Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Sometimes A Spreadsheet...

....Is Worth A Thousand (Billion, Trillion) Words.

And what does Oxfam want?


...Oxfam recommends that nations tax wealth at fairer levels, raise rates on personal income and corporate taxes and eliminate tax avoidance by companies and the super-rich...



A return to Eisenhower era tax rates for everyone?


Sunday, November 10, 2019

Mueller, He Didn't Write.


In case you missed it amongst all the sturm, drang and Twittmachine-driven firehosery, last weekend Buzzfeed's Jason Leopold released the first 500 pages of Robert Mueller's back pages he pried out of the USian Justice Dep't by FOIA.

And, surprise!, it would appear that the good Mr. Mueller buried a whole lot of ledes when he wrote his actual report.

One of the bits that was shot deepest into the magma was the relevation, from Paul Manafort's man Friday, Robert Gates, that, far from being a hawkish figurehead who was later derailed only because his Putin-friendly Turkish side-hustle was revealed after he was named the NSA boss, Michael Flynn was actually the Trump campaign's inside Russia man from the get-go.

Will Bunch has that story in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

...Among the highlights are that Gates said that a lot of the pressure to find the purloined (Clinton) emails (in the run-up  to the 2016 election) fell on retired general Michael Flynn — soon to be Trump’s short-lived national security adviser — because Flynn “had the most Russia contacts of anyone on the campaign.”...


Who'd a thunk it?

And, what does this have to do with anything going down now and/or in the coming weeks?....See, Stone, Roger.


Friday, November 08, 2019

Who's Robert Stanfield Now?


In political terms at least, Toronto really is the center of the current CanuckistanMikitaVillian Universe.

TorStar's Tom Walkom explains:

...The Conservatives did gain three more Ontario seats. However, their share of the popular vote in Ontario dropped by two percentage points.

More importantly, they were unable to unseat Liberal incumbents in huge swaths of the so-called 905 belt outside Toronto. In Toronto itself, the Conservatives were completely shut out...

And here's the ironic thing given who benefitted most from Mr. Stanfield's butter fingers, pictured above, in 1974:

...The main reason is that Scheer failed to connect with Red Tories.

Red Tories represent the dominant form of Conservatism in Ontario. They are typically moderate. They are amenable to using government to achieve useful social ends. They generally value co-operation...


...Ontario’s ever so practical Red Tories know from experience that refinery shutdowns and turmoil in the Middle East have more effect on gasoline prices than Ottawa’s carbon tax.

Indeed, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s entire strategy for dealing with climate change could have come from a Red Tory playbook.

It emphasizes balance — in this case, the balance between economic and environmental needs. It suggests action without getting bogged down in the details of what this action will accomplish. It allows people to think they are doing something about the climate problem without requiring them to bear a hefty cost. And it is based not on government fiat but on market pricing...

Go figure.

Of course, when the books are written by the NeoLaurierists of the RedTory Sage, they'll tell us that this was the 2019 plan right from the get-go.
Tip O' The Toque to Owen Gray at Northern Reflections.


Thursday, November 07, 2019

Memory Matters With Measles.


Some folks in Chilliwack are apparently up in arms about public health measures meant to ensure that critical vaccines are administered at rates that help to ensure community efficacy:

Of course, the anti-vax division of that portion of Lotusland's fundamentalist edge was involved in in a pretty significant measles outbreak in the not too distant past (i.e. 2014).

From the CBC at that time:

The largest outbreak of measles in decades was officially declared over Monday with a vast reduction in the number of transmissions and new cases, says Fraser Health's chief medical health officer.

Over a four-week period earlier this spring, the Fraser Health region had over 400 cases of measles with some patients requiring hospitalization.

Dr. Paul Van Buynder, the chief medical health officer, says the outbreak is now over with few new cases being reported.

"The size of, and speed at, which this outbreak spread resulted in more cases of measles than the province has seen in the past 15 years, and was the largest outbreak in almost 30 years," says Dr. Van Buynder.

The outbreak initially began after dozens of cases were reported at a Christian School in Chilliwack with a low vaccination rate. That school was temporarily closed...

From CKWX:

CHILLIWACK (NEWS1130) – The measles outbreak in the Fraser Valley is now into its third week, and while clinics set up across the region to contain it have been busy, there seem to be some problems at ground zero.

Most of the people linked to the Chilliwack school where it started still haven’t been vaccinated.

Medical Health Officer Dr. Lisa Mu says Mt. Cheam Christian School has been very cooperative in working with Fraser Health to reopen the school and in contacting families. But she says a lot of people at the school are not taking the health authority’s advice.

“That community remains largely unvaccinated,” says Mu...



With all that in mind, what's the big deal given that, as one commenter on the Twittmachine thread to the post shown above, said:

Well, given the millions of deaths prevented by measles vaccination (according to the US Center for Disease Control), no:

And then there is the matter of the most recent research according to top-o-the ladder journal Nature:

Measles infections in children can wipe out the immune system’s memory of other illnesses such as influenza, according to a pair of studies1,2. This can leave kids who recover from measles vulnerable to other pathogens that they might have been protected from before their bout with the virus.

The findings, published on 31 October in Science and Science Immunology, come at a time when measles cases are spiking around the world. Globally, there were more measles infections in the first six months of 2019 than in any year since 2006, according to the World Health Organization...

Which just goes to show once again that, in all matters political, societal, scientific or otherwise, memory really does matter.


Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Why Biden's Campaign Had To Be Destroyed.

Simple as that, from the front page of the pixel division of yesterday's New York Times.

Because even after all the stumbles, bumbles and character assassinations, real, or mostly imagined, Biden still wins where it matters most and the others do not.


If someone were paying attention they might even conclude that the public box that Rudy built is just another national security destroying version of the Canuck letter that signalled the beginning of the end of Ed Muskie's campaign that paved the way for the plumber-driven Nixonian landslide in 1972.

