May 26, 2006

His Elective Majesty

May 26 - Sorry about the downtime -- I had some trouble with the computer so took it into the shop, and it turned out "the" problem was actually a number of issues.

Oh well, they got fixed. I'm poorer, but I think the new video card in particular resolved a lot of other little problems. I hope.

On more relevant issues: I don't get Mexican President Vicente Fox. The boast that the United States (and Canada) get the best and brightest from other countries is not an idle one, and one would think, if he truly wants to see Mexico advance, that he would regard the steady outflow of ambitious, energetic people with dismay.

It doesn't matter, really, because the American people are no longer buying the "defer and delay" tactics of the past 20 years from our government. The reluctant urgency by the Senate to at least appear to resolve immigration issues has been sharply challenged by the nervous House of Representatives who are scrambling to give some semblence of leadership yet who are merely following We, the People, who are determined the laws be upheld and the borders be secured. We don't always get to set the agenda but this is one of those wonderful times when the wisdom of having fixed, two-year terms for House members proves sound.

Yes, they will continue to try to wriggle of the hook, so the pressure has to kept on.

As for the Senate, I did use the down time to some advantage. I began to re-read a book from my university days, The Federalist Era (1789-1801) by John C. Miller, and find it both aggravating and comforting that the Senate was as supercilious then as it is now.

Miller writes than when the "great experiment" was launched, the Senate appointed a special committee which recommended that the proper title for the President should be "His Highness the President of the United States and Protector of the Rights of the Same" and he should be properly addressed as "His Excellency" or "His Elective Majesty."

Bush-bashers will doubtless see the above as an opening and thus miss the point: at a time when the country desperately needed to establish institutions and precedents for the governance of the infant nation, the Senate was more concerned about pomp and ceremony.

We are so used to think of our Senate in modern terms that we forget that the body after which it was consciously modeled was composed of patricians and their primary concern was remain aloof from the common man even as they placated the citizens of Rome with bread and circuses.

This week, though, the circus moved back to the House of Representatives, the members of which seem to believe that they too are above the law. Although they have been appeased, Tuning Spork has an interesting theory about the real reason behind the evacuation of the Rayburn Building after a report of gunfire -- which is now being attributed to noises orginating from a construction crew? Hmm.

Day-um, the screen looks good. The problem had developed so gradually that I hadn't realize how the view had degraded. It just goes to show: you can't beat clarity.

More tomorrow, and a good albeit bittersweet Memorial Day weekend to everyone.

Never forget those who serve.

May 27 - 18:01 Ah, this explains everything. Members of Congress are not only tone-deaf but suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (or should that be we are suffering from their narcissism?)

Maybe we should try something different and elect adults to Congress come November.

Posted by Debbye at 04:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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.

Posted by Debbye at 01:38 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 20, 2006

I love April (but hate tax time)

Apr. 20 - Mark's youth team (he's a lowly coach) had some exhibition games on Saturday. They seemed to field and pitch okay, but don't have game sense, i.e., they don't seem to know what to do with the ball when they field it.

It ought to be simple. Before the ball is put into play, fielders need to have a notion as to what they will do if the ball is hit to them and what they will do if it's not hit to them, i.e., what position they will back up. It's not exactly hard to figure; after all, a 3-1 play is fairly routine (that's the first baseman tossing the ball to the pitcher for the out at first) and I know the kids have seen it several times.

And relay. It's a baseball fundamental, but kids don't get it - they want to be the hero who throws it into home from left field. They also don't get why trying to hit a legitimate home run (as opposed to a single and 3 errors) is selfish. The sorriest statistic in the world is "runners left on base."

And deeking out a baserunner? Dude, we call that a balk.

Strikes are fascist, ground balls are democratic. The truth and implications of that statement is crystal clear to me but very difficult to explain to those who don't already know it. Luckily I don't have to; Mark does. Heh.

I hate the way the concept "team work" has been bastardized. In a sports setting, team work is the magic that happens when the players have a winning attitude and bust their asses to win the game. The fielders do their utmost to retire batters and "passed ball" is regarded by catchers as grounds to commit suicide. Everything comes together and the bang-bang plays create an intensity and excitement that drives the entire team. Who doesn't love a clutch hitter?

Team work is that intangible thing that cannot be artificially created but comes straight from the heart - a stubborness and perseverance that marks those who strive to win.

In a work setting, though, team work seems to be code for "some people need to work harder to cover up for those who refuse to perform." If a company really wants team work they need to do as sports teams are supposed to do: bench or release players that won't or can't strive to win in order to keep that winning edge.

It's going to be an interesting season.

I managed to get a few consecutive days off work before Easter and resolved to do those things most easily deferred: my taxes, and washing the windows and curtains.

The windows and curtains really do need to be done. I haven't done them since Sept. 11 despite my earnest intentions. Somehow it always seemed more important to surf the news channels and internet to see if there had been another terror attack - and, too often, there had indeed been one.

But I found we had only a tad of window-washing solution, so I did my taxes - sort of. Mind, I was very well prepared. I had sharp pencils, the correct forms, my adding machine, scratch paper, all my receipts, and some cold beer in the fridge to celebrate the successful conclusion of this annual ritual. When I went to get my T-4, though, it wasn't where I had seen it less than 24-fraking-hours earlier.

I began to search, and boy did I search. I found all sorts of papers and mailers and stuff I meant to look at (some of it went back to the beginning of Gulf War II, which I guess is a commentary as to how long I've been shutting out everyday stuff) and, because I still suffered with a mild variety of the spring cleaning bug, I began to toss or file. Then I went through the newly bulging files; I'm not sure why I had baseball registration lists from 1997, but I can honestly say that now I no longer have them. Was I still procrastinating? Yes, because all the figures I needed were on my final pay voucher of 2005 so I finally bit the bullet and did my stupid taxes (and called work Monday morning to humbly request a replacement T-4.)

Then I noticed this weird smudge on a wall. You know what happens when you wash a smallish section of a wall, right? Right.

If anyone next to you has just fallen off their chair you are undoubtably sitting beside someone who knows me and how much I hate housework. It was all very well and good when the kids were little (and, come to think of it, spending most of my time trying to up clean the dirt they and the dog brought in from outside) but that was the in the pre-Internet era as well as those days when all history ended and life is much more exciting now - and considerably more dangerous.

Solutions seem harder to come by now (maybe because the Cold War strategy was conceived before I was even born.) Except for Iraq: that one is as simple as A-B-C. We keep faith with the people of Iraq. We don't flinch. We stick it out.

Iran, though, is hard. Those who discount the messages coming out of Iran as simple rhetoric simply haven't been paying attention. Bin Laden used to be dismissed too, until we learned to our shock that he meant business.

We can't go back to 1979 (which is why a long vacation would look good on President Carter right now) and have to deal with what is happening today. The U.N. will likely be useless - will there likely be a new Oil-for-Food program for Iran after sanctions prove to be a burden on the Iranian people? Puh-leeze.

And then there are those voices that are carefully implying that if we abandon Israel we'll end the "root causes" that caused Sept. 11 and the threat from Iran. But let's get serious: the root cause of barbarism is, you know, barbarism, and even the barbarians didn't occupy Rome until the Romans had lost the will to fight -- most clearly evidenced in that they had sub-contracted their fighting out to others.

Come to think of it, one of Bin Laden's grievances was on behalf of dead infants in Iraq which he attributed to the sanctions. Has he lifted the jihad now that the sanctions have been lifted? Or directed one to Saddam for diverting money from health care for his own personal gain? Of course not. There will always be grievances because there will always be those who will justify unbelievable acts of savagery for their own ends. But do we have to play along?

I would be willing to go on a bit of faith that the cartoon controversy was viewed by many national leaders as a skirmish and the feckless response was simply a feint, but something very precious was seen to be surrendered: the right to be irreverent, and without irreverence we lose our joy. No South Park? No Simpson's? Or, and this is really scary, no Monty Python?

Those who take themselves too seriously run the risk of ulcers and migraines, but I doubt waiting for the dour mullahs to develop life-style health problems is a useful strategy.

So the spectre of nuclear weapons in Iran - a country that has absolutely neither reverence for international relations much less a sense of humour - continues to pose a problem that challenges us all. I do feel certain we need to come up with a strategy that differs from those employed in both Afghanistan and Iraq and the best one I've heard thus far is to give more tangible support to the pro-democracy forces within Iran. It's a long shot, and I guess that even though I never would have characterized myself as a gambler I do remain, at heart, a liberal (in the classic sense) and I'm willing to gamble on my belief that the yearning for freedom remains the most compelling urge in the history of humanity.

Relying on the choice less hopeful is straight out of Tolkien - the quest to destroy the ring was one such choice, and Arvedui's claim of the kingship in Gondor was another. [That's an admittedly obscure reference; my fellow explorers in the the History of Middle Earth will undoubtably recognize it and others can find it in the Appendix of Return of the King where Earnil's ascension to the throne is discussed.]

Oh well, I'll do the stupid windows and curtains over the weekend but place the responsibility on Mark to remember to buy window cleaner. That might work, but I know I'll have to keep reminding him. And if it rains, maybe he'll have to cancel practice and then can help me take the curtains down!

Yeah, sometimes team work means cursing obstinate household fixtures together.

Posted by Debbye at 05:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 15, 2005

In praise of male shoppers

June 15 - Sorry for the lapse in posting. As many of you know, I work in retail. Christmas and Father's Day are real challenges and remind me how very much I adore male shoppers.

Men* are terrific shoppers. They come, they see, they buy.

Oh, there's the occasional dithering over ties, but generally they are in Hunting Mode: moving silently and unobtrusively through the terrain seeking their prey and, upon bagging it, exiting the bush.

Christmas and Mother's Day finds men - and their progeny - in perfumes and household wares. They acquire items like Calvin Klein's CK Summer One 2005 and toaster-ovens - already boxed - and depart. It takes 30 minutes tops.

When the more adventurous traverse women's wear, they too are in Hunting Mode: move a few steps, pause and observe. Repeat until they see something they really like, ask for help, and tell the associate that the intended recipient is "about your size." (Although there are those who are better prepared because they checked the woman's closet and noted what size is on the majority of her clothes; that seems to be a learned trait, though.)

Christmas and Father's Day heralds the arrival of female shoppers - and their progeny - in droves to Men's Wear. I predict the vast majority of Toronto fathers will receive a dress shirt and a tie for Father's Day.

Women do not merely feel the fabric, check the size, and make their purchases. Nooo, they behave as though they are in Women's Wear, and must touch, feel and examine every single item in sight - not because they are considering a purchase, but because it is their imperative. They are neither silent nor unobtrusive.

Needless to say, I bless them all because with every purchase they ensure my continued employment, but anyone who believes women are inherently neater and tidier than men has never worked in retail.

*Some male shoppers - the teenage variety - aren't strictly speaking shoppers: they are there to check out female shoppers of the teenage variety. They too are in Hunting Mode but their tactics are different.

Posted by Debbye at 01:25 AM | Comments (5)

May 27, 2005

The map and the territory (updated)

May 27 - The 60's produced a lot of people who still hold to the values expressed by JFK, Dr. King, Malcolm X and RFK, and George Bush is also a product of the 60's. He expressed those ideals in his Whitehall Speech which spelt out the cause for freedom as our priority in U.S. foreign policy - and wasn't that the primary banner under which we marched in the 60's? I could understand dismissing the speech as mere words but we are actively in the field, fighting and dying to give life to those ideals, and our country was finally putting its money where its mouth was.

One would think that political activists from the 60's would feel some satisfaction that the major impetus for our activism - that the U.S. was supporting vicious dictators as part of the Cold War - had finally been addressed. So why are so many of them on the other side?

Keith Thompson's column in the SF Chronicle was noted by Instapundit (among many others) because he spells out unequivocally how the left abandoned liberalism. I can well imagine how the column was received in San Fransisco, though, and it probably started with the phrase "Yes, but."

Maz2 sent me a link to Thompson's website (Thompson at Large) and I noted in the interview on the main page that he expressed his admiration for Robert F. Kennedy. (Thompson also writes the blog Sane Nation.)

Invoking RFK sure brings back a lot of memories. People who make blanket assumptions about baby boomers do so in a vacuum. Maybe some day I'll write the definitive essay on how my generation was affected by events which culminated in 1968 and were I to really try and write it the thesis would probably be based on this hypothesis:

Baby-boomer Democrats are idealists who were mugged in 1968.

Maybe you had to be there to get that, but I'll just try to condense and say that politically aware people were hit with a bombardment of events in 1968 and those who look back on it as their heyday probably forgot that actually, it was a year of intense pain, struggle and loss (I sort of covered some of the events here in my early and thus raw blogging days.)

One unchallenged assumption we made back then was that those brave and courageous enough to stand up to U.S. foreign policy were liberations fighters. We were wrong. Different people probably have individual moments when that assumption proved disasterous, but for me it was probably the scenes of Vietnamese frantically trying to get out of Vietnam when the U.S. withdrew from Saigon - why were all these people trying to get away? they were free now! - and then the embassy takeover in Tehran forced me to reconsider my automatic support of the anti-Shah forces in Iran (because Khoumeini's supporters were, you know, progressive) and, although it took awhile and required kicking some very bad habits, I gradually figured out that being pro-democracy rarely equated anti-American. This new awareness wasn't based on fear but on guilt: I had blindly supported all things progressive and thus supported groups and causes that were as destructive and murderous as I imagined U.S. foreign policy to be.

A realization like that can really knock the wind out of you. Just think "Pol Pot" and imagine the shock when ugly reality intrudes on your complacent support for progressivism.

There are a lot of people who haven't moved beyond their 60's views, and that's their right, but I do find it disturbing that they so little resemble the people we were back then. We may have been dumb, but we also had a lot of love for and eagerly embraced the world and the future. Our belief system was as far away from cynical sophistication as you can possibly get - in fact, we avoided cynical and sophisticated people because they were, like, plastic, you know? Never trust anyone over 30 because they were all sell-outs who had been co-opted by the establishment and lived in the suburbs with houses made of ticky-tacky.

We despised liberals above all because they were phony, which proves that we were right about some things. We also despised the establishment, and the problem with today's liberals is that when they became the establishment, they became what they once opposed.

Yes, I'm going somewhere. I think that maybe you have to be humble enough to admit that the extravagances of one's youth were what they were, and they require neither stubborn defense nor apology but just a little honesty to ascertain what was good and should be preserved and, maybe, even a chance to feel good because even if there were some mistakes there were also some right calls, like supporting the Czechs, the civil rights movements, an end to apartheid, hating hypocrisy and understanding that freedom was worth fighting for even if we misread what actually were freedom, or liberation, movements.

Thompson obliquely addresses this:

Back to your question: Have I moved right? What today is called liberalism is almost unrecognizable from the liberalism of the late 1960s. This is not to be nostalgic about the past — it's a question of being accurate. In his 1966 Cape Town speech, Bobby Kennedy declared himself unwaveringly opposed to communism because it exalts the state over the individual and over the family. He said the best way to oppose communism is to enlarge individual human freedom.
The word conservative is used as an inditement on people who don't conform to the group-think of the left, and it's even more damning to be called a neo-con, which is a very useful tactic as most people don't even know what it means but it sounds nasty, like neo-Nazi, so obviously is bad.

Unfortunately for the old guard, the onrush of events these past few years has produced a lot of people, and especially young folks, who stop, reflect and wonder if they took the red pill or the blue pill. Once you have arrived to a frame of mind to pose the question you already know the answer, so do you do?

One answer lies in a new political undercurrent these days composed of people calling themselves South Park Conservatives and Thompson supplies one definition:

... South Park Conservatives, which describes young Americans who believe in a kick-ass foreign policy, and who mock the compulsory compassion of the P.C. culture. Interestingly, they don't necessarily sign on to every line in the GOP platform.
No, we don't, but we also know that the Republican party is closer to our views than the Democrats and if we can't influence the Republicans we can always start our own party, or join the Libertarian Party.

That's a decent plan for Americans, but what about Canadians? and, more of concern these days, what about the Conservative Party of Canada? I dislike the saying that a conservative is a liberal who got mugged because it is not only dismissive but also implies that conservatives are shallow: someone who will dump their moral principles wholesale after a traumatic event couldn't have held those values very dear. But liberals have become like a friend who keeps suggesting we go out for a latte even though she knows I take my coffee black - she employs the popular word but doesn't really think about what it means.

Thomspon again:

The left/right divide is not what it used to be — that's my point. At the end of the day, I care less about the map than the territory, less about labels than issues.
It seems to me that, once we accept that the old definitions of the left-right divide are no longer operable and that the Liberal Party is no longer liberal, those who oppose the Liberal Party are thereby free to shed the old labels and define themselves rather than let the Liberal Party do so.

The Meatriarchy (who is back from vacation) has an apropos post about a pending CBC interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone and his own thoughts on the misuse of the term conservative.

The CBC Meets South Park may sound like a Monty Python skit, but that's been done. It was an internet thread titled Monty Python Meets the Borg, and the South Park-esque offering was Oh my God, they've assimilated Kenny. The bastards!

I sincerely doubt the CBC can assimilate South Park or even grasp what the movement is all about, but I do hope Canada is ready for the kind of alternative conservatism the South Park types offer: smaller government, de-centralization, truer respect for the individual and above all, replacing mindless prattle in correct-speak PC. It would also be nice to embrace the very liberal notion that we shouldn't be afraid to abandon programs that don't work - despite our investment of both years and money - and try some new solutions that actually might work.

There's a lot of unmarked territory out there, and the Conservatives should be the ones surveying and staking some out.

The innate inertia of Liberals is probably why I kind of share the South Park view of politics:

I hate conservatives, but I f***ing hate liberals.

May 29 - 02:42 - Many posts (like this one) reveal their intent after they have been written. It seems I still don't get why more of my former associates don't support Operation Iraqi Freedom.

I was shocked (in the true sense of the word) when Gulf War I didn't finish the job and get rid of Saddam. I felt a bit guilty so kept abreast of events (and massacres) in Iraq over the years and was on board for regime change long before 2000 elections.

I make no pretense at consistency! I fully recognize that the optimism of the 60's was counterweighed by our real fear of seeing the planet consumed in a nuclear holocaust and maybe our optimism was a defiant response to that fear.

But I never meant the post to be nuanced, and apologize for any pain inadvertant nuance may have caused readers.

I lean towards a libertarianism-with-a-safety-net preference and believe in the tenet That which is not expressly forbidden is thereby allowed (which has gotten me into some interesting exchanges during my years in Canada) and it's a hard-wired thing much like inherent rights and distrusting government.

But my invitation for Canadians to dispense with the old labels and scout the territory was genuine. Labels are human inventions and thus liable to change.

Today's musing were brought to you by the cliche Fortune favours the bold.

Posted by Debbye at 12:04 PM | Comments (6)

May 07, 2005

Bringing it back home

May 7 - Wonderful post from Stuff I Think You Should Know that connects the the war on terror in chilling, close-to-home terms:

And now, for today's Random Thought (TM)
Israel has been a nation for 57 years now. In that time they have suffered through three all-out invasions. At least three times they have been in a life-or-death struggle for independence. In between, there have been smaller conflicts, and of course, nearly continuous terrorist strikes.


... how about this. The terror bombings we see daily on TV [in Iraq], here at home. Not just one isolated (horrible, yes- massive, yes- four planes, yes- but still just one) incident. Bombings every day. Your local police department, blown up. Your grocery store, blown up. The train you take to get to work, blown up. The car in front of you on the highway, blown up.

