Thursday, September 30, 2004

Running away is not 'resisting'

Babble on.

I don't agree with his reasons for opposing the Vietnam war and refusing to fight, but I respect Mohammed Ali for having the courage of his convictions.

When Ali refused to serve, he was stripped of his title, sentenced to prison, and fined $10,000. Freed on appeal, he was inactive for over three years while his case dragged on.

I have no similar respect for Brandon Hughey.

"I had promised myself that under no circumstances would I allow myself to become complicit in the illegal occupation of Iraq," said Hughey. "No contract or enlistment oath can be used as an excuse to participate in acts of aggression or crimes against humanity."

Nobody drafted this twit. And since he decided to flee to Canada instead of living with the consequences of his decision not to honour his contract, I have trouble with the label "war resister" applied by the Comox Valley Record (it's an Air Force town - they should damned well know better).

Ali resisted. Hughey dodged deserted. Big difference.

(Thanks to Ben for the correction)

Babble off.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Wake up and smell the latte

Babble on.

I've now had my second comment this month from people-don't-kill-people-GUNS-kill-people liberal-lefties regarding the profile posted at the top of my sidebar. Specifically, they find this phrase objectionable:

I believe most problems can be solved with weaponry of a high enough calibre.

What's so objectionable about that? I mean, the good folks at 3 PPCLI and the 101st Airborne would agree with me.

Maybe I'm just not expressing myself well enough. This should make things a little more clear (via IMAO).

OK, so "most problems" might be a bit of an exaggeration. But some problems, some very serious problems require solutions involving deadly force. If you don't understand that, you need to wake up and smell your venti-non-dairy-no-fat-double-espresso-latte.

Freedom's not free, people. About that, I'm dead serious.

Babble off.

He's spending our money to keep us from spending our money

Babble on.

Let me join the growing chorus of those who would like to drown George Smitherman in a vat of snake-oil.

Jerry, as usual, has a must-read post on the issue. And if you're looking for a wicked rant - and who among us isn't? - then Jay Jardine is your man.

It is morally indefensible to tell grown adults that they can't spend their own money on their own health. And it's completely impractical as well.

What an idiot.

Babble off.

When the going gets tough, the tough shoot themselves in the goddamned foot again

Babble on.

If you're the Canadian Armed Forces, what do you do if you don't have enough money in the budget to recruit and train new troops? Why, you study the recruiting system, of course:

Canada's military watchdog plans an inquiry into how the Defence Department handles recruiting. Andre Marin, ombudsman for National Defence and the Canadian Forces, is to announce the inquiry at a news conference today.

Some days I think NDHQ should get burned to the ground. OK, most days.

Babble off.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy - Part VI

Babble on.

Over the years, the month of September has seen fourteen Canadian soldiers perform actions that were recognized with an award of the Victoria Cross.

Corporal Leo Clarke
Lietenant Milton Fowler Gregg
Lietenant Samuel Lewis Honey
Captain Bellenden Seymour Hutcheson
Private John Chipman Kerr
Lieutenant George Fraser Kerr
Sergeant Arthur George Knight
Lieutenant Graham Thomson Lyall
Captain John MacGregor
Lance Corporal William Henry Metcalf
Private Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney
Lieutenant Colonel Cyrus Wesley Peck
Private Walter Leigh Rayfield
Private John Francis Young

It is worth remembering that many servicemen who merited the Victoria Cross never received it because their actions went unnoticed, or the witnesses were killed, or whose self-sacrifice resulted in a lonely death in an unmarked grave.

By remembering these men, we pay tribute to all those who have served and sacrificed on our behalf.

November 11th shouldn't be the only day we remember.

Babble off.

A different kind of heroism from Beslan

Babble on.

Many observers believe Russia is sliding backwards toward totalitarianism. They correctly point to Putin's consolidation of power, his elimination of political opponents, his intimidation and virtual gagging of the press, and his scaling back of democracy as indicators of a Russian regression. And they're right. Freedom is taking a beating in Russia today.

But out of the ashes of School No. 1 in Beslan comes hope that Russian freedom cannot be taken away as easily as it might have once been.

In today's Globe and Mail, we learn of the efforts of a small group of volunteers who are chronicling the Beslan story at for the world to see.

And the truth they are witnessing for us does not always match the official version.

"We know what's true and what is a lie. It happened to us, and they can't lie any more about what happened here," Mr. Asayev said, while strenuously insisting he believes the government agencies are doing all they can.

The teachers working with him, he says, simply have a better handle on matters since they know firsthand who was in the school and who wasn't. "Since the first day, I didn't have any questions about what happened here. I don't need some government official to tell me. I saw it."

Ordinary Russians have felt the power of speaking the truth. And whatever setbacks occur in that unfortunate nation, Russians will not give up that power easily once again.

Babble off.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Better a silver spoon than a foot

Babble on.

Kinsella thinks gag trinkets and cartoons showing John Tory as Richie Rich are "clever."

"An engraved silver spoon. Pure genius."

Apparently John Tory thinks they're funny too. Good for him for rolling with the punches, not sweating the small stuff, letting it roll like water off a duck's back, and [any other hackneyed political cliche you want to insert here].

"I just smiled and said that's my old friend Warren Kinsella up to his tricks. He's a clever fellow and I like him very much because of that."

How very Marquis of Queensbury of the two of them. It's enough to make a grown man puke.

I think Kinsella and his minions are taking cheap shots again - and not even original cheap shots at that. I'm not saying you shouldn't be able to lampoon a political opponent - shots at Bush for stumbling over two-syllable words are fair game, because the man shows only a passing acquaintance with the english language. No, this line of attack is cheap because it implies something inherently indefensible: people born into wealthy families are unfit to hold elected office.

The National Post says it best:

If a Canadian politician tried to suggest that an opponent was unfit to govern because of his impoverished background, the gesture would be attacked coast to coast as an abhorrent attempt to foment class warfare.

And under the genteel veneer, I think John Tory understands you can't let the attack go completely unanswered:

“It's funny to me that you try and create resentment about success. I think success should be something that we should be trying to have everybody strive for in Ontario, not make people jealous of success or resentful of success,” [Tory] said. (from The Globe and Mail)

You know, if Kinsella has public-policy disagreements with any of the targets of his many attacks, he sure stays silent about them. No, he seems content to wallow in pettiness, engaging in the political equivalent of schoolyard taunts while his betters debate how we should go about the serious business of running a government.

Grow up or shut up Warren. Either will do.

Babble off.

Space Virgin

Babble on.

No, I am not referring to a new Heinlein novel. I am referring to the fact that governments will not hold a monopoly on manned space flight for much longer:

[Sir Richard] Branson announced that Virgin Group would begin offering space flights in 2007 for groups of up to five passengers. Passengers will pay up to £110,000 ($198,000) for the ride.

