Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Books and desert islands

Tagged by Jay:

Number of books: Combined collection with Mapmaster: around 5000 in addition to the internet.

Last Book Purchased: "Democracy in America" by Alexis De Tocqueville and currently bidding on ebay for - I'm not going to tell, as I want to win the auction.

Last Book I read:Um - I've had a few on the go for a while. "A Theory of Capitalism and Socialism" by Hans-Hermann Hoppe and currently reading "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" by Ayn Rand, a collection of essays which people obviously do not understand these days.

Five Books that mean a lot to me:
This reminds me of the cliched question: "If you knew you were going to be stuck on a desert island and could only bring one book, what would it be?" As of right now though, I would list the following, in no particular order:

1. "A Theory of Capitalism and Socialism" by Hans-Hermann Hoppe.
Available in pdf format.

2. "The Road to Serfdom" by Fredrich Hayek.
For obliterating the left / right divide.

3. "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.
For exposing hypocrisy and espousing common sense.

4. "Ceremonial Chemistry" by Thomas Szasz.
For those interested in the current nanny state craze, check this guy out. Although this particular title was written in 1974, his teachings are especially relevant today.

5. "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt.
Plain common sense. Ecomomics is more simple than the bureaucrats would like you to believe, of course. Available in pdf format.

And I deviate here and add a number 6:

The master: Dostoevsky - "Crime and Punishment"

Friedrich Nietzsche receives an honourable mention as well as Lysander Spooner, and Frederic Bastiat.

Tag Five more:

Drizzten from Magnifisyncopathological
Kate from Small Dead Animals
Darcey from Dust my Broom
Publius from God of the Copybook Headings
Kateland from The Last Amazon

and, .... Mapmaster up next.

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Monte Solberg:

But the new and "improved" NDP are unapologetic for supporting the corrupt Liberals because the dippers GOT SOMETHING for Canadians. Do I really have to point out that for the NDP to get something for the people, that they first had to TAKE SOMETHING. In fact they would have to take something like $5.6 Billion from the public in order to give them back $4.6 Billion because the money first has to wash through a bureaucracy that simply can't be sated and through the sticky fingers of Liberals who can't be trusted.
is a funny guy:
Look we're happy that these Christians let us use their buildings to get married, baptised and buried, but getting involved in politics? Personally I think Christians are fine in their place, but when they expect that people will actually vote for them...well that is just downright uppity.

The Globe report even tied some of their kind to the promotion of traditional marriage! Where does this weirdness end? Will we soon be treated to the spectacle of people who pull vegetables out of the ground by the roots and then scald them in pots of boiling water?

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Hypocrite of the decade award goes to ......

Bono! Better luck next time Bill.

Seems Bono and the poverty crew have been making history at the expense of the poor:
Anti-poverty wristbands produced in sweatshops

FASHIONABLE wristbands worn by pop stars, actors, top athletes and celebrities to publicise the Make Poverty History campaign are produced in appalling "slave labour" conditions, damning evidence has revealed.

Chinese factory workers producing the white rubber bracelets are forced to toil in conditions that violate Chinese law and the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) set up to establish international standards for working conditions.

The revelations are laid bare in sensitive "ethical audits" of factories that make the must-have fashion accessories for the national Make Poverty History campaign begun by a partnership of over 400 charities.

Hearing of the news yesterday, Sir Bob Geldof, called for immediate measures to improve the terms and conditions of the workers with the threat of all business being withdrawn if the response is unsatisfactory.

[..] Prime Minister Tony Blair and First Minister Jack McConnell have been photographed wearing the bands, as well as celebrities including model Claudia Schiffer, actress Sienna Miller, the band Travis, and football managers Alex McLeish and Martin O'Neill.

According to a report on the Tat Shing Rubber Manufacturing Company in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, dated 12 April 2005, the company uses "forced labour" by accepting "financial deposits" from new workers - against both Chinese law and the ETI.

The report also revealed a category of weaknesses including inadequate health and safety provision, lengthy hours, seven-day weeks, employees cheated of their pay, inadequate insurance, no annual holidays and no right to freedom of association.

[..] The revelations have now caused infighting between the various charities, with Christian Aid claiming Oxfam failed to tell other charities that it had decided to stop ordering from the Shenzhen company.

A spokesman said: "If Oxfam had concerns about ethical standards it did not pass them on for a considerable time."

An Oxfam spokeswoman responded that they informed their coalition partners in January, but added: "We could have perhaps put it in writing to make it absolutely clear. We bought an initial 10,000 wrist bands from the Shenzhen company in November. We now see that purchasing this before we saw a full audit was a mistake."

Instead, it sourced 1.5 million of the bands - made from silicon rubber or woven fabric - from the Fujian factory, but only after assurances that concerns over ethical problems were being addressed. Christian Aid and Cafod continue to source the bands from the Shenzhen factory as part of a "constructive engagement" policy.
On the topic of "constructive engagements", remember Bono's recent campaign appearance in support of Paul Martin:
Fans also showed their support for more foreign aid by buying white rubber bracelets being sold at the concert. Printed on them is the message 'Make Poverty History.'

The bracelets are part of a larger campaign being backed by Bono and other celebrities including Sarah McLachlan, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx. The campaign will officially kick off in Canada Friday, when a downtown Vancouver church will be wrapped in a white band.
The armbands are also a natural alternative to toliet paper when crapping in the woods of third world nations - even softer than Cottonelle.

Hat tip: Mitchieville

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Universal Child Care Comix Round-Up

We found a long-discarded, completely weather-beaten copy of "Universal Child Care Comix Issue 1" in a pile of trash outside of an abandoned family doctor's practice, long forgotten among condom wrappers and empty pill bottles. This extraordinarily rare comic book was apparently self-published around 1980 by a Ruiticus T. Bloch, RR#1 Tilsonburg.

We have only been able to reconstruct a few fragments, and those, only by pushing Mapmaster's fearsome spectrographical skills to their limit. Now that a fourth piece of the puzzle has been found, we are happy to re-present what we have uncovered in hopes of elevating the level of public discourse and making people talk about these issues politely and shit.

We present this historical document without further comment. We'll only say that handing toddlers over to the Party is a cuckoo idea.

Fragment 1
Fragment 2
Fragment 3
Fragment 4

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Monday, May 30, 2005

Hard to see how this will improve anything…

… but it will prolong the existence of justification for some bureaucrats for a little while now. Given Maryantonett Flumian's record as Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Firearms Centre at the Department of Justice — the friendly Gun Registry folk — better check your pocket lint for more federal taxes soon. Centralization and decentralization at the same time? These bureaucrats do work wonders! Another responsibility-shuffling diversion from the HRDC:

On Monday, Maryantonett Flumian will take up a position as the DM responsible for Service Canada, which is a massive initiative to centralize 'customer service' functions in a single organization, while decentralizing the adminstration to various regional centers.

It is a major project, and at present no minister is directly accountable for it, because it is shared across multiple departments — as is the budget. There is no real plan, just the idea of simplifying contact for citizens. Money has been spent to build the minister's office, but no minister yet.
[Via SDA, via an email tip]
I expect Basil to offer suitable commentary on the new DM's name.

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Spock was a commie…

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
— Mr. Spock, The Wrath of Khan, in his dying moments when dramatic platitudes outweigh the need for rational individualism.

Expropriation is a government's act of seizing property owned by a private party without that party's consent under the authority of a law, while paying compensation to the former owner. Any government has the right to seize such property, according to international law, if prompt and adequate compensation is given.
— The London Free Press
According to the London Free Press, Oxford County is attempting to expropriate land occupied by the Blandford Square Mall near Woodstock to assemble a serviced land parcel to entice a $600-million Toyota assembly plant, which may employ 1,500 to 2,000 people, to the area. But the owner is asking $16 million for the 40-hectare site, while the county has offered more than $2 million.
If the county attempts to expropriate the land, Chetti said he will fight the move in court — which will delay the assembly and threaten the area's chances of landing the assembly plant.
What are Oxford County's motives for suppressing the sanctity of private property and the speculative ambitions that help fuel the free market and provide benefits to citizens who enjoy an environment that protects them? Increased property assessments and tax revenue? Only as an aside — the publicly stated reason is the public good, the 1500 to 2000 jobs that will be created.

So, what good will be accomplished by this substitution of undefinable and arbitrary public interests for the rational and objective interests of private property owners? An accommodation of theft and arbitrary government dictates, that's what, which surely affects those workers as much as it does everyone else. It's not as if Toyota isn't going to build a plant somewhere.

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Ye olde Patriarchale Media

What do you make of this one, Lisa? From the Free Press' insipid editorial of the day, Politics needs women's voices (Warning, not a permalink...)

Among the consequences of our limited female representation in politics, is a loss of strong advocates for social programs.
Sexism runs rampant at the Freeps.

