Monday, November 29, 2010

Oh, No!....Don't Listen To Bloggers...They Just Make Stuff Up


A Globe story by Sunny Dhillon published today included this little nugget:

...When news of the (most recent recall) application’s rejection and word-count policy change first broke, an Elections BC spokeswoman said: “Before the application had been submitted, there had been no need for a policy. No recall application in the past had ever come close to the 200-word limit. It hadn't been an issue.”

But Colin Nielsen, lead organizer for the recall campaign against Ms. Chong, said that’s not the case. Mr. Nielsen said an Elections BC report from 1999 details a recall campaign in the riding of Skeena against former MLA Helmut Giesbrecht.

Mr. Nielsen noted the statement, which can be accessed on the Elections BC website, is 194 words, close to the 200-word limit. In fact, if MLA was counted as five words then, the statement would have been declared invalid...


Where have we read that before?

Here's the real thing.....Unlike the oh-so uber-responsible proMedia, you only have to be a halfway decently responsible blogger to give credit where credit is due (despite what fine folks like Vaughn Palmer would like you to believe)....
And the ironic thing is that, because I was being held, almost entirely against my will, in a hermetically-sealed science-geek bunker in OttaWash all day, I missed S. Dhillon's story entirely on a first pass through the tubz' and only came across it because I noticed a massive number of hits that came this way because of a comment left at the Globe site by reader GlennM..... Thanks Glenn!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Recall-O-Rama....Elections BC's Changing Goalposts Would Nullify 13 Year Old Recall Petition


Well, well, well....

It would appear that, caught with their website-index-pages-pants down, Craig James' Gang at Elections BC has now admitted that it changed the rules on word counts AFTER the petition to recall Oak Bay Gordon('s) Head MLA/Member of the Legislative Assembly Ida Chong was submitted to them last week.

Cindy Harnett had that story earlier today in the VSun. Here is her lede:

The word-count policy that resulted in the rejection of an application to recall Oak Bay MLA Ida Chong was created a day after the application was submitted, Elections BC has acknowledged.

"The policy on word counts was finalized and went up on our website Wednesday," Elections BC's executive program manager Tricia Poilievre said Friday.....

But here's the thing.

Is this after-the-fact change in the rules also really, really, really retroactive?

As in thirteen years retroactive?

Why do I ask?

Well, it turns out that the petition that led to the initiation of a recall campaign against Skeena NDP MLA Helmut Giesbrecht in 1997 was, by our count, 194 words long when you count 'MLA', which was used twice, as one word.

And if you stretch out that 'MLA' to Mr. James' newly minted 'Member of the Legislative Assembly'?

Well, then, again by our count, the total comes out to 202.

The wording of the Skeena petition itself comes from the pre-James' Gang Elections-BC Report on Recall that was issued in 1998 which can be found as a pdf here (hint: look for Section 5.1.2).

No word yet if Mr. James has hopped in the DeLorean so that he can go back in time and slap down both that Skeena petition and Marty McFly.


Now, seriously.....Why does this matter?

Well, because of something else that the James' Gang 'executive program manager', as quoted by the VSun's C. Harnett, had to say, which was the following:

..."The 200-word limit is in the legislation; it's always been there," (Elections BC program manager Tricia) Poilievre said. "The methodology used for word counts had never been an issue in the past because all previous recall applications had come in at well below 200 words.".....


Me thinks an obfuscating/appointed senior bureaucrat has some (real) explaining to do.

(for our actual analysis of the alternate, bizarro world, word count comparisons see the jpegs below)

Now, why the heckfire would I even bother to do this on a sleet-laden Sudbury-like Saturday Night in Lotusland?....Two reasons...First, a commenter calling himself 'nruff' mentioned that there might be such a discrepancy in a very insightful comment over at Mr. Tieleman's place on comment thread to this post.....Second, I am a science-geek in real life....Thus, I am regularly subjected to word counts for papers, grants and all manner of academic flotsam and jetsam....And never (ever) in the 25 years I have been in the business has anything I have ever submitted to anybody been flagged for the use of acronyms which, as you might imagine, are used extremely....uhhhh....'liberally' in the geek biz....OK?

1997 Skeena Petition using 'MLA' = 194 Words

1997 Skeena Petition using 'Member of the Legislative Assembly' = 202 Words

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Best proMedia Editorial You Will Read All Year....


While pretty much all of Lotusland's puffed-up punditry is going bonkers trying to figure out the intentions of a certain pink-shirted Talk Show host with a political history of quitting and losing when she's out front doing things on her own, the Victoria Times-Colonist has just published an editorial that matters.

Matters to ALL British Columbians that is.

The editorial starts like this:

"The last act in a nasty vendetta has finally played out. Premier Gordon Campbell's government has decided to kill B.C.'s only independent drug review agency. And not just kill it, but bury it in an unmarked grave.

The agency involved is called the Therapeutics Initiative. Based at the University of British Columbia, it evaluates new drugs that come on the market.

The Therapeutics Initiative saves taxpayers $50 million annually by finding cheaper alternatives. Largely thanks to its efforts, B.C. has the lowest drug costs in the country, despite offering some of the best coverage.

Moreover, the Therapeutics Initiative runs on a shoestring budget. The agency gets $1 million a year. That means it generates a 50 to one return on investment.

Finally, its researchers have been credited with saving 500 lives by issuing timely warnings about suspect medications. When the new anti-inflammatory product Vioxx came out, the agency discovered a link with increased heart attack rates. As a result, although Vioxx was approved across most of North America, it was kept off the shelves in B.C......

And the ending can be read here.

I have written about this matter previously here, here, here and here. Take the time to understand this one folks - it really does matter. And, for those that need any ammunition when trying to influence your friends and/or uncles about Recall during the coming holiday season, it is a concrete example of just what Mr. Campbell and his minions are willing to do to British Columbians if it serves the interest of Multinational Corporations.
Oh, and if I was a betting man I would lay my money down on this guy being the writer of that editorial....And I would take very, very short odds......
Update: Here's why unlike, say, Mr. Beer 'N Hockey, I am not a betting man.....Sheesh.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Killing Us Softly With His Crap



Update: Mr. Willcocks, in the comments, makes the strongest snark-free statement about how wrong this is, from a public policy perspective, that I have ever seen from him here.


What if I told you that we, the people of British Columbia, could have a program that would save lives AND save our Health Care system millions of dollars.

And what if I told you this program would cost us pennies on the dollar to both mount and operate.

Why, if I was a public servant working in, say, the Health Ministry, I am pretty sure you would tell me to start such a program up immediately.



It turns out we already have such a program.

And what it does to save us money and save lives, in large part, is to ignore Big Pharma Bunk'um. Instead, it evaluates drugs based on real scientific and clinical evidence of efficacy.

In other words, the folks at the TI figure out which drugs actually work so that we can then decide if we want to pay for those drugs (or not) for with our public Healthcare dollars.

And, again, it does so free and unfettered from the (often commercial) interests of Big Pharma.

But here's the thing.

The Therapeutics Initiative is doomed.


Because the government of Mr. Gordon Campbell has decided to kill it.


Now, the demise of the TI has been rumoured for some time.

However, according to what Andrew MacLeod is currently reporting in The Tyee, those rumours do not appear to be in any way exaggerated based on a recent letter from, and the statements of, Gordon Campbell's Deputy Health minister Mr. John Dyble:

"...The government continues to move away from using the Therapeutics Initiative at the University of British Columbia to look at the evidence on new drugs, he (Mr. Dyble) noted, though it hasn't gone as quickly as the government had hoped.

"Due to concerns over the low response rate to our 2009 Request for Proposals, we have undertaken a new procurement process to establish this roster," he (Mr. Dyble) said. When a new contract is in place the existing relationship with UBC will end, he (Mr. Dyble) said...."

So why, is the TI being killed?

Well, in my opinion, it is because the government of Mr. Gordon Campbell wants MORE input from Big Pharma about what is good for THEM (ie. not necessarily us).

In point of fact, that is actually being written into the new provincial procedures for evaluating drugs as double-speak known as "sponsor engagement points".

