More Real Time…

Real Time “real reporter” Dan Savage goes in search of some signs of Bush-Cheney’s existence at the RNC (seems they’ve been “disappeared” in true Stalinist fashion), followed by “New Rules” for the week.

TDS: McCain = Bush

According to McCain, “We need to change the way government does almost everything: from the way we protect our security to the way we compete in the world economy; from the way we respond to disasters to the way we fuel our transportation network; from the way we train our workers to the way we educate our children.” Arianna Huffington quips: “Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” Heh.

Is it possible that the American people could really be so gullible as to actually buy this hooey about McCain and Palin being “agents of change”? Sadly, the answer seems to be — yes, they can!

“Racist, Sexist, Vindictive, and Mean”

“So Sambo beat the bitch!” — Palin on Obama’s victory over Clinton

What’s a day without more dirt on Sarah Palin? Good grief, it just never seems to end with this woman. If half of what’s written here is true, we might be seeing the backside of McCain’s “barracuda” fairly soon.

According to Kilkenny and others in Wasilla as well as Juneau, Palin reduced progressive property taxes for businesses while mayor and increased a regressive sales tax which even hits necessities such as food. The tax cuts she promoted in her St. Paul speech actually benefited large corporate property owners far more than they benefited residents. Indeed, Kilkenny insists that many Wasilla home owners actually saw their tax bill skyrocket to make up for the shortfall. Two other Wasillian’s with whom I spoke said property taxes on their modest, three bedroom homes rose during the Palin regime.

To an outsider, it would seem hard to do, but an oil-rich town with zero debt on the day she was inaugurated mayor was left saddled with $22 million of debt by the time she moved away to become governor – especially since nothing was spent on things such as improving the city’s infrastructure or building a much-needed sewage treatment plant. So what did Mayor Palin spend the taxpayer’s money on, if not fixing streets and scrubbing sewage?

For starters, she remodelled her office. Several times over, as a matter of fact.

Then Palin spent $1 million on an unnecessary, new park that no one other than the contractors and Palin seemed to want. Next, Sarah doled out more than $15 million of taxpayer money for a sports complex that she shoved through even though the city did not own clear title to the land; now, seven years later, the matter is still in litigation and lawyer fees are said to be close to at least half of the original estimated price of the facility.

She also worked hard to get voters approval of a $5.5 million bond proposal for roads that could have been built without borrowing. Anchorage may not be the center of the financial universe but, like good Republicans everywhere, Sarah Palin knows how to please Alaskan bankers and bond dealers.

You’ll have to go check out the article for the really explosive stuff.

BQ: Avoiding a Conservative Majority

Following a meeting yesterday of the Bloc Québécois caucus in Montreal, Gilles Duceppe addressed reporters, offering his impressions of the electoral campaign ahead, including the concern of many Quebecers about the possibility of a Conservative majority government.

“That’s what he wants, a majority government, and let’s not fool ourselves, a majority is within his reach,” he said. “His objective is to enact his hidden agenda in its entirety, in a majority government.” Unsurprisingly, Duceppe argues that Quebeckers must elect Bloc MPs to prevent Harper from having free rein.

On a related note, here’s the first part of a “debate” on TVO’s The Agenda hosted by Steve Paikin from last year that offers some insight into the race in Quebec. As I said last night, there was really nothing new about what Mike Duffy was pedaling on his show the other day. Anyway, you’ll learn a great deal more by watching this than listening to that blithering clown.

More here (three other parts).

NDP Ad: “A New Kind of Strong”

This seems to be the first one out the gate for the NDP. It takes a page out the Republicans’ playbook, directly attacking what’s purported to be Harper’s greatest strength. Tackling his “strong leadership” head on, the ad draws a sarcastic contrast between it and several alleged disparities.

“Steven Harper is a strong leader,” the female narrator says in a steely voice. “With the strength to brag about billions in corporate tax cuts, while one eight children lives in poverty.” And so it goes characterizing Harper as a callous SOB. “Strong enough to ignore nearly 5 million Canadians who can’t find a family doctor,” the voiceover says, each point reinforced with an ominous drum beat. “And destroying the environment while you pay record high gas prices… strong leadership,” the voice sneers.

The end of the ad shifts to the new kind of leadership being offered by the NDP, as Layton appears, in a sky blue shirt with and open collar and, of course, rolled up sleeves. “The new strong is about fighting for what’s right, for you,” he says, adding special emphasis to the word “new” when announcing the name of the party at the very end.

I have to say that for an attack ad, I quite liked it; nicely produced, well paced, clear and concise. Some might find the sarcastic tone of the voiceover a little harsh and the claims being made are highly suspect to say the least. Is Stephen Harper really “destroying the environment” (manifested here with a picture of an off-highway hauler in the tar sands)? Don’t most people realize that healthcare is primarily a provincial issue, not a federal one? Is there a direct correlation between corporate tax cuts and child poverty? The message will play well to the NDP base, of course, but I wonder how effective it will be at swaying independent voters. Anyway, as an initial salvo at Harper, it’s very sharp and provides a rather shocking contrast to the gauzy Conservative fluff pieces that have been filling the air of late.

Harper’s Hoary Henchman

Here’s a little blast from the not-so-distance past. Specifically, November of last year when Conservative candidates Mark Warner and Brent Barr — earnest and decent fellows by all accounts — were both summarily dumped by the party at the behest of “Mr. Nice Guy” Stephen Harper’s shadowy backroom political fixer, Doug Finley. At the time of their dismissal, vague reasons were given to the effect that the party had “concerns” about both men and that they weren’t “team players” — thereby effectively casting a shadow of doubt over their characters; a rather despicable, sleazy thing to do.

Today though, we get a little more insight on the matter from an article in the Toronto Star profiling Harper’s ruthless “pit bull” in all his villainous glory. Here’s a salient part of the exchange between Finley and Mark Warner, the candidate who was abruptly dismissed from Toronto Centre.

Warner says Finley’s office summoned him to Ottawa, where he met with Finley on the 12th floor of Tory headquarters at 130 Albert St. Finley apparently yelled at Warner several times during the five-hour session, including over his edict Warner couldn’t fill out a questionnaire about equality from a gay-lesbian alliance. “He said if I answered it, I would be denounced by the Prime Minister and everybody else in caucus.”

As for Barr, he was dumped for no apparently good reason in favour of the Conservatives’ current candidate in the (now presumably cancelled) Guelph by-election, former city councilor Gloria “MIA” Kovach, even though she had previously lost the nomination.

”At no time did [Finley] ever answer any of my emails,” says former Tory science minister Bill Winegard, who supported Barr. “It was pretty silly. They said [Barr] wasn’t working hard enough but he had a business to run and he would have as we moved closer to the election.”

Winegard still asks: “Who are these people in Guelph who got rid of Brent? Did these folks have a board meeting? Did they talk to anybody? … They complained to Ottawa and he was thrown out.”

Who indeed? In fact, as Barr said in the video, the assertion that he “wasn’t working hard enough” was a complete falsehood (as evidenced by his worn-out foot leather from canvassing). Whatever the reason, as in the case of Mark Warner, it was another flagrantly broken campaign promise by Stephen Harper who vowed in 2005 that he wanted to “clean up internal party politics, beginning with grassroots democratic control of the nomination process.” Unless, of course, his henchman sours on them for whatever reason or they decide to do something foolish like deviate one iota from the party line.