Sunday, June 30, 2019

Let A Thousand, Million Fingers Bloom.


The biggest news from the Excited States* this week may be the thing you heard about leastt.

Because it wasn't the revelation that MBS and Jared Kushner really are (gun) running American mid-east policy, on their own, without a valid security clearance.

And it had nothing to do with Kamala Harris' newly patented 'One Hour De-Bidenizing' strategy.

And it sure as heckfire wasn't the Supreme Court's Citizenship Kaning decision of the Republican's Rosebudian census strategy.

Instead, the really, really, really big news was the week's 'other' decision from the Supremes, brought to US'ians everywhere by the evil machinations of Mitch McConnell.

Essentially, that decision says the federal courts have no business stepping in to stop unconstitutional gerrymandering.

This is a situation so grave that even the Grey Lady, front page, above the fold, had this to say in a piece by Michael Wines:

...Gerrymandered maps were once part of an unspoken agreement between rivals that pressing for political advantage was, within limits, part of the electoral game. But in recent years Republicans, aided by sophisticated mapmaking software, have given themselves near-unbreakable power across the country.

Now, with a green light from the justices, the party has an opportunity to lock in political dominance for the next decade in many of the 22 states where it controls both the legislature and the governor’s office...

The real take home here...

As admirable as it is in theoretical, if not historically normative, terms, Adam Gopnik's nicey-nice, center squishy, both-sides-have-good-points-so-let's-all-give-a-little-to-make-everyone-feel-gooder liberalism cannot deal with yet another hammerheaded suplex like this.


*Tip-O-The-Toque to Granddad Ed...When we moved there for awhile he loved to give us the gears...
Regarding the title and sub-header...Laila explains.


Monday, June 24, 2019

This Is The Modern World.


I mean, is there no longer on single solitary entity that purports to be in the public interest that cannot be willingly co-opted?

And yes, if you are of a certain vintage you should bloody well have an ear worm from that coupling at the top of the post that needs scratching....


Friday, June 21, 2019

Aquilini Overdrive.


Well, well, well, whadd'ya know...

Turns out that those wild Aquilini boys owe some taxes on a previous $140 million West Edmonton property sale that helped finance their subsequent acquisition of the Canuckleheads.

We know this because the judge overseeing the tax court case has ruled that each of the three brothers owes us all money on a capital gain of $11 million, plus, each.

Which, of course, means that the usual sports market shillophants in short pants will likely soon start screeching about how this will almost certainly lead to massive beer price increases down at the arena that Little Arthur lost, not to mention the immediate sale of young Mr. Pettersson to the godless Leafs if something isn't done to ease the brothers' collective pain.

But here's the thing that is most unbelievable about this entire thing, as relayed deep within a buried lede by Jason Proctor of the MoCo:

...According to the judgment, the brothers each initially declared taxable income of $50,572...


I guess it's true that the rich really aren't, but sometimes try to be, just like you and me.

Or some such butchered Fitzgeraldian thing.

Tip O' the Toque to Norm Farrell on his Twittmachine feed.


Friday, June 14, 2019

An Insider Explains The Havoc That The BC Liberals' New Era Wreaked.


The following is from a post I wrote in the deepest, darkest days of GordCo Inc's destruction of British Columbia's social contract back in late 2005:

The central tenet of the neandercons' con is that the private sector can run absolutely everything more efficiently than government.

Thus, the mainstream media-driven mantra that 'privatization is good for everyone.'

Unfortunately, even in specific situations where skeptics like me might, in a weak moment, be willing to meet them halfway, things rarely work out as planned.

Witness CN's recent repeated derailments, or Maximus' repeated problems answering phone calls, or BC Ferries' repeated difficulties keeping propellers turning.

But all of these problems pale in comparison to those that have engulfed the Ministry of Children and Family Development since Mr. Campbell and his minions began to wreak their havoc in 2001.

Sound a little over the top?



Remember Doug Walls?

Remember the ditching of community- based small non-profits for the centralized business model?

Remember how inefficient that turned out to be and how much it cost us?

Remember the eight, maybe nine, figure cutbacks?

Remember the bloviating of former BC Liberal cabinet ministers, one of whom later quit and tried to become Mayor of Vancouver?

Remember the death of the little girl at the hands of a clearly unsuitable relative acting as a foster parent?

Heard about the almost total breakdown of the effectiveness of social workers whose caseloads have skyrocketted?

Sure, we all know all about that.

And now we also know about the tragic case of another little girl's death that was never even investigated because of the total emasculation of child protection oversight initiated by the BC Liberals.

This tragedy is not something that can be waved away with rhetoric. It is political dynamite and a former special investigator who worked with the coroner's office named Kathleen Stephany is not pulling any punches as she comes out swinging with her side of the story.

Of course, as a prelude to the stonewall to come, the savaging of Ms. Stephany has already begun because, rumour has it, she is nothing more than a 'disgruntled former employee'.

Trains jumping the tracks repeatedly because a former crown, now private, corporation is cutting costs in narrow, twisting canyons is one thing, but business model-mediated mistreatment of defenseless children is an act malfeasance that must end.


Unfortunately, nothing really started to change for another eleven years that wasn't driven by the courts. Even the independent child and youth representative, which was first disappeared early in GordCo Inc's 'New Era' but later reinstated in the wake of a scathing report by Ted Hughes that dealt with, among many other undefensible things, the uninvestigated deaths of  hundreds of children in  the New Era's so called 'care'.

But here's the thing....

Those of us that were paying attention back in the day could see that all of those things listed above (and more) were bad, intentional and ideological. In addition, we could also see that they were driven by willful tax cuts, often for the most wealthy among us, that created huge deficits that required massive budget cuts that helped justified privatization.

How do we now know for sure that we were right all along?

Well, it turns out that one of GordCo Inc's longest serving capos, former BC Liberal minister George Abbott has written a political science dissertation telling everyone concerned that this was, indeed the case;

Andrew Macleod has the story in the Tyee.

Here is a bit about how GordCo's New Era approach resulted in the savaging of the Child and Family Services ministry that ultimately made the Hughes investigation necessary:

...“Although the tax cut was undoubtedly popular among many British Columbians, few fully understood the fiscal repercussions that would follow,” Abbott wrote. “Cautionary advice was dismissed and tax cuts quickly translated into a $4.4-billion deficit and deep expenditure reductions for ministries other than Health, Education, and Advanced Education.”

Since the three protected ministries made up 70 per cent of the province’s budget, deep cuts had to be made in the resource and social ministries that make up the rest of provincial spending.

Abbott goes into detail with chapters on what those cuts meant in three ministries: community, Aboriginal and women’s services; human resources; and children and family development.

In the case of the children and families ministry, where the impact was perhaps most dramatic, the focus became on reducing the caseload. That eventually led to news stories about the deaths of children and the failure to review many of those deaths, and a report by Ted Hughes that traced the issue back to the 2001 budget cuts.

In Abbott’s account, the Liberals’ 2001 campaign promises to maintain and improve services were trumped by tax cuts and fiscal commitments.

“When the generous vision for children and families embraced by the New Era document proved incompatible with the twin imperatives of tax cuts in 2001 and a balanced budget by 2004, the vision succumbed to those political imperatives,” he wrote.

“Unfunded cost pressures proved a recurrent challenge across the New Era and demonstrated one point conclusively: demand for services may rise or fall for any number of economic, demographic or social reasons, but concern for a finance minister’s balanced budget will not be among them.”...


There is much that is laudable in Mr. Abbott's attempt to set the record straight, after the fact.


Why did he not do something about the problem at the time or, at the very least, why did he not quit and tell British Columbians what was really going on when it was still possible do something about it?

Here is Mr. Abbott's explanation, again from Mr. McLeod's Tyee piece:

...“I think some people will be surprised that I’m as blunt as I am,” Abbott said in an interview, adding that his account is a cautionary tale for politicians everywhere. “I think governments should be extraordinarily cautious before launching any tax cut that in an adverse economic shift will produce drastic cuts to public programs.”

The tax cut, despite its large impact, was never debated in cabinet, Abbott said. “There wasn’t a lot of opportunity to say anything at the time. It was a done deal on day one.”

He acknowledged some people would ask why there wasn’t more public dissent from him or others inside the government. Abbott said despite his misgivings and belief that a more modest tax cut would have been wiser, he chose to remain optimistic, work hard and hope for the best...

Personally, I'm not entirely convinced that Mr. Abbott's approach in that regard was so laudable.

Especially that 'hope for the best' part given that the demonstrable evidence at the time indicated that, in many cases, the worst was in fact occurring.

Update: Apologies for getting monicker wrong initially.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Why I Quit Hockey Playoff Pools


I consider myself lucky, especially given my obsessive tendencies, that I have not yet been hooked by online sports pools of any kind.

And for that I can personally thank Esa Tikkanen.


Because I quit such pools, cold turkey, after the 1990 Stanley Cup playoffs when I realized that I had no interest in cheering for players I hated just because I had drafted them.

Case in point - the above mentioned, and pictured, Mr. Tikkanen who helped power, and 'agitate', the Gretzkyless Edmonton Oilers to a surprising Cup win that spring.


With that as background, I, for one, was ecstatic when the slewfooted hypoglossal king, Brad Marchand, was goated, and I mean that in the literal rather than acronymized sense of the word, at the end of a long goal sucking shift on the Blues' game seven winning goal last night...

Subheader refers to an on-air exchange between a then still young John McKeachie and Jack Webster when the former had the audacity to show up with a scraggly beard that made him look like the butler's younger beatnik brother on the Munsters....Or some such thing.
And, yes, I'm actually old enough to actually remember the spring night in 1970 when Mr. Orr flew through the air to win the series for the Big Bad Bruins...After the goal my brothers and I went outside and started knocking the stuffing out of each other in the twilight...


Sunday, June 09, 2019

CAPPtung Baby?


So, I couldn't help but wonder if...

...there is any connection between the accelerated drop in Lotuslandian gas prices and the end of the legislative sitting 10 days ago?

If you get my drift.

What's this CAPP/Postmedia connectitudinal thing all about?....Norm Farrell explained it awhile back by channeling the ghost of Rafe Mair.


Tuesday, June 04, 2019

The Sweet Yearn Of Youth.


First of all, Song Exploder.




All right?


One of the things that bugs me about getting old is that it inevitably gets more and more difficult to serendipitously stumble across something that smacks you up the side of the head so hard that it lights a fire that can, if you're lucky, turn into an all consuming obsessive bout with insight, however fleeting.

Like, for example, with songs.

I still remember finding 'Jail Guitar Doors' on that fake 'first' Clash Album (i.e. the 'blue' version in Canada) and slapping it on a cassette so I could play/rewind/play/rewind/play/rewind over and over again while driving the backstreets of southern Vancouver Island in the Kenny Van.

And that was before I even knew that the 'Wayne' of the first line was Mr. Kramer of the MC-5.

In hindsight, I think what really struck me was the evolution of Mr. Jones' vocal layered over top of Strummer's overdrive that would soon become so prominent on that third double album to come.

Which makes sense, maybe, given that the primordial version of the tune concerned was first scaffolded together by Strummer back in his old 101'er days.


I've been enjoying the musical work of a young woman named Sharon van Etten for awhile now.

But I wouldn't say I've been obsessed.

But today, on the way home I put on the Song Exploder episode wherein she explains how she built one of her new tunes, Seventeen, from melodic, sonic and lyrical perspectives.

All this explanation built to such a crescendo that when they finally played the tune in its entirety at the end of the podcast I couldn't wait to listen.

And then, when that was done, I got off the bus immediately so that I could walk the long way home.

And listen again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Until I finally made it back to the subterranean blues room where I madly stitched together a bit of digitally enhanced back story into my fading memory before writing this.


Interestingly, Ms. van Etten's tune is only disguised as a yearning thing...Instead, as she explains, it's really about how the reckoning can lead to closure and more....And it's also about building a wedge to rock out on...And, get this, Michael Cera's Jupiter 4...Go figure.
Don't give a hoot-in-heckfire what the kids (or, at least, the near kids) are up to these days?....Well, check out this edition of SExploder to learn how Lindsay Buckingham conceived of and built one of Fleetwood Mac's biggest hits...You'll be surprised by the level of literalness coupled with introspection and very little cynicism...Seriously.