Thursday, September 30, 2004
The Real America

Mark Steyn writes a brilliantly incisive piece (as per usual) on 9/11 and conservativism, specifically focusing on why pundits outside the US seem to constantly get the country wrong: because they don't understand that America is largely conservative:

But in America large swaths of the nation are still robustly conservative. Not all of them, of course, and, because Fleet Street correspondents are disproportionately concentrated in New York, Washington and Los Angeles, it?s easy for them to get the impression that there?s not all that many conservatives ? just a few isolated communities in the Bible Belt and a couple of survivalist militias up in the Rockies. This leads to the careless assumptions of so many in the European media about John Kerry?s election prospects and the inevitable tears on the morning of 3 November. But the way Kerry?s campaigning on cultural issues gives you the real clue to the dominant forces in American life: he talks up his Catholicism; on abortion, he says he ?personally believes? life begins at conception, it?s just that as a Democrat he can?t find it in him to legislate according to his principles; everywhere he goes he gets photographed brandishing guns, even guns that he, as an effete Massachusetts panty-waist, has voted to ban; he boasts to hunting magazines about his favourite assault rifle ? at least until the legality of his ownership of such a weapon is called into question. This is how a big-government, anti-globalisation, socialised-healthcare, Francophiliac Democrat has to campaign in America: pro-guns, pro-God, deeply evasive on abortion. In almost any other Western nation, none of these things would matter.
Steyn goes on to argue that America's conservatism is what makes it one of very few places on the planet where a person can live as a "citizen" rather than a "subject," and he has a convincing point. But this reminds me of a recent discussion I had with a few (other) Canadian friends, in which they couldn't fathom the notion that America is still largely Christian - the primary evidence of this dissonance, for them, was the anti-Christian bias (anti-religious bias) that is soaked through such media outlets as the NYTimes, CNN, ABC/CBS/NBC, etc. Like Steyn points out, if you only get information from a source that resides primarily in a heavily liberal urban center, then your view of the country at large is going to be heavily skewed.

Why do Europeans, Canadians, and most other groups of outside spectators consistently get America wrong? Because they aren't getting a taste of 'America.' They are getting a taste of how a few people, with the resources to get their messages out, view America.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Hey, Senator Kerry. I know you're getting a lot of advice (solicited and un-) these days on how to prep for the debate tomorrow. Some of it is good, some of it is less so. But take it from me: given the writer's background and experiences, I'm fairly certain you want to ignore this.

They Pegged Me...

An interesting quiz to see what kind of political entity you are.

It would seem that I'm one of those ever-elusive "neocons" (though I've held these views for as long as I can remember, so the 'neo' seems out of place):

  • Want the US to be the world's unchallenged superpower

  • Hmmm...I would say that I see the US is the world's unchallenged superpower, but don't think it is a bad thing.

  • Share unwavering support for Israel

  • Check - a Western Liberal Democracy in the Middle East? Heck yeah.

  • Support American unilateral action

  • Check.

  • Support preemptive strikes to remove perceived threats to US security

  • Half-check - there's pages I could write on this, but it's late...

  • Promote the development of an American empire

  • Whoa, now. This is one of those things where I'm gonna have to disagree. Want to make me happy? Replace the word empire, or place a boat-load of modifiers in front of it. Niall Ferguson and I have a lot to discuss.

  • Equate American power with the potential for world peace

  • Mmmm...perhaps. I don't think the world will ever be fully at peace, but I do see America as the world's best hope.

  • Seek to democratize the Arab world

  • Check!

  • Push regime change in states deemed threats to the US or its allies

  • And check.

Historical neoconservative: President Teddy Roosevelt

Modern neoconservative: President Ronald Reagan
The Christian Science Monitor (producer of the quiz) summarizes my answers to its prompts with a bit more scorn than I like, but their anti-neoconservative bias aside, if I'm grouped with Teddy and Ronnie, I'm content.

[HatTip to Chrenkoff, who also links to an eye-opening interview with Christopher Hitchens that deserves more comment. But I'm heading to bed, so I'll save it for later.]

David Mader says something I've been harping on for years:

It's often said, but not taken nearly seriously enough, that the popular display of the hammer and sickle, or the red (or yellow) star, or the visage of Che, should be treated no differently than the public display of the swastika or the visage of Himmler. We are quite properly repulsed by such open displays of sympathy for the icons of Nazi fascism, even when they are made in jest.
His entire post is rife with insight, but it put me in mind of the reaction several of my Canadian friends had to a comment I made recently on the same subject. It went something like this: "Fascism is as inherently evil as Communism."

There were audible gasps, and a few odd looks - I suspect they were trying to figure out if I was saying Fascism wasn't inherently evil, or if Communism was, but whatever decision they reached, soon enough they were taken aback, too. Unfortunately, the conversation ended there, and that last bit turned into a throwaway comment. I have to admit that I was looking to shock them; but if saying "Communism is evil" shocks a person, that's very telling - not only about the individual, but also about the society and community surrounding them. Southern Ontario, how far you have fallen!
Monday, September 27, 2004

Nick Packwood points out a number of historical parallels to the current War. I'd have my own comments, but as I'm about to take off for the evening, I'll leave them to simmer. Packwood's post is required reading, however. A fascinating study.

Sunday, September 26, 2004
A Setback

A bit of bad news today from the "newspaper freelance" front. Got word from the inside that the editors aren't exactly looking to widen their field of published freelancers at the moment. In fact, they're trying to cut some costs. And this adds up to? Not a good time to be a new freelancer pitching a new idea. At least, not to the local paper.

So I've got these six columns that I'm still polishing. What to do with them? Rework it a bit and submit to another paper? Say, like the National Post? Perhaps - it's certainly an option. But my contact at the local paper has not completely removed my hope of publication. So we'll see. In the meantime, it's time to begin my 'real job' search in earnest.

And it's way past time to do some recreational writing, for crying out loud!

Friday, September 24, 2004
What To Address First?

Ahh, the Internet. It moves at the speed of thought (which, by the way, is far faster than the speed of light). A news cycle on the Web turns over in a few hours (if that), and a commentor (yours truly) is lucky if he or she can get ahold of just one meme that hasn't yet run its course.

There's so much going on, and I have so little to add to most of it. I have opinions on it all, of course (I can fashion an opinion on most anything in a few seconds), but that doesn't mean it's worth your while to read it.

But to the point. There's so much running 'round the blog-circuit that I think it's futile to even attempt to write on it. So I'll see if I can't address a topic that I haven't seen anyone touch on.

I think we need a title for bloggers like Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen - bloggers that philosophize on the role, attraction, and form of blogs. I propose "Blog-Theorists." These writers are on the cusp of what I see as a new sub-domain of philosophy, and they are applying what they've seen and think about the various attributes of media, advertising, commerce, journalism, politics, and society to the blogosphere.

Currently, I'm writing a freelance primer on blogs for my local paper, and I frequently finding myself dipping into the archives of Jarvis, Rosen, and Bill Quick (among others) for quotes on and explanations of the machinations and attractions that the blog-form has for people. There's some fantastic thinking going on in this philosophical area of the 'sphere, and I think it's time we recognized it.

I'm Back!


I am now fully equipped - a PowerBook G4 15" 1.33GHz laptop with all assorted "cable-ature," stand, keyboard, bag, etc. - and ready to get back to serious writing/blogging!

Ready? Here we go...

Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Progress Report...

Okay. My new laptop is currently in Ohio, and will likely make its way to Niagara Falls tomorrow morning/afternoon. Which means I'll make a run to Niagara Falls either tomorrow or Thursday (depending on when it arrives). Which further indicates that regular posting and blog-renovations will begin in earnest before the weekend. Hooray!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Been a while. Things are progressing for me, and life is pretty busy. I finalized the terms for the sale of my computer today, and will make the exchange in Toronto tomorrow evening. That means I'll be without my own computer for a week or so (depending on how fast Apple can ship my new laptop to Buffalo).

Hence, you can expect a further lack of posts for a while longer. But after that, I'll be able to devote more time to the makeover of this site, and I'll start regular posting again.

Further, my first six columns are in at least rough draft stage, and as soon as I hear back from my contact at the local paper, I'll be able to submit them (polished, of course) for consideration. Exciting!

After negotiating with newsprint, I'll start searching in earnest for a 'real' job. That way I can start the money flowing again, and work toward getting out of my parents' basement (which I am grateful to have, etc. etc.). Freedom, life, and possibility call. Here's hoping I can give the right answer.

Friday, September 10, 2004
The Power Of The Blog [UPDATED]

Incredible. On September 8th and 9th, CBS's 60 Minutes II with Dan Rather and The Boston Globe both ran with a story featuring 'new' documents that raised questions about George W. Bush's service in the National Guard. Less than a day later, the guys at PowerLine, with help from Drudge Report and dozens (if not hundreds) of readers, blew CBS out of the water with the revelation that those documents which were so damning were actually forged. And now? ABC is investigating, the Washington Post is running the forgery story on tomorrow's front page, and CBS is holding an inquiry.

All of this while I'm in the middle of writing an op-ed/informative column on why blogs are reliable as sources of information. I'm absolutely stunned.

A timeline and additional comments available at Mader Blog. Money shot:
That's impressive. But what's much more impressive is this: it all happened in a day. Only a few years ago, the CBS story would have run for days, and any questions wouldn't have made it beyond obscure internet bulletin boards. Today - I mean literally, today - the CBS story was fact-checked up-and-down by 'amateurs,' their findings shared, and the conclusions made known to newsrooms in a few hours.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Incredible, Sobering, and Encouraging

From Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, general manager of Al-Arabiya news channel, and first published in the pan-Arabic paper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, comes something amazing. I applaud him for his efforts, his insights, and his courage.

[HatTip to The Corner.]

A webjournal of ideas, comments, and various other miscellany from a Texan university student (with occasional input from his family) living in Toronto, Ontario. Can you say "culture shock?"

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