Saturday, January 21, 2006

Voter registration fraud in Edmonton Centre

Many serious irregularities in the voter registration list have been reported in the Edmonton Centre riding. The nature of these allegations is eery - individuals registered to vote at non-existent street addresses, registered to vote at places of business where they do not reside, multiple registrations.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Costly non-solution for Canada-U.S. travelers

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security proposed "low cost" People Access Security Service "mini-passport" is an expensive non-solution which will further inhibit routine pleasure travel by Americans and Canadians visiting each others' countries on short visits.

Today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial correctly criticizes this lousy proposal. WIVB-TV Buffalo has another thorough critique of the proposed PASS card.

From my perspective, my criticisms of the proposal are as follows:

1. The PASS "mini-passport" will cost $50 U.S., and presumably need to be renewed every two or three years.
2. Canadian and Mexican visitors will STILL BE REQUIRED to provide passports or other "secure proof of citizenship ID"; it's unclear whether PASS cards will be issued to Canadians or Mexicans.
3. It's unclear whether Dual Citizens, i.e. those holding both Canadian and U.S. citizenship, will be treated under this program.
4. The PASS and/or Passport requirement totally ruins the idea of unplanned brief "day trips" by American visitors from non-border communities. Examples: visitors from Kentucky to the U.S. side of Niagara Falls who want to quickly visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls; visitors from Louisiana to relatives in Seattle who'd like to take the one-day ferry trip to Victoria; visitors from Utah coming to San Diego for a convention who want to briefly walk over to Tijuana.
5. Homeland Security has failed to indicate why they have to charge Fifty Dollars for this "pocket sized" card, which could discourage many families with children (particularly if they don't live near the border) from making casual visits to either Canada or Mexico.
6. Homeland Security's explanation that this "is not a national ID card" is rather dubious, given the widespread (and technically illegal) use of Social Security cards for non-Social Security purposes.
7. What are Homeland Security's plans for enforcing this program at the Mexican border, including the vast stretches of under-patrolled border between the official U.S. ports of entry?

Why, oh why can't Uncle Sam work out arrangements with the 50 states to upgrade state-issued identification/drivers' licenses so those forms of ID are secure, fraud-resistent, and so those ID forms include verification of the citizenship/residency status of the bearer?

I also am concerned the Government of Canada could pursue its own retaliatory measures against the U.S. Government if this oppressive measure is imposed at the shared land border ports of entry.

Seattle Times projects PMPM election loss!

Seattle's left-wing Establishment newspape issued an editorial opinion acknowledging the likelihood of Paul Martin's Liberals falling from power over ethics issues:

"Martin and the Liberal Party had held their own for re-election until news earlier this month of another Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation into a government leak of information that influenced the stock market.

"That was all it took. Canadians who have never completely warmed to Conservative leader Stephen Harper have given him a double-digit lead in polls. He blew a similar lead in 2004, but he has campaigned like a politician who learned a hard lesson. His party is producing a policy announcement a day.

"Anxious Republicans in the United States, wondering where the Jack Abramoff scandal might lead their party in 2006 elections, have to be chastened by the Liberal Party experience. Voter disgust with corruption trumps other good news." (emph. added)

Read their entire editorial.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Liberal desperation: attack the "Blogging Tories"

Paul Martin's Liberals have endorsed Carol Jameson's complaint to Elections Canada against the "Blogging Tories", alleging that the loosely-connected network of independent bloggers violates various provisions of the Canada Elections Act. Note that Jameson's complaint does not also attack the LibLogs or the Blogging Dippers for similar "violations".

So much for the PM's bragging that he doesn't believe in "cherry-picking" rights.....

What kind of profane refuse have the Liberals been eating for breakfast?

Suspicious package briefly closes BC Peach Arch border

The Associated Press has reported that Canada Border Services Agency officers, conducting a secondary vehicle inspection , "found four guns and what they feared was an improvised explosive device in a car Tuesday night, prompting the temporary closure of the Peace Arch border crossing."

Of course, the CBSA officers had no firearms to defend themselves. Read about this at CTV, CTV video, the Bellingham Herald, KOMO 4, and other sites.

Canada's politicians: while it appears the individual involved apparently was truly mistaken and not a danger to Canada, will you guys wake up and smell the coffee? Your border officers have NO PROTECTION against dangerous persons driving up, walking up, or bicycling up to your Ports of Entry.

Taxpayer-Funded Luxury Travel Waste

Canada's taxpayers have been horribly, obscenely over-charged for "Relocation Services" provided for high-level government bureaucrats. The desitinations and types of accommodations being provided for "relocating" government officials are completely incongruent with logical business sense. Your Tax Dollars At Work at small dead animals, and Conservative Life, have detailed information about the abuses.

For American readers familiar with travel and relocation policies of the U.S. General Services Administration, it's a shocker.

For my Tory friends: Reagan's 1964 Speech for Senator Goldwater

I invite my Tory friends to view one of the most extraordinary speeches of the conservative movement - Ronald Reagan's 1964 Speech on behalf of Senator Barry Goldwater (courtesy of C-SPAN's American Presidents project).

If any of you are feeling kinda worn down by the bitterness of campaigning, please watch this - it may bring a few tears to your eyes, even if you aren't a "scary, extremist right-winger".

Newt Gingrich video on the GOP Congress

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich provides an exceptionally interesting classroom discussion on 01/17/2006 about Republicans and the U.S. Congress. (If the link doesn't work, try this)

Few political figures present the conservative viewpoint as concisely, clearly, and articulately as Mr. Gingrich. He has an exceptional awareness of American history and the history of the democratic process - my Canadian friends may find this a refreshing change from hearing PMPM ramble on about his "hidden agenda".

I stumbled onto this program on C-SPAN while nodding off to sleep, and ended up staying awake because it was so good! Don't miss it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The unthinkable: Globe & Mail supports Tories?

The Globe & Mail has provided its mainstream Liberal audience with "Three Reasons Why It's Time for a Change". In doing so, the G&M has provided an intellectual and mental means for dissatisfied Liberals to vote the rascals out!

Rather than paraphrase the article, read it! It's a fascinating exercise in how the mainstream Establishment appears (please note, appears) to have given up on re-electing Paul Martin's Liberals - and perhaps is eager to get into good graces with the likely new Government.

Keep in mind, of course, the theoretical possibility that voters could secretly stage a surprise "Dewey Defeats Truman" triumph...... hmmmm, stay tuned to that dial.

Paul Martin praises Alfonso Gagliano

W.L. Mackenzie Redux found this fantastic video footage of PMPM singing the praises of Mr. Alfonso Gagliano.

And by the way, there never was an Adscam....

Real Estate boom forever?

During the past four years, American and Canadian housing markets have experienced sharp increases in selling prices. Housing seems to have replaced the stock market as the "personal investment of choice".

The Detroit News has a rather stunning report "Metro Home Sales Tank":

"Southeast Michigan's housing market took a sharp dive at the end of a weak 2005, signaling more tough times ahead with interest rates rising and a scarcity of new jobs.

"Statistics released Monday showed median sale prices fell 4.3 percent in December -- the biggest monthly drop in 2005 -- and most sellers were waiting at least 3 months to find a buyer." (emphasis added)

ALL housing markets are prone to up-and-down economic cycles which cannot be easily predicted in advance. Closer to my area of the world, the Bellingham Herald is reporting "Chill Hits Housing Market" and raising concerns about a rather abrupt slowdown in what had been a hyper-active property sellers' marketplace.

When it comes to real estate, readers are reminded of a few timeless thoughts:

1. Leveraged Equity is a double-edged sword.
2. Stocks, bonds and mutual funds can be bought and sold on demand in real time, thanks to public equity markets and online trading. Real estate CANNOT be bought and sold in real time.
3. The exact market value of stocks, bonds and mutual funds can be determined in real time. The exact market value of real estate is UNKNOWN until an actual sales transacion is closed.
4. When borrowing money to purchase real estate, don't bite off more than you can chew.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Personal Debt: a challenge on both sides of the border

CBC Marketplace's "Debt Nation" topic is highly recommended. Personal money management is particularly vital to maintaining healthy personal relationships, and I share the concern raised in "Debt Nation" that many ordinary citizens are struggling - not so much with a lack of income, but with a lack of knowledge and discipline to control personal spending and set financial priorities.

When I look at the "spend now, pay later" mentality which has corrupted the halls of the GOP-controlled U.S. Congress and White House, as well as Ottawa, it is my belief that politicians are increasingly reflecting the common practices of ordinary citizens.

I'd love some vigorous discussion about this topic. Regardless of who wins Canada's Federal Elections on January 23, or who wins elections in the U.S. later this year, THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT MAKE YOUR PERSONAL SUCCESS. Managing our finances is a skill rarely taught in public schools - though it should be - and one which can allow us to sleep much better at night.

The Less Friendly Border

I've been reading U.S. Government statistics documenting the declining volume of border crossings by individuals, and stumbled on this very insightful thread at the blog We Move to Canada. Blogger Laura K quotes from an article in The Economist, and has some very interesting reply posts.

Much as I acknowledge the need for tighter U.S. border security - and come from a more conservative political perspective than Laura K - I soberly challenge my readers about the long-term impact of greater isolation between ordinary Canadians and ordinary Americans due to declining cross-border travel.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics has numerous tables documenting the declining number of Incoming Personal Vehicle Crossings at selected border crossings (in Table 8c, crossings in North Dakota, Vermont and Washington state). To illustrate, I'll pick the heavily-traveled Blaine Port of Entry (which includes both the Peace Arch and Pacific Highway Truck Customs POEs) - keep in mind these numbers EXCLUDE business or commercial shipping, these are crossings by personal cars:

1994: 4,217,088 vehicles
1995: 4,149,250
1996: 4,488,131
1997: 4,210,986
1998: 3,278,118
1999: 3,312,775
2000: 3,332,147
2001: 2,892,208
2002: 2,385,389
2003: 2,299,636

For all U.S.-Canada ports of entry, the figures similarly reflect a rather significant decline:
1994: 40,287,901
1995: 39,145,537
1996: 39,531,000
1997: 38,950,225
1998: 36,596,806
1999: 37,219,910
2000: 36,915,053
2001: 34,308,013
2002: 32,538,817
2003: 30,220,184

I will be checking for figures for 2004 and 2005, the preliminary figures I have seen indicate the numbers are essentially similar to the rates for 2002 and 2003, even with the stronger Canadian dollar.