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The Shotgun Blog

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

VIDEO: "Britain's Trillion Pound Horror Story"

Stop whatever you're doing and watch this right now.

This charming documentary on the debt was created by Martin Durkin and aired on the UK's Channel 4 earlier this month. It is one big refutation of the Broken Window Fallacy, a crash course in the political economy of Frédéric Bastiat and Henry Hazlitt, and gives the lie to the popular notion that the Cameron-Clegg coalition are actually making reductions in state spending:

(h/t Trevor Loudon)

Posted by Kalim Kassam on November 23, 2010 in Economic freedom, Film, International Affairs, International Politics | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blue Tory anger at David Cameron

The Telegraph is reporting that the ‘right-wing’ section of the British Conservative Party is unhappy with the Liberal Democrat coalition deal. They have a right to be unhappy, not just with the deal but with the election in general.

David Cameron followed what we would call in Canada a Red Tory strategy (they would say Wet Tory in the UK). Basically he presented a moderate front that is suppose to reach out to people that don’t traditionally vote Conservative. Specifically he was interested in gaining seats in Scotland, a region that is full of anti-Tory sentiment to such a great extent that there is legitimate fear that a Tory government could lead to Scottish separation by its very existence.

In the cause of winning Scottish and ‘moderate voters,’ David Cameron reversed classic Conservative positions on Europe, watered down Conservative economic ideas, and blatantly almost rudely distanced himself from Margaret Thatcher. Really it was a pointless exercise. Scottish Labour Party acted like it was running against Lady Thatcher not Mr. Cameron and the Scottish people voted to keep a neo-Thatcher from coming to power, even though Mr. Cameron is not a neo-Thatcher in any sense. At the same time traditional Tories, that would have wanted Mr. Cameron to defend Lady Thatcher’s legacy, were annoyed at the Conservative leader.

The proof is in the pudding. Labour has not been so unpopular in nearly thirty years and yet David Cameron failed to win outright. If it hadn’t been for the unpopularity of Gordon Brown and the tiredness of the Labour government, it is almost certain that David Cameron would have lost.

So the Red Tory strategy fell flat once again and now the Blue Tory (if I can call it that) section of the party has to swallow yet another pill: coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

I posted yesterday that there was some good in the Con-Lib coalition policy agenda. The civil liberty aspects of the deal alone will warm my heart to the new government. Still there are things that have conservatives legitimately irked. The greatest of these is the increase of the capital gains tax, which runs against all conservative economic theory for the last forty years. If David Cameron had tried to raise capital gains tax while holding a majority he would likely have faced a back bencher’s uprising.

Basically Conservative MPs and grassroots are both being told to hang tight for the sake of government. But governing is not the sole cause of a political party; the Conservative Party is more than a mere vehicle for David Cameron to win power. It is also an organization of ideological perspectives with a policy agenda.

Mr. Cameron should keep in mind that there is a limit to how much a leader can ignore that agenda.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on May 13, 2010 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Nigel Farage defeated

Former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, a small government Eurosceptic party, has been solidly defeated. Nigel Farage came in third recieving 17.4% of the vote. It would have been nice to have him to balance the newly elected Green Party member.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on May 7, 2010 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gordon Brown calls supporter bigoted

This is the most entertaining gaffe of the whole campaign:

My favourite part is that the Telegraph is reporting that the woman, a lifetime supporter of the Labour Party, felt that the conversation went well.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on April 28, 2010 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (9)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gordon Brown should be given first chance to govern in a hung Parliament

As a hung Parliament appears more and more likely in the UK election, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party have been a bit shy about saying what sort of deal they will make. The Labour Party has indicated that they are interested in working with the Lib-Dems, but the Lib-Dem leader, Nick Clegg, is not going to reveal his strategy until his hand is dealt. The outcome of the election, popular vote and seat distribution, is still very much up in the air. Really, the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems are wise to refuse to speculate.

One issue that I have with Nick Clegg’s current position on a hung Parliament is his assertion that Gordon Brown should not be allowed an opportunity to make a deal before he is removed from office:

Senior civil servants have made it clear that, in the event of a hung parliament, Mr Brown would remain as Prime Minister, even if he did not have the most seats, and would be given time to try to stitch a deal together. 

The Lib Dem leader said: “It would be preposterous for Gordon Brown to end up like some squatter in No 10 because of some constitutional nicety.”

It is not just a constitutional nicety. Like most of the British unwritten constitutional rules, there is a sound practical reason for giving the current Prime Minister a chance to govern.

Consider what happened in Belgium in 2007. The various political parties could not bridge regional or ideological differences to create a coalition government. The result was that the Belgium state did not have a government for more than a year. Now this may sound awesome to a libertarian, but really what it meant was that civil servants, not elected politicians, were forced to make the policy decisions that could not be put off.

The UK system has a built in method to avoiding this problem. The fact that Mr. Clegg bashes this method reflexively shows a certain shallowness in his political philosophy. Mr. Clegg is making his name by calling for democratic reform, but reform for reform sake is not a good thing. Any reformer must be prepared to acknowledge and defend what is good about an institution as they struggle to change what is bad.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on April 21, 2010 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

UK Conservatives and 'People Power'

The British Conservative Party is talking a good talk. They are claiming that the prime difference between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party is that Labour believes in ‘state power’ and the Tories believe in ‘people power.’ As someone who strongly defends the principles of personal responsibility and individual liberty, I like this kind of language. The question is: does the Conservative manifesto live up to the Tory leader David Cameron’s rhetoric?

Recently the Hayekian influenced Institute for Economic Affairs has said that neither the Conservatives nor the Labour Party have promised to do enough. The IEA is calling for a fundamental change in the way public finances operate to deal with the dire condition of the public debt. The Conservatives and Labour Party are debating how much to nibble while large bites are needed to save the public purse.

So what does that have to do with ‘people power’? It raises the question of what we can expect the government to be able to do and what do we need it to do. Mr. Cameron seems to be suggesting that we don’t need the government for much, because it is we the people that can best run our lives. It is we the people that can best direct us towards prosperity. Yet if this is so, why nibble? Why not take a bite?

The Labour Party response is pretty predictable. According to the Telegraph article that was linked above:

Last night Lord Mandelson, who is running Labour’s election campaign, said: “When the Tories say 'we’re all in this together’, what they really mean is 'you’re on your own’.’’

Which really tells you how much the Labour Party trusts people to live their lives without a civil servant telling you what you need to do. Yet are the Conservatives really that much better? Do they really think that we still need this disastrously large government spending?

As Publius here at the Western Standard recently said:

The difference between David Cameron's Conservatives, and Gordon Brown's Labour, is the speed at which they would drive Britain off the cliff.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on April 14, 2010 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Communist Party of China official reviews Avatar

Translated by the good folks over at Global Voices, Chinese blogger Lian Yue writes a notice as might be produced by a sloganeering CPC official after watching James Cameron's blockbusting Avatar:

1. The first element of any war is human. Learn from the Na’vi, have a winning spirit, and don’t be afraid of any advanced weapons.

