Barrel Strength

Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Barrel Strength - Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Harper Displacement Syndrome

Another day, another wistful story about the possibility of Prime Minister Harper removing himself from the national political scene.  The story opens, “Would the governing Conservatives be better off motoring into Election 2015 without Stephen J. Harper at the wheel?” The answer is, no, not really, of course not, but it then goes on to discuss possible replacements in some fantasy Canada. This genre of Canadian political analysis always reminds me of a four-year-old discussing candy – not really asking for candy, but just telling little stories about it, artlessly listing its advantages and deploring its absence, all the while reading the audience for evidence that something, anything, is eliciting a response. For years, these opinion articles have used a tone of quiet patience with Mr. Harper, pointing out how close he is to electoral disaster and offering ideas that might help him be successful.  Mr. Harper has been Prime Minister for years and may hold that office for years to come, but the mainstream media never has accepted that and never will. The main result has been their decreasing importance, and Mr. Harper’s increasing strength.


Harper threatened by torrent of approval

Faced with approval of his positions on Israel (do you need more time to kill these psychopaths, Bibi?) and Russia (Mr. Putin is the chief psychopath), our Prime Minister issued a press release today:

I know Canadians have been disappointed to agree with me on major international issues, such as Israel and Russia. I know it embarrasses them to have me be praised for anything, especially my moral clarity. My positions have prevented  Canada from playing its former role of mediator between evil and its victims. I know the diplomatic class of the former age detests me. I have prevented their being approved of in the kinds of circles they admire. My stance on global warming is an embarrassment to all right-minded  bien pensants.

My pandering to the Canadian public is worse. In my heart of hearts, I think climate change is a gigantic pile of crap, though I do not find it expedient to say so. I dodge, weave and prevaricate, but my support for greenhouse gas emissions is strong. I want China to buy our resources, even if that twerp Obama dithers on the pipeline.

It is not just the left that I am ready to annoy. I am an equal-opportunity annoyer of the left and right.  When Canadian complain of high cell phone rates, I sic the CRTC on the carriers, and quietly urge the Commission to regulate them more.

When the country is alarmed by abuse of foreign worker programs, what do I do? Nothing. I raise an eyebrow and Jason Kenny goes into action.

I apologize to Canadians for generating Harper derangement syndrome. I keep annoying the Left for not being the evangelical Christian they need to hate. I keep annoying the Left for being a centrist moderate. (I do not know which annoys them more).  I annoy Corcoran in the Financial Post for my spectrum policy.

Canadians! I intend to continue to annoy the people who most need to be annoyed to the extent I can. I will keep up this work until re-elected or thrown out of office. In the meantime, rest assured I shall not become more charming, pliant, or stupid.

Leftist culture keeps on consuming itself

At least Fake identifies itself clearly as parody. As for The Guardian, it is long past that, as demonstrated by its latest idée fixe, the viper’s nest of racism and patriarchy that is apparently “Thomas the Tank Engine”:

…when the good engines pump out white smoke and the bad engines pump out black smoke – and they are all pumping out smoke – it’s not hard to make the leap into the race territory.

[t]here are certainly a lot worse shows in terms of in-your-face violence, sexism, racism and classism. But looks can be deceiving: the constant bent of messages about friendship, work, class, gender and race sends my kid the absolute wrong message.

Of the Guardianista’s claim that it’s not hard to make the leap into the race territory, I recall this pearl of wisdom from The Tick:

And, isn’t sanity really just a one-trick pony anyway? I mean all you get is one trick, rational thinking, but when you’re good and crazy, oooh, oooh, oooh, the sky is the limit.

H/T Small Dead Animals

MH17: Russia won’t break, West will bend

As far as I can see, this thing is over. Nobody has effectively responded to the atrocity, Malaysia more or less upgraded some Russian-backed thugs to the status of something you could negotiate with and Moscow does not seem to be yielding any ground on the question of responsibility. Without American leadership …. ah, why even pursue that thought? I think this will trickle away and the world will focus on exhorting Israel to be reasonable.

Honey, before we were married, I knew how to drive

West Midlands Police are investigating the officer who posted this for offences against their “social media policy”, whatever that is.


Yet, the cartoon  is true. At various points in my life, I have been married and I have been single. I have had one accident at the age of 21, and another at the age of 59, both costing less than two thousand 2014 dollars to fix.

About once a month, maybe every six weeks,   I nearly hit a person or a car because of gasps, alarms, calls from my wife as passenger.

  • I have already seen them and calculated the risks. 90%
  • I have not seen them but was about to (my head was turning, I had not yet seen them but was in the process of looking. I was avoiding  the approaching car and did not see the squirrel, etc) 7%
  • We nearly had an accident because your call of alarm distracts my attention from the road to you – 3%

The worst offence is when you are in the middle of a busy intersection making a safe and legal turn when you wife/girlfriends calls out an alarm, or asks for a change of direction. Not in the middle of making a turn!

What is it about wives/girlfriends as passengers that they feel the only thing keeping us safe is their vigilance?

I realize this sounds like a self-caricature of a bad driver, but my insurance rates and accident record speak for themselves. Statistically, I am a safe driver. And I am far more likely to have an accident from being distracted from the road by a cry of alarm than we are from my failing to see danger approaching.

In a long life I have only once dated a stereotypically bad female driver; most have been excellent. But as passengers, most wives and girlfriends are sources of considerable risk.

As with everything these days, telling the truth in public will get you into trouble.

Those looking today for insight into the Gaza conflict or the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner by Russian thugs will have to look elsewhere. Each is, in its own way, not so much news as “Pope says mass at Easter”: utterly normal.

Impeach Obama?

Some among the American right are calling for the impeachment of President Obama. I think they are mistaken, for all the reasons Pat Buchanan advances in his article in Takimag. First because Obama has not yet acted illegally, and second because the Republicans do  not have sufficient votes in the Senate. Most because impeachment changes the subject from Obama’s ineffectiveness (the word “feckless” is appropriate) to the positive acts of the Republicans to remove him.

With the economy shrinking 3 percent in the first quarter, with Obama sinking in public approval, and with the IRS, NSA and VA scandals bubbling, why would Republicans change the subject to impeachment?

The effect would be to enrage and energize the Democratic base, bring out the African-American vote in force and cause the major media to charge the GOP with a racist scheme to discredit and destroy our first black president.

Does the GOP really want a fight on that turf, when they currently hold the high ground? If you are winning an argument, why change the subject?

My point is this: it is important to consider tactics and messages. The Republicans in the States need to win the next time. Given the demographic changes in the United States – ever less white, ever more Hispanic – the Republicans face a different population than existed even in the Reagan period. They need to let the Obama regime sink under its own weight of ideology and incompetence. The American electorate will come around to the Republicans only when they believe that Republicans will manage the affairs of the republic better than the next  Democratic candidate. The American electorate need to accustom themselves to what it feels like to live in the world where the United States does not lead and does not act in its own interest.

Let the lessons of Obama sink in. America has been in a  low estate before; it is in a low estate now. Let the Democrats bear the blame for what they have created. Do nothing to distract Americans from contemplating the wreckage Obama will leave behind.

I am not disappointed in Obama because, for some accident of personal disposition and education, I have never had the slightest belief he was anything but an over-promoted semi-intellectual academic parading as an African-American version of black man. I have always considered him 100% fatuous. A near nullity. More people are slowly coming to this view, as they abandon false hopes.

Something of value on Twitter

In the vast info-spew that is the Internet, one occasionally comes across a digital gem. A growing Twitter meme has been parodying of, an online magazine that itself is degenerating into unwitting self-parody.’s actual headlines today range from “9 sinister things the Christian right does in the name of God” to “7 biggest myths about big penises“, so we know that under-equipped cis-male secularists can feel upbeat and informed.

So how does that differ from this:


Dear Andrew

You profess to be mystified by the Conservative opposition to the Charter of Rights. You profess stupefaction that the Conservatives would ever want to resist the constraints that the Charter puts on government. How could Conservatives possibly want to have less constraint on government actions?

I need to explain something to you. It is not difficult, but it requires an act of imagination. What you have to imagine is that the law courts, the legal training that lawyers receive, the law-school culture, the Charter’s champions, combine to place a specially selected and self-selecting group of people in power to interpret what the law, and especially what the Charter, says.

What they come out with is not obvious by any means. Take the recent Nadon case. To my mind the obvious interpretation of the language of sections 5 and 6 of the Supreme Court Act allowed a Federal Court Judge to be made a Supreme Court Judge. So did Mr. Justice Moldaver of the Supreme Court. The remaining six members of the panel did not, and now we are stuck with the result, being  that a Quebec civil law lawyer, once appointed to the Federal Courts, cannot aim for the top court. Did anyone of the majority on the panel think about this highly unfortunate result for the future of the judicial system in Canada?

And that was a relatively simple matter of statutory interpretation. But as everyone who has studied the law knows, there comes a time in the life of a court when no theory of constitutional interpretation will prove a sufficient guide to how one should decide a case. In the end, you have to make it up as you go along. (Noah Feldman’s book Scorpions shows how Franklin Roosevelt’s Supreme Court appointees worked out their issues, and it becomes abundantly clear that the mystery of a supreme court of any country is that the law gets made up as you go along.

I am sorry to have to say this Andrew, because I think you think the law is made by the same process as you were made, by immaculate conception.Unfortunately, or not, the process is wholly biological.

More than messy and human, it is made up by a specialist class of people who have received both legal privileges (to be members of a Bar) and extensive indoctrination into the belief in their might, majesty and importance. Accountants, engineers, doctors and other professionals can become Prime Ministers and Premiers of provinces. The Premier of Quebec is a brain surgeon, for example. But the head of the Supreme Court, and every judge,  must be selected from a member of a Bar.

And they have all been imbued with the notion that they alone interpret what the Charter says. Not accountants, scientists, dentists, doctors or acupuncturists. So it is important to raise your sights from the Charter to the power of the class of people who are exclusively authorized to interpret it.

Do you not see a limitation of Parliament’s powers? Do you not then see, in consequence, a limitation of popular government? For good maybe, but not necessarily for the good. The aptitudes, incentives, training and education of lawyers does not automatically lead to wise political decisions, and at the Supreme Court level, they are playing big time politics, albeit in a technical language of rights.

I think you can see that this power to interpret is not accountable to any source of authority other than itself and the specialized class of technicians to who constitute its audience. The Supreme Court in the Nadon decision just nailed the door shut on any amendment to itself, by its own declaration, that any change to its composition is a constitutional  matter requiring the assent of seven provinces having 50% of the population to be procured within three years. (The US Constitution allows and indefinite period for garnering the assent of two-thirds of the states. A constitutional amendment that was initiated in the 1830s, I recall, only passed the two thirds mark in the 1980s).

So, Andrew, before you vapour on about those dreadful Conservatives not liking the Charter, perhaps you might like to reflect on the unelected and self-referential nature of our judiciary. For a guy who thinks our Parliament is less legitimate than it should be because we do not have proportional representation, it is not clear why you give a free pass to the nine Volvo-drivers in ermine who govern the country, as a deep state, and are so harsh on the people who have been elected to do so, and who inevitably will be turfed out in the course of time. Only death, reaching 75, or resignation, changes the Supreme Court. Why are you so indulgent towards these technical politicians?

Girls and boys

The Montreal Gazette is wringing its hands over girls not persisting in playing chess through to the end of high school.

Chess body works to retain girls
There is something about the high school years that makes female chess enthusiasts stop playing, the game’s governing body says.

Well, uh, perhaps because chess is so insanely dorky.

According to the Chess Federation of Canada, while interest in playing competitively wanes for both genders in their teens, the percentage of girls who drop out is higher than boys, resulting in abysmally few women at the game’s top levels.

Also, the real genius needed, as well as the 10,000 hours of practice needed to perfect the skill, eliminate most boys who play chess too.

Why is female participation in chess a problem with which we need to be concerned when the fact that males are not entering university, and not completing university, in any where near the proportion they used to, received only the mildest of faint interest?


Why is it that when the male sex seems to be floundering, the only concern we have is to boost the presence of females in science and maths, where they have little interest and most have less aptitude than the brightest of males (as does the rest of the male sex)?

Why are we ignoring the problem of males? Why is it that the only perspective allowed to be discussed in the press is the failure of women to be equally engaged in those areas of interest where males have traditionally excelled? Why are we not concerned with the low participation of males in nursing? You know the answer. Proportionally fewer males than females are interested in nursing.

So why are we not allowed to point out that fewer females than males are interested in science and mathematics?

And why is it unmentionable that males are not entering university as much as they used to?

And if mentioned, what is the cause?

We know the cause. Males are being discouraged systematically by a female dominated education system, that excites and inspires nothing in, and demands nothing of,  the male soul.

And it is nearly illegal to say this.