Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Tucker Carlson

Carlson’s continued his trend of being a bow-tied wearing idiot spouting mostly nothing but right-wing claptrap. I really enjoyed when Jon Stewart tore into him on Crossfire, especially in light of comments like these:

Last week, MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, a well-known conservative pundit, let loose with a string of anti-Canada rants.

"Anybody with any ambition at all, or intelligence, has left Canada and is now living in New York," he said.

"Canada is a sweet country. It is like your retarded cousin you see at Thanksgiving and sort of pat him on the head. You know, he's nice but you don't take him seriously. That's Canada." Carlson also said it's pointless to tell Canada to stop criticizing the United States.

"It only eggs them on. Canada is essentially a stalker, stalking the United States, right? Canada has little pictures of us in its bedroom, right?"

"It's unrequited love between Canada and the United States. We, meanwhile, don't even know Canada's name. We pay no attention at all," he said.

It’s certainly not funny, which is what he was aiming for. I just don’t know whether that’s offensive or plain stupid. When you put something like that it matters little whether his bigger point is accurate.

P.S. I hate Tucker Carlson.

Monday, December 05, 2005

How Many Have You Read?

How many of the American Library Association’s most challenged books have you read? Click here to read the list. It does have a ton of books for kids; but those books are the ones that tend to be challenged.

I’ve read #1, 5, 7, 13, 16, 22, 27, 29, 32, 33, 37, 41, 49, 51, 55, 56, 62, 70, 77, 83, 84, 88, 96 and 99. That’s 24, by my count. Not bad, but I really should read some more challenged books. If you’ve noticed, I didn’t include Slaughterhouse-Five, despite the fact I’m a big Vonnegut fan. I have both it and Brave New World on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. Once I get through both of those I’ll have read over ¼ of the list.

Man, those Alvin Schwarz stories were pretty freaky. The drawings were so ghoulish. I’m convinced I got multiple nightmares from them, but the books were a perfect first venture into the horror genre. I actually raised those books in conversation a few days ago (although I had no idea who wrote them) and the people I was speaking to had no idea what I was speaking about. It was sad.

Also, congrats to Judy Blume for writing candidly about teenage sex from a girl’s perspective over 30 years ago and still occupying the #5 spot on the list. Although her stories don’t age particularly well, her books still should be part of any girl’s reading during adolescence. Sadly, I don’t think I ever read Forever, but I know I read Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret and Blubber, as well as all the Fudge books, which weren’t on the list.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Harper’s GST Plan

How idiotic does your plan have to be if you’re a right-winger who is being attacked by the Fraser Institute? Well, Stephen Harper’s new economic plan to cut GST has provoked just that.

"From an economic point of view, it wouldn't be my first choice," Bill Robson, senior vice-president of the CD Howe Institute, told CBC Newsworld on Thursday.

"If you want tax cuts that are going to promote work, going to promote saving, help us invest more and raise living standards in the future, the GST is not the tax you would go after."

Robson said it

Earlier in the day, Harper announced he would lower the seven per cent goods and services tax by one percentage point immediately and by another point within five years if he becomes prime minister after the Jan. 23 vote.

Jason Clemens, an economist with the Fraser Institute, said he also opposes reducing the GST.

Jim Davies, who teaches economics at the University of Western Ontario in London, also said he would prefer income tax cuts.

"Most serious work done by economists who specialize in public finance indicates that the GST is a more efficient tax source than the income tax," Davies told the Canadian Press. "If the income tax cut is designed properly, it can provide similar benefit to lower-income taxpayers."

"Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid," he said.

I can’t remember the last time I heard the Fraser Institute criticise a Conservative. The election means there is some chance that Stephen Harper could become the next Canadian Prime Minister, which is an incredibly frightening notion. However, stories like this raise my hopes he’ll screw up the campaign over the month. Then again, I’m sure a number of people will see GST cuts and will automatically associate it with more money in their pocket and will blindly vote for Harper.

The notion of tax cuts for the sake of tax cuts, which is what these are, is objectionable at a time when Canada faces huge demands on its health care system, rising pension costs, cuts to education funding and some severe shortcomings in its social programs. Paul Martin, Jean Chrétien and the Liberals did a fine job of balancing the books of Canada and getting the country in a good fiscal position. Harper’s tax cuts will undo all of that or will result in decreased spending on social policies which will severely harm parts of Canada’s welfare state. This is a terrible move by Harper (realistically; I’m well aware it may be a fine move to win votes) and I’m glad to see the Fraser Institute call him on it.