Monday, February 28, 2005
POLITICS: A COLUMNIST IS LIKE A BLIND MAN WITH A POOR SENSE OF SMELL....
Now that's an analogy!
The problem is that Lorrie Goldstein, who has some great commentary on FIBeral mismanagement as well as common sense suggestions for government, will now have to spend weeks defending himself from cries of insensitivity from battered women's groups, etc.
And to be honest, he did leave out the more graphic symptoms of an abuser--like the proclivity for the cowards to beat the hell out of women.
I get his point. The government is abusing taxpayer's trust, faith and above all, money.
But the point will be lost because of a ill-conceived attempt to illustrate it.
I expect sensationalism on the front page of the Sun, not on the editorial page.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
POLITICS AS USUAL: BUDGET 2005--HOORAY FOR EVERYONE!
Ralph Goodale Michael Douglas
Anyway.... I thought I would give my comments on the FIBerals federal budget that was released yesterday.
Three words: Not too shabby.
Any I hate to say that. But its true. And I can say that because I remember FIBeral budgets in the mid-90's where I would say to myself "none of my priority areas were covered". Then it was all about money for social programs, immigration, social programs, HRDC, social programs, etc. Not that those areas aren't important, it jsut didn't have any direct impact on me.
I'm selfish when it comes to federal fiscal policy.
I should say from the start that I would have liked to have seen much more tax relief. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has calculated that the average Canadian will only see his or her taxes go down by about 4 cents a day. That's less than $1.50 a month.
Not exactly a "tax cut". More like a "tax scratch" (made that one up myself).
But generally, I liked the budget. I agree with the increased funding for the military, although I don't forget it was the FIBerals that put them in that sad position on the first place. 5,000 troops and 3,000 reservists is a good start. Now we need to ensure they actually get the right equipment and supplies to be effective. International experts all agree that Canada needs a mobile brigade that can land in hostile territory. With $12.5 billion over 5 years, that objective might actually happen.
Businesses got the elimination of the corporate surtax and some goodies to bribe then into meeting Kyoto targets. Better than a tax hike or a kick in the head, I guess.
And what would a FIBeral budget be without an increase in Health funding? $800 million for wait times, etc. The monster needs to be feed. Why reform the system when you can throw money at it?
I'm in favour of the $5 billion funding for childcare, because the framework could include tax deductions for working families. The Feds are still working on a deal with the provinces, but if its just about a new bureaucracy (Babies Canada, maybe?) for a big nanny-state program, then I'll just take my money, thanks.
I know some Mayors are squaking about the fact that they'll have to wait close to 5 years for the bulk of the $5 billion gas tax, but ramping up to $2 Billion (and plans to keep it there) is pretty damn good. The Federation of Canadian Municipalites themsleves say the infrastructure is $2 billion. That, plus other funding (Green Funds, Municipal Infrastructure funds, etc) means they can whittle that down over time.
This time 2 years ago they had nothing. Its all relative.
Students did actually get pretty well nothing, but neither did I when I went to school. Get a part time job and fill out that OSAP application. Then pay down yoyur student debt when you get out of school. I did. It sucks, but that's life.
Lastly, Kyoto got a big boost yesterday. Apparently, its the "greenest" budget in history. Once again, the FIBs have promised $5 billion (what's with that number?) for cleaning up this stinkin' country. Mostly incentives for power programs, but there's also $2.3 billion to work towards meeting the Kyoto requirements. Much of that plan still has to be finalized. Maybe we should give more money to that loveable character Rick Mercer so he can tell us how little ol' us can help save the planet? I thought we were trying to cut down on noxious gasses?
Anyway, if it was up to me, I would have spent a lot of the money on tax cuts, incentives for businesses and increased productivity. But at least I can say that many of the programs could actually make my life (as a middle class taxpayer from Ontario) a little easier.
Isn't that what's important?
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
MY SO-CALLED LIFE: WHEN I SHUFFLE OFF THIS MORTAL COIL...
Sunday, February 20, 2005
POLITICS AS USUAL: POLL--BEST CARTOON PM?
The Rt. Hon. Bugsley R. Bunny
I've had this discussion with numerous friends and colleagues.
Which cartoon character would make the best Prime Minister (or President)?
My vote is for Bugs Bunny. Why? Firstly, because he's highly entertaining. That goes without saying. And he's more than happy to stroll on his merry little way, working hard and not being a bother to anyone in particular. Warner Brothers themselves describe him as having "quick wit, brash resourcefulness, and boisterous independence".
Can't say that about our current PM.
Now, get Bugs mad and we all know you're in for an ass whuppin'. Elmer Fudd? The Black Knight? Yosemite Sam? Marvin the Martian? Wile E. Coyote? All have felt the bitter sting of a tussle with Mr. Bunny.
As the Looney Tunes website points out:
"The gregarious but truly lovable Bugs Bunny always wins, no matter who he's battling, and no matter what the situation. No bully is too big, no hypocrite safe, no pompous adversary so powerful, that Bugs can't joyfully whittle him down to kindling wood."
Sounds like just the kind of leader Canada needs.
