The Shotgun Blog
Friday, April 30, 2004
Paul Johnson has said that Tony Blair is the son Margaret Thatcher never had. This Daily Telegraph editorial explains why Johnson is wrong:
"Although Tony Blair is the first Labour leader to talk enthusiastically about wealth creation, and although he pays lip service to social cohesion, he is loosening the ties that bind our society. He has done so through naive and hasty constitutional "reforms", unrestricted immigration, the surrender of national sovereignty to the European Union and the growth of a client state of bossy social engineers committed to a culture of therapeutic self-pity.
It is hypocrisy for Mr Blair to claim, as he often does, that he has preserved the best elements in Thatcherism while turning his back on its selfish ethos. The truth is that he has learnt a few narrow economic lessons from Lady Thatcher, and nothing else."
Paul Martin is the Canada Steamship Lines of Canadian politics
Is an election inevitable? Yes, says the Halifax Herald's Don MacDonald. MacDonald says that Paul Martin created expectations for an early election and governed (or didn't govern) accordingly. Having done so, he can't really change his mind: "Once a mega-ship takes on a head of steam, it's all but impossible to change course in a hurry."
French wine is for socialists
The Guardian reports that France is taking steps to halt the plunge in wine sales. The article is interesting in itself because it outlines how French wine producers and the industry's regulating body are not very market friendly and that part of the problem is that French wine was not responding to the desires of consumers. I wonder how much the boycott against French products after their refusal to join the Coalition of the Willing is contributing to the industry's woes. Anyway, I urge people to enjoy New Zealand wine, the only wine in the world, The Spectator's Ross Clark has reported, that does not receive a cent of direct or indirect government subsidy. You can taste the free trade.
Finally an Ontarian is talking about Senate reform
Former Ontario Solicitor General Bob Runciman says it is time for an elected Senate. He has called for provincial legislation that would allow elections for the Senate and presenting the winner of the contest to the Prime Minister to be appointed to fill a Senate vacancy. The Globe and Mail reports "Alberta passed similar legislation in 1988 but prime ministers have refused to appoint the victors in subsequent elections to Alberta vacancies in the Senate," apparently forgetting about the only Reform Party senator, the late Stan Waters.
Runciman says the government would heed the advice of the Ontario electorate or face a possible backlash come the next federal election. While Senate reform has been a non-starter in Ontario, it may resonate in the next campaign if it is connected to the need for accountability for the federal Liberals who seem to want power for no other reason than to reward their friends (patronage, lucrative consulting contracts, large commissions for placing sponsorship ads).
The America-haters' propaganda gift
[cross-posted to Daimnation!]
The torture and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers is disgusting, inexcusable, sadistic, cruel, callous and, above all, stupid. Those responsible should, at the very least, never be allowed to wear an American military uniform again. Simple as that.
That said, and even accounting for the fact that America should be held to a much higher standard than a hideous dictatorship, only a fool would compare this to the atrocities committed in Iraq while Saddam Hussein was running the show. And unfortunately, there's no shortage of fools working for London tabloids like the anti-war, ultra-right-wing Daily Mail:
FOR decades, Saddam Hussein's infamous Abu Ghraib dungeon was the scene of unspeakable cruelty against Iraqi prisoners.
Now the Americans are in charge - but the torture has continued.
Photographs have emerged showing Iraqis being sexually abused and bullied by their U.S. captors.
The Baghdad prison scandal is disturbingly reminiscent of how the Americans' cruel treatment of prisoners was revealed at Camp X-Ray in Cuba following the Afghanistan conflict by photos showing the hooded captives chained like animals in open-air cages. They were also paraded in orange jump-suits. With the reasons for invading Iraq under increasing scrutiny, this will cause further damage to America's attempts to persuade the rest of the world it was in the right.
"The torture has continued"? The Mail's own story notes that the abuse was reported by other American soldiers, and the torturers disciplined, before 60 Minutes broke the story this week. It's very hard to criticize the media coverage of these vile acts without sounding like I'm trying to minimize them, but this is nothing - absolutely nothing - compared with what the Ba'athists used to do in these very same prisons. (And would still be doing today, had Bush and Blair listened to the Daily Mail.)
And don't get me started on the Camp X-Ray "torture" stories again. You really don't want to get me that angry.
Needless to say, the Arab world is seething with rage - again - now that these pictures have shown up on Al-Jazeera. And I can't blame them. But I'd be much more sympathetic if they ever spoke out about the(much more horrifying) torture and cruelty that goes on in their own prisons - and took a moment to realize just how angry Americans are when they see scenes like this and this.
Liberals against the UN
It's not a group yet though given yesterday's news that Liberal candidates are to ape Paul Martin I suppose we can expect a whole bunch of Liberals to agree with him.
Yesterday Paul Martin made a shocking announcement coming from a Liberal: The United Nations is broken and needs to be replaced by a new international body.
With yesterday's landmark speech, Paul Martin tacitly acknowledged what Canada's foreign policy establishment has refused to accept for decades: that the United Nations is a failure, for which there is no solution.
The Prime Minister's proposed alternative is a new international body, the G-20 summit of world leaders, representative of North and South, developed and developing, rich and poor: a working group unfettered by the UN's bureaucracy and its anachronistic Security Council.
Of course, if you're the cynical chap that I am, you'll agree that Martin's new body -- if Liberals designed it -- would likely be even more invasive in a nation's sovereignity then the UN is. Moreover, given the Liberal penchant for special interests, I can only imagine all the caucuses set up for every conceivable group of nations nursing grievances. We'd probably end up with a UN II that would be even worse than the organization we have now.
Sometimes the most interesting insights into Iraq come from little snippets that show up on Iraqi blogs. Check out this folk tale on wedding advice:
You know there is a rather crude and cruel folk recipe for a newly wed man. This recommends for the young man to secretly plant a great big tomcat in his wedding bedroom where he is to spend his first night with his bride. Then as he and the bride are in the room he would surreptitiously provoke the tomcat into some meowing and growling, whereupon he should fake anger and fury and catch the cat and ring its neck savagely in front of his bride. This, they claim would contribute to making a very good and tranquil marriage life.Ah, and this is coming from one of the most pro-western, pro-democracy voices in Iraq. Imagine what the less enlightened have to say.
