Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Duffy Trial: Not Unexpected Consequences

Can we expect this soon?
For those Conservative spokespersons who don’t believe that the sorry tale of a Prime Minister’s Office scrambling to come up with the very best way to deceive the public, as told by witnesses at the Senator Duffy expenses trial, has had an effect on the popularity of their leader and of their party, welcome to the latest polls.

Here’s the gist:

The latest survey by Ipsos Reid for Global News, also published Thursday, showed weakening support for the Conservatives. Like Forum, it placed the Tories in third place, though with 29 per cent. That put them one point behind the Liberals, while the NDP led with 33 per cent. The poll represented a swing of two points from the Conservatives to the Liberals compared to Ipsos Reid's poll from two weeks previously. But compared to the firm's last pre-campaign survey at the end of July, the Conservatives have lost four points, with the Liberals picking up five.

That must really gall Stephen Harper. He has, we are told, a visceral dislike of the Liberal Party (because it has the word ‘liberal’ in it’s name, perhaps? – The Cat), and of the LPC leader, Justin Trudeau. Some say he has sworn to wipe out the LPC, leaving the field open to only two choices, the Conservative Party and the godless socialists.
And this?

Well, if you want to change the contours of Canadian politics, you have to either change the way in which Canadians hold elections (as both the LPC and NDP have committed to doing, by scrapping the FPTP system), or you have to do things and say things that appeal to a lot of voters.

That means not hiding from questions (Only 5 for me!), or preventing your candidates for MP from answering questions or from debating their opponents. It means answering questions asked in the House. And questions asked on the hustings.

It also means not persisting with the Frank Luntzian spin (aka framing) when it is obvious to all that the truth lies elsewhere.

I guess it would not surprise most Canadians to see the Conservatives lose votes, considering their record, their behavior, and especially the sorry spectacle of the PMO that the Duffy trial opened up for voters.
Welcome to those chickens, Mr. Harper: they are yours, coming home to roost.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Justin Trudeau, the King of Growth, leads with honesty

Mulcair took a dangerous step with his pledge not to go into deficit:

Despite the low price of oil and Monday’s tumultuous day on the markets, Mulcair said he does not foresee having to go into the red.

“We’re of course going to finish the fiscal year on Mr. Harper’s watch – 2015-16 is his budget, but our first budget will be a balanced budget,” he said, speaking at a small business that makes natural playground equipment.

“We know because we’ve got a lot of experienced people that governing is about priorities. Our priorities are not the same as Mr. Harper’s.”

Mulcair has not yet released the full costing details of his platform.

Why did Mulcair take this step?

The key is to understand that the soft underbelly of the socialist NDP is that many Canadians do not think of them as prudent managers of the economy. The voters generally think of the NDP as being on the wrong side of the wealth creation: wealth redistribution divide. They have policies which generally deal with redistributing wealth using the powers of the federal government with regards to cash taxation and non-tax donations (aka tax shelters), rather than on generating more wealth.

Tony Blair found the same problem confronting him when he took over the UK Labour Party. He realized that to gain power he needed to shift the Labour Party towards the centre, including expressly deleting from its constitution any references to nationalizing industries, and massively increasing personal taxes on the wealthy.

Donald Trump has the Stone’s to become President

Roger Stone

So, does Trump have what it takes to become the president? This article thinks he does. The reference is to the guerrilla-warfare expert on American politics, named Roger Stone:

Stone has worked in Republican politics for decades and helped Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan win elections. There’s no indication he’s involved in this Trump play against Kelly in any way, shape or form—he says he quit the Trump campaign because Trump insisted on this fight with Kelly—but his decades of influence on Trump, and his style, are clearly on display here.

“Hit it from every angle. Open multiple fronts on your enemy. He must be confused, and feel besieged on every side,” probably the most important of “Stone’s Rules” reads, according to the Labash profile. That’s exactly what Trump has done to Kelly, and as she’s been “confused” amid a barrage of attacks, she’s made the critical mistake Trump had been hoping she’d make: she showed her hand, abandoning impartiality with people other than him.

And here’s another of the Stone Rules:

But what was at play here? One other of “Stone’s Rules”: “Never do anything till you’re ready to do it.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The crumbling e-mail defences of Hillary Clinton & of her presidential hopes

And with them goes the crumbling of her chances of being president. A slightly desperate section of the Democratic Party senses blood in the water from her self-inflicted wounds, and is searching for a new candidate. Even Joe Biden, two-time runner and tied closely to President Obama’s administration, is being touted as a possible.

What went wrong?

Clinton failed to think things through, and then tried to skirt responsibility when it became public that her emails were being sent and received on an insecure, private email server:

The entire brouhaha is a self-inflicted injury that she keeps aggravating. And it clearly poses serious risks to her White House hopes. A recent Quinnipiac University poll of voters in three large swing states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, found that only 1 in 3 regards Clinton as "honest and trustworthy" — compared with over half for Jeb Bush.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Duffy scandal: The Troublespotter who did not read line 5 of the email

Chris Troublespotter Woodcock
Imagine you hold one of the most powerful offices you can hold in a democracy such as ours, and your job is this:

“My job was to spot trouble, try to identify it and come up with a strategy for dealing with it,” Mr. Woodcock testified.

And one day you spot some trouble brewing:

He said the Duffy affair landed on his radar in February, 2013, as stories appeared in the media about Mr. Duffy’s expenses related to his long-time house in Ottawa.
“Suddenly, we were encountering a bunch of unwelcome stories about members of the government caucus who were claiming expenses that, on the surface, they did not appear to be entitled to,” Mr. Woodcock said. “It was viewed as an entitlement issue and viewed as just not consistent with our approach to governing and our approach to expenses.”

Mr. Woodcock went on to work with Mr. Duffy to develop lines to provide on a background basis to reporters, but he also discouraged him from doing media interviews that would feed further stories on the matter.

Now imagine this scenario: you get a five line email about this heap of trouble, and you deal with it, but you miss something:

Despite his central role in the crisis-management strategy, Mr. Woodcock said he found out only in May, 2013, that Mr. Wright had paid $90,172.24 to cover the expenses of Mr. Duffy. In particular, Mr. Woodcock said he did not read the second paragraph of an e-mail in March, 2013, in which Mr. Wright said: “For you only: I am personally covering Duffy’s $90K.”

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Trump: Finally, someone gets it

Let loose the reptiles
Here’s what I think is a really really good analysis of Trumpmania, from the August 22 New York Times:

But the breadth of Mr. Trump’s coalition is surprising at a time of religious, ideological and geographic divisions in the Republican Party. It suggests he has the potential to outdo the flash-in-the-pan candidacies that roiled the last few Republican nominating contests. And it hints at the problem facing his competitors and the growing pressure on them to confront him, as several, like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, are starting to do.

His support is not tethered to a single issue or sentiment: immigration, economic anxiety or an anti-establishment mood. 

Those factors may have created conditions for his candidacy to thrive, but his personality, celebrity and boldness, not merely his populism and policy stances, have let him take advantage of them.

Tellingly, when asked to explain support for Mr. Trump in their own words, voters of varying backgrounds used much the same language, calling him “ballsy” and saying they admired that he “tells it like it is” and relished how he “isn’t politically correct.”

Trumpism, the data and interviews suggest, is an attitude, not an ideology.

Trump’s opponents – both within the Republican Party, and, as I expect he will, the Democratic Party after he wins the Republican nomination – should take heed of the quote above.

In fact, just as Bill Clinton hammered home the message It’s the Economy, Stupid! during his run, Trump’s opponents should print a huge poster and stick it on every wall of every room they will be in during the campaign to replace Obama.

That placard should read, in big bold red letters, this simple slogan:

Attitude, not ideology

And every speechwriter for Trump’s opponents should carry these three words on little cards in their pockets, and lay the card down next to their keyboards when they start thinking of composing a speech or a witty retort or anything at all for their anti-Trump candidate.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

USA 2016: My Dream Ticket – Biden for President, Warren for VP

My Dream Ticket
And Biden undertakes to be a one-term president, stepping aside for Elizabeth Warren to run for president after that, with his blessing.

Let’s hope that this was on top of the agenda at the secret meeting of the two:
Vice President Biden huddled Saturday with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the rising liberal star who has declined to endorse a candidate for the 2016 presidential race, an impromptu meeting that came as speculation mounted over Biden's own potential candidacy, according to a report.

Biden, who has begun to explore a possible presidential campaign in recent weeks, made the trip Saturday from his personal home in Wilmington, Del., to his official residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington to meet Warren, who has become an icon to liberal activists who view financial institutions as wielding too much clout in the corridors of power. CNN first reported the meeting Saturday afternoon, after which an administration official declined to comment about the meeting but acknowledged that Biden made an unplanned trip to the capital.
That combo would blow The Trump out of the water; knock Hillary out of the race, and give the USA a big push into the modern world.

The Cat will keep its many claws crossed!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Look for Ms Clean to replace Harper as Leader of the Opposition on October 20

Dianne Watts, Leader of the Opposition?
With poll after poll showing the most likely election result in our federal election on October 19 will be a majority of seats held by the opposition parties, the NDP and LPC, the chances of Stephen Harper remaining as prime minister are slim to zero.

There might be a bit of messiness if he decided to stay in power as a minority government, but the more likely outcome is that, in the wee hours of the morning of October 20, Harper will walk to the podium of his riding meeting, and step down as leader of the Conservative Party, and also as MP for that riding.

The jockeying for the post of leader of the Conservative Party will then start in earnest, although it is probably being spoken about in quiet terms in many a Tory household right now.

The Conservative Party, its reputation in shreds due to the many scandals, with the Duffy senate scandal the latest, will be seeking someone to clean house; someone with an unblemished reputation; and most likely someone with no close connections to Harper.

And that most likely means that Dianne Watts will be selected by Tory party members to take over as permanent leader of the Conservative Party.

Watts is running for Harper’s Conservatives in BC, where the CPC won in 2011:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Duffy scandal: The differences between the Duffy Trial and the Harper (Governance) Public Trial

PM Stephen Harper, the leader of the “Harper Government”, is on trial by the public for the manner in which he governed his Prime Minister’s Office (the PMO), while senator Duffy is facing 31 charges in his criminal trial.

That there are two trials is undeniable, despite the PM’s attempt to only talk about the Duffy criminal trial.

What are the differences between the two trials?

The Type of Trial:

The Duffy trial is a criminal trial, held according to the criminal laws of Canada, which deal with the types of charges, what evidence may be led, the crime of perjury if a sworn witness does not tell the truth at a trial.

The Harper Governance Trial is not a criminal trial. It is an exercise in the democratic rights of citizens living in a democratic country like Canada, to demand high levels of competence and honesty in the conduct of public affairs by our elected officials, including our Prime Minister, our senators and our Members of Parliament.

There is an intersection of events, witnesses, and statements between the two trials, with the evidence produced in the Duffy criminal trial (especially the hundreds of emails that were sent from and to the PMO and that were produced as evidence in the criminal trial) forming the basis for evidence in the Harper Governance Trial.

The Accused:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Duffy Scandal: PM Harper does not get it that there is a second trial going on

Harper defence to Trial #2
Here’s what Harper is saying in response to questions about the senior advisors and senators involved in a cover up of the real facts in the Duffy senate expenses scandal:

The Conservative leader refused to respond to direct questions whether Novak had his support and would remain involved in the ongoing election campaign.

“Once again, I am not going to cherry pick facts that are in dispute before a court,” Harper said, to the applause of Tory supporters at the campaign event.

He repeated his assertion that Duffy and Wright alone are the ones responsible for the controversy.

“These are the people responsible. They’ve been held accountable. That’s my judgment in how this matter should be handled,” he said.

Our prime minister, despite having been elected on a platform of bringing accountability to the government of Canada, has stubbornly set his sights on riding out this storm of outrage by concentrating on his talking points.

I wonder if his chief of staff, Rat Novak, helped him draft these talking points?

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