"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!"
-Homer J. Simpson

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What's wrong with this web site?

look around and let me know

link

hint: it's not the annoying bubbling water, look lower, .....lower,...... there you go.

Bush and Osama have a lot in common (funny)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

ABC Thinks Gore will run too

From my blog to their ears


Now let's talk chops. Gore's an enlisted Vietnam vet who served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, two terms in the Senate, and eight years as vice president in one of the most successful administrations ever. Let's not forget that he won the popular vote in 2000, and as many say, the Electoral College as well.

So wait, he's hip, he's brilliant, he's highly experienced. Is America ready for a real leader after two terms of a guy who makes Jim Carrey's "Dumb and Dumber" character seem downright cerebral? You bet your asinine Bush-isms it is.
Yeah, Yeah, It's not like this is my original idea or anything, but I am staring to feel the momentum building.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Acadamy Award winner Al Gore announces his run for president

Not really,

But it has a great ring to it, doesn't it? :-)

Actually, it was a good gag:


Former Vice President Al Gore -- the central figure in the global-warming film "An Inconvenient Truth," a documentary nominee -- appeared with DiCaprio to praise organizers for implementing environmentally friendly practices in the show's production.

DiCaprio set up a gag with Gore, asking the 2000 presidential candidate if there was anything he wanted to announce.

"I guess with a billion people watching, it's as good a time as any. So my fellow Americans, I'm going to take this opportunity here and now to formally announce my intentions ...," Gore said, his voice trailing away as the orchestra cut him off.


This whole "Internet" thing might just take off

Thursday, February 22, 2007

In the US - don't run for office if you are an atheist

So according to polling report in the US:



You are much better off being a women, or a hispanic, or some other traditionally discriminated person that to be an atheist.

I wonder how much different the numbers would be in Canada?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A framework for progressive agreement

In Part I I asked if it was possible for the left-of-center parties in Canada to unite to form a winning coalition.

In Part II I laid out the first principles and philosophical underpinnings of such an alliance.


I believe that this core set of personal liberties coupled with the concern for the worst-off in society that can be the guiding force behind a progressive party. I know that as a New Democrat that I can support this position and I think most Liberals can as well. Extending the principle to concern for the environment (you don't know when you will be born either so you don't want a world that will be destroyed shortly) gets the Greens as well. The protection of minority rights inside a state is important to the Bloq and if they can agree to work within a united state to achieve their goals (and if they believe the state is committed to the above framework then I think this is possible).
So now the hard part begins, what are the actual guidelines that a progressive coalition could support?

1) Acceptance of the mixed economy.

So I have already lost the socialists (fine, fine) but quite frankly modern society has come to the realization that for many goods and services the open market (you will note "open" not "free") is the most efficient mechanism. Also, and this is what separates us from the Conservatives, we believe that the free market is not a one-size-fits-all solution and sometimes it is not the most efficient way to deliver a service (think health care) . The trick is to figure out when there is a market failure (whenever there is a negative externality - to use economic speak) and how to correct for that failure. (For more on this I direct you to Joseph Heath's The Efficient Society)

2) Seeking Administrative efficiency from government

Another thing that differentiates us from conservatives is our believe that government can be a solution - it is not the problem. However, often government can be cumbersome and ineffective and as such is up to progressives to fix it. Conservatives will simply point to this and use it as an excuse to scrap government programs. Progressives need to start talking about things like target controls, effective auditing, flexible decision structures and employee participation. Government can take lessons from the private sector on many things and use that information to provide solutions for problems that the private sector cannot grapple with.

3) Environmental Sustainability

This is yet another difference between us and the conservatives, we actually believe in democratic governments governing in the interests of people, both current and future generations when it comes to the environment. The environment is a classic example of a market failure (see point 1) and as such progressive forces need to martial non-market solutions
to the problem before the entire planet falls victim to the worst tragedy of the commons ever.

4) The renewal of civic society and the protection of minority rights.

Another major difference between us and the conservatives is that we believe that state and civil society should act in partnership to provide maximum freedom to citizens. It has been a tenant of liberal thought for three-hundred years that individuals should be allowed to pursue their own conception of the "good" and that government should focus on the "right." That's fine as one half of the picture but as Isaiah Berlin points out there are two types of liberty, positive liberty he associated with the idea of self-mastery, or the capacity to determine oneself, to be in control of one's destiny. The state should provide us negative liberty by allowing us to conduct our own affairs, but the state should promote civil society so that we have the capacity
to seek that self-determinism.

5) Equality as Inclusion

Both the left and the right claim that they are seeking equality, but our conceptions of that equality are very different. The right wants all people treaded exactly the same regardless of circumstance or environment. Progressives can rally behind the idea that, while we have to overcome such problems as the creation of a moral hazard, (more economics speak) the state should make social investments in people to help them live up to their full potential. Sometimes this can happen inside a universal program, such a public education, but sometimes there are groups that need special help so we can create "one-off" programs such as affirmative action, to promote the interests of a few in the pursuit of the overall best solution for all.

I hope to lay out some more thoughts on each of these topics over the next few days.

Tell me what you think? Are those the values of maximum liberty while limiting liberty for the sake of the least well off in society (see part II) that progressives can rally behind?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Can Progressives Unite the Left?

My post of a couple of days ago (that sparked one of my best comment debates ever) was the provocatively titled Wither the NDP? which put forward the following premise:


We have all heard the Benjamin Franklin quote "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results". I think that Tommy would agree.

Just like he did in 1961.

I think it is time to take a lesson from, of all people, Preston Manning. We on the left need to unite the left and create a winning coalition.

I am calling on the NDP, the Green Party, the Bloq (without the separatist angle) and the Liberals, the former PROGRESSIVE conservatives and others too think about this.

I then said in the comments that I would lay out what it was that I thought could unite us.

And so it begins.

I want to start with first principles. What philosophical rational for a political party can New Democrats, Left-Liberals, Greens, non-sepratist Bloq and others actually agree on.

I think the best chance is John Rawls Theory of Justice

Imagine for a second that you are floating in space, above the earth and you don't know who you are and where you are from.

Suddenly an angle (or demon, or whatever) appears and says, "You are an unborn child, I am about to place you with your parents, that you do not know, in a position that you do not know - but before I do that you get to decide how the earth is organized. Once you have set up the earth in the manner in which you like then I will place you with your unknown parents and you will live your life"

What kind of world would you choose?

Remember that you don't know how you would end up so, for example, you wouldn't want to create a world with slavery because you might become a slave, you wouldn't create a world where minorities are mistreated because you might be a minority.

Rawl's book goes through all the facets of a society that you would and wold not want in this world before you are placed in it.

He argues that this would create the "fairest" of all possible worlds.

Without getting too in depth into the argument (and it is a very, very good argument) here is what the bottom line is:


First: each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for others.

Second: Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that:

a) offices and positions must be open to everyone under conditions of fair
equality of opportunity

b) they are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of
society (the difference principle).
In other words, liberal freedoms where the only restrictions that are placed on us are for the benefit of the worst off (because we might be born as the worst off.)

I believe that this core set of personal liberties coupled with the concern for the worst-off in society that can be the guiding force behind a progressive party. I know that as a New Democrat that I can support this position and I think most Liberals can as well. Extending the principle to concern for the environment (you don't know when you will be born either so you don't want a world that will be destroyed shortly) gets the Greens as well. The protection of minority rights inside a state is important to the Bloq and if they can agree to work within a united state to achieve their goals (and if they believe the state is committed to the above framework then I think this is possible).

Obviously this is pie-in-the-sky and the real test will come in the following days when I lay out how this principle should be translated into guiding principles and issues that can form the basis of a governing plan and an election manifesto.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Wither the NDP?

Mr. Stefaniuk over at the Sask Citizens Federation makes the argument that others have made over the years that the NDP should either merge with the liberals or "re-brand" as a true left-of-center party.

In my opinion Tommy Douglas would ask us - as new democrats - what are we doing?

The CCF was formed in 1932

31 years laster in 1961 the NDP was formed.

It is now 41 years later

Wouldn't Douglas be asking if we succeeded?

And wouldn't our answer have to be no?

We have never formed even the official opposition - never mind the government.

Douglas would say that we have failed. He would urge us to think bigger, to dream no little dream, to reach inside ourselves and make a change that we might not be comfortable with.
Just like he did in 1961.

We have all heard the Benjamin Franklin quote "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results". I think that Tommy would agree.
Just like he did in 1961.

I think it is time to take a lesson from, of all people, Preston Manning. We on the left need to unite the left and create a winning coalition.

I am calling on the NDP, the Green Party, the Bloq (without the separatist angle) and the Liberals, the former PROGRESSIVE conservatives and others too think about this.

What unites us is more important that what divides us.

The Greens will object because they are just becoming prominent and don't want to lose that.

The Bloq cannot give up separatism.

The Liberals cannot give up their arrogance and belief that they are the natural governing party.

The NDP cannot give up the notion that we are the only voice for the left and ideological purity means more than forming government.

All of us will continue to fight among ourselves while the Conservatives grow stronger.

I want a progressive party, one that speaks to my values and has a reasonable chance of forming government.

I don't have that right now. The NDP speak to my values but cannot form a government. The Liberals can form a government but cannot speak to my values.

I am prepared to compromise and work together with other like-minded people to find the common ground and move forward. Naturaly this will be viewed by the NDP as "selling out"

The cheep seats always win in our party.

read part II

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The only time it is OK to do what President Nixon did

A stiff vice president campaigns on his administration's legacy of unprecedented prosperity. Looks terrible on TV. Bows out, following a disputed vote count. Then, two terms later, with no incumbent in the race, he re-enters the fray. Promises to change the course of a disastrous war founded on lies. And charges to victory. I'm referring, of course, to the 1968 campaign of Richard Milhous Nixon. But four decades later, history has a chance to repeat itself for Albert Arnold Gore.

read more here

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Saskatchewan Premier Calls Election Campaign

How's that for a provocative headline?

News Story


Voters in the Saskatoon-area constituency of Martensville will be going to the polls in a byelection March 5.

On Monday, Premier Lorne Calvert called an election in the constituency that has been vacant since the death of Saskatchewan Party MLA Ben Heppner last September.

Calvert said he wanted the election to be held before the start of the spring sitting of the legislature, March 7.

Heppner's daughter Nancy has been nominated by the Saskatchewan Party. The Liberals have nominated Nathan Friesen, while the New Democrats have chosen John Tzupa as their candidate.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Friday, February 02, 2007

According to the Baptist Church - Jesus Loves Osama Bin Laden

According to this story


Is it warm in here - or is it just the UN?

I bet this doesn't get a whole lot of coverage on blogging torries


It is now beyond doubt that the Earth's climate is warming and it is "very likely" that most of the increase since the mid-20th century is the result of mankind's activities, a panel of UN scientists reported today.

But it gets even better (or worse, depending on how you look at it)


Achim Steiner, director general of the UN Environment Programme, said the report was a "critical milestone" and Feb 2 2007 would be remembered as "the day the question mark was removed" from the question of whether mankind was warming the planet.


If the environment wasn't on Canadians' minds before, reports like this will put it there

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