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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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3/19/2005

New Lancet Study

* Around 150 anti-war protesters turned up to a demonstration in Canberra yesterday. A Lancet analysis put the figure at anywhere between 2,000 and 198,000.
tim blair
LOL

Is Karl Rove Working for the Grits?

Canadians love the Charter but, as the Globe and Mail’s Jane Taber reports,

“Former Stockwell Day aide Ezra Levant, now publisher of the Western Standard magazine, has also come out with a button against same-sex marriage: "It's the stupid Charter." That's a send-up of the young Liberals' buttons, "It's the Charter, stupid," that were being worn at the Grit convention two weeks ago.”
norman's spectator
Sack of hammers dumb. Short plank thick. It is difficult to imagine any dumber move for a Conservative supporter to make.

Now, if Ezra a mere cog in the Tory machine this particular idiocy could be dismissed as the blatherings of an ignorant and unimportant buffoon. Trouble is that Ezra has carved out a media profile as a chubby counter weight to the Mr. Ks of the Liberal Party. And he has his own magazine.

Sadly this shows just how profoundly the Tories have missed the huge opportunity the Charter offers for the promotion of individual rights in an increasingly statist society. The CPC should not be condemning the Charter, they should be smart enough to use it to promote greater individual freedom.

But the CPC has not got the first clue about individual freedom. Doesn't want to know either.

Ezra has not a glimmer of a clue about how the Charter is viewed outside the shadow of the Husky Tower. For minorities, women, people falsely accused, holders of unpopular opinions, the Charter is a breakwater against the power of the state. Of course it is open to abuse and it still lacks the century of jurisprudence which will make it a living document. But, for the moment, it is all we have.

Recognizing Ezra as David Herle's useful idiot at the CPC convention insults idiots. There is a word for it...gormless. Yep, that pretty much covers Ezra.

Pooh and the Gang at the CPC Brawl



Winnie Stocks Up On CPC Paraphenilia Posted by Hello

Hope they have body armour...From the up and comming Blank Out Times...I still don't get the squirrels...

Oil Prices

I am working on an article about high oil prices.

With all the bluster about Kyoto - and I am wondering when the feds will be sending me a cheque for not actually running a car though I live 15 miles from the nearest store...a tonne and then some - the actual fact is that as the price of oil rises the incentive to come up with better, cleaner and more efficient technologies increases.

Which is OPEC's worst nightmare come true. Let's face it, burning dead dinos is very 1950.

As the price rises the possiblity of serious coin from everything from cheap solar arrays to hybrid cars increases. At the right price, and $50.00 may well be it, people are going start thinking outside the barrel. And when they do the chances are there will be a Moore's law progression in energy efficiency.

Which will, of course, leave 6000 Saudi princes sitting in a sandbox playing with black gloopy stuff...couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

(Of course, the speed of the innovation will take some time to materialize. Enough time that the various oil sands projects in Canada should pay out.)

Dumb, with more to Come

The good doctor is less than impressed with Peter MacKay's objections to a membership requirement to send delegate to CPC conventions. I'd hate to see the Monger mad. (And scroll through the comments, Sean from Polspy is definitely back!)

3/17/2005

Read this...

Christopher Hitchens on the mysterious case of the "looting" of Iraq's WMD capacity...

It was eye-rubbing to read of the scale of this potential new nightmare. There in cold print was the Al Hatteen "munitions production plant that international inspectors called a complete potential nuclear weapons laboratory." And what of the Al Adwan facility, which "produced equipment used for uranium enrichment, necessary to make some kinds of nuclear weapons"? The overall pattern of the plundered sites was summarized thus, by reporters James Glanz and William J. Broad:

The kinds of machinery at the various sites included equipment that could be used to make missile parts, chemical weapons or centrifuges essential for enriching uranium for atom bombs.

My first question is this: How can it be that, on every page of every other edition for months now, the New York Times has been stating categorically that Iraq harbored no weapons of mass destruction? And there can hardly be a comedy-club third-rater or MoveOn.org activist in the entire country who hasn't stated with sarcastic certainty that the whole WMD fuss was a way of lying the American people into war. So now what? Maybe we should have taken Saddam's propaganda seriously, when his newspaper proudly described Iraq's physicists as "our nuclear mujahideen."
slate
I take no glee in the apparent fact that the facilities for making WMD's were in Iraq as suspected, I take less from the apparent fact that these machines were removed wholesale by "looters" drving flatbed trucks...

Where did this stuff go? Where is it now?

Over at Blogs Canada John Manley is being pilloried for agreeing with a report which calls for a Canada/US/Mexico security zone. Given what may be out there Manley may look brilliant sooner rather than later. Unfortunately it will be after a nasty bit of terrorism hits Canada.

A bit of rather clear legal reasoning....

"In this context, the existence of marriage-like rights without marriage actually cuts against the existence of a rational government interest for denying marriage to same-sex couples. California's enactment of rights for same-sex couples belies any argument that the State would have a legitimate interest in denying marriage in order to preclude same-sex couples from acquiring some marital right that might somehow be inappropriate for them to have. No party has argued the existence of such an inappropriate right, and the court cannot think of one. Thus, the state's position that California has granted marriage-like rights to same-sex couples points to the conclusion that there is no rational state interest in denying them the rites of marriage as well." San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer via Andrew Sullivan
On this logic extending civil unions but not marriage to same-sex couples is simply irrational. Which has been my position all along.

Essentially, once the bandwagon of granting some benefits directly and some through the law of constructive trust moved out of the station the ability of the state to stop short of marriage was pre-empted. In efas soon as it became public policy to treat gays as human beings it became impossible to treat them as only partial human beings endowed with some but not all the rights of other human beings.

Which is why SSM is such a loser for the CPC. Because, in essence, their wacky position in favour of civil unions but opposed to marriage means they will have to "protect" hetrosexual marriage at the cost of denying the essential equality of gay people. The Grits will crucify them.

3/16/2005

Bye, Bye Assad

Anti-regime protests in Syria were unthinkable just a few weeks ago. They aren't any more, not because Syria is more open to dissent than other Middle Eastern countries -- it's arguably the most oppressive state in the region now that Saddam's regime has been dismantled -- but because the Lebanese protests and Assad's cringing response prove he is far more vulnerable than almost everyone thought.
Michael J. Totten, TCS
A great article by Totten over at Tech Central. I think he's right on his main point that the Arab Street may still be seething, but it has realized that it has the power to effect regime change itself.

Oddly, I think he is likely wrong on Syria. My own read is that Assad is clearing the decks for a scamper. One way or another there is a lot of Iraqi money sitting in banks controlled by the Syrian regime. It is not much fun being President of Syria with all manner of your daddy's thugs running covert operations they are not telling you about. You may well want to co-operate with the revolution sweeping the region, but your father's Baathist cronies are not going to play ball.

What to do?

Get the Hell out. A couple of friendly bank transfers and faster than you can say French passport there you are on Le Cote d'Azur.

While it would be pleasing to see a spontanous Syrian revolt, a wiser course of action might well be to prepare for a complete leadership vacuum in the very near future. Because Totten is right - Assad has cringed over Lebanon. And the most basic rule of strongman government is no cringing.

A rule Assad is aware of. Which may mean he is giving up his strongman credential. In which case there is nothing left.

If I am right the West should be looking to flood the Syrian zone on Assad's departure. If only because a) there is every chance that some of Uncle Cuddles WMD's may have ended up there, b) the Awali tribe the Assads have used as their powerbase will still be disproportionately powerful, c) the potential for mischief from a failed Syrian state is huge.

And here it might be a good idea to see whether or not the Europeans, particularily the French, might be induced to lead the charge. France has a historical, if not terifically positive, attachment to the area. A move to ensure basic security and an orderly trasition to a democratic Syria would be in the bounds of peacekeeping. Might make a good fit.

3/15/2005

Exponential

Blogging is growing...fast. According to Sifry's Alerts, run by the guy who invented Technorati, the blogosphere, excluding spam blogs, is doubling in sized every five months. perhaps more interestingly, the number of new blogs being created per day has increased from around 15,000 in October 2004 to 30 - 40,000 now.

Which means more competition to be heard; but it also means that there are a lot more people keeping track of the dumber reaches of everything from legacy media to Canada's MIA foreign policy.

Now that's a Grow Op

To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee, "You call that a grow op? No mate, this is a grow op..."

Not Good News

Attempts to get Canadians out of their cars and onto public transit aren't working. Preliminary figures released by Statistics Canada yesterday show the number of Canadians using public transit is dropping in Canada's 10 largest cities -- news that's not good in light of the federal government's Kyoto commitments.

The stats show in January 2005 there were 106.9 million bus riders in the country's 10 largest urban centres, down by 1% compared to the same time last year.
ottawa sun
I suspect the reason the ridership has to do with the relative level of affluence Canadians are experiencing. I happen to like the bus but not enough that I would ride it voluntarily if I could afford to run a car which was fun to drive. At the moment the Canadian economy is doing well enough that the bus is a little emptier...Not great for our silly Kyoto commitments, but a suggestion people are doing better.

Mini-Tabs

In the race to the bottom legacy media is happy to try just about anything. Shannon Rupp has a series of three articles in the current The Tyee on the coming invasion of Vancouver by the mini-transit-tabs. An idea which is so antithetical to the notion of a newspapers as "civil commons" it simply confirrms we are living in the age of mass post-literacy.

Rupp does a great job of ensuring that the PR gal, Jaye Kornblum-Rea, for "Dose" - one of the aptly named contenders, comes off sounding utterly fatuous. She quotes the poor girl, and so will I,

Kornblum-Rea, a Toronto PR consultant, said that most of Dose's key staff members have unusual backgrounds for a newsroom. Few have experience in journalism. Most, including the editor, have experience in selling something to readers.

Kornblum-Rea said Dose staffers are typical of that "elusive" young demographic that doesn't normally read newspapers. "They lead very busy lifestyles. They're quite clever and quite savvy, but time is a commodity for them and they like to know a little about a lot of things."....

"We haven't really defined the content yet," she said, "but it will be the only medium 100 per cent dedicated to this demographic."
the tyee
It is difficult to imagine anything lighterweight than Vancouver's very own Province, ("the most aptly named newspaper in the world" according to my old IR prof Kal Holsti); but the folks at Dose are going to give it a run.

One more bit of evidence the real debate, the real conversation, is moving off the legacy media stage. Is it moving onto the net?? I think so. But I also think it is interesting that these tiny tabs are not actively recruiting bloggers so far as I have heard.

More than likely because bloggers just fail the critical hair gel test....
"I think it's the metrosexual thing," Kornblum-Rea said. "They're more interested in things like grooming products - skin cleanser, hair gels. They're becoming significant consumers and feeling empowered by the products for them," she said, noting that her nine-year-old son knows the difference between hair gels. "At one time there was peer pressure for men not to be in the consuming habit. A guy who spent two hours looking for $200 jeans would get his friends saying, 'What are you, gay?'"
Yup, and Canada was a better country for it...But the term was "insane" rather than "gay".

Looking to Form

The Liberal Party is the heavyweight champion of western politics. They defend well. They attack ferociously and opportunistically. They have one thing on their minds, one purpose - winning. To beat a champion like that, you can't dance around the outside, peppering jabs and avoiding punishment. You have to throw combinations in convincing fashion. You have to look the part. The judges will give it to the champion every time unless they see something decisive to change their minds.
occam's carbuncle
Alan nails it. The great slug of the Liberal Party will simply ooze into power on momentum and the sheer idiocy of Ontario voters (and more than a few dummies out here.)

You don't stop that slug by forgetting to vote for your own budget amendment. Or, at least, you create a little dramatic tension by ommiting to announce your intention to vote for the budget until the day.

Last time out Harper more or less stopped campaigning with about a week to go before the polls, I have to admit, in retrospect, I think he may have decided it would be better for Martin to get stuck with the minority.

If he was that Machiavellian then, what the devil has happened since?

The only tory who has shown a speck of competitive gumption (and there I go beginning to sound like JimBobby) is Belinda Stonach. She actually did the unthinkable and defeated the government on a government bill. Not a matter of confidence; but still a defeat.

Looking good Belinda.

3/14/2005

Like a Dog with a Bone

The Conservatives have already called for anyone convicted of operating a marijuana grow operation to face a minimum of two years in jail. Conservative justice critic Vic Toews argues that minimum sentences send a signal to the courts about the public's concern over the problem of grow-ops.
globe and mail
Vic has not quite realized the scope of the problem or the relative paucity of workable solutions. Consider for a moment that growing pot in B.C. is a six billion dollar year business. Apparently it is 12 billion a year in Ontario. This is serious enough money that the people doing it on an industrial scale are going to be fairly sophisticated.

Guess what...they don't rent the houses in their own names. In fact, a compentent grow op owner tends not to visit the ops at all. He or she has lower level people actually tending the crop.

The only thing minimum sentences will do is increase the trend towards total, wireless, operation. Basically grow pot via the internet with all of the operations run by remote control.

Plus, for the poor dweebs who go in and harvest the crop, the prospect of minimum snetence will increase the likliehood of trying to shoot their way out of a bust.

And, realistically, while the impostion of minimum sentences might, fractionally, increase the costs of doing business for grow operators, what it will actually do is increase the incentive to conceal and proliferate their operations.

The best part of all of this is that the same bill that the Tories are proposing to amend (and if they do let's hope they remember to vote for their own amendment) will allow the cultivation of four plants per person for personal use.

Now let's not kid ourselves, my little family could plant either 8 or, if we include the dope smoking four and one year olds, 16 plants. With a bit of skill each of those plants will yield between $1000.00 and $2000.00 worth of bud. Call it $32,000.00. Grown inside or in a greenhouse, you should be able to get four crops a year...

The only illegal thing which you would do is sell the "surplus" (which at our house would be, er, all of it). In practice, it would be almost impossible to catch the vast majority of people who were growing their pot for "personal use" at the act of selling it. Which would render the entire enforcement end of the decrim bill more or less a joke.

Indeed, the Ma and Pa personal use operations could easily give the big ops a run for their money at far less legal risk to their principals.

Is it just me?

I though Blogger's problems had been solved by the injection of Google expertise...but it has been cranky all weekend...

Direct Action

Regular readers will remember that I was arrested last June. (Newbies can read the blow by blow here and here.) The rather outlandish charge was dropped and my complaint to The Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP against the Galiano RCMP officer involved is proceeding at a pace which would do a banana slug proud. (Apparently "Provide excellence in policing through accountability", the mission statement of this outfit is about as accurate as it is grammatical - a gerund, Ms. Heafey, would change the sentence into a call to action rather than leaving it a pious hope.)

In due course I expect there will be a report and then I will proceed with such other remedies as are required.

Meanwhile, I was greeted this morning by a delightful gentleman who, on behalf of various citizens of the People's Republic of Galiano, was gathering information on Constable Scott Hildersley's conduct. It appears that more than a few islanders have grown rather fed up with what they see as an overly aggressive attitude towards law enforcement.

We had a good chat and I spent a little time trying to make clear the difference between bona fide complaint about a specific abuse of authority and the more general question of the proper role of a police officer in a small community. The second is essentially a political question and, while it needs to be addressed, needs to be addressed outside the complaints process.

The life of a policeman in a small community is not ever an easy one. On the one side there is the law to maintain, on the other the support of that community for that law. Striking a balance is, more than anything, a test of judgement and character.

Most importantly, it is not pass/fail on a single instance. Authority comes with the job, respect is earned across hundreds of encounters. Some policemen thrive in small communities, others become depressed and issolated. As respect ebbs, the assertion of authority where none is required increases.

Part of the leadership function of the RCMP is to intervene when, after a reasonable time, a given member's suitablity for a particular situation has become compromised. At some point it is time to move on.

When gentlemen in their 70's make it their business of a Sunday morning to co-ordinate the complaints and concerns of a small community about its police officer it is well past time for the RCMP's leadership to pay attention.

Storm and Fury

Matt Labash writes about Canada in the current Weekly Standard. I don't think he was terrribly impressed. But after wading through 5400 words I can't see why.

He goes to the Vancouver heroin shooting gallery and is not impressed...Now, imagine if you will, going to an area comparable to Main and Hastings in the US. Yeah, right.

He goes to the Amsterdam Cafe a few blocks up and is unimpressed at the pot smokers toking openly while their tobacco fiend friends are behind glass. I guess it would take locking the pot smokers up for life to impress Matt.

He visits an immigration lawyer who goes on about how the Canadian immigration system can be made to work for Americans wanting to flee Bushitler...well, that is what lawyers do.

He has dinner with a real estate agent and two cute American lesbians who have married in Vancouver and who are going to move up here...he's not impressed.

He reports smelling pot aboard a BC ferry...no way...and has a drunken chat with an American gal who has bought a hotel on Quadra Island and loves living there...not terribly impressed is our Matt.

He makes the assorted predicatable remarks about 9 month waits for an MRI....Sigh.

His real spleen is, however, reserved for those dreadful Americans who want to leave America and come here.

Good for him I say. The last thing we need are the Bush-deranged. Please, please, stay in America and work for change or whatever the hell else you want. But don't come here if your only reason is that you don't like the States.

Canada's thready national identity is irritatingly buttressed with a long streak of antti-Americanism and that streak will only go longer if Americans come here for partisan reasons.

Yankee stay home!