The Shotgun Blog
Saturday, November 03, 2012
New International Trade Crossing: Bridge Math
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
The Shotgun: Number five political blog in Canada for May
Last month, Robert Jago, a Shotgun blogger himself, placed the Shotgun blog in the number four position in his monthly Top 25 Canadian political blogs. This month, we dropped one position (or, rather, Ghost of a Flea rose ahead of us) to the number five spot.
We're happy to be in the top 10, but the elation of being number one in late 2008 is still haunting us with the desire to get back there again. Being able to say that we were the number one political blog in the country was reason for a lot of pride amongst the editorial team and amongst our eclectic group of bloggers.
Jago deserves a lot of credit for the work he puts into the monthly list, and we're grateful for it. It's a pretty thankless job, especially since he mostly gets criticism, rather than gratitude, for putting the list together.
This month, the number one spot is filled (as usual) by Michael Geist, whose Google Page Rank 7 blog seems mighty difficult to beat (we have a GPR 6 ranking). Following Geist is The Tyee's "The Hook" blog at number 2, Small Dead Animals at number 3, Ghost of a Flea at number 4, Matthew Good at number 6, Eaves.ca at 7, Mark Steyn's SteynOnline at 8, Ezra Levant at 9, and rounding out the top 10 is Calgary Grit.
So here we are in the number five position for May. Shotgunners, reload. And keep your powder dry.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Filibuster: The end, for now
We've been posting J.J. McCullough's cartoons here on The Shotgun for as long as I can remember. In fact, I still remember sending ex-ed-in-chief Kevin Libin an excited email about an amazing cartoonist that should be in the WS magazine (back when we were in print), only to be told that Libin and the gang had already employed him (I was in the U.S., my subscription was in Canada).
So it's with a certain amount of sadness and regret that I'm posting the following from J.J. McCullough. On behalf of everyone here at the Standard: Good luck in Japan, and change your mind! (And thanks for the incredible cartoons).
It’s with a heavy heart that I have decided to put Filibuster on an indefinite hiatus.
My reasons are multiple, but the simplest explanation may also be the most blunt — the site is simply not popular enough.
I have been doing Filibuster for nearly eight years now, which is not an insignificant period of time by webcomic standards. I’ve produced almost 1,000 toons, and while my update schedule has obviously become far more loose over the course of the last year or so, overall, I’ve still held pretty firm to my self-imposed mandate of at least one toon a week, every week, since 2001.
Yet I don’t feel I have very much to show for it all. If Google Analytics is to be believed, I average an extraordinarily pathetic 2,000 visitors a day, a rate that has remained depressingly constant over the last few years, in spite of producing a number of very popular comics that have been cross-linked from some big-name blogs. In such situations I may get an enormous deluge of new visitors for a day or two, but it always trickles back into a wimpy stream soon enough. I likewise get very few emails from readers, and this site’s forum, though home to much intelligent and engaging dialogue, remains sparsely inhabited. It’s all very unsatisfying.
I don’t know exactly why Filibuster never “caught on.” Usually sheer longevity (coupled with a vaguely consistent standard of quality) is enough to drive up some sort of stable support base with just about any webcomic, but not so with mine.
I have my theories, of course. A leading one is that most people simply don’t like editorial cartoons, so I always faced an uphill battle. Editorial cartooning is a somewhat anachronistic art form with a subtlety that many people either don’t get, or actively dislike. Political cartoons, with their stock symbols and labels and visual metaphors and all the rest are formulaic, yes, but so is Manga and so are superhereo comics and so are online strips about video games and all the rest. But I’ve never quite understood why some folks get such a thrill out of eagerly denouncing and mockingthe traditions (admittedly unimpressive and boring as they sometimes are) of political cartoons with a snobbish venom few other forms of cartooning ever have to face.
But editorial cartooning may be on the way out, anyway. According to Daryl Cagle, the prolific commentator on all things relating to editorial cartoons, as newspapers become less profitable in the internet age, editorial cartoons are often one of the first costs to cut. As a result, claims Cagle, there are now “only a few dozen editorial cartoonists left” in the United States “and they seem to be losing their jobs at a pace of about one per week.” So maybe I bet on the wrong horse.
Of course, this theory does not explain the tremendous success enjoyed by Cox and Forkum, another solely online editorial cartoon (now in hiatus too) whose popularity was enough to inspire tens of thousands of visitors, two books, reprints in newspapers across the United States and Canada, and all the accompanying rewards. Granted, Cox and Forkum was always an explicitly right-wing comic, which gave them a strong support base during the fanatic polarization of the Bush years. I’m not going to self-righteously suggest that I was somehow above crass partisanship myself when my pet issues were at play, but I was certainly less interested than most in making my comic openly pro or anti left or right. And that probably hurt me. Content wise, I was probably also too Canadian for my majority-American readership, and not Canadian (or perhaps not pro-Canadian) enough to get a strong Canadian base. But who knows, maybe I just should have updated more.
A webcomic can only be a labour of love for so long. In recent months Filibuster has become a bit of a chore, and its obligatory nature has often drawn my creative / artistic energy away from other projects that I am more interested in perusing. Living in Japan has likewise proven to be a much more difficult and unhappy experience than I anticipated, and the last thing I need when I’m in such a state is one more unpleasant chore to further lower my mood.
Lastly, I’m simply just not as into politics as I used to be, at least for now. I think President Obama deserves the benefit of the doubt for the time being, and I don’t wish him any particular ill in pursuing whatever agenda it is he’s pursuing. America voted for change, and he has a right to implement it. Politics in Canada, by contrast, has become so profoundly anti-change that I really have a hard time getting passionate about it anymore. Harper and Ignatieff are both decent men, I guess, but it’s going to be a long time before any effort is made to address Canada’s fundamental problems, which as a wise man once said, are never openly acknowledged, let alone solved.
Anyway, while one never wants to say never, especially when one is as fickle as I, I think this is going to be the end of Filibuster for a while. I’ve had a good run. Enjoy the archives, and if you are still interested in following my art, be sure to check out my Deviant Art page, which I will hopefully be updating more regularly in lieu of this site. When I do more writings or charts, I’ll also stick them on here, so updates will occur. I’m also planning on revamping myCanada Guide sometime in the future, so… don’t abandon Filibuster completely.
Thanks to everyone who has stuck with me this long. Though I may sound down, it has been a great experience for me overall, and I’ve learned a ton. Hopefully you’ve gained something, too.
Let’s stay in touch.
April 2009, Saitama, Japan
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Shotgun: Number eight political blog in the country
Robert Jago, who blogs here at the Western Standard, has crunched the numbers for the month of December, and our January ranking is eighth. The Shotgun is the number eight political blog in the country (doesn't have the same ring as last month's description, I must admit).
New additions on this month's list include The Tyee's blog "The Hook" at number three, which I read often, though not daily, and with pleasure. Desmogblog at number four, which is an anti-climate change skeptics (that's "anti climate-change-skeptics", to be clear) blog. I've never seen it before, and my first impressions are pretty bad. Here's the description:
"DeSmogBlog exists to clear the PR pollution that is clouding the science on climate change." [Of course, the only "PR pollution" they manage to "clear" is the PR pollution from the contrarian side. They don't really nail Al Gore for much of anything, and they don't seem to mind the enviro-hysterics out there either. But, like I said, I'm going on first impressions, and I'll be delighted to be wrong about this.]
"An overwhelming majority of the world's climate scientists agree that the globe is warming - the world's climate is changing - and that the indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels is to blame"... [I don't know of anyone who doubts that the climate is changing. I think literally everybody agrees. The climate is *always* changing. But that's probably not what was meant. The meaning is probably that the earth is getting warmer, the ice caps are going to melt, polar bears will eat the heads of our children just before they all go extinct, and all the cute animals will die, leaving the earth with only the ugly animals that PETA has never used in any of its advertising. Like the cockroach. Or the rat. Also, "indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels"? What? Why would anyone burn fossil fuels "indiscriminately"? I have somewhere to go, I get in my car and drive. It's not like I get in my car and drive for no reason. Gas prices may have gone down, but I'm not about to burn gas like it's free or something. And neither does anyone else.]
"...We know that the risks are incalculable and, increasingly, we understand that the solutions are affordable." [Yes. Very affordable. For example, the Kyoto Protocol is super cheap. For the price of, like, seven Big Macs we could all stave off global warming by using rollerskates and not burning our fossil fuels indiscriminately like we do now. Like yesterday, when I lit up a pile of fossil fuels for literally no reason at all. Just lit it up. Not even for fun. I just walked away...].
[You know what?... I'll just say etc. and you can read the rest of the description. It's a bit of a mess, if read literally, and not much better if read charitably. The next paragraph is just a big old ad hominem and guilt by association thing.]
There are a couple of other new blogs on the list, so go visit the Top 25 political blogs for January, and take a look around.
As always, thanks go to Robert for putting together this fine list every month. It's a lot of work, and we appreciate the job he does.
UPDATE: Here's Werner Patel's Top 25 list. He uses a simple Google search to determine his list. The Shotgun does not appear on it (alas).
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Rob Breakenridge discusses Western Standard article with Gareth Chantler
Rob Breakenridge, who hosts one of my favourite talk radio programs -- The World Tonight with Rob Breakenridge on AM 770 CHQR -- spoke with Gareth Chantler, author of "I am Islamophobic" published here on the Western Standard.
The article requires a great deal of context, and it's provided in the blog post by general manager Kalim Kassam.
Chantler wanted the publication to result in a broader discussion, and we're beginning to see some of it. The comment section of the blog post is buzzing with discussion, and, of course, Breakenridge spent some time talking about it on his radio program. Very soon, we will be publishing Omar Abu Hatem's response to Chantler's piece. Omar is a Shotgun blogger here, but he's also an orthodox Sunni Muslim, and a classical liberal.
You can listen to the Breakenridge's interview with Chantler by clicking here.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
WS Poll: Western Canadians should explore the idea of forming their own country
In August of 2005, the Western Standard commissioned a poll to see how Western Canadians felt about the possibility of separating from Canada.
A stunning 35.6 per cent of Western Canadian respondents agreed when asked "Western Canadians should begin to explore the idea of forming their own country." (32.1 in BC, 43 in Alberta, 33.6 in Saskatchewan, and 28.8 in Manitoba).
Given recent Bloc-NDP-Liberal coalition government developments, we thought we'd ask the same question via an online poll.
If you would like to embed this poll on your blog or website, please follow the simple instructions found here.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Shotgun: Number one political blog in Canada (again)
Shotgun blogger Robert Jago, who also blogs at A dime a dozen political blog, has crunched the numbers for December's Top 25 political blogs list. And we've shot back up to number one, after sitting at number four in the month of November (we were number one in October as well).
Jago uses a combination of Google Page Rank and Alexa rankings to construct his list. Our blog is a PR6 blog, and receives an average of roughly 4,000+ page views per day, according to our Typepad statistics.
It's kind of nice to reflect on our more recent history, and it's very rewarding to see a steady climb in terms of readership, numbers, and support. Sometimes we like to think that we're filling a niche in Canada's news marketplace, which is desperately in need of a news outlet that focuses on the pro-individual liberty news in Canada and abroad, and covers the issues from a libertarian/conservative perspective.
Writes Jago, tongue-in-cheek:
"The Western Standard is number one this month (December, 08). At least it got more traffic and respect than any other blog in the past 30 days. That said it is true that if you add up the traffic and inbound links from Canadian Cynic, Scott’s Diatribes, and Buckdog into a… ‘coalition’, if you will, they easily outnumber what the Standard got. So what I’m saying is that Canada’s real first choice is Werner Patels. Congrats Werner."
Thanks for the work, Jago. We here at The Standard wait with bated breath for the Top 25 list each month, and we're thrilled when we're in the Top 10.
Lock and load. And keep your powder dry.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Marc Emery: Creeping jackboots part two
Matthew Johnston, publisher of the Western Standard, has made it clear that, at least until the end of February, he's a "single issue non-voter." That single issue is preventing the extradition of our mutual friend, libertarian publisher and Western Standard columnist Marc Emery. I'm happy to be on-side with this single-minded activist pursuit.
Over the next several months, Matthew, myself, and the more liberty-minded members of the Western Standard community will be agitating for a political resolution to the threat of extradition being faced by Emery. If there is a positive spin that can be put on this NDP-Bloc-Liberal coalition, it really is the fact that preventing the unjust, shameful, and shocking extradition of Emery is made a little bit more likely.
But while we're focusing on Emery's personal travails, Emery isn't sitting idly by and lamenting his condition. He's steeled himself to the possibility of extradition, and he's agreed, as all civilly disobedient peaceful protesters do, to go to the U.S. and face the possibility of life in prison should Canada's government decide to send him south for the "crime" of selling marijuana seeds. Even so, he's also busy writing a great deal about the slow and steady growth of the anti-marijuana industry in Canada, and why the attempt to obliterate that culture is both ominous in itself, and something the rest of us should resist, whether or not we smoke pot, care to, or even like it.
In part two of Emery's three-part series entitled "Creeping Jackboots," Emery sheds light on the use of seizure and confiscation laws that are being used more and more often in Canada to impoverish and humiliate a significant number of our fellow Canadians.
The use of these laws is, occasionally, so absurd and outlandish, that it really does deserve to be called jackbooted thuggery. Take the most recent example that Emery sent my way. The short story is that a black man's X-Box was "confiscated" (read: stolen) because his car smelled of pot. The longer version you can watch here via CNN:
Here's an excerpt from Emery's column:
Civil forfeiture laws were instituted in Canada under pressure from United States drug war fanatics who insisted Canada was a supplier of illegal drugs to the U.S. In the U.S., forfeiture laws frequently pay the salaries of law enforcement, and keep police departments solvent. Couples have committed suicide over losing their homes to forfeiture; others have decided to go out with guns blazing (Rainbow Farm in Michigan). U.S. police have shot people dead in raids aimed solely at seizing homes and property because of marijuana. Seizing the homes and property of the marijuana culture has become a multi-billion dollar industry complete with its own resale catalogues and auction network.
Civil forfeiture creates a criminal mentality in police. There are cases where police who need power tools or a TV have seized them from victims’ homes during raids. In BC, there is a report of Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers taking Robert Bateman paintings off the wall of a home they had raided. In New Brunswick, RCMP have seized microwaves from homes and called movers to take out all the household furniture. As the economy worsens, seizures allow police, politicians and their government agencies to continue enriching themselves and increase their budgets, firepower and manpower.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Filibuster: Time for another transfusion
From the artist:
The ginormous American banking conglomerate Citigroup became the latest failing corporation to receive a massive financial bailout from US taxpayers this week, as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson approved a plan to inject $20 billion into the struggling firm.
This comes in addition to the billions Paulson has already used to bailout the giant insurance group AIG and nationalize mortgage firms Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac, and comes in anticipation of a huge bailout of the “big three” American automakers. And I’m sure there’s more where that came from.
Now I realize the American treasury is incomprehensibly enormous, but isn’t there some finite limit on how much money the government can spend on all these bailouts? Politicians of both parties have yet to give a good answer on what existing government programs are going to have to be cut in the aftermath of all this.
Credit: J.J. McCullough
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Marc Emery: Creeping Jackboots
In his latest column for the Western Standard, entitled "Creeping Jackboots," Marc "Prince of Pot" Emery sounds the alarm bells over a changing legal climate that permits the fire department and electricity cops to search your home without a warrant.
But an Emery column wouldn't be complete without a passionate defense of the marijuana culture, as well as those who choose to smoke pot. As poll after poll has consistently shown, Canadians endorse, at a minimum, a detente over the war on marijuana.
It’s impossible to remain a civilized nation when the government labels 60 per cent of Canada’s people as “heretics”. When the people and their critical thinking are the problem, despotism is just around the corner. Polls since 2004 have shown each year a majority of Canadians want marijuana legalized, from 53 per cent to 62 per cent, and gaining each year.
Still, the real point of the column is the changes in the legal system. Here's a longer excerpt:
...a new criminal law system has been established by stealth, designed to replace the existing uncooperative and ‘stupid’ court system. Search warrants, fair trials, rules of evidence, disclosure, judges and juries have all been eliminated. In their place is this omnipotent all-powerful cabal of vested interests whose pay-cheques are more and more dependent on marijuana prohibition.
As the Langley symposium showed, these bureaucratic inquisitors currently have the right to invade your home anytime they want and as often as they want, treat you in a rude and abusive manner without consequence, steal your belongings (at least one theft investigation has been admitted to), shut off your power on a whim, search your home, fine you into financial ruin, evict you, and publicize it all forever.
This new legal system is being used to persecute Canadians who grow marijuana, a plant that two out of three Canadians insist should be legal. A suspected murderer, rapist, or thief has more rights than people suspected of growing a single marijuana plant in the privacy of their own residence.
You can read the rest here.
Emery conducted a remarkable interview with former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Cellerino Castillo, who uncovered the Oliver North Arms-For-Drugs DEA-CIA involvement in Central America. The YouTube video of that two part interview is below the fold.
Vote Omar for grand poobah of the blogosphere!
Yesterday, the Shotgun's newest blogger Omar formally introduced himself. He attracted the attention of the editors because of his blog Abu Hatem, one of the brightest spots in the traditional conservative blogosphere with a unique perspective: one firmly grounded in the traditions of Islamic natural law and American constitutionalism; I've been a longtime reader and sometimes correspondent and I'm so pleased to welcome him here.
Now Omar has been nominated for a $10,000 College Scholarship for his blogging and he needs votes to win. He's behind in the early voting, but the polls don't close until next Monday and I think The Shotgun readers can help push him over the edge. Go help out a friend of liberty in Canada by voting here for 'Omar'.
Filibuster: Kid in a candy store
From the cartoonist:
President Obama will have very little to curb his political appetite once he takes office. For the first time in over a decade, the Democrats will control not only the White House, but both branches of the U.S. Congress as well.
Obama has already laid out a few of his first immediate priorities -- reverse the federal ban on stem cell research, implement the SCHIP plan for subsidized childrens’ healthcare, lift limitations on foreign aid to oversees abortion programs, and reintroduce new limits on oil exploration in certain areas of the American coasts and wilderness.
And from there, who knows.
Credit: J.J. McCullough
Friday, November 07, 2008
Filibuster: Obama wins (reality bites)
The cartoonist writes:
Viewing Obama’s victory last night, and all the emotion that followed, filled me with a sort of uncomfortable despair. How wonderful it is to see so many people once again proud of America, their government, and president. And have such optimism and hope for the future. But none of this can last. Obama is but a politician, and all politicians inevitably disappoint.
A big let-down is on the horizon, and I fear the crisis of morale that will accompany the revelation that President Obama is not the saviour many imagine, but rather a flawed, pragmatic elected official with the most difficult job in the world.
Credit: J.J. McCullough
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Canada's top 25 political blogs: Shotgun at #4
Robert Jago, who blogs here at the Shotgun as well as on his own blog, has put together the Top 25 list for the month of November. Alas, we have dropped from our top spot to number four this month.
That's a bit of a shame. We really enjoyed being the number one political blog in Canada. For a month.
There was a bit of controversy last month because Michael Geist was not included (his inclusion would have put us at number two). He's included in this month's list. Mark Steyn, meanwhile, is back to blogging full-time, so his traffic numbers are up again. Meanwhile, our dogged battle with Small Dead Animals continues, and Kate & co. managed to beat us this month, but just barely.
All things considered, fourth place is a good place, and we're happy about it. Thanks for visiting our blog, for participating, and for sharing our blog posts on your blogs, websites, or through your email lists.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Ralph Nader: Why are you ignoring me?
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.
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.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
A Powell-ful endorsement
Credit: J.J. McCullough
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Filibuster: Groundhog Day
Credit: J.J. McCullough
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Filibuster: Sneeze fallout
Why isn't J.J. McCullough being featured in newspapers across the country? His cartoons are incredible. We're lucky to count him as the Western Standard's cartoonist. If you want to publish J.J.'s cartoons, visit his website and shoot him an email. Tell him the Western Standard sent you.
I think it's time this young man got a lot more credit and publicity for his outstanding cartoons.
Here's his latest:
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
The Shotgun is volcanic: Number one political blog in Canada
Robert Jago, who maintains the 'Dime a Dozen' blog--and is, as of yesterday, a new blogger here at The Shotgun--has posted the results for the Top 25 political blogs in Canada for the month of October.
Building a bit of suspense: The Shotgun entered the charts in July, placing 13th. In August, we climbed to the number nine spot. September saw another rise to the number six spot.
While our traffic over the past two months has been competitive with any of the other Top 25 blogs (including those higher up on the list), we were hampered by a Google Page Rank of 5/10 (the most heavily-weighted measure on Jago's list). All of the blogs above us had a Page Rank of 6/10, even if some of them had less traffic than us.
That changed in September. Two weeks or so ago, we suddenly moved up in Google's eyes, and our page rank went from 5/10 to the better 6/10 page ranking.
So where did we end up on this month's Top 25 Canadian political blogs? We soared all the way to the number one spot!
The Shotgun blog: Canada's number one political blog.
That has a nice ring to it, and we're pretty thrilled about the results. Mostly, we're thrilled that you keep coming back, participate in a sometimes-heated (okay, truth be told, it's almost always heated, and we're subject to plenty of criticism from our readers) but always interesting comment section, sign up to our RSS feed, follow us on twitter, put us in your Google Reader, sign up for our mailing list, and otherwise get your hands dirty helping us keep our powder dry.
We're trying to figure out exactly why our blog has risen so high so quickly. To be sure, Jago's decision to exclude Michael Geist's popular blog--because it is a one-issue blog--has a lot to do with it. Geist is untouchable. But we would have still landed in the number two spot this month if he was still included. Mark Steyn did go on a long hiatus, and maybe that's why we surpassed him (we'll see next month, since he's back to blogging on a regular basis). Ezra Levant has also taken a break from blogging to volunteer in the Conservative war room.
But even with all of those caveats, something appears to be pretty clear to us: Lots of Canadians want a blog that is consistently pro-liberty, without being partisan. Sure, we get accused of being partisan, but that's only by people who don't read our blog on a regular basis. I have to chuckle to myself when some blogger accuses us of being in the tank for the Conservative Party, or being a mouth piece for it. But you wouldn't understand unless you keep coming back. And you should.
A blog that has a pro-liberty bias. Consistently. A blog that covers, without hesitation, the entire pro-freedom movement. Maybe that's what the Canadian blogosphere has been missing.
Reload. And keep your powder dry.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Filibuster: Speed dating for world leaders
Credit: J.J. McCullough
Monday, September 29, 2008
Pierre Lemieux: Crucial battle lost
"Your papers, please!" We hear this line or something like it at the border. In less free societies, government agents can make this demand at almost any time, with dire penalties for those unable or unwilling to offer up the required documentation.
Is our society moving in that direction? Pierre Lemieux thinks we might be. For example, the UK has unveiled a new national ID card for foreign nationals. Some think this is the first step toward requiring citizens to also carry some sort of standard identification card. In Canada, Bill C-31 requires people to bring government issued photo ID with them to the voting booth.
Thus, next time you vote, you may hear "Your papers, please!" And only those who have government-issued photo ID -- like a driver's license -- will be allowed to cast their ballots.
In his column this week, Lemieux examines some of the arguments that have been offered in support of national identification cards and relates programs. What these arguments miss, he claims, is the most powerful reason to resist a national ID card:
Just think of what the state is unable to do when it cannot rapidly and reliably identify peaceful individuals. Like a (diminishing) host of procedural and substantive restraints on the state, the absence of official ID papers increases the cost of enforcing laws that delve into people’s private affairs and invade private property. Thus, without official ID papers, such laws are less likely to be adopted. We should know because we lived in a free society a few decades ago.
We don't usually think that making it more expensive for the government to enforce the law is a good thing. Typically, the more efficient some process is, the better.
When it comes to the enforcement of the law, however, Lemieux may have a point. After all, one argument in favor of the individual right to bear arms (as enshrined in the Second Amendment to the American Constitution) is simply that tyranny becomes more costly to the tyrant when his potential subjects are armed.
Contra a certain left-wing straw-person, we don't even have to imagine a citizenry so well armed that it can defeat the government in battle. Rather, an armed citizenry can make tyranny so expensive to enforce -- think of government agents gunned down at every turn by citizens-turned-snipers -- that would-be tyrants have to rethink their plans.
In contrast, a national photo identification system, combined with modern biometric technology, makes it easier for tyrants to enforce most any law their minds might devise. Want to keep track of people's movements? As apartheid South Africa discovered, it's easy when everyone has to carry an ID card linked to a national database. Want to know what your citizens are spending money on? Again, it's easy when everyone has to present a national ID card before opening a bank account.
Want to know which of your citizens visit the Western Standard website a little too often? Make them present their ID card before getting Internet access.
If Lemieux's argument has a flaw, it's that it's already pretty easy for the government to know most of the things about its citizens we just discussed. A national ID card might make things a little worse, but not by much.
More excerpts from Lemieux's column are below the fold.
The argument for official ID papers is that they facilitate law enforcement, which is why conservatives are all excited. Any realistic appraisal of the world around us shows that this argument is exactly upside down: it actually runs against ID papers. For which law enforcement are we talking about? Laws against murder and theft were enforced long before official ID papers appeared. And after the state had introduced them, sophisticated criminals and terrorists obtained or falsified them. Nearly all the 9/11 terrorists had proper ID.
The crucial battle against official ID papers has, I fear, been lost. A formal ID card is being introduced in the U.K. In the U.S., the federal government is standardizing state drivers’ licences and transforming them into a de facto national ID card; the Canadian government is slavishly imitating this fraud.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Chris Reid: Too conservative for Tories, just right for the Western Standard
Chris Reid, former Conservative candidate in Toronto Centre, was "dumped" by the Conservative Party after his pro-concealed carry gun views, and other meat-and-potatoes small government views became public.
Are those the kinds of views the Western Standard would shy away from? Not even close. We've invited Chris to blog at the Shotgun blog--Canada's premier blog for the pro-liberty, small government, free speecher, pro-gun rights, get-the-government-the-hell-out-of-the-way, community--and he's accepted.
"I would be honoured to blog for the Western Standard," said Chris. And we'd be honoured to have you.
What can you expect from Chris? Here's just a sampling of two of his most recent blog posts:
"Ah yes, what an incredible few days it has been. The saying is true, 24 hours is a lifetime in politics. One second you're shaking hands with the Prime Minister and on the blackberries of the campaign staff, the next day you can't get called back. Why? For articulating conservative principles. Which I will continue to promote.
This is where political correctness has gotten in this country - a Conservative Party that is afraid to proudly be conservative, and a media that can't be bothered to analyze anything. The media is simply focused on the "gaffe" this caused the campaign, with no analysis of what I actually said. So don't worry liberals, there is no hidden agenda to the Conservative Party, because it has sold its soul to the MSM, you can freely vote Conservative and still have your ever-expanding nanny state!
So thank you to the Liberal bloggers for liberating me to be able to express my political thoughts. I could never have gotten this attention without you. And thank you to the outpouring of online support from people I have never even met, from the Western Standard, to conservative bloggers. Plus not to mention a great 580CFRA poll, I wager 64.9% would have also been the percentage of votes I would have gotten in Toronto Centre if I was still the candidate!"
And from yesterday:
"Was on AM640 Talk Radio this morning with John Oakley. We had a great discussion about what transpired over the weekend. We discussed why handgun bans don't work, the horrible problem of identity politics and political correctness in our system, and Human Rights Commissions and Hate Speech Laws about how they suppress freedom of expression, and free speech. I'm just waiting for my call to be hauled before these Kangaroo Courts after my postings.
I see Andrew Coyne was right on the money in his analysis of the election campaign with regard to the Mainstream Media. Let's see, so far the most substantive issues in this campaign have been a puffin, reporters wanting to know what kind of vegetable the Prime Minister could be, and SHOCK that candidates had opinions and a life previous to becoming a candidate. I dunno, I thought maybe elections might actually talk about foreign policy? High Gas Prices? Third world living conditions of natives due to big government control? Maybe the suppression of free speech at the hands of Human Rights Commissions? Oh right, I forgot we are supposed to walk on egg shells and avoid real discussion."
Welcome aboard, Chris. Make yourself at home.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Filibuster: Get your buttons!
Our cartoonist, J.J. McCullough, has put together some great buttons:
One set of three buttons is $5, while all nine will cost you $12. Check out J.J.'s store here, and buy some nice buttons.
"For set one we have the Conservatives, with Prime Minister Harper, a bag of money, and a sinister hidden agenda to ruin Canada.
For set two we have the Liberals, with a pooping puffin, Stephane Dion, and Trudeau's rose, which I suppose can also double as the red rose of socialism.
For set three we have the NDP, with the well-dressed fist of protest, anti-Americanism, and Jack Layton."
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Marc Emery: This is your government on drugs
Western Standard columnist and "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery, who is facing extradition to the United States for selling marijuana seeds to Americans over the internet, was deeply involved in today's decision by Dana Larsen to resign as an NDP candidate in a West Vancouver riding. Emery doesn't think it's a "resignation" at all. He thinks Larsen was "sacked."
He says so in his latest piece exclusively for the Western Standard. Entitled "This is your government on drugs," Emery eviscerates politicians for their hypocrisy: Just about all of them, he argues, either have smoked pot, done other drugs, or are drunks.
He calls them out by name: "Let us remember," writes Emery, "that premiers Mike Harris, Ralph Klein, Glen Clark all smoked pot in university. Prime Ministers Trudeau and Campbell smoked pot in university and later (Kim Campbell, despite being the Justice Minister in the Mulroney cabinet, said she believed her pot use was "legal"). PQ leader Andre Boisclair snorted cocaine for years, including as an MLA.
I have more revelations of Members of Parliament, leaders of established parties in Ottawa now, who smoked pot while in office. I know MPs whose wives have smoked pot for medical reasons and otherwise. Young Mr. Trudeau, who is running for office in Quebec today, smoked pot for years, sometimes with me. The current Premier of Yukon, Dennis Fenti, has several convictions for selling heroin in the 70s!"
The NDP has a bit of a double-standard too, since, as Emery points out, Ontario NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo--recently elected in a by-election in 2007--admitted to smuggling LSD and other drugs in Bibles. Here's a video of DiNovo admitting it:
In spite of this, Dana Larsen, not Harris, Klein, DiNovo, or P. E. Trudeau, got the hook. And Justin Trudeau probably won't have to face any kind of questioning for smoking pot with Emery on several occasions (Emery tells me, over the phone, that he was with Trudeau once in front of journalists, when the journalists asked Trudeau to smoke a joint for the cameras. Emery handed him a joint, and walked away to spare Trudeau the scandal of being photographed with the Prince of Pot.)
Emery ends with a flourish, "Everyone takes drugs, illegal and otherwise. That is why the drug war is anti-human, and morally indefensible. Prohibition must be repealed because it creates property crime, gangs, prostitution. Prohibition punishes people for addictions or curiosity. Prohibition makes lucrative profits possible that lure thousands of teenagers into the illegal drug market every month.
Prohibition is the evil, and these shameful politics only make the terrible effects of prohibition more lasting and permanent."
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Paul McKeever: Reason vs. "self-ownership"
Put differently (and in a way that German philosopher Immanuel Kant would approve of): How can the subject that owns, and the object owned, be the same thing? Seems a bit mysterious, don't you think?
Paul McKeever, a lawyer and leader of the Freedom Party of Canada, thinks there is something magical and, possibly, mystical about the concept of self-ownership. In his guest column, entitled "Reason vs. self-ownership," McKeever argues that upholding the concept of self-ownership requires us to, either consciously or subconsciously, to believe in mind-body dualism--the view that the mind and the body are two distinct things.
More than that, McKeever charges those libertarians and conservatives who believe that self-ownership somehow supports individual liberty with irrationality. In order to defend liberty, we need a rational philosophy, he argues, centred around reason, not on self-ownership, which counts as a "floating abstraction" (that's Ayn Rand's colourful addition to the philosophical lexicon).
"In practice, most succinctly, “self-ownership” is a concept used by conservatives and libertarians who are afraid of being divisive on the issues that are most fundamentally at the base of freedom--the justification of freedom: metaphysical beliefs, epistemological beliefs, and ethical beliefs. They want to side-track all of those aspects of philosophy. All of the under-pinning of political philosophy they want to shunt to the side, and instead replace them with these floating abstractions like “self-ownership” (a concept actually borrowed not even from politics but from law: something subsequent to political philosophy). All in an effort not to have to deal with, or to try to deny, or to try to pretend, that reality, reason and ethics have no important role--are not indispensable--in justifying freedom."
McKeever has also put together this video, which summarizes his views in "Reason vs. self-ownership":
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Filibuster: Election reading
Credit: J. J. McCullough
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
We're on twitter too
We still haven't really sunk our teeth into it, but we're on Twitter (like everyone in the world, or so I'm told).
Twitter let's you keep up with the latest blog posts and things via a nifty application. You can make it work on your phone, and in some other places, but don't ask me details. I have no idea. All I know is that as soon as we hooked it up via twitterfeed, we started popping up on Stephen Taylor's new project govtweets.ca.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Paul McKeever: John Obama and Barack McCain: Two very different men
Paul McKeever, an objectivist, and leader of the Freedom Party, has put some philosophical thought into the underlying philosophies of both John McCain and Barack Obama in his latest opinion piece here on the Western Standard.
In his latest, entitled "John Obama and Barack McCain: Two very different men," McKeever tries to analyze the metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, and political views of the two candidates. The point is to see what, if anything, is really different between these two candidates. Since policies just are the result of our underlying beliefs, this kind of analysis is worth doing.
McKeever's analysis reveals, ahem, the following "stark" differences:
On metaphysics: "Whereas Senator McCain closed with the words: "Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America," Senator Obama took the diametrically opposed position on the facts of reality with his contra McCainian use of periods instead of commas: "Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America."
On epistemology: "For McCain, we should have faith in others’ reason, and reasons for
faith in God. In short: we should have faith in the reasons for having
faith in God. Shorter still: we should have faith, but reason is
"Obama did not use the word “faith” even once. Taking the polar opposite view to McCain, he said “Let us keep that promise, that American promise, and in the words of scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.” His reference was to Hebrews 10:23: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful”. So, for Obama, one does not need faith: one only needs hope, because we can just rely on Jesus to have enough faith for everyone."
On ethics: "The difference is astounding. Whereas McCain says it’s right to sacrifice of oneself, Obama says it is right to move where you will be kept by others."
On politics: "The difference is clear: McCain believes you have a right to a tax-funded education, whereas Obama’s promise of a tax-funded education is not founded upon rights. More succinctly: McCain asserts that you have a right to other peoples’ money, whereas Obama regards other peoples’ money as something that the government can give to you if it chooses to do so."
You can read the whole opinion piece here.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Filibuster: Sarah, John & Gustav
(Yeah, I know it's a bit old. Still, it's a great cartoon).
Filibuster: The Dauphin's Tutor
Monday, September 01, 2008
The Shotgun is on fire: Number six political blog in Canada
Lock and load: Robert Jago, who blogs at A Dime a Dozen political blog, has released the Top 25 political blogs for the month of September, and the Shotgun continues its upward climb by placing in the number six spot.
This continues a steady upward climb for our blog. In July, we entered the charts at number 13. In August, we entered the top 10 by placing in the number nine spot. This month, we have edged ahead of blogs like Ezra Levant's and Five Feet of Fury by moving into the number six spot.
While our Alexa traffic rankings are the best on the list (we're 126,425 on Alexa, followed by Small Dead Animals at 136,946, and Five Feet of Fury at 154,177), we continue to have a Google Page Rank of 5, the heavier-weighted measure on Jago's list (Google keeps their page rankings information a company secret).
We're grateful to Robert for keeping up this informative and fun list, and hope to stay in the Top 10 for many months to come.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Levant gets an apology from Fast Forward Weekly
Fast Forward Weekly issued an apology to Ezra Levant and the “Western Standard community” for publishing a letter-to-the-editor in 2007 that claimed, among other things, that Levant misused company funds to travel.
In an unsigned letter, Fast Forward Weekly wrote “In particular, we recognize that as a publisher Mr. Levant would have gone to all efforts to promote and improve the Western Standard, locally, nationally and internationally, including ensuring that any use of company funds was appropriate. Any suggestion to the contrary was based on the opinion of the author of the letter and Fast Forward Weekly does not share those views.”
The offending letter was written by a former employee of the Western Standard after the Western Standard announced that it was shutting down its print edition in October 2007. The former employee has refused to apologize for the letter and the defamation matter is now headed for court.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Filibuster: Putin's Friend
Monday, August 11, 2008
Lemieux: Random health services
Let's say you and nine others are patients of Dr. X, an M.D. overwhelmed with work. Since doctors aren't allowed to make as much money as they want, there are few doctors servicing the same area as Dr. X.
In fact, let's suppose he's the only one.
Dr. X isn't a mean person, but he's only human, and he can't work 24 hours a day. Thus, he puts the names of you and the nine other patients in a big hat, and starts drawing names. Unfortunately, the first one is yours. Too bad; now you'll have to find another doctor. Also too bad, but there's this lump you really wanted Dr. X to take a look at -- might be cancer, might not, and surely you'll be able to find another doctor soon, right...?
But the hat has spoken!
Sound bizarre and unfair? It's happening right now across Canada, as the National Post reports. In northern Ontario, Dr. Ken Runciman resorted to his version of the "sorting hat" to decide which of his patients had to be let go. Says Dr. Runciman:
"It was just my way of trying to minimize the bias ... rather than going through the list and saying 'I don't like you, and I don't like you,' " said Dr. Runciman. "It wasn't something that I wanted to do."
You can't really blame Dr. Runciman for restricting the flow of patients into his waiting room; after all, according to the NP, he's already working 11 hour days.
In this week's column, Pierre Lemieux examines the fallacy at the root of Canada's health care system: the idea that you can reduce the price the user of a good pays to zero, without having to resort to rationing or lotteries in order to determine who gets to have access to that good.
These days in Canada, health care seems to be in short supply. But since the users of health care (qua users, not taxpayers) don't have to pay for the use of the good, demand for it has far outstripped supply -- as it would even if there were a dozen Dr. Runcimans. Thus, the need to ration the good, in one way or another.
Typically, as Lemieux points out, rationing occurs through the health care bureaucracy and its odious waiting lists. These waiting lists have claimed real victims: people like Janice Fraser, for example. In Chaoulli v. Quebec, three Canadian Supreme Court judges found that Quebec's waiting lists were so dangerous they violated the Charter's guarantee of security of the person.
Critics will claim that allocation of health care through the market is just as arbitrary as waiting lists and lotteries. But this is not clearly so. Janice Fraser's friends and family wanted -- needed -- to gather enough money together to pay for her care. This would have been a hardship for them, to be sure, as life-saving expenses often are. However, under Canadian law, they were forbidden from spending their own money on the care of a loved one. How arbitrary is that? In order to secure the integrity of the system's precious bureaucracy, a family was prohibited from taking care of one of its own in immense need.
Now that's arbitrary. Lemieux notes that using a lottery to purge a waiting list is even more random, and even more ridiculous. Health care, but only if you're lucky and the hat favors you that day.
Yet, if you're a golden retriever in Canada, you can still get health care if and when you need it.
Excerpts from Lemieux's column are below the fold.
"Queues are a more neutral and less visible way to solve the rationing problem. Let the gatekeeper open the gate one person at a time and let the others wait their turn. In this system, however, prices do find a way to creep back through non-pecuniary costs, like waiting times and investments in connection building or in learning how to cajole gatekeepers. Those individuals whose time has lower opportunity costs (because they are paid less or have less to do in life) will support the wait, while others with higher opportunity costs will build abilities to jump the queue. Those in between won’t get much — until they are dying."
"Moreover, a lottery is not more just than a system based on any other random factors, like good genes or a better environment. We have come back nearly full circle: from natural random factors as they interact with private property rights to random government allocation interacting with bureaucratic and political right holders. We have sacrificed efficiency and liberty in the move."
Friday, August 08, 2008
Filibuster: Messiah Complex
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Grant Brown: The lesser interest principle
If you think about it, isn't it true that the person who cares less in a relationship has more power and control over the relationship?
That sounds right to me. In friendship, business, and romantic relationships, it is almost always the person who has a lesser interest in the relationship that holds all the trump cards. Grant Brown calls this the "lesser interest principle."
In Canada's family law system, women seem to have all the benefits, with hardly any of the burdens. Who gets custody of the kids? She does. Who gets alimony? She does. Who is liable to have their reputation destroyed? He is. Men and women don't enter divorce and family courts on an equal footing: Men walk in presumed guilty, having to prove their innocence, and women walk in presumed to have suffered much.
This legal fact comes awfully close to guaranteeing that the woman has the lesser interest. She's not at risk of losing everything that matters to her when it's time to step in front of a judge. He is.
Or so argues Dr. Grant Brown in his latest column for the Western Standard entitled "The lesser interest principle". Here's a choice excerpt, helping to prove his point:
"Even men who do nothing legally, morally, or prudentially wrong stand to lose everything upon separation: custody of their children, possession of their homes, and a large chunk of their incomes. The law is set up to allow women to continue on with the children after separation as much as possible without breaking their stride. Thus the suicide rate remains constant for women after separation, but increases four- to six-fold for men. Men do--and should--very much fear the legal consequences of divorce for their psychological and financial well-being. Much moreso than women, in most cases." (emphasis added)
Did you catch that? Suicide rates amongst separated women remain constant, while men off themselves at rates four- to six-fold that of their non-separated counterparts. That's not statistical "noise", that's a statistical air horn sounding the alarm that something about separation devastates men more than women.
I doubt it has anything to do with an innate difference between men and women that make men more heartbroken and crestfallen as a result of divorce.
But if you consider the fact that men generally don't get parental rights, that they lose a large amount of their income, that their property gets swiped from them, that their reputation gets sullied, and all of this because of a legal system that demonstrates, time and again, a distinct bias in favour of women, then it's much less surprising that the suicide numbers are so skewed.
Brown's column doesn't just address this, it also makes the case that, in spite of the apparent benefits to women, the current legal status quo is bad for them as well.
The column is well worth a read. You can read it in its entirety here.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Reaction around the blogosphere to dismissed complaint
Terrence: Further to your post about the HRC complaint being dismissed against Ezra, I thought I'd take a look around the blogosphere to see how people are reacting to it.
Here's a bit of a round-up.
Small Dead Animals: Now - Fire. Them. All.
Kate posts the cartoons, and adds a little editorial note for the censors' sake: "(Editor's Note: The above image is reproduced here for the sole purpose of offending. No editorial value or news worthiness is intended. No letters of criticism will be published. Thank you.)" Ha!
"The Human Rights Cabal will not give up this power easily or willingly. The power to strip citizens of their natural rights is the essence of bureaucratic totalitarianism."
Five Feet of Fury: Second muslim complaint against Ezra Levant dismissed
Kathy posts the cartoons. Without editorial comment.
The, uhm, milquetoast:
Daimnation: Complaint dismissed
"I do not support abolishing human-rights commissions per se, but I would at least like them to have the power to dismiss such frivolous complaints with minial inconvenience to the accused. If the Alberta Human Rights Commission doesn't have that power, it should. If it does have that power, it was grossly abused."
Dr. Dawg's Blog: Ezra loses another round.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Shotgun: Top 25 in Canada
This here blog was number 13 last month. This month, we've climbed a bit to the number nine spot. Check out the rest of the list, compiled and maintained by Robert Jago.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Filibuster: Sir Paul in Quebec
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Filibuster: No Smoking, Please?
Resident cartoonist, J.J. McCullough, fires off another missive. This time, he takes aim at the G8 bureaucrats who don't want to cause too much trouble for China and India when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Face-Off: Marc Emery and Gerry Nicholls debate what the best way to get liberty is
What's the best way to fight for liberty?
That's the question Marc Emery, columnist here at the Western Standard, and Gerry Nicholls, blogger here at the Shotgun, e-debated for us. It's a little taste of the debate that they will have in person at the Liberty Summer Seminar this upcoming weekend in Orono, Ontario (you can still register and attend). You can read the Face-Off debate here: "Face-Off: What's the best way to fight for liberty?"
Gerry is a little bit more staid and conservative than Marc is. Gerry thinks we should join advocacy groups, and support the work of think tanks like the Fraser Institute. That's the best way, he thinks, of building and promoting a culture of liberty--expose people to the ideas of liberty, make an intellectual case for liberty, and then push for liberty within the law, urging political, legal, and social change.
Marc disagrees. The best way to get liberty, he tells us, is to break unjust laws in a transparent, non-violent, and public way. Marc thinks this is really the only way we've ever seen success--think of the American Revolution, the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks, and other instances. All of these helped foment social and political change that led to more liberty. And all of them were violations of the law.
And that, says Marc, is the best way to get to liberty.
It's a timely discussion in light of the extradition proceedings against Emery (he faces the extraditioners in February of next year), and the Human Rights Commission hearings against Ezra Levant, Mark Steyn, and Guy Earle (to name just a few).
All of these cases are a result of possible violations of the law. In Marc's case, we know he broke the law, and he freely admits it. In the HRC cases, we're not yet sure if there will be a judgment against any of the people I've mentioned, but we do know that, technically, people like Stephen Boisson, who wrote a letter to the editor critical of homosexuality, have broken the law. And it is possible that Ezra, Mark, and Guy will share Boisson's fate.
But would they have done something different if they had known, in advance, that the law prohibited publishing depictions of the prophet Muhammad (in Ezra's case), or publishing an excerpt from "America Alone" (in Mark's case), or responding to heckling by unleashing a torrent of anti-lesbian commentary (in Guy's case)? Suppose the law was not a vague mystery about "giving offense" and "hurting feelings," but clearly stated that you can't insult lesbians, can't publish editorial cartoons of such-and-such a sort, and can't argue about demographic shifts that threaten western values?
Would we criticize them if they did it anyways? Or would we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them, in open defiance of laws that clearly undermine our freedom of speech, economic freedom, or other liberties? And if Canadians failed to raise a ruckus about the trials and the government's response, would that mean that they were wrong to break the law, or would we be criticizable for failing to stand up for their liberty?
In his rebuttal, Gerry makes it plain that, without a social and cultural foundation of support for liberty--a foundation that advocacy groups and think tanks provide--it would be next-to-impossible to generate the kind of feedback from the public that would lead to greater liberty. Without the work that these groups do, people like Ezra Levant and Marc Emery would be left to defend themselves without public support, and without the kind of clout that might actually generate changes in the law that help protect and preserve, rather than defame and defile, our personal and economic freedoms.
Read the exchange. Then drop a comment and let everyone know where you stand on the issue.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Peter was kind enough to invite me to blog here. I already maintain and contribute to the University of Alberta Faculty of Law Blog, but the opportunity to blog here was quite exciting. I hope to post distinct entries on both blogs, but occasionally I may cross-list a posting.
By the way of background, I am an associate professor of law at the University of Alberta, where I am also the associate dean of graduate studies and the acting associate dean of research in the faculty. Having recently received tenure and recently been saddled with these long titles, my scholarship will now inevitably diminish. That being said, I did manage to produce some work in order to convince my colleagues that I am worthy of staying on here, and you can see my CV and links to some of my papers here.
I look forward to posting and hearing your comments both positive and negative. One thing, I should warn you, that I am prone to is hyperbole and exaggeration. I do this to provoke discussion, and I really do benefit (and many times revise my opinions based on) from comments.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Grant Brown: Women are always victims, even when they're not
Western Standard columnist Grant Brown is a stickler when it comes to impartiality and equal treatment before the law. This week, in "Women are always victims, even when they're not," Brown explores the double standards that came into play in the investigation of a murder-suicide by London Police Service Inspector Kelly Johnson. An excerpt:
"The report notes that the vast preponderance of murder-suicides is perpetrated by men in the context of a separation. Given the “markers” listed by the authors in the case of Kelly Johnson, it should be easy even for Faulkner to see why. Most men who are involuntarily separated from their partners suffer from most of the stressors she faced, and many more significant ones, besides. In addition to the personal rejection, sometimes by a very long-term partner, men also have to deal with being forcibly ejected from their own homes and the consequent loss of contact with their children, the automatic confiscation of a large chunk of their incomes, and sometimes the indignity of an investigation into false allegations of abuse or (worse) child sexual abuse.
In my family-law practice, I saw many male clients who were in far more dire circumstances than Johnson was facing. I was frequently amazed at the resilience and stoicism men show in the face of the unbearable expectations and outrageous injustices that are heaped upon them. Ironically, one stressor the authors specifically note is that Johnson was a woman in a demanding, male-dominated occupation. But the risks and stresses associated with male-dominated occupations affect men just as much as women. The surprising thing isn’t that most murder-suicides are perpetrated by men in the context of a separation; the surprising thing is that even more men do not snap under the burdens placed upon them by social expectations and our adversarial, mother-friendly family courts."
Moin Yahya: Why Conservatives and Liberals are both wrong
Sometimes, I make a slippery slope argument for libertarianism.
It goes like this: Suppose you really want policy x. Policy x can be anything at all--it can be provision of welfare, or warfare against some country. But suppose you really don't want some policy, policy y. Policy y can be anything at all--it can be warfare or welfare or whatever or fish sticks or a mission to Mars.
In order to get x through the government, you need to empower it. You need to give it the authority to collect the revenue for x, and you need to give it the authority to make x a success.
Now couple this point about authority with a few reasonable assumptions about the sorts of incentives that government actors are faced with--a) seek more power, b) get more money, c) get more authority over more stuff.
And you get something like this: To empower the government to act on x, you will increase the probability of the government also doing y. The more willing you are to empower the government to get x, the more likely it will be to also do y.
Given the spillover effects, is it worth it? Or are we better off trying our level best to do x privately, even if it won't have the kind of resources the government could muster, in order to avoid y?
It's at least suggestive. And it's the point of Moin Yahya's guest column entitled, aptly enough, "Why Conservatives and Liberals are both wrong." A juicy excerpt:
"...once Leviathan is created for one end, it is very easy for the beast to continue its quest to dominate all ends of our lives. The mistake both sides of the political spectrum make is assuming that somehow the machinery of oppression will only control those aspects of our lives they they expressly voted for it to interfere in." (Ed's note: Yup.)
Moin Yahya will be speaking on just this topic at this year's Liberty Summer Seminar, by the way. If you want to chat with him about this, or anything else, for that matter, you can register for the Seminar here. It's in Orono, Ontario, and will take place over the July 26, 27 weekend.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Marc Emery: Scary Times
On Thursday, July 10, Vancouver police visited Marc Emery's place at 1350 Commercial Drive where he was planning to put in a new store. According to Emery, they picked up the phone and gave the landlord a buzz, telling the landlord that Emery wasn't going to get a business license, that he sold drugs, and that Emery had an advertisement in the window saying that marijuana is for sale inside. Within 24 hours, Emery's landlord terminated his lease.
This latest bump-in with the law has motivated Emery to pen a lengthy column for our readers at the Western Standard entitled "Risky Times." Not one to shy away from a battle, Emery skewers the Vancouver Police Department and various government agencies both here and in the U.S. for their sometimes-aggressive, and always liberticidal measures against the marijuana community.
"I am Goldstein from George Orwell’s 1984," writes Emery. "The drug war is perpetual war, and I am the mythical rebel recast as all-powerful drug lord that is poisoning the will of the nation, and of course, its children. Meanwhile the state runs amok passing new laws, regulations, requirements that make ordinary life a risky gamble with the prospect of jail, punishment, asset forfeiture, tasering, or any manner of police arrogance or brutality."
It's interesting, as Marc points out, that Vancouver is consistently ranked in the top-ten of best places in the world to live considering the generally laissez-faire attitude authorities tend to take. Marc argues that it is precisely because the authorities are so live-and-let-live that Vancouver, or "Vansterdam"--a play on Vancouver's association with Amsterdam--as many call it, is so highly regarded. A tolerant (and permissive?) culture, he says, is part-and-parcel of Vancouver's appeal, and the reason why Vancouverites are so happy with their city.
Of course, we can debate this.
One way to see if this generalization bears out is to compare all of the cities in the top ten, or to look at, for instance, the U.S. and the rankings of cities there. I don't know much about Plymouth, MN, or Fort Collins, CO, or Naperville, IL, (the top three cities) but their demographic and population details give me the impression that they are probably family-oriented, old-fashioned, small-town sorts of places. San Francisco, a city that screams "Vancouver of the South," doesn't even crack the top 100. Meanwhile, Zurich, Vienna, Geneva, and Auckland (numbers one through five, with Vancouver placing fourth this year) are difficult to rank on a "live-and-let-live" scale (Amsterdam is not on the top-ten list, which would have at least given strong confirmation of the claim).
Still, there's something special about Vancouver. And no one can deny the significance of the marijuana community in that city. As well, no one can deny that Marc Emery really is the fountainhead of that community. To get his take on his treatment at the hands of the various police and government agencies, and why he thinks we live in "scary times," you'll have to read his whole piece.
Emery's extradition hearing, meanwhile, is scheduled for February 9 to the 17th in B.C.'s Supreme Court. It will be interesting to see what the government of Canada decides to do in his case, and we'll be covering it from beginning to end.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Filibuster: Bucket of Talent
Western Standard resident cartoonist, J.J. McCullough, has another gem:
Friday, July 11, 2008
La-la-la-la Liberty Summer Se-mi-nar
You may have noticed a new banner ad here at the Shotgun. There are good reasons for that. The main reason is that this year's Liberty Summer Seminar--hosted by the Institute for Liberal Studies over the July 26, 27 weekend on the property of Hillside Estates B&B in Orono, Ontario (an hour and a half east of Toronto)--is being sponsored by the Western Standard.
But the Western Standard has been a part, formally and informally, of the Liberty Summer Seminar since the founding of the Western Standard. Ezra Levant, former publisher of the WS print edition, has been a speaker at the LSS twice. He wrote about the event in "A retreat to advance freedom," and "Greetings from camp capitalism." Gerry Nicholls, blogger here and senior associate with the ILS, was a speaker at the event, and wrote about it for the Sun in "Free at Last!" Current columnists Pierre Lemieux, Jan Narveson, Grant Brown, and Marc Emery have spoken at the event, and so has former columnist Karen Selick (who hasn't missed an LSS yet).
Meanwhile, here's what our friends Adam Daifallah and Tasha Kheiriddin wrote in Rescuing Canada's Right: Blueprint for a Conservative Revolution about the LSS: "The bonds of friendship forged at events like this one [LSS] can produce a positive association with conservatism. Such events work more effectively than classroom instruction or reading a thousand policy papers ever could."
Check out a little video promo for the event, with Lindy Vopnfjord (who will come and sing again this year) singing the LSS song:
If you come to this year's event, you'll not only meet some of the above, but you'll get a chance to chat with me, Kalim Kassam, and Matthew Johnston about the Western Standard as well.
Line-up after the jump:
Saturday, July 26, 2008
11:00 a.m. – Registration
12:00 p.m. – Lunch
1:00 p.m. – Introduction
01:15 p.m. – Dr. Michael Munger (Chair, Political Science Department, Duke University)
02:15 p.m. – Moin Yahya (Assistant Professor of Law, University of Alberta)
03:15 p.m. – Break
03:30 p.m. – Jason Sorens (Founder of the Free State Project)
04:30 p.m. – Pete Eyre: TBA
05:30 p.m. – Dinner
07:00 p.m. – Larry Reed (Executive Director, Mackinac Center for Public Policy)
09:00 p.m. – Music by Lindy
Sunday, July 27, 2008
09:00 a.m. – Breakfast
10:00 a.m. – Jan Narveson (Professor Emeritus, University of Waterloo)
11:00 a.m. – Break
11:15 p.m. – Film: Mine Your Own Business
12:30 p.m. – Lunch
01:30 p.m. – Closing Panel
02:30 p.m. – Wrap Up
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Ric Dolphin Writes Again
Although loath to use another of those horrible words concocted by the geeks who, sadly, have inherited the world, there seems to be no avoiding it. I now have a "blog" which I shall endeavor to update at least every Monday and which you are
invited to visit at, ricdolphin.com
Be aware that, unlike when I wrote for Western Standard magazine, I am not being censored for language. I am also not specifically writing about politics, although the subject may be broached on occasion. Be assured, however, that I shall never use "blog" as a verb.
Posted by Ric Dolphin on July 9, 2008 in Aboriginal Issues, American History, Books, Canadian Conservative Politics, Canadian History, Canadian Politics, Canadian Provincial Politics, Crime, Current Affairs, Film, Humour, International Affairs, International Politics, Media, Military, Municipal Politics, Religion, Science, Television, Trade, Travel, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Western Standard, WS Radio, WStv | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Friday, July 04, 2008
Pierre Lemieux: The Idea of America
Americans are busy celebrating the 4th of July today, but do many of them really know what the idea of America was? What were the revolutionaries -- the signers of the Declaration, the men and women who abandoned their old ties to call America home -- doing all of this for? What was that glorious idea?
Pierre Lemieux, our firebrand libertarian columnist, has produced a monograph entitled "The Idea of America," (PDF) published by the Western Standard, to answer this and related questions. His analysis is, in my judgment, accurate and cutting. Once upon a time, Americans (and Canadians) wouldn't even think of the government when presented with a problem.
Once upon a time, no American worth her salt would ever stand for identification papers, gun control, nanny state regulations, and so on. What happened to those Americans? Maybe they lost their grip on the idea of America, and were coddled and pacified by unparalleled wealth and prosperity. Or maybe they were flummoxed by the snake-oil salesman cum politician, insisting that they could get something for nothing, or frightening them with tales of bogeymen under every bed.
"...consider the first decade of the 20th century," writes Lemieux, "[i]n general, anybody could start a business, find investors, and sell his product without any government license and oversight. There was no SEC, no IRS, no FCC, no FDA, no OSHA, no USCIS (formerly INS), no EPA. The absence of regulation did not prevent the development of vibrant capital markets, and New York City was on its way to becoming the top financial place in the world. The right to keep and bear arms, so typically American in the 20th century, had survived relatively unscathed. There was no witch-hunt and, in a legal fight between an individual and the government, it is the latter that felt handicapped. Writing in 1910, Lord Acton could confidently say that the American people are “more free than any other the world has seen.” In her celebration of American liberty in the early 20th century, Rose Wilder Lane could exclaim: “That is what Europeans meant when, after a few days in this country, they exclaimed, ‘You are so free here!’.”
Once, maybe, there was America. But what happened to that idea?
"Americans are now caught in the “network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform” that [Alexis de] Tocqueville forecasted. Virtually all activities—even those protected by the Bill of Rights—are regulated in some way, and most often in many ways. Just at the federal level, there are probably 4,000 statutes, although it’s hard to tell the exact number, notes a Wall Street Journal reporter, “because the statutes aren’t listed in one place.” And this does not include the regulations. “We continue to claim that nobody is supposed to ignore the law,” wrote French legal theorist Georges Ripert in 1949, “but those who know it are certainly to be commended.” In 2001, federal prosecutors brought more than 80,000 cases. To this must be added the laws, regulations and prosecutions at the State and local levels. It is stimated that 15 per cent of all Americans have an arrest record. France has come to
Read the monograph. Pass it on. It's the 4th of July, and the idea of America is still worth fighting for.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Question Period: Drew Johnson on Al Gore and his hypocrisy
When the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR) decided to investigate Al Gore's personal electricity use in February of last year, they discovered an inconvenient truth of their own: Gore uses an enormous amount of electricity. How much? According to their presser:
"Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES)."
"The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.
"Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359."
After lots of publicity, Gore dutifully went to work on limiting his electricity consumption by installing all kinds of energy-efficient things. A year later? Gore's use of electricity went up by ten per cent.
The TCPR was not amused. They issued the following terse press release:
"In the year since Al Gore took steps to make his home more energy-efficient, the former Vice President’s home energy use surged more than 10%, according to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research.
“A man’s commitment to his beliefs is best measured by what he does behind the closed doors of his own home,” said Drew Johnson, President of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. “Al Gore is a hypocrite and a fraud when it comes to his commitment to the environment, judging by his home energy consumption.”
"In the past year, Gore’s home burned through 213,210 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, enough to power 232 average American households for a month."
Surprised, I sent Drew Johnson, President of the TCPR a couple of emails to inquire about all of this. Here are the important bits:
Peter Jaworski: Just how did Gore manage to increase his energy use, in spite of taking actions to cut down on his energy use?
Drew Johnson: From looking at him, I'm guessing that the culprit isn't a treadmill or a tanning bed. Perhaps Gore believed that installing solar panels, more energy-efficient windows, and those silly spirally light bulbs gave him a license to keep all the lights on, the refrigerator door open, and the thermostat turned down.
He probably thought the "green" enhancements would offset his increased energy use. But he simply uses too much electricity for a few goofy light bulbs, or even solar panels, to make a dent in his energy consumption.
PJ: Has Gore responded to your work in any way?
DJ: Gore is largely relying on name-calling to address the facts we exposed. He's called me a "global warming denier." That term is beyond offensive, since it compares me to Holocaust deniers. I don't deny that the Earth warms. But it also cools. And humans have almost nothing to do with the natural cycles and trends of the Earth's climate. I'm a proud skeptic of Gore's brand of global warming alarmism.
PJ: Is this just an interesting anecdote (exposing Gore as a hypocrite), or is there something more important lurking behind this?
DJ: The most important thing I've taken from our research about Gore's personal energy consumption is the way he's exploited concern about the environment for his own benefit. To me, that's much more contemptible and appalling than his hypocrisy.
Gore is a modern-day snake oil salesman. Since leaving office in 2001, Gore increased his personal wealth from $2 million to well over $100 million, largely from environmental-related speaking fees and investments in global warming "cures" like carbon credit companies.
He scares the plaid off Don Cherry's blazers by telling us the world will end if we don't take immediate action, and then we buy carbon credits... from him. He's exploiting the environment for money, awards, and recognition. What does it say about the legitimacy of the movement when its leader is nothing more than a con man who's pimping the cause for cash?