The Shotgun Blog
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Important "news" item: "No hugs for Harper" (Stephen Harper doesn't hug his kids!)
Kate from Small Dead Animals has her own "gotcha" moment in this election.
Which candidate did she manage to catch saying something stupid, offensive, or boneheaded? No, it's nothing like that. It's the Canadian Press that got caught in a bit of silly and ridiculous news writing.
Here's the "news" item posted early this morning on several news sites, including the Globe and Mail and CTV News:
Later on today, CTV News had the decency to update the story (the Globe still hasn't changed anything) to this:
It's still a stupid story. And the comment sections on both "news" items are full of people expressing their anger not at Harper for not hugging or kissing or coddling or whatever-else-the-Canadian-Press-thinks-is-appropriate-father-daughter-send-off-etiquette, but at the news story itself.
At least on the CTV News website, where comments were closed. Not so much at the Globe. For some reason, many commenters there think there's something super important about this really, really dumb news story.
Libertarian Bob Barr on the failed bailout vote
Here's Bob Barr on Neil Cavuto:
Here's a Bob Barr video on the bailout:
And here's Russell Verney, Bob Barr campaign manager:
Yesterday's vote in Congress confirms to me that only Bob Barr is in touch with the American people, and both the Democrats and Republicans are following Bob's lead!
The New York Times reports:
But a majority of the House voted along with Bob Barr, the Libertarian who said, "We need to make Wall Street take the hit for its irresponsible investment decisions. . ."
And the highly read Politico.com slams both McCain and Obama saying:
There was, however, one presidential "contender" who got on the right side of this issue: former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr. Barr called today's bill "the bailout from hell " and warned it would make Henry Paulson "an economic dictator, empowered to reengineer the economy as he sees fit."
Of course, it isn't just Bob Barr who scored major political points yesterday, it was redemption for the American people when the vote - which wasn't even close - went against Wall Street and in favor of average Americans.
Many of Bob supporters - old and new - took a moment to show their appreciation for this initiative by making generous gifts to the campaign yesterday and today...
But of course, the powerful corporate special interests, with both of Bob's opponents backing them in the Senate, aren't going to give up. The Bush administration continues in their efforts to scare Americans and convince them that only his bill can provide salvation for our economy.
Another vote is going to come, and it may be within the next 48 hours, or sooner.
To appease a few interests, they are likely to make some cosmetic change but the bottom line is that it will still be a bad bill -- and taxpayers are going to be soaked with $700 Billion in bailout funds for Wall Street. And when a Treasury Department official was asked by Forbes.com how this amount was chosen, the response: "It's not based on any particular data point. We just wanted to choose a really large number."
We must not retreat in our opposition to this outrageous scheme. Today Bob is giving speeches on the campaign trail and he is drawing larger crowds, greater enthusiasm, and the media is taking notice. Just as the New York Times acknowledged, only Bob Barr's approach to fiscal sanity will work.
Western Standard audio: 9-11 “truther” comes to the defence of former Liberal candidate Lesley Hughes
Former Liberal Party candidate Lesley Hughes was pushed out of her party for her scepticism of the official explanation of the September 11, 2001 World Trade Centre attack.
One of her American supporters contacted the Western Standard to let us know that Hughes is “absolutely right” to reject the official claim of what happened on that tragic day.
Here’s the rather unconventional viewpoint of Ernie Weaver from Baltimore Maryland on guns, food, race, Lesley Hughes and the truth behind 9-11 (if the widget doesn't work for you, you can click on this link):
I found it quite entertaining. I hope the sound quality is OK.
Posted by Matthew Johnston
Political ad watch: Rick Mercer and the kids vying for office
This... this is a hilarious gem. Every once in a while, the Rick Mercer Report puts something together that is good enough to shake a stick at. Here it is:
The Green Party's vicious reaction to critics
Tomorrow evening Elizabeth May will take the stage in the French-language leaders’ debate. This is her first appearance and it’s thanks largely to the efforts of bloggers and the users of social media sites like Facebook.
But in spite of having benefited so greatly from the medium, the Green Party has a problematic relationship with bloggers. Or at least critical bloggers such as Saskatchewan’s Buckdog and bloggers such as myself at the ‘Dime a Dozen’ blog.
As regular readers of the Shotgun might know, about a week ago I came across a photo of Elizabeth May speaking at an anti-Israel protest. This quickly spread around the blogosphere and forced her to issue a response:
Contrary to rumours circulating on the internet, Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada did not appear at a Hezbollah event two years ago.
August 12, 2006, Ms. May did speak at a peace rally in Toronto along with Jewish and Arab Canadians to call for an end to the violence then raging in the Middle East...
I thought that the response mischaracterized the nature of the “rumours” and failed to address the issue at hand. Warren Kinsella thought the same. He issued a challenge to Ms. May:
May is playing games about her attendance at a pro-Hezbollah rally, and the smart guys at Western Standard have caught her. You know how to talk, Green leader: say, clearly, you denounce the terrorist organization called Hezbollah. Say it.
I took up that challenge and tried to meet Ms. May in person. When I failed to meet her, I decided to do the next best thing and poll the party’s candidates. It and the results were reported in the Standard a few days ago.
The responses were mixed. Some candidates came right out and called Hezbollah a terror organization. Others weren’t so good. For instance, the Green candidate in Saskatoon-Humboldt, Jean-Pierre Ducasse said:
As per the Hezbollah and the Zionists. They are birds of the same feather. They both will get no respect from me.
While I was contacting their candidates I was also trying to spread the word and goad Elizabeth May into responding. As part of this I spoke to the Jewish Tribune. This is a paper put out by B’nai Brith. In an interview with their reporter, Attara Beck, she told me that the Green’s media rep, John Bennett, called my site a “right wing white supremacist” site – and by extension they called me a ‘white supremacist’.
I’m aboriginal, I have a Jewish partner - I have a reasonable track record of confronting racists on-line and in person. I was angry. I immediately headed for a very good and very expensive libel lawyer. This is where I finally heard back from the Green Party’s media rep, John Bennett:
I spoke to the Tribune so I assume you are referring to me.
I did not say you were a white supremacist.
I said, “I had been told that the deliberate smear campaign against a women who has devoted her life to peace and protecting the environment was posted on a white supremacist site.” The reporter asked me to verify it so I investigated and later called her back and told her I had been misinformed and that it was posted on your site and the Western Standard.
I demonstrated more due diligence and journalistic professionalism than you. I note you made no effort to contact Ms. May to enable her to respond to your specious allegations before rushing to judgement. A decent journalist or campaigner or whatever you think of yourself as has a sense of fair play and hopefully some professionalism.
Your reaction to what you believed I said indicates you have some sensitivity to being falsely accused. How do you imagine Ms. May feels about the things you have published about her? Did she immediately threaten legal action?
Appointing yourself judge, jury and executioner makes it very difficult for you to now claim injury.
Shame on you.
I’d encourage you to read Bennett’s humiliating apology to Buckdog, and let you make a judgment about ‘professionalism’ on your own.
The Green Party isn't as warm and fuzzy as you might think. Threatening lawsuits against bloggers, attacking their character, these reactions to being asked legitimate questions betray a very dangerous vicious streak.
FYI: I will be discussing this at length on the Rod Breckenridge show tomorrow evening at 8:30 Eastern Time on CHQR radio. The podcast for that show will be available here.
Political ad watch: New Liberal ad, more Harper = Bush association
Two new ads from the Liberal attack ad vault (they're good, in the sense of being effective):
"Harpernomics and Bush"
"Harper and Foreign Policy"
CBC's The National covers the candidates and 9/11 truthers
Liberal blogger Jason Cherniak found some videos of NDP leader Jack Layton getting chummy with 9/11 truthers, and claiming to be good friends with Barry Zwicker, leader of the Canadian 9/11 Truth movement. It made some big news.
The Liberals then went on to insist that NDP candidate Bev Collins also had some 9/11 Truth views.
And now the CBC's The National is covering the story. Here's video:
Did Stephen Harper plagiarize former Australian PM John Howard?
The Liberal Party is accusing Stephen Harper of plagiarizing former Australian prime minister John Howard. Even worse (according to the Liberals), it was a speech about sending Canadian troops to Iraq.
"How does a leader in Canada's Parliament, on such a crucial issue, end up giving almost the exact same speech as any another country's leader, let alone a leader who was a key member of George W. Bush's Coalition of the Willing?" said Mr. Rae.
"How can Canadians trust anything that Mr. Harper says now? The decision on whether to commit troops to join the War on Iraq was by far the greatest test leaders across the globe faced this decade. We now know when Mr. Harper faced that test, he not only made the wrong choice, but he made that choice so blindly and carelessly that he ended up delivering a word-for-word repetition of someone else's words and thoughts,” said Mr. Rae.
Here's a pretty damning YouTube of the accusation:
And here's a side-by-side comparison of the speeches.
Apparently, almost half the speech was lifted from former Australian prime minister John Howard. Warren Kinsella is calling this a huge gaffe. It might be, and not only because of the plagiarism issue. It allows the Liberals to rehash Harper's support for the Iraq War, an issue that could and did turn many away from him.
The London Free Press has a relevant article. In response to reporters' queries during an off-the-record teleconference, the Conservative campaign implied that a former speech writer is to blame for the plagiarism.
It's also clear the campaign really, really didn't want to discuss the issue.
UPDATE: For an example of Liberal plagiarism, the Western Standard reported on some a while back.
UPDATE2: Owen Lippert takes full blame for plagiarizing:
"In 2003, I worked in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition," Owen Lippert said in a statement released by the Conservative campaign Tuesday afternoon.
"I was tasked with - and wrote - a speech for the then leader of the Opposition. Pressed for time, I was overzealous in copying segments of another world leader's speech. Neither my superiors in the office of the leader of the Opposition nor the leader of the Opposition was aware that I had done so."
UPDATE3: Liberal Party is not buying the plagiarizing story. Here's their press release:
A former Conservative staffer, Owen Lippert, has taken responsibility for “copying segments” of a speech given by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard into a speech Stephen Harper gave just 35 hours later in the House of Commons.
The story does not add up, and took seven hours to concoct. Here are some “life experiences” that suggest that Mr. Lippert would likely be adverse to plagiarism:
- Mr. Lippert is a former Fraser Institute Director who has published articles on intellectual property rights. For example in 1999, he wrote a book called, Competitive Strategies for the Protection of Intellectual Property. And in 2000, he edited and contributed to another book called, Competitive Strategies for Intellectual Property Protection (Fraser Institute, February 2000).
- He has written articles that have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, National Post, Globe and Mail, among others.
- He was a former member of the Globe and Mail’s editorial board.
- He also holds a PhD in European History from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana and a B.A. from Carleton College, Minnesota.
- He is currently employed as Senior Policy Advisor at the Canadian International Development Agency.
- He was supposedly Mr. Harper’s “trade and immigration policy advisor” at the time the speech took place. (Owen Sound Sun Times, May 29, 2004)
When asked directly if Owen Lippert plagiarized the essay on CTV Newsnet this evening, Conservative spokesperson Ken Bossenkool would not confirm the charge of plagiarism: “Well, like I said, the employee has released a statement. I think the statement stands for itself.” (CTV Newsnet, September 30, 2008)
Mr. Harper must take at least some responsibility for the very words that come out of his mouth.
The last gasp
The CCP gets to manipulate the Bush Administration on Korean issues one last time, but they have too many worries to enjoy it.
Filibuster: Speed dating for world leaders
Credit: J.J. McCullough
Political ad watch: Obama releases constructive criticism ad
Via The Onion:
Bloggingheads: Will Wilkinson and Arnold Kling talk about the bailout
Will Wilkinson is probably one of the brightest young libertarians out there. He's well-read, articulate, and doesn't take himself too seriously. That's a great combination of attributes. And it's why I visit his blog regularly, and why I always click his "Free Will" segment on Bloggingheads.tv.
Here's his latest on the bailout (an explanation for the rest of us):
Monday, September 29, 2008
More policy semantics
Today the Tories reminded us - yet again - that elections are all about semantics.
According to some political parties, spending increases are conservative, so long as you call them tax breaks. As far as I'm concerned, tax cuts come when you get to keep your money - not when you file the right paperwork and the government sends you some of the money they've collected over the past year.
But even if you accept that this is a tax cut by some stretch, if you judge taxes on a relative scale, which you should in many (though not all) cases, you ought to be able to see why this isn't what we should want from our best shot, at this time anyway, at a mainstream small-government party. We don't need governments picking and choosing which citizens it prefers over others.
Call it politically expedient if you must, but please, don't call it a free market friendly or small government policy.
Walter Block, Call Your Office
"In his Communist Manifesto, published in 1848, Karl Marx proposed 10 measures to be implemented after the proletariat takes power, with the aim of centralizing all instruments of production in the hands of the state. Proposal Number Five was to bring about the “centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.”
If he were to rise from the dead today, Marx might be delighted to discover that most economists and financial commentators, including many who claim to favour the free market, agree with him...
Friedman — who, contrary to popular perception, was not a foe of monetary inflation, but simply wanted to keep it under better control in normal circumstances — was wrong about the Fed not intervening during the Depression. It tried repeatedly to inflate but credit still went down for various reasons. This is a key difference in interpretation between the Austrian and Chicago schools.
As Friedrich Hayek wrote in 1932, “Instead of furthering the inevitable liquidation of the maladjustments brought about by the boom during the last three years, all conceivable means have been used to prevent that readjustment from taking place; and one of these means, which has been repeatedly tried though without success, from the earliest to the most recent stages of depression, has been this deliberate policy of credit expansion. ... To combat the depression by a forced credit expansion is to attempt to cure the evil by the very means which brought it about ...”
The confusion of Chicago school economics on monetary issues is so profound as to lead its adherents today to support the largest government grab of private capital in world history. By adding their voices to those on the left, these confused free-marketeers are not helping to “save capitalism”, but contributing to its destruction."
Read the rest.
(h/t Jeffrey Tucker)
Steven Horwitz' open letter to his friends on the left
Dr. Steven Horwitz, an economist at St. Lawrence University, has written an excellent letter to those on the left detailing why they ought not blame the free market for the current financial crisis in the U.S., and why they should reconsider demanding that the government "fix" it.
An excerpt that gets to the heart of the matter for naysayers who aren't convinced to read such a lengthy article (bolding is mine, italics are his):
One of the biggest confusions in the current mess is the claim that it is the result of greed. The problem with that explanation is that greed is always a feature of human interaction. It always has been. Why, all of a sudden, has greed produced so much harm? And why only in one sector of the economy? After all, isn't there plenty of greed elsewhere? Firms are indeed profit seekers. And they will seek after profit where the institutional incentives are such that profit is available. In a free market, firms profit by providing the goods that consumers want at prices they are willing to pay. (My friends, don't stop reading there even if you disagree - now you know how I feel when you claim this mess is a failure of free markets - at least finish this paragraph.) However, regulations and policies and even the rhetoric of powerful political actors can change the incentives to profit. Regulations can make it harder for firms to minimize their risk by requiring that they make loans to marginal borrowers. Government institutions can encourage banks to take on extra risk by offering an implicit government guarantee if those risks fail. Policies can direct self-interest into activities that only serve corporate profits, not the public.
Many of you have rightly criticized the ethanol mandate, which made it profitable for corn growers to switch from growing corn for food to corn for fuel, leading to higher food prices worldwide. What's interesting is that you rightly blamed the policy and did not blame greed and the profit motive! The current financial mess is precisely analogous.
No free market economist thinks "greed is always good." What we think is good are institutions that play to the self-interest of private actors by rewarding them for serving the public, not just themselves. We believe that's what genuinely free markets do. Market exchanges are mutually beneficial. When the law messes up by either poorly defining the rules of the game or trying to override them through regulation, self-interested behavior is no longer economically mutually beneficial. The private sector then profits by serving narrow political ends rather than serving the public. In such cases, greed leads to bad consequences. But it's bad not because it's greed/self-interest rather because the institutional context within which it operates channels self-interest in socially unproductive ways.
This, my friends, is exactly what has brought us to the mess we are now in.
Horwitz hopes that the left will entertain this request:
Those of us who support free markets are not your enemies right now. The real problem here is the marriage of corporate and state power. That is the corporatism we both oppose. I ask of you only that you consider whether such corporatism isn't the real cause of this mess and that therefore you reconsider whether free markets are the cause and whether increased regulation is the solution.
You can read the rest of this excellently argued and written letter in its entirety here.
Political ad watch: NDP candidate David Sparrow puts together some clever vids
I like it when candidates put together their own videos. Here's a series from David Sparrow, NDP candidate in Don Valley West, and an actor who appeared in, amongst other things, Serendipity (which is where, I think, I recognized him from).
Here's what Sparrow told me when I asked about the videos:
"I have been an actor, writer and filmmaker for 18 years. I am also the VP of Member Services for the Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA). I was looking for some outlet that would combine my "artistic" side with my "political" side and the videos just sort of popped into my head. (Probably while watching a Mac/PC ad.)"
I also asked Sparrow about the "ACTRA Co-op" message that appears at the end of each of the videos:
"An ACTRA Co-op agreement is a contract that allows ACTRA members to self-produce a project in which each member of the cast, the writer and the producer are ACTRA members and have an equal share in the proceeds, if any. These are generally low budget or no budget projects and, in most cases, generate no or limited income.
As a member of ACTRA, I wanted to ensure my shorts were produced legally under one of our agreements, respecting the rights and talents of our members."
Okay, take your partisan hats off, and try to enjoy the videos.
Episode 1: Progressive? Not!
Episode 2: I'm just a "C"
Episode 3: Those Conservatives just don't want to listen to you
Episode 4: Greens and Liberals - one big happy family
Nancy Pelosi's pre-vote speech
Here's the speech that some Republicans are blaming for the failure of the bailout bill to pass the House:
And here are the Republicans pointing fingers at Pelosi:
More on Lesley Hughes
I'd like to thank both Matthew and Peter for inviting me to blog here at the 'Shotgun'.
I am an academic and spend most of my time thinking about the 18th century, so it'll be nice to engage in a dialogue about issues that are a little more recent.
I posted yesterday about Warren Kinsella's equation of 9/11 'truther' Lesley Hughes with Ezra Levant.
And then I heard this little gem from former NDP Premier Howard Pauley on CBC's 'The House':
"The Lesley Hughes item disappoints me a great deal because she is not anti-semitic . . ." (at about the 28:00 minute mark on podcast version)
Poor Lesley Hughes, unfairly accused of anti-semitism when all she did was claim that Israeli businessmen knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance. Not to mention that the U.S. government was complicit in the murder of its own citizens.
Did the host, Kathleen Petty, or his fellow ex-politicos (Grant Devine and David Peterson) call him on it?
Nope. In fact, Devine, the conservative, though that by firing Hughes, the Liberals were being too "pure."
Strange days indeed.
Ron Paul on the reaction of the House to the bailout vote
Here's Texas Congressman Ron Paul on the reaction of the House to the vote on the bailout:
Here was Ron Paul's speech on the House floor prior to voting against the bailout:
h/t JC in the comments
Bailout package fails: Free market opinion round up
The Cato Institute responds:
Daniel J. Mitchell: "The current turmoil in financial markets is the result of bad government policy, particularly easy-money policy by the Federal Reserve and unsustainable subsidies to housing by Fannie and Freddie.
The bailout did not address these problems. Instead, it sought to compound the problem by increasing government intervention."
Jagadeesh Gokhale: "Overall, it's not a pretty picture--but score one for supporters of the free market who insist on allowing market reorganization of the financial sector to continue unimpeded...albeit at high risk to the economy over the next few months."
The Mises Institute (happy birthday, Ludwig von Mises), via Jeffrey Tucker:
"A magnificent repudiation of the Fed, the Treasury, Bush, Wall Street welfarists, inflationists, and stabilizers of all sorts. The costs of what the Fed has already done are going to be massive and felt for many years. But at least Congress has so far, and this time, not participated in the evil.
It's a great birthday gift for Ludwig von Mises.
Whatever the case with stock markets--and we can be confident that whatever prices emerge are truer than they would be with a bailout--it is fantastic that oil prices have retreated so dramatically. Drivers cheer. How this can be spun as dreadful news is beyond me."
The Competitive Enterprise Institute on their blog, OpenMarket.org:
"Oh, Happy Day! And it certainly is for all those who value freedom, responsiblity and the true free market in which individuals are free to profit from their risks on the condition that they don’t stick the rest of us with their losses.
It’s not hyperbole to say the Republican and Democratic backbenchers who defied both parties’ leadership to defeat this $700 billion package of Wall Street socialism literally saved America. Whatever their reasons, this defeat (or rather victory for freedom), means that America is much less likely to turn into France, Venezuela, or the old Soviet Union, as this bailout/nationalization package would have set us on the road to becoming."
And here's Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican, and possibly the best Congresscritter in the U.S., on why he voted against the bailout (h/t reason's Hit & Run):
Michael Ignatieff: Worst Performance in the G8
It seems the newest Liberal talking point is that Canada is apparently the worst performing country in the G8. At least that's what Michael Ignatieff told the Economic Club of Canada this morning [ed.: Here's Ignatieff's speech, courtesy of Kinsella].
I thought this was a pretty bold statement. Particularly, because I don't know what numbers he's reading. The numbers I'm reading come from Statistics Canada, the OECD, IMF, and UN Human Development organization.
So here's everything about the performance of the G8 countries that you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask:
It's hard to tell what measure Liberals are talking about when they say Canada went from best to worst. Simply because, when you say "best economic performance," you can be talking about quite a few different things.
For example, if you consider the country that is "performing best" as the country with the most growth, then your definition of "best" is the country which is relatively speaking, the country that is changing for the better, at the fastest rate. If that's your measure, then you could say that India and China are the best performing economies in the world, because they both have double digit GDP growth year-over-year.
But few people would consider the quality of life in China or India comparable to the quality of life in any of the G8 countries. So obviously, growth as the primary measure for performance is a bit shortsighted. It's ignorant of the idea that basal economic activity is important to the entire picture.
If Iggy is using GDP growth as the primary measure by which to judge Canada's performance against the rest of the G8, is that even accurate? No. Because Canada had only the third best GDP growth behind the United States and Russia. And we are now the third worst, ahead of the United States and Italy. However, this year's GDP growth is within 0.1% of the growth of France and Germany.
Both Germany and France have higher unemployment and less investment in their economy than Canada.
We should also note, that most global economists are projecting that Canada in fact, will be the number two performing economy in terms of growth in 2009 behind Russia. At around 2% real GDP growth.
So when Harper accuses Dion and the Liberals of "talking down the economy" we can actually empirically verify the truthfulness of this. From what I can see, the Liberals are simply grabbing at GDP numbers and using them to make a point. Except any economist will tell you, that you can't look at any economic factor in isolation. And contrary to what the Liberals are saying about how bad Canada's economy is, most Canadian and international economists believe that Canada's economic fundamentals are the best in the G8.
The windmill falls
The Paulson Panic bailout went down in flames.
It could arise from the ashes tomorrow, but for now, the latest assault on economic freedom has been repulsed.
Pierre Lemieux: Crucial battle lost
"Your papers, please!" We hear this line or something like it at the border. In less free societies, government agents can make this demand at almost any time, with dire penalties for those unable or unwilling to offer up the required documentation.
Is our society moving in that direction? Pierre Lemieux thinks we might be. For example, the UK has unveiled a new national ID card for foreign nationals. Some think this is the first step toward requiring citizens to also carry some sort of standard identification card. In Canada, Bill C-31 requires people to bring government issued photo ID with them to the voting booth.
Thus, next time you vote, you may hear "Your papers, please!" And only those who have government-issued photo ID -- like a driver's license -- will be allowed to cast their ballots.
In his column this week, Lemieux examines some of the arguments that have been offered in support of national identification cards and relates programs. What these arguments miss, he claims, is the most powerful reason to resist a national ID card:
Just think of what the state is unable to do when it cannot rapidly and reliably identify peaceful individuals. Like a (diminishing) host of procedural and substantive restraints on the state, the absence of official ID papers increases the cost of enforcing laws that delve into people’s private affairs and invade private property. Thus, without official ID papers, such laws are less likely to be adopted. We should know because we lived in a free society a few decades ago.
We don't usually think that making it more expensive for the government to enforce the law is a good thing. Typically, the more efficient some process is, the better.
When it comes to the enforcement of the law, however, Lemieux may have a point. After all, one argument in favor of the individual right to bear arms (as enshrined in the Second Amendment to the American Constitution) is simply that tyranny becomes more costly to the tyrant when his potential subjects are armed.
Contra a certain left-wing straw-person, we don't even have to imagine a citizenry so well armed that it can defeat the government in battle. Rather, an armed citizenry can make tyranny so expensive to enforce -- think of government agents gunned down at every turn by citizens-turned-snipers -- that would-be tyrants have to rethink their plans.
In contrast, a national photo identification system, combined with modern biometric technology, makes it easier for tyrants to enforce most any law their minds might devise. Want to keep track of people's movements? As apartheid South Africa discovered, it's easy when everyone has to carry an ID card linked to a national database. Want to know what your citizens are spending money on? Again, it's easy when everyone has to present a national ID card before opening a bank account.
Want to know which of your citizens visit the Western Standard website a little too often? Make them present their ID card before getting Internet access.
If Lemieux's argument has a flaw, it's that it's already pretty easy for the government to know most of the things about its citizens we just discussed. A national ID card might make things a little worse, but not by much.
More excerpts from Lemieux's column are below the fold.
The argument for official ID papers is that they facilitate law enforcement, which is why conservatives are all excited. Any realistic appraisal of the world around us shows that this argument is exactly upside down: it actually runs against ID papers. For which law enforcement are we talking about? Laws against murder and theft were enforced long before official ID papers appeared. And after the state had introduced them, sophisticated criminals and terrorists obtained or falsified them. Nearly all the 9/11 terrorists had proper ID.
The crucial battle against official ID papers has, I fear, been lost. A formal ID card is being introduced in the U.K. In the U.S., the federal government is standardizing state drivers’ licences and transforming them into a de facto national ID card; the Canadian government is slavishly imitating this fraud.
Dramatic terrorist attack exposed as a lie
No, not here; in occupied East Turkestan.
Make that Global 'Cooling'
National Review online reports today:
The four major agencies tracking Earth’s temperature, including NASA’s Goddard Institute, report that the Earth cooled 0.7 degree Celsius in 2007, the fastest decline in the age of instrumentation, putting us back to where the Earth was in 1930. The climate is changing, but not in the direction Al Gore thinks.
When exactly will Henry Morgentaler actually receive his Order of Canada pin from the G-G? I haven't heard, but I expect the justifiable controversy over the granting of the award to the notorious abortionist will spark another round of criticism.
Meantime, my Report Magazine cover story on the affair has now been posted at the publication's website.
The truth about immigration...
...is that costs exceed benefits. That's the conclusion reached in the Vancouver Sun's highlighted op-ed piece in today's edition.
The essay's author declares that there is incontrovertible evidence that: 1. immigration's only significant impact is to reduce the wages of native workers; 2. immigration does not provide the answer to an aging population; and 3. immigration is not linked to economic progress.
The author believes that Canada is taking in far too many immigrants, but that each of the three big parties in the current election is promising to open the doors even wider. He states: "The fact is there is no valid rationale. There is only one reason why our political parties push for high immigration intake and that is they see every new immigrant as a potential vote for their party.
"This is not only irresponsible it borders on culpable negligence."
Significantly, the author of this powerful piece is James Bissett, "a former executive director of the Canadian Immigration Service." Read his entire piece here.
Election financing rules and double standards
Election financing. We have regulated speech, not free speech, in Canada. This means that groups and individuals ("third parties") cannot spend as much money as they'd like for (or against) candidates in an election. (For more on Canada's gag law, this Calgary Herald editorial explains.)
This runs contrary to rules of free speech. I am against that law. But it still stands. And if Friends of Science and Barry Cooper can be charged, as the Herald piece explains, who else should be?
Why am I asking these questions? Because I'm curious to know how much money pro-abortion groups are spending telling me not to vote for Harper? Has anyone asked that? Are they registered? Should they be?
Representatives from Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, Canadian Labour Congress, the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women, Federation du Quebec pour le planning des naissances and Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD) held the press conference, describing themselves as a united front in the mobilization of women voters.
Does spending money telling voters who not to vote for (Harper) qualify under the Elections Spending Act?
Let me be very clear--I think those pro-abortion groups should be allowed to speak freely, and spend as much as they want. But what I'm not keen on is a double standard, whereby groups on the "wrong" side are charged (Friends of Science, National Citizens Coalition to name but two) and groups with elite support (pro-abortion groups) are not.
(Cross-posted to ProWomanProLife.)
The end is near?
According to this story in the WaPo (Via Drudge), the balance of power in the U.S. is now shifting from New York to Washington, D.C. Truth be told, this has been happening for over six decades, but this bailout is really pushing into a European-socialism style of government. Before the bailout, Canada was one point ahead of the U.S. in the freedom index; this latest action will undoubtedly cement the results further. Not that Canada has much to brag about; it is a sad day (or time) for both of us.
Once the state gets involved in dictating the minute details of money and banking, the result is crony capitalism at its worst. Look no further than the developing world for examples of countries where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer; in other words, it is the end of the American dream.
Capitalism always meant the freedom of entry and the freedom of exit. But once there is no freedom of exit, there is no more freedom of entry. Say goodbye to the self-made "rags to riches" millionaires, and say hello to the government-sponsored politburo rich.
Those of you who have read Atlas Shrugged, will find the similarities eerie. When businessmen go to the state to beg for regulation, that is the sign of the end. The only question is: who is today's John Galt?
Heather Mallick has no clue about Canada
Looking over Heather Mallick's website, I found this preface to her listing of CBC columns:
"Each Monday a fresh piece of my opinionating appears on the CBC.ca website. I am immensely attached to the CBC. You try living outside Toronto and trying to understand the country you live in without having the CBC on TV, on the radio or online. It can’t be done.
If Stephen Harper wins the next federal election, the CBC will be no more. The federal parks will close, Quebec will leave and we will get to the grocery store by horse and buggy. Drought, fire, pestilence etc. will rule the land. Most importantly, these columns will end. I will be in my office at home, writing on this website, drinking absinthe in bed and listening to old Bowie songs from the 1980s, “Cold Water’ by Damien Rice and at 2 a.m. the saddest song ever written, ‘Everything’ by Eric Carmen. Aren’t iPods great? You don’t have to be ambulatory with CDs in hand in order to suffer."
What exactly does Mallick mean by "living outside of Toronto" and trying to understand Canada without the CBC? Am I overreacting when I think that her attitude is absolutely ridiculous? Is she saying that you can understand Canada, without the CBC, only if you live in Toronto? Is Toronto the epicentre of Canada? The one place where everything in the country just comes together?
In Toronto, the NDP get plenty of seats, the Tories never win, and left-of-centre opinion is de rigueur.
According to the CBC, the NDP ought to win plenty of seats, the Tories ought to be shut out, and left-of-centre opinion is de rigueur.
I've lived outside of Toronto most of my life (I lived there for only six months). I've spent many years outside of Canada. I don't listen to CBC radio or watch CBC television. At all. When I lived in England, I watched CTV online, read the National Post and Globe and Mail online, and visited National Newswatch and Bourque every day. Now that I live in the U.S., I do the same.
Ms. Mallick has it exactly backwards. If you live in Toronto, or get all your news from the CBC, what you won't understand is Canada. Can Ms. Mallick explain to me why Albertans are the way they are? Can she tell me anything about British Columbia outside of Vancouver? Does she know why the 905 ring outside of Toronto is so different from the 416 centre? Can she explain the maritimes without citing Anne of Green Gables? Does she know why private health care is blossoming in Quebec, and why Quebec is the heart of the most aggressive pro-liberty contingent in Canada? (Don't believe me? Let me cite my partial evidence: Pierre Lemieux, Jacques Chaoulli, Le Quebecois Libre--whose banner ads we proudly display on our website--Andre Arthur, CHOI-FM, the Montreal Economic Institute, etc.)
Does she know why the Tories won a minority last time, and why they are a mere spitting distance of a majority this time around? No? Maybe she should try living outside of Toronto with the CBC off. Just for a little while. Who knows, Ms. Mallick, maybe you'll come to understand the other Canada. The one you really don't understand.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
How to Handle Hate Crimes
Frankly, I hate the phrase "hate crime." I don't like the idea that we ought to distinguish crimes from one another based, simply, upon the identity of the victim or, as a class, based upon the motivation for the crime. Assaulting someone because you don't like their face seem to me to be morally equivalent to attacking them because you don't like their race.
Where motivations ought to come in, I would say, is in considering punishments. That's one of the real tragedy of our justice system - is that judges don't have the freedom to impose creative punishments.
For example, in the case of this latest gay bashing in Vancouver, I think that one can make an ideal case for corporal punishment.
Let's face it - prisons don't really work. People don't learn anything because they spend a brief amount of time locked up. The way to deter this from happening in the future is to sentence the perpetrator to a public flogging on Davie Street.
CBC News publisher: I agree with our ombudsman, we're really biased
On Friday, we reported on CBC Ombudsman Vince Carlin's response to the mountains (300+) of letters of complaint the CBC received for a column by Heather Mallick wherein she calls Sarah Palin "white trash" and Republican men "sexually inadequate." Carlin agreed with many of the complaints that claimed the CBC website had far too many left-of-centre opinions, and nothing on the right of the political spectrum. He also agreed that Mallick's piece was over-the-top and not "factually" based.
Today, CBC News publisher John Cruikshank backed up Vince Carlin by issuing his own statement, entitled "We erred in our judgment."
A few excerpts:
"Vince Carlin, the CBC Ombudsman, has now issued his assessment of the Mallick column. He doesn't fault her for riling readers by either the caustic nature of her tone or the polarizing nature of her opinion.
But he objects that many of her most savage assertions lack a basis in fact. And he is certainly correct.
Mallick's column is a classic piece of political invective. It is viciously personal, grossly hyperbolic and intensely partisan.
And because it is all those things, this column should not have appeared on the CBCNews.ca site."
But every news organization needs to have an opinion dimension. Access to different viewpoints helps readers, listeners and viewers make reasoned choices, especially during an election campaign.
As a public broadcaster we have an added responsibility to provide an array of opinions and voices to complement our journalism. But we must do so carefully. And you should be able to trust us to provide you with work that's based on solid reporting and free from the passionate excesses of partisanship.
We failed you in this case. And as a result we have put new editing procedures in place to insure that in the future, work that is not appropriate for our platforms, will not appear. We are open to contentious reasoned argument but not to partisan attack. It's a fine line.
Ombudsman Carlin makes another significant observation in his response to complainants: when it does choose to print opinion, CBCNews.ca displays a very narrow range on its pages.
In this, Carlin is also correct.
This, too, is being immediately addressed. CBCNews.ca will soon expand the diversity of voices and opinions and be home to a diverse group of writers with many perspectives. In this, we will better reflect the depth and texture of this country."
It's being immediately addressed? I wonder who will provide the other points of view on CBC News dot ca. Will it be some Conservative Party pundit? Or a principled conservative? Will the CBC know the difference between a conservative and a libertarian? And will they have the courage to get somebody like our own Pierre Lemieux up on their website?
If you want our advice, CBC, we'll give it to you. Our first bit of advice would be to go private, but we're not (entirely) utopian. Maybe the voters of this country will eventually make that decision for you anyway. But, apart from that sincere wish of ours to come true, perhaps you would like us to help you pick a columnist or two?
Go ahead, ask us.
UPDATE: Jonathan Kay has a nice comment on this:
"For those of us who've been trying to hold the CBC to account for years, this is an important and proud day. And we owe it all to none other than Heather Mallick herself. As I wrote in the lead to that very same column earlier this month, "Canadians have a friend in CBC columnist Heather Mallick — even if they don’t know it: Her latest column for the Ceeb’s web site is so appalling that it might finally convince whoever is elected on October 14 to clean house at 25 John Street …"
Good on the CBC for getting on the job first. And thank you, Heather: Without your over-the-top left-wing venom shocking the CBC into corrective action, this moment never would have been possible. On behalf of "white trash" Republican "sexual inadequates" and "porn stars" everywhere, I extend to you my deepest appreciation."
I'm betting Kay is out of the running for the CBC's new job opening: "Seeking: right-of-centre columnist for left-of-centre news outlet. Competitive salary. Funded by taxpayers."
If I had to put money on who the CBC will try to get, I'd put it on Andrew Coyne. Coyne is solid, in my judgment, and he's already part of the talking heads on The National. So why not have him do double-duty as scribbler for the CBC too? (Colby Cosh would be my second guess. And Cosh is also solid, and not just because he used to write a sports column for the Western Standard.)
Warren Kinsella hits a nerve, Craig Yirush answers back
You know you’re out of line when you offend the mild mannered, gentlemanly Craig Yirush, a former Fraser Institute researcher and legal scholar.
In a submission to the Western Standard, Yirush offered his thoughts on a recent post by Warren Kinsella.
Here's the latest smear from Warren Kinsella, scourge of all the Canadian neo-Nazis currently living in their mothers' basements.
At the end of a post congratulating Dion for dumping 9/11 'truther' Lesley Hughes, Kinsella had this to say:
"And why is Ezra Levant, who defends Jim Keegstra and neo-Nazis, still an official Tory spokesman."
Let that one sink in for a second or two. Ezra defends the free speech rights of individuals he strongly disagrees with.
And what does that make him? Why a Nazi of course. As well as the moral equivalent of someone who thinks that those who died on 9/11 were murdered by their own governments, with, of course, the complicity of the 'Jews'.
Ezra doesn't need me to defend him from Kinsella, especially since nobody who cares about honesty or political principle takes the self-described 'ass-kicker' seriously anymore. But the flawed logic at the heart of Kinsella's argument illustrates how much work still needs to be done to defend free speech in Canada.
Thanks, Craig. Since you’re a pro-freedom blogger without a blog, why not join the Shotgun?
Dionomics is like magic
Time for another Liberal ad;
I love the implicit assumption that government creates jobs. As if any government could wave a magic wand and declare the 'green' industry to be a success. Really what Dion is proposing here is another collection of corporations that can only survive with government help (if they could survive on their own they would already exist). Way to stick it to the little man and help big business there Dion. I also like the implied threat against one of Canada's most profitable industry. That's Dionomics, destroy the profitable industries that already exist and use them to create new industries with tax dollars.
Defending William Whatcott: pro-life, anti-gay activist pushes freedom of expression to the limit
In a Western Standard column published today, Carpay writes:
In 2001 and 2002, Mr. Whatcott peacefully distributed flyers in Regina and Saskatoon. His flyers expressed opposition to teaching children in public schools about homosexuality, and also expressed, in polemical language, his religious objections to homosexual behaviour and the gay lifestyle. Some of the flyers were photocopies of a page from the gay magazine Perceptions, which included a personal classified ad stating “searching for boys/men for pen pals, friendship, exchanging video, pics... Your age, look & nationality is not so relevant.” On the photocopied page, Mr. Whatcott wrote “Saskatchewan’s largest gay magazine allows ads for men seeking boys!”
In response to complaints from four individuals whose feelings were hurt by the flyers, Mr. Whatcott was prosecuted under Saskatchewan’s human rights law, ordered to pay $17,500 to the complainants, and ordered to refrain from distributing the same or similar flyers.
Carpay’s column -- “There’s no monopoly on truth” -- will mark the end of Free Speech & Expression Week at the Western Standard, but certainly not the end of our coverage of free speech and expression issues important to our readers. (Don’t forget to help the Western Standard get free speech and expression on the national televised debate among the major party leaders. Find out how here.)
Those familiar with Whatcott’s activism will know it would take an act of God to stop him from opposing abortion and homosexuality. In fact, Whatcott provided supporters with an update today on this activism:
(Warning: If you are easily offended by "polemical language," or if you are a supporter of Conservative MP Laurie Hawn, you will not like what Whatcott has to write.)
1500 hard hitting flyers found their way into Calgary's mailboxes…on Friday, September 26, 2008. Generally my flyers do garner a lot of negative reactions as apathetic and perverted Canadians do not appreciate being reminded of the graphic realities of pre-born baby murder and sodomy (my sodomy pictures do have genitalia blacked out but the images still tell you enough to inform you our North American culture is on par with the depravity of Sodom and Gomorrah).
A disaffected Conservative who belongs to the Knights of Columbus sent me an unsolicited e-mail saying his $110.00 donation originally intended for the Conservative Party of Canada would go to me instead.
Upon receiving the unsolicited donation I got to work this weekend and made a special election flyer. 2000 of them will hit Laurie Hawn's Edmonton Centre riding this coming week. Laurie Hawn is fiscally conservative but he is no friend of social conservatives.
On sodomy and abortion Mr. Hawn is a sell out.
Whatcott’s language, while outrageous and offensive to some, is nothing compared to the images he includes in his pamphlets. Aborted foetuses, genital and anal warts, anal intercourse – there are no images too graphic for Whatcott, who intends to wake the public from its slumber whether they like it or not.
Defending the recidivist speech and expression offender Whatcott is as bold a defence of free speech as I have seen. But while Whatcott routinely violates good taste and judgement, his peaceful activism should not be considered a crime or an offence in a free society.
Posted by Matthew Johnston
Endorsing Dion for Leader of the Opposition
There are a lot of Conservatives out there that are rubbing their chins in glee at the idea of the Liberals becoming a third place party. I'd rather groan in agony at the thought of the NDP becoming the official opposition. Why should it matter? If the NDP are the second party, chances are that the Conservatives have a majority government, the opposition can whistle to the wind after that, right?
People underestimate the power of the official opposition. They have power not in what they can do but in what they attack. Few would deny that Manning had an influence on Chretien's policies. Governments usually design their policy in a way that makes it difficult to attack. By doing so they often reach into the middle ground between the parties, and sometimes they reverse long standing policies to preempt an attack. Do you really want to see the NDP getting even this much influence?
The leader of the second party can set the tone of the debate in numerous ways. Most importantly, the leader of the second party can bring up issues and get more attention than the leaders of the smaller parties. What sort of issues will Jack Layton bring into federal politics? Higher corporate taxes and proportional representation are not things I want to see Parliament debating. With a Liberal official opposition it is not likely that these things will be seriously talked about. With a NDP official opposition they are almost certainly going to be issues.
The bottom line, be careful what you wish for.
Beaverhill Lake fire: exclusive Western Standard photos and interview
Alberta farmers between Vegreville and Tofield took a break from harvesting this afternoon to observe a growing grass fire on the edge of Beaverhill Lake, approximately 40 kilometres south-west of Vegreville.
In an interview with RCMP officers, on the scene to prevent drivers from crossing the fire line tape, the Western Standard learned that the fire was caused by quads driving in the tall grass on the dry lakebed.
A bulldozer and aerial firefighting water-bomber are expected to be on the scene shortly to suppress the fire which has spread into the surrounding bush.
Beaverhill Lake is a shallow lake that was once the second largest lake in Alberta. It has been declining in size and depth for 30 years and is now largely dry. The lake is home to the Beaverhill Bird Observatory, a shorebird and waterfowl natural area.
(Exclusive Western Standard photos can be found below the fold.)
Posted by Matthew Johnston
(RCMP enforce fire line to keep drivers from Beaver Hill Lake fire)
(Vegreville and Tofield area farmers take a break from harvesting to observe a grass fire on the edge of Beaver Hill Lake)
(Smoke billows from the Beaver Hill Lake grass fire)
Run Mercer! Run!
It sounds like what Rick Mercer fears more than a maniac on a stabbing rampage are women, minorities, and us gays being self-reliant and able to defend ourselves.
It was those crazy women and gays in that backwater village of Washington, D.C. that stood up as strong individuals to say that the city handgun ban in the nation’s capital put them at disproportionate risk of being victims of attacks. Instead of asking for some kind of handout, they demanded the freedom to stop being victims.
If this kind of freedom-talk just sounds like more “rage”, I will put it in a more compassionate language for the sensitive urbanite to digest: Women and gays, I'm told, love to shop. Concealed carry weapons laws would give them another wonderful accessory to shop for. Just think, women could have their sexy little subcompact Beretta Tomcat pistol for their Prada handbag, while us "homos" could add another dimension to our sexual innuendo-laced conversations. It would make a great theme for Toronto Fashion Week -- "Hick Meets Chic." And I can’t wait for all the conversations I’ll have after I get my .44 Magnum Colt Anaconda revolver -- talking about cocking action and ejector rods over martinis with friends.
As for the other deep-seated rage issues, thanks for setting me straight -- no pun intended. Supporting free enterprise (abolishing the CBC) and wanting to end native poverty (The Indian Act) aren’t actual policies to be discussed, as I wrongly thought. Thanks to you, Rick (and the mainstream media), I’ve learned they are in fact the first warning signs of that god-awful disease -- conservatism!
Phew, it’s a good thing I was turfed before anyone else caught it. That being said, I would like to let Mercer know that liberalism has been diagnosed as a mental disorder by Dr. Lyle Rossiter, M.D. The cure will be released as part of my platform when I run for the leadership of the Conservative Party.
So don’t worry Rick, while you’re running for the exit and screaming like a girl, those of us packing heat will make sure no maniacs are coming after you. Run, Mercer! Run!
Libertarian abortion compromise (safe, legal, rare...and de-insured) could be tough to implement
Libertarian Party leader Dennis Young provided Western Standard readers with a sneak peak at the party’s abortion policy -- and the response from pro-lifers has so far been positive but measured. The response from ardent pro-choice libertarians like Marc Emery has been negative but measured. In the end, the party may have struck exactly the right cord on this issue.
The policy is simple enough:
While the Libertarian Party supports safe, legal access to abortion, we also believe that the “freedom of conscience” of those who oppose abortion must be respected. The Libertarian Party will defend “freedom of conscience” and promote real choice by removing all federal government funding to the provinces for medically unnecessary abortions.
Young restated the policy in his CBC free air time address which will begin airing on Monday:
The Libertarian Party will fight to keep abortion safe and legal, but we also feel a compromise is needed to ensure that the deeply held views of pro-life Canadians are respected. If elected, I will work to protect the freedom of conscience of pro-life medical workers and taxpayers by getting the federal government out of the abortion business.
Young wants to “get the federal government out of the business of abortion,” whatever it might take as long as it is in keeping with libertarian principles.
While the policy is simple in principle, implementation may be a different story.
Joanne Byfield with Alberta Pro Life said “I applaud the Libertarian Party for having the courage to venture into this policy area,” but raised a number of challenges that might make the policy difficult to implement for any federal government.
When it comes to forcing taxpayers to pay for all abortions, that is a provincial decision. It may be that the money used by some provinces to pay for abortions is derived from federal government transfers, but provincial governments have the authority to decide what procedures will be considered ‘medically necessary’ and therefore covered under their provincial health act. Michael Kirby made this point in his Senate committee's interim report on health care: ‘The determination of what services meet the requirement of medical necessity is made in each province by the provincial government in conjunction with the medical profession.’
Having said all that, I would still be thrilled to have an elected federal government clearly say that this is an issue for provinces to decide. Right now, provinces love to pass the buck and say that the courts have decided they have to pay or that the Canada Health Act requires them to pay. The CHA does not require that. There have been two fairly recent court cases in Canada, one in Manitoba and one in Quebec, in which provincial courts have said the province had to pay for abortions at private clinics but neither province appealed the decision. In both cases the provincial governments simply caved in and forced taxpayers to pick up the tab. It might help taxpayers to pressure their provincial governments if the federal government would remove any confusion about jurisdiction. The former Liberal government, under successive health ministers Alan Rock, Anne McLellan and Ujjal Dosanjh, all threatened provinces with penalties if they didn't pay for abortions.
I'm not a Libertarian but I am pro-life. When I look at my options in this federal election, I don't see a federal party with seats in the House of Commons that cares about my views. The Conservatives threw us overboard two weeks before calling the election just to be sure nobody could accuse them of having any social conservative policies. The irony is that they used a bill, C-484, that so clearly and explicitly said that legal abortions were not in any way threatened. It would have penalized people who injure or kill an unborn child in the course of an attack on a pregnant woman. The pro-abortion crowd stampeded to abandon all those ‘willing mothers’ and ‘wanted children’ they like to talk about in order to kill the bill.
So does the Canada Health Act require the provinces to finance abortions? (Byfield says “no” but the courts have said otherwise.) Would the Libertarian Party policy then require an amendment to the Canada Health Act to prohibit the public funding of abortions? A federal Libertarian government could withhold federal transfer payments to provinces that fund abortion, but that would surely raise jurisdictional issues. Since small “l” libertarians traditionally support private healthcare, could privatization come incrementally by removing one insured service after another, starting with those that most divide Canadians, abortion being the best example.
Notwithstanding these policy challenges, Dr. Will Johnston, President of Canadian Physicians for Life, likes the idea Libertarian policy in principle:
"CPL finds it disturbing that there is a strong consensus for many uncontroversial health services that need far more funding while the taxpayer has no choice but to pay to cause harm through abortion.”
Not everyone is applauding Young's decision to make abortion an issue in this election, however. Libertarian publisher and activist Marc Emery, who has endorsed Young and continues to support him, said:
"...this is a poor policy decision. I agree that those opposed to abortion should not be forced to fund it. But the reality is that taxpayers are forced to fund immoral wars, inoculations, the United Nations, corporate welfare, porno movies, CBC, hundreds of obscene government programs....This policy smacks of expediency."
Posted by Matthew Johnston
Blogging roundtable: Candidates dropping like flies
UPDATED with Steve Janke's response.
"I'm beginning to get the sense that candidates being forced to resign thanks to the efforts of bloggers like yourselves is the major issue in this election. It isn't the Green Shift, it isn't any substantive policy issue; it's candidates getting busted for saying things that maybe they shouldn't have said, or putting six too many joints in their mouth on YouTube, or wondering out loud about what "really" caused 9/11 etc.
Do you agree?
And: What is the significance of all the candidates that have been forced to resign thanks to past blogging/online activities?"
Answers are beginning to trickle in. Here are some highlights:
Jason Cherniak thinks bloggers have a competitive advantage over traditional media--bloggers can publish their stories faster (as long as they "suitably hedge" their language). "Bloggers'," writes Cherniak, "initial stories allow journalists to do even more research on their own, if they are interested, without the story waiting around in some back room or being ignored entirely. While blogs may be speeding up the rate at which bad candidates are discovered, I think those issues are only gaining prominence because the media are too bored to cover policy."
M.J. Murphy, meanwhile, thinks bloggers digging up dirt on candidates is the story of this election, but only because, otherwise, the election stories were going to be boring. "It isn't like we bloggers," he wrote, "were distracting everyone from a deep political debate that would have happened if only we hadn't been digging dirt."
Robert Jago, meanwhile, thinks bloggers have taken up the task of really vetting candidates that weren't vetted properly by the major political parties: "Parties aren't prepared, and they're recruiting any random warm body without doing a full vetting," he wrote.
Apart from the lack of preparation by the major parties, the other element, explains Jago, is the ignorance of reporters. They're insufficiently aware of the merely apparent, rather than real, power of blogs. And this appearance of power is sufficient to give blogs actual power. "What I have noticed," writes Jago, "is that people who don't have a deep knowledge of blogs or new media have an out-sized respect for them and will act on their tips much more readily than they would act on the tips of a random reader."
Jago is sure this won't happen again. I think he's right.
Matthew Good will have nothing to do with the WS. Which is too bad. (Does he know the WS is under new management? I'm still going to buy your albums, Good, even if you don't read the WS. Because you make good music. For example, this song is solid. And this song was one of my favourites when I was in undergrad.)
Our reputation didn't keep other left-wing bloggers from responding. Dr. Dawg, for instance, was all-too-happy to chime in. "Certainly anyone active in the community leaves more of a paper trail now than at any other period in history," he wrote. He's not entirely sure about whether or not this is good or bad for democracy: "We've all made one or two off-the-wall comments in our time--maybe even more," he writes, and adds, rhetorically, "should a lifetime of public service be demolished by a few remarks?"
Echoing Cherniak's remarks, Terry Glavin (who is also left-of-centre politically) wrote: "I'd go further and say it's not just about the ability of diligent bloggers to turn up "gaffes," but rather bloggers doing real journalism while the mainstream press is largely a prisoner of its own deadlines."
In addition to this, Glavin thinks the political spectrum is changing, especially with the emergence of the Green and Bloc Parties. Traditional left-wing, right-wing politics is changing with more subtle sub-divisions and distinctions -- it's much more like a "lava lamp" nowadays, he writes. And that, he claims, is "Huge Story Number One." Meanwhile, "Huge Story Number Two" is the fact that bloggers are digging up dirt on the candidates, and finding nasty skeletons in just about every closet.
Janke's of the opinion that the numbers make a difference--hundreds of bloggers can cover one story, approach various angles, with the "aggregate effect [being] a review that is both broad and deep." What he calls the "network effect of the internet" just is these hundreds of bloggers "each focusing on one part as per their openly-admitted biases, using the mechanism of online blogs and feed aggregators to knit their work together."
You can read the complete and unedited messages below the fold. If Kinsella, and Taylor get back to me, I'll post their comments as well. You're welcome, dear reader, to provide your own take on these issues as well in the comments.
"One element of this phenomenon might be that given the sheer number of bloggers acting, personal biases cancel out. For instance, Lesley Hughes is a journalist, so maybe journalists only gave her a passing glance, assuming journalists would not likely be a source of an interesting story. Not deliberately, of course, but it's a matter of so much research and so little time -- everyone has to allocate their time where they believe they are likely to find a story. But with hundreds of bloggers contributing their portion of time, and with each picking different places to focus, the aggregate effect is a review that is both broad and deep. This is an outgrowth of the network effect of the Internet. Before you had a dozen reporters splitting their time between several stories, each in isolation. Now you have hundreds, each focusing on one part as per their openly-admitted biases, using the mechanism of online blogs and feed aggregators to knit their work together.
Is there a new focus on individual candidates and their foibles? It's not a new focus, really, but a more effective one, I think. The Internet and blogging is new, the people are not."
"Candidates resign in every election. The difference this time is that blogs are being used as a medium to get out the information. Bloggers do not have the same editorial concerns that the main stream media have, so they are able to run with a story while in the process of completing research as long as they suitably hedge their language.
Bloggers’ initial stories allow journalists to do even more research on their own, if they are interested, without the story waiting around in some back room or being ignored entirely. While blogs may be speeding up the rate at which bad candidates are discovered, I think those issues are only gaining prominence because the media are too bored to cover policy."
"Peter, I think what us bloggers have unearthed about various candidates is the story of the election, but only because we have stepped into a vacuum that the MSM has been unable to fill, and the campaigns unwilling or unable to fill.
I mean, if you look at the way the first week unfolded, this was all going to be about how Stephen Harper looked in a sweater vs. "Isn't Dion a Wimp and doesn't he have a weird tax plan?" For example, some of the best reporters in Canada were following Harper around and there was no real news coming out of that plane, just photo-ops. Add to that the fact that nobody can remember what Dion says five minutes after he says it, and you had a real snore of an election unfolding.
The blogging follies, the various ways people gamed the Tory website to make the party look silly... at least these are entertaining, if not enlightening. It isn't like we bloggers were distracting everyone from a deep political debate that would have happened if only we hadn't been digging dirt. You can even argue that, since most of the stuff uncovered came from public forums, bloggers have been performing a real service... uncovering the truth about candidates' views before they swallowed whatever party line."
"This is coming up in this election because of two things: preparation and ignorance.
Parties aren't prepared, and they're recruiting any random warm body without doing a full vetting. This internal email from the Greens is telling:
"Think about who you know in the ridings listed below and send us names and ridings of people you think would be good Green MPs, even if you have no contact info. Could be your mother, your neighbour or someone you've seen in the newspaper. We'll take it...
So that everyone in Canada has the opportunity to vote Green, we'll also take names of people willing to just put their names on the ballot in the event we do not find enough candidates."
As is this comment from Jack Layton:
Layton "We thought it had been adequate. Evidently not ... We're reviewing it, no question about that. In this era of Googles and everything else there's obviously new techniques we may be able to employ."
That's the biggest part of it.
The second part is this -- I can't make a politician resign. In the last week, my blog got 15,000 hits. That means it's one of the top 10 blogs in Canada. And still it ranks lower than the Port Alberni Daily whatever. The blogosphere is tiny. The reason we have the influence we do is because of the ignorance of reporters.
I did an interview with a newspaper last week and got a call back from the reporter asking me to clarify what flickr was. She had never heard of it. What I have noticed is that people who don't have a deep knowledge of blogs or new media have an out-sized respect for them and will act on their tips much more readily than they would act on the tips of a random reader.
Look, outing idiotic politicians has been the raison d'etre of the (MSM) media since the first days of the Reform party. They are primed for these sorts of stories. I don't need to sell them something new -- I just need to push them in the right direction.
The parties should have prepared these people better. But they haven't & together with the sub-standard vetting, and the ignorance of new media, we in the blogosphere are reaping the rewards.
It won't happen next time.
"Sorry, I'll have nothing to do with the Western Standard."
"Certainly anyone active in the community leaves more of a paper trail now than at any other period in history. The Internet candidate search really began last election--an NDP candidate had made some remarks that not even the CJC thought were anti-Semitic, but he was bounced as an NDP candidate anyway after an assiduous reporter tracked them down.
The truth is, I don't know whether a floodgate has been opened here, or whether, on the other hand, more people are now involved in the candidate vetting process, in effect.
Is this good for democracy? Well, we should all be able to stand on our records, or fall on them. Liberal operative Jason Cherniak's incessant smearing aside, parties ought to know what their own candidates believe, and ditto, of course, the voters.
I am not without hesitancy on this matter, however. We've all made one or two off-the-wall comments in our time--maybe even more. : ) Should a lifetime of public service be demolished by a few remarks?
Being one of those who helped to bring down Lesley Hughes, I would say that it depends very much on the remarks. The Liberal candidate who wanted the army to go into Kanesatake and kill a bunch of Native people, for example, or the one who really believes that "Israelis" in the WTO had foreknowledge of 9/11 and left without telling anyone else... Well, as a citizen, I'd really like to know if someone purporting to represent me has views of that nature. So I hope this isn't going to be cast as yet another "free speech" issue; it's not.
There's a serious debate to be had here, though. Thanks for moving it along."
"I think you're on to something, Peter. I'd go further and say it's not just about the ability of diligent bloggers to turn up "gaffes," but rather bloggers doing real journalism while the mainstream press is largely a prisoner of its own deadlines. This has been coming for quite some long while, of course; I spent 15 years working for the dailies (and another 15 doing magazine journalism and whatnot) and over time, like a lot of journalists, I've watched the real-news quotient of the news pages shrink, crowded out by what we might call "official news" - press releases, press conferences, and various functions of a myriad public relations strategies crafted by any number of interest groups. So when something newsworthy is happening, journalists are increasingly too busy to notice.
There is something else going on, too, I think -- and bloggers are more likely to notice it. As the old parties morph, and the number of parties in contention have multiplied (the emergence of the Bloc and the Greens) the old spectrum we're familiar with is like some kind of lava lamp these days. While the Conservatives have had to shake out their own crackpots, what I'm noticing is something that is largely enfeebling the left (perhaps it's because I come from the left): The NDP is no longer solidly rooted in working class culture, and has embraced a broad field of oppositional or "protest" cultures where contempt for the working class is commonplace and a great deal of serious derangement is to be found, as well -- witness the way irrational, so-called "anti-war" and conspiracy-type politics has come to animate the NDP's activist base and find its way into candidates (Bev Collins being the most obvious and most recent example). The Greens have been similarly plagued, owing to their counterculture roots. And it's even corroding the Liberal Party, as we saw in the case of Canadian Demension's Leslie Hughes.
That, I think, is Huge Story Number One. The fact that bloggers are exposing this sort of thing (most notably doing the journalistic heavy lifting of the sort that Robert has been up to) is Huge Story Number Two.
And not necessarily in that order of preference.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Bob Barr responds to the Obama/McCain presidential debate
From reason: "On Friday, September 26 at Reason Magazine's Washington DC Headquarters, Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr participated in the presidential debates with a live studio audience. Here, he makes his closing statement and fields questions from the audience; the moderator is Reason Editor in Chief Matt Welch."
Wheat Board wisdom from Manitoba farmer in New York Times
Jim Pallister, member of the advisory panel of Calgary-based private equity agriculture firm Agcapita Farmland Investment Partnership, was interviewed by the New York Times about his views on the government monopoly on marketing western Canadian wheat. Here’s what he had to say:
"The proof of the state monopoly's inefficiency”, said Jim Pallister, a farmer opponent, “is that American farmers rarely try to send their wheat north to get Canadian prices. You don't see people in Florida trying to take a rowboat to Havana”. The majority of western farmers appear to be in favor of the Wheat Board's abolition and political pressure is building to remove its regulatory monopoly. Jim Pallister is a high profile figure in the farming community and an articulate critic of the Wheat Board's monopoly position in the market.
Pallister is a Manitoba farmer and brother to Conservative MP Brian Pallister, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade and to the Minister of International Cooperation.
(Video) Secret Liberal phone calls: "What else are the Liberals hiding from Canadians?"
Do the Tories have a "hidden agenda?" If the following videos are any indication, it might be the Liberal Party with the hidden agenda.
Stephen Taylor has posted five videos from a "secret" (or so the video claims) teleconference call on September 22nd that was leaked. The videos are pretty powerful, and could hurt the Liberals significantly.
Watch the videos.
Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason wants to shut down a new healthcare facility in Calgary, but this may violate the Charter
Friends of Medicare are in the middle of a tour across Alberta to promote a new report the organization claims proves the Alberta public healthcare system can handle the rising cost of healthcare expected as the province’s population ages.
In a media statement released on September 23rd, Friends of Medicare wrote:
…it is well within our financial capacity to deal with the needs of our rising seniors' population. A comprehensive economic analysis by economist Greg Flanagan for the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute demonstrates that a modest annual health budget increase of 1.3 percent is enough to pay for health services as they are provided now, despite a projected doubling of our seniors' population in this province over the next 20 years.
This study contradicts the notion that health care spending is out of control, and that it will eat up public budgets in the coming decades. In fact, once population growth and inflation are factored in, our health care expenditures are quite affordable, and we certainly have both the capacity and the responsibility to do more to meet the future health care needs of our population than what we are doing at present.
David Eggen, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare, brought the “Sustainable Healthcare for Seniors” tour through Calgary on September 24th at a meeting held at the Unitarian Church.
In a speech introducing Dr. Flanagan, Eggen said “perhaps one of the most valuable things you own is the medical card that you have in your pocket.” I’ve been thinking about that comment and I suppose my Alberta healthcare card is one of the most valuable things I own. But its value comes in part from the fact that its grants me access to a single, monopoly healthcare provider – the Alberta government. By excluding competitors in the healthcare field, the Alberta government – and all provincial governments – has created an unhealthy, dependent relationship between public healthcare providers and consumers. The value of your government medical card is based in part on the ability of the government to exclude choice from the healthcare system.
(If the government nationalized food stores and excluded competition in the food industry, you can be sure food vouchers would be worth their weight in gold during times of rationing, and the Friends of Food Vouchers would be telling you that without government food vouchers you would be forced to deal with the cruel vagaries of the market and would likely starve.)
Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason was at the event and agreed to do an interview with the Western Standard.
I asked Mason what he thought about the Jacques Chaoulli Supreme Court decision. Western Standard editor Peter Jaworski reported in 2004 that “[Chaoulli,] the 52-year-old family physician[,] is arguing that Canada's health care system is in violation of Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That section reads that Canadians have the right to ‘life, liberty, and security of the person.’ Waiting times for surgery in Canadian hospitals are so long, he argues, that they endanger our health. Because Canadians are prohibited from paying to get the care they need, the security of their person is compromised.” The Supreme Court agreed.
Mason is familiar with the Supreme Court decision but argued that the decision allows for private healthcare only in instances where the public system has failed to provide timely access: “If the public health insurance program, or the public health system, can not provide timely access to necessary care then the government can not exclude people from seeking care some place else, from a private delivery. That was the decision.”
He’s right, of course.
Mason also argued that “It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that everyone has timely access to care, and that’s not happening now.”
So Mason acknowledges that the Supreme Court ruling in the Chaoulli case makes it unconstitutional to prevent people from seeking private healthcare solutions if the government is not providing timely access to healthcare services. Then he acknowledges that the government is, in fact, not providing this timely access. The logical conclusion from here is to allow Albertans to access private care at least until such time as the province can find a way to provide the timely care that Mason is demanding in a sustainable fashion. But that’s not Mason’s view.
The Western Standard reported on September 22nd that Mason wants to shut down a newly opened private healthcare diagnostic facility in Calgary:
While the Copeman Healthcare Centre in Calgary could save lives, Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason said today that the facility breaches the Canada Health Act and should be shut down.
"This is queue jumping. The Copeman clinic checks your wallet before it checks your pulse and that's no way to run a health care system in Canada,” Mason said. "Copeman calls this the second phase of medicare but Albertans know two-tiered privatization when they see it.”
If Albertans aren’t getting access to the healthcare they need in a timely fashion, as Mason argues, the NDP should welcome the arrival of the Copeman Healthcare Centre.
(Picture: David Eggen, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare, speaks to an audience in Calgary on September 24th about “Sustainable Healthcare for Seniors”)
Libertarian Party leader uses free CBC airtime to take on Harper’s record
In accordance with the Canada Elections Act, the CBC offers candidates free time broadcasts. Libertarian Party leader Dennis Young was in the CBC studio in Calgary on Friday to produce two-minute and 30-second TV and radio spots. The spots will begin airing on Monday, but the Western Standard has received a copy of the scripts.
Young uses his TV and radio ads to take aim at Stephen Harper's record and says the Prime Minister is not a conservative.
Here's the two-minute script:
Dennis Young – Two Minute Script
I’m Dennis Young, leader of the Libertarian Party. I’m running against Stephen Harper in Calgary South West to contrast the Conservative record against our agenda for economic and personal liberty.
When Harper was a Reform MP, he fought against the over-regulation of safe, natural healthcare products. Now that he’s in power, he no longer cares about freedom of choice in healthcare, and instead introduced legislation that would put the government in control of herbal supplements.
Harper has ignored millions of average Canadians and even members of his own caucus who believe our marijuana laws are unjust, unfair and need changing. Harper’s plan for a Bush-style war on drugs will fill our prisons with non-violent marijuana users and escalate the violence on our streets.
Ignoring the advice of economists and tax experts, Harper has been tinkering with the GST. This is political opportunism, not good tax policy. The Libertarian Party would introduce a low, flat income and corporate tax that would make our tax system fairer, simpler and more efficient.
On April 5, 1995, Stephen Harper was the only Reform MP to support Bill C-68, the legislation that created the firearms registry. This legislation has made criminals out of thousands of law-abiding farmers and hunters. The registry must be scrapped, but can Harper really be trusted to do this?
The Libertarian Party will fight to keep abortion safe and legal, but we also feel a compromise is needed to ensure that the deeply held views of pro-life Canadians are respected. If elected, I will work to protect the freedom of conscience of pro-life medical workers and taxpayers by getting the federal government out of the abortion business.
The Libertarian Party believes Canadians can be trusted with economic and personal liberty. If you share our vision for Canada, vote for the Libertarian Party.
And here's the 30-second script:
Dennis Young - 30-second Script
I’m Dennis Young, leader of the Libertarian Party. As a former soldier and policeman, I bring real world experience and conservative values to my campaign against Stephen Harper in Calgary South West.
Harper broke his promise to seniors to not tax income trusts; he’s responsible for creating the biggest and most wasteful government in Canadian history; and he actually voted for the national firearms registry.
Stephen Harper is not a conservative.
Vote for economic and personal liberty. Vote for the Libertarian Party.
(Picture: Libertarian Party leader Dennis Young at the CBC studio in Calgary)
The False Compassion of Liberalism
This random blogger, in responding to something that I wrote the other day, begins shedding crocodile tears for those allegedly martyred by de-regulation.
Mike Harris destroyed Ontario's finances and managed to kill people with their drinking water. His incompetent finance minister went on to Ottawa where he's backed us up into a deficit situation while Canadians have been dying from eating contaminated meat.
I mean, folks, let's get real here - people with compromised immune systems die of all sorts of things all the time. I'm constantly amazed that the left can get so worked up over micro-issues while they ignore the most obvious point, especially in the context of the recent Listeriosis outbreak - namely that the most obvious unnatural cause of death in this country is our atrocity of a health care system.
A lot of people die in this country every day because our socialized medical system is ponderously slow and generally incompetent. Indeed, I daresay that a number of those recent tainted-meat deaths, given that much of this meat was served by various public institutions, can be attributed to slow and sloppy care and poor living conditions in hospitals and other facilities.
Most of you have seen the inside of some of these extended care facilities, haven't you? My Grandmother ended her days in one (since my deadbeat Aunt - who later had the nerve to sue the Provincial Government over her poor standard of care - had stolen all of her money). They're not places where people are likely to get the sort of timely care and attention needed to head off the progress of anything.
But, beyond that, let's cut to the cold hard truth - most of the people who died from this, given that they died from such a minor ailment, didn't have very much time left in any case. What do they have to say to the countless others, who could have survived, who have died because they were forced, like prisoners on a grim death march, to worship at the altar of socialized medicine?
Liberals like to cry a lot about people who may or may not have died because of inadequate regulation (regardless of the other factors involved), but they have very little to say about the many needless and meaningless deaths that are directly caused by their religious devotion to socialism in health care. How many people have died because they've had to wait too long for attention for their heart problems, or because their cancer wasn't detected early enough because it takes months to see the right specialist in this country?
Socialist medicine is an abomination. It's a moral crime. It's rooted in a false and forced idea of equal human worth. We're all equal, they say, so therefore we should all have the exact same access to health care.
Though, of course, that's not the way it really ought to work. We must all admit - even the most ardent socialist - that there are limits on the resources that a society can devote to health care. Everyone, regardless of their political orientation, has a number where they're going to say "stop" because if you never did you would reach a point where there would be, literally, no money for anything else in the world.
Thus, we are faced with a basic problem of scarcity and distribution. How do we divide a finite resource? A simple equal division - what the left claims to want - is the least efficient method of dividing up a resource. Though, in effect, medical socialism is literally - medical resources, in a socialized system, tend to be devoted to those with the greatest need.
In reality, that's a bad thing. Because those with the greatest needs are those, in general, least likely to make effective use of the resource. That is to say that those with the greatest medical needs consume resources disproportionate to their value. A drug addict, for example, can have nearly unlimited medical needs and have very little to offer in return. And, in a socialist system, because resources chase needs, the needs of that drug addict may mean that resources are allocated to cover their unlimited needs (since a socialist system is inherently inflexible) that could have instead cured three people of more utility - say a Police Officer and a mother of four. If you're drawing from this that a socialized medical system that effective practiced social triage would be efficient, you'd be right up until you consider how a leftist measures relative worth.
That's the beauty of a free-market system. It distributes resources based upon, in the end, a person's worth - both financial and otherwise. In an emergency I - hardly a person of unlimited means - could pay for quite substantial care for myself. I have the family resources to, if necessary, pay several times that. If we had a purely free-market system and hadn't been paying taxes for decades to support it, I (and those I could count on) would have far more than that.
At the same time, in a free-market system, others would have the same chance to access care based on their relative worth. There are many people - at least a dozen - that I'd probably lend or give money to in a medical emergency based upon their personal value to me. There are a select few who, when it came down to it, I'd probably liquidate every single thing I own to assist. I'm sure that most of you feel the same way as well.
That's how a health care system should work - with people paying their own way, and met with genuine compassion. Instead, we have a system where countless lives are destroyed by the maw of monstrous regulation, while the left pretends to be desperately worried because a few people got sick from some bad meat.
Friday, September 26, 2008
The First Act of a Tory Majority...
It's so obvious, I can't believe that no one has mentioned it. The very first thing that a Conservative majority government should do is to repeal the Liberal election public financing law.
After all, from the looks of things, the Liberal Party will end the election effectively bankrupt. Pulling out their finances right after the election would change "effectively" to officially.
Indeed, this idea is so good that perhaps a few of you might decide to forward it to vendors, television stations, and so forth who, after realizing that this is actually possible, might decide to demand payment from the Liberals up front - in cash. Just a thought.
I mean, my friends, how often do we get to combine solid conservative principles (no public money for politicians) with good, old-fashioned vengeance?
Commercial freedom of expression and the war on advertising
Commercial freedom of expression has never been a particularly robust creature in Canada. The country’s courts, except for a few notable exceptions, as well as the chattering class have taken the condescending view that commercial speech deserves a much less protected status than, for instance, political speech, since it touches on interests that are supposedly peripheral rather than central to democratic life.
But what has really tipped the scales against commercial freedom of expression, particularly with the general public, has been the incessant attack on advertising by the public health community and its allied special interest groups opposed to smoking, drinking, gambling, and eating (sorry, only incorrect eating). While skepticism about the aims, methods and reach of advertising is at least as old as Vance Packard’s 1957 “classic” The Hidden Persuaders, worries about the effects of advertising have reached a new level due to the careful efforts of the public health paternalists.
Luik’s column on commercial free speech and advertising restrictions is timely as the Harper Conservatives have promised to further restrict tobacco advertising as well as ban flavoured cigarillos, all for the sake of children, of course.
Luik makes the case, however, that children are less susceptible to advertising than public health advocates would have us believe.
For one thing, the story’s claim about vulnerable children who are insufficiently skeptical about advertising and thus manipulated by it is simply untrue. Several recent studies, including one by David Buckingham for the UK’s regulatory authorities have found that children, even quite young children are surprisingly knowledgeable both about what advertising is about and also how it works. Equally important, there are significantly skeptical about its claims, understanding that it is designed to portray something in the best light in order to get them to buy it.
Luik argues that while the public health case against commercial free speech is weak, we shouldn’t expect politicians to reverse their policies.
But don’t expect those news hour announcements from health ministers about banning advertising for this product or that to stop any time soon. Advertising and commercial speech in general are just too convenient a villain for too many people. After all, without advertising as the bad guy, we might just have to address the real reasons that people and particularly kids did certain things.
Read “Commercial freedom of expression and the war on fun” by John Luik.
And don’t forget to help the Western Standard get free speech and expression on the national televised debate among the major party leaders. Find out how here.
More 9/11 trutherism: NDP candidate Bev Collins gets called out by the Liberals in BC
The Liberals have issued the following press release in British Columbia, entitled "NDP running conspiracy theorist," subtitled "Bev Collins views insulting to victims of 9-11":
"Jack Layton must be held to account for approving the candidacy of Bev Collins, a high profile conspiracy theorist and former Canadian Action Party (CAP) President and NDP candidate in Cariboo-Prince George.
Sadly, it appears that the NDP didn’t do any research when they recruited this controversial candidate, who even speaks at “9/11truth conferences.” When confronted with the possibility by the Vancouver Sun yesterday, NDP campaign manager Gerry Scott was quoted as saying “I’m sure she doesn’t believe that” (Vancouver Sun, 24 September 2008)
Here are the facts:
There are countless hours of video and audio that show exactly what Bev Collins really believes. (Links and transcripts attached) The local print media has also reported extensively on what Bev Collins believes. For example:
“With Rumsfeld, Rove, and now Gonzales out of the way, Bush is losing his support base faster than he can say Al-Qaida. Now officials are warning their fellow Americans and the world that Cheney and friends are planning to launch a 9/11-style attack on American soil within the coming months to bring about martial law and keep their hold on power. This could be ignored as a conspiracy, except for the high-calibre people who signed on to this public written warning including a former colonel and congresswoman.”
-Running for cover from all the conspiracy theories,” Prince George Citizen (31 August 2007)
“The CAP [Canadian Action Party, of which Collins was president] is launching an independent internal investigation,” she said. There’s so much complicity and questions surrounding that day. And now we’re being stripped of our rights and freedoms with anti-terrorism laws, rules and regulations
“Collins’ party happy with turnout North American union, potential war hot topics,” Cariboo Press (21 October 2007)
Was Jack Layton aware of Ms. Collins’ views prior to her becoming an NDP candidate?
If not, now that Jack Layton has this information, will he repudiate or endorse the extreme views of this candidate?"
Read their backgrounder on this issue here
And another Liberal blogger candidate blogs some stuff he probably shouldn't have
This time, it's Prince George Liberal candidate Drew Adamick.
In a July 4th post from this year, entitled "Why the Liberals need to revamp themselves or die off," Adamick wrote:
"I’ve read the Liberal “Green Shift”. It’s about time the Liberals came out with some kind of policy. Too bad it’s flawed in many respects: it does not truly reflect the current realities of rural and northern Canadians, it does not penalize heavy polluters enough, it does not truly provide incentives for people to take transit, drive less, use fuel-efficient vehicles, it does not provide enough incentives for people to use less fuel. I’m not against carbon taxes per se, just the two proposals that were put out there.
The Liberal proposal is a tax shift, plain and simple…
This plan is not “revenue-neutral”. Seriously, when are taxes “revenue-neutral”? I guess that’s some pretty good weed they’ve got going around Liberal policy conventions as of late. They come out with nice ideas, just not ones that are practical and can be easily sold to voters (well, I suppose they could be if they were more up front about what the policy entails)."
He backtracked quite a bit in a post on September 19:
"My reaction to the Green Shift was a knee-jerk one. Combined with the recent introduction of the provincial carbon tax and how it may affect Northern BC, I felt at the time that it was a flawed policy. And I also had some critical words for Stephane Dion as well as a leader for coming out with this policy at this time.
I then later took the time to read the policy in detail and reflect on it. And you know what, it is pretty good policy, and very thought out. I better understand the potential benefits the plan has to our environment, our economy and our communities. I also feel that regardless of whether or not the plan is good or not, Dion at least has the integrity to stand behind it and even make improvements on it. He's putting his neck on the line, being very much the Stephane Dion that stood up to Lucien Bouchard and Quebec seperatists and never backed off. Gotta admire and respect him for that."
Blogging: now more dangerous to political candidates than ever.
h/t Robert Jago. He's nailed another one.