Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Globe and Mail: PM warns against early election

Sometimes I wonder if Paul Martin even believes what his handlers tell him to say. Or even what he himself designs to say.

Today there is a case in point, as reported by the Globe and Mail, et al.

Paul Martin: ”When we're talking about the holiday season, there are other religions that have New Year's at a different date and their holidays at a different date and I think we've got to be respectful of that – the Orthodox Church as an example.”

Martin is basically saying he doesn't want a Christmas election because it might offend some religious groups. This is quite incredulous. Since when has Martin cared about offending religious groups? Certainly not when he pushed the bill legalizing same-sex marriage. Or maybe when his party has threatened to take away charity status for churches (so that they pay tax). Or perhaps when new hate laws could possible jail a pastor for reading out of the Bible?

But no. Out comes that Canadian tolerance we all are slathered with by politicians. Isn't it coincidental that his self interest happens to be allied with this neo-tolerance? Right now, Martin looks calculated, cold, and NOT in control. As he says, "It's up to the opposition. I don't want a Christmas election."

What?! He is the Prime Minister for crying out loud. Arbitrary fate is not in control here. He is doing what any coward leader might do; he is avoiding responsibility for an election. Martin wants to say, "the opposition is making me do this." When in reality, he has a choice to call one later on this year, or now if he wanted.

This is an utter lack of leadership. Take responsibility for your party's failure to address the Gomery scandal, Gun Registry etc.

on the undemocratic elite

There is current an excellent essay by Richard Posner - yes, Judge Posner - in the Harvard Law Review. It is one of the only few free ranging pieces in the review, which essentially means this piece is spotlighted as a "must read." And indeed it is, judging from the content.

Posner argues that the Supreme Court is a political institution. "I shall argue that, viewed realistically, the Supreme Court, at least most of the time, when it is deciding constitutional cases is a political organ..."

To begin, he quotes John Hart Ely. Interestingly, he parallels modern elitism to Hitler's mentality of "knowing" what the people want, which is what judges who espouse living constitutionalism appears to affirm:

The notion that the genuine values of the people can most reliably be discerned by a nondemocratic elite is sometimes referred to in the literature as “the Fuhrer principle,” and indeed it was Adolph Hitler who said that “[m]y pride is that I know no statesman in the world who with greater right than I can say he is the representative of his people.” We know, however, that this is not an attitude limited to rightwing elites.

“The Soviet definition” of democracy, as H.B. Mayo has written, also involves the “ancient error” of assuming that “the wishes of the people can be ascertained more accurately by some mysterious methods of intuition open to an elite rather than by allowing people to discuss and vote and decide freely.” Apparently moderates are not immune either.

Another good quote:

"for reasons that have nothing to do with thinking that precedent has some intrinsic authority, as a clear statutory text has intrinsic authority, or as a precedent of a higher court has intrinsic authority in the decision making of lower courts, which are not free to disregard such precedents. The Court always has a choice whether to follow a precedent. If it follows it because it thinks the precedent correct, then the precedent has no independent force, no “authority,” any more than a law review article that the Court thought correct would have authority. Precedent does have some authority even in the Supreme Court, but it is not epistemic. That is, following precedent is not a warrant that a decision is correct; it is not even evidence of correctness."

I'm too tired to keep reading....until tommorrow,

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

post-US election casualty

Here is an interesting article on what happened to Michael Moore since the election.

Not just a few shares either. Don't forget Moore has always said he doesn't own any stock and doesn't have a broker. But his foundation owns tens of thousands of shares in Boeing, Sonoco, Eli Lilly and Halliburton, the same defense company that "Fahrenheit 9/11" attacked for making huge profits out of rebuilding such countries as Afghanistan and Iraq after U.S. military intervention.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Grits propose new eavesdropping law

This new law being introduced by the Liberals is something that Canadians should be concerned about.

The proposed law would also force communication service providers, including traditional telephone companies, wireless firms and Internet providers, to phase out technical barriers to police and security agencies seeking access to messages or conversations.

Now I am not a hardcore advocate of privacy. Sure, take my picture in public; I let a computer read my GMail. I don't mind.

But when it comes to this type of law, there are a number of serious concerns.

1) Who has the authority to grant access to Canadians'
"messages or conversations"?
2) Will people know when their messages are being read?
3) Who has access to this information?

This ought to be an election issue. The NDP, Conservatives, and Bloc: bring it up, make an issue out of it.

Election blogging

The Canadian election is heating up. Word is, a non-confidence motion will be introduced Thursday or next Tuesday.

Stay tuned here for Canadian election blogging featuring:
  • the latest polls
  • statistical poll averager
  • poll-to-seat conversions
  • analysis
  • commentary

Monday, November 14, 2005

Do legal systems need religion to survive?

Harold Berman strikes again:

In speaking of a spiritual faith, or religious spirit, that is
needed to support a legal order that crosses all ethnic, territorial,
cultural, and religious boundaries, I start from the fact that every
legal order requires for its vitality the support of a belief system that
links law not only with morality but also with fundamental
convictions about human nature and human destiny. This is an
anthropological truism, not a theological proposition, and should
therefore be easily accessible to all persons. And it is a matter of
obvious importance, although unfortunately it is not taken seriously
by our legal scholars. In all societies religion and law, in the broad
sense of those words, are interdependent and interact with each
other. In all societies there are shared beliefs in transcendent values,
shared commitments to an ultimate purpose, a shared sense of the
holy: certain things are sacred.