Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites Blog Flux Directory Green Assassin Brigade: October 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front

I just finished reading Depletion and Abundance by Sharon Astyk and I would recommend it to anyone who says we “can’t make a difference” or “cutting back on our carbon foot print would leave us living in caves”.
This book would be equally valuable to those who are just too scared or overwhelmed to make such major changes in their lives and need reassurance it can and should be done.

Sharon is an avid blogger and one of my regular reads, a lady who has inspired many of her readers through a self imposed challenge that she and her family of six would create 90% less carbon emissions than the U.S average. This challenge called the Riot for Austerity has grown to some prominence with hundreds of like minded people joining and demonstrating that deep cuts can be made in our emissions without necessarily diminishing your real quality of life. Considering how many of the solutions she puts forward strengthen both family and community it can very easily be shown to improve many aspects of quality of life.

Depletion and Abundance accepts that peak oil, climate change and financial insecurity are all very real and dangerous threats to the status quo but they need not announce the decline of the human story. Family, community, leisure, self expression, happiness and mental and physical health can all flourish quite well in a low carbon future, (provided we begin a transition now in an orderly manner.)

Her arguments that a technological silver bullet will not be found and that we cannot expect to consume our way out of the problem by buying better cars, tearing down and rebuilding all our houses, replacing all our appliances etc.. are very close to my own sentiments on the issue. Simply that the energy and resources to make everything work better, or sustain our gluttonous consumer society will not be available in the future and the best and most ethical solution is simply adapt to use less now!

Sharon has many arguments and examples showing that less stuff, less energy, less travel even less work need not impoverish us or deny us and our a children a productive and happy life. In fact with the hard times I see coming, adapting now to use less will probably be the best solution to keep you from becoming impoverished in the future.

Buy it, read it, live it!

.Recommend this Post

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A taste of Sarah Palin’s Presidency

This is just a little Green Assassin policy prediction incase McCain should actually win and Palin accidentally pushes the geezer down the stairs of Air Force One.

Economic policy and stimulus

20 billion dollar package to turn area 51 into an alien theme park. She thinks it will create jobs and attract Mexican’s for deportation.

$100 bounty per carcass for wolves, $200 for bears, $300 for illegal’s, $500 for democrats, $1000 for black bears dressed up as democrats

A new intelligent design museum for each state.

Subsidizes to rifle manufacturers so every homeless, broke and hungry American can own one in time to fight Armageddon.

Manufacture 300 million
Jesus is coming, Look Busy T-shirts

After hyperinflation kicks in, put Pat Robertson, Tammy Faye Baker, Jim Jones and the Diebold voting machine on the new $10,000, $100,000, $1 million , $5 million dollar notes

Domestic policy

Legalize marrying your own cousin

Restructuring the GI bill so you have to serve a 4 year military term to receive free High School.

Banning interracial, interreligious, interstate, intersex and internet marriages, (just to be safe)

Insist on being called Lord Protector

Sponsoring the American Inquisition

Take a true prolife stand of banning all abortions and birth control while enforcing executions.

Empty out the Library of Congress and replace them with material from Chick Publications, this or this or even this

Foreign policy

Declaring war on somebody. There is no point saying who it will be at this point as she doesn’t know more than 4 countries and one of those is Wal-Mart.

.Recommend this Post

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Potential good news in the solar industry

The development of Black Silicon could increase PV efficiency by between 100 and 500%, perhaps even reaching the theoretical maximum efficiency of 30-40% conversion of light to energy.

Developed in secret at Harvard the technology creates a cone like texture on the surface of the silicon by zapping the surface with an intense short spectrum laser in the presence of sulfur hexafluoride gas. This textured structure allows absorption of light from all angles, as well as the infrared spectrum which greatly increases efficiency for a minimal cost increase to manufacturing. The rights to the technology belong to a new start up company SiOnyx.

Hopefully this can be commercialized in a timely and cost effective manner, something many other breakthroughs have failed at.Recommend this Post

The Progressive Adopt a non-voter Challenge

In all honesty I don’t know if blogging (especially the political kind) is anything more than just personal therapy. I cannot measure my impact, I can’t see if I’ve made my point or verify I’ve changed someone’s vote. A great deal of the political blogging is either preaching to the choir or simply taunting the enemy to score a point or get a good argument going. This is all find and dandy but it does not engage the non political people who are the very people we need to reach out to. Last years blogging awards slammed it home when I realized the political and finances categories got so few votes compared to hobby blogs, sports blogs, celeb blogs, knitting blogs etc. We are in fact a pimple on the ass of blogdom!

In my real life however I know for a fact that I have made a measurable difference. I know that through constant dialogue I have converted several permanent swing voters and non-voters into voting greens, and one towards the NDP, I even had to talk a few Liberals off the ledge in recent weeks. The process is not really all that difficult but it takes time and commitment to the people you target to nurture. We know that 40% of the populous did not vote and you can be pretty damn sure these people are not going to suddenly trip across your blogs, see the light and start voting your way without a good deal of help along the way

My belief is that these 40% of Canadians who don’t care enough or are not engaged enough to bother voting are a much softer target than the 20% or so who have been indoctrinated by Stevie (drink the Kool Aid) Harper. These are also people who if nurtured, engaged and drawn into the process will not split the progressive vote but expand it for everyone. If we each gain 2%-3% and Harper does not we can all gain voting support and financial support without the nasty progressive vs. progressive pile ons. It's win/win

I’m challenging you all to join the Adopt a Non-voter Challenge

This is not about keeping somebody awake for 4 days on a minimal calorie diet in order to brain wash them (but if you get such an opportunity please don’t waste it). This is about identifying those people around you who don’t vote and slowing educating them that there are parties out there that speak to their concerns and that they can make a difference. It’s not about convincing them that YOUR choice is necessarily the one right choice. Rather this is about engaging people in day to day conversations about the world around them, identifying what makes them tick, what concerns them, even what angers them and then pointing out the progressive option that best suits their beliefs or temperaments.

Now you are not necessarily going to find dozens of new members for your party but you are going to find people who don’t understand where their personal beliefs fall. If these people can be shown ANY progressive choice that fits their concerns, don’t be a knob; point them in the direction of least resistance and continue to promote how this ideology, even if not your own fits their beliefs. Once people can identify with an ideology and label themselves as such getting them to vote is a cinch!

Short of the brain washing option you are highly unlikely to browbeat someone to believe something totally opposite to their core beliefs but it’s quite easy to cherry pick topics and say Greens believe in that, or the NDP has the same opinion as you. Open conversations of the topic of the day and keep them informed about what is important and over time you will find yourself becoming a resource, an integral part of their information chain, a personal political wiki who can educate, mould, and spin any third party information your adoptee picks up. It’s even better when you can speak both positively and negatively on all parties and most issues, it lends credibility.

During the Ontario MMP campaign I practically held class in my workplace cubicle for those confused by the process; unfortunately I could only get to 33% of the province. My Cassandra like prophecies of the last 3 years now bring many people to my desk asking about gold, silver, what Libor is, derivatives etc. Become invaluable to the though processes of your adoptee.

Of course you will probably discover some people who you hope will never decide to vote, these people can be ditched, no adoption is final!
In most cases however you will already have a feel about who is on which side of the fence, so you can easily avoid encouraging conservative slackers to vote
That said I’d rather steer a rabid pro-lifer towards the CHP than allow them to fall CPC who might actually get the chance to change the laws sometime soon, it’s your call.

So Join the Progressive, Adopt a non-voter challenge

Pledge that you will adopt several non-voters and promote the best progressive choice for them, not you!
Let's up the voter turnout to 70% and split the spoils.Recommend this Post

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Election 2008 RIP- Newmarket Aurora

Ok I may as well get this over with and move on to some other distraction until the sourness in my stomach abates. Origami perhaps!

First off I will admit that I did not expect my party to win this seat, I’ve never voted for a single person who has ever represented me and don’t expect that to change any time soon. If there was ever a poster child for orphan votes and electoral reform I’m it.
While I did expect a Conservative win, I did not expect it to be this big locally or nationally, sucks to be us!

Last nights Newmarket Aurora results were no big shock, we live in commuting towns where large houses and multiple cars are the norm, just the kind of people who without any rational investigation would fall hook line and sinker for the “everything tax” fear mongering. The conversations I hear on the Go Train are those with the insight of the Metro and 24 newspapers; No concept is to complex that it can't be simplified into a 100 word side bar, so No, I did not have very high expectations for the riding.

That said 46.7% conservative support for Lois Brown is sickeningly high and makes me want to slap every other person I see on the street. WTF were you thinking?
I can’t even blame the result on vacationing Liberal voters boycotting a leader they could not support since our voter turnout at 62.1% is higher than the national average.

Of course it did not help that the Liberal Tim Jones while well know in the area is not as universally loved as the Liberals tried to make us believe. Jones was mayor over a massively dysfunctional Auroran council and despite his claims otherwise, I’m quite sure it was not just the council members who were dysfunctional; a good leader brings consensus rather than more dysfunction. (The dysfunction of local civic politics may well become a new theme for me as our towns and cities refuse to plan or adapt to the coming low carbon future.)

Jones also brought sprawl and the big box economy to Aurora which in my mind was not progress. Planning under Jones was more large homes with nested streets reinforcing the anti community driving culture of the suburbs.

I have to say I’m disappointed that the Greens did not make our goal of 10%+ in the riding (8.2%), or our goal of displacing the NDP in 3rd place as we did in the most recent Provincial elections. We did however have real gains in both total votes and popular vote from our previous 4.78% to 8.2% while the NDP dropped from 9.6% to 8.5%. I really think the NDP strategy of it all being about Jack while local candidates don’t have signs until the 3rd week is souring some voters, with a growing population Mike Seaward should have at least held his own this time around.

The local Greens still have much work to do in tapping both the financial and volunteer potential of their supporters. Many of us got into this because we did not like what was offered by the other parties but we had little campaign experience and were not accustomed the money grubbing ask, ask, ask, campaigns that are a must in politics. We have however reached a point where we can afford full signage and mailers so our next outing should have more impact and confidence,

The Green campaign party last night ended up sharing the Fox and Fiddle with PC Dorian Baxter who grew his support to just under 2% with 1004 votes this time around. The guy campaigns hard and except for his harping on our marijuana policy is a good sport about it all. I still want to know how he gets more coverage in the local papers than we do!

The foetus fetish crowd of the CHP had 211 votes, which will continue to grow as long as Harper does not have a majority to do what he believes. It give me no comfort that our new MP is stated a pro lifer and while she claims they will not reopen the issue, MP Dean Del Mastro says otherwise.

That's about as much as I can stand for an election roundup at this point. I have to get home, go out and get loot bags for my kids (age 2 and 4) who could not undestand why I kept going to do "Green Party" activities 3-4 nights a week yet never brought home a loot bag. They are not impressed! What kind of party has no loot bags?

I implore all "Progressives" to join Fair Vote Canada now!
wait no longer! and work towards a system that will marginalize the minority who once again holds us captive.Recommend this Post

Friday, October 10, 2008


Finance Minister Jim Flaherty proves both he and his glorious leader are liars.

In an announcement today Little Jimmy Can’t Count, stated the CMHC will buy up to $25 Billion in Mortgages in free up the Credit market.

As I see It, this is another example of the broken business model that privatizes profit but nationalized risk, this proves that every claim that Canadian banks were solvent and not in danger was a lie, and the fact he could not hold this off until Wed A.M proves the crisis is moving to fast to stall any longer

Recent claims by the IMF that Canada had the soundest banking system are relative, it’s like saying you’re healthier than your neighbour in the intensive care ward because you only have flesh eating disease on 3 limbs opposed to his 4. Either way you are going to die or end with stumps.

Come on Jim, we are big boys and girls out here so stop lying and tell us how bad it really is, it won’t be a surprise to me I’ve been an economic Cassandra for a number of years.Recommend this Post

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Newmarket Aurora - The Last Debate

Last night was the final debate for the riding of Newmarket Aurora. The debate was held by the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce before a full but not terribly energetic crowd at the Newmarket Theatre. Part of the lethargy was brought on by the draconian rules of the Chamber itself in not allowing clapping or signs of appreciation/or lack there off in response to the Candidates responses/or lack there of. The moderator was terse and bitchy and certainly seemed as if she was tolerating (under duress) the presence of candidates not blue or red. While one candidate in particular was a bit of a handful, he should not have had his time docked when arguing politely on debate procedure. The moderator did not even make the effort to know who the candidates were, getting 2 out of 6 very simple names wrong.


With the exception of a large group from a private boys school (obviously non voting age) the crowd was old, depressingly old. I was disturbed by the lack of participation by voters younger than my ancient feeling 45 years. I know this is the internet generation but all the blogs and youtube clips in the world does not equal meeting a candidate, asking them a question and watching them answer it or weasel out of an answer. Brochures don’t cut it entirely either, you need to look them in the eye and see if they are sincere, genuine or robotic like Yul Brenner in West World. Meeting the candidates can also can be used to decide if the party you support is attracting quality candidates or just more faceless cardboard cut outs, yes people or wing nuts!


Questions from the public and Chamber members were asked but almost every time they were directed to only 2 or 3 of the Candidates at one time, leaving the audience only half informed on what each parties believe. In many cases it was the Libs and Cons answering along with one of the other 4 parties and repeatedly the PC, CHP and the Green were segregated to lesser questions. Answers were limited to 1 minute which was adequate for some questions but certainly many other answers could have used much more time. The questions demanding a yes or no answer for complicated issues were foolish and should not have been allowed.

Towards the end when the audience questions were asked the party lackeys were in full force with some clinging to questions on paper they could barely read let alone have written. The audience questions did not bring much new to the table and I would have preferred some real one on one debate on a few specific issues.

I like to note that both Liberals and Conservatives broke the rules of the event by plastering the theatre grounds with signs, despite being told not to in the event invitation.

Candidates and performances

Ray Luff, Christian Heritage.

Ray was neither comfortable nor prepared for this debate with a thin platform of fiscal and social conservatism. His ability to bring a pro life argument to so many of the questions was baffling but at least we know exactly what he stands for.

Fighting in Afghanistan so we don’t have to fight them here.

A fixed and robust timeline to pay off the debt (I actually don’t mind this)

Pro life - anti abortion and anti euthanasia

Paying mothers to stay at home (where they belong), having babies (they don’t want) to increase our population in order to lower unemployment and lower the average age, solving Canada’s aging population imbalance and I believe it was implied , so we don’t need immigrants.

Global warming is sunspot related, Polar Bears survived the mini warming trend that allowed farming in Greenland so will survive this time. We should welcome Global warming as it will allow us to grow more grapes. Absolute dufus!

Elections Canada’s 2% rule for funding is unfair, because he can’t buy any signs, (funny Dorian Baxter has lots of signs and no Federal funding, and perhaps Ray just has no followers)

Ray’s best and only role will be to suck the real radical pro lifers out of the other parties, especially the Cons
Go Ray Go!

Dorian Baxter – Progressive Canadian

Dorian is a fixture in the riding and for no apparent reason the darling of the Local paper who probably gives him more press than any other local figure. I don’t get it.

Baxter believes this tiny remnant of the former Progressive Conservative party is the true heir to the tradition to John A MacDonald and who an I to argue with him over this since the CRAP is some neocon nightmare too ashamed to admit they were once called PROGRESSIVE

While sometimes a little pompous and over blown in his presentation, Baxter is a certainly a performer and he managed to play to the audience as well as being a pain in the side of Lois Brown and the moderators for the entire evening. I particularly liked when he called Lois Brown on trust and deficits towards the end of the night.

I found his policy reasonable that unless the coalition forces in Afghanistan stand up to the plate we should pull out immediately. The Germans and others who are refusing to take combat roles while letting Canada soak up a disproportionate loses are a disgrace, especially after our decades in Europe on their behalf.

It’s not even that the Progressive Canadians are radical or something; in fact they are a more run of the mill, moderate party than today’s Conservatives and might even be a decent choice for discouraged Conservatives who just can’t make the leap to Green or Liberal. Unfortunately having only 11 candidates makes them look like a withering franchise rather than vibrant alternative, hell even the CHP had 60+ candidates, shudder!

Lois Brown- Conservative

Lois was exactly what I expected, tightly scripted, somewhat evasive and spinning like a Dervish.

While I know Tory Bloggers will claim otherwise I felt she defended quite adequately but she did not land any major blows to anyone. She simple spent the evening chanting party Mantras and in some cases outright lies.
Income Trusts (paraphrased) “all the companies were rushing to form Trusts we had no choice”
Actually they could have cancelled new trusts and grandfathered the old, fair to everyone, but who needs fair.

“Mr Harper saw this economic problem and has had a plan all along” to quote Mr Harper
I don't think now that the atmosphere should turn to one of complete doom and gloom. My own belief is if we were going to have some kind of big crash or recession, we probably would have had it by now.,
See my previous comments on this

It was certainly during the discussions on youth crime and environmental plans that things got a little scrappy but the 1 minute limit was no where near enough time to have any substantive discussion on these issues.

By no means did I accept Lois's ability to play an instrument as proof she supports the arts anymore than I accept her family being in the community more generations than the others candidates as important to her running here today.

The best "see Lois sneer" moment was when she made a comment about how much Harper cares and received snorts, guffaws and a couple out right laughs (opps I could not help myself)

Tim Jones – Liberal

There is no doubt in my mind the smoothest candidate of the night was Tim Jones, not that makes him the best choice but he has been doing this at various levels for a long time and it shows. I would have like to have seen a full exchange between Tim and Lois on youth crime rather two one minute statements, not only the implications with regards existing court rulings and U.N. standards for youth punishment but also the fact Quebec kids will not be treated as adults until 16 while rest of the countries kids get screwed (probably literally) at 14.

The one big slap at Tim was a comment on his tenure as Aurora mayor and the notoriously dysfunctional council he ruled over. This drew many claps and hoots. Tim over reacted and stated it was not a dysfunctional council that was the problem but dysfunctional councillors, generating considerable grumbles, he tried to cover with a list of accomplishments from his Mayor days but the damage was done. (For what it’s worth I’ve been told that Aurora council is not a hell of a lot better without Jones than it was before, I plan to attend once in a while and find out)

Like Lois, I don’t think Tim had any winning blows but I do think handled the night well with that one exception.

Mike Seaward – NDP

Mike is a gruff but decent guy who is very earnest in his beliefs and while not a natural performer he certainly had his moments with jabs against both Tim and Lois. Mike put forward strong positions on EI and poverty, as well as giving mention to proportional representation despite this topic being MIA in Jack’s vocabulary. He does seem to have a bit of a comic streak in him which he used defuse Lois’s claims of having a family connections to York region back shortly before the dawn of man, (6000 years plus or minus, at least that is what Stevie told her). In response to Browns boastful lineage he responded, (paraphrase), My family has not been here along as Brown’s But we go here as fast as we could!
Much applause.

Mike is the kind of NDP candidate who acknowledges there is a place for Greens at the table and his courtesy and interaction with Glenn Hubbers was most welcome. Rather than fall into the leaders trap and waste all their personal questions on people who had already had too much talking time, Mike and Glenn asked each other questions that allowed them to touch on topics they felt had been ignored by the debate. Green/Orange Detente is a good thing.

Glenn Hubbers – Green

Now I’m not going to make any bold claims that Glenn won this debate, but he certainly did not lose. Every partisan believes their candidate was the best, unless they really screw up or get brutalized by better debaters; this did not really happen to anyone this night. This night held no losers with the exception of the quite amateurish performance of Ray Luff, and perhaps to a lesser degree with Baxter’s over the top grandstanding but as he had fun doing it, I’m sure he did not count it a loss at all.

Glenn managed to clearly articulate the Green position on a number of issues to an audience that was highly stacked with decidedly non Green voters. Expectedly strong on environmental issues Glenn also got to differentiate our position on the Afghanistan mission, discuss family law and poverty, showing not only his grasp of a wide variety of issues but also showcasing that the Greens have a complete platform.
Glenn appeared knowledgeable, competent and genuine, beyond that our policy has to speak for us.
After the debate responses from non partisans was positive, all in all a damn good night.

There was one uncomfortable moment for Lois when Glenn asked Tim Jones if he would take part in a private members bill extending truth in advertising legislation to political campaigns. The gist of the response was “considering what I’m seeing in my oppositions literature, Yes! “

The chemistry on the stage was different than I expected, Green/NDP camaraderie, other candidates acknowledging a Green point before differentiating their stand and no one attacking Glenn. Of course since most of the Liberal/Conservative arguments are based on what the other party did last time and how many times each has lied to and/or stolen from us they really have a hard time framing their sterotypical argument against the Green Party.


I was surprised and disappointed about the number of issues that did not come up.

The suppression of scientific research and government funded studies proving Harper is lying about the effect of Carbon Taxes.

The disrespect and hostility towards the scientific community and budget cuts in environmental sciences.

Nuclear regulatory mess


Jerry Ritz- continued candidacy

In fact there were dozens of issues left untouched, lets hope the audience does some independant research.

.Recommend this Post

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lois Brown drives a Diesel

I really hate when politicians make inane statements in response to serious questions, case in point Conservative candidate Lois Brown.

Last Friday I had the opportunity to attend a debate at Cardinal Carter Catholic School in Aurora. A student asked all five candidates a question about sustainability and the stupidest answer was most assuredly from Lois Brown who stated, “Every time I write the word conservative I underline Conserve”

What kind of stupid fucking answer is this? Does anybody actually think she does this and even if she does is it relevant to her political beliefs on the environment, sustainability, peak oil etc?

Rather than talk about NAFTA and our obligation to sell oil to the U.S. rather than horde it for Canadians, rather than defend her parties position to cancel rebates for fuel efficient cars, rather than talk about a nation energy strategy, rather than talk about subsidies for big oil while doing nothing substantive for alternatives, she offered up.

“I have a VW Diesel that gets 50 MPG”

At this point I did not know if she was simply running scared on Tory policy or disrespecting the intelligence of these students. Had I not been in a Catholic school surrounded by a couple hundred impressionable teens I would have started jeering or swearing just about then. (Mind you there was one stunning teacher wandering about the auditorium that I would been more than pleased to spend a detention or two with.)

Back to you Lois; owning a Diesel is not proof of ones environmentalism or belief in sustainability, in fact it might just as easily be seen as proof that:

You know the dealer and got a discount
You drive a lot and are just frugal
You like the styling
Your husband bought it and you just drive it
That only VW had the colour you liked.

It could also simply mean that Lois like most Conservative voters make impulsive choices without doing any real research. After all a VW diesel is not a terribly good car diesel or not, they are rated quite poorly in both Lemonade and Consumer’s Guide ratings, and while they use less fuel they still spew out a great deal of particulate matter and are damn expensive to repair. Not only that but when rationing comes diesel will be hit hardest because it’s needed to grow and deliver food as well as heat our homes.

Apparently Lois thinks driving a frugal Diesel is enough good Karma to offset her support of a leader who does not accept Climate Change is real, who believes Kyoto is a socialist scheme to funnel money from rich countries to poor ones, who tries to bullshit a nation that intensity targets will allow us to lower our carbon emission, and whose government overruled a judge’s objection to water permits issued to a Tar Sands project.

I think it’s time Lois Brown gave those students some real answers on her environmental beliefs and commitments and how she can justify those against Conservative policy

(You know maybe an old VW Diesel is a good analogy to the Conservative Party, a poor choice that’s expensive to maintain and generally stinks.)

.Recommend this Post