Friday, August 31, 2012

My Evening Ride...


And now is the time when we Neil...

That is all.


Rooftop Golfing....In Kitsilano?


"The Fraser Institute, Canada's leading right-wing think tank, received over $4.3 million in the last decade from eight major American foundations including the most powerful players in oil and pharmaceuticals, The Vancouver Observer has learned.

In May, it was found that the US oil billionaire Koch brothers gave the Fraser Institute half a million dollars since 2007. But further investigation shows the insitute received funding from other major US foundations...."


"...One of my most vivid memories of South America is that of a man with a golf club - a five-iron, if memory serves - driving golf balls off a penthouse terrace in Cali, Columbia. He was a tall Britisher, and had what the British call 'a stylish pot' instead of a waistline. Beside him on a small patio table was a long gin-and-tonic, which he refilled from time to time at the nearby bar.

He had a good swing, and each of his shots carried low and long out over the city. Where they fell, neither he nor anyone else on the terrrace that day had the vaguest idea.....Somewhere below us, in the narrow streets that are lined by the white adobe blockhouses of the urban peasantry, a strange hail was rattling down on the roofs - golf balls, 'old practice duds,' so the Britisher told me, that were 'hardly worth driving away'.

It is doubtful that the same man would drive golf balls off a rooftop apartment in the middle of London. But (it) is not really surprising to see it done in South America. There, where the distance between the rich and the poor is so very great, and where Anglo-Saxons are automatically among the elite, the concept of noblesse oblige is subject to odd interpretations.

The attitude, however, does not go unnoticed; the natives consider it bad form indeed for a foreigner to stand on a rootop and drive golf balls into their midst. Perhaps they lack sporting blood, or maybe a sense of humor, but the fact is that they resent it, and it is easy to see why they might go to the polls at the next opportunity and vote for the man who promises to rid the natiuon of 'arrogant gringo imperialists'..."


Ahhhh....The branch plant life.


Wonder if anybody has noticed any Titleists bouncing down Burrard lately?


And The Band Wore Blue Shirts...


....And The Music Played On.

Yesterday, Ian Reid wondered if the entire Falcon and The Slowman (and the two other LINOs that I already can't remember) resignation thing was, based on the timing, "orchestrated".

Well, as soon as the string section was done with the intro to the piece a single, solitary blue-shirted trumpeter waiting in the wings started bleating.

And, of course, Jonathan Fowlie immediately plugged in his post media-approved tube amp, turned it up to eleven, and started blasting it all over the front page of the VSun.

Here is Mr. Fowlie's tone-deafening lede:

B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins is being challenged from within his party's own board of directors, with at least one official urging party members to select a new leader before the May election.

In an email obtained by The Vancouver Sun on Thursday, a director John Crocock called on party members to vote in favour of a leadership review ahead of the party's annual general meeting in September, which, if successful, would force Cummins to step down.

"Good people have been alienated at a time when our party must be moving forward," Crocock wrote in an email to members Thursday.

"A lot of the decisions do not make sense lately. The party's members, no matter what position, have been left out, wondering what is going on," he said.

"To keep the party on track with principles and the transparency that we all are fighting for, I strongly recommend voting Yes to the leadership review/ elections."....


A 'move' to push out The Curmudgeon?

Immediately on the heels of The Snowman's resignation as a cabinet minister but NOT as an MLA....How's that 'LibConColdFusion' monster mash-up sound now?

It really was a single Email from a single BC Con...Mr. Fowlie confirmed this on the CBC this morning with Stephen Quinn.
Mr. Falcon was also on with Mr. Quinn a little earlier...Was interesting to learn that he (Mr. Falcon) left government for the same reason, kinda/sorta as Gary Collins...Seriously, that is who he invoked for 2005...He also informed British Columbians that "Polls are a specific moment in time"...
Header ear worm buggin' you.....Think Jackson, Joe (not the shoeless variety)...


Who, Exactly, Is Behind The Fine Folks That Want Us To Race To The Bottom?


Update: Tweetfight between CTF's Jordan Bateman, Bill Tieleman and Laila Yule, here...Dean Skoreyko weighs in and notes that yes....BC conservatives did, in fact, take Mr. Bateman's predecessor Sara McIntyre to task for the CTF's support of the HST here...Now that's grass roots!

Double-Secret Probation Update: Spartikus, over at the Exile on Ennui St, has done multiple, in-depth fiskings of the CTF, here...


Let's say that, suddenly, universal healthcare was only universal for half of Canada's population.


That a public-school education was only available to half of our kids.


That public transit could only be used by half of our citizenry.

What would we do?

Would we, as taxpayers, suddenly start clamouring that we should get rid of public healthcare, schools, or transit because half of us don't get it?

Or would we demand that things changed so that we all get it?


Of course, the great dismantling, wherein people become convinced that we must always pull each other down rather than help each other up is what the 'politics of division' is all about.

Which is something that is being waged very successfully down south.

But all this dividing and conquering and divvying-up of the spoils does not start at the ballot box.

Instead, the offensive begins with surrogates and fronts and astroturf groups who do all the front-end fomenting that then makes it possible for elected officials like, say, Paul Ryan to pretend that he will not kill Medicare while he puts the shiv in, deep.

But is this kind of thing happening in Canada?


Did you notice that whispering wind from the wurlitzer that started out here in BC a couple of days ago, but which has since started blowing nationally, that is telling us that we have to gut public sector pensions because not enough people in the private sector have comparable ones?

Well, that tickle in your ear was started by a very fine, out-front group called the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Which is supported by 'taxpayers'.


Well, David Shreck (not Shrek!) got to wondering about this very thing not long ago, and here is what he discovered:

...After watching Voice of BC on June 28 with host Vaughn Palmer interviewing Philip Hochstein from the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of BC and Jordan Bateman from the CTF I started looking for more information about the CTF. After all, we are all taxpayers but I don't recall being asked if the CTF could speak on my behalf. I went to the CTF website in order to look for its financial statements and constitution, curious as to how its directors are elected. The organization that is quick to criticize governments for lack of transparency is far from transparent. It takes some searching but financial highlights can be found which shows it received $3.4 million in donations in 2011, up from $3.2 million in 2010. It paid one person between $91,000 and $110,000, four people between $71,000 and $90,000, and five less than $71,000. A search of the Industry Canada website indicated its last annual meeting was held in 2005 and it has not filed returns for 2011 or 2012; however, after Tweeting that discovery, its Alberta Director and National Communications Manager, Scott Hennig, responded that the Industry Canada information is out of date. My advice is for the CTF to get the information updated and to also provide it on its own website.

Mr. Hennig was most helpful in answering questions about the governance of the Taxpayers Federation. When asked if its 70,000 "supporters" are eligible to elect who is on its board of directors, he Tweeted that only the directors are eligible to elect directors! In other words, the $3.4 million in donations received by CTF is under the direction of 
five people who elect themselves and choose whoever they want to fill any vacancy; no one else has any control over the organization. Of course, donors could withdraw their contributions if they became unhappy, but how many of those donors know that the Taxpayers Federation has a self-perpetuating board of directors with no accountability to a membership base? Its website reports: "CTF offices field hundreds of media interviews each month, hold press conferences and issue regular news releases, commentaries, online postings and publications to advocate the common interest of taxpayers. CTF representatives speak at functions, make presentations to government, meet with politicians, and organize petition drives, events and campaigns to mobilize citizens to affect public policy change." How many media or politicians know that the CTF is governed by five people who have the power to elect themselves and are not accountable to anyone else?

While I don't always agree with the points of view offered by the Taxpayers Federation, I don't dispute its right to contribute to debate on public policy. However, when it comes to fundraising, I believe not-for-profits should be as transparent as charities, and if a governance structure allows no challenge in elections to a board of directors, potential donors should be fully aware of that form of tight control.
Mr. Hennig Tweeted: "Those who are interested know"...


Is it possible that,  'those who are interested' love the smell of astroturf in the morning?

For their next trick....Watch out for the blades of the wurlitzer in the next day of two at the end of a slow news week as the CTF tries to co-opt Labour Day because, you know, organized labour is not actually supported by its members....Or some such thing...
And, it is worth noting that, for those who like to do crazy stuff like dig into past performance to figure out what someone is up to in the here and now....The size of the turf  'patch doesn't have to be very big to get the job done...


Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Falcon & The Slowman....Mr. Reid Wonders If Fleeing Rats Are Actually Trying To Blow-Up Sinking Ship.



Update: Lib-ConColdFusion nothing but crazy talk?.....Go tell it to that crazy ol' fox Jim Shepard who is doin' a whole lotta talkin' himdelf , kinda/sorta still 'believing' in The Snook, as he kicked off his (no) citizens unitier-type 'province-wide tour' thingie earlier today...

