July 31, 2005

When it rains ...

July 31 - Mark had a minor heart attack Thursday night so I've been less attentive to news items much less posting about them than I normally would be given the extraordinary news out of Europe these past couple of days.

Naturally he didn't go to the hospital Thursday night. (I can't prove that that 18-inning Jays game was why he stayed home, but ...) The nausea was so intense, however, that he left work Friday -- which itself is remarkable and means he felt much worse than he let on.

So I can add that to my small store of medical knowledge: when the lower portion of the heart is the area affected, nausea is the primary symptom.

He is in no immediate danger and, pending the results of Tuesday's angiogram, his main course of treatement will likely be changes in his diet. That may sound minor, but this is a meat and potatoes guy who won't eat broccoli because it looks yucky and sounds yuckier. He still refers to salad as "hay" but is extremely strong willed so will do whatever he sets his mind to doing and has even considered eating yogurt.

He seems resigned to being immobile due to the heart monitoring machine and they allowed him a minor concession by letting his sit in a real chair but he chafes at the restraint. We hope they will release him on Tuesday.

The hardest part is not fussing over him. Maybe someday I'll write a book about women who love strong willed, independent men, but for now I'll just focus on remembering that those things that drive me nuts are also the things I love most.

Many thanks to our friends who have dropped by the hospital to talk baseball and tease him about hospital food! They've really kept his spirits up.

Robert at Expat Yank is staying on top of events in England and No Parasan has some very interesting commentary on the lack of European identity as well as other European matters.

Indeed, the ball now seems to be in Europe's court and the question is what they will do with it. They seem to have seized the initiative to crack down on their own extremists, but is it temporary?

Stay safe, and happy Simcoe Day!

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July 28, 2005

Distinguishing between Muslim Friend and Islamist Foe

July 28 - The wait for this to download and run was well worth it although the interview itself was unsettling because it punches into what is so difficult about this new war: Re: Al Gordon interviewed on 570 News Radio (with many thanks to John for the link.)

Gordon's interview and the Irshad Manji essay cited below seem to be two sides of the proverbial coin, hard questions that need to be asked both from within and without.

I guess I'd count myself among those who understood why Muslim communities would tend to close ranks when the result of Sept. 11 was a declaration of war. I hoped (and still believe) that the questions Gordon and Manji pose would be asked within those communities but that it wouldn't happen overnight and recognized that finding solutions would be painful for those who chose to address the problems.

We can't avoid a defensive climate altogether, though, because Muslim communities are on the spot because terror attacks are proclaimed to be conducted in the name of Islam. It isn't up to Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, or the believers of anything else to counter the claims of the Islamists but Muslims themselves, and however badly I may feel that so many Muslims have been put in this horrible position it doesn't change the objective reality that this is a religion in crisis and reclaiming the principles of that religion and its ability to coexist with those of other faiths is absolutely necessary.

Does it need to be stated yet again? September 11 was the crossing of the Rubicon, the point of no return, the last and final straw. Patience should not be confused with suicidal tendencies, and the lines that have been drawn are rarely spoken about explicitly because we already know they are there. Those of al Qaeda and their like who counselled war have it. Period.

If moderate Islam is the solution to extremist Islamism, this excerpt from the mission statement of the Canadian Coalition for Democracies succinctly states what I believe is the unifying principle which separates those of us who support freedom and those who pay it only lip service:

Founded in 2003, the Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD) is a non-partisan, multi-ethnic, multi-denominational organization of concerned Canadians dedicated to the protection and promotion of democracy at home and abroad. CCD will influence the Canadian political process and public opinion to achieve a more pro-democracy foreign policy.

Senior members of CCD include Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Copts, Assyrians, Buddhists, secularists, and everything in between. The uniting principle is democracy, not religion or ethnicity. (Bolding added)

That's right: a confident assertion for freedom from a Canadian source. (Just when you think you had this country figured out ...)

A social studies teacher long ago said that America was less a melting pot and more of a stew. Chunks of beef, carrot, onion, potato and celery were put into one pot and, although each retained its individual flavour, the combination made for a hearty meal. That goes for Canada too.

The problem with multi-culturalism is that it shouldn't be a problem; there are many things which unite those who move to - and live in - Western countries, and the willingness to take the risk and act upon the desire for freedom and it's offspring, pursuing one's dreams, is the tie that binds. That is an aspect of our way of life that we should trumpet and celebrate rather than apologize for.

It's who we are and what we strive to maintain.

Let freedom ring!

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When Denial Can Kill

July 28 - Irshad Manji: When Denial Can Kill.

Manji has written a sober, heartfelt essay on the need for a reformation in Islam and, as I read it, I was reminded again that the Enlightenment did not immediately succeed the reformation in Christianity but that there were wars, purges and massacres before the heretical notion of tolerance was accepted.

(Via Newsbeat1.)

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July 27, 2005

Sorry for the lack of posting

July 27 - As the title says, I'm sorry for the lack of posting. Two factors come into play on my silence.

Our electrical power levels have been uncertain the last two weeks and we've had troubles maintaining internet connection (the thing with an adaptor that acts as a go-between between the computer's modem and the phone lines keeps blinking off which means I try to save something and I lose the whole thing) and there have been a couple of days when only half our electrical outlets were putting out any juice.

Short version: we chose air conditioning over computers, televisions and stoves.

A problem of a different variety is that I am still in Rage Mode after the bombings in London and Egypt. I don't want my life to be dominated by anger much less rage and I can't think of a worse prospect than grimly striding through life, but contrarily I can't imagine any better respose to atrocities than rightful anger.

What's to say? The Democrats are outraged. Check. Most people up here feel Canada is too insignificant to attack. Check. Ressem has been sentenced but won't testify against his co-conspirators. One of the would-be London bombers, Yasin Hassan Omar, from the failed July 21 attack has been captured and there is a lead on the Egyptian bombings. The U.N. contract for Paul Martin's mentor, Maurice Strong, was not renewed. Heh. Syria and Assad have been implicated (again) in yet another probe into the U.N. Oil-for-Food program, this time by I.R.S. investigators. I'm shocked that Syria, which is a member of the U.N. Security Council, would participate in a conspiracy with Iraq to circumvent U.N. sanctions on Iraq.

The CBC has joined their British colleagues at the BBC in refusing to allow the word forms of terrorism" to describe terrorism. Seems it's judgmental. It almost sounds like they think terrorism is bad ...

It's important to live with optimism and thus look to the stars: Discovery lifted off and we'll all probably hold our breaths when it returns because however blase we may be about space-travel, it's dangerous - far more dangerous than taking a subway or visiting a landmark. Kind of puts things back into perspective.

The Jays are just above .500 and the Giants aren't.

We saw Conan the Barbarian recently with what we'll call "renewed appreciation." Who could have guessed 20 years ago it would contain so much commentary on today's issues?

Two more nights and I get a real holiday weekend! Three consecutive days off, yet all I can think of how badly this place needs cleaning ...

I hope you're all enjoying the summer. It's been a baseball player's delight (because rain-outs are bad) but the days are already getting shorter and we're got provincial eliminations this weekend.


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July 12, 2005

Power issues in T.O.

July 12 - By power issues I mean of the electrical sort; anyone losing partial power - as opposed to a brown-out - here in Toronto? The power just went back on, but I'm posting fast in case it shuts off.

Stay cool.

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July 11, 2005

Hanson and Mansur

July 11 - The July 7 London terror attacks have prompted many to recall the fortitude of the British during the blitz of WWII and the sheer will and determination that finally led to VE Day 60 years ago. The inescapable sub-text is "this is how we win a war" (and I share that desire to appeal to inner resolve to get us through these trying times.)

There are, of course, those today who think it possible to step back from the brink of war and negotiate with or appease the enemy - mostly because they have a different analysis of the root causes of the current conflict - yet demoralising the public is a textbook example as to How to lose a war:

... the terrorists and their supporters understand that in a strange way the West is not only split, but also increasingly illiberal as well. It has lost confidence in its old commitment to rationalism, free speech and empiricism, and now embraces the deductive near-religious doctrines of moral equivalence and utopian pacifism. Al Qaeda's supporters will say that Thursday's victims were killed because of Afghanistan or Iraq. Westerners will duly repeat the dull refrain that "Bush lied, thousands died" in their guilt-ridden search for something we did to cause this.

And so, rather than focus our attention on the madrassas and the mosques that preach hatred, we will strive to learn more about Islamic culture, as if our own insensitivity were the true culprit. Our grandfathers could despise Bushido — Japan's warrior cult — without worrying whether they were being unfair to Buddhists; we of less conviction and even less courage, cannot do likewise.

Salim Mansur's column World must unit to fight terrorists links the G8 conference with some apt historical parallels:
In the 19th century, the great European powers of the time came together to end piracy on the high seas, and make the sea-lanes of the world safe for commerce.

Similarly, Britain took the leadership in ending traffic in slavery, and the United States had to survive a civil war to abolish it from its lands. Thus were the terrible scourges of piracy and slavery in human history brought to an end.

Now, once again, the great powers of the world must set a common purpose to end this latest form of global banditry -- dismissing with deserving contempt all the excuses offered by the so-called well-meaning "liberal" folks in the West.

The reference to ending piracy on the sea lanes is in part based upon the shared history of the countries of many of those at the G8 when they finally confronted the Barbary Pirates in the early part of the 19th century, the tradition of which was often invoked after Sept. 11 and contains within it the seeds of the strategy we would be employing in the war on terror as well as the long term patience and committment it would require.

Millions for defense; not one cent for tribute! This slogan was inspired under the presidency of Thomas Jefferson and the need to take the fight to the pirates as well as protect our shipping interests led to the establishment of the U.S. Navy. [Those who delive deeper might be pleased to learn that our struggle to end the tributes was not initially supported by Europe, shipping was further protected by the naval power of the day - the British! - and those who love irony will appreciate that, although the French had long urged us to pay, they eventually ended the reign of the pirates by capturing Algiers in 1830.]

Mansur notes:

Bandits win, if they win at all, when lawfully organized society is drained of its will to eliminate banditry from its midst.
When I look at the time lag between terror attacks in major cities, I wonder of al Qaeda recognizes that a number of attacks within a shorter time frame would likely ennervate those who seem at present to be lethargic.

For many of us the terror attacks in Iraq have heightened our determination to pursue the war, but it's discouraging that al Qaeda attacks in Iraq are blamed on the war and the countries that removed Saddam. That contortion conveniently side steps dealing with the fact that groups like al Qaeda want us gone in order to assert total domination over all Muslims without regard as to what those Muslims might think of the prospect.

It is also indicative of a failure to embrace all humanity and respect all human rights: the outcry when the U.S. mistakenly kills civilians is not equaled when the "insurgents" of Zarqawi deliberately murder civilians. The implicit message is that it's all right for Muslims to kill Muslims which discredits the claims of those opposed to the war as to how much they truly respect human life without qualification.

I earlier employed the term "brink of war" because I recognize that, thus far, this war has been conducted with far more restraint than some credit and others would like. I doubt the American public is ready to "go all Roman" and salt Mid-east soil; most of us recognize that a strategy of destablizing the current "sick old men of the Mid-east" is much as an antibiotic is to disease and we are willing to see if this course of treatment will take effect.

Surely if one root cause of terrorism is despair then the antidote is hope. Yet shy should we be be ashamed that among our values we include hope? I happen to believe that the racism this war has revealed comes not from those of us who view the stifled potential of those living under tyranny as an atrocity but from those whose paternalism and superiority leads them to conclude that people who live in Third world countries are inherently incapable of embracing freedom and thus dismiss the significance of the January Iraqi election turnout. As U.S. Secretary of State Rice recently pointed out, democracy is not imposed but tyranny is.

The hoopla over the rock stars and their participation at the G8 conference served to render that conference about as serious as any other circus. Their motivations are probably a mixture of naivete and a bit of believing their own press, but their solutions will do little to help and perhaps do more to entrench racism than they might wish. There is an implicit acceptance that African leaders will always be corrupt but do they not realize that, as with Saddam, unmonitored aid money will not only go into their own pockets but also to those instruments which keep the citizens of those countries oppressed?

Back to Hanson, those urging we must endeavour to learn about Islam in order to further our tolerance misses the mark by so wide a margin as to indirectly prove his assertion that the West is increasingly illiberal:

tolerance: The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.
If a prequisite to tolerating Islam is to learn about it, is that not itself symptomatic of intolerance?

I don't have to "know" any much less all the tenets of Hinduism to respect those who practice it. I don't have to know anything about anyone to recognize that we all march to the beats of different inner drummers and that the true diversity of the human race is revealed on every face and in every heart.

Those demanding tolerance would do better to learn to embrace it; tolerance isn't a two-way street but an eight-lane highway and those who fail to follow the rules of the road shouldn't complain when they are involved in a fatal collision.

I don't care what religion or creed motivates someone who is trying to kill me; if I get the chance I'll take them out first and if I die in the attempt then so be it. I call that sanity.

(VDH link via Newsbeat1)

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Why there will always be an England

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Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flies over The Mall as members of the Royal Family watched from the balconey of Buckingham Palace

July 11 - The lessons of the past are thought to contain advice for the present. To what extent our imperfect understanding of history can guide us now is still a subject for disagreement, but I think there is little room for debate on the impact a figure as the Queen can have when she appears publicly and openly days after a homeland attack in one war to celebrate the victorious end of an earlier war.

The Queen defied the threat of terrorist attack yesterday to ride down the Mall in an open-top Range Rover at the head of veterans of the Second World War.

Against the backdrop of the London bombings, she made her gesture in front of a crowd of 250,000 people as Britain celebrated the 60th anniversary of the end of the war.

Earlier, when referring to the attacks during a speech in Horse Guards, she invoked the courage of the wartime generation.

"It does not surprise me that, during the present difficult days for London, people turn to the example set by that generation of resilience, humour, sustained courage, often under conditions of great deprivation," she said.

"That example and those memories should be kept alive by younger generations as they in their turn strive to keep the peace in our troubled world."

Buckingham Palace said the use of the open-top Range Rover had been planned long before Thursday's Underground and bus bombings and it had been decided to keep to the arrangement.

"It was the same vehicle the Queen used for the Jubilee celebrations," a spokesman said.

After her procession along the Mall, with Prince Philip at her side and standard bearers of the Royal British Legion behind her, the Queen joined other members of the Royal Family on the Palace balcony in scenes reminiscent of 1945. [See here for one example.]

Whenever I read someone who bitterly laments the decadence and pleasure-seeking impulses which seemingly dominate Western society I think back to an era of flappers, bobbed hair, speak-easies, and raccoon coats that caused an even earlier generation to despair and I smile - but with respect, for those hedonists came to be known as "The Greatest Generation."

As is noted further down the article in a portion relating to the morning service at Westminster Abbey, What should have been a service of farewell to the dead of 60 years ago became a moment to remember the dead of the previous 72 hours. Those words remind remind us that whereas defeating fascism was the task of an earlier generation, the struggle with terrorism is our bookmark in the history books and it is our task to achieve victory.

The Daily Telegraph article about the services in Westminster Abbey and other links on yesterday's events are quite moving and there is also a link on that page for more photographs.

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July 09, 2005

Prosperity and accountable governments

July 9 - Unfair! Nicholas starts out with a mild anecdote and then bang! cuts to a solidly-reasoned post as to how the economic woes of far too many Third World countries can be directly linked to their thuggish governments:

Western business practices can have little effect on cultures with no rule of law: the only way to conduct business in areas like that is to cut deals with the local powers-that-be or to become a local power. This is not good for the company conducting the business: they're not good at weilding power, nor should they be. Their core competency is conducting business, not becoming local bully boys.
Excellent, concise read.

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Comments back up

July 9 - I just learned that comments were down but they have been restored.

That's the kind of news I like - learning a problem was fixed before learning there was one. If only life were that simple ...

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Urgent: Needs Cancon

July 9 - I looked for a Canadian contribution but sheesh, there are over 700 entries at the We're not Afraid! website.

Come on, surely one of you knows how to create this kind of thing! (Don't look at me; history major but tech dunderhead here.)

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Liberal Party Corruption, Act II, Scene 2

July 9 - The following item appeared July 7 in the Globe and Mail and is all the more interesting when put into context with suspicions about Canadian PM Paul Martin's ties with Earncliffe [Act II, Scene 1.] Firm headed by Martin aide got $92,082 for medicare poll:

OTTAWA -- The federal government hired a communications firm with close ties to Prime Minister Paul Martin to track public opinion through every twist and turn of last fall's health-care summit between Mr. Martin and the provincial premiers.

The survey by Veraxis research and communications, which is headed by senior Martin adviser David Herle, tested support for the various proposals being considered, as well as who would bear the blame if the talks were to fall apart.


Among the survey's listed objectives were to "monitor change in public opinion throughout the course of the FMM [first ministers meeting]."

When that survey ended, the department commissioned another poll by the Strategic Counsel, which is now The Globe and Mail's pollster, at a cost of $162,142 to track public opinion throughout the week after the summit through phone calls and focus groups.

Conservative health critic Stephen Fletcher, who observed the summit first hand, said the government's use of rolling polls is "unbelievable."

Mr. Fletcher said it appears the Liberals are using Health Canada dollars to help craft partisan messages for the Liberals.


Mr. Herle, who was formerly with Earnscliffe Research and Communications, was the Liberal Party's election campaign manager.

The article contained details of the poll but that is hardly the point: Adscam [Act I] blew open when it was revealed that those receiving the commissions had done little or no work, not when it was revealed that the work they were doing was frivolous. Will the use of taxpayer money to do advance work for the Liberal Party achieve scandal status?

In truth, there aren't many Canadians who will deny that it's time to throw the bums out, but many are convinced that Harper is "scary." I'm tempted to agree: his willingness to go along with the Liberal Party and throw more money into failed programs as well as his denouncement of a "two tiered" health system worries me, but of course that's not what people here mean. But a recent post by The Hack places the Scary Factor in a global context and the conclusion will surprise many.

According to one Canadian, Harper is not right-wing at all in a global context but left of that which is defined as right-wing in many countries. The Hack quotes a fascinating letter by James Allan that appeared in the National Post. Mr. Allan is a Canadian who lived in New Zealand and Australia for nearly 20 years and he brings some long-need perspective to this whole "scary" argument:

But here's the odd thing. In global terms, it's simply not true. Take today's Tories and Stephen Harper out of Canada and plunk them in New Zealand and they would be to the left of Helen Clark's Labour government. Down in New Zealand, there is a two-tier health system; there are civil unions but no gay marriage; the economy is far less heavily regulated in terms of labour laws, tax policy and tariffs than anything Harper is proposing.

The same goes for Australia. Compare the policies of the left-wing Labour Party there (on defence, immigration, the environment, health, education, you name it) to Canadian Tories' policies and Harper consistently stands to the left of Australian Labour, not the right.

And this is the same Tory party that is demonized in Canada for being "too right wing." Frankly, it was disorienting to return to Canada and to be met, continually, with this total lack of global perspective.

It's gotta hurt for Canadians to be told that they lack global perspective, but it gets worse:
All I can say to that is that people down in Australia and New Zealand, even in the U.K., must be made of sterner stuff. They would never rejoice in such self-emasculation.
That's really hitting below the, er, never mind.

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Aftermath of the London train bombings

John Bull.jpg

July 9 - The Met revealed in a press conference that the bombs in the Underground went off within 50 seconds of one another at 8:50 a.m. and that the bus bombing occurred an hour after. High explosives were used. There is a lot of speculation about the Tavistock Square bombing - including that the bomber may have been trying to defuse the bomb - but the London police are patiently and methodically investigating the attack and refuse to be rushed into hasty and possibly erroneous conclusions.

25 people are believed to be missing. Excavation efforts in the Tube are proceeding very slowly. What can I or anyone say? We went through it ... the sleepless nights which were preferable to the nightmares when we could sleep.

Meanwhile, the fun has begun. Robert says

. . . so let's be "clear" here. The following "discourse" from him [Tariq Ali of the Guardian] will be rooted in the recent emergence of a sublime, overarching, yet forcefully engaged, clashing yet hyper-interactive essentialism, which holds determinedly to elements of the truist self, and is based on both a transnational and intranational psycho-socio-sensibility, that is movingly neo-culturalist in its embrace of what might be termed an anti-modernistic model of pro-reactive anti-deferentialism. (Translation: Jihadists don't like us, and respond by crashing planes suicidally into buildings, or placing bombs on underground railway systems.)
Go Robert! Read Enjoy the whole thing.

Although I remain wrapped in cold fury, my sense of resolve has evolved; the defiance has not diminished but I find an ever growing iron enveloping my will. At first I was concerned that I felt apart from the pain and grief of those people who have endured much these past 3 days, but after a good night sleep I was able to take better stock of recent events and understand that the changes this war has wrought within me have come about because I have so deeply internalized the fact that we are in fact at war.

I feel it necessary to stare our attackers down. That's the long and short of it.

The British are tasting the bitter pill we had to swallow after Sept. 11: people who lived amongst us were planning to kill us. Some of these attackers may even have been born in the U.K. yet chose in some respects to defy their parents' intentions to build new lives for themselves and their children by returning to what they perceived as their "roots" and pursuing jihad.

It's that last part that needs examination most: why people who weren't even born in the mid-east (or any of the former Baltic states) feel a closer affinity to a home they never knew than for the home they have.

I think it's reasonable to continue to take steps to deport those clerics who preach hate in mosques be it in London, Paris, New York and Toronto, but I also believe that it is too late: the message has been delivered, the faithful perverted and the training camps have prepared the footsoldiers.

There have been a lot of news stories warning that Canada is next as well as revisiting the cascade of warnings from the Fraser Institutute, the Auditor-General and the appointed Senate but I'm staying outside of that because this is recylced stuff from after the March 11 Madrid train bombings and you know what? nothing changed here. Nothing will change here. The Air India bombing - which originated in Canada - didn't shake the complacency of this nation and I am persuaded that an actual terror attack here would result in arguments as to how much George W. Bush can be blamed because despite the growing lack of courtesy here, Canadians are convinced that they are nice and nice people don't get bombed.

There is a part of me that would almost be relieved if Canada put a growing distance between herself and the U.S.A. as a result of an attack here because then I wouldn't have this nagging sense that having Canada as a neighbour means leaving one's back exposed to a treacherous ally. [Keep your sputtering indignation to yourself; did you really think we didn't notice that the sudden announcement about BMD was conveniently made while President Bush was meeting with Russia's Putin?]

Alfred E. Newman.gif

Canadian response the days of and after the blast is telling. If the TTC was on a state of vigilance they forgot to inform most of the drivers of that fact (although the drivers themselves hardly needed the suits to tell them to be especially wary) and as for Via Rail, on Friday a CBC reporter was able to easily bypass security precautions on Via Rail boarding a train without a ticket and gaining access to the baggage area without being challenged:

The reporter said it was easy to walk into Toronto's Union Station with a backpack and board a train to Windsor without buying a ticket or being requested to produce one. He was also able to enter the baggage hold without being asked for identification.


Security expert Brian Hay of Crisis Management Specialists said that even though technology exists for bomb-sniffing and even X-raying groups of passengers, it would be next to impossible at major hubs like Union Station.

"If you start to try to put the kind of security like in the airport, you're going to have thousands and thousands of people lined up waiting to get through, " said Hay.

So locking the door of the baggage area would be a major problem and would cause disruption and delays in services?
Via Rail on Friday called the breach "disturbing" and said it should never have happened. An investigation has been launched, and a spokesperson said the company had taken immediate steps to ensure every passenger boarding their trains is at least asked for a ticket. (Emphasis added)
It's comforting to know they have their priorities right.

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Mohammed al-Gerbouzi

July 9 - The hunt continues for Mohammed al-Gerbouzi:

A Moroccan granted British citizenship is being hunted by anti-terrorist forces investigating the London bombings.
As detectives warned the suspected Al Qaeda cell that blitzed the capital leaving more than 50 people dead was primed to strike again, a Europe-wide request for information on Mohammed al-Gerbouzi was circulated around police forces.

