A Canadian View of American Politics

Just a simple Canadian trying to shed light on the complex world of American politics! What a tangled web they weave...

Location: Canada

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Premier Lord taking a page out of the Republican Playbook

Namely: Changing the rules in the middle of the game.

I just learned of it this evening and it disgusts me. I'll provide a bit of background for those of you who know nothing about New Brunswick politics. Currently we have a Conservative government led by Premier Bernard Lord. The Conservatives have 27 seats, the Liberals have 26 seats and their is one independent (who was formerly a Liberal and votes with the Liberal side of the House). So that means that on most votes, there will be a tie. And who decides a tie? The Speaker of the House, Mr. Tanker Malley.

And it is him on which I shall focus because he is at the centre of the issue I am about to explain.

In a nutshell, back in January, old Tanker decided that he was passed over for a Cabinet position after years of being a "loyal" Conservative back bencher. So, he goes to Lord and demands some things, Lord says no, Tanker becomes an Independent and suddenly the Conservatives have a minority government. The Liberals get high and start planning a spring election because there is no way the Lord budget will pass.

Fast forward a bit. There is no Speaker. At the last minute, the Conservative member who was expected to get that job just drops out and (miraculously!) Mr. Malley becomes the Speaker! Hello! Huge pay raise, a government car, a job for "Judy", the works.

Then, last week, Mr. Malley decides he is going to join the Conservative caucus again. What's really funny is that he stated he was "crossing the floor". Well, guess what Mr. Speaker, you are supposed to be neutral, there is no floor for you to cross! Is it starting to smell fishy yet???

OK, I know it's my opinion and all, but think about it. Tanker gets everything he wants (outside of a little bad press, but for a $30,000/year raise, what's a little bad press?) And he's now back in his beloved party. The Liberals fell all over themselves planning for a new election, and Lord is sitting back smiling at his handiwork. "No election yet!", he's saying to himself. My wager is that this was the plan from day 1 and everybody fell for it.

But now Mr. Lord has a problem. How is he going to get his budget through Committee with the current numbers? Very difficult given the current rules and procedures that have been in place for 100 years. So what is he to do? Well, the only option is to change the rules. Right?

And that is exactly what he is trying to do. He wants rules changed that would allow one of the following: a government representative (read Conservative member) is allowed to have 2 votes in Committee, the budget gets approved in Committee rather than on the floor and the "government" picks the Committee members, and the time allowed for discussion on the floor is limited severely and if there is an impass, the new rule dictates that the bill under discussion automatically passes.

Can you say, "WTF????"

The last time I checked, we were a democracy, one person, one vote. Lord gets to pick who is on the Committee? If there is no agreement on the floor, the bill passes? Out-frickin-rageous!

I know, I know, you're sitting there thinking there is NO way he'll get away with this. Guess again. It all rests with the Speaker who said today if there is a vote on the rules, he will vote to change them. Done. Deal.

The Speaker is supposed to be neutral. He is there to ensure the government runs effectively and fairly. There is a certain code of conduct for the position and certain norms that are in place for a reason. For example, if a bill is on the floor (like the budget) and there is a tie, the Speaker will vote in favour of the government. However, if there are rule changes being debated, the Speaker will stick with the status quo until there is a majority on the floor to vote for the change. It's a way to keep the system clean and fair. Well Tanker Malley has shown his hand today. He is getting paid his big fat salary to be the corruption arm of the Conservative government, not a representative of the people of New Brunswick.

This is dirty folks, really dirty. We need to spread the word that this is unacceptable. It's going to take a filibuster on the part of the Liberals to prevent this tragedy from taking place and I hope they are up for it. If they are, then maybe there is hope.

This is dead serious, our system of democracy is at stake on this very issue. We need to call them on it, all of us.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Oscar Medellin: The guy standing beside Cheney?

Cheney mentions him as being in the hunting party (he found the second covey), but there is no further mention of him being interviewed or providing an affadavit.

From here:

Mr. Cheney told me that on Saturday, February 11, 2006 at approximately 5:30 pm on the Armstrong Ranch that there was a three vehicle hunting party that consisted of himself, Bo Hubert, Pam Willeford, Jerry Medellin, Katharine Armstrong, Sarita Armstrong Hixon, Harry Whittington, and Oscar Medellin.

So there were eight people in the hunting party (well, eight people at the scene anyway...)

So, there are 3 Medellin's involved:

  1. Jerry (Gerardo) Medellin who was identified in one of the reports as the "hunting guide". But so was Bo Hubert! Can a hunting party with 8 people have two hunting giudes? I guess...

  2. Oscar Medellin who Cheney mentions as being with Bo Hubert and having identified the second covey and never mentioned again...

  3. Ramiro Medellin, the guy who used to be a sheriff, now works at the ranch and was the guy who the current Sheriff called to find out what happened. It was Ramiro Medellin who called the Sheriff back and said it was an accident. That was when he made the decision not to go out until the next morning (sounds like, anyway...)

Also, if you read all of the accounts, it sounds like Jerry Medellin, Kathering Armstrong and Sarita Hixon were hanging out in the vehicles while the other "group of 5" were hunting! But how does that jive with one of the reports indicating that Jerry (Gerardo) Medellin was the hunting guide?

So what happened to Oscar? Why no mention of him from anyone else doing the investigation?

(FYI, I found an Oscar Medellin who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1999 from Texas A&M. If this is the guy, he sounds young - mid to late 20's?)

Anyway, it's all kind of bizarre, I think...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Plamegate Revisited - Tatel's redaction partially revealed

Remember the United States Court of Appeals decision on the subpoenas for Judith Miller and Matt Cooper? And the subsequent opinions from the Judges? Remember that a big chunk of Circuit Court Judge Tatel's opinion was redacted?

Well, through an FOIA request by the Wall Street Journal, some of that opinion that had been redacted has been released. Of course, there is still a fair bit redacted (likely to do with Rove as he hasn't been indicted yet), but it does make for a good read.

Here is the link to the newly released information.

I took the liberty of comparing it to the document that was already released and the parts that have been added back in consist mostly of pages 72 (starting with the last paragraph on the page) through 81 (ending with the first paragraph at the top of the page.

There was really only one thing I read that was news to me. Do you recall how it was mentioned that Libby's handwritten notes had the fact that Cheney told him who Plame was in mid-June in a meeting? Remember how everyone (right down to Chris Matthews, blech) was shocked to hear that someone like Libby would actual write down all this stuff? Well, it wasn't Libby who wrote it at all, according to Tatel. Here is the quote:

The special counsel's argument is persuasive. As Libby admits, in mid-June 2003, when reports first appeared about the Niger trip, the vice president informed Libby "in an off sort of curiosity sort of fashion" that the Niger envoy's wife worked at the CIA's counterproliferation division. (I-50-55, 245-46.) In addition, handwritten notes by Libby's CIA briefer indicate that Libby referred to "Joe Wilson" and "Valerie Wilson" in a conversation on June 14. (8/27/04 Aff. at 12.)

So there you have it, Libby didn't keep handwritten notes, his CIA briefer did, whoever that may be. My bet is that whoever it was is currently unemployed...

Friday, January 27, 2006

Sneaky, sneaky China...

What are they up to anyway? Obviously world domination. I'm amazed at the patience of non-westerners in carrying out their long-term goals. So, you ask, what is she babbling on and on about? Check out this news story: China Supports Russian Plan to Enrich Uranium for Iran's Nuclear Program.

I've believed for a number of year's now that China clearly has a grand plan. I have to admit it's brilliant. See, rather than do what Russia did (i.e. democratize govenment and THEN try to instill a capital economy. Obviously THAT didn't work out all that well...), China went the other way: they are building a capitalist economy and maintaining the pseudo-communist political system. (I know one could argue they are more socialist than communist, but I'm just not competent enough to argue that!).

My point is that China is clearly playing a smart, long-term game. Russia is weighing their options and moving towards the side they see as the ultimate winner. They are buddying up to China like crazy! And the US, as usual, can't see past the end of their nose. China essentially has the US by the short and curlies economically, they own such a huge amount of the debt the US issued to pay for their stupid wars and tax cuts. All China needs to do is say to the US, "If you don't play by our rules, we start selling..." and the US can do nothing but cave unless they really want wordwide economic upheaval, and I'm sure they don't.

Anyway, it's fun to watch. Keep an eye out in the future for little nuggets such as this one and you'll begin to see the chess board forming up for top dog as easily as I do!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Well, who would have ever guessed that I, of all people, would be excited about a Conservative government in this country! But I am and I'll tell you why...

It's for the greater good really. I fully suspect that over the next 18-24 months, Stephen Harper will show his true colours. The Liberals will get their act together and elect Frank McKenna as leader of the party and we will have a Liberal majority again very soon. In the meantime, there is very little risk that Harper's extreme agenda will get through (if he's even dumb enough to try it) with a good majority of the seats being held by left-leaning parties in the house. I kind of hope Harper pulls a stunt or two, that will make for great talking points in a future campaign and will help to bring him down even more!

Also, with the destruction of Bush in the States over this time period, Harper won't be able to rely on his neo-con friends to help prop up his agenda, because they are going down hard. Although if he's dumb enough to try it, then bring it on! All that will do is send the religious right scattering back into the woodwork for another 10 years, which is exactly what this continent needs. And exactly what I want to happen.

All Canadians on the left should view the election results last night as the best thing that could ever happen for the future of this country. Short term pain for long term gain, that's what it's all about and we will come out stronger in the end.

Unlike the States, Canadians can fend off a right-wing infiltration because about 70% of us are dead set against it. And as I said to a friend this morning, Canadians can say, "Screw you!" better than any country in the world...

I can hardly stand the anticipation. I love this country!

What will be REALLY interesting over the coming days though, is whether or not Harper will be stupid enough to fire Frank McKenna and free up the guy who will cause his future downfall. That's what we need to watch for. If he does fire Frank, I'll be dancing in the streets because that is what will start the ball rolling. One could then say at some point in the future, "Well, Harper did it to himself. He should have left Frank right where he was..." How delish.

Friday, January 20, 2006

As the Maritimes go, so goes the Nation...

In elections past, the Maritime provinces have been an excellent predictor early on during the returns as to how the Nation as a whole will go. It's an interesting phenomenon, one which I perfectly understand being a Maritimer myself.

You see, it's very simple: we are at the bottom of the totem pole, but that's a good thing. When you are at the bottom, you get all the information that flows from the top. So, really, Maritimers are the most well-informed of all Canadians! Therefore, when it comes to these kinds of decisions, we are the perfect "sample" or "predictor" for how the Nation thinks as a whole. Simplistic, I know, but I like it...

SOOOO, what does that mean? My prediction: Conservative minority come Monday. One of the 3 seats in question for New Brunswick will flip to the Conservatives, the others will stay Liberal. Which seat will flip? My first choice would be Tobique-Mactaquac, second choice is Saint John. However, on election night, if both of these "questionable" seats go Conservative along with Miramichi, then we are in big trouble, as this scenario would indicate that a Conservative majority is all but certain... God help us all, in THAT scenario.

If you are interested inlooking at the poll numbers for the Maritimes a little more closely, go to DemocraticSpace.com.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Who Said This? A Future Prime Minister of Canada, That's Who!

Can we do it? Well, don’t bet against us. We have a heck of a lot going for us in Canada. On our worst day we’re still better than any other country in the world. We have always been able to rise to a challenge in this country. When this country was formed over a hundred years ago, and needed a national railroad to unite it, a ribbon of steel was built from coast to coast by the sheer force of hard work and the perseverance of our pioneer forefathers. When we were asked to stand with other freedom-loving countries in the world during two great wars, Canadians were there standing side by side, and standing tall in the name of freedom around the world. And when the cause of peace became the world’s greatest preoccupation, Canada once again stood at the very head of the line, ready to throw its resolve into the trouble spots around the world, justifiably earning us the title of "the World’s Peacekeepers." And when countries of the world, as so many have, became fractured by violence, by dissent within, by foreign wars, Canada opened its doors to refugees, whether they were Hungarians, or Czechoslovakians or Vietnamese. People of all races, of all colours, from all points around the world, were welcomed - were welcomed with open arms by Canada. Can such an agenda unite us in Canada? Well, you bet it can. After all, there has always been more to this nation which unites us than divides us.

When I talk to salmon fishermen in British Columbia, they are really not very different from the cod fishermen in Newfoundland who also have lost their livelihood. When I talk to the farmers on the Prairies, I find that they’re experiencing the same problems with crop failures as the farmers in the Annapolis Valley. And the flood victims of the Saguenay have suffered from the same unstoppable act of God as the citizens of the Red River areas of Manitoba. There is really very little difference amongst the immigrants to this country who came from points all across the world, all of us, or our forefathers, all having come here because we saw this land as a beacon of light, a welcome to people from all around the world to this peace-loving country that we could live together in harmony. And we’ve embarrassed all of these immigrants, all of these comers to our land, with unconditional love and with open arms. There is really very little difference my friends, between the French of Quebec and the English of the rest of Canada in their common devotion to social democracy, the rule of law to support for universally available health care, and the enjoyment of a reputation, globally unrivaled by any country in the world.

I think all Canadians feel that they are enriched by those differences, stronger for being a country, francophone, anglophone, aboriginal, ethnocultural, with people from all over the world coming here and participating by putting their culture into the mix and enjoying the culture and richness of others. And there really is very little difference amongst us. There certainly is very little difference in the blood that was shed by A. A. Lechapelle of Quebec, killed at age 21, on the fourth of July, 1944, whose inscription reads "I left my wife and child, dearest on earth to me, for peace. May they preserve it." There is very little difference from his blood and the blood of an Acadian from New Brunswick, J. W. Mazerolle, who died just a month later, buried under the marker, "I died for my country, Dear Canada." Vive Le Canada!

- Frank McKenna, "My Canada" , November 1998

God, I love him! I can hardly wait for that election. But when will it be??? I'm betting on a Conservative minority on Monday actually. Yeah, I know the numbers look better than that, but they are always inflated by enough points to make the difference between a minority and a majority. So, if I'm right, then Frank the "Saviour" McKenna should be PM in about, oh, a year and a half? Yeah, sounds about right.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Bush Administration Authorized Illegal Wire Taps of Americans Prior to 9/11

Well, if this story is true, it certainly blows a hole in the "9/11 changed everything" excuse that the White House uses to justify every non-democratic action they've pulled in the last few years... It also makes Cheney look like even more of a Dick when he commented that officials may have prevented 9/11 had they been able to eavesdrop earlier. What a shithead.

The story was released today via truthout and can be found here.

There is also a diary up a DailyKos where it is being discussed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Stephen Harper DOES plan to do America's bidding

Well I happened to come across something very, very interesting today. Do you recall the news item out Friday, January 6, 2006 concerning Stephen Harper's plan to have a new "intelligence agency"? Well here is a link to it and here is a snip from the article:

Canada's Conservative Party Leader, Stephen Harper, said on Friday his government would set up a separate foreign spy agency to "independently counter threats before they reach Canada."

"We're going to create a distinct organization through legislation," Harper said at a campaign stop in Bolton, north of Toronto.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the country's existing civilian spy agency, operates on the domestic front, has mounted specific operations in other countries.

Harper said that the Canadian Foreign Intelligence Agency, when created, would fall under the guise of a new security czar, who would co-ordinate the activities of CSIS, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Canada Border Services Agency.

Cool huh? I remember thinking to myself, "We already have CSIS, is that not quite good enough for Mr. Harper? Why does he feel we need to do this?" I wondered about it, found it curious, then forgot about it.

Well, guess what? I found an article today that gave me the answer to why he's doing that: Because that is what the Americans want.

Have I whetted the appetite yet? I hope so. Here's the story: David Frum gave a speech to AIMS on June 12, 2003. The premise of the speech was to provide insight on what the US thinks of Canada and how the relationship is going. In that speech, David Frum said this (bolding mine):

The last structural problem is a problem of diplomacy, which is I think the Americans would be very well satisfied if CSIS were an effective organization. If CSIS were an effective organization, or as good an organization as say its Australian or German or French counterparts are, I don't think they would care much what the Canadian military was like. Ultimately from an American point of view even if Canada had the most fantastic military a country of its size could have, it would be a very marginal contribution to continental security. Whereas an effective intelligence service in Canada would be an extraordinary -- that would be really helpful.

So I read this and went, "Whoa! So THAT'S where Harper is getting this bright idea from!" I would bet dollars to donuts that Harper is somehow in communication with the American neocons and he will make the perfect puppet for them to implement their crazy foreign policy agenda. In fact, Frum is probably the conduit between them and Harper! He did organize the Winds of Change back in 1996 in an attempt to unite the right. I read a comment today from an old article about that Conference that states:

Patrick Boyer, one of the Tories who attended the Winds of Change conference, emerged from it saying Frum's draft manifesto was "a ripoff of right-wing American Republican Party policy" that would not be supported by the Canadian electorate.

So, clearly Frum has been in cahoots with these creeps from way back. Of course, we knew that anyway, he worked for Bush! Damn straight he'd know what the neocons want from Canada... The whole thing sickens me.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Pre-Debate Thoughts...

Well, just an hour before the second English debate and I've got my beer and popcorn ready! (Sorry, poor taste...)

I'm listening to CTV News Net right now and feeling a sense of deja vu. Weren't the media announcing a potential Conservative majority two weeks before the last election? Or is my memory not working?

So the polls are showing a HUGE swing towards the Conservatives. At first I was concerned, but maybe it's just the kind of kick in the ass the Libs need to remind voters we are Canadian, not America Light. We'll see in less than an hour. I'll probably comment tomorrow. Cheers!