Monday, November 30, 2009
And, as Alison and the good Reverand both note.....
Why, exactly, was Ms. Blatchford leaked info. considered to be too 'top secret' for the Parliamentary Committee looking into the matter of detainee transfers in Afghanistan?
Update: More on who gets what, when, and sometimes why(?) from Kady O here and here.
Who is this 'Judy' you may be asking? Well, we are referring, of course, to the most esteemed journalistic receiver of leaks to the south of us, Ms. Judith Miller.....Which begs the question.....Does Ms. Blatchford, too, have an ultimate cut-out?
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
We have noted many times in the past how Gordon Campbell's personal 'Public Affairs Bureau' is, by far, the single largest media (and media-sniffing) apparatus in the entire province of British Columbia.
And while we always knew that these fine folks (folks who visit this site early and often every time His Majesty's name is mentioned amongst the pixels) were massaging the messages for public consumption, we never, even our wildest conspiratorial fever-dreams, figured the PAB was massaging the message for Cabinet Ministers.
Paul Willcocks, based on some very fine digging by Rob Shaw and Lindsay Kines of the Victoria Times-Colonist has the story:
So, when Citizens' Services Minister Ben Stewart learned — seven months late — that a government employee already being investigated for fraud had been caught with confidential information on 1,400 British Columbians from ministry files, who tells him?
Not his deputy, or officials responsible for privacy or from the ministry involved.
A Public Affairs Bureau staffer brought the minister up to date. How long did the branch responsible for the government's messaging know?
That's still a secret.
Rob Shaw and Lindsay Kines from the Times Colonist have been reporting on the issue.
The newspaper argues in an editorial today that Stewart should resign.
1) Why does the PAB even have this information, information of critical important to the private lives of a signifiant number of British Columbians?
2) What else does the PAB know that Cabinet Ministers of this Province don't?
Here's hoping Messr's Shaw and Kines are able to get answers these questions and the other three 'W's' as well.
The VT-C editorial linked to above is a good one and a very fine example of the public service that an unfettered, hard-charging proMedia organ can provide. However, we think the real issue here is not Mr. Stewart but rather the concentration of power in the Premier's office that is exemplified by the secret tentacles of the PAB that slither out from under it's tightly controlled and closed (except, of course, to the chosen few who pay to open them) doors.
Friday, November 27, 2009
I understand that a lot of mess that the City of Vancouver is in regarding its budget can be laid at the feet of Smilin' Sammy and The Spamaloteers.
And I also understand that holding the line on taxes is probably a huge issue for the Pols whispering in his Gregorousness' ear.
This business of closing the Bird Conservatory and the Stanley Park Petting Zoo can not stand, for all kinds of reasons, including many of those that Mr. Berner has been shouting about for some time now.
Let's forget all the nuts-and-bolts 'retail vs. wholesale' politics crap for a moment and just consider what the heckfire is really going on here.
First, we currently have a $2.8 million dollar annual Parks budget shortfall.
Second, the Five-Ringed Circus' three week security budget is now $1 billion and counting.
Or, put another way (using the addition, subtraction and long division skills that I've been honing recently helping littler e. with her math homework).....
....Dismantling even half of that ridiculous, wasteful circus police state apparatus would leave us with $500 million extra dollars which would be enough to ensure that the kids, the grandkids, the great grandkids, the great-great grandkids and the great-great-great grandkids of Vancouver's current taxpayers would be able to visit the birds and pet the lambs for approximately 178.57142 years.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
(Post-Show Update: Really, really great, and greatest of all for Bigger E ,I think....With the moviesongs, the swellstuff, and even some fantasmagoric frameology swirled into the mix with a dash of audience parts as well...no Mr. Christopher, but a fine tribute to the Clancy Brothers, 'Ireland's first rock-stars' to close.....Real review to follow, maybe.... Unless, of course, I get to tabbing and, dare I suggest it at the age of 50...just go out there and just start busking...)
...Here comes The Swell Season!
And any & everybody they want to bring up on the stage straight out of the crowd.....
The two E's and me* are on our way to see 'em tonight.
Here's hoping they play a Mic Christopher tune or two.
(or maybe even three?)
Here's the set up of how Moji came to come up on stage with Hansard and Irglova et al. in Houston last week.
And here's a nice review of the Seattle show from a few days ago.
*And Mrs. Griffiths, just in case you're out there somewhere, the bad grammar was entirely intentional....Ha!
Update: OK, so here's something just a wee bit ghost-in-the-machinery-istic or, at the very least, 'Broken Hearted Hoover-Fixer-Sucker-Guy-esque'.....Early this morning I get a blogsearch hit on the Swell Season from Ireland....Then about an hour later an E-mail alert leads to a remote hit on the specific link to this post from Snoqualmie Washington....So what, you ask?....Well, here's the thing, the group played Portland last night, and as was made clear during the Jason Segal/Freaks and Geeks incident in Los Angeles recently, they are travelling by bus....So....wonder where, exactly, the gang stopped for breakfast this morning on the way up from Oregon's Garden City?....
(or perhaps even, oh hell, how about a fourth even if it's not really Mic's?)
There was a bunch more pre-trial legal wrangling before the judge yesterday.
You can get the bare bones of the thing, which apparently centered around the admissability of the testimony from the highly immunized Star Witness, in the public prints.
If you want it.
But if you want to read what really went down you'll have to rely on the Bloggodome.
More specifically, you'll have to rely on the the eyewitness reports of Robin Mathews, EM and North Van Grumps over at Mary's place.
Oh, and just so you know, North Van Grumps counted heads.
And the bloggers out-numbered the working press in the gallery (scroll down):
"....Of the 7 in the gallery: Neal Hall and Keith Fraser were there to represent the "Press", Robin Matthews, EM (and a friend) and myself (NVG) were there representing BC Mary. The seventh participant reminded me of Stuart Chase who was paid by the A G office to look in on the proceedings on behalf of the government, but in this case the official was none other than a fully armed, bullet proof vested RCMP which led me to the front desk on the way out of the BC Supreme Court building to ask the equally bullet proofed recectionist ....WHY. Why have an office on duty inside the public gallery area. The reply was "To give testimony." "Really"......"
Sunday, November 22, 2009
We've sequenced the human genome and we've identified a bunch of small chunks (ie. genes) that are messed-up and/or mutated in a bunch of different diseases.
What's the problem?
I mean, why haven't we fixed all these diseases by putting in good genes that aren't messed-up in the cells that need them.
Well, it turns out that the real problem is that we've been unable to figure out how to get those fixed genes into the cells that need them in an efficient and non-toxic manner.
We've tried all kinds of ways to do it, including using otherwise crippled viruses as a 'vector' to deliver them.
But there have always been all kinds of problems and concerns, some of them really, really bad that have put the kibosh on full steam-ahead 'Gene Therapy' for quite some time.
Until, maybe...... now.
Here's the somewhat breathy NPR report on the very recent breakthrough:
"Researchers in France have successfully treated two young boys with a rare but fatal genetic disease. This marks a high point for the field of gene therapy after several well-publicized setbacks.
Patrick Aubourg leads the French research team. Since 1993, he's been working on a disease called X-linked adrenoleukoDYSTROPHY — or ALD. ALD is a devastating neurological disease, incapacitating and ultimately killing people who have it. Many people became familiar with ALD from the 1992 movie Lorenzo's Oil, which featured a young boy affected with this disease.
Since ALD is caused by a single gene, it's an ideal candidate for gene therapy. Put the repaired gene back into patient's cells, and that should fix the problem.
Simple in theory, but in practice, it's been extremely difficult. The biggest hurdle has been finding an efficient way to get the repaired gene into the cells of patients. One of the tricks involves attaching the gene to a virus. The virus acts as a vector, inserting the repaired gene into cells......"
Now, if any climate change deniers and/or Email 'hack and release' experts are reading this, please note the use of the term 'trick' above.
And when you do, please do not make the mistake in inferring that something nefarious is going on, because when cell and molecular biologists figure out an elegant way to do something we often do call those things tricks.
And in fact, in this case, the fine french folks under consideration used three very neat tricks to pull this off.
Here is the less breathy description of what they did, straight from their abstract in the top-of-the-ladder journal 'Science':
....Autologous CD34+ cells were removed from the patients, genetically corrected ex vivo with a lentiviral vector encoding wild-type ABCD1, and then re-infused into the patients after they had received myeloablative treatment.....
So (again, squared).
What does this mean in regular language?
Well, they first isolated Stem cells that are marked by a 'CD34' tag from the bone marrow of the patients themselves (that's the 'autologous' part). Second, they stuck the normal gene into the isolated stem cells while they were in a test tube using a fancyvirus that will get into non-dividing isolated cells (that's the 'lentiviral vector' part). Then, third, they stuck the modified stem cells back into the patients' bodies so that they could get busy and develop normally and do their normal rather than messed-up thing.
And what happened?
Well, so far the following, taken, again, directly from the Science paper's abstract:
"....Beginning 14 to 16 months after infusion of the genetically corrected cells, progressive cerebral demyelination in the two patients stopped...."
Neat tricks, eh?
And just so you know, 'cerebral demyelination' is the process that wrecks nerves in the brain that causes the debilitating 'dystrophy' part of the disease.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
There is a whole lotta spinning, crowing, and gnashing of teeth going down about a batch of Emails, some of them 13 years old, between a passel of climate scientists this weekend.
So much so that the whole 'flap', which is based on a 'hack-and-release' from academic servers at the University of East Anglia*, was fronted by the NY Times today:
"Hundreds of private e-mail messages and documents hacked from a computer server at a British university are causing a stir among global warming skeptics, who say they show that climate scientists conspired to overstate the case for a human influence on climate change.
The e-mail messages, attributed to prominent American and British climate researchers, include discussions of scientific data and whether it should be released, exchanges about how best to combat the arguments of skeptics, and casual comments — in some cases derisive — about specific people known for their skeptical views. Drafts of scientific papers and a photo collage that portrays climate skeptics on an ice floe were also among the hacked data, some of which dates back 13 years......"
I am not a climate scientist.
But I am a scientist.
And here's something everyone should know.......
Scientists fight about everything.
In fact, we fight about every single detail - from data we view as either good or bad, to hypotheses we see as either untestable or sublimely elegant, to conclusions we view as either craptacular and/or spectacular, to peer-reviewers who drive us crazy because they either miss the point entirely or because they are hard-assed in the extreme (who, if they are fair, are the really good ones that matter).
And all of this, which has absolutely nothing to do with conspiracies or cover-ups, is small potatoes compared to the massive line brawls that are routinely triggered by a dogma-callout in the midst of a rousing end-to-end, wide-open idea fest (ie. the finest kind of scientific meeting/conference).
Because niceness means less than zero when you are really trying to figure out what is going on.
*And, no, this is NOT the plotline from an old Monty Python sketch (although in some screamer quarters it probably could be)......
From the Big Willbowski:
The story starts in 2008. Liberal MP Gerry Byrne prepared a motion calling on the government to introduce an airline passenger’s bill of rights. Travellers would be guaranteed remedies for lost bags, unreasonable delays or overbooked flights. The model was similar to protection in Europe...
...MPs from all parties professed to support the idea, including then transport minister Lawrence Cannon.
But behind the scenes, his office was pleading with the airlines to launch a lobby campaign to defeat the motion, according to documents obtained by Canwest News Service.
While Cannon was promising to bring in a travellers’ bill of rights, a key political staffer in his office was telling the airlines the Conservatives really wanted it killed.
Lobby the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois, Paul Fitzgerald e-mailed the airlines. “I don’t want us to be forced into regulating passenger protection issues.”
It’s creepily dishonest. The minister is pretending to stand up for passengers while his staff is rallying the industry to kill protection.....
But worse is the name that was scrawled in lipstick on the pig that became the bill that was apparently in large part written by the airline industry itself:
When they set up their 20 thousand league columns of five billion watt blast furnaces in the Beaufort Sea in a concerted effort to finally open up that pesky Northwest Passage year round, will John Baird announce that it is to be called the "Sea-Ice Restoration Project"?
The Willbowski can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the story was broken by Sarah Schmidt of CanWest who did some FOI digging and came up with an amazingly unredacted document that really got the bowling ball rolling.
Friday, November 20, 2009
I realize that The Maceman has been real busy recently covering torch relays and such way up in the (still?) frozen North and all....
Hasn't it been kind of a tough week for one of his most secret of secret sauce sources?
And no, we're not talking about a fine former public servant with an accounting background whose first initial is the same as that of my kids.......Honest.
We have a new member.
And his name is BJ Chute.
Mr. Chute is the B.C. Paramedics spokesperson and this is what he told Crawford Kilian of The Tyee about Mr. Chris Trumpy, the very fine fellow who has been appointed by Mr. Gordon Campbell to lead the industrial inquiry that will look into the 'dispute' between the B.C. Ambulance Service and the paramedics:
"Trumpy is a longtime friend of this government," Chute told The Tyee. He said Trumpy had been "hip deep" in the government's pre-election prediction of a $495 million deficit that became $4 billion after the election.
"He was also the chief government negotiator in the sale of BC Rail."
While we would dispute that last sentence just a wee-bit based on that org. chart that just keeps on giving, it is worth recalling that the good Mr. Trumpy was also a member of the RailGate Rewind's Top-20 due to, presumably, old gold like this.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Here, as quoted by Kirk Makin in the Globe, would appear to be a critical passage from from the Supreme's decision to keep the RailGate defense away from the so-called 'secret witness':
....“Where informer privilege has been claimed by the Crown, an accused's constitutional right to make full answer and defence does not alone trigger an exception to the privilege. It is only where innocence is at stake that the privilege yields and information tending to reveal the identity of the informant can be disclosed......”
Well, it seems that everything could change if the (I presume) latest RailGate trial judge rules that what the informer/secret witness has to say behind closed doors actually does get to the heart of the matter which is 'innocence at stake'.
And, truth be told, I only went looking for this reference to 'innocence at stake' after Bill Tieleman brought it up cryptically with Jon McComb on the (nolongerso)Giant'98 this morning....(and if only the geniuses at CORUS would make that a permanent line-up change)....
1) A royal English court or tribunal abolished in 1641, notorious for its secret sessions without jury.....
Not that I'd want to be found contempible of something or anything like that.
Or even link to anyone who would then be found to be so by association.
Here's a thought.
Maybe we should just redact....
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
In my opinion, and the opinion of many others much more knowledgable than myself, the 'Therapeutics Initiative' was a good thing for all British Columbians.
A report from a group headed by a Gordon Campbell-appointed bureaucrat, a bureaucrat whose compensation was paid by all British Columbians, is being used as ammunition to gun the 'Therapeutics Initiative' down in the street.
.....The bureaucrat who chaired the group that handed Gordon Campbell that ammunition has now been hired by a multinational pharmaceutical corporation that will profit from the death of the initiative.
This is madness.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Late last week, thanks in large part to the work of Monte Paulsen in The Tyee, it became clear that the latest conservative candidate in New Westminister-Coquitlam, a riding that the Cons lost by only three percentage points in the last general, was ducking the press and/or her 'potential' constituents in the run-up to Monday's by-election.
A by-election where that StealthCon candidate was destroyed by a Dipper named Donnelly by almost 15 points.
What's the real story here?
I ask because, normally, the Big Boys from party headquarters will reign in a candidate when they are either in the lead, or the race is very tight, to ensure that they don't say something stoopid (and/or true) that will derail them if they lose just a point or two if the puffed-up punditry takes them to task over it.
But surely the Conservative braintrust must have had internal rolling poll numbers that told them that their latest horse, Ms. Diana Dilworth, was way behind as the Bye-Bye in NewWest-Coq came around the clubhouse-turn and entered the final stretch.
So, given that, why didn't they unleash her so that she could throw a few haymakers against the Dipper in an effort to make up lost ground?
Could it be that the man with the white moustache who rode into Lotusland on a big white horse that just happened to have Hunter S. Thompson's initials branded on its left flank last week put the Big Cons biggest brains in a corner that they couldn't possibly have gotten out of without suffering a thrashing on the larger regional stage if they had gone after the local Dipper?
And could that H.S.T., even if it is only hated even a third as much in Ontario as it is out here in British Columbia right now, cause some real problems for both the Big Cons and their enablers (see: Iggy and The Puffins) when we go back to the polls for real next time out?
What do you all think?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Last night I had to go to a deal with a passel of well-dressed people to do some science-geek proselytizing.
In some circles at least it was probably considered a reasonably big deal.
Especially because this guy was there.
Only thing is - the two e.'s were home alone because C. was off working on a show so, even though it was getting late, I stopped in at our local movie store to get something for them after I was done.
I settled on the US Americans version of 'The Office'.
We're about halfway through season three - which is how my kids watch TV -after the fact and in bunches.
In fact, we just finished a four month project to get through the first three seasons of Mary Tyler Moore - the e's like the weirdly cool womens fashions and Mr. Grant's stubby ties.
Anyway, this (and, truth be told, a recent book review in The Globe by Cynthia Macdonald) reminds me of something that Barbara Ehrenreich kinda/sorta once said:
Or some such thing.
Have a nice 1 day mid-week weekend everybody - and don't forget to remember someone real.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
....And, when need be, even Ninjas.
The HarperCons have not admitted specifically to being involved in any of this.
But, in a report posted on the CBC's Poli-Blog yesterday, Rosemary Barton did tell us this:
".....the Conservatives do use the automated dialer message system. In this case (the by-election campaign in Riviere du Loup), they say they've used it three times only. And never pretending to be anyone from the Bloc....."
Who, besides, oh I dunno, Frank Luntz and/or David St. Hubbins, would'a thunk it?
Will any of the pundits bring this, from the Canadian Press, up?
OTTAWA — The Bloc Quebecois filed a police complaint over what it described as sabotage in one of four federal byelections Monday.
The Bloc says it contacted police after someone impersonated one of its members in a phone call Monday to voters in eastern Quebec. It says someone pretending to be Bloc MP Christiane Gagnon left bizarre, recorded messages urging people to vote for her colleague Nancy Gagnon.
Nancy Gagnon is hoping to hold the Riviere-du-Loup-area riding for the party, in a hotly contested race against the Conservatives.
The riding is considered a potential bellwether and victory would be considered a huge coup for the Tories.
The Bloc says someone pretending to be their Quebec City MP left halting, unprofessional-sounding phone messages urging people to vote for the Bloc - and it says the calls were designed to leave a negative impression of the party.
The MP filed a police complaint, party president Hugues Belzile signed an affidavit, and the party is also complaining to Elections Canada.
"What we want is an investigation to know who's behind this operation," Christiane Gagnon said in an interview.
Hmmmmmm......A closely constested riding..... Won by a Con with just a whiff of the RovianRoboCall about it....Now, let me think with my hindbrain for a second....Where have we smelled that before?
Monday, November 09, 2009
Update: All done....Cons win, as expected, in NScotia....Bloc wins big in Montreal's East End as expected....Dipper crushes StealthCon In NewWestCoquitlam.....But.....Con wins with an alleged whiff of the RoboCall in rural Quebec...
Elections Canada Results here....
7:15pm Monday Night:
The Nova Scotia seat that used to belong to Bill Casey was expected to go Con, and it did.
The two Quebec seats are not so clear from an expectations point of view.... Hochelaga in Montreal's East End is solid Bloc while in rural Rivière du-Loup nobody seems to know - and this could be the real bell-weather if the Cons show strong.
NewWest-Coquitlam likely hinges on how well the Dippers get out the vote and whether or not folks repudiate the strate(r)gy of the Stealth-Con.
And the real news?....In Lotusland there is no news......It's all pablum all the time on the airwaves...
7:40pm Monday Night
In Quebec, Hochelaga East End Mtl is going strong Bloc but rural Riviere du-Loop is a toss-up Bloc v. Con....Could this embolden The Steve?....Starting to count ballots in NWestCoq....
8:00pm Monday Night
185/257 polls reporting in rural Riviere du-Loop the Con is up by 3.5% over Blockhead.....Entering Mulroney-type territory?.... Lib is way, way gone....
8:05pm Monday Night
NewWestCoq: Early returns have Dipper with solid lead on StealthCon, but this is a weird riding where things could swing wildly poll-by-poll between the hearts of Salmonbellies vs CoqTown....
Riviere du-Loop: Con lead is holding with 209/257
Lively Dipper vs Lib Chat going on over at Cameron Holstrom's place....
8:25pm Monday Night
Riveire du-Loop: Looks like the Con will win....But....Get this....Bloc Candidate is complaining of.....RoboCalls!
NewWestCoq: I'm almost ready to exhale...10% of polls now in with a big Dipper lead (52/35)...
8:33pm Monday Night
RoboCalls in a closely contested race won by a Con?....hmmmmm....where has that happened recently?
8:40pm Monday Night
Half polls are in and Dipper Donnelly is crushing Stealth-Con Dilber.....errrr....Dilworth in NewWest-Coq...C.Press has called it Dipper (thanks PowellRiverPersuader!)...Best news of the night for sure...
Hate to say it, but.....The puffed-up punditry will very likely be piling on Iggy tomorrow....Then again, maybe I don't (hate to say it I mean)....
9:00pm Monday Night
All over 'xcept the crying....Scott Tribe did his best to defend the Iggster over at Cam Holmstrom's but, well, this is a Bye-Bye.....Thus, expectations matter a lot.... At least for the punditry who are going to be the ones (unfortunately) who tell the 97.43% of Canadians who WEREN'T paying attention what happened tomorrow...
It seems that British Columbia's comptroller general noticed more that was slightly amiss at BC Ferries than just CEO David Hahn's hugely bloated million dollar salary last week.....
Sean Holman of Public Eye, following up on a matter originally brought to our attention by the fine work of Justine Hunter in The Globe, has the (ever burgeoning) story:
Earlier, in an interview with The Globe and Mail's Justine Hunter, British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.'s president and chief executive officer said the former Crown corporation's new drop trailer service isn't being bankrolled by the approximately $125 million in funding it receives from the provincial government. Instead, that funding is only used to keep the company's minor routes afloat. But, in a recent report, comptroller general Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland acknowledged those taxpayer dollars could lead to the perception the ferry service has an "undue advantage" over private sector competitors, such as Seaspan Coastal Intermodal Co.....
