Category: snark

The important part of the Rob Ford story isn’t Rob Ford

It’s Ford Nation.

Who [at time of writing] are seemingly standing by their man, in effect flipping the bird to the rest of Toronto as well peeing on their own, you know, purported “common sense, small-c conservative” values – “Hey, he may be a crack-smoker who hangs out with criminals on a regular basis in between drunken stupors and lies about it…but at least he’s not a communist.”

“Communist” is short-hand for anyone “not us.”

Tribal politics. How democracy ends.

UPDATE: Brad Plumer interviews Dennis Pilon, a political scientist at York University, in the Washington Post:

The profile of Ford Nation is a good indication of our political times. There are these alienated populist voters who are often just lashing out. They’re typically not well-integrated into political system, not well integrated into their communities. They tend to not have as much money as median voter and aren’t always as informed on the details of politics.

So one of the things they do is that they end up identifying with politicians personally. So part of Rob Ford’s appeal is that he does make a lot of mistakes, he does speak improperly. And when his critics attack him, that just reinforces the support among alienated populists who also feel that they don’t always speak properly, that they make mistakes.

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[Rotten to the] Core?

The BC government has announced a Core Review of itself. Select highlights, and translations:

Confirming government’s core responsibilities and eliminating programs that could provide better service at less cost through alternative service delivery models

Translation: That’s privatization! Step right up, select friends of the B.C. Liberal Party entrepreneurs ! Government assets ARE ON SALE NOW AT DISCOUNT PRICES!

Ensure public-sector management wage levels are appropriate while recognizing the need for leaders who can positively impact the effectiveness and productivity of public-sector agencies.

Translation: We will squeeze the rank and file to the bone, but continue to pay CEOs lavishly. Because, takers and makers, bitch. Neener, neener.

UPDATE: On the latter point, please see Norm and Ross. Please.

Legends of journalism

Editor in chief of the Calgary Herald, Licia Corbella, pens an op-ed about Vancouver’s InSite clinic. Much sturm und drang has been spilled since, but I thought I would touch on the following passage:

Sure enough, the first working girl I approached was Sam — whom we called Jackie for the article — who along with her boyfriend, Danny, had to make enough money daily to support their $600-a-day heroin habit.

Sam and I hit it off…I made sure she had my home number as well as my work phone number, and one night, months after the story ran, she phoned me in a panic from Montreal.

She had left Danny for a regular customer and had run out of heroin in Quebec. As she entered into the agony of withdrawal, she begged me to drive to Parkdale that Saturday night, find Danny and get him to put some heroin on a Greyhound bus for her, as she couldn’t find heroin in Montreal.

I told her what I’d do instead was call the Montreal police and ask them if they knew where the heroin users and dealers hung out. I didn’t have any Montreal police contacts, but called the on-duty sergeant. He didn’t know…

At great personal expense I have procured the transcript of that telephone call:

[Ring ring]: Allo, Service de police de Montreal

Hello there. I am journalist. Where can I buy the heroin?

Pardonez-moi?

Where can I buy the heroin?

Madame, are you asking where you can procure heroin?

Yes. I have a friend who needs some quite badly.

Madame, er…your “friend” probably should not do heroin.

But she’s a junkie and needs more heroin. She feels terrible!

I think your friend should seek medical assistance. The city has come clinics and programs….

That sounds like socialism. I just need to know where I can buy the heroin! Is everyone in France so dense!

I don’t know where to buy heroin, madame. Good night [click]

The Life and Death of Colonel Ferry

Jon Ferry is mad. The government is thinking about experimenting with social engineering again and he hates it. Why, oh why, can’t we go back to a time when the government didn’t engage in social engineering and everything was tip top. Like it was during Jon’s childhood in Victorian London. Ok, maybe that wasn’t the best example. Anyway, talking about the Vancouver Housing Task Force’s report he gets to the crux of the matter:

But where is it written that select, politically favoured income groups have a divine right to subsidized housing in one of North America’s most expensive cities?

This select, politically favoured income group is, you know,  the poor. You can identify them easily by the fact they have very little money. The advice Jon give is, of course, for these children of privilege to learn to stand on their own two feet [actual quote] and move to Surrey. Not like those crybabies in Quebec [actual quote]. The matter of one’s poverty being a morality play, and all that.

Oh sure, Jon concedes, there are problems with affordability but it’s a problem from too much government meddling…

Misguided government meddling in the housing market, after all, is one of the reasons why Vancouver housing is so unaffordable in the first place.

See? And also: Indeed! At times like this I like to turn to my personal bible – the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World 2011 Annual Report. At the top of the list of economically free countries is Hong Kong and Singapore – and you certainly won’t find subsidized housing in either of those places. Gotcha there!

So as Jon so deftly shows as he argues with someone in 1930, this is a failure of government and not the market and/or this:

For couple families (with or without children), the largest increase [in family median income] occurred in Guelph (+2.6%) and the largest decrease was in Vancouver (-2.4%). Among lone-parent families, the largest increase in median total family income was in Thunder Bay (+6.6%), and the largest decline was in Calgary (-3.2%).

For people not in census families, the largest increase was in St. John’s (+2.3%), and the largest decline was in Vancouver (-5.6%).

Lalalala…Jon can’t hear you! Besides…

One of the biggest obstacles to owning or renting a home in Vancouver is government and government taxes.

Of course, that the property tax rate in Vancouver is lower than in Surrey is unmentioned.

Thoughtful, caring, civil clown too busy having fun to run your local PAC so quit asking, okay?

Mike Klassen would like you to know he is having too much fun doing what he’s doing now and is certainly not standing by, on the launch pad, waiting for the go order…[wink]

Having clearly ingested the autopsy report of his failed bid for City Council in last Fall’s election, Mike has cannily decided the best response is to ignore all that to have fun and go from being wingnut-curious to fully exploring/embracing the outer fringes of Canada’s right-wing. Because the hotbed of Senator Duffy mania is, as we all know, Vancouver.

So what does fun Klassen-style entail? Why hard-hitting exposes such as, oh, this one on how The Tyee, in response to pressure from former Rothmans/Benson & Hedges cigarette lobbyist Ezra Levant, has removed…hidden…blown-up it’s Donation button in a desperate bid to escape the tightening gauntlet of the citizen-journalist posse and associated Conservative Party of Canada and corporate-created grassroots groups exposing them. Because that’s how U.S. philanthropic organizations launder their ill-gotten gains into Canada – through online webforms. Do not despair these might be rash accusations made in haste for immediate short-term political expediency for, like another pundit whose work Klassen’s very much reminds me of, this is a very serious, thoughtful, argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care.

How do we know The Tyee made changes in response to former Charles G. Koch Foundation intern Ezra Levant? Faster than you can say post hoc ergo propter hoc than short answer is because.

But the genius of this post is the multimedia part of it where, through the magic of animation, Mike clearly shows how The Tyee’s Donation button disappeared over time. Damning stuff. Unfortunately, faster than you can say citizen-journalist, this same animated image also shows the emergence of The Tyee’s donation link in a different spot. Over time. Yes multiple convicted libelist Ezra Levant made The Tyee move it’s Donation link from one part of it’s website…to another. Huah!

And Mike is proud to do his small part in exposing this nefariousness. Because it’s fun.

Tyee editor David Beers shows up in the comments and tries – with far too much patience – to explain how this isn’t true and, you know, doesn’t actually make sense.

Why are foreigners attempting to influence Canadian driving laws?

Formed in 1989, registered Canadian charity Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada is the sister organization of Mothers Against Drunk Driving USA. Since it’s inception, this “charity” has been attempting to influence the debate on Canada’s drinking and driving laws. After dogged research, I have uncovered circumstantial evidence that MADD Canada may be receiving funds that originate from the United States.

Unless you looked on their public website, you would never know that one of the chief sponsors of MADD Canada is the Allstate Insurance Corporation – the second-largest personal lines insurer in the United States. Why is this American insurance company attempting to sway opinion in Canada, you may ask? It’s clear that reducing the motor vehicle accident rate caused by drinking and driving brings financial benefits to Allstate in the form of reduced insurance payouts. Where do these savings go? No one knows. While true it’s the Canadian subsidiary of the American company, given the clear links between the two can we really be sure funds are not passed from the United States to Canada, funds that might end up in the coffers of MADD Canada?

It’s very suggestive of my belief they are acting out of a sense of patriotism to advance the American interest in Canada.

I want to be clear, I have nothing against drunk driving laws. But I think it’s very important that this debate around the costs and benefits of drunk driving is conducted by Canadians, and Canadians only.

Don’t you?

UPDATE: 30 seconds ago I emailed Allstate Canada CEO Michael J. Donoghue a set of fair questions asking if he could account for the apparent links between Allstate Canada and Allstate USA, whether he would submit to a forensic audit to determine if any monies from the American organization have come to Canada, and if those monies were then passed on to MADD Canada.

Tellingly, I have yet to receive a response.

District 12

I saw The Hunger Games a few days ago. It was okay. A bit clichéd. In the movie/book, the protagonist Katniss Everdeen comes from “District 12” which is strongly alluded to be in the Appalachians. Like the rest of the Districts in the fictional far-future nation of Panem, the coal-producing District 12 is ruled with an iron fist by the “Capitol” via violent intimidation and a deliberate policy of keeping the inhabitants impoverished. Erik Loomis has more:

They rule District 12 like a fiefdom, murdering resistance organizers and forcing workers into generations of endemic poverty. Panem uses prisoners as slave labor, leading to major labor uprisings. District 12 erupted into war after workers, tired of decades of oppression, took up arms when a sympathetic guardian was murdered by Capitol agents; over 100 residents were murdered in the weeks to follow. Thousands of miners, whose labors fuel the lavish lifestyle of the Capitol, die of black lung disease.

Oh wait…my mistake, that’s a description of conditions in the real-world Appalachians a few generations ago. Only slightly altered.

The past. And possible future.

Satire opens up a new front. Satirically on satire itself.

This post and comments, in a run-on sentence summary:

A proposal by a former pop-star to make Sweden a cashless society which we know is serious because he’s a multi-millionaire is a clear indication of the burgeoning authoritarianism here in Vancouver, because they like bikes in Copenhagen, and they like bikes here and there’s a law in Chicago that says if you don’t have a dollar in your pocket you’re a vagrant and HAHA off to jail with you and if you don’t understand all this you’re a teenager because Sweden treats it’s population like teenagers.

In other words, ipso facto.

This is, I understand, all supposed to be high satire and good fun, despite the commentators taking it deadly seriously. Though I was under the impression that satire, at least good satire, doesn’t make you squint to see it being based on at least a kernel of reality. And not on, say, a logical fallacy.

Copenhagen is in Denmark, btw.

They use the Euro.

UPDATE: Greece on the breadline: cashless currency takes off

In recent weeks, Theodoros Mavridis has bought fresh eggs, tsipourou (the local brandy: beware), fruit, olives, olive oil, jam, and soap. He has also had some legal advice, and enjoyed the services of an accountant to help fill in his tax return.

None of it has cost him a euro, because he had previously done a spot of electrical work – repairing a TV, sorting out a dodgy light – for some of the 800-odd members of a fast-growing exchange network in the port town of Volos, midway between Athens and Thessaloniki.

In return for his expert labour, Mavridis received a number of Local Alternative Units (known as tems in Greek) in his online network account. In return for the eggs, olive oil, tax advice and the rest, he transferred tems into other people’s accounts.

All that huff n’puff. For nothing, apparently.

Compare and contrast: Stephen Harper, WMD Supersleuth

Mr. Harper said he has no doubt that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. “There is absolutely no doubt they are lying,” Mr. Harper said, referring to statements by Iran that the nuclear program is for peaceful uses.

“The evidence is just growing overwhelming. This is not, as was the case of Iraq, merely the opinion of allies,” he said.

Stephen Harper, Globe and Mail, Jan 17, 2012

I noted that there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein operates programs to produce weapons of mass destruction. Experience confirms this. British, Canadian and American intelligence leaves no doubt on the matter. Saddam Hussein’s continued non-compliance and non-cooperation with the United Nations only confirms this information.

Stephen Harper, Parliament, 2003

Meanwhile, in the evidence-based universe:

“The IAEA does not assert that Iran has resumed a full scale nuclear weapons program nor does it have a program about how advanced the programs really are,” a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call. The official was speaking on background.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has released a report which it says has credible evidence that Iran has carried “out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device”, but has offered no estimate of how long it would take Iran to be able to produce a nuclear weapon.

Though many Iran critics have focused on the report’s claims that Iran continues to participate in activities that indicate interest in building a bomb, the administration chose to focus on the IAEA’s conclusions that a “structured program” to develop a nuclear warhead was halted in 2003.

Update: Other doubters include…Israeli Intelligence:

The Israeli view is that while Iran continues to improve its nuclear capabilities, it has not yet decided whether to translate these capabilities into a nuclear weapon – or, more specifically, a nuclear warhead mounted atop a missile. Nor is it clear when Iran might make such a decision.

-Haaretz, January 18, 2012