Senatorial Smack-Down

CNN pits two Senators from Canada and the U.S. against one another over the healthcare issue to determine who has the better system…

Okay, just what the hell is Sen. John Barrasso smoking? Four months to see a primary care physician! That is complete, unmitigated bullshit. If I called my doctor’s office tomorrow, I’d have an appointment within a matter of days. Has anyone that you know of ever waited 4 months to see their family doctor? Likewise his assertion that people over a certain age in Canada are mandatorily denied hip replacements — this is a flat out LIE.

Footnote: The stats Sen. Mitchell references can be found here.

Whether Reform Works…

After months of ineffectual fidgeting and fucking around (to borrow an expression from Matt Taibbi), Senator Max “one of the biggest insurance-company whores in U.S. history” Baucus, today finally rolled out what former health insurance executive (since turned contentious human being) Wendell Potter quite aptly described in testimony before Congress yesterday as the Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act :

Whether the insipid swill of legislative tinkering that’s fermented over the summer in the so-called “cooling saucer of democracy” will pass for actual healthcare reform remains to be seen, but it’s more than probable that the artfully contrived, lobbyist-funded machinations of Baucus and his weirdly contrived “Group of Six” comrades will now be ruthlessly eviscerated and amended to death by the House of Representatives. Or so one hopes.

Payne’s Grey

Payne Grey

I’ve been thinking about this peculiar fellow today for some reason; perhaps because of the weather. The eponymous colour was always a favourite of mine back in the day when I was painting but I’d never bothered to find out more about the artist who “invented” the particular shade of grey that now bears his name. (Also, I didn’t have Google back then…)

Turns out that while William Payne was a highly prolific watercolourist, very little is actually known about his personal life. He first started exhibiting at the Society of Artists of Great Britain in 1776 from an address in Park Street, Grosvener Square, but for the next 15 years sent most of his pictures to the Royal Academy from an obscure dockyard in Plymouth. Later he returned to London, where he became the most fashionable drawing master of the day, last exhibiting in 1830, the year of his death.

42 Minutes…

Michael Ignatiff wants to know: What can Stephen Harper possibly do in three quarters of an hour that he hasn’t managed to accomplish over the last four years of his administration?

It’s a reasonable enough question, but also one that’s entirely unfair in most respects — a rather good line of attack, to be sure, but also one that cleverly avoids the somewhat inconvenient fact that the Liberals have no plausible or substantial legislative alternatives on the table at present when it comes to environmental policy in general or resolving various impediments to Canada-U.S. trade relations more specifically.

The Conservative Coalition

Jack and Gilles went up the Hill to carry Harper’s water…

Deux Partis-Un Regard

So, the CBC is reporting that the Bloc Québécois has indicated it will support the government’s budget motion on Friday, thereby averting a federal election call and effectively propping up the Conservatives at least until next month. Signals from the NDP suggest they’re likewise expected to vote with the government’s pending financial ways-and-means motion.

In the game of political brinksmanship currently being played out, kudos to Michael Ignatieff for insightfully reading the landscape and correctly wagering that the dreaded “separatists” and “socialists” would predictably buckle at this time, thereby allowing the Liberals to now freely oppose the government without incurring the consequence of an unpopular election.

Well played indeed!

Update: Heh.

Fringey McFringersons

Rachel Maddow provides a brief history of “right-wing paranoid extremism” in America from Depression era demagogues like Father Coughlin to present day rabble-rousers such as FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey and World Nut Daily’s Joe Serra, suggesting that there’s a case to be made that reactionary political movements not only predictably “rise to meet the challenge of effective, relatively popular Democratic presidents” but are now “sort of a way of life for some conservative activists.”

Citing the ultimate disgrace and marginalization of Coughlin and kooky groups like the John Birch Society (that William F. Buckley sensibly exiled from mainstream conservatism in the late 60s) Maddow seems fairly confident that historical precedent isn’t on the side of today’s “Fringey McFringersons” that once rabidly opposed Clinton and are now channeling the same kind of virulent paranoia and hatred towards President Obama. One certainly hopes so…