Comments on politics, the culture, economics, and sports by Paul Tuns. I am editor-in-chief of "The Interim," Canada's life and family newspaper, and author of "Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal" (2004) and "The Dauphin: The Truth about Justin Trudeau" (2015). I am some combination of conservative/libertarian, standing athwart history yelling "bullshit!" You can follow me on Twitter (@ptuns).
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Almost SOTU free
I wasn't going to blog about the State of the Union address tonight. I've been out of the loop on American politics for the past four weeks, I am a little tired of George W. Bush as I wait for him to advance something like a domestic agenda, and I am a whole lot tired of the Democrats as I wait for them to get serious about anything. I've tried to keep informed about the Alito hearings but I just become frustrated with the Democratic attacks on him. So I vowed not to watch the SOTU, to only read it online after the fact and not watch any of the TV analysis or read blogs about it. And technically I'm not going to. But I do want to draw your attention to The Corner's skewering of Virginia Governor Tim Kane's response (between 10:26 and 10:44 -- go here and scroll down). I have no idea if it is warranted, but it is funny nonetheless. Kaine's line of "There's a better way," wasn't so much of a hit with the NR crowd.
"Anyone who does not see the vanity of life must be very vain indeed."
-- Blaise Pascal, Pensees
New home for Political Staples
It is now politicalstaples.com instead of politicalstaples.blogspot.com. Change your favourites/links/etc...
Only question I have is what the heck is Greg going to blog about without a daily poll from the election campaign?
Right Ho! retires his blog
A final Q&A at Conservativeship.
VRWC print edition
Andrew Roth at the Club for Growth's blog, is compiling a list of conservative papers by state. (HT: Hugh Hewitt) Well worth a look. The latest find is the Caledonian-Record in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
My thoughts on the Liberal leadership
Brian Tobin would rather spend time with his family (never mind that his kids have graduated from college) than with the Liberal caucus in opposition. My thoughts about the Liberal leadership are over at The Shotgun.
Hindu extremists attack Catholic bishop, 3 priests in India
Indian Catholic reports that Bishop Thomas Dabre of Vasai and three priests, "were pelted with stones as they opened a hostel for tribal children in a village." That attackers apparently belong to Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad and its band of junior thugs, Bajrang Dal. The organizations that used sticks and stones to disrupt the opening of a hostel for children are committed to strengthening Hindu society. Perhaps, as the friend who sent this article to me suggested, for self-preservation, Christians in India should dress up as cows.
Shays in trouble?
According to Congressional Quarterly's new blog, RINO Rep. Christopher Shays is in the fight for his career. His 2004 Democratic opponent, Diane Farrell, a local politician, is back for a second try and enters the race "with more money and more time to campaign." According to CQ, Shays, "strayed from the party line 33 percent of the time last year on 'party unity' votes that divided most House Republicans from most Democrats," second only to Iowa RINO Jim Leach.
Marketing ploy or genuine humanitarianism
As Alex Singleton's GI blog remarks about Bono's endorsement of Red brand initiative with the Global Fund
to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria make clear, they need not be mutually exclusive and that is, as Martha Stewart says, "a good thing." I have to wonder about the left's opposition to corporations gettig behind the initiative: do the likes of War on Want care more about helping the poor or free markets and capitalism?
Doesn't McKenna not running for the Liberal leadership say a lot
Frank McKenna has chosen to spend more time with his family rather than run for the leadership of the Liberal Party. I read this as a sign that the party's leadership isn't worth having right now. It points to the fact that even many Liberals think that Stephen Harper will be prime minister for a while.
When I began reading this article in the New York Times about how senators are not giving much attention to President George W. Bush's nominee for chairman of the Federal Reserve, I was going to mention that Senate Democrats are so obsessed with abortion and affirmative action (that is what the fuss about Judge Samuel Alito is about, right?), that they are ignoring a nominee who is probably as important to American life as the judicial appointee. Then I found an anecdote that is deeply disturbing:
"The important presidential nominee who is scheduled for a vote in the Senate on Tuesday is widely regarded as brilliant, has ties to Princeton University and, if confirmed as expected, will influence the lives of ordinary Americans for years to come.
Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. for the Supreme Court?
No, this is the other important nominee — Ben S. Bernanke for chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Wall Street may be intensely interested in just about every word ever uttered by Mr. Bernanke, the former Princeton economist and chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers who is President Bush's choice to succeed Alan Greenspan.
But in Washington, he is barely on some people's radar screens. Indeed, here is what Senator George Allen of Virginia, who is considering a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, said when asked his opinion of the Bernanke nomination.
If that is true it is amazing.
Monday, January 30, 2006
"Feelings are not an infallible indicator of fact."
-- Peter Kreeft, Three Philosophies of Life
Political correct recognition in baseball
The sons of the late Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente want MLB to retire their father's number (21) across the board, just as it did with Jackie Robinson's number (42) in 1997 on the fiftieth anniversary of Robinson breaking baseball's colour barrier. While initial reports had it that the Clemente family suggested that their father should be recognized for doing for Hispanics what Robinson did for blacks (never mind that there were numerous Hispanics before Clemente), it now appears that Roberto Jr. and Luis Clemente say it is more about recognizing the humanitarian side of the Pirate great. Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash in 1972 delivering food aid to Nicaragua.
Sharon Robinson, Jackie Robinson's daughter, is not impressed, telling a New York paper last week: "To my understanding, the purpose of retiring my father's number is that what he did changed all of baseball, not only for African-Americans but also for Latinos, so I think that purpose has been met. When you start retiring numbers across the board, for all different groups, you're kind of diluting the original purpose." She has a point but she seems awfully catty in her comments. Can't the children of black baseball greats and Hispanic baseball greats just get along?
Shocking news: special treatment center for sex addicts didn't work
A special investigation by the Miami Herald found that special treatment" facilities for sex addicts, created on Florida's Jimmy Ryce Act, have been a complete failure. Perhaps because the centre is under-staffed and perhaps because the guards that do work there are in on the racket, the paper found:
"For seven years, Florida taxpayers have pumped more than $100 million into the Florida Civil Commitment Center, a facility set up to treat the mental disorders of the state's most dangerous sexual predators.
What taxpayers got: a place where child pornography arrived in the mail, stashed inside transistor radios. Bags of marijuana came in care packages, stuffed in the guts of peanut butter jars, and men brewed gallons of homemade alcohol under the noses of a shoestring staff."
Some guards have been caught destroying evidence by erasing security tapes. Others have been caught selling drugs and having sex with the prisoners which the paper insists on calling "offenders" (although considering the behaviour of the guards is a little confusing). It is a mess and the paper blames the legislature for failing to provide the necessary funds. It would seem that with the lack of guards and counsellors, the Herald probably has a point. Of course, another solution would be to close down such minimum security and experimental correctional centres.
Bill of Rights for spot and tiger
The Daily Telegraph reports that the UK government is considering five freedoms to animals: "The freedoms include appropriate diet, suitable living conditions, companionship or solitude as appropriate, monitoring for abnormal behaviour and protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease." The Animal Welfare Bill is expected to soon pass in the House of Commons. The only question I have is this: will fido and his pals need to carry around an ID card?
Steyn on Canada's much vaunted 'tolerance'
Mark Steyn writes in the Daily Telegraph about revelations that Lib Dem Simon Hughes is bisexual and ties in his future fortunes with what has just happened in Canada:
"Two weeks ago, you may recall, I predicted that the Tories would win the Canadian election. They did, and since then I've been asked if I know precisely why.
Well, having been totally shut out in Quebec for almost two decades, they suddenly picked up a bunch of seats formerly held by the separatist party.
There are various explanations for this, but I note that a few weeks back the separatists elected as their provincial party leader a man called André Boisclair, a homosexual and sometime cocaine addict.
When I first heard the coke stories, it was around the time David Cameron was deflecting similar inquiries and I naturally assumed it was a similar long-ago youthful indiscretion.
But it turns out Mr Boisclair was doing coke while serving as a Minister of the Crown in the Quebec government.
As Maclean's magazine wrote: 'Besieged by reporters, he finally conceded he had "consumed" while in cabinet. He insisted quite vehemently that he is clean now, and always had his wits about him while at work.'
Immediately, the press started writing stuff about how the 'Generation X' 'party boy' represented 'the new face of Quebec politics' (Toronto Star) and proved that Quebecers are 'ready to embrace an openly gay premier' (Montreal Gazette).
