The Shotgun Blog
Monday, January 31, 2005
More on same sex marriage
Sorry, I apologize for raising this subject again. I have been musing about what those of us opposed to legalizing same sex marriage could do to discourage those advancing that aim. If you make an objective unattractive fewer people will support it. Can I take it as a given that those against same sex marriage, due to religious reasons, will not be forced to sanctify these unions? Surely marriages conducted by religious authorities, or those accepted as legitimate by them, could be labelled differently than those conducted only under the authority of the state. I suggest labelling these marriages holy matrimony, or if you like, holy marriage. State sanctioned marriages, by that I mean primarily same sex marriages, to emphasize the difference, would be known by all religious spokes persons and all of us opposed to them, as unholy marriages.Widespread use of these terms should discourage those who wish to despoil the use of the word marriage.
"All I Had Was A Little Soup"
The leading contender for the 2008 Democratic nomination collapsed today just before she was to give an address on health care.
That'll teach her to accept dinner invitations from Massachusetts senators.
Heritage Blog Panel
I'm So Ronrey... So Ronery And Sadry Arone...
North Korean agents in Beijing and Ulan Bator are frantically selling assets to raise cash - an important sign, says one activist, because "the secret police can always smell the crisis coming before anybody else".
Learning the lingo
James Bowman in the American Spectator explains a modern mindset and terminology in Liberal Marx-speak:
[Senator Ted] Kennedy is actually fairly typical of the more committed sort of academic "liberal" in appearing still to swear by at least one of the essential props of Marxist thinking, namely the historical inevitability of "progressive" measures. Another, even more common assumption is of the reducibility of all culture to an account of power relationships. Those whose discussions of history or literature depend on terms like "racist," "sexist," "imperialist" and "homophobic" nearly always assume that the world is divided into exploiters and exploited, just as Marx did...
Of course we want to be bombed
I was listening to Roy Green on CHML this morning who was reviewing the Iraqi election. He interviewed a minister who went over there as a human shield who now supports the elections. The minister related how they set up a prayer service to try to stop the US "invasion". An Iraqi said to him, "you do know that we hope you fail". "You don't want to be bombed do you?", "Well of course we want to be bombed, how else will we be freed from Saddam.". This caused the minister to change his mind on the whole human-shield movement.
(Note: quoted from memory)
The CBC's conflicts of interest
It's vividly demonstrated by Stephen Taylor in a pie chart. Taylor notes that 82% of the political contributions made by CBC board of directors went to the Liberals (15% went to the Bloc and 3% to the Conservatives). And this matters because, as Taylor reminds us, "these powerful positions are appointed by the government and that state media should of course be unbiased."
(Crossposted at Sobering Thoughts)
Not sure this fits in with the posting guidelines but I wanted to let y'all know that my blog has a new home.
The Meatriarchy now has it's very own domain.
Make sure you come and visit!!
From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the articles are hotlinked.
Chretien lawyer accusing sponsorship judge of bias was once under fire for 'steamrolling' Tory minister
The Ottawa Citizen’s Cristin Schmitz reports:
“Mr. Scott, a card-carrying Liberal, was chief counsel to the [Parker] commission of inquiry into allegations of conflict of interest against Mr. [Sinclair] Stevens:
“In a 1986 Toronto Star interview, Mr. Scott scoffed at the idea that he couldn't give the Tory Stevens a fair shake."
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Mideast peace is a fallacy
Haaretz reports that Hezbollah and Hamas have signed an agreement to continue their fight against Israel: "[An] agreement was reached that the resistance and steadfastness option is the only option in confronting the current pressure." Whatever positive signs there are with the formal Palestinian leadership (and I am dubious of these developments), as long as there are terrorist groups bent on Israel's elimination, there is no such thing as peace. Negotiating with the ones who are not intent on killing you ignores the real problem. Irving Kristol once said that the conflict in the Middle East might be a condition that must be endured rather than a problem to be solved. That realism seems much wiser than the rose-coloured punditry of most western journalists and the politics of the Sharon government.
The generation that fought and won the Second World War has been called the Greatest Generation. That's likely still accurate, since it was such a total commitment by that generation -- by every family, represented not only in combat but with war-oriented work at home.
The liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq -- and the likely liberation of Syria and Iran, soon -- did not take the breadth of effort that the Second World War did; its costs are a sliver, proportionately, as is its manpower. But the depth of the commitment, and the character of those who did the work these past years is surely equal to that of those who fought and won sixty year ago.
That's what I thought of when I watched this slide show.
Overheard At The GOP Retreat
"In another presentation, Senator John Thune of South Dakota introduced senators to the meaning of "blogging," explaining the basics of self-published online political commentary and arguing that it can affect public opinion."
Tom Daschle could not be reached for comment.
Who cannot be moved?
Who cannot be moved by this?
The terrorist/liberal alliance
Jim Robbins quotes from the Saudi Arab News in The Corner to illustrate the good news about the Iraq election: the terrorists hate it. The Saudi Arab News editorial said: "the very fact that the election is being held, despite all predictions, is a defeat for the terrorists and a much needed victory for moderation." It is noteworthy that liberal politicians and the media in the West and Middle Eastern terrorists and dictators all want the democratic project in Iraq to fail. The confluence of opposition to this experiment in bringing democracy to the Cradle of Civilization proves that hatred of Western values in general and President George W. Bush in particular makes strange bedfellows.
(Crossposted at Sobering Thoughts)
Since I'm on to Coyne's column anyway, I might as well dispense with the rest of it:
Coyne sees irony in conservatives arguing, "the notwithstanding clause is part of the Charter....was critical to its eventual passage... It is not too much to say there would be no Charter without it. How, then, can it be illegitimate to use it? "
Why, you might ask, does he see irony?:
"The only reason the provinces were in a position to bargain for the clause's inclusion was because of the Supreme Court decision preventing Ottawa from patriating the constitution unilaterally "--a decision Coyne describes as "perhaps the most egregious bit of judicial activism in the court's history."
The generous interpretation of Coyne's argument is that he has forgotten his Canadian history.
First, it was Pierre Trudeau who referred his unilateral constitutional initiative to the Supreme Court.
Second, the Court essentially decided not to decide. It gave something to both sides by ruling that the initiative was legal, but unconstitutional in the conventional sense.
Third, for that reason, Trudeau asserted that he had all legal authority necessary to proceed to London. However, feeling the heat politically and encouraged by signs of compromise coming from Saskatchewan and BC, Trudeau agreed to return to the table.
Fourth, the tide turned at the ensuing constitutional conference in November when Bill Davis and Richard Hatfield made it clear to Trudeau that they'd withdraw their support--the only provincial support he had--if he refused to accept a compromise package that would include the notwithstanding clause.
Trudeau agreed, negotiations ensued and we ended up with a constitution forged through political compromise--which is how most countries get their constitutions.
Yes, says Coyne, but "The Constitution of the United States at one time contained a clause stipulating that the slave populations of the southern states should be assessed, for purposes of representation, at a discount: Each slave was counted as three-fifths of a person....It was a critical compromise; the whole thing might never have passed without it. Yet would anyone maintain it should still be used on that account?"
As Palmerson once said, half the world's problems are caused by inappropriate metaphors. Coyne's argument is the perfect illustration.
Is it not to dishonour our history to assert that giants like Allan Blakeney and Peter Lougheed would have been associated with, and argued strongly for, anything even distantly analogous to racism and slavery?
Furthermore, if the notwithstanding clause were in any way analogous to Coyne's example, how would he explain why his political hero, Pierre Trudeau, asked to have it for Parliament, too, when the Premiers insisted on having the power for their legislatures?
More important, if the clause is illegitimate and always has been, how would Coyne explain this undertaking given by Mr Trudeau to Emmett Cardinal Carter in a secret letter dated December 21, 1981:
"Should a court decide at some future date that sections 7 (the right of women to security of the person) or 15 (equality rights) establish a right to abortion on demand, Parliament will continue to legislate on the matter by overriding the court's decision and the specific charter right."
If I had to guess, Coyne's position comes down to a preference for judges, courts and the law, and a corresponding distate for politicians, parliament and politics--that is, for appointed people over people elected by the people. Why that is would be speculation on my part.
The framers of Canada's constitution sought a creative balance different from the American system--a balance Coyne rejects, but a balance that is entirely legitimate and true to our history.
"I Cannot Describe What I Am Seeing"
Even in Falluja, the Sunni city west of Baghdad that was a militant stronghold until a U.S. assault in November, a steady stream of people turned out, confounding expectations. Lines of veiled women clutching their papers waited to vote.
"We want to be like other Iraqis, we don't want to always be in opposition," said Ahmed Jassim, smiling after he voted.
In Baquba, a rebellious city northeast of Baghdad, spirited crowds clapped and cheered at one voting station. In Mosul, scene of some of the worst insurgent attacks in recent months,
U.S. and local officials said turnout was surprisingly high.
One of the first to vote was President Ghazi al-Yawar, a Sunni Muslim Arab with a large tribal following, who cast his ballot inside Baghdad's fortress-like Green Zone.
"Thanks be to God," he told reporters, emerging from the booth with his right index finger stained with bright blue ink to show he had voted. "I hope everyone will go out and vote."
Baghdad's mayor was overcome with emotion by the turnout of voters at City Hall, where he said thousands were celebrating. "I cannot describe what I am seeing. It is incredible. This is a vote for the future, for the children, for the rule of law, for humanity, for love," Alaa al-Tamimi told Reuters.
Husayn writes at his newly renamed blog, Democracy In Iraq (Is Here!) ;
What a day it has been. I am very tired, but I am at peace, something I havn't felt in this regard before. I am happy to report that I found very few people during my post-voting trip through Baghdad who had not voted. I even got a few to "convert" and go out and vote. When confronted with the fact that staying away from voting was futile, some who had opposed the election relented, and went and made their mark.
Even now, I have no idea who is going to win, but it really isn't important. It is enough for me to know that our new government won't be the result of a sham election, that it will be the will of the people. We will not know who won for a few days, maybe weeks, but this is just a minor headache, and should not be taken by anyone to attack the election or it's validity. We don't have the machinery or technology available in the United States or other countries where you can find the result of elections overnight. We will one day though, and today is the first step on that path.
Let me end today's posts with a picture I found of a woman who was so overcome with emotion at voting that she cried. I believe this picture symbolizes every Iraqi's feelings today.
Jarvis has a fabulous roundup of quotes and links from bloggers in Iraq. Instapundit has lots, too.
Meanwhile, the networks are scrambling through the archives for material to fill the timeslots reserved for election bloodbath coverage. Jonah Goldberg, " I just walked over to my computer after seeing that the Today Show was offering viewers a segment on new shaving technologies for men."
Coyne on Same-Sex Marriage
In last Saturday's National Post, Andrew Coyne dismissed the polygamy slippery-slope argument. Bottom line?:
"if there were reasonable grounds to ban polygamy, and the courts found otherwise -- and if enough people felt strongly enough about it, the ruling would be overturned: either by invoking the notwithstanding clause, or (preferably) by amending the constitution. And if we can't think of a good reason not to legalize polygamy, then what would be the problem if it was?"
This week, Coyne writes about the notwithstanding clause:
"If the notwithstanding clause is increasingly seen as illegitimate by the political class, maybe it's because it never was particularly legitimate in the eyes of the public. And if the public doesn't like it, maybe that's because they see it for what it is: a constitutional hypocrisy, a perpetual invitation to mischief, a dagger pointed at the Charter's heart."
Since the amending formula is to all intents and purposes unusable for the forseeable future, Coyne's de-legitimization of an option that only one week earlier he said was second best comes perilously close to the bad-faith argument Paul Martin is making these days.
Mr. Martin dismisses the slippery-slope argument by noting that polygamy is a crime. True. But the courts have the power to strike down that section of the Criminal Code as a violation of the equality rights of bi-sexual Canadians, for example.
By declaring that he'd never invoke the notwithstanding clause to "take away any Charter rights," Mr Martin is therefore making assurances to Canadians in bad faith.
If the notwithstanding clause would be unavailable to the majority of Canadians in this situation, then we should look much more carefully at the parallels between same-sex marriage and voluntary, secular polygamy/polyandry.
From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the news is hotlinked.
Kofi Annan’s son admits oil dealing
Internet pharmacy crackdown coming
ALL THE POOP THAT’S FIT TO POST :
Canadian media are snoozing today, no doubt preparing for the return of MPs after their two- seven-week Christmas vacation. Stay tuned for plenty of fury and sound on same-sex and scandal.
Tomorrow’s challenge to the impartiality of Judge Gomery and commission counsel Bernard Roy will also test the resources of the media, especially if they report both what happened and didn’t.
I’m eager to hear why Chrétien’s lawyer, David Scott, has not challenged the impartiality of the second counsel, Neil Finkelstein--in addition to Bernard Roy's background. (I've written about both of them here.)
Both, by the way, are very nice guys and good lawyers to boot. However, while everyone knows about Roy's background, few Canadians know that Finkelstein just happened to work for Scott’s brother, the Liberal Attorney-General of Ontario, and with Chrétien confidants Eddie Goldenberg and Eric Maldoff, before going on to advise Clyde Wells.
Yesterday, the young reporter who broke open the sponsorship scandal in the first place, the Globe’s Daniel Leblanc, became the first to break ranks with reporters too long-embedded in the parliamentary press gallery--albeit in a well-disguised form and in the final paragraph of his report.
I’d also like one or two of the journalists who are sleeping in today to look into the background of the Honourable Allan Lutfy, Chief Justice of the Federal Court, where Scott is threatening to haul Gomery’s jeans to protect the three Jeans.
Three guesses on who appointed Lutfy. As Paul Martin explained, in the Chrétien years, the question was "who do you know in PMO?"
By “looking into” Lutfy, by the way, I mean telling Canadians more than is in the official biography. Even the French version, which has more words, doesn’t tell the whole story.
In either official language, don’t get me started on some of the others sitting on a court that traditionally has been the privileged destination of former cabinet ministers and senior public servants. My, my, there are a lot of familiar names, even for a thinly-populated country.
You won’t find any of this stuff on the website of the hack who wrote the book on kicking ass, his major work after he wrote the letter to a DM that landed Chuck Guité in the advertising job from which he soon branched off into sponsorships.
You know the one I mean—the guy who single-handedly defeated Kim and Stock, and who’s now leading the Chrétienite charge against Gomery and Roy.
You know--the former EA to David Dingwall, who just happened to receive puffball treatment from Finkelstein and most of the media after Roy was sidelined, when he took the hot-seat to testify.
To the best of my knowledge, you did not read about his strategy in any newspaper. I guess no other reporter wants the treatment Kinsella dished out to Presse Canadienne’s Isabelle Rodrigue, a young journalist who has had the temerity to report what’s actually going on at Gomery.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Iraq Election Blogging
Don't forget to check on Iraq election progress at Friends Of Democracy - Iraqis reporting from the ground, in Iraq.
Liveblogging at Iraq Election Wire.
Jeff Jarvis has a must read roundup of quotes;
Now, and thanks to other humans, not from my area, religion and who don't even speak my language, I and all Iraqis have the real chance to make the change. Now I OWN my home and I can decide who's going to run things in it and how and I won't waste that chance. Tomorrow as I cast my vote, I'll regain my home. I'll regain my humanity and my dignity, as I stand and fulfill part of my responsibilities to this part of the large brotherhood of humanity. Tomorrow I'll say I'M IRAQI AND I'M PROUD, as being Iraqi this time bears a different meaning in my mind. It's being an active and good part of humanity. Tomorrow I and the Iraqis that are going to vote will rule, not the politicians we're going to vote for, as it's our decision and they'll work for us this time and if we don't like them we'll kick them out! Tomorrow my heart will race my hand to the box. Tomorrow I'll race even the sun to the voting centre, my Ka'aba and my Mecca. I'm so excited and so happy that I can't even feel the fear I though I would have at this time. I can't wait until tomorrow. - Ali - of Free Iraq
Jeff has been instrumental in getting many of these bloggers up and running. My guess is that he'll be following things closely.
All The World's A-Staged
Despite the "security situation", the streets of Bagdad are fairly crawling with photographers.
You'd wonder why more of them don't get killed, the way they loiter around in groups and whatnot.
It's been suggested that if you find photographers Ali Jasim and Ali Al- Saadi hanging around, it might be a bad sign.
Sticks and Stones, a review
This week on the CBC The Fifth Estate broadcast a program entitled Sticks and Stones. This program set out to show that the tone of debate in the United States had declined but ultimately the show turned into an attack on the introduction on FoxNews into the Canadian market. The questions that came immediately to mind were how is this not a conflict of interest for the CBC considering their NewsWorld property is a direct competitor of FoxNews and should we, as taxpayers, be funding such "infomercials" in favour of the CBC?
The program and the questions are fully reviewed on my blog. Due to the length of the post I have kept it over there. Part I can be found on PoliticalStaples. And if you don't want to take my word for it watch the program yourself and decide. You did pay for it afterall!
Update: Part II is up
Thank Quebec for gay marriage
The Toronto Sun reported yesterday that the government's redefinition of marriage bill is "set to pass" according to its survey of MPs. Of 257 members of Parliament who responded, 135 "intend to vote in favour of the legislation" while 102 are opposed. 19 are undecided. About one-sixth the MPs (50) did not respond but when the paper projects the vote based on past records, it predicts that the bill will pass with a least 155 votes ("providing MPs show up in the Commons for the controversial vote").
None of this is terribly surprising. What is notable is how overwhelmingly Quebec MPs will be responsible for redefining marriage in this country. 58 Quebec MPs (Bloc and Liberal) responded, just one of whom is opposed to same-sex marriage. Reporter Kathleen Harris says that "Seat-rich Ontario and Quebec, held largely by Liberal and Bloc Quebecois MPs, prop up the Yes numbers, while Western provinces bulk up the No forces. Ontario is near evenly split, with 46 MPs in favour and 40 opposed to same-sex marriage." But if you take out the Quebec vote, redefinition would lose despite the nearly even split in Ontario.
From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where these articles and the rest of today's news are hotlinked.
Chrétien aide's sponsorship role
He must marry gays or quit
Friday, January 28, 2005
When judges attack
"There is no question ... that tigers are dangerous, unpredictable, wild predators. Persons who display such animals in out-of-control settings should, in my view, be held strictly liable for any damage resulting from such display . . . "
. . . no matter the extent to which that damage was invited, apparently. That was the ruling of Ontario Superior Court Justice Jean MacFarland yesterday in the attack on a stripper and her boyfriend who were mauled by tigers while cruising through Ontario's African Lion Safari in 1996.
Yes the windows were open, but the judge had to go with what is clearly the most plausible explanation: that they were closed when the tigers attacked but that the victims must have opened them in panic once the tigers started lunging at their car.
"The scene inside that vehicle can only have been utterly chaotic," MacFarland said.
These were power windows, mind you—and both of them were open at some point—so according to the judge, as I understand it, the way the attack played out was like this:
- victims are cruising through African Lion Safari, windows safely closed
- tiger lunges at car
- someone depresses passenger side power window switch and, this is important, holds it down until it's open far enough for a tiger to get its paws and jaws through to attack the passenger
- someone depresses driver side power switch window long enough for two more tigers to reach through and attack the driver
Makes perfect sense, no? The judge held the park liable for $2.5 million in damages, including money that the lady will not earn as a stripper, because the scars have ruined her career. And the man may never be able to work again because he is distraught and suffers post-traumatic stress disorder.
But it is that quote up top that is the most telling. The judge doesn't really care who opened the windows or why, or whether the two victims are a couple of idiots looking to turn a foolish mistake into a retirement package. The way the judge sees it, people are stupid and must be protected from themselves. Call it Canada's answer to the infamous McDonald's coffee incident.
the future of blogs
Don't believe the hype
A long, long time ago -- OK, it was 33 years ago -- Michael Shamberg and a clutch of other video visionaries from the Raindance Corporation visited my college campus to preach their gospel of the coming media apocalypse. Waving a copy of his book Guerrilla Television, Shamberg prophesied that the Sony Porta-Pak -- an ungainly video camera wired to a luggage-size tape deck carried over the shoulder -- would herald a media revolution greater than the one fomented by Gutenberg's moveable type.
Once The People got their hands on the video power and started making decentralized, alternative media, the network news programs would collapse under the weight of their own lies, Shamberg said. The Hollywood industrial entertainment complex was going down, too, man, and would be replaced by street stories recorded by Porta-Pak-toting freaks. The multiplexes out by the freeway would be shuttered and sold to neighbourhood theatre groups.
Shamberg convinced me that this clunky black-and-white camera would completely redistribute media power, although I didn't join the rebellion, unlike some of my classmates, who purchased communal shares in a new Porta-Pak. So long, CBS, I thought. Nice to have known you, Warner Bros.!
But the video verite of proletarian life and the drama of the anti-poverty demonstration, which the video guerrillas found so riveting, proved no competition for Starsky and Hutch and 60 Minutes. Even though video cameras continued to shrink in size and price throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s and have now proliferated to the point of ubiquity, the guerrilla uprising Shamberg and his comrades plotted never progressed much beyond the unwatched public-access channels at the high end of the dial. Their revolution was televised, but nobody watched.
Memories of the video guerrillas percolated to my forebrain last Friday while I attended the "Blogging, Journalism, and Credibility" conference at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Many of the speakers, such as New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen and tech wizard/ur-blogger Dave Winer, echoed Shamberg's fervor as they testified to the socially transformative power of blogs. A blogswarm of amateurs, they proclaimed, is breaking the professionals' hold on the press. There's a major power shift going on, Rosen stated, tilting toward users and away from the established media.
In language only slightly less fervent than Shamberg's, conference participants declared blogs the destroyers of mainstream media. Others prescribed blogs as the medicine the newspaper industry should take to reclaim its lost readers: Publishers should support reader blogs and encourage their reporters to blog in addition to writing stories. Podcasts would undermine the radio network empires. "Open source" journalism, in which readers and bloggers help set the news agenda for newspapers, was promoted as a tonic for what ails the press. Reporters were encouraged to regain the lost trust of readers by blogging drafts of their stories, their notes and even their taped interviews so other bloggers could dissect and analyze them for fairness.
Winer discounted any chance that the clueless media would adapt to the blogofuture, saying publishers were as blind as the mainframe computer manufacturers of early 1980s who refused to believe PCs would replace their big iron.
The bloggers certainly weren't going to get much lip from me. I saddled up with the new media posse back in 1996, and much of what I do on Slate.com -- write, post, link, read, communicate with readers, devote myself to an arcane subject -- resembles what most bloggers do, except that I get paid for it, and I tend to write twice or three times a week at 1,000 words rather than several times daily at a paragraph or three. The biggest difference between me and conventional bloggers is that I usually pause between first thought and posting.
Maybe because I've been writing and editing on the Web for so long and reading, to my great edification, the blogs of such writers as Josh Marshall, Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus, James Wolcott, Eugene Volokh, Glenn Reynolds, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Edward Jay Epstein, as well as Reason's Hit & Run and the essential Romenesko, to name a few, the alleged divide between the old media and this new whippersnapper media of blogs has never seemed real to me.
With the exception of the "metro" section reporter covering a 12-car pile-up on the freeway, I think most practising journalists today are as Webby as any blogger you care to name. Journalists have had access to broadband connections for longer than most civilians, and nearly every story they tackle begins with a Web dump of essential information from Google or a proprietary database. They conduct interviews via e-mail, download official documents from .gov sites, check facts and monitor the competition -- including blogs -- the whole while. When every story starts on the Web, and every story can be stripped to its digital bits and pumped through wires and over the air, we're all Web journalists.
The premature triumphalism of some bloggers indicates that they haven't paid attention to how Webified journalists have become. They also ignore media history. New media technologies almost never replace old media technologies; they merely force old technologies to adapt and find new ways to connect with their audiences. Radio killed the "special edition," but newspapers survived. When television dethroned radio as the hearthside infobox and cratered the Hollywood box office, radio became a mobile medium, and Hollywood devoted itself to spectaculars that the tiny TV set couldn't adequately display. The competitive spiral has continued, with cable TV, VCRs and DVDs, satellite TV and radio broadcasters, and now Internet broadcasters entering the fray. The only extinct mass medium that I can think of is the movie house newsreel.
The danger of fetishizing a new technology (the Porta-Pak) or a new media wrinkle (the blog) is obvious: In the rush to define the new new thing and celebrate its wonders, the human tendency to oversell kicks in. Am I the only one who remembers how John Perry Barlow, drunk on the Web nine years ago, issued his ridiculous "Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace"? In hyperbolic fashion, Barlow wrote, "We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before." Lenin subscribed to this sort of technological moonbeamism when he declared that socialism plus electricity would equal communism, and we know where that led.
News blogs, political blogs, sports blogs, community blogs, gardening blogs, tech blogs, shopping blogs, radio blogs, video blogs and blog blogs all possess great potential. But we owe it to this prodigious new communications form not to demand too much too soon.
why george bush is president
From a front-page interview in today's New York Times:
"He laughed when asked about his admission on Wednesday, during a news conference, that he had not read the article in the periodical Foreign Affairs written in 2000 by Condoleezza Rice, his new secretary of state, laying out his foreign policy.
"I don't know what you think the world is like, but a lot of people don't just sit around reading Foreign Affairs," he said, chuckling. "I know this is shocking to you."
Carol Goar, in today's toronto star:
Strengthening the nation's frayed social safety nets — particularly welfare and employment insurance — is still one of the first lines of defence against child poverty.
And changing public attitudes is as vital today as when Broadbent launched his crusade. "Everybody thinks you're too lazy or stupid to work," said Dorothy O'Connell, an Ottawa activist who fought her way out of poverty. "Why is it that middle-income and rich women who stay home to look after their kids are not seen as parasites?"
Monte Solberg letter
Hon. Ralph Goodale, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Finance
Room 607, Confederation Bldg.
House of Commons,
Thank you for the opportunity to provide the Conservative Party's perspective on the measures that should be included in Budget 2005.
We have made no secret of our belief that the federal government taxes Canadians too heavily. At its simplest, this leads to reduced incentives to work, to go to school and invest in education, to develop businesses—especially small businesses—and to save for the future. And over taxation of the corporate sector, simply put, kills jobs because it reduces the incentive to invest in productive capacity in Canada.
The government’s failure to take action on this issue means that both our economy and government revenues grow at levels far below their potential. For Canadians this means lost opportunities. For government it means a smaller revenue stream which threatens our ability to provide the quality of social services Canadians deserve. We in the Conservative Party of Canada remain frustrated at the pace of change and the priorities you continue to present to Parliament and the Canadian people.
I know that both you and the Prime Minister have argued that tax cuts are both unaffordable and a low priority for your government. During the last election campaign you stuck to the position that the surplus in 2003/04 was going to be small—indeed, $1.9 billion—and told the Canadian people that the Conservative plan to provide tax relief would cause the government to run a deficit. But within weeks of winning the election, not only were you proposing spending that far exceeded the amount of money that, during the campaign, you told Canadians would be available, but that the surplus would be larger than expected. And then in the Fall of 2004 you announced that, indeed, it was $9.1 billion.
We find the same tactics again in your approach to fiscal management in this Parliament. Budget 2004 planned a surplus of $4 billion; in November you seemed to believe it would be $8.9 billion; and our own estimates in January suggest something on the order of $11 billion—before year end allocations that you undoubtedly will bring forward.
We are even more confident now that the current situation and the outlook for 2005/06 are sufficiently strong to make major tax relief a centerpiece of your Budget 2005. Let me remind you of the priorities a Conservative Party of Canada has proposed.
The Conservative Party's amendment to the speech from the Throne called for tax relief for low and middle income Canadians, an independent process for forecasting the government’s financial situation, and that all spending from the Employment Insurance program be for the benefit of workers. In an effort to defeat the amendment the Prime Minister declared that the vote on the amendment would be regarded as a confidence motion. He later changed his position but not before making clear his reluctance to reduce the tax burden on Canadians.
The Prime Minister has since confirmed that reducing taxes is a much lower priority than initiating new large spending initiatives. We argue that this position is both unfair to Canadians whose take home pay has barely grown at all over the last fifteen years and dangerous to our long term economic growth and therefore to our ability to fund our social safety net. For these reasons we feel that budget 2005 must announce a plan to given all Canadians an immediate pay hike through a program of lower taxes. Secondly the budget should include a longer term standard of living strategy that starts the process of strengthening Canada's competitive position through a program of targeted tax relief, reduction of burdensome regulations, strategic spending and measured debt repayment.
The CPC believes that the government has a moral obligation to fulfill their Throne Speech commitment to reduce taxes for low and middle income Canadians. And furthermore, you should deliver on your promise to increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement, a measure that benefits those in greatest need.
As you know Don Drummond's recent report showed that Canadians workers have seen their real take home pay grow by only 3.6 per cent since 1989, while real GDP per worker rose by 21.8 per cent. His report also noted the staggering tax load faced by middle income Canadians.
We have also consistently argued that the government is exaggerating the size and impact of its tax relief measures first introduced in 2000. Mr. Drummond confirmed this when he pointed out that the dramatic jump in Canada Pension Plan premiums largely ate up the benefit of the government's income tax reductions. We saw that happen again on January 1, 2005.
The Conservative Party of Canada believes that the case for immediately reducing taxes is overwhelming and is affordable. It is obvious, as we argue below, that doing the same thing over and over will not give us better results. We have been doing this for decades and the time for change is now. You can start the change in your Budget 2005.
We believe that Canada needs a long term strategy to raise the living standards for all Canadians. In our Supplementary Report to the Finance Committee, we argued that now is the time to start—that more of the same is not good enough—that Canadians deserve better. During the past forty years Canada’s productivity has remained little changed compared with that in United States—it remains stuck at about 85 per cent of the U.S. level.
For a nation that has endured numerous innovation, competitiveness and productivity enhancing attempts from Liberal governments, we have precious little to show for it. Canada remains where it was some 40 years ago. The productivity gap is relevant, because it more than accounts for the income gap of $6,078 per Canadian compared with Americans. Surely we can do better—having a family of four with some $24,000 a year less income to spend than they would have in the United States is nothing to celebrate.
Furthermore, unemployment rates in Canada are stuck well above those in United States. This has persisted for a quarter century. Back in the early 1970s, Canadian and U.S. unemployment rates were the same, or ours were even lower, they are now locked in a gap that should be unacceptable to all Canadians.
All this should spur the inclusion of tax cutting measures that centre on job-killing taxes such as capital taxes, employment insurance premiums, capital gains taxes, corporate taxes generally, and, most importantly, the immediate reduction of personal income taxes. Again, as Mr. Drummond reports, the top federal-Ontario marginal rate starts at $113,804 at 46.41 per cent, and it is a remarkable 43.41 per cent at an income of $70,000. He also pointed out that when higher marginal taxes are combined with clawed-back government benefits, the effective marginal tax rate is an astounding 80 per cent for lower income Canadians. Do we need more evidence that the system needs overhaul?
We want the capital tax eliminated in 2005 rather than waiting for 2007 as is your plan now. This tax is universally deemed to be a job killer and has no place in the Canadian tax system.
The effective large business tax rate in Canada remains well above that in United States. We cannot afford this situation and we want the effective tax rate reduced in Budget 2005. It is also critically important that you announce plans to permit more generous depreciation schedules for the purchase of new equipment and technology, especially now, when the high Canadian dollar makes much of this investment more affordable—because it is imported—even as it makes Canadian exporters less competitive.
For several years in a row the Auditor General has concluded that the government has not respected the intent of the Employment Insurance Act. The EI Account now has a whopping $46 billion surplus—yet we all know there is no money there! The Chief Actuary’s Outlook shows that the three cent cut in premiums for 2005 is still some 10.8 per cent higher than the breakeven rate. This government should stop overcharging Canadians! EI premiums should be lowered immediately, and stakeholders must be given a say in benefit and premium levels.
It is accepted that taxation levels affect the willingness of investors to build new industrial capacity in Canada. If taxation is too high and investment too low, the competitive abilities of Canadians can not be unleashed. Countries like Australia and Ireland have shown the way and are benefiting from large gains in productive investment by using low corporate tax rates as a method to attract investment.
It is also clear that we are not getting our share of foreign direct investment and in fact we have been experiencing a net outflow. Sadly, Canadians see better opportunities elsewhere and, equally, there is little prospect of reversing this trend unless major changes to tax policy affecting the Canadian business investment environment are brought forward in Budget 2005.
Today, in Canada, one of the most hard-hit sectors is agriculture—drought and BSE continue to take their toll. The income stabilization program has failed in its stated objective to provide income support on a consistent basis. We encourage the government to allow primary producers to average their incomes over a five year period as a way of helping them ease their tax burden and the challenges of weather and disease.
The regulatory regime farmers face needs attention. They have to go struggle with a bureaucratic system that needs fixing—far too much effort is spent on learning what they can access, often to find that they are not eligible. A new approach is necessary.
But there are numerous other ideas that can help primary producers of all kinds. We urge the government to raise the capital gains exemption for primary producers to $1 million, as a way of allowing the transfer of farms from one generation to the next. Doing what we can to help preserve the family farm should be a priority of this Government. .
Improving Canada's infrastructure is central to raising our living standards. And we strongly support the transfer of additional resources to Canada’s cities. There is consensus on this and we want to see action in the Budget.
Report after report shows the importance of education in raising living standards and the ability of Canadians to participate in their society. Yet, the federal government continues to have a limited role in the support of education in Canada. While we respect provincial jurisdiction in this area, we feel the federal government can do far more to promote education in our country.
Specifically, we want the Budget to contain initiatives to expand the tuition grant program for students of modest means who want to attend post-secondary educational programs. To help students further, we also want to see federal income taxes removed from bursaries and scholarships.
As you know, Minister, relationships with the provinces are especially difficult in two areas. First, we have the discord around what the Prime Minister promised the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador during the election of 2004. The spectacle Canadians have witnessed is unseemly and should end. Furthermore, it is well known that the provinces remain, collectively, in deficit. Arguing that there is no fiscal imbalance after all these years and repeating, time and again, that the provinces have access to the same tax bases as the Federal government simply misses the point—provinces can tax only in their jurisdiction! And when the federal government sets the rules and puts constraints over the provinces in how they manage affairs in their jurisdiction, this imbalance is created. We want to see the Budget contain measures that reduce the fiscal imbalance.
Finally, if the tragic events in Asia prove anything about our military capacity, it is that Canada’s must be boosted immediately. We want to see a firm commitment on the 5,000 front-line troops financed, immediately, in the Budget. We want, also, to see the heavy lift capacity of our forces put in place. No longer should we be waiting to rent aircraft from others to meet our commitments.
In short, Minister, the Conservative Party of Canada believes that the time is now for a major assault on the key elements I have outlined in this letter—first, significant tax cuts for working Canadians; second, measures that will enhance business incentives to innovate and invest in Canada; and, finally a boost to the spending that you have promised to help bring Canada’s military to a more effective level. And, just as we argued during the last election campaign, we are confident that our finances can afford it.
Monte Solberg, M.P.
Official Opposition of Canada
This is R-I-C-H
Last night on CBC NewsWorld’s Politics the show ended with a round-table discussion with the Communications directors from each party. This exchange jumped out at me. Not just in a hold-on-to-your-wallet sense, but in how the Liberals characterize Conservatives. (I have trimmed this post for length, the whole thing can be found here)
Host: Alright, Geoff Norquay let me bring you in on this. What did it all sound like out there on the West Coast all this pre-budget maybe early election talk?
Geoff Norquay, CPC: Well we had a good discussion at our National Caucus in Victoria over the last three days and certainly the question of our budgets bottom line came up. When want to see a number of things. First we would like the fiscal imbalance between the federal government and the provinces addressed. The provinces are tapped-out. They are one-by-one falling back into debt while the federal government rolls up ever increasing surpluses. The second thing we want to see is investment in Canada’s Armed Forces. As we found out with the recent Tsunami disaster in South Asia. All the best intentions in the world go to not if you don’t have the hard assets to deliver your soft-power objectives. The final thing that we want to see is some tax relief for low and middle income Canadians. The federal government earlier this year, in a fit of momentary dyslexia, turned a 1.9 billion dollar surplus into a 9.1 billion surplus. There is another word for surplus and that is over-taxation and we think the federal government should do something about that.
Host: O.K. Scott Reid, assuming you can’t please all of these people, but knowing that you have to please some of them how do you balance that? What is the objective?
Scott Reid, LIB: Pretty simple, we campaigned less than a year ago on a series of commitments and the budget is going to be a cornerstone in delivering on those. Some we’ve been able to fulfill already, some we’ll fulfill in this budget and we’ll keep at it in good faith.
Host: What about tax cuts, for example?
SR: Well, we’ve said, we are going to be cutting taxes until we’ve paid for those things that we campaigned on. Like cities, like child care, we’ve put a lot of money into health care. Were all for providing tax relief for the middle-class and low income Canadians; when Conservatives talk about tax-relief it is spelt R-I-C-H, don’t forget it, don’t pretend otherwise. They’re looking for breaks for the wealthiest in society, that’s always been what you’ve campaigned on.
GN: That’s just not true Scott! It is just not true! That is not our position!
This is R-I-C-H considering that earlier in the broadcast a representative from the TD Bank was on the program outlining how Canadians take home income has not increased in 15 years! Tax breaks for the Rich! Give me a break! How about a tax break for anyone!
Remember I posed the question "what hill are we willing to die on". This my friends isone of them. We need to get back more of our money, which we rightfully earned!
Nick Coleman's Blog Headache
If you don't believe that bloggers are giving newspapers a headache, talk to Nick Coleman. A veteran newspaper columnist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Coleman is in the middle of an old-fashioned feud with one of the leading conservative Web logs in the country.
So far, his battle with Powerlineblog.com - Time magazine's "blog of the year" - has sparked an anger-spewing column by Coleman, an ombudsman's clarification, and a threat by a leading bank to pull advertising from the newspaper.
Moreover, it has confirmed the growing ability of blogs to get under the skin of the mainstream media. "This is just the beginning," an exasperated Coleman warns. "People need to pay attention to [bloggers]. To watch out."
Some of the phrases "spewing" from Coleman included such goodies as "Extreme bloggers are so hip and cool they can make fun of the poor and disadvantaged while working out of paneled bank offices"... "rottweilers in sheep's clothing" ... " dominated by the right and are only interested in being a megaphone without oversight, disclosure of conflicts of interest, or professional standards".
But Coleman's problems didn't end there. Shortly after the New Year, TCF Bank Chairman and CEO Bill Cooper wrote an angry letter to the Star- Tribune vowing never to buy advertising in the paper again. Cooper was incensed that Coleman's column had attempted to link the blog to TCF, while allegedly hinting that some readers should withdraw their money from the finance company. "I have nothing to do with that blog and Coleman never talked to me," Cooper says now. "It's 'Dan Rather' journalism."
The bloggers also complained to Star-Tribune Reader Representative Kate Parry, who reviewed their charges and eventually put a clarification in the paper related to the Dec. 29 Coleman column. The blog's only revenue source, the paper clarified, was its advertising.
So is this the future of blog-newspaper relations in 2005 and beyond? According to Coleman, yes, and not in a good way. He says traditional news outlets need to keep tabs on the blogs and shoot back when necessary. "Editors and writers in mainstream media are very naive," he says. "Readership and power of the blogs is increasing." He also claims that the blogs are dangerous because they are not under the same ethical restrictions as mainstream media and seek to stay on the attack, facts be damned. He contends "the mainstream media is under assault."
Considering the charade of professionalism on display in some quarters* lately, rightfully so.
But Powerline's Hinderaker argues that blogs are actually more accountable because they receive immediate reaction from readers and can be criticized by other blogs, many of which are read by the same people. "Mainstream media doesn't have the checks and balances you have on a blog," he says. "If a blogger makes a mistake, the e-mail is packed with responses and other bloggers jump on it. Newspapers don't have the same relationship with their readers."
For ombud Parry, both sides should be warned to be careful dealing with the effects of blog-newsprint battles. "I have yet to find anywhere in the mainstream media anyone who really has a handle on bloggers," she asserts. "We are dealing with a relatively new phenomenon."
Nibble, nibble *.
Via Glenn Reynolds.
Bloggers Accredited for CPAC
"The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is the country's oldest and largest annual gathering of grassroots conservatives. For more than thirty years, CPAC has served as the annual reunion of conservatives from all across America.
CPAC is holding their convention Feb. 17 - 19, and among the bloggers credentialed to cover it are:
Which reminds me - with the Conservatives holding their policy convention in a few short weeks, has anyone been contacted about blogger accreditation for the event? I understand the difficulties faced getting a Conservative party message through the filter of a hostile Liberal media, but when they ignore opportunities to circumvent it, one has to wonder how much sympathy they're entitled to.
From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the articles are hotlinked.
Church told to butt out
The National Post/Ottawa Citizen front Elizabeth Thompson and Anne Dawson:
“The Roman Catholic Church should keep its nose out of the government's same-sex marriage legislation, Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew suggested yesterday.”
Fraser backs up Gomery
The Globe and Mail’s DANIEL LEBLANC reports:
“Auditor-General Sheila Fraser and two opposition parties are throwing their support behind Mr. Justice John Gomery in his showdown with Jean Chrétien, leaving the former prime minister increasingly isolated in his efforts to oust the outspoken head of the sponsorship inquiry, sources say.”
ALL THE POOP THAT’S FIT TO POST
Most papers today report on yesterday’s ceremony at Auschwitz. The world needed more Canada then, but did not get it.
The Guardian also reports that the US and UK have agreed an Iraq exit strategy—as they say in the Queen’s English.
In French, the governing party is divided, which has a familiar ring. Le Monde fronts Chinese peacekeepers in Port-au-Prince, where I thought we were playing a role.
Speaking of which, The Washington Post reports no sign of Canadian election observers observing the Iraq election.
The Independent asks, “Is the world safer now?”—and you can probably guess the answer.
The Iraq election lead in Figaro and in the London Times. The New York Times scores an exclusive interview with President Bush.
Yesterday, I missed this interesting piece in the Times on NAFTA. (Hat tip to blogger Paul Tuns.)
The Los Angeles Times reports the FBI is extending its reach. Yikes.
The Daily Telegraph reports the spooks are also planning to spook the Brits who returned from Gitmo.
The Telly also reports that the Greatest Brit, unlike his Canadian counterpart, is still alive and kicking. Which is, I guess, what makes it news.
The Globe and Mail’s Doug Saunders—who kept me chuckling with his reports from Libya before and during Paul Martin's visit--distinguishes himself from the crowd again with his un-funny report from Auschwitz. (Memo to Ed: Have you looked into cloning this guy?)
In commentary, Jeff Simpson says Nova Scotia is a nice place to visit but it faces an uphill struggle in attracting immigrants.
Former ambassador Michael Bell is surprised at how well Mohammed Abbas is doing. He should be. Like most of his counterparts at Foreign Affairs, he swore by Yasser Arafat until nearly the bitter end.
Today, the boys and girls of Pearson won’t be happy to learn that Madame the Commissioner of Official languages is looking into French at our embassies abroad.
No surprise that Rick Salutin is dubious about Iraq’s elections and George Bush too, but, as usual, its dressed up in some faux-intellectualism for those who like this sort of thing.
The Globe editorial board is right to be dubious about George Bush’s fiscal fitness:
“Long-run deficits are far from benign. They raise the cost of capital, restrict economic growth and undermine the currency. Just ask Ottawa. The net result will be bad for the United States. It will also be bad for Canada and bad for the global economy, which depend heavily on a robust U.S. economy for their well-being.”
Paul Koring analyzes yesterday’s pre-figuring of our foreign and defence policy that somehow landed on the front page of the Globe.
The Gazbags like what they read. And, have no fear, Paul Martin says today to those who have doubts, there will be chickens in the navy and the air force pot too.
Joe Comuzzi is sweating same-sex marriage—I mean, what does a minister do when his conscience does not align with the Prime Minister’s fundamental beliefs political imperatives?
Judy Sgro’s accuser had a bad day. Ottawa released its guidelines for spousal support. The feds and Québec are close to a parental-leave deal.
I can’t wait to see if Québec mommies and daddies and baby diapers are asymmetrical—as the diabetes and cancer appear to be in le pays d'hiver--or are just like the rest of us in ROC?
Speaking of the health of Quebecers, Le Devoir reports that Jean Charest’s office has confirmed he and his family were invited to dinner chez Paul Desmarais at Manoir Richelieu on December 27.
While Charest has been shrugging off criticism of his government, Desmarais has been lobbying fiercely on the location of the new hospital planned for Montréal.
The Gazoo reports things are pretty ratty in existing hospitals, but what I’d still really like to know is what role Desmarais played in taking Jean Charest out of federal politics.
André Picard looks at Michael Decter’s health report. Here’s the lead in the Citizen and the Post, for comparison:
“Canadians must finally confront whether medicare's rising costs are too excessive and are bleeding funds away from other social programs, an advisory panel to governments has concluded.”
And what’s this?—The NDP government of Manitoba is appealing a court decision requiring it to pay for abortions? How do they think women got these clinics in the first place?
In BC, a Campbell aide has taken the high jump in record time. And Svend Robinson is on the come-back trail.
The former MP with a taste for expensive jewellery has even started commenting on judicial sentencing, if you can believe it, and he’s egging on the Madame Desfarges of Vancouver.
You won’t read this in the Toronto Star and it’s buried in Kathryn May’s report in the National Post, but The Globe and Mail reports that opposition leaders and Sheila Fraser are lining up against removal of Judge Gomery. Big deal.
As I argued yesterday—and Susan Riley writes much better today in the Citizen—Stephen Harper is out to lunch in blaming Paul Martin for Gomery’s woes.
Besides, they’re missing the point.
The first objective of the former prime minister’s hacks and flacks and lawyers is to soften up Gomery and Bernard Roy before the three Jeans running the joint/dipping into the sponsorship slush fund--Pelletier, Carle and Chrétien--take the hot-seat.
In particular, the kick-assers would like the three Jeans questioned by Neil Finkelstein, who they hope will be an ass-kisser—given his deep links to the former PM’s closest confidants.
By the way, Finkelstein also worked for the brother of Chrétien’s lawyer when Ian Scott was the AG of Ontario in the Peterson government
You won’t find that in the columns of friendly journalists, such as Chrétien biographer and golf buddy Lawrence Martin, who's lending a helping hand in this classic “campagne de salissage” meant to remove Gomery’s jeans and leave him neutered.
Nor will you find it on the website of the Liberal kick-asser who claims to have destroyed Kim Campbell and Stockwell Day single-handedly and is leading the charge on behalf of Chrétien.
Bernard Landry is not being helpful, and he’s even saying Jacques Parizeau was half-right in his “money and the ethnic vote” speech. If you need any evidence of how badly Chrétien’s national unity strategy worked out in the end, here it is.
As to Paul Martin’s strategy, I see that Allan Gregg has finally figured out the health deal with Québec which, at the outset on CBC, he described as “clever.”
In the current Walrus, he’s now accusing the PM of creating no less than a “Frankenstein Federalism.” The Post and the Citizen pick up the story.
Aside from being totally out of his depth (Memo to Allan: immigration is an area of concurrent jurisdiction and has been since 1867), what’s truly amazing is that Gregg is donning the cape of Pierre Trudeau, the guy Joe Clark was fighting with his advice back then.
Which, come to think of it, is what makes him perfect for Peter Mansbridge’s weekly panel--in the tradition of Dalton Camp, the Toronto Star and Morningside.
Just so you know where I’m coming from, here’s the first column I wrote on the Gomery Inquiry, Michael Bliss’ review of a book in which I wrote about the Commission, and here's my column in today’s Vancouver Sun.
In the Citizen version of Kathryn May’s report, Marcel Masse—who was a public servant and later served as minister responsible for national unity—testified that, like his successor Stéphane Dion, he didn’t know about the sponsorship program.
Buried toward the end of the article, you’ll find more confirmation of the partisan political objective underlying the program that you won’t find elsewhere:
“Mr. Masse said Mr. Chrétien appointed him after the "close call" of the 1995 referendum to find out what went wrong and ensure it never happened again. He and six other ministers concluded the big mistakes were "lousy communications" to counter separatists' views and little federal presence in Quebec.
Their report recommended a new agency, which became the Communications Information Office, to develop and implement the government's communications strategy. It also called for a major buildup of the federal Liberal party in Quebec, picking new organizers, candidates and "winnable" ridings and urged the prime minister, ministers and MPs to be visible and visit Quebec more often.
He acknowledged it was "inappropriate" and unusual for a cabinet report to mix "partisan politics" with public policy but argued the government was "scalded" by the referendum and its mistakes were political.”
ODDS AND SODS:
Yesterday, the Supreme Court affirmed a man’s constitutional right to masturbate in his living room with the curtains drawn. Wendy Cox files the CP version from Vancouver, but she, too, does not clarify whether the ruling applies equally to women.
The Toronto Star beat the cops, whom it beats up on regularly in print, in court. Tonda Maccharles is assigned the unenviable grunt work of chasing the foreign policy review leaked by the Grits to the Globe. The Mayors want their Maypo gas tax.
In the Globe, the oil patch is anxious about the Martin/Williams spitting match.
In the Star, the two are meeting today in Ottawa with the premier of Nova Scotia the Hamm in the sandwich, and Susan Delacourt reports the Martinis are upbeat on the prospects for a deal.
With Parliament returning next Monday after its two- seven-week Christmas break, she also reports they’re bullish on winning the same-sex vote—notwithstanding BQ sabre-rattling.
Speaking of spitting matches, the English-language papers seem to have missed a fine one between two Québec heavyweights after the Liberal caucus meeting.
In the hair department, Liza would have had a tougher fight on her hands had she been up against Pierre Pettigrew of Paris.
Speaking of whom, the National Post fronts his novel definition of separation of Church and State:
“The Roman Catholic Church should keep its nose out of the government's same-sex marriage legislation, Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew suggested yesterday.”
In the underneath the hair department, Sheila Copps criticizes the current crop of politicians for not looking at the “big picture”—which I must have missed in today’s Post column.
As to Frulla, I think she’s met her match in Jean Lapierre, who’s been doing a fine job since returning to the floor of the Commons. But there’s a mini-sponsorship scandal brewing in this aquatics meet, and it bears watching—in both official languages.
Speaking of hair, Barbara Yaffe reports on the front page of the Vancouver Sun and in the Post that Belinda and Peter have confirmed they’re an item, though Belinda is taking a mature approach to the relationship:
"Maybe I should say, spending time together; dating is more of a teenaged word."
In the Star, Carol Goar says lefties are getting old. Chantal Hébert says so are Grits.
Richard Gwyn says Paul Martin reminds him of Joe Who—whom the Star scribe now admires. I must have missed a few columns.
The editorial board poops on striking doctors and is positive about Iraq’s elections which would not be happening had the Star’s advice been followed.
The National Post fights back against bloggers, by re-printing a first-rate piece from Slate. Peter Foster is unhappy that Ontario is raising its minimum wage.
The editorial board poops on Paul Martin for accusing the Cons of “racial profiling” by advertising in ethnic newspapers:
“The Liberals' latest propaganda tactic is a crude exercise in hypocrisy. In election after election, the Liberals have monopolized ethnic votes by pouring millions into multicultural projects, co-opting influential community leaders and bending immigration policies to reward their friends. If anything, Mr. Harper's approach is more enlightened: Rather than buying off multiculti constituencies with favours and cash, he is appealing to them on a substantive policy issue. In other words, he is treating them as sophisticated, independent voters, rather than as anonymous party-machine cogs to be bussed in to campaign events at the behest of local powerbrokers. Which approach should immigrants find more "offensive"?
First with the Reform Party, then with the Canadian Alliance and now with the Conservatives, the Liberals have smeared their opponents as anti-immigrant. Now that Mr. Harper's party is actively working to reach out to immigrants, the Liberals are scrambling to paint that, too, as a sign of bigotry. It's a shameful strategy that no Canadian -- recent immigrant or otherwise -- should fall for.”
Also in the Post, Bruce Garvey writes about Natan Sharansky--George Bush’s latest discovery, and a man whose views on the Mideast Garvey obviously knows nothing about beyond what he’s read in the spin coming out of the US.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Three cheers for free trade
This post's for you Norm (Shotgun CanCon Czar) Spector.
Virginia Postrel writes in the New York Times (oops -- I hope this still counts) about a paper by University of Toronto economist Daniel Trefler that illustrates that Canadian manufacturing saw a short-term dip in employment before recovering. Postel writes:
"Not surprisingly, the Canadian industries that had relied on tariffs to protect them 'were hammered' when those barriers disappeared, Professor Trefler said. 'They saw their employment fall by 12 percent,' he said, meaning one in eight workers lost their jobs. In manufacturing as a whole, the trade agreement reduced employment by 5 percent.
'Employment losses of 5 percent translate into 100,000 lost jobs and strike me as large,' he wrote, 'not least because only a relatively small number of industries experienced deep tariff concessions.'
... As painful as those layoffs were, however, the job losses were a short-term effect. Over the long run, employment in Canada did not drop, and manufacturing employment remains more robust than in other industrialized countries.
'Within 10 years, the lost employment was made up by employment gains in other parts of manufacturing,' Professor Trefler found.
While low-productivity plants shut down, high-productivity Canadian manufacturers not only expanded into the United States but further improved their operations. Along the way, they hired enough new workers to make up for losses elsewhere."
Furthermore, there were aslo increases in earnings and productivity and no increase in wealth inequality. No wonder Jean Chretien broke his free trade promise. What I don't understand is why conservatives -- and Conservatives -- don't do a better job explaining that the benefits of free trade are a result of policies that they fought for and implemented and that the Liberals initially opposed.
Iraq Election Coverage, By Iraqis
We have more than a dozen local Iraqi correspondents, at least one in each province, filing daily reports. These reports include news, interviews, quotes, photos, whatever they can get in a day. They aren't professional journalists. They are more or less ordinary Iraqis. Some of them you already know - Omar and Mohammed from Iraq the Model, for example. Others you don't know because they don't speak or write in English. Their reports are translated from Arabic before they are uploaded to the reports site.
My job isn't to edit the reports, exactly (they are published raw on a secondary site), but to run a blog on the main site which summarizes, excerpts, and links to the reports from the field. I'm also going to be excerpting and linking to essays and posts in the Iraqi blogosphere and - on rarer occasions - stories in the mainstream and Middle Eastern media. The idea is to let Iraqis themselves tell their own story of their own first free election.
The site is called "Friends of Democracy: Ground level election news from the people of Iraq" To the best of my knowledge there is nothing else like it anywhere out there, at least not in English. (We also have an Arabic site.)
If you have the time and the inclination, please give us a link.
Norm Geras observes, "[I]t is shocking that around the world there is not wider admiration of, assistance to and moral support (and more) for the Iraqi people."
Words fail me
It's official: six federal prisons will spend taxpayer dollars to set up tattoo parlours.
Inmates will be trained to operate the tattoo services, which are designed to stem the spread of infectious diseases such as hepatitis C.
Correctional Service Canada officials say prisoners have long used odd objects to give each other tattoos, including pieces of old VCR motors and the casings from pens. They say there's no way to guarantee the cleanliness of such items.
The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers is opposing the move, warning in May 2004 that the proposed plan "poses unacceptable risks to security for [our] members, inmates and the community at large."
The union also said inmates use tattoos to display their membership in prison gangs, a tactic that could work against their re-integration into the community after they are released.
What? No one tattoos "Mom" on their arm anymore? The story doesn't mention it but the program will cost $3.7 million -- enough that you could have done useful things with the money.
We are not worthy, we are not worthy
Hey, we all make mistakes. Okay, so this is for any teachers out there who have been wasting their time over the last what? couple of decades? trying to raise the self-esteem of students at the expense of teaching other things. From the January issue of Scientific American: Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth. Some excerpts:
They found that self-esteem in 10th grade is only weakly predictive of academic achievement in 12th grade. Academic achievement in 10th grade correlates with self-esteem in 12th grade only trivially better. Such results, which are now available from multiple studies, certainly do not indicate that raising self-esteem offers students much benefit. Some findings even suggest that artificially boosting self-esteem may lower subsequent performance.
Even if raising self-esteem does not foster academic progress, might it serve some purpose later, say, on the job? Apparently not. Studies of possible links between workers' self-regard and job performance echo what has been found with schoolwork: the simple search for correlations yields some suggestive results, but these do not show whether a good self-image leads to occupational success, or vice versa. In any case, the link is not particularly strong...
...People who regard themselves highly generally state that they are popular and rate their friendships as being of superior quality to those described by people with low self-esteem, who report more negative interactions and less social support. But as Julia Bishop and Heidi M. Inderbitzen-Nolan of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln showed in 1995, these assertions do not reflect reality. The investigators asked 542 ninth-grade students to nominate their most-liked and least-liked peers, and the resulting rankings displayed no correlation whatsoever with self-esteem scores...
...How about teenagers? How does self-esteem, or the lack thereof, influence their love life, in particular their sexual activity? Investigators have examined this subject extensively. All in all, the results do not support the idea that low self-esteem predisposes young people to more or earlier sexual activity. If anything, those with high self-esteem are less inhibited, more willing to disregard risks and more prone to engage in sex. At the same time, bad sexual experiences and unwanted pregnancies appear to lower self-esteem.
If not sex, then how about alcohol or illicit drugs? Abuse of these substances is one of the most worrisome behaviors among young people, and many psychologists once believed that boosting self-esteem would prevent such problems. The thought was that people with low self-esteem turn to drinking or drugs for solace. The data, however, do not consistently show that low adolescent self-esteem causes or even correlates with the abuse of alcohol or other drugs...
...Take the bullying that goes on among children, a common form of aggression. Dan Olweus of the University of Bergen was one of the first to dispute the notion that under their tough exteriors, bullies suffer from insecurities and self-doubts. Although Olweus did not measure self-esteem directly, he showed that bullies reported less anxiety and were more sure of themselves than other children. Apparently the same applies to violent adults...
Ahem. At the top I singled out teachers and that was perhaps a little unfair. The notion that raising one's sense of self-worth is a cure for a plethora of social ills is one that is firmly embedded in the North American psyche. If this article is correct, we had better re-examine our dedication to the idea.
From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the articles are hotlinked.
PM set to reshape foreign aid
The Globe and Mail’s MICHAEL DEN TANDT reports:
“The Martin government is poised to enshrine the army as Canada's pre-eminent military service, and sharply reduce the number of countries to which it gives foreign aid, while boosting international spending in areas where it believes it will have the greatest impact, sources say.”
Canadian data labelled Arar
The Toronto Star’s MICHELLE SHEPHARD reports:
“Syrian Canadian Maher Arar was named on a terrorist watch list because of information received from Canada, says a U.S. State Department letter obtained by the Toronto Star.”
ALL THE POOP THAT’S FIT TO POST
Today, the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is being commemorated.
Yesterday was a bad day for the Yanks in Iraq. And in California. And there's bad news coming for civil servants in Washington.
President Chirac spoke in favour of a new world tax at Davos. Tony Blair, meanwhile, says the world must unite--no, not against Chirac's tax attack.
In France, police are reported to be working 27 hours a week, though some say this is an exaggeration.
Global warming is worse than anyone thought. Iran is nearing the point of nuclear no-return. British patients will be permitted to see their health records.
A word of thanks today—Family Literacy Day--to the large number of literate readers of this press review who waded in on the question I posed yesterday.
Most who responded want both the news and more analysis from your humble and obedient servant; however, several people warned against this site becoming “just another blog.”
As the saying goes, the—ahem—customer is always right even if they don't always click the button on the upper left of their computer screen. Still, I can assure all of you in cyberland that I’m not planning to sign up with the pajamadeen any time soon.
I will, however, be experimenting with the format of this press review, so let me know what you think as we go along.
Yesterday, Liberals were defending the Inquiry, but not the man himself. Daniel Leblanc reports on the legal issues. Les Whittington does the honours in the Star.
At the hearings, Alphonso Gagliano’s chief of staff, Jean-Marc Bard, suffered repeated memory lapses related to documents showing that he was the link between Liberal MPs and the lolly. So far, there’s no 18-minute gap to speak of. But we did learn that Alphonso Gagliano and Jean Lafleur, one of the big winners on the agency side of this affair, belonged to the same "cigar club."
Oh, and it seems that Andre Ouellet also chomped a few. I can't wait to see the movie.
Bard, by the way, would be the fellow who replaced Pierre Tremblay, parachuted into the world’s finest public service from the Minister’s office to replace Chuck Guité as head of the sponsorship program.
In Ottawa, unlike most provinces, this is standard operating procedure—though the Tremblay example is more blatant than most.
Guité was “suggested” to the deputy minister as the right guy for the job, in a letter sent by Executive Assistant Warren Kinsella at the behest of his minister and mine, David Dingwall. I've written about the experience in this book.
Of course, Chuck was a natural. Though he was buried in the ranks in Tory Ottawa, he was the star of the 1995 referendum campaign. You remember—the one that came within a hair’s breadth of losing the country. Oh, and Dingwall was confident that he would not rat on those giving the orders.
Had Ran Quail told Kinsella and Dingwall to stuff it—as in retrospect he should have, and no doubt knew at the time he should have--he would have paid with his job.
As Privy Council Clerk Alex Himelfarb testified, Mr. Chrétien’s signature on the Treasury Board request was a signal to the bureaucracy not to get in the way. For the uninitiated in the ways of Ottawa, this is known as public service ethics.
Meanwhile, Stéphane Dion, the minister responsible for national unity, says he knew nothing about any of this—and I believe him. Kathryn May reports:
“Dion said he had no memory of the program's creation being discussed at Cabinet nor at the weekly meeting of Quebec ministers where he and Mr. Gagliano led discussions on the "hot issues" of the day.”…
In fact, when pressed as to how a Quebec minister responsible for national unity didn't know about a program aimed at Quebec, Mr. Dion said that "principle was never explained to me and I'm not sure that principle existed."
He said he would never have supported a program that focused on one province and didn't equally distribute money across the country. He added that he thought the program was useful in promoting cultural, sports and communities in a province swamped by American culture, but not in keeping the country together.”
Of course, on leave from his university post and with rucksack in hand, Dion was busy writing open letters in his own hand—rather devastating ones at that--to Lucien Bouchard.
Bard, however, says the sponsorship program was well known in Quebec—especially to that well-known statesman, diplomat and defender of Canada, Alphonso Gagliano.
As May—who’s progressively overtaking the Globe’s Leblanc as the must-read on this file--also reports today:
“Jean Marc Bard told the sponsorship inquiry yesterday that Mr. Gagliano, the minister responsible for Quebec, kept close tabs on the "political program" as a key weapon to fight separatism in the aftermath of the 1995 referendum. He said the program's goals were well-known in Quebec, where the bulk of sponsorship funds were spent.”
That would be the same Gagliano, by the way, whose responsibilities as the political minister for Québec included fundraising, organizing golf tournaments and electing Liberal MPs.
Meanwhile, too, staffers in the PMO were using the sponsorship slush fund to purchase autographed golf balls and $650 jackets. It’s amazing that Canadians never heard about the golf balls from the reporters embedded in the parliamentary press gallery who were doing twosomes and foursomes with Jean Chrétien in these years.
In the Globe today, one of those duffers—Lawrence Martin—comes to the aid of his former buddy and biographee.
Martin says the Chrétien team has badly wounded Gomery’s credibility, the judge has been the author of his own misfortune, and predicts that his guys will now move in for the kill.
The Globe and Mail editorial board, on the other hand, is eager to hear Jean Chrétien’s testimony:
“It will be instructive to hear him explain how his desire to raise the federal profile in Quebec could possibly excuse the funnel-ling of 40 per cent of the sponsorship budget of $250-million to communications firms known for heavy donations to the Liberal Party….
If Mr. Chrétien insists on using urgency as an excuse, he will have to explain why the problems in the sponsorship program persisted years after the 1995 referendum, when Quebec had turned its attention to more pressing concerns….
He may try to wash his hands of responsibility for any misspending and political direction of fees to Liberal-friendly agencies. Senator Jim Munson, Mr. Chrétien's friend and former spokesman, told the press that the prime minister is "not a micromanager. Obviously he didn't manage the program every day." It's not obvious at all. Chuck Guité, who ran the program from 1996 to 1999, has testified that Mr. Chrétien's office took a hands-on approach in deciding which events received funding, how much they received and which advertising firms should get commissions for transferring cheques….
Your turn, Mr. Chrétien.”
Yours truly wades into the debate in today's Le Devoir. The National Post and the Toronto Star editorial boards say let Gomery be Gomery. Both, in my estimation, are falling for the Chrétien crowd’s sucker punch.
After spending some time with Stephen Harper yesterday, I certainly did not come away with the impression that his primary goal in life is to clean up the longstanding system whereby political parties run their election campaigns.
If the Opposition doesn’t smarten up and seize the initiative for the timing of court action--instead of blaming Paul Martin for the actions of the Chrétien crowd--I’m afraid Lawrence Martin may be right about the bully winning again.
Of course, Harper has his hands full on another front—same-sex marriage. The Post’s Anne Dawson reports,
“Justice Minister Irwin Cotler gave his caucus colleagues an overview of his controversial same sex legislation yesterday behind closed doors and announced that he will formally introduce it in Parliament next week.”
In politics, it’s your friends who will kill you, and Harper could certainly use smarter ones than Ted Morton, who goes after the politically-outed law profs in today’s Globe. According to Morton, the Supreme Court,
“has become the preferred means of the "new" post-materialist left to bypass the democratic process and impose its preferred "progressive" policies by means of judicial fiat.”
You’d think the American-born professor would have noticed that the Right in his native land is using precisely the same methods to pursue policies with which he agrees.
Meanwhile, Paul Martin is pleading for caucus unity on same-sex; interestingly, he promises to use the notwithstanding clause to discriminate against gays and lesbians who want a church wedding. I wonder whether the permissible discrimination extends to the reception hall.
Martin’s accusing the Conservatives of “racial profiling”—what otherwise is known as targeted advertising. The Prime Minister obviously needs more rest, and should start by sleeping more often in his own bed at 24 Sussex.
Stephen Harper says Canadians support his position on same-sex. The Cons will be consulting Canadians on immigration.
Jim Travers serves up a fine piece on Martin and Harper; this one’s worth the price of the paper, or you can read it here.
Don Martin makes a similar point, but he’s more bullish about Martin branding Harper a bigot on same sex. Wait ‘til he sees the poll results in today's Sun, which confirms what all polls have been saying for some time--though most journalists haven't been telling you.
The results are not surprising: Harper’s position is more liberal than John Kerry’s—and identical to the one legislated by the Socialist government of France.
Frankly, some days I’m amazed that some of his crazier supporters aren’t squawking about curing homosexuals before an epidemic of pederasty breaks out, and all that sort of thing.
Speaking of which, the Montréal Gazette reports today that “a coalition of conservative Quebec Catholic organizations yesterday launched a postcard campaign to pressure federal politicians to vote against a bill allowing homosexuals to marry.
Calling their group SOS Mariage, the coalition warned same-sex marriage will lead to moral decay, cheapens the value of heterosexual unions, erodes the birth rate and promotes a laissez-faire society that opens the door to a wave of pedophilia, pornography, drugs and prostitution.”
As I was leaving Harper yesterday—okay, as I was being shown the door—the pollsters were coming in. Here and here’s what David told him.
It’s no wonder Harper’s looking confident and that the Prime Minister is sweating more than usual, and hasn’t yet given the speech the Globe editorial board drafted for him.
By the way, you don’t think Harper is working hand-in-glove with the Sun-chain—chaired by one of his predecessors—do you? Just asking.
DID BUSH BULLY MARTIN, OR IS IT ALL BULL?
Martin yesterday denied he was bullied by Bush, or at least he can’t remember. And, see if you can understand this explanation of what happened during the visit; I certainly can’t:
“Sources told the Toronto Star the verbal clash described by the Post may have resulted from a conversational mix-up in unscripted discussion between top Canadian and U.S. officials. Prime Minister's Office insiders said Martin was surprised when the topic was raised and Bush pressed him for answers.”
The Citizen doesn’t much care, as long as Newfoundland taxpayers share the security costs for the Bush visit. Do you think the City of Ottawa would throw in a few tickets, transportation included, to the National Arts Centre?
Albertans, on the other hand, can pay their own way, since their home heating bills are going down.
TODAY, The Star is predicting a surgery shutdown and reporting on a Canadian teen suing the government over the place of birth in his passport.
Having had an altercation with him when he was a professor and I the ambassador shepherding Chief Justice Tony Lamer on a visit to Israel, I can’t wait to hear the Attorney General for Canada explain why his government does not recognize Israeli control of West Jerusalem:
"Canadian policy does not allow our officials to travel this way," explained Ambassador Norman Spector. "We view this area as occupied territory and we will not do anything that recognizes Israeli control of this area as legitimate." For such a high-ranking official to ride in an Israeli convoy would contravene that policy, Canadian officials reason.
Canadian lawyer Irwin Cotler, the organizer of this week's visit, was outraged.
"The whole visit was supposed to be a meeting among judges to discuss Canada's Charter of Rights," he said. (Recent changes to Israel's human- rights laws are modelled after the Canadian Charter and court decisions here even have used Canadian precedents.)
"Instead, everything was overshadowed by this mess."
"If both governments had kept out of it, the incident would never have been politicized," he said. "They should have respected the principle of judicial independence."
"Balderdash," Mr. Spector replied. "Judicial independence only applies in Canada. Here, Chief Justice Lamer is the representative of Canada."
As to the Star’s medical strike, that’s nothing; the Citizen sees the surgeons and raises the stakes to a scary new virus.
Meanwhile, the Post reports that, “Canada must launch an urgent national drive to cure the alarming shortage of health care workers such as doctors, nurses and technicians, an advisory panel to governments has concluded.” This, according to Michael Decter.
Speaking of the Post, the goat presents some good poop. RBC’s Gord Nixon had a good year--personally. Hemant Panchpor did not. Who is he?—you might ask.
On Front Street, things are more predictable than they are in Don Mills—at least on Chinese investment:
“It is right for government to demand some form of reciprocity in its dealings with China, and it is good that Mr. Emerson is finally stirring the debate on China's investment intentions and the question of security of supply. While we remain unconvinced that China's business forays pose a risk to Canada, they are a different breed of investment -- one that does not call for barriers, but may require a different set of regulatory tools.”
Also today, the pizzapieman who made Sgro go meets Bernie Shapiro’s lawyers. The Liberals say Conservative Justice critic Vic Toews should resign too.
In Québec, the news is that Jean Charest is not, that’s not, shuffling his cabinet. Gordon Campbell is on the verge of an election, and you can guess what’s in the news out here in addition to the spring-like weather.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Applying a Standard
Ezra Levant was kind enough to invite me to join the fray here at the Western Standard. Just want to throw out a big thank you to Kevin Steel for helping me get set up today.
One drum I love to beat is accountability. Canadians are currently feeling a little angry at one Liberal party over a little question to do with sponsorship.
Canadians are holding the Canadian government accountable and "heads are rolling". On Monday, I was in a crowd of Tories gathered to hear Stephen Harper declare: "We will hold the Liberals accountable!" I would hope that the official opposition is able to hold the governing party accountable and I feel comfortable with Mr. Harper's professed desire and ability to do just that.
I do not feel comfortable with our nation's claim to internationalism. Mr. Martin's December article for the Economist is about the most productive thing he has done on an international level. I feel less comfortable with the United Nations. Not just this Oil-for-Food scam or the disgustingly little they have done in wake of the tsunami disaster (despite the exorbitant funds they have demanded for their lack of services) or with any of the myriad of "small" scandals. The overuse of diplomatic immunity (especially with outrageous things like parking fines and taxes). The sexual abuse and exploitation of women by UN peacekeepers. UN's two faced policy on sexual harassment and abuse. Not to mention the serial crime of apathy that the UN has committed time and time again in Rwanda, Sudan and elsewhere around the world.
And that's just what makes me feel uncomfortable.
The United Nations [supposedly] is an international body where nations resolve their differences and try find ways to improve the general quality of live throughout the entire globe. Yet the United Nations Organization itself is not accountable and it is not transparent. Why would it be? Our country has not taken a active stand in international affairs, preferring to go where the United Nations tells us, when the United Nations tell us. This is not acceptable with any organization with has proved itself apathetic over and over again. This is not acceptable with an organization that's credibility is severely compromised.
Cross posted at Existential Crisis
While Canada continues down the failed path of gun control, absurd, pointless registries and generally trying to socially ostracize firearm owners, Switzerland is taking a far more enlightened approach:
The greatest shooting festival in the world for youngsters takes place every year in Zurich, Switzerland. Imagine thousands of boys and girls shooting military service rifle over three days amid an enormous fair with ferris wheels and wild rides of all kinds. You’re at the Knabenschiessen (boys’ shooting contest).
Held since the year 1657, the competition traditionally has been both a sport and a way of encouraging marksmanship in a country where every male serves in the militia army. Today, girls compete along side the boys. In fact, girls are now winning the competition. [...]
It was a real family affair. Besides watching their older siblings, children aged 8 to 15 competed in air pistol and air rifle events. In air pistol, the guns are supported by vertical braces. Youngsters are coached by more knowledgeable youngsters.
Teaching responsible handling of firearms at a young age sounds like a far better idea than building idiotic registries.
The nanny state, American style
While our governments just legislate and regulate our lives directly with absurd rules like trans-fat bans and mandatory bicycle helmet laws, Americans achieve a very similar result through nuisance lawsuits:
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District has overturned a judge's ruling, which dismissed a notorious 2002 lawsuit blaming McDonald's for the weight of a handful of its customers.
The pared-down case will now return to the trial court judge. Trial lawyers, led by George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf, are planning a wave of lawsuits trying to turn food companies and restaurants into their next cash cow. Banzhaf plans "to sue them and sue them and sue them." Somewhere, he argues, "there is going to be a judge and a jury that will buy this, and once we get the first verdict ... it will open the floodgates."
The sad thing is, Mr. Banzhaf is probably right.
How to live among the grateful dead
I love this quote from last summer in the Christian Science Monitor about the suburbs in Illinois going increasingly Democrat [italics mine]:
The turning point for [Luvie Myers] was the rise of the culture wars. "In the 1980s, those conservative people who spent all their time telling you how to live your life were kind of on the fringe," she says. "Now you feel like the Republican platform has espoused these ideas that to me are institutionalized bigotry. I can't stand it."
Who is telling everybody how to live and where are they doing it? Why heavens, it's the city of Haight-Ashbury where the Grateful Dead once rocked on! (However, the mayor still has to give his approval, but he approves of a lot of stuff so I'd say it's a given.) Reuters: San Francisco Bars Smoking in Its Parks.
Banning smoking in parks still falls short of a new prohibition in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, which last month banned smoking everywhere in public.
Asked if San Francisco might one day move in that direction, Alioto-Pier said: "I think that if any city in the country is a city to ban smoking on sidewalks and stoops it would probably be San Francisco, but we will just have to wait and see."
Swimming Against The Mainstream
Via Powerline, these poll results of Iraqis translated from the Arabic newspaper Alsharq Alausat.
72.4 % of all of those polled said they would participate in the elections.
97% of Iraqis in Kurdistan said they would participate in the elections.
96% of Iraqis in the southern provinces (mainly Shiite areas) said they would participate in the elections.
33% of Iraqis in the central provinces (Sunni Area) said they would participate in the elections.
10% of Iraqis in Central provinces (Sunni Area) said they have not yet made their mind if they were going to vote or not.
62.1% of those polled said that the elections will be neutral and free.
17.8% said elections will not be neutral and free.
66% said that the elections must take place under current circumstances.
53.3% said the security is good in their area..
21.7% said that security was average in their area.
25% said that security was bad in their area.
This is consistant with virtually every report out of Iraq that isn't filtered through the mainstream media's bomb-a-day "escalating violence"
Everyone - the Iraqis, the media, the Coalition forces - are expecting a dramatic surge of violence on the election day, as the insurgents and terrorists put all their resources in a concerted effort to derail the poll. But that hasn't happened yet, so let's wait until Sunday with all the "escalations of violence."
Sisyphean has more.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. ,20016
Dear Concerned Citizen:
Thank you for your recent letter roundly criticizing our treatment of the Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Our administration takes these matters seriously, and your opinion was heard loud and clear in Washington.You'll be pleased to learn that thanks to concerned citizens like you, we are creating a new division of the Terrorist Retraining Program, to be called the "Liberals Accept Responsibility for Killers" program, or LARK for short. In accordance with the guidelines of this new program, we have decided to place one terrorist under your personal care.
Your personal detainee has been selected and scheduled for transportation under heavily armed guard to your residence next Monday. Ali Mohammed Ahmed bin Mahmud (you can just call him Ahmed) is to be cared for pursuant to the standards you personally demanded in your letter of admonishment. It will likely be necessary for you to hire some assistant caretakers. We will conduct weekly inspections to ensure that your standards of care for Ahmed are commensurate with those you so strongly recommended in your letter...
FROM TODAY'S EDITION OF NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, WHERE THE ARTICLES ARE HOTLINKED.
PM's crony had to quit cabinet post in 1994
The Ottawa Citizen stuffs Jack Aubry’s report:
“Prime Minister Paul Martin's first patronage appointee, who critics say should resign after attending a recent Liberal Christmas party, once stepped down from the Newfoundland cabinet after it was learned he accepted a $4,500 cash donation in a paper bag from a company trying to hang on to a lucrative contract with the province.
Opposition critics are calling for Jim Walsh to step down from the Transportation Safety Board for allegedly breaking the ethics code for office holders by attending the partisan event Dec. 15 and sitting at Mr. Martin's table. Last week, Mr. Martin defended his close friend, who headed his leadership campaign in Newfoundland, saying it is "open to question" whether Mr. Walsh's "voluntary" participation at the event is acceptable.
"The fact is -- he is somebody I know and he did go to the event."
Last week, it was said that Mr. Walsh would be returning to his Ottawa office on Monday. However, a spokesman at the board said yesterday that he was not available for comment.”
Yesterday, I had intended to take the day off, but one nuisance after another filled up most of the day. You can read all about it here.
Today, the nuisance is after Macleans' Paul Wells. I'll be taking the other half of my day- off, but I promise to be back with a full review tomorrow.
Or, maybe not.
Several readers e-mailed to say they actually preferred yesterday’s format of less summary and more analysis. If you’ve a view, now’s the time to get it in via email.
At home, Ontarians will soon be allowed to drink like adults Quebecers, and Albertans—well, who knows what’s up with a smoking ban in Ralph’s world.
It was a sad day for Jean Béliveau, as he put his hockey memorabilia up for auction.
Also in Montréal, the Gazoo misspelled “federal Heritage Minister Liza Frulla's name…and regrets the error.” She must have an awful lot of free time on her hands.
As do newspaper editors and editors--particularly the editors of the Star: “A photo caption in yesterday's Toronto Sun neglected to identify the 1939-1945 Star. The Sun apologizes for the oversight.”
Lately, Judy Sgro no doubt also has time to burn. Yesterday, her accuser suffered a blow when his lawyers quit.
Looks like they don’t believe him either, though it didn’t stop the Star from splashing the accusation over its front page and getting the minister's head on a platter—one day before pooh-poohing the whole thing.
Speaking of newspaper ethics, the situation at the one I used to publish must be causing headaches at CanWest headquarters. Hell, it’s only money burning.
Meanwhile, Joe Volpe—the colleague Sgro says pushed her, not the all-dressed pizza to go--denies any link to the pushy pizzapieman—notwithstanding court documents that show he “once intervened in the deportation case,” the National Post reports.
Speaking of that dreaded “n” word that refuses to speak its name, Liberals and Conservatives and Liberals were divided internally and separated geographically as they caucused on same-sex marriage.
The Post’s Anne Dawson reports, “the powerful women's caucus wholeheartedly endorsed the bill and accused Liberal colleagues who are opposed of wanting to follow rather than lead.”
The leader of leaders, Paul Martin, says it was okay for his first patronage appointee, Jim Walsh, to attend the Grit Christmas party--today's top story.
Still, comparing our fiscal fitness to the US deficit, you have to give the man credit for his former incarnation.
Martin, who last year said he’d use the notwithstanding clause in certain circumstances, now says he’d put his job on the line to defend the Charter, of which the notwithstanding clause is Section 33. Go figure.
Moreover, as L. Ian Macdonald points out today—and as I’ve written in the past--Pierre Trudeau himself promised Emmett Cardinal Carter he’d override equality rights if the Court ever struck down the abortion law.
I also wonder how Martin can honestly promise Canadians that polygamy will always be a crime, if he’s not prepared to override judges if ever they decide otherwise. As Jean Chretien used to say, his notwithstanding clause was useful when judges blow it.
Only Jack Layton, it seems, has no conscience on this issue, and he says Paul Martin is playing politics with rights.
One wonders where his dissident members who do have a conscience will hide this time when the bill comes to a vote.
In the Citizen, Susan Riley knows where she stands--with Layton:
“As understandably bitter New Democrats point out, Martin promised in the election to protect the Charter, arguing that "only the Liberals can prevent Harper and his hidden agenda from fundamentally changing our country."
Same-sex couples will win the right to marry, despite Martin's bungling and Harper's opportunism. But that still doesn't fix the appalling mediocrity of Canadian political leadership.”
The Gazette’s Elizabeth Thompson reports that Sujit Choudhry, the “co-drafter of a letter signed by 134 academics blasting Tory leader Stephen Harper's position on same-sex marriages also provided counsel to Prime Minister Paul Martin as he mounted his bid for the leadership of the Liberal Party.” Kind of confirms what I wrote yesterday.
The letter was front page in yesterday's Globe; today, Patrick Monahan—another Martin adviser--says civil unions, brought in by the Socialist government of France that opposed same-sex marriage, are akin to “separate but equal” racial segregation.
By the way, those would be real, red--underwear socialists, not our domesticated variety who tilt at windmills and fight the good fight against trans-fats.
Now, I hate to quarrel with the Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, who aside from being whip smart is a really nice guy.
However, sexual orientation is a closer cousin to gender than to race. And I don’t see him or many other lawyers going on freedom rides or voting registration campaigns against all-girls schools or Canada’s women’s Olympic teams.
I also hate to quarrel with the Globe editorial board, who pan Stephen Harper today for refusing to say he’d use the notwithstanding clause.
I’d simply note that today’s editorial concedes the main point I made yesterday—the “odds” are, but there’s no guarantee, that the Supreme Court would strike down the traditional definition of marriage if Parliament legislated it.
The Toronto Star has yet to concede the point; perhaps its editorialist has a crystal ball, as presumably does Chantal Hébert.
The National Post editorial board says the same-sex bill must protect freedom of religion explicitly, and point to a case now being heard in British Columbia:
” Deborah Chymyshyn and Tracey Smith are not trying to force an unwilling religious official to marry them. But the lesbian couple is trying to force a religious organization to provide its space for their marriage ceremony. Alleging that their booking of a Knights of Columbus hall in Port Coquitlam was cancelled in 2003 after the men's group found out that it was for their wedding reception, the women are now hoping that the tribunal will find they were the victims of discrimination.”
Though same-sex was on all these minds, the really big news yesterday was at the Gomery Inquiry.
Last week, David Dingwall testified he had Warren Kinsella “suggest” that Chuck Guité was the man for the job because he was "universally acclaimed" after the 1995 referendum.
That would be the referendum, by the way, in which their team almost lost the country.
Yesterday, though the Toronto Star’s man didn’t notice, the minister responsible for ensuring that nightmare was never repeated, Stéphane Dion, testified he had no involvement with the sponsorship program. After discovering it in 2001, he found it was useless for national unity.
As yours truly argued in Monday’s Globe, the principal goal of the program was not national unity, but to elect more Liberal MPs in Quebec--a matter that figured prominently in Mr. Chrétien's self-proclaimed legacy when he left office.
Now that he’s gone and feeling the noose tightening around his neck, the spin doctors are in overdrive and Chrétien’s lawyers are demanding that Judge Gomery step aside.
They’ll explain why at Monday’s hearings, though it’s clear their objective is to neuter the Judge in the first instance. and to take it from there. Even seasoned journalists like the Globe’s Campbell Clark are falling for the sucker punch.
We saw the fruits of the Chrétien strategy last week, when the questioning of Dingwall was not led by chief counsel Bernard Roy.
Roy is also being attacked by Chrétien’s lawyer, David Scott, for his service to Brian Mulroney. (Speaking of prime ministerial legacies, the US lumber lobby is contemplating a constitutional challenge to NAFTA.)
I, too, have questioned Roy’s appointment, because of his past association with one of the major figures in the scandal, Marc Lefrançois.
Meanwhile, co-counsel Neil Finkelstein, who is fine in Chrétien’s books, turned in a puff-ball performance questioning Dingwall and Kinsella.
The kick-ass political hack has been tough on Bernard Roy, but is yet to point out that Finkelstein worked in the office of Ontario’s Liberal AG, Ian Scott--the brother of Chrétien lawyer David Scott.
Finkelstein also has worked closely with Chrétien confidants, Eddie Goldenberg and Eric Maldoff, and with Chrétien ally Clyde Wells during the Meech saga.
The Opposition parties are livid about the challenge to Gomery, and there’s talk—en français aussi--of bringing down the government. I’m not sure Stephen Harper has thought this one through.
As Don Martin points out today, it would make no sense to hold Paul Martin accountable if Gomery hangs tough and Chrétien’s lawyers take the matter to the Federal Court.
In that event, we’d likely not see his final report before the next election—though we would have heard all the testimony.
The Opposition—and the Government, assuming it wants answers—must seize the initiative from Chrétien and his legal/spin team.
An alternative they should consider is to demand, in a Commons motion, that Martin refer the challenge to the Supreme Court for an expedited hearing. I'll bet the price of this book that the Court would uphold Gomery's impartiality.
What must be remembered is that he's sitting here as the head of a public inquiry, not in a judicial capacity. He has no mandate to make findings of criminal responsibility, for example.
In the same motion, the Opposition parties should also demand that Martin commit not to call an election before the final report is published.
In these circumstances, it would be wise to suspend Gomery’s work, rather than have Chrétien testify with a sword hanging over the Commissioner’s and counsel’s heads.
IF YOU HAVE TIME, CHECK OUT THESE ARTICLES
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Putting Words in his Mouth
Yesterday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew spoke at the United Nations General Assembly, where they were commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps by Allied forces during WWII. He spoke of defending the rights of all humans who suffer harm because of their race, religion and colour.
This is what Mr. Pettigrew had to say,
"For collective security there must also be collective responsibility. And there can be no indifference to crimes of hate. It is why we have championed the establishment of the international criminal court and international legal instruments such as the conventions on genocide."
But this is what I actually think he meant,
"For collective security there must also be collective responsibility, by this I mean, only if it suits our national interests or if there is a major public outcry over our inaction, will we help. And there can be no indifference to crimes of hate, unless these events take place in Africa, then of course, we do nothing. It is why we have championed the establishment of the international criminal court and international legal instruments such as the conventions on genocide, not that it matters, we'll never put the 'genocide label' on any situation because then we'd be obligated to act, and we don't want that now do we?"
To hear the governments of the world tell it, they would go to any length to stop genocide from taking place and would stop at nothing to protect the rights of all the oppressed in the world. But if that's the case, what happened in Rwanda and the Sudan? Why do world leaders ignore China's human rights abuses so they can secure business contacts?
crossposted to canadiancomment
Iraqi campaign TV ads
Here's a collection of them, with English subtitles (scroll down to number 8). Interesting times -- and more optimistic than you'd think from reading the Western press.
Regretting His Martyrdom
Blacks and women
What do Democrats think of blacks and women? Not much, if they dare to be Republican. Condoleezza Rice, whose qualifications and accomplishments are staggering, was put through a meat-grinder by Democratic Senators Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy.
If I was a Democratic guru, I'd be a little bit nervous about having those two as my Jim Crow wrecking crew. Byrd, a former Klansman who still throws around the word "nigger", and Kennedy, who once took the phrase "dump a girlfriend" a little too literally, are hardly the point-men I'd put on the stop-Rice committee.
Link: NORMAN'S SPECTATOR.
For those of you interested in my little spat with Warren Kinsella--my side of which is posted here in addition to my site--Paul Wells has just jumped into the fray in his blog.
Iraqi elections then and now
We know what the media says about the Iraqi election coming up at the end of January -- it's going to be a mess; it won't be legitimate, because some militant groups are boycotting it; there may be voter fraud. This, despite the fact that fully 7,000 candidates from nearly a hundred parties are contesting it and voter registration is high.