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Sunday, October 31, 2004

What's worse?

Having Bush lose the U.S. election or, as a result, losing Mark Steyn's voice in The Spectator?

Posted by Paul Tuns on October 31, 2004 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Presumably another foreign leader for Kerry

Reuters reports that Qian Qichen, "one of the main architects of China's foreign policy" wrote a scathing article in the China Daily against President George W. Bush and his foreign policy. Reuters called the "searing article" as "close to a position on the U.S. presidential election as China has come" even though it did not mean Senator John Kerry. In particuarly undiplomatic language, Qian wrote, "The current U.S. predicament in Iraq serves as another example that when a country's superiority psychology inflates beyond its real capability, a lot of trouble can be caused." Now I'm no diplomat but I don't think that "superiority pyschology" is usually a friendly term in international discourse.

(Via Drudge)

Posted by Paul Tuns on October 31, 2004 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Crosbie on Canada's growing irrelevance

John Crosbie has a great column in the Sun today on the nothingness that is Canada on the world stage. Now, Prime Minister Paul Martin is trying to change that, although Crosbie doesn't find him too effective: "[T]hree days after Parliament reopens, following an election that took place over three months ago, the PM meanders morosely about Europe, trying to look like a relevant world leader but actually looking mopish and a misfit." Ouch. Now Martin knows what it feels like to be Sheila Copps.

Posted by Paul Tuns on October 31, 2004 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Forget about Clinton

Who needs the former president to campaign for the Democrats when they could have Eminem. From today's Robert Novak's column:

Pro-Kerry Web sites are pushing for free airtime on MTV in the final days of the campaign to run the video of Eminem singing ''Mosh,'' which attacks George W. Bush, the Iraq war and the Patriot Act.

MTV's most popular music-video show is ''TRL'' (Total Request Live), which gives viewers the choice of what they want to hear. Bloggers are attempting a massive vote for Mosh to put it on the air in the closing days of the campaign.

Mosh contains a lot of unattractive Bush footage, uses the words ''F-- Bush,'' calls President Bush a ''weapon of mass destruction'' and concludes by telling viewers to vote. Eminem (real name: Marshall Mathers) is a white rapper who is notorious for misogynist and homophobic lyrics.

Posted by Paul Tuns on October 31, 2004 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What Liberal Media? entry MMXXCCII

Walter Cronkite is suggesting that Karl Rove is in cahoots with Osama bin Laden, and the two arranged for the terrorist leader's latest video to be broadcast at the perfect moment late in the election.

"I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing," he told Larry King Friday night. "The advantage to the Republican side is to get rid of, as a principal subject of the campaigns right now, get rid of the whole problem of the al Qaqaa explosive dump. Right now, that, the last couple of days, has, I think, upset the Republican campaign."

For those unfamiliar with Cronkite, that would be the fellow who delivered the news to a large portion of America from 1962 to 1982.

Posted by Kevin Libin on October 31, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Press Review

From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR (where the articles are hotlinked).

With two days to go to voting day, many US papers lead with the presidential campaign, but the Washington Post leads with a deadly day in Iraq.

A Newsweek tracking poll suggests Osama’s taped message may have boosted George Bush’s chances.

The New York Times’ editorial board is onto Halliburton and the politicization of science. Public Editor Daniel Okrent writes about expert and unattributed sources.

Maureen Dowd wonders whether Osama will help Bush. Tom Friedman finds an ingenious way to break the rule against endorsing a candidate.

The Washington Post’s editorial board weighs in on Osama’s surprise and the Ukraine election.

Ombudsman Michael Getler writes about intelligence and the decision to go to war in Iraq. George Will backs George Bush, while Jim Hoagland thinks Kerry will win.

The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board has gone to the dogs.

Edward Abington and Amjad Atallah say Yasser Arafat’s illness presents new opportunities for Mideast peace. (I’ll have something to say about this in tomorrow’s Globe.)

In the UK, Tony Blair is hedging his bets, the Queen raps Bush on global warming and the Chief Justice is threatening to quit.

In France, Yasser Arafat does not have leukemia. Here’s the latest intelligence from Israel.

At home, Ralph Klein left the campaign trail to be with his ailing mom. I trust you fell back in time and have not been waiting impatiently for your daily press review.

The Toronto Star fronts the presidential campaign, York U and unprotected foreign nannies.

Graham Fraser columnizes about foreign aid. Oakland Ross serves up Michael Ignatieff’s views on the presidential contest.

Tim Harper writes about Karl Rove, analyzes the campaign and runs through what-if scenarios in the Electoral College.

Jennifer Wells writes about the Boss. Sandro Contenta reports on the Palestinians’ ailing one. (Here's my take in Friday's Vancouver Sun.)

The editorial board says Canada’s military lacks focus and funds, which suggests the new non-bow tied team at I Yonge is again shifting the Star to the centre. They’ve a ways to go if they're looking for diversity.

David Olive serves up 22 reasons Americans should not choose Bush. Haroon Siddiqui says he’s not the problem, the US is.

Richard Gwyn disagrees: he says the choice is between two Americas and the outcome matters for the entire world. Conservative columnist Rick Anderson favours John Kerry.

In the CanWest corral, the Calgary Herald and the Montréal Gazette front Halloween and the presidential campaign.

The Herald also features Ralph leaving the campaign and Catholic sex, a story that is also front page news in Ottawa.

The Citizen also fronts the latest violence in Iraq, the presidential campaign, new developments in the Al-Malki case and has today’s best corrections.

The Gaz editorial board says Mirabel could rise again, the Herald’s looks at victims’ restitution, and they don't mean taxpayers who are still paying for the white elephant.

In the Toronto Sun, Peter Worthington writes about the choice facing US soldiers. Eric Margolis is for Kerry.

Salim Mansur is for Bush. Bob MacDonald thinks the incumbent will win.

From Ottawa, Greg Weston says it doesn’t much matter for Canada-US relations—it depends on Paul Martin. Doug Fisher says the PM is blundering along.

In Edmonton, Neil Waugh explains why Alberta is opening a trade office in Washington. Mindelle Jacobs writes about struggling doctors. Paul Stanway looks at the Alberta campaign.

In Calgary, Rick Bell is a Copps fan. Licia Corbella is no fan of Mohammed Elmasry--a story that makes the Sunday New York Times.

Ted Byfield is for Danny Williams. Paul Jackson backs Bush, as does Sun media columnist John Crosbie.

Posted by Norman Spector on October 31, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Non-Arafatal

Looks like I may have been right. They say Yasir's going to live.

Darn.

Posted by Kevin Libin on October 31, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Press Review

From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR (where the articles are hotlinked).

Ossama bin Laden leads around the world today.

US papers, in addition to the October surprise no one expected, front other aspects of the presidential campaign.

In the UK and France, aside from Yasser Arafat, the new EU constitution commands front page treatment. (Here's my take on Arafat in yesterday's Vancouver Sun.)

The New York Times’ editorial board looks at the cost of the Iraq war and California’s three-strikes law. Nicholas Kristof finds George Bush statements he can support.

David Brooks weighs in on Osama and Kerry. Peter Rost, a drug company executive, favours re-importation of drugs from Canada.

The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board looks at Guantanamo and our Hobbit cousins.

At home, Ralph says sorry (disabled groups aren’t buying it), and Osama says you know what.

At least I thought I understood the message until I heard Eric Margolis tell CBC viewers last night that bin Laden is now a moderate and that he had to attack New York to inflict financial pain on Americans because both Democrats and Republicans “are completely in thrall of various interest groups.”

Shame on Peter Mansbridge for allowing this garbage to go unchallenged. And, though Mansbridge might have forgotten the Washington attack, you’d think our national broadcaster’s anchor would have been quick-witted enough to ask how Canada ended up on Ossama’s list--#5, as the Prime Minister’s security adviser recently reminded us.

The Toronto Star editorial board reflects on Canada’s international role today. The paper fronts Osama, abused nannies and patient patients—and advises readers that the price of the paper is going up.

Inside, Jim Travers considers the implications for Canada of a Kerry victory. Tom Walkom says that, no matter who wins, it’s bad news for us. Graham Fraser serves up a fine piece on Canada-US relations.

Stephen Lewis, a UN employee, is plumping for Kerry. Robert Benzie says that could be bad news for Ontario garbage.

Daniel Girard reports on the Alberta campaign. Ian Urquhart weighs in on the fiscal imbalance, which was big news yesterday.

Olivia Ward is onto beheadings. From Paris, Sandro Contenta reports on Yasser Arafat.

The Globe and Mail fronts some good and some bad news for Ralph Klein, Osama’s message and its impact on the presidential campaign and the sub story.

Inside, Matthew Kalman reports on the scene in Ramallah, and Khaled Abu Toameh reports on Suha Arafat’s return and swift departure back to Pari .

Christie Blatchford viewed the tape and skewers Mohammed Elmasry:

“Mr. Coren brought up a bombing last fall at a café in Haifa, pointing out that some of the dead were Israeli Arabs, others students who often aren't in the Israeli army. Mr. Elmasry replied with a mention of the more recent bombing of the Taba Hilton and said that this was a terrorist act, but only because “they [the bombers] were targeting people they don't know, the composition of people they don't know . . . they don't know if they're 100 per cent Israeli.”

This, he said, was very different from the suicide bomber who goes to a bus stop “where Israelis in uniform and in civilian clothes” are waiting. For Mr. Elmasry, “the composition of the situation is much different.”

So, he was plenty articulate. He was damned clear. He was forceful in the extreme. He was invited to elaborate on his remarks by Mr. Coren, and he did.

His supposed core belief, that all civilian life is sacred? Nowhere to be seen. Will the real Mohamed Elmasry please stand up? Oh, he has, and it was the guy on the tube last week.”

Jeff Simpson weighs in on the Mideast (you'll have my take in Monday's Globe and Mail):

“Just about everybody, except the ideologues and combatants themselves, knows the outlines of peace. They were there in the dying embers of the Clinton administration. There is no heat left in them, and no leaders with the will to make them glow again, unless a new man in the White House wants to make the effort.”

Jane Taber informs us that Belinda Stronach played matchmaker to Justin and Sophie. Margaret Wente found the next generation of China’s leaders at the Beijing Starbucks.

Editor-in-Chief Edward Greenspon says the Globe’s China edition last Saturday was eaten up in Vancouver and heard around the world.

Ken Wiwa hopes George Bush will win, as this will accelerate the decline of the US empire. Doug Saunders says there’s a better way to fight terrorism than Bush’s way.

The editorial board supports John Kerry but was dismayed by his reaction to Osama’s latest tape:

“Whatever you may say about Mr. Bush — and this newspaper prefers Mr. Kerry for president — it is silly to accuse him of not trying hard enough to catch Mr. bin Laden. The U.S. has diverted vast military and intelligence resources to the hunt. Every breathing American wants him put out of action so he can no longer threaten the country as he did yesterday.

As Mr. Kerry himself said yesterday, Americans are united in that. Why, then, make cheap political points out of this tape?”

A second editorialist looks at the Supreme Court’s decision on Newfoundland pay equity:

“Having forced governments to spend great sums of money on refugee tribunals (in 1985) and smaller amounts on sign-language interpreters for deaf patients in hospitals (in 1997), the Supreme Court now feels free to say: The Charter is not a blank cheque. And thank goodness for that.”

A third editorialist looks at the Ukraine election:

“There is even a chance that the Kuchma-Yanukovich forces may steal the election from Mr. Yushchenko, who was leading in pre-election polls. He has already suffered an apparent attempt on his life, succumbing to a grave illness, which he blames on poisoning, that took him away from campaigning for weeks. His supporters are so worried about election skulduggery that they have organized a mass rally for Monday morning to protest against what they fear will be a tainted outcome.

If they are right, and the election is rigged in Mr. Yanukovich's favour, the world's democracies should let out an almighty shout. After all the disappointment and brutality of the Kuchma years, Ukrainians deserve the benefits of democracy and modernity. No one should be allowed to thwart them.”

Rex Murphy, a son of the Rock, defends his premier:

“Members of the Atlantic region are weary almost to numbness of being the distant cousins of the federation, the second-tier participants in any grand national debates. A minority administration in Ottawa , one that seems to like playing with fundamental issues of the Confederation, is an open invitation to change that dynamic, and Danny Williams's performance this week may be the start of a deeper, less flamboyant campaign.”

In the National Post, Andrew Coyne poops on Danny Williams and others Preems and pans Paul Martin’s performance:

“Premiers are like union leaders: What's important to them is not how much their province actually receives, but what they are seen to obtain, by dint of their superior negotiating tactics and iron will. Had the Prime Minister yielded the same terms, with the greatest reluctance, at the conference's conclusion, the premiers might have gone away happy, at least for a couple of days.

But as it is, though both Quebec and Newfoundland are in line for massive increases in transfers over the next few years -- and so half of next year's equalization transfer will be allocated on a per capita basis, as Quebec has demanded -- both governments are making a great show of how ill-used they have been. The Finance Minister of Quebec complains of the Prime Minister's "macho" tactics, and of a "Quebec-bashing" conspiracy among the other provinces. The Premier of Newfoundland's comments are scarcely printable.”

Publisher David Asper weighs in on Truscott and Ontario ’s AG: “Unfortunately, Bryant seems more likely to play out his department's weak hand rather than admit what everyone knows. Steven Truscott will have to wait.”

Robert Fulford unloads on Noam Chomsky, who’s discomfited true-believers by endorsing John Kerry:

“He's developed a huge international following, perhaps especially in Canada , the only place where a government agency has put out an adoring film about him (Manufacturing Consent, produced in 1992, largely the work of the National Film Board). Still, he insists on having it both ways, convincing the innocent that the media have marginalized him.

Chomsky's support of Kerry could bring more criticism from the cultists, particularly if Kerry becomes president and reinforces the troops in Iraq . But true-believing Chomskyites will get over it. They've already tolerated much worse.”

The editorial board opposes cuts to the budgets of security agencies:

“Since securing the safety of the nation and its citizens is (or at least should be) the first responsibility of any government, it is staggering that Ottawa is contemplating reduction to these public safety agencies, in favour of more subsidized daycare spots and added spending on our sclerotic public health monopoly.”

John Ivison falls for Conservative spin on Stephen Harper’s Belgium-blathering (I’ll explain why the proposal is dumb in Monday’s Globe and Mail):

“But the Conservative leader has been unrepentant, indicating he believes the party is on the right track. Party sources say the idea has been well received in Quebec and that there has not been a backlash from across the rest of the country.

"We will stick with it, refine it, take feedback. There is nothing written in stone but we're breaking new ground and we'll get credit because there is a void. No-one else is suggesting anything useful," said one official.

The party acknowledges it not only needs to win seats in Quebec, it needs to become a competitive force in the province. The Belgian suggestion, combined with Harper's support for Martin's concept of "asymmetric federalism" is designed to put the party on the map in the province in short order. Harper has been insistent at pointing out that this is not a wholesale transfer of power to Quebec alone and allows other provinces to strike separate deals with Ottawa.

The "open federalism" idea will have the additional benefit, party officials hope, of massaging internecine tensions between old Reformers and former members of the Progressive Conservative party in their approach to Quebec. Insiders say the Belgian model has links to the equality of the provinces ideas put forward by the Reformers and the distinct society stance of the PCs. "This will give them something new to fight about," said one source.”

The Post fronts Osama and the presidential campaign, open skies and a Grade 5 class that’s being asked to help Omar Khadr.

Elsewhere in CanWest land, the Calgary Herald editorial board poops on Ralph; the Edmonton Journal does likewise on the front page.

The Vancouver Sun asks whether humans once hibernated; the editorial board is onto Halloween.

The Ottawa Citizen fronts Osama, the US election, Ontario wait-times and a scary Ottawa detention center.

Charles Gordon says anyone’s better than Bush, even Dan Quayle. The editorial board opposes prison needle-exchanges. On the democratic deficit, it writes,

“Paul Martin's move this week to protect sitting Liberal MPs from internal party challenges, in the disguise of protecting his minority government, is the prime minister's most cynical power play since he took office last fall.”

The Montréal Gazette stuffs Yasser and Osama and fronts the US campaign, Americans getting flu shots in Canada and the Mirabel white-elephant.

The editorial board says Palestinians will be better off without Yasser.

Another editorialist supports the court ruling on grey-market satellite TV, which “brings Canada into the world of 21st-century TV. Now our lawmakers, and citizens, have to figure out what the rules should be in this new territory.” Wait til they read this one at CanWest headquarters.

Don MacPherson goes after Québec’s finance minister for his equalization explosion:

“Friction between levels of government is inevitable in the Canadian federal system, and criticism of that system is legitimate. But when Quebec federalists resort to hyperbole and appeal to emotion, as Séguin did this week, they do the sovereignists' work for them. Can they have forgotten the lesson of Meech Lake so soon?”

In the Toronto Sun, Peter Worthington is onto Cuba, Eric Margolis looks at Ukraine. In Calgary, Rick Bell boots Ralph.

In Winnipeg, Tom Brodbeck writes about health care. In Ottawa, Earl McRae reports that the Mideast dispute has come to City Hall.

Posted by Norman Spector on October 30, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, October 29, 2004

Next President elected by Rock Paper Scissors, best two out of three

Political researchers have come up with 14 scenarios where Americans won't know who has been elected President when they wake up on Wednesday morning.

Canadians shouldn't feel too smug. Our PM is traditionally the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Commons. In 1972, if I recall correctly, the Tories and Liberals were briefly tied in their seat count totals until military and absentee votes gave the Liberals a two seat edge and a minority government.

Posted by Rick Hiebert on October 29, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Choice

This is pretty much all I need to know: The Choice.

Posted by Ghost of a flea on October 29, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Press Review

From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR (where the articles are hotlinked).

Most US papers lead with the presidential campaign.

The Los Angeles Times leads with Yasser Arafat, who’s also making headlines in the UK and in France, where he’s headed for medical care.

The New York Times’ editorial board weighs in on same-sex marriage, excessive defence spending, hobbit humans and poorly designed ballots. Paul Krugman details George Bush’s security failures.

The Washington Post’s editorial board reflects on Mideast developments and voting irregularities.

Charles Krauthammer goes after John Kerry. David Ignatius considers what comes after Arafat.

The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board reflects on messed-up voting in the US, and the opportunities opened by Arafat’s illness.

Jane Kinninmont writes about her dinner with Yasser. Here’s my take on lunch with Arafat, in today’s Vancouver Sun.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board tries to imagine a Kerry presidency. Another editorialist writes of IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei, whom the Bush Administration is not supporting for a third term:

“The United Nations appears to have cast its vote in the U.S. Presidential election this week, and it wasn't exactly a secret ballot. It used 377 tons of high-grade Iraqi explosives to announce its opposition to re-electing George W. Bush.”

At home, the Arafat story is playing big and there’s a glimmer of hope for Stephen Truscott. Ralph Klein is backing off beating up on the disabled.

Paul Martin is cooling the conflict with Danny Williams. And he's gotten some advice from the Fonz. (Here's my take on the best case he and Jean Chrétien can make.)

The Toronto Star fronts Arafat, the Boss and the man who hopes to be and Truscott.

Inside, Mitch Potter reviews Arafat’s career and his quiet exit; the editorial board sees a crisis in the situation.

Chantal Hébert mauls Paul Martin. The editorial board considers the implications of the US election for his government. Oakland Ross serves up a Canadian who’s lived on both sides of the border and has some wise words of advice.

The Globe and Mail fronts the Boss, the Stephen Truscott decision and the family’s reaction. Inside, Michael Valpy recalls the conviction.

Mark MacKinnon reports on goose-stepping in Kiev. Rod Mickleburgh is simultaneously in BC, where he reports on a by-election, and in Beijing, where he reports on a cyber-dissident.

Jeff Simpson says the US election is a dead heat and Hawaii ’s electoral votes could decide it. Rick Salutin also weighs in on the US election; he doesn’t see much difference between the candidates, but concludes:

“Many on the left are nursing a certain whimsy about John Kerry in office. “My guess is,” wrote my friend Linda McQuaig, “he would behave less aggressively in the world than Bush.” I respectfully scoff. My guess is, in the Kennedy or Clinton mode, he'd be as or more aggressive, as he has promised. But I also think the politically blinkered Bush team is more likely to lead us all into nuclear catastrophe than the “reality-based” John Kerry. For me, global incineration is the tipping point. I'm hoping for a Kerry win.”

The editorial board supports the Truscott decision, and looks at the post-Arafat period:

“Under the Palestinian Authority's own basic law, the parliamentary speaker is designated to stand in for 60 days if Mr. Arafat dies or is too ill to resume his duties. The next step is supposed to be a national election to select a new president. The Palestinians will eventually have to face the task of governing themselves effectively. Until they do, they will have no chance of realizing their dream of living in peace and freedom in a new independent state.”

The National Post fronts Arafat, Truscott, Ottawa’s disappearing Grey Cup Parade and some good news for TV viewers.

Inside, Peter Goodspeed speculates on the consequences of Arafat's demise. The editorial board comments on the missing explosives.

Sheila Copps attempts to salvage her reputation (Greg Weston was particularly savage yesterday; Michael Harris is more tempered today)--after suggesting that David Dodge was a reliable witness, today she smears him too:

“And yet, Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge, whose livelihood currently depends on the good graces of Paul Martin, was taken at his word. As were all of Martin's various minions, who lined up to dismiss the book as a work of fiction. They also suggested the author was washed up, a liar and an actor to boot. All these accusations have been made by people who have not even read the book. This is how Operation Discredit works. Kill your enemy and save yourself. What is frustrating is the tendency of the Ottawa media pack to follow suit.”

Elsewhere in CanWest land, the Calgary Herald fronts a premier who is feeling the heat; the editorial board pans Ralph.

The Vancouver Sun fronts a big NDP by-election win. The Ottawa Citizen fronts the sub story, Stephen Truscott and preparations for a terrorist attack.

Aileen McCabe says the Israelis should allow Arafat to be buried in Jerusalem; reports of his imminent death are highly exaggerated, I’d guess. The editorial board comments on day care.

In the Calgary Sun, Rick Bell poops on Ralph, Link Byfield on equalization. In Edmonton, Paul Stanway says Alberta should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Newfoundland. Neil Waugh unloads on Kyoto and Stéphane Dion.


Posted by Norman Spector on October 29, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, October 28, 2004

This Meme's On Fire

Don Cherry is now at number two on the "Greatest Canadian" voting list.


Keep voting people!!

The Meatriarchy

Posted by Justin Bogdanowicz on October 28, 2004 in Television | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Without a Trace

Something happened yesterday which seems to have garnered approximately no attention amongst the Canadian commentariat (in which I include bloggers). Choosing which international organizations deserve attention can be a bit of a mug's game, but I've decided to arbitrarily give credence to Reporters Without Borders. And what did they have to say in their third annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index? Well,

Canada ranked 18th this year, down from 10th in 2003, on a media freedom index released this week by Reporters Without Borders. ... Reporters Without Borders (https://www.rsf.org) attributed the Canada's downgrade to three issues, including a police raid on the home of Ottawa journalist Juliet O'Neill over leaked information in a security case. Also cited were restrictive CRTC conditions on cable and satellite broadcasters who might want to carry the pan-Arab news station Al-Jazeera, and a decision not to renew the licence of Quebec City radio station CHOI-FM over controversial on-air remarks. The CHOI decision is being appealed.

So an independent and relatively well-respected group comes up with concrete examples of the deterioration of press freedom in Canada, and... other than the AP wire story I linked to above which the Toronto Star seemed to have automatically picked up on its website, so far as I can tell from some (limited) internet searching, nobody says a damn thing. Our governments appear willing to impinge on our right to freedom of expression, and one of the institutional guardians of that right appear not to be terribly interested in covering the manner in which they themselves are being compromised. So... who's zoomin' who?

[cross-posted to Let It Bleed]

Posted by Account Deleted on October 28, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Unpurchased, pocketed, tempted, pilfered

Yesterday's coverage of the sale of the $64,000 ring that former MP Svend Robinson stole bothered me because of the light-hearted way the theft was referenced. The ring was presented--sometimes playing off of the Lord of the Rings--as a thing of power in itself. Either that, or the media used words like "pilfered" or "pocketed" or "unpurchased." The effect was to diminish Robinson's responsibility in the matter.

For the record, Robinson stole the ring, an item that is worth about two-year's salary to me... before tax. Subsequent media stories presented a strong case that the action was premeditated and that his tearful public confession and the reasons he gave for the theft were entirely false. The court was mind-bendingly lenient because of his high profile and now, in order to maintain our faith in the courts and excuse our low standards for public service, we must follow suit and convince ourselves that what he did really wasn't all that bad.

From CanWest: "The ring that killed Svend Robinson's political career goes on the auction block Sunday."

From the Vancouver Sun: "For sale: the ring that tempted Svend Robinson--The most sought-after ring since Gollum got his slimy fingers on his "precious" goes on the auction block...It's a round brilliant-cut diamond solitaire weighing more than two carats, set on 14-karat white gold, and it effectively ended the political career of MP Svend Robinson in April when it wound up, unpurchased, in his pocket during an auction viewing."

From the Vancouver Province: "Svend's ring goes up for auction--The diamond ring pilfered by former MP Svend Robinson goes up for auction on Halloween..."

Montreal Gazette: "The auction house that had the $64,000 ring that former MP Svend Robinson pleaded guilty to pocketing is putting the ring up for auction this weekend."

Canada's embarrassing justice system and the favoritism it shows towards its elites got a little international exposure through James Allan Garrick in New Zealand's National Business Review: Letter from Canada: A tale of two sinners, comparing Svend Robinson and Martha Stewart. To be fair to Stewart, it should be noted that Robinson stole more.

We are becoming a nation that must constantly lie to itself.

Posted by Kevin Steel on October 28, 2004 in Media | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Hope you're back to your old tricks soon

Jacques Chirac is sending all his love to Yasser Arafat.

"Having learnt of the health problems you are facing, I wish to express my deepest sympathy and warmest wishes for your recovery," Chirac wrote.

Chirac's Get Well Soon card also featured a joke about the hospital food being so bad that the nurses should be executed for being Israeli collaborators.

Posted by Kevin Libin on October 28, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

Gerard Baker in the The Times of London gives us a reasonable perspective on the imminent Political Superbowl in Look at Bush's enemies: they are the reason why he deserves re-election. After listing off a bunch of Bush's foibles and faults, he then swings into the following;

If you think for a moment about those who would really be upset by a second Bush term, it becomes a lot easier to stomach.

The hordes of the bien-pensant Left in the universities and the media, the sort of liberals who tolerate everything except those who disagree with them. Secularist elites who disdain religiosity except when it comes from Muslim fanatics. Europhile Brits who drip contempt for everything their country has ever done and long for its disappearance into a Greater Europe. Absurd, isolationist conservatives in America and Britain who think the struggles for freedom are always someone else’s fight. Hollywood sybarites and narcissists, self-appointed arbiters of a nation’s morals.

Soft-headed Europeans who think engagement and dialogue with mass murderers is the way to achieve lasting peace. French intellectuals for whom nothing has gone right in the world since 1789.

The United Nations, which, if it had its multilateral way, would still be faithfully minding a world in which half the population lived under or in fear of Soviet aggression. Most of Belgium.

Above all, of course, Middle Eastern militants. If your bitterest enemies are the sort of people who hack the heads off unarmed, innocent civilians, then I would say you are probably doing something right.

This may sound petty. It is not. This constellation of individuals, parties and institutions has very little in common other than the fact that it has contrived to be wrong on just about every important issue of my adult lifetime.


That last paragraph rings particularly true to me, especially when I consider all the lefty crap I supported--I painfully admit--as a young man.

Posted by Kevin Steel on October 28, 2004 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Al Qaaqaa - From Explosives Scandal to Media Scandal

It turns out that the New York Times was let off easy on the Al Qaaqaa fiasco. CBS was trying to hold the Bush-damaging story in order to run it in the final hours of the campaign - when there would be insufficient time to present the facts - but the Times broke it. The initial explanation was journalistic "competitiveness".

Except they weren't competing with CBS. They too, had planned to hold it for Monday publication - until it began to leak into the blogosphere. According to the Washington Post, their hand was forced.

On Sunday night, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller told Jeff Fager, executive producer of CBS's "60 Minutes," that the story they had been jointly pursuing on missing Iraqi ammunition was starting to leak on the Internet.

"You know what? We're going to have to run it Monday," Keller said.

Bill at INDC has the Russian angle covered (including possible connections to the "caught in the crossfire" incident involving Russian "diplomats), while Wizbang is providing updates and asking for assistance in exploring the discrepencies between the original IAEA inspections and their subsequent reports.

The information on which the Iraqi Science Ministry based an Oct. 10 memo in which it reported that 377 tons of RDX explosives were missing - presumably stolen due to a lack of security - was based on "declaration" from July 15, 2002. At that time, the Iraqis said there were 141 tons of RDX explosives at the facility.

But the confidential IAEA documents obtained by ABC News show that on Jan. 14, 2003, the agency's inspectors recorded that just over 3 tons of RDX was stored at the facility - a considerable discrepancy from what the Iraqis reported.


More at Instapundit, while Powerline is covering the follow-up "reporting" by the Times and finds they are still working hard to salvage/spin this story.
Once again, the Times appears to be the only news organization in America that doesn't know that the 101st Airborne merely passed through Al Qaqaa on the way to Baghdad without searching the site. It was the 3rd ID, which reached Al QaQaa six days earlier, that knew the site needed to be searched, and did, indeed, search it. Can the Times really be this inept? I don't think so. I think it's deliberate. No newspaper could be this bad accidentally.

Posted by Kate McMillan on October 28, 2004 in Media | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Press Review

From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR (where articles are hotlinked).

US papers lead with the presidential campaign and Yasser Arafat’s condition, except in Boston.

The Palestinian leader is also top of the news in France and the UK, competing for attention with disarray at the EU.

The New York Times’ editorial board weighs in on the Gaza withdrawal and accountability for Abu Ghraib. Tom Friedman weighs in on that and more.

Maureen Dowd says “Dick Cheney peaked too soon. We've still got a few days left until Halloween.” Jim Rutenberg reports that bloggers are annoying mainstream journalists. Pity.

The Washington Post’s editorial board comments on the missing Iraq explosives.

George Will assesses the presidential campaign and the state of the nation. David Broder says next Tuesday will tell the tale on both.

Richard Cohen is voting for Kerry. Jim Hoagland says if he wins, Iraq will become Kerry’s war.

The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board comments on intelligence reform.

Margaret Carlson criticizes the Catholic attack on John Kerry. Max Boot says there’s not much difference between the two candidates.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board looks at the UN’s oil for food scandal. Steve Forbes weighs in on the presidential campaign:

“We need a renewed Reaganesque revolution. So which candidate is the most likely Reaganite reformer? John Kerry? To ask the question is to answer it -- with gales of laughter. President Bush, on the other hand, has a program as radical as Reagan's was.”

At home, Paul Martin’s veracity was challenged again at the Gomery Inquiry. Mercifully, the Copps confrontation seems to have come to a conclusion, with Greg Weston skewering the loser.

On the other hand, after a day of he said/he said, the PM was in full retreat on the Newfoundland clawback.

In their post-QP chat, Don Newman and Susan Bonner tried their best to help the beleaguered man who’s responsible for the CBC’s transfer payments, too, agreeing several times that equalization is very complex. To anyone who’s spent any time in Ottawa, however, it’s abundantly clear what happened.

In the heat of an election campaign, the PM made an imprudent promise that would radically change the nature of the equalization program. The boys and girls at Finance were appalled; Paul Martin, as a former finance minister, should have known better, but politicians will be politicians.

Once the election was over—short of a majority notwithstanding one additional Newfoundland Liberal MP, plus the Tory who ratted before the vote and is now threatening to re-rat—Finance attempted to recover lost ground by building verbal fences around Martin’s open-ended commitment.

The letter from Ralph Goodale to Danny Williams is replete with bureaucratic weasel words--three times repeating that Martin’s undertaking was to improve the benefits or to ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador "receives greater financial benefits," rather than to ensure they received 100% of the provincial oil revenues, without clawback.

Danny Millions is no idiot, especially when it comes to Billions, and he dramatically raised the stakes by playing the Newfoundland nationalism/victimization card. He’s now got Paul Martin—staring at defections from his caucus and a wipe-out on the Rock in the next election--by the short and curlies. The dénouement will not be pretty.

The Globe and Mail fronts the Martin/Williams spitting match (the best report—the one that should figure in Question Period--is stuffed inside the Toronto Star), along with Arafat, Mohammed Elmasry, the situation of Saskatchewan aboriginals and Italians thanking Canadian liberators.

Inside the Globe, Timothy Appleby speculates on who/what comes after Arafat. TV critic John Doyle serves up his list of Most Irritating Canadians:

“1) The Canadian Tire Guy; 2) Ben Mulroney; 3) Cheryl Hickey; 4) Gordon Pape; 5) Paul Martin; 6) Jian Ghomeshi; 7) Everybody in the Ultramatic bed commercial; 8) Ralph Klein; 9) Tanya Kim; 10) Don Cherry.”

Here’s a sample of Doyle’s terrific writing:

“Cheryl Hickey has an exclusive contract with Global as a network entertainment host/anchor. This is excellent news. She's only appearing on Global. Her insane peppiness about 10th-rate American entertainment crap and her self-conscious I'm-a-babe-on-Global routine will not appear anywhere else. Gordon Pape's endless CHIP reverse-mortgage commercials are the most hideous incarnation of advertising on Canadian television since the legendary “It's Patrick . . .” commercials. Paul Martin is what he is. Look up “disappointment” in the dictionary, and there's his picture. Jian Ghomeshi really annoys people. The vitriol that has been sent to TV Cranny about him is now being used in a handbook about obscenity issued to aspiring journalists. The Cranny has heard from people who found him irritating 15 years ago.”

Speaking of terrific writing, Margaret Wente is back home and on a book tour but her column is still back in the Orient:

“The China story is a clear rebuke to the anti-globalization crowd. By throwing its doors open to the multinationals, the country is lifting millions of people out of poverty. The multinationals bring their know-how, their equipment and their supply chains, and the Chinese use it to bootstrap themselves into the world economy.” Take that, Naomi Klein.

John Ibbitson must be watching a different Parliament from the one I’ve been seeing; one of us is in cloud cukooland:

“With this week's agreement to enhance the equalization program ( Newfoundland 's angst notwithstanding), Prime Minister Paul Martin has demonstrated that the Liberals are able, as well as willing, to implement their election agenda. After almost a year of confusion and misdirection, the government has found its feet. It knows what it wants to do and how it plans to go about doing it.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, have been anything but idle. Stephen Harper has reorganized his shadow cabinet and laid out a plan of attack in the House. The Opposition is coherent and cohesive in a way not seen since the early 1990s.”

Culture columnist Russell Smith probably thinks his generation invented sex, too, judging from this passage:

“Compare the stereo systems of wealthy older people with those of impoverished students. People over 50 may have leather sofas and Persian rugs, but they are perfectly happy with a little boombox in the kitchen (for listening to the news). This is inconceivable to a generation which expects a sound track to every daily activity, including work and conversation.”

Lawrence Martin says John Kerry would not retreat from Iraq, and that George Bush is lying about almost everything:

“Even if he wins re-election on Tuesday, victory will represent no great triumph for Mr. Bush. It will mean he will have to live in the spotlight of his lies for another four years. His deceptions will be increasingly exposed. The trap he has set for himself will ensnare him.”

It’s a good day for the Globe’s editorial board, in my humble opinion.

One editorialist is encouraged by demos in Baghdad:

“But if even Margaret Hassan is vulnerable to the kidnappers, many Iraqis are saying, an unacceptable line has been crossed. If that sentiment helps rob the Islamist extremists of the tacit support and acquiescence they rely on for cover, this may indeed turn out to have been a turning point.”

Another editorialist reviews the Stonechild report:

“Poor training and supervision, and the lack of native officers and of an arm's-length system of police oversight — these are the shortcomings pointed up by the inquiry. Some have now been addressed. In the end, a police force that allows anyone to be dehumanized, and that does not insist on professionalism at all times, will bring more tragedies upon itself and its community.”

A third editorialist looks at France’s anti-veil law:

“Three teenage Sikhs in a suburban Paris high school were barred from class for wearing a keski, a small turban. Sikh leaders say it is not the turban or keski but the uncut hair beneath it that is the religious symbol. If their hair were not covered the Sikh students would be in violation of the law against conspicuous religious symbols. Will France require Sikhs to cut their hair as a condition of remaining in public schools?”

The Toronto Star fronts Mitch Potter on Yasser Arafat and his potential successors. Tim Harper reports on the presidential campaign. Inside, Potter reports on Ariel Sharon’s speech in Jerusalem.

The editorial board pans Danny Williams and plumps for a review of the equalization formula. To hammer home the point, the Star re-prints Joey Smallwood’s pro-Confederation speech.

On missile defence, Jim Travers writes,

“Martin is playing for time while very discreetly cheering for John F. Kerry.” Haroon Siddiqui sees parallels between the US in Iraq and the USSR in Afghanistan.

The National Post, Ottawa Citizen and Montréal Gazette front Arafat; the Post and the Gaz feature a radio station run by elementary school students that Ottawa has shut down.

The Gaz and the Citizen feature the World Series. The Citizen also fronts Mohamed Harkat and Mohammed Elmasry.

The Post also fronts the presidential campaign, the doctor shortage, and Don Martin on Paul Martin’s upcoming appearance at the Gomery Inquiry,

“The most truthful point made by Prime Minister Paul Martin on the scandal to date is that John Gomery will get to the bottom of the sponsorship scam. It will be of considerable irony if he gets there to find Martin standing there with a tilt in his halo.”

Inside the Post, L. Ian Macdonald pans Stephen Harper’s Belgium-blathering and Adam Radwanski says they’re all behaving like high school-kids in a model Parliament. The editorial board supports Ontario's pit bull ban.

The Gaz editorial board likes the equalization deal, and approves of Ariel Sharon’s refusal to hold a referendum on the Gaza pull-out. The Edmonton Journal approves Ralph Klein's performance at the meeting.

In the Post, William Watson explains equalization and the editorial board says the deal makes things worse and Danny Williams would make it worser. John Ivison agrees:

“at the end of the day, no Canadian taxpayers should be helping to support those from a province that is better off than their own. Even PT Barnum, the man credited with the phrase ''there's a sucker born every minute,'' would have trouble selling that deal.”

As I said, this will not be pretty.

Posted by Norman Spector on October 28, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Tips from the experts

As the world debates the wisdom of Ariel Sharon's pullout from the Gaza Strip, it might be worth pausing to reflect on the astonishing success that Sharon has had in winning the war on terror. In today's National Post (subscription required), in an essay adapted from a lecture Monday in Toronto, author Michael Oren makes the case that Israel has created a blueprint for the Western world to win the fight against terrorists.

After Ehud Barak's soft, submissive response to the horrific wave of terrorist attacks that were called the second Intifada (including responding to the lynching and mutilation of two Israeli reservists by bombing an empty soccer field), Israelis elected Sharon.

"He called in Israeli generals, demanded a plan for military victory and brought in a chief of staff who would implement it.

Slowly, almost imperceptively, Sharon began to escalate counter-measures -- targeting terrorist leaders, and establishing checkpoints around Palestinian cities. These measures continued till March, 2002, Israel's bloodiest month, which concluded with a nightmarish attack on a Passover Seder in the city of Netanya.

Sharon struck back with Operation Defensive Shield -- a far-reaching military operation to reoccupy the West Bank's cities. Open season was declared on the so-called "political" leaders of Hamas and the al-Aqsa brigades. Yasser Arafat was confined to his half-ruined headquarters in Ramallah, where he has remained ever since.

. . .

Instead of calling in air strikes or artillery -- what any normal army would do, precisely what the U.S. military is now doing in Falluja -- the Israeli commando units went directly into the terrorists' homes, ferreting them out -- risking their own lives, yes, but also greatly reducing the number of collateral civilian casualties.

The result: In contrast to Israeli casualties in the war -- three-quarters of whom have been civilians, less then half of all Palestinian casualties have been civilian -- a statistic almost unrivalled in modern warfare.

. . .

Looking back at the last four years, the world can learn some invaluable lessons from Israel's war on terror.

The first is, quite simply, recognizing that this is a war -- a total war, an existential war, a war of survival. A national leader, accordingly, must put virtually all other considerations aside. He or she must seek to create a national consensus and to maintain vital alliances -- to emulate Churchill in 1940 and Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor. Even then, the state and its leaders must be prepared to endure significant stress internally and bitter condemnations in the international arena.

Secondly, victories can be won against terror without totally devastating the host society. Victory is possible while maintaining basic moral and democratic values. This, arguably, is Israel's greatest achievement in this war, for though the Palestinian people declared war against not just the state but also the people of Israel, we did not retaliate with war against the Palestinians. Throughout, Israel used only a fraction of its military force, and never fired a single artillery shell at a Palestinian target. And though some Palestinian neighbourhoods, particularly in Gaza, have suffered extensive damage, Palestinian society has not been reduced to rubble -- no place in the territories even remotely resembles Dresden in 1945 or Hanoi in 1972 or Chechnya today. No place evokes a sense of what a country would look like after it had sent successive waves of suicide bombers against the civilian populations of France or Russia or the United States.

. . .

From a state of near-paralysis at the end of 2000, Israel has rebounded. The hotels are filled and the restaurants, though now gated and guarded, are packed. In this year alone, Israelis garnered the country's first Nobel Prizes in chemistry, its first Olympic gold medal and the championships of both European basketball leagues -- heady achievements for a nation at war.

I would urge other Western nations to take a close look. Israel has been your litmus, your laboratory. We have shown the world that you can prevail against terror.

Posted by Kevin Libin on October 28, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Old dictators disease

Bad week for dottering old tyrants. First Castro falls, and now Yassir Arafat is in serious, possibly critical condition following claims that he had the stomach flu (all of the above unproven).

Don't get your hopes up too high. Arafat has survived plane crashes and missile attacks before. He may yet beat the flu.

Posted by Kevin Libin on October 27, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Let the NHL die

As a lifelong Habs-hater, I never thought I'd be writing this. But I'm with Guy Lafleur on this one:

Hockey legend Guy Lafleur believes the National Hockey League should declare bankruptcy and start over again.

The former Montreal Canadiens great says it doesn't look to him like either the players or the owners are trying to settle the NHL lockout.

"Hockey's sick and they have to solve the problem. They have to go back to basics," Lafleur said Wednesday during a promotional stop in Nova Scotia for a non-profit cellphone recycling company.

"I feel very sorry for the fans that there's no hockey today and that both sides are not talking to each other."

One of the problems, said Lafleur, is that there are too many teams in the league and that's complicating matters.

"I really believe they should cut back to 24 to make hockey better," he said of the current 30-team league structure.

Lafleur said consideration has to be given to the fate of teams in the smaller Canadian markets, noting that Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa and even Montreal are all struggling in his mind.

The fundamental problem with the NHL is that the players are making NFL salaries while its U.S. popularity is closer to Arena Football. Outside of the Original Six cities and a few others where the NHL caught on, hockey is a cult sport in America. Of course, the league survived for decades with only a cult following, but for the last fifteen years or so, things have been spiralling out of control. (The turning point, I think, was when the league expanded to San Jose.)

Perhaps it would be best if the whole thing just collapsed, and hockey started all over again with a few clubs - no more than 20 - in cities with particularly loyal fan bases. And as long as I'm dreaming, I'd love to see teams relegated and promoted between major and minor leagues, like in European soccer. Wouldn't you love to see the AHL teams in Hamilton and Winnipeg play their way into the NHL?

Posted by Damian Penny on October 27, 2004 in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We asked for it

Another Liberal MP has some enlightened views on why there is terrorism in the world:
Because of the Americans.

Yasmin Ratansi, Canada's first female Muslim MP says that U.S. foreign policy is what creates terrorists (and not, say, the visceral hatred propagated by Islam's religious leaders). Of course, its not that she doesn't like America. She would say the same thing about "any imperialistic power that tries to influence another country and creates chaos in that country."

Minus the recent exception of Iraq, however, Canada has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the US on most foreign interventions, including Afghanistan, Bosnia, and the first Gulf War. So, I guess that when that long overdue attack on Canadian soil finally happens, Ratansi will be able to say that we had it coming.

Posted by Kevin Libin on October 27, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (22) | TrackBack

BBC bias

The BBC World Service and Global News director accuses the American media of bias while BBC World lines up Michael Moore for its American election coverage. You could not make this stuff up.

Cross-posted to Ghost of a flea.

Posted by Ghost of a flea on October 27, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Press Review

From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR (where the articles are hotlinked).

USA Today leads with the US election but most US papers lead with the Gaza pull-out vote in Israel’s Knesset, which is also big news in France and the UK, where the death of DJ John Peel attracts considerable attention.

Ever wonder, as do I, how Ariel Sharon—portrayed until now as a war criminal—has suddenly become a statesman? I suppose it’s possible that his character has changed since I saw him last, but maybe the papers were wrong then, and chances are the newspapers are wrong about him now.

Bottom line: He's a politician. As are his rivals--within his party and within the opposition ranks.

The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board considers the Gaza vote. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board looks at Saddam’s lost explosives.

In commentary, Pete du Pont explains why Bush will win. Britons John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge explain that the US will remain a conservative country whatever the outcome.

In the Washington Post, executive editor Leonard Downie explains how the Post separates its news and editorial pages; the piece should be read by his Canadian counterparts, judging from coverage of our election last June. And how about following Slate's practice of every reporter/commentator telling readers for whom they plan to vote?

The Post’s editorial board reconsiders stem-cells. Peter Beinart says next week's US election will mark the end of the "Jewish vote." Anne Applebaum says it’s time to try Saddam.

The New York Times’ editorial board looks at voting in Iraq, and at home next week. William Safire looks at the Afghanistan election.

Nicholas Kristof says George Bush is economical with the truth. Daniel Benjamin and Gabriel Weimann look at jihadi websites.

At home, the PM and the Preems—or most of them--reached a deal on equalization. Newfoundland was not asymmetrically unhappy, and Greg Weston says Paul Martin is the loser in the spat with Danny Williams.

What I can't figure out is the hullabaloo over Mohammed Elmasry; is anyone truly surprised by his statements? And, if the hapless professor heeds the editorialists’ call to resign, how likely is it that the next guy to head the Canadian Islamic Congress will think any differently about the legitimacy of “martyrdom” attacks against civilians in the Mideast?

The National Post and Ottawa Citizen--which first brought Elmasry's egregious statements to our attention--today front the $33 B equalization deal (it’s $28 B in the Post’s early edition and still is in the Citizen).

The Post also features the Gaza pull-out and the US presidential campaign. The Citizen has the military brass complaining about politicians making them wear the seared sub, and Paul Martin’s upcoming appearance at the Gomery Inquiry.

Inside the Citizen, Susan Riley goes after Paul Martin,

“Sheila Copps is careless with facts and Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams has a penchant for theatrical outbursts. Still, this unlikely pair -- and a damning new report on the federal government's lamentable environmental record -- may be feeding niggling doubts about Paul Martin's credibility.”

The editorial board says,

“Parliament shouldn't stand in the way of the Gomery Inquiry's search for the truth about the $200-million sponsorship scandal, even if that means waiving some of its centuries-old parliamentary privileges.”

Inside the Post, Stephen Harper explains the Belgian waffle; he should drop it and move on.

David Asper wades into the Copps/Martin spitting match and asks why it would have been a scandal if it were true that Paul Martin wanted to do away with the Canada Health Act.

Andrew Coyne is not sure of the result, but he likes the process BC’s Citizens’ Assembly used to come up with a new electoral system, and he says we lotuslanders might just be willing to give it a chance; I'd say that he and his fellow Ontarians should be the mice in experimenting with a system used by only one country (population 400,000) in the 53-member Commonwealth (population 1.8 Billion) to elect its lower house.

The editorial board praises John McCallum for trying to change Ottawa ’s spending culture. Another editorialist says life goes on without hockey, and the owners and players are just hurting themselves.

John Ivison paints a fine portrait of Paul Martin:

“There are days, like yesterday, when Paul Martin appears as a caricature of himself -- eyes wide in innocence, a trickle of sweat on his upper lip, proclaiming himself ''very, very sympathetic'' to whichever interest group has its hand out. He comes across as a guileless Oliver Twist in a room full of Fagins and Artful Dodgers….If Pierre Trudeau felt like a headwaiter taking the orders of 10 provincial premiers, Martin is shaping up to be chief cook and bottle-washer.”

Elsewhere in CanWest land, the Vancouver Sun fronts politicking teachers, and Svend's ring, which is for sale. The editorial board is keeping an open mind to electoral reform. Their counterparts in Calgary poop on equalization.

The Montréal Gazette fronts rape, C. difficile and Gaza. The editorial board poops on Ralph Klein, who

“has come out of the gate blazing away at federal interference with Alberta 's affairs. That this interference is wholly imaginary doesn't really matter: No Canadian premier ever lost votes by blaming things on Ottawa.”

Another editorialist writes, “Poor Sheila Copps has fired her last shot, and missed.”

The Toronto Star fronts equalization “handouts,” Mitch Potter in metaphorical overdrive on the Gaza vote and Rosie DiManno getting back at Mohammed Elmasry; my, revenge must taste sweet.

Inside, Tim Harper reports on the presidential campaign, Sandro Contenta on memorial ceremonies in Italy.

The editorial board wants Mayor Miller and Premier McGuinty to kiss and make up; Ian Urquhart says nothing’s changed with a change in the players.

Another editorialist--stupidly connecting the statements to anti-Semitism--calls for Mohammed Elmasry’s resignation.

Richard Gwyn reflects on US politics. Chantal Hébert says Paul Martin is becoming the premiers’ doormat.

The Globe and Mail fronts the deal, Jane Taber on the guy who walked, the sub story, the Stonechild investigation (here's the report in the Star-Phoenix) and the noose tightening around Paul Martin’s neck.

Inside, Shawna Richer serves up a portrait of Danny Williams. Estanislao Oziewicz looks back at Tiananmen protesters.

Mark MacKinnon looks at the Ukraine election. Alan Freeman reports on the presidential campaign, Shawn McCarthy on the latest business-bust.

Jeff Simpson writes about Danny Williams,

“who stomped out of a first ministers meeting on equalization yesterday in Ottawa crying “betrayal” and claiming his province had again been “shafted,” insists he will try to revitalize rural Newfoundland . All his predecessors made similar promises, and all failed. As Canadians saw yesterday with Mr. Williams's bravado performance, he does not lack for self-confidence. So maybe he can succeed in the face of decades of failure, but the odds are stacked against him.”

Murray Campbell says the divided premiers got half a loaf in the equalization deal. John Ibbitson should have taken another day to collect his thoughts on the subject.

The editorial board says,

“As an act of political theatre, Danny Williams's decision to storm out of the federal-provincial equalization conference yesterday drew attention to an important issue. But since the Newfoundland and Labrador Premier has won a victory — even if it is less than the victory he says he was promised — it was a surprising exit. His province stands to get a lot more money.”

Another editorialist writes about the Gaza vote,

“In a region so prone to moving backward, even a small step forward seems huge. This is a pivotal moment for Israel . Wrenching as it is, leaving Gaza is the easy part; but for the moment, the Knesset vote is worth celebrating.”



Posted by Norman Spector on October 27, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

European "science" at work

If this is any indication of the state of European science I think I'll reconsider any idea of sending my kids to university there:

EUROPE must ditch GM crops and invest in sustainable agriculture now if it wants to provide enough food for future generations, scientists have warned.

Scientific evidence has turned decisively against genetically-modified crops and in favour of non-GM sustainable agriculture, according to a new publication, The Independent Science Panel Report, The Case for a GM Free Sustainable World.

Interesting. With the many varieties of GM crops available one wonders how they could make such a sweeping statement covering all of them. And what startling new discoveries on crop yields or other environmental impact assessments have they done? Well, I can't do better than simply quote the report verbatim:
Dr Mae-Wan Ho, director of the Institute of Science in Society said the biotech industry is showing all the signs of collapse because, she said, it has "got the science wrong".

"When genetic engineering started in the mid-1970s, scientists thought the genome was static and genes determined the characteristics of organisms in linear causal chains.

"It turns out that the genome is constantly in conversation with the environment and changing both the expression and structure of genes.

"It is this 'fluid genome' that unsettles genetic modification and creates the dangers of uncontrollable gene transfer and recombination.

"GM is a scientific and financial dead-end and we should draw the curtain over it."

Well, how does one even enter the debate when the director of the Institute of Science in Society makes a case like that?

Posted by Kevin Jaeger on October 26, 2004 in Science | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Newfoundland's newest fight

[originally posted to Daimnation!]

Every ten years or so, the premier of Newfoundland gets into a very big, very public dispute with the federal government. Here's the latest:

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams is boycotting equalization talks in Ottawa, accusing Prime Minister Paul Martin of reneging on a deal he agreed to both privately and in public.

Williams walked away from the conference just half an hour before Martin was to meet with the premiers to discuss how much money the federal government should contribute to the country's equalization program.

Williams said he was leaving because he says Newfoundland had a deal with Ottawa that would have given the province 100 per cent of offshore oil and gas revenues.

He said Martin made the deal in June, during the federal election campaign, but has now backed off that plan and isn't returning his calls.

Williams said the federal government is trying to put conditions on the deal, such as a cap, that would only allow the province to get 14 per cent of the revenues.

Williams blamed the about-face on the recent increase in oil prices.

"We didn't come here for negotiation. We have already reached an agreement. The deal was done. And it was done at a time when Paul Martin needed the people of Newfoundland and Labrador during the election," Williams told a news conference in Ottawa.

"With all due respect to the particular member, it certainly helped his election... Now what Paul Martin has done, he's actually turned his back on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador when they need him most."

Martin fired back, saying he never received a phone call from Williams. He also said the deal he offered the premier is more generous than what they first agreed on.

"I made an offer to Premier Williams that in all instances is more generous than the one that we discussed, based on the principles that he has publicly set out," Martin told reporters.

"And I'm not quite sure I understand why he won't take yes for an answer," the PM said.

On one hand, I think Newfoundland has to wean itself off of transfer payments from Ottawa eventually, and I've always believed it a bit disingenuous for us to demand we be allowed to keep all our federal transfers and all our offshore oil revenues. On the other hand, if Williams is telling the truth about Martin reneging on a done deal - and frankly, I'm more inclined to believe Williams than Paul Martin - it's another smack in the face for a province which has already recieved way too many smacks in the face.

If you don't live here, you have no idea how Newfoundlanders feel about control of their resources. Ottawa mismanaged the fishery into near-extinction, Quebec gets nearly all the benefit of hydro power from Labrador, and offshore oil development was delayed for years because of vicious jurisdictional fights between the province and the federal government. A lot of us voted Liberal because Martin promised us 100% of our offshore oil revenues, and if he's breaking that promise, we won't forgive the Liberals for...5 or 6 years, maybe.

Posted by Damian Penny on October 26, 2004 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Ann Colter, vindicated. Kinda.

"Let's invade their countries, kill all their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

I got this from Mark Shea. "Wow" is about all I can say, too. (That and "Now if only they were Catholics...").

Posted by Kathy Shaidle on October 26, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Duranty, Back At The NYT

Roger Simon hits the bedrock in his criticism of the NYT's faux reporting of the 18 month old "lost explosives" story.

The demise of The New York Times has been an extraordinary shock to me and a kind of benchmark for my own political migration. Like most New York Jewish boys from liberal homes the paper was a replacement religion for me. Many decades ago, when I was twenty-three and published my first novel, finding a short positive review in the Book Review validated me as a writer, enabling me to go on with my risky career. I was published by them several times in the eighties when I was an officer of the left-leaning International Association of Crime Writers. I owe a lot to the Times. I also fear them because they review my books and movies. But I cannot shut up. This kind of biased behavior is unconscionable. Although it is nowhere near as drastic, of course, it makes me think of the days of Walter Duranty, that Timesman who won a Pultizer while white-washing Stalin. How could such things happen, I always wondered. Now I know. They happen when people think they are doing the right thing for the right cause and in their zeal don't stop to consider the reality of what they are saying and writing. Yes, this is worse than Jayson Blair.

update Powerline directs us to the Corner for more:

Clifford May at the NRO corner says that the New York Times story on the missing explosives was ginned up by the IAEA to undermine the administration, which wants to deny IAEA head, the anti- American Mohammed El Baradei, a second term. May relies on this message from an unamed government source:
The Iraqi explosives story is a fraud. These weapons were not there when US troops went to this site in 2003. The IAEA and its head, the anti-American Mohammed El Baradei, leaked a false letter on this issue to the media to embarrass the Bush administration. The US is trying to deny El Baradei a second term and we have been on his case for missing the Libyan nuclear weapons program and for weakness on the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Posted by Kate McMillan on October 26, 2004 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

You can't take the Trot out of the boy

Sometimes, even at his best, Christopher Hitchens still sounds like he's up at 3 a.m., tossing off something for The Sparticist Tendency instead of finishing his homework.

Sometimes I don't even mind:

One of the editors of this magazine asked me if I would also say something about my personal evolution. I took him to mean: How do you like your new right-wing friends? In the space I have, I can only return the question. I prefer them to Pat Buchanan and Vladimir Putin and the cretinized British Conservative Party, or to the degraded, mendacious populism of Michael Moore, who compares the psychopathic murderers of Iraqis to the Minutemen. I am glad to have seen the day when a British Tory leader is repudiated by the White House. An irony of history, in the positive sense, is when Republicans are willing to risk a dangerous confrontation with an untenable and indefensible status quo. I am proud of what little I have done to forward this revolutionary cause. In Kabul recently, I interviewed Dr. Masuda Jalal, a brave Afghan physician who was now able to run for the presidency. I asked her about her support for the intervention in Iraq. "For us," she said, "the battle against terrorism and against dictatorship are the same thing." I dare you to snicker at simple-mindedness like that.

Posted by Kathy Shaidle on October 26, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Need any wood?

"Canada could use a few more guys like Trudeau."

That's the Young People Today type columnist from one of Toronto's free "subway" papers, Metro. I think I had a brief email run in with this guy a while back, re: some (yawn!) "Bush is a moron" comment; ("And your MBA comes from which Ivy League college exactly, Chris...?") His reply, while courteous, tried to get me to believe that he was "just referencing other people who think Bush is stupid". Guess Chris took media training with Mohamad Elmasry...

So as I have enough "off with their heads" work to do at my own blog, I thought it might be fun to pass this along to any of you (Kate) who might like to, you know, see what Young People Today are thinking and perhaps offer them some feedback.

I will make a rare plea for mercy on behalf of one so weak: those of you who've still got your Question Authority button somewhere, and/or a vinyl copy of Sandanista lying about -- remember that we were once handsome and tall as he, and keep our sticks on the ice.

Posted by Kathy Shaidle on October 26, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Al Qaqaa

ScrappleFace reports President Saddam Hussein's horrified reaction to news of a missing weapons cache.

When Iraqi military interrogators informed the imprisoned Saddam Hussein that 377 tons of explosives had disappeared from a huge weapons storage facility, the former Iraqi president expressed concern that the extremely powerful chemical agents might "fall into the wrong hands."

His remarks bolstered claims by Democrat presidential candidate John Forbes Kerry that President George Bush had made a "great blunder" by failing to secure the weapons cache at Al Qaqaa.

"When Al Qaqaa was under Saddam Hussein's control, inventory management was efficient and reliable, and Americans could sleep at night," said Mr. Kerry, who is also a U.S. Senator. "But once these weapons of nearly mass destruction (WNMD) came under the care of George W. Bush, they vanished. And who knows what kind of crazed, America-hating killers have them now?"

/satirical intervention (and it cannot really be called Al Qaqaa... that's part of the joke, right?).

Posted by Ghost of a flea on October 26, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Press Review

From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR (where the articles are hotlinked).

US papers lead with news from Iraq, with the presidential campaign also receiving prominent attention.

UK papers are filled with grumbling over gambling, while in officially secular France religion is all the rage.

The New York Times’ editorial board looks at the situation in Iraq and ahead toward voting day.

David Brooks says no one knows who will win. Paul Krugman writes about Bush cover-ups.

The Washington Post’s editorial board also looks at next Tuesday, along with Iraqi prisoners the CIA hid. E. J. Dionne Jr. writes about voter turnout.

David Ignatius uncovers another Bush cover-up. Richard O’Brien is onto Darfur. Richard Cohen says George Bush has failed to bring Mideast peace.

The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board looks at the missing explosives in Iraq, and the Supreme Court.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr. writes about religion and US politics. Robert Scheer craps on Cheney.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board puts the kibosh on Kerry; another editorialist says the Byrd Amendment,

“is producing a pig-headed trade war with Canada and hurting American farmers.” Brendan Miniter looks at stalled intelligence reform.

At home, the Preems are away for the day--in Ottawa, to meet with the PM.

Meanwhile, he and Sheila Copps are spitting at each other at forty paces. One Preem has the PM squarely in his re-election sights.

The Toronto Star fronts cancer, child care and kids’ hockey--along with the equalization “handout hike.”

They'll love that in Winnipeg and St. John's; moreover, Ontario and Alberta do not transfer a penny to the "have-nots." And, contrary to Jean Charest's assertion, the principle not the program is entrenched in the Constitution--equalization is entirely a federal program paid for by federal taxpayers.

Inside, Sandro Contenta reports from Monte Cassino, Mitch Potter reports on Gaza and Ramallah from Jerusalem.

The editorial board weighs in on child care and the cost of kids’ hockey. Stephen Handleman is onto Belarus. Jim Travers sets up the equalization meeting.

Tom Walkom walks all over Ontario’s AG on pit bulls yet again; aside from his smarts, ya gotta love the way Walkom won’t let go of the bone on this one.

In the National Post Daily Telegraph, Mark Steyn sneaks in part of the column that editors spiked two weeks ago.

The Post fronts the PM and the Preems, the one Preem who's (primarily) politicking, punitive parenting and the presidential campaign.

Inside, David Frum, who’s voting for Bush, considers the implications of a Kerry victory:

“John Kerry is popular around the world because he is seen as a president who will lead an American retreat. And that may be the kind of president he wants to be. But Kerry does not even have the courage of his weakness. He will veer unpredictably between appeasement and anger, between strong words and weak actions, between wooly excuse-making and panicky over-reaction.”

Colby Cosh is waiting to hear outrage from Canadian Muslims at the remarks of Mohammed Elmasry and Younus Kathrada.

The editorial board has advice for Ralph Klein:

“With the outcome of their provincial ballot a foregone conclusion, Albertans should use the coming race to encourage Mr. Klein and his party to mend their arrogant, free-spending ways, and return to the small-c conservative, fiscally frugal ways that earned them so much respect during their first term from 1993-97.”

Another editorialist advises Jean Charest:

“Rather than blaming Ottawa while simultaneously extending his palms for more handouts, Mr. Charest should be looking for ways to shed his province's status as the country's have-not champion.”

Elsewhere in CanWest land, the Vancouver Sun fronts the proposed new election system. The Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal front the provincial election.

The Montréal Gazette fronts the presidential campaign, a local rape trial and the Gaza withdrawal. The editorial board says Mohammed Elmasry must reject terrorism.

The Ottawa Citizen fronts the latest from Gomery and has the latest poop on the Copps/Martin confrontation.

The editorial board say Canadians should not tolerate the intolerance of Mohammed Elmasry and Younus Kathrada.

Another editorialist doubts Bob Rae’s description of a crisis in higher education.

The Globe and Mail fronts divided provinces, the presidential campaign, the Fox visit, the sub story and a British diplomat who made full use of organs other than the brain and is paying the price.

Jeff Simpson writes about the offshore negotiations with Newfoundland,

“What's about to get done — and a deal will get done — won't be about principles, since the Martin government long ago abandoned those. It's about an election the Liberals thought they might lose and the frantic search for whatever might help.”

Margaret Wente writes about the internet in China,

“My favourite Net romance story concerns a friend named Helen. Her parents, who are farmers, had an arranged marriage. Next year, she, too, is getting married — to a man she met on the Net.” Margaret, come home.

John Ibbitson dumps on an upcoming CBC mini-series:

“H{-2}0 will reinforce the conservative contention that the CBC is hopelessly in thrall to the left. Who else would air a program that promotes the most febrile rants of the lunatic fringe?”

La Presse editorialist-in-chief André Pratte, who's written in the Globe that Québec is a nation, today defends the province’s role on the international stage,

“Mr. Charest will be in Mexico along with the Prime Minister of France, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, and small business people from both countries. This is an original concept, which is to the advantage of both France and Quebec (as well as Canada ). French businesses have difficulty selling in the North American market, a market that Quebeckers, though facing the same language barrier, have successfully penetrated.”

Frankly, I fail to see how helping Canada's competitors penetrate the Mexican market helps Canadian business.

The editorial board wades in on child care:

“ Canada 's policy paralysis stems from a family culture that has reservations about institutional care for small children. …It is time to shake things up, and the OECD offers some useful starting points: national quality standards and provincial reports that measure daycare services against those standards. At this point, any new dollars for services should be targeted at children who are deemed to be at risk because of poverty, broken homes or disabilities.”

Another editorialist doubts Sheila Copps’ allegations:

“That is bad news not only for Ms. Copps's reputation, but for Canadian politics. Democracy gains when former officials tell tales about what went on when they were on the inside, because the only true democracy is an open one. But Ms. Copps delivers an unreliable and bilious account that is no good to anyone. Her best shots are blanks.”

A third weighs in on Mohammed Elmasry,

“There can never be solidarity with those who would choose violence over discourse and would deliberately target civilians on any side. How can people of goodwill reach out to those who search for ways to justify the unacceptable? Mr. Elmasry does no favour to his community by harbouring such thoughts, whether stated publicly or not. He should resign.”

In the Toronto Sun, Elmasry’s broadcast host reviews the affair. In Calgary, Rick Bell says the Alberta election is already over while Licia Corbella says Ralph reminds her of Jean Chrétien.

In Ottawa, Greg Weston sits down with the Incredible Hunk. Val Sears says our soldiers stand on guard in “dangerous” places like the Golan Heights and Sinai. (Memo to Val: Visit; it helps to know what you're writing about.)

In Edmonton, Neil Waugh and Paul Stanway wade in on the Alberta election, while Mindelle Jacobs is onto childcare.


Posted by Norman Spector on October 26, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Monday, October 25, 2004

Global Sunday

Thanks to the heads up here yesterday, I was able to catch Global Sunday out of Nfld last night on the dish. Two minutes of Levant vs LeDrew is not enough, they had barely warmed up. Oh well, maybe as time goes Global will realize who the real stars are.

PoliticalStaples

Posted by Greg Staples on October 25, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gotcha

Yesterday afternoon there was a lot of buzz on the US blogs that big news was going to be posted.
Powerline referenced a story out of the Washington Times (which turned out to be another Senator Kerry exaggerationon meeting with foreign leaders - UN Security Council Members this time, but you already know that). Before this was released I went over to Drudge to see if he had anything. There was a link to his radio program so I thought why not?

He mentioned a possible story from the Washington Times but he also leaked that the NY Times would have the stolen weapons cache story as their lead. the weapons have been missing for 18 months - since the beginning of the war! Looks like Karl Rove set a trap and Senator Kerry and Edwards were happy to jump in.

Posted by Greg Staples on October 25, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Democrat admit party supporters prone to violence

Drudge reports an exchange between Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of the Democratic presidential candidate, and a supporter:

Supporter: Kerry's going to take PA. Liz Edwards: I know that. Supporter: I'm just worried there's going to be riots afterwards. Liz Edwards: Uh.....well...not if we win.

In other words, Republicans respect the results of democratic elections, Democrats do not. Or should this be considered a threat?

Drudge has the audio clip, too.

Posted by Paul Tuns on October 25, 2004 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Request For The Blogosphere

I recieved this email last week.

I've noticed that a few weeks ago you commented on the impact that bloggers have had on American politics and asked why the Conservatives weren't using blogs similarly in Canada. I work for a fairly prominent Conservative politician and am quite interested in hearing how you think blogs could be used to change the dynamic in Canada.

Full post at Small Dead Animals.

Posted by Kate McMillan on October 25, 2004 in Canadian Conservative Politics | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Paranoid News Alert

I should have appended this to my Spin the baby post, but it is actually a separate topic, at least I think it is.

On Thursday, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development--referenced in that post--is set to release its Economic Survey of Canada. I don't know what's in it, but I'll be sure to read the policy brief, which will be posted here.

Why? Because I'm waiting on my perch like a hungry cougar, paranoid Westerner than I am, for some foreign-based Liberal Party apparatchiks somewhere to release an "international study" that recommends our government develop a future-looking-coherent-federal-strategy-concerning-non-renewable-resources -like-fossil-fuels-that-is-consistent-with-our-international-committments -and-takes-into-account-the-scope-of-our-geography much like they have in these "Nordic countries we've studied." In other words, saying, but never using, the terms "National" and "Energy" and "Policy" and "Kyoto Accord" but amounting to pretty much the same thing, thereby giving Paul Martin some (completely bogus) ammunition to implement a wealth grab from Alberta.

Yeah, like I said, paranoid.

Posted by Kevin Steel on October 25, 2004 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Rationales

I imagine the folks at Foreign Policy think they are being funny or clever in pointing to 21 rationales for war with Ba'athist fascism in Iraq. Anyone with an ounce of sense, however, will see that a number of these are different ways of expressing the same concern. And I fail to see how the Bush administration should be accountable for the statements of Senators, let alone Democratic Senators.

Want a reason for war with Iraq? Here are 21. A study by Devon Largio, a recent graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, reveals that between September 2001 and October 2002 10 key players in the debate over Iraq presented at least 21 rationales for going to war.

Just as important are the plethora of rationales for not going to war. These can all be abbreviated to a few key themes: indifference to the fate of the oppressed, obliviousness to the words of the UFO cult that has sworn to kill or convert us all and a worldview defined by the loss of the 2000 presidential election and nothing else.

Posted by Ghost of a flea on October 25, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Team America: Roger Ebert Is An Idiot

Roger Ebert gave this movie a single star. I can't say I'm surprised. This is a man who will undoubtedly place Michael Moore's discredited "documentary" on his Ten Best for 2004.

If I were asked to extract a political position from the movie, I'd be baffled. It is neither for nor against the war on terrorism, just dedicated to ridiculing those who wage it and those who oppose it. The White House gets a free pass, since the movie seems to think Team America makes its own policies without political direction.

I wasn't offended by the movie's content so much as by its nihilism. At a time when the world is in crisis and the country faces an important election, the response of Parker, Stone and company is to sneer at both sides -- indeed, at anyone who takes the current world situation seriously. They may be right that some of us are puppets, but they're wrong that all of us are fools, and dead wrong that it doesn't matter.


Really, Roger?

Were we watching the same film?

Sure, there were moments when the trigger happy "Team America" members went over the top, but you know, there was a certain "inanimate object" aspect to their "collateral damage" - the Eiffel Tower, the Sphinx...

But, were you out taking a p*** during the scene involving the terrorist bombing of the Panama Canal, Roger? Did you not notice how completely unfunny the movie suddenly became when those "dead" puppets were bobbing in the floodwaters?

Come to think of it, how did your review manage to omit mention of the left's cult-hero Michael Moore - a suicide bomber, inside Mount Rushmore? Certainly, that had to be one of the most politically charged "statements" of the film. Hans Blix, being torn to pieces in Kim Jong-il's shark tank - did you sleep through that or just close your eyes in horror?

Finally, the biggest hint of them all - how did it end, Roger? Who "saves the world" from destruction? Alex Baldwin? Sean "rivers of chocolate" Penn?

Team America is a funny, funny movie. The sex scenes would someday join those "moments in movie history" - if you could actually show them during a "moments in movie history" retrospective. This movie outragiously, gloriously slays all the sacred cows of the politically correct. Contrary to all prior warnings, I was never offended.

I left thinking that this movie was not at all what the reviewers would have you believe it is. It has one of the most deadly serious undercurrents of any "comedy" I've seen in a very long time. Maybe because of the absurdity, exaggeration and the bawdiness, that undercurrent is more easily avoided or overlooked, but for me, it was just driven home more starkly because of the contrast. Perhaps it's the fact that the stance taken by Parker and Stone - a vicious indictment of the left, of the entertainment industry and the cancer of anti-Americanism that infects and undermines the war on Islamic fascism - is so counter-Hollywood and so rare.

Go see this film.

(Don't take grandma.)

Posted by Kate McMillan on October 25, 2004 in Film | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Public Tender: Paving, Road to Hell Mile 1

The Ottawa Citizen today offers the following, The making of Canada's 'immigrant underclass':

"For the average male immigrant who came to this country in the 1970s, life was good. Within five years, his chances of being unemployed were lower than those of Canadian-born men. Within 10 years, his yearly earnings caught up to those of the typical Canadian.

But the past two decades have seen a dramatic reversal of fortune."


Let's key in on the gerund in the headline "The making..." Who made this "immigrant underclass?" It's our country, so hey, we did! Two decades, that's (wait, let me get out my calculator, 2*10...) 20 years. But look, Canada officially adopted its multicultural policy in 1971; that's 33 years.

Multiculturalism is basically government support for the notion that immigrants keep their culture when they come to Canada while at the same time assimilating into the mainstream. Though this seems somewhat contradictory, I think the intentions here are basically good. Immigrants keep in contact with members of a community from their homeland so they don't feel isolated and homesick, with the government giving them money to support any activities they might dream up. "Mainstream"--as it is sometimes called--middle class Canada does like the spicy foods at Heritage festivals and loves those colourful parades. So it's good for us, and it's good for them, this multicultural thing. Mainstream Canadians also know that to criticize official multiculturalism--no matter how pure your motives, even if your intention is to truly help immigrants assimilate--gets you quickly branded as a "racist", so let's not go there.

Back to the Citizen story:

Paradoxically, the deterioration of their economic conditions has occurred during a time when immigrants are coming to Canada with more academic credentials than any of their predecessors. The percentage of newly arrived immigrants with a university degree rose to 34.1 per cent in 2000 from 7.6 per cent in 1980...

Yes, that is curious, and it is a paradox.
There's no doubt immigrants have suffered economically in Canada during the past decade, [University of Toronto sociologist Monica] Boyd says. But it could be that immigrants clustered in Toronto and Vancouver compete against each other, limiting job opportunities, driving down wages and inflating real estate, essentially creating an artificial barrier to their own success.

So, according to Ms. Boyd, they are competing within their own communities. Sounds like multiculturalism to me, at one half of the equation, the part about keeping their identity and culture by maintaining contact with members of their own community.

In all seriousness, I don't know whether official multiculturalism has had any impact on this situation, but the timeline presented in this story certainly suggests that for most of its existence and up until the present day it hasn't helped. Perhaps everything was going along more or less fine. It wasn't perfect, but it was okay and people worked things out for themselves. Then, in 1971 the government got involved. Thirteen years after the bureaucrats jumped on board things started going downhill and that's the direction they are rolling today.

I dunno, whaddya say? Thanks for the good intentions, I guess.

Posted by Kevin Steel on October 25, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Spin the baby

Oh dear, oh dear. Canada's child care policies are failing, so says a report from the "Paris-based" "international" Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which seems to have slipped out the news of its findings simultaneously to Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail, and the Ottawa Citizen all at once. From The Globe:

"Canada's child-care system is a fragmented, money-wasting patchwork of programs that provides babysitting for working parents but disregards a growing body of global research that shows educating preschool minds provides lifelong dividends, says a new OECD report.

At a time when other industrialized countries are pouring money into early-education systems for children younger than formal school age, Canada is languishing in terms of quality and investment in education and care for children, the OECD says.

The report, to be released today by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, says the only province not faltering is Quebec."


Quebec, where of course they have a fully government-funded system. What a coincidence! Well, we can see where this is heading.
"And while Canada suffers a steep shortage of regulated child-care spaces -- enough for less than 20 per cent of children under 6 with working parents -- growing numbers of countries are putting in place publicly funded systems of early learning for all children. In the United Kingdom, 60 per cent of young children are in regulated care; in Denmark, 78 per cent."

(Oh yeah? What about Belgium?)
"The report calls on the federal and provincial governments to draft a coherent vision for a publicly funded, universal system of early-childhood learning and care, based on the latest social science, with hard and fast steps, benchmarks, time frames and budgets for putting into place a program in every province that would be the cornerstone of Canadian family policy."

Ack! We are failing our children! And the international community knows about it! Oh woe is me! says Average Joe Citizen.

Of course, what Average Joe does readily realize because it is not stated in these uncritical one-sided, pseudo-news stories, is how this report is produced and why. Who is the OECD? From their homepage:

The OECD groups 30 member countries sharing a commitment to democratic government and the market economy.

30 member countries. But for some reason they only studied 20 countries for this report. Market economy? Why are they telling us to spend more public money on government child care? Let us look at the OECD website [scroll down to "Who Does What"]:

"The secretariat in Paris carries out research and analysis at the request of the OECD’s 30 member countries."

In other words, the Canadian government--our Liberal Party leaders--helped fund this. How miraculous that the OECD would produce this study just when we are discussing one of Paul Martin's campaign promises, national daycare.

Who runs the secretariat in Paris? Why, none other than Donald J. Johnston, OECD Secretary-General. Who is he? Why, he is a former Canadian Liberal cabinet minister, a Trudeau Liberal as a matter of fact, being first elected in to Parliament in 1978, elected president of the Liberal Party of Canada in 1990, moving to Paris to assume his post in 1996. Here's his bio on the OECD site. I like that bit about the free trade thing [my italics], "His decision to leave politics was partly due to disagreement with his Party on his support for the Free Trade Agreement..." Partly? What was the other part?

To finish up The Globe story:

The report's recommendations to Canada include:
Increase funding to OECD levels (Canada now spends 0.2 per cent of GDP), with Ottawa and the provinces each paying 40 per cent of the cost and parents the remaining 20 per cent;
Integrate child care and kindergarten;
Improve the training and recruitment of workers.

So what we have here is a load of BS. National standards, Ottawa and provinces equal funding. Where have we seen this before? Oh yeah, health care, brought in by a Liberal government with the federal government supposed to pay 50% of the cost. Of course, the federal government will whittle back its share of funding, leaving the provinces holding the bag while retaining for themselves all the political glory as defenders of the system, until of course it fails.

"International study..." Piffle. I say this is just deliberately timed, Liberal Party propaganda.

Posted by Kevin Steel on October 25, 2004 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Numbers, please

Apparently Canadians are “scared stiff” that Bush might win the election. Personally, I’m a little fearlful that he won’t. Stories by the Ottawa Sun and Time itself about a Time/Ekos poll trumpet the “results” of a survey on Canadian opinion on the upcoming American election. The trouble is, neither story actually gives the numbers that supposedly form the basis of the screeching headlines. How can stories from two major news organizations report on a poll without actually giving the results of the poll? You tell me. But they have. I’d like to know what the breakdown between English Canada and Quebec is. I’d like to know what people in Alberta, Canada’s only officially sane province, thought. Can anybody point me to the numbers? Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t be surprised if Canada shows a heavily Mooricized opinion, given our ignorance of all things Republican, but I would like to see the devil in the details.
Occam’s Carbuncle

Posted by Alan Rockwell on October 25, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Press Review

From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR (where the articles are hotlinked).

US papers lead with news from Iraq, with the upcoming presidential and recent Afghanistan elections also receiving front page treatment.

In the UK, British troops heading to Basra and the execution of 49 Iraqi soldiers are front page news.

The French are dealing with a revolt in Tahiti, a gruesome murder suicide and a new book by the leading candidate to replace Jacques Chirac. Sheila Copps' is not faring as well.

The French are dealing with a revolt in Tahiti, a gruesome murder suicide and a new book by the leading candidate to replace Jacques Chirac. Sheila Copps' is not faring as well.

On the other hand, a new book by William Kaplan (to which yours truly contributed an Afterword) gets the lead review by Peter Desbarats in this month's Literary Review and prominent attention in the current issue of the Hill Times (here and here by subscription). And here's Paul Wells' review--freely available.

The New York Times’ editorial board weighs in on textile tariffs, and intelligence reform.

Zbigniew Brzezinski says neither of the candidates has an Iraq plan. William Safire says American-Arabs are voting for John Kerry and Jews should vote for Bush.

In the Wall Street Journal, Canadian-born professor Ruth Wisse describes what it’s like to be a Bushie at Harvard. John Fund writes about the ground war in politics.

The editorial board defends Pentagon official Doug Feith against Sen. Carl Levin’s accusations that he misled Congress on Iraq.

In the Washington Post, Sebastian Mallaby asks whether Kerry has an Iraq plan. Jackson Diehl poops on Putin.

The editorial board thanks the campaign fact checkers, including the Congressional Budget Office.

The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board weighs in on Gulf War Syndrome.

Ian Buruma says Americans are no longer loved around the world. Howard Husock and Abigail Thernstrom say there’s no such thing as a wasted vote.

At home, the parliamentary press gallery were partying with Ottawa pooh-bahs on Saturday, and we’ll soon see whether they or readers will win from the schmoozing. So far, it does not look good.

The Globe and Mail fronts Jane Taber’s puff piece on Albina Guarnieri--our superfluous Veterans Affairs minister--and a set up on today’s equalization meeting by new Ottawa bureau chief, Brian Laghi; one thing you can say in its favour is that the analysis is not in Chinese though, truth tell, there is a whiff of mandarin about it.

From Beijing, Geoff York has the real thing. Margaret Philp serves up a fine piece on a new OECD study panning Canadian child care.

Inside, Alan Freeman reports on the US campaign from Pennsylvania. The editorial board endorses John Kerry:

“George W. Bush is the worst president of the United States in recent history. On his watch, the country has gone from peace to war, surplus to deficit, economic boom to economic trouble. Asked Ronald Reagan's famous question — are you better off now than you were four years ago? — most Americans would have to answer no.”

In commentary, Lysiane Gagnon who, unlike Stephen Harper has actually been to Brussels and I'll bet has sampled the fine moules marinière, writes,

“There is no worse model than Belgium , a country where linguistic feuds have been fraught with extreme bitterness — to a point where the country had to be split into two completely unilingual regions…”

Bill Thorsell reaches into history and writes,

“Our wars are civil; theirs are civil wars. And so finally, we must admit, that their election next Tuesday is bound to be much more compelling than any of our own.”

Roy MacGregor is in Alberta and concludes,

“It is simply far too significant a province — both economically and politically — to treat as “a breed apart.” Far too important to be naively dismissed, as Klein himself once said, as “the Canadian equivalent of the Beverly Hillbillies.”

Bruce Little takes a close look at the jobs numbers and writes,

“Of the jobs existing in 1961, 19 per cent survived until 1999, 72 per cent were lost to plant closings and 9 per cent lost in plants that survived but downsized; in all, fading operations accounted for the disappearance of 81 per cent of the jobs.

Of the 1999 jobs, only 14 per cent had been there since 1961 (the 237,000 were a smaller share of the new, higher total), slightly more than 10 per cent were created in long-time plants that expanded employment and 76 per cent were in plants born during the four decades. All told, that's 86 per cent of the jobs that were new to the scene during that period. Put another way, the dynamic of renewal was responsible for almost nine of every 10 jobs available.”

Hugh Winsor writes,

“Ms. Copps's well-documented penchant for hyperbole and her enmity toward Mr. Martin have discredited even those observations that had a grain of verisimilitude, creating more, rather than fewer, obstacles to any political comeback.”

Even wonder where Buzz Hargrove gets the silly ideas he expounds in the National Post?

CAW economist Jim Stanford writes in today's Globe that John Kerry would be good for Canada ’s economy because most of his protectionist ire would be directed at China, which has squeezed many Canadian suppliers out of the US .

The Toronto Star fronts Stephen Truscott, Tim Harper on the US campaign from Florida, and a fight over who pays for OHIP.

Inside, Mitch Potter reports from Israel on the Gaza pullout. The editorial board revels in Ford’s Oakville investment, but pans the Senate for foot-dragging on protecting animals.

Carol Goar is onto welfare reform. Ian Urquhart is on the waterfront.

Concordia U president Frederick Lowy justifies the ban on Barak. Chantal Hébert craps on Copps.

The National Post, Ottawa Citizen and Montréal Gazette front the US election.

The Post also features Mohammed Elmasry and a Winnipeg transplant.

The Gaz fronts incest and Game 2 of the World Series—Go Sox, Go.

The Citizen has more on immigrant education, pregnancy complications in Africa and more bad news for our navy. Inside, the editorial board says of Air Canada,

“Ms. Dion is a great talent, but we'd gladly trade her for a few more inches of leg room”; another editorialist looks at the Noranda takeover:

“ China may still be ruled by an authoritarian and sometimes belligerent regime, but the Noranda deal -- like China 's membership in the WTO and its willingness to send peacekeepers to Haiti and Liberia -- suggests China wants to full integration into the globalized world. With all due caution, we must assume the odds are better that a prosperous, internationally engaged China will be a more peaceful China.”

Susan Riley writes about the First Ministers meeting on equalization:

“Martin is in the enviable position of having extra cash, but it will require more than money to fashion a compromise and preserve a flawed, but generous national program. It will require a statesman, not a headwaiter.”

Inside the Gaz, the editorial board is blowing hot air:

“with its promise to ease our dependence on polluting sources, wind power might well be worth paying for.” L.Ian Macdonald leaves yours truly confused about missile defence: “It's not rocket science. It's about determining the national interest, and exercising our political and territorial sovereignty.”

Inside the Post, Senator Serge Joyal writes of the health agreement and asymmetric federalism,

“Under the Meech Lake plan, there was at least a requirement to respect the national objectives of federal programs. In Charlottetown , there was recognition of the values articulated by Canada 's economic and social union. In the health agreement signed last month, by contrast, the provinces remain free to spend money on programs other than health (which is what Quebec will do this year) and are answerable only to their own voters. Citizens would have to take the matter up with their provincial government if they are dissatisfied with the result.”

George Jonas pans the ban on pit bulls. Nadeem Esmail of The Fraser Institute says the only way we’ll shorten waiting lists is through two-tier medicine, though he doesn’t use the t word.

Lorne Gunter does—or at least another one: “Unless and until official Ottawa can break free of the delusion that there is nothing especially worth defending in Western pluralism, it will never fully engage the terrorists.”

On the same subject, the editorial board opines: “However we choose to contribute to the war on terror and the stabilization of failed states, increased defence funding is merely a necessary -- and not a sufficient -- component. We also need a plan.”

Another editorialist looks at CBC’s coverage of the US election and finds it wanting: “Canadian viewers deserve balanced coverage from a network that is funded with their tax dollars. In the coming week, we expect the CBC to provide some.”


Posted by Norman Spector on October 25, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Carr's Dilemma

As Rick Hiebert pointed out, BC will face a referendum on whether to adopt a new Single Transferable Vote electoral system. While I don't have quite the extent of mistrust for STV as Rick, I have qualms over the system's inherent complexity and slowness, which I go into detail on my own blog.

But what I am thankful for is that the Citizens' Assembly did not support a Mixed-Member Proportional system, best described as tacking on proportionality onto the current system by giving extra seats to disadvantaged parties. The system usually gives party leaders and insiders even more control over who gets on the ballot, since voters essentially surrender their choice of whom in the party to be elected to the party itself. Local nominations give freedom to residents to choose who's best for them, while party-wide votes are likely to be dominated by internal politics and quota rules for women and racial minorities (for the Left, at least).

And so, with the weakening of central party control promised by STV, it is no surprised that Adriane Carr of the BC Greens has lashed out against the Citizens' Assembly's recommendation (via The Public Eye):
"STV is even more adversarial than the system we have now. It’s not truly proportional. It entrenches big vested parties. It’s rock bottom in terms of getting women elected. And it still leaves too many voters frustrated by their votes not counting," explains Carr. "It’s not much better than the system we have, taking us forward an inch when we need to go a mile," adds Carr.
Read again the complaints. The "adversarial" and "women" can be translated as: "you're not giving the parties enough power to control voter stupidity. They must be given enlightened, progressive choices!" Proportionality is overrated: why should a party that has a low first preference but is the second preference of a large population be denied a voice behind that of a party with a slightly larger first preference? And the "big vested parties" line is a pure lie, as anyone in Australia can attest: Aussie Senators are elected by STV, and the upper chamber is the only one with minor parties, including (cough) the Greens.

My theory is that Carr is pissed because a system that practically guarantees her own place in the Legislature (MMP) has been shot down by a system that demands that she gets some sort of local support somewhere (STV, barring any machinations Hiebert had described). Carr received 27% of the vote in her riding in 2001, which may not be enough when diluted with neighbouring rural ridings into a single STV riding. And, of course, there's the bruise to her ego, coming after her failed attempt to bring in MMP.

So now Carr is left in the uneasy position of being forced to campaign against a PR system, while begging Gordon Campbell to let her cover her butt and say that a "No" vote does not endorse the status quo. Oh the joy.

Posted by Kelvin on October 25, 2004 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

This guy obviously hates Canada

Winnipeg Sun columnist Rev. Harry Lehotsky says that sometimes when judges make rulings upholding the Charter of Rights, they ignore the reality of what's happening in the streets, especially when it comes to the rights of the accused. Obviously the state should send to the police to the door of this man of distinctly unCanadian views. Doesn't Rev. Lehotsky know that questioning the Charter is just not allowed.

Posted by Paul Tuns on October 25, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Canadians advertising support for Bush-Cheney

My parents returned from their annual trip to the United States to enjoy the autumn leaves and they brought me back a Bush-Cheney lawn sign and several Bush-Cheney bumper stickers. Does anyone think it safe for me to put these on my lawn and car here in north Toronto? Has anyone else seen a car with Canadian plates with such a sticker? My own count in Toronto is one car with a Bush-Cheney bumper sticker to about a dozen for Kerry.

Posted by Paul Tuns on October 25, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Announcement

We at the Western Standard are extremely pleased to bring you the following announcement:

Global Sunday Introduces Sparring Partners LeDrew and Levant in "The Final Round"

TORONTO, Oct. 21 /CNW/ - There's even more reason to watch Global Sunday, Canada's number one current affairs talk show.

The Global Television Network is pleased to announce that Stephen LeDrew and Ezra Levant are joining Global Sunday as regular political debaters in "The Final Round".

In the right corner, Ezra Levant, Conservative commentator and Publisher of Western Standard magazine.

In the left corner, Stephen LeDrew, Toronto lawyer and former President of the federal Liberal Party (1998-2003).

"This debate format is unlike anything on Canadian or American television. It brings a whole new interactive approach - each week viewers will get to decide who makes the better argument and lands the knockout punch," said Global Sunday host, Danielle Smith. "We are extremely delighted to add Ezra Levant and Stephen LeDrew to the success of Global Sunday."

The Final Round debuts on Global Sunday on October 24th.

(x) Global Sunday will be seen in Ontario (at) 2:30 pm ET on October 24th

(x) Global Sunday will be seen in Manitoba (at) 11:30 pm ET on October 24th

Standard Global Sunday Air times: (all times local)

5:00 pm Manitoba

5:30 pm B.C., Lethbridge, Saskatchewan, Atlantic

6:30 pm Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec, Ontario

Global Television is a CanWest MediaWorks Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of CanWest Global Communications Corp. (NYSE: CWG; TSX: CGS.S and CGS.A, www.CanWestglobal.com, https://www.canwestglobal.com , an international media company. CanWest is Canada's largest media company. In addition to owning the Global Television Network, CanWest is Canada's largest publisher of daily newspapers, and also owns, operates and/or holds substantial interests in conventional television, out-of-home advertising, specialty cable channels, Web sites and radio networks in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland.
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The Western Standard is a wholly independent bi-weekly newsmagazine based out of Calgary blah blah blah I have no future in public relations.
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Posted by Kevin Steel on October 24, 2004 in Western Standard | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Self-hating Constitutionalists

Linda Williamson in the Toronto Sun remarks on Stephen Harper's Belgium proposal with a note of world weariness:

"Is it just me, or are we having an '80s flashback?

Duran Duran has returned, the Canadian dollar is high again and fuel prices are higher. And--heaven help us--our politics is veering back into a constitutional quagmire."


The Belgium thing aside, it seems to be a Canada media article of faith that the public is sick of constitutional talks; they/we don't want the constitution re-opened. Let us never again discuss the constitution lest the hoi polloi yawn "Oh no, not that again!" Meech Lake... Charlottetown Accord... ARRGH! Not that swamp of ideas! Keep the status quo. Just leave the Constitution alone.

If there is truth to that article of faith, then it only demonstrates our rank civic ignorance and distain for how we are governed. In the debate about Canada's potential role in the war in Iraq, those who favoured joining the Americans--and so criticized our government--were mocked by those who opposed that participation as "self-hating Canadians." I would apply that term to those who groan whenever there is a suggestion constitutional talks being reopened. And only a short time ago, I could count myself as one.

Why? And why the change in me? Because I now see what is in front of my nose (must be the new bifocals). The constitution is already open. It’s always being tinkered with. It's open whenever we talk about health care. It's open when Paul Martin talks about sending federal dollars directly to municipalities. It's open when the Liberals talk about setting up their Big Babysitting Service (national child care). Every time the federal government dreams up a way to bribe Canadians with their own money and increase their bureaucratic power and interference in our lives by taking over a jurisdiction rightfully, constitutionally, given to the provinces, the constitution is open. It's open when the judges of the Supreme Court make up stuff out of whole clothe and stick a new concept into the Charter of Rights based on their political and personal prejudices.

Who looks after us when we get sick and how well they do it, the roads we drive on, who looks after our kids, what we can say and what we can't say. The Canadian Constitution is always being opened, folks, and our lives are being directly affected on a daily basis by the changes made to it. Let's admit it and let's stop our phony bitching and groaning and maybe take on a bit of responsibility for our country.

(Note: maybe it’s time for me to get cable TV again and let blessed football squelch my urge to write hectoring, nationalistic Sunday morning manifestos.)

Posted by Kevin Steel on October 24, 2004 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Press Review

From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR (where the articles are hotlinked).

US papers front the presidential campaign and Iraq (here's the latest), which also figures prominently in the British press.

Across the pond, Margaret Hassan, gambling and Tony Blair’s plans for a referendum on the EU constitution also receive front page treatment.

At home, the parliamentary press gallery was partying with politicians last night; we’ll soon see whether they or readers won.

From Moncton, La Presse Canadienne reports on why yours truly was not there.

(There are more explosive revelations than that in the book by William Kaplan. Who knows? After the media finish partying, you may read the juicier ones, possibly even in English.)

The New York Times’ Public Editor opens his mailbag on media bias. Washington Post Ombudsman Michael Getler says the press fell short in the lead-up to the Iraq war.

The Times’ editorial board wades in on electoral reform and counterfeit goods. (N.B. These are two separate editorials.)

Maureen Dowd writes about John Kerry--hunter, while Tom Friedman writes about Jews, Israel and America.

The Washington Post’s editorial board endorses John Kerry for President. Michael Kinsley writes about his wife’s tax bill, and the Wall Street Journal.

David Broder evaluates the two candidates. George Will writes about voter fraud.

Jim Hoagland sees progress in Iraq . Bob Woodward asks whether Kerry would have done things differently.

The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board comments on Miss America, electoral reform and education reform.

Christopher Hitchens and others comment on what’s going right in Iraq. David Gelernter writes that Bush makes him laugh but he’s voting for him anyway.

(Michael Kinsley’s Kerry piece is published in the West Coast Times, too, which is not surprising since he edits the page.

The Toronto Star fronts hockey, transit funding feuds (they’re pleased at least in Windsor) and the presidential campaign.

Jennifer Wells is onto Céline Dion. Olivia Ward serves up a feature on Israeli novelist Amos Oz.

Graham Fraser sat down with Keith Spicer, who’s back from Paris. Unlike Stephen Harper, he’s also been to Belgium and he pans it as a model for Canada.

Richard Gwyn says Harper has blown his credibility and we’re back to a one-party state. Sandro Contenta reports that Britain is winning the battle of the homeless.

The editorial board weighs in on BSE and wants the government to review the Noranda takeover.

Rick Anderson weighs in on the presidential campaign. Haroon Siddiqui tries to understand why George Bush is still in the race; I’d say he doesn’t quite make it.

Linda McQuaig thinks it was a good idea for Guardian readers to write to Americans about the election; talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

In CanWest land, the Edmonton Journal fronts the dangers of home blood pressure tests. Lorne Gunter reviews Margaret Wente.

The Calgary Herald fronts the upcoming election and more on how Alaskans deal with oil revenues. The editorial board writes,

“Stephen Harper's new strategy for Quebec , as outlined in a recent speech in Quebec City , is provocative, curious and risky all at once and in large part because of its similarity to earlier, misguided attempts by Brian Mulroney to appeal to that province.”

The Montréal Gazette fronts the US campaign. The Ottawa Citizen fronts a global contraceptive shortage and how one of our founding fathers fought the Fenians.

In the Toronto Sun, Peter Worthington muses about media spin by the military. Linda Williamson wades in on Harper’s Belgium, Ben Mulroney criticizes Copps.

Eric Margolis explains why the world dreads Bush. Bob MacDonald puts the kibosh on Kerry.

In Winnipeg, Tom Brodbeck poops on the child care lobby. In Calgary, Ted Byfield is onto the Chinese takeover, Licia Corbella the hate-preaching Vancouver sheikh.

From Ottawa, Greg Weston looks at the subs, Doug Fisher at Harper and at the press gallery. Bill Rogers has more poop on the press.

In Edmonton, Neil Waugh looks at oil prices, Paul Stanway says beware of Ottawa. Mindelle Jacobs is onto tobacco.

Posted by Norman Spector on October 24, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Reaping the whirlwind


Earlier today, a slim majority of B.C.'s Citizen's Assembly on Electoral Reform expressed a preference for a Single Transferable Vote (STV) system. The chairman of the assembly expressed the delegates' disappointment with our current first-past-the-post system on the grounds that many votes are "wasted".

The STV ballot system allows voters to rank all of the candidates in their riding in the order that they prefer them. If no candidate wins a majority on first choices alone (that is, winning in the same way one would win today), lower placing candidates are eliminated until second, third, fourth and fifth place preferences, from the ballots that picked them, select a winner.

Sound a little hard to understand? It was a little confusing in the 1952 B.C. provincial election when a similar system was used.

The Liberals and Conservatives, loathing each other enough to dissolve their electoral alliance, came up with the scheme. The plan was that anti-CCF voters amongst the Liberals and Conservatives would hold their nose and vote for the other party (Liberals for Conseravtives and Conservatives for Liberals) as their second choice. Their plan backfired, with the rise of the anti-CCF B.C. Social Credit Party, which won thousands of second choices.

Those complaining about the "democracy" of first-past-the-post should recall the election night results of B.C.'s first STV election. The socialist CCF was leading with the most first choice votes and a plurality, but not a majority, of the seats. In a first-past-the post system, they would have won the election. But, as second and third choices were distributed, the Socreds eked out a 19-18 lead in seats over the CCF.

W.A.C. Bennett formed a minority government. In 1953, another STV election gave the Socreds a majority. Before the next election, the Socreds returned B.C. to first-past-the-post.

In an STV election we could have several political situations that should dismay electoral reform advocates. I can imagine the NDP and Greens making a deal where the Greens don't run candidates in 10-20 ridings in order to force NDP voters to vote for Green leader Adrienne Carr because there is no NDP candidate in Carr's riding. Green voters, under such a deal, might be forced to vote Liberal if they really dislike the NDP candidate in their riding.

I recall the last French presidential election. France's electoral system holds a runoff between the top two candidates if no-one wins the election. The main left candidate Lionel Jospin, finished third, forcing left-leaning French voters to face a choice between the conservative Chirac and the extremist Le Pen, a nauseating choice for them. Not a STV ballot, true, but one can imagine some dismaying final results in some B.C. ridings that no one could have foreseen.

Do British Columbians really want to roll the dice when they vote in provincial elections? One would hope not.

Posted by Rick Hiebert on October 23, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack