Friday, March 28, 2008

Liberal-Tory same old story???

Paul Wells has an excellent column in Macleans (perhaps to celebrate his return to Canada?) on the Grand Coalition that Stephen Harper and Stephan Dion have forged to govern the country. As Wells writes:

Liberal-Conservative coalitions are so alien to Canadian tradition that even today, everyone concerned pretends this one doesn't exist. Liberals continue to criticize Tories, although Dion's pathetic Question Period performances make it clear his heart isn't in the game. Only Conservatives sit in the federal cabinet, but this is just part of the charade: to pacify his Liberal coalition partners, Harper does not permit his Conservative "ministers" to talk or do anything. The Liberals make a great show of blaming the NDP for the current government's existence, but the lie is transparent. The NDP keeps showing up to vote against the government. The Liberals don't. Of course not: it's their government too....

...And indeed, the current Harper-Dion government is presiding over astonishing changes to the shape of Canada's government...

...This massively revisionist overhaul of Canadian federalism flies in the face of everything the Liberals worked to achieve during Jean Chr├ętien's decade in power. If the Liberals were not absolutely dedicated to implementing this revolution, they would have voted to stop it long before now. St├ęphane Dion and Stephen Harper are accomplishing great things together. It is a measure of their discipline and modesty that they continue to deny everything.
Now, I'm hardly a Dion basher (and most Liberals would probably say I'm too conservative, not too socialist) and Wells has always been a champion/defender of Dion, but damn!

That column really makes one want to vote NDP doesn't it?

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

It turns out John Tory is still alive...

Who knew?

I was sure he'd been killed and eaten by Flaherty.

Not only is he still alive, but it appears as though he still works for the provincial Tories (the article even refers to him as their leader... that can't be true though, can it???).

And not only that, it appears that he has figures at hand telling him that Ontario is in a recession. Figures the Chief Economist of TD Bank knows nothing about. Figures from... the future!!!

And not only that (yes, there's more) apparently his figures from the future show that Ontario's economy is NOT being dragged down by $100 oil, a Canadian dollar at partiy, and an American economy on the verge of it's worst economic downturn in decades (possibly since the Great Depression). No, no, no sillies, it's all Dalton McGuinty's fault. Him and his bloated civil service. Ignore the record oil prices. Ignore the parity of the dollar. Ignore the sub-prime mortgage debacle. What kind of idiot would think that these are the causes of our difficulties (I'm looking at you Don Drummond, you big nerd).

Ironically though, the revelation that John Tory has a time machine, and that he has proof that pretty much every economic expert in the country is wrong about what's behind Ontario's current economic woes are not the biggest shockers in this article.

I'm really surprised to find out that John Tory is still alive.

(H/T to POGGE).

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Latest Democratic Presidential poll...

Well, this is interesting.


"The increasingly charged Democratic race for the White House appears to be hurting Hillary Clinton significantly more than Barack Obama, a just-released poll suggests."

Positive View of Clinton: 37%
Positive view of Obama: 49%

Negative View of Clinton: 48%
Negative View of Obama: 32%

McCain Versus Clinton: Clinton down by 2% (statistical tie)
McCain Versus Obama: Obama up by 2% (statistical tie)

Good thing Obama's had a couple of really horrible weeks eh? If he'd had a GOOD March it might be totally over by now!

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Tories still insist on messing with Ontario...

Well, despite the efforts of Dwight Duncan and Dalton McGuinty to turn down the temperature, the jackasses in our federal government have decided to keep attacking their Ontario counterparts.

I swear, if the federal government were treating Quebec or Alberta this way, those provincial governments would have made an appeal to the UN by now. Or at the very least started a campaign to have a referendum on separation.

I'm telling you, if the feds keep treating us this way, I'll start to contemplate advocating that we take our $20 billion a year in funding for the other provinces and go it on our own. You want us to make $5 billion in corporate tax cuts? Fine. Give us back just 25% of the money you take away from us every year to spread around the rest of the country, and we'll do it tomorrow. Sure, maybe that will mean Quebeckers will no longer get ridiculously low tuition rates, and Manitobans may no longer get subsidized electricity rates, but tell me again why those provinces get those great perks AND our money? Tell me again why provinces get transfers from us to fund programs that are BETTER than we can afford in Ontario with what's left over. You know why I think Ontario is less competitive than the other provinces? It's because we pay $20 billion a year to them to help them stay more competitive than us (except for Alberta, who have $100/barrel oil to thank). The theory behind equalization is to make sure provinces don't fall too far behind successful provinces like Ontario and Alberta, so that people in less well to do provinces have comparable levels of service to those in prospering provinces. The reality in many cases is that Ontario and Alberta are funding services in other provinces that are BETTER than the services in Ontario (more per-capita spending on health care, subsidized university tuition, subsidized electricity rates...). It feels like it's not so much any more about keeping other provinces up, as it is about keeping Ontario down. If you can afford to spend more per capita on services for your citizens than the province of Ontario does on our citizens, why should we have to subsidize that higher spending?

