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Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama's aunt is an illegal alien living on welfare

Heh.  McCain probably can't talk about this, but someone sure should.

Obama's aunt - who he wrote about in his book - is apparently an illegal alien (one ordered deported) living on welfare in Boston.  Though, it should be noted, she did seemingly find the money to donate to his campaign.

I wish there was a reporter this weekend with the guts to ask him if he would allow his aunt to be deported, if elected.

Is this a legitimate story?  I believe it is.  After all, Obama's the one who wants to compel everyone else to be less "selfish."  He's the one filled with lofty pronouncements about his family.  He's the one who traded on his exotic African relatives to get to where he is today (after all, what is "Dreams From My Father", other than one of those soft-focus paeans to imagined African wisdom?).

How can a man talk about sharing, love, compassion, and so forth while he lets his aunt live in a run-down slum on welfare - indeed, accepting her money?  For that matter, given that she is committing a crime, and that it's illegal for his campaign to have taken her money, "what did he know and when did he know it?" seems like an appropriate question.  Particularly in light of this:

She declined to answer most other questions about her relationship with the presidential contender until after the November 4 election. “I can’t talk about it, I just pray for him, that’s all,” she said, adding: “After the 4th, I can talk to anyone.”

So, is there a reporter out there with the guts to ask Obama, "Senator, when did you find out that your aunt was living illegally in the United States, indeed under a deportation order and why did you accept an illegal campaign contribution from her?"

Posted by Adam T. Yoshida on October 31, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (66) | TrackBack

I hope this one makes its way to Stockwell Day's new Inbox

The Chinese Communist regime is now admitting that its animal feed industry produced massive amounts of melamine-poisoned feed - and they have no idea how far the stuff went through the food chain (although we do geogrpahically that it reached the United States).

Feed and foodstuffs imported from Communist China will need a really close look for a very long time.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on October 31, 2008 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Toronto's budget to increase city debt

Mayor Miller has decided that now is not the time to cut back spending nor is it time to pay down any debt.  What do these hard times call for you ask?  Well increasing spending and the size of government of course!  Mr. Miller is asking for a capital budget of $1.6 billion, which would add $367 million to the debt making it $2.7billion.
This is what Mr. Miller told the Toronto Sun;

When I studied economics, I studied Keynesian economics, and it's very clear that at a time of uncertainty like this, governments should be investing, particularly in infrastructure that helps build a strong economy," he said. "That's what this budget is all about.

How long ago did he go to school?  Because I really think that he has to take a refresher course.  Deficit spending does not work.  Government spending does not generate real productivity and large debt hinders long term growth.  But whatever, what infrastructure are you improving?

$38 million to renovate Nathan Phillip Square (City Hall).

$80 million to make new bike paths.

$100 million to demolish the eastern part of the Gardiner.

Right because I can see why bike paths and fixing the council chambers is vital to the economy.  Also the best way to 'invest' into infrastructure is to rip a vital piece of it down?  Is this man insane?

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on October 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Georgia Straight "poised" to report that Dewey Defeats Truman?

Today's issue of The Georgia Straight, Vancouver's weekly alternative newspaper, has let the cat out of the bag about next Tuesday's U.S. elections. A photo of Barack Obama is featured on the front cover with the legend "Our Best Bet: Barack Obama is poised to become the most powerful man in the world. So what does this mean for Canada?"

Their feature story, by Doug Sarti, does qualify the cover stance by noting "if" Obama wins. Yet the fact that newspaper devotes two pages of speculation about what Obama might do as president (such as appointing Arnold Schwarzenegger as Secretary of Energy, for example) implies that the newspaper is acting as if it obvious that Americans must realize that they have to stop guzzling "the Bush Kool-Aid". So, they might as well run this story now.

Although this is not as egregiously obnoxious  as the newspaper in New Mexico that reported "Obama Wins!", The Georgia Straight is being a bit disrespectful towards U.S. voters who have yet to cast their ballots.

John McCain, the latest poll numbers report, is catching up to Obama. If he manages to pull off an upset next Tuesday, I'll bet the Straight's editors will wish that they had paid Mr. Sarti a "kill fee" and held the "What can we expect from President Obama" story, just in case. Better to be careful and wait than to look foolish, eh?

Posted by Rick Hiebert on October 30, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Ralph Nader: Why are you ignoring me?

Ralph Nader posted an open letter to the media, which we are publishing, in full, here on the Western Standard.

We haven't ignored third parties at the WS, even if we've been ignoring Ralph Nader. That's because we tilt to libertarian windmills, rather than left-wing windmills. At least, that's my explanation.

We've covered Ron Paul, Bob Barr, Dennis Young, Marc Emery and Paul McKeever extensively. We're proud of covering not just the majors, but the freedom movement as a whole. That includes third parties.

We tend to cover anyone or any group that promotes an expansion of social and economic liberty. Our mission at the WS is, in fact, to promote a culture of liberty in Canada. To do that, we're letting people know about the very many different ways in which they can push for liberty. And we're not partisans of one particular path to liberty. There are probably many diverse paths. Like activism, think tankery, education, and even through the political process.

That's why we've covered the Libertarian Party and Freedom Party in Canada, as well as the Ron Paul movement, the U.S. Libertarian Party, and others. We'll continue to do that.

I hope you understand, Ralph, why we don't really cover your campaign so much. We don't believe in a big government, and the denial of personal responsibility or individual liberty. And since you tend to promote more state action, we tend not to be interested in it.

But we're happy to post your open letter.

An excerpt:

There has been a witting or unwitting political bigotry against third parties and independent candidates, as there was years ago against minority voters. Against the status of such candidates obstructed through ballot access laws by the two parties that dislike competition they present other rigged ways to secure their domination over the electoral landscape, including gerrymandering each other in the majority of Congressional Districts, for example.

You can read the rest here.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 30, 2008 in Western Standard | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Bob Barr vs. Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are debating today at 4:30 p.m. EST.

You can watch the debate live by clicking here.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 30, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ignore the polls!

Karl Rove writes in the Wall Street Journal: Don't let the polls affect your vote.

Don't let the polls affect your vote?

Karl Rove means: Vote for McCain!

But why couldn't he mean: Vote your conscience!

Should I not let the polls affect my vote at all? Or should I let the polls affect my vote only a little (only enough to ignore all the third party choices)?

I wonder if people can make a good argument to distinguish letting polls affect your vote a little, versus not letting them affect you at all. Because if people would heed the advice of ignoring polls altogether, the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, and Ralph Nader would each get between 10 to 20 per cent of the vote. And the two-party monopoly in the U.S. would be crushed.

(And that would be a good thing).

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 30, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Harper's cabinet

Here it is, the list of MPs in cabinet positions.

First, those with new portfolios:

Those who will stay in their pre-election cabinet positions:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 30, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Meanwhile, Canada has a new Cabinet . . .

. . . and wihle my opinion counts for zilch up there, I'm much happier with this version than the last one.

I particularly look forward to Beijing trying to get around Trade Minister Stockwell Day.  Have fun, cadres!

