"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, September 26, 2008

Plus ca change etc etc

At least I can still count on Japanese politics to be predictable.

For I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep

But then, I'm not John McCain, who less than 12 hours before the first presidential debate, a event he committed to weeks ago, can't decide whether to show up or keep obstructing the business of congress in trying to put a $700 billion band-aid on Wall Street's sucking chest wound. How very Mavricky of him to start breaking campaign promises before he even gets elected. What a lovely "screw you" to voters.  I guess the woods in Washington are lovelier, darker, and deeper than we realize. My guess is that he will either cave in and show up or six months from now we will learn he hasd a "medical crisis" that prevented him from attending or even sending Caribou Barbie to stand in for him.

It is what it is, and what it is, is unqualified

I know, I know, I said we should stop talking about her, but the more I see of her, the more I'm of two minds. On the one hand, I'm delighted that the Republicans have picked such an obviously, comically unqualified candidate to shore up the glaring gaps in McCain's areas of expertise. On the other hand, I'm horrified that there is any chance at all that this woman could get anywhere near the Oval office.

Caribou Barbie, Sarah America, Bible Spice -- call her what you want, but by any name. Sarah Palin should not be allowed to work in the White House, not even as a tour guide.

The title of this post, at least the first part of it, is one of my father's favorite little verbal tics of late. I was warned that he has taken to watching FOX news -- this is a guy who has always been a centerist politically, more or less, but like many of us seems to have gotten more conservative as he's gotten older. He was Trudeau fan, but I suspect he voted for both Harris and Harper. We are both political junkies, but tend to treat it more as a spectator sport than something we would want to actually get our hands dirty with as candidates--It isn't that we don't care who wins, we do, its just that I suspect we'd both rather be handicappers or bookies than racehorses. I don't really want to drag him into this, but the fact that he didn't express outright support for either candidate had me wondering. He made some predictions, but he never really said which side he hoped would win and since he's the closest thing to a conservative I'm on face-to-face speaking terms with these days, I was curious to see his reactions to the presidential race. 

Both the Democratic and Republican conventions were on while I was back in Canada. We watched Obama's speech together and he said he thought Obama would win, but that as usual his speech was short on specifics. I couldn't watch the Republican convention with him, mostly because I couldn't suppress my gag reflex long enough or keep from making snide comments whenever Mitt Romney  or Rudy 9u11ani said something stupid, (ie: every time they opened their mouths). 

"You have to listen to both sides" he'd keep telling me as he flipped from CNN to FOX and I started to sneer at Bill Kristol. Hey, I'm a journalist, I know all about listening to both sides, but if I'm doing a story on the Holocaust and one side is concentration camp survivors, soldiers who liberated camps and every serious historian on the planet and the other side is David Irving and a couple of knuckledraggers from the American Nazi Party, it isn't a "he said/she said/who knows what the truth is" kind of a situation and I can tell one side to shut the fuck up and get the fuck out of my office with a clean conscience. Eventually, I went and watched in another room.

When it came to Sarah Palin, I was suspicious from day one. I looked around for bio info on the internet when McCain first announced he had picked a running mate, realized she had zero policy  experience, was a fundamentalist Christian, was a family values conservative, anti-choice, pro-war, pro-drilling here, there and everywhere, had ties to corrupt bum Sen. Ted Stevens and pretty much wrote her off as a losing prospect. I knew she'd never get the disappointed Hillary voters. When it came out that her teenage daughter was knocked up, I admit I cackled with schadenfreude, wondering how the hell McCain's people missed it and how they would try to spin it. I watched her speech and figured "okay, she can tell a really old joke and make mean misinformed cracks about he opponent. The republican base is gonna love her, but that's it. No problem."

But then the press loved her. And my dad seemed to think she was okay -- he seemed to like the pit bull gag--god knows he sat next to enough hockey moms during my and my brother's minor hockey days. He seemed to think she was as qualified as anyone for the job. "It is what it is" he said. This worried me. My dad is a pretty smart guy and he wasn't dismissing this travesty. Could the American people fall for this bullshit? God knows, they've fallen for some stupid shit before, but would they buy into the neocon Cinderella narrative about her being a tough and sassy hockey mom who could hunt moose in the morning and run the state in the afternoon? I hoped not, but they bought the absurd idea that John Kerry was a coward whose war record was a lie and George W. Bush was a fighter pilot/war leader, so anything was possible.

Then some cracks started showing. The GOP machine was keeping her away from the press and unfriendly crowds. Then they let her be interviewed.

"In what respect Charlie?"

"I'll try to find some and I'll bring'em to ya"

Watch CBS Videos Online

These all reminded me of something. 
The best description comes from the comments at Balloon Juice:
"I'm still in shock over how terrible the Palin/Couric interview was. "Train wreck" is being charitable -- it was more like a train derailing on a bridge, tumbling a thousand feet into a canyon and landing on a pile of old dynamite and gas drums. And then a jumbo jet crashed into the flaming wreckage. Followed by an earthquake that caused the whole mess to slide off a cliff into the sea, where the few miraculous survivors were eaten by sharks."

In a way, I'm not worried anymore.

Sorry Dad, but this is a case where one side is grounded in reality and the other is not even sure where reality is anymore--in fact, I don't think they could find reality at this point with both hands and a search party if it was safety-pinned through both ass cheeks. Seriously, if you want to be vice president and you can't even manage to bullshit your way through an interview Katie Freaking Couric, how does she think she's going to do if she has to sit down across the table from Vladimir Putin or even Joe Biden?

 I don't think anyone could watch these and get the idea that this person is well suited to be Vice President. I don't think most people watching these clips would even think she should be running the least populous, most remote state in the USA. I don't think anyone but a dyed-in-the-wool, born-again, Republican partisan would think she was even qualified to be the mayor of a town of 5,000.  Frankly I'm amazed Wallisa doesn't have a monorail, but maybe that's more of a Shelbyville idea

She can't seem to form and express a coherent opinion or even put together a full sentence. 
That McCain picked her should disqualify him from ever holding public office again. This choice is not a demonstration of poor judgement, its is evidence that he has lost his freakin' mind.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A pause for the GOP cause?

As we've been reminded again and again and again, John McCain is genuine hero POW who was tortured and stuff after he was shot down during a bombing mission to burn women, children and villages in North Vietnam from several thousand feet in the air. Apparently this brave air warrior is askeered of debating Barack Obama and is calling for a time out in the presidential campaign to "put country first" once again and deal with the financial crisis as only he can.

It's interesting that McCain came up with this brainstorm only a day after his poll numbers took a serious hit. It's also interesting to note that he hasn't voted in the Senate in five months and has missed more votes this term than any other member except Tim Johnson, who had major brain surgery. Also interesting is the fact that two days ago, McCain hadn't even read the three page bailout proposal he now feels that only he can push through Congress and save us all from the mess he and his helped make. Especially interesting since he told us only the other day that the "fundementals of the economy were strong" and has previously admitted he doesn't understand economics.

George W. Bush managed to debate John Kerry twice while he president of a country that was at war and McCain thinks he is indispensible in getting this no-strings-attached, no-oversight $700 billion handout through congress? Or is he just chicken? This is all about keeping himself and Caribou Barbie out of the debates.

Thankfully it doesn't look like the Obama campaign and the media are going to play along with his attempt to get himself some political breathing room and put the brakes on the Democrats momentum with this cheap stunt.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No more Mr. Nice Guy

Remind me again why Ken Dryden is not at least leader of the opposition, if not Prime Minister?

Then there’s the blue vest, the “Mr. Nice Guy” ads. Ad firms are paid millions to tell the story their client wants told. It’s much easier for them when it’s a new “product” or a new “person” launch. When the information they provide is the only information - when the public knows nothing else. The problem for Mr. Harper is that the public does know something else. They’ve been watching him for 2 ½ years and Stephen Harper, they know, may be lots of things, but he’s not a “nice guy.”

He’s not. Nice guys don’t cut literacy programs. Nice guys don’t cut funding to women’s groups, aboriginal groups, health and childcare and poverty and disability groups. Toying with them month after month, teasing them with silence and desperate hope. If, they say to themselves, if I don’t say anything, if I just go quiet, maybe I might get something. Please. Then crumbs, or nothing.

Nice guys don’t decide there’s only one voice in this country that matters. Not these voices of our communities. Not those of his own Cabinet or Caucus. Not voices in the arts who get their programs cut because they say things that might make us squirm. Not any voice competent and professional who disagrees - Linda Keen, Adrian Measner, Jean-Guy Fleury - who then feel the pulverizing weight of a Government machine come down on them just so they know: you don’t mess with “the vest”.

Arts groups, literacy and poverty and childcare groups - it’s the same story. Nice guys don’t make the weak weaker and the vulnerable more vulnerable.
Nice guys don’t act like there are Canadians and not-quite Canadians. Those who fit Mr. Harper’s understanding of how life is supposed to be lived, and those, Canadians too - single mothers, addicts, gays and lesbians - who don’t.

And nice guys don’t take someone else’s person, as he did Monsieur Dion, they don’t take their personality, their character, their life, what they’ve worked hard to build, what is decent and substantial and good. What they’ve earned. They don’t take that, twist it, stretch it, caricature and distort it. They don’t buy air time
and in front of millions of people, assassinate it. And pretend, ahh, that’s just politics.
Oh, and the puffin and the poop - oops, sorry. Didn’t mean it. Just like I don’t mean all the other just-as-new ads on the Conservatives’ website, that reach tens of thousands just like the Mr. Nice Guy ads on TV, that are just as abusive as the others in the pre-Mr. Nice Guy time.

If it quacks like a duck, put a blue vest on it, it’s still a duck.

Dryden goes on to say a bunch of other good things - mostly pointing out the small, petty nature of the Harper campaign and the need to address larger issues and provide a vision of a Canada that is greater than the sums of its parts, the notion that the election should be about more than the ability of the Conservatives to buy taxpayers off with their own money.

Seriously, remind me why the Liberals picked Dion and not Dryden, because I'd really like to know. I think Dryden would have mopped the floor with Harper by now. I wish I could vote for him. Say what you want about the track record of his party over the last ten years, Dryden's vision of A Big Canada is the closest to mine that has been enunciated by any politician since Trudeau.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stop them, stop them NOW!

Dear fellow Canucks,
I know there is a distracting spectacle south of the border what with the minority elitist who was raised by a single mother on foodstamps running against the son-and-grandson-of-admirals, 11-house owning everyman for leader of the pack and all, and that whole global financial meltdown thing happenning, but we have an election going on too. I read the polls every day and I have to ask-- what the hell is wrong with you people?

Watching things in the Excited States over the last eight years, we've all seen what happens when you put a bunch of proudly ignorant neoconservative dingbats in charge for an extended period. Given Stephen Harper's propensity to crib from the Republican playbook, do you really think its a good idea to give him a majority? Really?

Aside from the apology for the Residential School tragedy, name one thing he's done right in the last two years, name one promise he's kept -- no, really, I'll wait, you go ahead and google around and tell me all about his successes with the nuclear safety watchdog, with the Arar affair, with ongoing, neverending war in Afghanistan, his environmental record --- and let's not forget about his insatiable hunger for the flesh of innocent children. The more you look, the more reasons you'll find to dump this chump.

The most recent scandal over bad meat has Tory fingerprints all over it, but the media seems more concerned about a few tasteless jokes by the minister in charge rather than his removal of inspectors from meat plants.

Recently he's been beating the usual conservative drum about "getting tough on crime" by sending 14-year-olds to prison for life, except in Quebec. I've addressed this kind of brainless pandering before. It's all part of the usual conservative obsession with talking tough and striking macho poses. A key element of right-wing politics is the notion of a "strong" leader who will "act decisively." Yes, well, we can see how that has worked out in the past for Germany, Italy and Spain and how it is working out now for the United States. Strength and resolution are all well and good, but if you make stupid, wrongheaded or just plain evil decisions and then stick to them in the face of all evidence, that doesn't make you a maverick or strong leader, it puts you somewhere on the spectrum between stubborn fool and diabolical meglomaniac.

I know Stephen Dion is not Pierre Trudeau and Jack Layton is no Tommy Douglas, but for the love of Lester Pearson, Maurice Richard and Laura Secord -- would you all just pick one of the two and stop Dead-Eyes from getting re-elected by dividing and conquering yet again?