Thursday, September 30, 2010

Let's Give Them Something to Cry About

Turn George Galloway away at the border

Following an extremely suspect ruling suggesting that political interference was involved in a decision to declare former British MP George Galloway inadmissable to Canada, Galloway has declared his intention to come to Toronto this weekend to deliver his planned-2009 speech.

Galloway clearly aims this directly at Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

"I'm coming to get you with my arguments, Mr Kenney," Galloway crowed. "I'm going to establish either that you're a fool or that you're a knave -- in any case, that the people of Canada deserve better than you."

This is amusing coming from someone whose own constituents judged him to be a fool, a knave, and scum (quite literally chanting at him as such) and decided that they deserve better than him.

And they do.

Speaking in advance of his visit, Galloway continued his personal practice of mendacity.

"I am not now, nor have I ever been, a terrorist or a security threat to Canada or anywhere else," Galloway insisted.

If only it were so. When George Galloway handed over more than 20,000 Pounds Sterling to then-(and now) no-longer Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, he gave those funds (including a portion he described as his own personal money before the British Charity Commission), he gave that money directly to a terrorist organization.

That's a threat to the security of Gaza, and unlawful in Canada.

Moreover, questionss about why he didn't donate these funds to the Red Cross, Red Crescent, Doctors Without Borders or any other internationally-recognized and transparent organization were answered rather immediately when Galloway crowed that his contribution wasn't about charity -- it was all politics.

It's these facts alone that render the recent decision by Justice Richard Mosley counter to law, and should be simply disregarded by the government.

Mosley ruled that no decision to refuse to admit Galloway had never actually been made, as Galloway did not present himself for admission. However, he did claim that the government had alledgedly made a decision directing customs officials to turn Galloway away based on political criteria.

In other words, Mosley disregarded the role of the judiciary -- to judge the law based on objective criteria -- in favour of making a subjective judgement.

When George Galloway presents himself for admission, the Canadian government should promptly put him on a plane back to Britain -- right after collecting Mosley's resignation -- and let Galloway's supporters cry Canadians a river.

David Miliband Retreats to the Backbenches

Aims to give younger brother space as Labour leader

For David Miliband, being defeated for the Labour leadership -- the leadership he was considered the odds-on favourite to win -- to his younger brother must have been a truly humbling experience.

The general consensus within his party seems to be that he has embraced that humility in withdrawing from frontline politics, and resigning himself to a more humble role as a backbench opposition MP.

"The party needs a fresh start from its new leader, and I think that is more likely to be achieved if I make a fresh start," the elder Miliband announced. "Having thought it through, and discussed it with family and friends I am absolutely confident it is the right decision for Ed, for the party, and for me and my family."

"This is now Ed’s party to lead and he must be able to do so as free as possible from distraction," he continued. "This is because of the simple fact that Ed is my brother, who has just defeated me for the party leadership."

David seemed to believe -- at least so far as his statements have been concerned -- that resigning to the backbench was the best way to promote an image of unity amongst Labour.

"I genuinely fear perpetual, distracting and destructive attempts to find division where none exists, and splits where they don’t exist, all to the detriment of the party," he concluded.

"Two adults who happen to be brothers who have different views about the party. It's important to have magnanimity in defeat... It didn't become the bloodbath a lot of people predicted. I'm not dead, I'm still here," he explained. "It's important I don't get in the way of that if Ed wants to make plans to reform, that's his own choice. He must have an open field to lead as he sees fit."

For his own part, the younger Miliband -- and new Labour party leader, Ed Miliband -- seemed accepting of his brother's decision, if not slightly disappointed.

After all, the younger Miliband had previously announced he planned to offer his older brother the role of Shadow Chancellor. That role will now fall to Yvette Cooper.

"He is my brother and I am very clear that, as leader of this party, my door is always open for him to serve in the future, either in opposition or back in government," the younger Miliband announced. "I am obviously delighted to be leader of this party but I am obviously disappointed for him. That is the paradox."

Of course, there is another aspect to the elder Miliband's departure that no one in the party seems eager to talk about: the attempt to erase any trace of Tony Blair and New Labour from the party moving forward.

The elder Miliband isn't the only New Labour stalwart to move to the backbenches. Nick Brown, Labour's chief whip since Blair led the party to government in 1997, was asked for his resignation. He complied.

Certainly no one in the Labour Party -- especially not the younger Miliband himself -- would admit that the ender Miliband was directly asked (or even subtlely encouraged) to step aside. Yet it certainly doesn't seem unfair to ask the question.

The extent to which Ed Miliband could address such a query may also be in question. He's been dressing up his thoughts on the matter in the language of brotherly love.

"The biggest obstacle for me standing in this contest was the relationship with David, because I thought long and hard about it," the younger Miliband said. "But in the end I concluded that if I had something to say which was distinctive, if I felt I would be the best leader of this party, for me not to stand in those circumstances would actually be an abdication of my responsibility, my responsibility to this party, my responsibility to this country and that is why I stood."

"My love for David is very deep, and his for me is too," he concluded. "It has been a difficult time, obviously, but it will withstand this."

That should be enough to keep any uncomfortable questions at bay -- except from the most daring of questioners.

Stephen Colbert, Jonah Goldberg & The Politics of Irony

Colbert blurs lines between fiction & reality in testimony

When comedic pundit Stephen Colbert testified before the US Congressional Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and Border Security, he provided everything that one expects of a typical Colbert performance.

In the words of National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg, "he pretends to be what many liberals claim Bill O’Reilly is. That’s the joke. Get it?"

It isn't necessarily that simple.

"The real upshot of Colbert’s shtick is that he’s mocking people who disagree with him -- or with the left-wing base of the Democratic party -- on the complicated issue of immigration," Goldberg continues.

"Colbert’s testimony reduced the topic to a black-and-white issue in which people on the other side are fools or bigots worthy of cheap mockery," Goldberg writes. "I thought the whole point of Colbert was to stand against that sort of thing by making fun of it, not by doing it. Are our politics really improved by making congressional hearings even more of a joke? Were they truthiness-deficient?"

Not all of Goldberg's complaints are necessarily well-founded. Carol Swain, professor of law and political science at Vanderbilt University, is right to have noted that illegal immigration depresses wages and lends itself to deteriorating working conditions.

Then again, Colbert didn't testify in favour of illegal immigration. He testified in favour of legal immigration, suggesting that the US government should act to facilitate legal immigration by making it easier to acquire a work visa. All in all, a sensible proposal.

This doesn't, however, answer the question of whether or not it should have been considered permissable for Colbert to testify in-character before a Congressional subcommittee. Certainly, Colbert's fans expect certain things of him -- then again, so did the Representatives who called him to offer testimony.

They expected Stephen Colbert to testify in good faith. He demonstrably did not. Unfortunately, this may harm the credibility of his testimony -- although in all honesty, it shouldn't.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

With Whom Would Gerard Kennedy Negotiate?

Kennedy allows his anti-Americanism to shine through

As Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy's bill to grant war resisters safe haven in Canada progresses closer to its second reading, Kennedy is suddenly speaking the language of compromise.

He says he's willing to compromise on the bill, which currently calls for Canada to become a safe haven for conscientious objectors anywhere in the world.

"It's not a requirement for me that that very broad principle now be ensconced in the Immigration and Refugee Act," Kennedy said.

No. Instead, he's more than willing to see his act reduced to making Canada a haven for American war resisters... and American war resisters alone.

Which should really remind Canadians of what this bill is really about: trying to solidify the Liberal Party's stance with voters of the far-left, for whom anything opposing US interests is a good thing -- even when shielding individuals who volunteered for military service, often after the contentious war in Iraq began.

Even Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff -- who is quickly embracing the role of say-anything Grit leader -- is getting in on the act.

"You don't let just anybody in," Ignatieff said. "They have to prove that they have a substantial objection of conscience to forced military service."

"The issue here -- and that's why we want to get it into committee -- is the issue of stop-loss, the issue of where you enlist and whether you're compelled to re-enlist," he explained.

If stop-loss has really been the issue, that would be news. After all, Kennedy's bill doesn't specifically state that it applies solely to stop-lossed servicepersons.

Nor is there any reason to think that Kennedy will consent to have his bill re-written to reflect that. It isn't a compromise that Kennedy has publicly offered. Moreover, the prospect of so-called "conscientious objectors" who haven't been stop-lossed being deported back to the US as they should be would undermine the bill's promise of cheap partisan gain.

But this is all really a moot point.

Perhaps Gerard Kennedy should be reaching out to the Barack Obama administration that the Liberal Party allegedly favours to find out what kind of a compromise he can work out with them.

There's little chance of that. But if Kennedy's bill were about anything other than cheap partisan gain, it's one of the first things he would be doing.

The Softer, Gentler... David Cameron?

David Davis questions scale of cutting agenda

If the 2005 Conservative Party leadership campaign had gone differently, it could have been David Davis, not David Cameron, who ultimately wound up ascending to the role of Prime Minister.

In the wake of any election -- particularly one as indecisive as the 2010 campaign -- there's great risk in assuming that the result was inevitable. History will never know if David Davis could have been the one to defeat Gordon Brown.

But if he had, Davis seems to want Britons to believe he would have led the Tories in administering a more nuanced economic program than simply cutting Britain's hefty deficit.

"We cannot be defined by a purely cuts agenda," Davis declared. "If the only message the public takes away from the events of the next few months is one of retrenchment and loss of services, politically at least, we will have failed."

"We need to rediscover the case for growth — and make it loud and clear across the land," he continued.

In Davis' mind, publicizing a growth agenda was where Margaret Thatcher's government largely failed -- and where Cameron's government needs to do better, lest he fall into the same pitfalls as the Iron Lady.

"The Thatcher Government of the Eighties was demonised for simply restraining the growth in spending," Davis explained. "This one will face even more ­hysterical opposition."

Not that Cameron can afford to allow mass political panic to deter him from his party's course. Gordon Brown and the Labour Party left Britain on the brink of fiscal disaster. But David is right in noting that programming cuts alone won't navigate the UK out of trouble. Rather, these cuts have to be accompanied by strong economic growth.

"We have to get the structural ­deficit down and eradicate it or the country will be crippled," Davis admitted. "But we have to allow the private sector to take off as well. There has to be a growth agenda."

This isn't the first time Davis has offered criticism -- constructive or otherwise -- of his own government. Earlier this year he fought hard against an increase in capital gains taxes. Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats wanted a hefty increase in the tax. After Davis' intervention, Osbourne reduced the hike.

"This was about our ­people -- about people who have retired; people who have saved money all their lives, who have invested in a second home or bought their ­children a flat when they were at university," Davis explained. "These were our people who had been robbed of their future by the last government which destroyed their pension. We could not let them be hit again by a big increase in ­Capital Gains Tax."

While Davis has frequently been critical of the concessions made by Cameron to Clegg and the LDP, he also recognizes a key benefit in having them on board: the ability to take on the public sector.

"We could not take some of the more unpalatable decisions that will involve cutting the public sector and reforming welfare ­without the support of the Lib Dems," he admitted.

Admittedly, it's a little late for David Davis to be giving Britons a sense of what a Davis-led government would look like. The time for that was in 2005. But if David Cameron possesses the kind of acumen necessary to be successful as Prime Minister, he'll take Davis' advice, take it quickly, and figure out some way to lure Davis into his cabinet.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Self-Defeat of Political Tokenism

Diane Abbott must face serious questions about the seriousness of her candidacy

At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, it must be noted that defeated Labour Party leadership candidate Diane Abbott was a token candidate.

Not a token black candidate (although she was keen to invoke race when she declared Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg to be "posh white boys"). Rather, she was a token female candidate.

Looking back on the Labour leadership campaign, it's hard to view her otherwise. She was never a serious contender. She very seldom brought anything of interest to the table.

In fact, the only attention-worthy statements from Abbott during the entire campaign were far-from-Earth-shattering speculation on the role of major donors on the leadership campaign, and questions about the legality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In other words, Abbott strove to be little more than a standard left-wing candidate.

There seemed to be little compelling reason for her candidacy. Her campaign's sole boost came when disgraced candidate John McDonnell -- who obliterated his own slender chances at the leadership by musing about a desire to assassinate Margaret Thatcher while she was Prime Minister of Britain -- withdrew from the contest and threw his support behind her.

His reasoning? The Labour leadership contest needed a female candidate.

If Abbott being a woman was truly the only reason why electors in the campaign -- consisting of Labour Party members, Labour MPs and members of affiliated groups -- would want to vote for her, Abbot's candidacy was in trouble from the very get-go.

This shouldn't be mistaken for a suggestion that women shouldn't run for the leadership of political parties.

In fact, strong female candidates speak volumes about the strength of a particular political party. That Labour couldn't produce a strong female candidate for leadership does precisely that.

Even Abbott's own constituents declined to support her. Of the electors within her riding of Hackney North-Stoke Newton only 20.55% cast their votes in her favour.

While her candidacy may have been based on the best of intentions -- providing demographic diversity in the Labour leadership contest -- it certainly hasn't met those intentions.

In fact, Abbott's candidacy could be considered to have done a disservice to women in the Labour Party. If Abbott's candidacy -- a waste of time and resources by any account -- is the best the women of the Labour Party could produce, the role of women within the party should be very much a matter of question.

This is how political tokenism -- in the name of feminism, race, or anything else -- defeats itself. The next token candidate should leave such matters to serious contenders.

Murray Dobbin Declares Carole James To Be Off the Reservation

Dobbin's hostility toward private enterprise is positively palpable

In a column published in the Vancouver Sun, Murray Dobbin -- who often declares the NDP to be the true voice of Canada, despite their distant third-party status -- has declared British Columbia NDP leader Carole James to be off the reservation.

Her grave misstep? Talking to business.

In the column, Dobbin declares his sheer lunatic hatred for private enterprise while spewing tired, worn-out socialist rhetoric.

He declares BC's business interests to be carpetbaggers, and declares James to be a traitor. Fortunately for James, this is Murray Dobbin. His opening volley hilariously drips with the frustrated sweat of intellectual impotence:
"So Carole James thinks meeting with business is going to help her look like a leader. Good luck with that. No one will take this sad effort seriously – not her supporters, who want her to represent them which means against the reactionary interests of business. And certainly not business who will only be impressed with an NDP leader when said leader commits hari kari for ever having had the temerity to challenge the Liberal party. This isn’t just a waste of time – it is embarrassing and counterproductive.

How does humiliating yourself – essentially apologizing to the most reactionary business class in Canada – make you look like a leader?
It's rather amusing to see Dobbin accusing business interests of being "reactionary", when he's the one blowing a gasket because Carole James so much as talks to private enterprise.

It's hard to tell if Dobbin is more frustrated with his own exhausted ideas, or with the idea that an NDP leader simply may have woken up from that particular slumber.
"James said in her speech that the wealth created by business 'helps pay for the services that make for a just and fair society.' Well, yes, if they actually paid their fair share of taxes that might also be true – but they don’t. The irresponsible corporate tax cuts delivered by the Campbell government in the first week after its first electoral victory means we don’t have the money needed to pay for the services we need. The obscenity of overcrowded emergency rooms, school boards millions of dollars short of what they need, cuts to everything that makes BC a good place to live lies at the door of the BC corporate elite.

This is the business class James is talking to and what do they think about the multi-billion dollar shortfall they are responsible for? Why, they want even more tax cuts.
Of course, the assessment of what business' "fair share" is would have to be subjective. In Dobbin's judgement, private enterprise is nothing more than a piggy bank for government to ruthlessly and endlessly raid while denying them the opportunity to compete with crown corporations (also known as Dobbin's sacred cows).

Moreover, when Dobbin refers to services that British Columbians desperately need, it all too often isn't actually health care or education that he's really thinking about. Rather, he's thinking about whatever idea may pop into his head at any given time.

Dobbin, who has never allowed reality -- such as the reality that an NDP government might need to attempt to get along with the businesses that generate the wealth necessary for them to operate their programs -- to restrain his writing, has proven that he has a lascivious appetite for tax-funded social programming. He could never get enough.

Which in turn leads to outbursts like the following paragraph:
"Did James talk about that while she genuflected before this crowd of carpetbaggers? Did she tell them if they want to live in a civilized society, they have to pay for it? Did she remind them that educated, healthy workers and a strong infrastructure are good for business?"
If the "carpetbaggers" of private enterprise -- who in Dobbin's mind couldn't possibly citizens of BC or of Canada -- want to live in a civilized society, they have to pay for it.

Apparently, the idea that government has a responsibility to try to keep the demands placed on private enterprise as low as necessary doesn't at any point cross Dobbin's mind. No. In his mind, the responsibility of government is to create as business-stifling and growth-smothering a social safety net as possible, and to force private enterprise to pay for it.

And if Carole James, as the leader of a social democratic party, understands the need for governments to work collaboratively with the businesses they expect to pay the taxes to fund their every pet project, he declares her to be Judah:
"This is an NDP leader with no stomach for the truth or social justice – she will never call for tax increases even though everything the NDP is supposed to stand for requires tax revenue."
Dobbin would prefer that she do as he demands: a ritual sacrifice of the geese that he expects to lay golden eggs for BC, all while his own sacred cows not only remain untouched, but forever spared the inconvenience of having to compete for grazing land.

It's as apt an expression of Murray Dobbin's ideological selfishness as he's ever produced. It's a shame that he has to extend his seething hatred of private enterprise to an NDP leader who's trying to do the right thing for her party, and for her province.

Monday, September 27, 2010

What Is the Future of Labour's Finances?

Debt-riddled Labour Party refudiates former Deputy Prime Minister

With the British Labour Party's treasury swimming up to its gills in debt, tbe party has made the peculiar move of rejecting a former Deputy Prime Minister.

In doing so, the party also put some distance between itself and the spectre of New Labour.

Lord John Prescott, former Deputy PM under Tony Blair, was defeated for the office of party treasurer by Diana Holland, an official with Britain's Unite union.

Holland seems to share Prescott's dismal view of the party's finances, even if she doesn't phrase it in the same apocalyptic language as Prescott.

Her plan is to right the party's finances on the strength of small donors.

"I will work hard to build a stronger party in all respects, not just financial, and I will make putting us on a sound footing to win the next election my top priority," Holland announced. "I will make recruiting and involving new members a real priority, helping to build a mass membership movement and also helping to secure our finances by maximising small donations from ordinary members and supporters."

Holland was able to defeat Prescott on the strength of the votes coming from affiliated labour unions. Prescott received 60% of the votes from the party members, but only 0.14% of the vote from affiliated unions.

In other words, Holland received nearly 100% of union votes in the race, in addition to 40% of the votes from party members.

Even with the ballot favourably weighted toward party members, the math seems to add up to a near-overwhelming defeat.

Even with Holland's promises to correct the disastrous state of Labour's finances, the question remains as to what the future of Labour's finances will be.

Given the role the union vote played in her election, Diana Holland may have some favours to repay. Whatever effect that will have on Labour's finances remains to be seen.

Oh God, Antonia. You Don't Say

Antonia Zerbisias blames conservatives for "rape culture"

In a characteristically banal column published in the Toronto Star, Antonia Zerbisias muses about the alleged rise of "rape culture".

Seeing as how many people wouldn't be familiar with what Zerbisias means by "rape culture", it's worth reproducing the definition here. She invokes the definition offered by feminist blogger Melissa McEwan:
Rape culture is encouraging male sexual aggression. Rape culture is regarding violence as sexy and sexuality as violent. Rape culture is treating rape as a compliment, as the unbridled passion stirred in a healthy man by a beautiful woman, making irresistible the urge to rip open her bodice or slam her against a wall, or a wrought-iron fence, or a car hood, or pull her by her hair, or shove her onto a bed, or any one of a million other images of fight-f***ing in movies and television shows and on the covers of romance novels that convey violent urges are inextricably linked with (straight) sexuality."
Zerbisias' evidence for the alleged rise of rape culture is a number of rape jokes offered by the teenage son of University of Alberta professor Lise Gotell, a few accumulating on Facebook (including one invoking Superman, whom she incorrectly identifies as the "Caped Crusader"), and a number of rape scenes in various movies.

As with so many cultural critics, Zerbisias makes the error of assuming that the mere portrayal of a rape in film promotes it. When one considers that her argument refers to rape scenes in Descent, The Last House on the Left, and Observe & Report, Zerbisias' argument essentially deflates itself.

After all, the characters committing the rapes in each of these films are, unequivocally, not to be emulated. In two the films, the rapists are some of the most despicable victims in film history. In the third, the rapist is a paranoid schizophrenic.

Zerbisias being Zerbisias, she isn't finished there. Few Zerbisias features seem complete without a gratuitous potshot at conservatives.

Zerbisias doesn't merely want to chronicle what she considers to be the rise of "rape culture". She also wants to cast blame. And guess who she blames for the alleged rise of rape culture?

That's right. Conservatives.

Zerbisias first quotes Lee Lakeman of a spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres.

“I do think the conservative agenda has a lot to do with this," says Lakeman. “We don’t see public officials standing up for women. We don’t see the denunciation of ordinary violence against women. We don’t see men being held to account in any way that speaks to the whole society’s values."

Zerbisias then quotes Gotell.

“In Stephen Harper’s Canada, women’s groups which could have provided a voice on these issues have been weakened or eliminated," says Gotell, making reference to cuts to advocacy groups. “That’s another explanation for the escalation of rape culture."

Naturally, neither Gotell nor Lakeman offer anything even resembling compelling evidence that conservatives are responsible for the rise of so-called "rape culture". Each prefers ideologically-soothing far-left rhetoric.

Naturally, Lakeman doesn't bother to explain how the conservative approach to crimes such as sexual assault has been any different from the alternative. Nor does Gotell bother to explain why it is that women's advocacy groups couldn't be bothered to raise their own funding after their ideologically-preferential government funding was cut off. (Restoring liberal neutrality to government.)

For Antonia Zerbisias, the interest at hand isn't an honest exploration of this particular topic -- it seems that her sole interest is in smearing conservatives. Evidence is an afterthought if offered at all.

In this particular case, no evidence is offered whatsoever, and it shouldn't be considered surprising.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Has Scott Stockdale Ever Held a Full-Time Job Outside "Independent Publishing?"

The rhetorical hypocrisy of Stockdale is astounding

When one examines Dr Muhammad Elmasry's Canadian Charger e-zine, one has to wonder if it's supposed to be a political rag or a comedy outlet.

Via Charger contributor Scott Stockdale -- whose previous outing entitled "Dr Tony J Hall is right about 9/11 even when he's demonstrably, factually wrong" was really more of a desperate plea for attention -- we are presented with startling revelations about Stephen Harper: politics is his vocation!

Shocking stuff, certainly. From the author who brought us "The Truth About 9/11" -- an amusing article that contained no truth concerning 9/11, but did offer some "truth" -- comes the truth about Stephen Harper: he is personally and professionally dedicated to his politics.

Shocking. Shocking.

In his article, Stockdale attempts to present Harper's life-long political commitment as somehow at odds with his belief in the private sector.

"Ironically, although he's had no experience working in the private sector, throughout his political career he's favored the private sector, continuously trying to reduce government influence over it," Stockdale writes.

He continues with what could only be considered an amusing accusation coming from a Canadian Charger contributor: he accuses Harper of being ideologically blinkered:
"In fact, from his high school days as a member of the Young Liberal's Club, to the time he served as chief aide to Progressive Conservative MP Jim Hawkes, in the Mulroney governments of the 1980's, he continued to find the political parties he served were not conservative enough for him.

Although he ran for the Canadian House of Commons, as a Reform Party candidate in the 1988 election, appearing on the ballot as Steve Harper, not Stephen, in Calgary West, no one has ever accused him of placing the priorities of Canadians ahead of his own ideology.

He lost the 1988 election but remained a Reform Party apparatichik, until his relationship with Reform Party leader Preston Manning became strained over the Charlottetown Accord. Mr Harper opposed the Accord for ideological reasons, while Mr Manning was initially more open to compromise, something that Mr Harper has never been comfortable with.
It's certainly amusing that Stockdale would twin Harper's opposition to the Charlottetown Accord with Harper's alleged disdain for the "priorities of Canadians".

It's unsurprising that Stockdale would consider himself entitled to allude to the priorities of Canadians, as if he speaks for Canadians as a whole. It's outright amusing that Stockdale seems to have forgotten that Canadians, via referendum, rejected the Charlottetown Accord, and that the Accord was strongly repudiated by Quebec.

Amusing, but probably not unintentional.

Stockdale continues with Harper's involvement in the National Citizens' Coalition:
"He did fit right in as president of the National Citizen's Coalition (NCC) from 1998-2002, a conservative think-tank founded to oppose the concept of a national health care system. The NCC supports privatization, tax cuts, and government spending cuts and opposes laws that limit spending by non-party organizations during election campaigns. It has been heavily involved in advertising, political campaigns and legal challenges, in support of its goals of 'more freedom with less government.'

It's not surprising that someone like Mr Harper, with no practical working experience, can consistently view every issue through an ideological prism, regardless of what's happening in the society at large. It seems that he doesn't just want to govern: he wants to change the way people think.
For the moment, allow the sheer comedy of Stockdale, of all people, accusing anyone of viewing the world through an "ideological prism" aside. Such brash hypocrisy can't help but disastrously fail the laugh test.

Stockdale clearly has failed to understand the integral difference between the public sphere and the government -- and he certainly isn't alone in this error.

One of Harper's goals as Prime Minister has not only been to back the state out of the portions of the private sphere in which it has no place, but also to turn back the tide of ideological state intervention in the development of the extra-governmental public sphere.

Moves such as the revokation of funding to various advocacy groups has been denounced by the far left not because of the alleged necessity of their work, but rather because it stripped them of the ability to aportion the state's resources for themselves while denying resources to their ideological opponents.

It took Prime Minister Stephen Harper to turn the tide of the ideological left's colonization of Canada's civil society via the interference of the government.

Far leftists like Stockdale, who have rarely acknowledged that the public sphere doesn't begin and end with the government, have made their resentment of this move quite clear.
"Mr Harper has no problem articulating his ideology, so passionately, in fact that it really borders on being a theology: the idea that government has no business interfering in a free market economy, because the market is divine: whenever possible, let the market decide and we'll all be better off. After all, this modus operandi has worked for Mr Harper and his ilk, so why can't it work for the rest of Canadians, provided, of course, they reject their 'can't do' attitude.

After Pierre Trudeau's death in 2000, Mr Harper said Mr Trudeau promoted 'unabashed' socialism and argued that Canadian governments between 1972 and 2002 had restricted economic growth through 'state corporatism.'

The fact that Mr Trudeau argued his policies allowed more Canadians than ever before to rise out of poverty, meant nothing to Mr Harper. Issues such as the ever-increasing child poverty rate in Canada means nothing to a man who has never experienced poverty in his life, and probably doesn't know anyone who has.
While Stockdale is technically correct in noting that Trudeau claimed his policies helped impvoerished Canadians beat poverty, the objective fact is that Trudeau's policies did not.

Stockdale's cohorts in Canada's far left -- individuals such as Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians -- have noted that Trudeau's policies did not alleviate poverty. In fact, the economically-disastrous effects of policies such as Trudeau's National Energy Policy increased poverty, particularly in previously-prosperous Western Canada.

Then again, it's worth noting that the facts unequivocally do not support the conclusions drawn by Stockdale's cohorts. Barlow et al have always insisted that the answer to socialism's failures to deliver results on sustainable poverty-busting has been more socialism -- regardless of their inability to account for how such spending would be funded.

No topic has ever so amply demonstrated the cluelessness of this cohort as that of child poverty. Stockdale demonstrates himself no less ignorant on the topic:
"Child poverty doesn't have a direct relationship to the market, in no small part, because it's impossible to measure how much more these children, who grew up in poverty-stricken circumstances, could have contributed to society, had they been given a better start in life. "
Stockdale in unequivocally wrong about this. Child poverty does have a direct relationship to the market: impoverished children tend to come either from impoverished families or from single-parent households.

The impulse of the far-left is to address the symptom rather than the cause of this: with social programs justified by emotional blackmail. Canadians are told that if they don't support a welfare state that consumes Canada's wealth at an alarming and unsustainable rate, they're selfish.

The alternative policies offered by Harper and the Conservative Party serve Canadians better by generating more wealth. While Stockdale, Barlow et al have always been preoccupied with who reaps the rewards of such wealth, they've always been content to ignore the question of how Canada's economy will grow to support the growing ambitions of Canadian society -- or to support the growing ambitions of progressive ideology.

Of course economics isn't the only topic on which Stockdale wishes to demonstrate his ignorance. He also wishes to demonstrate his ignorance on the topic of crime:
"His 'tough on crime' policy - although the crime rate is decreasing - is another example of a man, who's never had a full-time job outside politics, being out of touch with the realities of Canadian life. His tough stance on marijuana is a poignant example of his ideology trumping reality: The Harper government is proposing automatic jail terms for anyone caught growing five or more marijuana plants. On this issue in particular, Mr Harper is at odds with even his own ideological brethren: columnists in the National Post are calling for the legalization of marijuana, and arch-right-wing ideologue Conrad Black described the war on drugs as 'the corrupt, sociopathic war on drugs.'

Ironically, Mr. Harper has no qualms about filling our already overcrowded prison system with marijuana users, at a cost to taxpayers of upwards of $100,000 per inmate, per year, not to mention the reduced job prospects these inmates will face upon being released back into society.
Of course, what Stockton chooses to ignore are the increasing numbers of Canadians who simply choose not to report crimes of which they are a victim. Stockwell Day was mocked for invoking "unreproted crime" in support of the Conservative Party's move to build new prisons -- replacing prisons that are often as much as 50 years old and accruing maintenance deficits -- only to have his assertions turn out to be largely true.

Moreover Stockdale, like many "drug war" opponents, overlooked that the Harper government's anti-drug policies focused as much on treatment of addicts as it did on enforcing stronger measures on the distribution of illegal drugs.

Thos accusing the Harper government of a US-style war on drugs -- in which users are targetted through a "three strikes" policy -- are simply fibbing.

Stockdale goes on to peddle standard anti-war rhetoric so banal that to explore it here would do readers a disservice before concluding with his "surprise" that "a person with such rigid ideological views could manage to become Prime Minister of a democratic country like Canada". He goes on to essentially blame the Conservative Party's success fundraising.

The reasong for the Conservative Party's success is its success. The reason for the Liberal Party's failures is its failures. Brilliant!

But after one gets through vetting all of the factual and conceptual flaws in Stockdale's work, the ultimate irony still presents itself.

Scott Stockdale's LinkedIn profile lists him as being an "Independent Publishing Professional" and...

...Nothing else.

Try as one might, one will simply never find an "industry" (if one would indeed call it that) as ideologically-insular and blinkered as the independent publishing industry. In fact, the reason why individuals such as Dr Mohammad Elmasry -- the founder of the Canadian Charger -- found such publications is because other publications (such as, say, Macleans Magazine) aren't ideologically-blinkered enough for them.

The irony and hypocrisy abounds. But Stockdale's article begs a central question:

Has Scott Stockdale ever held a full-time job outside of "independent publishing"?

Ed Miliband Wins By a Hair

Younger Miliband top second choice on Labour ballot

After months of underwhelming campaigning, the British Labour Party has finally named its successor to Gordon Brown.

Ed Miliband accumulated enough second-choice votes on the preferential ballot to edge out his older brother David by less than 1%.

In a rather unambitious victory speech, Miliband pledged to lead his party back to power.

"My aim is to return our party to power," he announced. "This is a tough challenge. It is a long journey. But our party has made the first step in electing a leader from a new generation."

But instead of merely offering knee-jerk reaction to the coalition government of the Tories and Liberal Democrats, Miliband has promised a comparatively collaborative approach to government.

"As well as setting out an alternative when the government gets it wrong, we will support it when it is right," he continued.

Yet at the conclusion of a leadership campaign in which moving beyond Tony Blair's famed New Labour was often a central theme, Miliband more or less promised to re-deliver the magic that created New Labour.

"We have a lot of ground to make up if we are to rebuild the broad coalition of support that swept us to power in 1997," he announced. "We must never again lose touch with the mainstream of our country."

Of course, claiming an eventual margin of victory of scarcely more than 1%, Ed Miliband can hardly claim to represent the mainstream of his own party, let alone of Britain.

However Ed Miliband chooses to approach this detail, he may want to send a thank-you card to Ed Balls.

The ballot-by-ballot breakdown of the preferential vote shows that, until Ed Balls was eliminated, the younger Miliband trailed his older brother David by what eventually turned out to be the margin of victory.

It wasn't until the final ballot that the vote shifted in favour of the younger Miliband.

The intrigue of the preferential ballot is that it allows a candidate to effectively play the role of kingmaker without having to directly endorse another candidate.

Ed Miliband has already offered his brother David the key role of shadow Chancellor. It's certainly fair at this point to wonder what Miliband is prepared to offer Balls.

In the meantime, Britain -- and the rest of the world -- will wait to see what Ed Miliband has in store for his party.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Unravelling the Puzzle of Neo-Conservatism

The War Party, a BBC documentary about American neo-conservatives and their influence on the Iraq War.

But what it fails to provide is the context for the neo-conservative belief in evil.

As it turns out, neo-conservatives were originally anti-communist liberals who joined the conservative movement because they found contemporary liberalism to be too soft on communism.

While the Holocaust does weigh heavy in the mind of neo-conservatives (who, despite the protestation of modern contemporary liberals, recognize that it was born of a left-wing regime), Stalinist atrocities like Holodomor weigh heavier.

That communism -- and its sister ideology, national socialism (with particular emphasis on the socialism for the benefit of the wilfully ignorant) is evidence to many neo-conservatives that evil very much does exist in the world.

More contemporary conservatives may be more likely to question the prospect of evil's existence at all.

Just as "neo-conservative" was coined as an insult by that era's contemporary conservatives, it has been embraced as an insult by this era's contemporary liberals, who are often all too unaware of what neo-conservatism truly is.

Neo-conservatives embraced the label because there's nothing shameful in it. Neo-conservatives recognize that there are various threats in the world. During the Cold War it was communism. Today, it's terrorism.

They also recognize that evil often manifests itself through these threats.

Unlike the contemporary liberals of the 1970s and '80s, neo-conservatives intend to never understimate the danger posed by those threats, and intend to never forget the kinds of evil acts that can be prepetrated in their advancement.

This isn't to be said that neo-conservatives themselves don't pose any dangers. As the Iraq War demonstrates, their inability to practice restraint in the course of implimenting this agenda often harms it.

In the war on terror, the key front is in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iraq has only been a wholesale distraction from this -- something that neo-conservatives in the Democratic party have seemingly recognized better than those among the Republicans.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Like Father, Like Son -- The Disingenuous Justin Trudeau

Considering the depths the Liberal Party sunk to in order to divide Canadians over the long-gun registry -- invoking support for the registry in urban regions over opposition in rural regions -- one should find it utterly comical to hear Liberal MP Justin Trudeau lecturing protesters about the Liberal Party's desires to "bring Canada together instead of allowing us to be driven apart".

The extent to which Trudeau -- like so many proponents of the long-gun registry -- chooses to argue in absence of fact is truly remarkable. When his "uniting Canadians" rhetoric falls flat and Trudeau is called upon to name a single Canadian saved by the long-gun registry, Trudeau insists that the registry has saved "many" Canadians, and refers to suicide statistics.

Trudeau is clearly ignorant of the statistics regarding suicide in Canada, and perhaps wilfully so.

As Dr Gary Mauser points out, the reduction in suicide with firearms -- actually the result of licensing and screening processes, rather than the registry -- has been accompanied by increasing rates of suicide by other means.

"Suicide rates have slowly declined over two decades. Firearm suicides have declined as well, but suicides by hanging have soared," Dr Mauser notes. "Some call this a success. In 1991, 3,500 people took their own life; in 2005, 3,700. The long-gun registry has not saved any lives."

Not only can Trudeau not present one single fact supporting maintaining the long-gun registry, but he refuses to acknowledge any fact that challenges his views.

For example, Trudeau mentions the support of the long-gun registry by the Canadian Association of Chiefss of Police. When asked about the CACP accepting a $115,000 donation from the CGI Group, the company that produces the software for the long-gun registry.

Trudeau suggests that "you're giving me facts that may or may not be true".

Not only is this fact true, but one of CACP's chief ethicists, Dr John Jones, resigned from the group's ethics committee over this and other matters.

With his brief attempt to divert into arguing based on facts falling flat, Trudeau instead reverts back to his disingenuous "dividing Canadians" tripe. What he didn't account for was that he was speaking to a group of urban long-gun registry opponents.


Upon being confronted with this fact, Trudeau then attempts to fall back on arguments related to domestic violence. When asked why resources used to fund the long-gun registry aren't used to fund women's shelters instead, Trudeau simply retreats altogether.

Fortunately, the issue of the long-gun registry isn't going to go away, no matter how badly Trudeau and his fellow Liberals would like it to. Justin Trudeau will have plenty of opportunities to use this issue to demonstrate that he is every bit as disingenuous as his father was.

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Iran?

US declines to show at UN for Harper speech, shows up for Ahmadinjad 9/11 fibs

If any evidence were needed to demonstrate precisely how warped US President Barack Obama's priorities really are, it was found today at the United Nations.

With three countries -- Canada, Germany, and Portugal -- vying for a rotating seat on the UN Security Council, one would imagine that someone with a direct stake in whomever occupies that seat would take enough interest to listen to the speeches delivered by each country before the General Assembly.

As a permanent member of the Security council, the United States had such a stake. But where was President Obama while Prime Minister Stephen Harper was delivering his speech?

At lunch, with much of the rest of the General Assembly.

Obama would return for, of all things, a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmaedinejad took his moment in the sun before the US President to peddle 9/11 "truth" theories, which prompted much of the General Assembly to walk out.

“Some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy, and its grips on the Middle East, in order to save the Zionist regime,” Ahmadinejad announced.

At which point the US delegation walked out.

One delegation that didn't walk out was the Canadian delegation. Canada had the decency to boycott Ahmadinejad's speech.

If anything underscores the warped priorities of Obama's diplomatic agenda, it's unquestionably this.

The US delegation fails to show up to hear Harper's speech, and instead takes a lunch break that they should have scheduled while Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was at the podium spewing his 9/11 "truth" conspiracy theories.

With friends like Barack Obama, who needs Iran?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dr Anthony J Hall: Riding the Wave of the Crazy

Somewhere, in the darkest bowels of the Unviersity of Lethbridge, Dr Anthony J Hall is longing for attention.

That's really the only way to explain this particular email, either leaked to your not-so-humble scribe, or deliberately sent by the "esteemed" Dr Hall.

In response to a blogpost pointing out Dr Hall's errors in regard to who enjoys the economic proceeds of the Fort McMurray oilsands, and his dubious claims about cancer rates in Fort Chipewyan, he instead chooses to fling accusatiosn of race-baiting and cheerleading for Ezra Levant.

Out of 1,955 posts on The Nexus as of today, your not-so-humble scribe has, to date, blogged about race and racism on a total of 43 occasions. That's merely 2% of the total posts preceding this one.

So Dr Hall's portrayal of your so-gloriously-unhumble scribe is clearly more than a little contrived. Just as Dr Hall's academic work seems to rest on a complete absence of fact, so does his assessment of his critics.

For example, Dr Hall accuses Levant ot being an oil lobbyist. There seems to be no evidence that Levant is employed by any oil company. For his own part, Levant himself denies it.

So that's simply another matter where Dr Hall's arguments rely on an absence of fact.

Then again, the idea that anyone who would write a book in favour of oilsands production must be a lobbyist for "big oil" is ideologically soothing to the far left. In what passes as Dr Hall's academic discipline, this is basically a pre-requisite.

This is why Dr Anthony J Hall isn't a serious academic, and shouldn't be confused for one. Nor should be afforded that level of respect.

The Turning of Peter Stoffer

NDP MP under fire in riding over LGR vote

With debate in Canada continuing to simmer following the vote to kill Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner's long-gun registry bill, it seems that some of the rural MPs who voted in favour of that motion may not be as safe as they thought they would be.

Following his decision to about-face on the registry, Sackville-Eastern Shore MP (representing the NDP) Peter Stoffer's office was deluged with angry phone calls from constituents. Reportedly, he's still sorting through all the calls.

“I don’t use the Internet so I called every single person back,” Stoffer said. “There is no question a fair number of people have expressed their severe disappointment in me.”

Stoffer's riding has now been added to the list of rural ridings effectively on a watch-list of constituencies that have just become vulnerable.

“I can’t tell how it’s going to go. I’ll put my name on the ballot and the people will determine if I’m worthy or not,” he continued. “When you reverse a decision, a lot of people think you’ve let them down. That’s a fair comment to make.”

Interestingly, as one examines some of the other details to emerge in regard to Stoffer's strange change of heart, one wonders if perhaps that's what Stoffer's vote was actually about: keeping his name on the ballot.

Reportedly, Stoffer received calls from former NDP leaders Ed Broadbent and Alexa McDonough in the days preceding his decision.

"They did call me and offer me advice," Stoffer explained. "They basically said you should really consider what the leader is trying to do, which is find common ground. They both said that."

Stoffer insists that NDP leader Jack Layton put no pressure on him to change his vote.

"There’s no question about that, but at the same time, there’s other people who you have huge respect for saying something completely different, and that is taken into account as well," Stoffer continued.

Then again, whether or not one actually believes such an account is another matter altogether.

The public assumption when dealing with the NDP has classically been to assume that they are the "nice guys" of Canadian politics; that no one in the NDP would offer thinly-veiled suggestions that if Stoffer declined to support the long-gun registry he might find himself losing his nomination for the NDP in Sackville-Eastern Shore.

This would cost him his seat just as easily as upsetting any non-NDP-affiliated constituents who may have supported him in the last election, and may not support him the next time out.

"There are some people that have indicated they will do everything they can to defeat me," Stoffer admitted. "There is no question that personal friends that I had before may not be friends anymore. I understand that."

At least Stoffer seems content to take whatever lumps may be coming his way in the next election.

"It’s fair to say I’ve reversed my position. I’m not hiding from that," Stoffer said. "The people in my riding, in the next election, which is going to come soon, are going to determine whether they accept that or not."

It's a laudable democratic sentiment from someone who made an extremely un-laudable decision.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Long-Gun Registry and the Triumph of Divisive Politics

Opposition uses long-gun registry as wedge issue

With Ajax-Pickering MP Mark Holland's bill to kill Candice Hoeppner's bill to scrap the long-gun registry adpoted by the House of Commons, the opposition is waxing triumphally.

They're accusing the Conservative Party of divisive politics, while they themselves divide Canadians.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff hasn't been the worst of them -- it's tough to decide whether to impart that distinction on Holland or on the Bloc Quebecoi's Maria Mourani -- but he hasn't shied away from it, either.

"We stood with victims, we stood with emergency room doctors, we stood with the police and the Mounties, all of whom say we need a long-gun registry for the public security of Canadians," Ignatieff insisted. "If you care about public safety in this country, you want a gun registry. Period."

If only it were really so.

Ignatieff and his fellow proponents of the long-gun registry emotionally blackmailed Canadians by insisting that the long-gun registry was a "memorial" to the L'Ecole Polytechnique victims. He stood on-side with police chiefs who accepted a $115,000 donation from the company that produces the software for the long-gun registry, and with the RCMP who possessed a clear incentive to describe the registry as a success under their administration.

Moreover, Canadians who legitimately care about public safety in Canada fully understand that the long-gun registry doesn't serve public safety. It has never prevented gun crimes, and hasn't saved a single life.

Moreover, it's entirely useless to police -- and nearly any front-line police officer in Canada will tell you that.

When it becomes clear that there is not even one single, solitary fact that supports maintaining the long-gun registry, it becomes clear what the proponents of the registry are doing: they're using it as a wedge issue to divide Canadians.

Nearly all of them are extremely eager to accuse the Conservatives of doing the same. But it's an incredibly disingenuous argument.

It's been proponents of the registry that have crowed about its importance to urban Canadians. It's been the proponents of the registry that have tried to guilt Canadians into supporting it by reminding them of past tragedies that not only would the long-gun registry not have prevented, but the long-gun registry hasn't prevented repeats.

The facts speak for themselves. But proponents of the long-gun registry won't tolerate to have the facts debated.

They'd rather divide Canadians and reap the rewards for themselves. But rural Liberal and NDP MPs may find themselves instead paying the price in an upcoming election.

James Cameron, Avatar and the Craziness of Globalization Studies

It must be wonderfully liberating to study in a field such as Globalization Studies, where ideologically-soothing rhetoric so often tends to supplant facts.

Globalization studies tends to boil nearly any problem down to two basic themes: capitalism and racism, typically with very few facts -- if any at all -- offered to support them.

A typical case is an essay being distributed by University of Lethbridge Globalization Studies professor -- and 9/11 truther-in-residence -- Dr Anthony J Hall.

In one such essay, entitled "Avatar Meets the Bowl With One Spoon", Hall suggests that the brutal treatment of the Na'vi in the film is comparable to the treatment of aboriginal communities in Alberta's Athabaska region.

Fortunately for Hall, his discipline seems like it doesn't require a discussion of the facts. If it did, Hall would have to admit that the pertinent facts don't support his argument.

Hall writes:
"Huge amounts of energy and fresh water are required to extract fossil fuels from the bogs of the arctic watershed. While the profits from this activity enliven the urban cultures of, for instance, Calgary, Houston, Dallas, and Beijing, the liabilities in terms of high rates of cancer and the loss of indigenous political economies are borne disproportionately by the Cree and Dene peoples of the region."
A statement like this is so rife with error and counter-factuality that it's hard to know where to begin.

First off, the economic activity derived from oil sands development development also benefits aboriginal communities in the Athabasca regions. They benefit not only from direct revenue from royalties collected from oilsands operations on their land, not only from related businesses operated by local First Nations, but also in terms of aboriginal employment.

Moreover, Hall ignores key portions of Alberta Health Service's report on Fort Chipewyan that notes that the communities' rates of cancer are actually within natural variation, and could simply appear elevated due to increased rates of detection.

Moreover, a key indicator of an environmental cause to elevated rates of cancer is not present in Fort Chipewyan -- notably, the lack of elevated cancer rates in children.

This merely deals with the factual/conceptual errors in Hall's essay. It isn't the only area in which it suffers.

It also suffers from the presence of a key logical fallacy: the false equivalency.

As Avatar unfolds, it becomes clear that the kinds of abuses perpetrated by the RDA mining company are possible because there seems to be no legally-recognized sovereignty over Pandora. No government holds any jurisdiction over it. It is, for the purposes of human legality, a lawless planet.

The situation in Alberta is not even remotely equivalent. Companies operating in the Athabasca region are subject to multiple levels of jurisdiction. They are subject to the jursidction of Canadian law, Albertan law, as well as the restrictions and requirements imposed by First Nations on whose land they operate.

This isn't to say that there aren't any issues related to legal jurisdiction anywhere in Alberta. The ongoing state of affairs regarding the Lubicon Cree, where oil development proceeded without a settlement of the treaty status of the group -- who have never signed a treaty with the government of Canada -- remains legally intolerable.

But this is not the situation in Fort McMurray, where local Cree and Dene populations have frequently asserted their jurisdictional rights, and have received the cooperation of the companies working on their land.

In short, the scenario in Avatar, with Na'vi being swept aside by overwhelming military power, and the scenario in Fort McMurray, wherein aboriginal communities have benefited from the cooperation of oilsands developers, are not nearly the same.

Dr Anthony J Hall is fortunate that he works in an academic field where rhetoric consistently out-muscles fact. His theories may be accepted by the remarkably-insular academic circles in which he travels, but it won't find traction in a more rigourous intellectual environment.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Somewhere, in the Darkest Corner of the Toronto Star...

...Heather Mallick could be heard screaming "pramface!!!"

Canada Chided For "Lack of Interest" in Jeffrey Sachs' Agenda

Jeffrey Sachs disappointed in lack of ideological commitment

If anything is absolutely certain about Jeffrey Sachs, it's that he has everything about poverty in the developing world figured out.

Or at least he thinks he does.

Sachs' policies regarding alleviating poverty in the developing world have been nothing if not a spectacular failure. Yet instead of examining his own policies to figure out what's gone wrong, he prefers to simply blame countries that don't share his agenda in all its ideological glory.

Especially Canada.

But not Canada alone. Apparently, the United States is to blame as well.

“Where we are in 2010 is mostly a testimony about ourselves,” Sachs said. “Neither the Harper government nor the Obama administration is doing close to what I would expect of our countries living in the wealth and comfort of North America.”

So not just Canada. But mostly Canada.

“It’s just been very disappointing for me,” Sachs complained. “I’ve grown up believing in Canada’s leadership.”

Of course Sachs may simply be forgetting that Canada has taken the lead on a maternal health initiative for the developing world.

Sachs seems upset that countries in the developing world have hard choices to make.

“All of them were discussing whether to have children in school or whether to have mothers saved in childbirth or whether to have vaccine problems, because [they] can’t do all of these things,” Sachs fumed. “It’s an impossible choice.”

Former Prime Minister Paul Martin, who committed Canada to following Sachs' agenda, is similarly disappointed.

"When the Canadian numbers were revised down, that was a reneging on our commitment," Martin complained. "The 'reclarifying' of numbers, which Canada, Italy and France engaged in, is exactly the kind of thing that must not happen in the future."

Of course what Martin fails to mention is that the commitment Martin speaks of was the commitment of the government that he led. A future government was well within its rights to reevaluate the decision, and in the case of the Millenium Development Goals, was particularly right to have done so.

But Martin also admits that many of the countries due to be recipients of this generous aid commitment have their own part to play -- one they haven't played.

"Recipient countries have got to come to the table," Martin insisted. "When the MDGs were set up, it was with governments that said they would do certain things, for instance in education, and a number of those countries have not done it."

But even the commitments made by the countries in question were the wrong commitments.

New York University Economist William Easterly has been clear about the shortcomings of the economy of the developing world.

One of these shortcomings is the lack of key economic infrastructure -- banks, stock exchanges, securities regulators, courts of law -- that make a healthy economy possible in the first place. While the developing-world versions of institutions don't currently need to be nearly as sophisticated as they are in the developed world, they do need to impose a basic degree of law and order over these economies -- the kind that can contain and eliminate corruption and cronyism.

Beyond even that, Sachs' prized MDGs represent everything that has been wrong with the developed world's approach to fighting poverty in the developing world: they are centrally-planned, largely by the donors, and do not necessarily reflect the real needs of these economies.

They reflect the opinion of what Jeffrey Sachs and his cohorts think these countries need, and following the same broken model of sending billions and billions of dollars into the coffers of governments that have tended to either waste the funds, or steal them outright.

Jeffrey Sachs can be as disappointed as he likes that Canada has backed away from his agenda. His policies have overwhelmingly failed -- something that Sachs has declined to even acknowledge, let alone take responsibility for -- and it's time for a more constructive approach.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Utter Cluelessness of Jack Layton & the NDP

Conservatives can't work with NDP on long-gun registry

When it appeared that Candice Hoeppner's private members bill would find enough support from the NDP to pass, NDP leader Jack Layton went to work to find enough votes to keep the registry alive.

He didn't whip the vote, as many advocates of the long-gun regsitry insisted he should, but he seems to have found the votes.

Yet, as it turns out, Layton's fantasies don't end with the alleged necessity of maintaining the registry. Layton continues to fantasize that the Conservative Party would be able to work with him to "fix" the registry.

"I said to the Prime Minister today as well as in a conversation last week, ‘Why don't we work together here? You haven't got the numbers now to simply eliminate it,'" Layton said. "'So let's work to try to fix it and address some of those legitimate issues that are being raised by people who are law-abiding gun owners and hunters and farmers.'"

What Layton clearly doesn't understand is that, as pertains to gun control and the long-gun registry, there's nothing to talk about. There is simply no way that the Conservative Party -- who acknowledge reality as it relates to the long-gun registry -- could work wirh the NDP on the matter, who do not.

It's as simple as that.

Particularly, the Conservatives cannot be expected to work with people who won't debate the matter in good faith.

Layton and the other supporters of the long-gun registry have long realized that there are no facts that support maintaining the registry: not a single, solitary, one.

They can't afford to publicly admit that the long-gun registry has never prevented a single crime, and has never saved a single life. Not one.

Instead, proponents of the long-gun registry have relied on fear mongering, emotional blackmail, and smear tactics in order to make their case.

Consider the following exchanges from the very same meeting of the Public Safety Committee in which Dr Gary Mauser utterly demolished defenses of the long-gun registry.

The first is between Dr Mauser and Marlene Jennings:
"Jennings - ...Have you received funding from the NRA for any of your studies or research work?

Dr Mauser - Yes, I have. When I first began researching--

Jennings - Thank you.

Dr Mauser - I got $400.

Jennings - Have you contributed to the Conservative Party of Canada, or its predecessor the Canadian Alliance, or its predecessor the Reform Party of Canada?

Dr Mauser - I have contributed to the Conservative Party, the Reform Party, the NDP, and the Liberals.
Jennings attempts a rather blatant guilt-by-association argument. She knows her base well, and must imagine that a donation to the Reform Party, and the receipt of a donation from the NRA would be rather damning for Dr Mauser.

Unfortunately for Jennings, what she uncovered was a donation scarcely sufficient to keep the lights on for a major research project, and a former Reform Party donor who had also given to her own party.

In the midst of a debate that is supposed to be contested based on facts, this is far from a significant bombshell.

But Jennings' buffoonery nothing compared to that of Bloc Quebecois MP Maria Mourani:
"Mourani - Mr Mauser, I would like short answers please. Is this in fact you in this photograph, with a handgun?

Dr Mauser - That's me and that's my handgun.

Mourani - What kind of gun is it?

Dr Mauser - It is a Smith & Wesson revolver.

Mourani - Is it registered?

Dr Mauser - Well, of course.

Mourani - How many weapons do you own?

Dr Mauser - I'm not sure. It varies.

Mourani - You do not remember how many guns you own? How many long guns do you own?

Dr Mauser - I don't remember. It varies.

Mourani - All right, you own firearms, but you do not remember how many you have?

Dr Mauser - I'm getting old.

Mourani - You are not, however, too old to carry such a gun.

Dr Mauser - That would be a few more years from now.

Mourani - Where was this photograph taken?

Dr Mauser - About 20 years ago.

Mourani - But where?

Dr Mauser - You can see that I'm a lot younger there.

Mourani - Yes, but where? Was it at home? It looks like it was at home, not at a firing range or at a shooting school. Am I right? It is at your house.

Dr Mauser - That's my house.

Mourani - Excellent. And what were you shooting at? What were you having fun shooting at? Who were you putting on this show for?

The Chair - Mrs Mourani, you have to relate this to the long-gun registry.

Mourani - I apologize, Mr Chairman. Mr Chairman, I will explain why.

Dr Mauser - You will notice, first of all, that I'm not firing. Secondly, the finger is not in the trigger guard. Thirdly, the photographer asked me to pose like this and I resisted, but obviously I should have resisted harder.

Mourani - You did put up a struggle, my dear sir. But, you are the expert advisor as far as firearms are concerned. I must admit to you that I am scared.
In all fairness, Maria Mourani does seem like the sensitive type: sensitive enough to be frightened by a 20-year-old photograph. That, seeing as how she introduced it into committee, one could presume she herself dug up for that purpose.

And evidently sensitive enough to stoop to ad hominem attacks on an expert at whose assessment of the facts she seems to despair.

Which reminds one what this is allegedly supposed to be about: it's supposed to be about the facts. Mark Holland insists that the Conservatives simply don't care about them.

Yet when a doctor of criminology shows up to the Public Safety Committee and lays out facts that are extremely inconvenient for proponents of the long-gun registry, the facts seem to be the last thing Holland, Jennings, Mourani et al are concerned with:

Their language becomes not that of a factual debate, but that of vindictive personal attack, vicious character assasination, and shameless melodrama.

There is a reason for this: the facts simply do not favour their cause. It doesn't prevent gun crime. It doesn't save lives. It's a cosmetic gun control measure that demonstrably doesn't protect Canadians.

Truthfully speaking, the long gun registry has become the cause celibre of far-left demagogues who can't bring themselves to get tough on crime, so instead opt to get tough on the law-abiding.

Jack Layton has, unsurprisingly, decided to throw in with that lot. The Conservatives couldn't work with him on this issue, even if they wanted to.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Barack Obama's Strategy for November: The Black Vote

Obama begs black caucus for support

When President Barack Obama stormed into the White House in 2008, it was at the head of a movement of hope, and at the front of some of the largest crowds to support a candidate in decades.

Now that Obama has disappointed his followers and done a better job of mobilizing his opposition than the Republican Party ever could have, Obama is looking back to the most crass element that contributed to his 2008 successes:

The politics of race.

Speaking at the Congressional Black Congress dinner, Obama called on members of the caucus to mobilize their constituents in his support.

"I need everybody here to go back to your neighborhoods and your workplaces, to your churches and barbershops, and beauty shops," Obama announced. "Tell them we have more work to do. Tell them we can't wait to organize. Tell them that the time for action is now."

"When I took office, our economy was on the brink of collapse. So, we acted immediately and took some steps to stop our economic free-fall," he continued. "And now, our economy is growing. We're adding private sector jobs, instead of losing them. We're in a different place than we were one year ago."

Obama would like caucus members to believe that his economic problem has been a success. But even as three million job openings were reported on the last day of July, unemployment increased 0.3% in July, and 0.3% again in August.

In other words: economy growing? Not so much. Adding private sector jobs? Not compared to the rate of loss.

Which may be a good time to remember what Obama's election to the office of President was supposed to be about.

"It was about giving every hardworking American a chance to join a growing middle class," he explained. "It was about putting the American dream within reach for all Americans, no matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from."

Instead, Obama's policies continue to precipitate economic havoc in the United States, as the famed American dream continues to slip beyond the reach of increasing numbers of Americans, including some who once had it firmly within their grasp.

With these sobering realities hovering over his Presidency, Obama has instead opted to flatly appeal for black votes.

There is deep peril in this for the alleged post-racial President. Even as he reaches out for overwhelming level of support from black voters, his support among white voters continues to erode.

In July, only 37% of white men assess Obama's performance positively. Even fewer white women -- 35% -- agreed.

So in so starkly appealing to black voters while his support amongst white voters continues to erode, the post-racial President risks doing something that a post-racial President should never do: divide voters along racial lines.

It isn't as if it's all Obama's fault. After all, ideologically-motivated commentators have taken the rise of the Tea Party as an opportunity to weaponize racism in support of an increasingly radical and civically-destructive agenda.

It's becoming increasingly clear that Barack Obama is reaching the breaking point. November 2 seems like it's going to be the beginning of the end for Obama. The end cannot come soon enough.

Tony Blair's Deferred War on the Working Class

Labour knew they were spending, borrowing too much

As Labour leadership candidates Andy Burnham and Ed Balls battle over whether or not the Labour party would have embarked on a program of cuts similar to that of the current Tory/Liberal Democrat government, Lord Andrew Turnbull, former head of the British Civil Service, has dropped a bombshell on the debate:

The Labour party was spending too much, and knew it was spending too much. And it knew in 2005.

Lord Turnbull suggests that it was political pressure that convinced Tony Blair and his government to continue spending at a manifestly undisciplined rate, even after it became evident that there was a problem.

"It kind of crept up on us in 2005, 2006, 2007, and we were still expanding public spending at 4.5 per cent a year," he explained. "You might have thought that we should have been giving priority to getting borrowing under better control, putting money aside in the good years - and it didn't happen."

Lord Turnbull's comments reveal Keynesian economics for precisely what they became under Tony Blair: an excuse to spend, even at the expense of the government's ability to battle a recession by expending savings accumulated during strong economic periods.

Lord Turnbull explained it very simply: "Public spending got too big relative to the productive resources of the economy."

"The politics was that we had put an end to boom and bust," he said. But it didn't work that way. The government overspent even during the time of boom, and now succeeding governments have to fix the problem.

All of this complicates matters intensely for the current crop of Labour leadership candidates, looking to replace Blair's successor, Gordon Brown.

Andy Burnham has been tremendously candid about the necessity of cuts under a Labour government.

"Let's get some honesty in this debate," Burnham said. "There would have been significant spending cuts under Labour and there would have been job losses under Labour."

For his own part, Ed Balls seems to think that things would have been magically different under a Labour government.

"I think Labour would have been creating jobs this year," Balls insisted. "At a time when the economy is slowing down, we should be building houses, not cutting them, building schools, not cutting them."

This of course begs the question of where the money would have come from. But Balls seems to think that he has the answer... or at least something he can easily pass off as the answer.

"The banks should be paying the price of the crisis, not people up and down this country," Balls insisted.

Of course, it shouldn't be the banks that pay the price for the excessively poor fiscal policy of the Blair and Brown governments. One way or the other, under one government or another, the British government will have to pay the price for that.

Unfortunately, it's inevitable that when the government pays, the citizens will pay as well.

Many among Britain's left have gleefully seized upon the looming cuts by the David Cameron government of waging class warfare against the middle and working classes.

But even as Tony Blair spent the government of Great Britain deeper and deeper into debt, he had to have known that a fiscal day of recknoning was coming. Tony Blair had to have known that the middle and working classes would be hit hardest by that reckoning than anyone else -- including himself.

If class warfare is being waged against the working and middle classes at all, it's Tony Blair's defferred class warfare.

Well Done, Judy Rebick

Rebick hosts black bloc leader at discussion panel

Canadians disgusted by the actions of violent protesters at the G20 Summit in Toronto are still waiting for justice for those actions.

As police continue to use sophisticated investigation techniques to identify rioters and arrest them, that justice grows ever-nearer. But for at least one alleged organizer, that comeuppance may be closer yet.

Alex Hundert, one of those accused of organizing the violence at the G20 summit, was re-arrested afer violating the terms of his $100,000 bail.

Even more interesting than the arrest, however, was the circumstances of the arrest: he was arrested following an appearance at a forum panel, at Ryerson University, organized by Judy Rebick.

Characteristically, Rebick denounced the arrest.

"It was a meeting, a calm, peaceful discussion of issues on people’s minds,” Rebick complained. “It’s an outrage that he was arrested for discussing issues, an outrage.”

As a condition of his bail, Hundert was prohibited from taking part in political protests, such as the ones he soiled in Toronto.

Of course, if the broad collection of groups protesting at the G20 summit really had no connection to the black bloc protesters -- and factually, the vast majority of them didn't -- Rebick has made that a very hard case to defend by hosting Hundert at her event.

It isn't even the first time Rebick gave Hundert a forum.

In March of this year published an article, written by Hundert, in which he admitted to using black bloc tactics as part of anti-Olympic protests.

In the article, Hundert crows brazenly about his anarchist theories, and seems to suggest that anarchism is the only alternative to what he deems "neo-colonialism":
"21st-century analysis is moving beyond the empty rhetoric of 'revolutionary acts.' We no longer wish to seize the machinery of the State to use it for our own ends; we wish to see it dismantled, to be replaced by something other than a new Euro-American colonialism. A better world than that is possible, but it cannot come about until we move beyond the dominant paradigms of our culture. Statism and white supremacy must be resigned to the dustbins of history."
In the article, he continues to espouse the benefits of "diversity of tactics":
"Part of the strength of the anti-Olympic campaign, as a watershed for the new anti-colonial movement, has been the solidarity and unity around a "diversity of tactics." Part of that solidarity is rooted in the idea that you cannot attack one part of the movement without attacking the whole. When we remember to defend each other, we also remember to work together to build the movement and our communities. This cannot be done by succumbing to the classic colonial tactic of divide and conquer. Diversity of tactics means that one day we smash the system and the next we build alternatives. The Black Block is a wrecking ball tactic that makes space for more mainstream or creative tactics. The anarchists who participate in the Bloc are for the most part solid community organizers and people who are at the forefront of making space for creative alternatives to capitalism and colonialism. A diversity of tactics is meant to be complimentary -- different tactics demonstrate different values and objectives, and all must be viewed in sum."
Of course, all of this comes across as pure fallacy. Canadians who witnessed the acts the black bloc committed at the G20 summit know full well that the black bloc aren't defending their fellow protesters. Rather, they're simply staging attacks on private property and persons that are poorly-justified even by their own meagre standards.

Moreover, the black bloc puts peaceful protesters at risk for violent retaliation by police officers venting their frustration at the poor decisions of their commanding officers (who famously ordered riot police at the Toronto summit to stand down because they were "too intimidating").

For her own part, Rebick had, at that point, been wise enough to criticize the black bloc's activities. Hundert, however, was having none of it:
"What Judy Rebick, and many other critics who have had little to do with the anti-Olympic movement, have entirely failed to notice is the fact that the Black Bloc was supported by almost every constituency of the ORN. This show of solidarity was not divisive -- it brought us together and has built deep trust between activists who, in the past, have often had very little to say to each other.

Organizations that were publicly represented include (or had individual members present and unmasked): No One Is Illegal, the Council of Canadians, PETA, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN),, Gatewaysucks, the Vancouver Anti-Poverty Committee, Food Not Bombs, and many more. None of those organizations have denounced the actions of the Black Bloc that day. And they can't, because their members know that on that day, they were there to support the Black Bloc. Anyone who says that they didn't know what was going to happen is lying. There were 200 people in black with masks on, and 'Riot 2010; has been a rallying call for the movement for more than two years now. Everyone knew what was going to happen, and they all marched anyway.
In one fell swoop, Hundert manages to locate all of these groups -- most notably the Council of Canadians -- within the extreme underbelly of Canada's radical far-left. Hundert appropriates to himself support from even the moderate organizations among them to his anarchist cause.

Remarkably, Hundert has imagined for himself a world wherein the black bloc can deliberately provoke extreme reactions from police and then divest himself of any responsibility:
"After the police clashed with the Bloc that day, and affinity groups were forced to scatter (the Black Bloc doesn't do peaceful arrests -- the tactic dictates mutual protection from the police instead), the majority of the 'non-violent' marchers continued in support. Some of them allowed themselves to be arrested by the frustrated police. Blaming anyone other than the police for the conduct of the police is merely a legitimization of the police presence on our streets -- it would be like blaming the poor for the criminalization of homelessness. I expect people to know better. Cops are no more than armed thugs-for-hire."
That was, of course, in March of 2010. It is now September, after the G20 riot, and Judy Rebick is still providing a platform from which Hundert can proclaim his extreme radical views.

Regardless of the "solidarity" that Alex Hundert claims, most of the peaceful protesters at the G20 Summit have attempted to distance themselves from he and the black bloc, even chanting "shame on you" at them during the event itself.

Yet Rebick has drawn Hunder ever-closer, much to the discredit of herself and the movement she represents.

For that, one simply has to say: well done, Judy Rebick. Well done.

Or at least one would if she hadn't also contributed to the discredit of peaceful organizations that don't deserve to share in her discredit.