Thursday, October 04, 2007


Time for your daily PC scandal...

Alberta Deputy Premier Ron Stevens made a three-day pit stop in Hawaii on a 2003 winter trip to Australia for government business, a CBC investigation has shown.

Stevens, also the province's justice minister, was the minister responsible for gaming when he travelled to Australia in January 2003 to study that country's gambling system.

Stevens defended the stopover Tuesday, saying it was a short layover to break up a long flight and was taken to save money.

"I don't recall whether it was a three-day stop or not," Stevens said when questioned about the trip.

"But I do recall that we did it in that fashion because it was less expensive than flying business class. In other words, it was the most economic way of doing it."

Credit card statements obtained under Alberta's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act show meals and drinks for Stevens, his wife and four others during their Honolulu stay were paid for with government cards.

Although the Hawaiin stop over is funny, my favourite part is that he had to fly to Australia to "study" their gambling system...

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  • If there's one advantage to a conservative government, its that the media won't let anything slide. Whoever caught this should get an award.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 2:05 p.m.  

  • Honolulu is a great town - I don't blame him one bit!

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 6:39 p.m.  

  • But did he pay off his government card at the end of the month or expense it?

    When I had a gov't AMEX Corporate Card it had to be paid off each month. It was an accountant's dream as it forced you to submit your expense claims every month. They couldn't stack up.

    If he expensed the whole stopover, you have a story. If he just put it on his corporate card and paid it, well that's pretty small beer.

    By Blogger herringchoker, at 7:01 p.m.  

  • One would assume he'd just say he paid it if he did...

    By Blogger Glen, at 9:42 p.m.  

  • Applying common sense to politicians of any stripe is a dangerous game.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 11:19 p.m.  

  • I asked myself. Why is there so much incongruent between the image and the reality of right-wing politicians? They criticize the corruption of their opponents, yet they themselves take liberties. And, no one can blatantly disregard the facts like they can.

    Here’s an interesting article in wikipedia on Right-wing authoritarianism.
    “Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) is a psychological personality variable or "ideological attitude" found to a high degree in people who are authoritarian followers (Authoritarian leaders, on the other hand, tend to score highly in social dominance orientation.)(Source: Altemeyer, 1998)”

    “Research has discovered a wide range of RWA scale relationships over the years, which can be organized into four general categories. (The Authoritarian Specter)
    1: Faulty reasoning — RWAs are more likely to:
     Make many incorrect inferences from evidence.
     Hold contradictory ideas that result from a cognitive attribute known as compartmentalized thinking.
     Uncritically accept that many problems are ‘our most serious problem.’
     Uncritically accept insufficient evidence that supports their beliefs.
     Uncritically trust people who tell them what they want to hear.
     Use many double standards in their thinking and judgments.
    2: Hostility Toward Outgroups — RWAs are more likely to:
     Weaken constitutional guarantees of liberty such as the Bill of Rights.
     Severely punish ‘common’ criminals in a role-playing situation.
     Admit they obtain personal pleasure from punishing such people.
     Be prejudiced against racial, ethnic, nationalistic, and linguistic minorities.
     Be hostile toward homosexuals.
     Volunteer to help the government persecute almost anyone.
     Be mean-spirited toward those who have made mistakes and suffered.
    3: Profound Character Attributes — RWAs are more likely to:
     Be dogmatic.
     Be zealots.
     Be hypocrites.
     Be absolutists
     Be bullies when they have power over others.
     Help cause and inflame intergroup conflict.
     Seek dominance over others by being competitive and destructive in situations requiring cooperation.
    4: Blindness To One’s Own Failings And To The Failings Of Authority Figures Whom They Respect— RWAs are more likely to:
     Believe they have no personal failings.
     Avoid learning about their personal failings.
     Be highly self-righteous.
     Use religion to erase guilt over their acts and to maintain their self-righteousness.”

    “In one part of his summation, Altemeyer wrote that RWAs are more likely to be: "Conservative/Reform party (Canada) or Republican Party (United States) lawmakers who (1) have a conservative economic philosophy; (2) believe in social dominance; (3) are ethnocentric; (4) are highly nationalistic; (5) oppose abortion; (6) support capital punishment; (7) oppose gun-control legislation; (8) say they value freedom but actually want to undermine the Bill of Rights; (9) do not value equality very highly and oppose measures to increase it; (10) are not likely to rise in the Democratic party, but do so among Republicans." (The Authoritarian Specter)”

    There we are! The truth at last! And, it describes our rightwing posters so well.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 2:46 a.m.  

  • Very funny Jim.

    But if I can offer a serious answer, image and reality seem to clash all the time in politics ...

    Right-wingers offer the image of fiscal responsibility ... but in practise, has it been true? (See Mulroney, Brian)

    But, unlike that ridiculous source of yours, I don't mean to pick on my opponents. Left-wingers are just as bad. They offer the image of tolerance ... but in practise, has it been true? (See Fry, Hedy)

    I hate to be a cynic, but politicians generally all act the same, regardless of their stripes. Anyone who thinks that membership to a particular party makes them less likely to be corrupt, wasteful, intolerant, etc, may be a little naive. Just my opinion ...

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 2:58 p.m.  

  • Exactly, Robert.

    There's no difference between 'left' and 'right'. Both have their centrist moderates, both have their extremist control freaks who want to tell people how to live their lives for them.

    There's no difference between a right-wing dictator and a left-wing dictator -- something extremists (like Jim, or any SDA commenter) always fail to grasp.

    There's no such thing as a sense of authoritative control in one wing that does not exist simultaneously in the other. It's all smoke and mirrors to people like Jim, a shell game where you look at one side and ignore the sins of the other.

    Personally, I'm a centrist - I'm not afraid of Jack Layton, or Stephen Harper. And it's best for us to switch back and forth.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 5:36 p.m.  

  • “I hate to be a cynic, but politicians generally all act the same, regardless of their stripes.”


    That may be true in some countries. But, there’s no excuse for corrupt behavior in a western democracy like ours. We get corrupt politicians because we don’t call them to account.

    And, cynicism is self-fulfilling. We let them get away with it, and there will be more corrupt behavior.

    Remember that there is a Gerard Kennedy for every Paul Martin. A Joe Clark for every Brian Mulroney.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:47 p.m.  

  • The wikipedia article is a partial summary from The Authoritarian Specter by Robert Altemeyer (Harvard University Press hardcover 1996). The book is itself an overview of the social psychological work undertaken since the publication of the seminal The Authoritarian Personality (Adomo, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, and Sanford, 1950).

    Also, see J.J. Ray’s stinging review of Altemeyer’s work. Why is the concept relevant despite the theoretical inadequacies?

    In the 20th Century, right-wing ideology in Europe was a reaction to the threats against ancient regimes and industrial society.

    In the 19th Century, there had been several worker uprisings. The Paris Commune uprising (1871) and others like it had failed. Early socialism was not compatible with early industrialization because of the need for hierarchical organizations and a centralized economy.

    Unexpectedly, the Bolsheviks triumphed in feudal Russia in 1917. Russia was on the verge of modernization, and the communists provided an alternative to the western experience.

    The communists launched an international campaign speared headed by the Comintern (Communist International). The communists’ centralized regime posed a threat that the early socialists did not.

    In the definitive Spanish Civil War (1936), the fascists (monarchy/clergy/landowner/military) beat the progressives (communists/socialists/liberals).

    However, Europe created new social contracts out of the ruins of WW2. The socialists became part of the establishment and the traditional right wing became irrelevant.

    The fascists were discredited after their defeat in WW2. But, right wing forces around the world regrouped under the auspices of America during the Cold War.

    I would argue that the relationship worked both ways. The Americans used the rightists. But, the right wing alliances (aristocracy/clergy/landowners/military) contaminated the Americans.

    Yes, there is a form of left wing authoritarianism in Cuba. The revolutionary party is now the establishment and doing its best to stay in power.

    However, our interest is in the right wing authoritarianism (RWA) that has gained power in American (Canada lagging). Even as RWA peak in American, we must confront the same doublethink in Canada.

    Whatever the theoretical inadequacies of RWA, the clinical relationships are startling appropriate.

    It explains why the Bush Administration is a champion of human rights. Yet, it supports indefinite detention without trial and authorizes torture. The Bush regime speaks of freedom, but it works actively to erode the rule of law. Etc.

    In contrast, conservative politicians genuinely support balanced budgets and civil liberties. Their POV represents a viable alternative in the political spectrum.

    I’m sorry if the material is hard to comprehend. However, we must avoid the name-calling and understand the reality of what’s happening. Harper may share the laissez faire economic views of the conservative, but he is a right winger (authoritarian/ideologue/military).

    Harper shares the same RWA psychological attributes with many of his supporters. Some of who post on this blog.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 3:06 a.m.  

  • The Globe and Mail is reporting that Gary Mar and Richard Magnus have both gone to Germany, after announcing that they won't be running again, to study how to be better legislators.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 10:24 a.m.  

  • Uhhh, I'm not even bothering to read through that.

    In a screaming match between leftists and rightists accusing Harper and Broadbent of all kinds of evil, the screamers only drown each other out - which is just as well, because neither has anything substantial to say, or worth listening to.

    You're wrong, I'm right - no, I'm right, you're wrong. Blah blah blah blah blah...


    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:19 a.m.  

  • The chap is absolutely just, and there is no question.

    By Anonymous, at 2:09 a.m.  

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