Which, again in my opinion, is nothing but ideological codswallop (ie. Crap with a capital 'C') that is designed to cost us money while it enriches Big Pharma.


Paul Willcocks also raised the warning flag on this matter recently based on a strong piece by Margaret Munro in the VSun.


Monday, November 22, 2010

When Is A Shadow Toll Not A Toll?


When it is an 'invisible' shadow toll.

And/or so 'complex' that the great unwashed can't possibly understand it.


Mark Hume, writing in the Globe and (nolongerEmpire) Mail, has Laila Yuile's story, here.

Me, I find the following, from one of the Mr. Gordon Campbell's most favoured P3 Snouters-In-Trough, interesting in the extreme:

".....Nicholas Hahn, managing director of Macquarie North America Ltd., admits the phrase may have passed his lips.

Strictly speaking, however, he said it’s not a “shadow toll” but a complex contractual arrangement with the province that uses incentive payments to ensure the highway is maintained at a high standard throughout the 25-year life of the contract....."



Vaughn Palmer's Fever Swamp Cryptology Conspiracy Theory


Because I'm not an insider, I have absolutely no idea what's really going on behind the scenes in the upper echelons of the BC NDP.

And, because critical analysis of the non-horse race kind by folks who are not party-associated has been almost entirely lacking, I have not been able to generate an informed opinion about whether Carole James should stay or go as the BC NDP party leader.

I do, however, know that the NDP 'council' made up of party insiders voted overwhelmingly to support Ms. James over the weekend.

But here's the thing......

Party councils don't have to face an irate and fed-up public day after day after day.

And they sure as heckfire don't have to face the voting part of that irate public every four years or so.

And neither, not to put too fine a point on it, do British Columbia's (supposedly) elite proMedia pundits.

Which is why I found the following comment about the 13 apparently anti-Jamesian NDP MLAs from that most elite member of the proMedia punditocracy, the Vancouver Sun's Vaughn Palmer, bizarre in the extreme:

".....They are also, in combination, an amateurish and evasive lot, whose clumsy interactions with the news media Friday and Saturday left the impression that either they don't know what they are doing or aren't prepared to share their intentions with anyone other than their own cult-like supporters. Try to imagine a political party run by the cryptic, feverish folks who contribute to blogs and you'd have some sense of the challenge of making sense of the group and its agenda -- presuming it is a group and does have an agenda....."


There you have it.....

If you are amateurish and evasive when you interact with pro pundits who have proven, based on repeated past performance, that they will screw you over royally for no good reason at all, you are nothing but a crazy, secretive supporter of the great unwashed who lurk in the fever swamps. As a result, you have no business whatsoever getting uppity about anything because you will not get the support of the Dean and/or his loyal followers....errrrr....faculty.

Or, put another way, if you are not silky proMedia smooth you will never be taken seriously.


All of which has me wondering if Mr. Palmer would speak favourably of, say, Attila the Hun if the latter were to suddenly surface with a slick media strategy and a few hundred PAB-Bots in tow that could keep him and his supplied with the finest inside information at all times.

You know......

Finest-of-the-fine inside information that cryptic members of the fever swamps and the public know nothing of, and care even less about, because it does not affect them in their daily lives.

If you get my most pointed (not to mention feverish) drift.


Interestingly, perhaps because he had no vaunted editor looking over his shoulder given that the quote above was part of a post to his proMedia VSun 'Blog', Mr. Palmer appears (based on the comments) to have originally referred to the denizens of the swamps as 'boggers'.....Ha!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

There Are No Regrets On This Road....


Dan Mangan.

See him when he comes to your town, regardless whether or not it is named Dodge.



Saturday, November 20, 2010

A 'Hey Rube' A Day.....

....Keeps The Crazy Away.

And the Rubes have all been archived, indexed, collated, and curated by Rory over at Totally Gonzo.

One my favorites starts like this:

Warren Zevon arrived at my house on Saturday and said he was in the mood to write a few songs about Hockey. "Thank God you're home," he said. "I had to drive all night to get out of Utah without being locked up. What's wrong with those people?".....

I mean, it's almost like you can still hear that damnable Mojo humming.

Or, at the very least, clickety-clacking to wheezy life as another deadline comes and goes and the real stomping of the terra begins once more in earnest.

Oh, and if you haven't watched any Zevon on Letterman you have missed more stomping than you'd ever see, even on a million star-crossed Saturday nights in Sudbury waiting for the return of T. Connors.....Seriously.


Let Them Eat Cake!...While They Pay For Our Highway To The Condo Stars...


“The accuracy of the traffic counting system is extremely important on the Sea to Sky Highway because the roadway is financed through a shadow tolling scheme. Transtoll is pleased to provide our experience and expertise to allow the Concession to optimize their system and capture accurate vehicle counts in a cost effective manner”.

Shadow Tolls that Gordon Campbell's PAB-Bots in the Ministry of Pavement say do not exist.

The (real) Queen of Lotusland's Bloggodome, Laila Yule, has all the stories.

Dave of The Galloping Beaver, as ever, got right to the heart of the matter when he pulled the quote above from the press release from the fine folks at the most appropriately named Transtoll.....Oh, and guess who actually owns said fine folks lock, stock and barrel?...
Give up?.....Well.....Laila has the goods on that one too....."Transtoll is (a) wholly owned subsidiary of Macquarie Atlas Roads".......Ha!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Favourite Line From B.C.'s New Favourite Quote Machine


"I just showed up this morning and they had this little thing set up for me....Uh, you know...And he (Premier Gordon Campbell) left the room....

It was all a staged event......Everything he does is staged.....

I'm surprised they didn't have somebody from PAB there organizing the event."
Former Campbell Gov't Minister of Mines 'N Stuff, Bill Bennett.

You can find this quote (which is just one zinger amongst many) at the 34 minute mark of Rob Shaw's marathon recording of Mr. Bennett's post-sacking presser on the VT-C website here....


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Recalling Ms. Chong....How Tough The Challenge?



They who are wielding the machetes over the carcass of Mr. Kurtz'.....errrrr..... Mr. Campbell's gored oxen need 18,000 signatures to trigger a recall of Ida Chong.

Which, given that they have Big Mo' and some 600 canvassers on their side, sounds eminently doable.


Here is a line worth considering before you place your bets, taken directly from the Machete Wielders' Website:

Oak Bay-Gordon Head (OBG)89975731

The second numeral was the magic number of petition signatorees needed to get the recall rollin' for real in Ms. Chong's riding of Oak Bay Gordon('s) Head....And the first numeral was the number signatoree's they say they actually got, which was almost 60% above what was needed.

Which is very impressive indeed.

But it is still only half of what they need now.


Regardless how this thing turns out in the end, you've gotta hand it to the Machete Wielders, because it would appear that they have handed the proMedia Mavens exactly what they want - which is a combination Soap Opera/Daily Sporting Event that will build with each passing day as the numbers start to roll in.

Which, of course, begs the real question....

Will they get to that incredibly heavy Eighteen?

Personally, I have no idea, even though I grew up in that riding.*

However, I do figure that we will know they are getting awfully darned close if Mr. Campbell suddenly appears on our TeeVee screens sometime in late January a hundred pounds overweight, with shaved head, screaming....

"Exterminate the Brutes!"


Of course, that weight gain would be greatly assisted if, perish the thought, Mr. Campbell was to fall off the Diet Coke wagon and start in on the harder stuff, like, say, Jolt Cola......
*One thing I can say for sure though is that if ever there was a riding where little old ladies who wouldn't want to get in trouble for signing something they're not supposed to (and yes, we're looking at YOU, Mr. James) might suddenly turn into refuseniks en masse, it just might might be Oak Bay.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Where's Rita?



Post D.Watts Pull-Out Update at bottom of post...

Has anyone noticed how all those proMedia lights that were momentarily shining on things that actually matter in this province have been pretty much extinguished* since Mr. Gordon Campbell's (allegedly) focus-group assisted kinda/sorta/almost resignation a couple of weeks ago?

And has anyone else noticed how much space the idea of a leadership run by a civic politician from Surrey is now....errrr.....'was' taking up within the helium-filled vacuum bag that is the current state of public discourse on all that the BC Liberal Party can and will (not ever**) be now that its very own carbon (tax) copy version of Sir Humphrey has been shunted off to the Ministry for Cruise Ships and White Elephant Carcass Conventions?

But here's the thing.....

Didn't they try that once already, back in the halcyon days back when used car dealers sold cars instead of publically-funded independent private power partnerships?



I forgot.

Ms. Johnston refused the make over.


Not that I would ever be so bold as to suggest that our proMedia mavens would go GaGa over hairstyles.

But, then again, there was that thing with the Gucci shoes***.


*With the notable exception of Iain Hunter's column in the VT-C this morning in which he does call on his proMedia colleagues to ignore the metaphorical and/or metaphysical hairstyles that walk, zombie-like, among us and start doing their job for real......
**See the 'idea' of 'incremental' increases to the longtime BC Liberal freeze on wages for the working poor.....
***And the real irony with the shoe thing?....Well, even then the lickspittles gave the boys that sell fancy cars a goodie bag.....
Meanwhile, speaking of things that really matter, Mr. Beer 'N Hockey is currently on the side of Glen Campbell, Four-Legged Snow Angels Wearing Sensible Shoes, and.....Rich Coleman?
Late Sunday Night/Post DWatts Pullout Update: So, what's the downside to Ms Watts pullingout of the race?.... Well, she whose personal decks were cleared by the RailGate postgame show pay-off must, at the very least, be pencilled back into the line-up card.....Potential upside?....If Mr. Marissen's former partner does indeed decide to run, doesn't that mean the (nolongerso)Giant98 will be looking for a new afternoon pre-drivetime host?....Hmmmmm.....Now just who might be a good fit for such a job if it were to suddenly become available?.....


Saturday, November 13, 2010

More Evidence That The Political Rapture Has Come To Lotusland...

John Les....Bleeding Heart Liberal Superstar!

VICTORIA (JFowlie VSun Nov12/10) --

The time has come to discuss raising B.C.'s minimum wage.

That was the finding of a Liberal dominated finance committee, which in a report Friday recommended the B.C. government: "increase the minimum wage in small increments."

"The discussions around minimum wage need to start," committee chair John Les said in an interview Friday.

I mean, seriously, what's next....

A snap announcement that the acreage in the Fraser Valley Agricultural Land Reserve will be dramatically increased overnight?


Here's the real thing......What's to stop these new found converts to the progressive (or at the very least slightly centrist) cause from dicking around with this one until after the prop-shopped referendum next fall and then suddenly, oh gosh!, changing their minds because it's just not quite the right time to help the working poor when there's a housing bubble bursting and/or a tourist trade going bust because of a quantitatively ease-assisted soaring of the loonie?....After all, it's not like we don't have past performance to go on, right?


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pravda, Public Affairs, and Elections BC


Updates (from the Comments): Paul Willcocks wrote an interesting column about the government-assisted toil and trouble brewing at Elections BC back in August....And 'Off-The-Radar' lists four specific examples which, in my opinion at least, indicate that the integrity of Elections BC has been completely compromised since Mr. James was 'appointed', non-unanimously, to his post by the government that is (still?) being run by Mr. Gordon Campbell:

1. holding the results of the anti-HST referendum until forced by a sharply-worded court order to pass on to the legislature.

2. firing the long-serving second in command at Elections BC because he was re-organizing the office (an office that he is only temporarily in charge of).

3. threatening (rather than cautioning) the very few people and canvassers who signed more than once and attempting to smear the anti-HST campaign, all volunteer-run. And right before the recall period starts.

4. the tricky wording of the HST referendum petition. It is not about restoring the previous tax regime, it is merely substituting one tax for another.

I have said precious little about our local tax revolt because I am very, very cynical about the motives of the folks involved.

The motives of the organizers I mean.

But I am not the least bit cynical about the motives of the thousands of canvassers or the hundreds of thousands of British Columbians who signed their petition.



The 'allegedly' legitimate 'acting' head of Elections BC, Mr. Craig James, came out swinging accusatory haymakers earlier this week because he and his had apparently identified some 2,208 registered voters that had signed the anti-HST petition more than once.

Which is way less than one percent.

But get this....Mr. James could only identify 38 registered voters that had signed petitions more than 3 times.

That, at approximately 0.005%, is absolutely infinitesimal.

As is the fact that only 7 of more than 6,500 canvassers (ie. approximately 0.1%) could even be 'accused' of 'alleged' improprieties.

In other words, rather than being slagged and dragged through the mud of the public prints, the schlock of the talk radio Watercarriers and the the clattering dentures of the hairdoos on the TeeVee, the overwhelming majority of the folks on the ground, who are the ones who have really made the tax revolt work, should instead be celebrated on high, by all of us, for their trustworthiness.


Could you imagine if 99.9% of our provincial politicians and/or their handlers could be counted on to demonstrate such upstanding behaviour?

I've really got to wonder how H. Neufeld would have handled this.....Somehow I don't think he would have gone out of his way to trash a huge swath of British Columbians who are doing their best to have the courage of their convictions and try and initiate change honestly without a noble lie in sight.
Oh, and in case your are wondering how I came up with the above percentages....Well.....I just used a little Grade Four math (of course!).....


The Color Of The Brothers Kochs' Money



Update: A number of smart folks, with good arguments in the comments make a solid case that it just might not be same thing....And I thank them for that.....Has to do with things like lack of full capacity and other forces currently at work that should push back against a rapid-onset hyper-inflation....But still....What happens when the bitter taste of aspertamier inflation is forced down peoples' throats in the form of plastic backed by prison?.....

Can anybody tell me, precisely, how 'Quantitative Easing'......

"...Popular media's definition of quantitative easing focuses on the concept of central banks increasing the size of their balance sheets to increase the amount of credit available to borrowers. To make that happen, a central bank issues new money (essentially creating it from nothing) and uses it to purchase assets from other banks...."

...Is NOT the fast lane on the road to a place called Weimar?

"...The sudden flood of paper money into the economy, on top of the general strike - which meant that no goods were manufactured, so there was more money, chasing fewer goods - combined with a weak economy ruined by the war, all resulted in hyperinflation. Prices ran out of control - eg a loaf of bread, which cost 250 marks in January 1923 had risen to 200,000 million marks in November 1923..."

(and we all know where roads like that really lead to when you've got folks like the good brothers Kr......errrrr.... Koch around to whip the damaged and the dumb into a frenzy of hate, hubris, and irrational blindness)


Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Original RailGate Six....

....And Then There Was One.


What are the odds?

('cause I wanna make some real money taking non-DVaderized, dirty-rotten unlaundered, anti-BCLC side-bets on the next leader of the LINO's)


Monday, November 01, 2010

The Reason That YouTube Was Invented....


....Is so that you can be listening to some disaffected, middle-aged anti-cracker's playlist of Avett Brothers and Reverend Peyton's Big Band tunes and then, bang!, outta nowhere stumble across a red hot plate of jambalysian rabble-rousing, crash-the-house-down, aural explosion that you had no idea even existed before.

Stuff like the following, from The Felice Brothers...

King Hell, I tell you....Even if Frankie won't....

'Turn the goddamn radio down!'


Me, I'm going to be on a bit of work-related hiatus for a bit.

So, if you want to keep up with the provincial political bloggospheric Zeitgeist this week, I suggest you keep the dial tuned to Laila's place.....She's hotter than a pistol right now on this matter of 'Shadow Tolls'.

So much so that she even has a PAB-Bot hooked on the line at this very moment.

But here's the real thing.....

Laila is on to more than just the 'vehicle usage payments' (aka, the hidden 'shadow' tolls) that we (ie. all members of the public) are paying at the back-end of these insidious privatization 'partnerships'.

Way more.....

How do I know this?

Because, darned if we "Wingnuts of the Bloggosphere" don't talk to each other.

(and yes, even co-operate and share information)


Of course, Dave over at the The Galloping Beaver, gets right to the heart of the matter as it pertains to the potential significance of the front end of the Sea-To-Sky financing here.