Lunch Reading: Jeffrey Simpson On Tory Control Freakism

There’s a great article in the Globe and Mail about the Conservative government’s message-control mania. It should be mandatory reading for anyone considering voting for these terrible, scary people. An excerpt:

Although centralized control of messaging has been a growing feature of federal governments – indeed, governments in many democracies – nothing in Canada has come close to the attention, time and effort the Harper government puts into managing and manipulating information and image-making.

Every message from anyone, be it a minister or civil servant, has to be vetted by the Prime Minister’s Office and, astonishingly, quite often by the Prime Minister himself.

You can read more here. You should.

Loblaw: He’s back. This time he’s serious.

It’s a happy day for civic politics!

David Robert Loblaw (aka Bob Loblaw, candidate in the 1982 Mayoral race against Mayor Layor) has decided to give it another go. He says he wants to first increase voter turnout from its current pathetic low, and secondly to actually become the Mayor, and a pro-business, pro-arts, pro-sustainable development, all-inclusive mayor at that.

Although I’ve been cooking up a plot for an all-girl slate for Regina city council (with Jeannie “This city is so fucked up!” Mah as Mayor) I am sure Dave will give his opponents — whoever they are — a run for their money in 2012. Can’t speak for the rest of prairie dog, but I think he’ll be the perfect leader for that month or so between the civic election and the apocalypse — because if someone I voted for actually won, it would be a sure sign that the end is nigh.

TDOC: Containing A Greece Fire

The Death of CapitalismA few trillion here and a trillion there and the next thing you know it adds up to real money.

The Death of Capitalism apologizes to the late Senator Everett Dirksen who it turns out may or may not have actually said those words that are so often attributed to him, but you have to wonder just what he’d have made of the super-sized public bailouts of today.

The latest instalment of course is a near-trillion dollar “backstop” fund announced by the Euro-zone countries in an attempt to deal with the fallout of the debt issues of Greece and the potential for a “contagion” that would sideswipe their unified currency and project for an economically and politically united Europe.

Amid all the hyperbole about those shiftless Hellenic socialists and their gold-plated social programs that led the country to the brink of bankruptcy, however, I think it’s important to note that this whole episode is fundamentally a failure of capitalism, not “socialism”… whatever that means these days.

To understand this we have to take a quick back-of-the-envelope look at what actually happened. Which appears to be that the main centre-right party colluded with the largest investment bank in the world to pull an Enron and dump the country’s debts off the books using a bunch of fishy instruments that made it impossible to see what was actually going on with the country’s finances. That allowed Greece to qualify for membership in the European shared currency.

Make no mistake, like any trade agreement or currency union, it was definitely the country’s business and political class that was behind this move, not the average Greek citizen. Now taxpayers across the Eurozone find themselves on the hook to backstop these fishy business deals and it’s beginning to look a lot like austerity measures (and the accompanying street riots) are the order of business for the foreseeable future as – irony of ironies – Greece’s main left-of-centre party cleans up the mess. Can someone please explain to me again exactly why the right always gets to claim to be better at running an economy?

And you’d better believe this entire exercise is about bailing out a bunch of European bankers and their interconnected web of debt who made lousy business decisions without doing proper due diligence — though in fairness one of their own was gaming the books, making that a tall order.

But the crisis seems to be contained – for now. But given the success of central bankers and their ilk in the past when it comes to forecasting containment you can colour me skeptical. More likely they’ve just papered over the problem for a few more months, and by kicking the can a bit further down the road, thus making the problem even bigger when the day of reckoning finally comes. My gut instinct tells me that when it does, that 1000 point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average is going to look like a bit of light turbulence.

And finally… a brief explanation for my prolonged absence…

As I noted in one of my last posts, about two months ago, I managed to break an ankle that required some surgery. Well, my own natural clumsiness managed to compound an already bad situation.

About three or four days after my release I wound up falling off my crutches and severing the quad tendon from the kneecap on my other leg, thus rendering me a paperweight for much of the past two months — albeit a mouthy paperweight with no shortage of opinions.

I wound up going through another even more serious surgery and spending nearly a month incommunicado in hospital confined to either a bed or a wheelchair while things healed. I’m back home now, hobbling around on a walker, as things rehab, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to making regular contributions again.

Now THIS is how you do snark

Recently, Blogging Tory Stephen Taylor republished a fundraising letter to Conservatives, claiming the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was out to get them (Stephen Taylor).

Well, you could do what Scot at Scott’s DiaTribes does, and try to refute them point by point, but why bother? Calgary Grit has a better idea. He’s already drawn up the Cons’ next fundraising letter — the CBC is biased, BIASED I tell you, against Alberta because they won’t show any Alberta based NHL teams in the playoffs.