Why is the man of many hats referred to in the header to this post?
That's because of an earlier report, not from Ms. Hunter, but instead from Mr. Holman, that noted Seaspan's newest (we can only assume), most highly consultative and content-intensive lobbyist:
....Now, four months later (in October 2009), Mr. (Kenneth) Dobell has signed-up as Seaspan Coastal Intermodal's lobbyist.
According to his filing with lobbyists registrar, the subject matter of his activities will be "government relationships.".....
Is this how it ends, not with a bang but the whimpering of a million old schmoes from SportsPage?
Mr. T, the Billman, has the story:
Word just out that Talk 1410 AM radio has shut down its operations and converted to an all sports format, to be known as TEAM 1410.
Also know as CFUN, Talk 1410 has been doing talk radio in various forms since 1996, most recently hiring former CITY TV broadcaster Simi Sara as their morning show host.
Condolences to Simi, producer Renee Lukacs and other news and talk radio staff there.
The shrinking world of Vancouver media unfortunately leaves less and less room for diverse opinions.
Me, I blame it on Philip Till's destruction of the not-so Giant'98's morning market dominance, which allowed Mr. Team's [see Carson, Paul] Boyz from CTVGlobeBellChumTSNRDSEverythingElseYouCanImagine Media) to gain a foothold in the Lotuslandian drive-time market.
That and the fact that the geniuses from CORUS gave up the rights to the Canuckleheads awhile ago and also made the decision to dump Mike Smyth and go with tape delays of Puff Daddy Addler in the evening slot.
One commenter over at Mr. T's asked why nobody (with a half-a-brain) listens to CBC Radio One.....Have they never been subjected to the swill served-up serially every single day by the CluffMaster Flash and Friends?
It all over the Interwebz that British Columbia's Comptroller General thinks that BC Ferries Co. CEO David Hahn is way overpaid at a cool million, plus, per year.
Apparently, the real problem is that the board and the attendant executive lackeys pretty much get to set their own compensation and ridiculously slack-eyed bonus benchmarks with relative opacity.
But the thing that I find most bizarre is the comparators that were used by these geniuses.
Specifically, they were not other public, or even private, transporation companies.
Instead, they decided they should be compared to the Captains of BranchPlant Industry that run highly complex sugar and water operations (eg. Coca Cola) and hamburger stands (eg. Macdonalds).
Which begs the question.....
Does this mean that Mr. Hahn already knows how to say:
Or will he have to learn it, from scratch, when we finally send him packing with the strings from his most crispy and golden parachute dangling between his legs?
Meanwhile, again, the price for a family of four and a regular-size car to and from the big island, return, is now $220, round-trip on a weekend (fries - fat Toigo, not skinny Kroc version- not included)....As our good friend GAB likes to say, "Fares up, ridership down.....Give Davey-Boy another hundred tho'!"...Or some such thing.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
First - the background.....
Yesterday, during the horse trading that led up to the historic vote on Healthcare Reform in the US Congress, which includes a provision for a real, honest-to-goodness kinda/sorta/almost 'public option', there was a vote on an amendment that was fronted by Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak to bar any government and/or private insurance funding of any procedure that could be even remotely construed as contributing to an abortion.
In the original voice-vote it looked like Stupak was going down....But then they went to a roll call vote....The Blue Dogs caved and....Surprise!.....The Neanderthals won.
Now, the fallback postion in all of this, as near as I can figure it, is that this would give the Conserve-A-Dems cover so that they could then vote (or at least allow) the Healthcare Reform bill to pass.
And it did.
So, what does Digby have to say about what really went down and why?
Well, here is her (yes, her) take:
....There are only 76 women in the House out of 435 --- 17%. 59 of them are Democrats and 17 are Republicans. Three of the Democrats are non-voting members (DC, Virgin Islands and Guam.)
Out of the 56 women in the Democratic caucus, only two voted for Stupak. All 17 Republican women voted for it.
What this adds up to is that 97% of the Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment were male. 90% of the Republicans were male.
I would have to guess that if more than 17% of the congress were women, there would be a little bit less likelihood that women's rights would be so often used as a handy tool to placate neanderthals.
That's just a guess.
Habits are hard to break....."
And hard numbers are hard to ignore.
What does this mean (as the puffed-up punditry are so fond of saying) 'going forward?
Well, if US Americans want to protect themselves from the Neanderthals they have to vote for more women.
Thing is, if you look really hard at Digby's numbers you can see that they have to be Democratic women because the Republicans of the female persuasion are, based on the evidence, apparently asexual Neanderbots from Uranus.
Or some such thing.
Lest we up here get too smug about all of this....
It is probably worth mentioning that we could soon find ourselves in a very similar situation in this, the country formerly known as Canuckistan?
Following up on Brenton's most excellent description of where, and how, to buy used books on Lotusland's main Main St, I figured now would be a good time to mention that William Gibson is......
And in parallel universe news, yesterday Mr. Walters picked up Pattern Recognition for a few bucks at Pulp Fiction on Main just below Broadway....Me, I got it for free at the VPL at Knight and The Stinkin' when littler e. couldn't find 'The Chamber of Secrets'.....(although she did order it from the very nice lady with beautiful eyes that I am absolutely convinced were not born in a vat in Chiba [maybe] who said it would only be a few days because there are a whole bunch of copies 'in the system')....
A political candidate managing their message and hiding from the evil media is one thing.
But refusing to show up at all-candidates meetings to discuss and debate the issues, in their own words, in front of real, live constituents is quite another.
Based on our analysis of the StealthCons over the last two election cycles, it has become increasingly clear that the practice of ducking all-candidates' meetings is now an endemic practice amongst many of the good and fine folks that make their deal at the cross-roads when they sign on the dotted-line and agree to be stage-managed by the party of Stephen Harper.
Most recent case in point, the (not-so-progressive) Conservative candidate who is running in next week's New Westminister-Coquitlam by-election.
Why does this stuff matter?
Because if there is even one real voter amongst the audience* who turned off the TV, put on his or her coat, and headed out the door into the rain to hear what a candidate has to say, unscripted, who got shafted by Ms. Dilworth's non-appearance.....
That would be fundamentally antithetical to all that participatory democracy in a full and open marketplace of ideas is supposed to be about.
In other words, that would be truly anti-Canadian.
So, given all that.......
Why does Stephen Harper, and the Luntzians that walk amongst him and his, hate Canada so much?
*As opposed to the rent-a-voter crowd and the true believers of all stripes that also show up at these things.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
The Healthcare reform pennant that is...but just barely....I've got it 218 to 214 with three to go....
Finally comes in at 220 to 215....Now the reason for the horse-trading earlier that threw a whole lotta uteruses under the bus becomes crystal clear (but, discussion at a number of sites indicates that the codswallop could be stripped out later in 'conference)....
And the bizarrity of it all....39 ConservaDems went Rethug DESPITE the Stupakkian Codswallop that was the fetus fetishist ammendment....Wow!....One Republican, Joseph Cao of Louisiana went the right (ie. left) way....Here's Josh Marshall's backgrounder on why Mr. Cao went as he did....looks like his constitutents might have something to do with it....ha!
PostTitle refers, of course, to this.....
8:09pmUpdate: 218.....They've Got It!
8:08pm Update: They need 4 votes with 7 possible left....holy crap!
8:06pm Update: Watching the numbers on CSPAN....It's really close!
There is some weird ConservaDem wrangling over 'abortion' happening but the smart money says that was done by Speaker Pelosi to lock-up the votes.
The Waterheads say that the real problem here is malpractice lawyers.
Or some such codswallop....
The final vote is going down, right now (8:00pm Saturday)....
Details to follow.
Best Proggodome site - FDL
Best Round-Up site - Politico
Best What's Really Goin' Down site - TPM
Best RawFeed - CSPAN
All In The Family/Archie Bunker Update, 7:20pm Saturday.....The Fetishizing is getting downright scary...but the smart money still says that this was the result of a horse-trading 'deal' cut by Pelosi to keep the votes for to preserve the main prize....Meanwhile the laugable Republican alternative bill (eg. no protection against health coverage cancellation due to pre-existing teen-age acne) is up....
Double-Secret Probation Update, 6:50pm Saturday....Watching Dingall close out the Dems side of the debate...It's an anti-waterheaded bit of wordsmithing in which he invokes his father who tried to do for the American public what is happening tonight back in....1943.
(Update, 6:15 PST Saturday....Despite a passel of last ditch fetus-fetishizing....Politico is reporting that Nancy Pelosi has the votes locked up...here's hopin'!)
I've been hanging around the Proggodome down South, on-and-off, pretty much all day long.
Because the U.S. Americans' Congress is debating a bill which, while far from perfect, could maybe/kinda/sorta actually start the ball rolling on real health care reform below the 49th parallel.
And as per usual, the good folks at Firedoglake are all over this one.
As a result, I was following a Live Blog from uber-pup Rayne when I came across the following regarding an argument 'against' reform that was 'raised' by Marsha Blackburn (R:InsuranceIndustryOfAmerica):
2:29 p.m. — Rep. Marsha Blackburn — finds this a very sad day to vote for this bill; cites examples of Canadian medicine where care wasn’t provided as horror stories…..Cites H1N1 (vaccine) shortage as example of failure of government healthcare....
Imagine my considerable consternation at such codswallop.
What to do....what to do?
I'll write them a comment AND a post (not that they need either from the likes of me)!
Here it is:
Sorry to go a little OT (but not really, because it speaks to the obfuscatory tactics of the 'Insurance Industry Protection Program' and their surrogates)
Marsha Blackburn can go to bloody hell.
Because up here in Canada, we are proud of how many folks with high risk of complication have been immunized against H1N1 already (ie. 20% of the total population in my province which represents 800,000 of mostly high risk folks in just two weeks since the publically-funded vaccine was rolled out).
What we do hate, however, are the selfish bastards of privilege who have been using the thin edge of the Anti-Universality wedge (ie. private clinics) to jump the queue and take vaccine from people that could actually die if they were to suffer complications due to this virus.
Bastards like this.
Marsha Blackburn is a shill and a liar.
It’s as simple as that.
(sorry for the interruption…and good luck with the vote folks…we’re pullin’ for you up here!)
First it was Alex G. Tsakumis making the move to our little corner of the Bloggodome.
And now it's Rickey Barnes, who is making a move back to the the Fever Swamps of Lotuslandia.
Here's what Rick had to say about the latest Stealth-Con candidate, Diana Dilworth, who is 'allegedly' running in next week's New Westminister-Coquitlam by-election:
Burquitlam Residents Association a group that has hosted all-candidates meetings for elections at all levels has been told to drop dead by Diana Dilworth, the Federal Conservative candidate for New Westminster—Coquitlam federal riding. It's the same game the Conservatives have been playing in the general elections. Avoid the scrutiny of the public where ever possible.
I just hope the folks that vote in the riding listen to what she is not saying. It's the same message that Stephen Harper is giving us today.
Can somebody please explain to me what, exactly, is even remotely 'collective' about this:
VANCOUVER - British Columbia has legislated its striking paramedics back to work.
After an all-night session at the provincial legislature, Bill 21 was passed, officially ending a strike that began in April.
Paramedics had still been working during the strike under an essential-services order from the provincial government.
The province moved to legislate the 3,500 paramedics back to work with less than a month to go in the current legislative session - the last regular sitting of the house before the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
The settlement outlined in the Ambulance Service Collective Agreement Act reflected the offer made to the union in September.....
I have no idea where this idea came from (ie. it arrived in a brown paper envelope wrapped in a riddle tied-up with an enigma and stuffed in a Funk and Wagnall's tin padded with Eat More bars on Halloween night) but.....
What if if a few thousand Five-Ringed Circus Tent Volunteers were to secretly (or not-so secretly via that evil Book of the Faces) get together and decide to stage a symbolic (and fleeting) sitdown strike for the cameras during, say, the Ceremonies of the Opening?
The image above, I believe, is from that rally for then dead MLA-guy walking, Stonewally Oppal, in Tsawwassen, during the last provincial election campaign where Premier Gordon Campbell's fully-twitterized bus pulled up WITHOUT him on it.....Why?.....Because the chicken-hearted anti-collectivist collaborator was sneaking in through the back door to avoid upset constituents and paramedics exercising their democratic right to peaceable assembly out front....Oh, wait.....maybe it was Courtenay.....
Friday, November 06, 2009
Earlier this week we mentioned that Vancouver's worst mayor ever is back to his old tricks again.
This time it's a bizarre mix of aynRandian-pseudoMarxist-Ann B. Toklas....errrrr....Davis-ness called, apparently, the "Global Civic Policy Society".
Rumour has it that some of the non-Caucusing Cityites round these here parts have already taken to calling it the 'GPS-With-A-C-In-It' given that it may actually be a way for the Smilin' One to locate himself in at all times as he careens back and forth across the Circle of 10 block radius that surrounds his Yaletown Condo while he constantly curses Lorne Mayencourt and Arthur Griffiths for not taking his calls.
Who better to take a run at this latest resurrection shuffle than Smiling Sammy's very own arch-nemesis and newly-minted member of the Lotuslandian Bloggodome, Mr. Alex G. Tsakumis:
(and try not to pee your pants laughing when you read AGT's stuff)
"....Sam Sullivan. The name alone simply conjures up thoughts and images of brazen stupidity, viral self-indulgence and incredible lying.
I have often been, inaccurately, credited with destroying Sam’s political career. Sam destroyed Sam’s political career. One dimbell once went so far as to suggest that I had paid City Hall staff to leak me information. Incredible.
So, today, my darlings, Sam the Sham is announcing something called the Global Civic Policy Society. After having read a cursory, but well-written review by The Sun’s Doug Ward yesterday, I am mystified as to how this charlatan of a man; a miserably failed former Mayor of Vancouver continues to pretend he’s on to something.As far as I can tell, if you administered an enema to what he’s offering as salient public policy alternatives, you could walk away with any redeemable value in a thimble. These initiatives he’s trumpeting are re-treads of almost every single failed policy that Vancouverites were up in arms about....."
Given that I don't want AGT to sic his Copyright Dogs on me, I'll stop there.
But I must note that, in addition to the acid-laced bon mots that he piles on top of Sam The Sham and His Pharohs' sinking sacrcophagus, Mr. Tsakumis also throws an actual newsworthy tidbit on the pyre when he waxes alleged-orical regarding one possible potential cash-cow backing the "GPS-With-A-C-In-It" project.
Meanwhile, in Spam-A-Lot Central (GAB, avert thine eyes).....Crickets!.....Although the web-lackey (or is that the clerk?) does offer up an 'editorial' on the nuts-and-bolts of an issue he is clearly an expert on (ha!).
And here we thought the Spamalotteers real expertise was in snow removal....Which reminds us, when are they going to blame this fall's 'Leafaggedon' (which could be coming to a storm drain near you this weekend -run for your lives!!!!) on His Gregorousness.....
Well, now, apparently there is also the cost of a report that just might (or might not) tell us why the predicted revenue from the Circus-Circus coming to town is actually going to be $6.7 Billion less than that which was first announced to the sounds of blaring trumpets and the bleatings of watercarriers or so many IOC-junkets ago.
How much did the report actually cost itself?
How about $2 million?
Ya, you read that right.
Two million lousy dollars for a 'report'.
Andrew MacLeod had that story, buried deep within the big lede of his $6.7B shortfall blockbuster, earlier this week in the The Tyee:
"....The province has more recent reports on the impacts of the Games that they've so far refused to release, he (NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston) said, including a $2 million study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
"Why wouldn't they just release those reports?" Ralston asked. "Maybe those reports don't support what they're saying publicly."
VANOC is also withholding a study by University of British Columbia professors Bob Sparks and Rob VanWynsberghe that was to look at the economic, environmental and social impacts of the Games and was to be released in June.
The minister of state responsible for the Olympic secretariat, Mary McNeil, was travelling with the torch relay and unavailable...."
All of which is chump change, right?
Unless, of course you are a paramedic and/or the parent of an autistic kid.
I mean, seriously, have these people no shame whatsoever?
I mean, how else to explain the following as a detailed by Justine Hunter yesterday in The Globe:
British Columbia's top health official says an Abbotsford doctor who vaccinated professional hockey players against the H1N1 virus this week broke the rules but will face no repercussions...
...Dr. Windt said doctors should be able to interpret the guidelines to decide who is eligible...
Really, Dr. Windt?
OK, which part of the following, precisely, from the same Globe story by Ms. Hunter, is open to 'interpretation'?
...Under B.C.'s vaccination protocol, the only people who should be getting the H1N1 vaccine right now are people under 65 with chronic health conditions, those who live in remote and isolated communities, children six months to five years of age, pregnant women, the caregivers of infants to six months of age and people with compromised immune systems. Some front-line health workers are also being offered the vaccine....
And where, exactly, did you find the words, 'healthy, young-adult hockey players' in that passage?
Or is that just an imaginative interpretive dance we see there on your I-Pod?
Or some such codswallop.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Monte Paulsen has the story in The Tyee. Here's his most excellent example of a classic inverted pyramid lede:
If the Conservative campaign now underway in New Westminster-Coquitlam says anything about how Prime Minister Stephen Harper hopes to win a majority in the next federal election, the message is this: Run for a strong economy, run against crime, and run away from public debate whenever possible......
All snark aside, the entire thing is a really fine piece of investigatory journalism.
Here is my earlier take on the plague of the StealthCons - this subversion of the democratic process is actually no laughing matter.
Here's what e. had to say on the way to school this morning:
It's the difference between someone missing a few hockey games and someone maybe dying, right Dad?"
Absolutely right, kiddo.
Here's the real thing.
The chances of Jerome Iginla, what with his stratospheric lung capacity and unlimited access to Tami-Flu, dying if he comes down with the flu caused by an H1N1 virus infection are infinitesimal (eg. really, really, really, really, really, really small to essentially non-existent).
As for any and all teenage kids with severe asthma that had trouble getting the vaccine in Calgary last week and who may have been infected with the virus while the clinics there were shutdown due to vaccine shortages?
Well - that's a different story (ie. those kids were not identified as truly high risk for nothing).
And with that, I'm done with this matter.....Unless, of course, we suddenly start reading about entire swaths of luge runners and their coaches and hangers-on who considered themselves at high risk because they have to touch a chairlift on an almost, but not quite, daily basis....
Well whaddy'a know - Vancouver's worst mayor of all time is back in action.
With yet another 'project'.
And once again it is backed by a secretive money man that will not reveal himself, this time from 'out of province'.
The grizzled Doug Ward, who can say more between the lines of a single piece than an entire passel of lesser inkstained-wretches can say with a thousand barrels of pixel dust and a month of Sundays to pound out their gibberish ad nauseum, has the story in the VSun:
....The lifestyle change (since his removal from the mayoral ticket by his own party) has given the 49-year-old former Vancouver mayor time to work on his French, Cantonese and Mandarin, and to watch educational DVDs. (These days, Sullivan is fascinated by Euclidian geometry, and he knows something about Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's theories of knowledge.)
It's also given Sullivan time to reinvent his life once again with a project called the Global Civic Policy Society, a new non-profit organization mostly financed by one mysterious out-of-province patron.
Sullivan wants Global Civic, which so far appears to be a one-man band, to link the research of leading academics with politicians and other policy-makers.
He says his new role will be one of a "facilitator," adding, with a smile, "maybe this is the real Citizen Sam.".....
Ya, sure thing Sammy.
But just so you know - most academics of any repute (and/or any sense) will have nothing whatsoever to do with somebody who later, based on past performance, just may decide to 'rip their throats out'.
And I must say, given his past performance, that I'm shocked, shocked I tell you(!), that Lotusland's latest former Pol/pro-MediaMaven to turn blogger, Alex Tsakumis, has yet to weigh in on this matter.
Double-Secret Probation Update: Mr. Tsakumis has officially weighed in, arrived, and smashed the Spamalotteers to smithereens all in one magnificent post!
Turns out it was last Friday, Oct 30th:
"....Ken King, president of the (Calgary) Flames (professional hockey club), said Tuesday (Nov 03/09) the players and their families received their shots on Friday (Oct 30/09) at a private location....."
Hmmmm....Didn't the province of Alberta shut down all their public clinics at public locations the very next day, on Saturday, Oct 31st?
And why, precisely, did the Calgary Flames (and their management, and their families) feel that they were justified in getting their 'private' shots at a very private location BEFORE all those members of the public who are at high risk of suffering serious complications and/or death if they were to contract the H1N1 virus because they could not get vaccinated in time?
Well, apparently, it had something to do with the fear of the rampant spreading of contagion that is being facilitated by those those coughing, sneezing and wheezing customs officers that patrol the US/Canada border.
...(Flames president) King said they felt the shots were a priority for the players because of their extensive cross-border travel and the close-contact physical nature of their sport....
(and I, for one, can't wait for some waterheaded commentator like, say, oh I dunno, this guy, to say something about how this just proves that the 'public system is broken!')
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
According to Thomas Walkom in today's TO Star, in the case of Medcan, it is a whopping 20%:
"...the politically savvy owners of Medcan (CEO Shaun Francis was chief fundraiser for Conservative supremo Tim Hudak's successful leadership campaign this year) are now allocating 20 per cent of their vaccine on a first-come-first-served basis, to members of the general public on the so-called priority list...."
Let's work through the actual numbers here for a moment, shall we....
Medcan's initial private hoard has been reported as being 3000 doses.
And they are now, suddenly, given all the intense public scrutiny, apparently willing to give 600 of those doses, doses that were generated, produced and paid for by the public, back to the public.
As for the other 2,400 doses that the public also paid to generate and distribute?
Well, apparently they will be going to the cake-eaters.
Cake-eaters like this.
And with all snark off, it is important to realize/make the point emphatically that 600 doses is barely enough to take care of HALF of the high risk patients at ONE single downtown Toronto public clinic that has NO vaccine.