Hmm. A couple of months later and a hitherto all but invisible Quebec "conservative" vote re-emerges after a decades-long hibernation and abandons the separatist cause.
Coincidence? Depends what you're snorting. But my sense is that, outside the metropolitan fleshpots, most people are more socially conservative than they're willing to tell pollsters - and that 'tolerance' is not the same as 'approval' and a popular gay soap character or queenly old rocker is not the same as a gay party leader or transsexual prime minister."
Benny at Turtle Bay?
LifeSiteNews.com reports that Pope Benedict XVI may come to the United States in 2007 and during that trip address the General Assembly of the United Nations. That could be fun considering that the Pope has been a critic of the international organization.
The New York Times reports that RINO Senator Lincoln Chafee will oppose the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court of the United States.
How to steal elections and influence a country
Danielle Smith's Calgary Herald column (HT: Adam Daifallah) explains the strange goings-on in Saskatchewan that cost the Conservatives the seat of Jeremy Harrison:
"When I heard Jeremy Harrison, the Tory MP from the Saskatchewan riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River, had lost his seat to Liberal candidate Gary Merasty, I was pretty surprised. He had won the 2004 election by a margin of nearly 1,500 votes and, with almost the entire province a sweep of Tory blue, this was a relatively safe seat.
Election night results, however, had Harrison losing the race by 106 votes on 24,691 votes cast. Since Elections Canada rules require an automatic recount only if the victory margin is less than 0.1 per cent of votes cast (in this case, 25 votes), it would take something extraordinary for lawyers to make the case there should be a judicial review.
Enter the extraordinary Ahtahkakoop reserve.
Harrison was leading the race by more than 200 votes on election night, waiting on the last poll of the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation. It finally came in about 11:30 p.m.
It appears that voters on this reserve are among the most patriotic Canadians in the country. While pundits elsewhere were fretting about low voter turnout, Ahtahkakoop's 104-per-cent turnout provides a remarkable example of the enthusiasm with which these reserve residents embraced their civic duty. There were 372 residents on the voters' list in Monday night's election -- and 388 people cast ballots."
The first review at Amazon.com for the Rolling Stones's 12 X 5 album (a great album covering various blues songs, half of which were recorded at Chess Records, the great blues label out of Chicago) confusingly says "'Susie Q' rocks out and closes an album that is a near miss, but a must have," but at the same time reviewer John M. Pugliese, Jr. gives 12 X 5 four out of five stars.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
25 favourite Johnny Cash songs
25. Another Man Done Gone (with Anita Carter)
24. Cocaine Blues
23. Cry, Cry, Cry
22. The Night Hank Williams Came to Town (with Waylon Jennings)
21. Wreck of the Ol' 97
20. What is Truth
19. Were You There - When They Crucified My Lord (with the Carter family)
18. Highwayman (with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings)
17. 25 Minutes to Go
16. The Matador
15. The One on the Right is on the Left
13. San Quentin I & II (performed live at San Quentin)
12. One Piece at a Time
11. Walk the Line
10. Any Old Wind that Blows
9. The Wanderer (with U2)
8. A Boy Named Sue
7. Folsom Prison Blues
6. Daddy Sang Bass
5. Man in Black
4. Ballad of a Teenage Queen
3. Ring of Fire
2. Starkville City Jail (performed live at San Quentin)
1. Don't Take Your Guns to Town
Thoughts on the Liberal leadership race
Among the names being mentioned as possible Liberal leadership candidates: Brian Tobin, Frank McKenna, Michael Ignatieff, Martin Cauchon, Sheila Copps, Belinda Stronach, Scott Brison, Bob Rae. Interesting choices. Some quick thoughts:
From what I hear, Tobin doesn't appear to have the money or organization to challenge McKenna if he gets in the race and most people think that as both are former Atlantic Canadian premiers they are going after the same constituency. That isn't really true: McKenna is to the right of Tobin on most issues (economic and social) but perpections matter a lot and Tobin needs to get out of the gates early to take some steam out of McKenna if he wants to be the Atlantic Canada candidate.
As Steve Janke notes, McKenna could have a problem with what is sure to be perceived as extreme right-wing, pro-life views. They really aren't. Defunding is too right wing? And the news story Janke uses is from 1988. Hell, Paul Martin was still pro-life in 1988. People change. Especially when they are running for the leadership of the Liberal Party.
Ignatieff could have a problem with the Liberal Party base. Ignatieff has a consistent 15-year record as a war-loving liberal. On foreign policy and war on terror, he is out of step with the party so the precise process of choosing the new leader could make a big difference on whether he even runs, let alone how much of a chance he has. That said, I can't imagine that the former Harvard professor would be happy sitting in the opposition benches; he obviously wants to be leader, but his comments about returning to Boston if his political gig didn't work out demonstrates that he might be a little risk-averse.
Cauchon has two things to recommend him: he is from Quebec (and perhaps the only candidate from Quebec if Stephan Dion does not run) and he got the gay marriage ball rolling as Jean Chretien's justice minister. Neither will be enough but he might hope to play kingmaker.
Copps: you gotta be joking.
Stronach is the only Liberal with the personality to make the next election truly interesting. She gets people excited about politics. She obviously doesn't like the opposition benches and she might need the excitement of a leadership campaign to keep herself in interested in politics.
Would Brison be considered Liberal leadership material if he wasn't gay?
No Liberal in Ontario is mentioning Bob Rae because ... well, they remember Bob Rae. The clamour for a Rae leadership is coming from Quebec Liberals who don't like McKenna and recognize that they don't have their own candidate.
It is noteworthy that among the names bandied about are two former PC/CPC leadership hopefuls and a former NDP premier. It says a lot about the Liberal bench which is usually much stronger than this.
Wisdom from Maggie Trudeau
Margaret Trudeau wants people to stop drinking bottled water because it's not "natural, pure and clean." And it's not regulated. (Of course, everything that is not regulated is evil.) And the bottles take 500 years to decompose. Wait -- hasn't she ever heard of recycling.
"It is my impression that the clergy of former times devoted their finest efforts to mending the behavior of individuals, but that in recent times they have sought rather to mend social policy."
-- George J. Stigler, The Economist as Preacher and Other Essays
David Cameron is the new Pol Pot
Lord Tebbit goes a little overboard when he says that Conservative Party leader David Cameron is a lot like Pol Pot in trying to expunge the memory of Margaret Thatcher. In a speech to the Bow Group tomorrow, Tebbit is expected to criticize Cameron for going to the "Left of the middle ground." Today Cameron praised British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his efforts on social justice and creating an economically effecient Britain.
UK tax too complicated, Canada's to follow
Mark Nicholson has determined that 3.8 million British taxpayers are not paying the correct tax rate because of the complications inherent in the system. In a study compiled by City experts for the Bow Group, Nicholson said: "The complexity and chaos of the system shows how much the state bureaucracy has become a Frankenstein's monster. It is out of control and no one seems to have a firm handle on it. Some people are paying too much and some too little." He calls for a reduction of exemptions, the number of tax brackets and in-kind benefits, among other reforms and Conservative shadow chancellor George Osborne says the study proves that, "millions of people are paying the price for Gordon Brown's obsession with complexity in the tax system." Of course, this is what's going to happen in Stephen Harper's Canada with tax deductions for city transit use and sports equipment and determining what proportion of the $1200 handout needs to be paid back in taxes.
Meanwhile, the London Times reports that the Commons Public Administration Committee has found that the government overpays poor families with tax credits and then claws back their income following the merger of tax and benefit services in 2003, a chaotic tax situation that could tax years to correct.
Skepticism on UK ID cards from former booster
The Sunday Telegraph reports:
"Lord Carlile, QC, a Liberal Democrat peer who was appointed Independent Reviewer of terrorism legislation in 2001 and who formerly backed ID cards, signalled a change of heart when he raised questions about whether it was worth curtailing civil liberties for a project with dubious practical benefits.
'I cannot think of a terrorist incident in which ID cards could have brought the incident to an earlier end,' he told GMTV's Sunday Programme."
Orange trees in Saskatchewan sooner than expected
This scare-mongering Washington Post reports that "some experts" believe that global warming will be here in the next few decades and that it will be irreversible so we better back some of their solutions now. I for one look forward to the point when we can't head back so the alarmists can be proven right but we won't have to follow their bank-busting policy prescriptions.
The New York Yankees were unable to sign catcher Mike Piazza. The San Diego Padres signed the 12-time all star to a one-year, $2 million contract. This seems like a stupid move for Piazza who would have benefited from playing in the American League where he could have split his time between playing catcher and designated hitter. But according to the AP story, the Yankees no longer seemed to be in the hunt as Piazza apparently was deciding between the Padres and Philadelphia Phillies. This sounds to me like he is having a problem admitting he is no longer the great catcher he once was.
The pro-free market Centre for a New Europe has four interesting blogs (HT: Globalization Institute blog): Health, environment, intellectual property, and competition.
Here are three quick bites:
From the competition blog: "The ultimate objective of government regulation is to hamper economic activity to the point that it ceases. If we judge the motives of actions by their outcomes, it is hard to come to any other conclusion." After a brief look at the von Mises blog's comments on Sarbanes-Oxley, Antoine Clarke wonders, "At what point does the excuse of 'unintended consequence' no longer hold? It's not like the notion that government regulation is a bad way of solving economic problems is new."
At the environment blog, Dan Lewis says that there is a global shortage not in metals but in investment dollars: "I think this decade is looking more and more like the 1970s. Commodity prices are high because investment in new plants is very low and demand in the developing world is enormous. That’s why, with such long lead times to come on stream, we may not have falling commodity prices until the 2010s."
At the health blog, Antoine Clarke looks at the NHS's bureaucracy's war against people with Alzheimers. Okay, that is a bit of a stretch but after reading his post, you'll understand why: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) approved funding for donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine (in the BBC's words) "only when new patients reach a moderate stage of the condition" -- that is, sometimes when it is too late to actually help. (Moderate is not a good thing here.) Clarke says: "What NICE has done is to impose a restriction on the use of Alzheimer's disease treatments that is so monstrous that if it were applied to one ethnic group in particular, would quite reasonably be described as a crime against humanity."
Friday, January 27, 2006
Cracks in the pan-Canadian consensus?
In a new paper, "Replacing the Pan-Canadian Consensus: 2006 Election Analysis," Ray Pennings and Michael Van Pelt of the Work Research Foundation say that the consensus on which electoral politics has been based since Trudeau, is now being, at the very least, questioned. That consensus includes:
"* a strong central government unified under the maple leaf, multiculturalism and bilingualism;
* an activist government developing new social programs (cf. the argument of some in the recent campaign that national daycare is as desirable as national health care);
* an aggressive rights-based polity that identifies with tolerance over definition;
* peacekeeping over taking on one's enemies; and
* programs targeting the perceived causes of crime over policing and punishment."
Does the Tory victory imply that there are cracks in the consensus or that the Conservatives are ahead of the curve? The authors imply the latter and question, "whether the opposition parties have sufficiently reorganized themselves to be considered viable alternative governments in the new reality of Canadian politics." It is by no means clear that they will:
"The springtime agreement (and resulting 'NDP budget') between Paul Martin and Jack Layton, plus the blatant appeals from each party for strategic 'progressive' voting, indicate some partisan competition, but more significantly, an attempt by both parties to hold on to the old Pan-Canadian consensus. Both parties advanced in each of these past elections a resistance to the 'scary Conservative social agenda' Â? but with Harper unlikely to significantly push that agenda during this mandate, both parties face a huge challenge in the next election."
Stephen Harper, in the meantime, will, if he's smart, work on strengthening his coalition which is much more complex than the social-fiscal conservative divide.Penningss and Van Pelt outline that coalition:
"* Libertarians with an emphasis on individual rights and minimal government;
*Populist/Democratic Conservatives with an emphasis on structural reform and process;
* Social conservatives with an emphasis on social issues. This group is not as homogeneous. There are those for whom immediate action on the hot-button issues of abortion and same-sex marriage are a practical litmus test, while there are others (for whom a description such as Burkean Conservatives would be more accurate) who advocate a broader social agenda. It would include creating space for institutions other than government to be part of the solution to larger problems. This would include a foreign aid agenda that leverages the relief work of religious organizations; alternative approaches to poverty and welfare issues that recognizes a greater role for community (including religious) groups, and a cities agenda that recognizes a place for the church;
* Liberal Conservatives (Reagan democrats) with a self-consciousness based on cultural identity and tradition;
* Fiscal Conservatives with an emphasis on fiscal accountability, and less costly government; and
* Red Tories with some historic affiliation with Progressive Conservative Party, but otherwise not fitting any of the above categories."
They also provide a way to appease the various groups: "The way for Prime Minister Harper to appease the often-conflicting expectations of these groups will not be as much the direct actions of the federal government, but rather the facilitation of actions by others." An example they offer (and explain) is choice in child care.
I am not entirely convinced that the pan-Canadian consensus isunravelingg. I hope it is, but I have my doubts. It is in parts of the country but Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and elsewhere are firmly committed to Trudeaupia.
Tory MP James Moore notes (HT: Adam Daifallah) that the Conservatives won in a number of cities: "Surrey, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Nanaimo, Sarnia, Prince George, Kitchener, Niagara Falls, Brandon ..." First, there are always exceptions to the rule. Second, many of the cities in which the Tories did well have a smaller proportion of immigrants. Third, some of the "urban" ridings the Tories won have both an urban and rural component to them (Kitchener Conestoga and Halifax's South Shore-St. Margaret's).
The comments to Daifallah's post overwhelmingly support ditching opposition to SSM to win urban votes. For reasons I stated earlier this week, his is bound to fail. But Adam makes a good point: "The Conservative Party must find out the real reasons for this problem through actual research and study (yes, talking to them!) and then take steps to fix this." This is more than policy, though. It is presence. Most Liberal constituency associations and/or MPs/candidates send birthday and Christmas (or whatever) cards to new immigrants. (How do they get this information?) They show up at their cultural events. And, of course, there is the sense that Liberals are immigrant-friendly but Conservatives are not, not to mention the fact that the Liberals were in power when the new Canadians came here and they fell that they owe the party. My grandfather came to Canada when William Lyon McKenzie King was prime minister and voted Liberal all his life despite the fact that on policy he was always closer to Diefenbaker and Stanfield. Policies of the day are not the most important factor in immigrant voting. Conservatives must become a presence in immigrant communities if they are ever to win in them. This is not about the next election or even the election after that, but a decade or two long project. That is why it won't get done: the way politics is played doesn't not reward long-term commitments.
I reiterate that there is probably wisdom in severely restricting the influx of new immigrants although that will be an impediment to bringing those already here over to the Tories.
On the Palestinian elections
As several people have emailed me, the Palestinian elections were a case of open terrorists (Hamas) defeating closet terrorists (Fatah). I'm not sure where the progress is in that. I think it was The Economist that noted several weeks ago that Hamas is not afraid of retaliation from Israelis in the form of bullets but might be afraid of retaliation from Palestinians in the form of public opinion. Hamas must now deliver public services and will be held accountable for that; there is a limit in which blaming Israel will excuse their conducts/failures.
The important question is how will Israel and United States and the rest of the West react? how does it deal with the Palestinian Authority? The Daily Telegraph says they must engage the PA even if it is led by a gang that is dedicated to the eradication of Israel. The editorial says:
" They are right to distinguish between a popularly elected party and the murderous designs of its armed wing. But in practical terms there is much to be said for engaging with Hamas, in the hope of steering it towards the renunciation of violence."
But within the next two paragraphs it comes down to "root causes" -- that without Israel's support, the Palestinian economy will collapse and out of despair, Palestinians will turn to violence. The paper says that the "radical movement" should be allowed to take the PA for a test drive and let us all hope that it sheds the radicalism that leads to violence. Hamas has respected a three-month old cease-fire in parts of the territories Palestinians claim as their own so why not give them the chance to prove they can do the same now that they represent all Palestinians. It is time, the Telegraph says, to give negotiations another chance.
The London Times editorial sees things differently, declaring Hamas's victory a serious setback for the peace process. It notes that while Hamas wants Israel destroyed, the PA has numerous daily interactions with Israel from water supplies to trade. Hamas, the editorial says, "will soon find that without Israeli co-operation it can deliver almost nothing." Israeli co-operation will be determined by the level of security it feels it has. With Hamas, that can't be high. Israel must work with the PA -- as long as Hamas demonstrates that it can work with Israel. The West, the Times says, must do the same and the EU, especially, as the largest funder of the PA, must state that it expects greater transparency in government and Hamas's renunciation of terror. The editorial concludes: "The EU funded Arafat’s corruption. It must not finance Hamas terrorism."
Thursday, January 26, 2006
This is a little disconcerting
AP reports: "The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has $25 million in the bank and raised $44 million in 2005. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has $10.5 million in the bank after raising $35.5 million last year." I'd be curious to see whether or not money raised a year before mid-term elections has historically been a good indicator of who wins. My guess is that it is, and not because money wins elections (although it helps), but rather because large numbers of donors are likely to correctly determine where their money is best spent.
Quote of the day
In a decent column on the Democrats backing away from their pro-abortion extremism by that guilty pleasure Ann Coulter one can find this gem:
"Even Jimmy Carter, the Democrats' idea of an Evangelical Christian, has allowed that 'I don't believe that Christ would approve of abortions.' (Though Carter added that Christ would approve of abortion if 'the mother's life or health was seriously endangered or the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest' -- or if Jesus really, really needed the feminists to vote for him.)"
Netherlands deals with its immigration problem
Brussels Journal notes that the Netherlands is going to make it more difficult for Muslims, er, immigrants, to get into the country and settle. They'll have to clear several hurdles inluding an Orwellian-sounding Integration Test that is actually quite logical (potential settlers would have to demonstrate some knowledge of the country they hope to settle in). The Netherlands is the first country to require potential immigrants to pass a test. BJ also notes that, "Job Cohen, the mayor of Amsterdam, called for action to deal with 'French situations' in his city." It is yet to be seen whether the immigration restrictions will add fuel to a smoldering fire or whether it is a pot that once it is put on top of the fire, reduces the oxygen that feeds it.
40 things that only happen in movies
Nostalgia Central has a great list of 40 things that only happen in movies. Some of my faves, with the first two explaining why undercover agent James Bond has survived 20 movies:
#32: "Rather than wasting bullets, megalomaniacs prefer to kill their enemies with complicated devices incorporating fuses, pulleys, deadly gases, lasers and man-eating sharks."
#29: "One man shooting at 20 men has a better chance of killing them all than 20 men firing at once (it's called Stallone's Law.)"
#25: "You will survive any battle in any war UNLESS you show someone a picture of your sweetheart back home."
#17: "If you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts, your opponents will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around you in a threatening manner until you have defeated their predecessor."
#15: "All grocery shopping involves the purchase of French loaves which will be placed in open brown paper bags (Caveat: when said bags break, only fruit will spill out.)"
#11: "Any police officer about to retire from the force will more often than not die on their last day (especially if their family have planned a party). (Caveat: Detectives can only solve a case after they have been suspended from duty.)
#6: "If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone you bump into will know all the steps."
#1: "It is always possible to find a parking spot directly outside or opposite the building you are visiting."
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Who will be our man in Washington?
Frank McKenna is coming home to run for the leadership of the Liberals and CTV reports that Preston Manning or maybe Michael Wilson will be named ambassador to the United States. I always assumed it would be former finance minsiter Wilson but thought the best choice would be Hugh Segal. He is bright and has thought, written and speechified extensively on security, defense and trade issues. His Red Tory credentials are less of a concern as our representative in Washington than they would be elsewhere. But it is unlikely that this politically experienced insider will be shipped out of Ottawa where Stephen Harper can most easily pick his brain. Nor would Hughie want to leave the cushy confines of the Senate.
David Mader notes that the final (daily) SES/CPAC poll was:
Con 36.3 Lib 30.2 NDP 17.5 BQ 10.5 Oth 5.6
Here were the numbers at 57 minutes after midnight (CST), when almost all the ballots were counted:
Con 36.4 Lib 30.1 NDP 17.4 BQ 10.6 Oth 5.6
That's pretty amazing.
Harper is good for feminists: feminist
Feminists are bad for women: me
Over at CBC.ca, Georgie Binks says that Stephen Harper will awaken feminists from their complacency. Binks says that many Conservatives are pro-life, oppose daycare and never reconciled themselves with women joining the workforce. She thinks that this "real" conservatism will rear its head now that the Tories are in power but that women, especially young ones, will fight to maintain the feminist victories of the past half century.
I find it curious, however, that when Binks -- and others -- talks about "women's rights" that two-thirds of her argument is about abortion. Does the advancement of women come down to the denial of motherhood and feminity? And what about the young girls that make up more than half of all aborted babies? Why don't feminists care about them?
'God bless Canada'
LifeSiteNews.com reports that Bishop Fred Henry praises Stephen Harper for employing the phrase. No doubt liberals will attack Harper for this American import.
Day for Foreign Affairs
The case for Stockwell Day being named Foreign Affairs Minister is made by the China E-Lobby:
"Therefore, those of us in the pro-democracy/anti-Communist community, both native born (such as myself) and exiles from Communist China, know Stockwell Day very well. Many of us supported the Conservatives in no small part due to the expectation that Day would become Foreign Minister. To saw we would be sorely disappointed is an understatement.
However, Mr. Harper and his fellow Conservatives should not merely given Mr. Day the portfolio simply because a bunch of Americans and Chinese exiles want it. Mr. Day should receive the post because he is the most qualified person for the job, and not only because he has served so well as Foreign Affairs critic for nearly four years."
Liberals are always stealing from others
This one isn't even about the federal Liberals. No, this is about Patrick McBrien, a Notre Dame theologian and a darling of Catholic lefties, being accused of committing plagiarism and his university is investigating the charges. The theologian apparently borrowed liberally, so to speak, from a Boston Globe columnist for a syndicated Catholic newspaper piece he wrote on Catholic Charities being protested for honouring Boston mayor Thomas Menino, a pro-abortion and pro-SSM Catholic. In typical lefty fashion McBrien attacks his opponents motivations: "They use any ploy they can to attempt to discredit theologians whom they regard as unorthodox and universities which they regard as un-Catholic according to their ultraconservative perspective." He admits to using information from Eileen McNamara's article but not to actual plagiarism.
From Le Blog de Poliscopique:
"Though it may seem surprising, almost as many Quebecers than Albertans have voted for the Conservative Party. According to Elections Canada, 906,741 Quebecers have voted Conservative and so did 930,817 Albertans."
Accentuating the positive
There are two big pluses resulting from Monday's election results. The first is that the resurgence of the Tories as a federalist alternative to the Liberals in Quebec. Contrary to the worry by some conservatives that a partially rejuvenated Tory vote would result in federalist vote-splitting and increase the Bloc contingent in Ottawa, the Bloc numbers decreased. This hurts the PQ and the cause of separatism and these are phenomenonally good things. As Adam Daifallah noted on Monday night, "Federalism has a chance again."
The other good thing is the resurrection of competitive democracy. As the Financial Times editorializes today:
"By most countries' standards, the political pendulum would not appear to have swung very far when one minority government replaces another, and both are fairly middle of the road. But the plurality that Stephen Harper's centre-right Conservatives gained over Paul Martin's centrist Liberals in Monday's election is significant because it returns Canada to a competitive system of two national parties that has been lacking for the past dozen years, and it does so in a way that is hopeful for the country's unity and for somewhat better relations with its big neighbour to the south."
While the gains are modest numerically and there might not be much progress on a number of public policy fronts, in part because of the Conservatives' own "not particularly ambitious" (to use David Gratzer's phrase) agenda, Monday night showed hopeful signs for national unity, a move away from one-party rule, and (as the FT points out) improved relations with the United States. That's a lot of change in one day. Congratulations Canada.
Like I said below, I think that Stephen Harper is likely to win the next election and the election after that. However, so disagree with Paul Wells, who said:
"Stephen Harper will have to continue surprising if he is going to survive long beyond the six or eight months he has been granted by Paul Martin's resignation from the Liberal leadership."
The election could come later this year and that might even be wise because the Tories shouldn't give the new leader a time to prove himself in the spotlight of the national stage. The Liberals are eager to get back to the ballot box because they believe that Canada is eager to have them back in power. For the reason I noted yesterday, I don't think that will happen. But every politician's and pundit's perceptions are different and many Liberals believe that the country is already clamouring for their return. They'll want to pull the plug on this Parliament as soon as they can. The NDP perennially believe they get fewer seats than they should have (were entitled to?) so they might join the Liberals. The Bloc will stick its finger in the political winds before voting against the government. Their over-riding concern might be to avoid an election too close to the next provincial elections, worried that if the Bloc again loses seats that their Parti Quebecois cousins might be hurt in the process. Considering that April 14, 2007 will mark the fourth anniversary of Jean Charest's victory, 2006 will look much more attractive to the Bloc than most of 2007.
Here's what I'd do if I was Stephen Harper: pass a modest hold-the-line-on-spending budget that includes a 1% GST cut, work with the Bloc and NDP to get a real accountability package through, begin new investigations into government corruption with an eye to finding the missing $34 million that Judge John Gomery couldn't find, and, after the Liberals choose a new leader, introduce choice in child care* and make it a confidence motion. All parties will probably oppose it because they oppose the plan, the Bloc might want the earlier election and the Liberals will want to end the investigations into their spending practices from 1993-2005.
* Better yet, and for reasons I explained yesterday, some measure of privatized healthcare could be used instead of the $1200-a-child handout to hand themselves dissolution. In either case, they can go the people with the justification that they need votes to pass their legislation. Private healthcare is popular in Quebec while the Tory choice in child care plan does include subsidies to companies to create new daycare spots which Quebeckers might want to get their hands on.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
There are three Canadas
My initial reaction to the election last night? A good result. The most important thing was not for the Conservatives to win but for the Liberals to lose. They did. Not as much as many of us would have liked but enough to signal a potential significant political shift is underway. There might be a political realignment going on. Might. We'll have to wait 12-18 months to see. Some -- Bob Tarantino and Colby Cosh -- wonder whether Stephen Harper will be John Diefenbaker or Joe Clark; that is, will he parlay the minority government into a majority government or go on to a crushing defeat. There is a third possibility: a series of minority governments. My guess is that the last option is the likely one for reasons I hope to write on later but is essence comes down to this: there is a blue Canada and a red Canada that is roughly rural/exurban and suburban/urban. Outside Alberta, the "city seats" that the Tories won (for example Kitchener Conestoga) are parts of cities with a large rural component. The Tories were shut out of Halifax, Montreal London, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Markham, Hamilton, Windsor, Vancouver, Victoria, and large parts of Winnipeg and Regina, not to mention smaller cities such as Fredericton, Moncton, Saint John, Brantford, Guelph and Kingston. There are a few exceptions (Oshawa and parts of Ottawa and Winnipeg) but not many.
City slickers are liberal -- not just socially but with most of their public policy premises. Single women want abortion and the state to take care of them in the absence of a husband. Immigrants won't vote Conservative because of the party's perceived pro-American sentiment. I'm told that the number one issue for Muslim voters was the no-fly list and that it was the priority issue for nearly three-quarters of Muslims surveyed. Urban voters want money for institutional daycare and urban transit; they care about the environment (perhaps because they look at large buildings all day); they believe that abortion and same-sex marriage are just dandy; they think that to solve the crime problem you just have to figure out the root causes puzzle; they want funding for elite cultural institutions such as art galleries, the CBC and universities. And if all this is delivered, it doesn't matter how the government behaves, whether or not they rip off taxpayers to pad the pockets of their friends.
Voters outside the large and medium-size cities, by contrast, think there is something a little perverse about two homosexuals marrying, that abortion is not something to be indifferent about, that parents can be trusted to make the right decisions about their children's care, that government-led anti-Americanism has real consequences (fewer US visitors in places like Niagara Falls and Stratford), that gun control doesn't work, that criminals deserve to be punished regardless of whether it deters crime, and that government shouldn't rip off taxpayers.
City voters and rural/exurban voters both vote their values but those values are quite different. SSM was not an issue in Toronto but was in most of the rest of the province. Abortion may not be a political issue but a candidate's position on it may signal to voters that he is worried about the moral trajectory of the country. By contrast, as a friend told me this past weekend, Torontonians get very upset if someone sends a poopy diaper to a landfill. These are two completely different cultures.
I think that for the foreseeable future, both the Liberals and Tories have 90 seats as their base, the NDP probably has a base of 20 seats and the Bloc 40 (for now but, I predict, not for long -- more about this below). That means the election is fought over 68 seats -- not enough for anyone to win a majority unless a party take almost every one.
A Conservative strategist told me today that the Conservatives can win city and suburban votes by embracing a national daycare scheme, unabashedly praising SSM and abortion, adopting a "soft-on-crime approach," praising open immigration policies, spouting anti-Americanisms, calling for more money for the CBC and the arts, announcing funding initiatives for cities and universities. To convince such voters they will have to "out Liberal the Liberals." And, he added, if they do this they will turn half of their current seats into two or three way races because with no one representing the values of non-urban Canada, such voters will vote for the least bad option. With Conservatives out Liberaling the Liberals, they cannot be guaranteed these seats.
This is not promising for the Tories because they cannot make inroads in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and the GTA. The last three, at least, is because immigrants won't vote for the Tories. Now I'm actually generally in favour of immigration. Limiting immigration is a little too statist for my liking but it is having (at least) two deleterious effects. First, it is slowly changing our culture in ways (the usual PC stuff) that harms the polity. Second, it decreases democratic competitiveness and that harms our politics. As Tim Denton notes (#5), a smart Conservative Party would work to slow the supply of ready Liberal voters by curtailing new immigrants. I do not believe that there is anything the Conservatives can do in English Canada to win over enough immigrant and urban/suburban voters.
But Quebec is different. Polling suggest that two-thirds of Quebeckers are open to privatized health care -- or at least the option of private care. Stephen Harper could pickup a large number of seats with a moderately social conservative agenda to keep his non-Quebec base along with an ambitious private healthcare agenda. In Quebec he can "hide behind" the Chaoulli decision to advance this cause. It could reap great rewards, break the Bloc lock on the province and secure the Tories in a longer-term majority situation. It would be a gamble but not as great as the chronically timid Tories probably believe.
Canada, I think, is headed for a number of years of minority governments. In time, it may be necessary to form an Angela Merkel-like national unity government. The Conservatives could change this but I think it is unlikely that the Liberals can. My prediction is that we will see a Conservative majority before we see, again, a Liberal majority but the former can only happen if the party embraces private healthcare; the latter can happen only after a series of minority governments and patriotic non-urban voters (for patriotism is a conservative value) vote Liberal in order to secure some political stability. Sharply divided electorates end up a period of minority government and Canada has become sharply divided among three voting blocks: conservative, liberal and Quebec. When the Conservatives realize this, they can turn it to their political advantage.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Adam Daifallh's predictions are pretty close to mine:
Conservative -- 134
Liberal -- 79
Bloc -- 58
NDP -- 36
Indep. -- 1 (André Arthur in Portneuf)
'The pro-abortion activists are right to be alarmed'
That's from NRO's Roe editorial marking 33 years of unadulterated killing of the unborn. The hysterical rantings of the pro-abortion crowd here in Canada notwithstanding (Martin doesn't want to get rid of the word, does he?), this country is very far from even beginning a debate about restricting abortion.
Liberal friend responds to my predictions
Maybe not a friend, but certainly an acquaintence who holds a position on an eastern Ontario riding association wrote to say that I have under-estimated the Conservatives and over-estimated the NDP and Bloc. He called my predictions "safe." He says that the Conservatives will pick up a total of 8-10 in Atlantic Canada, including several in New Brunswick (I predict that the Tory lead won't translate into any new seats in NB but that the party picks up five in Atlantic Canada). He says that the Bloc will lose seats to the Tories and the Liberals are more vulnerable -- "just eight?" losses for the Libs he questioned. He thinks Minna and Ianno are safe in Toronto but congratulated me for being one of the few to recognize how seriously in trouble Bulte is. He said I am "dead wrong" on predicting NDP victories in the Yukon, West Arctic, Kenora and London: "Voters there are not going to support a party with a leader who looks like a fag." Interesting comment, the substance of which I have heard several times in the past few days. He thought that Andrew Scheer loses to Lorne Nystrom and that the Robinson/Fry race is "closer than anyone suspects." He didn't rule out the Tories gaining several Manitoba ridings and perhaps Goodale's, noting that the finance minister hasn't really campaigned hard in the last few days. I've heard this several times in recent days, too. The same goes for Pierre Pettigrew and perhaps others. My correspondent also predicts a Conservative gain of 3-6 in BC and larger than I'm predicting in Ontario. The end result, according to this Liberal riding exec is that the Tories break 155, perhaps going as high as 165. I am dubious but I didn't take into account the fact that some Liberals might not be really campaiging with their all if getting elected means time on the opposition benches.
Also: I've just gotten an email from a Tory operative in Toronto that says that six Toronto ridings are seriously in play and that they are asking for volunteers from other Conservative campaigns in the area that don't have a chance to win to come and help them with final GOTV efforts. If the Tories are seriously thinking they have a chance at a half dozen Toronto seats -- that's one-quarter of a city that originally they were writing off -- then there could be a massive Tory tide across Canada. I'm still dubious. Last time, the Conservatives worked darn hard to defeat Jean Augustine because they "had a chance to upset her" and indeed John Capobianco did better than any other Tory in Toronto but he was still 30 points behind. I'm sticking with my prediction acknowledging that it is the safe one.
Several people also noted that I haven't predicted Belinda Stronach v. Lois Brown. You are right, I didn't. I'm leaning toward choosing Brown but Belinda has the resources of a large regional employer at her disposal. The heart says Brown, the head says shut up and be safe.
In my predictions post I said that Claude Drouin will lose. He most definitely will not; as several readers noted, he is not running again. Also, I should have said that Paul Zed's Saint John seat is safe for the Liberals, not that Saint John will keep the riding of Paul Zed.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
12 election predictions
12. The Conservatives surprise the Liberals and finish a strong second to the NDP in both Windsor ridings and several northern Ontario ridings.
11. As many as two independents could will win. Andre Arthur in Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier and Bev Desjarlais in Churchill. More likely just one of them will.
10. NDP pickup two seats in the territories (Yukon and Western Arctic) despite the leadership of Jack Layton.
9. NDPers trying to make a comeback who lose: Svend Robinson (Vancouver Centre) and Lorne Nystrom (Regina-Qu'Appelle)
8. Former NDPers trying to make a comeback who lose: Chris Axworty (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin)
7. The Conservatives lose two seats they now hold in BC but pickup three others.
6. The Conservatives could pick up five seats in the provinces between BC and Ontario: two in Edmonton, Goodale's in Regina and two in Manitoba. Could. More likely will be a modest gain of three.
5. Exactly half of the NDP's gains are in Ontario: three Toronto seats (Peggy Nash beats Sam Bulte by 5000 votes, Marilyn Churley beats Maria Minna and Olivia Chow defeats Tony Ianno), the other two Hamilton ridings (Hamilton East-Stoney Creek and Hamilton Mountain), London Fanshawe (Pat O'Brien's old seat) and Kenora.
4. The Conservatives pickup at least five seats in Atlantic Canada including at least two in Prince Edward Island (Stephen Harper visited the province twice; Shawn Murphy loses Charlottetown and Wayne Easter loses Malpeque), two in Nova Scotia (Kings-Hants and West Nova) and one in Newfoundland (Avalon where Fabian Manning wins John Efford's seat). Despite leading in New Brunswick according to recent polls (42-41), I doubt the Tories are able to defeat Andy Savoy (Tobique-Mactaquac) or Saint John (Paul Zed).
3. The Liberals will lose eight seats in Quebec, including cabinet ministers Jean Lapierre, Pierre Pettigrew, Jacques Saada and Liza Frulla. Pettigrew loses by double digits. Former cabinet minister Denis Paradis, Claude Drouin (parliamentary secretary to the prime minister), David Smith and women's caucus chair Francoise Boivin also lose.
2. Ontario: Conservatives 48, Liberals 43, NDP 15
1. National: Conservatives 137, Liberals 79, Bloc Quebecois 59, NDP 33, independent 1
"The Liberal ice age need not be permanent. It need not proceed undisturbed. They have put cracks in their own surface, their own protective layer. With humanity, civility, a belief in community and innovation, Conservatives can pursue with determination and confidence what all who have been constrained by the ice want a political party to achieve -- a genuine and real breakthrough."
-- Hugh Segal, No Surrender: Reflections of a Happy Warrior in the Tory Crusade
Here's why: more polls than ever. That's the real Americanization of Canadian politics.
218 reasons to vote against the Liberals
Linda Williamson enumerates them in the Toronto Sun. Consider especially 211-218 -- how we are getting worse in international comparisons in areas such as ethics, peacekeeping, taxes and healthcare effeciency.
I got nothing
No post Saturday evening and probably not much today (Sunday) or Monday. I'm busy with my three r's: reading, 'riting and relaxing. I'll probably post a quote tonight and tomorrow and put up my predictions sometime before the results start to trickle in on Monday evening but otherwise I expect that blogging will be light as I have to write several stories about the election for The Interim -- and edit those which I am not writing. In the meantime, check out The Gods of the Copybook Heading where Publius has his usual weekend links and commentary.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
The Subliminal Party of Canada has some great ads playing on the Liberal theme that Harper is scary. I particularly liked this one and this one.
Friday, January 20, 2006
I thought that pro-lifers were the ones obsessed with the abortion issue
CTV reports that Paul Martin is hammering away at the Tories over the abortion issue. Also, click on Tom Clarke's report on the right, "Martin's repeated attack," to hear how Martin has become a single issue (pro-abortion) candidate.
Against David Cameron
Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf is quite critical of David Cameron. He begins by suggesting that the last thing the UK needs now is another party to crowd the centre:
"The UK has a social democratic party: New Labour. It has a liberal democratic party: the Liberal Democrats. Now it is on its way to having a social liberal democratic party: call it the New Conservatives. The centre ground is crowded. Good, many will respond: that is just where the political debate should be. I would agree if I were confident the ground there was firm. I fear it is a swamp ..."
Wolf takes Cameron to task for not believing in anything. His acceptance of the consensus is "of a vacuity stunning even by the standards of contemporary politics." That is not necessarily a bad thing if the goal is merely to obtain office, but Wolf warns that once elected, an "empty government" is easily "blown over." All sail, no rudder.
The central problem with Cameronism is that "in failing to identify a philosophical approach that could help the party respond to the challenges the next government is almost certain to confront," not only would Cameron's government blow in the wind, it would be impossible to hold to account. Cameron said he believes in trusting the people and sharing responsibility, which as Wolf quite rightly noted, does not ensure that if he is elected prime minister that Cameron can be held to account. Sounds like a formula for escaping responsibility and avoiding accountability.
In defence of David Cameron
Bernard Jenkin, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, writes a longish piece at The Speccie's blog in defence of the party's new leader, concluding, not very convincingly:
"The new direction and new language adopted by David Cameron will seem unfamiliar to some, but he remains wholeheartedly committed to Conservative principles: capitalism and free markets as the most effective system of wealth creation; choice for individuals, even if the State accepts responsibility for the provision of a safety net; enterprise, fostered by a low tax, low inflation economy; individual freedom, guaranteed by the rule of law, administered by an independent judiciary; and national sovereignty, to determine our own policies. These are the principles that were the foundation of one of the longest sustained periods of radical and reforming Conservative Government under Margaret Thatcher. And they remain at the heart of the modern, compassionate Conservative Party led by David Cameron."
It's kind of pathetic that Mr. Jenkin has to write this at all.
Canadian environmentalists needed American help
CTV's story on how Paul Weyrich did not send an email suggesting his fellow U.S.-based conservatives to not to talk to hostile Canadian media that might hope to connect Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to those scarey American right-wingers, buried at the end of the report news that the Sierra Fund did, in fact, request their U.S. counterparts to help get out the word on environmental issues. You would think that if U.S. influence in Canadian politics was an issue, that CTV would highlight the admitted link first.
It's great when this type of headlines aren't about the Tories
Toronto Star: "Etobicoke Liberal riding president throws support to Conservatives."
Those crazy right-wing Tories
Eli Schuster had a good column in the Calgary Herald earlier this week on the Tories have tacked to the centre, perhaps even the centre-left. Schuster begins his piece thusly:
"Ask yourself: what would America's right-leaning pundits and news media: the Washington Times, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and National Review, say about a politician who: a) called for more foreign aid; b) blasted the very idea of private health care; c) advocated raising income tax rates in order to offer targeted, Clintonesque tax credits for daycare, children's sports, and the regular use of public transit; d) called for banning corporate donations to political parties; e) believed in civil unions for same-sex couples, and f) promised no cuts to social programs?
Chances are the so-called Right-Wing Noise Machine would immediately brand such an individual as a left-wing extremist, while moderate Democrats would attempt to distance themselves from the person in question. It's doubtful that even Ted Kennedy would sign on to item b.
Here in Canada that agenda is the official platform of Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party. Amazingly, in spite of Mr. Harper's relative moderation, his party is still accused of being dangerous and out-of-the-mainstream by the Liberals and the NDP."
It's hard to see clearly with your head in the sand
The Japan Times editorializes about Iran's nuclear ambitions and offers some free advice to all parties on how to avoid a confrontation and defuse Tehran's nuclear ambitions:
"Iran should not underestimate or miscalculate such diplomatic efforts. The international community needs to increase its diplomatic pressure in order to enforce compliance with existing agreements. Iran, for its part, should refrain from enrichment-related activities and return to the negotiating table. That is the only viable option it can take."
Except it is not viable. It's been tried and failed. Diplomacy didn't work. There are other options, more realistic (if still unlikely to succeed) options. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, two Iranian freedom fighters say democracy could make their nation less threatening but it appears that they underestimate Tehran's nuclear progress; the fact is the rest of the world doesn't have the time for democracy to take hold and replace the mullahs. Over at the Daily Standard, Vance Serchuk wants to conscript the World Bank in the effort to thwart Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Cutting off its Bank for Reconstruction and Development loans would reinforce the notion that Iran is a pariah state.
Trent Lott is running for the Senate again, seeking a fourth term. Laura Bush, according to her husband, has no interest in one day becoming Lott's colleague. Lott, who has been in Washington for 33 years, elected to the House of Representatives in 1972 and the Senate in 1988. Lott would do well to follow the example of Mrs. Bush who knows that there are forms of public service (promoting literacy) that does not require one to spend a lifetime in elected office.
The worst dictators
Parade has a list of the 10 worst dictators, led by Omar al-Bashir (Sudan) and Kim Jong Il (North Korea). Robert Mugabe is only #9. Fidel Castro doesn't make the list.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
"When I was sixteen I was already writing articles and offering them to any kind of editor whose address I could discover. These articles were of two kinds. The first, which I signed portentously 'J. Boynton Priestley,' were serious, very serious indeed, and were full of words like 'renaissance' and 'significance' and 'aftermath,' and suggested that their author was about a hundred and fifty years old. And nobody wanted them. They could not be given away. No editor had a body of readers old enough for such articles. The other kind were skits and burlesques and general funny work, written from the grimly determined humorous standpoint of the school magazine. One of these was accepted, printed and paid for by a London humorous weekly. I had arrived."
-- J.B. Priestley, Essays of Five Decades (edited by Susan Cooper)
Who's Chirac trying to kid?
Reuters reports that French President Jacques Chirac is threatening use of nuclear weapons against rogue states, namely those who might sponsor a terrorist attack on France. Sure. Two points. 1) It doesn't make sense to try to persuade rogue states (read: Iran, perhaps North Korea) from acquiring or using nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction by threatening such countries with nukes. It's a credibility thing. 2) Who believes that France -- France! -- is going to go on the offensive? It's just not a credible threat.
It is notable that the story alludes to the fact that Jacques Chirac has come under attack for France's expensive nuclear weapons program. Might his newfound bravado be a political ploy to defend the costs of keeping such weapons?
Shocking news -- Iran supports Syria and vice versa
The Daily Telegraph reports that Syria backs Iran in its despute with Europe and the United States over developing a "peaceful" nuclear capability (read: low enrichment uranium for energy purposes that could easily be transformed into weapons-grade uranium).
The Telegraph reports:
"The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, welcomed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and said the Iranian leader had the right to acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. In turn, Mr Ahmadinejad asserted his host's right to freedom from foreign interference."
That's rich. Iran asserting that Syria should be free of foreign influence. Can Mr. Ahmadinejad say "Lebanon"?
Bloc Quebecois is officially pro-euthanasia
A letter from Nadine Charbonneau, "correspondence coordinator" for the Bloc Quebecois, to Euthanasia Prevention Coalition executive director Alex Schadenberg can be found here (pdf). Question: Is it a good idea for a party committed to nationhood of dying (depopulating) province to advocate euthanasia? Former Campagne Quebec Vie president, the late Gilles Grondin, often noted that with abortion and contraception, la belle province was committing cultural suicide. Euthanasia only adds to that problem.
What is about people named Martin?
CanWest journalist Don Martin takes on The Western Standard's Kevin Steel and loses. Kevin Libin has the details at The Shotgun. The story comes down to this: Martin practices what Libin accurately describes as a Clintonian evasion while attempting to deny that Paul Martin spokesman Scott Reid told Martin, the CanWest journalist, that Alberta could "blow him." The problem for Martin -- the journo, not the prime minister -- is that he left a voice mail message with Kevin Steel and thus a little bit of evidence that contrary to his denials, Reid did in fact say what it was reported he said. Libin says that Don Martin denied the story because he wanted to suck up to the PMO because he thought that the Liberals were going to win re-election and he didn't want to lose his sources. Nice journalism.
Liberal dirty tricks
"The Liberal Campaign in the Saskatoon-Wanuskewin riding of Saskatchewan has reached a boiling point after the campaign office was caught calling in to a television show falsely accusing the Conservative candidate of sexual abuse. Tuesday night on Shaw Cable, a caller phoned in falsely accusing front-runner Conservative incumbent MP Maurice Vellacott of sexually assaulting his church secretary at North Park Church.
Vellacott has never been accused by any woman of sexual assault and was never a Pastor at North Park Church."
Looks like Chris Axworthy's campaign is a little ... what is the word? ... desperate.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Nicholls on the attacks against the Blogging Tories
A pair of malcontents are complaining to Elections Canada that the Blogging Tories, a group of, er, blogging Tory supporters, might be in violation of the gag law. The NCC's Gerry Nicholls reacts: "Is this the kind of society we are evolving into? Do people really think it should be illegal to express opinions on a website?" Gerry says that the bloggers have nothing to fear -- for now. Noting that the gag law is designed to limit the influence of money in politics, Elections Canada can't do much about it. (For an explanation of how much money is needed to run Blogging Tories -- and more -- read the outfit's co-founder Stephen Taylor's response to the complaint, here.) But, Gerry warns, if the Liberals are re-elected they might turn their sights on blogs and attempt to regulate their election-time activities.
New ground for the Club for Growth
The Hill reports that the Club for Growth, the pro-free market, pro-free trade, anti-tax lobby group, has, for the first time, endorsed a Democrat. It noted that Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat who backed CAFTA, repealing the estate tax and reforming public education, was worthy of support in his March 7 primary against former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez. Pat Toomey, the Club's president and a former Congressman, said of Cuellar: "This is a guy with guts and commitment to the principles he believes in."
SCOTUS abortion decision -- not an abortion decision after all
Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog has a thorough analysis of the Supreme Court of the United States decision loosening (but not overturning) New Hampshire's parental notification law. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the unanimous decision which did not "revisit [the Court's] abortion precedents. As one commenter to Denniston's blog pointed out, it is noteworthy that neither Justice Antonin Scalia nor Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion that commented on the question of whether abortion is a constitutional right.
Pro-lifers: Read Kathy Shaidle's thoughts on why we aren't winning the argument
Beyond the politics of the day
CTV reports that Bloc Quebecois support has dropped below the 50% threshold separatists had hoped for. With support for the Conservatives well above 20%, Bloc support has fallen, in some polls, to the mid-40s. As Adam Daifallah noted, this is a victory for federalism.
More government programs that will survive the Conservative chopping block
On Sunday I wrote that I was more than a little displeased that a Conservative candidate indicated that FedNor will not be cut by a Stephen Harper government. Today the Halifax Herald reports that political science professor Donald Savoie says that the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, too, is safe following Harper's recent statements in Atlantic Canada that he has no intention of eliminating the development program. I particularly enjoyed this line, once again demonstrating that conservative parties are redudant: "It was a Conservative — John Diefenbaker — who started federal economic development in Canada, and Brian Mulroney continued the tradition, launching ACOA."
Journos are idiots
Jay Nordlinger in his Impromptus column yesterday:
"People are always misusing 'fulsome' — they think it means 'really full' — and I spotted another misuse in an AP story. The story concerned President Bush and Chancellor Merkel — and it stated, 'Bush was fulsome in his praise of Merkel as smart, spirited, and "plenty capable".'
'Fulsome' means 'offensively flattering or insincere.' I doubt Bush was that.
Anyway . . ."
Years ago William Safire, in his New York Times language column, noted the misuse of the word fulsome by some journalist and a friend with whom I was discussing the piece said that he thought the word fulsome was the most misused word after "hopefully."
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
"Democratic politicians rarely feel they can afford the luxury of telling the whole truth to the people. And since not telling it, though prudent, is uncomfortable, they find it easier if they themselves do not have to hear too often too much of the sour truth. The men under them who report and collect the news come to realize in their turn that it is safer to be wrong before it has become fashionable to be right."
-- Walter Lippman, Essays in the Public Philosophy
Perfect illustration of how the left thinks today
A London Times story on the Tony Blair government legalizing brothels that allow up to three prostitutes to ply their trade in a particular establishmnet has this paragraph:
"The Government will scrap the term 'common prostitute' and create a new offence for those convicted of prostitution that provides them with help for drug and alcohol addictions. Ministers want to prevent prostitutes having to go back on the streets to pay fines."
In other words, the government will have non-punishment for violators of the crime as it tries to get to the root causes of the non-offending offense.
I wish Harper had a hidden agenda
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, the one-time democrat who believed that backbenchers were somebodies, has said that he will do everything he can as prime minister to prevent private members' bills on abortion from coming to a vote. Unfortunately, he probably means it. LifeSiteNews.com has the story.
Iran was been warned
CNN reports that acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: "Under no circumstances, and at no point, can Israel allow anyone with these kinds of malicious designs against us [to] have control of weapons of destruction that can threaten our existence."
Remember when Headline News presented ... headlines and news
CNN reports that Philadelphia radio talk show host Glenn Beck is joining Headline News for a daily one-hour "unconventional look at the news of the day" show, including guests and produced segments. Not that I watch CNN or Headline News, but isn't the purpose of Headline News to provide regular updates of brief news stories throughout the day?
Sweden's lying about its unemployment stats
The Globalization Institute's Alex Singleton has the details, with a hat tip to Johann Norberg's work. Instead of a British-like 5.4% unemployment rate, Sweden actually has a worse-than-France 10.3%. It's all about how Sweden ignores International Labour Organization standards (er, suggestions) on how to measure unemployment. Sweden does not count unemployed people, who are looking for work but who are also studying. Also, people who are in government programs designed to increase their employability are not included in the numbers.
The law is not the problem, it's the non-enforcement
Tart Cider on the Justice Department-initiated study that suggested legalizing sodomy:
"I am wading my way through the 278-page study collection of studies unearthed by the Canadian Press and subsequently released by Status of Women Canada, but the overall impression I'm getting is that the authors feel that since the current laws aren't protecting women and children from the negative effects of polygamy, we should scrap the current laws. My overly obvious response is that no law that the authorities refuse to enforce has, in the history of the world, protected anyone from anything."
(HT: Let It Bleed)
Have the Liberals returned the $1.14 mil?
Eric Sorenson is trying to find out if the $1.14 million the Liberals promised to repay the taxpayer following the release of the Gomery report in November has, in fact, ever been repaid. Not surprisingly, he's having difficulty finding out.
(HT: Political Staples)
Been there, done that
The Toronto Sun, Globe and Mail , and Toronto Star all run stories about abortionist Henry Morgentaler saying that he is scared about the prospect of a Conservative government because he believes that Stephen Harper harbours a hidden agenda on "choice." The National Post ignores this story, perhaps because Morgentaler made the same kind of statements during both the 2000 and 2004 election campaigns. In 2000, the announcement came, like this time, in the final week of the campaign.
Most significant polling number this campaign
According to a Strategic Counsel poll, 55% of Canadians think that a Conservative majority would be a good thing for the country. It's 45% in Ontario (compared to 45% who think it would be a bad thing), but a phenomenal 64% in Quebec. The Globe and Mail highlighted it in a huge front-page headline: "55% would welcome a Harper majority."
Question: Does anyone recall a pollster asking Canadians if a Liberal majority would a good or bad thing for the country?
Monday, January 16, 2006
In the two posts below, as one reader astutely and quickly noted, I seem to contradict myself. Or at least the tone of the two posts don't quite jive. On the one hand, I refer to the presumed Conservative victory next week as a "liberation" and on the other I lament that not much will change. Notice I stressed that not much will change policy wise. I don't expect the Tories to create massive kickback schemes to enrich their friends and maintain their power. But that, really, is a minimal expectation -- I don't want the federal government to rip off taxpayers. Canada will be spared the banana republic-like behavior of the federal Liberals. We will be liberated from a corrupt and arrogant party. That is worth celebrating. But we will still (I am predicting) live under a set of laws, program, taxes and regulations that hurt our productivity, dampen the entrepreneurial spirit, and punishes excellence. That is worth lamenting.
Reason 7,256 that while I'll vote for the Tories, I don't support them
From this Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal (via Bourque) story comes a disturbing but typical hint of what the Harper regime will be like: apparently we should not expect any cuts to FedNor. FedNor is, according to its website, "a federal regional development organization in Ontario that works with a variety of partners, as both a facilitator and catalyst, to help create an environment in which communities can thrive, businesses can grow and people can prosper." Great -- the Tories support the federal government holding the hands of Ontario communities. Once upon a time I thought that to facilitate the creation of environment where businesses can thrive, conservatives would have called for tax cuts and less regulation.
Just a minute. I thought Ontario was a "have" province. What are they doing with a development agency? And more importantly, what the Conservatives doing even considering keeping it around? I guess it is yet another compromise the Conservatives have to make to achieve power. The specific context of the following quote is about FedNor (after area Liberal MP Joe Comuzzi said he has assurances that Stephen Harper won't touch the program): Conservative candidate David Leskowski said, "Nothing will be scrapped, but we want accountability." I'm afraid that will be the Conservative attitude toward ... everything. Once again, Conservative parties are proving themselves redundant.
I still haven't made up my mind about how I'm voting. I'm inclined to vote against Ken Dryden but I may decline or wreck my ballot (as I often do). The Conservatives won't be (can't be!) as corrupt as the Liberals but I hold no illusions that they will control spending, significantly lower taxes or eliminate regulations, reduce waiting times for most surgeries or improve federal-provincial relations. What changes they make will be on the periphery with perhaps a single exception: Harper's choices for the Supreme Court will not be nearly as dangerous to Canada as those Paul Martin would appoint. But balance that with the fact that FedNor will not be cut and it won't be difficult to imagine a Canada five or ten years from now that looks too much like the Canada of today. And that's too bad.
One week until the liberation
Or perhaps considering my NFL predictions yesterday -- I was wrong on both of them -- I should refrain from predicting the federal election.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
NFL predictions Part II
I was correct in both my predictions yesterday. I meant to say that I thought both teams would beat the point spread and, indeed, both did. So what's going to happen today?
I like the Pittsburgh Steelers but they are no match for the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts defense is lousy against the running offense and yet when these two teams met in November, Indianapolis shut down Pittsburgh's running game. Unfortunately for the Steelers, QB Ben Roethlisberger had trouble making passes longer than 12 yards. To win, coach Bill Crowther has to shake things up by abandoning the team's first run offense. Not going to happen; Roethlisberger and Crowther are the least imaginative brains in the NFL. The Colts, on the other hand, have Peyton Manning, a very smart and creative QB, able to adjust to plays at the last minute. The rested Colts have dominated the league all year and will dominate the Steelers today.
Don't expect much offense in the Carolina Panthers-Chicago Bears matchup. When they met last month, the Bears won 13-3. Some are predicting that the Panthers, which have scored 67 points in their last two games and combined for 395 yards, could open the game up. But offensive outburts can be blips (and flukes -- the Atlanta Falcons have a miserable defense and the New York Giants were missing its top four linebackers) and the Bears had the best defense this year. Defensively, Carolina had the best short-yard prevention rate and the Bears finished 28th in short-yard carries. By some measures, Carolina's defense is second only to the Bears. A big, spectacular play or capitalizing on an untimely mistake will make the difference in this low-point game and I'm guessing that Bears will be the one to pull it out of the hat even though they are starting QB Rex Grossman who has played just six quarters all season. They don't, however, beat the point spread.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Two-thirds through the season it looked like a miserable year for the Washington Redskins. They were 5-6 and had injuries. With some playing through injuries and others on the bench, they had a gritty comeback, winning their final five games and the wild card to advance to the playoff's second round. But the Redskin season is about to end. The Seattle Seahawks are by far the superior team. It doesn't help that the Redskins offensive spark is running back Clinton Portis and he is about to face LeRoy Hill, a great rookie linebacker that will probably stop the running game. Seahawks fans have not witnessed a home win in the playoffs in 21 years but they will today. If the Redskins were healthy, it would be a great defensive team against a great offensive team. But the 'Skins aren't healthy.
The 13-2 Denver Broncos and 10-6 New England Patriots are thought by many to be closer than their records indicate. The Patriots are better than their record implies and never count out QB Tom Brady. I agree with the sentiment but a look at their comparative defense and offense illustrates that Denver has the edge. They won their seasonal matchup 28-20 but were leading at the end of the third quarter 28-3 and laid back. Denver's run defense is weak but the Pats' running offense is terrible. The Broncos have been underestimated all season and will win this game today. If the Patriots were playing at home and didn't have to play the wild card game last week, this game could go their way. But those ifs didn't happen and neither will a third straight Super Bowl.