Now all we need is for Mr. Giuliani arrange for the BooHoo to get ahold of the ghost of Hunter Thompson's press pass so that he can to ride the new Sunshine Special all the way to Kiev.

Either that, or somebody like, say, Matt Drudge suddenly up and accuses the young Hunter ('B', not 'T') of trafficking in ibogaine.

Or some such thing.


Sunday, November 03, 2019

One More Reason Rob Obvious Will Never Eat Chichester Cathedral


Former Lotuslandian sports reporter Gary Mason is currently the Globe and Mail's 'National Affairs Columnist'.

And, in our opinion at least, Mr. Mason loves to traffic in obviousness while he simultaneously stirs the pot.

To wit, the following, from his latest column kinda/sorta taking Jason Kenney to task for blaming Encana's lack of allegiance to Canada and Canadians on young Mr. Trudeau:

...Mr. Kenney’s ego is out of control. I’m not sure whether he’s politicking for his current job or whether he’s establishing his bona fides to take over as federal Conservative leader. He certainly has become the loudest conservative voice in the country. And whether it’s current leader Andrew Scheer or someone else who ultimately assumes command of the federal party, they should be prepared for a long to-do list the Alberta Premier will have waiting for them...

The thing is, every once in a while Mr. Mason goes a little too far and demonstrates how little he actually knows (and/or understands) about what is really going on.

This time that demonstration comes in the form of the column's final kicker:

...Mr. Kenney needs to understand that deliberately mischaracterizing the decisions oil and gas companies make for his own political gain ultimately doesn’t get him anything other than angrier citizens.

I mean, seriously...

Does Mr. Mason of the Globe really not know that the imported political playbook being used by Mr. Kenney states, right there on page 1 in 144 point type, that his one main goal is to make the citizenry as angry as possible about every possible perceived slight, real or imagined?

Chichester Cathedral, you ask?....the Pythons.


Friday, November 01, 2019

Fraser Institute One....B.C. Public Schools Zero.


The lede of a piece by David Carrigg in PostMedia's Westcoast slightly broadersheeted print organ:

British Columbia has the lowest percentage of students studying in the public school system according to the latest national school enrolment figures.

Put another way, B.C. has the highest percentage of students in private/independent schools compared to other provinces at 13.1 per cent. This is significantly higher than Quebec, the second placed province for private/independent school enrolment, with 9.6 per cent.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick all had private/independent enrolment rates lower than five per cent. The Canadian average was 7.4 per cent.

The Statistics Canada figures are based on the 2017/2018 school year and reported there were 563,244 public elementary and secondary school students in B.C., and 85,000 in the private/independent school system. B.C.’s home school rate was among the lowest in the country at 0.3 per cent. Yukon and Alberta had the highest home school rates at three per cent and 1.8 per cent.

The percentage of students in public school in B.C. has been declining steadily since 1977, when the B.C. government started providing partial funding for approved private/independent schools...

Which is fair enough, as far as it goes.

And good on Mr. Carrigg for getting this story past the hedge fungible super troupers that currently protect the ideological purity of the conglomerate he works for.

But it would appear that the trade off may have been a decision to invoke total radio silence regarding the impact of the Fraser Institute's longterm onslaught on our education system.

Which, backed by actual evidence by collected awhile back by the Press Progress is demonstrably a strategy to discredit public and elevate private schools:

...(A)ccording to the Fraser Institute’s Executive Vice President, the school rankings are actually a tool in the Institute’s “communications agenda,” part of a strategy designed to “convince people” there’s a “problem.”

That’s what Fraser Institute VP Jason Clemens told a 2014 workshop organized by the Atlas Network, a Washington-based umbrella organization for right-wing think tanks and political action groups, funded by Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and other wealthy donors connected to the American Tea Party movement.

Asked about education reform – usually a code word for publicly subsidizing private schools in Tea Party circles – Clemens pointed to the Institute’s school rankings as a good example of how to “set-up your research agenda and your communications agenda.”...



Friday, October 25, 2019

A Country Called Potemkin.


From Astead Herndon and Maggie Astor writing in the NY Times:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — President Trump, speaking to a handpicked audience of supporters at a historically black college here on Friday, belittled the Obama administration’s record on racial issues and claimed that his own administration had helped African-Americans beyond anything “in the history of our country.”...


...Mr. Trump and his allies billed the speech, at Benedict College in Columbia, as a chance for the president to step outside the friendly confines of his supporter base and promote his administration’s record on criminal justice reform and black employment directly to a black audience.

But only about 10 students from Benedict were given tickets to the invitation-only event, which had room for about 300 attendees, said Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin of Columbia. More than half of the seats were reserved for guests and allies of the administration, organizers said.

The ticket distribution was first reported by McClatchy DC.

The friendliness of the audience was clear from the moment Mr. Trump took the stage, when someone shouted, “We love you, Mr. President, we love you!” More than once, the audience broke into chants of “four more years,” to which Mr. Trump responded at one point: “Just don’t say 16 more years. You’ll drive them crazy.”...


Have our good friends to the south reached peak despot yet?


Thursday, October 24, 2019

And So It Begins...'Find Us A Real Tory!'


Yesterday we were ruminating about how the Conservative Reform Alliance Party cannot win as currently constituted because they are a faux facsimile of the former 'Tory' party.

And now, it would appear that some of a conservative bent may have become emboldened enough to start ruminating for a move back toward the (progressive?) center...

Check out the comments at the link.

Personally, I wonder if a rabid base unchained (and constantly prodded by well-funded rebellers and strongists) can be restrained by reason.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Failure.


Harvey O has an interesting take on why the 'Tories', as currently constituted, cannot win:

...What failed the Tories?

I believe, if there’s a lesson in the election results for the Official Opposition party … it’s that MOST Canadians (if you add up the Liberal, NDP, Green or even Bloc popular vote) SUPPORT the fight against climate change, ACCEPT the carbon tax, FAVOUR women’s choice on abortion, UPHOLD respecting LGBTQ rights, and AGREE with foreign aid, welcoming refugees and immigration.

Canada has changed … and, if they want to win, the Tories must as well.

Fair enough, particularly the part about what most Canadians support, accept, favour, uphold and agree with.


For the 'Tories' to change they would have to throw out the grifters, firewallers, and the discourse destroying, Manning-back 'strongists' first so that they could actually become...

What's that term, again?

Oh, ya...



Sunday, October 20, 2019

What If...


A crazy thought popped into my pretty much pundit-free head during an Email back and forth with reader e.g. earlier this evening.

What if, by, say, 11:30 pm Pacific time Monday night, things are so close that JWR holds the balance of power from her perch in Vancouver Granville?


With A Rebel Yell...


Did anyone paying attention not think that this would happen sooner or later?

Today, in Lotusland, Mr. Scheer blamed the chanting on a 'few individuals, 'rebel'lious or otherwise.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Mr. Scheer Takes The Fifth...


Mr. Scheer has taken the fifth on the 'seek and destroy' Bernier affair.

Here he is responding to questions from the former Sushiboy and current CTVBellTSNGlobeCraveRDSVuVenus'NEverythingElse guy, Glen McGregor:

It's almost as if the current leader of the former Conservative Reform Alliance Party has been transported to Fantasy Island to shout 'Boss! Boss! The Rulez!'

Or some such thing.


Scotty On Denman Weighs In...

...On 'Tactical' Voting.

Longtime reader S on D wrote the following in a comment to our recent post on the Green candidate who took a hard look at all the numbers in his Redmonton(ish) riding and suddenly quit and asked his supporters to consider voting for the Dipper:

"...This is yet another occasion to gage leader Elizabeth May’s cavalier position(s) on tactical (“strategic”) ~voting and voting ‘from the heart’ instead of with the head.

She sniped at the NDP for clarifying allegations that its “candidates” had gone Green —which May initially welcomed until the disingenuity of the report was outed. She retorted her party “gave” the NDP leader his by-election win in a riding the Greens wouldn’t have won. The NDP leader had to defend against this smear, not apologize.

It’s May’s conceit that the Greens will hold the balance of power in a minority: the NDP or Bloc are much more likely to win that position.

May insists the BoP will empower her to force a minority government—even a ScheerCon one—to implement proportional representation without the alleged divisiveness of a referendum (after a series of convincing referendum defeats). Can May expect a ScheerCon minority to impose pro-rep on an electorate that’s reiterated its distaste for it—all to advantage a small party like hers? (The day is yet to come when the Cons want pro-rep as much as May; they have to be reduced to fringe party status first.)

In today’s Tyee, May said not to “worry about strategic [sic] voting, or at least decide the strategic [sic] vote is Green,” speaking to voters who want to help “wild salmon, climate policy and reconciliation.” But in ridings like mine that would split the vote, elect the Conservative candidate, and maybe a Conservative government—a curious recommendation for a professed environmentalist given the incumbent NDP MP here has done all those things and more whilst in Ottawa. For May, tactical voting equals ‘bad’ (so ‘bad’ as to recommend pro-rep which, May claims, would preclude such ‘evil’)—unless it tactically helps the Greens, a remarkably flexible ethic).

May is flexible, not only about tactical voting and balance-of-power brokering, but also about which ridings Greens may or may not run in. Nominated candidates may not continue to run if they pre-concede the contest in favour of an environmentalist candidate with better odds of winning (who released Green supporters can assist); they may not run in by-elections where the leader of another party is seeking a seat; and they may not run in ridings where May is courting a stand-offish Independent candidate like Jody Raybold Wilson. But it’s too bad a Green may run in ridings like mine where the risk of Green supporters splitting the vote and electing an environmentally unfriendly party is almost certain without tactical voting.

It’s remarkable is how poorly the Greens have polled despite the environment being the number-one issue. What is holding an overtly environmentalist party back in this circumstance? Perhaps it’s not so much what as who.

I don’t wish the Green Party ill, I just want Green supporters to vote tactically in ridings where the Party has little chance of winning but where Green votes are likely to split the anti-ScheerCon vote; the party simply isn’t strong enough yet to discount this electoral tactic —or to get preachy about tactical voting as if this general election is a referendum on electoral systems. The Greens have made this their centrepiece platform in every election without reward. If electoral-reform was so good to JT and BC’s NDP and Greens, why not for the federal Greens?

May I say to my Green compatriots: whatever happens on Moon’s Day, you might consider making this the last election to use Elizabeth May as leader considering y’all should be doing much, much better than having to affect cavalier conceit about parties, elections, parliaments and voters."

Hard, for me at least, to argue with that.

In our riding here in Lotusland's near Eastern Townships, which apparently has something to do with way of Kings not named Emerson, I sure do hope that progressive leaning folks of a certain bent realize what kind of disastrous split an impulsive vote for the former TeeVee teleprompter regurgitator could lead to given the rapidly rising European SUV quotient around here.
Which reminds me...Might be time to grind out this election's version of 'Stopping Cons In Lotusland'... Trouble is, compared to last time there appears to be a bit of a dearth of riding-specific publicly available polling available (unless I've missed something).


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Strategic Voting Is One Thing, But What About Strategic Campaignery?


David Climenhaga has the story on his truly excellent Alberta-focused blog. Here is his lede:

Michael Kalmanovitch, the Green Party of Canada Candidate in the tight Edmonton-Strathcona race, told an all-candidates’ forum at the riding’s King’s University College yesterday that he is dropping out and asking his supporters to vote strategically for the NDP’s Heather McPherson.

“Based on polling projections, it has become clear that success is unlikely under our first-past-the-post system,” Kalmanovitch said in a news release on his personal website. “The Climate Crisis is too important for people and parties to play politics as usual.”...

The response from the FedGreens is the most succinct, unequivocal thing they have said all campaign:

...Within hours, the Green Party issued a statement in Ottawa announcing Kalmanovitch “has been removed as its candidate in Edmonton Strathcona and is no longer a member of the party.

“The Green Party will have no further comment,” it concluded...

Imagine that!


Monday, October 14, 2019

Separation Of Church And...



(from US State's front page, seriously, Oct 14/19)


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Star Ladders For Sunday.


On Friday afternoon, C. and the whackadoodle picked up Bigger E. from her place before prying out of the lab so that we could all head for the ferry.

And, just for the record, whenever possible we always travel the Spirits when crossing the Salish Sea.

Later that evening we stopped on the other side to gather up littler e. from the basement suite she shares with her friend G. that is located smack-dab in the middle of Elizabeth May Ville on the southern-most tip of Vancouver Island.

After that we headed west, to Colwood, so that we could all spend Thanksgiving weekend with Grandpops.

A weekend that is, as of this writing on Sunday afternoon, still ongoing.



As you may have gathered from the babble above, the two E.'s both have places of their own now.

Luckily, they still like to do (at least some things) with C. and me.

Kids these days...

Image at the top of the post is the E's doing two of the things they still like to do almost the most in downtown Lotusland awhile back.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Keef Report...Who's Answering Now?

Sometimes, when it comes to the insider access POV's of the Legislative Gallery's Glimmer Twins all you have to do is wait a couple of weeks to see the worm fully turn.

To wit, Mr. Shaw's recent Postmedia Mama Mia calorie-free Cuppa piece:

The legislature’s former sergeant-at-arms cannot be disciplined for a finding of discreditable conduct in a new report because he abruptly retired last week.

The NDP government house leader, Mike Farnworth, said there’s no ability to recover any salary, retirement, vacation or other benefits given to Gary Lenz when he was sergeant-at-arms. Lenz is accused in a new report of lying about his knowledge of missing liquor at the legislature and failing to investigate the incident...


...(Former clerk of the legislature Craig) James resigned in May. He was found to have committed workplace misconduct in an investigation by former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverley McLachlin.

Lenz was cleared by McLachlin and asked for his job back.

But Plecas launched the LePard probe instead. LePard concluded Lenz had lied to McLachlin over what he knew about $8,000 in missing liquor that James had loaded into his own pickup truck at the legislature in 2013...

Imagine that!

Again, Mr. Plecas gave his side of the story to Bob Mackin while those with all the glimmers, not to mention the smirks and smarm, were smacking the speaker down over his travel budget.


Saturday, October 05, 2019

The Grey Lady Buries The Inverted Pyramid Lede By...

...Re-Inverting It.


Kenneth Vogel and Michael Schmidt wrote a piece that was published, above the fold, on the front page of yesterday's dead tree version of the New York Times.

The headline over top the thing was 'U.S. Envoys Drafted Statement Binding Kiev To Inquiries'.

The first paragraph went like this:

Two of President Trump’s top envoys to Ukraine worked on a statement for the country’s new president in August that would have committed Ukraine to pursuing investigations sought by Mr. Trump into his political rivals, according to three people briefed on the effort and documents released Thursday night...

And if you wanted to know something about the validity of the 'investigations' being sought by Mr. Trump you had to wait for the 21st paragraph that appeared on pg 21 after the jump:

...Mr. Trump’s regular suggestions that Ukraine, rather than Russia, was responsible for the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee have been thoroughly debunked. While some Ukrainian officials expressed opposition to Mr. Trump in 2016, claims by Mr. Trump and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, that documents released in Ukraine that year implicating Mr. Manafort in financial fraud were falsified or doctored have not been substantiated...

Which is as straightforward and explicit as it should be.

So good on Mess'rs Vogel and Schmidt for getting it in there.


When the facts that matter are buried so deep in the story that 98.3% of readers have already moved on to the latest slop from David Brooks on the same day's NYT OpEd page, is it any wonder that those not paying very close attention have no idea what's really going on here?

Real question, of course, is...Who positioned 21on 21, the authors or the editors?


Thursday, October 03, 2019

Elections BC will not be making further comment on this issue...


From Elections BC:

VICTORIA (Oct 1) – Elections BC’s review of an issue brought forward by Kelowna West MLA Ben Stewart is complete. The review found that no provisions of the Election Act were violated.

MLA Stewart wrote Chief Electoral Officer Anton Boegman on August 1, 2019, to advise him of the issue. It involved a political contribution to the BC Liberal Party that was reimbursed to the contributor by the party. The review found no evidence that the political contribution and reimbursement were made in contravention of theElection Act.

Elections BC now considers this matter closed. To protect the privacy of the individuals involved, Elections BC will not be making further comment on this issue.

Mr. Mackin has more:

...Kelowna West MLA Ben Stewart is back in the BC Liberal caucus after a two-month absence.

He also broke his silence Oct. 1 and talked to theBreaker.news, but refused to discuss the reasons for the Elections BC investigation that eventually cleared him...


...“I’ve subjected myself to the scrutiny of Elections BC, you can ask them,” Stewart said in an interview...

Apparently, not.

Because, according to Elections BC, you most definitely cannot ask them.


Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Mr. Trump's Most Excellent Ukrainian Adventure...What's Rudy Got To With It?


Turns out it all goes back to Mr. Manafort frolicking with the oligarchs.

WNYC's 'Trump, Inc.' has the story:

Once you listen you will fully understand why they always smear those they fear most.



Saturday, September 21, 2019

Breaking Mr. Plecas' Side Of The Story.


Mr. Mackin has it...


Monday, September 02, 2019

With A Rebel Yelp.


Apparently, Mr. Scheer is mad as hell-in-a-handbasket and he's not going to take it anymore:

The thing is...

This, as Mr. Scheer's faux outrage slyly points out for plausible non-denial denial purposes (if needed), is completely contrived.


Because this came up back in June of this year and it was shot down, squarely, by no friend of post-modern Laurierism, John Ivison in the National Post:

...On Monday several U.K. newspapers reported that ....(a convicted child killer and pedophile)... is preparing for a new life in either Canada, New Zealand or Australia, and that the cost and complication of creating new identities for the child killer was a factor in the decision to relocate him abroad.

Privacy regulations prevent the Canadian government from commenting on the specific case but a statement issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said that people who have been found to have committed a crime elsewhere may not be admissible to Canada.

Privately, an official made clear that one of Britain’s most reviled criminals is not coming to Canada. “The reality is he (Venables) won’t get into the country. At the end of the day, protecting citizens of our country is the foremost thing. He represents a threat to national security,” said the official.

A formal application has not been received by the government but the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act stipulates that foreign nationals are inadmissible in cases of serious criminality...


Why would Mr. Scheer knowingly seize upon something he knows is reverse-effluxed codswallop flung from the prow of the promedia garbage scow known as the Daily Mail that is, in this case at least, manufactured from the brain dead bleatings of a notorious gossip schooner called the Daily Star?

Because, in my opinion at least, it would appear that the fine folks running Mr. Scheer's campaign have made the carefully considered calculation that the time has come to go full metal Bannon on Canadians.

This is not a good thing from the minds behind the man who has a decent chance of actually becoming our next prime minister.

And, regarding the header....Look who went first.


Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Wonder Of The Ones.


When I'm playing with the old guys we like to cover one hit wonders.

Sometimes sans the hits, but just about always straight ahead, four-on-the-floor type stuff.

Or, when needed, punked up and, preferably, ska-ified.

All of which means it can be tough to get them to do anything even slightly folk-tinged but somehow I managed to get them to agree to do that old Violent Femmes tune 'Blister In The Sun'.


A couple of weeks ago after catching a fantastic live performance on the KEXP live session by a group of young kids who call themselves 'Boy Genius', I went down the rabbit hole listening to and checking out the backstory of the budding super group's various members.

And I came across the following in an LA Times profile of Phoebe Bridgers from a couple of years ago:

...In February she heads out on a headlining U.S. tour — a definite step up from the opening slots she played over the last couple of years with the likes of the War on Drugs and the Violent Femmes.

The latter trek was especially rough, she admits.

“They were so cool, but I forgot they have a radio hit,” she says, referring to the folk-punk trio’s early-’80s staple “Blister in the Sun.”

“That’s what drunk moms in Montana came to hear, and they don’t care at all about who’s on before — or about any other Violent Femmes songs, for that matter.”...

As for my own stripped-downiest version of the tune in question?

Well, I'm not sure Drunk Mom's anywhere, including those who hail from in Missoula in Big Sky country, would be clamouring for, or even requesting, it.

But what the heckfire!

Here goes....


Friday, August 30, 2019

What's In A Number?


From the good folks at the MoCo...


This morning when I rode across town towards the place where I work out on the pointy bit of grey at the far western edge of Lotusland I noticed that regular had been jacked to $1.52 per litre at the two stations at the corner of Oak and King Edward.

Then, when I rode back while chasing the returning crows early this evening the same stations were selling the same product for $1.39.

Explain that!


Thursday, August 29, 2019

All Their Bathtubs 'R Them.


"My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years," he says, "to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."


The BC Liberal Party seems to think they might get some traction with their latest smear if they appeal to their better angels.....errrr....influencers:

But here's the thing.

Even the Dean of the Legislative Press Gallery, the VSun's Mr. Vaughn Palmer, was able to call this one, straight-up, with no cynical 'both-sides' shading three years ago:

...(The BC Liberal government) ordered ICBC to begin accumulating substantial capital reserves as part of the effort to “level the playing field” with private insurers. But by late in the decade the reserves had generated huge surpluses, raising a debate about what to do with the money.

The ICBC board recommended giving it back to the customers. The surplus existed because they’d paid, or rather overpaid, for their auto insurance. So the board said the money should be returned in a one-time rebate, pro-rated to folks with the best driving records.

The Liberals greeted this recommendation with only slightly less contempt than if the board had suggested flushing the cash down the toilet in the executive suite.

Give the money back? To the public? Were they nuts?

Enter the ICBC dividend, accounting euphemism for the cabinet orders that siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars out of the ICBC accounts and deposited them into the provincial treasury. At a time of economic retrenchment, the money helped pay for programs and reduce the operating deficit.

Then came another money transfer, no less politically expedient than the first, which saw funds diverted from the optional reserves to hold down rates for basic insurance. The combined tab for these two accounting dodges is $2.6 billion and counting...


One can only wonder...

If this one fails, will the braintrust backing the good Mr. Wilkinson decide to blame Joy McPhail for facilitating the sale of BC Rail by failing to file an FOI request?


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Are Green Eggs Now Ham?

...Or, perhaps, artificially orange-coloured spam?

Strange days indeed.

In this case, today's earworm is actually apropos of....Everything.


Monday, August 26, 2019

Extremism Is Our True (Non-Microbial) Scourge.


There is a legislative movement afoot in California to close a loophole that allows folks to shield their kids from public school vaccinations due to dubious medical exemptions.

Given that that state currently has a reality-based assembly and senate the bill will soon likely end up on the governor's desk for signing.

All of which has the more extreme anti-vaccination folks whipped into a frenzy.

Hannah Wiley has that story in the Sacramento Bee:

...Now, as lawmakers head into the final weeks of this year’s legislative session, anti-vaccine advocates are turning to an out-of-state political operative known for provocative campaigns in a last-ditch effort to undermine a bill that Gov. Gavin Newsom has already indicated he’d sign.

The consultant, Jonathan Lockwood of Oregon, charges that California leaders are ready to “sacrifice children” by compelling more kids to get vaccines through Senate Bill 276.

“Any lawmaker who votes yes on SB 276 will have blood on their hands. It’s up to each of them to decide if they will be accessories to the real human cost of this lethal legislation,” wrote Lockwood. “How much is a life worth? Will lawmakers sacrifice children for political purposes or will they acknowledge and act according to the truth?...


...“I was instrumental in defeating the bill as a spokesperson in the Capitol by day, and strategist by night,” Lockwood said.

The vaccine debate in California has also been among the most heated this year. Hundreds of people have packed committee hearings on the bill.

It inspired Twitter battles between actor Rob Schneider and SB 276 co-author Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and prompted celebrity activism on both sides of the aisle.

Bricks were mailed to lawmakers on committees considering the measure, including Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento. His office said about 40 bricks carried messages like “Vote No on SB 276.”

“Legislation should not be shaped by people bullying and intimidating, or threatening your representative’s life and family,” argued (state senator Richard) Pan, who said he’s received death threats. “We can have disagreements, that’s fine. How do we resolve that? Through the political process defined by our constitution and the laws we created.”...

And that has surgeon/scientist 'Orac', who, in my opinion, writes an excellent blog that pushes back against quackery and pseudoscience, worried:

...I can’t help but point out that I’m more worried this time. I’ve discussed the violent rhetoric of the antivaccine movement on more than one occasion. Now, death threats are nothing new. Paul Offit, for instance, has been getting them for a long time. I’ve even gotten the occasional one. I do fell, however, that it’s getting worse. When you have people out their like Del Bigtree saying “now’s the time” for guns and exhorting antivaxers to fight and die for freedom and antivaxers cosplaying a violent fictional terrorist, you have to wonder whether it’s a matter of when, not if, an antivaxer acts on the increasingly intense rhetoric. Sure, the leaders turning up the heat on the rhetoric are never going to actually take up arms, but antivaxers listening to them might...

Very worrisome, indeed.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Is There Anything More Melancholy Than...


...An Em chord played off the Key of C in the dying, end of summer red sky night?

Hit me like a ton of bricks as I was going through the progression for this tune while walking down the alley with the Whackadoodle before bedtime:

The Whackadoodle turned 11 this summer and she's in tough with a congenital heart valve condition that has worsened over the last six months or so...It's causing fluid to back up in her lungs. She still likes to run the beach on Saturday mornings though...Just takes her most of the rest of the weekend to recover...


Cover Thee...

Putting these here because a few mobile readers who can't see the sidebar asked...


Friday, August 23, 2019

HST Friday...Requiem For A Koch Bro.


From the latest in a long line of posts on the subject of climate at the very fine Fraser Institute website by Patrick Murphy dated August 16, 2019:

...(A)s Canada’s political parties rollout their climate plans for the federal election in October, I’m here to report to Canadians that many of the extreme policy ideas you’re hearing will do more harm than the climate change they are meant to prevent.

For example, consider the popular idea of limiting cumulative global warming to (at most) two degrees Celsius or (if possible) 1.5 degrees Celsius. These targets have become so mainstream that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a special report last fall advising governments on various policies that could give humanity a shot at hitting the 1.5 degree target.

But according to the most reputable work on the topic, achieving that target would cause far more harm than benefit...


One of the world's most wealthy and vocal climate change deniers, Mr. David Koch, died today.

Ryan Cooper explains how hard Mr. Koch worked to get the great unwashed to ignore the climate thing in The Week:

David Koch, one of the two infamous billionaire Koch brothers, died Friday at the age of 79. The Wall Street Journal is quick to point out that, in addition funding a vast conservative political network, Koch gave about $1.3 billion of his nearly-$60 billion fortune to various philanthropies. But what Koch may ultimately be most remembered for is helping to seed the climate-change denial movement in the 1990s. Indeed, David Koch was one of the most powerful people in the world over the last three or so decades, and he did his level best to stymie any effort to stop the biggest threat to human society.

The Kochs' place in funding climate denial is covered well in the recent book Kochland by Christopher Leonard. They were big funders of a key 1991 Cato Institute conference, which mobilized furiously after President George H.W. Bush announced he would support a climate change treaty. They went on to spend gargantuan sums boosting up the handful of credentialed scientists who deny climate change, funding climate-denying "think tanks" and publications, donating to climate-denying politicians (and refusing money to those who don't), and so on...

And it turns out that Mr. Koch and his brother did not just give money to American think tanks of a certain bent.

Beth Hong had that story in the (then) Vancouver Observer way back in 2012:

"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..."

And, as of this year, DeSmog Blog and Greenpeace estimate that the new number is approaching $1.5 million.


Why, exactly, do the super wealthy go out of their way to fund super fine institutes that, in my opinion, often do their level best to get the serfs to ignore reality such that said serfs can then be convinced to act in their own worst interests?


I think the good Docktor may have figured out the mind state of such folks and their relationship to the serfs who live 'beneath them' while travelling through South America a long, long time ago, in 1963.

Back then Hunter Thompson toiled not for Jann Wenner but instead for a very different National Observer than the one we know today:

"...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'...


Weirdly, the version of the 'National Observer' that the young Mr. Thompson worked for did/does not employ Sandy Garossino....Ironically, HST's NatO was owned by the then parent company of the now Koch friendly Wall Street Journal, the Dow Jones & Company...Imagine that!
Back when I was a young trouble(ish) maker, my friends and I invented a slightly gonzoish pursuit called 'punk golf'. The goal was not to get the ball in the hole with the fewest number of strokes. Instead, the idea was to get it the thing down in the least amount of time... There was no waiting around for the guy who was away to hit first...It was all running, swinging and ducking for cover all of which made for a whole lot of divot making...For the record, we never played it on the declasse public course where we were junior members for 50 bucks a year if you get my drift...And, ya, you read that $50 number right...
Photo at the top of the post is from a most entertaining piece by Terry McDonnell in Esquire about playing golf with Thompson and George Plimpton, on acid, in Aspen in the year that Orwell broke...


Thursday, August 22, 2019

This Is The (Way) The Modern World (Should Work)!



I know that the the latest outbreak of Ebola is a very bad and scary thing for all those affected and for all those trying to help.

Here is the lede of a piece published earlier this week in the online, Boston Globe adjacent, biomedical mass media journal StatNews by Joel Breman:

In 1976, a mysterious viral disease swept through the isolated forest village of Yambuku in northern Zaire. I was part of the international team that investigated the outbreak, identified the virus causing it, and named it after the nearby Ebola River. The deadliness of the disease — of the 318 people infected with the virus, 280 died — captured the world’s attention, briefly.

Twenty years later, Zaire came apart at the seams, was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and became the theater of operations for two wars involving nine countries and more than two dozen militias. Those conflicts, centered at the eastern end of DRC, killed more than 5 million people but barely registered with the rest of the world. Armed militias continue to hold violent reign there.

Last year, in the middle of the former war zone, Ebola re-emerged, as it has 25 other times in sub-Saharan Africa. In this latest outbreak, 2,850 people have been infected with the virus to date and nearly 1,900 have died — the second-worst Ebola epidemic on record — and we are not close to containing it, despite the best efforts of a thousand health professionals on the ground...


Reading that, and seeing and hearing all about it on the electronic proMedia, you may have missed the news about the on-the-ground, multi-pronged clinical trial that has been going on during this latest outbreak.

The following is from a report in the straight science journal Nature by Amy Maxmen published just one month ago:

...The race to develop treatments for Ebola has accelerated since the largest epidemic in history devastated West Africa between 2014 and 2016. Scientists responding to the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have enrolled more than 500 participants in an unprecedented study of experimental drugs, vaccinated nearly 170,000 people, and sequenced the genomes of more than 270 Ebola samples collected from the sick.

“This outbreak is clearly a milestone for rigorous, good research,” says David Heymann, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “We will get definitive answers.”...


...Working in a conflict zone has forced researchers to adapt and persevere to an extraordinary degree. They have learnt how to conduct rigorous studies in areas where killings, abductions and arson are commonplace, and where Ebola responders have come under repeated attack. Although biomedical advances alone cannot defeat Ebola, scientists studying this outbreak remain hopeful that their growing knowledge will help end it — and limit those to come.

“It is not easy,” says Jean Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, a microbiologist who helped to discover Ebola and now directs the National Institute for Biomedical Research (INRB) in Kinshasa. “You are doing this and people are shooting.”

He and other Congolese researchers are also working to ensure that any advances will benefit their homeland, which has experienced more Ebola outbreaks than any other. “It is very important to have the research done here because at the end of the day, Ebola is our problem,” says Sabue Mulangu, an infectious-disease researcher at the INRB...

Which, in and of itself is a good thing, because this trial is being done the right way with responsible NGO's, first world researchers, and Congolese folks doing the real, hard slogging all working together for a common cause.

And then last week there was a report that the trial was being re-tooled in midstream for the very, best of reasons.

Kai Kupfershmidt had the story in the other big straight science journal Science:

A trial of four experimental Ebola treatments carried out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been stopped early after two of them showed strong signs of being able to save patients’ lives. The preliminary results were reported this morning by Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland, one of the partners in the study. The two treatments will now be made widely available and could help end the yearlong outbreak in the DRC, which has already killed more than 1800 people, scientists say...


...In the 41% of trial participants who sought treatment early after infection and had lower levels of Ebola virus in their blood, the two new treatments had astonishing success: Mortality plummeted to 6% in the Regeneron antibody group and to 11% with mAb114. (With ZMapp and remdesivir, mortality rates in people with low viral load were 24% and 33%, respectively.)...

This is not an outright cure as infected folks with high viral loads still succumbed at rates of 60% after they received one of the two treatments, which consist of antibodies that bind to the outer coat of the virus. However, the news here is really and truly promising because now, for the first time viable and efficacious treatment strategies are emerging that will give folks and powerful incentive to seek out medical help as early as possible. In addition, early results with a larger scale vaccine trial that is going at the same time are also promising:

...A separate study taking place in the DRC has shown that Merck’s Ebola vaccine, which has been given to 180,000 people in the current epidemic, also powerfully reduces mortality, even when it fails to prevent infection...

This really is the way the modern world should (and can) work.

Non-parenthetic earworm in the post title need scratching?....This.


Monday, August 19, 2019

Partisans Against Biker Molls.


The lede of 'that' story from Fred Lum of the Canadian Press:

A pre-election chill has descended over some environment charities after Elections Canada warned them that discussing the dangers of climate change during the coming federal campaign could be deemed partisan activity.

An Elections Canada official warned groups in a training session earlier this summer that because Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada, has expressed doubts about the legitimacy of climate change, any group that promotes it as real or an emergency could be considered partisan, said Tim Gray, executive director of the advocacy group Environmental Defence...


Does that mean the Pacific Gazette will be in trouble with Elections Canada if it points out that leaving state secrets in biker moll apartments is not necessarily good policy?

The curtain came down yesterday (May 27, 2008) on the brief and embattled cabinet career of Canada's Foreign Minister after a scandal involving his relationship with a woman who was once linked to criminal biker gangs.

The gaffe-prone Maxime Bernier – who promised to send Burma aid on a plane that does not exist and was sworn in with the so-called bikers' moll on his arm –will likely be remembered for longer than he served as his exit cast fresh doubts on the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The resignation came only hours before a television interview with the Julie Couillard, 38, was due to be broadcast. Her life and loves have become a staple for the Canadian press as they have raked over her supposed live-in mobster lover who was murdered, her subsequent marriage to a biker and her latest relationship to the man who became Canada's Foreign Minister...


...Mr Bernier was forced to walk the plank just before Ms Couillard revealed on television she had discovered secret Nato documents in her apartment after one of the minister's visits. Within 24 hours of the classified documents being returned, Mr Bernier was out of a job...


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Edward Lewis, Hollywood Blacklist Breaker, 1919-2019.


Like a lot of kids growing up in the seventies, I got hooked on Dalton Trumbo's 'Johnny Got His Gun', the book not the movie, in my early teens.

And because of that I knew that Trumbo had been blacklisted as one of the Hollywood Ten, which caused great harm to his real moneymaker, screenwriting, for more than a decade.

In fact, because Trumbo refused to turn rat and name names to a congressional witch hunt called the 'House Un-American Activities Committee, he was convicted of contempt of Congress and spent almost a year in a federal penitentiary in 1950 before fleeing to Mexico where he wrote the scripts for a series of B-Movies under an assumed name.

I also knew that the blacklist broke in 1960 when Trumbo was given credit for writing the movie adaptation of the blockbuster 'Spartacus', starring Kirk Douglas.

What I didn't know was that it was a much lesser known fellow, a producer named Edward Lewis, who engaged Trumbo to write the screenplay, on the sly, in his bathtub.

Then, once Universal Pictures had sunken huge costs into the the film and there was no going back, Mr. Lewis forced the studio to credit Mr. Trumbo as the writer.

Mr. Lewis died this week at the age of 99.

Sam Roberts has an excellent obituary up at the NY Times.

It ends thusly:

...In 1959, Trumbo presented Mr. Lewis with an autographed copy of his book, “Johnny Got His Gun.” It was inscribed: “To Eddie Lewis — who risked his name to help a man who’d lost his name.”

That's some kicker, eh?

Here's something I didn't know...The entire blacklist thing was originally invented by a tabloid publisher named William Wilkerson who ran the Hollywood Reporter....Which just goes to show that, while these are interesting times were are currently living in, they are also tinged with a shade of the deja vu.


Friday, August 16, 2019

The Keef Report...Mackin Slammed.


First, the late night, in-depth dog park report from the Keef:

Next, the later night slammin':

No word yet regarding Mr. Mackin's willingness to wear the honorary 'Idiot Blogger' crown for a day...


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Salmon Farming...The Fauxification Of The Precautionary Principle.


Alexandra Morton has been doing a lot of heavy lifting to determine whether or not ocean-based salmon farming is a danger to wild fish stocks.

Here are excerpts from her piece from earlier this week in the Georgia Straight:

...In 2011, Creative Salmon knocked on Dr. Kristi Miller’s door at the DFO Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo. They needed help figuring out why the Chinook salmon in their farms were turning yellow and dying. Miller is head of the DFO Molecular Genetics Laboratory in Nanaimo.

Miller detected piscine orthoreovirus, or PRV, a new virus discovered only a few months earlier, as the cause of heart and skeletal muscle inflammation—HSMI—a disease spreading unchecked through the salmon farming industry in Norway...


...In 2017, we reported that 94 percent of farm salmon in markets are infected and that the virus has spread coastwide. But it is significantly more prevalent in wild salmon caught near salmon farms...


As Ms. Morton's piece points out, there is a raging debate about whether this specific virus poses a significant threat to wild fish. Ms. Morton feels that she and the folks she is working with have the evidence to indicate that this is, indeed, the case. As I am not an expert, I won't weigh in on the matter except to say that the calls for the DFO to engage in more research do not appear unreasonable.

However, the fact that the virus has been passed from farmed fish to wild fish in the waters of British Columbia indicates that other things can be passed between the two groups as well.

Which means, in my opinion, and in the opinion of at least one fish farming company, that there is cause for concern.

And how do we know that at least one farming company is concerned?

Well, they've gone out of their way to make better pens.

David Gordon Koch had that story in the Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News a few months ago:

Cermaq, a major aquaculture company, is hailing an experimental “closed containment” facility in Norwegian waters as a safer mode of fish farming, saying that it reduces interactions with the marine habitat.

A similar system could be introduced to Canadian waters by next year, according to David Kiemele, managing director for Cermaq Canada...


...He said that a barrier surrounding the net “limits potential interactions between our fish and the environment outside,” although he acknowledged that the experimental facility isn’t completely closed.

Seawater is pumped through the system from a depth of about 13 metres, he said.

“When you’re talking about parasites like sea lice and whatnot, very rarely do you find them down that deep in the water column,” Kiemele said...


'Sea lice and whatnot' are very rare down there according to Mr. Kiemele.

Don't know about you, but that does not give me the greatest of confidence that cross-contamination of, say whatnotish-type viruses will be eliminated.

Regardless, given their obvious concern about trying to stop cross-contamination why has the company  not just gone all the way and moved it's pens to tanks on land?

...Asked why the experimental pens are ocean-based – industry critics have called for fish farms to be removed from the sea entirely – Kiemele said that fish farming would require “a large amount of land” that could be used for other activities, including agriculture.

He also said that a land-based facility would consume large amounts of water and energy for pumping.

“From a practical and economical sense, at the moment it just doesn’t stack up,” he said, adding that the company could also continue to use its ocean-based leases this way...


The stacking of the math is the problem.

Now we get it.