July 06, 2004

Canadians in Afghanistan

July 6 - When the US asked Canada to to extend the tour of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan so they could help provide security during that country's September elections, the answer was "no."

There is a critical lessons in this, one which is especially relevant for Americans who believe that having the U.N. and/or NATO inolved would therefore bring significantly increased military assets: while we do gain more "allies" who demand a voice at the table, they won't or can't commit military or monetarily to do what it takes to see the mission through.

Major-General Lewis MacKenzie (ret.) explains real reasons behind the Canadian refusal (Political excuses disarm military morale):

Unfortunately, it was left to a junior Defence department spokesman to explain why Canada would not agree to the U.S. request: "What the Americans are looking for is not exactly what our troops are trained for."

This need not have been such a highly embarrassing admission, as it is blatantly untrue. There are reasons why our contingent is incapable of taking on such a role, but it has nothing to do with a lack of training. On the contrary, they are the best-trained troops for such a mission in the multinational force.


Regrettably, a considerable degree of inflexibility was built into the organization of the Canadian contingent and a very un-Canadian solution was chosen.

It was decided that the soldiers would live in a large encampment with creature comforts previously unknown and deemed unnecessary on other missions -- Internet cafe, exercise tents, individual living compartments, a sewer and water system, extensive air-conditioning, etc.

Despite the fact that Afghanistan qualified as an operational theatre, civilian contractors were brought in to run the logistics support system for the soldiers. Meals, accommodation, ammunition control, overall maintenance of vehicles and equipment were all centralized in a static civilian component that could not deploy outside of Kabul.

Erroneously assuming that the Canadian mission to Afghanistan would not change and that the umbilical chord to the civilian supply system would always be available, the infantry battalion was required to leave behind in Canada its own internal supply capability provided by its service support company -- which normally provides the services offered by the civilian contractors in a more austere manner, but is considerably more flexible and mobile and can deploy into high-risk areas.

I can appreciate that our government might not want to respond positively to the recent U.S. request. To do so would mean that we would take on an expanded role that would see our soldiers move throughout Afghanistan during the election process to confront any attempts to interfere with the democratic process.

Any increased support for the United States during the current election would be seen as a negative for the government, given its anti-U.S. Iraq policy rhetoric.

When National Defence was told to come up with an excuse for us not agreeing to the U.S. request for us to rejoin the war against terror, the response should not have been that our troops were not trained for such a role. An honest -- but politically unacceptable -- response would have gone something like this:

"Sorry, the need to find more savings in our defence budget forced us to contract out the logistics support for our soldiers to a static civilian organization and that restricts them to operations less than 70 km from Kabul. We also have a massive administration and security overhead in Kabul, which means that out of our 2,000 personnel, only about 300 are available for taking any potential fight to the enemy. That reality is extremely unfortunate because the 3 R22eR soldiers in their light infantry role would be as good as any elite unit in the world at tracking down and eliminating the terrorists who would threaten the election process and the security of Afghanistan. They spend most of their time training for such a task and would prefer it to patrolling the streets of Kabul."

The lessons we can learn from this are: (1) we should think of our soldiers' morale and pride when politically correct excuses are made for all the world to see; and, (2) we should not fool around with the well-proven organization of an infantry battalion on the assumption that a particular role in a particular mission area will not change. It will, as it should but can't in Afghanistan.

Note that both the U.N. and NATO are in charge in Afghanistan, but aiding in Afghanistan is seen as aiding the USA.

Note also that desiring to influence the American presidential elections is far more important to the Canadian political elite than assisting Afghanistan in holding its elections.

In all likelihood, more terrorist attacks will occur in Afghanistan as the September election nears. Whenever a sombre Canadian broadcaster or politician tut-tuts the death toll and criticizes the US military for inadequate security, remember that Canada could have been part of the solution.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:43 PM | Comments (22)

Militia threatens Zarqawi

July 6 - A new group in Iraq calls itself the Rescue Group and threatens death for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi if he doesn't leave the country:

The Arabic-language TV network Al-Arabiya said it received a taped statement from an organization that calls itself the Rescue Group warning al-Zarqawi and his followers to leave Iraq or face the consequences.

One masked militant read a stamen denouncing the actions by al-Zarqawi and his followers as hurtful to Iraq, particularly the kidnapping of foreigners.

The group has called for the killing of the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi if he doesn't leave Iraq.

Posted by Debbye at 06:34 PM | Comments (1)

Kerry names running mate

July 6 - Sen. John Kerry named Sen. Edwards to share the Democratic ticket this morning in what was probably another big mistake in his campaign.

Edwards shares some key Kerry's weaknesses: no executive experience and a voting record.

Posted by Debbye at 05:50 PM | Comments (1)

July 05, 2004

Fix Bayonets

July 5 - Article in the Sun (UK) about the stirring bayonet charge by British sodliers in Iraq (Army's fearless five:

THE staggering heroism of five British soldiers as they helped rout more than a HUNDRED Iraqi rebels is revealed for the first time today by The Sun.

The men came to the rescue of ambushed comrades — saving their lives with the Army’s first bayonet charge since the Falklands War 22 years ago.

After a bloody battle which raged for four hours at least 28 of the enemy lay dead. Fleeing cohorts are thought to have dragged away at least the same number of bodies.

Just two of Our Boys were slightly wounded. Last night the brave troops — members of the same regiment as the private tipped for a Victoria Cross — told of the desperate fight.

Private Anthony Rushforth, 23, said: “We were pumped up on adrenaline — proper angry. It’s only afterwards you think, ‘Jesus, I actually did that’.”

The terrifying bayonet charge by the members of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment — nicknamed The Tigers — saw trench after trench taken from the enemy.

It was led by Sgt Major Dave Falconer, 36. He said of his men: “I am very proud of them.”

The other heroes were Sgt Chris Broome, 35, and privates John-Claude Fowler, 19 and Matthew Tatawaqa, 23. The men, from C Company, raced to the rescue in Warrior armoured vehicles after an ambush by rebels loyal to rogue Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Two Land Rovers transporting Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders had been pinned down by heavy fire south of Al Amarah, 150 miles from Basra.

As the Warriors arrived, they too were targeted by machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms.

Sgt Major Falconer, from Portsmouth, said: “Our Warriors were vulnerable to attack from the side by the enemy hiding in ditches.

“The only way you can hold ground in that situation is by having boots on it — so that’s what we did.”

That is military-speak for sending in infantry. Private Rushforth, from Southampton, said: “When the order came to dismount and attack, it was just like what we’ve done dozens of times in training.

“We sprinted in ten-metre bursts, then hit the ground to put down some rounds, and then carried on again for the last 30 metres. We broke into pairs and finished off the trench.”

The fight was dubbed the Battle for Danny Boy — after the name of the remote checkpoint where it took place.

FIRST Sgt Maj Falconer’s men defied enemy fire to charge 200 metres across open land.

They leapt into the first trench, killing three enemy with SA80 rifle bullets and “cold steel”. Four were taken prisoner.

THEN they took two further trenches as the Warriors provided covering fire from chain guns and 30mm cannon.

Eight more enemy were killed and four surrendered.

Diehard rebels continued to hold out. FINALLY a Challenger II tank was summoned to blitz their bunker. The five were hailed heroes along with a sixth soldier Lance Corporal Brian Wood. He has since been posted back in Britain.

The last time the Army used bayonets in action was when Scots Guards assaulted Argentinian positions in 1982. Sgt Maj Falconer said: “The lads performed excellently and with the highest professionalism.”

Posted by Debbye at 08:23 PM | Comments (3)

Unite for Freedom in Iran!

Thursday, July 8 (18 Tir), 6-9 p.m.
Mel Lastman Square

Thursday, July 8 (18 Tir) 10 a.m.
In front of the Islamic Republic Embassy located at 245 Metclafe

The above are Canadian sites for demonstrations to be held internationally in solidarity with the people of Iran who yearn for freedom. Times and places for other cities are here, and there will be daily updates here.

July 5 - Roger Simon says it straight out:

How can you not sympathize with people whose home country is under the control of the Mullahs?
Michelle reminds us of what we owe to those who want freedom:
Our freedom is inextricably tied with the freedom of others. We must help all those who want to face the tyrants as our founding fathers did. In order to truly be secure in our freedom, we must make sure that others are also free. And we must, as a tribute to our forefathers who fought and died so we can live like this, help those who struggle to have what we have. If that means just showing support to anyone in any country that is willing to fight for basic human rights, we must do that.
I don't think I'm being overly presumptuous to believe that Canadians can also heartily support this struggle.

The anniversary of the brutal suppression of dissenters by the mullahs on 18 Tir is coming up. The violence after the frauldulent elections last winter was part of this ongoing struggle.

Canadian Zahra Kazemi died in the cause of freedom for Iran.

Iran remains a place of secret arrests and torture - last June, an inmate was hung from the ceiling by his hands for hours and the hands had to be amputated because they forgot about him.

There is a petition to sign here. It begins with a plea for unity on their behalf:

To: All Freedom-Loving Compatriots (Center, Right and Left)

A Plea For Support & Demonstration Attendance from all Freedom-Loving Activists around the world in our united fight against Terrorists, Islamofascists, and Fanaticism!

This is an invitation to join us in a worldwide demonstration against the Mafia Mullahs, Terrorists, Islamofascists, and Fanatics who intend to stop and kill the spread of FREEDOM, SECULARISM & DEMOCRACY around the World! Our unified presence in a worldwide demonstration will be the biggest blow to the Mafia Mullahs.

Please read it. Please sign it. Please set aside Thursday evening to support these brave men and women in Iran.

Posted by Debbye at 07:33 AM | Comments (3)

Australian digger awarded Bronze Star

July 5 - Australian Colonel Peter (Ted) Acutt was awarded the Bronze Star for exceptionally meritorious service (Digger awarded US war medal).

"He was instrumental in maintaining effective coordination between various coalition military elements, the Coalition Provisional Authority and emerging Iraqi ministries," Mr Brough [Asst. Def. Min. Mal Brough] said in a statement.

"In particular, Colonel Acutt was a strong advocate of cooperative planning for security matters and some of his initiatives have assisted the transition to Iraqi sovereignty."

Well done, Colonel. Deepest respects and gratitude to you and the other valiant Australians.

Posted by Debbye at 05:55 AM | Comments (2)

French immigration to Israel rising

July 5 - From the Sunday Times - Israel Sees a Surge in Immigration by French Jews, but Why?:

JERUSALEM, July 1 - More French Jews have been immigrating to Israel or buying properties here as potential havens, and the Israelis and the French are debating whether the trend is a result of a surge in anti-Semitic attacks in France or just a cyclical oddity.

The Jewish Agency, the quasi-governmental body responsible for settling immigrants, reported a doubling in the number of French Jews who arrived last year and in 2002, to more than 2,000 each year, compared with about 1,000 a year in the previous three years. By contrast, worldwide immigration to Israel has sharply declined during the Arab-Israeli violence.

Michael Jankelowitz, a spokesman for the Jewish Agency, said that as a result of attacks against Jews in France in the past three years, many Jews, particularly those whose religion is evident from their clothes, were feeling increasingly uneasy. Much of the tension has centered in working-class suburbs of Paris where Jews and Muslims mingle.

Gérard Araud, the French ambassador to Israel, played down the influx, suggesting in an interview that emigration is cyclical. He noted that during the "golden years" of quiet after the Oslo accords between Israel and the Palestinians, there were years when the number of French Jews who immigrated to Israel was quite high, once hitting 1,800. "It's a flow, not a flight," he said.

He also contended that there had been as many anti-Semitic incidents per capita in Italy and Belgium, but that France got the most attention because of its larger Jewish population.

You ever notice how some people just don't know when to shut up? I guess he couldn't help himself:
He also noted that most recent attacks had been by North African Muslims angered over Israeli treatment of Palestinians ...
The French Ambassador to Israel says that it's Israel's fault that French Jews are being attacked by not really French North African Muslims. Isn't French diplomacy amazing?
... and therefore could not be linked to historical incidents of French anti-Semitism like the Dreyfus affair or the Vichy government's collaboration with the Nazis.
More cynical types might think that the failure of the real French to stand solidly beside their Jewish compatriots today is extremely reminiscent of the Vichy government's collaboration with the Nazis ...

Thank you, M Araud, for making the case as to why Jews feel a compelling need for a defensible homeland.

Posted by Debbye at 02:48 AM | Comments (0)

US obtained Sampson's release?

July 5 - Canadian Sampson believes he was freed as part of Saudi-U.S. terror deal:

OTTAWA (CP) - The tale of Bill Sampson, a Canadian jailed fort (sic) 31 months and accused of terrorism and murder in Saudi Arabia, has taken another bizarre twist with a claim that he finally won his freedom last year in a prisoner exchange brokered by the United States.

In return for the release of Sampson and other westerners held in Riyadh, the Americans agreed to send five Saudi terror suspects they had captured back to their homeland, the New York Times reported Sunday. The Canadian government had no immediate comment, other than to say it was looking into the matter.

Sampson, in a telephone interview from Penrith, Britain, where he now makes his home, said he's convinced the story is correct.

"It confirms information that I have found from different sources myself over the last nine months," he said.


"It's my information that the Saudis themselves broached the idea of an exchange," said Sampson.

"We were used from the very, very outset as hostages, and this had been deliberate from the start, to use us as a means of leverage against western governments."

The Times, quoting anonymous U.S. and British officials, said the prisoner exchange that finally freed Sampson was engineered by Robert Jordan, the American ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

The deal was controversial in Washington, where some officials thought the U.S. was taking too big a risk by releasing potentially dangerous terrorist suspects from Guantanamo, said the newspaper.

But the Americans reportedly went ahead because they wanted to help British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a loyal ally in the war then shaping up in Iraq.

Blair's government had been trying to win the release of six Britons held along with Sampson, who is a dual Canadian-British citizen. Also held was Belgian Raf Schveyns.

All were arrested following a series of bombings in Riyadh that westerners claimed were the work of al-Qaida terrorists and the Saudis claimed were part of a turf war among western bootleggers involved in the illicit alcohol trade.

All eight westerners were finally set free in August 2003, three months after the five Guantanamo prisoners were sent home to Saudi Arabia.

Sampson said the Belgian documents, obtained and shown to him by Schveyns following their release, indicate that diplomats in Riyadh were worried about the three-month time lag.

Very, very intriguing.

05:12: CNN is carrying the story. The Saudis say the report is "pure fantasy" and US National Security Spokesman Sean McCormack said there was "no recollection here of any linkage between these two actions."

Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.-D) is very worried about the release of the Gitmo prisoners and thinks there was undue influence by the Saudis, but his comments had nothing to do with the upcoming presidential campaign because CNN doesn't connect the two.

[Read on to see what kind of "influence" was being exerted, and I apologize to Canadians and the British for the indifferent CNN coverage]

The Daily Telegraph (UK) takes an entirely different slant:

United States officials yesterday accused Saudi Arabia of demanding - and receiving - the release of Saudi terrorist suspects from Guantanamo Bay as the secret price for last year's diplomatic deal to release six Britons accused of a deadly bombing campaign.

The allegations, levelled by senior American officials in the New York Times, cast new light on what was already one of the murkiest episodes in Saudi-British relations.

The six Britons and one British-born Canadian returned home last August after a bizarre two-year ordeal that saw them accused of plotting a string of bombings that ended in the death of a fellow Briton in late 2000.

Though western residents and diplomats insisted that the bombings were the work of Islamic militants, Saudi authorities claimed that the bombs were the result of a feud between foreign bootleggers, illegally selling alcohol within the expatriate community.

The seven confessed to a variety of "crimes", but later retracted their confessions. They have since launched a High Court legal action naming high-ranking Saudi leaders, saying they were tortured into false confessions as Saudi authorities tried to cover up the existence of al-Qa'eda terrorists in the kingdom.

Two men, Sandy Mitchell and a Canadian, William Sampson, were sentenced to public beheading, four were sentenced to 12-year jail terms and the seventh was detained for 10 months but not charged. They were all granted clemency last summer and were released three weeks later after signing a letter apologising to King Fahd and thanking his subjects for their hospitality. (Emphasis added.)

When they arrived in Britain, credit was given to British Government pressure and to the Prince of Wales, who made a private plea for clemency to the de facto Saudi ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah.


One American source described as knowledgeable about the negotiations told the New York Times: "This presented itself as a way for the United States to help its friends, both the Brits and the Saudis. It's what diplomacy is all about."

A spokesman for the Foreign Office in London declined to confirm or deny US involvement in brokering the three-way deal, saying: "We worked very hard to secure the release of the men, and were relieved when they were released."

That's more like it.

Posted by Debbye at 02:25 AM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2004


13 star US flag.gif

The first official flag of the 13 united States of America

July 4 - It has become depressingly commonplace to assign strictly mercenary motives to the struggle for independence from Mother England, and thus to shrug off any reverence we may accord those who signed the Declaration of Independence. But that casual dismissal is often self-serving: after all, it is easier to disrespect occurrences and events that have strictly pecuniary motives, (e.g., it's all about the oil!,) than to to disrespect those same things when they are driven by ideals, optimism, and confidence in ourselves and our fellow man (a free and properous Iraq.)

I've come to believe that people's theories often say more about them than about those theories which are supposed to explain historical events. That's a relativist theory of another sort, but a much more uncomfortable one due to the degree of self-honesty it demands.

It's not my purpose to argue those points today. I can only account for my beliefs, my viewpoints, and my opinions, and at the risk of sounding incredibly arrogant, I don't have to justify them to anyone especially today.

Reverence for stability didn't gain independence. Reverence for stability didn't cause us to wonder what was over the next mountain, build the Erie Canal, or send us to Alaska and the moon. Something else did, something that combines curiosity with audacity and faith in our ability to find ways and means to our goals.

I've posted the text of the Declaration in the post below, and I just want to quote the closing passage:

... we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
High-minded, lofty declaration, right? It sounds somewhat melodramatic and over-the-top to today's ears, but less so when we recall that they literally meant it.

Had they been captured or the revolution failed, they would have been disgraced and stripped of their honor as traitors; their property would have been confiscated; and they would have been hung like dogs.

As far as I'm concerned, no one has the right to sneer at those men unless they themselves face the same risks for making similar declarations, and nobody, and I mean nobody, living in the USA faces similar punishment. There are, however, many living in the USA today who left their native lands because they faced such punishment, and we've welcomed them in part out of respect for our forefathers.

I used the word audacity earlier. I love that word: it's impish, irreverent, and conveys all that is best and dearest about human beings. It forms the American character, and has led to our greatest triumphs and most humiliating defeats. But part of an individual's character is revealed by which of the two frame their actions and part of our struggle today is the degree to which we remain audacious.

My answer is pretty clear. I won't apologize for anything any more than any other country need apologize, and if we've made mistakes (and I know we have) it is part of the human condition to err. What I don't accept is that it is part of the human condition to stay in those moments of failure; it is rather our obligation to continue to stride forward with renewed purpose and determination.

Including those endowments names in the Declaration, I hold some other truths to be self-evident:

Your rights end where the other fellow's nose begins;

All everybody wants is some elbow room;

Mr. Colt made all men equal;

Rude people fight indoors and polite people step outside;

If I don't wanna see Farenheit 911, I don't gotta; and

I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it (but don't yell "Fire!" in a crowded theatre, incite to riot, or argue balls and strikes 'cuz the First Amendment won't save your ass from being tossed.)

We are regarded by many of our friends as simplistic, rustic, arrogant, overly religious mongrels.

Granted, our friends have some valid points. We haven't mastered the art of nuance, tending more to say what we mean and mean what we say. I guess we would get along better if we obscured phrased our words so as to render them devoid of any real meaning, but that offends our notion of honesty so we're stuck with being honest.

We understand complicated theories and arguments all right, but we also know when arguments and theories are made unnecessarily complicated and can smell out a rat or a pompous ass.

We really do try to be cynical, worldly and sophisticated, but our innate cheerfulness and optimism keep bubbling up despite ourselves because we've learned that hard work brings its own rewards and that, if you fail, you can pull up your socks and try again.

The biggest sin is self-pity. Just stop whining and get on with the work at hand. If, however, you choose to laugh at your pratfall, I'll cheer you up by telling you about my own most embarrassing moments. That's what friends are for.

We just can't help remembering that there is a benevolent deity up there. We implore His guidance every 7th inning, we offer up an involuntary prayer for the safety of a missing child, we thank Him for small and large events, and we affirm that our flag, currency and Supreme Court are connected to Him in mysterious ways.

Many of us are not that many generations away from rural areas. We could try harder to develop a better sense of self-entitlement, but that conflicts with our rustic notions of an honest day's work for an honest dollar. (We also believe that some money is "dirty.")

We're rather proud of the fact that we've managed to cobble together a nation of people who have ideas in common rather than bloodlines, so I guess that does make us mongrels.

But again, we are close enough to our rural roots to recognize that in-breeding makes for poor stock.

Someday, we may be more philosophical when our elected or appointed officials are caught with their hands in the till, but we are still so immature as to demand accountability for our tax dollars because we went to a lot of trouble to put checks in place to keep those people honest.

That's another problem too: we just can't seem to forget that every penny some call the government's money came out of our pockets. In fact, we still think of it as our money and demand that it be spent with care. (Don't blame our leaders for that; they have tried really hard to convince us that our money belongs to them, but we're a little bull-headed on some things.)

We really don't like government in any way, shape or form, and a standing joke remains some suit walking up and saying I'm from the government and I'm here to help you. We are extremely critical of our own government but try keep our criticisms of other nation's governments to ourselves because it's the polite thing to do. When we do began to openly criticize them, we're sending a signal that many fail to catch.

We refuse to assign our futures to an elite - in fact, we get downright hostile to the very notion of an elite - but we have genuine affection for the selfsame British Royal Family that we waged a war of independence to be free of. (I think they're a little fond of us, too.)

We cherish our wild and colorful cowboy past. We are incredibly sentimental. Our national heritage includes a cracked bell, and we literally had to drain a swamp to build our capitol city.

We know Charleton Heston didn't part the Red Sea, but we secretly suspect that if God wanted anyone to do it today, He'd first offer the job to Chuck.

Our cultural identity is littered with phrases like WE, the People, You and what army, It's Miller time, A/OK, Buffy and Angel 4ever, Scotty beam me up, In God we trust; everyone bring cash, and you can pry this gun from my cold, dead hands.

We've added to these phrases over the years, most recently including Let's roll and bring it on. (Even the allowed and disallowed uses of the F-word are finally being codified, due in large part to the efforts of V-P Cheney and Charles Krauthammer. Stay tuned as this vital issue continues to be debated.)

The word "submission" isn't in our emotional vocabulary, but we not only understand the concept of payback, we even issue upgrades. (At the time of this writing, there are contradictory reports about Marine Corporal Hassoun, but I continue to pray for him.)

So Happy Birthday, America, and thank you for your gifts of freedom, optimism, and self-confidence. May God bless and watch over the brave men and women who guard the walls, and make us worthy of their sacrifices.

(An excellent July 4th prayer is by Dr. Sensing here, by the way.)

I also want to send my most amiable regards this day to our fine friends and allies in Mother England's other wayward child, Australia, as they celebrate Reserve Forces Day there (link via the esteemed Reverend Pixy.)

Updated to recommend some wonderful posts:

Michele's stands tall and true for liberty everywhere, and most especially in Iran this week.

Aaron tells what happened to those signatories of the Declaration of Independence - some of them did fall into British hands, and others were wounded or killed during the war. Read it.

What follows is a personal account of this American living in Toronto.

I requested - in writing - to book off July 4 several weeks ago. My boss asked me why I would be willing to forgo a day's pay, and I was stuck for an answer.

It wasn't that I didn't have an answer (I had, in fact, several) but that my initial response was irritation at the question itself. After all, don't I live in multicultural, ethnic-diversity-proud, government-funded-heritage-program-happy Canada? Isn't everyone supposed to honour the traditions and celebrations of their native lands?

So I simply said that I feel obliged to honour this day in celebration of the courage and determination of my ancestors who stepped off a leaky boat onto a primitive land, built lives and property, then decided to risk everything on a long shot.

She looked at me as though I was nuts and it hit me anew that my ancestors were also nuts. And glorious.

Posted by Debbye at 06:44 PM | Comments (3)

The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For protecting them by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren.

We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.
We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here.
We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.
They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare.

That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown

and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved;

and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce,

and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.


Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntingtonv William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton

John Hancock
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Matthew Thornton

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Posted by Debbye at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2004

Iraqi Official investigating UNSCAM killed

July 3 - Followed a link from Instapundit to a Washington Times article in which Paul Bremer denies trying to block the investigation into the UN Oil-for-Food (Bremer says charge of blocking oil-for-food probe 'nonsense'):

In April, Mr. Bremer cut short a probe begun by Mr. Chalabi, who was chairman of the council's finance committee, and the international accounting firm KPMG. He said in the interview he wanted the investigation to be run by the Board of Supreme Audit, an independent body of auditors which had operated during Saddam's reign.

The audit board then held its own expedited bid process, awarding the bulk of the investigation work to Ernst & Young, another major international accounting firm, on May 13.

Then over over to Friends of Saddam to read their analysis but was hit broadside with this:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi official heading the investigation into alleged corruption in the United Nations oil-for-food program was killed in a bomb attack earlier this week, officials familiar with the probe said on Saturday.

Ihsan Karim, head of the Board of Supreme Audit, died in hospital after a bomb placed under one of the cars in his convoy exploded on Thursday, the officials said.

Posted by Debbye at 02:54 PM | Comments (0)

Don Cherry and sensitivity training

Cherry sporting USA tie.jpg

July 3 - Today's news seems determine to bedevil me. I don't have a link for the story, but have a (temporary) link to today's Editorial in the Toronto Sun:

A Kinder, gentler Grapes?

SO, AFTER nearly seven months (!) of intense investigation, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages has determined CBC commentators like Don Cherry need sensitivity training to better understand this country's "linguistic duality."

Actually, as the Sun's Ottawa bureau revealed this week, that's only the preliminary finding by the bureaucrats assigned to probe Cherry's notorious comment that most of the NHL players who wear visors are "Europeans and French guys." We can only imagine how much more time and money will be wasted on producing a final report.

Of course, despite the fact this involves a taxpayer-funded language commission and a taxpayer-funded public broadcaster, there's no guarantee taxpayers will ever see the report, because of the "complainant's right to confidentiality." Well, it should be public. The public paid for it.

But at this point we're not sure what's worse, the fact the office felt it necessary to get involved in this supposed controversy in the first place, or that last week, it felt it necessary to justify its long investigations by putting up a "Frequently Asked Questions" file on its Web site.

"As an ombudsman, the mandate of the commissioner requires her to investigate all matters relating to the equality of status of our two official languages as well as all valid complaints against institutions relating to the Official Languages Act," it says.

To average Canadians, this is money-wasting lunacy at its finest. From the start, it's been unclear to most of us what, if anything, the Cherry controversy had to do with language.

His comment was about visors -- and as it turned out, he was only half right: more than half the visor-wearing players are European, but Quebec-born players (assuming that's what he meant by "French guys," although we're sure the language commissioner would prefer "francophones" or "Quebecois") were on par with the rest of the NHL.

So Cherry's guilty of being insensitive and inaccurate -- big deal. He didn't say French shouldn't be spoken in the NHL. He said nothing about language at all.

But as a result of all of this, some day soon it appears CBC guest commentators and contract employees will be hauled into rooms, told to hold hands and share their feelings about "linguistic duality" -- all thanks to a four-second Grapes gripe about visors.

We can't wait to hear his politically incorrect commentary about this one.

Me neither. Feel free to drop any suggestions for Don in the comment box.

Posted by Debbye at 01:20 PM | Comments (6)

State-run childcare

July 3 - Michael Coren comments on the election results (June 28's dark shadow) and Liberal promises to form a national child care policy. Along the way, Coren defines state-run childcare:

... spend billions so women can go out to work so as to pay taxes so as to pay the salary of other women to look after their children while they go out to work rather than raise their own kids.
Actually, Coren's definition could be even nastier.

The schools and hospitals are in shambles. Most of the money supposedly earmarked for those institutions goes to support staff (read civil servants) and yet we are supposed to trust this culture of ineptitude to provide trustworthy institutions for raising our beloved children?

I remember some of the (seemingly) wilder anti-Communist accusations, such as "they will take away your children and brainwash them."

Well, they aren't bursting into our homes and seizing the children (well, not usually) but they are applying a more insidious pressure on us to surrender our kids: bankruptcy.

And no, they aren't brainwashing them, merely failing to teach them to read and write. Keep them ignorant, eh?

Oh by the way, Ontario, this is the month we begin to pay our extra health care premiums. You may believe that your employer should pay it, but I ask you: who voted the Liberals into power?

There's no such thing as a free lunch. Tanstaafl!

Posted by Debbye at 01:15 PM | Comments (3)

Moore: Truly Ugly American

July 3 - I have already confessed my embarassment that Moore and Nader had the arrogance to speak about the recent elections up here, but it's actually worse than I thought.

According to a CBC item, Moore boosts Kerry, Moore deliberately released his latest movie up here in an attempt to influence the elections:

Moore also wanted his film released before the Canadian election, saying he hoped it would help convince Canadians not to vote for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.
What a bastard. I freaking live here yet I tried to tread carefully out of respect for this country, but he brazenly waltzes up here with the express purpose of sabotaging the electoral process of a sovereign nation. And the stooopid media failed to notice they had been insulted.

That's right: insulted. Moore was worried the foolish Canadians might choose wrongly so hurried to intervene with his peculiar brand of propaganda. I don't know if there's any way to ascertain if he actually influenced the elections, but that's hardly the point. He tried, so where's the righteous indignation?

Oh, that's right. The caring and compassionate left gets a free ride on their numerous violations of decency.

But let's think it through for a fraction of a second. If it's allowable for one wing of American political thought to deliberately intervene in Canadian matters, why isn't it allowable for the other wing? You know, do that fair and balanced thingy we hear so much about?

Suppose, just suppose, that positions were reversed and Canada leaned to the right. A huge scandal and a decade of mismanagement combined to look as though the ruling party was about to be unseated and a Liberal Party voted in, and then some Americans came up here to influence the vote.

You don't even have to speculate as to the reaction (unless you live on Mars ...)

Sen. Kerry, funnily enough, is exhibiting some belated caution as far as Moore is concerned:

Kerry has reportedly not asked Moore to appear at any campaign events (during the Democratic primaries, the filmmaker supported retired general Wesley Clark). According to a campaign spokesperson, it's not known if Kerry has seen the movie yet.
I wonder if Kerry is also keeping his distance from that other kiss-of-death, Al Gore.

(Link via Paul.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:19 AM | Comments (7)

Rome is Western Civilization

July 3 - Excellent post at Expat Yank (you may need to hit "refresh" a few times, darned Blogger) about France, the Roman Empire and the USA:

The assertion that the U.S. is the modern Roman Empire, which must be opposed, is particularly dumbheaded.

The U.S. is NOT the "new" Roman Empire, as if that Roman Empire were only the U.S. Even with all their variety today, societies which have evolved out of the real, historical Rome -- examples include possessing all of the readily identifiable likes of the following (and more than anyone could hope to fit into a blog post): a professional military; a governing class; rule of law; a government that is relatively secular and regularly employs words like "senator" without thinking from where such words came; intervenes in the economy; is not adverse to wine; speaks a Latin-based language, or one greatly influenced by Latin; and is a country that, above all else, has an overall, Christian religious ethos (even if churchgoing is sporadic at best)-- share the same heritage. In short, the "Roman Empire" is today's "Western Civilization", and vice-versa, you moron.

So to note stupidly that the "Roman Empire" is someone else, and does not include today's France (and Europeans opposed to the U.S.) is to display remarkable -- and remarkably arrogant -- ignorance.

Great post, and good use of a quote from Tacitus.

Posted by Debbye at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)

James "Scotty" Doohan diagnosed with Alzheimer's

July 3 - Ith has sad news: James Doohan, the actor who portrayed Scotty in Star Trek, is Battling Alzheimer's.

He will appear at a Trek convention in August to bid farewell.

According to his page at imdb, he was born in Vancouver in 1920. The article says he was a D-Day warrior:

"If you ask him about D-Day, he'll go on about an hour about D-Day," Chris Doohan said.

A native of Canada, James Doohan fought, and was wounded, in that historic World War II battle as a captain in the Royal Canadian Artillery.

I was thinking about how cruel that disease is, but then none of them are particularly kind.

July 4 - 21:49: Mike posts how Doohan lost a finger on that battlefield. I can't believe this isn't more widely known.

July 7 - 07:33: Here is a permenent link.

Posted by Debbye at 08:22 AM | Comments (2)

July 02, 2004

The real Minutemen of Iraq

July 2 - I saw the interview with Scott Erwin early this morning on CNN and am pleased to note that much of it is available at the CNN website (American forever indebted to Iraqi friend.)

Key quote:

While in a state of shock, Erwin said he remembered feeling deep disappointment and sadness for the loss of Col. Mohammed's life, because he had a family -- a wife and two children.

He said he thought about how Col. Mohammed "would never get to see a prosperous Iraq, which he always talked about and he always dreamed about."

That's the real outrage: that the terrorists are determined to kill those who want to build a free and prosperous Iraq. It's also the true mark of heroism: that so many Iraqis persist despite the real and present danger to themselves for the terrible crime of having hope and optimism.

It's not often I recommend anyone read an entire CNN item, but this is a worth while read.

A good companion piece is this entry from Army Specialist Joe Roche of the 16th Engineering Battalion of the lst Armored Division here. An excerpt:

The 1st Armored Division, of which the 16th Engineers are a part, led the charge against Muqtada Al-Sadr's uprising. The 16th was in the front in all this in Karbala, Najaf, Kufa and Baghdad. And contrary to the negative news coverage, the reality is that we have won some major victories that are having dramatic impact region-wide. I don't think most Americans are aware of the seriousness of the threats we confronted and defeated.

Sadr's Mahdi Army was backed by extensive foreign fighters and a huge amount support. Iran's formidable Al-Quds Army (named for the conquest of Jerusalem, Israel) directly assisted their attacks against us. They trained some 1,200 of Sadr's fighters at three camps they ran along the Iran-Iraq border at Qasr Shireen, 'Ilam, and Hamid. This was backed by what one Iranian defector to us has said was $70 million dollars a month given by Iranian agents to our enemies -- from which Sadr's forces were directly funded in just the past few months by up to $80 million more. The Iranian Embassy distributed some 400 satellite phones in Baghdad to Sadr's forces, while 2,700 apartments and rooms were rented in Karbala and Najaf as safe houses. Sadr's ability to influence the Iraqi people was further enhanced by 300 "reporters" and "technicians" working for his newspaper, radio and television networks -- persons who are actually members of the Al-Quds Army and Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.

We also faced Chechen snipers in Sadr's forces who were being paid anywhere from $500 to $10,000, depending on differing accounts, for each American soldier they hit. One sniper hit five soldiers in less then a minute-and-a-half, killing one with a shot in the neck. These mercenaries were sending this money back to Al-Qaeda-allied guerrillas in Chechnya to fight the Russians.

Hit the pause button. Replay that last paragraph. It's going to be very easy for some to dismiss Spc. Roche's statement, but I can help wondering if it's yet another manifestation of what State Sec. Powell termed a nexus of terrorism.

There are some who will never be convinced that our best course was to take the fight to the enemy. They whine that they are in more danger now than before, but they have already been proven to be poor students of history, as this list makes clear.

Personally, I never felt safer. I'm going to die someday, and only the how and the when are questionable. But there is something so uplifting about fighting back instead of cowering under the bed that I just wish I was one of those "old soldiers" being recalled to duty.

Hmm, there is a Tolkien reference in there. It's from The Silmarillion, and addresses how the Numenorean civilization began to decay because it became motivated by the fear of death rather than the joy of life.

Posted by Debbye at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

BBC watch

July 1 - Robert at Expat Yank concludes that the BBC is bored with Iraq and that accounts for their sudden interest in what they perceive as sudden US interest in the Sudan, but rest assured, the BBC comes up with the usual suspects starting with the Oil (or maybe it should be oiiilll!!!.)

Robert calls the BBC on their dimestore punditry. One excerpt:

One is the pressure from right-wing Christian groups in the US, who have taken up the cause of their fellow Christians in Sudan.

Their nagging - on the issues of slavery and the forcible imposition of Sharia law - helped get sanctions imposed on Sudan in 1997. . .

"Nagging"? She actually wrote, "nagging." Well, darn it, but slavery and sharia tend to make the open-minded, democratic and, yes, even "right-wing Christians", a bit tense. It might even lead some to "nag" . . . and one would think that might be a tad understandable.
But never fear, the BBC belatedly edited (without comment and admission) the word nagging to the far less shrewish word lobbying. Aren't they special?

It is getting harder and harder to keep up with the BBC. Since the item clearly indicates annoyance with (and perhaps even condemnation of) the nagging lobbying of the right-wing Christians on the issues of slavery and sharia in Sudan, does that mean the BBC is pro-slavery? Or maybe that they are willing to tolerate slavery as an expression of diversity?

Oh well, the BBC got all bases covered for whatever happens in Sudan. It will be about the oil, right-wing Christians, and cited as another failure in Bush diplomacy (but not U.N. diplomacy. Never that.)

(Note that the BBC item was written before Annan's visit to the hastily abandoned refugee camp in Sudan.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:05 PM | Comments (2)

Pin-point brevity

July 2 - Accidental Verbosity sums up the current situation succinctly:

You know, I hate to sound melodramatic, but the way I figure it we're more or less engaged in a struggle for the future of Western Civilization here. We take one path and live happily ever after, we take the other and we get to play Dark Ages again.
Read the whole post.

(Link via Ith.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:45 PM | Comments (6)

Not for the squeamish (Udated)

July 2 - Ith has shattered my complacency: Just When You Think You've Heard Everything you find that you were wrong.

SEVERAL members of the US House of Representatives have requested the United Nations to send observers to monitor the November 2 US presidential election to avoid a contentious vote as in 2000, when the outcome was decided by Florida.
Read the whole thing.

July 4 - 19:45: Baldilocks did some digging and has their names and political affiliations here as follows:

Joseph Crowley (D-NY-07)
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-07)
Danny Davis (D-IL-07)
Corrine Brown (D-FL-03)
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-14)
Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-08)
Michael Honda (D-CA-15)
Elijah Cummings (D-MD-07)
Julia Carson (D-IN-07)
Edolphus Towns (D-NY-10)

Commenter Dex wins the door prize, by the way, for having correctly guessed that Corrine Brown was among those who made the request.

Posted by Debbye at 05:38 PM | Comments (5)

Cocaine found on CSL ship

July 2 - I thought this was a joke when I first read about it, but it is true: Cocaine hidden on Martin ship named for his wife, the Sheila Ann. (The ship is named after his wife, not the cocaine.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:12 PM | Comments (3)

Which way are the rafts headed?

July 2 - Bill Whittle recently suggested that we observe "which way the rafts are headed" when we read and hear America-bashers. His point was that the immense numbers of people trying to get into the USA by any and all means - including those that prove fatal - effectively rebutts the hysterical claims of those who claim we and our country are hated by everyone in the world. He makes the further point that not many people are anxious to move to Cuba or the Mid-east, demonstrating that this test also works in reverse.

There are also some Canadian statistics on cross-border immigration which, as Peaktalk notes, may well have had an effect in the recent election up here.

Kate brings this full circle in Voting With Their Feet using those statistics to indicate in which direction the rafts are headed and that immigration numbers between Canada and the USA are a verifiable reality check on the propaganda claims by the Liberal Party of Canadian superiority.

Posted by Debbye at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

Bill Cosby

July 2 - One of the terrific things about the Shotgun is the ready access to good posts that say what I meant to say.

A case in point: Spinkiller's musings over Bill Cosby's challenge to black Americans to take back their dignity and futures, and his reflections that Cosby's words are relevant to everyone who has adopted victimhood status.

Victims are people who can't win. Is that the legacy you want for your children, or do you want them to stand tall?

Read the whole thing. If more people start to re-examine the racism and patronizing attitudes that are too often shielded by words like "compassion and caring," maybe we can begin to stop the kind of emasculation that is being promoted by the politics of victimhood.

Any other South Park fans thinking about the episode with Cosby taking on the Streisand beast? I'm thinking we oughta demand a rematch!

July 3 - 08:51: CTV news last night called Cosby's remarks "jabs at African-Americans" which was a cheap shot and indicated how utterly they failed to comprehend what Cosby was talking about. They did, however, air statements by Jesse Jackson which backed up Cos.

Somebody needs to write a post about empty nest syndrome in the nanny state.

09:52: Alpha-Patriot also has an impassioned post on the speech, did some research on reactions to it, and closes with a fervent hope.

Posted by Debbye at 03:41 PM | Comments (1)

Saddam's hearing and the U.N. in Sudan (updated)

July 2 - The Toronto Sun isn't overlooking the ugly nature of Saddam on the cover of today's online edition although they do seem to favour the insanity explanation: Iraq's Mad Man on Trial. The AP story they've printed on Saddam's appearance before the court , Madman gives a piece of his mind, is definitely not sympathetic and reminds us that Saddam was pulled out of a hole. (I, for one, never get tired of remembering that!) Today's Sun also carries the AP story Hang him, Iraqis urge, which indicates that Iraqis are fully aware that he is getting the open trial he denied to so many others and are gratified to see him before a court for his crimes.

I feel the lack of the word "high" from that last title. I'm not sure why: hanging is hanging and elevation shouldn't be all that relevant, but all the same I want them to hang him high.

Is it too much to hope that the drumbeats of those who declare the Iraqis are incapable of trying Saddam will die down? (Probably.) At least this hearing has re-focused attention on the mass graves and years of torture that was, for many of us, a primary cause for the forcible removal of Saddam.

Is Saddam Hussein a mad man? Or was he power mad? The simplest explanation for those who abuse power is probably the correct one: they do so because they can. Our forefathers certainly understood that danger when they placed so many checks and balances onto our political system. [One article of interest in today's NY Times is by Simon Sebag Montefiore, Tyrants on Trial, which draws some interesting parallels between Saddam and Stalin, although he delves into the psychology of the two men more than to my liking.]

[Update July 3 - 00:40: Totally whacky Captioned Saddam pics! Rock, Paper, Scissors ... (thanks to Rocket Jones for the link.)]

The best read in today's NY Times is another excellent article by John Burns. He writes:

At the start, the young Iraqi investigative judge, his identity shielded from disclosure by Iraqi and American officials fearful of his assassination, stared straight back at Mr. Hussein, barely 10 feet away, and said plainly, "former president."

"No, present," Mr. Hussein said. "Current. It's the will of the people."

"Write down, in brackets, `former president,' " the judge told the court clerk.

This debate over his status is not just defiance on Saddam's part, but essential to his defense in some countries:
Mr. Hussein's point, repeatedly, was that it was unthinkable for him to be charged for his actions as Iraq's leader, since that gave him immunity, and, he implied, the defense that even murder or military aggression was justified if he deemed it in Iraq's interest.
In some countries, as the USA, presidents are accountable before the law. In others, such as France, they aren't accountable during their times in office although they can be prosecuted after they step down.

As I surmised yesterday, Saddam has been watching enitrely too much CNN:

He told the judge, "You know that this is all a theater by Bush, to help him win his election."
Expect this to become a constant accusation from the left as they will undoubtably spin all gains in Iraq as being about our election rather than Iraq's future.

The alternative explanations are much simpler: we honour our committments, and we genuinely believe in liberty.

Burns makes the connection that many of us make and must not be lost during the election spin that will accompany much of the analysis not only of this preliminary hearing but of the handover as well:

There were echoes of past war crimes trials at Nuremberg after World War II, and at The Hague after the wars of the 1990's that ravaged the former Yugoslavia, when one after another of the men argued that he could not be held personally accountable for actions ordered by others, or carried out in the name of the "leadership," meaning Mr. Hussein and a handful of men in his innermost circle. All they had done, several defendants argued, was to follow orders or assent to actions they had no power to halt, even as high-ranking military or intelligence officials or as members of the Revolutionary Command Council, the country's most powerful and feared political body.

One who took this approach was Tariq Aziz, the 68-year-old former deputy prime minister, a Chaldean Christian who conducted many of Iraq's foreign negotiations, including the failed efforts to head off the Persian Gulf war after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Mr. Aziz cut a figure of unshakable self-confidence in power, stalking the marble halls of Baghdad's palaces pulling on a cigar, boasting until the last weeks before the American attack in March last year that he and other government leaders would be "shadows" by the time American troops arrived in Baghdad, uncatchable. In fact, he gave himself up shortly after Mr. Hussein's government was toppled.

At Thursday's hearing, he, like many others, was a shadow, in another sense, of his former self. His shoulders bowed, his head forward, he mopped his brow, bit his lip, blew his nose, and wrung his hands. He sat through the hearing with the chain used to manacle him dangling at his waist. Once a man who prided himself on his well-cut suits, he seemed not to notice the chain nestling against his ill-fitting, American-bought suit.

The swaggering thugs that looted and terrorized the Iraqi people are now revealed to be mere mortals who, having lost their lionized status, are being treated like the criminals they are and being held to account for their crimes. One has to wonder what people in countries like Iran and Zimbabwe think as they witness a murderous dictator and his once-merry band brought before the people they once terrorized and are forced to face justice.

Don't underestimate the value of broadcasting Saddam's trial to the world. It's going to give a lot of people ideas and maybe even hope.

Citing the precedent of Nuremburg invokes many principles: that genocidal murderers will not be given free passes just because they delegated murder to subordinates, that "following orders" is no defense (note that it wasn't an acceptable defense for the Abu Ghraib defendents), and that the world must not stand by while genocide occurs.

Contrary to the song, two out of three is bad. The U.N. has become an after-the-fact prosecutor of war criminals, thus glossing over it's feckless inability (or unwillingness) to prevent war crimes.

The situation in the Darfur region of Sudan is finally gaining widespread attention and the vanity that accompanies the U.N. as an internationally recognized font of legitimacy has been exposed for the facade that it is.

Again, from the NY Times an article by Marc Lacey

EL FASHER, Sudan, July 1 - There were only donkeys milling around in a soggy, trash-strewn lot on Thursday afternoon when the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, and his entourage arrived at what was supposed to be a crowded squatter camp here in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan.

Gone were the more than 1,000 residents of the Meshtel settlement. Gone as well were their makeshift dwellings. Hours before Mr. Annan's arrival, the local authorities had loaded the camp's inhabitants aboard trucks and moved them.

"Where are the people?" Mr. Annan was overheard asking a Sudanese official who was accompanying his tour of Darfur, the region in western Sudan where the government has been accused of unleashing armed militias on the local population to quell a rebel uprising.

Al Noor Muhammad Ibrahim, minister of social affairs for the state of North Darfur, explained that the camp on Mr. Annan's itinerary no longer existed. He said the government had relocated its residents the evening before, sometime after United Nations officials had paid a visit at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in preparation for a stop by Mr. Annan.

"It's not because the secretary general of the United Nations is here that we moved them," Mr. Ibrahim insisted as incredulous United Nations officials looked on. Mr. Ibrahim said the conditions were too grim for the people there and that humanitarianism, not public relations, had motivated him to act. "We did not like seeing people living like that," he said.

Mr. Annan, who did not leave his vehicle, stayed silent as visibly agitated aides argued with the Sudanese authorities about the sudden relocation. The government urged Mr. Annan to visit another settlement, a nearby camp with far better conditions which Secretary of State Colin L. Powell had toured Wednesday during his brief stop in Darfur.

"Of course, it is of concern," that the government had moved so many people so suddenly, Mr. Annan said later in an interview. "We are trying to sort it out."

It is impossible for me to read this story and not have a snarky reaction, but that diminishes the real human tragedy of the situation in Darfur.

[Update 18:08: Ouch! Michelle Malkin is calling the relocations the Sudanese Shuffle.]

I think the USA has her hands full right now with Iraq, the nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea, and the missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, etc. It's time for the enlightened international community to prove it's mettle by stepping up to the plate in Sudan (and no, I don't see that happening.)

Sadly, this would have been a perfect opportunity for Canada to assert herself as the world's foremost peacekeeping nation, but the years of neglect for the military up here have taken their toll and the true victims are people like those in Darfur.

21:23: This links to the Annan story at the Washington Post for anyone searching for the story past the NY Times's miserly expiration date.

Posted by Debbye at 12:29 PM | Comments (5)

Marlon Brando, 1924-2004

July 2 - CNN TV is carrying the news that actor Marlon Brando died yesterday at the age of 80.

That's the "number three" we've half-expected.

15:21 Link added.

Posted by Debbye at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2004

Toronto: Sad, but true

July 1 - I feel somewhat ambivalent about a request from Kathy to link to this post at the Western Standard's Shotgun blog mostly because it makes Torontonians looks as ridiculous and hateful as they really are.

But there is good reason to link to it, and that is to let American readers know just how frivolous and ill-natured anti-Americanism really is. I live here, and I've heard a lot of stupid reasons why people proclaim to hate us, but they never admit the truth:



Kathy is right: don't come here to waste your vacation money on this bunch of pretentious bastards. They will whine if they don't get your money, and abuse you to your faces after they do get your money. And given the taxes and corruption, adding your hard-earned money into the government's coffers really would be shameful.

See Alberta. See America. See Australia. Breath air that is free and full of promise, not the depressed, cynical toxicity that is Toronto.

(Yep, we've been having that "let's move to New Mexico or Alberta" conversation again.)

I'm so sick of hearing the smug assumption "they want to take us over" meme. Why on earth would we want to take over a nation like Canada? Given the overweening sense of entitlement, the fear of allowing free will and self-defense, and the professed hatred for capitalism, I just couldn't imagine a worse scenario than to allow most Canadians the right to vote in US elections and determine the course of our nation.

I try to keep a grip, but the fact is that someday I'll explode and yell at whoever advances that stupid proposition "Are you nuts? That ship sailed 225 years ago! Go build a country of your own."

Or maybe I'll state the truth: Sorry, you haven't earned it.

Posted by Debbye at 09:45 PM | Comments (12)

Saddam behaved like Saddam (updated)

July 1 - First, Happy Canada Day to us up here in the Great White North. It's pretty warm in Toronto, and summer has officially begun. (Updated) Or, as Paul insists: Happy Dominion Day.

What is Canada Day? (I'm a bit jaundiced by the election results, so I'm letting this one go.)

I gave up watching the CBC coverage of Canada Day events when their military angle focused on tombstones. I get it, already. CBC doesn't think freedom is worth fighting and possibly dying for. Check.

In the news: Saddam was defiant during his court appearance. Lord knows he's watched enough CNN to know how to perform in court, so don't colour me surprised.

The internationalists are out in force whining that this trial will lack legitimacy. Let me see if I have this straight: those nations, some of which refused to oust Saddam in 1991, some of which harbour those who paid kickbacks to Saddam in order to profit in the UN Oil-for-Food program, many of which shipped expired medicines and hospital equipment that didn't work along with limousines, sports stadiums and plastic shredders, and most of which turned a blind eye to his crimes against his own people, and even those who acted within the U.N. to keep Saddam in power ... those people have the audacity to utter words like justice and legitimacy?

Why are they attempting to deprive Iraqis of their right to their day in court? Because they are anxious to give the International Criminal Court legitimacy, perhaps?

Sorry, International Community, but organizations and people gain respect by their deeds, not by their words. If you want to try a genocidal dictator, consider being aligned with those who stopped his evil regime and apprehended him.

Just a thought.

More to the point, who freaking cares what a bunch of wankers and self-appointed elitists think? We heard the same stuff from the same nations back around 225+ years ago; they were wrong then, and they are wrong now. (Kind of poor timing on their part, given the promixity of the Fourth of July, to cast doubt upon the capability of the Iraqi people to build a free and prosperous nation. I'm just saying ...)

Final thought on Saddam: Wolverines!!! (I just watched Laredo (a show I loved as a kid and which bears up well even today) on the Lonestar channel and William Smith was a regular on Laredo, and he was the eeevil Col. Strelnikov in Red Dawn. That's only three degrees of separation! Eat your heart out, Kevil Bacon.)

On a more sober note, it's not really a surprise that there would be more terrorist attacks on this day but it serves to remind us that freedom isn't free.

I don't have that much to say about the handover except Hurrah! As have many, I've been irritated beyond patience by the unending ominous pronouncements from CNN that every firefight in Fallujah "threatened the handover" because I felt every dead "insurgent" strengthened the ability of the incoming Iraqi government to organize elections and lead Iraq on a new path.

21:19: Spinkiller has an eloquent post over at The Shotgun Iraqis embrace their freedom... that is a must-read.

Peggy Noonan in today's Opinion Journal says

The early transfer of sovereignty to Iraq has hit everyone here, friend of the invasion and foe, as a brilliant stroke. Leaving early, and with such modesty--it was a pleasure to be here, let us know if there's anything we can do--tends to undermine charges of U.S. imperialism. President Bush is feeling triumphant--one can tell even from here--and the Western press is looking very irritable indeed. They don't like to be surprised, they don't like it when Mr. Bush scores one, and they don't like it when the troublemakers they've been so banking on to prove their point that Iraq was a fiasco don't even get a chance to stop the turnover.
She then goes on to worry that, with successes under our belts, the American electorate will want to vote in Kerry to serve as an "emollient" just to feel there's a chance to return to "normalcy."

That expresses a fear many of us have, that having addressed one root cause of terrorism, i.e., the lack of human rights and opportunities for self-advancement in the Mideast, and having done so with loss of American lives, the temptation to run and hide will translate into a belief that having friends who won't watch our backs but will spout all the correct sentiments is more important than being right, and that could lead to a Kerry victory in November.

I live in one of those countries which have strained relations with the USA because of Sept. 11 and the Iraq War, and I can assure Americans of one thing: they want us to fail because it will make them look less inadequate, not because we are wrong.

For proof, read Saddam was defiant again, and note that CNN is acting as though this monster has any credibility or respectability.

Noonan asks what President Bush can do about it, and I suspect that it is a rhetorical question, because most of us have expressed the wish that the president would be more vigorous in reminding us why we are fighting terrorism and why Iraq was key to turning the Mid-east to a new course.

He faces stiff opposition (mostly with alphabet names like CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, CBC, BBC, and the other ABC) but I'm convinced the American people themselves just need a bit of encouragement and bolstering.

Those who want to retreat have to ask themselves very seriously: what will you expect from the American President when the next terrorist attack occurs? Sadly, Pres. Clinton's response was to investigate fundamentalist Christians, which lead to the Waco disaster. Is that what we want?

Call me a warmonger, but I prefer the Republican president's track record to the Democrat's candidate.

Posted by Debbye at 05:33 PM | Comments (2)