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April 29, 2005

Set blog to 'neglected'

My wife has temporarily relocated to Montreal this weekend, so I'm on full-time toddler duty. The blog will be put on hold during that time so that I don't go bananas. (Nothing worse than having all these things you want to say but no time to say them. Better to not even try.) I'll leave with a picture and a thought. The picture:

The thought: Don't you just hate taxes? We're still in shock here over this year's brutal bloodletting. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Oh well, I'm sure the government knows better how to spend the money than we do...

April 28, 2005

A new galaxy in the blogoverse

You may have heard that Arianna Huffington is creating a 'super-blog' for various celebrities to sound off on the important issues of the day. It sounds pretty hilarious to me. David Carr at Samizdata is betting it'll be a 'target rich environment'.

Waiting for its launch on May 9th is going to be difficult, but luckily there's a brief preview available:

A New Kind of Communication, posted by "Huff" on Mon May 9 at 09:07 PDT
Instant, interactive, intelligent, informed; reaching out across the political spectrum. What? Did everybody forget their passwords already?

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I can't think of anything to say, posted by G Paltrow on Mon May 9 at 09:21 PDT
Arianna: its rlly uncool whn my cell rings during pilates. i said id post whn & if i had something to say. rt now im just too busy. stop bugging me.

Gwynniex

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Another Cutting Edge Contribution, posted by "Huff" on Mon May 9 at 09:23 PDT
Cantankerous, unafraid and always outspoken, that's Gwyneth (Paltrow) to a tee! You can expect to be hearing a lot more from her on Huffingtonpost.com, on a whole variety of subjects!

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Does anyone know how to get red wine stains out of a wool carpet? posted by NORMAN MAILER on Mon May 9 at 10:14 PDT
I'm screwed if my wife sees this. I'm not even supposed to drink in that room. I've been scrubbing but that just seems to spread the stain around. A quick answer would be most appreciated.

April 27, 2005

A medical opinion on the PM's brain

I read in the paper earlier today that the Wire Brush has been put on the South Beach Diet by his wife. Sheesh! I thought, more reasons to feel contempt for Martin. First, he's fallen for a stupid fad diet, and second, he's under the thumb of his wife. (I'm continually amazed at how my opinion of him still manages to drop, day after day. How low can he go?)

But this diet may be affecting more than just the already low opinions of him from chauvinistic junk-science critics. He may be impairing his ability to think:

"Cutting carbohydrates means he's also cutting his cognitive functions," said Beth Mansfield, a registered dietician and fitness specialist with Peak Performance of Ottawa.

"That can't help a man like the prime minister think straight."

This would explain a lot...

(via Nealenews)

How are those reforms going, Kofi?

Zimbabwe back on U.N. rights commission, U.S. protests

UNITED NATIONS – Zimbabwe was re-elected to the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Commission Wednesday, prompting immediate protests from the United States and other nations...

What election campaign?

Spending announcements announced today:

Too expensive to hold an election?

$ 250,000,000 is a pittance compared to the money the Wire Brush is throwing around these days:

$ 1,101,097,492.00 has been announced since April 21, 2005 by various Government departments.
That's just as of April 25th. Yesterday of course he upped that by another $4,600,000,000. (!!!) Can you imagine how many bales of cash he can push out the window of his helicopter if an election is allowed to wait until next Spring? An election now is money very well spent...

Not too big to fly...

The Airbus A380 has taken off on its maiden flight in Toulouse today. It's truly amazing that something that huge can actually fly. I'm looking forward to my first ride on it (though it's probably going to be a while.) Congratulations to the engineers that pulled it off, and good luck to the business managers that have to find a way to make it profitable...

April 26, 2005

Spineless, weak, desperate, pathetic

Words to describe our Prime Minister. Caving to grinning Jack Layton is possibly the most craven and stupid act by the leader of our country since Confederation. Craven, because it betrays an absolutely limitless fear of losing power. He's so afraid of meeting the electorate that he's willing to publicly prostrate himself to this opportunistic hack. Stupid because Chuck Cadman has already announced he won't back the government, so even with the NDP Martin can't prevent a non-confidence motion.

Andrew Coyne is shaking his head -- and his readers are joining him.

Wait for the authority figure

A new poll says Canadians want to wait until Judge Gomery releases his report before deciding whether the Liberals should be turfed out of office. Are they prudent, serious individuals who want to hear the whole truth before they cast their vote? Or are they indecisive ditherers who want someone to make their decision for them? Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure it's the latter.

The evidence is stacked to the roof showing the guilt of the Liberal party. Sure, none of it has been 'proven' in a court of law, but the real important question this scandal raises is who the government of the country should be, not who's going to jail. If one tenth of the allegations are true, this party should not have their slippery paws on the levers of power.

If news of the sponsorship scandal came out through investigative reporting, I have no doubt that Canadians would be clamouring for an election to flush the House of Commons clean; but because there's an important personage in an impressive robe assigned to the case, nobody wants to act. Canadians show a truly frightening deference to authority sometimes. This is our country, and it's up to us to keep the politicians honest. It's not a job for the police, or the judges, or the media. It's our job, and if we contract it out we've no one but ourselves to blame for the poor results.

Turning the page

The Economist has produced a pretty good article on the coming demise of the mainstream media as we know it, and what will replace it:

The tone in these new media is radically different. For today's digital natives, says Mr Gillmor, it is anathema to be lectured at. Instead, they expect to be informed as part of an online dialogue. They are at once less likely to write a traditional letter to the editor, and more likely to post a response on the web—and then to carry on the discussion. A letters page pre-selected by an editor makes no sense to them; spotting the best responses using the spontaneous voting systems of the internet does.

Sofa slugs

I feel obligated to post something right now, but I'm just too comfortable.

April 23, 2005

Filler

I've seen this quiz on at least a half dozen blogs so far, so I'm required to do it as well. But I think I'm the only one that came out French. I'm so ashamed -- but I like cream sauce!

Your Inner European is French!


Smart and sophisticated.

You have the best of everything - at least, *you* think so.

And I haven't seen this one show up in any blogs, but it's a good one:

You May Be a Bit Borderline ...


Your mood swings make a roller coaster look tame!

When you're up, you're a little bit crazy...

And when you're down, your whole world is crashing

Scary thing is, these moods can change by the minute!

Stuff & Things XVIII

  • Wizbang has put together a concise biography of Ted Kennedy. It's amazing how this guy has managed to stay in the political spotlight as long as he has. If you want to read a less sordid bio, Beautiful Atrocities has one for Betty Page.
  • Can the mindless adolation of the mass-murdering Che Guevara be made as socially unacceptable as racism is now? It's something worth working towards.
  • Andrew Coyne's column today in the Post uncovers the real motives for the Wire Brush's infomerical the other day. He's knows he can't really delay an election; he just wants to move the principal election issue from the corruption scandal to the Tories' intransigence. The fact that it drained the oxygen from one of the ugliest allegations against the Liberals so far -- that they traded nominations to the judiciary for help getting elected -- was just a bonus.
  • Victor David Hanson has some lessons from the War on Terror so far.
  • An autoshow in China. With car babes!

April 22, 2005

A candidate for Pontiac

Conservatives in Quebec? Sure! I mentioned a week ago that our riding association has been courting a high profile candidate to run locally. And now he's agreed -- Lawrence Cannon, a former cabinet minister in the Bourassa government, has announced his intention to seek the Conservative nomination in Pontiac.

He's getting a bit of national press. And the Liberals have already started to build their defence for ten-month-veteran David Smith:

Deputy Government House leader Mauril Belanger dismissed Cannon's candidacy outright, predicting sitting Liberal David Smith would be re-elected.

"Liberals are offering municipalities five cents a litre on gasoline and have a very strong cities agenda -- what have the Tories got?'' Belanger asked in an interview.

Some Liberals privately derided Cannon as a parachute candidate who lives in Hull, Que., which is near, but not in, Pontiac riding.

Well. Some news for you guys: David Smith also lives in Hull and lived there before the last election. And somehow I think a promise from Paul Martin to toss some cash to their municipal governments (if he wins the election) isn't going to cut it.

We should see the big guns showing up locally this time. It's going to be fun...

Happy Earth Day

It important to appreciate Mother Earth and remember all the gifts she gives us each day.

April 21, 2005

'I'm sorry!'

The Wire Brush says he's sorry and it won't happen again. And any money they can be proved to have taken will be given back.

"And only the Judge can determine who's responsible." No, it's not you, the voters. Get that idea out of your head.

"I have too much respect for this place." Laughter all around.

So. Humility. Apologies. Promises. Stalling. And then a weak attempt to appear chummy. And he still looked scared as he delivered it. I really think their goose is cooked.

UPDATE: Most of the opposition responses were pretty good. Except for Layton, 'The government should be giving you more stuff.' Do people really buy this stuff?

I got the feeling that the way we're going to save Federalism is by sacrificing the Liberals. Sounds good to me.

Whole lotta head-shakin' goin' on

I'm in a 'who cares' mode with the blog right now, but that doesn't mean I don't care about what's going on right now in the news. Just when it seems that the Wire Brush and his band of scrubbing bubbles can't appear any worse in my eyes, somehow they do. In the past couple of weeks they've tried to crudely tie the hands of the opposition parties, floated some bogus accounting documents as 'proof' the party has done nothing wrong, introduced the most cynical and desperate vote-buying policy I've ever seen, refused to answer direct questions, and repeatedly (and ineptly) engaged in magician's tool of misdirection. All while evidence mounts as to just how deep and broad the corruption was is.

I don't have many good things to say about the Liberals, but I'm really amazed at how spectacularly this party has imploded. I was sure they were better organized and had better discipline than this. But now the writing is on the wall, and no one can see Martin managing to cling to power for another two months. He's a lame duck. And now the news is just going to get worse for him. There's going to be a lot of rats abandoning the sinking ship, and they're going to be looking to help the incoming party and get in their good graces. The Paul Martin show tonight, in which he will say, "Let me be very clear, we are going to get to the bottom of this...", is going to be must-see TV.

April 19, 2005

Everyone's a critic

I attempted to shake up the bedtime story tonight by reading Green Eggs and Ham in a hip-hop style. It adapts to it quite well. (I DO not LIKE green eggs and HAM, I DO not LIKE them SAM I AM!) But Max and Talia shouted me down and covered their ears. So much for me being the next white rapper...

April 17, 2005

The anti-Seuss

Dr. Seuss has achieved a cherished place in our culture. His wacky rhymes and surreal art can only be discussed today with hushed reverence.

And I like him too. Right now Green Eggs and Ham is one of my kids favourite books (I almost have it memorized). But there's another kid's book creator who's a contemporary of his that doesn't get that kind of respect, and I think he deserves it. And that's Richard Scarry.

Scarry's work is the very different from Seuss's. Seuss's work is mostly very verbal. His rhymes are wonderful, but his art is somewhat lacking. Scarry on the other hand writes dreadfully. Really, it's quite awful some of it -- but the wonderfully detailed art makes up for it. His drawings have the ability to mesmerize kids the way little else does. The stories don't really go anywhere, and certainly contain no deep ideas or clever metaphors, but they take place in a busy and complex environment. I think they're so popular with younger kids because they touch on so many parts of life they're familiar with, but have a fun little twist.

As an engineer, I appreciate Scarry's left brain sensibilities. The drawings are detailed to the point of being cluttered. You can look at a page you've studied or a long time and still spot new things. His books also work to explain things in our culture that are still mysterious to little boys and girls. A small piece on farming, for example, had Alfalfa the farmer (who was a goat) loading a hopper on his tractor with corn seed, plowing the earth and planting the seed, letting the rain and the sun grow the corn, harvesting the corn, saving some of the crop for himself and putting aside some seed for next year, selling the rest to a grocer (a pig), and using the money to buy a new pick-up truck. Seuss is very right-brained. He's be unable to tell something so directly.

A good biography of Scarry (complete with many examples of his work) can be found here. Max is his number one fan.

April 16, 2005

Canada's family secret

The sad plight of natives in Canada today gets a fair amount of attention, but never will you hear that the problem is cultural rather than economic. It's a problem that can't be fixed by more money or more government programs, it can only be fixed from within the community. Aboriginals in Canada need leaders who will face the destructive nature of this culture and attempt to change it. Not much chance of that happening in the near future, unfortunately.

Raskolnikov at Dust My Broom has posted a well-written essay about growing up native in Winnipeg. The characters described are comically tragic, and they have similarities to public figures you might have heard of...

April 15, 2005

Local election news

I worked on the campaign for the Conservative candidate for Pontiac during the last election. Considering the Conservatives made little headway in Quebec, I think we did pretty well -- 22.2% of the vote. With election fever now gripping Ottawa, our team has started meeting again so we can win it this time.

Unlikely? The latest poll shows Conservative support to be higher than that of the Liberals in Quebec. That's a big change. This is a federalist riding; the Bloc will get their 30%, but they won't take it. A swing as large as the polls are showing to the Conservatives from the Liberals will give us the win -- if we have a good candidate.

And I think we do. He hasn't agreed yet, but if the man we've been talking with runs here, he'll roll over Paul Martin's local franchise with little difficulty. The election is going to be a little more fun for me this time...

The Police State comes to Canada

I wish I was astonished by this story, but I'm not. The police in Calgary have raided a private home to take a computer in order to shut down a web site. This web site was not distributing child pornography, bomb-making instructions or hate literature -- it was a site critical of the Calgary police force and its chief, Jack Beaton. I haven't been able to find material from the site or even determine its name, so I can't claim they haven't been knowingly fabricating their stories, but their mission statement sounds relatively benign:

We are the police, the communications officers, the administration staff and other police service members and employees that either have been the victims of tyranny, politics, harassment, bullying, racism, constructive termination, etc., or we know someone who has.
Here's how Craig Burrows, a city alderman on the police commision, justifies the action:
I think any time you go after the morale of a service or the morale of a city that takes pride in its service, the chief has a right to act.

I'm afraid we live in a culture today where you can say anything you want about people, as negative as it is, and you don't think you can be held accountable. I think our chief is just basically ensuring that, moving forward, if you're going to say something that's going to affect the reputation of the service and officers, you have to have evidence to support that claim.

Craig, if you want to live in a culture without all this 'negative' freedom of speech, move to Iran. This kind of action would fit right in there. But in a Western democracy, criticism of public institutions is permitted. Hey! There are even some people who think it's a good thing!

This website collected stories. Everyone knows that stories are not always true. Newspapers print stories that may be false all the time -- simply by quoting others' claims. But by moving in so forcefully to shut down a dissident voice, all I can conclude is that those stories about the Calgary force are frighteningly accurate.

(via Nealenews)

UPDATE: Again via Nealenews, I was able to take a look at a cached copy of the offending site. (A more recent cache is here, but it has less content.) The site is was called Code 200 and seems pretty tame to me. People with gripes about the force created a web page to draw attention to their complaints. It hadn't even attracted much traffic; there were only about 7000 hits when the plug was pulled. But I'm sure their stories will now get much more coverage -- thanks to the Gestapo tactics of the Calgary Police Chief...

UPDATE II: I notice Nealenews has taken the link to the cached site down. From the CBC article:

A sweeping gag order issued at the same time prevents anyone from talking about the case or reading documents related to it, which have been sealed.
I'm not breaking the law again, am I? What's going on in this country?

UPDATE III: Captain's Quarters has much more info and commentary on this story. The real name of the website is Standfirm and more background can be found here.

Revising the revisionists

Glenn Reynolds wrote a long (for him), meandering post yesterday that debunks the myth that the war in Iraq was only to find WMD. He quotes numerous times from Bush's speeches and interviews before the war, and shows that the current positive developments in Iraq are what Bush was always aiming for. It's a blog post that shows why Reynolds is such a force in the blogosphere. It's relatively short, makes a strong point, and contains many links for those who want more information. If you're an opponent of the war, you owe it to yourself to spend three minutes reading it.

The other persistant myth of the war, that 100,000 civilians died, is neatly debunked here.

April 14, 2005

Heads on the block

Stephen Taylor has crunched some numbers to list 10 Liberals that will most likely lose their seats when an election is called.

(ears perk up) Perjury?

Parliament yesterday:

Hon. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Mr. Speaker, if this were not so serious, I would say the Prime Minister is in danger of making himself a national joke.

It is very simple. The Prime Minister testified he had no real relationship of any significance with Claude Boulay. One last time, has he ever sat down and had lunch with Claude Boulay, yes or no?

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, health care may be a joke to the Leader of the Opposition but it is no joke--

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

The Speaker: Order, please. The Leader of the Opposition has asked a question. The Prime Minister is attempting to answer and he is entitled to respond to the question that was asked. We will have some order. We are wasting a great deal of time. Some members will be frightfully disappointed at the end that they missed their questions and the answers.

The right hon. Prime Minister has the floor to answer the question.

Right Hon. Paul Martin: Mr. Speaker, only that leader thinks health care is a joke. Those members will not be able to shout down the millions of Canadians who want to defend the health care system. They have now called the principles of the Canada Health Act, the federal role, into account. They now say they want to privatize the health care system, and the Leader of the Opposition does not have the guts to stand up--

This is just a small slice of the Wire Brush's pathetic attempts to avoid answering a simple question. Andrew Coyne has the scoop on what Martin is hiding -- which may involve his perjury at the Gomery Inquiry. This could get fun...

April 13, 2005

Auditscam

Scott Brison, Sunday on illegal campaign contributions to the Liberal party:

Both Deloitte and PriceWaterhouseCoopers came back with audits that said all contributions made were properly handled and receipted.
Scott Brison, Tuesday in the House of Commons:
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party acted quickly to engage two auditors, in fact, Deloitte & Touche and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Both audits found that all contributions were receipted, handled and accounted for properly. These reports are in fact posted on the Liberal Party website and have been for some time. They have also been given to the Gomery commission, as of last December.

If there were any profiteers that operated below the radar screen of the officials in the Liberal Party, the Liberal Party, the government and all Canadians want those profiteers to be punished.

From the PricewaterhouseCoopers "audit" (page 3):
We have performed the procedures agreed with you as set out in Appendix A with respect to amounts received from and paid to the Named Parties (as defined herein) by FLAC during the period January 1, 1996 to December 31, 2003 (the “Period Under Review”).

Because the procedures set out in Appendix A do not constitute an audit of amounts received from and paid to the Named Parties by FLAC during the period January 1, 1996 to December 31, 2003, we express no opinion on these amounts.

Our report is to be used solely for your information and is not to be used for any other purpose.

Well, that's inconvenient, since the purpose of these reviews was to give the Liberals something to flap around in the air during question period to give them an air of respectability. As to actually finding something wrong, there was no chance of that. The accountants used Liberal data to reach their conclusions -- which were the precisely the conclusions the Liberals wanted them to make.

Giving a stack of papers to an accountant and asking him to check the figures is not an audit. Sheila Fraser performed audits, and found the Liberals were up to their necks in sleaze. These reviews the Liberals are touting are nothing but cheap publicity stunts.

UPDATE: Specialization is for insects! Or for bloggers. There's a new site that's dedicated solely to spanking Scott Brison: Turncoat.ca. (via Ravishing Light)

Sounds good to me

In today's Globe:

Key measures of the government's February budget, including billions for child care, cities and the environment will immediately "vanish" if the Conservatives pull the plug on the minority Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office warns.

With speculation growing that the minority Parliament is on borrowed time, PMO spokesman Scott Reid noted that a quick election would mean the loss of all measures in the February budget because Parliament has not yet passed legislation to bring them into force.

The budget includes $700-million for the provinces to spend on child care as part of a $5-billion, five-year plan. It also gave the provinces 1.5 cents per litre of gas-tax money for public transit and large municipal projects, and $5-billion over five years for meeting Canada's commitments under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

Also in danger are payments of $2-billion for Newfoundland and an $830-million for Nova Scotia related to offshore resources.

The key lesson from the Gomery Inquiry is that the Liberals cannot be trusted to spend our money. If their strategy to convince Canadians that they should be kept in power is to remind them of how much money they're planning to burn through, I think it's going to backfire. Bring on the election before they do more damage!

April 12, 2005

There ain't no tellin' who ya might meet

First time through the car wash. No fear at all...

The Post performs a hagiectomy

Romeo Dallaire has done a good job of using the story of his disasterous command in Rwanda during the genocide to create a heroic aura. It was made easier by a Canadian media that often confuses victims with heroes, but Delaire's book, "Shake Hands with the Devil" went a long way to building his reputation. I've always been suspicious, but I've never seen anything published in this country that questioned his version of events. But today's National Post has a detailed piece (subscription required) that attempts to remove his halo:

Shake Hands shows Bagosora manipulating the Canadian's eagerness to read good faith into the actions of men he today calls "genocidaires." In one surreal scene, Dallaire chauffeurs the busy mass-murderer from one genocide-planning meeting to another. In another, the war raging, Dallaire tells the crisis committee he still believes in the "peace process," then promises the UN won't intervene militarily. The Canadian peacekeeper not only shook hands with the devil, he gave him the thumbs-up plus a lift between levels of Hell.

It was the Tutsi exile army in Uganda, not the UN or any multilateral body, that ultimately rescued Rwanda -- but not before up to 800,000 innocents were hacked to death.

Dallaire's accounts of massacres and vile mutilations are deeply disturbing. But his naivete is shocking in its own way. As Kagame's forces swept into the country and the Hutu intensified their nihilistic slaughter, Dallaire tried to broker a ceasefire -- and today remains puzzled the Tutsi commander wasn't interested. He also handed hundreds of Hutu prisoners to the enraged Tutsi army. And he colluded with aid agencies to prevent the rescue of local orphans through foreign adoption. Better they die, it seems, than survive through politically incorrect means.

It appears Dallaire even helped trigger his personal nightmare: the mission's collapse. On the genocide's second night, he sent a lightly armed squad of Belgian blue-helmets into the chaos, even though radio stations were blaming the Belgians for the president's assassination. These men -- 10, as it turned out -- were seized and disarmed by Hutu army extremists.

Dallaire soon learned of their capture, driving right past the building where they were held while heading for one of his meetings. As Dallaire dallied with Bagosora, the 10 were massacred and mutilated (it's uncertain in which order). Dallaire made no serious attempt to help his men, several of whom reportedly remained alive for hours. The Belgians later insisted they could have mounted a commando-style rescue.

(To this day, Dallaire is reviled in Belgium, which launched an inquiry into the episode. Dallaire refused to testify, a fact oddly omitted in his book.)

Dallaire and his apologists have portrayed his faltering command as the victim of circumstance and external forces, but it was he who handed the extremists the opportunity they had sought, he who threw away his only military asset. The genocidaires saw an officer who wouldn't protect his men; surely such a man wouldn't defend mere Tutsi "cockroaches." Any hopes of bluffing his way to peace were gone.

There were heroes in the Rwandan massacres. Men like Carl Wilkens and Paul Rusesabagina risked their lives to save others, and there are probably many other heroes whose stories never will be known. But Romeo Dallaire -- whose mission was to do what these other men did -- failed to make a difference. He doesn't deserve his halo.

April 10, 2005

Survivor: Canada

Brian Mulroney is now known to have taken $300,000 dollars in cash from German businessman Karlheinz Schreiber. This is the same Karlheinz Schreiber with whom Mulroney was alleged to have conspired over the Airbus kickback. Andrew Coyne explains the story in more detail and is asks why this story has been largely ignored by Canada's media:

So it is newsworthy, to say the least, that Mr. Mulroney is now known to have accepted substantial sums of money, after he was prime minister, from the same man from whom he was alleged to have accepted bribes while prime minister. Yet what has been the reaction?

Paul Wells wrote it up in Maclean’s. The Globe and Mail published an editorial. Michael Bliss raised an eyebrow in the Post. Apparently there was some discussion of it in the Literary Review of Canada. And that’s about it. A strange, disquieting silence has fallen over the whole story. Aside from the Globe, none of the major papers that I am aware of even published a review -- this, for a book that for several weeks was among the top 10 bestsellers in Canada.

I've wondered the same thing with regards to the Gomery Inquiry. Lots of dirt has been revealed since it began, but until now little attention has been paid to it outside of Quebec. It was MAJOR news when Shiela Fraser overturned the first rock, but still the Liberals were re-elected and until last week the population has given an indifferent shrug to new revelations. I used to think that because of the very complex structure of the corruption; people were losing track of the chain of events and they tuned out as if it was a soap they had missed too many episodes of. But I think Coyne's thesis is better:
The coincidental timing of the Gomery inquiry’s hearings into the goings-on in government under Mr. Mulroney’s successor, Jean Chretien, highlights how low our expectations have sunk. Our last two elected prime ministers, men who governed us for most of the last twenty years, have both left office under an ethical cloud. And hardly anyone thinks this worth mentioning.
We've heard it before. We expect it. And we think we're powerless to do anything to stop it.

And this leads me back to the question I asked last week. Why are the latest twists in the Gomery investigation such big news? Didn't we already know everything Brault spilled the beans about? My new theory: Canadians recognize that this was something big. A chess move with an exclaimation mark. A reversal in which party holds the advantage. Pleasure is taken in the dismay of the losers and the joy of the winners.

Canadians may be too cynical now to believe that we can have honest effective government, but at least we can still get excited about politics as we would a good reality TV show.

April 09, 2005

It would make a great Coen brothers movie

The story of the how the finger got in the chili...

April 08, 2005

Don't rush that election call...

... Because it's too much fun watching the Liberals squirm. But it'll be a while before they can top the clanger Martin spokesman Scott Reid dropped today:

Paul Martin is the wire brush that will scrub clean this stain on Canadian politics!
I doubt anyone present when he said that was able to keep a straight face...

The publication ban was a good thing

I'm convinced that the publication ban has brought the testimony of Jean Brault to the attention of more people than it would have had it just leaked out slowly onto the pages of the newspapers. There has been plenty of damning testimony before in the Gomery Inquiry, but it hasn't really penetrated the thick skin of indifference Canadians have built up about the sleaze in the Liberal party. But by bottling it up for a week and then releasing it all at once (and this is top-shelf sleaze too -- the high quality kind) it's resulted in a bombshell that's woken the electorate up. Most media sources have gone all-out on this story, and people are paying attention.

The Liberals have formed square and are trying to beat off the attacks. Anne McClellan was screeching in Parliament yesterday -- her voice makes Sharon Carstairs sound sultry -- that the testimony was "allegations, not facts!" In a radio interview, Irwin Cotler was answering every question with a short indignant loop about the dangers of "collective indictment" which would continue until the interviewer broke in. Paul Martin is probably very relieved to be at the Pope's funeral; he can avoid being seen on TV red-faced and sweaty and making these pathetic defences. But his time will come.

Are the Liberals doomed? Can they weasel their way out of this? No, I really don't think so -- but then, I'm an optimist about human nature.

There are rumblings about an election coming soon. The Conservatives don't want to trigger it yet because there's still lots of preparations to be done. But their finger is hovering over the button, just waiting for the right moment...

April 07, 2005

Fun while it lasted

And there’s no more swimming in a guitar shaped pool,
No more reporters at my beck and call,
No more cocaine it’s only ground chalk,
No more taxis, now we’ll have to walk...

But didn’t we have a nice time?
Didn’t we have a nice time?
Oh wasn’t it such a fine time...

The Jam -- To Be Someone.

Breaking Gomery news

Judge Gomery has 'partially' lifted the publication ban, allowing the CBC (and others, I imagine) to report what Captain's Quarter's reported a few days ago. Now the fun starts.

Can't help myself... must post...

More on the dark side of Pandas...

Bad hair daze

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew.

Not heroes, but still right

The post reprints a snarky post from the blog Tart Cider today that digs up a few quotes from Canadian bloggers breaking the publication ban in order to mock them as a whole. Now, there is a rich tradition in blogging (one I'm sure I've indulged in) of taking the words of a minority, or even of an individual, as the sentiments of the broader target of the writer's wrath, so I can't fault him for his tactics.

But from what I've seen, most of the blogs are linking to and discussing the story because it interests them and they don't feel the government should be holding them back. No one sees themselves as the Canadian heirs to Woodward & Bernstein. Canadian bloggers are doing what they've always done -- just with a larger audience.

The hand flapping and vague threats by the attorney general's office the other day assured me that nothing will happen to bloggers that break the ban. If the desire was to stop the leak, holding a press conference to say what they could do probably wasn't the best way to go about it. So there's no heroics involved in linking to Captain's Quarters.

He also claims that we're doing this just for hits, noting that some lamos have actually posted graphs of their traffic! True, that's pretty pathetic; but after toiling in obscurity for such a long time, it's natural for people to want to blow their own horn. I think most bloggers would still be linking to the story and covering just as they are now even if it was just for the benefit of their few 'regulars'.

I'm not sure why the Post chose this particular commentary to print. There's plenty of good 'meta-commentary' of how this publication ban has affected the Canadian blogosphere. But the entire tone of this piece was a sneering, 'Ghod, those bloggers are just soooo lame', with which the editors of the Post seem to agree. I see this attitude often when the mainstream press mentions blogs, but other groups of enthusiastic amateurs are never covered in a similar light. You will never see mockery of customized car buffs, or amateur musicians, artists, film makers, and actors. But amateur political writers? Beneath contempt.

April 06, 2005

Fuggin' Bell fuggin' Expressvu...

TV is dead to us now. We haven't watched anything in the past month other than the hyperthyroidic creatures on Dora the Explorer. The kids can live without it.

We were tempted back to the satellite service when they offered us two months of free service with all the options. It was fun to TV back for a while, but then I forgot all about it. The first bill finally came and -- Aaawk! -- it was almost $100! For a month! Can anyone really pay these ridiculous charges? (And no, the porn channels weren't part of 'all the options'.)

Well, no more. The ridiculous bill was my fault, but they're not getting any more of our money. Time to cancel.

So now I'm on hold. I've been on hold for quite a while. I started by shifting through the menus to get to the queue to talk to a human. After an excessive wait, I finally get to speak to a someone. They tell me that to cancel, I have to talk to someone else, and I'm back on hold again. This time the hold is much less pleasant because it's accompanied by an annoying woman telling me annoying things. Apparently I can watch Fahrenheit 911 on Expressvu! "It's Michael Moore's latest commentary!" (Exact words.) I loop through this grating crap at least ten times.

And finally through. The guy on the end is trying to talk me out of it, like I'm perched on a ledge of a tall building, threatening to jump. No. My mind is made up, I ... *klic* ... ummmmmmmmmmmmmm...

Cut off! Bastard! I call back -- and in a mere twenty minutes I'm talking to a guy three cubes down from the first guy. I'm pissed, but it's not his fault. But he can't help me. If I want to cancel I have to talk to the cancellation guys -- and get back on hold. So. On hold again. The fourth time. Same annoying patter. Grrr.

Twenty-five minutes. I cannot believe this. Finally I'm through and... the cancellation department closed a half hour ago! I'm talking to tech support. No, he can't take my information and give it to the proper people. No, he can't get someone to phone me back. No, he can't ram his head into his desk a few times to make me feel better.

Evil bastards. They won this battle, but they won't win the war.

UPDATE: Did it. And it only took ten minutes this time. But they can't shut me off until May 7 and can't even reduce my package. Swine.

Indicting Kofi Annan

Kenneth Cain writes a scathing summary of Kofi Annan's career so far. RTWT.

It's going to cost you fifty grand...

The sponsorship program was conceived as a means to promote the Canadian 'brand' in Quebec. For some reason, Quebecers were deemed insufficiently attached to the Trudeaupian vision of Canada as defined by the Liberal party. But it wasn't such a problem that it couldn't be fixed by a couple of hundred million dollars, so away they went. This the version of the story Paul Martin's Liberals are promoting. All those kickbacks to the Liberal party were just the work of a few bad apples.

Maybe they're right. It appears that giving bribes for governemnt contracts is just how business is done in Quebec. Groupaction is now accused of greasing some wheels in the Parti Quebecois at the same time as they were kicking money back to the federal Liberals. A former employee of Groupaction explains:

Renaud said that in one transaction, a total of about $90,000 was given to the PQ as part of Groupaction's getting a $4.5-million advertising contract for the Quebec liquor board, called the SAQ.

Groupaction apparently won the contract in a competition when a bagman for the Parti Quebecois had a meeting with the firm's top executives.

One of those executives told Sun Media: "The bagman came by and said: 'Well, you won the bid, and all that's needed now is a signature, and the documents are on the minister's desk to be signed, and it's going to cost you fifty grand.' "

Renaud recalled about $45,000 a year in donations were to be paid to the PQ for two years.

The money was funnelled through individual Groupaction employees to circumvent Quebec law, which prohibits corporate political contributions.

Renaud said Groupaction president Brault was personally involved in the tollgating deal. "I was there when he (Brault) was negotiating with the people of the PQ," he said.

Maurice Duplessis' Union Nationale was destroyed by revelations of the party's deeply-rooted corruption. Maybe the same thing will happen to the Federal Liberals and the PQ.

(via Debbye and Nealenews.)

April 05, 2005

Saw this one coming...

Could anyone think that this:

Wouldn't lead to this?

Anger is self-defeating

Jacob Laksin at Opinion Journal writes about the 'vast left-wing conspiracy' and how its anger lost them last year's presidential election to George Bush:

Beneath the patina of confidence, however, the left-wing conspiracy often seems pitiable, as desperate as it is determined. Above all, its members are angry--at the perceived injustice of the 2000 presidential election, at the prospect of long-term Republican governance, at John Kerry's inept campaigning. Even, it appears, at being called angry.

It is the anger that does them in. Resting his case on much original reporting, Mr. York convincingly shows that the activist left mistook its base--2.5 million strong and anti-Bush to the (mostly white) man--for the mainstream electorate, as if fury and contempt were the only logical responses to the Bush presidency. Reciting the mantra that it was "too big to fail," the left wing bought into the conspiracy of its own vastness. An inability to connect with swing voters followed, and electoral defeat.

This is why Hillary Clinton will be a tough candidate to beat in 2008. She gets Republicans angry. Really angry. They risk appearing to the moderate center to be as unreasonable as the fringe elements of the Democrats did in the last election.

If Hillary is nominated, the Republicans will have to have an even more polarizing figure as their candidate to counteract her. There's only one choice: Dick Cheney in 2008.

So that's Martin's plan...

Andrew Coyne comments on the absurdity of the Gomery publication ban:

But to get to where we are now? It's just absurd. You cannot publish the proscribed testimony on the Web? Okay, maybe that's fair, if other media are under the same order. But to threaten people with prosecution just for linking to a site that does? Or linking to a site that links to that site? Or -- I cannot believe I am writing this -- even for uttering their names? What's the punishment for this blasphemy, I wonder: stoning?

Suppose, instead of a website, the ban were broken by an American newspaper: the New York Times, say. Would the police seize all copies of this samizdat publication? Would they prosecute corner newsstands for carrying it? Would we be forbidden from telling Canadians which newspaper had broken the ban? Or what if it were an American television station? Jam the signal? Black out every mention of it in the TV guide?

But wait, it gets weirder. We are told that lawyers for Jean Brault and Chuck Guité, who face criminal charges, are pushing for their case to be held back until September. We'll know Wednesday whether their motion is granted. Rationally, if it is, then the ban would lose whatever tenuous justification it once had: by the time the case was heard, the good citizens of Quebec would have had time to clear their heads. But suppose their motion is denied, or Judge Gomery decides to maintain the ban on publishing Brault's testimony, the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who by now are at least partly aware of its contents notwithstanding. And suppose the government falls.

We would then be treated to a sight I venture to say has never before been witnessed anywhere in the world: an entire election devoted to an issue that no one is allowed to say anything about! [emphasis added]

He'd do it too. And instead of Liberal sleaze, the election would be about gay marriage and the fear of the brownshirts in the 'Alliance-Conservatives'.

Typically Canadian response

Canadian officials are thinking about maybe looking into and investigating the possibility of initiating moving forward with the preparation of a strategy that may involve sending letters to people breaking the publication ban.

Canada's attorney general is probing possible breaches of a publication ban set up to protect explosive testimony at the AdScam inquiry. Justice spokesman Patrick Charette said federal lawyers are looking into the Internet sites reproducing excerpts of Montreal ad exec Jean Brault's testimony and providing a link to a U.S. blog featuring more extensive coverage of the hearing.

"We have to decide what the best course of action is," Charette said, adding federal lawyers could charge Canadian bloggers and website owners with contempt of court or suggest AdScam Justice John Gomery issue warning letters.

"It's a discussion that will take place between Justice lawyers and the Gomery commission," Charette said.

Do Canadians ever do anything anymore? What's all this huffing and puffing about what you might do? Act!

I swear, if our country was invaded, the first thing our government would do (and it would take a while) would be to form a public inquiry to determine how it happened and to draft a report discussing options on what to do to prevent it from happening in the future.

Soccer heros: past and future

Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities has a nice look at the depth (and width!) Diego Maradona has fallen to. It's amazing what too much drugs, too much food, and too little brains can do to a person.

Hopefully this Brazilian kid, Jean Carlos Chera, can avoid this fate. He's only nine years old now, but has absolutely astonishing skills. Check out this video.

A thirsty population

My traffic is pretty negligable compared to what's happening at Captain's Quarters. The National Post notes:

But the details have leaked out, and American Web sites have had thousands of hits, including many from Canadians.
Canadians? Canadians are driving this traffic? No kidding.

April 04, 2005

Gomery-mania!

Above is a graph of my traffic for the last month. I was happily averaging about 100 hits a day until I linked to that story at Captain's Quarters. And I'm getting only a tiny fraction of the hits some other Canadian blogs are getting. Canadians want to find out what's going on, and instead of just waiting patiently for Peter Mansbridge to tell them, they're going out to find out for themselves. It's all good.

The publication ban has some people worried about what the authorities could do to naughty blogs such as mine that continue to link to that disrespectful foreigner. It's manifesting itself in different ways. Some, like Andrew at Bound by Gravity -- who had done such a great job of gathering the Canadian content together -- have backed down and removed their links. Then there's Angry in the Great White North, who's consciously daring the government to come after him. (Of course, he's not using his real name, and the government would have to bully Google to get it.) I'm going to walk between these two extremes and continue to link to the forbidden coverage until someone tells me otherwise. And I'll even comment obliquely on what it might mean. It's foolish to ignore this source of information on the corruption of our government and pretend it doesn't exist.

Now if someone does tell me to pull my links and be a nice quiet Canadian, well... there's no telling what I might do. I've been known to be stubborn and have a real problem with authority...

More forbidden fruit

Captain Ed has his second installment of news from behind the Gomery publication ban up at Captain's Quarters. It's spicy stuff; he concludes with this:

If Brault’s testimony holds up, the reputations of Chrétien, Gagliano, and their teams will be shredded. But it looks like the reputations of Paul Martin’s Ministers, MPs, and organizers are going to be pretty tattered by the end of this as well.
I'd like Martin to pulled down into the muck, but getting Chrétien in there will be nice too. This is going to trash the reputation of the Liberals so much that even the daffy voters of Ontario will not be able to ignore it. I'm really looking forward to the next election.

I have to commend Captain Ed for distributing this news. I'm also impressed at how well he covers the background to the story. It's ot easy getting a handle on another countries politics, and I didn't spot any inaccuracies in what I've read so far.

I think this new cloak and dagger aspect to the story erases the plodding nature of the inquiry so far. Because of it, it's caught the sleepy Canadian public's eye and more attention will be paid to the blatent corruption of the Liberal party. I hope so anyway.

UPDATE: The Captain's site is getting deluged with curious Canadians. His comments and trackbacks seem to be failing, but the info is still there -- though it takes a while to load.

Come and get me, coppers!

Captain's Quarters links to a story from the London Free Press that suggests bloggers that linked to the blog post that broke the Gomery publication ban may be in for a 'world of pain':

[Inquiry official Francois] Perreault warned that even if Brault's testimony has been outed by a U.S. website, it doesn't mean it's now public information.

"Anyone who takes that information and diffuses it is liable to be charged with contempt of court," Perreault said.

"Anybody who reproduces it is at risk."

And...
Sun Media lawyer Alan Shanoff said publishing the name of the blog or the Canadian news site that promoted it or providing the blog's Internet address could lead to a contempt charge.
Now, don't think for a minute that I'm posing as a brave defender of freedom of speech by continuing to link to this information. I completely doubt that the RCMP would try to round up such a huge number of Canadian bloggers that have done the same. (Though it is interesting to note that the three Canadian blogger/journalists I follow -- Paul Wells, Andrew Coyne, and Colby Cosh -- have all avoided directly linking to the source of the offending information.)

They may be looking for a site to make an example of though. Nealenews, which is to Drudge as Windsor is to Detroit, directly linked to the forbidden knowledge for most of yesterday -- though today he's taken down the link. It may not be enough; the call for blood has gone out.

The ban could be lifted in a few days anyways, and all this fuss will blow over. The lawyers for Brault and Coffin are looking to move their trials back until September, so Gomery's definitely not going to keep the lid on this testimony until then. After all, it's supposed to be a public inquiry. All the ban will have done then is to wet everyone's appetite.

April 03, 2005

Why is this news?

The revelation of protected testimony from the Gomery Inquiry by Captain Ed is heating up the normally sedate Canadian blogosphere like nothing before. Andrew at Bound by Gravity has been tracking how the news has spread, and it's been impressive.

But is what Brault said really news? Did anyone really think the Liberals hadn't been using these bogus dropping-money-from-a-helicopter programs to line their own pockets? This is how the Liberal machine works! Everything they do isn't as sleazy as this particular scheme, but it all follows a similar formula. Government money and power is used as an election tool. Grants to cultural communities, well-funded projects handed to the unions to run, 'regional development', immigration policies, corporate welfare -- all these are done with the consultation of pollsters as to how they will affect their electoral prospects.

The Gomery Inquiry has been getting little attention outside of Quebec. Most people's reactions when hearing of the latest evidence of sleaze has been to shrug. (That's how I've treated it anyway.)

So I don't think all the attention paid to this latest news is because of what was said. Rather, I think that the act of drawing a black curtain around the proceedings has gotten people curious as to what was being hidden. Now people want to know -- and they're paying more attention. It could be that the publication ban will amplify rather than muffle Brault's testimony. And all for the better too.

We still need a bass player

Breaking the Gomery publication ban

This is the information age. The government can no more prevent news from spreading than it can control the weather. An American blog, Captain's Quarters, has plenty of juicy info on Jean Brault's blacked-out testimony from the Gomery Inquiry. I'd quote some of it here, but I'm actually worried about the RCMP paying me a visit if I do. Sad, but true.

This news may get aired in Parliament on Monday, but now, thanks to the blogosphere, you can read it today.

April 02, 2005

Dodge: More government = increased productivity

The governor of the Bank of Canada says the way to increased productivity for our country is through government daycare:

David Dodge, governor of the Bank of Canada, said Wednesday Canada needs to build an "infrastructure for early childhood development," appearing to give his approval to the Liberal Party's national day-care plan.

Dodge's comments were part of a speech Wednesday in which he once again drilled home the need for Canada to improve lagging productivity growth even though it may mean job losses in certain sectors.

"The first step to improving skills is to build an excellent infrastructure for early childhood development, feeding into a school system that effectively teaches basic skills," Dodge said in a speech at Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning in Toronto.

Governments love metrics, and 'productivity' is a big one right now. Canada's lagging the US, so naturally they want to reverse this. But Dodge and the Liberals are completely out to lunch on how to do it. If they think the way to produce more per capita is by creating a new generation of super-kids from a high-tech network of government funded kids' kennels and upgraded schools, they're crazy.

It's very simple why Canada and Europe are lagging the US in productivity growth. It's because we keep increasing the benefits for not working while reducing the benefits for working (through increased taxes). Not too complex, eh David?

Teflon Kofi

All the stories I read last week on Paul Volcker's interim report on the Oil-for-food scandal described it as 'vindicating' Kofi Annan. Claudia Rosett disagrees:

It was Annan who personally signed off on Saddam's shopping lists, and repeatedly urged the Security Council not only to continue the program, but to expand it in size and scope, which allowed Saddam to rake in yet more illicit billions from oil smuggling.

If Annan has indeed lost sight of his own oversight role, it would hardly be the only such lapse turned up in this inquiry. What emerges from the jumbled narrative of the Volcker interim report is a U.N. universe of forgetful officials, botched record-keeping, cronyism, and conflicts of interest so abundant they start to sound simply routine--which they apparently were. Most noteworthy is the volume of damning information whitewashed by bland wording, culminating in Volcker's judgment that in some respects Annan's performance was "inadequate." By such standards, the Titanic was "non-buoyant."

As with the earlier interim report, issued in February, Volcker informs us that his team has found no smoking gun. But there's enough smoke here to leave you wondering if Volcker's team should have been looking not for a gun but, instead, for a roomful of U.N. shredders, flaming out from overuse.

There's lots more in her story, including information on enough shredded documents to hold a dozen ticker-tape parades and more about Kofi's son's shenanigans.

This is the biggest financial fraud in the history of the world. And what was stolen was money meant to help the impoverished people of Iraq. Billions and billions and billions of dollars of humanitarian aid, siphoned off by well-connected middlemen or landing in the bank accounts of a brutal dictator. But for the most part, the press continues to look the other way and refuse to point the finger at the man in charge. Doing so might bolster the status of George Bush and give his distain of the UN more legitimacy. And no one wants that, do they?

April 01, 2005

The next domino

It's not Iran, but Syria. Charles Krauthammer has a great column in today's Washington Post (and also in today's National Post) on the rational behind using international pressure to push them to the breaking point. Their position is weakening; they shouldn't be allowed to regain their balance. As is said in the blog world: read the whole thing.