Saturday, September 27, 2008

What is anti-Semitic?

By it's very definition, it simply means discrimination against Jews.

Yesterday Liberal candidate Lesley Hughes was dismissed from her Winnipeg riding for supposed anti-Semetic writings.

Lesley Hughes, a reporter, may be guilty of several things, a poorly sourced article being atop that list. From what I read of her rambling political writing, I'm not convinced she is guilty of being an anti-Semite. The writing in question was a blurb written at the start of the Afghan war. She begins by discussing the anger toward Americans for the death of four Canadian soldiers.

The comments in question are as follows:

"Many official sources are claiming to have warned the American intelligence community, which spends $30 billion a year gathering information, about the attacks on the twin towers on that heartbreaking day.

German Intelligence (BND) claims to have warned the U.S. last June, the Israeli Mossad and Russian Intelligence in August. Israeli businesses, which had offices in the Towers, vacated the premises a week before the attacks, breaking their lease to do it. About 3000 Americans working there were not so lucky."


I can't say whether any of this is true. She sourced her facts in the article. This is the internet however and I could personally claim to be an ex-CIA agent with credible information that says pigs can fly. I'm still waiting for my cheque from Bill Gates and Walt Disney.

It's hard to believe anyone is capable of the evil that occurred on September 11th, 2001. I find it no more difficult to believe there was a high-level American conspiracy than any other theory.


Two "conspiracy" points of history to mull over are:

1) It's a widely toted theory that JFK was assassinated for oil interests. Is it too much of an extension to think those same high-level billionaires saw dollar signs in igniting wars via 9/11 because their American oil had dried up?

2) In 1898, the sinking of the USS Maine ignited the Spanish-American war. Spanish and loyalist Cuban opinions included a theory that the United States government may have intentionally caused the detonation as a pretext to go to war with Spain. Spain had no interest in igniting a war with the US. Their resources were spread thin across the America's and the Philippines and they were easily defeated.


My analysis of Lesley Hugh's comments themselves still doesn't reveal any significant anti-Jewish sentiments. It merely states that intelligence communities received information about a terrorist attack, and that Israelis thought the information was credible enough to evacuate their presence from the twin towers.

Assuming the information is false, it still doesn't suggest Jewish people were involved in the attacks, therefore it is NOT anti-Semetic!

Dion made a gross error in dismissing Lesley Hughes. If you go through my blog and take snippets, you could probably find enough to accuse me of being anything you want.

I'm frustrated with the mentality that mentioning Israel is akin to walking on egg shells. If they are mentioned in any other way than to suggest light shines through their arses, then people are racist and anti-semitic.

The moment we stop questioning the transgressions of the world, the inconsistencies of facts, and our government's true intentions, is the day we become a brainwashed population.

If anything, this article should be fact-checked and Lesley Hughes reporting skills should be scrutinized.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How much is half a trillion dollars?

George Bush has announced a half a trillion dollar support package to prop up the economy.

Exactly how much is half a trillion dollars and who's going to pay it?

The American tax payer, of course.

Half a trillion dollars translates to about $1500 per American.

An average American family of four is on the hook for $6000 if they were to pay off this debt.

This is on top of the $31,000 each American is already on the hook for in order to pay off the $10 trillion dollar debt.

That's $124,000 for a family of four.

But the immunity is the scary part. The message, "You can screw up, lose your shirts, and cost investors billions, and the Federal Government will bail you out."

The numbers are almost too heady to understand, but the problem is quite simple.

It starts with bad debt, and a faulty money lending formula.

Banks are supposed to err on the side of caution and minimize exposure to bad debts. This didn't happen. They screwed up, and American tax payers will be on the hook for years to come.

Here's the catch 22 situation for the government.

Option one, Federal intervention - Middle Class earners, who pay the lions share of US taxes, fork over more or less 10 grand each to bail out the fiscally irresponsible and decrepit banking system. They are paying for the people who couldn't afford mortgage payments, defaulted on their homes, causing a real estate crash, which caused the banks to lose billions, which caused the stock markets to crash, which caused the Federal Government to inject half a trillion dollars, which led to the higher taxes.

Option two - Laissez-faire - In this case the government does nothing, the markets continue to stumble, but eventually find parity. Trillions of investor dollars, mostly middle class owned, is lost by investors. The big banks and insurers go bankrupt, and the decay in the American system is rooted out and replaced by something better.

Neither option is pretty. Americans unfortunately made their bed with a government who turned a blind eye to corporate greed. They just have to sleep in it now.

Don't let the bed bugs bite.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Canadian Election cont'd

In my last Political blog, I tried to give an overview of the parties, remaining somewhat unbiased in my analysis.

I'll let my true colours show now, and explain my stance on an issue or two.

As for Dion - I can take some of my previous blog posts on how to handle the economy, and see them reflected in his Green Shift Plan. He had me sold at higher taxes on carbon pollution, with the revenues being put toward Green jobs and subsidies for greener housing. The only idea I missed hearing, and that doesn't mean it wasn't there, was the promise of a subsidy on hybrid or electric cars built in Canada.

But there's more than just the promise of jobs and subsidies. It's putting accountability and pressure on oil companies to decrease the dirtiness of tar sands production. If the government ramps up pollution taxes enough, while offering subsidies for green alternatives such as injecting the pollution back into the earth, then everybody wins.

I compare this with Harper's let them pollute all they want mentality. Economy before environment.

That shouldn't be. The environment is more important than the economy, but if you can keep both going well, as Dion is suggesting, then more power to you.

Yesterday Harper wood Quebec with rhetoric about legislating equal representation for French speakers on the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
While slashing arts and crippling Canada's creative instinct, he reaffirms that Quebeckers will have their part in our crippled arts system. They already do, he just wants to make it the law.
Good one Harper. And while your at it, I think the following changes should be legislated for the CRTC immediately as well.

One Chinese Canadian on the board to represent Canada's largest ethnic minority.
A rotation between an Indian Canadian and a Pakistani Canadian to represent their stake in Canada's vibrant minority populations.
A rotation between a Native Canadian, A handicapped person, A Latin American, and a midget, to successfully represent the interests of their groups.
Don't forget equal representation to reflect Canadian religious groups. Athiest/Agnostic, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.
etc, etc, all of which must be rotated in fairly to the CRTC.

You get my point. I have an intense dislike for quotas. I object to being asked whether I consider myself a visible minority on a job application. I don't think it's Harper's job to be the saviour and protector of the French language. The pride of French Canadians can do that for itself and suggesting otherwise is an insult to their intelligence.

It always irked me that Stephen Harper travels with his own makeup maven. Or as some people might prefer to say, image consultant. I'm not the most gifted dresser myself, in fact my taste in clothes is rather abysmal, but for important events, I have my own image consultant who doesn't charge anything. My wife.

My point is, Stephen Harper wears makeup!

Did you hear the latest joke?

What's the difference between a Stephen Harper at a pitbull?

Lipstick!

I can say that. I'm not a certified member of the Liberal party, just a voter. Even though my thoughts sometimes push the boundaries of good taste, it's not like I wish someone dead from listeriosis.
That's one of the scariest things about the conservative party. The comments they make...
Peter Mackay calling Belinda Stronach a dog.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz' comments on a Prince Edward Island listeriosis death he said he hoped was Liberal agriculture critic Wayne Easter.
Most irksome for me were the brutal attack ads on Stephan Dion. "Stephan Dion is not a leader!"
Stop lying. He's the leader of the Liberal Party, plain and simple. You can puffin poop on his shoulder all you want, that doesn't change the fact that he is the "LEADER" of the Liberals.

And these gaffes are with Harper trying to keep his party muzzled! Imagine what they'd say if the muzzles came off completely!

What are their true intentions?

Spend lavishly; make their friends rich; pump Canadian money into Conservative-friendly companies; keep a piece of George Bush type politics alive and well in the world?

The only thing I can do is look at trends. The last time the Conservatives were in power, they racked up huge deficits and were hard on the economy. The Liberals, after some effort, sound economic management, and a bit of economic luck, managed to reverse those deficits into surpluses and ride a wave of bull markets.

The market has dropped to lower than when Stephen Harper took office three years ago. Canada's surpluses are shrinking, and despite pumping a crapload of oil out of Alberta, we're looking at Conservative deficits again. If Harper had managed to create a $40 billion surplus to counter-balance his predecessor Mulroney's run of $40 billion deficits, I might consider voting for the guy.

Something that really confuses me, is why do the Conservatives liberally overspend, while the Liberals show fiscal conservativeness?

Isn't that backwards? Shouldn't it be the other way around?

For sensitive issues such as gay marriage and immigration, I don't always see eye to eye with the Liberals. But these are relative non issues for me in comparison to the economy and environment. For these, I'm in line with the liberal party, which means being conservative.

I want a better future to pass onto my children. Not one of embarrassing national debt and a decimated environment.

My last word, I'll vote strategically for whoever is likely to beat the conservatives in my riding. Whether that's Liberals, NDP, or Greens, it doesn't matter. I just can't stand to think we are being hoodwinked by George Bush in disguise. I don't want to be paying higher taxes for years to come simply to pay off more conservative overspending.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sleepless in Sudan - Abousfian Abdelrazik

Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen, has been trapped in Sudan for six years, ever since returning to the country to visit his sick mother in 2002.

Why? He was blacklisted and put on GWB's no fly list. If you're not filled in, you can read more here, or google the guys name "Abousfian Abdelrazik" and get a full story.

I suppose he was added to the "no fly" list after leaving Canada, otherwise, how could he have flown out?

I see two distinct possibilities. Either he is a terrorist threat, or he isn't. It is that simple.

But how do we find out?

Well, we could ask the Sudanese government to arrest and torture the truth out of him. Oh, wait, we did that. Unfortunately, a confession under duress is not admissible in court.

My solution - give him a polygraph. If he's innocent, he should have nothing to hide and should pass. Put him on a plane or a boat and ship him home. If he is guilty, then find out whatever you can about him, and other terrorist links, and continue doing what we're doing.

Ask questions regarding terrorist links, activities, feelings about governments, loyalties, beliefs, etc.

Now you have to expect he's a bit pissed off about being treated like crap by our government, so take that into account when you ask the question, "Do you wish any harm upon the Canadian government?"

As you can see from some of my previous posts, I don't have the highest opinion of Canada's immigration system. Here, here, and here, and here,

If you read those, my wife got her resident's visa six weeks ago and we are happily reunited back in Canada.

I have to assume, since he's being strung out, that there is a dodgy terrorist link preventing his return to Canada. If there isn't, like in the case of Arar, then expect our government to shell out another wad of cash for gross incompetence.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Where the hell is the LPC?

Where the hell is the LPC? I've heard almost nothing from them? Dion seems quieter than a mouse. I don't know whether its because the media has shut him out, or whether he is caught up stumbling over his image problems?

The US economy is on the brink of disaster. It is time to remind the voters about the last conservative majority and how it is responsible for the majority of Canada's overall debt and the previous recession. (which the Liberals pulled us out of)
Remind us that each year, Canadian tax payers shell out $20-30 billion, or close to $700 per person in taxes solely on the interest of the debt.
Remind us how, in a time of massive economic boom, the Liberals were paying that down.
Then remind us how, with the Conservative plans, that surplus is being spent away on promises of corporate tax cuts.
Sure, Canada might be better off next year if Harper gets into power. But in ten years, our taxes will be higher, our quality of life worse, and our debt running out of control.
With the crashing of the US stock market, Canada's government hasn't done enough to safeguard our economy from the fallout.
Where did the big surpluses go?
Why doesn't Harper deliver a 43 billion dollar surplus? When Mulroney was last in power, he delivered a 43 billion dollar deficit. It's only fair, isn't it?

There's been cuts in arts and cuts in health care, which might be acceptable if Canadians were delivered a big budget surplus. So where the hell is it?

Canadian tax payers don't like being gouged, but whether the Liberals are in power or the Conservatives are in power, we will be. At least the Liberals aim to leave the country a better place for our children to grow up in.

So where the hell is that message?

Hello, Dion, are you out there? Canada to Stephan?

Are the Liberals even running in this election?

Stop hiding and give us someone to vote for!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Canada's Election, and a few pointers.

Canadians have just been told of an impending fall election set for October 14th, 2008. 

Canada has five major political parties:

The Liberal Party of Canada
The Conservative Party of Canada
The New Democratic Party of Canada
The Bloc Quebecois
The Green Party of Canada

Other smaller parties include:


Marijuana Party
Canadian Clean Start Party
Libertarian Party of Canada
Communist Party of Canada
Western Canada Concept Party
Marxist - Lenninist Party of Canada
Canadian Action Party
Rhinoceros Party of Canada
Canadian Confederation of Regions Party
Socialist Party of Canada
Christian Heritage Party of Canada


The Green Party.

Green is something that could become more electable in the future. In the next decade, if managed properly, the Green Party could make significant inroads into Canada's political system. For them to become successful, there are some key elements that need to be addressed.

- A leader the public can connect with, possibly from within, but likely from outside the party.
- Fielding recognizable, quality candidates. The Greens just turfed a candidate for alleged anti-semetic remarks. Whether anti-semetic or not, he was formerly a candidate for the Marijuana party - enough said.
- Continued focus on being the best party to solve Canada's environmental woes, while providing viable economic, energy and health care plans to become more than a one trick pony.

New Democratic Party

The NDP's are almost always on the outside looking in. They are the third place finishers in essentially Canada's two party Federal election. They are too far on the left to appeal to Canada's mainstream voters and NDP leader Jack Layton portrays an opportunist scatterbrain. At every possible chance he reminds voters that the NDP is the best option for all issues, although he never really convinces us why. The NDP party, along with the Bloc Quebecois, provide Canadians a service when propping up minority governments and trading off concessions (usually overspending) for their supporting votes.

The Bloc Quebecois.

If Quebec represented Canada, the Bloc might have a chance. But the party only runs in one province, and mostly to provide a voice for Quebeckers. They are the majority spoilers and, IMO, serve little purpose other than to prop up minority governments in return for political capital directed to Quebec. Suffering from lack of support, the Bloc Quebecois is on the decline and is being pushed to the sidelines by the Parti Action Democratique du Quebec in provincial election popularity.


The Liberal Party

The Liberal Party are in a fight. Firstly to stave off a Conservative majority, and secondly to try and grab enough votes to get themselves into a minority position. Their plan of attack should be on several fronts, starting with an offensive attack to show why they are the better alternative.
- They need to sell the carbon tax plan that Harper is so effectively cutting down with attack ads. In doing so, they also need to show weaknesses in Harper's own policies.
- Expect the Liberals to continue putting out the message that Harper has a secret agenda. This includes showing Harper's closeness to George Bush at every available opportunity. Afghanistan, abortion, human rights, guns, and the environment are other issues of attack.

Economy - Harper inherited a strong economy with pleasant budget surpluses. He's had the fortune of riding three years of strong economic growth. But it's a bad year and market conditions are turning. Liberals would do well to remind us how they reintroduced the budget surplus and appeal to Canadians natural fiscal conservativeness. 

We need to continue paying down the debt, which sits at half a trillion dollars. Canada's fiscal irresponsibility of the 80's and 90's has only recently been brought under control.  It would take fifty years of ten billion dollar anual surpluses to pay off the debt.

At 500 billion dollars. Each Canadian (man woman and child), in tax alone, with interest at 5%, has to pay approximately $750 per year just to cover the interest on Canadian debt.
That's 24 billion dollars in interest payments. 

Should Canadians really be happy about the periodic ten billion dollar budget surplus? 
Canada's eight largest budget deficits in history occurred under the last conservative majority government and can be seen in the chart below.


 


Canada's actual surpluses for the past seven years have been:
  • 2008/09 (projected) $1.7B
  • 2007/08 (projected) $1.5 B
  • 2006/07 $13.8B
  • 2005/06 $4.5
  • 2004/05 $5.9
  • 2003/04 $9.1B
  • 2002/03 $7B
  • 2001/02 $8.9B
  • 2000/01 $18.1B
  • 1999/00 $12.7B
  • 1998/99 $3.1B
  • 1997/98 $3.8B


Health Care - Canada's most significant health care woe is the lack of family doctors. In 2000, the Liberals introduced a plan to address the shortage by creating family clinics with trained nurses diagnosing up to 80% of patients and thus greatly increasing clinics patient loads. The plan was initiated under the Liberal Government in 2000, but has yet to take effect. It is a major failure of the Conservative government to continue this policy. The fallout currently has 17% of Canadians without primary care, and many exasperated by the inability to find a family doctor. The Liberals need to show Harper as failing to follow through on a successful Liberal idea of family clinics. They should also focus partisan anger over the Conservative inability to continue Liberal initiated programs.



The Conservatives.

To win, the Conservatives must tout their accomplishments. Though the green thumb of Harper is sorely limited, he should show off the environmental projects he did initiate and use them to combat Dion's Green Shift plan.
Harper's attack ads claim Dion's carbon tax policy will create higher gas prices and across the board inflation. I've long been an advocate of higher gasoline taxes, particularly in the US, but also in Canada in order to regain better control over oil prices. Unfortunately, the majority of voters jump for the guy who promises the lowest gas prices without considering the consequences.
Harper's plan, if you throw enough mud at someone, lots of it is bound to stick in the uninformed voters mind. Harper is doing that successfully.
Harper's campain also successfully portrays Dion as a fumbling leader who lacks experience or direction. It's working. Unless Stephan Dion steps up his advertising, does well in the debates, and portrays a better image, his ratings will continue to struggle.

According to a Globe and Mail poll, 83% of Canadians have made up their mind who they are voting for. Granted, online polls have major room for error, however assuming some level of accuracy, if 17% of voters are swingable the best Dion can hope for is to stave off a Conservative majority.

A recent poll indicated the conservatives with a strong lead. Thanks to Canada's first past the post system, this actually tells us very little.

As of Sept 4, 2008

If the federal election were held today, which of the following parties would you vote for?

Total %

Conservative party

38

Liberal party

28

New Democratic Party

19

Bloc Québécois

8

Green party

7













Source: environics survey


Trump Cards

Unlike previous elections, this election could be won and lost on the internet. All parties would do well to create spoof ads highlighting opposition weaknesses. A good place to start would be too look up 2d political spoofs. One similar to Blair and Bush could be particularly damaging to Harper. 
While conservatives could highlight Dion's weaknesses. The ads must be funny and create a buzz for viewership. An internet traffic expert would be a particularly valuable addition to any campaign in order to drive traffic to the sites.
Spoof ads, such as this one, could go a long way to helping parties get their message across. Although in this spoof message case, someone with a booming radio voice could portray the message much better.