“Gas Prices Up This Long Weekend? Oh, it’s the Eclipse”

 

 

$1.37 per litre for gas this long weekend. Oil company apologists have absolutely abrogated any responsibility for this, outright gouging of Vancouver drivers.

The price of gas has plummeted from $100.00 plus in 2010 to a little more than $45.000 in 2017.

Gas prices in Vancouver at the peak of oil prices (when oil was $110.00 per barrel) was $1.50 per litre. The price of oil has dropped more than 50%, while the price of gas at the pump has dropped 13%.

Now that oil prices are down more than 50% of 2010 levels, one would think gas at the pump would be about $.75 per litre or so.

But clearly, we don’t understand the sophisticated pressures on oil companies.

I see a hurriedly called brainstorming session of gas suppliers to come up with more creative excuses for their long weekend cash grab.

  • We’ve used the Cherry Point refinery’s having a particularly difficult maintenance period – can’t use that old chestnut.
  • We’ve blamed unrest in Venezuela – a couple of rebels feeling a bit lathered. But we kind of like these latest rebels ( they are against a left wing government), and that was a weak excuse anyway.
  • We’ve carefully explained that Vancouver’s oil comes predominantly from the U.S. ,so the demand is greater, except in Abbotsford and Silverdale who can quite easily sell gas at 15 cents cheaper to compete with their local American gas competition. No one believes that one anymore.
  • We’ve explained ad nauseum about the added gas tax we pay ( damn guvmn’t) but that’s dangerous because if anyone actually looks at the gas tax paid they would see that Vancouverites pay 11 cents more than other BC jurisdictions, while our gas prices are 30 or 40 cents higher, and even more on long weekends. They might also notice that gas taxes aren’t moving up on long weekends. We’d better gloss over that excuse.
  • We’ve tried patiently explaining that sometimes we buy too much inventory at a higher price and so prices can’t go down until that inventory is use up. Unfortunately, we never buy too much when the price is lower so any excuse for an increase is immediately reflected in the price at the pump- so , people are becoming wary of that line.
  • We’ve used the lower Canadian dollar excuse haven’t we? But that doesn’t explain why it’s just Vancouver we choose to punish each long weekend.

“ Come on people, think outside the box…”

We need a new excuse – a beauty, one we haven’t trotted out before, one that will explain why perennially low oil prices are never reflected in Vancouver prices and why we jack up prices at the pump every long weekend as high as we can crank them.

“I know”, says a small, ambitious voice in the background.
” We can say that the upcoming eclipse is causing an increased demand for gas, and that’s why the price went up ten cents on this particular long weekend!”

“Surely they’re not that stupid, are they?”

Well, if they swallowed the Cherry Point Maintenance excuse, they’ll believe anything”

“OK. Brilliant” says the brainstorming circle.

“Right, Sally, you work up some nonsense on the eclipse – once in a lifetime , people will be driving everywhere, demand up, yada yada. Throw in a mention of high taxes and we’ll get someone who is an “industry expert” to trot it out ASAP. And we’ll get that reporter, what’s her name again? She’ll make it sound objective.

“Don’t forget everybody, the excuse this time is :“

“Eclipse causing high demand, high gas taxes because of Mayor Moonbeam, and it’s too complicated to expect prices at the pump to match the international price of a barrel of oil “ (that is, unless the price of oil goes up, in which case there’s an absolute relationship between oil prices and prices at the pump)”

“OK. Get out there and crank up those gas prices – we’ve only got another 10 years or so to gouge the bastards – oh and remember, we’re not colluding”

 

 

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Hamburg’s Weekly Magazine “Der Spiegel” Rips Donald Trump

Here’s the pertinent bits of Der Spiegel’s Trump indictment,which is both bacterial and viral!

 

“The U.S. elected a laughing stock to the presidency and has now made itself dependent on a joke of a man. The country is, as David Brooks wrote recently in the New York Times, dependent on a child. The Trump administration has no foreign policy because Trump has consistently promised American withdrawal while invoking America’s strength. He has promised both no wars and more wars. He makes decisions according to his mood, with no strategic coherence or tactical logic. Moscow and Beijing are laughing at America. Elsewhere, people are worried.

“Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees.

“He is a man free of morals. As has been demonstrated hundreds of times, he is a liar, a racist and a cheat. I feel ashamed to use these words, as sharp and loud as they are. But if they apply to anyone, they apply to Trump. And one of the media’s tasks is to continue telling things as they are: Trump has to be removed from the White House. Quickly. He is a danger to the world.

“The first is Trump’s resignation, which won’t happen. The second is that Republicans in the House and Senate support impeachment, which would be justified by the president’s proven obstruction of justice, but won’t happen because of the Republicans’ thirst for power, which they won’t willingly give up. The third possible solution is the invocation of the 25th Amendment, which would require the cabinet to declare Trump unfit to discharge the powers of the presidency. That isn’t particularly likely either. Fourth: The Democrats get ready to fight and win back majorities in the House and Senate in midterm elections, which are 18 months away, before they then pursue option two, impeachment.”

“Fifth: the international community wakes up and finds a way to circumvent the White House and free itself of its dependence on the U.S. Unlike the preceding four options, the fifth doesn’t directly solve the Trump problem, but it is nevertheless necessary – and possible.

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Four Reasons Why Losing the Courtenay/Comox Recount Might Help the N.D.P.

 

If the BC(neo)Libs overturn the result in Courtenay /Comox, the parliament seat count would be 44- 40- 3.

That looks like a majority, but another election would soon result, as the BC(neo)Libs have few policies even close to palatable to the Greens or the NDP and their vote lead would be so scant. But regardless of the outcome of the recount there will be another election soon.

Although the recount result might have little legislative significance, it could have considerable political significance that could ultimately help the N.D.P.

 

1) It may keep Christy Clark as B.C.(neo)Lib Leader
Looking past Christy Clark is not something the B.C. voter is used to, but it’s not difficult to see the vultures gathering.

Kevin Falcon and perhaps even James Moore are circling the carrion of her BC(neo)Lib leadership. Either of them could resurrect BC(neo)Libs ,with Ms.Clark’s myriad controversies and missteps purged by her downfall.

If Ms. Clark can claim “A majority government”, she can hang on to the Premiership and party leadership for the brief period it will take for the government to collapse. If she leads the government into the next election, the electoral message may likely be “perhaps you didn’t hear us on May 9th
2) It would make the Greens position even more stark.

Were the seat count 44- 40 -3, once a speaker was appointed, the voting MLA count would effectively be 43-40-3 – a deadlock should the Greens vote with the N.D.P. True, the speaker can vote in a “tie” situation, but repeated tie breaking votes would soon rob the speaker of any appearance of parliamentary objectivity.
With a virtual tie in the house, the government could pass any legislation not voted against by all three Green MLAs. making Greens appear responsible for the passage of any regressive legislation, even if it’s a trade off situation.

While N.D.P. opposition is expected, the Greens would only have the power to allow passage of bills or force a tie breaking vote, a weaker and more stark position than the balance of power situation they are currently in.

3)It would likely strengthen John Horgan’s Leadership

Were a minority B.C.(neo)Lib government to limp along, John Horgan would get media coverage that he didn’t get during the election. The more people see of John Horgan the more they like him. A Christy Clark “majority” government would give him more media exposure and more opportunity to explain his party’s platform.

The N.D.P. would be expected to oppose the BC(neo)Lib legislation and would not be blamed for their imminent downfall – the three Greens would wear that,as the party that could prop up the government but didn’t.
Mr.Horgan would be able to both court and criticize the Green Party for dithering or vacillating on marginally acceptable legislation.

 

4) It would likely reinforce the anger of the B.C. electorate towards Christy Clark.

The overwhelming message of the May 9th election was “we’ve had it with Christy Clark, her dishonesty, her scandals, and her pay for play government.”

If she can limp along with a “majority” government, an angry electorate will speak even more loudly in the next election, likely identifying the N.D.P as the real opposition to smiling Christy ,especially given that Weaver has been courting the B.C.(neo)Libs so openly of late.

 

 

 

Of course this is all speculation. We’ll have to wait to see what happens in the imminent recounts. Yes, yes, it will “be interesting”.

But one thing is sure. For the N.D.P, facing a B.C. (neo) Lib. Party led by Christy Clark is politically and strategically a better option  than having a minority government fall in weeks and facing a B.C.(neo)Lib party purged of all sins by dumping Christy Clark for the people’s saviour, Kevin Falcon or James Moore.

 

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Looks As If Greens are Feeling Premier Clark’s Love

It appears as if  Andrew Weaver’s Greens will likely go for BC(neo)Libs.They’ll not likely “join” them, just agree to a couple of policy changes in return for supporting Premier Clark’s revised “Green” budget.
Greens seem more angry with the NDP for suggesting that the splitting of May 9th’s  election vote would hand the election to the B.C.(neo)Libs than they are with the sixteen years of odious government rejected by 60% of British Columbian voters.

Andrew Weaver has bit of a Napoleonic streak , and would love to be a Cabinet Minister with an extension of the media love and policy clout he’s currently enjoying.

There are lots of advantages to this agreement/arrangement between Greens and BC(neo)Libs.

Premier Clark knows that without Green support, Kevin Falcon or James Moore will have her job quicker’n you can say “Leadership review.” She has to get Greens on side or she’s done, as Premier and party leader.

She’ll sell the farm to hold onto power – she’s in a very weak bargaining position.

And what do the Greens want from her.?

Party Status? I’m sure Premier Clark has “already giffen ze order…” This can’t even count as a demand.

Big money out of politics? That’s easy if you have a huge war chest left over and corporations and unions can easily turn big corporate donations and much smaller union donations into myriad “personal ” donations – no biggy.

Proportional representation? Gee, that assures a three party system in B.C.,  with two progressive party’s splitting the “hell no , not Christy” vote. Done deal.

Kinder Morgan? Environmentalists will likely stop Kinder Morgan anyway -if she can just stall a bit, this could be done.

Premier Clark can get the Green’s “big three” demands in the bag without any financial budget effect and with little fuss.

So Mr. Weaver can easily extort his big three;  big money out of politics ,a promise of a “re- look” at pipelines,and a referendum on proportional representation. Premier Clark gets  off cheaply –  the deal is done.

But more important,and the real motivator for Mr Weaver’s BC(neo)Lib sellout, will be the fawning street cred he’ll get as a “negotiator.” Just think…

” Mr. Weaver got more out of Premier Clark than the NDP could in 20 years – all because he’s reasonable and not combative and ill tempered like the NDP’s John Horgan.

“Weaver Catches More Political Flies with Honey…”

The script reads beautifully – the media will report on it daily for months and the “Weaver’s a brilliant negotiator” narrative will join, perhaps even supplant , “fast ferries” and “the 90’s” as the go to anti NDP mantra in B.C’s right wing election lexicon.

Both BC(neo)Libs and Greens will be able to point to what’s possible if one collaborates on issues rather than just saying no all the time, like the NDP does.

If ( when) this happens, Weaver will have cynically chosen personal and party ambition over his progressive agenda,not one plank of which matches the BC(neo)Lib agenda, the first plank of which is to “control spending.”

But we likely won’t notice this and it won’t be reported on.

What remains to be seen is whether the sixty percent BC(neo)Lib  rejectors, in BC will buy this  Macbeth -like move by Mr. Weaver or choke on the photographs of Premier Clark welcoming him into the fold.

Personally ,I’m preparing a friend to perform the Heimlich maneuver on me when I see the smiling pair of them shaking  hands collaboratively..

* Author’s note.
My apologies for the use of the term “BC(neo)Lib. I can’t bring myself to call our provincial government party “Liberal”, as I feel they would have to lurch to the political left to even  be considered “conservative”.

I used “Socred” for a while but many, quite correctly, pointed out that there are no longer Socreds out there and that I shouldn’t tempt fate by ever mentioning the organization again. Hence, I settled on B.C.(neo)Lib. as a more accurate description of the party.

Should you be so inclined, I urge you to use the term too –  liberally. 
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So, in the U.S., Who’s Left to Call B.S.?

Can Americans not see what’s happening to their democracy?

The U.S., by ceding control of its institutions to their President, is seemingly enthusiastically moving towards becoming a third world junta.

With the summary firing of F.B.I. Director James Comey, President Donald Trump further consolidated his power, by reigning in one of the last non-partisan checks and balances to administrative excess – an independent intelligence community.

We’re lucky there’s no Reichstag to burn down.

If  Trump’s campaign  colluded with Russia to win the U.S. election, as the schoolyard bully would say, “whatya gonna do about it…?”

Indeed, with the F.B.I. effectively silenced, who or what is left to stop Donald Trump’s excesses?

Donald Trump controls the Executive Branch of government,including the power of executive order, policy veto, control of foreign policy and the military,as well as the bully pulpit.

Donald Trump controls the Legislative branch of government; the House of Representatives and the Senate, the country’s law making bodies.

Donald Trump controls the judiciary branch, having appointed a conservative to complete the right wing majority. While it’s true that some local and regional judges can and have slowed some arbitrary fiats, they can’t stop them, with the right dominated Supreme Court as the final arbiter.

Donald Trump controls the media. His rhetoric, with complicit right wing outlets and shock jocks, has greatly reduced the power of a  major check and balance to executive power. The media is now seen by the masses as an enemy of the people. Gallup says only 32% of Americans have “some or great” trust in the American media and 47% believe that the media makes up “fake news” to make trump look bad.

Donald Trump controls the military, not just because he is Commander in Chief. He has solidified his control by filling his Cabinet with retired generals to shape and support foreign policy without pesky congressional oversight. His determination to increase military spending buys the allegiance of the U.S. military but also elevates his right to fire should he be questioned or disobeyed.

Donald Trump controls Wall Street. Promises of corporate tax cuts, eliminating regulation, a turn towards protectionism, and a willingness to use his office to punish or reward individual businesses or industries will keep corporate America enthusiastically in line.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin may well control the world. Many posit, and the facts are beginning to substantiate , that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are fashioning an Ike-like worldwide military industrial complex- an oligarchy to control the world.

If world domination is a bit far fetched for you,at least consider this:

With  F.B.I Difector Janes Comey’s firing, Donald Trump now  controls the Intelligence Agencies of the U.S., and will  have appointed Trumpsters to head National Intelligence, N.S.A., C.I.A., and now the F.B.I.

So with Trump having control of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the US government, the military, the N.S.A., C.I.A. and F.B.I., who is there left to indict him or even investigate him should he commit indictable crime?

Given all this, what’s left of the checks and balances the U.S. fathers fashioned to curb executive (Presidential) power?

Any young Woodwards or Bernsteins out there, who progressively unearth the full scope of Presidential transgressions will be easily shouted down.

Congress? The US Congress has shown itself to be spectacularly blind to Presidential transgression – willing to sacrifice country for party and personal political expedience.

So; who or what is left to throw the President in the slammer? Or out of office?
Even if Robert Mueller supplies incontrovertible evidence of collusion, obstruction of justice, contravened emollients clauses, sexual abuse practices, or tax fraud, will Americans accept it, believe it, or care?

Given that Donald Trump controls all U.S. power sources and their checks and balances, who’s left to call B.S.?

I’m not confident there is anything that can stop this President should he choose to become the Supreme Leader of an oligarchic, military, theocracy.

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It Wasn’t John Horgan’s Fault – Don’t Even Think About It…

 

Socreds win again. Four more foreflushing years focsussed on the health of business not people, crony capitalists rather than public service, of lies and scandals, punishing public schools and teachers. Worst of all it ‘s all buoyed by a complicit corporate media.

But after this tragic loss, let’s not waste our post mortem time tut tutting about the leader or the campaign strategy. Neither John Horgan nor the NDP strategy lost this election.

“Horgan should have done this… the campaign should have done that.”
No. This election , as in most provincial elections, the NDP was doomed from the start by B.C.’s corporate media (especially Postmedia) strategy.

They started slowly with stories of an early big NDP lead due to voter anger with myriad Socred scandals. They described a few of the dozens of scandals and set in the minds of BC voters that this time, it looked like the NDP’s election to lose.
By doing this early groundwork, the media did two things:

First they set high expectations for an NDP win. Over the subsequent weeks, it allowed them to cherry pick polls and chronicle a Socred “comeback”, a comeback they could attribute to prudent Socred fiscal mangement. It also gave them lots of time to change the other side of the narrative by discussing the tax and spend proclivities of the NDP in the horrific 90s, a false narrative that is no longer even questioned it’s been sold for so long. Coupled with coverage of a surprising “surge” of Green Support on the Island, where Socreds can only win seats with a split vote, the media campaign to re-elect the Socreds was well on it’s way.

Second, and more important, giving the NDP a big early lead in the “polls” got voter anger out there early so it was easier to diffuse later on, and most importantly, it could fizzle out early with the indifferent voter, who really doesn’t “follow politics much.”

Having chronicled the “comeback” with a series of cherry picked polls , the 2017 election media campaign culminated with an almost surgical final week of manipulation of the undecided voter.

The Globe and Mail started it off, with a glowing endorsement of Socred fiscal mangement – “5 balanced budgets!”. They threw in an embarrassingly fawning column by Gary Mason who sung Christy Clark’s praises.

The Sun was on board all along, with headlines like “Horgan, a leader looking for a backbone”. They finished it up Saturday with an outright Socred endorsement without mentioning scandals, fudge it budgets, poverty levels, or BC Hydro bankruptcy.

CKNW, always a reliable Socred player, interviewed Keith Baldrey in a nauseating segment on Saturday , Mr Baldrey feigning political objectivity. Giving the impression that he had sifted through all the information which yielded the inescapable conclusion that Socreds were the prudent vote.

The Province did one better on Sunday, placing, just below the paper’s gleeful Socred endorsement , a letter to the editor that they headlined “NDP Will Bankrupt Us ”.
It’s quite simple. About 40% of British Columbian voters favour the NDP. About 35% favour the Socreds, 12 -20% are “undecided” or indifferent.

It is this group of voters who decide every BC election.

If they walk into the voting booth having most recently heard anger and disgust with Socred scandal and mismanagement , the NDP wins.

But if, like this election, the last thing they heard was the orchestrated testimonials of the media and the amazing comeback of a gifted campaigner, the NDP gets beat.

The latter is usually the scenario, and it was the scenario this time.

A carefully coordinated comeback, a push of the Green party, a last minute characterization of the stuck NDP bus as analogous to the failed NDP campaign and it’s all over.

But this time,let’s please not blame the candidate. Let’s instead blame the real villain(s) –  a coordinated, corporate media campaign which never laid a glove on the most odious government B.C. has ever had.

 

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Premier Clark Dismisses Horgan as a Leader Who Lacks a Spine

Now there’s an objective headline from Postmedia’s  Vancouver Sun, fast becoming a B.C. facsimile of Breitbart News.

In his full front page hack job of NDP leader John Horgan, columnist Rob Shaw allows Premier Clark to muse unchallenged about what she sees ( strictly clinically of course) to be Mr.Horgan’s shortcomings:

“I know people sort of thought (former NDP leader) Adrian Dix was flip-flopping, but John Horgan … has got a bigger problem in terms of finding his spine, finding his backbone. That was something I’ve learned about him over the last little while in watching the NDP.”

“John, he is not as strong a leader as I thought he would be,” said Clark. “He hasn’t been able to corral his caucus, there’s so much disunity in the group, they are always fighting with each other. He can’t seem to take a position on any of the important policies, things it’s obvious we are all going to have to take a position on.”

The fact that the Vancouver Sun would give the Premier a free front page to trash her political opponent without rebuttal is a terrifying indictment of what the paper has become.

With Global T.V. News offering nothing but traffic reports and recipes and C.K.N.W. solidly in the bag for the current  government, where can British Columbians possibly get any kind of factual information or analyses?

Shaw’s  swiftboating article also featured a photo of Premier Clark’s back, as she is symbolically walking back into the Parliament buildings. Disgraceful.

The Vancouver Sun has always shown it’s right wing stripes.They could be counted on to play a crucial role in past media coups of NDP Premiers, from Dave Barrett to Mike Harcourt to that other reviled Premier Clark.

Marjorie Nichols, Alan Fotheringham, et al, would carpet bomb them int0 submission for sins much less serious than any one of ten current or past Socred scandals. Still, there seemed to be some nuance required in their assassinations, and there was the occasional dissenting voice allowed, strictly to inoculate the public into accepting the paper’s objectivity.

But any pretence of objectivity has long since disappeared. This is the Sun’s most blatantly partisan story since the Supreme Court of Canada publicly spanked  Premier Clark’s government and forced  them to return B.C. school staffing levels to 2001 levels. So,after a fifteen year battle with a government the Supreme Court said acted unconstitutionally, what headline did the Vancouver Sun feel best encapsulated the story?

“Premier Hints at Extra Educational Funding” was the Sun’s headline.

Even worse,in this recent Horgan trashing piece, after columnist Rob Shaw had dutifully recorded all of Premier Clark’s ad hominem remarks about Mr H0rgan, he had the gall to include a most spectacular irony:

“Clark said she’s not worried about the race, because she prefers to focus on being positive.”

It would be laughable if not so viscious and inappropriate.

The Vancouver Sun has lost all objectivity.It has become a shameless government shill.

If you must read the Sun, do the crossword puzzle, find out how the Canucks did, but please, consider their significant and transparent political bias when reading any “news” story or op ed.

 

 

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