Friday, February 29, 2008

Cadscam - After Scandal, After Scandal, After Conservative Scandal...

What exactly have the Cons been up to on the "covert ops" front??? Some very interesting stories catch one's eye over the short while the Cons have had their gnarled grip on power... They certainly merit further investigation.

We've all been hearing about the possible buying off of Ottawa's mayor by Conservative operatives since the least election. This story is being investigated further, and is beyond the grasp of Parliament for now.

The Stockwell Day scandal is also getting a lot of press right now... The "head" of the RCMP is himself being investigated for a potential criminal act - paying off Jim Hart (another Reform/Alliance/CCRAP MP) to the tune of $50,000 so he would vacate his Interior BC seat. Can't wait for the RCMP's assessment - however, I do worry about who their boss is...

Oh yeah - how can we skip over the Harpo-Mularkey scandal - where it is pretty clear the Harper Conservatives are trying to stop any further investigations into Brian Mulroney's (Harper's key campaign adviser in the last election) dealings with Karl-Heinz Schreiber? Mulroney seems to be getting protection from the PMO or the Cons, or both. It is still not clear what the PMO knew, or when they knew it - but it is clear that they knew for quite some time that this was coming. They simply chose, it seems, to attempt to cover it up, hide it - anything to keep scandal from tarnishing what they liked to tell everyone was a "new" and "clean" government. So much for that bogus claim - like we didn't know all along!

More recently, we're hearing that the so-called "Shawini-gate" was really a blatant lie perpetrated on Canadians by the National Pest, and perhaps (most likely) their Conservative overlords. Conservatives and their right wing brethren were so hot to get something - anything - on Mr. Cretien that they went wholesale into all sorts of attempt to discredit a great PM: primarily the lies about the so-called Shawinigate affair, and the blowing up of the events surrounding the so-called "ad-scam".

Now, we have "Cadscam" (thanks CAITI). The "Con" servative gov't of Stephen Harper apparently made attempts to bribe a sitting MP for his vote to help topple the Paul Martin Liberal government. This new scandal may just be the one big scandal that topples this ridiculous, secretive, punitive, angry, talentless, dictatorial, secret-agenda-driven Conservative government....

There is a lot to do in the few weeks/months before an election. The corruption running rampant through this gov't has to be pointed out. The Canadian people have a right to know the truth. The RCMP need to be involved - if required. The Ethics Commissioner and the Auditor General may need to be involved as well.

Now to write my "Chuck Cadman - People's Hero" folksong... ; )

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Conservative Scandal! Accountability? We Don't Need No Bleepin' Accountability...

So Harper and his merry band of "holier-than-thou" neo-Con apologist, hater, hypocrites are now immersed in another scandal - and perhaps the most damaging one in years. Actually trying to pay off the wife of a dying man - simply for his vote in the House. How low can you go? Pretty low, it seems, if you're a member of CCRAP/CPC/CA/Reform.

Before I delve further into details, I must say, "kudos" to Mr. Cadman, for being the upstanding citizen he was, and standing up for his principles. He did not bite on the bribe - knowing full well, the fate that awaited him. He was truly an MP worthy of his role. Also, the story makes a point of noting that the Paul Martin Liberals DID NOT approach Cadman with any type of offer.

So, the "accountable" Prime Minister - Stephen "I'm a fibber, watch my nose grow" Harper - is now faced with yet ANOTHER example of how he and his party have no idea what integrity really is. To watch this Conservative government (and I use the term loosely) distort, cheat, basically do everything they can to destroy the fabric of Canadian Parliamentary Tradition, and think they can get away with it is SICKENING! Sure, it appears they have the public duped. Sure, the media still seems to be in the "Canada's New Government love-in phase". Still, one needs to ask how the hell are they getting away with all this? Is it because the public and media were so desensitized to scandal through the over-airing of the Gomery fiasco, that they no longer care what comes along? Surely people don't believe the so-called "Accountability Act" cleaned everything up???

Perhaps, more importantly, what are WE going to do about it? We could do nothing - perhaps because we're too disorganized in the OLO, or the Caucus Research Office... We could let Pat Martin make this "his baby", as he's sure want to do... For best results, however, WE should make this OUR axe to grind. After being tainted by the whole Gomery debacle, NOTHING could be better than having a couple of our fastest swinging MPs (give it to some young back-benchers) come out throwing punches - and keeping at it up to, and through the next election. It took Con MPs several years of jumping up and down, and manufacturing public doubt, to get the reaction they needed to win a slim minority. Nothing could be better for our party than to turn the tables on really their ONLY reason for eking out those extra seats in the last election. We CAN'T let them get away with trying call us corrupt - not when it exists in their party to the highest levels (yes, Harper knew about this). Not when they try to steal 13 years of a Liberal economic miracle at the hands of men like Cretien, Martin, and Goodale, and make it theirs.

Although I don't expect much, I'm hoping for the opposite... I hope our MPs make time in their busy days, weeks, and months ahead to get real answers about the Harper-Cadman Insurance Scandal, rather than whittle away their time arguing semantics about a budget... Time to let our best Parliamentarians loose. It will be great to see the likes of Goodale, Dhalla, McGuinty, Rodriguez, and Holland make this part of Question Period - on a regular basis. These Liberals have repeatedly shown a tenacity, and an ability to be at the forefront of any well-planned attacks or rebuttals to the Cons. Time to let 'em loose.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Proud Liberal Brothers and Sisters - Reclaim Your Past!

For the past couple of years, WE as a party have tried so hard to put behind us a past that we allowed others to tarnish. A past which had little but the slightest blemish when put in context, and compared to the lies perpetrated by the current Conservative government. A past rooted in the creation of record surplus budgets, an economic responsibility unparalleled in the Western World. We brought a nation back from economic ruin, and were the toast of the G8.

While being the careful stewards of Canada's economy we allowed this land to grow in respect around the world. We maintained Canada's autonomous voice. We reached out to the world. We lived the legacy of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. We opened our doors to the world and led a celebration of Canada's social diversity.

As a party, we have - in the past couple of years - so distanced ourselves from those incredible 13 years, that we've allowed the "con-self-servatives" to help themselves to our record of economic excellence. To buy themselves an election with the surpluses WE created. To allow these liars and cheats to take credit for ANY of that economic success, would be to disgrace the memory of our great past PMs.

When is enough enough? When is it time to stand up and shout out loud, "what the hell is going on here?" in the corridors of power, on TV, on the campaign trail, and at every opportunity we have?

Now is the time to stand up and take back our legacy fellow Liberals! Shout out loud that you're proud to be a Liberal, and proud of our immaculate fiscal record of well over a decade. We will be vindicated! Let's get out there and take this message to the people! WE cannot let Harper and his band of thugs lie and cheat their way to another victory! Our party has always been the party of fiscal responsibility, of nation-building, of inclusion!

Time to reclaim our fiscal record! One slap across the chops is enough. Repeated slaps across the face are an insult this proud party need not accept.

Oh Alberta - Say It Ain't Still So...

It's pretty sad when this still goes on in this day and age. For the record (and for the ignorant), Aman Gill is of Indian descent - not Pakistani. Not that it should matter - a slur is a slur...

Wonder whom the person who defaced the sign is going to work/vote for in this election? Give you two guesses... (neither of them Liberal or NDP)...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Jim Prentice: If You're Going To Lie, Might As Well Make It A Whopper...

Liar, liar, pants on fire...

Conservatives love to talk about anything proven to be false as "debatable". Greenhouse gases and global warming? Debatable. Poverty in Northern Canada? Debatable. WMDs? Debatable - even after Bush was proven wrong. Now, after respected global publications even rejoiced in Liberal Canada's "Northern Tiger" economy, the Con's would like to "con" Canadians into believing that Harper created our surpluses?

Stephen Harper has increased gov't spending to record highs. He sends out his lying peon to try to contort reality and "con" Canadians. Even though these are Steve's marching orders, he will keep himself "clean" from the negative publicity lying (and being caught in it) brings.

In a continued Con-servative smear campaign of lies, Conservative MPs continue to try to re-write history, by lying about the Liberal record of budget surpluses, and paying down Canada's debt.

Flaherty's career has already been killed by PM Cartman, so now he decides to send out another potential leadership rival: Jim Prentice (perhaps the only Con Cabinet member who could threaten him). You recall Prentice running for leadership in the past. He would try again - if it wasn't for his "boss" making him a liar on national TV.

Liars. Liars. Liars? Like someone said a long time ago (must have been a Conservative): If you're gonna lie, might as well make it a whopper...

While We Sit

It's called gaining the initiative. We haven't been good at it lately. While "seasoned" Liberal politicos jump up and down and scream "gotcha", and "lie" about the Conservatives' recent public efforts to paint us as big tax and spenders, it's the Cons who are chuckling mirthfully. We Liberals tend to be poor on the the PR initiatives, and this may have a lot to do with Conservative ownership of most major media outlets in Canada. Still, we do ourselves a disservice if we don't go on the offensive against this gov't. While we're focused on our next policy platform, the Cons are out there "soundbyting" the public into a trance...

You can just hear the average (non-political-junkie) voter: "I remember hearing somewhere that the Liberals are just a bunch of tax-happy, over-spenders...". The more you put something out there, the more the public is apt to consume and believe it. 95% of the voting population is not as into it, politically, as we are. They tend to consume a lot of the material the media puts out as "fact", and often have nothing to balance it.

The "tax-and-spend-Liberal" label is about as misleading, and as much a blatant lie, as the "Liberal crooks" label Harpo's gang stuck to us in the last election. We now are faced with fighting the labeling of a "tax happy party with a 'weak' leader, that will throw Canada into a deficit". Now this ad could help turn the tables quite a bit - if we can get it out there...

We're not exactly the same Opposition as in the days of the "Brat Pack". We need to start getting more vocal - and repetitive. The repetition is what will get us heard. Every interview one of ours' gives HAS to include an attack on:
1) Conservative Election improprieties being investigated by RCMP/Elections Canada
2) Harper's out of control spending killing off our surpluses (general financial mismanagement)
3) Isotope-gate - and other gov't attempts to influence gov't depts illegally
4) Income Trusts (lies, lies, and more lies)
5) The "openness" of this gov't
6) The EXTREME lack of talent behind Harper (no real cabinet)
7) THEN, if still time - the Cons' extreme Reform ideas on the family, sexual orientation, minorities, social programs and infrastructure spending, etc.

Time to start chanting this mantra on a daily basis. It has to be required for ANY Liberal MP giving an interview...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

US "Spy" Satellite To Be Shot Down

I may just be posting this purely in jest...

Can't remember the last time a US "spy" satellite had to be shot down. Maybe because there never has been one needin' shootin'. The Yanks want the world to believe this satellite is a simple "spy satellite". Couldn't be further from the truth. Spy satellites have sensitive camera and surveillance equipment, but never have they needed to be shot down because of hazardous materials on board. Especially rocket propellant.

Why does the presence of rocket propellant concern this writer? What is America's urgency to shoot it down? Perhaps because this satellite contained a huge quantity of the rocket propellant (not that this coming down on a civilian population has ever been a concern before). Propellant of this sort is used to fuel rocket boosters, but also is usable on missiles - like the type used on SDI ("Star Wars") anti-ballistic missile defense shields. This includes nuclear missiles.

What don't the Americans want the world to know? Spy satellites have come down to earth before. Could they be afraid of a "defense satellite" - potentially armed with ballistic missile defense technologies - perhaps even space-bourne nuclear warheads - being found out?

A normal surveillance satellite should come crashing to earth, and mostly burn up on re-entry. Nothing for a foreign power to learn from, or benefit in any way from. Now (and I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist here, but...) a satellite loaded with space-WMDs - perhaps even a nuclear load, when the US has been afraid to admit to the nuclear weaponization of space - that's something the Pentagon would want to hide. Nothing like a 500 mile long trail of fallout to make you look like the world's bad guy - especially if it comes down near a civilian population. That would be a tough one to "PR away".

The US has continued to weaponize space at an alarming rate. There is no doubt there are nukes somewhere in the equation. We really hope someone starts to offset the global power imbalance that seems to let some powers do whatever they feel they want to.

(If this writer's place of work happens to have part of a recently shot down US defense satellite fall through the roof, you'll know I was right).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Now That John Edwards Is Out...

Since John Edwards' untimely defeat in the primaries, I would have thought there would be a vacuum in candidacy of Democrats wanting REAL change. After all, Edwards was a true liberal in every sense of the word. He was definitely someone who stood for the little guy - against big corporations.

With Edwards out, there is really only one choice - and also someone who would bring historic CHANGE - Barack Obama. Obama has exceptional elocution skills. He has a commanding presence in a room. He can get a crowd going. But more than that, Mr. Obama has also NOT been bought out by healthcare, insurance, or defense contractors...

Obama brings a new perspective on looking at things. His election will bring real change - as never seen before in the US. It will not necessarily be a change in policy (although we see him moving on Iraq, and having some clear ideas on other things - including corporate interference in national progress). It will be a change in the American psyche that delineates his candidacy. An American psyche that - thus far - has felt that a visible minority could not be president. For years people said it would be a woman first (remember Geraldine Ferraro?). Either would be good for America. Someone has to tone down the chauvinistic, paternal, hormonally charged, rhetorical discussion carried by the American nation as a whole. Seriously - the nation has become a young teenager charged with a testosterone-induced rage. The machismo needs to be toned down a little, and a woman or a visible minority President would more than likely set the tone from the top, with focus on other issues aside from "making war". Obama would probably make strides in tackling poverty in America, as well as corporate responsibility. He may also be able to make real changes to healthcare - without being tied down by healthcare campaign funding. Most bets are that Hilary would also bring a softer tone to the White House.

Up North - here in Canada - we need to be watchful of more conservative attempts to bring that raging "American psyche" up here. A new President down South will certainly help cool conservative heels up here. If these Northern bad-boys start behaving more like Joe's Tories (or even Mulroney's - in policy - not integrity), we would be a much better nation for it...

We may learn something from the US in the next few years. Wouldn't that be a change. Perhaps the changes down South will help us perpetuate changes up here. That's usually the way it goes - and it wouldn't be bad either.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Afghanistan - What Next?

Now that we're at a crossroads on the Afghan question, maybe we can start taking a more objective look at the possible solutions. A lot of people have put up the idea of Canada moving to more of a "peace-keeping" role. Abdicating responsibility to the US is another possibility. Still another is to have other UN powers "rotate" through the combat-intensive roles.

The key item of importance here is that Afghanistan NEEDS the West's help - if not for anything else other than to clean up the schmozzle we helped create with the US - leaving a vacuum after bombing them further back into the stone age. The Taliban has to go. I don't think the Liberals and Conservatives are far apart on that one. There still remain questions as to whether the NDP want to defeat the Taliban, or "negotiate" with them. Not sure where the Bloc stands, since they don't exactly register outside of Quebec.

Canada in a peacekeeping role is the best solution - as long as we can fill the void (and NATO - with the US's leadership must). Our senior General Staff were all field officers back through decades of Canadian peacekeeping missions. They are at their best in that milieu. Having said that, we are also adept at "real" battlefield ops. We (even with less superior machinery) routinely trounced the US in simulated conflicts and exercises. British Commonwealth soldiers simply are better fighters than American armies - and we've seen that down through the past few hundred years - after the American Revolution, of course. Still, we are best "exercised" at peacekeeping - and we've tooled our army for that. To decide to start building our forces for frontal combat in a complex warzone is folly. We would need to spend billions $$$ just to retool our forces. Then the training - for counter-insurgency would be required. This would take years. This is probably we Liberals had a deadline for the time spent in the Khandahar region by our troops.

So who in the world is best suited to fighting insurgents? One thing needs to be kept in mind when considering this: insurgents - if representing the feelings of a particular community, in a particular region of the world - tend to win out. It may take decades, and even outside help, but it is hard to oppress people and keep them down. The Taliban represents a vast swath of Afghani tribal areas. It is their home - even if some of their commanders/advisors are outsiders. You don't easily whoop someone in their own back yard. So who would best be suited to such a role? Here are a few nations which could take on a combat role, letting Canada get back to our area of expertise in peacekeeping and nation-building (not saying these nations would agree to go along with it):
1) Russia - The Russians have fought insurgents around the world (during the Cold War), including right in Afghanistan. They have mercilessly pounded Chechnya. They have a hardened experienced core of soldiers who know how to survive an insurgency. Even with all the experience, the Russians have experienced one bloody nose after another fighting the insurgencies.
2) Columbia - America's allies in South America. This army has been fighting FARC to a standstill for years. They aren't exactly winning, but with US military aid they are at least surviving. The US should easily be able to buy a small force from the Columbians after all the help Bush gave them.
3) South Africa - Although it's been years since they were seriously involved in places like Namibia, they still have the tools and the training to take on insurgencies. Their entire army was built to take down tribal insurgencies, rebels in neighboring propped-up states, and civilian uprisings. Their older general staff would have pretty clear recollections on what to do.
4) Indonesia - The Indonesian Army is large, well-equipped, and well suited to counter-insurgency measures. Forget about them coming out though - they have enough trouble stomping out civilian unrest in their own back yard.
5) India - India has fought an Islamic insurgency in Kashmir for years. They have also fought several other insurgencies (Sri Lanka, Assam, Punjab, Tamil Nadu) over the years. Indian counter-insurgency forces are seasoned, well-trained, and capable. We're not sure they would want to get involved in a regional dispute that may not have a "friendly" conclusion - especially with nuclear Pakistan and Iran closeby - both of whom have covertly or overtly supported the Taliban.
6) Blackwater - Can they fight a war? Damned straight! They're doing it in Iraq right now. As far back as March of 06 Blackwater has been ready for real combat operations. According to Cofer Black (Vice-Chairman of Blackwater) at a 2006 military fair: "We're low-cost and fast, the issue is, who's going to let us play on their team?"

"Unlike national and multinational armies, which tend to get bogged down by political and logistical limitations, Black said, Blackwater could have a small, nimble, brigade-size force ready to move into a troubled region on short notice."

"Black's remarks were reported by Defense News, a military publisher that sponsored the conference where he spoke, the Special Operations Forces Exhibition."

The "two forces" idea is one I advocated over the past few years: one engaging the enemy, while the other "builds the nation". There are some problems in involving Muslim nations: Most of them are concerned about Al Quaida sympathizers in their own back yards, and won't do anything to agitate them (see Pakistan). Even the Muslim nations more likely to support world peace-keeping operations (Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco) have to be really worried about their own "home grown" sympathizers. For them to tread ground in Afghanistan won't happen too quickly.

Apart from this, nations like Pakistan have always benefited from the existence of the Afghan militants. These very same forces - along with Pakistan's ISI - have worked together to destabilize India's Kashmir region for years. The Saudi's have a lot of internal problems. Remember how they jumped to help in Gulf War I? Where are they now? They won't help chase after one of their native sons (Osama). Remember the Saudis bankrolled the whole Osama gang. The Egyptians won't risk domestic instability to venture into this quagmire.

It will be very hard to get Muslim nations on the ground in that land. And remember - there are some former Soviet Republics helping now (who happen to be predominantly Muslim). These nations could have been involved on the ground, but chose not too... and Al Quaida hides out in their back yard - in those countries - in the mountains.

The most practical solution may be for us to save $billions by hiring Blackwater - with US help and NATO financing - for the frontal role (they would train Karzai's army quite well), then use our forces to secure the main cities and the Khandahar Airport, while beginning the human process of rebuilding, and winning hearts and minds. Of course, then we'd have to contend with Blackwater's "collateral damage" every day.

Afghanistan will most likely end up being sub-divided after a civil war which the UN will be hard-pressed to stop. We have to hope the old "Northern Alliance" will reign supreme - although this kind of war will really come down to who wants it more. Already Karzai is doing everything he can to appear not too close to the West. The last thing he wants is to appear to be a Western puppet. We all recall what happened to the old regime the Soviets tried to prop up...

Harper has painted himself into a corner on this one - and it can only get worse. The longer we wait, the more Canadian casualties, and less world interest in jumping in feet first. Too bad theres no oil in Afghanistan. Only Karzai's opium.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Harper Daring Libs To Go

In a "not-so-dangerous" game of chicken (I mean, c'mon, if they lose, we may get rid of them), PMSH (aka Cartman) is pushing for an election campaign.

I don't think Harper is rolling dice on this one. It's pretty calculated. They are trying to pull the same thing as we did to them with elections before the new leader is ready... Calculated strategic thinking. This time it's backed up by a few other things:

1) Weakening economy - usually goes against incumbents, but this time it is the incumbents who've created the perfect conditions for economic turmoil (this guys an economist???). The Conservatives have ran up spending, almost eliminating our huge, mega-billion surpluses. Mind you, they didn't run these up to make us recession-proof with safety nets for workers, businesses, etc.; and they didn't do what families traditionally do when tough times are comin' - pay down debt. Nooooosireee... they decided to spend massive amounts on the military, and tax cuts - including the stupid idea of a consumption tax cut - rather than an income tax cut (that would have helped Canadian families in possible tough times coming). On top of his ridiculous spending (typically Conservative if one checks back in history), Harper decided to destroy many seniors' savings with his income trust "brainwave".

2) Dion's starting to get better. Yes, our leader has made strides in his public persona, and with each moment he grows stonger. It's easier to fight off a "wimp" image or "not a leader", vs. what Day had to fight (incompetent religious zealot), or Harper (hidden agenda, closet dictator, did we say secret hidden agenda?).

3) Conservative scandals are brewing, or have already gone public. Mulroney-Schreiber-Harper PMO; election campaign financing (at a huge scale); "Poll-gate"; etc.

Since they're headed down in the polls (probably also in the millions of internal polls they commissioned), they are deciding to go now, before it gets worse. If they don't get their way with an election, at the very least they will get their way with the confidence votes. "Win/win", or so they think...

I'm one to believe that we don't compromise OUR principles on these issues, but that we also make this VERY PUBLIC, so it is very clear that we are sticking to our guns (bit of a conservative analogy there, but...). It may be time to fight an election - because PM Harper wants one so badly. If we go through the exercise and it's another minority, the public ISN'T going to be happy at all. Thanks Stevie.

Harper PMO's Attitude on Racism: "Who Gives a $h!t"

Just glanced over at Warren Kinsella's website, and wasn't really shocked to find this story here. Seems the PMO heard about a racist comment on a bathroom wall in Parliament, and emailed an answer (Warren provides the IP address of the sender, and lookup) which showed the REAL Conservative opinion on racism...

I've locked antlers with some of these folks out on the Prairies - so I know exactly what type of attitudes a lot of them have - but, I think their glossy PR campaigns and pro-Conservative media bias (CanWest/Nat Post, almost every major Canadian Daily, etc.) really helps hide their warts. Time we put them out on full display.