Archive for March, 2007

The recent seizure of British Sailors in the Gulf has fueled a rising cost of Crude on the markets, and guess what, it’s also signalled an increase in the price of gas at the pump and elsewhere. Now that isn’t a surprise, though perhaps I wonder how much longer will we, the consumer, be taken in by the bullshit of Big Oil Companies, and their lackeys, Bush and Harper?

This constant playing on fear is wearing thin. Just like the Boy Who Cried Wolf so often, the danger is obvious here too. The more these Oil Companies bullshit us, claim it is merely a reaction to the tension or to unusual demand spikes, the less we will believe them, until it eventually becomes true.

Consider that the price per barrel is at around $65, and that it wasn’t until the price last hit the record high of just over $70 a barrel, that gas at the pump went to the $1.15 per litre price. Funny, that’s suddenly the price now at the pump, and yet the cost per barrel of crude is still down from that high point.

It isn’t an unusual winter or spring either. I mean we aren’t sitting with 6 feet of snow on the ground, temperatures are milder for the most part. In fact they have claimed it was a record mild winter, so demand surely wasn’t all that great over the last little while.

Iran has been threatening the oil route for over a year now. The tensions haven’t eased, but increased as well, making this latest venture into brinkmanship inevitable, yet the price of crude mostly went downwards from its high mark of $70+ a barrel.

Funny but prices at the pump never went down to previous marks, even as the price per barrel did.

For the sake of argument, lets use these figures. Crude $50 and gas pump price $1/litre. Crude $60 and gas pump $1.10/litre, and then Crude $70 and gas pump $1.20/litre. Now assuming that the claim by the Oil Companies is that rising tensions results in higher crude prices, and is their justification, then why does the price at the pump not fluctuate accordingly? If crude is at $65, it would stand to reason the pump price would be at the $1.15/litre mark, and when it drops to $50 a barrel, shouldn’t one expect the pump price to drop back to $1?

Yet in reality it never does. Rising Tensions in the Gulf, or just pillaging the pocket books of consumers?

Then we had Bush with his early Daylight Savings Time crap, that oh yeah we had to follow along with. The whole purpose was so we would use less energy, and so if Bush and Harper are right on that, then obviously the combination of a mild winter, and early Daylight Savings, should mean a considerable drop in demand.

If ‘supply and demand’ are major factors in determining the price at the pump, one would assume that as demand drops, prices would drop. Funny, I didn’t see that happen, did you? Oh right, the explanation was that they were frightened of potential threats to the supply from the Middle East. Funny, the price per barrel was generally lower than at the peak of the ‘Scare Threats’. Still didn’t see any real drop at the pumps, did you?

This constant edging upwards, isn’t about tensions, or demand, but about corporate profits. Oil Companies, major backers of Bush and Harper, are raking in record profits each quarter, despite the alleged complaint that it is the taxes that make gas so high at the pump. Right, funny thing is, the taxes per barrel haven’t changed over the last year or two, and in fact have dropped up here. GST is down a whole per cent. Didn’t see that reflected at the pumps either.

Like our Utilities are controlled by government agencies, and I wonder, why not the oil industry? I mean billions of tax dollars has gone into the Alberta Oil Sands, and the oil industry is a vital part of our economy no different than Hydro is. So why shouldn’t we regulate it as well? Make them prove why they need a price hike, instead of allowing them to feed us their utter bullshit, while the execs get huge bonuses, and we get stuck with the bill?

The cost of fuel determines part of the cost of food. No matter where you live. It adds costs to simply doing business, in relation to heating costs, to delivery costs of goods both in and out. So with so much at stake in our economy, would make perfect sense that like Hydro, like the Telephone, this aspect of our economy should be held to strict controls.

It isn’t about private enterprise either. I mean unreasonable and excessive profits are not something we accept. Banks can’t charge 60% interest, so why should oil companies not be held to similar standards?

Oh right, I forgot, they own Bush who controls Harper.

Can He Stay?

So the Liberals in Quebec won but barely. While it is a minority government, and a rather big story in itself, the real story may be what about the PQ itself? It finished third and already the knives are out for its youthful gay leader. And there perhaps is the question, will he survive and if not, will it be simply because he lost the election or is it because he is Gay?

For myself, I am happy that the PQ lost, though it would have been interesting to see a Gay Premier from a major province, and how homophobic Harper would deal with that. On the other hand, I am glad that the PQ itself is now third, because enough of all this separatist stuff. Canada is one family, with many branches and I think all this splitting up talk is not good for any of us. Not for those in Quebec nor those in Alberta or British Columbia.

The only benefit that splitting up Canada would be, is for the USA. No province would really benefit, and only the Americans would as they would quickly seize the opportunity and our resources.

So will he be turfed? Would it be easier to hold onto his leadership if perhaps he wasn’t Gay? I don’t know, but I wonder if those in the PQ might perhaps be looking for a scapegoat, instead of just accepting the reality of it. That maybe the people themselves are less interested in Separation than the PQ think. I mean it could be that simple, and that perhaps the PQ should move on towards altering their policy of leaving Canada, to being one of staying in Canada, and making the province itself better from within the framework of Confederation?

Novel idea, I grant you. But I wonder if its time hasn’t come?

In Politics, It Is The Money

With the election still over a year away in the US, fund raising is becoming a leading qualifier as to who is a front runner, who isn’t, and who will actually be around for the Primary Season itself. Sad to think that today’s leaders top qualification for office of President is going to be whether or not they are a good fund-raiser. Even up here, it is how much money a party can get that helps determine who will win, at least to some degree.

Presidential candidates face a first-quarter fundraising deadline this Saturday, with reports released on April 15. Those totals will strongly contribute to perceptions of political viability. (see Story)

I suppose I am still too much of an idealist, to survive in this crazy world of money and more money. I mean look at Mitt Romney who is now being innovative in how he raises money, by giving College Students an opportunity to make money, while adding to his coffers. While it is indeed a fresh approach, it does smell. I mean it is the kids today who should be leading the charge for candidates, and yet, not since Trudeau or Kennedy have the youth really bothered with Politics.

Participants in “Students for Mitt” will get 10 percent of the money they raise for the campaign beyond the first $1,000. While candidates often offer professional fundraisers commissions up to 8 percent, campaign experts believe the Massachusetts Republican is the first to do so with the legion of college students who have historically served as campaign volunteers. (see Story)

Seems to me, that this is going about things wrong. I mean if you need money, need to attract donations from all over, wouldn’t it seem more substantial to reach out to the Voters with ideas, with policies, instead of bribes? I mean shouldn’t it be the Candidate that galvanizes the average voter, the average Kid, to volunteer, not just in time but in money? It is this insane need for money that is I think turning politics into a game of high finance and dirty tricks.

Sure there always has been an element of sleaze, but over the last few decades it seems to have gotten worse. I mean the Kim Campbell campaign was nasty, but nothing like the Harper campaign. Won’t even go south, as that is just nothing but absolute venom from both sides, and what does it accomplish? Seriously, look around at today’s crop of leaders and ask yourself, would you have voted for them, knowing now what you know about them?

Frankly elections and the campaigns need massive reforming. There is too much special interest money floating around, and after all, Politicians are just people, not Saints. They are going to be tempted, and when someone needs millions to get elected, the temptation is even greater. Look at Clinton, McCain, Obama and then ask yourself, if that money is being well spent?

Yes, the message needs to get out, but look at the message that does get out. It isn’t about issues anymore, but more of why candidate A is better than candidate B. Like that really tells me a lot. I already know how bad or good candidate B is, I want to know about candidate A, and not how many times they floss each day. I want to know where they stand on Health Care, and I want specifics too. I want to know what their approach is to education, not some meaningless slogans about being the Education President or whatever.

I firmly believe that until we limit the influence of special interests, whether it is Unions, Business, or even the Environmentalists, we are going to continue to get sub standard leadership. Look at Harper with his 5% Ethanol bullshit. A sob to his oil industry friends, when we need real leadership here, where Ethanol should be at least a 40% or more blend.

I would love to see where the Government made it impossible for Unions, Business to buy advertising or to make political contributions. They should at least be limited to X amount of money, and need to be registered a minimum of 6 months prior to an election before they can be allowed to advertise for any political party, or political party platform.

The Church should be banned totally from any type of advertising support. Those groups registered, should be clearly shown as to their affiliations with any political party or politician. Every nickle spent has to be identified as to its source. No money should be allowed from outside the country, PERIOD.

Political Parties that had any representation in Parliament should each receive a set amount of money, solely for campaigning.

No outside sources other than a candidate’s own money should be allowed to be added to any campaign.

Political Parties that are not represented in Parliament should receive funding equal to the other parties, provided they have a minimum of candidates running in each province. In short, a party like the Green Party that ran candidates in all ridings, would be acceptable for funding, while the Bloc wouldn’t be.

In those instances, such as the Bloc, they could raise funds but could only spend a dollar amount equal to 1/12th of the budget of any of the other national parties. In short, if Party A is allocated 120,000. for its national campaign, then the Bloc could raise and spend 10,000 for its campaign. Naturally I don’t expect the amounts to be that low, but it gives you a clear idea of what I am talking about.

Unions would be restricted to advertising, in both dollar amounts and in ability to advertise. While it is vital that all opinions be expressed, it is also important that those who don’t agree with a union’s position shouldn’t have to pay for it. Take the Teacher’s Union here in BC. An open show of hands to spend millions of dollars? I don’t think so.

I think untraceable ballots, need to be sent to each bona fide member, asking simply if they approve or disapprove of an election campaign ad. Only if a 60% majority approve, should a union then be allowed to spend union funds in advertising.

Corporations need to be held to a similar standard. They should be limited to the money they can spent on advertising for their own agendas. It should also be one passed by 60% of the shareholders, also in a secret untraceable ballot.

The Media should be required to provide air time, ad space, etc. to all registered political parties that meet the requirements of being official. This would involve any political party wishing to run candidates to pay a bond to the Treasury, of substantial amounts. In return they would be included automatically in debates and forums.

Idealistic, you bet. I mean isnt it time that OUR INTERESTS where served before some select group?


The Gonzales Flap

The US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, continues to be the focus of the Democrats in his handling of the firing of political appointees. Yes, I know they are Federal Prosecutors, but they serve at the whim of the President. Why the Justice Department officials made up bullshit lies to explain their firings, why Gonzales continues to dodge his culpability in it, is just stupidity really, but it is not truly the issue that should be at stake here.

It amazes me to see all these Senators lining up to take shots at Gonzales, when to begin with, they all supported him at the beginning. And that is the issue that Voters should be looking at, because how in the hell do you support the nomination of a man who supports torture of your enemies?

As I commented earlier, in ‘Gonzales In Hotseat‘, it is something that one just doesn’t expect from those who claim to be the Good Guys. I mean if a man is being nominated for top cop, where much is made of civil rights, how can anyone ignore the nominee’s stated acceptance of torture? No matter what other qualifications the guy might have, surely his acceptance that it is okay to go against the very founding principles of a nation, and of humanity itself, should automatically preclude him from getting one vote in favor.

And yet the US Senate Confirmed him.

Now they are upset that he might have ‘been less than truthful‘? Oh give me a break here, because there is no somewhat less than truthful, no somewhat honest, because frankly either you are or not. Gonzales lied, and isn’t it time people started calling things for what they are, instead of re-inventing the wheel? If he didn’t give you the truth, said something else that was false, that is simply a LIE!

And Senators are surprised? What did they expect from one who supports torture?

Personally I don’t care if he lied to Congress or not. He supports TORTURE and in my mind there is no defence or other qualifications that would make him suitable for being Top Cop. I mean Himmler might have been a great administrator, doesn’t alter the fact that he was a mass murderer and racist. Hitler might have built the autobahn, but it doesn’t make him a great leader any less than Gonzales being a great litigator, doesn’t alter the fact that he supports Torture of people.

The outrage shouldn’t just be that he lied, but that he is unfit to serve as a guardian of Justice, when he supports what wars are fought for… human rights and dignity. WWII wasn’t just about stopping Nazi aggression, but was about protecting mankind, preserving humanity itself. Now the Attorney General of the United States is no different than the Nazis, that millions died to stop.

Dialogue or Confrontation?

On the face of it, the Soulfource Equality Ride of the last few years, seems like a good idea. It is supposed to be about initiating dialogue among students who are being denied contact with Gays, or who are prevented from hearing the Gay Side of things. Basically, as their ‘mission statement‘ claims, it is to enlighten people of the ramifications of homophobia, and how it effects us all. Nice sentiments.

However, I wonder if it is really about bridging the gap with those they are targeting, or if it is perhaps seeking a more public eye onto the issue? While the latter is good, it is also very risky in my mind. I am not too sure how I feel, because you know, sometimes the messages get lost among the headlines.

(Louisville, Kentucky) Twelve members of the Soulforce Equality Ride were arrested Monday after staging a sit-in at the office of Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, to protest his suggestion that a biological basis for homosexuality may be proven, and that prenatal treatment to reverse gay orientation would be biblically justified. (see Story)

Seems to me that staging sit-ins and all, might draw attention to the cause, which is good but then too it can also distract attention from the cause as well. Protest is important, and in cases like this it perhaps is necessary, but I wonder about the whole concept here. I mean this isn’t the first time they have had riders arrested. And I wonder if that doesn’t distract from the actual purposes. If it is to engage in dialoge, does it?

I get into a lot of debates online, sometimes successful dialogue occurs, other times it turns into gay bashing like me recent incident at what I refer to as the KKK Forum. (see commentBattles Lost‘) While it is obvious you need to discuss the issues with those who are being mis-informed the most, I wonder if perhaps you are also beating your head up against a brick wall? I also wonder if it isn’t designed that way, to force the hand of their opponents in such a manner as to garner wider exposure?

It reminds of an old episode of ‘West Wing‘ where this poet is to be honored at the White House. She wants to make a comment about the land mine issue and how the USA doesn’t support the treaty, which creates a problem for the White House. In trying to disuade her from making that speech, the White House Communication’s Director tells her that if she does, it will look bad for the President, bad of her, and that it won’t be the story about land mines that will get the attention, but that she did it in front of the President, and that in short, it will be the story, not the land mines.

Kind of wonder if these Equality Rides aren’t doing the same thing?

I mean, yes one needs to reach out to those who have a negative opinions, and to those who are undecided. However, do you do it a confrontational manner or not? I have walked away from many a discussion, because I can tell that the other party is never going to change their view, no matter how many facts, figures, and statistics I throw at them. They have closed their minds to the possibility even, that a different opinion exists, let alone that it can be right. So to me, it is a wasted effort.

On that score, I will generally leave behind a remark, for those watching on the sidelines. They are truly the one’s that need to be reached, and instead of engaging in open hostilities, I leave it at that. I wonder if this is going too far, when they stage sit ins?

I also have to wonder about those who go and try to join the Military, and openly proclaim their homosexuality. I mean the law is clear, be out and proud, and you ain’t gonna be going to boot camp anytime soon. Yet they continue to do it, and get arrested for it too, so I wonder, is it really about joining up or about creating a confrontation, to garner coverage?

This is a tough road to walk, because on the one hand, you need coverage, you need awareness to be shown. On the other hand, you risk turning off the very people whose support you need, the silent majority. For myself, I believe these confrontations are counter productive, and gives our enemies added ammunition. I believe that by trying to convert or change those who are steadfast in their opposition to us, is a lesson in futility.

Instead of getting arrested, why not protest at their recruitment seminars in schools? Why not boycott those who feed into homophobia with their rhetoric? Would perhaps be more effective in the long run, as it is the money that fuels these people, not that we are immoral or sinners. It is about the money, and if we truly seek equality, then lets attack them where it hurts, in the pocketbook.

Hitler wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if the German Industrial Barons hadn’t supported him financially. They were mistaken that they could control him, but if they hadn’t, would 12 million innocents have been murdered in the death camps? This homophobia is no different than Hitler’s anti-semitism. Instead of giving them the edge in Public Relations, attack them where it hurts, in their recruitment of students.

Make your statement where it not only enlightens the uninformed, but where it will impact their pocket books. If less students go there for indoctrination to begin with, less will be brainwashed into accepting homophobia. In addition, it will make it harder for them to support mindless lawsuits across the nation. Informing and educating people before they make up their minds, is more likely to succeed than if they all get arrested every day for the entire duration of the tour.