Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Do Not Adjust Your Set...

...Tinkering with the new look of the Nexus will continue over the next few weeks.

Conservative Senators Join CHRC Battle

Finley, Tkachuk, Duffy, Wallin stand up for freedom of speech

Several Conservative Senators have arrived late to the battle to reform Canada's Human Rights Commissions, but they have arrived all the same.

Partially in response to a controversial letter written by University of Ottawa provost Francois Houle to Ann Coulter in advance of a planned speech there (which was cancelled just minutes prior to its scheduled start), Senators Doug Finley, David Tkachuk, Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy have begun to speak out against the censorious labours of Canada's human rights regime.

The four have begun to lead a Senate inquiry into freedom of speech in Canada -- drawing long-overdue Parliamentary attention to the excesses of Canada's Human Rights Commissions.

"Despite our 400-year tradition of free speech, the tyrannical instinct to censor still exists," Finley announced. "We saw it on a university campus last week. And we see it every week in Canada's misleadingly named human rights commissions."

"Too many Canadians, especially those in positions of authority, have replaced the real human right of freedom of speech with a counterfeit human right to not be offended," he continued.

Tkatchuk blamed Houle not only for the letter to Coulter, but also for the mob mentality of the protesters who eventually managed to shut her event down.

"The mob took its cue from the provost," Tkachuk said, and noted (in not-so-charitable language) that Houle's letter was a little extreme. "The letter closed with a line that could have come straight out of the re-education camps of Pol Pot's Cambodia."

Mike Duffy noted that, in cases like those pursued against Ezra Levant and Macl
Magazine, the Human Rights Commissions have clearly overstepped their authority, both actual and intended.

"Prosecuting the actions of journalists was clearly not the intention of Parliament when it passed hate speech laws," he noted.

Finley stated that the intention of the inquiry was to draw Parliament's attention to the excesses of the human rights commissions. Even if the inquiry results in no more than that, it has already been successful.

"If we can rededicate our parliament to protecting this most important right, we will have done our country a great service," Finley announced. "But if we fail to stop and indeed reverse this erosion of freedom, we will have failed our most basic duty — the duty to uphold our Constitution and the rights it guarantees for all Canadians."

"In a pluralistic society like Canada, we must protect our right to peacefully disagree with each other," Finley concluded. "We must allow a diversity of opinion — even if we find some opinions offensive," Finley said. "Unless someone actually counsels violence or other crimes, we must never use the law to silence them."

Doug Finley has clearly found the right cause to fight for on Parliament Hill. The battle to reform Canada's Human Rights Commissions will not be won easily -- nor should it be fought quietly.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adventures in Alternate Reality

One has to take a certain amount of amusement at Enormous Thriving Plants' Audrey. Ever the masochist, she just keeps crawling back for more punishment.

In a recent installment at her blog, Audrey waxes triumphally over a video of Democratic Representative Emanuel Cleaver being spit on by a Tea Party protester.

Of course, the problem for Audrey is that the video in question is far from conclusive. Moreover, Huffington Post blogger Andy Ostroy admits it:
"I admit, it's pretty hard to tell if the enraged Tea Bagger intentionally spit on the Congressman."
With that admission, Ostroy undid what a score of pundits, demagogues and left-wing propagandists have worked so hard to construct: the image of a white Tea Party protester spitting on a black Congressman.

The problem being, of course, that the image doesn't hold up to so much of an ounce of skepticism.

For one thing, as one can clearly see in the video, no less than two black Congressmen pass by the protester in question before Emanuel Cleaver turns away in evident disgust. He angrily turns to face the alleged culprit, who has been bellowing at each of the men who passes.

If Cleaver had been spit upon intentionally because he's black or because he's a Democrat, one would wonder what possessed the alleged culprit to pass up the other two potential targets.

At intervals, he can even be seen drawing deeply for breath. He is, after all, an old man.

Of course, Ostroy is clearly intent to milk the incident for all its worth, no matter how inconclusive the evidence:
"some highly suspect circumstantial evidence clearly exists: (1) Cleaver obviously is either a great physical actor or some "spit-like" fluid definitely hit him in the face as he passed the protester, causing his entire body to jerk away from the accused; (2) the angry, visceral reaction from Cleaver to the protester clearly signals that something very bad had just happened. Something beyond simple partisan, anti-reform shouting; (3) notice how the protester's hands are strategically cupped over his mouth, which would conveniently conceal the act of spitting."
Right. He couldn't possibly be cupping his hands over his mouth because he's screaming very loudly.

Of course, Ostroy seems to think he has the answer to that, too:
"Keep in mind that both men at this point are perhaps two feet away from each other, which would mean the rabid protester's vein-popping shouting at Cleaver would easily be heard sans hand-cupping, and that such distance might also make the "spray it" theory a bit of a stretch;"
The volume of the crowd can clearly be heard in the video in question. And as for why the alleged culprit would be yelling so loudly with the congressmen passing so closely by, one is afraid that there's a simple explanation for that, as well:

The congressmen clearly aren't listening. It's only natural that this individual would do whatever is necessary to render himself unignorable. That requires volume.

So when one considers precisely how evident it is that the whitewash being offered by these individuals just doesn't hold up under scrutiny -- visual or logical -- one has to wonder just why individuals like Audrey and Ostroy want this so badly:
"Why can't Republicans then, out of simple human decency, just acknowledge and condemn this unacceptable behavior? They can't. It's simply not in their DNA."
Oh, right. Because Republicans are mean. And indecent. And... whatever.

Apparently the idea that the Republican Party won't denounce the conduct because there's nothing there worthy of a national public denounciation just doesn't compute.

The amount of deception being employed in this incident -- with a clear "say it, don't spray it" scenario being misrepresented as intentional spitting -- makes it clear that individuals like Audrey and Ostroy are actually in a rush to gift credibility to Michelle Malkin.

Audrey accuses Andrew Breitbart of living in an "alternate reality". Yet the only sense of reality that seems to differ from our own is the one in which the video in question is treated as conclusive -- even Andy Ostroy admits it.

But that's one of Audrey's defining characteristics: when reality doesn't suit her argument, she simply attempts to re-define reality.

Call it equal parts being a deluded ideologue and making the mistake of treating the Huffington Post as a serious news outlet:

New Game on Senate Reform Set to Begin

 Conservatives determined to reform Senate, Liberals seem determined not to

The governing Conservative Party is set to re-introduce their Senate reform legislation -- pushing, for the time being, for term limits on Senate appointments.

Rumours had recently abounded that the Conservatives and the ever-recalcitrant Liberals had struck a deal on the length of those term limits; the Conservatives had been holding out for eight-year term limits, while the Liberals have been insistent on a longer period, like twelve years.

It's not an altogether unreasonable preference.

Yet reports that the government and the Liberals had reached a deal have turned out to be premature.

Yet the Liberals must know that now that the Conservatives have a plurality in the Senate -- with a majority likely to follow later in the year -- they won't be able to count on a Liberal majority in the Senate to head off the Conservatives' Senate reform legislation.

In short, they know that they will have to oppose this legislation in the House of Commons. The facade of the Liberal Party being in favour of Senate reform won't be able to hold up.

But as Minister for Democratic Reform Steven Fletcher points out, while the Liberal Party is content to live in the past -- they've certainly been more than comfortable with the current form of the Senate, especially when they enjoyed majorities in that house -- this legislation is part of a campaign of rebuilding the Senate for the future.

“Our government does not believe that appointing senators for terms of up to 45 years is consistent with a 21st century democracy,” Fletcher recently said.

Rarely has the case for senate reform been stated so clearly, and with the Liberal Party reevaluating their approach in the face of a Conservative plurality in the Senate, rarely have the sides been so clear.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What Are They Going to Do, Threaten A Coalition?

 Conservatives to campaign on end to political subsidies

When Pierre Poilievre appeared on CTV's Power Play recently, host Tom Clark was notably disappointed when Poilievre mused about the Conservative Party taking on the opposition parties over per-vote political subsidies, then declined to announce they would table legislation in the house.

Clark may be less disappointed today, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office has confirmed that the Tories will campaign against per-vote subsidies during the next federal election.

This comes after opposition parties voted to end the privilege for MPs to mail ten percenters outside of their riding.

"The position of our government is clear. If all the parties wish to abolish this particular subsidy for mailings outside of an MP's own riding, of course this party would be delighted to do that. Of course, we would also like to see the $30-million direct tax subsidy to political parties abolished," Harper announced.

Some may recall that it was the Harper government's last move to eliminate the per-vote subsidy that led to the ill-fated Liberal/NDP/Bloc coalition push. But with the coalition effective redudiated by Canadians, one may wonder precisely what the opposition would do about such an arrangement.

Interestingly enough, Tom Flanagan suggests that the per-vote subsidy should be replaced with some measure that would allow the opposition parties to receive a comparable level of funding.

"As much as I applaud that, there would be bound to be a backlash from that," Flanagan predicted. "The media would beat you up for deliberately bankrupting your competition and I think the blowback from that would be pretty intense, so if they are going to do it, they have to find some practical way of replacing at least a substantial portion of the lost revenue."

"It's hard to find an approach that would yield the amount of money that's equal to the subsidies unless you go back to some level of corporate donations or raising the level on individual donations," Flanagan continued. "The other one is a taxpayer check-off system, which is used in the United States."

For his own part, Minister of Democratic Reform Steven Fletcher doesn't seem to think that any replacement of the subsidy is necessary at all.

"We believe that the per-vote subsidy is not necessary, particularly in these tough economic times," Fletcher insisted. "People voluntarily donate to political parties in Canada. That's one of the problems with the per-vote subsidy, is that it's not a voluntary donation."

As Tasha Kheirddin points out, however, abolishing the per-vote subsidy would require the Conservatives to win a majority government.

"If the Conservatives fail to get a majority, this promise will be impossible to keep, as other parties will want to keep riding that public gravy train," Kheirridin writes. "And while this pledge may be a vote getter, it’s hard to see it as the defining issue of a campaign, with so many other things on the table."

Indeed, it seems unlikely that Canadians will grant the Conservative Party a majority government based on a $30 million budget line item.

But as much as the last desperate hold-overs from the pro-coalition crowd (those who have yet to realize the folly of dealing with a regressive separatist party) may hold out hope that Layton and Ignatieff will threaten a coalition again, or even try to pull it off, it's simply incredibly unlikely.

Other bloggers writing about this topic:

Walker Morrow - "Pro-active Voter Apathy. I Like That Strategy."

Chrystal Ocean - "Per-Vote Subsidy is Baaaack!"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bill O'Reilly Nails It

It isn't often that Bill O'Reilly finds a surplus of praise at the Nexus, but viewing his interview with Now Magazine's Susan Cole, one can't help but avoid the conclusion that he managed to nail it.

If O'Reilly has one particular talent, it may be to use his reputation as a right-wing ideologue to flush out left-wing ideologues for precisely what they are.

In the case of Susan Cole, he accomplishes this with just one question: why can't Ann Coulter speak at a university campus?

The topic at hand, of course, was the recent cancellation of a Coulter speech scheduled for the University Ottawa under circumstances that seem to remain the matter of some dispute.

Cole insists that Coulter could speak at a right-wing think tank or at a lecture hall (although she doesn't elaborate on where one may find an off-campus lecture hall).

Cole's insistence that Coulter could speak anywhere but a university is very revelatory. It tells us precisely what Cole thinks the role of a university should be -- to disseminate views that she finds palatable, and lock any that she doesn't out.

For example, one would not that the University of Ottawa has no problem hosting a wide variety of anti-Israel speakers on its campus. One would even wonder if Francois Houle would send a letter like the one he sent to Ann Coulter to an individual like Syed Soharwardy, if he were to accept a speaking engagement at the University of Ottawa.

The public discourse on the topic of Coulter has always been a little peculiar. Rarely have the off-beat jokes and hyperbole of one individual been treated as such substantive fare for protest. In the case of Ann Coulter it can be difficult to tell what is offered sheerly in jest from what is truly objectionable -- there has certainly been some of both.

But when clear hyperbole is taken as cause for hate crime complaints it's become clear that Canada's human rights regimes have grown far beyond what should be considered tolerable by a free-thinking society.

It's time to start peeling back and reforming some of the "limits" on freedom of speech in Canada. That freedom shouldn't be one that can be practiced without consequence -- hate speech should still be prosecuted as a matter of criminal law -- but the use of human rights commissions as a method to freeze out speech that Francois Houle and Susan Cole don't like has to come to an end as quickly as possible.

When it does, many may look back on Bill O'Reilly's remarks on the difference between hyperbole and hate speech as the asteroid that led to the extinction of left-wing dinocaurs like Susan Cole.

No Justice for the Death of a President

Released in 2006, Death of a President is a mockumentary about a fictional assassination of George W Bush at a speech in Chicago.

In the film, the FBI and the Secret Service quickly investigate the matter, and arrest Zahra Abi Zikri (Hend Ayoub) for the act. In typical American tradition, however -- even in fiction -- conspiracy theories abound about whether or not they have the true culprit.

The film raises an extremely important question: that of, considering the currently fiercely-polarized state of American politics, especially amidst the modern 24-hour news cycle, whether American officials could realistically be trusted to objectively pursue justice, or whether a scapegoat -- as the fictional Zikri very well may be -- would simply be sought and summarily convicted.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Liberal Party To Keep Shooting 'Till They've Blown Their Feet Right Off

Ralph Goodale practically swears revenge on dissident Liberals

Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff apparently just can't control his caucus.

During a whipped vote on a Liberal motion to include contraception -- and, in thinly-veiled words, abortion -- as part of Canada's commitment to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's G8 maternal and child health package, several Liberal MPs either skipped the vote or openly defied the party whip.

Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale promised "consequences" for those involved.

"When that happens on votes that do involve the whip process then there are internal consequences," Goodale said. "That's something that the party administration will take care of through the whip's office. It's a matter of internal discipline."

"Members know that when they go against what is the official position of the party on a vote that is a matter of principle, like this one, that they will perhaps satisfy the consequences," Goodale continued. "Their perks of office my be constrained."

Among those "perks" are included the privilege of lobbing queries during question period.

"This will be dealt with," Goodale promised. "It will be dealt with effectively."

It would be difficult for Goodale to be more transparent: the message the Liberal party seems to be poised to send to MPs like Dan McTeague, Paul Szabo and John McKay is that when Michael Ignatieff decides to use abortion as a wedge issue, they will disregard their conscience and vote how Ignatieff tells them to vote.

That won't go over well in a Liberal caucus -- and, evidently, Liberal Party -- that is far more divided on the topic of abortion that Michael Ignatieff had given credit for.

It's the kind of thing that may leave one wondering how long it will be before MPs like Szabo, McTeague or McKay may consider crossing the floor to sit with the government -- or at least leaving the Liberal caucus to sit as independents.

And just as pro-abortion advocates must be asking themselves about the precise level of commitment the Liberal Party holds to their agenda today, anti-abortion Liberals must be asking themselves how welcome their views are within that party.

With an extreme kee-jerk reaction to their self-inflicted humiliation, Michael Ignatieff and Ralph Goodale may reveal deeper cleavages wtihin the Liberal Party than they had ever imagined before.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Michael Ignatieff With (Fertilized) Egg on His Face

Liberal Party scandal mongering falls short

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper called upon the G8 to undertake a maternal and child health initiative, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff seemed to think he had been handed a golden opportunity.

By calling on Harper to ensure that the maternal and child health initiative included funding for abortion, Ignatieff must have imagined he could paint Harper as a right-wing extremist and pander to the pro-abortion movement by re-opening the abortion debate.

That move has left Ignatieff with egg on his face, as his party narrowly lost a non-binding motion to ensure that abortion and contraception were included in the plan.

Read that again: Ignatieff couldn't even pass a non-binding motion on the topic.

A number of anti-abortion Liberal MPs declined to show up for the vote, and three Liberal MPs -- Paul Szabo, John McKay and Dan McTeague -- voted against the motion.

"We've been very clear from the outset that this package, this program, would not include abortion," Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner said recently. "That's not what we want to talk about. It's not the direction that we want to go."

Unfortunately, Ignatieff very much did want to go in that direction, and fell short in his blatant attempt to pander to the pro-abortion movement -- a great many pro-abortion activists must be asking some rather serious questions about the Liberal Party's commitment to their starkly ideological agenda today.

Hopefully, Michael Ignatieff will think twice before he so obnoxiously attempts to exploit the perpetual controversy of abortion again.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ann Coulter Set to Escalate the Free Speech War

Coulter's complaint to be most recent of numerous political stunts in CHRC

As the battle over Canada's Human Rights Commissions has gone on, one of the great tragedies over the matter has been the sheer number of times Canada's human rights commissions have been used to prepetrate political stunts.

The most recent of these stunts is set to be a complaint Ann Coulter has promised to file over the cancellation of her scheduled speech at the University of Ottawa.

“I’m sure the Human Rights Commission will get to the bottom of it,” Coulter announced. “I think I’m the victim of a hate crime here. Either what (Francois Houle) did was a hate crime, or the whole commission is BS.”

Houle, a provost of the University of Ottawa, wrote Coulter a letter recommending that she familiarize herself with the limits of free speech in Canada.

"We, of course, are always delighted to welcome speakers on our campus and hope that they will contribute positively to the meaningful exchange of ideas that is the hallmark of a great university campus," Houle wrote. "Promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges."

Ezra Levant, who has been accompanying Coulter on her speaking engagements, described the letter as a veiled threat.

University of Ottawa Students' Federation President Sheamus Wolfe has insisted that Coulter isn't welcome on the University of Ottawa campus. That particular veiled threat was made good on, as University of Ottawa officials cancelled the speech in fears that the protest could turn violent.

The venue for Coulter's speech had to be evacuated after a fire alarm was pulled.

The experience must have been frustrating for many of Coulter's admirers. Speeches by left-wing firebrands like Ward Churchill have taken place at many Canadian universities without terminal interruptions. During her Monday night speech at the University of Western Ontario, Coulter complained about a double standard that may facilitate such differences.

"It’s almost like there is one standard for conservatives and one completely different one for liberals," Coulter complained. "A word is either offensive or it’s not. In a world of political correctness, all words are banned unless they’re used against conservatives."

This is, of course, the language of self-imposed martyrdom. Coulter's remarks to a Muslim student at UNO seemed designed to provoke some sort of reaction, and she would up getting what she wanted.

Now, she clearly intends to use Canada's Human Rights Commission as a venue for a political stunt -- one likely not unlike the one Syed Soharwardy perpetrated against Levant, when he withdrew his complaint over Levant's publishing of the infamous Prophet Muhammad cartoons after Levant had spent an exorbitant amount of money defending against the complaint.

At the end of the day, however, Francois Houle and the University of Ottawa have given Coulter what she desires most: publicity, and means by which to elevate herself into martyrdom again.

In the soon-to-be-immortal words of Adrian McNair: way to go, bozos.

Other bloggers writing about this topic:

The Reaction - "Ann Coulter: Liberal"

Russ Campbell - "Ann Coulter: Right-wing Lightning Rod"

Just Right - "Ann Coulter and Free Speech in Canuckistan"

Monday, March 22, 2010

My, But How Quick the "Progressives" Are to Swallow Regression

"Progessive" approves of Duceppe's extremism out of anti-Conservative fervour

Despite the extraordinary measures taken to evade criticism by the most dedicated of the Chickenwankers, it isn't all that difficult to keep tabs on what that particular lunatic is up to.

In the most recent amusing dispatch from Sister Sage's Musings, CK blogs that recent remarks by Gilles Duceppe comparing Quebec separatists to the Free French of World War II are absolutely fantastic -- mostly because conservatives don't like it, and even accusing Stephen Harper of being a separatist:
"'Squabble and Divisiveness'? Really? He’s attempting to unite Quebecers. As for squabble and divisiveness that you refer to; well, where’s the problem? Afraid that perhaps Gilles might play it better than Steve? Oh, like Steve never made any anti-Quebec statements in his career.

This is classic Steve calling the kettle black here; not only because of his games of divide and conquer against the opposition parties and with Canadians in general, but, what many seem to forget is that ol’ Stevie himself attempted to engineer the break-up of Canada. I seem to remember a letter written by Stevie to Ralph Klein in 2001, all about creating a firewall around Alberta. I suggest you click on the link and read this firewall letter to remind us of how much Stevie loves Canada to remain all together in love and singin’ 'Coombaya'.
Apparently, CK's standard for "anti-Quebec statements" is Stephen Harper factually pointing out that the 2008 Liberal-NDP-BQ coalition agreement represented a deal with separatists. (Some comically accused Harper of "Quebec bashing" for that.)

As for Stephen Harper's "firewall letter" being an attempt to "engineer the break-up of Canada", few claims could possibly be more comical. Among the recommendations in the famed letter were instituting a provincial police force, setting up an Albertan pension fund, and reassert provincial jurisdiction over health care policy.

Astute Canadians would recognize these recommendations very quickly. They are the same powers already asserted by Quebec and (in the case of a provincial police force) by Ontario.

The letter also recommended using the Supreme Court of Canada's decision on the matter of Quebec Secession Reference to force Senate Reform onto the federal agenda. The only remotely radical proposal in the letter was for the province to collect at least the provincial portion of income tax revenue. Again, this is a power that Quebec already exercises.

Interestingly, Quebec's use of such powers has yet to precipitate the break-up of Canada -- something perfectly apparent to all Canadians, including the signatories of the firewall letter.

This is for good reason. These measures all significantly increase the level of provincial autonomy, but they stop far short of full sovereignty. In short, provincial autonomy doesn't equal provincial separation, and CK could stand to hear it if she wasn't so busy trying to evade criticism and debate.

If the firewall letter doesn't provide sufficient evidence for rampant separatism in Alberta, CK insists that many conservatives have mused about separating from Alberta. She's even heard them:
"In addition to that firewall letter, I have heard many an Albertan conservative musing about themselves pulling out of Canada as they feel the rest of Canada (mainly Quebec) are thieves. Wonder why that never makes the headlines of so-called mainstream media? Oh yeah! It’s Harpercon media. Wonder why Stevie never condemns them for their misanthropic behavior?

Oh and Stevie, Soudas and the rest of the Harpercons: I want to thank you for succeeding, yet again, in alienating Quebecers. Remember Stevie, it ain’t just separatists who endorse and vote for the Bloc.
Of course, anyone who cared to look would have serious difficulty locating a separatist party in Alberta that polls at a level even approaching political relevance in Alberta. It certainly isn't anything like in Quebec where separatists have formed the government on a number of occasions and held referendums.

Alberta separatists have largely been ignored by the media because they're marginal and irrelevant. In Alberta's political history, Albertan separatists can boast the election of one (1) single-term MLA.

Nothing at all like Quebec.

Moreover, CK once again parrots the line that criticizing the Bloc Quebecois alienates Qubeckers, noting that not all of the Bloc's voters are separatists.

Which is true enough. A portion of the Bloc's voters are individuals like CK who seem to have deluded themselves into believing that the BQ is a "progressive" political party, despite the vile, pervasive, and quite undeniable racial ideology that forms the basis of the party's political culture.

The Conservative Party could, of course, waste its energy trying to accomodate such fools. But considering the amount of mental energy they've expended ignoring what every other Canadian who has cared to look recognizes as plainly as the nose on their face, that wouldn't merely be a waste of energy, but a colossal waste of time.

Regressive Separatists, Not "Resistance Fighters"

Bloc Quebecois has very little to "resist"

Many Canadians must remember 2008's infamous coalition crisis, when then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion hatched a plot that he insisted during an election that he wouldn't -- a plot that involved, essentially, a deal with the devil himself.

When Dion concluded a coalition agreement with Jack Layton and the NDP, they included the Bloc Quebecois as a silent partner -- they wouldn't receive any cabinet seats (granting plausible deniability to the affair), but would support the government.

Many supporters of the coalition even insisted that the Boc isn't actually a separatist party.

But BQ leader Gilles Duceppe has been more vocal on the matter of separatism recently, and it should be incredibly difficult to make that argument.

Speaking to a general council meeting over the weekend, Duceppe declared that the Bloc Quebecois is a "resistance movement".

"For now, we're members of a resistance movement," Duceppe announced. "But members of today's resistance movement are tomorrow's victors. Long live a sovereign Quebec!"

Considering how much Canada has given to Quebec -- la belle province has been a net recipient of transfer payments from the other provinces -- one may wonder precisely what it is that Quebec has been "resisting".

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon certainly seems to wonder.

"It happens to be the most ludicrous and ridiculous statement I've heard a sovereigntist make in 20 years," said Cannon. "I would hope he would indeed take the first opportunity to clarify his positions."

In some other recent comments that should make any ethnic minority in Quebec significantly uncomfortable, Duceppe made it fairly clear.

"Canada can continue to impose its multicultural ideology, the old Trudeau ideology, on Quebec," Duceppe recently told the House of Commons. "Canadian federalism has nothing to offer Quebec."

There's been no question that there's a regressive racial ideology underlying the Bloc Quebecois -- Duceppe is merely the most recent to let that cat out of the bag.

Only when the Bloc was providing the Liberal Party with an easy path to party would they dare ignore Duceppe frantically trying to stuff the feline back in again -- and the next time the Bloc may help the Liberals get back to the government, they'll very likely ignore it again.

As for the rest of Canada, the racial radicalism of the Quebec separatist movement can never be ignored again.

Other bloggers writing about this topic:

Luke Savage - "A Possible Turning Point"

Chrystal Ocean - "Dmitri Soudas: Non-Critical Thinker"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Glorified Backbenchers?

One more reason to elect the Senate

In an article appearing in the London Free Press, the suggestion is floated that ehc new Senate, in which the Conservative Party holds a plurality, may not be all that different from the old Senate.

Conservative Senate leader Marjory LeBreton insisted that opposition bills will be treated fairly, but that government bills will also be subject to less "filibustering" in the Senate.

Progressive Conservative Senator Elaine McCoy, however, objects to the notion that the Senate would simply push the government's legislation through the upper chamber.

"That's a very odd attitude for a senator to have, that's a backbencher's (attitude)," McCoy grumbled. "I'm not sure that the new senators are being oriented to anything other than that sort of obedience."

Of course, if McCoy wants Senators to be empowered to exercise such judgement, that's just another reason why the Senate needs to be elected.

Canadians have the right to exercise their own judgement on any official who would claim to exercise any kind of significant judgement on their behalf -- especially as far as the legislative process is concerned.

Whether or not McCoy understands this notion will not be seen until Conservaitve legislation on Senate elections is voted on by the Senate.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Ragged Edge of Prejudice

A significant portion of the third part of Folk in America deals with the close links between the folk music scene and the civil rights movement during the 1960s.

Among other artists, Bob Dylan performed at rallies for Martin Luther King Jr in support of racial integration.

The film also highlights the role of the famed New Port folk festival in helping to facilitate the process by bringing many black folk musicians out of retirement to perform live for the first time in years.

The power of music to challenge racial prejudices has been recognized for decades. Elvis Presley brought black rythm and blues and gospel music to an audience that had long been insulated from such stylings. Before long, black culture didn't seem nearly as alien and threatening to many people as they once did.

But Folk in America also reminds us that there are limits to the tolerance of any group, even those purported to be the most enlightened.

It was at the very same New Port festival where so many black folk artists were brought out of retirement, Bob Dylan committed what was regarded by so many folk enthusiasts as a cardinal sin -- he went electric.

Musical purists who were the most eager to accept racial integration -- and rightly so -- were among those least eager to accept musical integration between folk music and rock n' roll. Just as those who resisted racial integration were doomed by history, so were those who resisted musical integration. By the time the Beatles arrived in the United States, the matter was a fait accompli -- much like racial integration was largely inevitable by the time of JFK's arrival.

The march toward musical integration continues today in some ways that would have previously been deemed unthinkable. The combination of folk and country music with rap and hip hop still finds intense resistance, yet such musical stylings continue to find larger and larger audiences continually in search of something new and fresh.

But there are purists among each musical style who fervently resist such integration. While it may be en vogue to dismiss such critics as racially intolerant, this fallacy is largely supported by the notions that few musical genres have ever been as black as rap, and have never been as white as country.

Yet artists like Charley Pride or Eminem (say nothing about Vanilla Ice -- period) would beg to differ. Artists like Kid Rock or Buck 65 even more so.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mark Francis: Super Douchebag

One would have to think that the bizarre amount of existential angst that Chickenwanker Mark Francis feels at the very notion of having to engage with anyone he may disagree with has seemingly slowed his blogging down recently.

Lingering at the top of his blog is a blogpost -- one of many on the internet -- suggesting that former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer benefited from some sort of political interference in his case.

Yet the detail that Francis and the other far-left ideologues trying to milk this case to discredit the Conservative law-and-order agenda have conveniently overlooked the illegal procedure used during the strip search of Jaffer.

Which leads one to wonder if perhaps individuals like Francis believe that individuals like Jaffer aren't entitled to enjoy the benefits of their Charter rights:
Unfortunately, Mark isn't answering any such questions.

One shouldn't confuse the matter for approval or excuse for Jaffer's apparent actions. But the law is the the law, and that doesn't change when applying the highest law in the land to a conservative -- no matter how much individuals like Mark Francis may want it to.

Don't Be So Bloody Sensitive

Liberals back FNUC out of "cultural sensitivity"

In an era in which being insufficiently sensitive to any number of things can result in a complaint to a human rights commission, a great many people are feeling pressure to twist themselves in the name of cultural sensitivity.

For the Liberal Party of Canada, the demands of cultural sensitivity also seem to include supporting the embattled First Nations University of Canada, which recently had its funding cut by the federal government and government of Saskatchewan.

At issue are numerous issues -- ranging from questions of academic freedom related to the search of computers (an arbitration board eventually found insufficient evidence for violation of academic freedom), governance issues related to the Board of Directors, and questions regarding financial mismanagement.

The FNUC board of governors recently offered a plan to solve some of the problems at the university, a plan of which Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl seems skeptical.

There are many good reasons to support an institution like FNUC.

Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale insists that FNUC should be supported because many of its students allegedly wouldn't continue their education due to an alleged lack of cultural sensitivity.

That isn't a terribly compelling reason to support FNUC.

To begin with, many of Canada's universities have Native Studies departments where students at institutions like the FNUC could study in an environment every bit as culturally sensitive as FNUC.

But one can't help but wonder what kind of "cultural sensitivity" it is that Goodale believes the FNUC supplies. Many aboriginal leaders have expressed disagreement and even outrage at the views of Tom Flanagan, who is an outspoken critic of the current model of first nations governance.

The answer to such criticisms is not to insulate students from them. Rather, the proper way to answer such criticisms is to debate them -- an approach taken by the University of Manitoba when students and faculty objected to a speech by Flanagan at the institution.

On the other hand, to insulate aboriginal students from criticisms of their governance model does them a great disservice -- it doesn't lead them to confront any of the numerous shortcomings of that model (including an absolultely massive democratic deficit) so that they may one day fix them.

So, the lesson for Ralph Goodale and the Liberal Party should be: don't be so bloody sensitive.

Sensitivity has its time and place -- a university campus is rarely one of them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

0% Sense in 10% Fliers

Time for "ten percenter" mailings to end

One of the news stories that has generated a quiet buzz in Canadian politics was a recent vote to ban the controversial "ten percent" fliers MPs are elligible to send out.

In recent years this practice has been abused by MPs mailing fliers into ridings held by other parties. The Conservative Party is not the only party to abuse this practice, but they've been the most prolific.

MPs are allowed to send fliers to a number of households equal to 10% of the number of votes they received in that riding during the last election.

The purpose of those fliers is supposed to be to provide information to the constituents of those ridings, but far too often the mailings have been used for crass partisan politics.

The time has long come for the 10% fliers to be stopped. MPs have no business mailing fliers into another MPs riding for any reason. Whichever party is doing the mailing, or whichever party holds the riding makes no difference whatsoever in this regard.

If a party wants to send fliers to residents of a riding they don't hold, there are simple ways for them to do this: nominate a candidate, and start campaigning. The fliers can be sent by that candidate, at the candidate's or party's expense -- not by a rival MP at public expense.

The Conservative Party caucus has, sadly, expressed its attention to ignore the vote to ban the mailings as a "non-binding motion".

Fortunately, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office has since issued a statement insisting that the Conservative Party supports ending the practice, contingent on the agreement of Board of Internal Economy.

Given the way the Conservative Party has used these 10% mailings -- the mailings targetting Liberal MP and long time anti-semitism battler Irwin Cotler (who, among his efforts, can be credited with bringing the number of Nazi war criminals hiding in Canada to public attention) were particularly unfounded and disturbing -- one will believe that the Tories have stopped using these mailings when one sees it.

But it's simply beyond question that it's time for the practice to end -- and it must end now.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Strawman Argument Epic Fail

Enormous Thriving Plants' Audrey apparently wants to mock Jill Stanek for making a "potential people" argument that Audrey doesn't find compelling.

Unfortunately for Audrey, there's just one problem:
Yep. That's Audrey, who loves to accuse her opponents of making strawman arguments, but indulges herself in them at every opportunity she gets.

Enormous Thriving Plants: dishonestly blogging about February 9's news today.

Attention Quebec Progressives: The PQ Doesn't Need You Anymore

Parti Quebecois ends preferential treatment of SPQ Libre

Once upon a time, Syndacalistes du Progessives du Quebec Libre had a very special relationship with the Parti Quebecois.

That is, until Pauline Marois tired of him. Now, the very special relationship -- replete with special memberships for the members of the SPQ Libre and special representation at party events -- is over.

According to SPQ Libre leader Marc Laviolette, it's apparently unmistakable: the PQ is shifting rightward.

“I think it’s obvious the PQ is turning to the right,” Laviolette insisted. “We’ve seen it with Mme. Marois’s declaration on the public sector demands and now this decision by the executive.”

Laviolette insists that Marois can broke no dissent within the party.

“There can be a minority point of view in a party. It should allow the expression of various points of view," Lavoliette continued. "Only Madame Marois doesn’t like it if you go against her point of view. I’m sure that if we’d said yes to everything we would have continued to be recognized as a political club.”

For her own part, Marois insists that the SPQ Libre's special status was alientating other members of the PQ.

But it's hard to overlook the timing of Marois' move: she's cutting the SPQ Libre off just as the Action Democratique du Quebec is reaching a point of critical weakness.

Should the ADQ manage to collapse entirely, that could leave significant portions of conservative voters in Quebec effectively up for grabs. It seems unlikely that a hardline separatist group like SPQ Libre would shift its allegiances to the federalist provincial Liberals (unless, of course, they believed they could sway the party to the cause of separatism).

Pauline Marois and the Parti Quebecois may even be content to let SPQ Libre break away entirely and form its own separatist party if the benefits it can accrue by attracting marooned members of the ADQ.

Of course, the Parti Quebecois has never legitimately been a progressive party -- the racist ideology the party was founded on seems to preclude true progressivism.

Pauline Marois and the PQ don't seem to need progressives like SPQ Libre anymore, and is ready to show it's true colours -- that of an extremist movement that is willing to do anything it needs to do in order to achieve its goal.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Typical Zerb, Typical Sleaze

Antonia Zerbisias concocts imaginary world in which gun registry saved OPP officer

With the tragedy that befell Ontario Provincial Police Constable Vu Pham still fresh in the minds of Canadians, it should be considered unsurprising that Toronto Star columnist Antonia Zerbisias intends to take full advantage.

Zerbisias, as many should recall, has a significant obsession with the long gun registry. Her numerous columns on the topic are a continual re-hash of poorly-conceived and largely-undefended arguments in favour of the long gun registry that, although they are tailor-made to be ideologically soothing to supporters of the registry, don't hold much basis in logic.

Among the various instances of anti-Conservative grandstanding, however, Zerbisias offers this particular nugget:
"Candice Hoeppner, the Manitoba Conservative MP who last May introduced the bill to kill the registry, would write, in an opinion piece published by the London Free Press, 'The long-gun registry is a massive Liberal policy failure and it needs to end. It makes no sense to force law-abiding individuals with firearms licences to register their long-guns. It makes no sense to believe the registry will prevent a gun crime from taking place.'

Well, that's true. It certainly didn't save Constable Vu Pham, who died just northwest of London.
It's remarkable that Zerbisias would spare such candor in her writing -- it certainly doesn't happen very often.

But if one wonders precisely why Zerbsias would insist that the gun registry must be maintained even if it doesn't prevent crime, one may lose their mind at the logical inconsistency of Zerbisias' next remark:
"But it may have saved Barbara Preston, the wife of the accused killer, Fred Preston, 70, who died last night.

Numerous news reports and sources indicate that Fred Preston, despondent over the separation last year from his childhood sweetheart, had headed out to find her.

What happened on that lonely back road on Monday is still unclear. What is known is, Pham, on his way to that 'domestic' call, was shot when he attempted to stop a white pick-up truck. A gun fight broke out, killing Pham and, eventually, Preston.
Zerbisias then goes on to insist that gun control is a matter of gender politics -- which is a canard of magnificent proportions.

First off, gun control is not an issue of gender politics. Secondly, the long gun registry is not actually a tool of gun control.

But even beyond that, Zerbisias' "logic" resembles nothing of the sort. If the long gun registry failed to prevent Fred Preston from driving out to confront his wife with a gun, and failed to prevent the death of Constable Pham, then one may wonder how Zerbisias expects anyone to believe that it would have prevented the death of Barbara Preston.

No. It was the intervention of Constable Vu Pham that saved the life of Barbara Preston.

Antonia Zerbisias oddly doesn't seem to care about that particular detail. Rather, all she seems to be interested in is using Pham's death for some anti-conservative grand standing.

It makes one wonders precisely what standard of editorial scrutiny Zerbisias' work is subjected to at the Star. When this kind of lunacy can so easily be published in the Lifestyles section of that paper, it makes one suspect that the answer is "not much".

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Missing Link of Folksy Copyright Law

Woody Guthrie's music reminds one of a central fact about not only folk music, but about modern cultural products in general: under many conditions, the contemporary notion of authorship can be rendered antiquated.

Guthrie freely admitted that much of his music was borrowed from previous folk musicians, and from songs that were part of what legal scholars deem the "cultural commons". In many senses, Guthrie wrote and re-wrote songs that had already been written and played for generations, meaning that many previous musicians served an authoring function in his music.

As one considers cultural products in the modern context, many different levels of authorship emerge. Music is written not by one individual, but by various musicians, mixed by sound engineers, packaged with art created by graphic designers, and this process is supervised by a team of producers and executive producers.

Through the recording process, a myriad of people fulfil various portions of the author function, usually under the employment of a large multi-national corporation.

In the United States, objections have been raised to the repeated extensions of copyright, in some cases, up to the lifetime of the author plus another 70 years, after which that product is to enter the cultural commons, and be considered public cultural property.

There's a fallacy at the heart of this notion, however. It's predicated on the assumption that a cultural work -- be it music, a book, a movie, or almost anything else -- was created by one and only one creator.

In the case of modern music, it could be argued that multinational corporations that fulfill an author function -- by virtue of having organized the entire process -- could hold onto a copyright indefinitely. After all, corporations are not bound by biology to have a finite lifespan. Rather, the lifespan of a corporation is larely determined according to its financial success or failure.

Moreover, recognizing the various author functions within a cultural product leads to some other challenges. A copyright law that recognized such differences would have to recognize that it may not be logically feasible to copyright a finished product as if it were indivisible, leading separate individuals to seek separate copyrights over their own contributions to that finished product.

A postmodern copyright law for a postmodern era could lead to some complications that even the most brilliant legal scholar may not predict.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How the "Progressive" Left Handles Dissent

Readers of the Nexus must certainly recall a post from yesterday taking Chickenwanker CK to task for her approach to the recent Eileen Olexiuk revelations -- very directly suggesting that the CBC ought to have suppressed the story.

CK gamely attempted to rebut with this little nugget of brilliance:
"Perhaps it's also time for you to be truthful, like your other neo-con friends. Just admit that Muslims don't count and that the torture must go on...we all know that's what you're thinking."
Leave it up to one of the Chickenwankers to retaliate with one of the most inflammatory -- and baseless -- accusations imaginable.

For her follow-up act, CK managed to muster this:
Which is kind of hilarious when one thinks about it. After all, in contrast to her own site, the comment policy at the Nexus is remarkably open -- only one intellectually-useless tool has ever been banned at the Nexus, and that was merely because he never has anything to contribute.

As opposed to the Chickenwanker way, which is to ban anyone who dares stand up to you and win.

Whereas when one's dealing with the Chickenwankers, they'll do you one better when banning you from their comment sections doesn't silence dissent sufficiently -- they'll deny you the "privilege" of reading at all!

Which leads one to beg the obvious question:

What's the problem with that, again?

Why Mt Churchill Is the Wrong Hill to Die On

Ward Churchill acted unethically, dishonourably, and he paid the necessary price

When former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill was fired for numerous cases of academic misconduct, it sparked numerous complaints from the far left.

Churchill had drawn unwelcome attention to himself by publishing an academically dubious essay in which he described the victims of 9/11 as "Little Eichmanns". Eventually, that attention led to the investigation of numerous cases of plagiarism and forgery by the University of Colorado professor.

He was even able to convince a jury that he had been fired for the essay, and not for his misconduct. The jury rule in his favour, but awarded him only a single dollar -- demonstrating that they had concluded that his "Little Eichmanns" essay was a factor in his firing, but that he had still committed academic misconduct.

More recently, Churchill has applied for reinstatement at the University of Colorado -- and he is being backed by the American Association of University Professors and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Both of these organizations, however, are making an egregious error by backing Churchill.

First off, the ACLU and AAUP may be shocked to learn that freedom of speech doesn't indemnify plagiarism. If it did, a great number of university students expelled for the act would have grounds to seek reinstatement at the institutions that expelled them.

It doesn't, and they do not.

But the AAUP in particular is doing itself a tremendous disservice by backing Churchill.

As Mitchell S Handelsmann points out, even if the "Little Eichmanns" essay was in any way a factor in Churchill's firing, it doesn't change the fact that he was guilty of academic misconduct:
"A few years ago, here in Colorado, Ward Churchill got into trouble for things he wrote about the 9/11 attacks. Politicians called for his ouster. Meanwhile, charges of academic misconduct started to surface, inlcuding plagiarism and fabricating facts. A faculty committee found evidence for this misconduct, and Churchill was fired from his job in 2007. In 2009 a jury decided that he was wrongfully fired for his essay about 9/11, but they only awarded him $1 in damages, perhaps because they recognized that he really did behave unethically. (As US News asked, what if you conduct a witch hunt and actually find a witch?)"
The stakes for the AAUP deal with public perceptions of university professors.

As Handelsmann notes, stories like Churchill's cast a pall over academia, making a great many more of them seem dishonest than actually are:
"The media does not report instances of exemplary ethical behavior; those stories would be too numerous and too boring. Thus, the pictures we get in the media are really skewed. We know that most professors are doing very good, very honorable, and very non-newsworthy things every day. So we're sometimes embarrassed but always hopeful."
Catapulting Ward Churchill's case into the national spotlight again would only case deeper aspersions over academia as an institution. Worse yet, it makes it appear as if the American Association of University Professors may approve of Churchill's conduct. It makes it seem as if the AAUP condones plagiarism and forgery.

The Ward Churchill case is the wrong hill for the AAUP to die on. Worse yet, the AAUP will harm the reputations of associated academics who don't deserve to have their repuations harmed in the name of defending a lionized figure of the far left.

Joe Comartin: Civil Libertarian

NDP MP: Illegal strip search a "sweet deal"

When it comes to being soft on crime, few manage to be softer than the NDP.

But the Conservative Party is being accused of being selectively soft on crime by an NDP Member of Parliament. Oddly enough, that MP is being fairly selective himself.

The NDP, many may recall, tend to be rather big fans of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- and for good reason. Among some of the unfortunate (however necessary) effects of the charter is that many criminals who have their Charter rights violated can often walk free on a charge.

As it turns out, that's what happened recently for former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer. Many may recall that Jaffer was recently arrested for reckless driving, impaired driving, and drug possession.

More recently, Jaffer was cut a plea bargain by an Ontario court, which let him walk free after paying a $500 fine.

For his own part, NDP MP Joe Comartin doesn't like it.

“I’m wearing my lenses as a defence lawyer and thinking, ‘Boy, it would be great if I could get my client a deal like that,’” Comartin recently remarked. "I’m inclined to think that there is no reason to be suspicious that there was political interference or anything of that sort but I think it behooves the prosecutor ... or Ontario’s Attorney-General to tell the Canadian people why this happened.”

As it turns out, the Toronto Star has spared them the trouble.

The Star learned that a rookie officer with the Ontario Provincial Police followed improper procedure while strip searching Jaffer. Therefore, the matter was dropped in order to avoid a challenge due to a Charter rights violation.

Of course, with 27 years experience as a trial lawyer, one expects that Comartin likely turned down very few opportunities to have a case tossed due to a Charter violation.

And while one certainly doesn't have to like Jaffer's good fortune -- which was recognized by the Judge in the case -- one has to respect civil rights.

Moreover, respecting Jaffer's civil rights is not the same as approving of his conduct (which is, to say the least, extremely disappointing, to put it mildly), nor does it equate to political interference.

Charter rights apply to former Conservative MPs as much as they apply to anyone else. No one has to like what Rahim Jaffer did in order to respect that. Joe Comartin could stand to learn that.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Torture Derangement Syndrome

Please, please, pleeeeeeeease pay no attention to Liberal Party complicity in torture

When dealing with The Chickenwankers, that collection of "Progressive" bloggers who lacks the courage to decide for themselves who may or may not comment on their blogs, one can expect one thing above all others:

The intellectual dishonesty and cowardice of The Chickenwankers truly knows no bounds.

A typical case in point is Sister Sage's Musings proprietor CK. In a recent post there, she decides that the CBC is afflicted with "Liberal derangement syndrome" for reporting on the most recent development in the allegations regarding the torture of Afghan detainees:
"It never seems to stop. This time, it appears that the CBC is now afflicted with LDS. It is now helping the Harpercons do that whole 'blame the Libruls' thang back in order to deflect and distract. Yikes!"
Apparently, in the mind of CK, the role of the CBC isn't to report the news -- not by a long shot. Rather, CK seems to think that the role of the CBC is to suppress any story that doesn't directly benefit her ideological agenda.

And it would now seem that the CBC is off the reservation.

For those not in the know, it turns out that Liberal party received even more warnings about the potential torture of Afghan detainees than a recently re-revealed story in La Presse indicated.

Recently, Eileen Olexiuk, who was the second-in-command of the Canadian embassy in Kabul, recently reported that she warned the Paul Martin government on many occasions that torture was common in Afghan prisons.

Her warnings went unheeded.

"I don't think anybody really cared, quite frankly," she said.

The Martin government had apparently considered establishing a Canadian detention centre in Afghanistan, or handing detainees over to US Forces to be held in their facilities. Both options were rejected out of fear of a Guantanamo Bay-esque scandal.

Instead, the Liberals ignored the warnings regarding torture, and negotiated a prisoner transfer agreement with the government of Afghanistan that did not allow Canadian forces sufficient monitoring powers over detainees transferred -- an oversight that the Stephen Harper government has since corrected.

An apologist for anything left-wing no less esteemed than fellow Chickenwanker John Baglow insists that if the Liberal Party is guilty of anything, it's of signing a flawed PTA.

Baglow previously insisted that the obvious Liberal complicity in torture be discounted out of "Canadian fairness". "Canadian fairness" apparently doesn't apply to the governments that actually fix the problems left behind by their predecessors.

CK goes on to insist that the Liberal Party isn't very troubled by the notion that their complicitly would -- or, rather, already has -- come to light. Admittedly, Ujjal Dosanjh certainly doesn't seem worried.

"We want to be transparent, and learn what mistakes were made, and who knew what and what was hidden from the public, either by the Liberal government or the current Conservative government," Dosanjh insisted.

Of course, Dosanjh has every reason to be confident. His party has been doing everything it can to make an issue out of the highly-questionable Richard Colvin allegations for months, all while the media declined to report on the pre-2006 timeline.

All but overheard in Liberal Party circles was "seriously, do you believe this? Do you fucking believe this? It's a matter of public record that our government negotiated and signed the PTA under which the torture took place, and the media isn't saying 'boo'. We get to tar the Conservatives for our supreme fuck up! Do you believe this? It's too good to be true!"

If CK and John Baglow are guilty of anything, it's of two things.

The first is trying to sell something that was too good to be true. They both knew, just like any Canadians who have paid even passing attention to this story, that the Liberal Party made the torture of detainees transferred by Canadian forces possible in the first place.

The second, clearly, is an act of historical revisionism. They are just as guilty as anyone else for the phenomenon of the orphan timeline, a bizarre rhetorical approach to the matter that has attempted to omit the entire pre-2006 timeline and the entire post-2007 timeline from the public discourse.

Having invested so much time and energy in peddling a derangement syndrome to anyone foolish enough to listen to them, they simply cannot bring themselves to admit that if the Conservative government is guilty of anything it's of not taking torture allegations seriously enough. The Liberal Party is clearly guilty of the same.

Considering the well-known Al Qaida/Taliban tendency to falsely claim torture, it would be hard to blame either.

The difference between the two, of course, is that the Conservative Party didn't sign a fatally flawed Prisoner Transfer Agreement despite having been warned.

The Liberals did.

CK and John Baglow may consider themselves free to desperately try and spin that.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The NDP: Last, Best Defenders of Patronage

 NDP objects to patronage cuts

If any one portion of the federal budget could be considered implicitly safe for the government to cut, it should be patronage.

Unless, of course, one takes into account the NDP.

It turns out that the NDP is rather offended by some planned discontinuation of some 245 Governor-in-Council appointments across 200 government agencies.

"We expect a real assault on the public service," predicted NDP MP Pat Martin. "We're braced and we're ready for it and we're going to push back if [Stockwell Day] does intend to declare war on the public service. He's in for the fight of his life."

"There's really very little fat to be trimmed unless you want to look at whole government programs," Martin insisted. "This is what has us nervous."

The savings from the axed patronage positions are far from astronomical: in fact, they amount to a mere $1.24 million.

"This goes along with our overall approach to what we're doing in government to maximize our efficiencies," Day asserted. "Service to the public will not be affected."

These are very small cuts.

It's simply astounding that such a small cut -- to some of the most blatantly political positions within the government -- in a government that employs tens of thousands of people can provoke such panic from the NDP.

Of course, this is all just part of the apocalypse that the NDP and its supporters have been predicting ever since Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day and the Conservative Party came to power in 2006.

If the elimination of a mere 245 patronage appointments truly is an apocalypse, it's certainly one that Canadians could sleep through.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Better Yet, Let's Not

Enshrining of "Atheist heroes" seems an awful lot like canonization

Like an annoying rash that proves perpetually resilient to medicine, the Rational Response Squad just refuses to go away quietly, regardless of how many times it humiliates itself.

Indeed, Brian Sapient and company have proven to be particularly resilient to their numerous self-humiliations. Whether it's losing a televised debate to Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, alienating relevant atheists by slandering them, or getting knocked the fuck out for financial impropriety (or mere incompetence), the Rational Response Squad has demonstrated a particular predilection for self-inflicted wounds.

They've also proven to be particularly adept at hypocrisy.

An intriguing case in point is the recent move to place "atheist heroes" on a pedestal. Sometimes the hilarity goes far deeper than the hypocrisy.

For example, in a recent post urging his followers to support "atheist heroes", Sapient draws attention to a campaign waged by a group at the University of Texas at San Antonio by the name of Atheist Agenda.

Sapient treats the group's "smut for smut" campaign -- in which they exchange religious scriptures for pornography -- as a recent development. The problem is that one of the videos Sapient links to is nearly fully one year old. But even beyond that, Sapient's treatment of the campaign falls into some basic logical pitfalls that only someone capable of losing to Kirk Cameron can be trusted to fall into.

Sapient extends his congratulations to Atheist Agenda for having "found a way to be controversial thereby grabbing attention and literally forcing theists to think".

But the problem for Sapient is that he, like his followers, have yet to grasp a very simple concept: ridicule is not really an argument. In fact ridicule, as the RRS has so often indulged themselves in it, is founded on the idea that the beliefs or viewpoints of others are unworthy of logical consideration -- a basic cop-out in the face of intillectual debate, and a strain of ad hominem argument that has become particularly virulent in modern discourse.

Ridicule does not force anyone to think. In fact, ridicule causes people to recoil, and leads to a discourse that is increasingly toxic and resistent to rational debate -- one that the Rational Response Squad actively and intentionally fosters.

But this isn't even the deepest depth of Sapient's folly.

It's become increasingly impossible to ignore the means by which atheism promotes itself using the same means as any other religion. They relentlessly proselytize. They continue to reserve for themselves the right to extol scientific works in manners akin to sacred texts. Now they're even enshrining their own heroes within the imagination of their cohorts -- an act tantamount to canonizing their own saints.

It's just another indulgence that fundamentalist atheists like Brian Sapient and the Rational Response Squad have granted themselves.

But if anyone begins to fear that the Rational Response Squad is being taken too seriously, they need fear not: they could always lose another debate to Kirk Cameron.

Bonus spankage - Enormous Thriving Plants' Audrey apparently takes exception to the idea that Brian Sapient and Kelly O'Connor would lose to Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, and so wants to attempt to re-cast that entire debate to the topic of the "Crock-o-duck".

Contrary to what Audrey would like her readers to believe, that Sapient and O'Connor could manage to lose to someone who bases their argument on that kind of premise just reminds one how intellectually helpless Sapient and O'Connor really are.

There's a reason why their arsenal of argumentative tactics is limited to ridicule. Debating like grown-ups is simply too much work for someone whose intellectual gifts are as limited as Sapient's and O'Connor's -- or, for that matter, Audrey's.

As for Audrey, she's just trying to cover for a previous humiliation. Readers may make of that what they will.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Political Anthems of a Distant Yesteryear

Folk in America is a three-part BBC documentary mini-series exploring the rise of folk music in North America.

As the film reveals, folk music presented musical stylings that were at once quaint and deeply political. The disaffection felt by the Southern United States following the end of the civil war in time gave way to the disaffection felt by a region depressed by the economic disadvantages it faced comparable to the industrialized Northern states.

The music became particularly popular in mining regions like the Appalachians, where they became protest anthems of a long-lost yesteryear.

The yesteryear that produced the folk musicians spoken of in the film seem all the more distant because they haven't merely been displaced from the current day in terms of time -- it has also been displaced by an economic model that was only beginning to be explored at the time when record companies first began to produce folk music.

The popularization of southern folk music provided a model for the popularization of other regional musical forms. A classic example would be the rise during the 1970s of Reggae music. In time, various regional musical stylings would be deeply incorporated into the genre that we today know as folk music.

Like folk music from the Southern United States, reggae music became popular at a time when the Jamaican economy had little else to offer. In fact, the recording industry was one of the driving forces of the Jamaican economy during the 1970s, and it relied heavily on record exports, as a depressed domestic economy provided fewer opportunities for Jamaican artists to sell their music.

Not that they didn't manage -- Jamaicans were often noted to choose between spending their meagre earnings on necessities of life or on the newest LP by their favourite reggae artist.

But in time as reggae popularized it also commercialized, taking on elements of other popular forms of music. In some cases, this helped give birth to new musical genres like Ska or dancehall reggae. In other cases, it simply resulted in stale or uninspired attempts at reggae.

In the time before the popularization of folk music, and the various regionalized genres that have become incorporated within it, music was cultivated within tightly-woven communities and within the home. This lent a vibrancy to the music that many musical genres lack today.

With the rise of web 2.0 and new options for musicians to produce and market their own music, this model has become partially resurgent. But wherever commercial success is to be found, the desire to mass produce potentially profitable products -- such as music -- will lurk.

And when music is mass-produced, the first thing to suffer is the passion and creativity that lends itself to truly time music -- such as early folk.

The Art of the Unfair Criticism

Frequent readers of the Nexus must almost certainly by now know your not-so-humble scribe's opinion of Keith Olbermann: normally, Olbermann is just intelligent enough to sound intelligent, but simultaneously enough of a lunatic to frequently make himself sound like a lunatic.

But there are legitimate reasons to criticize someone, and there are illegitimate reasons.

The recent criticisms offered by PJTV's Alfonzo Rachel squarely slide into the latter category.

Complaining that Olbermann didn't accept an invitation to attend a Tea Party rally in Texas, Rachel accused Olbermann of "hiding behind his daddy". As it turns out, Olbermann's father is in intensive care, preventing Olbermann from leaving New York City.

A great number of negative things could be said about Olbermann's commentary. He is unquestionably bombastic. He thrives on sensational hyperbole, and his recent performance on Jon Stewart's Daily Show seems to acknowledge that he knows it.

But it simply isn't fair to criticize Olbermann for taking care of his sick father -- nor should he feel obligated to hold his tongue on his criticisms of the Tea Party movement (no matter how wild they may often be) until his father is (hopefully) better; nor could he be expected to anticipate any challenge offered by his political rivals.

As far as being a political commentator goes, Alfonzo Rachel excels in the same manner as Keith Olbermann -- that of being an infotainer. He often excels in this particular role, particularly when he works with Steven Crowder. But as far as insightful commentary goes, he could hardly be considered to excel.

Olbermann can at least effectively disguise his infotainment as inspired and informed commentary. Rachel does this far less effectively, and when he targets Keith Olbermann despite the illness of his father, he falls far short of reasonable or responsible.

Alfonzo Rachel would serve himself -- and his viewers -- far better by restricting himself to the art of the fair criticism.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Huh. So Now Social Engineering Is Bad

Dobbin: Social engineering only illegitimate if it's from the right

Writing in an essay published on the ideologically-parochial, Murray Dobbin articulates a few more of his "Stephen Harper the anti-democrat" arguments.

Among some of the points raised in the essay, Dobbin decries what he calls "right wing social engineering":
"One of the most popular concepts on the political right over the years has been the notion of 'social engineering.' The phrase is intended to describe a process by which liberals and the left 'engineer' society - that is, set out to remake it -- by implementing government programs, intervening in the economy, and redistributing wealth so that there is a measure of economic equality (in a system defined by inequality). The implication is that these changes were undemocratic -- imposed by politicians, intellectuals and bureaucrats."
The problem for Dobbin is that in many cases such programs were indeed imposed by politicians. A prime case-in-point is that of Pierre Elliott Trudeau's wage and prize freeze. Trudeau had mocked that policy when it was proposed by then-Conservative leader Robert Stanfield. He then promptly implemented a policy he had essentially promised not to -- after being elected on the back of a rejection of it.

A more recent example is that of Stephane Dion's ill-fated coalition -- an idea that Dobbin had floated well in advance of Dion's attempt. Dion had explicitly rejected the notion of a coalition government when it was floated by NDP leader Jack Layton, only to be thoroughly rebuffed by the Canadian public.

Dobbin's made it clear that he in no way disapproves with left-wing bait-and-switch politics. But when conservatives get elected on the platforms they run on, it suddenly becomes underhanded social engineering:
"Yet rightwing social engineering is exactly what Stephen Harper intends to do, and has already done in many ways. We are now a far more militarized culture than when he came to office four years ago -- with an aggressive 'war-fighting' military. Our foreign policy is now in lock-step with the US This has never been debated in Parliament nor has the Conservative Party actually run on such policies. In spite of the fact of widespread support for new social programs like universal child care and Pharmacare, such programs are ruled out by the Harper government. While his minority government status has so far prevented an assault on Medicare and the Canada Health Act, Harper is on record as supporting increased privatization and two-tier Medicare."
Of course, Dobbin may have been disappointed to learn that Canadians supported increases in military spending not only well in advance of Harper becoming Prime Minister, but also well in advance of Harper becoming the Leader of the Opposition.

Foreign policy typically isn't debated in Parliament, unless it requires the ratification of a treaty, a declaration of war, or supply legislation. Canadian foreign policy is decided by the Prime Minister of cabinet, and has been this way since Canada won the right to decide its own foreign policy.

If this represents an assault on democracy, it was launched well before Harper became Prime Minister. As with other things, details that were once simply accepted details of Canadian politics have suddenly become intolerable to Dobbin under Harper's governance.
"This is true social engineering if by that term we mean the illegitimate remaking of Canadian society and governance. When all the social programs and activist government programs that the prime minister objects to were implemented there was widespread public support for them. Governments were responding to social movements demanding these things: unemployment insurance, Medicare, subsidized university education, Family Allowances, public pensions, old age security. These programs were not imposed by a cabal of liberal and socialist intellectuals and bureaucrats -- they were rooted in the expressed values of Canadians."
This, frankly, is an assertion that will be quickly accepted by Dobbin's far-left base, but it doesn't actually pass the laugh test.

There's a broad gulf of difference between widespread public support and the demands by a limited number of groups for certain privileges in the eyes of the Canadian state.

This argument runs particularly thin when one considers the sheer number of "civil society organizations" created by the Trudeau government through funding doled out by Canada's Secretary of State.

Canadians have very rarely been given the opportunity to render judgement on institutions such as the Status of Women Canada, which tended to focus its efforts on funding a great deal of activism. Naturally, many groups were favoured to their ideological nature, while others were excluded for theirs.

The Court Challenges program became typically troublesome when activist groups began using it to legislate through Canada's courts of law -- all too often the Supreme Court.

This broad collection of activities represented the embedding of a chosen ideology within what Barry Cooper aptly termed the embedded state.

After Harper changed the mandate of the Status of Women to provide real services for women in the community, and dismantled the court challenges progam (though he has yet to replace it with a more suitable program), Canadians had the opportunity to reflect on that during a General Election.

They returned him with a stronger mandate to govern, although the Liberal Party, NDP and Bloc Quebecois attempted to usurp it at Dobbin's urging.

But a Dobbin essay just wouldn't be a Dobbin essay without a foray into complete fiction:
"Harper's determination to remake Canada in the image of unregulated capitalism is illegitimate because it aims at dismantling what decades of democratic engagement has created. It is even more outrageous given the fact this fundamental shift is being undertaken by a government which received support from less 23 per cent of the eligible voters in Canada. Canadians have not changed their minds about these programs and values - if anything support has been reinforced by the perceived threats to these gains. These things are the fruits of democracy -- its ultimate litmus test. Harper's plan to rid the country of this legitimate evolution of social and economic change is true social engineering, and profoundly anti-democratic."
If Stephen Harper had any "determination to remake Canada in the image of unregulated capitalism", one would expect that, at some point, Harper would be moving to do away with the regulation, as opposed to exporting the Canadian model to the rest of the world. Harper has already announced his plans to promote Canada's financial regulation system to the rest of the world when Canada hosts the G8 Summit later in 2010.

But then one remembers that this is a Murray Dobbin essay -- one in which the desire to spread ideological panic takes the driver's seat, logic rides as a passenger, and the corpse of fact is stuffed away in the trunk.

It's a world in which Canadians supported a broad variety of ideological programs because Dobbin said so, Stephen Harper plans to deregulate Canada's economy despite never taking any steps to do so, and in which social engineering is bad -- but only now that he wants to accuse the other guys of doing it.