Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Defining Terms

From the murky vantage point of 2004's 30 November, January 30th, 2005 - though only two months away - remains impossible to predict. We know this: the Iraqi Interim Government, the Coalition Forces, the Government of the United States, and the various countries that have contributed monetary resources toward rebuilding Iraq, are pushing for (and have scheduled) an election - the first of its kind in Iraqi history. Given the circumstances in-country, it is only reasonable to think that this might be a very bloody day. After all, what better time to begin large-scale attacks than the day that all your enemies' plans hinge upon?

Assuming the anti-Coalition forces are a cohesive (if only mildly so) group, and assuming they all equally desire the removal of the current occupying entity, then it only makes sense that they would attempt to make the ballot-day one of the most gruesome we've seen so far.

Of course, it could turn out much differently. It could be that the recent attacks (beginning with Fallujah) against the members of the "insurgency" (or "terrorists," depending on your ideological bent) have so depeleted and demoralized them that they merely fold, vanishing into the population in the next two months, and the January 30th elections are held peacefully.

But though no one can predict, one way or the other, what will happen next year, I am certain that one thing will be decided, whether or not the election day is filled with tragedy: the proper name for the antagonistic forces in Iraq.

This debate between those who prefer to think of the attackers as "insurgents" and those who prefer to call them "terrorists" has been going on in the blogosphere for some time now (since the whole thing began, really). And both groups have their legitimate points. The "terrorist" camp looks at what's going on, sees individuals coming in from Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc., notes the tactics they use, and applies the terrorist label.

The "insurgent" side views them as Iraqis (with the aid of outsiders) who are fighting back against an unwanted authority, attempting to reclaim their country from those who would enforce a different worldview upon them - Michael Moore's "Minutemen" statement really captures this sentiment well.

If you've read me before now, I think it's rather obvious which side I take. But that disclaimer aside, whatever we choose call them, the January 30th elections will put the lie to one title or the other. And this is why I'm leaning toward predicting an attack-filled election.

The implication in the title "insurgent" is one of a revolutionary, and the connotations of revolution (especially in the United States) are always thought of as being the voice of "the people." The divisions are drawn between, in this case, the Iraqi Government, with their supposed US Puppet Masters, and the rest of the Iraqi people. The worldview that this assumes is that the people at large are not willing to submit to the power that the US and its allies bring to bear.

The implications of the word "terrorist" are quite the opposite. Where "insurgents" would be assumed to fight (or think they are fighting) for the people, terrorists fight against the people. The tactics of terror are, of course, meant to inspire the population to fear, rather than to revolt; and to acquiesce not to the US's power, but to that of the terrorist movement. In this case, it is not a battle between the US and "the people," it is a battle between the US and "terrorists," with "the people" in the unfortunate and tragic middle.

If the elections are held, and the Iraqi people speak, then these groups can no longer be called "insurgents." It doesn't matter who the Iraqis vote for, in the end. It can be safely assumed that the opposition forces are not going to be on the ballots. If the Iraqi people turn out, then, they are making their choice. It doesn't matter if it is socialism, libertarianism, communism or capitalism - it isn't terrorism.

Once Iraq votes, the "insurgents" will no longer be fighting against some outside force trying to impose its will. They will be fighting against the will of the population. And that, by definition, names them "terrorists."

On the other hand, if the January 30th deadline comes to pass, and the votes are taken, but none or only a small minority of the people cast their vote (whether or not they were intimidated is irrelevant - the fact that they could be intimidated is an implicit acceptance of the status quo), then the term "terrorist" no longer applies (except perhaps to their methods). In this set of circumstances, the opposition truly is the "insurgency," because they would have the tacit approval of the people.

So one way or the other, when January 30th rolls around, the name game will be decided. It is in the interests of the opposition forces, whether they are called "insurgents" or "terrorists," to do all in their power to stop the vote; because if the Iraqi people vote, the opposition has lost, and the rest is just clean up.

And the only way to stop an election? Keep in mind that delaying the election only delays the final conclusion by a few months. In order for these opposition forces to win, they must absolutely destroy any hope at all of an election. Or better (and perhaps easier), allow January 30th voting to occur, but convice, by word or deed, the people to stay home. An empty election is better than a disrupted election - but the primary way to achieve either of these results is gruesome violence.

One way or the other, the future of Iraq will be decided in two months. And while the label of the forces in opposition may seem insignificant, it is directly tied to the course of the nation.

Monday, November 29, 2004
That Makes Three

What Famous Leader Are You?
personality tests by similarminds.com
Interesting. Apparently I'm similar to a lot of worthy presidents: first it was politically, now it's personality. Can't say I'm unhappy with the result (though I'll take a pass on that whole 'assasination' thing!).

[HatTip to Ghost Of A Flea.]
Sunday, November 28, 2004
Week In Review

Okay, so I was mistaken about this week allowing for a few more posts to the blog. Turns out it was just as busy, but for thoroughly different reasons.

On Wednesday, my best friend Aaron came up from Texas (by way of Cornell University) to spend American Thanksgiving with us, and he stayed through the weekend. A great time was had by all, and Aaron was introduced to a number of new things, including (but not limited to) Firefly and Wolf's Rain.

At the same time, I was engaged in multitude of other concerns, including trips to Toronto and the juggling of family and work schedules. All of this added up to a post-free week, and for that I apologize to my regular readers. I've got a couple long-post ideas turning over in my brain, including that promised examination of the strains of Libertarianism, and a new post on the curiosities of novel writers.

Speaking of writing, NaNoWriMo is nearly over; but alas, I don't think I shall be able to complete the 50,000 words required to 'win.' With two days to go, I'm around 12,000 words short - the novel went on hiatus this past week, and hasn't recovered yet. But it's been a good experience, and I know now that I have the ability to sit down for lengths of time every day and hammer out a requisite quota; an encouraging thing to say the least.

More news on the writing front: the Spectator article is now officially "in limbo." I've received conflicting messages from the Executive Editor and the Journals Editor (though why the article was delivered to the Journals section seems a bit murky), but I will likely wind up talking to the editor of the paper's weekly Focus section, which seems more appropriate to the tone and length of my piece. You'll know more as I do.

That's it for this week. Hopefully (and probably) this coming week will be more conducive to posting.

Saturday, November 20, 2004
Busy Week

Whew! Sorry for the sparse week, folks. I've been a bit busy. Writing for NaNoWriMo had to compete with efforts to get my Spectator article published (I'm going to have to resubmit it to a fourth editor, and possibly retool it for another paper...but one thing at a time), and that all had to be crammed into the week of my parents' anniversary (their 28th). I was responsible for seeing to all the familial duties my mother so wonderfully executes, including transportation of my sibilings all over town, as my parents were spending the week away.

Next week promises to be a bit more relaxed, and may afford a few more posts. If you're hard-up for news, take a look at my BlogRoll, especially new addition Jujitsui Generis and the ever-insightfulBelmont Club. Of course, you can always look for more information from the usual source.

Thursday, November 18, 2004
We're In!

And there it is, ladies and gents: FoxNews Channel comes to Canada. Make sure to subscribe to your local cable packages* containing the station, and update your "Signs Of The Apocalypse" checklists.

[HatTip to Daimnation.]

*Whoops! Looks like FoxNews is going to be a Digital channel.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004
The Libertarian Stunner

Twice, in as many days, Max Borders has left me gasping for my intellectual breath. The first eye-opener appeared a few days ago (though I only just read it) in his Tech Central Station column in which he lays out very probable plans for making the Libertarian Party a viable political entity in the United States; and the second appeared on his personal blog Jujitsui Generis, where he dissected and diagnosed the Dutch response to the murder of documentarian Theo Van Gogh by a Muslim extremist.

Stunning stuff, like I said, and both pieces should be thoroughly perused. I found Mr. Borders during research for my upcoming exploration of the political differences between Reasonoids and Samizdatans; and as it turns out, he's already done some similar thinking on the subject. Jujitsui Generals is on my BlogRoll, and I'm in the process of parsing his output. It's amazing stuff, so far. My exploration may now be superfluous. We'll see.

Another One

Yet another good friend of mine has hit the blogosphere: strangerAttractor is the new web-home of my former housemate and fantastic conversationalist [Is that even a word? -- Ed. Yep. Gotta love word-intuition!] Matt Shultz. He's a rarity in Southern Canada these days - I've only ever met one other person quite like him - in that he's a hardcore libertarian/anarcho-capitalist (read: the source of all evil). While we don't always see eye-to-eye, I get a great thrill from his perspectives, and frequently have my worldview shaken up. It's always stimulating, and our conversations turn me onto new areas of study that soon dominate my free time. [Curse you, Shultz! -- Ed.]

So why are you still here? Go read him!

[A cautionary note to sensitive readers: Matt makes no pretense toward self-censorship.]

Sunday, November 14, 2004
New System

Trying out a new comment system that gives me a little more control. Click on the permalink (the timestamp) to access the comment page.

Saturday, November 13, 2004
Saturday Roundup

Smatterings of interesting tidbits:

And coming soon: an exploration of the question that's been nagging at me for a while: why are the political leanings of these American libertarians so different from those of their British compatriots? (With exceptions on both sides, of course).

So there are a few bloggers in the Greater Toronto Area - of this I was already aware. But enough to fill an entire blog directory? Very cool.
Friday, November 12, 2004

It's always pleasant to get a reminder that righteous indignation can and does exist in some of the people in the Great White North. There are times up here when things are just too "nice" for my tastes (there's a reason that the term 'Offensive Canadian' is considered an oxymoron). Reading Mike's rants is really quite cathartic.

It also helps that he's right.

An Unfortunate Name

As I was on my way home from a doctor's appointment, I found myself staring at a truck waiting ahead of me at a red light. It had a very unfortunate name plastered on its side.

Canadian branch of the company located here.

Thursday, November 11, 2004
The Moore Hypothesis

Great news, conservatives: Michael Moore is making a sequel to Fahrenheit 9/11! Why do I say this is good news? Well, let's take a look at what I like to call the "Moore Hypothesis."

So, for the last three election cycles, every time that Moore has released a film or endorsed a candidate, the opposing party has benefited.

If Moore is revving up his political machine again, that's great news for the Republicans...unless the filmmaker decides to swap parties.
Spectator Update

Just got a phone call from the editor assigned to the piece. She's waiting on a consult with another editor on the article who is out of town until this weekend. So, long conversation short, I'll be receiving another phone call "early next week" to discuss what's to be done. Progress!

"Most Serious Obstacle To Peace" [UPDATED]

Yasser Arafat is dead. Somebody send flowers to the BBC, I'm not sure they'll take it well.

The President's statement on the matter doesn't express any kind of condolence for Arafat, but rather for the Palestinian people. This is both telling and encouraging. With Arafat gone, perhaps "progress toward...the ultimate goal of peace" can finally be made.

James Lileks had, I think, the best summarization of Arafat's role in the 'Peace Process' a few days ago, when the whole death-watch thing began:

All you need to know about Arafat was that he insisted on wearing a pistol when he addressed the UN General Assembly. And all you need to know about the UN, I suppose, is that they let him.
Arafat's Intifada, initiated in 2000 (six years after he was awarded the Nobel "Peace" Prize), is his lasting legacy. Over four years, he sent 3,775 people (2,859 Palestinians and 916 Israelis) to their deaths, including 671 children. We are well quit of him, and whether they realize it or not, so are the Palestinian people.

John Howard, newly re-elected Prime Minister of Australia, has fixed blame for the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian peace processs upon Arafat.
I think history will judge him very harshly for not having seized the opportunity in the year 2000 to embrace the offer that was very courageously made by the then Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barack, which involved the Israelis agreeing to 90 per cent of what the Palestinians had wanted.
Of course, for Arafat, 90 percent of what Palestinians wanted was unacceptable, as it excluded the total annihilation of the Jews.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Patriotism And Star Trek

It's quite the thrill when you stumble onto a great blog and notice that they have you linked in their blogroll. This time it's the estimable VariFrank, who has quite the entry up today on the Democrats' after-election behavior.

I see the left today in a serious problem thats very similar to my Star Trek friends. It's fine to want to see the world in a different way, but there comes a point where you are not just wistful for another reality but actually wearing your Star Trek uniform out in public and to work, you've started down the road where even if you might have a good point or an idea, people are going to ignore you. We've seen political movements in America go the way of the Dodo before, The Free Land and Free Silver movements, the Mugwumps, and the Whig party. Go back not so long ago and you can even see when the Republicans became an utter irrelevancy. I am now beginning to think the Democrats have also jumped into the ashcan of history, with both feet.
Frank finishes with a wakeup call:
Take off your "Federation Uniforms" Democrats and drop the Vulcan salutes. I don't want you to leave the country, I need you to stay and help keep my party honest. But before you can do that you need to be honest with yourselves about why you lost this election and why you have been steadily losing for 30 years.

It's not Karl Rove, its not "Selected, not Elected" Its not Halliburton, its not Big Tobacco or Big Oil.

It's you.
Léalo todo.
Lots of Tidbits

There's a lot going on in the blogosphere today, and so much is being said (and said well) that I find myself at a loss to write about it. So I'll merely serve as a signpost.

First, in the War on Terror, a trio of items:

Also making the rounds today is a great election retrospective by Dave Kopel titled: "How Hillary Clinton Won the Presidential Elections of 2008 and 2012."

Samizdata (recently added to my BlogRoll) is its usual (read: great) British-libertarian self.

Brian T. has finally come out of the gay-conservative closet to his long-time liberal correspondent. Dean Esmay does the same...only without the 'gay' part.

Debbye is very unhappy with CNN.
I just can't take any more of CNN. Is it just me, or is it as plain as daylight that for the Iraqi army to work with us to take Fallujah is in many significant ways more important for them than for us? CNN's main talking point continues to be that having the Iraqi army fight is part of our exit strategy, which overlooks the rather obvious fact that the Iraqi army is taking responsibility for the future stability of Iraq on behalf of and for the Iraqi people and, if you will, this is a major part of their entrance strategy as a sovereign nation. [Emphasis in original]
And Ace Of Spades tracks down the Republican National Committee's response to the suggestion of liberal bloggers that Howard Dean be named chairman of the DNC.

A very lively day, so far.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
The Cause

Jeff Jarvis thinks he knows why the Democrats lost the election:

...I say instead that Michael Moore lost it for Kerry. He lost it by starting the mudslinging over military service when he accused Bush of being a deserter; this opened the door for the Swiftie mudmen and cut short the ability to condemn them for it.

He lost it by making unfair attacks on Bush (when he could have made fair attacks), helping Bush to rally his fans around him.

But mainly, Moore lost the race for Kerry and the Democrats by turning them, by association, into a bunch of rabid seething fringie liberal loonies, all angry and extreme and too quick to forget what the real war is and who the real enemy is.
Roger L. Simon takes a different approach:
The execrable Moore offered Kerry an obvious opportunity to win the election - the perfect "Sister Souljah" moment. The candidate could have gotten before the media and said: "No, Michael, the Iraqi Insurgents are not the same as our 'Minutemen.' Our 'Minutemen' were fighting for democracy. Those Insurgents are fighting for fascism, theocracy, the oppression of women - everything America deplores!"

I'm sure Kerry agrees with those sentiments, yet he did not express them, instead allowing Moore to be seated prominently at the Democratic Convention.
Both entries are worth reading en totál.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Americans, Stay Away!

The Boston Globe (not exactly a right-wing paper) warns Democrats away from moving to Canada with a list of seven things to consider. Among them:

...4. How do you like your free speech -- well chilled? Canada has no First Amendment and adheres to primitive British-style libel laws.

Here is a hilarious definition of defamation la Canadienne, from the Media Libel website: ''A defamatory statement exists if the publication tends to lower the plaintiff's reputation in the estimation of those who are commonly referred to as 'right thinking' members of society."
(Some similar, if angrier thoughts on the subject from Mike.)

This, of course, reminds me specifically of the ridiculous debacle a few weeks (months?) ago, when one Warren Kinsella threatened legal action against a number of blogs if they didn't take down posts that he considered libellous (whether or not they were, it seems, was beside the point). Free speech in Canada is certainly under attack, and not only by bloggers who've become a little too sensitive (and not a little hypocritical). I must echo the sentiments (if not the snarkiness) of the Boston Globe piece: Democrats, you'll find that Canada ain't all it's cracked up to be.
Rovian "Brilliance" [UPDATED]

Way back toward the beginning of this campaign, the general consensus on the political left and their commentariat was that one Karl Rove, that cloak-and-dagger/smoke-and-mirrors right-wing manipulator of American politics, was an unconquerable political giant. A mountain among political men, if you will. According to some left-wing reactions to the election (though cheerily not as many as I thought there might be), the reason Bush won (when he was so incredibly incompetent) was that he had "The Rove" in his corner, pulling strings to get out the votes of the ignorant and bloodthirsty.

Well, I'll be (perhaps) the first right-winger to say it: Bush won by only 3.5 million votes. If John Kerry can run the kind of campaign he did (massive issue-waffling, no solid positions on anything except his mysterious 'plans,' a basic disconnect with the average voter) and still stay within 3% of the popular vote, then I'm gonna have to go the opposite way: Rove is inept.

True, he had to overcome Bush's troubling difficulties with language. But John Kerry laid out like a doormat more times than I care to remember, and the Bush team didn't do so much as tap their shoes on him. They didn't make the case for Iraq (which does exist, and is quite strong: see the rest of the war-blogosphere) - had they done so, the population wouldn't see it as a 'mistake' or a 'wrong war', they'd see it as a necessary precaution - they didn't hammer home the facts about Saddam, they didn't point out over and over that Kerry was soft on defense (until the final week or so of the campaign, by which point it was already too late), they didn't respond adequately throughout the debates, they didn't prepare adequately for the debates, and as a matter of fact, it's only by sheer fortune - the fact that Michael Moore is so reviled, the fact that OBL quoted him, and the fact that Carter/Moore were paired together at the DNC - that the Bush team survived this election.

I'll give Rove credit for getting out a lot of Republican voters - the ground game was as good as its ever been - but the point remains: they shouldn't have needed an incredible ground game. Make no mistake. This win should have been huge. Bush should have broken the 300 ECV barrier with several states left to go. Bush should have won the popular vote not by 3.5 million, but by 7, or 10. No, Democratic friends - you have nothing to fear from Karl Rove. If he couldn't pull a landslide election result from the incredible opportunities the Kerry campaign kept handing him, he certainly doesn't deserve the title of 'evil mastermind.' He's just your average politico. The James Carville of the right...maybe.


Well, I wasn't the first to make this point. I must've been channeling Ann Coulter (now that's a scary thought!):
Of course, we could have done it a lot earlier on election night but for "Boy Genius" Karl Rove. It's absurd that the election was as close as it was. The nation is at war, Bush is a magnificent wartime leader, and the night before the election we didn't know if a liberal tax-and-spend, Vietnam War-protesting senator from Massachusetts would beat him.

If Rove is "the architect" - as Bush called him in his acceptance speech - then he is the architect of high TV ratings, not a Republican victory. By keeping the race so tight, Rove ensured that a race that should have been a runaway Bush victory would not be over until the wee hours of the morning.
[HatTip to Greg over at Political Staples for spotting this one.]
Toronto BlogFest

Well, that was awesome!

Met up with a whole bunch of fellow bloggers in TO last night, including (but not limited to): Anthony, Ben, Bob, Brian, Chris, Damian (the OTHER one), Debbye (fellow transplanted American!), Greg, Kathy, Mike Brock, Michael K, Nick Packwood, Nicholas (who has pictures of the event), Rick McG, and a few others whom I either didn't meet beyond a brief handshake or (gulp!) didn't hear which blog they wrote. (If I missed you, I apologize: send me a note and I'll add you to the list!)

But it was a great time - food, beer (soda, in my case), and great conversation. It's really an awesome experience to have so much in common with people you've never met before, and to know that going into the situation. We all were able to immediately engage each other in comfortable conversation, and had several lively back-and-forths throughout the night. I'm definitely looking forward to doing this again when the (first?) (big?) Newfoundland Damian comes to town in February.

(Side Notes: I'll try not to disappoint you in your daily rounds again, Damian. Debbye, just remember, there are more of us out here than you think. Greg and Brian, I look forward to continuing conversation in February! I'll try and have more information up on my soon-to-be-published article soon...assuming I can wrangle it out of the editors at the Spec. And thanks to everyone for their warm comments about my blog/writing - it means a lot. See you all in February!)

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Election season is over. No more obsessing, no more swamping, no more much of anything that has immense political significance. For a while, at least.

I'm up to ~6000 words of rough draft in my novel (another update pending), I'm about to get really frustrated with the lack of contact from the Spectator, and I'm also prepared to do some field work for my next newspaper article idea.

Man, it's good to be out from under the shadow of that election beast. Now I've just got to secure a job.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Bush Wins

...now can we please get back to work?

Monday, November 01, 2004
Wrong For Them...Wrong For Us

Okay, so people in the Bush-supporting (mostly center-right, some center-left) blogosphere are linking to this morning's NY Sun speculation that John Kerry's discharge may have been less-than-honorable. Jeff Jarvis has denounced them for it, throwing around accusations of mudslinging.

Now, I'm not going to over-exaggerate the NY Sun's reach: I really don't think that anything this paper runs will have much effect. Right-wing media still isn't taken very seriously in the States (or anywhere, really), and the NYSun is basically a tabloid already. And I disagree with Jarvis that this information is "mud:" Kerry has decided to run on his record, and has lied about that record on more than one occasion - he deserves to be exposed as the deceiver he has been, and the people should know as much as possible about the man they may select to run their country.

But you know what, folks? If this kind of crap is wrong for the Democrats, Liberals, and left-leaning media, it's wrong for the Republicans, Conservatives, and right-leaning media. Releasing "scandalous" information mere days or hours before the polls open with no chance for rebuttal or debate of any kind is mudslinging, regardless of content. If you have this information and you decide to sit on it until it could unleash the greatest amount of damage - no matter who you hope to help - you are undermining an informed society, and as such you are undermining democracy. This is despicable, and the NY Sun should be ashamed.

Whether or not the information is true (and I have absolutely no opinion - just this once - one way or the other), if you are going to release it, you must do so as soon as you have it and have verified your sources. To do otherwise is to engage in demagoguery. If it was wrong for the NYTimes and CBS to collude in the bogus "missing weapons" story (and I say it was), then it is wrong for the NYSun to release this story with full knowledge that it could not be sufficiently debated before the election.

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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