December 14, 2006


This article is a bit dated, but still a good read...

Tribute to Canada: Salute to a brave and modest nation
By: Kevin Myers, The Sunday Telegraph

LONDON - Until the deaths last week of four Canadian soldiers accidentally killed by a U.S. Warplane in Afghanistan, probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops were deployed in the region. And as always, Canada will now bury its dead, just as the rest of the world as always will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does.

It seems that Canada's historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored. Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall, waiting for someone to come and ask her for a dance. A fire breaks out, she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers, and suffers serious injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the dancing resumes, there is Canada, the wallflower still, while those she once helped glamorously cavort across the floor, blithely neglecting her yet again.

That is the price Canada pays for sharing the North American continent with the United States, and for being a selfless friend of Britain in two global conflicts. For much of the 20th century, Canada was torn in two different directions: It seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an address in the new one, and that divided identity ensured that it never fully got the gratitude it deserved.

Yet its purely voluntary contribution to the cause of freedom in two world wars was perhaps the greatest of any democracy. Almost 10% of Canada's entire population of seven million people served in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died. The great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops, perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle. Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect, its unique contribution to victory being absorbed into the popular memory as somehow or other the work of the "British."

The Second World War provided a rerun. The Canadian navy began the war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half of the Atlantic against U-boat attack. More than 120 Canadian warships participated in the Normandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone. Canada finished the war with the third-largest navy and the fourth-largest air force in the world.

The world thanked Canada with the same sublime indifference as it had the previous time. Canadian participation in the war was acknowledged in film only if it was necessary to give an American actor a part in a campaign in which the United States had clearly not participated - a touching scrupulousness which, of course, Hollywood has since abandoned, as it has any notion of a separate Canadian identity.

So it is a general rule that actors and filmmakers arriving in Hollywood keep their nationality - unless, that is, they are Canadian. Thus Mary Pickford, Walter Huston, Donald Sutherland, Michael J. Fox, William Shatner, Norman Jewison, David Cronenberg, Alex Trebek, Art Linkletter, and Dan Aykroyd have in the popular perception become American, and Christopher Plummer, British. It is as if, in the very act of becoming famous, a Canadian ceases to be Canadian, unless she is Margaret Atwood, who is as unshakably Canadian as a moose, or Celine Dion, for whom Canada has proved quite unable to find any takers.

Moreover, Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements of its sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely unaware of them. The Canadians proudly say of themselves - and are unheard by anyone else - that 0.5% of the world's population has provided 10% of the world's peacekeeping forces. Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest peacekeepers on Earth - in 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on non-UN peacekeeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia. Yet the only foreign engagement that has entered the popular on-Canadian imagination was the sorry affair in Somalia, in which out-of-control paratroopers murdered two Somali infiltrators. Their regiment was then disbanded in disgrace - a uniquely Canadian act of self-abasement for which, naturally, the Canadians received no international credit.

So who today in the United States knows about the stoic and selfless friendship its northern neighbour has given it in Afghanistan? Rather like Cyrano de Bergerac, Canada repeatedly does honourable things for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it remains something of a figure of fun.

It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost. Recently four more grieving Canadian families knew that cost all too tragically well.


Free trade must be fair, for both sides...

From: The New York Sun

The Canadian Drug War
November 30, 2006

The new Democratic congressional majority hasn't refined its health agenda yet, but getting more senior citizens access to cheaper drugs sold in Canada is sure to be right up there.

And, why shouldn't it? Prescription drugs cost less in Canada, even American-made ones. Many of the big fans of importing drugs from Canada represent states that border on Canada - Senators Dorgan of North Dakota and Snowe of Maine. Others, such as Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, have merely heard about the deal the Canadians offer. Their constituents see that Canada's state-dominated system gets its citizens better prices.

These days, grandparents are like professional traders, regular arbitrageurs. They demand lease contracts tight enough to make car dealers squeal, and hunt the Internet for the best prices on everything from mutual funds to condominiums.

It seems only right that this crowd should be able to add their Lipitor or Fosamax, to name two senior staples, to that list of savvy transactions.

Yet this particular market transaction is more complex than it seems. Prescription drugs produced by American companies are indeed cheaper in Canada, but not because drug companies want them that way. They are cheaper because Canada imposes price controls on drugs. Americans pay the full amount; Canadians, and the rest of the world for that matter, don't. In the case of Canada, drug companies decided long ago that forgoing top prices was a trade-off worth making in order to be present in a significant North American market.

As a result, purchases of such drugs from Canada by customers in America have grown enormously. This past year, Brett Skinner, the director of health and pharmaceutical policy research at the free-market, Vancouver-based Fraser Institute, found that Americans spent about $500 million at some 275 Canada-based online drug vendors. American Internet orders continue apace even though America's new Medicare prescription-drug benefit has kicked in and the Canadian dollar has surged against America's currency.

Naturally, Big Pharma hates this. It notes that drugs still under patent in the America are often classed as generic by Canadian authorities. When Americans order those generics from Canada they are committing theft of valuable intellectual property. What's more, some drugs from virtual pharmacies are counterfeits doctored with sawdust, concrete, or worse.

Some observers say the industry's problem may be self-correcting. The results of the November 7 election were barely in when the Canadian Pharmacists' Association, the Best Medicines Coalition, and all the other groups representing traditional brick-and-mortar drug stores in Canada, began lobbying for a national law banning such exports. The old-fashioned pharmacists understood that eventually American companies would curtail supply.

Indeed, Mr. Skinner points out that 10 of the largest brand-drug companies, including Pfizer Inc., Merck & Co., and Abbott Laboratories, are already showing signs of doing so. In this case, it may be unnecessary for President Bush to veto any drug-importation law written by the Democrats. The Canadians will do the vetoing for him.

Yet in the longer term, this story of market transactions is not so benign. For grandparents who can order from Canada can also order from South Africa, Asia, or Europe. Unchecked, this sort of importation will continue. In the end, the effect will be to force the companies to cut their prices in America.

That would be just fine, except that drug companies need American profits to fund new drug development. What American politicians ought to be doing is helping those companies defend their rights overseas and in Canada so that other countries pay full price for a valuable product. Then the producers wouldn't need to charge so much in America. But without the cash, the drug companies will stop innovating.

If you think this is so much pharmaceutical industry spin, consider Europe, the original drug innovator.

Over the years, governments and insurers have forced companies to drop their prices below American levels. Importing or re-importing from other European countries, Africa, or wherever is cheapest, has also put pressure on prices. As a result, European drug companies have moved much business to America. Or they have stayed in Europe and curtailed availability of drugs to European patients.

Fuzeon, a hot new anti-retroviral for HIV, is a good example. Fuzeon takes 106 steps to produce, and costs $20,000 per patient for a year in America. In Europe, however, as Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute points out, government budget caps have limited the drug's availability, even though the maker, Roche Holding AG, is based in Basel, Switzerland. What's more, Mr. Bate notes, Fuzeon is one of very few HIV products made by European companies. The best new drugs tend to come from America.

Mr. Bate also says the other drugs that are hard to get in Europe tend to be the costliest - anti-cancer drugs, for example. Europe spends relatively more on surgery or medical treatment because it caps drug spending.

"If you want to know what the U.S. will look like if the government prices down in the U.S., think worse than Europe," he says.

Every year that Americans pay full price for drugs is a year that innovation continues. So even little steps, such as protecting American patents or rejecting imports, including cheap knock-off drugs, are a help.

In other words, there is an additional contract at issue here, beyond the short-term one between the octogenarian and the Internet pharmacy. It is the intergenerational contract between senior citizens and their great-grandchildren. If cheaper drugs today mean no new drugs tomorrow, seniors may reconsider whether the Canada deal is one they want the Democrats to make.

Miss Shlaes is a visiting senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and is a Bloomberg News columnist.

Copyright 2006 - The New York Sun


A lesson for those thinking about supporting the Green Party...

Elizabeth May:
  1. was a party leader getting national attention (and LOTS of it!)
  2. ran in a riding with a huge student/professor population
  3. contested a by-election, where the results didn't really matter
  4. ran at a time when the environment is actually a prominent issue
and she still came 4000 votes shy of the prize. If this isn't troubling news for the Greens, I don't know what is. This was the best chance they were going to get, and they still couldn't pull it off!!!

Jim Harris was willing to support energy deregulation because it encouraged the use of alternative energy sources by offering consumers to choose solar power, micro-turbines, etc. There is no doubt that energy deregulation encourages this and allows consumers to say "I want solar power to save the environment."

Elizabeth May is not. She is for regulated power despite the fact that it has a terrible environmental track record. There is no incentive for protecting the environment. When governments want to spend more money on health care or schools the easiest way to do so is to switch to a cheaper, dirtier energy source.

The fact that Elizabeth May doesn’t care means that she puts her quest for global socialism above that of the environment. Jim Harris was a true environmentalist who, while wanting to keep our economy working, really did want to reduce carbon emissions.

Another test is the ICON pipeline - the only workable idea right now that is able to reduce CO2 emissions by any measurable amount. What it would also do is take the big oil sands projects off the hook for emissions. Jim Harris supports it. Elizabeth May does not. One cares about CO2 emissions, one does not. Do not confuse the two.


An honourable man...

From: The Washington Post

A Canadian Indian's Age-Old Call to U.S. Duty
Corporal Killed in Iraq Served With Army, Marines
Doug Struck - Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, November 26, 2006; Page A14

FREDERICTON, Canada - Someone gave Theresa Seeley tobacco to scatter on her son's coffin - a gift, in the Indian tradition, for the elders waiting to greet his soul.

She was uncomfortable with it. "That wasn't what we believed in," she said. Her son Michael was raised "like every other Joe Canadian," with little time for the folklore of his Mi'kmaq tribe.

But as she looked around the crowded graveyard at the funeral, on a New Brunswick hill near where Michael had cavorted on his bike and skipped school with full-of-life glee, it was hard to pick the group in which her son had fit.

There, saluting in solemn slow motion, were soldiers - American officers, formal and stiff - who had brought his body from Iraq as one of their own. There were other soldiers, Canadians, honoring a casualty of a war not theirs. There were non-natives, Michael's friends from school and town. And there were representatives from two tribes, come to acknowledge the cost of a centuries-old custom that has sent Indians to fight in U.S. wars.

Seeley gently tossed the tobacco into the grave.

Her son, Cpl. Michael T. Seeley, 27, was killed Oct. 30 by a roadside bomb outside Baghdad. He was on the last two days of his second tour of Iraq - the first with U.S. Marines, the second with the U.S. Army. He lived in Canada, a country overwhelmingly opposed to the Iraq war. But he wore a U.S. military uniform, as do at least two dozen other native citizens of North America entitled to fight for either country.

"It hearkens back to the warrior tradition that is part of the culture of many tribes," said John Moses, an assistant curator at the Canadian Museum of Civilization near Ottawa. "Culturally, it remains a significant rite of passage among North American Indians to perform some military service."

"And if they are trying to get in the thick of things quicker, enlistment in the U.S. armed services is probably the way to go," said Moses, a First Nations, as natives are called in Canada, who served in the Canadian armed forces.

Michael always wanted things quicker, said his mother, sitting at her kitchen table a week after she buried her son. Hers is a white-frame house with a pool in the back, a basketball hoop in the front and an assortment of cars parked outside. It is "off-reserve" - fewer than half of Canada's aboriginals live on native reserves - and is like so many other suburban homes spreading through the flat woodland outside Fredericton.

Various others of her four sons and daughter, girlfriends and relatives gathered in the warm kitchen, listening quietly while Theresa Seeley talked without tears of Michael, the rambunctious one.

He was easily bored, anxious to get on with life. School did not interest him, but he liked being a cadet in the reserves. After he graduated from Fredericton High School in 1998, the relatively small Canadian military said they would have a space for him in a year. Instead, he called the U.S. Marines in Maine and insisted on joining right away.

The Pentagon says the U.S. military includes 172 persons born in Canada, most with dual citizenship or U.S. permanent residence status. But Canadian-born First Nations need not meet those requirements. A 1794 treaty between the fledgling United States and Britain recognized that native bands straddled the border and should cross freely.

That pact, called the Jay Treaty, formalized the long history of cross-border enlistment. Six hundred Nova Scotian Mi'kmaq fought with George Washington. A Canadian Mohawk was a cavalry lieutenant at the side of Lt. Col. George Custer at the massacre at Little Bighorn. Canadian Indians, a term they themselves still use, have fought as U.S. troops in every modern war.

After Sept. 11, 2001, Theresa Seeley knew her son's choice would send him to war. He went as a sniper with the first troops into Iraq in 2003, and reached Baghdad unscathed. His letters from the field, dutifully collected by the U.S. military, were returned to him for lack of Canadian postage. He ended his tour undaunted, complaining only that his Marine pay was too low.

"He loved the challenge of it. But it never seemed he could get ahead," said his mother. He switched his enlistment to the Army, which seemed to have a better pay package, and returned to Iraq in October 2005. He was supposed to come home this Oct. 28, but volunteered to stay four days longer to allow others in his unit more leave time for Thanksgiving in the United States.

On the evening of Oct. 30, two officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrived at Theresa Seeley's door. Her son had been driving a Humvee in a patrol convoy, they said. The concussion of the bomb killed him, they said.

"There must be a mistake," Theresa Sweeney said.

The Web site, which tracks Iraq war fatalities, identifies 29 Indian or Alaska Native troops killed so far, but does not distinguish which side of the porous border they came from.

"We are both American and Canadian. We feel America is our home, too," said George Paul, who compiled a partial list of Canadian natives in the U.S. armed forces two years ago for the First Nations Drum newspaper. He found 26, and is certain there are many more.

Down the road from the Seeleys' home outside Fredericton, on the Maliseet Reserve, Tony Kennedy, 35, said joining the U.S. Marines was a childhood dream.

"I got tired of reading about battles. I wanted to fight some," said Kennedy, who became a Marine officer and served in Iraq in 2004, and now is pursuing a master's degree in military history.

For Kennedy's neighbor on the Maliseet Reserve, Veronica Brooks, 22, the motivation was not to fight, but to get away. She was bored with college and saw no alluring job prospects. On a whim, she and her sister Jessica drove three hours to Presque Isle, Maine, to sign up with a U.S. Army recruiter in 2003.

"It's been a good experience," said Brooks, a chemical operations specialist in the Army. She has reenlisted for four more years. "I've gotten to go places I never expected and see different cultures. I love it."

She just returned to her home in October after 10 months in Kuwait. She blushed with pride when she stepped off the plane wearing her smart dress uniform. Her father had planted an American flag on the front lawn, and run a cord out with a spotlight to shine on it.

"I'm very, very proud of her," said her father, Walter Brooks, 42. He said neighbors applaud his daughter's move, despite the widespread unpopularity of the Iraq war in Canada.

For some natives on reserves, a political view about the propriety of the Iraq war is "a luxury they don't have," said Janice Switlo, an Edmonton legal activist for indigenous rights. Native reserves have soaring social problems: alcoholism, unemployment, domestic abuse. Enlistment is a way out.

"Sometimes the situation in the reserves is so horrendous, they want to get as far away from it as possible," she said. To exploit this appeal, U.S. recruiters used to stalk Indian and native Inuit communities. In 2003, Canada protested the practice, prompting the U.S. military to order its recruiters not to enter the country. But the recruiters await ready on the other side of the border.

Seeley said she does not regret that her son used his native heritage as a ticket from Canada to Iraq. He followed his wishes.

"It was always up to him," she said, with a steady voice. She laughs more than cries at her memories. Her family calls her strong, brave. She shakes her head in disagreement.

"I've seen him" in his coffin, "seen how peaceful he looked. I've had a funeral. But there's no feeling," she said, a swell of frustration rising to catch her voice. Just for a moment. She recovers.

"Part of me doesn't believe it," she says. "When I do - when I start to feel - I may fall apart."

Special correspondent Natalia Alexandrova in Toronto contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 - The Washington Post


A government large enough to give you everything is large enough to take it away...

From: The New York Sun

Philosophy Of Small Government
November 20, 2006

If Milton Friedman had to die, then a week after the defeat of a Republican Congress that had apparently forgotten every lesson Friedman taught in Free To Choose is eerily apt timing. As it happens, had ill health not intervened, Professor Friedman would have been disembarking round about now from a National Review post-election cruise with yours truly and various other pundits and commentators. Instead, we were obliged to sail without him, and in the days that followed I found myself wondering what the great man would have made of the most salient feature of our deliberations: On the one hand, there are those conservatives for whom the war trumps everything and peripheral piffle like "No Child Left Behind" can be argued over when the jihad's been seen off. On the other, there are those conservatives for whom the war is peripheral and, insofar as it exists, it doesn't begin to mitigate the abandonment of Friedmanite principles on public spending, education and much else. There is a huge gulf between these two forces, to the point where the War Party and the Small Government Party seem as mutually hostile as the Sunni and Shia on their worst days. If the Republicans can't re-unite these two wings before 2008, they'll lose again and keep on losing.

Take, for example, Ward Connerly, whose Michigan ballot proposition against racial quotas was one of the few victories conservatives won on election day. (Needless to say, most GOP bigwigs, including washed-up gubernatorial loser Dick DeVos, opposed it.) In a discussion of conservative core values, Connerly suggested it wasn't the role of the Federal Government to impose democracy on the entire planet. And put like that, he has a point. However, I support the Bush Doctrine on two grounds: First, for "utopian" reasons - if the Middle East becomes a region of free states, it will have been the right thing to do and the option most consistent with American values (unlike the stability fetishists' preference for sticking with Mubarak, the House of Saud and the other thugs and autocrats). But secondly it also makes sense from a cynical realpolitik perspective: promoting liberty and democracy, even if they ultimately fail, is still a good way of messing with the thugs' heads. It's one of the few real points of pressure America and its allies can bring to bear against rogue nations, and in the case of Iran the one with the clearest shot at being effective. In other words, even if it ultimately flops, seriously promoting liberty and democracy could cause all kinds of headaches for the mullahs, Assad, Mubarak and the rest of the gang. However it turns out, it's the "realist" option.

The President doesn't frame it like that, alas. Instead, he says stuff like: "Freedom is the desire of every human heart." Really? It's unclear whether that's the case in Gaza and the Sunni Triangle. But it's absolutely certain that it's not the case in Berlin and Paris, Stockholm and London, Toronto and New Orleans. The story of the western world since 1945 is that, invited to choose between freedom and government "security," large numbers of people vote to dump freedom - the freedom to make your own decisions about health care, education, property rights, seat belts, and a ton of other stuff. I would welcome the President using "Freedom is the desire of every human heart" in Chicago and Dallas, and, if it catches on there, then applying it to Ramadi and Tikrit.

Meanwhile, from the War Party's point of view, the Bush Doctrine is beginning to accumulate way too many opt-outs. For example, a couple of weeks back, US forces in Baghdad captured a death squad commander of Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army only to be forced to release him on the orders of the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. When I had the honor of discussing the war with the President recently, he was at pains to emphasize that Iraq was "sovereign." That may be. But, at a time when a gazillion freelance militias are running around the joint ignoring the sovereign government, it seems a mite pedantic to insist that the sole militia in the country that has to obey every last memo from Prime Minister Maliki are the US armed forces. Moqtada al-Sadr is an emblem not of democracy's flowering but of the arid soil in which it's expected to grow. America would have been better off capturing and executing him two years ago.

That's not the worst mistake, alas. The crucial missed opportunity (as some of us pointed out at the time) occurred five years ago, back when the President still had his post-9/11 approval ratings. You can't hold them forever, obviously, but, while he had them, George W Bush could have used them for a "teaching moment." As we can see in Europe every day of the week, Big Government is a national security issue - for all the reasons Milton Friedman understood: in diminishing individual liberty, it transforms free-born citizens into nanny-state charges to the point where it imperils the existence of the nation. If ever there was a time for not introducing a new prescription drug entitlement, wartime is it. Yet the President and Congress apparently decided that they could fight a long existential struggle abroad while Big Government continued to swell and bloat at home.

It has been strange for me in these days since the election to spend so much time with so many figures I admire and to find that each group barely recognizes each other's concerns. The War Party is the War Party, the Small Government Party is the Small Government Party, and ne'er the twain shall meet apparently. That way lies disaster: you can't be in favor of assertive American foreign policy overseas and increasing Europeanization domestically; likewise, you can't take a reductively libertarian view while the rest of the planet goes to pieces. Someone in the GOP needs to do what Ronald Reagan did so brilliantly a quarter-century ago - reconcile the big challenges abroad with a small-government philosophy at home. The House and the Senate will not return to Republican hands until they do.

Copyright 2006 - Mark Steyn


Conservatives win with ideas...

From: The New York Sun

Wanted: New Republican Ideas for 2008
U.S. News & World Report
November 20, 2006

Back when Republicans were winning elections in the 1980s, Tip O'Neill used to say that it was because Democratic policies made a lot of people rich enough to vote Republican.

Republicans who are saying that the party needs to go back to the principles of 1994 or Ronald Reagan should keep Mr. O'Neill's lesson in mind: Successful public policies render moot the issues that bring parties to power. They won't keep winning unless they address new issues.

With that in mind, let's examine the successful Republican policies since their takeover of Congress in 1994.

Some of these were on economic issues, addressable only at the federal level. The big budget deficits of the early 1990s were eliminated by the Clinton tax increases and by the one-year standstill in spending the Republicans forced on Bill Clinton in 1995. With President Bush in office, Republicans produced tax cuts that kicked the economy out of recession and gave us robust, low-inflation economic growth.

Another public-policy success was welfare reform, forced on Mr. Clinton by the Republicans in 1996. But note that that success came after, and was inspired by, welfare reform in the states, started by Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin in 1987 and followed by many Republicans and also some Democrats.

Still another public-policy success of the 1990s - crime control - was almost entirely the work of big-city mayors, starting with Rudy Giuliani in New York. On crime, Mr. Clinton and the Republican Congress were no more than interested and occasionally helpful bystanders.

Some public-policy successes of the Bush years have been criticized by many conservatives. One was the education accountability measures in the No Child Left Behind Act. Here, President Bush and a bipartisan coalition were federalizing reforms initiated in the states, by governors like Mr. Bush himself, his brother Jeb Bush in Florida, and Democrat Jim Hunt in North Carolina.

Then there was the controversial Medicare prescription drug law pushed through in a three-hour roll call in 2003. Many conservatives criticize the creation of a new federal entitlement. President Bush's argument was that there was going to be a prescription drug benefit sooner or later and that it was better to have a Republican version that provided for competition and choice, rather than government ukase.

The bill also allowed the expansion of health savings accounts, which have the potential to change private-sector health insurance the way that Section 401(k) of the tax code has changed private-sector pensions. HSAs are expanding rapidly, and polls show seniors highly pleased with the prescription drug plans they've chosen - and competition is holding down costs.

To be sure, this is big-government conservatism. But who thinks we're going to get rid of big government? President Bush's approach has been to enhance choice and accountability, to rely more on markets and less on government commands.

It's the only realistic conservatism for America today.

Note that conservative policy successes have taken some issues off the political table. Republicans won a lot of suburban districts in 1994 on the issues of crime, welfare, and taxes. Crime and welfare are not major issues anymore. And the Democrats' obvious unwillingness to raise taxes substantially after their defeat in 1994 took taxes off the table, too - though the issue may come back in 2008, when voters could face a choice between Republicans who promise to extend the tax cuts that expire in 2010 and Democrats who may be eager to let those taxes go back up again. That might switch some of those suburban districts back toward Republicans.

What issues could Republicans raise in 2008? They would do well to look to the states, and especially to Florida, where Jeb Bush has enacted innovative policies on school choice and health care. They could look at some Democrats, as well, like Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, who has been reforming an overly generous Medicaid program.

They could highlight the proposal of Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona to allow people to buy health insurance across state lines. They could consider a proposal by Robert Rubin, President Clinton's treasury secretary, to get lower-income workers to save and invest with tax credits for IRA contributions. Republicans aren't going to win elections with the new ideas of 1980, 1994, or 2000. They need new ideas for 2008.

Copyright 2006 - The New York Sun


WANTED - Noted Pervert John Robin Sharpe

The Conservatives had to deal with nasty catcalls from Grits and Dipp-shit-ers who opposed having a national sex offender registry (even as they clamoured for a duck hunter registry). Now, thanks to the Conservatives push for the registry, we can at least be glad to see a warrant out on Sharpe who is at-large. Now if we could only bring up the mandatory minimum sentences on all forms of child abuse, as well as murder and rape cases to somewhere in the range of decency, we'd all be better off. In the meantime, we remain a country that coddles criminals.

Canada-wide warrant issued for John Robin Sharpe
Fri. Nov. 17 2006 8:45 AM ET
Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for John Robin Sharpe, the notorious Vancouver sex offender who challenged Canada's laws against child pornography in the Supreme Court of Canada.

Police say Sharpe is wanted for failing to comply with the national sex offender registry.

Sharpe's lawyers were in court last month trying to have his conviction for having sex with a boy under 14 overturned.

Sharpe came to prominence in 1999 when he won two lower court rulings in British Columbia arguing Canada's laws against possessing child pornography violated his Charter rights.

The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the law but exempted private personal writings about sex acts.

The Vancouver Police said Sharpe may be in British Columbia, Alberta, Montreal, Quebec or Southeast Asia.

Sharpe is 73 years old, white, 6`1", 190 lbs. with grey hair and blue eyes. He often wears glasses.

Anyone with information about Sharpe's whereabouts or anyone who sees him is asked to call 911.


Never ignore the inherent benefits of the "melting pot"

From: The Economist print edition

Multiculturalism in Canada: One nation or many?
Canadians continue to believe in diversity and tolerance. But it is becoming harder.
Nov. 16, 2006

OVER a long and painful history the Ismaili Muslim sect has been dispersed, at times forcibly, to 25 countries across the world. So when their spiritual leader, the Aga Khan, announced last month that he had chosen Ottawa as the site for his new research centre on pluralism, it was widely seen as a particularly powerful endorsement of Canada's tolerant multiculturalism. But his comments came as this approach, enshrined in law and seen by many Canadians as part of their national identity, is coming under unprecedented public criticism.

In recent weeks, the debate in Britain over the wearing of the niqab or face veil has crossed the north Atlantic to Canada. It came on the heels of claims that the leaders of the large Indo-Canadian population in British Columbia were turning a blind eye to widespread domestic violence. Last year saw an acrimonious dispute in Ontario over whether Muslims could use Islamic sharia courts to settle family disputes. (The provincial government eventually decided that they could not.)

In themselves, fights over cultural practices and symbols are nothing new in Canada. Sikhs went to the Supreme Court to win the right for uniformed policemen to wear turbans and students to wear ceremonial daggers known as kirpans. What is new about the latest arguments is an underlying tension between some cultural practices of recent immigrants and the mainstream values of Canadian liberal democracy, such as sex equality.

This comes as a small minority of Muslim immigrants seek to emphasise their separation from, and even hostility to, the wider society. In June 17 Canadian Muslims were arrested on charges of plotting terrorist attacks on targets including the national Parliament. "Muslims are the first group to seriously challenge our notions of multiculturalism and tolerance," says Neil Bissoondath, a writer on the subject.

Similar debates have raged in Europe. Two things give them a different edge in Canada. First, even more than the United States, Canada is nowadays a nation of immigrants. Immigration is both increasing and increasingly non-European. Second, from its birth as a self-governing nation in 1867 Canada was a multicultural mixture of British and French settlers and the indigenous people they called Indians. A century later, this was officially recognised. In 1971 Pierre Trudeau, a Liberal prime minister, declared Canada bilingual and multicultural. The Multiculturalism Act of 1988 replaced the previous policy of assimilation with one of acceptance of diversity.

Multiculturalism has since sunk deep roots in government, reflected in everything from broadcasting to education policy. It has itself become a basic Canadian value. Polls show that a majority support continued immigration and do not want it limited to whites. Almost half believe that immigrants should be free to maintain their cultural and religious practices. But a poll published this week reflected the new disquiet: when asked whether those practices should be tolerated if they infringe women's rights, a large majority said No. Some feminists counter that Canada tolerates other practices that they see as demeaning, such as cosmetic surgery.

One school of thought says that it is time to set firmer rules for what is expected of citizens and to define more clearly what it means to be Canadian. Adherents to this view gleefully seized on a comment by Yann Martel, a novelist, that "Canada is one of the greatest hotels on earth - it welcomes everyone from everywhere." (Mr. Martel claims that he was misunderstood.)

But most commentators still subscribe to multiculturalism as not just a worthwhile aspiration but as the only way of holding Canada together. To preserve it, some trust in muddle-through. When another writer, Michael Ignatieff, who is standing for the vacant leadership of the opposition Liberals, said he favoured recognising Quebec as a "nation," he was roundly abused, and not just by those who favour a stronger Canadian identity. Better to leave well alone rather than going through the wrenching process of reopening constitutional debates, his detractors said. "Canada is a country that works better in practice than in theory," said Stéphane Dion (echoing a national cliché), one of Mr Ignatieff's rivals for the leadership and himself a Quebecker.

Others worry that laissez-faire is a recipe for rising tension. They say there is no alternative but to negotiate solutions to cultural clashes, new or old. Rudyard Griffiths of the Dominion Institute, a think-tank concerned with Canadian identity, points to a long history of finding ways to accommodate seemingly intractable differences of language, culture and religion, such as those between English and French speakers or Catholics and Protestants.

Some of the new disputes will doubtless be resolved in the courts. Politicians, who until a few years ago were happy to talk up multiculturalism, have mainly fallen silent. There have been a few exceptions. Dalton McGuinty, the premier of Ontario, said of the niqab debate that women were free to do as they pleased. Stephen Harper, the Conservative prime minister, invited the Aga Khan to dinner. His government is helping to set up the new pluralism centre. Officially, then, Canada still stands squarely behind multiculturalism. But the silences are eloquent.

Copyright 2006 - The Economist


Rest In Peace Mr. Friedman

Milton Friedman passed away in San Francisco.
Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize-Winning Economist, Dies
By: Vivien Lou Chen

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) - Milton Friedman, the Nobel laureate economist who shaped the philosophies of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and successive Federal Reserve chairmen, has died, his daughter Janet said. He was 94.

Friedman's theory that inflation results from too much money chasing too few goods inspired a generation of central bankers, beginning with Paul Volcker, who was Fed chairman from 1979 until 1987. Alan Greenspan and Ben S. Bernanke also credit Friedman's work as a blueprint for policy making.

"Friedman's monetary framework has been so influential that, in its broad outlines at least, it has nearly become identical with modern monetary theory and practice," Bernanke said at a conference in October 2003 when he was a Fed governor. He became chairman in February 2006.

Friedman wrote, co-wrote or edited 32 books, including "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960" with Anna Schwarz in 1963, and argued that the goal of monetary policy should be long-term, stable growth in the supply of money. He championed individual initiative and deregulation and influenced decisions from severing the dollar's peg to gold in the early 1970s to ending the military draft.

"It's hard to think of anyone who's had more of a direct influence on social and economic policy in this generation," said Carnegie Mellon University Professor Allan H. Meltzer, who is preparing a two-volume history of the Fed and has been an adviser to the Bank of Japan. "He, along with others, promoted the idea of low inflation and a more disciplined central bank."

In his later years, Friedman advocated that the Fed adopt an inflation target, a numeric price goal which the central bank should pledge to hit over a specified period of time. He supported George W. Bush's failed effort to overhaul Social Security, counseled California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and predicted the demise of the euro.

---'Monetary Phenomenon'---

With his trademark pronouncement that inflation was "always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon" Friedman was among the Fed's most vocal critics as inflation accelerated through the 1960s and 1970s. He said the central bank failed to control the supply of money, should be stripped of its autonomy and forced to focus on keeping money supply growth steady at about 3 percent.

The Fed kept its independence. Friedman's arguments were acknowledged, though, when Volcker launched an attack on inflation in 1979 by targeting money supply and pushing up interest rates to crush inflation.

---Reagan to Bush---

The Brooklyn-born Friedman traveled the world promoting balanced budgets and limited state spending. He joined Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board in the early 1980s, helping guide and reinforce the president's views on government largess and tax reduction.

He served as an adviser to Thatcher, U.K. Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, who pushed for a free-market economy, low taxation, and the sale of state-owned industries. Bush credited Friedman's ideas with bringing inflation under control in Chile, the adoption of a flat tax in Russia, and the creation of personal retirement accounts in Sweden.

Friedman's teachings at the University of Chicago helped foster the "Chicago School" of economics, known for theories associated with free-market libertarianism.

Those ideas were put to use in Chile during the 1970s and 1980s, when a group of economists trained at the University took key government positions under General Augusto Pinochet. The so-called "Chicago Boys" advocated widespread deregulation and privatization, helping Pinochet's military junta bring inflation down from as high as between 700 percent and 1,000 percent.

"He has used a brilliant mind to advance a moral vision: the vision of a society where men and women are free, free to choose, but where government is not as free to override their decisions," Bush said in a May 2002 speech at the White House to honor Friedman on his 90th birthday. "All of us owe a tremendous debt to this man's towering intellect and his devotion to liberty."

---Companion of Crisis---

Friedman was born on July 31, 1912, to immigrants from Carpatho-Ruthenia, a province of the Austro-Hungarian empire that later became part of the Soviet Union. His father was involved in "mostly unsuccessful" ventures and his mother ran a small dry-goods store, he wrote in his autobiography "Two Lucky People."

"The family income was small and highly uncertain," Friedman wrote. "Financial crisis was a constant companion. Yet there was always enough to eat, and the family atmosphere was warm and supportive."


After graduating from high school before his 16th birthday, Friedman won a scholarship to Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he was taught by Arthur Burns, who later served as Fed chairman between 1970 and 1978. With plans to become an actuary, Friedman initially studied mathematics, yet failed some of his exams.

He later became interested in economics. After graduating in 1932, he studied at the University of Chicago's economics department, where he met his future wife, Rose Director.

"We were married six years later, when our Depression fears of where our livelihood would come from had been dissipated, and, in the words of the fairytale, have lived happily ever after," Friedman said in his autobiography.

---Treasury Stint---

Friedman graduated with a master's degree from the University of Chicago in 1933, and earned a doctorate from Columbia University in 1946. During World War II he worked in the Treasury's tax research department, where he developed the concept of federal tax withholding to finance wartime spending and avoid inflation.

"I have no apologies for it, but I really wish we hadn't found it necessary and I wish there were some way of abolishing withholding now," he said in a June 1995 interview with Reason magazine.

Friedman's rise to prominence began in the 1950s when he challenged the popular views of economists who followed the theories of John Maynard Keynes and virtually ignored the significance of money supply and monetary policy in business cycles and inflation.

"A Monetary History" argued that the Great Depression wasn't caused by the stock market crash of 1929, but by the Fed's efforts to shrink the money supply because of inflation fears. The lesson for central bankers was that monetary forces could lead to powerful, destabilizing results, and the best way to avoid such a crisis is with "a stable monetary background," Bernanke said in a 2002 speech.

---Battling Inflation---

Friedman was also the first to show there's no permanent tradeoff between unemployment and the inflation rate assumed by policy makers because the jobless rate could vary based on people's expectations for price increases.

"Milton Friedman was right," Minneapolis Fed President Gary Stern, said in a speech on May 1 that praised Volcker's battle against inflation, which saw the central bank lift its benchmark rate to as high as 20 percent in 1980. At that point, money supply growth was galloping along at 6.8 percent.

"Volcker's quasi-monetarist approach to policy successfully broke the back of inflation," Stern said, setting "the stage for the long economic expansions of the 1980s and 1990s."

---'Language of Monetarists'---

The consumer price index, hovering at around 12 percent when Volcker took office, soared to 14.8 percent in March 1980 and retreated to 6.8 percent two years later. It's stayed below 5 percent for the past 15 years, while the U.S. enjoyed its longest expansion ever between March 1991 and March 2001.

"Volcker used the language of monetarists such as Friedman to describe what he was doing to control money growth," said Meltzer, a member of Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers. "The extent to which he did it is less clear, but he deserves enormous credit for persisting long enough to bring the inflation rate down."

Greenspan, who succeeded Volcker, showed it was possible for central banks to quell inflation and thus avoid recession, Friedman wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 31. Price stability reduces uncertainties, allowing the businesses to muster resources more efficiently, Friedman wrote.

Some of the ideas conceived of or improved on by the economist and his wife include vouchers to help parents select children's schools, legalization of drugs, and privatization of Social Security.

---Goldwater Campaign---

Friedman served as an economic adviser during Republican Senator Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign in the 1960s, won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988, and was most recently a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

While Goldwater was trounced by Lyndon Johnson in 1964, he's been credited as an influence by Republicans such as former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, Reagan and Bush.

"Freedom is a great objective," Friedman said in a Dec. 27, 2005, interview with PBS's Charlie Rose. "It enables people who hate one another, who don't speak the same language, who would fight one other if they had the chance, to cooperate together economically."

He opposed one form of economic integration: the monetary union of 11 European Union nations in 1999 that resulted in the replacement of national currencies with the euro. Greece joined in 2001, bringing the number to 12.

As Europe was preparing for the euro's introduction, Friedman told German weekly Die Zeit in September 1997 that the euro would make conflict more, not less, likely.

---Euro Doomsayer---

The continent's many borders and diverse cultures make a single currency unit unfeasible, as Europeans are more dependent on their own country rather than the "common market or the idea of Europe." The introduction of the euro would turn economic shocks into political conflict, Friedman said.

The euro went ahead as planned and the introduction of notes and coins two years later went off without a hitch.

In addition to his wife, Friedman's surviving family members include two children, Janet and David.

Copyright 2006 - Bloomberg


Alberta Tory leadership hopefuls graded by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

You can read the questions and responses for yourself and decide if the grades are fair. They seem pretty fair to me. You can also read the survey according to your own fiscal policy priorities. Personally, I think it is most important that any new leader of any province start the process of controlling government spending and curbing the size of government. Both overall and specifically in the area of spending, Ted Morton leads the way. I'm pleased to see some meat on the policy bones of that leadership. Where Alberta leads, the country follows.


John McCain - A President who understands

From: The New York Sun

To Know McCain, Read Mahan
November 14, 2006

"War, once declared, must be waged offensively, aggressively," wrote the sage of American navalists, Alfred Mahan, in his seminal 1890 book, "The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783." "The enemy must not be fended off, but smitten down."

Mahan is important today because our chief architect of Mahanian policy now forms an exploratory committee to begin his campaign for the presidency in 2008. John McCain, son and grandson of admirals, Annapolis graduate, aviator, and war hero, who is notorious for hectoring the Bush administration on policy issues as wide-ranging as federal judgeships, torture protocols, and pork-barrel spending, is in fact the clearest living expression of Mahanism on planet Earth. He not only inherits Mahan's core philosophy of American imperial power through naval supremacy and global commerce, but also inherits the duly famous combat legacy of his Mahanian grandfather, Vice Admiral John S. "Slew" McCain, who commanded the fast carriers that defeated the Japanese Imperial navy — steaming to the rescue at Leyte Gulf — and who invented through experiment the naval air tactics that have guaranteed American foreign policy since World War II.

Mr. McCain brings to the campaign many gifts, such as curt candor and a savvy tolerance of new ideas, but his overwhelming strength is that he thinks, plans, and acts according to Mahan. In this, Mr. McCain is in a potent line of presidential actors, starting with William McKinley and his Mahanian Spanish War, continuing to the Mahanian champion Teddy Roosevelt and his globalizing Great White Fleet, and including Franklin Roosevelt, who studied Mahan while still at Groton, and the Cold Warriors Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Jack Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and the two Bush presidents, both of whom asserted Mahanism by protecting American energy resources in the Persian Gulf.

If the Republicans choose Mr. McCain for 2008, and if Mr. McCain survives the crusading candidacy of Hillary Clinton, he will take the oath of office in 2009 with the salty ghosts of all the triumphant Mahanians of every ocean on the reviewing stand.

Who was this still-little-known Mahan? U.S. Navy Captain Alfred Mahan, son of an engineering professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was a modest, bookish lecturer in gunnery at Annapolis and later in naval history and strategy at the Naval War College at Newport, R.I., when he published the scholarly "Influence of Sea Power." To that date, his critical experience as a naval officer was at the beginning of his career, at age 27 in 1867, when he circumnavigated the globe aboard the steamship USS Iroquois, including ports of call at Japan and China. His book was an immediate phenomenon. The undiscovered Teddy Roosevelt, then a 32-year-old city politician, wrote Mahan in a burst of prescience, "I am greatly in error if it does not become a naval classic." Also, no less than the young Kaiser Wilhelm II, a decade before he launched the naval arms race that invited the Great War, wrote that he was "devouring" the book and was "trying to learn it by heart." The Japanese lord and Harvard graduate, Baron Kaneko Kentaro, moved quickly to have the book translated into Japanese. It was soon adopted by the Japanese Imperial naval and army staff war colleges.

Mahan retired from the Navy in 1897, in time for President McKinley and the young assistant secretary of the Navy and later accidental president, Teddy Roosevelt, to adopt him as their war thinker. Mahan not only advocated the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands and Philippine archipelago as forward bases of operations for the Navy, but also conceived the fundamentals of what would become War Plan Orange, a projected contest between the American fleet and the Japanese Imperial fleet for domination of the Pacific Ocean. In sum, more than five decades before Pearl Harbor, more than 11 decades before the rise of Chinese naval power, and of Persian naval power, Mahan saw completely that there would be "a rapid closing together of vastly different civilizations," and that the profound challenge of the 20th century would be "whether the Eastern or Western civilization is to dominate the Earth and control the future."

Mr. McCain is Alfred Mahan's child. Mr. McCain will go forward as a candidate speaking of a more perfect union, of domestic tranquility, even of the soft power of diplomacy and consensus. However, underneath the smile of the man from Arizona is the confidence of the big stick of the war fleet and with it the power of the White House to advance and sustain American liberty.

Mr. Batchelor is host of "The John Batchelor Show," now on hiatus.

Copyright 2006 - The New York Sun

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