Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Splendid: Canada's Conservatives win outright majority

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper won his coveted majority government in elections Monday that also marked a shattering defeat for the opposition Liberals, preliminary results showed.

Harper, who took office in 2006, has won two elections but until now had never held a majority of Parliament's 308 seats, forcing him to rely on the opposition to pass legislation.

While Harper's hold on the 308-member Parliament has been tenuous during his five-year tenure, he has managed to nudge an instinctively center-left country to the right. He has gradually lowered sales and corporate taxes, avoided climate change legislation, promoted Arctic sovereignty, upped military spending and extended Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.

Elections Canada reported preliminary results on its website, giving the Conservatives 164 seats, which will give Harper four years of uninterrupted government. "It's stunning. We're elated," Conservative lawmaker Jason Kenney said in an interview with CBC. "We'll be a government for all Canadians."

The leftist New Democratic Party was projected to become the main opposition party for the first time in Canadian history with 106 seats, in a stunning setback for the Liberals who have always been either in power or leading the opposition.

Former colleagues of Harper say his long-term goals are to shatter the image of the Liberals - the party of former Prime Ministers Jean Chretien, Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau - as the natural party of government in Canada, and to redefine what it means to be Canadian.

Harper, who comes from the conservative western province of Alberta, took a major step toward that goal on Monday night as the Liberals dropped to 35 seats from 77, according to the preliminary results.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff congratulated Harper and New Democrat leader Jack Layton and accepted responsibility for the "historic defeat." "I will play any part that the party wishes me to play as we go forward to rebuild," said Ignatieff, who even lost his own seat in a Toronto suburb.

Stephen Clarkson, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, said Harper will now be considered a transformative figure in Canadian history. "It's a sea change," Clarkson said.

The New Democrats' gains are being attributed to Layton's strong performance in the debates, a folksy, upbeat message, and a desire by the French-speakers in Quebec, the second most populous province, for a new face and a federalist option. Voters indicated they had grown weary with the separatist Bloc Quebecois, which had a shocking drop to three seats from 47 in the last Parliament.

The NDP's gains marked a remarkable shift in a campaign that started out weeks ago looking like a straight battle between Harper and Ignatieff, with the 60-year-old Layton recovering from prostate cancer and a broken hip.

Harper campaigned on a message that the New Democrats stood for higher taxes, higher spending, higher prices and protectionism. He called the election a choice between "a Conservative majority" and "a ramshackle coalition led by the NDP that will not last but will do a lot of destruction."

Gerry Nicholls, who worked under Harper at a conservative think tank, has said that having the New Democrats' as the main opposition party would be ideal for Harper because it would define Canadian politics in clearer terms of left vs. right.

The Conservatives have built support in rural areas and with the "Tim Horton's crowd" - a reference to a chain of doughnut shops popular with working class Canadians. They also have blitzed the country with TV attack ads, running them even during telecasts of the Academy Awards and the Super Bowl.

Lawrence Martin, a political columnist for The Globe and Mail newspaper and author of "Harperland: The Politics of Control," calls Harper "the most autocratic and partisan prime minister Canada has ever had."

But to remain in office through the longest period of minority government in Canadian history, Harper has had to engage in a constant balancing act. He has deliberately avoided sweeping policy changes that could derail his government, but now has an opportunity to pass any legislation he wants with his new majority.



Lawsuits make us less safe

Imagine if an evil business routinely deprived us of products that would help us live longer with less pain and more comfort. We’d be outraged, and lawyers would line up to sue. Yet something similar happens today, thanks to lawsuit abuse. Makers of all kinds of products are afraid to sell them to us because one lawsuit could ruin them.

Personal-injury lawyers claim they make America safer, but that’s a myth. It’s easy to see who benefits from those big damage awards we read about. Less obvious — but just as real — are the things we’d all like to have but never will get because of this climate of fear. Here are a few examples.

Monsanto once developed a substitute for asbestos — a new fire-resistant form of insulation that might save thousands of lives. But Monsanto decided not to sell it for fear of liability. Richard F. Mahoney, the CEO at the time, said, “There may well have been a safe, effective asbestos replacement on the market, and now there isn’t.”

Why do we have to worry about shortages of flu vaccine? Because only a handful of companies still make it. And why is that? Because when you vaccinate millions of people, some get sick and sue. Between 1980 and 1986, personal-injury lawyers demanded billions of dollars from vaccine manufacturers. That scared many American drug companies out of the business.

In 1986, Congress stepped in. To help curb the lawsuits that discouraged vaccine production, the government established a fund called the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. It would pay victims’ families directly so they wouldn’t have to hire lawyers and suffer the delays of litigation. This was supposed to entice vaccine makers back into production, but drug companies were still leery, fearing that plaintiffs’ lawyers would sue them anyway.

They were right to worry. Eli Lilly developed a mercury-based preservative called Thimerosal that was used in many children’s vaccines. Plaintiffs’ lawyers jumped on scaremongers’ claims that mercury causes autism in children. Although a government-issued review found no such link, more than 100 autism lawsuits have been filed against vaccine makers since the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act passed. No wonder most drug manufacturers still steer clear of vaccine research.

Even when new vaccines are discovered, drug companies are sometimes afraid to sell them. The FDA has approved a vaccine against Lyme disease. Want some? Forget about it. No company wants to take the risk.

Fear of being sued reduced the number of American companies researching contraceptives from 13 to two.

After scientifically groundless lawsuits against breast-implant makers bankrupted Dow Corning, Japanese silicone makers stopped producing a pain-reducing silicone coating for hypodermic needles. A company director said, “We’re sure our product is safe, but we don’t want to risk a lawsuit.”

Union Carbide has invented a small portable kidney dialysis machine. It would make life much easier for people with kidney disease, but Union Carbide won’t sell it. With legal sharks circling, the risk of expensive lawsuits outweighs the possible profit.

Are you pregnant and nauseous? Bendectin would probably cure your morning sickness. For 27 years doctors prescribed the drug to 33 million women because it was so good at stopping nausea and vomiting. But you can’t buy Bendectin today because lawyers kept suing the manufacturer, Merrell Dow, claiming the drug caused birth defects.

Studies did not show that Bendectin caused birth defects, and Merrell Dow won most of the lawsuits. But after spending $100 million in legal fees and awards, the company gave up selling the drug. Bendectin has never been effectively replaced, and morning sickness is now a major contributor to dehydration during pregnancy.

Dr. Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, says, “Within two years of discontinuing Bendectin, the incidence of hospitalization for dehydration during early pregnancy doubled; the incidence of birth defects was unchanged.”

Those are just some of the life-enhancing products we know we must do without because America’s peculiar legal system makes it profitable for trial lawyers to pursue extortion — like litigation. What wonderful products will we never even hear about because the lawyers have created a climate of fear?



The trajectory of the Democratic party from moderate and responsible Leftists to the hard Leftists of today

With big rusted-on groups of supporters -- blacks and Hispanics -- they feel less need to appeal to the moderate voter

One of the worrisome aspects of President Obama’s peculiar brand of leadership is to watch how radically he and most Democrats in Congress have broken with the wisdom of liberal, Democrat leaders of the past. Media wags, largely ignorant or mostly indifferent to history, will tell you that the growing alarm over Obama’s leadership is all about style over substance. Don’t believe it. Obama and most of the Democrat congressional leaders seem interested in pandering to special interest groups, with little care for the overall economic health of the nation. They have betrayed their history and are mere shadows of their Democrat predecessors. Americans know it too.

The Democrat leadership has strayed far from their once-rational roots. For example, when enacting the landmark social welfare programs in 1935, (Social Security Act) and again in 1965 enacting Title 18 (Medicare), Democrats were almost unanimously concerned about the potential costs for future generations.

A reading of the floor speeches at the time shows that while Democrats wanted to expand programs for the needy. None were willing to do that, if it would erode the economic vitality of the entire nation. These earlier Democrats were moored by their concern for the financial health of the nation, the well-being of small businesses and concern about the potential for undue burdens to the American taxpayer that might arise as a result of far reaching entitlement legislation.

In August 1935, President Roosevelt said: “We can never insure 100 percent of the population against 100 percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family.”

Roosevelt’s endorsement of the payroll tax to create an earned right that would “act as a protection to future administrations against the necessity of going deeply into debt to furnish relief to the needy” is a far cry from the current Democrat drumbeat that entitlements must cover all Americans (and illegals) regardless of the cost to the country.

In 1965, Democrats were clearly worried about the impact of the Medicare legislation. Medicare was viewed as an experiment that might not be sustainable, and therefore needed to be carefully reviewed. Democrat congressman, Wilbur Mills, then Chairman of Ways and Means argued: “when tax rates are as high as they are now, we must take into account the fact that any changes we make will inevitably have far reaching economic effects…It would be folly… To nationalize health care as some have proposed, and thus federalize medical personnel, institutions and procedures—eventually if not at the start—also would amount to a stunning new financial burden for every American taxpayer.”

It is also important to note that in 1965, Democrat supporters for expanded entitlement benefits realized they might be wrong. Reading though the debate in Congressional Register of 1965, one sees humility and open-mindedness. But, as Pelosi shows, the current Democrat leadership are rigid ideologues. To placate the ravening appetites of their left-wing extremists, special interest groups, they are willing to ruin the nation.

President Obama’s vision of America calls for an ever-expanding welfare state with ever-increasing government handouts and bailouts, even as the financial health of the nation teeters on the brink of insolvency. Then, to rub salt in the wounds of the fiscally conservative, Obama lectures on the need to address our “unsustainable” government spending, even as he continues to press for more spending aimed at supporting loyalists’ union causes, his own special interests, and dubious spending schemes.

Democrats from the 60s seemed determined to balance their desire for expansive entitlements with a respect the needs of those taxpayers--the businesses and workers-- whose taxes pay for it all. Above all, there was a cautious consciousness that huge, federally run government programs are rarely cost-effective and rarely operated efficiently.

In June 1966, discussing the implementation of the Medicare legislation, President Lyndon Johnson said “Washington is no place to patrol matters in 50 States. The farther you get away from the community, the less efficient you are and the more expensive you are.”

On the other hand, President Obama’s recent road tour (with stops at Facebook, Oprah’s couch and NYC) to promote the need for additional taxes to pay for spending schemes and to increase the debt ceiling without implementing dramatic spending cuts, reeked of demagoguery and implying that the federal government in Washington, is better suited to care for citizens than the citizens themselves. Or at least, that seemed to be his explanation, for the buzz-words adopted by the Left of “shared sacrifice” and “fair share” are deceptive. Just send your money to Washington and all will be taken care of and only the “rich” will pay; the middle class, citizen will be unaffected.

Is there any wonder why Americans are increasingly worried? Modern Democrats have lost their way and have become selfish, irresponsible and blind. They make intellectually dishonest pleas to protect unsustainable social welfare programs without the slightest interest in finding an honest way to pay for them.

Reading the speeches of Obama and other senior Democrat leaders gives one the distinct impression that they are far more interested in rewarding their core constituents than in protecting the nation’s financial health. Democrats would bankrupt the nation rather than make prudent and long-overdue changes to over-generous entitlement programs.

And that is why Americans are so worried.




Medical consumer or ward of the state?: "How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as 'consumers?' The relationship between patient and doctor used to be considered something special, almost sacred. Now politicians and supposed reformers talk about the act of receiving care as if it were no different from a commercial transaction, like buying a car — and their only complaint is that it isn’t commercial enough. What has gone wrong with us?"

The economics of slushy drinks: "'That's quite a markup,' remarked my father as he paid for my six-year-old son's treat after a soccer game. 'Three dollars for a cup of ice.' It's true; the price tag did seem steep at first. But as we analyzed the situation more carefully — my father is also a fan of free markets — we realized that there was no reason to be outraged at the vendor's price."

Risky business: "UK transport minister Norman Baker this week refused to apologise for saying that cyclists may be safer not wearing helmets. Baker, whose role includes responsibilities for cycling, cited research that drivers tend to go closer to cyclists who are wearing helmets, but give a wider berth to those who are not. Indeed, the national cyclists' organisation itself argues that those who wear helmets are 14% more likely to have a collision than those who don't."

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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