Ian Reid wonders what Mr. Falcon and that ol' Progressive Horse 1A, George Abbott, are really up to with their sudden 'resignations':

"...And the one-two Wednesday (Falcon), Thursday (Abbott) punch of the two runners up (in the BC Liberal Party Leadership race) really seals the deal for me. This was orchestrated.

Will it work? Maybe but not likely. Forcing out Clark will just drive away another wing of the party. And there’s not really time for another leadership race, one that will eat up scarce dollars and push people apart, not together..."

But, here's the thing....Way back in January we wondered about this 'Depose The Snook' strategy and even wondered if it might go one step further:

...What if the Cons (within the BC Liberal Party) were to suddenly depose The Snook, anoint The Birdman, and then engineer a fusion-based love-in with The Curmudgeon.

How would those (Lib/Con aggregate) numbers look then?...

Hang on folks...This is about to get really interesting...

The comment above, thanks to EGregory, even got a little play on the then still-chugging PublicEye Radio show....All the other rabble-rousers laughed (if I remember correctly) derisively....


Kevin Falcon......Socialist?


Sound crazy?


But go ahead and read The Birdman's own words, from his resignation shuffle press release.

Go ahead.

I dare you:

"....I look back over my time as an MLA and Minister with great humility and pride. Humility, for being given the opportunity to serve as Minister of Deregulation, Transportation and Infrastructure, Health and Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier. Pride in working with colleagues to initiate and oversee some of the largest capital investments in BC history. Whether it’s the Port Mann bridge, Canada Line, Sea to Sky Highway, or working with my colleagues in Surrey to initiate the largest health investment in BC history (the $800m construction of a new Surrey Memorial Hospital and Jimmy Pattison Outpatient building), I am proud of what we’ve accomplished together. But I am equally proud of our health care innovations such as patient focused funding..."

Sure sounds like a whole lot a megaprojects that created jobs that were paid for by government off the people's collective backs to me.

And Mr. Falcon is proud of it.

Now, just imagine if all those deregulated corporations that made out like bandits building all that stuff actually paid their fair share too.

I mean, wouldn't that two billion dollar donut hole that Mr. Falcon and friends have been doing their darndest to hide/pretend doesn't exist since before the 2009 election disappear like, say, immediately?

Laila has more, on some of the stinkier aspects of CampbellClarkFalconHansenHochsteinMcLeanCraigJames Government spending, here...
And Matthew Burrows, in the GStrait, actually talks to someone who knows a thing or two about all that car-friendly infrastructure that The Birdman's friends built with our money, here...


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Morning Ride...Summer Gone?


The year I started Grade 12 the summer just kept on going and going and going.

All through September and into early October.

That year I had a window seat in Mr. H's. calculus class.

And I tried to pay attention but, truth be told, I didn't learn anything until maybe Thanksgiving and then I actually had to work pretty hard to play catch-up.

Luckily for me, or not (depending on your point of view), I didn't give a hoot in heckfire about this weird album called 'The Ramones' that my friend F. was always trying to get me to listen to that fall.

After all, this was the year of doobie-wahs, talk-boxes, the impending end of Zepplin, and all the excess that was Disco that had just been breech-birthed seemingly everywhere.

So a record with 14 songs about the most degenerate stuff imaginable that clocked in at under 30 minutes without synthesizers of any kind was just not in the cards at that particular moment in time.

Even if it was kinda funny.


The following summer I refused to lay out the 12 bucks (!) it would have cost to go see four jerks on a stage at the Kingdome with the rest of my garage bandmates.

And by the end of that year we were covering 'Beat On The Brat' and 'I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement' which, when we played them at a house party for the first time, people thought we were trying to sound English.


Because we finally came to The Ramones through the backdoor.

By way of The Clash.

After all, in Canada you could get the real first album (i.e. not the tarted-up one that actually followed 'Give 'Em Enough Rope' in the States) in the summer of 1977.

Even without the internet.


The guys I meet in a garage once every couple of weeks or so these days do not play The Clash or The Ramones, or even (thank the goddess) Zepplin.

But they do let me play a Tweedy tune or two occasionally.

Which is good enough for me.

And last night when we played, well....

It felt like summer.


Maybe next time I should try and get them to play a little pre-Cummings/Hyman/Colvin from Jonathan Richman.

As for Sister Ray?

No way.

'Cause there is no way I'm going down that road now.


Ironically enough, a few minutes after I shot the picture at the top of the post just down the bike-routed street from our house I was overtaken by our bass player on King Edward between Oak and Granville...His wee kids called out to me from the backseat of his station wagon in perfect sing-song harmony...They were on their way to their last week of summer camp...Pedalheads!...We are all rebels now.
My own kids dig Joan Jett's cover of Roadrunner  best.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Snouting The Trough...How Much Will It Cost Us This Time?


As near as I can figure it (using that uber-sophisticated analysis known as long division) it will cost us 40,000 ferry trips between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen.


...The province’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced last week (in early August) that it has awarded a $594,000 contract to Vancouver-based Kirk & Co. Consulting Limited to undertake the coastal ferries community engagement program.

“The contract is part of the government’s commitment to seek public input on strategies to support a long-term vision of connecting coastal communities in an affordable, efficient and sustainable manner,” reads a statement released by the province on Aug. 2...

Meanwhile, Chris Montgomery, who is back from holidays, is reporting that, hidden behind the very expensive PR smoke and mirrors, the cuts at BC Ferries have already begun:

...The company says it’ll be $4 million ahead by cutting back on the weekend Tsawwassen-Duke Point route in October when the fall schedule kicks back in. First Saturday ferry out of either side will be at 7:45 a.m., last at 3:15 p.m. (Yes, 3:15.)
Other cuts are planned for Friday afternoons (!) on the Horseshoe Bay-Nanaimo and Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay routes...

But back to the snouting....

First, there is the connection of the flack-hackery currently under consideration to the Campbell/Clark/Brown/McLean/Hochstein government from the very beginning:

...The company is headed by Judy Kirk, who served as executive director of the BC Liberals’ caucus between 1994 and 1996...

Of course, you could argue that the breech birth of the current incarnation of  the BC Liberal (in name only) Party was a long time ago.

But then, from just last year, in the run-up to the pre-HSTreferendum/secret flack-hackery offensive,  there was this....

The B.C. government office running the province’s pro-HST campaign secretly doled out contracts to two Liberal-connected companies and a former aide to the minister who introduced the tax, records show...

{snippety doo-dah}

...Records obtained by The Globe and Mail also show the HST information office directly awarded additional contracts worth up to $163,810 on behalf of the independent panel...

{snippety doodle-dandy} 

...Kirk and Co. Consulting Ltd. – the communications firm headed by Judy Kirk, who served as the Liberal caucus’s executive director between 1994 and 1996 – was also given a contract worth up to $25,000 to provide the panel with media and public-relations advice... 

Imagine that!

Where'd that 40,000 trips wasted number come from?....Well, $594,000 divided by $14.85 equals......Bingo!
Chris Montgomery, who knows a thing or 40,000 about the ferry service asks some interesting questions about why the ol' Airport Guy didn't get out in front of the fuel cost problem and save us a bundle of money (and fares, and sailings, and service) by hedging a long, long time ago.


Monday, August 27, 2012

My Morning Ride.


Actually, the image above was from Saturday morning's ride.

Because, with no one around at home, the Wackadoodle and I went for a ride down to Trout Lake for a little ball tossing and strumming in the sun.

Little did we know....

The Farmers' Market was back up and running and the Reading Festival was happening too.

Which was fun and interesting, but it was not quite the East End pastoral we were looking for.


The bike trailer Rosie the wackadoodlier one is riding in these days was once used to haul the then still Tiny E. to and from kindergarten.

Then, after that, it was used to haul even tinier e. to and from daycare.

Now it is pretty tired, and a little worn out, but it is still good enough for a guitar, and a dog, and an old guy to pull it.

More than enough.


There was no bike ride early yesterday morning.

Instead, we took the former Tiny, now Bigger, E. out to Sea Island and put her, her two massive suitcases, and her ukulele, into a very shiny, cigar tube-shaped people carrier.

So she could head off to school in Montreal.


Except this year she is not staying in the campus rumpus room/hotel.

Should be interesting.

Meanwhile, Merv Adey still has not heard either a confirmation or a denial from the CBC or the BC Liberals about whether (or not) backroom pressure contributed to the MoCo's dumping of Rafe Mair.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

The 'Market' For Faregates


Remember when the Translink fare cheater thing blew-up, bigtime, and it seemed like every single media outlet  (not to mention holier-than-thou-commentator) in town was all over the 'story' like Sheena on Easton's morning train?


Was the story real?

Sure, I know there were studies and (not)taxpayer groups helping to stoke the thing, but...

Was it manufactured?

I mean if you were, say, a lobbyist with PR firm connections who needed to create, oh I dunno, a $200 million dollar after-market where none existed before, wouldn't you, perhaps, want to send your flying flack-hackery monkeys out in droves (or pods or whatever those things really are) to get the Wurlitzer cranking?


The thing that really makes me crazy about this whole deal, regardless the PR/Wurlitzer/HerdMedia machinations that went on behind the scenes, is that it sure looks, and smells, like a whole lotta folks, PR/lobby-connected or otherwise, sure made out like bandits on this one - on both ends of the deal.

And we, the public, have been bamboozled once again, this time by our own faux-outrage, into helping them do it.

With our money.

For what?

Two hundred million dollar 'turnstiles'?


On the plus side, at least were not 'singing songs for PR pimps with tailors' too.


You want a serious analysis of why this whole thing stinks and won't even pay for itself for, like, forever?....Stephen Rees (who is now on the BlogCrawl - don't know why it took me so long) is your man...


Friday, August 24, 2012

E Tu, MoCo?


Rafe Mair has been fired from the CBC's Monday morning political panel.

This is not a good thing.

From Mr. Mair's Facebook page/wall thingie...

"After nearly 7 years I’ve been fired by the CBC’s Early Edition as part of their political panel.

Clearly I was fired because my dealing with the last two Liberal’s whom I saw and heard as party hacks, not evaluators of the political scene.

To any who think this was because they were both women I hearken back to the days when Erin Chutter represented the “right”. Erin was candid, spoke in real terms not PR flack talk. And she was tough as nails.

I tried to ask the questions members of the public would ask and to hold governments’ feet to the fire.

I’m used to being fired. My media career can be summed up thusly - I started when I was 50, was BC Broadcaster of the year, was twice short listed for the Michener Award, won the Michener award, was awarded the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement award at the Jack Webster Awards ceremony and am in the Canadian Association’s Hall of Fame - during which time I was fired three times.

Make that four."


Never mind the media monitoring contracts designed to softly massage messages.

Because if the CBC can be pushed around (or feels that it must push itself around to keep the Colonel and the Paymasters happy)....


Thanks to reader E. for the heads-up....
Laila has this one up too, with a little more, here...
Charlie Smith, himself a former MoCo political contributor, weighs in, here....
And in case you didn't know it, Merv Adey, the independent citizen who got the MoCo COI Smart/Scott thing going with nothing more than a well-written letter, is on fire on the TwittMachine....Mr. Adey is someone well worth following, here...


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Beer On Black...


"...Here is what I think. We could use some of Black's forward thinking applied to the big motherf*cking pipeline of saw logs we have built and are keeping pumping with raw timber we ought to be creating jobs with right here at home. $14,000,000,000 would build enough sawmills and re-manufacturing capacity to keep every man woman and child employed in this province for a hundred f*cking years..."

Read it.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Story #5...Rakoff And Reid Are All You Need


I wrote about master wordsmiths David Rakoff and Ian Reid of Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Palm Springs and the Whole Wide World, with or without sports, a couple of months ago.

And since then a lot has changed.

So much so that I decided the time had come to let their words speak for themselves (mostly)...

There are a lot of tributes to Mr. Rakoff out and about right now, and almost all of them are moving. As you might expect, I have a few specific recommendations for anybody who's interested.

Firstly, there is an entire show devoted to his stuff on 'This American Life' that will be on CBC Radio One tonight/Sunday at 11pm, and whose pod will come up, here, tomorrow.

And fellow Canadian (yes!, 'fellow' Canadian) Jonathan Goldstein has a written real word-on-the-page tribute to the real Mr. Rakoff, here, and devoted an entire show to him on CBC Radio One's 'Wiretap' this week whose pod can be linked to here.

As for Mr. Reid, you can find all his stuff here. Two of my favorite posts are about the treadmill, which started all this, and the post-imatinib post that brought me back to it.

Mr. Rakoff's dance I mean...

Oh....And perhaps this is as good a time as ever to tell you that my real thing, not this slightly obsessive wordsmith extraction thing, is trying to develop new biologics...OK?
With apologies to Eleanor G. for getting this up just a wee bit late this morning...


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Railing In The Bloggodome: Conversations With My Spiritual Papercarrier


The PacificGazette's Audio Sunday Story #4 is a conversation with the infamous Reverend Paperboy (aka, Kevin Wood).

In the late spring of 2010, the good Reverend called me up on the Skypemobile and asked me a bunch of questions about the BC Rail sale/not sale just as the real/notpre-trial was finally sputtering to life.

The Rev then made a podcast of the publication that he put up for awhile on his late, great 'Maple Syrup Revolution'.


Given Bob Mackin's high level overview that ran on CKNW earlier this week, I figured fellow Railgate Cultists might find my talk with the Rev interesting because he does a good job of forcing me towards the heart of the matter which, in my opinion was that the fix appeared to be in right from (before) the (bagman-assisted) beginning. Furthermore, we also discuss the possibility that, if such a fix really was in from the beginning, the accused might have, at the very least, been egged on by their political masters to try and smooth the bidding process over.



Before you have a listen, there a few things you might want to consider...

First - all that retroactive publication ban stuff was still in play at the time, so there were a lot of known knowns that could not be talked about that forced us to go all Rumsfeldian for a bit.

Second - The current (not) Premier had still not made her play, and thus she is not discussed (other than obliquely, again because of the publication ban).

Third - We discuss who was most active in trying to get to the bottom of things in the Lotuslandian Bloggodome at the time (and before anyone gets huffy, please remember that wayback in June of 2010 Alex Tsakumis not yet dumping RailGate documents, big-time, with any regularity). In my view, the work of the amateurs was important given how little was being done in the then CanWest-dominated Pro/CorpMedia.  I apologize to anyone we may have missed - The Rev and I got into that in more detail in a later conversation that I'll try and get from him to post up later. Even having said all that, I have no idea why I didn't mention Mr. T the other, Bill Tieleman, who did yeoman's work on Railgate from the very beginning and whose 'A to Z Guide', first published in late 2008, is still the best reference if you need to figure out and and/or all the major players involved. 

Fourth- The Rev and I spend quite a bit of time discussing the potential 'Quid Pro Quo' (eg. the Roberts Bank Spur Line) that everybody is now pretending never existed despite the fact that its sale was suddenly halted when the RCMP told the political masters that the bidding may have been 'tainted'. To the best of my knowledge, the evidence/findings that led to those warnings of 'taint' from the Horsemen to the Campbell/Clark government have never been make public, although transcripts of wiretaps that were published in the public prints later sure had a lot of folks wondering if there was another player, other than OmniTrax, in the running.

Fifth - Please note my extreme concern/paranoia that a deal might be made and the trial might suddenly come to an end before any and all political masters would have been forced to take the stand and answer questions, under oath, for all to see. Crazy talk, right?


OK, that's enough with the keyboard babble.

With a million thanks to the Reverend Paperboy, here goes...

You know, I've often wondered if there was some specific bit of evidence that the defense was threatening to bring up at the trial that did, suddenly, lead to the six million dollar deal that did shut the trial down for good later that year....Any guesses?


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mr. Ryan, Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been...

...(In Ideological Lust With) An Atheist?

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And, lest you think I am being a little over the top here, to the best of my knowledge (or even the fever-blistered brain of one Mr. William O'Reilly), Mr. Obama never, ever, forced his staffers to read the collected works of, say, Saul Alinsky.

On the other hand, I guess I could have written a header asking Mr. Ryan if he has ever  'palled around' with famous denouncers of organized religion.

Or some such thing.

Embed by way of Driftglass.


Is Rex Murphy On Christy Clark's Side?


It's kinda/sorta (but not really too) hard to tell, what with a lede like this:

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that B.C. premier Christy Clark is right: Ixnay any pipeline to take Alberta oil west to China....

Followed immediately by a kicker like this:

...I confess that all along I’ve been misreading this pipeline controversy, mistaking what the (mainly B.C.) politicians were saying and doing for … reality...

Then there's a bunch of stuff about Clemenceau not being on hand to clap, one handed or otherwise, that doesn't really make a whole lot of sense.


Jelly Roll doesn't really care.

After all,  the man named Morton just wants the headline, hoping that it will percolate through the wurlitzer while his charge hides out in a secluded bunker located nowhere near Spuzzum that is (allegedly) "out of cell phone range".

A suitably satire-free NaPo header that goes like this:

Rex Murphy: Christy Clark is being a wily fox during the pipeline negotiations.


Meanwhile, the Globe's Bailey and Mickleburgh go spelunking and make their way deep into a 6,000 year old cave to find a couple of savvy commentators who are are  able to come up with something positive to say about the (not)Premier's recent grandstanding while they simultaneously tried on their freshly made dino-skin wetsuits:

...The Premier’s backers, however, continue to believe that by resurrecting B.C.’s long political tradition of bashing those beyond its boundaries, Ms. Clark’s pipeline posturing will yet bring back voters who have shifted their supportto other parties.
“This has come along, and it’s very good for her,” exulted John Reynolds, former B.C. Tory MP and Conservative House leader, who organized a lucrative fundraising dinner for Ms. Clark in June.
“With this issue, we’d get even more than last time. We’d fill the place.”
He isn’t concerned by her vanishing act, noting she has clearly outlined the issue and launched the debate on B.C.’s approach. “It’s a good time to step back a little bit, and let it soak in with people.”
Stockwell Day, another former federal Conservative prominent in the Clark camp, believes the Premier’s stand is a smart political move that will reap benefits in the long run.
It’s the right thing to do, as well, added Mr. Day, who had a long political career in oil-rich Alberta before jumping to the federal scene....

Go figure.

The real upshot here?....Once you've become a joke-line that even the Curmudgeon can exploit for a quick column written at the cottage after a mid-summer night's fever dream, you are in big trouble indeed.
Railgate conversation with the good Reverend Paperboy coming as Pod....Promise.


Friday, August 10, 2012

My Favourite Reads...


As you may have surmised, I spend most of my time in the bloggodome visiting those who write with a Lotuslandian perspective.

But that doesn't mean there aren't other Canadian bloggers whose sites aren't worth visiting regularly.

And one of those site's is Owen Gray's Northern Reflections.

Here a sample of his POV and writing from a recent post:

...Commentators have had a lot to say about the Harper government's war on science. But  that war is being fought on several fronts. In fact, the Harperites have declared war on knowledge. The reason is simple: knowledge is power. And, if the public is given access to knowledge, they can mount their own counter offensive...

Which is good stuff, indeed. But even better is the way Mr. Gray engages his readers regardless whether they agree with him, or not.

Give Owen's stuff a read. He pops up on the Blog Crawl on the left regularly.

And I'm starting to think that retirees just may make the best bloggers...


Robo/Real/ConCall Update...Has The Next Limited Hangout Begun?


Remember this, from last spring:

OTTAWA - A former employee of a call centre that did work for the Conservative party in the last election says she was instructed to tell people Elections Canada had changed their polling locations.
In a sworn affidavit, Annette Desgagne says she and other workers at Responsive Marketing Group's call centre in Thunder Bay, Ont., became suspicious when people questioned them about the new polling locations...
{snippety doo-dah}
...Desgagne says her co-workers had similar experiences. She says her supervisors told her to "just stick to the scripts" when she told them of her concerns.
"Our concerns were ignored and we had to keep reading and repeating the same scripts about changes of address for polling stations made by elections Canada," says Desgagne's affidavit.

Desgagne's affidavit, filed as part of a court action launched by the Council of Canadians, repeats most of the claims first reported by the Toronto Star in February.
She says she went to work for RMG three weeks before election day.
She says she started out making calls in which she identified herself as calling on behalf of the Conservative party. She recorded people's voting preferences and asked Conservative supporters if they would put up yard signs.
Desgagne says the script changed about three days before the May 2 vote, dropping all mention of the Conservatives. The new scripts said Elections Canada had changed some polling stations, and directed voters to the new locations...


McMaher, in the OCitizen, are now reporting that the Chief Operating Officer for Response Marketing Group has filed an affadavit in federal court which it claims that allegations that there was any attempt to commit voter suppression by phone are 'categorically' false:

OTTAWA — The Conservatives have for the first time responded in detail to allegations that they engaged in fraudulent phone calls aimed at suppressing the votes of opposition voters during the last election.

Such charges are “categorically false,” says a detailed affidavit filed in federal court on Wednesday by Andrew Langhorne, chief operating officer of Responsive Marketing Group, the Conservative party’s main voter contact firm...

But then comes the part that looks like a wee bit of a 'hangout'.

And, guess what....

It involves 'scripts':

...Langhorne’s affidavit contradicts her (Desgagne) on key points. It asserts that neither the party nor the company even discussed calling non-supporters; it asserts that callers were told to identify themselves as calling for the Conservatives; and it provides a get-out-the-vote script used by callers.

“Hi, I’m calling for (name from list),” the script begins. “This is (first name) with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. Your candidate (Candidate name) asked me to call you.”

The script goes on to say that “Elections Canada has changed some voting locations at the last moment,” and asks them to provide their polling station to the caller.

Langhorne says the callers would check that against their list.

“If the address provided by the voter for their polling station did not match the address in front of the RMG agent, the RMG agent was directed to provide the voter with the polling station address displayed from the (get-out-the-vote) data.”

Langhorne says that RMG records show that Desgagnes made only 20 get-out-the-vote calls to voters in the seven ridings at issue, and identified herself as calling on behalf of the Conservatives, as the script states. The records show she gave voters correct addresses, Langhorne says.

Langhorne says that voters and callers may have different addresses because of errors in the database callers use, or errors in the lists provided by Elections Canada.

During the campaign, Elections Canada asked all the parties to not give voters the addresses of polling stations, to avoid confusion... 


Why consider this a potential 'limited' hangout?

Well, because Mr. Langhorne's statement does appear to include a small, 'limited' admission of RMG doing something E-Canada told them NOT to do (i.e. give voters addresses of polling stations).

But here's the thing - If it were to turn out that there are some scripts floating around out there...

...Wouldn't any and all dates on them, given Ms. Desgagne's original claim of the changing nature of said 'scripts' as election day loomed, turn out to be pretty important?

And while we're at it - Here's another question that comes to mind...

...Do RMG's records show that Ms. Desgagne made other calls that were in a different 'category' than those labelled 'Get-Out-The-Vote? in the seven ridings 'at issue?

Want more?.... Saskboy and pogge (who also has more on the 'Cheques for Dean-O affair', and the CPC's monetary pushback against the Council of Canadians) offer their opinions here and here....


Government By Talk-Show...The Next Trivial Thing.


Now that the (not)Premier is safely hidden from view on summer holidays (allegedly), it's left to the fill-in hosts to run the show for awhile.



Shirley Bond:

In a bid to boost plummeting voter turnout rates, the B.C. government wants to introduce Internet balloting for future provincial and municipal elections. But research from Canadian municipalities and European nations has cast doubt on the power of e-voting to encourage more citizen engagement.
“All of us are interested in increasing the voter turnout in elections,” Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, said in a written statement asking B.C.’s Chief Electoral Officer to appoint an independent panel to examine the logistics of Internet voting...


That's one important pressing issue in this province.

After all, hardly anybody voted in the HST referendum.


Hey!....Anybody up for more bloggocentric audio discussion of all things RailGate in the wake of Bob Mackin's 'NW documentary?...Staytuned for a re-run of a conversation between the Reverend Paperboy and yours truly...Will try and get it up tonight...


Thursday, August 09, 2012

Baby Beluga... The Real (Imaginary) Story.


The recent death of the Vancouver Aquarium's 46 year old beluga whale Kavna that inspired Raffi to come up with the first of the anti-screech and scratch songs* for kids of the modern era led the musician to tweet the following:

Which led to all kinds of journalists running with a story that Kavna was the actual Baby Beluga of the song.

This, in turn, caused Raffi to try and correct the record and call sloppy herd journos to account who jumped on the bandwagon..

Of course, this just caused the cynicism factory to crank up its Wurlitzer to the point where sites like Gawker started to take a run at him.


Here, for the record from a post he put up earlier today on Rabble, is the lede of Raffi's full description of the inspiration for the very famous little imaginary whale:

My Dear Kavna,
I feel like I've lost a very dear old friend. Yet it's much more than that. Since hearing the news of your death, I have felt the loss of an extended family member -- one who had a profound impact on me. Kavna, meeting you moved me so deeply it changed my life.
You were the most adorable creature I've every seen. Your playfulness struck such a sweet cord within me I scarcely had words for it, for how graceful you were and how cheerful. To me you're not just any beluga. You're Kavna, the one who played with me and gently kissed my cheek during our first meeting in 1979 at the Vancouver Aquarium. In the years since I came back to see you several times in sheer delight: of seeing your face; admiring your body's sleek moves; your effortless way in the water; your antics before the crowds who'd throng to see you.
Oh Kavna, where do I begin to describe what wells up inside me when I cast my mind back over the 32 years since you inspired me to write "Baby Beluga." Did you like the album cover drawing? Did you like how we embossed the beluga and the bubbles? Trust you liked the song; millions can't be wrong, right? I'm glad I made it about an imaginary baby beluga, and that dolphins get a mention in verse two -- after all, you belugas are related to them. How I've enjoyed hearing audiences sing the chorus with me over the years. And such fun seeing children move their arms and hands to "waves roll in and the waves roll out."...


What is this 'screech-and-scratch' song business, I speak of?....Well, if your kids are of a certain age you will remember children's music pre-Raffi...And if you are like me, your ears are still bleeding too...
H/T to Tom Hawthorn who is clearly on Raffi's side...