Your vote, please.
Friday, February 18, 2005
B! TALK DAILY: APPRENTICE 3--LOSER A GO-GO
God's gift...to losers!
Damn, he's an idiot. I think we all knew ol' Mikey here was dead man walkin'. Great to see the Street Smarts team win again. The difference in creativity between them and Book Smarts was astounding. Maybe I shouldn't have gone to university. Oh well.
- While I have never found Erin too impressive in the skills department, she is a NINJA in the boardroom. She'll get far on A3 with that alone. She has a soundbite for every task. I'm impressed.
- Michael on the other hand, is an idiot. Bren was smacking the crap out of Stephanie and Michael jumps in front of the train. Bad move.
- But this speaks to DT's criteria for a good firin'. It seems its doesn't matter how you perform on the task, but how you perform in the Boardroom. Net Worth couldn't keep it together last week, and one of them got tossed.
- Again, I thought the casting director trailer was very creative, very smart.
- Angie needed to step her game up. Did you see her get an ass whippin' over the phone from one of the vendors? He laid the smackdown on her.
- Michael was right about one thing--I wouldn't buy a massage from him, that's for sure.
- And his card on the table? What's up with that? Go out with some dignity, dude.
- Speaking of dignity, what's up with Michael's taxicam rant? He talks about how backstabbing and lowdown his team was, then at the end he says "But they were some great people and I had a fantastic time". No need to suck up now, Mikey--you lost.
- John is the man.
POLITICS AS USUAL: LOOKS GOOD ON YA
Firstly, its a poinient reminder (as if we needed one) of how vindictive and S.O.B. our former PM is. Nothing like shooting your rival in the leg on the way out the door.
Secondly, this reality really flies in the face of how Parties are branded versus reality. We all know that the FIBerals love to think of themselves as the Party of "da little guy" and the the CPC are just a bunch of corporate shills.
But the reality is that the FIBerals are the ones that are hurting thanks to the near-ban on corporate donations. The Conservatives are relying--as they have in the past--on individual donations of lesser amounts.
Sounds more "little guy" than the FIBs to me.
Reason #321 that "Mr Dithers" won't call an election anytime soon.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
ON THE 1S AND 2S: KEEPING MY PIMP HAND STRONG
As a hip-hop fan (who happens to be a conservative), I have always been, frankly, embarassed by other conservatives who try to "speak" about rap music, its history, impact or signifigance as an art form. It seems this disease has seeped into those of the liberal variety too.
I get it that many folk in middle America (and Canada) don't understand the culture of hip-hop. Many ignored it while it was in its infancy, dismissing it as a fad. They did, however absorb stupid, narrow stereotypes (see above) of what they think hip-hop is: big gold chain wearing, ebonics-speaking thugs standing in a b-boy stance.
Until rap music overtook country music as the #1 seller of records as a genre. Numerous artists, including Snoop Dogg, Outkast, Jay-Z , Nelly, Tupac and yes even Eminem have sold tens of millions of records. And everyone is buying these records--black, white, red state, blue state--you name it; hip-hop is everywhere.
Now, I don't claim to be anything I'm not: I'm a white dude from Toronto, Canada. Not exactly "ghetto fabulous". I'm not a gangster or a thug. I'm a corporate shill. But I have listened to hip-hop for over 15 years, so I'd like to think I know what I'm talking about.
Middle America/Canada still are largely ignorant about the culture of hip-hop and the art (yes, art) of rapping. Case in point: I probably would never had noticed his blog, but Gotham Image posted a comment on my "Word of the Day" post. Curious, I went to his blog and found his political style "rap":
Yo! Yo! Yo! - Gangsta-zales is in the house!
*Yo! Yo! Yo! - Gangsta-zales is in the heeeeeooooooouse!
Who dat be?
You Da MC ! You Tell Me!
He Be Gonzales, Da Original A.G. At Da D.O.J.!
What You Say?
You Heard Me, He Da Original A.G. AT Da D.O.J.!
Check It Ho!
Listen A.G. - We Be Over To You....
Thank You MC, Been Poping Some Chill -At Da Dubya Grill
Mamma Christen'd Me Alberto
Made My Name At Gitmo
Me Memos Stoke Fear
More Than Any Ashcroft Seer!
Who Dat Be?
Suckah, listen to me, I be Da Original A.G. at Da D.O.J
Check It Ho's!
Check It Ho's!
Looks like we might have found the next Eminem.
Political satire aside, this is a great example of what mainstream folk think rap is. The most ironic part is that this is coming from someone (I'll call him MC Batman) who seems to be a liberal.
Hey--Blue states! I'll fill you in on a little secret. Hip-hop could be a powerful tool for you. Most rap, even gangsta rap, focus on the issues liberals "claim" as "their issues": poverty, police brutality, social commentary, crime, systemic racism, uncaring government, etc.
Here's one example, "It All Falls Down" by Grammy-winner Kanye West:
Man I promise, I'm so self conscious
That's why you always see me with at least one of my watches
Rollies and Pasha's done drove me crazy
I can't even pronounce nothing, pass that versach-y!
Then I spent 400 bucks on this
Just to be like "ni**a you ain't up on this"!
And I can't even go to the grocery store
Without some ones thats clean and a shirt with a team
It seems we living the american dream
But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem
The prettiest people do the ugliest things
For the road to riches and diamond rings
We shine because they hate us, floss cause they degrade us
We trying to buy back our 40 acres
And for that paper, look how low we a'stoop
Even if you in a Benz, you still a ni**a in a coop
Pretty clever, actually. Not exactly "Check It, Ho's", but hey, Kanye's only done 1 album.
Many rap artists and fans see hip-hop as a direct reflection of their lives and circumstance. They speak in "slang" because that is the language of the streets. Chuck D of the legendary group Public enemy called rap "the black CNN". Words like "dun", "shorty", etc are part of the urban vernacular. They speak about violence, gangs, etc, because that's what they see on a regular basis. To mock that form of expression, I would suggest, is tantamount to mocking the current less-than-positive circumstances of urban youth.
Not very liberal.
Most people agree that the best satirists are the ones who understand, absorb and analyze their subject matter (see: The Daily Show, Dennis Miller, etc). I would suggest that anyone who wants to discuss/make fun of/utilize rap do their homework first.
Check that, beyatch!
ON THE 1S AND 2S: HIP-HOP TERMINOLOGY
1. Used like the word "son". "What up, dun?" -- Nas (Represent ).
2. Very dark, used in a negative setting as in dark and ugly. "They always let the motherf**king dun ni**a hold the cash." -- Lil Kim (Queen Bitch [????]).
POLITICS AS USUAL: THAT'S VICE-REGAL HOSPITALITY FOR YA
A 15-year old asks a question about spending of taxpayers dollars and he gets tossed out of a tour of Rideau Hall? Garbage.
To be fair, the Office of the GG has stated that they will issue and apology, but I believe it should come from none other that Princess Adrienne herself.
Now, I don't think this situation will scar the kid for life, but I do believe it is an accurate reflection on the general disdain that the GG, her office and the government have for Canadian taxpayers as a whole: "Listen, we know what's good for you, so you need to show some respect! Don't you know the Governor General has been to Nunavut three times?? What have you done?"
When will Canadians start demanding the same respect from their government?
UPDATE: As if we needed any more proof that the GG reads CH, I give you this.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
MY SO-CALLED LIFE: ISHILL FOR IPOD
Bow to thine master!
I'm not usually a corporate whore (unless the money's right), but I felt compelled to mention this particular product. Part of the reason is because there has been SO much discussion on all things iPod (U2 version, mad rush at Christmas, your life has no value unless you own one, etc).
I recently received a 20GB iPod from my wifey for Valentine's Day (thanks, honey!). I have been an "MP3 dude" for a number of years, and I have been downloading, ripping and listening to electronic music for a while. I have always found that this format is perfect for me: its portable, CD quality, never really fades over time and can be enjoyed in a number of (ever growing) devices and mediums. I had a 128 MB MP3 player, which--while enjoyable--was somewhat limited.
Then iPod came into my life.
I gotta tell you--the hype is real. Since I opened the gift, I've been ripping CD's into it. A 20 GB unit can hold about 5,000 songs, which is a LOT of music. I haven't even begun to fill it up yet. But the best part is the way its formated. Using your little "wheel", you can sort and pick songs by album, artist, playlist--you name it! I have always had a tough time figuring out what I wanted to listen to. Having an MP3 player that could take about 1 hour worth of songs made me have to be very choosey on what I put into it. And having a wide range of musicI like, I had to make sure the songs I downloaded for that day were ones I wanted to listen to all day.
Not this baby. I have about 20 albums worth of songs and still have lots to go. So now I don't really have to choose.
As an added bonus, I picked up the iTrip, which is an FM transmitter for the iPod. Basically, it will play your iPod on any FM radio in the vicinity as long as its tuned into the right station (factory setting 87.9). So now, I don't have to lug around 25 CDs with me, just the ol' iPod.
Anyway, I guess I have a rockin wife. Great gift. And you don't have to apologize if you want to return that Swiffer gift set.
Monday, February 14, 2005
POLITICS AS USUAL: MISSILES AND PRINCIPLES
As we've seen in a recent EKOS poll, the idea of Canada's participation in that particular initiative is becoming less and less popular amongst the Canadians.
I have no problem with continental missile defence, as I think Canada should participate in something so critical to our on-going security. However, I think this issue will be a perfect example of whether PM Martin has any principles at all, and that he is willing to stick by them.
Martin has been a long time advocate of missile defence. As Star columnist James Travers points out:
"Back when Martin was toppling Jean Chrétien, the malevolently misnamed Son of Star Wars project was so low profile that Ottawa could have negotiated a role without much risk.
After all, Martin had already spent his political capital successfully framing the issue during the Liberal leadership as protection for Canadian sovereignty. En route to his convention coronation, Martin argued: 'If somebody is going to be sending missiles over Canadian airspace, we want to be at the table.'"
That was back when the only people who were crying about missile defence was Smilin' Jack and the NDP. Now that its becoming a bigger issue, and 54% of Canadian are against it (I'm sure the more interesting figure is that those people also see themselves as Liberal supporters), whether Martin will continue to advocate for Canada's participation.
I suspect, and we all know I'm biased, is that Martin will be search for a way out. But I think this speaks volumes about the kind of man Martin is and whether Harper can leverage those weaknesses to his advantage.
I think its safe to say that Harper isn't exactly "wowing" the Canadian electorate. But he has been working hard to establish that he is a guy that will stick to his principles and "do what he said he would do". Missile defence is a great opportunity for him to bolster that image by contrasting his stance (firm support) with Martin's (firm, now shaky support) on an issue that will likely become more prominent as time goes on.
Martin is definitely at risk of being seen as a ditherer by the electorate. I think he wears that label with media and with the CPC, but voters are still focused on important things like the hockey lockout.
If Harper is able to latch that perception onto Martin, it will go a long way towards defeating him. The CPC should use missile defence not as a policy plank, but as a character issue--force him itno making a decision and use his previous support for missile defence to paint him as the dithering leader we all know him to be.
I think Canadians will react accordingly.
Friday, February 11, 2005
POLITICS AS USUAL: A FATAL MISTAKE?
I think this is something that could severely damage the Liberals, even fatally.
Statement of the facts:
- Auditor-General finds $100 Million of sponsorship funds has been misappropriated.
- A "mad as hell" PM Martin calls an inquiry
- A senior Liberal testifying agreed that the set up was not unlike "money laundering"
- Jean Chretien, PM at the time when the money disappeared, openly mocks the head of the Inquiry and stonewalls when asked for an explination.
- The Liberal caucus, led by PM Martin give Chretien a standing ovation for his testimony, saying that "he did the Liberal Party and the caucus proud".
So, the sitting PM has openly applauded a former PM who blatently fluffed off the Inquiry and its questions?
Everyone is talking about the general contempt that Chretien showed for the Inquiry during his testimony. The FIBerals applauded that.
The Toronto Sun gets it:
"If you want to know Paul Martin's real attitude toward the Gomery inquiry -- which he set up to get to the bottom of the sponsorship scandal -- forget about his respectful demeanour on the witness stand yesterday.
And ask yourself what he was doing leading the cheers and a standing ovation for Jean Chretien inside the Liberal caucus room the day before.
This after Chretien had thumbed his nose at the inquiry and displayed his contempt for the entire process! "
I think, if the Opposition can run with it, this event will prove hugely disasterous for the FIBerals. Remember the outrage last year when Adscam first broke? Well, only one of two things can explain FIBeral MP's reaction yesterday:
- They were lying when they said they were upset.
- They believe Chretien's version of events.
Either way, for the contempt they too have shown the Canadian taxpayer, they deserved to get dumped.
B! TALK DAILY: THE APPRENTICE 3--SO BAD, IT'S GOOD
Even her eyebrows are evil
Its true. When she's talking to you, they have this wierd, evil arch to them. Anyway, it was another good episode, although I'm not quite convinced that the Big D and Mark Burnett aren't just trying to come up with twists to keep things fresh. Well, whatever--it works.
Nevertheless, please consider this episode as Exhibit W as to why my friends and colleagues could kick both teams butts. They suck right now.
- Like in other seasons, they are systematically eliminating all the colourful characters, leaving only mainstream, cookie cutter finalists. Kelly? Bill? Kwame? Jennifer? Who did people talk about on the show more, Bill or Omorosa? I know--Bill's solid. But not exactly a personality. Look at this season--Danny? Gone. Brian? Gone. Won't be long until Bren, Erin, Michael, etc are history.
- Speaking of Bren and Michael, Erin saved their ass. Bren should have been on the chopping block for that horrible, horrible "Sex in the Salad" commerical.
- In a related point, Michael shouldn't of. He didn't do anything wrong on this task. In fct, he questioned the direction but soldiered along anyway.
- Erin is a World Class bullshitter.
- I'm sure that "enraged actress #1" was genuine. Two theories: 1) A ploy for more screen time or 2) Producer-enduced drama. But Bren sure did look like the Man in calming her down.
- I think rager Chris will kill someone if he has a change. He seems to be holding on a little too tight. You know he has potential for drama when DT specifically asks him for comment. Although I'm not sure how he could comment, as I'm pretty confident he just skipped the task. Did anyone actually see him?
- Again on Chris, what's with his bizarre rant about homosexuals? His point--that it caters to a small market--was fair enough but the whole thing was just weird. Especially when he kept emphasizing "HOMOSEXUAL". But the classic was when DT stopped to ask him: "Chris, are you a homosexual?" That was awesome.
- John has serious potential. His concept was funny--just poorly executed by Evilbrow.
- Street Smarts had the better commerical. Some might say that it was only "marginally better", which is true. But some teams have won tasks by 10 cents. That's marginal.
POLITICS AS USUAL: GOT YOURS YET?
I actually think that the Order of Canada is an important institution in this country.
But you have to start wondering how they choose this particular honour. Frankly, I thought it was a lot more exclusive. No offense to any of the 74 recipients who were awarded the Order yesterday. I'm sure they're fine individuals who have made great contributions to their local communities.
But look at some of the recipients:
A former MuchMusic VJ? (Denise Donlon)
A movie director? (Denys Arcand)
A founding member of the rock group "Lighthouse"? (Paul Hoffert)
Sir Fredrick Banting I can understand. Wayne Gretzky I can understand. Former PM's I can understand.
Even Lloyd Robertson I can understand.
But man, you'd think the list would be a little more discriminating. Are we running out of great Canadians to honour? Maybe its because they don't award the Order posthumously.
I'm seriously considering putting my name forward as a nominee. If all these people can get it, then why can't I? Maybe you should to.
Here's the form.
UPDATE: Colbert's Comments makes a great point about ex-pat Paul Anka getting the OoC.
POLITICS AS USUAL: THIS UNION'S GOT ME FUMIN'
So let me get this straight: a private enterpise has decided to close its doors because its no longer profitable. Yes, 160 lost jobs, but that is how a free economy works.
Now, not only is the Quebec Federation of Labour calling for a province-wide boycott of Wal-Mart, but the Nurses Union and a Union representing Alcan workers are organizing boycotts as well.
Leaving aside the fact that they should stick to screwing their own employers, what gives any union a right to dictate whether a store, shop, factory or office remains open or closed?
Oh wait--that's right. THEY DON'T.
Just another reason why rade unions need to be thrown into the "ash heap of history", to paraphrase one of the greatest union busters, the Gipper.
POLITICS AS USUAL: THAT ABOUT SAYS IT ALL
This Toronto Star headline is a perfect summary of the PM on this and on issues in general:
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
MY SO-CALLED LIFE: MY BLOGGER GIRLFRIEND
She's the female version of CH!
I love her and I want to marry her.
Just don't tell my wifey.
Or, I guess, Stephen Harper.
You know, the whole polygamy thing.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Hot for Teacher
Why are mid-late twenty year old teachers who are accused of having sex with one of their much younger students always so HOT?
What, you can't find a willing male who is you age and not a student?
Balderdash, I say.
POLITICS AS USUAL: DO YOU SWEAR TO BE A SMARMY, ARROGANT S.O.B., SO HELP YOU GOD?
Toronto Sun: Small Town Class
I love the Toronto Sun.
Anyway, I'm sure you've all read about former PM testifying at the Gomery inquiry, so I won't go into headsplitting detail. A few thoughts:
1. Its fun being right. If anyone thinks this whole thing was just some lawyers who successfully prepped their client and an ex-PM who was quick on his feet, they are woefully naieve:
(From the Globe and Mail)
"This golf-ball sequence, which produced the "Westmount cheap" line, in reference to the wealthy Montreal enclave, had been much anticipated by his strategists. They had indicated to at least one reporter that a great line was on its way and to wait for it.
Mr. Chrétien's former principal secretary, Eddie Goldenberg, who crafted the compelling 35-minute opening statement for his boss; his executive assistant Bruce Hartley; Senator Jim Munson, his former director of communications; and Charlie Angelakos, who was a senior staffer in his PMO, were at the back of the room to support him — and, of course, to wait for the delivery."
2. Can you believe the pettiness and vindictive nature of Chretien and Martin? We've all followed it for a long time, but apparently it knows no bounds. There are two PM's--one current one former--who are (or will be) on a judicial inquiry stand beating the crap out of each other. Amazing.
(From Chantal Hebert in the Star)
"For the past year, the Prime Minister and his advisers have carefully nurtured the notion that there was a greater-than-average distance between Martin and the troubled sponsorship program. They have done so by painting the initiative as a brainchild of the former prime minister, an operation run so close to Jean Chrétien's chest that Martin, as his chief rival, was largely out of the loop.
The underlying assumption was that the sponsorship file was handled within an inner circle so tight that even as influential a government member as the finance minister would have been at a loss to pick up any hint of trouble.
But yesterday it took Chrétien less than five minutes to throw a rock into his successor's glass house.
One page into his opening statement, the former prime minister had already taken pains to show that the decision to increase the federal government's visibility in Quebec was taken not within his inner circle but with the unanimous backing of his cabinet, shortly after the 1995 referendum.
Six pages into the statement, Chrétien dwelt at length on his and Martin's joint decision to set aside a multi-million-dollar reserve designed to fund unspecified unity initiatives such as the sponsorship program."
3. The more I see him operate, the more I respect Chretien as a political operator. While he still led an incompetent government that apparently had no respect for taxpayers dollars or accountability, he did it with pizazz!
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
POLITICS AS USUAL: THE RESULT? MORE "ANIMAL HOUSE" MOVIES
- The enshrinement in legislation of the right of every "qualified" student to attend college or university regardless of means;
- A greatly enriched student loans and bursaries program, including full reimbursement of tuition fees for low-income students; and
- A major increase in government funding for colleges and universities to bring Ontario up to the Canadian average.
"Alright, fine! I ruined the Province! So sue me!"
As the Toronto Sun reports, student groups were quick to denounce the plan:
"Bob Rae's recommendations are that if you are a middle-income family and you can't afford the tuition fee increase of 20% that it looks like he is calling for, and (if) you are ineligible for student loans, (then) he is actually making recommendations that student debt be transferred to the family debt through the family loan," said Jesse Greener of the CFS."
And for once, I agree with them. But not for the reasons you might think. I don't have a problem with tuition fees going up. I think it leads to more competition and a better school system.
Organizations like the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and other student groups have bemoaned any increase in tuition fees, claiming that the result will be a "U.S. style" post-secondary system where tuition runs about $40,000 US.
But does it? Not really.
While stated tuition does come close to that figure, many universities in the U.S. charge tuition based on the financial situation of the family. They also have created scholarships and other methods to make going to school more affordable.
In the FAQ section under the "financial aid" heading (hat tip to reader KMac), the Harvard University website states the following:
Does Harvard offer financial aid?
Yes. About 70% of Harvard students receive some form of financial aid -- grants, loans, and/or part-time work. Our program of need-based financial aid is designed to meet 100% of a family's demonstrated need. Our financial aid policies apply equally to international and U.S. citizens.
Which is interesting. But this FAQ is far more interesting:
Can students find jobs on or near campus?
Yes. There are always plenty of jobs available. We assist all students in securing part-time employment, should they choose to work during the academic year. Employment opportunities range from dining hall duties to work in the University libraries, laboratories, and offices. Students have also earned money on campus as bartenders, teaching assistants, sportswriters, computer programmers, lifeguards, and research assistants. Working on average six to eight hours per week, most students find that they can work, excel academically, and participate in a range of extracurricular activities.
Wow. Working while you go to school. What a concept. And considering the value of a degree from Harvard, the benefit clearly outweighs the cost (monetary or otherwise).
But what I do have a problem with is the double hit Rae is suggesting. On the one hand, he is stating that tuition fees should go up. Fair enough. On the other hand, he is advocating huge, mulit billion dollar investments in post secondary education. So while universites are allowed to charge higher fees, they still have the luxury of increased government investment from our tax dollars--even though only 50% of high school students go to university.
Sweet deal for them.
I also do not feel that post-secondary education is a "right". Its not. Its a privilege. And it should be treated as such. I think we all have seen what happens when something is deemed a "right": it loses almost all value as entitlement takes over.
In any event, Globe columnist Jeffrey Simpson has it right. Rae has given the FIBerals a golden opportunity to break another promise under the guise of following "expert advice": "Hey, we're just doing what the blue ribbon education panel told us to do".
Watch for them to break the "tuition freeze" promise, with or without the conditions Rae said were prerequisites for a tuition increase. I believe that will be Broken Promise #40 or so, but its hard to keep count.
POLITICS AS USUAL: BOY ON BOYCOTTING
So here I was, about to lay the CH Smackdown on the Canadian Family Life Coalition (CFLC) for calling for a boycott of Famous Players cinemas because the theatre chain was running a 10-second ad supporting same sex marriage.
In the initial media story, the CFLC was demanding equal time to run an ad supporting their views. And they felt Famous Players should pay for it. Here I was, about to say that this is why social conservatives get a bad name, and that stupid calls for boycotts just make them look petty and small, that Famous Players shouldn't use editorial controls over what ads are run, etc.
All fine and good until I read this one line in the Star on the story:
"The ads were donated by Salah Bachir, president of Famous Players Media, a separate company, to Canadians for Equal Marriage, a pro-same-sex marriage group."
Now, why the CLFC didn't mention that point in their press release, I don't know. But that changes things for me. Its bad enough that I have to go to the movies (which I do often) and be bombarded with TV-like ads. Now the President of Famous Players is wading into the Same Sex Marriage debate? Incredible.
Bachir responds in this fashion:
"I did this as a private citizen," Bachir said in an interview. "And I would advertise it anywhere, on screens, in newspapers or anywhere. It's something that I'm very proud of doing. I'm a great supporter of gay and lesbian and minority rights."
So why didn't you take out an ad in the Toronto Star as a private citizen? Don't you think its a conflict to pay for an ad in the theatre chain YOU ARE THE PRESIDENT OF? Politicizing your company is not something I would be proud of. Who knows what kind of a deal he got? Is it a rate that other groups could also enjoy? I doubt it.
So, now I've changed my tune. I think Famous Players SHOULD pay for an equal ad. Or give groups like the CFLC a deeply discounted rate. Bachir took a side--as the Preident of a public company, he should equal the playing field.
One note, though: I don't think these kinds of ads should be in theatres at all. People aren't looking for political discourse when they go to see a flick. There is nothing in the Charter that says all aspects of life need to inlcude current events. I only advocate having another ad in the name of fairness.
Monday, February 07, 2005
B! TALK DAILY: THE BEST PART OF THE SUPER BOWL
Take a look for yourself. Some are good, some are alright and others are just plain boring.
You can view the ads HERE.
B! TALK DAILY: THE APPRENTICE 3--GET A JOB, HIPPIE
Dan, Dan the Music Man
And this season continues to impress. I quite enjoyed this last episode, and I have to say that the Big D made the right decision. However, many that I have talked to who watch A3 really didn't like ol' Danny Boy. While unsuprising, it might make the show less interesting to watch, which would be a shame. I have to say, though, that this guy was just horrible. He reminded me of a "corporate morale director" who is responsible for "silly hat day" and the Friday afternoon "group hug". He probably also sings songs to his girlfriend to express how much he enjoyed their date at Olive Garden together. Yeah, makes me want to vomit too.
And the dude's 39. How sad.
So, onto some random thoughts:
- The only "creative" thing Danny did was wear a tie over his t-shirt. In BOTH tasks where he was asked to come up with a "great marketing idea" he flamed out. This guy was a professional bull---t artist and it showed. I still think his "baseball promotion" for BK was just a train wreck. Memo to Danny: get a new gig. "Professional ass" doesn't pay much.
- Its mediocrity, not mediocracy, dumbass!
- Who the hell is Kendra? Does she even do anything on the show? When she was dismissed out of the boardroom by DT I said "Who the hell as that?" As far as I know she's had about 3.8 seconds of screentime. A real anchor for the team.
- While it has been documented in this series that sex sells (especially when its women doing the selling), Michael still acted like a child. Doesn't he looks like someone that likes to slap his kids around? I think he's a marked man.
- Speaking of Michael, I think its funny that DT is completely ambiguous when asked a direct question by Danny about whether Michael can be fired (as he has an exemption) and then goes on to tell him "rules are rules" and that he in no way could be fired, as he is exempt--after Danny picked him to go into the boardroom.
- Verna will go far in life--she gets picked out of 1 million candidates to be on a nationally televised show and then quits because she's too tired. With that kind of gumption, I'm sure she'll be a real success.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
POLITICS AS USUAL: TO "COYNE" A PHRASE--DAMN SKIPPY
But he is bang on in his National Post column yesterday.
I have a subscription, so allow me to post the relevant sections:
"Of all the many responses from around the world to Sunday's historic election in Iraq, the one that stood out for sheer jaw-dropping effronterie was that offered by -- who else? -- the French. The election, a spokesman for the French President said, was "a great success for the international community."
Well, in a way it was: the more than 40 members of the international community who, led by the United States, Great Britain and Australia, fought a war to liberate the Iraqi people from the genocidal regime of Saddam Hussein -- who put soldiers in harm's way, or contributed money and materiel, or at least lent moral support to the operation. They, along with the millions of Iraqis who defied the threats of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his al-Qaeda affiliates and went to the polls, are entitled to take some satisfaction from the vote.
But somehow that's not the "international community" I think the Elysee had in mind. Theirs is the international community that opposed the war -- not the majority of the European Union, or the majority of the OECD, or the majority of the G7, all of whom supported the war, but Saddam's clients on the Security Council, who were content to pass resolution after meaningless resolution demanding Saddam comply with elementary norms of civilized behaviour, but never to enforce them; who supplied him with the technology with which to further his nuclear ambitions (take a bow, France!), or the missiles with which to threaten his neighbours (come on down, Russia!), or the chemical agents used to gas the Kurds (hey, Germany, I thought you were out of that business!).
Had they any shame at all, they would admit their guilt, or at least confess their errors, or at the very least keep quiet."
Sorry France, you don't pitch in $20, you don't get to tap the keg.
POLITICS AS USUAL: CHICKENS COMING HOME TO ROOST?
Here's an interesting article in the Toronto Star.
It says that Ontario teachers are getting increasingly concerned about the "bullying" that parents of students are doing these days.
They say that once upon a time, teaching was seen as an honourable professions, and they never had to worry about the parents disrespecting them, yelling at them, or even physically abusing them.
Now, I don't condone violence or abuse. There's never any reason for that in this kind of a setting. But don't you think that the "parent rage" that seems to be happening in our school system has something to do with the political militancy of the teachers in Ontario?
Allow me to share a story. The year in 1999. I'm in Peterborough helping one of our MPPs get elected. I'm canvassing for them. I come to a door and this woman opens it, and I give the pitch: "Did what we said we would do", tax cuts, more jobs, etc). She's polite, but non-commital. Then she says "Uh oh. Here comes my husband. He's a teacher. He doesn't like you guys very much."
Before I had a chance to give him a brochure, he's calling me a c--ksuc--r and ordering me off his property, all while screaming obscenities. So much for political discourse.
Now--would you expect me to respect someone in that profession? Would you respect someone who runs political ads, tells your children that the Premier of the province is "evil"? Who go on strike and strand you and your children, just to prove a point?
Don't think so.
If you teachers want to be seen to be in a noble profession, they have to be noble professionals. Look like they are getting what they have been giving the Ontario public for many years.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
POLITICS AS USUAL: THE THIRD SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Posted for posterity in its entirety:
"The people of Iraq voted for themselves. This is the wonderful thing that happened on Sunday. Time and again, reporters who asked people standing in the long lines why they were voting were told they were doing it not to support this or that candidate or faction or religious group, nor that they were voting against the terrorists, but that they were doing it for the sake of their own dignity and self-respect, and to be free.
The ordinary people of Iraq thus have made themselves more important, more substantial, than they were the day before. They have begun, at the very least, to start to break themselves free from their history.
Of course, much can still go wrong. No doubt, a fair amount will still go wrong.
The Shiites and the Kurds may overplay the high cards that circumstances have given them — that of weight of numbers in the instance of the Shia and of ethnic solidarity in the instance of the Kurds. (The real objective of most Kurds is independence from Iraq.)
The minority Sunni, who once ran the nation, may fail to respond to offers to take part in the writing of a new, democratic and federal constitution, even if the victorious Shia and Kurds make such offers to them.
The terrorists and the insurgents won't give up. Recruiting may begin to dwindle now and the readiness of ordinary Iraqis to inform, most especially on the "foreigners" or outsiders, may increase. But suicide bombers are almost impossible to stop entirely.
Far from last, the risk is real that too many of the newly elected politicians may turn out to be incompetent and corrupt, while the public's expectations of what they can do for them may soar to unattainable heights. At democracy's start, its greatest enemy is always democracy itself.
But nothing can diminish what has happened. Something like 60 per cent of Iraqis (about the same proportion as in the U.S. or Canada) turned out to vote despite the threats to themselves and to their children.
This is why they have put distance between themselves and their history.
Ordinary Iraqis, following in the footsteps of the Palestinians and, before them, of the Afghanis, have begun to accomplish something else of potentially greater significance. They have shown, or more exactly have seized the opportunity to show, that a real alternative exists to terrorism and to religious fanaticism.
What may happen now, as a consequence, is that the war against terrorism will begin to turn into a war for democracy. What was negative will become positive. What was reactive will become creative.
Here it is time to set down in type the most difficult sentence in the English language. That sentence is short and simple. It is this: Bush was right.
President George W. Bush wasn't right to invade Iraq. His justifications for doing so were (almost all of them) either frivolous, in comparison to the scale of the venture, or were outright fraudulent.
Having conquered Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein, Bush and his officials and generals then made every blunder that could be imagined by an occupying power, adding several original ones of their own.
But on the defining, fundamental question, Bush was right.
He understood that to defeat an idea, no matter how perverse and brutal it might be, it was necessary to have an opposite and superior idea.
He understood, in other words — instinctively rather than intellectually — that the only way to win a war against terrorism was to turn it into a war for democracy.
This is now happening. Against the quest of ordinary Iraqis for dignity and self-respect and freedom, the terrorists in Iraq had nothing ultimately to offer, except blood and hatred.
Already, Palestinians and Afghanis have made the same choice.
Inevitably, many others elsewhere in the Arab and Islamic worlds are going to start to wonder why those choices are still denied them.
It is not the beginning of the end. But some 3 1/2 years after the mass murders of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York and Washington, and then of all their successors, we may have reached the end of the beginning."
POLITICS AS USUAL: ...AND SHE'LL CRY IF SHE WANTS TO
"The Republican party is embroiled in a heated and high-stakes battle between its far-right and moderate wings-with conservatives declaring open warfare on the moderates who ask themselves "Whatever happened to the party of Lincoln?" Bearing profound implications not only for the future of the party but also for the future of American politics, this momentous battle will rage on no matter what the outcome of the presidential election.
Christine Todd Whitman retired as a member of the Bush administration in June 2003, tired of the ideological battles in Washington and eager to return home to New Jersey. A lifelong and loyal Republican and a leader of the party's moderate wing, she is a passionate believer in the power of the "productive middle" in politics.
Relentlessly pushing their ideological stances on abortion rights, race relations, the environment, tax policy, and go-it-alone foreign policy, the conservative extremists are not only violating traditional Republican principles, she argues, but are also holding the party back from achieving a true majority. By playing so slavishly to the far-right base, running negative campaigns and marginalizing women, the party has forsaken the much broader base that propelled the "Reagan revolution" and has fueled the country's overheated polarization."
You can find her website HERE.
I shoudl say from the beginning that I'm not a fan of airing dirty laundry publicly. I beleive that if a Party is having internal debates, they should be kept internal. It just gives the other side more dirt to throw at you down the road.
However, I do feel that Dubya tends to focus on promoting policies that wouldn't be considered "moderate" to say the least. I think the discussion Whitman's having is an important one. And it comes at an appropriate time--Bush has one his second term, and the GOP will need to start laying the groundwork and direction for the next election in 2008. There will be a new candidate, and the Party needs to decide who it wants to lead it, and more importantly, where it wants to go.
Frankly, I've always felt that there is an opportunity to build a broad base of support, not unlike Reagan did in '84. And I think Dubya can play a part in that role. I just hope that some Republicans don;t see this as an opportunity to emulate the Democrats.
We have a saying here in Canada--When voters have a choice between real Liberals and a Party posing as Liberals, they will always take the real thing.
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