The Shotgun Blog
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Lori Conway: Case study for botched deregulation
Meet Lori Conway, a so-called "energy hopper." A Texan, Conway owes Ambit Energy at least $2,600. Instead of paying the bill, she's switched to another electricity provider, leaving Ambit with no recourse but to take her to court to recover the money she owes.
Apparently, this kind of thing happens all the time, leaving responsible customers to make up the difference.
So how does it happen? If you ran a utility company, would you provide services to Conway, knowing how much she already owes? Or, at least, wouldn't you want a big deposit from her first before turning on the juice?
Well, here's the problem: In Texas, you wouldn't have any way of knowing that Conway owed at least two grand to other electricity providers.
Dave Lieber at the Star-Telegram writes:
"Electricity providers are hampered by state rules that prohibit the creation of a statewide database showing customers’ payment histories. If there were one, providers could see which customers are big risks.
Despite pleas from some providers, the state has not created a rule allowing a statewide database because of concern that it could place anunfair burden on some customers, especially lower-income households."
So the Texas legislature is preventing electricity providers from sharing information with each other, the kind of information that -- in a truly free market -- would allow these companies to decide on a rational basis who they would or would not provide energy to, and how much of a deposit they would charge to bear the risk of doing so.
But there's more:
"Under Texas law, no one can be denied electricity service because of credit or payment history. Providers also cannot charge different rates to customers based on their financial worthiness."
You have to feel bad for the responsible customers who pay their bills on time. They end up paying more because people like Lori Conway feel like getting electricity for free.
Hug a capitalist worker this Labour Day
In a press release on Friday, Minister of Labour Jean Pierre Blackburn said “Labour Day provides an opportunity to praise all the men and women who generate the wealth of our nation."
But rather than taking the opportunity to “praise all the men and women who generate the wealth of our nation,” our September 1st annual celebration is too often used as an opportunity to praise socialism and the political class.
Case in point: Stephen Hunt, a director with the Steelworkers union, wrote “There would have been no Labour Day without the presence of trade unions in our country....In Western Canada, let’s celebrate the fact that we do have a loyal political ally in every province and Territory – the New Democratic Party – to join us in celebration....There’s nothing that Stephen Harper would rather do, if he gains a majority, than push through numerous policies that are destructive to working people.”
Of course, labour unions like the Steelworkers don’t represent non-unionized workers who trade their labour freely, and the NDP don’t represent hard working capitalists who struggle everyday to overcome the burden of government exploitation in order to create the “wealth of our nation” of which Minister Blackburn speaks.
As for Harper, while he has burdened working people with the biggest government in Canadian history, it is unlikely that this burden would be less onerous under the NDP, although anything is possible.
I wrote recently about “the ongoing international class struggle between the political class (tax consumers) and the working class (taxpayers)” in a post titled “Bureaucrat running dogs take a bigger bite.” I argue that the Marxist notion of class conflict is essentially correct, but that the struggle is not between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. It is between those who create wealth and those who live off the wealth created by others. It is a conflict between the working class (which includes capitalists) and the political class (which very often includes labour unions that extort wealth from the private sector using exploitive labour laws, not to mention forced union dues).
Labour Day properly belongs to private sector workers and their capitalist brothers and sisters and not to the political class and their anti-capitalist friends in Big Labour who, in fact, create no wealth at all.
So don’t forget to hug a capitalist worker this Labour Day.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Is Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin a libertarian?
“Sarah Palin has long been considered to be a libertarian-leaning Republican. As Mayor of Wasila (Anchorage suburb), Palin was friends with local libertarian Republican elected officials, and worked closely with them on tax cut proposals.
“She is known to have spoken to two Libertarian Party meetings in 2004/05. She was endorsed by the Libertarian Party of Alaska in the final days of her race for Governor in 2006, even though the LP had it’s [sic] own candidate. On election night, Ms. Palin at the Egan Center, went out of her way to acknowledge the Libertarian Party’s support in her victory speech.” -- Eric Dondero, Libertarian Republican blog
“Governor Palin was not endorsed by the RLC in 2006, but is somewhat allied with libertarian Republicans in Alaska. The RLC recently endorsed her closely allied Lt. Governor, Sean Parnell, in his race against Don ‘Pork-barrel’ Young, a race in which the results are too close to call at this time.
“McCain’s choice is an indicator that perhaps his campaign is interested in receiving votes from libertarian Republicans.” – Aaron, Republican Liberty Caucus
“For Republican nominee John McCain, there are a numerous potential political downsides and upsides to choosing a relative unknown for VP. But stepping outside the horserace aspects of 2008, Palin is the most libertarian Republican that’s been on a major ticket for a long time. This ideological storyline should appeal to many Western voters.” – David Harsanyi, Denver Post blog
“I found myself falling in love with Sarah Palin. Any Libertarian has to love a woman who said no to pork she was being spoon-fed, who took on the Good Old Boys and won, who is a lifetime NRA member, and who gave back "excess" state revenue. And I found myself-- not crying this time-- but at least getting goosebumps. History again. More cracks in the glass ceiling. You have to love it.” -- John Wingspread Howell, Nolan Chart
And here’s a detractor...
“She's not a libertarian folks. She's a ‘conservative Republican.’ She's a pro-war, pro-tyranny, and anti-freedom vice presidential pick. There's nothing consistently libertarian about her.” -- Todd Andrew Barnett, Let Liberty Ring blog
And here’s a little something for the pro-lifers...
“This development is so radically unexpected that it is hard to understand how it could have happened, but I gather all solidly pro-life Americans are thrilled beyond measure about it. I just saw Pat Buchanan on NBC's Hardball go on and on with such enthusiasm I thought he was going to have a stroke. That is how excited Palin has made social conservative Americans.” -- Steve Jalsevac, LifeSiteNews.com
Commander-in-Chief announces the creation of a new military medal: Sacrifice Medal
Michaëlle Jean, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, announce that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II approved the creation of the Sacrifice Medal. The medal will be awarded to military personnel, members of allied forces or Canadian civilians working under the authority of the Canadian Forces, who suffered wounds or death caused by hostile action, on or after October 7, 2001, the start of the war in Afghanistan.
“Our soldiers deserve our utmost respect and deepest gratitude,” said the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada. “This medal recognizes the valued contribution of those who sacrificed their health or their lives while serving Canada.”
“It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.” – Ayn Rand (1905 – 1980)
Feds “invests” $20 million to stop the unregulated trade in tobacco: Natives and the smoking poor disproportionately affected
When health related news is released by the Minister of National Revenue, you can be quite sure that revenue, and not health, is what is really at issue.
National Revenue Minister Gordon O'Connor today announced a $20 million “investment” over the next four years to “combat contraband tobacco and its damaging effects on the health of Canadians.”
Since contraband tobacco has no more “damaging effects on the health of Canadians” than taxed and regulated tobacco, my guess is that the “damaging effects” are on government revenues.
On July 31, Minister O'Connor announced that that he and the provinces had come to a settlement concerning tobacco smuggling. Imperial Tobacco and Rothmans, Benson & Hedges were forced to pay $1.15 billion to the governments in fines and civil settlements for their role in “aiding persons to sell or be in possession of tobacco products manufactured in Canada that were not packaged and were not stamped in conformity with the Excise Act and its amendments and the ministerial regulations,” between 1989 and 1994.
Yes, that’s right, tobacco companies were found guilty of selling tobacco without giving Gordon "Mad Dog" O'Connor and the Capital Hill gang a taste of the action.
This $20 million announcement is intended to put an end to this kind of unregulated commerce.
O'Connor said “Contraband tobacco negatively affects all Canadians and our Government is determined to fight the problem.”
But contraband tobacco doesn’t negatively affect all Canadians. In fact, it positively affects low income smokers who can spend significantly less on tobacco and, thereby, spend significantly more on other priorities.
In his column “Support Native resistance,” libertarian scholar Pierre Lemieux wrote:
Cigarettes manufactured and sold on Native reserves are priced as low as $6 per carton. This compares to more than $65 elsewhere in the country, the outrageous legal prices being due to federal and provincial taxes....
It is thanks to the Natives that five or ten per cent of the population can purchase affordable cigarettes and that the smokers of legal cigarettes are not taxed even more....the Natives are helping to satisfy...consumer demands.
This Conservative crackdown on unregulated tobacco commerce is an attack on Natives and the smoking poor -- and it's a misallocation of law enforcement resources.
Barack Obama is a snob, and why that's good for blacks
This picture is making the rounds:
And The Onion News Network is reporting on how Obama's image as an "out-of-touch elitist snob" is good for African-Americans:
Video of McCain and Palin in Dayton
Skip ahead to 9 minutes or so to get right to Palin's speech, although McCain's introduction isn't bad. He's a lot more vigorous in this appearance than he's been on other occasions.
Palin is extremely likable. And her oldest son is in the army (he even enlisted on September 11th! -- of last year, anyway.) All her kids have kooky names (Track, Piper, Willow, Trig, etc.) That's not a bad thing at all.
The liberals who are claiming Republican men would never vote for a ticket with a woman on it don't know what they're talking about.
Palin: “It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.“ Heh. Not bad at all.
Now this is what we call irony
On the day John McCain picks Alaska Governor Sarah "hockey mom" Palin as his running mate, the American blogger sails into the wind by blogging about - Canada's upcoming election.
I'm fairly certain Canada will have an election now, and here's why: the latest CROP poll put the Conservatives ahead of the Bloc Quebecois in La Belle Province (Cyberpresse - in French - and Paul Wells - not in French). This would be the first poll I have ever seen (and I've been following them for about 10 years) that has anyone besides the Bloc in first place (although the Chretien Liberals did win the popular vote there in 2000). Harper will simply be following D.J. McGuire's one and only law of Canadian politics: It's all about Quebec.
Breaking the numbers down (according to Wellsy) the Conservatives basically own Quebec City, are withing striking distance of the Bloc in the rural areas and - get this - are in a three-way stat ties with the Grits and the Bloc in the Montreal area.
Given the Libs' strength on the west side of Montreal isle and the Bloc's strength on the east side, that basically means the Conservatives could actually win some seats in the suburbs over there.
SH has a historic opportunity to establish the Tories as the lead party - not just the lead federalist party, the lead party period - in the Q. Moreover, as the campaign progresses and word spreads of the Conservative position, federalist-first voters in Quebec and Ontario will switch over (especially in said rural Quebec ridings).
Cynics would call this crass opportunism. Non-cynics (and count me among them on this) would say it's a historic chance to knock the Bloc out of the top spot in Quebec and put it on the fast track to oblivion. Either way, even if he doesn't get a majority out of this, Harper can come away with a much stronger minority at worst (assuming the campaign goes alright) and could turn Quebec into the Conservatives' eastern base.
He'd be a fool to pass this up, and Stephen Harper is no fool.
McCain is going to pick Sarah Palin
That's what I've been predicting on the radio for the last two weeks. Now the rumors are swirling.
Jill Zuckman with the Chicago Tribune's Washington Bureau cites an unnamed Republican source naming Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, as McCain's choice for vice president. The Associated Press has a similar report.
McCain is in Dayton right now where he is expected to announce his choice today at a rally.
I think Palin would be an excellent pick. From what I've read, the former beauty queen is staunchly pro-life and very popular in Alaska. While she has not been governor long, the 44-year-old has at least as much executive experience as Obama. In addition, the fact that she's from Alaska should give McCain further credibility if/when he changes his mind about drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Alaskans overwhelmingly support opening ANWR to drilling (consistently about 70 percent, according to the poll discussed here.)
Then there's the fact that picking a woman as his VP might allow McCain to siphon off additional disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters.
As for flaws, Palin is involved in a teeny tiny non-scandal involving her former brother-in-law, a state trooper. I have a feeling this is not going to be an issue, should McCain make her his choice. For one thing, the brother-in-law seems to be something of a violent mad dog, and hardly a sympathetic character.
We shall see. McCain might still pick Mitt Romney and prove me wrong.
CNN has learned from a "senior McCain campaign official" that it's going to be Palin. CNN's report also has other interesting information about the governor.
Here's a picture of Sarah Palin. I think she's really cute.
What the heck, another UPDATE:
Some people just made a chunk of money on Intrade. Palin's contract on Intrade -- a service that lets you buy and sell "shares" in future events -- never went higher than 20 dollars. Prior to today, it was running between 4 and 6 dollars. It's now up to 96.
You know, the next time I make a prediction, I should really put some money down. Grr!
Meanwhile, McCain's contract for winning the election on Intrade just shot up a few points, to 42. Obama's is still running much higher, though. The market seems to be saying that Palin was a good pick, but Obama is still going to win the election.
Was Beijing's Olympic model Montreal?
I know I'm in the minority in my analysis that the Olympic Games were a failure for the regime, but based on the latest news that the tourist dollars just didn't show had me thinking about the Montreal Games in 1976.
I was too young to remember the Games themselves, but the legend of a city bankrupting itself over them lasted for years afterwards. Did Montreal really get whacked as badly by the Olympics as the legend goes? Or was it myth? I'm curious to know.
The Stonechild “Stink Test”
The Stonechild “Stink Test”
By Candis McLean & Cst. Larry Lockwood (retired)
Applying the “Stink Test” to the Stonechild inquiry reveals something rotten in the province of Saskatchewan.
The Saskatchewan justice system has offered up two more Saskatoon police officers in what some see as an attempt to appease aboriginal activists with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations who are lobbying for their own justice system. Two appeal decisions were handed down this summer, both going against former Saskatoon constables Larry Hartwig and Brad Senger. On June 20th, a Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled it would not quash a judge’s findings in the 2004 inquiry into the 1990 freezing death of Saskatoon aboriginal youth, Neil Stonechild. The judge at the inquiry had found that the officers had Stonechild in their custody the night he went missing; the officers have always denied this, and believe the judge acted outside the inquiry’s terms of reference in making that finding. On July 28th, in a separate decision, the Saskatchewan Police Commission upheld the Saskatoon police chief’s decision, based on the inquiry, to fire the officers….
Csts. Hartwig and Senger were both fired from their jobs as a direct result of the Stonechild Inquiry, with both officers having been branded in the public eye as murderers. No charges have ever been brought against these officers in a court of law which would permit them to clear their names, and here we are, some six years later, with the lives of these officers and their families destroyed by a process that was neither fair nor impartial, based on the false assumption that Stonechild was in police custody the night he went missing….
Read the “The Stonechild ‘Stink Test’” here.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
MSNBC DNC coverage is a disaster
You have to watch these two videos. MSNBC is coming apart at the seams, with Keith Olbermann, Joe Scarborough, and Chris Matthews at each other's throat, and at other people's throats.
First, Olbermann takes on Scarborough:
Then Scarborough rips into his guests:
UPDATE: More total nuttiness at MSNBC! (h/t HuffPo) How can this kind of stuff not generate more viewers? I'd be watching nothing but MSNBC with these shenanigans going on, if I had cable. People will be fired. Probably Joe Scarborough, but maybe others. Watch:
And then watch the video of Olbermann saying "wrap him up" to Chris Matthews about Mike Murphy on HuffPo (no embed code).
The Daily Show is having a good time with MSNBC:
Also, no one can believe what Olbermann is getting away with. But he gets ratings. Which is why I don't think he'll get fired after this is over.
John McCain vs. Time magazine
John McCain was interviewed by Time magazine. They've titled it "McCain's prickly Time interview," but that doesn't really do justice to the awkward and difficult time the interviewer has in drawing out anything--anything--from a one-sentence-answer McCain.
Since you can listen to the interview, you can really get a sense of the interviewer trying really, really hard to get a conversation started that might lead to some interesting insights about McCain. But McCain is having none of it.
"There's a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both
about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could
define honor for us?
Read it in my books.
I've read your books.
No, I'm not going to define it.
But honor in politics?
I defined it in five books. Read my books.
[Your] campaign today is more disciplined, more traditional, more aggressive. From your point of view, why the change?
I will do as much as we possibly can do to provide as much access to the press as possible.
But beyond the press, sir, just in terms of ...
I think we're running a fine campaign, and this is where we are.
Do you miss the old way of
I don't know what you're talking about.
Really? Come on, Senator.
I'll provide as much access as possible ...
In 2000, after the primaries, you went back to South Carolina to
talk about what you felt was a mistake you had made on the Confederate
flag. Is there anything so far about this campaign that you wish you
could take back or you might revisit when it's over?
[Does not answer.]
Do I know you? [Says with a laugh.]
[Long pause.] I'm very happy with the way our campaign has been conducted, and I am very pleased and humbled to have the nomination of the Republican Party."
Libertarian Party leader will challenge Stephen Harper in Calgary Southwest
Since his first interview after being elected leader of the Libertarian Party, Dennis Young has set his sights on Stephen Harper’s record in office. On issues as diverse as the war in Afghanistan, marijuana law reform, corporate welfare and Ezra Levant’s high profile campaign against the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Young has contrast his party’s policies against the record of the Conservative government.
The Western Standard has now learned that Young plans to take his attack directly to Stephen Harper by running against the Prime Minister in his Calgary Southwest riding.
“I’ve been working to show Canadians who believe in personal and economic freedom that Harper and the Conservatives do not share their core beliefs," said Young. “I can’t think of a better way to do that than to take the Libertarian Party message directly to the constituents of Calgary Southwest.”
In the 2006 federal election, Harper won the Calgary riding with 72 per cent of the vote, but that huge majority doesn’t concern Young. “Harper won by convincing the constituents of Calgary Southwest that he believes in small government and fiscal responsibility,” said Young. “When Calgarians are presented with facts to the contrary, and when they are presented with a clear alternative to the biggest spending government in Canadian history, I think voters will rethink their loyalty.”
Calgary Southwest voters did, in fact, rethink their loyalties in the 1993 federal election, replacing Progressive Conservative incumbent James Hawkes with none other than Reform Party candidate Stephen Harper.
“Calgary Southwest voters punished the Conservatives in the past for abandoning the principles of limited government and constitutional equality. They took a chance on the Reform Party and Stephen Harper. Now it’s Harper who’s the out-of-touch Ottawa insider, and who has to answer my questions about why he saw fit to expand the size of government when he took over from the Liberals. I don’t think his excuses are going work any better than Mulroney’s,” said Young.
While Young says his party is not ready to release its official national platform, he has announced that the campaign slogan will be “Trusting Canadians with Choice.”
“Our message is that the Libertarian Party trusts adult Canadians with their own freedom and choices. We believe in the basic decency and common sense of average citizens and think they can be trusted to manage their own affairs and make their own choices without the interference of government,” said Young. “People will make bad choices from time to time, but that’s all part of what it means to be truly free. We need laws to protect people from the aggressive acts of others, not laws that protect people from themselves.”
The Libertarian Party plans to release its national platform in early September.
Bob Barr campaign cries foul over Texas Secretary of State "finding" the nomination papers
Yesterday, I posted about Bob Barr being the only presidential candidate officially on the ballot in Texas. Today, Shane Cory, Deputy Campaign Manager for the Barr campaign, sent the following email:
"As it stands now, Bob Barr is the Lone Candidate in the Lone Star State.
As the filing deadline passed this week, Bob Barr was the only presidential candidate legally certified on the ballot in Texas.
The new Texas law is clear:
A political party is entitled to have the names of its nominees for president and vice-president of the United States placed on the ballot in a presidential general election if . . . before 5 p.m. of the 70th day before presidential election day, the party's state chair signs and delivers to the secretary of state a written certification of the names of the party's nominees for president and vice-president . . .
Given that the deadline passed on Tuesday, Senator Obama was nominated on Wednesday, and Senator McCain has not even announced his selection for Vice President, the Republican and Democrat parties in Texas were technically unable to certify their candidates by the deadline.
However, I have a sneaking suspicion that the ballot situation in Texas will magically correct itself.
Since we sent out our release yesterday regarding Bob being the only presidential candidate certified in Texas, a spokeswoman for the Texas Secretary of State's office stated that, "Upon further checking, both parties filed before the deadline. We expect their amended filings after both parties finish their nominating process at the conventions."
Upon further checking . . .
Hmmm . . .
As it turns out, upon further checking , we were able to collect 10,000 more signatures in West Virginia a few days after that early deadline passed.
Upon further checking, we found that ballot substitution is permitted in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
Also, upon further checking, we found that Maine stopped accepting our petitions a week earlier than they had done in the past.
Not to mention that, upon further checking, we do object to the state of New Hampshire insisting that two libertarian candidates for president be listed on the ballot.
Finally, upon further checking, we found that the signature thresholds in Oklahoma are a bit too high.
Will our diligence pay off for us in West Virginia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine and Oklahoma where we have active interests?
Do you think that John McCain and Barack Obama's names will eventually be printed on the ballot in Texas?
I would be willing to make an educated guess and say that we're going to have to fight our hearts out to get on the ballot in the states above while the Republican and Democrat candidates won't have to lift a finger to secure their place on the Texas ballot.
. . . that is unless we make a stand in Texas.
And that's exactly what we're going to do.
This situation in Texas is a perfect opportunity to highlight the double standard that exists in our nation.
Over the past several decades, Libertarians have spent millions of dollars, filed countless numbers of lawsuits while being sued countless numbers of times over their right to be on the ballot. Thousands of people have put in their time, energy, earnings and passion in an effort that, in the end, simply allows a voter to see a candidate's name printed on the ballot.
Throughout every battle that we engage in each election season, we must dot every "I" and cross every "T" or face the consequences of failure for our ballot drives.
Even when we follow the letter of the law, as we did in Pennsylvania, we still face challenges that drain our financial resources and strain our staff.
Should we give Barack Obama and John McCain a pass in Texas and look the other way? Would they do that for us?
. . . I don't think so.
If John McCain and Barack Obama want to bend the rules to get on the ballot in Texas, they're going to do it with the Barr Campaign and tens of thousands supporters looking on and scrutinizing their every move."
ELFs and ALFs strike again
Canada's most persistent domestic terrorists have struck again, this time in B.C.'s Fraser Valley.
See also my Western Standard story of two years ago, describing how these outlaws had spent the summer running riot in Ontario.
Democrats throw flags in the trash?
"The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise."
"The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way."
"The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."
Well, at least the Democrats didn't toss the flag in with a bunch of candy wrappers, greasy discarded pizza boxes, torn up Obama signs, and empty water bottles, right?
More pictures here.
I thought only economies in trouble needed "stimulus packages"?
So why is Communist China getting one? Could it be that their economy is not really the white-hot juggernaut the cadres have claimed it is?
Western Standard exclusive: Investigative reporter and documentary film maker exposes the ongoing injustice of the Stonechild case
In February 2000, 25-year-old Jason Roy contacted the Saskatoon StarPhoenix to report the results of his “visualization exercise” nine years early in 1991, during which he claims he remembered seeing Neil Stonechild in a police cruiser the night before the aboriginal youth was found frozen to death in 1990.
On Friday, August 29th, investigative reporter and documentary film maker Candis McLean will reveal, exclusively for Western Standard readers, a report on how this unsubstantiated, decade-old personal account of the Stonechild incident from Roy, a juvenile delinquent who was admittedly drunk at the time, destroyed the careers of two Saskatoon cops.
Speaking out for the first time, former Saskatoon police chief Dave Scott is calling the Stonechild case “the biggest injustice ever perpetrated in this province.”
McLean first covered the Stonechild case for the Western Standard in December 2004 in “Case (not) closed.” In June, the Stonechild case was in the news again when the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal dismissed an application to throw out the results of the public inquiry into the freezing death of Stonechild. The two police officers implicated in the death had sought to quash Justice Wright’s conclusions about their role, saying it was outside the scope of the investigation. Larry Hartwig and Brad Senger were fired from the Saskatoon Police Service after the inquiry's report was released.
Some legal and law enforcement experts believe “Justice Wright…chose to overstep the boundaries of his mandate and to draw conclusions he was not entitled to draw.” They also question the evidence used to build a case against Hartwig and Senger in this highly charged political inquiry.
Don’t miss “The Stonechild stink test” investigative report by Candis McLean and retired Saskatoon Police Service Cst. Larry Lockwood.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Al & Mike Show Episode 35 - Election!
Jay Currie is filling in for Al. It's all election speculation.
Subscribe to RSS: Click here for podcast RSS feed.
Subscribe in iTunes for your iPod: Click here (Must have iTunes installed)
Is anyone surprised by North Korea anymore?
North Korea is one of those international problems that no one knows how to fix and everyone hopes will go away by itself. What is the problem? Basically the root of the difficulty is that North Korea is not a rational actor on the world stage. The entirety of their foreign policy is about keeping the present regime in power, and the people can eat cake.
Recently, Pyongyang has declared that they will stop disabling their nuclear facilities and
possibly reopen their weapon grade capability. And why shouldn’t they? Every
time they do this they end up getting exactly or close to what they want. Even China
The North Korean government can handle the isolation from the outside world. It keeps their population ignorant and on the verge of starvation. Such a population is easier to control than if they had access to dangerous ideas. So they can afford to piss everyone off like no one else. They simply don’t care.
At the same time what are the options from the point of view
of the United States, or China
There is not much that the world can do. They can’t invade a country with the fourth largest military, and sanctions are useless. Isolating them diplomatically hasn’t worked and giving into their demands has been a complete failure. You can’t negotiate with someone who will break their deal in a couple of months.
The only hope is that the whole issue goes away when Kim Jong-il dies, but even that is assuming that the problem doesn’t go deeper than the present leadership.
ABC News reporter, Asa Eslocker, arrested in Denver
From ABC News:
"Police in Denver arrested an ABC News producer today as he and a camera
crew were attempting to take pictures on a public sidewalk of
Democratic senators and VIP donors leaving a private meeting at the
Brown Palace Hotel."
"A police official later told lawyers for ABC News that Eslocker is being charged with trespass, interference, and failure to follow a lawful order. He also said the arrest followed a signed complaint from the Brown Palace Hotel."
Watch video of the arrest here.
Continuing coverage of attack ads: This time, Obama rips into McCain
One after another, the Democrats and Republicans are determined to issue all and only attack ads. The McCain ads have been devastating, mocking Obama as "the one" and making all kinds of religious allegories. Obama's ads have constantly pressed the similarities between McCain and George W. Bush, and have made a lot out of all those McCain houses that McCain doesn't know he owns.
Continuing this trend of staying in the gutter is this latest Obama ad attacking McCain's knowledge of economics. It's pretty effective:
Hilary Clinton PUMA's don't so much growl as, uhm, cry
Further to your post, Terrence, check out this ridiculous video of a Hilary Clinton supporter:
Hillary Clinton supporters angry about Biden and still not warming to Obama
Some of them have taken to calling themselves PUMAs. The acronym stands for "Party Unity My A**". They don't like Democratic nominee Barack Obama and some of them are even planning to vote for John McCain, even appearing in his campaign ads, as previously discussed here.
A Washington Post poll indicates that only 42 percent of Clinton voters are "solidly behind" Obama. And the choice of Joe Biden as VP hasn't really improved the situation, especially among women. According to another poll, only a third of women thought Biden was the right choice for Obama's Vice President.
Feminists have pointed out that on the very first day after accepting the position, Biden made an arguably sexist remark about his own wife:
"Ladies and Gentleman, my wife Jill who you will meet soon and who is drop dead gorgeous. (Laughter) My wife Jill, who you will meet soon. She also has her doctorate degree which is a problem. (Laughter) But all kidding aside, my Jill, my Jill, my wife Jill and I are honored to join Barack and Michelle on this journey. Because that is what it is. It's a journey."
For further evidence that Clinton supporters at the highest levels are not happy, take a look at this picture of James Carville, Bill Clinton's campaign strategist, from the Democratic Convention.
What's that he's wearing on his feet? Could those be.. pumas?
Uhm... Bob Barr only presidential candidate on Texas ballot?
The Democrats and Republicans have missed the filing deadline for getting on the ballot in Texas. Here's a Bob Barr press release:
Bob Barr is slated to be the only presidential candidate on the ballot
in Texas after Republicans and Democrats missed the Aug. 26 deadline to
file in the state.
"Unless the state of Texas violates their own election laws, Congressman Barr will be the only presidential candidate on the ballot," says Russell Verney, campaign manager for the Barr Campaign and the former campaign manager for Ross Perot. "Texas law makes no exceptions for missing deadlines."
The Texas Secretary of State Web site shows only Bob Barr as the official candidate for president in Texas.
"We know all about deadlines," says Verney. "We are up against them constantly in our fight to get on the ballot across the nation. When we miss deadlines, we get no second chances. This is a great example of how unreasonable deadlines chill democracy."
"Republicans and Democrats make certain that third party candidates are held to ballot access laws, no matter how absurd or unreasonable," says Verney. "Therefore, Republicans and Democrats should be held to the same standards."
UPDATE: According to Ballot Access News:
"Section 192.031 of the Texas election code says that political parties must certify their presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the November ballot no later than 70 days before the general election. It says, “A political party is entitled to have the names of its nominees for president and vice-president placed on the ballot if before 5 p.m. of the 70th day before presidential election day, the party’s state chair signs and delivers to the secretary of state a written certification of the name’s of the party’s nominees for president and vice-president.”
This year, that deadline is August 26. UPDATE: At 2:30 pm Texas time, August 27, Kim Kizer of the Texas Secretary of State’s elections division says neither major party’s certification has been received in the Elections Division. The Executive Office of the Secretary of State refers all questions back to the Elections Division.
This year, neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party obeyed this law."
"This year, the Texas Libertarian Party and Bob Barr are the only
ballot-listed presidential candidates on the Texas ballot, so the Texas
Libertarian Party could, if it wished, bring a lawsuit. However, the
result of the lawsuit would probably be to get the deadline declared
unconstitutional; no court would order that Obama and McCain be kept
off the ballot."
UPDATE2: Welcome FARKers. To read comments on this story on FARK, go here (but do feel encouraged to double-post your comments both here and at FARK.)
UPDATE3: PoliTex, the political blog of the Texas-based Star-Telegram, reports:
"Texas Secretary of State spokesperson Ashley Burton said that upon further checking, "Both parties filed before the deadline. We expect their amended filings after both parties finish their nominating process at the conventions." Texas law, changed in 2005, requires that the parties submit their candidates names 70 days before the election. Problem is, neither party has gotten through their nominating process. The Texas Republican Party listed John McCain and "running mate" as their candidates, with an amended certification after the GOP convention in St. Paul. Obama and Biden will be certified after the Democratic Convention"
Ron Paul's "Campaign for Liberty" is all over Minneapolis
Texas Congressman Ron Paul, a former presidential contender for the Republican Party, is busy organizing the "Campaign for Liberty," a new movement to build on what was popularly called the "Ron Paul R3voLution" (that's "LOVE" spelled backwards in Revolution).
The first big event to jump-start the Campaign is a Rally for the Republic taking place from August 31 to September 2 in Minneapolis during the Republican National Convention. We've covered the Rally previously. In anticipation of the Rally, Ron Paul fans have taken out billboards and other advertisements to promote the Campaign for Liberty.
Dubbed "Operation St. Paul," the goal was to raise funds and compile possible ads to place all over Minneapolis during the RNC. They have been successful. Here are a few images of the billboards and the "high tide" video (to view it, follow this link) that is now playing at the Mall of America:
Canada's top 25, now aggregated
Robert is responsible for compiling and publishing the monthly list. Two months ago, Robert decided that the Shotgun blog should be assessed for possible inclusion. We entered the charts at number 13, and this month sit in the top 10 at number nine.
The aggregator differs from many others. It aggregates blog posts from across the political and cultural spectrum. It is likely that it will change regularly from month to month, as blogs enter and leave the Top 25. It is far from an echo chamber.
I'll be checking it out on a regular basis. Thanks for putting it together, Robert.
And now for something really different: Michelle Malkin gets accosted by shock-jock Alex Jones
(h/t A Dime a Dozen)
New Guinness World Record Sign: "Destroys uNborn Children"
The American Right to Life has successfully put together the world's largest protest sign at the DNC convention. Their sign reads "Destroys uNborn Children." Here's Fox News on the story:
Open letter from Libby Davies to Tony Clement on harm reduction
August 21, 2008
Hon. Tony Clement
Minister of Health
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Dear Minister Clement,
I am writing to express my grave concern regarding your misleading and irresponsible attacks on harm reduction and Vancouver's InSite supervised injection site at the recent World Health Organization XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City and again at the 2008 Canadian Medical Association conference in Montreal.
At both of these conferences, you persisted in representing harm reduction and drug rehabilitation/treatment as two mutually exclusive, alternative approaches to problems associated with drug addiction. As has been explained to you on numerous occasions by health researchers, medical professionals, drug treatment experts and others, this is an entirely false dichotomy. Harm reduction is one component of a comprehensive "Four Pillar" approach, which also includes prevention, treatment and law enforcement. Low-threshold programs, such as supervised injection sites are essential in the Four Pillars approach for reducing overdose deaths and the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, and also for drawing hard-to-reach users into treatment and rehabilitation. Harm reduction is part of a continuum of care that includes treatment and prevention, and the only voices in Canada portraying it as a 'substitute' are you and your government.
Unfortunately, your recent comments in Mexico City and Montreal are only the latest episodes in a well-established pattern of putting ideology and partisan politics ahead of rational public policy on this issue.
The Conservative government's National Anti-Drug Strategy has essentially abandoned the Four Pillars approach for a "One Pillar," US-style "war in drugs" that puts almost all resources into law enforcement. As of 2007, law enforcement accounted for an overwhelming 73% of spending in the National Anti-Drug Strategy, while treatment only received 14%, research just 7% and prevention and harm reduction a pitiful 2.6% each.
The Conservative government delayed a decision on the status of InSite for more than two years, claiming more research needed to be done. Now the research has been done, and it is absolutely clear. More than 20 peer-reviewed studies by internationally recognized researchers have demonstrated the health, safety and cost benefits of InSite. Even the criminologist hired by the government to evaluate the existing research said that InSite contributes to public order and saves lives. The response from the government in the face of this overwhelmingly favourable body of research was that the decision on InSite would not be based on scientific evidence alone.
At the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, you called supervised injection sites "harm addition," contradicting the official policy developed by the World Health Organization in conjunction with the world's leading addiction and health researchers.
At the 2008 Canadian Medical Association conference, you attacked the CMA's support for InSite and harm reduction generally, even going so far as to question the ethics of the 80% of Canadian doctors who support supervised injection sites.
Given the weight of evidence and the time that you and your government have had to digest it, I can only conclude that this continuing opposition to the Four Pillars approach is not because of an honest lack of comprehension, but is instead driven by the partisan political concerns of the Conservative Party. At a time when a comprehensive approach to the problem of drug addiction is so desperately needed, it is frustrating that you and your party have chosen cheap partisan political games over rational, evidence-based public policy.
My concern about your statements is compounded by your party's recent use of public money to mail leaflets containing dehumanizing language into East Vancouver and other communities across Canada. People with addictions are amongst the most desperate and vulnerable in our society, and referring to them as "junkies" is simply bullying and has no legitimate place in public discourse. While your party was clearly attempting to fear-monger and appeal to people's safety and security concerns, the Conservative Party has instead simply displayed the mean spiritedness and lack of compassion that underlies so many of its policies. Will future Conservative Party leaflets begin referring to Canadians with mental illnesses as "nutcases"? Or maybe call people with physical disabilities people "cripples"? Canadians have moved beyond this sort of stigmatization and dehumanization of vulnerable and ill people. I have received numerous letters and phone calls from constituents and people across Canada outraged by this mailing.
Based on the above concerns, I strongly urge you and your government to take the following actions:
1.Abandon the time and money-wasting appeal of the BC Supreme Court's Decision on InSite, and start work on implementing a well-funded, comprehensive, evidence based and effective Four Pillars strategy for dealing with drug addiction. This government must recognize that harm reduction programs like InSite are a necessary component of a broader strategy that includes prevention, treatment and enforcement.
2.Commit to basing drug policy decisions on scientific evidence and the informed opinion of the mainstream medical and research communities.
History is full of tragic examples of governments and other institutions ignoring evidence because of ideological bias and short-term political concerns. In the case of drug policy in Canada, the price of Conservative ideological purity and political partisanship will be paid in lives ruined and lost. That's too high a price to pay for political games.
3. Respect, support and strengthen effective, locally developed initiatives dealing with addiction related issues. InSite grew out of the experience of groups and individuals working on the frontline of Vancouver's health and poverty crisis. There is broad community consensus in support of the project, including local residents, community groups, social service providers, businesses, law enforcement officers, municipal and provincial politicians, and people coping with addiction themselves. Your government's efforts to disregard the will of the community on this issue shows arrogance and poor judgement.
4. Stop wasting public money distributing dehumanizing, fear-mongering material on this issue to Canadians. Instead, Canadians need access to realistic information on addiction related issues, both to inform public policy and for use in prevention and harm reduction campaigns. This issue is far too important to be manipulated for cheap, partisan political purposes.
I look forward to your reply on this serious matter.
Libby Davies, MP (Vancouver East)
NDP Spokesperson for Drug Policy Reform
Jack Layton MP, NDP Leader
Judy Wasylycia-Leis MP, NDP Health Critic Joe Comartin MP, NDP Justice Critic
Why not recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia?
David Emerson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, issued a statement yesterday on the situation in Georgia:
“Canada is gravely concerned about Russia’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This recognition violates Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and is contrary to UN Security Council resolutions supported by Russia, as well as to the six-point peace plan brokered by President Nicolas Sarkozy on behalf of the EU.”
Putting aside the issue of Russia’s broken promise to Sarkozy, the EU and the UN Security Council, which is no doubt serious, what is wrong with recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Do people not have the right to democratically secede?
South Ossetia voted twice to secede from Georgia, once in 1992 and again in 2006.
The People's Assembly of Abkhazia passed a resolution in 2006 calling upon Russia to recognize Abkhaz as an independent state after declaring its independence in 1992.
No nation has a permanent claim on its citizens, not even for geopolitical expediency.
Ludwig von Misses wrote in Omnipotent Government that “A nation, therefore, has no right to say to a province: You belong to me, I want to take you. A province consists of its inhabitants. If anybody has a right to be heard in this case it is these inhabitants. Boundary disputes should be settled by plebiscite.” He also wrote in Nation, State, and Economy that “No people and no part of a people shall be held against its will in a political association that it does not want.”
It appears that in both the case of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the people have expressed a desire through democratic processes to change their political association. The concept in international law that demands that a secessionist movement, in order to be legitimate, must first be recognized by the nation from which it hopes to secede is like demanding bi-partisan agreement before a divorce is recognized. Unilateral secession must be allowed after it can be demonstrated that there is a genuine will among the people to separate.
Furthermore, even applying the standards of Canada’s Clarity Act, which established the rules for secession in accordance with international law, Georgia had an obligation to negotiate terms of secession with both these breakaway regions. And after more than 15 years, Georgia has failed to do this -- although, to its credit, it did grant both these regions a high degree of autonomy.
In an interview for this post, Dr. Jason Sorens, founder of the Free State Project and expert on international secessionist movements, said “It is difficult to defend Russia's conduct of the war with Georgia, but it is equally difficult to defend the willingness of the U.S., Canada, and other NATO governments to recognize Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence while ruling out future recognition for Abkhazia and South Ossetia. If independence for minorities is ruled out from the start, then they have no alternative but to turn to violence. Independence with security guarantees for ethnic Georgians should at least be on the negotiating table.”
As I stated in my previous post on this matter, Russia should stay out of Georgia, and Georgia should stay out of South Ossetia (and Abkhazia). Let me add that the international community should also be less reluctant to recognize independence movements.
Sorens thinks we can learn something else: “The other lesson from this whole episode is that NATO expansion is foolish. Bringing Georgia into the security guarantee would entail that our soldiers could end up dying in a war against Russia while helping Georgia crush the legitimate aspirations of its ethnic minorities. Is that what we really want?”
Me and the CRTC
I'd like to interrupt all this election chatter to talk about something that really matters to Canadians: porn.
Check out my latest Sun media column.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
CBS video on how Hilary Clinton did
That was quick. Here's CBS' post-Clinton speech analysis:
Vice President Carly Fiorina
I’m watching former HP CEO Carly Fiorina on Fox right now. This is the second night that I’ve watched her on here. I’m convinced, especially after the lukewarm endorsement that Hillary Clinton gave Obama tonight, that the best move for John McCain is to pick a woman.
And this is the woman. Vice President Carly Fiorina, sounds good to me. She’s my choice, at least, and I think that she’s the best choice.
She’s poised, elegant, and attractive as these things go. She’s an excellent speaker. A lot of things auger in her favour:
First, of all, there’s the obvious point of her gender.
Indeed, in many ways she’s perfectly positioned for that role of appealing to Hillary voters. In particular, her compelling story – CEO of HP, forced out by old men for making a hard call that turned out to be right (the HP-Compaq merger) is compelling and can be sold.
It’s actually the exact set-up that I prefer. Lure the enemy into an ambush. The Democrats won’t be able to restrain themselves from attacking her record as CEO of HP, doubtlessly in ways that would strike many people as sexist (or could at least be spun in such a fashion).
Second, she’s a genuine Washington outsider – something that would starkly contrast with the absolute insider that Obama chose for his Vice President. Indeed, it would be hard to argue that close to forty years in the Senate talking away makes someone more qualified for executive office than half a decade at the helm of one of the world’s most important and recognizable companies.
Third, she’s positioned to neutralize two McCain weaknesses: the economy and the idea that he’s “out of touch” with the modern world. How better to counter the idea that McCain is a relic of the pre-internet age than making the former CEO of HP the Vice President?
Ideologically, she’s a fairly blank slate – though, she’s pro-life (which is why I’d suggest that McCain take her over eBay’s Meg Whitman). She seems to be strong on the economy. I’m not sure where she is on foreign policy, but I doubt if she has much of a paper trail.
What of the other choices?
Mitt Romney. He and McCain don’t seem to like eachother very much. Their attacks in the primary would be dredged up. The Mormon issue.
Joe Lieberman. If I knew how people would react, I’d go for Lieberman – but, with McCain seemingly taking the lead, he’s just too big a risk. Make him the Secretary of State after the election (I think that Gates ought to stay at Defense in the McCain Administration).
Tim Pawlenty: Tim who? He’s been a fine Governor in Minnesota, but who’s ever heard of him? He doesn’t have the compelling story to launch him into orbit, I think.
Mike Huckabee: Nah. He’ll upset too many people and not bring enough in.
Eric Cantor: Nice guy – but, again, who? Congressman to Vice President is a leap too far.
Honestly, I think that she’s as damned close to a perfect choice as you can get. Help to pull women. Fill in gaps in the resume. A fresh face. Tempts the Democrats into launching self-destructive attacks.
What the Hell?
This is my eighth convention. I've watched every convention since 1996. This is terrible.
I mean - I'm a Republican, so obviously I'm not going to love what the Democrats say - but this is terribly, terribly managed. Hillary's speech didn't even start until 10:45PM on the East Coast.
That was after they actually switched keynote speakers at the last minute. And man, wasn't the Governor of Montana terrible right before Hillary?
That video she ran screamed "I hope that Barack loses, since I'm running in 2012". Didn't mention Obama once - hell, I don't see how that video would have been different if Hillary was the nominee.
This convention is just terribly managed. They're going to run overtime, unless this is one of the shortest featured speeches ever.
Liveblogging: Hilary Clinton
11:17: People wearing dumb hats get a lot of camera time. Some woman has a koala bear on her hat (not a live one, relax PETA). Also, if you're a beautiful young woman, you will be on-camera. And you, awkward looking guy with a tennis headband, you'll get some time too. People covering their yawns will get camera time, but not much. Quick... pan to that old guy with the truckers hat and some home-made cardboard Obama sign on the forehead! Go!
11:16: Awkward people dancing awkwardly. Fact Check is counter-liveblogging the Daily Show convention coverage in the comments. Let's see if he keeps it up.
11:14: The gavel strikes to end the convention.
11:11: Jin Ho Kang, and Youngsook Kang, methodists, give the closing prayer. The prayer is about immigrants and diversity. And peace. And a bridge of harmony for all nations. "This we pray in the name of The One who is life eternal, amen." (Cynical me wonders who they mean by "The One"...)
11:07: It's over. Hilary, I think, has put to rest any worries Obama supporters might have had about her hijacking the convention and causing the Democrats a pile of trouble. Alas. It would have been much more fun to listen to an awkward speech that causes dissension in the ranks.
Overall, she gives a good speech. Check that, she gives a great speech. Too bad she's not a "Goldwater girl" anymore. I guess being a sincere fighter for liberty doesn't get you elected.
11:05: "If you want a taste of freedom. Keep going" (right out of the DNC convention.)
11:03: So Hilary has decided to become the biggest feminist in America. It's all about women, and how women have come so far, and giving women the right to vote, and so on. Michelle Obama is excited.
11:01: Interesting. She says John McCain is her friend, and she's proud of his service. "But," she says, "we do not want four more years of the same."
"John McCain says the economy is fundamentally sound. John McCain wants to privatize social security. And in 2008, he still thinks that it's okay that women earn less money for equal work."
"Now with an agenda like that, it makes perfect sense that he will appear with George W. Bush in the Twin Cities. Because these days, it is awfully difficult to tell the two apart."
10:59: "We did (something awesome) with President Clinton." Raucous applause. Bill looks like he's going to cry. "We can do it again with President Obama."
"We know that President Obama will bring our troops home from Iraq responsibly, and begin to rebuild ... and he will have a terrific partner in Michelle Obama. She will make a great first lady. And Americans are fortunate that Joe Biden will be at Obama's side as vice-president. He's pragmatic, he's wise, and he's tough... they will be a great team for America."
10:57: "I want you to ask yourself: Were you in this campaign for me, or were you in it for that young marine, that single mom, that woman with cancer? We need leaders once again who can tap into that special blend of American confidence and something, leaders who can do blah blah blah. There are no limits to what is possible in America.
This will not be easy. Progress never is. But it will be impossible if we don't fight together to put a Democrat in the White House."
10:54: We want everyone to like each other, to give everyone a pile of money, from that tree that grows in that backyard (we know it's there... somewhere. We just need to *look* for it, damnit!). I hear you saying that we can't. Well Hilary is here to tell you, YES WE CAN! Aaaarrrrrggghh.
10:53: She's talking about something no one should care about. So I take the time to tell Adam Yoshida that Barry Schweitzer, Democrat governor from Montana, put together a pretty good speech (which I think he did).
10:49: Blah blah blah. Boilerplate. "Enormous obstacles... you taught me so much... you made me laugh and, yes, you even made me cry. You've allowed me..." God, I can't even write this nonsense. Hilary recounts some personal story about some mom she met who had cancer and met her with a bald head with Hilary's name written on it... (okay, that was a nice story. But it was sandwiched in-between cliches).
10:47: "No way, no how, no McCain," she says. Michelle smiles, gets out of her seat. She's beginning to look a bit happier. Okay, she's smiling. Clearly, Clinton is not going to push the PUMA's to vote for her over Obama.
10:46: Shot of Michelle Obama. She looks nervous (really)...
10:46: She's a proud New York Senator, proud mother, proud Democrat, and a proud supporter of Barack Obama.
"It is time to take back the country we love. And whether you voted for me or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose."
"We are on the same team, and none of us can afford to fight on the sidelines."
10:45: People still going bananas, and the DNC camera shows a young girl crying.
10: 40 p.m.: Hilary is taking the stage. After a really warm video about her representing all women-folk and putting 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling (or something like that). Her daughter introduces her.
Hilary is wearing an orange number. I don't really like it.
UPDATE: Fact Check posted a link to the following pic in the comments. Yes, it's the second one from the right:
Bill is up there biting his lower lip like he's proud. Hillary signs adorn the convention floor.
She says, "thank you," and it begins.
Ken Epp won't neuter Bill C-484, the Unborn Victims of Crime Act
Anticipating an election, the federal Conservatives have nixed Edmonton M.P. Ken Epp's private members bill, replacing it with a different piece of proposed legislation. The bill, C-484, titled the Unborn Victims of Crime Act (full text), would result in additional criminal penalties for anyone who kills a pregnant woman and her fetus. Instead, the Tories want to make the fact of pregnancy, and harm to the fetus, an "aggravating factor."
Speaking to reporters, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said: "Our government will not reopen the debate on abortion."
And added: "The government will introduce legislation that will punish criminals who commit violence against pregnant women, but do so in a way that leaves no room for the introduction of fetal rights."
The Tories are worried that Epp's bill will give fetuses rights. Since the Morgentaler decision, fetuses have no status under Canada's laws.
Epp, however, is not happy with the decision, and does not intend to back down quietly.
Writing in the National Post, Epp insists that the replacement legislation is "politically predictable" and "misses (intentionally, I am sure) the entire point of my Bill."
"Those actively campaigning against the Bill are clearly of the view that everyday Canadians are so lacking in intelligence that if opponents constantly raise points that are not true but sound compelling (e.g. the Bill will confer personhood status on a fetus; pregnant women will be charged and sent to prison, etc.), they will successfully scare people into opposing the Bill.
"C-484 is crystal clear. It applies only when the pregnant woman is the victim of a crime. It doesn’t make the fetus a "human being" or a "person" under the law nor can it lead to that. It could never be used against the pregnant woman for any harm she might cause to her own fetus. Elective abortion is explicitly excluded. It’s only about abortion for those who cannot get past their strident ideology to feel any compassion for a woman who is such a tragic victim.
"One of my most vocal critics has literally said this: “If the fetuses are recognized in this bill, it could bleed into people’s consciousness and make people change their minds about abortion.” My reaction was, “if opponents are really worried about this, their issue is not with C-484 but about protecting their ideology at all costs.” If their ideology can’t withstand people thinking about what that ideology actually involves, how secure are they in their position?"
"Critics insist that I have a hidden agenda to recriminalize abortion. (In fairness, some have suggested that it is possible I am genuine, just naive or stupid.) Let me be clear about something: yes, I am what some people refer to as “pro-life.” As an elected official I have no difficulty in acknowledging that in public. But why is it that opponents can always simply dismiss an opinion from someone if they are Christian, pro-life, evangelical, supposedly “conservative,” etc.? Why is it so unbelievable that a "pro-life" MP could actually, sincerely want to enact a law that has nothing to do with banning abortion?"
Prior to the Conservative decision to remove this Bill, Epp had, on August 7, penned an open letter to physicians published in the Montreal Gazette. Attempting to assuage physicians and critics that his bill is just one more step down the road of giving fetuses full person status:
"By all means reject the notion that [an unborn child] is a "person" now if that is your personal belief - Bill C-484 doesn't change that at all, in fact. But I hope you will acknowledge that to this woman it is a life that is growing inside her. If someone attacks her and takes that away from her, she has lost something very real. To her and her family, it matters deeply."
Around the blogs:
Shotgun and ProWomanProLife blogger Andrea Mrozek on Bill C-484
Canadian Cynic (language and hyperbole alert)
Sean in Saskatchewan is glad this bill is done, but warns of Bill C-537
SUZANNE at Big Blue Wave thinks Epp is doing the right thing by not backing down
(More as they come up)
The good work of counterfeit deterrence is undone by loose monetary policy
The Bank of Canada announced today the recipients of its 2008 Law Enforcement Award of Excellence for Counterfeit Deterrence. The honours went to Corporal Tim Laurence, Corporal Susan MacLean, and now-retired Staff Sergeant Ken MacDonald of the Integrated Counterfeit Enforcement Team, RCMP Toronto West. The trio was recognized at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in Montréal, Quebec.
The recipients of the Award of Excellence executed an investigation code-named Project Ophir, which foiled a criminal plot to produce over $6 million in counterfeit bank notes.
The work of these dedicated cops benefited every Canadian. Printing money creates inflation, devalues the dollar and destroys savings.
But, as I’ve written before in my post on the film The Counterfeiters, so does a loose monetary policy.
The Bank of Canada is expanding the money supply at 12%. That’s sure to be inflationary, but maybe that’s the point. Canada’s strong dollar is hurting the vote-rich manufacturing centres in Central Canada with a federal election on the horizon.
Recipe for a fall election in Canada
Stephen Taylor offers an accurate description of the situation in Ottawa, and a plausible scenario (and good play) for the Conservatives to force an election.
"A simple confidence motion by the Conservatives would do the trick:
This House resolves that a carbon tax would destroy this country and that Canadians do not trust politicians when it comes schemes of tax shifting. This House has confidence in this government to [lower the income tax/introduce tax splitting/decrease the GST to 3%/cut corporate tax] (pick one or two) because such conservative measure(s) are the best way forward for Canadians"
As Taylor notes "if Mr. Dion votes against, we go to an election with Dion defending a carbon tax and the Conservatives proposing tax cuts. The election is then defined on tax policy rather than the environment."
CanWest is reporting that "a general election could be held as early as Oct. 14, the first Tuesday after the Thanksgiving weekend."
Here's a question for our readers who think themselves policy wonks: which tax policy or reform would you like to see the Conservative party propose as an alternative to Dion's green shift? If you've got more specific proposals or an option that's not in the poll, feel free to explain it in the comments.
One trade agreement closer to world peace
19th century French intellectual Frederick Bastiat wrote that “If goods don’t cross borders, armies will."
Trade fosters peace by encouraging mutually beneficial economic cooperation and aligning national interests.
Today, the Conservatives brought us one step closer to world peace with the announcement of a negotiated trade agreement with Jordan.
Michael Fortier, Minister of International Trade, said “We welcome this opportunity to expand Canada-Jordan trade relations. This bilateral free trade agreement will open up significant opportunities for Canadian companies in this growing economy, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa.”
Trade between Canada and Jordan totaled $76 million in 2007.
Obama's Negative Bounce
Obama appears to have suffered a negative bounce from the Biden pick. And, from the first night, I don't see much of a convention bounce for him - Michelle Obama's speech was nice enough, but I don't see it convincing anyone.
Let's watch Hillary tonight, I suppose, an see where we are in a week.
Remember what I've said for a long time: Obama is going to lose big, in the end and, in retrospect, it will appear to have been obvious all along. When it's over, the media will act shocked and attribute it to racism - ground they're already beginning to prepare.
McCain's campaign is surging and Obama's is wilting at the right time. Where McCain hit back quickly and effectively on the housing issue - throwing Rezko back in Obama's face - Obama has horribly misplayed the Ayers issue.
55-45 McCain, I think is where this is going to end up. The momentum is all wrong and Obama is running out of time to change the game.
More Olympic post-mortems
I figure maybe I can squeeze out one more of these before getting engulfed in the elections that will apparently be on both sides of the 49th.
More anti-Obama attack ads: This time, it's about terrorism
Monday, August 25, 2008
Texas GOP runs attack ad featuring Barack Obama's brother, George. And the Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School still has no money from Obama.
Things are getting ugly. Fast.
For his part, George Obama doesn't like the implication that Barack has abandoned him. Speaking with The Times online, George said he was "furious" about reports that he had been abandoned, and that he was ashamed of living in a slum. "It seems there are people who want to destroy me and my family,” he said. “They say I live on a dollar a month, but this is all lies by people who don’t want my brother to win."
While George may not be upset, students at the Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School in Kenya might be.
Two years ago, Obama visited this particular school. So appalled was he at the conditions at the school--no plumbing or electricity--he promised to help bring the school up to snuff. The people there were so excited, they changed the name of the school in his honour. Two years out? Not a penny from Obama.
But that hasn't stopped Juliette Akinyi Ochieng (a conservative) from setting up a non-profit to try and fulfill Senator Obama's pledge. Her website, at ObamaSchool.org, explains their mission as follows:
"What the 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation ‘Save Senator Obama Kogelo School, Inc.’ proposes to do is to fulfill the senator’s promise and to preserve the honor of Kenyan Luos and of Americans."
Jay Tea, a blogger at wizbang, doesn't approve of the use of George Obama in the attack ad above, but suggests that the school is fair game. If he were a McCain advertising man, this is what his ad would be:
"In 2006, Senator Obama visited a small school in his father's home village and pledged to support a school. They named the school in his honor, as their most famous son. Since then, Americans have raised over $5,000 for the school.
Not one penny of it from Senator Obama.
Keep the promise Senator Obama couldn't be bothered to keep. Give to the Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School.
But remember: if Barack Obama wouldn't keep his promise to a school named after him, how can you trust him to keep his promises to America?"
It's getting nasty. And sooner than I expected.
What do you think, dear reader? Is the ad over-the-top? Would the school ad be within bounds?
Levant gets an apology from Fast Forward Weekly
Fast Forward Weekly issued an apology to Ezra Levant and the “Western Standard community” for publishing a letter-to-the-editor in 2007 that claimed, among other things, that Levant misused company funds to travel.
In an unsigned letter, Fast Forward Weekly wrote “In particular, we recognize that as a publisher Mr. Levant would have gone to all efforts to promote and improve the Western Standard, locally, nationally and internationally, including ensuring that any use of company funds was appropriate. Any suggestion to the contrary was based on the opinion of the author of the letter and Fast Forward Weekly does not share those views.”
The offending letter was written by a former employee of the Western Standard after the Western Standard announced that it was shutting down its print edition in October 2007. The former employee has refused to apologize for the letter and the defamation matter is now headed for court.
Uh-oh: "I'm a Hillary Clinton Democrat and I support John McCain!"
McCain's campaign ads have been excellent lately. Here's another one that is bound to drive people a little crazy:
Debra, the woman in the ad, is indeed a Democrat. In fact, she was one of Hillary Clinton's elected delegates. She was turfed when she continued to support Clinton even after the primaries were over and it was clear Obama was the victor.
Meanwhile, a CNN poll shows the race between Obama and McCain is now tied. Peeling off a few more disgruntled Hillary supporters could make a huge difference in this election.
Wisdom from H.L. Mencken only hours before the start of the Democratic National Convention...
"It is vulgar, it is ugly, it is stupid, it is tedious, it is hard upon both the higher cerebral centers and the gluteus maximus, and yet it is somehow charming. One sits through long sessions wishing all the delegates and alternates were dead and in hell - and then suddenly there comes a show so gaudy and hilarious, so melodramatic and obscene, so unimaginably exhilarating and preposterous that one lives a gorgeous year in an hour.”
Pennsylvania GOP afraid of Bob Barr? And John McCain is a bit of a hypocrite
Here's an excerpt from a Bob Barr press release (I've highlighted McCain quotes):
"Bob Barr's presidential campaign has recently learned of an action by the McCain campaign and the Pennsylvania Republican Party to have Barr removed from the state's ballot, this despite McCain's promise in the 2000 election that he would, "never consider, ever consider, allowing a supporter of [his] to challenge [his opponent]'s right to be on the ballot in all 50 states.''
In 2000, McCain told reporters, ''Let's not have the kind of Stalinist politics that the state of New York, the Republican Party, has been practicing."
"This move by the McCain campaign completely contradicts everything John McCain stood for in 2000 when his competitors were trying to keep him off the ballot," says Barr. "McCain has become a part of the same corrupted machine he spoke vehemently against only eight years ago."
"This is America, where people have a right to run for office and a right to compete for the chance to lead the people of this nation," Barr continues. "I look forward to the chance to compete fairly against Senator McCain for votes in Pennsylvania and every other state."
And here's Barr on the lawsuit and McCain's two-facedness:
You know you’re an aging hippy when...
...teenagers on skateboards interrupt your pot rally to lecture you on the evils of marijuana.
According to a news report from Metro News in Calgary, marijuana activist Neil Magnuson argued with teenagers during the Calgary stop in his cross Canada Freedom Tour to raise awareness of the injustice of marijuana prohibition.
One the kids said, “I think I can have a better life without weed.”
That’s a smart kid. Life is better enjoyed with a clear head.
But the 50-year-old activist, Magnuson, makes the point that “adults deserve to make their own choices.”
Hmm...also a good point.
So why don’t we treat marijuana like alcohol and encourage parents to teach abstinence?
With 70% of teens admitting to trying marijuana after 80 years of prohibition, we could hardly do worse from a deterrence perspective – and this more liberal approach to marijuana would respect the right of adults to make their own peaceful lifestyle choices.