Friday, January 30, 2004

Think things are bad here? Try California

Check this out.
A Bay Area lawmaker wants to spread the ancient Chinese ritual of feng shui.

San Francisco Assemblyman Leland Yee says feng shui would create a positive work environment in all state buildings.

NBC11's Damian Trujillo reported that the DMV office at Alma Street in San Jose might have to abide by the new rules of feng shui, if the resolution passes.

But critics say feng shui should be the last thing on the minds of lawmakers, in the midst of the budget crisis that the state is in.

"What clutter can be, is stuck energy in places where energy isn't moving into our lives," said Joan Green, a feng shui expert.

Green says feng shui is allowing energy to flow freely in a room, creating a more positive work and home environment.

A lot of it has to do with how people arrange their furniture. Chimes also sometimes help in the energy flow.

Now, Yee says this is what all state buildings need to create that positive work environment. So, he's introduced a resolution to promote feng shui in state buildings.

"It's only in California that we have this diversity. We should enhance it," Yee said.

Perhaps this is what happens when they move on from Kyoto. For all the diversity and multicult claptrap polluting our Heritage Department I can't honestly say I've ever heard of a feng shui czar.
Mugged by the state

Imagine buying a house, investing significant money renovating it, and then being told all of your time and investment are for naught. You're not allowed to live in it or rent it out because your activities might bother your neighbours, potentially affecting their property values. Outrageous, right?

Well, that is exactly what just happened in Alberta, of all places. Normally Alberta is one of the saner jurisdictions in Canada, but they are by no means immune from absurd statist interventions. Only in this case it wasn't a house, but several hundred gas wells.

The Alberta Energy Utilities Board ordered several hundred wells to be shut it without compensation, due to concerns that pumping the gas out may affect the ability of other companies to recover bitumen in the area. Such speculation may or may not be valid, I'm not qualified to know. But I'd be inclined to bet on human ingenuity being able to pump the gas and still develop techniques to profitably recover the bitumen. But that's not really the point. Companies have invested money in good faith to pump the gas.

The EUB didn't expropriate these wells with compensation to preserve the bitumen. Nor did they order the well owners to offer the wells for sale. If it is indeed more profitable to preserve the bitumen, someone should be motivated to buy the gas wells, shut them in until they're done with the bitumen, then pump the gas. But that wasn't done either. They just issued an edict to shut the wells in, an outrageous violation of the property rights of the well holders.

You think it doesn't matter? Well, first they come for the gas wells. Violation of property rights is a slippery slope. And Paramount Energy trust is a big holder of the shut in wells. Don't be surprised if your mutual funds hold these units, so it may very well be your retirement or pension fund being violated.

In defense of Martin and CSL

I find all the talk about Paul Martin and Canadian Steamship Lines rather distasteful. Some seem to be shocked that rather than $x dollars of business with the government CSL and its affiliates have done $1100x, or whatever. The numbers are totally meaningless. It matters not in the slightest whether it is $x or $100000x, this gives us no information whatsoever. The government ships stuff, whether it's food aid to Africa or military supplies to our forces overseas. CSL owns ships. Some of the shipped stuff lands on CSL ships. So what?

Does anyone have any allegations that the government is using CSL when cheaper alternatives were available? Are they pointlessly shipping stuff back and forth just to fill his ships? If they have anything like that, fine, let's hear it. Or any news about CSL being a corporate welfare bum. Any corporate welfare bum stories are bad enough, but would be particulary damaging if the recipient were CSL. So let's hear the beef, if any beef there is.

I'll be back to Liberal-bashing shortly. I'll try to do so with more substance than just throwing meaningless numbers around.

Update: A reader directs me to information that CSL is indeed a corporate welfare bum. This is more like it.
Industry Canada gave $9.1 million of taxpayer money to CSE Ltd. and
$1.2 million from CIDA to Canarctic Shipping Company Ltd. for a total of
$10.3 million of what's called "non-repayable contributions" but what
most of us call corporate welfare.

Yup. Non-repayable contributions. Now this is offensive. Governments shouldn't be doing this at all, but it is particularly offensive to be giving handouts like this to a private company owned by a cabinet minister. Anyone have anything else?

Piss off Nanny-state

Quebec is currently considering making winter tires mandatory. This is a continuation of the infantile approach to public policy of just playing a word game. If the topic provokes a positive response, why, make it mandatory or subsidize it. If mentioning the word provokes a negative response tax it or ban it.

Junk food - bad. Ban it.
Snow tires - good. Mandatory.
Hog farms - stink. Ban 'em.
Bicycle helmets - good. Mandatory.

Tyrannical regimes like the Taliban, Iran and Saudia Arabia have Commissions for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue. It appears nanny statists consider the idea worth copying. But rather than harassing women without bags over their heads they'll be pestering us about our choice of food or tires. Piss off.

In a province that has no-fault insurance it is ludicrous to think we will enhance safety by mandating winter tires. It ignores the most elementary aspect of human behaviour - target risk. People operate at a perceived level of risk they are comfortable with. Increase the perceived safety, they take more risks. Audi dealers can tell you that with the introduction of the Quattro the customers' first reaction to snow was to go off further and deeper. In weather people would otherwise avoid altogether, or approach very cautiously, they simply drive faster and with a smaller safety cushion if they have winter tires, AWD and ABS brakes.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

From Laurier to Kanesatake

There are no longer mobs with clubs roaming the Kanesatake reserve burning down houses, but the situation there is far from settled. It is unlikely to be settled anytime soon. Sadly, it is almost impossible to even discuss such situations without being called a racist. But given the choice between ethnic pandering to a voting block and enforcing basic law and order, pandering will win in Canada every time. On this topic the reaction is almost identical whether dealing with ethnic gang violence in Toronto or when a Chief in Kanesatake gets his house burned down. One dare not confront common criminals when they may be inclined to defend themselves with accusations of racism. But how did it come to this?

While Laurier was addressing a different topic, I found this speech interesting:
Soil, water, forests, minerals, gave been given to man by the Creator for the use of man, and all civilized nations have acted accordingly. Why did our ancestors leave their respective lands and come to this country and take it from the Indians if it was not for the purpose of taking gold of the natural resources of the country and using them for their benefit? The Indians were man after the heart of my hon. friend from North Toronto -- they were great preservers of natural resources. They kept them not for themselves, but for their children and the children of their children. They never used them to any great extent. The territory they inhabited contained many minerals; but when our ancestors came here they found the Indians using implements made of bone and stone. They never cultivated the soil; they lived on fish and game. They were in the midst of immense forests, but they never felled a tree to build a house. They lived beside the most noble streams in the world, but they did not use them to turn a wheel; they never even used water to wash.

Okay, he was a man of his time and we shouldn’t expect today’s standards of political correctness from him. But one can detect the classical liberal values coming through. While not necessarily admiring the Indians’ lifestyle of the day, he respected their choices. If you prefer to preserve a forest rather than cut down the trees for a house, that’s fine but live with the consequences.

And here are the thoughts of another Liberal Prime Minister, though he was not PM at the time:
To be an Indian is to be a man, with all a man's needs and abilities. To be an Indian is also to be different. It is to speak different languages, draw different pictures, tell different tales and to rely on a set of values developed in a different world.

Canada is richer for its Indian component, although there have been times when diversity seemed of little value to many Canadians.

But to be a Canadian Indian today is to be someone different in another way. It is to be someone apart - apart in law, apart in the provision of government services and, too often apart in social contacts.

To be an Indian is to lack power - the power to act as owner of your lands, the power to spend your own money and, too often, the power to change your own condition.

Not always, but too often, to be an Indian, is to be without - without a job, a good house, or running water; without knowledge, training or technical skill and, above all, without those feelings of dignity and self-confidence that a man must have if he is to walk with his head held high.

All these conditions of the Indians are the product of history and have nothing to do with their abilities and capacities. Indian relations with other Canadians began with special treatment by government and society, and special treatment has been the rule since Europeans first settled in Canada. Special treatment has made of the Indians a community disadvantaged and apart.

Obviously, the course of history must be changed.

To be an Indian must be to be free - free to develop Indian cultures in an environment of legal, social and economic equality with other Canadians.

And who said that? Jean Chretien in a 1969 white paper.
To my knowledge this was the last time the Liberal party actually tried to apply classically liberal principles to a problem. A young, idealistic Jean Chretien analyzed the aboriginal problem and decided that special treatment was the problem, not the solution. He continues:
The Government believes that its policies must lead to the full, free and non-discriminatory participation of the Indian people in Canadian society. Such a goal requires a break with the past. It requires that the Indian people's roles of dependence be replaced by a role of equal status, opportunity and responsibility, a role they can share with all other Canadians.
The policies proposed recognize the simple reality that the separate legal status of Indians and the policies which have flowed from it have kept the Indian people apart from and behind other Canadians. The Indian people have not been full citizens of the communities and provinces in which they live and have not enjoyed the equality and benefits that such participation offers.
The treatment resulting from their different status has been often worse, sometimes equal and occasionally better than that accorded to their fellow citizens. What matters is that it has been different.
The Government does not wish to perpetuate policies which carry with them the seeds of disharmony and disunity, policies which prevent Canadians from fulfilling themselves and contributing to their society.

It's too bad Chretien did not have the courage of his convictions and abandoned the plan at the first sign of protest. A couple of band chiefs in native dress protested in front of the cameras on Parliament Hill and Chretien and Trudeau folded like a cheap tent. But it’s worth noting this white paper. Chretien analyzed the situation and tried to determine if the policies were working, not whether they sounded good or were well intentioned. He also tried to empower individuals so that they could succeed, just as so many other refugees landing in Canada have done – as equals under the law. The consequence of this was that the current band leaders (correctly) felt their power being threatened. Individuals were to be empowered at their expense over many day-to-day aspects of their lives, such as housing.

Unfortunately, the Liberals then turned to ethnic pandering and have never looked back. There is no longer any such thing as a program that doesn’t work as long as it is well intentioned and panders to a voting block. There are only programs insufficiently funded to meet their objectives. Under multiculturalism such programs have multiplied like rabbits. They really should change the name of their party, as their ideology is now almost completely the opposite of classical liberal principles. The primary obligation of government is to provide an environment of law, order and justice. But, faced with confronting a mob of club-wielding arsonists they attempt to negotiate rather than arrest and prosecute. The ones who suffer are the innocent law abiding members of the community. An atmosphere of intimidation exists such that interviewing people in Kanesatake is like that in a totalitarian state. People will whisper, off the record, but only anonymously and if they are confident they won’t be seen.

Sad. Had Chretien acted on that white paper 35 years ago, Kanesatake would be a very different place today. Not utopia by any means, but one could at least expect basic laws to be enforced.

Terrible news

I can't believe it, but John Daly has died, it's announced at the top of his web site.

John Daly has done more than anyone I can think of to try to bring the Global Warming debate back from religion to reasoned argument and sound science. RIP John.

Condolences may be sent to daly@john-daly.com.
Tough job, but someone's got to do it

Ignoring General MacArthur's warning against getting bogged down in a land war in Asia, Bob is bravely wading into the pages of the Toronto Star, fisking a couple of columnists of the idiotarian persuasion.

Quite remarkable. With the BBC into full meltdown and grovelling mode after levelling utterly unfounded accusations at Blair and Bush, the Star decides to raise the stakes on those very topics. Well, God bless 'em. At least they're a private company and if they wish to self destruct that's their business.

But I would hope for a little introspection at the CBC. Their anti-war bias was almost as complete as the BBC. I'd like to suggest a topic:
The BBC has just been exposed as a mindless ideologue peddling fabrications and opinion as reporting, savaging their reputation and putting the very concept of state broadcasters into question. What does this mean for similar broadcasters in Canada and Australia? Do we suffer from similar ideological blindness?

Perhap Rex Murphy could use that on this week's Cross Country Checkup.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

UN Oil for Graft Program

As I understand it, the Canadian Liberals actually believe in their moral superiority because they support the UN almost unconditionally. It doesn't seem to matter that when they create a human rights commission the UN puts Libya in charge. Or when they hold a conference against racism it turns out to be an anti-Semitic hatefest.

Still, just mention the UN and they swoon, actually inviting Kofi to address parliament. I wonder if anyone will ask him to explain himself how he hung Romeo Dallaire out to dry during the Rwanda genocide. I doubt it.

As far as I'm concerned, the US should make a big show of bringing a carrier back from the Gulf and bomb UN headquarters at Turtle Bay on arrival. But for those who actually support the UN, shouldn't they be the ones doing something to hold the UN to account.

The UN Oil for Palaces, Journalists, Politicians Food program has been the biggest pile of corruption and graft, even bigger than HRDC. If the Liberals actually want to invest their future in that pile of crap shouldn't they at least make a token effort at taking it seriously?

Le Monde has published an article outlining how leading French public figures have been implicated in this program. But it has taken an Iraqi newspaper to publish names to get even this attention on the issue. Shouldn't those who take the institution seriously at least make a token effort at holding it to account?
Calling Lord Hutton

Yoo-hoooo! Over heeeeree.

When you get a minute, check out what's happening in the colonies.

If you don't know who Lord Hutton is, check here for background.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Need a Bigger Gun Registry

From the Toronto Star today:
The police report on this past's weekend violence goes something like this: two homicide victims, both dead from gunshot wounds. Gunfights outside booze cans. An unco-operative gunshot victim turns up in hospital, an unknown assailant shoots a man in the back, stray bullets rip into another home in Scarborough and a gunman fires a shotgun blast through the patio doors of a townhouse.

Sounds like we need a bigger gun registry. If these fine citizens spraying lead around haven't been persuaded to change their ways in the face of a $1 Billion registry, then obviously the answer is to try a $5 Billion registry.

Well, okay, not quite. Even though I missed the rally she had last night I'm starting to like what she has to say.

She has had the courage to say what everyone knows about our health care system but almost no politicians will say out loud. That is, our current Soviet-like system is not sustainable. Of course not. Only true died-in-the-wool socialists like Romanow believe that. The rest just mouth the words because they're terrified to say anything else. The chattering classes have made it the closest thing to treason to question it at all. Thou shalt worship at the alter of Soviet central planning health care, even though not even the Russian communists do that anymore.

But Stronach says:
So if it can be better quality at a better price, and it does not compromise the principles of universal access to health care, I think that is something we should consider.

Well, if there are any liberal pundits who have not yet drawn their knives for her, that's their cue. I think the odds are against her winning, but I'm quite happy she's in the race.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Trudeaupia bites back at the Media

I was scanning through the Ottawa Citizen at lunch today, and for the second day running it was saturation coverage of the RCMP raid on their reporter's house. The Ottawa Citizen is a little over the top, but it appears the Canadian media universally condemn these raids as media intimidation.

A little ironic, that.

The reporter, Juliet O'Neill claims she was "deeply offended". "It was a five-hour invasion of my privacy and it felt like I was stripped naked. They took my address books, contact books, Rolodex and my ability to do my work has been seriously handicapped as a result."

I know I should be outraged, but the Canadian media have been the leading cheerleaders of the all-encompassing regulatory nanny-state that Canada is today. They have collectively demonized almost every type of private business you can name and called for them to be strangled with regulatory bureaucracy. They broadcast nonstop propaganda against anyone attempting to defend the rights of cigarette smokers, property owners, private businesses, hunters. Almost every conceivable business from meat packing to salmon farming or golf courses is treated as an evil, rapacious anti-social capitalist needing regulation, licensing and inspection by the state. Rather than defending the rights of these industries and their employees the Canadian media have been the leading cheerleaders for an ever-expanding state control.

They broadcast the propaganda to bring on Trudeaumania in the sixties, and worshipped his coercive utopian visions for decades. They have denounced Conservative politicians who tried to defend classical liberal values as being just short of fascist. Try defending the right to kill dandelions on your own lawn, or have a cigarette in a bar.

And now the state is looking through a reporter's Rolodex and filing cabinet.

I really ought to be feeling outrage, rather than schadenfreude. After all, they might come looking for bloggers next. But watching these people put on the offended virgin act is just a little unseemly, after their sneering condescension directed at anyone else trying to protect their rights or privacy.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Sir Wilfred Laurier, on war

For no particular reason, I found Liberal Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier's speech rather interesting. It was delivered on Mar 13, 1900 in the House of Commons. An excerpt:
We are a British country and a free country, and every man in it has the right to express his opinion. My hon. friend has the same right to believe that the war is unjust that Mr. John Morley, Mr. Courtney and many other Liberals in England have to hold the same belief. But if my hon. friend is of the opinion that the war is unjust, for my part I am just as fully convinced in my heart and conscience that there never was a juster war on the part of England than that war. I am fully convinced that there never was a more unjust war on the part of any man than the war that is now being carried on by President Kruger and the people of the Transvaal.

I am not going into the particulars of the policy of the Transvaal Republic, but let me give a single circumstance which is to be found in the last Statesmen's Year Book. The policy of the population of the Transvaal is 245,397 souls, and the revenue exacted from that population is £4,480,218 stirling, or $24,401,000 -- very nearly $100 of taxation per head. Let me compare this with the taxation of the very foremost nations of the world -- England, France and the United States. The taxation of the United State is about $7 or $8 per head, of England about $12 per head, and of France about $20 per head. But in the Transvaal, the population is taxed to the tune of $100 per head, the bulk of which is borne by the Uitlanders. That population has to bear almost the whole of that taxation, and yet is denied every vestige of representation. That being the case, we must admit that the quarrel of England was just when she insisted that her British subjects in the Transvaal should at least have the rights of citizenship when willing to submit to the laws. I believe that her quarrel was just, and public opinion in this country being anxious that we should take part in the war, we thought it our duty to satisfy public opinion by sending our military contingent, relying confidently upon parliament ratifying our course.

Once upon a time Liberal Prime Ministers considered overtaxation and injustice in distant lands grounds for sending Canadian forces. And Canadians volunteered to serve.

He continues:
I call upon him to remember that the liberties which we enjoy are largely due to his own family. But if we have liberties on one side, would he not accept some duties on the other side? Would he not accept some obligations on the other side? Shall the sacrifice be all on the one side and none on the other, the obligation all on one side and none on the other? We were not compelled to do what we did; but if we chose to be generous, to do a little more than we were bound to do, where is the man living who would find fault with us for that action?

My hon. friend dreads the consequences of our action in sending out a military contingent to South Africa. Let me tell him from the bottom of my heart that my bosom is full of the hopes I entertain of the beneficial results which will accrue from that action. When our young volunteers sailed from our shores to join the British army in South Africa, great were our expectations that they would display on those distant battlefields the same courage which bad been displayed by their fathers when fighting against one another in the last century. Perhaps in more than one breast, there was a fugitive sense of uneasiness at the thought that the first facing of musketry by raw recruits is always a severe trial. But when the telegraph brought us the information that such was the good impression made by our volunteers that the commander in chief had placed them at the post of honour, in the first rank, side by side with that famous corps, the Gordon Highlanders; when we heard that they had justified fully the confidence placed in them, that they had charged like veterans, that their conduct was heroic and had won for them the encomiums of the commander in chief and the unstinted admiration of their comrades of those famous troops, who had faced death upon a hundred battlefields in all parts of the world -- is there a man whose bosom did not swell with pride, the noblest of all pride, the pride of pure patriotism, the pride of the consciousness of our rising strength, the pride of the consciousness that that day the fact had been revealed to the world that a new power had arisen in the west.

They don't make Liberals like they used to.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Reality is optional

At least for these folks it seems to be. While everyone else is talking about Bush's speech I thought I'd read up on the gripping happenings of the World Social Forum in Mumbai to find out what's really happening in the world. And I found this:
Roy challenged the crowd to move beyond the rhetoric of anti-globalization and take concrete action. She proposed that all progressive groups should focus on the war on Iraq, identifying the multinationals that are profiting from the misery-causing U.S. occupation of the country, such as Halliburton, Enron and Arthur Anderson.

See, I'd missed that up to this point. I thought Enron was in bankruptcy having the bones of its carcass picked over by disgruntled creditors, but there they are causing misery in Iraq. And Arthur Andersen? Gosh, they seem to have recovered from their scandals and are auditing in Iraq. But auditing what, I wonder?

No, reality is merely a social construct with these people. Living in a world of swirling conspiracy theories I guess they just pull some names out that have negative vibes associated with them and stick them in Iraq. Perhaps Martha Stewart's redecorating Saddam's palaces now, too while flogging unapproved Imclone drugs in the souk.

But if reality is optional, why do these people create such an unpleasant one for themselves? Why not just imagine Al Gore is president, Saddam saw the error of his ways and voluntarily retreated into a hole while Iraqis shut down their oil industry in deference to Kyoto, and are currently living peacably in organic farming collectives? There, don't you feel better now? Glad I could help.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Be careful out there, Belinda

Well Belinda has made it official. She's a leadership candidate and wants to be Prime Minister.

If elected, she would support:
Cutting taxes while preserving social programs such as health care by "baking a bigger economic pie."
Modernizing government and cutting the cost of delivering services.
Rebuilding Canada's relationship with the U.S. by, among other things, becoming part of the integrated North American security perimeter.
Scrapping the tax on capital and making mortgages partially tax-deductible.
Rebuilding the military, giving the forces the money and equipment they need to do the job more safely.
Encouraging young people to consider jobs as skilled labourers.
Allowing same-sex couples to marry.
Beefing up penalties for crimes committed with guns while scrapping the long-gun registry.
Maintaining criminal bans on the use of marijuana.

Not a bad start. Though I don't agree with all of it, I already like her 1000 times better than Sheila Copps. And she has some heavy hitters and lots of funding behind her.

But while the media were incredibly indulgent with the Sheila Copps candidacy, I bet we'll see the liberal media bias at work with Belinda. If she hangs in there to the convention I bet she will do better than the 6% Copps got in her leadership bid. But after a brief polite pause I bet the media will unload the heavy artillery on this woman, though they were incredibly indulgent with the Copps train wreck. It's okay to be an annoying loudmouth leftist that uses taxpayer money to fund lesbian porn films, but it's totally unnacceptable to be a rich heirress businesswoman that employs 72,000 people worldwide. The last two NDP leaders were millionaire heirresses, too, but they were chardonnay socialists. The CBC and Toronto Star love their chardonnay socialist kindred spirits.

Good luck and God bless, Belinda. I'm sure you'll do better than Copps or the two NDP dingbats, whose names I forget. In Trudeaupia you can be gay, divorced, a single mother, pot smoker or inherit millions. You can fund lesbian porn films or grotesquely misuse taxpayers' money. You can jump parties or threaten to out of crass political opportunism. But you're talking about lowering taxes, scrapping the gun registry, shrinking the burden of government, scrapping capital taxes and rebuilding the military. They will be merciless. Women are allowed to be anything they want, except conservative.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Great Praise for Sheila Copps!

My God I can't believe I wrote that. Really. You have no idea.

After twenty years in politics she has finally said something I can agree with, sort of. Specifically:
It is rather Kafkaesque. Just imagine how many Liberals across the country are trying to raise money for their campaigns. The party itself is in debt and to be raising money to pay off the leadership debt of another party is absurd

This, in response to finding out the Liberal party was going to pay off Scott Brison's debt for his leadership bid for the PC party. Actually, "absurd" is not the word you're looking for my dear baby. "Corrupt", "unethical", "sleazy" would do, but none of those words would occur to this loudmouth leftist. But we can be thankful she's a disloyal narcisstic envious whiny bitch or she may not have blown the whistle on this odious deal. One would have thought the Liberals would have had the good sense to slip this payment in a little brown envelope in small bills out of the public eye. But they have become so brazen they don't even seem ashamed of buying an opposition member. Indeed, the Sheila herself seems more annoyed at the competition than the spectacle of a Party buying an MP from the opposition benches.

Fine. Whatever the reason she has lifted a rock and exposed the slime underneath. Now shut up and go away. Why the good people of Hamilton choose to discredit themselves by electing this nuissance to represent them is one of life's mysteries. But enough. She's finally done something useful so she can go away now.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Great Moments in Multiculturalism

An imam in Spain is jailed for advocating wife-beating.
An imam was sentenced to prison in Spain on Wednesday for inciting violence against women in a 1997 book that gave detailed instructions to Muslim men on how to beat their wives, judicial officials said.
In a book entitled "Women in Islam", Mustafa discussed the "restraints imposed" by Islam "concerning the physical punishment" of women. "The beatings must be administered to specific parts of the body, such as the feet and hands, using a stick that is not too big so as not to leave scars and bruises," he wrote.

"The beatings must not be too harsh because the goal is to cause psychological suffering and not to humiliate or physically abuse," he added.

This is outrageous, of course. This is only marginally less bad than issuing a fatwa to kill Salman Rushdie. Throwing a fellow in the slammer for something in his book is exactly the sort of thing despotic theocracies do. I have a book on my shelf that tells me if one of my wives refuses to obey she should be beaten. It's an english translation of the Koran.

I also have a book that has these helpful guidelines:
And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee.And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.

Well then don't sell me no Hebrew men, if they come with all these restrictions and obligations.
And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

Ya, but who can live a day or two with a servant disabled. Get real.
Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.

In spite of this advice, I shall not have any of the heathen that are round about me, nor shall I buy any of the children who sojourn among us.

If we're not prepared to lock up people giving out bibles or quoting from them, we shouldn't be locking up imams either.

But this is the problem with multiculturalism. Many of the members of the rainbow coalition have some quaint traditions of beating, stoning and enslaving one another. Rather than worshipping in the great church of Politically Correct Diversity and locking up any heretics, perhaps we should stick to western, liberal culture. We don't lock up people based on the content of their books. Though we may lock up people if they choose to follow such advice in violation of the law, such as claiming possession of the children of sojourning strangers, or beating wives.

Bring on Global Warming

I'm serious. Not only am I not enjoying the -33 degree weather we're having here in Gatineau this morning, but people in India are dying in a cold wave. Why would anyone think a modest warming of the planet would be on balance a bad thing? Longer growing seasons here in Canada and Siberia. I can live with that. More food. Fewer people frozen to death. Extreme cold has always been a bigger threat to mankind than extreme heat.

A stupid magazine ran a stupid article on a stupid computer model talking about a mass extinction due to a modest warming. Hogwash. It was so stupid I won't bother linking to it. The planet warmed suddenly out of the last ice age for reasons we don't understand, but we certainly know we like our climate better the way it is than the way it was then. I'll grumble about a -33 in the morning, but being buried in a mile of ice would really ruin my property values.

On the other hand, we used to have forest near the North Pole. What's so bad about that? Whatever caused the climate to be so warm forty million years ago, it wasn't SUVs. So bring on the SUVs, I say. I want one the size of a garage with ten foot wheels and a Honda as a hood ornament. I'll take the risk that I might drive the temperature up to -31.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Belinda Who?

I hear Belinda Stronach is seriously considering a run at the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. She's rich and a bit of a hottie, so perhaps she will attract a little more attention to the party than the other dreary leaders. I guess we can't interest Sabine Herold to take up Canadian citizenship on short notice, so perhaps we should be happy with Belinda. My only question is why does she think any of us should take her seriously. After all, who on earth is Belinda Stronach? Oh, I've heard the name. She's rich and a CEO of an auto parts company her daddy gave her. She may even be good at running the company her daddy gave her, but so what? Do we know anything about her? Has she ever made a public speech on any public policy issue? Not that I'm aware of. Has she ever run for any public office? I don't think so. Has she even been involved in any policy or team-building role in any public party? Don't think so. Apparently she's friends with Bill Clinton. Lord help us if that's an indication of what's to come.
Trudeau - Irresponsible Megalomaniac

Laurent at Polysopique characterizes Trudeau as a mégalomane irresponsable. You're infringing on my turf, bud, I do the Trudeau-bashing around here.

But the post is an excellent one on the danger of the Charter of Rights and Liberties. If it is limited to restricting the power of the state and guaranteeing the freedoms of individuals, that's excellent. But when an activist court instead interprets them as entitlements, they don't guarantee rights, they infringe the rights of others.

This is a familiar line of argument for anyone who has read Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. When you grant someone a positive right to something, it is axiomatic that you are compelling the others in society to provide it. That is the road to servitude, not social justice. Surprisingly, Trudeau understood that and Canada's Charter or Rights and Freedoms is pretty sound, considering Trudeau was an irresponsible megalomaniac communist-sympathizing Castro-lover (top that, Laurent!).

Just before the PQ government was defeated in Quebec they provided a textbook illustration of this effect. Encountering a shortage of doctors for emergency rooms in remote regions such as Shawinigan and Jonquiére, they responded with law 114, conscripting doctors and ordering them to takes shifts at the remote ERs. A right to emergency health care delivered to some through the forced labour the others, demonstrating perfectly Hayek's point in The Road to Serfdom. So whenever anyone starts talking about the right to housing or a guaranteed income, what they are really talking about is confiscating property and income from others. Nevertheless, activist courts throughout the western world are constantly straining to interpret the constitutions to guarantee such rights, and the proposed EU constitution was absolutely polluted with such nonsense.

Israel's supreme court is one of the world's worst offenders in this regard. This is particularly surprising, as Israel has no written constitution, but feels free to override the elected government anyway. Monday, it ordered the government to justify its budget cuts to welfare entitlements:
Responding to several petitions against the recent cuts, the court ordered the state last Monday to explain how it defines the minimum income necessary for "dignified human existence" so that court can determine whether this definition – and hence the reduced allowances – are constitutional.

The court is authorized to make this determination, said Justices Dalia Dorner, Esther Hayut and Salim Jubran, because the right to a "minimal dignified existence" is guaranteed by the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.

Got that? "Dignity" is interpreted to mean adequate welfare handouts, quite independent of Israel's other pressing budget needs, such as security. And the court decides it has the competence to judge what is an adequate level, not the democratically accountable government.

I don't know what we can do to rein in judges and other human rights tribunals, since it doesn't seem to matter what's in the constitution anyway, or even if you have one. This seems to be a problem all democratic countries are having. Judges and quasi-judicial human rights tribunals are determined to take us down the Road to Serfdom, usually against the wishes of the electorate. We have to find a way to confront these threats. Perhaps a mechanism should be established to petition for the impeachment of judges when they have clearly overstepped their authority.

Monday, January 12, 2004

More on Headscarves

Regarding the ban on headscarves in public schools in France, Debbye asks:
What am I missing? That's actually been the general reaction. If anyone has found that something that everyone else has missed, they aren't admitting it.

Dunno if I'm contributing anything new, but I'll throw in my two cents.

France has a problem in some suburbs of some large cities including Paris and Marseilles. There's an unassimilated Muslim underclass that that is not only not assimilating into French life, but is quite militantly against western values in general, and the French state in particular. So when France held a soccer match against Algeria in 2001, tens of thousands of supposedly French citizens of Arab descent lustily booed and whistled at the French national anthem, and a smaller number followed up with an Osama bin Laden chant. There are suburbs of Paris that are essentially no-go areas for French law enforcement and regular French citizens. Headscarves are really not the issue. They're just a symbol of the willingness to confront this problem, but, as usual with the French, in a way that antagonizes many and is unlikely to actually accomplish anything. This is similar to the Parti Quebecois banning English signs in Quebec. It doesn't accomplish anything of real substance for the French in Quebec, but succeeds in annoying a great many anglos. Symbolically it lets the minority know who is boss.

But headscarf ban in France is not totally ridiculous. In North America if a gang starts wearing its colours in school and intimidates other students, the schools sometimes respond with a dress code that forbids it, or even implement mandatory school uniforms. A gang needs to publicly display its numbers to show its strenght, so sometimes these moves can counter the gang's ability to recruit.

And so we come to some of these French suburbs. The key to remember is that many of the young Muslim girls would like to just fit in with French society and dress like everyone else. But they get subjected to withering abuse, insults and even beatings if they don't submit to the Muslim gangs that rule the suburbs, starting with orders to wear the headscarves. So banning the hijab from schools is not really aimed at taking on the girls who choose to wear it freely, but instead to confront these Muslim mobs. This is the "aggression" that Chirac is talking about when he refers to veils and hijabs. If the girls chose to wear headscarves just as Sikhs wear turbans no one would be concerned about it. But Sikhs don't get beaten up if they choose to stop wearing a turban, but young Muslim girls almost certainly will, at least in some neighbourhoods.

Friday, January 09, 2004

The Crumbling Edifice 

While some seem to think the Trudeaupian Big Government edifice and the Liberals will rule to eternity, I'm not so sure. As a matter of fact I'm becoming convinced that Canadian attitudes to big government are beginning to turn.

The intellectual core of Trudeaupian Liberalism is one of those sacred cows in Quebec, especially among Francophones. They may have spent the last thirty or forty years debating whether the capital should be in Quebec City or Ottawa, but there has been a mindnumbing consensus on Big Government. Squabble over jurisdictions if you must, but no economic or social matter should be left outside of government. This is a remarkable similarity to France, where democracy means freely debating what everyone will be required to do, not a framework of limited government along the Anglo-American model. In the Anglo tradition no one could imagine the President of a Republic banning headscarves in school, but in France no matter in life is too small or too trivial to escape the gaze of government. One side effect of the rise of francophones like Trudeau and Chretien in the sixties is that these ideas then became not just the core ideas of the Liberal Party, but they managed to make Big Government synonymous with "da Canadian values".

But recently there have been a couple of remarkable releases in French. In the movie by Denys Arcand The Barabarian Invasions most of the Trudeaupian sacred cows are slaughtered. A man dying of cancer ends up in a dysfunctional hospital, where the unions are corrupt thugs and patients are merely flotsam and jetsam that chaotic hospital workers treat with indifference. Only after bribes and other manipulations does he get any attention at all. The man's son offers to move him to the U.S. where he'll get treated, but the man responds "I voted for socialist health care and I'll live with the consequences". Remarkable.

And then there's Les Bougon on Radio-Canada (French CBC), sort of a South Park in Quebec. It portrays an absolutely loathsome beer-swilling couple living a life of dependence (happy anarchists, insists the author). The only bow they make to the Politically Correct crowd is that they insist that the family is not on welfare, a bit of a fig leaf to defend themselves against stereotyping an officially organized victim group. But they live off other fraudulent government handouts instead, with multiple addresses to receive Old Age security cheques for nonexistent old folks, and even the mailman in on the scheme. It ruthlessly skewers the idea that society just needs to be more generous and these people would turn out fine. Like the Barbarian Invasions, the people are totally amoral, just gaming the system to their own advantage. Rather than ushering in a caring, sharing Big Government utopia, both depict a corrupt, dysfunctional dystopia. It appears the boomer generation is looking at the socialist monster they've created, and started to treat it with ridicule. Beloved social programs for the poor and socialized health care are the most sacred cows in the Trudeaupian pasture. No serious commentator in the French media or prominent politician even whispers a criticism against these holy pillars in the State Religion, but Les Bougon has generated a huge audience screwing the system before it screws them. Let the rebellion against the PC crowd begin.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but these shows have certainly struck a chord. In the sixties it would have seemed inconceivable that Quebec would have suddenly rebelled against three centuries of Catholicism in a single generation, but then it happened. Perhaps the next generation will try individual responsibility and self-reliance. One can hope.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Heritage Department at Work

Canada's Heritage Department normally indulges in leftist multicult claptrap rather than anything that resembles Canada's actual heritage, but this item is pretty special. Through its National Capital Commission:
The National Capital Commission has ordered the removal of a makeshift hockey rink from a small pond on its property.

The parents on Springcreek Crescent, who have cleared the pond for the past five years, can't believe the NCC is telling them they can't put a hockey net on the pond.

The NCC claims the pond is on government land, so all manmade structures must be removed.

"[Pond hockey is] not something we encourage or promote, but we certainly tolerate it," said the NCC's Laurie Peters. "What we do have a problem with is this rather formal infrastructure that was involved this year."

Well, we wouldn't want kids playing pond hockey on Heritage Department land, that would certainly undermine everything Canada's Heritage Department stands for.

They normally fund conferences which have radical feminists like Sunera Thobani give speeches denouncing western civilization.
("the path of U.S. foreign policy is soaked in blood" ...
"there will be no emancipation for women anywhere on this planet until the Western domination of this planet is ended." ...
"These policies are hell-bent on the West maintaining its control over the world's resources."...
"And it is a very old fight of the West against the rest."...
"We have to recognize that the fight is for control of the vast oil and gas resources in central Asia, for which Afghanistan is a key, strategic point!")

Or fund Aboriginal groups to travel to South Africa to denounce Canada as a racist, apartheid state at a UN conference against racism. So I can understand how they'd be appalled at finding kids playing pond hockey on their property, that being pretty detached from their current understanding of Canadian Heritage.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Bonfires on New Year's

There's nothing more pleasant than gathering around a fire on a crisp new year's eve, singing some songs and toasting the New Year. This is normally a rural tradition though, but I see the French have imported it into the urban areas. But instead of a bonfire they've taken to a tradition of igniting cars instead. They burn pretty well, especially if the tank's full.
Par ailleurs, trois cent vingt-quatre véhicules ont été incendiés, soit une cinquantaine de moins que l'an passé, selon le ministère de l'Intérieur

So this year 324 cars were ignited, but I guess the tradition is dying out a little, as that's fifty less than last year. Sometimes I get the feeling that French society is simply coming apart at the seams. It's a slow motion train wreck that they seem vaguely aware of, but they are unable or unwilling to do anything about it. So they debate headscarves instead, and lecture the Americans over their simplisme.

Meanwhile, their soldiers in the Ivory Coast were sent to guard a bank, and robbed it instead. A journalist writes a book criticizing the French media's war coverage and gets fired. France has been running a grand social experiment, transferring traditional individual responsibilities to the state. They can literally live a cradle to grave existence as a ward of the welfare state, where even small time criminals are given kid glove treatment. But without individual responsibility they've raised a generation of irresponsible individuals. People go to the beach in the summer and leave their elderly parents to bake in their appartments. They strike and demonstrate against the mildest reforms to their welfare state, even though it is painfully obvious the reforms are necessary. They are demonstrating against economic reality, essentially. One day reality will penetrate. I wonder how they will eventually deal with a bankrupt state pension system, when the problem can finally no longer be deferred? The last presidential election something like 18% voted for the far right National Front, and similar numbers voted for equally offensive far left candidates. For some reason the media don't find the Communist or Trotskyite supporters nearly as offensive as Le Pen and his National Front, but I certainly do. Let's see - the mainstream parties are totally unable to deal with obvious problems, or even discuss them candidly. Rising crime, impending bankruptcy. It strikes me as a perfect recipe for another extremist takeover, whether it will be from the left or the right is hard to say, though.

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