reporter's notebook.

Which is all well and good as far as it goes.

But which part, we wonder, was the fine Lady playing with her small reporter's notebook - that of Harper Lee, or perhaps the real writer of the story, Truman Capote?

Either way, you can bet that all concerned, both at and behind the good Lord's 'long table' are hoping that David Radler turns out, ultimately, to play the part of Boo Radley, rather than that of the snitch who came in from the cold.

Because Boo ......errrr..... Mr. Radler really does look to be Patrick Fitzgerald's star witness:

The testimony of David Radler in the trial of Conrad Black is expected to be the denouement of a nearly 40-year partnership that saw the men build Canada's biggest newspaper chain through acquisitions and frugal cost management*.

In a trial that features a witness list littered with personalities such as Henry Kissinger and former Illinois governor James Thompson, it is Radler who is set to take centre stage, a star for the prosecution.

The longtime business partner known for staying out of the public spotlight appears in position to do the most damage to Black.

The son of a Montreal restaurant owner, Radler was an odd match for the scion of a wealthy Toronto family, but the men found a way to work together.

David Spencer, a professor of information and media studies at the University of Western Ontario, said Radler was there from the beginning as he joined with Black and Peter White to buy the Sherbrooke Record in Quebec. The group would go on to build a newspaper empire.

"Black was looking for someone like this and he happened to click and it paid off," Spencer said.

But if Mr Radler does, in response to the not so gentle prodding of Mr. Fitzgerald prosecutors, decide to sing rather than go Boo! in the night, well, it appears that the good Lord has already, if you'll pardon our use of the term, 'telegraphed' his next move:

Black has called Radler's deal with prosecutors surprising and has said "the obligation of all of us is to tell the truth."

He added, "If the truth is he did commit a felony, better to admit it. If he goes further and tries to incriminate innocent people, that's something else."

In other words, it's Boo who's the real devious, sleazy bad guy, while the good Lord has been duped all the way down the line.

Which some might buy, I suppose, except for the fact that things like this, apparently from good Lord's own 'long table' itself, keep popping up:

The flamboyant American billionaire Donald Trump is likely to give evidence for the defence of Conrad Black, in a legal coup for the fallen media baron disclosed days before the start of his racketeering trial.

Mr Trump is tipped to tell a Chicago court that he attended a surprise birthday party in 2000 for Lord Black's wife, Barbara Amiel-Black, and that he considered the evening to be a business event rather than a mere personal celebration.

The party for 80 people at New York's La Grenouille restaurant cost $62,000, (£31,000) including $13,935 for wine and champagne. Lord Black put $40,000 of the cost on expenses and the sum was paid by his Hollinger media empire.

You got that?

If true, this means that the defense is planning to bring in the Donald to say that $62K parties for the good Lord's wife (ie. not the original Missus) were actually business meetings such that the sums recouped from Hollinger were legitmate rather than robbery.


No question.

No deviousity on display there whatsoever, either in the original act or in the bizarre solipsistic defense strategy.

And besides, why not blame it all on Boo anyway.


Except for one small thing.......

In the Lee/Capote tale didn't Boo turn out to be the good guy in the end?

Here's hopin'.

*Don't you just love that term "frugal cost management". Sounds a whole lot better than 'slash and burn' doesn't it.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

So Much For The WinWin Strategy In Lotusland


OK - here comes one of those, half-a-mama-mea-culpa-type deals......

Awhile back I wrote a post based upon a very thoughtful commenter's lengthy suggestion that it might be possible for the Liberals and the NDP to both pick up seats in Lotusland if they would just get a little more selective in where they put their star/winnable candidates, not to mention their money and machines.

And, oh boy, did it lead to a great discussion.

A lot of folks liked the idea, but some hated it, especially our good friend Alison: can you possibly justify a post calling for the NDP to prop up the Libs - not the least egregious of Lib legislation mind you but the actual Lib party - two posts down from one where you bewail both the income gap and the machinery that convinces people to vote against their own interests?


.......Every single election the Libs say we have to vote "strategically" for them in order to keep the Cons out.

How's that working out for us so far?

Now, ever since then, which is less than two weeks ago, I've started at least 36 response posts wherein I try to argue that it Alison's point is moot because these particular HarperCons are so scary that, regardless, we have to work together (even if we don't actually unite) in order to stop them. And the linchpin of my argument has been Saanich and the Islands where the Dippers could, if they really went for it, unseat Gary Lunn. But to do so they would have to tacitly agree to leave the Libs alone in other South Van Isle ridings where they can't beat them, but could defeat them (ie. by leaving the spoils to the Cons).

Makes sense, right?

I mean even if you disagree with the strategy, it makes sense in terms of the mechanics of the thing.


Except now my whole argument, at least for the moment, is about to be thrown out the window into the street (and when it hits the pavement below Alison's point will no longer even have the faintest whiff of mootness about it. In fact, it will only grow in power, perhaps exponentially because, as she also said - reasons matter).

And here's why - via S.M. Holman:

A star candidate is about to descend into Saanich-Gulf Islands. In an interview with Public Eye, Land Conservancy of BC co-founder Briony Penn, former host of the environmental magazine show Enviro/Mental on CHUM TV, confirmed she'll be running for the federal Liberal nomination in that riding. "The rumour is correct. I'm turning in my nomination papers. They're not in yet. But that's my job today. It's kind of time."

Clearly, when I wrote my original piece I had forgotten who's actually running Mr. Dion's show out here in Lotusland.



Who Does He Love?


Well, certainly his second, and current, wife, Lady Black, whom he married a scant few months after divorcing the former Missus, not Lady, Black.

And while he most certainly, or at least most likely, does not have, as George Thorogood and/or Bo Diddley would have described it......

A cobra snake for a necktie

Or .....

A brand new house on the road side, and it's a-made out of rattlesnake hide*

We can't help but wonder.....

Who else does Lord Black, in this his hour of need, really love?

Because, at least according to Anne Applebaum, who once worked for the good Lord, it is most certainly not the people who have invested in his companies, the people who have worked for him, or, dare we mention it lest it influence his rumoured application to re-up his citizenship, Canadians:

"I once attended a Hollinger dinner at which he seated himself between the Princess of Wales and Margaret Thatcher, across from Henry Kissinger and the crown princess of Jordan. One can only admire his nerve. Like Melmotte, he often acted as if he were too grand for the rules of law and etiquette that applied to ordinary people. He openly voiced his scorn for the "ignorant, lazy, opinionated, intellectually dishonest and inadequately supervised" journalists who worked for him, the "self-righteous hypocrites" who bought shares in his company, as well as the citizens of Canada, a country "without a serious political opposition," whose "capricious and antagonistic" prime minister had refused to allow him to remain Canadian and receive a British peerage."

Which begs another, perhaps more important question, at least with respect to the good Lord's peace of mind in the coming days.

Who, other than the afore-mentioned Lady B., really loves him?

(and we're not talking about the people/lawyers he pays to do his bidding)


*Well, now that we think about it, we can't exactly vouch for this one for sure, especially given this and this from the not-so distant past.