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Jay Currie

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5/21/2005

Provocatively Non-Partisan

Over at Bree's Blog a friend of hers, Mel, who blogs admirably at Chandrasutra takes the notion of non-partisanship to task. I replied in the comments and a cleaned up version appears here.

"And as much as I disagree with your friend Jay I feel more "trust" where his voice is concerned because he is so openly, brazenly conservative - that's why I think it's so shocking/hilarious to see him connected to anything "non-partisan"."

Mel, I fear will be disappointed simply because I am not at all conservative. A radical, classical liberal - maybe. A libertarian - on weekdays beginning with the letter "T".

One of the reasons why I classify myself as non-partisan - and why James Bow with whom I often disagree accepted my membership - is that I tend to be civil in my postings. This is because I have not the slightest interest in actual political power.

Partisans are people who devoutly believe that their party, for the good of the nation (and possibly because of God's own commands), absolutely must hold power. I believe that anyone who believes this is dangerous. Because, instead of doing what they believe to be right, they will do what it takes to be elected. The two are very different ordering principles.

Having begun my interest in politics at a Young Socialists meeting back when Stocky though dinosaurs stalked the earth, my political evolution has been, if anything, towards a realistic appraisal of just how distorting the quest for power can become.

When you have political parties driven by polling rather than issues, politicians incapable of taking a stand without a focus group, you have a political system ripe for collapse and radical revision.

Which is where I believe Canada is at the moment.

My own contribution - other than having a little fun at various parties' expense - is to try and consider "What next". What do we do after Canada as we have known it is done down by its own contradictions and their corrupting effect on our political class.

Economically I believe in free markets; but that does not say a thing about my views on distributive justice. Socially I am against the state having much to do with the regulation of people's conduct unless and until that conduct actually leads to violence. Internationally, I strongly believe that the West must defend itself, that the Middle East must be reformed so that the odious regimes which currently repress their peoples are removed, and that the pre-9/11 status quo was delusional and immoral. Christopher Hitchens has been making many of those points rather more eloquently than I can.

Perhaps the best way of explaining my habit of mind is to take a specific example: Kyoto. I do not believe in Kyoto because a) I think the science behind human causes of global warming is sketchy, b) if it turns out that there is a significant human component then Kyoto is a truly dreadful agreement because it will be totally ineffective in actually reducing the output of carbon dioxide, c) virtually no state, including Canada, is actually going to adhere to their commitment, d) the effect of Kyoto will be to divert resources from actions which would save the lives of people who are alive and on the edge right now, e) the increasing price and scarcity of fossil fuels will mean the main sources of carbon release will be surplanted by market driven conservation and technological solutions. From where I sit the political elites in Canada and much of the rest of the world have simply gone along with Kyoto as a symbol of their commitment to the enviornment. Sadly, the electorates of many nations have bought into the symbol without realizing that Kyoto's entire thrust is not enviornmental but rather symbolic. After all, no one seriously concerned with the issue of emission would have exempted India and China whose economies are the fastest growing large economies in the world and who use energy about 1/7th as efficiently as the West.

The point of the non-partisan is to remain free to point out the humbug offered up by all of the political parties while praising, where possible, people like Ed Broadbent, willing to sacrifice short term political gain for basic human decency.

Lib Logs

In the great race of life even the also rans need a group blog...so do the Grits...now why they would call themselves Lib Logs beats me...Perhaps a way of showing willing on softwood lumber. Whatever.

It includes pith such as:

Some will call this opportunism, and it is to a certain extent, but you cannot forget the business mentality. When all is said and done, you don't want the deal to fall through.
cherniak on politics
It's a nice look at "Let's Make a Deal" politics from the perspective that opportunism is, as Martha would say, a good thing.

Definitely worth stopping by for the spin, the talking points and the sheer desperation.

Galloway Undone

It takes a little more than this to wound your correspondent--I could still hold a martini without spilling it when I was "the greatest polemicist of our age" in 2001--but please note that the real thrust is contained in the word "Trotskyist." Galloway says that the worst day of his entire life was the day the Soviet Union fell. His existence since that dreadful event has involved the pathetic search for an alternative fatherland. He has recently written that, "just as Stalin industrialised the Soviet Union, so on a different scale Saddam plotted Iraq's own Great Leap Forward." I love the word "scale" in that sentence. I also admire the use of the word "plotted."
christopher hitchens, weekly standard
Left or right you owe it to yourself to read the bludgeoning Hitchens administers to traitor Galloway.

