Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

« December 2008 |Main| February 2009 »

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Canadian Georges "Rush" St-Pierre defeats B.J. Penn to retain UFC welterweight title

Georges_st_pierre

2008 Canadian athlete of the year, and one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Montreal native Georges St-Pierre defeated B.J. Penn by technical knock out in the fourth round.

St-Pierre dominated the second, third and fourth round, before Penn's corner indicated that Penn would not continue on to the fifth and final round.

You can read the details on the Sports Illustrated blog here.

USA Today reports on the fight:

BJ Penn's two-belt dream disappeared beneath four rounds of non-stop pressure from welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

St-Pierre, of Montreal, thoroughly dominated Penn with a grinding, unrelenting ground-and-pound barrage over the last three rounds of their fight on Saturday at UFC 94, in Las Vegas. Although scheduled for five rounds, the fight was stopped after the fourth round on the advice of the ringside doctor. [...]

The matchup was billed as a bout between two of the world's most skilled fighters, with St-Pierre and Penn rated among the top four in several pound-for-pound ranking lists, including those of Sports Illustrated and Yahoo Sports. Online oddsmakers listed St-Pierre as a slight favorite.

St-Pierre (18-2) has won both of his fights against Penn (13-5-1), whom he beat via split decision in March 2006.

Saturday's bout was only for the belt of the welterweight division (170 pounds). St-Pierre said he now views rising star Thiago Alves as the top contender for the welterweight championship.

Matthew Johnston, publisher of the Western Standard, is a mixed martial arts fan, sponsoring fighters like Misty Sutherland. Read Johnston's take on Republican presidential candidate John McCain's anti-MMA comments here.

While a Canadian continues to dominate the sport, receives athlete of the year honours, and can fight in his home province of Quebec, the sport is still illegal in Ontario. The culprit is section 83.1 of the criminal code which prohibits "prizefighting" (fighting for money) unless the contestants wear gloves that are a minimum of "140 grams each in mass."

UFC has expressed a desire to host an Ontario event (most probably at the Rogers Centre) in late 2009. Of course, it would have to be legal first.

Ontario: legalize it.

You can vote in our online poll here:

(Link here, if the poll doesn't show up for you)

UPDATE (Feb. 1): You may be able to watch videos of yesterday's fights here.

After the fight, GSP spoke with ESPN commentators about his fight:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 31, 2009 in Sports | Permalink | Comments (19)

Ron Paul on the transition to sound money

One year ago, Ron Paul was little more than a running joke for the national media; the kooky old uncle of the Republican Party, shrieking about "fiat money" and perpetually prophesying economic collapse.

Today, he's not so readily dismissed. As the governments of the world embark on massive new spending programs and additional money creation (what Keynesian macroeconomists call monetary and fiscal "stimulus"), many people are losing their trust in paper currencies. Though the US dollar has been strikingly resilient through the financial crisis and US Treasuries were among the best performing assets of 2008, there are strong signs that the era of the dollar as the reserve currency of the world are numbered: the treasury market is showing classic signs of a bubble, leaders and commentators around the world are heralding changes in the international monetary regime, and China won't be able to pay for its $585 billion stimulus package while remaining a net purchaser of US government debt. In his speech at Davos on Wednesday, Russia's Prime Minister Putin remarked:

The entire economic growth system, where one regional centre prints money without respite and consumes material wealth, while another regional centre manufactures inexpensive goods and saves money printed by other governments, has suffered a major setback.

Excessive dependence on a single reserve currency is dangerous for the global economy. Consequently, it would be sensible to encourage the objective process of creating several strong reserve currencies in the future.

This following clip is amazing because of how different the world in which we live is from the one we lived in 12 months ago. Ron Paul appears on Fox Business and the host skips over any questions as to why a commodity-backed currency might be preferable to the existing system to ask detailed questions on how the US could transition to a sound monetary system:

Paul's favoured method of monetary reform draws heavily on the writing of the Nobel Prize laureate and Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek. He would eliminate legal tender laws, reform banking regulation, lift taxes on precious metals like gold and silver, and encourage private institutions to compete with each other and with existing currencies to supply the best money for consumers. Here's a portion of a speech Hayek made after the publication of his 1976 book Denationalisation of Money:

I am more convinced than ever that if we ever again are going to have a decent money, it will not come from government: it will be issued by private enterprise, because providing the public with good money which it can trust and use can not only be an extremely profitable business; it imposes on the issuer a discipline to which the government has never been and cannot be subject. It is a business which competing enterprise can maintain only if it gives the public as good a money as anybody else...

The gold standard is the only method we have yet found to place a discipline on government, and government will behave reasonably only if it is forced to do so.

I am afraid I am convinced that the hope of ever again placing on government this discipline is gone. The public at large have learned to understand, and I am afraid a whole generation of economists have been teaching, that government has the power in the short run by increasing the quantity of money rapidly to relieve all kinds of economic evils, especially to reduce unemployment. Unfortunately this is true so far as the short run is concerned. The fact is, that such expansions of the quantity of money which seems to have a short run beneficial effect, become in the long run the cause of a much greater unemployment. But what politician can possibly care about long run effects if in the short run he buys support?

My conviction is that the hope of returning to the kind of gold standard system which has worked fairly well over a long period is absolutely vain.

Read the rest.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 31, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (6)

The other interesting ex-Premier

In today's Vancouver Sun, religion and faith reporter Douglas Todd profiles Glen Clark, who resigned as the NDP premier of B.C., under a cloud of suspicion that he had wrongly used his office to benefit himself personally. He was hired by very wealthy B.C. businessman Jimmy Pattison, cleared by the courts, and is now, as the feature documents, working quietly out of the spotlight to supervise several of Mr. Pattison's businesses.

It's an interesting read, but Mr. Clark has made a promise to concentrate on his work, so he doesn't talk much about how his political or moral views might have changed, or comment on politics today.

That's too bad. What is also too bad is that another ex-Premier of B.C., who has also been cleared of wrongdoing in office by the courts and is also working quietly in the business field, will possibly not get similar attention by the Sun. That would strike me as a bit odd, because as my old colleague Terry O'Neill noted in a Shotgun post here a few weeks ago, Bill Vander Zalm has published an autobiography. A good "news hook" to most editors, I'd say. (It's not as if the Pacific Press papers don't know of the book. Province editorial cartoonist Bob Kreiger drew a cartoon making fun of the book when it came out.)

As Terry noted, Mr. Vander Zalm lost a lot of support amongst B.C. opponents of the NDP when he tried to reflect social conservative concerns in government policy, such as, for example, arguing for finding ways for abortion to no longer be part of the Canada's public health care system.

I'm sure that Mr. Vander Zalm, at a time when the B.C. and federal governments are increasingly small-l liberal, might have some interesting observations on the intersection of faith and politics that would be right up Mr. Todd's alley. I myself would wonder whether a "so-con" could ever be Premier of B.C. again. If you wanted to ask Mr Vander Zalm a difficult question, you could ask him if he ruined the chance, through his mistakes, for anyone of strong faith who might want his old job in the future.

I'd hope that Mr. Todd would think of interviewing the other interesting ex-Premier of B.C. We'll see if he does. At least, if we judge by his record in office, Mr. Vander Zalm would be less reticent and coy than Mr. Clark now is, which is good news for a quote-hungry reporter writing in any section of a newspaper.

Posted by Rick Hiebert on January 31, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3)

"For us, the Holocaust survivors, our moral obligation is to legalize it"

This is incredible:

The Chicago Tribune reports on the curious statement of support for the pro-legalization Green Leaf party in Israel:

Even in the world of politics and its strange bedfellows, this coalition is odder than most.

On Tuesday, a party representing Israeli Holocaust survivors joined forces with the pro-marijuana Green Leaf party for a run at Israel's parliament. The new party launched its campaign in a near-empty, underground, graffiti-filled nightclub in south Tel Aviv, pledging to pursue two primary goals: to financially assist elderly Holocaust survivors and to legalize the consumption of cannabis.

While most of the attention in the run-up to Israel's Feb. 10 general election is focused on its three major parties — Likud, Kadima and Labor — and their high-profile candidates for prime minister, many Israelis are considering voting for the smaller, and quirkier, of the 34 parties officially registered.

Parties need to win just 2.5 percent of the vote, or roughly 70,000 votes, to win a seat in the notoriously fractious parliament.

The Green Leaf Party is on the verge of breaking through, and actually earning possibly two seats in the Knesset. That was the finding of pollsters before this new support from a group representing Holocaust survivors. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on the pollsters findings:

Some pollsters say Green Leaf — buoyed by support from young, urban, secular Israelis — could win two seats in the 120-member Knesset in the March 28 election, leading the charge of small parties.

The ultraliberal party, whose platform includes legalizing marijuana, gambling and prostitution, was twice before on the verge of gaining access to the halls of power. In 2003, it was just 7,000 votes short of a place in parliament. This time, [Boaz] Wachtel promises to break through.

"If I didn't think we had a chance of getting into the Knesset, I wouldn't be wasting my time," he said.

h/t: Hit & Run

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 31, 2009 in Marijuana reform | Permalink | Comments (58)

Fiscal conservatives hate the Conservative deficit budget

In surprising news, Peter Coleman of the National Citizens Coalition is actually standing up for fiscal conservatism, rather than just plumping for the Conservative Party, as has been the habit of the NCC since Gerry Nicholls left that organization. In unsurprising news, Kevin Gaudet of the principled and consistent Canadian Taxpayers Federation continues to man the barricades and oppose the massive pro-deficit, pro-big government, anti-fiscal conservative budget.

Watch the video:

You can have your say about whether or not this budget proves that the Conservatives are conservative in name only on our most recent poll here.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 31, 2009 in Economic freedom | Permalink | Comments (8)

Western Standard poll: Conservative budget proves Tories are conservative in name only

Shotgun blogger Gerry Nicholls, following the release of the Conservative budget, wrote:

Well now it's official.

The Conservative Party is conservative in name only.

Makes me yearn for the days when we had relatively fiscally conservative leaders, like Jean Chretien.

Is he right?:

BUMPED UP

Posted by westernstandard on January 31, 2009 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (6)

Kitsch capitalism: Barack Obama is the new Che Guevarra

Orangeyousoda-6pack Ever since a Time journalist snapped that photo of mass murderer and executioner Che Guevarra, his face has donned everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs to cigarette lighters. You can buy Che wristwatches, and you can buy Che hats. You can even buy Che Cola.

The lucrative Che industry is, however, seeing a significant challenge to their empire. U.S. president Barack Obama is beginning to look more and more like the world's leading face of kitsch. The latest addition? Orange "you glad for change" cola from the Jones soda company.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 31, 2009 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2)

Educational Video: Why printing more money is bad

Peter Jaworski posted a video of Glenn Beck explaining how the currency is being devalued. I'm posting an educational video to explain why this is such a bad policy.


Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on January 31, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Glenn Beck the new libertarian says: The U.S. is about to devalue the currency like crazy

Glenn Beck got a show on Fox News, and announced that he's dropping the "conservative" label, and calling himself a "libertarian instead. Given the economic crisis, I'm not surprised by his sudden aversion for all things government, and libertarians are the staunchest defenders of individual liberty against the state out there. Whether it's big government conservatism, or big government liberalism, the common problem is the same: the big government part.

With the massive U.S. bailout and the gargantuan Canadian bailout, we're looking at an unparalleled expansion in the size of government. And the unparalleled spending might lead to a currency crisis in the U.S. Watch Beck:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 30, 2009 in Libertarianism | Permalink | Comments (11)

Michael Steele becomes first black Republican National Committee chairman

From the Huffington Post:

Michael Steele became the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee on Friday after defeating his lone remaining challenger, Katon Dawson, on the sixth and final ballot. The margin was 91 votes for Steele, 77 votes for Dawson.

"This is awesome," Steele told the crowd. "I accept and appreciate all of you for the opportunity to serve as the next national chairman of our very proud, our very strong, and our very, very hard working Republican National Committee."

Here is Steele accepting the chairmanship:

National Public Radio reports:

Leaders of the fractured and demoralized national Republican Party on Friday turned to a charismatic, nationally-recognized African American to lead it into the future. Already, one thing seems clear: The party needs to write a new, post-Bush chapter, and quickly.

Supporters say it was Steele's proven abilities, and not his skin color, that catapulted him to the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.

But the former Maryland lieutenant governor – the first African-American elected to statewide office there — also gives the overwhelmingly white party, one seeking to diversify, a decidedly new and historic face at a time when another history-making — and highly popular — Democrat occupies the White House.

USA Today's On Politics blog has a nifty exchange:

A questioner said that when Steele ran for the Senate in 2006, President Obama -- then a senator -- called him "an amiable fellow" who could do the job but had a thin resume.

"I would say to the new president, congratulations," Steele responded. "It's going to be an honor to spar with him, and I would follow that up with 'how do you like me now?'"

(Uhm, thin resume?... Pot, meet kettle.)

Meanwhile, many of us would like to know whether Steele is, in fact, the kind of conservative worth supporting. The American Spectator strikes a cautious note:

There was a lot of criticism of Michael Steele's conservative credentials during the race for RNC chairman. My own view is that Steele is personally fairly conservative, but has perhaps drunk a bit deeply of the conventional wisdom on how Republicans can appeal to the center (though, let's face it, he is a Republican who has had to try to win in a Northeastern state).

In both his bids for statewide office in Maryland, Steele ran as a strong pro-lifer in a very liberal state. In 2002, Steele had the benefit of a pro-choice candidate above him on the Republican ticket but in 2006 he was out there on his own -- and even held firm on embryonic stem-cell research. With some exceptions, Steele has defended a conservative Republican platform in hostile territory while holding the door open to moderates. Steele's chairmanship is an opportunity to bring together Republicans who want to see the party stick to its conservative principles and those who would rather it move to the center.