I'm getting really mad with all this b.s. from the feds, and the main thing that has me worried is that Harper WANTS me really mad.

Maybe he really wants to break up the country.

Given the antics of his ministers, I wouldn't put it past him.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A shout out to some people in Saskatchewan...

Who don't like the federal Tories bad-mouthing the country's industrial heartland, or demonizing their duly elected officials either!

Sean in Saskatchewan makes note of the scathing blog post today from Paul Wells on this whole debacle, and this editorial in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix likewise laments Flaherty's actions.

An Ontarian might worry that the rest of the country loves the idea of picking on or mocking big, bad Ontario, but I think my fellow Canadians deserve more credit. As the Saskatoon paper points out, no Alberta government or Quebec government (or Newfoundland government, or...) would ever put up with this kind of crap, nor would their citizens, and I don't think other provinces expect us to put up with it either. If I were the McGuinty government I'd pretty much ignore all the bluster from Ottawa these days, and spend a lot of time on the phone with Charest, and Stelmch, and Williams et al...

Surely they can't be pleased at all of this either.

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Poking the bear continued...

Paul Wells seems to understand why Flaherty and the Tories are picking on Ontario...

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Ontario: The patsy of Confederation Volume 2...

I'm on a bit of a rant lately, but it's been really ticking me off how the feds are treating Ontario (and our duly elected leaders) these days.

These three articles are a must read for all the people of Ontario, who need to wake up to the fact that Ontario is going to be hit harder by the coming economic woes than any other province, and that the federal Tories (in the words of TD Bank Chief Economist Don Drummond) : "seem to be bent on making Ontario's situation worse at the moment".

Jim Flaherty would like you to forget the $5 billion deficit he and his provincial Tory cohorts left Ontarians with.

He'd like you to ignore the $20 billion a year that Ontario tax payers give to Ottawa each year so that it can be redistributed to the rest of the country and help fund subsidized electricity rates in Manitoba, and subsidized tuition rates in Quebec.

He'd like you to believe that the coming economic downturn in Ontario caused by Canadian dollar parity, $100 oil and the subprime mortgage debacle in the U.S. is actually all the fault of Premier McGunity.

He'd like you to forget that Ontario has reduced corporate taxes by $3 billion under Premier McGuinty by cutting business property taxes and moving to eliminate the capital tax (both of which are more harmful to business than the marginal business income tax rate).

He'd also like you to forget that the federal corporate tax rate is higher than Ontario's, and that if the Tories had eliminated the same amount off of pretty much ANY OTHER TAX that they took off the GST it would have been better for the economy. He'd like you to be very forgetful that Mr. Flaherty.

And it makes me SO MAD.

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Poke, poke, poke....

It's as though the federal Tories think the sleeping Ontario bear will never wake up:

Political analysts and historians were baffled at Flaherty's bold interference in provincial politics.

"I can't remember a previous precedent. It's so unusual I'm tempted to say it's unseemly," said historian Michael Bliss of the University of Toronto.

The only similar feud he could recall were frequent barbs exchanged between former prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and Ontario premier Mitch Hepburn in the 1930s.

Political scientist Nelson Wiseman, also of the University of Toronto, speculated that Flaherty's Conservative government must be hoping to escape blame for future economic woes.

"They see the darkening economic clouds on the horizon and they want to deflect attention from the federal government stewardship of the economy onto Ontario."
We all know what's REALLY GOING ON. Those of us who don't remember will soon be reminded of what happened the last time Ontario became a "have not province" and became eligible to RECEIVE federal equalization payments (during the energy crisis of the 70s). Don't remember? The Feds CHANGED THE RULES RETROACTIVELY to prevent the province from ever receiving payments. That's right. Ontario isn't the only province to have never received equalization because we were never entitled to equalization. We're the only province that's never received payments because when we became eligible for payments, the feds changed the rules to cut us off. You see, Ontario funding everyone else's spending is fair, but everyone else helping Ontario in their time of need? We can't have that.

And what do the federal Tories TODAY plan to do to help Ontario during this global economic downturn that effects Ontario disproportionately? Well, according to TD Bank's Chief Economist "they seem to be bent on making Ontario's situation worse at the moment."

Great.

You know, when Quebec and Alberta feel hard done by the feds, they threaten to secede. Ontarians have always considered themselves Canadians first and Ontarians second, but how long are we expected to stomach a federal government that is more than happy to take our money and redistribute it to the rest of the country (to the tune of $20 billion a year) but feels that we should also be attacked and undermined for the privilege? Sooner or later, Ontarians are going to realize what their government could do with an extra $20 billion a year in their coffers. Maybe we could afford subsidized electricity rates like Manitoba. Or ultra low tuition for Ontario students like Quebec has (you're both welcome by the way). Whatever happens, I know one thing.

The federal Tories would be well advised to STOP POKING THE BEAR.

(H/T to

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Maybe it's not just Flaherty, maybe it's the entire Conservative Government...

So, Adam Radwanski points out that it might not be JUST Jim Flaherty's naked ambition to take over the provincial Tories that is behind his stubborn insistence on poking the sleeping bear that is Ontario. It may just be federal Tory policy to bite at the hand that feeds.

Well gentlemen, by all means continue to point out that there are provinces in Canada where taxes are lower and spending is higher. Sooner or later, Ontarians are bound to realize that this is largely because they are being played for suckers. When things are quiet on the federal-provincial front between Ottawa and Queen's Park, we Ontarians are more than happy to swallow our underrepresentation in Parliament and continue to fund provincial spending from coast to coast (even when people in other provinces get subsidized electricity rates, or ultra low tuition rates on our dime). However, there is a point when even Ontarians (good federalists that we are notwithstanding) will get fed up.

The Tories have decided that it's not enough that Ontario is the Confederation's patsy, they've decided to actively rub our noses in it. They call our provincial leaders "small men" for suggesting we deserve representation by population. They say that they wouldn't invest in our province because our taxes are too high (never mind that we could lower taxes in Ontario significantly if we weren't sending $20 billion a year to Ottawa that is then redistributed to the rest of the country). And they broadcast to the world that we're on our way to becoming a "have not province" (to which, ironically, many Ontarians say "it's about time" - having become tired of being the only province in the nation to have never received equalization payments - we'd LOVE to know how it feels to have someone else pay the bills for a while).

So by all means, praise Quebec and B.C. for lowering taxes (partially with our money). Mock our dually elected leaders, and point out every day how the problems in the U.S. are dragging our economy down, and all you want to do is complain that we're not lowering taxes fast enough as a response. The people of Ontario aren't stupid. They know that 40% of the money the feds transfer to the provinces comes from Ontario, and that we only get 25% of those transfers back. They know that we send $20 billion a year to Ottawa that then disappears into the coffers of our neighbours (who, by and large, use it to pay for wonderful services we could never dream of funding in Ontario with what we have left over). They know that we have amongst the lowest per capita spending of any province in the nation, yet are still expected to subsidize our high spending neighbours. What's more, they know all of this and are quite happy for it to continue, so long as you don't piss them off. We're generally Canadians first and Ontarians second, and we're more than happy to do more than our bit.

But you'd best stop poking us.

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Well, the Tories continue to poke the bear...

Now, one might not have expected Flaherty to take my advice and STOP POKING THE BEAR, but this is getting ridiculous. Flaherty might as well be walking around with a sign hung around his neck saying "I'm going after John Tory's job, and I don't care who I have to hurt, or how I have to abuse my position as a Federal Minister to do it".

I'll tell the Harper Tories one more time. We may have put up with being the patsy of Confederation for a long time, (because we in Ontario consider ourselves passionate Canadians first, and "Ontarians" a distant second) but if you insist on rubbing our noses in it (and for blatantly partisan reasons to boot) I'm not sure how much longer we'll take it. I mean, think about why other jurisdictions in Canada can afford lower corporate tax rates while maintaining generally higher levels in per capita spending. In Alberta, the answer is two words: oil and gas. Everywhere else it's a one word answer: EQUALIZATION. Everybody else in Canada gets high spending and low taxes because ALBERTA AND ONTARIO PAY FOR IT. Now, Alberta doesn't mind right now, 'cause they're sitting pretty with oil revenues, and have a government in Ottawa at their beck and call (plus, they remember when they used to RECEIVE equalization, so I'm sure they're happy to return the favour). Ontario on the other hand is the only province in the nation that's never received equalization payments from the rest of the country. NEVER. All we ever do is PAY.

Historically, we've always been more than pleased to do so. The good of the many over the good of the few and all that (though it does appear as though Ontario is counted as "the few" when it's time to pay, and "the many" when it's time to receive) but even our generosity only stretches so far. The people of Ontario have always been willing to be underrepresented in Parliament while shouldering more than their share of the costs of our country's well being. But I'll tell you one thing.

The Feds had best stop poking the bear. That play never ends well for the poker.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ontario: The patsy of Confederation...

So, for a long, LONG time Ontario has been the quiet grizzly bear of confederation. We "Ontarians" don't think of ourselves as "Ontarians" at all, but as Canadians who live in Ontario. We accept equalization, in fact we're proud of our role in it. We accept that urban populations (of which Ontario is largely composed) will be underrepresented in Parliament, and that most of us will have less MP's voicing our concerns on the Hill per capita than people in most other provinces. We're federalists to the core.

However, we're not (in recent years) really all that conservative. And so, it appears, having given up on winning our support, the Harper Tories have decided to start poking at the sleeping bear.

We all remember when Premier McGuinty had the audacity to suggest that perhaps Ontario deserved representation by population in the House of Commons, instead of being underrepresented to the tune of over 20 MPs as we are now, and federal Conservative MP (and "Minister for Democratic Reform"!) called him the "small man of confederation" for even suggesting Ontario deserved fair representation in Ottawa (just keep your mouths shut and keep paying the bills, seemed to be the message). The latest poke is from (of course) Jim Flaherty, whose gone from running around telling people that my province is the "last place he'd invest in" if he were a businessman, to proclaiming that we're on our way to becoming a "have-not province". The last is particularly galling, given that he seems totally unconcerned as to why that might happen (Although, humorously enough, most Ontarians would probably LOVE to become a "have-not" province. As the only province to have never received equalization payments in the history of the program, a lot of folks around here would LOVE to start getting money from the rest of the country for a change!).

Ontario has long been the patsy of Confederation, and frankly, we were all quite happy to do our bit. But the Tories need to begin to realize that one can only poke a sleeping bear for so long.

Think about why Ontario might be struggling now, during this downturn in the economy, and how our citizens might feel about it. Murray Campbell summarizes things nicely in his column in today's Globe, "Is Ontario the patsy because of equalization?". Here's a snippet:

Consider just one fact: Ontario's growth rate in 2008 is estimated to be 1.8 per cent, but the equalization program that is largely funded by Ontario taxpayers will grow at a mandated 3.5 per cent. The scheme, which is directed by Ottawa, has grown from $10.7-billion in 2004-5 to $12.9-billion this year and will continue to grow at 3.5 per cent no matter how well Ontario's economy performs.

How smart is that? Not very, according to David MacKinnon, who believes that Canada's most-populous province is the patsy of Confederation. He believes that the country's "crazy quilt" of regional subsidies (not just equalization) is doing serious harm to Ontario and is also limiting the economic potential of the rest of the country. He believes many provinces have become addicted to Ontario's money and that this addiction has allowed them to build up a level of services they can ill afford. Why, he asks, can Manitoba spend $1.2-billion to subsidize electricity prices while it collects $1.8-billion this year in equalization payments? How can Atlantic Canada, with a population of just two million, afford 15 universities? The answer, he says, is the "tidal wave" of funding it gets from Alberta and from Ontario, whose taxpayers provide 44 per cent of federal revenues.

As MacKinnon points out, Alberta has a bit of a legitimate beef too (though, at least Alberta is paying in to an equalization system they once benefited from, Ontario's never done anything BUT pay) but these days, Alberta gets tax breaks for their wildly successful tar sands, nobody in the federal government would ever DREAM of doing something Alberta looks askance at, while struggling Ontario manufacturers get lectures from the Minister of Finance.

Ontarians have always been proud Canadians, and we've rarely complained that our money is being used to support programs in other provinces that we could never dream of affording here in Ontario (because we're paying for the other provinces' services - electricity rates subsidizing in Manitoba, ridiculously low tuition rates in Quebec, etc... etc... you're welcome by the way).

We in Ontario have always felt that such efforts were appreciated by the rest of the country, and that they knew we were doing our bit, and more (and I'm sure they do). At a certain point though, we're bound to get sick of this recent trend of getting nothing but contempt from the feds.

My advice to the federal Conservatives?

Stop poking the bear.

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Obama treating Americans as adults...

As Jon Stewart pointed out on the Daily Show last night, Barack Obama's speech on race in America yesterday was refreshing in that it showed an American politician speaking to the nation as though they were adults, not petulant children. He talked about race in all it's complexities, including not only the resentment and bitterness still evident in the African American community, but also about the resentment present in the white community. He talked about how these feelings are real, and must be confronted, rather than denied and ignored. He talked about finally having a dialogue and working together to address real feelings, and real inequities. He condemned some of the words of his pastor, without stooping to condemning the man who married him and baptized his children.

Obama (rightly I think) draws a line between condemning a man, and disassociating himself from a man, and condemning a man's words, and disassociating himself from that man's words. Partly, this is because this man has been like family to him over 20 years, and partly (we must admit) it's because condemning Reverend Wright would amount to sticking his finger in the eye of a large swath of the African American population (who, by and large, were not at all shocked to hear a black preacher speak that way). As Obama said, the most segregated hour in America is on Sunday morning. So, it is in that spirit of honest debate (rather than a partisan "tit for tat" or counter attack) that I ask how we all think John McCain should react to quotes like these:

"AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh's charioteers ... AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals." - Jerry Falwell

"Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history." –Pat Robertson

"The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this (the 9/11 attacks) because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this (the 9/11 attacks) happen.'" Jerry Falwell

"Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up" –Pat Robertson, on nuking the State Department
How do we feel about these quotes as opposed to the quotes by Barack Obama's pastor? How would we expect John McCain to react to these quotes? Would we expect McCain's reaction to be any different if he had a twenty year relationship with Robertson? If Jerry Falwell had presided over his wedding, or baptized his children? If his supporters pointed out that many white people hear this sort of thing in churches across America all the time?

For equal treatment, here's the worst of Reverend Wright's comments, imho. I think most of his comments, taken in context, aren't nearly as bad as the sound bites make one think, but this one's pretty bad:
"The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color".
Thoughts?

Let's have a discussion.

(UPDATE: Sorry, forgot to add the links for where I got the quotes. Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson Jeremiah Wright).

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On Obama's speech and the right's hypocricy...

Here's and excellent article by Frank Schaeffer on the words of Obama's minister and the hypocrisy of right wing white America's reaction to them.

Here's a snippet:

We Republican agitators of the mid 1970s to the late 1980s were genuinely anti-American in the same spirit that later Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson (both followers of my father) were anti-American when they said God had removed his blessing from America on 9/11, because America accepted gays. Falwell and Robertson recanted but we never did.

My dad's books denouncing America and comparing the USA to Hitler are still best sellers in the "respectable" evangelical community and he's still hailed as a prophet by many Republican leaders. When Mike Huckabee was recently asked by Katie Couric to name one book he'd take with him to a desert island, besides the Bible, he named Dad's Whatever Happened to the Human Race? a book where Dad also compared America to Hitler's Germany.

The hypocrisy of the right denouncing Obama, because of his minister's words, is staggering. They are the same people who argue for the right to "bear arms" as "insurance" to limit government power. They are the same people that (in the early 1980s roared and cheered when I called down damnation on America as "fallen away from God" at their national meetings where I was keynote speaker, including the annual meeting of the ultraconservative Southern Baptist convention, and the religious broadcasters that I addressed.

Today we have a marriage of convenience between the right wing fundamentalists who hate Obama, and the "progressive" Clintons who are playing the race card through their own smear machine. As Jane Smiley writes in the Huffington Post "[The Clinton's] are, indeed, now part of the 'vast right wing conspiracy.' (LINK )

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Quick Quiz...

Which of the following articles and columns makes Harper and the Tories look good?


Gomery Blasts Tory Government

"Witch Hunt" comment reduces parliamentary committee to chaos

Harper launches suit over Cadman affair

Jittery MPs fleeing from a ghost


If you answered "None of the above", congratulations!

You're totally right.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Free Brenda Martin.

I hope all bloggers on all sides of the political spectrum will put aside our petty navel gaxing and do something, anything, to help a fellow Canadian in need.

Free Brenda Martin

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Free Brenda Martin...

I mean, honestly, what the Hell is up with Mexico these days???

I'd sooner vacation in Iran for God's sake.

Free Brenda Martin.

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Canadian Brenda Martin still languishing in a Mexican jail...

If you haven't heard the story of Brenda Martin yet you need to read about it. And get mad. Mad at Mexico, yes. Almost more importantly, mad at the Canadian government, and our apparently useless Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Helena Guergis.

I'd recommend you all stay the Hell out of Mexico, but with people like Guergis advocating for mistreated Canadians abroad I wouldn't leave the country to go ANYWHERE if I were you.

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Obama wins Mississippi and Texas...

So, it's not at all surprising that Barak Obama won Mississippi last night. However, it's also important to point out that the caucus race in Texas has now been called by CNN, and Obama will win Texas outright as well.

That's right. For all you've heard since last Tuesday about Senator Clinton's "big win" in Texas, when all is said and done there will be 99 Texas delegates at the convention for Obama, and only 94 for Clinton.

One wonders who's really the eternal "pie in the sky" optimist in this campaign - the person in the lead, or the person who claims a 5 delegate deficit as a major victory.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Controversy over Madonna's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame....

So, Madonna is set to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I am of two minds on this. First, let's set aside the obvious "Madonna isn't 'rock and roll'" argument. This is a straw man now given the Hall's history. If this is your argument against Madonna I won't say it isn't valid, it does have validity, but that battle was lost a long, LONG time ago.

First of all, there are some "purists" who would argue that REM (2007), Blondie (2006) or Michael Jackson (2001) aren't "rock and roll". Even for "purists" it would surely be difficult in the modern era to draw the line between "rock" and other genres. However, it's quite clear that the Hall of Fame is using a very loose definition of "Rock and Roll" and has been for some time. I don't think
anyone could convincingly argue that Grandmaster Flash or Miles Davis are "rock and roll" but both of them are in the Hall. You can't say Madonna shouldn't be let in because her music "isn't rock" once you've already let in Miles Davis and Grandmaster Flash (well, you can of course, and more power to you, but that battle's long since lost).

So then, I think of Madonna's impact on popular music, and popular culture, and I figure, sure, of course she should get in. No brainer (given the elimination of argument #1 above). Totally deserved, and I have no problem with it (don't get me started on John Mellencamp though...)

HOWEVER, then I read the list of some of the people still waiting to get in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Deep Purple, Steve Miller, Alice Cooper...

I mean, ALICE FREAKING COOPER for God's sake!!!

So, all told, my instinct is to say that Madonna is more than deserving of being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, especially given their broad definition of "rock and roll", and considering that I'd put Madonna up there with a Michael Jackson, who's influence is such that even if they're not "rock" they probably deserve admission. Furthermore, given past precedent, it's not at all shocking that she's getting in. Not remotely. There's an argument for keeping Madonna out of the ROCK AND ROLL Hall of Fame. Surely that line was crossed back in 2000 though when Bonnie Raitt was inducted, wasn't it? (and, arguably earlier). That bridge is crossed, so I choose to live in the now.

What IS shocking though is that Deep Purple and Alice Cooper (ALICE FREAKING COOPER!!!) are not in yet. Steve Miller not being in shocks me too, and there are more still that probably would shock me as well. However, I'm not going to get too bent out of shape over an (in my mind) eminently qualified performer like Madonna getting in. It's not undeserved, imho, and I won't hold Madonna responsible for the sins of the induction committee.

Still...

ALICE FREAKING COOPER!!!!!

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Friday, March 07, 2008

If you're having fun watching the Democratic nomination process down south....

... you simply MUST check out Slate.com's Delegate Counter.

It let's you put in whatever hypothetical vote percentages for Clinton and Obama in the States between now and June, and shows you how the pledged delegates in those states would likely come out if those vote totals were real.

The bad news for Clinton supporters? According to the counter, if Mrs. Clinton wins EVERY SINGLE state (and Puerto Rico) between now and June 7th by an improbable margin of 60-40 (that's wins EVERY contest 60% to 40%) the pledged delegate count will be:

1613 for Obama
1596 for Clinton

Now there's NO WAY Mrs. Clinton will do that well. No way!!! So her only hope in Hell, it seems to me, is for the superdelegates to decide to give the nomination to the candidate who won fewer pledged delegates in the actual voting.

I just don't see that happening.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Bill Gates no longer the world's richest person...

The King is dead.

Long live the King.

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As the (apparently futile) attempt to impose libel chill on the Official Opposition continues...

Some of Canada's media would like Mr. Harper to answer a few questions.

Both the Globe and Mail and CTV have a list of six questions that Harper and the Tories stubbornly refuse to answer about this whole incident (maybe they're too busy consulting with lawyers to find out if they can sue the G&M and CTV for daring to ask such questions!). The papers have two different sets of 6 questions, for a total of 9 unanswered questions.

The questions are:

1. Did anyone from the Conservative Party, or connected to the Tories, at any time offer Mr. Cadman financial remuneration if he would vote against the Liberal budget in 2005?

2. What did Stephen Harper mean when he said in a 2005 interview that "an offer" that included "financial considerations" was made to Cadman?

3. Why did the Prime Minister's Office and the Conservatives first deny an offer had been made to Cadman, only to later say a repayable loan was offered?

4. If Tom Flanagan and Doug Finley offered Mr. Cadman a repayable loan to help with his election expenses, what was the amount and what were the terms of repayment?

5. Why would the Conservatives have been offering Mr. Cadman the chance to run as a Conservative in Surrey North when a candidate had already been nominated in that riding and Mr. Cadman was dying of cancer?

6. Why, when asked about the offer of a $1-million insurance policy for Dona Cadman during a 2005 interview with a B.C. journalist, did Stephen Harper reply that he did not know the details but that "it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election?"

7. What did Mr. Harper mean when he said in that same interview: "I told them they were wasting their time. I said Chuck had made up his mind he was going to vote with the Liberals." Does that not mean that the offer was in exchange for a vote?

8. Why didn't Harper reveal last week that he told Dona Cadman more than two years ago that he didn't know about the alleged life-insurance offer?

9. What motivation would Dona Cadman, now a Tory candidate in her husband's former riding, have to fabricate a story about a life insurance offer?

I imagine if the Tories choose to continue to ignore these questions they'll come up eventually in a place where they can't avoid answering them. Such as, for example, that court room Mr. Harper seems so intent on meeting Mr. Dion et al in. Mr. Harper does know that if this goes to court he's not the only one who gets to ask questions, doesn't he?

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Don't call it a comeback...

(With apologies to LL Cool J).

Hillary Clinton's Primary wins in Texas and Ohio yesterday were (I suppose) impressive, but I'm not sure they deserve quite the accolades that all the "comeback" news would suggest. It tells me just how badly Mrs. Clinton was doing in this race that these wins are being touted so highly.

It wasn't long ago that Mrs. Clinton had a 20 point lead over Obama in Texas. The primary last night was so close that they hadn't called it yet before I went to bed. And the caucuses are closer still, with every possibility that Obama could end up winning them (67 Texas delegates are apportioned by the caucuses). Not long ago, Texas and Ohio were absolute locks for Clinton, and even her husband said she needed to win both to win the nomination. This morning, it's as though this is some unexpected miracle.

Most importantly, just where does the delegate race stand after Mrs. Clinton's remarkable "comeback"?

Obama: 1541
Clinton: 1438


And that's without the Texas caucus delegates.

Now, clearly these are big wins for Mrs. Clinton. After losing 12 primaries in a row, she could hardly afford to lose either Texas or Ohio. But she's still losing, and the margin between her and Obama in the delegate count is still skewed in her favour due to the number of "super delegates" who are supporting her despite their constituents voting to support Obama. If all we were counting was the voters, Obama's lead would be more substantial.

This is how I see this comeback (if you'll forgive the baseball analogy). Mrs. Clinton's home team was losing 12-0 in the bottom of the 7th inning. They staged a rally that some even called "a comeback" and now, it's the top of the 8th inning, and her team is losing 12-11.

Don't call it a comeback, until she comes back.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Will the Tories and Harper go 0 for 2 on libel suits...

The last time the Tories were involved in a libel suit they were forced to settle out of court. It involved Allan Riddel to whom the Tories had promised $50,000 to step aside as the nominated candidate in his riding in favour of their preferred candidate Allan Cutler.

Of course, this $50,000 payment to Riddel wasn't a "bribe", it was simply financial considerations to make up for loses he incurred in securing the nomination in the first place. The $50,000 payment therefore being completely legitimate... (sorry for the delay... I think I just threw up in my mouth a little...) the problem really came when Stephen Harper, not once, but twice proclaimed that "in fact, there is no agreement and he hasn't been paid anything". This was news to Mr. Riddel, who knew he DID have an agreement for a $50,000 payment to step aside. Later, the courts found that he absolutely DID have such an agreement, and ordered the CPC to pay him his $50,000 (Mr. Ridell also sued Mr. Harper and others for libel for claiming that they never agreed to any payment, when they clearly had, and that suit was eventually settled out of court).

I don't know if this is an asset or a liability for Mr. Harper, but it does seem as though some Tory operatives are out there offering various people "financial considerations" for this, that or the other thing, and no one seems to be telling Mr. Harper that it's going on (that is if we ignore taped conversations in which Mr. Harper comes right out and SAYS he knows that is). If you're the leader of a political party, and members of your party are offering "financial considerations" to people without your knowledge (again, we'll humour the Tories and IGNORE THE TAPE) is this an advantage or a disadvantage? What's worse? That money's being tossed around without you knowing, or that money's being tossed around without you knowing? And what happens if an audio tape surfaces that shows that, even if you didn't know the details, you certainly knew that financial offers were being discussed by people "legitimately representing the party"?

I could perhaps be convinced that on two separate occasions members of the Tory party made financial offers to prominent people and that Mr. Harper had no idea it was going on (I'll play along with Mr. Harper's Oz-like pay no attention to the tape hypnosis). Does it make me feel better, convincing myself that Mr. Harper had no idea this all was going on? Not really.

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Great article on the current state of the Cadman controversy...

Don Martin writes a great piece in the National Post today on the Cadman Controversy, and how it's the Prime Minister himself who is doing the most damage to his own reputation by basically ignoring the fact that there is an audio tape of him saying some very uncomfortable things.

If you haven't read one of the fuller transcripts of Mr. Harper's taped interview, you definitely should!

Here are the bits (of his own words) that Mr. Harper really needs to explain:

"No, no, they were legitimately representing the party. I said don't press him. I mean, you have this theory that it's, you know, financial insecurity and, you know, just, you know, if that's what you're saying, make that case but don't press it."

and

"the offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election"

emphasis added

How do either of these statements square with Mr. Harper's current contention that he had no idea such an offer was made? Maybe he didn't know the precise details of what "financial considerations" were going to be offered, and in what form but he has stated in his own words that he knew there was a theory that Mr. Cadman's reluctance to force an election was based upon his "financial insecurity" and (again, in his own words) he has said, on tape, that he told members of his party who were "legitimately representing the party" to "make the case, but don't press it". So, what's the worse scenario? That the PM knew there was a financial offer being made to Mr. Cadman and is being disingenuous about his supposed ignorance after the fact, or this notion that he knew that people "legitimately representing the party" were going to make a financial offer to Mr. Cadman, but what he didn't know (or care?) waswhat form that offer would take?

To me, the tape sounds not at all like a man concerned that perhaps offering a sitting MP "financial considerations" in regard to his vote is unethical (or illegal) but of a man concerned that someone like Chuck Cadman might just drop kick someone out of his office for making such an offer. He doesn't, it's true, appear concerned that this is effectively an offer of a bribe. He DOES seem concerned that Mr. Cadman will perceive it as a bribe. In Harper's words "make the case, but don't press it". In other words, "see if he'll accept "financial considerations" to compensate him for the effect of his vote on his own financial situation, but don't let him get mad about our attempt to give him these "considerations". Well, everything we've read suggests that perhaps those men who were "
legitimately representing the party" did press Mr. Cadman too hard, because no less than three members of his family have recounted three separate occasions in which Mr. Cadman expressed how angry the offer made him.

Also, as Jim Bobby points out, even if Harper didn't know about the offer when it was made (which seems to contradict his own recorded words above, but we'll leave that aside for the moment) he CERTAINLY knew about it 2 1/2 years ago, when Dona Cadman asked him about it. She looked him right in the eye and asked him about it. Now, Mrs. Cadman apparently believed the PM when he told her he didn't know about a financial offer being made (this contradicts his own words on tape, but we'll leave that aside, again) So, as before, let's take Mrs. Cadman at her word, and also assume that she's an astute judge of character and really did "see in his eyes" that Mr. Harper was telling the truth when he said this allegation was all news to him (again, this all works best if you pretend that pesky audio tape doesn't exist). So, the PM didn't know at the time that members of his party made offers of "financial considerations" to try to convince Mr. Cadman to vote with the Tories (remember, we're ignoring the taped conversation where he says he did know). Fine. Now, what did Mr. Harper do when he found out from Mrs. Cadman that this had indeed happened??? When she told him it had happened, Mrs. Cadman was satisfied that it was all news to Mr. Harper. I wonder, was she equally satisfied with his response to the news?

Did he even have a response?

Again, there are a lot of questions here, and as Don Martin points out, the PM isn't help by the tendency thus far of "Mr. Harper
and his scripted sidekicks [to] keep up their Oz-like pay-no-attention-to-that-tape behaviour". Pretending the tape doesn't exist might SEEM like a good idea, but the Tories seem to have forgotten one thing.

Eventually, Dorothy looked behind the curtain.

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