Tuesday, March 31, 2009

For Economic Matters Listen to France

My fingers were bleeding as I typed that headline. The world is definitely upside down when the French are making more economic sense than the British and Americans.

Ms. Lagarde has said France may do more on the spending front if necessary, but that nations should wait to see the effect of current stimulus measures before taking any further action....

Now we're going to get better cuisine tips from the Brits and superior fashion advice from the Americans.

You Can't Beat this Headline

The Hooker-Beating ShamWow Guy Is a Renegade Ex-Scientologist

Galloway Lapping Up the Attention

As I posted a little more than a week ago, it was a mistake to bar George Galloway from Canada.

With the ensuing controversy, he's become a media star. You can find reference of him in every major Canadian newspaper and he appeared via video-conference on CBC's The Hour. He's ratcheted up the grandstanding by asking Jason Kenny to debate him.
In a speech delivered live to more than 600 supporters in a Toronto church, the outspoken Galloway called the ban over his support of Gaza's Hamas government – a decision upheld hours earlier by a Canadian judge – as "foolish and counterproductive."

Loud applause greeted his challenge to Kenney for a one-on-one debate: "Let's book the biggest hall in Canada," said Galloway, "and you and I will debate these issues of war and peace and freedom of speech and censorship.

"You won't be able to hide behind your spokesman. You won't be able to hide behind your immigration officials that can't speak up for themselves (or) behind the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It will just be you and me and the Canadian public ..."

He continued, "It's just not credible, Mr. Kenney, to call a man touring the United States of America, playing to packed audiences ... a terrorist or a security threat."

He would have been greeted with almost no fanfare had they allowed him entry in the first place. Now he's a free speech martyr.

Funnily enough, we find new free speech advocates:
Or take the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) --perhaps best known for its human rights complaint against Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine.

As for George Galloway, the CIC maintains that people should be free to "draw their own conclusions" about what he has to say. The spectacle of the CIC leading the charge for freedom of speech is certainly absurd, but the depths of their hypocrisy reach even deeper.

Most people who supported barring him claimed it was not a speech issue but a security choice by a sovereign country. It certainly doesn't look that way, and ends up bringing you down to the level of the censors at the Canadian Islamic Congress.

Jason Kenney has had a lot of good publicity lately, but this was a really bad decision.

Pakistan Taliban Threaten Terrorist Attack on White House

Who knows what to make of this threat?

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan – The commander of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility Tuesday for a deadly assault on a Pakistani police academy and said the group was planning a terrorist attack on the White House that would "amaze" the world.

Baitullah Mehsud, who has a $5 million bounty on his head from the U.S., said Monday's attack on the outskirts of the eastern city of Lahore was retaliation for U.S. missile strikes against militants along the Afghan border.

"Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world," Mehsud told The Associated Press by phone. He provided no details.

I've watch too many Tom Clancy movies but if he is on the phone with the Associated Press, can't they activate some satellite thingy that hones in on the phone and then fire a missile at him?

In all seriousness though, we've been bracing ourselves for one ever since 9-11. Nobody would be surprised if it happened.

Withdrawal Strategy from Afghanistan?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has harsh words about the nation building project that we've embarked on for the last eight years:

THE HAGUE, March 30 -- The billions of dollars spent in U.S. aid to Afghanistan over the past seven years have been largely wasted, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday.

"For those of you who have been on the ground in Afghanistan, you have seen with your own eyes that a lot of these aid programs don't work," she said. "There are so many problems with them. There are problems of design, there are problems of staffing, there are problems of implementation, there are problems of accountability. You just go down the line."

Clinton called the amount of money spent without results "heartbreaking."

Is it just me or is this shockingly candid? Doesn't one conclude that we should not go any further with this project if the last eight years was futile? We're in a time where we don't have the billions to try to see if another eight years will work. (The article sites seven years, they are rounding down, I'm rounding up.)

This was not some kind of slip up by Clinton. If I had to guess, the Obama administration is managing expectations and perhaps preparing the way for a pull out. Feed the public that it's a lost cause, blame the previous administration for the failure and get out. It might take a year or two. We'll see. I hope so.

Politically Incorrect Garbage

The old magazines were building up. I didn't feel like recycling them, as well as the wine bottle and beer cans. Straight into the dumpster with this kitchen catcher. That's the great thing about private garbage collection.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Homeless Cons = Voteless Cons

Fractures in the Tory party are talking place. This splinter group is disappointed with Harper.

...But what on earth are Homeless Cons? It's a group started by Robson and his wife, fellow writer and pundit Brigitte Pellerin as an outlet for people who don't think the current Conservative government is conservative enough.

"If you are a conservative in this country," Robson says over the phone, "you believe in free markets, traditional social values and strong national defence. You are lucky if you get one out of three out of any Conservative Party you elect."

And Robson thinks that with the way the Harper Conservatives are acting right now, the score is zero for three. The government will not touch the abortion issue he notes, gave up on the vote they promised on gay marriage and in his mind doesn't fund the troops properly. The final straw for Robson appears to have been the latest budget with its projection of a $64,000,000,000 deficit over two years; this after the government was already the biggest spending government in Canadian history. "If that's conservatism," he says, "why not vote Liberal."

I'm not very interested in this group.

Firstly, if it gains traction it will mean two to three straight Liberal majorities. Vote splitting allowed Chretien to win three straight majorities with less than 40% of the vote.

Secondly, if they are talking about banning abortion, they might as well take up arms and become a guerrilla band, because they aren't going to get elected in Canada. The US is much more socially conservative, and they had W. Bush, and a majority in both houses of Congress and it's still legal there.

Thirdly, belief in a strong defense is also not a winning issue. Not in these tough economic times. Harper has increased military spending substantially but why do we need an even stronger defense? Is somebody threatening to invade us? Or does it mean help buffer the US commitment as they occupy two Middle Eastern countries? People in western countries, across the board, are growing weary of those conflicts.

Finally, and most importantly, I don't know if you can talk true fiscal conservatism while Quebec is part of Canada. There's no real private sector there, they rely on handouts. If a government tries to cut back on that, they will not win any seats in vote rich Quebec. If you still proceed with cuts, somehow cobble a majority out of the rest of Canada, they will threaten to separate. I don't know if there is popular support to allow Quebec to leave Confederation within English Canada. Not enough people have caught on to what a sinkhole Quebec is to our tax dollars.

In sum, 2009 is not the time and Canada not the place for this movement.

On Obama Firing the GM CEO

Mickey Kaus makes a great point at his blog at Slate today:

Rick Wagoner = Ngo Dinh Diem? Discuss. After visibly defenstrating GM CEO RIck Wagoner, and moving to replace the board of directors, won't Obama now "own" the GM problem? If the company shuts down in the near future, costing tens of thousands of blue collar jobs, it will be under executives implicitly or explicitly chosen by Obama. It will be Obama's failure, not simply GM's failure, no?

This marks my first "Mickey Kaus" post. About five years ago, Kaus was probably the most cited blogger. I guess one post doesn't entitle me to call him "The Mickster" or simply "Mickey." Maybe in a few years I'll have the confidence to make the same post, but make it one line:

Wagoner = Diem? Mickey here. or

Obama firing GM CEO a good idea? Not according to the Mickster.

Integration Canadian Style

Naomi Lakritz, writing in the Calgary Herald points out something I was unaware of:

It's been quite a while since I've heard the kind of common sense talk about Canadian identity that I heard when Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, visited the Herald editorial board on Thursday. Kenney admits he used to have some trepidation about wading into what he calls the politically correct minefield around this issue, but no more. He obviously realized that when political correctness runs up against common sense, there's just no contest. New Canadians, says Kenney, "have a duty to integrate." Further, he says, "We don't need the state to promote diversity. It is a natural part of our civil society."

To that end, the government has sensibly ceased funding programs such as heritage language classes. Why should the federal government pay for children to learn the language of the country their parents and grandparents come from? It's the family's responsibility to teach children about their heritage, including the language.

"I think it's really neat that a fifth-generation Ukrainian Canadian can speak Ukrainian-- but pay for it yourself," Kenney says. Kenney's right--it is neat. If you can speak your family's mother tongue, your life is just that much more enriched. But such immersion in heritage shouldn't come at the expense of you identifying yourself as a Canadian first --and it certainly shouldn't come at Canadian taxpayers' expense...

I knew about the Canadian government paying for English and French lessons for new immigrants. I think it should be the duty of the immigrant to learn that at their own expense, but still it's in the countries interest to have them speaking the official languages. What the heck is the point of taxpayers paying people to learn Ukrainian or Punjabi? Thankfully they've ended it.

Hat tip: Strack Attack

"The Greatest Lie Ever Told"

The cracks in the "climate change" theory are becoming more pronounced. A Swedish sea level expert takes contention with the rising sea level scare. The Daily Telegraph reports:

But if there is one scientist who knows more about sea levels than anyone else in the world it is the Swedish geologist and physicist Nils-Axel Mörner, formerly hairman of the INQUA International Commission on Sea Level Change. And the uncompromising verdict of Dr Mörner, who for 35 years has been using every known scientific method to study sea levels all over the globe, is that all this talk about the sea rising is nothing but a colossal scare story.

Despite fluctuations down as well as up, "the sea is not rising," he says. "It hasn't risen in 50 years." If there is any rise this century it will "not be more than 10cm (four inches), with an uncertainty of plus or minus 10cm". And quite apart from examining the hard evidence, he says, the elementary laws of physics (latent heat needed to melt ice) tell us that the apocalypse conjured up by Al Gore and Co could not possibly come about.

The reason why Dr Mörner, formerly a Stockholm professor, is so certain that these claims about sea level rise are 100 per cent wrong is that they are all based on computer model predictions, whereas his findings are based on "going into the field to observe what is actually happening in the real world".
Looks like Al Gore took Waterworld with Kevin Costner a tad too seriously and based his climate theory on it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Frum Fights Off Criticism, Makes Case

A great op-ed by David Frum in the National Post, as conservatives beg him to explain himself and his "new" views:
George Bush narrowly won the presidency in 2000, and I was recruited to join the administration as a speech-writer. My initial brief was domestic policy and economics, and it soon become impossible to avoid noticing that the administration’s economic were not working very well.


So much of our energy was being absorbed instead by cultural battles left behind from the unfinished business of the 1960s and 1970s. Here, too often, we were on the wrong side of history: Back in the 1960s and 1970s, we’d been fighting to protect the common-sense instincts of ordinary people from elite interference. Now, in the Terri Schiavo euthanasia case, with stem cell research, on gay rights issues, it was we who had become the interfering elite, against a society that was reaching its own new equilibrium.

Of course, that’s not how conservatives saw it. We saw a country divided in two, red states and blue, NASCAR vs. NPR, real America against the phonies in the cities. A movement that had begun as an intellectual one now scornfully pooh-poohed the need for people in government to know anything much at all. But expertise does matter, and the neglect of expertise leads to mismanagement and failure — as we saw in Iraq, in Katrina and in the disregard of warning signals from the financial market. It was under a supposedly pro-market administration that the United States suffered the worst market failure of the post-war era, and that should have sobered us. Instead, we rallied to Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber.

Read it all. I wonder if what Frum is trying to do is going to have any effect? IMO, it's not. People are on the US right are dumbing down even more and becoming a cheap populist movement. David Frum has been mocked, and is the focus of hate like "Goldstein" in 1984.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Be Sure to Turn Off Your Lights Tonight... Just Kidding

I'll be away from the keyboard today. We'll be celebrating a special occasion tonight, and I hope the restaurant won't be shutting off the lights at 8:30. Considering what Vancouver is like, I'm sure it will happen.

Have a good weekend!

As for Earth Hour, you can chew on this UN Global Warming Folly Scenario:

A United Nations document on "climate change" that will be distributed to a major environmental conclave next week envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, likely involving trillions of dollars in wealth transfer, millions of job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes -- all under the supervision of the world body.

Those and other results are blandly discussed in a discreetly worded United Nations "information note" on potential consequences of the measures that industrialized countries will likely have to take to implement the Copenhagen Accord, the successor to the Kyoto Treaty, after it is negotiated and signed by December, 2009. The Obama administration has said it supports the treaty process if, in the words of a U. S. State Department spokesman, it can come up with an "effective framework" for dealing with global warming.

UN Backs Appalling Blasphemy Proposal

I nearly put my fist through my monitor when I read this AP release:
The resolution urges states to provide "protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general."

"Defamation of religions is the cause that leads to incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence toward their followers," Pakistan's ambassador Zamir Akram said.

"It is important to deal with the cause, rather than with the effects alone," he said.
Muslim nations have argued that religions, in particular Islam, must be shielded from criticism in the media and other areas of public life. They cited cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad as an example of unacceptable free speech.

I wonder what they are going to designate a crime? Is it defamation, if I don't believe Mohammed was delivered the word of Allah, from the Angel Gabriel, and dictated the Koran according to these words? Sorry, it didn't happen. The guy made it up. Just like Jesus, probably was a real person, but he wasn't the Son of God. Moses' parting of the Red Sea was probably a result of prehistoric Global Warming. I don't think Noah made it to the South Pole to round up two penguins. Is that "defamation?"

Why should I respect what I don't believe in and think causes huge problems? Easy for me to say as well. But what about people in Islamic countries that aren't believers? This legitimizes their oppression.

Another reason why the UN should be closed down. Some people in countries a world away want me to respect their invisible sky ghosts.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Never Underestimate the Stupidy of the General Public

As long as people will accept crap, it will be financially profitable to dispense it.

- Dick Cavett

CBC Supporters Don't Want to Pledge Their Own Money

There is a petition going around the "Save the CBC."

The CBC is asking for temporary loans amounting to just $6 per Canadian, or less than 2 pennies a day for each of us. We can make this happen, so let's pull out all the stops to deliver a massive petition to Parliament and Save the CBC!

Petition to Prime Minister Stephen Harper: The CBC and Radio Canada are a national treasure, and play a vital role in our culture. We urgently call on you to grant the CBC's request for a bridge loan to cover its budget shortfall this year, and commit your government to supporting our public broadcasters.

Why don't they have a pledge drive like PBS and pony up some of their own dough while they're at it? I like how they mention that the money is only $6 per Canadian, but nowhere do they ask these loyal CBC fans to pay themselves. If it means enough to people, they will pay.

80's Music

Instead of blogging, I was on a long 80's music email thread with some friends. One of my favorites out of the era were Liverpool's Echo and the Bunnymen.

Brooks' Pie in the Sky Scenario in Afghanistan

David Brooks is visiting Afghanistan and thinks the war is salvageable and important for America to win:

Every element of my skepticism was reinforced during a six-day tour of the country. Yet the people who work here make an overwhelming case that Afghanistan can become a functional, terror-fighting society and that it is worth sending our sons and daughters into danger to achieve this.


After the trauma in Iraq, it would have been easy for the U.S. to withdraw into exhaustion and realism. Instead, President Obama is doubling down on the very principles that some dismiss as neocon fantasy: the idea that this nation has the capacity to use military and civilian power to promote democracy, nurture civil society and rebuild failed states.

Foreign policy experts can promote one doctrine or another, but this energetic and ambitious response — amid economic crisis and war weariness — says something profound about America’s DNA.

David: slap, slap, slap! Wake up, it's not 2001 anymore! We had this thinking then, unfortunately, eight years later we are still there with no end in sight. Take a look in the papers, the USA is broke and simply can't afford this anymore. How many people would like to have the trillion plus dollars spent on those wars back? Who wants to spend a trillion more continuing this folly? They don't have a trillion more dollars to spend.

Most Annoying Faces in Canada

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fatherly Advice

Be it thy course to busy giddy minds
With foreign quarrels; that action, hence borne out,
May waste the memory of the former days.'

- King Henry IV on his death bed to Prince Hal (Shakespeare: Henry IV Part II, act 4, scene 5, 214-216)

Obama Dodges Pot Questions

President Obama had an online "town hall' session today and was hit with a number of questions regarding the case for legalizing marijuana.
In this moment of national economic crisis, the top four questions under the heading of “Financial security” concerned marijuana; on the budget, people voted up questions about marijuana to positions 1-4; marijuana was in the first and third positions under “jobs”; people boosted a plug for legalizing marijuana to No. 2 under “health care reform.” And questions about decriminalizing pot occupied spots 1 and 2 under “green jobs and energy.”

After taking questions lower on the list, Obama addressed the pot issue head on, noting the huge number of questions about marijuana legalization and remarking with a chuckle, “I don't know what that says about the online audience."

"The answer is no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy," he said, as the audience in the room applauded and joined him in a laugh.

He didn't mind blowing reefers in his younger days, but he can't even condescend to answer the questions thoughtfully. Like it's the craziest suggestion he's ever heard.

Report: Israeli Jets Made Strike Inside Sudan

CBS reported that the IAF carried out the attack on a convoy of trucks in Sudan carrying arms for Hamas in the Gaza Strip. According to the report, 39 people riding in the 17-truck convoy were killed, while a number of civilians in the area were injured. (source Haaretz.com)

UPDATE: Israel hasn't confirmed it yet, but there is also reports that they attacked an Iranian ship as well

Following unconfirmed reports that Israel or the US attacked a convoy of trucks carrying weapons headed for the Gaza Strip in Sudan, a new report by Sudanese sources cited an additional strike on a ship possibly making its way to Sudan from Iran.

"There were indeed two strikes in Sudan, in January and February," Sudan's deputy transportation minister told Channel 10 on Thursday evening. "I cannot confirm that Israel or the US were behind the attack, but I know that the US controls the airspace there," he said.

"The second strike was against a ship at sea and it was completely destroyed," another Sudanese official said.

If this is true, this could really heat things up over there.

UPDATE II: I don't know why the western press haven't picked up on this yet.

UPDATE III: Finally something in the Guardian. Why did it take so long to report something that happened in January?

Our Wonderful Ally Pakistan

It's well known that Pakistan is double dealing when it comes to the US and NATO. They receive aid money from US tax payers, an estimated $10 billion since 2001, yet they provide safe havens for Al-Qaeda and aid the Taliban. On the latter point, the New York Times reports how Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, aids the Taliban, the people we're supposed to be fighting. It's shocking to read the extent to which they are doing that:

WASHINGTON — The Taliban’s widening campaign in southern Afghanistan is made possible in part by direct support from operatives in Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, despite Pakistani government promises to sever ties to militant groups fighting in Afghanistan, according to American government officials.

The support consists of money, military supplies and strategic planning guidance to Taliban commanders who are gearing up to confront the international force in Afghanistan that will soon include some 17,000 American reinforcements.

Support for the Taliban, as well as other militant groups, is coordinated by operatives inside the shadowy S Wing of Pakistan’s spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, the officials said. There is even evidence that ISI operatives meet regularly with Taliban commanders to discuss whether to intensify or scale back violence before the Afghan elections.

How can they possibly win this conflict with this going on? They are still sending money and are planning on sending more. They are paying people who are fighting them. How do they think this will get better? Einstein's definition of insanity applies here: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

UPDATE: From the LA Times: U.S. plans to boost civilian aid to Pakistan
Reporting from Washington -- The Obama administration plans to dramatically increase civilian aid to Pakistan as part of its new strategy on Afghanistan and the surrounding region, hoping the overture will lead to more effective steps by the Pakistani military to shut down insurgent sanctuaries, U.S. officials said.

A threefold increase in civilian aid would come on top of more than $10 billion in mostly military assistance since 2001. In addition to the aid, the administration will seek similar contributions from other nations, the officials said, describing the conclusions of a strategy review on condition of anonymity because it has not been made public

What a joke.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Incredible Speech

British MP Daniel Hannan smacks down Prime Minister Gordon Brown. This is the best anti-debt, anti-bailout speech I've heard yet. There's already been 150 thousand hits on youtube, and I suspect it will gain more popularity. He packs so much into a three minute speech. We need more politicians like this who lay it on the line.

Quebec Confidence Scam

I'm no fan of Jeffery Simpson in the Globe and Mail, but he has an interesting article of how Quebec recently screwed the federal Tories and the "have" provinces. (read)
After much caterwauling and nattering from Quebec about the “fiscal imbalance,” Mr. Harper had duly handed over billions of additional dollars for social programs – only to find that a campaigning Mr. Charest had taken the first tranche of the money and announced tax cuts to help his re-election bid. At which point, Mr. arper hit the roof.

Further betrayals arrived. Mr. Charest, having pocketed the billions for the “fiscal imbalance,” sent his Finance Minister to announce at the beginning of the federal campaign that, no, Quebec's “demands” (Quebec is always demanding) had not been met.

With every Conservative candidate campaigning on having settled the “fiscal imbalance,” it was quite a blow to their credibility to hear Mr. Charest declare the matter unfinished. Of course, Mr. Charest had many other grievances and gripes that needed attention. So much for giving Mr. Harper a break in Quebec.


And yet, here's the dilemma: Despite a staggering economy, growing unemployment and a fiscal nightmare, Ontario taxpayers, via Ottawa, are still going to ship billions of dollars to Manitoba, the four Atlantic provinces and Quebec.

Last week's Quebec budget had $8-billion in equalization payments, amounting to 12 per cent of total revenues. Notwithstanding this bonanza, and the fact that payments had almost doubled, the budget contained a chapter complaining about how unfair equalization was to Quebec. Call it Gallic gall.

It's hard for me to believe that I supported Charest for the PC Leadership Race of 1993. My dislike started for him soon after the disastrous election that year when he refused to partner with the then Reform Party. Now as the Quebecois crook-in-chief, my hatred is viseral as well as political.

Wouldn't it be nice is Quebec seperated? Why Isn't Quebec an Independent Country?

I'm glad to see that the Conservatives and Harper are looking elsewhere to pick up support.

The Perils of Blogging in Iran

It's one thing to see Rick Steve's travel specials of Iran and another to hear stories of the horrors of the Islamic Republic's authoritarian regime. The Wall Street Journal has a story about Iranian bloggers and what they face, for simply giving their opinion.
"When you express your dissatisfaction in a civil way and you're faced with physical violence and cruelty, you realize the baseness of the equation," Mr. Sanjari tells me, explaining the impulses that animated his dissent. "The moment you go to prison is when you realize you are in the right. And when you see what nefarious people the regime has to break you is when you feel the need to fight back."

Between prison terms Mr. Sanjari headed the Association of Political Prisoners, which follows more than 500 known cases in Iran. About Mirsayafi, he says that when his fellow blogger "found out that he had been summoned to court and that he may end up with a prison sentence, he wrote an email to friends. He said he felt powerless to withstand what torture he would have to face in prison. He also told a mutual friend that he did not think he would survive the imprisonment. He was well aware of the fact that they wanted to do away with him."


"Mr. President, you marked your first day in the White House by ordering the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison. But in our country, many Guantanamos exist, only our Guantanamos are home to students, women's rights activists, labor organizers, political activists, and journalists. We, as former student activists who spent time in Iranian prisons under inhumane conditions, call on you and all those who defend human rights, freedom and equality to express solidarity to the people of Iran as they wage their struggle for freedom."

It's too bad that Obama didn't go directly to the Iranian people in his speech and mention these persecuted people. Underline the importance of free speech, and the need to demand that from their govenment. Instead he gave the Iranian government too much respect.

Ralph Peters: Obama's Foreign Failures

Yesterday, I mentioned Obama's lack of street smarts when it comes to dealing with foreign governments. Today Ralph Peters piles on saying the administration "have set new records for instant incompetence."

China: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (you know that gal married to the Saudi hireling) crawled to Beijing to tell the party bosses that human rights don't matter. Our "relationship" is more important than freedom and human dignity.

Beijing's response? A staged military confrontation with an unarmed US Navy vessel; continued screw-America currency cheating; a renewed crackdown on dissidents and, yesterday, a call for a new global currency to replace the dollar.

Thanks, Hill. You're a sweetheart.

Pakistan: With viral corruption throughout and Islamist fanatics sweeping half of its territory, Pakistan's coming apart. Its Dem-adored prez tries to ban opposition parties and gut the judiciary. It has nukes and seethes with hatred of America. And Islamabad controls our primary supply route into Afghanistan, using it as an extortion tool.

Obama's response? Billions in new aid for Pak pols to pocket. We'd be better off handing the money to AIG to pay out more bonuses.
Afghanistan: Obama's Vietnam. Am I the only American who remembers that candidate Obama had a plan to capture Osama bin Laden and fix our previous "mistakes" in Afghanistan? President Obama doesn't have a clue.

Iran: Obama tried to reach out, to talk. After all, talking got him to the White House. But America-bashing is what keeps Iran's leaders in office, it's their political essence. After 30 years of fierce hostility, hasn't anyone figured out that the senior mullahs need us as an enemy? Without the Great Satan America to blame, they'd have some real explaining to do to their homies. So O got the left-hand finger.

He wanted to chat with the Taliban, too. They told him he could stick it where the sun don't shine.

He is dead on with Iran. For me, Ralph Peters' Wednesday column is always "must read." Even if I disagree with a lot of what he says.

Wealthy House Flippers

From the Globe and Mail: Vancouver remains Canada's wealthiest city
Vancouver is still Canada's wealthiest city despite a huge drop in real estate values, according to a new study by Pitney Bowes.

Although house prices in Vancouver fell an average of 11 per cent in 2008, or nearly $57,000, the city's average household net worth was $592,851, still $30,000 greater than in its nearest rival, Toronto. Cities with high real estate values were ranked highest in the study, despite also having the most debt.

Without a huge corporate sector like Toronto, Vancouver's wealth is still built on real estate. I was hoping that bubble would deflate a little more.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wanted: Sucker to Buy a Mediocre Hockey Franchise

It looks like the Montreal Canadiens are up for sale. You'd think a hockey team full of small European guys, who don't play hard in the playoffs, in a city with no private sector would be a gold mine!

Sale rumours add to Habs' woes
Gillett arrived on the Montreal scene in 2001 feared by hockey fans as a U.S. investor who was sufficiently emboldened by his recovery from a 1992 bankruptcy to spirit the team out of town. But Gillett, and his family, have proven to be passionate, caring owners, treating the Canadiens as a public trust.

He now is respected, even beloved, for having written a cheque when no Quebec or Canadian company was prepared to deal with Molson on a sale, the brewery happy to keep just 19.9 per cent of the action. He is proud of the administrative team that runs the Canadiens, a group he’s assembled and let work with very little interference.

Now why would Molson sell out to George Gillette in the first place? Because they were making too much money? Please. Gillette is now looking for another sucker rich guy to sink money into it.

Maybe Bombardier can ask for more pork from the Canadian government so they can buy up more corporate boxes to improve the bottom line. Who said "stimulus" didn't have a trickle down effect?

We'll be seeing a lot of professional sports franchises feeling the crunch with the economic crisis. Baseball, and hockey are really going to feel it. They had many franchises losing money even in the boom years.

Ron Paul Predicts a 15 Year Depression

Ron Paul gives an undiluted account of the state of the economy and where it is heading. Phil Davis writes about it at the Financial Post: (free registration may be required.)

But the credibility of both western governments and their currencies is waning, and has been ever since the gold standard was abandoned in 1971, says Mr Paul. And that means even “safe” investments are far from safe, he claims.

“People will start to abandon the dollar as current and past economic policies create a steep rise in interest rates,” Mr Paul says.

“If you are in Treasuries, you will need to be watchful and nimble to time your escape.”

Unfortunately, cashing out will not protect the value of investments, he insists, because “fiat” currencies will all decline over the coming years as measures to try to haul the world economy out of recession fail. “The current stimulus measures are making things a lot worse,” says Mr Paul.

“The US government just won’t allow the correction the economy needs.” He cites the mini-depression of 1921, which lasted just a year largely because insolvent companies were allowed to fail. “No one remembers that one. They’ll remember this one, because it will last 15 years.”

At some stage – Mr Paul estimates it will be between one and four years – the dollar will implode. “The dollar as a reserve standard is done,” he says. He sees little hope for other currencies where central banks have also created too much liquidity dating right back to the early 1970s.

“Europe and the US will both have to fundamentally change their money systems,” he adds.

And don’t even mention shares to Mr Paul: “The last place you want to be is in the stock market,” he says. “It may not bottom out for 10 years – just look at Japan.”

However, his views are, for the first time, being taken seriously in Washington. Like another politician who recently aimed for high office, Al Gore, Mr Paul’s uncomfortable truths are starting to be deliberated at elevated political levels. “Before last summer, in meetings nobody really knew I was there. Now they often defer to me on economic matters. But you won’t catch any of them admitting that publicly – not yet at least.”

Read it all, but it would be best to pour a scotch first.

Boring Old Canada

As I could hear CBC Newsworld in the background with a lead story on ski helmets, I was scanning the top news headline in the Montreal Gazette and it was this:

Ski helmet standards on the way

For God's sakes.

Fatuous "Reset Button" Diplomacy

I had recently posted on Hillary Clinton's ridiculous "rest button" stunt with a top Russian diplomat.

Anne Applebaum goes beyond the stunt itself, and writes about the new thinking in diplomacy under Clinton for the Obama administration. They're going to have to think a little harder.

Nor is this true of Russia alone. Any president can legitimately call for a fresh start in his relations with the world, and none more so than the current American president, who replaces an unpopular predecessor. Sooner or later, however, Obama will also have to make difficult decisions about regimes that oppose U.S. policy for reasons deeper than dislike of George W. Bush. If Russia persists in its occupation of Georgia, do we accept that situation? If Russia uses its energy policy to blackmail Europe, do we go along with that, too?

The rest of the world is no different. It's a fine thing to open diplomatic relations with Iran or Syria—I've always thought it extremely stupid that we have no embassy, and thus no resident intelligence officer, in Tehran—as long as we remember that talking is not a solution: Sometimes more "dialogue" reveals deeper differences. It's also a fine thing for the president to issue greetings on the occasion of the Persian new year, but that might not dampen the popularity of Iran's nuclear program among both adherents and opponents of its current government. What then?

I do realize that these are early days. The traditional, deadly struggle for influence between the State Department and the National Security Council is only just getting under way, and the president has other things on his mind. But the gift of a "reset button," however translated, was not a good beginning. If this administration thinks it can transform America's relationships with Russia or anyone else with the flick of a switch and a change of rhetoric, then it is living in a virtual reality, not a real one.

Do you get the sinking feeling that Obama and Hillary don't know what the hell they're doing? (We already knew that about Joe Biden.) We've grown so used to hearing how intelligent they are, but when it comes to foreign policy they don't seem to have any street smarts or sense.

Canadian Convert Beheading Threat a Fraud?

I posted last week about a Canadian woman who is facing beheading: Grim Irony: Canadian Islamic Convert Woman Facing Beheading in Pakistan

The anti-terrorism site, the Jawa Report, have known about her for years, and openly wonders if this is a set up:
We've been following the story of Beverly Giesbrecht (aka, Khadija Abdul Qahar) fairly closely for years now. As the owner and operator of the "Jihad Unspun" website, she wrote countless stories about how US and Canadian troops were the "real terrorists" and how the Taliban were simply anti-imperialist freedom fighters -- the "resistance" as she liked to call them.

I actually knew Beverly was on her way to Pakistan as she and I crossed paths at some Islamist forums. She was at the forums looking for video and trying to hook up with "resistance fighters" who could help her and Phil Rees -- who she claimed to be working with --- on their "documentary" about "Islamic resistance". A "documentary" she claimed would show the "resistance" point of view.

So, if Beverly really was kidnapped by the Taliban and if she is about to be beheaded, how come nothing happened to Phil Rees? Presumably the Taliban would be more interested in killing an infidel who is sympathetic to their cause before they would want to kill a sister who is sympathetic to their cause?

Let me say publicly what every one I know is saying privately: are you really being held hostage Beverly or is this some elaborate scam to raise money for the Taliban (or for yourself and your failing website)?

Yes, I am skeptical. What would the Taliban have to gain from beheading a woman who is on the record as a supporter? Jihad Unspun used to deliver Taliban press releases unedited. The whole thing seems rather fishy.

Of course, there remains the possibility that this is exactly what this seems. That the Taliban really are holding Beverly hostage and that they really are going to behead her if a ransom isn't paid. If that is the case, then I really do feel sorry for "Khadija". Even fools deserve our pity sometimes.

Yes Beverly, the Taliban really were the bad guys all along. A hard lesson learned, and possibly too late on your part.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The "Red Eye" Scandal

I'm normally thick skinned when it comes to cheap jokes about Canada, but this pissed me off.

I'm not going to get on a soapbox and holler my lungs out. But, stupid little things like this makes me more adamant that Canada fully end our mission in Afghanistan in 2011 as planned.

If they can't figure out their next door neighbour, how the hell can they have the solutions for dealing with Afghans?

Fox News and Limbaugh types really are stupid, and apparently proud of it.

UPDATE: Frum chimes in on his site, calling it very dumb. If you scroll down to the comments, the vast majority are saying "f-you Frum. There's nothing wrong with what they said." Here's a sample, from a one Patty:
I'll refrain from mentioning you were born in Canada. You think Red Eye is dumb. I pity you. You have no sense of humor and are Canadian, so who cares what you think? I knew you were an angry little man when you stabbed President Bush in the back. Go away. Leave us dumb people alone to enjoy our Red Eye.

UPDATE II: From SDA, Canada's #1 conservative site: What's the big deal? Obviously Fox News trumps her own country for her loyalty.

Predictably the Galloway Ban Backfiring

As I mentioned a few days ago, barring British MP George Galloway from entering Canada was a mistake. It gives ammo to to far-left, conspiracy theorists. They are already making noise:

"We think this move is politically motivated and is simply about silencing someone who has very strong views on our position on Afghanistan and other issues," Clark said.

He said Galloway has been elected five times to British parliament, has never been charged with a crime, has no criminal record, and "it's unclear just how the government sees him as a national security threat."

The groups campaigning to bring Galloway to Canada include The Council of Canadians, Canadian Civil Liberties Union, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, as well as anti-war coalitions, labour unions and community groups.

Now they can feel very self righteous. Their free speech is being unfairly stopped. This gives strength to their cause. Next thing you know we are going to be hearing that the Free Masons secretly ordered it stopped.

As much as I detest the treasonous Galloway, you can never win this sort of battle by silencing people.

Utopian Project Doomed from the Beginning

Call me negative, call me a cynic but this new development on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside is going to fail. The Globe and Mail interviews the architect and it doesn't take long to see the failings.
There is a gargantuan new residential and commercial development on the site of the old Woodward's building in Canada's most troubled postal code, Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. The project is an exciting attempt to, in a single stroke, remake a depressed community. As it happens, for the past three years, the project has been going up just down the street from my office, and as it's climbed above the Gastown skyline, its ambitions have intrigued and inspired me.

Of the development's 536 suites, about 40 per cent are going to non-market housing, which means the place will be an admixture of the advantaged, less advantaged, students (the property will house Simon Fraser University's new Centre for the Contemporary Arts), shoppers and workers (at the drug and grocery stores, non-profits and other retail units).

Translation, almost half the building will be social housing. Do they really think this will be positive in the long term? Would you pay money to live in a building that's half social housing and knowing the crime and lower quality of life that comes with that?

The architect has lofty goals:
The future is in hybrid projects - where market, rental and affordable housing get merged into the normal fabric of our city. I think that if we embrace the philosophy, in one generation we could end the homelessness and affordability problem. We're such a wealthy country, the fact that we can't deal with this important issue just seems silly.

Again, I hate to be a cynic, but I'm willing to bet money that this will be a bust within 10 years. When people aren't paying to live in a place, they don't treat it well. Imagine if you've invested money to live in a condo and in the lobby there's surly young men, and grafitti? You would be begging to sell and nobody will be buying.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Snug Wow

You've seen the Snuggie, you've seen the Sham Wow.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hard Times in "The City"

Back in the 90's, a friend of mine worked in "The City," which is London's financial district. There was big money to be made and people were partying. He said in the summer everybody was half pissed by 2 o'clock in the afternoon. The Globe and Mail has a long piece on how far it has fallen.

There are no official figures, and the best anyone can come up with is a running tally done by the financial website Here Is The City. The figure is shocking: Between August, 2007, and February, 2009, 133,000 jobs were lost in investment banking, private banking and asset management. Topping the list of woe is Bank of America, the new owner of Merrill Lynch, with 29,260 jobs vaporized at the two companies.

As the downturn in the global financial services industry becomes dire, the futures of other big Canary Wharf names – Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, HSBC – at Europe's premier office development remain uncertain.

London partied like no other city in Europe during the boom years, which began in the mid-1990s and was driven by the massive influx of investment capital and jobs into the investment banking, asset management, underwriting, private equity and derivatives markets. By extension, business services soared. Throw in one of the hottest real estate markets on the planet and you had a recipe for extraordinary growth.

Now, London is falling as quickly as it rose. And there is little doubt things will get worse before they get better, for London is the victim of the bursting of a rare double-bubble: real estate and financial services.

This extraordinary place has vanished.

Unclenched Fist Watch

Barack Obama in his inaugural address said to America's enemies: "we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." I guess the mullahs in Iran weren't listening.

However, Khamenei exhibited little will to bend, using his speech to outline a long list of grievances against the United States, including U.S. sanctions against Iran, U.S. support for Saddam Hussein during his 1980-88 war against Iran and the downing of an Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf in 1988.

"Have you released Iranian assets? Have you lifted oppressive sanctions? Have you given up mudslinging and making accusations against the great Iranian nation and its officials? Have you given up your unconditional support for the Zionist regime? Even the language remains unchanged," Khamenei said.

As he spoke, the crowd chanted "Death to America."

Death to America, eh? Definitely not unclenched.

Obama should have had a more subversive message, straight to the people. Something like: "Overthrow your theocratic dictatorship, you know you want to."

Hat tip: Strack Attack

UPDATE: PBS travel nerd Rick Steves was recently in Iran, and had some interesting thoughts in this Salon interview:
When I came home after the most learning 12 days of travel I've ever had in my life, I realized this is a proud nation of 70 million people. They are loving parents, motivated by fear for their kids' future and the culture they want to raise their kids in. I had people walk across the street to tell me they don't want their kids to be raised like Britney Spears. They are afraid Western culture will take over their society and their kids will be sex toys, drug addicts and crass materialists. That scares the heck out of less educated, fundamentalist, small-town Iranians, which is the political core of the Islamic Revolution and guys like Ahmadinejad.

After all, this is a country that lost a quarter of a million people fighting Saddam Hussein, when Iraq, funded by the United States, invaded Iran. And they remember the invasion like it was yesterday to them. It's amazing: They have a quarter of our population and they lost a quarter of a million people, fighting Hussein. That's a huge scar in their society.

I just feel we underestimate the spine of these people. They will fight and die to defend their values. And their values are not to destroy America and Israel. Their values are to defend their way of life against Western encroachment. Because of recent history, they have grounds to think America threatens them. So it would be dangerously naive to think we could shock and awe them into any kind of submission.

The entire inteview is interesting on a variety of topics. Some of his opinions are not what you'd expect, considering his Mr. Rogers-like persona.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Surviving Catastrophe

Peter Sellers at his best.

The Article Everybody Is Talking About

Terence Corcoran's column from the Financial Post was linked by the almighty Drudge today, which means millions of people will have read it. Is this the end of America?

But America is at risk in other ways, especially in the technical business of setting and executing policy. The presidency of Barack Obama has set out on a course that has no precedent in U.S. history. Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose New Deal transformed the U.S. economy during the Great Depression, pushed America off on a sharply different political and ideological course. The Obama administration is different in many ways, not least in its supreme self-confidence in its methods and objectives.

Reform of health care, environmental policy, education, energy, banking, regulation — every nook and cranny of the U.S. economy has been put on alert for major change. Expansion of government spending, plunging the U.S. into unprecedented deficits, is without parallel. In economic policy, through regulation and control of energy output, financial services and monetary expansion, the U.S. government has embarked on a fundamental reshaping of America. It is designed, in short, to bring on the end of America.

The spillover effect of all this on the rest of the world promises to be dramatically disruptive. The greatest global risk is in monetary and currency policy. Below is a chart that graphically demonstrates the sharp deviation in monetary policy from past norms. Under the chairmanship of Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve is in the midst of a giant economic experiment, flooding the world with U.S. dollars, hoping that flood will stimulate economic activity.

Read it all, if you dare. I like to put up lighter things on Friday, so I apologize. Just try to remember the laughs you got last night when President Obama was on The Tonight Show, with Jay Leno.

Galloway Barred Entry to Canada

Many people on the right might applaud the decision to bar entry to far left George Galloway to Canada. (story)

Outspoken anti-war MP George Galloway has vowed to fight an 'outrageous decision' to ban him from Canada on the grounds of national security.

Mr Galloway said the ban was 'not something I'm prepared to accept' and pledged to use all means at his disposal to challenge the ruling.

But a spokesman for Canada's immigration minister Jason Kenney insisted the decision, taken by border security officials, would not be overturned for a 'infandous* street-corner Cromwell' (*'infandous: too odious to be expressed or mentioned).

Mr Galloway was due to give a speech in Toronto on March 30 but has been deemed 'inadmissible' to Canada under section 34(1) of the country's immigration act.

Mr Kenney's spokesman Alykhan Velshi said the act was designed to protect Canadians from people who fund, support or engage in terrorism

This is a bad decision. I personally think Galloway is scum. While British troops were in Iraq, he was clearly cheering for the other team. But he's not a terrorist. The conspiracy theory loons are going to say that they are "stopping him from speaking the truth" or some such nonsense. It also makes our terrorist defense look like a joke. They aren't banning him because he might blow something up, but for political reasons.

Hat tip: Strack Attack

Grim Irony: Canadian Islamic Convert Woman Facing Beheading in Pakistan

Khadija Abdul Qahar, formerly know as Beverly Giesbrecht, was kidnapped by the Taliban in northern Pakistan. The Globe and Mail has the details, with hostage video:
BANNU, PAKISTAN and TORONTO — A Canadian held hostage after she travelled to the lawless tribal belt of northern Pakistan says the Taliban will behead her by the end of the month if a ransom isn't paid.

In a new video provided to The Globe and Mail, Beverly Giesbrecht expresses fear for her life if her captors aren't paid.

“I have been advised and asked to make this video. We have very short time now and I am going to be killed, as you can see,” she says, gesturing at the dagger on the wall behind her, pointed at her head.


Ms. Giesbrecht, who is also known as Khadija Abdul Qahaar, has been a captive for four months. The West Vancouver resident converted to Islam after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and runs a website, Jihad Unspun, that says it provides information “devoid of the constraints of mainstream media.” Her visa application to Pakistan said she was a freelance journalist working on a documentary for the Al-Jazeera television network.

She was captured by gunmen last November, reportedly by the Taliban commander Gul Bahadur, who leads fighters in the volatile North Waziristan region.

“I need some kind, someone to help me, the Pakistani government and my own country and somebody must move now, because my life is going to be over. I want to go home. So, these people are serious. Please help me,” a wavering Ms. Giesbrecht says in her latest video.

I checked out her website, and it is unapologetically pro-jihad, including a sick musical video of a US personnel carrier being blown up. The site is jihadunspun.com. Sample:
Here is a new video release from the Islamic State of Iraq that shows Mujahideen detonating an IED at a US Bradley in Baghdad that completely destroys the vehicle. Please be patient as this Windows Media file downloads to your computer.

I hope she gets out of this and realizes the errors of her way and drops the jihad posturing.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tucker Carlson Takes a Shot at Jon Stewart

I like Tucker Carlson, he's witty and funny. I was disappointed back in 2004 when Jon Stewart went berserk on CNN Crossfire, and ambushed Tucker and Paul Begala. I thought it was funny, in a shocking way, but way over the top. Anyway, Tucker hasn't forgotten, and in light of the the Jim Cramer smackdown, he points out some annoying things about Stewart:

Four years later, Stewart had become, if anything, even softer. Over the course of a reverential eight-and-a-half minute interview with Barack Obama six days before the election, Stewart failed to ask a single substantive question, much less venture into policy (though, as with Kerry, he did open with, “How are you holding up?”). Instead, like the cable-news morons that he often criticizes, Stewart stuck strictly to the horserace, at one point even resorting to a sports metaphor.

And he sucked up, hard. “So much of this has been about fear of you,” Stewart empathized. “Has any of this fear stuff stuck with the electorate?”

Facing puffballs like this, Obama coasted through with snippets from his stump speech. The result wasn’t simply uninformative, it was boring. Obama didn’t say a single interesting thing, and Stewart wasn’t funny.

If you didn’t actually see the show, you wouldn’t know any of this, since there is a virtual ban on critical stories about Jon Stewart in the press. Nobody in memory has received a longer free ride....


His studio audience loved it, though that isn’t saying much. Stewart’s audience would erupt if he read the phone book, or did his monologue in German, a response that over time is a threat to any man’s soul. During many segments, Stewart’s audience doesn’t laugh so much as cheer, a distinction that would bother most comedians. Stewart keeps them around anyway. Uncritical praise corrupts absolutely.

As Stewart becomes more self-righteous, he inevitably becomes less funny. Sanctimony is the death of humor, and also of innovation. Where a show like South Park challenges its audience’s every conceivable assumption, The Daily Show has become safer than Jay Leno, pandering night after night to the converted. Can you remember the last time Stewart said anything his viewers might disagree with?

Red Greens

Here is the wonderful, hard hitting, keynote address by Lord Monckton at the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change. To him, to be anti-global warming hysteria is not just an exercise in skepticism, it will help save lives against many ill-conceived projects. Here are some highlights. (Entire speech here.)

Where are they all today, those bed-wetting moaning Minnies of the Apocalyptic Traffic-Light Tendency--those Greens too yellow to admit they’re really Reds?

The main message of this conference to the bed-wetters is this. Stop telling lies. You are fooling fewer and fewer of us. However many lies are uttered, the scientific truth remains unalterable.

The Forces of Darkness, with their “global warming” chimera, came perilously close to ending the Age of Enlightenment and Reason. They almost ushered in a new Dark Age. Yet they have failed. Why? They have failed because you, here, have had the courage to face them down, to confront their falsehoods, and to nail their lies.


In one recent survey, “global warming” came at the very bottom of a list of political and environmental concerns, immediately behind the need to clean up dog-poop on the streets. Why? Because dog-poop is a real environmental problem. “Global warming” is not. The correct policy response to the non-problem of climate change is to have the courage to do nothing.

We, the people, are no longer afraid of “global warming.” We are fed up to the back teeth of hearing about it. We are bored by it. And the bed-wetters know it. Their ever-more-outlandish predictions are a measure of their blind panic. The Dr. Strangelove of NASA, in the latest of a series of ever-more-desperate attempts to flog the dead horse of climatic apocalypse, recently wrote that sea level is about to rise by 246 feet, “und anyvun zat disagrees viz me vill be arrested und put on trial for high crimes against humanidy und nature.”


Now the very same soi-disant “Greens” are killing millions by starvation in a dozen of the world’s poorest regions. Their biofuel scam, a nasty by-product of their shoddy, senseless, failed, falsified, fraudulent “global warming” bugaboo, has turned millions of acres of agricultural land from growing food for humans to growing fuel for automobiles. If we let them, they will carelessly kill tens of millions more by pursuing Osamabamarama’s stated ambition of shutting down nine-tenths of the economies of the West and flinging us back to the Stone Age without even the right to light fires in our caves.

The prosperity of the West is not only our sustenance. It is also the very lifeblood of the struggling nations of the Third World. If our economies fail, we are inconvenienced, but they die.

Volcano Slide Show

MSNBC has a slide show of the eight most dangerous volcanos in the world. Pictured left is the spectacular Mount Rainier in Washington state. At 14,411 ft., it is more than twice the height of Whistler Mountain.

Judge Rules in Favour of Green Kook in UK Court

I had to read this report in the Independent twice to fully understand it. A man sued a company that made him redundant, on the grounds that they punished him for his environmental beliefs. And they didn't laugh him out of court:

An executive sacked from a giant property company can claim he was unfairly dismissed because of his "philosophical belief in climate change", a judge ruled yesterday.

In the first case of its kind, employment judge David Sneath said Tim Nicholson, a former environmental policy officer, could invoke employment law for protection from discrimination against him for his conviction that climate change was the world's most important environmental problem.

That conviction amounted to a philosophical belief under the Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations, 2003, the judge ruled on a point of law at a pre-hearing review of an employment tribunal in London.


Grainger had sought to have Mr Nicholson's attempt to use the Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations struck out. Counsel for the company, Harry Trory, contended at length that Mr Nicholson's views on climate change and the environment were based on fact and science, and did not constitute a philosophical belief. But the judge found in favour of Mr Nicholson. "In my judgment, his belief goes beyond a mere opinion, he said,

Mr Nicholson told the hearing that his green beliefs affected how he lived his life, "including my choice of home, how I travel, what I buy, what I eat and drink, what I do with my waste and my hopes and my fears".

So, if I understand this correctly, the judge ruled that his environmental beliefs were a form of religion, and therefore he was discriminated against for his beliefs? Note the company argued that his beliefs were based on science, but the judge over-ruled that assertion.

What an absurd precedent! It sounds like a make work project for the employment judge. Either that or he's been smoking crack.

Model the CBC After NPR

Jeffery Dvorkin in the Globe and Mail has a proposal for CBC, that makes the most sense. (read)
U.S. public broadcasting still receives some congressional funding, but at a much lower rate than the CBC gets. U.S. federal funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting averages less than 11 per cent of a public radio station's operating budget and just 30 per cent for television stations. More than half of the money comes from listeners and viewers, and the rest from donations from foundations and philanthropic organizations.

NPR listeners feel they have a direct stake in the operation precisely because their donations are so important. They are active participants and engaged in how the stations should run and what should be on the air.

The power of U.S. public broadcasting is based in its local context and connection to their communities. Canadians may mock the pledge drives, but they are an accurate, effective and vital contact between the stations and the communities that support them. A few years ago, NPR, working with member stations, decided that the pledge drives needed to be more like the most interesting programs. Redesigned and reinvigorated, the drives have become "must-listen" parts of the public radio offering.

Absolutely. In my opinion, NPR's product is far superior to CBC. I do 99% of my radio listening from online podcasts. I can't find anything on the CBC website, whereas NPR have a variety sites and plenty of programs, with interesting guests.

Let them do pledge drives. If people like the product, they will survive.

US Fed Plays Three Card Monty

When I read reports like this, I think it's meaningless. Fed launches bold $1.2T effort to revive economy

WASHINGTON – With the country sinking deeper into recession, the Federal Reserve launched a bold $1.2 trillion effort Wednesday to lower rates on mortgages and other consumer debt, spur spending and revive the economy.

To do so, the Fed will spend up to $300 billion to buy long-term government bonds and an additional $750 billion in mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues wrapped a two-day meeting by leaving a key short-term bank lending rate at a record low of between zero and 0.25 percent. Economists predict the Fed will hold the rate in that zone for the rest of this year and for most — if not all — of next year.

The decision to hold rates near zero was widely expected. But the Fed's plan to buy government bonds and the sheer amount — $1.2 trillion — of the extra money to be pumped into the U.S. economy was a surprise.

Borrowing money to buy their own debt? Are they ever going to do any real measures to reduce debt? With the spending outlook in the next few years it'll be too late by the time they do.

You'll hear more of these phony book polishing solutions as time goes on.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

50 Days In, People Noticing Obama Hasn't Saved the World

You know that expectations were far too high for Obama coming into the presidency. He hadn't done anything yet, and people were hailing him as the new FDR. So far, things haven't been going so well, and the glow is starting to recede. Here's an op-ed from the Daily Telegraph. Perhaps he can't fix it...
Instead he has been trying, on a broad front, to fulfil the reformist ideal that informed his election campaign. Rather like a would-be government in Britain that talked of “sharing the proceeds of growth”, the candidate who wanted to redistribute wealth now, as President, has no wealth to redistribute. A $3.6 trillion budget showed little sign of addressing the problem of stimulating demand. Both big corporations and small businesses feel overtaxed, their competitiveness hampered, and incapable of creating jobs at a time when they are desperately needed. Mr Obama’s green agenda, which was also a significant part of his election promises, entailed higher taxation that will retard the economy just when it needs to grow. His greatest ambition – of starting a national health service – seems impossible in the present climate. As he seeks to move forward on this broad front Warren Buffett himself has attacked him, saying that his first three priorities should all be the economy. Paralysed by inexperience and a Blairish desire to be liked, and hampered by inadequate senior staff, he is now finding that even some of his own party in Congress feel he has gone too far in the socialist experiment. Mrs Pelosi admitted at the weekend that a second stimulus package – which leftist Democrats are calling for, to the horror of much of the rest of America – was not yet on the cards.

As somebody right of centre, Obama was never my champion. However, I was willing to give him a shot. When he had his faux State of the Union speech a few weeks ago, I was not impressed that he droned on about green technology and health care. I predicted the markets would tank, and they went on a long losing streak.

To quote the old Clinton slogan: It's the economy stupid! The honeymoon is over.

Solutions to the Women Shortage in China

The Economist reports that gangs are kidnapping Vietnamese women and smuggling them into China to be brides:
The kidnapping has been going on for some time, and locals talk of a number of cases so far this year. The abductions follow a pattern: a Hmong girl is wooed by an out-of-towner—whether from Vietnam or China is not clear—who speaks her language. She is lured to a rendezvous to be drugged and smuggled into China, probably near Lao Cai, about an hour’s drive from Sapa. Tall, pretty girls are said to be particular targets.

One 18-year-old recently managed to get back home to tell her tale after a four-day ordeal. Held captive in China, she escaped through a window and contacted the Chinese police, who returned her to Vietnam. Most do not escape. One of those kidnapped last month was a married woman with a son; friends fear her family may never see her again.

The most ambitious and possibly the most disastrous social engineering policy in the history of humanity was China's "One Child" policy. Because of the preference for male children there is now a shortage of women. There is a reason that nature divides us 50-50 between men and women. Tinkering with that balance is going to cause more and more problems.

Future Bailout: General Electric?

Several years ago, my wife worked for an executive who was so enamored with Jack Welch, star ex-CEO of General Electric, he bought everybody a hardback copy of his autobiography Jack, Straight Talk from the Gut. I managed to read about half way through but it didn't contain any real information and had a distasteful amount of self-praise.

I don't like braggarts, yet you couldn't argue with the growth and stock price during his reign at GE. However, he was obviously planting the seeds of failure, by getting away from the core product and building it's lending arm GE Capital. As Michael Brush reports in MSN Money today, it's the finance arm that's dragging down the company.
Here's a simple comparison that shows how far General Electric has strayed into lending from its core businesses: In the late 1980s, its financial division, called GE Capital, accounted for about 20% of overall earnings. By 2007 that had grown to 55%.

GE didn't make the transition by lending more money to customers buying wind turbines or medical imaging equipment.

Its lending division now has $660 billion in assets that include loans to developers of shopping malls and office space, subprime loans to United Kingdom homebuyers, credit cards loans, and loans to businesses and consumers in emerging market countries such as Poland, Turkey and the Baltic states.

As the economy worsens and unemployment rises, more of these loans are bound to go bad. This could be a big challenge for General Electric because it is company with a huge chunk of assets -- that $660 billion loan book.

The company is in trouble? Well, we all know what that means....
Credit rating agency Standard and Poor's last week downgraded GE one notch, to AA+, and described the company's outlook as "stable" but said the outlook could be lowered if cash flow drops enough. S&P says that could happen if sales revenue falls more than 5% this year, which is not too far-fetched. GE already predicts this year's revenue will be flat to down 5%.

Ultimately, investors may have to count on Uncle Sam to save GE. "They have a lot of debt coming due in the next couple of years," says Jenkins, of Evolution Securities. "The only way they can fund themselves is with government support. They will be on the same life support system as most of the other financial institutions."

It's amazing that they could take one of the most successful companies in the world and pretty much ruin it, for the sake of getting better returns for a decade. They moved away from the stuff they knew how to do, to becoming a bank and disaster resulted. And Joe Taxpayer will have to bail them out.

If anything good comes out of this, it's not much, but people will have to stop worshipping Jack Welch and other slick CEO's who went after the fast buck.

UPDATE: Some excellent points in the comments:

Funny you mention this. In Robert Prechter’s book, Conquer The Crash, he describes GE as a reflection of the USA. GE used to make their profit from production. GE made things that lasted a generation. GE turned itself into a bank, and started making profits from finance.

GM is the same story. They lose money on car production but make money (until recently) through GMAC on finance.

The US government borrows money from Asia, so people can buy things made in China. This is a financial scheme.

Tijuana: No More Cheap Spring Break Trips

I continue to be shocked by these reports about the Drug Wars in Mexico. Here's a report of the bleak situation in Tijuana from the Independent.
"In the past, the gangs had rules," says Victor Clark Alfaro, a local human rights lawyer. "They respected families. They didn't kill children. But those rules have changed. Now they don't respect anything. They'll kill anybody, and decapitate them, or cut the body, to send a message to society."

The breakdown in law and order stems from the 1980s and 1990s, when the US launched a crackdown on Colombian drug cartels, allowing Mexican syndicates to emerge in their place. Soon these groups controlled almost nine-tenths of America's entire supply of cocaine from South America. For many years, Mexico's cartels were largely left to get on with business, on the basis that they killed only their own kind. But the arrival of multi-party democracy to in 2000 – for 70 years, Mexico had been a one-party state – led to government crackdowns on their trade. These had some success. The Arellano Felix cartel, which for years controlled a north-west portion of the country, has lost most of its leaders, including, most recently, Eduardo Arellano Felix, one of the seven brothers who founded the organisation. He was captured in October, after a shootout at a house overlooking the city, which last week was still derelict, and riddled in bullet holes.

Unfortunately, when you arrest one drug baron, you do not kill off the trade. Instead, you create a vacancy, and a turf war. Most of the recent violence across Mexico, and in Tijuana in particular, has involved remnants of the Arellano Felix cartel battling rivals from the so-called Sinaloa syndicate, and Gulf Cartel, both keen to move in on the patch.

How long will the Drug War last before we realize that the cost is too high to continue fighting? They've ruined Colombia, and now they've ruined Mexico. It makes me sick reading this. As long as there is money to be made by smuggling illegal drugs, there is always going to be gangs and killings. Law and order breaks down, not the other way around.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Filthy Macnasty's

The best of St. Paddy's continues with the Pogues ultimate drinking song: Streams of Whiskey. The pub shown in this video is Filthy Macnasty's, Pogues' singer/song writer Shane MacGowan's favorite watering hole. We made a pilgrimage there when I was in London. It's in a slightly dodgy area off Kings Cross tube station. Nothing much to the pub but they had a bunch of Shane's gold records framed on the wall. They pour a nice Guinness there and were friendly.

Political Correctness Causing Harm

Here's a shocking and heartbreaking story from the Times of London. How girls and women are subject to abuse, even honor killings in some Muslim communities, in western countries like Britain. My imam father came after me with an axe

Hannah’s description in the book of the moment when her “community” discovered the “safe” home where she had fled after becoming an apostate is terrifying. A mob with her father at its head pounded and hammered at the door as she cowered upstairs hoping she could not be seen or heard. She heard her father shout through the letter box: “Filthy traitor! Betrayer of your faith! Cursed traitor! We’re going to rip your throat out! We’ll burn you alive!”

Does she still believe they would have killed her? “Yes, without a doubt. They had hammers and knives and axes.”

Why didn’t you call the police after-wards? “First, I didn’t think the police would believe me. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen in this country – or that’s what they’d think. Second, I didn’t believe I would get help or protection from the authorities.”

Hannah had good reason for this doubt. When, at school, she had finally summoned the courage to tell a teacher that her father had been beating her (she couldn’t bring herself to reveal the sexual abuse), the social services sent out a social worker from her own community. He chose not to believe Hannah and, in effect, shopped her to her father, who gave her the most brutal beating of her life. When she later confronted the social worker, he said: “It’s not right to betray your community.”

Hannah blames what is sometimes called political correctness for this debacle: “My teachers had thought they were doing the right thing, they thought it showed ‘cultural sensitivity’ by bringing in someone from my own community to ‘help’, but it was the worst thing they could have done to me. This happens a lot.

You get so many examples of this. When they were considering Sharia courts in Ontario, it was Muslim women who were the main opponents to it. The bumbling politically correct white guys are so afraid to offend somebody, they can't even admit that women get treated unfairly under the Sharia.

Quote of the Day

"Irish Alzheimer's: you forget everything except the grudges”

- Judy Collins

Best of St. Paddy's

Ok, you're reading this in the morning and the beer isn't flowing yet, but it will be later. Here's the greatest Irish band, to get you in the mood.

Iggy the Bad Faith Opposition Leader

The Liberals are having a policy meeting in May, but they don't want to share their ideas:

The federal Liberals will hold a major policy convention in early May, but they are refusing to discuss policy ideas and say they are avoiding making any policy suggestions that the governing Conservatives can copy in the next election.

They say they are keeping their still-developing campaign platform top secret in order to keep the focus squarely on the government amidst the rapidly deteriorating economy.

"What your policies are going to be in an election are announced just before you go into it. You don't want to provide an opportunity for target practice in the meantime," said Liberal Senator David Smith, one of four national campaign co-chairs charged with preparing the party for the next election.

This is an incredible position with a minority government in power. 'Sorry, we're not going to tell you what we think, as the Loyal Opposition.' This is obviously an Iggy strategy. When he took over the Liberals, he was asked what his advice/input would be for the Conservative budget, and he answered that it wasn't his budget. Even though, it wouldn't have passed without his party's vote. I'm not so sure this is a good strategy for voters looking for alternatives.

Isn't the whole point of the Loyal Opposition to contribute to the debate? For the good of the country isn't this appalling bad faith, to hold your cards until an election? 'Oh we realize it's an economic crisis, we have a solution out of it, but we're not going to tell you until the time is right for us.' Shouldn't somebody remind Iggy and the Liberals that the interests of the country are more important than political partisanship?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bring #6 to New York

Jay Cutler is begging to get out of Denver. I propose a straight up trade with the New York Giants: Eli Manning for Cutler. I can't take another 8-10 years with Eli.

OMG! Fox News Evangelical Cultism!

I don't watch the Glen Beck show, but get a load of what is going on there with this youtube. Who says the right in the US aren't aren't influenced by Evangelical weirdos?


This is why, even though I lean right of centre in the political spectrum, cannot go near people like this. I think Rush Limbaugh and his dittohead followers are not far off from this. Essentially, it's a mass of people who want to be preached to, and have something to belong to. Jim Jones knew this impulse.

I'd love to hear what they have to say about this at Small Dead Animals. What's that? crick, crick, crick....

via: David Frum at New Majority

Trash the Ceeb

Lorne Gunter gets on a roll in this column for the National Post. Tear it all down
Would you favour hundreds of millions of your hard-earned dollars going to subsidize Crossroads Television System (CTS), the Christian service with stations in Ontario and Alberta? Or how about al-Jazeera, the English-language Arab station that now has a place in Canada's channel line-up? Neither is anymore overtly biased than the CBC is to the advancement and defence of its causes. So where is the justification in denying those stations subsidies while lavishing nearly one-third of Ottawa's cultural budget on a service that captures less than 8% of Canadian television viewers and just about the same number of radio listeners?

But that is looking at the question from the wrong end. Rather, I should have asked the following: If the proselytizing on CTS and al-Jazeera TV can survive without largesse from the public treasury, why shouldn't the CBC have to do the same?


For a long time the CBC has justified its huge annual federal gift because it sees itself as the vehicle through which Canadians tell one another their stories. If this pompous self-image were ever true (and I'm doubtful), it cannot possibly be true now with only one in 12 Canadians actually watching.

CBC TV no longer carries the two most distinctly Canadian sports events of the year -- the Grey Cup and the Brier -- and the world has not ended, the country's identity has not eroded. Its hockey coverage, arts programming and original drama and comedy could all be picked up by cable and digital services and no one would notice.

There is simply no way to argue that it is worth $1-billion to all Canadians to keep the CBC alive. The few people who like its programming may insist it is worth it, but why should their preferences be kept afloat by taxing the 11 of 12 Canadians whose viewing and listening habits aren't being subsidized?

As President Obabma said: "A crisis can be a great opportunity." Here's definately the case. With country in severe economic decline it makes less and less sense for average people to support the massive subsidies to the CBC.

Wouldn't it be nice to see subsidy bums like Jian Gameshi, Rick Mercer and George Stroumboulopoulos be forced to get real jobs?