Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saudi Court: Eight-Year Old Girl Cannot Divorce Until Puberty

Well, sure. We wouldn't want her making any life-changing decisions until she comes of age.

Sky News:

The youngster was married off by her father in exchange for a £4,000 dowry.

Relatives of the girl said the groom had agreed not to consummate the marriage for 10 years and to allow the youngster to live with her mother.

The girl's mother, who is separated from her husband, had filed a petition for divorce with a court in Unayzah, 135 miles north of Riyadh.

But the court ruled that the girl must file the case herself when she reaches puberty, it was reported.

"The judge has dismissed the plea because she does not have the right to file such a case, and ordered that the plea should be filed by the girl herself when she reaches puberty," lawyer Abdullah Jtili told the AFP news agency.

The marriage contract was signed by the father and the groom.

It is understood the father had debt problems and wanted to secure an advance dowry.

Arranged marriages involving pre-adolescents are occasionally reported in the Arabian Peninsula, including in Saudi Arabia where the strict conservative Wahabi version of Sunni Islam holds sway and polygamy is common.

A girl aged eight was granted a divorce in Yemen in April after her unemployed father forced her to marry a man of 28.

H/t Allah

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The Most Corrupt Political City In America But The Media Had Better Things To Investigate

How intimately was Obama involved in Blagojevich's 2002 campaign? Apparently, nobody in the media knows. But ask them about the personal details of Joe the friggin' Plumber's life and they could write you a goddamned thesis. Fair and balanced coverage, my friends.

Choice moments:

"We don't know. We have to wait until Obama tells us!"

"The media failed to investigate the background of a candidate who had only been in national politics for one year before he decided to run for president of the United States and he was born from the most corrupt political city in America. Do we not think that warranted an investigation?"

H/t Kate

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The One Minute Case For Individual Rights

I recently came across an interesting blog entitled "The One Minute Case". The following post from this site, I think, quite helpfully capsulizes the moral case for individual rights. It should help re-affirm the philosophy behind the rights of man for those who have studied the subject and, for those who haven't, perhaps it will help unpack the concept and set forth the metaphysical propositions upon which it rests.

"The One Minute Case For Individual Rights"

Man Is The Rational Animal:

Like all living beings, man requires certain values to survive, but he is unique in that he must choose the values necessary for his life because he has no automatic means of doing so. It is his ability to experience the world around him and comprehend it by the use of reason that gives him the capacity to understand the values his life requires, and then achieve them. Every value we enjoy in our civilized, comfortable, existence is the product of the application of man’s mind to reality.

There Is No "Collective Mind":

All creative effort, every invention in history, was created by the mental effort of individual men and women. When they worked together, their knowledge was increased by the work of predecessors, but each advance they made was their own. The mind cannot be received, shared, or borrowed.

Man Requires Freedom To Live:

To live, man must achieve the values necessary to sustain his live. To achieve his values, man must be free to think and to act on his judgment. Restrictions on freedom force man to focus not on the absolutes of reality, but on the arbitrary ideas of others. In a free society, a man can choose to not associate with those who do not respect his judgment – by finding a new job, new friends, or a new lover. Even if there is no one to share his ideas, every man is still free to present his own vision – by publishing his ideas or becoming an entrepreneur. However, as soon as he faces the threat of physical force, the possibility of any such alternatives becomes irrelevant. The initiation of force renders the mind useless as a means of survival.

Freedom Requires Rights:

Rights are moral principles defining man’s freedom of action in society. The purpose of establishing individual rights is to protect man from man – to define the basic conditions necessary for social existence. All rights derive from a man’s right to his own life, including the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Whether it is by a theft, force, fraud, or government coercion, man’s rights can be violated only by the initiation of force.

Rights Are Inalienable & Non-Conflicting:

Rights are not guarantees to things or obligations placed on others, but only guarantees to freedom from violence (the right to life), freedom of action (the right to liberty), and the results of those actions (the right to property). In a free society, men deal with one another exclusively by trade, voluntarily exchanging value for value to their mutual benefit. The only obligations one’s rights impose on other men is to respect the same and equal rights of others – the freedom to be left alone. A man may have his rights violated by a criminal or a government, but morally he remains, in the right, and the criminal in the wrong.

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Harper Announces Auto Bailout, Sheds A Single Tear For Lost Principles

Gasp. Can it be? Are the rumours true? Has Prime Minister Stephen Harper betrayed his free market convictions for simple political expediency?


Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty have announced a $4-billion aid package for Canada's struggling auto industry.

Shock. Betrayal. Surprise. I feel ... none of these emotions. Harper has made his willingness to cater to whomever demands it of him perfectly clear so long as it prolongs his time in power.

For one, I disagree unreservedly with the popular wisdom that a man must either be principled or practical, the point being that the two spheres are mutually exclusive. In my mind, there is nobody more practical than the person who acts on principle. Evidently, Mr. Harper begs to differ.

I've made my thoughts regarding the auto industry bailout rather clear so I won't beat a dead horse in this post. I will, however, recruit Publius to summarize the bailout decision as well as my own opinion on the matter to provide a little bit of closure:

This is, we belabour the point because it is not made enough, the economic equivalent of putting four billion dollars on a huge raft, lighting it on fire and then letting it drift to the middle of Lake Ontario to sink.

So for now, the Canadian auto industry will avoid bankruptcy. Financial bankruptcy, that is. They've been bankrupt of integrity for years.

ALSO: The cold hard facts about auto profits and sales (or lack thereof) in the United States. Again, linked by Publius.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why Conservatives Must Abandon Anti-Intellectualism & Reclaim The Realm Of The Mind

On one level, I can appreciate why so many North American conservatives have chosen to turn up their noses at academics. Having spent the majority of my adult life dealing with the so-called 'intelligentsia,' I can confirm that they are, to generalize, an impossible group of garrulous and anorchid weasels. The few scholars who are able to scramble out of the pit of evil that is modern day pragmatism do so only to embrace some trendy political philosophy, typically Kantian or some idealistic derivative thereof, that is so entirely divorced from reality that one is left to wonder whether they can still be said to live on earth.

That said, it would be unwise for the right to abandon the realm of philosophy in protest. As a post at The New Clarion points out, just look at the influence one blue-collar man who has read Austrian economics had on the American election:

Just think: one plumber who has read Mises rocked the Obama campaign for days. If one educated American can have such an effect, imagine what would happen if just 5% of Americans read good economics and good philosophy. The welfare state would be seriously challenged. It might even be over.

The author's point is well taken. If 1.65 million (or approximately 5%) of Canadian citizens had read any decent economics or philosophy before the last Canadian election or even during the coalition crisis, is there any chance whatever that the Conservatives could have failed to secure a significantly stronger mandate?

I wrote in a recent post that I couldn't understand why Keynesianism has remained so popular in Canada despite its thorough refutation and the existence of profoundly more rational alternative economic models. After giving it some thought, however, I have concluded that at least some portion of the blame must be laid at the feet of those individuals who choose to base their opinions on floating abstractions and refuse to ground themselves in reality. That criticism is meant for both the left and the right. In fact, perhaps it should apply most to the alleged defenders of capitalism, particularly those currently involved with the US Republican Party, whose arguments in favour of laissez faire economics consists largely of religious hokum and half-understood snatches of Adam Smith.

The solution to our problem is to promote the pursuit of philosophy, not to abandon academia to our enemies. The solution is to reclaim the realm of the mind from the pragmatists, postmodernists, and idealists, not to allow them victory by default. As a commenter at The New Clarion puts it, all you have to do to save the world is think.

H/t Thrutch

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Reducing The Burden Of Government

The following is an excellent Center For Freedom & Prosperity video hosted by Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute. Mitchell lucidly explains the theoretical and practical failures of the Keynesian economic model and helpfully delineates some of its greatest negative consequences in the American context, with special reference to the Great Depression and the results of the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations' commitment to statism.

As Mitchell says at the end of the video, your guess is as good as mine as to why Keynesian economics has remained so popular. What's worse, it's no longer merely the crusading socialists who embrace its assumptions and methods. Witness the massive growth in government size in recent years in the United States under an allegedly conservative administration.

Perhaps by continuing to expose the fallacies of Keynesian economics we will succeed in weaning North Americans off their diet of statism and help them develop an appetite for freedom.


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Friday, December 19, 2008

Weekly Round-Up Of Tips & Links

Since the tips and links are beginning to roll in at a decent speed, my Firefox browser has started to look a touch cluttered with the extra tabs I've been forced to keep open. To remedy this situation, I thought I would begin to unload my favourite articles, videos, and miscellaneous items of interest in the form of a weekly round-up post.

Keep the tips coming ( and my apologies if I don't always respond right away.

This week in the world:

Tips For Clueless People Who Get Mugged: A frustrated cop explains to brain dead New Yorkers what to do if they get robbed (Linked at Noodle Food)

Stephen Harper CBC & CTV Interviews (H/t Daryl Wolk)

Fuck You, Penguin. A blog where a man tells cute animals what's what. Probably safe for work but the language tends towards the crude (H/t Susan)

Nature Gets Legal Rights In Ecuador: You have to read this to believe it (Again, linked by Diana at Noodle Food)

Cooling On Global Warming: Europe gets real while US turns up heat on global warming talks.

Video: Abdul The Reluctant Martyr (from Allah at Hot Air)

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Let Them Fail: Auto Industry Bailout Would Reward Irrational Business Behaviour

It has recently been calculated by the Center for Spatial Economics that the failure of the auto industry would immediately result in the loss of 323,000 jobs in Canada. This would be particularly disastrous for the already-devastated Ontario economy since approximately 87% percent of the job loss would occur in that highly industrial province. As a result, Ontario Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant has stated publicly that it would be irresponsible for the government to allow such a collapse to occur and so, joining a chorus of voices all across the North American continent, Bryant called for a bailout of the auto industry.

But is a bailout the truly responsible decision for the government to make? Would it serve the interests of the Canadian people and save the economy from the brunt of what promises to be a terrible recession in the long run? The answer is absolutely 'no'.

Canadians are being fed the tired bromide that the fluctuations of the free market are to blame for the current financial crisis and that governmental manipulations of the economy are how we are to best achieve the economic stability and security that we seek. This notion could not be further from the truth. The auto industry is failing because it has been chained by government restrictions for decades and, furthermore, because it has pursued and continues to pursue highly irrational business policies. Rather than being punished for their errors, which would occur naturally in a free market that would force them to adapt or else fail, state representatives are declaring that these businesses are simply 'too big to fail' and that more government involvement is the solution to a problem caused by too much freedom. These businesses cannot be allowed to fail, they say.

But, as Amit Ghate writes, the failure of businesses is not merely a normal occurrence in a capitalist economy, but a crucial phenomenon for the emergence of the highest quality ideas and products. Technological advancements have driven numerous industries completely out of business - Ghate offers typewriters as a relevant example - and these advancements, and the resulting industry failures, are healthy in a free economic system. So why are we hearing so much noise about the necessity of saving the auto industry?

The Big Three are failing because investors have no interest in risking their money on poorly run companies that are already forced to work within the confines of unacceptable governmental restrictions. These restrictions include labour laws that have required companies to submit to short-sighted and financially calamitous union demands as well as fuel economy laws requiring companies to produce small vehicles at extraordinary costs that have no chance of turning a significant profit. A popular mechanics article explains the real cost of these laws:

"It takes money to build more fuel-efficient cars and trucks—lots of it. Want a diesel engine? That’s a $3000-$5000 premium per vehicle. Tack on at least another $5000 for hybrid technology. Plus, new cars and trucks have to meet stringent safety standards, and that adds weight, which in turn lowers fuel economy. Try asking a consumer to forgo the leather interior and rear-seat DVD player in their minivan to save weight. I don’t think so. Not that consumers want pokey cars and trucks anyway: No, Americans like vehicles with good passing power and low-end torque. So automakers struggle to meet all these needs, and it’s still expensive."

Rather than campaign against these governmental intrusions, however, the auto industry has turned to their powerful lobby to attempt to coerce money from taxpayers who weren't willing to give it to them voluntarily. Rather than fighting against the real cause of their trouble, these companies have accepted even greater state involvement as the solution to their current state of crisis. Unsurprisingly, we've seen the entirely predictable consequence of this decision in the United States where the price of the auto industry bailout has been a commitment to produce more small cars that meet high fuel efficiency standards, thus guaranteeing the recurrence of the exact same problems the industry is currently facing. The auto industry is guilty of a complete evasion of the realities of their business. And we believe that this is behaviour worth rewarding?

The loss of Canadian jobs is a terrible thing. However, this wrong will not be righted by prescribing as the solution that which has been the main contributing factor to its current state of crisis. Consequently, the only rational course of action is clear: let them fail. When the government runs the auto industry, the auto industry fails. Let these companies go under and hopefully from their ashes will rise rational profit-seeking businessmen and women who will be able to produce stable long-term jobs for the people of Ontario. The bailout alternative is simply too self-destructive to accept as a viable option.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chilling Question Of The Day: Is China More Capitalist Than The US?


While China improves its business climate by lowering the burden of state confiscation, the US plans to increase it, and in some cases by a significant amount. Meanwhile, the House last night voted 237-170 to sink $15 billion into the American auto industry, with government officially owning part of three private auto makers in order to dictate to management how to run their businesses. Management welcomed the move, and in fact wanted Congress to buy an even bigger stake in these companies.


When one looks to Beijing for rational tax policies … well, that’s just a sad day for Americans, even if it does portend a brighter future for China.

I recall a day when 'grace under fire' was considered a supreme virtue in business and inviting government into the management of your company an unthinkable ignominy. The American response to the current financial crisis, and particularly the clambering of the corporate community for government handouts, suggests just how far America has strayed from this vision of honourable conduct in business. Is China actually more capitalist than America? Of course not. But when the question can be asked without the intention of provoking laughter, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Separists Want To Run Our Country, Socialists Want To Run Our Economy ....

... And it all comes down to an unelected Governor General whose claim to fame involves work on public television.

Jonathan Kay:

Since so much of what happens depends on the whim of the Governor-General, our nation's intellectuals have engrossed themselves in history books, arguing about whether Michaelle Jean should properly be guided by this or that ancient precedent from our dimly remembered past. To make sense of it all, one needs to become an expert on the Boer-era minority government of Sir Whatshisname, who fell after being undercut by Lord Dustywig. Will the G-G find that precedent persuasive, we all wonder? Or will she go further back in time, to the great British confrontation between the Whigs and the Whags? And what role will the involvement of separatists play in her thinking -- a scenario that requires recourse to the ancient councils of the Orkneys? Would she accept Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament? If not, why? Dear lord, why?

Just more fuel for the republican fire.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

The More Right You Are, The Harder The Idiots Will Laugh At You

Peter Schiff understood the American economy. He predicted the burst of the real estate bubble almost two years before it happened. He extended his prediction to include credit when everybody was calling it a "minor blip" for the economy. And while he was warning America, America was laughing at him.

A little information on the man for those who don't know him:

Peter D. Schiff (born 1964) is the president of Euro Pacific Capital Inc., a brokerage firm based in Darien, Connecticut. Schiff adheres to the principles of the Austrian School of Economics and the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Schiff frequently appears as a guest on CNBC, Fox News, and Bloomberg Television and is quoted in major financial publications.

Schiff points to the low savings rates of the United States as its worst malady, citing the transformation from being the world's largest creditor nation in the '70s to the largest debtor nation at the turn of 2000. His extremely bearish views on the U.S. Dollar, the United States stock market, bond market, and the United States economy have earned him the nickname "Dr. Doom."

H/t Paul Hsieh

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How To Solve A Problem Like A Liberal

Hope and change, change and hope. Hugh Laurie helps us out by putting some meat on those bones. All we have to do to solve the world's problems is:

H/t Noodle Food

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

*Wink, Wink*: Gerard Kennedy Unsure About Entering Liberal Leadership Race

In a recent letter to his supporters, Gerard Kennedy expresses his paralyzing uncertainty about whether or not he should run for the Liberal leadership. He just isn't sure, you see, since all he really cares about is party unity. I mean, don't get him wrong, he'd be willing to take one for the team and run if that's what everybody wants. After all, as he is quick to remind everybody in an early paragraph of the letter, he is the hero who stole a seat from the NDP (in an historically Liberal downtown Toronto riding) in the last election. Well, he's just going to have to mull it over.

A choice section from the letter:

I have really been moved by the dozens of emails and phone calls I've received about the leadership. My supporters have not heard a great deal from me since the convention because I felt it was critical to put all of our efforts into supporting the Leader.

Leadership is not our only challenge. It is vital to ensure that the upcoming leadership contest does not impair either party unity or our ability to function well for the Canadian public in these times of economic urgency. Only then will our party will be able to gain back the full trust of Canadians, and defeat Stephen Harper.

I believe we need to ask ourselves the following questions:

Who can connect with and speak for the middle class, particularly in smaller cities and towns across Canada and in large Western cities?

Who can make people, first Liberals and then all Canadians, believe that renewal of the party - openness, effectiveness, meaningful grassroots engagement - will actually take place?

Who can articulate a powerful vision for tomorrow's economy?

Who can position Liberals again as the party of progress – the `radical centre' that is able to define the Canadian consensus about new ways to move the country forward?

Gee. I wonder who Mr. Kennedy thinks satisfies all of those conditions. I bet he'll feel a bit more sure once his supporters - the only ones he sent the letter to - slap him on the back and remind him how great he is.

Good thing the Liberal Party isn't desperate to avoid a large, expensive, and divisive leadership race. Otherwise, he might just find himself kind of unpopular come the convention.

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Hey, Remember When Paul Martin Was Quiet For Two Years?

Boy, that was nice.

So says Martin:

"China is a superpower, as is India, and they have got to be able to play on a level playing field with the other superpowers but it's very important to us that they do it because that's what's going to make the world work.

"And it's very important for us 33 million people to be involved with these massive markets and their huge economies and we should be doing a great deal more."

Always fun to get your opinion, Paul. Could you crawl back under your rock now, please?

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Not A Joke: Obama Spent $11 PER PERSON On His Campaign

... Compared to McCain's spending of $1.49 per person.

4-Block World paints the picture for us:

There has never been a campaign in U.S. history that has spent even close to this kind of money. I guess the night was historic in more ways than one, am I right Mr. Obama?

Now, I should caution, the number $700 million may be a bit inflated. I found the number $640 million in a bunch of articles but the contrast is startling either way.

H/t Fairly Conservative

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Well, Doncha Know, McCain Aides Are Just Gunnin' For The Barracuda, By Gosh

Since the old man's November 4th election loss, McCain staffers have started speaking out against Sarah Palin, accusing her of confusion over Africa's status as a continent and leaking stories painting her as a "hillbilly". I know, I'm shocked too. It isn't as if they've been subtly suggesting that if McCain lost it would be her fault for the last two weeks.

I'm not of the opinion that Palin is responsible for McCain's electoral defeat. He ran a weak campaign and he is a weak political character (to head off McCain supporters at the pass, that is to say a weak political character - I acknowledge the danger he has faced to defend his country and the quality of character that demonstrates).

Once McCain was nominated to lead the GOP, I essentially turned off the ideological side of my brain. My views were not well represented by either candidate for the American presidency. From a strategic standpoint, however, I was excited by the Palin choice. It was surprising - and who doesn't enjoy a plot twist? - and, more importantly, it seemed consistent with the spirit of the election period: change, change, change.

Now that I've turned on the ideological side of my brain again, however, I'm finding it extremely difficult to muster up an ounce of support for the so-called Barracuda. She represents the now-dominant side of the Republican Party that I evaluate to be the least conducive to pursuing policies with an eye towards liberty. She is socially conservative across the board, she could certainly benefit from purchasing "Economics For Dummies" from her local Indigo, and she fits very comfortably within the evangelical tradition of Republicanism.

If these were the reasons the McCain aides were gunning for Palin in the wake of the Republican election loss, I wouldn't have much problem with it. Unfortunately for them, it just looks bratty. The Republicans lost the election because many conservatives aren't too thrilled about a "maverick" running their divided and enfeebled party. Can you blame them?

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Harper Won't Push Obama To Visit The Great White North First

Does anybody else smell a fresh new angle for the Canadian left?

"Oh! Harper hates Obama and won't even set aside his scary hidden agenda to have a friendly meeting with The One, our closest ally, before he goes to stupid Mexico or something. Obviously, Harper is still the enemy of Hope and Change and Christmas and Puppies. Harper still equals Bush!"

Story from CTV:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper won't be pushing his newly elected American counterpart to make Canada his first foreign stop, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Kory Teneycke says Harper doesn't have to be best friends with Barack Obama to have a strong professional relationship with the president-elect.

After all that campaign talk about revisiting NAFTA, I'm not too jazzed about the guy popping over for a visit either. I don't blame the Prime Minister for wanting to put it off as long as possible.

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Harper Free To Be Conservative Now That Obama Takes The Reigns

What will Canadian politics look like now that the "Bush card" is off the table?


Stephen Harper equals ObamaHitler, Steve Harper is acting just like his good friend Barack Obama, Stephen Harper is walking in lockstep with Barack Obama and so on.

The Canadian left are now going to have to start coming up with new ideas to mock the prime minister and fear-monger Canadians. If Barack Obama was president during our recent federal election the Conservatives would have won a majority simply because Bush Derangement Syndrome wouldn't have had any play

Now that we've shuffled the Bush card back to the bottom of the deck, will the media choose to put the Obama card into play or will they suddenly feel remorse for the harsh treatment they showed the last president and urge unity in a time of crisis and division?

The Wall Street Journal:

Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty — a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.

Whatever the case may be, I'm thinking Harper is going to have a lot more room to maneuver when it comes to pursuing a right-wing economic and foreign policy agenda.

Just ask Norman Spector.

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Shocker: California Outlaws Gay Marriage

With Arizona and Florida following suit.

A few thousand couples are waking up this morning mighty curious about whether their marriage is still valid. I guess we'll have to wait to hear from the courts for the final verdict.

I've always found it difficult to gauge just where most Canadian tories fall on the gay marriage issue. For the record, though, I'm glad I live in a country where citizens are free to do as they please. I support freedom in the economic realm when it comes to government action. For the same reasons and in the same way I support the laissez-faire approach in the social realm.

And, more importantly, how did this ever happen in a state containing Los Angeles and San Francisco? Come on, Cali, I thought you were cool.

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The Reason Obamaism Won't Last

As long as people like this exist, America will remain true to its spirit.


Mr. Obama,

Given the uproar about the simple question asked you by Joe the plumber, and the persecution that has been heaped on him because he dared to question you, I find myself motivated to say a few things to you myself. While Joe aspires to start a business someday, I already have started not one, but 4 businesses. But first, let me introduce myself. You can call me “Cory the well driller”. I am a 54 year old high school graduate. I didn’t go to college like you, I was too ready to go “conquer the world” when I finished high school. 25 years ago at age 29, I started my own water well drilling business at a time when the economy here in East Texas was in a tailspin from the crash of the early 80’s oil boom. I didn’t get any help from the government, nor did I look for any. I borrowed what I could from my sister, my uncle, and even the pawn shop and managed to scrape together a homemade drill rig and a few tools to do my first job. My businesses did not start as a result of privilege. They are the result of my personal drive, personal ambition, self discipline, self reliance, and a determination to treat my customers fairly. From the very start my business provided one other (than myself) East Texan a full time job. I couldn’t afford a backhoe the first few years (something every well drilling business had), so I and my helper had to dig the mud pits that are necessary for each and every job with hand shovels. I had to use my 10 year old, 1/2 ton pickup truck for my water tank truck (normally a job for at least a 2 ton truck).

A year and a half after I started the business, I scraped together a 20% down payment to get a modest bank loan and bought a (28 year) old, worn out, slightly bigger drilling rig to allow me to drill the deeper water wells in my area. I spent the next few years drilling wells with the rig while simultaneously rebuilding it between jobs. Through these years I never knew from one month to the next if I would have any work or be able to pay the bills. I got behind on my income taxes one year, and spent the next two years paying that back (with penalty and interest) while keeping up with ongoing taxes. I got behind on my water well supply bill 2 different years (way behind the second time… $80,000.00), and spent over a year paying it back (each time) while continuing to pay for ongoing supplies C.O.D.. Of course, the personal stress endured through these experiences and years is hard to measure. I do have a stent in my heart now to memorialize it all.

I spent the next 10 years developing the reputation for being the most competent and most honest water well driller in East Texas. 2 years along the way, I hired another full time employee for the drilling business so that we could provide full time water well pump service as well as the well drilling. Also, 3 years along the path, I bought a water well screen service machine from a friend, starting business # 2. 5 years later I made a business loan for $100,000.00 to build a new, higher production, computer controlled screen service machine. I had designed the machine myself, and it didn’t work out for 3 years so I had to make the loan payments without the benefit of any added income from the new machine. No government program was there to help me with the payments, or to help me sleep at night as I lay awake wondering how I would solve my machine problems or pay my bills. Finally, after 3 years, I got the screen machine working properly, and that provided another full time job for an East Texan in the screen service business.

2 years after that, I made another business loan, this time for $250,000.00, to buy another used drilling rig and all the support equipment needed to run another, larger, drill rig. This provided another 2 full time jobs for East Texans. Again, I spent a couple of years not knowing if I had made a smart move, or a move that would bankrupt me. For the third time in 13 years, I had placed everything I owned on the line, risking everything, in order to build a business.

A couple of years into this, I came up with a bright idea for a new kind of mud pump, a fundamentally necessary pump used on water well drill rigs. I spent my entire life savings to date (just $30,000.00), building a prototype of the pump and took it to the national water well convention to show it off. Customers immediately started coming out of the woodworks to buy the pumps, but there was a problem. I had depleted my assets making the prototype, and nobody would make me a business loan to start production of the new pumps. With several deposits for pump orders in hand, and nowhere to go, I finally started applying for as many credit card as I could find and took cash withdrawals on these cards to the tune of over $150,000.00 (including modest loans from my dear sister and brother), to get this 3rd business going.

Yes, once again, I had everything hanging over the line in an effort to start another business. I had never manufactured anything, and I had to design and bring into production a complex hydraulic machine from an untested prototype to a reliable production model (in six months). How many nights I lay awake wondering if I had just made the paramount mistake of my life I cannot tell you, but there were plenty. I managed to get the pumps into production, which immediately created another 2 full time jobs in East Texas. Some of the models in the first year suffered from quality issues due to the poor workmanship of one of my key suppliers, so I and an employee (another East Texan employed) had to drive across the country to repair customers’ pumps, practically from coast to coast. I stood behind the product, and made payments to all the credit cards that had financed me (and my brother and sister). I spent the next 5 years improving and refining the product, building a reputation for the pump and the company, working to get the pump into drill rig manufacturers’ product lines, and paying back credit cards. During all this time I continued to manage a growing water well business that was now operating 3 drill rig crews, and 2 well service crews. Also, the screen service business continued to grow. No government programs were there to help me, Mr. Obama, but that’s ok, I didn’t expect any, nor did I want any. I was too busy fighting to make success happen to sit around waiting for the government to help me.

Now, after manufacturing the mud pumps for 7 years, my combined businesses employ 32 full time employees, and distribute $5,000,000.00 annually through the local economy. Now, just 4 months ago I borrowed $1,254,000.00, purchasing computer controlled machining equipment to start my 4th business, a production machine shop. The machine shop will serve the mud pump company so that we can better manufacture our pumps that are being shipped worldwide. Of course, the machine shop will also do work for outside companies as well. This has already produced 2 more full time jobs, and 2 more should develop out of it in the next few months. This should work out, but if it doesn’t it will be because you, and the other professional politicians like yourself, will have destroyed our countrys’ (and the world) economy with your meddling with mortgage loan programs through your liberal manipulation and intimidation of loaning institutions to make sure that unqualified borrowers could get mortgages. You see, at the very time when I couldn’t get a business loan to get my mud pumps into production, you were working with Acorn and the Community Reinvestment Act programs to make sure that unqualified borrowers could buy homes with no down payment, and even no credit or worse yet, bad credit. Even the infamous, liberal, Ninja loans (No Income, No Job or Assets). While these unqualified borrowers were enjoying unrealistically low interest rates, I was paying 22% to 24% interest on the credit cards that I had used to provide me the funds for the mud pump business that has created jobs for more East Texans. It’s funny, because after 25 years of turning almost every dime of extra money back into my businesses to grow them, it has been only in the last two years that I have finally made enough money to be able to put a little away for retirement, and now the value of that has dropped 40% because of the policies you and your ilk have perpetrated on our country.

You see, Mr. Obama, I’m the guy you intend to raise taxes on. I’m the guy who has spent 25 years toiling and sweating, fretting and fighting, stressing and risking, to build a business and get ahead. I’m the guy who has been on the very edge of bankruptcy more than a dozen times over the last 25 years, and all the while creating more and more jobs for East Texans who didn’t want to take a risk, and would not demand from themselves what I have demanded from myself. I’m the guy you characterize as “the Americans who can afford it the most” that you believe should be taxed more to provide income redistribution “to spread the wealth” to those who have never toiled, sweated, fretted, fought, stressed, or risked anything. You want to characterize me as someone who has enjoyed a life of privilege and who needs to pay a higher percentage of my income than those who have bought into your entitlement culture. I resent you, Mr. Obama, as I resent all who want to use class warfare as a tool to advance their political career. What’s worse, each year more Americans buy into your liberal entitlement culture, and turn to the government for their hope of a better life instead of themselves. Liberals are succeeding through more than 40 years of collaborative effort between the predominant liberal media, and liberal indoctrination programs in the public school systems across our land.

What is so terribly sad about this is this. America was made great by people who embraced the one-time American culture of self reliance, self motivation, self determination, self discipline, personal betterment, hard work, risk taking. A culture built around the concept that success was in reach on every able bodied American who would strive for it. Each year that less Americans embrace that culture, we all descend together. We descend down the socialist path that has brought country after country ultimately to bitter and unremarkable states. If you and your liberal comrades in the media and school systems would spend half as much effort cultivating a culture of can-do across America as you do cultivating your entitlement culture, we could see Americans at large embracing the conviction that they can elevate themselves through personal betterment, personal achievement, and self reliance. You see, when people embrace such ideals, they act on them. When people act on such ideals, they succeed. All of America could find herself elevating instead of deteriorating. But that would eliminate the need for liberal politicians, wouldn’t it, Mr. Obama? The country would not need you if the country was convinced that problem solving was best left with individuals instead of the government. You and all your liberal comrades have got a vested interested in creating a dependent class in our country. It is the very business of liberals to create an ever expanding dependence on government. What’s remarkable is that you, who have never produced a job in your life, are going to tax me to take more of my money and give it to people who wouldn’t need my money if they would get off their entitlement mentality asses and apply themselves at work, demand more from themselves, and quit looking to liberal politicians to raise their station in life.

You see, I know because I’ve had them work for me before. Hundreds of them over these 25 years. People who simply will not show up to work on time. People who just will not work 5 days in a week, much less, 6 days. People always looking for a way to put less effort out. People who actually tell me that they would do more if I just would first pay them more. People who take off work to sit in government offices to apply to get free government handouts (gee, I wonder how things would have turned out for them if they had spent that time earning money and pleasing their employer?). You see, all of this comes from your entitlement mentality culture.

Oh, I know you will say I am uncompassionate. Sorry, Mr. Obama, wrong again. You see, I’ve seen what the average percentage of your income has been given to charities over the years of 2000 to 2004 (ignoring the years you started running for office - can you pronounce “politically motivated”), you averaged of less than 1% annually. And your running mate, Joe Biden, averaged less than ¼% of his annual income in charitable contributions over the last 10 years. Like so many liberals, the two of you want to give to the needy, just as long as it is someone else’s money you are giving to them. I won’t say what I have given to charities over the last 25 years, but the percentage is several times more than you or Joe Biden… combined (don’t you just hate google?). Tell me again how you feel my pain.

In short, Mr. Obama, your political philosophies represent everything that is wrong with our country. You represent the culture of government dependence instead of self reliance; Entitlement mentality instead of personal achievement; Penalization of the successful to reward the unmotivated; Political correctness instead of open mindedness and open debate. If you are successful, you may preside over the final transformation of America from being the greatest and most self-reliant culture on earth, to just another country of whiners and wimps, who sit around looking to the government to solve their problems. Like all of western Europe. All countries on the decline. All countries that, because of liberal socialistic mentalities, have a little less to offer mankind every year.

God help us…

Cory Miller
just a ordinary, extraordinary American, the way most Americans used to be.

P.S. Yes, Mr. Obama, I am a real American… meet me at: ; and:


Linked at Fairly Conservative

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Message To The GOP: No More McCain, No More Huck, A Lot More Reagan Please

John McCain is a war hero. Unfortunately, that about exhausts the characteristics that I can identify in his personality which made him a "great" pick for the party's leadership. If we're being honest, he was a profoundly mediocre candidate. He made a strategically interesting veep choice (and, for the record, I highly doubt a different choice would have produced a significantly different result) but his campaign was otherwise strategically ineffective. He focused on branding himself as The Maverick rather than exploiting the ample opportunity that the economic crisis presented him with from a policy standpoint. Most importantly, he failed to court the Americans that can be counted on to win you elections: the capitalists.

The Reagan Coalition is not dead; it's just dormant. There have been some important changes to the demographics - particularly the electoral play that social conservatism on the issues of abortion and gay marriage get - but not very many. A successful Republican Party will court the voters that have been active since Barry Goldwater's glorious (albeit ill-fated) campaign in 1964. The consequences of failing to do so are clear in last night's results.

I'm skeptical, however, about the chances of the GOP succeeding in saving their party in the short term. The McCains of the party (and, according to an unfortunate interview I saw yesterday, the Pawlentys) would tack to the center on economics and foreign policy and take the pragmatist approach. On the other hand, the Huckabees of the party would drag them further along the path towards an entirely religion-dominated platform. Neither of these models reflect the Reagan Coalition as it survives today. If the Republican Party wants to rebuild itself, if it truly has an interest in winning elections again, then it will drop the evangelical 'tude, tone it back on the social issues, and remember that Republicans used to be Capitalists, and that most Americans still are.

Four years of President Obama ought to be enough to remind the United States of the consequences of allowing the culture of entitlement to have free reign. While the moochers suckle on the teat of an expanding government, entrepreneurs and businessmen and women will fail because Obama is so eager to "spread the wealth".

This election was a wake-up call for the Republicans. Free markets, free people. This is what America wants. Why not give it back to them?

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Audacity Of Hope

No, seriously.

I can't take any more of this "hope" everybody keeps rattling on about.

It is beyond my understanding how anybody could be looking at the 2008 US federal election with hopeful eyes. Please take my following statement for what's it's worth given the characters that US voters have had to choose from in the past: never has there been a less palatable set of alternatives for the American presidency then there is today.

The Rule of Reason did some leg-work to help remind us just who these candidates are.

Barack Obama

Do we vote for Barack Obama, whose anti-American, anti-military, anti-freedom, serve-your-country-until-you’re-flat-broke-and-living-in-penury-for-a-cause-higher-than-yourself solution to all problems, foreign and domestic, might mellow once he is in office and is handed on morning one the intelligence reports from the various security agencies on what our enemies (including Russia and China, not just the Islamists) are up to vis-à-vis tightening the noose around America’s neck? Or would he just grimace and think: We brought it upon ourselves.


Do we vote for Obama, whose election most assuredly would guarantee another attack on this country soon after his inauguration, just to test his professed “love” of America? Or would our enemies be ferally intelligent enough to realize that he would destroy it for them, stay their hand, and settle for ramping up their cultural jihad, knowing that Obama would applaud it in the name of multicultural diversity? It is not for nothing that the Muslim world approves of his candidacy and more or less has remained mum about his alleged apostasy.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia, of course, macho dictator that he is, would have Mr. Change that Matters for lunch, and use Senator Joe Biden as a serviette. Would Obama be a diplomatic match for the heavyweight thug of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, or Snake Eyes Ahmadinejad? It is indicative of the world’s hostility for America that every dictator, sheik and “social democrat” is hoping for an Obama presidency and the chance to stick it to this country even more, knowing that Obama would contritely claim that America deserved it, as a kind of reparations for what the U.S. has done to the world. Like save it twice at great cost in lives and treasure, and after that act as the world’s selfless policeman and “democracy” builder, also at great cost in lives and treasure.

John McCain

Do we vote for John McCain, who may or may not be better than George W. Bush in foreign policy and in adopting a semi-rational attitude toward America’s dedicated enemies, but who is “pro-American” in the same sense that Mussolini was “pro-Italian” and Hitler was “pro-German,” that is, in an un-American, nationalistic, service-to-your-country-in-a-higher-cause-than-yourself way, which implies the partial or wholesale regimentation of the American population to combat the bogeyman of the moment?


Do we vote for McCain, whose “patriotism” would compel Americans to “give back” what they were never given, and who may or may not give the rational among us half a fighting chance to spread the word of reason? Would the Ayn Rand Institute and other pro-freedom organizations be safely sidelined by his domestic policies? Would conservative talk-show hosts be any more secure against censorship or persecution than under an Obama administration? Both candidates are preeminently anti-conceptual mentalities, but this does not mean they would not be aware of the peril of freely expressed ideas or organized opposition, and search for some means to squelch, silence, punish or harass the recalcitrant.

Do we vote for McCain, whose election might stave off another attack on America, because our Islamic enemies (Ahmadinejad of Iran, the Saudis, et al.) just might possibly believe that he would bomb Iran’s nuclear power facilities, or give the Israelis the go-ahead to do it themselves (Israeli intelligence on Mideast matters being vastly more informed than the CIA’s or the NSA’s)? Would McCain’s election give the Islamists pause? Or would they strike before Cindy McCain had time to redecorate the Oval Office?

And, like with all things, The Simpsons did it first:

Please ignore the stupid commentary. Unless you're a big fan of Steve Adams. Exactly, so just ignore the commentary, mmmkay?

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Don't Tell The Terrorists But ...

... There's a huge flaw in that TSA no-fly list thing.


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wrote a letter to Labbé in 2004, saying he had been placed on their watch list after falling victim to identity theft. At the time, the department said there was no way for his name to be removed.

Although Labbé wrote letters to the U.S. department, his efforts were in vain, prompting him to legally change his name.

"So now, my official name is François Mario Labbé," he said.

"Then you have to change everything: driver's license, social insurance, medicare, credit card — everything."

Although it's not a big change from Mario Labbé, he said it's been enough to foil the U.S. customs computers.

Touché, Mr. Labbé. Touché.

H/t BoingBoing

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Texas Judge: No More Babies For You, Okay?


A judge in Travis County has ordered a woman to stop having children as a condition of her probation in her case of injury to a child by omission, an extraordinary measure that legal experts say could be unconstitutional.

The order was for Felicia Salazar, 20, who admitted to failing to provide protection and medical care to her then-19-month-old daughter last year. The girl suffered broken bones and other injuries when she was beaten by her father, Roberto Alvarado, 25, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Alvarado and Salazar relinquished their parental rights, and the child, who has recovered, was placed in foster care.

On Sept. 5, state District Judge Charlie Baird sentenced Salazar, who had no criminal history, to 10 years of probation after she reached a plea bargain with prosecutors. In Texas, judges set conditions of probation. In addition to requiring Salazar to perform 100 hours of community service and to undergo a mental health assessment and setting other typical conditions, Baird told Salazar not to have any more children.

Should this woman be having more children? Probably not. Is it morally - or even legally - acceptable for a state representative to forbid her to conceive and bear children? It's an interesting question.

There is precedent, after all:

[I]n a past Wisconsin case, a father of nine who was convicted of intentionally failing to pay child support was ordered to have no more children as a condition of probation. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin upheld that condition.

I enjoyed the Judge's reasoning that, if he had sent her to jail instead of issuing this condition, she wouldn't have been able to conceive or bear children anyway since she would have been incarcerated. Consequently, he claimed that the condition was quite reasonable.

Colour me skeptical. To begin with, this seems like a pretty unenforceable condition. Secondly, how much power should a judge have to decide how a person leads their life? If a judge decides that somebody represents an imminent danger to the public then he or she has the power to put the person in question in jail. Should a judge be able to restrict what a criminal does with his or her own body when there is no strong reason to suspect it would involve a crime?

Although it seems likely that this woman would not be a stellar parent to any child she may have in the future, my instinct is that she should not be forbidden from conceiving and bearing children simply because she may be a bad parent again. Given her history, I think it would be better to keep a close eye on her if she chooses parenthood again. Chances are, after this experience, she'll never have children again anyway.

H/t Hit & Run

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Friday, September 12, 2008

New Poll Suggests The Canadian Republic Is Prescient

Do these results look familiar to you?

The Canadian Press:

Stephen Harper may be closing in on his coveted majority despite being plagued by a series of miscues and bad news during the first week of the federal election campaign.

A new poll suggests the Conservatives have opened up a commanding 15-point lead over the Liberals, with 41 per cent of respondents supporting the governing party.

Typically, 40 per cent is sufficient to win a majority of seats in the House of Commons.

According to The Canadian Press-Harris Decima survey, the Liberals stood at 26 per cent, the NDP at 14 per cent, the Greens at nine and the Bloc Quebecois at eight.

Compare that with my predictions.

These numbers should settle down a little after the campaign gets ramped up and a few more Liberal voters defect to Jack Layton.

So far, so good.

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Dion: "Humanity" To Blame For Soaring Gas Prices


Gas prices at the pumps increased dramatically today, rising between 12 and 13 cents per litre in some parts of the country.

Mr. Dion said, however, that the pricing issue at the pumps wasn't the only reason for soaring gas prices, blaming “humanity” for asking for more and more oil.

He said his carbon tax scheme that would raise the price of carbon fuel and use that to give tax breaks to Canadian families would help to remedy part of the problem; his scheme would not raise prices at the pumps.

Surprise! These absurdly high gas prices are our own fault for daring to leave the Dark Ages. I guess it serves us right, then.

On the other hand, I'm slightly less willing to simply blame this one on "humanity." I'd say gas prices are so wildly out of whack with the law of supply and demand because North American legislatures have imposed impossibly restrictive drilling regulations on domestic oil companies, effectively leaving us at the mercy of foreign oil exporters. These are the same foreign oil companies, by the way, that were developed by Americans using American technology and were then promptly nationalized, with no repercussions for the looters whatsoever.

So, in that sense, I suppose "humanity" does shoulder some of the blame. Or, rather, certain members of humanity are guiltier than others regarding the price of gas in Canada today.

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P. Diddy Hitz You Wit Da Truth About Sarah Palin

Probably not safe for work.

But, if you get a moment, please do yourself a favour and watch this clip. It's the definition of time well wasted.

UPDATE: It gets even better.

"You have shut me the f*** up, Sarah Palin."

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Election Predictions

Sorry it's been so quiet 'round these parts lately. To get us back in the swing of things I thought I'd offer some official Canadian Republic election predictions.

What's on the line? Well, that would be the very most precious commodity of all: pride.

Popular Vote

2006 Results

Tories: 36.3%

Grits: 30.2%

NDP: 17.5%

Bloc: 10.5%

Green: 4.5%

2008 Predictions

Tories: 39%

Grits: 25%

NDP: 19%

Bloc: 9%

Green: 7%

Seats In Parliament

2006 Results

Tories: 124

Grits: 103

NDP: 29

Bloc: 51

Green: 0

2008 Predictions

Tories: 135-140

Grits: 78-85

NDP: 32-35

Bloc: 45-50

Green: 2-4

Major Changes

Although it probably won't be hugely reflected in the popular vote, the NDP should see some major gains when the dust settles. Given the number of ridings in the last federal election which saw narrow Liberal victories (e.g. Toronto, Vancouver, etc), the NDP should have very little trouble picking up a handful of new seats.

Quebec - ever the battleground province - should finally allow Harper some gains as Grit and Bloc influence wavers in key ridings. A Mulroney-esque breakthrough is highly unlikely, but the Conservatives should still forge crucial inroads beyond Quebec City which could very definitely place them in striking distance of a majority for the next election.

I know my Tory predictions are a little conservative (pardon the awful joke). I've been talking to a lot of hopefuls who are predicting a majority this election. I'm very wary, however, of underestimating the power of strategic voting on the left. Only time is going to tell just how important a factor it turns out to be.

If you folks have any special insights I overlooked or want to share some guesses of your own, post 'em in the comments.

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Elizabeth May: "Canadians Are Stupid"

Maybe. But we'll never be this stupid.

The sound byte in question is right at the end of the clip.

This slip of the tongue - and lest we forget this charming little comment from awhile back - definitely ought to help the Greens finally break into the Canadian mainstream.

Good luck, Lizzie. You're doing really great so far!

My only qualm in linking this is that I'm not sure why it cuts out right after she "agrees with that assessment" since it seems likely that she didn't just leave it at that. Can anybody get their hands on the full audio clip?

H/t to Lore Weaver for finding and hosting the clip.

UPDATE: Stephen Taylor fills in the blanks for us. My hero.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

It Isn't Just About Lightbulbs

Liberty In Canada:

"It isn't just about light bulbs," Tzeporah Berman exclaimed with all the zeal of a pastor in sermon. "It's about laws."

This is what we are facing. The environmental religion accepts only one solution to the problems they identify with the environment and environmental policy in Canada. She shrugs off lifestyle changes as insufficient and reiterates that the only solution is governmental intervention, Daddy Government stepping in to save the kids from the mess they have got themselves into this time.

"Green" is quickly developing into one of the most popular socialist movements in the world. And, although they have selected the environment as their issue, their goal remains consistent with the goal of socialists from all parties: the erosion of liberty in favour of all-encompassing government control.

Tzeporah Berman. What we need is fewer laws, not more. Fewer restrictions, not less liberty. If the environmental concerns that you highlight are as dire as you claim, persuade people towards your view through reason. Once there is a strong call for corporations to become more environmentally friendly, companies will adapt to new and more efficient technology or they will lose out on business.

The free market has always been and remains today the best mechanism for change known to humankind. And, what's more, this method would save you from the unpleasantness of bludgeoning your fellow citizens into the Green yoke you have us fitted for. Let us decide for ourselves in full possession of our natural liberty what to do about the environment, if anything at all. Any other method is thuggish.

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A Scary Liberal With A Hidden Agenda


[In a recent speech] Harper reiterated Conservative criticisms that the Liberal plan would simply shift tax dollars out of Canadians' pockets back into federal government coffers, boosting the cost of just about everything.

"It will stop the economic progress of the Canadian middle class dead in its tracks and it will make the cost of living unbearable for fixed income seniors and low-income seniors."

Harper said the Liberal plan doesn't even set a target for emissions reductions.

"Why? Because Dion's carbon tax is not an environmental policy. It is just a wealth redistribution program disguised as an environmental policy."

These are the right buttons to be pushing for the election, as I opined in a recent post. Making noise to appease the Greens will produce zero benefits for the Tories in the next election while pressing the economic implications of the so-called "Green Shift" may even convince a few skeptical environmentalists that the path to protecting the environment has nothing to do with a sharp increase in governmental control over the economy.

Dion's carbon tax plan is simply another Liberal program bent on redistributing money from the middle and upper classes into the black hole that is the Canadian welfare state. If Harper keeps attacking the Green Shift from this angle he won't be leaving 24 Sussex when the dust settles after the next election.

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The Myth Of The Morally Neutral State

The Canadian state is a lot of things but morally neutral is not one of them. Surprisingly, however, the idea that modern liberal and democratic governments constitute Impartial Observers enforcing no particular moral code, remaining above the scrum and delivering unprejudiced decisions in all instances, is strangely popular among Liberals and, stranger yet, among Conservatives as well.

David Cameron, leader of the British Columbian Conservative Party presented this view in a recent speech in Glasgow which earned considerable media attention:

I think the time has come for me to speak out about something that has been troubling me for a long time. I have not found the words to say it sensitively. And then I realised, that is the whole point.

We as a society have been far too sensitive. In order to avoid injury to people's feelings, in order to avoid appearing judgemental, we have failed to say what needs to be said. We have seen a decades-long erosion of responsibility, of social virtue, of self-discipline, respect for others, deferring gratification instead of instant gratification.

Instead we prefer moral neutrality, a refusal to make judgments about what is good and bad behaviour, right and wrong behaviour. Bad. Good. Right. Wrong. These are words that our political system and our public sector scarcely dare use any more.

I sympathize with Cameron's position but I dissent from his conclusion. We live under anything but a morally neutral state. What he means, clearly, is that he does not support the kind of morality our state currently endorses and enforces.

Pierre Lemieux explains:

So, we are living under a morally neutral state? Try telling this to individuals who are denormalized because they smoke tobacco or are jailed because they consume drugs or provide them to consumers, who have their children seized by the state because they don’t teach them state-approved morals, who pay taxes to support government programs based on egalitarian ethics or other state activities they disprove of, who are brainwashed by the subsidized environmental religion, or who are prohibited by law (in theory or in practice) from defending themselves against gun- or knife-wielding thugs. All these people and others have moral values imposed on them by the state, that is, by force. Nothing morally neutral about that.

The best example, perhaps, is the recent troubles with free speech and the Canadian Human Rights Commissions. It is impossible to argue that the prosecution of Steyn and Levant for "hate speech" and "Islamophobia" does not assume the morality of the left, to wit, that our freedom of expression can be properly subordinated to a newly-enforceable "right" not to be insulted.

Ultimately, I conclude with Lemieux:

What is needed in Canada as in the U.K. is not a wishy-washy retreat from a neutral morality that doesn’t exist, a substitution of Liberal fantasies for Conservative hang-ups, but a revolution that would abolish the state’s moral authority and let individuals at liberty to make their own moral choices. The solution is to minimize the moral content of public policy and require that the state avoid taking sides between its citizens, except in matters of murder and other violent crimes. Such a true morally neutral state would allow the re-establishment of efficient private morality.

Cameron's article represents a strong and passionate advocacy of the traditional Canadian values of freedom and liberalism. Read the whole thing for a more nuanced analysis of the question of state neutrality.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

On Capital Punishment

People are in nearly universal agreement that criminals must be punished - even the most compassionate left-winger will concede that some form of penalty is necessary - but by what standard of justice should that punishment be meted out? When is the death penalty justifiable, if ever?

The Canadian justice system made its feelings known on the matter on July 14th, 1976. Canada formally abolished the death penalty and cited three principal reasons for doing so:

(1) The possibility of wrongful conviction

(2) Questions regarding the state/government's right to take the life of an individual

(3) Uncertainty regarding the deterring effect of capital punishment

It is my opinion that the first point has the most force. I contend that, in a state of nature, any person would be morally justified in executing an individual who they can irrefutably prove has committed murder (provided, of course, that mens rea and actus rea can be shown). If we accept that every individual has a right to their own life, then the willful and malicious taking of a human life seems to demand the forfeiture of the guilty party's own right to the same. Consequently, it seems clear that capital punishment is morally permissible in a state of nature given complete knowledge regarding the event.

Translating this moral permissibility into public policy, however, is complex to say the least. Juries and judges are far from omniscient and if a single innocent life is taken because of capital punishment then a horrendous injustice has occurred and the policy must be judged wholly unacceptable. This concern was obviously paramount in Canada's elimination of the death penalty since the Steven Truscott case is considered to have been a crucial factor in the decision.

There may, however, be a way of constructing a policy to avoid this trouble. I'm not a legal philosopher but, given a situation in which the standard of absolute certainty (reasonable doubt would not be sufficient) are met, I see no reason why this problem should be damning to capital punishment in all cases. The demand for the highest possible standard of proof would make it very rare that the death penalty be applied, but, theoretically, capital punishment could still be a consistent and moral public policy.

The second point does not hold as much force as the first. The government is not some abstracted entity that can boast its own unique moral code. The government is merely a collection of individuals. Agents acting in its name are morally justified in doing only that which an individual is morally justified in doing with the obvious exception of the use of physical coercion in order to administer the law. Since we have established that an individual has the right to implement capital punishment in a state of nature given absolute proof, and given that we surrender the right to actualize that punishment ourselves by entering into society, the government should be perfectly justified in applying capital punishment as a policy.

To address the final point, I would be best served by quoting H.L. Mencken on the subject:

[This argument's] fundamental error consists in assuming that the whole aim of punishing criminals is to deter other (potential) criminals--that we hang or electrocute A simply in order to so alarm B that he will not kill C. This, I believe, is an assumption which confuses a part with the whole. Deterrence, obviously, is one of the aims of punishment, but it is surely not the only one. On the contrary, there are at least half a dozen, and some are probably quite as important. At least one of them, practically considered, is more important. Commonly, it is described as revenge, but revenge is really not the word for it. I borrow a better term from the late Aristotle: katharsis. Katharsis, so used, means a salubrious discharge of emotions, a healthy letting off of steam. A school-boy, disliking his teacher, deposits a tack upon the pedagogical chair; the teacher jumps and the boy laughs. This is katharsis. What I contend is that one of the prime objects of all judicial punishments is to afford the same grateful relief (a) to the immediate victims of the criminal punished, and (b) to the general body of moral and timorous men.

Considering these points, it seems that capital punishment is perfectly acceptable from a moral perspective but that practical and epistemological considerations are potentially a deal-breaker. Governments are theoretically justified in executing criminals who willfully and maliciously commit homicide while in full possession of their faculties but, unless the problem of wrongful executions as raised in the first point can be persuasively addressed, the current policy in Canada is likely the proper one.

UPDATE: I crossposted this article at Dust My Broom and we had an interesting discussion in the comments section. The debate seemed to boil down to whether or not it is justifiable to sacrifice an innocent individual for the collective good of society. My answer was vehemently to the negative while many others supported the maxim "the ends justify the means." Judge for yourselves.

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So The Zombies Are Communists?

Yes. Yes, they are.

Everything I could hope for in a music video involving heavy metal, the Russian language, gratuitous female licentiousness, and Mikhail Gorbachev.


H/t Dri.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Wham, Bam, Thank You Ma'am

Some of the best rock and roll ever recorded to get us through a slow Friday night.

Bowie: Suffragette City

Lennon & The Stones: Yer Blues

Doesn't get any better than that.

More of the good stuff at Darcey's.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Obama '08: Change When It's Expedient

Strong ad. Hits the right points.

Obama is a lightweight, pure and simple. A few more good attack ads and the polls are going to start reflecting that.

H/t Ace

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Monday, July 7, 2008

You Think Eet Eez Easy To Chew Out Garth Turner?

Liberal MP Garth Turner hasn't apologized on his website for a controversial blog he posted about Quebec sovereigntists -- despite being "chewed out" for the remarks by Liberal Leader Stephane Dion.

Turner came under fire Friday after some readers objected to a blog he posted calling sovereigntists "self-aggrandizing, hostile, me-first, greedy, macho, selfish and balkanizing separatist losers."


Uh oh, Garth. You've really done it now. You wouldn't like Stephane when he's angry.

"Now see 'ere, Gart. Eet eez not easy to make priorities, je sais, but perhaps one of yours could be not pissing all over de Quebec vote? Like, for serious? If we lose Quebec we're so totally screwed, hokay?"

I can only imagine how irritating it would be to get "chewed-out" by Stephane Dion, the archetypal beta male.

God, am I thankful Garth Turner isn't a Tory anymore.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

You Can't Beat 'Em At Home, Harper, So Stop Trying

As Prime Minister Stephen Harper helped ring in Quebec City's 400th birthday Thursday, a series of opinion surveys suggested his party has lost key support in the province.

The latest Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll finds that a bruising session in Parliament - along with a perceived values gap on the environment - has cost the Tories crucial ground with Quebec voters and urban women.


Harper has been so busy bending over backwards to come off as "serious" about the environment that he's stopped hitting the effective Conservative points that got him this gig in the first place. Bluntly, the Conservatives are not going to win an election on the environment. It's a non-starter. They can't promise enough in the way of government intervention to compete with this Carbon Tax Green Shift nonsense. A successful campaign against an environmentalist will have to focus on good conservative economics.

"All right, Canada. You want a Carbon Tax? Well, here's what it's going to cost you."

I thought Harper had identified this as the strongest point of attack with the series of Tory attack ads that were released after the announcement of Dion's Carbon Tax. But Harper has wasted a lot of time pleading his Green bona fides and, of course, it's sounding perfunctory and half-hearted.

Stick to the economy, Mr. Prime Minister. The Canadian electorate has often been characterized as a fiscally conservative liberal. Know your audience and start fighting with your strong hand again.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We Hate The Productive & So Can You!

An earth-shattering study was recently conducted by the always-entertaining Canadian Center For Policy Alternatives that finally proved once and for all that there is a direct relationship between the quantity of currency that you possess and the degree to which you are evil.

The Sun:

Size matters, according to a new study on Canada's ecological footprint. The study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows the more we earn, the bigger impact we have on the environment.

It should act as a reminder to governments everywhere that public policies to fight greenhouse gases and save the planet cannot ignore that richer people are bigger polluters and should be treated accordingly.

After all, affluent people drive more cars, heat and cool bigger homes, travel further on vacations, and simply use more land to live...

Emphasis mine.

The anti-industrial sentiments that inspired this sneeringly sanctimonious study are evident. Production and consumption are paramount evils. The virtuous man is the one who eschews the profit motive and lives humbly - producing little, consuming little, and living in harmony with nature. You know. Like an animal. This kind of attitude leaves the environmental movement with only one possible policy: smother the productive.

This hideous brand of environmentalism is in diametric opposition to modernity, capitalism, and liberalism. This is a movement committed to replacing our civilization with the Dark Ages. And, to accomplish their ends, they are perfectly willing to extort, gripe, and bully us into living like animals.

No, thank you. I like modernity just fine.

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True North Strong & Free

I am fiercely proud of our little Dominion and I am particularly proud on Canada Day since it affords me the opportunity to reflect on our great nation and what being a citizen of this country means. Despite the myriad of troubles facing us today, my reflections invariably leave me with the absolute conviction that I live in one of the greatest countries on Earth. Our commitment to the protection of individual rights is indelibly etched into the books of history. Canada’s story is one of fortitude in the defense of liberty and, on this holiest of statutory holidays, I am happy to say without a moment’s hesitation that I am proud to be Canadian.

And so is everybody else, it seems. An Ipsos Reid poll has revealed that a majority of Canadians count themselves proud of our flag and our military, both manifest symbols of our country’s values and history.

So Canadians are proud to be Canadian. But the question remains: What does being Canadian mean?

Certainly not this:

It may soon be time for gun owners to bid their weapons adieu if the federal government takes heed of mounting public opinion that favours a firearms ban.

According to a poll conducted last month by Angus Reid Strategies, half of Ontarians surveyed think gun bans are justified, and 9-in-10 think mandatory jail terms will reduce gun-related crimes.

Though handguns are already banned -- except for police and security officers, target shooters and collectors -- gun clubs like the CNRA Handgun Club and the Scarborough Rifle Club were the target of Mayor David Miller's new bylaw which evicts gun clubs from city property.

For most of us, pride in being Canadian means pride in our place of birth, in our unique nation which is home to a way of life worth defending with our last breath. To many immigrants and refugees, it means a haven of freedom in a world overrun by tyranny. Regardless of your story, however, being Canadian signifies a ruthless commitment to freedom and democracy.

On Canada Day, all Canadian citizens should take the opportunity to reflect on why we love our country. It isn’t an arbitrary love for the geographic region in which we chanced to have been birthed. It isn’t an altruistic love for a nation of people with which we happen to coexist. It’s a perfectly selfish love for the values our country embraces and extols.

David Miller’s crusade against private citizens’ rights to purchase and enjoy the use of firearms has no place in Canada.

Sorry, Mr. Miller. We’re proud to be Canadian and, unfortunately for you, we know what that means.

Happy Canada Day!

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Monday, June 16, 2008

McCain vs. Obama: Either Way, Capitalism Loses

"[O]ur individual salvation depends on our collective salvation. [Don't] take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy."
-- Barack Obama, 2008

"I led . . . out of patriotism, not for profit."
-- John McCain, 2008

We've come an awfully long way since the 1980s, haven't we? Do you think back fondly of the days when the influence of Thatcherism was producing massive privatization in Britain while Reagan valiantly battled the steady encroachment of socialism in the United States? Even a casual Capitalist can't help but read about Britain's 2008 decision to nationalize the private bank Northern Rock and blink in bewilderment. What happened?

Well, for starters, even in the 1980s Capitalism was no more than an uncomfortable ally for conservatives. Although Reagan and Thatcher were for the most part genuinely committed to economic freedom, the vast majority of their supporters were very definitely not. In both Britain and America, the political right defended Capitalism with one hand as the only legitimate economic system for a free and democratic society while, with the other hand, condemning the profit motive as selfish. These conservatives demanded, as they continue to demand today, that we sacrifice our rational self-interest for the higher good of altruism. With friends like these, Capitalism didn't need any enemies.

And it doesn't seem to have any philosophical enemies left anyway. Have you noticed that the Democrats have abandoned all efforts towards a substantive criticism of free enterprise? Why would they bother engaging in a debate about ethics and economics when there are so few real Capitalists left to oppose them? Instead, pseudo-socialistic organizations like the Obama campaign interest themselves with the "social consequences" of Capitalism as they investigate the "fundamental human aspect" of their economic system, thus deftly side-stepping any awkward questions regarding the economic reality of their country. Even Hillary Clinton would have the good sense to blush at this obvious evasion of a real discussion of the issue.

The upcoming American election is as true an example of a Sophie's Choice as I've ever witnessed. Barack Obama turns up his nose at big business to the cheers of Democrats everywhere while repudiating Americans for playing into the "money culture" that has made them the wealthiest country in the world. John McCain sneers at Mitt Romney and big business for daring to pursue the profit motive while claiming that his own motives are pure since they aren't tarnished by self-interest.

And so the question of who will win in November becomes economically irrelevant. True, if Obama wins he will roll back the Bush tax cuts, install a universal health care scheme, and impose unsustainable environmental restrictions on big business the likes of which the US economy has never seen before. A victory for McCain, however, would amount to the same thing in the long run. The Republican nominee has been committed to the anthropogenic global warming movement for years now and his voting record should be enough to convince any businessperson of his lukewarm commitment to a free economy.

As a John McCain presidency would swiftly demonstrate, there is no surer way to undermine an idea than to argue for it poorly. As the leader of the so-called "Party of Capitalism," McCain would destroy Capitalism in America just as thoroughly as would his Democratic opponent.

It all adds up to a demoralizingly clear conclusion: McCain? Obama? Who cares? Either way, Capitalism loses.

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

RIP Mary Katherine Ham

Just kidding. She isn't actually dead. Just dead to us. She's leaving HamNation and behind for the glamorous world of Old Media. She's accepted a job at the Washington Examiner. I'll certainly miss her.

Her final video is as good as any HamNation installment. A jaunty little musical number. Follow the link below.

"Obama On Your Shoulder."

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Google Snubs D-Day For ... Diego Velazquez's Birthday?

6 June 1944:

On 6 June 1944 the Western Allies landed in northern France, opening the long-awaited "Second Front" against Adolf Hitler's Germany. Though they had been fighting in mainland Italy for some nine months, the Normandy invasion was in a strategically more important region, setting the stage to drive the Germans from France and ultimately destroy the National Socialist regime.

It had been four long years since France had been overrun and the British compelled to leave continental Europe, three since Hitler had attacked the Soviet Union and two and a half since the United States had formally entered the struggle. After an often seemingly hopeless fight, beginning in late 1942 the Germans had been stopped and forced into slow retreat in eastern Europe, defeated in North Africa and confronted in Italy. U.S. and British bombers had visited ruin on the enemy's industrial cities. Allied navies had contained the German submarine threat, making possible an immense buildup of ground, sea and air power in the British Isles.

Schemes for a return to France, long in preparation, were now feasible. Detailed operation plans were in hand. Troops were well-trained, vast numbers of ships accumulated, and local German forces battered from the air. Clever deceptions had confused the enemy about just when, and especially where, the blow would fall.

Commanded by U.S. Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Normandy assault phase, code-named "Neptune" (the entire operation was "Overlord"), was launched when weather reports predicted satisfactory conditions on 6 June. Hundreds of amphibious ships and craft, supported by combatant warships, crossed the English Channel behind dozens of minesweepers. They arrived off the beaches before dawn. Three divisions of paratroopers (two American, one British) had already been dropped inland. Following a brief bombardment by ships' guns, Soldiers of six divisions (three American, two British and one Canadian) stormed ashore in five main landing areas, named "Utah", "Omaha", "Gold", "Juno" and "Sword". After hard fighting, especially on "Omaha" Beach, by day's end a foothold was well established.

As German counterattacks were thwarted, the Allies poured men and materiel into France. By late July these reinforcements, and constant combat, made possible a break out from the Normandy perimeter. Another landing, in southern France in August, facilitated that nation's liberation. With the Soviets advancing from the east, Hitler's armies were shoved, sometimes haltingly and always bloodily, back toward their homeland. The Second World War had entered its climactic phase.

But I can totally see how the artist Diego Velazquez's birthday outranks one of the greatest moments in the history of the free world. The Invasion of Normandy was a heroic military moment but all that rough talk of war can be distasteful to the more sensitive googler. We wouldn't want to offend Nazis by glorying in our legendary victory. Let's just go with something safe like a really old painter.

LSTs landing vehicles and cargo on a Normandy beach, June 1944.

Well, it's no Velazquez.

H/t Purple Avenger

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