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Jay Currie

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5/28/2005

Voting Non for the Wrong reasons

To French anti-constitution campaigners, proposals such as these represent exactly the Anglo-Saxon model of unfettered capitalism that they believe is enshrined in the new document and that France should reject. With unemployment running at more than 10 per cent - twice the rate in Britain - and a perception that the new accession countries in central and eastern Europe are creating fierce competition for investment and jobs, there is a desire in France to turn back the tide.
the observer
France is in the midst of a flight to delusion with the central theme being the retention of the policies which have lead to an official 10% unemployment rate and an unofficial rate, which includes people who have simply dropped out of the labour market altogether (including many young, semi-French, Muslims) closer to 15%. Rather than recognize that a nation which allows strikes but not lockouts and has some of the shortest working hours and longest holidays in the West may not be exactly competitive, the French are rejecting the idea of economic competition itself.
These fears are amplified by the fast-growing accession countries to the east. With their cheap workers and flat tax regimes tailored to attract investment, the former communist countries tend to look to the US for inspiration as much as to the 'social market' capitalist model of Germany and France. '[A "no"] would be seen as a vote against economic reforms and as a vote against enlargement,' says Holger Schmieding of Bank of America.
the observer
Demographics, labour practices, a tradition of relying on state intervention and a failure to comprehend just how quickly the world is changing is leaving France (and Germany) on the economic sidelines.

There are many reasons to reject the centralizing Euro consittution but preserving a dirigiste social market economy which long since ceased to create any significant wealth is not one of them. Naturally it is the one the French left is campaigning on and, more worryingly, winning on.

Rules to Live By

Socar Miles turns her attention from rats to the Internet:

Always assume that any material posted on the Internet will eventually reach its least desirable audience. Naughty snapshots go to your mother. Photos of your kids running around in diapers go to pedophiles. Rude comments about your grandmother, who lives in a remote village in the Himalayas and makes her living weaving yak-blankets--well, if there's yak-butter on your seat at the next family reunion, don't say you weren't warned.
ratty's ghost

5/27/2005

Vintage Zerb

I'm sure that Bob will forgive me for treading on his patch but Antonia has the perfect demonstration as to why she - and the Toronto Star - are not to be trusted. Here's what she has up on her blog:

The New York Times' Thomas Friedman (registration required) says it's time to shut down ''the war-on-terrorism P.O.W. camp" at Guantanamo where over 100 prisoners have died, probably not from heart attacks:
Antonia Zerbisias
Heres what Tom Friedman wrote:
And it is now obvious from reports in my own paper and others that the abuse at Guantánamo and within the whole U.S. military prison system dealing with terrorism is out of control. Tell me, how is it that over 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody so far? Heart attacks? This is not just deeply immoral, it is strategically dangerous.
nyt
Zerb wants her readers to believe that 100 people have died at Gitmo, Friedman actually said that 100 have died in US custody which, even if true, is not the same thing. Given that the link is in her post you have to wonder if Zerb can, well, read.

French Loser Blames English

Government sources are braced for the French president to round on the Prime Minister and blame him for making the constitution too "Anglo-Saxon" on economic issues and for plunging Europe into crisis as a result.

The French people go to the polls on Sunday

They also expect Mr Chirac to launch a fresh assault on Britain's £3 billion rebate from the EU budget.

British diplomats believe that Mr Chirac will call for France, Germany and other nations to form a "core Europe" in which they can push ahead with integration without being held back by laggards such as Britain.
telegraph
Much of the French disagreement with the proposed Euro Constitution arises from its terms promoting competition and markets which the French Left sees as opening the door to globalization. How delightful to have this seen as too Anglo-Saxon by an economy which is mired in demographic and productivity decline.

At two hundred pages one might suggest the very length of the proposed document suggests it is not Anglo-Saxon enough.

A Great Idea

New Non-Partisan Blogger Derek Richards from Words without Walls makes this suggestion:

Manley to Join Conservatives

The more I think about this the more it makes sense to me. A rival to Paul Martin and very critical from the sidelines.

John, why wait on the bench during this void in direction from your former party.

You don't like the way the country has come to a standstill. No progress on the U.S. files, increased spending that puts to shame the legacy budget.

The Liberals change leaders about every 10 years while the Conservatives do so every couple. Your former party needs to select a francophone next time around and the Conservatives require a sensible Ontario leader. Canadians are hoping for something like this to occur so they can dump your former party on it's ass.
words without walls
I don't think Harper should go at the moment; but if the CPC cannot break through in the next election there will have to be a change in the leadership. The question is who?? There are not a lot of household names reaching for the tarnished ring.

Manley is a well respected, relatively clean, rightish Liberal with strong Ontario credentials and good support in the business community. While he might not be able to deliver south of the 401, he would do just fine in commuter land. Plus he has very, very, strong government experience which is presently lacking in the Tory front bench.

Not at all a bad idea.

SSM bites the CPC

In the Globe and Mail today there was a Leger Poll suggesting that the Grits are 11 points ahead of the hapless CPCers:

"The problem isn't the leader, it is the party and its social policies," pollster Jean-Marc Léger said in an interview yesterday. "The Conservatives have not shown they can be a credible alternative to the Liberals. Despite a full year of minority [Liberal] government, despite the sponsorship scandal, despite the fiery debate over the budget, the Conservatives have not made any inroads across Canada. In fact, they have lost some ground. And the problem isn't Stephen Harper.....Part of the Conservatives' problem, the survey suggests, may have more to do with the number of Canadians, especially in Quebec and Ontario, who are mistrustful of Mr. Harper's stand on social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage as well as his pro-U.S. positions.
globe and mail


I am amused to see the SSM position coming home to roost.

When I, and a few righty bloggers like Sean at Polspy and Nick at Ghost of a Flea said we couldn't vote for the CPC simply because of its position on SSM we were roundly condemned by our more partisan Tory friends.

Their argument was that the vital thing was to elect a Consevative government and to do that the Tories needed all hands on deck.

Along with my principled position on SSM being the right thing to do for equality before the law reasons, I was also convinced that the anti-SSM position was political suicide in urban Canada. Not just on the issue itself but on what the issue symbolized.

Now I have little time for Leger polls, they do yo-yo. But the trend they indicate confirms my suspicion the CPC has made exactly the wrong choice of cleavage issue. What they should have focused on was debt repayment, tax reduction, service improvement and responsible government using the Adscam fiasco as the spring board to rip into the Liberals spend until you drop fiscal management. Instead, on matters fiscal, they wander around behind Martin yelling "me too". Which means their cleavage issue is SSM which makes them look like bigotted hicks and lets the Grits off the drubbing they should be taking on dumb ass ideas like federal daycare.

I have not the slightest clue what Harper's personal beliefs on SSM are. I suspect, like many of us of this generation, he might well see it as a non-issue at a personal level.

But what Harper and the CPC did was, when faced with the opportunity to take a stand in favour of an equal rights position and run with that agenda into the many areas where rights are not equal, cave to the socons.

Maybe they thought they needed to in order to keep the old Reform Party folk on board, or maybe they were intimidated by the Focus on the Family/anti-abortion people taking on and winning nominations. Or maybe they simply were asking the wrong questions in the overnights: "Are you in favour of gay marriage?" will poll very differently than "Do you support equal rights for all Canadians?"

Whatever the reason the CPC and Harper collapsed and it is costing them big in urban Canada, Quebec and, apparently, on either side of the 401.

Update: The Globe runs an article on how the Focus on the Family evangelical Christian socons have been taking over CPC riding associations. All fair and democratic but suicidal for the Tories if they hope to win government.
"The Defend Marriage Coalition engaged in a concerted effort to help pro-marriage candidates become nominated," Dr. McVety said.

"There is a desire to see pro-marriage nominees as candidates right across the country. We know that we have 141 pro-marriage MPs now and our hope is to achieve a pro-marriage Parliament."
globe and mail
Would you like a torque with that spin Dr. McVety? It is hardly as if people seeking the right to be married are, well, anti-marriage.

UpDate II: Now that I am linking to Kinsella again, great spin on the CPC's theocon dilemma:
Well, if it's true, they're done like dinner. Stick in the proverbial fork, man.

But it's also an opportunity for Stephen Harper. Let a few more ridings get hijacked, then make a big show out of refusing to sign their nomination papers. Kick out the wackos, if need be.

Kills two birds with one stone: gets rid of a bunch of single-issue troublemakers. And gets you Ontario.

This one's a test.
warren kinsella
Of course that would pretty much kill Harper's commitment to party democracy and leave a bunch of fundys disinclined to vote Tory - but it would be a balance against VRO.

5/26/2005

Kinsella SLAPPED

Maybe, he quotes a National Post piece on the pending litigation with the nicely double edged remark: "Sorry, but there is nothing I can say about this. That's how it works."

In one of the most dramatic battles, a legal manoeuvre that could easily find its way into fiction, two close friends of Martin, Terrie O'Leary and Mike Robinson, have launched separate libel notices against onetime colleague and Jean Chretien loyalist Warren Kinsella. The legal action centres on claims Kinsella made at the public accounts committee about contracts Robinson's firm, Earnscliffe Research, won at the Finance Department under Martin's tenure as minister and relations between O'Leary and her close friend, Liberal campaign chair David Herle, a former Earnscliffe associate, at the same time.

Ottawa litigation lawyer John Telfer, who keeps a close eye on Parliament Hill affairs through his position as informal legal adviser to the Hill Times, says the legal action could inhibit further media coverage of Kinsella's accusations.
warren (get a permalink fella) kinsella
Having pasted Kinsella for threatening to sue assorted bloggers a few months ago, I can't help but be pleased to see the shoe on the other foot.

That said, my sense is that this is a part of a Liberal campaign to sideline people like Kinsella and Andrew Coyne with essentially spurious litigation. The objective is not to repair injured reputations; rather it is to cut off discussion of matters such as Earnscliffe which the Martinites prefer never to have discussed.

5/25/2005

The French Meltdown

And when they do they get nasty:

Former Socialist Minister of Culture and Education Jack Lang, one of the most eloquent proponents of a Yes vote on the left, brusquely called upon (French Prime Minister ed.)Raffarin to keep his mouth shut: "You should go into hiding. Let's be honest, every time you make an appearance we lose two percentage points."
nyt
The majority of the Left see the Euro Constitution as leading to globalization which is much hated on the farther shore of French socialism.

The proposed constitution itself is something of a brick, which has not deterred the French,
The text of the constitution, more than 200 pages long and by necessity a balancing act of political juggling, has become a bestseller in France, with book stores selling copies of the document by the hundreds of thousands.
nyt
As I have been reading reports on the Euro constitution I have been struck by just how detailed and how centralizing the document is. Which would assure the Non's of my vote Sunday.

Bird Flu

A leading scientist warned yesterday that the avian flu virus is on the point of mutating into a pandemic disease and says that current estimates that such a pandemic could cause 7.5m deaths may understate the threat.

His warnings come as experts writing in today's edition of Nature voice concerns about the world's inability to manufacture sufficient vaccines for a pandemic and warn of the impact that the virus - H5N1 - could have on the global economy.
the guardian
Canada and much of the West is embarked on a hugely expensive program to comply with the largely political goals of Kyoto. An adventure which is most unlikely to do a single thing to actually improve the global warming situation because it excludes both India and China.

Meanwhile, in South East Asia avian flu is mutating and learning how best to spread from human to human. This is an immediate threat and one for which we have real scientific evidence and, more to the point, scientifically feasible precautions which we can take.

Nature publishes a bit of future fiction in the form of a blog...The flu hits Christmas 2005.

(The good news is that Canada is somewhat more prepared than most Western countries with a decent stock of anti-virals. The bad is that a vaccine is months if not years away and the bird flu does not seem to be waiting.)

BBC/CBC

Boris Johnson writes in the Telegraph,

The corporation is a cultural and political anachronism, locked in a pre-1997 mindset. It is also, of course, rather wonderful. The reason that it is so immensely politically powerful is that its Leftist message is subconsciously legitimated by association with things that we love and cherish and make us proud to be British: the Archers, the Shipping Forecast, "Lillibulero", Doctor Who, the Proms - the list is endless. How could anyone possibly attack such a thing? BBC political bias is like the arms dump once hidden in the Parthenon. You could blow it up, but it would be an act of cultural vandalism for which future generations might not forgive you.
telegraph
And so I thought to myself, where is the CBC's Parthenon?

Hockey Night in Canada? Funny, we have survived without it and it could and should be done by a private boradcaster in any event...And then, well.

CBC-2 Radio. But this could be run by all of twenty people. What about the rest? For a billion a year - which you cannot even opt out of, as you can in England by not owning a TV - for what??

See the item below

The federal Liberals would consider ignoring a House of Commons defeat should they lose any of the several coming votes that are matters of confidence between now and the end of the spring session, Chief Government Whip Karen Redman says.

Although no final strategy has been decided, Ms. Redman said the government could respond to a defeat by bringing in a motion on whether the government has the confidence of Parliament to make sure MPs actually want an election.
globe and mail
And this confidence vote would be scheduled when? Well when there were sufficient Liberal MPs (and bribed NDPers) in the House to defeat it and not a second before.

Ms. Redman is reaching back to the Pearson precendent which Coyne demolishes here. One might call this the "no elections by mistake" rule. A rule which convieniently ignores the defeat of the Clark government on a counting "error".

The Civic vs. Therapeutic State

The therapeutic state is one in which a general election costing $200 million is considered more expensive than $4 billion to $5 billion in promises made by the party in power to stave off any desire for election among the public.
burkean canadian via lorne gunther
Russ Kuykendall explains what was at stake as the Liberals ran roughshod over constitutions convention in order to cling to power. And he should know: he spent years working on Parliament Hill in the Whips' office.

5/24/2005

Where's the money???

From section 7.3.2 of the Kroll Report, a sample contract is deconstructed.

Out of a total of $46.32 million:

* $460,000, or 1%, went to sponsorship
* $8.34 million, or 18%, went to actual work done
* $26 million, or 56%, went to "unrelated or unknown parties"
* $11.52 million, or 25%, was unspent or the invoices were not found

Quite enlightening. 1% goes to sponsorships. 18% goes to work. 56% goes to stuff unrelated to sponsorship. And 25% they can't even find.
angry in TO via Kate
If this does not wake the electorate up nothing will and the Liberals will get a pass on looting the nation for $100 plus million dollars.

Dithers in Adscam up to his eyeballs (?)

The forensic accountants said the Finance Dept. was responsible for 115.19 million in sponsorship. Not Paul Martin's Finance Dept., Right?
Nah! If it was his Dept. he would know about it and tell us about it. Right? But he doesn't know about it, so it can't be his Dept.
Right?
m k braaten
Braaten is doing a great job live blogging and analyzing the Kroll report. One of his commentors has found this nugget. I am putting it up with a question mark because I have not seen the quote.

If it turns out to be true one of two things is also true. Dithers knew about sponsorship all along as his department spent roughly 1/3 of the money. Or, Dithers knew nothing about it in which case he is and was willfully blind.

No, I mean high speed internet

With friends like that, who needs colocation facilities? Seriously though, I pay several hundred dollars for a 5Mbps downstream/768k upstream package from Time Warner. With the $199 Verizon package, you can get 5Mbps of upstream server bandwidth, which would let you serve almost 40 128k MP3 streams, or over a dozen 300Kbps video streams. This kind of upstream bandwidth is also sufficient for you to hook up your TiVo or PVR to the network and watch it in full quality in some other broadband downstream location. (While DVD bitrates are sometimes 6-8Mbps, the bitrates for PVR video are usually in the 2Mbps range, and DivX/Xvid movies are usually under 1Mbps.)
silicon valley watcher
Which, if I read it right, would mean you could send high quality video from your own home. A boon to cam-girls but even more interesting for citizen media and video pod casting. Legacy, MSM, will have competition.

Just for fun, imagine a daily political geeks tv show with Coyne, Kinsella, Lorne Gunther, Colby Cosh and Dr. Spook all dumping on the Liberals from their particular perspective from their computer rooms.

Hello, 905....

The total amount of money lost in the sponsorship scandal now appears to be $355 million -- more than $100 million than was originally thought.
ctv
And now the forensic accountants will tell Gomery where the money went.

And that is only one of the essential scandal floating around the thugs who are governing Canada. Earnscliffe, "lets make a deal" on tape, no confidence votes unless some says, "Simon says".

So, folks in the vote rich 905 belt surrounding TO - wake up!

Whose Money is This???

Dated Feb. 18, 2004, the memo describes "the intergovernmental co-ordination group" being set up in the PCO, the nerve centre of the federal government, under the proposed direction of bureaucrat Guy McKenzie. However, the summary and attachments are mostly blanked out, under section 23 of the Act, due to "solicitor/client privilege."

The office's operating budget now totals $1,068,000 after its first-year budget of $534,000 in 2004-05 was renewed for a second year, according to Hali Gernon of the PCO.

Ms. Gernon said the office has a small staff of about "four or five" employees and since June, 2004, has been under the direction of lawyer Ursula Menke, the former deputy commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard and inspector general of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Claiming "solicitor/client privilege," PCO did not release any of the meeting minutes or briefing notes of the co-ordinating committee in response to the Access to Information request made by Ottawa researcher Ken Rubin.
national post
Sadly this will be under the MSM radar but a)who is the "client" here?? b)is Dithers sufficiently implicated in Adscam that he needs legal advice, c)why is the Government of Canada rather than Dithers paying for such legal advice if it is required?

And that is just the beginning. Who authorized the expenditure of a million bucks? How can an office of four or five people cost a million bucks? Are Canadians getting any value for their money??

When will the Liberals be defeated?

Good News from Iraq

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, has been wounded, his group said in a Web posting.
reuters
There is a special place in Hell for a creature who uses human bombs to kill the innocent and beheads his victims on video.

This would be excellent news if confirmed and could hasten the already fast approaching end of the Sunni/Baath/jihadi terror in Iraq.

"Just Drive" she said

Further Ian Welsh's interesting post on GM and Ford: It's interesting when you compare the market cap of GM with Google. GM (and I am going from memory) has a market cap of about 18.5 billion, (interesting in itself as GM has roughly 20 billion in cash on the books) Google 71 billion.

There are some things which Americans do very well, others not so well. Stock markets are not patriotic and they can tell a sunset industry when they see one.

5/23/2005

No Comment - A. Coyne

I don't like to be in the censorship business, or picking and choosing which comments to allow and which to reject, and I don't have the time to monitor hundreds of comments every day. I hesitated to do this, particularly during the momentous events of the last few weeks, not least because the best of the comments are far superior to anything I might post. But they have been drowned out by all the other crap -- low-brow, insult-filled, intolerant of opposing views, and unspeakably tedious. I have no desire for this site to serve as a clubhouse for hard-right wackos, usually anonymous, with way too much time on their hands. Nor can I allow them to obscure the site's vital mission and cause: personal vanity and self-promotion. I spend enough money underwriting my own incoherent ramblings without subsidizing others'.
andrew coyne
Well, it will give the Shotgun back its natural audience...

5/22/2005

The CPC's media problem

Bob over at Let it Bleed has a good post on the need for the CPC to take the campaign past the client media of the Liberal Party - CBC/CTV/Global/Canwest/Toronto Star.

Direct mail, email, websites, print ads, media appearances by MPs, radio ads, TV ads... whatever. Go around the media. Get the message directly to Canadians. And do not shut up about it. Ever. Some shmuck at CBC Radio asks a question about whether Stephen Harper is too "angry" to be PM? Cool. Respond by talking about CPC plans for reforming the criminal justice system. Or healthcare. Or R&D investment. Or whatever.
let it bleed
As part of that effort, the second tier Tories like Monte Solberg should be promoting the hell out of Tory bloggers. As Bob points out there is not much chance the CBC is going to change so the job is to make the CBC less and less relevant to the mental landscape of voters. Blogs can help. So can podcasts.

But, and here's the take away for CPC bloggers, straight partisanship "Tory Good, Grit Bad" blogging is a waste of time. As our American friends demonstrated, blogs have to build the medium's credibility before they are going to change much. And part of that credibility comes from being able to constructively criticize your own party as well as the crooks in the Liberal party.

Therapeutic Cloning: Sooner than you think....

Korean scientists have used cloned human embryos to derive tailor-made stem cells, a breakthrough with dramatic implications for the development of useful therapies that could help shift the debate over human cloning.

The researchers derived stem cells from patients with spinal cord injury, a congenital immune disorder and juvenile diabetes. The advance, announced Thursday, raises the stakes in the political and ethical argument surrounding embryonic stem-cell research. Once a pie-in-the-sky possibility, human cells now exist that could theoretically be transplanted back into patients without the fear of immune rejection, since as cloned cells they would be a genetic match.
wired
This research is illegal in the US and at the margin in Canada. The net result of which is that Korea has stolen the march.
To perform cloning, scientists remove the nucleus from an egg and replace it with a cell from the person to be cloned, often a skin cell. Typically, scientists suck out the nucleus using a hollow needle, but the Korean team instead made a small tear in the egg and gently squeezed out the nucleus. They inserted a skin cell through the tear, then jolted the cells with an electric shock to fuse the cells and begin cell division.
wired
This does not sound much like human conception to me which may be a way out for legislators faced with a potentially very beneficial technology and opposition from groups whose ethical systems simply cannot comprehend a difference between cell division and life.

We Don't Make Cars, We Make Money

Ian Welch at Tilting at Windmills has an excellent post up on GM and Ford becoming financial companies rather than car makers.

US consumers can’t afford the cars being offered to them. It’s that simple. They can’t afford the initial cost and they can’t afford the running costs. But GM and Ford weren’t willing to give up their margins. So instead of offering consumers cars they could afford, cars they would want – they bribed them. They paid them to buy cars. (A 0% or 1% loan is paying someone.) Strangely, paying your customers to buy your product isn’t a good way to be profitable.
tilting at windmills
It's a post which is a great example of reality based analysis and it strikes at the heart of the con which powers Belinda's Dad's industry.

The Problem

Politicians dare not tell the whole truth (about it) for fear of adding to public alarm, and losing by it.
david selbourne quoted by kevin grace
I added the parenthesis. Power is the sworn enemy of truth whole or otherwise and watching the Liberals and the Tories and the central Canadian media claque this past week has underlined what a vicious enemy power can be.

Yup!

I'm wondering how we get Canadians to vote for Conservatives, and not just against Liberals.

I keep coming back to Stephen Harper yelling "me too" to every promise the Liberals made. Maybe what I'm about to suggest is a recipe for disaster, but shouldn't the Conservatives have a different agenda from the Liberals? Shouldn't their platform be no Kyoto, no nationalized daycare, low taxes, less red tape, and no obligation to follow up on any promise the Liberals made?

At least the agenda would not be hidden.
angry in the great white north
It is not Harper who is the problem pace Adam Daifallah rather it is a Conservative Party which is so scared of being scary that it has decided to be nothing at all.

I am reminded of Alan's earlier observation:
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. The Liberals may be a bit paunchy. They may have lost a step. But they're tough in the clinch - not at all averse to throwing a low one if they can get away with it, and they still have that famous knockout power. Better hit the gym, Mr. Harper. Hit it hard. And study the tapes. All the Adscam in the world isn't going to land your overhand right for you.
occams carbuncle