The request for details on the 45-year-old father of six, who has a British passport after being granted asylum in the mid-1990s, was sent by British police to European counterparts within hours of the three rush-hour Underground explosions and one bus bomb on Thursday.

He is already wanted for questioning in connection with the Casablanca and Madrid terror attacks, which investigators say have striking similarities to the London attacks.

Spanish investigators who led the probe into the Moroccan bombers that left 191 dead in the Madrid attacks are due to arrive in London to help British police in the inquiry into England's worst terrorist attack.

Detectives fear the terror cell of at least three bombers still at large from the Underground bombings have stockpiled enough explosives for another series of devastating attacks on the transport network.


Scotland Yard said they were keeping an open mind on a claim by a previously unheard of group called the Secret Organisation Group of Al Qaeda of Jihad Organisation in Europe that it carried out the attack.

Police believe the men may have met at King's Cross before going to place their deadly packages and officers are searching through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage. It is believed that the security camera on the top floor of the bus was not working properly, however.

A Brussels-based European police official confirmed yesterday that they had been asked for information on the whereabouts of Gerbouzi.

A former pupil of radical cleric Abu Qatada - said to be Osama Bin Laden's European ambassador - Gerbouzi is alleged by the Spanish authorities to have spoken to some of the Madrid bombers twice in the hours before they blew themselves up as police closed in.

Ahem. A Spanish policeman was killed and several wounded when the Madrid suspects blew "themselves" up.
Gerbouzi lived in England with his wife and six children. In April last year he is said to have vanished from his ground floor flat in Kilburn, North-West London.

Last night Gerbouzi's family said claims he is linked to the London bomb attacks were fantastical.

In case you missed this and want to know more about Gerbouzi, Michelle Malkin linked to an April, 2004, article from the Sunday Mirror about Gerbouzi UK's terror fear: Cleric we can't kick out. and to this item on Gerbouzi, aka Abu Aissa at the Counterrorism Blog.

(Mail link via Neale News.)

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July 08, 2005

Root causes - bah!

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July 8 - The war on terror has drawn a critical line in the sand, not between left and right but between those who have integrity and those who are opportunists. Dave reminds us to thank Britain's PM Tony Blair, who despite his many political differences with President Bush, has been singularly capable (and sadly rare among leftists) of taking the longer view to recognize how directly the threat from Islamists fundamentalists attacks the very existence of a debate over our differences.

There is no room for philosophical or political debates in the world order which al Qaeda would establish. We wouldn't be arguing about women's, gays' or religious rights under their rule because they don't allow for dissent.

It still astonishes me that more people do not understand that our very right to dissent faces a far more direct challenge from al Qaeda and their apologists than any "repression" in the U.S., and although that fancied repression in the U.S. is refuted if only by the scores of people who are able to publicly and openly state their political views in the media and online in freedom rather than by smuggling their tracts out of jail, those claims do attest to the power of the diversionary tactics which focuses our attention from our enemy.

I tend to believe that the timing of yesterday's terror attack in London intentionally coincided with the G-8 conference for the same reasons as the Sept. 11 attackers targeted the World Trade Centers, and that while Britain may have been a high-profile target due to their staunch support and actions in the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, they are also a target because they offer Muslims a place to work, live, and add to the fabric of multi-culturalism.

Al Qaeda does not want Muslims to become part of any Western society, and thus has no compunction about killing Muslims who have become so.

The quickie assumption that the attack was due to was Britain's military presence in Iraq conveniently overlooks al Qaeda's demand that all Western units be removed from all Muslim countries (which Canadians would do well to remember include Afghanstan, Bosnia, Kosovo and the Golan Heights) and that simplistic explanation also fails to take into account the attacks on Iraqi soldiers, who are predominantly Muslims.

Although I understand the intent, I do take exception with Adams's characterization of yesterday's attacks as a defeat for the same reason that I do not consider every German plane that crossed to channel to drop bombs during the blitz of World War II as representing a defeat.

Defeat implies the other side was victorious, yet by rights such terms can only be applied when an adversary faces it's opponents openly.

Defeat implies there was a battle, but there was no battle.

London was sucker-punched, plain and simple. Civilians were targeted without warning, deliberately and with murderous malice, by a foe that is cowardly and operates out of shadows.

God bless the good people of London. They have not been defeated, and their attackers would learn the meaning of victory and defeat should they come out of hiding and face us openly and in honourable battle.

Posted by Debbye at 06:52 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The day after: the hunt is on

unionjack small.jpg

July 8 - The sturdy Londoners returned to work today, which I believe is British for "the terrorists can FOAD."

News reports are now placing the death toll at 50 for yesterday's terrorist attack in London, but it's expected to rise as many bodies have not yet been removed from King's Cross because the structural integrity of the subway tunnels has been too severely compromised.

The death toll from the Tavistock Square double-decker bus is 13.

It seems somehow wrong to feel relief that the death toll is comparatively low, but there it is.

Need it be added that a manhunt is underway? The claims of the "Secret Organization of al-Qaida's Jihad in Europe" have not yet been proven, but it seems to be a starting place.

It appears that at least two unexploded devices were found (police conducted "controlled detonations" of them) which confirms one of yesterday's rumours. Although news reports state that timers, not cell phones, were used to set off the explosives, the Met still says they are not sure how the bombs were detonated. Any involvements of suicide bombers remains unproven.

Also, the explosives were apparently aboard the trains, not buried in the tunnels as some speculated.

Yesterday, the ever-blithering CBC was trying to "puzzle out" what the goals of terrorists might have been. Winds of Change lists the goals Norm Geras identified which might help sort out that "puzzle" for the CBC.

With all the talk about the relatively small amount of explosives used, I suddenly remembered the joint British-Canadian operation in which 8 men in Britain and Mohammed Momin Khawaja in Ottawa were arrested in simultaneous raids and the seizing of nearly half a ton of ammonium nitrate in London in March, 2004. Khawaja, known as "the Enabler," is still in custody here and the information that led to his arrest remains under security seal. It is said that information is being protected so as not to compromise the criminal trials of his alleged accomplices which are to begin soon in Britain.

Of course I don't know if there is a connection, and I'm more or less speculating about whether there are even grounds to speculate, but MI5 reportedly learned from surveillance and the use of lip readers that the men discussed bombing targets in and around London.

Michelle Malkin has extensive coverage on the hunt for those who planned and carried out yesterday's attacks here, and it seems the search is centering around one Mohamed Guerbouzi who has already been implicated in other terror attacks, including the 2004 Madrid train bombing, yet lived openly in London this past decade. My jaw stayed on the floor as I read the entire post as well as one she posted earlier on how Britain has become the center of terrorists organizations.

Michael Yon writes that American soldiers in Iraq are angry about the attack, viewing it as Attacking Our Family.

I am no longer dismayed by the failure of so many in Toronto to have similar sentiments despite this country's British heritage, but I too need to be reminded sometimes that Toronto is only a small part of this vast country.

Adams invokes Churchill and calls for a leader to roar to remind the enemy that we have the heart of a lion and Younger Pitt invokes Michael Joseph Savage whose 1939 speech declared that Canada would back Britain to the hilt.

Salim Mansur warns that the World must unite to fight terrorists, and Peter Worthington's declares that We must not waver

The U.S. State Department flew the British flag at half-mast yesterday as an expression of our sympathy and solidarity. I believe this is the first time the flag of a foreign nation has ever flown from that mast, and I think it a beautiful gesture reminiscent of Queen Elizabeth II's request that the Palace Guard play the Star Spangled Banner on Sept. 11.

I am living proof that the phrase "too tired to be angry" is wrong. I am still cold with fury about the attacks, but I've had less than 4 hours sleep in the past 48 hours and have an irresistable impulse to throw my cat off my pillow and fall asleep while he glares at me. (I get my fun where I can.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:23 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 07, 2005

Atrocity in London (updating)

British flag.jpg

July 7 - Many of those making public statements are using the word "atrocity" so I'm honouring their chosen description as well as their flag.

21:29 - I finally got some sleep, and am headed for work. Belmont Club's two posts offer typically excellent insights - with optimism.

15:55 - I watched BBC for as long as I could stand it. Found Darcey's solution more to my liking: Kill the sons a bitches.

14:15 - Flea has ongoing commentary on the London bombing, and links to a stout post at Silent Running (be sure and read the comments.)

Flea has issued a stern rebuke to Howard Moscoe and makes an astute observation at the end of the paragraph as to where sympathies for any fundamentalism that depends on hate leads. You think it inappropriate today? No, friends; it is exactly appropriate today. The enemy believes tolerance and diversity are the problems, but one of our most treasured values is that we judge others on the content of their characters. Let that remain our standard.

13:25 - Amazing. Londoners are crossing the bridges to begin their treks home or to whatever public transit is running. Never forget that just as Sept. 11 exposed the depth of evil it also revealed courage and resilience.

I feel as though I'm starting to breath again, and regaining some perspective.

One note: many of us know people on this side of the Atlantic who are going through their own hell as they try to contact loved ones in London. This is intensely personal for them and I'd feel instrusive linking under such circumstances, but you know who you read or know who might be in agony right now, right?

Murdoc pays tribute with an apropos Henry V quote, and just in case you thought he's lost his rapier, keep scrolling for Galloway's surrender.

Heh. Robert has his own thoughts on the "unity" this is supposed to bring us and pays his own special tribute to Fingerpointer Galloway.

13:04 - London police report 37 dead, but again, that doesn't seem to include the casualties from the double-decker bus. But it does appear that the death toll will be far lower than that in the previous attacks in NYC, Bali and Madrid.

Nice report on Fox from Sky-TV. The reporter, Alistair (something) mentioned that Londoners are expected to behave much as New Yorkers did on and after Sept. 11. (See Rudy Giuliani's remarks below for a wondrous synchonicity. We can take strength from one another.)

Whoa, London police have warned people to "run as fast as they can" from Victoria Station. Fox is reporting that a suspicious package has been found there.

I guess there will be a fair bit of that kind of "run now, wonder later." Doubtless a great many bags and packages were left as people were evacuated from the stations, but count me as someone who would prefer to respond to a false alarm than a victim of willful stupidity.

12:40 - NYC Mayor Bloomberg is stating solidarity with London as well as reassuring New Yorkers that they are taking all possible precautions there.

Sir Rudy Giuliani is in London (which is why I refer to him by his title) and, when interviewed earlier on Fox, he casually mentioned that, during the dark days following Sept. 11, New Yorkers took as role models the comportment of Londoners during the blitz of WWII. Very. Well. Done, Rudy.

11:27 - Toronto Transit Commissioner (TTC) board member and Toronto City Councillor Howard Moscoe is in serious need of ... strong words issued in his general direction.

The TTC is officially in vigilance mode. I watched the press conference on CP 24 during which the Mayor, TTC CEO (?) Ducharme were briefing the press and public about security measures that have been taken here in Toronto and Moscoe intruded with a smug "we don't have any troops to withdraw from Iraq so we should be okay" comment which kind of missed the mark as the "massacres in Afghanistan" were among the accusations issued by the "we are the al Qaeda wing of Europe and there's nothing you can do about it" website posting in which they also took credit for today's barbarous atrocity in London.

TTC Commissioner tried to return the focus of the press conference on track but Moscoe had to stick his ... foot in his mouth again; I'll give credit to Toronto Mayor David Miller for eventually intruding and, without directly confronting Moscoe, cutting in to reassure the Toronto transit-riding public that they were taking all proper precautions to ensure their safety.

So what's with this:

"I didn't see the advisory, but I think there's a pretty low probability of something like that happening here," said David Crombie, a Toronto businessman, as he exited King Street subway station. "Even if I had, it wouldn't have changed my habits."
He's a freaking former mayor, known by many as The Perfect Little Mayor. This city makes me nuts.

PM Paul Martin officially offered his condolences and notes that thus far, no Canadians appear to be among the casualties. Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty is in London but not among the injured or dead.

Martin also confirmed that he has spoken to national security adviser William Elliott.

11:00 - Add "barbaric" to the words of choice. Fox also has a time line (I'm finding logon times to news meda getting longer - perhaps as the West Coast awakens?)

10:29 - The emergency services are holding a press conference. They report 33 fatalities, 21 dead in the second blast at King's Cross but no numbers available yet on the double-decker bus; the British fatality tracking system is down; approximately 1,500 police personnel are deployed but they aren't recalling police currently assigned to the G-8 nor those off-duty as they anticipate they will need them in their due rotation.

All passengers are reported as having been evacuated from the subway.

I'm impressed: thus far, no really stupid or editorialized questions such as our press is apt to indulge in.

10:17 - I'm starting a second post and again referring everyone to Robert, who is now posting from his home in North London. The most recent post concerns advice from the Met (London police) which is totally common sense but as the words sink in they take us back to Sept. 11.

I missed which location (update: it's Edgeware) but Fox is reporting that one of the bombing sites is in a predominantly Arab neighbourhood. In the same minute (inasmuch as time has telescoped) they also mention that a website states that top Egyptian envoy to Iraq Ihab al-Sherif has been killed claiming he was an apostate.

I expect nothing from CAIR or their little sibling in Canada, but the message to London Arabs seems fairly clear, and I doubt there will be too many who will dare modify their condemnation of the London atrocity with "but" (or should that be I hope there aren't?)

Posted by Debbye at 10:17 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Message from the Queen

July 7 - 13:40 - I wish I had thought to post this photo. Well done, Flea!

09:52 - Again, I'm quoting the entire article in full, this time from The Sun: Her Majesty shocked:

Her Majesty shocked
Sun Online

THE Queen has spoken of her dismay at the terrorist attacks.

In an open message, she said: “The dreadful events in London this morning have deeply shocked us all.

“I know I speak for the whole nation in expressing my sympathy to all those affected and the relatives of the killed and injured.

“I have nothing but admiration for the emergency services as they go about their work.”

The Queen is currently at Windsor after travelling from the Gleneagles G8 summit where she last night hosted a dinner for political leaders.

Buckingham Palace has been sealed off in the wake of the terrorist blasts with armed police and army personnel on guard.

God Save the Queen.

Posted by Debbye at 09:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Terror attack in London (updating)

July 7 - Updating as new reports come in.

09:41 - New Sisyphus asks one question I've been afraid to ask in John Bull: London Calling.

The deadly situation at King's Cross continues to be a concern. Fox reports people are being treated on the platform in a desperate effort to save lives. I was afraid to say this earlier, but one feature of attacks in Israel have been bombs timed to go off as rescue personnel arrive. So far it looks as though at least that particular atrocity didn't occur.

09:20 - Fox reports Sky news reports 45 dead, 1000 injuried with 150 of those seriously.

I'm not sure how much longer I can hold together. I feel as though I'm moving rapidly onto fury after scarcely a pause at shock and horror, and although I've been on this for over two hours it seems more like 2 minutes.

Is this how it is supposed to work? Sept. 11 left me in shock and then tears for several days. The attack in Bali had me scrambling across the internet as I tried so desperately just to get information (stupid CNN) that it was awhile before the true enormity of that attack became apparent.

The shock after the Madrid attack lasted for several hours, yet it's been scarce two hours since I first learned of the London attack and I am into fury and moving rapidly to livid.

Stupid murderous bastards. Do they realize that resolute people become even more implacable when such events remind us how very much is at stake? Or do they have so little respect for us that they assume we just need more "lessons?"

Fury checkpoint passed. Screw livid. On to cold rage.

09:00 - The Daily Mail Online is reporting 150 injuries and they too seem to be updating this page continuously. (Link via Neale News.)

Fox just reported 300 injured.

08:35 - President Bush just made a brief statement. I think he's genuinely angry about the attacks. He did say he's already been in contact with the Secretary of Homeland Security back in the U.S.

I switch over to CBC in case PM Martin was making a statement but they seem somewhat behind events as the newscaster invited everyone to stay tuned as they puzzled out who is responsible and what their goals were. (Um, to kill people?) CITY-TV reports that the TTC (Toronton Transit) has not issued a threat alert but have advised personnel to be cautious.

08:26 - The BBC website has a page on which they are covering events as they unfold, and it looks as though they are updating regularly. The most recent entry is that "people are still trapped at King's Cross Station, and efforts are being made to rescue them." That's f***ing chilling.

8:10 - Robert reports (and comments) on Blair's response to the attacks, and Fox just aired another Blair statement, this time from the G-8 conference with those attending standing behind him.

Fox commentators note that this attack might help remind them that the biggest challenge confronting us this century is terrorism, not global warming.

Instapundit has the expected excellent links, and adds that a reader notes that the trial of Abu Hamza - the "Hook" - opened yesterday.

08:01 - Fox confirms there were 7 bombs and they say al Arabiya reports that an al Qaeda associated group states they were responsibile for the attacks.

The first bomb in London went off at 8:42 a.m. These bastards just love to attack people who work.

07:25 - Fox TV is reporting rumours of more explosions on buses and a "suspicious" package has been retrieved. Expat Yank Robert is posting from London on the attacks, and after my initial relief that he's okay, I'm going to be following his reports. (His first post is here, for the archivists among us.)

The Fox website direct story link is here.

6:58 - Damn. Damn. Damn. Half-expecting it doesn't make it any the easier.

It took me awhile to get onto the Telegraph website 'Terrible injuries' after London explosions so I'm going to just quote the entire article:

All London underground services and roads into the City have been closed after what is thought to be a major terrorist attack on the Tube and bus network during the rush hour.

At least six Tube stations have been affected, including Aldgate East, Edgware Road, King's Cross, Liverpool Street, Moorgate, and Russell Square, Scotland Yard said.


Tube map (link opens to enlarged map)

[Circles represent left Edgware Road, top center King's Cross St. Pancras, bottom center Russell Square, top right Liverpool Street, bottom right Aldgate. Ed. Update: I'm quoting Jay here to give some idea of the location of the sixth bombing: "Add another one southwest of the more-or-less center circle, where the blue line intersects the black one, Leicester."]

Explosions have been reported on buses at Russell Square and Tavistock Square. Union bosses said there had been three bus explosions.

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, said there had been "terrible injuries". He advised people not to make unnecessary journeys into London.

A doctor at Aldgate underground station said there had been 90 casualties. There were unconfirmed reports that a number of people had died on the bus in Russell Square.

A policeman at the scene said: "We believe there have been a number of fatalities and a number of people who are seriously injured."

Alun Duncan, shadow home secretary, blamed terrorists for the attacks. He said: "This is the ultimate nightmare coming into play.

"It is not for us to guess what their motives are."

One train passenger at Aldgate said: "People were screaming, we could not get out. There was so much dust, people were choking. I thought I was going to die of dust inhalation.

"One woman told us to get down. We got out of one of the doors that had busted open. There were bodies and pieces of train everywhere.

"There was a huge hole on the side of the carriage."

Sky producer, Bob Mills who was at Russell Square, said an explosion "definitely happened above ground".

He described the top of a bus being "completely destroyed".

BTP initially blamed power surges, but the National Grid, which supplies power to the Underground, later said there had been no problems with its system which could have contributed to the incidents.

Union officials said they had been told by at least one senior Tube manager that there had been at least one explosive device on the Underground.

The incidents come a day after London was awarded the 2012 Olympics and on the day the G8 summit begins in Gleneagles.

A Metronet spokesman said: "It looks as if we have a major incident. The whole system is being shut down."

Mainline train company First Great Western said its services into London's Paddington station were terminating at Reading in Berkshire because of the Underground crisis.

Posted by Debbye at 07:02 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 06, 2005

World leaders easily star-struck

July 6 - I found this article (and those also linked on the page) incredibly funny: Bono, Geldof and protesters steal spotlight:

Bono of the mega-group U2 and activist-musician Bob Geldof stole the spotlight on the first day of the G8 Tuesday with their incessant, high-profile calls for a huge increase in aid to Africa and the world's poorest countries.

Camera crews and G8 leaders alike were falling over one another to get access to the pair.

It evokes a lot of Beatlemania memories, let me tell you. I keep having this mental image of Chirac squealing like a girl and tearfully begging Geldorf and Bono for their autographs.

And then, after their fingers meet as they return his autograph book, ecstatically swearing that he'll "never wash that hand again." (Yes, I'm foregoing the obvious follow-up crack.)

Those gathered for the G-8 meeting (the participants, I mean) are supposed to be leaders of the most powerful countries in the world yet they're all ga-ga over rock stars?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

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Ralph Peters on Iraq, the Kurds and the State Department

July 6 - Ralph Peters on Rogue Diplomats:

July 6, 2005 -- CONDI Rice has an Iraq problem. Among her subordinates. A new generation of "Arabists" wants to write off our Kurdish allies for the pipedream of winning friends among our enemies.

Our impressive secretary of state is proud to stand up for freedom and human rights. But career elements in her department, serving in Washington and Iraq, have become a threat to the long-term success of American policy — and to our values.
Problems with the blinkered diplomats at State are not new and I know that an aircraft carrier can't change course on a dime. But does it take 3 years to effect a course change? I think not.

Maybe Condi should put on those fantabulous boots and do a bit of Nancy Sinatra-style walking.

(Via Newsbeat1)

Posted by Debbye at 05:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 05, 2005

Up and down, up and down

July 5 - If you are reading this then we are back up (but then again, it may be only temporary.)

It seems some kind of (im)perfect storm is hitting Munu with trackback spam, comment spam and some kind of automated upgrade thingy that involves squirrels and pearls or some such.

If you've been unable to leave your comment please don't take it personally; I too am receiving the message "you do not have permission to post."

Urgh. It lets me save but won't let me publish. Heh, this is a good opportunity to test my theory that I am way more stubborn than any machine.

Posted by Debbye at 04:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 04, 2005


Liberty bell.jpg

Image from Laser-buzz

July 4 - The title refers to that unexpected order which Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain gave his troops after their ammuniton was exhausted while they were desperately trying to hold Little Round Top. I've always been in awe of Chamberlain and the men he commanded. Their defense of that position was pivotal in that which became known as the Battle of Gettysburg, and it is entirely appropriate that we celebrate the Fourth of July and commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg and the two milestones in our own history: the grand vision which established the union and the ultimate test to maintain that vision in the union. The fierce determination of those men who fought that battle, held their positions and stopped Lee's army bequeathed to us a new understanding, in Lincoln's words of what we owe them:

It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
In today's cultural battles, maybe we need look no further than Lincoln to see one key difference: there are those who regard the losses of World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam and respond "Never again," and there are those who take Lincoln's admonition to heart and recognize that the fallen have left unfinished work for future hands to take up and respond "Count me in."

From Bill Whittle's immortal essay History:

... By the second day of July in 1863, the mighty armies of the Union had been beaten in every major battle except Antietam – and that had been not much better than a tie. And they had not just been defeated. They had been thrashed. Whipped. Sent reeling again and again and again by a half-starved collection of scarecrows in homemade uniforms.

None of this was lost on the Union men that morning, not the least on that Professor of Rhetoric from Bowdoin College. He had seen, first hand, the disasters at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. ..

Were the South to win that July day, the first northern state capitol – Harrisburg – would fall to the Confederates. Nothing would stop them from reaching Baltimore, and Washington. If the Army of the Potomac lost yet again on this field, the South would very likely take Washington, the British would enter the war on the side of the Confederacy and the mighty Royal Navy would break the Union blockade. In the words of Shelby Foote, the war would be over -- lost.

The Federal position was strong, but it had a fatal weakness. At the southern end of the Union line were two small hills. The smaller and nearer, called Little Round Top by the locals, overlooked the entire Union position. Artillery placed on that hill could fire down the entire Union line, wreaking carnage on the men below. The entire position would become untenable.

No one was on Little Round Top.

It isn't hard to imagine how very discouraged these men must have become during the course of the Civil War, knowing they had been repeatedly beaten, outmanuevered and even hoodwinked by Lee and his generals and, in what must have seemed to be the ultimate humiliation, now they were fighting on Northern soil. Let's not forget that Union soldiers had "skedaddled" from earlier battles, that the draft was extremely unpopular and that the press hated and ridiculed Lincoln. British cotton mills actutely felt the lack of Southern cotton and the danger that the incomparable British navy might intervene and break the Northern blockade was ever present. (I believe it due mostly to the vigorous agitation of anti-slavery organizations in England that this had not yet happened.) The South was encouraged by France's offer to mediate a truce and, to put it bluntly, Northern generals sucked and were capable mostly of failing to pursue the advantage to achieve victory.

Antietam, which was a "draw," had 13,724 Confederate casualties and 12,410 Union casualties. Chancellorsville had 12,764 Confederate to 16,792 Union casualties.

Gettysburg had 23,049 Union casualties and 28,063 Confederate casualties.

We can pull out worse casualties figures from World Wars I and II, but it misses the point: these Civil War figures represent Amercians killing Americans. A civil war is the darkest of the dark, and less a source of pride than of introspection.

So why does Rhetorics Professor Joshua L. Chamblerlain figure so prominently in our heritage? Professor Bainbridge quotes from Chamberlain in Today in History (posted July 2) from Chamberlain's personal recollections on the exultant response to his order:

I stepped to the colors. The men turned towards me. One word was enough- 'BAYONETS!' It caught like fire and swept along the ranks. The men took it up with a shout, one could not say whether from the pit or the song of the morning sat, it was vain to order 'Forward!'. No mortal could have heard it in the mighty hosanna that was winging the sky.
I can feel that moment; I can see the men, knowing they were out of ammunition, who turned expectantly to a commander they respected and trusted - awaiting their orders and hoping against hope that he would pull a miracle out of the fire and achieve victory. And I can hear their roar because I responded in just that manner on September 20, 2001 when my hope that my government would take the war to our attackers was proven justified.

The men holding Little Round Top were not fools nor were they cannon fodder; they were intelligent, reasoning men who knew precisely what was at stake at Gettysburg and they were determined to hold it because they knew the urgent strategic reasons that required Lee's Army be stopped there and then, and their rightful heirs are those who are capable of recognizing the same urgency in the current struggle.

Heh, Southern by Blog says that Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine DID NOT Save the Union By Their Selves and of course he is right, but the reason Chamberlain is lionized is precisely because of that audacious order "Bayonets!" and in no small part due to his loving exhortation:

“Stand firm,, ye boys of Maine, for not once in a century are men permitted to bear such responsibilities!"
He may be wrong on one point; it seems men have been permitted to bear such responsibilities more than once a century!

I look at us today and think - hope - we have emerged from nearly forty years of self-doubt and self-criticism with renewed confidence tempered by self-knowledge. As Leonard Bernstein wrote in Candide,

We're neither pure, nor wise, nor good
We'll do the best we know.
Let history judge that we are mere mortals who lack divine wisdom yet do our best within our mortal means, but let it also record that we defiantly set our sights high:

We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail. 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.

Let freedom ring!

(Bainbridge and Southern Blog links via Mudville Gazette, and Civil War casualty figures are from American Civil War Battle Statistics.)

[I apologize if this seems excessively maudlin - I just get so damned sentimental on July 4th! Those who are offended by the reverence I hold for those past and present who doggedly pursue the ideals on which our union was founded can bite me.]

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For those who walk and hold the line, I thank you

July 4 - I tried to post this last night before I went to work, but Munu was kinda wonky and it wouldn't take.

Anyway, before I catch some sleep I want to be sure to thank the men and women in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea, Guatamala and around the world who are defending those freedoms that we will be celebrating today.

Three years ago, when many of us were considering whether to encourage proposing action in Iraq, I thought about the stories I had been told about Vietnam, both the trivial and the grand, and fully understood that the risky enterprise of ending first Gulf War would lay a burden of responsibility on us all (as indeed do all weighty national decisions.)

The generals report that the troops ask if we still support them; the short answer is Yes! and a longer answer is abso-freaking-lutely!

I'm a blogger, not a reporter, and so I can elect not to post about our losses especially as I write from a foreign country, but I do grieve for the fine men and women we've lost in this operation even as I renew my resolve that their sacrifice not be in vain.

A little known character trait of many Americans is that we often don't talk about those things that lie deep within our core. We made the decision to go to Iraq, we made that decision with our eyes wide open, and nobody lied to us or misled us. We knew on September 11 that we would have to deal with Iraq sooner rather than later and, as the President laid out our goals in Afghanistan in his address to Congress, we understood that the promise he made to drive out the Taliban and bring consensual rule to Afghanistan was the opening shot in a battle that would save the people of the Mid-east as well as ourselves.

We understood these things as only a free people can understand them: instinctively, intuitively, and in every fibre of our being because Sept. 11 reconnected us with our national charcter as well as our values and love for freedom in ways that - and I say this with complete humility - transcended all other experiences in my lifetime.

The real question is not why millions of Americans recognize the connection between Sept. 11 and Saddam Hussein but rather why others do not. Us ignorant folks seemingly have a better grasp of how lives that stagnate under repression and lack of meaningful ways to express the aspirations and ambitions of the individual person can spawn the desperation of terrorism than all the nuanced fools who proclaim themselves to be our intellectual betters.

So yes, we support America's sons and daughters in the military utterly, completely and with the full weight of our hopes for a free future and we ask your forgiveness for the sacrifices we have asked of you.

Yes, we support you; yes, we support your mission and, yes, we can hardly wait until you come home.

Godspeed, and Happy July 4th!

Posted by Debbye at 07:26 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Walking the line

July 4 - Michael Yon continues to deliver some of the best commentary from a non-military source in Iraq. For those who have been reading his entries "Walking the Line," part IV is up and I highly recommend it even though it's hard - even traumatic - reading.

(If you haven't been reading Yon regularly,, be sure and read Part I, Part II and Part III.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 03, 2005

Too, too true


Toronto Sun, July 3

Bob MacDonald explains here.

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July 02, 2005

Oh, Canada

July 2 - Excellent post by Flea - He's tipped - in which he links to a post which sadly observes the lack of coherent policies in matters other than gay marriage by the Conservative Party of Canada.

The post linked to this one from N=1 who wrote some follow-up posts here, here and here. I would strongly urge Americans to read these posts, as - and I honestly mean no disrespect by this - Canadian conservatives are to some extent freed from the personal concerns of war to examine and debate issues over which we are less focused but which we should not entirely ignore.

Although I have a great deal of admiration for Stephen Harper personally and although terming a union between gay couples "marriage" is not as important to me as to others, I was worried when opposition to gay marriage was the rallying point around which the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties merged yet, as I believed there were sound reasons around which to form a political party to oppose Liberal rule, I hoped they would be able to build the party on the basis of principled opposition to the imposition of nanny statism.

Regarding the issue of gay marriage in the U.S., I am opposed to a Constitutional amendment that defines marriage (I don't think it is properly a Constitutional issue) but must admit that it has at least initiated some serious discussion over the issue, something that was missing up here as it was imposed - rightly or wrongly - by judicial fiat.

I may have been unprepared to expand my definition of marriage beyond the traditional one of being a union between a man and a woman, but it is something I know I will come to accept especially now that it has become law in Canada. Legislating it as a right and then later removing it is not something I believe I can accept because I don't believe it would be just.

Like many others, I take issue with the manner in which it came to become law but we've got out own Supreme Court issues and I am far more concerned over the recent U.S. Supreme Court Kelo decision which stripped personal property rights than the Canadian Supreme Court which awarded personal rights and am much more willing to fight the Kelo ruling than Bill C-38 (although Angry could be right, and this is will provoke contingent issues that will deepen Canadian polarization - although I fail to see how any potential challenge to monogamy can in truth be connected to recognition of gay marriage; the definition of marriage remains, in law, as being between two people.)

To put it more concisely, the decision in Kelo vs. New London has put things in perspective. Kelo clarifies that the true battleground is that of personal freedom and property rights vs. the encroachment of the state - which actually believes it has rights not accorded to it by the people - and not that of loving gay couples who want their committment to one another to be acknowledged by the state and, I suspect as importantly, by the people.

