Saturday, July 30, 2005

There's such a thing as ethics, over which you ride rough-shod

NRO's The Corner notices something that's been annoying me for some time: Randy Cohen, "The Ethicist" (read: Dear Abby, with an inflated sense of self-importance) of the New York Times Magazine, frequently offers advice not so much ethical as much as satisfying to a particular Upper West Side brand of liberalism. Perhaps only a parochial Catholic (but not a "devout" one?) would see a married woman having sex with a married man who is not her husband as mere "dicey territory," as the NYTimes Mag's "The Ethicist" views it--but...yeah...I don't think so. Is there no one at the NYTimes who looks and says: Hey, wait a second--most Americans don't actually agree with what this guy is saying. Most people actually believe in right and wrong. Coincidentally, I wrote to him on the subject of another rather questionable column a few weeks ago, and received a mildly dismissive brush-off response. Original column and Cohen's reply in italics, below, interspersed with my comments:
I have always believed that an elected official's private life is not a part of the public record. Before and after the Mayor Jim West episode, I have heard colleagues discuss outing legislators who oppose gay rights but are rumored to be gay. What are the ethics in this case? State Senator Ken Jacobsen, Seattle Your colleagues may ethically out an official only if that official's being gay is germane to his policy-making. A person who seeks elected office, voluntarily entering the public arena, does surrender some claims to privacy. (Financial disclosure comes to mind.) Some, but not all. An official's private life should remain private unless he or she makes it relevant to a public position freely taken. A cross-dressing secretary of agriculture who voiced no opinion on the sexual high jinks of soybeans -- do legumes engage in high jinks? -- would not meet this standard; a gay state senator who opposed gay civil rights would. Similarly, the assault weapons stockpiled by a gun-control advocate would be pertinent; his nude trout-fishing would not be. Identifying when this ambiguous standard has been met is admittedly difficult. Is a single vote on a single bill enough? My guideline is this: the more aggressively, the more centrally, an official participates in a policy struggle, the more reasonable it is to out him. A counterargument could be made in defense of hypocrisy, or at least for its irrelevance: a policy should stand on its merits, not on its advocates' behavior. That may be so in the dispassionate discourse of academe (at least idealized academe), but in the hurly-burly of political life, the human factor is meaningful and often invoked by politicians themselves -- their military service, their religious observance. Neither of these positions permits the spreading of rumors; the obligation to be truthful remains. And it should be noted that Spokane's mayor, James E. West, is in hot water over accusations of favoritism and of having molested two boys (which he denies), not for being gay per se (which is, of course, not remotely discreditable). One last thought. My outing protocol would also apply when an official unhypocritically supports a policy. It would be worth mentioning if a senator who champions, say, tax breaks for cattle ranchers is himself a rancher (or a cow). Self-interest is noteworthy in public debate. But it is hypocrisy that more often inspires the urge to out; it is denying others the right to do what we ourselves do that provokes disdain. I think your take on outing rumoured-to-be-closeted officials is misguided, if not actively malicious. It presumes too much, too vaguely. Let's take that example of a gay state senator nebulously "[opposing] gay civil rights" - what does that mean? Is it presumed to be prima facie hypocritical for that closeted state senator to sincerely be opposed to the notion of, for instance, same-sex marriage, on philosophical or legal grounds? If our hypothetical senator were endorsing institutional mistreatment - opposing decriminalization of "unnatural acts" in a district where such laws are still on the books, or actively supporting re-criminalization of homosexuality where such laws have been struck down - then hypocrisy would be clearly evident. Anything short of that, however, is enough of a grey area to merit caution for those who imagine themselves ethical. Indeed, your position seems unclear on whose private lives should get a pass on the basis of irrelevance. Say that closeted state senator strenuously avoided taking a public position at all on gay issues, but quietly voted in a way that you imagine to be hypocritical in a less than dramatic (as above) way, voting against something as dull as civil partnership benefits or other such non-glamourous (if important) legalisms? What if he has, in his mind, a perfectly good reason for voting in that way, such as the wishes of his constituents? What you recommend seems to be nothing less than the mob-based enforcement of identity politics via blackmail, even on the unwilling: vote for the interests of the most activist members of the gay community, and you can stay in the closet, but vote against them, and your private life is fair game. Moreover, what happens if we extend the metaphor? Consider a (straight) senator elected on a reputation of social conservatism and traditional morality. That you may have it on good authority he enjoys - with his wife, in the privacy of his own home - the most elaborate sexual fetishes is irrelevant; it's still his private life, and not yours to judge, unless he, as above, very specifically and vocally argues against the legality or propriety of his particular kink. Not actively endorsing in public whatever such private behaviour may entail is altogether different from arguing against it, which is, I suspect, the point from which your muddled ethical advice stems. Finally, you seem not to have considered the ethical implications of the outers' behaviour. What if it's blatantly self-serving to publicize that closeted senator's sexual identity - say, if he's a Republican from a conservative district, and the outers are Democrats salivating at the thought of repelling some of his core supporters? Not only would outing him in that premise be unethical, seeking to play on perceived bigotry of his constituents, but can backfire; remember the vice-presidential debates, and John Edwards' bizarrely introducing Dick Cheney's daughter, "who is a lesbian," into the argument? That came off as a supremely cynical attempt to pander to the imagined biases of Republican voters, and seems not to have worked very well. (Caveat: I realize Mary Cheney's life is and was no secret, merely not very well publicized. Same principle.) As long as a politician's sex life is not predicated on illegal or abusive acts, or on abuses of his office, it's no business of yours or anyone else - least of all his rivals, or the public at large. The comparison to financial disclosure is, frankly, ludicrous; voters have a right to know if a candidate happens to be in the back pocket of a particular industry or interest group. There is no right to know exactly, in private and as a consenting adult, with whom the candidate shares a bed. To pretend otherwise is to assume supreme arrogance, and more than a bit of repellent self-righteousness. Thanks for the interesting note (only a litle longer than the column to which it replies). Let me just say this: I think it was not only permissable but admirable that the spokesman for Sen. Rick Santorum was recently outed. And if you can't enjoy the irony of Sen. Santorum bloviating about how inappropriate it is to mention someone's private life, after he built a career out of legislating restrictions on just that, then I feel just terrible for you. I could enjoy the irony if it was some embarrassing indiscretion of Santorum himself that had been revealed, and one which he's specifically made a reputation of misguidedly crusading against. But a staffer? A communications director without an evident hand in policy? And one, reports indicate, whose sexual identity was well known to the senator and his office? While I disagree with the socially conservative Christian belief of "hate the sin, love the sinner," that seems to be Santorum's attitude, and it's not one terribly ripe for mocking - nor does it contradict any of his political positions, seen through that prism. Presumably Traynham has reasons for continuing to serve in the position he does that are logical to him, and Santorum logical reasons for continuing to employ him, as well as endorse the policy objectives he does; to assume hypocrisy on the part of either is rather shallow. Now, hypothetically catching Santorum in bed with Traynham, that would more convincingly validate your position. Insist on the public right to invade the privacy of the man whose name is actually on the ballot, if you must. But to take joy in engaging in those sorts of tactics with staffers, justified with the premise that most anything is fair to "get" political opponents whom you have decided to be hypocritical...well, I think, likewise, I feel sorry for you.
Endorsing invading the privacy of political rivals, equivocating on extramarital affairs...for the Times, it seems, ethics are just the continuation of politics by other means.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Words of contempt

Gah. It's too soon to celebrate over the Blank Media Levy being effectively declawed, according to U of O copyright law professor Michael Geist: Of all the reactions to today's SCC decision to skip the appeal of the private copying decision, I thought the Canadian Recording Industry Association's was the most remarkable. I’ve obviously commented regularly on its high risk strategy of suing individual file sharers. I think this is a bad strategy for many reasons. Suing your customers (and we should be clear, file sharers are the industry’s best customers) is never a good idea. Further, the immense energy devoted to fighting file sharing, despite ample evidence that any industry woes have little do with the practice, is wasted time that could be spent actually responding to the market. Today's response represents an even higher risk strategy. CRIA is now going to war not only with its customers, but now also with its artists. There have been several indications of this in the past year, namely CRIA's opposition to artists on ringtone compensation and on satellite radio. [...] Further, today's decision represents a serious blow to the iPod, which has been an incredible boon to the music industry. Simply put, copying store bought CDs onto iPods, as CRIA’s own Graham Henderson has supported, may now be unlawful in Canada since it is difficult to find an exception within the Copyright Act that would permit that form of copying. While perhaps some in the industry may think this is a good thing as it transitions users to re-purchase the same music yet again as MP3 files from services such as iTunes, I think it will ultimately lower the value that consumers associate with music to the detriment of everyone in the industry. I can't believe any of the parties involved here - music labels, either industry association (CRIA or CPCC), or artists - would be so disdainful of customers as to bring a challenge to the premise of ripping store-bought CDs for the purpose of playing on an iPod. But, then, I couldn't believe that they'd be so disdainful of customers as to demand extortionate blanket levies on blank media, regardless of such media's many non-copyright-infringing uses. The beatings will continue until morale improves, and all that... (Via BoingBoing.)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Whistle a happy tune

Burn, hated Blank Media Levy. Burn. TORONTO (CP) - The fight over a levy on IPods and other digital music devices ended Thursday when the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear any further arguments on the matter. That means there will be no levy applied to digital audio recorders such as Apple's popular IPod and IPod Shuffle as well as other MP3 players like IRiver. "Obviously we're disappointed. We felt it was self-evident that those products are sold for the purpose of copying music," said David Basskin, of the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC), the non-profit agency which collects tariffs on behalf of musicians and record companies. The group had wanted the high court to overturn last year's Federal Court of Appeal decision which quashed the levy on the popular gadgets. The non-profit agency had been collecting the tariff - $2 for non-removable memory capacity of up to one GB, $15 for one to 10 GBs, $25 for more than 10 GB - since December 2003 through a tax built into the price of the devices. It stopped in December 2004 when the Federal Court overturned the policy at the urging of retailers and manufacturers such as Future Shop, Apple Canada and Dell Computer Corporation of Canada. Now, there's that. There's also the fact that DVD-Rs aren't covered under the levy, while prices have been falling dramatically, to the point where blank DVDs often offer a better capacity-for-value solution than CDs, especially for volume data backup. The levy, then, now only covers blank CDs, MiniDiscs, Digital Audio Tapes, analog audiocassettes, and other more-or-less dead-end or niche technologies - and has probably served in no small way to spur the rapid adoption of products not so doubly taxed. Brilliant job, CPCC!

And never see eye-to-eye

Unsurprising: With terrorism and talk of beefed-up security dominating the news, it may come as a surprise Ottawa spends up to $2 million a year on electronic security devices -- yet most cameras at city buildings are never monitored. I can deal with the justification that round-the-clock monitoring of the city's existing security infrastructure would be prohibitively expensive for comparatively little benefit, but I'm liking this explanation a lot less: It's not that uncommon for security cameras generally to be left unmonitored, according to Martin Rudner, director of the Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies at Carleton University. Even if staff were watching the cameras all day, it may not make much difference, and could increase fear and anxiety among citizens. "I think we want to have a society which is not driven by fear," Mr. Rudner said. "It increases the terrorism in society. It gives them what they want." So are the cameras meant as a deterrent or not, then? We've seen, in the July 7 bombings, that terrorists aren't deterred by the threat of being caught on camera; giant panopticon that London is, it didn't seem to bother them. If the cameras are installed and recording, regardless, how would it "increase fear and anxiety" to actually be paying attention to what they might be catching on screen? You can't have the deterrence argument both ways.

You got your tricks, good for you; but there's no gambit I don't see through

Even though it is Carolyn Parrish, a champion of idiotic bluster if ever there was one, I'm having a hard time believing anyone could be this mind-bogglingly obtuse. Independent MP Carolyn Parrish lashed out again at the Liberal government yesterday-- this time criticizing Defence Minister Bill Graham for sending combat troops to Afghanistan and Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan for making "taunting" remarks about Canadians being potential terrorist targets. Ms. Parrish is furious that Canadians and their politicians have not been consulted about what she calls the new role Canadian soldiers are being asked to carry out in Afghanistan, a role that includes killing, which is not the traditional job of peacekeeping. She warns there will be outrage when Canadians in uniform return home "in body bags." Ms. Parrish, who was booted out of the Liberal caucus last year after she criticized the government of U.S. President George W. Bush as "bastards" and "idiots," also said she is interested in returning to the Liberal fold, but only if she receives a personal invitation from the prime minister that has no strings attached. Meanwhile, the opinionated MP spoke harshly about Canada's new role in Afghanistan. "We're sending in armed troops to kill people (in Afghanistan). This is a drastic change in direction. I don't think anybody has consulted with the Canadian public. The first time Canadian soldiers come back in body bags, you just wait for the outcry," said Ms. Parrish, who was elected as a Liberal in 1993 but has been sitting in the backbenches as an independent MP since last year. "If this thing gets any deeper in (Afghanistan) and we get a couple of dead Canadians back, I'll vote to bring the government down the first opportunity I got." Perhaps the member for Mississauga-Erindale didn't receive the memo, but direction of the Canadian military is not performed on the basis of popular referenda. (If it was, who knows where we'd have troops committed at the moment?) I'm also wondering what she thought Canadian forces have been doing in Afghanistan for the past several years, because it certainly hasn't been peacekeeping in the 'hide in camp and let genocide happen outside the gates' mould. (Also, if "the first time Canadian soldiers come back in body bags" is her litmus test for voting against the government, why didn't Parrish leave caucus over the friendly-fire incident?) No, there's no way even she could be so incredibly stupid, not unless recently suffering some kind of heretofore-unreported massive head injury. This is sounding more and more like pandering to the riding, with Parrish setting herself up for the possibility (regardless of recent indications she's been invited back into caucus) of running as an independent on the time-honoured vapid populist rabble-rouser platform. That doesn't excuse such bizarre accusations (Calling Rick Hillier "barbaric," while simultaneously being upset that he might not have kind words and hugs for terrorists?), though - and, in fact, if this entire line of argument is cynical political maneuvering, that's probably even more repulsive.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I snarl, I hiss; how can ignorance be compared to bliss?

I don't think anyone's surprised that obnoxious ex-Liberal Carolyn Parrish is being entreated to return to the fold. But, as usual, she manages to comment on the news with jaw-dropping ignorance: True to form, Ms. Parrish couldn't resist a little demonstration of her outspokenness in yesterday's interview, criticizing Canada's new Chief of the Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier, for some of his recent comments. She called him "dangerous" and a "testosterone-filled general," and added that "somebody should put a clamp on his mouth." Ms. Parrish, a self-described "peacenik," said she was particularly offended by Gen. Hillier's aggressive comments this month that the job of Canadian soldiers is "to be able to kill people." He had been speaking to reporters about the Canadian troop deployment to Kandahar, where the troops will target terrorist "murderers and scumbags." "They talk about me being outspoken," she said. "I'm speaking on my own behalf. This man is purporting to speak on behalf of the government, and I think he's dangerous. "I'm totally offended by him. . . . We are also not a country that is going to easily throw away 100 years of peacekeeping reputation and noble reputation in the world by a testosterone-filled general, and I think somebody should put a clamp on his mouth." I realize that for some Liberals, Canada sprang fully formed from Trudeau's godlike brow, but Jeebus. "100 years of peacekeeping?" Canadian troops were operating under UN auspices in 1905, hmmm? In actual fact, a little over a hundred years ago, Canadian soldiers were full participants in the maintenance of the British Empire, fighting in the Boer War, hardly a mission that could be called one of peacekeeping. (Not that that's a bad thing.) And if Parrish thinks that Rick Hillier is "dangerous" and "testosterone-filled," well, let's hope no one alerts her to the behaviour or demeanour of Canadian officers (or, at least, the perceptions thereof held by clueless Torontonian upper-middle-class professionals) prior to the era of the cuddly social-worker military. If the Liberal Party is still willing to embrace her after such patent idiocy on the very notion of national defence, I think it'll be clear that recent praise of Hillier's tough talk really was nothing but bluster.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Like a plague, how it spreads

I was just dying to know what Jane Fonda thinks about Iraq; weren't you? I mean, I wasn't entirely sure she'd condemn it, compare it to Vietnam, and pointedly imply the exciting and not-at-all ludicrous 'War for Oil' meme. How delightful it is, then, to have confirmation! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy: SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Actress and activist Jane Fonda says she intends to take a cross-country bus tour to call for an end to U.S. military operations in Iraq. "I can't go into any detail except to say that it's going to be pretty exciting," she said. Fonda said her anti-war tour in March will use a bus that runs on "vegetable oil." She will be joined by families of Iraq war veterans and her daughter. They plan to return to the Santa Fe area, where she was promoting her book, "My Life So Far" on Saturday. Prompted by a question from the audience, Fonda said war veterans that she has met on a nationwide book tour have encouraged her to break her silence on the Iraq war. "I've decided I'm coming out," she said. Hundreds of people in the audience cheered loudly when Fonda announced her intentions to join the anti-Iraq war movement. "I have not taken a stand on any war since Vietnam," she said. "I carry a lot of baggage from that." Oh, right...that. I wonder why. (Via Drudge.)

A most disgusting exhibition

How low can petty political sniping go in the pro-war/anti-war divide? Pretty repellently low. But, hey, as long as you're against that eeeeevil George Bush, any action you take is automatically rendered appropriate and noble, right? The family of a Marine who was killed in Iraq is furious with [Pennsylvania] Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll for showing up uninvited at his funeral this week, handing out her business card and then saying "our government" is against the war. Rhonda Goodrich of Indiana, Pa., said yesterday that a funeral was held Tuesday at a church in Carnegie for her brother-in-law, Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich, 32. She said he "died bravely and courageously in Iraq on July 10, serving his country." In a phone interview, Goodrich said the funeral service was packed with people "who wanted to tell his family how Joe had impacted their lives." Then, suddenly, "one uninvited guest made an appearance, Catherine Baker Knoll." She sat down next to a Goodrich family member and, during the distribution of communion, said, "Who are you?" Then she handed the family member one of her business cards, which Goodrich said she still has. "Knoll felt this was an appropriate time to campaign and impose her will on us," Goodrich said. "I am amazed and disgusted Knoll finds a Marine funeral a prime place to campaign." [...] What really upset the family, Goodrich said, is that Knoll said, 'I want you to know our government is against this war,' " Goodrich said. I can't think of anything more ghoulish, and that it's from an elected official is worst of all. The Lieutenant-Governor is no better than the vile Fred Phelps and his "God Hates Fags" crowd for sheer depraved gall, who have similarly been known to crash a private funeral in order to spread their narrow, obnoxious agenda. At least you can say of the abominable Rev. Phelps, however, that he isn't doing what he does on the public dime. Michelle Malkin has much more. (Via LGF.)

Mere folk who give distraction

On priorities: This is the front page of today's Ottawa Citizen. See way below the fold, at the bottom there, just above the index? The story I've marked "A" is "Your cat's a finicky meat-eater because it has no sweet tooth." See the one marked "B?" That's a short headline for the results of a poll of Canadians saying "Invasion left Iraq better off," a new and welcome change of attitude. (Free version in the National Post here, headlined with "Canadians support US in Iraq.") A majority of Canadians and Britons say Iraq is better off for the U.S.-led invasion of the country, but most Canadians say peace and security in Iraq will be more than five years away, according to a new Gallup poll obtained by the Association for Canadian Studies. In what seems to be a shift in Canadian opinion toward the war, 59% of Canadians said Iraq is either "much better" or "somewhat better" off now than before the U.S.-led invasion. Sixty-one per cent of Britons said the same. The editor who decided that this was such a non-story it needed to be buried below the fold, and sidelined for a fluff piece about how most housecats don't have "sweet receptors" on their tongues? He needs to be fired, and now.

We come in peace and shoot to kill

So it seems that the man shot in London on Friday on suspicion of being yet another suicide bomber was innocent, if not exactly acting that way: London — London's police commissioner expressed regret Sunday for the slaying of a Brazilian electrician by officers who mistook him for a suspect in the recent terror bombings, but he defended a police shoot-to-kill policy as "the only way" to stop would-be suicide bombers. [...] The man shot Friday at the Stockwell subway station was identified as Jean Charles de Menezes, 27. Witnesses said he was wearing a heavy, padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him five times in the head and torso in front of horrified passengers. Mr. Blair initially said Mr. Menezes was "directly linked" to the investigation of Thursday's attacks, but police then said Saturday he had no connection to the bomb attempts. It's a shame, yes - but that doesn't invalidate the actions of the police. They certainly had reasonable justification to shoot: When Mr. Menezes began to enter the station, witnesses said, he was surrounded by plainclothes officers who shouted at him to stop. According to the police accounts, the officers identified themselves and were suspicious partly because he was wearing a bulky jacket in the summer weather, suggesting that he was concealing something. Mr. Menezes ran. He jumped over the turnstile, ran down an escalator and stumbled into a train, where he fell face down. Witnesses said the police then shot him five times in the head and neck, killing him. If was ever to be in the situation where armed police were shouting at me to surrender, and I was, in fact, completely innocent of anything they might suppose of me, I think that jumping a turnstile and running would logically be the best way to get killed. It's unfortunate that Mr. Menezes considered this a sound course of action, a day after a second abortive bombing attempt, when he had to have known that police would still be on edge and suspicious of bizarre activity on anyone's part, but that's what happened. Thankfully, it's not causing either the British government or police services to be thrown into fits of self-doubt or recrimination, as some might wish: "This is a tragedy," [Tony Blair] said Sunday of the shooting. "The Metropolitan Police accepts full responsibility for this. To the family I can only express my deep regrets." He also defended the shoot-to-kill policy, saying such action only applied when lives were believed to be at risk. "I am very aware that minority communities are talking about a shoot-to-kill policy," he said. "It's only a shoot-to-kill-in-order-to-protect policy." Mr. Blair said British police have drawn from the experiences of other countries, including Sri Lanka, that have dealt with suicide attackers. "The only way to deal with this is to shoot to the head," Mr. Blair said. "There is no point in shooting at someone's chest because that is where the bomb is likely to be." Let Red Ken Livingstone bow and scrape to those to would slaughter all Britons in a heartbeat, had they the opportunity; the right people are actually in charge of those offices more significant than the Mayor of London's.

Pouring your threats in my ear

I don't care for Anne McLellan, but I do wish she'd have taken this threat more seriously, in retrospect: A controversial Toronto imam warned Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan at a closed-door meeting to stop "terrorizing" Canadian Muslims. "If you try to cross the line I can't guarantee what is going to happen. Our young people, we can't control," Aly Hindy, the head of Scarborough's Salaheddin Islamic Centre, recalls telling the minister at the May meeting she held in Toronto with dozens of Muslim leaders. Can't, or won't? In either case, that is why it increasingly seems we'll have to do it for those in the passive-aggressive fifth column. The shrill cries of victimization (wholly, it seems, as yet without merit in Canada, except in the fever dreams of fools and madmen) from some of those of the Muslim community are becoming tiresome, and aren't inclining me to think the best of their intentions. That might have something to do with this: The imam said six or seven young men have approached him to discuss "fighting overseas" in place such as Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he told them "people fighting in Iraq, they don't need more people." I'm not hearing condemnation here. Or even disapproval. Acknowledgment that it's not a strategically practical thing for Canadian Muslims to do, yes, but that is something less than comforting. Nor, for that matter, is the acknowledgment that six or seven members of his congregation (of how many? 1000? 500? Fewer?) are so stoked up to kill we in the infidel-North American community that they're actively thinking about buying a plane ticket and AK-47. Instead, Canadian Muslims can wage non-violent jihads (holy struggles) at home. "You have a very good chance to serve Islam here," he said he told them. I think that even Canadians are starting to realize that multiculturalism has its limits. If it's too much to ask that Canadian Muslims not wage any sort of jihad - "non-violent" or not - then maybe it'll become clearer where the line is of what we will and will not collectively tolerate. This kind of preacher of paranoia and intolerance, we can't. Mr. Hindy, who has long complained that CSIS is spying on him, his family and his mosque, told Ms. McLellan that a young Muslim woman complained to him she was roughed up by Canadian spies while her husband was away at prayers. This allegation could spur reprisals because "our women are the most valuable thing to us" and "for a Muslim, honour is more important than his life," Mr. Hindy said in a recent interview. He made the point to the minister. Several people who attended shrugged off the imam's remarks, but some Muslims and government agents later approached Mr. Hindy asking him to explain himself. "The police came to me and said, 'This is a kind of threat,' and I said yes," he said. "But it's for the good of this country." [...] "We believe CSIS should stop terrorizing us," he says in a flyer he is circulating to mosques. "CSIS is powerless. CSIS has no authority over you. If CSIS agents come to your door, do not open [it] for them." By all means, don't cooperate with ongoing federal terrorism investigations. Don't admit that their suspicions are very reasonable, given ambiguous non-condemnation of terror coming from certain mosques. It does tend to make crystal clear which side you're on... (Via NealeNews.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Please remember that I want us to live

On the matter of Conservative policy and same-sex marriage in relation to its final assent, I have two words: somewhat better. For the first time, Mr. Toews signalled the Conservative party is set to modify its strategy now [C-38] has passed. Contrary to earlier statements by leader Stephen Harper, who said he would introduce legislation to re-establish traditional marriage if he becomes prime minister, Mr. Toews said a Conservative government should first introduce a simple motion asking MPs if they would support a law once again limiting civil marriage to only one and one woman. Following that, should the motion pass, the new Conservative government should then introduce legislation repealing the same-sex marriage law and send it directly to the Supreme Court of Canada for a ruling on its constitutionality, Mr. Toews said. This still isn't perfect - I'd be happier, and I think Tory electoral prospects would increase substantially, if not a single word was spoken on the subject during the next campaign, in favour of expending the capital of media attention on more popular policies - but it's a start; it defuses the automatic trigger of the promise somewhat, implying another preliminary round (grueling though it might be) of MPs consulting directly with constituents before making any real decisions. Promise that it'll be a free vote, with no whipping, even for the cabinet (I know that's likely, but emphasizing the fact wouldn't hurt) and showcase that the party does have some internal differences of opinion on the matter, and this modified policy premise might actually be a net benefit. Or, at least, not the sucking chest wound of a self-inflicted injury that flat-out promises of immediate repeal would likely amount to. (Interestingly buried lede via The Shotgun.)

Someone who's stalwart and steady

Erg. Another day, another threat. A number of Tube stations have been evacuated and lines closed after minor blasts in what Met Police chief Sir Ian Blair says is a "serious incident". Sir Ian said only three Tube lines were still suspended and said it was time London started to return to normal. At least there seem to be no serious casualties, this time. It never ends, but that never justifies giving up, or collapsing into paroxysms of self-loathing. In that vein, I'm watching the press conference with Tony Blair and John Howard right now, and I'm reminded how much I envy Australians. Howard is a cool-headed, hard-nosed SOB, and seems considerably less flustered by reporters asking inane "Admit you caused this by invading Iraq" questions. He's like a high school teacher patiently explaining cause and effect to a rather dull-witted remedial history class, and isn't at all apologetic about reminding them of Bali and incidents prior. If only our own Liberals were as competent and steadfast against terror as Howard's similarly-named party.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Hello to the modern world, the breathtaking modern world; there's nothing today that you can't do

There's unnerving yet fascinating movement on the Asian front: China is Coming (still), and their plans seem to be crossing the line between everyday villainy and cartoonish supervillainy. In 1998, an official People's Liberation Army publishing house brought out a treatise called "Unrestricted Warfare," written by two senior army colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui. This book, which is available in English translation, is well known to the U.S. national security establishment but remains practically unheard of among the general public. "Unrestricted Warfare" recognizes that it is practically impossible to challenge the U.S. on its own terms. No one else can afford to build mega-expensive weapons systems like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which will cost more than $200 billion to develop. "The way to extricate oneself from this predicament," the authors write, "is to develop a different approach." Their different approaches include financial warfare (subverting banking systems and stock markets), drug warfare (attacking the fabric of society by flooding it with illicit drugs), psychological and media warfare (manipulating perceptions to break down enemy will), international law warfare (blocking enemy actions using multinational organizations), resource warfare (seizing control of vital natural resources), even ecological warfare (creating man-made earthquakes or other natural disasters). [...] This isn't just loose talk. There are signs of this strategy being implemented. The anti-Japanese riots that swept China in April? That would be psychological warfare against a major Asian rival. The stage-managed protests in 1999, after the U.S. accidentally bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, fall into the same category. The bid by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Co., to acquire Unocal? Resource warfare. Attempts by China's spy apparatus to infiltrate U.S. high-tech firms and defense contractors? Technological warfare. China siding against the U.S. in the U.N. Security Council over the invasion of Iraq? International law warfare. Gen. Zhu's threat to nuke the U.S.? Media warfare. So, basically, the PRC plans to mount nearly every improbably intricate secret plan ever devised by a James Bond supervillain or comic book Big Bad, but on concerted enough a national level (and performed not just by a couple of dozen uniformed henchmen, but millions) that a number of those attempts are bound to succeed. And many already have, looking at the pattern in retrospect. I'm really starting to miss not living in interesting times; aren't you? (I wonder when opinion leaders in the domestic business sector - like the Globe & Mail, which put out a shamefully obsequious month-long series on the subject earlier this year- are going to regret all the cheerleading they've done for promoting Chinese state investment in Canadian industry, and vice versa, as alternatives to scaaaary American investors and investment opportunities?) (Via Instapundit.)

There's a face that we hide, 'til the nighttime appears

What a surprise: It didn't take long (despite a brief trip to the land of resolute defiance) for London Mayor "Red Ken" Livingstone to return to form. Ken Livingstone yesterday blamed western policies for contributing to the spread of the extremist beliefs that inspired the London bombers. The mayor of London highlighted the West's role in the creation of al-Qa'eda by saying: "We created these people. We built them up. We funded them." His comments coincided with remarks from Muslim extremists that went much further, claiming that ministers were "the real terrorists" and that voters were to blame for the attacks because they returned Tony Blair to power. Mr Livingstone has condemned the London bombings in the strongest terms, and immediately after the attack he was widely praised for the way he spoke up on behalf of all Londoners. But yesterday he abandoned his consensual approach when he claimed that western policies in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq may have influenced the bombers. Mr Livingstone said: "This particular strand of extremism was funded by the West in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden was just another businessman until he was recruited by the CIA. "I suspect the real problem was that we funded these people, as long as they were killing Russians. We gave no thought to the fact that when they stopped killing Russians they might start killing us." Mr Livingstone also defended Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the controversial cleric who visited London at his invitation last year and who had been scheduled to attend a conference in Manchester next month. He and Michael Moore would get along like a house on fire. (Rather, I should say, like a city on fire.) It's been less than two weeks, and already Livingstone is telling Britons that this is their fault. The bombers, the planners, the funders, the sympathizers? Meaningless, in his world; their innocence is guaranteed, apparently, by being mindless automatons incapable of self-control, liable to grab a sack of explosives and blow up a few dozen commuters at the slightest imagined offense. Moreover, it's the fault of Blair voters specifically; if only there'd been no war in Iraq, or Afghanistan, he imagines, there'd be no terrorism today. Gah. Britain is doomed, if this is the best the nation has to offer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Of dishonest endeavour, and being so clever

This is awful, but I still don't think it's vindication for those against same-sex marriage in the general sense. After tying the knot for more than 3,400 people, Orville Nichols expects to become the first person in Canada to be fired for refusing to marry a gay couple. Mr. Nichols, a 69-year-old marriage commissioner from Regina, says performing same-sex marriages does not accord with his religious and personal beliefs. And Saskatchewan Justice Minister Frank Quennell made it clear late last year that refusal is not an option for civic officials in his province. What's clear here is that, yes, the supposed protections for free exercise of conscience by marriage commissioners in C-38 are meaningless. That's not news; that seemed probable all along, and was my main objection to enacting same-sex marriage in this particular form. But it doesn't appear to be the federal law that can be squarely blamed here; the Saskatchewan government's choice to be ruthless in refusing opt-out provisions is more directly at fault. Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, who spearheaded the bill through the Commons, has repeatedly promised that religious rights would not be trumped by the equality provisions of the Charter that have made same-sex marriage a legal reality. But the transition to a nation that embraces the legal homosexual unions has not gone as smoothly as he had hoped. In Newfoundland, at least one in 10 marriage commissioners resigned after the province said they must perform the ceremonies. In Manitoba, where a similar edict is in effect, at least 12 commissioners have resigned. And in Saskatchewan, at least eight of the commissioners have quit, but Mr. Nichols refused to join them. [...] Because the solemnization of marriage is within provincial jurisdiction, he has appealed to his counterparts in the provinces and territories to make provisions for civic officials who don't want to perform a same-sex marriage. Saskatchewan, as the socialist fiefdom it unfortunately currently is, has a government directing its ministers and employees to take a hard line in favour of left-leaning social engineering, punishing those unwilling to endorse such policies. Let's take a deep breath and remember, here, that Mr. Nichols probably would have been railroaded no matter how the federal vote on C-38 had turned out; it probably would have happened even if the federal government fell in May. The problem here isn't the phenomenon of gay marriage - it's a leftist government unwilling to compromise on demanding all officials swear loyalty not only to the province, but the provincial government's social policies, which can reasonably be separated from one another. If there can be protection of conscience, allowing those who oppose it to opt out (whether formally or informally) then it'll have to come at the provincial level, because it does seem painfully clear that the Ministry of Justice wishes to wash their hands of victimization when it occurs. That doesn't refute the merits of extending the privileges of marriage to all, equally, but it certainly does sully them.

Let me draw the latest score to your attention

This very cool Russian-made smart keyboard prototype - with embedded OLED screens in each key capable of changing on-the-fly, depending on OS, language, and program - has been making the rounds of the gadget news sites lately. Even more fascinating, though, is the designer, one Artemy Lebedev, and his numerous essays on design. For instance, the Russian visual experience, as it pertains to industrial designers, is interestingly different from that of the west. Lebedev details the development of the Russian typewriter layout and telephone system, both parallel but slightly askew to the interfaces of both as we know them. But there's also some more general, universal musings, like on set design and presidential addresses, neat particularly in demonstrating how much more sinister Putin has made the visual language of the Russian presidency. (Also amusing: "The President’s hands move so as to get across a message of something in between 'it’s an honest-to-goodness truth, folks' and 'I’ll strangle ye all.'" Hey, you say it like it's a bad thing...) And then, there's the most entertainingly detailed April Fools' hoax I've seen in a while, on the purported Cyrillic original copy of the Declaration of Independence. (!) Gently satiric but seemingly-earnest affection for that most significant of documents, and a brilliant sense of design? Someone get this man a visa and VC funding, now.

You're a spineless, pale, pathetic lot, and you haven't got a clue

Sigh. Same pig-headed, morally equivocating, craven and cowardly old CBC: 'Terrorist' and 'terrorism': Exercise extreme caution before using either word. Avoid labelling any specific bombing or other assault as a "terrorist act" unless it's attributed (in a TV or Radio clip, or in a direct quote on the Web). For instance, we should refer to the deadly blast at that nightclub in Bali in October 2002 as an "attack," not as a "terrorist attack." The same applies to the Madrid train attacks in March 2004, the London bombings in July 2005 and the attacks against the United States in 2001, which the CBC prefers to call "the Sept. 11 attacks" or some similar expression. (The BBC, Reuters and many others follow similar policies.) Terrorism generally implies attacks against unarmed civilians for political, religious or some other ideological reason. But it's a highly controversial term that can leave journalists taking sides in a conflict. By restricting ourselves to neutral language, we aren't faced with the problem of calling one incident a "terrorist act" (e.g., the destruction of the World Trade Center) while classifying another as, say, a mere "bombing" (e.g., the destruction of a crowded shopping mall in the Middle East). Here's the thing, jackass: they're both terrorist acts. That it's harder for you to openly cheer for those who murder 3,000 of your fellow upper-middle-class professionals than those who murder fifty or a hundred Israeli shoppers is not germane to the subject; both are vicious attacks on civilians, performed by megalomaniacal madmen. I realize that even the worst offenders for the 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter' trope, the BBC, managed to even top themselves in that appalling little rhetorical game recently, but that doesn't excuse our very own state-funded terror sympathizers. In an ideal world, the CBC would get as much federal funding as Al-Jazeera, if they wanted to keep on playing the we-deserved-it game, refusing to honestly call terrorism for what it is. Spout whatever amoral idiocies you like, but to demand to do it on the public dime? Now that's arrogance. UPDATE: Oh, look; Zerb is citing me as among those "raging" at this policy, whom she imagines to be sharply rebutted by Skippy: What the perfidious CBC is suggesting that reporters describe events factually, and let viewers make up their own minds. Kudos, then, to the wise folks at CBC watch, who have once again laid bare the CBC's bias. The last thing we'd want would be for viewers to make up their own minds. This bias in favor of objectivity must stop right now. I mean it. We cannot afford neutral words in these dark times. What the Irrational Post has omitted is the fact that the CBC is not alone in this policy. My books are still packed for the move, which prevents me from quoting the relevant section, but the CP style guide contains a similar warning against the use of the word "terrorist." It's a custom more honoured in the breach than the observance, but the admonition (and the rationale) is the same. And I'm pretty sure that someone at the National Post knows that, because I'm pretty sure that they have at least one CP style guide somewhere in their news room, propping up the wobbly desk that they can't afford to replace until the day they make a profit, or the day of the rapture - whichever comes first. OMG he made up a funny name for the National Post!!11!!! Whose writers are all greedy fanatical fundamentalist Christians!!! 0wNz0R'd!! LOL ROTFL!1!! Mocking unfortunate juvenilia aside: so what? I don't care if the CP style guide suggests a similar policy of neutrality. Neutrality towards evil is no virtue. Omitting relevant facts isn't simply bias, it's dishonesty, but we're talking about the National Post here. While I'm at it, then, let me point out that water is really, really wet, and that it's a damn good thing we have CBC Watch to protect civilization. In practice, there's wide agreement in Canada that people who fly airplanes into buildings are one man's terrorists, not another man's freedom fighters, which makes the argument moot. A spade is a spade unless a lot of people want to call it a shovel; only then do you have to start calling it a long-handled digging implement of indeterminate type. The problem, unfortunately, is that a lot of people do want to call it a shovel. (Or, at the very least, a spade whose actions are understandable given a sense of persecution by wicked American imperialists and Zionist colonizers.) If we actually were all in agreement about the depravity of terrorism in the broad sense, true, there'd (obviously) be no need for the state broadcaster to take a side, but it's not evident that we are. The idea that using neutral language somehow promotes a point of view is clearly false. Nobody is going to decide that the 9/11 hijackers were actually on the side of the angels, just because the television calls them "hijackers" instead of "terrorists." And it's also hard to argue that the CBC, being publicly funded and all, should avoid the use of neutral language in favour of, um, slant. Nobody is going to decide that those particular terrorists were heroes because of the CBC's neutral language. But what of those who are pleased that the official voice of Canada refuses to condemn them? What of those wannabe jihadis who are just gleeful that their actions won't be censured in the west, at the very least, by the CBC (or BBC)? In this context, failing to take a side is genuinely as good as being on the other side, because it reflects a basic and insidious sense of amorality. There are things worth fighting for; for the CBC to stand back and refuse to favour, with simple terminology, the side whose civilians are randomly murdered by roving groups of megalomanial madmen, is something akin to the notion that CBC broadcasts had a duty to be strictly neutral on the world stage in 1939. I would refer Skippy to words generally (if apocryphally) attributed to Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." For good men to refuse to deign to even say a word against the barbaric acts of terrorists is even more spineless, and similarly enabling of the spread of evil. Is Canada, with all the freedoms and rights we enjoy as citizens, preferable to the totalitarian dictatorships or murderous theocracies seen in those states - subtly or openly - supporting our enemies? If so, it doesn't hurt a bit for the CBC to admit as such by openly calling terrorism, and those who support it, for what it is and what they are. If not - if, perhaps, you're not actually certain that modern western civilization presents a superior way of life compared to the alternatives - then maybe Skippy's line of reasoning makes sense, I suppose. I know which side I'm on. The CBC, Skippy, and Zerb might be a little confused - but that's their collective cross to bear, not mine.

And plenty of security

Sounds okay, but there's room for improvement: WASHINGTON -- A Conservative government in Canada would move aggressively to step up efforts in the war on international terrorism and create a single office to oversee Canada's spy and security forces, Opposition Leader Stephen Harper promised yesterday in a speech to right-wing fellow travellers gathered in Washington. "In particular, Canada can play a stronger role in the war on terrorism," Mr. Harper told a receptive audience of representatives of centrist and conservative parties from more than 60 nations attending the triennial International Democrat Union meeting. A Tory government would also create "an office of the commissioner of national security whose job it will be to begin co-ordination of Canada's security agencies." Not to quibble, but we already have one of those, sort of. And I'm not sure that creating a larger bureaucratic clusterfarg by moving CSIS and CSE under that department, or vice versa, would necessarily be in aid of anything. Growing the size of the federal government and its attendant bureaucracy is an awfully Canadian solution, though, so I suppose it might get a thumbs-up from PSAC. The still-evolving plan echoes the U.S. decision to consolidate all security agencies under a single czar. Mr. Harper also said his party is continuing to look at the issue of a national identity card, although he said no policy decision had been made. Want me to start seriously considering the Libertarians as something beyond a one-off protest vote? Do that. I dare you. Instituting a national ID card will have little to no effect on those seeking to circumvent it, while at the same time adding another layer of arbitrary government control to the everyday lives of law-abiding citizens, ripe for abuse. Has the gun registry debacle not taught us that, at least? Mr. Harper vowed that a Conservative government would boost military spending in Canada. "We will reverse the record of successive Liberal governments under which Canada's military, peacekeeping and foreign-aid contributions have long been shrinking." Sigh. This is what tends to disappoint me; even abroad, talking to foreign policy hawks from around the world, Harper can't stop reciting the same old platitudes about peacekeeping. Although he made no specific commitment to adopt a policy of reversing the Liberal government's rejection of ballistic missile defence -- a cornerstone of the Bush administration's defence strategy -- Mr. Harper made it clear that if he were prime minister, Canada would shoulder a greater share of continental defence. Better, but still vague. Take a stand, damn it; say that missile defence is a good thing, and explain why. Take the argument to the people. That's a worthy issue to go down fighting on. "A new Conservative government will do significantly more to contribute to [Canada's] own national security, to continental security in alliance with the United States and to global security in concert with all free nations," Mr. Harper said. That will gladden Republicans in the United States, many of whom regard the Canadian government as soft on terrorism, and an unreliable ally that deserted Americans in Iraq and over missile defence. Tougher Canadian domestic efforts to combat terrorism would also please Americans on both sides of the partisan divide, some of whom regard Canada's immigration and domestic-security policies as inadequate to stop terrorists from infiltrating the United States across the border. Like the Bush administration, which has vowed to help spread democracy throughout the world and reverse the decades-long pattern of supporting authoritarian regimes if they backed Washington, Mr. Harper called fighting terrorism a battle of ideas. And, of course, here's the pièce de résistance: The Globe & Mail's standard booga-booga-booga line about Republicans, coupled with stirring up anti-American resentment on as many points as possible. Shameless, but expected. But what does this do to the actual policy intent? I don't think it hurts it as much as they think. Even for all my complaints, this is a strong and decisive plan, comparatively, which I could (mostly) support. I know "American-style" is assumed by the Canadian media to be the most damning of epithets, but we could certainly do worse than to improve security to American levels, and it's not clear - recent display of backbone aside - that the Liberals are even capable of such a feat, let alone willing to try it.

Monday, July 18, 2005

There are those who love regretting, there are those who like extremes

I knew there was a reason why War of the Worlds seemed eminently worthy of ignoring, besides being a pointless lumbering behemoth of a purpose-made blockbuster, or merely insultingly political on its own merits. It's a sign of a trend, perhaps: David Koepp, who wrote the screenplay for War of the Worlds, says the Martian attackers in the film represent the American military, while the Americans being slaughtered at random represent Iraqi civilians. I see it differently. I think the Martians symbolize normal Americans, while those being attacked are the numbskulls who run Hollywood. Perhaps the normals went a bit too far in this easy-to-understand allegory, but think of the provocation. It's relevant to remember that H.G. Wells was, in fact, an unrepentant and particularly unpleasant socialist, who fancied Lenin "creative" and Italian Fascists "brave and well-meaning." An insulting and facile political metaphor made out of an H.G. Wells novel? That's not a surprise. The bigger surprise is that so many adaptations of his works have been able to ignore his politics, and focus instead only on the well-told stories therein. If only latter-day sci-fi writers were afforded the same favour when necessary... (Via Libertas via/and Kaus via Instapundit.)

All I ask is that you listen to me

Parse poll numbers however you want, but I think this seems to continue to imply that a platform of repealing same-sex marriage isn't exactly going to be a huge vote-winner for Tories. Canadians do not want their political leaders to undo historic legislation allowing gays to legally marry in the wake of a pledge from the Conservatives that they would do just that if elected. In a new poll conducted for The Globe and Mail/CTV, 55 per cent of Canadians surveyed say the next government should let same-sex legislation stand, while 39 per cent would like to see an attempt made to repeal it. A further 6 per cent said they did not know. The results appear to bolster Prime Minister Paul Martin's remarks two weeks ago that Canadians do not want to revisit the issue, despite a promise by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper that he would rescind the law if he becomes prime minister in an election expected next winter. "The Liberals have been successful in defining same-sex as an issue of rights, not as a moral issue" said Tim Woolstencroft, managing partner of polling firm the Strategic Counsel. "And that prevails. Rights will also win over other issues." Part of that perception is due to skilful Liberal framing of the issue, true, but at this point, it doesn't really matter; support is widespread and at least indifferent to mildly positive, at a level substantial enough that it can't be explained away entirely as the product of leading polls, a cheerleading media, and suspiciously expedited, sub rosa debate and passage. How does that seem even more evident than in the raw numbers for the central question? Think about what this means: In a related question, 51 per cent of those surveyed said they do not support the idea of allowing gay couples to legally adopt, while 46 per cent said they do. That's a difference within shouting distance of the 3.1% margin of error. If nearly half the country is okay or indifferent towards gay couples adopting, it seems remarkably improbable that a solid majority would actively vote to repeal the impending official redefinition of marriage, and make that their single important election issue to boot. I realize it may come as bitter medicine to some, but if Conservatives are to form a government again in the foreseeable future, this doesn't look to be the hot-button issue vehicle upon which that feat can be accomplished. The sooner that albatross is thrown off for issues with genuinely promising electoral prospects, the better.

Still, I'm sure that you can rock the cynics if you try

Much ado was made on the weekend over this: OTTAWA -- Canada's blunt-talking top soldier won praise yesterday for his clear and sometimes brutal description of the coming military effort against terrorist "scumbags" in Afghanistan. Defence analysts and politicians from the NDP and the Conservative Party said it is time for a military leader like General Rick Hillier, who speaks from the heart about the role of the Canadian Forces in the war on terror. "Controlled anger, given what's happened, is an appropriate response," NDP Leader Jack Layton said. "We have a very committed, level-headed head of our armed forces, who isn't afraid to express the passion that underlies the mission that front-line personnel are going to be taking on. "A bit of strong language in the circumstances, I don't find that to be wrong." Bravo, of course, for Hillier; it's refreshing to see a chief of defence staff who understands that the purpose of military forces is, well, to kill certain people as ruthlessly and efficiently as possible, not to do social work. But I'm not entirely sold on the tripartisan-support angle. I suppose it's taken for granted that Conservatives support a strong military capable of projecting force in the defence of the nation, however that may be defined, and the Liberals similarly so, albeit in a form somewhat more corrupted by the pernicious influence of the Peacekeeping fantasy. But the NDP? I'm having trouble believing that this isn't going to cost Layton some support (or at the very least, goodwill; hippies do so hate sellouts) at the grassroots level. Hillier's remarks so don't jibe with NDP attitudes, it's not funny. Jack Layton responded to the London bombings themselves by, after rotely condemning the terrorism itself, urging the G8 conference to immediately direct itself "[addressing] global climate change and meeting our commitments to fight global poverty." In the NDP's world, yes, terrorism is a nuisance, but not nearly as important as the pressing concern of redistributing wealth on the basis of claimed victimhood, whether by direct no-strings-attached aid, or Byzantine schemes like the Kyoto Protocol, currently on-track to fine tiny and green New Zealand into a financial crisis for the crime of being, comparatively, too industrially successful. As for the Liberals, of course, they know which way the wind is blowing, and are famously adept at playing to poll results. Right now, with 7/7 fresh in the minds of Canadians, it won't hurt a bit to appear tough on terror and those who perpetrate it. I wonder if the PM's newfound backbone will remain once the first casualties from this mission appear? Should terrorism again temporarily appear to be only something from which Americans and Israelis are victimized, what then? Will Hillier be quietly told to clam up, or else suffer an unusally early opportunity to spend more time with his family? There is something that would convince me of both Layton and Martin's sincerity, though. If both are willing to endorse the notion that terrorists are "scumbags," and may (nay, must) be taken out by our armed forces wherever they may find them, as a matter of doing the right thing against a barbaric and merciless enemy...a token contribution of fifty or a hundred Canadian troops to ongoing operations in Iraq would, I'm sure, be welcomed. But that would be asking both men to admit that doing the right thing can converge with American policy - and that would engender some strong language on someone's part, likely not Hillier's.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Lots of madmen have had their say, but only for a day

I have to say, I never thought I'd see an editorial this honest and straightforward about the unpleasant facts of terrorism in a Canwest-owned Vancouver newspaper: "A religion of peace vs. apologists for terrorism." Hours after the terror attacks on the London subway and a bus last week, the Canadian Islamic Congress issued a brief statement that condemned the bombing. It offered no condolences, expressed no grief, displayed no shock; it was instead a directive to the public not to blame Islam. "We hope Canadian Muslims are not found guilty by association," said its national president, Mohamed Elmasry. Criticism forced him to subsequently toss in some disingenuous sympathy, but he'd shown his true colours. That Elmasry should be speaking as the head of any Islamic organization is an affront to what its followers call a religion of peace. Last year, he suggested all Israelis over the age of 18 should be murdered, arguing that because Israel has a civilian army they are legitimate targets for Palestinian suicide bombers. There were calls for his resignation, which Muslim leaders refused. Later, on a CBC radio program, he defended Islamic terrorism, saying the colonial powers committed worse atrocities and deserved what they got. Earlier this year, Elmasry defended the Syrian occupation of Lebanon as a peacekeeping mission and described Iraq under Saddam Hussein as some sort of paradise with full employment, a stable public service infrastructure, and one of the leading Middle East states in administration, education and health care before the intervention of the international coalition plunged it into chaos. No mention of the gassing of the Kurds, the torture chambers and rape rooms, the attack on Kuwait, war with Iran or the Scud missiles fired at Israel. As long as apologists for terrorism like Elmasry are allowed to be spokesmen for Islam, all Muslims are vulnerable to being found guilty by association. Bingo. It goes on, too, cataloguing all those facts - the appalling numbers of British Muslims positively gleeful at the 7/7 attack, the ideology of hate taught by Saudi-funded madrassas, the megalomaniacal intentions of militant Islamists to re-establish a far-reaching empire where all nonbelievers can be killed, suppressed, or forcibly converted, and the complete disconnect between Iraq, Afghanistan, and any purported justification for terrorism - surely familiar to most blog readers, but only now osmosing out to the non-news-junkie general public. In a Vancouver newspaper. There's hope for Canada yet, if we're finally getting to the point where honest debate about uncomfortable truths - damaging as they may be to the multiculti myth - can be aired. (Via NealeNews.)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Lady's Got Potential

Canadian-born Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm seems to have internalized the unfortunately-typical Canadian political dialogue pretty well: Last month the state legislature buried the Democratic Governor's top legislative priority, a grandiose proposal to raise taxes on insurance companies, banks and thousands of small businesses that private studies said would have cost up to 20,000 jobs. Ms. Granholm's plan was widely criticized, including in these columns in March and in an op-ed article on the opposite page last Thursday by state legislator Rick Baxter, a Republican, and Hillsdale College Professor Gary Wolfram. Ms. Granholm was not pleased, going so far as to denounce the op-ed as "treasonous for the state of Michigan." The authors' high crime? Exposing Michigan as a high tax state and criticizing Ms. Granholm for wanting to raise taxes. Her choice of words was no inadvertent slip of the tongue, by the way--a Howard Dean-like temporary loss of sanity. The Governor has used the "t" word repeatedly and has even suggested that Mr. Baxter "should be removed from office." As improbable self-righteous hyperbole goes, that doesn't seem too far away from "Private health care will destroy Canada" or similar lines of attack. Governing is so much easier in a one-party state, without opponents willing to argue against your grandiose schemes, isn't it? And, surely, it follows that anyone opposed to the will of the executive - benevolent and right-minded as it is - is not only wrong, but a traitor. (Funny how dissent is imagined to be brave and patriotic when disagreeing with Republicans, but literally treasonous when disagreeing with Democrats, huh?) This kind of political philosophy, the casual delegitimization and vilification of all political enemies, is one Canadian export I'm sure no one wants. In any event, when eventually turfed by Michiganders (and, oh, will that be sweet when it happens), I'm sure she'd be welcomed back to Canada as some variety of high-profile Liberal candidate. Demanding that conservatives be charged with treason merely for the sake of their political opinions would certainly be a winning platform in some parts of Ontario... (Via Instapundit.)

A little word, but oh, the difference it makes

It's now a thoughtcrime, apparently, to even imply that not all cultures and societies are equal in their attitudes and values - like, say, determining what's an appropriate male-female relationship: An Ottawa police detective who gives sexual harassment sensitivity training to taxi drivers could use some lessons herself, according to a chorus of voices yesterday who say the officer made remarks that were culturally insensitive. In an interview published yesterday in the Citizen, Det. Theresa Kelm said part of the function of the training course was to explain to drivers what constituted acceptable behaviour toward women in Canada and what types of actions or remarks crossed the line into harassment or assault. "Some of this behaviour may be acceptable in the countries they are from," Det. Kelm said. "Our message to them is that it's not acceptable here, and it won't be tolerated." The comment was made in a story about a cab driver who was convicted of sexually assaulting a female passenger, the third of its kind in the Ottawa area in the past year. Yousef Al Mezel, president of the union that represents Ottawa taxi drivers, said the detective's remark was unfair to drivers. "It's a racist comment from the detective," he said. The comment implied Canadian culture was superior to that of other countries in terms of attitude toward women, said Mr. Al Mezel. You know what? It bloody well is. Canada doesn't suffer from the repressive medieval phenomena of honour killings or female "circumcision," nor does this country endorse societal norms that consider women property of their husbands, fathers, or brothers. Not now, anyway, except in the unnervingly unassimilated. To pretend that there's no difference between Canada (or the western world at large) and some of the most repressive and misogynistic societies left over from the middle ages is dishonest, and doesn't speak well of the accusers. At least the federal government, uncharacteristically, has its head on straight, recognizing that the cult of multiculturalism is only so much smoke and mirrors once you leave the country. Meanwhile, when Canada's Foreign Affairs website offers advice to female travellers, it warns Middle Eastern countries can be a particular hazard. "Unescorted women are vulnerable to sexual harassment and verbal abuse," the website says in the travel report on Egypt. "Physical and verbal harassment of women is a problem," the report adds about Kuwait. Foreign affairs also publishes a travel guide for women, called Her Own Way, which explains "female travellers are directly affected by the religious and societal beliefs of the countries they visit." It says that in some countries -- although it does not spell out which -- a differentiation is made by men between women who dress or behave conservatively and those who don't. "Understand that, in some parts of the world, 'respectable' women don't go out alone in the evening. In these places, a flagrant rejection of this custom could very well put you in jeopardy." Andre Lemay, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs, said the department isn't looking to offend anyone, but sometimes there is a "reality" that needs to be explained. "Our job is to protect Canadians," he said. We need more police officers like Detective Kelm, who recognize that some people are unwilling to leave the old country, with its attendant attitudes and behavioural norms, behind. That's not racist. It may be unfortunate, but it's true.

Something expensive, something offensive

Interesting choice of subject matter, this, in an ad on the San Francisco Chronicle's site: Now, I'm of the opinion that the subject matter of this show - perpetuating the stereotype of Americans abroad as somehow spectacularly more boorish and ignorant than tourists of any other nationality - is a pretty lazy way to garner applause from the theatrical community, especially in Berkeley, the We Suck capital of America. But right now, that particular image isn't just sloppy anti-Americanism; it's nearly hateful. Who's squandering international goodwill, here? (Of course, I'd also wager that the creators likely think it's even more appropriate now, what with how Evil Amerikkkan Imperialism has caused brave rebel militants to rise up and justly strike Britain for going along with the Global War for Oil. Or something to that effect.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Compromise and be wise

This is closer to what I wanted to see from the federal Tories on same-sex marriage legislation: Tolerate, but ameliorate the obvious and immediate flaws. CALGARY -- The Alberta government has backed off its plan to fight tooth and nail against federal same-sex marriage legislation, announcing yesterday that it has no choice but to issue marriage licences to gays and lesbians. [...] The Alberta government had previously mused about getting out of the marriage business altogether, by pledging to only issue marriage licences to those unions sanctioned by religious organizations. During the province's election campaign last November, Mr. Klein, who has called same-sex marriage "morally wrong," vowed that his government would use "whatever legal means are at our disposal" to make sure marriage remains between a man and a woman. "We will proceed to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples much to our chagrin following the proclamation of the federal Civil Marriage Act, which was passed by the Parliament of Canada," Mr. Klein said. In the meantime, Alberta's cabinet approved moving forward with its own legislation that would ensure that religious organizations and others will be able to express their opposition to the change in the definition of marriage based on their "social or cultural beliefs," and that they will not be forced to "advocate, promote or teach about marriage in a way that conflicts with their beliefs." I appreciate that, while I don't see it as a threat to society, moral danger, or indeed any other kind of hazard commensurate with some of the slightly less temperate rhetoric, that others will. The best solution, then, is to give serious protection for differences in individual conscience, with as much legal force as possible shielding those with honest and considered beliefs from frivolous attention-seeking lawsuits or sheer punitive revenge-fantasy tactics from the militant on the Pro side. Provincial legislation bolstering the half-hearted provisions for freedom of conscience in the federal bill is a start, anyway, though I have to admit challenges on the basis of constitutionality do seem inevitable. Angry in the Great White North, conversely, thinks this approach is doomed: This is significant. A basic legal principle is that a law that is not enforced is no law at all. By essentially making the enforcement of the civil marriage legislation optional, the province is saying it is not really a law. What does the future hold? Well, expect some law suits directly challenging the law protecting marriage commissioners. Boring! No TV coverage for that. Here's what I think is going to happen. Never satisfied until everyone agrees with them, and unhappy that those who are going unpunished for having doubleplusungood thoughts and opinions, gay activists will identify a small community in Alberta with only one marriage commissioner who is known to refuse to officiate over a same sex marriage (based on statements, not that anyone has ever asked him to), and who is supported by the community's tiny rural population of traditionalists. Expect a busload of gay couples, licenses in hand, to descend on the community, demanding to have the commissioner to perform the marriages, arguing that requiring them to find another commissioner somewhere else in Alberta, or in another province, is unconstitutional. I think it is possible to enforce the law without requiring adherence on the part of every single marriage commissioner - if, indeed, only by the device of maintaining universal access to "neutral" commissioners. If it's the case that there's what could be deemed reasonable access throughout the province to marriage - i.e., if it's not a particularly different experience, requiring any more extensive preparation for a couple to be married whether straight or gay - then the law is honoured, and no inequality before the state is suffered by any. This could mean that, for instance, small towns with resident marriage commissioners strongly in favour of the traditional definition might have to share an itinerant "neutral" commissioner. Yes, it'd be an inconvenience - but it could be done. I believe it is possible to have one's cake and eat it too, in this case - and, furthermore, that the majority can be satisfied with compromise, notwithstanding the immovable positions of sign-waving protestors on either side.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Deception, Disgrace

David Ahenakew has been officially stripped of the Order of Canada. Good. I'm no fan of the Order of Canada on its own merits - it smacks of an elitist quasi-knighthood granted (perhaps like the practical exercise of that venerable British institution in more recent years, but certainly not in its intent) not for genuine service to the country or general merit, but on the basis of pure whim. (Well, whim, plus adherence to a rather Trudeaupian set of values, which is unsurprising given the makeup of the Advisory Council that makes the official recommendations of nominees to the GG.) It's still for the best that it not be lowered by willing association with an authentic hatemonger like Ahenakew. But, there's a catch: Mr. Ahenakew, who has already vowed he won't return the award, is only the second person ever to be terminated from the honour roll, which celebrates public service and achievement. [...] While the advisory council has clear procedures on how to revoke the award, it has no formal rules on what to do if an expelled recipient doesn't want to co-operate and return it. There has been no time limit imposed about when the council expects Mr. Ahenakew, a war veteran, to send it back to Ottawa. The Order of Canada is a civilian honour bestowed by the state, officially in the person of the Governor-General, yes? The state, not the government? If that's the case, then explain to me what would be improper with charging the RCMP, as Canada's sole state police force, with sending an officer or two around to (politely) confiscate Ahenakew's medal, lapel pin, certificate, etc.? It'd be a less questionable use of the heavy hand of the state than the ongoing harassment of the government's political enemies, at the very least.

At words poetic

What's with Bourque's unusually descriptive front page today? Embattled Conservative leader Stephen Harper is making a "surprise" visit to Gravenhurst and Huntsville on July 15th. Tory sources tell Bourque he's going with his hands wide open for defeated leadership candidate and designated federal standard-bearer Tony Clement, who is said to be trying to raise $250,000 for his campaign. It remains unclear what kind of media attention Harper will attract when he does a little mainstreeting in downtown Gravenhurst around 12:30pm (will Duff doff his seersucker for the occasion ?), before attending a secretive Clement "Investors Circle" schmoozer at a local bigwig's home where straw-hat'd supporters will fork over $3K for the opportunity to munch pickled gherkins, crunch rippled potato chips, gum polish cocktail weenies, slurp freshly-squeezed lemonade, listen to a local barbershop quartet, and bend Harper's ear. "Munch?" "Crunch?" "Slurp?" Onomatopoeize much? (And that's to say nothing of "the aptly-named Jester's Restaurant," or the nearly-Shakespearean modification of "straw-hatted.") Really, would it have hurt to have written this straight, rather than indulging in screwy banter? It's a distraction from the actual news: "Harper meeting with Clement and allies on BBQ circuit." Methinks someone needs to read up on the propriety of flowery prose in professional journalism...

Monday, July 11, 2005

Every now and then, a madman's bound to come along

Wacky former Law & Order star Michael Moriarty: Still basically correct (at least in political analysis); still apparently in possession of the uncanny ability to sound like a raving lunatic, nonetheless. In an earlier editorial, I discussed the "black hole" of Socialism. It dawned on me that such a description is obviously incomplete. What life-affirming being would willingly throw its financial life, liberties, rights and freedom of thought into such an all-engulfing dark quicksand? Socialism is not a black hole. It's a black sun. The endlessly voracious maw of its greed is veiled in light, a luminescence that draws us to it. The light, like the moon, is a reflection of our very own light, our infinite capacity to love. The lunar-like sheen is really a mirror to ourselves, but hardly the essence of what we really are, which is love. That is why Liberal good intentions sugarcoat the black hole with our own reflection, and why the U.S. Democratic Party has grown so powerful. Lucifer is not called the Bearer of Light for nothing. He basks in the light of reality's love. I say reality because the name of my political party is the Realists 2008. Yes, indeed, "reality" is as close a synonym for our Christian God, as the enemy will be obliged to accept. The opposing parties will say, "Obviously, Mr. Moriarty, your image of reality and ours differ greatly." ...Ooookay. I'm not in disagreement with his comments on Trudeau, socialism, the UN, or the unfortunate hard-left direction taken by the Democratic Party; but, wow, that's some nice crazy, in his tone and bizarre hyperbole. However entertaining Moriarty may be, he's no asset to the side of anyone vying for electability. (Via The Shotgun.)

The more we find, the less we see

It's sad, really, to see this kind of heavy-handed overreach in the exceptionally petty cause of preventing spoilers. Vancouver — Harry Potter's Canadian publisher has obtained a court injunction barring anyone from leaking the plot of the latest chapter in the mega best-selling book series on the eve of its publication. Raincoast Books of Vancouver, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC of Britain and author J.K. Rowling were granted a so-called “John and Jane Dow” injunction Saturday in B.C. Supreme Court. It restrains anyone who has directly or indirectly received a copy or any other form of disclosure of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from disclosing all or any information from the book before 12:01 a.m. next Saturday. The book's authorized publicity machine is, of course, exempted. The court order also calls for anyone who's received unauthorized material from the book, sixth in the series, to turn it in to the publishers and delete any electronic copies. One word: Ha. I predict that details will be leaked regardless, and likely in a distributed or anonymous fashion that'll make it nigh-impossible for the publishers to press for damages. In fact, I hope that leaks happen purely to frustrate such inane PR micromanagement; I don't really care, myself. Sure, I'll read the new one, but I haven't been sitting on my hands just waiting for its release. But that's beside the point. The significant thing is, if there's information to be had, the hard-core fans will find out; it's only those in the general public, who might not care unless hearing interesting pre-release buzz in non-niche media, that'll be affected. What contempt, for both loyal and casual customers of the franchise alike.

You cannot choose but to lose control

What a terrible thing it is to lose one's mind, or to not have a mind at all: A BBC roundup of various European press opinions on Luxembourg voting yes to the EU Constitution over the weekend. Germany's Frankfurter Rundschau says those who declared the constitution dead after the French and Dutch "no" votes have been proved wrong. "Although the European Constitutional Treaty has not been saved yet by Luxembourg's 'yes' it has been granted a breathing space and a new chance," the paper says. [...] Germany's Berliner Zeitung emphasizes the "symbolic value" of the result. The paper suggests that the Luxembourg vote may signal a shift in Europe's mood, which may enable Denmark, Poland, Ireland and "even Britain" to put their referendums back on the agenda. "Apparently the French and the Dutch 'no', which some regarded as the beginning of the end of the EU, was a snapshot of the situation rather than the last word," it says. [...] The Madrid daily El Pais agrees the constitution's future is still, as it puts it, "extremely uncertain". With Luxembourg a great beneficiary of integration - home to key institutions and enjoying the EU's highest per capita income - it is surprising as many as 40 per cent voted against the treaty, it says. I understand the contempt many of the EU's political elites feel for their supposed constituents, and the prevailing feeling that some things are just too important to be left to those horrid ignoramuses of the public in a free vote, but...wow. Claiming some kind of victory over Luxembourg, after France and the Netherlands rejected it? 2500 square kilometres and less than 500,000 people? 55% disapproval from one of the largest EU members is balanced by 55% approval from one of the smallest? I suppose some democracy is felt to be acceptable by sneering EUrocrats, so long as it's exercised by a sufficiently small number of the Goodthinkful, as an example to the rest of us dullards.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Let our worth define our roles

This isn't a great headline, considering the circumstances: "Diverse shuttle crew is poised to put US back in space." JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, TEXAS – There's an Air Force test pilot, a triathlete, a Japanese engineer, a lead guitarist in a rock band, an Aussie named Andy, and a scientist from Queens who holds seven patents. And wrangling them all together is the commander they call "mom." These are the astronauts of shuttle Discovery - America's "return to space" crew. Most of them have been working together on this mission for years, becoming one of the best-prepared shuttle crews in history. They've also had longer than most to bond. That's because the majority of the group was one month away from liftoff when their ride to the International Space Station, the shuttle Columbia, disintegrated over east Texas Feb. 1, 2003. Since then, NASA has been studied from the inside out, its purpose questioned, and its mission restructured. I can't find it now, but I recall - during coverage of the Columbia disaster - some talking head or another (I want to say Katie Couric, but Google's giving me nothing) seeming to be most upset not at what the accident itself meant in terms of NASA's long-term plans, national morale, or the like, but instead the fact that the lost crew were a "United Nations in space," being appropriately Officially Diverse for her taste. It would be unfortunate to see echoes of that attitude still, the premise that American space policy should be a PR exercise in demonstrating just how Diverse a crew can be picked. The only question NASA should ask is if each crewmember is best in their field; nothing else matters. If that ends up making a crew that could be the wackily mismatched cast of a bad reality show, fine; if they're all thirtysomething white guys with crewcuts, that's fine too. Indeed, reading further into the article, it's clear that NASA's policy is to compose a team to accomplish specific tasks with specific skills. The headline is something of a misnomer, then, because it uses the term "diverse" properly, in a way that newspaperspeak rarely does. Instead of being used as a code word for "employing as many women and visible minorities as possible without regard for other qualifications," as usually employed in description of a team or group, it actually speaks to the diversity of skills required for Discovery's upcoming mission. I'm not sure whether to fault the CSM for using a word easily misinterpreted, due to decades of subtly massaging definitions, or the code word-users themselves, for causing this kind of second-guessing. (Or myself, for being led into accepting that definition.)

You may look the other way; we can try to understand

This seems to stand out, in an article on DND Chief Rick Hillier re-emphasizing that Canada is as likely as any other western nation to be targeted by terrorists: Right after news of the London terrorist attacks reached Canada, the country's 24-hour emergency preparedness system kicked in, said officials. But government officials were just as quick to reassure Canadians that Ottawa had not received information about threat of an attack on Canadian soil. "Let's be clear, Canada is not actively the object of any terrorist threats," Prime Minister Paul Martin said Thursday from Gleneagles, Scotland where he was when the attacks occurred. Well, that's not quite true. What the PM meant to say (I hope) is that there are no immediate and credible threats in the offing; Canada is an active target, just as much as the US, Britain, France, Spain, Germany, et al, for the heresy of not immediately submitting to the barbaric and medieval death cult that is militant Islam. Canada may be a Lesser Satan, only a junior (and often intransigent) associate of the putative Zionist-Crusader Conspiracy our collective enemies imagine, but the fact that we are - relatively - a free and open society, in itself, makes us a target. That being the case, and any policy decisions he actually makes aside, I fear Martin's off-the-cuff remarks are a reflexive product of (and will only serve to generally reinforce) the belief that Canada isn't important enough to be targeted, that the national equivalent of keeping one's head down and pulling a Sergeant Schultz-esque "I see nothing!" is a viable option. It's a shame that that isn't true, because an awful lot of Canadians are going to go on believing it regardless.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Be wary of who you accuse

"I didn't mean to hurt people's feelings." And yet, convicted of hate speech, David Ahenakew doesn't seem very sorry. On having his Order of Canada membership tentatively revoked: "This, of course, was the direct result of the pressure put on the (Governor General's) advisory committee by some of the Jewish community, including a letter-writing campaign and the lobbying by the Canadian Jewish Congress," he said at a news conference. Sigh. For some people, The Joooooos are always out to get them. Moreover, that's such a pathological thing, I still don't see how no one ever saw any inkling of this coming from Ahenakew before recently. He received the Order of Canada in 1978 for being a "member of a United Nations committee and of the World Indigenous Peoples Council." Is it possible, perhaps, that either or both bodies were aware of his antisemitic tendencies, and didn't care...or, worse, saw nothing objectionable about his irrational blame-fantasies? (Turtle Bay, I'm looking at you...)

Blow by blow, we defy you

It is, of course, not news that Canada remains another potential terrorist target. Yesterday's bombings in London, coupled with the attacks on the United States, Spain and Australia (through the Bali nightclub bombings), may increase the likelihood of Canada becoming a target for terror. Although it is not yet proved that an al-Qaeda group was responsible for yesterday's destruction, Canada is now one of a dwindling number of nations named as a target by Osama bin Laden that has not been directly hit. "Human targets sorted by level of importance," reads a list in the al-Battar Military Manual, a training manual masterminded by Saif al-Adel, one of al-Qaeda's most senior leaders, and distributed to supporters over the Internet. Jewish targets top the list. Then, in a separate category called "the Christians," the manual states: "The grades of importance are as follows: 1. Americans, 2. British, 3. Spaniards, 4. Australians, 5. Canadians, 6. Italians." With yesterday's attack, the first four countries on the list have all been targeted. Canada was also directly named by bin Laden in an audio address warning the U.S.'s allies. Canada - like every other nation on that list - would be a target for Islamist terrorists regardless of any current geopolitical machinations. The tipoff to that should be in exactly what the list is called: "The Christians." (And as a corollary, the higher-priority list of targets for mass murder being entirely Jewish.) No one content to plot killing hundreds or thousands based upon mere religion cares that Canada is perpetually in opposition to US foreign policy; frankly, we all look the same to them, as nations composed largely of infidel Christians or infidel secularists. I believe, contrary to what the expert interviewed maintains, that Canada will eventually be a target. Terrorism isn't conducted as a worldwide zero-sum game; there isn't a single Al-Qaeda, Inc. that has a finite amount of resources to use in different countries, but a huge number of plotters, sympathizers, and killers sharing common cause. Regardless of whether or not it can make major news, some in Canada will, at some point, manage to pull something off. It may not be spectacular, involving complex timing and cable-news-friendly graphic imagery, but it'll happen. When it does, we'll face the same test that Britain faces now, that Australia has already passed and Spain failed: What is important to us? Freedom and liberty, no matter what the cost? Or supplication to a host of madmen, in order to not too greatly further enrage those who already de facto despise everything about us?