Which right wing Canadian party would you rather vote for?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Conservatives Vs Christians

POLITICS/RELIGION - It used to be that Conservative government meant you believed in a small government. The idea is relatively simple, there are basically three types of government sizes:

1. Dictatorship, a government so small that its basically just the leader giving orders to his/her underlings. Dictatorships are typically rife with corruption and even brutal military actions. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

2. A small "conservative" government which tries to run things more efficiently by having less people and less bureaucracy. In theory it is more efficient, but runs the risk of corruption and nepotism. If there is corruption ideally they must also be accountable for their actions.

3. A large bureaucratic government in which there's lots of forms to fill out and issues are debated constantly in order to prevent nepotism and corruption. Corruption can still happen, but the bureaucracy is there to try and keep it in check.

In recent years the word Conservative however has been co-opted by the Christian right-wing. Today the words Christian and Conservative tends to go hand-in-hand and its reached a point where its becoming both annoying and distressing.

For me, when I tell people I am a Conservative I usually have to stick a Progressive in front of it in order to differentiate myself from Christian wackos. I myself was raised a Christian, I do celebrate Christmas/Easter/etc., but I don't attend church and I also celebrate Halloween (which is considered to be a pagan holiday and forbidden by the more "orthodox" Christians), and I haven't read a bible in years.

I don't have any problem with people believing in god, the god or even a multitude of gods. You can believe in reincarnation for all I care. Your choice, not mine.

What I find distressing is the growing number of Conservative Christians in politics. George W. Bush, Stockwell Day, Stephen Harper, John McCain, Sarah Palin just to name a few. These are people who actually BELIEVE in Adam and Eve.

Even I, a born and raised Christian, doesn't believe in the existence of Adam and Eve. Oh sure, I'm sure there's a first man and woman who could be considered the first humans ever, but it was the result of evolution. I'm not going to get into the dynamics of whether there's such a thing as divine evolution so lets just say I believe God is a divine creator, who created the universe and everything in it, and in doing so also created evolution. God being all-knowing and wise likely has a very good reason for creating evolution and its probably something to do with survival of the fittest.

The point I am trying to make is that Conservative Christians actually believe all the things they read in the bible. They believe in Adam/Eve, that Jesus really walked on water and performed miracles, and they also believe in the Apocalypse.

And its the Apocalypse aspect that scares me. These are people who don't just believe in the Apocalypse, they're waiting for it to happen. Take a look at the number of Christian gun clubs there are in the United States and Canada. You know what they're training for? A religious war. A Jihad. The Apocalypse. Call it what you will, it all amounts to killing people of a different faith just because they call their god a different name like Allah or Jehovah or Dios.

I stuck the Spanish word for God "Dios" in there because thats all it really is, a linguistic difference. Allah is the Arabic word for god and Jehovah is the Hebrew word for god. Same god, different languages and slightly different religions.

And I say slightly for a reason. Islam and Christianity are so ridiculously similar its amazing they fight back and forth. Islam also has Jesus Christ (he's considered a prophet), Abraham, the Great Flood, Adam/Eve, the Commandments, etc. Judaism also has many of the same stories, except for Jesus who they believed was a charlatan.

I consider myself a god-fearing Christian, and by that I mean I am expected to do good in the world or else I will punished in the next. Killing people in the name of my religion doesn't seem very good to me. I don't care what lies we tell ourselves, its still murder and inherently wrong.

What disturbs and worries me is the percentage of people online who claim they're in favour of lining up Jews, Arabs, Homosexuals and basically anyone they don't like and shooting them all. Thats the kind of dictatorship sentiment you'd hear from a Hitler-wannabe. They would never admit it publicly, but they'll say it online just to piss people off or promote their racial/religious views.

And that is not Conservatism. Its fascism. It has nothing to do with small government that takes responsibility for its actions and is accountable.

Lets take an issue like abortion. This is not a Conservative issue, its a women's issue and a religious one too. On one side we have religious folks who think its wrong (they argue it counts as murder) and that it should not be allowed, and on the other side we have women/men who think its up to the woman to decide for herself because there's no proof a fetus is alive at early stages of pregnancy (it has no brain or heart of its own). Nothing to do with small government, everything to do with personal beliefs.

Lets take another issue like free health care. In Canada this is a no brainer as both conservatives and liberals support free health care, and indeed so does much of the industrialized world. The United States is the only country in the Americas or Europe that DOES NOT have free health care. There are those in the USA who say they should adopt an European/Canadian style of health care. This doesn't have anything to do with small government either.

The real reason why these Christian right-wingers profess to be Conservatives is because they know small governments are closer to dictatorships and are more easily corrupted. They think if they can just get enough pro-lifers or anti-free-health-care people into the Conservative government then they can control the moral direction the country takes.

But thats not how government or society works. People want their freedom and they deserve free health care. If we deny them something it will backlash in our faces and we will see liberalism, large bureaucratic governments and fiscal irresponsibility.

Conservative governments are about being small, fiscally responsible and accountable. Its not about forcing people to worship Jesus. End of story.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

$300 Million to Enlarge Stephen Harper's Caucus

CANADA - Something occurred to me today about last week's election. Stephen Harper knew when he called the election that he would most likely win a minority government (and he did win a minority).

What he also knew is that the polls were in his favour that he would enlarge his party's caucus.

So... Harper's government called a new election and spent $300 million dollars of taxpayers money, and the only result was Stephen Harper enlarged the size of his caucus (pun intended).

As a taxpayer I think Canadians should be really pissed off right now. Harper called this election just so he could maintain his grip on power by enlarging his caucus. Talk about ego.

Politics really annoys people at times, and wasting taxpayers' money on one man's ego ranks high as one of many voters' pet peeves.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Barack Obama Vs the KKK Assassins

UNITED STATES - What happens if Barack Obama wins the American election? Will the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) try to assassinate him?

To research that question I decided to do a simple Google search for the words "Barack Obama" and Assassin. I got 433,000 hits.

Heck, an image search got 119,000 hits.

To double check this speculative idea I did of search of the white supremacist forum website Stormfront for the same words. I got 17 results for the words Barack Obama assassin out of the 13,500 Stormfront pages that mention Obama.

The topic on top of the forum list moaned and groaned about the "What If" scenario of possible repercussions against the KKK if someone did actually assassinate Barack Obama.

Instead, and I was quite shocked by this, the people on Stormfront seem surprisingly supportive of Obama... in a reverse logic sort of way. They think that a black president will be so horribly bad that the KKK will somehow grow in popularity.

He also bitched and moaned about losing the America of his "forefathers", affirmative action, that black people are unqualified to work higher paying jobs, and that Obama was a sign of a discrimination against whites. Reverse logic or just plain bonkers?

In conclusion it doesn't look like they will try to assassinate Obama. Instead they seem intent on trying to take advantage of the situation, in hopes of bolstering their numbers.

SPECIAL NOTE: The KKK has been considered a terrorist organization since 1871. Why hasn't the US government got rid of these terrorists?

Stormfront collectively doesn't support Republicans either. They think the Republicans are too pro-Israel and John McCain strongly supports Israel. They hate Sarah Palin too because she's a woman and even questioning "Is Sarah Palin Jewish?" They also despise George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. No surprise there.

I assume Barack Obama has been thanking Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell for paving the way to his presidency (I have little doubt Obama will win). Rice and Powell have raised the glass ceiling for African-Americans in politics and by doing so now allows Obama to remove that glass ceiling completely. Powell has even pledged his support for Obama. That is bipartisan politics, the kind of politics a centrist like myself likes to see.

Taking a look around what the Stormfront/KKK people had to say they seem to favour a third party candidates like Chuck Baldwin, John de Nugent and Ron Paul. Never heard of them. In the world of politics, third parties in the USA are not worth mentioning.

I guess we can't be too surprised from the crap Stormfront people say. They apparently think the Jews killed John F. Kennedy and that the recent $700 billion bailout of Wall Street investment banks is... a Jewish conspiracy to steal American money.

According to White Supremacists everything is a Zionist conspiracy, including the NASA moon landing, the Iraq War and everything else the White House does. They're completely convinced the Jews control everything.

Frighteningly stupid and ignorant in my opinion. I know its a stereotype to say that racist people are ignorant, but its so true.

And don't think that Canada doesn't have racism too and its share of stupidity. Just look at the Conservative Party and their lack of non-White MPs. Not very progressive at all. (I miss the Progressive Conservatives.)

If I had a vote in the US election I would definitely be voting for Barack Obama under the current circumstances. As a centrist Conservative my gut feeling is that McCain is an old fool and doesn't know what he's doing, Sarah Palin is a puppet and the only real leader is Barack Obama.

People will recognize real leaders when they see them. They stand up for others and look forward to a day when we can stand united and strong, regardless of sex, race or creed. They stand up for Freedom, and isn't that what every American wants?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Conservatives Win Minority, Steal Liberal Platform

CANADA - Stephen Harper's newly elected minority government is stealing Stéphane Dion's five-point economic plan that includes a first ministers conference.

Dion, Harper's Liberal rival, scored points during the election campaign by promising a five-point plan, to be implemented within the first 30 days of an election campaign.

Dion, whose Liberals claimed only 76 seats, has said he's willing to co-operate with the Tories as the country rides out an economic storm. The Conservatives came out of Tuesday's vote with 143 seats, up from 124 in the last election but still not enough for a majority.

Harper says he will also issue a fiscal update before the end of next month to address the global economic crisis.

"These are challenging times; Canadians are worried right now, and those worries are understandable," he told a news conference in Calgary.

"I want to assure Canadians that together we will weather the storm, and we will position our economy to emerge stronger than ever."

Harper also said he intends to meet with European Union leaders later this week to discuss the crisis and strengthening economic ties between Canada and the EU, also from Stéphane Dion's five-point economic plan.

Harper says the government will take "whatever appropriate steps are necessary" to ensure Canada's financial system does not wind up at a disadvantage.

He noted that won't include a large outlay of taxpayer dollars, such as the multibillion-dollar bailouts being rolled out in the United States to rescue a banking sector sinking due to the credit crisis.

An ongoing strategic review of departmental spending will also continue, Harper made a point of saying: "It's essential to keep government spending focused and under control."

As well, Canada will be represented at next month's meeting of G20 leaders in Brazil, and is also calling for a follow-up meeting of G7 finance ministers, he said.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Prosperity Theology and the Credit Crisis

RELIGION & ECONOMICS - Can we blame a Christian branch of evangelicalism for the U.S.'s subprime crisis?

According to some commentators in the United States, a burgeoning offshoot of Pentecostalism that promises adherents worldly blessings, as well as spiritual ones, may have led congregants to believe that God wanted them to own their own homes, leading them to take out risky loans.

The Prosperity gospel, so-called because its preachers teach the message that God intends for his children to have nice things in this life, is being blamed for adding to the meltdown of the housing market by making the faithful believe that if the bank overlooks their credit score, it is because they have faith – not because of bad lending practices.

Also known under the names of Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, and Name It and Claim It, Prosperity is a reinvented form of the money-positive strand of televangelism that was disgraced with the scandals involving Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. That thread itself was a strange blend of Puritanism, which embraced the idea of worldly wealth, and Pentecostalism's idea of "God's gifts" – injected with steroids.

Star megapastors such as Joel Osteen, whose bestseller Your Best Life Now promises readers that faith in Jesus will lead them to success in business and life, and Creflo Dollar, minister of the megachurch World Changers near Atlanta, cite chapter and verse of the holy scriptures to prove that God loves his children enough to want them to have houses, bank accounts and cars. John 10:10: "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" is a favourite.

Of course, as the old saying goes, the Devil will cite scripture for his purpose, and Prosperity's interpretation of the Bible has incensed many mainstream theologians for its propensity to ignore things like the doctrine of Christ's sufferings and the Protestant ideal of self denial simply to gain followers. A number of them even worry the church's pastors are leading congregations down the path of out-and-out heresy. After all, it only takes a look at some of Jesus's sayings ("It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" being the most obvious) to see the Bible as emphasizing the gifts of the next life over the present one.

Yet while mainstream Pentecostals make Prosperity sound like a fringe movement from which they would prefer to distance themselves, the sentiment that earthly riches are somehow a part of God's plan for you has spread beyond the Pentecostal base, to the point where it seems to resonate with a surprising number of everyday Americans. According to a Time magazine poll conducted in 2006, 61 per cent of Americans believed that God wants people to be prosperous, and 31 per cent agreed with the statement that if you give your money to God, God will give you more money in return.

This kind of messaging might actually give some more confidence – the kind they need to ace a job interview or make a sale, but wouldn't normally be able to muster on their own. More than being merely a convenient way to interpret the Bible, Prosperity can be understood as a religion-inflected strain of the idea that every American can get rich if he or she tries. It is the notion that all you need is hard work and you will prosper – except in this case, "hard work" gets replaced with prayer and large donations to your church.

Seen that way, Prosperity lies somewhere on the same spectrum of fashionable, particularly American optimism as the 1990s self-help movement, Tony Robbins-style motivational speaking, and the kind of ultra-positive thinking stressed by bestsellers like The Secret, all of which teach that you should "fake it until you make it." Think Oprah and How to Make Friends and Influence People, but guaranteed by the love of Jesus Christ, and you've got an idea of the doctrine's seductiveness.

It's a seduction that may have landed thousands of congregants in financial turmoil. Churchgoers who truly believed that God would bless them with a house – poor credit or not – may have seen the fact that they got a house as proof of Prosperity's truth that they are "worthy of having more and doing more and being more." J. Lee Grady, editor of the magazine Charisma, recently told Time: "It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, `If you give this offering, God will give you a house.' And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy."

Old Proverb: A fool and his money are easily parted.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Harper's tactics mislead voters

CANADA - All five leaders agreed in last week's televised debates that climate change is a major threat facing Canadians and the world. And in a rare moment of unanimity, they all called for action to reduce carbon emissions in this country.

Unsurprisingly, they disagreed on how to attack the problem.

Unpardonably, Stephen Harper made himself disagreeable with an unchecked attack on reality.

Under wilting criticism from the four opposition leaders for the government's lacklustre environmental plan, the Prime Minister lashed out at the Liberals' Green Shift by dipping into his playbook of cheap debating tricks that insult the intelligence of voters.

Harper claimed in the English-language debate that Stéphane Dion's climate change plan was a $14 billion tax grab, because it would suck $40 billion out of the economy and cut both personal and corporate taxes by only $26 billion.

What he neglected to say was that the "missing" $14 billion would be returned to Canadians in direct tax credits, benefits and deductions – adding up to the promised $40 billion. This is no secret. It is spelled out in the Liberals' Green Shift, and in their party platform, both of which supply far greater precision and policy substance than the so far invisible Conservative election plan.

The Liberal plan details items such as a $465 million hike in the Working Income Tax Benefit; a $2.9 billion boost to the Universal Child Tax Benefit; a $750 million Green Rural Credit; a $600 million boost to the Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for environmental investments; and $400 million in other science and research credits.

Harper opted to ignore these and other tax breaks. Yet, as the Liberals point out, these are precisely the kinds of tax benefits that the Conservative government has described as "tax relief" in previous budgets.

Why would the Prime Minister pretend that these Liberal tax breaks don't count – that these funds would somehow be retained by the treasury – when the reductions are spelled out in publicly available Liberal documents? Doubtless the best defence is a strong offence, and Harper is going out of his way to camouflage the government's weak environmental policy, which has been shredded by environmentalists and economists alike for failing to set attainable targets.

The Liberal plan will raise taxes on polluters and reduce taxes for others. The Conservative plan will only succeed in raising pollution.

In fact, the Liberals have been crystal clear from the outset that their planned tax shift – making pollution costlier while turning energy savings into money savings – would be revenue-neutral. To add credibility to their claims, they have specified that the auditor general would verify that pledge was being carried out annually.

For better or for worse, debates offer the party leaders a chance to inform – or misinform – voters about a campaign's key issues. Whether a politician chooses to do the former, or the latter, speaks volumes about their character and trustworthiness.

"Don't believe this man," Dion said after hearing the disinformation. "Mr. Harper, it's a lie. I see the game you are playing. It's not true at all. For every dollar that we will raise, you will have a tax cut."

By wilfully distorting Dion's written program, Harper deliberately misled the Canadians whose trust he is seeking in this campaign.

Harper's attitude fails to reassure

CANADA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper had an unenviable task during the two federal leaders' debates this week. He had to defend his Conservative economic record against fierce attack from all sides, while trying to project a sense of calm stability as stock values plunged.

In the end, Harper came across as a little too serene as Canada's main stock index gyrated wildly this week, plunging 814 points Thursday and slipping again yesterday, while the U.S. Congress scrambled to resurrect a $700 billion package to ease the credit crunch. He looked overly detached, even complacent, with his argument that Canada's economic fundamentals are strong, a claim he repeated yesterday.

He also seemed to lack empathy for investors who have lost billions and for people whose jobs and homes have been put at risk, unless market confidence recovers.

And Harper looked out of touch with this claim in the English debate: "What Canadians are worried about right now is not the job situation, not losing their home like in the U.S. What they're worried about is they see the stock market problems. We see big drops in the stock market in the energy sector, in the commodities sector."

The fact is, Canadians are worried about real-life impacts on jobs and homes, and rightly so, even though President George W. Bush finally signed the massive U.S. bailout bill into law yesterday. Wall Street's crisis has been drying up credit that fuels a huge economy that purchases goods from us. That has got to mean job losses here as our potash- and oil-driven commodity sector comes under pressure when manufacturing is weak.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion wasn't "panicking," whatever Harper may say, when he urged some forward-thinking in Ottawa to bolster public confidence by protecting savings and pensions, and by accelerating planned investments in infrastructure and manufacturing to help stimulate the economy. While Harper's rivals don't pretend to have all the answers, they are demanding, reasonably enough, that he give some thought to the matter and prepare contingency plans.

Hard though it is to credit, the Conservatives have yet to even update their economic growth forecast from last February's budget, though the economy has deteriorated sharply in recent months. And the Tories still haven't rolled out their party platform, with just 10 days left to the Oct. 14 vote, though they plan to do so early next week.

This is not prudent stewardship; it is leaving people in the dark. Worse, it may be whistling in the dark.

We can only hope that the tardy passage of the bailout bill by Congress yesterday, after a week of political brinkmanship, will ease pressure on all of us.

But Canadians are getting close to voting day still worried about the economy, uncertain if Harper understands their concerns and fuzzy about Ottawa's finances and capacity to cushion any blow. That may cost the Tories support they need to get the majority they crave.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Palin raising fears among Republican conservatives

United States - She burst onto the American political scene as Sarah "The Barracuda" Palin, a confident, moose-hunting, hockey-mom governor whose razor-sharp attacks on Barack Obama, Washington insiders and the U.S. media "elite" helped revive John McCain's presidential campaign in early September.

But as she prepares for her vice-presidential debate Thursday against Senator Joe Biden, Palin is now fighting to dispel perceptions among some conservatives that she's quickly becoming a political liability for the Republican candidate. Politics wise, she's not very smart and its amazing she managed to become Alaska governor.

McCain on Monday dispatched his two most senior aides - campaign manager Rick Davis and strategist Steve Schmidt - to his ranch in Sedona, Ariz., to begin three days of intense coaching with the Alaska governor ahead of her 90-minute showdown with Biden at Washington University in St. Louis.

The decision came amid widespread criticism in the media and - more distressing for McCain - mounting anxiety among Republicans over Palin's performance during an extended interview last week with CBS News anchor Katie Couric.

In its aftermath, Palin's favourable ratings have fallen and she's become fodder for withering satire on late-night comedy shows like Saturday Night Live - a fate that has hurt presidential candidates in the past.

"I think that most people looking at Thursday night's debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin are nervous, especially Republicans," said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "Because 90 minutes is a very long time - and you can only talk about gutting a moose once during that debate."

Palin earned a reputation as a strong debater during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign in Alaska, but she has appeared to struggle in one-on-one sessions with nationally known journalists since being named McCain's running mate.

In her interview with Couric, Palin offered this explanation of how Alaska's proximity to Russia enhanced her foreign policy experience.

"It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as (Russian prime minister Vladimir) Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America," Palin said. "Where, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there."

Kathleen Parker, a syndicated conservative commentator, said the interviews showed Palin is "clearly out of her league" and called on her to step aside.

"I've been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly," Parker, an early supporter of the governor, wrote in a post-Couric interview column. "I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted."

There is a lively debate among Republicans about whether McCain's own campaign is partially to blame for Palin's problems. Advisers have largely shielded her from the media since her breakout performance at the Republican convention, placing extraordinary pressure on the governor in her few high-profile interviews.

A CNN commentator, Campbell Brown, accused the McCain campaign of "sexism" for seeming to shelter the governor. Palin's supporters say she has not been allowed to be herself.

"She'll get better. She's very talented at what she's been asked to do in the past," South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a McCain confidante, said in a televised interview. "She's going to have to show she's a valuable part of this team, that she's capable of the job, that she shares John's philosophy."

The stakes for McCain are high. The latest Gallup daily tracking poll of the U.S. presidential race shows Obama with an eight-point advantage - 50-42 per cent - over McCain.

"I think this debate is more important than most vice-presidential debates usually are because the McCain campaign is swimming upstream," Jillson said. "They are down in the polls. And if their vice-presidential candidate looks like she is not ready to be president of the United States, should the requirement fall on her, I think people will again look to Obama."

Biden faces many potential pitfalls himself, including the possibility he might underestimate Palin.

The Delaware senator has made several notable gaffes recently, criticizing one of his campaign's own anti-McCain ads and flubbing a historical reference to the 1929 stock market crash. He has a reputation for talking too extemporaneously and sounding condescending - which could backfire against Palin.

"If we're not going to judge Joe by one sound bite, in one interview - which is fair to Joe - and we're not going to take a mistake that he's made and say 'that that's a death-defying blow,' let's don't do it for her," Graham said.

To help Biden prepare, Obama's campaign enlisted Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to act as pre-debate stand-in for Palin.

"How could you lose a debate with Sarah Palin? By running afoul of the gender issues, making women in particular feel as if Sarah Palin was unfairly treated the way some think Hillary Clinton was unfairly treated," said Jillson. "He's got to be respectful."