Megapundit: The revolting caucuses

Must-reads: Vaughn Palmer and Chantal Hébert on carbon taxes; Dan Gardner on solving the energy crisis.

What ever happened to loyalty?
The Liberals are fuming about their leader’s carbon tax, the Dippers about their leader’s position on the “Durban II” conference. Meanwhile, at stately Harper Manor, all is quiet.

Forget the Liberal caucus and Chevy Suburban owners, says the Toronto Star‘s Chantal Hébert. The real fight Stéphane Dion will face over his carbon tax may be with the Premiers—or three of them anyway. Ontario’s Dalton McGuinty has enough to deal with just with soaring oil prices, thank you very much, without the feds piling on; British Columbia’s Gordon Campbell quite enjoys the idea of redistributing his own carbon tax revenues; and Quebec’s Jean Charest faces the prospect of the federal tax coming down on top of his own. “Leading economist” Tom Courchene says it’s high time the federal government took the reins, Hébert notes, but even he calls carbon taxation “the most complex constellation of policies ever contemplated in Canada.”

More bad news for Dion: the Vancouver Sun‘s Vaughn Palmer reports that 59 per cent of granola-munching, earth-smooching British Columbians are now opposed to Campbell’s carbon tax. And though voters don’t seem willing to take it out on his government quite yet, communications on the file has been abysmal. “By focusing public attention on the [$100] ‘climate dividend‘” instead of the offsetting tax shifts, Palmer argues, “the Liberals may well have managed the exceptional feat of reducing income taxes … without getting credit for doing so.” And amidst record-high gas prices, the NDP are rolling out an “axe the tax” campaign—something Campbell should consider, Palmer suggests.

“When the weather is cold, it proves climate change is taking place. And if it’s hot, it proves climate change is taking place,” Terence Corcoran whinges in the Financial Post. And according to the CBC, CNN and his “local all-news radio station”—whether they say it explicitly just imply it with their “tone”—floods such as those in Iowa apparently prove climate change is taking place too, even though scientists agree no single event should be chalked up to the overall phenomenon. Phooey! he declares.

“Internal correspondence obtained by the National Post suggests that a number of NDP MPs think the party is mistaken in its opposition to a government boycott [of the UN anti-racism] conference and has called for a rethink,” John Ivison writes. Sounds ominous. But as far as we can tell, that “internal correspondence” is a single mass e-mail to members of the left-wing Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians from founder Diana Ralph, in which she claims Diana Bronson, from Jack Layton’s office, told her that Dipper MPs were “starting to crumble and [believe] that the decision was a mistake.” There’s certainly opposition—Peter Stoffer allows that he’s “not 100% behind the current decision.” It just seems weird to pin the whole story on a third-hand e-mail, is all.

The Montreal Gazette‘s Janet Bagnall bemoans the Conservative government’s apparent lack of interest in appealing to female voters, particularly at a time when women are more educated, participating more in the workforce, closing the earnings gap, occupying more seats on FP500 boards of directors and… hang on a tic, aren’t these all good things? Well, apparently not. “What these statistics show is that Canadian women are having problems,” Bagnall argues, noting that “fewer women are marrying and having children,” and those that do “are cutting back somewhat on the amount of time they spend looking after them.”

After the jailbreak
Taliban insurgents may be crowing to the Western media about the Kandahar prison break, but the Star‘s Rosie Dimanno says their stated goal of recapturing Kandahar City is nothing but a pipe dream. It won’t happen, she assures us, “even if it means transferring American troops by the battalion-load from eastern Afghanistan, or shifting some 2,400 Marines only recently landed as reinforcement cavalry in neighbouring Helmand.” But the insurgents’ increasing brazenness, particularly in close proximity to Kandahar, poses a strategic challenge nevertheless. The solution, one “diplomatic source” insists, is not to abandon the key strategy of engaging “the population in villages, in communities,” and not to be drawn into battles on “guerrilla-friendly terrain.”

Well of course Taliban insurgents blew a hole in the Kandahar prison, the Globe‘s Jeffrey Simpson sniffs from his comfortable office in Ottawa. The Afghanistan-Pakistan border “mocks one of the cardinal rules of counterinsurgency warfare,” he argues, while NATO’s “inability to starve the insurgents of funds and supplies” mocks another. We assume Simpson will favour us with some constructive suggestions about what the hell to do about all this in his next column.

Idiots, certainly. Terrorists, maybe.
The Star‘s Thomas Walkom believes RCMP informant and star prosecution witness Mubin Shaikh came close to “torpedo[ing] the Crown’s case” in testimony yesterday at the trial of a minor player in the so-called Toronto 18 terrorism plot. The ringleaders were “delusional,” “nuts,” “disconnected with reality,” possessed by a “jihadist fantasy” and “a few fries short of a Happy Meal,” he testified, arguing “it was highly improbable that the nefarious plans he has been describing for the last 10 days could ever have been put into action.” (He may well be right. On the other hand, we would note that gangs of very stupid people have managed to pull off “improbable” terrorist attacks in the past.)

People who believe prosecutors have vastly overreached in this case—particularly when it comes to the 20-year-old currently on trial—”have a point or 12,” The Globe and Mail‘s Christie Blatchford concedes. He was a “recent convert whose knowledge of Islam was a kilometre long and a millimetre deep,” she notes, and the ringleaders deliberately kept him out of the loop. But when it comes to the leader of this hapless terror cell, she still “defer[s] to Mr. Shaikh,” who said yesterday: “You and I know it’s a fantasy, but he didn’t.”

Duly noted
From Abraham Lincoln to Harry Truman and Bill Clinton, the Globe‘s John Ibbitson says there’s a historical pattern when a competent but less experienced executive takes over the oval office: he “arrives clearly unequipped to meet the demands of the office. He makes mistake after mistake, his popularity wanes and the pundits prepare his political obituary.” Meanwhile, he “analyze[s] each failure with a clear head,” surrounds himself with trustworthy advisers, “figures out the Congress,” and rebounds—often to greatness. As such, Ibbitson says Obama’s lack of experience is less a concern than his “capacity to grow.” It’s considerable, he concludes—but then again, so is John McCain’s.

England went through an energy crisis in the 13th century “when population growth and deforestation led to a shortage of wood,” writes the Ottawa Citizen‘s Dan Gardner, and again in the early 1700s, when, having exhausted easily accessible coal supplies, “miners had to burrow deep into the earth—so deep the mines flooded with water.” A “clanking, belching, hissing” invention solved that problem, he notes, and he’s pretty sure our “inventive species” will get us out of our current mess too. After all, he writes, “the earth’s core is a mighty furnace. Air and water swirl with unfathomable kinetic energy.” And by gum, we’d add, there’s profit to be made!

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