The Shotgun Blog
Friday, March 31, 2006
The Canada file returns!
It was a busy News of the Day north of the border:
More from the Canada file: Canada's Green Party calls for an investigation into Sujiatun and, if the worst fears about it are true, a possible Canadian boycott of the 2008 Games (Epoch Times). The new government is hinting about its plans for head tax apology and compensation (sixth, lead, second, second, second, and third items), and the non-Communist activists involved are very happy with what they see so far (Epoch Times). Meanwhile, Ric Dolphin (Western Standard) let loose this whopper on the democratic world and Communist China: "for western countries, it's in our interest to make nice." Where does one begin?
I must confess, I may have buried the lead (the head tax issue), in part because I wanted to wait until the specifics come out in the throne speech. So far, it appears the Liberal plan of sending one big check to the National Chinese Canadian Congress has been scrapped, for which I and many in the Chinese-Canadian community are very grateful.
* Suing Your Hospital? According to Tony Clement, Canada’s new Minister of Health, Canadians “stuck” on waiting lists under a proposed, but as yet undefined “framework” might be able, possibly, maybe, somehow, someday, to “take legal action.” Does he think we are idiots? Does he think anyone will sue to get money from a medical institution that cannot even give them medical care? Of course, we are idiots, by definition, for still believing that a socialized system can deliver the best of anything; for not seeing all along that government medicine is a political empowerment and vote-buying scheme floated via collective taxation without any price or profit-and-loss mechanism by which to discipline either providers or consumers, to control costs, or to distinguish true from false health needs. The system was doomed before it started three decades ago, because the real underlying “framework” is that in Canada, health care is seen strictly as a negative cost; all demands for service are seen as a drain on a fixed budget, and never as a positive investment in the consumers of health care and the technology and services they require.
* Pope Benedict XVI did just what a Pope ought to be doing when he spoke up in defense of marriage and the natural family yesterday. In this respect he is a beacon of light in the darkness formed by so many other religious groups huddling together in a collective absence of the plain courage to publicly defend marriage and the family as the fundamental basis of all human societies.
The ghost of poor John Stuart Mill was heard in the midst of this when Franco Grillini, a homosexual parliamentarian and member of Italy’s “Democrats of the Left” squeaked that “it is people who decide whether their relationships constitute a family.” Read between the lines. He is here claiming that society, the church, and the state have no right to define or control the institution of marriage. He believes that is a right reserved for “people.” By this he means that any two individuals should be able to define – and presumably also undefine - themselves as “a family.” The proper response is that the true and only defensible interest of the public and religious agencies in marriage and the family is precisely that marriage has always been defined and defended solely as an institution established for the creation and protection of children - future citizens. The tail should not wag the dog, and homosexuals who wish to “marry” their same-sex friends should butt out of an institution from the procreative potential and purpose of which they are forever barred. No one really cares if such people love each other and wish to live together, for any reason. But they have no right justified only by their personal desire, to re-organize society’s most fundamental procreative institution. Readers interested in further arguments on this topic should read the “A Declaration on Marriage” under “Essays” on this website.
* Women and Money. Egalitarians, with a boost from Statistics Canada, are all in a lather over the fact that women are “losing the battle of the sexes” in terms of their “earning power.” We are informed that too many of them – 67% - prefer the “pink ghetto” to the Boardroom, the same percentage as a decade ago, and the level of female managers (oh, the national shame of it!) has “dropped back” to where it was two decades ago. So we are said to be “losing the war for general equality.” In light of the higher numbers of educated women today, Statistics Canada is surprised by “the continuing stubborn wage gap,” and by the number of women still working in traditionally female jobs. Egads! More impenetrable national stupidity here. A little voice asks: what if women prefer the so-called pink ghetto? And anyway, who says women and men must crave the same jobs, and earn the same pay? Never-married women and never-married men in Canada have always earned about the same wages. Actually, the last time I investigated this ridiculous battle of the sexes, there were a couple of decades of life shown where never-married women earn more than never-married men. Fact is that the great majority of healthy women not already brain-washed by a materialistic commercial society do not crave money and job status. They do not want the Boardroom. They want a strong male earner in the bedroom. And from him they want healthy beautiful babies, a happy family, and a financially secure life. That is what they have craved since they were teenagers. Some of them get it. But far too few. Statistics Canada’s own figures on the earnings of never-married women show that what causes the so-called “wage-gap” is the natural female preference for marriage and children over commercial work outside the home. Mothers refuse jobs that are too demanding or switch to part-time work so they can fulfill their own ambition to raise their kids properly. Some cannot afford to turn down money, however, and it is a national scandal that millions of them have become wage-dupes of all the modern welfare states that so badly needs their tax dollars. Such states strive to keep as many men and women in the work-force as possible paying as much in taxes as possible so the state can take over life’s most meaningful functions such as child-rearing in government daycare centres, education in government schools, social-welfare needs in government housing and programs, and care of the sick in government-controlled hospitals and old-age homes. Don’t buy it. Fight back. Encourage every man you know to be a real man. Take a better job. Work harder. If the good wife loves working outside the home, fine. But if she is trapped there, then let's encourage husbands to go for a pay raise to get the mothers of their own children out of the work force and raising the kids at home. Shame on Statistics Canada for partaking in this number-juggling scam.
(Cross-posted from Burkean Canuck).
Roy Rempel's analysis of Canada's foreign policy, here, in The Globe and Mail, and here in his just released book, Dreamland: How Canada's Pretend Foreign Policy Has Undermined Sovereignty. (Full disclosure: Roy and I worked together -- for the same caucus -- on Parliament Hill, once upon a time). I like Roy's arguments better when he writes about foreign and defence policy. Frankly, I found his account of Parliament, The Chatter Box, a bit naive and indicative of a misunderstanding of how politics in our system does or doesn't work. But here he seems on more solid ground.
UPDATE: For more on "Dreamland," go to Burkean Canuck . . .
Thursday, March 30, 2006
It's time the American consumer entered the softwood lumber debate
Today, for the first time in their official roles, my President met (for most of you) your Prime Minister. Topping the subject list (or at least coming very close) was the softwood lumber dispute.
I may be wrong here (feel free to correct me if I am), but my guess is few Canadians (and very few east of Saskatchewan) are directly affected by the softwood lumber tariff. Westerners probably know a few who have been hurt by the damage to the Canadian lumber sector, but beyond that, this issue is a more a Rorshach test for feelings about my country than anything else. The irony of that is this: the overwhelming majority of victims (at least in population, if not in economic cost) of the American-imposed tariff are Americans, not Canadians.
I should know, I had to pay the lumber tax (all tariffs are taxes with fancy names, as most of you know already) when I purchased my home. I'll be paying it when we (finally) finish our basement. Millions of American homeowners have had to pay it.
Yet, for some reason, we have largely been absent from this debate. There are reasons for this: the free-trade constituency in America being largely Republican, the frostiness between Washington and Ottawa between 2001 and last February, and the biggest one - the focus of the American people on the War on Terror (whether in support or opposition over the Iraq file). What has surprised me, though, is the fact that, to date, no Canadian Prime Minister, as far as I know, has ever tried to bring the American people into this discussion.
Mr. Harper's tenure is still far too short to judge on this matter, but most political economists would likely disagree with me on the political value of reaching out to the American people. After all, one of the great axioms about trade protection is the notion of concentrated benefit and diffused cost, which in the political economy means the cohesive producers of the protected good will always win out over the more vastly spread-out consumers.
However, I think that's changing. The rise of the Internet has done more than merely make information readily accessible to so many. Much more importantly, it has also allowed for the creation of large communities spread out over vast distances. The fact that my words are here, on a medium owned by a magazine that serves a readership no less than 1,500 miles from where I sit, is a testament to that.
In election campaigns, the "blogosphere" has thus been able to have a profound impact, both down here and up there. Why can't the same be true for trade issues? A cluster of web sites can now ensure millions of Americans become aware of just how much they're paying above market value to enrich a federal government that already spends over $2.5 trillion a year. Homeowners from Seattle to Sarasota would be able to see, and via e-mail protest, this market distortion. The politics of trade need not be what it once was.
For all I know, Messrs. Harper and Bush will come to an agreement during this trip, but should it not come to pass, I recommend the Prime Minister take time out his first trip to America to address the lumber consumers and retailers here about the added cost from this tariff. President Bush's reluctance to adhere to inconvenient decisions from trans-national bodies is well known, but I don't think he can resist a groundswell from Americans who don't want to pay for lumber overpriced by government fiat.
Complete Non-Seq: Anyone interested in how Pope Benedict XVI's defense of Hong Kong democracy is giving me spiritual whiplash can go here.
Borders and Waldenbooks stores in the U.S. will not stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that provoked deadly protests among Muslims in several countries. Read full story here.
The problem with Islam
(Cross-posted from Burkean Canuck).
Freedom House's Paul Marshall, a political theorist, human rights expert, and author of Radical Islam's Rules: The Worldwide Spread of Extreme Sharia Law, suggests here the problem with Islam may not be Islam itself, but something else:
The Muslim world has a democratic deficit in that there are comparatively fewer free societies and democracies in that part of the world than elsewhere. However, if you look more closely, the major problem is in the Arab world, which comprises less than a quarter of the world’s Muslims. If you put the Arab part to one side, the rest of the Muslim world is close to the rest of the world. The world’s largest Muslim country [Indonesia] is a democracy, as is what may be the second largest Muslim country, Bangladesh. One could give other examples. In the modern age, Islam is certainly functionally compatible with representative government.
But is it an ethno-cultural problem? After all, Iran's Shia Muslims are mostly Persian, Nigeria's Muslim north is black African, the Afghans are mostly Pashtun, and there's the Bosnian and Chechen Muslims who each constitutes a distinct ethnicity.
So . . . ethnic?
It seems like a good time to go down Memory Lane
The Western Standard (on whose Shotgun blog I am fortunate enough to be a contributor) is being hauled before the Alberta Human Rights Commission for running the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. This reminded me of the deafening silence from the terrorists about the persecution of East Turkestan (long version, short version).
Meanwhile, the recent bruhaha over illegal immigration, Mexican flags, and guest worker programs called to mind how Communist China's flattening of the Mexican economy has added fuel to the inferno.
Cross-posted to the China e-Lobby
News of the Day
The United Nations on Iran - all bark and no bite:
Communist China gets UN Security Council to remove teeth from "statement" on Iran: The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to ask the Iranian regime "to suspend its uranium enrichment program within 30 days" (Washington Post). However, thanks to Communist China - a longtime supporter of the Iranian mullahcracy - the call was a "nonbinding statement" that has absolutely no teeth. Anne Bayefsky of the Hudson Institute has the details on the fiasco in National Review Online.
For more of the news, including more awareness of Sujiatun, look here.
Win one for the flipper
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, founded by Paul Watson, a Greenpeace co-founder and now full-time eco-activist, is taking credit for persuading Costco to remove seal-oil casules from its Canadian stores.
Costco is, however, still stocking meat in its food department and leather products in its clothing aisles.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
You may a see a picture like this in tomorrow morning's Globe and Mail. It a shot of Maurice Strong making introductory remarks at the opening plenary for the Globe 2006 conference in Vancouver at around 8:30 AM PST. One of the sponsors of the event is The Globe and Mail (Globe 2006? Globe and Mail, get it, eh?) hence my guess about the morning news.
It’s not the best picture of Strong I took as I scampered around in front of the stage semi-hunched over like a pro photog--you know, the semi-hunch politely acknowledges you are being a pest and getting in people’s way.
But I thought I would post this pic because it shows the stage and it shows how Strong uses his hands when he speaks. That gesture you can barely see over the stage monitor--hands upward though turned slightly in, like he was holding a basketball or the whole world in his hands--was one that he used frequently. Atlas envy, I call it.
I won’t go into his remarks here—mainly because I haven’t listened to my whole recording yet—but from what I recall they were okay. Lots of stuff about technological solutions to problems. He did say he was spending most of his time in China these days, something I had heard third hand, so it was interesting to have that confirmed. There was one line I recall that troubled me. Maurice was speaking about the age of the earth, and how mankind’s time on said earth has been, in relation to that age, well, kinda short. “So the natural state of the earth is one without mankind,” he concluded. I don’t like this kind of thinking—nature over here, humans over there; nature is where humans haven’t changed things, etc. I see humankind and our development as part of nature. Besides, if you get simplistic about the the whole nature/human divide, then you have to accept there there is a heck of a lot of nature out there, in outer space and there’s lots of THAT left, so we’re not running out of nature any time soon so why worry about it. But I’m being silly.
After everything wrapped up, I wandered onto the stage and introduced myself to Mr. Strong, shaking his hand and telling him, as someone began pulling on his elbow to lead him off the stage, I was trying to set up an interview with him through the proper channels, of course. “That’s fine,” was all he had time to say. I darted ahead and snapped this picture. There was a lot of blue light around the stage. (Blue planet, blue light... you get it, eh?)
So that was that, for now. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get my interview. If you want to read about the conference, go here. Early this morning, a half an hour or so before the thing got rolling, I was speaking with an organizer who told me Moe, that international man of mystery, has been coming to these Globe conferences--held every two years and always in Vancouver--since they began 18 years ago. And the crowd has been getting bigger every time. “There’s big money in green,” the organizer said with a smile. Greenpeace figured that out a long time ago. If there is one thing we humans know how to do, it’s selling each other salvation. Maybe that's why we're still here.
Western Standard sued for publishing cartoons
Earlier this month, the Western Standard was sued in human rights court for publishing the Danish cartoons. It's been ten years since I've graduated from law school, and I've never seen a more frivolous, vexatious, infantile suit than this.
But that's the point -- this complaint is not about beating us in the law. Freedom of speech is still in our constitution; we'll win in the end. It's a nuisance suit, designed to grind us down, cost us money, and serve as a warning to other, more timid media.
The hand-written scrawl and the spelling errors were what first disgusted me with the suit; but the arguments were what really got me. The complainant, Imam Syed Soharwardy, a former professor at an anti-Semitic university in Saudi Arabia, doesn't just argue that we shouldn't have published the cartoons. He argues that we shouldn't be able to defend our right to publish the cartoons. The bulk of his complaint was that we dared to try to justify it.
He argues that advocating a free press should be a thought crime.
Here is a letter I sent out to our e-mail list, explaining our legal situation.
Here is the formal response I shall file with the human rights commission tomorrow.
And here is where you can chip in to our legal defence fund if you want to support us. Our lawyers tell me we'll likely win, but it could cost us up to $75,000 to do so -- and the case against us is being prosecuted by government employees using tax dollars.
We're a small, independent magazine and we don't have deep pockets to fight off nuisance suits, so please chip in if you can.
ADDENDUM: In response to various commenters, unfortunately, even if we are successful in the human rights commission, we will not be compensated for our legal fees. It's not like a real court, where an unsuccessful plaintiff would be ordered to pay a successful defendant's costs. So even if we win, we lose -- the process is the penalty. Worse than that, the radical imam who is suing us doesn't have to put up a dime -- the commission uses tax dollars to pay lawyers and other inquisitors to go at us directly. Human rights tribunals themselves are illiberal institutions. Read my larger brief, linked above.
UPDATE 1: Here is a scan of the imam's complaint.
UPDATE 2: We are currently working to change our legal defence fund web page to accept donations from outside Canada. In the meantime, please e-mail Rita at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us at 403-216-2270 and we can help you that way -- thanks!
Quote of the day
From your favourite Alberta Marxist Kevin Taft:
Taft said when oil wealth takes the place of taxes, “the full development of democracy is inhibited.“When you pay your taxes, you expect to be represented, so when you drill for wealth and thereby bypass taxes, you also bypass representation.”
Why we must remember Allen Leung
Nearly two hundred years ago, the citizens of western New York, led by my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Thurlow Weed, sounded the alarm for a threat to American liberty symbolized in the death of a Freemason (William Morgan). Today, the death of another Freemason, San Franciscan Allen Leung, alerts us to the threat of the Chinese Communist Party to American liberty - a threat from which no one is immune.
Mr. Leung's death silenced one of the leading anti-Communists in San Francisco's Chinatown, one local called him "the backbone of anti-communism" (Epoch Times). He was deeply involved in the battle to keep Chinese-American social and community groups in San Francisco free of Communist influence. His killer remains unknown and at large, but investigators are certain this was neither a random act of violence nor a robbery. Several community leaders, understandably afraid to reveal themselves, called Leung "an eyesore for the CCP" (Epoch Times), and his support for the island democracy of Taiwan was well known. Many believe "that the case involved political motivations."
The implications of this murder should make all Americans sit up and take notice.
Leung came to America from Hong Kong, when it was still a British colony, and had been an outspoken public figure in America for years. Yet he was either killed by the Communists directly, or by triad members, which in many parts of Communist China are the same thing (Other Mainland News and third item). The Communists have not been above using gang members to do their dirty work abroad. The message to the Chinese-American population was loud and clear - even in America, you are not safe.
For those of us who have tracked the Communist menace, this is no surprise. Chen Yonglin and Hao Fengjun revealed the extent of the Communist overseas espionage network, and how so much of it is dedicated to intimidating overseas Chinese communities into towing the Party line. However, this is the first time (to the best of my knowledge) that a Chinese anti-Communist was murdered for his beliefs on American soil. Remember the great watch-phrase of those concerned about freedom's erosion in America: "It can happen here"? Well, if what is assumed is correct, it just did happen here. It may not be the last time; Falun Gong practitioners have been threatened repeatedly, non-ethnic Chinese included.
These are not the actions of a "government" that wishes better relations with the United States. They are the actions of a regime that wishes to squelch American liberty any way it can, because to the Chinese Communist Party, the United States and the democracy it practices (however imperfectly) are the greatest threats to its survival. This is why the regime has sought out anti-American terrorists as allies, and why the democratic world must be prepared to win the Second Cold War, which Communist China has already been fighting for over a decade and a half.
For the Communists, this Cold War has no rules: even ethnic Chinese on foreign soil are vulnerable. The democratic world need not be so sinister or bloodthirsty; we need only do what is necessary to help the Chinese people take their country back from the Communists. Chief among those concerns is ridding the democratic world of the extensive Communist espionage network that risks our security, damages our economy, and uses fear and intimidation to deprive Chinese-Americans, Chinese-Canadians, Chinese-Australians, and many more of the freedoms the rest of the democratic world hold so dear.
We must even be prepared to face the fact that the regime's own victims in the overseas Chinese communities will be used against us. Several, if not most, of the informants in the Communist spy networks are acting not out of hatred for their new homes, but for fear of retribution against relatives left behind, or against themselves.
The murder of Allen Leung has fueled that fear. We must act now to remove it from the lives of overseas ethnic Chinese. The democratic world will never be secure until the Chinese people - both there and here - are free from Communism. Then we can honestly say that Allen Leung did not die in vain.
Cross-posted to the China e-Lobby
CTF calls on Toronto to fiscally responsible
From a Canadian Taxpayers Federation press release:
"The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is calling on the City of Toronto to live within its means by looking for innovative ways to reduce costs, return to basics and freeze property taxes in advance of Toronto’s official budget debates that begin on Wednesday, March 29.
With an annual budget shortfall of over $400-million, Toronto must trim costs and focus on essentials instead of providing frills while relying on annual handouts from Queen’s Park. Contracting out services such as waste collection, and landscaping would begin to reduce the city’s rising labour costs. City Hall should also review city salaries which have increased 19% in four years, while also scrapping its union-only policy which prevents it from getting the best value for taxpayers. "
I presume that CTF also believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.
The previous Liberal government talked a good talk about fighting terrorism but outside of sending soldiers to Afghanistan, there wasn't that much action. The Conservative government of Canada today announced that no more taxpayer dollars would go to the Palestinian Authority because Hamas refuses to renounce violence and recognize Israel.
The Hamas response?
"I think the Canadian position is hasty and shows obvious bias," newly installed Palestinian Information Minister Youssef Rizka told The Associated Press in Gaza City. "What we need from the Canadian government is that it ask the Israeli authorities to admit that they are occupying Palestinian land."
Good one. Way to stay on point.
News of the Day
The Communists bamboozle two more U.S. Senators:
Schumer and Graham postpone currency-corrective vote another six months: Amazing what one week with the cadres can do. Senators Charles Schumer and Lindsay Graham have decided to postpone a vote on their bill to impose a tariff against Communist imports until late September (Fox News). The move came after they Senators met with regime officials in Beijing; Schumer went so far as to say the meetings had him "feeling very good." Thus any effort to correct the Communists' deliberately undervalued currency goes by the wayside. Also reporting: United Press International via Washington Times
Watch the Aussies
John O’Sullivan writing in the March 27 edition of National Review does a magnificent job of skewering the wishy-washy, Red Tory-style policies of the British Conservative Party under their new leader David Cameron.
Writes O’Sullivan: “The Tories are still a party in search of a political philosophy, an empty vessel that, these days, is making a little more noise.”
He then goes on to suggest American conservative politicians should not seek to emulate the British Tory model, suggesting they look instead down under.
”If the GOP is looking for an example of a conservative party that is robust philosophically and successful electorally, it need look no farther than John Howard’s Australian Liberal party. Howard has won four successive elections, introduced a series of major conservative economic reforms, presided over astonishing growth in the Australian economy, and won over sections of the electorate that until recently were wedded to the Labour party. There are many reasons for Howard’s success. Most frequently mentioned is his perseverance. But I will hazard one of my own: Howard would rather be right than nice.”
Good advice for American conservatives. Good advice for Canadian conservatives too.
Cross-posted at Gerry's Blog
CTV's Tom Clark interviews President Bush
The Rehab Scam
Citizens should feel duped by the public language on crime. I have in front of me a newspaper report (National Post, today) advising “Fewer Teens Given Jail Sentences.” The first reaction is, “Oh good, there must be less crime these days.” But then I read that Canada’s new “Youth Criminal Justice Act” (framed by our former liberal government to replace its own former “Young Offenders Act”) has had the effect of “a dramatic plunge in the number of teens serving time in detention centres as a result of a new focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment for young offenders.” For the period 2003-04 the number of offenders sentenced to detention centres “fell” 44% from 8,356 to 4,651. For starters, this tells us that there are 3,705 youths among us who would normally have been charged by police and immediately deprived of their liberties for, say, 6 months to a year and, at the least, unable to re-“offend” during that period. Take note: the official Act now speaks of “justice” rather than “offending” as if to hide from the public with marketing spin the fact that this is really about attacks on society. (And forget the word “youth.” There are very few skirts to be seen. These are overwhelmingly young men in the prime of their testosterone-pumped adolescence.)
At any rate, if the justice implied is to mean anything, surely it must speak of righting wrongs, that is, of just deserts, of repayment to society, of restoring the unbalancing of justice that occurs with every crime. But how does a 17 year-old, 6-foot-three youth who can bench-press three hundred pounds and has been charged with assault, repay society? By his willingness to be rehabilitated, you say? Language again: you cannot force someone to “be rehabilitated.” Indeed, there should be no passive tense used for anything that requires an active and willing participant. So on this permit me two cynical comments. In his terrific book Inside the Criminal Mind, the American psychologist Stanton Samenow, who began as a dyed-in-the-wool liberal promoter of rehab as a response to crime, explains how he slowly changed and opted for public safety via incarceration first, along with rehab, maybe, in the very few cases where there is some hope of success. But after a lifetime of effort he concludes baldly: “you cannot rehabilitate someone who has never been habilitated in the first place.” In other words, children in whom the hard moral truths of life have never been instilled in the first place are likely to spend the rest of their lives without ever believing or feeling those truths. So Samenow urges us to face this hard truth once and for all: what typifies so many of today’s young criminals is an almost complete absence of human feeling, or empathy, or concern for right and wrong. Experienced young criminals, he warns, have spent years seeing the world around them like a coldly executed chess game. To them , other people are like pieces on the board to be moved around for advantage. This makes beating them up and stealing from them a whole lot easier.
To have been habilitated by your parents, religion, and society means to have absorbed the universal moral lessons of humanity so deeply that whenever tempted to do evil, a little voice, a conscience, says “don’t do it. It’s wrong.” But you can’t rehabilitate kids who have never heard that voice, nor even the words. After all, it’s hard to learn such words from your parents if they never speak them, or are never home, or have left you when you were a baby. So I am not, and Samenow is not saying we shouldn’t try to teach them what they have never been taught. But he is saying the situation is a little like the cute goslings or ducklings hatching from their eggs that immediately start following their mother around because she is the first thing they see moving that seems to care about them. If a human is the first thing they see, they will even follow the human. For life. It’s an instinct that is imprinted on them from the first moment they trip out of their cracked and forlorn little shells. In other words, there is a very short learning “window” in which this emotional imprinting must take place, or it never will. The modern worry is that despite our best efforts, kids who have missed the human “morality window” in their childhood may earnestly be taught to mouth words like “it is wrong to beat other people up,” or “it is wrong to steal.” They may even learn to speak the words with what seems like true feeling. But most of them do not feel anything at all except an inner delight that they have just stumbled on another chess-piece, a set of words to learn that will get the right reaction from the officers and therapists they want off their backs.
Someday we may come to the realize that the modern penchant for rehabilitation rather than tough punishment, repayment to society, righting the balance of justice, and so on, is in fact a psychological scam we have suffered upon ourselves to assuage our collective guilt for the type of morally weak society we have created, but for which we continue to deny responsibility. The option for rehab as a solution to crime is an administrative expression of that denial. Seems to me that if we want ducklings and goslings that will follow us around instead of attacking us, we have to be there and give them the right message when it matters, for if we fail to habilitate them in the first place, it is unlikely we will ever rehabilitate them.
I remain puzzled that a gay man like James Loney would, de facto, have aligned himself with people who would see his sexual orientation as sufficient reason to kill him. (I guess it's similar to how I feel when I see feminists taking the anti-war line.) And I'm enjoying listening to all the anti-war media personalities in Canada patting themselves on the back for having kept knowledge of Loney's homosexuality a secret, and then turning around and commending him for his work. Mental midget-itis? Irony deficiency? Both of the above?
One of Loney's CPT colleagues, Doug Pritchard, seems to have a case of both:
"It's a sad fact that around the world gays and lesbians are more vulnerable to attack than straights," Pritchard said.
Hmm. Yeah. Particularly under Islamist fascist regimes, Doug.
Cross-posted at Wonkitties.
Goodbye Pte. Robert Costall
Goodbye Pte. Robert Costall.
Thoughts: Pte. Robert Costall remembered, Canadian Soldier Killed in Afghanistan , Killed In Action, A moment of silence…, Canadians win battle last night in Afghanistan, Pte. Robert Costall, Sympathy
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
A lethal pacifism: the founder of CPT speaks
I have just this question:
How many fewer people would have died if the Allies had NOT engaged Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito in World War II?
Would Hitler have stopped, if the Allies had not stopped him?
Ron Sider and his Christian Peacemakers Team engage in a lethal pacifism.
Missing CO2 targets
The BBC reports that the United Kingdom is missing its self-imposed 20% cut in CO2 emissions although it is expected to reach its Kyoto obligations. (The 20% cut exceeds what Kyoto requires.) This is in marked difference to Canada which simply never tried to meet its Kyoto obligations while lecturing the rest of the world (read: our American neighbours) about the imminent need to sign onto the greenhouse gas limiting protocol.
Reacting to the news that the UK will miss its reduction targets, Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said (in the words of the BBC) that "people had a moral responsibility to change lifestyles in order to curb global warming." How come the only moral responsibilities Anglican bishops ever seem to remind the flock about coincide with liberal politics?
The crippling need to regulate
A 12-year-old girl is stabbed at 2:20am on Saturday night outside a nightclub in downtown Toronto that was holding some kind of all-ages event. According to at least one Toronto city councillor, it was illegal for her to have been there:
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti… told CTV yesterday the parents of the stabbing victim should be charged under the provincial Child and Family Services Act, which requires children under 16 to be supervised by a parent when out between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.
And yet Mammoliti and other councillors nevertheless want to address this massive city-wide problem, as represented by this one isolated incident, by instituting a curfew. In other words, they want to turn back time and make it super-duper illegal for the 12-year-old victim to have been at the club. If I know them, they'll probably arrive at a final proposal that all children under 13 be off the streets by 2:19am.
"I'm from the old school," said councillor Frances Nunziata. "A 12- and 13-year-old should be home in bed sleeping at that hour." Blech — go ahead and try to argue with that! I take some comfort in the idea that municipal politics is sort of a coarse filter that stops people of limited to non-existent intellect from gaining control of more important elected positions. But accepting that City Hall wishes to reach back into the mists of time and pluck one person from the unfortunate Saturday night situation, why on Earth are these councillors zeroing in on the 12-year-old girl who was stabbed? The 12-year-old girl who stabbed her seems like a much more logical target, and no one has to invent some jackass new law to deal with her.
(Cross-posted to Tart Cider.)
Moussaoui: something doesn't parseI saw this on the news last night, and it just isn't sitting right with me. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something's fishy.
Facing execution, confessed al-Qaeda fighter Zacarias Moussaoui stunned a Virginia courtroom yesterday with the chilling claim that he and shoe-bomber Richard Reid were supposed to dive a hijacked jetliner into the White House on Sept. 11, 2001.
Defying his defence attorneys who desperately tried to prevent him from talking himself onto death row, Mr. Moussaoui claimed advance knowledge of the deadly scheme to simultaneously send fuel-laden passenger jets crashing into buildings in New York and Washington.
I get the part where he says he lied to the authorities prior to 9/11 in order to keep the plan from being derailed. That makes sense. But the part where he was supposed to be a fifth kamikaze, along with Richard Reid? I don't buy it. It's too tidy. Someone is setting this up. What were the chances that Moussaoui - famed for being the only one in the world on trial for 9/11 - would name the other world famous would-be terrorist (who is a bit of an idiot) as his co-pilot? Reid looks a few virgins short of Paradise, if you know what I mean, and I can't see anyone entrusting him with such a monumental task of bombing the White House. And what of Flight 93? I thought that was destined for the White House? Were there two? Or was 93 supposed to go elsewhere, like the Capitol? None of this is making sense. Great headlines, but little sense.
Moussaoui is covering something, I know it. I just don't know what.
I’m sorry, now please don’t sue me
Hopefully this British Columbia legislation spreads around to some of the other provinces:
Corporations, governments and individuals will soon be able to offer a sincere apology as part of their dispute resolution process without fear of legal liability, thanks to new legislation being tabled today, said Attorney General Wally Oppal.
“There are times when an apology is very important and appropriate but the legal implications have long been uncertain,” said Oppal. “The Apology Act is designed to promote the early and mutually beneficial resolution of disputes by allowing parties to express honest regret or remorse by removing concerns that an apology amounts to an admission of liability or could void provisions of an insurance policy.”
Case example is the Chinese head tax. We can throw taxpayers money at it but just don’t say your sorry.
Spengler on moderate Islam and moderate Christians
(Cross-posted from Burkean Canuck).
I argued, here, that the seeds of Christian "moderation" are found in the seeds of Christian faith itself -- in Christian Scripture. I've argued more than once that the seeds of the separation of church and state trace back to Christ's "Render-unto-Caesar" saying and that the freedoms of speech, thought, and religion trace back to what Christian political theorists call "evangelical freedom."
I wondered whether it is possible for Islam to moderate.
The Asia Times's Spengler argues much better than I, here, along the same lines.
And he takes it one more step, arguing that Europe never saw the emergence of a People of Christ, but merely a syncretism between Christianity and European paganism. He argues that when the English separatists spiritually led by William Brewster left Leiden, they intentionally left behind the religious oppression of Elizabethan and Jacobite England and the moral degradation of The Netherlands. They set out for North America to find a land in which they could be "a city set on a hill," to borrow the words Winthrop borrowed from someone else. And so, Spengler observes, the centre of gravity in the Christian world shifted over time from Europe to North America.
It's not the first time. As Philip Jenkins argued, the geographical, intellectual, and demographic centre of Christendom shifted from the Mediterranean, especially North Africa and what we call the Middle East, to Europe (scroll down to May 17th, here). Jenkins argues the centre of gravity is now shifting to the global South.
But it took Islam about 800 years to completely overthrow the centre and headquarters of eastern Christianity and the old Roman Empire of the east in Constantinople. The old eastern, Christian Roman Empire served as something of a buffer to European Christendom to the north.
Who will protect Christian converts in the global South?
Why I am leaving the Roman Catholic Church
Readers of this blog have seen me refer to myself repeatedly as a badly lapsed Catholic. I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic faith, and although I don't attend mass nearly as often as I should, I have always considered myself a loyal Catholic, and a member of that faith. That is why it hurts so much to leave it. However, as painful as it is to leave the only faith I have had my entire life, leave it I must, and at the risk of losing many friends, I have to ask my fellow anti-Communists in the Catholic faith to join me in the exodus. The continuing minuet between the Vatican and the Chinese Communist Party has given me no choice.
That the Holy See is looking for a rapprochement with the Communist regime is not news; in fact, it predates the election of Pope Benedict XVI. However, recent developments have made it clear that the Church, and the Pope who leads it, are not only willing to sacrifice the island democracy of Taiwan, but also the well-being of the people of mainland China, including millions of believers who have suffered persecution to resist the Communist-controlled "Patriotic" Church and remain loyal to the Vatican. This I can no longer accept.
Truth be told, I've been considering this move for some time now (last item), ever since I read the story of the "breakthrough" in Shanghai. The Vatican consecrated a "Patriotic" priest as a successor bishop to Aloysius Jin, the Communist Bishop in Shanghai. Worse than that, the Vatican also rejected the request of Bishop Joseph Fan - head of the loyal "underground" Shanghai Church - to have a successor consecrated for him. In effect, the Holy See told the persecuted Shanghai Catholics that it was time to go to the Communist-controlled Shanghai masses. Shanghai isn't alone: "in a journal that reflects Vatican thinking, German Jesuit theologian Father Hans Waldenfels suggested in October that successors to underground bishops would no longer be named by the pope, thereby healing the decades-old split in China's Catholic communities" (Newsweek).
Now, I know a good Christian, even one suffering persecution, should love his persecutors and pray for them. But endorse the persecutors' faith over their own? That one I don't see.
Still, I held back, in part because I wanted to think and pray things through, and in part because of the elevation of Cardinal Joseph Zen. If Pope Benedict was willing to elevate the Bishop of Hong Kong, a longtime champion of human rights and defender of the city's beleaguered freedoms, then perhaps there was hope.
That hope was dashed by Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States (i.e., Foreign Minister). Archbishop Lajolo's statement, which was released in such a way as to make clear he was speaking for Benedict XVI, was deeply troubling for two reasons. The first was, of course, Taiwan. The archbishop pledged to "immediately" break off ties with Taiwan if diplomatic relations were established with the Communist regime. Lajolo even went so far as to say that (in the words of United Press Int'l via Washington Times), "the spiritual needs of millions of Chinese Catholics were clearly more urgent than the needs of 300,000 Taiwan Catholics." For any Catholic, but most especially an archbishop, to claim some Catholics are more important than others was a rude shock. Even worse, however, was Lajolo's comments on Cardinal Zen - namely that Benedict XVI elevated him not to speak to the increasing danger in Hong Kong, but rather "to signal his concern and respect for China" (Catholic World News via Church Resources).
However, the straw that broke the camel's back was, ironically, Archbishop Lajolo's attempt to defend Zen's political activism. Lajolo insisted that Cardinal Zen (and these are Lajolo's words) "had not interfered in the legislative activity of the state" (CWN via CR). I couldn't believe my eyes. Cardinal Zen is well-known in Hong Kong for playing a leading role in interfering with the Communist-controlled HK Legislative Council's attempt to pass the hideous "anti-subversion" law in 2003 (sixth item). In fact, said interference was instrumental in fueling the "people power" that pushed the local Communists to shelve the law. Either the Vatican is ignorant of the situation in Hong Kong - and Cardinal Zen's importance there - or it is trying to airbrush recent history.
In any event, Lajolo's comments, the actions regarding Shanghai, and the statements on Taiwan have made it abundantly clear: the Roman Catholic Church is looking to accommodate the Chinese Communist Party, and if the Roman Catholic Church is growing comfortable with the Chinese Communist Party, I am no longer comfortable in the Roman Catholic Church.
The fact that I was a lapsed Catholic will make this withdrawal less powerful; it is the price I pay for my weakness in faith. I also understand that it will be much harder for Catholics reading this to join me in leaving; many of them may not consider me a Catholic in good standing as it is.
However, I must ask them these questions. Does the Lord want his Church to seek a compromise with an entity as evil as the Chinese Communist Party? Does "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's" include the endorsement of a "church" the Communist regime used in its war against the faithful? Does the Church honor its martyrs from China's past by trying to find just the right concession to win the imprimatur of the regime that martyred them?
We must all answer these questions with the help of the Lord, and in our own thoughts and prayers, but as for me, I have made my decision. I am, for now, a Christian without denomination. I have left - because I feel I must leave - the Roman Catholic Church, and I hope against hope that I am not the only one.
Cross-posted to the China e-Lobby
Shadows over Wilson
Still nothing in the mainstream press about all the questions surrounding new B.C. Liberal MP Blair Wilson's c.v. and past business dealings, but the North Shore News, a free-distribution community paper serving North and West Vancouver, has now followed up our story, published in the March 13 issue, with an investigative piece of its own. Writer Trevor Lautens extends the story by raising questions about a junket Wilson took to visit Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
I haven't found a link to Lautens' story yet, so I'm reprinting it in its entirety here:
How to fight a clean election - and lose
Here's a twist.
New Liberal MP Blair Wilson had a staunch ally in his election campaign:
the gentlemanliness and civility of his Conservative opponent, John Weston.
For Weston knew about litigation and gaps in Wilson's entrepreneurial
record that Wilson didn't mention in his campaign. Nor did the media, if
aware, report them. I learned about them only through recent e-mails
including court documents and Terry O'Neill's excellent reportage in The
Western Standard magazine (March 13 issue).
Why didn't Weston reveal Wilson's record to the voters in West
Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country during the campaign?
Because, he told O'Neill, he chose to "focus on a positive vision for
Can you believe? Here's a politician - a Harvard and Osgoode Hall
graduate - too decent to do anything that might be construed as
mud-slinging during an election campaign.
Weston, O'Neill reports, believed Wilson himself had "a positive
obligation to make full disclosure and to account to people of our
riding and to Canadians about these things."
"These things" included a civil suit against Blair Wilson after he
served as president and chief financial officer of Vancouver high-tech
firm Multimedia Accelerator Corp. in 1998. The allegations - and I
emphasize they were never contested or proven in open court - were that
Wilson had filed "duplicate expense charges" and taken "unauthorized
cash advances" from the company.
Wilson denied this and counter-sued the company. The dispute was settled
out of court.
Someone got on to this matter and Wilson was questioned days before the
election. He declined an interview but in a written statement said:
"This was settled seven years ago and there are no outstanding issues.
Every once in a while in business you have differences. Fortunately, we
were able to come together and resolve the matter out of court."
As did the principals in a second dispute. This involved Pan Smak Pizza
Inc., for which Wilson was chief financial officer, treasurer and a
director. He helped develop a pizza chain in Poland. Again, the suits
and counter-suits were settled out of court.
Because neither case ever went to trial and the settlement terms aren't
on the public record, no wrongdoing, incompetence, breach of trust etc.
by either party in each case should be inferred, nor are they implied
here. The certain thing is that both disputes were serious enough to
lead to protracted litigation and concerned serious issues of trust and
O'Neill noted the curious fact that Wilson publicly said during the
campaign that he'd worked in the business for five years - as reported
in the North Shore News - but court documents say only 1994-96. The
stated number of restaurants opened by Pan Smak is also puzzling,
variously 40 or 21.
Quite apart from O'Neill's story in The Western Standard - the
Calgary-based magazine that drew much attention recently for publishing
the Danish cartoons that inflamed some Muslims -- the Toronto Star
published an intriguing story by Bruce Campion-Smith on Nov. 30, 2004,
under the heading Soldiers Made to Play Tour Guide . . . Troops Shuttle
Visitors Around Kabul.
The Star reported "all-expenses paid trips (were) offered to community
leaders and . . . a defeated Liberal candidate." That defeated candidate
was none other than our Wilson, who, a few months earlier, narrowly lost
to then-MP John Reynolds in the federal general election.
An all-in trip to Afghanistan may seem a dubious benefit - call it what
it is, a junket - but it does look impressive on a curriculum vitae.
Correct me if I err, but in my interview with Wilson, and during the
campaign, I discovered no tiny hint of his interest or experience in
I've received a couple of photos. One shows Wilson, broad smile as
always, seated behind a machine gun on an armoured vehicle, with a
soldier beside him. The second shows him, again with the smile, walking
shoulder-to-shoulder with three soldiers. Considering the gun's purpose,
the propinquity of death, the solemnity of Canada's Afghanistan
commitment, Wilson's cheerfulness seems jarringly inappropriate.
But such junkets - surely not some kind of payoff distributed by the
Liberal government that brought you the multi-million-dollar sponsorship
scandal! - didn't amuse some of Canada's soldiers there.
Complaints were made to the office of the ombudsman of the Department of
National Defence and the Canadian Forces. In the office's 2004 report,
under "military tourism," the ombudsman states that "at least 30
visitors passed through the (unnamed camp where they stayed) each week."
Some such "outreach visitors" stayed as long as two weeks.
In theory, the report continues, this was an excellent idea, but "the
high number of visits was a source of morale problems and frustration
for the troops. . . . The high number of visitors and the work involved,
especially given the existing personnel shortage, was taking its toll."
This looks like the sort of bureaucratic language that conceals more
than it reveals. Flatly, some soldiers were ticked off providing safe
passage, accommodation and meals for the junketing civilian throng when
they had extremely serious and dangerous business to attend to.
The following dispels any doubt about the essential frivolity of these
taxpayer-supported trips for the favoured: The ombudsman drily stated
that some of the visitors "were unclear or unable to articulate exactly
why they were there."
Wilson's side of the stories? He didn't return calls. At this writing,
13 of them, including one he inadvertently answered Sunday while resting
from public business with his family at Whistler. He agreed to a phone
interview Monday at 9 a.m. He didn't show. Then or later.
Not that he should worry. Blair Wilson, MP, West Vancouver-Sunshine
Coast-Sea to Sky Country, got the 155-grand-a-year job in Ottawa that he
tirelessly sought for 18 months - with his sincere salesman's smile and
guileless baby-blue eyes. (Meanwhile opponent Weston was merely involved
in his legal practice, including representing Chief Mountain in his
challenge to the Nisga'a Treaty, a case the B.C. establishment heartily
wishes would go away.) As Wilson's attitude to his entrepreneurial
disputes shows, he must optimistically know that these revelations will
blow over too.
And if the above had been widely known in the constituency before Jan.
23, would voters still have given Wilson his 1,000-vote margin over
Weston? Would you bet?
What is "The Walrus"?
According to Tim Denton, utterly goo goo g’joob when it comes to tackling multiculturalism in Canada with intellectual honesty. Some tough questions are posed therein to Allan Gregg.
From the News of the Day . . .
One of the ChiComs' better public relations ploys was the introduction of "village elections," which supposedly gave residents a say in local affairs and made the Communists look like democrats. Well, there was a lot less than met the eye, as the residents of Zhangliangbao found out:
Sujiatun couple - elected village leaders - arrested for protesting corruption: In Zhangliangbao village (a part of Sujiatun), Liu Hua and Yue Yongjin "have been exposing corruption among village officials for several years" (Boxun), including land seizures. They were even elected village leaders by grateful residents, but the Communists refused to let them take their posts. Last month, the cadres arrested them "in apparent retaliation for their efforts."
Lest anyone think this is an isolated incident, I have one word - Taishi.
Our Libertarian Socialism
In his extraordinary reflections in Chapter VI of Democracy in America, which is worth reading at least once a year, Alexis de Tocqueville wonders what sort of “despotism” is in store for the newly-emerging democracies of the Western world. Despotism? Why, surely this strikes us as a strange fear when we have been taught that democracy is the proper response to despotism, and not one of its types. But he begins by observing that “no sovereign has ever lived in former ages, so absolute or so powerful as to undertake to administer by his own agency all the parts of a great empire,” and while former rulers had great power, it touched very few, it neglected the masses, and the myriad details of social and private life, work, and occupation were practically and properly beyond the ruler’s control. But de Tocqueville observed that in a democratic system, where the emphasis is on envy and equality, everything is muted. Men are restrained in their vices, he wrote, but also in their virtues. He was not afraid, he said, that citizens in democracies “will meet with tyrants in their rulers, but rather with guardians.” His great fear was not physical terror or despotism, but what he called “administrative despotism.” Below I reproduce his most important words on this topic, verbatim.
“The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasure with which they glut their lives … Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood … It provides for their security … manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulate the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living? … The principle of equality has prepared men for these things; it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.
“After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned them at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes and stupefies a people, until each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
“I have always thought that servitude of the regular, quiet, and gentle kind which I have just described might be combined more easily than is commonly believed with some of the outward forms of freedom, and that it might even establish itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the people.
“Our contemporaries are constantly excited by two conflicting passions: they want to be led, and they wish to remain free. As they cannot destroy either the one or the other of these contrary propensities, they strive to satisfy them both at once. They devise a sole, tutelary, and all-powerful form of government, but elected by the people. They combine the principle of centralization and that of popular sovereignty; this gives them a respite: they console themselves for being in tutelage by the reflection that they have chosen their own guardians… the people shake off their state of dependence just long enough to select their master and then relapse into it again …”
“The democratic nations that have introduced freedom into their political constitution at the very time when they were augmenting the despotism of their administrative constitution have been led into strange paradoxes. To manage those minor affairs in which good sense is all that is wanted, the people are held to be unequal to the task; but when the government of the country is at stake, the people are vested with immense powers; they are alternately made the playthings of their ruler, and his masters - more than kings, and less then men … No one will ever believe that a liberal, wise, and energetic government can spring from the suffrages of a subservient people.”
cross-posted at www.williamgairdner.com
Monday, March 27, 2006
Hmm...Now let's see if we can sort this out. Months ago, some mildly insulting cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) appeared in a Danish newspaper. Some time later, some Muslims threatened the lives of the cartoonists and the newspaper's editor, rioted, burned and generally went bonkers and behaved shamefully. Now, it seems some people in India are planning a protest about the appearance of a cartoon depicting George Bush as the Lord Shiva (many arms be upon him). The political party of one Raj Thackeray, nearly a month after the offending cartoon appeared in the International Herald Tribune on March 3rd (they were going to protest earlier but the regional police were busy with bandobast duty and asked them to wait), are going to burn effigies of the American president. Yes. You read that right. They are going to BURN EFFIGIES OF THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT...to protest a cartoon that said American president had nothing to do with creating. They have made no mention of killing the cartoonist or torching any consulates. Whaaaaa????? I'm confused. But I'm also thinking I wish the outraged Muslims had behaved like the outraged Hindus, and a) cooperated with local police to make sure the latter were able and willing to control the flames, and b)burned effigies of Mohammed in order to vent their considerable spleen, rather than torching embassies and threatening to bring about the "real" Holocaust (as opposed to that fake one we all learned about in school).
Read the wacky story.
(Note: I sometimes think it would be nice to have extra arms. I could get my housework done more quickly, and type faster. I already type 100 words a minute, so imagine what I could do!)
Cross-posted at Wonkitties.
Can Islam moderate?
Princeton English professor John V. Fleming writes in The Princetonian, here, in "Respect the respectable" about the trouble with "moderate Islam" (HT: Kathy Shaidle). For Fleming, the trouble with "moderate Islam" is that it isn't any such thing. He drives home his central point by contrasting the militant reaction of Islam to cartoons published in a "provincial" newspaper in a language spoken by fewer people than live in Cairo, with the global reach of the "DaVinci Code" and the ensuing non-reaction from global Christianity. This, even though "the Code" suggests that Jesus "got it on with Mary Magdalene." Fleming very helpfully points us to a recent book, The Myth of Islamic Tolerance (2005), here.
On Sujiatun (and a few other things)
The following is the address yours truly gave to the rally at Lafayette Park earlier this afternoon to draw attention to the Sujiatun organ-harvesting death camp (lead, seventh, second, seventh, third, fourth, and fifth items).
Why do we gather here today?
We all know why we gather: to condemn the horrifying truth of Sujiatun, the camp created by the Chinese Communist Party to turn humans in organ banks, Falun Gong practitioners into ashes, and desperate patients into unwitting - or in some cases, well aware - accomplices in hideous torture and murder.
We gather to call for an end to a practice - the killing of practitioners and other dissidents for their organs - that is Auschwitzesque. While the number of dead and soon-to-be-dead is at present only 6,000, the combination of evil intent, lack of respect for human life, and assembly-line efficiency that fueled the Nazi concentration camps is, sadly, alive and well where the Chinese Communist Party rules, and is likely to remain so until the Chinese people take their country back from the Communist regime.
But why do we gather here? Why in the capital of what is arguably the most powerful nation on earth? Why in what many consider the epicenter of the democratic world?
For this answer, we must look beyond the United States, beyond Communist-controlled China, to the battle between the democratic world and the tyrannical forces it fights in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the globe. The latter have fallen under the bloody banner of "terrorism;" the main perpetrators are well known: al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, the mullahcracy in Iran, the Assad family in Syria. What is not as well known is that all of these forces of evil - plus the northern Korean nightmare run by Kim Jong-il - have received aid and support from the Chinese Communist Party for years, including military and, in the case of the Iranian mullahs, even nuclear support.
Why do the Communists support terrorism in Central Asia, Eastern Asia, the Middle East, and anywhere else they can find it? They do so because they fear the freedom of the democratic world; they fear how the democratic world cherishes truth, love, and respect for others. Most of all, they fear the democratic world hearing about the evil that exists in Sujiatun, the violent state-sponsored slaughters of Hanyuan and Shanwei, and the callous, silent murder of those who have fallen ill from AIDS, SARS, and bird flu.
In short, the Communists know that so long as the democratic world exists, their crimes against the Chinese people can never be kept secret. So long as there is an America to show that the people can govern themselves, the Chinese people will demand the same. What Abraham Lincoln once said about an America split between slave state and free state, the Communists know to be true about a world split between free peoples and enslaved peoples: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
This is why we have gathered here; for these truths mean two realities. One: the Chinese Communist Party and the democratic world cannot co-exist, for one to survive, the other must perish. However, this leads to another, more hopeful one: the Communists not only face Americans, Europeans, Japanese, and others in the democratic world. They also face practitioners, dissidents, appellants, unpaid laborers, and maltreated farmers.
We gather here, because the American and the Chinese peoples have a common cause against the CCP, but only together can they defeat it. Moreover, we will continue to gather here, as we must, until the American people put in place leaders that will take up this fight against the CCP, for America will never be secure until China is free.
We gather here because Sujiatun is not only an act of unspeakable evil, it is a warning to those in the democratic world of what this regime is trying to hide, and why it feels it must survive to hide it - at any cost. Let us heed this warning, and work together to ensure that it is the democratic world that prospers and the CCP that perishes.
Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the American and Chinese peoples.
Democracy, Power, and Despotism
There are a great many things worth reading in Alexis de Tocqueville’s extraordinary book DemocracyIn America (1840). But the part that springs to mind is found in Vol. II, and is entitled “What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have To Fear.” It relates directly to my last blog about the Swan Police and all the rest, and so I am going to publish a stirring chunk of that tomorrow. This is crossposted at www.williamgairdner.com
But today, a word about de Tocqueville’s brilliant study of the French Revolution and the Ancien Regime (old regime) published in 1856, which sets the stage. His thesis about the French Revolution and the modern democratic ethos was so original – perhaps “shocking” is a better word – that it was pretty much ignored for more than a century. No one could believe it. By the early twentieth century French historians were clones presenting an orthodox Marxist-socialist interpretation of the Revolution as an historical shift from feudalism to capitalism marked by class struggles involving various liaisons and conflicts between workers, bourgeois elites, land-owning nobility, and so on. And without exception, all these historians saw the revolution as a glorious anti-monarchical undertaking in the name of human liberty that – Oops! - got derailed by “the Terror” of 1792-94, during which there was an organized violence of the new democratic state against full French citizens at a level of cruelty and bloodiness not equaled again until the time of Hitler and Stalin. While they glorified the Revolution as an impassioned struggle for liberty, all Marxist historians conveniently disowned the Terror and the guillotine as “a break” in the historical course of the Revolution.
By the 1980s, however, all such interpretations had simply collapsed because a new kind of conservative history-writing was emerging (about the time of the Bi-centennial celebration of the Revolution in 1989 – when the Berlin Wall also collapsed). The new historians were far less ideological and much more scrupulous about studying actual historical documents rather than imposing a personal, or party, or materialistic ideology on past events. It turns out they were rediscovering de Tocqueville’s thesis.
His main point had been that the “democratic” French Revolution was not a breaking away from an oppressive aristocratic or monarchical past as so many had concluded. It was, rather, a continuation of the Ancien Regime, and the dictatorship of Napoleon was its natural conclusion. In effect, Napoleon was a new monarch of the people who emerged, newly-crowned by the democratic ethos, so to speak. The kernel of this reasoning was that in making the centralized democratic state so powerful and by investing individual citizens with a concept of their own egalitarian nobility gleaned from the radical theories of Rousseau – in terms of which each citizen saw himself as embodying the unchecked Will of the entire nation – the revolutionaries had actually continued the prior despotism under a new name. The sovereign was gone, but now every citizen was a sovereign in miniature, and in the name of the new collective sovereign (which Rousseau had called la volonte generale) the French people imposed an oppressive tutelary power over themselves greater than any monarch in history had ever exercised. (It is remarkable that Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau had a life-long affection for Rousseau’s phrase about the General Will, which he used in public and in his writings on many occasions and his Charter of Rights and Freedoms he saw as Rousseauist in spirit.)
The man who led the new “revisionist” school of history writing was Francois Furet and his major work Interpreting the French Revolution (French Version, 1978, English by Cambridge U. in 1981) pretty much incorporated de Tocqueville’s thesis. By the time of the Bicentennial Furet had become the new Dean of French historians and highly respected world-wide. This was somewhat of an embarrassment for the French at the time, who by reflex were firing off millions of dollars worth of firecrackers, even though Furet and his now very powerful revisionist school had demonstrated from clear historical evidence that the French Revolution was not the story about glorious human freedom and national liberation that had been forcibly rammed down every student’s throat for two hundred years. In short, the Revolution did not “break,” as claimed by so many historians eager to glorify egalitarian democracy while repudiating the blood to which it led. Furet and others were able to show that the Revolution was not spurred by economics or any concrete materialistic class-warfare. It was in fact highly ideological and abstract in nature: it was the advanced democratic ideas of radicals like Jean-Jacques Rousseau (especially in his tract The Social Contract) “that had become the heart and soul of the French Revolution.” In other words, the trajectory of the Revolution from its first day pointed toward the state using democratic ideology to rule in a despotic manner. It was a continuous event, the underlying democratic and egalitarian ideology of which led inevitably like a train on iron rails to the guillotine and the pointless slaughter of many thousands of French citizens.
For those interested, there are some books to get. First is Gary Kates, The French Revolution: Recent debates and new controversies (New York: Routledge, 1998) which has a super intro to the essential change in recent history-writing surrounding the Revolution, and contains a collection of short essays, by such as Furet himself to illustrate the trend. One essay in particular, by the American Keith Baker, “Constitution,” which runs only 15 pages describes the whole sorry business in careful detail. Also very valuable is Baker’s book Inventing the French Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 1990), which dissects the course of the whole sad story of the Revolution as would a spy-glass peeking into the actual French debates about freedom and equality, and shows step by step how they can turn otherwise sensible people to justify murder in their name of liberty. For those who want a more gripping and less scholarly but intensely interesting approach, try to find Stanley Loomis, Paris In The Terror (New York: Lippincott, 1964). It has three main sections, on Marat, Danton, and Robespierre, and starts with Charlotte Corday’s murder of Marat in his bathtub. It grabs you like a good novel! Try www.abebooks.com for such out-of print material.
The Latest News of the Day
As is the norm on Monday, it's pretty long: Sujiatun, another Guangdong land grab, and some disturbing news from Rome:
More on Taiwan - Vatican moves and Mayor Ma: The Vatican is playing diplomatic footsie with the Communists again (United Press Int'l via Washington Times), and strongly hinting that Taiwan will soon join the Shanghai underground Church as victims of the rapprochement (last item). Meanwhile . . .
For the rest, check here.
The Left's big counter-offensive
The radical left-wing Canadian Website rabble.ca is encouraging readers to help get rid of Stephen Harper, at least metaphorically. The site's home page features a large photograph of the prime minister. But Canadians wanting to express their opposition to the Tories can, for as little as $10, puchase a "pixel ad" to cover up a small portion of Harper's face.
"In his place will be a graphic and a link to a progressive website of your choice that is working hard to get rid of him in the political world," rabble explains. "Of course, the more money you spend, the more of Stephen Harper you can make disappear: Covering up his eyes and his mouth will cost more than disappearing his shoulders."
Rabble says revenue from the tiny ads will help it fund an "Active Rapid Response Group (ARRG) that will be there every time the Conservatives try to cut funding, cut programs or do anything else to destroy what you care about in this country."
As of this morning, most of Harper's face is still visible, but both eyes, the tip of his nose, and the end of his chin have been plastered with logos for various leftie groups.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Global Warming and World Flooding
Before the Saskatchewan stubble jumpers start calling in the real estate evaluators (see Small Dead Animals post “That’s not the Sound of Rushing Waters”) or London property holders start holding fire sales, whoops, make that flood sales, lets apply a little critical thinking to the question of global warming and world wide flooding.
Consider that oceans cover two thirds of the earth’s surface. The recent press reports say that global warming will melt ice will causing oceans to rise from four to six metres. Next think in terms that all land which rises above sea level would have to be covered in an ice sheet twelve metres thick, and all of that ice to melt, for that to happen. Ice does not now, nor ever has covered more than minimal portions of the earth’s land mass. So where is all this ice that is supposed to melt and flood dear old London? Ninety per cent of the ice in the world is in the Antarctic. It is reputed to be approximately 4000 metres thick. I have flown across Greenland and I know from that experience that the ice cap there rises to at least 11, 000 feet. That would cool a lot of cocktails but it, and all other glaciers, is virtually irrelevant in the world scheme of things.
British researchers in the Antarctic have drilled ice cores from which they are deducing climate change over a period of 740,000 years. That information tells me that the Antarctic ice sheet, from which they are drilling their cores, has not melted in all that time.
This ex Saskatchewan farm boy is not taking any options on Saskatchewan property, and I would suggest Kate and her confreres first corner the market on Methuselah pills if they plan to capitalize on that projected Saskatchewan land boom.
Dick Cheney: SO Not a Rock Star!
This list of Dick Cheney's "demands," for when he stays in hotels, is so modest it hardly merits being posted triumphantly on a website like the Smoking Gun. I'm happy to learn that the wild American VP likes Diet Caffeine free Sprite, and that his wife, like me, has a fondness for Perrier. Much merriment has been made out of the fact that Cheney asks for the TV in his suite to be tuned to Fox News, but think about it: After a long flight, would you like to walk into a hotel suite and be bombarded with bad news about yourself? I wouldn't. I would want to be greeted by people who like me. Not to mention that I find it hard to believe he doesn't eventually channel surf, after having relaxed a bit. I'm sure a man like Cheney would make it his business to know what is being said about him on every major network or cable station. After all, he also asks for copies of the New York Times and USA Today, hardly Bush-friendly reading, along with the Wall Street Journal.
Cross-posted at Wonkitties.
Friday, March 24, 2006
What's up with Hervieux-Payette?
This has been a weird last week for Senator Céline Hervieux Payette. Is it just me or is she kind of inconsistent? First she makes headlines and embarasses the country by writing a shrill anti-American letter, and days later on she's like the world's biggest defender of the seal hunt, taking dead aim at the claims of the McCartney/Bardot propaganda machine and defending Newfoundland seal hunters, who barely make any money as it is from the hunt. (This is unusual for a Quebec politician.) The letter was related to the hunt too, of course, but she's pretty much alienated everyone from all over the political spectrum now.
Eaten by Animals
Raskolnikov on recent Phoenix Sinclair developments:
It’s usually about here, in these by-rote, cue-card diatribes from Indianville, that my blood pressure increases and I began to breathe heavily, not out of anger from the words so much as that now I have to waste time and energy pointing out the obvious absurdity of that comment, which makes me appear to be nothing more than a negative, cynical Indian-basher.
And then the storm.
An Immense and Tutelary Power
In 1840 Alexis de Tocqueville predicted the closely-monitored, statist sort of existence we now have in all Western democracies. He wrote that “the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything that ever before existed in the world,” and about how such a regime “extends its arm over the whole community, and covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd.”
Here are a few experiences of just one citizen with the sort of things of which he warned. The first was my run-in with the Pay Equity Police under Ontario’s Premier David Peterson. It was the Peterson government’s “Green Paper” that first got me so upset about what was happening to my country. I called Premier Peterson. We debated the faulty logic of the pay-equity scam for15 minutes. At the end he said, “It’s just politics,” and ended the conversation unpersuaded that the whole scheme was a socialist-style nightmare from stem to gudgeon, an intrinsic attack on a free market in labour, and on the concept of private property, and would end up as a new kind of tax on everyone.
A couple of months later I got a visit from the Hamburger Police. In my business we had a small snack bar for breakfast and light lunches. This government fellow said he had done a survey of the cook’s job and also of the job of our maintenance man, and he had concluded that the two jobs were the same. Well. I hit the roof. The maintenance guy was paid about $35,000, had a gas licence, often had to go up on the roof in high and bitter winds to work, and so on. The cook was paid about $22,000. He wanted me to increase the female cook’s pay to match the male maintenance man’s pay. This scheme never went the other way. Male workers who felt “underpaid” as compared to some female class of workers could not apply for “adjustment.” Never mind that when we advertised for the maintenance guy, we couldn’t get anyone decent until we paid that much. But when we advertised for the cook about 100 people, mostly women, lined up for interviews. I told him that the food service was an independent operation within the building and that if we raised her pay to what he wanted we would have to charge $10 for every hamburger sold. The clients would obviously not pay that much for a hamburger. So the kitchen would soon have to be closed, and she would be out of a job. Take your pick. He left.
A year later I was visited by the Temperature Police. One of our office tenants, a terrible pain-in-the-neck woman who insisted on coming to work half-dressed, was forever calling me to complain the office was too cold. She didn’t know that one of her office-mates who dressed normally often complained, but much more calmly that the same office was too hot. Anyway, after a year or so of this, the half-dressed woman called in the Temperature Police from Ontario’s Ministry of something or other. Honestly, I was appalled and in disbelief when this sanctimonious twit came in, sat down, and from a little black case on his lap pulled out something he proudly announced was “a dry-bulb thermometer”. He had responded to her call, gone to the suite, and was now here to announce to the owner that the temperature in her office was indeed a half of a degree below the Ministry’s recommended office temperature. Well, first I told him about the woman’s office-mates, who thought the temperature was fine. Then I said, “Mister, that woman has been driving us crazy for a year. Her lease is up in about six months, and thanks to your visit here, I am of a mind not to renew it. Does that make you feel better about your snoopy piece of work?” He left.
Three years ago my wife and I were in the garden in spring enjoying the sun and the sweet pace of life at the farm. As it happened, we had just that day let our two white swans out onto the pond for the first time since freeze-up the past November. We keep them indoors all winter because they have trouble keeping the ice open and we don’t want coyotes to get them. Suddenly, in the midst of this peacefulness a brand-new Jeep Cherokee came down the driveway and two fully-uniformed guys got out. Two! By Golly, this was a surprise visit from … the Swan Police! They announced to us that according to their records we were “keeping swans without a licence.” Serious. They promptly served us with an inch-thick copy of the federal government’s Wild-Fowl Act, or some such thing, and charged us a $240 fine. We had not bought the birds. We had agreed to look after them because our neighbour didn’t want them any longer. The annual swan-licence, which we knew of, but had forgotten to pay - costs $10.
I mentioned yesterday the Texas Cocktail Police, undercover agents who will creep into private bars and arrest people for being drunk. And the new Ontario Smoke Alarm Police – the law forcing all home-owners to install a smoke alarm on every floor of their home or pay a $50,000 fine. I think it is smart to have an alarm. It’s just the “immense and tutelary power” that de Tocqueville described hanging over us, invading our minds and everyday life, that unsettles me.
Can People Really be so Stupid? III
Commenting on the removal of 24 maple trees from the 2800-block of Yale Street in east Vancouver, Josie Padro is quoted in today's Vancouver Sun as saying, "I feel like there was mass murder in my neighbourhood."
Saddam Al Qaeda connection bubbling up
I’ve been waiting for this information to start hitting the mainstream media for over a damn week:
A former Democratic senator and 9/11 commissioner says a recently declassified Iraqi account of a 1995 meeting between Osama bin Laden and a senior Iraqi envoy presents a “significant set of facts,” and shows a more detailed collaboration between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
The Operation Iraqi Freedom Documents are available for anyone to review but a large portion of the American media has not been rushing to report on any of this for the possibly obvious reason that maybe George Bush was right….
News of the Day
Word of Sujiatun reaches a major newspaper:
More on Sujiatun and organ harvesting: Bill Gertz, Washington Times, reports on Sujiatun, and adds something new about the reporter who broke the story: "he had to hide his true identity after being threatened by Chinese government agents." Meanwhile, the Epoch Times has more from the Shenyang witness and a personal account from a medical student on the organ "donations;" World Tribune focuses on the use of inmates' skin for cosmetics in Communist China; and the John Batchelor show highlighted the Communist persecution of Falun Gong.
For more, including the Bush Administration falling down on the job dramatically, look here.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Can People Really be so Stupid? II
Apparently, yes indeedy, as I have previously speculated. Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled the Christian Peacemaker hostages are free and (relatively) well. Their colleague, Tom Fox, did not fare so well. Hmm...Wonder who killed him? To hear their spokesperson, you would think an American soldier had done it. Here are some gems from the group's official statement upon the hostages' release:
They knew that their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers.
Really? I'm thinking their only protection could have been their staying the heck out of a situation they had no business interfering with. Failing that, their only protection was in the power of the American and British military.
We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end.
Right. It wasn't the actual kidnappers who were the "root cause" of the kidnapping. And it isn't the "insurgency" or anything that is causing so much pain in Iraq, and preventing any uninterrupted development and change.
We pray that Christians throughout the world will, in the same spirit, call for justice and for respect for the human rights of the thousands of Iraqis who are being detained illegally by the U.S. and British forces occupying Iraq. During these past months, we have tasted of the pain that has been the daily bread of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
Of course it would have been nice if these buffoons had been walking this talk when Saddam was in charge. I'm thinking that pain was the daily bread of most Iraqis back then. Not to mention that I'd like to see convincing evidence that those Iraqis currently detained by the Coalition have not merited detention. Bloody hell. What morons. If I were a Christian, I wouldn't want these goofs speaking for me. Have they minded their ps and qs and thanked their rescuers? Of course, the CBC reported they had been "released," not that it was a military rescue, and the Canadian Press said the rescue was courtesy of a "multinational force." Really? The fact that the U.S. and the U.K were working together does not strike me as justifying use of the word, "multinational." Maybe "binational" would have been more accurate, but you know, the Canadian Press has to make it sound like some international lovefest, "let's all work together," nonsense. What's worse is, apparently these fools actually thought the fact that they were Christians would help them in their "negotiations" with their captors. Oh, Lord.
Cross-posted at Wonkitties.
News of the Day is Up
Japan decides enough is enough:
Japan halts loans to Communist China: The Japanese government "would not give any more loans during the current fiscal year" (BBC) to Communist China due to what Japanese Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe called "various situations" between Japan and the Communist regime.
For more, including the latest on Sujiatun and Christian arrests, look here.
Hunting for truth
I'm thankful that I tuned to CBC's The National for its ferry coverage (see below) because that allowed me to see a teaser for special report, from Mark Kelley, about the Newfoundland seal hunt. The teaser promised a different perspective on the hunt, one which looked at the people who are at the centre of the storm -- the men and women who rely on the hunt for their income.
I stayed on the channel and watched Kelley's piece. It did not disappoint. Far from the usual facile reporting that TV presents on the issue, his special report made a real -- and successful, I think -- attempt to show the sealers' point of view. The centrepiece of Kelley's report was a new documentary film by Anne Troake, whose family has been closely involved with the hunt for decades.
Kelley himself adopted a sympathetic and understanding attitude when interviewing the sealers, and asked insightful questions of the hunt's opponents. All in all, an entertaining, informative and heartwarming piece of TV journalism.
The thing to do
Like most of you probably were, I was glued to my TV last night watching coverage of the sinking of the Queen of the North, a ship my family and I travelled on in 1985 along the exact same Prince Rupert-Port Hardy route that she was sailing on the night she went down.
For the most part, the coverage was as good as could be expected, although I was surprised that, in this day of cell-phone cameras, more footage or pictures didn't exist of the late-night mayhem. Global seems to have obtained the best image, one of the stern of the ferry half submerged in the water.
The only real clunker of the night came from the CBC's usually solid Terry Milewski, who said in a stand-up: "Of course, the people of Hartley Bay could have simply rolled over and gone back to sleep when they heard the mayday call, but nobody here even seems to have considered that. Instead, just about everyone who had a boat used it immediately."
I can understand what Milewski was getting at here -- trying to play up the self-sacrifice of the good folk of Hartley Bay. But it is inconceivable -- absolutely inconceivable -- that anyone in a such a coastal community would, upon hearing a mayday, roll over and go back to sleep. If their automatic response really did surprise Milewski -- well, that says more about him than it does about the men and women of Hartley Bay.