Another reason to hate the Phoenix Coyotes

The guy the National Hockey League wants to sell the ex-Winnipeg Jets to is helping to financially underwrite a political party whose anti-immigrant legislation is taking racial profiling to a new level. (Crooks and Liars)

Wonder how this guy would feel if he played for the Yotes instead of Montreal … (Toronto Star)

Greg, you may have missed something …

Greg, Greg, Greg …

His blog post of yesterday (some disreputable magazine … er, um prairie dog) neglected to mention a few details. The Saskatchewan Roughriders make it their business, off the field, to know what’s what with the government’s activities. Between the loan guarantees which saved the franchise from bankruptcy in the 1990s, to financially backstopping Grey Cups in 1995 and 2003, the talk of a domed stadium in downtown Regina, and the sheer desire of politicians to surround themselves with successful jocks (watch for offensive lineman Gene Makowsky to run for the Sask Party in Dwain Lingenfelter’s inner Regina riding in the November 2011 provincial election), the Riders’ administration and board of directors have more connections to the cabinet than the senior civil service in most government departments.

And the Roughriders don’t want any hiccups when they’re planning their centenary celebrations (Leader-Post). And one of the plans was to release a DVD of the Riders’ first 100 years, to be made by Partners in Motion. Part of the financing was supposed to come from SCN, as they were to pay for the rights to broadcast the final product. This is fine, because none of the other Regina-based television station would have been able to make time in its schedule top broadcast it — their schedules are all set in Toronto and they couldn’t broadcast a locally made television show even if they wanted to.

But with SCN getting killed off, there’s a big hole in the budget for this project, and it’s now in limbo. And it’s pretty clear that the Roughriders were taken by surprise — given their connections, they would have been making alternative arrangements for funding the project if they had the slightest suspicion That SCN wouldn’t be able to pay.

So, given that the Riders have many and deep formal and informal connections to the Wall government, and given that the Roughriders didn’t know that an important project for their centenary commemorations was going to go into financial instability because one of its major funding partners — SCN — was being pulled out, then did the minister responsible for SCN, Dustin Duncan know about SCN’s fate before the budget was delivered? It doesn’t look like it.

Let’s Talk About How Bad Abortion Is While We Eat Delicious Spaghetti

The Saskatchewan anti choice Pro-Life Association’s website has a poster (pictured) for an anti-abortion spaghetti dinner with Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz. Yum.

Nobody, but nobody, can cook-up posters with unintended irony quite like rural Saskatchewan’s political event planners. (Wonkette)

Unfortunately we missed the Friday dinner, which was organized by the Potashville Pro-Life Association at St. Joseph’s Catholic church in Langenburg. A shame. I would’ve loved to hear Breitkreuz — an opponent of gun control and gay marriage who apparently tried to get a bill passed in 2001 defining fetuses as persons — talk about the need for closer ties between church and state. Maybe next year.

Dustin Contradicts Boss Brad

How important is local television to Brad Wall? Well, it sure was last last spring during CTV’s ‘Save Local TV’ campaign — Bell Globemedia’s attempt to get an extra $10 a month from you cable bill.

Go to this link (savelocaltv.ctv.ca), head to the bottom of the page, and click on the video link for Premier Brad Wall’s testimonial.

Then, compare that to what Dustin Duncan, Saskatchewan’s culture minister, said yesterday about why the province shouldn’t fund SCN. (prairie dog)

So it’s okay to force cable consumers in Saskatchewan to pay higher cable bills so they can increase Bell Globemedia’s profits in Toronto, but it’s not okay to spend the equivelant of $5 a head to maintain distinctive Saskatchewan programming.

Brad Wall is Premier of Saskatchewan.

Liberal Fetus Fetishists Nuke Their Own Team

So, elected members of the “government has no place in the bedrooms of the nation” party are now siding with Tory religious extremists to defeat their own motions? (Winnipeg Free Press) How does this happen?

I’m still stunned that the Liberals lost their own vote yesterday on developing world family planning aid. There’s (arguably) nothing wrong with being anti-abortion as long as you don’t try to legislate your incomprehensible hang-ups beliefs onto the rest of us. But when people who control funding decisions start voting with their church’s conscience, they cross a huuuge line.

The news is being covered as a tale of political incompetence, and fair enough, it is (Globe And Mail) — but for me the real story is that the party of social liberty is apparently infested with religious freaks who want to stop women in the developing world from making  decisions about their own bodies. (Maybe they think they can’t control the womenfolk here so they have to go abroad (yuk!) to do it?)

Michael Ignatieff has apologized but this is bigger than one flippity-floppity dork’s bad leadership. The Grits need to ditch the bible-belters, Catholic clods and/or miscellaneous zealots who can’t tell the difference between church and state.

I expect Stephen Harper’s Hobgoblins to mix faith and politics. But the Liberals? They’re just supposed to be two-faced and kinda sleazy.

The Gang’s All Here

What’s that soft dreamy look in Stephen Harper’s face? Is it the satisfaction of having just fleeced me  (and you, and everyone else in Canada) for $4,000 for the Olympics? Is he tasting the delicious mountain air of a province which now has effectively no arts funding? Or is he dreaming that the Olympic bait and switch has worked, and he’ll be back to a new parliament where everyone has forgotten everything, and he can get back to dismantling government? (CBC)

But wait!

Look at that hand! Isn’t that… A gang signal of some sort? That would be illegal in some countries? (Gangscene)

One guess at what he’s saying (and really, what does Stephen Harper ever say?)

Image courtesy of drako666 on Flickr