Tuesday, December 30, 2008

RailGate Media (un)Coverage Unraveling



I've finally have made it all the way through Bill Tieleman's very fine "RailGate Round-Up b/w Alphabetical Guide To All Players", linkage included.....

And boy, is my brain tired.

Truth be told, most of my hunting, pecking and linkage reading involved re-thinking stuff I'd already read about.

Like remembering what, exactly, was the connection between Gary Collins' former deputy minister of finance Paul Taylor, Brian Kiernan and Glen Ringdal.


But that is not to say I did not learn some new things, perspective included, from reading every single word of Mr. Tieleman's latest missive that likely has Mr. Chase and the other members of the Premier's OIC-Infotainment Network blackberrying each other like crazy (both with and without bonus/mocking smiley faces attached).

Factually, the following are three new golden spikes that Mr. T. handed me.....

I knew nothing of the first spike:

Camille BAINS. Media. Bains is a Canadian Press reporter whose diligent stories are now missed, as she has been reassigned and CP is not regularly covering the case.

Which is a darn shame because, overall, I think that outside of Mr. Tieleman, Ms. Bains put as much, if not more, time and effort into covering RailGate than any other proMedia Journo in this town.

I might have known about the second spike if I paid more attention to such things, especially after I slagged a late 2007 story from Ms. Bains not because of what was in the piece but rather because of what was not.

Wendy COX. Media. The B.C. bureau chief for Canadian Press is not covering the case nor is she editing CP coverage of it, but is only mentioned in the category of the "small world" of media and politics.....

So, while she's not covering the case and/or editing the coverage of it, one has to wonder if Ms. Cox is involved as bureau chief in making decisions about reassigning and not replacing reporters who are/were.

Covering RailGate, I mean.

And I ask this because of the third spike Mr. T' handed me, a spike I most definitely should have known about, especially given the government of Gordon Campbell's 'alleged' penchant for 'media monitoring' and the list of cabinet ministers who fled that same government when the RailGate train came chugging slowly down the track back in early 2004.

What the heckfire am I babbling about?

Well, once you read Ms. Cox's full entry from Mr. T. things should be a bit clearer:

Wendy COX. Media. The B.C. bureau chief for Canadian Press is not covering the case nor is she editing CP coverage of it, but is only mentioned in the category of the "small world" of media and politics -- Cox is the wife of former B.C. Finance minister Gary Collins.

The LINO Red colouring of the last phrase is mine, all mine (ie. not Mr. T's).


Originally, I was going to sub-head this post 'YouCanRunButYouCan'tFlyVille'....
Just so you (and maybe she?) know/knows.....there were other times when I praised Ms. Bains' work effusively. We, the members of the RailGate's Obsessive Club, owe Ms. Bains a debt of gratitude.


Monday, December 29, 2008

The Secretive He-Man Woman Haters' Club Of Canada (v2.0)

....Having Their Reasonableness Cake and Eating Their Base Too



Well, well, well.....

Whaddy'a know.

The Maximum Leader of all of our Haters' Clubs has, apparently kinda/sorta decided not to back the newly resurrected, and highly secretive, 'He-Man Woman Hater's Club of Canada':

OTTAWA — In the face of dissension within the party, Stephen Harper's Conservative government is reiterating its commitment to not reopen the debate on abortion.

"Throughout his political career, the prime minister has been clear on this issue," said Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for the prime minister. "We will not introduce or support legislation on abortion."

The issue resurfaced Monday when Rod Bruinooge, a Conservative MP for Winnipeg South, published an opinion piece in the National Post arguing why he has "no choice but to advocate for the unborn and seek to have their value restored.".......

Isn't that just fine?

Looks like the Maximum Leader has decided to look his most 'reasonable' after letting one of his mini-me's send a signal that is sure to have 'The Base' pining for the fjords all over again.

Which, I suppose, is not that surprising given that this is the kind of wedge-issue gambit that served the Atwater/Ailes/Rovians very, very well for years before their House of Codswallop finally collapsed (for good?).

After all, if a Maximum Leader were to actually deliver what the base wants most most how the heckfire would he keep the money and the votes coming.

Not to mention the true believers/fanatics to deliver them.

Deliver the money and the votes I mean.


Not surprisingly, despite the fact that his house organ propagammon piece was only printed this morning, the mini-me leader of the He-Man Woman Hater's Club has already locked himself in the clubhouse for the duration:

"(Conservative MP Rod) Bruinooge was recently elected chairman of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus, a multi-party caucus that predates the Harper government by many years. Bruinooge could not be reached for comment......"

Meanwhile, parliament remains closed because the Maximum Leader also has has hate-on for coalitions.

Or some such thing.


RailGate, The Sixth Season - Wheels Of Misfortune


After five long years it looks like British Columbia's never ending show that never actually started just might be going into syndication.

Luckily, Mr. T., Bill Tieleman, provides an alphabetized program of the BC Rail (non)Trial, so you can keep track of the players, past and present, alphabetically.

My favorite entry is the letter 'B' (for all kinds of reasons):

Camille BAINS. Media.
Bains is a Canadian Press reporter whose diligent stories are now missed, as she has been reassigned and CP is not regularly covering the case.

Amar BAJWA. Federal Liberal Party, possible witness.
Former federal Liberal government assistant in Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Bajwa was among several listed in a search warrant information to obtain, who police said: "are not at the present time the subjects of this investigation."

Bajwa was also an organizer for Prime Minister Paul Martin in his federal Liberal leadership campaign in B.C. and publicly defended David Basi, a friend since high school, after the raid.

Bajwa was membership chair in the federal Liberals' Vancouver South-Burnaby riding when then-cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal lost control of his executive, blaming Basi for a hostile takeover.

Collins introduced Bajwa in the B.C. legislature on two occasions, in 1999 and 2001. More recently, Bajwa was campaign manager for Victoria Liberal candidate Anne Park Shannon in the 2008 election.

David BASI. Accused, ex-B.C. government.
Five years ago, life was good for Basi. As ministerial assistant to then-Finance minister Gary Collins, Basi was a powerful provincial government staffer who also worked as a federal Liberal Party organizer for the leadership campaign of Finance Minister Paul Martin.

Basi and co-accused Bob Virk, ministerial assistant to Transportation Minister Judith Reid, were two of the key political staff involved in the $1 billion B.C. Rail privatization. Both men sat in on many confidential meetings on the deal, and were both in multiple e-mail chains as well, according to defence statements in B.C. Supreme Court.

Basi was also heavily involved in efforts to push federal Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chr├ętien out of office and replace him with then–Finance minister Paul Martin. The so-called "Basi Boys" were allegedly used by Martin's B.C. lieutenant Mark Marissen -- husband of then-provincial Liberal deputy premier Christy Clark -- to take over riding associations for the Martin forces.

But Basi's political activities were not what brought RCMP attention. Basi's cousin Jasmohan (Jas) Bains was under investigation in Victoria for cocaine trafficking, and when extensive wiretaps on Bains's phones were set, Basi was allegedly intercepted discussing matters that police felt were illegal, leading to the launch of Project Everywhichway.

(Bains was charged after police seized 20 kilograms of cocaine and much later convicted in 2008.)

After the B.C. legislature raid, Basi was fired from his job and later charged with breach of trust and fraud for allegedly giving provincial lobbyist Erik Bornmann confidential government documents related to the B.C. Rail bidding process. Bornmann and Pilothouse Public Affairs partner Brian Kieran were registered lobbyists for OmniTRAX, the U.S.-based rail company that was in the running to buy B.C. Rail.

Later more charges were laid against Basi alone. He was charged with the production and possession of marijuana after police found a grow operation in a home he owned but rented out at Shawnigan Lake, north of Victoria. The charges were stayed June 30, 2005, by the federal Crown.

Then on March 31, 2006 additional serious charges were filed against Basi. The Crown alleges that Basi was paid $50,000 between January 2002 and September 2003 to help veteran Victoria developers Jim Duncan and Tony Young get land removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve for the giant Sunriver Estates housing project.

All three men face trial in Victoria in 2009 and Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton has dismissed the allegations against his client, saying an aide in the Finance Ministry couldn't influence ALR decisions.

The now 41-year-old Basi also apparently avoided other possible charges. Defence lawyers alleged in court that Basi had two $10,000 private contracts with the B.C. Liberal Party for "media monitoring" -- a misleading term which appears to have covered many political dirty tricks.

Basi allegedly organized phoney callers to radio talk shows and phoney protests, including one counter-protest against anti-farmed salmon environmentalists and another outside the 2003 B.C. Federation of Labour convention.

However, the dirtiest political trick never happened. Defence lawyers alleged in court that Basi had planned to have a load of manure dumped at the home of B.C. Fed president Jim Sinclair, but that it never occurred.

Basi and Virk's defence is that they were under orders from political higher-ups to do whatever necessary to keep OmniTRAX in the bidding.

The defence alleges that included offering the firm a "consolation prize" of the $70 million B.C. Rail Roberts Bank spur line, a deal the defence says was approved by Collins himself. Collins has strongly denied that allegation.

Aneal BASI. Accused, ex-B.C. government.
The least known of the three accused is an ex-government junior Transportation Ministry public affairs officer who is charged with money laundering for alleged accepting of payments from former provincial lobbyist Erik Bornmann -- now the key Crown witness -- for his cousin David Basi.

Police allege that Bornmann paid Aneal Basi through his company Pacific Public Affairs Corporation for "contract writing services" and then passed equal amounts on to David Basi.

The 28-year-old Basi was appointed to his position in July 2002, has been a federal Liberal Party donor and is a former member of Canada's national field hockey team.

BC MARY. Media.
The indefatigable proprietor of the only website exclusively devoted to the Basi-Virk case. BC Mary's blog -- The Legislature Raids -- is the repository of hundreds of thousands of words on the case, including links and excerpts from media reports going back to 2003 and original reporting, plus BC Mary's own unique takes on the case.

From mainstream media stories to conspiracy theories, it's a one-stop shop for Basi-Virk aficionados. BC Mary is known by her blog name only.

Elizabeth BENNETT. B.C. Supreme Court presiding judge.
Justice Bennett is a former defence lawyer who has handled several high-profile B.C. cases, most notably the trial of former B.C. premier Glen Clark and the extradition to the United States of John Graham, the native activist charged with the murder of American Indian movement member Anna Mae Pictou Aquash.

Bennett has been frustrated repeatedly by delays in the trial, exclaiming at one point, "As long as everyone understands we're not moving the Dec. 3 date -- if I have to sit here in an empty courtroom myself, the matters are going to be heard."

Of course, that date was Dec. 3 in 2007, not 2008, and the trial is still many, many months away despite Bennett's repeated efforts to get underway.

Bill BERARDINO. Special prosecutor.
Berardino is a veteran lawyer who became special prosecutor in December 2003. Berardino has decades of experience as a top commercial litigator and has represented diverse clients, including Imperial Tobacco in its fight with B.C. and other provincial governments over the recovery of medical costs due to smoking-related illnesses.

But Berardino does not have criminal courtroom experience, leading to some criticism that his appointment as special prosecutor by the attorney general's ministry was a mistake.

Michael BOLTON. Defence lawyer.
Bolton represents David Basi and is a veteran criminal lawyer and former journalist. Bolton acts as spokesperson for the defence lawyers outside court and has been involved in many high profile cases, including representing Svend Robinson when he pled guilty to theft charges after the former New Democrat member of parliament swiped an expensive ring at an auction.

Bolton, who holds a Queen's counsel or QC, shows a gentlemanly demeanour in court, which often disguises the razor blade in his boxing gloves when he wants to drive home a point.

Erik BORNMANN. Key Crown witness, ex-lobbyist.
Bormann is a former provincial lobbyist and one-time aide to former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin when he was finance minister, and is now the star witness against David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi.

Police search warrant "information to obtain" documents allege that Bornman and Kieran paid Basi and Virk nearly $30,000 in exchange for confidential information on the B.C. Rail deal.

It is also alleged that Aneal Basi laundered payments from Bornmann for David Basi.

The controversial Bornmann earned the nickname "Spiderman" after entering a locked room in the B.C. offices of the Liberal Party of Canada through the ceiling. Bornmann later told staff that his bag had been locked inside and he needed it. But the room also contained the B.C. membership list during the time of the leadership battle between Martin and Jean Chr├ętien.

Bornmann and Pilothouse Public Affairs partner Brian Kieran -- the former Province newspaper political columnist -- were the registered provincial lobbyists for OmniTRAX, the US-based rail company that was bidding for B.C. Rail against eventual winner CN Rail and CP Rail, which dropped out of the bidding because of what it said was a "clear breach" of fairness in the process due to other bidders receiving confidential information.

In addition to OmniTRAX, Bornman was active in B.C. government relations as a registered lobbyist for the Employers Forum of B.C., the Council of Forest Industries, the Western Canadian Shippers Coalition, the Broe Companies, Inc. (owners of OmniTRAX), the B.C. Real Estate Association, Famous Players, the Certified General Accountants Association of B.C. and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, according to the B.C. government's lobbyist web site.

In 1999, Bornmann was a key organizer for a Victoria federal Young Liberal convention that turned into a drunken hotel-trashing. Traveller's Inn president John Asfar sued the Liberal party for $10,000 in damages but settled out of court.

Surprisingly, Bornmann and Kieran continued lobbying for a period of time after the B.C. legislature raid. Bornmann also attended the University of B.C. law school.

Since graduating from UBC, Bormann has tried to become a lawyer in both Ontario and New York, but the delays in his testimony as the Basi-Virk star witness have ensured that his legal career is at best on hold pending the trial.

Roy BORNMAN. Federal Liberal party.
Brother of Erik Bornmann, Roy spells his name with just one "n" and has been the Liberal Party in B.C.'s executive director, a federal government communications director and a backer of former prime minister Paul Martin's leadership campaign. More recently, the communications consultant supported Liberal MP and hockey goalie great Ken Dryden in the last leadership contest.

Martyn BROWN. B.C. government, possible witness.
Brown is Premier Gordon Campbell's longtime chief of staff and as such might be called by the defence to testify about allegations that political staff in the premier's office worked with David Basi and others to execute political dirty tricks, such as organizing fake protests at the B.C. Federation of Labour convention and stacking radio talk-show callers to support B.C. Liberal guests and attack opponents.

Brown might also have to testify about what role Campbell and his former deputy minister Ken Dobell played in dealing with disclosure of government documents requested as evidence by the defence.

And that's just one letter out of 26, which tells you something about the cast of characters involved.

So, set your PVR's and, hopefully, by this time next year we will actually have some some new, not to mention major and hopefully meaningful, plot developments.


In addition to BC Mary, another private citizen/non-pro who deserves mentioning, Robin Mathews, shows up in the 'M's with this entry from Mr. T.: "The retired Canadian studies professor is a regular observer at the B.C. Supreme Court pre-trial hearings and writes website reports for BC Mary's blog and Vive Le Canada. Mathews tends towards the view that the courts are doing a terrible job with this case -- he has written to Justice Elizabeth Bennett to complain on occasion -- and is more impressionistic than reportorial in his postings, but a good read nonetheless and always a dapper and amiable fellow at court....." I actually have to take Mr. T. to task for this one for an omission because it was Mr. Mathews' letter to Judge Bennett that resulted in a raising of the veil of secrecy shrouding the proceedings such that considerable material has since been subjected to some public (if not pro-media) scrutiny (ie. material like this).
As for the letter 'G' in Mr. T's Lexicon....well, shucks..... although I must point out that I am most definitely NOT a member of the 'media'. And for anybody drifting over from Mr. T's Tyee piece, here's the Bobby Orr bit Bill was referring to. If, instead, you're actually interested in what I've had to say about RailGate itself, the following are a couple of good starting points.


The Secretive Women Haters' Club Of Canada (v1.1)


I'm shocked!

Shocked, I tell you that Adam Wherry would have the temerity to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the recent actions of the apparently self-appointed/annointed leader of the 'Secret(ive) Women Haters' Club of Canada', Conservative MP Rob Bruinooge, might have the tacit approval of the Maximum Leader of all Canada's Haters' Clubs:

"The cynical among you might assume the expression of this personal opinion was planned and blessed from above. The even more cynical might imagine that even if it was, Mr. Bruinooge will soon enough be scolded in public and quickly disappeared......"


Why should we, the people of the country formerly known as Canuckistan, be cynical when we currently live in a country with no Parliament because the Maximum Leader has a hate-on for Coalitions?



The Secretive Women Haters' Club Of Canada


Just who are these guys, anyway?

WINNIPEG — The abortion debate is about to enter a “new era” of advocacy for the rights of the unborn, says a Conservative MP who recently took over the chairmanship of a secretive, parliamentary anti-abortion caucus.

The all-party caucus will publicize what it views as inadequate abotion regulation, and push for legislation to restrict abortions, Winnipeg MP Rod Bruinooge said in an interview.

“I was born in the post-Morgentaler era, and I think I come to this debate under a different context,” Mr. Bruinooge said last night. “I believe that having open debate on important topics like this is essential for any democratic movement. It's a democracy, and we are putting our ideas out for debate.”

Mr. Bruinooge declined to provide details about the membership of the caucus – which he described as “sizable” – on the basis that MPs from other parties fear internal repercussions if their activism is known......

JJ wants to know.

Here's hoping she, with the help of good folks like Buckets, finds out.

And as Alison points out, as even the Commander knows, it is NOT legal to sell your kidneys on E-bay.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tired Of The Same Old Crap On Christmas?


On the radio I mean.


Radio-Free-Woodshed Is On The Air!

Just point your browser here on Christmas Day for a Potpourri of Excellence On Par With Nothing Else This Side Of, Oh Say, Japan!

From the Reverend Paperboy no less.

Here's the Rev's tentative line-up.....

"A dramatization of "A Christmas Carol" from 9amEST/6amPST straight through to holiday storytime starting around 7 pmEST/4pmPST featuring stories from Dylan Thomas, Stuart Mclean's Vinyl Cafe,O. Henry, Paul Auster, Tom Waits, Dr. Seuss, Steve Martin, David Sedaris and others and lots of music.....'

And, what's more....

The Rev. promises that there will be:

"No cursing or punk/heavy metal/free jazz during prime time"



Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Best Christmas Card Ever!

It's from my new friend Theo (just click on it to see it full size).

I'm not exactly sure how Theo found me, although I have a sneaking suspicion it might have something to do with our mutual admiration for the late, great Steve Gilliard*.

But the finding doesn't matter once you're found.


Theo sends out these cards to friends and anybody he thinks will enjoy them four times a year as the seasons change.

The list of lucky recipients now numbers in the hundreds, in both the real world and the world of the bloggodome.

And the only thing you have to give him in return is a smile.

And he doesn't even have to see it.

But I'm pretty sure he can feel it.

Thanks Theo.

In real life Theo is an artist/cartoonist. You can see his stuff here. And if you like it (his stuff I mean), what the heckfire are you waiting for? Buy some!

*Truth be told, I consider Mr. Gilliard to be the greatest blogger ever....Better than Billmon and better even than the original pen-to-paper-stay-up-all-night-firing-off-letters-to-anybody-that-would-read-'em-and-write-back-blogger, Hunter Thompson. Which, if you've spent any time hanging around here at all, means that I, like other folks who know a helluva lot more about this stuff than me think Gilliard had already given us the rightest of right stuff with so much more on the way.

And I know, with all my soul, that if Theo could get a card to Steve now his smile would be ear-to-ear as he put together this year's beer can chicken just before sitting down to write a devastating post on the stupidity of the coming American arming of a new gang of Mujahadeen times a hundred.


All I Want For Christmas....

...Are Reggie Leach's Charlie 'O Skates

Well, maybe that and the ability to streak down the right side and fire pucks, high, into the glove side corner at will.


Truth be told, I'd settle for that beauty of a Sherwood PMP with the kinghell hook in the picture.


Man, can you imagine....Growing up in Riverton Manitoba before moving on up to the grand metropolis of Flin-Flon to play for that kill-crusher Paddy Ginnell, and then, a scant year-and-a-half later, be living the hi-life in the San Fransisco Bay Area circa 1972/Grateful Dead while playing for Charlie O' Freakin' Finley who also owned a ball team that was getting ready to win Three World Series In A Row with Rock Hudson?


Monday, December 22, 2008

Just In Case You've Forgotten.....

...Some Things Really Are Better In German.

And math, especially when it is not part of a stinking FSA test, truly can be a wunderbar thing.



Disco, Disco Slick!


What the heckfire is goin' on?

Dear Leader has made his unelected appointments, and.....

...No Senator Smilin' Sammy Sullivan......

...No Senator Long Done Gone John Reynolds.....

But Disco Slick Dick Neufeld is in?!

Hmmmmmm......whose fire is that gonna light?

Well, I suppose that the very fine Bush Rangers from Kinder-Morgan/Enron/Carlyle Group/ExxonValdez-Mobil probably couldn't be happier.

Especially those that just hate that pesky Off-Shore Oil Drilling Moratorium:

On February 2 (2007), Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Rich Neufeld met with Exxon Mobil executives while attending a convention in Houston, Texas. During that meeting, the executives told the minister their company "has new (offshore) technologies that are environmentally friendly." And they asked how Exxon Mobil can "help move the moratorium and public opinion." This, according to a government report prepared by the ministry of energy, mines and petroleum resources and obtained via a freedom of information request (by Sean Holman).

Not to mention Maximum Mike and the gung-ho gang over at Big Muddy Inc. who, surprise!, already have their Wurlitzer cranked and ready to go.

So.....go suck on that nature lovers.

Especially those of you that love your Haida Gwaii and Hecate Strait straight-up and unsullied with killer black goo.


We're pretty sure Mr. Holman will have all kinds of interesting things to tell us about our new elected....errrrrr....appointed Senators from Lotusland, Nancy, 'Stop Calling It Todd Mountain, Darn-It!' Greene and Ms. Yonah 'I once ran as a StealthCon In NewWestminister!' Martin any minute now.
And whatever you do, don't even get me started on the Stay-Puff't Marshmallow Man.
Commenter 'astro' notes the proximity of the potential offshore drilling sites to earthquake fault lines.....clearly he/she does not understand the implications of Exxon's 'new technologies' and how rare and shortlived any problems will be regardless. After all, as we all now know and/or should know by now, oil slicks are just temporary things that get a few birds dirty for awhile, right. Right?
Oh, and just so you know, the inscrutable Mr. Spector has decided that the Pierogified Senators are actually a very, very, very good thing, indeed, for Canada....Will wonders and the non-stop cat-calls regarding the innocence of Brian Mulroney's total eclipsing of the dumb never cease?


What's The Difference Between Madoff And The Rest Of The 'Investment Industry'?


The difference?


Essentially, nothing, according to our man at The Times, the Nobel-laureate Paul Krugman:

So, how different is what Wall Street in general did from the Madoff affair? Well, Mr. Madoff allegedly skipped a few steps, simply stealing his clients’ money rather than collecting big fees while exposing investors to risks they didn’t understand. And while Mr. Madoff was apparently a self-conscious fraud, many people on Wall Street believed their own hype. Still, the end result was the same (except for the house arrest): the money managers got rich; the investors saw their money disappear.....

{snippety doo-dah}

At the crudest level, Wall Street’s ill-gotten gains corrupted and continue to corrupt politics, in a nicely bipartisan way. From Bush administration officials like Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who looked the other way as evidence of financial fraud mounted, to Democrats who still haven’t closed the outrageous tax loophole that benefits executives at hedge funds and private equity firms (hello, Senator Schumer), politicians have walked when money talked.

Meanwhile, how much has our nation’s future been damaged by the magnetic pull of quick personal wealth, which for years has drawn many of our best and brightest young people into investment banking, at the expense of science, public service and just about everything else?

Most of all, the vast riches being earned — or maybe that should be “earned” — in our bloated financial industry undermined our sense of reality and degraded our judgment.....

All of which is just reinforces the fact that Joseph Stiglitz, another Nobel-laureate, was right when he pointed out that blame must be apportioned appropriately for this cult-of-the-codswallop (ie. the de-regulation of everything) that has laid capitalism so very, very low.

Otherwise, we will wake up 18 months from now, with none of the root causes having really been addressed because we've been bamboozled by the screamers into believing that it really was the fault of those greedy autoworkers or, even moreso, those poor people who bought their first houses when they never should have.

Which, of course, is laughable in the extreme.

In fact, here's what Mr. Stiglitz had to say about the latter issue:

"You'll hear some on the right point to certain actions by the government itself - such as the Community Reinvestment Act, which requires banks to make mortgage money available in low-income neighborhoods......Defaults on (this) C.R.A. lending were actually much lower than on other lending...."

Did you get that?

Even now, with the bottom falling out of everything because of the concerted actions of Mr. Madoff et al., the folks at the bottom catching the worst of the crap (ie. the ones who really have to scrape and hustle and flow to keep things together) are holding up their end of the bargain.

Instead, the people that are really killing the housing market are the finest of the fine folks who gambled big money they didn't have on the hopes that they'd be able to flip out and make their creditors (ie. banks) happy and themselves stinkin' rich for no good reason at all.

Which, of course, is precisely what the Madoff's of the world and the Reality TeeVee Home Spec-u-vestment shows, not to mention Alan Greenspan and all his damnable puts, were telling them to do.


Update: There is, of course, a caveat, as Alison points out in the comments.....which is that the demonstrable difference between Madoff and the rest of the Investment Industry is that the former has not yet applied for and/or been granted a Bernanke Bailout yet.....(at least as far as we know, ha!)


Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Revenge Of The Arab Street....


"People worry a lot about how the Arab street is going to react. Well, I see that the Arab street has gotten very, very quiet since we started blowing things up."

Donald Kagan, Co-Chairman, Project For A New American Century
Interview with Paul William Roberts, Sept. 2002, In: A War Against Truth, Raincoast, pg 39.

“We’ve been selling these shoes for years but, thanks to Bush, orders are flying in like crazy,” he said. “We’ve even hired an agency to look at television advertising.”

Ramazan Baydan, the maker of the 'Model 271', aka the 'Bye-Bye Bush' shoe, Dec. 2009




Hey!...... Rest Of Canada!......

....All Your Snowmageddons 'R Us!



So send 'em all.

'Cause we're ready for 'em.

And while we sure as heckfire won't be able to drive on 'em.....

We'll angel 'em up...

We'll roll 'em....

We'll sled 'em.....

We'll throw 'em....

We'll salt 'em....

We'll plow 'em....

We'll even pile 'em high!

I mean, we'll be happy to make the ultimate sacrifice for the rest of all you Canuckistanians everywhere*.

And, in the bargain, we might even have our first White Christmas since Bing Crosby fled Vermont for Florida and started shillin' for Minute Maid.....

And then, come New Year's Eve, we'll just dump 'em all in the Big Muddy and start counting the blossoms while you all go about your business until oh, say, Easter or so.....


*And that includes you too, you Separsovereignartistes from Quebec (who have already saved the rest of us from a fate far, far worse than a thousand Snowmaggedons in the last few months).
**What?.....What the heckfire is that, you say?......The Big Muddy is Freakin' Frozen!?....Hmmmmm....Maybe we should rethink this thing.....
This 'EndTimes' for Lotusland talk first got started over at Mike's which is located smack dab in the middle of the RoC......It then migrated even further west to jj's, which is the 'Site Of All Whinging' when it comes to all things icey and stalagtiteical.


Spamalot v2.0


Shorter Ms. Always Campaigning.....

"I will not cast aspersions while I'm casting aspersions......"

What the heckfire am I talking about?

Well, on the (nolongerso)Giant'98's 8:00am newscast this morning Suzanne Anton was refusing to directly suggest that there was a conflict of interest between a husband and wife team that works for his Gregoriousness and the City of Vancouver while she was simultaneously indirectly suggesting it.

And where was this stunning, if weasly, revelation first floated?

Why, on the new Website run by the former denizens of Sir Spam-A-Lot's Magic Kingdom, of course.

And now the words of weasel wisdom have been both framed and wurlitzered.

I'm sure the former denizens cant' wait see if it makes the noon news on Global.


Thanks to our good friend Bob for prodding this post (we both heard the offending newscast on Jill Bennett's weekend morning show, which we find far superior to the bilge water pumped out by big Phil during the week....and, for the record, Bob Addison's 'Sylvester' imitation was priceless....)
Dont' know about you, but this latest development has me wondering if the denizens have ever shelled out the big bucks to sit in on a workshop by everybody's favorite US Republican strategist, Frank Luntz.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Ledgie Boys Call His Gregoriousness A Union Stooge


Yup, that's the ticket.

Weakness in leaderhip, for sure.....

Caving in to CUPE....

Handing trophies to the Unions....

Can't work with the provincial government (even though, as they noted in the very same breath, he already has on the shelter bed issue)....

And my personal favorite......

"The Firing of Ms. Rogers Means It's Business As Usual At Vancouver City Hall!"

Which pretty much sums up what Palmer and Baldrey had to say during their Bash-O-Rama of Gregor Robertson on the Goodship Watercarrier this morning.

Are these people even paying attention?

And just so you get a real good feel for the bizarrity of the Boys in the Bags' comments, in the very next segment they fell all over each other trumpeting the virtues of Penny Ballem.....The Watercarrier, of course, jumped in and stated that even with the Ballem hire his Gregoriousness didn't know what he was doing, despite the 'real' evidence to the contrary which indicates that Mr. Robertson likely actually bamboozled the good Mr. Good.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

All Quiet On The Spam-A-Lot Front?


FABula is reporting that the York Theatre just may be saved after all:

"I just passed through city hall briefly, where there was a lot of crying and hugging going on in the aftermath of council’s unanimous decision to give a density bonus to the York Theatre big enough to cover all the renos it needs to be functional......"

And still no slagging snarkolepsy from the former(?) followers of Smilin' Sammy.....

But we're pretty sure it will be there by tomorrow.

All of which could be fun.

Especially if it gives big Jim Green a chance to once again face the Spamanistias in the rain.....errrrr.....snow.


The New Canuckistan......All Your OPEC's 'R Us


Recently returned from a restful respite, Harvey 'O writes a righteous rant in response to the just announced OPEC production cuts:

"....It’s about time our leaders denounce the greedy b*#tards for what they are … cut them off and shut them out of civilized world events, technology and trade exchanges, forums and other gatherings.

At least do SOMETHING to condemn their greed and destructive actions.

Clearly, bowing and scraping .. and holding their hands … has not worked.

All which is very, very hard to argue with.

However, as I noted over at Mr. Oberfeld's, we (ie. British Columbians) would be remiss if we did not realize that the "bowers", "scrapers" and "hand-holders", who are actually locked in a full-frontal embrace with the OPEC Sheiks, now control (what was formerly) our distribution system.



Penny Ballem: Dancing With The Ones That Brung Her


At least that's the story according to Courier columnist and longtime Lotusland CivPol watcher Allen Garr:

(Ballem) may be loyal to those who brought her to this party; she will dance with the guys who brung her, to paraphrase former PM Brian Mulroney. But her most serious challenge will be to engender loyalty in her staff......

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

But if there are staff members who crossed the line to push Dame Judy's agenda, especially those that helped keep it operating below the water line (eg. those that were apportioned pieces of the CFO's pie when Ms. Lo was shuffled off to Buffalo beginning last spring), I would rather see those folks standing on the outside looking in.

Anyway, Mr. Garr also suggests that the behind-the-scenes machinations that were done to put the Ballem hire in place long before Ms. Rogers was quickly and surgically removed from the City Manager's job last week appears to indicate that maybe, just maybe, the Visionistas actually do know what they are doing:

It would appear that our new mayor, Gregor Robertson, has a lot more under his kilt than his opponents have been willing to give him credit for......

{snippety doodle-dandy}

The decision to remove Rogers was discussed by Robertson and his closest advisers long before election day.

Regular readers would know that many of the reasons being mulled over were listed here a couple of weeks ago. A number of the players in the current administration had experiences with Rogers over the past six years since the days of former mayor Larry Campbell. Among other things, her behaviour and the memos she wrote during the civic strike did not score her any points.

This new gang is planning a significant change in style and direction, and there's no faster way to do that than by changing the senior manager. This may be uncommon, but it isn't unanticipated. Look at the Vancouver Charter. Along with the chief financial officer, the city clerk and the city treasurer, she is a direct hire of council.

What allowed for the decision on Rogers to be made so quickly was Ballem telling Vision she was available long before the election results were known.

Both Robertson and his chief of staff Mike Magee met with her before Vancouverites went to the polls. Following the election and before the inauguration, Robertson and Magee nailed down an agreement with Ballem.

Then Magee sat down with Rogers to work out the deal that would see her leave. Her severance, based on a provincially legislated formula, is the equivalent of 18 months in salary and benefits. That's something just south of $500,000 by my figuring.

Of course, the good folks who are still pining for Smilin' Sammy's lost fjords over at the City Caucus group blog-thingy think it's all a sinister plot to be eviliciously efficient in both word and deed. As, of course, does Ms. Always Campaigning.*

Or some such thing.


*And I'll actually give Ms. Anton's bleating some credence if and when His Gregoriousness trys to shut her out of any and all committee assignments like she and hers did to the other side last time around.
FABula's Globe and (nolongerEmpire)Mail story from yesterday, overall, also appears to further support the 'these folks might actually know what they're doing' hypothesis.....


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Threads Have It


I first got hooked on the Bloggodome by hanging around the comment threads at Billmon's original Whiskey Bar.

Needless, to say there's nothing much I like better than a good conversation moderated by a knowledgable, if sometimes irrascible barkeep, that takes no quarter from trolls and/or dolts.

But heckfire, even down here on F-Troop Blog St, a good thread can get cracking once in a blue moon or seven.

Like last week, for example, wherein I segued from a 1959 Pontiac Strat-O-Chief to Johnny Bucyk to Robert Gordon Orr and his plus 124 in 1970/71......

The following is what erupted, for the record, and/or your viewing/reading enjoyment:

That photo put me immediately in mind of a game I was watching between Boston and I think it was New York. Orr had just scored and the announcer said the score in the 3rd period is New York nothing, Orr Four.

Gravatar I have no doubt that Bobby Orr is the most extraordinary player of my lifetime.

I was lucky enough to go to a bunch of Canadiens' games from 1969 to 1976, when my father had access to company tickets. (One pair, the better ones, seven rows up just inside the Canadien's blue line; the others rinkside in the visiting team corner.)

And I always cheered for the visitors, resulting in some abuse from those sitting nearby.

Anyway, watching Orr was an amazing, astonishing experience, like a really good fireworks show or a play that blows you away.

And what was striking was that he was out there, it was as if the Bruins had a man advantage. He created so much space on the ice it changed the game every shift.

Gravatar GaryE--

Great anecdote - and it doesn't surprise me one bit.


Wow - that must have been some time to cheer AGAINST The Canadiens...

I actually remember the flying through the air goal, for real, not the photo, to win the Cup against St. Louis in 1970.


It was on the TeeVee.

Never saw him live, not once, and I lament the missed opportunity to this day....

One thing for sure though - I had a hella-lot of Northland sticks with a single piece of white tape on the blade - even if it was superblade in the schoolyard....


Gravatar Looking back, I feel a bit bad. How could I cheer for the California Golden Seals just because they weren't the Canadiens?

Contrarian is fine, but there have to be limits when the team is wearing white skates.

I do remember one season the Canadiens never lost when I was there - a run of wins and two ties.
And then, of course, there was Game 1, 1972.

Gravatar Another "newbie" Canadian experience for us:

"drf" and myself attended our first professional hockey game tonight at the Pacific Coliseum with 4 other friends. It was great, and the Vancouver Giants were victorious over the Seattle Thunderbirds, 7 to 3.

It definitely won't be our last game - We loved it and the venue is much better than when we saw the Atlanta Flames many years ago. You interested in joining us one evening ? ? ? ?

Gravatar That's actually the ONE 'think' I hear from Donald S. Cherry that I don't think is utter crap.

Orr was the the 'greatest' ever.....

Tanks Ross and you too Paul

Gravatar GW--

Even a blind pig chasing truffles and the ghost of Eddie Shore through the darkened streets Springfield Mass at 3:00am on Christmas Eve gets it right once in awhile....


Sounds like a fine idea, although for me, junior hockey is best played in more claustrophobic barns like the one in, say, Vernon where the crowd is right on top of the ice.


White skates are one thing....but white GOALIE skates?

Which is only one of the reasons I always felt sorry for Gilles Meloche when he was stuck playing for Harry O.


Gravatar Paul W.: Cheering ABC (Anyone But Canadiens) in the high temple of hockey, Le Forum de Montreal? And you lived to tell the tale?

W.E.B.: See you there - the kids are hungry and they got game the millionaire Canucks don't got no more, and the tickets are actually affordable!

RossK: Orr was hands down the greatest rushing defenceman of all time but a sentimental favourite of mine (he hailed from my neck of the woods, as did Georges Vezina and a few other hockey greats) was JC Tremblay of the Canadiens and the Quebec Nordiques. Orr was great, but I think maybe JC was the first of the rushing defencemen who kinda just forgot their place when they got the puck and skated fast enough to make up for any faux pas. He was my youthful inspiration... well OK after the Rocket, of course:
http://www3.nfb.ca/animation/obj...heldon& id=13316

Gravatar I remember Orr well enough too. A young man could do worse than to be inspired by hockey players in those days. Hockey has always been a radio thing for me. Used to listen to the professional WHL games from down the coast on my crystal set. Admired Orr for willingly going toe to toe with Rosaire Paiement when hockey better reflected real life than it does now.

The best ever? Maybe. I choose Howe in that contest every time.

I admired the goalers, face to face with the violent game. Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden.

Gravatar macadavy--

JC is an interesting choice, in much the same way that Johnny Thunders might be worthy of throwing down in front of the John Cumming. However, while he may have been the pioneer, Tremblay was clearly not the virtuoso. And besides, the fact that he was one of the first to wear a 'globe-head' helmut means that I couldn't possibly choose him over Robert Gordon (well that and the fact that his best plus/minus, while very, very good, was only +52).


If I am not mistaken we are of approximately the same vintage ...and if I am right about that it means that neither of us got to see Mr. Hockey in his prime....As such, I would be most interested in your reasons for picking him (particularly given that, while I believe it could'a/maybe have been true of Robert Gordon after a few pops, I can't imagine that GH ever liked Roller Derby).


Gravatar I had to look this up: Gordie Howe is God. I remember his play well enough from the time he was in his thirties. He played both left and right handed as a means to cope with arthritis as his career clicked along. Man was a bucket of guts and magic.

Gravatar Bucket of guts and magic......


I'll take that.

Especially given that he could carry it with either hand.




Oh, and just you're in the know, JJ's is a pretty darned fine local place to go these days if you want to get into one.....A good conversation-based comment thread I mean.


Sometimes A Journo Is Just A Journo...

...And Sometimes He or She Is Something More.

Like a citizen who stands up for his country and his fellow citizens.

Paul Willcocks, risking the wrath of his own kind, tells us why thinks this is true in the case of the Iraqi shoe thrower, journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi:

.....(C)onsider all this from Zaidi's perspective.

Bush instigated an invasion of Iraq based on false claims that the country was hiding weapons of mass destruction and aiding al-Qaeda.

The war was launched with no real planning for what would happen next, and an apparent expectation that the Iraqis would all do a spirited dance of welcome in the streets and then quickly aside their sectarian differences, elect a government and live happily ever after.

Mission Accomplished, as Bush claimed five years ago.

And Iraqis suffered.

About 4.7 million people - more than the population of British Columbia, or one in six Iraqis, are refugees. They have been driven from their homes by fighting, or their homes have simply been destroyed.

At least 100,000 civilians have been killed, more than the Canadian deaths in the First and Second World Wars combined. Some estimates have put the number of deaths much higher, at more than 500,000, when the effects of collapsing health care and other problems are included.....


Zaidi didn't act like a journalist. But he did act on behalf of millions of people in Iraq who have been damaged by the ineptitude, recklessness and arrogance of the Bush administration. He's being cheered in the Mideast.
And he's not being much criticized in the U.S. either. Bush leaves a mess - unresolved conflicts, massive debt, a world economic crisis and a discredited and demoralized country. Dodging a couple of shoes seems a small penance.

And I agree.

So I left the following comment at Mr. Willcocks' place saying so:

Excellent piece Paul. Regardless one's job, sometimes there are bigger issues than professional courtesy at stake, tacit agreements or not.

Especially in this case given that so many Iraqi people have absolutely no way to make their displeasure with the invasion and its terrible, tragic afermath known to the people of the country whose leaders did the invading in their name. And as you made clear, the reasons publicly stated for the invasion are now known, and were likely then known, to be demonstrably false.

Given this, it is worth remembering another journalist, one who was much ridiculed at the time for having the temerity to do her job by asking Mr. Bush to explain the real reason he invaded Iraq.

Scared out of his wits at this viscious line of questioning from an octagenerian named Helen Thomas, Mr. Bush ducked her metaphorical flying shoes by conflating the Taliban with the regime of Saddam Hussein.

And if you don't remember Ms. Thomas' actual questioning of Mr. Bush, you may remember her immortalization (starting @ ~18' 00") by Stephen Colbert during his infamous Press Club speech when an entire flock of surreptitious shoes were sent flying Mr. Bush's way......



The image at the top of the post is a copy of Joseph Wilson's Op-Ed piece in the New York Times in which he concluded that there was no evidence of uranium going from Niger to Saddam Hussein's Iraq (one of the 'false/forged' claims that was used as 'evidence' of an active reconstitution of nuclear weapons programs by Hussein's regime). The Op-Ed was published in June 2003. The scribbles at the top of the page were written by Dick Cheney. They say things like: 'Have they (the CIA, who sent Wilson to Niger on a fact-finding mission) done this sort of thing before?' and 'Or did his wife (Wilson's wife is Valerie Plame) send him on a junket?' Based on this, and all that happened thereafter, it is difficult for any reasonable person who has been paying attention not to conclude that Mr. Cheney et al. went after Ms. Plame in an attempt to discredit/silence her and her husband for stating the truth about the trumped-up 'evidence' that was used to bamboozle the American people into a bogus war against Iraqis such as Mr. al-Zairi who are now reduced to throwing shoes in a vain and toothless attempt to honour their dead.


Conflation For A VSun Nation


"One way or another, I'm gonna find ya' ......I'm gonna get ya', get ya', get ya', get ya!"
Blondie, One Way Or Another, 1979


Just how, exactly, is the Vancouver Sun going to 'get' Gregor Robertson before he even begins?

Why, by conflating a $173 fine for making the mistake of having the wrong transit ticket in his pocket with a billion dollar blitzkrieg boppin' boondoggle of being built by a billious band of bombastic bad boys now trying to bust their way out of hedgie-bag with our booty, of course.

"...Robertson's apparent outrage at the secrecy surrounding the decision to lend $100 million to the developer of the athletes' village for the Olympics also conveniently allowed him to move past his embarrassment at being caught fighting a $173 fine assessed for riding SkyTrain without paying the proper fare..."


That's the ticket Sun Editors.

But, if you don't mind our asking - just what did happen to all those full-page Condohype ads you recently stopped running anyway?


Oh, and did I mention recently that CanWest is doomed? Maybe the time has come for Mr. W. to give Big Frank M* a call to tell him to hurry up and put that new consortium together......
*Not Mahovlich


Investigating The Billion Dollar Boondoggle


Well, it looks like the financial review of Vancouver's Olympic Village Development is going to be the real deal.

With auditors and an eyes-wide-open mandate and everything.

FABula had the story in the Globe yesterday.

Therein, I found the following passage particularly interesting:

"The city's legal team constructed a complex agreement to lease the land to Millennium during the construction period, then lease it back for the duration of the Olympics, then make a final sale to the company after the Games.

It is because of that arrangement that the city originally agreed to provide a loan guarantee of $193-million - the value of the land - for the $750-million construction loan that Millennium later obtained from U.S. hedge fund Fortress Investment Group......"

Why interesting?

Well, because it means that the money we initially pumped into the thing WAS used to help back Millenium's deal with the leverage happy Hedgie Boys from back east.

And if those very same suddenly hard currency-challenged Hedgie Boys are now having serious troubles raising money and meeting payments, as was strongly suggested by the fact that they recently got into big, big trouble with the creditors behind their Whistler 'investment', I'll once again ask the question I've asked a whole bunch of times before.....

What the heckfire was the extra hundred million bucks we, the people of Lotusland, recently pledged to the Hedgie Boy-backed Millenium boondoggle project really for?

Hopefully the 'review' of the deal will give us an answer.

Leak-free, of course.


Given recent developments, one can only wonder if the good Senator from daVinci, he who stood on the front steps of City Hall with Philly 'O a few weeks ago and told us to stop worrying and be happy, has made any attempts to unload one of his two (count 'em two!) boondoggle-based condos yet?


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Should There Be Term Limits For Really Important Stuff....

.....Like, Say, Rock Bands?

This was a query from a listener who called in to 'Sound Opinions' after Greg and Jim lamented the release of yet another sub-par REM album. (mp3Link @55':20'')

The guy who called suggested that maybe ten years should be the limit.

Now, at first I thought it was a bloody stupid idea.

But then I thought about it while riding my bike through the snow (in Lotusland?!) on the way back to the VW (not-so)Microbus that I'd stashed just off campus after I dropped littler e. off at school this morning (Bigger E. stayed home sick).

And by the time I was done scraping the frost off the the inside, yes the 'inside', of the windshield, I reckoned the guy had a point.

After all - would The Clash have been better if it had hung on for another seven or eight, or even two, years?

Or Zeppelin?

Or The Beatles?

And would The Stones actually be something more than a caricature of their former selves if they'd taken a powder right after Exile on Main St. rather of creaking along on their totally manufactured Steel Wheels?

I dunno for sure.

But I do think that maybe Neil was right.

About the burn-out vs. the rust I mean.


And groups like Crazy Horse and E Street don't count, because they're backing bands not Rock Bands in the true "all-in" collaborative sense of the word.