Batting for the PBO

Maybe you’ve seen the memo sent by Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, to leaders of the opposition parties calling on them to help him fulfill his purported mandate (conveniently leaked to Paul Wells at Macleans). It seems the poor man’s work is being deliberately frustrated by the bureaucracy and the government of the day that’s turning a blind or somnolent eye to his plight.

Will Ignatieff step up to the plate and go to bat for the embattled PBO? If he has the slightest interest in government accountability, one would certainly hope so — especially at a time when there’s talk of running massive deficits that just a few months ago were considered unconscionable.

Empowering this office and unshackling it from the parsimonious fetters of the Library of Parliament (a result of the machinations of “the Sir Humphrey brigade over at Finance” according to Kady O’Malley) is of course something of a double-edge sword that may some day come back to haunt the Liberals should they ever return to power, but if the overarching principles of transparency and accountability have any currency with the new leader of the opposition, he should champion the cause of a vigilant independent watchdog.

Mission (Temporarily) Accomplished

The LA Times reports: “In declaring a cease-fire Saturday in Gaza, Israel asserted that it had achieved its goals: hurting Hamas’ military wing, discouraging rocket fire into Israel and cutting the flow of smuggled arms into Gaza. But Israel had a broader goal: sending a tough message to its arch-enemies Iran and Hezbollah.”

Unfortunately, many people like the Sammouni family in Gaza City were on the receiving end of that “tough message” from Israel. The IDF demolished their house yesterday AFTER ordering them to remain in it for safety.

Twenty-seven members of the family died. An estimated 90 people remain trapped in the rubble. And so the wheel of retribution turns…



Somehow I think that’s going enter into the lexicon as a euphemism with a bit more punch than “intercoursed.” From yesterday’s NYT:

Individually, banks that received some of the first $350 billion from the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, have offered few public details about how they plan to spend the money, and they are not required to disclose what they do with it…

A review of investor presentations and conference calls by executives of some two dozen banks around the country found that few cited lending as a priority. An overwhelming majority saw the bailout program as a no-strings-attached windfall that could be used to pay down debt, acquire other businesses or invest for the future.

Not that this should be a surprise of course. The fable about the scorpion and the frog comes to mind in this regard…