Thursday, December 30, 2004

Strong and Free

Babble on.

I read blogs for their content. That may seem self-evident, but what I mean is that I don't read a blog simply because the person writing it is a big-shot in some field or another. The Monger may or may not be a good doctor (personally, I'd guess he's quite good - if you're actually sick. I wouldn't bet against a sharp tongue if you're not, though), but he's a good blogger, so I read him. I have no idea if Matt Fenwick is a good engineer, but I know Jerry Aldini's a damned good read, and that's all that really matters to me.

I have recently discovered Strong and Free - Lawrie Hawn's blog. Many of you will recognize LCol (R) Hawn as the Conservative candidate in Edmonton who came so tantalizingly close to defeating our current sock-puppet of a Deputy Prime Minister in this past summer's federal election.

That's not why I read him.

This is why I read him:

...The Prime Minister and Pierre Pettigrew are not suddenly masters of international human rights negotiations because Muammar and his officials give them a "yeah, sure, whatever" when they raise the issue.

Should they try? Of course, they should. They should also note that the Iraqi embassy in Tripoli is Ba'ath Party Headquarters-in-exile, from which they continue to fund and direct the terrorists operating in Iraq today. Muammar the Peaceful has granted to a career Saddam thug, Anwar Mawlud Dhiban, political asylum and unhindered use of the embassy. Dhiban is ably assisted by Abdul Aziz Al Najm, the Tripoli head of that great charity organization, Hamas.

...and this:

I’m not accusing the Government of Canada of complicity and corruption in this unacceptable activity [sexual slavery], nor am I accusing Canadian police forces of being less than vigilant and dedicated in enforcing our laws. I am suggesting that the Government of Canada is complacent and has lost sight of the objectives of a good immigration program. One of them should be to promote the immigration of people who can play an important role in making their own lives and the lives of Canadians, in general, better. My money would be on doctors, nurses, scientists, teachers, technicians, etc., long before it would be on strippers...What Madame Sgro was really caught at is the longstanding Liberal practice of using immigration to prop themselves up at election time. It happens all across Canada and it is unethical and immoral. That doesn’t seem to bother “the natural governing party”, but it should bother Canadians.

...and this:

[addressed to the Prime Minister] If it's not possible to get DART to where they're needed today on Canadian Forces aircraft, find a way to get them there on someone else's. I suspect that most readily available aircraft are already being hired, but we should try. The deployment of DART, and a lot more money, would demonstrate some national leadership and will that used to be our hallmark, and which we have lost.

Please stop pretending and actually fund the Canadian Forces requirements in the areas of strategic airlift and strategic sealift. This will take several years but, like so many overdue programs, they simply have to start immediately. You may recall that a previous Minister of National Defence, John McCallum, quietly cancelled the strategic airlift program. I doubt that he did that alone. You may also recall that potential new strategic sealift assets were misrepresented as traditional aircraft carriers during the last federal election. I understand the politics of that, but it is counter-productive to what should be our national objectives.

Were Lawrie Hawn my boss, he'd get my loyalty. Were he my candidate, he'd get my time and effort. Right now, he's just a simple blogger, and as such he gets my attention, as he should get yours.

Babble off.

Here's $100,000 - don't spend it all in one place

Babble on.

The death toll from the earthquake-tsunami disaster has risen to over 100,000 souls, and continues to climb. Many, many more lives are in peril from hunger and disease. The scale of this tragedy is difficult to grasp, but it is clear that for a cataclysm of unprecedented size, unprecedented measures are required.

That's why it's so disappointing to me to see a company like Royal Bank of Canada pledge only $100,000 to relief efforts. Don't get me wrong: companies have no obligation to donate a cent, but most shareholders, employees, and customers expect a corporation to act as a responsible citizen. $100K from my little company would be huge. But RBC declared net income in fiscal 2004 of over $2.8 billion - that's profit, not revenue. So $100K from them comes across as somewhat cheap.

Especially so, considering pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has dipped into their bottom line to the tune of over $35 million - U.S. dollars:

Pfizer will donate $10 million to local and international relief organizations operating in the region.
Pfizer will contribute approximately $25 million worth of the company’s healthcare products which includes the anti-infective products Zithromax, Zyvox and Diflucan. Pfizer organizations in Asia have already begun donating Pfizer medicines and discussing logistical support issues with local health and relief officials.
"In addition to our financial contribution and product donations, we are ensuring that Pfizer colleagues with the needed medical and technical skills are available to assist with the relief effort throughout the affected areas."

The Pfizer Foundation Matching Gifts Program will match US employee contributions to non-profit organizations assisting in the relief effort. (Babbler's bold)

Pfizer is bigger than RBC, to be sure - not even twice as big, though. And the provision of medicines is one area where a drug company's special expertise is more appropriate than anything a bank could contribute. Still, doesn't the comparison make you cringe just a little?

Kudos to Pfizer for their generosity. It clearly illustrates the difference between a token gesture and a significant contribution.

Babble off.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tragedy on the coast of the Indian Ocean

Babble on.

I've read what others have said about the disaster - are we all going to be a little more careful throwing that word about now? - along the rim of the Indian Ocean. Most have been awestruck and overwhelmed by the unbelievable scope of death and suffering caused - over 75,000 souls lost so far. Some have been upset by Canada's official response so far. I have nothing more to add.

Pray if you believe in the power of prayer. Give generously (thanks to Myrick), whether you believe in prayer or not.

Babble off.

Blogs for the CPC

Babble on.

"Blogs for the CPC" sounds a little wooden, dontchathink?

I've put a button on my sidebar nevertheless. I have a paid-up membership in the CPC. I volunteered in my riding this past summer, and I'll volunteer again whenever the flag goes up. Much as I don't agree with everything I hear come out of a Conservative mouth - on Parliament Hill or anywhere else for that matter - I sincerely hope Canada gets a Conservative government next time around.

Consider it 'full disclosure' if nothing else.

Babble off.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas

Babble on.

Ones and zeroes floating through the ether aren't worth missing a minute of Christmas with your family, so I'm out of here. I'll be back next week, and you're welcome to c'mon back then.

In the meantime, I'd like to wish you all a safe and joyous holiday. Thanks for reading.

Babble off.

Give yer head a shake, Danny

Babble on.

Danny Williams has officially jumped the shark:

Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams has ordered the immediate removal of Canadian flags from all provincial government buildings in protest of failed talks with Ottawa over offshore revenue sharing.

"They're slapping us in the face. I'm not willing to fly that flag anymore in the province," an angry Williams told at a news conference Thursday in St. John's.

I wonder what Cpl Jamie Brendan Murphy would have said about this cheap political stunt of Williams'. Knowing a few Newfs, and knowing a few grunts, I think Cpl Murphy probably would have told Williams to stow his gargantuan ego and stop playing partisan games with the national flag. The flag under which Cpl Murphy proudly served. The flag under which he died. The flag under which his casket was draped.

Greg at Sinister Thoughts and I disagree about a great many things, but I'm in complete accord with him when he says this:

[Williams] can jump up and down and call Paul Martin a monkey if he wants to, but he better not mess with the flag. Paul Martin is not the flag. The people of Canada are that flag and he better treat it and us with respect. (Babbler's emphasis)

That bears repeating: Paul Martin is not the flag. In fact, it bears expansion: the Liberal Party is not the flag, nor is the Conservative Party to which I belong, nor is any politician or party or movement. The flag is a symbol of all of us.

I'm no fan of Paul Martin's, and if Danny Williams wants to have a pissing match with him, that's fine with me. But the minute he drops MY flag into the dirt in the middle of his juvenile urinary contest, I say: for shame.

Babble off.

Update: Hmmm. Someone who gets about ten times my daily traffic once told me he is almost always surprised at which posts attract comments from his readers. Seems he's right. I didn't think this was a difficult issue. Seems I was wrong.

First: I knew a fellow at RMC - played rugby with him - who was known as Newf. Great guy. Hair was so blond it was almost white. Always had a smile on his face. He was killed in a car crash shortly after graduation. Anyhow, his nickname wasn't pejorative. There were a bunch of folks from The Rock at the College, and not a one of them ever objected. Of course, if you ever called one of them a Newfie, you'd best be running by the time the word was out of your mouth. In any event, no offence was intended.

Second: Damian Penny - you know, the guy from Cornerbrook - summed up my feelings on this whole issue quite well:

Like all Newfoundlanders, I'm with Danny on the main issue here, but is desecrating the national flag (in a manner of speaking) really the best way to get the other provinces on our side? If I were in Alberta - a province what has, up until now, shown some sympathy for Newfoundland's position - I'd be pretty upset, and thinking something like, "if they hate Canada so much, maybe we should stop giving them so many millions of dollars in transfer payments."

What he said. The way to deal with this is not to piss off mainlanders like me who agree with you on the issue of resource revenues. It's counterproductive.

Third: on a side note, posting a link to your own blog in my comments is called link-whoring, and as the name suggests, it's bad form. You want referrals from Babbling Brooks, you e-mail me and ask me to check out your site. /ettiquettelesson

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

*singing* Daboodorays...

Babble on.

Christmas has come early to Whoville!

With straight couples divorces are pretty, erm, straight forward. Throughout the marriage it’s the responsibility of the male to screw the female. When the marriage is up, tradition has it that all of the screwing is now done to the male by the female (some would argue that the presence of her lawyer makes it a three-way).

This gets tricky with same sex couples as it’s no longer clear who is the screwer and who becomes the screwee once the relationship is dissolved.

Read the rest at...wait for it...POLSPY! *sniff* I just love a happy ending!

Babble off.

Update: Seems there's a little confusion over what I'm getting at here. Let me spell it out for you: I'm happy, very happy that PolSpy's back online. Happy enough to link to whatever they've put up on the board - it happens to be a funny take on gay marriage, which I don't have any problem with - and start singing Christmas songs from my childhood. That's it. No hidden messages. No political subtext. Just feelin' good about PolSpy. We all on the same page now?

I'm serious. No, really¡

Babble on.

My Chief Ottawa Correspondent (Sabu, Mighty Hunter of the Narwhal) has planted his razor-edged tongue most firmly in his ample cheek and directed my attention to an article in yesterday's Slate:

Believe it or not, the world we've landed in is not only more image-obsessed than we've ever seen. It's also more text-based than ever. We finger-type and we thumb-type. We e-mail, we IM, we blog. And the forms cannot contain the content. There's a dastardly disconnect. Among other things, it makes Dave Barry columns somewhat difficult to read. Someone must step into the sarcasm chasm¡

I'm serious¡ See, there are people who are relentlessly sincere. So, what are they supposed to do when they're trying to sound a bit bitter? Suppose you're IM'ing that oft-earnest friend you have, and he writes: "I need to go to church tomorrow and confess the jealousy in my heart." You forget — have you ever heard him say nice things about God or do the opposite? "Wait … do you really?" "Sorry. I mean, I need to go to church tomorrow¡ To confess my jealousy¡ And the fact that I just renewed my subscription to Maxim¡" "Oh. Me too. Only as a Jew, I must do these things in synagogue¡"

Now, is it just me, or does this ruin the gag? Ambiguity is a highly underrated quality in the art of writing. If I have to tell you I'm being sarcastic, either you don't know me very well, or I'm using the sarcasm inappropriately, or you're a dolt who wouldn't get it anyhow. Besides, we've already got punctuation that lets people in on kidding-around in situations where it might not be clear. In those odd cases where I'm joking about something serious, or where I'm writing someone who doesn't already know I'm an acid-tongued jerk, I end with either a winky-face ;) or a just-kidding j/k.

Besides, I can't imagine reading Alan at Occam's Carbuncle with an infestation of pestilent little ¡'s littered around the blog. It would lose that intimate ambiance we've come to know and cherish¡

Aaaack! I'm infected! Call Dr. Monger before it's too late...¡

Babble off.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Of real-life blogs and imaginary ruts

Babble on.

I've just finished responding to some correspondence from a fellow blogger - one for whom I have great respect - that deals with how much of one's personal life is appropriate for a blog.

Of course, there are no rules. The only limits on what should and shouldn't get posted are one's own reservations and boundaries.

I've typed a couple of really personal entries, saved them, and deleted them upon rereading in the light of another day. Somehow they always seemed...mawkish, I guess. Inappropriate. The funny thing is, I have no problem opening up about personal stuff with people face-to-face. But on a website, it just feels very "Look at me! I'm imperfect! Please approve!" and that's not me at all.

Here's the weird thing: I like reading blogs that get personal, uncomfortably personal, as long as it's done well. Like this:

I'm tired. I'm tired of people's meanness and the insoluble arguments that never seem to leave my surroundings or leave me out of them. Sox vs. Yankees. Republicans vs. Democrats. Everything. I'm tired of ugliness and everyone thinking they know how to run everyone else's lives and no one getting a break and the fact I have to work two jobs just to make enough money to live AND do what I'm good at, while Steve gets little more than the shaft for showing up at work every day.
Argh. I'm really doing some championship whining today. I apologize. I'm just allll bentouttashape today. Probably just hormonal. I'll soon be on the rag and you can just disregard the anger contained herein.

For a couple of months there, I was floating, and it was quite nice. I'd accomplished a goal. I was adjusting, growing accustomed, putting things off. Now things are crushing back in on me again. I'm turning around a corner. I hate corners. I hate change. I hate uncertainty. I hate transition.

That kind of leaves me SOL, doesn't it?

I just can't seem to write my own version of that - or rather, I can't seem to bring myself to publish it.

I know part of the reason for my reluctance is a man-sized helping self-interest garnished with a sprig of common courtesy: I have a wife, kids, extended family, friends, co-workers, and various acquaintances who didn't sign up to be fodder for my blog, and probably wouldn't appreciate seeing my [melodrama] deepest, darkest [/melodrama] thoughts and feelings about them published for all the teeming masses of web-empowered humanity to see. Who can blame them? And I decided before I even started Babbling Brooks that my web-life would only exist so long as it didn't impact negatively on my real-life. Blogging has the power to turn a guy into a modern-day Rip Van Winkle. In fact, back when Shannon and I only posted to AC's comments, I told her point-blank that I'd never start a blog because I didn't want to disappear into the basement to sit in front of the computer and post, only to walk back upstairs and find my three-year-old Boo was getting ready to move away to university.

Now look at me.

The thing is, that reluctance to impact my "real-life" only extends so far. I work in sales/service. It's entirely plausible that a client or prospective client could Google "Damian Brooks" to see what they find. Hmmmm...Babbling Brooks in the number one slot. What if they disagreed with the slightly-out-of-synch-with-the-Canadian-mainstream political angle of most of my posts? What if they complained to my bosses? What if I lost an account over pixels on a computer screen?

But I've already rung that bell, and I can't really un-ring it, can I? My worries haven't stopped me from calling the majority of the Canadian electorate a gaggle of whining ninnies, and worse. In for a penny, in for a pound, right? Well, I'm finding that's easier said than done.

Some of my reluctance surely comes from not knowing who's reading. I've chatted personally with many of the Brigade, and shared a beer and some personal stories with a few. I've even been trusted with the 'secret identities' of a couple of anonymous commentors. It all seems so cloak-and-dagger until you remember that, of all the stupid ways to lose a job or a friend, losing them over a blog would have to be one of the stupidest. And what's to stop some effing troll, or a Liberal lawyer for that matter, from using my own...musings, heh...against me? Don't mull that one over for long, 'cause the answer is nothing. It takes all kinds to make an internet, and that means you and I have to be careful, right?

Well...maybe not too careful. Maybe not quite as careful as I've been thus far.

I'm becoming increasingly convinced that personal stuff is the pinch of salt missing from most political-blog recipies. So I'm going to try to add it here. We'll see how it works.

Babble off.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Care for some salt with that crow, Linda?

Babble on.

Bob Tarantino is the best fisker in the Canadian blogosphere. Period.

Today, he hands Linda McQuaig her factually-challenged caboose:

Should Bush have expressly disavowed the [Kyoto] treaty? Probably not. Doing so was bad diplomacy and bad politics. It gave his opponents one more club to hit at him with. He should have adopted the Clintonian strategy: talk like you're going to do something about it, but just don't get around to it. Plausible deniability, and all that. To put it more finely, he was probably correct to not waste time on trying to ratify it, and the Senate was probably correct to refuse to ratify it, but Bush didn't need to advertise it. Whatever. But to paint the rejection of Kyoto as an entirely Bush-made phenomenon is, well, a lie.

One lie per column, you can let it slide. But there was another lie in which Linda felt the need to indulge...

Read it all, and you'll grow up big and strong-minded.

Babble off.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

"Be yours to hold it high..."

Babble on.

My parents split up when I was six years old, and each remarried. For years, I've looked for silver linings to that dark cloud of divorce, with only sporadic success. Recently I've thought quite a bit about one backhanded blessing I discovered early-on: my parents' breakup allowed me to have more than the standard-issue two sets of grandparents.

I have three Grandfathers who served Canada under the Red Ensign I fly on this site today. Each married a woman of unquestionable character and spirit, and while I speak now about my grandfathers, let there be no doubt of my respect and admiration for my grandmothers. I am very proud of all three men as patriarchs of their families, as contributing members of their communities, and as survivors of 'everyday' hardships I can barely comprehend. But today I focus on the pride I feel for each of them as Canadian patriots.

One is an immigrant, a man who raised himself from exceptionally humble beginnings on a strip of rock and sand in the Carribean to serve as an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Marvin Darville flew as an Air Navigator in Korea, on gruelling anti-submarine missions over the Atlantic during the tensest moments of the Cold War, and retired after three decades of military service to his adopted country.

One can trace his lineage in Canada back to 1818, and a hard-working farmer in Valcartier, QC. Arnold Brooks saw first-hand the results of war when his brother Clarence came home in a wheelchair. He still signed up as a Navigator in WWII, and flew in Lancasters out of England. These sorties over occupied Europe were harrowing enough that to this day, he will not speak of them. Returning home after the war, my grandfather joined the Post Office, where he continued to represent Canada internationally.

One recently passed away, after eighty honest and successful years on this Earth. Robert Bergey served in ambulances in the brutal Italian campaign of 1944. He returned home to earn an engineering degree, and remained deeply involved in his Peterborough community until his passing.

Wendy and Marvin, Joyce and Arnold, Marlyn and Bob - these are the ordinary Canadians I think of when I look at the Red Ensign. These are the everyday heroes whose work, whose sacrifice, whose legacy I honour by flying that old flag here. My grandparents, and millions of other Canadians like them.

Those who see some antipathy towards today's Canada in my respect for the Canada of days-past misread me. I love my country, and I wouldn't live anywhere else. I belt out the anthem at every opportunity, and my three year-old Boo already knows you always cheer for the team in Red and White ("Is Canada winning, Daddy?" "Yeah, little buddy, that's why Daddy's jumping up and down screaming at the TV."). I've seen my country east to west, north to south; urban, rural, and wilderness. I've watched the salmon run in Goldstream Provincial Park in Victoria, BC, and hiked four days from Halifax to Greenwood, NS on a dare. I've served my country, briefly and certainly without the distinction of my grandfathers, in uniform, and saluted our flag with tears in my eyes. I've screamed myself hoarse at the annual incarnation of the oldest international hockey rivalry in the world: RMC vs. West Point. I've even sacrificed time, energy, and money in a political campaign in the firm belief we should all participate in the process of governing ourselves. I'm comfortable calling myself a Canadian patriot.

But that doesn't mean I'm satisfied with a snapshot of Canada as it is now any more than my grandparents would have been with a freeze-frame of the Canada they inherited. It doesn't mean this great nation can't become greater. And it certainly doesn't mean today's Canadians can afford to sit back on our laurels and announce arrogantly that we're somehow fated to enjoy the freedom and prosperity we had such a small historical part in creating.

I've struggled to explain to friends and family curious about my foray into the blogosphere what binds the disparate blogs of the Red Ensign Brigade together. The closest answer I can give is that we share strong feelings about the importance of Canada's past in charting our nation's future. We share a conviction that Canadian freedom and prosperity are not a birthright bestowed upon a lucky citizenry, but rather a reward for action consistent with longstanding Canadian values.

We've taken the Red Ensign flag as our symbol because we understand that while Canada has improved in many ways since the adoption of the new Maple Leaf, it has also disregarded some of what made it great in generations past. I'm not saying our country under the Ensign was perfect, or even close to it. The residential schools, the Japanese-Canadian internment camps, the schism over conscription - all occurred under our beloved Red Ensign as well. But that flag hearkens back to a time when Canada did more than it talked, both at home and abroad. Our 21st century Canada needs some of the old-time spirit in the national character as well. By all means, let's remember both the good and the bad of our history, the better to avoid its mistakes and build on its successes.

John McCrae wrote: "To you from failing hands we throw The torch, be yours to hold it high." This generation of Canadians stands on the shoulders of generations such as my grandparents'. We have been thrown the Canadian torch - are we holding it as high as we can?

With that, I give you the eleventh edition of The Red Ensign Standard.

'Tis the season, and Ith at Absinthe & Cookies sure knows it. Best of luck with the Jimmy, Ith.

Paul at All Agitprop, All the Time... sees idiots downrange, and proceeds to ripple off some electronic full metal jacket. First to feel his words in their own personal X-ring are the Montreal public service union, then the federal Liberals, and finally the hapless rebels in Iraq - be warned, the gunman actually takes the brunt of a little more than Paul's wit. Wait a minute...unions, Liberals, and lawless Islamofascists...if you've ever read Paul, you know that's not even sporting.

Don at All Things Canadian... renews my faith in my fellow hosers by focusing on what's really important in the world: the hockey lockout. Now if only we could put him in a room with Bettman and Goodenow and send in the team trainers to patch them up when he was done.

DirtCrashr at Anthroblogology scatters shots about a Mexican vacation, and thoughts about working in silence.

How the hell do you sum up two weeks of John's work at Argghhh! with a couple of lousy links? It's like trying to build a likeness of Marilyn Monroe with two popsicle sticks and a drinking straw - the tools aren't up to the task. The Armorer (notice I got the 'Mericun spelling right this time, John!) remembers veterans young and old, celebrates his fourth-place finish in the Military Blog category of the 2004 Weblog Awards with typical humility and class, and encourages us all to give to a great cause. Oh, and there's some military pr0n too!

Andrew at Bound By Gravity takes note of a very special event that received little of the fanfare it deserved, and a horrible state of affairs that also seemed to skip across the public consciousness without penetrating. One of the fascinating things about BBG is Andrew's ability to reach across the Canadian political spectrum - but trying to forge a compromise on SSM might have been a reach even for him. I'm also going to highlight this little post partly because I'm a petty and vindictive man who bears grudges, but mostly because Andrew's dead right.

Huck at BumfOnline takes a couple of stabs at the SSM tempest, but I'm partial to his snarkier work from the past two weeks: pointing to the hypocrisy of the Canadian position on Libya (and Iran, and China, and...), and the sheer stupidity of taking political advice from celebrities.

Dana at Canadian Comment speculates on the violence of the left, and points out an exceptional quote. But leave it to her male his counterpart Bob to talk about the super-duper important stuff: nudity in red-potato-land. (Babbler's note: Idiot With A Keyboard that I am, I've always assumed Dana was a girl. Not so, says he himself in the comments to this thread. Correction made, with contrite apologies.)

The Candepundit remains on sabbatical.

Chris at ChrisCam extols the benefits of using two whole cows to make a burger - one of the main ones being it scares European-girlie-men. He then changes tack entirely, and posts a heartwarming personal story about a chance meeting in Arlington, VA.

Rebecca at Doxology does something I find very difficult - a long, courageous, intensely personal post about family and faith. She says she's much more "down-home than political." I say go with what works for you, and that long post worked.

Darcey at DustMyBroom confronts the prospect of a killer you can't keep locked up any more, and provides Liberals with their next money pit weapons-registration project. On a serious note, luck and best wishes to Grama Connie.

James at Hammer Into Anvil gets passionate about investments. Of course, as a guy who sells insurance for a living, I object heartily to his derogatory comment about my noble profession. James, I stick my tongue out at you. Mend your ways, lest you get the full raspberry treatment next time.

John at, like Huck, is into guitars. He's also itching to study law. If he joins the Liberal party and starts writing books about punk bands, he's off the blogroll.

Glenda at Just Between Us Girls seems to have temporarily flown the coop.

Keith at Minority of One, still adjusting the blog schedule to accomodate full-time single-parenthood, draws lines between Liberals and organized crime. Specifically, he draws two horizontal lines parallel with each other, like this = . He also posts a picture of Frankenstein and a quote from a real monster.

Jason at Musing knots his own knickers over continued funding for the money pit long-gun registry. It's still a Librano government, Hayz. Didn't you know, that guns kill people? It's still Christmas, too, and so much the better. And since I can't figure out any clever segue, I'll just link to this heartening piece.

Dr. Funk at Musings of a Canadian Slacker remains true to his title with all of two posts in two weeks. Careful criticizing Wells, though, or he'll call you a stalker.

Myrick at...uh...Myrick brings us typically Eastern-exotic news of pirates, Singapore home brew, and challenges to Canadian sovereignty. He also lets us know he's up for one of the 2004 Asia Blog Awards. We sure are a nominal nominated bunch.

Nathan of Nathan's Updates from Seoul fame holds forth on the special joys of international pecuniary serendipity. Remember, that which does not kill me...can probably be used - with a little imagination - to kill the bastards that sent it my way in the first place. Breathe deeply, Nathan.

Curt of North Western Winds doesn't generally post stuff to which I would respond ROTFLMAO. Normally, he writes thoughtful and serious pieces that go right over my puny and inadequate little head. But Curt defies my expectations with this post-election joke that had me - you guessed it - ROTFLMAO. (Although my wife tells me my A is still on.)

Alan at Occam's Carbuncle says what I wish I could more often than my poor, fragile ego can take. Feeling completely inadequate, I refer you to his caustic wisdom. Freedom vs. peace - read it. Official bilingualism vs. thinking adults - read it. Post-election Dalton McWeasel vs. Pre-election Dalton McTrustme - read it.

Nicholas (see, I listen, Nick - D'OH!) of Quotulatiousness expresses my own dark thoughts on retirement planning, and continues on gamely with his robust and full-bodied wine theme (with just a hint of citrus). Still, the best reason to read this blog, as always, is the choice of quotes.

Ray at Raging Kraut posts lustful wistful reminiscences of blogging from work, and also says something about charity that should be mandatory reading for anyone thinking of canvassing door-to-door.

Paul at Ravishing Light provides us with his own unique perspective on the "Feast of Secular Goodwill and Economy-Sustaining Consumption." And a merry one to you too. Speaking of which, I was made merry by the thought of El Presidente choking on one of his trademark flammable phallic symbols - what exactly might he be compensating for? Finally, I suggest that any moniker that rhymes with "Israeli" will become a street name in Ottawa shortly after Beelzebub is seen doing triple-axels on the Canal on Christmas Day.

Rightjab is currently down for the count.

Jay Random at Shiny Happy Gulag seems to be somewhere east of Siberia without web-access.

Stephen Taylor seems to be taking the same break his namesake and party leader did this summer after the election. Please don't disappear too long, Mr. Harper Taylor.

The original Taylor at Taylor & Company waxes philosophical about ballet and fine spirits. I'm with you, Chris: to hell with all inauthentic swans and government monopolies!

Jay at The Freeway to Serfdom has a mischievous idea on taxation - unfortunately it would mean the end of the Canadian military. Still, there's the grovelling... And it wouldn't be The Freeway if we didn't have a post about libertarian traffic utopia.

Thomas at The Green Baron is preoccupied with leaving green for other employment. He takes time out, however, to add his voice to the chorus of reasonable people on both sides of the longest undefended border in the world calling for an end to the current cow-madness.

Kate at The Last Amazon vents her ongoing disgust for the contemptible deserter, tells us about why she joined the Fighting Fusileers, and steps into Paul's turf by going off on Quebec labour laws.

The London Fog isn't just a blog - it publishes long-lost comics as well. Maybe I don't know these folks well enough to know if they're kidding about this, and maybe I already know them too well. Either way, it's the spookiest commentary on SSM I've read. On a more serious note...wait a minute...those crazy kids!

The Monger extols the long-term health benefits of swallowing your medicine, of not getting sick, and of taking deep cleansing breaths when confronted with breathtaking stupidity. Prescription filled.

The Urban Possum at The Phantom Observer gives his opinions on SSM and Peter Jackson...but not in the same post. Thank the Lord (of the Rings) for small blessings.

Ben at The Tiger in Winter is probably best known in the blogosphere for his ability to apply an unquestioned intellect to difficult issues. I'd like to dig a little deeper, and show you the true nature of the man.

Between lighting each candle on a menorah, Tipper at Tipperography blogs about school standards and the electorate. She also puts forth some really heady stuff here, and simplifies to the point where I begin to understand it here. It's somewhat disquieting to know Curt has a female doppleganger somewhere in Indiana.

Kevin at Trudeaupia addresses the delicate issue of the delicacy of the issue of racism and immigration, he commemorates the lowering of the Red Ensign, and he tries his hand at travel writing. I'm not kidding when I tell you I've had heart surgery that was less stressful.

During a brief respite from having his body fall completely to pieces on him (chicken soup and cod liver oil, my boy - that's the ticket), Temujin at West Coast Chaos draws our attention to a good landing (that's aviator code for one you can walk away from), and pokes fun at big, full, perfect...profits.

By the way, is Alan at Gen-X at 40 in the Brigade any more, or has he tired of us right-of-centre knuckle-dragging crazies? He still has the fish-ensign up, but he's not on the roll. Ah, well, go visit him for a beer.

Finally, on behalf of the Brigade, I'd like to dedicate this edition of The Red Ensign Standard to Nicholas Packwood. Thanks.

Babble off.

Friday, December 17, 2004

And now, for something completely different...

Babble on.

It's Friday. Christmas is almost here. Have some fun today. Knock 'em on their keesters or feed 'em to the sharks, it's all in the Holiday Spirit!

Elves mooning the boss, and elves in thongs. So much for the illusion of serious commentary on this site.

Oh well. I hope to redeem myself on Monday with the latest edition of The Red Ensign Standard.

Babble off.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Question answered

Babble on.

A political Hack gives the definitive answer to Shannon's question. In fact, he spells out exactly why I swallowed my distaste for our tawdry political process and canvassed for a losing candidate this past summer.

Buy a membership. Get involved. If you don't, the Liberals will win until our sun goes supernova.

Babble off.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

About to get KLAPPed?

Babble on.

You know, I think the only surprise regarding this story (with props to RJ) is that a Librano broke the rule of Omerta:

Used British submarines sat in limbo, corroding for three years after cabinet approved their purchase because former prime minister Jean Chretien didn't think Canadians would find the expenditure palatable, an ex-defence minister said Monday.

I really only had one thing to say when I saw this story, and then I scrolled down through RJ's comments, and Mike Brock had already said it.

Mr. Collenette, call your lawyer.

Babble off.

Look for the fruit on the tree

Babble on.

I don't go to a plumber for legal advice. I don't go to a poor man for investment advice. And I don't go to Hog on Ice for relationship advice (hat tip to Jaeger). If you're not in a successful relationship, I don't care what you have to say on the matter.

I do go to a doctor for medical advice. And I definitely go to Dr. Monger for advice on the Canadian medical system.

Perhaps most Canadians don't feel there is a problem. After all, most Canadians are not sick. But those who get sick will soon discover that I and other Cassandras of the Best Health Care System are right. The personal goals of individual patients are only met when they coincide exactly with the Collective Goals our political masters agree on.

He's right, of course. Not a month ago, Canadians voted Tommy Douglas, the creator of the Borg Best Health Care System Greatest Canadian. I wonder how many sick Canadians gave Douglas their vote?

Babble off.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Like ships in the night...

Babble on.

Chris Taylor is stalking me. I'm sure of it.

First, he's in the insurance business. I'm in the insurance business. Coincidence? I think not.

He shows up at the VRWC (Toronto Branch) blogger bash. I was there first.

Then, he starts taking pictures of me. Oh sure, you can't actually see me in the shots, but that's just a matter of photo resolution, or someone's head in the way. I was right across the street from him, and he knew it. And he covers it all up by saying he was just there for the Remembrance Day parade. Yeah right. Like we all haven't heard that one before.

Now I find he's on my trail again, snooping around Campbell House scant days after I lunched there on business. He's sick, I tell you, sick.

I'm just going to have to deal with this once and for all by inviting him to lunch one day for the mother of all confrontations. Besides, I hear Ben's buying.


On a slightly more sober note, the stars are misaligned for blogging until later this week - between work deadlines, a night-course exam, and Christmas shopping, I'm sort of Scrooged for time right now.

Babble off.

Friday, December 10, 2004

A death less personal than it might have been

Babble on.

We've just been told the names of the two Snowbirds pilots involved in yesterday's crash.

Capt. Miles Selby, 31, a native of Tsawwassen, B.C. and two-year veteran of the elite aerobatic team, died in the crash. The Defence Department said the pilot of the other jet, Capt. Chuck Mallett, 35, of Edmonton, Alta., sustained minor injuries and remains in hospital.

Rest in peace, Capt Selby. Get well soon, Capt Mallett.

Every time I hear of something like this, I find myself chafing to find out the names of those involved. I worry that it's someone I know, someone I've lost touch with over the years. I visualize an old classmate, or someone who put me through training. I knew Capt Derek Nichols. I didn't know Lt (N) Chris Saunders. I don't know why I need to know a name; the grief arrives no matter what. But I always try to find out as quickly as I can.

Sometimes I think the Canadian Forces would be better off if we all knew someone presently serving. Maybe all of us would worry until we found out a name. Maybe we wouldn't let our federal government equip our friends, our neighbours, our relatives with ancient kit while expecting them to perform at such a high level.

If each accident - each death, each serious injury, each close call for heaven's sake - were a little more personal for every one of us, would we as Canadian citizens finally make our military as proud as they make us?

Babble off.

John the Quite Sane

Babble on.

At the risk of giving any sort of recognition and publicity - even secondhand - to someone who so pathetically and desperately craves it, I refer you to John the Mad. No, no, it's not John himself I'm talking about, but the subject of his post. This reasoned piece is particularly worth reading. A taste:

Perhaps, despite best efforts on our part, the hard won intitial consensus of John the Mad and Anonymous is doomed to fracture and I can expect further barbs about not caring a whit for those poor doomed women of the Montreal massacre. I promise you that even if you do make more nasty comments, I won't stoop to accusing you spuriously of not caring about 11 year old female transit riders in Toronto, just because of your apparent unwillingness to consider redirecting the wasted long gun registry dollars to stopping handgun smuggling and gang violence in our cities.

If John is mad, I'm stark and raving as well.

Babble off.

Culture isn't just for yogurt and liberal elites anymore

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Earlier this year - during the Canadian federal election, in fact - Margaret Atwood wrote opinion pieces for both the Globe and Mail and the National Post slamming knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, McCulture/Disneyophile conservatives for being backwards hicks who would kill The Arts (always capitalized, you barbarian!) in Canada. I take a perverse pleasure in the fact that both papers published letters I wrote refuting her liberal elitist silliness. In my vanity, I imagined her sitting at her breakfast table reading the papers, and yelling "BROOKS! I don't know who you are, but I'll get you my pretty!"

Wouldn't Maggie be surprised to see the discussion taking place in the Canadian VRWC blogosphere today. Of course, it begins predictably enough for her:

The Mad Medic: "...MAN, does ballet ever blow...My wife says this is because I have no "culture" and maybe I should move into a 'double-wide'. I say this is because I have a functioning 'brain' and seeing flouncy people flounce flouncily for over an hour really gets on my 'nerves'."

...but the response is eloquent and heartfelt...

The Purveyor of Fine Invective: " its defense, The Nutcracker is probably the only ballet where you will see soldiers in 18th century military uniforms carrying rifles with bayonets. The bayonets get used, too -- against man-sized mice. In any human-vermin war, I tend to side with the humans, especially 18th century soldiers and cavalry who are not shy of using their bayonets. There's also the very tame romance between Clara and the Prince. I think there are worse things in life than raising a young girl who admires men (noblemen, even) who serve in the profession of arms."

...and for the Last word, a sip of warm experience...

The Dancer: "Years ago when I use to go out to the nightclubs with my girlfriends I would be approached by men and eventually they would ask me what I did. At first, I never thought anything of saying dancer. This would inevitably bring on the – are you really? No, come on, what do you really do? Show me something. One night, one man was making a particular pest of himself with his cynicism and his lack of appreciation for classical ballet. I tried to explain that ballet was about beauty and form, about emotion and sexuality. He just wasn’t getting it. So I hiked up my dress, leaned against the bar, lifted up my leg straight up in the air and rotated my leg till it was behind my head. Before you could blink, Colleen and I were six deep in men at the bar and never had to buy a drink after that. From that time on, whenever I went out with the girls, they were the ones pestering me to do the leg thingy. And that is why the King of Snow wears pants that tight."

For a bunch of eeevil Rovian neo-cons looking to dismantle the legacy of Tommy Douglas while using homeless Iraqi children as speedbumps on the road to hell, we sure can get touchy-feely at times. Why, our own Spectral Pest has even been nominated for Best Culture Blog at Wizbang's Weblog Awards.

I'm sure there's a lesson in all of this, if only I had a graduate degree in liberal arts so I could decipher it. Ah well, it's The Incredibles for this unlettered boor.

Babble off.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

While we're at it, let's demand all snowflakes be made of gold

Babble on.

In yet another sign of the coming apocalypse, Pravda Canada has endorsed Canadian participation in missile defence.

Canada has a responsibility to help the U.S. defend North American cities against attack by a rogue state like North Korea or against an accidental missile launch. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has endorsed exploring missile defences. Why should Canada boycott what is essentially a high-tech research program?

This from the editorial board of the Toronto Star. Please hold a moment while I defibrillate myself.

Of course, the Star's modest proposal comes with some conditions. When I read these, I laughed so hard I'm going to have to get the upholstry on my chair cleaned.

Rather than dither, Martin should make the case for joining. He should also impose a few sensible conditions.

  • Canada should not pay too much of the cost. The U.S. will spend $10 billion next year, from its $400 billion military budget. To match that we would have to put up $300 million from our $13 billion budget. That's too much. Given that this is a U.S. priority, we should contribute less. (Babbler - freeloading is a Canadian value?)

  • U.S. rockets must not be sited here, though tracking radars would be tolerable. We have had them since the 1950s. (Babbler - weapons are bad, radar is better, but only until we find that it disrupts the migration of the rare Northern Feathered Newt, at which point radar becomes bad)

  • Bush should pledge to deploy no more than, say, 50 interceptors. The shield is advertised as a "limited defence," not as a bid to make Fortress America invulnerable, which could subvert global arms control. (Babbler - because tying one hand behind one's back is simply prudent when dealing with nuclear defence - have to make it sporting, right?)

  • Bush should promise not to use the system to target satellites, and not to place weapons in space. Canada is against making war in space. (Babbler - unfortunately this is true, although what Canada should really be against is Canadians being turned into radioactive air pollution by a North Korean nuke)

Go ahead, take a moment to catch your breath and wipe the tears of uproarious laughter from your cheeks. You have to admit, the morons in the Star Chamber certainly have an active imagination. In fact, I very nearly e-mailed them to ask what colour the sky was on their elseworld planet.

Which brings me to the true topic of today's post: What I Like About The Canadian Left. You understand, this is a really, really short list.

1. They despise wishy-washy, poll-driven, stand-for-absolutely-nothing, wait-for-me-I'm-your-leader Liberals (like the Star's editorial board) as much as I do.

2. That's it.

As evidence, I present Greg at Sinister Thoughts - one of the few lefties with whom I could bring myself to raise a pint - who not only pointed me to the Star editorial, but also pulled words directly from my mouth and put them into print before I'd even thought them. Neat trick, that.

Typical Liberal drivel. Let us in, but don't ask us to do anything, or pay and by the way do what we say, or else.

Well said, Comrade.

Babble off.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A Director of exactly what?

Babble on.

The United States of America has a national security and intelligence apparatus that by any reckoning is among the world's foremost. Yet, shaken by the September 11th tragedy, our American friends have undertaken a massive review of their intelligence agencies, with an eye to substantive reform.

The most tangible result of that review is the intelligence-reform bill passed by the Senate today. A useful primer on that bill can be read here. The most radical change proposed by this legislation is the creation of a new Cabinet-level position: Director of National Intelligence. Originally, the September 11th commission envisioned this Director as a clearing-house for all intelligence matters, superceding both the CIA and Defense intelligence services, and reporting directly to the President. This vision has been somewhat watered-down by Washington realpolitik, but both the White House and Congress hailed the compromise bill as a determined step forward.

Fred Kaplan at Slate disagrees, and while his political spin may or may not be accurate, his exposure of the bill's most glaring weakness is right on target:

The Defense Department's "statutory responsibilities" for intelligence matters—which the bill says the new NID may not abrogate—are laid out in Title 10 of the U.S. Code (Chapter 21) and in DoD Directive 5100.20. They cover the personnel, operations, and budgets of not just the Defense Intelligence Agency (and its Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine sub-branches), but also the National Reconnaissance Office (which controls all spy satellites), the National Imagery and Mapping Agency* (which selects the routes for those satellites), and, most critically, the National Security Agency (the largest U.S. intelligence apparatus, which handles electronic and communications intercepts).

All told, these activities comprise about 80 percent of the U.S. intelligence community's budgets. In short, this "reform" bill places about 80 percent of the entity that's supposedly being reformed outside the control of the official—the new national intelligence director—who is supposedly the reform's centerpiece.

Budgets don't tell the whole story, of course. The U.S., more than any other nation, utilizes ultra-high-tech information-gathering methods. No legislation would have made those tools of the trade - America's great advantage in this field - less expensive to develop, employ, and maintain. While a fully-empowered DNI would have theoretically had control over those massive budgets, he undoubtedly would have found his hands tied if he wanted to retain the capabilities those budgets generated. In other words, it is a smart bet that much of the money in those out-of-reach budgets is effectively non-discretionary.

Having said that, one must agree with Kaplan's conclusion: taking even rubber-stamp decisions out of the hands of the new DNI is the surest way to render that official toothless and largely irrelevant in the intelligence community.

There will be a director of national intelligence. But the post will likely be a figurehead, at best someone like the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, at worst a thin new layer of bureaucracy, and in any case nothing like the locus of decision-making and responsibility that the 9/11 commission had in mind.

For a country supposedly interested only in itself, the United States certainly puts a great deal of serious thought into determining what happens outside their own borders. Whatever the consequences of the intelligence-reform bill, that will not change.

Babble off.

I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you

Babble on.

Finally, some all-too-infrequent good news for our proud but beleaguered military: JTF2 has been awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for its actions in Afghanistan.

Canada's special operations military unit, Joint Task Force 2, has been awarded the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation for heroism in battle in Afghanistan, but Canadians will not be able to hear any details of the elite unit's actions.
Steven Jurgutis, press secretary for Defence Minister Bill Graham, confirmed that members of JTF-2 were present for the private ceremony, which he described as "low-key," but he could not reveal the number of soldiers in attendance or any information about the actions being honoured.

"It's one of these tricky situations where it is important to recognize and honour the good work they've done, but the nature of their work, it's not exactly something you can talk about," he said.

For those of you who don't follow military matters all that closely, this is a very big deal. Only one other Canadian unit has ever received this honour: the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) for their heroic stand at Kapyong, Korea, on the 24th and 25th of April 1951. Their Citation can be read here.

So to the warriors of JTF2, I say 'well done'. I don't know what you did to receive this recognition, but I'm guessing it wasn't playing paddy-cake with Al-Qaeda or Taliban jihadis. BZ.

Babble off.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Read the Red

Babble on.

The Red Ensign Standard has been published again, this time by Paul Denton at Ravishing Light. Kudos to Paul for sifting through two weeks of posts by almost forty bloggers, and picking some favourites.

As the blogroll grows, this task becomes increasingly daunting. Which is why I've volunteered to host the next roundup before the task becomes impossible. You see, I'm essentially lazy. Like you hadn't already figured that out.

Babble off.

Gun-barrels taste like crap

Babble on.

Personally, I think Colby Cosh runs a real blog. His absence from the list of nominees for Best Canadian Blog for the 2004 Wizbang Weblog Awards is an embarrassing mistake.

It has been suggested that his status as a sometimes-paid journalist should disqualify him from recognition as a blogger. This is just plain silly.

If all he did was slap his newspaper columns up on a website, I think it would be fair to dismiss him as a journalist with an internet presence - a separate category in this contest. But Cosh talks about pens, lava-lamps, and distasteful video games. In short, he blogs.

So do Sullivan, Lileks, and Hewitt. They're nominated as bloggers, not journalists - and rightly so.

I don't think Kate bears Colby any ill will. I think she simply wants to see Colby have his own category of award. Something about men, sheep, and love.

Babble off.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Grandmama bringin' it old-school

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Last night my grandparents were in town, visiting from Ottawa. The discussion around the dinner table eventually touched on the widely-publicized but anemic protests against GWB from earlier this week. Here's what my retired-grade-two-schoolteacher, adopts-abused-cats, sings-the-silliest-songs, sweetest-lady-in-the-neighbourhood grandmother had to say about the whole thing:

"Did you see they interviewed some fool with pink hair on the news? I'm going deaf, you know, but some days I just don't think it's happening fast enough."

Best. Line. Ever.

Babble off.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Vote now, vote often

Babble on.

I won't tell you how to vote...but I'm voting Flea. And also Argghhh!

Babble off.

I can't wait for the sequel, Austin

Babble on.

Austin at The Transplanted Texan writes what I've thought, about authors I've read, in a post entitled Epic Vision (Part I). And now that he's said it, I need to start scrambling around for a non-political post topic for the next slow news day.

[Robert] Jordan started off well - in my view - and sucks the reader fully into his world. The next few books, through number six or so, sustain that enthusiasm and excitement, or let it drop only a little. But once we reach the last half (please?) of the series, the story makes it obvious that Jordan doesn't know exactly where he's going, and things begin to break down. When the entirety of a 700 page book chronicles only the events in a single day, you know there's going to be trouble moving the plot.

He says similar things about the prolific Asimov, and I especially liked this analogy as it pertains to the Foundation series: "It's like a painter who has finished his masterpiece returning to the full canvas, stapling another half-board onto the side and painting on another section." A painter who has developed a nervous disorder that makes his hand shake, or a vision problem that clouds his ability to assess his own work. You wonder if anyone knows how to leave well enough alone these days.

Might I add that Terry Goodkind seems to have completely misplaced his ability to write a story? He has morphed from a talented and compelling author into a very dark, almost apocalyptic preacher - the type you expect to see handing out pamphlets on a street corner while wearing a hand-lettered sandwich board that proclaims "The End Is Near!"

This disease of running out of interesting things to say, but continuing to say things because it pays well isn't confined to SciFi and Fantasy, by the way. Tom Clancy suffers from it, as does Stephen Coonts. And I will admit I enjoyed Diana Gabaldon's first four books of the Outlander series much more than the last one. It was a long time coming, and seemed like a placeholder to keep fans interested in the series while she thought about where to go next.

Of course, as an aspiring author himself, I'm sure Austin appreciates the irony of posting his thoughts on literary sequels in two parts. It was intentional, right big guy?

Babble off.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Alexa McNutbar

Babble on.

Can anyone think of a realistic scenario whereby the NDP would form our national government? Anyone? Bueller? Right then, protest party it is. So, as a former leader of a political protest party, Alexa McDonough should really be yesterday's news. Why, then, is she in the Halifax Herald today?

As the member for Halifax in Canada's 38th Parliament, I feel compelled to remain in Ottawa today, fulfilling my additional duties as NDP foreign affairs critic and member of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs.

I'm still not getting it. She's in Ottawa attempting to do the job taxpayers hired her to do, but succeeding only in embarrassing herself by becoming a caricature of the modern barking lefty moonbat. This is the story of her political career. How exactly is it newsworthy?

Ohhhh. She's making a point of not being where The Cowboy is, even though he's speaking to her hometown crowd in Halifax. Got it. Protest noted. I'm sure as soon as someone explains Alexa's exalted position in the grand karmic web of the universe ("Condi, should I know this Alexis McDonut?"), GWB will feel properly chastened. Until that time, however, life for the President of the United States - not to mention the rest of us - continues.

Alexa is staying in Ottawa so she can pout for the cameras in a committee room on Parliament Hill and listen to twaddle like this:

Canada's first ambassador for disarmament, the Hon. Douglas Roche, addressed the Foreign Affairs Committee last week with these words: "The nuclear arms race has been regenerated as a result of the development and intended deployment of ballistic missiles by the U.S." As a result, he noted, the crisis the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty "is facing now is the most severe that I've ever seen."

Forgive me for being blunt here, but who the hell cares about a 'severe crisis' faced by words on a page? Every world leader could simultaneously decide to rip up the NNPT tomorrow, throw it in a bonfire and urinate on the ashes, and I wouldn't bat an eyelash - as long as the wrong countries weren't obtaining nuclear weapons technology. Only a dyed-in-the-wool socialist bureaucrat would care more about a document than about the intent of that document. And the truth is that nuclear weapons are proliferating regardless of international treaties that aren't worth the paper they're written on. By the way, Alexa, that was happening long before George W. Bush took office.

The shrill voice of the unserious left continues her little opus with this widely discredited pseudo-stat:

...War on Iraq in which 100,000 men, women and children have lost their lives...

Ms. McD should really read more POGGE. ChimpAlexa LIED! NDP credibility DIED! Or something like that - I'm really no good at protest chants.

The barking continues with this factually-challenged tidbit:

Thanks to Mr. Bush's multi-billion-dollar "Star Wars" missile defence plan, Russia and China are in the process of developing new generations of nuclear weapons...

Anyone who honestly believes China and Russia sit around on their backsides waiting to develop weapons exclusively in response to entirely defensive American initiatives isn't qualified to write a high-school current affairs paper, let alone sit on our parliamentary foreign affairs committee. This attempt to lay the blame for other countries' offensive weapons entirely at the door of the Bush administration is conveniently disconnected from reality.

But the real poisoned cherry on top of this sundae-from-hell is McDonough's conclusion:

The majority of Canadians do not want us to join Bush's Star Wars missile defence madness because they understand that the very pursuit of BMD undermines Canada's worthwhile goal of helping to rid the world of its weapons of mass destruction.

There are some sober and well-presented arguments against ballistic missile defence, most of which revolve around the cost and effectiveness of such a system. But burying one's head in one's ass the sand and ignoring reality isn't an argument. Assuming that every repressive and hostile nation on earth would stop building weapons and gather in a circle to hold hands and sing kumbaya if only the West would stop building defences isn't an argument. Offering up your society with all its freedom and prosperity to the tender mercies of the North Koreas and Irans of the world isn't an argument.

And this is why serious people of all political stripes will continue to ignore the increasingly irrelevant federal New Democratic Party on matters of international security.

Serious people understand that not all nations adhere to international agreements - even ones they supposedly support. Serious people don't assert that one country's efforts to improve its offensive weapons are the inevitable consequence of another country's efforts to improve its defensive capabilities. Serious people understand that no matter what your foreign policy looks like, you should "walk softly and carry a big stick" to support that policy.

Unfortunately, Alexa McDonough and the NDP are about as serious as a farting contest between eight year old boys.

Babble off.