You’re a quick one!
Some interesting things happening in Canada this week, to say the least. I don’t pretend to understand their parliamentary system (can I get a “Hey-Lo”??), but it appears that the ruling Conservative Party is about to get the bum’s rush by a coalition of rival parties. Let me see if I can break this down…
- Canada has 4 main political parties: Conservative, Liberal, New Democratic, and Bloc Québécois
- The party with the most elected members to the House of Commons typically becomes the ruling party, and their leader is named (not elected) Prime Minister
- The Conservatives won a plurality (but not majority) of seats in 2006, elevating Stephen Harper to the role of Prime Minister (I’ve read he’s a lot like Bush, only smarter and nastier if that tells you anything)
- In early September, hoping to cash in his popularity and obtain a clear majority, Harper decrees that a new round of national elections will occur in October – one month later – effectively pushing them up by a year (just imagine for a moment if that happened in the US… Chris Matthews’ head might explode)
- One week later, Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy, and shit hits the economic fan
- After the election, Conservatives manage to gain a few seats but still come up 12 short of a clear majority (with 143 but needing 155 seats out of a total 308)
OK, the bullet points are getting out of hand… suffice it to say, Harper seemingly strengthened his hand but still came up shy of the majority government mandate he sought. Under normal circumstances that wouldn’t be a huge deal, but the Wall Street panic touched off by the irresponsible minority homeowners of America hit Canadian shores, and the people anxiously awaited the post-election government response. But because he’s a true “conservative” (unlike the drunken sailor who ran our ship aground) Harper’s response to the economic crisis was to cut spending and balance the budget. This is, of course, dangerous and asinine.
As a result, the other three parties have taken the remarkable step of banding together to form a majority coalition to challenge the Conservatives. If the vote on Harper’s economic plan goes ahead next Monday as scheduled (he may yet pull some shenanigans), it will amount to a no-confidence vote that could very well lead to Harper’s ouster.
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All of which is an overlong way of saying that I hate George Bush and wish we had some way of doing the same thing here. (What’s that you say… “impeachment”?… perish the thought!) Instead, we have our chief nitwit this week being awarded the “International Medal of PEACE” from Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. Recall that this is the same church that hosted the first “townhall” meeting between Obama and McCain under the guise of being a non-partisan religious group. If anybody still harbors any doubts about their being a front for Republican outreach, I hope this puts it to rest.
One last rip on Bush… Think Progress noted that Fox News host Chris Wallace recently defended Bush against comparisons to Richard Nixon by (of all people) Ron Howard:
“Richard Nixon’s crimes were committed purely in the interest of his own political gain,” Mr. Wallace told Mr. Howard before an audience of a few hundred after viewing the filmmakers new film “Frost/Nixon,” which is about the only U.S. president to resign from office.
As opposed to Bush’s crimes, which were committed, what, purely in the interest of corporate gain? (Depends on which crimes you’re talking about I suppose…)
(How’d I do, Lo?)
I’ve come across this Dubya quote a number of times in the last few days. That must mean others are having the same visceral reaction to it as me. I try to ignore it, but the hypocrisy is too powerful…
In an interview conducted earlier this month by his sister, Doro Bush Koch, Mr. Bush said he wanted to be remembered “as a person who, first and foremost, did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process.”
“I came to Washington with a set of values, and I’m leaving with the same set of values,” Mr. Bush said. “And I darn sure wasn’t going to sacrifice those values; that I was a President that had to make tough choices and was willing to make them. I surrounded myself with good people. I carefully considered the advice of smart, capable people and made tough decisions.”
I used to think I hated American politics and politicians. Reagan, Bush, Clinton… And then the last 8 years happened… like a bucket of cold water… administered upside down with a bag over my head… The Dubya presidency has been a non-stop horror show. I’ve read pretty much everything Hunter Thompson wrote about Richard Nixon, and I can only conclude that Nixon was a piker next to our outgoing president. I find it interesting that Nixon was run out of office under threat of impeachment and criminal indictment, and yet Dubya is still widely considered the worst president in history. I’m not about to let him rehabilitate his legacy just yet.
It’s been at least 3 years since I was last able to watch/listen to Bush speak. I try not to be head-in-the-sand, but the disgust I feel is too overwhelming. He is our National Disgrace.
I don’t know what sick bastard put that clip on “Funny or Die”. The audience was amused, but it sure as hell doesn’t make me laugh. I suppose it’s some relief to know that the days of him yukking it up with a friendly crowd are over. Republicans won’t be seen with him (cowards). Conservatives claim he failed their cause (hypocrites). Liberals speculate on the inability of Bush administration officials to travel abroad for fear of being arrested and charged with crimes against humanity (we can dream).
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Since I’m suddenly balls-deep in a post I didn’t want to write, let me close by linking the most balls-a-licious moment of the the Bush presidency. That’s right, baby, it’s Stephen Colbert at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner! It grieves me that I can’t embed this performance properly (C-SPAN has some kind of copyright bug up its ass), but this represents the moment for me when the sun came back out in America.
Ahh, the memories of a truly bizarre and hilarious election. Wanda says it best…
And imagine this, a president who can not even shake hands with other world leaders….ALMOST sad? I would say horrifying and pathetic.
As the Bush Administration winds down, the Big Money Boys have just about finished cleaning us out. Per Think Progress, CNBC has a nice chart detailing all the various bailout monies that’ve been lavished on corporate America… and the total is over 4 trillion dollars:
|Financial Crisis Balance Sheet|
|Government Entity||Sum in Billions of Dollars|
|(TAF) Term Auction Facility||900|
|Discount Window Lending|
|Loans to buy ABCP||76.5|
|(TSLF) Term Securities Lending Facility||225|
|(MMIFF) Money Market Investor Funding Facility||540|
|Commercial Paper Funding Facility||257|
|(TARP) Treasury Asset Relief Program||700|
|(FHA) Federal Housing Administration||300|
|Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac||350|
Allow me to ask a rhetorical question or twelve:
How did this happen? Was this economic crisis an accident? The cost of doing business? A simple but inevitable downturn on the great cycle of prosperity? An unfortunate confluence of economic forces, caused by the ripple effects of a far off butterfly, flapping its wings to the (temporary!) detriment of our glorious DOW?
Could this have been avoided? In other words, who the hell can we blame for this mess? Because for something to be avoidable, it must be knowable in advance. And if it was knowable, and there were people sounding the alarm, then it surely follows that there were those who heard that alarm and cynically ignored its warning.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Exhibit A: Peter Schiff. This video is a compilation of Peter’s greatest hits from 2006-2007, before the shit was even near the fan, when various cable outlets would routinely trot him out as the token pessimist to be ridiculed like the town simpleton in a medieval passion play. Watch in amazement as poor Peter’s clear-eyed prescience is rewarded with howls of derision from his fellow Fox News “analysts” (anal-cysts?).
When I saw the length of the video, I figured there was no way I’d watch to the end, and yet there was super genius Ben Stein braying like an ignorant jackass and I couldn’t look away.
Exhibit B is the remarkable true story of Steve Eisman, an investor who for years has been short selling all manner of stocks and bonds related to the the housing market, on the basis that the emperor has no clothes. [Note to you Fantasy Wieners, the article is written by noted Moneyball author, Michael Lewis.]
He and his team set out to find the smelliest pile of loans they could so that they could make side bets against them with Goldman Sachs or Deutsche Bank. What they were doing, oddly enough, was the analysis of subprime lending that should have been done before the loans were made […]
“You have to understand this,” he says. “This was the engine of doom.” Then he draws a picture of several towers of debt. The first tower is made of the original subprime loans that had been piled together. At the top of this tower is the AAA tranche, just below it the AA tranche, and so on down to the riskiest, the BBB tranche—the bonds Eisman had shorted. But Wall Street had used these BBB tranches—the worst of the worst—to build yet another tower of bonds: a “particularly egregious” C.D.O. The reason they did this was that the rating agencies, presented with the pile of bonds backed by dubious loans, would pronounce most of them AAA. These bonds could then be sold to investors—pension funds, insurance companies—who were allowed to invest only in highly rated securities. “I cannot fucking believe this is allowed—I must have said that a thousand times in the past two years,” Eisman says.
Even if you have no idea about any of this (especially if you don’t) I recommend reading the whole piece. You come away with the distinct impression that high finance is nothing more than an elaborate Ponzi scheme.
Kurt Vonnegut wrote about the Money River (God Bless You Mr. Rosewater). How if you were lucky enough or smart enough, you could get one of the guardians to show you the river so that you yourself might “slurp”. I think nowadays the proper metaphor is not a river, but rather a Money Vortex – I’m just not sure if it’s a tornado, funneling money up and out of our pockets… or a swirling eddy, siphoning it down the drain. Nothing about the last 8 years has been an accident. Sure, there has been “collateral damage”, and that’s been regrettable. But in the end, everybody in charge got more or less what they wanted.
The question is, will they get what they deserve?
I think we are too often consumed by the hypocrisy surrounding the presidential campaign and we don’t focus enough on the hypocrisy of the Bush Administration. Apparently the media has forgotten that he is our President….perhaps as a favor to McCain and his “maverick” image. Anyways, Bush loves to tout our actions in Iraq and the “freedom” we have brought the Iraqi people but there has been war and genocide going on nearly as long in Darfur, Sudan. With hundreds of thousands killed and millions displaced from their homes and facing starvation, could we find it in our hearts to fire up the old surge on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur? Or at least meet the number of troops pledged?
But our unwillingness to follow through is intentional so as not to disrupt oil production in the region. And the mainstream media is perfectly complicit in these atrocities because they depend on oil companies for advertising dollars.
Sound familiar? Protect the oil resources but not the people.