D'ya think maybe then we'd get the hint?

People think the War on Terror started for America on September 11. Well, it started for the Israelis the day they became a country- and it hasn't stopped yet.

There is so much more to the post and my excerpts don't really capture the simple power of the piece. I hope you'll read it all and take something from it because sometimes we (or at least I) can use a good, bracing reminder as to why the U.S.A. finally resolved to confront those who wage "war" by using terror as a weapon against civilians and therefore nations which supported terror and harboured terrorists - two of which were Afghanistan and Iraq.

1. Iraq was a strong supporter of anti-Israeli terror. Saddam Hussein provided a financial incentive to successful suicide bombers by gifting their families with US $ 25,000 - the money for which, if it needs to be pointed out, came from his ill-gotten gains from the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program.

The corruption of the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program demonized the USA because billions of people held us responsible for deaths attributed to the sanctions, and the corruption of that same program financed murderous terrorism against Israeli citizens. Those who want to believe the U.N. can be reformed must first figure out how the U.N. can wash the blood from its hands.

On September 11 the bond between Israelis and us was strengthened rather than weakened - after all, how many of us chose to view Israelis as role models that day? To draw from their example by forcing ourselves to carry on with our lives despite the burning in our hearts?

Of course, when all the "root causes" were explored, one, pragmatic solution was clearly stated: if we withdrew our support for Israel, we would be in less peril. The cowardly nature of appeasement was thus fully exposed and the offer rejected.

Our reaction to Sept. 11 was decisive yet humane. Although our past half-hearted resignation to those evil things we called the Taliban, Yassar Arafat and Saddam Hussein reproached our consciences, we gave each of them one last chance to behave honourably - and we even told them it was their last chance. That generosity was rebuffed because they had foolishly failed to learn something every school kid knows: the difference between someone who is beside themselves with frustration and someone who is calm with white hot anger.

Thinking Americans, however, also understood one simple fact: the events of September 11 liberated us because our minds were no longer clouded by those Wormtongue-like whisperers of appeasement and self-hatred. The skies of New York may have been darkened with smoke and ash but we knew the sun still shone overhead and, with a staunch great-heartedness that would have gladdened Tolkien, Great Britain and Australia stood tall and proud as true friends and allies.

2. Iraq was a haven for terrorists fleeing from, among others, us. We knew, for example, that Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, Abdul Rahman Yasin and Abu Musab Zarqawi had received sanctuary in Iraq (some may remember that Zarqawi was prominently mentioned during Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N. in February, 2003.)

When President Bush declared war on terror, he reminded us that we are a patient people. It's one of those things that the media and the rest of the world largely dismissed as rhetoric, but Americans understood fully what he meant and a confirmation of a kind was the instantaneous name recognition of Abu Abbas when his capture in Iraq was announced. The names Leon Klinghoffer and Achille Lauro were burned in our collective memory just as surely as Lockerbie and the Munich Olympics.

You see, one of the qualities of patience is that you need not talk incessantly about a certain category of things because with patience comes another admirable trait: perseverance. So we accept that there will be delays, setbacks, detours and that the kids in the back seat will ask "are we there yet?" every 5 minutes - yet we keep the destination in sharp focus, scout and search for the best routes and finally reach journey's end because we actually know the difference between the trip and the destination.

We've endured much death and bloodshed, but there have also been triumphs, the most celebrated ones being the purple forefingers of January, the rising up of the people of Lebanon and the dominating theme of freedom during the president's Inaugural Address. Less well-recognized but just as important have been the debates and squabbling on the new Iraqi council - none of which ended in arrests, gunshots, or the imposition of martial law.

Israel is still standing and the Taliban, Yassar Arafat and Saddam Hussein aren't.

No, we aren't "there" yet but so long as we check our maps, oil and tires regularly we will arrive - tired, disheveled and in need of a hot shower - but we will arrive.

Because we must.

Posted by Debbye at 08:43 AM | Comments (4)

March 28, 2005

The young, the younger and the elderly

Mar. 28 - Hello everyone! We spent a fairly intensive family-filled weekend. Mark's brother came down from Sault Ste. Marie to attend a bridge tournament here and we managed to catch up on family news and solve most of the world's problems (funny how much of that goes on in living rooms!)

I always have mixed feelings on holidays. There's the ubiquitous nostalgia for the days when we'd hide the eggs anticipating the fun as the kids would uncover them in the most unlikely places (although the dog beat them all on that score!) but those memories contrast sharply with the living reality of seeing competent, adult children who managed to turn out alright despite our fumbling, learn-it-as-you-go approach to child-raising. Raising children is a humbling experience, and even though one does everything one can to protect them from every conceivable danger and to teach them right from wrong, there is simply no certainty and far too often unpredictable luck saves, teaches, and/or hurts them.

The news over the weekend seemed dominated with issues of life and death, and in two of the instances the parents have been at the forefront. It was sobering, to say the least.

Terri Schiavo and the determination of her parents to save her continued to figure prominently in the news, and I think one aspect of her case that younger reporters don't understand is the horror of losing a child. I keep hearing interviews with people referring to making similar decisions on behalf of their parents or with others who believe the case has become personal because we might each be a Terri, but but that completely misses the point.

What would we do were one of our children in Terri's state? One thing I never envisioned would be that I might have to talk to my kids about what they would want us to do should they be in such a condition and it's not a conversation I am looking forward to. (We chose to avoid it at Eastertime. It seemed wrong to have such a conversation while we were celebrating the triumph of life over death.)

We know that we will eventually have to say goodbye to our parents or that we could be struck down and left half-way between life and death, but what parent really expects to bury their child? There's a good reason we have the phrase "a parent's worst nightmare" and it's because such thoughts rarely intrude in our waking moments (in large part because we hastily push them aside - who could abide such thoughts without going mad?) The struggle around Terri Schiavo has a specific personal content for those of us with adult children and raises questions that are not easily answered.

When do we really give up guardianship over our children? Does marriage supercede parental care? I've tried to avoid attacking Michael Schiavo because I can't see into his heart and it is quite possible that he believes he is following Terri's wishes, but I don't understand why he has failed to authorize medical procedures that have been developed over the past fifteen years or aggressive therapy techniques that could have improved her condition. Most parents would pursue any and all courses that might restore, even partially, their child.

It is so easy to assume that we would not want to live in such and such a condition, but humans have a stubborn tendency to fight to live despite terrible pain and our instinct for surivival is not a thing stemming from our heads but from our hearts, and that instinct for survival includes the lengths to which we will go to save our children.

The Constitutional issues this case has stirred are not easily resolved, but there seems a clear antagonism between the executive and legislative branches - federal and state - and the judiciary which exceeds the definitions of federal and state jurisdictions. I tend to refrain from hoping that Gov. Jeb Bush will violate the law, which he would be doing should he defy the courts, but that's reflective mostly of a reluctance to see a publicly elected official put himself above the legally installed judiciary and the implications of such an act.

Yet the governor of a state can legally intervene to stop a legally ordered execution of a prisoner on death row. It doesn't make sense to allow the power to grant life in that instance but not in Terri's.

The intransigence of the courts may be the ultimate root story here. The federal court chose a narrow interpretation of "Terri's Law" which went contrary to the intent of the legislation, and that may well cause more people to question if the judiciary is tipping the balance implicit in the Constitutional separation of powers rather than maintaining it. This case may well begin a series of legislative initiatives to restrain courts which have tended increasingly to make laws rather than interpret them. It will certainly lend flavour in confirmation hearings for judicial appointments where the philosophies of strict interpretation of the Constitution and laws is counterposed to those who believe the Constitution is a "living document."

Far less easily addressed are the questions which must be raised on behalf of those parents who were forced to endure the worst of a parent's worst nightmare during Easter week. There is simply no comment that I, or anyone, can make that could adequately address the hell they went through and the grief of the outcomes much less reflect on what those young girls suffered, so there's been mostly focus on the more clinical analysis of how laws and the courts serve to protect our children from predators.

Most people understand that we must protect those who cannot defend themselves, and the growing anger at the failure of the legal system to keep faith with those who believe in that principle are combining to challenge what is seen as a "soft" approach to pedophiles and other sex offenders who, in accordance with one of our most basic principles, are released after serving their time without being branded or otherwise marked to warn of the danger they may represent because they served their time and have been released with the injunction not to break the law again.

Two, basic legal precepts are in stark contrast, and there needs to be some way found to reconcile them. We believe that those who serve their time should be regarded as rehabilitated and given a chance to begin new lives, and we believe that our children must be protected from predators who defy rehabilitation.

The other big story this weekend, the failing health of John Paul II, represents a different kind of contrast to the first two stories. This man, who led the Catholic Church during a tumultous period which saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, the struggle against Islamofascism and the child abuse scandals, might be said to have fulfilled his destiny. He will leave this world with a legacy that historians will eventually define, but I suspect that one part of that legacy must be the extent to which it inspired and provoked people much as the struggle for Terri Schiavo has.

It is appropriate, although harsh, that the Easter weekend was the backdrop for vast issues concerning the meaning of life, crime and punishment, and death with dignity. We rarely resolve such issues until major controversies force us to confront the fact that they are indeed issues in need of resolution, and the matter of whether those issues are to be resolved with or despite the courts is not the least of the matter.

Mar. 29 - 11:36: Bill of Strong World provided a link in an earlier comment to an essay by Alan Keyes, Why Jeb Bush has the power to act now, which goes into more detail (and better) than I did on the options available to the executive and legislative branches when the judiciary exceeds its authority.

Darned good article. I don't agree with Mr. Keyes's call to action only because I don't think the American people are yet persuaded that the judiciary needs to be restrained and they would view vigorous executive action to defy a court ruling with alarm (yet another downside of the failure to teach the Constitution and civics in schools is the total ignorance of Americans about the workings of their own branches of government, but that's a rant for another time.)

What I do see is that relatively mild surprise has been generated by some of the recent, more questionable rulings which has yet to cascade into the kind of public outrage the legislative and executive branches feel they must have before they actually confront the judiciary. (Or I could be wrong, and Jeb Bush will ignore the court ruling, take guardianship of Terri Schiavo, and appoint an independent advocate on her behalf.) I think it more likely that we may see a series of legislative initiatives that will indirectly confront the courts and gain public support by putting a spotlight on questionable rulings.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who noted that the Supreme Court ducked the Pledge of Allegiance issue on a loophole!

12:01 - Hmm, FoxNews is reporting that Rev. Jesse Jackson is visiting Terri Schiavo's hospice, praying with Schlinder supporters, and strongly criticizing the court rulings ordering Terri's death. He's isn't always an accurate weather vane, but his position will put the liberal media in a bit of a quandary as he is generally regarded as a leader of the national African-American community.

Posted by Debbye at 07:44 PM | Comments (30)

March 24, 2005

Send in the National Guard

Mar. 24 - The Supreme Court has declined to hear the Schiavo case, and Florida Gov. Bush filed a motion to take custody of her which has been denied (14:08.)

Someone (sorry, I don't remember who) speculated that the Schiavo case was another Gary Condit non-scandal which consumed the media waves despite the lack of substance. I don't agree. As a nation we've been through so much sacrifice, heroism, death, loss and recovery these past 4 years and in some respects we are now looking at if (or how much) these momentuous events have changed us.

Follow the "continued" link below if you want to read more, or skip it if you're tired of the subject. It's exhausting, and should be. We've been through two wars, are holding our collective breaths over Lebanon and Krygyzstan (and now Estonia) and once again need to define who and what we are.

I need to sleep or I'll be a total wreck tonight, so I'm signing off (unless I can't sleep. Sigh.)

By the way, there is a somewhat atypical Ann Coulter column, Starved for justice, up at, and she makes a suggestion that is very appealing:

Democrats have called out armed federal agents in order to: 1) prevent black children from attending a public school in Little Rock, Ark. (National Guard), 2) investigate an alleged violation of federal gun laws in Waco, Texas (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), and 3) deport a small boy to Cuba (Immigration and Naturalization Service).

So how about a Republican governor sending in the National Guard to stop an innocent American woman from being starved to death in Florida?


In two of the three cases mentioned above, the Democrats' use of force was in direct contravention of court rulings.

If you're scratching your head and wondering what the second case was, run the name Orval Faubus through your mind and see if something clicks.

This has been a difficult case for many of us because there are some very sound reasons why a person might not want extraordinary medical intervention to prolong their life. I had followed the Karen Ann Quinlan case in the 70's and initially believed that Terri Schiavo was in a similar condition and believed she did have the right to die.

But the initial "facts" about Terri Schiavo's medical condition turned out to be erroneous, and it was hard to ignore Michael Schiavo's potential conflict of interest. (I'm only saying potential - none of us really knows what is in his heart and he is probably neither an angel nor a demon.)

Something very precious is at stake - a human life - and something very important is being defined - the quality of that life. I don't think there is a single answer to the latter, and each of us will evaluate and make different decisions about what constitutes such and those decisions will be reflected in the living wills that people need to make.

We need to remember that science is only as good as yesterday's research, and one of the glories of life is that the unknown continues to be far more vast than the known.

When my first son was born, his father and I talked to him while they were cleaning him and he would look in turn specifically at whomever was speaking to him.

This was over 23 years ago, and it was an established "fact" that newborns could not see, but the experts now admit they were wrong, and that newborns have 20-20 vision (barring any congenital diseases or disabilities.)

When he first smiled, the experts said it was gas. I (as well as all mothers!) knew better, and my smile broadened. Experts have since reversed their opinions and now agree with centuries of mothers who knew that baby's funny grimace was baby's first attempt to smile.

When my sister initially came out of her coma, it was believed that all her disabilities were permanent and she would never walk again, but she did. Subsequent research began to indicate that when one part of the brain is damaged, other portions of the brain often take over the tasks originally performed by the now-damaged part.

One of the biggest misconceptions in recent history was the capabilities of children born with Down's Syndrome, and past practices of locking them into institutions seem barbaric (because they were) but what of their quality of life? Even the term "severely disabled" is a fluid one, as new therapies and educative techniques have proven effective.

There is a very good reason why we do not elevate science above human values: new discoveries are made daily which refute long established theories, but lessons about compassion and mercy are also learned daily which can shake our world more profoundly than the discovery of a tenth planet or the reduction of Pluto to an asteroid.

The weeks leading up to Easter have been strange and wondrous: Brian Nichols felt "he was already dead" yet found the strength to show Ashley Smith mercy; many feel Terri Schiavo is already dead, but I fear that the courts will not show her mercy.

Brian Nichols and Terry Schiavo have shaken my world, and have caused me to re-evaluate some of my beliefs and confirmed others, most importantly my dislike of the death penalty (which is now firm opposition.)

I don't know if others are finding this case as throught-provoking or disturbing as me.

Posted by Debbye at 01:07 PM | Comments (10)

March 14, 2005

Some things greater than us all

Mar. 14 - I am one of those who never expected Brian Nichols would be taken alive. But reading this account from Ashley Smith, Faith Helped Courthouse Shootings Hostage, I am reminded that I am one of those really Sophisticated People who overlooks the power of simple faith:

Although she knew about the courthouse shootings, Smith said, "It wasn't until after he took his hat off that I knew it was him ... I just thought it was a random mugger or something." Over the course of the night, Nichols untied Smith, and some of the fear lessened as they talked. Nichols told Smith he felt like "he was already dead," but Smith urged him to consider the fact that he was still alive a "miracle."

"You're here in my apartment for some reason," she told him, saying he might be destined to be caught and to spread the word of God to fellow prisoners. She told him his escape from authorities had been a "miracle."


... Gwinnett County Police Officer Darren Moloney [said] "It was an absolutely best-case scenario that happened, a complete opposite of what you expected to happen. We were prepared for the worst and got the best."

The phrase "God works in mysterious ways" comes to mind.

Discussions about the role of religion in the USA are often leveled as accusations, but I think one fact that cannot be discounted is that the horrific events of Sept. 11 found many of us groping for God and finding Him, even after ignoring him for decades.

I'm not trying to preach here, but just sharing a story that has moved me at the deepest levels of my consciousness. It may seem paradoxical, but the movie Dogma had much the same effect on me as I am someone who has been estranged from religion and church because the trappings and pretensions reeked of hypocrisy.

I believe that our renewed value in faith is why we can pursue the war on terror without diminishing the worth of Muslims faithful to the words of their God, and why President Bush is genuinely outraged that al Qaeda and the like have hijacked that religion.

I know many will disagree with my assessment, but maybe they don't understand the degree of humility that religion brings into our lives, and that humility often brings profound respect for other people of other faiths.

Tell the truth, Moms and Dads: when you see how young girls are dressing, don't you wish for more modesty? I'm not saying head-to-toe covering, but maybe you'd like to see daughters with just a little more covering?

A Hindi co-worker recently told me the background story of Diwali. I wouldn't dare try to relate it here as my memory would be necessarily faulty, but the themes that struck me most forcibly were those of honour, duty, and love and I was reminded that, truly, some things are universal.

It's a beautiful story, and I'll try to track down a credible account on google later.

I have to go to work - I overslept a lot this day but after working six nights straight I'd say I was entitled! So long. Mar. 15 - Too bad I can't count - I'd only worked five nights straights and Monday was the sixth.

Posted by Debbye at 08:25 PM | Comments (2)

January 31, 2005

Let Freedom Ring!

Jan. 31 - Greetings to anyone who is still checking this blog to see if I've got any new ramblings besides my folks!

The Washington Times headline says it best: Joy explodes across Iraq. And I think a lot of us shared in that joy.

I watched the coverage of the Iraq elections from 2 a.m. Sunday morning until 6 p.m. Sunday evening -- I just couldn't turn FoxNews (heh!) off. Although I wanted to post I was just too overcome by my feelings of humility and thanksgiving. I feel so privileged to be a witness to the courage and determination of the Iraqi people, and more than a little embarrassed because I noted that they were voting in numbers that rival our percentages in tranquil times and I really don't know how we might perform if faced with similar threats of mayhem from people who have a track record of carrying out those threats.

I guess the Iraqi people didn't get that memo about the incompatibility of civil liberties, democracy, Arabs, tribal cultures and Islam, because they certainly exercised their franchise without noticing that it isn't supposed to be in their cultural makeup.

Among those celebrating -- and rightfully so -- are the members of the Iraq Naitonal Guard and Army. I guess they did get the memo about having confidence because they did a spectacular job and are the heroes of Iraq. I was saddened by the reports of those who lost their lives proving themselves to be be true human shields.

I can't even imagine how gratified the men and women of the armed forces serving in Iraq (and those who served and have returned stateside) must feel today. I guess it's at minimum a tangible reassurance that we are on the right path and at maximum that the sacrifices have not been in vain, and perhaps more that any debt the Iraqis may owe us has been paid in full.

Quick detour: I stumbled across FoxNews on Rogers Cable up here in mid-December (which proves that channel surfing is good!) and, although I really, really miss the faint tone of disapproval that permeates far too many CNN reports, I think I'll stick with Fox as my major TV news source for all things American and Iraqi.

I do miss another thing about CNN: I used to yell out some fairly brilliant and insightful things during their news broadcasts because their analysis was so superficial, but Fox seems to have all the context bases covered and I am thus defused. I guess the result is a calmer Debbye, but never fear: the Rant Factor has not left the household because Mark is a dedicated O'Reilly Factor fan. He doesn't miss a single night and when I hear him yell Because they're a bunch of snively whiney rat bastards I know that a) O'Reilly is reporting on something a liberal said and, b) it's past eight and I have to get up to go to work.

I am extremely comfortable with this role reversal. Let someone else get steamed about the John Kerrys and Ted Kennedys (Mark made some really terrific shots about Teddy's wanting to cut and run from Iraq - the mildest was Yeah, Ted, stick with what you know best.

Okay, I lied. I shot out of my chair yesterday when I heard John Kerry's (I won't even use the title of Senator this day) comments on the wonderful election turnout in Iraq. He would have conceded to international opinion and postponed (read cancelled) those elections, and I'm not up on my Dante but I'm pretty sure one of those circles of hell is his destination. Isn't the presidential campaign over? Can't Kerry finally shut up? Americans have been happy to ignore him for over 30 years. Can't we return to normalcy?

The same nagging about the need to bring the international community together? On exactly what basis would he have us come together anyway?

When it came time to be counted, Americans remember who came forward and who lagged in the rear, and we may be a forgiving nation but we aren't a forgetful nation. We are already brought together on those things in which they are willing to participate, i.e., protecting their nations from internal threats, and thus apprehending those in their nations who may pose a threat to our and other nations, and those efforts are appreciated but not misinterpreted -- they are only capable of taking a short view of history, and we need to take a long view. Let's not mistake enlightenment for anaemia and just agree to accept the help from each nation in accorance with what they are willing to offer.

Taking the fight to the enemy takes a special kind of steel, and we thankfully have real allies who can see the danger of mistaking the Ardennes Forest for the trees.

Okay, cheap shot aside, the international community does seem to be brought together somewhat in their reaction to yesterday's elections. Jacques Freakin' Chirac was more upbeat than John Kerry, for crying out loud. This day it's Kerry and Kennedy who are out of step if only because others are realists and cannot deny the immense and irrevocable nature of yesterday's vote in Iraq.

I was further incensed that Kerry should make his comments on the very day that our staunchest allies suffered severe and painful losses. An Australian serving with the RAF, Flt-Lt Paul Pardoel and up to ten British airmen were killed when the Hercules C-130 came down in Iraq, yet he couldn't stop fretting about disapproval from those who oppose us long enough to acknowledge the loss, express his condolences and thank our allies for their sacrifice. What a graceless man.

Sigh. It's becoming very hard for me to keep in mind how totally we defied expectations after Sept. 11. (Maybe because it's been over 3 years and they should have figured it out by now.) Those who don't know us might be forgiven for having assumed that we would react as they would: become consumed with negativity and turn that into cynical passivity, or turn into murderous mobs intent on extracting revenge on the innocent and guilty alike. Instead we looked at those oft-recited root causes and recognized that maybe we could realistically address one of them and chose to take an enormous gamble and offer the twin values of tolerance and government by consent of the governed (necessarily twinned because you can't have one without the other.)

We've stated our aims countless times, and shown the truth of our words by our deeds. Stop looking for what isn't there and deal with what is visible. Maybe then we can talk and the international community can be brought together by a new practice: honesty.

Yesterday's elections were only the first step (like you haven't read and heard that elsewhere!) but that is hardly the point. What is significant is that the first step was taken, and I heartily wish the Iraqis and all those who yearn for freedom to take heart and keep their eyes on the prize. The socialists have one thing right: you have nothing to lose but your chains.

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

Why Can't I Be Independently Wealthy?

Jan. 31 - I wish I was independently wealthy. (Sure, like none of you ever wished that!)

Work continues full steam ahead. I feel foolish complaining about the schedule I'm working (primarily because the alternative is dreary) but the downtime and recovery time I thought I'd have after the holiday shoppers finally stayed home isn't happening.

I'm working every other night, i.e., Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. It's a pace that provides little of anything resembling "down time" for me but makes perfect sense for the company and, as there are some organizational changes taking place there and the inevitable difficulties that accompany any transition, I'm actually pleased with the way things are progressing.

I'm also mentally prepared for setbacks and compromises, because that's the way the universe likes to keep us on our toes.

The downside is that when I'm not working I'm trying to get to sleep but only achieve snatches of sleep between long waking periods during which I try to get back to sleep.

And the less said about the weather the better. It's January. I can deal with it, but I don't have to like it.

This pace should continue until mid-February and then there should be a resumption of consective nights with consecutive nights off (note plural) and that in turn should translate into a (fairly) normal life. Uh huh.

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

November 22, 2004

Reclaiming lost ideals

Nov. 22 - Holland is not a 60-year-old story anymore about Canadian soldiers and liberation from the Nazis.

These opening words of today's Ezra Levant column (Militant Islam rising) makes clear that we need to comprehend that the elegant, tolerant Europe we envision no longer exists but has become one that faces challenges that their leaders and media have been too slow to grasp:

For a generation, the public square in Western civilization has been systematically voided of any Judeo-Christian moral content. And into that void has come a competing set of moral values: Militant Islam.

Nature and politics abhors a vacuum. For a generation, Europe -- and Canada -- has been told that nothing is right or wrong, there ought not to be Judeo-Christian morality in public life, and that the philosophical compatibility and integration of immigrants is not important. That may have worked before; but it does not work in the era of Osama bin Laden and al Jazeera. These are not people coming to join things.

The other side of that coin are the numbers of Muslims who emigrated to Western countries in order to escape the harshness of some aspects of sharia yet have found themselves still subject to that rigid system due to the reluctance of Dutch and other governments to appear intolerant by interfering within what was judged to be community matters despite the cost to Muslim women who would chose to embrace Western lifestyles and aspirations.

Ghost of a Flea provides a link to the Theodore Dalrymple article Why Theo Van Gogh Was Murdered which argues that

more likely it resulted from his work’s exposure of a very raw nerve of Muslim identity in Western Europe: the abuse of women. This abuse is now essential for people of Muslim descent for maintaining any sense of separate cultural identity in the homogenizing solution of modern mass society.


The abuse of women has often, if not always, appealed to men, because it gives them a sense of power, however humiliated they may feel in other spheres of their life. And the oppression of women by Muslim men in Western Europe gives those men at the same time a sexual partner, a domestic servant, and a gratifying sense of power, while allowing them also to live an otherwise westernized life. For the men, it is convenient; interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, almost the only openly hostile expressions toward Islam from British-born Muslims that I hear come from young women, some of whom loathe it passionately because they blame it for their servitude.

We urgently need a long overdue assessment of the extent to which Western society has failed Muslim women.

Ayyan Hirsi Ali is an outspoken (and fearless) women from Somalia who is a member of the Dutch Parliament but who is also under 24-hour guard due to the death threats she has received in tolerant Holland.

A Canadian Muslim woman, Irshad Manji, authored an article that is on the UPI page about Van Gogh's murder Challenging Islam is Risky which she points out that risky though it may be, at least raising questions in Western society doesn't involve incurring the wrath of the state:

... If Muslims in the West dare to ask questions about our holy book, and if we care to denounce human rights violations being committed under the banner of that book, we need not worry about being raped, flogged, stoned or executed by the state for doing so. What in God's name are Muslims in the West doing with our freedoms?

I know what many young Muslim would like us to be doing -- thinking critically about ourselves and not solely about Washington. Indeed, a huge motivation for having written my book came from young Muslims on American and Canadian campuses. Even before 9/11, I spoke at universities about the virtues of diversity, including diversity of opinion. After many of these speeches, young Muslims emerged from the audiences, gathered at the side of stage, chatted excitedly among themselves, and then walked over to me.

"Irshad," I would hear, "we need voices such as yours to help us open up this religion of our because if it doesn't open up, we're leaving it."

They're on the front lines in the battle for the soul of Islam. Whatever the risks to my own safety, I won't turn my back on them -- or on the gift of freedom bestowed by my society.

I have ranted (many times) before about the bankruptcy of both those who pretend to preach tolerance and today's feminist movement which either forgot or abandoned the notion of sisterhood and attributed such to partisan politics, but now I've come to realize that the problems run deeper and I can't expect much more from those who have also abandoned the notion that all people, including Muslim women, are entitled to freedom.

The founding ideal of the modern feminist movement in the '70s was to proclaim that we had the right to determine the course of our lives, but if we don't affirm that those rights extend to our Muslim sisters then we have betrayed that ideal and stand exposed as selfish hypocrites.

Posted by Debbye at 08:55 AM | Comments (6)

October 28, 2004

Those missing explosives wrap-up (for now)

Oct. 28 - Okay, I had some dinner (it's a shift work thing) and have had time to try to let this thing settle. The fact remains that the IAEA inspectors cannot have inspected the explosives if the bunkers were sealed, so the repeated assertions that they "inspected the explosives" is simply untrue - the inspectors merely looked at the seals.

I'm willing to attribute the inaccurate assertions of "inspected the explosives" to careless wording by the New York Times and other news media, but if the ABC story that the bunkers were readily accessible without breaking the seals holds up and we remember the NY Sun article stating that the IAEA refused to destroy the explosives despite the urging of the inspectors, some of the statements in that NY Sun article suddenly seem more than speculative:

On Monday, a spokesman for the American mission at the United Nations questioned the timing of the release of the material on the part of Mr. ElBaradei. Rick Grenell told the Sun's Benny Avni the "timing seems puzzling."

After a behind-the-scenes battle inside the State Department this summer, the Bush administration opted to reject Mr. ElBaradei's bid for a third term as director general of the atomic energy agency.

At the time, Washington was collecting intelligence - disputed by some agencies - that Mr. ElBaradei was providing advice to Iran on how to avoid sanction from his organization for its previously undisclosed uranium enrichment programs.

Mr. al-Baradei has publicly urged the Iranians to heed an earlier pledge to suspend enrichment, but he has also opposed America's policy of taking Iranian violations to the U.N. Security Council. Mr. al-Baradei has announced he will nonetheless seek a third term. Nominations for the director general position close on December 31. [Emphasis added.]

The bolded portion of the article is a bombshell but really, why shouldn't we consider that possibility? The investigations into the U.N. Oil-for-Food program revealed a bureaucracy without accountability, and had coalition forces not liberated Iraq and removed the Saddam regime, we would never have known about the extent to which that program was corrupt, the inspections would have gone on until they declared Iraq disarmed, and the sanctions would have been lifted. Saddam would have resumed his quest for WMD (including nuclear capability) and the world would have been in mortal danger.

Suddenly Hans Blix is no longer merely irritating and Mohammed El Baradei is no longer merely pompous. They are two incredibly powerful men who literally had the world in their care and dropped the ball. The question is if it was due to negligence or corruption.

The case for war has suddenly, in retrospect, been altered. (No, I don't think the president lied, but I've always assumed that the government concealed information - not out of malevolence toward the American people but because that is the nature of being at war.)

Many of us who supported the war had some lingering hope for the inspection process but recognized that regime change, which is to say removing Saddam and his psychotic sons, was the only right thing to do. But now we are faced with the fact that Iran and N. Korea have or are close to having nuclear capability and it was done on the El Baradei's watch.

The mood of the American electorate as both El Baradei and Benon Sevan are revealed to be incompetent at best or corrupt at worst will not bode well for the U.N. The one poll that hasn't been conducted lately is to assess the confidence of Americans in the U.N., but the most recent ones had indicated growing disillusion with that organization, and that will be a consideration when voters cast their ballot for "American unilateralism with staunch and valiant allies" or "global test."

Five.More.Days. Judging by the past four days, it will be longer than a lifetime.

Posted by Debbye at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2004

Midnight Cowgirl

Oct. 23 - You know what's good about working the midnight shift? Not a damned thing. Well, the steady paycheck is a good thing, but trying to figure out what day it is and attempting to be, you know, sharp and focused are frustrating especially when I'm trying to write insightfull stuff.

I've determined that the source of my problem is that I stopped taking my multi-vitamin pills. I remembered reading that the red dye on the shell could cause insomnia, and I realized that my problems with getting sleep were probably due to that factor (I dismissed the foolish notion that the coffee I imbibe during the night might be contributing to the problem.)

Anyway, what is evening to you is morning to me, but at least we both know it's finally Saturday. (That last sentence is not intended for any Australian readers, who know that it's morning but also believe it's Sunday. Oh well, at least we can all agree on something.)

Another cause for lamentation is that I finally had to wear woolly gloves this morning. That acceptance of the approach of winter preceeds the next one, which will be to wear a neckscarf and then, alas, the winter boots that will replace my dearly beloved and incredibly comfortable running shoes. The tocque will be my final concession, and I won't wear one unless it's 20 below with 80 kph winds.

Posted by Debbye at 07:44 PM | Comments (5)

October 22, 2004

Courage in the face of world indifference

Oct. 21 - Opinion Journal argues that there has been substantial progress in Iraq, citing in particular in the latest offensive in Fallujah.

At the heart of this - and any - progress lies the single most important component: the will and determination of the Iraqi people:

Which brings us to another point that deserves more attention: the courage of the Iraqis. Young men continue to line up by the thousands outside the police and National Guard recruiting stations that have so often been targets of terrorist attack. On Tuesday a mortar struck the ING headquarters in Mushahidah, killing four. But recruit Qusay Hassan was quoted saying, "If I don't join the army, who is going to defend the country from the terrorists?"
Who indeed? Those brave, courageous human shields who were so anxious to prove their bravery by going to Iraq yet who left before the going even got tough and failed to return when they were actually needed?

Or the U.N., which arrogantly failed to acknowledge the dangers and, rather than admit to and rectify its error, fled?

Or maybe Western liberals, who should be thrilled at the blossoming of freedom in Iraq but who cannot abide the notion that the USA has done something right, thereby allowing their hatred for America overshadow their oft-proclaimed love for their fellow men and women?

The contempt I feel for those who would diminish people like Qusay Hassan cannot find words. We are witnessing mighty deeds and heroes from which songs are made, and even as I rejoice that there is still such in this world I am pained to see a portion of our civilization, aided and abetted by main stream media, try so hard to prove itself frivolous.

When our children and grandchildren ask about "our day," it won't be curiousity about Michael Jackson, Teresa Heinz-Kerry or even the curse of the Bambino: it will be about the struggle of freedom vs. tyranny in the Mid-east. However shall we answer them?

Posted by Debbye at 07:40 AM | Comments (2)

October 17, 2004

Jihad and the Barbary Pirates

Oct. 17 - History buffs alert, courtesy of Ghost of a Flea, an article in FrontPage Magaine, John Quincy Adams Knew Jihad by Andrew G. Bostom, has caused me to consider that there was an additional level to the invocation of the tradition of the Barbary Pirates which I cited near the end of this post.

I am a great many years away from practicing scholarship and my tools are rusty, so I don't feel competent to analyze the article properly but there are some intriguing notions put forth that cause me to wonder to what extent the historical record as taught in schools and universities has been revised following the collapse of the Ottomon Empire.

This was a monumental surprise: John Quincey Adams wrote

... The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God. The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The commands of the prophet may be performed alike, by fraud, or by force. Of Mahometan good faith, we have had memorable examples ourselves. When our gallant [Stephen] Decatur ... had chastised the pirate of Algiers, till he was ready to renounce his claim of tribute from the United States, he signed a treaty to that effect: but the treaty was drawn up in the Arabic language, as well as in our own; and our negotiators, unacquainted with the language of the Koran, signed the copies of the treaty, in both languages, not imagining that there was any difference between them. Within a year the Dey demands, under penalty of the renewal of the war, an indemnity in money for the frigate taken by Decatur; our Consul demands the foundation of this pretension; and the Arabic copy of the treaty, signed by himself is produced, with an article stipulating the indemnity, foisted into it, in direct opposition to the treaty as it had been concluded. The arrival of Chauncey, with a squadron before Algiers, silenced the fraudulent claim of the Dey, and he signed a new treaty in which it was abandoned; but he disdained to conceal his intentions; my power, said he, has been wrested from my hands; draw ye the treaty at your pleasure, and I will sign it; but beware of the moment, when I shall recover my power, for with that moment, your treaty shall be waste paper. He avowed what they always practised, and would without scruple have practised himself. Such is the spirit, which governs the hearts of men, to whom treachery and violence are taught as principles of religion.” [p. 274-275]

“Had it been possible for a sincere and honest peace to be maintained between the Osmanli and his christian neighbors, then would have been the time to establish it in good faith. But the treaty was no sooner made than broken. It never was carried into effect by the Turkish government.” [p. 276] (bolding added)

I don't speak or read Arabic, so when I read, for example, assertions that Yassar Arafat would say one thing in English and something entirely different in Arabic, I was trapped in that I couldn't determine the truth for myself but forced observe how events unfolded before deducing that, indeed, he was engaged treacherous deceptions.

The above quote would indicate that, had we known our own history better, we might have been better prepared to confront this double-dealing, but it is perhaps our curse to try to turn the vanquished into friends and we do this by down-playing past betrayals.

One of the accomplishments of the Bush Administration must be that the true nature of Yassar Arafat and the Palestinian Authority has been exposed, that we and the European Union are demanding fiscal accountability from them.

Back to John Quincy Adams, the Barbary Pirates and US neutrality: read the article. More than once.

Posted by Debbye at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2004

The burden of history

Oct. 13 - Another Mass grave unearthed in Iraq:

Many of the bodies found at the site near al-Hatra are believed to be the bodies of Kurdish women and children thought slaughtered by the Saddam Hussein regime.
As I read this it struck me that I have lost count of the number of mass graves that have been unearthed, not because they are unimportant but because there are so damned many.

There has been so much focus on the failure to find stockpiles of WMD that it has been easy to forget that there were also human rights requirements included in the flouted U.N. resolutions that formed the cause for resumption of hostilities against Iraq.

After Saddam fled Baghdad, TV crews filmed people digging and clawing through tunnels in the hopes of finding loved one who had been arrested and never heard from again. Our forces found mass graves filled with those who had been hastily killed within two weeks of the opening assault in Operation Iraqi Freedom. I still can't forget images of those people who, when mass graves were found, dug with their bare hands in hopes of finding an identity card, bit of clothing or other trace indicating they had finally located the remains of a loved one.

There were many reasons to support this war, but the decision to leave Saddam in power after 1991 still forms the bedrock for those reasons and I remain proud that we rectified that error even as we grieve those who have been lost in this endeavour.

The president's answer during the last debate about mistakes he may have made was the only possible one: history will determine what was a mistake and what was not.

Responsible leaders make decisions every day knowing that they cannot forsee all possible outcomes and knowing that, in the end, they can only judge themselves as to whether they did their best to do what was right with the information available at the time. History not only has the advantage of hindsight but also the advantage of not bearing the burdens of the decision makers it presumes to judge.

One thing history may judge is the degree to which the stated intention to force a regime change in Iraq kept many countries from joining the Coalition and, for those who bewail the lack of France, Germany, Russia (and Canada,) it would do well to consider if the war would have been worth the cost had the butcher Saddam and his psychotic, homicidal sons remained in power.

I think not.

The highlighted section from this passage in President Bush's speech to the Joint Houses of Congress on Sept. 21, 2001, was prescient of today's state of affairs:

... Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom -- the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time -- now depends on us. Our nation -- this generation -- will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail. (Emphasis added)
The unfortunate truth is that we had to convince others - and especially Iraqis - that we wouldn't turn tail and run this time as we had in Lebanon, Iraq, and Somalia. We had to prove that we were willing to get down and dirty and fight a real war on the ground instead of from the skies as we had in Kosovo.

I hate the fact that we had to sacrifice coalition and Iraqi lives in this endeavour. I would have much preferred that we could have gathered together with some of Saddam's friends, family and associates, had a barbeque at one of his palaces, and then confronted him with his failings in some kind of intervention and through those means have persuaded him to change his killin' ways.

But that wouldn't have been reality, it would have been a dream sequence on "Friends."

So we sacrificed blood and treasure, a neat little phrase that obscures the painful truth that we sacrificed the futures of some fine men and women - American, Iraqi, British, Polish, Ukranian, Bulgarian, Italian, Spanish and others, and, although no Australians have been lost, they too were willing to die.

There are lessons in our own past that point to how we can redeem the blood debt we owe to the fallen. In the immortal words of President Abraham Lincoln:

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.
Or this crisp admonition from Tom Hank's character in the movie "Saving Private Ryan"
"Earn this."

This post at Tim Blair's site and especially the commenters' discussion about the historical evaluation of Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policies is very thought-provoking.

Posted by Debbye at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2004

Mistaken Identities and Mistaken Notions

Oct. 12 - One of the biggest lies being promoted by Sen. Kerry is that we were loved before 2000. Its corollary, that we had lots of support after Sept. 11, is equally false. [Commenter Paul points out that Kerry hasn't said we were universally loved which caused me to stop, think and realize that he is indeed correct. I got carried away with my own hyperbole.]

The issue is actually incredibly simple. Which is the better representation of a person's views: the one they say to your face, or the one they say behind your back? (If you need help with that one, stop reading right now because you're too nuanced and I'm probably going to piss you off.)

I received an email from a Canadian who moved to the UK in 1993. He made some extremely pertinent observations from the perspective of a Canadian who was often mistaken for an American. When he would identify himself as a Canadian, sometimes the assumption would be made that he hated Americans too and he would hear what he described as some pretty vile comments. Both he and I heard things that most Americans never heard before Operation Iraqi Freedom (remember that people up here assume I'm a Canadian until I set them straight.) In retrospect, I should have spoken out about it, but back then I didn't recognize the danger it represented so shrugged it off. After all, we were strong and could afford to be tolerant.

My kids have also heard far too many expressions of anti-Americanism up in this bastion of tolerance and diversity, and much of it came from teachers and university professors.

But this nonsense that we were universally loved before GWB became president and before Operation Iraqi Freedom is so false and so dangerous that it must be confronted.

I was not blogging (hadn't even hear of blogs) on Sept. 11, but does anyone else remember a women's forum held in Toronto within a week of Sept. 11 in which a speaker supported the attacks and everyone in the room applauded her? Does anyone else remember Judy Rebick's column on the main CBC web page which applauded the death and destruction of the attacks as America's due desserts? That freaking column stayed up for over six months after the attacks, and I was genuinely shocked at the large number of posts supporting her position.

What I remember as well about those days is how quickly the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and the TV news media used a lot of ink and air time to recount the errors of US foreign policy and express their hope that the American government would recognize its errors and rectify their approach to the world and the Mid-east (I had never read the Toronto Sun at that point, snob that I was, and am beholden to the person who showed me an editorial supporting the USA.)

Here in Canada, the war in Afghanistan was opposed bitterly by most of the media until Canadian troops were committed, and then they abruptly made an about face. (Principles are such fleeting concepts ...)

Do not tell waste your time lecturing Americans abroad about the sympathy we had after Sept. 11. It stemmed from two entirely different sources: our real friends were genuinely shocked and horrified, and our unfriends were delighted that we had been brought down a peg and irritated when, unchastised, we vowed to fight back. These sentiments were expressed to me until I set them straight as to my nationality. (In retrospect, I should have punched them in the jaw. Oh well.)

The grief was also caused by the large numbers of citizens from countries other than the USA who died in the attacks, including 25 Canadians.

On the first anniversary of Sept 11, the Canadian Prime Minister, then Jean Chretien, expressed his view that the USA had brought the attacks on itself.

I was here. I am a witness. Far too many Canadians hated us before Sept. 11, before NAFTA, and before Ronald Reagan. Even the rescue of American Embassy workers in Tehran is said to have been arranged by the CIA, and although the Canadian government did help, it was begrudgingly done.

Where is Amb. Ken Taylor today?

Have people actually forgotten the image of the "Ugly American" and how typical American tourists were portrayed as unmannered, wore loud shirts, couldn't speak the language but expected everyone to speak English, and complained when they couldn't find a McDonald's near by?

CanCon: Americans who supposedly came to Toronto in August with their skis and ask "Where's the snow?" and presumably thought everyone here lived in igloos (maybe that's why the tourist trade is suffering - an igloo shortage.)

I've lived here for 30 years and gritted my teeth for far too many of them, so don't waste my time with re-written history.

Of course there were Canadians who were genuinely friendly to the USA. Of course we aren't hated by everyone in every country, but the unfortunate fact is that we make far too many of the social democracies look bad because we are a thriving, active and industrious people who exude confidence and determination.

But made no mistake: the elites in Canada and Europe hate us virulently, and their media reflect that hatred. They always have and always will. They hide it when they want something, and bring it out, fully formed, when we're down.

And why? Because our standard of living and way of life shame them. Our technological advances, the fact that Americans are actually happy gives lie to all their deconstructionism and nihilism and what really angers them is that we don't care. That stubborn Yankee independence stands between them and world domination, and they don't like it.

And we have the finest military in the world. And make no mistake: we've used a lot of tax dollars for that military and thus have sacrificed to have it.

Thank about it. When a country's social democratic programs are bankrupting it, they resent countries that manage to thrive without a huge civil service to oversee those mountains of regulations that stifle economic growth and keep people on the dole. When a country has been paying off terrorists, it makes them look bad when another country chooses to fight back. When a country has pandered to its citizens' notions of entitlement, it's hard for them to persuade their citizens that those policies are not self-sustaining but so long as there is the possibility of channeling resentment away from the failures that produced it and towards a people, like us, that are flourishing because we renounced socialism, they have gained one more term to rule.

And make no mistake about Canada: the Liberal Party rules Canada, and are even referred to openly as the Ruling Party, whereas in the United States, we refer only to that party which holds a majority because the basis of our political tradition is the underlying principle that ultimate power rests with We, the People.

The dislike of Americans has been around ever since our country was conceived. Only 20 years ago, President Reagan was reviled and considered a threat to world peace. Have people actually forgotten that, after the Lockerbie bombing, only the British PM would allow us to fly over her air space when we retaliated against Libya (and forgotten the heat Dame Thatcher took for that in the British House of Commons?) [Commenter Jeff corrects me in that the strike against Libya was in retaliation for the disco bombing in Germany, and a quick Google confirmed that he is right.]

If we want the tired Old Europeans to love us again, it won't happen because they have never loved us. Now, we could be deemed more acceptable if we sink to their level, but at what cost? The cost of our ideals? Our individuality? Our self-esteem? Our beliefs in justice? Our prosperity?

Canadians have been arrested and tortured abroad and left to languish while the Canadian government applies "soft" diplomacy. Zahra Kazemi died in Iran, and Bill Sampson, who holds dual citizenship with the UK and Canada, was released by the Saudis due to American intervention as a favour to the UK. He now makes his home in the UK in recognition of the country which continued to fight for him (and which isn't Canada.)

Is that what Americans want? It would make some Canadians feel better about their own feckless foreign policy, but, again, at what cost?

It's all very nice for Sen. Kerry to promise to form a coalition, but when has he ever done so? He was in the Senate for 20 years and never once put together a coalition of his colleagues to get legislation he proposed passed.

He claims he joined others to get legislation passed. When you think about it, that's a very big danger sign.

Kerry is a joiner, not a leader. He is truly "unfit to command" not only because of his behaviour in the 70's but because of his failure in the Senate.

I was an anti-war activist in the 60's and 70's, and even I didn't believe his claims about US soldiers all being war criminals as he testified. Like many other of my generation, I knew men who were serving and had served in Vietnam. They were decent, honourable men (although they were boys when they left) and one effect of Kerry's testimony was that my opposition to the war was actually shaken, not strengthened. I knew he was exaggerating, but I was too damned stupid (and young) to recognize the full calumny of his testimony.

Note to Swift Boat Vets: Keep. It. Up.

Sen. Kerry talks about how our allies picked up a portion of the bill for Gulf War I. How much of the bill for the Kosovo campaigns have they picked up? (We're still in Kosovo, if you need a quagmire to oppose.) How about Macedonia, Liberia and Haiti (Parts 1 and 2)? How much of the bill for Somalia have they picked up?

Exactly what country pays the largest portion to maintain the U.N.? (and now that the UN Oil-for-Food program is defunct, they'll need more cash!)

The sad reality is that, should the U.N. decide to pick up the bill for Iraq, we would still have to give it to the U.N. in order for them to pay it back to the USA (less the fees the U.N. will charge as the middle-man.)

[I realize that all the pundits said "Irony was Dead" after Sept. 11, it's in the same file as the harsh Afghan winters, the cruelly hot Iraq summers, the thousands of US casualties we would sustain fighting house to house to take Baghdad, the fierce Arab street, the humanitarian crisis that would be created in Iraq, ad infinitum. Yes, it's a big file.]

Who pays to station troops in South Korea, and Germany? The Germans and South Koreans hate us but don't want us to leave because our troops represent income in the former case and the front line of defense in the latter. (By a strange coincidence, Sen. Kerry wants us to stay in Germany too. He hasn't offered a sound, military reason why we should stay, though.)

Of course, bashing the Germans is almost unkind. I wondered what those Germans who carried Bush=Hitler signs thought as openly neo-Nazis were elected to the German Parliament. They were so self-righteous that they failed to see the fascist danger in their own backyard.

What did Instapundit Glenn Reynolds say? Something like fascism is always supposed to be hovering over America, but it always lands in Europe.

Anti-Americanism serves a lot of purposes, not the least of which is to divert citizens from observing the actions of their own governments. But the places that matter, as in being on the front lines, like Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia, are electing leaders who are committed to fighting terrorism. What does that tell us?

More CanCon: did anyone else feel a moment of recognition when President Bush described national health care as "rationed" health care? It sent a chilll down my back.

Back to the two-faced bastards our good allies.

We may never really know the content of the conversation when Chirac flew to meet with Presdident Bush shortly after Sept. 11, but I do remember that shortly afterwards, President Bush invoked the tradition of the Barbary Pirates in describing how we would fight back. I don't know if others got the point but I certainly did: we were not going to pay tribute, despite the best advice of our European friends, any more today than we did back in the early 1800's when they gave the same advice. (Yes, I know what the historical record actually says about us negotiating a better deal with the Pirates. So does the President; hence the word "tradition." Heck, I don't even know if Lt. Stephen Decatur really pulled out a pistol at the last moment and shot a cutlass-waving pirate to avoid being skewered. But I want to think he did, and it added some delicious flavour when I lived in Decatur county back in Georgia.)

Students of American history will also recall the infamous "XYZ Affair", which gave birth to the meme "Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute."

It is probable that few people outside the USA even know about those confrontations of our early years as a nation (I'm not touching the sad fact that probably a lot of Americans lack "historical perspective" as do much the MSM - main stream media, Dad) but I for one got the President's point loudly and clearly.

Bottom Line: We stood up to the the tribute-demanding pirates and didn't take the advice of European leaders back then. We had some colourful naval skirmishes. It is even credited with improving our Navy.

That's the tradition President Bush invoked, and those of us alert enough to make the connection understood immediately our strategy in the war on terror.

It wouldn't be over in a day. We would have to find them, harry them and keep them guessing as to where we would strike at them next. And it would take years, if not decades, to finish the job. And our European allies would think we were foolish to fight when we could just pay up and carry on about our business.

And you know what? We succeeded. The reign of the Barbary Pirates ended. We fought them all the way to the shores of Tripoli, folks. And where are they today? Languishing in the dust bin of history and of interest only to weird history lovers like me. Until now.

The history of the USA, from our first vow of "No taxation without representation" to today's dilemma of paying ransom is laden with examples of refusal to bribe our way out of difficulties. (Don't bother to point out times that we have violated that tenet; the point is what we've striven to achieve; whenever anyone reaches for the stars they often fall short but hey! try again. It doesn't hurt half as much as putting your tail between your legs and accepting defeat.)

I woke up this morning with two phrases running through my head. The first was a recollection when I first heard the "Yes, but" conditional sentence. It was "I'm not a racist, but ..." back in the early 60's. Funny how I had forgotten that. It was rightfully reviled back then by liberals. Today, that formulation is on most liberals' lips.

The other was something from a (good grief) Space: Above and Beyond episode:

Mean as hell
All the time
Rough and ready
In the mud
Never quit
Ever faithful
Semper fi!

The terrorist attacks and the passengers and crew of Flight 93 taught us that we are all on the front line of this war, and we'd better think more like Marines than flower children. It may not be nice, but it is reality.

This rant has been brought to you coutesey of my BALLOT ARRIVING IN TODAY'S MAIL and I'm off to send it back, properly marked with a vote for our Cowboy President and our Kick-Ass Vice-President.

I voted for Nader in 2000 (it was a protest vote) and, in a strange way, my vote today is also a protest vote. I'm protesting stupidity, cynicism, cowardice, avarice, lies, delusions, hypocrisy, and most of all, appeasers of fascism.

Ain't life grand?

20:06: Holy cow, it seems I'm not the only ex-pat speaking up. After reading this account by playwright Carol Gould of her life in England(via Daimnation,) I'm ashamed that I let comparatively mild events in Toronto get to me.

Also, I should hasten to add that, as I live in Toronto, my face-to-face experiences and encounters with strident anti-Americanism are limited to Toronto. But as governments interact with governments, not people, the Canadian government is what the American government has to work with and the actions of the government of Canada hardly stands up in comparison to that of Australia, another Commonwealth nation.

Posted by Debbye at 01:39 PM | Comments (25)

October 09, 2004

Being Sane in T.O.

Oct. 9 - First, an apology. I was originally AWOL due to a (slight) computer problem and sudden increase in work-related demands, but once the temporary problems ceased I found I had been overrun by a Demon Within - the snarly, slobbering, fanged and clawed variety.

Okay, that's overstating things a lot. The simpler explanation is that I was writing a post which was angry in a mean-spiriteded way but my attempts to edit it only made it worse and revealed some things inside that I needed to confront.

I was full of anger, spite and a near vicious attitude toward my fellow Torontonians, and it all came to head at work over coffee, or rather the lack of coffee. It's one of those small, inconsequential kerfuffles that would ordinarily be shrugged off but it became a source of fury for me, and because I knew I was over-reacting I also knew I needed to look within. What I found was a big hole where tolerance and understanding once dwelt.

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that I take a certain amount of heat from co-workers because I am an American. The movie Farenheit 911 gave Bush haters some talking points (let's move quickly past the mentality of those who take their cues from Michael Moore!) and as I actually have a vote in the upcoming election and they don't, it infuriates them that I support the President.

So what does that have to do with coffee? Well, my co-workers want someone to organize and run a coffee pool, and for some reason She who is a Warmonger was also the only person they could think of to organize and run one. Simple persuasion didn't work, so they employed Shameless Flattery.

I know I'm overreaching, but that state of affairs in coffee does seem to have a certain parallel with the state of the world and what the international community expects from the USA.

Is Canada one of the 'allies' Kerry thinks he can bring on board? America, trust me when I say that you are better off without them so long as the mentality that rules Toronto also controls Parliament.

One of the questions in last night's debate was about the experiences of Americans abroad. Anyone who believes that President Bush's policies provoked anti-Americanism is living in a state of denial as to how deep anti-American sentiments ran long before the 2000 elections and September 11.

Vicious attacks on the USA and Americans were written even as the dust was still settling over the hole in Manhatten, and they ranged from "blood is on America's hands so payback is good" to "maybe this will cause Americans to reconsider their place in the world" (which was evidenced in the US press as "why do they hate us" columns and editorials.)

So I'm still trying to get the Demon of Resentment under control and I don't want to inflict that kind of negativity on anyone (or do I just want to keep it hidden from everyone?) but maybe the rest of the world needs to know that we Americans sometimes make up for our lack of nuance by keeping our mouths shut but that silence is not to be mistaken for compliance or acceptance of their judgement but rather a willingness to bide our time, have our election, and proceed from there.

Mark November 2 on your calendars. I predict that Americans will speak very loudly that day, and the world should indeed worry about the re-election of President Bush because he may be above settling old scores but I'm not guaranteeing that the rest of us can live up to his example.

I owe personal apologies to those who emailed me and to whom I haven't responded. It was hard to compose letters when I couldn't compose myself, but I am dedicating Thanksgiving Day to wading through the spam in my Inbox and responding.

I know I owe a more profound and lengthy apology for my unexplained absence (a simple post that I was taking a break should have been made) but it's taken nearly three days to get this out and I have to face the fact that I'm unlikely to be happy with the lengthier apology but writing one will only allow me to procrastinate posting a mea culpa.

And the Coffee Issue? I solved it in a good ol' American way: I bought a thermos and bring my own coffee to work.

Speaking of work, I'm on an afternoon shift and have to go. More later.

Update Oct. 10 - 15:57 Thank you all for your support and encouragement. As I said, I have to battle a mean-spiritedness that is creeping into me and try to remain focused on the issues.

On or around Sept. 12, 2001, it occurred to me that part of the reason the USA is subject to so many misconceptions and slanders might in part be due to the fact that many of us who live abroad have tended to shrug our shoulders rather than respond to the attacks both in the media and from people with whom we interact.

Americans who live in Canada can "pass" for Canadian, and thus hear more slurs on our country than US citizens in other countries who would often be immediately indentifiable by their accents. My usual response in the past was to inform them that I was an American, and the usual response of an attacker would be to change the subject (which meant dropping the attack.) I now wonder if I should have pressed a counter-attack (in a very polite way, of course) which would have provided more talking points post Sept. 11.

I have questioned wearers of Kerry buttons as to whether they are American citizens, and haven't encountered one who is.

But I wear my Bush-Cheney button proudly, and when confronted, I say brightly "I'm an American citizen" confident that this announcement explains everything. It does take people aback! They haven't quite figured out the implications of a Bush victory, especially the impact on an American electorate that will finally leave hanging chad memories in the past and stride forward with a firm mandate for the President.

Expect lots of wailing as ex-pats who waited for the last minute find themselves unable to vote (these wankers think the Pentagon should assist them? The connection with the US for private citzens abroad is through the State Department, which could provide new fodder for the ineptitude of that department but certainly doesn't reflect on the President.) Expect impatience and dismissal from those of us who maintained our status on the Voter's List.

Those who didn't value their voting rights sufficiently to maintain them may find they have temporarily lost them. Talk about your Basic Life Lessons ... Mom and Dad are proven right yet again.

Note to Tim G.: Good on you! I'd love to see a tally of ex-pat voters but I think we'll be grouped with military personnel as absentee ballots and, as I can't imagine being in finer company, I'll willingly forgo the chance to counter Democrat whines that President Bush has made the world more "uncomfortable" for Americans and be content with victory.

Posted by Debbye at 09:47 AM | Comments (25)

July 04, 2004


13 star US flag.gif

The first official flag of the 13 united States of America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All everybody wants is some elbow room;

Mr. Colt made all men equal;

Rude people fight indoors and polite people step outside;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updated to recommend some wonderful posts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 03, 2004

Rome is Western Civilization

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 01, 2004

Saddam behaved like Saddam (updated)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just a thought.

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

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

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

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

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

Peggy Noonan in today's Opinion Journal says

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 11, 2004

The Russian and American presidents

June 11 - It seems like a lifetime ago when President Bush said that he had looked into Russian President Putin's eyes and "seen his soul." The press mocked that assessment (of course) but one of the things we've learnt about President Bush that when he tosses out comments like that one it is wise to shut up, pay attention, and see what transpires over the long run.

Russia was opposed to the Iraq War, but at least they were consistent: they also opposed the NATO bombing of Kosovo. (Consistency may be the mark of small minds, but inconsistency is often an indication of opportunism.)

There are still some open questions about Russian involvement in Saddamite Iraq including the final days before the fall of Baghdad, but if the Bush administration chose to see how much rope the Russians might require, it seemed that the length was short the amount they needed to hang themselves and we have been able to maintain cordial relations with Russia.

Actually, relations between the USA and Russia seem the best possible between two sovereign nations: we disagree, but do so agreeably; Russia pursues courses in her best interests, we pursue ours; we didn't ratify Kyoto, and neither did they.

In short, both countries are behaving like adults without the burden of control freakery that seems to consume some of our other allies.

Whereas the foreign leaders who are said to prefer a Kerry presidency choose to remain hidden, the Russian leader has come as close as is proper to publicly taking a stand and does so consistent with his opposition to the war in Iraq: Putin Takes Bush's Side Against Democrats on Iraq saying

"I am deeply convinced that President Bush's political adversaries have no moral right to attack him over Iraq because they did exactly the same.

"It suffices to recall Yugoslavia. Now look at them. They don't like what President Bush is doing in Iraq."

He could have openly criticized the French, Germans and Belgians for the same cause, but I'll do that for him by pointing out that they (and Canada under Chretien) also supported military intervention in Kosovo despite the lack of a U.N. mandate.

(Link via Let It Bleed. I found while my post fermented that Kate at the Western Standard blog, the Shotgun, has also picked up the story from the Reuters link from which the Yahoo article was taken.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:53 AM | Comments (2)

June 06, 2004

Canada remembers D-Day

June 6 - Peter Worthington reminds us of things We should remember about the storming of Juno Beach by Canadian soldiers 60 years ago, and Mark Bonokoski reminds us to remember today's Canadian soldiers who serve in Afghanistan, the Golan Heights, and Bosnia.

The problem with lies is the intellectual disconnect necessary to maintaining those lies: if Canada has always been a peacekeeping nation, how does that square with those who served in the Boer War, WWI, WWII and Korea? Clearly the Canadian participation on D-Day was a military offensive, yet the Canadian Prime Minister is in France to comemorate that non-peacekeeping mission.

The lack of financial support for the military and the cynical misuse of funds earmarked for the military (exemplified by charging the military budget for former PM Chretien's purchase of two Executive Jets from Bombardier) resulted in Canada's meagre troop assignment in Haiti, the only other francophone nation in this hemisphere and thus the only place in which a French-speaking military command would be of practical value.

How many young Canadians have enlisted in the US military? How many young Canadians have considered doing so? Both the Conservative and Liberal parties have promised to increase the funding and size of the Canadian military, but to what end?

I'm an American, so I see the military through American eyes. I can't accurately judge how Canadians see their military but I do wonder at the pacifist philosophy of the ruling Liberal Party that seeks to recruit young Canadian men and women to a military that is not supposed to fight.

French President Chirac reportedly warned US President Bush against making any comparisons to the war in Iraq during D-Day commemorations, which of course drew more attention to those comparisons than any words President Bush might have spoken!

We finally learnt on Sept. 11 that evil never dies but merely assumes a new face, yet on this D-Day anniversary we are hearing the usual platitude that they fought so that we don't have to which is also is a lie. The truth is that they fought so that we would be able to continue to do so.

Be grateful to those brave men who stormed the beaches, and do so by remaining true to their cause. That is the only possible tribute.

Posted by Debbye at 11:41 AM | Comments (2)

June 01, 2004

Memorial Day

June 1 - Yesterday was the third Memorial Day since Sept. 11, and, as on the past three, I spent the day online but couldn't find the heart to link or post.

I think I have come to understand the full measure of Memorial Day. We collectively pay our respects to our collective dead and, as a nation and as a family, seek healing. There is comfort in collective grief.

Then we square our shoulders, and proceed with the mission.

It seems to harsh to put it like that, but what else is there? We knew going into Afghanistan that we would be burying young Americans who deserved to lead full and productive lives. We knew going into Iraq that it would be bloody, and when the fight for Baghdad didn't materialize, we feared the very things that have come to pass.

We've spent nearly three years waiting for the other shoe to drop on the homefront and, despite that fear in the backs of our minds, we've stood our ground, overcome setbacks, and kept the pressure on.

Those who deliberately shed the blood of civilians hope that their actions will terrify and cause strength, heart and will to fail. When attempts at appeasement and conciliation result in the enemy believing their victims won't fight back, the last possible deterrent has been removed and thus our last possible hope for defense. All that remains is to surrender or go on the offensive.

(Well, actually there is a third alternative: we can nuke Mecca. Threatening something the enemy holds dear is sound military strategy, but taking out Mecca would probably be the very last card we'd have to play.)

Yes, I know. We should try something else. All those who claim to be wiser, nobler and more enlightened than we speak those two words but offer no solutions or strategies even as they blame us for not coming up with that unspecified something else.

And then it's our fault for not being smarter than they because we didn't come up with the solution that they couldn't provide.

Why am I supposed to listen to such people again? They've already admitted they're dumber than me.

Blood answers blood, and anyone who doesn't comprehend that is either very young or very naive but it is certain that our enemy understands that.

Those who bewail that an armed response sets a cycle of violence into motion are evidently unaware that a cycle of violence was already in motion; those who fret about "how it will end" overlook that it will end when the enemy is dead.

There will be more tears shed on next year's Memorial Day too, and some of them may be shed on behalf of civilians killed on home soil in a terrorist attack. We've become hardened and battle-scarred, and the next attack won't be met with the shock and disbelief of Sept. 11. We'll handle it.

Posted by Debbye at 02:02 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)

The terror threat and Canada

May 30 - Both Canada and the USA face national elections soon. The March 11 bombing attack in Madrid and the impact it had on the national elections there produced a lot of theorizing and speculation and Wednesday, US Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller (ref. 'Clear and present danger') went public with their concerns about the potential for a terrorist attack in the USA given the upcoming US elections.

The inclusion of two Canadians, including the notorious Jdey, forces the thought that Canada may well be the target. (There will be a national election here June 28.)

Shortly after Sept. 11, I asked Mark what he thought the public response would be in Canada if there was a terrorist attack here. He replied that people would complain about gas prices (he's a dyed-in-the-wool cynic.)

Well, Canadians are already complaining about gas prices, so I raised the question again last night, and he responded that Canadians are finally "getting" it and would correctly aim their outrage at the terrorists even though Old Media would use the attack as another plank in their anti-American campaign.

The one thing Westerners (civilisationally, not regionally!) still have had difficulty grasping is that al Qaeda doesn't care which party rules a country: their aim is to destablize and terrify, period. How do I know that? Because al Qaeda told us so.

We also have trouble accepting what al Qaeda says at face value, even though their track record indicates that are stating the unvarnished truth.

That's why appeasement is as fruitless now as it has always been, why US withdrawal from Saudi military bases and the ending of UN sanctions on Iraq (remember bin Laden's justification for jihad against the US?) resulted in an increase of armed confrontation in Saudi Arabia and their open alignment with the Ba'athists in Iraq even though it was Saddam's corruption of the U.N. Oil-For-Food program that caused the deaths of Iraqi babies.

There is an additional complication: the full-blown, outright anti-Americanism led by the Toronto Star and CBC is bound to cause a reaction from Americans. The outpouring of American solidarity with Spain - then an ally - after the March 11 may not be matched if Canada - not an ally - is hit. The fact that Canada's military and security forces are already over-extended and the unfortunate circumstance that an idiot (Anne McClellan) is in charge of Canadian security puts the ruling Liberal Party in a bit of a briar patch: if PM Martin choses to use Opposition leader Stephen Harper's support of the US effort in Iraq as a weapon during the electoral campaign, he further exacerbates relations between the US and Canada but if a terrorist attack happens up here and he calls upon the US to help Canada, more than a few Americans will say "Call France."

It saddens me, but I'll be one of them, or at least I'll be conflicted. Is a docile Canadian citizenry worth the lives of America's sons and daughters? Or are Canadians less docile than they themselves have been led to believe?

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, and it will be sadder this year than in years past. We've lost some outstanding men and women in Iraq and will lose more. We knew going in that the losses would deprive us of the kind of people that make our country strong and could only pray that their sacrifices would inspire others much as President Lincoln articulated in his Gettysburg Address: so "they not have died in vain."

It's hard to keep perspective up here in Toronto, and hard to remember that, despite it's pretensions, Toronto is not the Center of the Universe much less Canada.

But (and this may seem contradictory) there is a different Canadian that co-exists with that portrayed by the media. The hockey game last night is a case in point: Jerome Iginla scored a Gordie Howe hat trick: a goal, an assist, and a fight.

Is a country that cheers Canadians like Iginla truly passive? I don't think so. But then, it's not me that has to get it, it's Canadians themselves who could be on the brink of defining themselves in something in terms other than unlike Americans.

Posted by Debbye at 10:55 AM | Comments (3)

May 20, 2004

Angel Finale

May 20 - I guess this my formal good-bye to mainstream media (unless Justice League shows some spark, and I don't mean the 'shipping) as the last program I regularly watch ended last night.

Some posts marking this sad event from Denise Angel Goes Bye Bye and Laughing Wolf It Will Be Alright.

The rabid fan following must seem weird to those who didn't follow Buffy the Vampire-Slayer and Angel, but when you think about it, it isn't the least bit strange.

In the pre-Sept. 11 world, there was little admission in the entertainment industry that "evil" and "soul" existed much less were significant. Those things were canon in the Buffyverse.

Remember how the news media pundits gravely stated that "irony was dead?" That may have been the first thing that made me belly-laugh after Sept. 11, because I was on strictly moderated Buffy and Angel forums that dealt forcefully with spoilers, flaming posts and off-topic discussions.

Buffy in particular told stories within a framework of metaphor and sub-text, so discussions about the sub-text of the show merged sub-textually with discussions about Sept 11 and the existence of evil which had suddenly leapt from the realm of fiction to a gaping hold in Manhatten.

And, at times, it seemed the only one who didn't "get it" was Joss, because Buffy that season focused on growing up, not because we "wanted" it but because we "needed" it. It's no accident fans called it the Season from Hell and regretted that Buffy had been resurrected. And Spuffy. I'll never get over the long season of Spuffy and those three pathetic evil-doers.

I could so clearly see the demise of irony. Oh yes indeed.

Angel, on the other hand, had an arc that seemed tailor-made to a post-Sept. 11 audience. It told of a good man who knowingly lapsed into evil in his fanatic quest for vengeance. I have no idea how Keith Szarabajka regarded his Holtz character, although the name of his official website might be a clue.

The Holtz arc remains and will probably always be an all-time favourite of mine, and along the way we got the MacOracle and one of the best death scenes of all time.

Angel also gave us "Numfar, do the Dance of Shame."

People who want to examine this from an intellectual perspective might wonder why the same fan base seemingly exists with the three Whedon vehicles, Farscape, and Babylon Five. And a fairly good number of posters were overt Gilbert and Sullivan fans before Gunn had his upgrade. (It was an Iolanthe thing over Connor's mixed heritage. Don't ask.)

I'm off to work, but left some mild spoilers and more analysis in the extended section ...

Nice synchronicity too, like having Connor come out of nowhere to deliver a stinging punch to a Firefly alumnus just as Angel had delivered in the Buffy finale to another Firefly alumnus.

We got an answer: Connor knew.

Lindsey died and Eve didn't. (I can't believe Denise didn't comment on that.)

One prophecy was fulfilled: Cordelia did pass her vision thing along to Angel (although he said it was a one-shot deal.)

Another prophecy will be unfulfilled. Is that legal?

Some are speculating that an army of slayers showed up to defeat the Demon Army, but I'd settle for Faith (and maybe Principal Wood.)

Buffy lived in Italy, an ally, but not France. That proves I was right and Joss supported Operation Iraqi Freedom!

On the cliff-hanger ending, Joss always has alternated between seasonal endings being cliff-hangers or conclusions. Last season concluded with the end of the Jasmine arc, so I think he just stayed on form. (Okay, the 6th and 7th seasons of Buffy both ended in arc-conclusion mode. I can shoot down my own theory!)

Denise and LW bring up their observations on the posts linked above, and Denise links to some Jonah Goldberg posts on the Angel finale here and here.

As for the dragon and Angel's calling dibs on it, the Buffy Season 5 finale showed a dragon flying through the portal, and many of us wondered where it went and what happened to it. I haven't had a chance to compare dragons, but wouldn't it be wonderful if Buffy's MIA dragon ended up on Angel?

J. Michael Straczynski called it symmetry. I call it treating the audience with respect.

Thank you, Joss.

May 21 - 08:06: David Janes mixed up his Morks and Angels, but he does link to a nifty piece from Jim Treacher Top 10 Favorite Moments In The Final Angel, In No Particular Order. I really agree with Number 6.

One thing I forgot to include: Lorne sang again!

Posted by Debbye at 07:24 PM | Comments (9)

May 13, 2004


May 13 - ... But if the combat is not soon ended, the terrorists (or so-called "militants" or "insurgents") will learn something else: they have made the war personal. When that happens, the American experience of war shows that our troops will shed the veneer of restraint like a snake's skin. And for every American head Zarqawi severs, he will soon find three of his own men's heads. -- Rev. Donald Sensing

I doubt I'm the only blogger who has been shocked by the enormous number of hits my site has had for searches on Nick Berg.

I think that indicates that it has suddenly gotten personal for millions of people.

Ever since Sept. 11, anyone who is old enough to have actually been taught U.S. history without the nuance and subtlety and cultural relativism and feminist slant and ... you know what I'm driving at here ... has understood some critical facts both about this war in which we are now engaged and about us - what we love, what we are capable of, and what we could and might yet do.

We love freedom. We are a free people, and no one is more dangerous than a free person. Every dictator throughout time has understood that basic fact, and our enemy today understands it as well.

That is why we are their primary target and their primary enemy. It is, if you like, a perverse honour to be singled out so.

That is also why this time is so dangerous. That is why we took so risky a gamble in Iraq, and why the stakes are so high.

The Arab media is not altogether wrong to consider the sanctions against Syria a major news story, you know. Maybe they are beginning to understand what "You are either with us or against us" really means in American.

Read Rev. Sensing's post Retribution. Read the whole thing, and the comments. Know yourselves.

Then read this letter from Iraq. I'm excerpting some because it says what urgently needs to be said:

It [the campaign against Sadr] has been subtle and very well done by our leaders. You should be proud. It would have seemed impossible to have achieved our four main goals against Sadr even just a few months ago. Now today, despite the message of the pessimists who are misleading you into despair, we are have scored all the victories needed to bring this battle to a close. First goal was to isolate Sadr. Second was to exile him from his power-base in Baghdad. Third was to contain his uprising from spreading beyond his militias. And the last goal was to get both his hard-line supporters to abandon him, and to do encourage moderates to break from him. This has been done brilliantly, and now we are on the march in a way that just months ago seemed impossible to do. Sadr is losing everything.


Our units, in fact, are operating w/in 500 meters of the most sacred Shia religious sites in these cities, and you should notice that the local people are not resisting. This is what the pessimists amongst you are preventing you from understanding.


... What you need to do is be strong and persistent in your faith with us. Sadr's militia is in panic and desperate, so they are dangerous, but you need to keep this all in perspective. The pessimists would have you believe this is a disaster. Don't listen to them. I think some of them feel that their reputations require our failure because they have been so negative all along, so they are jumping at every opportunity to sensationalize what is happening here as a disaster. Eliminating Sadr's threat is part of the overall mission and we are further ensuring the liberation of the Iraqi people. This has to be done, and we are doing it.

Don't be seduced by those who would rather that we sit back and just enjoy the freedoms past generations of Americans have sacrificed to gain for us. This is our time to earn it. I remember President Bush saying after the September 11th attacks: "The commitment of our Fathers is now the calling of our time."

The letter tells exactly how all the achievements of the campaign have come about, but observant, news conscious readers will realize that the signs were in every news broadcast for the past two months.

Take heart, America! Your common sense has risen above the ponderous, fatuous news media and punditry this past year, and you are being proven correct. It isn't over, not by a mile, but steady as she goes, home port is in sight.

God bless and protect our soldiers and coalition forces, and may their bullets fly true.

We have asked so much of them this past year, so show them your support and a million thanks here.

A Very Special Message to CNN: we are approaching the anniversary of a another major combat operation: D-Day (you f***ing wankers.)

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

May 11, 2004

Cowardice, not restoration of honour

May 11 - As if we needed reminding as to who are the sickest of them all: Video shows beheading of American captive in Iraq:

[Nicholas] Berg is heard screaming as his throat is cut. One of the captors then holds up his severed head.

"For the mothers and wives of American soldiers, we tell you that we offered the U.S. administration to exchange this hostage for some of the detainees in Abu Ghraib and they refused," the hooded man standing behind the American said just before the killing.

"Coffins will be arriving to you one after the other, slaughtered just like this."

I somehow doubt that message is really aimed at American mothers and wives, who surely aren't surprised that we don't bargain with terrorists.

Big, brave men, careful to slaughter someone held in captivity and bound so he can't fight back. Incapable of honour and devoid of humanity, yet they released this statement:

"Where is the compassion, where is the anger for God's religion, and where is the protection for Muslims' pride in the crusaders' jails?" the man says.
The voice is attributed to but not confirmed to be that of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

They try to depict this as a response to the shocking images of prisoner abuse, but they also recorded Daniel Pearl's murder for propaganda purposes; they tried to do the same with Fabrizio Quattrocchi but he denied them.

They will never run out of excuses, but their reason will always be the same: they are evil.

The pictures of prisoner abuse that have shocked the world have shocked me as well, but I've never pretended that we Americans are any more perfect than any other group of people (although we may be more honest about our warts than others.)

Those who have already been and will be charged with prisoner abuse forgot the mission, which was to bring freedom to Iraq. That's the short and long of it, and they will be held accountable for their crimes but it will not derail the rest of us from that mission.

CNN keeps asking "how will we win the hearts and minds after this?" and I keep wondering when CNN is going to clue into why we went into Iraq.

It's not about getting Iraqis to trust us. Gaining their trust is a part of the true goal, which is to get them to trust themselves and each other. That's why a political solution to Fallujah was crucial, and why Iraqis dealing with Muqtada al-Sadr is so important.

Al Qaeda doesn't worry about gaining trust or building self-confidence. Why go to all the trouble of gaining trust when you can achieve your aims by spreading fear? (And let's be honest: it is much easier to spread fear than build confidence.)

Our mission in Iraq isn't about easy. We are fighting terrorism by opening a door that was hitherto closed for Iraqis, and thus all oppressed people, to give them a chance to prove to themselves that they are capable of running their own countries and their own affairs.

It isn't even about proving to other countries - including Canada and maybe especially Old Europe - that Arab countries can be self-sustaining and run by consensual government, because the patronizing attitude of elitists doesn't allow for the prospect that people don't need watchdogs.

That is why I believe the handover must happen. That is why I believed and continue to believe that the war in Iraq was just and right. We will make mistakes for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that this has never been done before, but the most important reason is that however strong the USA is as a nation, it is composed of human beings who come complete with human failings and weaknesses and thus make mistakes.

That is another difference between us and them: we are mere humans, and acknowledge it.

May 12 - 7:54: Burnside has more here and some good links.

Posted by Debbye at 08:02 PM | Comments (7)

April 24, 2004

The last full measure of devotion

Apr. 24 - I came to a full stop yesterday when I learned of Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan (Former Cardinals safety Tillman killed in combat.)

Maybe this story has had so much impact because it is about everything, and, like everthing, it can't be summarized.

When placed beside media piffle-stories about other celebrities who are so prominent in the news, this story - and the man - stand while the others just lie supine as do all sick things.

I tried to put everything into words but I can't. There are those who just can't get beyond their disbelief that a man would give up fame, gridiron glory and millions of dollars to serve the country he loves because they know they never would. I doubt anything I or others might write will clarify matters for such because they lack that language of the heart that defines the overwhelming love of country.

The USA isn't perfect. It's not about how things are but how we continue to strive to form a more pefect union. It's about ideals, and hopes, and dreams that aren't shattered by an oppressive regime that dictates how long the beards must be, restricts the freedom of our thoughts, and decaptitates those who say "No."

Love isn't about perfection. If it was, none of us could love; it's all about loving despite flaws and often even because of them.

What astounds me is not how much we love our country but the lack of bold admissions from others that they love their countries. I may be a simpleton because I love my country, but they are ungrateful, shallow bastards for not honouring the blood and dedication of those who came before them.

Love of country isn't pride, people, it's humility. It's being bowed by the burden of mighty examples and, even as we enjoy the freedoms bequeathed by those who came before us, we freely accept that our heritage includes the admonition that we highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.

Is that the real reason modern education obscures the country's history? Are they trying to eliminate the debt we owe to those of the past by juggling the books? History, which didn't end in the last decade, still informs our thoughts like an insistent whisper that won't be stilled.

History is the story of those who stood up straighter and said Fix bayonets with grim determination. It's about the willingness to fight, die, and yield no quarter.

I used to believe that everyone had something they felt worth fighting for. Now I know better, and maybe that's why I feel so indebted to those who stand so tall and are willing to fight.

That his death should come right now while there's babble about reinstating the draft contains rich irony as well as the definitive response to that debate.

Tillman symbolizes every single man and woman who has chosen to do their part in this mighty struggle. If the fact that his is a household name has lent new clarity to words like honour, valour and service, then I think he's content.

Where do we find such people? Look at your next door neighbour and maybe you'll have your answer.

20:33 Ghost of a Flea pays tribute (and be sure to follow the link under hero.)

Apr. 25 10:41 Just to clarify, when I refer to next door neighbours, I mean that literally. The kids who play hockey in the street or deliver your paper are the stuff from which our real heroes are made.

I sympathize with Al Maviva's epiphany:

I wish I could call him a hero - but he isn't.

He is simply what the rest of us should be. That's right, he's not a hero, it's that most of the rest of us are slackers.

Yep. That about sums it up.

Opinion Journal is republishing a piece by Peggy Noonan when Tillman first enlisted. It makes even better reading today especially given the foolish utterances by those who are promoting conscription.

Posted by Debbye at 10:30 AM | Comments (9)

January 04, 2004

Witnesses to Evil

Jan. 4 - Maybe it's just hard for us to believe that real human beings can act like monsters, much less be monsters. It certainly has been proven that individuals, like Paul Bernardo, can torture their prey for days before finally killing them, but it was a bigger shock to find that his accomplice was his wife. But we quickly categorize them as psychopaths who usually work alone or at most as a pair.

It is even harder to believe that several hundred or even thousands of people can be involved in sadism. I say this even knowing about the concentration camps and "medical experiments" of the Holocaust because howevermuch I may know it happened, my mind balks at the thought that the perpetrators were actual people. I don't know if that makes sense, this disconnect between what I know to be the truth yet what I can only barely believe happened.

Maybe I need to create a new "moment" which I'll call something like a how could they moment.

We all heard stories from Iraq, and the weight of evidence was such that we reluctantly were forced to know that terrible things were happening to the people in that country but these things were so terrible that, much like reports before our soldiers actually entered the concentration camps, things we thought might be exagerated turned out to be grossly understated.

In the midst of ongoing discoveries of mass graves, it is important to remember that there are living witnesses as well. Some of their stories are in this AP article Witnesses to evil and they and others like them deserve justice.

Posted by Debbye at 09:27 PM | Comments (1)

January 01, 2004

Shoshana Johnson and the USA

Jan. 1 - I didn't make it to midnight, darn it. (Full disclosure: I didn't make it much past 10 pm.) I really wanted to stay up so I could cheer for Shoshana Johnson, but sleep won out. I hope she'll accept my excuse that the spirit was willing but but I fell asleep on the chair.

I think we all took the PoWs and their families as our family, and their presence in our collective memories shines clearly. The interviews with Mr. Johnson in particular revealed a man of conviction, courage and faith, and, right after receiving word she has been rescued, didn't the Johnson family friend sweeping the aunt into a giant hug while jumping up and down with joy, crying "Glory Hallelujah, Glory Hallelujah" express the jubilation of us all?

Shoshana Johnson, Lori Piestewa and Jessica Lynch have become part of our American legend, expressing the attitude of Americans toward Americans and our common heart. It's not about gender or race, it's about family.

Some may be thinking that the outburst of emotion upon the rescue of the PoWs was an insult to the numbers of dead and wounded in Iraq. Others will declare that we continue to focus on the former PoWs to divert attention from the ongoing casualties in Iraq.

They don't get it. It is precisely those brief moments of grace and hope triumphant that render meaning to our dead and wounded because the former bespeaks hope even as the latter bespeaks sacrifice.

That right there is the difference between those who buy into the cult of suicide-homicide bombers and us. They are said to sacrifice out of despair, whereas we sacrifice out of hope.

Our strongest national belief is hope. It is that hope which caused our ancestors to emigrate. It is why we work our asses off and steadily believe that the future will be better.

It is expressed by our plea to the Almighty that he stand beside us and guide us because we understand that humility and faith are the bedrock of hope: hope defies logic, statistics, and reason. It's why we supported Terry Schiavo's parents against the poor odds given by the arrogant medical profession, and why we were bewildered when pessimistic Iranian officials gave up all hope of finding survivors. We expect differently from our leaders.

So it doesn't look good. When does it ever? Keep digging, keep trying, don't give up. We didn't find any survivors after the first day the WTC collapsed and we know how much it hurts but keep digging anyway and when you find people alive, jump up and down with joy, thank Allah and hug everybody and keep digging. Blow off the naysayers and dig some more!

Never quit. Leave no one behind. We will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail.

We are a people of unlimiting hope. We are Americans precisely because we hope, because we embrace an idea - our belief in the unlimited potential of the individual and thus our confidence and belief in ourselves collectively - upon which we have chosen to make our stand.

No matter what country you come from, you are an American the minute you consciously choose to be an American. George Washington becomes the father of your country and you become one of his descendants. Some of your relatives may piss you off and others are the kind you keep out of sight when company comes over, that's all.

So some of us are nuttier than the rest. Oh well, we say, there's at least one in every family.

I think we need to rework the concept of hyphenated identities. It is flawed because it is backwards. Fiorello LaGuardia should be remembered as an American-Italian, not an Italian-American. How many airports are named after him in Italy? How many statues of Al Smith have been erected in Ireland, or high schools named after Dr. King in Africa? For that matter, is Sir Wilfird Laurier even mentioned in French history textbooks?

None of those men would have been able to achieve their mighty deeds in their hyphenated lands. Just think: those and other great and innovative minds would have lived and died in obscurity had their forefathers not ended up on North American soil.

That's the USA I celebrate. Not the hyper-power America, because the fact that we are as yet unchallenged in world dominance still gives me the willies: I don't like it, and I don't want it. I want to spend my life griping about the government and bitching about taxes, scoffing the media and sighing when I voted that there was no real difference between the candidates. Tweedle-dee, tweedle-dum and tweedle-dum-dum. (The last, for the age-challenged, came from the Humphry-Nixon-Wallace presidential race of 1968.)

When the Soviet Union fell, I thought good, it's over, and expected the only change would be that we would be able to live our lives without the threat from the Soviet Union (although I never forgot that China was a communist nuclear power.)

Anericans are isolationists, and the French agitation about hyperpuissance went below our radar. The fact that we could conquer the world was flawed: we'd have to leave home to do it, and we don't want to. The world is a nice place to visit, but.

Look at how many times al Qaeda attacked us and killed Americans before we finally got collectively angry enough to fight back? They were forced to attack us on our home soil before we stopped firing across their bow.

That reluctance to go to war forms American history more than can be said of most other Western countries, especially those which criticize us strongest now. Remember that even our half-hearted attempts to join Europe in colonizing other lands in the 19th century were abject failures, and as Americans citizens continued to strongly disapprove, we dropped the notion.

The anti-war movement is moving to the next platform: Bring the troops home now. I want to bring them home the second their job is done. I want to wave and cheer them, and thank them, and let them eat some good home cooking in peace because that's what they were fighting for.

Whenever someone asks when will that be I ask Do you cook? Because every cook knows that just because the timer goes off don't mean the roast is ready. It's done when it's done. And we test it, and check the potatoes and carrots too. That's when we pop the biscuits into the oven.

Hmph. And the rest of the world looks down on us thinking we are captives of fast food and immediate gratification.

We are a people of faith, hope and charity. We think those good values, decent values, and stubbornly refuse to surrender to the fatalism and cynicism of the Old World. That's not new, that stubborness and independence of mind are an ongoing theme in our history since our inception of a country, and they have served us well.

So we continue to dig in the rubble of an Iranian village. We stick it out in Iraq even though each death - Iraqi, American, British, Polish, Spanish, Italian, Bulgarian, Japanese or Thai - grieves us. We clench our fists and tighten our jaws when we hear of another attack in Israel because we have been made brothers and sisters in the one way nobody wanted: people who continue to endure and hope.

We draw from their example and respond to those who would invoke fear by ignoring the cautions of the media, infusing ourselves with courage and shrugging aside the threat to party hearty in Times Square and honour Shoshana Johnson and, yes, pay tribute to the party-goers who were victims of yesterday's car bomb in Baghdad.

I probably shouldn't say this, but what the hell: WE ROCK!

Posted by Debbye at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2003

Beagle MIA on Mars

Dec. 29 - I was a science fiction fan at a fairly young age. Anything science-fictiony, and I would watch it or read it. Needless to say, I read a lot of good short stores (especially from Amazing Stories magazine) and saw some incredibly bad movies.

There were also books, like Space Cat, but we won't discuss that. Ever.

Maybe that early fascination with the possibilities "out there" coupled with the number of probes that have been lost on Mars explains my imagination running full tilt. The canyons there are monstrously deep, and I remember a book by Ben Bova about Mars (I think it was called Mars) that had the discovery of permafrost under the surface and hinted there might be more to the canyons than emptiness and rocks.

Maybe there is something, or some thing, on Mars that is an unknown unknown. Maybe the rocks are sentient and felt insulted at being named after cartoon characters.

The really sad part is that I started thinking about this stuff a couple of years ago when the Polar Lander and the two independent probes went AWOL.

Maybe I better find another news story quickly before someone notices that the Bova book isn't all that old. Move along, folks. Nothing here but a senior moment.

UPDATE: They are speculating that the Beagle landed in a crater which would explain the radio silence. Hmm, weren't the probes that accompanied the Polar Lander thought to have ended up - the both of them - in canyons? Bad sign when they start re-cycling excuses. I'm just sayin'.

UPDATE: I am not alone in my lunacy. Rantburg reports the Beagle is another kill for the Martian Defense Force. (Link via Jay Currie.

Posted by Debbye at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2003

Iraq and LOTR

Dec. 28 - Ran across this interesting post by Fayrouz, an Iraqi woman who lives in Dallas at Live From Dallas (or hit Ctrl+F "Lord of the Rings"):

It's been said to me that each person interprets J. R. R. Tolkiens story of the Middle Earth in a way that reflects his/her beliefs. I believe that's true. I heard different interpretations of the story from different people. Each of these people has different life views.

The first installment, "The Fellowship of The Rings," came three-months after 9/11. I don't know if it was a coincidence, but 9/11 shaped my view of the story.

If you ever read "The Hobbit," you would know that danger was already building up in Middle Earth. However, people kept going on with their lives. As we always think, "if it's not on my doorsteps, it has nothing to do with me."

This isn't a deconstruction, it is an honest view of how her view of the trilogy has been affected by world events. Her comparison of Frodo's and Gollum's inner struggles with that of the Iraqi people is excellent, and reminds us of another reason why Tolkien's work has survived so long.

Okay, I really wish that I had thought of it. Sometimes even Tolkien purists fanatics like me get too bogged down in the overall sweep of the epic and forget the day to day observations Tolkien made that make his work eternal.

Posted by Debbye at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2003

Reconstruction Contracts in Iraq

Dec. 27 - This should provide plenty of ammunition for those who already think Canada is an amoral nation of free-loaders: U.S. policy on Iraq reconstruction bids is not justified, Canadians say.

A strong majority of Canadians feel the United States is not justified in refusing Iraq reconstruction contracts to companies from Canada and the other countries that did not support its war effort there, a new poll suggests.

Seven in 10 Canadians - 71 per cent - believe that Canada should not be excluded from bidding on projects to rebuild the Middle Eastern country, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos-Reid for The Globe and Mail and CTV.

Residents of Quebec are the most adamant, with four out of five of those polled agreeing that the United States was not justified in making this decision.

Almost as many British Columbians - 77 per cent - offered the same opinion, as did 69 per cent of Atlantic Canadians.

Obviously, I don't know how truly accurate this poll is, nor how maniupulative the questions. But we have the interpretation of the poll from the good old Globe and Mail, ever the revisionists:
Companies from countries including Canada, Germany and France - critics of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq - were told that they need not apply for any of the $18.6-billion (U.S.) worth of new contracts being awarded to rebuild the country.
Critics? More like obstructionists. More like used a corrupted oil-for-food program to help Saddam and his bloody regime get around UN sanctions in exchange for lucrative oil contracts despite the costs to the Iraqi people the program was supposed to protect.

More like Oil. For. Palaces. Tatoo that and wear it with all the shame it deserves.

More like acted as a go-between for Saddam and North Korea for the illegal purchase of missiles. (Hey there UNSC member Syria, how much is oil costing you now that the illegal pipeline is turned off?)

More like sold Saddam weapons and plastic shredders to use against Iraqis and keep him in power.

More like supplied Saddam with enough money to keep his torturers and police state apparati in clover.

More like sent military experts to advise Saddam on his military planning.

Tell me: as Canada did not support the Iraq War, just what justifies Canadian bids on those contracts?

Canada's PM Chretien travelled to UNSC member Mexico to enlist their support against regime change in Iraq. (Read the article, it may stimulate a few memory cells.)

Chretien (who is also connected by marriage to a family that controls majority interest in France's TotalFinaElf) collaborated with the countries of the Axis of Weasels, Syria and Saddam Hussein to maintain the pretenses of the oil for food program all the while circumventing the stipulation that the proceeds be used to purchase food, medical supplies, and those things needed to keep the electrical and water supplies functional.

The UN took a 2.2% cut to help foster the illusion. Kofi Annan personally signed off on all expenditures under that program, yet the proponents, including PM Martin, of the "international community" have the balls to proclaim themselves best suited to conduct a trial of Saddam in the international court dominated by frigging Belgium?

A change in faces in the Cabinet does not reflect a change in policy, PM Martin, except to the deliberately delusional. It's still the same Canadian Parliment, a majority of which voted not to support the US and only reluctantly, and with much prodding from the Canadian Alliance, voiced lukewarm support that Saddam had been removed as more mass graves were uncovered.

PM Martin, in the name of Canada, is whining that Canadians want a) US tax dollars and b) to turn Saddam, the man Chretien and Parliament tried desparately to keep in power, over to an international court run by the very people who collaborated with Canada's former PM Chretien to keep Saddam in power with the approval of the Canadian Parliament.

Weasels they were, and weasels they remain.

Yet Chretien, in the name of Canada, had ordered Canadian ships in the Persian Gulf not to detain Saddam or any members of his family if they were caught fleeing Iraq despite a truckload of reports from international human rights organizations that accused them of torture and murder.

That is all way, way beyond "criticism."

Canada wants better relations with the US? On the surface, the Martin government will get it. But if Canadians want better relationships with Americans, which would mean restoring trust, it keeps getting more elusive. The US electoral system and our separation of powers guarantees that the will of the American people will be heard in Washington DC, and no elected official forgets that.

Like it or not, this poll is guaranteed to earn contempt from Americans, because the perception will be that when it comes to lucrative contracts paid for by US taxpayers, 71% of the "morally superior" Canadians are eager to hop aboard the gravy train.

Furthermore, too many Americans know that when it comes to self-defense, Canada is too freaking cheap to spend money on her own defense capabilities so US forces will have to babysit provide security for any Canadian contractors in Iraq.

How can Canadians convince Americans that they are worth it? I live here, and even I can't be persuaded that US soldiers should risk their lives to defend greedy Canadian contractors.

Damned right I want that money to go to countries like Bulgaria and Thailand. Bulgarian and Thai soldiers were killed today, and I am grateful for their sacrifices and to their people. We share something with them we don't share with Canada: the willingness to bear the heavy burdens.

We know who are friends are, who we can count on, and who stands tall in this world. I am overjoyed that we are building stronger and closer relations with them as well as with the British, Australians, Italians, Danish, Poles and Spanish, and if I regret that Canada is not numbered among them, it doesn't mean I'll overlook Canada's lack of moral imagination and give her a pass.

One last time: the US is not the one on trial. The rest of the world is.

Nothing can long withstand those who passionately love freedom. If the day comes when we do fall, we'll go down fighting and give future generations such examples of courage and determination as to light their souls with our passion.

UPDATE: I usually enjoy Ralph Peters' columns, but this one has me fuming because it appears the US is again stiffing the Poles. I have an idea: let's not do that. We're still trying to shake off the stench of Yalta. (It is an excellent column, by the way. I just hate the message.)

(Globe and Mail link via Neale News, FrontPage Mag link via Instapundit.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2003

Merry Christmas

Dec. 26 - I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a new sense of optimism for the coming new year. Life is indeed interesting: how else can you explain how I shared symptoms with someone over 3,000 miles away?

Having a work ethic really sucks sometimes. I've been fighting off a cold for a week, and my first day off Bang! I'm sick. I'm too young for this! My body is supposed to recognize that you're sick during the work week, not on days off!

I've updated the stories about the Queen's message, and it struck me that someday I'll have to explain how a fierce American can have so much affection for a foreign British monarch. Then it struck me that I'm hardly the only American who will have to explain that one . . .

I have more optimism about 2004 than I did about 2002 and 2003. I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I think al Qaeda has been having more moments of shoes actually dropping than the one I'm worried about, and it seems to me that they are in a bind. They must, must attack us again on the homefront, but haven't been able to.

They must produce a bin Laden tape that proves he's still alive or risk him being branded a coward or dead. I personally believe that he is dead, but I was never as interested in capturing him as I was in capturing Zawahiri and the true masterminds in al Qaeda. Getting the figurehead is all very nice, but the masters of strategy and organizations are what made that organization so lethal.

If he is dead, and the top brass know it and are concealing it, I have no issue with that either. On top of worries that official confirmation of his death could unleash "martyrdom" operations, that his death is being concealed by al Qaeda puts them in an awkward spot, not us.

That's the name of the game this year: putting them on the defensive. I like it.

Posted by Debbye at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2003


Dec. 6 - Jay Currie has some insight into the case in the UK in which an officer was sacked because he was overheard making some insensitive remarks about Osama bin Laden (see post "Indeed") and the possible implications:

My sense is that quite the opposite is true. The outrages of the Islamofascists, the idiocy of the Eurocrats, is beginning to tweak the political backbone of England: the Muggles who were initially impressed with the liberality of muli-cult but have begun to suspect that there is something just a little off with stories like this. And when Primrose Lane wakes out.
I sense that's beginning to happen in Canada too.

Where would the Canadian blogosphere be without Jay? He continually supports and encourages new bloggers here, there and everywhere and joins Steven den Beste and others to encourage people to make Belmont Club a regular read (check Jay's post "Centcom - Fighting to Win.")

Steven den Beste has a good post about the defense of Taiwan. Giving up people who love freedom in both Taiwan and Hong Kong is something I and other Americans are not willing to live with, and I too think the Chinese government knows that now.

Another analyst I would add to my list is American Digest. His recent posts lead to to guess that like me, he too is old enough to actually remember the Kennedy assassination and cuts to the heart of how the "Hate Bush" could lead to an act that would transcend the murder of a President.

I go further than Gerard, and urgently ask if the lefties and Eminem understand that many Americans would blame them directly? Do they realize that such an act would give rise, not to demoralisation but rather to an anger that thus far has been on a tight leash?

The government protects them from us no matter which us or them you are. The explosive anger that accompanied Sept. 11 was contained primarily by the strength of character and iron will of President Bush. I know what was in my heart Sept. 11 and all the way through to the President's address to the Joint Houses of Congress, and I know that, although they don't realize it, millions of people have good cause to get down on their knees and thank their Creator for the focus and restraint of President George W. Bush.

You don't have to like him or love him. He is the American President until the people say otherwise, and any attempt to bypass the electoral system will have consequences that few understand. Anyone who thinks it will be "problem solved" doesn't know us.

Rant over. I'm off to work, so take care and I'll check in tonight.

Posted by Debbye at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2003

Hope and Despair

Dec. 2 - David Warren sure has a way with words. From Conscience:

We are, with rare exceptions, safe to expect the usual recitation of unexamined falsehoods in the service of fatuous conclusions. All the complexities of the world will be reduced, by Pavlovian repetition, to a hate-list of bogeymen and exploiters, as we teach another generation to blame the people we envy.
I was reminded of that essay again when I read this and this.

Reading the three together has given me both hope and despair.

Posted by Debbye at 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2003

Thoughts after the president's trip to London

Nov. 21 - Note: any of you ever start a post that had a mind of it's own? Well, this is one. I've improved and tinkered so much I'm not even sure if it makes any sense, but I have to go to work, which is a mercy for anyone who wades through this!

Despite the many intellectual discussions about the President's trip to London weighing the pros and cons, I initially supported this visit for a very personal and very emotional reason.

I wanted Pres. Bush to be able to thank Queen Elizabeth II in person on behalf of the American people for her loving action on Sept. 11 when she requested the Star Spangled Banner be played at Buckingham Palace.

Further, the Queen herself extended the invitation to the President, and it would have been churlish to refuse. Some of us hapen to believe in honour and gratitude, and I'm glad the President went. The possibility that it would be a public relations disaster counted for less than the opportunity, no, obligation rather, to acknowledge and embrace our good friends and allies in the UK, at least to my simple mind, just as the President did when he went to Australia.

If it seems odd, if not downright contradictory, that this proud American would have affection and reverence for the descendant of a monarchy which my own ancestors disavowed, well, it's my paradox and I accept it, as do millions of Americans.

Of course, there are other, more compelling reasons to support the visit including the opportunity to show resolve as well as gratitude and to state (again) the goals of this struggle.

In High Noon, Will Kane's mentor, Martin Howe, says: People gotta talk themselves into law and order before they do anything about it. Maybe because down deep they don't care. They just don't care. I don't agree with the they don't care part, but I do believe it can take a long time before most people realize, however reluctantly, that they must take action and the themes of that movie ran through my mind as I read this:

The slogan "war against terrorism" told only half the story. Bush's idea of putting the spread of democracy at the top of the agenda tells the other half. Now the average Briton knows that he is not asked to fight only against something, but also for something. (Original emphasis)
This is from today's NY Post THE GREAT DIVIDE by Amer Taheri, an insightful analysis of the growing unease in the anti-war movement as reality intrudes on the ideals of that movement. Read the whole thing.

Note I said ideals. I understand those ideals, and in my younger days I embraced them. My world view is more mature now, and today I understand that the drives of greed, lust for power and corruption are universal problem not limited to the US, so I must weigh my opinions and values against something other than reflexive anti-establishmentarianism. Or rebelliousness.

That's why people like me saw the anti-war's Halliburton with TotalFinaElf, and raised them one Oil-For-Palaces program. The butchery of Saddam didn't enter too much because we lacked evidence that would be acceptable to the world community at large, and now we have much more than we could ever have imagined in our worst predictions.

Please believe me when I say it's not so much that those who honestly wished for peace were wrong: those who wish for peace are never wrong, in the strictest sense of the word, but they did choose the wrong fight to oppose. Bringing up WMD now is a fool's game; nobody dismissed the intelligence from every agency in the world including that of the UN regarding WMD, but the anti-war crowd did dismiss claims by Iraqi refugees in favour of the claims by George Galloway, Scott Ritter, et alia.

It happens. We all make judgements about who to believe, and there are far worse crimes than believing the wrong people. Although the claims about WMD in Iraq remain an open book, the claims of the Iraqis who charged Saddam was a butcher have been proven to be true, and, because we left him in power after Gulf War I, it was our duty to remove him however belatedly. This I firmly believe.

To those on the right who continue to denounce the inactions of the Clinton Administration, I have to wonder if they really and truly believe the American people would have supported war after the first WTC bombing, the bombing of the African embassies or the attack on the Cole. I don't. Maybe it's to our credit in the long term that we are slow to anger and slower to war, or maybe it's more reflective of our naivete, patience or optimistim. Take your pick.

It. Doesn't. Matter. It's time to come together, and make decisions about who Americans are.

It's time to be honest, and to look within ourselves instead of trying to conform to this stereotype or that one, and to stop rebelling against this stereotype or that one.

It's time to Grow Up.

That means that the ongoing debate about the use of American force cannot, must not be reduced to a we were right and you were wrong exchange, for if we can't allow ourselves to change our minds based on new evidence, then we aren't rational humans and should stop pretending we are.

In other words, if we really care about ourselves and our future, the true debate is only beginning. Both sides have evidence now whereas before we entered Iraq we mostly had conjecture, and we must evaluate that evidence according to American standards, not the bankrupt ones of those we have good reason to distrust.

Only one year ago, the numbers of Americans and British who supported the action in Iraq was very small. Many were hoping renewed UN resolve would settle the Iraq issue without bloodshed, only a few of us were willing to accept that war was likely. Why?

Maybe because some of us learned a hard lesson from the bloody repression of the uprising in Iraq after Gulf War I, and in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Rwanda. I don't blame those who have avoided thinking about genocides that we didn't prevent in favour of those we did, but the harsh reality of the UN is that it did not play a role in stopping genocide anywhere. That fact must be confronted. The looming war in Iraq again clarified the need for the UN to assert itself, its resolutions, and even its existence, yet the UN agencies that have fled Iraq and Afghanistan would seem to make it clear that no people can rely on that feckless body to protect them.

Sadly, the UN has, in traditional bureaurcratic fashion, come to represent maintaining the status quo which too often means protecting dictatorships like that formerly in Iraq and today in Zimbabwe, Syria and Cuba, rather than representing a bright future for oppressed peoples. So if the UN is willing to content itself with providing food and shelter for those in desperate straits so long as these people are already in secure areas, so be it. That is not an unworthy goal unless they pretend they should be more without making an effort to do more.

I remain an optimist. The UN was created by mere humans, and can be adapted or replaced by mere humans.

Change is in the air. Only observe how quickly war sentiment changed, both in the US and the UK if not in the UN, relative to events in the last century. Look at the European countries that joined the coalition, exchange Italy and Spain for France and Canada, and the alignment is hardly unfamiliar. (And note that the Iraq question is hardly settled among Canadians despite the Federal government's stance. Canadian troops are in harm's way in Afghanistan. That fact demands respect by both Americans and Canadians. They didn't run away after two soldiers were killed last month. They are still the bold Canadians many remember from WWII and Korea.)

We went to WWI with "Remember the Lusitania" but overlook the fact that the Lusitania was sunk in 1915 at the cost of 128 American lives and the US did not enter the war until 2 years later in 1917. Five other ships were torpedoed during those two years. That delay reflected to some degree the large number of immigrants with conflicting loyalties to their former homes as well as the political debate around whether the USA fit into a worldview, a view which we now take for granted but which events already have begun to demand we alter. Other options were weighed, including arming merchant ships. That march to war was slow, but the debates that preceeded it were an essential part of understanding the notion of being American regardless of birthplace into the American pscyhe.

Canada is wrestling with that internal contradiction even today. Give it time, and let them find a Canadian solution.

WWII was forced by the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, but even then the declaration of war on Germany was disputed, and some of the fears about a German Fifth Column were proven true and the fears about a Japanese Fifth Column were proven false. We learned from that experience which is why, however intolerable some may find it, it is right to trust Muslims in the US (and Canada) until and if they betray that trust.

Ironically, an argument posed today by some Canadians against alliance with the US in Iraq was the delay by the US in entering WWII. I never got the rationale for that: by offering it now, does that mean these Canadians retroactively endorse and approve of the delay? I think that unlikely, but to promote that argument for Canadian opposition to the war in Iraq is perplexing unless they actively desire revenge for events of over 60 years ago, and that doesn't really fit in with what I know about Canadians.

Rather, I believe Canadian reluctance to join the US may be due in part to contrariness more than an approval of the Canadian PM's alliance with France. Canadians don't want to feel they are at the beck and call of the US. But how can any American or Brit condemn Canadian contrariness when, in fact, it is another shared value which we rarely acknowledge but must honestly (if laughingly) admit?

There is another factor as well in the Canadian psyche, namely the deaths of 4 Canadian soldiers in the friendly-fire incident of May, 2002, in Afghanistan. That is never far from the Canadian mind, and although it would be fair to charge that the press has fanned that sentiment for all its worth, the sense of useless loss is real.

Clearly, much patience is still required to continue to promote, discuss and debate the vision articulated during the president's visit to London and historic speech at Whitehall (text here) and I fervently hope that those Euopeans and British who read that speech recognize that it signals a change: can the soft left and soft right finally get to a point wherein we debate the need to take a firm stand against tyranny? Please?

Can we finally arrive in the US at a point at which invoking Monicagate and Floridagate are discarded as irrelevant because this is a new era, and we have to take our stands on whether we believe the yearning for freedom beats in all hearts and drop red herrings which detract from honest debate?

And can we begin to apply Godwin's Law, that most excellent Usenet formula which declared an argument won once the opposition has been reduced to comparisons with Hitler and the Nazis since reason and logic have clearly left the building?

This debate must be non-partisan in the US and undertaken without reference to the US in Canada because more is at stake than mud-slinging and who can make the better (or more bitter) wisecracks.

Who are we? In what do we believe? How far are we willing to go to support those beliefs? Sheesh, this isn't the first time in history people have had to make those judgements so stop f***ing around and get to it.

These are weighty issues, and the ultimate stance taken by countries will determine who and what the peoples of these countries believe about themselves and each other. Some allies, like Syria, have been proven to be false. Some allies, like Canada, have proven to be reluctant but should not be ruled out.

How do we need to do to elevate the issues to an honest debate on the world scene?

Primarily, I think it means getting past prejudice against the United States. Is that simplified? Damned right it is, because when we read anti-war positions both in the media and on websites and listen to the rhetoric of the agitators, what they appeal to is paranoia, which is by definition irrational, and that enables them to bypass the real issue, which is human rights in the Mid-East, starting with Iraq, and extending to the brutality which sees Canadians tortured in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran. The debate is whether countries which extol the virtues of human rights really believe in them and what they are willing to do about it.

I lived for too long during the Cold War and I understood the President's sentiments when he pointed out that we often allied ourselves with less than savoury characters in order to maintain balance with the Soviet bloc. (It would be nice for Pres. Putin to make the same observation about the USSR, but I'm not holding my breath.)

I remember the feeling of elation during the Prague Spring, and the sense of outrage and helplessness during the Soviet invasion in 1968, and many more people remember Tianianmen Square.

Is it too idealistic to hope I never have to endure those times again? Or at least that repression in one country can be counter-balanced with liberation in another? I know we can't take on every country, but the powers of example and determination can do a great deal to persuade otherwise intractable people once they realize that bringing democracy to their nations is better than the alternative.

It's not so much whether you are for the United States as it is whether you believe that all humans deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and those who yearn for a return of Saddam and the Taliban are manifestly against human rights.

In many ways, I feel that the United States is finally living up to the beliefs enshrined in the Declaration of Independence because it affirmed inherent rights for all men (and women). Think about it: it could well have read "all Englishmen" or "all Americans" yet didn't, and that was by design.

I first read the Taheri column in toto at Italian Girl's promoting ideas of democracy via Expat Yank, and hopped over to the NY Post in hopes that they too published it and would have the requisite permalink.Thanks to both posters for pointing the way.

Posted by Debbye at 08:10 AM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2003

Remembrance Day, but what do they remember?

Nov. 12 - This is a bit of a ramble. These thoughts have been swirling for a few days, and I'm trying to give them coherence and form. I'll probably read this tomorrow and wish I had said things differently or said more or less.

I found it very hard to post yesterday. A couple of Paul's posts had really hit a nerve with me. There was, contained in this post about the CIBC bank, Ikea and other companies who initially refused to allow poppy sales for Remembrance Day the fact there isn't a single Canadian war movie, which, given the well-deserved reputation of Canadian courage and steadfastness in battle, is an appalling lapse.

Sheesh, I learned about the Canadian army's courage at Vimy Ridge and Dieppe in high school in the US, and the current Minister of Defence, John McCallum, didn't know the difference between Vimy [Ridge] and Vichy [government.] The steadfast determination of the Canadian armed forces is such that every Canadian can hold their head high with pride, and I don't get why we would deprive our children of that legacy.

In yesterday's sole entry, I mentioned a hockey rink Canadian soldiers in Korea built which they called Imjin Gardens and the reason the story tickled my fancy was because it reminded me of a MASH episode in which Cpl. Klinger traded food items (fruit cocktail?) with a Canadian soldier and in parting mentioned a future trade involving hockey pucks. I didn't mention it in the original post because it seemed out of place on Remembrance Day, but in retrospect I maybe should have because it was a telling piece of history about Canada and how Canadian soldiers bring bits of home with them that made it into pop culture.

Canada, as does the United States, offers a very unique heritage to her citizens: by virtue of being here, everyone, regardless of birthplace, is entitled to take as their own the past, present and future of this wonderful country. It is by no means mandatory that one should do so, but the offer is there for everyone.

So when I say the same blood flows through all Canadians' veins as flowed on Vimy Ridge and at Dieppe I mean exactly that: it isn't the heritage of a blood line but of a philosphical and heartfelt line, and that can be a very powerful thing simply because it is taken voluntarily.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the National War Memorial was vandalised in the early morning hours of Remembrance Day, but it still burns. It is beyond cliche to say that our soldiers fight so that others can protest against the government of the day without fear of reprisal, but to deface a monument dedicated to the brave men and women who were willing to sacrifice all so that we could have cozy, pseduo-intellectual debates about war requires a special kind of arrogance and smugness that I hope I never encounter in the flesh.

Nevertheless, that act of disrespect saddened me beyond any of the memorials that day because it is a danger sign that signifies disrespect not only to those who have served their country but to this country itself, and that is an outrage. In fact, it was almost an act of self-hated.

Freedom is not just another word for nothing left to lose, it's the name we give for everything that is worth fighting for, and once we lose our freedom, we've lost everthing. Canadians have known this in the past, and I believe they know that today. It's just a matter of finding the Canadian way to express it.

Freedom of spirit and of mind are such great gifts, and the thousands that flood our shores every year prove that.

One of my referrals was someone wanting to know how Americans feel about US soldiers who are still in Iraq. Words cannot convey how I feel -- humble, grateful, awed, fearful for them, fiercely proud of them, and all the love and support I can direct towards those who are not my children but are as my children because they are both future and present and every one of them possesses a calling and purpose that makes me feel insignificant. They proceed from a line unbroken before Valley Forge and are a part of me.

I could ask how Canadians feel about their soldiers still in Afghanistan, but I think I know. I think Canadians are far greater and better than the prattling of the mainstream press here would indicate, and I think the Liberal elite that rules Canada is not worthy of her.

I alway try to post whatever I can glean about the Canadian military in Afghanistan and the other coalition forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq because I think it matters.

I think that some day, maybe not tomorrow but some day, our kids and grandkids will demand to know what we did and thought during this historical period and I think we'll all want to be able to answer that we did our best.

In many ways, Canada is in far more a transitional period than the US. I knew what the US would do because I know my people and I know how we think, but I was way off the mark in predicting what Canada would do.

I had thought that, given the history of the FLQ and how many people in Canada today have come as refugees from terrorism, that Canada would stand squarely against allowing terrorism to take root in North America. Then Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley had made some very strong remarks shortly after Sept. 11 but was then demoted up and the fence-sitting began.

But the government's dithering did not affect the Canadian people, and despite what Americans may read in the Canadian media and what Canadian politicians may say, I think that Canadians, like their American brethren, are re-evaluating a great many things including their military, patriotism, political correctness, immigration and judicial systems and, the biggest question of all, asking "What kind of people are we?"

Neither Americans nor Canadians want to lose what they are. We're both just trying to clarify matters a little. Most Americans might reply that we are the same, only more so.

I don't know the answers for Canadians, but I am pretty sure that it will be "Made In Canada" and maybe, finally, it won't be prefaced with "unlike Americans" because it needn't be.

You are all so much better than you realize. There is so much heart and courage in you, and anyone who doubts that should take an honest look at how Canadians play and love hockey, because it's all there: holding the line, heads-up gamesmanship, fierce competitiveness, endurance, taking it to the boards, and never quitting. If Mario Lemieux gets cross-checked, you just know that some gloves will be coming off.

Is it really a surprise that the usual "Canadians aren't flag wavers" mantra is always discarded for Olympic and World Cup hockey events? I think not!

My kids were born and raised in Canada, and my dearest wish for them is to love and revere this wonderful country. That is my wish for all Canadians, because you deserve no less.

Posted by Debbye at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2003

Americans wake up

Sept. 19 - Americans are beginning to wake up. Far too many of us have accepted the judgement that, unlike other nations, the USA alone pursues policies that are advantageous to her and her people.

Americans are beginning to realize that, although we and our governments are far from perfect, we are certainly not alone in the pursuit of self-interest but may be unique in that we are not only aware of our shortcomings but even discuss them publicly.

We've gone from accepting the scolding of imaginary "international community" and have begun to see the UN for what it is: a bureaucratic organization where the majority of the members don't even pretend to respect human rights yet think they have moral authority to lecture and dictate to us.

This is an organization in which Libya can chair -- without intentional irony -- the UN Human Rights Committee and that committee can strip Reporters Without Borders of observer status because they held a peaceful demonstration which protested the naming of Libya as chair of that committee.

Further, the UN found itself unable to rise to the challenge Saddam posed as expressed in Pres. Bush's speech to the UN in September, 2002, that it assert its mandate and finally confront Saddam:

Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced or cast aside without consequence?

Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding or will it be irrelevant?

The French have probably done the most to erode American idealism about the UN. Their threats of exercising their veto not only over pre- and post-war Iraq but also to removing the sanctions on Libya over the Lockerbie bombing unless they received additional money from Libya above their previous settlement for a different bombing raised even more questions about the actual purpose as well as integrity of the UN.

Thanks to The Canukistanian for sending me this WSJ Opinion Journal link Do You Feel Lucky, Paris? by Daniel Henninger.

A recent Gallup poll confirms some of the changes that many of us hoped for: Sept. 11 finally got a lot of Americans to wake up and look a bit closer at the true state of the world, and they have drawn their conclusions. (Follow the link for the statistics; the UN's approval rating has dropped significantly.)

A few excerpts from the Opinion Journal article:

Shortly after the [Iraq] war was over, a high official from France's Parliament visited our offices hoping to let bygones be bygones. He said we were all joined in the war on terror and that our countries' long-term interests coincided. He was visiting American editorial boards and going to Washington to see key members of Congress in the belief that if he could convince these influential people--the U.S. networking equivalent of les grandes ecoles--Franco-American relations would revive.

Whereupon he was told: "Sir, there is really not much that we or the members of Congress can do for you. France's problems now are not with America's policy makers but with America's comedians." [Their emphasis]

Nope, no gag order for Jay Leno. And one has to wonder what on earth the French thought their strategy would accomplish except to provide more material for the comedians.

One result of the list the French circulated purporting to prove that they were being slandered was for journalists to point out those articles (usually by themselves) which had been left off and to write even more in hopes of being included on that list. This was a fairly predictable reaction, but I have to wonder: do the French really understand so little about us?

And then there's this:

Well before Iraq, one of the elite criticisms of the U.S., heard mostly in Europe and in the American academy, has been that the U.S. is compulsively trying to "impose its values" on the rest of the world. . . But from Germany and Japan after World War II and on up to Kosovo, Afghanistan and now Iraq, I am aware of only one "value" America has tried to impose and it's not Mickey Mouse. It is democracy, or at a minimum, liberty.
The one place the US maintained troops against the wishes of the people is South Korea, or at least they objected until we actually began to withdraw. Go figure.

But one thing is clear: Americans are seeing the UN and its institutions as if for the first time, and they are shaking off an undeserved legacy of shame and humiliation. We have chosen the option to continue to work to improve ourselves and our country and yes, even the world, but it will be about the things we care about and in the ways we think will work. That is not going to include enriching the coffers of the renowned tyrants and butchers. Those days are over.

We are also seeing Europe differently and now realize that, contrary to their belief, Belguim and France do not speak for all of Europe. There's some new kids in town, and they are not only newer but stronger in their support of democratic institutions and human rights because they had been deprived of them for so long.

(I'm not going to explain the Dirty Harry reference in the title; read the entire article.)

I think the knock-out punch to the UN could come if a free Iraq were to demand an accounting from those who ran the UN Oil-For-Food program and and an explanation not only for the palace trappings but for the weapons and military equipment that the Russians, French, Chinese and, to a lesser degree, Germany imported as food and medicine. And, less we forget, Kofi Annan signed off on all the invoices in the program.

The UN Security Council lost more credibility when Def. Secy. Rumsfeld confirmed that US military forces had turned off the pipeline that was shipping Iraqi oil illegally to UNSC member Syria. By the way, does Syria occupy Lebanon with UN approval? Of course not. Does the UN care? Riiiight.

Information about the workings of the UN, which had never exactly been concealed, is beginning to achieve a prominence that should make wiser UN members a bit nervous. It may take awhile, but the US electorate does have the power to turn off the money taps to the UN which would pretty much spell the end of that institution because the other members are unwilling to support it financially. Even the prospect of moving it to Toronto was dropped when Toronto Mayor Lastman pointed out that it should be done only if the Canadian government was willing to underwrite all expenses.

TotalFinaElf, the Oil-For-Food program with UN oversight (and a 2.2% commission for the UN for that oversight), pre-war sweetheart contracts with Saddam on untapped oil fields by France, Russia and China, and failure to take action that would have forced Saddam to comply with UN resolutions seem to point to some pretty damning complicity, but the Bush administration has not exploited that information yet (although the information has appeared in both the NY Times (linked above) and Canada's Financial Post in a column by Diane Francis (FP link is dead.)

Canada's credibility has been damaged by its connection to the oil company TotalFinaElf. A sizeable oil exploration contract with Iraq was obtained when Saddam was in power by TotalFinaElf, and the majority shareholder in that company is Montreal's Paul Desmarais, whose youngest son, Andre, is married to Chretien's daughter, France. Desmarais has connections to Paul Martin, former Mulroney cabinet ministers and even former Ontario premier and NDP leader Bob Rae. And Chretien's nephew Raymond is Canada's ambassador to France. (Canadians might be very surprised if they read the linked article about Mr. Desmarais and his associates.)

You see, it wasn't the war in Iraq that was "all about oil", it was the opposition to the war that was about oil. Coming to terms with that is going to further lessen the influence of the UN on the United States.

Posted by Debbye at 07:19 PM | Comments (2)

July 19, 2003

"Freedom of the press" and "unnamed sources"

July 19 - "Freedom of the press" has long been interpreted to include the right of reporters to protect their sources. In turn, the public has to trust that there really is a source that has leaked sensitive material to a reporter, and, since Jayson Blair of the NY Times is only the latest in a series of reporters who have fabricated sources and stories, we are in a dilemma when it comes to trusting reports based on "unnamed officials".

In other words, "unnamed officials" is sometimes journalistic code for "I made it up."

I also try to remember that there is more than one possible explanation and that it is wise to wait until the facts are in before I jump to any conclusions. But, oh the temptation . . .

My desire to remain open-minded is further offset by my tendency to evaluate who benefits the most from sensationalist headlines and aim my suspicions accordingly (sort of a political application of "follow the money").

Having said all that, it appears to me that the BBC, the Conservative Party (UK), and the anti-war leftists have everything to gain by making Dr. David Kelly's death look as though he was either hounded to commit suicide or outright murdered by shadowy government officials. (I have yet to see the last in print, but I trust the Idiotarians to be, well, idiotic.) As all of them, but especially the BBC, gain politically from Dr. Kelly's death, I don't believe that they are going to keep open minds but that they will exploit this to an absurd degree.

I am already sure of a few things. The Tories in the UK are as stupid as the Tories in Canada, and may even be stupider than the Democrats in the USA. The UK Tories have everything to gain by forcing the BBC to be more accountable (as the Tories are often maligned by the BBC) but, like their Loyal Opposition counterparts in North America, they take the simple-minded approach of being the Opposition. That's opportunism, not leadership.

According to the CNN webpage report UK police confirm expert's death, UK PM Tony Blair was asked if Dr. Kelly's death was "in some way on your conscience", if government officials would be asked for their resignations, and at the conference's end a journalist shouted "Have you got blood on your hands prime minister? Are you going to resign?"

I think I am entitled to doubt both the objectivity and integrity of journalists so ready to implicate PM Blair's government in the tragic death of Dr. Kelly so my Skepto-meter needle is already in the red zone as I read reports on this matter.

Even though I enjoy reading the Daily Telegraph (UK), I don't forget that they tend to support the Conservtive Party. As for CNN, I don't know for a fact if they support the Dems but I do know that, with a few exceptions like Lou Dobbs and Jack Cafferty, they are deeply stupid.

On to the feeding frenzy:

>From the Daily Telegraph (UK) report (even the title is not objective!) Death of the dossier fall guy:

Tony Blair was plunged into the biggest crisis of his premiership last night after a leading Ministry of Defence adviser who became caught up in No 10's vitriolic battle with the BBC was found dead in woodland near his Oxfordshire home.

Dr David Kelly had been named as the likely source of the BBC allegation that the Government "sexed up" intelligence reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

His suspected suicide shocked Westminster and Whitehall as the Government faced up to the prospect that Dr Kelly could have been driven to his death by the attempts to identify him as the mole.

If they felt responsible, where is the quote that would support that contention? Could he have felt guilty for speaking out of school and causing such an uproar? After all, that's another possible explanation and, as there's no mention of a note, it's going to be easy to make a lot of assertions that are speculation rather than fact.

This article is from the same paper MoD official was not main source of Iraqi dossier story, says MPs filed July 16 which explains Dr. Kelly's involvement in this investigation and tends to exclude him as the leak:

They [the MoD] believe that identifying him will show that the BBC's story was unreliable, because Dr Kelly was not senior enough to have first-hand knowledge of how the final draft of the dossier was compiled.
That the MoD believes that identifying him will cast doubt on the BBC story is outright conjecture, not fact. What is a fact is that when anyone in the Ministry (or Department) of Defense of any country leaks information, that leak must be tracked and stopped. Some of the documents retrived in Iraq strongly implicated journalists and news agencies as being on Saddam's payroll [as opposed to paying bribes to stay in Iraq] as well as at least one Labour MP, George Galloway. PLUGGING THAT LEAK is of primary importance to security.

We engaged in a war against terrorism. I know that this isn't an everyday reality for a lot of people, but it is a truth that we mustn't forget. Terrorist's chief weapons are fear and surprise; our chief weapon is gathering intelligence from all departments and trying to connect dots. Loose lips sink battleships, etc.

Although Dr Kelly contributed to the document, he only wrote the historical sections, not the material based on up-to-date intelligence. Yesterday Dr Kelly told the committee that he confessed to his MoD bosses that he had met Gilligan because he thought he might have "contributed" to the story.
Gilligan is the BBC reporter who made serious charges against the veracity of PM Blair's case for the war on Iraq.
In particular, Gilligan said his source had told him that there was a 30 per cent probability of Iraq possessing chemical weapons. Dr Kelly said that was "the sort of thing" he might have said.

Gilligan said he was told by his contact that Alastair Campbell was to blame for the fact that the controversial claim that Iraq could deploy WMD in 45 minutes was inserted at the last minute. Mr Campbell, the Prime Minister's communications chief, strongly denies this.

Dr Kelly told MPs he discussed Mr Campbell's name with the journalist but, when Gilligan's exact words were put to him, he said: "I cannot recall using it in that context. It does not sound like anything I would say."

Although Dr Kelly was at times evasive, he insisted that he did not believe he was the "main source" of the BBC story.

He was more decisive when Richard Ottaway, a Tory, put it to him that he could not be the central source because he did not know that the 45-minute allegation was included late or that it came from a single source. "Correct," Dr Kelly replied. (Emphasis added)

It will be interesting how the independent investigation is reported by the international media. Or should I say predictable?

Posted by Debbye at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2003

Influence of the American left on Canada

July 10 - The Canadian has been investigating the sorry state of the educational system in Canada and how the values being taught in schools are in contradition to traditional ones. He writes: "For over 40 years students have been hearing a left wing philosophy in this country that goes clear back to the Vietnam War and a 'stampeding herd' of pony-tailed Liberal 'profs' that thundered north to Canada rather than serve their country."

I'm not sure how accurate that is, but I'm not going to be too quick to dismiss it either. I moved here in 1974 to marry a Canadian so my relocation wasn't a rejection of the USA and I have no insight on those who came here for other reasons. I might be able to see it better if I knew during which years this migration peaked and how many came here.

I would tend to think that the drift to the left occurred much earlier than the 60's. The Soviet Union gained legitimacy when they became our allies during WWII. The crimes of Stalin were either ignored or went unreported because outwardly, at least, we (the Allies) downplayed our distrust of them in order to defeat Hitler. It was a hateful, necessary policy, and I think it a source of regret for many Western countries because the Eastern bloc countries paid the true price.

Skip forward to 1968 when Trudeau was in office. (Note please that Trudeau was in office so something must have already happened on the Canadian political scene.)

A lot happened in the world that year. Sen. Eugene McCarthy, a moderate peace candidate, did surprisingly well in the New Hampshire primaries. A very tired LBJ announced he wouldn't seek re-election. There was the Prague Spring and Dr. King was murdered. There was riots, and my high school in Berkeley, CA, walked out en masse the following day because if the Bd. Of Education wouldn't cancel classes we would. The 1968 Civil Rights Bill was finally passed (of added significance because Title VII outlawed discrimination against women but added a new charge, conspiracy, to those who traveled across state lines with the purpose of causing a riot intended, by the way, to be used as a tool against the KKK and their ilk.) There was the Tet offensive and a Jordanian who didn't like Robert F. Kennedy's stance on Israel murdered him. There were demonstrations in Paris over the peace talks between the US and North Vietnam. The student demonstrations in Paris led to a General Strike in France. The 1968 Olympics in Mexico City took place just after some violent demonstrations there, and the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia. The Democratic Party convention was held in the midst of rioting by, among others, anti-war activists, Yippies and Bobby Seale (of the Black Panthers.) There were student uprisings in Germany, Italy and Japan. In Canada there were massive anti-war demonstrations too (far smaller than the ones held to protest the Iraq War). It seemed as though the entire world was on fire except for Russia and China. (In retrospect, I should have thought about that more, but I didn't.)

I may have some of the events in the wrong order because the memories are gushing out. Even now as I read it I find it inconceivable that so much happened in the space of only one year, and I suspect I forgot a few things.

In some respects, Americans encountered her first major case of self-hatred that year most especially because two beloved and highly respected men were slain. We asked ourselves what kind of people we were that our heroes could be cut down like that. Grim anger set in, and there were no answers or light to guide us. Nixon vs. Humphrey? It was easy to explore alternative politics and many of us did.

How did each of those events impact, if at all, in Canada?

I guess all countries have reactions to events that they can't really share with outsiders (no offense). None of you will ever be able to understand how I feel about Dr. King's death. You may empathize, but that is light years away from deep-to-the bone knowing.

Now, by the same token, I will never be able to fully appreciate the shock and impact on Canadians triggered by the events in Quebec in 1970. I had lived under martial law a few times in Berkeley but I found it inconceivable that, up here, the entire country was placed under martial law. I remember reading about the FLQ and what happened up here, but it is not a part of my emotional memory.

But I don't think that those events in Quebec can be blamed on imported American subversives. I think you have to accept it as Canada's alone, and even if you blame De Gaulle you must allow that the ground was fertile.

The Canadian also states his belief that "Something really nasty is going on south of the border. It started when Chretien and his gang thumbed their collective noses at Bush and the USA (shades of those "feet get thee gone" profs that buggered off 40 years ago). NOW it is beginning to sink in as the Canadian cattle industry is in tatters, the softwood lumber file has become a disaster - and we hear today that our defence industry contributions are under the gun.

I don't believe that the problems with the softwood and cattle industries are entirely the result of the Liberal government's attitude to Washington but probably more due to protectionist lobbies in the US and a bureaucracy that is ponderous and weighed down with regulatory procedures that Canadians are all too familiar with up here. Separation of powers makes the President far less powerful than many Canadians realize.

As for the defense industry contracts, I am totally with the US Congress on this one. It comes down to one very simple fact: The US-based industries in the US are under the watch of the FBI and they are responsible to Congress. We are at war, and concerns about industrial sabotage and spying are on high alert for obvious security reasons.

Production facilities in Canada are under the watch of the RCMP and they are responsible to Parliament (or to the Minister assigned to that portfolio, I guess). The findings of the The MacKenzie Institute (if the report still isn't on their website, link to the National Post article) make it clear that terrorists are operating openly in Canada and that the Federal government is reluctant to shut them down. I regret the loss of Canadian jobs can't sanction endangering American lives to safeguard Canadian jobs.

The point is that this is not being done in revenge for Canada's refusal to join the US in Iraq or the rudeness of Canadian officials.

Please believe that Americans remember Canada's honourable role during the 1979 takover of our embassy in Tehran. We remember the down-home goodness of Newfoundlanders on Sept. 11. There may be some hurt feelings right now but there is not the degree of outrage that we feel toward the cough*French*cough and although many wonder what is going on up here most are content to let bygones be bygones.

Posted by Debbye at 01:44 PM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2003

Misunderstanding Americans

July 6 - It still amazes me how little the rest of world understands how angry Americans still are. It's easy to turn that into a complaint that they don't respect us, but I think it is closer to the mark to say that they don't understand the nature of a free people. They watch our (shudder) television shows and wear our baseball hats, but they don't understand the demands that living in a country with an armed citizenry makes on her citizens.

Our inherent right to bear arms places an incredibly deep obligation upon us. The defense of our country and our liberties is the duty of every citizen. We are a standing army. We are a thinking, standing army, and we have high expectations of ourselves and our government.

The rest of the world has got to try to understand that people who know they have the right to bear arms also know that they have the right and the means to defend themselves. That means we can refuse to be afraid.

We simply do not consider submission to the tyranny of terrorism an option.

It was an eye-opener to finally grasp that they don't get the depth of our hatred of terrorism because there is a values-gap. It offends our sense of values that some slimy bastard (or bitch) would deliberately target kids at a rock concert or people in a pizza parlour. It offends our belief that all men and women are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We hold those values as dearly as we hold our guns, and for the same reason. Because we believe in living boldly and with dignity.

Americans aren't dumb nor are we uneducated. We express ourselves in simple terms because we have the ability to cut through nonsense to see things with clarity and we have too much self-respect to engage in needless obfuscation. We feel that if you must obscure what you want to say, then give the world a break and shut up.

It is true. I never got James Joyce.

I know that the big problem is simply a lack of communication but usually it's because they don't listen to what we are saying but tend to hear what they think we are saying. They could just pay attention to the words we speak and write, but nooo, they simply must try to analyze and deconstruct. Fools.

President Bush said it best when he pointed out that we can disagree without being disagreeable. Of course, that would require having issue-based discussions, and that hasn't gone too well even back home.

So I admit it. I am at a point where it's hard to care if the rest of the world understand us. I try to be civil and use the soothing conversation-ender "we'll have to agree to disagree" but inside I'm just dismissing them because I've said what I have to say and others can take it or leave it.

But I can't not care. I live in Canada, and I feel I owe it to this wonderful country to keep trying to find common ground not because of the ubiquitous "keeping the border open for trade" but because we really are brothers and sisters, both descendent of Mother England along with Australia, New Zealand and other countries in the Commonwealth.

That of course brings up the whole sticky thing with Quebec, but I want to keep it civil and my solutions would be, um, not civil.

Posted by Debbye at 01:27 AM | Comments (0)