Commentary From the Mile High City

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Joshua Sharf

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January 15, 2009

Borrow In Haste, Repay At Leisure

Colorado Republicans have proposed mortgaging government property to pay for transportation projects, up to $500 million.

The Democrats, naturally, want to raise your taxes permanently instead, and would net only half the amount the first year.

Right now, Colorado general revenue bonds, which are basically secured only by the moral obligation of the state to pay its debts, are paying about 1.5% yield to maturity. Paid back over 15 years, that's about $35 million a year in payments, or about $6 a person per year, for $500 million.

The Democrats want to secure a permanent funding stream out of your pockets, at about 4 times that rate, in the middle of what they've consistently called the worst economy since the Great Depression.

The Republicans want to borrow at a ridiculously low interest rate, heading into what will likely be an inflationary environment sometime in the next two years. That inflation will only increase borrowing costs.

The Democrats want to build in more structural spending, and then, when inflation eats away at the value of the taxes they're collecting, complain about shortfalls and raise rates again.

And this is without ditching TABOR.

January 24, 2006

And The Last Word On the Canadian Election...

...belongs to Mark Steyn. Of course. *Sigh.*

For Tories, it was a good night, if not a great night. But, given that the party was reduced to two seats in the 1993 debacle, after 12 years in the wilderness most Canadian conservatives will take a strong minority government as a spectacular landslide. We'd be dipping our voting fingers in maple syrup and triumphantly waving them at the UN observers if they hadn't all fallen asleep 20 minutes into the thrilling election-night coverage.

For the past century, Canada's ruling Liberals have been the democratic world's most consistently successful political party. This time round, mired in a series of scandals that were turning Canada into the G7's first Third World kleptocracy, the flailing Trudeaupians adopted an even more ferocious version of their usual strategy: scare the voters back to Nanny. As the Liberals warned Canadians - or, rather, shrieked at them - Stephen Harper will take away "a woman's right to choose"! The unwanted boys you'll be forced to have will grow up to be Bush cannon fodder in Iraq, and the unwanted girls will be sold as white slaves for Halliburton corporate cocktail parties round the pool at Dick Cheney's ranch.

Well, that's certainly why I voted Conservative, but it's hard to believe many of my fellow Canadians (and even my fellow Quebecers) felt the same way.

January 23, 2006

Live-Blogging the Election (Sort of)

The early returns suggest that it may be a bit of disappointment for the Tories, at least in the Atlantic provinces. They've closed to witthin a few percentage points of the Liberals, but are still getting crushed on a seat-by-seat basis, picking up only two to trail 20-9. Still, it appears that they may be doing better than expected in Quebec. The Liberals had made a comeback of sorts there in the last few days, so any Quebec seats the Tories pick up will help a lot.

Right now, the CBC has it 47-32-10-4 Lib-Con-NDP-BQE, but they don't report the seats the way a sane network would. They report "leading or decided," and they start counting as soon as the first box of ballots is opened. Which means that if they've counted one precinct (or poll, as they call it), and you're ahead 6 votes to 3, they put you up as "leading." Which means that these first numbers are actually worse than meaningless.

And yet, that doesn't keep the talking heads from drawing grand conclusions about the fates of parties from them.

More, during commercials as we find out what is in those canisters...

UPDATE: Just before we start Hour 5, the whole thing has changed; 85-66-26-21-1, Con-Lib-BQ-NDP-I

UPDATE: Doesn't look like we'll get a majority, but right now, the Tories are trailing the combined Lib-NDP 113-106. Even though the Bloc will join the government, it'd be nice to have the Right outpoll the Left, even if it doesn't matter in terms of governance.

UPDATE: OK, so the Tories will form the Government, but it's not exactly 1974 for them. The Grits still have over 100 seats, after a campaign, as the CBC newshead giddily put it, "where it's hard to pick out any one day that was good for them." Hopefully, the BQ will remember that it split from the Tories.

UPDATE: Damn. Belinda Stronach was re-elected. Belinda was the Conservo-babe who was dating Stephen Harper, and then left both him and the Party to keep Paul Martin in power in the infmaous Only No-Confidence Vote That Counted. There's a rumor that she might challenge Martin for the Liberal leadership now. If she wins, the Parliament's going to look like CTU after Jack realizes just who Nina's working for...

CORRECTION: I just realized that Stronach wasn't dating Harper, but Deputy Tory Leader Peter MacKay. Since MacKay tends to think of himself as #1A rather than #2, this could make things even more interesting.

January 19, 2006

One Last Canadian Note

One side note in all this is the somewhat hyperinflated view that the Canadian Left has of itself vis-a-vis the United States. Maybe in over-compensation for losing all of their best comedians to us, the Liberals seem to think that, well, what they say, you know, matters to us.

First, they dredged up this idea to propose a treaty banning weapons in space. The CTV and Globe and Mail and the rest all treated it as though it would actually prevent us from putting weapons in space! Are the serious? The Russians couldn't keep us from pulling out of ABM.

Second, there's the whole Kyoto thing. Now they rarely actually say so, but part of their pride in Kyoto is in the fact that we didn't sign in. As Steyn has pointed out, it's all well and good to go feeling morally superior to us for having signed, but we're the ones who've done better at keeping down greenhouse emissions.

Finally, there's ANWR. "ANWR? ANWR?," I hear you cry. "Isn't that in, like, Alaska?" Yes, but apparently the 2000-acre drilling site (that's 3 square miles, for those of you without a calculator) will utterly destroy 180,000 caribou, starving out the "Gwich'in," who seem to be people who don't use oil. So not only do the Canadians think they have a right, the liberals think they're the reason we haven't set up the rigs yet:

"If Bush father and Bush son have been unable to drill there, it's because Canada was supporting the forces of progress in the United States saying don't do that," [Environment Minister St├ęphane] Dion said in an interview.

I've been following the ANWR debate with some interest, and I can't say that I've yet heard anyone say that we can't drill there because it'll tick off the Canadians.

In one way, all this is kind of cute, kind of like how Virginia Tech goes around claiming they're "The University of Virginia." The telling point is that you never see U.Va.-trained engineers making the reverse claim. Canada used to be a serious country. They also tamed their West, and did it with fewer travel weeks. They played a major role in D-Day. But somewhere in developing expertise in peace-keeping, they forgot about the peace-making part.

Geographically, they're North American, but spiritually, they've got the European Disease. Hopefully, that's about to change.

Liberals Disappear in Quebec

Mark Steyn was just on Hugh Hewitt, and when Hugh asked him about the elections, Steyn said that normally voting for the Tories in Quebec is a lost cause, but that this year, they've replaced the Liberals as the main federalist party in Quebec. (Quebec has something called, "Le Bloc," which is not LeBloc, who I think was a defenseman for the Canadiens in the 60s. It's short for "Bloc Quebecois," a party which is dedicated to secession. For this reason it's dominated Quebec politics for over a decade, and doesn't exist outside the province. In this case, then "Federalist" means a party that actually operates in English.)

Now, a Liberal candidate has thrown in the towel, asking undecideds to vote Tory to try to unseat in the incumbent LeBlocker. While most of the new Tory support has come from the Liberals (or, "Grits," as they're known for some reason), the situation is dire enough for le Blocheads that they're playing the language card, accusing the Tories of wanting to throw translators out of business all over the province.

This is a big deal. Where the opposition isn't despondant, they're desperate.

January 15, 2006

That Canadian Liberal Media

Ginna Dowler at PeakTalk notes that even the traditionally liberal Canadian media have, in their disappointment and disillusionment, turned on the Liberals:

In 2004, the media still believed in Paul, the man who would rescue us. I think the turning point came in May 2005, when Martin held onto power by bribing an opposition member (Stronach) into crossing the floor. I can't find the link, but there was a particular press scrum where all the journalists burst out laughing at the Liberals' explanations. And all of a sudden things began to change.

By the time this campaign began it seemed clear that the media love affair with Martin was over. He'd duped them, collectively and individually. And collectively and individually they are lashing back.

Well, maybe. Certainly, there's a certain sense abroad in the newsrooms that the Liberals are intellectually bankrupt, and have resorted to the shabbiest schemes to keep from being financially so. But this looks a great deal more like one of those "interventions" done for a friend's own good than an actual eye-opening questioning of allegiances.

Look at the one major media source that's actually bowed to the inevitable and endorsed the Tories, the Globe and Mail. Its reasons for voting Tory amount to giving the Liberals a timeout from the strains of pretending to govern in order to tidy up. After all, a certain amount of malaise and entitlement is bound to set in after a decade or two.

I suppose that's better than then-Canadian Peter Jennings's calling the 1994 Congressional vote that turned out a 40-year Demcratic House majority "a tantrum." But it's clear they're angry at the feckless Liberals for being fxkless, not for being liberal. There's certainly nothing in there about Conservative ideas.

"Fear of becoming too American" is so firmly entrenched in the national trope that it's part of opinion poll questions, and invariably interpreted as a Tory weakness. The notion that the ongoing national identity crisis has led them to become "too European" seems never to have crossed their minds. (Given the latest Government proposals on marriage, becoming "too Arabian" might be more of an issue, but that's another story.)

The eye-rolling foolishness of accusing Stephen Harper of planning martial law is obvious to all. The fact that Canada no longer has a military worthy of the name goes unmentioned. (Perhaps having played a key role in liberating France, they just don't want to make that mistake again.)

PM-to-be Harper suggests that Canada abandon the Kyoto-treaty-in-name, and he's "turning his back on Kyoto," or "endangering Canada's diplomatic standing." The fact that Canada's greenhouse emissions have grown faster than those CO-breathing, poison-swilling Americans have gets buried next to a statment about how ditching Kyoto now will only make things worse later on.

The debate on Public Health only goes as far as trashing the NDP leader for actually trying to secure treatment a decade ago.

Canada may be financially sound. It may be able to struggle along with its Europeanisation Programme for a little while longer. But if you look at where it's gotten the Europeans, you have to be worried about the Tories winning an election without a clear mandate to steer in some other direction.


Power, Faith, and Fantasy

Six Days of War

An Army of Davids

Learning to Read Midrash

Size Matters

Deals From Hell

A War Like No Other


A Civil War

Supreme Command

The (Mis)Behavior of Markets

The Wisdom of Crowds

Inventing Money

When Genius Failed

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Back in Action : An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude

How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?

Good to Great

Built to Last

Financial Fine Print

The Day the Universe Changed


The Multiple Identities of the Middle-East

The Case for Democracy

A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

The Italians

Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory

Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures

Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud