Sunday, November 30, 2008

Can someone explain to me

How the Conservatives expect that taping private phone messages and releasing them to Tory Pravda is going to lessen the NDP/Bloc resolve to bring down their government?Recommend this Post

The Field Of Coalition

"The Captains bowed their heads; and when they looked up again, behold! their enemies were flying and the power of Mordor was scattering like dust in the wind. As when death smites the swollen brooding thing that inhabits their crawling hill and holds them in their sway, ants will wander witless and purposeless and then feebly die, so the creatures of Sauron, orc or troll or beast spell-enslaved, ran hither and thither mindless and slew themselves, or cast themselves in pits, or fled wailing back to hide in holes and dark lightless places far from hope. But the Men of Rhu^n and of Harad, Easterling and Southron, saw the ruin of their war and the great majesty and glory of the Captains of the West . And those that were deepest and longest in evil servitude, hating the West, and yet were men proud and bold, in their turn now gathered themselves for a last stand of desperate battle. But for the most part fled eastward as they could; and some cast their weapons down and sued for mercy."

The Field of Cormallen

The Return Of The King pg. 270-271.

J. R. R. Tolkien
Recommend this Post

If Paul Wells is right

Then Harper is in bigger trouble than I thought.

Now that the party fundraisng poison pill has been withdrawn, the crux of the justification for a coalition government is the value of the "stimulus" portion of the economic update. If the consensus of the countries economists is that this is entirely the wrong way to go, Harper has lost his last vestige of authority on public policy.

If he brings forward a realistic stimulus package now, he is shown to have played ideological games with the economy and petty partisan games with the opposition.

If he stands behind the update he has been shown to be incompetent in handling this crisis.

Either way he has to go.Recommend this Post

Saturday, November 29, 2008

On proroguing Parliament

If it weren't for the delaying impact on the needed stimulus, I would welcome seeing Harper do this. It would be a fitting ending to his cowardly unwillingness to face the music.

The only other bad thing is that I am running out of clips from the Holy Grail citing the urge to "Run Away".Recommend this Post

I almost feel sorry for Harper


The knives come out quickly don't they? The media doesn't get this if someone doesn't leak it. This wouldn't happen under the message control days when Harper still had the iron grip. It really is a shame he is losing his grip.

Update: This is all unfolding so fast it is unbelievable. Now there are rebels coming out of the woodwork.

Stetson tip to Ms. Hussey.Recommend this Post

Some inspirational poetry for all the coalitionists out there

The events of the last few days reminded me of a poem my parents taught us. It speaks of the victory by outnumbered forces over a would be tyrant. The Scots English may be a struggle but it is worth a read.

Robert Bruce's March to Bannockburn

    SCOTS, what hae wi' Wallace bled,
    Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
    Welcome to your gory bed,
    Or to victorie!

    Now's the day, and now's the hour;
    See the front o' battle lour;
    See approach proud Edward's power --
    Chains and slaverie!

    Wha will be a traitor knave?
    Wha can fill a coward's grave?
    Wha sae base as be a slave?
    Let him turn and flee!

    Wha, for Scotland's King and Law,
    Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
    Free-man stand, or Free-man fa',
    Let him on wi' me!

    By Oppression's woes and pains!
    By your sons in servile chains!
    We sill drain our dearest veins,
    But they shall be free!

    Lay the proud Usurpers low!
    Tyrants fall in every foe!
    Liberty's in every blow!
    Let us do or die!
    Robert Burns
Recommend this Post

On western based protest parties

As a native born Calgarian, I have noticed that as a whole, westerners can tend to be big time whiners. This tendency to feel put upon and carry a grudge explains the predilection for protest parties. Since the power centres have historically been in the earlier settled eastern cities; attacks against Toronto and Montreal have always been popular.

Let me give you an example of western whining.

As a blogger, I have noticed that Far and Wide, Impolitical and other eastern bloggers always get to the juicy stories a couple of hours earlier than I can. This is UNFAIR! I PROTEST!

I demand that on weekdays the government postpone posting to blogs by easterners by two hours so I have an equal shot at the news. And on weekends, they can't post anything till 11:00 AM EST so I can sleep in and make my latte' (of course I drink them) before going to the computer.

If they won't it is another sign that Canada doesn't work and the federal government operates with a Central Canadian bias! I will be forced to form a protest party. As soon as I can think of a catchy name. The party Preston Manning started has used up so many of the available ones.Recommend this Post

This isn't a strategic retreat

This is full fledged case of RUN AWAY! (No link yet but the Cons have pulled any mention of the political funding from the update - CBC Radio One news at 3 P.M. MST)

Harper just saw the beginnings of a caucus revolt on the horizon.

Update: I meant to add that sending out Baird to announce it is more evidence of how big a coward the Toom Tabard is. Like we need more.Recommend this Post

I'm (not) ready for my close-up Mr. DeHarper

So the faithful and the crazies have been given their script have they? These bad actors have been unable to use similar talking points to convince Canadians with a wind at their back comprised of a believe in Director Harper,a sense of imminent victory and "more money than god".

I wonder how convincing they will be now that the Konservative Kool-Aid appears to have been diluted?

Stetson tip to all the other bloggers who hit this one before I did. I just posted this because I like the analogy.Recommend this Post

Friday, November 28, 2008

That wasn't a blink

There were a lot of posts exclaiming variations on "Harper blinks!". As much as I hate to appear pedantic, this isn't a blink. That was running away in an absolute armour soiling panic.

Which provides a nice segue for this

I know I used this once already this week but it is so apropos.

Have a great Friday night. I expect it will be better than Brave Sir Stephen.'s.Recommend this Post

I'm feeling pretty chuffed right now

After reading this post by The KD, I couldn't resist contrasting a couple of segments with two of my previous posts.

Copied from Ms. O' Malley's blog:

"The Liberal Opposition plans to introduce a motion in the House of Commons on Monday declaring non-confidence in the minority Conservative government and proposing a governing coalition.

The motion comes as emissaries from the Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois hold talks about forming a new government should Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minority fall.

But Harper could still avert the immediate defeat of his weeks-old government through procedural tactics.
The Liberal motion, which has the approval of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois, reads:

“In light of the government’s failure to recognize the seriousness of Canada’s economic situation and its failure in particular to present any credible plan to stimulate the Canadian economy and to help workers and businesses in hard-pressed sectors such as manufacturing, the automotive industry and forestry, this House has lost confidence in this government and is of the opinion that a viable alternative government can be formed within the present House of Commons.”

A source says the opposition parties have agreed that Liberal Leader Stephane Dion would lead the government for the next few months."

Not exactly as I predicted but pretty close, IMVHO.Recommend this Post

Turnaround is fair play

Lots going on today. So many interesting events have been unfolding very fast. The political permutations are fascinating to say the least. It would seem like too much to ask for a coalition government to replace the Conservatives followed by Harper being turned on like Scar by the hyenas at the end of The Lion King.

Regardless as to whether or not we see such an inspiring ending, the table has turned on Grand Master Stefan Harperov. The benefits of this tactical error include:
  1. The media has turned on him. A quick count of the National Newswatch editorial section puts it at 10 variants of Harper is a tool vs. 2 I love Steve more than evers.
  2. The Opposition has risen off the mat and has seen that like all true bullies, he will back down.
  3. There will be several more cracks between Harper and his caucus and base. These openings can be levered wide open with the right attacks.
They have the go ahead goal. Now is the time to add the insurance marker. A key to the Opposition is to find a strategy to neutralize any counter-attacks based on the premise that the Opposition is only concerned about feeding off the government. Here is my proposal:
  1. Announce an alternative fiscal update based on an active stimulus package comparable to the 2% of GDP recommended by the IMF. Indicate that an incremental stimulus may be added if the Americans have a more lucrative package for their economy. State support for the auto sector contingent on "Greening" the industry. Invest in infrastructure. Make a point of ditching the removal of right to strike and the other hateful componenets of Flaherty's travesty. The key move is to establish the sincerity of the effort to help people.
  2. Make a separate and subsequent announcement that the Coalition agrees with the general concept of the political parties sharing the economic pain but remains committed to federal financing of the parties as the most democratic path to political party funding. Propose that the current $1.95/vote remains in place. To make up the difference, remove the 75% tax credit for political donations. Thanks to Steve V at Far And Wide, we have the latest fundraisng figures. If the tax refund is calculated and annualized, we see that the number is over $30,000,000. Keep in mind this does not include the Bloc, Greens or other parties. This will hurt the Conservatives far more than the other parties and be acceptable to the coalition.

Then sit back and enjoy a serving of cold revenge.Recommend this Post

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A sign Harper is on the downslope of his media trajectory

While I believe the overall trend on MacLean's is quite right wing, I do not believe this applies to Paul Wells (or his Blackberry adroit colleague, Kady O' Malley). He crucifies members of every party equally.

But his latest blog post (Harper’s new tack: change you can’t believe in) is a great example of a subtle phenomenon that occurs when a political personality has reached his best before date. You start to see unflattering images of him/her in the press and highly critical editorials written about him (granted as Mr. Wells points out in the comments this is akin to an earlier post he has written but the tenor is a smidge different).

You can bet the Harpoids aren't happy about that photo. And the descriptions he uses! Lord a goshen, it is almost like he thinks Steve is an incompetent. There are too many body slams to make it worth while to extract quotes.

Key an eye on this. It may be a sign that the defunding gambit marked the apogee of the media love affair with Harper.

At least, we can always hope :).Recommend this Post

Vote results

87% of those who voted (admittedly it was only 8. But as we all know, low voter turnout is not a reason to invalidate results) on the proposed motion to go before the House went for the Yes side.

I wonder who the lone No voter was?Recommend this Post

On one of the reasons given why the Liberals can't oppose the party defunding gambit

Almost every editorial I have read on Harper's odious attempt to disable all opposition to his reign has pointed to the Liberals current preoccupation with a leadership campaign as an impediment to their opposing this tripe.

Back on October 20, I anticipated that at some point the Harper reach would exceed his grasp and the current Parliament would be faced with this sort of Götterdämmerung ending.

You are, of course, welcome to read the whole post but the key point is; in 1980 the Liberals were in the midst of a leadership campaign when an election started.

Now, without using the internet, I expect most political types can remember who won that election. How many can remember who the candidates were in the leadership contest?Recommend this Post

Is Stevie related to Sir Robin?

Norman Spector poses an interesting scenario. (h/t Red Tory)

..."the question must be asked: Is the economic prognosis for Canada so bad that Mr. Harper has concluded that it's better to be in opposition than to be in power with a minority government at this time?"

Seems like the kind of thing a Toom Tabard would do. When you are a Hollow Man, you turn and flee at the first time of real trouble. You preoccupy yourself with petty strategies.rather than face an issue you are not up to.

Time to bring in the grown-ups.

At the very least it is a good excuse for the following. Because I love the sound of Python in the morning.

Recommend this Post

A question for all the followers of Hayek and Friedman

Yeah, I looking at you Steve.

Tonda MacCharles' article in The Star yesterday (PM's thinking shifts with times); raises further questions.

Such as:

"If at the first time you face a major crisis you are forced to abandon your economic philosophy does that not mean your economic philosophy is bollocks?"

Discuss. Please display more rigorous thought than is required to be demonstrated for a University of Calgary MA in economics. Those don't cut it in the real world.Recommend this Post

Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day

Barbara Yaffe.

She pick a bad time for a puff piece based on these "thoughts" (My highlights in bold):

"As his government prepares to table a critical fiscal update today, Stephen Harper is looking as though he has come into his prime.

The PM, fresh from a second election win last month, has been confronting the challenge of a Canadian recession and looming deficits with a surprising air of maturity and confidence. "

(How do you reconcile this with his inaction on the whole recession file thing there, Barb?(

"The new image is in sharp contrast to Harper's past political demeanour, widely criticized as petty, nasty and excessively partisan."..."

(And just how is a gambit aimed at gutting the opposition not petty, nasty and excessively partisan?)

"But the fiscal crisis has well-served him in another way. It has forced his government to abandon policy matters that were divisive: cuts to culture funding, proposals to incarcerate 14-year-old offenders, withdrawing support from Vancouver's Insite program." ...

(What evidence do you have that he has abandoned these wedge issues?)

"The Harper team is well-suited to an exclusive economic preoccupation. Its economic ministers -- caucus members such as Jim Flaherty, Tony Clement and Jim Prentice -- are among his strongest performers.

(To be fair it is a relative statement. More a comment on the capacity of the other mouth breathers in his caucus.)

"Flaherty in particular has put in a strong performance since the October election."

Come again?

Truly a worthy winner of today's award.Recommend this Post

A proposal for a motion to go before the House of Commons

"Be it resolved that the Government has lost the confidence of the House Of Commons due to:
  1. its incompetence in managing the current economic crisis,
  2. its inability or unwillingness to develop stimulus programs and
  3. its indulging in partisan political strategies during this crisis.
The Opposition is ready, willing and able to present to the Governor General a plan to form a government focussed on the needs of the Canadian people and the economy."

There is a voting button on this motion above the post. Have at. The results could be interesting. Or maybe, predictable.

Long live a free and democratic Canada!Recommend this Post

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Conservative response to the crisis is all about politics

One of the few concrete proposals to emerge from hiding so far is a plan to cut the per vote payment to the political parties.

The official video-stenographer of the Conservative Party has the details:

"Under the new proposal, this is how much the parties stand to lose:

  • Conservatives: $10 million
  • Liberals: $7.7 million
  • NDP: $4.9 million
  • Bloc Quebecois: $2.6 million
  • Green Party: $1.8 million"
This is all about defunding the opposition parties. The Conservatives are flush from the proceeds of fleecing the true blue-lievers $25 at a time. This will have much less of an effect on them than the opposition. So while people are losing their jobs and the economy is tanking all these guys can think about is how to manuevre to solidify their power.

Recommend this Post

A passionate plea from Minnesota

For those of you who don't follow Pharyngula, a blog by PZ Meyers, a Biology Professor in Minnesota and strong opponent of "Intelligent Design", other facades for Creationism and general religious stupidity, I have provided a link to his post pleading with us to stop following the path that the Americans have turned their backs on.

Fear not PZ; like the rest of Harper's cabinet Goodyear will fall flat on his face. When Harper cans him in the cause of political expediency it will result one more of the ropes tying him to his base being cut.Recommend this Post

Harper takes us for a ride

More evidence today that Harper intends on using the economic crisis as a pretext for taking us on a bobsleigh ride to a neo-liberal fantasia. In The Star, Tonda MacCharles interviews Harper's mentors as a guide to just how genuine any assistance Harper will offer to the economy and how much is playing politics (my highlights in bold).

"If there's an evolution in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's thinking, those who know him well warn no one should now mistake it for a permanent conversion.

"He is still an economic conservative at heart," says professor Frank Atkins of the University of Calgary. "But he's a pragmatic politician."

Atkins trained Harper, an economist who long ago embraced classic liberalism, the doctrine that free markets work best with minimal interference from the state."...

"No, no, no, no. He's not discovered John Maynard Keynes," Atkins says, referring to the 20th-century economist, and adding that Harper's thesis was "adamantly anti-Keynesian thought."...

Crowley believes Harper remains "a fiscal conservative."

He puts Harper in the "Austrian school" of economic thinking, which featured Friedrich Hayek as the great adversary of John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s and '40s. Harper spent a lot of his university years reading Hayek, says Crowley.

"He's a Hayek fan."

Fundamentally, Harper favours markets over government intervention, deregulation over increased government programming or economic regulation, lower taxes over more government activity and balanced budgets over deficits.

And what does the Toom Tabard have as a plan to stimulate the economy? Leakage to the media indicates are that it includes such breathtaking measures as :

The Harper government will pare tens of millions of dollars from travel budgets and MP salary costs and impose other austerity measures tomorrow in an effort to demonstrate to main street Canada that MPs aren't immune from the spreading economic pain.

Big whoop. Tens of millions in political window dressing while Obama is talking about spending billions to stimulate the American economy.

Economists are universal in their agreement that any stimulus package should include significant spending on roads, broadband cable lines and other infrastructure programs.

Stimulus could also come in the form of a temporary reduction in the goods and services tax.

When Sorcerer's Apprentices proposed their first GST cut, it was pointed out there there is little actual stimulative effect by a cut in consumption taxes. What this will do is push the government even further into deficit. It was a reduction in the GST combined with the largest spending increases in Canadian history that erased the surplus and pushed Canada into deficit regardless of the economic climate. This effect will be exacerbated during a period of falling consumption and thereby falling government revenues.

If Harper cuts the GST it will create an even larger deficit than is necessary. Requiring larger cuts and more firesales of government assets. And on it goes.

As demonstrated during the Bush II nightmare, these goons are a two headed monster. They use political sleight of hand and spin to try and convince people they are working to solve problems while they simulataneously advance the wrong headed dogma that created the problems in the first place. No amount of bad news or argument will dissuade them from this course. The only way to progress in the fight against the on-rushing calamity is to remove these fools from office.

For almost a decade, American politicians were unable to rid their country of their cancer in the political system due to the difficulties of acheiving an impeachment. Now the people have done it for the politicians and in less than 2 months, a new era will dawn.

Canadian MPs have the tools at their disposal. If the Conservative economic update continues on the path of disaster federalism, they can and must bring down the government and demonstrate to the Governor General that they can form a government themselves. This is the only way for a stimulus pacakage to be proposed that actually seeks to address the problems we are facing.Recommend this Post

Blog boo-boo fixed

Due to a maladroit move on my part, Progressive Bloggers had been using the Constant Vigilance blogonym as the tag at the bottom of the posts gathered from my blog. Scott did me a favour and and fixed this so the tag now has the correct name. This should help clear up any confusion when people are looking at the blog name in the Best New Blog and Best Political Blog categories.

BTW, a big shout out to who ever was kind enough to think of nominating the blog for the awards. Thank you.Recommend this Post

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two letters in a name make all the difference

The Reform Party's Eminence Grease has been in the Globe a lot lately dispensing his unctuous tripe about destroying the Liberals a la' mode Punic, subverting the country that has given him a home and career in pursuit of his ludicrous ideology. Whenever his name does come up it makes me think I have heard it in a different context.,

Then while I was walking the dog, I realized that it wasn't Tom Flanagan. It was Tommy Flanagan.

Repeat after Tommy. "And then I destroyed the Liberals. Yeah that the ticket. And then I married Morgan Fairchild. And then I told Steve to create a deficit. And use that as an excuse to strip away the social contract of Canada. Yeah that's it."

The SNL version was funnier.Recommend this Post

Deficit Jim and Toom Tabard say it without using the bad words

People around the world have an amazing array of ways to tell people to f**k off without actually using those words. For an example, check out this link.

If you are an emotionally stinted, out of your depth, incompetent economist cum Prime Minister and his stooge you tell people worried about their future to eff off this way.

(My highlights in bold text).

"Canadians will have to wait until the next federal budget before Ottawa delivers what Prime Minister Stephen Harper said could be an "unprecedented" fiscal stimulus package - a delay economists say the country can ill afford."

Why would he wait one wonders. Incompetence perhaps? All the signs are there for a case to be made. Or ideology. for those who have truly pledged their troth to the dogma of Friedman, a calamity is the perfect time to bring about radical change.

"Separately, in Toronto, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty played down expectations that Thursday's economic update will offer much more than a revised outlook for finances.

He acknowledged, however, that Canada could well be in a recession by the end of the next quarter."

Since a recession is defined as 2 quarters of negative economic growth, by the time Deficit Jim and Brainiac Steve pronounce that we are in a recession, Canadians will have been dealing with the effects for at least 6 months. Even longer if you take the view that we are already in one into account.

So while people are looking at financial ruin, the empty coats in Ottawa are either like deer in the headlights of an oncoming economic semi or determined to subject us to an experiment with horrendous consequences.

As always, tory times are hard times. Does anyone know if you can make Bennett Buggies out of SUVs?Recommend this Post

Monday, November 24, 2008

Interesting recommendations on improving the PBO

If the Harper government has done anything right it was the establishment of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Situational irony being what it is, Toom Tabard probably wishes he hadn't brought it about. Kevin Page has only made one report and already there are proposals on how we can improve this service. The proposals make sense to me.

"The government of Canada's archaic system of silos and obsolete, contradictory measurement methodologies ensures that an accurate and complete costing of public policies is unknown by citizens, media and scholars and -- more frighteningly -- by our parliamentarians, who have been entrusted by the Canadian people to make responsible public policy decisions."

From silos you get silage and we all know what that smells like.

Three actions must be taken to ensure transparency, accountability and legitimacy of public policy:

1) Parliament must ensure that the Speaker supports -- not thwarts -- the will of parliamentarians and Canadians by announcing support for an independent PBO;

2) The government must amend the Accountability Act to establish the PBO as an independent officer of Parliament outside the sphere of control of the Speaker or the Parliamentary Library or any government agency;

3) Parliament must adequately resource the PBO so that it can undertake exhaustive, empirical, rigorous costing analysis of major public policies such as the Afghan war.

Direct accountability across departments. Makes sense to me.

Recommend this Post

Today's baby step towards redemption

Joan Bryden has an article which takes the top off the outermost petruska doll that is Harper's management of the economy. She didn't quite call it Disaster Federalism but the elements are laid out nicely.

It gets off to a good start:

"Opposition parties fear the Harper government intends to use the global economic crisis as an excuse to carry out ideologically-driven spending cuts. "

And Tom Flanagan can't help but blurt out:

"I'm hopeful there will be some ideologically-driven, neo-conservative cuts to government," political scientist Tom Flanagan, a former chief of staff to Harper, said in an interview.

Such cuts, he added, would be consistent with Harper's long-term goal of reducing the size and scope of government.

"I think that's always been sort of the long-term plan, the way that Stephen was going about it of first depriving the government of surpluses through cutting taxes . . . You get rid of the surpluses and then it makes it easier to make some expenditure reductions."

(My highlights in bold.)

Edmund Burke famously said: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Perhaps Canada, as a distinct political experiment, requires a slightly different version. I propose: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men take part in the folly of leadership races and votes against throne speeches."Recommend this Post

Are those drums I hear in the distance?

Sometimes it is the sub-headline that is the most interesting. Take this Hill Times piece as an example.


Most Tories happy with Harper's 'even keel' leadership and his message discipline

Seems like all is well in Con-ada. but then is smaller font:


But some Conservatives say if Stephen Harper doesn't win a majority next time, it's time to go.

""Harper led the Conservative Party in the last two elections and before that led the Alliance Party [in the 2004 election]. After the next election, if we again end up with a minority, I think that should be it. He should leave after that and let someone else take over. I have no doubt that Harper is a smart, intelligent leader but if we don't win a majority next time, he should step aside," said one Conservative delegate, who requested anonymity at the policy convention. "

As much as I despise anonymous Liberal insiders, I love to hear from Conservative ones.

Update: Impolitical covers this as well and has quotes from a further article.Recommend this Post

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A call for a new vision for Canada

Debroah Coyne's op-ed in the Star that I posted on just a moment ago had a link to her blog Canadians without borders. I really liked the current post: the somewhat repetitively (eponymously perhaps?) titled Canadians without borders.

It definitely falls into the category of things I wish I had written. Highlights include:

"Canada has become a magnet to people from around the world. We have transformed in a relatively short period of time into the most cosmopolitan and diverse society in human history. And because of our accident of geography ─ vast spaces from sea to sea to sea ─ we have a huge potential to transform even further." ...

"New Canadians do not arrive in Canada wishing to pay $600 or more a month to send their children to faith-based private schools, and seal themselves off in an enclave. This undermines Canada’s internal strength and global potential. Canadians, new and old, do not define themselves by their ethnicity, religion, language or a province. Nor do we define ourselves with material things – not the cars we drive, the houses we own, nor the areas in which we live. We do not define ourselves with borders."...

"With clear global vision and bold national leadership, Canadians are uniquely positioned to be in the front ranks of a world without borders."

As as so often typed IRYRTWP (I Recommend You Read The Whole Post).Recommend this Post

Today's baby step to redemption

Deborah Coyne has an op-ed in The Star which decries the path taken by federal governments from Mulroney onwards and calls out for a leader of passion and common purpose.

"We learned that when we all contribute to and share the benefits of good health care, we are all better off. We learned that the best way to build the bonds of social solidarity is by having our children attend great public schools in an environment that reflects the diversity in society around us. Most importantly, we learned that the measure of a great society and nation is how well we collectively take care of and lift up the weakest members, and that preserving the dignity of our neighbour preserves the dignity of us all.

But what we may not have learned is that building a fair and compassionate society is not a destination, but a journey. The fight for greater equality and justice never ends."...

"The 2008 federal election failed miserably to excite Canadians. The few who did vote did so with little enthusiasm or sense of national purpose or pride. There was no appeal to our better selves to pull together as we enter uncertain economic times, nothing to restore energy and passion to national politics and government, nothing to remind us that we are stronger when we act together as Canadians and share in national projects and endeavours.

Canadians must have the opportunity next time to vote for a strong national government that can inspire us to look over the horizon and leave a better world for our children and grandchildren."

Recommend this Post

The next step for ProgBlogs or just another of my stupid ideas?

Throughout history it seems that the prevailing power structures have sought to suppress the voices of progressive change. That they should do this is natural enough. Why should they give up their power without being made to?

But on the other side of the debate, those seeking to improve society have, during periods of technological innovation, been able to use these new tools to connect with the vast majority of the population that desire the kind of change these "radicals" propose.

The invention of the printing press by Guttenburg led to Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Voltaire, Paine and Jefferson distributed pamphlets to spread their ideas of freedom from tyranny. These pamphelteers were able to bypass the controls of the monarchy by encouraging people to pass the leaflets on to their friends. These people used the equivalent of a social networking method, such as Facebook, to spread their message.

To an extent, the rise of the Kennedys had an assist from the new media of television in the defeat in the non-telegenic Nixon. The news departments of the television networks at the time were filled with real journalists and hadn't ossified into the Gestetner machines of today. During the last US election cycle, Obama was able to use Youtube and other internet tools to bypass the bias of the corporately controlled television and print media.

Closer to our own time and place, Trudeau was able to mount his challenge to Duplessis through the publication of Cite' Libre.

Which brings us to 2008. During the last election we witnessed the effects of a corporately controlled media on our democracy with CTV orchestrating an attack on Dion in order to assist the election of Stephen Harper. (Although to be fair the Liberal Party's white knight who will mop up the floor with the conservatives tells us this is all sour grapes). This leads to the question; "How can we use the internet and associated programs, such as Youtube, Facebook and the like to broach the media wall?".

Since I discovered Progressive Bloggers through a comment on Daily Kos by Scott Tribe in ~2003 (I think) with the tag line to check it out, I have found this site to be a wonderful way to stay in touch with the depredations of the Conservatives, find out what is going on with the Liberals and learn about other fascinating issues I would never otherwise have come across. Without ProgBlogs, I would never have read about boys with autism in New Brunswick, found out facts about daily life as a committed environmentalist etc.

But we are all singing to the choir here. When I ask people who voted Conservative or didn't vote at all what they thought of the $300 million cost of the election and the illegality of it or Cadman or In and Out or the effect of the GST cut on the probability of a deficit even without the meltdown, these intelligent people didn't have a clue. When it is explained to them they are outraged. When I talked to them about Dion and explained the Green Shift they were intrigued. The need to get our message out beyond our world is real and it would produce benefits if successful.

How can this be made to happen? It is unlikely that exposing our friends and relatives to the Prog Blog website would get people up to speed on the issues. The community is too vibrant and the posts come too fast to engage people who are not already motivated to follow these issues. We would need to find ways to highgrade the best of the posts and circulate them to "ordinary Canadians". If bloggers are interested in trying to do this, I can think of two ways one based on individual initiative and the second as a group project.

The first would be up to individual bloggers to undertake. It would involve is the use of Facebook to to periodically let their friends know of very goods ideas brought up on the site by psoting links for their friends to read

The second would be a larger project and would require a group to put together a monthly compendium of the best articles to make available for people to circulate by their friends. This document could then be circulated by email or on Facebook or other sites.

What do you think? Is it a way to carry on the underground traditions of past movements or just a waste of electrons. Perhaps the concept is there but the internet methodology is unworkable. I would appreciate any comments.Recommend this Post

Friday, November 21, 2008

Occasional slackness

When I started this blog I expected that I would leaven the political rants with some soul enhancing discussions of entertaining books, music and other fun stuff.

What I have found is that this platform rapidly became entirely focused on promoting progressive ideas. With the exception of the Friday Night Odes, there have been very few instances in which posts on my personal pursuits seem relevant or appropriate.

So in order to scratch this particular itch, I will post material of this nature on a separate blog: "As Canadian As Possible Under The Circumstances". In this way I hope to avoid blocking Progressive Bloggers with irrelevant material.

In the (unlikely) event that readers of this blog have an interest in these more personal thoughts, I have added ACAPUTC to the list of blogs I follow. In this way you can see if that blog has been updated. In the event that posts on ACAPUTC are relevant to BINBNNB, I will cross post them.Recommend this Post

David Hein and Homeroutes

My wife, Eternal Vigilance, and I had a wonderful evening of music and socializing at a friends house last night. Our friends hosted a concert by David Hein in their basement through the Home Routes program.

David is a very engaging entertainer who writes amusing songs. My favourite was Victoria which should be on his next album. I missed a bit of his show because I had to pop out to pick up my daughter; Extremely Vigilant so I did miss a few songs. He is also a graphic artist and has a precis of his career in comic form. I strongly recommend you go see him if you get a chance. A neighbour is hosting him at their house next week and we are thinking of going to see him again.

The Home Routes program helps organize just such shows in a circuit throughout Canada. I recommend you look into it if you enjoy live music. The concept is sort of like a standardization if the concept of the traveling minstrels. As a child, my parents had a recent immigrant friend from Scotland perform at our house to establish his musical career. It is great to see other musicians afforded this opportunity.

Quasi cross posted at "As Canadian as possible under the circumstances.Recommend this Post

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Harper is the bull, Canada is the china shop - Disaster federalism 3

In earlier posts in this series, I outlined how Harper was seeking to manufacture the setting necessary to allow him to dismantle the Canada state.

Today Impolitical reads between the lines to identify one of their first targets; the CBC.

"The economic crisis in the world at large and the Conservatives' own fiscal mismanagement brought to us by Deficit Jim, however, should not mean it's open season on the Conservatives' favourite targets."

As is usually the case, the entire post is great reading.

Theses fools are anything but opaque. And just like a communist pushing to put the last five year plan in place as the rest of the world is watching the Wall come down. Harper is intent on ripping the Canada we have invested years in developing down as their dogma of deregulation and tax cuts has been proven to be a disaster around the world.Recommend this Post

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Today's baby steps towards redemption

Not a surpise that Linda McQuiag is willing to point out Harper's adoration for all things Bush but we will take them where we find them.

"Isolated, repudiated by his people and even shunned by his own party, George W. Bush – the lamest of lame ducks – still seems able to count on the support of at least one world leader: Stephen Harper."...

"Just as Harper backed Bush's effort to block global progress on climate change, this time he helped Bush stymie European-led efforts at the G20 summit in Washington to restore regulations to international financial markets."...

"Harper's resistance to European calls for tighter regulations is ironic, since he has the luxury of presiding over a country that's been spared the worst of the financial meltdown, largely because of the Canadian tradition of tighter domestic financial regulations.

This has allowed Harper to ride out the current financial storm politically unscathed, even gaining re-election in the middle of it.

In fact, although Harper's record on this has received little attention, his government had started to push Canada down the dangerous road toward looser financial regulation."...

"One can draw solace perhaps from the realization that Canada doesn't shape the course of world events. Still, it's disappointing to realize that we're using what little influence we have at organizations like the G20 to help the exiting Bush administration do this last bit of disservice to the world."Recommend this Post

The long term effects of a Toom Tabard Prime Minister

I am on a course on oil and gas Industry mergers, acquisitions and financings (Bet you're envious) for the rest of this week, so I was expecting it to be very light with regards posting till the weekend. But something was brought up I wanted to share.

The instructor is a very well qualified person from Denver who has worked world-wide on a number of projects such as evaluating oil price and the effect on non-OPEC infrastructure investment for the Saudis. Lots of high level experience.

For an American he does, based on the first morning, a very good job of making the presentations relevant to Canadian audiences. The very first topic was the current crisis we are in and the obstacles the world, in general and Canada in particular will face in getting investment moving again. A specific mention was made of the Halloween Massacre on Halloween 2006 and how this action is seen around the world as an impediment to investment in Canada.

The panicked reaction Harper, Flaherty and the small circle of bureaucrats in on the decision to break their promise on income trusts will have a huge and generally unseen impact on our attempts to recover from this recession.

This is an example of the problem with having a Prime Minister who has no real experience outside of right wing think tanks, political strategy rooms and the House of Commons; a Prime Minister who is so insecure in his abilities (with much to be insecure about) that he will not consult with experts or trust anyone outside of a small circle of toadies.

Canada is an amazing country populated with resourceful people. We will need every gram of this strength to recover from the future shmozzles Harper will inflict on us.Recommend this Post

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why blog ads?

Jeff had a post today in which he relayed a request from Martha Hall Findlay to help the candidates in the last campaign pay off their debts. In the comments it was mentioned that Gerard Kennedy reportedly saw a good response after Jeff's previous appeal.

This got me to thinking as to how else bloggers could help off leadership debts and help Liberal fundraising besides the money they can spare from their weekly expenses. We are heading into a time of year with a lot of demands on the cash we have. People are also going to be very careful with their expenditures in the trying times ahead. I am aware of the incredible return that political donations give at tax but already this week there have also been requests from the United Way and other worthwhile charities.

So in addition to the money I have already committed and the money I will give in the future, I will donate all proceeds from the blog ads to charity. Since this is primarily a political blog, I will start with the Liberal Party and the leadership debts of Dion, Hall-Findlay, Dryden, Kennedy et al. I am under no illusion that this will generate wealth that will banish dreams of a 6/49 jackpot. I doubt if this little blog has enough traffic to do much. But as Ms. Hall-Findlay stated, "$10, $20, $50 --- any donation is greatly appreciated." I figure it is definitely worth a try. Especially since the only organization flush enough to advertise on Canadian political blogs is the Conservative Party, I may actually be able to divert some of the contributions to Harper to the hated Liberals. And I just love the irony in that.

If max out my political donations, I will find other causes to support.

If readers deem my thoughts worthy of reading then the increased traffic might provide more contributions. I was initially against the Adsense idea since I started this as an outlet for the need I had to express myself on the future of Canada and the rest of the world. This seems to me like a good reason to change my mind. At least for long enough to see if it works.

Now if other bloggers, particularly those with an established following were to consider doing this in addition to their actual donations this might actually amount to something.

P.S.: This is in no way meant as an inducement to click on the ads. That is a no-no under the rules.

Update: link to Liberal Party donation page added.Recommend this Post

An opening in Quebec

The Globe has run three interesting opinion pieces on the results from Quebec during the last federal election. Reflecting on the different themes might provide a seam for the Liberals to follow in the attempt to rebuild in Quebec as part of a renewed national presence.

The first, by Jeffery Simpson, identifies the problem both of the major parties have had in Quebec since Meech Lake. As he points out, the Bloc made a death bed comeback when many observers expected this election to finally spell the end of the Bloc. He feels this likely had less to do with the arts cuts and young offenders sentencing alone as it did to a prevailing attitude amongst Quebec voters.

As Mr. Simpson lays out the conundrum for federalist parties:

"Since 1993, the largest number of francophone Quebeckers apparently has wanted no part of federal parties, and therefore of the government or governance of Canada. Canada is no longer a country they wish to participate in governing, but one from which they wish to withdraw cash, like an automated teller machine.

"They want to influence decisions in Ottawa without taking any responsibility for those decisions. They want neither to separate from Canada, nor to govern it. They want, through the Bloc Québécois, a variation of an old and enduring ambition: to be part of Canada, but only sort of, and on their terms, which means some sort of associate status, égal à égal, separate but not fully separate, sovereignty but with association, autonomous but still tied, somewhat in but somewhat out, or, in the metaphor of the brilliant Quebec journalist Jean Paré, parishioners in a church called Canada they seldom attend except for important occasions like Christmas, Easter and maybe marriages. They want to take but not to give. And they always prefer leaders, when given a choice, from Quebec.

It is historical fact, reinforced again this week, that Quebeckers have always voted for a party led by a Quebecker when confronted with a choice between such a party and one led by someone from outside the province."

(Perhaps a reinforcement of the point that replacing Dion represents an act of folly by the Liberals).

Mr. Simpson does a great job of identifying the problem but is, however, unable to offer any definite ways towards resolving this.

Then Tom Flanagan expresses a similar opinion based on the Conservative Party's indignation that Quebecois don't play fair with people who condescend to them. His solution is to decrease the emphasis on pandering to Quebec, not on the basis of principle, but to search out a majority by insulting "ethnic" Canadians.

(As an aside, there is always an undercurrent of resentment amongst Reformer types about having the Bloc in Parliament and any separatist allowed to comment in the national press. Why is this person who has advocated concepts that are essentially the same as sovereignty-association and seeks to institute one party rule given a regular column in the Globe and Mail? Where is the outrage?)

"Indeed, the Quebec relationship has been difficult to manage. The infighting between the Action Démocratique du Québec and provincial Liberal loyalists is a constant irritation, as is the fickle friendship of Quebec Premier Jean Charest. But the biggest problem is the attitude of the many Quebeckers who see Canada in instrumental terms as simply a source of benefits to the province. The Conservatives played to that sentiment in their ad campaigns, trying to convince voters that only they, not the Bloc Québécois, could deliver the goods. It worked in 2006 but not this time.

So the bad news is that the Third Sister is hard to please because she expects more and more. But the good news is that a Fourth Sister has appeared - the ethnic voters Mr. Harper has assiduously courted since early 2005, when he set out to change the Conservatives' white-bread image."


"If they can build on these gains, the Conservatives may win a majority without major new gains in Quebec, particularly as reapportionment will leave Quebec with 75 seats while adding dozens of new seats in Alberta and the suburbs of Vancouver and Toronto. Yet, you can't just kiss the Third Sister goodbye. Any party aspiring to govern Canada needs to have MPs from Quebec in caucus and cabinet. But a bigger breakthrough in Quebec no longer seems like the only way of building a national majority."

But the laid plans of Reform and men, Gang aft agley. As Michael Chong put it:

“New Canadians are as diverse as the population at large,” said Chong, and the party has to continue to broaden its appeal, not through narrow-casting, but by presenting a moderate, diverse political option."

And finally, Lysiane Gagnon points out that, provincially, the ADQ is likely to experience the fate expected for the Bloc federally.

"But Mario Dumont, whose Action Démocratique du Québec is trailing in third place in the polls, was on the lookout for something - anything - that could reignite the flames of identity politics, as he did in the last election when he exploited a series of minor controversial events to launch a campaign against "reasonable accommodation" with religious minorities. The tactic was highly successful, and the fledgling ADQ came very close to forming the government.
But to no avail. His outbursts were greeted with derision. In any case, in his stint as Official Opposition Leader, Mr. Dumont is no longer taken seriously."

Now that the ADQ bubble seems to have burst, the current election campaign is back to the usual pattern: The Quebec Liberal Party and the Parti Québécois are neck and neck, and last year's ADQ voters are returning to one or the other of them. Conventional wisdom has it that most former ADQ votes will go to the Liberals, but the demise of Mr. Dumont's party will also help the PQ in Montreal-area ridings.

As the fading of the Union Nationale was mirrored by the Social Credit Party perhaps the fate of the ADQ can reflect some light on the future of The Bloc. It will take a sophisticated strategy but the more the Conservative Party retreats from their attempts to win over Quebec based on a campaign of cynicism, the more room there is for a federalist plea based on an honest appeal to Quebec's interest in being part of the government.

Perhaps the failure of Mr. Harper's Quebec plan was that his subliminal play to identity politics didn't resonate with voters as much as he thought it would.

The key to rekindling participation in the federal government by voters currently hanging out with the Bloc lies within developing a national program that excites Quebecers enough so that they want to take part in developing it rather than just seeing what they can take from Canada.

Perhaps the Green Shift would have been just that vehicle. We will never know. But such a program is out there. What is needed is a leader to identify it and be a champion for it. If the future leaders of Canada are going to remain a paymaster to the provinces, majority governments and the meaningful participation of Quebec in Canadian political life will remain a distant dream.

Recommend this Post

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday night ode to Rememberance and blowin' away

Two videos on two different subjects tonight.

Most importantly, as an homage to the veterans who deserve remembering more often than for that one minute a year; Tanglefoot at Vimy.

Now that we are on the road to a recession or even another depression it is worth remembering that and we are heading to an extinct event that will make the Permian Extinction seem like a good time it is worth remembering that a major component of the 30's was the Dust Bowl. So how better to toast that then a bit of the Boss channeling Pete Seeger.

Enjoy your weekend.Recommend this Post

Perhaps this is why no one reads your stupid paper

Besides the bad editorial policy, really bad editing comes to mind.

"Judging by the number of MPs and senior party figures who turned up at the launch, he has already convinced much of the party establishment that he has a better chance of unseating Mr. Harper at the next election than his two declared rivals, Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc.

a mock reference to the label given to Paul Martin's leadership campaign five years ago, as big-name Liberal after big-name Liberal trooped into the news conference."

Recommend this Post

Disaster Federalism (2)

Harper barely gives you a chance to publish a post and ride into work before he gives up more evidence of his total dedication to the dogma of mindless deregulation.

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to join U.S. President George W. Bush in a defence of free-market capitalism and resistance to international calls for dramatic re-regulation of financial markets."

Isn't he the Prime Minister of the country with what are ostensibly the strongest in the world? Hasn't his Finance Minister been telling everyone that this is due to stringent regulation?

"Flaherty maintained Sunday that the Canadian economic outlook remains better than that of most major industrialized countries.

He also repeated assurances that Canadian banks, because of closer regulation and tighter rules governing their capitalization, are better placed to weather the present crisis than their counterparts elsewhere."

But you have to love the headline.

Harper lines up with Bush on reform

The more the image of Harper = Bush gets cemented into the sub-conscious the better.Recommend this Post

Disaster Federalism

(I had a post on this subject during the election that drew the broad outlines of the Harper strategy. Now that it is playing out in real time, I felt it was important to flesh it out.)

"Only a crisis, real or perceived, produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable". - Milton Friedman

In the Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein lays out her thesis for the concept of disaster capitalism; As outlined on the related webpage, The Shock Doctrine uses..."the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters -- to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy".

A country desperately in need of a crisis
Canadians have had the good fortune to avoid the sort of natural disasters, political turmoil and war that have allowed the shock doctrine to be introduced elsewhere. Given the historic political stability of Canada and its immense geography, any single event along the lines of the Banda Aceh tsunami or the Chilean coup are unlikely to provide the necessary shock.

So how does a self proclaimed right wing ideologue bring about a Friedmanesque change to the Canadian state? After coming to power with a minority of the seats in Parliament and a majority of the popular vote against him, how does he effect the transformative change he desires? Time is running out since this dogma of globalization, drastic cuts to government services and taxes has proven disastrous in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Like a dedicated Marxist watching the wall come down, he must, as a true believer, take one last stab at establishing the utopia that Dr. Friedman predicted.

The previous government left him with one of the best balance sheets, if not the strongest, of any government in the world. There would appear to be few opportunities to force Canadians to accept the evisceration of the public support networks that members of the Calgary School hate so intensely and Canadians love so much.

Through an offshoot of Disaster Capitalism; Disaster Federalism. The shock to the country must be generated within the government. As shown by Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, the seeds to destroy the government surpluses began as soon as the Conservatives achieved their minority government. The key chart is shown below. I expect that the bureaucrats in Finance pointed out the folly of this type of budgeting.

Other experts have weighed in. Curiously enough this helpful information wasn't released prior to the election.

Crisis what Crisis
"...a crisis, real or perceived..."
Again from WCI, evidence that this is only a perceived crisis. I expect that this too has been pointed out to Messrs. Harper and Flaherty. Another key graph is below.
No matter says He That Must Be Obeyed. Let us press ahead with cuts.

First things first. The seeds of justification have been sown. Now the fertilizer must be added through the application of an on-line poll.

On top of all this strategizing and planning, Providence has aided this dodge by tossing what may be the worst recession in decades onto the pile. Canada would have been well prepared to weather this better than any other country. "Thank goodness we got rid of that surplus, eh Deficit Jim?"

This is going to hurt you more than it will Harper
The advent of a deficit and the subject of significant cuts were broached without a whimper from a passive, to some extent approving, media. Cuts will be necessary. There will be no backtracking on any reckless tax cuts. The code phrase to insulate the government from their foolishness is the need to avoid "structural deficits".

But a population in a state of shock about economic events has been prepped to accept cuts to long time programs such as equalization, programs and government assets.

For anyone who has been paying attention, it isn't a surprise that Flaherty would offer to sell government real estate. These guys are a one trick pony. Last year, Impolitical had an excellent series on the Harper attempts to sell off assets such as our embassies and government office buildings. (Tip of the stetson and a tug of the forelock to Impolitical for providing the last two links. Thanks a ton).

As the last link demonstrates, the Conservatives remain true to the spirit of Disaster Capitalism by directing the assets towards cronies at firesale prices. These people do have an admirable single mindedness.

So, is this how Canada meets it end?
Will an extremely right wing prime minister leading a government elected with the lowest ever level of popular support be able to hold a pillow over the programs that helped make this the best country in the world.

Will the infrastructure built up over generations be taken away from our descendants so that a discredited dogma can have one last kick at the cat?

Will an economic event that has been needlessly and purposely exacerbated be used to justify converting Canada into a neo-con dystopia?

I hope not but based on our current reality there is little apparent reason for optimism.Recommend this Post

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It is a good day for learning to walk

If they keep this up they will be running down the path soon.

After only three years, significant media outlets are readily willing to highlight articles with the headline: "Harper's Lies".

Didn't it take an even longer time for Bush to get to the stage where the MSM would openly refer to him as a liar?

The Conservative comment machine thereafter proceeded to tie their pajamas in a knot with a series of incredible contortions.Recommend this Post

Today's baby steps towards redemption

Don Martin When Don Martin, one of Harper's BFFs, is laying out in The Reform Daily that Harper is playing the crazies for fools by acting like a Liberal and suppressing their agenda it is a welcome thing.

"This convention seems set to serve as a networking and venting opportunity for the true believers who are, truth be told, the least influential Canadian demographic on this government's agenda-setting."

"There are no rivals on the right and thus little incentive to cater to Conservative diehard demands. Harper has the luxury of taking them for granted."

If the haters that form the backbone of the Conservative Party think he has turned his back on them his retirement party will be reminiscent of Mussolini's

To make it even better, The Star rubs their nose in it here.

When they are reminded that the only way they could give vent to their lunacies was by forming a splinter party,it is a good day.

"Of course, if Harper is too cavalier about ignoring party policy resolutions and going his own way, disgruntled Conservatives could choose to start their own breakaway party. That's what Harper (and others) did in the 1980s in protest over Brian Mulroney's government. The new party was called Reform."

Let us hope for more dissent fomenting editorials, intentional or otherwise.Recommend this Post

Blue Sweater Vest Of The Day Award


There are a lot of people "out West" with views that are reprehensible and ill informed. But that is not a reason to imply that a region of the country is predominately populated by "stupid people".

No one would stand for a blogger stating Quebecois are stupid for voting Bloc' or allow someone to constantly post "Newfie" jokes. As I have said before, comments like this are just fodder that Blogging Tories and other Harper operatives will keep dry to throw on an anti-Liberal bonfire when it suits their purpose.

Update: Link to post catching a previous psot betraying the anti-western prejudice of BigCityLibStrikeBackRecommend this Post

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Digging into oil price trends

Oil is the "lifeblood" of our economy and it is important to understand how the price is likely to develop in the future if we are to manage the economic turmoil ahead. Currently the price is in a serious nosedive. This might help spark an economic recovery. But if the price begins to sharply rise, it could nip any recovery in the bud. Understanding the price trend is important if Canada is going to provide employment and services for its citizens.

A lot of Peak Oil bloggers (such as Jerome a' Paris in this post) have been pointing out that, notwithstanding the current slump, oil prices have been increasing, on average at 30% a year. Such a graph form Jerome's post is shown below.
This correlation has been referred to so often that it is almost taken as a statement of fact when discussing oil prices. This is an easy rule of thumb to use since it fits the data quite well for the most part. The relationship falls apart around August 2006. At that point, the oil price goes into one of the troughs that are endemic to commodities. When it begins to climb again the rate is much higher than before. And with each successive run up since then the slope of the price curve has been higher than the one before.

To really understand oil prices it is important to look beyond the long term averages and into the individual trends. I have plotted the Weekly World Oil Price data (available here) against time from January 1997 (when it is first available) to the end of October 2008.
Oil prices since 1999 have tended to follow a pattern of long term oil price increase (Peaks) followed by relatively short and sharp corrections (Troughs). These have been selected and presented as an overlay on the graph below. The annualized percent increase (red) or decrease (blue) are shown below the trends.
Or without the actual oil price displayed:
Or in a tabular format:
This data points to the need to plan for rapid and significant fluctuations in oil prices with the long term trend towards much higher energy prices. Any steps to recovery and restructuring of the economy will need to keep this in mind. Even if the current downturn in oil prices is sustained for a longer than normal period of time, the price is likely to rise even higher than the last peak. All the current downturn is doing is causing the delay in projects which would help offset the decline in heritage production. This will feed a stronger price increase.

We live in interesting times.Recommend this Post

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Taking the hint

When I read pieces like this, I get the feeling that if the Liberals choose someone approved by the inner circle of pundits, the tone of coverage will change. I realize it is not in a "real" newspaper' but Lawrence Martin also gets published in the G&M.

The Liberals will magically be seen as a cohesive force ready to govern. All of their troubles will become trivial and easily resolved. The autocratic tendencies and bullying tactics of Harper will be seen as less the mark of a brilliant tactician with a clear vision and more the sign of a dangerous ideologue who must be replaced.

The bright side is that it will help rid us of Harper et. al. The dark side is that the electorate will not be given an unfiltered view of who their potential leaders truly are. This will lead to a continued erosion in the faith in our government.Recommend this Post

Monday, November 10, 2008

Headlines that make you think: "No kidding"

Tories want opposition to drop 'in and out' and Cadman probes in House

All the more reason to press ahead.Recommend this Post

Suppress the Vote - Miscellany (2)

Harper's (hair)doo-doo

In the comments to this post by Jeff Jedras, James Curran starts a discussion of how Harper's hair was grey during the election and has now returned to brown. It is one of those things that is so obvious once it is pointed out. My guess is that it was designed to make Harper look less threatening. Make him seem so kindly that the truth doesn't seem realistic. Give voters less of an incentive to take the conservative pickle out of the electoral Big Mac.

But once it again he has demonstrated that there is nothing real about the image he presents to Canadians. A winning strategy has to involve finding a way to draw out the man he has been so desperate to hide.

I look forward to the contrast between Mr. Harper and Mr. Obama when they are side by side and after they have each addressed the media. The comparisons will not be favourable to the empty coat.

It's all bad

The Scott Ross has an excellent post based on some ongoing digging he has been doing in the Globe and Mail archives. The article is deals with Stalkwell Daze relations with the media back in his wet suit period. This time Teh Scott catches a comment from the Toom Tabard that speaks to his true outlook on dealing with people:
"By picking a fight with the press, it kind of forewarns the public to view some of the media coverage skeptically."

Just as in the election where his goal was to turn off as much of the electorate as possible so he could ride his base of crazies to a win, he doesn't want to face questioning, lay out a platform but would rather soil the entire nest. The quote lays bare his strategy and it seems to be working so far. He is undoubtedly a reasonably intelligent person capable of logical reasoning. Too bad he didn't put those capabilities to work thinking through his dogma. He might have realized how hollow it is.

But then the post by Steve V on the Speaker election got me thinking that showing decorum, being strong and resolute and standing up for Canada in a dignified way would be the most likely way to energize the voting public to get out and vote.

Fight fire with water so to speak.
Recommend this Post

Kinsey at the Bat

With my sincerest hope that life doesn't imitate art and apologies to Ernest Lawrence Tahyer, I offer the following.

The Outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
We'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they'd a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.


Recommend this Post

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Unite the centre (2)

Here is a baby step towards redemption. Nice to see an article that see some of the nuance of the Canadian political spectrum. What I was getting at only with facts to back it up.Recommend this Post

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday night ode to The Freedom Highway

After the historic event that transpired this week what else could it be but a tribute to the struggle that culminated in the prize Mr. Obama won on Tuesday.

Enjoy the weekend. Here is to our belief of hope in our future.Recommend this Post

The time warp

When he got elected, I knew it would be like a horror movie. I didn't know it would be this one.

"It's just a jump to the left"

I suppose it depends on what the meaning of socialism is.

"But it's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane"

I sure it was a "warm exchange".

And on it goes. Time after time, Stephen Harper is allowed to put a new coat on to cover the emptiness that is his public existence and he never gets called on it.

I've kept you waiting long enough. Enjoy your Friday.

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