Saturday, February 28, 2009


A cartoon by Richard Ramirez of the NY Post.

Alarm Bells on the Obama Budget

The Wall Street Journal has a pithy op-ed about the magnitude of Obama's budget, and what is in store for the future:
These columns focus on spending, rather than deficits, because Milton Friedman taught us that spending represents the real future burden on taxpayers. nonetheless, the 2009 budget deficit is estimated to be an eye-popping 12.7% of GDP, which once again dwarfs anything we've seen in the postwar era. The White
House blueprint predicts that this will fall back down to 3.5% as soon as 2012, but this is based on assumptions about Washington that aren't going to happen.

For example, Mr. Obama's budget assumes that nearly all of the new stimulus spending will be temporary -- a fantasy. He also proposes to eliminate farm subsidies for those with annual sales of more than $500,000. This is a great idea, and long overdue. But has the President checked with Senators Kent Conrad North Dakota) or Chuck Grassley (Iowa)? We hope we're wrong, but a White House that showed no interest in restraining Congress during the recent stimulus bacchanal isn't likely to stand athwart history to stop the agribusiness lobby.

The falling deficit also assumes the largest tax increase in U.S. history, starting in 2011 with the repeal of the Bush tax rates on incomes higher than $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples. The White House says this will yield upwards of $1 trillion, if you choose to believe that tax rates don't affect taxpayer behavior.


The biggest illusion in this budget may be its optimistic economic forecast. The White House assumes that the economy will decline by only 1.2% this year, before growing by 3.2% next year. This assumes the recovery will begin later this year and gather steam quickly to return to normal levels of growth. By 2010 to 2013, the budget adds, the economy will be cooking by an average of 4% a year -- which is also how it conjures up magical deficit reduction.

This growth is a lovely thought, but how? The only impetus for growth in this budget comes from the government spending more money that it is taking out of the job-producing private economy. With $1 trillion of new entitlements, $1.4 trillion in new taxes, and $5 trillion in new debt, America's entrepreneurs aren't getting any help soon from Washington.

Saturday Morning, Pounding Your Fist on the Breakfast Table Article

As the Daily Salt Shaker has stated before, the Canadian government has a bizarre policy of paying groups to lobby them. Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail has an article on one of those groups:

Last week, Mr. Kenney bit back. He asked his bureaucrats to yank the CAF's $447,000 grant. "They can say what they want within the parameters of our laws, but they shouldn't expect a priori funding." Now the CAF is accusing Mr. Kenney of trying to stifle its right to democratic speech. According to executive director Mohamed Boudjenane, the government's real motive for punishing the CAF is most likely political. "They maybe decided to go after the Zionist vote, like Reisman and Schwartz and Tannenbaum - people who used to be Liberal."

With a budget of more than $1-million a year, the Canadian Arab Federation depends heavily for its existence on taxpayers' money. It claims this funding is used entirely for programs that help newcomers adjust to Canadian society, and to fight racism and Islamophobia. "Our activity as an advocacy group has nothing to do with our political activity," Mr. Boudjenane says.

But the CAF's website tells another story. The home page urges people to join protests against the "massacre on Gaza." It links to dozens of anti-Israel articles, and gives prominent play to the winners of a recent essay contest on "the ethnic cleansing of Palestine." The website was developed with a grant of $60,000 from the federal Department of Heritage.

The CAF is a prominent sponsor of anti-Israel demonstrations, which feature people waving Hamas and Hezbollah flags, and people calling for the state of Israel to be wiped off the planet. One video shows a woman pointing toward the camera and declaring: "Jewish child, you're going to f------ die. Hamas is coming for you."


On top of the money it gets from Ottawa, the CAF also gets money from Ontario, Quebec and even the cash-strapped city of Toronto, which recently gave it $25,000 for a public media campaign to address the "misrepresentation" of Arabs and Muslims in the media. It got another $75,000 from Ontario's government to help victims of crime and to conduct a survey on discrimination against Arabs and Muslims. It and other groups also get income from conducting anti-racism education; the Canadian Islamic Congress (which is ideologically identical to the CAF), for instance, was invited by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to give "sensitivity" training to the people whose job it is to keep terrorists off airplanes.

Your taxpayer money at work. We're paying for this. It's almost beyond comprehension. It's against the law for me to cheat taxes and this is what the money is going to.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama Announces Firm End of Combat Mission in Iraq

MSNBC reports on Obama's announcement, however, reading it leaves a lot of question marks:

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - President Barack Obama on Friday declared that the United States would end its bloody and costly combat mission in Iraq by late summer of 2010 — but a dramatic force reduction was not expected until after Iraq's elections at the end of this year.

Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end," he said in a speech at the Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune, N.C. "As we carry out this drawdown, my highest priority will be the safety and security of our troops and civilians in Iraq."

Even with the end of the combat mission, which would come three months later than Obama pledged during his presidential campaign, a force numbering between 35,000 to 50,000 American forces will stay behind in non-combat roles, with the final troops not slated to leave until Dec. 31, 2011.


There were no assurances that the residual force would not be pulled into battle should Sunni Muslim insurgent holdouts or disaffected Shiite Muslims resume wide-scale fighting.

That is the big difficulty of course. Firstly, no troops are moving out until the December elections. All kinds of things can happen between now and then. If they actually do withdraw then, it still leaves behind those troops in non-combat roles. They could be used as lures to remain in Iraq. If they get attacked or a civil war breaks out the generals will call for more troops and an extension of the mission.

So, really, this is just an announcement. It doesn't mean any of the targets will be met. I very much doubt it will go smoothly.

Star Begins "Save the CBC" Propaganda Campaign

I would laugh at this solemn Star report about the CBC, but it will probably work:

The CBC is facing major cost-saving measures "that would change the very nature of our service to Canadians" as it copes with its deepening financial crisis, the national broadcaster's president said yesterday.


"More American programs on CBC-TV and commercials on CBC Radio won't help to define it as Canada's national public broadcaster," ACTRA's Waddell told the Star.

Oh! The horror! The horror! American programs! More commercials! How can we define our Canadianess?

(Slap!) Get a hold or yourselves. If Air Farce, Little Mosque on the Prairie and the Beachcombers are the glue that holds this country together we're in a lot of trouble. Isn't that a little embarrassing? These are lousy shows folks.

(I'm still searching for that person, under the age of 65 who genuinely thinks Air Farce was funny. But I digress.)

I watch some of the news programs, but they can compete with everybody else.

It's hilarious that the American programs will make it more profitable. You know, because more people will watch it.

I don't get how government funding for the CBC gets popular support. They certainly don't have a popular viewership, except for hockey.

Hat tip: Strack Attack who rants:

"I HATE the fact all these f*ckers, CBC, Actor's Union, etc... not only take our tax dollars for granted but they demand it."

UPDATE: The New York Times reports that CanWest is pretty much bust.

Bill Maher Interviews Ron Paul

Real Time With Bill Maher is back with new episodes on HBO. It's a good thing, because that's the only thing worth watching on HBO-Can. I PVR'd it and finally saw it Thursday night, a week late. Right off the bat we have his interview with controversial Republican Congressman Ron Paul. I have to admit, I didn't pay much attention to Paul when he sought the Republican nomination. But watch this interview, it's the most candid thing you'll see on television. Maher is a socialist, but he realizes that Paul probably has a point and is trying to work it out for himself. Ultimately, they end up agreeing on many things: Legalizing dope and "ending the American Overseas Empire." You simply don't see this on network or cable news.

I should note, the rest of the show was great as well. I disagree with a lot of things Maher says but he puts the debate out there. Everybody has to leave their cliche talking points at home.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hitchens on the UN Anti-Blasphemy Resolution

This is why Hitchens is great. Kudos to Lou Dobbs here as well.

CBC In Trouble: Not Much Sympathy from the Tories

Well, here's a little fun respite from Bailout Fatigue. The CBC are experiencing a huge revenue shortfall, and unfortunately for them, Uncle Stephen isn't going to write them a cheque to make up for it:

OTTAWA — The Conservative government has no plans to "insulate" the CBC from the sharp decline in advertising revenue that has forced companies across the media industry to lay off workers and cut costs, a spokesman for the prime minister said Wednesday.

The comments suggest the public broadcaster could come up empty in its efforts to lobby the government for a bridge loan to cover a deeper-than-anticipated drop in ad revenue.

"The CBC cannot be insulated from all market realities," said Kory Teneycke, chief spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "Nobody likes to see this, but broadcasters have to adapt to lower ad revenues. No one broadcaster is immune from that."

Amen. The source of this article is from CanWest, which is now a penny stock and barely has a pulse. How can we save one and let another die?

Harper would never say it but, he has to be having a private chuckle over this. CBC have been no friend of his.

Hat tip: Strack Attack

UPDATE: Strack also provided a link for the Globe survey asking: Should the federal government provide more funding for the CBC?

Unfortunately, the left leaning Globe readers favour it by 57%. If they had this survey at the National Post, the results would be different.

Ontario HRC Harass Business Owner

We've seen so many of these ridiculous "human rights" complaints. They're beyond parody:
The middle-aged woman with the man's voice, among other unseen attributes, turned out to be a transsexual who had yet to undergo the surgical transformation from male to female.

And now, her request to join the gym has landed Mr. Fulton before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.


"I will be a homeless person, living in the street and eating out of a gutter, before they get a penny out of me," Mr. Fulton said after yesterday's fruitless mediation, which ended short of its scheduled three hours. "I'm stubborn, and I feel like I'm being pushed around by these people."

The Ontario Human Rights Code forbids discrimination or harassment based on sex, which includes issues of gender identity.


"I think the important thing to remember there is how they identify themselves; what their sense is, that they are living as a man or living as a woman," Ms. Edwards said. "Regardless of whether they're preop or postop, it's their lived gender that's important."

Mr. Fulton, however, cited a section in the same rights code which allows service providers to restrict access to facilities "to persons of the same sex on the ground of public decency." And to his mind, the display of male genitalia, even on someone who self-identifies as a woman, could be construed as indecent by other women at his gym.

They're trying to ruin this guy's life over making a common sense business decision. This makes me extremely angry. Imagine a woman in the club encountering a guy with a - excuse the term-dick in the shower or change room. They would resign their membership.

It's legal to get a sex-change operation. (I would debate that it shouldn't be, that it is subjective psychology and mutilation, but I can argue that another time.) But for god sakes, it's your choice to do it. You are going to have to put up with the inconveniences. This business owner had the unfortune that "she" walked into his life.

Bailout Fatigue

It looks like GM is asking for more bailout money. Whatever.

DETROIT -(Dow Jones)- General Motors Corp. (GM) on Thursday fleshed out the scale of its financial crisis, reporting a $9.6 billion loss for the fourth quarter and warning that auditors may question its viability.


GM executives will meet U.S. Treasury officials later Thursday in pursuit of up to $16.6 billion in additional aid that the company said earlier this month was essential to avoid a bankruptcy filing. GM is seeking concessions from workers, bondholders and other parties to qualify for the federal funding, along with at least $6 billion from overseas governments.

I find it difficult to get impassioned about this anymore. They've pounded us over the head with so many bailouts, I have no doubt they will pony up the $16.6 billion the GM wants. It's wrong, they should let it slide into bankruptcy. Ironically, that's the only way they can save it. They can re-invent something out of the ashes.

But whose listening? The Feds will keep throwing good money after bad. They will run a projected deficit of $1.5 trillion this year.

Is it Too Early to Write Santa?

Scarface action figures

Chilean Volcano Smokes


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Assemblee Nationale Du Quebec Monitors Daily Salt Shaker Again

My good friends at the Quebec Provincial National Assembly have tuned into my humble site once again. I must say that I am flatterred.

This time they were checking this post: PQ Try Their Hand at Humour

They were on the site a few weeks ago looking at these posts:

Why Isn't Quebec an Independent Country?

Personal Responsibility Quebec Style

I just want you to know that I'm your biggest supporter. Vive le Quebec libre!

No End in Sight for Afghanistan

Today NPR's Fresh Air program interviewed New York Times foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins, on the endless conflict in Afghanistan. (audio here)

Once again, NPR ask well researched questions and respectfully give enough time for the guest to give a concise and lengthy answer. Nothing comes close to this on television.

Dexter Filkins has been on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He has written the book: The Forever War

Highlights of the interview include:

- The farce that Pakistan are fighting insurgents inside their own borders. Despite Pakistan being paid $2 billion a year to do this, they do not lift a finger. His own personal observations of this
- Ugly details about how the peace in Iraq was achieved by paying off the insurgents
- That Afghanistan is unwinnable
- That Pakistan is on the verge of being a failed state... with nukes.

Right now, we are living in the moment. These are crazy times. It makes me yearn for the boring old 90's.

Doomsday Prof: It's Too Late for Earth

The Montreal Gazette has an article about British scientist James Lovelock who says global warming and doom are irreversible:
His apocalyptic theory foresees crop failures, drought and death on an unprecedented scale. The population of this hot, barren world could shrink from
about seven billion to one billion by 2100 as people compete for ever-scarcer resources.

"It will be death on a grand scale from famine and lack of water," Lovelock told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. "It could be a reduction to a billion (people) or less."


Attempts to cut emissions of planet-warming gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) in an attempt to reduce the risks are probably doomed to failure, he added.

Easy for him the say, he's 89! The old coot. We can't come back to him in fifty years and say that he's wrong.

Hat tip: Strack Attack, who adds: F*ck it, now we don't have to worry about carbon taxes and recycling.

Good point.

UPDATE: I should have clarified, I don't take this guy seriously. Though, it might be fun to taunt green militants with: Why bother recycling? Paying carb taxes? etc. If the world is already doomed, there's no point. And a real "scientist" said so. No point arguing.

Irony of the Day: Swedes Won't Bail Out Saab

The world has definitely gone whacky when the Swedes are more fiscally conservative than the United States:
It also represents decades of Swedish car-making history, and the Saab brand remains closely associated with the Scandinavian country, even after GM
took full control in 2000.

Would Mr. Reinfeldt's government allow all that to perish?

The answer, so far, has been "ja." The government insists that Saab's future is GM's responsibility and has rejected the U.S. auto maker's request for $600-million in loan guarantees.

I love how he rejects union whining as well.
"Saab needs a fresh start," metal workers union boss Stefan Lofven said. "If the government and GM choose to take their hands from Saab, it's an enormous treachery against all auto workers in Sweden."

Three cheers to Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt!

Hat tip: Pat, who adds: What would Don Cherry think?

Good question. Next thing you know Swedes will show some grit and not float in the playoffs.

Young Offenders

I got a serious case of the willies reading about a teenage, female multiple killer from Medicine Hat:
Over a year after she was sentenced for murdering her parents and brother, the girl, who was 12 at the time of the killings, will have her progress examined by Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Scott Brooker. The judge has ordered a yearly review of the girl’s treatment.

She is serving her sentence at Alberta Hospital Edmonton, where she is undergoing extensive rehabilitation and treatment in a $100,000-a-year program.

The girl’s October sentence review was adjourned pending more information.

The girl, identified as J.R. in court records, is doing well in therapy, but has a
"failure to internalize," a court heard last fall.

The punchline of the article:
The girl, now 15, was described in court as "seriously disturbed." She was given the maximum sentence allowed under the Youth Criminal Justice Act — six years in custody followed by four years of supervision. She will be free at age 22.

So, if she's still a psycho and is "failing to internalize" her murders, do they still let her walk? "Youth Offender" absolutists drive me crazy. Is there never an exception? Shouldn't she be locked up forever?

When I was in grade eight a kid got murdered by another kid in my neighborhood. A few years later the killer was walking the streets, unrepentant. Everybody knew who he was. It didn't seem right. I have no way of confirming it, but I believe he commited a violent crime again. If so, it didn't take a genius to see that coming.

I agree there needs to be a difference between adult, and youth punishment. But let's not be black and white about it. There has to be exceptions for murder, and potential violent re-offenders.

Prediction Update: Market Free Fall

As I said yesterday, the market was not going to like Obama's speech. Almost an hour into trading and the major indexes are all down significantly.

UPDATE: I had to put up this reader comment:

We are in a bear market. It is going to get a lot more ugly. When markets tank it can be decades before you get your money back. The 1960s Dow at 1000 did not get back to the 1000 level until the 1980s. The 1929 Dow Jones Index took almost a generation to recover the loss. Who knows how many decades will be needed for the Nikkei Index to recover. Right now it is all about wealth preservation, not speculation.

UPDATE II: Yahoo News makes it an official story: Stocks fall as Obama fails to deliver details

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Daily Salt Shaker Post Obama Speech Prediction

I don't like making predictions, because you can be wrong and look stupid. But I'll go out on a limb and say the markets are going to dive tomorrow. It wasn't the time for the president to start talking about costly alternative energy programs to combat global warming. He talked about not having enough money to play with, but wants increase spending into education and health care. Bailing out irresponsible mortgages. All the while saying he'll chip away at the deficit.

Unrealistic. The bear is growling.

PQ Try Their Hand at Humour

The National Post had this article about the Parti Quebecois separatists, that made me angry, but I didn't pick up on the satire:
"In my opinion, the economic crisis demonstrates the necessity of sovereignty," PQ leader Pauline Marois told a party meeting on Saturday in Quebec City.

"It is time for Quebec to take charge. When we need to make sudden changes of course, as is now the case, do we really have the means to deal with the in-coherency of a federation? We must finish with being wards of another nation. The context proves it. Sovereignty is urgent!"

According to Ms. Marois, the benefits of separating from Canada would be almost endless.

"If Quebec were sovereign, we would have all our taxes. We would have more manoeuvring room to develop an economic strategy, to support families and workers," Ms. Marois said.

"If Quebec were sovereign, we could support our industries in the manufacturing and forestry industries. Our aeronautical industry would not be rejected in favour of outdated automobile manufacturers in Ontario.

LOL! I love good satire. No doubt she was winking while saying this. Une autre biere pour Mardi Gras, oui! Ho ho ho! "Bombardier would get even more money if Quebec separates!" Stop it you're killing me. "Hey Canada, stop draining all our money won't you? The economy is hurting because of it." Hahaha! Ok, ok. I won't drive home. Pass moi une autre!

Hat tip: Pat

Mardi Gras Today

Drink up before lent! I'm glad to hear the great city of New Orleans is back with a huge Mardi Gras party..... I went down there when I was 21. I remember getting up and walking near Tulane University on our way to breakfast. It was about 9am, and on the sidewalk was a Bloody Mary stand. The guy, seeing my disheveled look, yelled at me: "Three bucks, best hangover cure ever!" Boy, was he right... Where else to you get a Bloody Mary stand, let alone at 9am? He mixed it up how I like it, put it in a nice plastic cup for me, and I was on my way.... Picture everything that's great about Montreal, multiply it by three and subtract the cold and the infuriating politics. I will definitely go back there again.

Forgot Western Absolute Values Such as Victory

The headline for this article from the National Post is provocative: Afghanistan victory unlikely, says DND manual.
"It is unlikely that the conflict will be suddenly ended with a major military victory against the insurgents, who will rarely offer the opportunity for decisive military engagement and are typically organized into small clandestine cells," the document says.

The manual itself, used for as a guide for fighting the insurgency, is a symptom of how fuzzy headed this mission has become:
Though the manual urges troops to reject Western absolute values, uses postmodern words such as "meme" and "heuristic," and likens insurgencies to communicable diseases, such approaches are commonly advocated in defence circles, said Prof. Hoffman, a former advisor to U. S. Army Chief of Staff George Casey when he was commanding general in Iraq.


Like its U. S. counterpart, Counter-insurgency Operations takes issue with the conventional notions of the victors and the vanquished. "Military forces do not defeat insurgencies; instead they create the security conditions necessary for the political resolution of the conflict," it says.

Prof. Hoffman noted the manual's insistence on understanding the enemy's "narrative" might be its biggest accomplishment. Defined as a plausible story that illustrates real or perceived injustices and grievances, the narrative could also be described as an uprising's founding cause.

The reason why we have terms such as victory is because that is the ultimate measurement of success for the mission. Victory means you have aims, and you have fulfill them, even if through the ugly means of battle. You can't throw that out the window. They are saying, essentially: "Just hang out over there, get to know them, forget about this abstract concept of winning." They're trying to turn war into a touchy/feely kids t-ball league where parents think it will hurt the kids' self-esteem if they keep score.

Madness. Decadence. Muddleheadedness. Anti-rational thinking. They're taking postmodernism out of a post-grad poetry thesis and putting it on the battlefield.

Paying Malignants to be Nice

The Palestinians hate the Americans for supporting Israel. They burn more American flags than I go through Kleenex in a typical week. Public opinion there has been particularly bad after the Israeli Gaza incursion. So the Americans propose to pay money to Gaza:

Clinton said during her Asia trip this month that she would attend an international donors conference in Egypt on March 2 to discuss reconstruction in Gaza.

She provided no other details, but a U.S. official in the United States said Monday that the Obama administration's donation will likely top $900 million in humanitarian and rebuilding aid to the Palestinian Authority to help Gaza recover from Israel's offensive against Hamas last month.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the donation had not received final approval, said the exact amount was still to be determined.

The official added that the aid would not go to Hamas. U.S. officials have no formal contacts with the Islamic militant group Hamas, which runs a separate Palestinian administration in the Gaza Strip.

A little less than two thousand years ago, the Romans used to pay the Huns not to attack them and all it did was encourage them to do it more often. It ended with the Huns having so much Roman gold they invaded Italy and got to the gates of Rome itself.

The US have been paying off Iraqi Sunni militants since 2006, have sent $10 billion to Pakistan since 2001, and are hinting at the same policy with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Now here they are funding the Palestinians in Gaza. Do they think this will make people like them? Or embolden them?

Monday, February 23, 2009


DOW: 7,114.77 -250.89 (3.41%) NASDAQ: 1387.71 -53.51 (-3.71%) S&P 500: 743.33 -26.72 (3.47%)

UPDATE: In 1929, Yale professor Irving Fisher said: "Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."

The modern day equivalent has to be this ridiculous book:
Dow 30,000 by 2008!: Why It's Different This Time

UPDATE II: Major stock market indexes fall to 1997 levels

NEW YORK – Wall Street has turned the clock back to 1997. Investors unable to extinguish their worries about a recession that has no end in sight dumped stocks again Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 251 points to its lowest close since Oct. 28, 1997, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index logged its lowest finish since April 11, 1997.

All the major indexes slid more than 3 percent. The Dow is just over 100 points from 7,000. "People left and right are throwing in the towel," said Keith Springer, president of Capital Financial Advisory Services.

Investors pounded most financial stocks even as government agencies led by the Treasury Department said they would launch a revamped bank rescue program this week. The plan includes the option of increasing government ownership in financial institutions without having to pour more taxpayer money into them.

Brooksie an Out of the Closet Socialist

I used to read David Brooks regularly as the New York Times lone fiscal conservative. But he started getting mushy. In his recent column, titled Money for Idiots, he starts out by talking about how Americans are uncomfortable with bailouts for other people's crappy mortages. The prudent people reward the reckless people. OK. So where does he end up with this train of thought?
And they seem to understand the big thing. The nation’s economy is not just the sum of its individuals. It is an interwoven context that we all share. To stabilize that communal landscape, sometimes you have to shower money upon those who have been foolish or self-indulgent. The greedy idiots may be greedy idiots, but they are our countrymen. And at some level, we’re all in this together. If their lives don’t stabilize, then our lives don’t stabilize.

Gag! Ah Brooksie, what happened? This is supposedly one of the most influential "conservative" columnists out there. The US has become Sweden.

Is She That Hot?

Angelina Jolie is considered the unquestionable best looking woman in the world. I don't know about that. I'm not seeing it in the picture taken (left) at last night's Oscars. The tattoos (not seen here) add a certain skank factor as well..... Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest.

Ex-Presidents of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico Plead to End the War on Drugs

Seeing the devastation that the War On Drugs have brought to their countries, the three declare the war lost, and propose new thinking in this Wall Street Journal Op-Ed

Prohibitionist policies based on eradication, interdiction and criminalization of consumption simply haven't worked. Violence and the organized crime associated with the narcotics trade remain critical problems in our countries. Latin America remains the world's largest exporter of cocaine and cannabis, and is fast becoming a major supplier of opium and heroin. Today, we are further than ever from the goal of eradicating drugs.

Over the last 30 years, Colombia implemented all conceivable measures to fight the drug trade in a massive effort where the benefits were not proportional to the resources invested. Despite the country's achievements in lowering levels of violence and crime, the areas of illegal cultivation are again expanding. In Mexico -- another epicenter of drug trafficking -- narcotics-related violence has claimed more than 5,000 lives in the past year alone.

I have posted the failed War on Drugs before: A Day To Examine Drug Prohibition and Macabre Drug War Deaths in Mexico

How Do You Think This Will Work Out?

Oh boy, reading this item from Yahoo News made me realize how hopeless/maddening the situation is in Pakistan:
Authorities in a Pakistani border province plan to arm villagers with 30,000 rifles and set up an elite police unit to protect a region increasingly besieged by Taliban and al-Qaida militants, an official said Sunday.

Stiffer action in the North West Frontier Province could help offset American concern that a peace deal being negotiated in the Swat valley, a Taliban stronghold in the province, could create a haven for Islamist insurgents only 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the Pakistani capital.


The United States is already spending millions of dollars to train and equip Pakistani forces in the rugged region near the Afghan border but there was no sign it was involved in the militia plan. A U.S. Embassy spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Saturday he will try to "remove the apprehensions of the world community" about the Swat deal when he meets U.S. officials in Washington next week, state-run media reported.

Pakistan, our supposed ally, have a highly trained and funded military who sit in their barracks and do nothing. The US spends $2 + billion a year to Pakistan for military aid. Instead of using them to fight the insurgency, they think it's a good idea to somehow arm villagers, in places already under Taliban and Al Qaeda control.

98% of these arms will fall into Taliban and Al Qaeda hands. It will only strengthen the opposition. The Pakistani army have no intention of fighting insurgents. In fact, they likely aid and supply them.

The article mentions that the US armed villager militias in Iraq with success, but this is different. There will be no US military on the ground there to insure the weapons are used properly. The US aren't allowed to be directly involved in combat in Pakistan.

This is absolute madness. Not only are the enemy allowed to roam freely, but they are indirectly armed by the United States.

Pakistan is double dealing. We know they are. Why are we sitting back and helping it happen? I'm enraged at this.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Big Brother Tracks Booze Purchases in the UK

There are closed circuit cameras all over the UK filming the streets, supposedly to help fight crime. Now the cameras are going to be used to monitor your purchases of a legal product:

Big Brother CCTV cameras are to be fitted inside shops and supermarkets on the orders of the state to keep track on anybody buying alcohol.

A law is being quietly pushed through Parliament giving councils the power to order licensed premises to fit the surveillance cameras. Pubs will also be covered.

The footage of people innocently buying a bottle of wine in a shop or a pint of beer in a bar must be stored for at least 60 days, and be handed over to the police on demand.

Critics say it will mean that citizens will now be tracked everywhere they go. The UK already has more than four million closed-circuit TV cameras covering the streets – the largest number in the world.

I wonder what's wrong with the British people that they let it get this bad? Some of it had to do with the IRA terror campaign, where people willing gave up some freedom to make it safer. Unfortunately, with the threat now gone, the cameras stay and are further expanded to monitor your law abiding life.

Just a note too, we all use plastic, and that too allows your life to be monitored. A friend of mine went to get a mortgage at her bank, and during the process they let her know disapprovingly of all the liquor store purchases that showed up on her debit card.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Las Vegas Not Attracting as Many Suckers because of the Recession

The Daily Telegraph reports that tourism is way down in Sin City:

With the delights of the casinos themselves, the draw of a variety of big name shows from Cirque de Soleil and Cher, not to mention the nearby Grand Canyon, Vegas has long been a big draw for banks and other major companies looking to reward staff by all-expenses paid excursions.

Not anymore. Spurred by a new focus on cost in light of multi-billion dollar capital injections from the US Treasury and a general desire to reduce spending on extra-curricular activities, lavish Vegas conferences are no longer all the rage.

Statistics show that some 50,000 hotel room nights have been cancelled in the last six weeks alone, at an estimated cost to the city and its surrounds of approximately $30m.

Personally, I can't stand Las Vegas. It's the most cynical place in the world. If you aren't gambling, they don't want you there. Try getting a casual drink at a nice bar. Can't be done. Drinking at a bar means you aren't at the gaming tables. Some Casinos have a few bar stools for people wanting to take a break. Even then, it's hard to lay your drink down, because there's a video poker screen there. The bartender will become surly if you stay too long. (Too long being more than one drink.) This isn't one or two places, this is every place we tried.

The hotel we stayed at had a pool. There was no shade in the whole deck area. The day we were out there it was 106F, the most intense heat I've ever experienced. You were not able to lounge by the pool, and read, like people like to do on holidays. The pool itself gives temporary relief only. The air is so dry, you can feel the water evaporate off your skin as you get out of the water. Within a minute you are bone dry, even your hair. There's no breeze, the air you breath is like an oven. It works for the hotel, because they don't want you lounging there. Ten minutes and you're done and back inside gambling.

I talk to people who regularly go there. They always say the same thing. "Oh, I just count $500 dollars as lost at the beginning, so I can just enjoy the gambling and not worry about it." I don't know how they managed to get suckers to happily expect money to vanish into thin air without getting anything for it. Suckers. Maybe people are finally wising up.

Late Night Coleridge

About, about, in reel and rout
The death-fires danced at night;
The water, like a witch's oils,
Burnt green, and blue and white.

And some in dreams assuréd were
Of the Spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followed us
From the land of mist and snow.

Part II v. 123-130 The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Annoyingly Naive "Activists"

My eyes rolled as I read this Yahoo News Item: Activists 'shocked' at Clinton stance on China rights
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Amnesty International and a pro-Tibet group voiced shock Friday after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed not to let human rights concerns hinder cooperation with China.

Paying her first visit to Asia as the top US diplomat, Clinton said the United States would continue to press China on long-standing US concerns over human rights such as its rule over Tibet.

"But our pressing on those issues can't interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis," Clinton told reporters in Seoul just before leaving for Beijing.

Why are they shocked? Let me lay it out for them:

1. Hillary Clinton does not have priniciples or ideology. She is a power vessel and will do whatever she thinks the opinion polls, and circumstances dictate. She was for the Iraq War/ she was against the Iraq War. She was pro-Nafta/ Not so pro-Nafta. To name just two. She doesn't care about Tibet, never did.

2. What is the US to do? Full scale invasion? Start World War III over Tibet?

3. The US owes a hell of a lot of money to China and is asking for more. They are in no position to tell China to do anything.

Got that?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Opinion Gauge: Small Dead Animals

I was surprised to find a post on Small Dead Animals, comparing Pakistan to Cambodia of the Vietnam war era. (Cambodiastan) The blog is by Kate McMillan who is travelling this week, so she has guest bloggers.

Still, this is a site for hawks, and nary is there a discouraging word for US, Canadian and NATO efforts in the Middle East. (Up until maybe two years ago, I was pro-Iraq War, pro-Afghan war, myself.) A post that compares Afghanistan War difficulties to Vietnam War difficulties would have been unheard of up until this point. Even the most steadfast supporters are wondering whether it's worth it.

It's things like the Pakistan problem that got me feeling uncomfortable. While supporting the war it began to grate on me that Pakistan was a safe haven and headquarters for the terrorists, and then was nothing we could do about it. It was the beginning of my own new thinking about whether the war was worth it.

Montcalm Loss: Quebec Gain?

In the Ottawa Citizen, John Robson asks is it really a bad thing for the Quebecois that Montcalm lost at the Plains of Abraham?
So what's the problem? Are the Montcalmites sorry they missed their date with Robespierre and Madame Guillotine? Do they wish they had stood with Napoléon at Waterloo, and Napoléon III at Sedan? Quebec nationalists didn't exactly rush to the colours when France was threatened in 1914 or needed rescuing after 1940. What's wrong with British self-government, suppression of the slave trade and defeat of Hitler that you'd rather be part of, say, Vichy France?

Not bad, but I would take that much further. For example, I doubt France would be shifting over billions in transfer payments to them all these years. I liken a Paris controlled Quebec to Newfoundland with the British. The Newfies had to beg Britain to take over full control of them in 1934, after they tried quasi-independence. (As Wikipedia humorously notes: one of the few countries that has ever voluntarily given up direct self-rule.) Shrewd Brits managed to fob them off onto Canada in 1949. (To my Newfoundlander friends, I apologize, I'm just trying to make a point.)

Quebec has had a sweet deal with Canada. They can be independent if they want. All they need is 50% + 1 of votes.

UPDATE: Here are my posts: Why Isn't Quebec an Independent Country? And this one recently: Quebecers Interested in Sovereignty but not Separation

As Gold Hits $1000 Per Oz.

Once again Peter Schiff at Euro Pacific Capital has a bleak outlook on the fiscal stimulus. It appears that he's caught the gold bug. (read)

The latest spending, signed into law yesterday by President Obama, came on top of $300 billion committed to Citigroup, $700 billion for TARP 1, $300 billion for the FHA, $200 billion for TAF and some $300 billion for Fannie and Freddy. Just over the last six months, which excludes the initial Bush stimulus and several massive, unfunded Federal guarantees, nearly $5 trillion has been committed by the government to the financial industry. Rational observers cannot be faulted for concluding, despite Administration claims to the contrary, that the government is merely throwing money at the problem.

Although the rhetoric has managed to convince many observers of the possibility of success, the gold market appears to clearly understand the implications of this unprecedented spending.

The feeling that the government has no idea how to proceed has created palpable panic. In response, pragmatic investors are seeking the ultimate store of wealth. In 2009, as has occurred countless times throughout history, that store will be stocked with gold. Thus, whether the Federal government's interventions will succeed or fail will be anticipated by the price of gold. Right now, the market is screaming failure.

Prior to the latest round of Federal spending, the Federal government had committed $4 trillion to postpone bank collapses and to lay the groundwork for subsequent restructuring. But has any of this activity actually rescued the banking system? In light of the evidence of deepening recession, is it likely that the additional $787 billion in the latest stimulus will instill enough confidence to restore economic growth? If not, what damage will it do to the eventual recovery?

How true. This stimulus has done nothing to restore confidence. Even at these low prices, does anybody feel like pouring their life savings into the stock market now? Or buying your dream house? No way. Gold sovereigns and guns are looking blue chip to me.

Hat tip: Pat

Palin's Biggest Fans

song chart memes

A little humour for Friday. It's not that far off though. I was listening to Mark Steyn on Dennis Miller's radio show a few days ago. Steyn was praising Sarah Palin. Miller agreed and said: (paraphrase) "The people who hate her, are the people I hate. She was pissing off all the right people." He was implying lefties, Michael Moore type people. No. I don't know when Miller got the lobotomy, but those people love her. It guarantees people with triple digit IQ's won't be voting Republican. It enhances the image of Republican voters being red-neck, snake handling, uneducated, NASCAR lovers.

If Palin gets nominated for the GOP in 2012 watch for David Frum's head to explode. The people who hate Sarah Palin most are Republicans who see where the party is being dragged.

Coyne Embarrassed by Obama Worship

A hilarious post by Andrew Coyne on his Maclean's blog about Obamania.
But people, really: camping out at 4:30 in the morning on Parliament Hill for five seconds of waving from behind plexiglas two hundred yards away (and five seconds longer, at that, than scheduled)? Hours and hours of television coverage given over to a few brief clips of the President a) landing, b) walking with the Governor General, c) sitting with the Governor General, d) flashing by in his motorcade, and e) walking, sitting and standing with the Prime Minister?

Have we all taken leave of our senses? The CBC interviewed some lunatic woman who gravely informed us that, with the election of Barack Obama, she now knew that “everything was going to be okay.” A sign in the crowd read “First God, then Obama,” which was positively restrained compared to some of the comments one overheard. And I don’t just mean from the reporters.

There were some funny reader comments from my earlier post: Obama Visting Canada Today?

Hat tip: Strack Attack

Thursday, February 19, 2009

NY Post in Trouble for Chimp Cartoon

I found it weird that many people were coming to my site by searching google for NY Post cartoons. I had posted one a month ago.

It turns out that there's a controversy. Seen to the left, the cartoon by Sean Delonas has outraged the black community, and has the ire of professional grievance artist Al Sharpton.

Honestly, what other interpretation of the cartoon can you have other than racist? I'm not one to over-analyze, but that's all I can see. The cops shot a chimp in Connecticut recently, who had mauled a woman. What does that have to do with the stimulus bill?

I love the NY Post as a fun paper, but their judgment lapsed big time on this one.

UPDATE: The Post apologizes, but not to Sharpton.

The piece was posted hours after 200 picketers chanting "Boycott the Post! Shut it down!" marched in front of the paper's office, saying the cartoon echoed racist stereotypes of blacks as monkeys.

The editorial said that "most certainly was not its intent," adding that some media and public figures who have long-standing differences with the paper saw the cartoon "as an opportunity for payback."

Calling them "opportunists," the editorial said: "To them, no apology is due."

Max Boot Urges on Endless Afghanistan War

I've mentioned Max Boot before on this blog. He's still an optimistic hawk, but his arguments are flawed and emotional. I do a mini-fisking of his post at saying that Afghanistan is still winnable:
This is a conservative viewpoint that was also occasionally heard during the Iraq War. Some on the right suggested we should not bother with nation-building, which they saw as a utopian undertaking. Why not just depose Saddam and leave the Iraqis alone to sort out their own problems? President Bush thankfully ignored such advice because he understood that a premature exit would spark a terrible civil war with baleful consequences for U.S. interests throughout the entire region.

The reality is that nation building is a utopian ideal that is not working. It has cost about a trillion dollars to occupy and rebuild Iraq. The threat of a civil war is still very real. With the economy tanking its simply unaffordable. It's unfortunate, but if the Iraqis want a civil war that badly, they will have it. There is nowhere in the US Constitution that says American citizens are obliged to stop Middle Eastern countries from descending into civil war. It seems like a lost cause, and people are tired of wasting tax money and lives on it.
The same thing is true of Afghanistan. If we leave now, the Taliban will take over a substantial portion of the country, perhaps even Kabul, once again. The terrorist safe havens that have been established in Pakistan will migrate across the border and U.S. prestige will suffer a crippling blow -- just as the prestige of the Soviet Union suffered from its defeat in Afghanistan. Bad as the situation is in Pakistan today, it will get worse if the U.S. is chased out of the region.

The fact that Pakistan is a terrorist safe haven and there's nothing we can do about, is the reason why this whole project is futile. So what if the terrorists move into Afghanistan? Maybe that's a good thing, they would be easier to hit. For the time being Al Qaeda and the Taliban are sitting pretty in Pakistan, regardless of what our actions are in Afghanistan. So what the hell is the point?

It's been eight years. Do we have the patience for eight more? Twenty more?

Fawning Headline of the Day

Obama makes Americans of us all

Oh please! From the Toronto Star no less.

Hat tip: Strack Attack

Obama Visiting Canada Today?

I didn't even realize it. They really should have more coverage in the Canadian media on this event. I really had to dig to find it.

Ok, poor attempt at sarcasm over. I think David Frum's comments about the situation to be the best:

The opportunity:Barack Obama’s presidency is already going seriously wrong. His own administration concedes that their trillion-dollar stimulus plan will create few new jobs in the next 18 months. Public support for the huge plan is plummeting. And meanwhile Obama has neglected the single most urgent and important challenge facing the United States and the world: fixing the broken American banking system.

The contrast between Obama’s ideology-first, results-last leadership and the cautious pragmatism of Stephen Harper’s government shows strongly now, and will look only more impressive in the months ahead....

The Canadian public just shrug and say: But Obama is a cool, rock star and Harper's a white nerd. (Look at Warren Kinsella's post today, this is exactly what he's saying.)

People lose their minds with celebrity hype. Remember all those people openly weeping for Princess Diana, a person they don't know personally? Did she do anything for these people other than provide an object for "People Magazine" like star fawning? To me this is the same type of thing with Obamania. And it is something I don't entirely understand, when grown-ups get carried away with this sort of thing.

Hitchens on Booze

No doubt Christopher Hitchens was imbibing when he was beaten up by Syrian thugs recently. That had me going back to reading Hitchens' hilarious tips on drinking right:

“The research also shows clearly for the first time that drinking any kind of alcohol — not just red wine — can protect the heart.”

I rolled this luxuriously around my tongue with the approbation that I customarily reserve for port or single malt. Its finer points made themselves apparent in the glowing yet decisive manner that is politely imposed by a good vintage. Not just the occasional drink — the daily drink. Not just red wine — any alcohol is better than none. An apple a day, they said in my boyhood, kept the doctor away. Yeah, that’s right — just bathe your teeth in sugar water and acid and see what happens. Much better to hurl the heartburn-inducing fruit into the trash and reach firmly for the corkscrew, which was the strategy that I began to adopt when I was about 15.


.... Winston Churchill put it very squarely when he defined the issue as, essentially, a wager. He was a lifelong sufferer from the depression that he nicknamed his “black dog”, but he could rouse himself to action and commitment and inspiration, and the brandy bottle was often a crucial prop. I have taken more out of alcohol, he said simply, than it has taken out of me. His chief antagonist, Adolf Hitler, was, I need hardly add, a fanatical teetotaler (though with a shorter and less wholesome life span). The most lethal and fascistic of our current enemies, the purist murderers of the Islamic jihad, despise our society for, among other things, its intolerance of alcohol. We should perhaps do more to earn this hatred and contempt, and less to emulate it.

Read the whole thing.

Debt Crisis

Good morning! Depressed about the economic climate? Neil Reynolds in the Globe and Mail reports on two economists that see a future debt crisis.
For one thing, Prof. Reinhart and Prof. Rogoff say, people should expect an enormous increase in national debt. How enormous? Would you believe -on average, around the world - an 86-per-cent increase? In a sobering scrutiny of past financial meltdowns, published as The Aftermath of Financial Crises, the pair conclude that banking-based crises always result in "an explosion of [national] debt."


U.S. national debt is now (as of Feb. 3) $10.7-trillion (U.S.). Expand this debt by 86 per cent and you get a debt of $19.9-trillion; expand it by 100 per cent and you get a debt of $21.4-trillion, equivalent to 170 per cent of GDP. By contrast, U.S. debt in the Second World War didn't exceeded 120 per cent of GDP. Based on the findings of Prof. Reinhart and Prof. Rogoff, the U.S. will end this recession with far more new debt than the $3-trillion that some economists now presume.

Hat tip: Pat

This Day in History: Donner Party Rescued

February 19th, 1847 is when the grizzly rescue/discovery of the Donner Party was made. In the spirit of cabin fever: Cue the music at the beginning of The Shining as Jack Torrance is winding up the mountain road in his Plymouth Valiant.
Wendy: Wasn't it around here that the Donner party got snowbound?

Jack: I think that was farther west, in the Sierras.

Danny: What was the Donner party?

Jack: They were a party of settlers in covered wagon times. They got snowbound one winter in the mountains. They had to resort to cannibalism in order to stay alive.

Danny: You mean they ate each other up?

Jack: They had to, in order to survive.

Wendy: Jack.

Danny: Don't worry, Mom. I know all about cannibalism. l saw it on TV.

Jack: See, it's okay. He saw it on the television.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hitchens Beaten Up in Beirut?

Rumours out of Lebanon about Christopher Hitchens:

At the invitation of Hariri-Saudi group, Hitchens is visiting Lebanon. A source sent me this: "I dont know if you find this as news worthy or not, but Christopher Hitchens is currently in Beirut sponsored by the same group that owns that crap NOW Lebanon. He got in a few nights ago and surprisingly went out drinking. On his way out of the bar he saw an SSNP poster and wrote on it "Fuck the SSNP". There just happened to be some SSNP thugs near by--most likely asking people for their ID, and most likely to no avail--and saw him write on the poster and kicked his ass. He is still walking with a limp."

Hitchens is a bit of a tough guy and doesn't shy away from confrontation. I wonder if this is true?

UPDATE: confirms the incident:

But later that night, three of our "scoop" brigade--Jonathan Foreman, Michael Totten and Christopher Hitchens--got involved in a street brawl with some thugs of a Syria-loving skinhead party called the SNPN after Hitchens rather gallantly insulted their swastika flag. On our way to a meeting with Minister of State Nissib Lahoud, Hitchens showed me the gashed knuckles and bruises suffered during the punch up. The attackers had apparently come out of nowhere on posh Hamda Street, where they had gone to buy shoes. "I was on the ground," Hitchens said, "and getting it in the head." It was a miracle they didn't pull Kalashnikovs.

Drug War Front: Vancouver

There are plenty of jokes about hippy Vancouver pot heads, but the reality is that drugs are big business over here. BC Bud sells in large quantities down in the US. Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who has a grow op. As always, when illegal smuggling is highly profitable, people end up getting killed. It's not quite as bad as Mexico, YET.
The rash of violence in the Vancouver area, which has had 12 shootings in 16 days, is a result of "disorganized" and "reckless" gangs that have exploded in the province over the last decade, says a criminology professor.

Prof. Darryl Plecas of the University of the Fraser Valley said the number of gangs in B.C. has grown from about a dozen ten years ago to more than 100 today, a growth fuelled in part by an expanding drug trade.

This summer, I came home from work and my street was cordoned off, cops were everywhere, including in the sky in helicopters. It turns out somebody was gunned down 25 meters from where I live. A gangland "hit". Seeing the alley behind my apartment on the television news was surreal. Another time a body was found in the trunk of a car parked right outside my living room window. Cops even came to my door to ask if I had seen anything suspicious.

Ralph Peters: Disneyworld on the Kabul River

Ex-US military intelligence officer Ralph Peters, comes out punching with his latest assessment of the Afghanistan/Pakistan situation. If you want nuance, read White House press releases. If you want the straight goods, go to to this (article)
After taking apart al Qaeda's base network and punishing the Taliban, we should have left the smoking ruins. This should have been a classic punitive expedition: We're not obliged to rehabilitate foreign murderers.

As for those who exclaim that "We would have had to go back!" - well, so what? Had we needed to hammer Afghanistan again in 2007 or 2008, that still would've been cheaper in blood (ours and the Afghans') and treasure than trying to build a "rule of law" state where no real state ever existed.

Staying left us with criminally vulnerable logistics - ever the bane of campaigns in the region. The Brits and the Soviets both learned the hard way that superior fighting skills don't suffice in Afghanistan: You need dependable, redundant supply lines.


They also want the new US administration to multiply foreign-aid bribes. (There isn't enough cash left in the country for Pakistan's elite to steal.)

Our response? We're paying up. Plus, dumber than dirt, we're turning to the Russians for an alternate supply line - after they bullied the Kyrgyz government into ending our access to a vital airbase north of the Afghan border.

But the central problem is the blind-alley mission. We kidded ourselves that we could conjure up a functioning rule-of-law state in the obstinately lawless territory known as Afghanistan, whose various ethnic groups hate each other unto death.

Instead of setting a realistic goal - mortally punishing our enemies - we decided to create a model democracy in a territory that hasn't reached the sophistication of medieval Europe.

Wow! Say what you want, but this is the free press in action. This is some of the best writing out there. I'm going to have to look into buying his book.

Tonight on CBC, President Obama was interviewed by Pete Mansbridge. On the Afghan mission, Obama talked about the need for using "diplomacy" and "development" as opposed to the merely, "military solutions." He should read Ralph Peters.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Speaking Your Mind

“A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”

- Gandhi

Lousy Comedian Begs for Can-Con on the Internet

I don't know if you've ever seen painfully mediocre comedian Colin Mochrie. He's done some improv that was on tv, and half the time you feel sorry for him as he fumbles his way through. I've also seen him on a few commercials, but today I found him writing in the Ottawa Citizen. In this piece, he asks for the CRTC to butt into the internet:
Unlike television, when you are broadcasting through new media, the space for content is practically endless. However, being endless, content can easily get lost. So how do we make sure Canadians can find our own content? How do we make sure Canadian content is featured and given "shelf space"?

Starting this week, our ability to watch Canadian programming when and where we want will be determined.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is undertaking a wide-ranging review of broadcasting in new media to determine whether it should be subject to regulation. Along with other ACTRA performers, I'll be there to urge the CRTC to provide a place for Canadian production online.

The CRTC must take measures now to ensure a place for Canadian programming online. If it doesn't create online space for Canadian programming today and provide a way to fund content, our culture and our industry will drown in a sea of foreign content.

Does anybody think it would drown or get lost if it was any good?
The bottom-line is, whether you are watching an episode of Corner Gas on your TV or, you are enjoying a "broadcast" and the CRTC is obligated under the Broadcasting Act to regulate it.

Here's how we can ensure that Canadians will be able to see and share Canadian stories:

Does anybody actually watch Corner f*cking Gas online? The whole premise of the show is deeply flawed. How many times on a road trip have you stopped in to fill up the tank and get a cup of coffee at some country truck stop? The locals are unattractive, over-weight, slow, and impolite to outsiders. It can be annoying. If you're paranoid like me, you might even get flashes of Deliverance or Pulp Fiction. When you leave, you thank god you live in the city and don't have to deal with these types of people. So what do the TV producing geniuses in Canada do? That's right, make a show featuring these people. Americans put on attractive, hip, young people living in New York or LA. Canada gives you fat, old hicks, cracking viagra jokes in rural Saskatchewan. Brilliant. More money for this valuable Canadian cultural contribution!

When I read Mochrie's rhetoric, I automatically think of Mordecai Richler's brilliant book, Barney's Version. The narrator is a producer of Canadian TV schlock.:

Whenever a government minister, a free marketer responding to American pressure, threatened to dump the law that insisted on (and bankrolled to a yummy degree) so much Canadian-manufactured pollution on our airwaves, I did a quick change in the hypocrite’s phone booth, slipping into my Captain Canada mode, and appeared before the committee. “We are defining Canada to Canadians, I told them. ‘We are this country's memory, its soul, its hypostasis, the last defence against our being overwhelmed by the egregious cultural imperialists to the south of us.” [p. 5]

LOL! How fitting is that.

It's an outrage that Can-Con nannies want to butt into the internet. I hope they are stopped. The beauty of the medium is that's it's unfiltered and unregulated.

Impossible Pakistan Coming to Light

This time last year I didn't realize how bad the situation in Pakistan was. I had a vague idea that they were harboring terrorists like bin Laden, but didn't know it was a complete trainwreck. I came to realize that they are headquarters for Al Qaeda. They are headquarters for the Taliban. They fund and supply troops and arms against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. They harass, destroy and steal NATO supplies travelling through the country. Despite the US sending $2+ billion a year of military aid to Pakistan to help fight the insurgency, the Pakistani army does nothing at best, and openly aids the insurgency at worst.

So when I see "shocking" headlines like this in the New York Post, the pulse does not quicken too much. ISLAMIC LAW TO BE IMPOSED IN PARTS OF PAKISTAN
Officials gave no timetable as to when the new laws -- which will force women to cover their faces when they go out in public and allow for Muslim clerics to advise judges when hearing cases -- would go into effect.

The Taliban said they would observe a 10-day cease-fire in support of the peace process and welcomed the new move.

"Our whole struggle is for the enforcement of Shariah [Islamic] law," said Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan. "If this really brings us the implementation of Shariah, we will fully cooperate with it."

If anything, this is good because it brings the issue out in the open. This has been brewing since the Afghan intervention began in 2001. The Bush administration tried to gloss it over and not acknowledge real problems.

Funny enough, Little Green Footballs blogger Charles Johnson writes: This didn’t happen during the Bush administration. Like this is some new thing that started less than a month ago when Obama took office. Some people are still in denial. Bush should have never made a deal with Pakistan in the first place.

UPDATE: Here's a naive - or disingenuous - report from Yahoo News
NATO warned Tuesday that Pakistan risked creating a safe haven for Islamist extremists after it struck a deal to impose Islamic law and suspend a military offensive in the former tourist haven of Swat.

Like this would be something new. Ever heard of a guy named Osama bin Laden? If alive, he's in Pakistan. So is the core of Al Qaeda. You would think they would mention that, but not a peep in the whole report.

Once Again Throwing Money at the Problem Doesn't Help

On Saturday I posted Downtown Eastside Blues. $1.4 Billion has been spent in Vancouver's Downtwon Eastside to improve the situation but it has gotten worse. As I said:
Every city election they promise more money to curb homelessness. More shelters, affordable housing, drug treatment facilities. And it always gets worse. homelessness goes up, property crime goes up.

I should have mentioned that it gets mentioned in every provincial election too. With the election coming up in the spring, the BC Liberals announced in their throne speech today:
With less than a year before the 2010 Winter Olympics bring the international spotlight to Vancouver, the government set out a new commitment in the Speech from the Throne to combat poverty, drug addiction and mental-health issues in the country's most impoverished neighbourhood, the Downtown Eastside.

The speech, read by Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point, promised a new integrated, personalized homelessness intervention strategy and a new community safety strategy – initiatives that will be combined with expanded social housing.

Asked later for details, Mr. Campbell said the plan is not exactly new but will expand on existing programs like Victoria's Assertive Community Treatment teams that help find housing for the hardest-to-house.

They never learn. Or they do learn, and realize this plan won't work but cynically want to appear 'hopeful" and "positive" for the election.

The economy is in turmoil, let's stop wasting money. The old saying: "You can't help people who won't help themselves."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Total Recall: Arnie Needs to Go

In 2003 Gray Davis was subject to a "recall" and was forced out of office. Why? Because of his poor handling of California state finances. That was peanuts compared to the situation Govenor Schwarzenegger is in and the looming disaster:
After negotiating nonstop from Saturday afternoon until late Sunday night on a series of budget bills that would have closed a projected $41 billion deficit, state lawmakers failed to get enough votes to close the deal and adjourned. They returned to the capital late Monday morning only to adjourn until the afternoon, though it was far from clear whether they would be able to reach a deal.

California has also lost access to much of the credit markets, nearly unheard of among state municipal bond issuers. Recently, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the state’s bond rating to the lowest in the nation.

California’s woes will almost certainly leave a jagged fiscal scar on the nation’s most populous state, an outgrowth of the financial triptych of above-average unemployment, high foreclosure rates and plummeting tax revenues, and the state’s unusual budgeting practices.

It's only a matter of time before they beg for a bailout.

It brings to mind when he shot Sharon Stone, playing his wife, in Total Recall: Consider that a divorce.

Obama Hedging on Afghanistan "Surge"?

President Obama is not getting off to a good start with the reckless stimulus bill. However, on the endless Middle Eastern War front, he appears more cautious. The 30,000 extra troops that the generals wanted for Afghanistan is not as rubber stamped as we thought it was, the Politico reports:
Rather than sign off quickly on all or part of a long-standing Pentagon request for three Army combat brigades and Marine units, totaling over 10,000 troops, Obama and his aides are questioning the timetable, the mission and even the composition of the new forces, officials familiar with the deliberations said.

The latest sign of crossed signals occurred Friday, when White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Obama "hasn't made a decision on augmenting our force structure in Afghanistan," three days after Pentagon officials said he would likely do so that week. Defense Secretary Robert Gates called Obama's deliberate approach on his first troop decision "entirely appropriate."

Obama’s deliberate pace represents yet another break with the usual style of his predecessor. Former President George W. Bush usually signed off quickly on requests for additional troops from his commanders, and, especially early in his presidency, he rarely engaged in lengthy discussions about what the troops would be used for. Those decisions were generally worked out ahead of time between field commanders and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who favored holding down troop levels in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

We need a Commander In Chief who can think critically of this mission. If this article is right, Obama is questioning the mission itself. That's huge progress from Bush who signed everything put in front of him.

Surely, when weighing the evidence, and considering all the other problems in the US right now, the President will realize that it's a lost cause. But that's only step one. The real battle will be having the cojones to withdraw.

US Dollar Devaluation? History Shows:

Avner Mandelman in the Globe and Mail, with inspiration from the book Fiat Money, Inflation in France, written 50 years ago by Andrew Dickson White, sees some distressing similarities of today's situation and post-Revolutionary France:
What evidence is there that today resembles that particular past so much that the ending is bound to be similar? First, in 1789, power shifted from those who had money to those who mostly didn't – similar to today. Second, the revolutionary French government tried to pay the debt racked up by the deposed regime with freshly printed money – again like today. Third, any dissenting voices in the National Assembly were shouted down with dire warnings of a “catastrophe” if the stimulus package were not approved – once more, like today.

But fourth and worst, as soon as the freshly printed money was used, the cry arose that it was not enough – and so more was printed. Then more, more and more.

That last part is not yet in evidence today. However, once the recently approved U.S. stimulus is used up, more will be demanded of Congress, just as it was in 18th century France – you can bet on it.

Hat tip: Pat, who adds:

"My late father-In-law knew all too well about paper money. He was German. He told me his father had the money reduced to zero four times in his life. We were talking about this right after a Ruble "revaluation" in Russia. In Zimbabwe they recently issued a 1 trillion dollar note."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Stimulus Plan

Better be despised for too anxious apprehensions, than ruined by too confident security.

-Edmund Burke

Downtown Eastside Blues

Back in the late 80's PJ O'Rourke toured some expensively built social housing complexes, in the Bronx and Newark, NJ. They were filthy and depressing. The neighbourhoods were full of gangs, criminals and drug addicts. The welfare systems, started up by Lyndon Johnson in the 60's were not alleviating poverty as designed, but making it worse. He wrote of the interesting paradox:
You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money.

I had this in mind while reading this long article that tables some of the huge expenses that have been poured into Vancouver's Downtown Eastside Slum. Since 2000, the Globe tallies it at $1.4 billion. And the place is still horrible:
An open-air drug market still thrives five minutes from a police station. The bathrooms of decrepit hotels still serve as shooting galleries for addicts. Prostitutes still offer their bodies from the curbside. Drug pushers still prey on the mentally diminished, multiplying the misery.

Every city election they promise more money to curb homelessness. More shelters, affordable housing, drug treatment facilities. And it always gets worse. Homelessness goes up, property crime goes up.

Obviously, they need some new thinking. Perhaps re-opening some space in mental institutions, and starting welfare to work programs. Many people down there have long rap sheets, so perhaps longer sentences for repeat offenders. Tougher anti-panhandling and vagrancy laws. More cops.

My wife and I have visited San Francisco many times, since we've lived on the west coast. In the early 2000's Mayor Brown loosened up welfare requirements, and eliminated tough anti-panhandling laws. Within two years the place had gone to hell. The last time we were there, 2005, you couldn't walk anywhere without aggressive, rough looking people asking for money.

Being nice, and spending the big bucks worsen, rather than alleviate the problem. We need a Guiliani type to come in and do the tough but necessasary work.

Politically Correct Speak: Women's Pay Equity

Just what the heck is "Pay Equity" for women? I hear this all the time. The Liberal and NDP benches are always claiming Harper and the Conservatives are setting back women's pay equity issues. I ran across this in a Toronto Star article today:

In this case, the Conservative attack on pay equity – the idea that men and women should be paid equally for work of equal value – provides the most telling example. Bill C-10 would end the right of federal civil servants to take pay equity complaints to the federal human rights commission. Instead, such issues would have to be dealt with as part of the normal bargaining process between union and management.

And in determining whether wage rates for men and women were fair, any arbitrator would have to take "market forces" into account.

The problem with this is twofold. First, as a federal task force wrote five years ago, collective bargaining involves tradeoffs. But a woman's constitutionally protected right to be paid fairly is hardly something that should be traded away for an extra coffee break.

Equally important is the reference to market forces. Toronto lawyer Mary Cornish points out that pay equity was designed specifically to rectify a failure in the market that permitted systemic wage discrimination against women. To turn around and subordinate equity to this same market is to negate the entire exercise.

She notes that when former Ontario premier Mike Harris made a similar attack on provincial pay equity, the courts slapped him down.

I wish they could provide specific examples of where this inequity takes place? I don't know what they mean. As far as I can tell some number cruncher came up with the stat that for average salaries, women's are 70% of men's. There are so many factors that go into that, it's meaningless to cite it. I'm sure if they did stats they could find out left handers make or less than right handers. But still they are trying silly social engineering, to bring up women's numbers. It's a fake issue. I've never met a woman who has felt they make less because they are female. There's no secret cabal of evil white men who decide that women will make less than men.

Why are we wasting time with this?

Ego Maniac Lays Blame

As I have written before, I hate Brett Favre. He tried to stick one to the Packers by retiring and un-retiring. The Packers had put up with his poor play, and his playoff chokes for years, because he was a fan favorite. The media still talked about him like he was the best quarterback in the game. He played off this love as best he could. The Packers made a tough and applaudable decision to cut the ropes last summer and trade him to the Jets. Apparently, Favre thinks he's a pawn, who had been duped. (story)

Brett Favre said today he felt "hoodwinked" when the Packers traded him to the Jets, but that his experience in New York was "wonderful."


Favre guided the Jets to an 8-3 start but the team finished 9-7 and failed to make the playoffs, one year after Favre led the Packers to a 13-3 regular-season record and an overtime loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship.

"I hoped to accomplish more than I did the previous year," Favre said. "13-3 was pretty good, one play away from the Super Bowl is really good, but not good enough.

That "one play away" was a gimme pick to the Giants in overtime for the NFC Championship. Once again, as for the entire decade of Packer playoff appearances, he single handedly blew it for the team.

He wasn't hoodwinked by the Jets. They were hoodwinked into thinking he was a good quarterback. They paid him $12 million last year and he led the league with 22 interceptions.

I wish somebody would hoodwink me for $12 mill.

A bit of schadenfreude on my part that he was a bust.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Beheading in Buffalo

There's a grim irony to this story:
Orchard Park police are investigating a particularly gruesome killing, the beheading of a woman, after her husband -- an influential member of the local Muslim community -- reported her death to police Thursday.


Muzzammil Hassan is the founder and chief executive officer of Bridges TV, which he launched in 2004, amid hopes that it would help portray Muslims in a more positive light.

Queen's Axes Language Police

Queen's finally came to their senses and got rid of the thought crime police at Queen's reports the Montreal Gazette:

Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., has scrapped its "dialogue facilitator" program, calling it "incompatible with the atmosphere required for free speech." A scandal arose last year when it was revealed the student "facilitators" were mandated to intervene in private conversations to encourage discussion of social justice issues and discourage offensive language. In a report to the administration, a panel of experts noted the risk of "making students feel unsafe or under surveillance because of their opinions."

Three cheers! What a bad idea. I bet those volunteers who signed up to "monitor" conversations are being ridiculed, as they should. You can picture some liquored up students on pub night:

"Hey, asshole, you got a problem with what I'm saying? Well there's nothing you can do about it!"

Good! Those types of people deserve our scorn.

I've written about this before here and here

Pete Rose Comments on A-Roid

My boyhood hero, Pete Rose, brings up some good points about Alex Rodriguez in the New York Post:
Rodriguez told ESPN Peter Gammons he stopped taking whatever it was he was taking that year, something else Rose finds hard to believe.

"I guess the drug test will prove me wrong on this, but if you're Alex Rodriguez and you're using from 2001 to 2003 and you hit 52 home runs a year, aren't you thinking about using it in 2004?" Rose told the radio station. "With that kind of success, are you just going to say 'I don't need this anymore?' You see, I don't know how it works. I don't know the mindset of a guy that does that."

Rose also doubted Rodriguez's claim that he didn't know what he was taking.

"I just wonder if a guy making $250 million is going to go into the commode at the ballpark and put a blindfold on and say, 'Go ahead hit me in the ass, with whatever you want to hit me in the ass with,'" Rose said.

LOL! Takes a fraud to know one I suppose.

On that note, can you imagine A-Rod's first appearance at Fenway this season? The Boston fans are going to go nuts. There's going to be some very creative heckling.

Brooding Harper Taking a Walk?

I'm seeing this story all over the place, that Stephen Harper is demoralized, and possibly contemplating retirement. The biased Canadian media always gives him a hard time, but there seems to be something to this. Don Martin from the National Post explains:

MPs confide there's a darkening mood in the big guy himself, hardly surprising given the stormy economic challenge Mr. Harper faces. One source says there was a blowup between a furious Prime Minister and key players last week. And PMO chief of staff Guy Giorno is now plotting the second major internal shuffle in eight months.

What does all this mean? Search me. But some who orbit just outside Mr. Harper's innermost circle speculate that a Conservative party with no heir apparent could lose its leader before the next election.

If true, I can't help but think of this as a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington tragedy.

Since I have reached voting age, Preston Manning, and Harper are the only politicians I have believed in. Guys who I backed with my mind and heart.

I saw Manning speak when I was a student at Carelton twice. The first time it was in front of, at most, 50 of us in a lecture hall. I was impressed that he spoke at a high level. He didn't play a phony populist and spoke as an intellectual. He quoted Burke and Locke.

Around the same time, a friend of mine attended a Paul Martin lecture, and he spoke about the future "green economy." There was a campus buzz. This was hip, new. Unfortunately this sums why Manning, a principled intellectual to fault, would lose out to the trendy, gimmick salesmen of the Liberal Party. (Such was being a student in Ottawa, you got to see politicians.)

Manning never could make it, but up came Harper after the Stockwell Day disaster. Same thing as Manning. He was a wonk. An economics geek, a number cruncher. Authentic. (Though not nearly as a good a speaker. It's unbelievable that Manning was seen as un-charismatic.)

Harper knew he had to play politics and win elections. The base, were prepared to accept compromises. He's won two elections, but as a minority government. No doubt, the office has worn on him. Why wouldn't it?

Harper needs a new, fresh plan of attack. Is it in him? Time will tell.

I still think he should have stood up to the coalition threat. Force an election. If not, allow them to take over with Dion as the PM. Can you imagine that clown presiding over things right now? This terrible budget would be theirs to hang around their necks.