The Shotgun Blog
Friday, December 31, 2004
Five Miles Of Hell
Dr Narsimhan gets back to his work, and I look up, where a helicoptor moves languidly across the sky. "That's the fifth one today," says a lady who is part of the doctor's team.
"They come and 'survey' the area,which is so pointless, because you cannot actually see the dead bodies from here amid this debris. It is just a show, to reassure themselves that they're on top of things. The army officers who come here, they refuse to even touch the bodies. They just hang around aimlessly."
And how are the NGOs handling the situation, I ask. "Oh, they are doing all the work,the government is doing nothing," she says. "But even they are competitive, trying hard to stake a claim to territory." I had noticed a similar tendency when I was on my way here, with many trucks adorned with banners proclaiming the name of the relief agency involved. The organisation I had chosen to travel with, Aid India, was an exception, though, working hard and sincerely to solve every problem that arose.
So why haven't the press written about this, I ask her. "The press," she snorts. "The journalists from the Hindu are all flying around with dignitaries. That is the kind of reporting they do."
The Mission of DART
With all of the talk about deploying DART or not I thought I would see what DART says about themselves and why they exist. The following is (selectively) taken from their website: (emphasis added and I suggest you read the whole thing)
The DART is a military organization designed to deploy rapidly anywhere in the world to crises ranging from natural disasters to complex humanitarian emergencies. The DART:
responds rapidly, in conjunction with national and regional governments and non-governmental agencies, to stabilize the primary effects of an emergency or disaster;
provides potable water and medical aid to help prevent the rapid onset of secondary effects of a disaster; and
gains time for the deployment of national and international humanitarian aid to facilitate long-term recovery in a disaster-struck community.
Comprising about 200 CF personnel ready to deploy quickly to conduct emergency relief operations for up to 40 days, the DART can bridge the gap until members of the international community arrive to provide long-term help. The DART is designed to deploy only to permissive environments — that is, locations where it will not encounter any organized resistance or threat.
Canada is an important provider of international humanitarian assistance and emergency relief. The creation of the DART enhanced the federal government's ability to meet both domestic and international requests for aid, and it demonstrates Canada's resolve to support disaster victims anywhere in the world.
The UN Springs To Action
The Diplomad has several good entries on the tsunami disaster relief, there's no point linking to a single one. Just read all the way down. This bit though, cuts to the chase - in response to criticism of the US by former British International Development Secretary Clare Short that "Only really the UN can do that job, It is the only body that has the moral authority.";
Do I really need to say anything more? "Only really the UN can do the job?" We have US C-130s flying in and out here dropping off heaps of supplies; US choppers arrive today; USAID is doing a knock-out job of marshalling and coordinating US and local resources to deliver real assistance to real people. The Aussies have planes and troops delivering stuff; even the Indians have goods on the way. The UN? Nowhere to be seen. OK, I'm not being fair. Last night they played host to a big "coordination" meeting of donors to announce that the UNDP has another large "assessment and coordination team" team arriving. Our USAID guys, who've been working 18-20 hrs/ day, came back furious from this meeting saying everybody would be dead if the delivery of aid waited for the UN to set up shop and begin "coordinating." The UN types are upset with the US, Ms. Short, dear, not because we're undermining them but because we're showing them up as totally inept.
Which reminds me - any word yet from our Canadian 12-member "reconnaissance team" ?
From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the articles are hotlinked.
The papers today again lead with the tsunamis. Indonesia —where the death toll could rise to 100,000—receives most of the attention.
Some papers emphasize the devastation, others the tales of survivors. Most go high with the local angle.
Several reports today focus on international aid and competition over which country is the most generous, or least stingy of them all.
At home, the Martin government is still scrambling to get on top of the situation. The Prime Minister, presumably red in the face, will arrive back in Ottawa from Morocco tomorrow.
Some of our compatriots in the nation’s capital have already moved on. NDP'ers want to be appointed to the Senate. The Governor-General is visiting our troops in Afghanistan.
In the UK, Tony Blair is refusing to convene the G-8. The Honours List has been published and the Tories have launched a pre-emptive strike.
Freedom of Information legislation comes into force tomorrow, and the Guardian knows the poop it’s after. The Financial Times is reporting some scary stuff about Prozac.
In France, parents will be able to choose their children’s’ family names as of tomorrow. What’s next in this crazy world?
There’s new hope for peace in Senegal, and Le Monde interviews a couple of gents who were released from Cuban prisons .
In the US, the Los Angeles Times fronts damaging information about a man who could be the next Chief Justice. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board endorses that man today. Yikes.
Another editorialist says the bloom is off terrorism, a third does the math and concludes that CEOs in the US are younger, more female and less Ivy League.
Columnist Daniel Henninger looks back at 2004. On the front page, the Journal reports on new US torture rules.
Below the fold, the New York Times fronts problems with social security in the US , and violent class-conflict in China
Inside, Canada ’s suspected mad cow is reported. The Montréal band Stars’ “Set Yourself on Fire” gets a rave review.
We learn that Artie Shaw passed away at the age of 94. You can listen to some of his tracks here, and here’s the L. A. Times report.
The Washington Post serves up the third and final instalment on terrorists and WMD—today, of the chemical variety. Our second suspected mad cow is stuffed.
The New York Times’ editorial board serves up its New Year’s resolutions.
The Washington Post’s editorial board poops on Pakistan ’s Pervez Musharraf and on George Bush, too.
US AID Administrator Robert Natsios weighs in on aid to the disaster areas. David Ignatius serves up headlines you’re guaranteed not to read in 2005.
The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board looks back at science in 2004, says Karl Rove was the man of the year and accuses Canada’s Intrawest of being at the peak of fakery.
Jonathan Chait pans the Administration for cuts in science funding.
The Toronto Star editorial board accords lawyer Martha McCarthy the laurel of the year for her work on same-sex marriage. Top darts go to the NHL disputants.
The paper fronts Kofi Annan admitting that relief efforts are falling short, Tamils fighting for their share and a local MP who was on the immigration hot seat last night.
Kelly Gillespie reports from Thailand. From Ottawa, Jim Travers lets the PM off the hook but otherwise writes the truth about the government’s pitiful performance this week.
And, if you read Haroon Sidiqqui, you’ll understand why much of Canada’s foreign policy is essentially domestic politics.
Speaking of the influence of Canada’s largest circulation daily, as regular readers of this press review will know, for some months I’ve been challenging the Star to produce a list of the 45 countries in which Gwynne Dyer’s articles are published.
Yesterday, it effectively conceded the point, though—like most Star readers--you probably missed it.
Normally, the Star tag line on his columns reads: “Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.”
Yesterday, the line was revised to indicate that his “articles are published in 45 papers worldwide.”
Since the Star has been misleading readers since 1999, you’d think they would have corrected the mistake.
I waited a day to see if they were late as they sometimes are, but they’ve issued neither a correction nor an apology to readers.
In fairness, the Star’s editors might not be responsible for the “burnished” qualifications they’ve published over the years.
A web search turns up several sites that contain “exaggerated” claims of the fecundity of Dyer’s punditry, including this Department of Foreign Affairs biography, to which visitors to his “only official website” are referred.
Elsewhere today, the Globe and Mail fronts the Canadian aid effort, a report from its stringer in Banda Aceh and Geoff York in Thailand.
The Globe also fronts some PR for the government on why DART was not dispatched. Inside, you’ll find a puff piece on how and why Bill Graham stepped up to the mike.
From the UN, Shawn McCarthy reports on US aid. Roy MacGregor is still in Saskatchewan. And the Globe wins the award for today’s most sophisticated correction.
The editorial board sees signs of hope for Mideast peace. Closer to home, it suggests Canada should strive to become the world’s most literate nation:
“A cultural change is needed to make it happen. Canadians need to say goodbye to reading mediocrity. Goodbye to third place on international reading tests, the ranking that this country's 15-year-olds achieved on the recently released 2003 OECD test. (Four other countries were roughly tied with Canada in third.) If third is a dismal result in ice hockey, it should be a dismal result in reading, too….By the thousands, children are playing hockey 10, 15, even 20 hours a week, including the interminable drives to and from the rink. When was the last time a child spent 20, 15 or even 10 hours in one week with books?”
The National Post editorial board accuses the government of dodging Parliament, and stuffs today’s top story, another Bob Fife doozie.
The paper fronts Canadians’ contributions outstripping the government’s, along with Robert Fulford’s long review of 2004, which is worth the price of the paper. Here’s a sample:
“Martin spent so much time abroad that his appearances in Ottawa began to feel like state visits….He was working within a Canadian cultural tradition founded by Lord Ronald in Stephen Leacock's Gertrude the Governess, the man who flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.
Stephen Harper proved one of the year's great surprises. In the election campaign many voters expressed the fear that he would be captured by the hard right; little did they know that he was on the way to being bent out of shape by the soggy middle….
In the United States…Republicans made it clear they considered the Democrats loose-living, divorce-prone liberals who couldn't be trusted with America's soul; Democrats pictured Republicans as war-lovers who were fighting in Iraq either on a whim or because they hoped to make money. The Republicans had the advantage of enthusiasm; they apparently loved their candidate, whereas Democrats tolerated theirs, in the mistaken belief that he could defeat George W. Bush, the object of virulent liberal hatred…
When Yasser Arafat died in Paris in November, politicians across the West took this news as a welcome occasion for a hypocritical display of mock sorrow. But among the Palestinians, who had been victimized for decades by Arafat's murderous irresponsibility, his death opened fresh possibilities for peace and maybe economic progress as well….
[Premier Danny] Williams, a visionary, plans to lead a province that will be simultaneously both a have and a have-not, a new phenomenon in Canadian history.”
Inside, Fulford dishes up another fine piece—this one on columnist Bill Safire, who’s retiring. Unfortunately, Sheila Copps is not:
“The year began with what could best be described as my very public mid-life crisis. …
It is akin to a life-altering loss: You experience the same stages of grief felt in a death or divorce.
First, denial. I could not believe this was happening. How could I be forced out of a seat in Parliament to which I had devoted more than two decades of my life?
That emotion was quickly replaced by anger. The anger grew, but it also allowed my creative juices to flow. I closeted myself in a room and applied the best tourniquet to a bleeding heart -- the written word.,,,
I drank from a full cup in politics and I wanted more. But when it was not to be, I started to experience another side of the life I had put on hold. For the first time, I could plan dinner parties and family gatherings knowing they would not be cancelled. I no longer spent almost every weekend at work. Almost 35 years after we hung up our shoes, I joined old basketball chums in a reunion. And I rediscovered a passion for sailing with my husband.
All this is to say that as we prepare for Auld Lang Syne tonight, there will be few tears shed on my part for what was, and much anticipation for what will be.”
Elsewhere in CanWest land, the Vancouver Sun fronts news that the mother of the boy mauled by dogs earlier this week is a convicted drug dealer.
Yours truly weighs in with some federal and provincial predictions for 2005.
The Calgary Herald fronts the suspected mad cow, which turns out to be an Alberta bovine.
The editorial board dishes up its views, as do the tall foreheads in Edmonton. As Yogi used to say, can't anyone back there play this game?
The Ottawa Citizen fronts Canada forgiving debts, safe cigarettes and unsafe birth-control pills, a story that’s stuffed in Montréal. The Gaz editorial board comments on new tax breaks for filmmakers.
Inside the Citizen, the editorial board plumps for fair cab fares. Susan Riley weighs in on Stephen Harper:
“If there was an annual award for tactical daring, Stephen Harper would be the winner in 2004. The opposition leader engineered a brazen, daylight robbery of the Conservative brand, stealing the venerable party of John A. Macdonald from under the noses of confused and dispirited Progressive Conservatives.
At the same time, he buried the still-young Reform Party so completely and unsentimentally that there has never been a proper wake -- much less the wailing and whining you would have expected from so independent-minded a bunch.
Now Harper is busy crafting an agenda for his new Conservative Party that will be close enough to the Liberal platform -- centrist, incremental and familiar -- to avoid exciting concern in central Canada, but will, ideally, appear fresher, younger and more honest. In keeping with Liberal tradition, it will be light on detail and heavy on talk about "values."…
For all his shrewdness and intelligence, Harper still inspires mistrust. His conversion to mainstream values, for instance, is hard to credit given the depth and conviction with which he has written and spoken in defence of right-wing economic ideas. And long-time observers say he has become more, not less, socially conservative in recent years.
But he certainly knows how to play the political game. We'll soon see whether Canadians are willing to play along.”
In the Toronto Sun, Peter Worthington says the US gets a bad rap on foreign aid; he needs an arithmetic refresher in percentages--say, of GDP. Linda Williamson awards this year’s Pammys.
Bob MacDonald pans Paul Martin disastrous disaster performance, and Michael Harris does the honours to the PM from Ottawa.
Quit sniping at Bush, Liberal MPs told
The National Post’s Robert Fife reports:
From the next edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR.
Speaking of the Star, as regular readers of this press review will know, for some months I’ve been challenging the paper to produce a list of the 45 countries in which Gwynne Dyer’s articles are published.
Yesterday, it effectively conceded the point, though—like most Star readers--you probably missed it.
Normally, the Star tag line on his columns reads:
“Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.”
Yesterday, the line was revised to indicate that his “articles are published in 45 papers worldwide.”
Since the Star has been misleading its readers since 1999, you’d think they would have corrected the mistake. I waited a day to see if they were late, but they’ve issued neither a correction nor an apology to readers.
In fairness, the Star’s editors might not be responsible for the “burnished” qualifications they’ve published over the years.
A web search turns up several sites that contain “exaggerated” claims of the fecundity of Dyer’s punditry, including this Department of Foreign Affairs biography, to which visitors to his “only official website” are referred.
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Strong and Free
...The excuse that deploying DART would cost money that could be better utilized by on-site national agencies is only partly true. The cost figures quoted, when government is trying to justify inaction, include things like salaries and other fixed costs that will be paid whether DART deploys or not. The real reason that we are in our now-customary role of dithering is much more fundamental. We simply can't get there from here, because that capability has been allowed to wither, and it would be another international embarrassment to show how weak we have really become.
On a positive note it looks like our governments (Federal and Provincial) are finally giving more significant amounts of money to aid in relief.
Truth And Its Consequences
Via James Joyner this preview of Donald Sensing's upcoming book, tentatively titled Truth and Its Consequences.
This war is in fact a religious war all around, even though we of the West generally shun the idea. Unquestionably, though, our Islamist enemies know it, as do hundreds of millions of other Muslims who have not taken up arms against us. Even Muslim voices who counsel peace to their brethren understand what the real religion of Western people is, often more than we.
In the last several hundred years the West evolved a distinctive answer of what is truth and what is its authority. In contrast, Islam's progress in that inquiry mostly stopped just as the West was shifting out of first gear. Until the last half-century, the divergence between the West's and Islam's theology and philosophy of truth was not a basis for contention. After World War II the divergence took on a character that unfortunately was much more adversarial than cooperative, and finally more violent than peaceful.
This history, later coupled with cheap technology, worldwide communications and increasing globalization of economies and politics, butted headlong into Islamic societies that were ruthlessly patriarchal, theocratic, tribal and anti-democratic, all antithetical to what the West had become. After a four-hundred year hiatus, armed conflict between the West and a powerful strain of Islam broke out again.
This book is an historical, philosophical and religious exploration of how America and the West came into potentially catastrophic conflict with a prominent strain of Islam. For that topic, everyone, regardless of religion, creed or nationality is intensely interested in questions about truth and its authority. Like Pilate, both we and our present enemies realize that some answers are very threatening and that not all answers can be reconciled with one another. Unless we improve our understanding of the deep roots of the conflict and what is really at stake, we can't effectively discern what to do next.
Donald Sensing is a retired military officer and Methodist minister. Read more...
Infidels, Keep Right
And don't try to fool me with that Aspirin tablet religion, either.
hat tip - PUBLIUS
From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the articles are hotlinked.
Newspapers in the UK and France lead with international aid to areas hit by the tsunami.
The Financial Times of London reports on delays in Indonesia ’s Aceh province, along with doubts about Rosneft’s link with Gazprom.
The Washington Post also reports that aid distribution is painfully slow.
Below the fold, the Post fronts the second in its series on WMD and terrorism, and a wrap-up on spending in the presidential election.
The New York Times puts George Bush front and centre, off leads the Pentagon offering up big budget cuts and stuffs Canadian cattle.
The editorial board focuses on the face of grief, and says the US is indeed stingy.
Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher weighs in on Mideast peace. Frank Rich says while soldiers are dying, Washington is partying.
The Washington Post’s editorial board looks at Turkey in the EU. David Broder serves up his annual catalogue of goofs.
Jim Hoagland looks ahead to 2005. George Will looks back at welfare reform.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the death toll could reach 80,000 in Indonesia alone. Below the fold, the paper carries a report on Iraqis returning to Fallujah.
The editorial board is onto the need for clean water. Max Boot says the US must apply the lessons of Ukraine elsewhere. Bruce Babbitt says the Administration is killing wild salmon.
The Wall Street Journal reports that China may have a surplus, not a shortage of steel. The editorial board says the US economy is still the strongest in the world.
Peggy Noonan says the earthquake/tsunamis is the biggest story of 2004. Edward Jay Epstein tells the story of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen from the KGB’s point of view.
In France, the delinquency rate is down. Questions are being asked about the leading candidate to succeed Jacques Chirac—as reported yesterday, a recent visitor chez Paul Desmarais.
In the UK, women are being kept out of the top jobs, and credit cards have officially supplanted cash.
FOI legislation is about to take effect; Sir Humphrey would not be amused. And he’s not among the contenders for the True Brit award.
At home, the Prime Minister and key ministers are still away, but not for much longer. And wait until he sees what Judge Gomery has waiting for him--today's top story.
With the disaster and relief efforts topping the news, the Toronto Star fronts Susan Delacourt ’s report that Martin and his minions are “speeding” home.”
The National Post and the Official Opposition are much less charitable; the Globe and Mail stuffs the criticism and gives the PM a pass.
Canadian cattlepersons are celebrating yesterday’s news, perhaps prematurely; the CBC reports today that another suspected mad cow has been found.
Aside from panicking politicians, the Star fronts Martin Regg-Cohn in Sri Lanka and Kerry Gillespie in Thailand.
Inside, Robert Benzie chases last week’s Ottawa Citizen story about Dalton McGuinty’s travel plans. Gwynne Dyer is onto world government and the end of war.
Yesterday, the Star’s editorial board intoned that Paul Martin must learn to focus in 2005, which is just about when he’ll arrive back in Canada.
Today, they urge his government to support the winner in Ukraine, which seems rather obvious.
The Globe and Mail fronts Geoff York in Thailand, Canadian aid, new rules for immigrants from the devastated areas and a Vancouver family searching for missing relatives.
Inside, Roy MacGregor reports on education bridging Saskatchewan’s two solitudes.
The editorial board serves up a speech for Paul Martin on same-sex marriage; they appear to agree with yours truly (in today’s Le Devoir and in Monday’s Globe) that it’s a political—not a legal--decision:
“We could, using the notwithstanding clause of the Charter, say no. We could say to the courts: We simply do not believe you have got this right. You are out of step with what Canadians think and feel and believe.
But that wouldn't be true. Our conviction has grown as Canadians that there is only one right thing to do. That it is time to make the leap, difficult as it may be. That we should reach out to those who have been excluded during most of recorded history. That we understand the fortress of marriage will be stronger when we open its gates to those who profess so clearly and eloquently their wish to be part of it.”
Another editorialist weighs in on Canada ’s disaster relief:
“Prime Minister Paul Martin has been criticized undeservedly for not rushing back from his Morocco vacation to take charge of Canada 's response. He has shown that he is keeping well abreast of developments. The same cannot be said for Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew and International Development Minister Aileen Carroll, the two ministers responsible for co-ordinating Canada 's efforts in such humanitarian crises. Both of them were absent from their posts on holiday until they had their vacations cut short yesterday by Mr. Martin. They should have returned much sooner. Politicians need to be seen and heard often at times like these, particularly when so many Canadians have relatives or friends caught up in the catastrophe.
What the politicians need to make clear is that Ottawa is doing its part in the massive relief effort, both in terms of dollars and other resources. The government must also do its part to ensure that all the assistance ends up where it is most needed, that precious capital is not wasted and that there is no needless duplication of effort.
The rest is up to communities and individuals across the country, which have responded with customary generosity, digging deep into their own funds in this season of giving and good will.”
In commentary, Lawrence Martin opines on natural disasters:
“The Liberals were obviously stung by the criticism in the first two days that they were not doing enough in response to the tragedy. With everyone, including the Prime Minister, on holiday, they were caught off guard. The $4-million they were pledging was chicken feed given the enormity of the calamity — and given the fact that the government is sitting on a big surplus and can afford much more. That first response would have been a confirmation of what the critics have been saying all along about lamentable foreign-aid efforts.
The Third World is where Ottawa can make a difference. Calamities like this one serve to draw attention to the egregious disparities between the First World and the one that is deprived. While the opportunity is there, while the world is focused, advantage has to be taken.
If there were any justice, it would be the wealthiest countries that bore the brunt of nature's tragedies. Instead, it is always the other way around.”
In the Montréal Gazette, L. Ian MacDonald looks at Stephen Harper’s challenge in 2005:
“the first thing Harper has to do in the new year is control the agenda for his party's policy convention in March here in Montreal. And it comes back to the first lesson out of the campaign. If the headline out of the convention is a positive one of a centre-right party positioned as a government in waiting, the Conservatives will move to the next level. If the story line is of a party captured by the radical right, Harper will be doomed to a career-ending second defeat in the next election.
The next year will tell us a lot about Harper's capacity for growth, and his prospects for for becoming prime minister.”
In National Post commentary, Don Martin reviews 2004. John Weissenberger and George Koch weigh in on Alberta ’s liquor privatization:
“In the good old days before September, 1993, Calgary had 24 outlets to serve a population of more than 700,000…. Today Calgary has more than 225 liquor, wine or beer stores. Everything from strip mall vendors with walk-in beer coolers to swish oenophile boutiques with names like "Metrovino." Critics bemoan the poor selection in neighbourhood outlets, as if anyone expects a Mac's or 7-11 convenience store to offer the same line-up as a Safeway or A&P.”
Adam Radwanski says it’s been a disappointing year for three federal leaders:
“Messrs. Martin, Harper and Layton are all relatively novice leaders, which leaves open the possibility that what we saw in 2004 were just growing pains. For their sake, you have to hope so: If the next year is anything like the last one, each one may be looking for a new line of work sooner than he'd like.
If nothing else, at least they won't be entering 2005 with artificially high expectations.”
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
"Even If Required"
Reuters on the news conference by Bill Graham that already has our local radio news people crowing that Canada has pledged "more than the US" to tsunami relief:
Defence Minister Bill Graham, explaining why the ministers had not come home more quickly, told a news conference: "The scope of the tragedy, the scope of the damage that was done, took some time for us to absorb."
Not to anyone who knows how to spell "Drudge Report", Bill. Try it, sometime.
The government has faced repeated questions as to why it was not sending its Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), a 200- member military unit created precisely for this kind of emergency. Graham said it would cost C$15 million to C$20 million just to get it there and said it would not be able to arrive before next week even if required. He said the reconnaissance team leaving on Thursday for the region would determine if parts or all of the rapid response team were needed.
Graham: "This is an issue we look at in terms of whether it's appropriate, whether countries need it and whether or not it's worth moving it."
The Diplomad is is at the scene. Mercifully, Canada stayed outside his line of fire today. He begins by quoting a UN statement;
As the United Nations system moves into high gear to identify the immediate needs of the countries devastated by the South Asian tsunami that has reportedly claimed nearly 70,000 lives and affected millions more, initial actions have been tailored to help each of the worst-hit nations.
The UN site then goes on to list all the "donations" that the World Food Program and other UN agencies are making to alleviate the suffering.
OK. We'll make this short.
Let's start with the last citation, the one from the UN. I can tell you, dear readers, that I am temporarily working in one of the countries that got slammed hard by the tsunami and while the UN effort might be in high gear, it must have its parking brake on. No sign of that effort here! Lots of bureaucrats flying in and out, but that's about it.
And now to that Egeland character and the UN official site's claims. Notice to the UN: The USA is BY FAR the biggest donor to the UN system. We pay for about 25% of the whole operation, BUT when you look at operations like WFP or UNHCR, we cough up about 40%. That wheat and rice that the WFP is bragging about? It is almost all from the USA. Notice to Mr. Egeland: if taxpayers want to give more they can do so without having the government reach into their wallets. Ever hear of charities? The American people are BY FAR the biggest donors to private charities -- many of which are doing very fine work here in alleviating the suffering. Please note, they are actually on the ground, delivering goods and services, not flying about on first class tickets and holding press conferences in New York.
Now to that weird Post newspaper. Whom have you heard saying Bush is insensitive to the plight of the victims of this natural disaster? I haven't heard that here in ground zero. I doubt you've heard it anywhere but in the MSM.
Well, whaddaya know? The German Chancellor has cut short his vacation! Now that's gotta hurt a EUroweenie, huh? Giving up a day or two of the four or five or six months annual vacation EUrocrats get --boy that feeds and shelters a lot of people out here! They really appreciate it, Mr Chancellor! And those $4 million the ENTIRE EU has pledged, yeah, that'll do it! I'm sure it will be a big help when some of it gets here in about six months.
One more note about the USA. The amounts listed in the newspapers as donated by the USA greatly underestimate the true size of the donation we make. We are moving huge numbers of aircraft, ships, and personnel to help out. We have carriers and even a MEU on the move. And guess what? We don't charge the UN for that, and we don't include those enormous costs in any "pledging conferences." The only countries I see delivering goods and services where I am are the Aussies (who are terrific!) and us. The EU is only to be seen in press releases.
These lib-left people and their posturing make me sick . . . real folks are dying and the comfortable chattering lefties want little lip-biting gestures. I'll take a C-130 any day.
Primer on liberty
From today's edition of: NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the articles are hotlinked.
With the death toll rising and disease looming, papers around the world lead with the Asian tsunamis. A report from Indonesia indicates the eventual toll could reach 100,000 deaths.
A senior UN official has criticized “stingy” wealthy countries and wealthy governments are scrambling.
The UN is said to be preparing the “largest-ever” disaster relief appeal. President Bush’s vacation is noted in a Washington Post front-page story.
At home, too, the adequacy of relief efforts is being questioned, though not Prime Minister Martin’s absence.
Across the country, local survivors figure prominently in the coverage (here, here and here), as do new Canadians who lost relatives and the missing.
However, life goes on: Le Monde fronts the Egyptian fashion industry and editorializes on new international textile rules. The Wall Street Journal fronts an obesity boom, thanks to Arabs' preference for zaftig women.
The Los Angeles Times’ Column One follows a Lebanese jihadi to Iraq and back. The Viktor who won the Ukrainian election is reaching out to Russia.
In the UK, senior public servants are criticizing Tony Blair—no, he's not a ditherer, it's just that he spends too much time on the sofa. In-fighting within his Labour Party is also a worry.
Overseas investors are being warned away for tax reasons. Sikh violence that closed down a stage play continues to receive attention.
In France, 2004 was the year of Sarko, the man many believe will be the next President and who happens to be in Canada visiting you know whom.
The freelancers who nearly screwed up the release of the two French hostages in Iraq are being investigated.
In the US, The New York Times fronts below the fold, the latest shake-up at the CIA and, as does The Washington Post, the death of Susan Sontag.
(Here’s the Guardian’s obit, and here’s an appreciation in Le Devoir.)
The Post also fronts nuclear proliferation, and stuffs some scary stuff on the dirty bomb threat.
The New York Times’ editorial board weighs in on immigration reform.
Bill Safire serves up his 2005 predictions. Simon Winchester connects the dots of seismic events.
The Washington Post’s editorial board comments on international relief efforts. Robert J. Samuelson is onto the next economy.
In The Wall Street Journal, Claudia Rosett says forget about reform, the UN needs regime change. Nat Hentoff looks at Bob Dylan.
The Journal’s editorial board looks at another UN scandal—sex-for-food:
“Two years after the charges first surfaced, Kofi Annan has finally admitted that U.N. peacekeeping troops sexually abused war refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "I am really shocked by these accusations," the United Nations Secretary-General told reporters last week.
He shouldn't be. Allegations of sex crimes committed by U.N. staff and troops date back at least a decade and span operations on three continents, in places like Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cambodia. But rather than showing the kind of "zero tolerance" toward sexual crimes that Mr. Annan now promises, the U.N. has treated such instances with cavalier nonchalance. In Congo, some 150 cases are under investigation.”
A Globe and Mail reporter has arrived in Thailand, and the paper also fronts a round-up of wire service copy on the disaster.
Inside, Roy MacGregor is still in Saskatchewan, where aboriginals are staying and non-aboriginals aren’t. From Kyiv, Mark MacKinnon reports that Belarus is next.
Inside, too, the Globe chases a National Post story on three illegal immigrants who escaped from a detention centre and the grounding of Canada’s disaster relief team,
Globe reporters also catch up today with yesterday’s New York Times story on blogs and the Asian disaster, and the dog attack in BC that was front-page news in the Vancouver Sun.
The editorial board is enthusiastic about the Ukraine election, and says Canada needs a single securities regulator--presumably a few blocks away from its offices.
In commentary, General Lewis Mackenzie makes the case for missile defence; in the circumstances, he should have written his piece in Morocco or, failing that, in La Presse.
Marcus Gee weighs in on foreign aid:
“It has been 34 years since the United Nations urged its wealthiest members to devote the equivalent of 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product to foreign aid every year. Except for a small handful of generous countries ( Denmark , Norway , Sweden , the Netherlands and Luxembourg ), none has come close. In fact, many have gone backward. Canada , for one, spends 0.28 per cent of GDP, way down from its peak of 0.53 per cent in 1975-76. As Mr. Egeland had the temerity to note, “There are several donors who are less generous than before in a growing world economy.”
That is what makes the proportionate drop in aid so deplorable. It has happened against a background of ever-increasing wealth in the developed world. Overall, the world's rich donor countries are two and a half times more wealthy than they were in 1960. Yet their average aid donation per capita has barely budged, rising from $61 to $67 in inflation-adjusted terms.”
Trudeau-acolyte Martin Goldfarb poops on the current Prime Minister:
“After one year, Paul Martin's government seems to be floundering. It lacks clear direction. It has moved on health care with an approach akin to asymmetrical federalism — the same approach Canadians turned down with Meech Lake and the Charlottetown Accord. The Liberal Party has not endorsed such an approach. The government's strategy on health care is just one example of how it has moved forward without the consent of its grass roots. The question is: Who speaks for the Liberal Party?”
Konrad Yakabuski reports on an important visitor who's visit you’ve haven’t read much about elsewhere:
“Mr. Sarkozy's stay at Mr. Desmarais' massive Sagard estate — so big it's considered a pillar of the local economy — has the power elite in Montreal and Paris alike evergreen with envy. But it only confirms a universal truth: Whether your goal is 24 Sussex Dr. or the Élysée, you need to know Paul Desmarais.
This isn't news to Canadians. Prime Minister Paul Martin used to work for him. Mr. Desmarais and Jean Chrétien have grandkids in common. Brian Mulroney entered Mr. Desmarais' inner circle in the 1960s and remains a close friend.”
The Toronto Star fronts its reporter in Sri Lanka, and the paper has another in Thailand who reports on the fate of Canadian vacationers.
The paper puts a positive spin on our disaster relief team's efforts, or lack thereof. Leaders of Greater Toronto's East Indian community are unhappy with Canada ’s aid effort.
The editorial board says more disaster aid is required, and that Paul Martin needs to focus—presumably, after he returns from vacation.
The National Post fronts the tsunami and Chinese espionage in Canada .
In commentary, Peter Foster is onto Adam Smith. Laval economist Gérard Bélanger asks why Québec receives equalization:
“When used to measure poverty, the low revenue cut-offs indicate that in 1996, the poverty rate was 5.1 percentage points higher in Quebec than in Ontario ; when the market basket measure is used, however, the poverty rate is 1.7 percentage points higher in Ontario than in Quebec . For the year 2000, both measures indicate the rate of poverty is higher in Quebec than it is in Ontario : the low income cut-offs measure yields a difference of 4.6 percentage points, while the market basket measure shows a difference of 0.9 percentage point. Looked at this way, Quebec 's rate of low-income households is quite similar to that in Ontario.”
Robert Fulford remembers Susan Sontag:
“In 1982, she infuriated many fellow intellectuals with an abrupt about-face. After General Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law in Poland in December, 1981, Sontag suddenly turned violently against communism. At a rally in New York , she announced: "Communism is fascism -- successful fascism, if you will." She denounced American intellectuals for their genial tolerance of Soviet crimes and went so far as to say that in the previous three decades the Reader's Digest had published a more honest account of world affairs than The Nation, one of the leading American liberal magazines.
Having stepped out of line, she was excoriated by her traditional allies, who claimed her angry critique was simple-minded, a charge otherwise never made against her. A year or so later she told me she was planning a book on this incident, but the book never appeared. On the subject of totalitarianism that is ignored by liberals, Sontag fell silent.
The anger of her friends had put her in her place. She had learned that some opinions are too intolerable to be expressed, even by one of the great intellectual stars of her time.”
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Israel, in a smaller version of the U.S., sends out disaster relief teams even to countries that are hostile to it. Except, that is, when those hostile countries are so hostile they'd rather have their own people die than to accept help from Jews.
Susan Sontag - RIP
Laurence Simon has a devastatingly cruel - and apt - obituary for an outspoken apologist of terrorism.
The breast cancer cells that killed Susan Sontag were not cowards or an "evil" disease attacking an individual human being. No, they were the bravest of cells, attacking Susan from within at high risk to their own existence, uprising and resisting the constant bombardment from the so-called "brave" medical practicioners bathing her in radiation and chemotherapy. These so-called curatives were nothing more than genocidal technological campaigns waged against the livelihood of these innocent cancer cells, and these treatments slaughtered these cancer cells that had just as much a right to live and go about their business as any other of the cells in Susan's body.
(hat tip - OTB)
update - Michelle Malkin has more. It would serve some our outraged lefty friends to learn a little more about Susan "the white race is the cancer of human history" Sontag. The worst that can be said about Laurence Simon's sarcasm is that "she got as good as she gave".
SUV's Kill Thousands In SE Asia
It took them two days, but Greenpeace has found a way to tie the tsunami in Southeast Asia to global warming. You see, it's all about the mangrove swamps!
A creeping rise in sea levels tied to global warming, pollution and damage to coral reefs may make coastlines even more vulnerable to disasters like tsunamis or storms in future, experts said Monday.
Few coastal ecosystems are robust enough to withstand freak waves like the ones that slammed into Asian nations from Sri Lanka to Thailand Sunday, killing more than 22,000 people, after a subsea earthquake off Indonesia.
But global warming, poorly planned coastal development and other threats over which humans have some control are weakening natural defenses ranging from mangrove swamps to coral reefs that help keep the oceans at bay.
I notice that "human overpopulation" is seldom cited as a problem in the wake of such events. Even Greenpeace knows when an argument becomes an oxymoron.
"What Is Your Final Wish?"
Peter Jennings, Dan Rather and a US Marine were hiking through the Iraqi desert one day...
From today's edition of: NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the articles are hotlinked.
In Ukraine, the loser is not going gently without a fight, but today’s papers in the US, the UK and France again lead with the devastating tsunamis in Asia.
The Indonesian province of Aceh, where an entire town was wiped out, may have been the hardest hit.
Below the fold in the New York Times, life goes on in the US. Stuffed inside, you’ll find an article on refugee-claimants at the Canadian border. (Here it is in the Globe.)
In the UK, too, life goes on, with a record turnout at the Boxing Day fox-hunt. Tourists are returning home with tales of the tsunami.
Corporate governance in on the table as a result of a financial scam. Tony Blair has been questioned about his vacation in France chez a tobacco mogul.
Across the channel, 17 people died in an apartment-building explosion. There’ve been new developments in the rape trial of a pop star. The French, too, are celebrating the Orange Revolution.
In Iraq, the largest Sunni party announced it is boycotting the election, a story that runs below the fold in the Washington Post.
The Los Angeles Times fronts Osama bin Laden’s latest taped message, which called for a boycott and might have produced one.
The New York Times’ editorial board weighs in on the Ukraine election results, and on the extension of the Pacific’s tsunami-early warning system.
Sitting atop a major fault (I know the feeling), the Los Angeles Times’ editorial board is onto the earthquake and the tsunami, in addition to the Ukraine election. Robert Scheer looks at Guantanamo.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board says prosperity is the best defense against a tsunami. Brendan Miniter looks ahead to Bush’s second term.
At home, Canadian papers also lead with the tsunami, with special emphasis on the local angle.
Our disaster-relief team could not get off the ground, but Canadian commandos are on a pricey shopping-spree.
The Toronto Star has boots on the ground both in Ukraine and Sri Lanka, and also fronts the local angle to the tsunamis and stuffs another.
Susan Delacourt interviewed the departing US ambassador. Tom Walkom serves up a fine piece on shari’a tribunals.
The Globe and Mail fronts a re-write on the tsunami, Canadians dead and missing and Ukraine.
Mark MacKinnon reports from Eastern Ukraine. Roy MacGregor is still in Saskatoon and, incredibly enough, he’s found someone who moved there from California.
On second thought, why not? As the highway sign says, New York is big, but this is Biggar. And did you know, by the way, that Manhattan is in Ontario?
Inside the Globe, as you might expect, the letters page is filled with missives about this column about same-sex marriage published yesterday; in my humble estimation, the author is un-bloodied and still standing but, for the price of the paper, you can judge.
Runner-up on the letters page is negative reaction to William Thorsell’s campaign to have Brian Mulroney take over the UN; I guess the former Globe editor does not read the competition, or even the Globe’s editorials any more.
In commentary today, Ken Frankel and David Wippman weigh in on Paul Martin’s “responsibility to protect”:
“If by invoking the “responsibility to protect,” he means only that Canada should not intervene without UN sanction, then the Maple Leaf now affixed to the notion of a “responsibility to protect” may be just a fig leaf for inaction. But if he believes that the “responsibility to protect” should permit coalitions of the willing to intervene militarily even without a UN imprimatur, then he should tell us when and how Canada would join such coalitions, and with what consequences for the UN's traditional legal order.
The only certainty in Mr. Martin's pledge is that it will ring hollow unless he reinvests in Canada 's military capability. Without that, the world will know that Canada cannot assume its own share of the responsibility to protect that it is urging on others.”
Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray weighs in on same-sex marriage, which he’s elevated to a fundamental right; he must be reading a different Charter than the one I have in my office:
“I support the right of faith communities to choose not to marry people of the same sex (although I disagree with it). But our right to marry in a church or other faith community that believes in marrying gays is not only a “legitimate right,” it's a fundamental one. In Winnipeg and Toronto , the rainbow flags and other gay-positive statements outside places of worship inspire me. Gays and lesbians are being welcomed back into the faiths they grew up in. We're part of a growing number of Canadians rediscovering spiritual life. If Mr. Harper wants to “vigorously” protect religious freedom, will the Conservatives fight to protect those faith communities that are willing to marry gay and lesbian couples? Surely they also have rights.”
Former Ontario premier Bob Rae makes a (weak) case for subsidizing Bombardier; if the rationale is "everyone's doing it," why wouldn't we also drive down our wage rates to the levels in China?:
“The companies with which Bombardier competes worldwide are strongly supported by governments. The United States does it through its massive defence industry, by export supports, by local and state subsidies. The Europeans do the same, with a healthy overlay of state and Europe-wide measures on science and technology. So do Brazil, China, Russia, India.
The issue for Canadian governments is not a matter of philosophy. It is an intensely practical one — is this a game we want to play? If we do not, we have to accept the consequences. If we do, it's of course important to ensure that the public interest is protected. But the debate has centred on resentment toward Quebec or the naive assumption that if governments were to decide on a blanket no-support rule, the result would be a lean, competitive Canadian aerospace industry successfully weaned off an unhealthy reliance on the state. The latter theory is a fantasy. Without consistent government support we won't have an industry to speak of at all.”
The editorial board weighs in on the disaster, and inveighs against Cuba , where it ends up throwing a wet noodle:
“Canadians looking for a winter break should not necessarily avoid the island, as Americans are told to do. The U.S. embargo on trade, tourism and investment has been a failure. But Canadian visitors should at least be aware of the country's plight under Mr. Castro and go with their eyes open.”
The National Post and other CanWest papers front the tsunami. The Ottawa Citizen adds tightened security keeping fraudsters out of Canada, whom the Post stuffs.
The Montréal Gazette teases the bin Laden tape and begins a series on Canadians and the Holy Land. The editorial board weighs in on the tsunamis.
In commentary, L. Ian MacDonald says Paul Martin should show leadership, starting with explaining to Canadians why Québec deserves special arrangements under “asymmetrical federalism.”
I can’t wait to hear him to explain in Victoria how Montrealers’ cases of diabetes are distinct, but suspect I will have to, and for quite some time.
Inside the Calgary Herald, the editorial board would like to see fireworks in the Alberta legislature.
Tom Olsen explains why Stephen Harper is not returning Ralph Klein’s phone calls:
“Ralph's the knuckle dragger, Stephen's the thoughtful would-be statesman taking account of the collective desires of an entire nation.
The perception of hostility between the two works for Harper, and it's not something he'll attempt to defuse anytime soon.”
Inside the Post, the editorial board poops on Canadian disaster relief. Paul Kedrosky says the CRTC is a disaster.
David Frum is back onto the low Canadian birthrate; one explanation is the tax system:
“Canadian families in which one spouse focuses all his effort on work and the other dedicates herself to home pay dramatically higher taxes than equally situated families in which both parents work. The Fraser Institute notes that a married man supporting a wife and two children on $50,000 per year can expect to pay about $4,600 in federal taxes. A family in which two partners each earn $25,000 will pay only about $2,100. Equal income, double taxes.
Lower taxes are always good for families. But it's even more important that taxes be lowered in ways that stop punishing families in which the mother leaves the workforce to stay home and raise children, because it is those families that produce the most children.”
The editorial board says Ralph Klein has been all talk, no action on health care:
“By this point, Mr. Klein probably doesn't have time to remake the entire health care system. But it would not be too much to ask that, after all the noise he's made about reform during his time in the Premier's office, he get the ball rolling by increasing Albertans' medicare options.”
Inside the Citizen, we learn that Premier McGuinty is planning to see the world, Ottawa consumers are confident and the spooks are watching us.
The editorial board comments on the Asian disaster, and wants Premier Danny Williams to apologize; whoever wrote it hasn’t the foggiest understanding of politics on the Rock:
“If he does not put the Maple Leaf back where it belongs and apologize for this astonishingly offensive gimmick, the voters of Newfoundland and Labrador should take note.”
In the Toronto Sun, Peter Worthington weighs in on the Ukraine election, Salim Mansur is onto the UN oil-for-food scandal.
In Ottawa, Val Sears says Paul Martin should sign onto missile defence. In Calgary, Paul Jackson says Martin is in a muddle.
Monday, December 27, 2004
Here is a live video of the tsunami hitting Thailand.
From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the articles are hotlinked.
The devastating earthquake and tsunamis in Southeast Asia lead the news around the world. The Ukraine election also receives front-page attention.
The Washington Post had its man in the water and fronts a first-person account; it goes below the fold with a story about jet travel that will not bring back pleasant memories for Maher Arar.
The New York Timesman in Canada has been watching television in the Great White North and the paper stuffs his report on Québec’s “Les Bougon.”
In France, the homeless are digging in for another winter. Aside from Ukraine, Le Figaro looks at the Palestinian election.
Le Monde has some fun making fun of Belgium; Stephen Harper should read all about it.
In the UK, a Law Lord has mouthed off about the hunting ban. As of today, kids will be fined on the spot for vandalism. Brits are apathetic about religion.
Two more City-types have taken the fall over an investment scam. Tony Blair is being questioned about a vacation he did not report.
At home, Prime Minister Martin is away. He reported the vacation and it's been widely reported on.
Yesterday, the Star’s Graham Fraser defended Martin's meandering in Morocco, while John Crosbie pooped all over the PM.
Today, the papers are filled with wire copy. We learn, for example, that Paul Martin is CP’s newsmaker of the year.
This is not good news for the PM: It turns out that Sheila Fraser, the runner-up, again denied Martin an outright majority.
Back in the USA, the New York Times’ editorial board reflects on the earthquake. Bill Safire weighs in on Big Pharma. Anthony Cordesman wades in on winning in Iraq.
The Washington Post’s editorial board looks at the earthquake and at a shift in the Administration’s position on Darfur. Fred Hiatt looks at civil society in Iraq.
The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board took in “Hotel Rwanda” over the holidays and like it but it poops on the Administration’s new forestry rules.
Former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta weighs in on the responsibility to protect.
Alexander Cockburn lets us know what makes him really angry. Jonathan Turley says Clarence Thomas could be the next Chief Justice.
In The Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Rauch says US voters have rejected same-sex marriage and a cooling-off period is needed.
Pete Du Pont says 2004 was a good year for democrats. John Fund profiles Ukraine ’s new First Lady.
The editorial board has read the fine-print in California ’s stem-cell research initiative:
“The law, which passed with 59% of the vote and vocal support from Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, authorizes $3 billion in bonds to pay for new research and facilities. And even though the interest rate will double the ultimate cost over 10 years, backers of the initiative said that the money raised from the bonds won't cost the state anything for the first five.
Or so most Californians thought before a recent report in the San Francisco Chronicle noting that the Prop. 71 campaign misrepresented the measure in major ways. In fact, says the paper, "Interest payments will begin immediately, paid out of the bond money itself -- meaning that tens to hundreds of millions of `research' dollars must be used to pay debt service."
Moreover, the law says the research money doesn't even have to be spent on embryonic stem-cell studies. It can go to "other scientific and medical research and technologies" to be determined by the independent governing board. Topping things off is a provision that hamstrings Sacramento with respect to any changes. Prop. 71 can't be modified for three years, and then 70% of both Houses and the Governor must approve any tinkering.”
Here at home, the National Post editorial board says Donald Rumsfeld should resign. The Post's front page is all-tsunami.
The Ottawa Citizen fronts Ukraine and the tsunamis, including the Canadian angle, and follows up on the Afghan boy who had cardiac surgery in Toronto. Inside, Richard Foot begins a new series on privacy threats.
The Toronto Star fronts the tsunamis and the Toronto angle and has its European correspondent in Kyiv.
The Globe and Mail fronts the tsunamis, a Canadian survivor, Ukraine and Roy MacGregor on Saskatoon.
Inside the Globe, William Thorsell says Kofi Annan should be replaced by Brian Mulroney as top man at the UN:
“His relationships with U.S. congressional leaders are personal and bipartisan, eclipsed only by his friendship with the Family Bush.
Here in Canada, Prime Minister Paul Martin is a political foe but proper friend of Mr. Mulroney, and ambitious for a new multilateralism in which Canada plays a significant role. (If Mr. Mulroney could appoint Stephen Lewis as Canada 's ambassador to the UN, can Paul Martin support Brian Mulroney as secretary-general?) The “scandals” that dogged Mr. Mulroney after his retirement as prime minister have collapsed under heaps of baseless accusations, and would not likely affect the broader landscape now.
The world needs a UN secretary-general who is more than a civil servant. In 2006 — or sooner — Mr. Mulroney remains a compelling candidate for the job.”
Ron Haggart weighs in on the Arar affair; I think that, in his anti-American diatribe, he minimizes the butt-protection going on in Ottawa:
“In pursuing its obligation to assure its people that the Maher Arar case can never happen again, Ottawa has only one logical choice. It must reveal every e-mail, every memo, every note of every phone call, every briefing, that put Maher Arar on the road to Syria.
This will greatly offend the Americans; the Bush administration might well thereafter ignore Canada. Given the record, that's not such a bad result.”
Yours truly demands to know why the hell Paul Martin is discriminating against all the adult women out there who would want to be his--or your--second wife. Or husband. And vice versa.
Inside the National Post, David Dodge is praised by business. Lorne Gunter wants the Gitmo 200 freed. Allan Gotlieb weighs in on choosing our next ambassador to Washington :
“If Mr. Martin were to depart from the long-standing tradition guiding our selection of ambassador to Washington , it would have a serious impact on morale in our foreign service. To remove such a post from the aspirations of foreign-service personnel is bound to affect the career choice of aspiring young Canadians….
As things stand, all indications are that the PM will appoint either Mr. McKenna or Mr. Peterson to the post. Both men are deservedly admired for their personality and abilities. But whomever Mr. Martin asks should bear certain things in mind. He should be prepared to work harder than at any time in his life. (Much of the real work begins after dark.) He should not be judgmental or allow personal political preferences to get in the way of improving the Canada-U.S. relationship. And he should be a problem solver, not a moralist. While he should strive to gain entry to the countless salons and social encounters where ideas are debated, he must, at the same time, be a lobbyist and advocate, perpetually on duty. He needs to develop an understanding of the U.S. political system that rivals that of the most learned experts. Not least of all, he should be prepared to be unpopular with the folks back home by telling them when the U.S. position is right and the Canadian one wrong.
And, oh yes, it would help if he liked Americans.”
Sunday, December 26, 2004
Polygamy is coming
Not that us lowly citizens will have any say in the matter, as with gay marriage this is an issue that will be strictly handled by our betters. So I bring this news from the UK merely to inform you what will be happening soon in our future. Second wives may get tax break:
THE Inland Revenue is considering recognising polygamy for some religious groups for tax purposes. Officials have agreed to examine “family friendly” representations from Muslims who take up to four wives under sharia, the laws derived from the Koran.
Existing rules allow only one wife for inheritance tax purposes. The Revenue has been asked to relax this so that a husband’s estate can be divided tax-free between several wives.
The move is bound to create controversy if it leads to a change in the rules. It is seen as a breakthrough by Muslim leaders who have been campaigning to incorporate sharia into British domestic law.
Once this type of precedent is established on one issue in one jurisdiction I have no doubt the precedent will be used to inexorably spread the normalization of polygamy until it, too, is read into the Charter of Rights.
These results, which are reported in La Presse but not in any English-language papers today, are consistent with previous results that have also been under-reported.
OTTAWA -- A new poll suggests same-sex marriage could have an effect on the next federal election.
Sun 26 Dec 2004
OTTAWA -- A new poll suggests same-sex marriage could have an effect on the next federal election.
Twenty per cent of Canadians surveyed by Decima Research say the views of their M-P's on the issue could sway how they vote.
The poll highlights deep divisions.
Thirty-nine per cent of respondents say they support gay marriage-- while 37 per cent are against it.
The rest are undecided or did not respond.
Opposition to same-sex weddings is higher among older voters and those in Atlantic Canada and the Prairie provinces....
The poll of just over one-thousand people is considered accurate within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Friday, December 24, 2004
Merry Christmas -- not Seasons Greetings
What on Earth does "Seasons Greetings" mean? Welcome to winter? We don't say "Happy Autumn" do we?
I now make it policy to correct people who say that to me -- 95% of whom say it reflexively, not because they're worried about wishing Merry Christmas to a Jew. They're just afraid to say Christmas lest they be condemned as intolerant. But, of course, it was Christian tolerance that opened up this Christian country to non-Christian immigrants in the first place. Surely the same courtesy ought to be extended by newcomers to Christians.
This year, an agent of Revenue Canada telephoned Calgary's bishop, Fred Henry, and threatened that if the priest dared to criticize the Liberal government's policies on moral issues, he'd risk having the church's charitable status removed -- and thus subjected to massive taxes. The prime minister's spokesman called the bishop a liar. Really? I know who I believe.
would result in an investigation or a resignation in a country still governed by the notion of political responsibility. In Canada, it generates a yawn.
Autopen da fe
There may be no sassier a writer than Ann Coulter. Her latest:
Since the attack of 9-11, we've won two wars, liberated millions of people from monstrous regimes, presided over one election in Afghanistan and are about to see elections in Iraq and among the Palestinian people. Focusing like a laser beam on the big picture, liberals are upset that, during this period, the secretary of defense used an autopen.
She revs up the right and appalls the left -- I'd call her a right wing Michael Moore, other than the fact that she actually does her research and isn't, uh, hygienically challenged.
From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the articles are hotlinked.
It’s Christmas Day tomorrow and our papers serve up Saturday papers today.
Canadian troops in Afghanistan will get a head start on the celebration. Jean Chrétien’s friends are getting out front on his sponsorships testimony.
In Central Canada, the weather sucks, but Toronto ’s Christmas will be white this year.
Montrealers, hardier folks who’ve never been known to call on the army to clear the snow, are taking it all in stride.
Ottawa, a town MPs have fled for their two—oops, seven—week Christmas break, also got a big dump. I won’t begin to tell you what it’s like out here.
In Newfoundland and Labrador—which has the worst weather in the country and a few other problems to boot--Premier Danny Millions had the Maple Leaf removed from provincial buildings. From away, came Paul Martin’s blast.
In the UK, new doubts are being raised about community care, after the latest stabbing. Cancer patients are being hit with a shortage of drugs.
Reports are surfacing about Special Branch involvement in the Omagh atrocity.
Other reports indicate that Tony Blair has the worst voting record of any modern British prime minister. The US is warning the EU about selling arms to China .
The French continue to celebrate the release of two hostages from Iraq. One is telling his story. Libération has gotten its hands on a UN report detailing human rights violations in Ivory Coast.
In the US, the Los Angeles Times’ editorial board admires a new French bridge. It and the New York Times lead with the President’s plans for judicial nominations.
New York off-leads Fallujah. The later deadline on the west coast catches Don Rumsfeld’s drop-in visit to the troops in Mosul.
The Washington Post leads with a blockbuster—Colin Powell warning George Bush and Tony Blair that more troops are needed in Iraq.
The New York Times’ editorial board pans the new prime minister of Kosovo.
The Washington Post’s editorial board looks at the US economy, and the Pinochet trial.
In the LA Times, Margaret Carlson says the film, “Hotel Rwanda,” should make people think about the genocide in Darfur .
In the Wall Street Journal, James Q. Wilson explains the strength of religion in the US. Daniel Henninger looks at charitable giving.
Here at home, the Toronto Star fronts philanthropy and a family tragedy. Inside, we learn that charity is genetic.
Jim Travers reviews Paul Martin’s year, and Ian Urquhart does the honours for Dalton McGuinty. Ombudsman Don Sellar makes the case against a press shield law.
Graham Fraser is onto Canadians going to Ukraine. Sandro Contenta is already in Kyiv. Mitch Potter is in Bethlehem.
The editorial board wishes readers Merry Christmas, as does yours truly in today's Vancouver Sun.
The Globe and Mail fronts the election in Ukraine and the Maple Leaf in Newfoundland.
Inside, John Ibbitson signs off on 2004:
“The year ahead will provide infinite opportunity for journalists to criticize, protest and blame. It's our job and we love it.
But remember this if you can: Despite it all, as we reach the end of 2004, we live in a mostly successful country in the best available world.”
Jeff Simpson also signs off, but looks ahead to next year:
“All of 2005 will be dominated, therefore, by efforts to monitor, cajole, entice, threaten and otherwise attempt to influence Iran 's behaviour, while outsiders and domestic reformers hope, perhaps against hope, that in due course the country's economic stagnation and stifling politics will embolden the citizenry to demand changes in the country's government.”
Margaret Wente signs off with some good news stories, but saves the personal for last:
“My husband: What a honey
This chronicle would not be complete without a mention of my husband, who recently took up the gentle art of beekeeping. After a disastrous start to the season (something about non-performing queens), he triumphed with a ninth-place finish in the fiercely fought honey competition at the Royal Winter Fair. He and his fellow drones will never be the same again. They beat out literally tens of entries from all over the province, and are now taking turns wearing their prize ribbon, which is a peculiar shade of orange. They're already plotting how to annihilate the competition next year. Maybe you think apiarists are rather sweet. But actually, they're ruthless.”
Rex Murphy is onto Paul Martin’s travels:
“Those who hold power in government during minority administrations have one task: to redefine their too-slender relationship with the voters. On the domestic front, Mr. Martin's initiatives are meagre, or forced upon him (Danny Williams and the offshore file) or potentially divisive (same-sex marriage).
All Mr. Martin's energy and creativity seems to be channelled to external causes. While some are worthy (Darfur), and others potentially of benefit ( Latin America ), and the latest mysterious (Mr. Gadhafi), they create the impression of a Prime Minister more at home away from home.
Yet, as his attendance at Mr. O'Brien's funeral signifies, there is a dimension to Paul Martin at once very appealing and grounded. If he is to face the new year, and the next session of the House, there will have to be some foregrounding of the appeal that is known to those close to him; they must tie whatever energy and creativity he possesses to an at-home agenda.”
Rick Salutin compares wars past and present:
“The U.S. went to war in Europe in the Second World War reluctantly, which is easier to appreciate now, in the light of their rush to war in Iraq . They hesitated for more than two years after war broke out, until Pearl Harbour when their reasons and goals were clear. They were welcomed in Britain , where they were based, and in the countries they helped liberate, which had all previously been invaded and occupied by a brutal foreign army. In Iraq , by contrast, the U.S. forced a war that no one was clamouring for, and fabricated claims to justify it. They are the sole significant occupier, no matter how you assess their motives.”
The National Post editorial board says Danny Williams has gone too far. Sheila Copps poops on shari’a tribunals, but the Ottawa Citizen's editorial board supports them.
In the Post, Bob Fulford pans Paul Martin:
“No matter how bizarre the events in Paul Martin's political life, he manages to make them sound ordinary. No matter what happens, he finds a way to convince us that nothing is happening. Our Prime Minister is a poet of the humdrum, a virtuoso of ennui. He apparently believes he should never say anything memorable -- because, after all, someone might remember it.
That's his style, and while it puts many of us to sleep it may be sound politics. Long ago it worked for Mackenzie King. It may work again.”
In the Calgary Sun, Link Byfield is still angling for a referendum on same-sex marriage; it just ain’t gonna happen.
In the Post, a collective of law students responds to yesterday’s missive by professors on same-sex marriage:
“It isn't Stephen Harper who is being dishonest with Canadians with regard to same-sex marriage, it is the self-selected constitutional "experts" who penned Thursday's letter. They shake their heads and wag their fingers, haughtily scolding Mr. Harper for "playing politics with the Supreme Court and the Charter." How absurd. The Charter is a political document, created by politicians, interpreted by judges appointed by politicians, who invariably base their judgments in part on the political landscape of the nation.
After so many years stuck in ivory towers, these "experts" might actually believe their own visions of the judiciary as a Higher Power untainted by politics, of the Supreme Court justices as Gods among men, of court opinions as gospel delivered from above. But these images are belied by the true nature of our democratic system of governance, our constitutional structure and the study and practice of constitutional law itself.”
We, The Undersigned
"The Maple Leaf is the flag of all Canadians including every single Newfoundlander and Labradorian. It should not be treated as a tool for partisan politics."Danny Williams Canadian Flag Petition is here.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
It is peace, not piece keeping
Home-made pornographic videos shot by a United Nations logistics expert in the Democratic Republic of Congo have sparked a sex scandal that threatens to become the UN’s Abu Ghraib.
...The prospect of the pornographic videos and photographs — now on sale in Congo — becoming public worries senior UN officials, who fear a UN version of the scandal at the American-run Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq. “It would be a pretty big problem for the UN if these pictures come out,” one senior official said. Investigations have already turned up 150 allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers and UN staff despite the UN’s official policy of “zero-tolerance”. One found 68 allegations of misconduct in the town of Bunia alone.
"The World Tonight"
I just found out that I'll be a guest for about 20 minutes on The World Tonight, this evening, on CHQR Calgary talk radio. (630 AM in Edmonton)
The interview is scheduled for 7:30 pm Alberta time, after they warm up my audience with an appearance by some guy named Glenn Reynolds. There's a live feed on the website. The topic is blogging, of course.
I'll try to get in a plug for my fellow Shotgunners, providing the comments below carry the appropriate level of congratulatory flattery. Or flatulent conflagration. Whatever.
From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the articles are hotlinked.
In France, the Socialist Party is digging in on the 35-hour work week and the governing UMP is still divided over Turkey.
However, most French eyes are still on the two hostages who’ve returned alive from Iraq.
In the UK, this year’s must have Christmas present is a goat. A high-profile woman lost a sex-harassment case and the government plans to do something about it.
Tony Blair is making progress on Mideast peace—today’s top international story.
A rise in asthma is being linked to household chemicals. Officials are busily shredding documents in preparation for FOI legislation.
In Europe, new details are emerging on the Yukos sale. Vladimir Putin is defending it.
In the US, the Democrats are considering a change in their abortion position.
However, US papers lead with news that a suicide bomber perpetrated yesterday’s Mosul attack. Most papers also front the Administration’s new forestry rules.
The New York Times reports that China is coming after Canada’s oil, and on the Canadian role in Iraq ’s elections.
The Washington Post reports the Chinese are in Sudan, too--and that it’s all about oil. Imagine.
The Los Angeles Times’ Column One reviews the woes of modern Santas—and it ain’t no easier in Canada, it seems.
The New York Times’ editorial board says the US is a piker on foreign aid.
Tom Friedman says the US may lose in Iraq. Maureen Dowd says Bush is beginning to tell the truth about the situation there, but has a long way to go.
The Washington Post’s editorial board says the US has committed war crimes. George Will poops on global warming.
The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board looks at the burden on US troops and conflicts of interest at the National Institutes of Health.
In the Wall Street Journal, Interim PM Ayad Allawi weighs in on Iraq’s elections. The editorial board dumps on Fidel Castro:
“It wasn't the Santa Clauses and candy canes decking the halls of the U.S. diplomatic office in Havana that prompted Fidel Castro to order the Christmas decorations dismantled there. It was the light display forming the number 75.
That's how many political dissidents Castro rounded up in March 2003 and threw into Cuban jails. At their trials, these librarians, journalists and peaceful political activists received sentences of up to 28 years. Now a loosely connected international movement of librarians is refusing to forget their Cuban colleagues.”
At home, the US ambassador says Canada should get tougher with his country--today’s top story.
However, the really big news today is that Canadian web-heads are more likely to search for Pamela Anderson and Avril Lavigne than the blog you are now reading. Hard to believe.
Yesterday, Todd Bertuzzi copped a plea. Premier Danny Millions walked out—again.
Christmas is coming to Canada and Christians are leaving the Mideast. Margaret Wente says there’s no place for shari’a law in Ontario.
The man who has a good chance to be the next President of France arrives in Québec today; three guesses on whom he’ll be visiting (you’ll need to scroll down).
Karlheinz Schreiber has been ordered to leave us; this could get interesting before it’s over.
The Ottawa Citizen reports that January 14 is decision day on whether there will be an NHL season; La Presse reports it’s all over but the death certificate.
The Toronto Star fronts Bertuzzi and changes to rent control in Ontario. Inside, Jim Travers says information is power in Ottawa.
The editorial board serves up confused ramblings about Iraq’s election, says yesterday was a sad day for hockey and that respectability killed Frank magazine.
The Globe and Mail also fronts Bertuzzi—with Roy MacGregor on the victim—and the Mosul attack, language politics in Ukraine and a Canadian family trying to recover a plundered art collection.
Geoff York reports from Beijing ’s Silk Alley. Barrie McKenna says Canada ’s G-7 membership is being questioned. From Kiev, Carolynne Wheeler reports the Canadians are coming.
Inside, Lawrence Martin is onto Canada’s defence spending; I read it three times and can’t figure out whether he thinks we should be spending more or not—though it’s clear he believes the US is spending too much and that we should not participate in missile defence.
Margaret Wente poops on shari’a tribunals:
“Pinch me, quick. What century is this, anyway? I thought the case against sharia courts was so obvious that this wretched idea would quickly expire. But I was wrong. This week a former NDP politician named Marion Boyd recommended that the province go ahead with them. She told us not to worry, because this is really all about “protecting choice.” And since Ms. Boyd has impeccable feminist credentials, Muslim courts must be a good thing for Muslim women.
Alia Hogben thinks not. She is president of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women. She thinks Ms. Boyd is being naive. Perhaps that's because Ms. Hogben knows a great deal more about Muslim women than Ms. Boyd does. “We're all for religious rights,” she says. “But we want a balance between religious rights and women's equality rights.”
John Ibbitson says the provinces are leading in electoral reform, and PEI is the leader of the pack:
“Premier Pat Binns announced that Islanders will vote in a referendum next November on another proposed form of mixed-member PR. If the answer is yes, the first election under the new system will occur as early as 2006.”
The editorial board weighs in on the Bertuzzi case:
“Mr. Bertuzzi harmed the game of hockey, but that is secondary. By his brutal act, he harmed another human being. Hockey is not beyond the law, and the Crown should have fought harder to make that point.”
Another editorialist supports Tony Blair’s Mideast conference, sans Israel:
“The international community cannot do much right now to solve the big disputes between Israel and the Palestinians about how and if a Palestinian state will emerge. What it can do, with aid, advice and expertise, is help the Palestinians get their act together. Onward to London.”
A third editorialist says Donald Rumsfeld’s credibility is shot and George Bush should fire him; imagine if the editorial board applied the same standards to our cabinet.
In CanWest land, the National Post fronts Bertuzzi and wins today’s award for best “clarification”:
“A story in Tuesday's National Post about a judge who apologized this week for falling asleep during a sentencing hearing failed to specify that he was Mr. Justice John Moore of the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench. The Post regrets any embarrassment to a judge of the same name who sits on the Ontario Court of Justice.”
In commentary, Terence Corcoran defends Judy Sgro and disses his paper’s coverage of the story.
A collective of law profs and lawyers who can predict the future with certainty write to Stephen Harper:
“If Parliament were to adopt your proposal and define marriage to exclude same sex couples, this legislation would very quickly end up in court, and be struck down as unconstitutional. However, the Charter allows Parliament to have the last word on many issues of fundamental rights, through the notwithstanding clause. Frankly, we do not think this is an appropriate case for the use of this extraordinary provision. However, if you believe that same-sex couples should be prohibited from getting married, you should propose legislative amendments that include a notwithstanding provision.
The fact that you want Parliament to enact clearly unconstitutional legislation and adopt the traditional definition of marriage without using the notwithstanding clause leads us to suspect that you are playing politics with the Supreme Court and the Charter. You should either invoke the use of the notwithstanding clause and justify this decision to Canadians, who overwhelmingly support their Charter, or concede that same-sex marriage is now part of Canada 's legal landscape.
If you intend to override Canadians' constitutional rights, you at least owe it to them to say this openly and directly. Canadians deserve better.”
The Ottawa Citizen fronts Mosul and Bertuzzi and the NHL season. The Calgary Herald editorial board says the NHL should get tough with Bertuzzi.
The tall foreheads at the Montréal Gazette say Ukraine is a beacon of hope. Don MacPherson sums up Jean Charest’s 2004:
“Politically, it was a lost year for the Liberals, one whose close sees them only slightly less unpopular than at its beginning - and one year closer to defeat in the next election.”
In the Calgary Herald, Don Martin’s column includes a grade left our of the version published in yesterday's National Post; I wonder why:
“Paul Martin: C+
First, the good news. The prime minister is a great guy. Compassionate, intellectually curious and seemingly incapable of holding a grudge, he's someone the average Canadian would probably enjoy spending a few cocktail hours with, particularly if he brings along charismatic wife Sheila. He's also a very good tourist, even if all his worldly travels deliver are photo-ops of him with reformed terrorists and off-handed musings about territories becoming provinces.
Now, the bad news. His leadership is vacuous, his policy drift aimless and his main accomplishment, the September health accord, merely a money-for-nothing peace treaty with the provinces. If anything, who you know in the PMO is more important today than it was two years ago under Jean Chretien. There is, to put it mildly, considerable room for improvement in 2005.”
Sanctions may be only way to sway Congress: Cellucci
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Economic Growth on PEI
For years the government of Prince Edward Island has attempted to encourage economic growth in the province by building facilities and/or giving money to businesses so that they'll move their operations to PEI. This policy has only wasted the taxpayer's money, as most companies bribed into coming to the province only stay until the government money runs out, usually moving to another province after a few years.
For the longest time I couldn't get over the stupidity of such a system, but it seemed most of the Atlantic provinces were doing it to one another, with the taxpayer losing out in the end. But the government of PEI may have finally come to their senses. They have decided to reduce the risk to the taxpayer by rewarding established and successful businesses with tax breaks and incentives, instead of paying them in advance.
Instead of paying cold hard cash right out of the treasury, as before, the province decided to give up some future tax revenue instead. This way only successful businesses get rewarded; government money will not be sprinkled on just any dumbass idea now. Makes sense, don't you think?
My only question is, why did it take some long for the government to realize that it made sense to reward successful businesses only, instead of them all? A government can't decide for us whether a business will succeed or not, the marketplace dictates that, so PEI's decision to stand back and let the people decide looks like a good one.
crossposted to canadiancomment
The Lone Deranger
Oh, good. Our Supreme Court is being asked to hear an appeal by the Nova Scotia human rights commission as to whether the word "kemosabe" is illegally racist.
Avid followers of human rights commissions will already know that:
The board of inquiry spent one day looking at old Lone Ranger shows, eventually concluding that the term was never used in a derogatory way and that Tonto and the Lone Ranger treated each other with respect.
This being Canada, it's not enough that we've already spent millions taking this through to the Court of Appeal. Let's let the Supremes weigh in on this one.
Um, everybody knows it was just a TV show, right?
From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the articles are hotlinked.
The French are celebrating the liberation of two hostages in Iraq.
US papers lead with the deadly attack on their base in Mosul (here’s the only eye-witness account I could find), and front the resignations of the top dogs at Fannie Mae.
In the UK, violent Sikh drama critics take a back seat to Tony Blair's surprise cameo appearance in Baghdad yesterday.
Notwithstanding the mayhem that coincided with his visit, he’s predicting the elections will go ahead next month.
Meanwhile, a committee of MPs is predicting that British forces will be in Iraq ten more years. David Blunkett is in limbo after tabling of an independent report on nannygate.
The Financial Times reports Ministers will now re-think ways in which they can help constituents. Canadians, groomed on Jean Chrétien’s Auberge, will appreciate the question.
Speaking of which, there was a huge armed heist yesterday in Belfast. The Fonz is threatening to de-rail the sponsorship inquiry.
Also back home, Bill Graham was talking big bucks tough. Taxpayers will be getting a lump of coal, and RCM policepersons are angry about their pay increase.
In Ottawa, Montréal and Toronto, the deep freeze has snapped but another is on the way.
The Prime Minister is away--in Morocco--on a vacation that somehow morphed into a business trip.
With the cat away the mice can play--more than usual. The Justice Minister is playing foreign minister in the Mideast . Who thinks up these “business” trips?
Back in the US, aside from Mosul , the New York Times serves up the latest on drug imports from Canada. (Here it is in the Globe.)
The editorial board weighs in on the situation in Iraq.Nicholas Kristof lists a number of issues on which the Right is right.
Bill Safire says he was wrong on how long it would take in Iraq , but the good guys are winning the wider war. (In The Wall Street Journal, the infamous Ahmed Chalabi weighs in on Iraq ’s elections.)
The Washington Post, which yesterday bought Bill Gates’ webzine Slate, has more poop today on prisoner abuse. The editorial board looks at baseball in Washington and the explosion in Mosul.
Jim Hoagland wades in on US-Russia relations, Robert Samuelson on the US economy.
The Los Angeles Times has the skinny on Michael Moore’s next target, and reports that a major US contractor is pulling out of Iraq.
The editorial board weighs in on the Bush-Putin relationship and the Mosul attack.
Former Guardian correspondent David Hirst says the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is the root of Arab anger, though he concedes that Saddam and Osama had other things on their mind.
In the Globe and Mail, Marcus Gee argues this is the oldest excuse for lack of reform in the Arab world:
“Part of their anger may spring from bitterness over the plight of the Palestinians. They may also feel angry at the policies of the United States . But in a democratic country, these feelings would have a natural outlet in politics. In countries that deny their people democratic expression, frustrate their material ambitions and deliberately whip up their anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment, they boil over. We all pay the price.”
The Globe and Mail fronts Mosul, a rescue on a reserve, yet another risky painkiller, our new international ski star and a hockey star who’s about to cop a plea.
Inside, we hear from the victim of the assault. And from an imam who’s issued a fatwa on a weekend conference at the SkyDome.
In Vancouver, Mark Hume misses the federal Liberal connection to the charges laid yesterday against three BC officials. (You'll find the poop here.)
In Jerusalem, Matthew Kalman interviews Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, who says our Charter of Rights can help solve the Mideast conflict.
Personally, I doubt same-sex marriage would go down well in that part of the world. As for same-sex divorce—today’s offering--he should fuggedahboutit in Faradis.
From Beijing, Geoff York reports our embassy is behind a new barrier. From Tripoli, Doug Saunders wraps up Paul Martin’s visit to Libya.
Jeff Simpson asks whether anyone is listening to the plateful of advice he dishes up today:
“In the global world of tomorrow, the winning countries will be those that put their policies and money into human capital development. That's why Canada should stop pouring money into its bottomless health-care system while its higher-education system remains underfinanced. That's why the country needs not more dawdling treaty negotiations with aboriginals, but a domestic Marshall Plan to develop their skills in the modern economy.
That's why businesses should be called on the carpet and asked why they do such a lousy job training employees. Let them improve their performance in this area, and then get corporate tax breaks.
That's why the unemployment insurance plan should contain provisions for employees who have paid into the plan to take courses to upgrade or change skill sets.
This is tomorrow's agenda, and immigration is central to it. The agenda is very, very far from the focus of the Martinites, let alone the apparently brain-dead Conservatives.
If Canada is to be among tomorrow's winning countries, a cities agenda — not a diluted “communities” agenda — should be about human capital development, not handing over federal cash without accountability to mayors and municipal councils.
Ottawa brings in the immigrants, then dumps their problems on the cities and school boards. Those problems ought to be Ottawa's urban focus.”
The editorial board weighs in on the Arar inquiry:
“Mr. Bindman's statement that the blacked-out passages are “injurious to national security and international relations” must also be weighed against Judge O'Connor's statement that some of the passages concern matters already on the public record, in newspaper articles or in other federal reports.
The Federal Court has been asked to do this weighing. If Judge O'Connor is right, the court should remind the government that protection of national security and relief from potential shaming are not the same thing. Mr. Arar deserves better from his country.”
Another editorialist weighs in on shari’a tribunals:
“It would be the worst form of prior restraint to bar Muslims from doing something everyone else can do, based on the actions of other Muslims for which they are in no way responsible. Because Ms. Boyd refused to do this to the Muslim community, Marilou McPhedran, a lawyer representing the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, called her naive and told her that she had betrayed women.
Nonsense. The trend in Ontario law is to encourage alternatives to solving disputes in the court.”
In Le Devoir, editorialist Josée Boileau gives the tribunals a scathing thumbs down, because of the potential impact on women. In the Toronto Sun, Peter Worthington slams shari’a.
The Toronto Star fronts Mosul , apartment rents and vacancies and patients being denied costly surgery.
Inside, Tom Walkom says the Arar Inquiry should be allowed to do its job. Graham Fraser reports on the mission to monitor the Ukrainian election.
The editorial board says Ontario is ignoring gambling addiction, which the Star has been writing about this week.
Another editorialist says “yes, with conditions” to shari’a tribunals.
Carol Goar sets up the review of Canada ’s anti-terrorism law. Richard Gwyn says most Canadians would go for France ’s civil unions over same-sex marriage.
(I agree; here’s the first of several columns I've written on that model, this one back in 2001.)
The National Post and Ottawa Citizen front Mosul and the risky painkiller.
The Citizen adds a muscular Bill Graham on defence. The editorial board weighs in on Walkerton.
The Post adds Québec’s liquor strike, which made the front page in Montréal yesterday.
Today, Greeks calling sex lines lead in the Gaz, and the editorial board pans Ottawa ’s performance in the strippergate affair.
The Edmonton Journal leads with Canada's new ski hero, a local boy. The editorial board is confused about our role in Iraq's election.
The Vancouver Sun leads with criminal charges against Liberal political aides. The editorial board poops on Pierre Pettigrew's stripper visas. The Times-Colonist plays the connection to federal Liberals higher up in the report.
Inside the Post, Peter Foster weighs in on Yukos. Honestreporting’s Dov Silver wants the CBC to give Neil MacDonald and his biases the boot.
David Frum says Canada has a low birth-rate problem.
The editorial board says Paul Martin should not be propping up Muammar Ghaddafi. Another editorialist dumps on the Walkerton plea bargain.
Inside the Citizen, Susan Riley chooses a subject I confess to knowing absolutely nothing about, so you’ll have to be the judge of whether she makes any sense:
“Our problem is that we have become so accustomed to dressing for someone else's climate that most of us don't think to ask what was wrong with fur, or wool, or goose down. They kept our ancestors alive. Unlike Gore-tex, they even kept them warm. True, they can be bulky and itchy, and a return to fur would not be good news for our four-legged friends. But ask yourself: If your car breaks down far from civilization (in the parking lot of the SuperLoblaws in Westboro, for example), would you rather have an old fur coat in the trunk or a nice bolt of "polar" fleece?
In fact, we have invented clothes that suit our climate: Sorel boots, Arctic parkas, goofy sheepskin hats with ear flaps, and snowmobile gloves the size of oven mitts. But we are loath to wear these homely items in our official lives, to the office, to social functions. We want to be warm, but we want to be cool more. And it has been decreed in foreign capitals that haystack hair, pillowy coats and boots the size of army tanks are not cool.
It is the survival of the hippest now, and we Canadians are determined to be hip -- or freeze to death trying.”
In the Calgary Sun, Licia Corbella says time is on Stephen Harper’s side, in Edmonton Paul Stanway defends Ralph but, in the National Post, Barry Cooper says Alberta ’s Premier is one of Stephen Harper’s problems:
“Two explanations have been offered for the Premier's strange provocations of the federal Tories. The first is that Stephen Harper has become a major problem for him. According to this view, criticism of Harper is payback for Harper having earlier signed the famous "firewall" letter, implicitly criticizing Klein's leadership. In addition, Klein's newly restored right-hand man Rod Love seemed to prefer Belinda Stronach to Harper during the leadership campaign. By this account it's entirely personal.
A second and less baroque explanation of why the Premier has been offering the Liberals aid and comfort is that in his mind there can be but one conservative spokesperson from Alberta , and it's him. Certainly over the past few years the Premier has developed the bad habit of making life difficult for federal Conservative leaders from Alberta. Just ask Joe, Preston and Stock.
Whatever the explanation, many Albertans have concluded it's time for Ralph to stop hurting his federal allies. There's room for more than one political leader from this province.”
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Get The Western Standard
I was going to post this anyway but I feel compelled to do after Colby Cosh criticized my mentioning of The American Spectator earlier. Adam Daifallah has been talking about building a conservative infrastructure in this country (including in The Western Standard). That needs to be done. But not everyone has millions to donate to that cause -- foundations, think tanks, publications, etc...
What can you do about the lack of a conservative infrastructure right now? Support what's already in place and that includes The Western Standard. Get a subscription for yourself if you don't already have one or as a gift. (What lady friend would want perfume or jewelry when she can get the gift that comes 25 times a year?) For just $75 + GST, you can support the premier un-hyphenated conservative publication in Canada; in other words, its a small investment in the conservative infrastructure. And as publisher Ezra Levant says, "It's a great way to help our country -- and the Western Standard! By buying a gift subscription for yourself or a family member or friend, you'll help spread the word about important news stories and opinions that don't normally get a voice in the media." You can subscribe by calling 1-866-520-5222, ext 244 or clicking here.
I hope this makes up for mentioning another magazine on this website -- and an American magazine at that. I was going to do it anyway because I think TWS is a phenomenal magazine; I devour it as soon as it gets into the house. I subscribe to a lot of magazines and it is one of only two I can say that about.
Paul Tuns is apparently ladling out high-octane cruelty for the Christmas season: the guy plugs The American Spectator's big holiday issue on the Standard's weblog (surely a faux pas to begin with), and he doesn't even find space to mention my two-page piece on Howard Stern right smack in the middle of the issue. What does a guy have to do...?
If you have room in your budget for a magazine that's not the Standard, the December/January TAS would be an excellent choice, not just because of the book recommendations and the delicious Colby Coshery, but also for Tom Bethell's superb pantsing of the Nobel committee and an excellent, wide-ranging interview with Tom Wolfe. Here endeth the inappropriate promo.
Books for Christmas
The American Spectator dead tree) has its annual Books for Christmas lists featuring conservatives (for the most part) advising various books to give to this Christmas season. Here is my list.
Michael Howard's War and the Liberal Conscience (Oxford, 1978). This short, excellent volume examines the delusions under which liberals operate when it comes to their thinking about war.
The Liberty Fund's three-volume set of Edmund Burke's work (1999). If you can't purchase the complete works of Burke, this will do nicely. (Vol. 1 - "Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents" and "The Two Speeches", Vol. 2 - "Reflections on the Revolution in France", Vol. 3 - "Letters on the Regicide Peace.") Liberty Fund also has a nice edition of "A Vindication of Natural Society" (1982) which every true conservative should read.
I return every couple of years to Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot (1953 and six editions since), a splendid intellecutal history of conservatism that demonstrates that there is more to conservatism than tax cuts.
Another fine book, which Robert Novak commends in TAS is Whittaker Chambers' Witness: An Autobiography (1952) which Novak describes as "a memoir, a spy story, and account of the epochal struggle between communism and freedom, between those who accept and those who reject God." I could not agree more with Novak who concludes that "Reading this book is an essential act for young people unfamiliar with the most important conflict in history."
Only two books from the past year come to mind that really stand out: William F. Buckley's literary autobiography Miles Gone By (which Milton Friedman said in TAS was a "resurrection of pieces published during more than half a century" -- I like that: resurrection) and John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge's The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America. Despite minor flaws, it is the most comprehensive history of the conservative movement and conservative politics by anyone outside the movement and it benefits from the disinterest of its authors. It also recognizes that conservatives had to win the battle of ideas before winning office was meaningful.
(Cross-posted at Sobering Thoughts)
From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the articles are hotlinked.
In France, casino workers are planning to strike. Yesterday's grisly murder investigation continues.
In the UK, Sikh violence has shut down a play. A national ID is coming to town. Private schools are getting a tax break.
The Brits had better get used to spending cuts. And they want David Blunkett back--despite the ID card and notwithstanding the philandering.
US papers lead with President Bush’s less-than-newsy news conference; Iraq dominates the headlines. (Here’s the transcript.)
The New York Times fronts more on prisoner abuse. The Washington Post fronts more bad news about painkillers.
The Post stuffs a new poll showing that, for the first time, a majority of Americans believe the Iraq war was a mistake.
And, through American eyes, the Post looks at Canada’s role in the Iraq election.
At home, most papers myth the Canadian role by a mile, with the notable exception of the Toronto Star, which serves up a realistic report.
In Ottawa, it’s freezing cold and the politicians are away for their two—oops seven—week Christmas break.
The Prime Minister has returned to sunnier climes from Newfoundland on what suddenly turned into a business trip. Was it the itty-bitty criticism about using the Challenger?
I’d be more concerned about that goofy photo in the Globe, which lacked only a career-ending football or banana.
Yesterday, yours truly received several nasty e-mails about a brief reference to the sighting of snowdrops in Victoria.
I want to assure a certain Globe columnist who can write like stink that MPs will be back at work before our annual flower count begins.
Back in the USA, the New York Times’ editorial board weighs in on the Pentagon’s intelligence designs, and Google’s latest intelligent idea.
David Brooks says George Bush has been right all along on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Washington Post’s editorial board poops on Bush for not pooping on Putin, and is unimpressed with its President’s social security ideas.
David Ignatius says Rummy’s being made a scapegoat. Fareed Zakaria sees signs of hope in the Arab world. E. J. Dionne Jr wades into the Christmas wars.
The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board adds its two cents on use of the C-word. Tariq Ramadan is onto being turned down for a visa.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board defends Rumsfeld. (Here’s the man himself.)
Brendan Miniter says US soldiers are doing the Lord’s work. Contributing editor Gary Kasparov slams Vladimir Putin and,
“Western leaders keep their mouths shut and Western banks keep their wallets open for Mr. Putin. Plans continue for a G-7 meeting in Moscow in 2006 that will transform the group into the G-8, something that will stand as an insult to democratic nations around the world. This meeting will be the final nail in the coffin of Russian democracy.
Those who think they can influence Mr. Putin's course by supporting him will see that accommodation won't be any more successful here than giving the Olympic Games to Berlin was in 1936. Treating dictators kindly doesn't soften a regime; it only makes it more arrogant and aggressive.
Perhaps Western leaders agree with last week's New York Times editorial that made the stunning assertion that "a fascist Russia is a much better thing than a Communist Russia." I hope I am allowed to order something not on that menu. I am not ready to throw up my hands and surrender to the Putin dictatorship. It is still possible to stand up to the dictator and to fight for democracy.”
The Toronto Star editorial board wraps Walkerton and the paper fronts Walkerton—along with shari’a law in Ontario and Canada’s far out role in Iraq.
In commentary, Tom Walkom rounds on Libya and on Canada continuing to cuddle up.
From Ottawa, Jim Travers says Frank McKenna will be our next ambassador to Washington . From the UN, Stephen Handleman says Canada is cooling on Kyoto.
The Globe and Mail also fronts Walkerton—along with Maher Arar, pain relief and BC pine beetles. See, it’s not all roses out here.
From Moscow, Mark MacKinnon reports on the Yukos takeover. From Washington, Paul Koring reports on Bush’s press conference.
Stephanie Nolen has the latest grim news on life and death in Africa.
In commentary, Margaret Wente says Paul Martin looked like a guy who had just had a colonoscopy; it gets worse:
“Unlike Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien, Mr. Martin lacks political instincts. Instead of street smarts, he has street dumbs. Maybe this is the result of being earmarked at an early age for high office instead of having to claw your way up. But what puzzles me is how he ever managed to run a successful company. Since he's been in charge, nothing much has gotten done. He reminds me of a boss I once had who used to make us go on long retreats so that we could think big thoughts about the future, when meantime the wheels were falling off the business.
Plenty of people wish Mr. Martin would forget about transformation and simply keep the wheels from falling off.”
Jeff Simpson, having given up on baseball, brings his analytical skills to the game of hockey:
“Everything the league is doing — from its negotiating strategy to fining owners — is designed to keep open the NLRB/replacement players/ bust-the-union option.
The owners know themselves — their greed, incompetence and past history. If they negotiated a deal with a strong union, they could not trust at least some of their members not to act as stupidly as they did after the 1994 agreement.
So the owners want an agreement that protects them from their own stupidity — and a weakened union. Or, preferably, both.
John Ibbitson weighs in on Walkerton:
“If the Koebels had done their jobs properly, or at least admitted their incompetence, many of the infections could have been prevented.
The Koebels weren't the only ones Judge O'Connor found responsible. Cutbacks to the Ministry of the Environment begun by the NDP government of Bob Rae and accelerated by the Conservative government of Mike Harris left the ministry hard-pressed to carry out its responsibilities.
Far worse, in its obsession to cut red tape, the Harris government refused to institute a rule requiring private labs to warn provincial officials of any tests that showed water contamination, even though Mr. Harris's own minister of health had personally pleaded for the regulation. For that reason, more than any other, the former Conservative government and its premier bear indirect responsibility for the calamity.
Mike Harris never recovered politically from Walkerton; a year later he announced he was leaving. A year after that, the Conservatives were gone too.
Now, finally, the state is finished with the Koebels. A year in jail. Nine months' house arrest.
Stan Koebel “is a man of moral fibre, and during that period of time there was a blip in it, but I don't think anyone would doubt that he's ethical,” his lawyer told reporters yesterday.
The editorial board supports putting Pinochet on trial, and says Bush should get tougher with Putin.
As to Canada, the board supports a role abroad for CSIS:
“we owe it to our allies to spend more on security — ours and theirs. However Canadians may feel about the policies of U.S. President George W. Bush, or the war in Iraq , Ottawa and Washington are close allies in the broader war on terror. Canada frequently shares intelligence with Washington and London . Information is the currency of the relationship, and Canada should not go begging.
Second, it's naive to think this country faces no serious direct foreign threats of its own. Many Canadians may like to differentiate themselves from Americans, but al-Qaeda makes no such distinctions. In a 2002 audiotape attributed to Osama bin Laden, the terrorist leader himself named Canada as a potential target of terrorist attacks. Forewarned is forearmed.
A broader role for CSIS, subject to the usual parliamentary oversights and constraints, would be good for Canada.”
The National Post fronts Bob Fife with the latest on strippergate--today's top story.
Bruce Garvey disses Macleans and Time for spotlighting Maher Arar and Chantal Peticlerc:
“They make an unlikely pair, but these two do have one thing in common and one that seems to be emerging as a prime consideration in the determination of these year-end tributes, and indeed in the very psyche of this country. Victimhood.
They are both victims. Ms. Petitclerc, of an unimaginably cruel disability. Mr. Arar, he claims, of a brutal imprisonment and torture for which he is seeking millions in compensation.”
Inside the Post, the editorial board seconds Garvey’s scepticism. Terence Corcoran is back on climate change. Don Martin grades Liberal cabinet ministers:
(ANNE MCLELLAN-A; DAVID EMERSON-A-; TONY VALERI-B+; BILL GRAHAM-B; JEAN LAPIERRE-B; IRWIN COTLER-B; REG ALCOCK-B-; KEN DRYDEN-C+; SCOTT BRISON-C+; etc.)
Elsewhere in CanWest land, the Montréal Gazette fronts a Québec show-biz mogul sentenced for sexually assaulting two minors.
The editorial board says blue-collar unions are getting away with blue murder.
The Ottawa Citizen stuffs the National Post’s strippers and fronts Maher Arar making more news--along with freezing cold weather and Canada ’s role in Iraq ’s election.
The Vancouver Sun fronts the Pickton trial. The Edmonton Journal serves up Ukrainian-Canadians thinking of returning to the mother country.
The editorial board wonders about Paul Martin in the Libyan tent.
In Windsor, a woman found two shivering beagles. In Victoria, a cat has been saved but I'm sure it was never cold.
The editorial board says MPs must have a say on aboriginal self-government. In Calgary, the editorial board says Ottawa is already mismanaging native affairs.
In the Toronto Sun, Peter Worthington weighs in on Walkerton. From Ottawa, Val Sears serves up an American who says our Supremes are better than theirs.
Monday, December 20, 2004
Arthur Chrenkoff, in today's Opinion Journal
The latest poll of 5,000 people in and around Baghdad suggests that an overwhelming majority are prepared to make a clean break with the past and pursue democracy--now. Some of the specific results:
What will you base your vote on?
Political agenda - 65%
Factional origin - 14%
Party Affiliation - 4%
National Background - 12%
Other reasons - 5%
Do you support dialog with the deposed Baathists?
Yes - 15%
No - 84%
Do not know - 1%
Do you support postponing the election?
Yes - 18%
No - 80%
Do not know - 2%
Do you think the elections will take place as scheduled?
Yes - 83%
No - 13%
Do not know - 4%
The long and detailed report is more than encouraging - it is a staggering indictment of a politically motivated mainstream media, intent on burying every sign of progress with "rising death tolls" (as if fatality statistics have the ability to drop) and "car bomb o'the day" coverage. There can be little remaining doubt that there is a determination to adhere to a "we told you so" agenda until the bitter end, even if it means taking an active hand in prophesy self-fulfillment.
I don't know which makes me angrier, as a Canadian - the prospect of seeing the day in which a free and democratic Iraq looks to my country and asks "Where were you when we needed you most?", or the sobering fact that there are substancial numbers of my fellow citizens who are not-so-secretly hoping they fail.
Accidentally, On Purpose
This must read from Wretchard.
Even with today's proliferation of compact photographic equipment, a legitimate photojournalist rarely gets the opportunity to capture an execution. Apart from the beheadings which are purposely recorded on video by the jihadis and from gun camera film, most footage of people actually being shot are taken by photographers in company with combatants who are ready to film an ambush. Those individuals are combat cameramen for their armies or embedded reporters. The most famous analogue to the Associated Press sequence of photographs is probably the Eddie Adams photo of the execution of Vietcong Captain Bay Lop by South Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan. Adams owed that opportunity to General Loan himself, who brought Adams along to cover what he believed to be a justifiable summary execution. Adams depressed the shutter at exactly the moment Loan fired and photo analysis actually shows the impact of the bullet on Bay Lop's skull.
It may have been pure luck, but it was surely the longest of odds that would have brought an Associated Press cameraman to the site of a surprise attack on two Iraqi electoral workers. As it was, the AP photograph was unable to capture the actual execution, only the moments shortly before and after the Iraqis were killed. Although the Eddie Adams photograph was widely used to illustrate the 'brutality' of the Saigon government, the photos taken by the Associated Press are unlikely to reflect badly on the electoral worker's killers. Press reports highlight the confidence and boldness of the insurgents. "Both of the victims shown in the sequence wore traditional Arab headscarfs. In contrast, the attackers were bareheaded and apparently unafraid to show their faces", suggesting that 'collaborators' must conceal their faces while the Ba'athists stride with impunity through the light of day. It was fortunate for the AP that their photographer was accidentally there.
A similar thing happened during the murder and desecration of the 4 contract workers in Fallujah. Though it was an Arab news outlet, the cameras were there and rolling. The ambush was carefully set up for media consumption.
They learned from the best. I don't know what was more outrageous - the admission by Eason Jordan that CNN had been functioning as the Western propoganda wing of Saddam Hussein's information ministry - or the mild mumble of disapproval that the rest of the MSM reacted with.
How long are we going to tolerate media outlets who accept invitations from terorist regimes and organizations, in order to capture a few drops of bloody propoganda on film? At what point do their actions cross the line from observer to participant? I can honestly say that I'd sleep better tonight knowing the AP photographer who panted along behind these thugs like an adrenaline-intoxicated puppy was behind bars under terrorist conspiracy or accessory to murder charges.
It's bad enough that news consumers have to do their own fact checking, and bring in their own document experts to verify the information being presented as "truth". Now we have to worry that the RPG triggerman who has selected our restaurant, our bus, our airplane for random anhilation has a goddamn AP cameraman in tow.
Bring on d'escapism, bring on da funk!
Who needs practical politics when you've got a naked, drug addled marionette passed out beside a toilet?
All part of my master plan to take as many of you with me as possible! Bwaaa haaaa haa!!
With friends like these
The idea that our Prime Minister feels the need to meet Muammar Gaddafi is strange at best. How PM Martin thought he could pull it off and not look the fool is even more strange. Somewhere in all of this I see a great attack ad (quotes courtesy the National Post):
...‘‘On a personal level, we have gained a quite personal friendship. We are friends not just because he is the Prime Minister of Canada but we shall always be friends, even if he is not the Prime Minister,’’ said Mr. Gaddafi, wrapped in a brown wool robe and wearing a traditional black Libyan cap. He said Canadians are ‘‘lucky’’ to have ‘‘His Excellency, the Prime Minister’’ as their leader. Mr. Gaddafi even joked about Mr. Martin leading a revolution someday just like he did.
‘‘Pretty soon I expect Canada to be a jamahiriya,’’ he said in reference to his own socialist revolutionary state.
...Mr. Martin called Mr. Gaddafi a ‘‘philosophical man with a sense of history’’
Or are Mr. Gaddafi's connections more important?
Mr. Martin said increasing trade is a ‘‘major encouragement’’ to sounder human rights in Libya. He said business ventures such as the $1-billion deal he witnessed yesterday between SNC-Lavalin of Montreal and the Libyan government to extend a pipeline in the Great Manmade River Project to bring water from the Sahara Desert to the populated coastal cities is good for both countries. It creates jobs in Canada and improves the quality of life in Libya.
End the "Mad Cow" madness
It's good to see this article by Iain Murray, a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. It is certainly useful for Canadians to lobby the U.S. government to open the border but seeing influential free market American think tanks taking up the position is much better:
On his first official visit to Canada, President Bush promised to end the madness: the United States' ban on Canadian beef. Such a move is long overdue. The ban has hurt producers and consumers in both countries -- for no public health gain. [...]
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has long -- and rightly -- argued that the border closure provides no economic or public health benefit. But the agency's efforts to reopen the border were frustrated by an adverse court decision that found USDA rushed through proposals to open the border without giving adequate response to public health and other issues. USDA can easily overcome the court's objections by quickly preparing a more detailed case for re-opening the border. [...]
The Bush administration needs to make good on its good intentions by hastening USDA's work. Every day of delay hurts cattle ranchers, consumers, and America's relations with Canada, its biggest trading partner. It's long past time to end the "mad cow" madness.
From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR, where the articles are hotlinked.
In France, there’s a shortage of psychiatrists in the public health system. A grisly double-murder in a hospital has shocked the nation.
In the UK, Sikhs stormed a controversial play. (In Vancouver, moderates are winning.)
Tony Blair's Government is bulling ahead with a national ID. Conservative MPs are revolting.
Tony Blair is accused of withholding legal advice. Brits are flocking from private to public pensions.
In the US, where President Bush wants to take pensions in the other direction, most papers lead with a very violent day in Iraq, which is front-page in The Independent in London.
In addition to Iraq, the New York Times off-leads the sale of Yukos to a mystery bidder, which is big news around the world.
Below the fold, the Washington Post goes with President Bush’s problems in Congress, the Los Angeles Times features unsustainable medicare.
The editorial board poops on missile defence, and sees parallels between social security reform and Bush’s build-up to the war in Iraq.
In the Wall Street Journal, Kenneth Cain says Kofi Annan should go because of genocide, not oil for food. Raja Mohan says Indians are celebrating Bush’s victory.
The editorial board urges the “U.S. [to] try again to get some foreign Islamic troops to help with security before, during and after the January 30 Iraq elections.” It suggests Pakistan, Indonesia and Turkey as the best bets.
The New York Times’ editorial board says the US election system must be improved, Turkey-EU talks speeded up and the judicial system stop harassing journalists.
In the Washington Post, Sebastian Mallaby looks at the morality of social security privatization. Jackson Diehl says democracy is being sidestepped in the Palestinian elections.
The editorial board pans China’s foreign policy, and US sub-contracting of prisoner detention to Saudi Arabia.
At home, a Canadian with first-hand experience of the Syrian subsidiary was chosen Time Magazine’s newsmaker of the year. The Man of the Year is an election-winner, George Bush.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister who won but didn’t win his election in June was off visiting Muammar Ghadaffi in Libya before heading to Morocco for a vacation.
The Globe and Mail’s Doug Saunders serves up a marvelous report on his midnight at the oasis.
Back home, Ottawa was in a deep-freeze. Here in Victoria, the snow-drops are already peeking out of the soil, but I hear it’s also very cold in Toronto and Montréal.
The Globe also fronts Mark MacKinnon in Moscow on the Yukos sale and more murders in Detroit —oops, Toronto. Lisa Priest reports that Canadians are shunning flu shots.
Someone will have to explain, though, why the iPod, which Paul Wells has been writing about in Macleans for at least a year, is front-page news in a with-it paper like the Globe.
Inside, from New York, Shawn McCarthy reports on aggressive Chinese multinationals. Hugh Winsor attended the Grits’ Christmas party:
“For certain, the mood was better than the mood at last year's gathering, held just a couple of days before the switchover of power and the swearing in of Mr. Martin and his cabinet. …But other than a perfunctory standing ovation when he concluded his remarks, there did not seem to be burning enthusiasm at this year's gathering for Mr. Martin and his government, either. Contrast that with the high expectations party members had for their Dauphin a year ago.
In many conversations in the corridors and at the bar, one dominant theme emerged: anxiety, and fear of another election any time soon. Most of the party-goers were the people who have to raise the funds and fight elections at the riding level. Overwhelmingly, they know they are not ready for another fight and they believe another election any time soon would produce similar results to the outcome of June 28, a recognition that their leader and his government have gone nowhere in the past six months. There is also a consensus the new electoral financing restrictions — Mr. Chrétien's parting gift — are hurting and they want them changed.”
Gordon Gibson says the Supreme Court should have answered the Government’s fourth question about same-sex marriage. Osgoode Hall’s Allan C. Hutchinson has long been a Charter sceptic, and he’s even more so today:
“The fact that the Supreme Court has accorded constitutional status to tobacco corporations and denied it to autistic children should cause everyone to question the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There can be no starker evidence that we have gone wildly astray in our efforts to protect and advance ordinary people's rights.”
CAW economist Jim Stanford says a minority Parliament is a great opportunity for fulfilling Labour’s Christmas wish-list, including public child care, union recognition rights, pension protection and fixing employment insurance.
The editorial board comments on nanny scandals in Canada, the US and the UK:
“Once upon a time, British prime minister Margaret Thatcher denounced Big Government as “the nanny state.” These days, it seems, the state and the nanny are as incompatible as oil and water.”
In a more serious vein, the editorial board weighs in on EU-Turkey negotiations:
“Admitting Turkey would send a message of inclusion not just to Turkey but to the whole Islamic world. If Turkey under EU guidance can become a fully democratic, modern country with an open economy and the rule of law, it will neatly refute the argument that “Western” democracy is unsuited to the Islamic world. As British Prime Minister Tony Blair put it, the decision to begin negotiations with Turkey shows “that those who believe there is a fundamental clash of civilizations between Christians and Muslims are actually wrong; that they can work together; that we can co-operate together.”
Turkey straddles the Dardanelles and the Bosporus, the straits separating Europe and Asia. As the only Muslim member of the EU, it could become a bridge between East and West. The EU was right to put hope before fear and invite Turkey to the table.”
The Toronto Star fronts a Canadian angle to the Iraq violence, Martin/Ghaddaffi and asks whether Vince Carter is a snitch. (Here’s the story, tab-style.)
Rosie’s back with a fine piece on marriage and there’s more on gambling to boot.
From Washington, Tim Harper reviews the candidates for the next Homeland Security Director. Carol Goar serves up a positive review of Paul Martin’s first year.
John Manley—remember him?--dishes up a fine piece on micro-credit. Ian Urquhart is on the Christmas card list of all three Ontario leaders.
The editorial board trashes Tasers and wants the Prime Minister to take on China, now that he’s straightened out Muammar Ghaddaffi on human rights.
The National Post and The Ottawa Citizen front a great lead on the Libya meeting:
“Sitting in a tent surrounded by camels and goats, Paul Martin found common ground with Muammar Gaddafi yesterday, celebrating the first anniversary of the Libyan strongman's renunciation of weapons of mass destruction.”
The Post also fronts, via the London Telly and an Israeli tabloid, George Bush promising Mideast peace by 2009.
A Canadian is a champion skier. And bus service in Iqualuit is kaput. Who would have known?
The Citizen adds to the front-page mix MPs being shut out of aboriginal self-government (as does the Vancouver Sun), and news that men prefer thin women who eat a lot. Women can be so illogical, don’t you think?
Inside the Post, George Jonas says they’re not gentler either. Buzz Hargrove trolls for Bombardier subsidies.
Charles Krauthammer’s says let Christmas be Christmas, which he said in the Washington Post last Friday. (Ezra Levant makes the same point in the Calgary Sun today.)
Lorne Gunter bids farewell to Kyoto. If you missed Saturday’s edition of this press review, check out Stéphane Dion’s explosive remarks about Kyoto in the Ottawa Citizen. While you’re there, check out Andrew Coyne’s column on a book mainstream media and journalists don't want you to know about.
(This weekend, yours truly has been fighting the good fight against a Cheryl Gallant clone who, in her words, thinks Canada is a half-assed country and that politics is about saving souls and does not give a god-damn about elections--here and here.)
The editorial board says Judy Sgro’s successor must clean up the Immigration department. The Citizen’s editorial board says Canada needs more nurses. Susan Riley weighs in on the new Stephen Harper:
“What if Harper isn't sincere -- does it matter? Yes, if he runs on a moderate agenda and wins, then sets about enacting a program that would make Mike Harris look milquetoast. Harper wouldn't be the first prime minister to take actions directly contrary to what he promised. Even though Harper is arguably the most ideological leader in recent history, he is behaving these days more like the despicable and successful pragmatists -- Brian Mulroney, Robert Bourassa, Jean Chretien -- for whom principles were an obstacle.
Harper is a shrewd tactician; he has already proven that. To win over Canadians, however, he needs to prove he has sincerely moderated his views. That will be a harder sell. He may end up courting enmity on the always fractious right, and not winning over one Quebec or Ontario vote. He doesn't look like a man who changes his mind.”
The Windsor Star fronts volunteers sacrificing for Ukraine democracy and Paul Martin in Libya. The Calgary Herald editorial board reminds Bombardier-booster David Emerson that he's a British Columbian. Their Vancouver counterparts tout a lottery to deal with the French immersion frenzy.
The Montréal Gazette stuffs Martin and the goats and fronts the sentencing of a media mogul on child sex charges, failed liquor negotiations and a spitting match among the powerful over the location of a proposed super-hospital. (Here’s Le Devoir’s editorial.)
Inside the Gaz, L. Ian MacDonald says Stephen Harper could win an election on same-sex marriage. The editorial board defends John Gomery:
“But who can pretend that this particular assertion from the judge was anything except painfully obvious? He might as well have said the sky is blue. The inquiry's real work is yet to come. It has already exposed the structural skeleton of a system which secretively short-circuited all the usual safeguards on federal spending, while maximizing political control. This is obviously a recipe for abuse.”
The problems of Canadian conservatives
From today's exchange with Kathy Shaidle--and from some of the comments it's generated on the Shotgun site--I conclude:
-some conservatives have contempt for Canada and Canadians or, as she put it, for this half-assed country.
-some conservatives believe it's more important to save souls than to win a god-damn election, also in her terms.
-some conservatives, who believe that any abortion equates to killing an "innocent person," do not understand the failure of their political tactics; specifically, they do not accept their partial responsibility--along with extreme pro-choicers--for the lack of any criminal sanction on abortion at any stage of a pregnancy in Canada.
-some conservatives--assuming that there's been at least one late-term abortion in Canada in this legislative vacuum--refuse to accept any moral responsibility for not having saved that one life.
I'll leave it to others with the appropriate qualifications to judge whether this harms a person's chances of getting into heaven.
As to the political implications, there's no doubt in my mind that social conservatives have a vital place at the conservative table.
Nor should anyone be expected to check any of their beliefs at the door.
That said, politics is about compromise; anyone who is not prepared to take half a loaf--no matter how important the issue to them--has effectively taken themselves out of practical politics.
Politics is about improving life in this world, particularly in our little corner, not about saving souls in the next.
Politics is about building coalitions with people of diverse origins and beliefs. In a democracy, they must be persuaded, which means changing public opinion.
Changing public opinion is very hard work. It's easy to understand why some might choose the easier path of escapism to another country's politics where things are easier for conservatives, or to considerations of another life.
I'm heartened from the exchange that not all Canadian conservatives--I hope the majority--have been infected with this political escapism.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
The problem with Canadian conservatism - A response
Ever since I read Richard A. Viguerie and David Franke's America's Right Turn: How Conservatives Used New and Alternative Media to Take Power this past summer I've been thinking a lot about why the Canadian conservative movement has failed to gain traction despite all of the work of the past decade. Although conservative parties have managed to raise their support each and every federal election, we seem to be no closer than we were a decade ago when Preston Manning was our saviour with the western-based Reform Party. We are not even defining the issues, sometimes more important then winning elections.
In the November 8 issue of The Western Standard Adam
Daifallah and Tasha Kheiriddin argued that one of the biggest things
holding back conservatism in Canada was a lack of money. Unlike the
U.S. (as America's Right Turn documented) we don't have the
same access to money. We only have a few think tanks and the wealthy
tend not to support conservative groups. Actually, their money is
chasing the Liberal Party.
At any rate, in a letter to Adam and Tasha I argued that the biggest
problem was really the lack of a grassroots -- a few key leaders among
the people who proselytized, did the ground work and threw themselves
completely in advancing the conservative cause. The people who served
as the hubs of their social and political circle, who motivated others
to get involved. Money was certainly important in the nascent modern
American conservative movement in the 1950s and 60s but I've always
felt that there was a pseudo-spontaneous rise of a new class of
conservative activists, ones who proselytized on behalf of the movement
without being directly tied to an organization or reliant on funding.
We have no similar class in this country and I don't see one arising
any time soon.
Sure, we have a bit of one on the web. The folks over at Free Dominion do a great job. The Western Standard
promises to carry the banner on newsstands. We have hundreds of
hard-core conservatives who email, post and dissect online. These
things are valuable but it's the flag waving in the real world that's
I guess it's almost chicken-egg. Do we need a thriving grassroots community before the money comes, or if the money is there the community will arise. I personally think it's the former but that's just my opinion. I was going to pitch this story to the wise crew of the magazine. If they're still interested in my thoughts I could formalize my wool gathering.
Dana attacks it from the third side of the
triangle -- policy and the lack of a clear agenda by our conservative
political representatives. The problem I have with this -- though I
agree with Dana in principle, we certainly do need a clear and
effective agenda we can harp on -- is that it assumes that a top
down approach is needed to move the conservative agenda forward. I
disagree as I maintain that we need a grassroots commitment -- the base
is more important than the elite -- to fight for conservative change. I
think a simple agenda is a good start, but it is nowhere near enough to
kick start Canadian conservatism.
We have to figure out a way to inspire our potential recruits to
serve as those hubs. Money is nice -- if our think tanks,
researchers, writers and activist groups weren't starved of resources
the job would be easier. A clear agenda is good for communicating with
the public, assuming they really listen in off-election years. The
grassroots, however, is the one that lights the fires in the brush.
Cross posted with some modification at ESR's Musings.
The Problem With Canadian Conservatism
There has been a long running debate over the last decade trying to explain and resolve the problem with conservatism here in Canada. Greg Staples has been trying to stir the debate. As has Mark Steyn.
As Mark and Greg point out, conservatives in Canada can't come to terms with each other and create an agenda. Preston Manning was able to do this. Deficit reductions are his legacy. He framed the debate and never relented until his goals were met.
Who plays this role in conservative circles today? I like Stephen Harper as a politician but he does not fill this role. I'm not sure if that is because of a choice he has made or otherwise. That is another debate though.
Canadian conservatism needs to define a small set of goals and harp on them constantly until they are met. Canadian conservatism does nothing but complain about... everything. I personally consider myself to be conservative and I'll be the first to admit that we do nothing but complain. Read through the postings here at The Shotgun or any of the other Canadian conservative/libertarian sites and there is nothing but complaining. There is no plan.
Conservative politicians refuse to define the agenda and because of this get clobbered in the press galleries. Conservatives have allowed themselves to be defined as the 'radicals' when it comes to the gay-marriage debate. How is this possible? Radical for preferring the status-quo? This is a failure of Canadian conservatives and no one else.
So what is my solution to all of this? Simple... define 3 or 4 issues that must be addressed based on conservative/libertarian principles. All else is off the table. End of freaking story. And what if the national media doesn't want to discuss these 3 or 4 issues? Then take them to the local media. If you have 80 conservative MPs discussing an issue on their local news broadcasts it won't be long before it becomes a national concern.
So what should these 3 or 4 issues be. Well naturally I've got those too:
1) Lower taxes for the middle class.
2) A parallel private health care system.
3) Regional control over resources.
Why did I pick these? I picked them because I personally feel very strongly about them. But as well, I think these issues can be clearly defined so that they appeal to individual voters.
Go into any coffee shop and discuss these issues with people and you'll see what I mean. Ask them about the tax take on their last paycheck. What do you think their response will be? Huh? Ask Maritimers what they think of the federal governments involvement in the fisheries? Albertans and oil? Prairie folks and their farms? What kind of response will you get?
Ask people what they think knowing that only Canada and Cuba allow a government monopoly over health care. The response? Come on, this is easy.
Conservatives of all stripes, both politicians and average folk, need to force these issues onto the national agenda. Writing letters to newspapers. Politicians giving press conferences. Getting the issues in the local paper.
A non-stop marketing blitz pushed by thousands. Liberals do it. The NDP do it as well.
So why can't conservatives?
Anyways, my choices for top issues are mine alone. The opinions of others may differ. Regardless, key issues must be defined and everyone will have to get behind this clunker and start pushing.
It's either that or we all continue to be stuck here.
Update @ 9:23pm
I was going to leave the post at that but I've decided I have a little project for everyone. That project is to select the three issues that should define the Canadian conservative agenda for the next couple of years. The rules to the game are simple:
1) The issue must not be a guaranteed loser.
2) The issue must not split conservative and libertarian opinion.
Two rules. That's it. NOW GET TO IT!
Update @ 10:04pm
Apparently Greg's post was in response to a big fuss here between Norman Spector and Kathy Straidle. Bob has the roundup here. It's amazing how much a person can miss by being 'off-line' for a few days.
crossposted at canadiancomment
In this corner...
I must say I am shocked by what is going on here. This whole debate of "political escapism" has gone to ridiculous extremes and if I contributed to it all with my post then all parties have my apologies. While I agree with Norman Spector that we could be more Canada-centric at the Shotgun this is out of line:
In the Montreal Gazette, Environment Minister Stephane Dion acknowledges that Kyoto makes no sense, is a lousy deal for Canada and he's looking for an alternative. You'd think Canadian conservatives would be all over this statement, but I've not seen any comments on the Shotgun site.
Kathy, perhaps it's your position on abortion that has taken you out of the Canadian political arena.
It would be great if you didn't try so so hard to take others with you. We need them here.
It is frustrating to me that you can be a pro-life NDPer, BQist or Liberal and not catch any slack from the CBC/Star et al, but it absolutely unacceptable to be a pro-life Conservative because that is somehow extreme. It is even more frustrating that descent on the issue is unacceptable to Mr. Spector on the Shotgun. If we can't have intelligent debate on the subject there, where can we?
This slanting of the so-con versus fisc-con debate brings Animal Farm to mind:
ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS
And just in case you forget how the book ends:
There was the same hearty cheering as before, and the mugs were emptied to the dregs. But as the animals outside gazed at the scene, it seemed to them that some strange thing was happening. What was it that had altered in the faces of the pigs? Clover's old dim eyes flitted from one face to another. Some of them had five chins, some had four, some had three. But what was it that seemed to be melting and changing? Then, the applause having come to an end, the company took up their cards and continued the game that had been interrupted, and the animals crept silently away.
But they had not gone twenty yards when they stopped short. An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously.
Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
This may be an exaggeration of the situation in Canada but that is how satire works. My concern, as with Mark Steyn as I posted before, if the CPC ditches the so-cons and moves sharply to the centre will any of us be able to tell the Conservatives and Liberals apart?
I guess to move this forward, can we answer the question I posed previously? What hills are we prepared to die on?
Cross-posted to PoliticalStaples
Top Media Scares of 2004
Courtesy of the really most sincerely NOT affiliated-with-America-in-any-way organziation, CanStats.
Man of the Year
Time magazine chose President George W. Bush as its Man of the Year. What I found interesting (for two reasons) is this line: "An ordinary politician tells swing voters what they want to hear; Bush invited them to vote for him because he refused to. " Reason #1) I am surprised that Time recognized this fact (albeit it fits the paragraph it leads which paints Bush as a paradoxical politician). Reason #2) I am sure there is a lesson for Canadian Conservatives and conservatives (read: Stephen Harper and certain elements of the The Shotgun) in there somewhere.
Connecting The Dots
Charles Johnson connects the dots and finds they lead from Saddam Hussein to who else?
LONDON (AFP) - Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is preparing a legal challenge in the United States to his trial for war crimes, a newspaper reports, citing leaked papers prepared by his defense team.
Clive Stafford Smith, a British human rights lawyer, has prepared a 50-page brief which contains advice to take the case to US courts to ensure he receives a fair trial, the Sunday Times reported after saying it had seen the document.
The action is to ensure that Saddam receives the basic legal rights given to those tried in the United States, such as full access to his defense team and an independent judge and jury, the newspaper said.
It said the leaked brief is entitled "The Iraqi Special Tribunal as Victors' Justice - the Inherent Illegality and Bias of the Whole Process."
Time's "Blog Of The Year"
From Time (on newstands tomorrow);
The story of how three amateur journalists working in a homegrown online medium challenged a network news legend and won has many, many game-changing angles to it. One of the strangest and most radical is that the key information in "The 61st Minute" came from Power Line's readers, not its ostensible writers. The Power Liners are quick, even eager, to point this out. "What this story shows more than anything is the power of the medium," Hinderaker says. "The world is full of smart people who have information about every imaginable topic, and until the Internet came along, there wasn't any practical way to put it together."
Now there is.
Congratulations to Powerline!