Posted by D.J. McGuire on October 30, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Is Obama A Socialist?

No.  So says George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux (who also blogs over at cafehyek.com). But that's no reason to not be concerned over his "socialism-lite".  Read the article for the Christian Science Monitor here.

Since we're talking about Socialism, here's a great article in the Wall Street Journal about where the United State may be headed.

This is, I think, the proper way to asses the direction the political class is trying to take the U.S. right now.  Not to a Soviet-style hard-core Socialism, but to a stuffy, slow or no-growth European model of decay and constant nanny-state meddling, protectionism, unionism and cultural elitism.  We just may be about to take our place with the “retired” old-world powers of Europe.

I would add however, unlike the author, that I don't think a McCain victory next week would really stop it.  It has to be a public opinion shift, or else people have to feel what “soft-socialism” is like and dislike it enough to move past it.  Most American's still have that "Cowboy" spirit, and I think that if we start to become more Europe-like there will be significant revolt.  The college students, professors, do-gooders, non-profit workers, government employees, elderly, and union workers will love it; but the small businesspeople, the salesmen, the low-level corporate employees (not the big-wigs, they'll love the anti-competitive rules) will revolt.  They do most of the producing, so hopefully they'll have the power to overcome the rent-seeking class.

It's not damnation we have to fear, it's stagnation.

Posted by Isaac Morehouse on October 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

No free speech in Australia

The Australian government will now decide what its citizens can and cannot read on the web. (h/t/ drudge)

Posted by Moin A Yahya on October 30, 2008 in Freedom of expression | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Al & Mike Show Episode 43 - Incrementalism

Gerry Nicholls joins us to talk about incrementalism versus a more direct small-c conservative approach. Jay Currie joins us as well.

Listen Now

Subscribe to RSS: Click here for podcast RSS feed.

Subscribe in iTunes for your iPod: Click here (Must have iTunes installed)

Posted by Mike Brock on October 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Voting and Elections - how important are they?

As the U.S. election draws ever nearer, I thought I'd offer a post with some links to some articles and quotes that help put elections in perspective.

Should you vote for the "lesser of two evils"? - great article by the late Leonard Read

Lorna Doone and the 2008 Election - on why it's sad that who wins has to matter

Shut up and vote! - on why voter encouragement is stupid

The Election Doesn't Matter - on why there are better ways to fight for freedom (probably not for statism though)

The Four Boneheaded Biases of Stupid Voters - by Bryan Caplan on why voters make bad decisions

Stopy Worrying About the Election - on how you can always be free, regardless of who's in power

Some quotes:

“I am really sorry to see my Countrymen trouble themselves about Politics. If Men were Wise the Most arbitrary Princes could not hurt them. If they are not Wise the Freest Government is compelled to be a Tyranny. Princes appear to me to be Fools. Houses of Commons & Houses of Lords appear to me to be fools, they seem to me to be something Else besides Human Life.” - William Blake

“I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.” - Milton Friedman

"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right."
- H.L. Mencken

“And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.” - Frederic Bastiat

"An election is nothing more than the advanced auction of stolen goods"
- Ambrose Bierce

"Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters."
- C.S. Lewis

"Free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves."
- Herbert Marcuse

"An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry."
- T.S. Eliot

"Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" - Juvenal

Posted by Isaac Morehouse on October 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Political ad watch: Obama attack ad targets Sarah Palin

Ouch:

Here's a related ad from way back in the time machine (h/t Hit & Run):

h/t MH

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 29, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

reason eds & contribs & others announce who they're voting for

We have Slate's boring and predictable Obama-filled electoral choices, Kalim covered the non-endorsements of 18 leading conservatives in The American Conservative, and the gang at reason magazine today released their own list of who their editors and contributors and notable others will be voting for.

reason's is also a non-endorsement sort of voting bloc--none were particularly excited about any of the candidates. reason, being reason, also included answers to questions like "which president would you most like to see waterboarded" and "is this the most important election of your lifetime?"

Apart from reason eds & contribs, they also asked people like Steven Pinker (who talked about the Canadian Human Rights Commission here, and is a Canadian as well), Grover Norquist, comedian Doug Stanhope, amongst others.

The overall numbers:

Barack Obama: 12
Bob Barr: 10
John McCain: 3
Not this time/None of the Above: 5
I never vote: 2
Plead the fifth: 2
Anybody but McCain-Palin: 1

And the numbers for reason magazine eds & contribs:

Bob Barr: 7
Barack Obama: 3
Not this time/None of the Above: 3
I never vote: 2
John McCain: 1
Plead the fifth: 1
Anybody but McCain-Palin: 1

The more precise breakdown (because some reason-oids insist that they'll vote one way only if some conditions are met, etc., etc.):

Peter Bagge: Barr; Obama if close
Ronald Bailey: Obama
Radley Balko: Barr
Drew Carey: "Anybody but McCain/Palin"
Tim Cavanaugh: Obama
Shikha Dalmia: Nobody
Brian Doherty: Never votes
Nick Gillespie: Barr, if he votes
Katherine Mangu-Ward: Never votes
Michael Moynihan: Won't vote
Charles Oliver: Won't vote
Bob Poole: McCain
Damon Root: Probably nobody, maybe Barr
Jacob Sullum: Barr
Jesse Walker: Barr
David Weigel: Obama
Matt Welch: Probably Barr
Cathy Young: Probably Barr

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 29, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A bill to ban water bottles in Ontario

Bill 112 was introduced by Liberal MPP Kuldip Singh Kular and it passed first reading on October 21st, 2008.  This is explanatory note attached to the Bill;

The purpose of the Bill is to encourage public confidence in the water treated and supplied by municipal water systems and to reduce waste and the     consumption of energy associated with the production and recycling of plastic bottles by proposing a province-wide ban on the sale of single-use plastic bottles of water.

This is what Bill 112 proposes to do about it.

    Prohibition on sale of bottled water

   1.  No person shall sell or offer for sale in Ontario single-use plastic     bottles of water.

Individuals that break this hypothetical law would be facing a fine between $500 and $1500.  Corporations that are in violation would receive a fine of $10 000 for the first offence and $25 000 for repeated offences.  The directors or corporate officers that approve the sale would also receive a fine of up to $1000 and possible imprisonment for 1 year.

Kuldip Singh Kular is the representative for Bramalea-Gore-Malton and he is the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Health and Long Term Care.

Dr. Kular, I officially despise you.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on October 29, 2008 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (53) | TrackBack

Stephane Dion's Green Shift is well and truly dead

Well, if there was any doubt before, there isn't any now.  Someone in charge has directed the Liberal Party webmasters to alter TheGreenShift.ca yet again.  Immediately after Stephane Dion's historic loss, the Green Shift website disappeared, and attempts to reach it at TheGreenShift.ca caused you to be redirected to the main Liberal Party website.

But now the link to the Liberal Party has been deliberately removed.  Today, if you go to TheGreenShift.ca, a 302-redirect sends you to GreenShift.ca.  Remember Green Shift?  That is Jennifer Wright's company.  Wright sued the Liberals over their use of the name, a suit that was settled out of court with the agreement by the Liberals to pay Wright a licensing fee for the use of the name.

All that money spent on lawyers and licensing fees so that Stephane Dion could have his precious "Green Shift", and now the Liberals are sending traffic coming to their former website to Jennifer Wright's website.

Stephane Dion might have insisted on staying on as interim leader, but it sure looks like the Liberals aren't waiting for him to go before expunging Dion's contribution as thoroughly as possible.

From Angry in the Great White North.

Posted by Steve Janke on October 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Separatist to be Dean of the House of Commons

In case you missed it, Bloc MP Louis Plamondon has become the Dean of the House of Commons.  You get that title if you are the longest serving MP in the House of Commons.  Don't worry it's not a position of any real authority or importance.  It is more of a position of respect.  The only job that I know ofPlamondonlouis_bq_2 that's attached to it is presiding over the election of the Speaker of the House.

The Dean of the House of Commons is meant to be the steady hand.  The man with experience that other members from all parties can go to for advice.  Mr. Plamondon first became a Member for the PC Party in 1984.  With nearly a quarter of a century of experience, he is certainly qualified to give such advice.  Still I find this funny.

The ironies of giving a separatist such a title of institutional respect brings a smile to my cynical heart.  It demonstrates that the Bloc Quebecois has become an entrenched institution in Ottawa.  It was never suppose to be like that.  The Bloc were suppose to be the outsiders fighting the system from within.  Now they are an integral part of the hated federalist system.

It also says something about turn over in Canada compared to the States.  I forget the exact number but something around two thirds of the Members of Parliament get re-elected on average.  In the States it is more like 90% get re-elected.  The Dean of the House of Commons goes back to the mid 80s and the US Dean of the Senate goes back to the late 50s.

Even if it means that our most stable party caucus is the party that wants to leave the country, I truly think that Canada has the better of that deal.  No old tyrants in our Parliament thank you very much.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on October 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Reform, schmeform

The CCP's latest effort to make farmers feel better falls flat.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on October 29, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Alleged Assassination Plot a Ploy?

Jack McHugh, over at the SFEBlog has a post about the supposed assassination conspiracy against Obama.  Big surprise, it appears the media and law enforcement have over sensationalized it.  Whether or not this is a deliberate attempt to secure a specific electoral outcome I don't know, but all the incentives are there for media and law enforcement to over sensationalize this...and everything else.

Newspeople need customers and, "if it bleeds, it leads".  Law enforcement officials need taxpayers to feel that they are very very important and that without them we'd all be dead, and that they need more money.  Both of these arrangements make it advantageous to overblow security threats and violence.  As John Stossel would ask, are we scaring ourselves to death?

Posted by Isaac Morehouse on October 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Political Ad Watch: More from Maine Congressional candidate John Frary

FraryYou know John Frary, he's the colourful, delightfully frank, and solidly conservative Republican candidate for the House of Representatives in Maine's second congressional district. I introduced his campaign with what must be the most entertaining political debates I've ever seen, Peter Jaworski conducted a wide-ranging interview with him, and he's the author of our current feature article "Reconsidering the War on Drugs."

First up, here's his new radio spot "Three Amigos" [mp3]

And then, this, his latest ad "Has Your Patience Reached The Outer Limits":

Professor John Frary, ladies and gentlemen, the anti-Pelosi.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on October 29, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The American Conservative non-endorsement endorsements: "grim prospects for conservatives"

Thanks for those Slate endorsements Peter. I've been a regular reader of Slate forever and the weekly Slate Political Gabfest podcast is one of my weekend fixtures for below-the-fold US news and cocktail chatter (though I counterbalance it with AFF's Inside Washington Weekly for a libertarian-conservative take). I've grown to love the regular personalities on both.

Slate was a real innovator in online journalism (read this revealing 2004 profile in Seattle Weekly) and one of the first successes in a difficult business sector. Slate provides a lot of smart commentary, but they've always presented themselves as an opinionated magazine, not an objective newspaper. Sure, their perspectives are probably shared by many of their readers, but it certainly helps them gain reader trust and reach a wider audience when they don't hide their biases and even occasionally engage in these acts of full-disclosure. I wasn't surprised at all by the Obamalanche nor by Jack Shafer's vote for Barr–and I certainly wasn't bothered by it. What worries me is all the newsrooms where the results would be much the same, but all the same present themselves as an objective unbiased news source for their audience.

On a somewhat similar note, in the election edition of The American Conservative magazine, as in 2004, they have not endorsed any one candidate. Instead, the editors asked 18 "conservatives, libertarians, and independent thinkers," including many TAC staff and contributors, how they plan to vote for president. The diversity among this group is a stark contrast to the near-unanimity at Slate. Some of the individuals surveyed include Peter Brimelow of VDARE.com, Reid Buckley the son and family historian of William F. Buckley, Crunchy Con Rod Dreher, estranged neoconservative Francis Fukuyama, Joe Sobran, and Lew Rockwell. Here's the tally:

Barack Obama (Democratic): 5
John McCain (Republican): 3
Bob Barr (Libertarian): 2
Chuck Baldwin (Constitution): 2
Ron Paul (write-in): 1
Ward Connerly (write-in): 1
Non-voter: 4

While there's no clear favourite, Barack Obama comes out on top, followed close on the heels by non-voters and John McCain. While there were a couple of enthusiastic Obama supporters, all the McCain voters noted their reluctance and reservations.

When there's this much disagreement (and so much support for an evident socialist) among such a group who hold fairly similar principles and concerns and when even the conservative McCain voters will be holding their noses in the voting booth, if the GOP find themselves on the outs of the Presidency and both houses of Congress, as seems the likely result,  the party would be well advised to do some good hard thinking about what it is exactly they stand for anymore.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on October 29, 2008 in Media, U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Mexico Sun News declares "Obama wins!"

Obamawins From CNN's politicker:

For The New Mexico Sun News it is either a major scoop or “Dewey Beats Truman” déjà vu 60 years later.

“Obama Wins!” is the headline of the edition on newsstands now, complete with “special collector’s edition” in red bold typeface.

The Sun News is a bi-monthly newspaper and its Oct 26-Nov 8 issue had to hit the streets, and the newsstands, before the election. So the editors decided to make a leap of faith and declare Democrat Barack Obama the winner.

Via Drudge

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 28, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Voting machines: Should Americans be worried?

Check out the story here. Apparently, touch voting machines can go "out of calibration" (whatever that means):

Meanwhile, some smart computer science types at the University of California at Santa Barbara have published videos of them hacking a Sequoia touch-screen voting machine:

Part two here.

UPDATE: The Onion News Network had already covered the fact that Diebold had accidentally released the results of the sham election early:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 28, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Shocking news: Obama's money may be tainted

Here's a shocking video:

(What's so shocking about it, you ask? It's shocking because it's from CBS).

h/t TigerHawk

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 28, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

ELITE plan for American liberals who want to move to Canada (should John McCain win)

I think I've posted this video before. But it's been updated a little bit. And there really should be a video for libertarians and small government conservatives who want to move to Canada. Because we beat the U.S. in the latest Economic Freedom of the World annual report, our health care system is unconstitutional, and we haven't nationalized the banks (yet... and with your help, never).

Anyhow, here's the vid for libs:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 28, 2008 in Humour | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Slate announces who they're voting for

I like this very much. Slate has decided to make public who each of their employees will be voting for. While the results are deeply, deeply disappointing (how can you work anywhere with this much unanimity?), the idea is a really good one. I'd especially like to see news rooms do this on a regular basis.

Here are the (boring and predictable) results:

Barack Obama: 55
John McCain: 1
Bob Barr: 1
Not McCain: 1
Noncitizen, can't vote: 4

The single votes for McCain and Barr got me really excited. Here's their identity, as well as their explanation for why they're voting the way they are:

Rachael Larimore, Deputy Managing Editor and Copy Chief: McCain

This is a difficult election for me. But voting for John McCain is an easy choice. He's a man I admire, I agree with many of his policy positions, and, since I am a moderate but loyal Republican, I feel a kind of kinship with him. Barack Obama is an exciting candidate, and I wish I could share the enthusiasm so many Americans feel for him, but I feel like his worldview is Carter-esque, and I fear his economic policies will be, too.

However, I also think an Obama presidency can be a boon for Republicans, and not just because of the havoc a Democratic White House and a Democratic Congress could wreak. I don't hate President Bush like so many do, but even I can say his presidency has been a disappointment. And the Republican-led Congress was a disaster, as McCain pointed out, not in so many words, in his convention speech. I'm hopeful that an Obama victory would be a wakeup call as well as an opportunity—an opportunity for those who believe in limited government, individual freedoms, and free markets (yes, even in this crisis) to regain their influence, to take back the party from the religious right and social conservatives that have gained so much influence. So regardless of what happens on Nov. 4, I won't be too upset. But neither will I be too excited.

Yup, a McCain loss may shake the cobwebs from those small government conservative types who have been tossed aside in favour of the big government conservative variety.

Meanwhile, the Barr voter is the winner of the coolest kid at Slate contest:

Jack Shafer, Editor at Large: Bob Barr

I've cast a ballot for the Libertarian Party candidate for president in every election since I cast my first, which would be my write-in ballot for John Hospers in 1972. A long line of chowderheads have headed the Libertarian ticket since Hospers (don't ask about the veep candidates), but I've continued to punch Libertarian on my ballot because no other candidate or political party comes close to reflecting my political views of limited government, free markets, civil liberties, and noninterventionist foreign policy.

This year the party put up as its candidate a former Republican House member from Georgia, Bob Barr. As Libertarian candidates go, he's a chowderhead's chowderhead.

There's more from Shafer, which you can read here. One great quote about Obama: "I like his song, but I don't like the lyrics." And to finish with this flourish:

Which brings me back to Barr and the absentee ballot I cast for him this morning (Oct. 23). He gets my vote not because he'd be a good president. He wouldn't. He gets my vote not because he has a chance of becoming a president. He doesn't. And I didn't vote for him because he represents my views. He doesn't. I voted for Barr because he happens to stand adjacent to a set of values I cherish and that I've gotten into the habit of resubscribing to every four years—peace, prosperity, and liberty.

You got a problem with that?

If I end up reading Slate on a more regular basis, I want you to know it's because of you, Jack Shafer. It's because of you.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 28, 2008 in Media, U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Christian Science Monitor to scale back to weekly, focus on web

The Christian Science Monitor, aware, I suppose, of the dropping market share of newspapers, has decided to scale back from daily publication to weekly, and focus on the web beginning in 2009. Here's the New York Times piece on it (don't worry, if you click the link, physical paper won't come out of your computer), and here's the Monitor's explanation.

And here, meanwhile, is a video giving us more details about the decision to (and if it doesn't work for you, and it's not working for me either, go here. It's worth watching.)

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 28, 2008 in Media | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Bob Barr campaign is giving away a shotgun

Email from the Libertarian Party's Bob Barr for President campaign (this one is balls-to-the-wall awesome):

Subject: Which candidate for president has a permit to carry a concealed firearm?

Text: No this isn't a trivia question.  And, yes, it's Bob Barr.

Your gun rights are not a trivial matter, that's one reason Bob Barr wants to be our next President.  And unlike any time in the past almost 15 years, our rights are threatened now more than ever.

Anti-gun Barack Obama leads in most polls and at this late date, John McCain has peaked and is falling.  The McCain campaign is a lost cause - not that he was ever a real friend to gun owners.

I am old enough to remember the early days of the Clinton administration.  Clinton owed the anti-gun fanatics his election victory.  The same will be said for Obama and just like 1993, come the New Year, you can expect a litany of anti-gun schemes in Congress.  But unlike1993, Obama will have a huge margin of anti-gun members of Congress.  In the Senate, he may even have 60 - enough to block a filibuster.

Semi-automatic firearms of every type will be first on the targeted list.  Guns like my HK 12 guage shotgun, my Colt AR-15 and every one of my auto loading pistols (Glocks, Beretta's, Rugers, Sigs, HK, S&W - all of them) And with that, magazine capacities will be reduced.  Next, expect a massive fee to be collected for processing the mandatory back ground checks.  And finally, an ammo tax of say 200% or more. And that's just in the first few months of the new Congress!

After that, total bans and ultimately, confiscation of the types seen in England, Australia and other countries. 

Bob Barr would allow none of this nonsense.  And unlike many politicians who claim to be pro-gun, Bob Barr walks the walk.  Yes, he exercises his right to own and carry firearms, just like me and millions of other law-abiding Americans.

And when he does, it's a .45 Glock that he has holstered.   (As for me, I guess I'm a wimp since I carry only a .40 Glock.) 

But enough about us.  This message is about you, your gun rights and a very special offer.  You see, this morning I received word that one of our most generous donors is giving the campaign a new, in the box, hard to find, 12 gauge Mossberg Model 590A pump shotgun.

Your next gun  (Not yet autographed):

Mossberg

Why would Bob's friend choose such a firearm to give to the campaign?

First, he wants us to use it to motivate our donors to support the Bob Barr mission and second he selected a gun that if Barack Obama becomes president, it will be high on the endangered species list to be banned. 

You see, the Mossberg 590 is compact and an ideal firearm for home defense.  It holds up to nine rounds and with its optional pistol grip (included) is easy to point and cycle.  And it features a bayonet lug that absolutely drives the anti-gun crowd crazy!

The polymer stock and rugged finish assure you years of low maintenance protection for your family and your belongings.  Just the sound of a cartridge being racked into place strikes fear into the heart of your typical low-life burglar or robber.

Now as if the regular features of this firearm (retailing for about $500) aren't enough to get your interest, let me add something that will make this a treasured addition to your collection.  Bob Barr will personally autograph your gun with a personal inscription to you. Years from now, your descendents will cherish this heirloom as your legacy to freedom and liberty.

Here's what we are going to do. The donor who makes the highest contribution to the Barr Presidential campaign online before 12:00 midnight EDT October 29 will receives this fine example of American technology and craftsmanship.  If there is a tie, each tied contributor will receive this special gift.

Click here to contribute   Remember, every gift you make - even if it isn't enough to win this collector's Mossberg-- equips this campaign with the ammunition we need to fight to protect your gun rights.

Now that's a good way to emphasize that your candidate really does support gun rights--give away a shotgun.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 28, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

A test to see which presidential candidate you have most in common with

Check out this presidential test by glassbooth.

The test is pretty good. You get 20 points to assign to various issues, from trade and economic policy, to abortion, to drug war-related policy, and so on. By assigning the 20 points, you weight the importance of the issue to you.

Next, you'll be asked to check off whether you support or oppose various policy proposals.

At the end, you get your outcome. Post your outcomes in the comment section.

Posted by westernstandard on October 28, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Noam Chomsky: Canadian Human Rights Commission is "outrageous"

Noamchomsky_2 Last week, I posted Harvard psychology professor and Canadian Steven Pinker's thoughts on the Canadian Human Rights Commissions. Pinker thought they were "atrocious" and was familiar with the Mark Steyn/Maclean's magazine case.

Just now, I'm in the middle of a longer discussion with Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of linguistics Noam Chomsky--ranging from what he means by "libertarianism" and what he thinks of Robert Nozick, Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand to his books being banned recently by the South Korean military (they harm the "military's mental power"). But he did share his thoughts on section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act with me, and I thought I'd pass that along.

By way of background, we were discussing various censorship laws, and Chomsky explained:

...in Europe, there are severe restrictions on what you can write.  If a book or article is published in England, it has to be vetted by lawyers to make sure that no problem is posed by England's utterly disgraceful libel laws, which are a severe infringement of freedom of speech. France is much worse.  French intellectuals hardly even have a concept of freedom of speech, and material is often banned.

I know of a case in Sweden where a book was withdrawn by the one major left publisher because it challenged doctrines of fundamentalist religion among European intellectuals about their nobility in bombing Serbia.

In the third world there are plenty of cases of books banned, or material expunged in translations.  If I'm asked (I'm often not), I refuse to allow the translation in that case, though I understand and often sympathize with the publishers.

Eventually, I told him a little bit about the various cases that appeared before the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and the cases that didn't make it to tribunal, but did get caught in the process anyways. Cases like Ezra Levant's decision to publish the Danish Muhammad cartoons in the Western Standard, Reverend Stephen Boisson's anti-gay remarks in a letter-to-the-editor, and so on. I also quoted him, verbatim, section 13(1) of the CHRA. Here was his response:

I think it's outrageous, like the comparable European laws. It's also pure hypocrisy. If it were applied the media and journals would be shut down. They don't expose current enemies of the state to hatred or contempt?

I asked for clarification--just what did he mean by "They don't expose current enemies of the state to hatred or contempt?" And I also gave him the enumerated list of protected groups, all 11 of them, just to make sure that we were on the same page. It isn't like the CHRC is going to come down hard on you just because you're an "enemy of the state."

His response to my request for clarification:

The provision of law that you sent me referred to "persons," not just a person.  Hence groups... There are also other mechanisms, like the devious argument used to ban Zundel on grounds of incitement of race hatred that made him a security threat.

The media and journals are constantly exposing Arabs to hatred and contempt.  And that's been consistent practice for years with regard to enemies of the state.

...I'm more familiar with Britain, where the primary technique for silencing unwanted opinion, even putting a small newspaper out of business, is the disgraceful libel laws.  If a book or article appears in the U.S., and then is going to be republished in England, it's necessary to get a battery of lawyers to review it to see if anything might be actionable.  Some of the things they demand be removed are remarkable.  I recall being asked to cut out a sentence saying that Henry Kissinger is guilty of war crimes, which is about as controversial as saying that grass is green.

UPDATE: Our own Robert Jago asked Chomsky about the CHRC back in February. Here's what Chomsky said then:

There should be a very heavy burden of proof on any effort to restrict freedom of speech. I strongly oppose the measures you describe. I do not think the burden of proof is even approached, let alone met. In this respect I agree with the US Supreme Court, which, in the 1960s, set what i think is a proper standard for protection of freedom of speech.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 28, 2008 in Freedom of expression | Permalink | Comments (86) | TrackBack

The Obama campaign gets creepier

The top 5 creepiest pro-Obama videos to date below have more-or-less one thing in common--the more kids you use, and the younger they are, the more creepy the video.

But now take a look at this website. In a way, it's pretty funny. It takes that old anti-drug slogan and flips it on its head. If it was just a joke, then we'd all be chuckling in unison. Anti-drug slogans and commercials are pretty dumb, after all, and are the subject of much humour amongst those of us who think "Just say No" is as effective an advertising campaign as the campaigns for New Coke.

Talk_long

But it should have stayed as a joke; maybe a little quip here or there about how kids seem to know more than their parents and everyone would have a good chuckle. Instead, its turned into a full-blown campaign effort, with a video and everything.

And check out some of these kids in the Kids HQ blog who still think that this election is about who would make the best back-up singer for [insert popular new band here. I haven't really been following. But you know what I'm going for: New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, that kind of thing]:

Obama1

Girls: "We like Obama because he believes in change and we believe in change and that's why we're not wearing socks and Jimmy said that Bobby said that Sally liked Obama too."

Obama3

Boy: "My daddy says Obama is like Harry Potter the wizard, or like Superman, and that other guy is evil like Lex Luthor or Voldemort. Also, I like pop tarts. And that's why I think Obama should be president of the United States of America."

Obama2

Young girl: "I like Obama because he will strengthen child labour laws, and that means no children working in salt mines or coal mines. Because children should have fun and just be kids. They shouldn't have to do things like work in mines."

Other young girl: "Yes, my mom says that too. And she also says Obama likes chidren, while that other old guy wants to bomb them."

Creepy? Exploitative? Setting a ridiculously bad precedent? Yes, yes, and yes. Would people have been happy and accepting of a similar campaign run by John McCain? "The McCain McKids!" No. Would people be screaming "inappropriate!" and asking themselves why McCain would have the gall to use children in this way? Yes.

But it doesn't end there. There was some crass "UR votes count" campaign recently, where teenagers got a chance to vote for president. The winner? D-uh. Here's what some Disney star had to say:

"It's incredible so many teens came out to vote and learn more about the issues facing our nation today," said Disney star Selena Gomez. "Thank you to General Growth Properties for providing teenagers, like me, the opportunity to have our voices heard. I'm so proud to have been able to lend a hand in helping to educate my peers and usher in this next generation of voters."

Yeah, thanks "General Growth Properties." The campaign is also sponsored by Sobe, Cosmo Girl, Discover card (! -- teens need credit cards too, after all), and Sprint (because nothing says "informed young voter" like the use of text message slang. "UR Votes Count! LOL -- U vote 4 Obama 2? Old guy? WTF? TTYL, C U 2moro. Poltx r importnt!!!!11111!")

That site is a treasure-trove of appalling and stupid. Just dig around and try to have a laugh at the irony-deficient. Crass doesn't even begin to describe it.

Meanwhile, if you're wondering what eight-year-olds think (that's the demographic I turn to for educated opinions about the direction of the economy, foreign policy, and what interest rate the Federal Reserve should set to stave off inflation) you're in luck:

"I am eight years old," says Zoe, "and George Bush has been the president my whole life.  I want to finally have a president I can be proud of."

Can you really distinguish the sentiment of "pride" from that feeling you have when you've peed the bed, Zoe? Really? Really?

Is it just me, or is this creepy feeling too much to bear? The Obama campaign: Now creepy is standard.

h/t Little Green Footballs

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 28, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

A quick Shotgun poll

After reading the extremely colorful, often confusing and sometimes downright silly comments on several posts over the last few months, I've gotten to thinking about who, exactly, you are, oh Shotgun reader.  It seems clear that some are here with a decided partisan bent; some with a decided ideological bent; and some who just seem generally bent out of shape.

So, just for fun, lets conduct a little poll...

What do you think is the most important goal in political life:

A) To reduce the role of government as much as possible

B) To make government as good as it possibly can be at fulfilling it's role, and get the right people to do it

Answers and explanations eagerly anticipated...

Posted by Isaac Morehouse on October 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (32) | TrackBack

The devolution of tyranny

The Chinese Communist police force long ago became strike-breakers for the cadres; now they've become a security force for the the Chinese Mafia.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on October 28, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New poll: Canadians don't want a federal deficit

Via Canwest News Service:

An overwhelming majority of Canadians say Finance Minister Jim Flaherty should slash the federal budget to balance the books, according to a new poll for Canwest News Service and Global National.
...

In an online survey conducted from Oct. 22 to Oct. 25, Ipsos Reid asked 1,012 Canadians "how supportive" they would be raising taxes, cutting spending or running a deficit.

Just two per cent said they were "very supportive" of raising taxes while 15 per cent were somewhat supportive of the idea. Everyone else polled was not supportive.

On the issue of running a deficit, 43 per cent were in favour of it to some degree while 57 per cent were opposed.

An overwhelming 82 per cent were either very or somewhat supportive of cutting government spending.

Did you read that? 82 per cent are supportive of cutting government spending. Imagine if Stephen Harper had run a campaign on bread-and-butter fiscal conservatism. Slash government spending and dramatically cut taxes.

While U.S. analysis of Canadian elections seems to assume that Harper did "as well as he did" (boy are they misinformed--Harper should have come out with a majority, but he didn't) because he ran a right-of-centre campaign, the truth is different. Harper did not run a conservative campaign. Harper ran away from conservatism in favour of some mushy centrist position.

Hindsight is 20/20, and but for the financial meltdown, a fiscally conservative campaign may not have been successful. But, looking in hindsight, a Mike Harris-style platform would have sold in this particular election. A big opportunity wasted.

h/t Canadian Conservatives

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 28, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Monday, October 27, 2008

(Video) reason interviews Craigslist founder Craig Newmark

Craig Newmark, the founder of the surprisingly popular and successful Craigslist, talks about Ayn Rand, and his "moderate" libertarianism:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 27, 2008 in WStv | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

More on media bias: Journalist embarassed to be journalist

Jonathan Adler over at the Volokh conspiracy points to this article by veteran journalist Michael Malone. Malone is embarrassed by his profession. He's not embarrassed because the business is in a remarkable decline (see this nifty cartoon), although that's true, as we've chronicled. He's embarrassed because the media is biased, and more abashedly so now than in 1979 (or thereabouts):

I watched with disbelief as the nation's leading newspapers, many of whom I'd written for in the past, slowly let opinion pieces creep into the news section, and from there onto the front page. Personal opinions and comments that, had they appeared in my stories in 1979, would have gotten my butt kicked by the nearest copy editor, were now standard operating procedure at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and soon after in almost every small town paper in the U.S.

But what really shattered my faith -- and I know the day and place where it happened -- was the war in Lebanon three summers ago. The hotel I was staying at in Windhoek, Namibia, only carried CNN, a network I'd already learned to approach with skepticism. But this was CNN International, which is even worse.

I sat there, first with my jaw hanging down, then actually shouting at the TV, as one field reporter after another reported the carnage of the Israeli attacks on Beirut, with almost no corresponding coverage of the Hezbollah missiles raining down on northern Israel. The reporting was so utterly and shamelessly biased that I sat there for hours watching, assuming that eventually CNNi would get around to telling the rest of the story & but it never happened.

But nothing, nothing I've seen has matched the media bias on display in the current presidential campaign.

Is Malone right to think this about the current presidential campaign? He's right if you trust the Russians, or the Pew Research Center's Excellence in Journalism report.

Adler thinks the decline in newspaper readership is linked to increased bias ("I think media bias hurts the bottom line of traditional media outlets," he writes). Maybe the two dovetail nicely--more obvious and pronounced media bias turns people off and has them heading for the door.

But I'm not so sure. Talk radio does just fine, thank you, and there's no attempt to do anything but cover the news with a bias. The same can be said of blogs and online media which is also doing just fine.

One difference that might make the difference is this. While both traditional media outlets as well as talk radio and blogs are biased, only the latter wears its bias on its sleeve. Rush Limbaugh and Daily Kos, Glenn Beck and Little Green Footballs; they don't conceal their bias. They don't try to play themselves off as "straight media." It's obvious to first-time readers or listeners that they're getting the news through a conservative, libertarian, or liberal filter. The same is not true of ABC, CBS, the New York Times or the LA Times. They're still pretending.

And maybe readers and watchers of the traditional news outlets don't like being insulted. Maybe they don't like the bait-and-switch. Pull us in with the promise of straight news, deliver skewed stories. Maybe it's a market revolt in favour of truth in advertising. No one minds--they probably like, in fact (notice the success of The O'Reilly Factor and Keith Olbermann's Countdown)--news delivered through some kind of ideological filter; but maybe they don't like--despise, even--ideologically filtered news that pretends to be filter-free. Maybe.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 27, 2008 in Media | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Doctor denied permanent resident status because of daughter's illness.

If ever there has been a story that sums up just how broken our health care and immigration systems are, it's this one.

A Calgary critical-care doctor's application for permanent residency has been rejected because one of his daughters might be a drain on the health care system.

South African physician Stanley Muwanguzi says his 22-year-old daughter has been institutionalized [for treatment of cerebral palsy] since she was a toddler and he has no intention of moving her to Canada.

Note that this case isn't significantly different from the case often cited by those hoping to close our borders that there is "danger" of immigrants just coming here to access welfare and social programs. Blocking doctors from coming into Canada because of illnesses in their families is a direct result of the precautionary principle applied to immigration.

Most of the arguments against liberalizing our immigration policy stem from an improper association of problems caused by expansive social programs with freer immigration policy, but rarely is it so obvious as in this case. It's not about saving lives or allowing anyone to make life better for themself - it's about is preserving a broken health care system that kills Canadians with waiting lists for doctors like Stanley Muwanguzi.

An unintentional result of conservatives supporting restrictive immigration policies is that they often help (at least in the arena of ideas) to perpetuate many other programs that they claim that they want to scale back or eliminate.

Isaac Morehouse had an excellent post arguing for freer immigration in which he addressed "the welfare argument" against immigration that can be found here.

h/t: Ker.

Posted by Janet Neilson on October 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack

'Joe the Plumber' is a hero; but not why you think...

Joe is a hero because he's an outlaw.  He is (horror!) practicing his personal liberty to offer plumbing services without groveling at the feet of some state board of plumbing.  I also heard that he's not registered to vote.  I like him.

(Here's an article about how dumb non-voluntary professional licensing is, and who it's really for).

Posted by Isaac Morehouse on October 27, 2008 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Today on Political Animals: Is Obama a socialist?

Today on Political Animals, we'll be covering the remarks Barack Obama made to Chicago's WBEZ FM, which Peter Jaworski reported on here. In brief, Obama expressed the view that

We're also interested in exposing one of Joe Biden's recent lies -- that the Obama campaign has not made any contributions to ACORN.

We'll have representatives of the McCain campaign, Bob Barr's campaign, and someone from Ohio's own Buckeye Institute to discuss both of these issues (we tried getting someone from Obama's campaign, but no one was interested.)

Our intention is to go beyond talking points to have a frank discussion about socialism and wealth redistribution.

You can listen live over the Internet here. The show starts at 4 pm, EST.

We also enjoy hearing from callers. If you have something to say, feel free to phone in, toll free, at

1-888-7WBGUFM

Posted by Terrence Watson on October 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

First it was in Orlando, now a Philly station gets banned for asking Biden questions he didn't like

Remember Barbara West's interview with Joe Biden? Biden was upset enough to basically ban the Florida network from access to the Obama-Biden campaign.

Well, it happened again. This time, a Philadelphia station, CBS3, has been added to the list of news stations banned by the Obama-Biden campaign for this interview:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 27, 2008 in Media, U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Countdown: The top 5 creepiest pro-Obama videos to date

Obama_noland_poster The Obama campaign has inspired some pretty ridiculous adoration and, frankly, downright creepy images and videos.

If you're wondering whether Obama will solve all the world's problems, or merely all of the problems in the U.S., then these videos are for you. You'll find much inspiration and hope and change in these videos. You can let your eyes roll into the back of your head slowly, and begin repeating the "Chaaaaaange" mantra with the same monotone intonation as Halloween zombies demanding some "braaaaains."

If you're tired of the adoration, and think there's something terribly creepy about a bunch of kids singing heartfelt songs about their love of "The One"--as if the presidency of the United States didn't have enough cultish devotion without this--then these videos are for you as well. You can grit your teeth with the rest of us, and squirm in your chair as we count down for you the top five most creepy pro-Obama videos to date.

Number five: The lyrics in this song are creepy. "Trust you like our mama. Vote for Obama"? "We'll follow what you say, yes we can, yes we can"? And.... cut:

Number four: Okay, this one isn't so much creepy as it is, uhm, dumb. "Oh-bama, Oh-bama, Vote-Barack, Oh-bama":

Number three: Between now and November 4, spend a minute a day, envisioning Barack Obama, as our president, prepare your heart to fill with hope, and reach for the nearest water-proof container, to exit the bile from your throat:

Number two: For some reason, a Missouri middle school teacher at the Urban Community Leadership Academy thought it would be a great idea to have a bunch of students don military fatigues and have them stomp their feet in unison while bellowing out a pro-Obama chant: "because of Obama, I'm inspired to be a doctor/lawyer/automotive technician/architect/chemical engineer." None of the students said what readily comes to mind: "because of Obama, I'm inspired to be a Canadian" (the teacher was suspended. Gee, I wonder why?):

And the number one creepiest, most spine-chilling, most disturbing pro-Obama video to date? A bunch of kids, slightly older than toddlers, singing about Obama with alacrity. Nothing creeps normal people out more than children singing political slogans of whatever variety. Children have no idea about politics. They shouldn't be used as political props. And when it's sickly-sweet, like lychee juice drinks in Singapore, or the Hello Kitty fad, it is bound to send a creepy feeling from toes to nose:

And if you just don't understand why we selected the above as the number one most creepy pro-Obama video to date, here are two videos to help you "get it." And if you still don't get it, well, enjoy your stupor:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 27, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Newspaper = towne crier part four

Newspaper circulation numbers are out in the U.S., and the news is not good:

The Audit Bureau of Circulations released the latest figures for the six- month period ending September 2008 and the report shows major drops in circulation at the big metros.

According to ABC for the 507 newspapers reporting in this period, daily circulation slipped 4.6% to 38,165,848 copies. For the 571 papers, Sunday dropped 4.8% to 43,631,646 copies.

For comparison purposes, in September 2007 reporting period, daily circ fell 2.6% and Sunday was down 4.6%.

The "newspaper as towne crier" quip comes from a piece I wrote about here. The New York Times was recently downgraded to "junk status." And Canadian newspaper share prices have been dropping like bricks.

Here's a list of the top 10 newspapers in the U.S. along with a percentage change from circulation figures from last year:

USA TODAY -- 2,293,310 -- 0.01%
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL -- 2,011,999 -- 0.01%
NEW YORK TIMES -- 1,000,665 -- (-3.58%)
LOS ANGELES TIMES --  739,147 -- (-5.20%)
DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK -- 632,595 -- (-7.16%)

NEW YORK POST --  625,421 -- (-6.25%)
THE WASHINGTON POST -- 622,714 -- (-1.94%)
CHICAGO TRIBUNE -- 516,032 -- (-7.75%)
HOUSTON CHRONICLE -- 448,271 -- (-11.66%)
NEWSDAY -- 377,517 -- (-2.58%)

You can see the top 25 here. The numbers look bad almost across-the-board, with only the Wall Street Journal and USA Today numbers being essentially flat. The news is even worse for Sunday newspapers -- a list of the top 25 Sunday newspapers along with their circulation changes can be found here.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 27, 2008 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mass graves uncovered in Canada?

Aboriginal children went into residential schools, sometimes against the wishes of their parents. Some of them didn't come out again. So what happened to them? That's the question of this Globe and Mail article raises for me.

The federal government is mapping burial sites at former residential schools as researchers try to identify how many of the estimated thousands of native children who went missing from the schools are buried in unmarked or anonymous graves.

Cemeteries scattered across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario have been identified by researchers. Some of the graves have single white wooden crosses bearing no name. Others do not include even a cross.

...

At...the St. John's Indian Residential School in Alberta (also known as Wabasca Residential School), the researchers found a document from 1961 describing how the principal came across an unmarked cemetery. A second letter indicates the unidentified principal ultimately cleaned up the site and erected 110 white crosses.

"The place was a terrible mess, so much underbrush," according to one of the letters. "Even though it is not finished, one can see a great improvement in it all, at least it is not woods now."

...

An Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada (IRSRC) report reviewing Indian Affairs documents describes an incident in 1992, when a construction company uncovered at least 19 graves connected to an unmarked graveyard at the site of the former school.

There's more in the Globe's article.

I think it's too soon to say that the children were deliberately killed and buried in mass graves to hide the evidence, but it's still sad news. More likely, I'd guess, the people who could have given the children proper burial just didn't give a damn, and/or didn't have adequate resources to ensure the graves would be identifiable in the future.

If that's the explanation, it doesn't let people off the hook for this travesty. A real investigation needs to take place. Responsibility must be properly allocated.

Posted by Terrence Watson on October 27, 2008 in Aboriginal Issues | Permalink | Comments (29) | TrackBack

We're just not into you

That's the message the CCP has been sending the Chinese people for years; it just became crystal clear over the weekend.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on October 27, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ontario to ban cell phone use while driving

According to the Globe & Mail, the Ontario government is considering tabling a bill that would ban drivers from using cell phones. My freedom loving soul cringes at the thought of further regulation governing the personal habits of the people of Ontario.  That being said those who are libertarian inclined should not dismiss this proposal out of hand.

The legitimacy of such a law hinges on if you buy this part of the Globe & Mail article;

Also, the Ontario Medical Association has concluded that driving and talking on a cellphone creates the same risk for the driver as being at the legal limit for alcohol consumption.

If this is so then cell phone use in cars should be banned for the same reason that drinking and driving is banned.  It is not a matter of personal choice but of public safety.  Once someone has become a real threat to those around them the state has a responsibility to act.  If cell phone drivers are a sufficient threat then the state has just cause to act.

Of course one study does not convince me that cell phone driving is as dangerous as drunk driving.  According to the article 37% of drivers use their cell phones while driving.  I want to know how many accidents are caused by this and how severe those accidents are.  I don't know how severe the public danger has to be before the state should act, but at the very least the public danger has to be clearly defined and quantified.

(Also if you ban hand free cell phone use then you also have to ban talking and listening to the radio while driving.)

More on cell phone bans here.

*update*

This is an article published in the Edmonton Journal that is related to this topic.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on October 27, 2008 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Randy Hillier for leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario

Randyandscott1 The Ottawa Sun recently interviewed one of the better (maybe best) M.P.P.s in Ontario, Randy Hillier. Hillier was the co-founder of the Lanark Landowners Association, and served as president of the Ontario Landowners Association (both excellent associations, worth joining and supporting).

Come to think of it, just what is going on at the riding of Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington? Not only did the good folks there vote in Hillier, they also had the good sense and gumption to elect one of the finest M.P.s in Canada as well--none other than Conservative Scott Reid (whose libertarian streak is well known).

Below the fold: Some excerpts from the Sun's interview with Hillier, as well as video of "highlights" and "lowlights" of Hillier's first year in office.

Excerpts with my emphasis:

Q: Do you have to behave any differently now that you are in government, or would you still support acts of civil disobedience?

A: In every job you're in, your behaviour is different for the type of job. If I was a pro wrestler, my behaviour would be different than if I'm a journalist. So yes, I do behave differently, but I would never say that there ought not to be civil disobedience.

If government is doing something that is clearly unjust and harmful to people, then people must always reserve the right to disobey the law in a peaceful, non-violent way.

That's a fundamental of our democracy and heaven forbid if we ever lose that. Everybody from Gandhi to Rosa Parks have used civil disobedience to oppose injustice.

...

Q: Do you still think it's OK to shoot deer out of season to protect farmers crops?

A: Bit of a loaded question now, isn't it? I believe people have the fundamental freedom and right to protect their property from damage, whether it's crops or others and government should be doing everything possible to ensure that people can protect their property ...

That was a battle that we did a number of years ago. We won that battle, the ministry decided that it was appropriate that they grant nuisance deer removal authorities, and they started doing that back in 2004.

Q: What about if somebody breaks into your house, do you have the right to shoot them?

A: Well I'll tell you, if somebody broke into my house, I'd shoot them. Absolutely. Listen, if someone wants to break into my house, they're not breaking in to give me hugs and kisses. They're a threat and a danger.

I was being a little bit flippant there because who knows under what circumstances. But I would use force to protect myself, absolutely... I think people have to feel comfortable to recognize that it is their responsibility to take care of themselves.

If somebody did break into my house late at night, with my kids and my wife there, I certainly wouldn't sit back and wait to phone the police. To get to my place would probably take half an hour. Just like if a fire breaks out at my house, I'm going to start putting it out, not just wait for the fire department to come.

...

Q: Do you still believe greenhouse gases are nothing to worry about and it would be wrong to shut down coal-burning power plants?

A: There are greenhouse gases. I disagree that human contributions to greenhouse gases are so significant that we should be hysterical running around suggesting we have to do all these things to prevent its catastrophe.

We've had periods of global warming and global cooling from the beginning of time and there weren't too many cars or factories at the last global warming period... I think science is far from conclusive.

If it works, here's video of the interview, both "lowlights" and "highlights" of Hillier's first year in office:

Highlights

Lowlights

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 27, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Sunday, October 26, 2008

(Audio) Obama wants to break free of the "constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution"

Here's a January 18, 2001 interview between Chicago's WBEZ.FM and Senator Barack Obama. Linked is the full interview, but what's been making the rounds is the following edited video:

An excerpt:

If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court -- I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples, so that I would now have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it, I’d be okay.

But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society.

To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court-focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 26, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

All elections are nasty

Politics is nasty, and it has always been nasty.  I don't care what you say, there has never been a period of true high minded debate in any modern democracy.  In Canada one of our nastiest national campaigns was in 1911.  Supporters of the Conservative Party in Quebec went door to door posing as government agents taking names to draft them into "Laurier's navy."

In other words; a vote for Laurier is a vote for sending your children to war.

How about; a vote for my opponent will end the world.

Really as far as nastiness goes the present election in the United States is not that bad. I mean really;

Nothing has even gotten up to this level of nastiness;

So I don't want to hear anymore complaining about politics becoming more nasty.  Political elections are one of the few times that matters where someone will get nothing and someone else will get everything.  There will be hundreds if not thousands of people that worked fifteen hour days for months and will achieve nothing.  Politics is nasty by its very nature and the sooner you accept that the better off you will be.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on October 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Political ad watch: taxcutfacts.org, a new website comparing Obama and McCain tax cuts

Want to see how much of a tax cut you'll get under the Obama tax plan? There's a new website with a tax calculator to help you find out. And to promote it, Obama's campaign has rolled out the following video:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on October 26, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack