DNC: Roll Call

I know it was a great gesture of unity and all, but I was so disappointed when they stopped the Roll Call at the great state of New York, the Empire State!

It would have been especially entertaining if they’d departed from the usual script and used instead the state nicknames and mottoes set out by John Hodgman in his book The Areas of My Expertise. Using Hodgman’s almanac as a reference, New York’s nickname, for example, would have been: “The Affiliated Businesses of 9/11-Related Tourism State” and its motto: “9/11 Changed Everything, Even Our Motto, Which Had Been EXCELSIOR!”

Update: Poor Jonathan Strong simply couldn’t figure out why the California delegation passed during the roll call. “I don’t know of any precedent for such a move by a state delegation, but something seems fishy,” he said, donning his little foil hat. Evidently, it never occurred to him that the move was simply orchestrated so that Obama wouldn’t reach the magic number too soon, preventing another state — like say, New York — from having its say.

No sir, not in the crackpot world of the “Strong Conservative” where it’s assumed that “…the good people of California might have a problem being disenfranchised from their party’s nomination process for the Democratic presidential candidate.” Urgh. Idiots.

DNC: Bill Clinton’s Speech

Say what you will about Clinton and his politics, the guy can be relied on to deliver a heckuva speech.

It was, as David Brooks said, like a powerful legal argument that wove together all the threads of the case against McCain and for Obama.

More on this later, I’m sure.

Updated: Video replaced with complete speech via C-SPAN. Also, MSNBC post-speech coverage.

The Stupiding Continues

The latest outrage du jour in Wingnuttia.

Obama Speech Stage Resembles Greek Temple!

Amazing. Although, it makes you wonder. As Joe Scarborough asked his guests this morning on his show, is this really a good a idea for a guy who’s been pejoratively accused of being a “celebrity” and having a rock-star problem? Not to mention the fact that he’ll be having actual rock stars perform with him…

Update: Pictures of the stage and props from the Daily Mail of all places.

Polar Bare Politics

Oooo, I’m sure the Russians, Americans and others with claims on submerged Arctic real estate and those who feel the Northwest Passage is an international waterway must be just quaking in their boots at the latest announcement by Stephen Harper that Canada will be doubling the area it regulates shipping and policing waters for pollution violations. Considering that, by all accounts, the Coast Guard’s aging fleet of icebreakers is already regarded as woefully inadequate to the task of policing the existing 100 mile limit, it’s hard to see how they’re going to effectively enforce Canadian sovereignty over an additional half a million square kilometers of Arctic ocean under Harper’s silly new plan.

In any case, as pointed out by Stephen Chase in the Globe & Mail this morning, “It’s hardly a maverick move in international law because Canada’s so-called exclusive economic zone under a United Nations Convention already gives it authority to exploit and manage resources within 200 nautical miles of its coastline.”

In terms of providing the actual capability to back up his tough talk, the $4.3 billion purchase of “up to eight” naval patrol vessels that Harper announced here in Victoria a year ago haven’t even been contracted out yet and wouldn’t even be available for duty until 2013 or quite possibly later given our broken procurement system. And even if/when the new vessels materialize they may be of little use for the purpose of enforcing sovereignty, compared with the ice-breakers that Harper had originally promised but then decided not to buy.

According to Michael Byers, the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, Arctic sovereignty inflames Canadian passions. “I think the prime motivation here is electoral,” Byers said last year when purchase of the new “slushbreakers” was announced. “Canadians resonate to the Arctic sovereignty issue. Most Canadians have never been to the Arctic, but in the national imagination, sovereignty over the Northwest Passage does strike a chord.”

Indeed, this latest posturing would seem to be more of the same. Apparently, this is one of the key priorities that Harper wants to move forward as part of the new “mandate” that he feels can’t be accomplished in the current environment of parliamentary gridlock. Uh-huh.

Dysfunction on Listeria Lane

It seems a little premature, not to mention opportunistic, to jump to conclusions as Stéphane Dion did the other day about the causes of the tragic outbreak of bacteria-borne listeriosis at Maple Leaf Foods plant. At a campaign stop in Toronto last week, Dion directly linked the problems to the Harper government’s plans for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to give the food industry a greater role in the inspection process and also alluded to the Walkerton tragedy and the recent explosion at a local propane plant as examples of negative outcomes stemming from the increased privatization of inspection tasks. Well perhaps it is, but shouldn’t all the facts of the matter be ascertained first, before making those kinds of sweeping allegations?

Similarly, it seems more than a little astonishing that federal Health Minister Tony Clement would declare Ottawa’s response a brilliant success. “This is an example of where our surveillance system worked,” he boasted, seemingly oblivious to the deaths of six people resulting from the tainted meat outbreak and nine other deaths under investigation. Still looking for silver linings, when speaking to reporters yesterday from Denver where he’s attending the Democratic convention and apparently promoting the Alberta tar sands, Clement went even further, saying that people should be thankful that such incidents aren’t more frequent and are generally avoided because of food processing industry’s rigorous procedures. Yay!

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stephen Harper claimed that Canadians have the “right” to uncontaminated food — a statement that raised the ire of Peter Foster at the Financial Post who snorted “…even the socialistic UN Declaration of Human Rights never promised a bacteria-free world. Expectation, yes. Right, no.” Contradicting the “failure as success” spin of his health minister, Harper said that the tainted meat recall highlights the need for Ottawa to overhaul its meat-inspection regime. “It’s necessary to reform and revamp our food-and product-inspection regime after some years of neglect,” he said, trying (as usual) to shift blame onto previous Liberal governments.

All around, it’s been a pretty unimpressive display of finger-pointing, blame-shifting and, in some cases, laughably delusional thinking by our “dysfunctional” parliamentarians.

Over the Hillary

Hillary Clinton’s much anticipated speech at the DNC last night was probably the best that could have been expected considering that her enthusiasm for Barack Obama clearly isn’t “genuine” by any measure. As Jonathan Chait perceptively noted at TNR, she praised Joe Biden (and even John McCain) personally, but didn’t say anything positive about Obama as a person. Of course, had she done so, it would probably have been dismissed by critics as being patently insincere in any case.

Reason Magazine’s “Hit and Run” has a quick roundup of the reaction from some of the mainstream press, all of which was generally positive, although not nearly as much so as the team at MSNBC who could barely contain their almost embarrassing degree of enthusiasm:

Over at Fox News, it was quite a different story of course, with Bill Kristol immediately pronouncing it a “Shockingly Minimal Endorsement” — which, in some respects, it certainly was.

All poo-pooing about her lack of genuine “enthusiasm” aside however, Clinton emphatically refused to wallow in resentment or indulge in a cathartic exercise in public therapy and instead called for unity, demanding that her supporters consider their ideals and not just their loyalty to her:

”I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?”

Unfortunately, there will still be those Clinton backers who still can’t “get over it” no matter what, even though supporting McCain seems like a spiteful and perversely counterproductive form of protest.

208 Helens Agree…

Well, notwithstanding keen promotion by kooky right-wing blogs and even a prominent advert on the National Newswatch news aggregator, the petition associated with the disingenuous “grassroots” movement to “STOP the Carbon Tax!” (sorry, I won’t link to it) launched by Guelph Conservative party activist Barry Osmond, has so far only managed to attract slightly more than 200 signatures. Excuse me for being thoroughly underwhelmed.

It’s noted that the petition to “Save Polaroid Film!!!” currently has 23,750 signatures and, at 396 names, even the one titled “Do not eat Filipinos!” is almost double Mr. Osmond’s pathetic outing.