At least that gives me a target date to make my first million.

Babble off.

Update: Given NASA's current woes, the entry of private firms into this field looks more and more necessary.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Kim Jong-Il meets Tiger Woods, as described by Mick 'Crocodile' Dundee

Babble on.

"That's not a media bias mate...THIS is a media bias!"

(hat tip - no, hat flourish - to Canadian Content)

Babble off.

Past horrors, present lessons

Babble on.

Kate makes a powerful point in a powerful post.

Today, as we witness acts of what seems unprecedented barbarism, we must remind ourselves that others have been down this road before.

But, unlike today's helpless individuals whose names flash around the globe as they plead for mercy, their murders recorded single file -- the American and Filipino prisoners of war who suffered years of unspeakable cruelty, who died of torture, starvation, disembowling, decapitation at the hands of the Japanese, were dumped in nameless thousands in mass graves, or simply left to rot.

Yet, those who survived were witness to the transformation of that society into a peaceful, prosperous democracy in their lifetime. It must still seem miraculous to them.(inserted italics)

Read the rest of her piece - it's worth your time.

Ten years from now, I believe the transformation in Iraq will seem miraculous too. Both George Bush and Iyad Allawi tried to get that point across yesterday, amid worst-case-scenario reports that Iraq could soon descend into civil war.

"...these doubters risk underestimating our country, and they risk fuelling the hopes of the terrorists," Allawi said.
"You can understand it's tough and still be optimistic," Bush said. "You can understand how hard it is and believe we'll succeed."

These resolute men tread a similar path to Truman, McArthur, and Marshall. Bush will win another term in office, and Americans and freedom-loving Iraqis will win in Iraq. As they have so many times throughout history, tragedies will give birth to miracles again.

Babble off.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Searching in the cushions...

Babble on.

Right across the lake from me, there's a guy named Doug - and sometimes an evil twin named (or more accurately 'pseudonymed') Mondhieb - who write a blog called Loose Coins.

There's ranting, there's raving, there's fisking, there's humour. It's all there for your reading enjoyment. I would especially recommend "Note to John Kerry" for starters. Here's a sample:

Stop alienating our allies. I'm not referring to the two countries who call themselves "Europe", fancy themselves to be "the world", and pass the days dreaming of ways to engineer American embarassment and failure without having to do anything. I'm talking about the people who choose to stand alongside us, or at the very least do not choose to actively undermine us. It's not a very nuanced definition of 'ally', but it's one that works.

For decades now, the reward you've reserved for anyone showing fidelity to our country is your expectoration. Is there no one whose conduct could be so loyal or noble as to evade your scorn? Or is it such conduct which draws your deprication? What else can you imagine you're doing when you dismiss as nonexistant every ally who has helped us in Iraq, is still helping us in Iraq, when you insist that we chose to "go it alone" in Iraq? You're throwing away international goodwill as if it were medals ribbons.

Keep reading.

Babble off.

Raising Standards

Babble on.

The Red Ensign Standard has been raised at The Tiger In Winter.

I've been meaning to say this for awhile now, but I think Ben is one of the most captivating bloggers I read, because his writing is personal, not some fabricated web-persona.

BZ to the Tiger, and go follow the links. There's very good reading out there, under a Red Ensign crackling in a stiff northern wind.

Babble off.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

An excrement-ingesting grin

Babble on.

Look at Ralph Goodale.

He's smiling because he's just discovered he has the Canadian public bent even further over the barrel than even he had hoped.

Note to Ralph: It's NOT YOUR F***ING MONEY! It's not a mandate for government obesity! Take what you budgeted, and give the rest back to us, you insufferably smug weasel!

Babble off.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Test pattern

Babble on.

It's crunch time at work. I'm crawling towards the finish line of a basement renovation at home. And I'm two lessons behind in my evening course.

All of this means you get light to non-existent blogging for the next week or so.

Yeah, yeah, I hear you - "please don't throw me in the briar patch, Brer Fox!" Same to you.

Babble off.

What to get for the two-bit hack who had it all?

Babble on.

I'm trying to figure out what I should send to Dan Rather as a (hopeful) retirement gift. A towel to wipe the egg off his face, or a salt shaker for the crow he was scarfing back on the evening news last night?

On a small and petty note, none of the reports I watched last night - CBC, CTV, Global, or NBC - made any mention of the key role pajama-warriors played in breaking the story about the story. Figures.

Babble off.

Brooks Brothers, and our Uncle Mel

Babble on.

We Brooks boys stick together. OK, we don't really stick together, but it sounded good in my head. The truth is that David Brooks of the NY Times wouldn't know me from a high-end clothier (Ha! Get it? If you're scratching your head, e-mail me and I'll walk you through the joke step by painful step. Mel I'm not. Badoom boom. C'mon that was funny! Alright, alright...I'm done with the lame jokes, I promise.).

Back to my point, which is that David Brooks and I agree about John Kerry's speech yesterday. Synopsis? It was a good speech. It was a terrible position. We'll have to see how it works with voters on November 2nd.

Politically, as William Safire has pointed out (turn to item four in your text), Kerry needs to "recognize that the war is the switcher issue, and take a position [he] can stick with for at least six weeks." When Safire's admitting the Great Democratic Hope has trouble staying the course, it's time to give up the ghost.

David and I agree John-John is more likely to get elected by taking the wrong stand on Iraq than by taking no stand at all. Here are some of Brooks' better lines on the subject:

Yesterday John Kerry came to New York University and did something amazing. He uttered a series of clear, declarative sentences on the subject of Iraq. Many of these sentences directly contradict his past statements on Iraq, but at least you could figure out what he was trying to say.
Rhetorically, this was his best foreign policy speech by far (it helps to pick a side).
Substantively, of course, Kerry's speech is completely irresponsible. In the first place, there is a 99 percent chance that other nations will not contribute enough troops to significantly decrease the U.S. burden in Iraq. In that case, John Kerry has no Iraq policy. The promise to bring some troops home by summer will be exposed as a Disneyesque fantasy.

More to the point, Kerry is trying to use multilateralism as a gloss for retreat. If "the world" is going to be responsible for defeating Moktada al-Sadr and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then no one will be responsible for defeating them. The consequences for the people of Iraq and the region will be horrific.

Finally, if the whole war is a mistake, shouldn't we stop fighting tomorrow? What do you say to the last man to die for a "profound diversion"?

But that is what the next few weeks are going to be about. This country has long needed to have a straight up-or-down debate on the war. Now that Kerry has positioned himself as the antiwar candidate, it can. (Babbler's Bold)

Of course, this could all backfire on Kerry. Before, he was just an indecisive, flip-flopping liberal. Now he's a weak, dovish, doormat of an indecisive, flip-flopping liberal. It's a big gamble. But hey, if he wants to stay in the game, he has to place the bet.

Babble off.

Monday, September 20, 2004

It's security, stupid

Babble on.

Over the past couple of months, John Kerry has discovered that the undecided voters he's been trying to convert to his cause won't buy his domestic policy line until they believe his foreign policy line.

"Yeah, ok, we know the eeeevil Republicans hate gays, dump toxic waste into pristine lakes and rivers for fun, and want to turn control of every woman's uterus over to Dick Cheney. Spawn of Satan, yadayada. We get it.

But what the hell are you going to do about Al-Qaeda and Iraq?"

Well, the DNC has finally woken up to the fact that "it's security, stupid" and put JFK on the warpath. Today's speech is a good start:

In fighting the war on terrorism, my principles are straight forward. The terrorists are beyond reason. We must destroy them. As president, I will do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to defeat our enemies.


National security is a central issue in this campaign. We owe it to the American people to have a real debate about the choices President Bush has made... and the choices I would make... to fight and win the war on terror.
That means we must have a great honest national debate on Iraq. The President claims it is the centerpiece of his war on terror. In fact, Iraq was a profound diversion from that war and the battle against our greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. Invading Iraq has created a crisis of historic proportions and, if we do not change course, there is the prospect of a war with no end in sight.


In the dark days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy sent former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to Europe to build support. Acheson explained the situation to French President de Gaulle. Then he offered to show him highly classified satellite photos, as proof. De Gaulle waved the photos away, saying: "The word of the President of the United States is good enough for me."
How many world leaders have that same trust in America's president, today?


Think about it for a minute. Consider where we were... and where we are. After the events of September 11, we had an opportunity to bring our country and the world together in the struggle against the terrorists. On September 12th, headlines in newspapers abroad declared "we are all Americans now." But through his policy in Iraq, the President squandered that moment and rather than isolating the terrorists, left America isolated from the world.

Kerry's at his strongest when he attacks the Bush administration's planning, its diplomacy, and its focus, because all have been horribly flawed.

But here's the problem: Kerry's got no real plan either. Oh, he talks with considerable 'nuance' on the subject, but when it comes right down to it, the essence of his plan is as follows:

We must make Iraq the world's responsibility, because the world has a stake in the outcome and others should share the burden.

OK, good plan. What happens when the rest of the world refuses to go along with it? Because that's what they're going to do.

Don't believe me? See Darfur. It's a clear-cut humanitarian nightmare. It's in the public eye. Sudan is a breeding and hiding ground for terrorists, and it has oil. All the ingredients are here for Left and Right, Europe and America, all the colours of the frickin' rainbow to come together in an international-UN-hug-fest consensus and do something. And the vaunted 'international community' is doing precisely nothing.

So don't expect any different in the exponentially-more-complicated Iraq. The question for John-John is "what's your Plan B?" Because if he gets elected - and I'm still hoping he doesn't - that's what we'll be stuck with.

Babble off.

Where's Susan Sarandon when you need her, eh Danny-boy?

Babble on.

On Chris Matthews' show this weekend, Andrew Sullivan said "Dan Rather is a dead man walking." Matthews - one of the most annoying windbags on the planet - was left almost speechless ("Wow. We're not used to such bold predictions around here.").

To tell you the truth, it was only a matter of time before this politically-motivated sensationalist brought himself down. He's been pulling poorly-researched smear-job stunts on camera for years (via Loose Coins).

This is how Dan Rather introduced his TV audience to one of his prize victims: "At age 16, Steve was a Navy SEAL, trained to assassinate. For almost two years, he operated behind enemy lines, then he broke. He came home in a straightjacket, addicted to alcohol and drugs."
The man identified as "Steve" turned out to be one Steve Southards, and through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Burkett obtained his military records. The truth, he found, was that "Southards was not a SEAL, nor had he taken any SEAL training.... In reality, Southards was an ‘internal communications repairman,’ assigned to rear area bases and had no combat decorations. His only special training was a ‘motion picture operation course (16mm),’ at Subic Bay in the Philippines." What’s more, he had spent time in the brig for going AWOL six times. According to Burkett’s research, "Little that Southards had told Rather was true except that he had been in the Navy, and that his first name was Steve."

Back in 1988, when Rather's report first aired, there was no blogosphere to hold him to account. He could rely on the somewhat collegial atmosphere of professional journalism to refrain from embarrassing him.

Welcome to the new millenium, Danny-boy.

Dead man walking....dead man walking...

Babble off.

Friday, September 17, 2004

What's the catch?

Babble on.

Finally, the Canadian Forces seems to have caught a break:

An Ontario company has built the army a combined front-end loader and back-hoe that can roar down the highway at about 100 km/h, three times faster than its commercial counterparts, while its driver is buckled in by a four-point racing harness. In addition, the machine packs armour protection to handle a blast from up to eight kilograms of explosives. It can also double as a fork lift or crane and it's environmentally friendly since it meets the latest emissions control regulations.
"It's a kick-ass machine," says Brian French, the Defence Department's section head for military support vehicles.

Any time a procurement bureaucrat gushes like that, I get suspicious. But when you look at the vehicle's specifications, it's tough not to have a Tim Taylor moment. Arva Industries seems like Binford on 'roids. I know a few military-engineering types who probably think they're in LOVE right now.

My only concern? Value for money should be the name of the game for the courtiers at the Puzzle Palace. How much did they pay for this miracle-machine?

Babble off.

What the hell was he thinking?

Babble on.

I first read about this story at Ravishing Light, although it's all over the blogosphere now.

"They just pounced on us," said Phil Parlock, who took his 11-year-old son, Alex, and 3-year-old daughter, Sophia, to the Democratic rally at Tri-State Airport in Huntington, W.Va. Sophia became briefly famous yesterday when an Associated Press photo showing her in tears after Democrats tore her sign to pieces was posted on Matt Drudge's Web site,

Making a little girl cry is reprehensible. Period. Seeing her in tears makes me angry. I thought about my own little Boo - a valiant soul at three and a half years, but still prone to cry if his favourite-toy-in-the-whole-world-since-five-minutes-ago gets accidentally trashed.

But then I thought some more. I would never take Boo to a political rally. And it would be a cold day in Hell on the far side of never before I took him to a rally for a political opponent, carrying a sign for my candidate.

I mean, as a father, what the hell was Parlock thinking?

Unfortunately, this blog - while wrong in pretty much every other respect - seems to answer that question:

Serial Republican Victim complains for the THIRD straight presidential election of being assaulted and has his family assist.
[from the 1996 election] "It must have been a strict Democrat who did this," Parlock
said, feeling the red abrasions on his face. "Everyone with the exception of him was real peaceful about our protest."
[from the 2000 election] "I expected some people to take our signs," said Louis, 12. "But I did not expect people to practically attack us."

If I want to piss in the opposition's cornflakes, well, I'm a big enough boy that I can make decisions about what sort of situations to get into, and take the consequences if things get a little rough. My safety, my call. But to drag your toddler into that sort of a mess is just twisted.

The union thug who ripped up Sophia's sign needs a good smack in the head. But so does Sophia's pathologically partisan dad.

Babble off.

Indonesian liberty

Babble on.

Myrick's most recent post on the struggle for liberty and reform in Indonesia is worth reading.

I only woke up to the importance of Indonesia - both within the Muslim world and outside of it - a couple of years ago. We all should hope this country ends up falling on the right side of liberty and democracy. Religious extremism and totalitarian rule would be a disaster.

Babble off.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I'd Rather go to Mordor

Babble on.

"Four memos to fool them all, four memos to blind them. Four memos to bring Bush down and Rather will provide them!"

The graphic alone is worth the visit.

Babble off.

A hooligan's game played by gentlemen

Babble on.

Colby Cosh links to this post and picture of GWB playing rugby at Yale in the late 60's and mocks the lefty-wingnut who tries unsuccessfully to paint Bush as a bully for committing what may or may not have been a breach of the laws of the game.

About fifty pounds ago, I played wing three-quarter for both my high-school and university rugby teams, and I have the scars to prove it. I can state with complete confidence - as can anyone who has played more than a game of competitive rugby - that you don't obviously and intentionally break the laws in rugby in order to hurt an opponent. There are enough legal methods for destroying the other guy within the rules that stepping into penalty territory is rarely necessary (although the six-inch uppercut deep inside a maul has its uses).

Accidental penalties, on the other hand, are quite frequent, averaging 24 per game in Rugby World Cup 2003, for example. Just to give a little perspective, in the 2003 NFL season, ref's called an average of 15.63 penalties per game. (Rugby's freeflowing - which is more fun, but more chaotic and penalty-ridden than football - although football does have other, was I saying something?) In fact, here's a photo from RWC2003 that shows some of the best players in the world [raving moonbat]have obviously been taking EVIL lessons from GWB and are consequently completely unfit for public office[/raving moonbat]. Here's another...and another....and another. I mean, gimme a frickin' break.

It looks to me like Bush has overcommitted to a tackle moving to his right, and his opponent is ducking out of that tackle. Which makes Bush a bad tackler, not a bad President. Should I even need to say that?

Babble off.

You can't have it both ways, Danny-boy

Babble on.

Dan Rather is quoted in today's New York Observer (thx to Professor Penny) regarding the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy to discredit the obviously fake totally true Killian memos:

"If you can’t deny the information, then attack and seek to destroy the credibility of the messenger, the bearer of the information. And in this case, it’s change the subject from the truth of the information to the truth of the documents."
His point is that whether the actual documents are forgeries or not, the information contained in them is true. (OK, so if I can find an obviously fake totally true memo that says John Kerry was in Cambodia for Christmas 1969, 60 Minutes will put an end to that vicious pajama-warrior rumour too? Sorry, I digress...) Of course, Rather then goes on to bury his own argument:

Mr. Rather said that he and Ms. Mapes had heard about the National Guard memos as long ago as 1999.
While Mr. Rather and Ms. Mapes were able to glean the contents of the memos before they actually acquired them, and while they worked to convince the source to hand over the memos, he said they tried to verify the facts in them so they could be sure they were on the right trail.

"Within the last few months," he said, "we got a look at the documents, and we said we’d like to have a copy of the documents."

He said they met the source in a "remote location." "[The source] said they were copies of the documents, and he told us some of the history of where they came from and how they came to him," Mr. Rather said.

If Rather and Mapes heard about the story in 1999, why did they wait until 2004 to go public with it? I mean, if it's true now, it would have been equally true back then, wouldn't it? Ooooh, except that the public expects journalists to be able to back their stories up.

Which brings us back to whether forged documents can be used to back this story up. Or any story at all, for that matter.

You can't have it both ways, Danny-boy. CBS is going to stand for Caught Bull-Shitting until further notice.

Babble off.

Update: Jay Currie continues in this general direction, albeit more colourfully than I do ("...I can grab a picture of John Kerry, crudely Photoshop him having relations with a goat and run with the story...). I will take issue with his last point, however: there is no such thing as newsie heaven - none of them would qualify.

...and, uh, Mr. Lileks. I will now shut up. One does not continue listening to the Junior Stage Band when the London Symphony Orchestra is playing the same tune.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

What do you get when you cross an ostrich with a frickin' appeasemonkey?

Babble on.

I'm getting increasingly frustrated with you 'multilateralists' - or, more accurately appeasemonkeys - who continue to ignore facts and insist that all the ills of the world can be solved if only we will 'build consensus' and negotiate with tyrants and murderers.

Your Boston Globe - widely discredited by Rather more reliable sources than me - has come out of the raving, frothing, barking moonbat closet today and blamed President Bush personally for North Korean nuclear weapons. What colour is the sky on your godforsaken planet, people?

The plutonium has been removed from Yongbyon, the inspectors are gone, the reactor is up and running, the North could have eight bombs' worth of plutonium, and Washington worries that the North may be preparing to set off a nuclear test explosion.

Bush is responsible for this peril. Whoever wins in November must negotiate with the North Koreans, offering them the normalization and energy aid they need in return for placing their plutonium under seal and under inspection. To do anything else is to play into the hands of Osama bin Laden (ed. - OBL? WTF??). (my big, bad BOLD)

OK. I'm going to say this really frickin' slowly for all you smoked-too-much-dope-in-the-John-Kerry-60's types: the UN...never...does...anything. Oh, they'll talk until they're blue in the face. Or until 800,000 Rwandans are blue in the face. But any useful coalition you can name has always had a defining purpose other than simple dialogue (NATO, the Allies of WWII, OPEC, etc).

Your faith in the UN is entirely misplaced. The world's tyrants think it's a complete frickin' joke. No less a friend of the 'unilateral' Bush administration than Joseph C. Wilson tells us so.

By Wilson's account, Hussein was contemptuous of what he saw as U.S. weakness, viewing America in much the same way that Osama bin Laden did. When Wilson met Hussein on Aug. 6, 1990, just after the Iraqis had invaded Kuwait, Hussein explained his belief "that the United States was unwilling to spill the blood of 10,000 of its youth in the sands of Saudi Arabia, or the Arabian Desert. He thought that we didn't have the staying power for the sort of war that he contemplated. He was basing his view on a couple of things: one, his ability to have stalemated Iran for 10 years [in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s]; two, his understanding of our experience in Vietnam; and, three, his understanding of our experience with the Marine barracks in Beirut and the various hostages in Beirut."

The centerpiece of Hussein's strategy was based on contempt for the United Nations. Wilson explains Hussein's perspective this way: "He had basically made a bet that if he could get the Iraq-Kuwait issue thrown into the United Nations system, then he could have 20 years in Kuwait."

Wilson continues: "He envisioned some toothless U.N. resolutions. He had already been the recipient of two resolutions on his use of chemical weapons. Nobody remembers them because they had no biting sanctions to them. He anticipated that if he got the issue into the U.N. system, he could spend 20 years jockeying and negotiating, while at the same time plundering what was left of Kuwait."

The only thing that changed Hussein's calculus, explains Wilson, was when the United States moved troops into Saudi Arabia to prepare for Operation Desert Storm. "Up until that point, he had some reason to think that if he could keep this in the U.N., then he probably could win." (Babbler's Bold)

How many times are right-thinking commentators going to have to yank your puny ostrich heads out of the goddamned sand and slam them into the brick wall of reality before you get it? These people see negotiation as weakness. They understand only power. Am I getting through at all here?

Sometimes it's enough to make a man go all Ayn Rand.

Babble off.

The corollary: Michael Moore said it, so it MUST be true

Babble on.

Stephen Pollard in The Times does a fantastic job of outlining the drum-tight logic of the left:

Iran can’t be a problem. President Bush said Iran is a member of the Axis of Evil. By definition, therefore, it can’t be true.

With lines like that, one wonders how he keeps his tongue so firmly rooted to the inside of his cheek. I'd be laughing myself silly. Or retching uncontrollably.

Babble off.

Common sense isn't common

Babble on.

I wish - oh, do I WISH! - that we had some common-sense, say-it-like-you-see-it politicians public servants like Zell Miller up here in Canuckistan (hat tip to Ravishing Light).

John Kerry and his crowd derisively call American troops "occupiers" because it fits with their warped belief that America is the problem, not the solution. While more than 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq are enjoying freedom, Mr. Kerry is still fretting over whether the U.N. crowd likes us or not. The American people will not abide a commander in chief who gets squeamish over America's role as a liberating force in the world.

And my critics love to point out that I had nice things to say about John Kerry when I introduced him to a Georgia Democratic dinner in 2001. That's true and I meant it. But, again, timing is everything. I made that introduction in March 2001--six months before terrorists attacked this country on Sept. 11. As I have said time and again, 9/11 changed everything. Everything, that is, except the national Democrats' shameful, manic obsession with bringing down a commander in chief. John Kerry has been wrong many times, but he's never been more wrong than in his failure to support our troops and our commander in chief in this war on terror. (Bold by Brooks)

Unfortunately, we get the real Coalition of Idiots instead.

Babble off.

The Olympics - a nice place to visit...

Babble on.

Jay Random marks the anniversary of a large piece of the Big O crumbling to the ground. (Why? I don't know. I'm thinking he might want to get out more.)

Given the high-priced clusterforks that seem so common among Olympic venues, he asks why we Canucks should be patriotic on the Olympic front. My answer? At least we're not Greek.

Babble off.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Rules of Combat

Babble on.

Somewhere in one of my memorabelia boxes from the early 90's, there is a photocopied sheet of paper upon which are printed the Rules of Combat. Luckily for me, the internet is one big mother of a memorabelia box (although these Rules differ slightly from those in my admittedly imperfect memory: where's the pithy "A sucking chest wound is life's way of telling you to slow down"? Ah, well.)

I believe a copy of the Rules of Combat should be standard issue to any and all journalists thinking to make a name for themselves by reporting from a combat zone. I would specifically draw their attention to item number two on the internet Rules:
Incoming fire has the right of way.

Until the Western nations can build a small-arms round that turns into Key Lime pie midair before hitting a non-combatant, incoming fire has right of way. It doesn't matter if you're the most popular reporter in the entire Islamoterror world, incoming fire has right of way. Posing importantly in front of a videocamera doesn't make you bulletproof, incoming fire has right of way.

Oh, and by the way, standing next to a burned-out Bradley, surrounded by people celebrating its destruction while being borne down upon by Apache attack choppers may well be a career-limiting move.

"This is Mazen al-Tumeizi, reporting for Al-Arabiya from the inside of a small pine box."

Babble off.

'Choke' is not a four-letter word

Babble on.

Mike Weir is not a choke-artist. He's won plenty of times before, including the friggin' Masters for gawds-sake.

But yesterday at the Canadian Open, he choked.

I'm not one of those people who think every loss is a choke. If Weir and Singh had been tied all day, trading lawn-dart shots to the greens and draining 30-footers for eagles until the end, I would have said both played well, but Singh played better.

But when Weirsy blows a three-stroke advantage on the final day of competition, when he misses putt after putt in crunch-time - including a five-footer for the win on the second playoff hole - it's awfully tough not to ask if there was a little constriction in the throat as the day wore on. A small blockage of the airway that required him to take his hands off the clubs and hold them to his neck. An inability to expand his chest cavity and inhale under the crushing pressure of a nation's expectations.

Don't get me wrong: Mike's still da man. He just needs to make sure his caddie knows the Heimlich manoevre for next time.

Babble off.

Just because there are two sides to the argument doesn't mean both sides are right

Babble on.

Here's the black and white of Canada's maritime helicopter fiasco: the Sea Kings are way, way past their best-by date, the procurement process for a replacement has been shamefully politicized for at least the past ten years, a new helicopter has at long last been chosen, and this choice has spawned a highly predictable lawsuit.

The rest of the story falls somewhere in the gray, albeit in the dark grey. Put another way, there's enough smoke out there that you're going to have a tough time convincing me there's no fire causing it all. But I'll give you as 'balanced' a perspective as I can, and let you decide.

Media types in Canada have charged that the entire process was redesigned to avoid the political embarrassment that would inevitably be attached to a purchase ten years later of the same helicopter the Liberals cancelled in 1993. It's an easy argument to make. But we already bought the Cormorant as a replacement for the Labradors which have given our search and rescue operations yeoman's service in past years.

Of course, reporters understand politics much better than military procurement and technical specifications, so this angle plays right to their natural bias. And just because the Sikorsky is the most politically expedient option doesn't mean it's not the best option for our beleaguered armed forces.

In fact, some within the military community (sorry, personal conversations, no links) have said that 'dumbing-down' the technical requirements for the new chopper was the right decision given budgetary considerations and operational realities. If you're a secretary making $35K a year, you don't buy a Hummer to take you back and forth to work, you buy a Jimmy. Sure, the Hummer's the better vehicle, but when you look at what else you could spend that money on, it's not the best value. This is a valid line of argument, but other experts in the field say it doesn't apply here.

There has been speculation that the Augusta-Westland people gave up on the bidding process awhile ago - having seen the writing on Chretien's wall - and only continued to participate minimally in the process in order to bolster their case in an eventual lawsuit against the government. Perhaps this explains their disqualification from a procedure they had already aced in previous competitions. But it's too bad they bailed out early - in substance, if not technically - because it makes them look petty and gives their detractors ammunition to use against them.

As you might have already guessed, I can see both sides of the argument. But in this case, all the otherwise-reasonable points made by NDHQ and their political masters just don't pass the smell-test. If this government had truly been serious about finding a non-'Cadillac' replacement for the Sea Kings, it would have done so years ago. No, I believe they've screwed the Canadian military, they've screwed Augusta-Westland, and they've screwed the Canadian taxpayer.

I just wish I had Augusta-Westland's legal recourse, and could sue Chretien, Martin, and the whole sleazy Liberal crowd into bankruptcy for wasting my tax dollars while squandering Canada's proud military legacy.

Babble off.

Another torch passed

Babble on.

People like Leonard Birchall are exceedingly rare. The dead demand little from the living beyond simple remembrance. Take a moment and read about this most remarkable man.

Babble off.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Attitudes in Iraq

Babble on.

To those of you who still don't read Belmont Club, I offer a cyber-slap to the head. Go to Belmont Club. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. Wretchard's writing is essential reading.

As usual, his analysis of yesterday's Center for Strategic and International Studies report on Iraqi perceptions and attitudes is well thought-out and tightly written. Because he already attempts a precis of the report, and because each of his words is so meticulously chosen, I won't thrash about searching for ways to summarize his summary, but will instead recommend you read his piece in full. I will, however, hone in on a couple of interrelated points regarding the personal safety of Iraqis that I find interesting.

I believe this report supports the assertion that the tenuous day-to-day physical security situation for ordinary Iraqis is the single biggest limiting factor to any other progress. From the source report:

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the data collected on the insurgency is its constancy. U.S. government and military sources tend to focus on how many Iraqi insurgents have been killed by U.S. forces, estimates of numbers of insurgents, or numbers of attacks on U.S. forces. This input driven data almost seems to exist in a vacuum, unrelated to the persistence of the insurgency and its continued effect on daily life in Iraq, in particular on the high numbers of Iraqi civilians who have been killed in its wake. Senior U.S. officials continue to estimate the number of insurgents at around 5,000, although these are far off from the 15,000-35,000 totals quoted by Iraqi and U.S. intelligence officials. It is still unknown exactly how much of the insurgency represents terrorists who have flooded across Iraq’s open borders, and how directly those terrorists are working with the Iraqi insurgency.

Although in the immediate aftermath of the war, the insurgency focused on attacking U.S. forces and Iraqi infrastructure, massive bombing attacks that have disproportionately impacted Iraqi civilians began late last summer and have continued since then. The insurgency’s focus also shifted early on to targeting Iraqis seen as collaborating with the U.S.-led occupying authority, including Iraqi police officers and government officials. Those attacks have continued since the transfer of power, and the insurgency now seems to be aimed at anyone, Iraqi or foreigner, who is linked to Iraq’s interim government or efforts to support that government. (Bold by Babbler)

If the U.S. and her allies are seen to be delivering on their promises to improve the lot of the average Iraqi citizen, any support for the insurgency will dry up immediately. This conclusion is supported by the fact that Iraqis "have reacted positively to the heightened presence of Iraqi police officers and the ICDC, optimistic that they will ultimately gain the upper hand in dealing with crime and the public safety situation generally." This is simply common sense: no reasonable individual chooses to live in an unsafe environment.

But by attacking Iraqis who support rebuilding efforts, the domestic terrorists sabotage the foundation of any new civil society. There can be no economic progress without workers willing to leave their house to go to work, or without customers willing to leave their house to buy goods and services. There can be no political discourse when potential leaders are intimidated into remaining silent, or are murdered upon gaining office. The physical safety of the population is the key to all other issues in Iraq.

Wretchard concludes his piece with the following sage, but uncharacteristically incomplete observation:

One of the principal conclusions of the CSIS report, with which I wholeheartedly agree, is the pivotal role that Iraqi institutions themselves must play in reaching the "tipping zone". It is not American boots on the ground that constitute the long-term critical resource, but Iraqi ones.
True, but isn't the obvious next question whether Iraqis are currently equipped to create and operate those institutions? If you throw a non-swimmer into the deep end of the pool, you're more likely to end up with a body floating face down than you are to end up with Ian Thorpe. The implication that Iraqis should take responsibility for their own safety and security, for their own government at every level from national to municipal, for all of the infrastructure upon which the flesh of a modern nation is draped - yesterday if not sooner - assumes they are capable of accepting that responsibility right now.

I don't believe they are capable at this point. So while the "long-term critical resource" is undoubtedly Iraqi boots on the ground as Wretchard asserts, the critical intermediate step to achieving genuine Iraqi institutions must involve American and British personnel - and anyone else who has expertise building the instruments of a modern civil society.

In short, while Iraq is certainly not a (gag, shudder) quagmire, it is far more complicated a problem than the Bush administration anticipated. Once again, Belmont Club says it best:

If anyone is hoping Iraq will become an infamous, unmitigated catastrophe, don't hold your breath. This report does not predict it. If anyone is hoping that America will be able to leave Iraq in a couple of years to the tune of brass bands marching over a carpet of strewn flowers, don't hold your breath either.

Babble off.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

I've been wrong before...

Babble on.

I think Hugo Chavez is an atrocious choice for President of Venezuela. But until recently, I have been willing to concede that he was the atrocious choice of the majority of Venezuelans, and so a legitimate national leader.

As it turns out, I may have been wrong. Read the rest of what my Autonomous Source has to say about Venezuela.

Babble off.

Drill for Bloggers

Babble on.

The Red Ensign has been raised.

To the front....SALUTE! (Clack...Clack...CLACK!)

Babble off.

With 'conservatives' like this, who needs 'liberals'?

Babble on.

What a surprise I had this morning during my daily commute into the Centre of the Known Universe. Pat Buchanan - yes, THAT Pat Buchanan - was being interviewed on a local AM station by John Oakley of all people. For those of you who live on the fringes of civilization and consequently aren't aware of Oakley, he's a lefty controversialist with radio pipes. But man, was he ever licking Buchanan' Why? Because Buchanan has a new book out called "Where the Right Went Wrong" that excoriates GWB and the neo-cons who have supposedly hijacked American foreign policy in favour of (yaaaawwn!) Israel. 'American Likudniks' is the exact phrase Pat used. Given Oakley's declared antipathy towards the Bush administration, the interview obviously fell under the heading of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend.'

In the interview, Buchanan managed to conceal the fact that he's a rabid dog even the so-called 'Religious Right' wants put down for the common good. With the beachball questions tossed out by his fawning interviewer, Pat was able to make some reasonable-sounding attacks on the Bush administration. (I'm going to paraphrase from pre-Timmy's-double-double memory a radio conversation that occurred hours ago, so don't shoot me if it turns out I've misplaced a comma or written 'idiot' when Buchanan actually said 'moron.') This particular statement is typical:

"Al-Qaeda doesn't hate 'our way of life', or 'who we are', they hate our policies. I mean, can you imagine bin Laden sitting around in a cave in Afghanistan, picking up a copy of the Bill of Rights and going bananas?"

Sounds good, doesn't it? Except that American foreign-policy is an extension of 'who they are', although admittedly an imperfect one. Buchanan thinks 'true conservatives' would leave other countries alone. That's not 'conservatism', it's 'isolationism.' And isolationism isn't in the long-term best interests of anyone in the West, especially the U.S. We all benefit from the spread of democratic liberty, of free-market economies, of human rights around the world - politically and economically. Because America understands retreating into a shell like a scared turtle will limit opportunity for its citizens, and because no-one else is willing to stand out front, the U.S. takes the lead and takes the vicious, small-minded, envious resentment that goes with it.

Do the Americans make mistakes? Absolutely - and too many to list here. Does that mean they should abdicate leadership of the free world? Absolutely not. I'd prefer American leadership - warts and all - to any practical alternative I can think of.

Every time the U.S. has tried to hide behind its ocean borders, threats to liberty have advanced, not retreated. Buchanan's statist, calcified views are completely out of touch with today's reality. They would be downright dangerous if anyone was inclined to listen to him. Fortunately, not many are.

Babble off.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The Blame Game - where everyone comes out a loser

Babble on.

The horrors let loose in School No. 1 in Beslan this past week make any sort of rational analysis of the broader Chechen problem difficult for me. The Last Amazon's thoughts on the overwhelming, debilitating fear and revulsion brought on by this profound tragedy echo my own. Internal emotional firewalls keep me from imagining on more than the most superficial level the pain of those who lost loved-ones to these despicable terrorists. The closest I can come is to allow myself to feel the aching, throbbing grief and fear of the Russian populace.

It is at times like these that I wonder if the moniker 'ambulance-chaser' would be better applied to journalists than to lawyers. For the pundits have already shelved whatever grief their barren, desolate souls permitted and have begun to apportion blame.

Predictably, Chechen separatists such as Ahmed Zakaev have equated the Beslan tragedy with Russian atrocities in the region. From the beginning and the end of his recent article in The Guardian:

The bloody denouement to the Beslan tragedy was barbaric: no other word will suffice.
Our aim is to strive for a peaceful resolution to an end to the barbaric injustice that is being dealt out to the Chechens by Russia's government.

Many in the West agree with him, and blame Vladimir Putin, the face and the will of Russian policy in Chechnya. Putin, predictably, will have none of it:

"Why don't you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks, ask him what he wants and give it to him so he leaves you in peace? You find it possible to set some limitations in your dealings with these bastards, so why should we talk to people who are child-killers?"

All the barking, rabid moonbats of the world have also come out of the woodwork. Those who would defend Putin have an unlikely ally: John Laughland of The Guardian, who seems to think Chechen terror is sponsored by U.S. neo-cons. And Omar Bakri Mohammed, an Islamic cleric in Britain, who actually supports hostage-taking at British schools. Please tell me this man can be silenced - a call to Hereford might yield favourable results.

The most balanced and reasonable writing I've seen so far in the mainstream press is this piece by Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post. The Chechen people have a right to self-determination. Chechen terrorists like the scum who brutalized and murdered little children in Beslan have only the right to be dispatched from the land of the living by whatever means are at hand (fifty-calibre bullets, dispensed judiciously from an accurate rifle, seem particularly well-suited to this task). It does not take a graduate degree in international politics to see that these two points are not mutually contradictory.

As far as seeking where to place blame for the massacre, I part ways with the telegenic talking heads on the news shows, the no-responsibility pontificators populating the newspaper editorial boards, and the bien-pensants who see 'nuance' in every wave across a sea of moral relativism.

In the final analysis, I blame the individual who pulls the trigger and shoots a naked, terrified, fleeing child in the back.

Babble off.

Yet another wake-up call

Babble on.

Today's Tiger is...I was about to say 'dead on'...exactly correct. Unfortunately, I don't believe I'm being overly cynical when I say the vast majority of Canadians don't want to answer any of the questions posed. The world is indeed a scary place, and a head-sized hole in the sand is much more comfortable - at least for our head. Our collective ass is still hanging out there. One of these days, some of the scary people are going to kick it hard. What will we do then?

Babble off.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Thomas Walkom is a twit.

Babble on.

Thomas Walkom doesn't like George W. Bush. He doesn't understand why Americans are even considering re-electing the dolt, and he feels compelled to share his confusion with us, for pay, in today's Pravda Canada:

The Iraq war has been a desperate flop. Forget the talk about bringing democracy to the area; that was never the real reason for the U.S. invasion. Vice-President Dick Cheney underscored this point at the Republican convention last week when he explained the war solely in terms of dealing with potential security threats.

Walkom, like so many of his ideological bretheren, refuses to admit that a lack of liberal democracy in the Middle East is in itself a security threat to the United States - and to the rest of the free world, as Spain, France, and Italy have discovered to their horror. Let's all bury our heads in the sand and hope helplessly that Canada isn't next.

Saddam may have been a nasty bit of business.

Really? Walkom has finally figured that out? Oh, my mistake: Saddam may have been a sociopathic tyrant. Apparently the jury is still out. And our Star columnist is only admitting the possibility exists because it's tough to cover an elephant with a fig leaf.

Moving on to Afghanistan, Walkom makes the following statement of fact:

...Osama bin Laden, is alive.

I'd love to know how Walkom knows this. Has he interviewed the man? Or is he just hoping his monthly jihad support cheques are actually reaching their intended recipient?

But saves his pitiful 'best' for last with this astonishingly self-centred line:

Bush may seem an idiot to outsiders. But he provides clear (if wrong) answers to difficult questions. In a dark way, he offers hope. As Canadians, particularly Ontarians, should know from their own experience, this counts.

In case those of you who reside outside the centre of the known universe missed his point: Bush is just Mike Harris with a Texan accent and more military firepower.

Maybe 'twit' isn't the four-letter word I was looking for after all.

Babble off.

"The international community will not stand by..."

Babble on.

Am I the only one who's curious to find out what exactly the Globe is advocating? I mean, what if the UNSC sticks to form, and proves unwilling to condemn Iranian perfidity regarding their not-so-hidden weapons programme? Should another Coalition of the Willing "unilaterally" target Iran's nuclear infrastructure for military action? Should Canada participate in a "unilateral" Bush-doctrine hammer-blow on a Muslim nation?

Even if the UNSC manages to pull its thumb out in short order, what action should it take? A UN-approved military action? Should the world spank the Iranians with sanctions? How would those sanctions be enforced, and by whom? Would we exhume the Food for Palaces monster so as not to "punish the Iranian people?"

With flaccid pronouncements such as this, I suspect the editors at the Globe and Mail are like the British bobby who, with dubious effect, yells at today's armed criminal "Stop! or I'll say Stop! again."

Babble off.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Baptisms, beers, and buddies

Babble on.

I have just returned from a most enjoyable weekend in our nation's capital. I'm proud to say Litlbit and I are now proud godparents to a beautiful and precocious little girl, the daughter of my closest friend. So falls another urban-Canadian myth: it is possible to conduct a Christian religious ceremony from within the seventh circle of hell.

Catching up with some of my old friends was absolutely wonderful. We talked politics. We talked careers. We talked family. We talked old times. We sat around in the dark in my friend's back yard, smoking cigars and drinking whiskey until the wee hours of the morning.

It's been fifteen years since we first met, and it feels like fifteen days since we last razzed each other over a cheap beer at Bill and Alfie's. It doesn't get any better than that. There is indeed something to be said for shared trauma.

Babble off.

Friday, September 03, 2004


Babble on.

The Russians stormed the school grounds. I've been thinking about this for a couple of days now, and I can't see that there was any alternative. Given recent Russian history in hostage situations, I certainly wasn't surprised. But, my God, what a decision to make.

At least one hundred people are dead, according to a BBC journalist. Many more injured and traumatized. Most of them children.

Second Samuel XVIII 33
And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom! my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!

Babble off.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Beyond the sneering

Babble on.

Jonathan Power of the International Herald-Tribune has some exceedingly good advice for Europe:
...Europe should be able to do far more than it is presently doing in crisis situations, whether the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, conflict in Sudan or Iran's march toward nuclear weapons. Europe is in danger of becoming a professional critic of America for overreaching itself while husbanding its own power and wealth and reaching for very little. Europe has to create as well as criticize. It doesn't need America's guns. But it could do well to emulate its will. It needs to raise its sights beyond its obsession with America's faults and get on with extending its zone of peace and prosperity far and wide. Maybe then it can dare to call itself a superpower. (my hearty emphasis)

Do more, criticize less. Given the rampant and vitriolic anti-Americanism on the Continent, one wonders whether Europe can bring itself to act on such a level-headed proposition.

Babble off.

Of all the things to get riled up about...

Babble on.

If I don't agree with Paul Wells, I can normally at least see where he's coming from. Today is the exception that proves the rule.

Two French journalists are in peril of their lives at the hands of thugs in Iraq. Ah-ha, says the Globe's man: a chance to teach the surrender monkeys some hard truths about life in the modern world. "France has been astonished to learn that it is in the same position as so many others," the editorialist writes.

It is always a bit pathetic when people who discovered terrorism on Sept. 11, 2001 think they're ahead of everyone else. Memo to the Globe: Islamic fundamentalists have been perpetrating murderous attacks against French citizens and on French soil for decades. France has resisted through a far more sophisticated and, in some cases, brutal use of its police, intelligence services, courts and legislatures than anything the Globe and Mail would have tolerated on Sept. 10.

True, all of it. Especially the part about September 10th squeamishness regarding French 'special ops' against North African targets.

But what's Wells' point? I mean, with all their experience fighting Islamoterror, you'd have thought the French would have expected their position on Iraq would score them absolutely zero points with the fanatic Islamic kidnapping-thug set. And yet, beyond the Globe, we have the BBC and Reuters reporting surprise in France over this incident. Certainly the average Frenchman isn't alone in trying to connect his country's foreign policies with the kidnapping: Hamas and Arafat have also requested the journalists' release due to French support for the Palestinian cause, and their "positive stand" on Iraq (hat tip to Belmont Club).

Just because the Globe and Post are being intolerably sanctimonious about France's misfortune doesn't mean the French weren't deluding themselves to think their support for Hussein and Arafat made them bulletproof in the region.

Oh, and one more thing: most of us prefer the term appeasemonkey, Paul. Surrender monkey is so yesterday.

Babble off.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Turkey leading the way?

Babble on.

A discussion of political and economic reform in Turkey would be more suited to a full-length magazine article than a short column - or a blog. Unfortunately, Marcus Gee only gets a column, and you and I only get my babbling.

There's no doubt Turkey should eventually be admitted to the EU. Recep Erdogan isn't the saint Gee makes him out to be, and the fiercely secular Turkish military isn't the oppressive devil, but given Turkey's progress in the past few years, that's quibbling. Overall I agree with the columnist's view that Turkey is moving in the right direction, and in the long run, that promises to be good for Europe, for Turkey, and for the West. Whether it is also good for Islam depends upon what version of Islam you'd like to see in the world.

Allowing a Muslim country into predominantly Christian Europe, [Erdogan] argues, would send a message to the whole Islamic world. "Then they will see that the clash of civilizations is not a reality, but harmony of civilizations is a possibility," he said this spring. "This is an opportunity the EU shouldn't miss."
I don't know that I agree with him on that point - I tend to think Turkey's leadership will be painted in the Islamic world as traitors to the Judaeo-Christian oppressors, as the Wahhabist House of Saud has recently been - but I'm glad he's saying it. Somebody on the Islamic side of the divide has to maintain hope for reform. And it's not just an opportunity the EU shouldn't miss, it's an opportunity peaceful Muslims shouldn't miss. (The pessimist in me keeps yelling the famous line about the Palestinians: they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. I think the Turks are smarter than that.)

The one place where I think Gee and a number of other commentators fall down is in their single-minded focus on democracy in a predominantly Islamic country.

But if Mr. Erdogan succeeds in showing that democracy and Islam can coexist, he will have struck a harder blow against Islamic extremism than any mere war could.

I'm a great believer in democracy, but it's not a magic bullet. And it doesn't exist in a vacuum. Democracy cannot survive without freedom and prosperity. EU membership criteria wisely recognizes this:

Membership criteria require that the candidate country must have achieved:
  • stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human
    rights and respect for and protection of minorities;

  • the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to
    cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union;

  • the ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to
    the aims of political, economic & monetary union.

If Erdogan wants EU membership for Turkey - and it's obvious he understands that would be in Turkey's best interest - then he is forced to implement reforms in law, in politics, and in the economy. By tying the three together, the EU almost guarantees a successful transition.

So the real question is not whether democracy can coexist with Islam, for with economic and legal reforms, it most certainly can. The question is will militant Islamists allow Turkey to lead the way?

Babble off.

Two hundred children in a gym

Babble on.

Two hundred scared, innocent children in a gym, not knowing why they can't go home, waiting to see if some psycho ends their life. Two hundred sets of terrified, frantic parents trying to stay sane while their little ones huddle together under threat of death.

I'm a parent. My kids are three and a half and eight months. I can't even type this without crying, without seething in helpless, frustrated anger.

Islamoterror must be defeated. It must.

Babble off.