2. The Na’vi’s system of hereditary rule proves that democracy is not universally applicable.

3. Na’vi’s collectivism has won over capitalism.

4. Loyalty has to be put in the number place in any appointment of key personnel. Defeat of the human race is due to the irresolute thinking of Jake.

5. The human race’s army has not united resolutely under the leadership of Colonel Miles Quaritch, as a result there is internal struggle. Unity is iron, unity is steel!

6. Dr. Grace Augustine shows the weaknesses of intellectuals, which are not to be trusted.

7. Forced demolition in China is relatively civilized; we haven’t used the army yet.

8. Anyone watching Avatar for the second time will be subject to 20% luxury tax.

9. Increase our effort in research & development. Start Avatar programs in provincial / ministerial levels or above. What we need to emphasize is: useful idealism is materialism.

10. Planet Pandora is an inseparable part of our motherland.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 15, 2010 in Film, International Politics | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

'We can’t go on like this'

Talks like a Thatcherite. Walks like a Red Tory.

The simple, emotional phrase is likely to have been chosen by central office because pollsters heard it on the streets or in focus group sessions, as ordinary people expressed their exasperation with New Labour or their sense that Britain’s finances cannot be allowed to deteriorate further.

However the line was also used repeatedly by Margaret Thatcher, both when she was an Opposition politician and Prime Minister.

She said it in a speech to the Conservative Party conference in 1976, as she called for the country to live within its means.

“We can't go on like this. We are paying ourselves more than the value of what we produce. We are spending more than we earn.”

Posted by Richard Anderson on January 14, 2010 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (29)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Is Iran more republican than America?

Iranians protest the election results

Iranians took to the streets again today to protest Friday's contested election results, while defeated reformist candidate Mirhossein Mousavi continued to level accusations of electoral fraud. Critics of the regime, however, continue to stress that presidential elections are of little consequence since real power in the Islamic Republic is held by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"On the nuclear question, it's very clear that the ultimate decision maker is Ayatollah Khamenei," said Mahsen Milani, an Iranian expert at the University of South Florida, in an interview with Fox News. "The central question of security or war and peace is not in [Ahmadinejad's] domain. It's unambiguously in the domain of the supreme leader."

This is because Iran has a unique quasi-democratic system of government. While the country does hold presidential and parliamentary elections, all of the candidates have to be specifically approved by the Guardian Council. The council is composed of 12 members, six of whom are appointed by the supreme leader, while the other six are nominated by the head of the judicial system of Iran, who is appointed by the supreme leader as well. The supreme leader has many other powers:

According to Iran's Constitution, the Supreme Leader is responsible for the delineation and supervision of "the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran," which means that he sets the tone and direction of Iran's domestic and foreign policies. The Supreme Leader also is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and controls the Islamic Republic's intelligence and security operations; he alone can declare war or peace. He has the power to appoint and dismiss the leaders of the judiciary, the state radio and television networks, and the supreme commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The quasi-democratic nature of Iran's government has led many to question the legitimacy of the system itself. "They try to keep people occupied with this fake political system on the outside while they run a corrupt government in the background, and to entertain this system is to just indulge in their corruption," said Iranian-American Keyvan Mehrabi in an interview with FrontPage Magazine. "Iran is not a democracy. Don't forget that."

Despite the fact that Iran may not be considered a true democracy, it does appear to fit the definition of a republic. The word "republic" is often used to describe a state that is not led by a monarch. Political philosopher Nicolo Machiavelli argued that there are really only two types of states. "All states, all powers, that have held and hold rule over men have been and are either republics or principalities," wrote Machiavelli in The Prince. Yet, the term is often used in political science to describe a system of government similar to the Roman Republic. One that is a combination of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy.

In the Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius, Machiavelli advocated a republican form of government and he uses the Roman Republic as his example of the ideal form of government. Machiavelli admired the Roman style of government for a number of reasons. First, it's what led Rome to become a flourishing empire that withstood the test of time. If un-contained political conflict often results in a change in the state's system of government, then systems that have endured a long time must clearly do a good job of containing said conflict. Secondly, republics are designed to divide power between various groups within society. For example, the Roman Republic divided power between the one, represented by the Consul, the few, represented by the Senate, and the many, represented by the Tribunes and Assemblies.

Similarly, the Iranian constitution shares power between the supreme leader, the aristocracy (represented by the Guardian Council and other appointed bodies), as well as the people (represented by parliament and the president). The American presidential system was also designed in a similar manner with the president, Senate, and House of Representatives representing the centers levels of power respectively. In fact, while the U.S. constitution guarantees "every State in this Union a Republican form of Government," it does not guarantee democracy. Yet, the seventeenth amendment to the U.S. constitution transformed the Senate into an elected body and the distinction between those who reflect the interests of the aristocracy and those who represent the people has become increasingly blurred.

The American system of government makes it difficult for small parties and independents to get elected and a high percentage of seats in congress see very little turnover. In effect, the political elite have become the new aristocracy, leaving one to wonder who's left to defend the interests of the people. Does this make Iran more republican than the U.S.?

Not if the accusations of electoral fraud are true. The supreme leader already has a tremendous amount of control over who is able to run in elections. If he has used his power to determine the outcome of the election as well, then the people are left without representation and the entire system is exposed as a sham.

Posted by Jesse Kline on June 14, 2009 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (9)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Obama attempts to build support in the Islamic world with a speech in Cairo

U.S. President Barack Obama attempted to "seek a new beginning" in the relationship between America and the Islamic world with a speech in Cairo on Thursday. To his credit, the president addressed many of the issues that have divided Muslims and the west, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, America's use of torture tactics, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Obama is a great orator and there was little doubt in my mind that he would deliver a good speech full of high-minded rhetoric. But as the old saying goes, actions speak loader than words. The true test of Obama's plan to reach out to the Muslims will be shown by his Middle East policies and not his words.

Unfortunately, more often than not, Middle East policy is a zero sum game. Iran's nuclear weapons program comes into direct conflict with Obama's naive vision of "a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons." Israel's desire for peace and security conflicts with the desire of Hamas to drive all the Jews into the sea. Likewise, Obama's goal of ending Islamic extremism does not mesh well with bin Laden's desire to wage jihad on America.

Obama did address America's relationship with Israel, an alliance that has made it many enemies in the Islamic world. "America's strong bonds with Israel are well known," said Obama. Will he be able to continue this relationship without further inflaming Muslims?

Resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict is a noble goal and one that should be taken up by any administration. This is an issue, however, which has been on the agenda of many other presidents, all of whom have tried and failed to implement a lasting peace in the region. Is Obama so naive as to believe he will succeed where so many others have failed?

America's relationship with Israel has already been strained by the administration's insistence that Israel halt the development of settlements and adopt a two state solution. Trying to balance America's new relationship with Islam while supporting its traditional allies, such as Israel, is a goal that is unlikely to succeed.

Eventually, Obama will be faced with the geopolitical realities of the situation in the Middle East and will be forced to pick sides. First, he will have to reconcile his goal of "two states where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security" with the fact that a hostile terrorist organization controls the Gaza Strip and is unlikely to live in peace with either Israel or Fatah. More importantly, Obama will eventually have to deal with the situation in Iran.

The Iranian president has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and the Islamic nation is currently pursuing weapons that would make this possible. There is little doubt that Israel will not allow this to happen. If the U.S. is unable to halt the Iranian nuclear weapons program, Israel will be forced to take military action in order to prevent it. It is also in America's national interest to prevent the Iranians from getting the bomb. Israel will ask for American support in such an endeavour and the president will be forced to choose between acting in the best interest of America and its allies and building a stronger relationship with the Islamic world.

It is hard to tell what effect the speech will have at this point in time. Improving the relationship between Islam and the west and bringing peace to the Middle East are great foreign policy goals. However, until such words are backed up by innovative policies, they are nothing more than empty rhetoric.

You can watch the full speech via the player below.

Posted by Jesse Kline on June 4, 2009 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Where fiscal conservatives and libertarians part ways

A textbook example from the news: Today the OSCE criticized the Irish government for a proposed bill that will curtail free speech by reintroducing the crime of ‘blasphemous libel’*.  Why would the Irish be introducing this bill just now?  Because a referendum on the matter is ‘too expensive’:

Last month Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern announced that he would propose a new crime of blasphemous libel in an amendment to the Defamation Bill.

The new section of the Bill will state: “A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000.”

[the OSCE's] Mr Haraszti has written to Mr Ahern and to the Oireachtas committee debating the Bill, calling for it to be passed without the blasphemy provision.

“I am aware that the new article is meant to bring the law into line with a constitutional provision dating from 1937,” said Mr Haraszti.

“Nonetheless, it violates OSCE media freedom commitments and other international standards upholding the right to freely discuss issues of religion.”

He added: “It is clear that the Government’s gesture of passing a new version of the ‘blasphemy article’, even if milder than the dormant old version, might incite new court cases and thereby exercise a chilling effect on freedom of expression.”

Mr Ahern insists he is obliged to take account of the offence of blasphemy, which is provided for in the Constitution.

Article 40.6.1 of the Constitution states that the “publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law”.

A spokesman for the Minister said he had two options, either to amend the Constitution, or amend the law.

The spokesman said Mr Ahern was “bemused” by criticism of his proposed amendment.

“He has to do it because he is the Minister for Justice and he cannot wilfully ignore the Constitution. Unlike the commentariat, the Minister does not have the option of wilfully ignoring the Constitution,” the spokesman said.

“He is the Minister for Justice and he is advised by the Attorney General that he has to have regard to the offence of blasphemy.”

Mr Ahern, he added, felt that in “the current economic environment” it was not appropriate to go to the people seeking to amend an article of the Constitution.

That last bit about the 'current economic environment' - those aren’t empty words from Ahern's spokesman.  The Irish government is doing the right thing, cutting back in a big way (€1.5bn), and raising taxes in an even bigger way (€1.8bn) – the net effect will be something like CAD$1,000 for each man, woman, and child in the Republic.  Rather than digging a hole for future generations, they’re digging out of a hole right now.  Take a read through Irish emergency budget and see.

For libertarians and fiscal conservatives, this is the kind of budget, and the kind of responsible action on the economy that we’re all looking for.  But at the cost of free expression?

Let’s take Ahern at his word – that the government is in such poor shape that it has to go forward right now with banning blasphemy.  Would fiscal conservatives accept this as a worthwhile trade-off?  Would libertarians?  Or is this the precise spot where the two sides part ways?

Posted by Robert Jago on May 19, 2009 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Obama tries to pressure Netanyahu into adopting a two-state solution: is it viable?

The Dome of the Rock seen behind the Western Wall. A key area in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Washington Monday to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama. The key issues on the leader's agenda were how to deal with Iran and its suspected nuclear weapons program and whether or not Netanyahu will endorse Obama's two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

As always, Middle East politics is extremely complex, so it's a good idea to look at some of the different perspectives on the viability of a two-state solution, as well as the other potential solutions that could take its place.

Daniel Doron lays out the case against a two-state solution in Forbes:

The creation of yet another dysfunctional Palestinian Arab state will not only mortally threaten Israel, its irredentist nature will inflame the region. As importantly, it will continue making the personal and communal life of Palestinian Arabs unbearable. Remember what happened in Gaza after Israel vacated it: the wanton destruction of the hot houses Israel left behind to enable the Gazans to make a better living from agriculture; the rule of oppression and mayhem Hamas has instituted in Gaza; the continued impoverishment and immiseration of their hapless citizens. Is this the kind of government America wants extended to the West Bank?

But this will inevitably happen as a result of the premature formation of a Palestinian state. Within a very short time, it will disintegrate and be taken over by the extremist Hamas movement.

As in Gaza, a Hamas West Bank government, an Iranian proxy, will quickly launch missile attacks against Israel. From the West Bank, however, the missiles will not hit a sparsely inhabited Negev but the densely populated heartland of Israel, the greater Tel Aviv metropolitan area. They will hit Israel's only links to the world, Ben Gurion International Airport and the ports of Haifa and Ashdod.

This does not mean that Obama's favoured two-state solution doesn't have its supporters. Shibley Telhami, a professor at the University of Maryland, claims the two-state solution is the only solution:

It is the only realistic alternative since the Israelis will not accept a one-state solution and the Palestinians will not acquiesce in their conditions. The collapse of the two-state option would stress Israeli relations with all its neighbors and test its peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. Indeed, it could lead to another Palestinian Intifada, fuel militancy and have serious ramifications for Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel. The impact would be felt beyond the region, as the Palestinian issue remains the prism through which many Arabs and Muslims view the world.

Likewise, Benny Morris argues that while the two-state solution is a "practical nightmare," a one-state solution is even less likely to succeed:

If Arab expressions in the early years of the 20th century of fear of eventual displacement and expulsion by the Zionists were largely propagandistic, today -- in view of what has happened -- they are very real. And if Jewish fears in the 1930s of Arab intentions to push them "into the sea" -- to destroy the Zionist enterprise and perhaps slaughter the Yishuv -- were, if heartfelt, unrealistic (as it turned out), today they are very real, as are Jewish fears of a nuclear Holocaust at Islamic hands.

These fears and hatreds make a shared binational state, in which each community inevitably would seek to dominate the other, if only to prevent the other's domination of itself, inconceivable.

Meanwhile, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi made the case for a one-state solution in The New York Times:

A just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians is possible, but it lies in the history of the people of this conflicted land, and not in the tired rhetoric of partition and two-state solutions.…

In absolute terms, the two movements must remain in perpetual war or a compromise must be reached. The compromise is one state for all, an “Isratine” that would allow the people in each party to feel that they live in all of the disputed land and they are not deprived of any one part of it.

Of course, being the Middle East, there is no shortage of ideas on how to solve this conflict. The idea of a three-state solution is becoming increasingly popular. Three-state solutions involve either creating separate states for Gaza and the West Bank, or giving the territories back to Egypt and Jordan respectively, as John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, suggests:

Let's start by recognizing that trying to create a Palestinian Authority from the old PLO has failed and that any two-state solution based on the PA is stillborn. Hamas has killed the idea, and even the Holy Land is good for only one resurrection. Instead, we should look to a "three-state" approach, where Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty. Among many anomalies, today's conflict lies within the boundaries of three states nominally at peace. Having the two Arab states re-extend their prior political authority is an authentic way to extend the zone of peace and, more important, build on governments that are providing peace and stability in their own countries. "International observers" or the like cannot come close to what is necessary; we need real states with real security forces.

However, in an op-ed piece in The Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick contends that a three-state solution would only serve to weaken the governments of Egypt and Jordan, while increasing the security threat against Israel. Instead, she believes that a new policy paradigm is needed, one that would see an increase in Israel's control over the territories:

The option of continued and enhanced Israeli control is unattractive to many. But it is the only option that will provide an environment conducive to such a long-term reorganization of Palestinian society that will also safeguard Israel's own security and national well-being.

While it is vital to recognize that the failed two-state solution must be abandoned, it is equally important that it not be replaced with another failed proposition. The best way to move forward is by adopting a stabilization policy that enables Israel to secure itself while providing an opportunity for Palestinians to integrate gradually and peacefully with their Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian neighbors.

Personally, I still think the two-state solution is the most viable long-term solution. However, as I wrote awhile back, I have become quite jaded by the whole process:

I am not so naive as to believe that I can come up with a workable solution to such a complex problem. As the fighting continues in Gaza, the situation in the Middle East is becoming analogous to the Kobayashi Maru, the no-win scenario that Lieutenant Saavik is faced with at the beginning of The Wrath of Khan. Can you really blame me for being so pessimistic about the whole situation?

Posted by Jesse Kline on May 18, 2009 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Newt Gingrich is popping too many preemptive pills

According to this news article, the Newt did not waste any time before rattling his electromagnetic sabres:

Only hours after North Korea launched a rocket, Newt Gingrich was on television saying the United States should have preemptively attacked the nuclear-armed country – with an electromagnetic pulse.

"We do not appreciate the scale of threat that is evolving on the planet," the former House Speaker said on Fox News Sunday. "And North Korea is a totally irresponsible dictatorship run by a person who is clearly out of touch with reality."

Newt's reality-TV style realism aims at the prophetic:

"One morning, just like 9/11, there's gonna be a disaster," the former Georgia congressman said. "And people are going to look around and say 'Gosh, why didn't anyone think of that?' Well I'm telling you, the time to think about it is before the disaster, and not after."

Pressed by Fox host Chris Wallace, Gingrich mentioned a few preemptive possibilities for stopping North Korean: "There are three or four techniques that could have been used, from unconventional forces to standoff capabilities... I'd recommend look[ing] at electromagnetic pulse...which changes every equation about how risky these weapons are."

An electromagnetic pulse is a short, high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy which can damage electronic and electrical equipment.

Now there's an idea for the sequel to Team America -- Newt and Kim Jong Ill battle it out in a Stars-Wars-like scene with electromagnetic pulses, neon swords, and cowboy boots. Who says satire isn't another means of telling the truth?

Posted by Alina on April 7, 2009 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Won't somebody think of the children

I don't want to be 'that guy', but it needs saying: "Won't somebody think of the children?"

Here's what I'm getting at -- around the world, fiscal conservatives are standing up and opposing big-government stimulus packages in the name of the next generation.

Down in Australia, where they are in a similar position to Canada economically, a big spending government is being checked by Liberal leader, Malcolm Turnbull. He's currently using their Triple-E senate to block a $42 billion dollar stimulus package. Here are his reasons:

[The PM] has made not one hard decision since coming to office. He has wanted to be Santa Claus -- everybody gets a prize.

The problem with everybody getting a prize today is that our children will be carrying a very heavy penalty in the years to come.

This is why we will vote against this package. That is why we do not support a further round of cash handouts.

We know this will not be popular. But it is the right thing to do. Somebody has to stand up for future generations, and not cruel their chances in life by weighing them down with staggering levels of debt.

Malcolm Turnbull isn't alone though. Even British Tory leader, David Cameron, is coming around:

I believe there is something morally repugnant about this Labour Government sacrificing tomorrow for the political convenience of today. And, I believe, so does the vast majority of this country. For the first time in generations, parents are looking at their children and questioning if they will have a better life than they themselves had.

A few years ago, you could count on Stephen Harper and his Conservatives to say things like that. No more, and unfortunately there's no sign of any party on the horizon that can be called conservative. So in the meantime, we'll have to make do with admiring them from afar.

Here's Malcolm Turnbull's speech in full:

Posted by Robert Jago on February 6, 2009 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Putin's War on Democracy

On Saturday I mentioned that a new anti-Putin coalition was building in Russia. I ended the blog post by expressing a hope that the Kremlin won't use draconian or violent tactics against this new opposition movement. It did not take long for me to be disappointed.

Over the weekend two anti-Kremlin rallies were broken up by the police and around a hundred people were arrested. Neither BBC nor CNN reported that the rallies were violent or disruptive. BBC did report that United Russia supporters did participate in a violent protest outside the building of an opposition conference.

After I wrote my post on Saturday some people expressed concerns that perhaps some of the opposition leaders were not the most freedom loving people in the world. I admit that I do not know all the political parties or their platforms, and so I do not judge what parties are best for Russia. To enter into that sort of discussion is to miss the point.

The problem in Russia is the process. The last election was pretty universally declared dishonest. Putin has a history of using violence to oppress opposition voices in both the Duma and the press. A former University professor of mine expressed doubts that even the polling data we see in Russia is honest. The only companies that have a license to put political polls in the field are friendly with Putin and his allies.

The beauty of representative democracy is that it creates a peaceful means by which the political elite and compete for power. If that process lacks legitimacy violence becomes the only power base and peace, order, and freedom all get lost in a sea of coups and counter coups. For Russia to end its long history of suffering either bloody autocrats or chaos, they have to develop a democratic political culture.

Russia does not have a history of democratic norms. Sadly Putin has done all he can to prevent such norms from taking root.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on December 15, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sarah Palin named "Most Controversial Celebrity" of 2008

Sarah Palin has just been named the “Most Controversial Celebrity” of 2008 by Showbiz Tonight, beating out two-time winner Britney Spears.

The Western Standard covered Palin as closely as good taste would allow and I can’t really understand what’s so controversial about the Alaskan governor and former Republican vice presidential candidate.

Was it that sexy college t-shirt photo?

Perhaps it is her down syndrome son Trig who she chose not to abort?

Her expensive campaign wardrobe, which she says she never asked for and didn't keep?

What about her rather conventional Christian views?

Or could it be her love of guns and hunting?

There's nothing controversial here.

Although she did have nice things to say about controversial Republican congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul – and then there was her association with Alaskan libertarians and separatists.

Troopergate, of course! I almost forgot about Troopergate.


OK. Fine. I guess she is somewhat controversial.

But is she really a celebrity?

And is this new obsession with the political class healthy? I think I like the Hollywood-obsessed America better than the politically-obsessed America, an era ushered in by President-elect Obama and the attractive and fashionable Palin.

I wonder if Lindsay Lohan said anything stupid today?

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on December 14, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A new hope in Russia

One of the major problems with Russia is the lack of alternative to Putin, Medvedev, and the United Russia Party. The Yeltsin years discredited liberalism in Russia and the various democratic parties have not been able to get their act together. The outrageously large victories enjoyed by Putin and his allies may be suspicious, but you have to consider that there is basically no one else to vote for. In fact in the Duma elections the ‘none of the above’ option on the ballot routinely wins plurality.

This is why I am excited to learn that the democratic parties in Russia are uniting and forming a new political force. They are calling themselves Solidarity. It is being headed by Garry Kasparov, who for a long time now has been the most successful critic of the Kremlin.

I only hope that Mr. Kasparov doesn’t soon face trumped up charges. 

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on December 13, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

All politicians do bad things

It’s not a matter of getting the “right” person in place; it’s a matter of refusing to give ANY person the amount of power politicians and bureaucrats currently enjoy. There is no way someone can “do good” in a position where they are expected to make certain groups happy and to do so with one tool and one tool only, force. That is government. We are stupid to think good intentions can somehow make coercion a “nice” and effective way to achieve social progress and harmony.  (I recommend reading chapter 10 of F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom to see why there are systematic reasons that “bad” people end up in high levels of government. It’s not by chance.)

Here’s a great post on the topic by the The Austrian Economists’ Steve Horwitz:

So the big news today is  that the governor of Illinois has been caught doing explicitly what most politicians do with more subtlety every single day: selling off their power to the highest bidder. I can’t help but note that yet another politician is indicted on corruption charges at the very same time we are handing over unprecedented power to the political class as we partially nationalize the banking system and, apparently, the Big Three auto companies.

I simply do not understand how those who are in favor of giving government all of these new powers because they sincerely believe that doing so will work out the way their blackboard designs intended can keep a straight face. What kind of cognitive dissonance must it take to believe that the people YOU are handing power over to are “not like” Ted Stevens or Rod Blagojevich? How deeply must one be in denial or engage in rationalization to believe that they are “different?” How blind must one be to think that trillions of dollars in bailout money won’t go to the highest bidder (as the lobbyists line up on K Street…) in a process different only in its wink-and-a-nod courtesies than Blagojevich’s auctioning off of a Senate seat?

For me, the key insight of public choice is the same insight that underlies Austrian economics:  it is the institutional framework that is the key to understanding the choices people make and the unintended outcomes they produce. As I said to a class last week: “Governments can’t act like businesses because businesses only act like businesses because they operate in the institutional environment of private property, monetary exchange, and competition.” In the same way, getting politicians to stop selling off their power isn’t a matter of ethics or psychology, rather it’s about changing the rules of the game such that they do not have as much power to sell. Unfortunately, the current bailout mania is changing those rules in utterly the wrong direction.

Look at it this way: the bailouts are already becoming just a legal form of essentially the same behavior for which the governor has been indicted.

Why should we ever accept “Oh, but he’s different” as an answer to the claim that explicit bribery and selling off power are just a less subtle form of politics as usual?

(Cross-posted at the SFEblog)

Posted by Isaac Morehouse on December 10, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Libertarian Bob Barr opposes US domestic troop deployment, warns of "culture of militarism"

Salem-news.com is reporting that the US government plans to deploy 20,000 troops – a full division – to domestic law enforcement. Former Republican congressman and Libertarian Party leader Bob Barr opposes the plan and the growing “culture of militarism” in America: 

"When combat troops are used for domestic law enforcement, rights are inevitably violated and tragedies occur, such as when the military was improperly activated to assist in the tragedy at Waco, Texas in 1993. This domestic use of the military resulted in the loss of some 80 men, women and children," says Barr, the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nominee.

"The government's plan to deploy initially 20,000 uniformed military personnel inside the United States goes against everything we have learned about using soldiers as police officers. Not only do these plans appear to be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act—which forbids the use of the military in law enforcement on non-federal property—but it also opens up the American public to dangerous Constitutional violations."

Barr says his concerns are greatly heightened by the conclusion reached by the current Bush Administration in a classified 2001 Department of Justice memo. The memo stated that the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures, does not apply to the U.S. military when it engages in “domestic” operations.

It gives new meaning to the antiwar cry to “bring the troops home.” Be careful what you wish for.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on December 4, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The power of words

The CCP's continuing battle against words had me thinking about the Moon report, and its recommendation to get the CHRC out of the anti-wordsmithing business.

I found the reaction of Justice Minister Rob Nicholson particularly puzzling (Reuters):

At this month's policy convention of the governing Conservative Party, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson voted for a resolution to have the commission get out of policing hate speech on the Internet.

But, mindful of his government's minority status in Parliament, he reacted cautiously on Monday: "We'll have a careful look at it... I'd like to get some input from the (House of Commons) justice committee."

To be fair to Nicholson, Randall Palmer (the Reuters author) added the minority government context.  Still, if the lack of a majority is keeping the Harper government from acting, it shouldn't.  In fact, the best political move out of this is to make the repeal of Section 13 a confidence vote.

I don't expect the NDP to be much help, but the Bloc and the Grits will be facing serious crosswinds.  For the Liberals, it was one of their own (Keith Martin) who first presented this as a private member's bill.  Would Martin (who was a CA member and was elected this time be a mere 72-vote margin) see this as a time to re-cross the floor, and give the Grits another embarrassment?  Or even worse (for the Libs), will a leadership candidate take a chance and come out in favor of the bill, thus splitting the party?

Meanwhile, the Bloc may think at first they can skate by this, but a free-speech issue garnering national attention in the middle of a Quebec election that could be Mario Dumont's last stand may not play as they think it will.  If Dumont is able to make this Le Cri de coeur Partie Deux, The Bloc's PQ cousins may have a serious problem.

Finally, the Conservatives only need a dozen votes to get this out of Commons, and Martin should give them at least one.  The rest will likely come from Blocquisites worried about the provincial election, or Liberals skittish about another election or having the party split open.

Either way, the odds would favor the Conservatives to pick up enough votes or absetentions to get a Section 13 repeal through.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on November 25, 2008 in Canadian Politics, International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Monday, November 24, 2008

The CCP's next accidental rehabilitation project

It was almost a decade ago when the Chinese Communist Party pulled off the impossible: they actually turned Prince Charles into a sympathetic figure.

Today, they take on an even bigger challenge: reviving Guns 'N' Roses.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on November 24, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, November 21, 2008

Beijing admits the situation is "grim"

They're just hoping no one ntoices that they have no idea what to do next.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on November 21, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Antiwar groups fear Barack Obama may create hawkish Cabinet

The LA Times is reporting today that:

Antiwar groups and other liberal activists are increasingly concerned at signs that Barack Obama's national security team will be dominated by appointees who favored the Iraq invasion and hold hawkish views on other important foreign policy issues.

If these antiwar groups had read the October 2008 edition of Reason Magazine, this news would be less surprising.  Here’s what columnist David Weigel had to say about Obama’s foreign policy views:

He has called for, or retroactively endorsed, interventions in Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and Sudan. He has advocated a humanitarian-based foreign policy for his entire public career. Since coming to the U.S. Senate in 2005, he has built up a brain trust of academics and ex-Clintonites who, like him, challenge the logic of the Iraq war but not the logic of wars like Iraq. John McCain looks at American military power and sees a way to "roll back" rogue states. Obama looks at American military power and sees a way to solve international and intranational conflict, regardless of the conflict's immediate impact on national security. McCain seeks to aggressively confront imminent threats. Obama wants to do the same, while forestalling threats of tomorrow with just as much military vigor.

If antiwar groups were was looking to Obama to restore the American non-interventionist tradition, they picked the wrong candidate.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on November 20, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

The tragedy as farce

Beijing continues the Moscow-70s-rerun.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on November 20, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Communist China is now America's largest creditor

The CCP now has the economic power to do tremendous damage to the American economy and/or exact painful geopolitical concessions from the leader of the free world.

Or not.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on November 19, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More from those free-marketeers in China

The regime is now demanding factories get government approval before making lay-offs.

I would cluck-cluck about the supposedly "free-market" Communists being exposed, but as an American, well . . .

Posted by D.J. McGuire on November 18, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Monday, November 17, 2008

Continuing on my two obsessions that no one else seems to care about . . .

Communist China continues its Brezhnevization.

Meanwhile, for those of you still angry over the federal Conservatives abandoning private health care, there is still one leader willing to embrace the badly needed heresy: Mario Dumont.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on November 17, 2008 in Canadian Politics, Canadian Provincial Politics, International Politics | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gary Johnson for President in 2012: Keeping drug policy reform on the Republican agenda

Canadian libertarian publisher Marc Emery doesn’t trust President-elect Obama on drug policy reform, and wants to see former two-term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 as an insurance policy. Johnson is a tax fighter, a Ron Paul supporter, an opponent of the war in Iraq and, most importantly to Emery, the highest ranking elected official in America to have opposed the war on drugs.

Can Johnson finish the job Ron Paul started and successfully win the Republican nomination for libertarian-conservatives in 2012? Read Marc Emery's column "Gary Johnson for President in 2012" here for the answer.

And here's an excerpt from the column for those of you pressed for time:

If Obama wants to keep arresting African-Americans all day long for pot and drugs, that is unacceptable. If he wants to maintain the status quo and leave us with hollow words like "hope" and "change", then the honeymoon will be over fast. These are desperate, rough times ahead and a soothsayer in the White House, no matter how handsome and acceptably black, is not going to be able to suppress the legitimate aspirations of millions of people in jail or with family in jail because of the drug war. If drug law reform is way down on the list of the Democratic Congress and Obama’s agenda then its not a moment too soon to start considering a mainstream candidate for whom drug-law reform is much higher on the list. That's Gary Johnson.

Gary Johnson smoked pot, enjoyed it, became Governor, served two terms, doesn't smoke pot now or recently, and wants to legalize it. Obama called his pot use a youthful mistake and has recanted, during the 2008 campaign, his 2004 promise to legalize pot.

Nonetheless, I am confident President Obama would probably sign any bill brought before him from Congress that does legalize pot, that's why the new Congress must be lobbied to get on board with the Barney Frank-Ron Paul Marijuana Decriminalization Act. I am more optimistic than ever before about getting drug law reform done with the Democrats and Ron Paul Republicans (Broun, McClintock, Paul, Bartlett, Flake, Rohrabacher) in this next session.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on November 16, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The saga of the Ron Paul third party bid that never was

Ron_paulNolan Chart columnist and Ontario Libertarian Party deputy leader George Dance has provided an excellent summary of the Ron Paul third party bid that never was.

Dance documents the speculation and weak denials that Paul would run as the Libertarian Party candidate for president if he lost the Republican nomination, which was certain.

You can read his excellent and thorough treatment of the subject here, but the stories goes something like this:

Paul was asked by Republican brass to agree not to run as a third party candidate, should he lose the nomination, on the condition that he be allowed to participate in state primaries and the all-important national debates. Paul didn’t disclose these No-Third-Party agreements and allowed speculation to run rampant as to whether or not he would run as the Libertarian Party candidate for president. His campaign team may have even encouraged some of this speculation.

Some argue he didn’t disclose these agreements because he wanted to keep the media interested in his campaign for the Republican nomination and wanted to keep donations coming in from Libertarian Party members who clung to the hope that Paul would eventually be their candidate.

Paul eventually made it clear that he would not accept the Libertarian Party nomination and said “I am a Republican, and I will remain a Republican." Libertarians were naturally disappointed, but, again, at no point did Paul’s campaign disclose the No-Third-Party agreements which precluded him from running. Why?

In answer to this nagging question, Western Standard general manager Kalim Kassam suggested Paul may have been under a non-disclosure agreement at least until the November 4th vote. Here’s what Dance had to write about Kassam’s conclusion:

At this point, of course, all judgements have to be tentative. I find myself in agreement with Kalim Kassam's comments on the revelation at Canada's Western Standard:

It's not difficult to see why this information wasn't made public before the press conference at which Ron Paul made his presidential endorsements: of course the GOP would prefer it never to see the light of day, and until that point Paul could coyly respond to inquiries that he had "no plans" to mount a third party run while not completely ruling it out, keeping the media interested and the major parties on their toes....

Then again, who am I to know? Maybe the GOP also had a non-disclosure agreement which gagged the Paul campaign from talking until after the November 4th election. I wouldn't be surprised, would you?

Remember Occam’s razor: All other things being equal, the simplest explanation is the best.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on November 15, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Friday, November 14, 2008

US blocks Chinese food imports

The melamine scandal is faced, so it doesn't hit home.

How long before Canada does this?

Posted by D.J. McGuire on November 14, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bravo to Rogers

The Chinese dissident TV station New Tang Dynasty Television is now on the air in Canada.

Truth be told, I really didn't give Rogers enough credit on the post itself (actually, I never mentioned them), but I want to make up for it here.  It takes a lot to resist the CCP and its lure of "1.3 billion customers" - especially in the Great White North, where the Liberals still insist on doing Beijing's bidding.

Thank you, Rogers.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on November 13, 2008 in Canadian Politics, International Politics, Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

If you think you had a bad Remembrance Day...

. . . try looking at the one the Chinese Communists had.

Meanwhile, I see the PQ and the Q-Liberals are insisting that the other stinks on the economy (Whistler Question).,  Of course, they're both right.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on November 12, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, November 10, 2008

Perhaps this will disabuse the CCP admirers

The Chinese Communist Party has, IMHO, gotten far more praise on this blog than it deserves for supposedly "free-market" policies - much of which has been a ruse.

I await the condemnation from these folks as the cadres have now decided to unload 15% of the nation's GDP on pork-barrel projects and other nonsense.

Meanwhile, thanks to this, I will once again resume my role as Chief of the ADQ apologists (American division).

Posted by D.J. McGuire on November 10, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Obama draft begins

An open letter to America's youth:

Dear high school and college aged students:

We're sorry about this, American young people, but President-Elect Barack Obama demands your service.

You, too, can learn to balance school, after-school jobs, and extracurricular activities with 50-100 hours of annual community service.

Especially you kids unlucky enough to have poor parents who can't afford to send you to a private school. You'll have to save for college while cleaning toilets, working for ACORN, and picking up trash along the highway. Your wealthier friends, on the other hand, will just be able to skip the whole "mandatory volunteerism" thing by transferring to private schools.

Maybe the government will let you do your time with a libertarian or conservative organization. Yeah, good luck with that, you miserable proletariat schlubs.

Again, sorry about this.  But America needs you. Barack Obama needs you.

We hope you understand.


The Western Standard

Posted by Terrence Watson on November 7, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fraser Institute: Harper government faces hurdles with a Barack Obama administration

Despite Canadians’ stated preference for a Barack Obama presidency, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will have his work cut out for him to convince the president-elect not to pursue polices that will negatively affect Canada, concludes a new study from independent research organization the Fraser Institute.

“On all the key economic and bilateral issues between our two countries, including trade, energy, border management, and defence, an Obama administration poses a major challenge to Canada’s immediate interests,” said Dr. Alexander Moens, author of Canada and Obama: Canada’s Stake in the 2008 US Election and a senior fellow with the Fraser Institute.

“Prime Minister Harper has a very large hurdle ahead of him in terms of trying to gain Obama’s attention, build a relationship, and advance Canada’s interests.”

In the new study, Moens, a political science professor at Simon Fraser University and expert on Canada-U.S. relations, breaks down the main policy issues of Canadian interest facing the two North American neighbours, and examines how an Obama presidency is likely to approach them. His conclusion is not reassuring for the Canadian economy, which relies heavily on exports to the U.S. The complete study is available at www.fraserinstitute.org.

“There is no indication Obama will change the American approach to border security, and he has been critical of Canada’s production of what he calls ‘dirty oil.’ Combined with Obama’s lack of foreign affairs experience, it will be a challenge for Canada to get on his agenda,” Moens said.
Moens points out that Canada did not feature in the Obama campaign except in the NAFTA flap, when a Canadian memo was leaked to the press in which an aide to Obama indicated that Obama was less critical of NAFTA than his campaign rhetoric would suggest.

For the past several years, Canada and the U.S. have been moving to integrate markets in the two countries, initially under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and more recently through the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). The ability for transactions to occur freely across the border has been a key engine of Canadian growth in the past two decades. In 2007, Canada’s trade with the United States amounted to 67 per cent of its overall trade, or 40 per cent of GDP. But these gains could disappear if the new U.S. administration embraces more protectionist policies.

“Given Obama’s expressed hesitation for free trade agreements and his promises to seek more labour and environmental conditions in agreements such as NAFTA, Canada will likely face more than security demands from the new administration in bilateral negotiations on deepening trade,” Moens said.

“But Obama is a highly intelligent person, and a master politician. If Harper can persuade him that the United States will benefit from good relations with Canada, he may adjust his policies.”

The other key issue facing Canada is the likelihood of Obama bringing forward a carbon cap-and-trade system. Canada is particularly sensitive to arbitrary caps on carbon set in Washington which would most likely lead to American industry demanding import tariffs or levies on Canadian energy products and manufactured goods. Because carbon policies lead to trade distortions, Canada can only minimize its losses if it joins an American cap and trade system. Any difference between the two markets on these regulations will likely hurt the Canadian export sector.

Moens concludes that because of the challenge of getting Canada on Barack Obama’s agenda and getting Canadian interests acknowledged, Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to meet early with the new president and exert maximum effort to build a personal relationship of trust and respect.
And he suggests the Prime Minister concentrate on three main issues:

1. Renew efforts to open bilateral, rather than trilateral (with Mexico), discussions on trade and border issues. Canadian steps toward more border staffing and deeper cooperation on homeland security as well as joint projects on accelerated infrastructure (bridges and roads) could be a start.

2. Reconsider the decision to withdraw Canadian Forces from combat operations in Afghanistan in 2011. This issue should be put on the bilateral table to find a common strategy with the Obama administration on how to achieve long-term security and stability in Afghanistan using both military and diplomatic means.

3. If the new Administration and Congress launch a cap-and-trade system on carbon emissions, Canada should lobby for a single Canadian-American approach, rather than separate Canadian and American policies. Such an accord must give special protection for the oil sands industry to give it time to move towards more steam-assisted gravity drainage, the use of nuclear power to generate steam, and carbon sequestering.

Despite Obama’s popularity among Canadians, Moens points out that the Canadian public remains leery of working closely with the United States and it remains to be seen if public opinion will change under an Obama administration.

“Canadians are almost evenly split on the operations in Afghanistan and they showed little support for the SPP initiative to deepen trade relations. Any Canadian government will face a tough challenge explaining why it is in Canada’s national interest to move towards closer trade integration and border efficiency, as well as to bring the integrated energy markets even closer,” he said.


Posted by westernstandard on November 6, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What the new Administration could do (if it wanted)

There are many reasons why I was disappointed (and deeply worried) about Barack Obama's victory.  The Bush Administration made sure policy toward Communist China was not one of them.

In fact, the Obama Administration could win many converts with a genuinely anti-Communist policy.  Here's how.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on November 5, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Take up thy cross and follow Obama

Late last night, after the election was called for Obama, CNN political analyst Roland Martin used Biblical analogies in looking at the problems facing the new president. All Americans, needed to rally together, he argued, citing the Biblical example of Nehemiah who could only rebuild the temple when all the Israelites realized that they had to work together.

Moreover, Mr. Martin added, Americans must not assume that Obama can solve these problems alone. They must "take up that cross" (his words) and help him. (Perhaps "Take up thy cross and follow Obama" is in an extremely new translation of the Bible that I have not seen yet. )

No pressure, Barack, he just compared your new job to the road to Calvary!

This is just another example of the messianic undertone that has underlay the U.S. media coverage of Obama. Conservative bloggers such as Jonah Goldberg have spotted it. It goes almost without saying that had Sarah Palin, a devout Pentecostal, used Biblical language during the campign, reporters would have eaten her alive.

I'd say to the new president--if people are thinking of you in such terms, then may God help you. Literally! I am certain that you will need it.

UPDATE: A "Roland S. Martin", who may well be the CNN correspondent himself, adds in the comments:

"I used the religious language because I have a masters in Christian communications: my wife is an ordained minister; and I gave a sermond on Sunday with Nehemiah 2 as the scripture and the title was "It's About Us; Not Him"

I did note that Mr. Martin was careful to say that Obama would lead Americans. But, the president elect is a mere mortal politician. We do need to give him permission to fail...as I ruefully suspect he will. Such language as used on election night, I still suggest, does not help Mr. Obama.

I also note that the words "Take up thy cross and follow me," are spoken by Christ himself in the Bible, so what, indeed, would "take up that cross" remind you of? 


Posted by Rick Hiebert on November 5, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Thursday, October 30, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Reform, schmeform

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

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The devolution of tyranny

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

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

Monday, October 27, 2008

We're just not into you

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

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

Friday, October 24, 2008

Strange Days

It's not often one sees more resolve from Europe than America, but it does happen on occasion.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on October 24, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The next four years . . .

. . . and why they could be a lot of trouble . . .

. . . no matter who wins November 4.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on October 23, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Somebody finally goes after the surrender to North Korea

John McCain rips the Bush Administration here.

Still plenty of time for anyone in Canada to say something . . .

. . . anything.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on October 22, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The new theme for the CCP.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on October 21, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Meanwhile, on this side of the 49th . . .

Canadians were lucky to have Communist China become an issue during the campaign; we Americans have not been as fortunate so far.

Then again, it didn't happen in Canada until the last weekend, and we still have nearly three weeks to go.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on October 16, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

O-Kay to Obama

While we're waiting for the voting results in Canada tonight, a little something about that other election:

I was wondering whether the headline on Jonathan Kay's column in today's National Post, "Another Conservative for Obama," was meant to be simply a general statement about Kay's support of Barack Obama, or whether it directly related to any other prominent conservative commentator's decision do the Democratic thing.

It turns out to be the latter, as Christopher Buckley, son of the late William F. Buckley, recently wrote that he, too, would not be voting the McCain-Palin ticket--an announcement that now has cost him his National Review column.

I know that many (most? all?) of the libertarian writers on this blog are not supporting the Republicans. But are there neo-cons and so-cons Shotgunners who've given up on the Republicans too?

Posted by Terry O'Neill on October 14, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Back to East Asia

Hmmm.  Looks like my theory on the Canadian and American elections didn't go over well with the readers.  Perhaps my musings on North Korea will.

The painful thing about this is the fact that Canada has been utterly silent on this.  As a northern Pacific nation and American ally - even one outside of the six-party talks format - Canada could have at least provided some pressure to North Korea and its Beijing puppet-masters to cut out the antics and actually follow through on two decades worth of promises.

In fact, it still could.  After all, we're talking about a regime starving its own people, looking to build a nuclear warhead, and arming terrorist sponsors in the Middle East.

To see the Grits ignore these things is standard; to see the Tories just as oblivious is maddening.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on October 8, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Are Canadians trying to "preact" to the American election?

There is some angst out there over the latest Nanos poll that puts the Liberals a mere three points out of first. This space has seen some conjecture about why.

I have a different view.

If you ask me, Canadians are actually looking to their south, and making decisions accordingly - which could be terrible news for the Conservatives.

Harper took a chance by dropping the writ when he did, but he had a good reason.  Since the Great Depression, there have been thirteen Canadian elections observed by a Democrat in the White House.  Eleven were Liberal victories (nine majorities); in the other two, Diefenbaker lost his majority in 1962, and Joe Clark edged Trudeau in 1979.  Neither Conservative government lasted a year.  By contrast, with a Republican President, the Tories won six times (four majorities and two minorities which turfed Liberal governments).  The Grits won four, but its 1953 majority was less than a year into the Eisenhower Administration; 1974 was during the Republicans' worst ebb since said Depression; and the other two were reductions from Grit majorities to Grit minorities.

In other words, odds are Harper had a much better shot at keeping his job (let alone a majority) with a Republican President.  I'm guessing he decided this summer he couldn't take a chance on the American people, and thus pulled the plug when he did.

At first, it looked brilliant.  McCain actually pulled into the lead in early September, and it should be no surprise that the Conservative majority looked most likely while McCain was the favorite.  As Obama rose, the Conservatives fell.

Now, any more drop in Tory support could mean a stunning defeat.

Will it happen?  Well, if I'm right, it will depend largely on where Obama and McCain stand on October 14.  if Obama maintains the lead he has now, I'm guessing - you heard it here first - that Dion wins.  Yes, Dion wins.

Canadians are looking at the rest of the world, and seeing it move left.  Beyond America, Australia is under a Labour government (the whole "plagiarism" thing likely did Harper more demage by reminding everyone that John Howard was bounced last year), while the conservative leader in France is under severe strain.  While the British Conservatives are flying high, their man in the London Mayor's chair openly endorsed Obama.  India's elections aren't for another six months, and while the right looks to do well in New Zealand, no one pays attention to New Zealand.

Re-electing the Conservatives would lead Canada sticking out like a sore thumb, and I'm guessing far too many Canadians can't bear the sight of that.

What does it mean?  It means either I'm way off base (and it wouldn't be the first time), or that the fate of Stephen Harper lies more with John McCain and Barack Obama than anyone north of the 49th.

We'll all know in a week.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on October 7, 2008 in Canadian Politics, International Politics | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Not what Beijing had in mind

The 2008 Olympics were supposed to be the moment Communist China was welcomed as a rising power and a dynamic nation in the world structure.

It didn't turn out that way.

The elction of Ma Ying-jeou in Taiwan was supposed to give the cadres a new chance to win over the Taiwanese people, or at least lull them to sleep about the threat from Beijing.

That didn't work either.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on October 7, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack