Laurent, over at Polyscopique (a fantastic blog from Quebec - should be require reading) has a fascinating post on the realities of the results and what we can expect to see in the new Canadian government. In light of all the disappointment I've been feeling, this is really a welcome bit of optimism. Go check it out.
Jonah Goldberg is in fine form with this piece on Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. He's what I like to call "on fire."
Which brings me to Michael Moore. He has officially become one of those rare figures who simply by his existence illuminates a great deal about politics. I don't need to know very much about you or your ideas to know that if you think Michael Moore is just great, a truth-teller and a much-needed tonic for everything that is wrong in American life, you are not someone to take seriously about anything of political consequence, or you are French. But I repeat myself.[HatTip to Frank J.]
Now that is not to say that if you think Moore is useful or coming from the "right direction" or some such that you aren't a serious person. One liberal friend (a prominent journalist) who went to the premiere noted that while Moore is for the most part a fraud and a hack, he serves the "cause" by pulling the debate back toward the left; he keeps people on their toes; he raises useful issues, etc. After all, Moore was the one who reintroduced the whole Bush-is-a-deserter canard, which may have torpedoed Wesley Clark's already sinking ship but buoyed the Democrats generally. I have some sincere problems with this sort of "side of the angels" argument - one that is frequently heard on the right about some of our own embarrassments, by the way. But it's certainly true that you can be intellectually honest and serious and hold such opinions...
But the fact remains that the more you think Michael Moore is an insightful and honest person the less reason there is for the rest of us to pay attention when your lips are moving.
[Moore] doesn't make arguments. Arguments require the marshalling of facts under the yoke of reason. Moore makes claims and assertions. He offers visual innuendo. He raises your passions about X so that you will believe Y must be true. He is a whispering Loki who values passion over persuasion, which is one reason he's changed his claims against Bush so many times...
Moore grabs at your base passions to power through his narrative. Which brings me back where I started. The one genre that has mastered the stringing together of unrelated or barely related scenes and facts without much care for the coherence of the narrative solely for the purpose of a visceral response in the audience is, in fact, pornography and Moore is the master of the masturbatory craft.
Tim Russert was right yesterday when he said Moore doesn't deserve to be called a "documentary maker" - but he most certainly deserves his Palme d'Or.
Well, I watched the debacle that was the Canadian Election 2004. I saw the crushing of high hopes and the destruction of expectations of real change, the gleeful commentary from CBC 'reporters' who were relieved to have secure jobs again, and felt the pain of a rather uncertain future for Canadian politics. We now live in a country where the sole power is not Liberal, but NDP. No longer are we at the behest of a government that makes a token gesture to capitalism (as inadequate as that was, it was still a gesture): now we are at the mercy of a socialist party with a very "central role."
All is not lost, though - no matter how badly I feel at this moment, things are better than they seem. The Conservative party did make real gains (though I don't think I'll ever learn to distrust pollsters, and so be disappointed time and time again), and - assuming they don't get stupid and dump Harper like they did Stockwell Day - they have consolidated and inched upward, positioning themselves (perhaps) for a future run with real possibilities.
But tonight, I don't feel any of that rational optimism. I feel only the sting of defeat, and the deflation of hope. So, like a good writer, I grabbed that and turned it into inspiration. Here's the thousand (or so) words that I came up with after the election.
There was a massive blue felt curtain hanging from the rafters. It served as a backdrop for the stage. In front of it were arrayed dozens of copies of the State flag, each sagging limply on an individual pole. Their brilliant and national red made a stark contrast to the deep, dark tapestry behind them. At the center-stage podium stood a man, droning about how good the electorate's showing was this time. About how hopeful he was for the future of the country. About how this was a first step toward the larger goal, toward a better country. It was a winner's speech, but it was not a winner's room.Well, I'm off to sleep. Hopefully I'll feel like this guy in the morning.
The line to the bar at the back of the large gymnasium was already stretching out past the double-turned felt ropes, and moving into the main gym area. It was growing by the second. The 'tenders had run out of whiskey and most of the other hard stuff, so now they were serving - ironically - Budweiser. The King of Beers. An American King at a watery 4%. How could the King be so weak?
The room wasn't paying attention anymore - hadn't been since the results came back, since the lineup for alcohol began - but the speaker didn't really care. He was almost done with his talk now, trying to get through the last few lines so that he could go home, shut it all off, and go comatose for a week. Jetting around the country this past month hadn't been kind to his sleep patterns, and he had been running on fumes for the last five days. That was the real reason he had kept his final campaign appearances brief: he couldn't maintain the façade. Maybe the voters could tell. Maybe that was why everything went so wrong.
Or maybe they were all too apathetic to respond. Maybe he was dealing with an electorate so set in their ways that the most they'd ever do was give their incumbent and perpetual rulers a slightly smaller majority. Or maybe the electorate was scared, frightened into acquiesence by his opponents' hateful propaganda that had blasted over the speakers and screens of the entire population for the past month. Or maybe...maybe. Maybe. The speech was reaching the final point now. Time to wrap it up.
"And, ladies and gentlemen, we've given this country a wake-up call. We're on our way!" That was it. The response was half-hearted. A third of the crowd was now in line to get drinks, another third was gathered around the stage - cheering, but only slightly - and the last third were milling about by the doors, drunk or getting that way. But no matter where he looked, all the eyes were hollow. Shaken. Not stirred, but depressed. Not motivated, but crushed. And for all the soaring rhetoric he had just delivered, he felt the same way.
He shook hands with those closest to him, caught the pungent odors from their breath, and the slight drawl of their speech. The smile he had on never faltered - though it wasn't the grin he would have worn had the election turned out differently - and he held on to it now as his only remaining connection to consciousness. He shook hands lightly, looked desperately for - and found - his wife, who had gathered their two children - both looking nearly as exhausted as he felt - and pushed through the remaining members of his election campaign with the help of the police that had been assigned to escort them around.
Outside by the limo, after he had ushered his family inside, he turned in the space between the open door and the body of the vehicle. He had one foot in the car's plush carpeting, one foot on the asphalt, and as he twisted around, he placed his hand on the top of the door. He looked back at the large building and its crumbling banners, at the streamers that had fallen and ripped and torn. It would all be gone tomorrow. He glanced up and saw a few stars, but most of them had been smothered by the city lights. He closed his eyes, took a long draw of the slightly flavored air, and ducked into the car. The officer behind him made sure all limbs were safely in, and then she closed the door.
Inside, the children were in the process of curling onto the seat cushions, just about asleep. His wife was on her cell phone, whispering something to someone about some aspect of the night's events. He slid into the middle of the large leather bench, put his legs out, and felt his muscles collapse. He closed his eyes. Inhaled the traces of champagne, confetti, and ballons. Saw those huge television screens with their massive talking heads as they read off the polling results, piece by piece. As they methodically unravelled his dream.
He felt a soft exterior pressure on either side of his torso, and half-opened his eyes. The images of failure vanished. His kids had moved to nestle under his arms, and - for the first time in what felt like ages - he smiled without forcing it. He looked up at his wife, who had shut off her phone and tucked it away into her small purse. She was fatigued, drained maybe even more than he was, and yet she was somehow still as beautiful as the day he met her. That glow had never faded.
She caught his eye as she slipped her heels off, and half-crawled, half-slid in front of him, making sure not to disturb the children as they drifted off into dreams. She locked onto his gaze with her own, and - as exhausted as she had to be - he felt her strength flowing back into him again, sustaining him, keeping him awake. They stared at each other - he noted how gorgeous her eyes were for the millionth time - and neither spoke a word. He felt another genuine smile play at his lips, and felt his wife place her hands on his knees as she leaned forward. He saw her mouth creep open into a slight grin.
Her weak smile met his, and they kissed like tired teenagers - not 'married couple' pecks, but kisses that were deep and long. Inside the warmth of this car, he was not the almost-successful politician, or the also-ran leader of the Opposition, or the disenfranchised Alternative Choice. No, inside this car, he was a husband with an amazing wife, and a father with two precious children. He was the most incredibly blessed man on the planet, and that was more than enough.
Hey folks -
I'm still in a bit of a posting stall, but this is enough to make me temporarily shake off those cobwebs: Canadians, go vote today. After all, if you don't, then you forfeit your right to complain.
But it's about more than the right to whine after the fact - the right to vote is one of the most important rights that we have, up there with free speech, et al. As insignificant as it can appear at times, a single vote never truly is. You have a chance to have your say in the direction this country is going. If you keep silent, then you are allowing others to dictate to you what the next five, ten, or hundred years of your life are going to be like. And nobody wants that.
So go vote.
Still in a posting 'funk,' as it were. But this, I think, is important. Check out these two stories from 1999, one by CNN, and the other by the Guardian.
Don't you just love it when the media has selective memory?
[HatTip to Instapundit.]
Hey folks - I don't have a lot to say today, and haven't for the past few days...I'm not sure why, exactly, but I'm not feeling all that talkative. Hmmm.
But, there are some folks who do feel like chatting. And it is important that you read them, even though they're, well...long.
So settle in, you're gonna be there for a while.
First, here's Christopher Hitchens (writer for Slate, Vanity Fair, and - formerly - The Nation) on Fahrenheit 9/11.
Then there's Steven Den Beste on Virtue, Free Speech, and Government Interference.
And, finally, this week marked the launch of the first privately funded spaceship. Sweet! Go read all about it over at Transterrestrial Musings.
Have a great night!
Here is part of the fruit of tonight's work.
When we cannot but glimpse
An object's attraction,
we become too enthralled with
And construct and compend
A tome's worth of fiction
To quench the soul's thirst
And the mind's new addiction.
So women become angels -
Their faces, now paintings -
And all the high symbols
Are dragged through the taintings
Of human concoction
For a person is not
Some false fantasy
But merely a creature
As fallen as 'you,'
With no higher features,
Or sublime attributes.
Only in the mind
Do those things exist -
Where faeries and witches
And dragons subsist;
Where children run freely
And all lives are merry;
Instead of this real world -
Both frightful and scary.
To the true traits of humans
We are so well-attuned
That we flee to the mind
To distract from our doom.
And so we compress,
And distort and amend
The visions we see,
With the ones we pretend.
That in a university where intellectual and ideological diversity is ostensibly fostered, encouraged, and celebrated, one of the most prominent book displays in the University Campus Bookstore features a total of 15 books - and not a single one forwards an opinion that dissents from the mainstream.
Funny - and here I thought I was in school to be presented with a multitude of intellectual perspectives.
Yet again, ignorance is abundant among our 'academic elite.' Pejman Yousefzadeh reports on Berkeley Law Students who "don't seem to understand the function of a legal research memo."
The most vehement arguments are usually made by those who least understand the issue. In this case, it further boggles the mind, because these folks should understand the issue - they're in school for that explicit purpose. Is it time to audit Berkeley's curriculum?
[HatTip to Instapundit.]
Steven Den Beste has an entry up today that really is fantastic. I've already pulled a few one-liners (and a couple longer segments) for possible use as pointed email signatures. Great stuff.
Also, he's linked to a post he wrote on a topic that I (clumsily) tried to address before, but he covers things much better than I did or even could have. This is not the only reason that I believe the American governing system is the best in the world, but it's definitely an important one.
Settle in for an extended period, and read the whole of both entries. As with everything Den Beste writes, you'll come away glad you did.
This is a piece I wrote one night a few months ago, and I just recently came across it as I was perusing my writing archives folder. I thought it provided a bit of insight into how my writing works, and I thought that my friends (and various other readers) might be interested. So here it is.
The sky was black, I remember that vividly. There were lamps on the streets, the houses were all dark fronts with glowing eyes, and you could see fairly easily by the carlights. But there was no mistaking that black sky.
I was tired, just about to walk up those too narrow steps to my room and fall asleep inside, away from the chill in the air and that awful wind that just wouldn't quit. But at the moment, I was leaning against a green and orange taxicab as my housemate's girlfriend handed over the cash we owed the driver.
I turned and looked to my right, to the south, and saw nothing but asphalt stretching to the curve of the horizon. The only cars on the road looked dead, with their eyes closed. It's an eerie and comfortable feeling, all at once like that, to gaze down an empty street in a bustling city. At two in the morning. Feeling the yawns that want to beat you into a pulp. Realizing that you had to get some sleep for the next day. And not wanting to.
Why not? My juices were flowing. Maybe not at the speed they could have been, but it was enough to boil things over. It always happens after I see a good flick. Never fails - I'll get into my car afterwards and go racing down the empty streets, burning gas, trying to keep up with the thoughts in my head. If the movie's really good, maybe I'll sit down and write a little something. But that inspiration is a fleeting thing, and I don't want to lose it. That's why I don't want to go to sleep - because if you close your eyes on this thing, this little nub of a chance, if you shut it down, then it's not going to come back. That little spark is a temporary morsel, and you've got to grab it while you can.
Which is probably why I'm writing now. That spark can be used, needs to be used, and it can be made to do most anything. So long as it is creating (for me, it has to be writing), it gets satisfied - and once it's satisfied, it's all used up. So whatever else you do, you also have to make sure it's worth it. That's another frustration that comes with writing: how do you know that what you're doing is gonna be any good? Is gonna be worth anything? How do you know that what you are jotting down at this very moment is gonna make any difference, or leave any lasting impression? You don't.
You can't. So you just grab that flame of creation and you run like mad. You scramble to put down whatever it is that needs to be scribbled, and you struggle. Not at first, the embers do those opening paragraphs for you; but after that initial rush is gone, you struggle. And that's where most of my ideas get bogged down. They run into a wall (it has different names, sometimes "truth," sometimes "research," sometimes "boredom," sometimes "confusion") that you have to push through. You have to force it. Which really seems ridiculous. When do I do my best writing? When I'm not forcing it. When do I finish anything I start? When I force it (or when it's short).
Have you ever heard the sound of your own voice, and cringed? I do that. I do the same thing when I read some of the awful prose and poetry I construct, too. But every so often, I'll reread something I've jotted down - not ideas, but actual honest-to-goodness writing - and say to myself, "I wonder who wrote that? That's good." It's those moments that make things click, that keep me trying; because I realize in those instances that I have the raw material that's required. I've just got to get it assembled.
So I tear my eyes away from that incredible sky, stumble upstairs, and collapse in front of the computer. With any luck, this time it'll be good.
There's always a lot going on in the world, but it doesn't always flip my "write about this" switch (as those of you who frequent this site are well aware). Today is one of those days in which I don't really have much to say.
As always, something may strike me as post-worthy later, but as of right now (1:10pm EDT), I got nothing.
Fiction writing proceeds apace, however. Keep an eye out for some poetry later.
With the sun over my shoulder,
And the city sky before,
The rays light up the glass frames.
The gathering storm -
black behind the towers -
creates a startling backdrop
as yellow contrasts
and silver reflections
draw the eye into weather's menace
The sun is still out,
and yet the sky grows dark.
Okay, this whole issue is now closed. The UN has found that Saddam shipped WMD out of Iraq:
The United Nations has determined that Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction components as well as medium-range ballistic missiles before, during and after the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003.Those taking the 'Saddam had no WMD' line against the Iraq war are now officially without an argument. (Not that they ever had one, really). Those taking the 'We haven't found WMD so the war is wrong' approach are also relegated to the sidelines.
The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission briefed the Security Council on new findings that could help trace the whereabouts of Saddam's missile and WMD program.
The briefing contained satellite photographs that demonstrated the speed with which Saddam dismantled his missile and WMD sites before and during the war. Council members were shown photographs of a ballistic missile site outside Baghdad in May 2003, and then saw a satellite image of the same location in February 2004, in which facilities had disappeared.
[T]he Iraqi facilities were dismantled and sent both to Europe and around the Middle East. at the rate of about 1,000 tons of metal a month. Destinations included Jordan, the Netherlands and Turkey.The WMD question is settled, folks - the UN says so.
The Baghdad missile site contained a range of WMD and dual-use components, UN officials said. They included missile components, reactor vessel and fermenters - the latter required for the production of chemical and biological warheads.
Can I hammer this point home yet again? Power Line takes a look at what's going on with those "two" LA Times polls that were released a few days ago.
On June 10, the Los Angeles Times published poll findings that purported to show John Kerry with a seven-point lead over President Bush. The Times headlined its poll "Voters Shift in Favor of Kerry." The poll results were reported world-wide, generally as fact, notwithstanding that other polls, less well publicized, have shown very different results.Ugh. Even the polls are being manipulated. Go, read, and be enlightened. Oh, and stop reading the LA Times.
The administration's chief pollster, Matthew Dowd, called the Times poll a "mess," noting that it had obviously over-sampled Democrats.
The next day, June 11, the L.A. Times published another poll, this one headlined: "Going to War Not Worth It, More Voters Say." In this poll, respondents said by a 53% to 43% margin that the Iraq war was "not worth it." This poll, too, was reported world-wide, and hundreds of newspapers reported as fact that a majority of Americans had turned against the war.
But, as the eagle-eyed Dafydd ab Hugh points out, it doesn't appear that the Times ran two polls at all...
I was reading my friend Brian's blog this morning, and came across his post on the upcoming election. As far as the prognostication goes, I think he's right - the June 28th election is not looking like it will give way to a five (or four?) year government, and Canadians will be back at the polls again before long. However, I just had to comment (which I did in his comments section) on the kid-glove handling he does for Paul Martin:
Boy, you have to be impressed with Paul Martin. This is the man who was the brains behind one of the most successful fiscal policy runs in recent history. 6 years ago, people had him pegged as Chretien's successor and the next great Liberal leader. Now, he's fighting for his political life, using every dirty trick in the book to try to obfuscate the real issues of the election.Working for the Toronto Star now, are we? <big, huge, evil grin> Here's what I said:
Sadly, nobody knew Chretien was going to exit in classic CEO fashion: everybody thinks everything's great, the old leader gets an awesome send-off into the sunset, the new leader comes in and gets to find all the crap under the front porch. Said crap is also discovered by the media and the opposition and, suddenly, the new leader is left with a bad choice: spit on the legacy of the man before or take the heat himself. Either way, he takes the hit.
Of course, Martin hasn't helped himself by taking the low road against Harper. I have yet to see this tactic work, yet it's always been used by parties who start out in the lead, only to see it evaporate the closer we get to election day.
I just gotta point out here, Brian, that it seems you're being rather naive concerning Martin.For those of you interested in more, Andrew Coyne has quite a few posts on the subject.
How long was Martin financial minister for Chretien? Do you really think he didn't know anything about this whole financial to-do? If that's true, then he's certainly not someone I want in charge of the country - if he didn't know what was going on in the portion of the government for which he was personally responsible, then he doesn't need to go anywhere near the Prime Minister's office. (I don't believe that for a second - Martin is many things, but stupid is not one of them).
At the same time, the other (and only other) explanation is that he did know about the financial sponsorship hullabaloo (aka AdScam aka "The Crap Under the Porch") and either a) encouraged it b) organized it or c) did nothing to stop it. Any of those three options (and they're the only three that logically exist), and this man is automatically disqualified from holding any public office. "...find all the crap under the front porch?" Right. Sure. But why was there crap under the front porch to begin with? Because Martin defecated (or allowed someone else to defecate) there.
Either he was hopelessly incompetent, or he was/is thoroughly corrupt - I'm not seeing any middle ground here. Either way, he's lying to save his own skin. Is he a loser? Sure. But he's a loser because of his character and his behavior, not because he inheirited a bum deal.
The point I was trying to make is that the party leader is the public face. Given that Adscam was going to break sooner or later, the Liberals were going to take a massive public hit. Compounding that was the mishandling of McGuinty's first Ontario budget. Chretien clearly saw the writing on the wall and opted to leave ahead of the avalanche. He received a glorious sendoff and Martin is going to be pointed at as the leader that was at the wheel when the Liberals were tossed from the seat of power. Chretien's legacy will suffer, but nowhere near the degree it would have had he stayed for one more election.I am in complete agreement. Heck, I'd even agree if he suggested Canada file proceedings to indict M Chretien - but then, perhaps I'm a bit extreme.
Okay, this is just screaming for attention.
"National Mourning Helps Bush Politically For Now"
And look what shows up inside the story (emphases mine) -
A week of national mourning for Ronald Reagan has helped President Bush politically by shunting Democrat John Kerry to the sidelines and driving bad news from Baghdad off the front pages.First, they need to make up their minds. Either it "has helped" or it "could" help - it can't be both. One or the other, gentlemen. Second, leaving aside the fact that when John Kerry isn't in the headlines his poll numbers get a boost (read: he doesn't do well when he's in the public eye), notice that it's a completely unnecessary story! They are literally reporting on the effect that news stories are having on...the news! <gasp!> Who wouldda thunk it?!
This week's burst of Reagan nostalgia, which included a flood of tributes to the Republican icon and reminders of Bush's claim to Reagan's legacy, could provide at least a short-term political boost for the president in his race for re-election.
"Say, Jones, this 'honor the dead President' thing is really going on a long time - do you think that it'll help Bush by, perhaps, shunting Democrat John Kerry to the sidelines and driving bad news from Baghdad off the front pages?"Dear God in Heaven. This is so blatant it's disgusting.
"Well, I dunno, Smith. It might. For now [insert evil cackling here]. But once we run this story on how national mourning is moving the 'important' news off the front page, things should be back to normal."
The initial claim that Bush has benefited politically from Reagan's death is presented as an absolute in the headline and lede, but in the second sentence it mysteriously transforms into nothing more than a maybe, maybe not. That sets us up nicely for the rest of the piece, which in fact presents no real evidence to support either headline or lede.No excuse, indeed. And notice the implicit acknowledgement by the "Journalism Watchdog" (Campaign Desk's avowed purpose) that reporters are going to hype their headlines. That reporters do so isn't surprising, of course, but the acknowledgement is notable. Yet another piece of evidence for the 'Trust No One' pile.
This could be either the work of an overzealous editor, or of a reporter intent on souping up his story to make the wire -- after all, the more strongly-worded initial assertion is certainly more eye-catching than the speculative follow-up.
But that's no excuse for offering us a statement that you can't back up.
Orson Scott Card, author of the Ender and Alvin Maker series of novels, expounds on bias:
In every case of bias I just cited, the writers would almost certainly be outraged at my accusation that they were doing anything other than reporting the facts as clearly and fairly as possible.For the record, Card considers himself a Democrat:
It doesn't occur to them that they are biased because they live in a box filled with people who share exactly the same bias.
But that's how we human beings create our working definition of "sanity" -- someone who shares the same world-view as his neighbors is "sane," and those who don't are crazy.
The Left-wing news media live in a tiny village of people who all think (or pretend to think) exactly alike. Therefore, to them any reporter or media outlet that rejects their premises must be insane or dishonest, and instead of seeking to refute them with actual evidence, they merely call them names and accuse them of venal motives.
I used to call myself a "Moynihan Democrat."Or perhaps a "Zell Miller Democrat?" For more political musings from Card, check out ornery.org. Or, if politics isn't your thing, you can pay a visit to hatrack.com. But if politics doesn't interest you, then why are you here?
But now that he's dead, I'm reduced to calling myself a "Tony Blair Democrat."
Today is the State Funeral for Ronald Reagan (going on as I type this). It's an absolutely gorgeous day (and has been a fantastically beautiful morning), and I thought it was quite appropriate that the Gipper get his send off on such a day.
Farewell, Mr. President.
[E]ven the most dedicated media filter can't help but let through the media/Leftist meme that Reagan was simply fortunate in his timing; it was really Saint Mikhail of Stavropol who "ended the Cold War." This quaint fiction ignores the history of the 1980's, to say nothing of their happy ending. Gorbachev, the last dictator of the Soviet Union, "ended" that conflict by losing it, and his own grasp of empire, in a popular revolution.He includes a very appropriate assessment of the conflict from the standpoint of a Soviet general:
Lest we forget, this dictator did not "step down," or "release" power--he was removed by his own people. Lest we forget, just months after being awarded a Nobel Prize for not invading his neighbors (by those standards, every U.S. President should earn the award for years in which they fail to march on Canada and Mexico), Gorbachev sent KGB black beret thugs into Lithuania and Latvia, where they murdered numerous pro-democracy activists. Noting that Gorbachev was the "least bad" of the USSR's sordid pantheon of despots comes close to the very definition of damning with faint praise.
As George Bush (41) aptly noted, Communism didn't fall. It was pushed.
"You know what caused the downfall of the Soviet Union? You know what did it?" demanded a senior [Soviet] general, a little flush with vodka.Indeed.
Some racked their brains with thoughts of missile defense, perpetual shortages of everything from soap to vodka, the U.S. military buildup. The general banged his fist again. "That damn speech about the evil empire! That's what did it!" The general was standing now, and to the questioning eyes of one American he added: "It was an evil empire. It was."
I am deeply convinced that President Bush's political adversaries have no moral right to attack him over Iraq because they did exactly the same.I wonder if Putin is one of these mysterious "Foreign Leaders" who supposedly are backing John Kerry for President. Somehow, I doubt it.
It suffices to recall Yugoslavia. Now look at them. They don't like what President Bush is doing in Iraq.
it is of pressing interest to see what the architects of Kosovo, and its predecessor campaign in Bosnia, have to say about Bush?s controversial war. As luck would have it, there are recent books from three key Yugoslavia warriors: Madeleine Albright, the Munich-haunted Czechoslovak ?migr? who was the most influential anti-Milosevic hawk in Clinton?s cabinet; George Soros, the Munich-haunted Hungarian ?migr? and billionaire philanthropist who was among the earliest and most influential nongovernmental voices to urge military action against Serb nationalists; and Wesley Clark, the retired supreme allied commander of NATO who directed the Kosovo War.Read The Whole Thing.
So what?s wrong with regime change in Iraq, whose dictator made the democratically elected (and defeated) Vladimir Meciar look like Thomas Jefferson? Soros? explanation is almost laughably tortured: "When the weapons of mass destruction could not be found, President Bush fell back on the justification of liberating Iraq from a heinous dictator and introducing democracy. That is indeed a noble cause, which could have justified the invasion if the president had made a case for it. But that was not the case that President Bush had presented to Congress, and presumably, Congress would not have endorsed it."
Later, "noble cause" notwithstanding, Soros compares Iraq unfavorably to Vietnam, rues that "it could have been avoided," and then announces that "admittedly, Saddam was a heinous tyrant and it was a good thing to get rid of him" -- and that?s just on a single page. A page later, he laments that the United States, because of overextension in Iraq, "has been reluctant to get engaged in Liberia, causing unnecessary suffering." To be only slightly unfair, Soros seems to oppose toppling tyrants only when it is Bush?s White House doing the dirty work.
Why? Because the president has embraced the doctrine of military pre-emption, allowed some members of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century to have positions of influence on foreign policy, and noisily mocked multilateralism in favor of case-by-case bilateral arrangements, thereby making the rest of the world, including longtime allies, nervous and surly.
The criticism is valid enough, and Albright shares it, though to a less vitriolic degree. (Soros decries "Bush?s rabid unilateralism," while Albright worries diplomatically that "the great institutions forged by the trans-Atlantic partnership that saved freedom in the twentieth century are in jeopardy" and "must be rescued and revitalized if that blessing is to survive the twenty-first.")
But both fail to acknowledge that the democratizing idealism of Bush administration officials such as Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is in fact suspiciously similar to their own nosy Wilsonianism.
To Lenin they were useful idiots, but now that they aren't useful to anyone anymore it's interesting to see that they're still idiots.I wonder if Communist supporters will ever recognize the fact that they lost?
Yeah, that's it. Everyone's jealous of Cuba's incredible achievements in human development. And North Korea's amazing success at fighting obesity. Socialist agriculture may produce famine, but it sure is an effective program against obesity.
"The Baghdad City Council, largely a mix of previously apolitical technocrats, ranging from sheiks to secularists and from lawyers to engineers, has become a power in its own right. Council members were selected by their neighbors almost a year ago, and after first focusing on their neighborhoods, have since started to speak out on national issues."
Western institutions and individuals continue to give practical assistance to Iraqis; for example lawyers from Nothingam University in the UK, who in week-long seminars are training Iraqi officials in how to build human rights programs. Or Kristi Gruizenga, a U.S. State Department specialist stationed in Baghdad, who advises female Iraqi politicians: "These Iraqi women are so brave, so smart and well educated, so motivated. They know they're making themselves targets for terrorists, but it doesn't faze them. This shows the Iraqi people are taking ownership of their country." Or a retired US Navy commander, who is converting a former secret police facility into a first-class camp for Iraqi Boy Scouts.
let us not forget the humanitarian problem that doesn't exist anymore: in the first quarter of 2004, 92,679 applications for asylum in the West were lodged; this represents a 16% decrease on the previous quarter and a 25% on the same quarter in 2003. The reason? "Iraqis and Afghans comprised the two biggest asylum groups in 2001 and 2002, but their numbers have dropped dramatically since then. The number of Iraqi asylum-seekers in the first quarter of 2004, for example, was 2,143 – 81 per cent below the figure from the corresponding period last year." That's what's called solving the refugee problem at the source - the only method that really works. Meanwhile, more than 11,000 Iraqi refugees looked after by the United Nations have returned home since July last year.There's tons more, and you should go absorb every bit of it. And if that weren't enough, Arthur has two more posts full of this kind of great news.
The UN plans to deal with another complaint against Israel as well, though this one is much older. It concerns Israel?s air raid on Iraq?s atomic reactor no fewer than 23 years ago.You mean the raid on Saddam's nuclear capabilities? The one that destroyed his nuclear program and forced him to go outside his own country looking for a replacement? That one? 'Cause I'm pretty darn sure that Israel did the entire world a huge favor there. As Brian T. puts is:
All right, what possible message could the UN be trying to send with this...other than, "We like Saddam better than Israel"?
The sheer brazenness with which the UN is trying to convince the world of its shameless agenda is simply astonishing. I guess they know there's no consequences, so why not become the Legion of Doom?
It appears that in a strange twist, life has come to imitate mockery. Liberal candidate John Godfrey had this to say about the choice between the Liberals and Conservatives:It's very, very hard for me to keep from laughing here... HAHAHAHA HAHAHA hahahaha! Whew! Oh, man. Hehehehehehe....heh. Heh. Ahhh...
"We may not be the public's favorite, but we're the devil they know,"
So let me get this straight ? The plaintive Liberal cry is now: ?We are the devil. We are not your favourite. Why vote for anyone else?? Did I miss any nuances?
Good morning, folks! Today's looking rather overcast and cool - a beautiful combination during the summer, assuming rain isn't involved - so I'm gonna get this thing done early and head outside to walk around in the weather. Let's begin!
I am not making this up. "Since the beginning of this election," the Liberal press release warns, "Stephen Harper has run a stealth campaign. Mr. Harper is an articulate right-wing, anti-choice candidate who holds radical conservative views and is willing to patiently employ 'an incremental approach' to realize his makeover of Canada and its Government."Need more evidence that the Liberals are falling apart? From Andrew's National Post column:
An incremental approach? You mean, if we elect this guy Harper, he'll take things slowly, cautiously, one step at a time, not plunge the country into revolutionary chaos? You mean, we might have to elect him again, and again, before he could realize his fiendish master plan? My God! Why weren't we told sooner?
[T]here is nothing novel or threatening in Mr. Harper's pledge that these issues would be subject to free votes rather than by government legislation. Nor does his position in this regard differ to any great degree from that of the Prime Minister.And for this, Harper is accused of being "a threat to the Charter." Right. On these criteria, democracy is a threat to the Charter.
What is new, what the media have not yet wrapped their mind around, is that the free vote, until now the exception, is about to become the rule. This is certainly the case if the Conservatives are elected -- as the Liberals constantly remind us, these are the Alliance-Conservatives -- and is alleged to be the position of the Prime Minister. In such a changed institutional setting, individual MPs should not be faulted for sharing their views on these and other points of controversy: They should be expected to do so. I don't much care what Mr. Harper's views on abortion are. I do care what the candidates in my riding feel about it, since if it comes to a vote, it is my MP, and others, whose opinions will count. We had better get used to this, as henceforth it will apply to many other questions as well.
There is one respect, however, in which Mr. Harper and Mr. Martin differ:...Mr. Harper would invoke the notwithstanding clause to uphold the will of Parliament. Mr. Martin says he would not -- although he has also said he would invoke notwithstanding in the event that the Supreme Court were to rule that the same requirement to acknowledge the right of gays to marry should be binding upon the Churches.
|Liberals||(Bid) 32.0||(Offer) 33.0|
|Conservatives||(Bid) 33.9||(Offer) 34.9|
|NDP||(Bid) 16.5||(Offer) 17.0|
|Bloc Quebecois||(Bid) 10.2||(Offer) 10.7|
|Green Party||(Bid) 4.4||(Offer) 4.9|
Banned weapons, and the equipment for making them, have been turning up all over--Sudan and Jordan, as well as Iraq. Now it appears that such materials are so plentiful that they are showing up as scrap metal. Yet it is an article of faith in the press that Iraq had no WMD programs. Or "stockpiles," or wherever the goal posts are today. Yet for reasons I can't fathom, the administration appears to be going along with the media spin. I don't get it.This is one of those things that is just confusing. Not the presence of WMD - that's undeniable (go ahead, try to deny it...please) - but the Bush administration's apparent lack of interest in clearing its name. I know, I know, the media doesn't help - but for all the vaunted skill of Karl Rove as a 'master political strategist,' he doesn't seem to be going out of his way to take advantage of the gifts that keep falling into his lap.
The East Bay Express quotes student Micki Weinberg.Read the whole thing."That's why I came to Berkeley -- because of its strong romantic aura of the Free Speech Movement and Mario Savio. Then I got here and discovered that that light seems to have been extinguished. You have this vitriol. You feel it everywhere. Berkeley is now the epicenter of real hatred."This isn't only happening in Berkeley. Two years ago Lauri Zoloth wrote about the same climate of hate on the other side of the bay at San Francisco State University."I cannot fully express what it feels like to have to walk across campus daily, past maps of the Middle East that do not include Israel, past posters of cans of soup with labels on them of drops of blood and dead babies, labeled "canned Palestinian children meat, slaughtered according to Jewish rites under American license," past poster after poster calling out "Zionism=Racism" and "Jews=Nazis"...This is the Weimar Republic with brown shirts it cannot control. This is the casual introduction of the medieval blood libel and virulent hatred smeared around our campus in a manner so ordinary that it hardly excites concern?"Skinheads, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Klansman aren't behind this, as would have been expected before Al Qaeda crashed airplanes into our buildings. Palestinian nationalism is the hot new cause for the cool kids, and the new (or is it old?) anti-Semitism is the handiwork of the far-left and their radical campus friends from the Middle East.
Most of the students who promote a free Palestine don't hate Jews, whatever they think of Israeli counter-terrorism. But they put up with hate in the ranks all the same. Even the more radical and racist Palestinian activists are "allies" in the campus cause du jour
This is what Political Correctness has become. Mere opponents are falsely denounced as "racists" while virulently racist allies are given a pass by the very same people.
It's bad enough that the torchbearers of Political Correctness compromised their honorable anti-racist principles with expediency and hypocrisy. But what's left of Political Correctness is worse even than that. There's also something implicitly racist about it. White Christians are held to the highest possible standard. They're expected not to have a racist thought in their heads and are called out for the slightest infraction. Culprits who really are racist (and who aren't merely guilty of checking the "wrong" box on their voter registration) deserve all the shellacking they get. Meanwhile, however, ethnic and religious minorities are allowed to behave like skinheads. It looks as though the activist set expects hatemongering anti-social behavior from Muslim immigrants just as they expect a dog to pee on the rug. It's the "soft bigotry of low expectations" with a racial twist.
Political Correctness is finished. What started out as intolerance of hate has become hatred's enabler. It fails to live up to its own standard and can't possibly become more absurd than it already is. It slid all the way down the slippery slope and annihilated itself.
What do we have here? Banned Iraqi missile engines? Found in Jordan? <gasp> You mean, Iraq did have illegal weaponry? The were in violation of all 17 UN resolutions that promised military action? Oh, goodness - I guess those in opposition to the war will have no choice but to reverse their positions now, huh? Offer to support the rebuilding? That is, so long as they actually respect the rulings of the United Nations. And we all know they do, right?
Well, I guess not. Apparently, even having proved the Baathist party's guilt, this is still asking too much for France.
[Long-form post coming soon, this was just a hold-over story from last night's before-bed surfing. - Ed.]
Sorry for the lack of posting today - things were a bit hectic 'round here.
To answer Brian's question, no yesterday's multitude of postings did not come at the expense of a workout - class has ended early for the past three days (including today), and this has allowed me to get to the gym earlier than usual, and get home earlier than usual - so this left me with more time to blog.
As for today's goings-on, I've been writing. A lot. I'm nearly done with the first draft of my first short story - all that is left is to write up the conclusion to the plot (woo-hoo!). The second and third stories are also well underway.
Before I launched into my fiction-writing escapade, however, I wrote (and turned in) my first 'position paper' for American Lit. We discussed these papers in our seminar, and I'm pleased to announce that if the TA grades according to the way our discussion went, I might just have netted myself an A. I honestly owe this grade (assuming it comes back as good as it feels like it will) to this blog. It's allowed me to sharpen my argumentation skills to the degree that this paper was quite possibly the easiest I've had to churn out in all of University (I was to defend or attack a critic's view of Edith Wharton's novel Ethan Frome - I was able to use a semi-Fisk style to demonstrate the weakness of his position).
I'm rambling now, as I'm tired (long workout), and ready for bed - so I'll let y'all go (not that you're held here anyway). See you tomorrow, when I hope to (finally) return to my long-post format. 'Night!
Looks like we get an object example of exactly why we must be careful even when watching the Nightly News. From the New England Republican, here's the annotated transcript of the D-Day Tom Brokaw/George W. Bush interview as compared to what actually ran.
Last night while flipping channels, I came across the tail end of the Tom Brokaw interview with President Bush in Normandy, France. While Brokaw repeatedly tried to catch him in a gotcha moment, the President came across as thoughtful and gave well-reasoned answers....[HatTip to Tim Blair]
Since I had missed the beginning, I decided to go to the NBC site to see if the video was available. As I watched the video, I also read the transcript. Although it was not my intent, this allowed me to see what had been edited out of the video. I was not surprised to see that whole questions and answers had not been used in the video. However, I was surprised to see that important portions from the middle of some of the President's answers had been deleted out, in some cases removing points that helped the President present his side to the American people....
I have posted the transcript from the interview below and I have bolded the portions that were not shown in the video. I have also interspersed some of my thoughts as well.
P.J. O'Rourke is, as ever, spot on.
I was listening to Rush Limbaugh shout about Wesley Clark, who had just entered the Democratic presidential-primary race. Was Clark a stalking horse for Hillary Clinton?! Was Clark a DNC-sponsored Howard Dean spoiler?! "He's somebody's sock puppet!" Limbaugh bellowed. I agreed; but a thought began to form. Limbaugh wasn't shouting at Clark, who I doubt tunes in to AM talk radio the way I tune in to NPR. And "Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop!" was not a call calculated to lure Democratic voters to the Bush camp. Rush Limbaugh was shouting at me.This is of a piece with my earlier ramblings about The Purpose Of Argument (which desperately needs a rewrite), but I think he touches on something that I failed to recognize (or at least failed to write down - I can never remember all the thoughts that fly through my head as I scramble to jot them down): this is as much a problem in Mass Media as it is in our personal lives - probably more of a problem. And it's something I'll have to think and write some more on later, because right now, I'm too tired to go any further. Ah, well - see ya tomorrow!
Well, there it went. All that oil, now in the hands of the Iraqi government. As Brian T. notes, "And I was so enjoying the historically low gas prices to which we've all become accustomed ever since the invasion."
Heh. 'Blood-For-Oil', riiiight...
Okay, forget EVERYTHING I've blogged today, if only to make room for this. At Seraphic Secret, Robert is blogging his grief over the death his son. Start from the beginning (scroll all the way to the bottom). This is a modern update to A Grief Observed, and everyone who can must read it. This just might be what blogging is all about.
I know, I'm a bit late - but the reason for this blog is to inform those members of my family and friends who don't regularly surf the web for this kind of stuff, so I'm posting it anyway!
This article over at Reason has been linked to by many many people (so many that I'm not sure where I first got the link from), and for good reason. It needs to be read.
Journalism, academia, policy wonkery: They all maintain well-oiled Orwellian memory holes, into which errors vanish without a trace. Stern pronouncements are hurled down like thunderbolts from Zeus, and, like Zeus, their authors are totally unaccountable to mere human beings. Time?s Strobe Talbott decreed in 1982 that it was "wishful thinking to predict that international Communism some day will either self-destruct or so exhaust itself in internecine conflict that other nations will no longer be threatened." A Wall Street analyst who misjudged a stock so badly would find himself living under a bridge, if not sharing a cell with Martha Stewart. But Talbott instead became Bill Clinton?s deputy secretary of state, where he could apply his perspicacious geopolitical perceptual powers to Osama bin Laden.Folks, I know I've harped this over and over, but dadgum it, I'm gonna say it again. If you are relying solely on Big Media for your news, you are uninformed. Worse, you are probably misinformed. There is no perfect news source in existence - just as there is no perfect system of government in existence - but there certainly are sources that are better. It's hard in today's world, I know, what with being so busy, but if you really want to be informed, you've got to do your own digging.
One of the most striking revelations in the exposure of the Jayson Blair disaster at The New York Times was his fabrication of an entire visit to the West Virginia farm of POW Jessica Lynch?s family, including detailed descriptions of rivers and cattle herds that did not exist. Lynch?s parents read the story, laughed at the ludicrous falsehoods, but made no attempt to correct them. It never occurred to them that there was any point. Anybody who reads papers or watches television news knows how rare corrections are.
That?s especially true when the mistake is not a discrete, concrete fact like a misspelled name but a broader error of perspective or analysis. It took decades for the Times to admit that the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting of its Stalin-era Moscow bureau chief, Walter Duranty, was delusionary drivel. Even so, his Pulitzer stands. And the Times has yet to bite the bullet on its correspondent Herbert J. Matthews, the clueless Castro groupie who wrote that the comandante was winning his guerrilla war in Cuba at a time when he actually commanded fewer than 20 men.
I came across this piece via Let It Bleed, and even linked to the post where Bob commented on it below, but I've just got to tag it here, too - it's very important.
From the Globe And Mail, I give you: An Admission Of Left-Wing Media Bias:
So how did we get from [pre-abortion] counselling (Mr. Martin said almost the same thing to a high-school audience in Saskatoon) to an imperilled Charter, deemed to be the keystone to Canadian democracy?It's getting so bad that reporters themselves are starting to go "Wait A Minute..." Let's hope more of them wake up.
Answer: by a lot of hyperbole, which the media not only faithfully reported, but in many cases prompted.
...when I just want to be Bob Tarantino. Or, given that I know nothing of him personally, then I wish I had his "mad blogging skillz." Today is a phenomenal day over at Let It Bleed. Go read about American "Torture", the Liberal Party's fear of democracy, and Left-Wing media bias. Smokin!
Prosecutors are struggling to build a case against Saddam Hussein because they lack both witnesses and evidence to prove the ousted Iraqi dictator is guilty of atrocities.Brilliant, just brilliant! The man kills hundreds of thousands of his own people, and because he was so darn good at it we can't find the evidence to convict him.
You know why certain political groups don't like Harper's policy of allowing free voting in Parliament (as opposed to strict party-line voting)? Because they only like democracy when it is certain that they will win - that is, not at all. Le blog de Polyscopique has more.
Pearson, Trudeau and Mulroney all "hid behind the House of Commons" if this is the way we must describe the act of "letting Parliament pronounce itself." The MPs that wanted to abolish the death penalty benefited from this freedom of action; why should it be denied to the MPs that want reinstatement? The role of Parliament is to introduce, to debate and to pronounce itself on bills; why fear so much that we could let it do its job?Indeed. As I commented on Laurent's blog a few days ago, if "you want accountability in government [then] this is the first step." Let 'em vote, Mr. Harper!
The Blog Quebecois has a harsh reminder of the character of some of our current (and former) Canadian leadership.
It says something about a culture when we can count on an American president, an American filmmaker, and an American corporation to be more considerate of Canadian martial history than the self-important fools that we keep electing to office.Read it all.
|"We've done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for eight years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren't just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger. We made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all."
- Ronald Reagan, 40th President, United States Of America
Bob Tarantino is on a roll.
Glance up at the title of this post. Indeed."The Chrétien government's decision not to enter the Iraq war is a defining moment in Canada's foreign-policy history."Well, yes, it was a 'defining' moment, but probably not in the way that the laughable Chretien and his groupies would like. For the first time in our history, our government looked at our three staunchest allies (the US, the UK and Australia), then looked at a mustachioed Jew-hating dictator who had murdered somewhere around one million of his citizens and thought to themselves 'we're sticking with that guy'. Nice.
Here are two of the headlines on my Yahoo! news page. One right under the other. It encapsulates the entire situation very well, I think:
"Pope Meets Bush, Renews Criticism of War"
"Iraq Leader Defends U.S. Troop Presence"
Not even the Pope is asking the Iraqis what they want. For the opinions that really matter, go see Zeyad, Omar, and Alaa, among others.
[Headlines current as of 12:18pm EDT. Image below. - Ed.]
In lieu of a 'real' post today (rather busy, sorry!), I thought I'd offer up a short essay I came across by the remarkable Mark Twain. (And yes, copyright has expired - for more texts like this, visit Project Gutenberg).
A Word Of Encouragement For Our Blushing Exiles...Well, what do you think of our country now? And what do you think of the figure she is cutting before the eyes of the world? For one, I am ashamed. [Extract from a long and heated letter from a Voluntary Exile, Member of the American Colony, Paris.]And so you are ashamed. I am trying to think out what it can have been that has produced this large attitude of mind and this fine flow of sarcasm. Apparently you are ashamed to look Europe in the face; ashamed of the American name; temporarily ashamed of your nationality. By the light of remarks made to me by an American here in Vienna, I judge that you are ashamed because:
1. We are meddling where we have no business and no right; meddling with the private family matters of a sister nation; intruding upon her sacred right to do as she pleases with her own, unquestioned by anybody.
2. We are doing this under a sham humanitarian pretext.
3. Doing it in order to filch Cuba, the formal and distinct disclaimer in the ultimatum being very, very thin humbug, and easily detectable by you and virtuous Europe.
4. And finally you are ashamed of all this because it is new, and base, and brutal, and dishonest; and because Europe, having had no previous experience of such things, is horrified by it and can never respect us nor associate with us any more.
Brutal, base, dishonest? We? Land Thieves? Shedders of innocent blood? We? Traitors to our official word? We? Are we going to lose Europe's respect because of this new and dreadful conduct? Russia's, for instance? Is she lying stretched out on her back in Manchuria, with her head among her Siberian prisons and her feet in Port Arthur, trying to read over the fairy tales she told Lord Salisbury, and not able to do it for crying because we are maneuvering to treacherously smouch Cuba from feeble Spain, and because we are ungently shedding innocent Spanish blood?
Is it France's respect that we are going to lose? Is our unchivalric conduct troubling a nation which exists to-day because a brave young girl saved it when its poltroons had lost it - a nation which deserted her as one man when her day of peril came? Is our treacherous assault upon a weak people distressing a nation which contributed Bartholomew's Day to human history? Is our ruthless spirit offending the sensibilities of the nation which gave us the Reign of Terror to read about? Is our unmanly intrusion into the private affairs of a sister nation shocking the feelings of the people who sent Maximilian to Mexico? Are our shabby and pusillanimous ways outraging the fastidious people who have sent an innocent man (Dreyfus) to a living hell, taken to their embraces the slimy guilty one, and submitted to indignities Emile Zola - the manliest man in France?
Is it Spain's respect that we are going to lose? Is she sitting sadly conning her great history and contrasting it with our meddling, cruel, perfidious one - our shameful history of foreign robberies, humanitarian shams, and annihilations of weak and unoffending nations? Is she remembering with pride how she sent Columbus home in chains; how she sent half of the harmless West Indians into slavery and the rest to the grave, leaving not one alive; how she robbed and slaughtered the Inca's gentle race, then beguiled the Inca into her power with fair promises and burned him at the stake; how she drenched the New World in blood, and earned and got the name of The Nation With The Bloody Footprint; how she drove all the Jews out of Spain in a day, allowing them to sell their property, but forbidding them to carry any money out of the country; how she roasted heretics by the thousands and thousands in her public squares, generation after generation, her kings and her priests looking on as at a holiday show; how her Holy Inquisition imported hell into the earth; how she was the first to institute it and the last to give it up - and then only under compulsion; how, with a spirit unmodified by time, she still tortures her prisoners to-day; how, with her ancient passion for pain and blood unchanged, she still crowds the arena with ladies and gentlemen and priests to see with delight a bull harried and persecuted and a gored horse dragging his entrails on the ground; and how, with this incredible character surviving all attempts to civilize it, her Duke of Alva rises again in the person of General Weyler - to-day the most idolized personage in Spain - and we see a hundred thousand women and children shut up in pens and pitilessly starved to death?
Are we indeed going to lose Spain's respect? Is there no way to avoid this calamity - or this compliment? Are we going to lose her respect because we have made a promise in our ultimatum which she thinks we shall break? And meantime is she trying to recall some promise of her own which she has kept?
Is the Professional Official Fibber of Europe really troubled with our morals? Dear Parisian friend, are you taking seriously the daily remark of the newspaper and the orater about "this noble nation with an illustrious history"? That is mere kindness, mere charity for a people in temporary hard luck. The newspaper and the orator do not mean it. They wink when they say it.
And so you are ashamed. Do not be ashamed; there is no occasion for it.
[Written in 1898, first published in 1923 - Ed.]
As Mark Twain notes, being ashamed of America depends on being in the presence of someone who could make America shameful by comparison to their virtue. And, fortunately for us, there is no country or collection of countries that is superior, or even the equal, of America in any significant way.This letter is not a Twain rant about American moral superiority - after all, he changed his mind over the Spanish-American war after it was all over - it is a note to a fellow American reminding him (and us) that there is no cause to be ashamed before Europe. They are just as dirty as we are, and just as human. It is for this reason that Twain can write "Do not be ashamed; there is no occasion for it." Not because the Americans are God's gift to morality - for we are certainly not - but because we are no worse than any other being on this planet. Should we be ashamed before God? Certainly, as should the whole of the world. Should we be ashamed before our European opponents? Certainly not. This is Twain's point, and even when he later changes his mind, the validity of this point is not undermined.
Just before bed, I find fantastic news:
Yesterday, in defiance of all pessimists, Iraq resumed its life as a sovereign country, in a manner no one outside Iraq has the right to gainsay. We have a secular Shia prime minister (Iyad Alawi), and a ceremonial Sunni President (Ghazi al-Yawar). Both are acceptable to all reasonable parties, including the United States. We have a ministry of all the talents, such as they are: with every available regional, ethnic, and religious affiliation.Defenders of Liberty, rejoice!
The formal transfer of power from Paul Bremer's occupation authority to the new Iraqi government waits till the end of the month, but with the self-dissolution of the interim Iraqi Governing Council, we have witnessed an effective transfer. From now on, American advisers won't be running Iraqi ministries -- won't dare try -- and allied troops on the ground will be consulting Iraqis before launching new raids on assorted bad guys. Best of all, the region's governments, including nefarious Iran and Syria (up to their eyeballs fomenting trouble within Iraq), will know it's too late to sabotage the hand-off -- because it has already occurred, by surprise, ahead of deadline.
No one else will say this, so I will. The Bush administration has handled the transfer of power in Iraq more cleverly than anyone expected, including me.
I've been thinking recently about worldviews, conflicts, and antagonism between Canadians and Americans (both as an exercise in reflection and as a result of recent events in my life), and I think I've come to a conclusion about that most famous of Canadian-American disagreements: The War Of 1812.
For those of you who are not familiar with Canadian pride, let me tell you that this war is referred to quite a bit more often up here than it is in the States. Say 100 times to every 1. This is primarily because Canadians feel that it was a military conflict in which their side was victorious. Americans, upon hearing this pronouncement of Canadian victory, tend to become confused. In American schools, the War of 1812 is taught as a victory for the fledgling American country - not a spectacular victory, but a victory nonetheless - while in Canadian classes, the repelling of American forces (and especially the burning of the White House) are pointed to, along with the current border between the two nations, as evidence that it was, in fact, the Canadians who emerged victorious from the engagement.
It has been dismissed as an irreconcilable disagreement - the Canadians won't budge, and the Americans won't admit defeat - and it has thus been abandoned to the realms of sniping commentary (as was evidenced in my Canadian Lit class on Monday, during which the professor recalled that "Americans never seem to remember that we won the War of 1812"). But as I was thinking about it, I came to a realization. The two countries are approaching the event with two entirely different sets of assumptions and perspectives.
In America, during the lead up to the war, things were stuttering. The Constitution had been written and ratified, the Bill Of Rights had been passed and approved, and things were starting to flower for the young country. But, like all such enterprises, they were beginning to have growing pains. From a purely international point of view, America was seen as rather insignificant. True, the seeds of revolution had inspired the French to begin their own move toward democracy, but other than this kind of ideological influence, the United States had little to no play in international affairs. Britain, from which it had so recently seceded, still refused to acknowledge the country's sovereignty over its land and its people. This refusal to respect American self-governance triggered a series of events that culminated in violent conflict. British naval ships, engaged in an ongoing war with France, were pressing American sailors into military service for England. The ships that the fleet could spare would lie in wait off of the coast, and prey upon American merchants trading with the French (who did recognize, and even contributed to, American independence) and surrounding countries. The British disrupted the trade lines (harming both France and America), and added more men to their numbers (aiding them in their fight against the French, and angering Americans who didn't take too kindly to being put back under British rule). So, in order to protect its sovereignty, the American government declared war upon England, and invaded the nearest British outpost - Canada.
The Canadians, of course, were British subjects (Canada was not established as an officially separate country until 1867 - though they did have a measure of self-rule)*, and didn't take kindly to being invaded by their southern neighbors. Add to this the fact that a majority of Canadians were former colonists that had fled north during and after the American revolution - Loyalists to the British Crown who didn't want to leave the British Empire - and you certainly have the breeding ground for a great deal of animosity. Further, one can add in the land disputes that were raging between the various border states and provinces at the time (Americans thought that eventually they would have access to the entirety of the continent, and of course, those living in Canada disagreed). When the war began, and Hull invaded Canada, it led to a series of battles that resulted in the American invasion being rebuffed, and it established the border between the two nations.
This is not where the story ends, however. In 1815, some few days after the war was officially finished at the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, the British tried to secure their holdings in Louisiana, being a great distance from their commanders and thus out of reach of the day's methods of communication. There was a massive battle fought at New Orleans, the most important battle of the young American nation's life thus far, and Andrew Jackson (later to become president) defeated the British invasion. This resounding victory - ironically not necessary for official purposes - became the solidfying point of American sovereignty. In proving that their armies were able to withstand the forces of the British, the American diplomats were able to make certain the demands of national sovereignty and international recognition that they so desired.
So why the difference in view, then? Because, essentially, Canadians and Americans are looking at this war in two different ways. Canadians naturally sympathize with those people living here at the time, and mistakenly (so I have experienced) view the American invasion as part-and-parcel of the American doctrine of Manifest Destiny - the belief that the whole of the continent should belong to the United States. Manifest Destiny did not exist, however, until the 1840s, and even the Monroe Doctrine, which laid the groundwork for the later declaration of Manifest Destiny, did not appear until the 1820s. That aside, the American invasion can nonetheless reasonably be seen, from the Canadian perspective, as an unacceptable encroachment. And indeed, the troops residing in Canada did drive the American forces out, and kept the Canadian border intact.
This is why Canadians can and do view the war as a victory of their own. In large part, they view the conflict as Canadian-American.
Americans, on the other hand, see the war as British-American. The Americans weren't fighting Canadians, as they saw it, they were fighting the English - and indeed, given that Canada was not officially established until the latter half of the 19th century, they were justified in this perspective. To the Americans, the war was about more than expanding the borders of their country - it was about establishing once and for all their independence from England and their own right to exist. In this, they, too, succeeded.
And there's the pivotal distinction - Canadians see themselves as always having been Canadians (certainly not an outrageous proposition) while Americans see Canadians as something relatively new, and a replacement for the British that were there before. This affects how both groups perceive the war at large (either as over a northern border dispute, or as over a national sovereignty dispute), and this in turn establishes the conditions for victory.
In a very real sense, then, both sides won - the only losers were the British.
* Thanks to JMH for the technical corrections.
The sky feels heavy, and smells of fog
(although there is none there)
The darkened flowers and ground-drenched showers
Weave whispers pair-by-pair
A bank of billows, dark and fearful,
now creep across the sky,
Encroaching slowly the sun-swept valley.
We don't see them, you and I.
Our gaze is northward, where sunlight shines -
A bridge across the green -
And like that crossing, soon too our passing
Is swept completely clean.
The first drops strike, and startle our sense -
The sun it still shines bright.
But glancing behind, what once was sun-shined
Has turned from day to night.
Good morning! Today's post is going to be a little different (but not as different as yesterday's, so you can relax). I have a number of blogs that I read everyday for news or for comment (and usually a little of both). A blog that doesn't get much plugging here (because it's almost strictly analysis, rather than 'breaking news') is TMLutas' Flit. Today I mean to fill the linking void, but not arbitrarily. He's written what I consider very important pieces on the emerging world, and I think that the more people that read and think about it, the better off we'll all be. So here goes.
The Geneva Conventions are perfectly fine for conflicts in which all sides are relatively committed to honoring them. They are like black tie event dress codes. If you're at a black tie event, the rules are just fine. The problem is that the incidence of black tie events is rather small in most people's lives. So you need new rule sets in addition to the Geneva Conventions, not instead of. You need a new protocol that covers in much more detail the growing incidence of combat that does not fall under the convention rule set.There are a number of phrases in his analysis that you may not be familiar with (yet), so lets do some background reading.
In 1684 the Treaty of Westphalia brought to a close eighty years of religious wars in Europe with new rules of international law establishing the modern state system. The foundation of this system is the sovereign character of the nation state and the solemn prohibition against interference in its internal affairs by outsiders.Tony Blair himself has commented recently on the transition.
Although the international rules of the road set out in the Treaty of Westphalia have been modified over the years, most recently notably by the Charter of the United Nations, they remained more or less intact until recently, until June 10, 1999, to be exact. That is the date when the UN Security Council approved Resolution 1244 (1999). With that resolution on Kosovo, the world?s major countries redefined the sovereign character of the nation state, including their own. The post-Cold War world has segued into what might be called the post-Westphalian world.
Already, before September 11th the world's view of the justification of military action had been changing. The only clear case in international relations for armed intervention had been self-defence, response to aggression. But the notion of intervening on humanitarian grounds had been gaining currency. I set this out, following the Kosovo war, in a speech in Chicago in 1999, where I called for a doctrine of international community, where in certain clear circumstances, we do intervene, even though we are not directly threatened. I said this was not just to correct injustice, but also because in an increasingly inter-dependent world, our self-interest was allied to the interests of others; and seldom did conflict in one region of the world not contaminate another. We acted in Sierra Leone for similar reasons, though frankly even if that country had become run by gangsters and murderers and its democracy crushed, it would have been a long time before it impacted on us. But we were able to act to help them and we did.There's a lot to digest in that speech, but you should read the whole thing.
So, for me, before September 11th, I was already reaching for a different philosophy in international relations from a traditional one that has held sway since the treaty of Westphalia in 1648; namely that a country's internal affairs are for it and you don't interfere unless it threatens you, or breaches a treaty, or triggers an obligation of alliance. I did not consider Iraq fitted into this philosophy, though I could see the horrible injustice done to its people by Saddam.
However, I had started to become concerned about two other phenomena.
The first was the increasing amount of information about Islamic extremism and terrorism that was crossing my desk. Chechnya was blighted by it. So was Kashmir. Afghanistan was its training ground. Some 300 people had been killed in the attacks on the USS Cole and US embassies in East Africa. The extremism seemed remarkably well financed. It was very active. And it was driven not by a set of negotiable political demands, but by religious fanaticism.
The second was the attempts by states - some of them highly unstable and repressive - to develop nuclear weapons programmes, CW and BW materiel, and long-range missiles. What is more, it was obvious that there was a considerable network of individuals and companies with expertise in this area, prepared to sell it.
And the number of modifications it is bringing with it are quite interesting. For example:The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got.The President of the United States just annulled a number of the principles that have guided international system since 1648. Since that time, when the Peace of Westphalia was signed, the idea was that states were sovereign. Inside their borders, they could do largely what they pleased and they were responsible for what happened inside. Only states could declare war. Only states could make peace. Who was recognized as sovereign was the key to who you would talk to.
Israel, the US, Russia, a number of other nations have been doing little pirouettes around the inconvenient fact that subnational organizations are declaring and acting as parties that can declare war and have been waging war. George Bush just stopped the dance.
We are now in a very uncomfortable position. Heads of State all over the world now know that if an organization on their territory declares war on the United States, the United States will believe them and act accordingly, with likely devastating consequences to the country.
This is going to do a slow roll throughout the diplomatic world. I don't think it's going to be retracted.
Let's put aside the question, for the moment of whether it's a bright idea to have blown up Sheik Yassin, of Hamas infamy. What caught my eye was Jack Straw's statement that Yassim's killing was unlawful.So you can see the kind of dangers this move might lead us to, if we are not prepared for it.
What law, exactly, was violated?
President Bush's Greater Middle East Initiative will ignore sovereignty issues and reach into middle east societies to support liberal reformers inside their own country. He's currently unveiling it to Europe and there seems to be some cautious willingness to come on board in a partnership where "there's work enough for everyone." What's being ignored is the institutional tearing of Westphalian assumptions of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs.The objections to American policy are rooted in this construct of political theory, whether objectors know it or not. The sad thing is, ignorance of this world transition is very dangerous, not because it places Europe in a different mindset from the American-led Coalition, but because it holds very real consequences in the way our mutual enemies (who have no compunctions about violating some 350 year old political theory) act against us. If we can't respond in kind (not "terrorism for terrorism," but "mindset for mindset"), then we face the very real possibility of defeat. And given the expressed desires of our enemies, defeat means death.
This initiative has some chance at success but win or lose, the implications for the permissibility of interfering in the affairs of other countries is profound and hardly noticed (or at least noticed publicly) at all by the present leadership of the international system.
The United Nations and Red Cross have been providing cover for terrorists ? literally. And American taxpayers are footing some of the bill.I don't need to reiterate the rage and disgust that I feel toward this political body (summed up: United Nations - The Enemy of Liberty), so I'll move on.
Last week, an Israeli television station aired footage of armed Arab terrorists in southern Gaza using an ambulance owned and operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. Palestinian gunmen used the UNRWA emergency vehicle as getaway transportation after murdering six Israeli soldiers in Gaza City on May 11. The footage shows two ambulances with flashing lights pull onto a street. Shots and shouts ring out during the nighttime raid. A gang of militants piles into one of the supposedly neutral ambulances, clearly marked "U.N." with the agency's blue flag flying from the roof, which then speeds away from the scene.
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