So, how stupid were you as a teenager?
Great comments thread at Tim Blair's blog, in which people are 'fessing up to the ultra-leftist nonsense they believed when they were younger.
I think I speak for a surprising number of warmongering neo-cons(TM) when I admit to spending 1985-1988 convinced that Gorbachev was the only thing preventing Reagan from blowing up the whole world, just for the hell of it. (Hey, I was in Junior High at the time.)
“It’s like a freakin' country bear jambaroo around here”
The Ontario Provincial Police have signed a protocol with the Liberal [prov] government which requires them to respond to emergency bear calls. The protocol, according to the fact sheet, allows them to shoot the animals "if there are no other safe alternatives following recommended procedures". (I like the way governments always stick the really important stuff on the backgrounders.) Back to the press release:
"The new protocol will help the OPP improve upon the safety of people who are placed in danger by bears," said OPP Deputy Commissioner Maurice Pilon. "Every bear incident is different and by providing a coordinated approach to assessing each situation and potential response, we can also act in the best interests of our human and bear population."
Gotta love that last phrase "our human and bear population". Of course our human and our bear populations are on equal footing, except that bears don't vote... at least not in general elections (who knows, maybe they are allowed to vote in party nomination meetings; just about everybody else can).
Does anyone know what prompted this? Have there been recent news stories about bear attacks that I missed? I'm tempted to think it is some sort of vague, echoing response to problems brought about in the long-term by a general distrust and disarming of the populace by our elitist governments--"sometimes bears must be shot; only the police should have guns; send the police to shoot the bears"--but perhaps this is only my Albertan red-as-beet-neck showing.
Thursday, April 29, 2004
No such thing as bad publicity, right?
One of our contributors, Shafer Parker, sent me this link today from Jay Nordlinger’s Impromptus on NRO (scroll waaaaaaay down). Neither of us is sure why Nordlinger is musing about this on this particular day. Still, isn’t it nice to see Canada punching above it’s weight internationally, as they say? I mean, if you forget the fact that it’s because we’re one of the key pillars in propping up a brutally oppressive Communist dictator.
“In 1993, [Fidel] Castro's daughter, disguised as a Spanish tourist, escaped her father's island and found refuge in the United States. She is Alina Fernández. Recently, she flew to Montreal to participate in a Reporters Without Borders event. She had never been to Canada. In an interview with the Montreal Gazette beforehand, she said, "Canada is one of the most powerful commercial associates of the regime. A lot of Canadian tourists go down to Cuba. I'm not trying to change any of that but just to let people know what's really going on."
The RWB event called attention to the fact that Cuba is "the world's biggest prison for journalists" (this is the organization's judgment, and it is hard to dispute). Said Fernández, "At least we can try to keep those people alive by keeping them in the news.”
“In my opinion, one of the great evils of the Canadian government is its continued love affair, started during the Trudeau era I think, with Communism, and especially Cuban Communism. I am ashamed and embarrassed every time one of my friends takes advantage of the cheap rates to vacation there. The idea that we let Sherritt International Corp. pretty much rape the earth in Cuba and pay millions to Castro for the privilege, of which the workers get pennies, should turn the stomachs of Canadians. It’s disgusting to see PM after PM defending Sherritt and getting all self-righteous every time the U.S. bans another exec from travel in the states. BTW, I'm sure you're aware that Sherritt, along with the Ontario Teachers' Union, owns a major part of Luscar Coal here in Alberta. So much for union commitment to ethical investments.”
Pre-election spin, Part II
Part One in the pre-writ attack on the new Conservative Party was Joe Clark's Paul Martin endorsement. Part II came today: lots of Red Tories can't stand the party, and guess what? They're defecting!
Liberal insiders say moderate or "Red" Tories are joining their party in droves because of fears the new Conservative party is in the midst of a hard right turn under Stephen Harper.
"There's a lot of people, you can call them Red Tories, you can call them Progressive Conservatives, who are making a judgment about what their new political home might be," said the Liberal insider.
Although it would have been nice to see some names (!!!), this is pretty smart politics, and had to be expected. A key Liberal tactic in the campaign will be to drive centrist former Progressive Conservative voters to the Grits (or, at worst, planting enough doubt in their minds to get them to stay home).
If the Liberals succeed in defining Harper as an extremist before he has a chance to define himself -- as evidenced by this week's events -- he's DOA. It's time for the Conservatives to start going on the offensive.
The Liberal brand name
Top dogs within the Liberal Party play down the party and focus on leader. Perhaps party brass will consider formally changing name of party to Team Martin.
Libertarians for the Green Party?
It seems that more and more people are speaking of the Green Party of Canada as a party that cannot be classified outright as left-wing and that could appeal to economically conservative voters who are not socially conservative. However, I think this is a mirage and that the environmental, economic, fiscal and trade policies of the Green Party are mostly unappealing to libertarians. As a bonus, there is some discussion on the fact that libertarians would be misguided to overly fear social conservatism and uncritically embrace social progressivism.
Who's keeping count of McGuinty's broken promises
What are we up to now? Anyway, Johnathan Colford comments on Premier Dalton McPromiseBreaker's idea for rent reform: "The Ontario government is now surveying us on rental law reform. Help McGuinty break more promises at www.rentreform.ontario.ca"
One more thing the government can't do right
I realize that a lot of the Western Standard/The Shotgun readers are old school conservatives but I bring this story in the libertarian spirit of proving that government just doesn't know how to do anything right. The latest example? Growing marijuana.
Nearly a third of the patients who got marijuana through Health Canada's medical access program have returned the product, says an activist who sees that as proof that federal pot isn't worth smoking.
"High school students in a cupboard could grow a product that is better and safer than what we're getting," said Philippe Lucas, who obtained the figures through the federal access to information law.
"I think it's much weaker than the government claims. I'd really suggest their testing is off."
Lucas, director of Canadians for Safe Access, said tests commissioned by his pro-pot lobby group have found the federal product contains only 5.1 per cent THC rather than the 10.2 per cent claimed by Health Canada. It doesn't even look appealing, he added.
Goes to show you that they should have at least consulted the private sector. Folks in B.C. reportedly grow a crop that's in demand around the world...
The dog ate it?
The U.N. can't find (wink, wink) most of its Iraqi-oil-for-food contracts:
The vast majority of the United Nations' oil-for-food contracts in Iraq have mysteriously vanished, crippling investigators trying to uncover fraud in the program, a government report charged yesterday.
The General Accounting Office report, presented at a congressional hearing into the scandal-plagued program, determined that 80 percent of U.N. records had not been turned over.
The world body claims it transferred all information it had - including 3,059 contracts worth about $6.2 billion for delivery of food and other civilian goods to the post-Saddam governing body, the Coalition Provisional Authority.
But the GAO report also found that a database the U.N. transferred to the authority was "unreliable because it contained mathematical and currency errors in calculation of contract costs," the report found.
The GAO findings, which were aired at a hearing of the House International Relations Committee, raise new questions about corruption and mismanagement in the biggest-ever U.N. aid program - and what has been called the biggest financial scandal in history. An earlier GAO report said Saddam ripped off over $10 billion.
An Interesting Strategy
Nova Scotia, land of my birth, and a province that is fast becoming a politically correct basket-case to rival B.C. (they're conservatives!?) has decided on a new tourism marketing strategy. They're pulling their ads from the American program "The Swan", admittedly a ridiculous, low-brow show (and for that reason likely a hit). Apparently it sends the wrong messages about health, and could even cause despicable American tourists to actually show up in Nova Scotia, demanding to spend their imperialist dollars. Instead they'll run the spots during a more wholesome presentation that will presumably send the 'right' messages. Silly me, I thought the point was to grab the attention of the largest number of people possible. I guess good old Nova Scotia doesn't want none of them there money totin' Mercans coming around if they don't have the right attitude toward "wellness". Do we need the Liberals back in power down there just to restore some common sense? God forbid.
Cross-posted at Occam's Carbuncle
Going Retro in Iraq
First, let me say how much of an honour it is to join the Shotgun crew. There is a world of a difference between prolific commenting and actually posting!
The latest news out of Iraq is that the Marines currently surrounding Fallujah will
end their siege and will be replaced by about 1000 former (i.e. Baath) Iraqi soldiers and commanders in a "Fallujah Protection Army".
(Correction: the Marines have not actually said that they will be ending the Fallujah siege. And the transition is "gradual", but nonetheless the intention is that "eventually the whole of Fallujah will be under the control of the Fallujah Protection Army.")
Not surprisingly, some of those soldiers' old buddies are the ones that are causing the whole mess in the first place.
It's already bad enough that Iraqis in the new army are refusing to "fight Iraqis". Now the Coalition is asking for people who are either neck-deep complicit in the crimes of the old regime, or are such opportunists that no one can trust them anyways.
The real kicker though, is that even if I give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they are decent human beings, that probably would suggest that the insurgents would be less inclined to cooperate. At which point this "new" force would have to use harsher methods than the Marines to pacify Fallujah, since they are less well trained.
I know the idea is that the insurgents would see other Iraqi faces and be more likely to cooperate. But when even civilians are under insurgent attack, why would army forces be any less likely to get shot at, unless they bend over backwards to the insurgents' demands?
So basically we're trading in for highly trained, dedicated Marines for less competent, less loyal Iraqi soldiers. Care to explain why anyone could even say that this is a good idea with a straight face?
(Another update: now evidently the idea is to pull back, but there's no deal yet (although any idea of a "deal" is not very tangible in my book anyways). This story, if anything, illustrates the utter futility of commenting on developing events. But my initial purpose was to point out that rushed "Iraqification" is not the panacea it's often thought to be, and I'm going to stick to that)
We're giving them WHAT?
At last, the perfect pretext to try out the Standard's TypePad thingy for guest authors. Naturally you were all voracious readers of the Standard's spiritual predecessor, the Report, so you are aware that I wrote an 800-word article about Seaton House when it began serving cheap vino to its clients three or four years ago. (Very, very cheap vino indeed--three dollars a litre, according to the Post. But I won't stand in the way of anyone who wishes to blame the GTA's budget crisis on a few bottles of plonk.) The piece was a purely neutral inquiry into the premises behind the program; lacking evangelical or 12-step principles, I failed utterly to denounce the shelter as a breeding ground for disease and/or demonoids. There were disapproving quotes from experts on the care of the extremely poor.
The fact is that the inebriate homeless who don't want to stop drinking will find a way to consume intoxicants unless you lock 'em up. Locking 'em up may be the right thing to do, but it's not on the legislative menu. The alternatives to alcohol, for street people, are cleansers and solvents: these are not especially good for you. The wine is given to the Seaton House rubbies under supervision and they are limited to one glass per hour: the Toronto council genius who said "after a couple of glasses of wine I get a little light-headed" may just possibly be underestimating the immunity of your average Skid Roader. At the very least, let's separate the cigarettes and the booze here: the latter is provided as a harm-reduction measure, while the former, I suppose, is purely meant to keep the guys hanging around while they receive counselling and steady meals.
Anything that helped set these people on the road to self-sufficiency and stability would be worth a little extra up-front expense. I don't know whether any conclusions are possible yet on whether Seaton House's approach works: it doesn't seem like anyone's interested in that question. But if there is just one homeless shelter that teaches men that they do not necessarily suffer from a "disease", but from poor life choices, I think we can live with that. AA and its mutations, contrary to popular belief, are not the only road to recovery from a drinking problem, and there isn't much solid evidence that they are the best road.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Slow To Catch Up
Is anyone from the Conservative Party paying attention?
Where's the blog?
Contributing to Leviathan
I've put off my taxes long enough and sorry Rev. Bill Phipps, I'm not going to pay joyfully. At this time of year I am both displeased with my government and my fellow Canadians. Why won't Canadians ever rise up and say enough with confiscatorily high taxes? Perhaps because most Canadians think all they pay in taxes is the final cheque they write in April (or get back). Few Canadians understand that they are paying taxes every time they get paid. Several years ago when Walter Williams was guest hosting for Rush Limbaugh, he suggested that the government end deducting income tax at the source and have Americans pay it monthly like they would any other bill. Preferably in person at a government tax office. Even better, require that taxes be paid in denominations no larger than fives and tens. Then, and only then will people realize how much they really pay in taxes and perhaps then taxpayers will demand less of their government. Perhaps.
Tax time quote from Mark Milke from his boo Tax Me, I'm Canadian: Your Money and How Politicians Spend It: "The belief that enough smart people plus more tax dollars as the solution to a problem is a perennial temptation to intellectuals and to politicians no matter their political stripe." It is time to starve the beast.
Massacring truth in Fallujah
While watching the documentary Jenin - Massacring Truth I flipped the channel and watched the CBC massacre the truth in Fallujah. These people have learned absolutely nothing from the experience, in spite of what certain idiotarian media commentators may claim. The U.S. could flatten Fallujah in two days if they had no concern for civilians there; the only reason the standoff has been pending for weeks is because they are attempting to show mercy to both the fighters and especially civilians in the city. But what is the CBC peddling? Utter nonsense about the careless killing of civilians by American forces in Fallujah. You’d think they’d at least restrain themselves on the very day another network is exposing the way they uncritically broadcast uncorroborated Arab propaganda as fact.
We could try that, or...
Cross posted on Occam's Carbuncle
Paul Martin to campaign on Pearson's legacy!
To expand on Kevin's last post, it looks like the Liberals have been busy steering their ship back to its usual path. Pettigrew has "clarified" his position while Paul Martin has been especially adamant at defending medicare:
This is the party, the Liberal Party brought into being the universal accessible public health-care system. That was our position at the time it was brought in, that is our position today and that will be our position tomorrow and for the years to come.
That's quite rich. Team Martin kept insisting that the Martin government had absolutely nothing to do, never!, with Jean Chrétien. Yet they are still intent on claiming the mantle of Lester B. Pearson 40 years after the fact. What's next? Is Martin going to claim credit for the successful Norway - I mean Normandy - landings conducted under Mackenzie King?
The usual dishonesty
He must have been reading from the wrong set of briefing notes. Being a Liberal requires that you have one set of notes for an election campaign where you condemn western conservatives and their ideas as dangerous unCanadian ideologues that threaten our way of life, everything we as Canadians hold dear. God forbid if they ever got into power we’d have deficits eliminated, the free trade agreement would be expanded to NAFTA, the GST would be kept in place, income taxes would be cut, and crown corporations like PetroCan, Air Canada and CN would be privatized in a Thatcherite hatchet-job laying waste to the Trudeaupian state. And then after the election with breathtaking systematic dishonesty you implement those things as a policy works its way from something only a redneck Albertan troglodyte could consider to crowning Liberal achievement.
So on Tuesday Pierre Pettigrew says:
If some provinces want to experiment with the private delivery option, my view is that as long as they respect the single-payer, public payer, we should be examining these efforts.Oops!, that’s the briefing note for the meeting with Ralph Klein after the election. Now that we’re in the run up to the election we’ll be condemning anyone who says anything remotely like, uh, what I said yesterday and will be doing after the election. The election talking points naturally require any such nonsense to be met with hysterical demagoguery.
The systematic dishonesty of this crew is breathtaking. They toss around leftist rhetoric in the election campaigns as bonbons to placate the activists and toss ‘em away cavalierly afterwards. Ratify Kyoto but not implement its terms. Against free trade while expanding it. Against private delivery of health care while encouraging it. Ho-hum, just another day at the office for a Liberal. What’s truly amazing is that their followers continue to believe anything they say.
Update: And let's not forget what he said on April 23 when asked about the flourishing private MRI clinics in Quebec:
My view is that the existing enforcement mechanisms just don't work really. There's been incoherence in our enforcement of the Canada Health Act. Incoherence is a polite word. It's arbitrary.It should be noted that you can jump to the front of the line to get an MRI in Quebec if you pay cash to a private clinic. Everyone involved will happily pretend the diagnostic procedure is unnecessary to allow you to go get it.
My view is that it's time that we sit down with the provinces and develop mechanism with criteria, with principles, with a buy-in by them.
Ian MacDonald Channels Maureen Dowd
Martin can help Bush and defend Canada's sovereignty - Montreal Gazette
Notwithstanding that the article completely contradicts the headline, I thought this passage deserved a rewrite.
"Both men face elections this year. Both are in more trouble than they expected to be a year ago when Bush landed on an aircraft carrier and announced the end of military engagement in Iraq. In this cruel month of April alone, more American soldiers have been killed there than during the war itself."
Both men face elections this year. Both are in more trouble than they expected to be a year ago when Martin was quietly serving as a regular MP, the Liberal party in a peaceful transition period, and before the auditor-general revealed explosive details of Liberal corruption with the "Adscam" Scandal, with tentacles reaching into his very office during his tenure as Finance Minister.
There, that's better. And so much more Canadian content than MacDonald's version.
2:10 and counting
Just got an email bulletin from LifeSite News:
"The final Senate vote on homosexual hate crime bill C-250 will take place at 3pm today. Senate sources have told LifeSiteNews.com that the bill will pass 'very handily'. Once passed by the Senate the law will only take effect once it is signed by the Governor General.
"Pro-family groups which have been battling the bill for years are still encouraging supporters to call Senators’ offices to ask that they vote against the measure. However top on the priority list at this late hour are requests for prayer that the bill be rejected."
The Cowardly Cartoonist
Global is showing a documentary on the Jenin non-massacre this evening (check local listings). Rick McGinnis says the film contains this stunning admission from a British editorial cartoonist:
...this British cartoonist tries to explain why the members of his association voted the "Sharon eating Palestinian babies" editorial cartoon the best of the year. The interviewer asked him why no one draws the same sort of thing about Arafat.
"Because Jews don't issue fatwas," he says, sheepishly.
On the Charter
Joey deVilla posed a question in the comments to Paul's post "The tragedy of Torontonian compassion" which I'd like to raise here on the main page, 'cause I think it's worth discussing. The question was this: "What would you put in place of the Charter?"
I think there are two mutually exclusive answers to that question. (This is necessarily a brief overview, as either of these answers deserves book-length treatment.)
First, if we are to replace the Charter, it's proper replacement would be... nothing. I'm not sure that it can be shown empirically that we are "more free" or "more secure" (in the sense of being secure from the state monopoly on violence) post-Charter than we were pre-Charter; similarly, I'm not sure that Britain, a country without a written bill of rights, can properly be said to be "less free" or "less secure". I would also be willing to make the argument that any gains in individual rights (e.g., in the context of freedom from unreasonable search and seizure) have been offset by losses in collective security, as the Charter has introduced a situation where individual rights of criminals (note, not "accused", but convicted criminals) almost inevitably trump the right of the state to impose sanction on them and ensure public safety.
But the tragedy of the Charter is not properly measured by looking at crime statistics. Instead, we need to look at the fundamental shift it wrought in our legal and constitutional framework, and the effective disenfranchisement of the citizenry. The Charter is an attempt (well, more than an attempt, it's been successful) to inject a modification of a republican institution into a Westminster parliamentary democracy. It doesn't work. The premise of republican governments is a system of checks and balances (most properly embodied in the US form of government), whereas Westminster parliaments rely on the notion of "responsible government". In both cases, the judiciary is meant to act as a bulwark against potential excesses of the executive and legislative branches. But in both cases, it is recognized that the sovereignty of the citizenry is paramount. The Charter attempts to eviscerate that, and it even does it badly.
Giving the judiciary the power to overturn acts of parliament is not a bad thing in and of itself. But it needs to be done in such a way that a new unaccountable caste is not created; in the republican form of government, this was accomplished by giving the legislature oversight power on the executive's ability to appoint Supreme Court justices. The Westminster style of government recognized the supremacy of Parliament was inherent in the system, but centuries of common law and custom had caused Parliament to (grudgingly) respect the power of the courts to overturn laws which reached too far. In both cases, though, ultimate power rested with the people, as it should.
The Charter did two things: one, it sought to give courts the power to overturn parliament's laws, but without making any concomitant changes in the way the judiciary is elected; two, it includes a built in "escape clause" which allows parliament to override the Charter. So it's a document premised on a lie. It purports to guarantee you rights (subject to reasonable limitations), but even that can be overriden by a simple majority vote (and it has been: in the 1980s the federalist [sic] government of Robert Bourassa stripped freedom of speech, that most fundamental democratic right, from English speakers in the province of Quebec). So two massive (and conflicting) problems infect the document: it has transferred power to the judiciary with absolutely no oversight on the exercise of that power; and it allows the rights it purports to guarantee to be snatched away.
This is a major cultural and political shift. We are beginning to see glimmers of the first problems: the opening of the Canadian political system to policy-by-litigation, whereby special interest groups (be they of the left or right) who are otherwise unable to obtain electoral (and hence legislative) support for their pet causes can try to impose change through the courts (which, again, I stress, are unaccountable to anyone). We witnessed this very recently with the attempts to secure a "right to welfare", which was shot down by a narrow marjority of the court. We have also seen courts in BC decide, apropos of nothing, that the government wasn't spending enough on special education programs for autistic children and order spending increases; a decision like this would have been, literally, revolutionary pre-Charter. Today, most people are likely not to have heard of it.
So, on this argument, scrap it. We're no more free than we used to be, and we've been made the subjects of an unaccountable, unelected elite. Unacceptable in a democratic society. (To be clear, the provenance of this argument is not limited to those of us on the right-hand side of the aisle; Michael Mandel, a rather unwavering leftist, has published more than a few pieces on this point, including this book.)
Second, the Charter doesn't really need to be dumped. It has it's good points. Instead of relying on vague common law assurances of rights, we can now point to a binding document which enshrines them. But two things should be done if we are to keep it: one, invest property rights in there; two, give Parliament binding oversight on appointments to the Supreme Court. Doctrinally, the latter is the only way to reconcile the existence of the Charter with centuries of parliamentary democracy. And it's not like it would matter all that much: the governing party would still have a majority on the committee, so if the Prime Minister really wanted to get a candidate through, he or she could, even in the face of vociferous opposition from the, uh, Opposition. But issues of governance are properly in the bailiwick of the people; the courts have been granted governance power by the Charter, so now they need to be subject, in a meaningful way, to that oversight.
2 from Quebec
Oh man. Leave already.
Two stories from today's unlinkable National Post:
"As of June 1, a new law dealing with psychological harassment goes into effect in Quebec. (...) The law governs repeated insults, vulgar remarks or gestures that are offensive and demean another person's integrity or undermine his or her self-esteem."
"Comedy sketches mocking the powerful are an annual tradition on year-end television in Quebec, but one of the province's leading business titans, Pierre Karl Peladeau, has served notice that he is not amused.
"In a move that has alarmed many in the Quebec artistic community, the TVA network has fired a popular comic, Louis Morissette, who had written a devastating satire of Mr. Peladeau and his partner, Julie Snyder. Mr. Peladeau is the CEO of Quebecor Inc., which indirectly controls TVA."
Emerging Sanity in Europe?
It may be too early to say, but perhaps the green wacko movement has started to peak in Europe. Just look at this speech in the European Parliament(!) by a Labour Party(!) MEP on the approval of a type of GM corn:
Where GM crops can benefit the environment or the consumer they should be permitted, provided, always, that they meet our tough tests.Amen, brother. I would love to hear a Canadian politician speak as plainly as that. Instead we have idiots like David Anderson funding these anti-scientific groups, when not engaging in similar nonsense themselves in federal bureaucracies and the CBC.
The anti-GM campaigners say consumers do not want GM products. If that is so then the market should decide. [..]
Too many anti-GM campaigners indulge in tactics which should have gone out of fashion at the end of 17th century witch hunts. They merge new age mysticism with anti-scientific mumbo jumbo and hope that if they scream loud enough and long enough it will drown out rational argument.
The answer to them is to improve Britain's dismal record of scientific education, not to cave into their pseudo-logic. That way more people will be able to make their own well-informed judgements on the science without having the wits frightened out of them by a rag bag alliance of the reactionary and the science-phobic.
No sleep till...November
I’m not entirely sure what to make of the story, but I did find myself suddenly realizing that 'oh yeah, the search isn’t over yet.' Even though it's sort of become conventional wisdom that there "were no WMDs." All those “lies” that Bush, Powell, etc. supposedly told could still be vindicated. With pretty well everything now riding on the WMD issue and the fact that so far they haven't found Osama, Democrats must awaken every day filled with a most terrible fear.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Why do we continue to suffer politics?
Watching Pennsylvania's RINO Senator Arlen Spectre once again win the Republican Senate nomination, National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru is reminded of a quote from Kate O'Beirne: "You know the terrible thing about politics? You never lose badly enough to convince you to just give up." Perhaps Canadian conservatives will feel the sting of losing badly enough if the Martin Liberals win a majority this time 'round, even after Adscam. Latest Leger Marketing poll has Liberals leading Conservatives 29%-20% but if the undecideds are "allocated," Liberals lead 38%-26%.
It's good eatin' ?!?
Kelly Jane Torrance blogs on a growing trend in U.S. cuisine--the tendency to eat things like hog jowls and such, as exemplified by the book The Whole Beast.
I'm an omnivore, but I am not completely adventurous when it comes to food. When my farm raised stepdad brought home, and served, beef tongue and beef hearts, I was reduced to saying "What *is* this?" Tasted okay, though.
Let's Start a Meme
I noticed that the great tax sucking monster known as the CBC has some bogus "greatest Canadian ever" thing going on.
Basically good Canadians get to vote for the greatest Canadian ever and then they will do a TV show about that person.
At least that is my understanding. I only gave the site a quick glance and I always have the Mute button on whenever the stupid commercial is airing on TV.
So I think we should start a campaign where we flood the site with votes for our own choice. This is something that we all could do on our blogs as well. Especially those with readership (Kathy, Damian, Colby etc)
People magazine did an online version of this a few years ago and Howard Stern's listeners made Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf the winner (or something)
Either way this could be fun.
We could either nominate a great Canadian right winger (although that might be an oxymoron).
Or we could nominate someone completely bogus like .... I dunno .... Patsy Gallant.
Remember that time she won all those Junos and she jumped up on the stage without using the steps and her dress came right up around her hips?
That was cool.
I would give serious consideration to Stompin Tom Connors however that isn't subversive enough. I don't think it would piss off the CBC.
Preston Manning would.
As would Brian Mulroney (hey that one's got promise)
Don Cherry (a little obvious but would again piss the politically correct crowd off to no end)
Mike Harris (yeah!)
Ralph Klein (double yeah!!)
Pam Anderson (cause well ... you know)
So how about it shotgunners. Anyone with me?
I have this theory that none of is read the blog we just post and ignore the other stuff. Let's see if my theory is correct.
If you want to check out the CBC site go here
Life is tough in Gaza
Can't even make a living as a thief these days:
A Hamas suicide bomber blew up two armed Palestinians who tried to rob him at gun point in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas claimed the “stickup men” worked for Israeli intelligence, while Palestinian security forces said the two were ordinary thieves.
Rather than give up his explosives, the bomber detonated them, killing himself and the two robbers near the border fence between Gaza and Israel.
They must hate it when that happens. Thieves can't make a living and suicide bombers can't even reach their targets. And we think our country has problems.
A new whinefest
Tired of federal-provincial gatherings where premiers do nothing but whine for more money? A little fatigued at all the environmentalists, feminists and other agitprop groups setting up a morehandouts.com organization whose principal activity appears to be to lobby for more government boodle? Well, now we have a new Roundtable whinefest:
A key element of the policy is to ensure domestic partners will be engaged in improving our national security system, through:[...]
3. The Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security, which will better engage Canada's ethno-cultural and religious communities around ongoing security-related issues.
Funny, I was just thinking that what we really needed in this country was a Cross-Cultural Roundtable of ethno-cultural and religious communities. I have no doubt this will attract an interesting assortment of characters who will come with the attitude "ask not what you can do for your country, ask instead if there is any possible grievance that has not yet been apologized for, compensation paid, or any politically incorrect critic in need of silencing".
Does anyone actually have confidence in the Liberals running a Cross-Cultural Roundtable of ethno-cultural and religious communities to any conceivable constructive purpose?
Col Sanders Lied, People Died
And while the local and national news affiliates were giving us items on the new Kentucky
Fried Chicken menu, another investigation into the world's best known case of Death By Rich Playboy and the disappearance of world champion mule deer antlers....
SUDAN ORDERS SYRIAN WMD OUT OF COUNTRY
LONDON [MENL] -- Sudan has ordered the removal of Syrian missiles and weapons of mass destruction out of the African country. Arab diplomatic and Sudanese government sources said the regime of Sudanese President Omar Bashir has ordered that Syria remove its Scud C and Scud D medium-range ballistic missiles as well as components for chemical weapons stored in warehouses in Khartoum. The sources said the Sudanese demand was issued after the Defense Ministry and Interior Ministry confirmed a report published earlier this month that Syria has been secretly flying Scud-class missiles and WMD components to Khartoum. The sources said the Bashir regime has been alarmed over the prospect that the United States would discover the Syrian arsenal and conclude that Damascus and Khartoum were cooperating in the area of missiles and WMD. They said this would have delayed or dashed U.S. plans to lift sanctions from Sudan. A U.S. official confirmed the Syrian missile shipments to Sudan, saying they were meant for use against rebels in the south. But the official said the U.S. intelligence community has not determined that Syria sent WMD systems to Khartoum.
hat tip Instapundit
Rebuilding the Library
From: Larry MooreAs James points out, this is the first charitable fund set up to help repair the damage, physical and spiritual, done by the coward(s) who torched the library. I'm sure they won't object to donations from the general public.
Sent: Friday, April 23, 2004 12:33 PM
To: OPLA members
Subject: Donate to the OLA Fund for the United Talmud Torah School
As most of you will be aware from the Headline Story on the OLA Web site for April 19, the OLA has set up a Special Fund in support of the United Talmud Torah elementary school and its library. The OLA's position has issued a Statement about the bombing that may also be found in the Headline Story for April 8. The OLA Board of Directors launched this fund with a $1,000 donation.
Members are invited to donate towards the Fund by cheque or credit card. A tax donation receipt will be issued by OLA. To donate by MasterCard or VISA, phone 1-866-873-9867 toll free or FAX card number and expiry date information 1-800-387-1181 toll free. Send cheques, made payable to OLA/United Talmud Torah School Fund, to: Ontario Library Association, 100 Lombard St., Suite 303, Toronto M5C 1M3.
In discussions with the school, books may be sent instead of contributions. However, the school will only accept new books. It is the feeling of OLA that the school should be redeveloping its collection according to the needs of the curriculum of the school and of the reading and other needs of the students identified by the librarian and the school. Contributions allow that work to be done in a professional way.
Explosions in Damascus
Just breaking now, this from DEBKAfile:
Reports of up to 15 explosions, heavy shooting in western district of Syrian capital Damascus, which Syrian security forces have cordoned off. Damascus hospitals placed on the ready.
DEBKAfile’s sources add: Initial accounts indicate British ambassador’s residence, Canadian and Saudi embassies in W. Damascus targeted in series of terrorist attacks by car bombs and gun squads recalling al Qaeda’s mixed bombing-shooting attacks in Saudi capital.
Update: AP via Globe and Mail
Update 3 pm MST: Longer AP report on Fox: "One witness said four gunmen came out of a white van on the main Mazza Boulevard in front of the Canadian Embassy and started shooting indiscriminately."
Update 5 pm MST: CP: Terror attack in Syria "...attacked a UN building in a diplomatic quarter of the Syrian capital near the Canadian Embassy Tuesday, a Syrian official said...Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said initial reports indicated there were no Canadian victims nor was there any damage at the Canadian Embassy."
Whew! Done now.
A new Macleans poll comparing Canadian and American atitudes finds that while most Americans think of Canadians as "funny" and "tolerant", most Canadians think of Americans as "arrogant" and "patriotic" (which Macleans duly notes is not necessarily thought of as a compliment up here in the land of free medicare for Al-Qaeda sympathizers).
Looking out for number one...and that's him
I don’t relish weighing in on this. Joe Clark business. For one thing I’m a little late coming to the party. More importantly, the man is clearly making a final attempt at some historical relevance beyond the long list of foibles he has racked up. I hate to abet that.
Still, one thing I haven’t seen articulated quite clearly enough (though with all the ink that’s been spilled , I surely missed it somewhere) is that Clark ultimately has no choice but to attack Harper at every turn. This is more than sour grapes. And yes, Damian is right that the pro-Martin stance is ultimately the predictable culmination of a lifetime of Red Toryism. But given that the man essentially held the PC party captive for the last half-decade, refusing to countenance any merger with the Alliance party, it is in his best interest to torpedo the new force as best he can. He has hung his legacy on the belief that the Tory party would one day return and there is much at stake for him here. It’s the same reason Rick Borotsik, also an opponent, is now coming to Clark’s defence . After all, the worst case scenario for Clark would be for Harper’s new party to win power or even force the Liberals into minority status, because it would prove to the world that Clark’s megalomania was really the ultimate cause for the last two terms of Liberal rule, and all the hardship that has come of it. Had he been more rational and reasonable, the united front might have been realized earlier and the government of this country might have been something else altogether. The best case scenario is for the Tories to fail so that Clark can say “I told you so,” and his historical record will have one less black mark upon it. As if it would make a difference at this point.
You go, girl
Odd use of the word "ambitions" by Joe Clark's daughter in this Sun story about her father's innards: Dad has 'guts': Catherine. But then, perhaps she's just not that much of go-getter like ol' Joe.
"I'd never say never to a political career, but I certainly don't have any political aspirations now. For now, my ambitions are limited to deciding which candidate in my riding to support."
That is a fairly modest ambition. But I have every confidence that she will rise to the occasion, mark the ballot, and achieve her goal!
Let's get this straight. Americans troops in Arabia -- and certainly Saudi Arabia -- are a blasphemy against Islam. American troops are not supposed to war against terrorists during Ramadan. And how dare they step into the "Holy City" of Najaf.
Muslim terrorists, on the other hand, should feel free to use mosque minnarets as sniper posts.
Where -- other than Irshad Manji -- are moderate Muslims denouncing this fusion of Islam and violence?
Johns are victims, too
I chose the above-title not because it relates to any reality... yet. But it seems to me that that Canadian society will have to go that far--cast the customers of prostitutes as victims--in order to legalize prostitution, as a new study out of Quebec suggests. This would logically follow the trend in our culture of reclassifying perpetrators of crimes as victims of something or other.
Actually, the authors of the report do not want to "legalize" prostitution; they want to "decriminalize" it, a refined distinction we in Western society like to make to reflect our contemporary emotional moral ambivalence to things formerly considered harmful to individuals and society, as if we are not quite sure what we are "thinking" of doing is right, but we "feel" we must do something.
In this country prostitution is not illegal, but solicitation is, the "it-takes-two-to-tango" idea. It's not the selling of sex which is illegal, but making the deal is and therefore both the prostitute and the john are equally guilty.
After a brief gust of prostitute empowerment in the '70s--see The Happy Hooker, 1971, and the prostitute rights organization COYOTE, founded in 1973 (which still exists)--that turned prostitutes into self-determining "sex trade workers," the feminist movement quickly recast them as victims, of sex abuse, drug abuse, physical abuse, etc.
It seems to me that the only way Canadian society will actually legalize the world's oldest profession is to somehow recast the johns as victims, too. That way nobody is guilty of anything. What mental and moral steps we will go through to accomplish this, I'm not exactly sure. My guess is we will blame increased sexuality in movies, on television, and the "consumer culture." Just a guess based on my observation that liberal commentators like Harper's Lewis Lapham demonstrated a great capacity in the '90s to blame just about everything on "mass media" and "consumerism" (TV and shopping).
Actually, the split personality of prostitution over the last generation--sex trade workers/victims--accurately reflected a bifurcation of the oldest profession in Canada. Some time in the late '70s/early '80s, the good-looking hookers disappeared from the streets and went indoors to massage parlors and escort services, leaving the ugly ones, the drug addicts, on the street. Municipal governments seemed to approve of the change since they now could tax prostitution as a business and it had an out-of-sight-out-of-mind effect on the voters.
That still left the much smaller rough trade on the street, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood as various parts of various cities gentrified and citizens' groups drove hookers from the bosom of one area into the ungrateful arms of another. Police first answered with sting operations. A taxi driver once told me that he (who considered himself somewhat expert in this area) could spot an undercover police officer posing as a prostitute with one glance; "No bruises," he said with a dismissive wave of his hand.
Then came "Shame the Johns" campaigns where either police or citizens would take down the license numbers of cars cruising known prostitution areas and with that information sent letters to the homes of the vehicle owners, letting them know they had been spotted. These ran parallel to "John Schools" where convicted customers would be educated perils and personal and social repercussions of their actions. I remember covering some of these when I worked as a staff writer for the Alberta Report and recall one police spokesman who, every time I would interview him on the subject (several times) would always repeat with the same stressed-out angst,” We’re nailing a lot of guys with child safety seats in the back! Can you believe it? Dads with a wife and kids at home! Disgusting..." Finally, after I heard enough of this, I asked him if he knew where the old term "ragtime" came from. Aside, I think the stress of the job finally got to this guy as I read sometime later in a newspaper he had decided to become a trucker driver. The story implied he was attracted by something of the "romance of the road." I wonder what he thought about the hookers at his first truck stop.
The Quebec report recommends decriminalization of street prostitution in order to:
"...help lift the social stigma of the trade and encourage prostitutes to work with municipalities, citizen groups, police and community organizations to eliminate many of the irritants associated with the sex trade, especially unwanted solicitation near residential areas."
I'm not sure decriminalization would actually accomplish this. I'm more apt to think that it will instead give street hookers a greater sense of power and they will simply turn around on the corner to face upset home owners, give them the finger, and scream "&$^% off! I've got rights!"
Anyway, I have no answer to problem. The solutions proposed in the Quebec report do appear to be somewhat naive in that they grade towards the "hooker with the heart of gold" school of thought.
On the same topic, I recommend Reflections on the oldest profession by Theodore Dalrymple, the prison doctor turned author, in The New Criterion. A couple of excerpts:
"I learned from this experience not to jump too hastily to conclusions, even about inveterate wrongdoers. But I also learned what my subsequent experience, which includes an acquaintance with several hundred burglars at least, has confirmed, namely not to place too great a reliance on a haphazard knowledge of imaginative literature for an accurate picture of the world..."
"Since then, I have treated a lot of prostitutes as patients. One claimed to be a world-class dominatrix, who jetted round the world to whip the prominent men of many countries on several continents, but for the most part, they have been creatures who look as if they have emerged from the canvases of Otto Dix, razzled by drugs and disease, with crumbling bones and wrinkled skin, beaten into submission by pimps festooned with gold chains and mouths full of redundant golden dentistry. A few have been of middle-class origin, attracted to the gutter by its antinomian glamour, but they have ended up in no better state than the rest."
Russell Crowe: class act
Actor Russell Crowe was among dozens of callers around the world offering moral support to a Jewish school that was firebombed this month.
The star of such hit films as Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind phoned the principal and general director of United Talmud Torahs' elementary school in St. Laurent, UTT spokesperson Shelley Paris confirmed.
"He was very upset at what had happened," Paris said.
Crowe also pledged money to help rebuild the school's library, which was destroyed in the fire, The Gazette has learned.
Segregation is Diversity
[cross-posted at Daimnation!]
A new, publicly-funded London seniors' complex is being reserved for Muslims only:
Race watchdogs have been called in to investigate a state-of-the-art London housing block that is being reserved for Asians only.
The development, which will provide sheltered housing for 40 Muslim "elders" when it opens in the East End this summer, has triggered controversy because white pensioners will be excluded.
The Commission for Racial Equality has now been asked to check whether the Sonali Gardens project breaks the Race Relations Act.
The 40 new homes, together with a day centre, have been built in a joint project by Tower Hamlets council and Circle 33 housing association on the site of an old people's home that catered for all communities.
Three other new sheltered housing blocks in the borough are not earmarked just for Asians.
Critics point out that its specialist services, such as halal meals, Bengali-speaking carers and Islamic praying facilities, could be offered within a mixedrace development. Lib-Dem councillor Janet Ludlow said: "The most important thing is to make sure we are acting legally."
In an absolutely mind-boggling example of doublespeak, a council spokesman says such segregation is necessary because the new developments are being built in such a diverse, multicultural area:
Sirajul Islam, lead councillor for social services at Tower Hamlets, said: "We certainly do not advocate segregation in Tower Hamlets.
"But the 'one size fits all' approach to public services is no longer acceptable in 21st century Britain.
"Tower Hamlets is fortunate to have a diverse mix of communities and the council strives to ensure that its services are responsive to the differing and changing needs of its residents."
What "differing and changing needs", Sirajul? Making sure a white person doesn't live next door? Making sure a Jew doesn't live next door? Help me out here.
The Fighting Fusileers' drive to raise money for an independent television station in Baghdad continues through Thursday. Bloggers are running a number of auctions as part of the fun and one should be of particular interest to Canadians. John at Castle Argghhh!!! is making a painful parting with a cherished part of his considerable arms collection: a genuine Ross bayonet. John makes an introduction to a fascinating time in Canadian military history by way of introducing the Ross rifle.
The tragedy of Torontonian compassion
The National Post reports that Seaton House, a homeless shelter for men, provides free cigarettes and alcohol to the men they serve, sometimes as a bribe so that they may avail themselves of Seaton House's services. Former MP and mayoral candidate John Nunziata raised this issue last year during the campaign was criticized as an uncaring bigot. But feeding addictions can hardly be the way to help the homeless especially when Seaton Hall does not require the men they serve to attend addiction programs. It is bad enough to give a man a fish because it creates a dependency but giving a man a fish, a brew and a butt is indefensible and the kind of idea only a big-city city council could endorse.
Which, of course, it did. Toronto taxpayers, needless to say, fund the program. City council, the Post reported, voted 30-8 in favour of keeping the free wine program (which despite Rob Ford's protests that the men will get hammered having 12 drinks a day on an empty stomach, is actually supposed to limit their intake) and voted 29-9 for the free cigarettes (with anti-smoking zealots on council voting to keep the free butts). But when it came time to vote on requiring the commissioner of community and neighbourhood services to report to council on the provision of "alternatives to the distribution of cigarettes and alcohol at Seaton House" it barely passed (20-19). To put this plainly: Toronto city hall does not require responsibility to be taken by the homeless, those who provide services for them or city councillors. And while the city spends just $164,000 on the booze and butts program for this one shelter, this episode should be remembered by Queen's Park and Ottawa the next time Mayor David Miller goes hat in hand looking for mo' money.
Toronto Star endorses Joe Clark's endorsement of Paul Martin. Stephen Harper, they say without saying it, is unCanadian, i.e. immoderate.