Get a load of the title of this post!! Then take a look at what it's referring to.

Politics and the Web -- I Love It

Stephen Taylor of Blogging Tories fame has decided to launch Podcasting Tories. This is a great idea, and something I will be watching with great interest.
It's too bad I don't have an iPod.


Doesn't this make you feel guilty, as though we as a nation are somehow responsible?
I know.
We aren't.
Still, I can't help but feel just a twinge of sadness.
The measure, passed by a vote of 187 to 147...
Today's vote in Spain had been widely expected, since the bill had already been approved convincingly in a preliminary vote in April.
Although it had no practical effect, the Senate vote indicated the sharp opposition to the bill that has emerged in Spanish society, particularly among religious conservatives. Some two weeks ago, hundreds of thousands of people marched through downtown Madrid in protest against the bill, saying it was an assault on the institution of marriage.
Deja vu, anyone?
The most telling statement is this one: Cardinal Ricard Maria Carles Gordo, compared government workers opposing the law but agreeing to carry it out to the Nazis at Auschwitz, who "believed that they had to obey the laws of the Nazi government before their own conscience."


Is bare survival a mark of success?
Martin seems to think so. According to this article posted at CTV, Prime Minister Paul Martin believes that the Parliamentary session was a success. His Liberal minority has "accomplished its objectives."
Look at the list of issues presented as "objectives accomplished."
Election timing: In other words, survival.
Redressing equalization policy and specific revenue transfer deals with individual provinces: Nothing was actually done here so I fail to see why it is presented as an accomplishment.
High praise for Conservative neophyte-turned Liberal cabinet minister Belinda Stronach: In other words, a successful purchase of a vote.
Calls for a Canadian commitment of 0.7 per cent of GDP to foreign aid by 2015: Martin not only refused this call, but had the audacity to condemn those world leaders who responded.
Same-sex marriage: A contentious and divisive bill, undesired by the majority of the population, forced through for no apparent reason other than power.

I love this comment though. When asked how he's changed, or what he learned during the contentious session, Martin was momentarily stumped.
Learn something?
What on earth are you guys talking about? We're doing great!!
"I've learned not to answer speculative questions," he quipped, before eventually explaining that he believes his political style hasn't changed.
How is asking whether or not you've learned something a speculative question? The best political answer would have been "I've learned how to overcome difficult situations in order to benefit the country."
If you ever thought Martin had enough wits to come up with an answer like that on the fly, think again. Honestly though, it should have been an easy question answer, given that his government magically supported 40 confidence votes.
I would love to know how that compares with a normal Parliamentary session.

Positive Thinking

Way to go Monte.

First, and surprisingly, the NDP were actually the big losers this session. They thought they did everything right, but they're still stuck at 18% in the latest Ipsos poll. Amazingly the NDP Budget, and Jack's pink cowboy hat just didn't translate into support. Maybe the best evidence for the fecklessness of the NDP is the recent disastrous turnout in their nomination meeting in Regina Qu'apelle. Think about it. Here's a former NDP riding, in a province with an NDP government, and a contested nomination with four people running. Yet only 200 people came out to vote. Even more pathetic is the fact that Lorne Nystrom was only able to win the thing on the third ballot.
See, this is why it's good to get information straight from the source, rather than filtered through the media. Chances are, I would have heard of this in no other way.
The Libs spent their spring proving Lord Acton right. Its all about power for them... They did go up two points to 35% in the polls (which we don't EVER pay attention to). But shouldn't they be much higher? Some of my media friends told me that the Libs were the big winners on the budget bills and the gay marriage bill. Really? Why isn't it reflected in the polls?
Well, maybe it is. Maybe that's all the improvement they will get.
And, you are right not to pay attention to polls. I never do. No pollster has ever called me and asked for my opinion. Until they do, and I know that what I think is being taken into account, I will continue to ignore them.
The Ipsos poll had us at 27%. A four point swing would tie us with the Libs, which is certainly achievable... The truth is that the Conservative Party is in a lot better position to form the next government than most people know, and we're setting out to prove it starting now.
Way to keep your chin up.
On Tuesday Stephen Harper began the process of rolling out some of the Conservative Party election platform. Many of us will be helping him deliver that message this summer on the barbeque circuit. Imagine that, talking about ideas. My hunch is that the public will gobble it up. By comparison, Paul's rhetoric about how much he cares and what he hopes will happen looks hollow and, dare I say it, phony.
No kidding.
I am sure you read that pathetic statement he made on foreign aid.

You know what else I'd like to see?
I'd like to see more emphasis put on the fact that Martin gleans most of his support from the rich elite. It would be interesting to see how people (especially in my generation) would react to such news. I mean, I know and you know it but a staggering portion of the population doesn't know it.

A Dare

As much as I appreciate boldness and candor, cockiness can be really annoying. According to Politics Watch, Martin has "dared" Harper to focus his upcoming election campaign on same-sex marriage. The claim is that in order to accomplish anything, Harper will have to use the notwithstanding clause.
How myopic of him... Martin I mean.
What makes him think that Harper couldn't follow Klein's lead and pull the government out of the marriage business altogether? It would be a much more innovative solution. He doesn't have to use the notwithstanding clause and interfere with the Charter. He invokes true separation of Church and State as his reasoning. He protects religious officials from interference by activist groups looking to pick a fight and get rich.
In any case, the chances of Harper playing to this dare are minimal at best. There is still the Gomery Inquiry, the billions and billions of wasted tax payer dollars and the sacred cow of Health Care. Harper has a ton of issues at his disposal. The likelihood of him focusing on one only are minimal at best.


PM the PM

Even when Parliament is on summer break, Martin can't help but prove what an embarrassment he is to our nation. According to this article in the National Post, Prime Minister Paul Martin castigated fellow world leaders for making headline-grabbing pledges and then abandoning the world's poorest countries.
In what has to be the most bizarre strategy for making himself appear to be a friend to the poor that I have ever seen, our good Prime Minister has refused to commit to a significant increase in foreign aid. Not only that, but he has decided to condemn those leaders who have either said they will try or have reached their target already.
"The gap between the rich and the poor is not narrowing. It's getting worse," observes the good PM. However, this observation is not going to produce any results because any such pledges to correct the situation are nothing more than "grandiose public-relations exercises."
Has it not occurred to him to make a pledge and then fulfill it?
This quote, however, is most revealling... almost Freudian in fact.
"Well I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to do that because there's an election coming. I'm not going to do that under any circumstances."
One has to ask the obvious: were an election not imminent, would you feel more comfortable making an empty promise?
Meanwhile, in another article, we have the first "official" hint that Martin may not keep his promise to hold an election 30 days after the Gomery report is released. He refused to be dragged into speculation that he might try to wiggle out of a winter election, saying only that some Liberals would prefer a May election.

Why Plato

I have posted portions of Plato's Republic for consideration. These selections are taken from books 8 and 9, where Socrates discusses the four types of men. I thought it fitting under the current political circumstances.

Plato - OnTyranny Itself

Last of all comes the tyrannical man; about whom we have once more to ask, how is he formed out of the democratical? and how does he live, in happiness or in misery?

Yes, he said, he is the only one remaining.
There is, however, I said, a previous question which remains unanswered.

What question?
I do not think that we have adequately determined the nature and number of the appetites, and until this is accomplished the enquiry will always be confused.

Well, he said, it is not too late to supply the omission.
Very true, I said; and observe the point which I want to understand: Certain of the unnecessary pleasures and appetites I conceive to be unlawful; every one appears to have them, but in some persons they are controlled by the laws and by reason, and the better desires prevail over them-either they are wholly banished or they become few and weak; while in the case of others they are stronger, and there are more of them.

Which appetites do you mean?
I mean those which are awake when the reasoning and human and ruling power is asleep; then the wild beast within us, gorged with meat or drink, starts up and having shaken off sleep, goes forth to satisfy his desires; and there is no conceivable folly or crime --not excepting incest or any other unnatural union, or parricide, or the eating of forbidden food --which at such a time, when he has parted company with all shame and sense, a man may not be ready to commit.

Most true, he said.
But when a man's pulse is healthy and temperate, and when before going to sleep he has awakened his rational powers, and fed them on noble thoughts and enquiries, collecting himself in meditation; after having first indulged his appetites neither too much nor too little, but just enough to lay them to sleep, and prevent them and their enjoyments and pains from interfering with the higher principle --which he leaves in the solitude of pure abstraction, free to contemplate and aspire to the knowledge of the unknown, whether in past, present, or future: when again he has allayed the passionate element, if he has a quarrel against any one --I say, when, after pacifying the two irrational principles, he rouses up the third, which is reason, before he takes his rest, then, as you know, he attains truth most nearly, and is least likely to be the sport of fantastic and lawless visions.

I quite agree.
In saying this I have been running into a digression; but the point which I desire to note is that in all of us, even in good men, there is a lawless wild-beast nature, which peers out in sleep. Pray, consider whether I am right, and you agree with me.

Yes, I agree.
And now remember the character which we attributed to the democratic man. He was supposed from his youth upwards to have been trained under a miserly parent, who encouraged the saving appetites in him, but discountenanced the unnecessary, which aim only at amusement and ornament?

And then he got into the company of a more refined, licentious sort of people, and taking to all their wanton ways rushed into the opposite extreme from an abhorrence of his father's meanness. At last, being a better man than his corruptors, he was drawn in both directions until he halted midway and led a life, not of vulgar and slavish passion, but of what he deemed moderate indulgence in various pleasures. After this manner the democrat was generated out of the oligarch?

Yes, he said; that was our view of him, and is so still.
And now, I said, years will have passed away, and you must conceive this man, such as he is, to have a son, who is brought up in his father's principles.

I can imagine him.
Then you must further imagine the same thing to happen to the son which has already happened to the father: --he is drawn into a perfectly lawless life, which by his seducers is termed perfect liberty; and his father and friends take part with his moderate desires, and the opposite party assist the opposite ones. As soon as these dire magicians and tyrant-makers find that they are losing their hold on him, they contrive to implant in him a master passion, to be lord over his idle and spendthrift lusts --a sort of monstrous winged drone --that is the only image which will adequately describe him.

Yes, he said, that is the only adequate image of him.
And when his other lusts, amid clouds of incense and perfumes and garlands and wines, and all the pleasures of a dissolute life, now let loose, come buzzing around him, nourishing to the utmost the sting of desire which they implant in his drone-like nature, then at last this lord of the soul, having Madness for the captain of his guard, breaks out into a frenzy: and if he finds in himself any good opinions or appetites in process of formation, and there is in him any sense of shame remaining, to these better principles he puts an end, and casts them forth until he has purged away temperance and brought in madness to the full.

Yes, he said, that is the way in which the tyrannical man is generated.

And is not this the reason why of old love has been called a tyrant?
I should not wonder.
Further, I said, has not a drunken man also the spirit of a tyrant?
He has.
And you know that a man who is deranged and not right in his mind, will fancy that he is able to rule, not only over men, but also over the gods?

That he will.
And the tyrannical man in the true sense of the word comes into being when, either under the influence of nature, or habit, or both, he becomes drunken, lustful, passionate? O my friend, is not that so?

Such is the man and such is his origin. And next, how does he live?
Suppose, as people facetiously say, you were to tell me.
I imagine, I said, at the next step in his progress, that there will be feasts and carousals and revellings and courtezans, and all that sort of thing; Love is the lord of the house within him, and orders all the concerns of his soul.

That is certain.
Yes; and every day and every night desires grow up many and formidable, and their demands are many.

They are indeed, he said.
His revenues, if he has any, are soon spent.
Then comes debt and the cutting down of his property.
Of course.
When he has nothing left, must not his desires, crowding in the nest like young ravens, be crying aloud for food; and he, goaded on by them, and especially by love himself, who is in a manner the captain of them, is in a frenzy, and would fain discover whom he can defraud or despoil of his property, in order that he may gratify them?

Yes, that is sure to be the case.
He must have money, no matter how, if he is to escape horrid pains and pangs.

He must.
And as in himself there was a succession of pleasures, and the new got the better of the old and took away their rights, so he being younger will claim to have more than his father and his mother, and if he has spent his own share of the property, he will take a slice of theirs.

No doubt he will.
And if his parents will not give way, then he will try first of all to cheat and deceive them.

Very true.
And if he fails, then he will use force and plunder them.
Yes, probably.
And if the old man and woman fight for their own, what then, my friend? Will the creature feel any compunction at tyrannizing over them?

Nay, he said, I should not feel at all comfortable about his parents.

But, O heavens! Adeimantus, on account of some newfangled love of a harlot, who is anything but a necessary connection, can you believe that he would strike the mother who is his ancient friend and necessary to his very existence, and would place her under the authority of the other, when she is brought under the same roof with her; or that, under like circumstances, he would do the same to his withered old father, first and most indispensable of friends, for the sake of some newly found blooming youth who is the reverse of indispensable?

Yes, indeed, he said; I believe that he would.
Truly, then, I said, a tyrannical son is a blessing to his father and mother.

He is indeed, he replied.
He first takes their property, and when that falls, and pleasures are beginning to swarm in the hive of his soul, then he breaks into a house, or steals the garments of some nightly wayfarer; next he proceeds to clear a temple. Meanwhile the old opinions which he had when a child, and which gave judgment about good and evil, are overthrown by those others which have just been emancipated, and are now the bodyguard of love and share his empire. These in his democratic days, when he was still subject to the laws and to his father, were only let loose in the dreams of sleep. But now that he is under the dominion of love, he becomes always and in waking reality what he was then very rarely and in a dream only; he will commit the foulest murder, or eat forbidden food, or be guilty of any other horrid act. Love is his tyrant, and lives lordly in him and lawlessly, and being himself a king, leads him on, as a tyrant leads a State, to the performance of any reckless deed by which he can maintain himself and the rabble of his associates, whether those whom evil communications have brought in from without, or those whom he himself has allowed to break loose within him by reason of a similar evil nature in himself. Have we not here a picture of his way of life?

Yes, indeed, he said.
And if there are only a few of them in the State, the rest of the people are well disposed, they go away and become the bodyguard or mercenary soldiers of some other tyrant who may probably want them for a war; and if there is no war, they stay at home and do many little pieces of mischief in the city.

What sort of mischief?
For example, they are the thieves, burglars, cutpurses, footpads, robbers of temples, man-stealers of the community; or if they are able to speak they turn informers, and bear false witness, and take bribes.

A small catalogue of evils, even if the perpetrators of them are few in number.

Yes, I said; but small and great are comparative terms, and all these things, in the misery and evil which they inflict upon a State, do not come within a thousand miles of the tyrant; when this noxious class and their followers grow numerous and become conscious of their strength, assisted by the infatuation of the people, they choose from among themselves the one who has most of the tyrant in his own soul, and him they create their tyrant.

Yes, he said, and he will be the most fit to be a tyrant.
If the people yield, well and good; but if they resist him, as he began by beating his own father and mother, so now, if he has the power, he beats them, and will keep his dear old fatherland or motherland, as the Cretans say, in subjection to his young retainers whom he has introduced to be their rulers and masters. This is the end of his passions and desires.

When such men are only private individuals and before they get power, this is their character; they associate entirely with their own flatterers or ready tools; or if they want anything from anybody, they in their turn are equally ready to bow down before them: they profess every sort of affection for them; but when they have gained their point they know them no more.

Yes, truly.
They are always either the masters or servants and never the friends of anybody; the tyrant never tastes of true freedom or friendship.

Certainly not.
And may we not rightly call such men treacherous?
No question.
Also they are utterly unjust, if we were right in our notion of justice?

Yes, he said, and we were perfectly right.
Let us then sum up in a word, I said, the character of the worst man: he is the waking reality of what we dreamed.

Most true.
And this is he who being by nature most of a tyrant bears rule, and the longer he lives the more of a tyrant he becomes.

Plato - On the Development of Tyranny from Democracy

Say then, my friend, in what manner does tyranny arise? --that it has a democratic origin is evident.

And does not tyranny spring from democracy in the same manner as democracy from oligarchy --I mean, after a sort?

The good which oligarchy proposed to itself and the means by which it was maintained was excess of wealth --am I not right?

And the insatiable desire of wealth and the neglect of all other things for the sake of money-getting was also the ruin of oligarchy?

And democracy has her own good, of which the insatiable desire brings her to dissolution?

What good?
Freedom, I replied; which, as they tell you in a democracy, is the glory of the State --and that therefore in a democracy alone will the freeman of nature deign to dwell.

Yes; the saying is in everybody's mouth.
I was going to observe, that the insatiable desire of this and the neglect of other things introduces the change in democracy, which occasions a demand for tyranny.

How so?
When a democracy which is thirsting for freedom has evil cupbearers presiding over the feast, and has drunk too deeply of the strong wine of freedom, then, unless her rulers are very amenable and give a plentiful draught, she calls them to account and punishes them, and says that they are cursed oligarchs.

Yes, he replied, a very common occurrence.
Yes, I said; and loyal citizens are insultingly termed by her slaves who hug their chains and men of naught; she would have subjects who are like rulers, and rulers who are like subjects: these are men after her own heart, whom she praises and honours both in private and public. Now, in such a State, can liberty have any limit?

Certainly not.
By degrees the anarchy finds a way into private houses, and ends by getting among the animals and infecting them.

How do you mean?
I mean that the father grows accustomed to descend to the level of his sons and to fear them, and the son is on a level with his father, he having no respect or reverence for either of his parents; and this is his freedom, and metic is equal with the citizen and the citizen with the metic, and the stranger is quite as good as either.

Yes, he said, that is the way.
And these are not the only evils, I said --there are several lesser ones: In such a state of society the master fears and flatters his scholars, and the scholars despise their masters and tutors; young and old are all alike; and the young man is on a level with the old, and is ready to compete with him in word or deed; and old men condescend to the young and are full of pleasantry and gaiety; they are loth to be thought morose and authoritative, and therefore they adopt the manners of the young.

Quite true, he said.
The last extreme of popular liberty is when the slave bought with money, whether male or female, is just as free as his or her purchaser; nor must I forget to tell of the liberty and equality of the two sexes in relation to each other.

Why not, as Aeschylus says, utter the word which rises to our lips?
That is what I am doing, I replied; and I must add that no one who does not know would believe, how much greater is the liberty which the animals who are under the dominion of man have in a democracy than in any other State: for truly, the she-dogs, as the proverb says, are as good as their she-mistresses, and the horses and asses have a way of marching along with all the rights and dignities of freemen; and they will run at anybody who comes in their way if he does not leave the road clear for them: and all things are just ready to burst with liberty.

When I take a country walk, he said, I often experience what you describe. You and I have dreamed the same thing.

And above all, I said, and as the result of all, see how sensitive the citizens become; they chafe impatiently at the least touch of authority and at length, as you know, they cease to care even for the laws, written or unwritten; they will have no one over them.

Yes, he said, I know it too well.
Such, my friend, I said, is the fair and glorious beginning out of which springs tyranny.

Glorious indeed, he said. But what is the next step?
The ruin of oligarchy is the ruin of democracy; the same disease magnified and intensified by liberty overmasters democracy --the truth being that the excessive increase of anything often causes a reaction in the opposite direction; and this is the case not only in the seasons and in vegetable and animal life, but above all in forms of government.

The excess of liberty, whether in States or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.

Yes, the natural order.
And so tyranny naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty?

As we might expect.
That, however, was not, as I believe, your question-you rather desired to know what is that disorder which is generated alike in oligarchy and democracy, and is the ruin of both?

Just so, he replied.
Well, I said, I meant to refer to the class of idle spendthrifts, of whom the more courageous are the-leaders and the more timid the followers, the same whom we were comparing to drones, some stingless, and others having stings.

A very just comparison.
These two classes are the plagues of every city in which they are generated, being what phlegm and bile are to the body. And the good physician and lawgiver of the State ought, like the wise bee-master, to keep them at a distance and prevent, if possible, their ever coming in; and if they have anyhow found a way in, then he should have them and their cells cut out as speedily as possible.

Yes, by all means, he said.
Then, in order that we may see clearly what we are doing, let us imagine democracy to be divided, as indeed it is, into three classes; for in the first place freedom creates rather more drones in the democratic than there were in the oligarchical State.

That is true.
And in the democracy they are certainly more intensified.
How so?
Because in the oligarchical State they are disqualified and driven from office, and therefore they cannot train or gather strength; whereas in a democracy they are almost the entire ruling power, and while the keener sort speak and act, the rest keep buzzing about the bema and do not suffer a word to be said on the other side; hence in democracies almost everything is managed by the drones.

Very true, he said.
Then there is another class which is always being severed from the mass.

What is that?
They are the orderly class, which in a nation of traders sure to be the richest.

Naturally so.
They are the most squeezable persons and yield the largest amount of honey to the drones.

Why, he said, there is little to be squeezed out of people who have little.

And this is called the wealthy class, and the drones feed upon them.
That is pretty much the case, he said.
The people are a third class, consisting of those who work with their own hands; they are not politicians, and have not much to live upon. This, when assembled, is the largest and most powerful class in a democracy.

True, he said; but then the multitude is seldom willing to congregate unless they get a little honey.

And do they not share? I said. Do not their leaders deprive the rich of their estates and distribute them among the people; at the same time taking care to reserve the larger part for themselves?

Why, yes, he said, to that extent the people do share.
And the persons whose property is taken from them are compelled to defend themselves before the people as they best can?

What else can they do?
And then, although they may have no desire of change, the others charge them with plotting against the people and being friends of oligarchy? True.

And the end is that when they see the people, not of their own accord, but through ignorance, and because they are deceived by informers, seeking to do them wrong, then at last they are forced to become oligarchs in reality; they do not wish to be, but the sting of the drones torments them and breeds revolution in them.

That is exactly the truth.
Then come impeachments and judgments and trials of one another.
The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness.

Yes, that is their way.
This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector.

Yes, that is quite clear.
How then does a protector begin to change into a tyrant? Clearly when he does what the man is said to do in the tale of the Arcadian temple of Lycaean Zeus.

What tale?
The tale is that he who has tasted the entrails of a single human victim minced up with the entrails of other victims is destined to become a wolf. Did you never hear it?

Oh, yes.
And the protector of the people is like him; having a mob entirely at his disposal, he is not restrained from shedding the blood of kinsmen; by the favourite method of false accusation he brings them into court and murders them, making the life of man to disappear, and with unholy tongue and lips tasting the blood of his fellow citizen; some he kills and others he banishes, at the same time hinting at the abolition of debts and partition of lands: and after this, what will be his destiny? Must he not either perish at the hands of his enemies, or from being a man become a wolf --that is, a tyrant?

This, I said, is he who begins to make a party against the rich?
The same.
After a while he is driven out, but comes back, in spite of his enemies, a tyrant full grown.

That is clear.
And if they are unable to expel him, or to get him condemned to death by a public accusation, they conspire to assassinate him.

Yes, he said, that is their usual way.
Then comes the famous request for a bodyguard, which is the device of all those who have got thus far in their tyrannical career --'Let not the people's friend,' as they say, 'be lost to them.'

The people readily assent; all their fears are for him --they have none for themselves.

Very true.
And when a man who is wealthy and is also accused of being an enemy of the people sees this, then, my friend, as the oracle said to Croesus,

By pebbly Hermus' shore he flees and rests not and is not ashamed to be a coward.

And quite right too, said he, for if he were, he would never be ashamed again.

But if he is caught he dies.
Of course.
And he, the protector of whom we spoke, is to be seen, not 'larding the plain' with his bulk, but himself the overthrower of many, standing up in the chariot of State with the reins in his hand, no longer protector, but tyrant absolute.

No doubt, he said.
And now let us consider the happiness of the man, and also of the State in which a creature like him is generated.

Yes, he said, let us consider that.
At first, in the early days of his power, he is full of smiles, and he salutes every one whom he meets; --he to be called a tyrant, who is making promises in public and also in private! liberating debtors, and distributing land to the people and his followers, and wanting to be so kind and good to every one!

Of course, he said.
But when he has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.

To be sure.
Has he not also another object, which is that they may be impoverished by payment of taxes, and thus compelled to devote themselves to their daily wants and therefore less likely to conspire against him? Clearly.

And if any of them are suspected by him of having notions of freedom, and of resistance to his authority, he will have a good pretext for destroying them by placing them at the mercy of the enemy; and for all these reasons the tyrant must be always getting up a war.

He must.
Now he begins to grow unpopular.
A necessary result.
Then some of those who joined in setting him up, and who are in power, speak their minds to him and to one another, and the more courageous of them cast in his teeth what is being done.

Yes, that may be expected.
And the tyrant, if he means to rule, must get rid of them; he cannot stop while he has a friend or an enemy who is good for anything.

He cannot.
And therefore he must look about him and see who is valiant, who is high-minded, who is wise, who is wealthy; happy man, he is the enemy of them all, and must seek occasion against them whether he will or no, until he has made a purgation of the State.

Yes, he said, and a rare purgation.
Yes, I said, not the sort of purgation which the physicians make of the body; for they take away the worse and leave the better part, but he does the reverse.

If he is to rule, I suppose that he cannot help himself.
What a blessed alternative, I said: --to be compelled to dwell only with the many bad, and to be by them hated, or not to live at all!

Yes, that is the alternative.
And the more detestable his actions are to the citizens the more satellites and the greater devotion in them will he require?

And who are the devoted band, and where will he procure them?
They will flock to him, he said, of their own accord, if lie pays them.

By the dog! I said, here are more drones, of every sort and from every land.

Yes, he said, there are.
But will he not desire to get them on the spot?
How do you mean?
He will rob the citizens of their slaves; he will then set them free and enrol them in his bodyguard.

To be sure, he said; and he will be able to trust them best of all.
What a blessed creature, I said, must this tyrant be; he has put to death the others and has these for his trusted friends.

Yes, he said; they are quite of his sort.
Yes, I said, and these are the new citizens whom he has called into existence, who admire him and are his companions, while the good hate and avoid him.

Of course.
Verily, then, tragedy is a wise thing and Euripides a great tragedian.

Why so?
Why, because he is the author of the pregnant saying,

Tyrants are wise by living with the wise; and he clearly meant to say that they are the wise whom the tyrant makes his companions.

Yes, he said, and he also praises tyranny as godlike; and many other things of the same kind are said by him and by the other poets.

And therefore, I said, the tragic poets being wise men will forgive us and any others who live after our manner if we do not receive them into our State, because they are the eulogists of tyranny.

Yes, he said, those who have the wit will doubtless forgive us.
But they will continue to go to other cities and attract mobs, and hire voices fair and loud and persuasive, and draw the cities over to tyrannies and democracies.

Very true.
Moreover, they are paid for this and receive honour --the greatest honour, as might be expected, from tyrants, and the next greatest from democracies; but the higher they ascend our constitution hill, the more their reputation fails, and seems unable from shortness of breath to proceed further.

But we are wandering from the subject: Let us therefore return and enquire how the tyrant will maintain that fair and numerous and various and ever-changing army of his.

If, he said, there are sacred treasures in the city, he will confiscate and spend them; and in so far as the fortunes of attainted persons may suffice, he will be able to diminish the taxes which he would otherwise have to impose upon the people.

And when these fail?
Why, clearly, he said, then he and his boon companions, whether male or female, will be maintained out of his father's estate.

You mean to say that the people, from whom he has derived his being, will maintain him and his companions?

Yes, he said; they cannot help themselves.
But what if the people fly into a passion, and aver that a grown-up son ought not to be supported by his father, but that the father should be supported by the son? The father did not bring him into being, or settle him in life, in order that when his son became a man he should himself be the servant of his own servants and should support him and his rabble of slaves and companions; but that his son should protect him, and that by his help he might be emancipated from the government of the rich and aristocratic, as they are termed. And so he bids him and his companions depart, just as any other father might drive out of the house a riotous son and his undesirable associates.

By heaven, he said, then the parent will discover what a monster he has been fostering in his bosom; and, when he wants to drive him out, he will find that he is weak and his son strong.

Why, you do not mean to say that the tyrant will use violence? What! beat his father if he opposes him?

Yes, he will, having first disarmed him.
Then he is a parricide, and a cruel guardian of an aged parent; and this is real tyranny, about which there can be no longer a mistake: as the saying is, the people who would escape the smoke which is the slavery of freemen, has fallen into the fire which is the tyranny of slaves. Thus liberty, getting out of all order and reason, passes into the harshest and bitterest form of slavery.

True, he said.
Very well; and may we not rightly say that we have sufficiently discussed the nature of tyranny, and the manner of the transition from democracy to tyranny?

Yes, quite enough, he said.

Plato - On the Development of a Democracy

Next comes democracy; of this the origin and nature have still to be considered by us; and then we will enquire into the ways of the democratic man, and bring him up for judgement.

That, he said, is our method.
Well, I said, and how does the change from oligarchy into democracy arise? Is it not on this wise? --The good at which such a State aims is to become as rich as possible, a desire which is insatiable?

What then?
The rulers, being aware that their power rests upon their wealth, refuse to curtail by law the extravagance of the spendthrift youth because they gain by their ruin; they take interest from them and buy up their estates and thus increase their own wealth and importance?

To be sure.
There can be no doubt that the love of wealth and the spirit of moderation cannot exist together in citizens of the same State to any considerable extent; one or the other will be disregarded.

That is tolerably clear.
And in oligarchical States, from the general spread of carelessness and extravagance, men of good family have often been reduced to beggary?

Yes, often.
And still they remain in the city; there they are, ready to sting and fully armed, and some of them owe money, some have forfeited their citizenship; a third class are in both predicaments; and they hate and conspire against those who have got their property, and against everybody else, and are eager for revolution.

That is true.
On the other hand, the men of business, stooping as they walk, and pretending not even to see those whom they have already ruined, insert their sting --that is, their money --into some one else who is not on his guard against them, and recover the parent sum many times over multiplied into a family of children: and so they make drone and pauper to abound in the State.

Yes, he said, there are plenty of them --that is certain.
The evil blazes up like a fire; and they will not extinguish it, either by restricting a man's use of his own property, or by another remedy:

What other?
One which is the next best, and has the advantage of compelling the citizens to look to their characters: --Let there be a general rule that every one shall enter into voluntary contracts at his own risk, and there will be less of this scandalous money-making, and the evils of which we were speaking will be greatly lessened in the State.

Yes, they will be greatly lessened.
At present the governors, induced by the motives which I have named, treat their subjects badly; while they and their adherents, especially the young men of the governing class, are habituated to lead a life of luxury and idleness both of body and mind; they do nothing, and are incapable of resisting either pleasure or pain.

Very true.
They themselves care only for making money, and are as indifferent as the pauper to the cultivation of virtue.

Yes, quite as indifferent.
Such is the state of affairs which prevails among them. And often rulers and their subjects may come in one another's way, whether on a pilgrimage or a march, as fellow-soldiers or fellow-sailors; aye, and they may observe the behaviour of each other in the very moment of danger --for where danger is, there is no fear that the poor will be despised by the rich --and very likely the wiry sunburnt poor man may be placed in battle at the side of a wealthy one who has never spoilt his complexion and has plenty of superfluous flesh --when he sees such an one puffing and at his wit's end, how can he avoid drawing the conclusion that men like him are only rich because no one has the courage to despoil them? And when they meet in private will not people be saying to one another 'Our warriors are not good for much'?

Yes, he said, I am quite aware that this is their way of talking.
And, as in a body which is diseased the addition of a touch from without may bring on illness, and sometimes even when there is no external provocation a commotion may arise within-in the same way wherever there is weakness in the State there is also likely to be illness, of which the occasions may be very slight, the one party introducing from without their oligarchical, the other their democratical allies, and then the State falls sick, and is at war with herself; and may be at times distracted, even when there is no external cause.

Yes, surely.
And then democracy comes into being after the poor have conquered their opponents, slaughtering some and banishing some, while to the remainder they give an equal share of freedom and power; and this is the form of government in which the magistrates are commonly elected by lot.

Yes, he said, that is the nature of democracy, whether the revolution has been effected by arms, or whether fear has caused the opposite party to withdraw.

And now what is their manner of life, and what sort of a government have they? for as the government is, such will be the man.

Clearly, he said.
In the first place, are they not free; and is not the city full of freedom and frankness --a man may say and do what he likes?

'Tis said so, he replied.
And where freedom is, the individual is clearly able to order for himself his own life as he pleases?

Then in this kind of State there will be the greatest variety of human natures?

There will.
This, then, seems likely to be the fairest of States, being an embroidered robe which is spangled with every sort of flower. And just as women and children think a variety of colours to be of all things most charming, so there are many men to whom this State, which is spangled with the manners and characters of mankind, will appear to be the fairest of States.

Yes, my good Sir, and there will be no better in which to look for a government.

Because of the liberty which reigns there --they have a complete assortment of constitutions; and he who has a mind to establish a State, as we have been doing, must go to a democracy as he would to a bazaar at which they sell them, and pick out the one that suits him; then, when he has made his choice, he may found his State.

He will be sure to have patterns enough.
And there being no necessity, I said, for you to govern in this State, even if you have the capacity, or to be governed, unless you like, or go to war when the rest go to war, or to be at peace when others are at peace, unless you are so disposed --there being no necessity also, because some law forbids you to hold office or be a dicast, that you should not hold office or be a dicast, if you have a fancy --is not this a way of life which for the moment is supremely delightful

For the moment, yes.
And is not their humanity to the condemned in some cases quite charming? Have you not observed how, in a democracy, many persons, although they have been sentenced to death or exile, just stay where they are and walk about the world --the gentleman parades like a hero, and nobody sees or cares?

Yes, he replied, many and many a one.
See too, I said, the forgiving spirit of democracy, and the 'don't care' about trifles, and the disregard which she shows of all the fine principles which we solemnly laid down at the foundation of the city --as when we said that, except in the case of some rarely gifted nature, there never will be a good man who has not from his childhood been used to play amid things of beauty and make of them a joy and a study --how grandly does she trample all these fine notions of ours under her feet, never giving a thought to the pursuits which make a statesman, and promoting to honour any one who professes to be the people's friend.

Yes, she is of a noble spirit.
These and other kindred characteristics are proper to democracy, which is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.

We know her well.
Consider now, I said, what manner of man the individual is, or rather consider, as in the case of the State, how he comes into being.

Very good, he said.
Is not this the way --he is the son of the miserly and oligarchical father who has trained him in his own habits?

And, like his father, he keeps under by force the pleasures which are of the spending and not of the getting sort, being those which are called unnecessary?

Would you like, for the sake of clearness, to distinguish which are the necessary and which are the unnecessary pleasures?

I should.
Are not necessary pleasures those of which we cannot get rid, and of which the satisfaction is a benefit to us? And they are rightly so, because we are framed by nature to desire both what is beneficial and what is necessary, and cannot help it.

We are not wrong therefore in calling them necessary?
We are not.
And the desires of which a man may get rid, if he takes pains from his youth upwards --of which the presence, moreover, does no good, and in some cases the reverse of good --shall we not be right in saying that all these are unnecessary?

Yes, certainly.
Suppose we select an example of either kind, in order that we may have a general notion of them?

Very good.
Will not the desire of eating, that is, of simple food and condiments, in so far as they are required for health and strength, be of the necessary class?

That is what I should suppose.
The pleasure of eating is necessary in two ways; it does us good and it is essential to the continuance of life?

But the condiments are only necessary in so far as they are good for health?

And the desire which goes beyond this, or more delicate food, or other luxuries, which might generally be got rid of, if controlled and trained in youth, and is hurtful to the body, and hurtful to the soul in the pursuit of wisdom and virtue, may be rightly called unnecessary?

Very true.
May we not say that these desires spend, and that the others make money because they conduce to production?

And of the pleasures of love, and all other pleasures, the same holds good?

And the drone of whom we spoke was he who was surfeited in pleasures and desires of this sort, and was the slave of the unnecessary desires, whereas he who was subject o the necessary only was miserly and oligarchical?

Very true.
Again, let us see how the democratical man grows out of the oligarchical: the following, as I suspect, is commonly the process.

What is the process?
When a young man who has been brought up as we were just now describing, in a vulgar and miserly way, has tasted drones' honey and has come to associate with fierce and crafty natures who are able to provide for him all sorts of refinements and varieties of pleasure --then, as you may imagine, the change will begin of the oligarchical principle within him into the democratical?

And as in the city like was helping like, and the change was effected by an alliance from without assisting one division of the citizens, so too the young man is changed by a class of desires coming from without to assist the desires within him, that which is and alike again helping that which is akin and alike?

And if there be any ally which aids the oligarchical principle within him, whether the influence of a father or of kindred, advising or rebuking him, then there arises in his soul a faction and an opposite faction, and he goes to war with himself.

It must be so.
And there are times when the democratical principle gives way to the oligarchical, and some of his desires die, and others are banished; a spirit of reverence enters into the young man's soul and order is restored.

Yes, he said, that sometimes happens.
And then, again, after the old desires have been driven out, fresh ones spring up, which are akin to them, and because he, their father, does not know how to educate them, wax fierce and numerous.

Yes, he said, that is apt to be the way.
They draw him to his old associates, and holding secret intercourse with them, breed and multiply in him.

Very true.
At length they seize upon the citadel of the young man's soul, which they perceive to be void of all accomplishments and fair pursuits and true words, which make their abode in the minds of men who are dear to the gods, and are their best guardians and sentinels.

None better.
False and boastful conceits and phrases mount upwards and take their place.

They are certain to do so.
And so the young man returns into the country of the lotus-eaters, and takes up his dwelling there in the face of all men; and if any help be sent by his friends to the oligarchical part of him, the aforesaid vain conceits shut the gate of the king's fastness; and they will neither allow the embassy itself to enter, private if private advisers offer the fatherly counsel of the aged will they listen to them or receive them. There is a battle and they gain the day, and then modesty, which they call silliness, is ignominiously thrust into exile by them, and temperance, which they nickname unmanliness, is trampled in the mire and cast forth; they persuade men that moderation and orderly expenditure are vulgarity and meanness, and so, by the help of a rabble of evil appetites, they drive them beyond the border.

Yes, with a will.
And when they have emptied and swept clean the soul of him who is now in their power and who is being initiated by them in great mysteries, the next thing is to bring back to their house insolence and anarchy and waste and impudence in bright array having garlands on their heads, and a great company with them, hymning their praises and calling them by sweet names; insolence they term breeding, and anarchy liberty, and waste magnificence, and impudence courage. And so the young man passes out of his original nature, which was trained in the school of necessity, into the freedom and libertinism of useless and unnecessary pleasures.

Yes, he said, the change in him is visible enough.
After this he lives on, spending his money and labour and time on unnecessary pleasures quite as much as on necessary ones; but if he be fortunate, and is not too much disordered in his wits, when years have elapsed, and the heyday of passion is over --supposing that he then re-admits into the city some part of the exiled virtues, and does not wholly give himself up to their successors --in that case he balances his pleasures and lives in a sort of equilibrium, putting the government of himself into the hands of the one which comes first and wins the turn; and when he has had enough of that, then into the hands of another; he despises none of them but encourages them all equally.

Very true, he said.
Neither does he receive or let pass into the fortress any true word of advice; if any one says to him that some pleasures are the satisfactions of good and noble desires, and others of evil desires, and that he ought to use and honour some and chastise and master the others --whenever this is repeated to him he shakes his head and says that they are all alike, and that one is as good as another.

Yes, he said; that is the way with him.
Yes, I said, he lives from day to day indulging the appetite of the hour; and sometimes he is lapped in drink and strains of the flute; then he becomes a water-drinker, and tries to get thin; then he takes a turn at gymnastics; sometimes idling and neglecting everything, then once more living the life of a philosopher; often he-is busy with politics, and starts to his feet and says and does whatever comes into his head; and, if he is emulous of any one who is a warrior, off he is in that direction, or of men of business, once more in that. His life has neither law nor order; and this distracted existence he terms joy and bliss and freedom; and so he goes on.

Yes, he replied, he is all liberty and equality.
Yes, I said; his life is motley and manifold and an epitome of the lives of many; --he answers to the State which we described as fair and spangled. And many a man and many a woman will take him for their pattern, and many a constitution and many an example of manners is contained in him.

Just so.
Let him then be set over against democracy; he may truly be called the democratic man.

Separation of Church and State -- Why Klein May Be a Genius

According this article posted at the CBC, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has "suggested that his province may get out of the marriage business." The provincial government may truly separate church from state, leaving marriages solely in the hands of religious institutions and civil unions in the hands of the state.
Interesting idea. The intention of course is to protect religious officials from potential lawsuits filed by gay activists looking to pick a fight... a distinct possibility under the current legislation. It's an excellent way of getting around the problem, and I am curious to know what any potential drawbacks might be.

"A Contentious and Divisive Bill..."

That is the description CTV gave to Bill C-38, which was passed last night. The vote was 158 for to 133 against. Canada.com and others are also carrying a similar story.

There is nothing positive to say about the passing of this bill. From start to finish it has been nothing more than a travesty of justice. It is an immoral bill passed by an immoral Prime Minister who has no authority to govern this country. As I have already expressed a few times in this blog, this bill opens the doors to a host of lawsuits against churches who refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for homosexuals. With guys like Bourassa demanding loss of charitable status for those religious institutions who refuse to comply, I consider my belief to be well-founded. Should a church minister be brought before a Human Rights Tribunal, there is no safety net in place to protect his right to freedom of religion.
Another issue has been on my mind. Why gay marriage? Why not some other bill? Why did the government not feel any great urge to rush through a bill that might fix our ailing Health Care System? In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling, it certainly would have been a good move. If not Health Care, then the government could have rushed through a bill to clean up our environment, provide more support for the poor and elderly, lower crime, provide affordable housing or decrease tuition costs for post-secondary education. All of these things are badly needed and would certainly affect a portion of a population that is much greater than a measely 2 or 3 percent.
Instead of focusing on any of those things, the government decided (erroneously I might add) to view gay marriage as a right. It's not a right. How can it be? Straight marriage isn't even a right. But, even if it were, do we not also have the right to a clean environment? Health Care may not be a right in a strictest sense, but since we have it, do we not have the right to an improved version? Do we not have the right to live in safety and freedom from harm? Why are these things less important than grovelling to a microscopic portion of the population over something that is not a right?
Most importantly, what about my right and the rights of others, to freedom of religion? This is by far the most significant problem with this bill. The religious freedoms of a majority of the population are now in the potential position of being held hostage by a very small, elite minority.
This is not democracy.
This isn't even aristocracy (government by the best).
It is tyranny, a subjugation of the wills of the people to the whims and wishes of a corrupt leader or group.


Harper and Bill C-38

Canada.com and Macleans are carrying a story that Harper has promised to revisit the same sex marriage bill, should he be elected Prime Minister. Neither article says exactly what he plans to do when revisiting the bill, except to say that he will hold a free vote. Presumably he will repeal the legislation.


Feeds from the Conservative Party of Canada website have been added to the sidebar. It occurs to me that green isn't all that readable when you have alot of it. I might change the shade.

A Resignation

According to Politics Watch and other news sources, Liberal MP Joe Comuzzi has resigned from the cabinet. He will take a position on the backbench so that he can vote against Bill C-38. The bill is expected to come to a vote later today.
The article in the Globe goes on to say that Five Bloc MPs and one NDP, Bev Desjarlais, also joined most Conservatives in opposing the legislation. Ms. Desjarlais had been threatened with expulsion from the NDP caucus if she opposed the bill. NDP spokesman Ian Capstick said NDP Leader Jack Layton was meeting caucus executives to decide what consequences would flow from Ms. Desjarlais's decision to vote against the party's position on the issue.
What a step for the NDP to take! What a pack of hypocrites to call themselves a democratic party when they punish members for voting according to their conscience and the wishes of their constituents!! Interestingly enough, although the CBC mentions that one NDP member does not support the bill, it doesn't giver her name and doesn't mention any dissent within the Bloc at all.
This article at the National Post mentions that the bill survived on a vote of 154 to 124. Now, there are 308 seats in the House. A tally of the votes gives only 278. Presumably these 30 people abstained, although it seems likely that at least a few just weren't there. It would be very interesting to know what parties those remaining votes are with.



Rick Mercer's blog is apparently annoying people. I guess the Marxist-Lenninist joke was lost on most people.
Every now and then, something will happen that reminds me just how much nerdier I am than the average person. This is one of those times. My reaction to Mercer's blog was:
-"Wow. It's black. Yikes."
-"Hmm. No pics of himself and it's one of the blogger templates. No profile information. He must be a newbie."
-(upon reading lost icon comment)"Yep. Newbie."

So They Voted And...

As everyone knows by now, the NDP won its budget on Thursday night last week. Knowing that, had they voted today they would have lost, the Liberals pulled a fast one and had their vote at 11:30pm Thursday night. Members of the Opposition missed their chance to stop the budget. They also lost their chance to stop the same sex marriage legislation.
According to Canada.com, same sex marriage will be legalized some time this week. Nothing short of Divine Intervention will stop this bill now... and in my opinion, our country could really use it. With only 30 or so Liberal MP's and all but 3 Conservatives against the bill, there are not enough people in Parliament to stop it. Bill C-38 has the support of the majority of Liberals and all of the Bloc and NDP. After approval, the bill moves on to the Senate. Sadly, our senate is little better than a giant rubber stamp and it is unlikely to face any opposition there, the might Anne Cools notwithstanding.

It is unfortunate that those Liberals who were so opposed to Bill C-38 did not follow in the footsteps of the Honourable MP O'Brien. Many were opposed to extending the Parliamentary session because they knew that Bill C-38 would be forced through. This week, many will vote against this bill. However, they could have prevented the vote altogether by voting against the budget. It is impossible to believe that any Liberal MP believes that a 400 word deal concocted with the NDP in order to preserve Martin's rule benefits the public. The only possible reason for supporting the bill would be to preserve one's position within the party.
Backbenchers have little chance of advancement. That's why they are backbenchers. All Liberal MP's opposed to Bill C-38 are backbenchers.
What did they think they had to lose?
Had the government fallen, eviction from the party seems unlikely at best. The move would be foolhardy when one considers the fact that some MP's (Galloway comes to mind) have repeatedly won in their ridings. What disciplinary action would be left to the PM? Not much.
And yet these 30 Liberal MP's, many of whom claim to be professing Christians, chose the spineless route. Instead of standing up for their constituents, their own beliefs and sending a resounding signal to the government that corruption and immorality would not be tolerated, they did nothing.
Sad but true.


Could it be Tonight?

According to this mini brief at Canada.com, Bill C-48 could come to a vote tonight at 11:30 pm. No doubt this is because if the Liberals wait until Monday, they could find themselves without the numbers they need to win.

And No Sooner Do I Post But...

I tune into CPAC and what do I find?
Finally they are getting to the vote.
First the Conservatives proposed an ammended to say that Parliament shal break until September.
For: 101
Against: 197
The ammendment was defeated.
Then they are voted on the main motion, that is the extension proposed by Valeri so that Parliament sits Mondays till Thursday until midnight for an unspecified length of time.
For: 191
Against: 108
The motion passed.
So, Parliament will be sitting until further notice.

Why I would be a Bad Politician

I just tuned in to CPAC for about the fourth time today.
They are still debating motion 17, that is Liberal MP Valeri's motion to extend the Parliamentary sitting. Every news outlet has told me that the vote now has the support of the Bloc and the motion is likely to vote.
However, every news source has neglected to mention the rather important fact that if they don't stop talking and vote, it doesn't matter whether anyone supports the motion or not. Time still runs out at midnight. When time runs out, not only will it be too late to vote on the motion, the NDP will not get their Bill C-48... not to mention the fact that Bill C-38 will also wait until the fall.
I mention this because the first time I checked CPAC to see if they had voted yet was sometime around lunch. Liberal MP Galloway was talking about why he was against extending the sitting. I assume they broke for Question Period as usual at 2pm, but I confess I did not watch.
It's now gone 8pm.
They are still talking.
If I were there, I'd be the one in the corner going "Ok fine. Whatever. Can we vote now?" But of course, talking until midnight is probably the point. I will keep checking to see if they do actually vote.

Extended Sitting Vote

According to several media outlets, the vote on extending Parliamentary sitting should take place this afternoon. The vote on Bill C-48 is also supposed to take place sometime soon, but according to CTV, it could be the end of this week or early next week.
If the extension vote fails to pass and Parliament ends tonight at midnight, will that mean that the NDP stands not to gain their budgetary concessions?


Who Needs Satire?

I read the title of this article posted in Maclean's and literally laughed out loud.
Then I read the first line. They are completely serious.
The Liberal government is trumpeting the installation of Bernard Shapiro as ethics commissioner as an example of democratic reform ... the Liberals also cited Belinda Stronach, who crossed the floor from the Conservatives to prop up the government in a key budget vote, as another icon of their reform agenda.
Far in the future I predict someone will write a book entitled "The Joke that was Canadian Democracy."

What an MP Said Just Now...

An MP, on the government side (I'm not sure who it was, I missed his name) just stood up and said that the Conservative party under Mulroney had the worst record for corruption seen to date. He actually went so far as to say that the Conservatives have a worse corruption record than the Liberal Party.
No wonder people have the wrong idea about the Conservatives. No wonder there is so much misinformation floating around about who believes what, which party stands where, who has done what in the past and so on.
First off, the current Conservative Party platfrom bears little resemblance to that of the Conservative under Mulroney. It is much closer to the old Reform and Alliance party platforms. Comparisons between the two parties are often flawed, and the statement made by that MP is no exception.
Cameron's book "On the Take" aside, and no I haven't read it, it is simply a historical untruth that the Conservative Party has a corruption record on the same scale as of that of the Liberal Party. Mulroney did not go to anywhere near the same length's Martin and Chretien have in order to maintain power.

Bill C-48

The debate is on CPAC right now. I assume the vote will take place afterwards and if it does I will post the results. Right now, I have no predictions as I do not know what the seat count is.

On CPAC Just Now

If anyone else was watching, please clarify.
Did the Speaker just say that there would be no debate on extending Parliament sitting hours today? I missed whatever preceeded it.

The Blue Man Group

I spoted a link to this story on Spiderman's Web and simply had to comment. Before I begin, let me warn you: I am not a union fan. Also, to be fair, I have not actually been to see the Blue Man Group. I have no idea what the show is like, but they certainly have very cool commercials. If I had extra money lying around, I would probably go.
Members of the unionized theatre community protested at Sunday's Toronto premiere of the Blue Man show over the production's use of non-union labour.
People have a right to protest and I would not deny anyone their rights, but given that the Blue Man Group started in New York, why does a unionized theatre community in Toronto feel the need to protest? What do they hope to gain?
"... we have the right to say be a part of us," Bill Skolnik, of the association, told CTV News Toronto. Join our club? This is what your protest is about? Surely you must have something better to do on a Sunday afternoon. Whatever happened to theatre being about art, expression and experience? Why does a unionized group need to protest over a non-unionized group's artistiv expression?
Does this not seem even slightly counter-intuitive?

A Great Blog

Everyone should read Monte Solberg's Blog. Solberg is the MP for Medecine Hat, and a member of the Conservative Party. For being a politician, he's actually quite hilarious. His blog is an interesting read because it gives a good glimpse into how things work every day in Parliament.

The Continuing Health Care Debate

I noticed this story at Bound By Gravity this morning, and decided to check out a few of the links mentioned.
According to Sinister Thoughts, it has been 13 days since the Supreme Court decision on Health Care. In light of that, read the following exchange between a few Conservatives and Liberals in yesterday's Parliament. Things you should notice:
Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, CPC): Mr. Speaker, when it comes to privately owned health clinics, one of the biggest customers is the federal government itself. The Canadian Forces spent $1.3 million last year and $1.6 million the year before that. Like the Supreme Court, the Canadian Forces recognize that wait times in the public system are far too long, so they are sending their patients elsewhere. Is the Prime Minister opposed to our soldiers getting care from private clinics?
Notice the response.
Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, the Canadian Forces are not participating in the health care system with the provinces. We get our health care where we can in conjunction with the needs for those services. We acquire them from the public health care system, but we do use private facilities when necessary to meet our unique occupational needs. We have done that and we will continue to do that as we are not a part of the health care system of this country. We have unique characteristics and unique needs.
Now, who is we? The Armed Forces or the Federal government? I think the clue is in this statement:
Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister says that he is opposed to a two tier health system, but he gets his health care from a private clinic.
The hypocrisy of Martin's behaviour as it relates to Health Care has been discussed at length by various Blogging Tories members. I am happy to see that the Opposition also picked up on this argument and mentioned it during yesterday's session.
Here is the best question of all:
Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, CPC): ... The real question is why do the likes of Clifford Olson and Paul Bernardo get health care ahead of ordinary Canadians?
Dosanjh never actually answers this question. He says something about the RCMP, the Armed Forces and Workers Compensation boards. He says nothing at all about criminals.

So There Was a Vote

According to Canada.com and the Globe & Mail, the Liberals seven no confidence motions last night. The margin was 152 to 147, as six Tory MP's were missing. The next vote should be tomorrow, also the last day scheduled for sitting.
Tomorrow should also bring the vote on extending Parliament's sitting. It is not expected to pass, as at least one Liberal MP Roger Galloway has already stated he will be voting against it. Several unnamed Liberal backbenchers have also decided not to attend that particular vote.

Welcome to the Blogosphere

Famous Canadian Comedian Rick Mercer has started his own blog. It appears to be quite new, begun only this Monday. I plan to monitor it for a while of course, just to see how it develops.


The NDP Budget Vote

According to this article in Macleans, the vote on the NDP portion of the budget has now been scheduled for Thursday, the 23rd. Incidentally, this was also supposed to be the last day Parliament sits. The still seems to be no consensus on whether or not Valeri's motion to extend sitting hours (every night until midnight until Bill C-38 is passed... what a nut job) was successful or not.
The only thing that is clear is that the Bloc will not support the extended hours unless they have a guarantee in writing that the same sex bill will be passed before summer break...
which means the Bloc, in all likelihood will not be supporting the extended hours.

Outspoken Catholics

Whether it a perception based in reality or not, most evangelical Christians such as myself tend not to view Roman Catholics as being a particularly outspoken or evangelically inclined group.
However recent reactions to the government's drive to pass Bill C-38 have clearly shown that this perception is not necessarily accurate.
Take, for example, this article at Canada.com. Father Francis Geremia, a Catholic priest delivered not only a lengthy sermon against current government behaviour, but a fiery one to boot this Sunday passed. It must have been good to have made the paper.
In his lengthy Saturday sermon, Geremia never mentioned Martin by name, but spoke about the "government" visiting the neighbourhood to spread its wicked message. Parishioners described his message - delivered in Italian and repeated in English - as warning that there is a government in Ottawa "doing the devil's work." Geremia says he's determined to continue speaking out against the legislation because his conscience requires that.
I have never been to a Catholic mass, but that is one I would have liked to have seen.
As for Martin's belief that a person can walk the line between public policy and personal faith, and take the widest possible perspective he obviously has never heard of Sir Thomas More (a devout Catholic who lost his life for his beliefs) or read/watched A Man for All Seasons.

I believe that when a man exchanges his private conscience for the sake of his public duty, he leads his country by a short route to chaos.

Playing Chicken

According to an article in the Globe & Mail, yesterday's move extend Parliament's sitting hours was rather rare. Apparently, this has only happened twice since 1982, and the last time was in 1988 over free trade.
For whatever reason, the Liberals seem to be very anxious to force bill C-38 through, andthey are not taking the time to ensure the rights of the majority of Canadians.
In a move aimed at quieting same-sex marriage critics on the Liberal back bench, the party put forward an amendment that would ensure churches will not lose their charitable status for failing to perform gay marriages. That amendment was rejected by Commons Speaker Peter Milliken.
It's convenient to say it was rejected by the Speaker of the House, but the bottom line is that he has to follow very specific procedures. It would have been more accurate to say that the amendment was rejected by the government.
This opinion article, also published in the Globe & Mail, discusses the bullying tactics the Liberals are using to get this bill through. Essentially, this is all going to come down to a game of chicken. Ibbitson seems to feel that the Conservatives will lose, but to be honest I think this is something of an unfair statement. I also do not think that they would lose an election, were it to be called. I would also disagree with this observation:
The real risk for Mr. Martin is that the Tories will rally to defeat the government over its budget amendments, as a thermonuclear response to the Liberal challenge.
The real risk in my opinion is that Martin's determination to force through Bill C-38 without taking adequate precautions to protect the right of religious groups has the potential to alienate members of his own party. Should that happen, and only time will tell, then he would most certainly lose the next election. There are 35 Liberal MP's stoutly opposed to the same sex marriage bill. Should even one leave, then it will be a sign that Martin's end is nigh.
However, there has been precious little talk on who, or if indeed any, socially conservative Liberal MP's will be taking the plunge.
If every single Conservative and Bloc Québécois MP shows up for the vote on the budget bill, and independents Pat O'Brien and David Kilgour vote with them, the government will fall and there will be an election, because independent MP Chuck Cadman is probably too ill to make it to the House.
Unfortunately, as Ibbitson goes on to say, the Conservative happen to have 3 MP's who are quite ill. Should they not attend the budget vote which, if I am not mistaken happens tonight (I will have to check the time), then the Liberals will win.


So Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke It!

I'm not a believer in these so-called image makeovers. -- Stephen Harper
The National Post is running a good article on Harper... and the fact that he will not be remaking his image.
If there was ever a time for Handel's Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah...
Nor does Harper think he's getting a fair shake in the current debate over Christian political activists, including reports that at least eight Tory candidates have been nominated with links to Christian evangelical organizations. "There's at least that many in the Liberal party that sit in the Liberal government right now," Harper shot back. "What always disturbs me is how this concern about the Christian right or the Christians involved in politics always becomes a concern if it's in the Conservative party." He said the same media bias exists in the United States, where no one seemed to think it worth debate when Jimmy Carter, an evangelical Christian, was the Democratic president in the White House.
Actually, there's more like 30 Christians in the Liberal party. Whether or not they are evangelical is a different question of course, and one I don't know the answer to offhand. But the point is still well made.
Harper made no apologies for attempting to recruit people from a variety of faith groups to the Conservative cause. "If we're to . . . clean up government, end corruption, restore some sense of ethics and morality into politics, then you have to have people who are concerned with these kinds of things," said Harper. "If you continue to vote for people who say they have no ethics, you'll end up with an unethical government."
In fact, I could not agree more if I had said this myself.
And the kicker?
Harper made it clear he's not about to soften his stance on the issues that animate his political ambition - because a burnished image is not his goal. "Some of the image politics frustrates me a bit because that's not, obviously, what I'm in it for," he said.
I came so close to posting something last week about the fact that I'd never make it in politics due to the fact I don't care too much if people disagree with me when I'm right. It sounds arrogant when you say it, but I respect people who stick to their guns and I usually do the same. Certain types of stubbornness have great value in dealing with life. Now I wish I had made that post, because then I could write a big childish post consisting of nothing but "nyah, nyah nyah!!!"

Full Steam Ahead?

According to Politics Watch, Liberal MP Valeri put forward a motion this morning that could extend Parliament sitting until later this summer. It is unclear yet whether or not this motion passed. What is clear is that this motion is specifically intended to give the government enough time to pass the same sex marriage bill.
Valeri said if the NDP and the Bloc support his motion to extend the sitting, "then we would have a debate on C-38 and ultimately a vote." However, the Liberals could face division within their ranks if Valeri were to press for a motion to have a vote on gay marriage before the summer. When told about Valeri's plan to extend the sitting to pass the gay marriage legislation, one Liberal MP opposed to gay marriage legislation said, "He better not."
This could be a poor move on the part of the Liberal government. Their hold on power is not particularly strong at the moment. To me, it seems like folly to push a bill that a significant portion of your own party members are against. As usual however, The Liberals are accusing the Tories of filibustering Bill C-48, the $4.5 billion budget deal reached with the NDP in May, in an effort to push debate and votes on Bill C-38, the gay marriage bill into the fall, despite the obvious fact that not only are some Liberals against rushing the bill, but MPs have 10 minutes to speak to the bill in the House of Commons. The Tories have 98 MPs and approximately 40 have spoken on the budget bill so far.

An Excellent Comment

The following comment was posted at the SoundOff! that Canada.com is having regarding Harper's image make over.

I'm from Germany visiting family here in the US. During my stay here, I've traveled to Canada where I find much bitterness towards your Southern neighbors. I've been to these 2 countries so many times I lost track, but one thing I've seen during my travels, is that American people are warm and friendly, as I remember the Canadians used to be. Canada has lost it's character, and strength, and what made it the country that people used to long to see and go to. In my opinion and from what I've heard back home, Canada has fallen apart from the lack of respect for each other. What's happened? Have you people lost all respect for yourself? The make over should be in the people. You lost the image that other countries saw before. Why worry with one man's image when a whole country don't bother to see their own?

The last question is in bold because I felt it was particularly poignant. It has often been said that Canada fears its image is too closely tied to the US. The fellow who made the above comment seems to feel quite differently, and I think his opinion is worth noting. As a country, we may well have lost sight of the reality of who we are and what we are rapidly becoming. Is it posible that a country that once had great potential is going blind while others watch our downfall?

This Week on Parliament Hill

According to the Toronto Sun and others, the vote on the NDP budget is set for tomorrow. Former Liberal MP Pat O'Brien will be voting against the government. It is still up in the air as to whether or not he will be joined by other Liberal MP's also against the same-sex marriage.
Whether or not the parliamentary session will end this week or not is also up in the air. The session was expected to end this week, but it may continue in order that the same-sex marriage bill will pass. Of course, should the government fall tomorrow, any discussion will be moot point.


The weekend away was very nice. I love being able to relax and enjoy the outdoors. RootleWebImage has been updated with selection of the pics I took while away.


Gomery, the PM and Next Weeks Budget Vote

According to the Globe & Mail, the CBC and other media outlets, the government has officially asked Judge Gomery to explicitly exonerate Prime Minister Martin from all knowledge of the sponsorship program.
The fact that he was Finance Minister at the time (and therefore should have known where the money was going) aside, how can any government make such a request of an inquiry judge who is supposed to be impartial?

Meanwhile, the vote on bill C-48 that I thought was tonight will not be held until sometime next week. In light of the government's recent request of the judge, I can only hope that the government will fall. Mind you, even if they hadn't made such a request, I would still hope they'd fall.

I'm off to the cottage for the weekend and will not be posting again until Monday.

Let's Make a Deal... or Not

According to this morning's news, the government has refused the Tory offer of supporting the budget in exchange for a delay on Bill C-38.
When I heard about the Conservative offer yesterday, I thought it was a strange move. If they chose not to support the government and it were to fall, then Bill C-38 could be delayed indefinitely. Why make the offer? Given that the Liberals have now refused them, I must conclude that this was a chess move.
Tonight's vote on the NDP budget is a confidence motion.
Various reports have indicated that there are several Liberal backbenchers who are vigorously opposed to Bill C-38 and the government's attempt to ram it through. If you recall, MP O'Brien mentioned that there were several like-minded backbenchers who could be willing to vote against the budget if it meant that Bill C-38 would be delayed. The intent of making the offer then was probably to show these backbenchers what they already suspected: that the government has no intention of delaying Bill C-38. It could give them what they need in order to stand up and vote their government down.
Only tonight's vote will tell if that will be the case or not.


Is Image Everything?

According to the latest news, Harper will be spending the summer brushing up his image. (By the way, there's a SoundOff! there, so you know what to do.) Martin actually had the gall to suggest that he watch his waistline. As much as I loved the boldness of Quebec in their request for money, I have to be frank: this is the kind of boldness I do not like. As an aside, the article neglects to mention that this was Martin's response to a serious question brought up in Question Period about the continual challenges Judge Gomery is facing on account of Chretien.
But back to Harper.
Does it occur to anyone else that Harper's need to change his image in order to impress the public is a horrible reflection on the priorities of our society?
Consider the following: Harper is a 40-something, middle class Canadian that does not come from a political family. Neither Martin or Layton can say the same, both coming from upper class political families. He does not own several corporations, as Martin does. He does not personally benefit from tax cuts to big corporations, as Martin does. He is not tied to powerful unions, as Layton is.
These facts alone ought to be enough to make the average Canadian realize that they are dealing with an individual who is like them, and not like those permanent residents on Parliament Hill, far beyond the great chasm that divides the governed and the governing. People ought to have realized long before now that Harper is far more likely to have had a life like theirs than either Martin or Layton. This ought to give people some common ground on which they can relate to the Conservative leader. He's "normal."
Instead, we see the need for image improvement.
People "don't like" Harper.
He doesn't smile enough, or so I hear.
I cannot count the number of people that I know who, when asked about any current political issues give me the answer "Well, I haven't really been following it." Immediately thereafter I hear a bunch of preconceived notions, that are not based in anything even remotely resembling reality, about "the way things are." Instead of opening up a paper, reading the facts for themselves, following the Gomery Inquiry, the Maher Arar Inquiry and the other scandals that Martin's government is responsible for, people need to have their ego's stroked.
By rights, Martin should have been strung up by his thumbs months ago. Instead, he continues to govern while Harper has to spend the summer remaking his image. This is all because people would rather hold on to their superstitious notions about some fabricated "devil they don't know" than educate themselves. It's less work that way.
The sad part is, history is replete with stories like this and no one ever seems to learn. One of these days I should write a post comparing various rulers mentioned in Plutarch's Lives with our current situation. Lysander jumps immediately to mind and so does Pericles. I am sure no one would be surprised at the things done in the past to buy public opinion.

Gomery and Quebec

According to the Globe & Mail and others, Gomery will be going to court to have the bias charges against him cleared once and for all. The CBC claims that the "small town cheap" comments are still at the heart of the charges. Given that they are also referring to it as a $250million dollar program instead of a $355million dollar program, I take their view with a grain of salt.
Meanwhile, I can't help but love the Bloc. Most media outlets are running a story on their demand for $5.4million dollars in repayment for the scandal. This is, of course, a completely outrageous demand and the government is extremely unlikely to give in to them.
Still, one can't help but admire the sheer boldness of it.
Martin may well have woken up this morning wishing his government had fallen.

The Next Vote

According to what I have been reading this morning, the next vote is on Thursday.
...one more key vote, which could come as early as Thursday, on a $4.5-billion budget bill amendment hatched by the NDP to keep the Liberals in power...
I watched last night's vote. Apparently, MPs were voting on 18 bills, including 15 non-confidence motions, largely dealing with money bills to keep the government operating in the coming months and the main budget bill.
To be honest, it was not clear to me at all which motions were confidence motions and which were not.
Conservative whip Rob Nicholson said only 95 of his 98 member caucus would be present. Tory MPs Darrel Stinson and Dave Chatters are ill with cancer and Germant Grewal is on stress leave as a result of the tape scandal. Bloc Quebecois whip Michel Guimond said 53 of his 54 member caucus would be present. Bloc MP Louise Thibault's father passed away and she was not expected to attend.
I searched high and low for those numbers. Why can I only find them after the vote is over? It makes sense now why, if there were 15 no-confidence motions, the government is still standing. With 4 people away, the Opposition really did not have the numbers to bring the government down. It's unfortunate, but there will always be another chance.
If Thursday's vote is late like last night's, I probably will not bother to watch. I'll catch the news Friday morning hopefully, and if I miss the governments fall, well, it's sure to be played over and over on TV.


Budget Vote

The government still stands, but they didn't finish voting. I'll have to watch tomorrow. I would have gone to bed if I had known they would not finish.

Thank Goodness for Cable

If you are like me and don't get the channel for watching the vote on TV, might I recommend CPAC?

Politics is Better than Sports

According to this article in the National Post, former Liberal MP Pat O'Brien will be voting against the Liberals tonight.
According to Toronto Tory and this report at the CBC, he will not be alone.
What a year to be a politician it is in Canada!
Can you imagine the irony if the Liberals fall because of their own people?

Read 'Em and Weep

Time for me to say "I told you so" to those staunch advocates of the serparation of Church and State who erroneously believe it is the Church who is trying to interfere with the state.
I found the first link to the story here at What it takes to win. With a little more digging, I found this opinion article at the Calgary Herald and the original story that prompted the reaction here and the Ottawa Citizen.
Allow me to direct your attention to the following quote:
Churches that oppose same-sex marriage legislation have good reason to fear for their charitable status, a leading gay-rights advocate is warning. "If you are at the public trough, if you are collecting taxpayers' money, you should be following taxpayers' laws. And that means adhering to the Charter," says Kevin Bourassa, who in 2001 married Joe Varnell in one of Canada's first gay weddings, and is behind www.equalmarriage.ca. "We have no problem with the Catholic Church or any other faith group promoting bigotry," he said. "We have a problem with the Canadian government funding that bigotry."
Now, there is a lot wrong with this statement, so let's break it down.
1. Churches do not collect from the government. They are tax exempt. There is a very basic difference between not having to pay and receiving something.
2. The Charter is supposed to protect religious freedom. In fact, Section 2 says
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: a) freedom of conscience and religion; b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression...
3. That homosexuality is deemed by the Bible to be wrong is not bigotry. It is a statement of fact. That Mr. Bourassa does not like the fact that the Bible says this is in no way proof of any bigotry.
4. The government does not fund bigotry for reasons stated in 1 and 3 above.
5. Why (and this is more of a rhetorical question) Christians again? Is Mr. Bourassa ignorant of the fact that Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Sikhs and Hindus also frown upon homosexuality?
The current draft of Bill C-38 does nothing to protect majority of Canadians (and yes, Christians are in the majority in Canada. Hard to believe it sometimes.) from individuals such as Bourassa. If it is not amended, then Bourassa will use every means at his disposal to make other churches follow the same path [as his own church] and there won't be anything to stop him from doing so. As I have already pointed out in previous posts, the State has already ruled that it has the right to limit freedom of religion in equality cases.

By the way, there is a SoundOff! with that article from the Ottawa Citizen, so make yourself heard.
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