The evidence from Karl Marx to Tommy Douglas to Robert Mugabe to Jack Layton would suggest that men are pretty good at coming up with "compassionate" pretexts for lies, theft, and abuse of police powers. (That is to say, good at being "strong advocates for social programs".)

Why would the Free Press expect women to be greedier, more vain, more deceptive, and more self serving than men are? Talk about yer age-old stereotypes.

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London - 150 years of armchairs and expensive hair salons

MAY 29, 1953

Women block road

A determined group of London Township mothers living on Vancouver Street form a barricade of lawn chairs and block the road between Dundas and Scott streets to protest the lack of sidewalks and traffic controls. The women stop and turn back all passenger and delivery vehicles attempting to use Vancouver Street as a thoroughfare, arguing that speeding vehicles are a hazard to their children who play in the area.
May 29, 2005

Women barricade local barber shops.

A militant group of Middlesex County women living in the posh areas of Masonville Mall form a barricade of shoes and powersuits and block the entrance to barber shops across the region to protest the lack of price controls. The women stop and force back all males attempting to pay for the services of regional barbers, arguing that highlights, a perm and styling should cost no more than a quick buzz at the barber.

Update: Bastiat's Window on the US shirt tax:
By what rights does the U.S. textile industry demand, and government provide, a "shirt tax" in the form of higher prices and restricted supply? By what right are those jobs to be "protected," by which of course we mean protected from competition and innovation? Why exactly are their wallets more important than mine?

And of course, I'm not the only one who pays the shirt tax. If I pay $26 for a shirt instead of $25, who is deprived of that dollar that is now in the hands of the textiles workers? Maybe the corner grocer, maybe the shoe shine guy, maybe some charity that I can now give less money to. Even a Socialist or Rawlsian who thinks I don't deserve my money can hardly claim that those victims of protectionism don't deserve it either, for no other reason than because textile workers have more political influence.

Government never creates; it only stifles creation (or flat-out destroys). Government never "protects jobs," it only redistributes them (protecting votes, on the other hand, is another matter altogether). The machine of government has no gas pedal, only a steering wheel (and brakes).

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Memorial Cup bad for the environment

The London Knights' victory might be good for the JLC, but it's bad for the environment. Hundreds of testosterone driven motorists spewed particulate and carbon monoxide laden exhaust as they headed downtown for no particular purpose other than to honk their horns and give the high five to other motorists, including those innocently headed home from a more enviromentally friendly pursuit.

Hockey costs us all. Please email your local MP to express your concerns.

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Understanding the Party

Over at Gods of the Copybook Headings, Publius narrates the increasingly unfortunate history of the Liberal Party from George Brown and Wilfred Laurier to Paul Martin.

The historic divisions of language and religion had helped make Canadian politics among the least intellectual in the western world. Rather than confronting the grander issues of capitalism vs. socialism, detente vs. confrontation with the USSR, and other more technical public policy concerns, Canadian politics was dominated more by the need to balance off regional interests.

By replacing these regional, religious and linguistic conflicts with a battle of ideas over the future of the country Trudeau hoped to help unify Canada as well as improve the quality of public debate and policy making. Sadly, Trudeau the philosopher-king believed this sweeping transformation could be accomplished by white-paper, legislation and vague but pleasant sounding rhetoric. That it is inherently impossible to plan an economy - Mises' famous quip about planned chaos captures the futility of the attempt - should have been a warning to anyone attempting to plan something as complex and ineffable as private social relations and attitudes. The damage of a planned economy can be undone with comparative ease as it impacts at a basic level only man's material actions and desires. The damage of a planned society is far more insidious.
Read the rest here…

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Flaming Idiots - Part II

Pot activists these days are an embarrasment and a hindrance to those trying to fight governmental interference into the lives of peaceful individuals. Bedding down with the Liberals and the NDP will only land you in the medical ward, along with the fatties and the smokers.

From an article printed today by the LFP which makes pot smokers sound ridiculous:

A poetic pot activist rhymed out his reasons for battling Canada's marijuana laws at a rally yesterday as the Gus Macker basketball tournament roared in the background.

"There's a little poem I've got, that makes a case for pot. Though a poet I am not, I've given this much thought. Is there hard data? A lot. What's pot's greatest danger? Getting caught," rhymed Hamilton cabbie and pot activist Chris Lawson as a handful of protesters looked on.

The demonstrators said they were responding to the London police's "misguided efforts" to shut down the Hippy Sanctuary and "targeting mom-and-pop grow-ops."

[..] Lawson, a cabbie, writes poems about marijuana -- with titles such as, In Our Very Hearth and Soul, It Seems, We have a Pot-Shaped Hole -- and recites them at pro-pot rallies and to the fares he picks up.

Yesterday's rally, planned for Victoria Park, moved to the well-trimmed lawn of London Life, then to the Peace Garden at the Forks of the Thames.

Lawson said he smokes marijuana to ease chronic back pain, as well as to soothe his asthma symptoms and to help his appetite and sleep.

"Outside of marijuana use, I'm not a criminal," said another rally participant, Nathan Ouellette. "The transparency of pot laws is becoming more and more apparent the more we talk about it."

His friend, Claude Lebeau, said the federal government should legalize pot and pocket the profits.

"Regulate it like tobacco and alcohol, because it is a mind-altering drug," Lebeau said. "It would be a huge boon for the government."
I paraphrase: "Tax me - I'm an idiot. The prices on the black market are too low and the weed too potent. I believe the extra revenue could be spent on public awareness campaigns and treatment programs."

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"When an opponent declares, 'I will not come over to your side, and you will not get me on your side,' I calmly say, 'Your child belongs to me already. A people lives forever. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants however now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community'."

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Get your fingers out of my cookie jar!

Thanks to a tip from SDA, I've discovered a newly created Canadian Taxpayers Federation Blog, "Fighting for Taxpayers", which focuses on government waste and corruption.

CTF points out the following article:

Prime Minister Paul Martin defended his recent social spending spree Thursday as part of the "cold arithmetic" necessary to keep his minority Liberal government alive, but promised business leaders he's not about to steer Canada back into deficit.

A week after narrowly surviving a tense budget vote in the House of Commons, Martin was in Toronto to take on critics of the $4.6-billion budget agreement he forged with the New Democrats that allowed the Liberals to avoid a spring election.

[..] "Canadians sent us to Ottawa with a minority government, and a minority government means that you work with the opposition. That's not just some quaint political tradition, it's a matter of cold arithmetic."

Martin agreed to amend the budget to include $4.6 billion in spending over five years on affordable housing, the environment, foreign aid and education in exchange for the support of the NDP's 19 members during the Commons vote last Thursday.

Those areas are all "consistent" with the budget's original and continued priorities, he said.

"I know there are some people in this room who won't agree with that approach, who think I should simply cut taxes deeply and walk away from investments that might seem expensive, like affordable child care or the evironment," Martin said.

"That may be a legitimate point of view, but it is not mine."

[..] Martin refused to linger after his speech to talk about whether the Liberals would entertain a possible NDP proposal for a long-term deal for continued support.

Under such an agreement, the New Democrats would seek a handful of further concessions from the Liberals, including commitments to electoral reform and protection for pensioners, a party spokesman said Wednesday.
Why bother tampering with the electoral system when complancency can be bought for $25 million an hour. Here is a breakdown of the bribes in pdf format.

Update: London's share of the loot thus far:
London Food Bank: $45,000
Street Connection: $149,563
Alleviating Homelessness: $429,847

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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Flaming Idiots

Billy Beck:

Now, of course, idiocy is nothing new. The world is rife with it, and always will be. What fascinates me is the particular turns that it takes at any given moment in history. What I wonder is how anyone more than a hundred years into everyday use of petroleum products could possibly be ignorant of the implications of an act like this. The fact that gasoline is explosive is well-established beyond the insinuations of post-modern philosophy -- there really is a reality "out there", which is perfectly impervious to human whim -- and it astounds me that this fact can be lost on anyone not tramping around in the deepest bush naked and howling at the moon for sustenance.

We're talking about people who don't know what life is or how to conduct it.

And these creatures are expected to pass judgment on political matters at polls.

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Yet another reason to buy a mac.

From Security and Privacy:
While browsing the Articles on gotroot.com, I came across a reference to another article on News.com which is reporting that MSN's Longhorn will "feature" a new "security" enhancement. And what might this be?

Well, you won't be able to install another operating system alongside of Longhorn on your computer.

How exactly is this a "security feature?" According to MS Chief Jim Allchin, if your laptop gets stolen, no one will be able to install something like Linux to access the Window's data.

Ummm... Microsoft is being extremely deceptive in calling this a "security feature" in my opinion. It would be very easy for someone to simply remove the hard drive and mount it on an existing Linux system. In fact, that would likely be an easier thing to do than to try to install Linux on the stolen laptop.

So where exactly is the security? It would appear to me that instead of being a security feature, this is nothing more than an attempt by Microsoft to slow down the growth of Linux - especially with the number of folks who now have dual boot systems - both Windows and some other operating system on their PC's or laptops.

To claim that this is a security feature is more evidence that Microsoft isn't really interested in security at all. A security consultant that is truly interested in security isn't going to claim that cementing in your front door will make your house secure while trying to sell you a convenient sliding glass door at the back.

Really what Microsoft is doing is stop you from using your property the way you want to use it if you also choose to a licence to use their products. And they call that a "security feature." Not the kind of company I want to deal with.

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Victoria Day Red Ensign Standard no.XXII

… just in time for Memorial Day! The Monarchist is (re-)hosting the Red Ensign Standard no.XXII.

But don't miss the classic originals here and here.

Note: The Red Ensign shown above was presented to the Imperial War Museum in 1918 to commemorate the Canadian achievement at Vimy Ridge. Via Dust my broom.

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Partisanship gone mad!

Non-partisan London Free Press thinker Chip Martin gets mail!

* ". . . a propaganda polemic on behalf of the Liberal/Socialist/criminal junta now in power in Canada . . ."

* "After reading your column I came to the conclusion that you: a) have no clue; b) liberal idiot; c) scary liberal idiot; c) (again) all of the above."

* "I sure wish some Canadian journalists would smarten up . . . a little common sense, man."

* "Your appointment to the Liberal Senate should arrive shortly."
Observes Chip,
There is plenty of anger and frustration out there among Conservatives. And it apparently doesn't take much to unleash it.
No, just little things like the subversion of Parliament to applause from fools with access to printing presses.

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When they poured across the border

Whatever you may see over there in the blogroll, I'm probably going to be quite partisan for a bit.

The Liberal Party runs wasteful, outrageously expensive and intermittently available monopolies in medicine and countless other markets. The Liberal Party plans to enact junk-science Kyoto and make children political hostages just like the doctors are. The gun registry. On and on. Their fairy-tale premises and foolish aims aside, all of these programs are at bottom just excuses for kickbacks, favouritism, and empire-building. Worse, the media on balance are in the pockets of this thoroughly venal faction.

But whatever their policies and past, the Liberal Party disregards fundamental traditions and understandings of our system of government so as to remain in power and cover up its theft. The supremely important fact is that they are bringing our democracy into disrepute and creating a terrible precedent by ignoring the repeatedly expressed will of the House of Commons. I'm non-partisan about that only in that I'd be saying the same things whichever party was doing it. It's just that this is a Liberal sort of tactic.

The Conservatives are too left wing for me. But they are now standing against corruption verging on illegal seizure of power. There's not much middle ground to be non-partisan in right now.

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Taking "pink" back from the pinkos

When property rights are not protected, the consequences are corrupt laws that benefit one group of influential property holders at the expense of other groups, or those who do not hold property at all. Environmental and heritage fashions give government the excuse to reward themselves and the established urban property owners who voted for them and stand to benefit greatly in terms of property value as a result of the various restrictions upon development in and outside of cities.
— Garth Turner, "Think you own your own home? Think again"
A comment was received on a post I put up several months ago about the Ontario Liberals strengthening the Ontario Heritage Act to give municipalities the legal power to prevent demolition of heritage properties. Burlington residents are fighting back against the unrecompensed yet "legal" appropriation of private interests in property and substituting vague and arbitrary political heritage interests.

“Pink” warning signs are changing the look of downtown neighbourhoods as Burlington homeowners defend themselves against a corporate takeover bid. No, it’s not the multinationals that are after their homes, but Burlington City Council. They’re threatening a hostile takeover of private homes by using the Ontario Heritage Act to create a heritage theme park in the downtown to attract a few tourist dollars.

Many cities are faced with the problem of revitalizing their older downtowns, and the very prosperous Corporation of the City of Burlington, under the leadership of a pro business Mayor and some City Councilors has launched another corporate vision to provide life support to downtown businesses. Caught in a legal scheme that will cost them their property rights, sovereignty over their homes, and subject them to needless regulatory hardships, heritage homeowners are marshaling their forces to fight the takeover. No white flags over their doors, these urban rebels have gone pink. Normally the colour of gentle submission, pink has become the colour of strong opposition to a legally-binding heritage district in Burlington.

Positioning itself against a rising pink tide of homeowner opposition, Burlington City Council has voted preemptively to take legal action against homeowners’ property rights, without homeowner’s consent. Once a bylaw is passed, the corporate City Council and its subgroups will take architectural control of privately owned homes, and conscript the owners into supporting the downtown business community.

City Planners boast that private homes can be transformed into city assets at will, while homeowners say “NO” in pink. Hostile designation against the property owner’s wishes is a very unfriendly, legal act usually reserved for high-value heritage buildings. Burlington’s inventory of heritage buildings is so modest that it does not warrant wholesale designation of great expanses of the downtown, and so this action is clearly seen as a political and not a heritage issue. To emphasize the political nature of the takeover, the downtown business district which will benefit from the tourist trade is being excluded from regulatory control, and protected from the legal action.

Unfortunately, hostile legal actions usually result in equal and opposite reactions, and this corporate City venture is creating the unwanted effect of a hostile environment in the downtown which is not conducive to friendly commerce.

What to do? Homeowners have suggested that voluntary heritage neighbourhoods would work as well, and not carry the regulatory hardships or legal sting of the Ontario Heritage Act. Unless City Councilors are willing to be innovative a pink "meltdown in the downtown" is inevitable.

Steve Staniek (Mac Meltdown)
508 Hager Avenue
Burlington, ON. L7S 1P3

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A kleptocrat's dilemma…

…do we like terrorist autocrats or just plain terrorists better?

Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew says he wants to "wait and see" how the banned terrorist group Hamas fares in upcoming Palestinian elections before condemning their political participation in the key July vote.

[…] On the eve of Mr. Abbas's visit to Ottawa, Mr. Pettigrew was less critical of the role of Hamas in the upcoming elections. "They've done well in a few municipal elections. I am told these are not necessarily typical of the whole situation. So let's wait and see how things develop," he said.

Prime Minister Paul Martin is expected to announce a modest aid package, to coincide with Mr. Abbas's arrival today, that will bolster Canadian aid to "good governance" initiatives aimed at strengthening the Palestinian Authority and the economic well-being of Palestinians."
[National Post, subscription required]
So while the Australians seem to be learning that appeasement doesn't pay, Canadians are paying for appeasement. Is this what Paul Martin meant when he said that
We will set the standard by which other nations judge themselves?

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The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types — the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins.
— G.K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton (1874-1936), British essayist, critic, poet, and novelist; Source: Illustrated London News, 1924
[Via Gods of the Copybook Headings, via yet again Lorne Gunter]

What is hateful […] is not rebellion but the despotism which induces the rebellion; what is hateful are not rebels but the men, who, having the enjoyment of power, do not discharge the duties of power; they are the men who, having the power to redress wrongs, refuse to listen to the petitioners that are sent to them; they are the men who, when they are asked for a loaf, give a stone.
— Wilfrid Laurier, Speech in the House of Commons, 16 March 1886. in Oscar Skelton, Life and Letters of Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
[Also via Gods of the Copybook Headings]

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Friday, May 27, 2005

A human rights violation of the highest order

Even Emily Murphy wasn't this monstrous.
Three judges in Bali's District Court found the 27-year-old "legitimately and convincingly" guilty of smuggling 4.1kg of marijuana, concealed in a bodyboard bag, into Bali airport in October.

Amid wild scenes in the packed courtroom and as millions watched in disbelief in Australia, three judges found Corby guilty on the primary charge of smuggling drugs.

While they could have sentenced Corby to life behind bars, the judges imposed a lesser sentence after taking into account her age, her good behaviour in the trial and her clean record.

But chief prosecutor Ida Bagus Wiswantanu, who had asked for a life sentence, immediately denounced the sentence as "not enough" and declared he would appeal.
These scumbags originally wanted the death penalty.
The three judges dismissed all the defence testimony, including the evidence of Victorian prisoner and accused rapist John Patrick Ford, which they rejected as hearsay. Ford had said he overheard fellow prisoners discussing an airport drug scam, and how Corby had been an innocent dupe. But Judge I Gusti Lanang Dauh said: "The acts of the defendant can damage the mental health of the young generation."
The simple possession of a plant that is freely desired by people is met with no tolerance and a prison term of 20 years, yet the bureaucrats must be protected at all costs - even though they are the fucking criminals:
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer urged the public not to let its concern about the conviction spill over into a backlash against Indonesians.

"Indonesian staff should not be threatened, Indonesian government officials should not be abused or threatened," Mr Downer said.

"To do that type of thing is entirely counter-productive."
I'm seriously mad here.

Update: Publius Pundit covers the story:
Here’s what justice is like in Indonesia:

Dictator Soeharto, thief of $40 billion and killer of 500,000, the man of The Year Of Living Dangerously’s rivers that ran red with blood in 1966, gets a mild ailment in his dotage, sending him to the hospital and everyone in the supposed new reformasi democrasi government is at the old dictator’s side, wishing him well, bringing him flowers.

Worse yet, the vile Abu Bakar Bashir, one of the world’s foulest terrorists, a man in the same league as bin Laden, Zarkawi, Hambali, Zawahri and Granda, got all of two and a half years’ jail for murdering 200 mostly Australian tourists on Bali three years ago.

What the hell does that say about Indonesian justice? 20 years for pot, 2 years for the worst terrorist mass massacre since 9/11? Twenty year sentences for Australians who damage Bali by bringing in pot, 2 year sentences for Indonesians who kill Australians by blasting them away with bombs? It’s obvious some kind of injustice is going on, even if Schapelle Corby is as guilty as they come.

How sad it all is. Indonesia is such a weak state that its citizens can feel nothing but rage and resentment against Australians. The kinder the Australians are to them, the angrier the Indonesians feel. Indonesians are proud people with the world’s oldest continuous civilization and simply can’t compete with the material superiority of Australia. They can’t reciprocate. They can only hope to earn tourist dollars, living off their past. The weakness of state means the citizens can neither be sincere nor grateful. Bali was bombed. Australians returned to the island instead of move on to safer spots out of compassion for the Balinese, most of whom work in the tourism industry. Sumatra’s west coast was wiped off the face of the earth. Australians handed them blood (nine dead on Nias) and treasure ($1 billion in aid) to take care of their neighbor in need. When Indonesia tried to save itself from the IMF through dollarization, only Australia stood by its side back in 1998 while the whole world opposed them. Meanwhile, Australia provides countless scholarships to Indonesians and opens its doors to Indonesian immigrants. It gets bomb blasts at its embassy in Jakarta - unsolved of course, unlike Schapelle’s case - in return.

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Paul Martin stole this song from Jean Chretien, now we're stealing it back

Via Colby Cosh, Bono is to rock music what the Party is to Canada:

"Larry [Mullen, the band's drummer] is going to kill me for doing this," Bono said. "But I want this on the record. Some of what is going around as a result of your article is not just unhelpful to our group and our relationship to our audience, but just really problematic for what in the broad sense you might call rock music. The things you think are wrong with it, and the things that I think are wrong with rock music, are polar opposite. Your vision of rock and mine are 180 degrees apart. And that's why I need to talk to you."

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You got a permit for that butter knife?

The slope is covered in thick ice and oil. Originating from Britain, the leader in nanny technologies:

Doctors' kitchen knives ban call

A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase - and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.

They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen.

None of the chefs felt such knives were essential, since the point of a short blade was just as useful when a sharp end was needed.
This is absolutely unbelievable. Basing your research on the word of 10 chefs and calling it scientific! My god - have the vassals of Britain really become so complacent that they are willing to put up with such extreme governmental thuggery?

The researchers say legislation to ban the sale of long pointed knives would be a key step in the fight against violent crime.

"The Home Office is looking for ways to reduce knife crime.

Home Office spokesperson said there were already extensive restrictions in place to control the sale and possession of knives.

"We suggest that banning the sale of long pointed knives is a sensible and practical measure that would have this effect."

"The law already prohibits the possession of offensive weapons in a public place, and the possession of knives in public without good reason or lawful authority, with the exception of a folding pocket knife with a blade not exceeding three inches.

"Offensive weapons are defined as any weapon designed or adapted to cause injury, or intended by the person possessing them to do so.

"An individual has to demonstrate that he had good reason to possess a knife, for example for fishing, other sporting purposes or as part of his profession (e.g. a chef) in a public place.
Guilty until proven innocent.

Non-volitional inanimate objects continue to cause violent actions in the minds of flaming idiots. I can do serious damage with my bare hands too - is mandatory amputation next?

Hat tip goes to Drizzten at Magnifisyncopathological

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Das ewige Christentum

Well, this top headline sure jumped out at me from the front page of the Globeobachter as we got bureks in the Market this morning.

Christian activists capturing Tory races

I'm not a Christian, but I'm sick of the stereotypes and innuendo they have to put up with these days. Could any other diversity sector's political engagement be discussed as if it were a rash? From the top:

Christian activists have secured Conservative nominations in clusters of ridings from Vancouver to Halifax -- a political penetration that has occurred even as the party tries to distance itself from hard-line social conservatism.
"activists" "secured" "clusters" "penetration" "distance itself" "hard-line".

Update: Courtesy NealeNews, here's a less artful example, topped off with a quote from John Lennon's "The Imaginternationale".

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Did you ever get one of those "YOU MAY ALREADY BE A MILLIONAIRE!" scam letters in the mail? Did you ever put rocks in the included postage-paid envelope and send it back?

A fine idea from mkbraaten , for our own Socialist Sweepstakes scammers.

How many hundreds of dollars does the Party take from me every week, again?

I wonder how many rocks I would have to mail to make it a wash? Could this help soothe guilty consciences, arising from supporting the Party by holding a job above the "poverty line"?

Remember, every dollar of tax money wasted by ferrying rocks to the PMO is a dollar that doesn't go to the Party.

Trudeaupia rocks!

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Google Biased?

Google is an invaluable resource, but I've noticed a few stories in the news lately that somewhat dampen my enthusiasm.

From Sideline Squawk I found this story:

Web search leader Google Inc. has applied for U.S. and international patents on technology to rank stories on its news site based on the quality of the news source, according to patent applications obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

Google's search engine now automatically scours some 4,500 news sources and highlights stories, typically by popularity and timeliness.

Industry watchers said that over time Google News has come to depend on more established news providers for its content.

As Web logs and other commentary sites proliferate, postings from some have received prominent play within search result pages and on online news-gathering sites. Sometimes, such postings have carried biased or inaccurate claims.

The technology Google is attempting to patent may help the company choose the most reliable information sources, although some Web commentators have said it will create a bias toward mainstream news sources.

According to that patent application, factors determining such rankings would include: the amount of important coverage produced by an identified news source; a human opinion of that source; network traffic to the source; circulation statistics; staff size; breadth of coverage; and the number of bureaus the news source operates.
Some doubt Google's claims that the news stories that appear are randomly chosen:
One of Wednesday's leading news stories - Amnesty calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp - disappeared from the Google News home page pretty sharply.

Google, I'm sure, would insist that its news page is totally automated and that no editorial staff would have shuffled the contentious story off the Google News home page.

Meanwhile over on Yahoo's news page, the story was languishing right at the bottom of a very long page. Despite being listed under 'most popular world news' it didn't make it to the world news section.
First the news service and then the search engines:
"It sounded to me like it would be useful not just for news but for search results as well," said Topix.net Chief Executive Rich Skrenta, who had not reviewed the patent applications.
Google of course has every right to decide what content is displayed to readers, but they shouldn't assert that the material is automated when it seems clear that there is at least some filtering going on. One of the most valuable aspects of google is that users can access a wide range of information, from main stream sources to personal websites and blogs. If google starts playing the censorship game, the most popular search engine might be a little less popular. Don't play nanny with your readers google: let them determine whether the information they receive is 'accurate' and 'free from bias' - and this most emphatically includes the information they receive from the mainstream media. Consensus does not necessarily equal truth.

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I sympathize with those people who have earned (or owned) enough to cross some measure of wealth (picked arbitrarily by a bunch of legislators who had little to do with the production of that wealth) that says they, by the fact that they have more wealth, ought to and will be forced to pay more than everyone else. Bullshit like that doesn't fly at McDonald's, yet it is endorsed again by significant numbers of Americans.
And it's endorsed by even more Canadians.

From today's LFP:

"The province should pay for the care of severely disabled children and reunite families torn apart by its lack of support, Ontario's ombudsman said yesterday in a scathing report."

"Prime Minister Paul Martin defended his recent social spending spree yesterday as part of the "cold arithmetic" necessary to keep his minority Liberal government alive, but promised business leaders he's not about to steer Canada back into deficit.

A week after narrowly surviving a tense budget vote in the House of Commons, Martin was in Toronto to take on critics of the $4.6-billion budget agreement he forged with the New Democrats that allowed the Liberals to avoid a spring election."

"International donors, led by Canada, yesterday pledged an additional $200 million US to fund the African Union peacekeeping operation in Darfur.

The Canadian pledge, by far the largest at a conference to raise money to stop the violence in western Sudan, promised the equivalent of $134 million US."

"Ontario researchers and graduates will receive $1.8 billion over the next four years, Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday.

The money is on top of a $6.2-billion hike in post-secondary funding announced in the budget."

"Investing in cultural infrastructure is just as important as paying for new roads and sewers, federal Labour Minister Joe Fontana said yesterday while announcing $2.9 million in funding for the Stratford Festival.

"We spend tonnes of money on improving fiscal infrastructure, but when it comes down to it, I think it's the social and cultural infrastructure that really defines a country, defines the community," Fontana told reporters following the funding announcement."

"Publicly funded schools in Ontario will receive $61 million starting this fall for new textbooks and other library resources, Education Minister Gerard Kennedy said yesterday."

I am amazed at the conceptual desert that nearly every political commentator has occupied throughout the contemporary discussion of the government’s finances. You'll find a great many people bitching about deficits and almost everyone else saying they have some importance, but don't really matter in the long run. Since the rarity of a large American unit of government posting a "surplus" is so great, the dominating issue is the deficit and whether it should be eradicated or what its proper size should be.

Yet, here I am, thinking in a scream, What's the point of arguing over whether wealth taken through the direct threat of police violence and asset seizure ends up meeting the expenses of government or not? Why is this even being debated? That wealth belongs to the government just as much as the car stereo thief owns the audio equipment he steals from a vehicle; in other words, not at all. A government deficit is simply the binge-spending over and above what that pack of criminals already owe their victims from robbery in the first place, but charged to future generations of victims.

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Memorial Cup runs dry

The big beer tent outside the John Labatt Centre was just a big tent for a little while yesterday. The number of kegs expected to last the entire week was finished off Wednesday night, organizers said, and reinforcements were called in yesterday. Though Molson didn't say exactly how much beer has been downed, there are 37 port-o-potties beside the tent, so you do the math.

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Silly little town…

One of the underreported shortcomings of government is the inability to account for what an individual's compulsory purchases — euphemistically called taxes these days — actually pay for. When I go into a store, I know what I am paying for. When I pay taxes, I've barely got the slightest idea what I am paying for — it all goes into giant playpots for politicians and bureaucrats to dispense for someone else's vote or their own pet projects without my consent. But in London, city council has a plan to let you know where some of the municipal loot — again, revenue is a euphemism — is going. Being London, its no surprise that it may soon be going to enforcing even more controls on what people can do with their own private property — euphemism #3. From the London Free Press:

London city councillors want the city to tackle student-housing problems — with revenue from a beefed-up parking bylaw.

[…] For it to work, the city would have to pass a bylaw letting private lot owners ticket illegally parked cars. The extra revenue would be used to hire bylaw enforcement officers to clean up problems at student housing, such as noise, parking and property standards violations.

"We want to put the money we get from parking enforcement into hiring more bylaw enforcement officers," [Councillor Bernie] MacDonald said. "Then we'll go to zero tolerance on bylaw enforcement — no more two weeks to conform." MacDonald said the changes will force student-housing landlords to keep their properties clean. "And if they don't clean them up in 24 hours, we'll come back and clean it up and slap the cost onto their tax bills," MacDonald said.
But even where we know where the money is going, it's still not what we paid for! Fines are supposed to be punishment, not funding projects.

Not to belittle the problems of residents living near student-housing, but threats and extra bills are hardly an incentive for landlords to invest in their property. It may, however, force landlords to raise their rent, punishing students and moving the problem into other districts of the city — if the demand for temporary throwaway housing for irresponsible student tenants exists, it's going to locate somewhere. It's not an easy problem to solve, but whether it's an issue of eyesores or property values, I've never quite figured out how people have a right either not to be bothered with ugliness or to someone else's valuation of their property. If it's a case of garbage being thrown onto someone else's property, well we already have laws to deal with that. Do we need another diminution of property rights to compensate for the difficulty of enforcing existing property rights?

And how are unintended consequences going to square with the city's apparently good intentions? I don't think the city is concerned with that — one municipal government problem always breeds another excuse to butt in. For example, why does the city need to pass a bylaw allowing private lot owners to ticket illegally parked cars?
Earlier this year, business owners complained they weren't able to hire towing companies to remove illegally parked vehicles from their properties.

Towing companies said it's not worth it for them to yank vehicles from private property because under London's bylaw, drivers are allowed to demand impounded vehicles back for free.

Maybe city councillors can be persuaded to stay on taxpayer-funded vacations — let's make it a year-long annual vacation! One thing I will willingly pay for is for councillors to do absolutely nothing at all. Also from today's tattler:
Nine of 18 city council members will make the trip to St. John's, Nfld., next week for an annual [Federation of Canadian Municipalities] conference that has drawn the ire of ratepayers.

[…] Last year the city sent 12 council members to Edmonton — the second largest contingent after the host city — at a cost of $17,000 to $20,000. It was later revealed none attended a session on budgets despite on-going budget woes and threatened double-digit tax hikes for London.

In 2001, 15 council members travelled to Banff, Alta., for the conference at a cost of about $40,000, and returned to charges that some didn't attend most events.
This is truly a remarkable article for the absolute emptiness of the quoted justifications for attending by the councillors — it sounds like a giant hippyfest with good food for municipal lobby groups. Interestingly, all the hard-core socialist councillors are going — Susan Eagle, Sandy White, Harold Usher and David Winninger. All of it would make fascinating quoting, but by all means go and read it here at your own sensible citizen peril. My message to councillors — STAY THERE!
In other London news, the London Free Press gives more unpaid advertising space to the busybody Urban League of London — they're promoting a concept that sounds like it's straight out of lifestyle magazines, Imagine London:
London should discard board of control and design more and smaller wards based on "communities of interest…"
What are "communities of interest," you ask? No idea, it has something to do with long hyphenated names, but is otherwise left undefined. This is always a suitable strategy when it can be anticipated that policies must be changed later on for political exigency. All I know is that if George Sinclair, Sam Trosow or Gloria McGinn-McTeer are among my geographic neighbours, I'd like to opt out of their "community of interest."

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The Blog World's Version of the CBC

Happy Jack Layton gets a paid advertisement from Rabble:

An editorial in The Globe and Mail refers to it as a “tawdry deal with Jack Layton's New Democrats.” A national columnist (John Ibbitson, The Globe and Mail) refers to the Liberals selling “their souls and their budget to the NDP�” Another columnist (Andrew Coyne, National Post) writes “The spending discipline that was promised in February was stuffed in a $4.6-billion envelope and passed to the NDP.” So is Jack Layton taking that money home with him or is it public money that will be used to provide programs that many Canadians want?

That same editorial goes on to say, scornfully, “Thanks to last night's vote, the NDP will get its wish list fulfilled, and the public purse will be $4.6-billion lighter.”

But there are other opinions about this budget.

“It's not perfect, but it is the best federal budget we have seen in the last thirty years,” said Andrew Jackson, National Director of Social and Economic Policy for the Canadian Labour Congress. “The significant increases in social investment will promote a more equal, prosperous and sustainable society and must survive partisan positioning.”

Notable improvements include smarter investment in child care, urban and environmental infrastructure and labour training, said Jackson, adding that the overall revised budget more accurately reflects the priorities of working families.

[..] Russell said that the government would have sufficient resources to pay for all of the new spending outlined in the government's original budget, as well as the $4.6 billion in new measures, with room left over. The analyses of all of the independent forecasters engaged by the House of Commons Finance Committee indicate that this additional spending could be accommodated without incurring a deficit.
Rabble.ca: brought to you courtesy of the taxpayer.
The Catholic Civil Rights League today called on Aileen Carroll, Minister of International Cooperation, to review the funding relationship between CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) and rabble.ca, an e-zine whose current edition features a strongly anti-Catholic cartoon caricature of Pope Benedict XVI. In the animated cartoon, the pope repeatedly marches to a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, then gives a Nazi salute with the caption "Heil Mary."

Rabble.ca, published by well-known Canadian feminist Judy Rebick, is a project of Alternatives, a Montreal-based NGO funded by CIDA. One World Canada, also a project of Alternatives, is a partner of Rabble. However circuitous the route, at least some taxpayers' money appears to be going to this publication.

In its letter to Mrs. Carroll, CCRL stated, "The league does not believe that any public money should be directed to a publication that freely insults Catholics, or indeed any other identifiable group. No matter how small the amount involved may be, it is unacceptable. We urge you to review this funding relationship."

To express your concerns to Minister Carroll email: carroa@parl.gc.ca
Where's the London Fog's share of the loot? Swallowed up by the rabble as usual.

HT to Nealenews for the story.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

...victim eat victim eat victim eat...

June 10 was announced as Gay Pride Day in Yellowknife -- but their overly tolerant mayor has also declared June 9 to be Heterosexual Day.

"We thought every day was heterosexual day," said Don Babey of OutNorth, a group that represents Yellowknife gays and lesbians and that made the initial request for Gay Pride Day."

"Will the city partner Black History Month in February with White Heritage Month later in the year?" Babey asked.
That would be the slightly less racist thing to do, yes. But concentrating on irrelevant racial distinctions between people is still racist, however "inclusive" you are in your bigotry. On the other hand, your neurotic need to bother strangers with unwanted details of your sex life only presents a psychological puzzle for the rest of us to justly mock.
"Will the days and weeks marking physical ailments, such as heart disease and strokes, be paired with an equal number of days that will celebrate good health?"
So, alternative racial and lifestyle choices are akin to suffering from a disease? Good thing Cryin' Babey didn't make that homophobic, racist analogy within earshot of Joyce Burpee, 'cause he'd be up on Human Rights charges in no time.

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Stuck in a broken elevator and falling fast

Liberals may seek own vote if defeated

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

Although no final strategy has been decided, Ms. Redman said the government could respond to a defeat by bringing in a motion on whether the government has the confidence of Parliament to make sure MPs actually want an election.
No need to cut your vacations short to attend Parliament sessions Liberal MP's - you'll only be called when it's necessary to secure the regime.
Unlike the Conservative motion that passed earlier this month calling on the government to resign, Ms. Redman said the Liberals do not dispute that the money votes between now and the end of the session are clear matters of confidence and are taking each one seriously.

The government must bring in money or "supply" motions before the end of the session for the Commons to approve the government's $188-billion operating budget for 2005-2006.

"It's my job to make sure nobody gets stuck in an elevator," said Ms. Redman, who is responsible for staying on top of the whereabouts of all Liberal MPs.
HT: Nealenews

Update: Trodwell from RightThinkingPeople:
[..] will somebody have to actually get a full-colour videotape of Paul Martin in a hula skirt and Nazi helmet feasting on human flesh and drinking absinthe out of Sir John A. MacDonald’s skull before Canadians are willing to dump these jokers?

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Creative Cities the Cuban Way



HT: gm

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A case for the black market - Part II

More unbiased reporting from no other than the CBC:

A majority of Canadian employees surveyed believe people who engage in unhealthy habits should pay more for their healthcare coverage.

In an Ipsos-Reid poll of 1,500 employees with supplementary health programs, 54 per cent said the cost of employee health benefit plans should be higher for employees who smoke, don't exercise or are seriously overweight. The survey was commissioned by Sanofi-Aventis, the world's third-largest pharmaceutical company.
I agree that an individual's insurance premiums should reflect relevant risk factors but dare I ask the stupid question of how we determine whether someone is lazy or not? Clearly it is not just obese people who fail to exercise. Shall we follow the example of the Chinese and force employees to engage in morning calisthenics if they want to keep their jobs? As for smokers, if they don't smoke at work, the only way to determine if they indulge in the evil weed is to subject them to mandatory testing. I suppose most Canadian's don't have a problem with that, just like they don't seem to mind that the government here blatantly rips them off for at least $355 Million, not including the billions stolen through taxation.

Around 70 per cent of the respondents said that employees who do not smoke should pay less for coverage.

About 63 per cent agreed the government should promote healthy living by providing tax credits or deductions for personal gym memberships or recreational fees.
Stop right there! This amounts to non-smokers and smokers alike paying for other's choices. There's enough trough money being funnelled into recreation and entertainment as it is.
Almost 70 per cent said they'd be willing to pay a small fee - such as $5 - for some publicly funded services, if the money were invested in services such as home or community care, palliative care or costly drugs.

[..] The survey suggests services people would be willing to pay for include a visit to the emergency room, to the doctor's office, or for a day in the hospital.
Does 'willing' mean that this is desired or were the respondent's possible responses limited by the terms of the question? Why the hell shouldn't people pay for what they require? Because something is necessary for survival, it does not thereby entail entitlement at another's expense. Food is necessary for survival too, but we've no 'right' to food if that entails theft of another's property. Looting the grocer to feed the bums is theft, plain and simple, despite attempts by language illiterate bandits like John Clarke to justify their actions:
Clarke rejected the use of the word shoplifting.

But, he said, "We unquestionably took the food without asking permission from Loblaws (and) we today delivered a bill to McGuinty.

"And we would say that the Liberals should, through either government enactment or out of their own personal pockets, that they should pay for that amount."
If 'private' health care is ever allowed in Liberal Canada, it won't come without strings attached - you'll end up paying an inflated user fee to finance the ever failing public system.

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Compare and Contrast

From March 21, 2005:

London's downtown cameras aren't bringing down the crime rate, a new study has found. And one of the downtown's council champions says it may be time to review the system.

[..] The $200,000, 16-camera system, paid for through donations, initially cost about $240,000 a year to run. It now operates on an annual budget of $117,000, using part-time monitors.

[..] Lindsey Elwood, chairperson of the downtown Business Improvement Area, agreed it may be time to review the initiative.

But Elwood said there's no need to abandon the camera program, especially since the cameras are paid for and in place.

[..] "I think it's more of a perception about safety," Elwood said. "Sometimes perception is not reality and I don't think it's an accurate perception. If I go downtown at 3 a.m., I don't feel threatened. I feel safe."
From today's LFP:
Downtown cameras could not shed light on who vandalized a military display with anti-war slogans, London police said yesterday. A camera pointing over the square at Covent Garden Market didn't belong to the city and apparently wasn't recording at the time. Another camera wasn't angled properly. Two green tents, an engineering vehicle and a vintage Second World War vehicle, were hit early Monday. The vehicles are part of a display for Memorial Cup fans
From yesterday's LFP:
The Memorial Cup crowd was swelling, the fans were buzzing and the Covent Garden Market was . . . closed?

On the third official day of one of the biggest events in London's history, the doors were locked and the lights were off at one of the city's downtown gems, leaving hockey-loving visitors more than a little surprised.

"I'm shocked. I want to go in there to eat," said Londoner Marjorie Quehl, who had tickets to last night's Knights game. "I can't believe it's closed."

Bob Usher, the market's general manager, said it was financial concerns that led vendors to close up shop for Victoria Day.

The thousands of hockey fans filling downtown daily haven't translated into major market business, Usher said.
Councillor Ab Chabar:
"Our economy for that period is going to be incredibly booming," Coun. Ab Chahbar said. "It's going to be incredible."
I unfortunately remained in the city over the long weekend and so witnessed first hand the empty restaurants and downtown stores. My bet is the hockey fans were either eating at home or at MacDonald's to compensate for the high price of beer.

But we knew it was all about the JLC in the first place, despite Anne-Marie's insistence that the tournament would be good for the community and downtown businesses. From March 27, 2005:
The committee organizing the Memorial Cup is trying to "maximize dollars" by holding a ticketed opening ceremony at the John Labatt Centre instead of a free parade, a prominent downtown business leader argues. "The Memorial Cup is supposed to be a community event. We've lost track of that," Lindsey Elwood, who chairs the downtown Business Improvement Area, said yesterday.

The committee's efforts to boost its profits take away from the community's involvement and "have left the business community out in the cold," he said.

[..] The BIA, with MainStreet London, paid $37,000 to be a Cup sponsor, based on a plan that's changed, Elwood said -- something he said was "inappropriate."

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

In other news, the Liberals won the latest byelection…

Do legal firms donate heavily to the Liberals just to hedge their bets that favour gently caresses the cheeks and behinds of donors to the continuing natural and moral governing party of Canada? Or, like the Democrats, are the Liberals ideologically compatible with the innate law-breeding inclinations of lawyers? Probably both, in that lawyers love laws, and that from a strictly mercenary position it pays to be on the winning side. In return, the Liberals might need all the legal help they can get…

From AGWN:

The funds [from the so-called trust fund the party has set up to pay back stolen money] will be managed by the Ottawa law firm of Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP. The trustees have been directed to disburse the funds based on a decision of the National Executive of the LPC, to be made at the conclusion of the Gomery Inquiry and if necessary for further clarity, the criminal and civil actions related to the Sponsorship Program. Any decision of the National Executive with respect to reimbursement of these funds, and the rationale for it, will be made public.

Donations from Perley-Robertson:
  • $2,248,31 to the Liberal Party in 1993
  • $168.24 to the Liberal Party in 1994
  • $1,479.63 to the Liberal Party in 1995
  • $46,161.68 to the Liberal Party in 1997 (Wow!)
  • $7,916.78 to the Liberal Party in 1998
  • $3,991.20 to the Liberal Party in 2000
  • $3,806.00 to the Liberal Party in 2001
  • $289.00 to the [Canadian Alliance] in 2002
  • $5,212.70 to the Liberal Party in 2002
  • $1,000.00 to the [Canadian Alliance] in 2003
  • $4,214.70 to the Liberal Party in 2003
[…] given the ethical sensitivities at play with everything to do with the Sponsorship Program, I am surprised that no one thought at the PMO that the law firm selected to manage the trust fund should be one that has had no significant links to the Liberal Party.

But here is the scary thought — what if they thought that would be a good idea, but couldn't find such a law firm?
More bad news… Kroll accountants, brought in to look over the Sponsorship Program accounting, have identified $2 million in cheques going into the Liberal Party's coffers — and that doesn't include the cash. But they're not that greedy — the profit margins turn out to be only slightly higher:
The total amount of money lost in the sponsorship scandal now appears to be $355 million — more than $100 million than was originally thought.

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London make-work jobs being lost…

… and society soon to follow. Strangely, nobody will notice. According to the London Free Press, Londoners will now be unable to find employment without federal assistance despite the multitude of help-wanted signs all around town, and, worse yet, agency mandarins are so personally devastated they are retiring to their clubhouses and summer cottages in despair.

A $2.9-million federal funding cut will hurt more than 2,400 people a year trying to get jobs and lead to layoffs of 55 service workers in London, local business and employment leaders warn.

[…] "The ultimate effect will be devastating," council co-chairperson Anne Langille said. People who could have found work will instead be on social assistance and employers will have a hard time finding employees, she said.

The cuts have been so devastating they prompted the executive director of Goodwill Industries, Bill Stewart, to retire in September, a half year before he had planned.
The Free Press reporter haplessly and unblinkingly repeats the standard social agency push-button scares delivered to him in a form letter:
Youths, immigrants, disabled people, natives, women hoping to re-enter the workforce and would-be entrepreneurs will get much less help, if any, because of new rules limiting access to employment services, the London and Middlesex Employment Sector Council says.
Just like government jobs posted on the HRDC website, white males need not apply or even aspire to generic media sympathy for their unemployed status.

The 55 service workers shouldn't be too hard-pressed to find new employment marketing their ration-line empathy and assembly-line placement and training skills in a country where 50% of the economy is controlled by the government. I would suggest the up-and-coming child care industry.
Complicating matters, Belinda Stronach has landed in [the ministry of human resources and skills development] after defecting from the Tories last week.
Every gift has a price tag…


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Why do Ontarians keep supporting the Liberals?

Ontario top lead polluter

Ontario has the highest lead pollution in North America and Canadian industrial facilities are listed as the top three offenders, a pollution watchdog report shows.
A Historical Perspective
Still more alarming was the conspicuous pattern of mental incompetence that came to be synonymous with the Roman elite. This creeping cretinism manifested itself most frighteningly in such clearly degenerate emperors as Caligula, Nero, and Commodus. It is said that Nero wore a breastplate of lead, ostensibly to strengthen his voice, as he fiddled and sang while Rome burned.

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A case for the black market

The hysteria over smoking continues to escalate and as predicted, it's stinking up the private sector:

Some Canadian companies are following an American trend of refusing to hire smokers, even if they smoke in their off hours.

A group of Canadian online companies, headed by Momentus.ca, have made it clear on their websites that they only hire non-smokers. It's a policy aimed at lowering health-related costs for employers.

"It's well known that a smoker will get sick more frequently, will miss more time from work, even at work the smoker will likely be away from actual work longer than non-smokers ... and will actually cost the employer a fair amount of money," says Dr. Lew Pliamm of the Quit Clinic in Toronto.
In my experience, it is mothers with children that miss more work, but you don't hear about companies refusing to hire parents. I can see a company charging a smoker more for benefits and health insurance, but in today's nanny state that's not enough - it's more fun to force those with habits you don't share to quit or face unemployment.

Not to worry though smokers - the medical ethicists are there to support us:
Medical ethicists say smokers should not be treated like pariahs because it's an addiction.

"The fact that I may be at greater risk for cardiovascular disease or for other health problems because I'm a smoker isn't necessarily my fault and it shouldn't make me subject to discrimination," says ethicist Arthur Schafer of the University of Manitoba.
Did you ever consider that most people who smoke do so because they enjoy it? It's discrimination alright, but not for the reasons you cite Mr. Schafer. It's discrimination to judge a person's behaviour at work based on factors that do not necessarily influence their performance.

Companies like Weyco disagree:
"We offer many incentives for employees to make healthy lifestyle choices," Weyers says. "Compliance is voluntary, and the result has been a demonstrable improvement in wellness. Still, anyone concerned about limiting employers' right to specify terms of employment should know that federal law protects people with conditions like obesity, alcoholism and AIDS. But there's no right to indulge in tobacco use," he emphasizes.
If it's not bad enough that you work half the year for the benefit of the statists, companies like Weyco are joining the nannies and forcing compliance to 'healthy habits'. Worse yet, people currently employed with certain US companies might be forced to quit if they value their leisure time. What ever happened to judging an employee on the basis of his actual performance at work??!! If a person misses work and takes more breaks than he is entitled to, then they should be disciplined accordingly - but not before.
Companies in Canada are watching the American situation closely. At Weyco Medical Benefits in Michigan, workers aren't allowed to smoke at work or at home.

"We want a healthy workforce," says Howard Weyer, the company's president.

Weyco gave its employers two years' notice about its no-smoking policy and provided products and programs to help them quit. In the end, 20 workers did kick their habits and four were fired.

[..] American companies are more likely to take the hard line because they pay their employees' health insurance premiums.

Canadian companies are taking note because smokers still cost an estimated $8 billion a year in lost productivity. Smokers are absent two days more a year on average than their non-smoking counterparts and they take extended lunches and breaks, adding up to another 14 days of lost productivity.

At the moment, employers in Canada can't fire their workers for smoking but they are allowed to advertise for non-smokers only.

The Quit Clinic's Pliamm says as more employers adopt non-smoking policies, smokers may be more apt to quit their habit.

"If they know that they won't be able to progress in life, to get to where they want to be because of their smoking, this gives them one added benefit in quitting."
Thanks for caring. Here's blowing smoke into your meddling eye.

Weyco also takes an interest in the fatties it seems:
A Michigan health care company that fired four employees for smoking is also targeting fat.

Howard Weyers, the founder of Weyco Inc., said he wants to tell fat workers to lose weight or else, Reuters reported.

Weyers brought in weight experts to speak with employees, according to Reuters. The company also offers employees a $35 monthly incentive for joining a health club and $65 for meeting fitness goals.
I wonder what Weyers would have to say about the CEO for Momentous.ca Corp who admits to watching "a ton of TV to relax."

Hat tip to my brother for the CBC story.

Continue reading…

Trouble in Poundmaker

Update June 10, 2005: From Catprint in the Mash:
Battlefords Tribal Council dissolved?

650 CKOM/980 CJME is reporting that the First Nations that make up the Battlefords Tribal Council are removing themselves from the council. They are reported to be setting up another council, one more responsive to the needs of the the people.

The First Nations that are "represented" by the council include: Little Pine First Nation, Lucky Man Cree Nation, Moosomin First Nation, Mosquito First Nation, Poundmaker Cree Nation, Red Pheasant First Nation, and Sweetgrass First Nation.

It appears that the people are driving accountability across that area. For more information on the entity known as the Battlefords Tribal Council and some of the reasons for the break, you can read about it on Janice Switlo's site.
Update June 8, 2005:Lance from Catprint in the Mash, the blogger on the street for the Poundmaker story, has a new post up with some more history about the situation. Read it here. And he's got Donation Button back on his site.

Lance's previous posts: Sit-in @ Poundmaker
Poundmaker 2
There and back again
Jacob's place

Poundmaker Working Group Mission Statement:
To appeal to the Poundmaker people that we are the sole power and authority on decisions that affect us personally and as an organization.

That together we seek help from the Creator to help us to a way of life which is free of dictatorship, free of fear to think, act and speak and free to get together on issues that affect us.

That together we can achieve progress and development without compromising our dignity, our honesty, our values and not having to worry about being judged for past reckless ways.

That together we can draw strength from one another and even defend those who are not present in discussions.

Update: Blank Out Times has suggested a Poundmaker Freedom Book Drive — check here for more details.
What the people of Canada of all races need is freedom. What can help the process of reform and change is genuine compassion. That is not what the Indian Act, or the Band Chief kleptocracy, or the professional apologists in government or with the bands are based upon. Individuals helping individuals: With education, not propaganda; with charity not welfare.
Publius, Gods of the Copybook Headings

Darcey from Dust my broom continues to cover the resistance of the Poundmaker Working Group to a criminal and unaccountable government at the Poundmaker First Nation near Battleford, Saskatchewan.
They are running rampant with leaders who think they can get away with mismanagement, embezzlement, larceny, bribery, intimidation…
For some background — from the Star-Phoenix, May 4, 2005:
The problem-plagued Poundmaker Cree Nation is experiencing more tumult after dozens of band members took over the office of the chief and council on Tuesday, saying they plan to remain there until a new election is called. Many band members allege the results of last year’s vote, which gave Chief Ted Antoine his fourth consecutive term, are erroneous.

“There’s no election regulations in place. There’s no order,” said Eric Tootoosis, spokesperson for the protesters, who call themselves the Poundmaker First Nation Working Group. He is concerned about Antoine’s leadership, particularly as the band enters an agreement with the Department of Natural Resources for the oil and gas under Poundmaker, 60 kilometres west of North Battleford.

“We want that in adequate hands, to be controlled by proper minds. We don’t want anybody going crazy on our money and misusing it,” said Tootoosis. “We’ve already made too many people into millionaires as it is.”

Antoine couldn’t be reached for comment. In the past, he has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for untendered contracts while other councillors have received band contracts from him. Accounting records from 1998-2003 indicate more than $304,000 from provincial gaming revenues and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) flowed to councillors, some band members and Antoine — who used it for vehicle insurance and spending at a local store, rather than improving life on the reserve.

In 2001, the day before a number of files were to be turned over to federal officials conducting a band audit, the band office was burned down. The audit, intended to verify the propriety of payments, was ordered by INAC at the request of the RCMP.

People on the reserve “have had enough of the state of the band dictatorship,” said Tootoosis. An appeal was launched immediately following the May 17, 2004, election but there has been no action.
More information can be found at Janice Switlo's site — Enough is Enough.
Update: I will reproduce here Edward T. Bear's caveat.
Reading Janice Switlo's Essays and Articles are Dangerous To Your Ability To Remain Wholly Ignorant of Aboriginal Rights in Canada. Symptoms include developing a keener understanding of the legal position of your indigenous neighbors, as well as an appreciation for the outrageous and incredibly twisted approach to "The Indian Problem" by FedGovCorp.

Look Away! Avert Your Eyes! Do NOT... I repeat Do NOT read Janice Switlo's research and analysis if you want to stay confined to your comfortable worn-out "White Paper" ideas about the plight of Aboriginals in Canada.
Am I over my head here? Wouldn't be the first time…

Blank Out Times is also putting up some history posts, which should perhaps come prefaced with the same above disclaimer. Not for the faint-hearted:

A Brief History Of The Unintended Consequences of Aboriginal Policy in Canada : Part I,
A Brief History of the Unintended Consequences of Aboriginal Police in Canada: Part II,
The Unintended Consequences of Aboriginal Policy in Canada: part III,
The Unintended Consequences of Aboriginal Policy in Canada: part IV,
A Brief History Of The "Unintended Consequences" Of Aboriginal Policy in Canada: Part V,
and A Brief History Of The "Unintended Consequences" Of Aboriginal Policy in Canada: Part VI,
and A Brief History Of The "Unintended Consequences" Of Aboriginal Policy in Canada: Part VIII.
So far… I have a feeling there's more to come…

Update: Fancy that, there is more: A Brief History Of The "Unintended Consequences" Of Aboriginal Policy in Canada: Part VII. If this keeps up, I'll never get any work done.

For more legal and historical iconoclasm, check out Janice Switlo's site. There's a wealth of documents and editorial opinions here. I link it here as a personal bookmark as well.
For those less ambitious, suggestions for assistance for the protesters include cell phones and groceries. The group can be reached at:
Poundmaker Working Group;
Dianne J.Tootoosis
Box 490
Cut Knife,Sask.
For Monetary Donations;
Dianne J.Tootoosis
Cut Knife Royal Bank
Savings Account # 7000763
Transit # 1768

For more information,please call Dianne at Home # 306-398-4072 Cell #306-481-1007

Update: Ian is starting a grocery run for the Poundmaker Working Group. Paypal and interac are accepted for contributions.

Lance from Catprint in the Mash is making a grocery run this weekend, with promises of blogging about it. Lucky man, I look forward to hearing what he has to say about it.
Blank Out Times suggests:
Take a few minutes to call the Minister of Indian Affairs. Call the Deputy Ministers of Indian Affairs. Call the Prime Minister's Office. Call members of the press. Keep calling until you can talk to a live person. Express your outrage and anger. Let them know that you care. Call your local MP. If you are in Saksatchewan, call your MLA. Send Emails. Send Letters. Then, get members of your family and friends to also make these calls. Keep a running account of your efforts.
…encourage people to write to their politicians, the RCMP (especially about the lack of responsiveness to security issues of the protestors) [, and the DIA (Dept. of Indian Affairs), and the PMO]…

If the politicians know that non-natives are watching… and the RCMP knows this as well… that will keep them from continuing to sweep these kinds of situations under the rug. [I]t might also make sense to write to Fontaine at the AFN… or call. Ask him what he is doing to support the protestors who want their band government cleaned up. Remind him that Matthew CoonCome didn't ignore people like he is doing. Get him start thinking about this issue in terms of his next campaign for AFN leadership.
Current entries about Poundmaker at Dust my broom are:
Trouble in Poundmaker,
Trouble in Poundmaker II,
Poundmaker Working Group press release,
Poundmaker Update,
Another Drum Beating,
Poundmaker — Star-Phoenix,
Poundmaker — request for support,
Poundmaker press release,
Poundmaker Grocery Run,
Poundmaker — $500 raised,
Poundmaker Grocery Run Update,
Poundmaker — Trip Details,
Poundmaker update — rain,
and Poundmaker reflections.
I'll try to keep this list updated. Check out Dust my broom for additions.

Darcey has also succeeded in attracting the interest of a growing number of bloggers with whom this story resonates — particularly these days in Canada — although it is virtually unreported in the media. Darcey calls these bloggers the Poundmaker Blogger Alliance. To this date, that loose affiliation includes: Bumfonline - Update, Update, Update, Update | Ianism - Update, Update, Update | Gods of The Copybook Headings - Update, Update | Being American in TO - Update, Update | Catprint in the Mash - Update, Update, Update | Small Dead Animals, Update, Update | Gen X at 40 | Mitchieville - Update | Blank Out Times - Update, Update | Stupid Angry Canajun | The Freeway to Serfdom | PolSpy | Ermilla - Update | The Amazing Wonderdog | Gin and Tonic | Babble on | Autonomous Source | Just Say It - Update, | As Twisted by Dave | MaxedOutMama | The Last Amazon.
[Note: this list is updated by Dust my broom.] Again, check out Dust my broom for links to other blogs.
As usual, the last word, just like the first word, should come from Publius at Gods of the Copybook Headings:
This neat scam, financed by the Canadian taxpayers - though the real victims are the Aboriginals - has run into a snag. It seems, to borrow an old imperialist phrase, the natives are restless. Which is exactly the smug attitude one should expect from the MSM, the Department of Indian Affairs (or whatever the hell they're calling it now) and the band Chiefs. The new imperialists have much in common with the old, except the old would occasionally provide some positive benefits to those being ruled.

[…] Canada also granted its subject peoples independence. Just like other old imperialists the Canadian government replaced its old colonial budget with a new colonial budget. The new term in Canada was development assistance, the same type of euphemism as foreign aid. In Canada the term for independence was self government. What that meant was that accountability in how government funds were spent would henceforth be non-existent. The western governments of the 1970s and 1980s didn't ask how their foreign aid money was being spent. Such an act of intrusion into the affairs of now sovereign states was a form of neo-colonialism. The Canadian government behaved in the same way toward our "First Nations."

No matter how many black eyed women, gasoline sniffing juveniles and drunken Indians began appearing on the nightly news casts the blame was always whitey's. We interfered before, reasoned the bien pensants, look what happened. Let's just stay clear. It's an internal matter. To assuage our guilt we'll just send a cheque. To me the aboriginal population of Canada are Canadians. If we treat them as something separate, something to which - literally - the laws of Canada cannot apply we will never truly give a damn. We can treat them as ex-colonial subjects. We can buy into the post-colonial line about exploitation and long term cultural damage. We can continue to sign the cheques. We can continue to be damn smug about it all. Or we can raise one hell of a fuss. A group at the Poundmaker Reserve are making a fuss. A few bloggers are making a fuss. This time it isn’t about whitey. It hasn’t been about whitey for some time. The Japanese in Canada had their property confiscated and their liberty revoked during the Second World War. Their fate was in some ways harsher than that of the Aboriginals. Yet, they have succeeded.

Perhaps the real reason the Japanese, the Indian Indians, the Chinese and many others succeeded in Canada was because no one tried to help. No one felt guilty about the injustices leveled at them until long after they can became successful members of Canadian society. Racism wasn’t the problem as much as welfare handouts.
Read the whole thing here — it will be worth your time.
Speaking of Gods of the Copybook Headings and Blank Out Times, there's an interesting …um, salvo going on over at their respective blogs. These being two of the most interesting blogs of which I know, I find the crossfire edifying, which I also find to be a satisfactorily bland and neutral thing for me to say — completely unlike the two abovementioned blogs!

From Gods: We Are All Canadians, Freedom Not Assimilation, and The Wrong Conspiracy.

From Blank Out: Pooh Puts on His Little Historian Hat, Eeyore Deals With "Two Stupid Questions" From Publius, and Pooh Offers Another Thought to Publius

Update: Some common ground is sought out here: Pooh Responds to Publius. This is a fine and informative exchange between two of the most interesting and historically mindful blogs out there.

Continue reading…