banner photo:

"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope


Banner photo
Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Urban immersion in Toronto

I spent the weekend in Toronto doing a little shopping and enjoying a few beautiful late-summer days before fall sets in. I love Toronto, but my periodic visits also remind me why I'm glad I don't live there anymore.

To start, here's my recurring complaint about the TTC. Toronto needs to get a grip on its transit system - the subways are run-down and filthy, and surface transportation on its vaunted streetcar network is intermittent and frustrating. Instead of pushing elaborate expansion schemes like Transit City, the TTC needs to clean up its existing facilities and improve its service. Relying on the TTC to get around is becoming an ordeal.






The annual Busker Festival was happening on Front Street near the St Lawrence Market - the place was packed with families enjoying the beautiful weather, and vendors were hawking all kinds of delicious street food while all sorts of musicians, acrobats and magicians entertained the crowd.
























People dress funny in Toronto. I frequently saw young skinny men clutching man-purses in manicured hands, slouching down the sidewalks with their pantlegs rolled up to mid-calf, giant aviator sunglasses hiding their bloodshot eyes and unkempt hair hanging out from under cheap fedoras. If you want to stroll the streets of your own hometown in the latest cutting-edge Toronto fashion, this is the look. Of course you have to weigh less than 150 lbs to pull it off.














Or you could try this look - a canary-yellow fedora and matching trenchcoat sported by a young hipster in a coffee shop on King St:


















Mayor Miller's Toronto is relentless in pushing its environmental agenda - sometimes a visitor feels like he's trapped in some green ghetto where the environuts are constantly watching for infractions. Yonge Street was closed to traffic from Gerrard to Queen for the Livegreen Toronto Festival - a sort of trade show for companies hawking "green" products and services. Of course this completely disrupted north-south traffic, causing backups where cars sat belching CO2. It was pretty clear that there's a lot of money to be made in the enviro-guilt market if you can somehow market your product with the words green, eco-friendly,sustainable, responsible, or local attached to it:






















Various groups were tripping over themselves to establish their green bona fides. There were the green doctors:













the green bankers:















the green brewers (whose beer is sold in green bottles!):













the green artists















No green bakers or candlestick makers, but there was a contingent of green lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgendered. I had no idea that being gay made me environmentally friendly. Well, there is a green stripe in the flag, after all.












An alt-rock band entertained the true believers. Hippies generated electricity with stationary bikes to power the amplifiers.

















Meanwhile, over at Nathan Phillips Square in front of City Hall, the party faithful were gathered for Toronto-Cuba Friendship Day. A sparse crowd of lefties was demanding that Canada end the U.S. blockade of Cuba (how Canada is supposed to do that was a little vague). The communists were out in force extolling the virtues of the Cuban Workers' Paradise.






























Clearly there was only one type of Canadian this crowd was interested in engaging:

















All this leftist agitprop can tire a guy out, so the next morning I decided to replenish my spirits with a big greasy breakfast at my favourite Toronto diner - Fran's on College Street. I've been eating breakfast there for years ever since my dad used to take me when I was a kid when we'd been to see the Leafs play at the old Maple Leaf Gardens.






















I strolled past various leftist territorial markers













and took my seat beside a table of skinny young men discussing how eating meat was bad for the environment. I ostentatiously opened the National Post and ordered my usual Fran's breakfast - The Maple Leafs Forever - an artery-clogging feast with the carbon footprint of an entire African village. I tucked into this monster with enthusiasm while my neighbours at the next table ate their whole-wheat vegan waffles. They didn't look like they were enjoying their breakfast like I was mine.


















So, fortified with factory-produced eggs, red meat and non-fair-trade coffee, I headed home to Eastern Ontario and relative sanity. You know how the saying goes - nice place to visit ...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Former top Republican comes out

Ken Mehlman, former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, has publicly confirmed that he is gay in an interview in The Atlantic:
Ken Mehlman, President Bush's campaign manager in 2004 and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has told family and associates that he is gay.

Mehlman arrived at this conclusion about his identity fairly recently, he said in an interview. He agreed to answer a reporter's questions, he said, because, now in private life, he wants to become an advocate for gay marriage and anticipated that questions would arise about his participation in a late-September fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group that supported the legal challenge to California's ballot initiative against gay marriage, Proposition 8.

"It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life," said Mehlman, now an executive vice-president with the New York City-based private equity firm, KKR. "Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I've told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they've been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that's made me a happier and better person. It's something I wish I had done years ago."

Privately, in off-the-record conversations with this reporter over the years, Mehlman voiced support for civil unions and told of how, in private discussions with senior Republican officials, he beat back efforts to attack same-sex marriage. He insisted, too, that President Bush "was no homophobe." He often wondered why gay voters never formed common cause with Republican opponents of Islamic jihad, which he called "the greatest anti-gay force in the world right now."

Mehlman's leadership positions in the GOP came at a time when the party was stepping up its anti-gay activities -- such as the distribution in West Virginia in 2006 of literature linking homosexuality to atheism, or the less-than-subtle, coded language in the party's platform ("Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country..."). Mehlman said at the time that he could not, as an individual Republican, go against the party consensus. He was aware that Karl Rove, President Bush's chief strategic adviser, had been working with Republicans to make sure that anti-gay initiatives and referenda would appear on November ballots in 2004 and 2006 to help Republicans.

Mehlman acknowledges that if he had publicly declared his sexuality sooner, he might have played a role in keeping the party from pushing an anti-gay agenda.

"It's a legitimate question and one I understand," Mehlman said. "I can't change the fact that I wasn't in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that. It was very hard, personally." He asks of those who doubt his sincerity: "If they can't offer support, at least offer understanding."

"What I do regret, and think a lot about, is that one of the things I talked a lot about in politics was how I tried to expand the party into neighborhoods where the message wasn't always heard. I didn't do this in the gay community at all."

He said that he "really wished" he had come to terms with his sexual orientation earlier, "so I could have worked against [the Federal Marriage Amendment]" and "reached out to the gay community in the way I reached out to African Americans."

Mehlman is taking a lot of criticism; check out the hateful comments at the end of The Atlantic article. Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin shows some class, however:
I think this is a good time for me to interject my own thoughts here. I definitely think that Mehlman should have come out earlier, and I fully believe that harsh criticisms of his tacit support for GOP gay-bashing during the 2004 and 2006 campaigns are fully warrented. I further believe that Mehlman has a lot of ground to cover in order to make up for his past sins.

But the first step in making up that ground comes in his coming out. Ambinder likens it this way:
The disclosure at this stage of Mehlman’s life strikes one close friend as being like a decision to jump off of a high diving board: Mehlman knows that there is plenty of water below, but it is still very scary to look down and make the leap.
I’m no longer religious, but this reminds me of a proverb in Luke, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Any time someone serves as a stumbling block to LGBT equality and dignity changes course, our best response would be to welcome the good news. Unfortunately, we’re not always up for our best responses. Mehlman does have a lot to make up for, but this first step is not insignificant.

And his second step isn’t small potatoes either. He is chairing a fundraiser for Americans for Equal Rights (AFER), the organization behind the lawsuit which has successfully challenged Prop 8 in Federal Court. That fundraiser has already needed $1 million for the effort.

...

Mehlman has a lot to make up for. The 2004 and 2006 campaigns that he was directly involved in — and in which he colluded or directed terrible vilificaiton directed toward fellow LGBT people — caused considerable damage to to his fellow Americans, and they will rightly demand accountability. In order to truly heal those wounds, that does need to be his next major step.

But as we wait for that to come (and we shouldn’t have to wait too long for it) , let me say this: welcome out, Ken Mehlman. And let the rejoicing — and acts of contrition — begin.


UPDATE: Dan Blatt at GayPatriot comments:
My hope (and prayer) right now for Ken Mehlman is that he can count on his friends and family for the next few days until the hullabaloo about his coming out has passed. It’s never easy to have your private life become public information.

To be sure, as a public face for the Bush Administration and the GOP, he’s used by now to the bile of the left, so he should be prepared to face their taunts and attacks. But, I wonder if he’s thinking, “If I could just show them I’m not the demon they believe me to be, maybe then, by golly, they’ll like me, they’ll really like me.”

No, Ken, no, they won’t. We’ve all thought that. Or at least most of us on the gay right have. We’ve all wondered what we could do to end the animosity coming at us from certain segments of the left. To be sure, some (many, perhaps) gay liberals will surprise you and will treat you with decency and dignity despite disagreeing with you on matters political.

All that said, unless you do a full David Brock, you won’t end the bile coming from the gay left. And to do the full Brock, you not only have to toe the line on gay issues, but also publicly, prolifically and regularly repudiate the right.

Remember, most straight conservatives won’t treat you any differently once you’ve come out as gay. We don’t expect ideological rigidity from our allies nor demand social conformity from our friends.

Meanwhile, many gays on the left of the political spectrum are showing no sympathy for Mehlman’s journey and tossing out terms that one reserves for one’s bitterest enemies — and tosses out when throwing a temper tantrum. They’re not interested in Ken as a person; they just need someone on whom to project their own animosities.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Final Solution to the gay problem in Uganda?

Jeff Sharlet of The Advocate reports on virulent homophobia in Africa and the involvement of American evangelical Christian missionaries. He interviewed missionaries Tom and Teresa Harris in Kampala:
“Spiritual war” is a theological term, but in Uganda — ground zero for an explosion in violent homophobia across Africa — it’s taking increasingly concrete form. For the Ugandan government, that’s a pragmatic strategy as much as a spiritual one. Since 1986, Uganda has been ruled by an autocrat, Yoweri Museveni, who correctly guessed that American evangelicals eager to do good works and to save the heathen could be a big source of income for his regime.

“We have a primary, a secondary, and a high school,” Tommy said of Faithful Servants International Ministries. “Four hundred and fifty children, two meals a day, and we go into two hospitals and three prisons. We can’t do all that ourselves of course, so we have nine ministers. And our own seminary!”

“There are 54 employees,” Teresa said.

“Sure are,” Tommy replied. He was proud of their size but he liked to be nimble. “My thing is witnessing. Going to the villages and telling them about Jesus.” Uganda is overwhelmingly Christian, but that doesn’t stop Americans from trying to make it more so. A landlocked country with a population of 32 million and the second-highest birth rate in the world, it looms large in the American evangelical imagination: a project for purification, a case study in revival to be held up as a model back home. “Ten thousand souls were saved last year,” Tommy said. He meant through his efforts alone.

“What do you make of this Anti-Homosexuality Bill?” I asked. It was one of the hottest debates in the country, and a rare occasion when Uganda made international news. Said to be inspired by Americans, the bill would make homosexuality a crime punishable by death or life in prison. But Tommy heard only the word “homosexuality.”

“I do not believe in homosexuality!” he said, rearing up with indignation as if I’d just put a hand on his knee. “Absolutely not!” He crossed his arms over his burly chest.

“Of course,” I said, “of course.”

Teresa rubbed his shoulder. “Shh,” she said. “I don’t think that’s what he meant.”

I explained that I was interested in their view of the death penalty for homosexuality. Tommy shook his head. Tough one.

“Well, I’m totally against killing them. Because some of them can be saved, and changed. But the thing is, you can’t force them to stop. It’s been tried! But it don’t work.” He shook his head over the problem on all sides — the homosexuals, themselves, and his Ugandan friends, so on fire for the gospel that they’d gone too far in an antigay crusade. That’s how it is with Ugandans, he explained. They’re a bighearted people, but they get ahead of themselves sometimes. That’s where Americans could help.

“What they need,” Tommy proposed, “is a special place, like, for people doing homosexual things to learn different. A camp, like.”

“Keep them all in one place?” I asked.

“Yes. I think that’s what we have to try,” he said. “Because the thing is, the Bible says we can’t kill them. And we can’t put them in prison because that’d be like putting a normal fella in a whorehouse!” Teresa chuckled with her husband. A camp in which to concentrate the offenders — that was the compassionate solution.


(HT: Box Turtle Bulletin)

Friday, August 20, 2010

France's malignant influence

In today's National Post Lorne Gunter discusses the question of "who's to blame for failed states?" According to Foreign Policy magazine, the UN and France shoulder a large portion of the blame. I particularly loved Gunter's skewering of France, whose insufferable national smugness is a constant source of irritation:
More surprising even still was the selection of France as one of the key contributors to failed states, particularly in Africa. That's right, it turns out smug, sanctimonious, moralistic France -- which delighted so much in denouncing U.S. aggression in Iraq -- remains deeply involved in the affairs of its former African colonies. To an extent that would shame other former colonial powers, the French remain very active behind the scenes controlling who is in office so French companies can continue to exploit resources cheaply.

So much for France's sanctimony about hands-off Third World hotspots.

Five of the magazine's 12 most-failed states are former French colonies: Chad, Central African Republic, Guinea, Haiti and Ivory Coast. Niger (#19) "may well be the poorest country in the world. The government lacks any ability to provide services such as education and health care," and infant mortality and illiteracy are "rampant." The French, who continue to meddle in Niger's affairs, doubtless could help, but seem uninterested so long as the country remains a stable source of cheap uranium for French power plants.

Britain (which also must count five of its former colonies among the 12 worst regimes in the world) has a remarkably hands-free approach to its former empire. As do the former Cold War powers, the U.S. and Russia, when it comes to their old surrogates.

But according to Boubacar Boris Diop of South Africa's Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, "France destabilizes and destroys the countries of Africa, as if nothing in the world had changed."

In the post-colonial era, France has asserted itself militarily in Africa no fewer than two dozen times, more than any other Western power. For instance, it sent troops to Ivory Coast in 2004, in part to protect the lucrative cocoa trade.

"No death for chocolate!" This doesn't make France worse than other Western nations, just undeserving of the ethical superiority it wraps itself in.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Populate or perish

This article in The Australian takes a swipe at politicians campaigning in Australia's current federal election on platforms of halting development and population growth. Canada shares some of Australia's challenges - a relatively small population spread out over a huge area and largely concentrated in a few big cities.
Australian politicians at state and federal levels have obviously failed to create the right conditions for infrastructure services. But instead of admitting the mistake and doing something about it, they blame the people for just being there. It's not me, it's you.

It would make for good satire if it wasn't so serious. If the country is to get more wealth and choices and better services, it has to become bigger, not smaller. The economy needs population growth and a constant inflow of innovators and workers. For a scarcely populated country far from the rest of the world, it's still "populate or perish". The discussion should focus on the changes that it takes to keep a bigger Australia functioning.

That political leaders shrink from this challenge reflects a worrying lack of ambition and vision. Defensive ideas about halting growth and shrinking society are traditionally symptoms of a civilisation in decline.

And if it wasn't enough that stopping growth is economically destructive, it's also boring. Sure, crowds can be irritating. I'd much rather visit a multitude of bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and shops without being pushed around and waiting in line. But that is a bit like wanting to swim without getting wet. The choices are there only because the crowds are there.

When I listen to these expressions of enochlophobia I can't help but think of a passage in Bill Bryson's hilarious travel book Down Under. Bryson is a card-carrying believer in small Australia. When he visits Canberra, he writes admiringly about how the city has managed to avoid the awful urban sprawl, shopping malls and eight-lane roads that he is used to in the US.

And yet, when Bryson walks from his hotel to find a bar or just someone to talk to, he doesn't find anything. The only thing worse than a crowded place is a place that is not crowded.

In the end, Bryson returns to his hotel and gets drunk all alone in the hotel bar.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"The ghosts that haunt modern architecture"

In today's National Post Robert Fulford reviews a show called Yesterday's Tomorrows, now running at the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art. Fulford relates the story of architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and his battles with a client, Dr. Edith Farnsworth. The tale of the Farnsworth House nicely illustrates the disconnect that frequently exists between modern architects and the people who have to endure their buildings:
The doctor decided in 1945 that she wanted Mies to design her weekend retreat beside the Fox River, southwest of Chicago. That led to a bitter power struggle.

She believed the power of her money entitled her to a comfortable house. Mies believed the power of his genius entitled him to build as he wished.

When the house was finished, in 1951, admirers of Mies were delighted. Maritz Vandenburg, an architectural historian, wrote that Mies had been feeling his way toward this goal for three decades: "All of the paraphernalia of traditional living rooms have been virtually abolished in a puritanical vision of simplified, transcendental existence." Critics agreed that this was a brilliant exercise in the art of structure and space.

But the client found all those huge glass windows intolerable. She felt exposed, with nowhere to hide. Other complaints piled up. She suffered from bugs, and not the metaphorical kind: The brilliantly lit interior attracted every moth and mosquito in the county. She learned that rust never sleeps: The steel columns needed repeated sanding. The heating bill was atrocious. She demanded a closet and Mies argued that a weekend house didn't need one. She added window blinds, which Mies hated.

As the Montreal catalogue points out, the Farnsworth House has become "one of the ghosts that haunt Modern architecture, embodying the disjuncture between the ideals and aspirations of its practitioners and the reality of its users' lives."

Farnsworth paid $75,000 for her retreat, $10,000 more than budgeted. In a memoir she called it "my Miesconception." She sued Mies and lost. She told a magazine that Mies was "colder and more cruel than anybody I have ever known." But the house ended up in scores of books on architecture, praised for its purity and grace.

Farnsworth sold it and the next owner could find no one who wanted to live in it. He spoke of destroying it. Phyllis Lambert, founder of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, said that this possibility left her speechless. "I cannot believe," she declared, "that Chicago cannot organize itself to save one of the greatest houses that's ever been. It's putting civilization on the block."

Money was raised. When it was auctioned at Sotheby's in 2003 the National Historic Trust acquired it for $7.5-million and turned it into a museum. That was a happy ending for everyone except those who were interested in houses rather than the perfection of design.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Minority rights & the referendum

Costa Rica's highest court has blocked a referendum that would have allowed citizens to vote on allowing same-sex civil unions:
Costa Rica's top court has blocked the electoral tribunal from holding a referendum that would have let voters decide if same-sex civil unions should be allowed in the Central American country.

The Constitutional Court's 5-2 decision released Tuesday says such a referendum would put a minority at a disadvantage in a largely Roman Catholic country. It also says gay civil unions is a legislative issue and not an electoral one.

The court says it considers homosexuals a group that is at a disadvantage and the target for discrimination, requiring government authorities to protect their rights.
The electoral tribunal had planned to hold the referendum Dec. 5, when Costa Rica also is holding municipal elections.

That's the problem I have with California's Proposition 8 which outlawed gay marriage in that state. One can argue whether marriage is a right and whether the constitutional right to due process extends to gay marriage, but issues related to the rights of a minority should not be subject to a popular vote that requires the approval of a majority of voters for resolution. These arguments are the purview of the legislative branch and subject to scrutiny by the courts. Civil rights are fundamental; they are not contingent on the approval of voters.

Invasive species & biodiversity

Remember the panic about zebra mussels and purple loosestrife? Relax, says Ronald Bailey at Reason: invaders rarely result in the extinction of native species.
The fear among opponents of "invasive species" is the aggressive outsiders will cause a holocaust among the native plants. That might initially seem reasonable because there are a few species, like kudzu, purple loosestrife, and water hyacinth, that grow with alarming speed wherever they show up. But that doesn't mean other species are in danger. “There is no evidence that even a single long term resident species has been driven to extinction, or even extirpated within a single U.S. state, because of competition from an introduced plant species,” Macalester College biologist Mark Davis notes. Yet this spurious threat of extinction persists as one of the chief reasons given for trying to prevent the introduction of exotic species.

Meanwhile, there are plenty more examples in which local and regional species richness has been increasing. Introduced vascular plants have doubled the species richness of the plant life on most Pacific Islands. In fact, the species richness of some islands has increased so much that they now approach the richness of continental areas. In New Zealand 2,000 introduced plant species have taken up residence with the islands’ 2,000 native species and only three native plant species have gone extinct. The opening of the Suez Canal introduced 250 new fish species into the Mediterranean Sea from the Red Sea which resulted in only a single extinction.

...

So why then are so many ecologists and environmentalists on a jihad against introduced species? Of course, some introduced species do cause harm to the environment. They become pests (which means they set up shop where we don’t want them to) or cause disease in people or creatures we care about. But the vast majority of introduced species blend in more or less unobtrusively with the natives. The main objection to spreading non-native species seems to be aesthetic.

For example, Birmingham University biologist Phillip Cassey and colleagues respond to the evidence of rising local and regional biodiversity by complaining that many of the birds that a visitor from the U.K. would encounter in New Zealand are the same species found back home. “The same is true for floras and faunas around the world,” lament Cassey and colleagues. “It is the biological equivalent of flying from Seattle to Paris and going to Starbucks for your coffee.”

...

Ultimately, Davis argues that the good news from biology is that the “globalization of the Earth’s biota will not lead to a world composed of zebra mussels, kudzu, and starlings.” Instead, while in the future different regions of the world will be more similar in their floras and faunas, Davis concludes, “At the same time, they will become more diverse, in some cases much more diverse.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

North Korea gets funky

YouTube video of North Korean propaganda films set to a great funk soundtrack. "Have a funky good time with the North Korean People's Army (before they starve to death)."

Gay & pro-Israel

National Post columnist Kelvin Browne writes in an editorial titled Gay, pro-Israel and fed up about being gay, supporting Israel and Stephen Harper. The column was prompted by anti-Semitic comments made at a dinner party he attended. I can sympathize - I've been lectured by gay men on Israeli "apartheid" on the assumption that I'm a fellow-traveller, and I'm deep in the closet in gay social circles about my support for Harper. Browne writes:
I'm not going to pretend to understand the Middle East fully. But I understand who supported gay rights when few others would. Jews. Who supported AIDS charities before it was fashionable? Jews. Fine to have issues with Israel, but you can't be openly gay anywhere else in the Middle East except Israel (although I'd choose Tel Aviv over Jerusalem). This fact should make the anti-Israel activists at Toronto's annual Pride parades a conflicted group, though you wouldn't know it from their militant slogans. Half my friends are Jewish. One of the reasons I can't possibly tolerate anti-Semitism is that I identify with Jews.

I support Stephen Harper because of his unshakable commitment to Israel. This perplexes some of the people who know me, as the Conservatives often appear to appease a base presumed not to be gay-friendly. Supporting Harper even seems odd to a few of my Jewish friends who are skeptical of his conversion to Zionism; they continue to vote for the Liberals or NDP out of habit.

In any event, I'm not going to sit quietly and fail to confront what I believe is an increasing tolerance of intolerance. I still shudder that I nodded in fascination that night at dinner -- but didn't say anything -- as it was explained to me that Israel has to be taught a lesson. No longer.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Time to get the state out of the marriage business?

David Harsanyi at Reason argues that it's about time to "free marriage from the state":
Imagine if government had no interest in the definition of marriage. Individuals could commit to each other, head to the local priest or rabbi or shaman—or no one at all—and enter into contractual agreements, call their blissful union whatever they felt it should be called, and go about the business of their lives.

I certainly don't believe that gay marriage will trigger societal instability or undermine traditional marriage—we already have that covered—but mostly I believe your private relationships are none of my business. And without any government role in the institution, it wouldn't be the business of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, either.

...

In our Utopian vision, no group is empowered to dictate what marriage should mean to another. And one of the great perks would be the end of this debate.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Judge in California gay marriage case is no left-wing liberal

Judge Vaughn Walker, who yesterday overturned California's Proposition 8 banning gay marriage, has been accused of "extreme judicial activism" and "judicial tyranny"; a "San Francisco liberal" who has allowed his personal bias to thwart the will of the people. David Boaz of the Cato Institute points out a few facts about Judge Walker that inconveniently don't fit this narrative:
In fact, Judge Walker was first appointed to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, at the recommendation of Attorney General Edwin Meese III (now the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow in Public Policy and Chairman of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation). Democratic opposition led by Sen. Alan Cranston (D-CA) prevented the nomination from coming to a vote during Reagan’s term. Walker was renominated by President George H. W. Bush in February 1989. Again the Democratic Senate refused to act on the nomination. Finally Bush renominated Walker in August, and the Senate confirmed him in December.

...

In other words, this “liberal San Francisco judge” was recommended by Ed Meese, appointed by Ronald Reagan, and opposed by Alan Cranston, Nancy Pelosi, Edward Kennedy, and the leading gay activist groups. It’s a good thing for for advocates of marriage equality that those forces were only able to block Walker twice.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Why the Green Party can't be taken seriously

Elizabeth May has chosen former NHL hockey player Georges Laraque to be the Green Party's new deputy leader. Why? Well, he's a former hockey star, he's from Quebec and he's a vegan. Seriously - that's about it. Based on an interview in today's National Post, Mr. Laraque seems a bit of a lightweight for such an important job in a party with nationwide political ambitions.

He comments on why Ms. May chose him for the job:
It started a year and a half ago when I watched a documentary and decided to be vegan. I started going to conferences around Montreal not just about the animals, but about how we could improve our health, and about the environment. When I started doing that, the Green party approached me and asked if I would be a member. And then when [former deputy leader] Jacques Rivard left and it was open, they asked me to take his spot.
That's it, folks - he watched a documentary, became a vegan & started going to conferences about animals and the environment. Plus, his superstar hockey status gives him some street cred:
Elizabeth [May] called me and asked me. When Jacques left, they really needed somebody who can have an impact in Quebec. Obviously, I know that popularity had a big thing to do with it. We're not going to lie.
So, you'd figure that someone about to assume the important post of Deputy Leader would be familiar with the Green Party's policy platform? Well, when asked what were his three favourite Green policies, he replied:
I just got a big book about all the policies. If you ask me in a month, I'll be able to tell you. So far, the biggest policy is about promoting the environment. In the coming weeks, I will be studying and meeting and reading with Elizabeth [May] a lot more on those environmental policies to be more informed on the specific policies that they have.
Well, that's a relief - he's got a Big Book of Policies and he's going to read it soon. Fortunately, M. Laraque has no plans to run in the next election - he's pretty busy:
No. I'm not going to run, and I'm not going to set policy. I'm going to go across Canada to help all the other Green leaders to win their part. I'm going to go everywhere and be available to them.

I can't tie myself up because I have this project in Haiti that I'm working on. I'm rebuilding the Grace Children's Hospital. I work for TerraSphere now, which is a reason why I retired from the NHL. It's a vertical farming company, which is really important to me, because their green technology will be implemented all over the world to solve world hunger. I will also be promoting other green technology to help improve our environment.
This is the deputy leader of a national federal party ? It's time to stop taking the Green Party seriously.