My Civic Duty
Published by Toronto Mike on June 19, 2004 @ 20:38 in Politics

My DutyI voted tonight. The election is actually June 28th, but tonight was an advance voting night. I'm not sure what my slo-pitch schedule will look like on June 28th and I wanted to fulfill my civic duty.

Sitting behind that cardboard barrier with by ballot in hand I knew what I had to do for my country. I cast my vote for my local Liberal MP in the hopes we can avoid the Stephen Harper regime. The more I hear and read about Mr. Harper, the more I get a Dubya vibe from him and that scares the shit out of me.

Fellow Canadians can vote on Monday from noon to 20:00 if they want to avoid the June 28th rush. Monday is the last advance voting day. Go here to find out where to go on Monday to keep the Liberal party in power. Trust me, it's for the best.

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Nail Biter
Published by Toronto Mike on June 17, 2004 @ 13:13 in Politics

Nail BiterStephen Harper is publicly saying his Conservative Party will win a majority government on June 28. I'd call that wishful thinking. Everything I've read regarding polls and predictions tell me it's neck and neck. Folks, we have a nail biter on our hands.

Harper's Conservative Party and Paul Martin's Liberal Party each have an equal shot at winning this thing, but it's so close either government will be short lived. It's expected we'll be back in the voting booth within 18 months. For 25 years there's been political stability in Canada but that's all changing now. No minority administration since World War Two has lasted more than two years and the last minority government, that of Conservative Joe Clark, collapsed in 1980 after nine months when parliament voted against his budget.

Harper may garner a slim victory even without my support, but he won't win a majority. If he does, I may seek refuge in Iceland.

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Terrorism Report
Published by Toronto Mike on June 13, 2004 @ 13:09 in Politics

Terrorism ReportDo you remember that report on terrorism released by the State Department in the USA back in April? It said attacks had declined last year to 190, down from 198 in 2002 and 346 in 2001. The 2003 figure would have been the lowest level in 34 years and a 45 percent drop since 2001, Bush's first year as president. That report concluded that terrorism was on the decline and was used to boost Dubya's chief foreign policy claims, success in countering terror.

As Secretary of State Colin Powell said earlier today, it was a "big mistake". Bad figures, bad information, bad conclusion. It turns out terrorism isn't on the decline at all. Quite the opposite in fact...

When April's report came out, I read about it in disbelief but who am I to contradict a report that the CIA helped compile the data for? My question is, was the Dubya camp cooking the books as part of the re-election campaign? Hmmmm...

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Published by Toronto Mike on June 11, 2004 @ 19:13 in Politics

FearI fear the Conservative Party will win the election on June 28th and Stephen Harper will be my new Prime Minister.

Harper's Conservative Party is starting to show its stripes. Comments are being made by Conservative Party candidates that suggest they are homophobic and anti-abortion. Anti-abortion is itself a misnomer because nobody is actually pro-abortion, but pro-choice. I believe it's essential that a woman in Canada retain the legal right to abortion. Furthermore, I believe homosexuality is a characteristic one is born with and not a lifestyle or choice. As such, we must protect the rights of homosexuals in much the same manner we must protect the rights of minorities or women.

Harper has vowed to reverse the decision made by Quebec, Ontario and B.C. courts of appeal to give gays and lesbians the right to get married. In the latest remark, Frank Luellau, the Conservative candidate for Kitchener-Conestoga, told The Globe and Mail that homosexuality "is not a natural kind of relationship" and that it is the "constitutional right to freedom of religion and freedom of association" for a religious group to fire or refuse to hire gays and lesbians. Leullau's comments follow those of Cheryl Gallant, the Ottawa-area MP who last week said the Conservative caucus wants to repeal legislation that places sexual orientation in Canada's anti-hate law. Later, she was quoted at an anti-abortion rally equating abortion to the beheading of American contractor Nicholas Berg.

On top of all of this, Harper promises Canada will pull out of the Kyoto Protocol. He claims it's irrelevant and unworkable. Everything I've read about Kyoto suggests it's not only relevant but necessary. Kyoto calls for a 6 percent cut in the emission of greenhouse gases from 1990 levels by 2012. The environment is the lowest of priorities for this party.

This is not a party I could ever support. One of my favourite things about Canada is the fact that we're an open minded progressive nation. I've always considered us to be proactive rather than reactive and our liberalism a trait admired by the free world. I wrote this almost one year ago and it says a lot about what I want my Canada to be. I fear the Conservative Party will win and I see that as one giant step backwards.

For all their faults, the Liberal Party is indeed the best option for Canada. Please put aside your issues with Dalton McGuinty or your anger at the sponsorship scandal and envision a Canada with Harper at the helm. Better yet, look down and check out Dubya. Their politics are eerily similar.

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Election Countdown
Published by Toronto Mike on June 9, 2004 @ 21:23 in Politics

Federal ElectionTonight I received telephone calls from both the Conservative Party of Canada and the Liberal Party. I must be on some list because Taryn isn't getting these calls, just me.

Earlier this month I wrote that I was seriously considering casting my vote for the NDP. My politics clash with those of Stephen Harper but I'm not as eager to support the Liberal Party as I usually am. A vote for the NDP would allow me to stay true to my political beliefs.

Taryn tells me if I vote for the NDP I'm essentially voting for the Conservative Party because I'd be depriving the Liberals of a vote. The NDP party will not win our riding so I'd be doing the Conservative Party a huge favour by going orange. I certainly see her point. I remember following the American federal election of 2000 many pointed out that Ralph Nader won Dubya the presidency. Had the Ralph Nader supporters voted for Gore, I wouldn't have Dubya to kick around right now. I don't want Jack Layton to be our Ralph Nader. I certainly don't want Stephen Harper to be our Dubya.

It looks like I'll be voting red...again.

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Federal Election
Published by Toronto Mike on June 2, 2004 @ 14:01 in Politics

Federal ElectionWe have a federal election on June 28th. The incumbent Liberal Party will be lucky to maintain a minority government. For the past decade the Liberal Party has seemed invincible, winning majority after majority. King Jean has given way to Paul Martin and poor Mr. Martin has witnessed the Liberal Party's popularity decline week after week since he took office.

There are a number of reasons for this. For one, the Liberals have been in power a very long time and sometimes people want change for change sake. Furthermore, the recent sponsorship scandal seriously dented their integrity and for the first time since the Mulroney days the right is united providing an option for more conservative minded voters. And finally, Dalton McGuinty recently broke another promise and raised taxes for Ontarians like myself leading to great resentment towards the Liberal Party provincially. This negativity has seeped into Federal politics causing Martin to be painted with the same red brush as McGuinty.

If you believe the polls, it's going to be close. Either the Conservative Party of Canada or the Liberal Party will win a minority government. I can't vote for the Conservative Party of Canada, but I don't want to vote for the Liberal Party either. I've been taking a long serious look at another option. I've been considering the possibility I might cast my vote for Jack Layton's NDP.

This is not a done deal and there's a lot of time to go so my mind may change a dozen times before June 28 but that's the way I'm leaning these days. I've never voted NDP federally before, but this time their platform and leadership is such that I'm comfortable enough to do just that. Closer to the election, I'll write further about the party that's lucky enough to receive my vital vote. It just may go to Jack.

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Terror Threat?
Published by Toronto Mike on May 31, 2004 @ 10:12 in My 2 Cents, Politics

Terror Threat?When Attorney General John Ashcroft warned of an attack planned on America planned for sometime in the coming months, we all took notice. In warning Americans to brace for a possible attack, Ashcroft cited what he called "credible intelligence from multiple sources," saying that "just after New Year's, al-Qaida announced openly that preparations for an attack on the United States were 70 percent complete. After the March 11 attack in Madrid, Spain, an al-Qaida spokesman announced that 90 percent of the arrangements for an attack in the United States were complete." Very scary stuff.

MSNBC is reporting there's no evidence a credible al-Qaida spokesman ever said that, and the claims actually were made by a largely discredited group, Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, known for putting propaganda on the Internet. In other words, Ashcroft took something said by a source that is notorious for lying and based his speech last week on it. For example, this source took responsibility for our massive blackout last August. We all know that wasn't an act of terrorism at all.

I have so many concerns about this, I don't know where to begin. Now that we all know this warning of an imminent attack on American soil is based on non-credible sources, who believes Ashcroft? More importantly, who will believe Ashcroft next time he warns us of something or who will take the FBI seriously when they do the same? A great deal of credibility and integrity has been lost here.

My immediate instincts following Ashcroft's speech last week was that Dubya's regime was distracting Americans who were becoming all to aware of the problems caused by the current administration. Nothing will distract Joe Smith from Jackson, Mississippi better than telling him al-Qaida is coming this summer to a location near him. It certainly got my attention. Of course the most brilliant aspect of such an announcement is the benefit Dubya would enjoy in November. I'm sure just before the election Dubya will remind Americans that his security forces and intelligence operatives prevented an imminent attack in the summer of 2004. As important as the economy, environment and foreign affairs are, nothing is more important to voters than their personal safety and the safety of their families. If you believe Dubya is the reason al-Qaida didn't attack this summer, would you rock the boat by voting for John Kerry? Of course not. You haven't been attacked since 9/11, why mess with a good thing?

In a related story, the Washington Post is reporting this morning on the volume of negative attacks on John Kerry by the Dubya reelection machine. "Scholars and political strategists say the ferocious Bush assault on Kerry this spring has been extraordinary, both for the volume of attacks and for the liberties the president and his campaign have taken with the facts."

On Tuesday, President Bush's campaign began airing an ad saying Kerry would scrap wiretaps that are needed to hunt terrorists.

The same day, the Bush campaign charged in a memo sent to reporters and through surrogates that Kerry wants to raise the gasoline tax by 50 cents.

On Wednesday and Thursday, as Kerry campaigned in Seattle, he was greeted by another Bush ad alleging that Kerry now opposes education changes that he supported in 2001.

The charges were all tough, serious -- and wrong, or at least highly misleading. Kerry did not question the war on terrorism, has proposed repealing tax cuts only for those earning more than $200,000, supports wiretaps, has not endorsed a 50-cent gasoline tax increase in 10 years, and continues to support the education changes, albeit with modifications.

I pray we never have to endure another act of terrorism, but Ashcroft's comments were inappropriate and an unnecessary incitement of panic. Post-9/11 we all have to be more aware but claiming preparations for an attack on the United States is already 70 percent complete is inaccurate. This lie, along with the lies Bush's reelection campaign makes about John Kerry on a daily basis, are just more lies from an admistration that does nothing but lie. They went to war based on a lie. Their credibility is zero. That too, is very scary stuff.

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How History Will View Dubya
Published by Toronto Mike on May 20, 2004 @ 12:49 in Politics

How History Will View DubyaI'm a History major. No seriously, I double majored in History and English at the University of Toronto. As we live through the age of Dubya, I often wonder how future history text books will look back at his legacy. How will history view the presidency of George W. Bush?

According to this excellent article, Historians vs. George W. Bush, historians will not look upon the Dubya regime fondly. According to a recent survey, eight in ten historians responding rate the current presidency an overall failure.

Several charges against the Bush administration arose repeatedly in the comments of historians who responded to the survey. Among them were: the doctrine of pre-emptive war, crony capitalism/being "completely in bed with certain corporate interests," bankruptcy/fiscal irresponsibility, military adventurism, trampling of civil liberties, and anti-environmental policies.

Robert S. McElvaine, who wrote this article, concludes with the following. It's long, but it's well worth repeating.

My own answer to the question was based on astonishment that so many people still support a president who has:

  • Presided over the loss of approximately three million American jobs in his first two-and-a-half years in office, the worst record since Herbert Hoover.
  • Overseen an economy in which the stock market suffered its worst decline in the first two years of any administration since Hoover’s.
  • Taken, in the wake of the terrorist attacks two years ago, the greatest worldwide outpouring of goodwill the United States has enjoyed at least since World War II and squandered it by insisting on pursuing a foolish go-it-almost-alone invasion of Iraq, thereby transforming almost universal support for the United States into worldwide condemnation. (One historian made this point particularly well: “After inadvertently gaining the sympathies of the world 's citizens when terrorists attacked New York and Washington, Bush has deliberately turned the country into the most hated in the world by a policy of breaking all major international agreements, declaring it our right to invade any country that we wish, proving that he’ll manipulate facts to justify anything he wishes to do, and bull-headedly charging into a quagmire.”)
  • Misled (to use the most charitable word and interpretation) the American public about weapons of mass destruction and supposed ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq and so into a war that has plainly (and entirely predictably) made us less secure, caused a boom in the recruitment of terrorists, is killing American military personnel needlessly, and is threatening to suck up all our available military forces and be a bottomless pit for the money of American taxpayers for years to come.
  • Failed to follow through in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and Al Qaeda are regrouping, once more increasing the threat to our people.
  • Insulted and ridiculed other nations and international organizations and now has to go, hat in hand, to those nations and organizations begging for their assistance.
  • Completely miscalculated or failed to plan for the personnel and monetary needs in Iraq after the war, so that he sought and obtained an $87 billion appropriation for Iraq, a sizable chunk of which is going, without competitive bidding to Haliburton, the company formerly headed by his vice president.
  • Inherited an annual federal budget surplus of $230 billion and transformed it into a $500+ billion deficit in less than three years. This negative turnaround of three-quarters of a trillion dollars is totally without precedent in our history. The ballooning deficit for fiscal 2004 is rapidly approaching twice the dollar size of the previous record deficit, $290 billion, set in 1992, the last year of the administration of President Bush’s father and, at almost 5 percent of GDP, is closing in on the percentage record set by Ronald Reagan in 1986.
  • Cut taxes three times, sharply reducing the burden on the rich, reclassified money obtained through stock ownership as more deserving than money earned through work. The idea that dividend income should not be taxed—what might accurately be termed the unearned income tax credit—can be stated succinctly: “If you had to work for your money, we’ll tax it; if you didn’t have to work for it, you can keep it all.”
  • Severely curtailed the very American freedoms that our military people are supposed to be fighting to defend. (“The Patriot Act,” one of the historians noted, “is the worst since the Alien and Sedition Acts under John Adams.”)
  • Called upon American armed service people, including Reserve forces, to sacrifice for ever-lengthening tours of duty in a hostile and dangerous environment while he rewards the rich at home with lower taxes and legislative giveaways and gives lucrative no-bid contracts to American corporations linked with the administration.
  • Given an opportunity to begin to change the consumption-oriented values of the nation after September 11, 2001, when people were prepared to make a sacrifice for the common good, called instead of Americans to ‘sacrifice’ by going out and buying things.
  • Proclaimed himself to be a conservative while maintaining that big government should be able to run roughshod over the Bill of Rights, and that the government must have all sorts of secrets from the people, but the people can be allowed no privacy from the government. (As one of the historians said, “this is not a conservative administration; it is a reckless and arrogant one, beholden to a mix of right-wing ideologues, neo-con fanatics, and social Darwinian elitists.”)

Who wants to bet Dubya gets re-elected in November? The man turns my stomach.

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Leading By Example
Published by Toronto Mike on May 11, 2004 @ 09:20 in Politics

Leading By ExampleRead this Statement by the President of the United States of America from last June. It was written for the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Here's an excerpt.

Torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere. We are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law.

The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment. I call on all nations to speak out against torture in all its forms and to make ending torture an essential part of their diplomacy.

Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, Example 4, Example 5, Example 6...

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Scary Stuff
Published by Toronto Mike on May 5, 2004 @ 13:01 in Movies, Politics

Scary StuffThis New York Times article claims The Walt Disney Company is blocking its Miramax division from distributing a new documentary by Michael Moore that harshly criticizes President Dubya. The film, "Fahrenheit 911," links Dubya and prominent Saudis - including the family of Osama bin Laden - and criticizes Dubya's actions before and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The scariest part of this article is this line: "Mr. Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, said Michael D. Eisner, Disney's chief executive, asked him last spring to pull out of the deal with Miramax. Mr. Emanuel said Mr. Eisner expressed particular concern that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor."

Is that what it's come to? At least Moore can score a load of free publicity from Mickey and the gang. You can read Moore's response on his website.

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