Maybe the Liberals did the same thing when they were in power, I really can’t recall offhand, but it can’t be denied that the Harper Conservatives have certainly mastered the art of getting political mileage from the re-announcement of programs over and over and over again… without, of course, ever actually doing anything.

Such is the case with the naval vessels they’ve been talking about for the last couple of years (and which are still completely non-existent) — the $3 billion “Joint Support Ship” (JSS) Project to replace the Canadian Navy’s aging Protecteur supply ships that was scuttled earlier in the year and the $340 million proposal to build 12 inshore patrol boats (aka “slushbreakers”) for the Coast Guard. Apparently, it seems these malingering projects whose cost has already been budgeted for will now be repackaged (or is that “re-purposed”?) as part of the Conservatives’ “stimulus” plan. How convenient.

I think this must be at least the third, if not the fourth time, that announcements have been made concerning these projects. It could even be more than that.

Expect the $18 billion in “infrastructure” money that was promised in the 2007 budget, but which hasn’t actually been spent due to lengthy negotiations with each of the provinces and territories over the past year, to also be included as part of the upcoming “stimulus” plan. Flaherty announced that release of these funds would be expedited in October and again in November and will now get to re-announce them at the very end of January, over four months after he said that the negotiations had been concluded.

So, right there between the “shipbuilding” programs, the proposed auto “bail out” for the Big Three, we’ve got a $25 billion “stimulus” package, only $3.3 billion of which is money that wasn’t already accounted for. Neat trick, huh?

Simon Schama…

Regards Things and Emotes at Them

That title made me chuckle. The video is pretty darned funny too if you’re familiar with Professor Schama’s work (Amongst other things, he wrote the wonderful book Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution which I cannot recommend highly enough — it’s a thoroughly engrossing read, especially if you’re interested in the taxation and trade policies of the Ancien Régime. Seriously). But I digress. The fellow who edited this compilation of film clips intended it as lighthearted send-up of his recent BBC film The American Future describing the “formulaic” art direction as: “Simon goes somewhere and looks contemplative.”

The musical track, if you’re interested is: Lied Der Grossmutter – Robert Volkmann; Je Te Veux – Erik Satie; and Opus 20 – Dustin O’Halloran.

Update: Speaking of Schama, here he is at Google (Mountain View, CA) in 2007 giving a highly animated talk about his most recent book Rough Crossings (which I haven’t read, but it’s on my list now).

From the review by Publisher’s Weekly:

Has there ever been a patch of history more celebrated than the American Revolution? The torrent is endless: volume after volume about the glory of 1776, the miracle of 1787 and enough biographies of the Founding Fathers to stretch from the Liberty Bell to Bunker Hill and back again. The Library of Congress catalogue lists 271 books or other items to do with George Washington’s death and burial alone. Enough!

By contrast with the usual hagiography, distinguished historian Schama has found a little-known story from this era that makes the Founding Fathers look not so glorious. The Revolution saw the first mass emancipation of slaves in the Americas—an emancipation, however, not done by the revolutionaries but by their enemies. Many American rebel leaders were slave owners. To hit them where it most hurt, Britain proclaimed freedom for all slaves of rebel masters who could make their way to British-controlled territory. Slaves deserted their horrified owners by the tens of thousands.

One, who used his master’s last name, was Henry Washington; another renamed himself British Freedom. The most subversive news in this book is that the British move so shocked many undecided Southern whites that it actually pushed them into the rebel camp: “Theirs was a revolution, first and foremost, mobilized to protect slavery.” Even though they lost the war, most British officers honored their promise to the escaped slaves. The British commander in New York at the war’s end, where some 3,000 runaway slaves had taken refuge, adamantly refused an irate Washington’s demand to give them back. Instead, he put them on ships for Nova Scotia. And there, nearly a decade later, another saga began.

More than a thousand ex-slaves accepted a British offer of land in Sierra Leone, a utopian colony newly founded by abolitionists, which for a few years in the 1790s was the first place on earth where women could vote. Sadly, however, financial problems and the British government’s dismay at so much democracy soon brought an end to the self-rule the former slaves had been promised.

Ah, the things they never teach you in school…

Chicago Politics

Reason.TV’s Michael C. Moynihan talks about the long history of corruption in Chicago politics and the current troubles of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich with Terry Michael, former press spokesman for the Illinois House Democrats and former press secretary for Sen. Paul Simon, and Mike Flynn, Director of Government Affairs at the Reason Foundation.

The Encyclopedia of Chicago provides a fascinating backgrounder on this topic.

A “Farewell Kiss” From Iraq

“Iraq and he U.S. are now on solid footing.” — President Bush, shortly before dodging shoes thrown at him by Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi from Al-Baghdadia television network, during press conference in Baghdad.

According to news reports, the man shouted, “This is a farewell kiss, you dog!”


Hey, boys and girls… here’s what it looks like. Jason Kenney sending birthday greetings to the present Imām of the Nizari Ismaili Shi’a Muslims.

Khushiali Mubarak, everyone! Oy.

Update: Jason Kenney = Mayor Tommy Shanks? Just sayin’…


Let it Snow, &tc.

No big deal for most folks in Canada, but here, it’s news!

Snow in Victoria

Out where I am, we got about two inches last night and it’s still coming down…

By the way, riding a bike in the snow — not a good idea. I wiped out going up a steep hill last night. Now, you’d think going down would be the trickier proposition, but no… Attempting to get traction going up, is far more challenging, it turns out. A fact discovered much to my chagrin last night, when I hit the pavement after my ride lost traction sending the bike one way and me the other… Very sore ribs this morning.