Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

Thursday, April 09, 2009

In BC they read Rand, in Alberta they read Marx

Last October, when the banking crisis was in full swing The Times of London wrote that copies of Karl Marx's Das Kapital were "flying off the shelves as the newly disenfranchised business class tries to work out the root of the present crisis." More recently The Economist reported on another literary counter-cyclical asset, copies of Ayn Rand's individualist-capitalist novel Atlas Shrugged, observing" whenever governments intervene in the market...readers rush to buy Rand’s book."

Although the financial crisis and subsequent government actions have drawn people of all sorts to further explore the economic and moral debate between capitalism and socialism, fueling interest in these two thinkers, there has also been an observable regional dimension to the level of interest. Eric Crampton, an economist at Canterbury University in the UK New Zealand, digs into the regional interest as measured by Google searches, with some very interesting results that suggest more questions than answers:

So, in lots of the developing world, we're seeing lots of searches on Marx and very little on Rand. Rand only registers in the Philippines. In the US, Rand beats Marx by a small margin; same in India. In Canada, Marx beats Rand; same in Norway and New Zealand and ... pretty much every country that makes the top ten in searches on Ayn Rand. [...] Only in the US and India do searches on Rand beat searches on Marx.

Search Insights is powerful enough for us to drill down onto country-specific searches. So, we find in Canada, that Rand beat Marx from mid June 08 through August 08, but Marx wins just about the rest of the time. This one shocked me: the proportion by which Marx beat Rand in Ontario matched that in Alberta. Only in British Columbia, Canada's "loonie left coast", did Rand beat Marx. In Manitoba, ancestral home of Barbara Branden, Rand didn't show up at all.

We can drill down even further. Marx beats Rand by a larger majority in Edmonton than in Calgary; Edmonton is the seat of government and sometimes is disparaged as Redmonton. Turns out it's just a matter of degree.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on April 9, 2009 in Books | Permalink | Comments (19)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Ron Paul's book End The Fed available for pre-order on Amazon

In a February interview of Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul conducted by Patrick Ford for Young American Revolution, the publication of the non-partisan Ron Paul youth wing Young Americans for Liberty (video teaser below), Paul confirmed the rumour that he had been working on a new book  on central banking to be called End the Fed, to follow up on the success of his campaign book The Revolution: A Manifesto.

Now, Ron Paul's forthcoming book End the Fed has been made available for pre-order from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca, with a release date of September 16th, 2009.

You can see the book's cover and pre-order here:

Posted by Kalim Kassam on April 8, 2009 in Books | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Zalm's final word

Bill Vander Zalm, looking as fit and acting as energetic as he did 20 years ago, was at GM Place in Vancouver on Sunday to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

But it wasn't church matters that Vander Zalm spoke about as he crushed my hand with a vice-like shake. No, it was the imminent publication of his autobigraphy, For the People: Highsight, Insight, Foresight.

It will be most interesting to see how, after all these years, the former B.C. premier interprets the singular event most responsible for his loss of office and, ultimately, for the sundering of the Social Credit Party in B.C.--his declaration, in the wake of the Supreme Court of Canada 1988 Morgentaler decision, that B.C. would not list abortions as an insurable procedure under the Medicare Services Act.

Check out his website if you're interested in obtaining a copy. Net proceeds go to charity.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on November 24, 2008 in Books | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Monday, September 22, 2008

“Shakedown” by Ezra Levant

Censorship50leaves_5 Amazon.ca is taking pre-orders for Ezra Levant’s new book Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights.

By “Our Government,” Levant is including the Harper Conservatives and Section 13 of the federal Canadian Human Rights Act which prohibits expressions of hate published online. And the “Shakedown” is coming from Canada’s provincial and federal human rights tribunals that prosecute thought crimes in order to encourage all of us to get along better.

The catalyst for the book, which will be released in March 2009, came as a result of an Alberta human right complaint directed at Levant and the Western Standard for the decision in March 2006 to publish cartoons depicting images of the Muslim prophet Muhammed.

In “What were we thinking?” Levant tells the inside story of why the Western Standard decided to publish the controversial cartoons--and the amazing things that happened after we did. Here’s an excerpt:

Editor Kevin Libin and I agreed: it was just one of those times when a fortnightly magazine wouldn't be able to move quickly enough. By the time the Western Standard would roll off the presses, every other daily newspaper and weekly magazine in the country would have already printed the Danish cartoons that were the subject of riots around the Muslim world. If we were going to publish them after Maclean's, the National Post and the Sun chain did, we'd have to take a different, more reflective approach--not to put the cartoons on the cover as a bold statement of freedom, as the others surely would. We would analyze how the media responded to the implied threats of violence from radical Muslims, we would look at how agents provocateurs used the cartoons to whip up riots in Iran, Pakistan and Syria to serve their own political ends, and we would reveal how the Muslim world itself has depicted Mohammed throughout the ages.

That was the plan, anyways. Of course, Maclean's, the Post and the Sun didn't publish the cartoons. As we came closer to our production deadline, it dawned on us that no large-circulation publication and no TV station in the country had done so, and none would. We'd be the first.

Being first meant Levant and the Western Standard drew international criticism (and equal parts praise) as well as a human rights complaint from Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy.

This human rights complaint, which has recently been withdrawn, and other battles for free speech and a free press have occupied much of Levant’s time and energy since. While currently on hiatus in order to campaign for the Conservatives, Levant’s blog has become a daily must read for free speech advocates.

Shakedown will also be a must read for anyone concerned with the erosion of free speech in Canada.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on September 22, 2008 in Books | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Ric Dolphin Writes Again

Although loath to use another of those horrible words  concocted by the geeks  who, sadly, have inherited the world, there seems to be no avoiding it. I now have a "blog" which I shall endeavor to update at least every Monday and which you are invited to visit at, ricdolphin.com
Be aware that, unlike when I wrote for Western Standard magazine, I am not being  censored for language. I am also not specifically writing about politics, although the subject may be broached on occasion.  Be assured, however, that I shall never  use "blog" as  a verb.

Posted by Ric Dolphin on July 9, 2008 in Aboriginal Issues, American History, Books, Canadian Conservative Politics, Canadian History, Canadian Politics, Canadian Provincial Politics, Crime, Current Affairs, Film, Humour, International Affairs, International Politics, Media, Military, Municipal Politics, Religion, Science, Television, Trade, Travel, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Western Standard, WS Radio, WStv | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Mark Steyn in Toronto

Mark Steyn gets out and about in Toronto to promote the new paperback of his US bestseller (and Canadian hate crime).

You can find a couple of accounts of his Indigo/Chapters appearance here, here and here

Posted by Winston on May 8, 2008 in Books, Media, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Book review: Liberal Fascism, by Jonah Goldberg

Liberal_2 Conservatives are used to leftists calling them fascists. In his new book, Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg reveals that the true fascists in our midst just might be on the left side of the political spectrum. In an interview with Western Standard radio, Goldberg discussed his book and also delved more deeply into matters of political philosophy. This review, titled "Does liberalism equal fascism?", is based not only on Liberal Fascism, but also on the answers its author gave in response to some concerns the interviewers had with his book.

An excerpt:

"Goldberg is not calling all liberals--and certainly not all modern liberals--Nazis. However, his book does describe many of the ideas American liberals favour--from Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal to the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson--as examples of fascism. Fascism with a friendly face, perhaps, but as authentically fascist (in their own way) as Adolph Hitler, who according to Goldberg should be considered a 'man of the left.'

Goldberg agreed that Canada was an example of liberal fascism--the fascism that comes with a friendly face. ...Modern conservatism, liberalism, and fascism each attempt to bring about a heaven here on Earth. A different heaven in each case, for sure, but each its own picture of a timeless, unquestionable (and ultimately inevitable) state of perfection.

Those who stand in the way of the end of history should be marginalized and demolished. In Canada, this impulse to immanentize the eschaton takes the form of hate speech laws that aim to completely eliminate racists from society but are now being used to stifle legitimate debate about, for instance, radical Islam..."


Posted by westernstandard on March 5, 2008 in Books | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Liberal Fascism Finally Arrives in Canada

Chapters-Indigo's site is down at the moment, but - as of a few hours ago - Jonah Goldberg's new book, Liberal Fascism, has finally hit Canadian shelves.  There were five copies listed as in-stock at the Coles store at Lougheed Mall in Coquitlam, BC.  I'm guessing that stock at the rest will arrive and be set up tomorrow or the day after, since books tend to arrive company-wide when ordered.

Perhaps someone might ask our nation's monopoly bookseller why it took the better part of a month for them to get a New York Times-bestselling book onto their shelves.  They don't seem to have any trouble stocking the other side's books.  But, as I recall, they did have some difficulties with Mark Steyn's last opus.  For that matter, they had their issues with the print version of this magazine.

Now, I'm a long-time Chapters customer (well, I'd pretty much have to be, wouldn't I?) - but I don't think that it can be denied that there's always a certian liberal bias in which books they stock, which they discount, and which they display.  As a private business, of course, that's their right.  However, one has to wonder if such behaviour is appropriate for a company which holds an effective monopoly on book retailing in this country (at least, a bookstore monopoly).  I'm not free to just go to the local Barnes and Noble, after all (though, it should be said, that the Barnes and Noble in Bellingham didn't have it in stock last night either - said they were sold out - and that the girl at the counter gave me a real look when I asked after it). 

Posted by Adam T. Yoshida on January 30, 2008 in Books | Permalink | Comments (24) | TrackBack

Monday, December 17, 2007

Boycotting Canada

California based radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt is to boycott Canada. Why? Because Canada's Human Rights Commission, a tool of socialists' oppression, wants to silence Mark Steyn:

Posted by Winston on December 17, 2007 in Books, Canadian Politics, Current Affairs, Media, Religion | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fmr. Ambassador Bolton

A very descriptive/informative read about the former US ambassador John Bolton's semi-press conference during his recent book tour in the States.

Posted by Winston on December 16, 2007 in Books, International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Book of the week

As of this week, I'll try to introduce a new book on politics, current affairs or general interests on a weekly basis. This week book is of US Ambassador John Bolton called "Surrender Is Not an Option" which is a neat testimony to the uselessness of the United Nations and US State Department, unfortunately. Loss of John Bolton was a big one for the US and those who care about freedom and security of the western civilization.

KRLA870.com radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt had a 2hr long interview with Ambassador Bolton: Listen to the interview Part One and Part Two

Posted by Winston on November 6, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (80) | TrackBack

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Talking to terrorists

You've just gotta love the premise of WorldNetDaily Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein's new book, Smoozing with Terrorists, in which he rounds up Middle Eastern terrorist leaders and asks them, among other things, to comment upon the utterances of high-profile liberal activists in the U.S.

The headline on WorldNetDaily's story about the book pretty much says it all: "Terrorists disclose: We LOVE liberals!"

I wonder what the terrorists would say about Jack Layton.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on September 19, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Powering down

A battle of the books, children's style, is underway with today's publication of The Sky's Not Falling!: Why It's Ok to Chill About Global Warming by Holly Fretwell. According to the publicity, this is the counterpoint to the Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming by Laurie David, estranged wife of Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld. The blurb on the latter reads, "Engagingly designed, DOWN TO EARTH will educate and empower. . ." It doesn't exactly say who is being empowered. I haven't seen the book, but I hope it isn't too gloomy. Having the poop scared out of you by being told, say, that the world will burn up if you don't turn off your night light doesn't seem very empowering to me. Or maybe it will give kids the sense of controlling the world. hmmm. (btw, in case you haven't caught the latest on "empowerment," here's Onion Radio News: Women Now Empowered By Everything A Woman Does.)

Posted by Kevin Steel on September 18, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The son also philosophizes

His brother Justin is in politics now, but Alexandre Trudeau also apparently wants some of the spotlight, and so has written a new foreword to his famous father Pierre's 1960 book, Two Innocents in China. As the Calgary Sun's Paul Jackson sees it today, Alexandre shows himself to be a worthy member of the Trudeau temple of moral relativism, naivety, and outright stupidity.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on August 21, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Public Service No. 1

51pesvhcvl_ss500_ Toronto Star: Exposé makes lawyer Public Enemy No. 1 on Philip Slayton's Lawyers Gone Bad: Money, Sex and Madness in Canada's Legal Profession:

"Inside, Slayton highlights some of the key themes in his book: unethical business practices, bill padding and a lack of regulation."

Actually, the Star appears to have used the wrong headline. Public enemy? Lawyers, in this situation, are not the public. They are the special interest being exposed. Sounds like Slayton's doing the public a service, though I haven't read the book. At any rate, after I read the criticisms of the various bar associations, the one line that came to mind  is "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Busted.

Posted by Kevin Steel on August 2, 2007 in Books | Permalink | Comments (65) | TrackBack

Thursday, April 19, 2007

John O'Sullivan book launch in Calgary

The Western Standard is pleased to welcome British author John O’Sullivan to Calgary, to promote his book The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister.  We’d like to invite everyone to participate in the event, taking place Thursday, April 26th, from Noon til 1:30p.m. 

O’Sullivan is a prolific journalist currently presiding as editor-at-large of the National Review.  His new book, subtitled “Three who Changed the World”, describes the lives of Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and Margaret Thatcher.  Drawing on his own personal interviews, O’Sullivan brilliantly captures the unlikely ascent of each character, focusing on the schism between a ‘liberating’ counterculture and their own personal convictions.

The Standard will be co-hosting the event with McNally Robinson Bookstore at their Stephen Avenue location (120 8th Avenue S.W.)

Posted by Patrick McGee on April 19, 2007 in Books, International Politics, Western Standard | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Friday, February 23, 2007

Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Toronto

My favorite infidel Ayaan Hirsi Ali will be here in Toronto next wednesday 28th of Feb. 2007, at Indigo books and music store at Bay & Bloor.

Posted by Winston on February 23, 2007 in Books, Religion | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hard to Love

A quote from the book "Poets & Pahlevans" by Marcello Di Cintio of Calgary, Alberta, talking about the urge among majority of Iranian youths to leave Iran due to economic or political pressures.

It's a good read for those Canadians who really want to know more about what is going on inside a country where people have lost their hope to live and love, yet they use every available opportunity to stay in touch with the civilized world. And it's also an important read for those Canadians who tend to ignore the suffering of other people.

Posted by Winston on January 31, 2007 in Books, Travel | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ted rides again

It appears that Alberta publishing legend and Western Standard columnist Ted Byfield has managed to resurrect his Christian History Project. The publishing venture went broke almost a year ago after publishing the sixth volume in a series that was originally slated to be about two dozen long, but ended up aiming for a more modest dozen before going under.

Byfield has now sent a letter to buyers of the original series, informing them that a new non-profit organization, the Society to Explore and Record Christian History (SEARCH), has purchased the assets of the old company and is in the process of "raising sufficient funding to finish the job." He says the society is aiming to produce Volume 7 in November 2007, "and the last five books, one every five months thereafter."

Ted writes that he is remaining as general editor, "with much the same editorial staff" as the old project. Interestingly, when the old company went under, it owed a fair bit of money to at least one writer. I wonder if the old entity, which now presumably has some cash in its coffers thanks to the above-mentioned purchase of its assets, will pay off these old debts.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on November 30, 2006 in Books | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Iran's Hostage Crisis

4th of November is the 27th anniversary of the take over of the US embassy and personnel in Tehran by the militant Islamic students and I just finished reading Guests of the Ayatollah yesterday. (more)

Canadians may even be surprised to find out that some American hostages were rescued by the Canadian embassy in Tehran and later escaped the country with their help.

The book was also most painful and heart-breaking story I have ever read about Americans hostages in Iran and it gives you a good insight about the mistreatment of Americans in the hand of those bastard students. I'd recommend it.

This link takes you to the web site prepared by a former US Marine who was in the area of operation during hostage rescue attempt in April 1980.

Posted by Winston on November 4, 2006 in Books, International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

For 'progressives'

A review in the October New Criterion "Into the whirlwind" by Daniel Mahoney (reg. required) of From the Gulag to the Killing Fields: Personal Accounts of Political Violence and Repression in Communist States edited by Paul Hollander (a Publisher's Book Pick in our Sept. 11, '05 issue). Here's a review excerpt:

Rooted in what Hollander suggestively calls the “violence of higher purpose,” the misdeeds of Communism do indeed get something of a free pass in “advanced” intellectual circles. It is certainly the case that the record is available for all those who wish to know it. Many had hoped, and even expected, that a broader public and scholarly recognition of the Soviet Union as a practitioner of state violence and repression on a truly unprecedented scale would follow the fall of Communism and would lead to its permanent discrediting. This has not come to pass. Instead, in academic circles, Communist regimes are often presented as having engaged in flawed but legitimate attempts at promoting rapid economic modernization and greater social equity...

If this book has a single lesson, it is that “progress” justifies nothing. From the abstract “love of humanity” flows limitless contempt for actual human beings. In the powerful words of Yakovlev: “What gives one group of people the right to sentence to death civil society, or popular custom centuries in the making?”

Posted by Kevin Steel on October 11, 2006 in Books | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Friday, April 07, 2006

Pierre, we hardly knew ye

A new book, Young Trudeau: 1919-1944, Son of Quebec, Father of Canada, reveals that a young Pierre Trudeau belonged to a secret society that favoured the creation of a monocultural, independent Quebec. The Globe and Mail's story on the book goes so far as to use the expression "pro-fascist" to describe the young Mr. Trudeau's leanings.

Well, at least he wasn't a communist (yet?).

Anyway, this would finally seem to explain the old story about Trudeau's being seen wearing a vintage German army helmet while riding around rural Quebec on his motorcycle during the Second World War.

One is also reminded of the controversy involving Jean-Louis Roux, who was forced to resign as Quebec's Governor-General in 1996 after it was revealed "he pencilled a swastika on his medical lab coat and took part in an anti-conscription demonstration with anti-Semitic overtones" during the war. See Maclean's story on the affair here.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on April 7, 2006 in Books | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The West's Last Chance

I shouldn't have read it before going to sleep last night. It made me so angry - I nearly threw the book across the room! And that was only the first chapter.

Tony Blankley's The West's Last Chance infuriated me. His first chapter was a hypothetical - a worst case scenario - of life in Europe and America in 2007. Blankley was prescient when he wrote the book in 2005, because in his hypothetical, the instituting of Sharia law in Europe was a direct result of protest against 'religiously offensive art.' Wow. Seeing as the book went to print in July - before the cartoons first appeared in the Jyllends Posten - it's quite impressive that he included such a similiar idea as part of his opening chapter.

If I were a conspiracy theorist... but I'm not.

He writes:

The results of these deliberations were presented as a reasonable series of compromises. Permanent, multi-denominational commissions were established to review current and proposed artwork in public venues, with a view toward removal of those considered offensive to the public taste, or to a substantial minority of the public. Many of the statues that had been removed from public streets for protective reasons never reappeared. In their place, municipalities put abstract statuary, including new works freshly commissioned from Muslim artists.

Most museums were reorganized so that Muslims could enter and view works of interest, such as landscapes and Islamc exhibits, wihtout being exposed to idolatrous or sacrilegious art. In the process, many seconday paintings, primarily of interest to scholars and connoisseurs, were simply never rehung or displayed. They quietly disappeared into storage, where only serious researchers were permitted to see them.

Some extremists remained unsatisfied with these measures. They pressed for further restrictions, with seperate days for men and women to attend museums and cultural events.

This is just a small part of it. I am eagerly awaiting my lunch break to devour not only a sandwich, but at least a couple more chapters of this intriguing book.

Posted by RightGirl on February 23, 2006 in Books | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Cool Christmas Present

Thanks to my co-blogger at Girl on the Right, and frequest commenter here at The Shotgun, MustControlFistOfDeath, for getting me Rescuing Canada's Right, by The Shotgun's Adam Daifallah (and Tasha Kheiriddin) for Christmas. Cozy little family here, aren't we?

Posted by RightGirl on December 21, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rescuing Canada's Right

Tasha Kheiriddin is in Vancouver today doing promo for our new book, Rescuing Canada's Right. She'll be on the Bill Good radio show this morning. WS readers may remember the essay we wrote last year in the magazine by the same name. The book is an extrapolation of the themes explored in that article, plus much more.

I hope you'll all consider getting a copy. It makes a great Christmas present, and at Amazon.ca the price has been discounted by a third! Also, check out Paul Jackson's column from yesterday's Calgary Sun. You can read the book's introduction free online here.


Posted by Adam Daifallah on December 7, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, October 03, 2005

If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao

On the New Criterion site, "Mao & the Maoists" by Keith Windschuttle which is largely a review of Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday (to be released in Canada on Oct. 18). The book and article are a debunking of Communist heroism on the Long March as presented to the world back in ye dayes of auld by journalist Edgar Snow. I can't help but wonder if Canada's Norman Bethune myths are somewhere being prepared for the chopping block. Windschuttle I best remember for his Steinbeck's myth of the Okies, where he tore apart the cliché ridden, maudlin Grapes of Wrath. Windschuttle is author of the 2000 book The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past.

Posted by Kevin Steel on October 3, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Setting the record straight

Exactly one year to the day after my book Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal came off the presses, the Globe and Mail has finally mentioned it. Today their "Buzz" columnist, Patricia Best, dedicates the first five paragraphs of her column to my book. She notes that Peter Newman's anti-Brian Mulroney tome, The Secret Mulroney Tapes, get "prime bookshelf real estate" at Chapters and Indigo but that if someone was looking for a critical book about the last Liberal prime minister, specifically mine, it is nowhere to be found at Canada's mega bookchain. Best says:

"Is it merely a coincidence that Chapters-Indigo is owned and headed by Liberal Party fundraisers and stalwarts Gerry Schwatz and Heather Reisman?

A spokeswoman from Chapters-Indigo says she believes the reason the book's not for sale through her company is that it was not 'presented' to the buying department by the publisher. Strangely, though, Legacy of Scandal is readily available on Amazon.ca."

I have often been asked if the political bias of Indigo-Chapters' owner Heather Reisman is the reason for Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal not being available in either the bricks-and-mortar stores or online. Sad to say, it isn't. The simple reason that the book is not available through Chapters or Indigo is that the company's terms are prohibitive for small publishers: they want to pay a mere 40% of the retail price (and sometimes less), won't pay a cent for the books until 6-8 months after they sell their first copy of the book and want the right to return unsold books less than a year after they receive the first order. (Note: the 40% takes into effect Chapters-Indigo's percentage as not just wholesalers but as distributors.) The problem is, as I've already said, these terms make it impossible for small publishers to make a profit -- the little capital they have is put into the physical production of a book that they won't see payment for until at least half-a-year later. Some publishers are willing to do that for exposure but some, including Freedom Press (Canada) Inc., are not.

While Chapters-Indigo's policy is not censorship, it has the effect of censoring views that are slightly out of the mainstream. Their policy makes it difficult for authors, both left and right, who are forced to use smaller publishers because the larger publishing houses are unwilling to take a chance on new author or veer far from a fairly narrow political spectrum of acceptable views and topics (or even those who merely prefer to use smaller publishers), to reach a mass audience. This is not a complaint, just a fact of life. And I wanted to set the record straight that there is not a nefarious Liberal plot to keep my book out of the hands of Canadians.

Posted by Paul Tuns on September 27, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Sunday, August 21, 2005

My review of Freakonomics

My review of Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything was published in today's Halifax Herald (it can also be read at Sobering Thoughts). Freakonomics has garnered a lot attention because of Levitt's "finding" that Roe v. Wade reduced America's crime rates despite the fact that his treatment of this issue takes up only seven pages in a book of 242 pages. Like other reviewers, I focused on the abortion-crime link:

"Leave aside two serious problems - the correlation equals causation fallacy, and the fact that Levitt doesn't prove that unwanted children are more likely to commit crime - Levitt's thesis fails an important methodological test.

As journalist Steve Sailer has demonstrated (and debated with the author), Levitt ignored the crime wave of the early 1990s by examining crime rates only in the years 1985 and 1997, thus missing a spike in crime that correlated with the crack epidemic in the intervening years.

Another problem is that Levitt looked only at crime rates, not crime rate by age. If he had done so he would have found that for the first post-Roe generation, the rate hadn't fallen at all. Furthermore, it grew significantly among the black population despite the fact that blacks are three times more likely to abort a pregnancy than whites.

In other words, Levitt only examined some of the data. Whether or not he did so intentionally one cannot know, but it seems strange that Levitt makes no effort to engage these criticisms in his book. The fact that he didn't may demonstrate that he can't refute them."

For this section I relied heavily on Steve Sailer's work which can be found here, here and here.

Levitt's examination of the abortion-crime link is indicative of both his interests (addressing non-economic using economic analysis) and his style ("Levitt has written a provocative book and like many provocateurs, he asks questions and finds answers that are always counterintuitive but not always correct (the abortion-crime link) or not necessarily demonstrably correct").

Overall, the book never rises above the level of being really neat. I conclude the review:

"Freakonomics is an interesting book. As the English say, it's a good read. Whether or not it is useful is another issue entirely.

If mere entertainment is an incentive to buying a book on economics, by all means purchase Freakonomics. But if utility is the motivation for your reading, you might be better off skipping Levitt's first offering."

I say that in all seriousness. It was, at times thought-provoking, but rarely persuasive. It argued for asking questions and answering those questions with economic analysis, but did not instruct the reader on how to do this. If any economics book can be considered beach reading, this is it, and indeed I have seen more than one person reading Freakonomics at the beach.

Posted by Paul Tuns on August 21, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Return Of A Feminist Nutbar

I had (blissfully) forgotten all about Catharine A. MacKinnon, the demented ultra-radical feminist law professor who has equated marriage (the institution) with rape (the violent crime). Alas, she has emerged from her cloistered hideaway at the University of Michigan Law School to once again inflict her totalitarian views on readers. Here's an excerpt from a blurb on her new book, Women's Lives, Men's Laws:

"By making visible the deep gender bias of existing law, MacKinnon has recast legal debate and action on issues of sex discrimination, sexual abuse, prostitution, pornography, and racism. The essays in this volume document and illuminate some of the momentous and ongoing changes to which this work contributes; the recognition of sexual harassment, rape, and battering as claims for sexual discrimination; the redefinition of rape in terms of women's actual experience of sexual violation; and the reframing of the pornography debate around harm rather than morality. The perspectives in these essays have played an essential part in changing American law and remain fundamental to the project of building a sex-equal future."

A "sex-equal future"? I shudder to think what that might actually mean to someone like MacKinnon who believes that sexism and racism permeate every level of American society. Here's a passage from her book (from here, Adobe Acrobat required):

"[Over the last 30 years] sexual abuse, found commonplace and effectively widely condoned by laws against it, began to be understood as a systemic form of sex discrimination. Pornography was unmasked as a practice of misogyny masquerading as a constitutional entitlement to freedom of expression. Prostitution was exposed as a violation of the human rights of the prostituted misconceived as a crime they committed. The racism and sexism of law and society emerged as often mutually constituting."

But then something changed, she wrote, and

"The expendability of those used by the pornography industry was the new bottom line, dividing the politics of abolishing male dominance from doing better under it."

At least she unmasked herself. She is all about "abolishing male dominance," whatever that means. Here's a separate passage in the same chapter in which she deliberately misrepresents a Supreme Court ruling to make it fit into her argument:

"To illustrate, United States v. Morrison's adjudication of the constitutionality of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), substantively interpreted, is about male dominance in physical relations between the sexes, specifically about the state’s position on and in the exercise of physical force by men over and against women. Interpreting the doctrine of federalism to hold that intimate violence was necessarily under state not federal jurisdiction provided abstract cover for finding the VAWA unconstitutional."

No, no, no. When the high court found that the offending provisions of VAWA were unconstitutional, it reasoned that "violence" is not "commerce," and therefore the Interstate Commerce Clause in the Constitution cannot be used to give Congress jurisdiction over the subject matter in the legislation. And what's this about the doctrine of federalism providing "abstract cover for finding the VAWA unconstitutional"? Is she saying the high court is filled with misogynistic male judges who conspired against women? I find it amazing enough that law students actually pay money to be indoctrinated by this intellectual dwarf, but what really blows my mind is that MacKinnon has such a wide following among legal scholars.

<cross-posted here>

Posted by Matthew Vadum on July 15, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Sunday, July 10, 2005

My review of Harper bio

I review William Johnson's Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada in today's Halifax Herald. It think it was a quite fair biography of the Conservative leader -- Johnson admits as much in his final pages when he says he is highlighting Harper's strengths because his weaknesses are well-known -- but there is nothing new or exciting in it. That said, it should demonstrate to the open-minded that Harper is not nearly as scary as the Globe and Mail and CBC portray him to be; the problem, however, is that few who are not already Conservative supporters are likely to buy and read this 418-page book. Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada is an important book for anyone with an interest in the history of the conservative movement in Canada although I doubt it will do much to affect the current political scene.

I noted one major flaw in Johnson's book:

"If Johnson's book suffers a serious flaw, it is his focus on Quebec and obsession with the national unity question. Certainly a man who once led a federalist lobby group within Quebec is prone to excessive consideration of the influence that province has on federal politics. But viewing Harper almost solely through the prism of Quebec warps Johnson's image of the Conservative leader. It leaves the impression that Harper was obsessed with the Quebec issue when, in fact, it is the author who is."

But as I say in the review, considering Johnson's recent jobs -- president of Alliance Quebec and the federalist Quebec voice in the Globe and Mail -- it is an understandable flaw even if it does a minor disservice to Stephen Harper.

Posted by Paul Tuns on July 10, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Monday, June 27, 2005

How to acquire an instant library

In view of the "meme" that's been making the rounds of the blogosphere, see this offer from Penguin via Amazon to acquire the Penguin Library of 1082 titles in paperback, here.

(Cross-posted to Burkean Canuck).

Posted by Russ Kuykendall on June 27, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

10 books with a positive influence

Human Events has a list of the 10 most dangerous books from the 19th and 20th century. Over at Sobering Thoughts I have my list of the 10 books that best influenced the 20th century (including my reasons). Here's the list without my reasons:

1. The Gulag Archipelago -- Aleksander Solzhenitsyn
2. The Road to Serfdom -- F.A. Hayek
3. Bureaucracy -- Ludwig von Mises
4. The Theology of the Body According to John Paul II: Human Love in the Divine Plan
5. Smoking and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General -- Surgeon General's Office
6. Mere Christianity -- C.S. Lewis
7. God and Man at Yale -- William F. Buckley
8. Capitalism and Freedom -- Milton Friedman
9. Orthodoxy -- G.K. Chesterton
10. Natural Right and History - Leo Strauss

Posted by Paul Tuns on May 31, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (30) | TrackBack

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Case for Democracy

I've reviewed it for the Halifax Herald. The whole review can be read here but this is the central point of Sharansky's short book and my review:

"In one of the more personal and insightful passages of The Case for Democracy, Sharansky notes that behind the Iron Curtain, Henry Kissinger's policy of detente was disdained by dissidents because it bolstered an immoral system that otherwise might have collapsed. Contrarily, Sharansky and his fellow political prisoners 'were ecstatic' when news that Ronald Reagan had called the Soviet Union 'the evil empire' had spread through the prison as dissidents tapped on walls and talked through toilets to get the word around. Sharansky said they cheered the fact that 'finally, the leader of the free world had spoken the truth - a truth that burned inside the heart of each and every one of us.'

For Sharansky realized within those prison walls that the world was not divided by ideology (communist and capitalist) or geopolitics (Soviet and American) but between those willing to confront evil and those who were not. That division exists today with the communism replaced by a another totalitarian threat, Islamofascism."

Everything else -- what is a free and what is a fear society, what is happening with Israel and the Palestinians territories -- is secondary to his argument that those in the West, especially the United States, must confront evil and today that evil is terrorism.

Posted by Paul Tuns on May 15, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Saul Bellow, RIP

Saul Bellow was one of the two best fiction writers of the past 60 years -- and I mean no insult by that. He died yesterday at the age of 89.
Bellow once asked, "Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus? The Proust of the Papuans?" and he was roundly castigated for elitism and racism. Shame, really. I would guess that one reason Bellow is not recognized -- and will not be recognized -- for his literary near-genius is that made such politically incorrect comments, and often. He won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction only after winning the Nobel Prize for literature which as the essayist Joseph Epstein noted must have been like drinking a cold cup of coffee. Still, he seems to have been punished by the Pulitzer committee for not holding the right views.
The New York Times obit certainly takes a dig at Bellow for his impolitic views but perhaps they have scores to settle; in 1990, Bellow noted in an essay, "We have no use for most of the information given by the New York Times," and added that the Sunday edition is impossible to read. Could the Times be that petty or were his politics that odious to them? Honesty, Bellow remarked in 1992, cannot be tolerated ("You can lie and be rewarded, you can fake and be elected president, but telling people what is obviously true will not be tolerated") so the elite who direct/control literary opinion would never truly warm to Bellow's writing. (Of Bellow's inciteful insight, my favourite was from a series of essays he penned for Newsday during the Six-Day War in which he noted that:

"A negligible percentage of the oil royalties of Kuwait would have paid for the rehabilitation of the Palestinian Arabs. So would have the billions spent on two campaigns in the Sinai. So would the Suez Canal tolls."

Bellow once wrote about a California professor who had said that the average New York Times contained more information than any contemporary of Shakespeare would have acquired in a lifetime, but that he, Bellow, "suspect[ed] that an educated Elizabethan was less confused by what he knew." Bellow seldom seemed confused although he enjoyed exploring paradox and would often not come down one side or another. This seems strange for a man (a writer, for heaven's sake) with strong opinions. But such apparent ambivalence in his books were a result of him exploring in general ways the themes encapsulated in this truth from a 1960 Bellow essay:

"The enormous increases in population seem to have dwarfed the individual. So have modern physics and astronomy. But we may be somewhere between false greatness and false insignificance. At least we can stop misrepresenting ourselves to ourselves and realize that the only thing we can be in this world is human. We are temporarily miracle-sodden and feeling faint."

To the degree that you find this statement true, or at least an accurate reflection of life in the late-mid 20th Century, you will enjoy his books. Although he gave up serious writing in recent years (Ravelstein was mediocre), those who did enjoy his books will miss him greatly.

(Cross-posted at Sobering Thoughts)

Posted by Paul Tuns on April 5, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Friday, March 11, 2005

Quote Unquote

I'm reading it in patches and not enjoying all of it--parts of the prologue read like a ratta-tat-tat war yarn a half-cut college professor might spin in the graduate bar at 1 AM trying to pick up a coed ("Still, on that moonlit dark night of my soul, I became charged with a sense of purpose." At age 10? kewl)--but there is much worth reading in Peter C. Newman's autobiography Here Be Dragons: Telling Tales of People, Passion, and Power.

My favourite quote so far I happened across while researching Paul Desmarais Sr. for the cover story "The Scandal Spills North" (which will be posted online on Monday). It follows a section on Desmarais, segueing into another on G. Scott Paterson; from Chapter 15 "The Spy Who Came Into The Fold" pg. 518, hardcover McClelland and Stewart c. 2004;

"The Canadian establishment exerts its veto power stealthily, far below the radar. Such incidents are difficult to document, and impossible to prove. Yet they must be brought to light if accountability--let alone a genuine open free market--is to mean anything."

Posted by Kevin Steel on March 11, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Monday, February 21, 2005

...And the hunter home from the hill

A weblog called "The Shotgun" cannot fail to take somber note of the suicide of Hunter S. Thompson, a journalist universally admired for his astonishing palette and stylistic bravery by brethren of all political species.  I have some further thoughts, as do eminences of the weblog world ranging from Tim Blair to James Lileks to Ken Layne to Steve Sailer.

Posted by Colby Cosh on February 21, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Monday, February 14, 2005

Another shameless plug

Two items to report about my book Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal.

First, if any readers will be in Ottawa on Friday, February 18, I'm going to be signing books in room in 356 S in the Senate Building from 12-2:30 in the afternoon. It is an open invitation so I hope to meet a few of you there.

Second, Freedom Press (Canada) Inc., will refund S&H charges this week only when you order Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal. If you order by mail, don't bother adding the $5 shipping and handling fee but please send a note to the effect that you are taking advantage of the February special (marking Chretien's performance before the Gomery Inquiry last week). If you order at the website, Freedom Press will reimburse you with a cheque when they send the book. (Why not just take it off the price? Apparently the way Paypal is set up, such promotions are not easy to do.) And while many of you will know why Chretien was a sleaze bag, the book makes a great gift for those who need reminding about the arrogance of the Liberal Party.

Posted by Paul Tuns on February 14, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More on Arthur Miller

Let's beat a dead horse, so to speak. In a comment to an earlier post on Arthur Miller, P.J. Jaworski commented:

"Miller was a great playwright, even if you and Teachout don't think so. Unless you have some very good reasons to think otherwise, the rest of us might prefer to accept the general consensus amongst those who would know about such things. In this case, Miller is considered a great playwright. And I don't think you've offered good reasons to think otherwise."

Here are some reasons, then, and none of them are political.

I think that Death of a Salesman is a good play but not a great play. It is over-rated perhaps because two generations of students have read it in high school and remember it nostalgically as their first serious play other than Shakespeare. I also believe that a good many people think they like Death of a Salesman because they have been indoctrinated to believe they should. But even at that, the literary critic Harold Bloom doesn't even include Death of a Salesman in his Western Canon.

My bone of contention is with the idea that Miller was a great author/playwright. One good play does not a great playwright make. Consider his other works (if you can name one). Miller's novel Focus is the story of Lawrence Newman, an anti-Semite living in Brooklyn in the 1940s. Later in life he begins to wear glasses and, looking Jewish, becomes the victim of anti-Semitism himself. It has a wonderful plot and interesting characters but it is written as if rendered by a high school student and one wishes that Bernard Malamud had instead written this story. Incident at Vichy has been rightly criticized as nihilistic and is more Sartrean than Sartre. But aside from its ideas, Incident at Vichy is lousily written; it doesn't have characters, it has stereotypes. While Vichy is more existential than I would like, I acknowledge that it explores important concepts of moral responsibility. Unfortunately, like Focus, it is not well executed.

Let's consider The Crucible, ostensibly about the Salem witch trials. Miller denied at the time that it was about Senator Joseph McCarthy but in recent years told The Guardian that it was all about McCarthy. It might have been but the research for this play involved reading two (large) volumes of the Salem witch trials. Some historians have criticized parts of The Crucible for being little more than edited versions of the trials. That is not to say that The Crucible may be partly plagiarized, but is that the mark of a great writer? Take the criticism, though, for what its worth. Neither do I have a problem, as some critics at the time of The Crucible's release did, with Miller raising the age of Abigail Williams or reducing the number of women facing trial for witchcraft. Such liberties and condensing is sometimes necessary in art. In fact, I think it can help one understand the story. But by injecting a romantic (and adulterous) subplot to the story, Miller stands in the way of better understanding of why the Salem witch trials took place; it wasn't about revenge by a jealous lover. Indeed, Miller never seriously explores why the witch hunts occurred. One liberty I don't appreciate is Miller's misrepresenting why Massachusetts moved away from executing suspected witches. It was not an act of moral clarity but a legal question about the reliability of "spectral evidence." That said, The Crucible is perhaps Miller's most consistent work; but unlike Death of a Salesman or even Incident at Vichy, it is dull. Whatever interest this play has stems from its subject and not in anything Miller adds to it.

Or take All My Sons (please), considered among Miller's better works. I'm sorry but the denouement is unconvincing; Joe Keller kills himself because "a man can't be a Jesus in the world" but Keller doesn't believe Jesus is relevant to his life. Too much of Keller's character is unrevealed to make the ending credible and thus it is unsatisfying at worst, dishonest at best. Furthermore, like Philip Roth and Portnoy's Complaint, I'm not sure that Miller understood his own artistic creation. The conflict in All My Sons is not Joe Keller's but his son Chris' as he tries to reconcile who he is and who he wants to be. Keller's suicide is dramatic but pointless; this may be tragedy but it is tragedy for tragedy sake and the result is that All My Sons is terribly unrealistic.

Then there is The Fall and After, considered by some critics to be better than Death of a Salesman. The only surpassing that The Fall and After does in comparison to Death of a Salesman is that Quentin rises to the heights that Willy Loman aspired to -- and beyond. Miller makes some valid observations about man's longing for acceptance, although I think Miller went beyond that and implied acceptance was a human necessity as much as food and shelter. But Miller has trouble turning this deeply personal story of Quentin's self-actualization into anything resembling art. This autobiographical play has trouble becoming anything other than Miller's autobiographical play; no art, just Miller. (That said, Timebends: A Life, is one of the finest and least self-indulgent literary autobiographies I have ever read even if he skirts the issues surrounding being a communist sympathizer.)

I could go on specific work by specific work but won't. But one must consider two more general criticisms of Miller before pronouncing him among the great, both of which ultimately disqualify him as such. 1) I think it was Joseph Epstein who once said that the big problem for Miller is that he seldom establishes the credibility of his protagonists; with the exception of Death of a Salesman, this is true. Keller's motivation in All My Sons is unconvincing; Quentin's pretentious language in The Fall and After seems more Miller than the character and is incredibly self-indulgent. Second, consider Epstein's observation on enjoying books: "Part of the pleasure of reading is in the splendor of language properly deployed." Miller lacks that splendor. Harold Bloom said that Death of a Salesman did not hold him and he found himself reverting in his mind to the play rather than the book. That is, Miller isn't a great read. Furthermore, there is the question of Miller's usage. He was among the first serious authors to verb nouns (i.e. researching) which has been a terrible development in language over the past half-century. Also, Roger Shattuck complained that the playwright employed language much as the illiterate of children of the 1960s did (using depart as a transitive verb or using hanging out instead of hanging around). No "language properly deployed" around here.

What did Miller do well? Not that this is all that important, but what great line did Miller provide eternity? I would suggest just one: "Each man has his Jew; it is the other. And the Jews have their Jews." (Incident at Vichy) But even this was a rip-off of Albert Camus. Of Death of a Salesman, it's greatest achievement is to offer the obvious observation that tragedy can happen to plain folks as easily it can happen to kings and nobles. Thanks for the insight, Arthur. But it is an insight he wrote about masterfully in an essay, "Tragedy and the Common Man." At least Salesman was well-written and works well on stage. But other than Death of a Salesman, nothing in Miller's oeuvre could possibly pass what is the elemental test of good literature; Proust said he would rather spend time with a good book than a friend. Miller doesn't pass the test of putting any friend on the back-burner.

(Cross-posted at Sobering Thoughts)

Posted by Paul Tuns on February 14, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

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.

And I would be remiss if I did not include my own Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal. (Americans can order it through Barnes and Noble.)

(Cross-posted at Sobering Thoughts)

Posted by Paul Tuns on December 21, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Pamela Anderson's library

Here's a little somethign to satisfy the unofficial CanCon rule/expectation for The Shotgun: what Pamela Anderson is reading.

Star - by Pamela Anderson

Power of a Praying Woman - by Stormie Omartian

Siddhartha - by Herman Hesse

The Sermon on the Mount - by Emmet Fox

The One Year Bible...The entire Living Translation arranged in 365 daily readings - by TYNDALE

The Canadian-born star of VIP also provides a list of the books from her library, which is more like a single shelf of literary, spiritual, psychology and self-help books.

Posted by Paul Tuns on December 16, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Pierre Berton dead at 84

He died of heart failure in Toronto earlier today.   Whatever you think of his political views, the man did a lot to get Canadians insterested in their history, and for that he deserves our thanks.

Posted by Damian Penny on November 30, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Monday, November 29, 2004

Tuns on Linda McQuaig's latest book

My review of It's the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil, and the Fight for the Planet by Linda McQuaig appeared in today's Halifax Herald. It begins:

Linda McQuaig, a Toronto Star columnist, has a new book, It's the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil, and the Fight for the Planet, in which she makes the links that connects the war to North Americans' alleged addiction to oil. McQuaig connects the dots to make a persuasive case that George Bush fought a war in Iraq under the false pretense of fighting a war on terror to help Big Oil get its hands on the crude under the Middle East.

Persuasive but wrong. McQuaig is able to draw the picture she does because she is selective on which dots to connect and sometimes even draws in a few of her own to flesh it out a bit. The end result is a book that bears little impression to reality but looks a lot like the world that those on the left, such as McQuaig, think exist.

There are two great untruths McQuaig depends upon in her narrative, both of which are examples of her ignoring the existing dots and drawing new ones to complete her picture.

The problem for liberals, especially when it comes to the war for Iraq and the reason President George W. Bush may have been inclined to liberate the country, is that reality is, for them, optional. It shouldn't be, however, for publishers; shame on Doubleday Canada for releasing this piece of trash.

Posted by Paul Tuns on November 29, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The lesser-of-many-untold-evils theory

On the American Spectator site there is an interesting review by Paul J. Cella III of Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas [WS link to amazon.ca] by Daniel J. Flynn.

But what emerges as a central theme throughout this book is invincible loyalty, or frightful credulity, of many of the various charlatans' defenders. Chomsky, we learn, is the most cited writer on earth (according to one study). There is an Alger Hiss Professor of Social Studies at Bard College in New York. Rigoberta Menchu's thoroughly discredited autobiography is still assigned to undergraduates across the country as nonfiction. Men will go to their graves defending the indefensible.

Though I am just ordering the book now (go ahead and order it yourself in Canada using the above link and that way our magazine gets a little kickback which helps to keep the website going), and therefore haven't read it, it occurs to me that somewhere in all this we might find the real benefit of recently deceased Jacques Derrida's deconstructionism [RIP]; namely, it might have tangled up a whole lot intellectuals just long enough when they might have otherwise inflicted or unleashed worse ideas upon the earth. Keep them busy in the kitchen taking apart the toaster and that way they don't have time to go out to the garage and build a bomb.

Posted by Kevin Steel on October 20, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Saturday, October 02, 2004

My book's first media mention

The Toronto Sun writes about Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal. (No link so either buy the dead tree version of the Sun or check my blog at Sobering Thoughts). Michael Taube writes:

"This book is a thorough repudiation of the former prime minister?s decade of destruction. The author meticulously picks apart every aspect of the Chretien Liberals, from patronage appointments to political boondoggles. No stone is left unturned, and no scandal is left untouched."

Well that is very kind, even if I do know and sometimes write with Michael. A number of people have said to me, in a somewhat surprised voice, that Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal reads easily. Well, thanks. Now, I'm somewhat biased, but I think that everyone needs to understand that the real legacy of Chretien is the scandal of the endless, petty pursuit of power for the sake of power. As I note in one of the last chapters of the book, we are lucky that Chretien didn't want to do much with that power, because he and his office had a dangerous degree of control over our government. Taube captures the essence of this argument that scandal is more than patronage, cover-ups, pay-offs, etc..., but in the case of Chretien it was all for the purpose of keeping power. Adscam was bad enough as a mere waste of money; it was unconciousable as a method of maintaining a Liberal base of political power in Quebec.

Posted by Paul Tuns on October 2, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Friday, September 24, 2004

My last pitch for the weekend about my book

I may have mentioned that Freedom Press (Canada) Inc. has published my book Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal. Here are five reasons you should buy this book if you haven't already.

5. Ezra Levant's introduction. He slaps around Chretien in 800 words, getting the former prime minister ready for the lacerating treatment he's going to get in the next 200+ pages. Ezra's introduction is worth the price of the book alone.

4. As Gerry Nicholls of the NCC said when he saw the original manuscript, he couldn't believe all the scandals he had forgotten about. We must not forget the patronage, broken promises, lack of ministerial accountability, abuse of power, pay-offs to friends and the petty, personal pursuit of power that is Chretien's true legacy.

3. Lawrence Martin's Chretien's biography cannot be allowed to stand as the only history of the decade of Liberal rule.

2. I have a family to feed (a wife, three kids, another on the way) and I would rather not spunge off taxpayers.

1. Support the embryonic conservative infrastructure that has been discussed over the past three months following Adam Daifallah's National Post column on the subject. Let me explain: Freedom Press (Canada) Inc is a small, upstart publisher that seeks to give a voice to new conservative writers. Canada needs a conservative publishing house. By purchasing Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal you are helping to secure its viability; your are helping to ensure Canada has a Spence Publishing or Encounter Books. Second, Freedom Press (Canada) Inc is hoping to advertise in The Western Standard, Canada's premier conservative magazine. It needs to recoup some of its expenses for design, layout and its first run before it can do that. If enough of you buy my book, the dead tree parent of this blog will get advertising dollars.

The deal I have mentioned previously where you don't pay S&H ends Sunday. If you pay over the internet, you'll get a $5 reimbursement check; if you send it by mail, date the cheque no later than September 26 and just pay the $26.99.

Posted by Paul Tuns on September 24, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Friday, September 17, 2004

No telephone in heaven

Interesting little mystery story on the CBC site, Nfld. man telephones during own funeral. It's a bit like an anecdote Sam Spade might tell to his secretary in a Dashiell Hammett novel. Since it deals with that quintessentially Canadian situation--Newfoundlander lost in Toronto... with a twist--we can assume every CanCon novelist from Fogo to Tofino will be inspired to write a new grant proposal. I particularly like the reaction of the daughter, described by her uncle, brother of the "the-reports-of-my-death-have-been-greatly-exaggerated" non-deceased [italics mine]:

"This was Dane [her father] on the phone, so she actually thought that she was dead or talking to a ghost or something and just about lost her mind."

I wonder what inspired the sister to misidentify the body in the first place?

One of my favourite Carter Family songs is "No Telephone in Heaven." The lyrics tell the story of a young child going to the corner store to use the telephone to try to call her dead mother:

"My child," the merchant murmured as he stroked the anxious brow,
"No telephone connection where your mother lives at now."
"No telephone in heaven..." and a tear sprang in her eyes
"I thought God had everything with him up in the sky."

Posted by Kevin Steel on September 17, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Make money, not war

After learning that Yoko Ono had given Nike the permission to use John Lennon's image for a new shoe model, a Politiquébec forum member (Politiquébec is a great French-speaking discussion board on Québec politics) reacted by sarcastically suggesting that Nike adopt "make money, not war" as a slogan. I believe that, without necessarily doing it on purpose, he put the finger on a fundamental difference between the Left and the Right.

Whereas the Left, with slogans like "make love, not war", believes in the possibility of forging a new man that would have been liberated of all destructive pulsions and of all negative sentiments and that would be a model of kindness, goodwill and love, the Right is more skeptical about the possibility of changing human nature and prefers that this human nature, with its good sides as well as with its less good sides, be accepted for what it is and be harnessed to more constructive ends. Francis Fukuyama explains that ambition and the desire for recognition, which used to be satisfied through warring struggles, have been harnessed by modern capitalism to rather support the creation of wealth. "Make money, not war" is not a sexy slogan, but it works:

Prior to modern liberal democracy, the struggle for recognition was carried on by ambitious princes who sought primacy over each other through war and conquest. Indeed, Hegel's account of the human historical process began with a primordial "bloody battle" in which two combatants sought to be recognized by the other, leading one ultimately to enslave the other. Conflicts based on religious or nationalist passion are much more intelligible if understood as manifestations of the desire for recognition rather than rational desire or "utility maximization." Modern liberal democracy seeks to satisfy this desire for recognition by basing the political order on the principle of universal and equal recognition. But in practice, liberal democracy works because the struggle for recognition that formerly had been carried out on a military, religious, or nationalist plane is now pursued on an economic one. Where formerly princes sought to vanquish each other by risking their lives in bloody battles, they now risk their capital through the building of industrial empires. The underlying psychological need is the same, only the desire for recognition is satisfied through the production of wealth rather than the destruction of material values.

-- Fukuyama, Francis (1996) Trust: The social virtues and the creation of prosperity. New York: Free Press, pp. 359-360.

(Crossposted at Polyscopique)

Posted by Laurent Moss on August 31, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Friday, May 21, 2004

The Great Pumpkin smiles

A publisher has launched a series of books reprinting all of the Peanuts comic strips.

[Cross-posted by a "kite-eating tree" victim]

Posted by Rick Hiebert on May 21, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Returning to a favourite

Terry Teachout recently noted on his About Last Night blog, "As I mentioned the other day, I’m currently rereading W. Jackson Bate’s Samuel Johnson, something I do every year or two." What book(s), I am wondering, do Shotgun readers/contributors re-read every year or so? I have four: George F. Will's Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball, Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind, Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Easy Lesson and Pope John Paul II's encyclical Centesimus Annus. I also make it a point to re-read one of Joseph Epstein's collection of essays.

Posted by Paul Tuns on May 2, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Non-anonymous eponymous

Good article from James Marcus in the Washington Post: The boisterous world of online literary commentary is many things. But is it criticism? (requires reg. but if you go through the link at Arts and Letters Daily, where I found it, no reg. necessary). He relates some of his experience working for Amazon near its beginning, dealing with the avalanche of anonymous customer reviews.

He also makes this observation:

If only there were some way to combine the speed and democracy of the Web with the more meditative character of traditional criticism. Oh wait, there already is: blogging...But even those bloggers who never venture into print have something in common with their opposite numbers in the traditional media: a name to besmirch, a reputation to smudge. It keeps them honest in a way that anonymous, duck-and-cover reviewing never can. It also encourages a kind of snarky civility, very welcome in our polarized era.

Posted by Kevin Steel on April 14, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack