Thursday, April 30, 2009

Books, breakfast and Civitas

Attention everyone out there attending the upcoming Civitas conference in Toronto.

I will be part of a special Civitas panel on Saturday morning May 2nd called Books for Breakfast.

And no that doesn't mean we are eating books for breakfast; it means me and other authors will have a chance to talk about our books -- in my case Loyal to the Core -- and answer questions.

Oh, I might even have a few copies of my book to sell.

So if you are attending Civitas and you want to say hello be sure to drop on by.

Harper vs libertarians

Terence Corcoran reminds us in today's National Post of how Prime Minister Stephen Harper, while speaking to a Manning Centre gathering last month, essentially excommunicated libertarians from the Conservative Party.

I was at that speech and what struck me as odd was that Harper even mentioned libertarians.

Why go after them? Why single them out?

What makes it even odder is that Harper was once more or less a libertarian himself, at least on fiscal issues.

Corcoran wonders if it's because libertarians pose some kind of threat to the Harper Conservatives.

That seems unlikely.

The more likely answer is much more simple: Harper doesn't like libertarians because we represent his guilty conscience.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Visualizing spending

This video does a great job of putting government spending in perspective.

H/T Paul Tuns

Media Alert

I am scheduled to be a guest on the Dave Rutherford Show (CHQR radio) today at approximately 1:00 PM EST.

Topic: Is Quebec getting more than its fair share of cash for Canada Day?

Pork Report

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has come out with a report exposing the wasteful spending practices of the Western Economic Diversification department.

Called 22 years of pork barrel spending, the CTF report explains how much of the WED spending is more about politics than it is about economic diversification.

It's just the nature of the beast.

And by the way, the Conservative government plans to create two more regional development funds agencies — one for Northern Canada and for Southern Ontario.

So that means taxpayers can expect to roll out even more pork barrels.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Obama's foreign policy

Dick Morris on Obama's foreign policy.

Tough job

You know who has the toughest job in the world?

The guy responsible for writing the tribute to former Liberal leader Stephane Dion.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Is Canada left wing?

Check out my latest posting over at the Women's Post.

I wonder about the conventional wisdom about Canada being a "left wing country."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Capitalism rocks

Professor Don Boudreaux, one of America's most articulate defenders of free markets, has written an essay on what Earth Day means to him.

I've reproduced it below:

"Earth Day, to me, means an opportunity to express thanks for all the ways that capitalism makes our lives and environment cleaner and healthier.

I'm thankful for the automobile, which has cleaned our streets and highways of animal feces, which is both foul and filthy itself, and that attracts flies that spread it into our homes and workplaces.

I'm thankful for the automobile also because it allows us to travel in a cleaner environment than we had when we traveled on horseback or in buggies. Modern automobiles cool or heat the air immediately surrounding their passengers, making these passengers comfortable and, in summer, less sweaty and stinky.

I'm thankful for air-conditioning that keeps our interior environments not only comfortable but more healthy, as it allows us to better keep insects out of our homes, shops, factories, and offices -- and also, in humid places, to dramatically reduce the growth of mold and mildew in our homes.

I'm thankful for indoor plumbing. (The anti-polluting properties here are too obvious to spell out. Ditto for disposable diapers -- yet another product for which I'm most grateful.)

I'm thankful for the inexpensive soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, dental floss, toilet tissue, and plastic bandages and other first-aid items that make it possible for us to de-pollute our persons regularly.

I'm thankful for electronic appliances, such as those that (along with modern detergents - for which I'm also thankful) allow us to clean our used clothing and dirty dishes -- clean these more deeply and more thoroughly than was possible in the past without spending multiples of the time on such tasks that we spend on these tasks today.

These appliances enable us to recycle our clothing and our dishes for many reuses.
I'm thankful for electricity for making these appliances possible - and for enabling us to light our home without dirty candles, and for enabling us to heat our homes without coal, wood, peat, or other filthy substances.

I'm thankful for plastics, which very effectively and at very low costs allow us to keep bacteria confined. A plastic storage bag, for example, keeps food bacteria confined to the interior of the bag.

I'm thankful for refrigeration for retarding the growth of bacteria and, hence, keeping our foods cleaner and healthier.

I'm thankful for chemical fertilizers that increase the productivity of the earth's soil, and thereby helps to prevent malnutrition -- which, in turn, better enables each of our bodies to succeed at fighting off diseases that are more likely to sicken, or even kill, malnourished persons.

I'm thankful for factories (and the fuels that power them) that make possible things such as modern textiles -- modern textiles that enable even poor people in market societies to own many changes of clean clothing.

I'm thankful for modern insecticides and cleansers that help to protect us from bugs and bacteria that would otherwise pollute our environments.

I am, in short, thankful for private-property markets that are the main driving force behind these (and many other) anti-pollutants -- a force so powerful that we today enjoy the incredible luxury of being able to worry, should we so choose, about very distant and very speculative forms of environmental problems such as species loss and global warming."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Media Alert

I am scheduled to be a guest on the World Tonight with Rob Breakenridge this evening at 9:35 EST.

Topic: The Conservatives and Mulroney.

Deadliest Warriors

This is the coolest show in the history of television.

The Onion on Outsourcing

Mulroney vs Harper

Paul Wells of Maclean's outlines the saga of how Prime Minister Stephen Harper sought to distance himself from former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

It's an odd affair.

I can fully understand why Harper might want to separate himself from the sleaziness of Mulroney, but why do it in such a clumsy manner?

Writes Wells: "By March 31, a day after the senior staff meeting, three Ottawa news bureaus had been approached by PMO political staffers with the stale but suddenly handy 'news' that Mulroney had asked to be stricken from Conservative party lists. And also that he had let his membership in the party lapse in 2006."

Did not the PMO foresee that such a strategy would give a resentful Mulroney an opportunity to blow them out of the water -- which he did.

That in turn created days of negative stories for the Tories.

It just doesn't make sense.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ancient debate

"Human nature is universally imbued with a desire for liberty, and a hatred for servitude." Julius Caesar, Gallic Wars

"Only a few prefer liberty -- the majority seek nothing more than fair masters."
Sallust, Histories

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pragmatic Politics

Paul Tuns has written an excellent column on the politics of pragmatism.

Here's a sample: "Political pragmatists will not only 'adapt' to cater policy to changing circumstances. Too often, they will abandon core principles in exchange for power."

No points for which political party he is talking about.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bleak outlook

Here's another conservative who senses trouble for the Tories.

His point: "So, having underbussed the socons, speechers, libertarians, Reformers and, well, conservatives, from the CPC Steve has no one to stand with him as he attempts to storm the Toronto Party enclaves. And he has no one to blame but himself."

Not a Harper fan

Anybody who thinks I am too critical of Prime Minister Stephen Harper should check out this guy's comments.

Tory Political Correctness

It seems the people who run the Facebook pages for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and the Conservative Party of Canada want to ban my friend Chris Reid.


It's because his profile picture is a gun.

Here's the message they sent Chris: "ok chris i'm going to be as polite as possible but your profile picture has to go if you want to continue participating in the conservative facebook groups and think common sence (sic) should indicate my reasons . its simply not approiate (sic) and some users may find it threatening or offensive . i'm giving you 1 warning and 1 day to replace it with something else ."

Talk about gun control!

Anyway, Chris is asking people on Facebook who wish to protest this ban replace their profile picture for a day with a gun, and posting on the Ontario PC Party group page.

As Chris says it's "ridiculous" to censor people's profile pictures, especially when owning a gun is a constitutional right and a completely lawful object.

Will the PM quit?

Check out my latest posting over at the Women's Post.

It's my take on some of the musing emanating from Parliament Hill that Prime Minister Harper is getting ready to pack it in.

Hint: I say he will fight the next election -- and win.

Ignatieff's Manifesto

Check this excerpt from Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's book True Patriot Love:

America and Canada are both free nations. But our freedom is different: There is no right to bear arms north of the 49th parallel, and no capital punishment, either; we believe in collective rights to language and land, and, in our rights culture, these can trump individual rights. Not so south of the border. Rights that are still being fought for south of the border — public health care, for example — have been ours for a generation.

What Ignatieff is essentially saying is that our freedom is that we have no freedom.

It's sad that this is what passes for "Liberal" these days.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Poll Dancing

The latest Ekos poll should have the Tory Party brass a little concerned.

It's not that the numbers are all that bad -- Liberals lead the Tories nationally 36.7 to 30.2 -- it's the overall trend that should be worrisome.

The Tories are in a nosedive while the Liberals are steadily gaining support.

If this keeps up we just might have a Fall election.

Harper and Mulroney

I'm not sure what point this video is making; is it anti-Harper or anti-Mulroney?

But I am posting it because it mentions my old group the National Citizens Coalition.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ignatieff on the leadership scale

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is a relatively better leader than Stephane Dion.

But that's not saying much; my mouse pad is a relatively better leader than Dion.

The real question is, how does Ignatieff rate in absolute terms on the leadership scale?

Well, the answer is not that great.

I mean, the one time he actually ran for the leadership, as opposed to having the crown handed to him on a silver platter, Dion beat him.

That should tell you something.

And now it seems, he has committed one of the worse of all political sins: he is talking about raising taxes.

Political observers refer to this act as "Going Walter Mondale."

No doubt the writers in the Tory war room's "negative ad department" are high fiving each other with glee right about now.

Maybe the Liberals should have had a leadership race after all.

Lack of harmony on taxes

For the most part, free market think tanks and conservative advocacy groups are allies in the war against big government.

But typically, they part ways when it comes to one issue: consumption taxes.

Think tanks, and for that matter most economists, tend to support consumption taxes as more efficient and more business friendly.

Advocacy groups, on the other hand, see them as nothing but a tax grab.

We see this difference of opinion playing out right now in Ontario, where the Liberal government is in the process of "harmonizing" the PST and the GST.

The think tanky C.D. Howe Institute thinks it's a great idea, whereas the advocacy-oriented Canadian Taxpayers Federation says it's a disaster.

I remember a similar split happening back in 1989 when the Mulroney government was implementing the Goods and Services Tax.

At the time I was working for the National Citizens Coalition and one day we held a meeting to determine our stance.

Somebody at the meeting noted that the Fraser Institute had come out in favour of the GST for all sorts of valid reasons, so perhaps the NCC should too.

At which point, our political consultant snorted: "The NCC can never, ever come out in favour of a tax. Your supporters would revolt!"

So we bashed the GST like crazy -- which upset some economists but made our supporters very happy.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Bird RIP

Really saddened to learn that former Detroit Tiger pitcher, Mark 'The Bird' Fidrych has died at 54.

Fidrych emerged from obscurity in 1976 to become not only the pitching ace for the Tigers but also one of the league's greatest attractions.

His oddball antics -- talking to the baseball, preparing the mound with his hands between innings-- made him a fan favorite across the baseball world.

Alas 1976, when he won 19 games, turned out to be his one great year. After that a series of injuries hampered his pitching effectiveness and he soon dropped out of the game.

But it was quite a ride while it lasted.

H/T Paul Tuns

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Baseball Computer-style

One of my great joys in life is baseball.

When I'm not watching baseball on TV, I am playing baseball on a computer simulated league.

Mind you, I used to think my simulated games, while fun, were a waste of time.

But then I read this article in the NY Times, which suggest my leisure activity actually has some mathematical merit.

So batter up!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Rand had it right

A friend of mine sent me this quote from Ayn Rand, which explains what's wrong with politics in this country:

"The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by precedent, by implication, by erosion, by default, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other—until the day when they are suddenly declared to be the country's official ideology."

Mulroney and the Tories

The good folks over at the Women's Post have asked me to become a regular blogger over at their website.

So check out my first entry, in which I consider the raging controversy as to whether or not Brian Mulroney is actually a Conservative.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Maybe the PMO should read this

Matthew Johnston, the owner of the Western Standard online magazine, has some very nice things to say about me and my book Loyal to the Core.

Loyal to the Core Review

Connie Fournier over at Free Dominion has a review of my book Loyal to the Core.

Check it out.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Arresting 185,925 Canadians?

Pierre Lemieux has written a chilling piece on how Canadian gun control laws turn peaceful, law-abiding citizens into criminals.

He also notes how the Conservative government's proposed Long-Gun Registry Repeal Act will do nothing to change the situation.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Opening Day Joy

OK, forget about politics and wars and recession.

It's opening day!

Major League Baseball is back.

All is right with the world.

(I know baseball is riddled with steroid scandals, so need to rain on my parade.)

Getting in the news

I was recently interviewed on BusinessCast, which is a great weekly podcast, aimed at providing "practical tools and advice to entrepreneurs."

The advice I offered on the show was how entrepreneurs can get the media's attention.

For the archive of past BusinessCast shows go here.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

When empires fall

Why did the Roman Empire fall?

I remember a grade 11 history teacher answered that question by listing about a dozen or so reasons on the blackboard -- his items included everything from lead poisoning to moral decay to poor grand military strategy.

Given all those problems it made me think the real question wasn't why did Rome fall, but why did it last as long as it did?

Anyway, flash forward to present. I am now reading an interesting book called The Ruin of the Roman Empire, by James J. O'Donnell, which basically argues Rome's ruin was not brought about my outside invaders but by its own short-sighted emperors.

Or more precisely by the short-sightedness of one particular Byzantine emperor -- Justinian.

O'Donnell's argument is that Justinian religious intolerance (his move to stomp out "heretic" Christian beliefs) combined with his imperial over-reach (his ill-conceived wars in Italy and Africa and against Persia) fatally weakened Roman civilization, leading to the Dark Ages in the West and to Islamic conquests in the East.

Overall O'Donnell makes a strong case and also provides an interesting glimpse into an era that is much neglected - the time between Rome's fall and the onset of the Middle Ages.

My only complaint is that his desire to make his history relevant to today's reader is sometimes a little heavy-handed.

For instance, he describes Justinian's advisers as the ancient equivalent of "neo-conservatives."

But that aside, it's an easy-to-read history of a fascinating time.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Daring and provocative

The Western Standard online reviews my book, Loyal to the Core.

Here's a sneak preview: The reviewer says "Loyal to the Core is a daring and provocative work. It deserves to be read by conservative activists and politicos".

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Harper in the loo?

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, Prime Minister Stephen Harper missed the G20 "Team Photo" because he was "in the loo."

Canadian government officials, on the other hand, insist the PM was simply getting briefed on the draft G20 communique.

Who has the right story?

Well as Rondi Adamson says "Perhaps both statements are true!"

Understanding libertarians

My friend Janet Neilson had a great status line on her Facebook page, which I thought I'd share:

"Janet Neilson thinks people who say libertarians are missing an opportunity to 'get what they want' from the government if they're not in a major party don't really understand libertarians or the government. "

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Me on TV

Here's me making an important point on the Michael Coren Show.
The point I was trying to make, of course, was "Buy my book!".

Media Alert

I will be a guest on the Gary Doyle Show (570 News Kitchener) at approximately 2:00 PM to discuss my book Loyal to the Core.

Defending Tory Unity

I must have hit a nerve with my suggestion last week concerning the Conservative Party's unity.

Today's National Post contains not one but two rebuttals to my thesis.

Here's one, here's the other.

The writers put forward interesting arguments, but I remain unconvinced.