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Saturday, November 15, 2003

Our Dumb Economy 

So, the BC economy sucks. It sucks in terms of growth, unemployment, and we have a record deficit. Supply side policies, are, yet again, a miserable failure. Cutting taxes for the rich and firing government workers does not actually create jobs or revenue:
Start with the basic facts: B.C.'s real gross domestic product growth for 2003 is now predicted by BMO Financial Group to be just 1.2 percent, the worst provincial performance in the country for the third year running. And B.C.'s 1.2 percent is worse than economic powerhouses like Newfoundland at 4.7 percent, Manitoba at 2.3 percent, or even New Brunswick at 1.7 percent.
Two full years after the B.C. Liberals made massive tax cuts intended to stimulate economic activity, GDP growth actually dropped by a third over the past year, from 1.8 percent in 2002 to the estimated 1.2 percent in 2003.
So what does pathetic GDP growth really mean? You can see the results of an underperforming economy in B.C.'s unemployment rate. In September 2003 it was 9.1 percent, a more than two-percent increase since the B.C. Liberals won the election in May 2001, when it was 6.8 percent, according to Statistics Canada. (An October 2003 unemployment survey showed a drop to 7.8, a dip that was questioned by a wide range of observers, from the B.C. Chamber of Commerce to credit-union economists.)
That translates into a joblessness disaster. B.C. now has more than 200,000 people unemployed for the first time in the province's history. That's an increase of over 50,000 people since May 2001, with the ranks of those without work jumping from 143,800 in May 2001 to 200,900 in September 2003.

Bam. And, I'd like to add the biggest deficit in BC history. So why isn't this awful economy front-page news? Shouldn't Vancouver papers be screaming and yelling about Gordo's destruction of our economy?
Because reporting news that portrays Gordo negatively isn't the CanWest way. Ian King describes the insanely partisan coverage of economic news:
There’s also how the papers have treated the news. The apparent good news from last month’s job stats hit the front page. On the other hand, the Royal Bank forecast B.C.’s economy to trail the rest of the country for 2003. That one got buried in a two inch high brief in the business section. The Province spun a similar prognostication from those NDP sympathizers at the Bank of Montreal by playing up prospects for growth in the next two year. While doing that, they played down the fact that the B.C. economy continues to suck wind despite the supposedly anti-business NDP being long gone—after all, that wouldn’t jibe with the B.C. Liberal party line, which is the most important line of all.
The tragedy is, as King notes, that most people need the media to make sense of the economy for them. Even if all of this news can be spun as bad residue from those Pinko NDP folks, it still should be on the front page. Of course, that's probably too much to expect from a media that reprints BC Liberal press releases verbatim, as King details in his kickass column.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

The Intelligence of the American Public: Underestimated, at Long Last? 

Tips for watching television. Really.
Excerpts: Many viewers forget they're in control, no matter what executives are dictating the schedules. The challenge becomes to watch with a plan, to make the programming and technology work for you. Here are 25 suggestions:
1. Take the TV schedule and chart your viewing. You wouldn't wander into a movie theater without knowing what you're going to see.
2. Talk about television. Don't let the programs just wash over you. Compare notes with family and friends. Look to the Internet, where programs are debated.
3. Never forget that television is a business. The small screen exploits the nostalgia that viewers feel for everything from "The Brady Bunch" to Walter Cronkite. But seeing the medium in clear-eyed terms can save you a lot of heartache when your low-rated favorite goes on hiatus...
10. Click judiciously. There's no denying that roaming through the menu can be fun. It's easier to bounce through comedies than dramas or HBO series. But if you wander too much, the viewing can turn fruitless.
13. Find a few drama series to enjoy. You'll have success because it's a golden era for hour series.
21. Don't judge TV news by the same yardstick you use for entertainment. Look for the programs that treat the news sensibly and seriously, without teasing endlessly, resorting to happy talk or promoting their networks.
22. Stand by your favorites. Tell your friends about the good shows and write letters to the networks if a good one is in jeopardy.
23. If a show repeatedly disappoints you, move on. But be willing to return if a series stages a miraculous recovery. The happiest surprise this season is "Frasier," which producers Christopher Lloyd and Joe Keenan have made hilarious all over again.
24. Don't be a sucker for promotion. It can be skillfully done. More often, it can be cheap, misleading and hyperbolic.
25. Watch television less, and you'll appreciate it more. With television, the ironies never end.


Are there people out there that are finding the act of watching TV too mentally taxing?
Link via TMFTML.

So True 

Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker writes you, you wonderfully urbane,
witty boozehound, you.


Which Author's Fiction are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Especially the boozehound stuff.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Ben Shapiro hates Dead People 

Shapiro defames Yitzchak Rabin, in great detail. Rabin's assassination was "tragic not just because Rabin suffered an untimely death but because Rabin became sacrosanct." He was not a great general, he negtiated with terrorists, he "bears responsibility for many of the most fouled-up military operations in Israeli history." I believe that whole 'invading Lebanon for twenty years' thing wins Israel's current prize in the 'fucked up military operations department'. Shapiro does notice a time when Rabin tried to kill terrorists, but for some reason it upsets him even more:
One of Rabin's proudest military moments came on June 22, 1948. Menachem Begin's Irgun, another Israeli military group, was in the midst of negotiating a pact with David Ben-Gurion under which Irgun would join the new Israeli Defense Force. Meanwhile, the Irgun had loaded a ship, the Altalena, with weapons and Jewish fighters (many of them Holocaust survivors) to join the IDF. Ben-Gurion ordered that the Altalena be fired upon. Rabin carried out his orders to the letter. Later, Rabin bragged how he had "bumped them off on the deck of the burning ship and while they were trying to swim to safety." Sixteen Jews were killed, many shot while swimming to shore. So much for the "great general."

First off, I believe the polite term for Irgun is 'terrorists'. When you blow up the people that occupy your country, you are a terrorist. The Palestinians got the idea from Begin. This incident is always brought up by the Right to show the different between Israelis and Arafat; Arafat wouldn't attack the terrorists on his side, while Ben-Gurion and Rabin were not willing to condone extremism in service of their cause. It's interesting that Shapiro won't criticise Israel's founder for his decision to fire, he just picks on Rabin. Shapiro also gets mad about Israelis shutting down right-wing radio stations. He does not mention that the radio station in question was a pirate radio station, and its director was convicted for lying under oath. Here's Shapiro's moronic conclusion:
Yitzhak Rabin did not deserve to be murdered. He simply deserved to lose the public trust. He deserved to live out his life in obscurity rather than dying a martyr for a detestable cause.
Ben Shapiro, on the other hand, does not deserve to have sex with a human woman. Thank the lord, he never will.

Hat tip: Roger Ailes.

UPDATE: Wesley Clark agrees with me: In June of that year, a ship named the Altalena dropped anchor off the coast of Tel Aviv. The vessel was loaded with weapons, ammunition and volunteers for a paramilitary movement. David Ben-Gurion, the head of Israel's new government, knew the just-declared cease-fire in the War of Independence would be wrecked if the Altalena was allowed to off-load. They had no choice but to order their defense forces to sink the ship. It fell to a young colonel to carry out those orders. That officer was Yitzhak Rabin.
By scuttling the Altalena, Rabin took a giant step toward statehood for the Jewish people.

The rest of the piece is bland pro-Israel mush (fence good, Palestinian state good, terrorism bad). Though i'm sure it would be a much better policy than the current President's. The ending is a little confusing, however: But when I was helping negotiate the Dayton Peace Accords, I learned that when the U.S. government really throws its weight behind a peace process, impossible things become possible.
But the US did throw its weight behind Israel peace, and it didn't work. Bush's hands-off policy was even worse, of course. But you would think Clark would have remembered Camp David, and acknowledged it in some way.

Gordon Campbell kills babies, Ezra Levant likes babies 

Infant Mortality Rate Spikes since Campbell Elected Shocker: The mortality rate rose from 3.7 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 2000 to 4 deaths in 2001 and 4.4 deaths in 2002.
Coincidence? Well, probably: The study found "there is no indication of a change in the pattern of mortality or morbidity and increases in the infant mortality rates in 2001 and 2002 were the result of random fluctuations in relatively rare events." Even if this spike is random, there's no need for Health Planning Minister Sindi Hawkins to say the report was 'good news'. I mean, think of the children.
Meanwhile, apparently the NDP's recent victory in Saskatchewan was caused by too many of those damn Native babies. According to Ezra Levant: Conservatives, especially conservatives of a Christian variety, should always welcome more children. Hey, us Jewish liberals think children are great too. Especially in our matzah. Anyways, Levant likes most children, but he is willing to make an exception for Aboriginal children, because they sentenced his province to "four more years of socialist rule". White people, on the other hand, are great at voting for people. Saskatchewan should get more of them.

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