Sobering Thoughts

Comments on politics, the culture, economics and religion by Paul Tuns -- in short, everything about the human endeavour from a non-hyphenated conservative perspective. I am Toronto-based writer and editor, whose articles, columns and reviews have appeared in more than 35 publications. I am editor-in-chief of The Interim, Canada's life and family newspaper, author of Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal and a regular contributor to the book pages of the Halifax Herald.

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Thursday, September 30, 2004
 
Ingenious new political thinker on the block

Cameron Diaz tells Oprah Winfrey that if George W. Bush is re-elected because of the apathy of non-voting young women, rape could be legalized. This leads Mark Shea to describe Diaz as a "political scholar, social analyst and moral theologian."


 
The Speccie special conservatism issue

Incredible issue of The Spectator -- all about conservatives and conservatism including Mark Steyn explains why America is conservative, Patrick J. Buchanan argues that the Republican Party is not conservative, Oliver Letwin promises his Tories would deliver a low-tax England, Michael Gove says that conservatism speaks for regular people, and Daniel Kruger praises Roger Scruton as the thinking man's conservative.
Steyn's essay in great and if I posted the "best" quotes, 50% of his piece would be excerpted here, but I couldn't resist this one:
"Second Amendment conservatism is more secure and better integrated with the bespoke mainstream than it’s been in years. The government can’t tell you you’ve got to be on full alert and at the same time announce new restrictions on the right to defend yourself and your home."
Oliver Letwin wrote that Leviathan needs to be starved before it suffocates us:
"The bloated bureaucracy means that every nook and cranny of our day-to-day life is subject to regulation and control. When you have a Civil Service the size of a major city, when an extra 511 civil servants are recruited every week, when there are 15 new regulations every working day, the effect is to throw a huge and suffocating net over the social and economic life of this country."
Our religious leaders are appeasers in the war against the dual enemies of modernism and Islamofacsism. Kruger quotes Scruton on the need for the Church to do more; to do something:
"The Anglican Church is uncomfortable with evangelising. It has a nonconformist ring to it. But yes, the Church must be evangelical — no one is reaching out to young people but violent and criminal mullahs. I don’t know what the Church should be doing, really. But it should not be simply making concessions. It should be affirming the superiority of its message."


 
Quote of the Day

William Kristol on Fox News (as quoted by Hugh Hewitt): "The core of the Bush claim is 9/11, and the world changed, and the Democrats want to go back to 9/10."


 
The Debate

Boring. Dreadful to watch, which is good. My guess is that people began tuning out at 9:30. I think Kerry might have scored a point when he said that Osama bin Laden is a free man today because President George W. Bush was allegedly distracted from hunting him down by the liberation of Iraq. I thought it was effective line when he said that Bush had troops readying to go into Iraq when they could have been used to apprehend bin Laden. But one line in a 90-minute two-person press conference does not a winner make. On a tie decision, Bush wins, so Bush won. I agree with Kate O'Beirne's assessment in The Corner:
"I thought the President was repetitive and reactive. Maybe the latter couldn't be helped with both Kerry and Lehrer going after his decisions, but he never tried to take command of the back and forth. He could have contrasted need for strong defense with Kerry's Senate record. Kerry was smoother and proactive, though ultimately unconvincing. "Mixed messages" is wimpy. The President was apparently only prepared to go after Kerry for flip-flops - not for being wrong about every national security issue for the past 30 years. Kerry needed more than a draw."
It gets tiring and tired to complain about media bias but Cliff May makes an important observation: "Kate is right: Why were all the questions about Bush's record? Why didn't Lehrer at least ask Kerry if he stil thinks he was correct to vote against the 1990 Gulf War?"
VodkaPundit was live blogging and had these great observations:
"Here's what we have so far. Kerry is an impressive attack machine. Bush impressively refuses to budge. If I had to guess, the question most viewers will ask is, 'In time of war, do I want the debate team captain, or the guy he can't move?'
... 'I will hunt and kill the terrorists wherever they are.' That's the second (third?) time Kerry has used that line, and it's a loser. For Kerry, it's a promise. For Bush, it's a perceived fact.
... Methinks he doth protest too much. Kerry, for the umpteenth time tonight, has said he's never wavered on Iraq. The record says different and, even if it didn't, that windsurfing TV ad makes it the public perception."

Adam Daifallah was overly generous to Bush but was right to find that Kerry did absolutely nothing to dispel the idea that he is a flip-flopper. Instapundit thought that the lack of rhetorical skills in either candidate led to a more substantive debate. Really? Hugh Hewitt says Bush won big and grades the candidates' responses by each question. Bush gets all As with the exception of two Bs. Kerry scored considerably lower, even earning an F.


 
Editorial of the day

Montreal Gazette opposes physician-assisted suicide. No one will be surprised to find that I think PAS, euthanasia and the misnamed compassionate homicide are morally wrong but the Gazette takes the position that permitting these would lead down a dangerous path: "In our era of scarce medical resources, assisted suicide brings us closer to the perilous point at which terminally ill people, and then perhaps simply old people, begin hearing hints they have a "duty to die." Baby boomers who think that over might lose some of their enthusiasm for permitting people to help others to die."
The paper begins its editorial implicitly urging readers not to allow the often emotional stories behind assisted suicide (if that indeed is what the Charles Fariala
case is) to confuse the issue -- it is illegal (and wrong) to kill someone:
"[It] is illegal in Canada to assist another person to commit suicide, just as it is against the law to practice euthanasia. Nothing in the terrible human tragedy of Charles Fariala and his mother, Marielle, should be allowed to change that."


 
MP pay raise

The NCC's Gerry Nicholls addresses the most important issue in debate about increasing MP pay: "And let's not forget that just a few short months ago, MPs were begging us to elect them. They knew what the salary for the job was and they still wanted the job. If they thought the pay was too low why did they run?" Here's an idea: Let's have MPs pass pay increases that do not take effect until after the next federal election. Even better yet, force them to vote on the increase within six weeks of an election call so that they are forced to defend to voters their decision to increase their own pay.


 
The magic number is 1

New York Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins and a probable post-season opponent in both sides of a double-header. One more Yankee win or one more Boston Red Sox loss and the Bronx Bombers win the division. Also, one more win for the Yankees and they will have their third straight 100-win season. I know that cheering for the Yankees is like cheering for Microsoft (to update George F. Will's comment in the 1970s that it is like cheering for IBM), but what a great and (too) exciting year it has been. I was hoping that the Yankees had it sewn up before the weekend series in Toronto; I have tickets to all three games but I couldn't watch it if the division was on the line.


 
JO'S on what it takes to win World War IV
and the moral necessity to do it


Cold, sober realism, not the utopian fantasies that dominate in Europe and the Europe-loving fashionable liberal circles in North America. John O'Sullivan drives home this point in the Chicago Sun-Times:
"But as Bacon pointed out: "Revenge is a kind of wild justice." It will inevitably -- and arguably rightly -- become the resort of decent people when law and government fail to deliver justice. Post-modern governments fail in just that way. Humanitarian bodies such as Amnesty International are even worse: They practice a sort of unilateral civil libertarianism that holds governments to account for the smallest infraction of civil liberty but treats terrorism as a natural disaster. Transnational bodies like the U.N. and the EU are worse -- they seek to take the weapons of war and capital punishment from us in our struggles against terrorism, slavery, piracy and hostage-taking and to force us to rely instead on their own paper resolutions and elevated principles.
All these responses -- from the critical reactions to 'Man on Fire' to the E.U.'s prohibition of capital punishment -- are overcivilized. That sounds almost like a compliment, as if it meant more civilized. In fact, to be overcivilized is to be less civilized because genuine civilization includes a robust willingness to enforce its order and truths on anarchy, violence, murder and superstition.
As long as we remain overcivilized, anarchy, violence, murder and superstition will continue their sinister recovery -- until one day you may think you hear your own mother's voice on the network news."

To play nice with people who want to kill you because you play nice is not a sign of being enlightened but incredibly, almost indescribably stupid.


 
Bloomberg's Olympian monovision

Nurse Bloomberg wrote in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about "investing" in New York City's "golden" future:
"When I visited Athens during the recent Olympic Games, it gleamed with new roads and subways, state-of-the-art athletic facilities, modern housing and a new airport. It was all built for the Olympics, which lasts only 17 days, but residents will enjoy these improvements for decades to come."
What he doesn't mention is that not only will residents have new roads and state-of-the-art (and useless) athletic facilities for decades to come, but also debt and high taxes for decades to come. Just ask Montreal, which is still paying for the 1976 Olympics.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004
 
Drezner on out-sourcing

Candidates demagogue, everyone understands that. But no issue has been so abused and misrepresented as out-sourcing. The University of Chicago's Daniel Drezner asks the question that no one else will: "is the outsourcing of jobs a problem?" He answers that it isn't and explains:
"Now, however, we can add some actual figures to the overheated debate. The Government Accountability Office has issued its first review of the data, and one undeniable conclusion to be drawn from it is that outsourcing is not quite the job-destroying tsunami it's been made out to be. Of the 1.5 million jobs lost last year in "mass layoffs'' - that is, when 50 or more workers are let go at once - less than 1 percent were attributed to overseas relocation; that was a decline from the previous year. In 2002, only about 4 percent of the money directly invested by American companies overseas went to the developing countries that are most likely to account for outsourced jobs - and most of that money was concentrated in manufacturing.
The data did show that from 1997 to 2002, annual imports of business, technical and professional services increased by $16.3 billion. However, during that same half-decade, exports of those services increased by $20.5 billion a year. In 2002 alone, the United States ran a $27 billion trade surplus in business services, the sector in which jobs are most likely to be outsourced. The G.A.O. correctly stressed that it is impossible to compute exactly how many jobs are lost because of outsourcing, but unless its figures are off by several orders of magnitude, there's no crisis here."


 
Kerry and the debate

Senator Jean Kerry flip-flops so often, the real debate might not between President George W. Bush and the Democratic candidate but between Kerry and Kerry about which one should show up. Now, for the record, Kerry doesn't like the flip-flop label, although immediately afterward he said, "Ah shucks, it's not that bad." Just joking, of course. But the real joke is Kerry's planned response if Bush brings up the multiple positions issue during Thursday's debate; the New York Times reports, "At the same time, Mr. Kerry's aides suggested that if Mr. Bush accused him of inconsistency in Thursday's debate, Mr. Kerry might retort that the president had 'consistently been wrong' on foreign policy and national security, particularly on Iraq."
Dick Morris, who as far as anyone can tell has never waivered on his affinity for toe sucking, said that Kerry will have serious trouble in the foreign policy debate, even if he was "Daniel Webster in disguise, schooled in the arts of debate and fluent or even eloquent in expression," because of the "inherent contradictions in Kerry's position on these issues." Americans want leadership not handwringing. Bush just has to be Bush: "To win Thursday's debate — decisively — all he has to do is state his position on the issues of terrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran and the myriad threats we face." Ah yes, leadership in confronting terror. Kerry worries about whether or not the conflict is going well in Iraq and thus shifts his position as U.S. fortunes seem to shift in the Middle East, but Americans know that it is better to be fighting wars on foreign soil than at home.


 
Kerry's adventures in the mud -- a replay

From Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus column:
"Did you hear what James Rappaport had to say about running against Kerry (in a Massachusetts Senate race)? "He didn't attack me for my positions . . . He attacked me primarily personally ... At one point, he called me a chicken hawk because I was strong on defense but hadn't served in Vietnam. He forgot that I was 16 when the war ended.'
Me, I don't think Kerry forgot — I think he didn't give a damn.
A dirty politician, Kerry. Really — even for the breed overall."


 
Is Missouri still a swing state?

So goes the headline on a New York Times story. But if you have to ask ...
The Times reports that Wisconsin is the new Missouri "with Madison now ranking fifth on the list of cities with the heaviest political advertising spending and St. Louis and Kansas City dropping into the lower ranks of the leading 50." Kerry has seemingly given up on Missouri's 11 Electoral College votes. And as anyone who follows electoral history knows, only in 1956 has Missouri not gone with the winning presidential candidate.


 
Victory in World War IV

The New York Times reports:
"A judge in Yemen sentenced two men to death and four others to prison terms up to 10 years for the deadly attack in 2000 against the warship U.S.S. Cole. The convictions today are the first stemming from the water-borne suicide bombing that provided an early glimpse of the brazen nature of Osama bin Laden's global terror network."
One of the two men sentenced to death, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, is a Saudi-born associate of Osama bin Laden who helped plan the attack that killed 17 American sailors. Nashiri is also thought to be behind the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
Not only are the perpetators of terrorism getting their just deserts, but there has been change in the behaviour of the Yemeni government. The Times, again:
"Yemen is Mr. bin Laden's ancestral homeland and was considered a safe haven by members of Al Qaeda fleeing the United States fight against Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
But the country has been trying to distance itself from a reputation for harboring terrorists with the arrests of hundreds of suspects and by allowing steps like the United States using a missile to assassinate an important operative for Al Qaeda in 2002."

And lest we forget, the victims of the terrorist attack on the U.S.S. Cole:

* Hull Maintenance Technician Third Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, of Mechanicsville, Va.

* Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow, 35, of Morrisville, Pa.

* Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis, of Woodleaf, N.C.

* Information Systems Technician Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna, of Rice, Texas

* Signalman Seaman Apprentice Cherone Louis Gunn, 22, of Rex, Ga.

* Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels, 19, of Norfolk, Va.

* Engineman Second Class Marc Ian Nieto, of Fond Du Lac, Wis.

* Electronics Warfare Technician Third Class Ronald Scott Owens, 24, of Vero Beach, Fla.

* Seaman Apprentice Lakiba Nicole Palmer, 22, of San Diego, Calif.

* Engineman Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett, of Churchville, Md.

* Fireman Apprentice Patrick Howard Roy, of Cornwall on Hudson, N.Y.

* Electronics Warfare Technician Second Class Kevin Shawn Rux, 30, of Portland, N.D.

* Mess Management Specialist Third Class Ronchester Mananga Santiago, of Kingsville, Texas

* Operations Specialist Second Class Timothy Lamont Saunders, 32, Ringold, Va.

* Ensign Andrew Triplett, 31, of Macon, Miss.

* Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis, Jr., of Rockport, Texas

* Seaman Apprentice Craig Bryan Wibberley, 19, of Williamsport, Md.


 
Taube & Tuns on the what's wrong with the NHL

This column on the NHL lock-out appeared in the Vancouver Sun today.

The NHL must die: Too many teams are paying too much money for a talent pool of middling players; for pro hockey to survive, this trend must be reversed

by Michael Taube and Paul Tuns

A couple of weeks before National Hockey League owners locked out their players, a rumour circulated that some team owners were "seriously considering" starting a new league if the lockout lasted past January.

The rumour, started by an unidentified NHL team owner, is still unsubstantiated. But the idea itself is not necessarily a bad one.

As it stands, the NHL is one of the least profitable sports leagues in existence. The 30 professional hockey teams reportedly lost around $273 million US during the 2002-03 season, according to a disputed, NHL-commissioned paper. The league also suffered a massive cut in its once-lucrative television contract, which will undoubtedly lead to further losses down the road.

The idea of starting a new hockey league could help the owners reverse two trends that have contributed to the NHL's rapid decline over the past decade or so.

Since 1979, the NHL has added 13 new teams,and nearly doubled in size. This includes the four former World Hockey Association squads for the 1979-80 season, as well as nine expansion clubs.

Meanwhile, six NHL teams have shifted cities due to continuing losses, while four teams have declared bankruptcy. In the 1990s, NHL owners greedily sought new owners willing to pay exorbitant expansion fees, utterly blind to the long-term effects it had on the game. A half-dozen new teams required about 120 NHL-calibre players, players that unfortunately don't exist.

Stuck with an economic mess and inferior hockey, the NHL stubbornly refuses to downsize.

Next was the explosion in players' pay. The salary of the average pro hockey player has increased from $271,000 US in 1990-91 to more than $1.8 million in 2002-03. Unfortunately for the NHL, revenue did not also increase sixfold.

The NHL spends about 75 per cent of its revenues on player salaries. That's nearly 20 per cent higher than other sports, including baseball, basketball and football. Now, team owners want to establish a salary cap to keep their spending levels in check, seeing the success of this mechanism to control team expenditures in the National Football League and National Basketball Association.

As far as we are concerned, a salary cap for today's NHL is too little, too late.

The NHL is not a marketable sports league any longer. There are too many teams paying ridiculously high salaries for a talent pool of middle-of-the-road players.

And even though the vast majority of well-paid players lack enough talent and the ability to sustain long-term careers, their artificial market value has skyrocketed. The problem is not the superstar getting $10 million a year, but the third-string winger or fifth defenceman getting $2.5 million. But in an oversized league, a legitimate third liner becomes a recent expansion team's starter who can command big bucks.

While players are allowed to ask for high salaries, and team owners are allowed to give them, the economic calculus is not sustainable. The owners must sense it, the players' union is surely aware of it, and the fans definitely know it.

Team owners could change all this by abandoning the NHL and starting a new pro hockey league. The new league, which we'll call for the sake of this article the PHL, will have to do three things to survive.

First, the PHL must reduce the number of teams by at least five or 10. We suggest returning to the status quo of the 1980s, with 21 teams. The criteria to eliminate teams could be based on financial position, attendance levels, gate receipts and hockey tradition.

The new PHL team owners would buy out the floundering teams for a little less than their expansion fee. Or some teams could simply merge, such as the geographically close Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

Whatever the method, the key is to get the number of teams down to a manageable level. By doing so, second-tier teams such as the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames would be able to put on exciting hockey matches, regain their competitive fire and recapture their glory days.

Second, the PHL must reduce annual salary levels. This wouldn't be too hard to accomplish -- with fewer teams competing for players, there would be less competition to drive up salaries and less need for mediocre players. Therefore, PHL team owners could be more selective when offering salaries to players.

Third, the PHL must, unlike its predecessor, allow the free market to flourish.

For instance, teams that declare bankruptcy must fold, and not be protected by the league.

Team owners must be allowed to spend whatever they want on a player's salary, and not be forced into a restrictive financial environment that includes foolish items like luxury taxes. And if hockey players decide to go on strike, PHL teams must have the right to hire replacement players instead of temporarily closing down the league.

The NHL may be beyond saving, but the PHL can be a great success.

At the very least, perhaps just thinking about how a PHL could be run successfully will lead the NHL to make the necessary improvements before taking the drastic step of ending a century's worth of hockey tradition and starting a league anew.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004
 
Kerry's lameness

Jonah Goldberg pokes fun at John Kerry's silly attacks on President Bush. First there was "W is for Wrong." Now there's this criticism of Bush's so-called negative attack ads: "I'm calling them 'misleadisments,'. It's all scare tactics because (Bush) has no record to run on." Goldberg is too kind to call this "lameness wrapped in dorkiness swaddled in wimpiness" before noting "At least when Bush butchers a word he does it by accident. Kerry probably sat down and hammered this out with aides. I wonder why they didn't go with distortials or miscommercials. I also wonder why I could only find this tidbit in foreign newspapers."


 
Political geography

Obesity and global warming are some of the topic National Geographic has recently tackled as the magazine slides into tedium. Patrick J. Michaels has the dirt in the Washington Times on the decline of a once great magazine.


 
Thank God the Republic has Drew Barrymore

The Washington Times reports on a TNR story on getting youth to vote: "'Young people don't vote and that's, like, so not cool.' Such is the verdict of actress Drew Barrymore, whose pro-voting documentary, 'The Best Place to Start,' aired this week on MTV." Certainly democracy is strengthened when the people who don't care enough about the issues or the candidates to vote are finally persuaded to show up at the ballot box because a barely literate Drew Barrymore shamed them there.


 
Kerry courts the gays

I thought that Senator Jean Kerry already had the homosexual vote all tied up, but apparently he thought he needed to pander a little bit more. He supports the gay agenda: hate crimes, gay adoption and "gay parenting" and, despite his claims to support traditional marriage, he brags "I was the only elected senator up for reelection to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996."


 
Are the terrorists winning?

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius writes that no they are not:
"Looking at the gruesome images of beheadings and suicide bombings in Iraq, it's easy to think that the Islamic holy warriors are winning. But a new book by a distinguished French Arabist named Gilles Kepel argues the opposite case. For all the mayhem the jihadists have caused, he contends, their movement is failing."
P.J. O'Rourke notes in his book Peace Kills, that terrorism is the weapon of choice of losers with no real job prospects.
That said, Ignatius and Kepel both warn that terrorists could win -- which Ignatius says is defined as Muslim fundamentalists taking over the Middle East -- if the U.S. doesn't get Iraq exactly right; "A precipitous withdrawal, leaving the field to the jihadists, would be a disaster," says Ignatius. "But so would a bloody and unending occupation." Unfortunately, for Ignatius and Kepel the key is re-starting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process (of endless talks during which Jews are fair game for Palestinian terrorists). It appears that once again, it comes down to peace at any cost in Israel which would inevitably lead to the destruction of Israel. If that happens, the terrorists really do win.


 
Negotiating with terrorist kidnappers

This Newsday editorial reminds us why we don't -- and can't:
"It would be a terrible mistake to reward such acts and, in the longer run, giving in would only encourage more hostage-taking. That is the sad, hard lesson learned after decades of trying to deal with hostage-takers. Give in just once, as was the case recently in Iraq, and you encourage the perpetrators. If the barbarians who commit such an act believe it will help them obtain their objectives, the result will be wholesale kidnappings."


 
Kerry probably doesn't even know he is right about this one

This Washington Times editorial rightfully takes on the Johns Kerry and Edwards and their campaign staff for their attacks on interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi as nothing more than President Bush's puppet and the best face that Bush can put on the war in Iraq. Of course, they are right, although inadvertently so: Allawi, like many of his compatriots, suffered horribly under Saddam Hussein. It was precisely because of his torment that Iraq needed to be liberated.


 
Back to the future for New York?

The New York Post worries that the ghost of David Dinkins will come back to haunt the Big Apple and bring with it racial discord, high crime, dysfunctional courts, failing schools and the trap of welfare. The paper's editorial notes last week's Manhattan Supreme Court ruling in which, "Justice Shirley Kornreich, upholding a nonsensical jury verdict, ruled that the city must pay more than $170,000 to the mother of Jose 'Kiko' Garcia — a dangerous drug dealer killed by police gunfire in Washington Heights 12 years ago." The editorial continues: "... the days when City Hall reflexively fawned over a dead drug dealer are long gone. But forever? Another mayoral campaign begins this November. Among other things, it will help determine whether Judge Kornreich's kooky ruling was an anachronism." Let's pray it was.


 
Celsius 41.11

My son brought this to my attention on the weekend and Adam Daifallah links to it today. What an incredibly powerful trailer; I watched it about a dozen times on Sunday. I look forward to seeing the film.


 
And now you get only half of the story

This Chicago Tribune editorial on Terri Schiavo-Schindler ignores a lot of evidence damning to the case in favour of killing her. The Tribune is correct to begin its pro-death editorial: "Terri Schiavo is a horribly unfortunate person. In 1990, at the age of 26, she suffered a heart attack as a result of a potassium imbalance. She has been unconscious ever since, reduced to a persistent vegetative state." But of all the "unfortunate" things that have happened to her, the paper misses the most obvious: her husband wants her dead.


Monday, September 27, 2004
 
There is no EUropean future

Mark Steyn, in another brilliant column, writes in the Daily Telegraph:
"If embracing Europe meant pasta, Mercedeses and flaunting one's wedding tackle on the Cote d'Azur, who could object?
Unfortunately, embracing Europe means embracing German corporatism, French public-service ethics, Belgian foreign policy, Swedish tax rates and Greek state pension liabilities which, by the year 2040, will account for 24 per cent of GDP.
So, if Britons are becoming more European, they ought to stop, because it's a death cult. Fifty million Frenchmen can be wrong, and 50 million Britons joining them in their fantasy won't make it come true."

And one of those fantasies is that Germany should be a permanent fixture on the UN Security Council, an idea that Steyn finds absurd:
"EUtopia is over. There's something terribly vieux chapeau about those calls for Germany to get a seat on the Security Council.
Never mind that, if Europe is to have a single foreign minister, it seems curious that it needs three UN vetoes: the truth is that Germany, entering a demographic death spiral and an era of political instability, will never be an economic powerhouse again."


 
Insert own race-concious joke here

The Independent reports UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's defense of shaking hands with brutal Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe:
"After he was filmed meeting Mr Mugabe by BBC2's Newsnight programme, Mr Straw said: 'I hadn't expected to see President Mugabe there. Because it was quite dark in that corner, I was being pushed towards shaking hands with somebody just as a matter of courtesy and then it transpired it was President Mugabe'."


 
Don't vote for me, vote against my opponent

This is, essentially, the case for Kerry, which is really nothing more than a case against Bush. And James McEnteer, author of Deep in the Heart: The Texas Tendency in American Politics, buys it. Writing in the Los Angeles Times he says:
"This year's choice between two Yale Skull and Bones multimillionaires would seem another futile exercise. Except that George W. Bush has shown enough contempt for most Americans to deserve ours. His reckless fiscal policies have weakened our country and impoverished many citizens. His Iraq war — based on lies — has killed and wounded thousands, with no end in sight. Yet he and his friends and family in and out of government continue to profit handsomely from those fiscal policies and that war. Enough already.
In the film A Perfect Candidate, a minister admonishes his parishioners not to wait for 'a perfect candidate' or they will never vote for anyone. But we need not wait. George W. Bush is the perfect candidate to vote against."

It should be noted that McEnteer habitually finds Republicans worthy of voting against. He admits that he either doesn't vote (1976 and 1996) or votes against the Republican (1972, 1980, 1984, 1992, 2000), so you might want to consider his animus toward Bush, whom he called the smirking jerk of the 2000 campaign, when weighing his advice.


 
I say tomaeto, you say tomahto ...

You say combating terrorism, I say driving the Jews into the sea ... I share Trudeaupia's concerns about the news that Saudi Arabia is hosting an anti-terrorism conference: "I'd like to think that they're starting to take the problem seriously, but something tells me that what they really have in mind is a festival of Israel and America-bashing."


 
A conflict of interest comes to an end

The family of Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig appears to have finally sold the Milwaukee Brewers. I have never understood how the former owner of the Brewers was allowed to run baseball while his family continued to control the team. Selig always defended himself by noting he stopped receiving a salary from the team he bought in 1970 (the Seattle Pilots) and moved to Milwaukee. I am sure he was entirely indifferent to the millions that his daughter stood to gain or lose depending on the salary caps he proposed, the idea of eliminating the Minnesota Twins and moving Milwaukee from the American to National League.


 
Divide an issue enough times and it won't register on a poll at all

The Chicago Tribune/WGN poll of Illinois voters included data on Republican supporters in the state including their ranking of "several traditional Republican issues." The poll found that "31 percent of GOP voters said military defense was at the top, 23 percent said moral and family values and 19 percent said taxes and government spending. Though Keyes and his supporters have sought to make opposition to abortion the core of his campaign, only 12 percent of GOP voters said abortion was the issue of most concern to them. Meanwhile, only 4 percent of Republicans identified gun-owners' rights, another hot button issue for the GOP right wing, as the issue they care most about." Neat how they divided abortion and moral/family values. If they had separated moral and family values even further with another choice such as same-sex marriage, the 23% would have been smaller, just as concern for taxes and government spending was diminished by the fact that 6% of respondents said the most important issue was "big government" which is really a tax and spend issue.
It is probably safe to assume that there is a lot of overlap and that for some pro-lifers, moral and family values encompasses abortion but also reflects their broader concern about the moral dilapidation of society. Note that together, the two concerns would be the priority of 35% of GOP voters, making it the most important issue for Republicans in this election. But that doesn't fit the Tribune's narrative that social issues are costing Alan Keyes, and perhaps other Republicans, the election.


 
Arghhhh! II

I just watched CNN for 20 seconds which about equals the total amount of time I've watched the "news" network since the GOP convention. Aaron Brown said that his show will be broadcast from Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon, SF and LA, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada so that CNN could get to know the issues that Americans outside the "Washington-New York bubble) care about. Yes, the Left Coast and Sin City are America now. Funny how the people stuck in the Washington-New York bubble consider Los Angeles and San Fran and Las Vegas to be typical of the rest of America. I wonder, sometimes, if Brown et al have even ever heard of Tulsa, Oklahoma or Rockford, Illinois, Pierre, South Dakota or Gary, Indiana, let alone think of broadcasting from any of these cities in fly-over country.


 
Arghhhh!

Law and Order has a Iraqi war theme tonight. I am so sick of politics in my entertainment that I was even displeased by former Senator Fred Thompson's character defending the clash of civilizations thesis that I subscribe to. It was amusing, however, to see real-life 9/11 Democrat and actor Ron Silver depict a lawyer who plays on people's anxieties about the liberation of Iraq.


 
Proof that Jimmy Carter is an idiot

If further proof where needed, the former president writes in the Washington Post:
"The Carter Center has monitored more than 50 elections, all of them held under contentious, troubled or dangerous conditions. When I describe these activities, either in the United States or in foreign forums, the almost inevitable questions are: 'Why don't you observe the election in Florida? and 'How do you explain the serious problems with elections there?'
The answer to the first question is that we can monitor only about five elections each year, and meeting crucial needs in other nations is our top priority. (Our most recent ones were in Venezuela and Indonesia, and the next will be in Mozambique.) A partial answer to the other question is that some basic international requirements for a fair election are missing in Florida."

He then lists the "problems" he has observed in the Sunshine State. John Kerry's campaign must be in trouble if they already making excuses for losing Florida.


 
Over to you, Conan

Conan O'Brien to get Jay Leno's slot in 2009. So I guess that means Conan will be making fun of either Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush or Bill Owen.


 
Another victory in World War IV

And further proof that the liberation of Iraq was not a distraction in the War on Terror: Five more Taliban leaders captured.


 
Joe Clark on Paul Martin

Joe Clark, CTV reports, told the network's Question Period public affairs show, the two key questions for him about Martin are "Can he govern?" and "What does he want to do?" Answers: Better than Clark and about the same as Clark.


 
Senate predictions

National Review's John J. Miller is still predicting a gain of two in the Senate for the GOP. I think President Bush is going to have coat-tails and believe his analysis is correct only if the presidential election is a squeaker -- which it won't be. I'm still predicting the GOP with a net gain of at least four.


 
What would Lennon do?

My fellow Shotgunner Justin Bogdanowicz (better known as The Meatriarchy) has a wonderful post on John Lennon's hypocritical disciples:
"Who knew that John Lennon fans were such ardent supporters of the death penalty??:
'... if Chapman is released after 24 years in prison, some Lennon fans have already threatened to take action. News of the parole hearing has spread on the internet and dozens of websites have been filling up with messages from fans around the world, many already promising to take revenge on the man who gunned down Lennon on 8 December 1980 as he arrived at his New York apartment building off Central Park.
"Chapman should be executed. I would gladly get rid of him myself," wrote a fan from Finland on one website. Another fan has already set up an online petition to have Chapman's parole denied. It is already full of messages that show Chapman's safety outside jail would be difficult to maintain. "If Mark David Chapman is let out of jail, he wouldn't last a day. There are too many people who want him dead," wrote a New York-based female fan.'
I'm thinking of a new version of an old Lennon classic:
'all we are saying
let's kill him fast'
I suppose they are all wishing the crime was committed in Texas instead of New York now?
Hypocrites."


Sunday, September 26, 2004
 
Author finally gets the acclaim he deserves

This Washington Times review of William Trevor is a welcome exception to the rule that daily newspaper must generally pan or outright ignore serious contemporary fiction. (No, that is not always an oxymoron.) Debra Bruno begins her review of A Bit on the Side:
"Although William Trevor is one of the greats, he doesn't always get the fanfare he deserves, not in this country at least. Perhaps that's because he's such a quiet writer, taken up with subtle things. He concerns himself with the flow of language in a sentence and on the page, as rhythmic and continual as waves lapping the shore."
Trevor's The Hill Bachelors is the only collection of short stories I have agreed to review (for the Halifax Herald in 2002, but unfortunately the review is not on this computer). Trevor is a pleasure to read because he is a wonderful and non-political writer; like Henry James, a delightful and elevated style is his worldview.
Bruno writes of one of the stories ("Solitude") in Trevor's latest collection in which:
"a child accidentally witnesses her mother's tryst with her lover. That moment, along with the child's vehement revenge, changes the girl and seems to be the reason she remains a solitary person for the rest of her life.
What's lovely in all of Mr. Trevor's portraits of solitude, though, is that they don't necessarily represent unmitigated sadness. Instead, there seems to be a beauty and dignity in lives that are chiefly lived alone. While none of these characters is a hermit, many manage to live in the midst of others and maintain their sense of isolation and difference."

I have not yet read A Bit on the Side, but the reason that many of the characters who live alone in Trevor's stories are not sad is that he undertands the difference between solitude and loneliness, the former being an act of the will, the latter a condition about which one has little or no control. Trevor's writing is subtle, so he doesn't make that point by having some psychiatrist or professor make it but by illustrating it. Apparently so much so that Bruno may have missed it.


 
Damned if you do, damned if you don't

That sums up what politicans on the right are up against in the editorial boards of most daily papers. The Boston Globe questions the motives of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's announced unilateral albeit limited and tactical disengagement from the Gaza Strip. The Globe complains that Sharon's plan is a different road map to peace than that of the Bush administration. But why does it matter if it is a different road map as long it can get you to the same place: peace. The Globe complains that this progress is too slow: "Path-breaking as Sharon's withdrawal plan and its rationale may be, however, they fall short of what Israelis and Palestinians need to end their destructive conflict." The perfect can be the enemy of the good and the Globe now sides on an impossible compromise in favour of this practical small step to de-escalating the potential for violenc and thus come closer to ending the conflict.


 
Bloggers do it better

And not just journalism (ahem, Mr. Rather) but the stuff of whole US agencies and departments. Regnum Crucis points to shortcomings of the U.S. State Department's list of countries where al Qaeda has operated.


 
Suspicion is confirmed -- Bush cultivates buffoonish image

Although hardly unique with this opinion, I have long argued that President George W. Bush is no dummy although he brilliantly allows people to think he is. Dan Payne, a Democratic media consultant, writes in the Boston Globe and offers advice (20 separate items) for Senator John Kerry for the debate with the president this week. Among this is this one:
"Respect this guy. Atlantic's James Fallows reviewed tapes of Bush debating Ann Richards in 1994 Texas governor's race. 'The Bush on this tape was almost unrecognizable,' he wrote. 'This Bush was eloquent. He spoke quickly and easily. He rattled off complicated sentences and brought them to the right grammatical conclusions. He did not pause before forcing out big words or invent mangled new ones'."


 
(Nearly) Everything you wanted to know about the Darfur crisis and more

The American Anti-Slavery Group has an excellent collection of links to stories on the genocide in Sudan at their iAbolish website including "Arabizing Black Africa" and "Arab militia use 'rape camps' for ethnic cleansing of Sudan". Worth checking and checking often despite its reluctance (from what I see so far) from using stories that make explicit reference to Muslim perpetrators (preferring to focus on the Arabness of the oppressors).


 
Profiles in religious irrelevance

The BBC reports that Anglicans in Manchester launched "a pilot scheme to attract people back to church - by offering a bar of fair trade chocolate to every worshipper." Not only is the church trying to bribe people into attending its services, they're trying to do it the politically correct (read: the Anglican) way. 70,000 invitations were sent to former church-goers as part of the "Back to Church Sunday" program in which the fair trade chocolate was offered. Ah, but it about more than filling the pews. The Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, said the church is trying to bring "justice and fair trade across the world."
Bishop McCulloch continues:
"When people come and receive the chocolate they discover it is not just a gimmick, it's not an ordinary kind of chocolate fondant. This is a piece of fair trade chocolate. The point then to make is that church isn't just about going to a cosy club, it's about belonging to an organisation which has a job of trying to bring justice and fair trade across the world."
Yes, that about sums up the mission of the Anglican Church in 2004.


 
Nordlinger on Memogate

From Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus column on Friday: "I'm not elated that CBS News is a Democratic nest. But I'm elated that it is now exposed as such. If I had my way, our Big Media would be neutral, dispassionate: newsy. But if they're going to be partisan, better that they be seen that way."


 
Continuing victories in World War IV

The Los Angeles Times reports Pakistani police have killed Amjad Hussain Farooqi, a top al Qaeda operative wanted for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and beheadinf of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and two assassination attempts in 2003 against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The Times reported Pakistan's information minister said Farooqi "had shouted in Urdu, the main language in Pakistan, that he'd prefer death to capture. The suspect also pointed to the sky and shouted: 'I fulfilled my promise to Allah'." Two other suspects were captured; Pakistan has arrested more than 600 suspected terrorists since September 11, 2001.


 
Comments

Send them to paul_tuns[AT]yahoo.com.


 
Last 90 minutes to get great deal on my book

I've noted the deal -- no S&H costs to you -- if you order Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal, before midnight. This is the last reminder.


 
Blogs are responsible for MSM's sloppy journalism

Eric Deggans of the St. Petersburg Times proves that one must be an idiot to land a "media critic" newspaper job today. He writes: "And instead of destroying network news, the blogs' influence in Memogate seems to be speeding up the news cycle - inspiring big news outlets to jump on stories quicker and vetting blockbuster stories for accuracy." Please. And what is Deggans' excuse, then, for getting his facts wrong about Jonah Goldberg writing for The New Republic Online?

(Hat tip to The Corner)


 
The terrorists are the enemy, not those who confront such evil

Charles Moore has a must-read column in the Daily Telegraph on the wrong people getting blamed for the blood-shed in Iraq, most notably the spilt-blood of Westerners. Moore begins:
"In his agony and under duress, Kenneth Bigley, the engineer from Liverpool who has been kidnapped in Iraq, made what he said was an appeal on behalf of the people of Iraq: 'Would you like the Germans or any other country walking down the street with a gun, in England, in Scotland? I don't think so.'
Yet the man who forced Mr Bigley to make the appeal, the man who has already personally beheaded the two American hostages, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is not an Iraqi himself, but a Jordanian. If anyone is, he is the 'German with the gun' on the streets of Iraq.
Zarqawi wants foreign-led fanatics to enslave the Iraqi people, persecuting anyone who disagrees with them, particularly the majority Shia community. He wants to create a state like that run by the Taliban in Afghanistan, having worked with bin Laden there. He sees murder as the key instrument of policy, as a religious duty and as a pleasure."


 
Dangerous knowledge gets around

About those Iraqi scientists with "dangerous knowledge" that Mahdi Obeidi wrote about in the New York Times (and which I noted here), the Daily Telegraph reports that Syria is in negotiations with Iran to offer safe haven for the aforementioned Iraqi nuclear scientists that found their way to Bashir al-Asad's terrorist paradise. I'm sure Asad is motivated purely by his quest for Middle East peace and not his deep desire to have America consider other locations for their War on Terror tour.


 
Bono is the greatest person ever

This past year, U2's Bono has spent more time on the political party convention circuit than the tour circuit. Using the fact that Bono will address the Labour Party convention (as will Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela), The Guardian reports the singer/songwriter is the most influential celebrity in the world of politics and the most successful politician in the world of music. Bono has had his praises song by Colin Powell, Paul O'Niell and Jesse Helms. He has visited Pope John Paul II and counts the president of Harvard as an unofficial advisor on the African AIDS crisis and relief of third world debt. While denying that Bono was responsible for convincing the G-8 to take greater action on third world debt, the paper says it would not have happened without Bono's pressure on the G-8 leaders in 1999. Not surprisingly, the Guardian did not report that last year Bono addressed the Liberal convention that crowned Paul Martin Canada's prime minister. Perhaps they fear that he will have the same effect on Tony Blair's electoral success as he had on Martin's. But there is a dark side to Bono's political celebrity -- his music (and fans) suffer because U2's albums are released later than promised. And taxpayers suffer, too, as politicians of all stripes suck up to the artist and the causes he makes fashionable. But the Guardian didn't point that out.


 
Norman Cantor, RIP

I missed the news of historican Norman Cantor's death earlier this week. So did John J. Miller, who has some good things to say about him.


 
Rick "Dalton" Anderson

Token Toronto Star conservative Rick Anderson writes about the idea of having Turkey join the European Union which is fine but his description of the EU leaves a lot to be desired: "This year, the European Union, one of the world's most creative developments in collaborative governance, took another big leap forward..." Creative developments in big government is more like it, Rick. And for Anderson to think that the EU has fostered free trade when its regulations stifle businesses, and fosters freedom when it undermines national sovereignty, proves why Anderson is the Star's house conservative; he is a worthy heir to the place once occupied by Dalton Camp.


 
My review Peace Kills

This review of P.J. O'Rourke's Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism appeared today in the Halifax Herald.

Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism by P.J. O'Rourke (Atlantic Monthly Press, $31.95, 197 pages)
Review by Paul Tuns
P.J. O'Rourke is the author of 11 books, all to some extent collections of previously published journalism. He is a political writer and a humourist and unlike most others who mix the two, he is quite deft at doing so. In his latest collection, Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism, he examines the state of the world in many of its recent hot spots in pieces adapted from his Atlantic Monthly articles.
O'Rourke begins by describing the average American's disinterest in foreign policy. That is not the same as not being interested in particular foreign affairs -- "You can own dogs all your life and not have a 'dog policy'," O'Rourke says. But what happens abroad should be America's business and Americans should think about it more seriously than it now does. As O'Rourke says, "Americans would like to ignore foreign policy. Our previous attempts at isolationism were successful. Unfortunately, they were successful for Hitler's Germany and Tojo's Japan. Evil is an outreach program." Ouch!
Better yet is O'Rourke on the narrow-mindedness of placing peace above all else; he says of "world peace" that it is something "which we can't have anyway if we're going to eliminate human rights abuses, because there's no practical way to get rid of the governments that abuse the rights of people." In other words, you can have peace, but not peace and justice. And even then, the peace will be short-lived.
In what is a combination of travelogue and political commentary, O'Rourke recounts the recent history, current situation and the view on the street in such exotic locales as Kosovo and Kuwait, Iwo Jima and Israel.
Reporting small incidents -- talking to the natives, observing local customs, commiserating with U.S. forces -- O'Rourke is able make larger observations. For example, reporting on the chaos surrounding the distribution of food to Iraqis during the war, the utter inability the crowd to form a queue or collect rations by number, O'Rourke finds Iraqi society lacking in a necessary pre-condition to a better tomorrow: "The happier parts of the world have capacities for self-organization so fundamental and obvious that they appear to be pillars of civilization."
The two strongest chapters are also his most polemical. In one he skewers the peace and justice agenda of 103 Nobel laureates. In their document, he observes, they "roll 'dispossessed,' 'poor' and 'disenfranchised' together as if they have a natural correlation -- like 'ice,' 'cold' and 'beer'." He mocks their call for more treaties to ensure safety -- remember the Kellogg-Briand Pact or the League of Nations Charter, anyone? He finds their 284 words banal, silly and untrue and concludes that even if these are from 103 of the best minds the world has to offer, it is proof that "nothing good ever comes from a committee."
In another chapter, he bakes, fries and roasts the gangs of protestors in Washington. Well, actually, the gang of protestors. O'Rourke observes many protests but finds that 1) the same people are at the various outings of outrage and 2) that whatever the announced object of their objection, once everyone is together, it doesn't matter what you're protesting. He finds great humour in people protesting against Latin American dictatorships while wearing Che t-shirts. He says that Act Now to Stop War and End Racism "is a group that awes any fan of acronyms." The peace protests have anti-Israeli protestors, anti-capitalism protestors, anti-globalization protestors, anti-CIA protestors, anti-anti-environment protestors.
O'Rourke's 26-year-old research assistant, who can pass as an activist when he has "a couple days' worth of stubble," found a group of university students who were part of an organization whose purpose "was to go to lots of demonstrations." O'Rourke talked to one protestor, presumably not a student, who was wielding a sign that said "Envision a World." The protestor said when he grows up he wants to "join Greenpeace." The man was at least 40.
How does such a diverse crowd come together? "Other than a looserish quality," O'Rourke says, they are united by turning "every question into a political question." Not only do they oppose war, they oppose Starbucks and the use of paper; if their t-shirts and placards mean anything, they have turned their religion and sexual preferences into political props.
The implication, of course, is that these do-gooders aren't doing any good. After all, what contribution does a person dressed as a fairy godmother on roller skates singing anti-war lyrics to the music of Cinderalla's "Bibbidity-Bobbidy-Boo" make to world peace?
O'Rourke's previous collections were sustained hilarious rants against the opponents of capitalism, the largesse of government and the hysteria of the environmental movement. Peace Kills is funny, but seldom laugh-out-loud funny. Indeed, the book concludes with a sobering and touching tribute to U.S. forces who fought at Iwo Jima. September 11 was a wake-up call to take the world more seriously, which O'Rourke does -- still with a smile, but no longer a smirk.


 
Dowd in the dirt again

Actually New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd never gets out of the mud, so excuse that "again" in the title. Her latest offering is a cruel column on Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, whom Dowd calls President George W. Bush's puppet. Allawi's sin seems to be being thankful to Bush for liberating his country and not being Kerry's puppet. Particulary nasty is her comment: "Actually, being the president's marionette is a step up from Mr. Allawi's old jobs as henchman for Saddam Hussein and stoolie for the C.I.A."


Saturday, September 25, 2004
 
Editorial of the Day

The Australian editorializes that Iraq is now the crucible of freedom:
"The terrorists who blow up police and power stations, who kidnap - and behead - foreign civilians and who murder innocent Iraqis who get in their way are grotesquely evil. But there is motive in their madness. They are desperate to reduce Iraq to anarchy so the national elections, scheduled for next January, do not take place. They know that when ordinary people, of all faiths, or no religion, have a chance, they will always endorse the politics of individual freedom and personal prosperity and the right to live their lives as they choose. As this year's elections in Muslim Malaysia and Indonesia demonstrate, religious zealots rarely come to power via the ballot box. And adherents of Wahabi Islam, who dream of rule according to the twisted tenets of their perversion of Islam, know national elections in Iraq will be a catastrophic defeat for their cause.
The world community must do whatever it takes to ensure they lose. For Iraq to collapse into chaos would convince the terrorists that democracies are weak, unwilling or incapable of defending their values against ideologically motivated enemies. Defeat for democracy in Iraq will mean more Madrids, more mass murders of innocents, like those that occurred in Beslan and Bali, as terrorists act to impose their will on the world."

Read the rest yourself.


 
The American Conservative [sic] looks into the future

So TAC has moved from the fantasies of the paleocons to outright fiction with Claude Salhani's account of what an Israeli-Iranian conflict would look like:
"In a pre-dawn raid, undisclosed numbers of Israeli warplanes, taking off from military airbases in the Negev, destroy Iran’s main nuclear facility at Bushehr. Israel’s armed forces have released no details, but it is believed the planes flew over parts of Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, refueling in mid-air before reaching their target. Military analysts speculate that the planes must have refueled somewhere over Iraq.
During the one-hour raid, Iran claims to have shot down “several” Israeli fighters. Television images show pilots being lynched by furious mobs before Iranian authorities could reach them. The after-effects of the raid shake the Arab and Islamic world. Millions take to the streets demanding immediate action against Israel."


 
Waiting for the UN

David Brooks has a devastating column in the New York Times on the UN's fiddling while genocide happens in Sudan. He begins by interspersing the toll of the violence in Darfur with the actions of the United States/inaction of the UN:
"Confronted with the murder of 50,000 in Sudan, we eschewed all that nasty old unilateralism, all that hegemonic, imperialist, go-it-alone, neocon, empire, coalition-of-the-coerced stuff. Our response to this crisis would be so exquisitely multilateral, meticulously consultative, collegially cooperative and ally-friendly that it would make John Kerry swoon and a million editorialists nod in sage approval.
And so we Americans mustered our outrage at the massacres in Darfur and went to the United Nations. And calls were issued and exhortations were made and platitudes spread like béarnaise. The great hum of diplomacy signaled that the global community was whirring into action.
Meanwhile helicopter gunships were strafing children in Darfur.
We did everything basically right. The president was involved, the secretary of state was bold and clearheaded, the U.N. ambassador was eloquent, and the Congress was united. And, following the strictures of international law, we had the debate that, of course, is going to be the top priority while planes are bombing villages.
We had a discussion over whether the extermination of human beings in this instance is sufficiently concentrated to meet the technical definition of genocide. For if it is, then the 'competent organs of the United Nations' may be called in to take appropriate action, and you know how fearsome the competent organs may be when they may indeed be called.
The United States said the killing in Darfur was indeed genocide, the Europeans weren't so sure, and the Arab League said definitely not, and hairs were split and legalisms were parsed, and the debate over how many corpses you can fit on the head of a pin proceeded in stentorian tones while the mass extermination of human beings continued at a pace that may or may not rise to the level of genocide.
For people are still starving and perishing in Darfur."

And yet despite the UN's inaction, somehow the United States will get blamed. And after this outrage, like when every outrage that occurs, Kofi Anan will insist that the world cannot stand idly by again. Brooks concludes:
"Every time there is an ongoing atrocity, we watch the world community go through the same series of stages: (1) shock and concern (2) gathering resolve (3) fruitless negotiation (4) pathetic inaction (5) shame and humiliation (6) steadfast vows to never let this happen again.
The 'never again' always comes. But still, we have all agreed, this sad cycle is better than having some impromptu coalition of nations actually go in "unilaterally" and do something. That would lack legitimacy! Strain alliances! Menace international law! Threaten the multilateral ideal!"

For the victims in Darfur, Godot is more likely to show up before the UN.


 
WMD in Iraq

Yes and no according to Mahdi Obeidi, who worked on the program and is the author of
The Bomb in My Garden: The Secrets of Saddam's Nuclear Mastermind.
Writing in the New York Times, he explains that Iraq had a WMD program until 1991 (the US liberation of Kuwait) but that it had not been operational since then. But could it have been re-started? Yes, because as Obeidi stated, they still had all that "dangerous knowledge." He says:
"Was Iraq a potential threat to the United States and the world? Threat is always a matter of perception, but our nuclear program could have been reinstituted at the snap of Saddam Hussein's fingers. The sanctions and the lucrative oil-for-food program had served as powerful deterrents, but world events - like Iran's current efforts to step up its nuclear ambitions - might well have changed the situation."
Admittedly, Obeidi says that sanctions and inspections "made reconstituting the program impossible". And I know the New York Times thinks this is a case against President George W. Bush, but it isn't. Considering for the moment Iraq's support for terrorism (quite aside from 9/11) and the fact that his scientists knew how to develop nuclear weapons was too much risk; wasn't it better to get to those people who had such knowledge. Obeidi says that the U.S. has to do more to ensure that knowledge doesn't get out on the black market and that's true, but Obeidi's column vindicates Bush. The Iraqi nuclear program could have been re-started at any time. Bush made sure it didn't.


 
Quote of the Day

A rant can be a beautiful thing, especially when it's Kathy Shaidle doing the ranting. I understand why she had to unload after taping Behind the Story for CTS; I'm a regular panelist and while the staff is great some of the guests I've had to deal with have been a little much. Anyway, in middle of an already great post, this gem: "America is so evil that a black girl from Mississippi is now the richest woman in the country and can score presents for people." Consider that thrown into the wish-I-said-that file.


 
New York Times finds what's wrong with Kerry's campaign

Apparently, Senator Jean Kerry (UltraD, France) is losing because he's just so darn smart. Cerebral guy, interested more in public policy than politics, lots of curious questions for his staffers. This is the best example of the Times' Lewinsky treatment of Kerry to date.


 
Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal

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 your order in by mail, date the cheque no later than September 26 and just pay the $26.99. Send cheque or money order to: Freedom Press Canada Inc., P.O. Box 112, Jordan Station, ON L0R 1S0.
I have a top five reasons to order the book posted at The Shotgun. But you already know that because I'm sure you check The Shotgun regularly


 
How not to view being pregnant

Elisabeth Hasselbeck (who is best known as Elisabeth Filarski on the second season of Survivor), a co-host of The View (where she is the token conservative), announced this week she was pregnant. She said: "I'm nauseous, but I'm fine with that because it's all for a good cause." Since when was pregnancy a cause?


Friday, September 24, 2004
 
Krauthammer on the War on Terror and America's allies abroad

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer has a good column on the Australian elections (which are important because Australia is the only country that has fought along-side America in ever war over the last 100 years) and John Kerry's ticking off loyal U.S. friends while courting our ostensible allies.


 
Kerry woos the women

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that President George W. Bush leads Senator John Kerry among women voters, 48%-43%. The Times said that women are "voters that Democrats think are rightfully theirs." So now they need to get them back on-side. The Associated Press reports that the Kerry campaign let Senator John Edwards, their vice presidential nominee, out for the day to talk to the girls in Iowa about safety and security in the post 9/11 world because, well, you know, terrorism is now a women's issue. What Kerry-Edwards apparently doesn't understand is that women may want their sons home from Iraq, but not if that means that terrorists are going to follow them here. The only person more out to lunch on women and the 2004 election than Kerry-Edwards is Naomi Wolf. Her New York magazine column on women and politics -- the candidates' wives, Karen Hughes and GOP use of imagery, is silly as Wolf substitutes the cutesy phrase for penetrating analysis. She betrays a deeply condescending attitude implying that women are falling for the GOP men because their wives are dressed nicely and tell warm stories about their husbands and thus women voters are ignoring issues such as abortion. Does Ms. Wolf really think women are that stupid?


 
Terri Schiavo is not a right to die case

Matt Vadum, hardly a pro-life zealot like myself, finds the case of Michael Schiavo trying to kill his nominal wife, "distressing." (Nice under-statement, Matt.) Vadum makes the point that few others have and that Florida's judges have failed to realize: it is not a right to die case because Michael Schiavo does not have the right to choose death for Terri Schiavo-Schindler.


 
I left my cloths in San Francisco

Reuters reports that city prosecutors "said it was not illegal to perform naked yoga in the city -- even at the crowded tourist destination of Fisherman's Wharf. As Debbie Mesloh, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, explains, "Simply being naked on the street is not a crime in San Francisco." I am somewhat surprised to find that it took this long to make it official.


 
Good news, bad news in World War IV

George F. Will wrote in the Washington Post yesterday that there is little that can be done to counter Iran's nuclear weapons program because the United States cannot present a credible threat of force and Tehran has no interest in negotiating.

On the other hand, this Washington Times editorial says that it is good news that Indonesian voters rejected Islamic parties and elected former General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as president in a landslide. General Yudhoyono has promised to go after Indonesian terrorists with al Qaeda links.


Thursday, September 23, 2004
 
In how good shape is Bush for November?

Good enough that Karl Rove is talking about victory to the Washington Times and predicting coattails. He also said that many, if not most of the so-called Battleground States are not battlegrounds anymore. Or as Mark Steyn writes in The Spectator, "The so-called ‘battleground’ this election season is all Democrat states."


 
Gum chewers latest victim of big government

Reuters reports: "Bubble-gum blowers beware: Ireland is mulling a tax on chewing gum to fund the cost of cleaning the sticky stuff from its pavements." A government commission suggests a 10% tax on gum, which could raise 4-5 million euros for Irish coffers. However, could this be fought on the grounds that there will be a disproportionate impact on women?


 
Rather has much to answer for

Over at the Daily Standard on Tuesday, Noemie Emery had some questions for Dan Rather in light of his apology for using unauthenticated (which is C-BS for fraudulent) memos. Just a sample:
"We would also like to know something more about the way your stories are structured. We understand that numerous people disputed both the content and authenticity of these disputed memos, talked to you repeatedly, and referred you to others, none of whom ever appeared on air. We wonder if anyone ever told you that when there appear to be two sides of a story, it is common to mention them both. There are two situations in which it is customary to present only one side of a disputed story, and neither one is called journalism. One is in court when making a case to a jury, and the other is when making a case for a candidate in a campaign. Which did you imagine yourself to be in this case, a prosecutor or a campaign official?"
I hope Ms. Emery does not hold her breath waiting for answers.


 
Every inch of Arab land is Muslim holy space

Stephen Schwartz apparently doesn't understand that any place a Muslim is, if he is wanted by Western forces, is deemed holy and thus off limits. We must respect that space. All sarcasm aside, Schwartz has a detailed column at TCS on Saudi Arabia as holy space which concludes:
"Claims about Christian intrusion onto the 'sacred soil' of the Saudi kingdom are political propaganda, not theological argument, whether they are made by Bin Laden, Buchanan, or the bigots of the Wahhabi establishment. They should be disregarded as such, and most certainly should not be the basis of state policy by the Western powers."
There is a lot information for those of you interested in the question of what is Muslim holy soil and why all of Saudi Arabia does not count as such.


 
If I was a Tory (and I am), I'd be worried

Living in Unmentionable Times posts the lyrics to a song John Tory commissioned Bobby McFerrin to write. Here's a sample:
"Here's a little song I wrote,
about John Tory who wants your vote,
don't worry, be Tory

In your town you have some trouble,
but in Toronto our need is double,
don't worry, be Tory
now don't worry be Tory (yeah)"


Oh, yeah, Tory now has my vote.


 
Catching up

Yes, this is a week old but it is amusing. From Living in a Society:
"Current price of gas: $0.80 per litre.

Current share price: $61.65.

Total value of stock: $3.04 billion.

Selling off a crown corporation to cover the expense of a new health-care deal: Priceless."


 
Over at the NCC blog

Gerry Nicholls had a great week batting Ichiro Suzuki like going for four for four on John Tory, union dissention on NAFTA, Dan Rather's shoddy journalism and an excellent piece on Canada's bilingualism fanatic (read the column to which Gerry links).


 
Who is Maurizio Bevilacqua?

If you are the one person who cares about Maurizio Bevilacqua who is not named Maurizio Bevilacqua, then you have to check out J. Kelly Nestruck. On the Fence is all over Maurizio Bevilacqua but JKN is wrong to say Maurizio Bevilacqua is campaigning to replace Paul Martin although he is not wrong to say Maurizio Bevilacqua is upset on not getting a cabinet post. And yes, I do like saying the name Maurizio Bevilacqua although I suppose it would be an impediment to national political success in Canada.


 
Canada is 2004 for hippy

David Mader had the same thought when he read this:
"There are plans for a bronze monument and a festival in Canada to honor U.S. draft dodgers -- and many Americans aren't glad to hear it.
The project is called 'Our Way Home.'
Its director says it was done to honor what he calls 'the courageous legacy of Vietnam War resisters.' He says it also pays tribute to Canadians who helped those Americans resettle in Canada when they fled the draft."

I thought that there was already a Canadian monument to honour draft dodgers -- the Canadian university system. Half of the male professors in the history department at the University of Waterloo when I was there in the early 1990s were draft dodgers -- and no, it didn't colour their teaching of history. This monument and festival is shameful.


 
Breathing easier

For two reasons. The first, is that this month's production of The Interim is complete. The October issue will be up in about two weeks and it includes stories on John Tory winning the leadership of the Ontario PCs, Paul Martin's judicial appointments and double standards and gay bathhouses. The second, and more important, is that the New York Yankees clinched a playoff spot.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004
 
Do you know what your kids are listening to?

All sane people had hoped that Avril Lavigne's 15 minutes were up, but apparently not. In the latest edition of Maxim, she says she likes to use the f-word, is just discovering the joy of skirts and is attracted to guitar players. And then there's this:
"Lavigne also says she's been unfairly portrayed as 'an angry girl who's pissed off all the time.'
Her last fight, she adds, was months ago when another woman confronted her about her music in a bar. The woman got 'up in my face,' so she kicked her in the crotch."

As long as she had a good reason for committing assault, kicking a woman in the crotch is not sign of being an angry girl.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004
 
The Star's classy bitch

Toronto Star media critic and true blonde Antonia Zerbisias on Bush: "Does nothing stick to this guy, who has yet to come clean about his alkie, Vietnam-evading past?" Nice and expected. Remember that one when she lectures Fox News on the tone of their coverage.


 
The continuing idiocy of Robert Scheer

Los Angeles Times columnist Robert Scheer says that real conservatives should vote for Senator Jean Kerry (UltraD, France). Scheer opens his innocuous column thusly:
"If they were true to their principles, moderate Republicans and consistent conservatives would be supporting John Kerry. Instead, their acquiescence to the reckless whims of George W. Bush marks a descent into that political abyss of opportunism where partisanship is everything and principle nothing.
How else to explain their cynical support for this shallow adventurer, a phony lightweight who has bled the Treasury dry while incompetently squandering the lives of young Americans in a needless imperial campaign?"

Well, perhaps conservatives don't see Bush's foreign policy as shallow adventuring. Perhaps they understand that it was not Bush but the escalating costs of entitlements that have "bled the Treasury dry." Speaking of cynical and phony, this was never a concern for liberals until Bush came to power. And never did they publicly worry about Bill Clinton's shallow adventures, using the military 1) more often than any other president in the 20th century and 2) using military operations to distract America from his Oval Office adventures.
The argument that conservatives should not support Bush can be made but it is a stretch to say that conservatives should then support Kerry. But Scheer never makes anything like a conservative case against Bush, perhaps because such a worldview is so alien to him.


 
Too sick to be allowed near a ballot box

Question from a headline on a Health Day News story: "When Are People Too Mentally Ill to Vote?"
Answer: When they register Democrat.


 
Kids are expensive

Especially when you violate China's brutal one-child policy as a couple in Shenzhen are assessed a $94,250 (US) "social fostering fee" for having more than one child. They lose the right to use their house, which illustrates that trading with China has done little to advance the cause of human rights or protecting private property rights.


 
Possible Kerry link to Memogate

AP has the story of two key Kerry aides (former Bill Clinton chief of staff Joe Lockhart and former senator Max Cleland) contacting fake memo source Bill Burkett.


Monday, September 20, 2004
 
Suicide stats could lead to more regulation

This is a little late, but two weeks ago The New Scientist reported: "Suicide kills more people each year than road traffic accidents in most European countries, the World Health Organization is warning. And globally, suicide takes more lives than murder and war put together, says the agency in a call for action." There are, according to the report, an estimated one million suicides a year. NS reports, "The most common methods for committing suicide include swallowing pesticides, using firearms and overdosing on painkillers. Curbing access to these methods is a crucial factor in preventing suicide." The United Nations is interested in an international gun ban; the WHO's warning could serve as ammunition to re-start that campaign.

(Cross-posted at The Shotgun)


 
Dan Rather's apology

We now know what the BS stands for in CBS. Here is Dan Rather's apology with my interpretation of what he really means.

Dan Rather said: "Last week, amid increasing questions about the authenticity of documents used in support of a '60 Minutes Wednesday' story about President Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard, CBS News vowed to re-examine the documents in question-and their source-vigorously. And we promised that we would let the American public know what this examination turned up, whatever the outcome."

Dan Rather meant: "We were caught using bogus material, material we assumed wasn't true but sure as heck hoped was. We gambled that even if it wasn't true, that we would get away with it. However, in 2004 there are these damn things called blogs and alternative media and FNC -- and the F doesn't stand for Fox. This vast right-wing conspiracy kept the issue alive, distracting America from President Bush's weaknesses as president. As you all know, we initially did not investigate the matter hoping it would all blow over, but it didn't. So we reluctantly examined the issue and, well, you know what? -- the documents were fake but true."

Dan Rather said: "Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically."

Dan Rather meant: "Damn, we couldn't authenticate these. We had 'un-named experts' verify that they were okay, but no one bought it."

Dan Rather said: "I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers."

Dan Rather meant: "We were told that no one would ever discover how dubious our source truly was."

Dan Rather said: "That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where - if I knew then what I know now - I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question."

Dan Rather meant: "I thought we could get away with pulling this stunt, but hindsight is 20/20 and obviously we didn't."

Dan Rather said: "But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism."

Dan Rather meant: "You know, we knew they weren't real, but we used them for a higher good: defeating George Bush. We made a mistake in execution and this tactic didn't work. We will be more careful in the future in co-ordinating our anti-Bush campaign with Team Kerry."

Dan Rather said: "Please know that nothing is more important to us than people's trust in our ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully."

Dan Rather meant: "There is nothing more important than defeating George Bush. The next time we pull something like this, we will do a better job. After all, America deserves the best forgeries available."


 
One week left in book deal

Order Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal in the next seven days and Freedom Press (Canada) Inc., will send you a check for $5 to reimburse you for the shipping and handling charges. And you won't be disappointed with this examination of Jean Chretien's real legacy: the centralization of power, the scandals and their cover-ups, the patronage, the lack of ministerial responsibility/accountability and, most importantly, the pursuit of power at all costs.


 
With Tory at the helm, PC has a whole new meaning

An email dispatch today from Giuseppe Gori, leader of the Family Coalition Party, refers to the Ontario PCs as the Pseudo-Conservative Party. I wish I came up with that.


Sunday, September 19, 2004
 
Kerry is the best debater ever!

The Washington Post reports that sources say there will be three presidential candidates debates and one vice presidential candidates debate. In an effort to lower expectations, Matthew Dowd, Bush-Cheney 2004 chief strategist, said Kerry "is very formidable, and probably the best debater ever to run for president ... I'm not joking ... I think he's better than Cicero." Even understanding what Dowd was trying to do, I just lost all respect the guy.


 
A good question for Paul Martin

Calgary Grit writes:
"Paul Martin says he won't intervene in the NHL lock-out. This begs the obvious question about a Paul Martin negotiated collective bargaining agreement: Would the Montreal Canadiens be exempt from the salary cap given they play in a distinct society?"


 
Gates' simplified and stupid black and white world

Harvard's Henry Louis Gates Jr., a guest columnist at the New York Times, purports to know the moment when the black vote began to migrate to the Democrats: "The moment when the Republican Party lost black America can be given a date: Oct. 26, 1960. Martin Luther King Jr., arrested in Georgia during a sit-in, had been transferred to a maximum-security prison and sentenced to four months on the chain gang, without bail. As The Times reported, John F. Kennedy called Coretta King, expressing his concern. Richard Nixon didn't." It all sounds nice and fits into HLG Jr's tidy little worldview of liberals good, conservatives bad, but one imagines that the issue of blacks joining the Democratic plantation is a little more complicated than that. Indeed, Gates notes Nixon's southern strategy, which wasn't employed for another eight years, as contributing to the GOP loss of black support and which seems a more likely candidate for blame for turning blacks into automatic Democrats. It is unlikely that black America knew that JFK called Coretta King and that Richard Nixon did not and it buggers credibility that even if it had that they abandoned the Republicans over it. Before 1960 they were given a 20-point margin to Democrats; in the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower garnered just 40% of the black vote.
The rest of the column actually goes downhill from the opening as Gates blames Republicans for courting the white vote in a way that drives blacks to the Democrats at which point the Democrats can take blacks for granted. He then goes on to say that if the Republicans became a black-friendly big-tent party, it would drive away racist (he doesn't use the word but he certainly implies it) white voters. Such are the standards (read: agenda-driven journalism/scholarship) at the Times and Harvard.


 
Russians got the memo that one is never to actually blame the perps

Near the end of an article on Vlad Putin's post-Beslan power grab, The Economist reports: "Muscovites are admittedly not a balanced sample of the country at large, but it says something that, in an opinion poll after Beslan by the Moscow-based Levada Centre, just a third of those questioned thought the terrorists 'bear responsibility first and foremost' for the attack..." There are certainly problems with the way Moscow has dealth with Chechnya and how Russian authorities deal with hostage situations, but the fact that so few Moscovites would think that the actual terrorists do not "bear responsibility first and foremost" illustrates that modern ways of western thinking have infected Russia, too.