May 15, 2006

The Last Battle

May 15 - I used to love books about Elizabeth I when I was a girl and have enjoyed the Helen Mirren two-part series now showing on TMN. There are always lessons from history, but the outcome of historical events should not blind us to the fact that, had those wars not been waged, the Western civilization we celebrate today may not have evolved.

In short, had either side surrendered without a struggle, would religious tolerance have triumphed?

I think it unlikely. I can understand why so many want to take a short cut, but much as we deplore war, war has come to us just as it came to the Protestants in those days and we have only two choices: fight on our feet now or die on our knees later. This Westerner's temperment is not suited for submission and, in the spirit of the ancient Greeks to whom we owe so much of our civilization, I do not prostrate in fear before my God but stand before Him freely filled with the awe of the love and compassion He has shown both those who have accepted Him and those who have not yet nonethless walk the path of righteousness.

Don't take that to mean I am a good Christian. I'm not. I suffer terribly from pride and I find it hard to forgive my enemies. It takes me a long time to build a grudge but once I have one it's difficult for me to let it go. I pay to Caesar that which is owed to Caesar but it's only money, after all, because my soul remains free.

I believe that the theory of evolution best fits the scientific knowledge we have accumulated but I'm always struck at questions that eventually circle around to what happened one second before the big bang and that too feels me with awe. For someone who really sucked in science I am nonethleless a most curious person who can delight in the little bits of plate techtonics and quest for the Theory of Everything that I can grasp. Indeed, the theory of evolution or the prospect of life on other planets doesn't dissuade me from belief in a benign deity but confirms it, and if there is anything I don't understand it is how discovery of life on other planets would destroy our faith in God.

If God created rational, creative life on one planet why wouldn't He do it on other planets? If we truly understand what it means to celebrate life then why wouldn't we expect to find life throughout the universe?

Such thoughts fill me on Mother's Day because, like many women, I worry that I have borne sons who are destined to fight a war that my generation failed to wage. But unlike the appeasers and defeatists, I know I didn't bring children into this world to be slaves but to be free men who would chart their own destinies and that is both a blessing and a curse.

Some books stay with you longer. I can't tell you why The Last Battle, the 6th books in C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, was my long-time favourite of the series, but the events of these past years have caused me to revisit this book and see it in a different light. Did C.S. Lewis foresee a potential danger clearer than us sophisticated, modern folk? This portion from Chapter III has haunted me:

The Ape jumped up and spat at the Lamb. .."Tash is only another name for Aslan. All that old idea of us being right and the Calmormenes wrong is silly. We know better now. The Calormenese use different words but we all mean the same thing. Tash and Aslan are only two different names for you know Who. That's why there can never be any quarrel between them. Get that into your heads, you stupid brutes. Tash is Aslan. Aslan is Tash."


"Excuse me," said the Cat very politely, "but this interests me. "Does your friend from Calormene say the same?"

"Assuredly,"" said the Calormene. "The enlightened Ape--Man, I mean--is in the right. Aslan means neither less nor more than Tash."

"Especially, Aslan means no more than Tash?" suggested the Cat.

"No more at all," said the Carormene, looking the Cat straight in the face.


... But now, as Tirian looked round on the miserable faces of the Narnians, and saw how they would believe that Aslan and Tash were one and the same, he could bear it no longer.

"Ape," he cried with a great voice, "you lie. You lie damnably. You lie like a Calormene. You lie like an Ape."

He meant to go on and ask how the terrible god Tash who fed on the blood of his people could possible be the same as the good Lion by whose blood all Narnian was saved. If he has been allowed to speak, the rule of the Ape might have ended that day; ...

The Cat's question and his conclusions from the answer should raise the question as to how any Christian - let alone a Pope - can kiss the Koran because the question and answer is that of an atheist, not a believer. As the forces for both deities are aligned today, it is clear that Allah is not God and God is not Allah unless neither exist, yet it is in noting whose blood was spent for salvation that we find the key difference which belies the assertion that we all worship the same God.

My God asks that I expend my blood to save that of innocents. Their Allah demands that the blood of innocents be shed for his glory.

The martyrs of my religions gave their lives freely without taking life in affirmation of their belief in one true God. The martyrs of Mohammed's religion have become martyrs by taking the lives of others.

I wish there was an easier path. I wish it could be resolved with dialogue and no loss of blood. I wish that my wishes were not so futile.

Now read Sword Without Leniency by Bruce Thornton (via Newsbeat1) and remember that we already have been already converted to the "true faith" -- the one that gives life, not death, and the one which, through the gift of freedom, allows us to find God through affirmation, not submission, and that it is through our journeys by different paths that we affirm that the gift of free will is the path to righteousness.

On this day, the day after Mother's Day, I wish I could wish peace be upon us but I fear the best I can wish is that we raise our sons and daughters well and that we keep our faith with the mothers before us who grieved to know that their sons were needed to fight a war no one wanted but one that came to us nevertheless. It is our curse and our blessing, and although it is not of our choosing, we must take that which has given to us and know that future generations will not decry our lack of courage.

And that, in truth, is the one lesson history teaches us: that we accept the burdens bequeathed to us and bear them as have those before us.

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April 03, 2006

Whittle goes Heinlein

Apr. 3 - Or at least that's my take on the parameters he sets in LOST IN SPACE.

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February 19, 2006


Feb. 19 - Victor Davis Hanson addresses the question behind the issues raised by the Cartoon Controversy: are we finally seeing A European Awakening Against Islamic Fascism?

(Via Newsbeat1, who has a terrific line-up of solid reading. Just start at the top and keep scrolling.)

[Aside: Canada trails Finland 2-0 in men's hockey. This seems like a really good time to get out of the living room and grab some sleep.]

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October 14, 2005

Strangelets and black holes and frazzling , oh my!

Oct. 14 - How to destroy the Earth contains a modest disclaimer:

Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe.


The Earth was built to last. It is a 4,550,000,000-year-old, 5,973,600,000,000,000,000,000-tonne ball of iron. It has taken more devastating asteroid hits in its lifetime than you've had hot dinners, and lo, it still orbits merrily. So my first piece of advice to you, dear would-be Earth-destroyer, is: do NOT think this will be easy.

(Via Ambient Irony, and please be sure and read his post on this because it's very funny.)

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September 23, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson

Sept. 23 - One last thing before I head out. Friday is VDH day at the National Review, and he manages to bring freshness to the old debate over keeping Iraq one, intact nation (Strategy, Strategy Everywhere ....)

I haven't intentionally quit making the case for the war in Iraq, but I find it hard to keep re-cycling the same arguments (besides, it makes me cranky to keep saying the same thng over and over and, you know. Over. Blame it on my kids.)

I can't excerpt from Hanson. The narrative is too tight. Just read it.

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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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May 22, 2005

Mark Steyn on the recent Newsweek unpleasantness

May 22 - New Mark Steyn column in the Chicago Sun-Times on the fall-out from that Newsweek article and the opportunistic manipulation of it by Imran Khan: Cricket star knows how to fire up fanatics.

Steyn calls Imran Khan, who wants to be involved in Pakistan politics, an opportunist:

So, having demonstrated little previous interest in the preoccupations of the Muslim street, Imran then began pandering to it. I doubt whether he personally cared about that Newsweek story one way or the other, but he's an opportunist and that's why he went out of his way to incite his excitable followers.

It's not the mobs, so much as the determination of the elites to keep their peoples in a state of ignorance. The most educationally repressive form of Islam, for example, is funded and promoted by Saudi princes who, though not as handsome as Imran, also spend a lot of time in the West -- gambling, drinking, womanizing and indulging other tastes that even the wildest night on the tiles in Riyadh just can't sate. Whereas most advanced societies believe that an educated population is vital to the national interest, many Muslim elites seem to have concluded than an uneducated population is actually far more useful. And, when you look at Saudi funding of radical madrassahs in hitherto moderate Muslim regions from the Balkans to Indonesia, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that they're having great success de-educating hitherto relatively savvy parts of the world.

As a sidenote, those complaining that members of the Bush administration put undue pressure on Newsweek to retract the item have, as usual, missed the point: it is the steady erosion of trust Americans once had in the news media that is the biggest danger to our country.

They've cried Wolf! so often that a true story of wrong-doing may well be ignored, and that endangers our country. That's the betrayal, and that's what they don't get.

Posted by Debbye at 07:49 AM | Comments (3)

May 19, 2005


May 19 - Bill Whittle's new essay Sanctuary Part I and Part II are up!

Here’s my thesis: Civilizations fall because they become so successful that their citizens become, over many generations of increasing security and prosperity, further and further away from the reality of the human condition. The quest for “better” becomes so successful that after a few generations of hard work and ingenuity we have nothing left but the quest for “perfect.” More and more effort produces fewer and smaller results, because the quest for perfection is asymptotic. Perfection is unattainable.


Why then, do so many people – most of them on the far left – so fundamentally hate humanity?


So why -- someone? anyone? – why do otherwise intelligent and educated people so despise and detest American society, which has achieved more in the way of individual rights, science, arts, medicine, diversity, cooperation and prosperity than any other in history? Why would they oppose such a society when it is trying to bring these blessings to people who have spent thirty years cowering in dark places, fearful of letting the slightest word slip, or betraying their entire family with an askew glance or unguarded moment? Why would someone so viciously oppose freeing a People who have lived for a generation in total, abject fear?

It’s because they have never lived it. That is what I mean when I say reality has left their building. How many people would be opposing the war in Iraq if they had to watch, actually witness, three or four hundred thousand people being shot in the head in front of their families? At the rate of one life taken every single second, with one unique and irreplaceable person being extinguished every tick of the 60 Minutes stopwatch, going without sleep or rest, you would be at it for three and a half days. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Every face unique, every one someone’s son or mother or precious grandchild. Bang. Bang. Bang. All night and all day, every second for three and a half days. How long to wipe out your entire family? Four seconds? Eight? Thirteen? We have found that many in Iraq, more will follow, believe me.

How many children – four or five year old boys and girls – do you need to see raped in front of you before you change your mind about Iraq? Fifty? Fifty thousand? Will that make a dent in your stainless steel belief system? How many cries for mercy in the muffled corridors of prison basements? Ten thousand? Ten times ten thousand? They were there. They happened.

They just didn’t happen to you.

I could boil it down to "count your blessings" but then I'd be boiling too much out ... do we even remember what our blessings are?

Better brew a pot.

Posted by Debbye at 11:23 AM | Comments (1)

April 14, 2005

The "fiscal imblance as dark matter"

Apr. 14 - Andre Coyne absolutely rocks. I am floored that the existence of dark matter is proven because scientists weighed the universe and found something was missing ... I know there isn't some cosmic scale that they used, but being a Lowly Humnities Major I get close to these kinds of theories and then they slip right past me.

So what does dark matter have to do with the Defining the "fiscal imbalance"?

One of the delights of federal-provincial relations is the ingenuity with which the premiers find new ways to rationalize the same unchanging demand for more money. ..

Remember the 18% ratio? That was the percentage of all provincial health spending that Ottawa was obliged to pony up, some years back, or risk violating one or another of the laws of thermodynamics. The accounting was dubious enough -- the provinces conveniently forgot about federal transfers in the form of tax points, and in any event the money all goes into provincial general revenues, not some sequestered bank account marked “health” -- but no more so than the underlying principle. Which was … what, exactly? Well, 18% was what Ottawa used to kick in “for health,” circa 1995, before the “unilateral” (ie federal) reductions in federal transfers to the provinces imposed in that year’s budget. And why should that be any sort of benchmark? ...

Lately the premiers have discovered a new formula. .. The fiscal imbalance is one of those things like dark matter or quantum uncertainty that defy comprehension by the ordinary layman. Its precise magnitude has been the subject of countless arcane calculations -- the government of Quebec devoted a whole white paper to the subject -- but its basic mathematical expression may be reduced, by a combination of Lagrange polynomial interpolation and dead reckoning, to two lines: 1. Ottawa has money. 2. We want it.

Read. It.

Posted by Debbye at 11:07 AM | Comments (2)

March 01, 2005

Mark Steyn

Mar. 1 - New column up at the Telegraph (UK) by Mark Steyn, The Arabs' Berlin Wall has crumbled, in which he looks at the rapid shifts in policies in Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the displeasure of Palestinians over the latest terrorist attack in Israel and asks:

Why is all this happening? Answer: January 30. Don't take my word for it, listen to Walid Jumblatt, big-time Lebanese Druze leader and a man of impeccable anti-American credentials: "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Berlin Wall has fallen."

... In the space of a month, the Iraq election has become the prism through which all other events in the region are seen.

No, I can't condense Steyn. Just read it.

Posted by Debbye at 08:37 PM | Comments (15)

February 28, 2005

Mark Steyn

Feb. 28 - Mark Steyn looks at the President's recent European trip and the Aftermath balance sheet.

Mark re-states something about life in Europe that we in North America find incomprehensible, i.e., the failure of European countries to bring Muslim immigrants into the mainstream and, although he doesn't state it, provide them with economic freedom, i.e., employment:

Even more remarkably, aside from sticking to his guns in the wider world, Mr. Bush found time to cast his eye upon Europe's internal affairs. He told his Brussels audience, in his tour's first speech, "We must reject anti-Semitism in all forms and we must condemn violence such as that seen in the Netherlands."

The Euro-bigwigs shuffled their feet and stared coldly into their mistresses' decolletage. They knew Mr. Bush wasn't talking about anti-Semitism in Nebraska, but about France, where for three years there has been a sustained campaign of synagogue burning and cemetery desecration, and Germany, where the Berlin police advise Jewish residents not to go out in public wearing any identifying marks of their faith. The "violence in the Netherlands" is a reference to Theo van Gogh, murdered by a Dutch Islamist for making a film critical of the Muslim treatment of women. Van Gogh's professional colleagues reacted to this assault on freedom of speech by canceling his movie from the Rotterdam Film Festival and scheduling some Islamist propaganda instead.

The president, in other words, understands that for Europe, unlike America, the war on terror is an internal affair, a matter of defusing large unassimilated radicalized Muslim immigrant populations before they provoke the inevitable resurgence of opportunist political movements feeding off old hatreds. Difficult trick to pull off, especially on the Continent where the ruling elite feels it's in the people's best interest not to pay any attention to them.
People tend to migrate in order to build a better lives for themselves and more emphastically for their children, and maybe we don't pay quite enough attention to something which marks a major difference between North America and much of Europe, namely our willingness to welcome those of other cultures and encourage their participation in the workforce in accordance with their ambitions and skills.

Posted by Debbye at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2005

Mark Steyn speaks

Feb. 20 - Mark Steyn's regular column in The Western Standard was on Canada's least-known person, Paul Desmarais:

... there has indeed been a Canadian making a difference in the world-and if The National wanted to do a 133-part special report on him, for once they’d have enough material. Most of us know Paul Desmarais as the . . . [those ellipses in original] well, let’s hold it there: most Canadians don’t know Paul Desmarais at all. You could stop the first thousand people walking down Yonge Street and I’ll bet no one would know who he is. But the few who do know him know him as the kingmaker behind Trudeau, Mulroney, Chrétien and Martin. Jean Chrétien’s daughter is married to Paul Desmarais’s son. Paul Martin was an employee of M. Desmarais’s Power Corp., and his Canada Steamship Lines was originally a subsidiary of Power Corp. that M. Desmarais put Mr. Martin in charge of. In other words, Paul Martin’s public identity--successful self-made businessman, not just a career pol, knows how to meet payroll, etc.--is entirely derived from the patronage of M. Desmarais.

Imagine if Jenna Bush married the chairman of Halliburton’s son, and then George W. Bush was succeeded by a president who’d been an employee of Halliburton: Michael Moore’s next documentary would be buried under wall-to-wall Oscars and Palmes d’Or. But M. Desmarais has managed to turn Ottawa into a company town without anyone being aware of the company. .. Power Corp.’s other alumni range from Quebec premiers to Canada’s most prominent international diplomat, Maurice Strong. In fairness, you don’t have to work for M. Desmarais to reach the top of the greasy pole-Kim Campbell managed it, for about a week and a half.

And down to the heart of it:
we’re in the middle of the UN Oil-for-Fraud investigation, the all-time biggest scam, bigger than Enron and Worldcom and all the rest added together. And whaddaya know? The bank that handled all the money from the program turns out to be BNP Paribas, which tends to get designated by Associated Press and co. as a “French bank” but is, as it happens, controlled by one of M. Desmarais’s holding companies. That alone should cause even the droopiest bloodhound to pick up a scent: the UN’s banker for its Iraqi “humanitarian” program turns out to be (to all intents) Saddam’s favourite oilman.
Read the whole thing.

On a (relatively) lighter note, as the President begins his European tour, Mark Steyn asks and answers the burning question of the day: What's US policy on Europe? No giggling.

What does all this mean? Nothing. In victory, magnanimity – and right now Bush can afford to be magnanimous, even if Europe isn't yet ready to acknowledge his victory. On Thursday, in a discussion of "the greater Middle East", the President remarked that Syria was "out of step". And, amazingly, he's right. Not so long ago, Syria was perfectly in step with the Middle East – it was the archetypal squalid stable Arab dictatorship. Two years on, Syria hasn't changed, but Iraq has, and, to varying degrees, the momentum in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon (where the Syrians have overplayed their hand) is also in the Bush direction. Boy Assad finds himself in the position of the unfortunate soldier in Irving Berlin's First World War marching song, "They Were All Out Of Step But Jim".

The EU isn't the Arab League, though for much of the past three years it's been hard to tell the difference. But it, too, is out of step. The question is whether the Europeans are smart enough, like the savvier Sunnis in Iraq, to realise it. The Washington Post's Fred Hiatt compared the President's inaugural speech with Gerhard Schröder's keynote address to the Munich Conference on Security Policy last week and observed that, while both men talked about the Middle East, terrorism and 21st-century security threats, Mr Bush used the word "freedom" 27 times while Herr Schröder uttered it not once; he preferred to emphasise, as if it were still March 2003 and he were Arab League Secretary-General, "stability" – the old realpolitik fetish the Administration has explicitly disavowed. It's not just that the two sides aren't speaking the same language, but that the key phrases of Mr Bush's vocabulary don't seem to exist in Chirac's or Schröder's.

By the Way, SteynOnline is off it's brief (?!) hiatus and open for your one-stop Steyn reading spot.

Feb. 23 - Austin Bay disagrees with Mark Steyn on the death of the West:

Steyn’s “bleakest last sentence” (to quote Roger Simon) is way too fin d’siecle. Steyn writes: “This week we’re toasting the end of an idea: the death of “the West".” Try and tell that to Ukraine and Poland– and for that matter, Denmark. Post- Theo van Gogh Holland may also object.
Valid point. I too have to remind myself to distinguish between "Old" and "New" Europes.

Feb. 28 - Mark Steyn responds to Austin Bay here (scroll down.) Very worthwhile read.

Posted by Debbye at 03:00 PM | Comments (10)

February 01, 2005

Mark Steyn

Feb. 1 - Mark Steyn comments on the recent elections in Iraq, a demonstration in Spain which protested those elections and makes other trenchant observations in his Telegraph (UK) column Iraq is now the home of the brave - and soon the free. He draws a brilliant picture of one of the many ways ripples of freedom spread:

... The most fascinating detail in the big picture was this: Iraqi expats weren't voting just in Sydney and London and Los Angeles, but also in Syria. Think about that. If you're an Iraqi in Syria, you can vote for the political party of your choice. If you're a Syrian in Syria, you have no choice at all. Which of those arrangements is the one with a future?
Want more Steyn? He officially announces the addition of election fiasco in Iraq to "post-9/11 Western media fictions" alongside the brutal Afghan winters, seething Arab street, etc., in his column The 'civil war' that wasn't in The Australian (latter link via Tim Blair.)

10:40: Hmm. Tomorrow is Ground Hog Day, so I suggest that all reflexively anti-American negativists and nay-sayers look for their shadows tomorrow and if they don't see a civil war and if we haven't begun construction of an oil pipeline across Afghanistan and if we aren't stealing Iraqi oil then they'll just shut up for the next 6 weeks!

Bonus points if they just stay in their holes for the next 6 weeks.

Posted by Debbye at 08:00 AM | Comments (2)

November 30, 2004

Happy birthday, Sir Winston!

Nov. 30 - Mike Campbell, Canada's leading Churchill scholar to the blogosphere, advises a dram of good single malt is an acceptable alternative to brandy in celebration of Churchill's 130th birthday.

Sir Winston has been in the minds of many of us since the president warned we were about to begin a long and arduous war on terrorism, and I've learned much more from Mike's Churchill webpage and posts than all the history courses I took (and this admission from a history major!) and although, alas, he debunks the myth of Charlie, Churchill's supposed Nazi-bashing trash-talking parrot, there is much about Churchill's true accomplishments to give great heart and courage in the struggle we face today.

The decision to go to war against the fascists of Germany, Italy and the militarists of Japan was long in coming (and in the case of the USA painfully overdue) but at that time too was a strong pacifist movement that earnestly in some cases and mendaciously in others opposed that war. Yet Churchill persevered and the British were far readier for war when it came than, quite frankly, we were when it came to us on Sept. 11.

Many others have pointed out that the harsh cost to Europeans in that war was not because they engaged in it but because they delayed so long; as history doesn't allow for do-overs those arguments necessarily remain conjecture only, but I think the present war puts that argument to the test and, as always, history alone will judge (which is another way of saying history will smile if we are successful and frown if we are not. History isn't really all that complicated.)

A portion of making mature judgements is understanding when conflict can be avoided and when it cannot (many successful careers, marriages and childhood raising issues rely on just those decisions) and even when policies of appeasement were approved, Churchill stood true to his convictions even though he went against international opinion.

I find realism and resolve personified in Sir Winston. He has inspired many of us, including Ghost of a Flea and his ongoing Winston Review (the most recent is No. 21) and I think Churchill would take great satisfaction that his spirit guides and nourishes us today.

Thank you, Sir Winston, and a very happy birthday.

Posted by Debbye at 01:27 PM | Comments (2)

November 02, 2004

Election and Good Advice

Nov. 2 - I predict that a lot of you won't get much more sleep tonight than I did today and that, whatever the outcome, we will survive.

I feel a sense of relief that it's over, and both sides know they have done their best. [Update Nov. 3: I spoke too soon! It isn't over yet ...] It will be interesting to see if there are any observable after-effects of the unprecedented voter turnout and renewed political activism of so many citizens.

Greyhawk is giving some Free Advice, which I think is one of his finest pieces yet.

Until tomorrow.

Posted by Debbye at 07:58 PM | Comments (3)

June 19, 2004

Ray Charles, 1930-2004 (conclusion)

June 19 - Ray Charles was buried yesterday, and even though I can't help but feel that a part of us was buried too, that feeling is contradicted by those who spoke, sang and played at his funeral (Heaven's maestro) including Wynton Marsalis, Steve Wonder and B.B. King.

God bless you, Ray, and thanks.

Posted by Debbye at 07:18 AM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2004

Ray Charles, 1930-2004

Ray Charles.jpg

Ray Charles has Died.

Damn. Double damn. The man was supposed to go on forever. He made so much music (both written and performed) and is even credited with starting The Twist. (Chubby Checker made the song famous, but Ray is said to have started it all in New York's Peppermint Lounge.)

I was pretty young when "Hit the Road, Jack" came out, but I remember my friends and I all singing it loudly and joyously. Ray had a loving sense of humour that came through so many of his songs.

He shaped American culture and therefore us. Thank you, Ray.

Posted by Debbye at 05:22 PM | Comments (2)

June 03, 2004

Roger L. Simon, Disaffected Liberal

June 3 - One of my favourite bloggers is interviewed by Andrew Leigh for the National Review.

Posted by Debbye at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2004

Mark Steyn on Memorial Day

May 30 - The great one marks Memorial Day by pointing to the ubiquitous victimology that dominates our senile Old Media and elites in Recalling a time when setbacks didn't deter us recalling the turmoil of the Civil War:

But that's the difference between then and now: the loss of proportion. They had victims galore back in 1863, but they weren't a victim culture. They had a lot of crummy decisions and bureaucratic screwups worth re-examining, but they weren't a nation that prioritized retroactive pseudo-legalistic self-flagellating vaudeville over all else. They had hellish setbacks but they didn't lose sight of the forest in order to obsess week after week on one tiny twig of one weedy little tree.

There is something not just ridiculous but unbecoming about a hyperpower 300 million strong whose elites -- from the deranged former vice president down -- want the outcome of a war, and the fate of a nation, to hinge on one freaky jailhouse; elites who are willing to pay any price, bear any burden, as long as it's pain-free, squeaky clean and over in a week. The sheer silliness dishonors the memory of all those we're supposed to be remembering this Memorial Day.

There's another difference too: after the Civil War, it was the victors who "waved the bloody shirt" in order to justify the imposition of harsh conditions on the defeated South. It became as tiresome and a sure sign of hypocrisy as, well, "it's for the children."

Today it's those opposed to the war who wave the bloody shirt, presumably to prove they support the troops although they oppose the mission, and they too have become tiresome.

I'm a little out of the newsloop. Every time I turned on CNN we were back to old photos out of Abu Ghraib with a brief foray which tried to depict disgraced Gen. Kapinski as a victim or attempts to paint the situation in Najaf as failed negotiations even as they report the numbers of more dead al Mehdi thugs. Evidently Old Media failed to draw some lessons about strategy from events at Fallujah. As for Fallujah, it's off the map now, which tells me things are going according to plan.

CNN dutifully reported on the discovery of more sarin and mustard gas but the commentator (David Ensor, I think?) said that they were old, pre-Gulf War I, but still "technically" WMD. Usually the death-quoted "technically" is followed by an explanation of what something "really" is, but the pundit left it there. Nice spin. Do "old" WMD not indicate the violation of the ceasefire agreement that halted Gulf War I and several subsequent UN resolutions? Do "old" WMD not kill?

The goal posts were moved after Dr. Kay's report which said that although they had not found stockpiles of WMD they had found active weapons programs and numerous violations of the ceasefire and UN resolutions.

Now it seems nothing will do but finding a huge cache of WMD with a sign that says "Saddam's Personal Stash."

I'm still an unreconstructed optimist: every dead Medhi fighter is one more reason to be optimistic about the June 30 handover. Iran's withdrawal of support for Muqtada al Sadr is another reason to be optimistic.

The question in November is becoming, increasingly, the extent to which the American public can read past the propaganda and spin put out by Old Media and use their common sense.

Posted by Debbye at 01:11 PM | Comments (2)

May 26, 2004

Fix Bayonets

May 26 - Ghost of a Flea sent me this link to a Steyn column in the Chicago Sun-Times, Don't give Iraqis self-rule all at once.

Mark refers to events from a Sun (UK) leader (since expired) (UPDATE: link to article in the Scotsman on the engagement here) which Flea had referred to here about a group of Argyll and Sutherland highlanders who fixed bayonets and charged after coming under fire in Amara.

As always, Mark gets it:

If you're used to smart bombs, unmanned drones and doing it all by computer back at HQ, you're probably wondering why a modern Western army is still running around with bayonets at the end of their rifles. The answer is that it's a very basic form of psychological warfare.

''If you're defending a position and you see someone advancing with a bayonet, you may be more inclined to surrender,'' Col. Ed Brown told the British newspaper the Guardian. ''I've never been bayoneted, but I can imagine it's pretty gruesome.''

Resolve in battle and politics means using all the tools in your box.

Of course, the column is about more than the use of a bayonet charge in modern warfare (it is Steyn, after all) and looks at something very basic to the future of Iraq:

There are some 8,000 towns and villages in the country. How many do you hear about on the news? For a week, it's all Fallujah all the time. Then it's Najaf, and nada for anywhere else. Currently, 90 percent of Iraqi coverage is about one lousy building: Abu Ghraib. So what's going on in the other 7,997 dots on the map?
The "news we trust" is curiously silent on that point, but probably because it's hard to report much news when one's views are filtered through a poolside perch in the Palestine Hotel.
In the Shia province of Dhi Qar, a couple hundred miles southeast of Baghdad, 16 of the biggest 20 cities plus many smaller towns will have elected councils by June. These were the first free elections in Dhi Qar's history and ''in almost every case, secular independents and representatives of nonreligious parties did better than the Islamists.'' That assessment is from the anti-war anti-Bush anti-Blair Euro-lefties at the Guardian, by the way.
President Bush made much the same point in his speech Monday night (see Towards a Free Iraq below) and the theme is the same: grass roots democracy is the well-spring from which consensual government is nourished and protected.
The best bulwark against tyranny is a population that knows the benefits of freedom, as the Iraqi Kurds do. Don't make the mistake of turning Iraq into a dysfunctional American public school, where the smart guys get held down to the low standards of the misfits and in the end they all get the same social promotion anyway. Let's get on with giving the Kurdish and Shia areas elected governors and practical sovereignty, province by province.

And then fix bayonets and stick it to the holdouts.

Posted by Debbye at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2004


May 22

Honor and shame trump everything in that world. A pithy sentence, eh? So instead, think about what it would take for you to kill your own daughter with a knife, with your bare hands, because she was seen in the company of a man not her husband or a relative? Think about that. Think long and hard.
What would it take for you to murder your daughter with a knife, or a knotted cord – with your own two hands and against her pleading, her protestations, and her begging for her life? If your response wasn’t “there is nothing that could make me do that,” then stop reading right here and get the hell off my property.
From Bill Whittle's latest essay, Strength, (part 1). (part 2 is here.)
Posted by Debbye at 10:52 PM | Comments (2)

May 20, 2004

Lileks and Steyn

May 20 - What a glory the internet is: I get to invoke the names of James Lileks and Mark Steyn in one sentence.

From Lileks:

Hello, it’s another Seymour Hersh article on the prison scandal.

Anything on the Berg slaughter? Alas, no. That was a one-off, it seems, an aberration. Move along, nothing to see. Hersh’s article ends: “’We’re giving the world a ready-made excuse to ignore the Geneva Convention. Rumsfeld has lowered the bar.’” Ah. Hereafter the terrorists will be emboldened to saw people’s heads off with dull blades. I’m not going to get into any of that, except to say: 1. the UN Food-for-Oil scandal continues apace. And 2. The first sentence has been handed down in the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal. A downgrade, a bad-conduct discharge, a year in the pokey.

Questions: is the Oil-for-Food scandal characteristic of the UN, or not? Is the Abu Ghraib scandal characteristic of the US Armed Forces, or not?

Which body acted swiftly to investigate? Which body opened itself to public hearings and condemnations? Which body put the bad guy in the dock, held a trial, and pronounced sentence?

Mark Steyn in UN fetish:
The best rule of politics is this: Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Is the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq perfect? No.
Is it good? Yes.
Was Saddam Hussein's rule perfect? No.
Was it good? No.


Is the UN perfect? No.

Is the UN good? Well, I'm not sure I'd even say that. But if you object to what's going on in those Abu Ghraib pictures - the sexual humiliation of prisoners and their conscription as a vast army of extras in their guards' porno fantasies - then you might want to think twice about handing over Iraq to the UN.

In Eritrea, the government recently accused the UN mission of, among other offences, pedophilia. In Cambodia, UN troops fueled an explosion of child prostitutes and AIDS. Amnesty International reports that the UN mission in Kosovo has presided over a massive expansion of the sex trade, with girls as young as 11 being lured from Moldova and Bulgaria to service international peacekeepers.

There's a lot more, so you know what to do (besides, it's Steyn!)

Does anyone remember the president mentioning the child sex trade and slavery recently? Yes.
Does anyone remember Kerry mentioning those two issues? How about Chirac? Shoeder? Putin?

Posted by Debbye at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2004

Belmont Club, the DoD, Blackfile and Mudville Gazette

May 19 - One of my first daily reads is Belmont Club. (Sometimes I have to hit the refresh button to get the site to load properly, danged blogger, but it's worth it.)

Then I go to the Defend America website and read incredibly important announcements like this one and then back to Belmont Club later after in the day to see if Wretchard analyzes it.

Dod and Wretchard have a lot in common: they are both concise and have to be read more than once to get the full impact.

Look, I'm a product of the 60's. It feels weird to me to trust things coming out of Department of Defense too, but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding, and DoD has been consistently correct.

Should I trust Old Media, who have a poor track record, or DoD, who has a good track record?

So common sense compells me to drop old prejudices.

Back to Belmont, Wretchard is indispensable to anyone who wants to understand what the military is doing in Iraq.

Why? Because of little things like the three posts: "Magnolias by the Euphrates," "Magnolias by the Euphrates II," and the "Last Magnolias by the Euphrates." (Permalinks messed up, so maybe you should just go to the end of the page and scroll up.)

Because Wretchard saw and commented on the containment and constriction strategy in Fallujah.

Because Wretchard saw the partnership with the Iraq political and religious leadership in the isolation of Muqtada al-Sadr.

We are approaching the anniversary of D-Day, which by the way was a Major Military Operation.

Old Media doesn't understand military strategy or war. CNN can parade generals who have too much common sense to reveal what they think is going on or idiots who failed to recognize that OIF was a ground campaign so kept fretting that the air assault hadn't happened.

I have to go to work, but I got some real sleep yesterday and will be able to post and catch up on my correspondence (with many apologies to those to whom I owe letters.)

By the way, other daily reads are Blackfive and Greyhawk.

See this from Blackfive and consider the full implications.

Maybe that post illustrates best why I have so much faith in our mission in Iraq. Remember, it's named "Operation: Iraqi Freedom."

God bless America, and always honour those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 04:30 AM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2004

Mark Steyn

May 17 - Now's not the time for Bush to go soft:

The American people, no thanks to their media, still understand what's real and what's just cheesy Beltway dinner-theater. That's why the Abu Ghraib scandal is dead, even if the networks don't yet know it. It was dead before Nick Berg. It died because the Democrats and their media groupies overplayed their hand, as usual, and so turned a real scandal into just another fake scandal for senatorial windbags to huff and puff over.
The truth of this struck me when I was checking CNN to see what's new and surprised myself with my mental reaction to the ongoing coverage of the prisoner abuse story. I'm not sure I want to feel the way I'm beginning to feel, but I've still got enough vestigal amounts of Democrat in me to respect my feelings.

Luckily, I've abosrbed some Republican of late, so I can keep a check on my feelings and subject them to logic and reason.

... The war on terror will be lost in the talking shops of Washington -- i.e., it will be thanks to the lack of resolve inculcated by excessive exposure to blow-dried pundits and Senate hearings. The war now has two fronts. In Iraq, the glass is half-full. In Washington, it's half-empty, and draining fast.

The administration, in trying to see its way through both the phony crossfire and the real one, has been rattled by the fake war. Someone in the White House needs seriously to stiffen the Bush rhetoric. When the president talks about ''staying the course'' and ''bringing to justice'' the killers, he sounds like Bill Clinton, who pledged to stay the course in Somalia and bring to justice the terrorists, and did neither. Bush has to go back to speaking Rumsfeldian, not Powellite: He has to talk about winning total ivctory, hunting down the enemy and killing them.

What he said.

Posted by Debbye at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2004

If the war was basketball ...

May 13 - I needed this: If The Media Treated Basketball Games Like They Treat The War On Terror. Great play-by-play commentary by our national news anchors.

So funny, so true, and so very pathetic.

Posted by Debbye at 04:44 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2004

Steven Den Beste tells the truth

Apr. 29 - He's back and he's not taking prisoners in USS Clueless - The truth is....

SDB brings up the Saeb Erakat's Washington Post op-ed "Why did Bush take my job" and I want to link to Mark Steyn's answer: because you weren't up to it.

Posted by Debbye at 06:33 PM | Comments (1)

April 20, 2004

Go Steyn!

Apr. 20 - The title of this column by Mark Steyn says it all: Stop whimpering, we're in a battle.

Posted by Debbye at 10:23 AM | Comments (1)

April 08, 2004

Serious Steyn

Apr. 8 - Mark Steyn is very serious in Murderous Rhetoric. He looks at the "virus of hate" in the Democratic Party and referring to the intemperate reactions to a high volume leftist blogger to the atrocities at Fallujah:

And, in a way, who can blame him? Where would he have got the idea that American civilians in Iraq are ‘mercenaries’ who aren’t ‘trying to help the people’ but are there to ‘wage war for profit’? Maybe from Senator John Edwards, former presidential candidate, whose solitary reference to the war in his stump speech was a pledge to stop ‘Bush’s friends’ from ‘war-profiteering in Iraq’. Or maybe from Senator Bob Graham, another candidate, justifying his vote against the Iraqi reconstruction bill by saying, ‘I will not support a dime to protect the profits of Halliburton in Iraq.’ Or DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe declaring on TV last October that Bush would never withdraw from Iraq because ‘I don’t think they want to give up Halliburton and the $6 billion of no-bid contracts they’ve got on oilfields over there.’ Or Kerry sidekick and former senator Max Cleland, who fumed that Bush’s ‘insane’ war was all to do with profiteering and ‘oil wells’ and ‘Cheney getting income from Halliburton’. Or John Kerry, who says, ‘Halliburton is guilty of shameful war-profiteering.’

For a year, any reference to Halliburton has been a surefire applause line for Democratic candidates: ‘Halliburton’ is shorthand for everything that’s wrong with everything — the war, the reconstruction, the economy, why gas is up to a buck seventy-seven a gallon in California (‘Those are not Exxon prices, those are Halliburton prices,’ says John Kerry). Halliburton is why your roof leaks, why your car radio’s stuck on the polka station, and why your Viagra isn’t working. It’s all the fault of ‘cosiness with Halliburton’, says Howard Dean. When it was pointed out, after one attack on Halliburton, that Senator Graham in fact owned shares in Halliburton, he explained that he wasn’t attacking the company’s shareholders or employees but ‘war-profiteering’ in general.

Read the whole thing. It won't make you laugh, but it may cause you to wonder when such viciousness became part of our political culture and, worse, where it will lead.

Many have written about trying to get off that particular train, and I still think it a good principle. But it is getting harder.

Posted by Debbye at 07:43 PM | Comments (1)

March 29, 2004

Mark Steyn Reprise

Mar. 29 - Mark has reprinted some of his columns during the Iraq War and this latest is one of my favourites from the Mar. 27, 2003 National Post in his Topical Take.

He was writing on the media take of the war (for some weird reason he chose to watch CBC, which he likened to attending a White Russian tea party in 1917) and was commenting on the oh my god they're bogged down and some people have died and others been taken prisoner, it's like a war there frenzy that went on at CNN that must have been even sillier at CBC.

Steyn knocked me off my chair when I read this last year and Damn! It's still right on target:

... The best way to honour the dead is to press on to victory. Fleet Street has a diverse press from gung-ho right-wingers to unrepentant Stalinists. But it doesn’t have a lot of mushy ninnies for whom a run of bad luck is cause to question the entire strategy. There are times when there’s something to be said for stiff-upper-lipped public-school emotional repression, and war is one of them.

Then, at the weekend, it was the Pentagon’s turn for a run of bad luck, from a US Muslim soldier going postal on his comrades to the parading of American prisoners on Iraqi TV. And the big networks collectively decided that somehow they’d been misled about how “easy” it was supposed to be, and ever since have been convinced that the war plan’s a bust. General Franks has been transformed from the new MacArthur into the new MacArthur Park: someone left his cakewalk in the rain, we don’t think that he can take it ‘cause it took so long to bake it and he’ll never find that recipe again. Oh, no.

It's too bad the recent anti-war columnists didn't re-run their columns and dire predictions from the second week of the war.

Okay, Mark also has a new column, this one about Nader's candidacy:

AND, OF course, lurking in the Democrats' darkest nightmare is the spectre of November 2000: Nader angrily denies he's a spoiler, claiming that what he brings to the election are groups who wouldn't normally vote.

That's true. In a normal election, the Supreme Court wouldn't have wound up voting, but, thanks to Ralph's showing in Florida, they did.

Ba da boom.

Posted by Debbye at 04:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2004

Lileks and Jarvis

Mar. 26 - Read James Lileks. Now.

UPDATE: 09:42: And Jeff Jarvis, who states why Clarke's apology didn't rest well with him (and why the clapping of the observers didn't rest well with me):

This assumes that government absolutely could have stopped the attack -- and failed. Oh, I wish we could be guaranteed that government absolutely could stop these things but I've seen no proof or assurance of that.
He's practically treating government the way a fundamentalist treats God: an omnipotent being who could and would intervene and fix this if he wanted to. So he's turning government into a bad god -- is that thus a devil? -- who could have stopped these attacks but didn't; it failed.
Any suggestion that the government can do everything and anything perfectly has frightening implications because I reject the notion of any government that believes itself to be omnipotent. After all, if they are omnipotent then what does that make citizens who disagree with them? Heretics? Unpatriotic?

We can't have it both ways. Either Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act are evil, wicked entities that are setting us on the path to fascist repression or we admit that preserving our freedoms also means preserving our vulnerabilities.

I need a government that tries to do the best it can. I expect a government that knows it is run by humans and is thus fallible. I demand an electorate that accepts its responsibilities to keep an eye on the government, criticizes it when they think it errs, and makes corrections through the ballot box (and blogs.)

To repeat a theme I've stated before, did We, the People, make terrorism an issue in the 1996 and 2000 elections? (I should also like to point out that we did make terrorism an issue in the 2002 mid-term elections and did so somewhat in defiance of media expectations!)

Posted by Debbye at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2004

How to waste time

Mar. 22 -

Q: What do you do when a friend sends you an link to a deconstruction of a Frank J. classic?

A: You follow the link.

Q: What do you do when the post and links are so funny that you spend your time reading them instead of finishing the boring report you agreed to do for someone (like, for money) and now the clock is ticking louder and you're looking at spending the entire night working on the report?

A: You say "Thanks, Harvey!"

Posted by Debbye at 05:18 PM | Comments (4)

March 21, 2004

Title? Uh . . .

Mar. 21 - I attended the Poliblogger Bash last night - it was overwhelming and I'm still caught up in the emotion too much to get beyond it to say much that would be lucid (although I think I managed to pull off composed okay. These people saved my sanity when I discovered their writings - how does one deal with meeting them face to face?)

I was in the company of some of the most interesting and intelligent people I've ever met before and I still can't believe it really happened.

I'll post more after work after I've figured out what the rules of blogging etiquette are for these kinds of get-togethers and what should and shouldn't be disclosed.

Many thanks to David Janes for organizing it, and cheers for Damien Penny who, by coming to Toronto, provided cause for the party.

It was incredible. Did I make that clear? Just incredible. I'm babbling; good time to shut up.

UPDATE: Mar. 22 07:26: Others have covered it: Angua, Nicholas, Spinkiller, Accordian Guy, a member of Tonecluster, Michael, guest of honour Damien, and of course the brains behind the event, David. Kathy, Mark Wickens and Rick McGinnis also attended. I hope I didn't leave anyone out; there was a large group but it was a seated event so the mingling was limited by chair space.

The Meatriarchy had an excellent excuse for not being there but we comfortably plotted behind his back anyway.

Once I got past the I don't know any of these people part I came to realize that I did know them. They were variously as passionate, direct, energetic, no-nonsense, capable of recognizing the wondrous, funny, insightful and sardonic as their writings indicate.

I'm not going to "out" anyone, but the comments already indicate that Flea and I share a reverence for Babyon 5 and in particular the episode "Severed Dreams" (Bab5 breaks from Earth and Delenn disbands the Grey Council) and still get chill moments at certain moments during that episode. Isn't one of the definitions of a classic is that it can still move and inspire us?

And I'm never going to be able to listen to "Born to be Wild" in quite the same way again!

Posted by Debbye at 11:08 AM | Comments (7)

March 18, 2004


Mar. 18 - Bill's much-awaited essay is up at Eject! Eject! Eject!

I say simply this: Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by Stupidity.
Bill brings a new element to dealing with social engineers: if implementation of the theory requires a miracle, it's doomed.

Posted by Debbye at 01:26 PM | Comments (3)


Mar. 18 - Bill's much-awaited essay is up at Eject! Eject! Eject!

I say simply this: Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by Stupidity.
Bill brings a new element to dealing with social engineers: if implementation of the theory requires a miracle, it's doomed.

Posted by Debbye at 01:26 PM | Comments (3)

March 17, 2004

Best of Mark Steyn

Mar. 17 - Right Wing News has a terrific compilation of The Best Quotes From Mark Steyn's Last 52 Jewish World Review Columns.

Posted by Debbye at 12:06 AM | Comments (2)

February 03, 2004

Mark Steyn

Feb. 3 - He who should have a column running in at least one Canadian paper whacks the BBC, Greg Dyke and multilateralism in The alternative to war was simple: defeat.

There was no sharper way to draw a distinction between the new geopolitical landscape and the September 10 world than by removing a man who symbolised the weakness and irresolution of "multilateralism". He was left in power back in 1991 in order, as Colin Powell airily conceded in his memoirs, to keep the UN coalition intact. Lesson number one: don't form coalitions with people who don't share your war aims.

If the Gulf war was a cautionary tale in the defects of unbounded multilateralism, the Iraq war is a lesson in the defects of even the most circumscribed coalition. The Americans settled on WMD as the preferred casus belli because it was the one Blair could go along with: as one of his Cabinet ministers told me, they were advised that a simple policy of regime change - the Clinton/Bush line - would have been illegal. So they plumped for WMD. American and British intelligence were convinced Saddam had 'em, as were the French and Germans. Saddam thought he had 'em. So did his generals. It's believed that they were ordered to be used against the Americans as they galloped up to Baghdad from Kuwait. But when Saddam got there, the cupboard was bare. Strange, but apparently true. Anyone who's really fearless in his search for the truth can read David Kay's conclusions: it's a much more interesting story than "Blair lied!"

So Saddam didn't have WMD. Conversely, Colonel Gaddafi did. And hands up anyone who knew he did until he announced he was chucking it in. The only way you can be absolutely certain your intelligence about a dictator's weapons is accurate is when you look out the window and see a big mushroom cloud over Birmingham...

The Left is remarkably nonchalant about these new terrors. When nuclear weapons were an elite club of five relatively sane world powers, the Left was convinced the planet was about to go ka-boom any minute, and the handful of us who survived would be walking in a nuclear winter wonderland. Now anyone with a few thousand bucks and an unlisted number in Islamabad in his Rolodex can get a nuke, and the Left couldn't care less.

The supposition that Saddam thought he had weapons (advanced by David Warren in his essay about the Intelligence Failure) is gaining credibility because it fits the facts once we drop what we thought we knew and look at what we now know
Saddam put himself personally in charge of all the weapons programmes, and trusting no one except the people running them for him, allowed them to pocket huge amounts of oil money for projects that never bore any fruit. Copious hypothetical plans were drawn up, and again and again the Kay teams found the paper equivalent of a "smoking gun", only to be unable to pair it with real-life evidence. That was because Saddam's weapons programmes -- except for some progress in illicit missile-making -- existed only on paper.

The result was, every senior person in Saddam's regime sincerely believed that, while he did not himself have access to "WMD", almost everyone else had.

That might explain why chemical protection suits and injection kits were found in abandoned warehouses near the front but no trace of weapons: they were guarding against other Iraqi units deploying WMD.

I've no doubt that the results of the inquiry will be highly politicized and despite the long list of recommendations that will undoubtably come out of it, they won't be able to circumvent the fact that human intelligence is subject to human frailty, and it's still a guessing game.

Posted by Debbye at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2004

Annan Slams Bush

Jan. 29 - Annan Slams Bush for Reliance on U.N. Inspectors:

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today slammed the Bush administration for its reliance upon a decade of intelligence gathered in Iraq by United Nations weapons inspectors.

Mr. Annan's critique came after David Kay, the outgoing chief of the Iraq Survey Group, told a Senate panel that U.S. intelligence agencies had become dependent upon the U.N. weapons inspectors and didn't develop their own sources. This resulted in faulty analysis of Saddam Hussein's remaining WMD stockpiles.


Posted by Debbye at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

Frank J. vs. Margaret Cho

Jan. 29 - The Meatriarchy is running a WWF Smackdown between Frank J., who's tagline is Unfair, Unbalanced and Unmedicated, and Margaret Cho, who is said to be a comedienne, in Not ready to let go just yet........ Compare and decide.

Oh, the arena for the match? Michael Moore.

Posted by Debbye at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)

Voting for "none of the above"

Jan. 29 - The internet: where you can read tomorrow's news today or even the day-after-tomorrow's news today. Dateline Jan. 31 - Mark Steyn on How "None of the Above" won. Heh. Too bad that really isn't a ballot choice!

(Via Tim Blair, the man from tomorrow.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2004

Andrew Coyne web site

Jan. 28 - Technorati seems to be working again, and I was pleased to learn that Andrew Coyne is running a webpage here.

Read it and see what you think.

UPDATE: In truth, I wasn't sure if he was still a columnist with the National Post given the recent shuffles over there but the incredibly intelligent commenters here assure me that he is. /gratuitous flattery

Posted by Debbye at 06:38 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2004

Dear Voters: You're fired

Jan. 27 - From Boston Globe coumnist Brian McGrory Dear voters, You're fired:

... So you can vote any way you want and make us look like idiots?

I don't mean to pile on, but didn't you realize that we dismissed Kerry's candidacy with a steady stream of bitterly snide and snarky jokes many months ago. Did you fail to see that the firing of his campaign manager in November was the biggest story of the decade and that his appearance on Leno showed that he couldn't possibly win?

Likewise, did you miss the whole Dean coronation we held? Didn't you know that with all that Internet money and all those kids in orange, he couldn't possibly lose? Did you ignore how often the news magazines had him on their cover?

How do you think all this makes us feel in the news business? ...

Go read and enjoy.

(Link via On the Third Hand

Posted by Debbye at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2004

Victor Davis Hanson

Jan. 23 - It's Friday, which means Victor Davis Hanson has a new article up at the National Review and looks at the current themes of doom-and-gloom Democrats in the candidacy race and a quick world tour on the real changes that have occurred since Sept. 11.

Posted by Debbye at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

ScrappleFace on Rover

Jan. 23 - Rover stops barking:

Initially, the scientists blamed weather woes on Earth. They now believe the rover is experiencing hardware or software glitches.
Riiight. And they expect us to believe that?

ScrappleFace has another explanation.

This just in: the rover managed to get a limited message out. Go Spirit!

Posted by Debbye at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2003

Steyn Speaks

Dec. 29 - New Steyn column up at the Telegraph: The pundits in love with doom and gloom.

Posted by Debbye at 07:40 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2003

Mark Steyn remembers 2003

Dec. 28 - Mark Steyn looks back on 2003 and gives a good collection of past columns and epigrams here.

Also, Mark's latest column in the Chicago Sun-Times is here.

Posted by Debbye at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2003

Christmas wishes for the troops

Dec. 27 - I don't think Ralph Peters would mind if this was re-directed to the many Canadian soldiers stationed overseas and missing their homes and families this Christmas.

Dear Pfc. Smith,

Most of your fellow Americans Canadians won't think of you today. Some may see a news clip of your Christmas dinner in Iraq Afghanistan, filmed against a backdrop of holiday decorations your unit scraped together. Those who once served in the ranks themselves will think of you at least briefly. And you'll be cherished in the hearts, if not in the arms, of your loved ones.

But most of us won't think of you at all. And that's a wonderful thing.

It's your great gift to us.

Because of you, hundreds of millions of Americans Canadians who celebrate the birthday of the Prince of Peace will spend this holiday in peace themselves, with their loved ones safe and our blessed country secure.

Read the whole thing.

You can read about Canadian efforts in Afghanistan at the Operation Athena Homepage (from Winds of Change via Right On!.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2003

Steyn Speaks

Dec. 15 - New Mark Steyn column in today's Daily Telegraph (UK) Payback time for the axis of weasels and spells it out:

On Iraq, France, is on the other side - Saddam was their man, to the end. Germany is in a state of semi-derangement - a third of Germans under 30 believe that America organised the 9/11 attacks, a statistic only a polling point or two behind the excitable young men of Pakistan's North-West Frontier.

Canada thinks that it can enjoy north American prosperity without contributing to north American defence. And Russia is already undermining the next American goal - under cover of the anodyne EU/IAEA position on Iran, it is continuing to assist the mullahs' nuclear programme.

So it's not (just) payback, it's also about the next round of problems. One can think of several terms for folks who behave in these various ways, but "allies" isn't one of them - unless "allies" is now a synonym for, respectively, saboteurs, poseurs, nutters and enemies.

Posted by Debbye at 05:11 PM | Comments (0)

Two Tribes

Dec. 15 - A new post - a short one - at Eject! Eject! Eject!: TWO TRIBES.

By the way, Bill just disproved one of their predictions, because irony is not dead and it's not pining.

Posted by Debbye at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2003

From James Lileks

Sept. 22 - From the wonderful Bleat by Lileks:

Makes me wonder when my first lovely interaction with the public school system will be, and what form it will take. I should get it out of the way on day one: What's your position on cap guns?

1. "We regard them as a violation of our zero tolerance policy, and will expel for the remainder of the year any student who has one."

2. "Once a year we pass them out and the class reenacts the Charge of the First Minnesota at Gettysburg."

Thought of this story again while reading about the soldiers who were offered the chance to leave their post because of Isabel. They were guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington; this would have been the first time the tomb was unguarded. They said, in essence, sir no thank you sir.

You can break down the entire country into two camps, two reactions to the story:

1. Bemusement.

2. Gratitude.

Posted by Debbye at 07:48 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2003

Mark Steyn

Aug. 24 - Mark steyn is deadly serious in Iraq is battlefield for war vs. terror. He points out that Brazilian Sergio Vieira del Mello was probably targeted for assassination because he was

the individual most directly credited with midwifing East Timor into an independent democratic state. Osama bin Laden (or rather whoever makes his audiocassettes) and the Bali bombers have both cited East Timor as high up on their long list of grievances: the carving out, as they see it, of part of the territory of the world's largest Islamic nation to create a mainly Christian state. Now they've managed to kill the fellow responsible.
Australians have speculated that their intervention in East Timor was the probable reason they were targeted in the Bali and Jakarta bombings, but this fairly obvious dot-connecting is ignored by the media because the US had nothing to do with East Timor, and if the press can't find a way to blame the US, they don't want the story.

The media's excuse during the Iraq War is that the press lacks historical perspective, but we're talking about events that happened within the last 10 years. In fact, how much have you seen in the North American press about the recent Australian-led intervention in the Solomons?

At the moment, there's only one hyperpower (the United States), one great power (the United Kingdom) and one regional power (Australia) that are serious about the threat of Islamist terrorism. There's also Israel, of course, but Israel's disinclination to have its bus passengers blown to smithereens is seen as evidence of its ''obstinacy'' and unwillingness to get the ''peace process'' back ''on track.'' What a difference it would make if one or two other G-7 nations were to get serious about the battle and be a reliable vote in international councils. But who? France? It's all business to them, unless al-Qaida are careless enough to blow up the Eiffel Tower. Canada? Canadians get blown up in Bali, murdered in Iran, tortured in Saudi Arabia, die in the rubble of the UN building in Baghdad--and their government shrugs. Belgium? They'd rather issue a warrant for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld than Chemical Ali.

Posted by Debbye at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2003

"Responsibility" by Bill Whittle

Aug. 20 -- Forget the news: Responsibility is up at Bill Whittle's site.

Do you really believe in free will and the responsibility it entails? Do a free people have the right to expect others in a free society to act responsibly and face justice when they don't?

A few excerpts (NB: all emphases are Bill's):

They, like me, call themselves conservatives, but we are indeed a new breed: pro-choice, pro-gay, vigorous defenders of equality of race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. We're big on freedom and big on responsibility.

The left hates us. We are harder to attack than the racist, homophobic, misogynists that they formerly could comfortably lambaste as right-wingers. (And they deserved to be lambasted, by the way - and I'm not even sure what lambasting is, but it does sound nasty and severe.)

Some of them sneer at people like us and call us RINO's: Republicans In Name Only, which seems to indicate to me that they can not conceive of a Republican who is not a racist, homophobic, Christian Fundamentalist. I call these people DIMWIT's: Democrats Intentionally Misusing Words to Invert the Truth.


And so we have group identity advocates. Because if you can convince someone that they are not responsible for their failures and shortcomings, and that someone else is - not a hard sell if you think about it - then they will be willing to subsume their responsibility into that of the group - and with their responsibility goes their political power. Then all the responsibility of the group - and all their power - is concentrated in the hands of the very few who have led them to this position.

People like Jesse Jackson. Or Pat Robertson. Take your pick.


Keep this in mind, my friends: when someone tells you It Takes a Village, remember that the corollary to that philosophy is It Also Takes A Village Leader.

Take a guess who that might be.

Give your responsibility to the group, and you give your freedom to the group. Freedom without responsibility becomes - very rapidly - a farce. When laws become farcical, the result is anarchy. Anarchy is unacceptable - so measures are taken to reduce freedom and increase controls on the population.


Deconstructionism. If ever there was an intellectual movement specifically tailored for a certain type of mental illness, this must surely be it.


[Deconstructionism]... is not coercion of responsibility; this is highway robbery. The idea that a band of nitwits with too much free time on their angry and sweaty little hands, can sit in a small sub-basement classroom at Mediocrity U. and tell Shakespeare what he was really trying to say is simply the most vile and reprehensible hijacking of responsibility and authority it has ever been my unpleasant experience to see.

That is why, when I deconstruct Deconstructionism, all I see is a group of pathetic, talent-free, self-hating fourth-raters secretly sending out a message for someone with some common sense to ride into town and hang them all.


Let's take a relative compassion test, shall we? Who is more compassionate: those that want to extend a helping hand in order to allow someone to get back on their feet, gain an education, recover their self-esteem, manifest their self-worth, and lift themselves from the crippling depths of poverty, or someone who wants to hand them an endless supply of meager checks, just enough to destroy their self-respect, hobble their motivation, and sentence them, and their children, and their grandchildren, and their children, to squalid and wasted lives?

I oppose the creation and maintenance of a class of people perpetually on the dole because we simply can not afford it. And I'm not talking financially - we have the money to do that until the end of time. We cannot afford the human cost. We cannot afford to squander entire generations of Einsteins and Sagans and Mozarts and DaVincis by condemning them to a life that consists solely of pushing a lever and getting a food pellet. We need all the help we can get in this struggle toward a more perfect Union. Training people how to remain passive, dependent and miserable is not noble, it is not just, and it is least of all compassionate.


If we accept responsibility for our own actions, we are indeed worthy of our freedom.

This idea of individual responsibility is a new one. It works. It needs to be defended. If only a small portion of the mass of humanity can see clearly that this is the key to escape the bondage of history, class, race, sex and economic status, then that is simply a message we need to preach to anyone who will listen.

Although Bill is speaking about the United States in his essays, the message he conveys is universal and certainly applies to Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand because he is reminding us of the concept of inherent rights that have become our heritage from the Magna Carta through to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I'm not the least bit ashamed that America is trying to export these ideas to the rest of the world because it is the single most powerful tool we have to end tyranny. We are telling the peoples of the world that instead of slandering us for our prosperity, you can examine our philosophy of freedom and responsibility and then break the chains that restrain your minds and souls.

My question is: Why isn't Canada?

Why would anyone who is committed to human rights oppose these ideas? Which is the more tyrannical: the forces of the left that would condemn the peoples of the world to accepting enslavement for insecure security, or the forces of the right that would uphold the value and legitimacy of every person's freedom?

I guess I am preaching to the converted here, but nevertheless, the next time you're tempted to say It wasn't his/her fault go back to this essay, read it, and ask yourself if we are a free people or conditioned lab rats.

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