Thursday, August 31, 2006

Klein's Farewell Song

I thought we should all get together and sing a song to send the Premier off since this is hopefully his last day in the Alberta Legislature.

This little ditty is sung to the tune of Henry Kissinger by Monty Python. I hope they don't sue me for hacking their lyrics.

Do try to stay in key.

a one a two ...

Dear Mr. Premier
We won't be missing yer
You're not the Leader in our dreams
Your too much to bear with your Boozy stare
And your Machiavellian schemes

I know they say that you are very vain
And short and fat and pushy at least you're not insane
Mr Premier
we won't be missing yer
Just wishing you were gone

Mr. Premier
they're all dismissing yer
Looks like yer out on the street
With your cowboy clothes and your red light nose
You're like a mayor from beecee

All right so people say that you don't care
but the gays know where they stand
and the poor don't have a prayer.

Mr. Premier
Get out the fishin gear
We're happy you are done.
Please recommend this post

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Alberta's Bill 208 Summarized

Please recommend this post

Swearing At Children

There are certain days you always remember, not because something big happened but because several small improbable and largely unrelated things happen within weird proximity to one another. I was walking down 10th ave sw on the way home from work when I stubbed my toe on this huge rock on the sidewalk. Without thinking i blurted out oh *. You know the word, the one that rhymes with those things Ford builds tough. Normally, I don't talk like that and I don't want anyone to think I do, but damn that hurt. Just as the words flew out of my mouth I looked up to see two little girls staring at me with eyes that were bigger than the Olsen twins the first time they read their bank statements. Mom was glaring. Not my mom, theirs. My mom refuses to walk me to work. I felt like saying, what's wrong with you little twits, haven't you ever heard an IT professional talk? Or O come on, like mommy and daddy haven't thrown that one at each other. Anyway, I felt horrible, just horrible.

On 10th avenue near 14th street there is this old building that has Jim Dinning signs plastered all over it. I walk by it every day and assumed that the business owners were Dinning supporters or they were gunning for Government contracts. It turns out that this ugly little shack is Dinning's Calgary campaign headquarters. It seemed incongruous. I was shocked. The Tory elite meeting in a trailer park?

While walking near this building I'll be damned if I did'nt stub the same toe on another rock. It hurt so much the second time that I nearly went flying through the air spastically. As I was stumbling I saw a dude walking behind me. It was Jim Dinning himself in all his Tory Glory. I was beside myself. Here I am stumbling and cursing like an indigent right in front of our next Premier.

So I said hello and asked him if the building was really his campaign headquarters. He said yes, or something like yes. He struck me as friendly and easy going. I really wanted to ask him what he thought of Morton's sick minded bill 208, which by the way, made me angrier about Politicians than I have been for quite some time. I would have asked Mr. Dinning this question but some Tory Stepford Wives got to him first. I think I could guess his answer anyway, at least in the sense that it would be a non-answer. The front runner has the luxury of not debating on any issues that come up. And Dinning, from all that I can remember, has always been big on rhetoric and small on content. Like all politicians, he speaks in passive voiced platitudes and not in specifics.

Not a few yards away there was a panhandler who is there every day with a huge sign that explains his homelessness, hunger and need for donations. The sign is a bit wordy and I've been meaning to offer to help him tighten it up a bit. I'd be happy to do that but I would'nt want to insult the guy.

Seeing the nicely dressed Dinning campaign supporters walk by the panhandler on their way to a meeting was bizarre. With or without Jim Dinning this province sure has a lot of work to do on social issues and infrastructure. One hopes the ruling party can pry themselves away from gay bashing long enough to consider it. Please recommend this post

Thursday, August 24, 2006

French To Fix Middle East

From the CBC...

France boosted its contribution to a United Nations peacekeeping force for Lebanon on Thursday, hours after a top European Union official said he wants fresh troops there by next week.

French President Jacques Chirac announced an extra 1,600 soldiers, bringing his country's total contribution to 2,000 troops. France also offered to command the force.

Well, ain't that old school.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I note what excellent work the French have done in the Middle East over the last few centuries. Really, stellar work. I does'nt surprise me they are being invited back.

I don't expect them to commit any atrocities or display a hyper-nationalistic colonial attitude. Why would you ask that? Maybe if it works out well for the French in Lebanon they could drop by Algeria on the way home and help out a bit.

I should'nt make fun of France. Its actually pretty important that peace-keepers get there asap. I'm cynical about the whole thing. For some reason I have a bad feeling it is going to go south. It could turn into a 5 way shooting match.

And I'm very very proud as a Canadian that our Prime Minister has made it impossible for us to be taken seriously as diplomats or peace-keepers. Good work. Can't wait to see whats next. Please recommend this post

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Dog Barfed Up My Policy

A few days ago I posted this about Ed Stelmach policy statements. I finally found the document I read before. It was a speech given to the Goldbar PC Riding Association not long ago. You have to read the whole thing. It is so convoluted and mental it will make you cry. It made me cry and I'm pretty shallow. I felt like e.e. cummings looking for the cap-locks key. Sorry, I've just been dying to use that line.

Anyway, the part that caught my eye was a few comments on proportional representation. I'll let Ed talk now:

But I will be perfectly clear that if some want to make changing our system of elections to a "proportional representation" system, put me on the record opposing it.

As the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, I will not make it my legacy to get more NDP or Liberal members elected. If they can win on the ground, or in the hearts of Albertans, then fine.

But let's not fool ourselves by getting caught up this red hearing(sic) debate that it would be better to have less community representation and more ideological representation.

Here is my reasoning for advocating change in our party and not in our system.

Proportional representation will give legitimized voice to the extremes in politics, and if politics existed without the media, there is a possibility that within the confines of the legislature, a balanced approach would be the result.

But in today's world, the natural competitive media would give disproportionate attention to extreme positions giving rise to wedge politics

Oy. Whoever barfed this up should'nt be sleeping well at night. This is traditional conservative rhetoric. The voters can't be trusted because they might vote "extreme". The media can't be trusted because they might "legitimize" what people actually voted for. Ed, like the entire ruling parting sweats bullets at the idea of losing control over the peasants.

The other thing deeply disturbing - or Funny, depending on your mood, is the fact that Ed can't tell the difference between the party and the government. Do you think that's from being in power too long.

Its time to update my Alberta Dictionary:

Community Representation: Conservative Representation.
Ideological Representation: Non-Conservative representation.
Wedge Politics: An idea that is not approved by the ruling party.

Read the whole speech here.

Updated July 24, 2006: Added a link to the speech in the first paragraph. Fixed a couple of HTML problems. Please recommend this post

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Our 2nd and 3rd Line of Defense

I woke up to the news this morning that Airports were not allowing women to fly with bras that have gel implants. Yowser. When I heard that my tin foil hat flew off and slammed into my vintage Farah Fawcett poster. They are willing to make an exception if the bra can be classified as a prosthetic. Women being yanked out of long line-ups be questioned about the composition of their bras, in front of their shocked and surprised partners. She gels out? Who knew. I really wanted to be the first blogger to point out that a woman with a prosthetic gel bra can also be a terrorist. No free passes.

Meanwhile, Israeli doctors make a wild claim that a woman's silicone implants saved her life. Shrapnel from a Hizbollah rocket embedded in her chest and the implants, apparently, stopped the shrapnel only a few critical centimetres from her heart. Thus, the proud and defiant, and brave breasts of Israeli woman are standing up to the evil of Hizbollah. This will give a whole new meaning when she finally has a medal pinned on her chest.

Not to be outdone Lebanese doctors reported that a woman and 53 family members were saved when a building collapsed on top of them. The woman's large implants held up the building just long enough until rescuers arrived. Sorry, I went Oniony there for a moment.

President Bush upon hearing of the incident:

The evil doers hate our way of life and our...breasts (akward hand cupping gesture) are a very important line of...defense. Our implants have to hold out 100% of the time to keep America safe while the evil doers need only to get around our implants just once to cause their massive death. Because death is the way they kill. They never stop thinking of ways to harm us, and neither do we.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was questioned as to whether he thought there were sufficient silicone implants around to protect Americans, said,

Do we have enought implants to go around? Probably not. Are we working on this problem. (Weird hand gestures) Sure we are. Look, you don't fight terrorism with the implants you wish you had, you fight them with the implants you have.

Later that day at lunch:

Do you enjoy my company?
Yes sweetie, of course I do. You make me feel happy. And safe, very very safe.

Put on your breastplate of righteousness it's going to be a long fight.

Link Please recommend this post

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Dog Ate My Policy

(If you can't see the above image clearly, right click, view image.)

Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ed Stelmach seems to have launched a new website recently. Not everything is complete, as you can see by the surreal promise of future policy statements. Generally, you try not to do this sort of thing on a website. It seems kind of amatuer.

The only policy information that caught my eye on the old website was the fact that Stelmach opposes proportional representation for the Province of Alberta. It seems odd that he would single out this policy but it is not surprising considering how many seats the Progressive Conservatives would lose under a fairer non-archaic system.

I wish i would have grabbed Stelmach's explanation from the old website, but i can paraphrases it somewhat: I oppose proportional representation because it would reward the Liberals and NDP with more seats and I oppose that because they should win more seats under the current system if they really want them. If I'm not characterizing this correctly, I'll most certainly post an update.

Stelmach's policy coming soon graphic unwittingly captures the Klein era perfectly. My memories of the Klein era will always be the constant announcements of how smart they are and the big plans they have for fixing things, and the constant rejection and ridiculing of outside ideas. Everything was always coming soon. When you think about Health Care for example, aside from all the announcements and symposiums about reform what did they really do?

The reason I'm not all that impressed with the list of candidates trying to replace the Premier, aside from the obvious fact that I'm not a Progressive Conservative party member, is the fact that they are almost all long term insiders. They now cite all these problems that need fixing and claim to have the solutions. But none of them had the integrity to speak up in the last 12 years while government was deteriorating under Mr. Klein. That is a huge credibility problem.

All strongmen eventually get pulled down, and all ruling parties eventually get voted out. The Mexicans did it to their long term ruling party, Canadians did it to the Federal Liberals. Democracy often breaks out unexpectedly in the most unlikely of places. Will Albertans figure it out? Please recommend this post

Madonna's Big Hangup

Madonna's latest tour which recently played in Rome has a moment where she elevates herself up on this huge cross. The Vatican reacted as expected by condemning the show as blasphemous. Apparently doing this in Rome heightened the offense, because Rome, they say, is the cradle of Christianity. Here we go again with the not our back yard because we are more moral than you speech. (aka NIOBYWMMTYS - pronounced NeeObeeWimmisTiss)

Madonna as a person I find very interesting, the music not so much. She weighs the risks and rewards of offending people and almost always reaps the rewards of increased publicity. The Vatican and other religious leaders do not always properly weigh the risks of reacting to every offensive piece of art that comes along. Mostly they end up looking like they have far too much time on their hands. Madonna hanging on a glittery cross is the low hanging fruit of outrage. I think of it as a poor use of mental energy in a very very troubled world.

Eventually we will all be senior citizens. The young folk will view Madonna the same way we view Lawrence Welk. There will be review shows with Madonna impersonators hanging themselves on crosses playing to drunk seniors in Las Vegas and Canmore. We'll take a swig of hooch and say man those were the days. Our children will be embarassed when they come to visit us in our seniors residences and there is some 80 year old re-enacting Madonna's crossapalooza and everyone's singing along to Like A Virgin in warbly seniors voices. Many will wander off into the woods when its 30 below. What we find sacriligious and edgy today will someday be the backdrop to a Depends commercial. Maybe Madonna will become an incontinence spokesperson.

With Madonna's upcoming concerts in Germany, the German government is apparently going to watch her to see if she violates any one of the numerous laws regarding the insulting of religions. The German people must be very proud that they have a Government that cares enough about them that they can divert law enforcement people from the War on Terrors to keep an eye on Madonna. Keeping an eye on Madonna would be hard hard work. Hero's work, really. I picture two state security types sitting in the back row inconspicuously watching for any sign of blaspemy. The one guys says, Hey, is'nt that Osama bin Laden over there?, the other guy says, Shush. I think she just said God is Dead.

The other thing I don't understand is why the Muslim and Jewish leaders in Italy were also outraged by the performance. Are they swarming? Have they formed some kind of blasphemy reciprocity treaty. I like it better when someone insulted Christianity and some Jewish leader would shrug his shoulders and say, well he was never really our first choice for Messiah you know. The world is upside down if you can't even rely on interfaith bad will anymore. It also occurred to me - and the next part is a little delicate to express - it occurred to me that Jews and Muslims might just be a little jealous because they don't have anything quite as spectacular as the crucifixion and resurrection. Moses and Mohammed both died quietly after long lives. Moses did record the details of his own death in the latter part of the book of Deuteronomy which is rather stunning. But it is no stone rolling resurrection.

We pause here for a joke from our sponsor:

Masochist: Hey, can you help me nail myself to this cross?
Sadist: Nope.

I think the only fair way to look at this is to acknowledge that no one person or groups owns the symbols of a religion or culture. After 2000 years of having Christian symbolism embedded in our collective unconscious there are innumerable ways those symbols will show up in art. Not all will appeal to everyone. Would you rather have Madonna vogueing on a fake cross, or, someone lighting a cross on fire on your lawn?

If I were Madonna's choreographer (which would be sooo gay) I would suggest she put Bush and Blair effegies on smaller crosses on either side. After all, Christ was crucified between two criminals. For an encore I'd have some dance routine that represents Michael Moore being fed to the Olson Twins. Please recommend this post

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Alberta Dictionary: Oberging

I'm still wondering where Lyle Oberg's skeletons are. When he got kicked out of the Government caucus he was widely quoted:

The premier does'nt want me as a back bencher, I know where all the skeletons are buried.

Oberg is about as good with metaphors as he is with running government departments. Skeletons are not buried, they're hidden in closets. Why would you bury a skeleton? Some cultures in Africa put their dead ones in caves then come back years later and gather the dried out bones for burial. I'm sure that's what Oberg was talking about. Africa. But lets not get all Cliff Claveny.

The comment almost screams for an enquiry into Alberta Government corruption. But only Federal Liberals are corrupt, correct?

Not long after he made this flippant comment Graham Thompson of the Edmonton Journal asked him about the skeleton comment and got a stupid answer. I have to quote the whole exchange to give the full picture of Oberg's shallowness:

Oberg: First of all I want to make something absolutely, 100 per cent clear here. The integrity of this government and the integrity of Premier Klein can never be challenged. When I was talking about skeletons, I was talking about gaps in policy. I was talking about being the back bench member that was going to go out and talk about weaknesses in policy, talk about policy in general and bring forward constructive ideas about how we can change policy.
Reporter: Usually the word skeleton is not used in that context.
Oberg: Hey, I'm a doctor.
(laughter in the room)
Reporter (me) looking for clarification: Would you care to help me out here?
Oberg: The bottom line on this one is as a previous backbencher I went and looked at policy, I went and looked at policy that would make Albertans better, that would make Alberta better. That's what I saw at that time, I saw my role as a backbencher, as a government member, to bring out gaps in policy, to be able to show Albertans what direction we can go. As a member who is no longer a government backbencher, I will be doing the same thing, I will be offering constructive ideas on issues that I feel affect Albertans.
Reporter: Then what are some of the gaps?
Oberg: I'll give you a good example. Highway 63 (from Edmonton to Fort McMurray) which is one that was in my particular portfolio. The policy is that we will not twin a road until there are 10,000 vehicles per day. Highway 63, according to the last count, had a vehicle count of about 38-hundred. Quite simply, we know, you know, Albertans know that Highway 63 has to be twinned. So, we went ahead and did it, we changed the policy, we took the policy and we basically said this policy does not affect Highway 63. And those are the types of ideas that need to be brought forward, that need to have good, open discussion in Alberta.

Yep absolutely 100% clear. You wonder why Oberg did'nt just say, I know where all the gaps are, and as a back-bencher I sure will find them all and fix them because thats what we backbenchers do. Gap-finding, gap-fixing all day long. Did I say skeleton's in the closet? Well obviously you all know that means policy gaps. When I use a metaphor I choose it to mean exactly what I want it to mean. Mangling metaphors is a solid step towards good open discussion. The integrity of Premier Klein can be challenged quite easily, just not by ambitious boot lickers. So I guess he's half right. But in order to challenge him, I guess you would have to find him.

Meanwhile..according to the Alberta Infrastructure website only preliminary studies have been started on twinning Highway 63. They do not know yet how much it will cost. The Government has not allocated any money to this 6 year project. The website notes that surveying will go on well into the winter, but they do not say which winter. This huge multi-billion dollar project was all Oberg's doing. He single handedly found that skeleton gap.

An aside: The main reason Oberg requested a return to the Conservative side was because he did not want to sit next to Paul Hinman (of the AA party) any longer. There is a chance that if Mr Hinman rises to address the Legislature with one of his boiler plate anti-gay speeches that God Almighty might strike him with lightning on account of the well known fact that God does not particularly care for bigotry. If that happens Hinman's head could explode and spray cream cheese all over one of Oberg's $2000 suits. Oberg believes it would be very unfair for the taxpayer to have to pay for all that dry cleaning. And we all know that he always puts the people first. He's just that kind of guy. He finds and fixes gaps.

Where were we?

As a result of this unfortunate semantic retardation I've added the term Oberging to my Alberta Dictionary Project.

Oberging means to falsely imply that you could be a whistle blower in exchange for personal gain, but then renege on the promise because you don't really care about the integrity of Governement, just about yourself.

I think i see a gap... Please recommend this post