The failure of the CPC to assert itself confidently and aggressively in matters other than gay marriage at a period when Canadians are confronting increasingly higher taxes, the disaster of their health care system, the decay of their armed forces and the corruption not only of the ruling Liberal Party but of government itself has been disappointing. It is comparable to the Sept. 10 mentality of Democrats; if they truly believe that gay marriage is the most important issue facing Canadians then they are seriously out of touch with the fundamental issues facing people up here and almost as unfit to run the country as the Liberals.

The Conservative Party up here has behaved much like the Democrats in that both restrict themselves to opposing rather than proposing and thus have failed to electrify voters with vision and solutions. When will either of them grow up? The people of both countries deserve better.

July 3 - 17:20: Maybe I failed to make my one main point about gay marriage strongly enough:

To reiterate: the one prospect I find insupportable is that of allowing gays to marry yet a future Conservative Party government suddenly declaring those marriages null and void. Try to put yourselves in the position of marrying, making plans for a future together and even making joint financial investments and then imagine being told your marriage is no longer legitimate.

Forget the circusy atmosphere we see on television and some of the wilder "activists" showcased by a sensationalist media and focus on the human face of this issue. Gay couples love one another - in probably the same variables of intensity and committment as straight couples - and I believe their love is entitled to respect.

The damage to the institution of marriage was done long before gays emerged from the closet. We can blame easier divorces, the pill, Roe vs. Wade, or the sexual revolution and even the "disposable society" but we simply cannot with any honesty blame gays much less instituting gay marriage.

Continuing to oppose gay marriage now that it has passed in Parliament is much too much like the "selected not elected" crowd that has disrupted U.S. politics far too much in our recent past, and the CPC is likely to face the same kind of backlash that Democrats encountered in '04.

Lastly, a suspicious person (like me) might wonder if the focus on gay marriage as The Most Important Issue of the Day is intentionally diverting attention from other bread-and-butter issues.

There are serious challenges facing Canada and the CPC should endeavour to propose solutions to them. At the risk of getting cyber-slammed, I really think they need to "move on" and exhibit some freaking leadership.

Posted by Debbye at 09:33 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Gettysburg and Vicksburg

July 2 - Seven score and two years ago, a pivotal battle was waged in the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. A day after that battle ended, the port city of Vicksburg surrendered to Grant.

No, I'm not about to deliver a history lesson but merely noting another conflict that tested and formed our national character -- and did so despite the opposition of much of the intelligentsia and mainstream media to that war and their contempt for the president who waged it.

There was, of course, continued "insurgency" after the formal surrender at Appomattox but I've never read any of today's self-appointed deep thinkers comparing them to the Minutemen.

Posted by Debbye at 07:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The big lie and the youth

July 2 - This post by Melanie Phillips on The big lie cut straight to the chase and when it reminds readers of the known links between al Qaeda and Saddam. The gem is in the concluding paragraph:

The anti-western left has, over the course of history, fallen time after time for the propaganda of murderous tyrants who offered a handy platform for bashing the home society by providing the alibi of conscience. (Emphasis added)
The "alibi of conscience" is a wonderful turn of phrase, and quite appropriate today as I find it more heartbreaking than humorous that so many young people are attending or watching Live Eight concerts in the assured belief that the money raised can actually turn the tide in Africa when any rational person has to admit, however privately, that what Africa really needs is decent, honest leadership. I am beginning to realize that trying to nurture the ideals of the young without shattering their idealism with reality is impossible:
The investment of personal, political and moral identity that this represents is so immense that after a short while such gullible dupes are simply incapable of recognising reality even when it stares them in the face. Hence their stupefaction when confronted with the enormities of Robespierre, Stalin or Mao. To that list must now be added the Islamic jihad and Saddam Hussein.
There is a sobering warning in her conclusion:
The difference is that this time these useful idiots have taken the middling people of Britain and Europe – and increasingly, it seems, of America – with them into the land of deluded wishful thinking. The result could be that this war against the jihadi terror could be lost -- at home.
She could well be addressing Canadians too.

More on the youth and the lies they are fed, Peaktalk writes about The Benefits of Underage Labor (in which he links to this post by Kate about her childhood work experiences.) In addition to the inevitable paper route, my kids also worked at movie theatres, which seems to be a fairly predominant rite of passage for city dwelling high school and college students, and I must admit that I was initially astonished that the middle child stayed at the job, given his fairly laid back approach to life, and his perseverence and dedication at that job laid to rest my fears that he had somehow failed to inherit the work gene.

Inserting a quick aside to Kate's post for a moment, my morning bus driver made a similar observation connecting childhood obesity to the lack of support for public school athletic programs.

Further on this theme, Michelle Malkin writes on how the feel-good therapy crowd is trying to turn us into a nation of namby-pambies (link via Newsbeat1.)

The latest example of Hand-Holding 101 comes from the New York City public schools. According to Lauren Collins of the New Yorker magazine, the school system is introducing a new curriculum called "Operation Respect: Don't Laugh at Me" into all its elementary and middle schools. The program is now used in at least 12,000 schools and camps across the country.
Ostensibly, the program helps kids deal with petty meanness and name-calling from insensitive classmates, not by instructing them in self-defense, mind you, but by inflating their self-esteem. The organization's mission is "to transform schools, camps and organizations focused on children and youth, into more compassionate, safe and respectful environments." Instead of "putdowns," teachers encourage "put-ups."
I'd be in favour of assigning "push-ups" in response to "put-downs" and childhood obesity, but that's just me.
The Operation Respect Web site depicts well-adjusted children holding up ego-affirming signs reading: "Ridicule Free Zone," "No Dissing Here," "U Matter," and "Peace Place."
Mark just said that he knows who he'll be beating up for lunch money. I love that man!

There's so much renewed value in the old adage regarding "sticks and stones." There are people who really are trying to break our bones, and that seems more worthy of our attention than worrying over potential hurt feelings caused by the names Americans are being called internationally. (I know it bothered Sen. Kerry, but it doesn't bother me until it becomes personal, a still relatively minor hazard here in Toronto compared to, again, issues like death.)

It also doesn't hurt that our folks taught us to ignore "peer pressure" and to do what was right, not what was popular.

What to say? By all means, let's add the nation's youth into the growing list of "victims" in our society. Let's strip them of their dignity and urge for self-sufficiency and teach them that self-defense and the work ethic are wrong. What's to lose, except for minor qualities like the vigor and strength exhibited by citizens in a confident nation?

Posted by Debbye at 04:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Yay! Alien Attitudes!

July 2 - Munu's Tiger (aka Terence Russell) has finally published Alien Attitudes - Alura, Alien at Large.

It's available both in paperback and in download at the above link. Tig talks more about it here and reports on an unexpected sighting from Roswell here.

Posted by Debbye at 01:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A pack, not a herd

July 2 - Missing Idaho Girl, 8, Found Alive and Well:

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Shasta Groene, whose mother, oldest brother and mother's boyfriend were bludgeoned to death at their home outside this mountain town six weeks ago, was discovered alive early Saturday morning by a waitress at a local Denny's restaurant.


Local news reports said Duncan and Shasta Groene walked into the Denny's at about 2 a.m. PDT. A waitress noticed the girl and, after consulting photos in a recent newspaper, called 911. She then served the girl a milkshake and stalled the pair's service until police arrived. (Emphasis added)

I'm groping for words to express my awe at this waitress: she kept her cool, stalled the monster, and later comforted Shasta after her abductor had been taken into custody.

This is one damned appropriate story as we celebrate July 4th. The strength of our country depends not on whatever politicians and bureaucrats are in charge but in the willingness of each and every citizen to stand up and take action when required by chance and circumstance.

I humbly retract a comment I made here on the coverage of the missing girl in Aruba [I know her name, but don't want googlers to land here thinking I'm covering the story] because the waitress consulted a recent newspaper to confirm her suspicion that the young girl was Shasta. There is indeed value in maintaining hope even when it seems to be in vain.

19:36: It (stupidly) hadn't occurred to me that people might not understand the meaning of the title. This explains it.

Posted by Debbye at 12:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack