Goodbye, Blue Sweater Vest

by matttbastard

Stephen Harper Party memoryholes all 2008 campaign vids from YouTube.  Because ideology and divisiveness are, like, so, um, last week.

h/t Accidental Deliberations

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Happy Market Meltdown Monday!

by matttbastard

So, what did we learn this weekend (besides the fact that Sarah Palin is the spiritual reincarnation of Richard Nixon and John Sidney McCain III has, according Howard Wolfson, jumped the shark)?

Well, the European banking crisis is spreading; US bank failures are expected to increase in ’09; US consumer confidence is next-to-non-existent, with a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp poll showing that 59% of Americans believe a depression is imminent and 84% consider the economy to be poor.

And now it’s Monday and the markets are open.

You know what that means:

We are fucked:

U.S. stocks plummeted in early trading today as economic turmoil rippled through Europe and investors questioned whether a bailout of the financial sector would be enough to prevent a global recession.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 500 points by mid-morning but then retreated to more than 400 points lower by 11:18 a.m. It was the first time since October 2004 that the Dow fell below 10,000. The Nasdaq and Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index both fell by 6 percent but by 11:18 a.m. had come back slightly, down 5 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively.

The day started with a negative momentum that has turned into a global panic, said Art Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co. “It is just a realization that the global economy is going to be stagnant for the next 12 to 16 months” even with the rescue plan, Hogan said.

Investors remain concerned that the $700 billion financial bailout plan enacted by the federal government last week is not enough to address the country’s fundamental economic problems, including rising unemployment and falling home prices. Banks remain reluctant to lend to each other, keeping the credit markets frozen, and overseas banks are increasingly facing problems of their own.

European officials are scrambling to bolster financial firms, and Asian investors have grown worried that a global recession will undercut their export-dependent economies. Europe has been forced to prop up other banks in recent weeks. Markets in Asia and Europe were down from between 4 and 6 percent.

“People realize that the [bailout] is not going to prevent a more serious economic downturn in the U.S., including a couple of quarters of negative economic growth,” said Marc Chandler, head of currency trading at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. “The banking crisis spreading to Europe is another negative. It means the crisis is getting bigger.”

The price of oil fell as low as $88.89 a barrel in morning trading today, off its peak of $147 a barrel in July. The price of gold jumped as investors sought a safe haven from the market turmoil.

Glad I have today off, as I feel the need for a drink, to be quickly followed by another.

Oh, and memo to Uncle Steve: Canada is most definitely included in that aforementioned ‘we’. This is not simply a financial crisis for the US–it’s a global (yes, global) crisis.

A global crisis that, as Marc Chandler noted, is growing bigger.

We are fucked.

h/t James Curran for the vid

Related: Must read op-ed by David Rothkopf, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the author of Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making, who argues that the financial crisis is a paradigm-shifting event “bigger than 9/11”:

We now know that the costs to the U.S. government associated with this crash will surpass those associated with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We also know that all such government cost estimates tend to be on the low side. We further know that the U.S. economy recovered quickly after 9/11 and that we are in the midst now of a global downturn that may last for many months and perhaps years. We know that there have been vastly more job losses — 600,000 recorded thus far this year in the United States — than were associated with the 9/11 shocks, and that the global job-loss totals that a recession is likely to bring will be measured in the millions. Among the poorest, the likely shocks to emerging markets caused by the United States’ inability to spend freely will take a devastating human toll.

By all the metrics available to us, then, the current financial crisis easily exceeds the post-9/11 war on terror in economic terms. Human costs are harder to measure, of course, and the tolls of both events have been devastating. But the financial crisis will certainly touch many more people in many more countries than did 9/11. And even greater crises may loom ahead, thanks to our unwitting creation of a financial Frankenstein’s monster of unregulated, risk-laden, global derivatives markets.

As the dithering U.S. governing class is grappling with the disposal of “toxic assets” in the U.S. economy, the world is moving on to debate what is widely seen as a toxic ideology: a form of market fundamentalism that promotes inequality.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

The – 777.68 Point Plunge

by matttbastard

Bailout compromise bill fails.  Dow subsequently plummets by a record figure (nine-eleven-shmine-eleven).  TSX also plummets by a record figure, throwing a wild card onto the Canadian election table.  All this capped off a day in which global markets took a major league ass-whipping (most of which, it should be noted, occurred before the bailout flame-out).

To quote Paul Krugman (who, in turn, quotes himself)

So what we now have is non-functional government in the face of a major crisis, because Congress includes a quorum of crazies and nobody trusts the White House an inch.
As a friend said last night, we’ve become a banana republic with nukes.

Heck of a motherfucking job, kiddies.

Not that I’m fully convinced, contra certain quarters I normally find myself agreeing with more often than not, that it was imperative to pass this bill right fucking now (an ambivalence further cultivated by the knowledge that the much-ballyhooed $700 billion figure was arbitrarily yanked out of some Treasury Department flunky’s ass because they “just wanted to choose a really large number” to put the fear of smoking guns and mushroom clouds into everyone’s heads).  Nor is it at all apparent that Paulson’s preferred solution to the credit crisis was the only viable one (see this list of alternative proposals not currently on the table, h/t Sarah J via tweet).

But if this:

really is the primary reason House Republicans chidlishly chose to flip the bird to Democratic and Republican House Leaders (not to mention Secretary Paulson, President Bush, and John “Coalition Builder” McCain), then each and every one of the GOP dissenters up for reelection in November deserves to be unceremoniously turfed from office for being a bunch of petty, shallow, self-absorbed drama-queens apparently more concerned with partisan preening than the economic health of the nation (if not the world).

Speaking of petty, shallow, self-absorbed drama queens and partisan preening:

From the minute John McCain suspended his campaign and arrived in Washington to address this crisis, he was attacked by the Democratic leadership: Senators Obama and Reid, Speaker Pelosi and others. Their partisan attacks were an effort to gain political advantage during a national economic crisis. By doing so, they put at risk the homes, livelihoods and savings of millions of American families.

Barack Obama failed to lead, phoned it in, attacked John McCain, and refused to even say if he supported the final bill.

Just before the vote, when the outcome was still in doubt, Speaker Pelosi gave a strongly worded partisan speech and poisoned the outcome.

This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country.

No, Senator McCain, this bill failed because you, someone who has applied to become leader of the fucking free world, couldn’t whip your own goddamn party (the GOP, aka the party of fiscal responsibility, ideas and utter fucking bullshit) into line, you puerile sack of monkey shit.  You demonstratively “suspended” your campaign, snatched the ball out of Pelosi, Paulson and Bush’s hands, started to do an endzone celebration on the 20 yard line and quite spectacularly fumbled it before crossing the goal.

As Marc Ambinder observed:

Two thirds of…Republicans voted for its defeat…after a weekend of telephone call diplomacy from McCain.

Nancy Pelosi may have given a partisan speech, but she was able to get most of her Democrats on board….

Mother fuck ’em and John Wayne.

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I Heart Conservative Ethics (Almost as Much as Conservatives Heart Uppity Women)

by matttbastard

A now-infamously short-lived Conservative candidate may be facing a REAL shit-creek legal situation (sans paddle, of course).

dBO @ Birth Pangs:

Rosamund Luke, purportedly a member of R.E.A.L. women and until a week ago Conservative candidate for the Halifax riding, may be facing a criminal investigation regarding the disappearance of funds allocated to her [organization] by Status of Women Canada, under the New™ guidelines established by the Harper government.

Ms Luke was the executive director of an organization called All Women’s Empowerment and Development Association, the beneficiary of $142,700 federal grant last March from Status of Women Canada. The funding was meant to fund a 12-month pilot project to integrate low-income immigrant women into Nova Scotia’s small business community. About $130,000. is missing, according to the two remaining board members who fired Ms Luke. The association, whose goal was to bring economic independence to immigrant women, provided financial help to only seven women. Seven women.

That total does not include Ms Luke, who may have been quite well served by her turn as director of the organization. Transparency and accountability, it’s the Conservative way of doing business.

Heh.  Indeed.

(PS–read the whole damn thing)

Related: NDP MP Peter Stoffer’s letter to Auditor General Shelia Fraser formally requesting an investigation into the circumstances of how the grant was awarded:

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Sheila Fraser, FCA
Auditor General of Canada

Office of the Auditor General of Canada
240 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G6

Dear Ms Fraser:

I am writing to you to formally request an investigation by your office into a $142,700 grant by Status of Women Canada to a group calling itself the All Women’s Empowerment and Development Association (AWEDA).

I’m confident you are aware of recent media coverage concerning the Halifax-based organization as well as the controversy concerning its executive director Rosamond Luke and her political activities on behalf of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Most recently, today’s Halifax Chronicle Herald reports deeply worrying details about the decision by AWEDA’s board of directors to remove Ms. Luke from her position “citing accounting irregularities”.

The department’s Grant and Contribution disclosure record states that the $142,700 grant was awarded on March 2008. It also says that the project it is purposed to be in support of as follows: “This 12 month pilot project is designed to enable and integrate low-income immigrant women in Nova Scotia society through entrepreneurship, self-employment and micro enterprise projects.”

The very same Chronicle Herald article states that the doors of the program, opened near the Armdale Rotary, have now been closed – only six months into the 12 month pilot project.

I am personally supportive of the mission of the grant, and am now grievously worried that public funds approved by parliament for one purpose may have been used for a very different one. This is why I am hoping your office will take appropriate measures to ensure that this was not the case.

I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Sincerely,

Peter Stoffer, MP
Sackville—Eastern Shore

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

The Grits Go There

by matttbastard

Liberals call out Conservatives on Bernier-Couillard scandal, Uncle Steve goes on the defensive:

The Liberal Party called on members of the Harper government today to divulge any information in their possession on the Bernier-Couillard affair to the RCMP.

While the RCMP refused to comment on its investigation, Liberal candidate Bob Rae said that people with information on the matter should not wait for the Mounties to come to their doors.

“The RCMP is investigating this with the seriousness it deserves. In contrast, the Harper government has shown an appalling lack of judgment on this whole affair. It has no choice but to fully co-operate with the RCMP now,” Mr. Rae said in an early morning statement.

The Liberal Party was picking up on a report in The Globe and Mail that the RCMP are pursuing the politically charged investigation in the midst of the federal election campaign.

[…]

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said he knows nothing about the investigation, but he nonetheless added that members of his government are not the target of the probe. Trying to contain any political fallout, a bristling Mr. Harper returned at the end of a news conference to a question from a Globe reporter who asked whether it would be appropriate for the RCMP to interview Mr. Bernier during the election campaign.

[…]

“I want to make it absolutely clear, because I do not want this story distorted: There is no suggestion that the RCMP is investigating Minister Bernier. Period. Quite frankly, any question that tries to suggest otherwise is misleading and inaccurate,” Mr. Harper said.

[…]

“Let’s be very clear: Mr. Bernier and nobody in this government is under investigation by the RCMP. The RCMP, we understand from stories, may be investigating some private individuals, but frankly I do not know if that’s true and I do not know the details,” he said.

As they say, developing.

Related: RCMP actively probes Couillard affair, patronage allegations surface: The Globe and Mail.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

A Sober Assessment of Canada’s Disregard for Social Injustice

by matttbastard

Even though Stephen Harper has pledged to pull out Canadian combat troops from Afghanistan in 2011, the ongoing economic consequences of Canada’s Afghan policy are still being felt domestically by Canada’s First Nations communities, says Assembly of First Nations national Chief Phil Fontaine.

The Globe:

Mr. Fontaine, wading into the federal election campaign, called on all political parties to build on the June 11 residential schools apology and work toward a reconciliation with native people. That reconciliation will require what he called a “Kelowna-plus” solution, referring to the accord reached three years ago by the previous Liberal government that promised $5-billion to raise the standard of living of aboriginal people to that of other Canadians by 2015. After they were elected, the Conservatives dismissed Kelowna as a flawed press release.

“There’s been $22-billion expended on the Afghan war, and so what is there for first nations people?” Mr. Fontaine asked. “The response we’re looking for from each of the parties is next steps in regards to the eradication of first nations poverty.”

[…]

Mr. Fontaine said the absence of any discussion of native issues in the campaign for the Oct. 14 election is a disservice to all Canadians, and urged the political parties to address those issues in their platforms.

“First nations poverty is the single most important social justice issue in the country and we would expect that each of the parties would do the responsible thing, and that is to engage Canadians,” he said.

There are 27,000 native children in state care, 40 communities without schools, 100 communities under boil-water advisories and serious concerns about housing and health care for people living on reserves, Mr. Fontaine said.

$22 Billion. That kind of cash would sure go a long way to help alleviate crippling levels of poverty among Canada’s First Nations peoples.  Of course, all (hollow) apologies aside, one could argue that the Conservative government’s true sentiments with regards to our Aboriginal citizens may have been laid bare earlier this week by an aide to Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, who, according to the Globe, was caught on tape telling a group of native protesters in Cannon’s riding that a meeting with Cannon could be arranged “if you behave and you’re sober.” No word on whether the aide was wearing a sweater vest at the time, which, in my estimation, would have at least put a kinder, gentler veneer on this latest expression of an all-too-familiar (and disturbingly casual) racism that lurks below the surface of so-called ‘civil society’ in Canada.

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