Monday, October 28, 2013

Why Lou Reed Is Important Even Though He Didn't Sell a Ton of Records

Here's how my morning began. I walked into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee, and I turned on the radio only to hear that Lou Reed had died. Then, the radio station began playing "Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side", and The Beauty walked into the kitchen and said, "hey, they're playing your theme song". Yup. I loved and loved and still love that song.
But that wasn't the start for Lou Reed. By now, there are dozens of really good posts about why Lou Reed's band The Velvet Underground were so instrumental in redefining rock and roll as not just about being loved/ losing love/ never having know love, but about everything in life, including the seedier side.
The Velvet Underground played the clubs in New York in the East Village when I was of the age to go clubbing. They were unique, and as my contribution to the many tributes to Lou Reed, let me point out what he started.
Without The Velvet Underground breaking the Glass Love Ceiling,
could David Peel ever have written "Happy Mother's Day, Happy Father's Day, I am your son, I am a runaway"
Could John Lennon ever have written "Mother you had me, but I never had you"?
Could The Ramones ever have written a song about XMAS Eve called "I Wanna Be Sedated"?
Could The Sex Pistols have written a song about Abortion?

Could Nirvana have written anything?

Of course the answer is yes. Rock and Roll was ready to move away from the music themes of Sinatra's generation. And, it was Lou Reed and his Velvet Underground who were there to pioneer the future.
Well done Lou and thanks for the theme song.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Duffy, Wallin, Brazeau: Ask Me If I Care That They Are Being Denied Due Process?

I get it, Prime Minister Harper demanding that the 3 expense padding cheats should be kicked out of the Senate is an affront to our justice system where you are innocent until proven guilty.
True, however, each has agreed to pay back monies that the accounting audit said they claimed incorrectly, and so, isn't that an admission of guilt.
Besides, it's our money they were trying to defraud us of. Kicking them out of the Senate, denying them a life long pension so they aren't rewarded for being admitted cheats sounds like a nice way for me to get some of my money back.
So, do I care about Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau, NO, NO, NO.
The thing that is so disturbing is that everyone knows that they aren't the only 3 cheats. The fact that Duffy had to ask if his claiming his home residence as a fishing cottage that he visited less than 1 week a year could be considered his primary residence shows how when he was a young and naive Senator, he couldn't even believe what a set of dishonest rules Senators lived by when it came to declaring their expenses.
Does Wallen have a case saying that she didn't book flights to home but had to stop over in Toronto for a day or two or three because a direct flight to Saskatoon or Regina would have gotten her into the airport, with still a 2 1/2 hour drive to home way too late in the evening. I've traveled for business all my career. Here's a simple solution, SLEEP AT AN AIRPORT HOTEL and drive home the next morning. Look at the math. A ticket from Ottawa to Toronto, one way, with 2 weeks advance notice is approximately $467 for executive class. A night in Toronto at a downtown hotel is approximately $300. A one way ticket to Saskatoon or Regina is $1,000. So, to get home from Ottawa with a stop over in Toronto costs the taxpayer approximately $1,800. On the other hand a ticket from Ottawa to Saskatoon or Regina, with a stay over at the airport $1,200 because the airfare from Ottawa to Regina is approximately the same as the airfare from Toronto to Regina, and the hotel for the evening is approximately $100 cheaper. In round trip dollars, Senator Wallin overcharged the taxpayer by $1,200 ($600 times 2) every time she went home.
Least we forget Senator Brazeau. The audit committee found that he overstated his expenses by $48,745.
It seems to me that when we the taxpayers agreed to reward certain worthy people of a lifetime job, with pension, we did it because we considered them to be among our finest citizens. These three are a bunch of petty cheats. Not a trait that is worthy of a Senator of Canada.
We don't need a court of law to kick them out of the Senate. Courts of law send people to prison. We just want them out of our taxpayer Senate. And, we want our other Senators on the taxpayer dime to do what is right. Get rid of the bums, and I suspect, as the digging continues, which I hope it does, there will be many more bums to get rid of.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Five Things U.S. and Canadian Politics Have in Common

In her latest book, Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country, dual citizen Diane Francis, who resides in Canada and is the editor-at-large for the National Post and the former Editor of the Financial Post, makes the argument that Canada and the U.S. must form some sort of partnership, be it a European Union or something stronger to withstand the attack on North American resources by both the Chinese and the Russians.

While I am only about 10% finished with the book (according to my eReader, to me, the statistics about how both countries are selling off our farm land to the highest bidder, or any bidder, and the exponential decline in North American owned agricultural land, is frightening.

Of course, there are many things that separate Canada from the U.S. and make talks of a merger seem impossible, for instance:

good Canadian Beer vs. Water Infused U.S. Beer,
good U.S. football vs. 3 down, last team to have the ball always wins, Canadian football,

Montreal smoked meat vs. what? Nothing,

N.Y. or Chicago Pizza vs. 30 minutes or less.

However, I want to focus on what we have in common, that is, silly politics. So, here are the 5 things that U.S. and Canadian Politics Have in Common:
1. No opposition to choose from when we go to the polls

The Americans federally have a 'normal' far left leaning leader (by U.S. standards), President, while the opposition party (two parties in one), have schizophrenic leaders who are one thing before gaining the leadership and quite a different person after gaining the leadership (ex. Romney on health care and women's rights issue).

In Canada, federally, we have a 'normal' far right leaning (by Canadian standards) Conservative Prime Minister, and  the opposition which consists of:
 a not-yet-ready-for prime time, pretty face, with a well respected last name,
a party which only got so many seats because the Liberal for the second election in a row gave the country a leader who couldn't lead,
a party which doesn't want to be part of Canada,
and, a party, to quote from Diane Francis, "that wants to turn Canada into a National Park".

2. Minority Anti-Government Party
In the U.S., while they still haven't come to terms with it, I have, there are 3 parties, the Democrats, the Republican, and the Tea Party. The Tea Party controls over 10% of the House (49 members out of 435 Representatives), and in the Senate, 5% control (5 members out of 100) . The Democrats and Republicans believe in a federal government, the Tea Party believes in the elimination of government, or at least, taking away the majority of its spending power, leaving it a shell of a government.
In Canada, we have the Bloc Quebecois. In their prime, 1993 election, the Bloc represented 13.5% of the parliament (54 seats out of 295). And, in their prime, they were the minority party. That means that they were the "loyal" opposition, and it was their job to represent the contrary view to the government of the day. It worked just fine, because, as a minority party, they still couldn't hold anyone at ransom. I would argue that this is exactly the same truth that the Republican Party finds itself in. If Speaker John Boehner had treated the Tea Party as a minority view inside the caucus, none of the current shutdown mess would be happening. There is definitely bi-partisan support between the remaining Republican and Democrats to keep the government running, while still respecting the view of the 10% Tea Party. And, yet, this isn't happening. Wake Up America, the rest of the world needs you to act responsibly.

3. No leadership with the ability to lead

One of the problems in the U.S. is the President himself. As Harry Truman famously said "the buck stops here", and yet, Obama doesn't seem to know how to make the current government structure work. I cannot believe that there is no way for the Democrats and Republicans to work together. The Democrats say it's the Republicans, and the Republicans say its the Democrats. I don't buy either. I

think it's both.
In Canada, our Prime Minister finally has a majority government, after 5 years of his minority rule. And yet, he continues to move forward in starts and fits. Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that his majority still only represents 40% of the electorate, and so, like President Obama, he is more concerned with doing the things that will help keep his party in power, rather than doing the things that define leadership.

4. Both governments are currently shut down
In the U.S., the government is shutdown because no one can work together to pass a budget. In Canada, Prime Minister Harper has told the parliament not to return to work after their summer recess. They still aren't working, and won't be invited back to work until October 16. In the U.S. they call it a shut down, in Canada, we call it a prorogued parliament. Why do we pay these guys?

5. If you leave one Party in power long enough, the corruption becomes public knowledge
Sadly, my contention is that all governments are corrupt. However, we the public don't see it until that government has been in power long enough for the corruption to rise to the surface. In Canada, we have multiple appointments to the
Senate, by the Harper government, stealing our money either through an inability to add, or a conscience effort. The courts will soon tell us which one. And, did I mention the Conservative Party slush fund to pay off ???? before the scandal becomes public? Really, really, really!
In the U.S., we have a government illegally spying on us and targeting specific taxpayer groups.
In both cases, the party doing the misbehaving stands an excellent chance to win re-election, which goes back to my point number 1, the opposition in both the U.S. and Canada is so weak as to not give the taxpayers any choice but to re-elect those corrupt expletives! 

Alas, in both countries, it seems that the devil you know is still better than the devil you don't know.