The Bigger Questions

Over at BlogsCanada Egroup there is a discussion of bigger questions, namely, wither Canada in the wake of last weeks events and Gomery. Go read the whole discussion. More for my own reference, I am posting two comments I made there here,


Canada sans Quebec
Let's start with Quebec.

For a long time I have thought it would be best for Quebec to just go. Have a referendum on a clear question without the feds violating Quebec election laws and, if the soverigntists win (which they almost certainly will), go.

I have some time for the arguments that Northern Quebec and the Island of Montreal should hold concurrent referendums on whether or not to remain in Canada. But not enough to go to war over it. Let's face it, anglo Montreal has been hollowing out for years and the majority of non-francophones left are actually immigrants and allophones. And I'm afraid that I have not the slightest interest in going to war with my many French Canadian friends to try and steal the hydropower which they built in Norther Quebec. (I would feel quite differently if the Cree had built it; but they didn't and they are welcome to the several gazillion square miles of muskeg which surround the hydro installations.)

That said, what would change with a "Oui" vote? Not much. Quebec would be able to negotiate its way into NAFTA, it would no longer have to deal with nosy feds pushing one size fits all health and education policy. It already has its own pension plan, collects its own taxes and has its own police force. It even has its own foreign policy establishment.

So what changes?

Essentially, Ontario becomes even more oversized than it is now. And much richer as it will no longer have the economic drag of transfer payments and Bombardier style sweetheart deals to finance.

Alberta and BC become richer and even the Maritimes are better off because what equalization there is will go to provinces with much smaller populations.

Quebec will be free to pursue her destiny as she sees fit. And Quebec may be richer as she will no longer be on the receiving end of the transactions of decline embodied in transfer payments which have lef her with an underdeveloped industrial, service and high tech economy. It will be tough for a few years but it will get better as the Quebecois find their feet as a nation.

Where, exactly, is the downside here?

Indeed, can anyone provide me with a reason why we should not be encouraging Quebec to stand on her own two feet and moving on?


Decentralization and the Pushy Feds

"get rid of government programs we don't like in our neck of the woods' then an honest reason for devolving powers to the provincial level."

Well, yes.

Part of the reason so many people in Canada favour further decentralization is that they do not like the programs initiated by the federal government. The CRTC, CBC television, the aboriginal land claims process, tarriffs designed to protect Ontario industry, SSM, the Indian Act, pot laws, interest rates, rates of federal government spending, rate of federal debt reduction, immigration policy.

In many cases these programs and laws intrude or have intruded on provincial jurisdiction in a manner which people in various provinces have not approved of. They have kept voting against the Liberals but the intrusiveness of the Federal Government just keeps growing.

Now, Quebec has simply said the Hell with it and, on healthcare, despite the Canada Health Act (which, in itself is a gross violation of provincial jurisdiction) has allowed the emergence of a flourish private sector in healthcare. (Lead by Paul Martin's personal physician.) As Quebec is leaving anyway this is no big deal but it is illustrative of the diminishing respect provinces have for the federal government.

Increasingly, the federal government seems to be looking for something to do. The national daycare program is a great example. No one asked the feds to provide daycare. No one suggested "Hey, go invade a provincial jurisdiction." Nope, the Liberals, bereft of any useful ideas simply decided that daycare (in officially licenced facilities and not from grandma or, heaven forbid, a stay at home mum or dad) was now a national priority.

This sort of federal pushiness is why so many Canadians are looking seriously at bidding Ottawa a not so fond farewell.

5/20/2005

Pseudoscience Detection

Polite Company offers useful tips on detecting scientific quackery.

1) "Aristotlean", "Newtonian", or "Western Science" (apparently "Baconian" sounds too weird to be used much). These all mean the same thing (but only to the delusional): that there is, somehow, an Eastern and a Western science. Part of this is seated in reverse jingoism (ie. everything here sucks, everything from somewhere else rocks) and part in the usual wish fulfillment that drives the pseudosciences and their believers. The bad news for these folks is that there is only one scientific method, and it's used East and West. Pseudoscience, however, can come in all sorts of lovely shapes and sizes.
polite company
Read the whole thing...

CIRA Screwed

A Canadian Federal Court of Appeal's decision, released Thursday afternoon, upheld a ruling last year denying the recording industry's demand that Internet Service Providers be forced to reveal the identities of 29 people that the Canadian Recording Industry Association had identified as major downloaders.
globe and mail
Federal Court of appeals Justice Edgar Sexton allowed as how copyright holders have a right to bring suit for infringement but noted that they had to be able to actually point to the IP address which was used for the sharing and the person attached to that IP address...Good luck. As Sexton, J notes,
udge Sexton also noted that Internet Protocol addresses - the numbers assigned to individual users by the ISPs - are dynamic and can change rapidly. He said a suit must be able to prove that an IP address identified as being used for downloads can be linked to the person accused of sharing content illegally.

Observers say this would be very difficult, since the IP numbers that some ISPs assign customers are changed from one session to the next.
globe and mail
I have not read the decision yet but will over the weekend.

Liberals' Powerlust

Unfortunately, that the government survived by one man’s virtue does not absolve the rest of the Liberals of their vice, namely that of doing whatever they can to cling to power—disrespecting democracy, each other and all Canadians. Seriously, folks, one gets the feeling the Liberals would change their name to The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada if they thought it would help them stay elected.
media scout
Normally I consider Maisonneuve Magazine's Media Scout, John Lofranco, on the Liberal lefty end of the spectrum. But maybe because he is based in Montreal he understands the truly sinister conduct of the Liberal Party in the last few weeks.

The Ambler

Kevin Grace is having none of the softsoap:

I'm watching CTV's coverage of the Budget vote, and I can't believe what I'm seeing and hearing. Strike that. I can well believe it. It is entirely typical of this doomed country. What is at stake this afternoon is not the budget, nor are the partisan consequences of vote particularly important. The issue here is whether Parliamentary government will survive in Canada. And no one—not Lloyd Robertson or fellow zombie Craig Oliver, nor any of the meat puppets they've selected to smirk and nod their heads, Deb Grey, Joy McPhail, Stan Keyes—gives a toss about this.
the ambler
Is this extreme? Well yes; but the performance of the Liberal Party in the last two weeks has made a mockery of the most basic premises of Parliamentary government. While there may be silver linings for the Tories at a political level, Canada and her Parliament have been raped, again and again, so that little men might continue in office.

And our media simply stood and watched and suggested that anyone who objected to the rape needed to practice their anger management skills.

Update: Darkness Visible: I am not at all sure I agree with Kevin Grace's summing up. The problem is that I cannot find any of the dark things he says about Canada's descent into a gangster state actually wrong. Nor do I think he is wrong when he predicts a PQ government in Quebec and a solid Yes vote to a clear question in a soverignty referendum.

The contempt the Liberals have shown for the Constitution of Canada, our traditions and our Parliament may very well result in the end of our nation.

Yes, it is that serious.

5/19/2005

Monte's Take

The vote totals 152 to 152. Now Peter, he says it is the duty of the Speaker to break the tie. He cites tradition as his guide. As tradition dictates he votes to continue the government. A roar comes from the Liberal lobby.

Martin rises and calls for cooperation. Stephen rises and points to the division and vows to be a Loyal Opposition and Government in waiting. We can put away the lawn signs I guess.
monte solberg

So its a tie...which keeps the Liberals in

Now we have a break for, perhaps, three or four weeks.

The Conservatives may very well be relieved.

Canada, however, may very well not recover from the ugliness of the Liberals manner of winning.

Monte

Monte Solberg is live blogging - sort of - from his blackberry.

Ha, Ha

Bidding is up to $2.75... via shotgun

Kilgour has had enough...

"Many Canadians appear not to favour an early election," MP David Kilgour said in a statement.

"However I think it's important to clear the political air through an election."

The news comes as the clock ticks down to two crucial non-confidence votes in Parliament today.
ctv
Had Belinda not defected this would be enough...but now Mr. Cadman has to make a decision.

Update: From the CBC. Kilgour says,
"The deciding factor was about what the postponement of an election will do to the Canadian fiscal position," said Kilgour, citing a "continuing stream of rapidly expanding spending programs."
cbc
Yup!

Go Read Wretchard

The Belmont Club is a fairly key blog for international affairs junkies. Now Wretchard has turned his steely, well-informed, gaze at the Parliamentary antics.

A recent Belmont Club post noted that 'victories' won by the Left with these tactics were more properly understood as acts of desperation by those who feared their long term decline, as if in slipping from the pinnacle, they despaired of ever regaining it again.

The survival of Paul Martin's government, shaken by scandal after scandal, has been bought at the price of violating the spirit of the Westminister system by ignoring what was effectively a vote of no-confidence until they could bribe someone to cross the aisle to square the count. Martin survived but only by bending the rulebook. A Canadian conservative victory without Martin's shennanigans would have been an unremarkable and narrow electoral triumph. But the Liberal Party of Canada's actions now mean that the issues dividing political factions in the Great White North are fundamental. By demonstrating a determination to hold on to power at all costs Martin is increasing the likelihood of a radical, rather than an incremental solution to the Canadian crisis.
belmont club

Deadmen Walking

I don't think the government will fall tonight. Or, even if Dithers loses on the second, Buzz Hargrove, budget that the oily little man will do the decent thing and resign.

And I am not sure it matters.

A couple of weeks ago Harper talked about the Liberals having lost the moral authority to govern. He was premature. It took the last two weeks of bribery, betrayal and complete contempt for the unwritten conventions of Parliament for the last vestiges of the Liberals legitimacy to evaporate leaving no more than a stain for a government.

Winning tonight, by a vote or two will do nothing to erase the sleeze, the corruption and the utter lack of ethics which has become the trademark of the Liberals in power. What it may do is give the CPC the opportunity to put forward something a little better thought out than "Me too."

Because, while I have been disqusted with the Liberals I have not been the least bit impressed with the CPC's willingness to tag along.

For real change to come to Canada, and there is no question that real change is needed, the CPC has to articulate a vision of a Tory Canada which offers something more than, "Just like the Liberals but without the corruption".

They need to begin by taking a serious look at why Belinda left and why a large number of their potential supporters are sitting on their hands. And, no, it is not just SSM. Rather it is an entire mindset driven by the most reactionary members of the social conservative right.

As regular readers know, I have no time for political correctness; but I have a lot of time for treating individuals as equals before the law.

If the Tory party took equal rights seriously it could focus on the Liberals' systematic undermining of the family through the tax system, it could attack the discrimination inherent in parental benefits for working mothers but not for stay at home mums, it could propose tax cuts which made it possible for people to stay at home and raise their own children.

Most of all, by beginning with individual equality, the Tories could get to work destroying the myth that they are scary or callous.

Losing the vote in the Commons tonight could be the making of a modern Conservative Party.

For the Liberals, a win will simply postpone the day of reckoning. All their bribes, their promises, their spending spree and even the acquisition of Belinda will not disipate the fury in Quebec, the anger in the West and the growing realization in Ontario that the Liberal Party is the problem, not the solution.

5/18/2005

An Offer You Can't Refuse

Murphy goes on to say (to CPC MP Gurmant Grewal), "In advance of that explicit discussions about Senate, not Senate I don't think are very helpful and I don't think can be had in advance of an abstention tomorrow."

He says discussions could be held later.

"You can easily say, if you don't like, you can stay home or stay back where you are or if you do like we can make an arrangement that allows you to move."
politics watch
Coyne is all over this. But, and I break my rule not to link Kinsella, Warren Kinsella asks the essential question.
Canada, and Canadians, deserve better than this. If you are a Member of Parliament - or you know someone who is - listen to that bit of tape, and ask yourself:

Is this what it has come to, at long last? Is this what we deserve? Is this what we are going to get?

And - most of all - isn't it time for a change?
warren kinsella
Ok, I've emailed Chuck Cadman...you can too at

Cadman.C@parl.gc.ca

It looks to me as if it is going to come down to Chuck and he needs to know that there are an awful lot of Canadians who have had enough.

Ted Morton on Constitutional Conventions

The deeper problem is that having become accustomed to judicial re-writing of our written constitutional rules, Canadians collectively appear to have become de-sensitized to politicians re-writing of our unwritten constitutional conventions. …The public has reacted with indifference.

It is this type of hollowing out of the public conviction behind foundational political traditions like "responsible government"—but also freedom of speech and property rights—that constitute the most serious long-term threat to our political liberty.

Once principles that were previously understood to be "above politics" are considered to be mere instruments of partisan self-interest, to be re-interpreted to suit short-term political convenience, we are into perilous times.
lorne gunther
Which is much more serious than Belinda. The Liberals willingness to simply ignore constitutional convention and schedule what they call non-confidence votes for partisan advantage illustrates a profound contempt for Parliamentary democracy.

Underneath the posturings of the House of Commons is a thousand years of Parliamentary history and a base assuption: that the men (and women) elected to the House are, or will try to act like, gentlemen.

What that means is that MPs, Cabinet Ministers and the PM are, or rather, were, expected to keep their words, appologize for un-Parliamentary language, respect the rulings of the Speaker of the House and honour the finely woven fabric of the traditions of that House.

The Liberals in the last week have simply ripped that fabric to pieces for their own gain.

Morton points out that the public has reacted with indifference. Which is to be expected and which the Liberals have taken utterly cynical advantage of. Why should the public have the slightest clue about Parliamentary tradition or convention? Lord knows it is not taught in our schools and the television world could not possibly explain a set of ideas which have evolved to curb tyranny over 1000 years of English History.

One the gifts of an ahistorical, everybody included, multicultural educational system are people who have never been taught a thing about the history from which Canada's cultural and political traditions arise.

So they will have no clue at all about why it is critical to preserve and protect those traditions.

Which Martin and his gang know all too well.

Wisdom from a Carbuncle

Now, back to the struggle. The next few weeks will be the test for Stephen Harper. Is he tough enough for the job? Is he smart enough? It's time to take it to the people. Hit the streets, Stephen. Pull a Martin and go on every talk show and every radio program you can find. Do interview after interview. Stop talking about Adscam. We'll do that. We're all over it. We've got your back. Tell the people what you want the country to look like in ten years. Tell them what you dream about. Offer hope and vision. Don't ask people to like you, command their respect. Let us hear about what Canada could be doing in Darfur. Talk to us about freedom and responsibility. Give us your promise on personal tax cuts. Stop being cowed by the media. Stop insulting the intelligence of Canadians by assuming that we really want every thing the sickening Liberals are throwing at us.
occam's carbuncle
With or without Belinda this is critical advice. Right now Harper looks shell shocked. He's playing some sort of weird little game about voting for and then against the Budget (and yes, I and two hundred thousand politcal junkies know it is two seperate bills - the vast majority of Canadians don't and could care less.)

He needs to look as if he is in charge and ready to run to implement a real vision of Canada. Trying to outwit the Liberals at tactics is like trying to beat Rommel in a tank battle - but remember who Rommel was fighting for. For the Tories to gain traction they need to slash to the philosophical core of the Liberal Party...and engage Dithers at that level. The platitudes which pass for policy in Liberal land can and should be laughed at as hard as the Press Gallery laughed at Martin as he announced Stronach.

Ridicule is the best weapon against a tired, disreputable Liberal Party. Harper should use it.

5/17/2005

Surely the Best Comment on Belinda

Sean, Polspy, Here.

STV Dead

While the popular vote for STV is running 56.5%, it has only passed in 13 of the 48 ridings needed. As 60% of pupular vote is required looks like we're going to continue with first past the post.

NDP hits the bar

At 5.75 a beer, the crowd is staying relatively sober at NDP headquarters in Victoria. But the ballroom is still packed with hugging, cheering dippers. People here are definitely treating this like a win so far.
comment at The Tyee
Gone are the days when a few of the boys would round up some Luckys and have a celebration at the Union Hall...Long gone.

Meanwhile SDA goes over the line

No people, publishing the woman's cell phone number just makes you look as cheap as she is. No link, too tacky.

Uh Oh

I was linked in Antonia Zerbisias' new blog at the Toronto Star...I am now, officially, very afraid. Got two hits already.

GreenDay

While the Greens have not elected a soul in BC they are running at 9% of the popular vote. Enought to have cost the NDP several seats. And, as the NDP are looking at 30 seats to the Liberals 40, this will cause some disgruntlement.

Live Blogging the BC Election

Over at The Tyee a remarkably jolly group of lefties is watching Carole James lift the party...well up from two seats. Very civilized.

Staggering

The Conservatives will vote in support of the federal budget, Tory Leader Stephen Harper announced hours after high-profile MP Belinda Stronach defected to the Liberals.
cbc
OK..call me dense but is this not the single weirdest reaction anyone could have to having their bicycle stolen? Has Steve had a few ales with the heart broken Peter and just said the first thing that came into a fuddled head.

But, wait, there's more...
"It's our intention to support Bill C-43, the original budget," Harper said on Tuesday night. "We'll oppose Bill C-48, which was the deal with the NDP, which is complete irresponsible fiscal policy."
cbc
So, after all the fire and brimestone of the last week the CPC is going to oppose the deal which brought the NDP on board to support the budget which the idiots in the CPC have just announced they would support.

Brilliant!

The Constitution as Public Convenience

Kevin Grace kindly bought me a beer or seventeen and we talked about the strange day in which Belinda has shown her mettle. Or, to be more exact, we didn't. Rather we talked about the end of the Canadian constitution and what it might mean.

What seems to have happened is that a cynical, and that is understating the case, politcal party has decised to suspend the conventions which are an implicit part of the Constitution, for its own advantage. The GG has remained silent. Parliament has been silenced.

We no longer have a constitution or a Parliament - we have an autocrat.

Ontario is ok with this.

True Grit

Assuming for the moment that the Grits knew Stronach was waivering, their strategy of refusing to acknowledge confidence votes makes perfect sense.

If anything it makes the entire matter even more unprincipled; but that cannot matter to a Dithers desperate to stay in power. The only thing which counts from the Grit perspective is staying in power and, that goal firmly in mind, it simply didn't matter if they had to trash constitutional convention. After all, they were pretty sure that with another week Stronach would come across.

For those of us who believe that the Liberal Party of Canada has become, more or less, a mafia, this behaviour comes as no surprise. The only surprise is just how damn good at it they are.

Update: Colby Cosh invoke Michael Bliss to make much the same point at somewhat greater length...

Oh Shit!

In an explosive development leading up to Thursday's dramatic budget vote, Conservative MP Belinda Stronach has crossed the floor to join the Liberal Party as the new Human Resources Development Minister.
globe and mail
You'd have to be much more of a CPC supporter than I am to see this as a good thing. No doubt it will be spun that way.

It does have a couple of interesting implications. First, it gives Harper a way out of defeating the government on Thursday. Given the way in which the polls are running, or rather sloshing around, this may be a very good thing. Second, it removes yet another roadblock to the socons running away with the CPC. Which I think is a terrible thing but may be a necessary step before the CPC is ready to govern.

On Further Thought: I have said a number of times that the CPC's stand on SSM may well cost them the election...It may have already.
"I respect deeply the moral positions that some of you may have, but I cannot bring myself to support a status quo that says to another citizen that he or she cannot enjoy the same civil rights I already have," she says in a statement posted prominently on her web site.

"This is just not fair."
stronach webiste, quoted in globe and mail

5/16/2005

"Schwarzenegger rats" and living to be 120 - Oh Joy!

Steroids are merely a primitive form of human enhancement, however. H. Lee Sweeney of the University of Pennsylvania suggests that the recent Athens Olympics may have been the last without genetically enhanced athletes. His researchers have created super-muscled "Schwarzenegger rats." They're built like steers, with necks wider than their heads. They live longer and recover more quickly from injuries than do their unenhanced comrades. Sweeney sees it as only a matter of time before such technology seeps into the sports world.
washington post
Rather than wasting a lot of time arguing about SSM it would behoove the Canadian chattering and political classes to bone up on their human enhancement science.

A good place to start is Inventing Our Evolution which ran today in the Washington Post. This is society shifting stuff and it is happening right now:
In the next couple of decades, Kurzweil predicts, life expectancy will rise to at least 120 years. Most diseases will be prevented or reversed. Drugs will be individually tailored to a person's DNA. Robots smaller than blood cells -- nanobots, as they are called -- will be routinely injected by the millions into people's bloodstreams. They will be used primarily as diagnostic scouts and patrols, so if anything goes wrong in a person's body, it can be caught extremely early.

Brilliant!

Calgary Grit, with whom I almost never agree, has a hilarious sendup of the current rounds of pandering and me tooism...Go read it here. Of course Grit thinks all this would be a bad thing...

(Hattip Heart of Canada via Non-Partisan Canadian Bloggers)

Newsweek Koran Fib Aftermath

Much to Juan Cole's dismay it turns out the Koran desecration story - which seemd to have woken up the proverbial Muslim "street" true or not - is not, acutally, er, true. Dan Gillmor has a suggestion,

I'm starting to think that unnamed sources who lie like this should be outed. No, this is not a call for journalists to break their promises. But maybe we should tell people who demand anonymity that they will be outed if it turns out they lied. This would undoubtedly lead to fewer stories based on unnamed sources, but it might also lead to more honorable journalism.
bayosphere
Which will not do much for the dozens of people killed in the predictable anti-American demos the story occasioned; but it would be a start.

Get Me Rewrite...

Then for three days running the Liberals were either unable to avoid adjournment or unable to convene the House. For centuries, this has been deemed a measure of the Commons’ confidence. If a government cannot even manage to keep the doors open and the lights on in the Commons, it has lost the confidence of the people’s elected representatives and must resign or ask the Governor General to issue the election writs.

The Liberals, of course, have done neither. They have arrogantly stuck to their talking points about how all this is merely procedural. In effect, the Liberals have rewritten the Constitution for their own purposes.
lorne gunther
This is a point entirely lost on the majority of the Canadian population who have been lulled into the belief that a Prime Minister is somehow a President. The rewrite of our constitutional conventions simply furthers the erosion of the essential ideas which underlie Parliamentary democracy.

The sad part is that Canada no longer teaches its citizens very much about their own Constitution other than making the general assertion that having a Charter of Rights is a good thing. I rather doubt that is accidental.

Bloggers cover BC Election

Blogs are increasingly attractive to voters who are tired of reading the news and want to make it, says Langley blogger Jordan Bateman.

"I think voters want to talk more than they have in the past. If you went to a coffee shop or pub and talked politics with a stranger, it's sort of intimidating. With a blog you can respond immediately. I think that's the real draw," says the www.langleypolitics.com webmaster and B.C. Liberal organizer.
the province
Of course there is no actual danager of "reading the news" in The Province.

News, I think...

Perhaps the widest gap of all: 8 in 10 journalists said they read blogs, while less than 1 in 10 others do so. Still, a majority of the news pros do not believe bloggers deserve to be called journalists.

Asked who they voted for in the past election, the journalists reported picking Kerry over Bush by 68% to 25%. In this sample of 300 journalists, from both newspapers and TV, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 3 to 1 -- but about half claim to be Independent. As in previous polls, a majority (53%) called their political orientation "moderate," versus 28% liberal and 10% conservative.
editor and publisher
The 68/25 Kerry Bush number will come as no surprise to anyone who was reading the Times (NY or LA), Washington Post or Boston Globe. And people wonder why newspaper circulation is going down - fast.

An Urban Conservative Approach to Childcare

Early childhood is one of the most important periods of a child's life, but governments spend one-fortieth per child at this age than they do on older children. This is old-style thinking; clearly our childcare system needs to be changed. There are three ways we can do this. The first is by making it easier for a mother or a father to choose to stay at home to care for their children. The second is to help parents in finding and paying for privately-run daycare. The key for these two options is to make both of them affordable and equally accessible, by doing the following:

- eliminate any tax inequities between single and dual income families;
- allow the deduction for dependent children to be taken from the highest income-earner;
- amend the income tax act to remove all tax disadvantages to families, including those who care for children at home;
- acknowledge the economic value of stay at home parents by introducing income splitting;
- General tax relief for all parents of young children.
keith fountain, priorities
The third, needless to say, is to have th government do it.

This is the sort of platform thinking which the CPC should be banging away at. Not only do they need to slam the Liberals for seeing early childcare as best done by the state, they also have to address the very real concerns parents of young children have.

"Urban Conservative"

Don over at All Things Canadian quotes the Ottawa Sun on Keith Fountain, the new CPC nominee in Ottawa Centre.

Tories have elected a self-described "urban Conservative" who supports gay marriage to run in the historically left-leaning riding in the next federal election.
Keith Fountain, 40, won the Conservative nomination handily at yesterday's meeting at the Glebe Community Centre. He defeated party veterans Idris Ben-Tahir, an information scientist and pupil of John Diefenbaker, and Guy Dufort, a lawyer with Heenan Blaikie who is also a former president of the Quebec wing of the party.
Fountain joined Canada's Foreign Service in 1990 and helped to open Canada's embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2003.
He says the key element of urban conservatism is giving people choice in their personal lives. Unlike many in his party, Fountain says he supports same-sex marriage.
all things canadian
I couldn't be happier. And Fountain gets it right - a key element in the urban conservative project is giving people choice in their personal lives. Or, put another way, keeping the government out of those personal lives.

And, yes, Fountain has a blog which you can find here.

5/15/2005

Solar Chimney

The "Solar Tower" will be a 200 megawatt electrical generating plant that gets its energy from harnessing the daily solar heating of the desert surface. This heat creates a self-contained wind field that drives a network of 32 turbines. The concept is marvelously simple, but is still an engineering challenge. The 3,000 foot tall "chimney" at the center will dwarf other buildings around the world, standing nearly twice as tall as "Taipei 101" in Taiwan. The glass-covered canopy surrounding the tower will be about four miles in diameter. A much smaller version of the Australian facility was built in Spain, and operated continuously between 1982 and 1989. Once built, the facility will continue to produce electricity indefinitely.
techcentralstation
This is a very smart idea.

While it is handy to have the Outback to build this in the physics is all about a temperature gradient created by solar heating. In principle you could build one of these things anywhere there was an abundance of sunlight. And, as Roy Spencer points out in his article, there are likely some optimizations - putting black material under the glass for example - which might improve the efficiency and lower the cost of the instalation.

Google Art

I had always figured that Google stored its holiday art somewhere...Here to be exact. The logo above was for MC Escher's birthday,June 16, 2003. They are done by Dennis Hwang...who, if he was in on the IPO, may well be the best paid graphic designer in the world.

Say it isn't so

Why, Prime Minister Martin walked along the ravaged coast of Kalumnai and was, reported Canada's CTV network, "visibly shaken." President Bush might well have been shaken, but he wasn't visible, and in the international compassion league, that's what counts. So Martin boldly committed Canada to giving $425 million to tsunami relief. "Mr. Paul Martin Has Set A Great Example For The Rest Of The World Leaders!" raved the LankaWeb news service.

You know how much of that $425 million has been spent so far? Fifty thousand dollars -- Canadian. That's about 40 grand in U.S. dollars. The rest isn't tied up in Indonesian bureaucracy, it's back in Ottawa. But, unlike horrible "unilateralist" America, Canada enjoys a reputation as the perfect global citizen, renowned for its commitment to the U.N. and multilateralism. And on the beaches of Sri Lanka, that and a buck'll get you a strawberry daiquiri. Canada's contribution to tsunami relief is objectively useless and rhetorically fraudulent
mark steyn
Mark does not usually make mistakes with claims like this.

Assuming it is true we need one Question Period before the Election to find out why.

Rockanomics

Daniel Gross has an interesting article in Slate on a long paper published by Princeton labour economist Alan Krueger.(Krueger's article is PDF and 86 pages.)

The nugget for me was the fact that the top acts make much more money from touring than selling records. How much more? It is difficult to get the numbers exactly right simply because artists may be touring to support a record that was released the year before; but 10x is not out of the question. In fact, for bands like the Rolling Stones, touring income is really the whole story.

Gross attributes this to downloading and, no doubt, that is part of the story; but the other part of the story is that the bands which are making their big dollars touring - for 2002 Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Elton John - most are selling nostalgia to boomers. And those boomers have already got the boxed sets of the bands they like.

If you look at Eminem or Jay-Z the figures are very different with record sales exceeding touring. My bet is this is generational. The people who are actually making music rather than reselling music they wrote thirty years ago are actually selling records.

Krueger's paper covers a whole range of issues from CD sales to scalping and is a wonderful example of what real world based economic analysis can reveal.