But we'll let Steele have the final word on his conservative credentials. Here is a (short) speech Steele gave on April 28, 2007 at the Civitas Institute:

Michael Steele's biography can be read on Fox News here.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 30, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

PETA Superbowl ad gets rejected as planned

PETA has a history of cleverly producing provocative ads designed to be rejected by mainstream media outlets. When the ads are rejected, it generates millions in free "earned media" for the animal rights group.

Playing right into their hands, here's the controversial PETA Superbowl ad that won't run this Sunday:

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on January 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Okay, so the budget's not conservative -- but will it stimulate the economy?

Whether or not we can agree that the disaster that is the 2009 Canadian budget is necessary politically is up for discussion. More to the point is whether or not the budget will be anywhere near successful in achieving its stated goal of cushioning Canadians in the face of recession and coaxing the economy into recovery.

Tasha Kheirridin, with whom I've disagreed often over the past few years, has a great article over at the National Post's Full Comment.

One line in particular, which appears at the top of the article, is important to understanding what a disaster this budget will be for Canada:

The government cannot put money into the economy without taking it out of the economy first. Thus activity does not increase overall - it is simply redirected.

I can never get over the fact that people don't seem to get this. The government does not create wealth. It can take wealth from Canadians and direct it towards goals that Canadians wouldn't have pursued otherwise (though doesn't that seem odd?) or it can borrow against the taxes of future Canadians (thanks, kids!) to do the same thing.

Essentially, what any "bailout"-themed budget or bill is going to do is take money from the parts of the Canadian economy that have been productive and will continue to grow, or at least recover quickly, in the face of this recession and move that money to parts of the Canadian economy that have been failing or will not recover quickly. Further, intelligent, persuasive, and productive people will become lobbyists as the pot of government handouts becomes larger and work at redirecting wealth and economic activity rather than creating it -- deepening the effects of this redistribution.

How will increasing the proportion of the economy that isn't self-sustaining help us recover from a recession quickly? You've got me. But at least some conservatives and libertarian Conservatives are shaken enough by the budget to start bringing these questions to Canadians' attention.

Posted by Janet Neilson on January 30, 2009 in Economic freedom | Permalink | Comments (12)

Southern Avenger and why a Conservative Party loss might be good for Canadian conservatism

It's a Southern Avenger double-header today. But Jack Hunter's commentary on conservative Republican opposition to the U.S. bailout might be a salutary lesson for Canadian small government conservatives.

From Hunter:

House Republicans have put up a united front in opposing Obama’s stimulus package. Writes conservative columnist Robert Stacy McCain “Man, if all it took to get Republicans to vote conservative was to elect a Democratic president, this is a change I can believe in.” Indeed. Yesterday’s “we must support the president” big government economics is rightfully seen today as “socialism.” And whether out of principle or partisanship, it’s refreshing to see Republicans standing on conservative principle once again.

And maybe Canadian Conservatives, in the middle of a revolt, are beginning to think the same thing -- maybe losing to the coalition would have been a good thing. At the very least, Conservative M.P.s would likely have opposed a bloated, deficit-fueling coalition budget, rather than support a bloated, deficit-fueling Conservative budget. At the very least, Conservatives would have remained credible on fiscal matters. Besides that, they would have likely won a majority considering the wild unpopularity of the attempted coalition government, and the likely failure of a massive increase in government spending; they would also have avoided a grassroots revolt.

Watch Hunter's commentary:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 30, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Southern Avenger: Anti-military conservatives

From Jack Hunter, a.k.a. The Southern Avenger:

For all the yammering by talk-radio nitwits and GOP chicken hawks about “supporting the troops,” it’s quite ironic that these same pundits and politicians have had little to say about the many high-ranking troops who support Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay. Throughout, the Bush presidency, I made the point time and again that thanks to talk radio, being a “conservative” now meant never questioning your government so long as a Republican was in charge. To not support the president in a time of war was not only unpatriotic, but anti-military, we heard time and again. Last week these same pundits and politicians not only refused to support their president and his decision during a time of war, but on torture and Guantanamo Bay – they loudly and boldly opposed the military.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 30, 2009 in Military | Permalink | Comments (6)

Conservatives in revolt over budget

The budget is a disaster. We've covered some of the reactions of grassroots and prominent Conservative supporters here (a few non-supporters as well).

What started as grumbling is beginning to look a little bit more like a revolt, as Conservative stalwarts and pundits begin to vent their frustrations at a Conservative government abandoning fiscal conservatism.

From the Globe and Mail:

His biggest threat is supposed to be new Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, but the sharpest fire being directed at Stephen Harper these days is coming from the rock-ribbed Conservatives that comprise the base of the party he leads.

The criticism has come from several quarters, including Tom Flanagan, Mr. Harper's close friend and former top aide, and the cadre of young activists who make up a good portion of the party's shock troops. Even one of the country's most affable senior Conservatives, former human resources minister Monte Solberg, has issued warnings.

They're unsettled over a federal stimulus budget that includes a $64-billion deficit over the next two years and five years of projected red ink.

“There's a lot of feeling of betrayal. We don't need a second Liberal Party,” said Tasha Kheiriddin, who teaches conservative politics at McGill University.

“It is extremely frustrating, as a small-c conservative, to look at this.” [...]

Other key Conservatives agreed.

“This is survival without any sense of direction,” said Mr. Flanagan, a former Conservative campaign chief.

Mr. Flanagan said the budget may cause a number of party members to curtail donations.

“I think it's absolutely essential for the party to keep its core supporters onside, and there wasn't that much in this budget that really speaks to those core supporters,” he said. [...]

Meanwhile, Mr. Solberg said in an interview that while he believes the budget is popular, he is concerned that it could lead to long-term deficits. In an earlier newspaper column, Mr. Solberg advised Mr. Harper to use the time he has bought to draft a compelling conservative vision for the future.

“The Conservatives have easily escaped to fight another day, but what are they fighting for?” he asked.

Gerry Nicholls, a former colleague of Mr. Harper's at the right-wing National Citizens' Coalition, said he thinks the Prime Minister has lost his way.

“The Conservative party is conservative in name only. It makes me yearn for the days when we had a relatively fiscally conservative leader like Jean Chrétien,” Mr. Nicholls said, referring to the former Liberal prime minister's victory in slaying the deficit in the mid-1990s and paying down federal debt.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 30, 2009 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (29)

The Hook mischaracterizes the Charter-based health care challenge

Crawford Killian over on The Hook (the blog of The Tyee newspaper), appears to be unhappy about the latest Charter-based challenge to British Columbia's health care system. In writing about the challenge, Killian starts with this: "A new attack on public healthcare was launched yesterday in the Supreme Court of BC."

Killian then mentions a whole host of absolutely trivial and irrelevant things that have nothing to do with the actual legal challenge:

CIMCA’s own website seems to have been in a coma before this latest news release. The site’s previous releases include none in 2008, one in 2007, and five in 2006.[...]

The Cambie Surgery Centre, a “proud member of CIMCA,” isn’t up to speed on the case it’s now involved in. Its news section hasn’t seen an update since August 2004. But the head of the Centre, Dr. Brian Day, is well known to Tyee readers.

As for the text on its home page, The Hook would like to refer the Centre to a good punctuation expert at the Editors’ Association of Canada.

They need to fix their grammar? Golly! They haven't updated their website? Oh dear.

Honestly, who cares? What about the substance of the complaint and the real issue at hand?

Killian provides only a description of the challenge as an "attack on public health care." But it isn't an attack on public health care, it's an attack on the prohibition on the kind of medical insurance that would permit regular B.C.ans to take advantage of places like the Cambie Surgery Centre, or other independent clinics in British Columbia. It is an effort to permit regular B.C.ans to do what the RCMP, federal prisoners, and people on worker's compensation can do right now -- access private clinics.

It is also an effort to ensure that Canada's health care system is in keeping with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which it isn't. And not just in Quebec, Canada's entire health care system is unconstitutional, according to a document that Killian probably approves of (I'm guessing, correct me if I'm wrong).

Like I wrote in the comments to Killian's posting, we don't say that permitting independent schools is an "attack on public education." It is therefore incorrect and misleading to characterize this Charter challenge, and others like it, as an "attack on public healthcare."

(I should say this, too: I really enjoy The Hook. It's a great blog, even if the political viewpoints aren't exactly ones I agree with).

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 30, 2009 in Health care reform | Permalink | Comments (3)

CIMCA challenges legal ban on access to independent clinics

Here's a press release from the Canadian Independent Medical Clinics Association:

The Canadian Independent Medical Clinics Association (CIMCA) along with a group of independent BC medical clinics, today launched a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of B.C. to have legal restrictions on access to independent clinics struck down because they deprive patients of rights guaranteed by section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"The Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Chaoulli case was clear - access delayed is access denied. Patients are suffering and dying as a result of waiting for care in B.C.," said Dr. Brian Day, Medical Director of the Cambie Surgery Centre, one of the independent clinics launching the suit. CIMCA is going to court to ensure that B.C. laws are modified to conform to the laws of Canada, as set forth by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The CIMCA challenge argues that sections of B.C.'s Medicare Protection Act effectively force patients to remain on unacceptably long wait lists, no matter what the degree of pain, suffering or disability they are experiencing.

The Medical Services Commission, the Minister of Health Services, and the Attorney General of British Columbia are all named as defendants in the action.

"The crux of the problem is this - if the public health care system cannot provide care to patients in a timely manner, then it is simply wrong to throw up road blocks to patients seeking the health care they need," Dr. Day added. "The Supreme Court of Canada has stated this in no uncertain terms, and we intend to ensure that B.C. provincial law complies with the laws of Canada. Patients in British Columbia should not have their constitutional rights overridden by Draconian laws that deny them access to care."

CIMCA is a non-profit organization that represents medical clinics, patients, health care workers and their advocates and supporters. Its mission is to promote improved access to high quality, timely health care for all Canadians.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 30, 2009 in Health care reform | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Canadian national anthem banned in New Brunswick elementary school

After some immigrant parents complained that the Canadian national anthem was "divisive," the principal of Belleisle Elementary School in New Brunswick decided to ban it.

From the National Post:

Principal Erik Millett of Belleisle Elementary School in Springfield, N.B., a small community about 90 kilometres southeast of Fredericton, scrapped the morning ritual in the summer of 2007, citing concerns from several parents. But the issue failed to gain much notice until this week, after a mother complained about the policy to local media.

Here's a CBC news report about the anthem ban:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (61)

Brian Day and private health clinics take B.C. government to court to expand Chaoulli ruling

Dr. Brian Day, of the private Cambie Surgery Centre and former president of the Canadian Medical Association, along with other private surgery clinics in British Columbia, have leveled a lawsuit against the provincial government in an attempt to make it legal for regular folk to spend their own money on their own health care. Currently, the Canada Health Act permits RCMP officers, federal prisoners, recipients of workers compensation, and a few others, to make use of private surgery centres. The rest of us can't. And the rest of us wait. And wait. And wait.

The goal is to expand the 2005 Supreme Court Chaoulli ruling where the Court ruled that Quebec's prohibition on regular people spending their own money of private medicine violated the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I wrote the Western Standard's cover story, entitled "Freedom Fighter," about the Chaoulli case (published before the ruling came down). You can also read our Question Period with Dr. Jacques Chaoulli here.

The Vancouver Sun reports:

The plaintiffs will argue that the 2005 Chaoulli Supreme Court of Canada case should be applicable in B.C. In that case -- brought by appellants Jacques Chaoulli, a doctor, and George Zeliotis, a patient -- the highest court struck down Quebec's ban on private insurance for medically necessary services. The private clinics are expected to argue that citizens should be allowed to buy private health insurance to use in private clinics if their operative care is not delivered in a timely manner in the public system.

The action against the health minister, attorney-general and the medical services commission is expected to ask for a declaration that sections of the Medicare Protection Act violate the rights of citizens.

Health Minister George Abbott declined to comment Tuesday, but in the past he has pointed to Quebec's private clinics to argue that private clinics already existing in B.C. may not be seen by the federal government as breaching Canada Health Act statutes. The Chaoulli ruling found that Quebecers' rights under the Quebec charter of rights were being violated by long waits for medical care in the public system.

"In essence, the question is whether Quebecers who are prepared to spend money to get access to health care that is, in practice, not accessible in the public sector because of waiting lists may be validly prevented from doing so by the state," read Justice Marie Deschamps's reasons for the decision. "I find that the prohibition infringes the right to personal inviolability and that it is not justified by a proper regard for democratic values, public order and the general well-being of the citizens of Quebec."

This new court case brings the number of current legal cases attempting to expand the ruling in Chaoulli to three. The Canadian Constitution Foundation is currently working on expanding the ruling in Ontario (McCreith & Holmes v. Ontario) and Alberta (William Murray v. Alberta). You can contribute to the CCF here.

Meanwhile, you can watch a video of Brian Day's brilliant final speech as president here. It's worth watching and listening to.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 29, 2009 in Health care reform | Permalink | Comments (5)

CHRC cleared of "hacking" allegation

This just in from the Privacy Commisioner:

An individual complained that the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) improperly collected and then subsequently used her personal information. Specifically, she complained that the CHRC accessed her wireless internet connection to log onto and post messages to a white supremacist website during the course of an investigation.
...
There is no evidence that the CHRC ever collected or improperly used, disclosed or retained the complainant’s personal information.

Technological experts have indicated that, most likely, but without certainty, the association of the complainant’s IP address to the CHRC was simply a mismatch on the part of a third party, which could have occurred in a variety of ways not involving the CHRC.

What is certain is that there is no evidence of the CHRC having ever collected or improperly used, disclosed or retained any personal information about the complainant.

This doesn't mean there isn't reason to oppose the CHRC. It does mean that it would be a very bad idea to continue to propagate the hacking allegation. As far as I'm concerned, the blogger Buckets decisively refuted the evidence against the CHRC sometime ago.

H/T: Dr. Dawg.

Posted by Terrence Watson on January 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (14)

U.K. social services remove children from grandparents care, insist on adoption to same-sex couple

In a bizarro world, the government decides which children get to live where, and for what reason. Welcome to England:

The five-year-old boy and his four-year-old sister were being looked after by their grandparents because their mother, a recovering drug addict, was not considered capable.

But social workers stepped in after allegedly deciding that the couple, who are aged 59 and 46, were "too old" to look after the children.

They were allegedly stripped of their carer's rights and informed they would be barred from seeing the children altogether unless they agreed to the same-sex adoption.

The distraught grandfather said: "It breaks my heart to think that our grandchildren are being forced to grow up in an environment without a mother-figure.

"We are not prejudiced, but I defy anyone to explain to us how this can be in their best interests.

"The ideal for any child is to have a loving father and a loving mother in their lives."

His wife added: "It's so important for children to fit in, and I feel our grandchildren will be marked out from the start when they draw pictures of their two dads."

The case raises fears about state interference in family arrangements, and concerns about the practice of adoption by same-sex couples.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 29, 2009 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (15)

Rick Mercer: Conservative policy -- 20 minutes fresh. Always.

Worth a laugh. Too bad it's true:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 29, 2009 in Humour | Permalink | Comments (5)

What's NBC afraid of?

NBC has decided not to air an ad from the U.S. advocacy group CatholicVote.com during the Super Bowl. The moving and powerful 30-second pro-life spot was produced and shown on Black Entertainment Television in Chicago at the time of Obama's inauguration, and has since gone on to receive three-quarters of million hits on YouTube.

There's nothing offensive about the ad; there are no questionable images; there are only irrefutable assertions and an uplifting message. Judge for yourself. And then ask: Why is NBC afraid of the truth?

Posted by Terry O'Neill on January 29, 2009 in Media | Permalink | Comments (14)

Event: Are Canadian freedoms being crushed in the name of human rights?

If you're in London, Ontario tonight, you can check out Kathy Shaidle and Salim Mansur discuss the disaster that is the Canadian Human Rights Commission hosted by Forest City Institute. Here's information from their flyer:

Join Kathy Shaidle, “Five Feet of Fury” blogger and co-author of The Tyranny of Nice and Salim Mansur, Sun Media columnist and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Western Ontario to find out how unelected bureaucrats and lawyers are abusing human rights legislation to undermine our traditional freedoms of speech and belief.

Speaking Out For Free Speech 2009

Hosted by the Forest City Institute

Where: Westmount Public Library, 3200 Wonderland Road South [London, Ontario]
When: Thursday, January 29th, 7:00 to 9:00 pm (doors open at 6:30)
Price: $10.00, $5.00 for students and seniors

Tickets available at the door. Seating is limited (Capacity 100). Please RSVP to info@forestcityinstitute.ca

Book signing: Copies of The Tyranny of Nice will be available for sale both preceding and after the event

CONTACT THE FOREST CITY INSTITUTE FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
info@forestcityinstitute.ca
www.forestcityinstitute.ca
519.438.8606

Ezra Levant, our former publisher, links to Salim Mansur's recent column in the Sun. Here are a few excerpts from Mansur's piece, entitled "Speak up for Canadian freedom":

This is the grassroots campaign supporting freedom of speech unconstrained by the coercive arm of the state -- the federal and provincial Human Rights Commissions (HRC). It is truly bizarre that in the 21st century such a campaign has to be organized in one of the oldest liberal democracies.

It is also bizarre that so many Canadians remain unconcerned that the foundational principle of liberal democracy -- freedom of speech -- has been assaulted systematically in their country in the name of tolerance.

And then making matters worse, the Canadian state armed the federal HRC -- provincial governments have followed Ottawa -- with section 13 in the Canadian Human Rights Act to penalize speech if it is "likely" to expose someone to contempt or hatred even though it might not be proven in court.

What might now seem a long time ago to Canadian legislators and bureaucrats of the HRCs, J.S. Mill, writing in On Liberty, observed some eight years before the Dominion of Canada was established that "unless the reasons (for free speech) are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case."

Going back further by more than two centuries, the English poet John Milton laid out the argument against censoring free speech in his tract titled Areopagitica, Milton contended -- and Mill returned to it -- that truth does not need the aid of censor's coercive powers to prevail.

Milton famously wrote, "Let her (truth) and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?"

Individuals speaking confidently armed with reasons stand on their own without requiring state support against opponents. And those appealing to censors in making their arguments do so because their case is weak, or false.

Our politicians have lost sight of how, through hard and bloody skirmishes, the principle of free speech was advanced to give strength, virtue and purpose to liberal democracy that we take for granted with so little thought.

If you plan on attending the event, send me or someone else at the Western Standard an email. We'd like to hear how it went.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 29, 2009 in Freedom of expression | Permalink | Comments (1)

It's a Liberal budget: Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty "heaps praise" on "Conservative" budget

From the Ottawa Citizen:

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty heaped praise on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the new federal budget yesterday, adding Ontario would follow the federal government into significant deficit.

Mr. McGuinty said he will match the roughly $5.4 billion in infrastructure spending committed federally over the next two years.

"We're going to have to find a way to come up with that money," he told reporters. "That is necessarily going to increase the size of our deficit, but frankly I don't think we have a choice given the state of our economy, the fragility of the state of confidence in the minds of Ontario consumers, (and) the number of folks who are losing their jobs."

When Dalton McGuinty is busy praising a budget, you can count on it being a) not conservative and b) a disaster. For good responses to the federal budget, check out this list of reactions.

UPDATE: And here's The Toronto Star reporting on the love-in:

Hailing Stephen Harper as the "Prime Minister who actually delivered" for Ontario, Premier Dalton McGuinty said the federal budget is just the tonic for the province's ailing economy.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 29, 2009 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

No, Mr. President, we're not all Keynesians now

The Cato Institute took out a full-page ad [PDF] appearing in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Roll Call yesterday. The advertisement insists that U.S. president Barack Obama is wrong about the non-existence of disagreement about whether or not the government should push through a "recovery plan" to help the faltering economy.

The advertisement quotes Obama as saying that, "There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy," on January 9. In large font, the advert responds, "With all due respect, Mr. President, that is not true." Before a long list of signatories, the advert continues:

Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan's "lost decade" in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today. To improve the economy, policymakers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 29, 2009 in Economic freedom | Permalink | Comments (3)

Excerpt from Loyal to the Core

As you may have heard, I have a book due to come out at the end of February called Loyal to the Core: Harper, me and the NCC.

It's part memoir, part political history and part cautionary tale for Canada's conservative movement.

Anyway, today the Toronto Sun is carrying an excerpt from my book. And if you read it, you will see it's more than a little ironic in light of Tuesday's budget.

You can pre-order Loyal to the Core here.

Posted by Gerry Nicholls on January 29, 2009 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Al & Mike Show - Episode 52 - Canada's First NDP Budget

The post budget show. We discuss the implications of the complete failure of the Conservative government to be well... economically conservative. Moin A. Yahya of the University of Alberta joins us (please excuse the accidental reference to the University of Calgary at the midpoint).

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 January 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2)

US House of Representatives passes $819-billion Obama stimulus, Republicans sit out

CBS news reports:

The House of Representatives late Wednesday passed President Barack Obama's $819 billion plan to stimulate the economy and curtail the nation's year-old recession.

The 244-188 vote proceeded along party lines as expected. Only 12 Democrats opposed the measure, and no Republicans supported it.

Senate committees have been working on a separate version of the measure. It is not clear how quickly the Senate version will be completed, passed, and reconciled with the House measure, but Congressional leaders have promised Mr. Obama they would send him a completed bill by mid-February.

The House vote came after days of intense lobbying by the new president, including personal appeals to congressional Republicans. GOP lawmakers spurned Obama, saying the bill contains too much spending and not enough tax cuts.

Republican critics say the bill was little more than the fulfillment of a long-standing Democratic wish list. Those critics pointed to $1 billion for Amtrak, $41 billion for local school districts and $127 billion for health care for the poor and unemployed, reports CBS News chief White House correspondent Chip Reid.

[...] The legislation includes an estimated $544 in federal spending and $275 billion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses. It includes money for highway construction and mass transit.

The Obama recovery package would be the largest spending bill ever to move through Congress. The House measure had been estimated to cost $825 billion, but the Congressional Budget Office updated the bill's price tag to $816 billion after accountants recalculated the cost. That total rose by $3 billion when the House approved a Democratic amendment for mass transit.

Gentlemen, start your printing presses!

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 28, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Yes, Minister: Party games

Yes, Minister, and Yes, Prime Minister, is probably my favourite British television series. And why shouldn't it be? Here's a show that purports to be a comedy, but accurately describes what really happens in government.

I've spent the afternoon watching a few episodes on YouTube, and thought I'd share my absolute favourite set of them. In "Party Games," Jim Hacker, that's the minister, gets tapped for Number 10 Downing Street. How did this blubbering buffoon get chosen? You'll have to watch the videos.

I'm thinking this is exactly how Stephane Dion got picked to lead the Liberals before Ignatieff.

(Parts 2 through 8 below the fold)

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Part 6:

Part 7:

Part 8:

Just brilliant, don't you think?

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 28, 2009 in Humour | Permalink | Comments (2)

Imagine reading the news on your home computer



(h/t Buzzfeed)

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 28, 2009 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (7)

Al & Mike Show: Budget Edition - Tonight at 8:30pm EST, 5:30pm PST.

Tonight, we will have the budget edition of the Al & Mike Show, where will we go through the new Liberal budget. Moin Yahya of the University of Alberta, and contributor to the Shotgun will be our guest. This is a live taping and we will be taking live calls. Remember to tune in.

Posted by Mike Brock on January 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Liberal leader backs Liberal budget

Following up on Hugh's posting, below, we apparently now know the extent of the conditions that Ignatieff is demanding to support the Liberal, er Tory, budget. He simply wants to be kept in the loop. "We are putting the government on probation," the coalition-slayer said, apparently with a straight face.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on January 28, 2009 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Opposition Parties in translation

The National Post provided a brief summary of the reaction of the three opposition parties to the budget. Some of the quotes need to be translated out of political speech.

Igantieff said, "There are positive aspects of this budget, which I believe are the result of pressure from the opposition."

Translation: I'm going to pass the budget but I'm going to make a big deal about it first.

I have mixed feelings about the way he has been conducting himself as opposition leader. He has been inconsistent about his policy positions. He was supportive of tax breaks until he wasn't and thought that deficits were okay until he didn't. He seems to be opposing for the sake of opposing rather than presenting a clear alternative to government policies. On the other hand he is able to say that he may bring down the government without people laughing at him. Which is an improvement over Dion.

Jack Layton said, 
"The budget will leave a lot of people behind. Won't help the unemployed or stop the bleeding we're seeing now. We're disappointed. It won't get the job done."

Translation: I still want to be Minister of Industry.

Jack Layton has worked hard to destroy what credibility he had. He has been saying for almost two months that the budget won't be good enough. So no one is surprised that he opposes it once it is here. He would have done better to take a similar line as Ignatieff did.

Ducceppe says, "blah blah blah Quebec blah blah Quebec"

Translation: Let it all burn as long as Quebec gets a few extra million.

You have to give the BQ credit for consistancy.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on January 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (6)

Globe and Mail cover says it all: The Deficit Budget

Here's the cover of the Globe and Mail today. No comment necessary:

Picture 1

Reactions from folks to the budget here. More updates coming.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 28, 2009 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

The Do-Nothing-Crowd: What should government do to fix the economy? What it should do about all sorts of problems. Nothing.

The Stephen Harper-led Tories released details about their absolutely disastrous and anti-conservative budget yesterday. Honest and forthright small government supporters (read: libertarians and fiscal conservatives) are up in arms and calling a fraud a fraud.

But all these small government supporters don't appear to be offering much of a solution to the problems. What would they have the government do? What particular steps should the government take?

Phrasing the question like that already stacks the deck against the small government supporters. If you ask what Jones should do to fix the plumbing, you're already assuming that Jones should be busy doing something. Maybe Jones shouldn't be doing anything. Maybe the right questions are: Is this a problem that Jones can actually fix? Will Jones taking action alleviate the problems, or just make them worse?

And the same might be true of the government. Maybe, just maybe, instead of "doing something," the government should "do nothing."

In steps Politico with what promises to be an exciting series of articles on what they're calling the Do-Nothing-Crowd -- the dissident economists, pundits, and policy experts who insist that the government should not get itself in a tizzy and throw its elbows around in the market. It should keep its elbows to itself. It should do nothing.

Most of Washington has reached quick consensus: Government must do something big to shock the economy, and it should cost between $800 billion and $900 billion.

But dissident economists and investment professionals offer a much different take: Most of Washington is dead wrong.

Instead of fighting over what should go in the economic stimulus bill, pitting infrastructure spending against tax cuts and contractors against contraceptives, they say lawmakers should be fighting against the very idea of any economic stimulus at all. Call them the Do-Nothing Crowd.

“The economy was too big. It was all phantom wealth borrowed from abroad,” says Andrew Schiff, an investment consultant at Euro Pacific Capital and a card-carrying member of the stand-tall-against-the-stimulus lobby. “All this stimulus money is geared toward getting consumers spending and borrowing again. But spending and borrowing were the problem in the first place.”

Washington has a habit of passing legislation in a crisis and suffering from morning-after regrets — the Iraq war, the Patriot Act and last year’s original bank bailout plan come to mind. So we thought it would be wise to air the views of the naysayers toward Washington’s latest consensus approach.

Read the rest, and stay tuned. We'll be following this series closely.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 28, 2009 in Economic freedom | Permalink | Comments (5)

British want their guns back

Here's a nice video of Brits demanding their fundamental, traditional British liberties back. Which include, of course, the freedom to own a gun, to hunt, and so on.

Listen to the marchers and their articulation of their actual demands: It's not about fox hunting, which prompted the protest, or anything particular, it's about their individual freedom of choice. Good for them.

The Brits banned handguns a while ago now, but gun crimes have gone up. Yes, they have. Maybe it's time to reconsider the old saws, yeah? Maybe it's time to reconsider gun laws in Britain. And in Canada. And in parts of the U.S.

h/t: Instapundit

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 28, 2009 in Gun freedom | Permalink | Comments (23)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Serial killer Ted Bundy blames pornography for murderous lust

On the 20th anniversary of the execution of serial killer Ted Bundy, LifeSiteNews.com is directing its readers to a January 23, 1989 interview with the killer. Bundy, who was raised in a loving home under normal circumstances, blames his lust for sex and violence, which led to his killing spree, on an unmanaged addiction to pornography.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on January 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (12)

Reactions on the $85 billion dollar deficit budget

Andrew Coyne has a brilliant reaction to the budget:

Say what you like about the Tories: they don’t do things by halves. When they spend, they spend. When they go into debt, they do it $100-billion at a time. And when they decide to put an end to conservatism in Canada — as a philosophy, as a movement — they go out with a bang.

EVEN MORE GOODNESS: This time from the National Post's John Ivison (admittedly, this isn't a post-announcement reaction, but a good one anyways):

In the life of every ministry, there comes a moment when convictions have been worn down by the constant pressures of power, leaving the government on all sides of every issue, standing for everything and nothing.

Stephen Harper's government may well have reached that point with this budget.

MORE: Shotgun blogger Gerry Nicholls laments over on his personal blog:

Well now it's official.

The Conservative Party is conservative in name only.

Makes me yearn for the days when we had relatively fiscally conservative leaders, like Jean Chretien.

I think I'm beginning to pick up on a theme here. Stay tuned for more. (Feel free to point me to some more as well. Good, bad, whatever, just reactions.)

THAT WAS QUICK: I get a link to Kinsella's reaction in an email:

They believe in nothing, stand for nothing, except power.

They're done. Short-term, long-term, they're done.

THE DAY AFTER UPDATE: MONTE SOLBERG says:

The Conservatives have easily escaped to fight another day, but what are they fighting for?

This budget isn't a conservative document so much as it's a political document; a document that will give the Conservative government the room necessary to craft a compelling conservative vision for the future.

GREG WESTON says "so much for fiscal restraint":

The federal budget unveiled yesterday abandons all pretext of fiscal restraint, launching Stephen Harper's government of prudence and balanced budgets on a spending spree not seen in decades.

L IAN MACDONALD thinks the Tories got dressed in Liberal clothing and delivered a Liberal budget.

WERNER PATELS pontificates here:

Welcome to Canada 2009 A.D. We're back to colossal deficits and mounting national debts. Make no mistake about it: this is not a socialist or left-wing government that is doing this, but a supposedly far-right conservative one – at least, that's how the media and opposition parties have characterized Stephen Harper's party for years.

(Yeah, they have, Werner. But we were busy arguing with Harper well before this budget. We took a lot of flack for insisting that Harper isn't conservative enough, that the Conservatives have derailed.)

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 27, 2009 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (40)

$85 billion deficit: The Canadian budget

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has released the budget, and the spending is gargantuan. It is monstrous. It is ginormous. The Conservatives are projecting an $85 billion dollar deficit over the next five years.

From CTV: "We must do what it takes to keep our economy moving, and to protect Canadians in this extraordinary time," Flaherty said. "Making new investments is more challenging in such a time; but it is also more necessary than ever."

I wonder... can I call it an "investment" the next time I pay my toll traveling along the 407? Or does that just count as regular-old "spending"?

Here are some of the details, again from CTV:

The surprise move of the day was the roughly $2 billion per year in income tax cuts. Those cuts will extend to $20 billion over the next six years.

The tax changes will include a slight increase in the basic personal exemption and raising the upper limit on the two lowest personal income-tax brackets.

Business tax cuts were also included in the budget, $2 billion over six years.

Government spending will jump dramatically in the budget -- up 11 per cent in the 2009-2010 and three per cent in the year following.

EI benefits will also be extended five weeks for the next two years.

Other measures in the budget include:

* $12 billion for infrastructure spending towards roads, sewers and universities, $1 billion for "green" infrastructure, and $1 billion for clean-energy research.
* $1.5 billion for job training
* $7.8 billion for social housing and home renovation, including a one-year only Home Renovation Tax Credit of up to $1,350 per household.
* $2.7 billion in short-term loans to the auto industry.
* More than $1.4 billion for aboriginal schools, health, water, housing, community services and training.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 27, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (12)

Sarah Palin starts her own Political Action Committee: SarahPAC

Picture 3

Hot Air is confirming rumours that SarahPAC.com, a Sarah Palin-led political action committee, is the real thing.

SarahPAC describes itself as follows:

Sarah Palin's Official PAC

Dedicated to building America's future, supporting fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation.

SarahPAC believes America's best days are ahead. Our country, founded on conservative principles and the fight for freedom, must confront the challenges of the 21st century with integrity, innovation, and determination.

SarahPAC believes energy independence is a cornerstone of the economic security and progress that every American family wants and deserves.

SarahPAC believes the Republican Party is at the threshold of an historic renaissance that will build a better future for all. Health care, education, and reform of government are among our key goals. Join us today!

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 27, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (6)

John Updike has died

CNN is reporting that best-selling author John Updike has died today at age 75 of lung cancer.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on January 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Budget anticipation: Are bankruptcies bad for the economy?

The federal budget will be released later today. Most free market analysts and small government supporters are expecting the worst, especially since the Stephen Harper-led Conservative Party has already released the news that we will be staring down a $34 billion dollar deficit this year, followed by a $30 billion dollar deficit next year (not all the news is frightful, however, witness this proposal amongst the disaster).

What's motivating governments to act so recklessly? At least part of the explanation is an appreciation for Keynesian spend, spend, spend economics (even though tax cuts win). But we shouldn't overlook the desire amongst governments not to see any businesses become bankrupt, especially politically favoured businesses like the big three automakers.

Bankruptcies, however, are crucial to the proper functioning of a market. Or so argues Le Quebecois Libre's English editor Bradley Doucet in his column entitled "Illiberal beliefs: Bankruptcies are bad for the economy."

Doucet runs a series on Le Quebecois Libre undermining fashionable, illiberal beliefs (read: myths). Doucet thinks the battle for freedom is won not with guns (although they help), but with ideas. And his latest piece is necessary reading for those of us who are suffering under the illusion that businesses going bankrupt is nothing but bad news for the economy.

Here's an excerpt:

The thing to notice is that, painful as it is, bankruptcy is just the market's way of correcting itself. Economic players have been acting in disregard of reality, and this has consequences. Bankruptcy is a serious form of market correction, but like all market corrections, when it is necessary, it is necessary.

Bailing out an enterprise that should by all rights be allowed to fail is just an attempt to deny reality. It punishes hardworking taxpayers and efficiently-run businesses for the sins of overpaid union members and inefficiently-run businesses. It also sets up an unhealthy spiral, in which those who act recklessly are not held to account, encouraging them to continue to act recklessly in the future. It is corporate welfare at its worst, even though some of the benefits redound to privileged union members at the expense of all other workers.

You can read the rest here.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 27, 2009 in Economic freedom | Permalink | Comments (7)

Budget anticipation: Ron Paul on Morning Joe and CNN

Texas Congressman Ron Paul has been busy criticizing the U.S. stimulus package (his former economic adviser Peter Schiff has been doing the same). Here he is on Morning Joe from earlier today, doing his best to answer questions from folks sympathetic to Keynesian economics:

Paul was also on CNN earlier today. (The Patriot Act of finance? That's what some libertarians are calling the fiscal stimulus.):

Too few politicians and pundits are manning the barricades to defend the free and open market, and to stand up to big-spending governments around the world. It's good to see Paul and Schiff getting major network airtime to at least present the case for a small government approach to the economic crisis.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 27, 2009 in Economic freedom | Permalink | Comments (10)

Budget anticipation: Peter Schiff says cut government, taxes, not add spending or centralized planning

Here's Peter Schiff (who really needs no introduction) on Business Network News, first aired January 7th but relevant today as we await what will surely be a bloated, spend-heavy, left-wing budget:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 27, 2009 in Economic freedom | Permalink | Comments (0)

Budget anticipation: permanent tax cut for those earning under 80,000?

While the federal budget, due to be released later today, will be a showcase of big government largess and NDP-like spending, there is hope today that at least one element of the budget isn't awful: A new leak suggests the Tories plan to introduce a permanent tax cut for those earning less than $80,000 per year.

Via the CBC:

"We've had a lot of information trickle out of the last couple of days," the CBC's Margo McDiarmid reported from Ottawa Tuesday as the capital awaited the official budget text. "We know there'll be about $13 billion of programs, including infrastructure programs.

"But new information has come out overnight on what also will be in the budget. We're going to hear that there will be permanent tax cuts for people who make under $80,000 — so, permanent broad-based tax cuts for the middle class we've heard the government talking about in the past — and also it plans to speed up corporate tax cuts."

Such moves could lead to a showdown with the opposition Liberals, whose leader, Michael Ignatieff, argues that broad-based, permanent cuts are a bad idea at this time.

Stephen Harper spoke with CTV, but wouldn't release any detailed specifics about the size of the tax cuts, or other, similar measures that might be less-than-awful in the forthcoming, deficit-fueling, big government, non-conservative budget:

"Some of those tax initiat[iv]es will involve getting money in consumer's pockets, so that ordinary people, working class people, middle class people, can spend money," Harper said, adding that the cuts will be "affordable" in the long-term.

[CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert] Fife said Tuesday that the budget will include "modest but permanent tax cuts" for anyone earning under $77,000 annually.

Meanwhile, the Liberals have said that cutting taxes for middle-class Canadians would throw the country into long-term deficits, and they've threatened to vote against the budget on that issue.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 27, 2009 in Canadian Conservative Politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Riding the "O" Wave

I heard about a new Chrysler logo from a friend, but was only able to find one reference on this blog. The image below is taken from the same. The blogger says he saw this billboard somewhere near New Hampshire.

ChryslerBama

Is Chrysler joining Pepsi on the advertising O-train? Curious what ya'll think -- will this kind of marketing help, hurt or not really affect companies? Will Obama fatigue eventually kick in?

Posted by Isaac Morehouse on January 27, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gwyn Morgan has some ideas worth avoiding in scramble to fix economy

Gwyn Morgan offers five ideas that should be avoided if we hope to get through the financial crisis without creating more serious economic problems.

In “Beware the pain-for-no-gain economic scenario,” Morgan cautions against 1) bailing out doomed companies, 2) ill-conceived spending, 3) printing too much money, 4) deflating real investment values through inflation (see #3), and 5) structural deficits.

Gwyn Morgan is a Director with the Manning Centre for Building Democracy and former CEO of EnCana. You can read his column here.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on January 26, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Kristol gets canned from the New York Times

William Kristol, big government conservative, has had his last column published by the New York Times, and small government conservatives rejoice.

From Editor & Publisher:

Kristol had come to the Times in early January 2008 on a one-year contract but the paper has been widely criticized for his offerings and has had to run several corrections.

Ironically, the final column opens "All good things must come to an end." But this does not refer to his column but the alleged "end of a conservative era," with Obama's inauguration.

Meanwhile, the Times has its own news story on, uhm, itself:

William Kristol, the conservative columnist, and The New York Times have quietly ended their relationship after little more than a year, the newspaper said on Monday.

A single sentence printed below Mr. Kristol’s column in Monday’s paper broke the news: “This is William Kristol’s last column.” His column, itself, made no reference to his departure, and the paper did not release a statement.

“It was mutual agreement,” Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor, said in an interview. “We discussed this before the election, and decided that we would end now.”

As for whether The Times would find another conservative voice for its Op-Ed page, Mr. Rosenthal said: “Sadly, I can’t answer that question, except to say stay tuned. We have some interesting plans.”

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 26, 2009 in Media | Permalink | Comments (1)

Matt Bufton: Disaster socialism

Matt Bufton, director of the Institute for Liberal Studies (disclosure: I'm a director there as well), has a great piece up on C2C entitled "Disaster Socialism: The impact of the financial crisis on the future of conservative politics."

Writes Bufton:

In her best-selling book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein argues that times of crisis have been used to impose free-market reforms on an unsuspecting populace.

If we accept Klein’s premise, we should expect that the Harper government will use the ongoing global economic uncertainty as an excuse to bring in free-market reforms and shrink the size of government. Surely an unrepentant conservative like Harper is relishing this opportunity?

Actually, this is a nice way to test Klein's theory. Here we have a financial disaster, and an opportunity for right-wing governments to pass massive tax cuts and budget cuts as a way to stimulate the economy. If Klein's right, the U.S. and Canadian budgets should have all sorts of capitalist, free-market reforms and policies. Especially since the public, as Bufton makes plain, is receptive to a small government approach to addressing the economic crisis:

To make this situation even more tragic, it appears that many Canadians are open, perhaps even receptive, to the idea that increased government spending is not the answer to our economic woes. In a recent survey by The Canadian Press, pollster Harris-Decima found that 54% of respondents said they wanted government to spend within its means, while just 39% thought the government should go into deficit in order to stimulate economic growth.

Some organizations have actually proposed measures that are completely consistent with fiscal conservative principles. The Canadian Association of Retired Persons recently called for “getting government out of the way so they [seniors] can control their own lives and investments.” The Canadian Real Estate Association commissioned a study which identified cuts to sales and income taxes as being among the most effective ways to stimulate the economy. The Canada West Foundation released a poll of 25 leading economists, who overwhelmingly favoured the use of tax cuts over government spending as a means of economic stimulus.

Alas, the Conservative government is proposing to spend, rather than cut, and is threatening to make the government gargantuan. Disaster capitalism? No, Klein, disaster socialism.

Read Bufton's entire piece here.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 26, 2009 in Economic freedom | Permalink | Comments (3)