June 23, 2006

Terror Watch

June 23 - CTV reports that Saudi Arabia shootout kills 6 'militants' (another was arrested) after security forces "stormed a suspected al Qaeda hide-out":

One policeman was also killed in the clashes, it said.

The statement, carried by the official Saudi news agency, said security forces chased seven members with "deviant thoughts" who "belong to the astray bunch" to a house in Riyadh's al-Nakheel district. The Saudi government often refers to al Qaeda members as individuals with "deviant thoughts."

The house was "a hideout for crime, corruption, and a base for the plots of aggression and outrage," the statement said.

Why do the pronouncements from these guys always make me groan as much as did those incessant quotes from Chairman Mao's Red Book back in the day?

June 24 - 19:01 CTV reports that 17 were wounded in the attack and over 40 suspects have been arrested in sweeps after the raid.

Maybe the Saudis were feeling a bit left out what with all the arrests in Toronto, Britain, heavy action in Afghanistan and the recent U.S. arrests of 7 plotters:

Five of the suspects were arrested Thursday in Miami, after authorities swarmed a warehouse in Miami's poor Liberty City area, a federal law enforcement official said.

One person was arrested in Atlanta on Thursday, and another person was arrested before yesterday, according to CNN. (Bolding added)

(That last sentence made me giggle because I was expected a place, not a date, but it can't be that funny if I have to explain it.)

Most of the chatter on Fox is actually worth listening to because they are doing a great job of speculating about things that can only make wanna-be terrorists nervous -- like the rumour that the head of the terror cell was an FBI agent.

Our guys in Iraq continue to rack 'em up: on Monday a senior Al Qaeda operative and 3 others were detained (no names released.)

Sorry, I shouldn't be happy. I should be sombre, and Weighted With The Enormity Of It All, but I'm not. Maybe it's because it's Friday, maybe it's because we ducked another bullet, but more likely it's because Ace is hot on the story:

You will not be surprised that the "timing" of these "arrests" of "terrorists" is being "questioned."
His link to Allah is, as always, beyond funny.

Here's your CanCon and a return to seriousness: when I read the CNN headline (on the World page) "Rights boss: Stop terror abuse" I actually thought ... but no, alas, it was just

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, taking aim at the war on terrorism, reminded all states on Friday of their duty to ban torture and give all security detainees a fair trial.

In a speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Arbour also voiced concern at the alleged existence of secret detention centres, saying they facilitate abusive treatment.

Although she mentioned no names, her remarks were clearly aimed at the United States and its allies in their "war on terror" launched after the September 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in 2001.

"It is vital that at all times governments anchor in law their response to terrorism," Arbour told the 47-member state body ahead of the U.N.'s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, being observed next Monday. (bolding added)

Your timing sucks, bitch. Consider

The torture and murders of two soldiers who, by all legal definitions, qualified for protection under the Geneva Convention: Private Thomas Tucker and Private Kristian Menchaca.

A government worthy of condemnation: Sudanese militias kill hundreds in Chad
Car bomb in Philippine market place kill 5, wounds 10 in a probable attempt to kill the governor of the southern province;
Tamil Tigers Caught Laying Sea Mines:

A POWERFUL explosion occurred off the coast north of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo today, with police saying it was probably a sea mine planted last week by Tamil Tiger rebels.

The explosion was heard about 15km from Colombo, near the site where police on Saturday arrested five Tigers in diving gear who were laying sea mines, Sri Lanka's police chief Chandra Fernando said.

"There are no reports of casualties. We are investigating," Fernando said.

"Last week we had information that there were eight sea mines. Seven were accounted for but we had not found one. The blast today is probably that mine."

Officials said sea mines were similar to limpet mines but magnetically attached to a ship's hull and could be triggered to explode by a time-delay fuse or by remote control.

One of the five arrested divers had swallowed cyanide and committed suicide to prevent being questioned, and another two who took cyanide were taken to hospital.

The terror attack links are in fact relevant to Arbour's admonition to "governments" as these terror attacks were undertaken by groups that intend to take state power. This one, howerver isn't because it relates to a man who, pre-Spider Hole, actually held state power and lied to the U.N.: Hundreds of WMDs found in Iraq.

And the NY Times continues their normal job of assisting the terrorists by revealing a clandestine program intended to follow the money:

WASHINGTON, June 22 — Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

Data provided by the program helped identify Uzair Paracha, a Brooklyn man who was convicted on terrorism-related charges in 2005, officials said.
The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas and into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database.

Viewed by the Bush administration as a vital tool, the program has played a hidden role in domestic and foreign terrorism investigations since 2001 and helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia, the officials said.

I wonder if they are referring to Hambali. who provided the money, or to Canadian Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, who paid the bombers directly for the Bali bombing. *
The program, run out of the Central Intelligence Agency and overseen by the Treasury Department, "has provided us with a unique and powerful window into the operations of terrorist networks and is, without doubt, a legal and proper use of our authorities," Stuart Levey, an under secretary at the Treasury Department, said in an interview on Thursday.
Maybe liberals are so shrill about the rights of terrorist because they also enable terrorists.

(Louise Arbour is a Canadian, if that needed clarification.)

*09:46 - FoxNews TV says it was probably Hambali.

12:23 - Newsbeat1 has a nice list of terrorists killed or captured since Zarqawi's death.

Posted by Debbye at 08:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 21, 2006

Privates Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca

June 21 - It was probably as well that I couldn't post this morning. I'm no less angry this evening, but the best steel is tempered and going white-hot in the moment diverts us from the aims of the war.

Anyone who, after Sept. 11, still believed we were dealing with a rational enemy, should have been disabused of that notion after the kidnapping and execution of Daniel Pearl. The video-raped beheading of Nick Berg and the triumphant circulation of that vicious act on the internet was yet another blow to individuals who, and I say this with respect, wanted peace instead of war.

Who the hell doesn’t prefer peace? But when the cost of peace means turning Iraqis and Afghans (and that's just for starters) over to the kind of monsters that murdered Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, and countless others, then excuse me for a second so I can grab my gun compose myself.

Bless today's uncompromising New York Post editorial (may require free registration) Barbarians

Thuggish, depraved butchers - that's what America is up against.
And John Podhoretz, who cautions that this latest barbarity may exploit our divisions and alter not only our strategy but also our principles:
But the kidnapping and apparent torture/murder of Privates Tucker and Menchaca may represent a new strategy. If similar kidnap efforts are successful, if this event was not a fluke but an ambitious new tactic to throw Coalition forces off-balance, then things are going to change in Iraq.

Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq likely hopes to make service personnel believe themselves at risk of death by torture from any band of Iraqis they encounter - so that they'll act differently: cautious, suspicious, with the hypervigilance of someone in the midst of a battle. If it works, civilians who mean our armed forces no harm may find themselves shot or killed by mistake as a result of the hair-trigger posture our forces will have to assume to keep themselves safe.

Could anyone blame them?

The answer, of course, is yes. If this is a new strategy, it exists not only to terrorize American and Coalition forces but also to divide them from Iraqis - to sow fear and hostility that will go both ways, to cause an upsurge in resentment and anger toward U.S. forces.

Our soldiers already know this.

There is a further reason for cooler heads to prevail. I think it likely that this recent barbarity was an al Qaeda public relations stunt intended to shift focus from brutalizing Iraqis back to brutalizing coalition forces.

Al Qaeda's recruitment posters proclaim "Kill Americans, See the World." Their Iraq chapter has graphically demonstrated that they are returning to that basic theme in an effort to restore their reputations after Zarqawi's indiscriminate murder of Muslims revealed too much about the true nature of al Qaeda.

This isn't the first time we've been outrageously provoked (remember the bridge in Fallujah?) and it likely won't be the last, but we are not children, we are not to be diverted, and we will pursue this war to victory.

19:38 - Bombing an ice cream shop? Not exactly a high-value target, unless you are targeting kill civilians (or children.) The so-called insurgency is all about bloodletting, not politics. No matter their banner, all the anti-Iraqi forces have been unmasked and I think Zarqawi's legacy will be impossible for any of them to overcome.

20:00 - The Boston Herald drives home the point that the Silence deafening when U.S. is torture target (via Newsbeat1.)

Of course, torture is wrong yet if the inmates at Gitmo don't like rock music we can always alter our tactics. How about playing them some Gershwin? or Bernstein? Some Tiny Tim would be nice, but that's probably going too far.

Posted by Debbye at 09:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 18, 2006

Rules? In a knife fight?

June 18 - Comments are down to deflect spam attacks yet I am serene: the guy at my internet provider maybe managed to fix whatever was keeping me from mu.nu sites (and I hope I didn't just jinx all his efforts.)

This past week in Washington has been breathtaking if only for sheer insipidity. Of course I'm not saying that the renewed focus on Iraq is intended to distract us from dealing with border control and immigration issues (which are, despite Senatorial efforts to combine the two, entirely different problems) but I don't know if I should be angry, amused, or resigned when I hear a Democrat Congressman say that Zarqawi came to Iraq after the U.S. army. (I heard it on Fox, I don't remember the idiot's name, and my forgiving nature is more due to the fact that I am really bad at names than charity or forebearance in my nature.)

Now, I'm just a normal U.S. citizen who tried to exorcise my desire for revenge after Sept. 11 and examine the various suggestions as to how to best deal with the threat to my country without yielding to blood lust. I spent more time than my family liked reading various opinions and following the news (on the other hand, being glued to internet pages at least kept me quiet, so my family sensibly considered it an even trade.)

When then Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the U.N. back in 2003, I watched it on CNN and then read the speech on the internet. I had never heard the name Zarqawi prior to that address nor had I known that an al Qaeda terror camp specialising in chemical weaponry operated in northern Iraq but I did know, because it was widely publicized at the time, that Saddam Hussein had increased the cash award to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers to $25,000. That, for me, was sufficient evidence that Iraq under Saddam funded terrorism and the confirmed link to al Qaeda that Powell offered was additional, not primary, proof that we needed to deal with Saddam and end his support to terrorists. (If I haven't made it clear a sufficiently tiresome number of times already, I consider terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians to be acts of terrorism.)

Now I don't know why someone elected to national office who presumably considers himself to be sufficiently informed so as to speak to the issue on national television (much less vote in the House) didn't know that Zarqawi was operating out of Iraq long before we invaded. I am willing to assume that he is ignorant rather than mendacious (as in by her excuse she damned him.)

One significant point in Powell's speech that provided a key point of clarity was the term "nexus of terrorism" -- a phrase and comprehension that I believe seperates those of us who demand victory in the war on terror and understand that the limits by which many would constrain us also separate us from those who aspire merely for a stalemate.

Quo vadis?

I watched the movie Network tonight with several terrific people (sadly I worked last night and didn't wake up early enough to meet or hear the iconic Darcy and friends) and, although I had seen the movie before, the issues it raised were extremely disturbing even thirty years after it was made.

I find I have been stymied in my writing because I'm tired of reitering the same arguments -- yet I also recognize that we are losing the edge we need to fight this war because that which we call the MSM is truly meant to entertain than to inform.

Ain't the blogosphere grand? I didn't even have time to dwell on this before I read Gerard's terrific post "RULES? IN A KNIFE FIGHT?": Redrafting the Rules of Engagement in the First Terrorist War which crystallized much of my irritation with how ridiculously far we are going to accomodate the enemy even as we fail to assert that our goal is victory and to do what it takes to win.

Victory, people. Not a stalemate, a draw, or defining a new line of engagement. Total, complete, annhilatory victory. Read the whole thing.

Bottom line: if loudly playing hip-hop music is "torture" then many parents of teenagers can now seek recourse in the courts. (Needless to say, if it is rock music the kids are blasting out then some of us parents have the consolation of knowing our kids have good taste.)

Hell, I'm doing what I've done too often: making a stupid joke to obscure how furious I really am.

Let's put it on a personal level: suppose your child is missing. Suppose you have very good reason to believe your child's life is in danger. Suppose some bastard knows where your child is and the identity of the person(s) threatening said child.

What would you do? And how moral are we be if we wouldn't do exactly the same for any child? And how quickly have some forgotten that, on Sept. 11, aboard AA Flight 77, students, i.e, children were flying to LA for a National Geographic conference?

There are things about which I am intractable. Anyone who can look into the eyes of a child yet not be swayed from murderous intent is a monster, and we slay monsters, not coddle them much less want to understand them.

If we aren't willing to defend our children then we are useless and need not concede defeat becuase we have already been defeated. It's really as simple as that.

Posted by Debbye at 01:22 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006

Old Glory

US flag waving2.jpg

You're a grand old flag,
You're a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev'ry heart beats true
'neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there's never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

Music and lyrics by George M. Cohan

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

June 08, 2006

Zarqawi is Dead. Dead. Dead. (Updated)

July 8 - (Updating continuously and time stamp intentionally keeps this on top.)

06:29 - The no-good, m-f'ing, murderous pscyopath is dead: Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi Killed in Bombing Raid. I wonder how he likes it in Hell?

My son called me at work at 4 a.m. this morning and said "You want to hear some good news?" Heh. I hope my, um, enthusiastic response doesn't get me fired. The downer: I told the other people, and none of them knew him by name and I had to list some of his crimes.

And it looks as though they used my fav-ou-rite weapon: Predator and Hellfire.

This is huge, and I mean huger than capturing Saddam Hussein or killing Udai and Kusai, and in terms of the immediate strategy for Iraq, this may well be the turning point. More later, perhaps, when I settle down.

One last word: I can never think of Zarqawi without thinking of Nick Berg. Well, he has been avenged at long last. Rest in Peace, Nick, and all those who fell victim to that monster.

07:32 - I'm still blushing over the language that I used when I first heard the news. I so need to wash my mouth out with soap.

How wonderful and appropriate that Iraqi police made the identification! He has orchestrated the murders of so many of them -- as well as those who stood in lines to join the police (and army) -- that I can easily imagine their grim satisfaction that a vicious foe has been "eliminated."

Pres. Bush is speaking on this, and although he is far more cautiously optimistic than I, I do echo his closing: God Bless the Iraqi People, and God Bless America.

Okay, so now U.S. officials are being cautious. Lord give me strength: I was not convinced that capturing Saddam was going to stifle the insurgency but they thought such was the case however, as I stated at the outset, I think this is bigger than they are saying (maybe because their own optimism has led them astray before? They really need to read more blogs.)

Now Dan Senor is speaking, and he is hitting the nail on the head: this latest instance of "blasting the bastard to Kingdom Come" shows that it take time and patience, but the days of people like Zarwawi are numbered.

I haven't heard anyone say it yet but I just know some wanker is going to try to throw cold water on this and prattle "but Bin Laden is still loose" to which I will pre-emptively respond "what's your point?" I don't care about Bin Laden, I want the strategists and the architects of terror like Zarqawi and al-Zawahiri. I want bin Laden to watch helplessly as his followers fall one by one because more and more people choose to stand up to those who try to rule them by terror, and finally for him to die a lonely, disillusioned man with only bitter dreams of glory to comfort him. I want him to know utter despair before he dies.

8:03 - Rats. Not Predator/Hellfire. Oh well, he's still dead.

08:09 - Australian PM John Howard is more enthusiastic:

"The reported death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is great news for the people of Iraq, the real victims of his murderous behaviour," he said.

"He has been the principal architect of terrorism in that country.

"Not only does his death remove a cruel terrorist, but it's also a huge boost for anti-terrorist forces in Iraq."

The Prime Minister said the Iraqi Government's determination to destroy terrorism should be supported.

"The determination of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, and his new Government to confront terrorism and the insurgency is something that everyone should support," he said.

I love that guy.

Tony Blair was concise as always:

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said al-Zarqawi's death "was very good news because a blow against al Qaeda in Iraq was a blow against al Qaeda everywhere."
Properly his words should be up on the BBC website but I couldn't find his comments there and I haven't seen any comments yet from Canadian PM Harper. The CTV does quote "terrorism expert" Eric Margolis, though, at that link. They just can't help themselves.

08:39 - Michael Yon's post is aptly titled Death Finds the Devil's Second Most Favored Serpent and concludes:

His death will not likely fracture the terror campaign in Iraq because of the disparity of the insurgency itself, comprised of many distinct and disjointed elements, not all of whom were following al-Zarqawi.

Nevertheless, this is an important victory in the GWOT showing that persistent effort can and will produce definitive results. But al-Zarqawi was largely a media-produced terror hero, now that he is gone, let us not produce another.

08:47 - In the press briefing, Caldwell is calling the information collected at the site "a treasure trove" and confirming that they were 100% convinced they were hitting Zarqawi at the "safe house." Heh. Another humourous concept is that Zarqawi's "spiritual advisor" was also killed.

I may as well admit it: I really, really wish that the kill had gone to the Iraqis. It would have been appropriate given how many of them he has killed as well as a tremendous confidence booster for the police and army. Again, though, I think that being the ones to identify his body parts was a great source of satisfaction.

The press briefing showed Zarqawi's head. Of course there was no intentional irony.

zarqawi_dead.jpg
One dead Zarqawi
Courtesy of FoxNews.

11:47 - A good round-up of reactions here at Pajama's Media (link via Newsbeat1.)

I want to extend a hearty congratulations to the people of Iraq, who have endured more than their share of monsters. This may not be the end of their road but I hope this represents a significant turning point for them.

I need to get some sleep, and it occurs to me that a great many mothers in Iraq are settling their kids down for bed about now. None of us can predict what tomorrow will bring, but is it really too much to hope that tonight, if only this night, all of Iraq's children can sleep without fear?

Posted by Debbye at 02:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Streisand Returns - Again.

June 8 - How can we miss her if she won't stay away? Streisand announces yet another stupid concert tour.

Posted by Debbye at 10:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That bad, bad Ann Coulter

June 8 - Ann Coulter has caused a big brou-ha-ha (that's news?) over calling 9/11 widows "witches".

That was so wrong. She should have shown them the same level of respect as Mark Steyn and referred to them as "the sob sisters."

Posted by Debbye at 08:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 01, 2006

Peggy Noonan on a Third Party

June 1 - Peggy Noonan speculates about something that many of us have been thinking about: the need for a third political party.

Partisanship is fine when it's an expression of the high animal spirits produced by real political contention based on true political belief. But the current partisanship seems sour, not joyous. The partisanship has gotten deeper as less separates the governing parties in Washington. It is like what has been said of academic infighting: that it's so vicious because the stakes are so low.

The problem is not that the two parties are polarized. In many ways they're closer than ever. The problem is that the parties in Washington, and the people on the ground in America, are polarized. ..

Posted by Debbye at 06:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 31, 2006

Jimmy's funding

May 31 - Jimmy Carter has some explaining to do. Judi McLeod of Canada Free Press reveals that the Censure Carter Committee has uncovered a paper trail which, it is alleged, traces funds from the Saudi Bin Laden Group to Carter.

From The film the world never viewed: Fahrenheit Jimmy Carter:

A paper trail shows that more than $1 million has been funneled from Bakr M. Bin Laden on behalf of the Saudi Bin Laden Group to The Carter Center.

[...]

"An investigation by the Censure Carter Committee into the financing for The Carter Center of Atlanta, Georgia founded by President Carter and his wife to advance his "Blame America First" policies reveals that over $1,000,000 has been funneled from Bakr M. Bin Laden for the Saudi Bin Laden Group to the Carter Center," says Censure Carter.Com in a mainstream media-ignored recent media release.

"In fact, an online report accuses former President Carter of meeting with 10 of Osama Bin Laden’s brothers early in 2000, Carter and his wife, Rosalyn followed up their meeting with a breakfast with Bakr Bin Laden in September 2000 and secured the first $200,000 towards the more than $1 million that has been received by the Carter Center."

The group lists a number of allegations here and it makes for some extremely uncomfortable reading.

I think there is a general assumption that Jimmy Carter lost his mind after the Tehran Embassy takeover and doomed rescue attempt. He's become much like that elderly woman you see on the street corner -- the one with several large message buttons pinned to her coat passing passing out leaflets produced by The Nut Factory.

But he's also family, so you let him button-hole you for the obligatory 10-minutes on Thanksgiving until you can escape.

But no degree of diminished capacity could absolve Carter of not going public after Sept. 11 to explain that he had accepted funds from a highly questionable source nor excuse his failure to return the money to the Saudi Bin Laden Group after Sept. 11.

Unfortunately for Carter, another respected American, Rudy Giuliani, set the standard when, right after Sept. 11, he refused a donation for New York City from a Saudi prince.

We'll see if the U.S. news media picks up on this story; in the meantime, the Censure Carter Committee is raising money for ads to be aired on television.

Posted by Debbye at 08:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Memorial Day, 2006

May 31 - I feel as though my fingers have been poised over this keyboard for 3 days now, groping for words and trying to cut through the mingled humility, gratitude, and guilt that this day inspires.

I did not volunteer to serve my country in my youth. I believed, as do so many now, that it was better to work for peace. I had the feeling that, in ways I could not articulate even then, a general desire for peace could spread from belligerent nation to belligerent nation until we defeated all the warmongers.

I guess I believed that peace would spread by osmosis.

It's easy enough to laugh at such naivete now, yet my generation was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King: two men who successfully challenged two great nations in the cause of freedom, and they had done so not only without violence but by intentionally using non-violent methods. What we failed to take into account, though, was that both Gandhi and Dr. King knew that they were dealing with countries that, despite their flaws, believed in justice and thus would respond justly.

So, in our innocence, we believed communism wasn't evil but just a different economic system that offered hope to the Third World, and all the facts as to the deadliness of Stalin's gulags and the terrible death toll of Mao's cultural revolution were dismissed as American propaganda.

There were so many questions we should have asked about Russian and Chinese involvement but didn't, nor did we consider the Russian and Chinese propaganda machines. So we sang "Down by the Riverside" and "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" and protested the War in Vietnam, the draft, racial inequality and supported all the progressive things because we were so open-minded. We believed we were rescuing America from McCarthyism and the military-industrial complex. We believed ourselves pure.

When the U.S. finally withdrew from Vietnam, we felt proud because we had restored self-determination to the Vietnamese people who hated us and wanted nothing more than to be reunited with their Northern brethren.

And then we saw scenes like this one:

US Emb. saigon.gif
Marines throwing Vietnames back over American Embassy wall in Saigon

And there were other images: Vietnamese clinging to helicopter skids, and helicopters being shoved overboard to make room aboard carriers for as many people as could fit, and reading in the newspapers about the unspeakable horrors those people endured crammed on open flight decks and others who had boarded rickety boats rather than live under communism. Many of them in fact died -- of thirst, starvation, disease, and by drowning when their boats capsized in stormy seas.

The heartbreaking stories of the boat people forced thinking people to wonder why there was such a flood of refugees and the possibile answers were unsettling.

All this shook my sense of confident righteousness -- and then the shocking reality of Pol Pot's Utopia demolished it:

Skulls pol pot.jpg
Life under the Khmer Rouge for 1.6 million souls

[Aside: The above is one grim picture, yet it is not entirely of an ugly past: were the bones of all those Iraqis beheaded, shot or blown apart by Zarqawi and others stacked in a pile, how high would it be?]

It was troubling, but maybe the "warmongers" were right after all. Maybe people didn't want to live under communism. Maybe communism really was evil and enslaved people. Maybe its spread had to be stopped. Maybe, just maybe we had been wrong.

And yet, despite our well-meant but unbearably foolish innocence, we were more fortunate than we could ever have imagined because those we had dismissed as brainwashed victims of U.S. propaganda remained vigilantly at the walls to protect us from the very dangers we had laughed off as simple-minded attempts at fear-mongering.

The American soldier stands between us and the monsters and often, because we are a compassionate people, he stands between people of other lands and the monsters. He has done so in Europe, the South Pacific, Africa, Korea, Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Vietnam, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, and too many places to count and too, because it is the right thing to do, has brought aid to people in far away countries devastated by tsunamais, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

It is a curious thing, that calling to serve in a military and humanitarian capacity, and we are blessed that so many answer it.

I am humble because my youthful idealism was so misdirected, I am grateful because the men and women of the American military continue to protect me, my family, and billions of people in the world from monsters I once believed did not exist, and I feel guilty because, although I am wiser, the Pentagon thinks I am too old to serve so I can't make up for the foolishness of my younger years.

Neither words written nor spoken can ever repay this nation's debt to those souls lost in struggles to secure and protect our nation and our values, but we can vow to keep faith with them and, in the words of Lincoln, "highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth."

And, if you haven't done so yet, go here and, in the name of those who gave their lives to secure your freedom, take advantage of the ways available at that site to show your gratitude to those who now serve.

Posted by Debbye at 08:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 30, 2006

On Haditha

May 30 - Yes, I remember My Lai. In fact, I'm old enough to actually remember My Lai -- as well as the subsequent court-martials and sentences that were handed down because following orders then, as now, were not grounds upon which U.S. military personnel can base their defense.

But I also remember Jenin. After much of the media and pundits denounced Israel, the U.N. reported the following:

Palestinians had claimed that between 400 and 500 people had been killed, fighters and civilians together. They had also claimed a number of summary executions and the transfer of corpses to an unknown place outside the city of Jenin.

The number of Palestinian fatalities, on the basis of bodies recovered to date, in Jenin and the refugee camp in this military operation can be estimated at around 55. Of those, a number were civilians, four were women and two children. There were 23 Israeli fatalities in the fighting operations in Jenin.

There's a lesson there, people.

However tempting it may be to denounce unproven allegations, I'm willing to wait because, just as happened with My Lai, the Ongoing Probes Will Yield Facts About Haditha Incident.

Not speculation, allegations and rumours but facts.

As a sidenote, many of those in the media (ahem, Haroon Siddiqui and Toronto Star) did not apologize to Israel for their hysterical condemnations after the Jenin fraud was exposed. That failure, by any reasonable yardstick, is what separates propaganda from honest news reporting.

Posted by Debbye at 09:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

23 Problems with the Senate bill

May 30 - John methodically outlines 22 Problems With The Senate's Illegal Immigration Bill and I'm adding a 23rd:

23. Why should we trust the Senate to see to the enforcement of their own proposals -- weak as they may be -- to improve security at the border?

Been there, swallowed that.

Posted by Debbye at 08:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 29, 2006

Memorial Day (-48 hrs)

May 29 - Memorial Day is one holiday that gained new relevance since the Sept. 11 attacks. It is more painful, it is more grateful, and it is more humbling.

We Were Soldiers was aired on (American) television last night and it was an experience that won't be easy to shake off.

As always, Mudville Gazette has several excellent posts commemorating those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Although I realize that Memorial Day is being celebrated today stateside, my heart insists that Memorial Day is on Wednesday. Maybe that's due to the fact that it's not a holiday up here and I am supposed to go to work tonight (I hope) or maybe I really am in my dotage. but I've elected to honour our fallen on May 31st.

12:46 - I'll never be able to write anything so eloquent and direct as Christopher Hitchins has:

... the insoluble problem: how to estimate the value of those whose lives were cruelly cut off before victory was in sight. It is sometimes rather lazily said that these soldiers "gave" their lives. It would be equally apt, if more blunt, to say that they had their lives taken.

[...]

This Memorial Day, one might think particularly of those of our fallen who also guarded polling-places, opened schools and clinics, and excavated mass graves. They represent the highest form of the citizen, and every man and woman among them was a volunteer. This plain statement requires no further rhetoric.

(Via Newsbeat1)

Posted by Debbye at 08:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2006

If you want something done ...

May 28 - There's a sensible way to do things and then there's the government's way, and the lengthy, convoluted methods of the latter are probably what gave rise to the American joke "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."

Americans want border security, but Congress has chosen, most probably in order to avoid dealing with providing genuine border security, to merge the issues of border security with the details of dealing with those already illegally in the U.S. (There's little point of berating the president over this; it is clearly an issue for the legislature to deal with. Separation of powers, and all that.)

But it's no secret that the biggest headache of any branch of the U.S. government is attempting to govern independent-minded Americans, and those tough, sturdy people who showed that "illegal aliens can be stopped with dedicated volunteers sitting in lawn chairs for 30 days" have a new project. While Congress is posturing, the enterprising folks of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corp. are building a fence, or, as Michelle Malkin terms it, DO-IT-YOURSELF BORDER CONTROL:

At present, six private land owners have partnered with the Minutemen for the commencement of construction of border fencing on their land. Surveillance cameras on the fencing will be monitored via computer by registered Minutemen across the country. We have chosen a fence design that is based on the Israeli fences in Gaza and on the West Bank that have cut terrorist attacks there by 95% or more. ...
And, as Ms. Malkin notes, they didn't ask Mexico's permission to erect it on American soil.

Actions that spring from grassroots organizations have a unique power that baffles politicians accustomed to striding through what is termed "halls of power" and who believe everything must be pondered, considered, debated, locked up in committee; in short, action is to be deferred by any means necessary and brother do they have a lot of means.

In true Wonderland fashion, they often succeed in making inaction appear to be action, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time and once the Minuteman sunk their first metaphorical posthole it became self-evident that a fence could indeed be built because one is being built, and furthermore renders the 320 miles the Senate graciously allowed pitifully meagre compared to the relative ease with which one could be built from the Gulf to the Pacific.

We reached the damned moon within a decade. What's 2,000, or even 5,000 miles, compared to that?

It seems to me that mobilizing the National Guard to build a fence makes eminent sense. Perhaps some savvy governor will chose to go that route? Now that would be sweet and, I believe, it would be legal should they receive permission from landowners along the border.

If you can donate money to this worthy Minuteman cause, go here.

(Via Newsbeat1.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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 17, 2006

Galling (updated)

May 17 - I had expressed curiosity in my post about the president's speech on immigration as to exactly what he meant by continuing to "work co-operatively" with the government of Mexico to control the southern border.

Evidently, co-operate means to do nothing because Mexico is threatening lawsuits over Guard:

Mexico warned Tuesday it would file lawsuits in U.S. courts if National Guard troops detain migrants on the border and some officials said they fear the crackdown will force illegal crossers into more perilous areas to avoid detection.
My reaction to this could not be described as diplomatic.

Just build a wall, Mr. President, and let's stop the appeasment game.

17:07 - Looks like the Senate at least was listening: Powerline reports that the Sessions amendment, which requires building 370 miles of fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the southern border, passed the Senate by a fairly wide margin: 83 - 16. I suspect the House might pass the amendment as well - more of them are up for re-election.

20:10 - Bill O'Reilly just threatened to instigate a boycott of Mexican goods and travel there should the Mexican government pursue their threat to sue the U.S. government. The assumption that it's just rhetoric is speculation, and, after Sept. 11, I think we're stupid not to take people at their word.

The U.S. State Dept. routinely issues travel advisories -- the Mexican government should adopt a similar approach if they are truly in earnest about protecting Mexican citizens.

Posted by Debbye at 06:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 16, 2006

President Bush's speech on immigration

May 15 - I had to attend a meeting tonight so didn't hear the speech but the transcript of the president's speech calling for legislation to reform immigration laws is here and no, I was not impressed by a speech that was short on action but at the end, he did score some points for those still willing to listen.

He placed securing the border in the the lead-off position thus acknowledging that problem is the biggest national weakness as well as the biggest concern of Americans. Nevertheless, the plan proposed is to continue to have no concrete means to stop the flow. Deploying the national guard seems much like window dressing given the mission objectives:

So in coordination with governors, up to 6,000 Guard members will be deployed to our southern border. The Border Patrol will remain in the lead. The Guard will assist the Border Patrol by operating surveillance systems, analyzing intelligence, installing fences and vehicle barriers, building patrol roads, and providing training. Guard units will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities -- that duty will be done by the Border Patrol.
Conducting patrols without the power to detain, relying on electronics rather than human presence, and undertaking construction projects? Not exactly inspiring, and I noted he referred to building fences, not a wall.

It was interesting that he inserted that we would not "militarize" the border by which it could be inferred that we won't be building the North American equivalent of Hadrian's Wall but I have a feeling that it is precisely at that point that he probably lost much of his audience. Americans are fed up, and when we get like that we aren't in the mood to hear vagaries in place of firm, decisive action.

In truth, I think many Americans would like to see a structure on the border that makes it clear that we regard maintaining control over who enters our country seriously. I don't think we could countenance killing those who try to enter but we want them stopped cold.

Continuing to "work co-operatively" with Mexico pre-supposes either that the Mexican government is currently co-operating (most believe they aren't) or that the status quo is as good as it is likely to get. I believe most Americans find that unacceptable and would prefer to see the president honestly lay out the difficulties with the Mexican government rather than pretend they don't exist.

Ending the catch and release system would be an improvement and instituting a temporary worker program with tamper-proof identification cards is a future regulatory device for immigration control but what about those now in the country?

You see, this is where I diverge from those who want them deported. Those who have the guts to pack up and leave everything they know in order to face an uncertain future in the U.S. on the chance they can build better lives are in fact of the stuff of which we are made. The difference is that our ancestors passed through Ellis or Angel Islands and although technology rarely made criminal background checks possible, names were recorded, papers stamped and given to the new arrivals, and there were stringent (for the day) health exams with sometimes heartbreaking results when someone who failed was sent back.

Some of those people who entered were political refugees and a small number of them continued their activities - among the most notorious were the anarchists who planted bombs and the infamous "deranged anarchist" (or so history notes him) who killed President McKinley - and then too Americans became fed up and demanded the federal government take action by deporting the "troublemakers."

We've been through this before and despite the problems we survived and we thrived. One key difference, however, between now and the past is that nobody seriously entertained the notion that the school curriculum be taught in Italian or Gaelic, and the expectation was that those moving here would speak English and strive to become Americans by learning and accepting the heritage of the U.S.A. It worked, the proof being the many great Americans we study in history classes who are not definitely not of Anglo-Saxon origin.

That brings us to the dilemma of how to deal with the millions already here. That portion of the speech spelled out a recognition that this is America, English is the recognized language in schools and in the public sphere, and we cherish our heritage and are willing to share it. The rest can be summarized fairly neatly as Compromise, Compromise, Compromise. That's not a bad thing: our ability to compromise has guided the Union through many inflammatory issues but the compromise has to stick. Sadly, both houses in Congress have been more adroit at ducking substantive issues of late and grabbing the cheap headlines than providing leadership (Dubai port contract, anyone?) and I suspect I'm not the only one who understands that there's a serious flaw when new legislation is passed to obscure the fact that current laws are not enforced.

The fact that unemployment is so low would seem to argue that indeed those working and living in the U.S. are -- despite their undocumented status -- contributing to the wealth of the nation, and although payroll taxes are not being deducted and paid on their behalf, they are paying taxes through their rents and sales taxes on purchases.

Getting co-operation from the states and towns is going to be another problem but the taxpayer, also known as the electorate, may well have the final word depending on how local candidates present the issues and choices.

The Minutemen project gave tangible evidence of the growing unrest by Americans at the government's lethargic response to the porous border. It's not necessarily a bad thing when the people take the lead in the face of government inaction, but Congress has had that "deer in the headlights" look for well over a year and people on all sides of this issue have noticed and the vacillations and grandstanding has diminished respect for the legislature.

That diminished respect may be the true casualty of this crisis. We have a respect for our institutions that invariably transcends those who are elected or appointed to them, but the polls indicate so deep a disappointment in Congress and the Presidency as to be dangerous at a time of war when leadership is not only desirable but mandatory.

[No, I'm not going to address the demonstrators and boycotters. This is going to sound harsh but a monumental error of principle was made when ANSWER took over leadership of their cause; although the president was right to remind us of those who have fought for this country valiantly and courageously in order to obtain American citizenship, those few names pale in comparison with the hundreds of thousands we saw demonstrating and holding up traffic - not only on a weekday but also a schoolday - under the auspices of ANSWER's political agenda. Even stupider are plans to hold demonstrations on Wednesday in response to the president's speech. ANSWER's goal is to create an image of much put-upon victims, and they won't hestitate to turn people into victims in order to realize that goal.

Hispanics need to regain control over their cause and get better leaders. Maybe then the issue can be discussed with people who are serious about a just and fair resolution. Until then, we're discussing this with ... ANSWER.]

04:26 - Well worth staying awake for: John poses those Questions Not Answered by Bush's Illegal Immigration speech.

Posted by Debbye at 01:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 10, 2006

Ardent Sentry

May 10 - 'Ardent Sentry' Testing U.S., Canadian Crisis Response:

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2006 – More than 5,000 U.S. and Canadian servicemembers are working with authorities in five U.S. states and two Canadian provinces [Ontario and New Brunswick] to test their response capabilities to crises ranging from a major hurricane to a terrorist attack to a pandemic flu outbreak.

Ardent Sentry 2006, a two-week U.S. Northern Command exercise, kicked off May 8 to test military support to federal, provincial, state and local authorities while continuing to support the Defense Department's homeland defense mission, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Butterbaugh, a NORTHCOM and North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman. The Canadian part of the exercise began May 1 and continues through May 12.

[...]

While testing the military's interagency coordination, the exercise also focuses on its ability to operate with the Canadian government and the newly established Canada Command, NORTHCOM's Canadian counterpart, Kucharek said.

"This is the first major exercise which will allow Canada Command to train with federal and provincial departments and agencies," said Gordon O'Connor, Canada's national defense minister. "Exercises such as Ardent Sentry 2006 help ensure we respond to domestic threats and natural disasters in a coordinated manner." It also will promote "cross-border information sharing" between Canada Command and NORTHCOM, he said.

Posted by Debbye at 06:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 02, 2006

The Ninth Rule of Fight Club

May 2 - The ninth rule of Fight Club is you do not posts videos of Fight Club on the internet.

Video Of Son In Local Fight Club Fuels Father's Fears.

Posted by Debbye at 02:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 01, 2006

United 93

May 1 - I needed to see the movie because I needed to pay tribute to the passengers and crew of Flight 93. It was really that simple.

The theatre seemed empty -- only about a quarter full. Many attended alone. The audience was silent even before the lights were lowered and remained hushed as they filed out after the movie. It was respectful and eerie.

The movie did not cause me to "relive Sept. 11" but rather to live through those elements which we learned of days afterward. I did find a curious solace in the reminder that the air controllers, FAA and even the military comprehended the magnitude and intent of events at the same moment as did we all.

The movie did not renew my rage so much as intensify the burden I accepted when I first learned of the defiant and desperate choice the passengers and crew made to retake the plane and avert another attack -- when I instictively knew that I needed to be among those who, in the words of Lincoln, would be "dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion."

Each will take something different from United 93 and no, I really haven't adequate words for what I took, but there are two essays that do: Right Wing Prof masterfully takes us from the movie to the Shanksville memorial and Gerard Vanderleun invokes a different scene at another site: those early memorials in New York constructed from flyers of the missing on fences and candlewax on sidewalks. I think much is said about the events within the movie by the descriptions and pictures of the imprompteau tributes at both sites which ache of loss and resound in thanks far more poignantly than any architect or committee could impose, and therein too lies the power of the movie: the only offering is one of stark events which do not condescend to explain or rationalize, and thus it respects the ordinary person.

Gerard's awed definition of heroism encompasses the firefighters and police as well as those on Flight 93 whose response to danger was to act, and it's much too good not to quote:

What I know in my heart, but what always escapes my understanding until something like this film renews it, is that heroism is a virtue that most often appears among us not descending from some mythic pantheon, but rising up out of the ordinary earth and ordinary hearts when the moment calls for actions extraordinary.
They chose not death but to fight for their lives and to save those unknown others who would die if they failed, and therein lies an important distinction that has sometimes been lost these past few years: the only ones who had chosen suicide and murder were the hijackers, and they cannot be allowed to win. We -- I -- won't let them.

(Right wing prof link via a succinct but brilliant entry at It comes in pints .)

Posted by Debbye at 09:21 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 21, 2006

"Too soon? This story never stopped."

Apr. 21 - The quote in the title of this post is from Deroy Murdock's concluding sentence in his review of the movie Flight 93 and the sentiment of that sentence started another train of thought.

I will probably cry during the movie but those tears will be not only of grief but also of gratitude and joy - joy that, on one very dark day, some very ordinary and very determined people united to perform a heroic act that earned them a place beside some other ordinary yet determined people who were later immortalized by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, or leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

The story of those aboard Flight 93 isn't a new one but one that began in the 18th century - in fact, the Minutemen mark the beginning of the American nation. We are formed in the knowledge that those who stood at that Concord bridge as well as on Boston Commons were, as are most of us today, not military types but everyday folk - farmers, shopkeepers, printers and local businessmen - who found within themselves a resolve to stand firm for liberty.

That legacy passed to the crews and passengers aboard Flight 93 and they did not shirk. Their example will long remain a flame of inspiration in our hearts and, should we find ourselves in a like situation, will serve to strengthen our hearts and lend clarity to our minds as we too, in their memory, seize whatever means are at hand to fight those who would try to destroy us.

Too soon? More like long overdue.

(National Review link via Newsbeat1)

Posted by Debbye at 02:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The ship of state

Apr. 21 - Great read: Charles Krauthammer explains how the "I-know-better" generals get on the slippery slope (which is something of an understatement as that slippery slope leads toward a chasm of Grand Canyon proportions.)

This latest controversy would be more at home in Bizarro Land. Those who are seriously in favour of letting the military dictate policy need help -- fast. The others - those who advocate such for their own opportunistic reasons - have revealed so total a lack of understanding about the relationship between the military and civilian government and especially why such safeguards are necessary that they manage to be both pathetic and dangerous.

The eagerness with which much of the anti-war left has grasped at any and all straws to stay afloat has become tiresome, but this latest instance just might amuse Plato.

Posted by Debbye at 07:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 05, 2006

Kindly define "friend"

Apr. 5 - The Globe and Mail headline shouts Brief Throne Speech hails U.S. as 'best friend' - death quotes theirs, as though that statement is a bad thing - which is why it continues to bewilder me that so many in the MSM express opposition to new regulations which require Canadians crossing the border to carry passports. Are we to suppose that the Globe and Mail thinks Canadians should have the kinds of consideration merited by long-standing ties of friendship between the two countries without the friendship part? (Actually, yes, but don't ask me to explain it.)

It seems below much of the media's radar up here that some decidedly unfriendly words and actions by columnists, activists and even members of the previous government have led many Americans to not count Canada as a friend and, too well aware that Canada was a member in good standing of the Axis of Weasels, regard this country as little better than France and deserving of the same disdain and treatment.

The formation of the Congressional Friends of Canada was widely hailed up here but should have been a huge warning flag. It was reactive, not pro-active: a reparative act in response to a woeful admission that relations between the two countries have deteriorated to the point that such an organization is needed, for why bother if there was no need to counteract the altered perception of Canadians by Americans?

Things have changed since Sept. 11. Before that day we tended to brush aside the slings and arrows thinking that we were "big enough to take it" but once we were attacked we took careful note of who were friends and who were foes and Canada came up sadly short. Blame Chretien, Parrish and Martin or applaud them, just don't overestimate our willingness to overlook or forgive because it's no longer about hurt feelings but about our very survival.

Also, for all the anti-Bush sentiment and professed preference for Democrats up here, please don't fail to note which party is increasingly becoming the party of protectionism and isolationism. Those who don't believe such sentiments will hurt trade are sadly mistaken.

The funny part is that the Globe and Mail is supposed to be business-oriented, yet the attitudes and policies they promulgate would have a devastating effect on the Canadian economy. Go figure.

Posted by Debbye at 10:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 03, 2006

Moussaoui eligible for death penalty

Apr. 3 - It's official: Moussaoui Eligible for Death Penalty.

This has been a hard case. I don't mean just legally but emotionally as well because there really are wounds that never heal.

I am against the death penalty. I believe that the death penalty is instutionalized pre-meditated murder and, however much I burn for vengeance, I believe that it's wrong.

I've said often enough that someone deserved to die and God knows they probably did but therein lies the problem: I'm not God.

Posted by Debbye at 06:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 01, 2006

That rebellious youth

Apr. 1 - In repressive action reminiscent of the 60's, school authorities have cracked down on the rights of high school students to express their views: Flag Waving Banned at Colorado School.

Posted by Debbye at 05:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 01, 2006

Yay!

Mar. 1 - George and Laura Bush Makes Surprise Visit to Afghanistan.

(Do you suppose that, back in D.C., the White House press corp. sulked?)

Posted by Debbye at 07:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 28, 2006

A Tale of Two Three Books

Feb. 28 - It's staggering to think that, given so much societal focus on "thinking of the children," that more books like these haven't been written. But leave it to the Marines or, in this case, a Marine Wife and Mom Who Pens Books to Help Military Kids Cope:

Angela Sportelli-Rehak, wife of Marine Corps Lt. Col. Dennis Rehak, combined her personal experience with background as a professional counselor and professor to write two children's books about the challenges facing military families.

"When Duty Calls" and "Moving Again Mom" are part of a series called, "Uncle Sam's Kids" that follows a fictitious military family through the ups and downs of military life. The books are written for children in kindergarten through fourth grade and focus on the stresses of deployments and the disruption of being uprooted during permanent-change-of-station moves, Rehak explained. The stories are based largely on the Rehak family's personal experiences, as well as those of other military families, said Rehak, who teaches child psychology and education courses at Ocean County College in Toms River, N.J.

With 13 military moves under her belt, Rehak said she was often frustrated that no books on the market addressed the stresses her three children endured when they left their school, friends, sports teams and neighborhood behind during moves. "So I decided to write one myself," she said.

But as military deployments began stepping up after Sept. 11, 2001, Rehak temporarily put that project aside to write a book for the children of deploying troops. "My husband has been on many, many deployments, and I know there are a lot of stressors that come along with that," she said. "I thought a book about it might help a lot of people."

I really hope these books get the distribution necessary so that they can fill what is a definite need, as those of us who read blogs written by family members of military personnel can attest, and it would be wonderful if Sportelli-Rehak continues the series right up through the teen years.

The third book is also written for children and helps them cope with a different kind of stress: Why Mommy is a Democrat (that's my interpetation and I'm sticking with it.)

I'd love to take my shots at it but Tuning Spork beat me to it and, um, sporks the books delightfully -- and his review is totally SFW.

Posted by Debbye at 07:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 19, 2006

Standing with the Danes

Feb. 19 - A demonstration yesterday in front of the Danish Embassy in D.C. had an unusual component:

The demonstrators were met by 20 counter-protesters from the conservative Free Republic group, who stood in front of the embassy on Whitehaven Street NW waving Danish and U.S. flags and holding large letters reading "Human Shields."
I spent a good part of yesterday morning looking for Danish feta and butter cookies yet it never occurred to me that the Danes also export beer (maybe because we Americans tend to think of European beer as ... well, you know.)

The defense of Denmark no longer has anything to do with the cartoons because, as the following post illustrates, defending freedom of the press and refusing to allow governments to censor the news has deeper implications than hurt feelings.

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

Speedy response to the Leyte mudslide

Feb. 19 - The capability of the U.S. military to respond quickly to civilian emergencies and the willingness of our government to render aid to those in need is incredible. Be it a tsunami, earthquake or a mudslide, the U.S. is there long before the U.N. has held its first meeting to address the catastrophe (with an energetic nod to our Australian friends, who have much the same attitude to active response.)

The recent Phillipine mudslide is only the most recent example and, as soon as the request went through the necessary protocols, we were on our way to aid and assist (Amphibious Ready Group Responds to Philippines Landslide.)

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2006 – Sailors and Marines from the Forward Deployed Amphibious Ready Group and elements of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade were called upon yesterday to help the victims of a mudslide on southern Leyte Island in the Philippines, U.S. 7th Fleet officials reported.

USS Essex, USS Harpers Ferry and elements of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade immediately left port Subic Bay en route to the disaster zone area.

"Our primary mission is to provide as much assistance as possible to the victims of this tragic event," said Capt. Mark E. Donahue, commodore, Amphibious Squadron 11, the task group commander of the Forward Deployed ARG. "We are here to prevent the further loss of life and to mitigate any further suffering."

[...]

The Philippine Red Cross has asked the United States for helicopter support to assist with rescue and relief operations in the area.

Just as in Operation Unified Assistance, a multi-nation effort to help victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami, the ships of the Forward Deployed ARG will use various ship-to-shore assets to get landslide victims the assistance they need in the form of food, water and medical supplies, officials said. During the tsunami operation, USS Essex and USS Fort McHenry delivered about 6 million pounds of relief supplies.

There are those who talk and those who do. Godspeed to the service personnel of the USS Essex, USS Harpers Ferry and elements of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade in this errand of mercy.

Posted by Debbye at 03:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 19, 2005

"Cowards cut and run, and Marines never do."

Nov. 19 - Add another phrase to our growing list of notable quotes! I might also add that the cowards blathered on and on but when it came to a vote, that being in favour of the immediate pullout from Iraq, it was rejected 403-3 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Just for the record,

Those voting for it were Democrats Cynthia A. McKinney of Georgia, Robert Wexler of Florida and Jose E. Serrano of New York.
How inept are the Democrats? Their catcalls and a near fistfight resulted in such an uproar that the remarks that occasioned the response got more coverage than they might have otherwise:
At one point during the debate, Rep. Jean Schmidt, Ohio Republican and the newest member of the House, said she had received a call from a veteran and member of Ohio's state legislature , who said to send a message to Mr. Murtha: "Cowards cut and run, and Marines never do." [Damned straight I added the emphasis.]

Instantly, two dozen Democrats shot to their feet and demanded her words be "taken down," a precursor to House punishment, because she insulted Mr. Murtha. Rep. Vic Snyder, Arkansas Democrat, said the use of Mr. Murtha's name and "coward" were in "too close a proximity" to let the matter go.

Ms. Schmidt withdrew her words, but not before Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., Tennessee Democrat, seemed to be headed for a fight with Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican. Mr. Tancredo afterward said he had been arguing with another Democrat over some of the charges Democrats had hurled at Republicans during yesterday morning's budget vote, and said Mr. Ford must have thought the argument was about Mr. Murtha.

"Say it to Murtha," Mr. Ford repeatedly shouted at Mr. Tancredo while he was being restrained by other members. Mr. Tancredo said he replied he wasn't talking about Mr. Murtha and told Mr. Ford to go sit down.

"You guys are pathetic. Pathetic," Rep. Martin T. Meehan, Massachusetts Democrat, shouted.

Hmm, who's pathetic: the one who's bluffing and or the guy who the temerity to raise and call? If you don't even have a pair ...

Great move by the GOP. Putting withdrawal from Iraq to a vote before the Fall recess is similar to last year's move to force the question on re-instating the draft to a vote and, as with the draft, the overwhelming numbers opposing such a measure damaged the Democrats. I find it humourous that Rep. Pelosi complained there was no time for a debate -- what else has she and other Democrats been doing these past years? The biggest mistake any political party can make is to continually underestimate the intelligence of the electorate, and the dislike many believe the Democrats harbour for the U.S.A. is turning on itself and I doubt I'm the only one wondering if the Dems have so pervasive a death wish that they're determined to destroy themselves.

Yes, I am in a major "Take off the farking gloves already" mood today (and this is from someone who doesn't like voting Republican any more than she likes voting Democrat.) I want to extend my personal gratitude to Democrats [sarcasm alert] for doing their utmost to reduce the U.S.A. to a one-party state. I've witnessed first-hand up here how that turns out, and I really don't recommend it. But as long as the Democrats are determined to be irrelevant and limit themselves to posturing I'll be voting GOP. Damn you donkeys! What part of "elephants never forget" don't you understand? Yes, some stayed locked in a 60's mindset, but others grew up and a new generation is grimly aware that their future and lives depend on how Iraq plays out. They are chosing kick-ass over a chorus of Kumbaya, and they will be voting in coming elections.

Grr. The one number that eludes the angst-driven "2000 service personnel killed" folks (led by most of the MSM) are the number of Iraqis who have been killed, and that far outnumbers U.S. deaths. We are not the prime target and we are not enduring the largest number of deaths. The courageous Iraqis who volunteered to join the police, army and security forces (plus those who simply go to mosques and markets) are the primary targets and have the larger number of casualties.

Are there really those who wish to cut and run, leaving those valiant Iraqis at the mercy of the vengeful? I hope I speak for more than myself when I say that there is no way on this earth that I can allow us to betray them - and the people of our military and those of our coalition allies - by cutting and running.

Shiites were a target under Saddam's rule (as were Kurds and other ehnic minorities in Iraq) and they are a target now as Sunni insurgents - aided by al Qaeda - attempt to re-establish rule. The difference now is that Shiites and Kurds have a chance to live and prosper because we took Saddam down and - this is truly wondrous as well as being the best hope for the Mid-east as a whole - they are willing to share power with the Sunnis, something the Sunnis never contemplated when they - the minority in Iraq - enjoyed privileged status under Saddam.

Yet the doom-sayers may be having a victory of sorts. A recent poll may indicate that Americans are becoming more isolationist, and despite CNN's analysis, I think the poll may more reflect a truth contained in Victor Davis Hanson's analysis of the recent rioting in France:

Practically, such pacifism results in a weakening of NATO, with the expectation that the United States will continue to assume an ever-greater share of its costs and manpower. Few over here realize that they have finally lost American good will — and with it the public's desire ever again to bail them out from another Milosevic or an ascendant Russia or nuclear Iran on the horizon.
To put it bluntly, when Old Europe erupts in flames (again) we just might respond by buying marshmallows.

A similar disillusion after WWI led to renewed isolationist sentiments in the U.S. and kept us out of WWII until the bombing of Pearl Harbour (and the breakdown of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, which reversed the position of the U.S. Communist Party and saw them agitating for a pro-war sentiment.) "Don't count us out" has a grim corollary: "Don't assume you can count us in." I don't see Americans rallying to defend Old Europe unless the United Kingdom exerts considerable pressure on us (and they alone have any credibility) but what I can't predict is how much Americans are connecting Canada to Old Europe. Certainly Chretien's membership in the Axis of Weasels is something that Americans will long remember, and hopes that Paul Martin might be able to remove that stigma have faded.

Canadians who assume that the U.S.A. will rush to defend Canada might do well to wonder how long it will take us to rush. The debate in the Senate and the House of Representatives may well be extensive and thorough, and the temptation to refer the issue to the U.N. will certainly be popular among some people.

Americans have had four years to assess who are our friends, enemies, and opportunist allies. People who fret about the CIA and conspiracy agendas are missing the real power: We, the People, of these United States. We expect considerably less from our politicans than we do from ourselves, and we can be formidable indeed when angered. We pay our diplomats to be diplomatic so that we simple folk need not be so, but when we decide that "enough is enough" our politicans listen or are replaced. Thus far most Americans are dismissive of much of the Old European and Canadian silliness, but that can turn into fury on a dime and believe me when I say that you won't like us when we're angry.

That brings us to the real question that has been looming larger and larger: why we would expend the blood of America's sons and daughters when some, i.e., Old Europeans and Canadians, won't let their little darlings be placed in harm's way. The answer is pure Darwinism and only Christian compassion can counter it. But then we Americans do have a reputation for being practical, you know?

Posted by Debbye at 11:43 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

November 18, 2005

Rooting out the corrupt

Nov. 18 - Background checks didn't work in this instance: Issuing Contracts, Ex-Convict Took Bribes in Iraq, U.S. Says:

A North Carolina man who was charged yesterday with accepting kickbacks and bribes as a comptroller and financial officer for the American occupation authority in Iraq was hired despite having served prison time for felony fraud in the 1990's.

The job gave the man, Robert J. Stein, control over $82 million in cash earmarked for Iraqi rebuilding projects.

Along with a web of other conspirators who have not yet been named, Mr. Stein and his wife received "bribes, kickbacks and gratuities amounting to at least $200,000 per month" to steer lucrative construction contracts to companies run by another American, Philip H. Bloom, an affidavit outlining the criminal complaint says. Mr. Stein's wife, who was not named, has not been charged with wrongdoing in the case; Mr. Bloom was charged with a range of crimes on Wednesday.

[...]

The charges against Mr. Stein and Mr. Bloom have emerged from a sweeping probe of rebuilding contracts by a task force led by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, and including investigators from the criminal investigations division of the Internal Revenue Service, the immigration and customs enforcement section of the Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department's inspector general.

Posted by Debbye at 08:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 17, 2005

Able Danger

Nov. 17 - Former FBI director Louis Freeh writes about the dismissive attitude toward Able Danger by the Sept. 11 Commission in An Incomplete Investigation.


We're fully into the Christmas Holiday season at the store (including non-stop playing of the ubiquitous Christmas Holiday carols.) Posting will tend to be light until mid-January.

Posted by Debbye at 08:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 14, 2005

I am seeking an honest journalist

Nov. 14 - A few weeks ago Michelle Malkin noted the doctoring of a photo of Dr. Rice which showed her as a Go'auld (sorry, demon-hunters, everyone knows that demons have yellow eyes.)

Final word on this and attendant issues goes to Doggerel Pundit who cuts to the heart of the matter with a lament that is achingly familiar to those of us who are more interested in truth than propaganda and who have been repeated betrayed by those who call themselves journalists.

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

October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks 1913-2005

Rosa Parks and MLK.bmp
Rosa Parks and Dr. King

Oct. 25 - Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her seat to a white man sparked the Montgomery bus boycott in 1956, passed away yesterday at the age of 92. What words can possibly express the immense respect and admiration due this woman who, by a simple act of dignity, brought national attention to a deep injustice in our country thus prodding at and eventually awakening the conscience of that nation?

There was an additional layer to the issue: Mrs. Parks was a woman and it was considered a decent courtesy for a man to give up his seat for a woman, yet she was supposed to surrender her seat to him. It was impossible not to recognize that Mrs. Parks had been denied a common courtesy which her gender should have accorded her - if one considered her to be human. And, of course, that was the ultimate question.

I was too young to be fully aware of the boycott but as I grew older and learned more about Jim Crow laws (those laws mandating "separate but equal" facilities) I was incredulous - as perhaps only a child could be - when I learned that there were states that had laws requiring that, e.g., schools, hotels, drinking fountains, swimming pools, beaches and washrooms be segregated: there must be separate facilities for white people and "colored" people. Anyone's sense of fair play was further outraged when it was recognized that the reality was that there was not necessarily a duplication of services; for example, African-Americans were not allowed to drink out of water fountains marked "For Whites Only" but that did not necessarily mean that there was a water fountain nearby marked "For Coloreds Only." (The indignity worsens when we recall that the same lack of facilities held true for washrooms.)

Those times are thankfully in the past. They may be part of our history but they are past history, and although there are still racists in our midst they no longer have the acquiescence of the state. Which, again, brings us back to Rosa Parks.

The biography which CNN offers in the above link is adequate, but a better one is available here. Both articles note her involvement in the NAACP, but did you know that it was founded in 1909? (read the time line at that last link - you may find some surprises.)

There will likely be a great many public tributes over the next few days but I'd like to think that the better ones will be those many of us will be paying in our hearts to this woman who, with Dr. King, challenged us to be better Americans and better Christians and Jews.

Thank you, Mrs. Parks, and God bless you. You made us better.

Posted by Debbye at 12:59 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

It's not nice to lie to Congress

Oct. 25 - Last May British MP George Galloway scornfully challenged Sen. Norm Coleman to produce evidence that he had received oil vouchers from Saddam Hussein during the former's testimony before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations which at the time was investigating the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program. Well, the evidence been produced (Senate panel accuses British lawmaker) and the U.S. Department of Justice will be asked to consider charging Galloway with perjury and obstruction of congressional proceedings.

The British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, proclaims Galloway's wife 'received £100,000 from Iraqis':

The Palestinian-born wife of George Galloway, the Respect MP, is accused today of receiving $149,980 (about £100,000) derived from the United Nations Iraqi oil-for-food programme.

A report by an investigative committee of the United States Senate says the money was sent to the personal account of Amineh Abu Zayyad in August 2000.

[...]

The report includes bank records showing a paper trail from Saddam's ministries to Mrs Galloway. It states that the Iraqis handed several lucrative oil-for-food contracts to the Jordanian businessman Fawaz Zureikat, an old friend of the Galloways. A month later, on Aug 3, 2000, Mr Zureikat allegedly paid $150,000 minus a bank commission of $20 from his Citibank account number 500190207 into Mrs Galloway's account at the Arab Bank in Amman.

The senate team also says that a $15,666 payment had been made on the same date to a Bank of Scotland account belonging to Mr Galloway's spokesman, Ron McKay. Last night Mr McKay said he had no recollection of the alleged payment.

[...]

Senate staff said at a press conference yesterday that they would send their report to Britain and Jordan for possible action against the Galloways and Mr Zureikat.

George Galloway had been scheduled to go on tour in the eastern U.S. with Jihad Jane and Cindy Sheehan but the trip was abrubtly cancelled last month.

Posted by Debbye at 08:39 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 21, 2005

What don't get they about "when the mission is completed?"

Oct. 21 - The Washingto Post had an un-insightful item yesterday: Rice Declines to Give Senators Timeline for Germany South Korea Iraq Withdrawal.

I could have included Bosnia/Serbia/Kosovo, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa in the strike-outs, but it was already getting a tad long! (Feel free to add your own favourite "quagmire," but Los Angeles is off-limits!)

I hate to disappoint the Post, but most Americans understood going in that it would be a long-term committment. We also understood that sticking this through would meet our long-term objectives far more than cutting and running.

Having said that, it also grieves me that some of our best men and women are being killed and maimed over there. It just seems wrong that the intelligent idiots in their ivory towers babble on while those who many - including me - consider their betters are on the front lines.

Where are all those human shields, anyway? They would protect hospitals and electrical stations under Saddam's rule but not under Iraq home rule? Couldn't they at least protect the defense lawyers for Saddam's trial? (No link yet, but word has it that he has been found dead.) [07:45 - link now available here.

Posted by Debbye at 06:26 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Michael Yon on radio

Oct. 21 - Thanks to Kevin for this heads-up: Pundit Review: Michael Yon This Sunday, 9 p.m. ET, on Pundit Review Radio. Mr. Yon in an embedded reporter (his current affiliation is with the Weekly Standard) and his accounts and photos are markedly different from what we read on CNN or Fox.

If you haven't been following Mr. Yon's dispatches online, you can read them here and you might want to begin with this.

The post linked above at Pundit Review in turn links to WRKO and from there you can click on the "Listen Live" button. (I presume! If I'm wrong please let me know.)

I am supposed to work Sunday night, worse luck. Too bad I can't set something equivalent to a VCR for the broadcast, but I am looking forward to reading the reviews or, better, if anyone knows of a transcript of the interview please let me know.

Posted by Debbye at 01:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 18, 2005

I thought only beavers built wooden dams

Oct. 18 - The only real dam I've ever seen is Hoover Dam so I'm hardly an expert but even so I never imagined a dam would be made of wood unless beavers were members of the construction crew.

Good luck to the folks in Taunton. After this passes, the owners might want to start thinking about upgrading.

Posted by Debbye at 09:53 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 06, 2005

The media harsher on N.O. than the flood

Oct. 6 - I accused the press of racism on Oct. 4 because they were too quick to believe that black Americans descended into barbarism after the levees in New Orleans broke and flooded large sections of the city. The damage caused by the wholesale failure to confirm information before rushing to press has been partially addressed in a lengthy article in yesterday's Washington Post - News of Pandemonium May Have Slowed Aid and evacuation efforts in New Orleans.

This is quite a comedown. The press was quite self-congratulatory when they believed their fearless reporting of widespread murders, rapes, child molestations and the wholesale looting of the entire gun department at Walmart sped aid to New Orleans and now they can contemplate the reality: that spreading these false rumours delayed rescue efforts and, worse, made other cities fear to welcome those in desperate need of refuge.

The press believed their own press. Who said irony was dead? (Come to think of it, it was the press!)

I'd like to cut writers Robert E. Pierre and Ann Gerhart some slack for at least addressing the failures of the news coverage in New Orleans during those terrible days but although the article starts well it ends with incredible stupidity:

Five weeks after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans, some local, state and federal officials have come to believe that exaggerations of mayhem by officials and rumors repeated uncritically in the news media helped slow the response to the disaster and tarnish the image of many of its victims.

Claims of widespread looting, gunfire directed at helicopters and rescuers, homicides, and rapes, including those of "babies" at the Louisiana Superdome, frequently turned out to be overblown, if not completely untrue, officials now say.

[jumping to the concluding paragraph]

Keith M. Woods, faculty dean at the Poynter Institute for journalists, is willing to cut reporters some slack. "Every institutional source for quality information was uprooted," said Woods, a New Orleans native whose father's and sister's homes were flooded. "It was different than 9/11 because everything was underwater, and you are relying totally on word of mouth. In that situation, invariably, we will get some things wrong. One of the questions that would have served us better is 'How do you know that?'" (Bolding added)

Say what? Reporters didn't know they should ask "How do you know that?" They slandered the residents of an entire city who were coping with a catastrophic flood with decency and dignity and why? because they abandoned basic journalistic standards. No fumbling excuses are allowed on this one.

Another feature of the article that could have been explored more thoroughly is this:

"Rumor control was a beast for us," said Maj. Ed Bush of the Louisiana National Guard, who was stationed at the Superdome. "People would hear something on the radio and come and say that people were getting raped in the bathroom or someone had been murdered. I would say, 'Ma'am, where?' I would tell them if there were bodies, my guys would find it. Everybody heard, nobody saw. Logic was out the window because the situation was illogical."

[...]

The Washington Post, in a Sept. 1 front-page article, noted that evacuees at the Superdome were repeating rumors of rapes and killings but quoted Maj. Bush as saying "none of that" occurred. A Sept. 15 front-page story said the precise number of people who died in the convention center was not known at the time, but officials believed it could be as many as 10. (Bolding added.)

Actually the number of bodies was 4. So why didn't they believe Major Bush or, at minimum, consider the truth of his assertions and pursue that angle? How can they give equal weight to statements uttered by an officer in the National Guard and statements made by persons who are reporting what they heard, not what they saw? Is it possible that his statements were discounted because the press is pre-conditioned to assume members of the military lie?
Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, said that reporters got bogged down trying to tell people how bad the situation was rather than "gathering facts and corroborating that information."
He didn't say it this time but we know what he was thinking!

Another panicked rumour has been found to have a more likely explanation:

Federal agents arrested a man for shooting at a helicopter, on Sept. 5. But several officials, including Blanco, now believe that some of the gunfire people reported in the city was attempts to signal rescuers because residents have told them so.
Most people have been taught that three successive blasts on a whistle - or three shots, or three loud bangs - is a signal for help. In retrospect, it seems fairly likely that those who remembered that lesson applied it.

The article does do a credible job of addressing some of the rumours and dispensing of them and, under the sub-title "Setting the Record Straight," it permits one of those who remained rooted in reality, Major Bush, to do just that.

Maj. Bush of the Louisiana National Guard said he is glad the record is being corrected.

"I certainly saw fights, but I saw worse fights at a Cubs game in Chicago," he said. "The people never turned into these animals. They have been cheated out of being thought of as these tough people who looked out for each other. We had more babies born [in the Superdome] than we had deaths." (Bolding added)

And the issue I raised Tuesday still remains: why was the news media so quick to unquestioningly believe and spread lurid tales - which have since been disproven - that depicted New Orleans residents in the worst possible light? Was it because those residents were predominantly black?

(Via Neale News)

Posted by Debbye at 08:09 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 05, 2005

FEMA leads to disaster!

Oct. 5 - Larry shows how power point presentations lead to so much audience inattention that they uncritically view one that seemingly shows that FEMA leads to disaster.

I'm not sure how I would redo this, but I think that metaphorically speaking, prevention and preparedness shouldn't lead to disaster.
Ouch.

Posted by Debbye at 08:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 04, 2005

Katrina - mythical and factual racism

Oct. 4 - The New Orleans death toll from the levee breaches and Hurricane Katrina is now at 964 972 Dead and body searches have ended. Mississippi lost 221 souls during the hurricane.

This is far short of the 10,000 feared dead in New Orleans but there is no reason to celebrate.

The looting (and I'm not talking about foraging for food and water) was unsurprising. The indications that some New Orleans policemen deserted and others were looters was surprising.

But the biggest - and most shameful - surprise was how readily the news media believed the horror stories of rape, murder and child molestation within the Super Dome and on the streets. I'm not the only blogger who was skeptical about the stories and didn't repeat them so I'm not bragging but the question remains: what do ordinary Americans have that the news media doesn't?

The answer is common sense - and maybe something else.

The stories were not believed by many of us because they were literally unbelievable. We know ourselves and we know that a dire situation as Katrina tends to unite us even if only the interests of survival. Thank back on the footage we actually saw. Groups of people previously unknown to one another were trapped together on overpasses as well as in the Convention Center and Super Dome and they did as people in such circumstances have always done: stayed together and helped one another until they were rescued.

Look, accusations of racism have been flung about too wildly in the aftermath of Katrina so I'm hesitant to say this, but I can't help believing that racism played a role in the willingness of the news media to believe that black Americans descended into lawlessness and barbarism - there was even an account of cannibalism, for crying out loud - and they should be called on it.

Yet which of those who broadcast these stories as fact has had the guts to wonder why they were so gullible?

It wasn't the black faces in the flooded streets of New Orleans that gave evidence of racism in America but the willing promulgation of lies and sensationalist stories by the news media. Shame on them. They owe all of us an apology.

Posted by Debbye at 09:32 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 03, 2005

Predator joins border patrol

Oct. 3 - Murdoc reports there are Predators on the line (I'm soft on those predators.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Jacobson

Oct. 3 - As women we demand equal rights and accept that, with those rights, come responsibilities. One young woman who accepted those responsibilities was Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Jacobson, and on Sept. 28 she became the Air Force's first female casualty in Iraq.

The Cult of the Victim is one side of feminism but I prefer the side that women like Airman Jacobson represent. They let their deeds - not their grievances - speak.

Godspeed though that wild blue yonder, Airman Jacobson. And thank you.

Her story is here and a more personal account is here.

Posted by Debbye at 08:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 29, 2005

New London's Burning

Sept. 29 - Tuning Spork reports on some very interesting developments in New London following attempts to implement the Kelo decision (known to many of us as "that damned Supreme Court ruling which allowed scum-bag developers to steal honest people's homes") in New London's Burning.

Double heh.

Posted by Debbye at 07:06 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 25, 2005

Protests in Washington

Sept. 25 - I've been scratching my head trying to figure out what to post about the latest anti-war demonstrations but Ith puts it into wonderfully clear perspective in Expectation.

We have well-attended science fiction conventions in Toronto too! They last a few days as opposed to a few hours, so I totally expect commensurate news coverage.

Posted by Debbye at 11:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 24, 2005

So far so good

Sept. 24 - Hurricane Rita Hits Texas, Louisiana but thus far there have been no reports of fatalities directly attributable to the storm. It's not over yet and could still turn sour, but it looks as though the worst predictions have not materialized.

The second-guessing will be inevitable, but I'm from earthquake country and the idea that people actually have prior warning about the approach of a hurricane and can take measures to safeguard their lives and property makes me downright envious. I suppose it's just human nature to be irritated when precautions turn out to be unnecessary, but hey! we're alive, therefore we bitch.

Going further with a half-full glass stance, the evacuation of a city the size of Houston can be spelled opportunity as local, state and federal officials review evaluation reports and those lessons learned can provide invaluable information for all cities in the event they need to get millions of people out in the event of a natural or man-made catastrophe.

Media coverage of both Katrina and Rita have been much as we'd expect: breathless, drama-building reports from some poor schlubs who are forced to file their reports out of doors just so we can get a "feel" for what not having enough sense to come in out of the rain is like, but there have been some things they failed to report such as these:

Americans breathe a sigh of relief as
Texans stop bragging for 5 minutes...

Floridians count blessings...
Dems demand recount...

Check out a number of items that didn't make the press over at Countercolumn (and if you can take it, read about the sad and embittered race of men we call Logisticians.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 23, 2005

New Orleans flooded again

Sept. 23 - This was news I didn't expect to awaken to: the future of New Orleans and, worse, actually contemplating that rebuilding it might not be the best course, received another blow today with a new breach in the levee (Texas Braces for Catastrophe; New Orleans Flooding Again.)

I've always had a pet theory that inviting the newly-American inhabitants of the city to join us in fighting the British - and beating the Recoats soundly - brought New Orleans and Louisiana securely into the American fabric and reduced the abandonment many felt when Napoleon sold them along with the territory. We cannot think of Andrew Jackson without remembering Jean Lafite, and the Battle of New Orleans is remembered with a glory which is scarcely diminished even when we consider that it took place after a treaty had been signed.

Abandoning New Orleans is literally a case of abandoning an important part of our heritage and an integral part of the history of extending our borders from sea to sea.

And then there's the personal. So many of us have wonderful memories of the times we visited there (and sometimes the memories are the more cherished because we can't exactly remember!) furthering the dilemma beyond logic and reason. The cuisine. The music. The people. The mystique. New Orleans is part of the American soul in ways I can feel more than articulate.

I can't even imagine how those who call New Orleans home are feeling today, but maybe it is time to bite the bullet and make some hard calls. It is going to hurt. Deeply. Even thinking about it hurts. Part of me knows that with time we'll do what we've always done: cling to that part of the American spirit that has always held that a new future means a better future, but for now I thinks its permissible to grieve.

18:25 - The news out of New Orleans is getting worse. Thank God the city stayed closed, but spare a thought for the troops there.

Glad to see the President sensibly cancelled his trip to the region. People on the ground there have enough to contend with and don't need the security nightmare.

I finally received word that my Texas friends are safely out of Rita's path. I have to go to work tonight (although I really don't want to leave the storm watch) and I'll be holding my breath even though I know on most levels that we'll weather it.

I can't help thinking that the destruction wrought by the hurricanes have brought us together again. I don't mean the politicians and other Important People but just us, the normal, everyday American whom everyone takes for granted. The press was all a-twitter at the lapses at every level of government but for me, it just reinforced the soundness of the joke "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

Say a prayer for Texas. We owe them: the people of Houston electrified the nation when they strode in with a "we can help" attitude and gave refuge to thousands of NO Katrina survivors (and, more importantly, challenged other cities to do the same) and rekindled belief in something that we've seen too rarely in these modern times: neighbourly actions. Southern hospitality and Christian charity have combined to remind us (again) that we are a decent, good people and that we can help and stand by one another.

Posted by Debbye at 04:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 22, 2005

"Don't get stuck on stupid"

Sept. 22 - I heard Lt. Gen. Honore's (aka Ragin Cajun) now famous response last night on Fox just before I left for work. My first thought was of the jealousy that must be emanating from political officials everywhere (and that includes Don Rumsfeld, who to the best of my knowledge never used the "S" word) and my second thought was that this news conference highlights again how little the news media understand not only military matters but also those who lead the troops.

My third thought was that my kids (or anyone's kids) could have warned 'em that adults will not easily tolerate the same question a second - much less a third - time, and a general is The Adult in a room of adults.

The full impact of his words, however, contain a sharper rebuke (full transcript at Radio Blogger) than "being stuck on stupid." Seems that some in the news media just wouldn't accept their mission no matter how many times it was laid out for them and how urgent the matter was:

... You are carrying the message, okay?

... And we understand that there's a problem in getting communications out. That's where we need your help. But let's not confuse the questions with the answers.

... Let's not get stuck on the last storm. You're asking last storm questions for people who are concerned about the future storm. Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters. We are moving forward. And don't confuse the people please. You are part of the public message. So help us get the message straight. And if you don't understand, maybe you'll confuse it to the people. That's why we like follow-up questions. But right now, it's the convention center, and move on.

Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...

Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months. [Emphasis added]

The news media's help is urgently needed to get information to those who need assistance evacuating New Orleans. The message is simple and clear-cut. Heck, a 50's era movie would have shown reporters racing to the phones and the presses rolling.

It's not the first time that I've watched a press conference and, as I listened to reporter's questions, wondered if they had even listened to the speaker. What is wrong with those members of the news media who are flustered when asked to simply report vital information in the public interest? Does doing so upset their itsy bitsy apple carts?

Too bad the general couldn't tell the offending reporter(s) "Drop down and give me 50" (you know he wanted to.)

The incident seems underplayed today in the news as Rita closes in, but it won't be forgotten. Milibloggers cheer and salute, and it's being adopted as a new motto. One Canadian has seen its logical extention to public life and has challenged politicians to stand up and tell the truth and a staffer for at least one California politician seems to be making it part of a re-election campaign.

There is a very good "reverse fisking" by Jack Yoest. He makes a lot of points I wish I had thought of but he got there first and does it well.

Generation Why saved me the trouble of digging up two vastly contrasting photos which goes to show that wisdom can be gained by learning from the mistakes of others (link via One Hand Clapping.)

(Other links via Open Post at Mudville Gazette.)

I haven't been able to locate a reference to the press conference at the Department of Defense Katrina news page. It may be just a time lag thingy (they don't seem to have any information about the military role in the evacuation, either) or maybe some public relations types are trying to figure out if they should ignore it, note it, or stand pat until they see which way the wind blows.

Note to DoD: that genie left the bottle and took the cork with her. It ain't rocket science.

19:31 - Here's the link in Dan's comment to a prior case of plain talk by the Ragin Cajun (scroll down to Sept. 5 entry.) Logic tells me that many members of the press are just itching to play "gotcha" with the good general, but they are insufficiently aware of how much we Americans (and many Canadians) treasure blunt honesty. It may have taken over 30 years to sink in, but finally, somewhere, Spiro T. Agnew is smiling.

Posted by Debbye at 08:48 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 13, 2005

What Bush actually said

Sept. 13 - What CNN headlines: Bush: 'I take responsibility' for U.S. failures on Katrina.

What Bush said:

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government and to the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said during a joint news conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. (Emphasis added.)
This is as it should be, and the president is taking full responsibility for those things which are actually under federal control.

Had he intervened earlier and outside of the legal limits imposed on his office, of course, we'd probably be looking at the Dems building a case to impeach him.

In a bizarre twist, the one person who failed to take sufficient responsibility for saving lives is deeply concerned about the recovery of the dead: LA Gov. Kathleen Blanco is quoted in the same article criticizing "lack of urgency and lack of respect" recovering bodies of those who died.

I guess she really needs their votes for the next election.

Posted by Debbye at 02:52 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Umpires and judges

Sept. 14 - I feared that the John Roberts reference to baseball umpires was going to be a problem but I guess people really don't understand the game.

"Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules, they apply them," he said. "The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire."
He's right, so far as he goes, but the most contentious rulings umpires make are judgement calls - balls, strikes, safe, out, fair, foul, and even whether to invoke the Infield Fly Rule - and those are not to be questioned, discussed or argued over (unless you're eager for the hook.) Should the umpire get a rule wrong then the game can be played under protest (that must be stated before the next pitch) and, should the protest be upheld and it is found that the umpire's mistake affected the outcome adversely for the protester, the game can be replayed or picked up from the point of the protest if the game went enough innings to be considered a regulation game.

In other words, judges on appeal benches are more like the protest committee - but even the protest committee can't overturn judgement calls.

One more thing: the Official Baseball Rules are a lot longer than the U.S. Constitution.

A committee member (can't remember who) did pick up the baseball theme and pointed out that umpires don't make the rules but have to apply the definition of the strike zone as it is set out in the in the rules (see Definition of Terms which is Section 2.0 of the Official Baseball Rules and scroll down to "Strike.")

I really expected committee members and the gallery to burst out laughing at that point because an ongoing problem in MLB is precisely that far too many umpires are not giving the lower zone which is unfair to the pitcher.

Freakin' activist umpires.

Posted by Debbye at 01:39 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 11, 2005

Four years and a breath away

flag.jpg

(From Shattered, a series of stark photos by James Nachtwey.)

Sept. 11 - Americans were a different people four years ago, idly wondering how a plane could have wandered off course and hit one of the World Trade Towers. Within a few minutes, we were wiser.

My family will again make our annual pilgrimmage to the Toronto Consulate this afternoon. It's lonely; last year the flowers and memorials were few and the flag was flying at full mast, but the Canadian military college next door did have their flag at half-mast and that simple sign of respect reminded me that many Canadians do care and remember even as I felt abandoned by my own consulate.

So much has happened this past month. The Able Danger revelations, Katrina, and damning report on the administration of the Oil-for-Food program all lead to one inevitable conclusion: can a house so divided still stand?

If any good came out of Katrina, it was a reminder of the urgency of electing people who can make the hard calls, swallow their partisan pride, and get to work on the challenges at hand. The Democrats, who have long resented that a Republican was in the White House on Sept. 11, had a chance to prove their leadership mettle when Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent floods hit New Orleans and their failures served to remind me why I voted for George W.

The responsibilities of citizenship at the ballot box have been brought home in a way we never envisioned. The danger of overly partisan politics and whatever motives led Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco to stubbornly resist federal leadership brought so much pain and needless suffering to her constituency that words cannot express my contempt for those who are scrambling wildly to protect her but do bring new and frightening meaning to the phrase "miserable failure."

Bill Whittle's newest essay, Tribes, places the contrasts in sharp relief. Me? I don't know if I'm a sheep or a sheepdog, but suspect I'm a Molly Pitcher. Folks, there's more than enough work for willing hands.

A last but by no means the least tribute and prayers for the courageous crew and passengers of Flight 93. They saved America by reminding us of the great deeds that can come from previously nondescript citizens.

God Bless America. May we never forget the lessons we learned that day - not only about the enemy, but about ourselves.

16:44 - The flag at the Consulate was at half-mast this year, and I deeply thank the official who saw to what to me was an all important detail. Our flowers were the only ones left, but we went late in the afternoon and I am going to assume that previous tributes had been cleared away.

Posted by Debbye at 08:54 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 06, 2005

Ralph Peters on Iraq, the Kurds and the State Department

July 6 - Ralph Peters on Rogue Diplomats:

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

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

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

(Via Newsbeat1)

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

July 04, 2005

Bayonets!

Liberty bell.jpg

Image from Laser-buzz

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

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

From Bill Whittle's immortal essay History:

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

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

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

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

No one was on Little Round Top.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Let freedom ring!

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

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

Posted by Debbye at 06:02 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Godspeed, and Happy July 4th!

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

July 02, 2005

Oh, Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gettysburg and Vicksburg

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

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

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

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

A pack, not a herd

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

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

[...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 28, 2005

I wish I had me a Democrat to vote against!

June 28 - Sorry for the non-posting; I've been trying to get to sleep before the full heat of the day sets in but that means I wake up when the family starts drifting home and using the computer.

I have to work tonight so will miss the president's message, but there are some things I wish he would say in addition to those he is expected to say.

I wish he would start by reminding us of the feared casualty figures in the taking of Baghdad at the start of Iraqi Operation Freedom. You'll remember, I'm sure, the urban house-to-house fighting scenario that was envisioned; I don't remember exactly how many casualties were anticipated but it was in the five digit range.

We were prepared to accept those losses. What does it say about us that we were prepared to accept a huge number of casualties in the early days of the war but can't handle what are undeniably lower figures over a longer period?

I wish he would say that the anti-Iraqi forces too understand Vietnam Syndrome and that they know that the steady drip-drip of casualties sap at our will and fortitude. The only issue is if we will capitulate to it or, recognizing their strategy, remain implacable.

Nothing has changed in our reasons for trying to change the unchallenged rule by despots in the mid-east. The mission remains the same. It takes effort and will to endure in any long-term struggle, and we have those qualities within us and need only to marshall them.

I wish he would say that "everything" didn't change on Sept. 11; that day was simply one event in a series of attacks on the U.S. What did change is that we had a president who responded with more than words.

I wish he would then remind those indignant over Rove's remarks about the response of many liberals to Sept. 11 that those recollections were accurate, and that perhaps they doth protest too much and that should we revert to pre-Sept. 11 policies we would be making ourselves more, not less, vulnerable.

I wish he would explain to Barbara Boxer that the reason he is unable to get European allies to assist in Iraq is because they are more anxious to appease the Islamofascists than confront them. It's not a failure in American leadership but rather the timidity of a European leadership that has yet again failed to confront fascism.

I wish he would remind Sen. Clinton that she had her chance to influence American response to terror attacks during her eight years in the White House and that, given the abject failure of the Clinton administration to adequately respond to those attacks, shutting up might be a good plan.

I wish he would go off-topic and state that it is deeply stupid to start the 2008 presidential campaign now, and remind Democrats that they would be wiser to worry over the mid-term elections.

I wish he would tell the US media to lay off the round the clock coverage of the missing girl in Aruba.

Lastly, I wish he would denounce the "no trans fat" Oreo and urge legislation that declares the original Oreo to be a national treasure and forbid tampering with or altering it.

Posted by Debbye at 05:44 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 18, 2005

Explaining oneself

June 18 - Ex-pat Yank Robert Tumminello has written about the experience of living abroad during and after Sept. 11 and the accumulation of events that led to his becoming a blogger:

Yet what was also troubling was how so many in the British mass media were becoming increasingly at ease with "intellectuals", "scholars" and "activists" who possessed what can only be described as "interesting" takes on American policy and just about anything to do with Americans as people. Indeed, nothing was off limits: Americans are fat; they are idiots; they are racists; they are gun-lovers; they are hypocrites; they hate Muslims; they drive cars; the drive SUVs; they are Christians (oh, the horrors that some actually are Christians!). You name it. Of course, if an American so much as quietly mumbled "boo" about disagreeing with someone who thinks it's approved by a holy book to crash a hijacked plane suicidally into a building, he is deemed to be "intolerant".

There we were. Although the attitude was not universal of course, while in the U.S. during September and October 2001, as Americans tried to figure out what to do next and worried about what further attacks might be in the pipeline, in too much British and other media, Americans were simultaneously ceasing to be "people". Instead, Americans were more than ever before just human representatives of some Zionist-defending (or, just replace "Zionist" with a three letter word starting with "J"), environment rubbishing, globe-gobbling, imperialist corporate state. I also found increasingly that a large segment of the population here really did have no clue about America other than what they see and hear in that media. That is not a criticism; it's just a fact: Americans are, somehow, "a quick read"; everyone else in the world is, of course, "complex".

What the? Looking for somewhere sanity might be found (it sure wasn't in most newspapers, on radio, or TV), I retreated to the net. (Amazing that sentence, isn't it? Looking for sanity on the internet?)

I found this to be an absorbing read because it recounts a journey back to the common, American denominator without being maudlin or bitter.

Many of us have been surprised to find ourselves agreeing with the Republicans on a number of issues, and I think Robert summed up the reason:

While not a "conservative" technically, I believed -- and still do -- that we as Americans are all united by one thing: While we might argue over "policy A" or "policy B", overall America and democracy and freedom are worth defending. Period.

And I found that conservatives, far more than my liberal friends and increasingly even moderate Democrats, seemed to better understand that.

I don't recall "America, democracy and freedom are worth defending" being on the list when exit polls were conducted in the 2004 presidential election, and the fact that it wasn't reflects indicates just how out of touch pollsters are with those they presume to analyze and "explain."

If the American media and pollsters are that disconected with Americans, how can foreign media not amplify that disconnect?

Posted by Debbye at 07:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 15, 2005

Reclaiming Sept. 11 website

June 15 - It didn't take long for a website dedicated to reclaiming the Sept. 11 memorial on behalf of those intended to be honoured to appear. You can visit Take Back The Memorial for the latest news on this project.

The opening statement says it all and with better restrained fury than I am capable of summoning.

It struck me that my letter(s) should properly go to the U.S. Ambassador to Canada and the U.S. Department of State.

Other ex-pats might want to consider a similar recourse.

Posted by Debbye at 05:28 AM | Comments (0)

The future of the U.N. (updated)

June 15 - First the past: Two E-Mails Contradict Annan on Oil-for-Food. Heh.

The June 13 NY Times previews a report from a Congressional committee on the U.N. which in its wording clarifies what the U.N. is:

In judging the United Nations and its lapses, the task force said it had focused on the responsibilities of the states making up the institution rather than just the institution itself.

"On stopping genocide," the report said, "too often 'the United Nations failed' should actually read 'members of the United Nations blocked or undermined action by the United Nations.' "

In other words, the U.N. is only as good as the members, and the majority of member countries are dictatorships.
In a foreword to the report, Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Mitchell said they were "struck by the United Nations' own receptivity to needed reforms" but added that the changes "must be real and must be undertaken promptly."

[,,,]

While the report noted the damage caused by the [U.N. Oil-for-food] scandals, it stressed that one of the consequences was that the United Nations' top leadership realized the need to make fundamental changes. "Real change may now be possible without resorting to the stick of U.S. financial withholding," the report said.

In its only reference to Mr. Annan's term in office, it said that a "fundamental criterion" in selecting his successor when his term is completed at the end of 2006 should be "management capability."

The report said that the institution's current problems stemmed from the politicization and bureaucratic unwieldiness of decision-making in the General Assembly and Security Council and "absurd level of member state micromanagement" as much as they do from failures in Mr. Annan's leadership.

While crediting Mr. Annan with proposing changes, the report faulted him for lack of follow-through. "The secretary general has often put forward good-sounding reform proposals then failed to push hard against predictable resistance from staff and member states," it says.

06:10: The Opinion Journal weighs in on John Bolton's potential confirmation vote today and how the proposed reforms may be the U.N.'s last chance.

Posted by Debbye at 03:55 AM | Comments (1)

Protecting the border

June 15 - Canada: Armed Agents Needed on U.S. Border:

While U.S. Border Patrol agents along the frontier are armed, officers of the Canada Border Services Agency are not allowed to carry firearms. They currently are instructed to call the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or local police if they run into a threat and, as officers testified before the committee, that help is often extremely slow in coming.

"The committee has reluctantly come to the conclusion that if the federal government is not willing or able to provide a constant police presence at Canada's border crossings, current border inspectors must be given the option of carrying firearms," the report says. (Emphasis added)

Ouch.
Another proposal calls for Canada to allow up to $2,000 in duty-free goods from the United States by 2010, freeing up customs agents to focus on potential threats to security rather than acting as tax collectors.

"Canada needs a system within which personnel on the crossings are border officers first and clerks second — the reverse of the current situation," the report says. "Raising personal exemptions for travelers will help border officers better direct their attention to border security rather than revenue collection." (Emphasis added)

Double ouch.

Posted by Debbye at 02:52 AM | Comments (1)

June 08, 2005

Reclaiming Sept. 11

June 8 - Debra Burlingame, the sister of the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame III, writes The Great Ground Zero Heist for today's Opinion Journal and states what should be obvious:

The so-called lessons of September 11 should not be force-fed by ideologues hoping to use the memorial site as nothing more than a powerful visual aid to promote their agenda. Instead of exhibits and symposiums about Internationalism and Global Policy we should hear the story of the courageous young firefighter whose body, cut in half, was found with his legs entwined around the body of a woman. Recovery personnel concluded that because of their positions, the young firefighter was carrying her.

The people who visit Ground Zero in five years will come because they want to pay their respects at the place where heroes died. They will come because they want to remember what they saw that day, because they want a personal connection, to touch the place that touched them, the place that rallied the nation and changed their lives forever. I would wager that, if given a choice, they would rather walk through that dusty hangar at JFK Airport where 1,000 World Trade Center artifacts are stored than be herded through the International Freedom Center's multi-million-dollar insult. (Emphasis added)
She concludes
Ground Zero has been stolen, right from under our noses. How do we get it back?
I've been struggling since I saw this item early this morning to find the right words about this, but I keep coming back to my initial impression.

Those who call themselves intellectuals habitually climb onto the corpses of true heroes and cynically exploit them to advance ideas that have little to do with those things that motivate heroes.

It's not elegant phrasing, but it's how I feel. Am I wrong?

There are an impressive series at links at Mudville Gazette on this controversy and, given those who are rallying behind this cause, this is one formidable group of people who will not be deterrred.

Time to reclaim Sept. 11.

Posted by Debbye at 08:51 PM | Comments (5)

HR committee passes bill on reforming the U.N.

June 8 - By a vote of 25-22, the House International Relations Committee passed a U.N. Reform Bill, short-titled The United Nations Reform Act of 2005 (.pdf) which ties U.S. funding of the U.N. to reforms in that institution.

From Fox,

Among the reforms demanded are new accountability measures, the establishment of an independent oversight board with broad investigative authority through the Office of Internal Oversight Services and new procedures to protect whistleblowers. The OIOS, under the bill, would have the authority to initiate investigations into mismanagement and wrongdoing, establish procedures to protect U.N. employees or contractors who report allegations of misconduct and establish policies to end single-bid contracts.
I guess it hardly need be noted that many of those reforms are also needed in Canada.
"Scandals involving the Oil-for-Food program, peacekeeping operations, the World Meteorological Society, the World Intellectual Property Organization, as well as alleged wrongdoing by high-level staff have illustrated the systemic weaknesses in the U.N.'s current oversight efforts," reads a statement from Hyde's office outlining the bill's main points.

U.S. lawmakers also want new rules for financial disclosure, including forcing senior U.N. officials to declare their financial interests. They also are asking for an ethics office to be created to ensure those officials don't take advantage of their position overseeing certain measures to line their own pockets.

The reform act also insists on more stringent codes of conduct for U.N. peacekeepers and stronger investigation of allegations of rape and abuse on U.N. missions. It mandates that the United Nations adopt a single, enforceable, uniform code of conduct for all personnel serving in peacekeeping missions and that peacekeepers are trained on the requirements of that code. The code also should be translated into the native language of the peacekeeping troops, the bill says.

Additionally, the Hyde bill calls for the creation of a centralized database to track cases of misconduct to make sure those individuals aren't sent on future peacekeeping missions. Alleged misconduct should be independently investigated by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Office of Internal Oversight Services, according to the bill.

Democrats opposing the bill believed that the reforms should not be tied to U.S. funding.

U.N. officials responded as one might expect:

The United Nations would not comment on specific reforms, but U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the organization itself have been "very clear" on the issue of tying U.S. funds to U.N. reform and that "withholding as a tool for reform is not one we feel works."

Posted by Debbye at 06:21 PM | Comments (6)

May 30, 2005

Memorial Day, 2005

Tomb of the Unknowns.jpg
Tomb of the Unknowns
Photo from US Memorial Day images (1993 Smithsonian Institute.)

May 30 - Memorial Day was officially proclaimed in 1868 to honour those who died during the Civil War. After World War I it was changed to honour all Americans who died fighting in any war.

It is a day of sorrow and joy, grief and dedication, humility and pride. It has taken renewed meaning these past four years because we have lost good men and women in action and each loss means an empty chair at the family table.

The Tomb of the Unknowns holds a special poignancy. Their honour guard has patrolled every day, night and day, since 1930 and the nation was reminded of their dedication when, in 2003, they refused the order to evacuate during Hurricane Isabel with the sturdy reply "No way, Sir!".

Today we honour those who gave their lives in defense of our freedom whether their names be known to us or "but to God."

Greyhawk has a series of posts to honour Memorial Day starting here and down. Some of those he honours this day are Maria Ruzicka, Margaret Hassan, Italian Brigadier Giuseppe Coletta, Air Force Technical Sgt. John A. Chapman and Rick Rescorla.

If you read nothing else, read the posts dedicated to Rick Rescorla here and here. I don't know if heroes are made or born, but Mr. Rescorla was not only a war hero but was also a hero in his civilian life: he got 2,600 employees of Dean Whittier to safety on Sept. 11. He was lost that day because he went back upstairs in an effort to get more people out.

Rolling Thunder has become a uniquely American addition to Memorial Day since it first roared into D.C. in 1988 to honour those killed in Vietnam and MIAs from all conflicts.

(The photo at the link, by the way, is of Air Force Gen. Richard B. Meyers and his wife, Mary Jo, riding to the Pentagon to join the rally. Never do anything by halves!)

God bless the men and women who chose to serve their country. They ask so little, only that we remember and support them, and in return they are willing to give so much.

On this day we should dedicate ourselves to try and be worthy of them.

11:47 Jeff Jacoby writes about Sgt. Rafael Peralta of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines.

The Korean War movie The Bridges at Toko-Ri ends with the question Where do we find such men? After reading Jacoby I suddenly realized that we don't; they find us.

A tribute at Legacy.com: In Remembrance (link via Michelle Malkin, who also has some other wonderful links for Memorial Day here.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:13 AM | Comments (4)

May 29, 2005

The Librano family business

May 29 - Ben Macintyre writes tongue in cheek for the London Times on the Canadian-American and French-British rivalries in Everybody needs bad neighbours:

In our thoroughly globalised world, the US and Canada, France and Britain, cling anachronistically to their singular, ancient rivalries. Australia and New Zealand look further afield than each other for economic comparisons; Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan do not expend energy anxiously surveying their respective sex lives. But the English Channel and the US border with Canada remain the distorting, two-way mirrors through which these neighbours perceive themselves.
He emphasizes his point that the British-French rivalry is of the sibling order by a quote from columnist Claude Imbert in Le Point "To those French who still believe that Britain is a former Norman colony that went wrong ..." Ouch. We credit the Normans with doubling the English language and introducing chimneys but tend to believe the invaders were, in due time, anglicized, and can always view Shakespeare's account of the Battle of Agincourt in Henry V with some pride so long as we can gather our coats and file out of the theatre thus missing the final lines on the failure of the next generation to retain what Henry V won.

Americans and Canadians will, at the drop of a hat, bring up the War of 1812 and work backward to 1776 to present our list of grievances, but that list seems downright contemporary compared to two countries who can begin theirs in 1066.

Macintyre is looking at a bigger picture set in European terms and his conclusions are interesting but he doesn't address (or perhaps even know about) the impact of Adscam on Canadian thinking and sensibilities.

The family nature of U.S. and Canadian relations is one that we tend to rush past and it has been made easier by the wholesale re-write of history which de-emphasizes British rule and influence up here in order to side-step the end of French rule at the Plains of Abraham (Canada's Culloden, if you will) which brought a reluctant step-brother into the family.

The current scandel proves the point that we can re-write history but we can't undo it. Adscam is directly related to (if only because it formed the pretext for) anglo- and franco-Canadian relations, and many of us are re-examining our former attitudes to the cause of Quebec sovereignty and recognizing that the exposure of how basely that issue was manipulated by the Liberal Party in their pursuit of one-party rule justifies Quebec outrage and, further, may have irreparably damaged prospects for a truly united Canada.

The divide-and-conquer strategy of the Libranos is being exposed, and some are beginning to realize that the implications go far beyond Quebec and permeate the very weave of today's Canada.

Every time Bombardier is granted a contract there are grumblings in Ontario, but which profit most when the contracts are awarded to Quebec: Quebeckers or those who own Bombardier? It's past time to get deeply suspicious of the quasi-Socialist pretentions of the Libranos and look closer at who gains from these contracts. If it is done in the name of national, or family, unity, then why are the kids bickering?

Once the Libranos decided that they were the natural governing party of Canada and set about to do whatever they could to assert their rule they forgot the danger that the kids might get together and compare notes. Some are noticing that one family analogy which may fit is that of a parent who purposefully incites quarrels between the adult children in order keep them bitterly divided and, in the case of a wealthy family with sizeable assets, ensures they will continue to pander to the parent in order to get what they perceive to be their rightful shares.

But Quebec and the West have had enough and, within their own families, are seriously thinking of getting out of the family business and setting up their own. Ontario is the "good eldest child" -- compliant and obediently determined to uphold the patriarch's dominance (although it privately feels that it should get more for its loyalty than the parent is alloting) and is so invested in the family business that it tends to dismiss the mutterings of those who wonder if the price of unity is worth the cost of their dignity.

Like many parents, the Libranos shrug aside the signs of rebellion, thinking that "kids will be kids," and forgetting that the blind love of children for the parent is replaced by a more critical view once the kids grow up. Should the judgement be that the parental unit makes decisions more for its own benefit than that of the family as a whole then the justification for maintaining family unity is lost.

They played a good hand when they projected Paul Martin in the role of the sympathetic "other" parent and, by seeming to overthrew Chretien's iron rule, he gained some traction by apologizing to the kids for taking them and their contributions for granted and promising to address their concerns and to treat them with more respect, fix the democratic deficit, and distribute more of the profits from the family business.

But then the family quarrel was aired in the Commons, and the Libranos retained power by marrying both the NDP and Belinda Stronach and pre-emptively gave a larger share of the profits to the kids. Martin thus, to all appearances, retained control as this placated some of them, but there is a limit to how often that strategy can be successfully employed.

He will likely take the opportunity at the next family gathering (which would be the next election) to praise the children profusely and humbly, and this will work only to the extent that the kids are denied a thorough understanding of the business accounts for the family in part because foundations which receive federal money are not accountable for how they spend that money.

There is another who wishes to be made head of the family, and some of the siblings use their distrust or dislike of Harper as a pretext for their continued support for the Libranos, but I am genuinely perplexed that, by inference, Joe Clark is somehow be seen as more likeable and charismatic than Harper.

[In contrast, President Bush has many qualities I admire but even I wouldn't call him charismatic. My support for him stems from support for his policies, so his personal appeal is not even a factor. The same can be said for Australian PM Howard.]

I also fail to see how anyone can pretend that Paul Martin has personal appeal, and I am stunned that people still worry about the "hidden agenda" of the Conservative Party when, should the allegations at the Gomery Inquiry be proven, it would seem that it is the Libranos who had the hidden agenda and it was to enrich themselves and their friends at public expense rather than anything that resembled governance.

Oddly enough, it may be the experience of living under Liberal despotism that causes fears about the Conservatives; people may believe that the CPC is as capable of forcing unpopular legislation through Parliament as the Liberals.

I hope the Conservatives use the next period to craft and state their policies. Their failure to do so is probably due more to being a new party and needing to have those kind of discussions among their members but Eastern voters are not likely to buy another pig in a poke.

Canadians are facing a dilemma of another sort though when the media projects the value of personal appeal over policies. Is it possible to maintain illusions once the blinkers are off? The polls seem to say yes, and that is the challenge for both the Libranos and the opposition parties - everywhere except Quebec, that is. They, at least, had the grace to feel insulted by the bribery, and rightly wonder how much the rest of the family truly values them when the others don't share in that outrage.

And that's the real pity.

(Links via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:46 PM | Comments (6)

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 25, 2005

Rumsfield gave ok to shooting plane down

May 25 - US military had OK to shoot errant plane.

Yes Rummy! I had no doubt.

Pilot Hayden "Jim" Sheaffer told NBC on Tuesday he thought he was going to be "shot out of the sky."
Damned freaking straight. My deepest regret is that they didn't shoot one across the proverbial bow as a stern warning to any who might come after.

Solution: Fly a banner from the Washington Monument. It will say:

IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU HAVE 0 SECONDS TO TURN AROUND OR YOU WILL BE SHOT DOWN.

I have not posted about this before because I have been in a hot rage: the passengers on Flight 93 gave their lives to protect D.C.

That is OUR capitol and it damned well will be defended.

You know what I'm saying.

May 27 - Rummy says he didn't. Rats.

Posted by Debbye at 10:12 AM | Comments (11)

May 15, 2005

March Against Terror

May 15 - Local group leads march against terror

About 50 people converged on Freedom Plaza for the "March Against Terror," an event organized by Free Muslims Against Terrorism, supporters of freedom and democracy in the Middle East and the entire Muslim community.

"We have to be honest; we have a problem with extremism, and the Muslim leadership in this country has totally failed us," said Kamal Nawash, leader of the year-old organization.

Mr. Nawash, 35, a Palestinian-born lawyer who has become a U.S. citizen, is a former candidate for the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates. He and his organization, which promotes a secular interpretation of Islam, has generated a national profile in the past year by participating in hundreds of radio and television interviews.
[...]

"It starts with just a few people, so I'm not worried about the number" in attendance, said Mr. Hashim El-Tinay, founder and president of the Salam Sudan Foundation. "It's more about the quality of leadership."

Mr. Nawash ran unsuccessfully for the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates in the past, which has led to accusations about his political agenda, but he seems to have a bigger picture in mind - breaking the monopoly over entrenched groups in Muslim communities.

I don't know very much about Free Muslims Against Terrorism but they have posted this on their site:

Free Muslims promotes a modern secular interpretation of Islam which is peace-loving, democracy-loving and compatible with other faiths and beliefs. Free Muslims' efforts are unique; it is the only mainstream American-Muslim organization willing to attack extremism and terrorism unambiguously.
Note that last word: unambiguously. Read the items on the site and decide for yourselves.

Posted by Debbye at 12:22 PM | Comments (2)

May 12, 2005

Milblogs featured in USA Today

May 12 - Very supportive USA Today article about how 'Milbloggers' are typing their place in history with appearances by Greyhawk and Jason Van Steenwyk, to mention two bloggers I read regularly.

The news we get from soldiers on the ground cannot be underestimated as it is often posted before the media gets around to reporting it, and Milblogs serve another function, at least from the standpoint of this civilian: it is a way to communicate support (I mean real support) directly to those who protect our nation and let them know that the "even-handed" oh-that-liberal-media doesn't speak for us.

We're on our soldiers' side and damned proud of them and the job they're doing. The vote last November honoured a pledge to our military personnel - they knew it and we knew it.

(Via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:06 AM | Comments (7)

May 08, 2005

Victor David Hanson

May 8 - From the man, Victor Davis Hanson, On Being Disliked on National Review Online:

Personally, I'd rather live in a country that goes into an anguished national debate over pulling the plug on a lone woman than one that blissfully vacations on the beach oblivious to 15,000 elderly cooked to well done back in Paris.
(Link via Italics Mine, who's on tear of his own in Beauty may be only skin deep, but stupidity ...

Posted by Debbye at 06:46 PM | Comments (2)

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)

May 05, 2005

A tale of two pictures

May 5 - There's a picture in Canada's new War Museum that has stirred some controversy. Peter Worthington writes:

Prominently displayed in the new Canadian War Museum, which opens to the public next week, is a 10-foot painting of a Canadian soldier choking a young and bloodied Somali prisoner with a baton.

[...]

Why is this painting in the War Museum?

While the purpose of the new War Museum is not to glorify war, surely its intent isn't to belittle and depict Canadian soldiers as murderers?

Read the whole thing. Peter is admirably restrained in it.

The CBC is also covering the dismay of Veterans groups over the inclusion of the infamous picture and has a response from the artist:

The artist, Gertrude Kearns, said these two paintings deal with the theme of how Canadian soldiers deal with the psychological toll of modern warfare.

She said a committee, which included several veterans, approved her concept.

"These particular works, the ones in the museum, are about conscience. They're also about complexity," said Kearns.

She wants conscience and complexity? If the horrors of Nazi Germany are too simple, she might try this:

GI and dying Iraqi girl 0_22_450_baby.jpg
Michael Yon

Eager to get to and kill U.S. soldiers, Michael Moore's "Minutemen" plowed through a crowd of children who were playing in the street.

They "got to them" all right, and gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "human shields."

Is that "complex" enough?

Amy Bieger, wife of Maj. Mark Bieger (the soldier in the above photo) is interviewed here.

(NY Post and CBC links and photo via Neale News.)

11:59 - Paul has a lot more to say on the Canadian War Museum's choice of pictures and connects this fiasco to the cheapening of the English language.

14:11 From this post by Michelle Malkin I've learned that the photographer, Michael Yon, has a blog and he has a very moving post titled simply Little Girl. His final line on the eager murderers is "Their day will come."

So say we all.

Posted by Debbye at 10:59 AM | Comments (4)

April 20, 2005

Oklahoma City

Apr. 20 - I couldn't post anything coherent about the tenth anniversary of the Murrah Building yesterday.

This image is permanently engraved on my memory. What could I or anyone say to make it better?

I didn't post anything about the events in Waco 12 years ago either. There isn't a heart-wrenching photo, but the 21 dead children also had lives that should never have ended so abruptly.

Someone once characterized the attack on Waco as the Clinton administration's response to the first bombing of the World Trade Centre. That seems about right.

If God is merciful he'll eventually help me forgive Janet Reno and Timothy McVeigh. Please.

10:51 I missed another very important anniversary yesterday - the 63rd of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Thanks to Kateland and her Remembrance of those who did not go gently into that good night - a timely reminder that sometimes fighting back is an end unto itself and that even when we go into dubious battle it must - no, it does - suffice.

That post is a must read. Let the photos tell the story.

The bombing of the Murrah Building and the Waco attacks mean something to us because they happened within our living memories, but the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is more important because we urgently need to remember why "Never Again" matters - we already have the genocides of Rwanda and Sudan in our living memory yet turn away too hastily and risk the repitition of of watching more genocides and why? because we are faint-hearted. Because we rely on others to make the hard calls, and when those others are the U.N., we have an easy out but that damned conscience thing ... it never heard of international law either.

We have forgotten so much these past decades. Never again.

Posted by Debbye at 09:41 AM | Comments (1)

April 17, 2005

The iconic Ann Coulter

Apr. 17 - Time Canada on Ann Coulter. Good read thus far (I'm only on page 3.)

(Via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2005

Don't f*** with Great-grandma

Apr. 16 - Great Granny Guns Would-Be Thief

Posted by Debbye at 09:49 AM | Comments (1)

April 15, 2005

Expos Nats begin new season

Bush throws first pitch Nats openerr1996007899.jpg
Neale News

Apr. 15 - I just have to note this moment in history. We have a good friend who is still a diehard Senators fan (he even wrote and published a book about them) and Mark has long bewailed the lack of support for the Expos, who consistently played better than their payroll warranted, so now there a cosmic merging of The Underappreciated and The Arcane as the legacy of the Expos and Senators combine to create the Nationals.

Great article in the Washington Times about the President's intense preparation before throwing the initial pitch including the fact that he warmed up before taking the mound. Guess only women who love baseball lovers would understand, but I just know he constantly peppered Laura with the all-important question: slider or a fastball?

The Times says "It was a fastball. A ball. High and inside to a phantom right-handed batter." Mark said the catcher called it a strike, and I made the error of observing that, sans batter and umpire, it can't be anything because without the latter, It ain't nothing until he calls it.

Mark replied smugly, "The catcher knows" which in itself is a bit of a switch as Mark rarely admits to pitcher error on a wild pitch because it's the catcher's job to catch whatever is thrown. So now a catcher is all-wise and all-knowing? (Of course, Mark was not only a pitcher but a southpaw to boot which are two strikes against his sanity.)

I'm a baseball fan, but I'm not as fanatic as certain people like someone sitting 10 feet away who reads baseball blogs but doesn't read mine ...

Charles Krathammer tries to figure out why he cares about 25 guys he doesn't even know:

It is one thing to root for your son's Little League team. After all, he is your kid, and you paid for his glove -- and uniform, helmet, bat, and, when he turns 9, cup. You have a stake in him, and by extension his team.

But what possible stake do grown men have in the fortunes of 25 perfect strangers, vagabond mercenaries paid obscene sums to play a game for half the year?

The whole thing is completely irrational. For me, this is no mere abstract question. I have been a baseball fan most of my life. I could excuse the early years, the Mantle-Maris era, as mere childish hero worship. But what excuse do I have now? Why should I care about these tobacco-spitting, crotch-adjusting multimillionaires who have never heard of me and would not care if I was dispatched to my maker by an exploding scoreboard?

[...]

Presto. It is 1975 all over again. I begin to care. I want them to win. Why? I have no idea. I begin following day games on the Internet. I've punched not one but two preset Nationals stations onto my car radio. I'm aghast. I'm actually invested in the day-to-day fortunes of 25 lugheads I never heard of until two weeks ago.

The Washington Senators were often observed to be First in war, first in peace, and last in the American league. If only for the sakes of Tom, Mark, George and Charles, I hope the Nationals have a terrific season and make 'em proud.

Apr. 16 - 08:34: Sorry, forgot link to Krauthammer's column. Fixed now.

Posted by Debbye at 07:50 PM | Comments (4)

American arrest in U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal

Apr. 15 - David Bay Chalmers Jr. of Bayoil U.S.A. was charged yesterday in Iraq Oil Sales by Hussein Aides.:

In an indictment, federal authorities in New York said David Bay Chalmers Jr., a Houston oil businessman, and his company, Bayoil U.S.A., made millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks to the Iraqi government while trading oil under the $65 billion aid program.

Separate charges were brought against Tongsun Park, a millionaire South Korean businessman, for acting as an unregistered lobbyist for Iraq in behind-the-scenes negotiations in the United States to set up and shape the United Nations program. The criminal complaint said Mr. Park received at least $2 million in secret payments from Mr. Hussein's government for serving as a liaison between Iraqi and United Nations officials.

Mr. Park was at the center of a lobbying scandal in the 1970's, when he was accused of paying bribes to lawmakers in Washington to secure support for loans to South Korea.

[...]

The authorities not only charged that Bayoil made illegal payments to secure Iraqi oil, but also that it conspired to artificially lower the price Iraq received, depriving the Iraqi people of money for sorely needed items. The charges also disclosed new information about an alleged plan to pay senior United Nations officials to influence the course of the program.

Catherine M. Recker, a lawyer for Mr. Chalmers, said the Bayoil defendants and the company would plead not guilty and "vigorously dispute" the criminal charges.

According to federal authorities and the complaint against Mr. Park, he was a partner in the lobbying effort with Samir Vincent, an Iraqi-American businessman who pleaded guilty in January to illegal lobbying for Iraq.

Mr. Vincent, who is cooperating with federal investigators, said Iraqi officials signed agreements in 1996 to pay him and Mr. Park $15 million for their lobbying, the complaint says.

One of their tasks was "to take care of" a high-ranking United Nations official, which Mr. Vincent understood to mean to pay bribes, the complaint says. The authorities did not identify or bring charges against the United Nations official. (Emphasis added)

[...]

David N. Kelley, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan, said the complaint alleges that Mr. Park intended to bribe the official, but does not show that the official received any bribe.

The complaint also charges that Mr. Park met with a second unnamed senior United Nations official, once in a restaurant in Manhattan. After that, Mr. Park said he invested $1 million he had been paid by Iraq in a Canadian company belonging to the son of the second United Nations official, the complaint says.

Mr. Kelley declined to say whether the officials were still actively serving at the world organization. He said, however, that the investigation was "broad and large" and that his office would "wring the towel dry" in pursuing United Nations officials. (Emphasis added.)

The story in the Washington Post says much the same:
A federal grand jury in Manhattan charged that David B. Chalmers Jr., founder of Houston-based Bayoil USA Inc. and Bayoil Supply & Trading Limited; Ludmil Dionissiev, a Bulgarian citizen who lives in Houston; and John Irving, a British oil trader, funneled millions of dollars in kickbacks through a foreign front company to an Iraqi-controlled bank account in the United Arab Emirates. If convicted, the three men could each be sentenced to as long as 62 years in prison, $1 million in fines, and the seizure of at least $100 million in personal and corporate assets.

The federal complaint against Park charges that he received a total of $2 million in cash from Iraq, including a fee to "take care" of an unnamed U.N. official. It also states that Park invested $1 million in Iraqi money in a Canadian company owned by the son of another unknown, "high-ranking" U.N. official. Park could face as long as five years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000 or twice the value of profits he earned as a result of his alleged activities. (Emphasis added.)

The Telegraph (UK) has a fairly terse article on the arrests.

Thus far I've only found coverage of the arrests in The Globe and Mail which covers the arrest but as of 5:41 a.m. didn't report the allegations of a Canadian connection but does report that U.N. officials may be connected to these arrests:

The reference in the complaint against Mr. Park to two mystery high-ranking UN officials sparked widespread speculation in UN corridors of possible names.

Mr. Kelley, pressed repeatedly by reporters at a news conference to say whether U.N. officials had actually received money tied to Mr. Park, would say only that that issue was not part of the indictment.

Any Canadian who read the NY Times or Washington Post today is probably speculating too!

The U.N. is claiming that the Americans and British were perfectly aware of the violations of the sanctions but refused to order their ships in the Persian Gulf to stop oil tankers heading for Turkish and Jordanian ports with illicit Iraqi oil. I have read reports that trucks loaded with illegally purchased oil from Iraq went to Turkey and Jordan (that became common knowledge after Operation Iraqi Freedom and the public learned just how corrupt OFF - or Oil for Palaces - really was) but I don't understand why oil headed for Jordan or Turkey would use rather lengthy sea lanes when they border Iraq and could drive it in.

Maybe Annan was thinking of Syria, a member of the U.N. Security Council, but, again, the oil was not transported by sea but by pipeline, two of which were turned off when U.S. troops got to them. Maybe he just forgot.

11:30 - Glenn Reynolds has lots of links on the arrests.

Apr. 16 - 10:05: FoxNews has no additional information on U.N. Official No. 1 and Official No. 2.

Posted by Debbye at 10:19 AM | Comments (8)

April 14, 2005

David Brooks, meet Wretchard

Aprl. 14 - David Brooks has a straight-forward style that I really love. He uses words like "squishier" and phrases like "arcane fudges" that cut across the blather of nuance - which is basically the art of saying nothing but to say it well - and makes his points squarely and unequivocally.

Today's column is a gem (Loudly, With a Big Stick.) In the course of explaining why John Bolton will make a terrific Ambassador to the U.N., (he's there to represent the U.S.A., remember?) he explains why Americans will never accept some lofty world government and, at the risk of breaking a great many trans-nationalist hearts, exposes the primary reasons why people who love liberty and self-rule would never accept it either.

We'll never accept it, first, because it is undemocratic. It is impossible to set up legitimate global authorities because there is no global democracy, no sense of common peoplehood and trust. So multilateral organizations can never look like legislatures, with open debate, up or down votes and the losers accepting majority decisions.

Instead, they look like meetings of unelected elites, of technocrats who make decisions in secret and who rely upon intentionally impenetrable language, who settle differences through arcane fudges. Americans, like most peoples, will never surrender even a bit of their national democracy for the sake of multilateral technocracy.

Second, we will never accept global governance because it inevitably devolves into corruption. The panoply of U.N. scandals flows from a single source: the lack of democratic accountability. These supranational organizations exist in their own insular, self-indulgent aerie.

We will never accept global governance, third, because we love our Constitution and will never grant any other law supremacy over it. Like most peoples (Europeans are the exception), we will never allow transnational organizations to overrule our own laws, regulations and precedents. We think our Constitution is superior to the sloppy authority granted to, say, the International Criminal Court.

Fourth, we understand that these mushy international organizations liberate the barbaric and handcuff the civilized. Bodies like the U.N. can toss hapless resolutions at the Milosevics, the Saddams or the butchers of Darfur, but they can do nothing to restrain them. Meanwhile, the forces of decency can be paralyzed as they wait for "the international community."

Fifth, we know that when push comes to shove, all the grand talk about international norms is often just a cover for opposing the global elite's bêtes noires of the moment - usually the U.S. or Israel. We will never grant legitimacy to forums that are so often manipulated for partisan ends.

The last paragraph is direct:
Sometimes it takes sharp elbows to assert independence. But this is certain: We will never be so seduced by vapid pieties about global cooperation that we'll join a system that is both unworkable and undemocratic.
"Vapid pieties!" Alas, I know them well. I've encountered most of them living in a member of the Axis of Weasels and Adscam Country.

With a terrific sense of contrast, Wrethard examines the French disenchantment with the EU Constitution taking a Guardian article as his base line and expands it into a post that parallels the Brooks column which, although they pursue different paths, come to similar conclusions about the sense of what it is to be a "nationality."

He calls passage of the EU Constitution a "Faustian bargain"

{French] People are beginning to understand the document before them but the political salesmen are determined to offer any combination of rebates, coupons, special offers and financing to get the final signature on the contract of sale. Stephen Benet's "The Devil and Daniel Webster" speaks of the belated remorse that so often follows Faustian bargains, though like as not there will be no reprieve from the consequences of this deal.
There is no Plan "B" to ratifying the Constituion, so "the field [is] open to the first European leader able to articulate a viable and alternative trajectory for the nations of the old continent."

Although Wretchard explains a great many economic and political reasons why the French might reject the EU Constitution, I believe the answer may be far more basic: they don't want to stop being that indefinable thing that makes them unique which would happen were they to relinquish self-rule.

I think the French (as are the British, Dutch, and most especially the Eastern European countries who are unwilling to trade Soviet dominance for French dominance) are actually expressing a yearning they dare not admit to because it would make them just like us Yanks: love of country, love of those intrinsic matters that define them as unique, and love of being (don't laugh) French.

[Note the final paragraph in the Guardian article! They feel they need to cheat to win, which is most definitely not a sign of confidence.]

Posted by Debbye at 07:23 AM | Comments (2)

Neo-Nazi Wolfgang Droege

Apr. 14 - Neo-Nazi Wolfgang Droege was shot and killed last night in east Toronto.

My only comment is that this guy only got 3 years for trying to overthrow the government of Dominica, but got 13 years for cocaine possession and weapons possession in Alabama. Something is wrong with that! Dominica sounds rather interesting; the website I googled says

Dominica was the last of the Caribbean islands to be colonized by Europeans, due chiefly to the fierce resistance of the native Caribs. France ceded possession to Great Britain in 1763, which made the island a colony in 1805. In 1980, two years after independence, Dominica's fortunes improved when a corrupt and tyrannical administration was replaced by that of Mary Eugenia CHARLES, the first female prime minister in the Caribbean, who remained in office for 15 years. Some 3,000 Carib Indians still living on Dominica are the only pre-Columbian population remaining in the eastern Caribbean.
The Toronto Sun article has a "man who repented" air about it, but I'm adding the CTV link from Flea, who says exactly what I want to say and who had a run-in with the man.

I know the KuKluxKlan has tried to project a new image and that there are always fools who will be taken in by their b.s., but to me they are always the Democratic Rifle Club that was formed shortly after the Civil War and used murderous means to intimidate and deny enfranchised African-Americans their legally constituted civil rights. (Only one google reference. What do they teach in schools these days?)

I've filed this under the "Canada" category because I don't have one for "Sick Bastards Who Finally Died and Went to Hell" and under USA because I don't have one for "I don't believe in hate speech laws but I do affirm my right to get in your face and call you out when you preach that kind of crap."

Posted by Debbye at 06:51 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2005

American women win hockey gold

Apr. 10 - The 2005 world championship game between the Canadian and American women's hockey teams was scoreless in regulation and overtime so the matter was settled in what the writer refers to as a "questionable way" to win and what others of us (on our mild days) call "unsporting and fraking ugly" -- a stupid shootout.

Canada had won 8 consectuive titles and the U.S. had a run of silver until this championship tournament.

There was one cool note in the story:

Kazakhstan upset Russia 2-1 in the relegation game, sending the Russians to the second-tier or world women's B championship in 2007.
Heh.

Posted by Debbye at 05:42 AM | Comments (7)

April 06, 2005

McClellan Spinning Time (updated)

Apr. 6 - Here's one example of how the CBC chooses to present facts: U.S. will demand passports from Canadians.

"Demand!" Yeah, those nasty friggin' Yankees!

WASHINGTON - In response to a new rule requiring most Canadians to carry passports for entry into the U.S., Public Security Minister Anne McLellan said Americans may also have to carry the document to enter Canada.
You go girl! (Okay, not exactly "demand" calibre, but it sounds like a bit of tit-for-tat, right?)
"Our system has really always worked on the basis of reciprocity," McLellan said outside the House of Commons.

"And therefore we will review our requirements for American citizens and we're going to do that in collaboration with the United States.

"There's no point in either of us going off in a direction without working together to determine how best we can facilitate the flow – a free flow – and movement of low-risk individuals."

McLellan's comments come as the U.S. State Department announced that by 2007, most Canadians will need a passport to enter the United States.

CBC finally gets to the real circumstances on the sixth paragraph:
And by 2008, most Americans who visit Canada won't be able to re-enter their country without a passport.

The new rules will still allow Canadians to enter the United States without being fingerprinted. The U.S. demands a fingerprint from all other foreign visitors now.

The tighter security will be implemented first between the U.S. and Caribbean countries, then along the U.S.-Mexican border and finally between the U.S. and Canada.

It is likely to start at airports, then spread to land crossings.

As I wrote yesterday on this matter, passport requirements were mandated in 2004 in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. It's going to be inconvenient for everyone, not just Canadians, but I wonder if the vital justification in the sixth paragraph of the item will be heard before people express their outrage.

(Link via Neale News.)

12:11 Here is the link to the 2005 Report of the Auditor-General of Canada on National Security which reads much like the last report, come to think of it. It appears there has been no improvement in passport checks either (although the fees were raised citing the addition of security features as the reason.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:42 AM | Comments (4)

April 05, 2005

Border crossing rules tightened

Apr. 5 - Americans re-entering the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, Panama and Bermuda will require a passport or other valid travel document and Canadians will require a passport to enter the U.S. These new procedures are to be phased in by 2008. This is to be announced at a press briefing this afternoon.

The announcement of the briefing at the Dept. of State web page notes that

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 mandated that the U.S. Secretaries of Homeland Security and State develop and implement a plan to require U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to present a passport or other appropriate secure identity and citizenship document when entering the United States. This is a change from prior travel requirements. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will implement this law.
In a closely related issue, the Real ID Act which was introduced in January, 2005, passed in the House but has languished since in the Senate.

According to House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) who introduced the legislation, it is intended "to address the use of a driver's license as a form of identification to a federal official" by "establishing a uniform rule for all states that temporary driver’s licenses for foreign visitors expire when their visa terms expire, and establishing tough rules for confirming identity before temporary driver’s licenses are issued."

The argument that passing this legislation puts responsibility for immigration control on the states isn't really valid as there are already requirements to prove age and driving ability before licenses are granted so proof of status would be only another requirement; besides, each license already has a date of expiry, but I dislike bills which are promoted under the guise of fighting terrorism when their real intent is to deal with another, unaddressed issue.

Posted by Debbye at 01:12 PM | Comments (3)

April 03, 2005

A painful lesson

Apr. 3 - This may be the definitive essay on Terri Schiavo, the rule of law, and why I too love America.

Excellent read which defies excerpting and reminds us of not only who we are but how we have become so.

13:26 - There have been some new polls on the Schiavo case that posed the issues much more honestly with unsurprising (for me) results (via Michelle Malkin.)

Apr. 4 - 07:07: Jeff Jacoby agrees with Tuning Spork's conclusions.

Posted by Debbye at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2005

Terri Schiavo dies

Mar. 31 - Terri Schiavo Dies at the age of 41

Posted by Debbye at 11:04 AM | Comments (20)

States respond to Schiavo issues

Mar. 31 - From the NY Times, States are taking a new look at end-of-life legislation (alternate and longer-life link from the UPI-Washington Times article on the same subject here if you don't want to register with the NYT.)

Some legislative proposals are drawn straight from the battle between Terri Schiavo's parents and her husband. Among them is the Alabama Starvation and Dehydration Prevention Act, which would forbid the removal of a feeding tube without express written instructions from the patient. And a legislator in Michigan is writing a bill that would bar adulterers from making decisions for an incapacitated spouse.

In other cases, state lawmakers want to make living wills more widely available or simply to clarify the laws that govern the fate of someone in Ms. Schiavo's position. She left no written instructions.

New end-of-life legislation has been introduced in at least 10 states. ..

[...]

In Michigan, Representative Joel Sheltrown, the author of a proposal to strip people who are having extramarital affairs of their right to make decisions for an incapacitated spouse, is a Democrat, meaning he may have an uphill battle in the Republican-dominated Legislature.

But Mr. Sheltrown was not the only one to entertain such a notion. Last week Ken Connor, a legal adviser to Governor Bush on the Schiavo case, said Florida should have such a law. Opponents of Ms. Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo, say he should not be allowed to make medical decisions for his wife because he is living with another woman.

Other bills seek to draw a line between a feeding tube and other life-sustaining measures. In Louisiana and Alabama, Republicans have introduced bills that would assume, in the absence of a written directive, that a patient wanted food and water. In Louisiana, the bill would require that a feeding tube remain in place until any litigation over its removal was resolved. In Alabama, Representative Dick Brewbaker, the bill's Republican sponsor, said he would probably make the law apply only in the event of a family dispute.

And so the process to fix the process begins.

Posted by Debbye at 09:21 AM | Comments (1)

March 30, 2005

Tuning Spork answers Neal Boortz

Mar. 30 - Tuning Spork made a wonderfully terse comment on an earlier post that summed up the base line in the Terri Schiavo case: At some point we gotta, finally, ask ourselves if the value of life is worth the value of a Life.

Tuning Spork rips apart Neal Boortz's weird column on why Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die. (Did I say weird? It was beyond weird, and read more as though Boortz drew the short straw when they were divvying up debate positions in journalism class.)

Tuning Spork answers Boortz as perhaps only a sometimes-agnostic sometimes-atheist can do in by looking at science, not metaphysics, and uses logic rather than New Age out-of-body experiences.

He also uses some more excellently blunt language:

What we are forgetting about here is that God instructs us on how to live. This is IT, folks. This is the Test. This is the time. This is who we are. Right frickin' NOW!
Exactly. Exactly.

The ongoing debate really isn't about religion, scriptural verses, or anything other than Who.We.Are, and if we have retained sufficient humility to know that we don't know the answers to everything, and therefore, as there is doubt, chose to do no harm.

It wasn't that long ago that liberals were arguing cases for the mentally and physically handicapped and urging that every effort should be made to try to teach and provide therapy that would allow them to experience the fullest lives of which they were capable despite their disabilities.

Or maybe I am one of the few who remembers the advocacy for newborns who were diagnosed with Down's Syndrome and had been allowed to die by withholding nourishment.

Posted by Debbye at 06:27 AM | Comments (7)

March 29, 2005

Bush, Fox and Martin met (and accomplished nothing)

Mar. 29 - I probably should have commented on the the meeting between PM Paul Martin, Pres. Bush and Pres. Fox but I was too irritated that the press up here kept calling them The Three Amigos (doesn't anyone up here speak enough Spanish to know that amigos means friends?) (and yes, I saw the stupid movie) and it wasn't as though it was more than a meeting for public consumption, the "We are family" kind of public appearance in which the press up here imagines Important Stuff is going on and the rest of us are wondering if Presidents Fox and Bush managed to reach some understanding about the growing numbers of illegal immigrants undocumented workers that are coming into the U.S. from Mexico.

But there was some interesting commentary too. Greg Weston in Smiling Texans, glum Canucks notes too that nothing really happened at the meeting between Bush and Martin.

I agree with that assessment, unless "more of the same" counts. Measures for Establishing North American Security since Sept. 11 have been announced after every meeting between Canada and the USA and will likely continue to be announced after every future meeting. The press keeps reporting on that as though it's really news, so either they are dumb enough to actually believe it this time or they haven't noticed yet that the it's the same, tired press release. (I guess that also translates to being dumb. Whatever.)

Back to the meeting. There are actually real outstanding issues between Canada and the USA involving (what else?) trade. For those keeping score:
Soft wood lumber - no resolution.
The cow thing - no resolution.
Lunch - BBQ or Thai?

Douglas Fisher thinks Canada should be more curious about George but I suspect his advice is falling on deaf ears (if that's what you call people who have their fingers stuck firmly in their ears.)

Bob MacDonald's column notes that Martin actually stepped foot on the ranch, something Chretien never accomplished, and received a gift from the President - a pair of cowboy boots. (Make your own joke. I'm not touching it - besides, my heart is set on a pair like Condi's. Mmm.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:05 PM | Comments (2)

Army deserters in Canada

Mar. 29 - Cliff Cornell is an army deserter who is now a peace volunteer and one of 8 deserters all of whom want to stay in Canada.

From Mar. 25, Jeremy Hinzman will appeal the refugee board decision which denied him asylum status (Dodger insists: I'll stay) yet as the headline indicates, there is a persistent attempt to evoke the Vietnam era by terming him a dodger - he is not a draft dodger but a deserter, having voluntarily joined the US Army and even served in Afghanistan.

Supporters of Hinzman claim the decision was pro-war advancing the notion again that it was "illegal" and "Bush's war," despite the fact that it was approved by Congress.

Bill O'Reilly had it wrong, by the way, when he talked about the case. The decision by the appeal board had little to do with concerns over U.S.-Canada relations and more to do with the large number of claimants seeking asylum that arrive in Canada each year and a population that has grown increasingly suspicious of the process due to a large number of bogus claimants. Hinzman's assertion that he would be harshly punished pales in comparison to the real dangers people face were they to be returned to their native lands and indicated his real contempt for genuine asylum seekers who don't face jail but face torture and death.

Refugee claimants are already viewed with cynicism. Hinzman may well have hoped to capitalize on anti-American sentiment but had the refugee board granted his request it would have set a precedent for granting asylum on political bases rather than humanitarian and would have further undercut the credibility of the board.

Posted by Debbye at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)

The Code of Hammurabi (updated)

Mar. 29 - Education just isn't what it used to be: Death Penalty Tossed Over Jury's Bible Study:

DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday threw out the death penalty in a rape-and-murder case because jurors had studied Bible verses such as "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" during deliberations.

On a 3-2 vote, justices ordered Robert Harlan to serve life in prison without parole for kidnapping 25-year-old cocktail waitress Rhonda Maloney in 1994, raping her at gunpoint for two hours and then fatally shooting her.

The jurors in Harlan's 1995 trial sentenced him to die, but defense lawyers discovered five of them had looked up Bible verses, copied them down and talked about them while deliberating a sentence behind closed doors.

The Supreme Court said "at least one juror in this case could have been influenced by these authoritative passages to vote for the death penalty when he or she may otherwise have voted for a life sentence." [Irritating (search) notations deleted]

As an aside, I have yet to meet anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with the Bible who needed to write the one cited passage down. It's only one of the most well known passages in the Bible, so there must be more to the story that is being reported, and now I'm curious as to what passages were relatively unknown and actually needed to be written out.

But the real curiosity was in the findings of the appeal. The judge should have known that the legal concept of equal punishment for equal transgression was actually codified by a Babylonian king in 2500 B.C. in what has come to be known as the The Code of Hammurabi which systematically organized earlier laws into one code:

The code then regulates in clear and definite strokes the organization of society. The judge who blunders in a law case is to be expelled from his judgeship forever, and heavily fined. The witness who testifies falsely is to be slain. Indeed, all the heavier crimes are made punishable with death. Even if a man builds a house badly, and it falls and kills the owner, the builder is to be slain. If the owner's son was killed, then the builder's son is slain. We can see where the Hebrews learned their law of "an eye for an eye." These grim retaliatory punishments take no note of excuses or explanations, ..
On second reading, maybe the judge had his own reasons to consider the potential influence of the Code to be dangerous.

Oh well, at least weird stuff is finally coming out of Colorado again (All the, um, semi-oddball states have to do their part, you know.)

(No offense intended to residents of Colorado. I'm a native of California, so I get that you may be tired of everyone thinking you're all crazy.)

(Really, I more than get it. I endured years of strange looks when I told people I was from California. They either thought I was either crazy to leave or as nutty as a fruitcake just because I was born there. You just gotta know when you can't win.)

Mar. 30 - 02:20 Many thanks to commenter TimR for providing a link to the NY Times article on the Co. Supreme Court ruling which has much more context than the Fox report.

Mr. Harlan is one deranged man. His victim escaped and waved down a passing vehicle, Harlan caught up with them, shot the motorist leaving her paralyzed and then shot and killed his first victim. He did not kill on impulse but exhibited a cold determination to kill.

The defense lawyers brought up the Bible (it's inferred that this happened during statements before the jury retired to consider the sentence) and urged the jurors to consult Biblical wisdom, including the mercy God showed to Abraham (referring to Isaac, I assume.)

Legal experts said that Colorado was unusual in its language requiring jurors in capital felony cases to explicitly consult a moral compass. Most states that have restored the death penalty weave in a discussion of moral factors, lawyers said, along with the burden that jurors must decide whether aggravating factors outweigh mitigating factors in voting on execution.
Furthermore, the judge instructed the jury "to think beyond the narrow confines of the law" and that "each juror ... must make an 'individual moral assessment,' in deciding whether Mr. Harlan should live." The Supreme Court could have found the judge erred in his instructions, but the article only states
The Bible, the court said, constituted an improper outside influence and a reliance on what the court called a "higher authority.
Professor Howard J. Vogel is quoted in the article to say "I don't think it's a religious text that's the problem here, but rather whether something is being used that trumps the law of the state."

Personal moral compasses and reliance on "higher authorities" have long trumped the law of the state and many brave souls, such as the early Christian martyrs, Henry David Thoreau, John Brown, Susan B. Anthony, those who sheltered Anne Frank and defied Nazi law, Mahatma Ghandi, Dr. King, and thousands of freedom marchers have disobeyed the law and inspired millions more and, by their appeal to the moral compasses of others, profoundly changed the world for the better.

Moral compasses have long trumped the law because when it does not do so we silently allow gays, Jews, gypsies and other "undesirables" to be transported to gas chambers, we do not challenge laws that legislate second class citizenship within our nations, and we stand idly by while genocide is committed in places like Iraq, Rwanda and Sudan.

Free people have moral compasses. Sheep do not.

Colorado Conservative Darren has some reflections on the decision and more information about the Colorado ruling.

Posted by Debbye at 12:53 PM | Comments (2)

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 Townhall.com, 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 23, 2005

The quality of mercy

Mar. 23 - Charles Krauthammer speaks to the issues in the Schiavo case, The law is failing Terri and to the conflict over whether Congress and the president overstepped their bounds:

The general rule of spousal supremacy leads you here to a thoroughly repulsive conclusion.

Repulsive because in a case where there is no consensus among the loved ones, one's natural human sympathies suggest giving custody to the party committed to her staying alive and pledging to carry the burden themselves.

[...]

Given our lack of certainty, given that there are loved ones prepared to keep her alive and care for her, how can you allow the husband to end her life on his say-so?

Because following the generally sensible rules of Florida custody laws, conducted with due diligence and great care over many years in this case, this is where the law led.

For Congress and the president to then step in and try to override that by shifting the venue to a federal court was a legal travesty, a flagrant violation of federalism and the separation of powers. The federal judge who refused to reverse the Florida court was certainly true to the law.

But the law, while scrupulous, has been merciless, and its conclusion very troubling morally. We ended up having to choose between a legal travesty on the one hand and human tragedy on the other.

No easy answers to this one. I think many of us have simply listened to our hearts, which whispered Mercy. As Tolkien pointed out, letting mercy stay one's hand may seem foolish but we should not be so quick to take away life when we cannot also restore it.

I can't judge if Terri Schiavo is truly "brain dead." I can't judge what her wishes would be could she express them. I can't judge if she is or is not capable of responding to therapy.

I can only judge that her life has great value to her parents and that they are willing to fight to preserve that life.

I prefer to go with the option that does less harm, the option that is not irreversible, the option that springs from love and faith.

I prefer not to play God.

05:45 - I think what is most in my mind when I look at this case is (almost unavoidably) the example of Pontius Pilate, who followed the letter of the law and has been reviled for doing so by Christians. It's so easy on this side of the judicial bench ...

I dislike publishing personal facts about my family, but after thinking about this I think I should probably disclose that my sister was in a coma for several months, was non-responsive, and that the odds she would recover were low (she suffered a base skull fracture.) BUT she did wake up, and despite her chronic physical problems due to the injury, I know for a fact that she is glad to be alive as indeed are those of us who love her. That is probably why I shrug when I read assumptions printed as "facts" about Terri's awareness and potential for recovery. Doctors, like weather forecasters, make predictions based on probabilities but do not - or should not - exclude possibilities.

06:22 - Michelle Malkin sheds considerable light on the ABC poll which purported to show most Americans would prefer not to be kept alive in similar circumstances as Terri: they were misled about her condition!

6:32 The 11th Circuit Court denied the request to re-insert the feeding tube 2-1. The Schindlers plan to appeal.

06:53 - Kateland is also awake and posting early. She has a couple of posts on Terri Schiavo, and poses an challenging question on the Pope's quality of life and why people in Israel might be horrified that a woman be allowed to die of thirst and hunger. Good, penetrating posts.

07:19 - Peter Worthington points out that should Mr. Schlinder kill Mr. Schiavo, Mrs. Schlinder's wishes would prevail. (Pull in your horns, people, no one is actually advocating such an act! He's simply making a point about the illogic of the current law which would, in the absence of the husband, grant the decision in this case to Terri's next closest kin.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:33 AM | Comments (5)

March 20, 2005

House to meet in special session for Schiavo bill

Mar. 20 - Terri Schiavo's feeding tube may be restored due to a House, Senate Compromise on the Schiavo Bill. The compromise would allow for the tube to be re-inserted while a federal court reviews the case.

The Senate passed the legislation today (Sunday) and the House will meet in special session tomorrow to consider the legislation.

The President will return to Washington tomorrow to sign the bill into law.

Mar. 21 - The House passed the measure 203-58 and the President signed the measure at 1:11 a.m. It now goes to the federal district court in Tampa.

Posted by Debbye at 12:24 AM | Comments (30)

March 04, 2005

Senate votes to ban Canadian cattle

Mar. 3 - In a further blow both to President Bush, who has worked to re-open the border to Canadian cattle, and the Canadian beef trade, the U.S. Senate blocked importing Canada beef by a bipartisan vote of 52-46.

This isn't about missile defense, people, although that is little comfort to beef farmers and meat packers up here. The bipartisan vote in the Senate (and the probability is that measure will pass in the House of Rep.) was due to concerns about being able to re-establish trade with Japan and South Korea because they banned American beef when a cow with BSE was discovered in Canada two years ago.

Let me repeat: BSE was discovered on an Alberta farm over two years ago. American beef was therefore banned in Japan and South Korea because the source might have been Canadian. (Japan wants the origin of the beef indicated on the labels. We said no.) Canada's interests lie in re-opening the American market, American interests lie in re-opening the Asian market. Meeting both expectations is proving difficult.

Nevertheless, Martin's decision not to participate in the proposed missile shield is being factored into this latest setback by "some" Canadians:

Some Canadian industry observers wondered just how much support to expect from U.S. officials clearly disappointed about Canada's recent decision to stay out of the American ballistic missile defence program.
Get over yourselves. Canada's decision to stay out is not relevant. The manner in which Martin chose to make the announcemnent without informing President Bush first and the timing, which occurred while Bush was attending a summit with Russian President Putin, reflects poorly on Martin but it doesn't derail missile defense. We'll defend ourselves, and Canada will continue posturing. In other words, business as usual, and many would like business to include re-opening the cattle and beef market.

As for the extent of the President's "influence" in Congress, it's hard for Canadians to understand the workings of the U.S. government structure which separates the executive and legislative branches of the government. The word separate must be applied literally: each branch of the government - the executive, the legislative and the judicial - guards its powers jealously. The system may be unwieldy at times, but it works to prevent any branch from becoming too powerful.

The CNN article says that the President will veto the bill (that's one of those "checks and balances" things) if it passes the House and comes to his desk and it doesn't look as though they have enough votes at present to override his veto (that's another.)

It's hard for people who live with Parliaments to understand our Congress, but if it's any comfort, it is equally bewildering for Americans to grasp the subtleties of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet being members of Parliament and the routine practice of invoking party discipline for votes. (Don't get me wrong, such can be invoked in the U.S., but it really, really pisses off the electorate. Members of the House face re-election every two years -- they don't dare piss off their constituents by appearing like sheep.)

"Some" Canadians seem overly anxious to see this as payback. It will be interesting to see how this story progresses.

Posted by Debbye at 08:05 AM | Comments (57)

March 03, 2005

Fact checking CTV

Mar. 3 - According to CTV, PM Martin attempted to advise President Bush prior to announcing his decision not to participate in the missile shield, but Bush ignored Martin's call.

A day before he announced that Canada would have nothing to do with U.S. missile defence, Prime Minister Paul Martin placed a call to the American president to tell him of his decision, senior American officials told CTV News.

But the leaders never actually spoke that day. And almost a week later, President George W. Bush has yet to return Martin's call.

This is further evidence of Washington's deep displeasure with Canada's decision to opt out of the U.S. ballistic missile defence program (BMD).

According to this, Martin announced the decision on Thursday, Feb. 24.

According to this, President Bush was attending a summit with Pres. Putin in Slovakia on Feb. 24.

Note how cleverly the article is worded: Paul Martin placed a call to the American president to tell him of his decision, senior American officials told CTV News. It doesn't say if the call was placed to Washington D.C. or Bratislava.

Now it is possible that the CTV is the only news media in the entire world which was not aware that there was a major summit between the leaders of the USA and Russia on the day that Martin made his announcement. In fact, I'd say it was probable, or they would have mentioned that in their article as a possible reason why the President didn't speak to Martin when he called.

Right?

(CTV link via Kate at the Western Standard blog, The Shotgun.)

Mar. 4 - According to this, President Bush and PM Martin did have a chat about Canada's participation in BMD at the NATO conference:

A U.S. State Department source told The Canadian Press that Bush is upset Martin didn't tell him personally about Canada's decision not to join the missile plan when the two met at the NATO (news - web sites) summit in Brussels last week.

The source said Bush asked Martin specifically about the matter during a brief conversation and the prime minister didn't mention that a decision had been made. A short time later, Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew told his American counterpart Canada was opting out. (Bolding added.)

I doubt any of this is going to change minds up here. People like Lloyd Axworthy (great name!) are having much too much fun posturing. (By the way, Let It Bleed's response to him constitutes a direct hit.) Others, somewhat to their credit, are worried that the U.S. Senate was thinking payback when they voted to keep the border closed to Canadian beef but let's be honest: when in the history of the U.S. did we allow petty differences with allies (or even neutrals) get in the way of trade?

We're greedy, money-grubbing captialists, remember?

Posted by Debbye at 06:43 AM | Comments (5)

March 02, 2005

Ya mean that was the plan all along?

Mar. 2 - Sorry, the site went down for awhile.

It all seemed very simple. The Iraqi elections, despite the nay-sayers, were held. As promised. When they were promised. The Iraqis -voters and security personnel -did the rest.

A columnist with a Chicago paper wrote that maybe he'd have to admit that Bush was right all along.

And then the Lebanese people responded to the murder of Rafik Hariri with peaceful solidarity and determination. Those of who who understood and supported the aim of bringing consensual government and respect for human rights to the Mid-east applauded them.

Thomas Friedman wrote a column, and the NY Times wrote an editorial.

But now the rush onto the bandwagon is downright getting out of hand. (Ace is calling it a stampede.) Respected liberals are admitting that Iraq was a good place to start. Others are even going so far as to admit that maybe Bush was right. Even the BBC and Arab media is beginning to catch on.

But then there are others, and Jon Stewart is messing with a guest and suggesting that nobody knew that Operation Iraqi Freedom was all about bringing democracy to the Mid-east! It was a secret! It was a secret plan hatched by Karl Rove and nobody knew (except for the millions of Americans who voted for Bush - they knew!)

18:30: Ace has been on a roll keeping up with all this, and he's got a round-up of his "stampede" posts here. (Of course he would do that after I've been patiently linking every time a new post popped up on his site and me doing all that hard work.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:48 PM | Comments (2)

February 27, 2005

The depressing reality of rejecting Missile Defense

Feb. 27 - I don't often get depressed after reading an Andrew Coyne post, but when he's right, he's right, and his conclusions about The missile defence decision are bang on:

... the only objection most of the critics have is that it involves a) the Americans, and b) military hardware. And because a good number of these people are to be found on the Liberal backbench, the Prime Minister feels obliged to kowtow to them. So we will make critical decisions on foreign and defence policy based on purely internal politics -- internal, not as in Canada, but as in the Liberal Party.
To paraphrase V-P Cheney, if Martin can't stand up to the NDP and left-wing of the Liberal Party, how is he going to stand up to rogue regimes?

I had followed Bob's link to a Toronto Star editorial which criticized Martin's decision not to participate in the missile defense shield program and noted but couldn't comment on this assertion until the inner ranting ceased:

Yet, if Martin failed a leadership test, Bush also failed to make a decisive case for joining. And Harper offered Bush no comfort. This was a systems failure from the get-go. The Three Amigos never got their act together.
That's right, they are criticizing Pres. Bush for failing to play a leadership role for Canadians on this issue. Canadians need American leadership, not Canadian leadership, to explain a program meant to protect Canada.

So much for the much-ballyhooed Canadian sovereignty. By blaming Bush, the Toronto Star editorial concedes that Canada's leaders don't have the capability (or balls) to provide leadership on issues that concern the defense of Canada.

The Star editorial ends with misplaced optimism

If that [increased military spending in the recent budget] doesn't buy us credibility with allies, nothing will.
Stay with the "nothing" part and you'll have it right. It speaks volumes that Canada's leading newspaper thinks that credibility, not to mention respect, can be bought rather than earned.

Posted by Debbye at 01:22 PM | Comments (19)

February 25, 2005

The best words on Jeff Gannon

Feb. 25 - There's been commentary aplenty over the hounding of Jeff Gannon, but the best (and funniest) response I've seen thus far is from John Hawkins, who applies the Gannon Standard to a certain "real," "non-biased" journalist who is not a reporter - she's a columnist - but who is a regular at White House press conferences.

I won't tell you who that might be, but if you think "Queen of the Editorialized Question" you'll probably have it figured out.

By the way, second runner-up for best and funniest response is Ann Coulter, in Republicans, bloggers and gays, oh my!

Have a good weekend, everyone. As Dennis Miller used to say on SNL, I. Am. Out of Here.

Posted by Debbye at 04:41 PM | Comments (16)

Raising the troops' morale

condi matrix_hmed_7a 050224_.jpg
(Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

Feb. 25 - Damned straight they're cheering and clapping! And it's not only about sex appeal, but also about assertiveness, confidence, and the many good qualities of American womanhood.

All the same, I wonder if this picture will begin to appear in foot lockers (Betty Grable is sooo yesterday ...)

There's a more intellectual commentary at the WaPo on Condi's attire, but I think they missed the point.

Posted by Debbye at 04:01 PM | Comments (17)

Canadian permission to defend ourselves - ha!

Feb. 25 - Greg Weston sees a bright side to Martin's decision to stay out of missile defense:

If average Americans had been following Paul Martin's stand on U.S. missile defence, they would surely be relieved by yesterday's announcement that Canada will not be part of it.

An Armageddon warhead incoming at four kilometres per second is no time to be sharing command and control of North American air defence with a dithering prime minister.

Not so fast there - PM Martin says the USA is supposed to ask Canada's permission before shooting down any incoming missiles:
Prime Minister Paul Martin is insisting that United States seek permission before firing any missiles over Canada.
Two words: Won't Happen.

14:13 - The latest test shot down a short range missile. 5 out of 6 - not bad for a system that "doesn't work." (via Peaktalk.)

Feb. 26 - Terrific post from Evan at 101-280 - Sweet Surrender not only on the ballistic missile defense (BMD) controversy but on the future of NORAD and the state of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Posted by Debbye at 01:30 PM | Comments (14)

February 24, 2005

Button, button, who pushes the button ...

Feb. 24 - US Amb. Paul Cellucci reflects the confusion of many Americans:

"We don't get it," Paul Cellucci said in Toronto. "If there's a missile incoming, and it's heading toward Canada, you are going to leave it up to the United States to determine what to do about that missile. We don't think that is in Canada's sovereign interest."
Clarification comes if you recall that the best way to duck the dirty work is to let George do it, and Canada long ago left matters of continental defense to the USA.

There is more about US reaction to the latest Martin decision along similar lines as the first linked item in Missile decision prompts U.S. warning. Everyone is saying what you'd expect them to say, but it's all so very pro-forma that I wonder if Martin's announcement could really have been that much of a surprise.

But the timing! Need I even bother to go into the timing of Martin's announcement? The NATO conference was earlier hyped as being the ideal setting for Martin to step onto the international stage and reveal himself as a statesman capable of playing an intermediary role to reconcile Old Europe and the USA. Instead it became the setting for establishing more distance between Canada and the USA!

And what of NORAD? The 2004 amendment to the NORAD agreement to which Frank McKenna, the next Canadian Ambassador to the US, alluded expanded NORAD's mission and thus allowed Canadian personnel assigned to NORAD to track incoming missiles.

Future repercussions are a possibility, though, and opting out of missile defence could alter Canadian role in NORAD:

... retired lieutenant-general George MacDonald says that while excluding itself from the plan may ultimately change Canada's role in Norad, it won't end it. "Canadians will not have any participation in the actual decision-making or the rules of engagement or anything to do with ballistic missile defence," said MacDonald, a former vice-chief of defence staff and now a consultant.

"We will simply be feeding the system. And the question that ultimately may be asked is whether this is still an important mission for Norad to do."

At some point, MacDonald says, the Americans may want to lop off the warning element of missile defence from Norad altogether, thereby excluding Canada from the process outright.

I'd like to think that the US government wouldn't want to eliminate a platform which would facilitate inclusion in the plan should a future Canadian government (or even this one) choose to re-evaluate their role in missile defense, but the Opposition's silence before Martin's announcement makes them look like an Opposition only capable of responding to events rather than crafting them. That weakness might be cause for the U.S. government to judge them as too unreliable to merit future trust.

Pieter has some thoughts on the matter, and an excellent insight on those matters which, being "unspeakable" in Canada, help explain how the Opposition "failed the test of political competency."

23:22 Paul is in top form:

Extensive discussions between Mr. Dithers, Pierre Pettigrew - AKA Ludicrous Hair Man -, and Screeching Bill Graham...that sure does inspire a lot of confidence somehow, doesn't it?

The Three Stooges sort of come to mind for some reason...

Feb. 25 - 00:31: There's a lengthy (for us) thread over at the Shotgun.

New Sisyphus weighs in as, again, do the commenters.

From the Telegraph (UK):

Canada has turned down the Bush administration's pleas to join its missile defence programme, dealing a further damaging blow to relations between the North American neighbours.

Paul Martin, the prime minister, has secretly conveyed the decision to Washington despite a personal request from President George W Bush to think again.

[...]

The decision is believed to mark the first time in decades that Canada had refused a US request to join a strategic programme to defend the North American continent. (Bolding added.)

Can a Canadian application to join the EU be far away? (Oh, I'm sorry. Did that sound bitter?)

Feb. 25 - 14:29: It actually has gotten worse. See here.

Posted by Debbye at 06:43 PM | Comments (18)

February 23, 2005

Canada's in, no out, no both ...

Feb. 23 - Paul Martin, please call home. There seems to be some confusion as to Canada's participation in the Missile Shield Defense program (Missile muddle.)

As the article notes, the amended NORAD agreement makes Canadian participation in the program de facto but there is a loophole if one squints hard enough. Bob explains better than I could.

A generous interpretation is that the Canadian government wants to pretend they aren't protected under the shield in order to placate any one of the xxxx groups lined up to scream hysterically about the weaponization of space, the environment, Canadian sovereignty or the relative merits of Final Fantasy VIII; a less generous interepretation is that they don't know what the hell they're doing.

I expressed a wish long ago that the USA could implement the missile shield without defending a reluctant Canada, and now I read that Japanese inclusion could make that happen. Wouldn't that be interesting!

Via Peaktalk, a CS Monitor headlines nails it: US allies: Australia signs up, Canada signs off (Australia is sending 450 more troops in Iraq in order to protect Japanese engineering teams.) The article points out a key difference: Howard has a majority government and Martin has a minority one, and who really doubted the outcome when Martin decided to form a government with the NDP?

Posted by Debbye at 07:50 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2005

Frank McKenna, Canada's Ambassador to the U.S.

Feb. 22 - The next Ambassador to the U.S., Frank McKenna, has been appearing before the Commons [Parliament] foreign affairs committee and has some interesting observations. McKenna: Canada, U.S. 'never more different'. Some excerpts:

Canadians shouldn't worry about their sovereignty because in many ways this country and the United States have never been further apart, says the next ambassador to Washington.

McKenna thinks the U.S. should back off on criticisms of Canadian marijuana decriminalization. He worries about the gulf between Canadian and American understanding of one another. And he believes the two countries can't do enough to harmonize their shared border.

"I don't think I've ever seen the countries, in many ways, more different," McKenna told the committee.

"We're going in a very different direction from the United States of America."

By example, he cited legislative measures such as same-sex marriage, gun control and pot decriminalization.

And he said Canada's "whole approach with respect to preserving the social structure, social security in Canada, is dramatically different from the direction of the United States of America.

"We just seem to be much further apart than we've ever been before. So my view is Canadians have done a good job of protecting our cultural integrity and our sovereignty."

McKenna touched on the favoured "US objections to decriminalization of marijuana" theme, but here's something I don't get: given the treaties between the two countries to honour things like marriages, wouldn't the US object far more to the legalization of same-sex marriages than the relaxing of laws regarding marijuana possession which hardly differs from the laws of some states?

There are links to two older articles about McKenna: new Canadian Ambassador to the United States and Toronto Sun: NEWS - New envoy is frank.

Posted by Debbye at 07:21 PM | Comments (0)

Cosby: Get an education

Feb. 22 - It's good to see that Bill Cosby is staying on message and advising kids to Get an education. Be responsible. Make a difference.

Posted by Debbye at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2005

Mark Steyn speaks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 17, 2005

Negroponte to be named

Feb. 17 - President Bush is just announcing the nomination of John Negroponte as the Director of National Intelligence.

I like it. I haven't closely followed Negroponte's activites as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, but as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. during the run up to and during Operation Iraqi Freedom I was impressed by his consistency and focus.

Posted by Debbye at 10:05 AM | Comments (1)

February 04, 2005

Events catch up to pretensions

Feb. 4 - This is downright disheartening. Paul covers the story of some very sharp criticisms leveled by John Watson, head of CARE Canada, on Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) which languished in Canada for 10 days after the tsunamai hit Asian coasts until they finally arranged to rent a Russian transport for travel to Sri Lanka in I rest my case... and the criticisms cast doubt on even the value of the team's work after it arrived.

Truth is, I find it very awkward to post about Canada these days. There's a code of honour that dictates you don't kick somebody when they're down (don't remind me that some Canadians don't follow that code - I well know that!) and despite the smugness displayed by much of the media, a lot of people in Toronto and Canada are down. Just here in Toronto, today's paper tells about problems in the education system (even at the elementary level,) the transit systems and despite millions of dollars spent to fight homelessness people are still sleeping in parks and on the streets even though it's mid-winter. Nationally, the sorry tale of Canada's sub purchase reveals yet another stupid decision and the Adscam inquiry is still bogged down in conflicting testimony while questions remain unanswerable due to bookeeping that rivals that of the U.N. for careful incompetency.

The failure of the electorate to administer a sharp rebuke to the Liberal Party for corruption and mendacity is depressing. Some back home say the American press was too voracious in pursuing the Watergate story and the leads arising from the hearings, but up here I'm seeing the other side of the picture: too many in the media seem almost disinterested in learning the truth and complacently let the government investigate its own wrongdoing with the occasional plaintive bleat that the commission has uncovered little of substance.

Two main legs of Canadian identity are health care and hockey, and both are way past life-support systems.

I can't count how many times Canadians used to conclude a (usually friendly) comment about the USA with a grinning "but don't get sick there!" I never took offense (Americans are much more polite and forbearing than we're given credit for) but consider how many people died of SARS in the US and how many died here in the city of Toronto. Might it have something to do with the fact that medical personnel down there wore the proper face masks whereas they were deemed to be too uncomfortable up here? Or maybe the quaint notion of "quarantine" actually meant something in the US even when it inconvenienced people. What happened to the meme if it saves only one life, hmm? They only trot that out when it comes to coke, Twinkies and McDonald's but keep it tucked away when people are actually dying.

Today the despised American-style health system is the only resort for Canadians suffering and even dying on the waiting lists the treasured health care system offers in place of actual medical care, and some treatments are even being offered to Canadians at a discount by some enterprising American doctors.

As for hockey, Attention NHL owners, players, and assorted others: it's February, you morons, and yet you're pretending there might yet be a chance for a hockey season? This season is dead, defunct. It has passed on. Canada survived without NHL hockey and the CBC showed some pretty decent double-billed movies on Saturday nights. End of story.

So what's left when health care and hockey are out for the count? The U.N., peacekeeping forces, and moral superiority.

Exposure of the debasement of the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program remains sparse and although a story today speculates about possible Canadian connections to Hussein's oil, the conflict of interest of former PM Chretien due to his familial ties to Power Corp. and thus TotalFinaElf remains an unpublicized and unexplored factor in Canada's membership in the the Axis of Weasels.

Remember when the argument would be made that Canadians had consciously reduced their military in order to nationalize a world-class health system?

Then he who was then Finance Minister and is now the Prime Minister, Paul Martin, decided to reduce the national debt by withholding money from the provinces which should have gone into the health care system. Now there's neither accessible health care nor military strength up here, but cruel history provided events in Liberia, Haiti (including the devastation of last summer's hurricanes) Sudan and a tsunamai to accentuate the harsh reality that Canada can no longer respond to international crises nor provide peacekeeping to protect innocent people from genocide. crimes against humanity.

The only leg standing (as it were) is moral superiority. Above all, Canadians are compassionate. If you don't believe me, just ask them. They will expound at length as to how much more compassionate and caring and enlightened they are than Americans. (They've even got some Americans believing it.) Why, they're close to achieving a plane of compassionate existence that's almost European! Unfortunately, they spend so much time and money proclaiming it that they never get around to actually doing much that is compassionate, caring or enlightened but a cynicism has set in that allows that it's the appearance that matters, not the deeds.

Coming back full circle, as was pointed out in the opening link, if Canada's rapid response to disaster is delayed 10 days while waiting for a foreign power to transport that team, what will happen in the event of a disaster within Canada? How will aid reach Canadians in their own country?

You know the answer to that. You know you do. Despite the recent urging of outgoing U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci, don't count on Canada spending the necessary money to enable herself to become self-sufficient in the areas of self-defense at home or doing her fair part abroad.

But beware: if the day should come that they need our help, they'll hate us for it not because of what it says about us but because of what it says about them. Gratitude barely disguises resentment.

I do understand in part what lies under the surface in Canada. Canada's moral pose adopted a strikingly higher plane when the US was bitterly divided over Vietnam and demoralized over the Watergate hearings. After all, Canada was just coming out of the FLQ Crisis and needed a boost. The country was in danger of losing federal coherency so everyone rallied around a "we're better than the US" plank. And it worked.

In fact it worked so well, they were reluctant to tone it down. The media and politicos have trumpeted Canada's superiority over their American neighbours increasingly louder since the mid-70's, but as so often happens, reality is slowing catching up and there is growing recognition that Canada has become too complacent and the legs of Canadian identity and culture have become eroded.

But that's not a crime, it's just life. No nation can live up completely to its ideals, but one of life's challenges is to square our shoulders and try again. The important part is to adhere to the truths of those ideals, nourish them, and keep trying.


The deaths of U.S. soldiers and personnel as well as Iraqis unfortunate enough to be near IEDs when they went off provided a kind of comfort zone for those Canadians who have had some niggling feelings that just maybe Canada should have been on board for Operation Iraqi Freedom if only to offer moral support.

But now something has changed, or rather, everything has changed. There were real elections in Iraq in which the people of Iraq defied both the terrorists and the expectations of those with compassionate, caring, and enlightened views and, in so doing, also defied France, Russia, Belguim and Canada.

And we know that the price our sons and daughters are paying can be laid on account against the weasels because we kept our troops in the desert for several months while they pretended to debate in good faith on the U.N.S.C. all the while buying time for Saddam to set up his underground thugs.

Although far too few, however, there are indeed Canadians who have been awe-inspiring rock-freaking-solid in supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom from the onset, and they have earned the right to feel proud of the remarkable events of Sunday because they were part of it. (If you don't know who they are, look at the blogroll and I admit that it's incomplete.) Their numbers include media such as the Toronto Sun and Western Standard. (It hasn't been uncritical support, of course, but that's what friends are for.)

As for some others up here ... If they're examining their souls and wondering how they could have so misjudged the situation in Iraq then I'd advise them not to waste too much time on guilt or shame but pledge only to open their minds to the possibilility that if a stopped clock can be right twice a day, then Americans too might occasionally be right.

Those, however, who are rapidly devising a posture that denies that the success of the elections in Iraq might require a re-evaluation of their world view may as well carry on as though nothing has changed. They no longer matter.


As I wrote earlier, gratitude equals resentment, and therein lies an additional reason as to why the elections in Iraq were so important. The Iraqis need no longer feel lessened by Operation Iraqi Freedom because when it came time for them to take a stand, they alone made the decisions and took the steps toward freedom, braving the threats of those who had proven their willingness to murder them and, in that defiance, asserting the dignity of the Iraqi people beyond all measure and for all time.

One result of that renewed confidence was indicated when the citizens of the Iraqi village of al-Mudhariya fought off an insurgent attack, killing 5 and wounding 8, and then burnt the insurgents' car! (link via Best of the Web Today)

It's become much more simple now. The mission in Iraq is far from over but we have a new member in the Coalition of the Willing: the Iraqis, and this coalition has something the Axis of Weasels could never have - a mandate from the Iraqi people.

The counter-offensive began yesterday, and there are once again families in the US and Iraq who are bereaved. Press advisories come into my inbox advising me of the names and heartbreakingly young ages of the Americans who have lost their lives. It's not fair. It's wrong. It hurts. But we won't be deterred.

You see, we Americans share a national dream that has returned to the fore with renewed vigor and energy. I look forward to that day when all the peoples of the world can join hands and bear witness to the stirring power of Dr. King's words as he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and echo his words saying, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, [insert deity or deities] we are free at last!"

Correction: Feb. 7 - Dr. King's speech was delivered in the steps of the Lincoln Memorial not the Washington Monument as I initially wrote.

Posted by Debbye at 08:22 AM | Comments (16)

February 03, 2005

2005 State of the Union Address

Feb. 3 - I just finished watching the SOTU address (I had taped it)) and call me a shameless cheerleader but I liked it.

The proposal early in the speech to eliminate more than 150 government programs certainly caught my attention. I anticipate the Democrats will fight that tooth and nail ... possibily just as forcefully they will fight changes to the Social Security Act (although it will be somewhat disguised.)

Sigh. The mantra that failed programs just need more money is uniquitous in Toronto, too.

Americans are optimists by nature, and certain Democrats, currently knowns as the Purveyors of Doom and Gloom, are causing more and more people to shrug dismissively - especially as the Iraqi people have courageously proved themselves to be front and center in the war against terrorism rather than the helpless, trembling victims the U.N. (and Jimmy Carter) prefer them to be.

I was somewhat shocked by amateurish nature of the Democratic Party's rebuttal. Who on earth writes for these people? (My son has suggested that they write their own speeches, and therein lies the problem.)

Afghanistan. Palestinian territories. Ukraine. Iraq. Rebut those voters. Freedom is indeed on the march, and those who stand in the way might now, finally, re-examine the basis of their opposition.

The NY Times' Quote of the Day is the President's statement "I will listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer." Bingo. Stop your whining and obstructing, come up with rational, workable alternatives and bring your proposals to me (him) for active consideration.

The text of the speech as delivered is here.

12:55: Good analysis of what the president's speech may spell out for Iran (via Instapundit.

Posted by Debbye at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2005

Presidential Inaugural Address

Jan. 20 - (A little back-blogging to have the text on record.) President Sworn-In to Second Term

Posted by Debbye at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2004

U.S. Ambassador Danforth resigns

Dec. 2 - U.N. Ambassador John Danforth resigns. No explanation given thus far, but it certainly is curious.

Posted by Debbye at 07:20 PM | Comments (23)

Americans implicated in UNSCAM

Dec. 2 - The revelation that Kojo Annan continued to receive payments from Cotecna finally brought the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal under the scrutiny of the mainstream media, and now that they're digging, they are finding things that have been known in the blogosophere for a while but seem new to them, including the involvement of some well known and well-connected Americans and companies which were named in the Duelfer Report: Marc Rich, Ben Pollner of Taurus Oil, ChevronTexaco, and ExxonMobil.

From ABC News: Americans' Role Eyed in U.N. Oil Scandal:

Former American fugitive Marc Rich was a middleman for several of Iraq's suspect oil deals in February 2001, just one month after his pardon from President Clinton, according to oil industry shipping records obtained by ABC News.

And a U.S. criminal investigation is looking into whether Rich, as well as several other prominent oil traders, made illegal payments to Iraq in order to obtain the lucrative oil contracts.

[...]

Another broker was New York oil trader Ben Pollner, head of Taurus Oil, who investigators say handled several billion dollars worth of the transactions now under investigation.

Pollner told ABC News he paid no bribes or kickbacks to the Iraqi regime.

Rich is still living in Switzerland and unavailable for comment.

The roles of several American oil companies, including ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil, are also under investigation. ChevronTexaco received subpoenas requesting information for two separate grand jury proceedings, and said they were cooperating fully with both investigations.

The U.N. oil-for-food corruption scandal only continues to grow in scope. Today, Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who is leading the congressional investigation into the program, said that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan should resign because the scandal occurred on his watch.

The remainder of the item concerns the allegations about Kojo Annan.

An interesting column on these names by William Safire in his column in the Oct. 13 NY Times can be read online here at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies website.

I always figured that American businessmen might have been part of the scandal, and am glad that those named are being investigated. The name Marc Rich, however, is likely to spark attempts to drag President Clinton into this to which I say: Don't.

Let's break some new ground and focus on just the facts without partisan bias and opportunist attempts to besmirch either Clinton. I witnessed the ugliness of the last four years of Bush-hating and the previous three years of Clinton-hating and I. Am. Sick. Of. It.

(ABC link via Instapundit.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:03 AM | Comments (8)

November 18, 2004

See. Remember. Honour.

Nov. 18 - There is a picture to see and story to read: Generations Apart, Brothers Forever.

(Link via Ith.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:40 PM | Comments (1)

November 09, 2004

Canadian-American group to study bi-lateral maritime defense

Nov. 9 - A Canadian-American planning group is studying the feasibility of establishing a 'Maritime NORAD'. A report is due to be released soon, and any implementation of those recommendations for the project would have to be approved by both Canada and the USA.

A great deal of informal co-operation has already taken place since Sept. 11 but this a project to formalize that co-operation:

The binational planning group was formed in December 2002 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States. Morrell said the group is independent of both NORAD and U.S. Northern Command and comes under the command of Canadian Forces Lt. Gen. Rick Findley and his American deputy, Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Inge.

The concept of a "maritime NORAD" has a large group of endorsers, who envision an automated, oceanwide, vessel-monitoring surveillance network.

The study group has a great deal of support in the US and in Canada:
... The September issue of Canadian American Strategic Review calls a maritime NORAD "a logical next step" in increasing intelligence and surveillance data sharing between the two countries' maritime-security forces.

Author Philippe Lagasse called the concept "a win-win opportunity," noting that the United States' providing Canada with access to U.S. satellite and radar data increase continental maritime security while saving Canada the cost of building its own comparable capabilities.

The means by which we could prevent an attack by sea is one area that remains largely unaddressed.

Posted by Debbye at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2004

Sudan

Nov. 2 - From this surprisingly emotional article about a U.S. Air Force mission out of Rwanda on Oct. 30:

The mission may have been clear and simple for the Americans involved, but as the airmen quickly realized, the Rwandans did not view the U.S. Air Force's airlift to Darfur as just another day at work.

Marching to the music of their own formal military band, the Rwandan troops carried more than their rifles as they entered the belly of the C-130. Their faces seemed to carry with them the concerns of a country that only 10 years ago experienced the horror of genocide.

Worth reading the whole thing. Sudan is still a nightmare regardless of the election results and should have a more prominent place on our list of things to solve.

Canada is getting more involved as well. PM Martin to visit Sudan, calling for an end to violence, humanitarian crisis:

Prime Minister Paul Martin will visit strife-ridden Sudan this month to urge the government to halt ethnic and religious violence that has driven 1.5 million people from their homes.

Martin will meet with President Omar el-Bashir at a brief stop in Khartoum during a 10-day trip to Africa.

"He'll urge the government to honour their commitments and act decisively to end the suffering," said Martin spokeswoman Amy Butcher.

"It's an opportunity to urge the (Sudanese) leaders to honour their word. G-8 leaders have a responsibility to engage and face-to-face meetings can be an effective tool to get leadership to act."

[...]

Martin had long been mulling the trip, and was encouraged to go in recent chats with British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) and the head of the United Nations.

Canada has pledged about $37 million to humanitarian efforts in Sudan and also contributed equipment to African Union peacekeepers.

Posted by Debbye at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2004

US obtained Sampson's release?

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

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

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

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

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

[...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very, very intriguing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[...]

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

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

That's more like it.

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

July 04, 2004

LET FREEDOM RING!

13 star US flag.gif

The first official flag of the 13 united States of America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All everybody wants is some elbow room;

Mr. Colt made all men equal;

Rude people fight indoors and polite people step outside;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updated to recommend some wonderful posts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signers

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntingtonv William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Matthew Thornton

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

New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

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

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

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

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

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

July 02, 2004

Pin-point brevity

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

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

(Link via Ith.)

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

June 18, 2004

Paul Johnson, Jr., RIP (multiple updates)

June 18 - Al Qaeda militants kill American hostage. I knew Mr. Johnson was doomed when he was kidnapped, but that doesn't lessen my outrage and the sorrow I feel for him and his family.

CNN is also carrying a report from al Arabiya that the al Qaeda leader was killed:

Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin, the leader of al Qaeda's cell in Saudi Arabia, was killed, Saudi security sources told CNN.

He was killed while disposing of Johnson's body, the Arabic-language television network Al-Arabiya reported.

MSNBC is reporting that al-Muqrin had been sentenced to 8 years in prison for conspiracy to assassinate Egyptian president Mubarek but was released early for good behaviour (which apparently was evidenced by memorizing several passages in the Koran.)

CNN was pontificating about how safe Saudi Arabia used to be, and my mind flashed back to William Sampson.

Remember him? He is a Canadian who lived and worked in Saudi Arabia. He and some British nationals were arrested by Saudi authorities in 2001 - before Sept. 11 - and convicted by a Saudi court of killing a British banker in 2000 which the Saudis claimed was part of a black market liquor ring.

Mr. Sampson was condemned to be beheaded after his "confession" was shown at his trial (he said he had been tortured.) No other evidence was presented to the court.

His and the British citizens were finally released by the Saudis after Prince Charles intervened personally.

The Saudi Arabia which was considered safe for foreigners was not safe: that safety was an illusion which the Saudi kingdom perpetuated by denying that terrorists were operating within Saudi Arabia and they substantiated these claims by accusing Westerners (and Israelis) of being behind the car bombs and shooting deaths of other Westerners.

This isn't a rant against the Saudis (or the Canadian government for their inaction in the Sampson case.) This isn't even a rant, because I'm too depressed at the news of Williams' death and the manner of his death to go into a rant.

This is rather me looking askance at us and wondering just how freaking stupid we really are.

Al Qaeda hates everyone who doesn't fit their narrow definition of "good" Muslims. They hate Shi'ites. They hate Hindus. They hate Buddhists. They hate Jews. They hate Christians. They hate agnostics, atheists, Wiccans, Taoists, animists and everyone I failed to think of when I made this list.

On reviewing that list, I am struck again at how many billions of people they hate, yet we wail because we are on it? Hell, I'd be ashamed to left off it!

They hate most of the human race. Yes, it's hard to believe because most of us are too busy and productive to waste our time actively pursuing our hatreds, but there you are. We don't understand them because we aren't insane.

We have an enemy. It's name is al Qaeda. It has condemned all of us to death. And how do we respond? By holding partisan-driven commissions to find some way of blaming our government for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. By asking why do they hate us, which rather ignores that anyone who hates "us" so much that they personally inflict horrific deaths upon Daniel Pearl, Nicholas Berg, and Paul Johnson are psychopaths.

A church in Birmingham, Ala., was bombed in 1963 and four little girls were killed. The country didn't ask "Why do they hate Negroes" but joined together to condemn the hatred that killed those children and to renew efforts in the Civil Rights Movement.

Did people ask why Clifford Olson hated children?

Did people ask why Marc Lepine hated women after he went on a rampage at an Engineering School or did they confront the hatred and condemn it?

Of course there was countless speculation as to their deranged reasons, but no one credible concluded that the Klan, Olson and Lepine had good reasons to hate their victims and urged black Americans, women and children to mend their wicked, wicked ways.

Canadians didn't conclude that those women and children deserved to die for the sins of other women and children.

Moral equivalence is not moral. It's not even rational.

I presume the video is available somewhere, but I haven't looked for it and, when it inevitably comes to my attention, I'm not sure what I'll do. Some lessons need be learnt only once, and having viewed the Nicholas Berg video I think I got the message:

They are evil.

11:40: Saudi militants show beheaded body of victim from the Telegraph (UK)

The militants - calling themselves "al-Qa'eda in the Arabian peninsula" and the "al-Fallujah squadron" - released gruesome video images and photographs of the killing.

Still photographs showed a severed head, placed on the back of a body wearing an orange jumpsuit, the face turned towards the camera. A dagger rested on the corpse, its point apparently buried in Mr Johnson's forehead.

The Australian press has some additional information about the shootout that killed al Muqrin.

Kevin at Wizbang links to the Drudge photos of Mr. Johnson and has written a very informative post about the events of today as well as background on Al-Moqrin.

Eric at Classical Values has an excellent post on this atrocity and links to other examples of Muslim on Muslim violence including an account of the "cleansing" underway in Sudan (a genocide that Old Media has shamefully neglected, maybe because the U.N. is talking a lot handling it?) and an eloquent statement that is better than all the floundering I've been doing since I first came across the Drudge photos and debated if I should link to them.

Some of the commenters on the Nick Berg video shocked and dismayed me because they reflected how little people understand the universal threat posed by the psychotics in al Qaeda.

No, I don't mean those who urged us to reflect on our sins, the appeasers, or even those who believe we can build high walls and sit this one out; I mean the people who urged a total nuking of the Mideast and used what I call hate speech.

People are outraged by the vicious murders of Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg and Paul Johnson. They should be. But we need to remember the vast number of Muslims that have been killed by al Qaeda and associated terrorists and remember that we share a common enemy with most people who live in the Mideast (and I include Israel in this.)

The enemy has been pretty efficient with their "divide and conquer" strategy. Muslims deplore terrorism yet feel defensive, and we must continue to reach out and affirm that we - the people of the world, i.e., the real international community - face the same enemy.

Another note: before we sneer at Muslims in Mideast countries (outside of Israel) for their ready acceptance that Mossad is behind all the terrorist attacks, we need to clean our own house. Look at our own media and note how they have distorted information: they've lied in claiming that Bush declared Iraq was an imminent threat, that Bush declared an end to the Iraq conflict, and now they write headlines that carefully imply that he claimed a connection between Saddam and Sept. 11.

Despite clearly documented evidence to the contrary, there are many people in the USA who believe the lies and conspiracy theories rather than the truth and all I can figure is that they believe the lies because they want to. So tell me again how much more sophisticated we are than people in the Mideast who watch and believe al Jazeera?

I repeat: Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Wiccans, Jews, agnostics, atheists, fundamentalist Christians, Catholics and too many others for me to name share a common enemy.

I have only one motive in linking to these pictures: I want us to transcend the outrage when one of our own countrymen is so murdered and begin to relate more personally when we read of beheadings in Kashmir, the Phillippines or Solomon Islands. It is my sincere hope that the next time any of you read the word "beheaded" it will immediately convey horror, disgust and revulsion whoever the victim and remind you of the nature of the threat to all people.

Lastly, I believe that building a democratic Iraq that respects human rights will alter those dynamics that once lionized al Qaeda but increasingly make it clear that it is al Qaeda - not us - that is the enemy of Islam and peace-loving people everywhere.

Those of you who want revenge on the Saudi government might pause and consider the effect of having an Arab nation run by consensual government on its very borders. (The Saudi Royal family is certainly aware of the threat that would pose to them.)

Mr. Johnson is past pain and sorrow now, and I apologize for any part I might be playing in causing more grief to his family. I do not wish to exploit his death.

June 19 - 05:26: Donald Sensing asks does anyone doubt we must win this war, lays out the options and reaffirms the objective:

The conundrum of our task is that our long-term objectives are exactly those which Islamofascists say will ruin true Muslim society. Every success we gain, in Iraq or elsewhere when the time comes, will be fought tooth and nail by our enemies. But early this year, the high-ranking al Qaeda operative in Iraq, Abu Zarqawi, wrote to his superiors that democracy is "suffocation" for recruiting Iraqis to fight against Americans.

What this means is that the status quo ante bellum cannot be allowed to be reestablished. It was, after all, the womb of the war. The present status quo cannot be maintained either, for it is merely significantly, not decisively, better than before. We must remain focused on the long-term goals and vary our short-term tactics and strategies as we need to in order to obtain them. (Emphasis added.)

He may be preaching to the choir, but I've noticed that the choir needs preaching just as much as the congregation (or at least I know that I need to hear it.)

08:00: Via Beth at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, an Islamic website disputes that Muqrin is dead. I wasn't being prescient or anything as I reflected on the experiences of Bill Sampson, but it is an unfortunate fact that the Saudi government has been known to fabricate cases.

10:35: Tonecluster links to an Amir Taheri column on the practice of beheading that, sadly, is once again relevant and offers an interesting way to respond to this latest murder.

Posted by Debbye at 06:54 PM | Comments (7)

June 17, 2004

The Sept. 11 Commission (updated)

June 17 - Panel: U.S. unprepared 'in every respect' to stop the hijacking jets on 9/11 but there was something they did do which contradicts this statement:

THEY GROUNDED ALL AIR TRAFFIC.

THEY CLOSED THE BORDER.

Remember the events of that day? Remember the speculation that fighter pilots may have been ordered to shoot down passenger jets with innocent civilians aboard?

I'm not the only person who was shocked at the notion that we would be asking America's sons and daughters to kill innocent Americans as a last, desperate measure to save other innocent Americans.

There is also that South Korean jet which was flying over Canada and which had lost radio communication, did not respond to orders to land, and which PM Chretien admitted he was prepared to shoot down.

19:16: Some of the statements made at the 12th Hearing of the Sept. 11 Commission are now online and are somewhat more informative and complex than the CNN coverage (which should not be a surprise to anyone.)

The CBC's headline is 'Improvised defence' cost lives on Sept 11. And all this time I thought lives were lost because terrorists hijacked passenger airliners and crashed them into buildings ...

WASHINGTON - At least one of the hijacked planes in the Sept. 11 attacks could have been intercepted had aviation and military officials been better prepared, a report released on Thursday said.
The words could have should be might have in bold and huge capital letters.

Planes were hijacked. The passengers were told that they were returning to the airport, and as the first WTC bombers (from the 1993 attack) were about to be sentenced; who wouldn't have assumed that the demand would be for their release?

Wasn't a Canadian running NORAD that day? (Part of the military exchange program.) Anyone remember his name?

As I noted in the earlier post, lives still would have been lost, and you can bet there would be an inquiry if US military personnel had shot down American planes.

But as I also noted, the 'improvised' response was to order all planes to set down at the closest airport and, if other planes were indeed supposed to have been hijacked, I'd say that the 'improvised' response saved lives.

Instapundit has more links and comments.

Sorry about being so irritated: it's really hard to wake up to such wankery. (So why is it easier to go to bed after such wankery?)

19:40: Michelle at A Small Victory has a much more reasoned response to the "we could have shot the planes down" argument than I do and sums it all up here:

It's frustrating. It's depressing. These people would rather clap their hands in glee over some partisan bickering and sniping known as the 9/11 hearings than anything else.

It's a damned if you do or damned if you don't world.

Bush decides to invade Iraq. He's damned for it.
If he didn't decide to invade Iraq and Saddam took the opportunity to flaunt his disregard for the U.N. resolutions given him by blowing us - or anyone else - up, Bush would be damned for not paying enough attention to Saddam.

No one shot planes out of the sky on 9/11. Damned.
Yet I distinctly remember in the days after 9/11 many people crying that the criminal Republicans in the White House saved their asses by supposedly shooting down the plane in PA.
Oh and imagine if they did shoot those two NYC bound planes down. Where the hell did you want them to do that? Over a populated region? Imagine the outcry.

What a sad state of affairs. Instead of a real commission, we have The Venerable Hindsighters with the Outcry Media playing back-up. (Does that make the Sept. 11 Families groupies?)

I need to believe that the American people are too sensible to fall for all this.

I need to believe that the American people are made of stern stuff, and they are far more resolute and determined than most pundits can conceive.

June 19 - 01:48: What she said. Especially the part about heartsick.

Posted by Debbye at 05:47 PM | Comments (5)

June 15, 2004

The CIA - just as inept as we suspected

June 15 - We never fail to remind the world how inept we are, and I have come to accept it as a part of our national heritage or something. Sigh.

The report "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003" concluded that that terror attacks were down in 2003 (I posted about it here) but the report was wrong, and it seems the CIA might have been responsible for the error (Powell: Inaccurate terror report was `big mistake') either by omission, software, using only half a calandar, or hiring an inept consulting agency. The report was put up on the State Department's website and they too didn't catch the errors (did they check the report? Of course not!)

The State Department correction is here.

Mark Steyn had a column in the British Telegraph about the resignation of George Tenet:

Everything that is wrong with the agency was made plain a few weeks ago with the much-anticipated release of a classified CIA "Presidential Daily Brief" from August 6 2001. This was supposed to be the smoking gun which would reveal that Bush knew 9/11 was coming. It turned out to be far more damaging than that. It revealed somewhat carelessly that the CIA - the most sinister acronym in the world, the all-knowing spooks behind the dirty tricks in a thousand Hollywood thrillers - crib most of their info from television shows and foreign intelligence services.

Under the headline "Bin Ladin [sic] Determined To Strike In US", the most lavishly funded intelligence agency in the Western world led off its analysis with its top piece of "classified" "intelligence": "Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and 'bring the fighting to America'."

Terrific. Your crack CIA operative knows how to go into deep cover in his living room and pose as an average American couch potato by switching on the television... (Emphasis added)

Of course, this only proves that the average American is at least as knowledgeable as the experts, something "everybody knows" except the experts.

Add Sec. of State Powell's admission about the error-ridden 2003 Report on Terror Attacks to the list of things that might have prompted Tenet's resignation and things that the State Department "didn't catch" and we are left with one, sad other thing that "everybody knows": we accomplish things despite our government, not because of it.

But I really wouldn't have it any other way. After all, it gives constant validation to my belief that the citizen is superior to the government

Posted by Debbye at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2004

The final farewell to Reagan

June 12 - I managed to watch both yesterday's services for President Reagan in DC and the final internment service at Simi Valley. As one would expect, they were dignified, religious, and personal.

The buglar played taps, and the flag which had draped the president's coffin was folded and presented to the widow at sunset signaling the official end of a week that was dominated by the American people and thus true hearts filled with sadness, gratitude, and affection.

I've read how thousands of Americans lined the railroad tracks to pay their respects to President Lincoln as that funeral train passed, and we saw that history live as Americans stood by roads yesterday to pay their respect to Reagan (and, quite clearly, to Mrs. Reagan.)

Some of the on-scene reporters trivialized the crowds, comparing the atmosphere to that of a picnic; pardon me, but have any of them ever been to a picnic? I didn't see any BBQs, kids playing tag, dogs, frisbies, or softball games. Somebody, please! Invite these poor sods to a real picnic.

I did see a lot of flags, a lot of tears, and a lot of respect.

The Americans and others who paid their respects to President Reagan understood that it was right and proper that they should do so. It wasn't to be a part of history, as only egotistical reporters could have concluded, but to honour that part of history and the man, President Reagan, who dominated and, by his perseverence and strength, ended a tense era which was dominated by the Cold War and he consigned the Soviet Union to history.

(I do wonder how many of us who reflected on the presidency of Ronald Reagan found therein renewed courage and reassurance that we can defeat the forces of terrorism.)

Like millions of other Americans, I found that my life last week revolved around work, family, and Ronald Reagan with scant attention to other matters. I know that there were important events in the rest of the world, that the German Chanchellor laughed at Barney and ate hot dogs (as well as attended the services for Reagan in DC,) but with that innate isolationism that constantly vies with unwanted responsibilities on the world stage, many of us ordinary Americans took a well-deserved break from Iraq, the presidental election campaign, war on terror, and G-8 intrigue and we focused something that to us is more important: paying our respects as we laid a beloved president to rest.

Somewhat reluctantly, it is time to return to the issues of the day: Sadr's latest adventurism in Najaf, the extent to which NATO countries will support the new Iraq, the Canadian national election campaign, the American national election campaign; in short, those things which will shape the future.

The British paid a full measure of respect to Reagan, as PM Tony Blair and Prince Charles also attended the services in the National Cathedral. We've been a little self-absorbed and thus careless, so let me now say thank you to Great Britain and to all those countries that paid their respects to President Reagan.

I noted in the referrals that someone was looking for the French representative. I don't know if he attended as an official representative of France, but former French president Valery Giscard d'Etaing attended the services in the National Cathedral.

Good-bye, Mr. President. You did your duty admirably, and the tasks of the world have passed to others.

As the final note, the transcripts from the eulogies at the National Cathedral are available online:

Former Canadian PM Brian Mulroney's eulogy is here.

Former British PM Margaret Thatcher's eulogy is here.

President George Herbert Bush's eulogy is here

President George W. Bush's is here.

Posted by Debbye at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2004

Burying an American president

June 11 - I'm staying up to watch the services for President Reagan at the National Cathedral so posting will be light.

One extremely notable tribute today from Lech Walesa, who pays a personal tribute to Ronald Reagan in the Opinion Journal.

From In Solidarity:

I distinguish between two kinds of politicians. There are those who view politics as a tactical game, a game in which they do not reveal any individuality, in which they lose their own face. There are, however, leaders for whom politics is a means of defending and furthering values. For them, it is a moral pursuit. They do so because the values they cherish are endangered. They're convinced that there are values worth living for, and even values worth dying for. Otherwise they would consider their life and work pointless. Only such politicians are great politicians and Ronald Reagan was one of them.
Insightful words, especially apt as both Canadians and Americans are faced with national elections.

Good-bye, Mr. President. I wish I had appreciated you sooner, but glad I came to embrace your vision.

Posted by Debbye at 11:00 AM | Comments (5)

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 10, 2004

Ray Charles, 1930-2004

Ray Charles.jpg

Ray Charles has Died.

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

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

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

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

Reagan funeral solemnities and dignitaries

June 10 - An impressive list of foreign dignitaries will be attending President Reagan's funeral on Friday, including Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Lech Walesa, Prince Charles, Tony Blair, Thabo Mbeki, Gerhard Shroeder, Australian G-G General Maj. Gen. Michael Jeffrey, and has been noted previously, Brian Mulroney and G-G Adrienne Clarkson of Canada. A more complete list is here. (I have violated protocol somewhat in how I may seemingly have ranked my list, but that those who played prominent roles during the Reagan era are attending is more to my interest than any protocol. I'm just sorry that Putin evidently won't be there, find it interesting that Shroeder will be there, and never expected Paul Martin or Chirac to attend so have only a shrug as a reaction.)

I expected that both Mulroney and Thatcher would attend, although I feared the health of the latter might prevent her from doing so.

The schedule for today and tomorrow is here, the traditions surrounding a state funeral in the USA are here and some historical background on those traditions are here.

Services concluded yesterday just as I needed to leave for work, so there was again that familiar disconnect of being part of a nation in mourning yet needing to pretend to go about the work routine without reference to it.

CNN (actually, Wolf Blitzer) maintained a respectful silence during yesteday's observances, but as I was leaving they were starting up with that all too familiar phrase "Reagan led the country to the right" which is guaranteed to get my engines fired up (and this is despite the fact that he didn't lead me to the right until I saw the hostages disembarking and the Berlin Wall being busted up. So I'm a slow learner ...)

Do the morons in Old Media suppose that when Reagan was elected in 1980 (and re-elected in 1984) that voters didn't know he was a conservative? We don't elect people to lead us anywhere; we vote to inform those who would lead us as to what we want and heaven help them if they don't deliver.

The US electorate chose a conservative candidate because they approved of fiscal responsibility, a strong defense and had no intention of losing the Cold War.

The voters of the USA led the nation to the right, not Ronald Reagan. Sorry to bust your delusions, CNN, but there is help: try enrolling in a remedial Civic course.

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

June 09, 2004

Reagan arrives in Washington

June 9 - Reagan's procession under way.

Anyone else start bawling when the D.C. crowd greeted Nancy Reagan with cheers and applause?

As the man shouted, God bless you, Nancy.

Posted by Debbye at 06:10 PM | Comments (2)

June 08, 2004

Zahra Kazemi - All about the oil?

June 8 - Via Paul, Stephan Hachemi, Zahra Kazemi's son, has written a hard-hitting letter to the editor of the National Post which, given the short link life at the Post, I'm going to quote in full:

June 3, 2004

To former prime minister Jean Chretien:

Like many Canadians, I recently learned of your coming visit to Iran as a representative of a Calgary-based oil company. It is reported that the purpose of your trip is to conclude a deal with the Iranian government on behalf of this firm.

I write to congratulate you.

Your failure to ensure justice was served in the case of my mother, Zahra Kazemi -- who was murdered by the Iranian regime while you were prime minister -- has apparently paid off: You are now most welcome in Tehran.

Last June, my mother was arrested without cause by agents of the Iranian government, who then beat and tortured her to death. No doubt, you remember the case and so are well-informed of the systematic violations of human rights that take place in Iran, as well as the circumstances that surround the killing of my mother.

And yet, knowing this, you are off to shake hands with representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the executioners who less than a year ago had my mother murdered.

I can only thank you for doing this now, Mr. Chretien -- for you are demonstrating clearly what a charade Canada's fervent defence of human rights is. Despite your speeches about human rights when you were at the head of our government, you are now conferring your personal prestige on Iran's regime, and by extension its crimes against humanity.

Bravo, Mr. Chretien. I knew I could count on you to take the veil off your government's hypocrisy. The politics that you practice now show how your government favours "business as usual" before human rights. Congratulations.

Stephan Hachemi, Montreal.

I'm not bashing Canada here, because Sen. John F(reaking) Kerry has done something equally disgusting: his primarary Iranian supporter, Hassan Nemazee, is suing the Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran for $10 million in damages a move which the SMCCDI regards as frivolous but could restrict their ability to keep the Democrats honest in their dealings with Iran.

Read the whole thing; it is disturbing and raises some questions that should be directed at Sen. Kerry.

Sen. Kerry has already indicated his willingness to treat with the mullahs of Iran, in a move which may be cynical (maybe it's all about the oil!!!!) or could be appeasement but which amounts to a flagrant dismissal of the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people. Small wonder US Old Media coverage of the Iranian elections and subsequent demonstrations received so little air time.

As Americans and Canadians, do we support tyrants or those who yearn for freedom? Are we appeasers of murderous despots or do we actually believe in those human rights we are so quick to claim to revere?

Those issues may not seem as urgent or important as bread-and-butter issues, but if we lose our freedom to work and raise our families without fear we will lose the true meaning of freedom.

Election campaign coverage has a way of obscuring issues by focusing on the sound bites instead of the substance of remarks, but President Reagan's death has reminded us that indeed there are pivotal events that can lead either to victory or become yet another missed opportunity.

Would I rather rejoice because millions of Iraqis are entering a new era of freedom or bewail the fact that the French are annoyed with us for ignoring their advice?

Posted by Debbye at 07:24 PM | Comments (2)

June 07, 2004

Reagan remembered in Canada II

June 7 - Words are not coming easily for me this day. As Californians pay their respects to the former governor and president, I again feel that frustration at being here instead of there.

President Reagan's casket was carried into the Presidential Library earlier this afternoon and I found the heartbreak made even more unbearable by the clicking of camera shutters which interrupted that otherwise respectful silence. Aaron found stark words to express the need we feel, almost as a compelling duty, to watch these observances.

Part of the heartbreak is how viewing it forced memories of similar solemn processions from previous occasions of official state mourning. When I saw Nancy Reagan, I recalled other widows: Jacqueline Kennedy, Coretta Scott King and Ethel Kennedy.

Peaktalk may have made one of the best tributes in Goodbye, My Friend:

At the same time many people in Europe rallied the streets on a regular basis to demonstrate against deploying American cruise missiles on European soil as a counterweight to the Soviet missile build-up. Many of my friends joined in these protests, unwilling to see the rationale of the “peace through strength” philosophy that was coming out of Washington. It was in those days that I mentally departed from Europe and saw the deeper values underpinning “Go out there and win one for the Gipper” and “the Shining City on a Hill”, sentences that drew ridicule in Europe. Yet they represented and appealed to profound human emotions, crossed boundaries and inspired many around the world, not least of all myself. So my journey that turned out to be driven by optimism, a strong need for self fulfillment and a deep belief in the ability of the individual to shape his or her own destiny coincided with a period in which the White House was occupied by an inspirational, visionary, wise, and charming man who very effectively communicated the same values to the rest of the world.

Be sure to read Jack's Thoughts in which he neatly ties together Reagan, Juno beach and the upcoming Canadian election. Possible tear alert!

Kathy Shaidle has a delightfully honest post, I'm sorry I used to hate you. Me too, Kathy.

Ouch, even more embarassing moments: former punker Meatriarchy looks at the punk scene, Ronald Reagan and the Prophets of Doom and some stuff we hurried to forget once that wall came down.

Colby Cosh says he began to admire Reagan after his "logic chips were implanted over the years." Heh.

Jason Hayes remembers Reagan and marks the distinction between a politician and a statesman.

Burnside has an excellent round-up of blogger reactions from Saturday and even waded into the Democratic Underground.

Although President Reagan has been absent from public life this past decade, the recollections of the triumphs of his presidency which his death has forced upon Old Media contains a delightful irony which I believe Reagan would fully appreciate.

CNN commentators are claiming that Reagan's political opponents liked him. WTF? They hated him. He was the anti-Chri ... er, anti-progressive. Stephen Taylor fondly recalls the media furor over the Staubach bomb.

Mark Steyn doesn't mince words about Reagan's detractors:

The elites were stupid about Reagan in a way that only clever people can be.
Yes, that sums it all up pretty nicely.

Oh well, big surprise that Old Media are trying to re-write history, but sometimes they just can't resist temptation. CNN had a caption that read "Reagan was the first actor to be elected president." That's like saying "George Washington was the first surveyor to be elected president." Sheesh.

Some columnists are honest. John reports that a columnist for La Vanguardia has used the event to remind us that Reagan created bin Laden (fourth paragraph down) and an editorial which seems to laments the fall of the Soviet Union. John rebuts them quite nicely.

Off-shore, the official reaction in Cuba was candid. Gee, they didn't like him? They have true cause to lament the invasion of Grenada as well as the fall of the Soviet Union.

Bob comments on the Toronto Star editorial and David Janes wades into CBC coverage on Reagan's life and death.

Back home, Alpha Patriot has some great links to Reagan tributes and his own tribute here.

I have to go to work again tonight, but I'm glad I'll be off Friday. This is going to be a difficult week. My heart and thoughts are with America as we mourn.

June 8 - 16:39: Hurrah! Regular AgitProp commenter Chris has started his own blog, Taylor & Co., and makes a wonderful tribute to Reagan with more Cancon than Trudeauphiles might wish.

Posted by Debbye at 04:03 PM | Comments (2)

June 06, 2004

Reagan remembered in Canada

June 6 - Today's front page of the Toronto Sun:

Reagan cover of Sun.jpg

There are a number of articles linked in this article, Reagan loses final battle, Calgary Sun columnist Paul Jackson has a personal tribute in his column A hero passes and Toronto Sun columnist Bob MacDonald recalls the Thatcher-Reagan alliance in The gipper won one for us, and the Western Standard's Shotgun has a number of posts on Reagan (start here and keep linking to subsequent posts.)

Belmont Club recalls how well Horatio held the bridge, Ghost of a Flea has The surly bonds of earth and further and deeply profound thoughts in Unfinished. Let It Bleed has a succinct summation of Reagan's legacy (ha!), Spinkiller recalls Reagan as The man who knocked down walls, and Damian Penny recalls the "Tear down that wall" speech and the memory of a Pole which rightly points at similarities between the election of 2000 and 2004.

I doubt I'm the only American for whom current events was forced into perspective with the recollections of Ronald Reagan's presidency during yesterday's news coverage of his death.

I still lived in California when Reagan was elected governor, and with that idealism of youth that fails to comprehend that government money is only that which comes out of my pocket, I deplored the reduction in the civil service and budget-cutting measures. (Those who forgot those lessons were surely reminded when Schwarzenegger was elected governor for much the same reasons as Reagan.)

I'd be lying if I claimed to appreciate President Reagan during his term of office, but the tearing down of the Berlin Wall began my re-evaluation of of the Cold War and how we had both over-estimated and under-estimated Soviet influence and might.

What I do remember is that Syria, Libya and Iraq were in the Soviet sphere of influence and, in true Babylon 5 tradition, the fight continues although the face of the enemy has changed.

One often gets the impression that progressive forces in Canada regret the passing of the Soviet Union in part because they viewed the Soviets as having a braking affect on American might. Yet this regret is not tempered by the admission that Soviet might kept Russians and Eastern Europeans in chains.

When those who have nothing to lose but their chains are those who live under communism - not capitalism - how can the left continue to justify it's existence? Belmont Club answers in Friday's post Mephisto in which the battle of Thermopylae is remembered (without reference to the fact that the Spartans stood alone while the Athenians dallied to finish their festival - inadvertant Cancon, anyone?) That post read today eerily forces to mind President Reagan's declaration that for America, the best was yet to come, a prospect which was anathema to leftists who must promote dire predictions and gloom because it's their only propaganda tool.

One of the lamentations of the left today is that US aggression against terrorism is causing instability much as the left then warned that a Reagan presidency would plunge us all into an nuclear holocaust.

Why are those who promote themselves as humanitarians those who least believe that human beings have unlimited capacity to greatness? Why are those who give lip service to human rights so willing to doom the oppressed of the world to tyranny in the name of stability? And since when does a revolutionist deplore instability?

The answer is fairly obvious once we shake off those bonds imposed by fear of risk and instability: the human race has steadily marched forward when it embraced tolerance and respect for each another, and when those opposed to progress preach intolerance and distrust they have forsworn the right to style themselves as progressives.

If man was meant to fly he's have wings. But man (and woman) was meant to fly - with all the risks of Icarus and all the glory of Billy Bishop. Maybe Reagan's legacy is the willingness to embrace the promise of the future by accepting the challenges of the present.

Rest in peace, Mr. President. May your legacy long endure.

Posted by Debbye at 01:00 PM | Comments (4)

June 05, 2004

Ronald W. Reagan, 1911-2004

President Ronald Reagan Dies at 93

Ronald Reagan.jpg

When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.
-- President Ronald Reagan

Posted by Debbye at 07:48 PM | Comments (2)

June 03, 2004

Tenet Resigns

June 3 - I guess I'd better give a nod to the big story of the day: CIA Director Tenet Resigns.

Pundits will debate the whys while others will say "what took so long." Kerry took a fairly predictable line, but must tread carefully as Tenet was a Clinton appointee.

As for me, I'm going to work. It's Friday!

June 5 - 21:14: Peter Worthington probably has the best perspective on it.

Posted by Debbye at 07:33 PM | Comments (2)

June 01, 2004

Jose Padilla

June 1 - I woke up this afternoon just in time to catch this Justice Dept. briefing of the case against Jose Padilla on CNN. When they switched to Wolf Blitzer, I recollected that we now have MSNBC on our new television digital thingy and hurray! they were still airing the briefing. Take that, CNN!

I have little trouble with treating Padilla as an enemy combatant because he is one. After confessing to that shocking display of simplisme, I may as well also admit that although those worrying about his civil rights have their points and their cautions should be acknowledged, they might want to remember that we could just charge him with treason and hang him. We are at war, there is precedent, and it could be done in a military setting as he was plotting to engage in acts of sabotage as an agent of a declared enemy, al Qaeda.

This is the crux of the one, primary issue: do we deal with terrorists and terrorism as a police matter or as a military matter? As Comey made clear, we can't prosecute this war or protect ourselves within the structure of our legal system.

This crux has a sub-crux: are we at war? The answer to the latter question informs the answer to the former. That too is simple, which is not to say it's unsophisticated because it requires a degree of sophistication to envision a war in which there are few battlefields in the classic sense (ref. D-Day, Battle of the Bulge, Shiloh) and uncertain methods of assigning victory.

From the Fox website: Transcript: Justice Dept. on Padilla.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Comey tells a story that should be shocking yet isn't. How far we've come.

The final question indicates the media is still lagging behind:

QUESTION: We've read a lot in the media about Jose Padilla and his motivation. Did he disclose anything new or reveal anything in his conversations with interrogators about his motivations for joining Al Qaeda, and any psychological reasons why a U.S. citizen would join Al Qaeda?
Why do we hate ourselves? Comey's answer concluded with this:
But we have not included in this document the extended exploration of his state of mind.
Heh. I am probably reaching, but I read this to say "There's all kinds of nonsense in the media, but we don't care about his motivations or psychological reasons. We just want to prevent him from carrying out his plot and keep him where he can't kill US citizens."

By the way, some familiar names pop up during the briefing: Mohammed Atef, Adnan Shukrijumah (aka Jafar,) Abu Zubaida, Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Posted by Debbye at 06:32 PM | Comments (4)

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 26, 2004

Towards a free Iraq

May 26 - Monday night, President Bush made the first in a series of speeches in which he will lay out plans for implementing the goals of Operation Iraq Freedom, the role we are playing, and the steps to transfer power to the Iraqi people (Troops Are in Iraq to Make It Free.) The text of the speech is available here.

Our coalition has a clear goal, understood by all -- to see the Iraqi people in charge of Iraq for the first time in generations. America's task in Iraq is not only to defeat an enemy, it is to give strength to a friend — a free, representative government that serves its people and fights on their behalf. And the sooner this goal is achieved, the sooner our job will be done.
The president laid out five steps for achieving this goal. The first is the transfer of power to Iraqis. U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will be working with Iraqis to set up an interim council including a President, two Vice-Presidents, a Prime Minister, and 26 Ministers. 12 government ministries are already under the control of Iraqis.
All along, some have questioned whether the Iraqi people are ready for self-government, or even want it. And all along, the Iraqi people have given their answer. In settings where Iraqis have met to discuss their country's future, they have endorsed representative government. And they are practicing representative government. Many of Iraq's cities and towns now have elected town councils or city governments - and beyond the violence, a civil society is emerging.
The foundation for a free society comes from the bottom - grass roots democracy - and establishing Iraqi control over local, day-to-day government is what will build the confidence of Iraqis that they can take control of their country and build it for the betterment of their and their children's futures.

The second step is to establish security and stability. I think that is the most difficult and most exciting of the tasks at hand, because implementing that step will ultimately involve a transfer of power as well, although it now takes the shape of partnership, itself a signficant if risky endeavour. Referring to the steps taken in response to events at Fallujah:

We want Iraqi forces to gain experience and confidence in dealing with their country's enemies. We want the Iraqi people to know that we trust their growing capabilities, even as we help build them. At the same time, Fallujah must cease to be a sanctuary for the enemy, and those responsible for terrorism will be held to account.
Somebody referred to the failed uprisings fomented by the Sunnis and Muqtada al-Sadr as "the dog that didn't bark," referring to the things that haven't happened as more indicative of the state of affairs in Iraq than those things that have happened and which have been reported.

The Sunnis have not revolted in significant numbers. Shi'as have not joined Muqtada al-Sadr. The indignation over Abu Ghraib has been exploited everywhere but with noticeable silence from Iraq itself.

Only the future will be able to adequately judge the steps taken by the US and her allies to establish consensual government in a Mid-east country. I doubt the debate will end soon, but I remain committed to the cause.

Read the president's speech and judge for yourself. As we have said so often, the ability to read the documents ourselves rather than rely on the filter of others is one of the most exciting gifts of the internet.

Posted by Debbye at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2004

The New Reactionaries

May 21 - Roger Simon, in The New Reactionaries, comments on his conclusions after reading Congress, Media Could Talk U.S. Into Iraq Defeat

Meanwhile, the Zarqawis of the world are winning this war. And I can promise you one thing -- it's a lot more important than George W. Bush, John Kerry, anybody in Congress and the Media and any one single person. It's about civilization versus a death cult. Make a choice!
RTWT.

More on the role of the media: this Glenn Reynolds post on some poll results which indicate dissatisfaction with Old Media is becoming more widespread, and Donald Sensing has Duelling Biases and some fed-up Marine Moms who I wouldn't want to tangle with.

Posted by Debbye at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2004

Sept. 11 Commission transcripts

May 21 - The transcripts for the Sept. 11 Commission session of May 18-19 are here in .pdf format (with the exception of Giuliani's testimony.)

Here is the link to the WaPo article Giuliani Directs Blame Solely at 9/11 Terrorists. Hopefully they will post the transcript and link it to that page.

Posted by Debbye at 06:55 PM | Comments (0)

Everyone is Part of the War

May 20 - Austin Bay is about to ship out with his reserve unit to Iraq. Read his good-bye column Everyone Is Part of the War.

Via Instapundit, who quotes Rudy Guiliani in the same post.

Never overlook a segue; this one is via Ghost of a Flea, on confirmation that the Sept. 11 Commission has jumped the shark.

Posted by Debbye at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

On Old Media II (Updated)

May 20 - I had earlier noted Parts I-III of Laughing Wolf's series on Old Media. Part IV is available here.

Belmont Club further explores issues in media coverage in The Wedding Party. Wretchard looks at the conflicting reports over a strike in western Iraq with attention to those tell-tales of the initial reports which would urge the reporter go forward for a better look:

Why was a wedding party in full swing at 02:45 am in the middle of the desert? A glance at the map would show the area in which the wedding took place was 250 kilometers from "Dr. Salah al-Ani, who works at a hospital in Ramadi," and who "put the death toll at 45." A long way to go for medical treatment or burial when Qusabayah is 50 kilometers away. Under normal circumstances, there are two wounded for every dead. By the normal ratios there should have been at least 90 injured. There was a videotape of "showing a truck containing bodies of people who were allegedly killed in the incident. Most of the bodies were wrapped in blankets and other cloths, but the footage showed at least eight uncovered, bloody bodies, several of them children. One of the children was headless." A video of the dead, but where were the wounded?

Nothing to discredit the initial report on the face of it, and Faramarzi was correct in reporting the initial details, but there enough for someone to say 'get in closer for a better look'. Long before we found out about the satcom radios, the weapons and the cash at the "wedding party". In a war where battlefield reality is no longer directly experienced by the majority, the 'closer look' is all the public has to on which to base decisions which may spell national victory or defeat. But sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? If the newspapers have neither tracking cell, nor map, nor ruler, nor calendar to follow events how can the public tell what really happened? At this writing, 24 hours after the initial story, some newspapers are still reporting the incident as an attack on a wedding party while others describe it as a strike against a militant group. Two versions and no closure.

Read the whole thing.

13:32: This is the initial AP report which appeared in today's paper.

Posted by Debbye at 10:45 AM | Comments (1)

Official Lynndie Fan Site

May 20 - I had to double-check, just in case this was a ScrappleFace or Broken Newz item, but it is true: Right Wing News tells of an official Lynndie England fan site.

This one is for real. Go figure.

Posted by Debbye at 09:44 AM | Comments (2)

May 19, 2004

Unbiased CNN (Sept. 11 hearings)

May 19 - CNN titles this item about Guiliani's testimony before the Sept. 11 Commission "Giuliani: NYC not told about al Qaeda briefing."

Here is the text of the memo (it's in Adobe Acrobat format.)

Mark just yelled out "Akron wasn't told either!" What he said.

May 20 - 18:30: Michelle live-blogged Mayor Guiliani's testimony here. I prefer her coverage to CNN's.

Posted by Debbye at 05:40 PM | Comments (0)

Belmont Club, the DoD, Blackfile and Mudville Gazette

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

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

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

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

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

So common sense compells me to drop old prejudices.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See this from Blackfive and consider the full implications.

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

God bless America, and always honour those who serve.

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

May 18, 2004

On Old Media

May 17 - Do they want us to lose?

The Laughing Wolf has a three-part analysis and answer to that question:

Part I,
Part II,
Part III.

Note new meme: Old Media. It's downright Rumsfeldian.

Posted by Debbye at 01:16 AM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2004

The Berg Phenomenon

May 16 - The U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, spoke out on something that, I suspect, is in many hearts and minds: Arab world should be more outraged about the murder of Nick Berg. During an interview on Meet the Press,

"There's no excuse for silence on this kind of murder," Powell told NBC's "Meet the Press."

"I would like to have seen a much higher level of outrage throughout the world, but especially in the Arab world, to this murder," he said.

"What we saw with this horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible murder should be deplored throughout the Arab world."

As noted earlier this week, there were condemnations from three nations - Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates - but that mostly highlights the silence from other nations as well as clerics, imams, intellectuals, and newspapers.

Many bloggers have been overwhelmed by what one blogger termed a tsunami - the huge traffic we've encountered as people search for the Nick Berg video. (If you're here looking for the link, I've posted it here.) Sites have been knocked off line; many bloggers suspected they were having denial of service attacks, and others thought there was something totally whacky with site meters and others (ahem) lost service because they had exceeded their quota for the month.

As Ghost of a Flea noted here, there have been a lot of inter-blogger discussions about this, and most of us have sought to understand why so many people want to see this video. Commenters here and at other sites indicate that the people actively looking for the video are people who normally would never contemplate viewing such a thing, but they felt driven to do so almost as a grim duty.

Or mabe I'm projecting too much; that grim necessity certainly drove me to watch it despite my wish to avoid it. It was as though I knew that I needed this lesson - even though I thought I was already implacable in my support of this war.

There are other aspects, as well. When I linked to Wizbang (I'm leaving the url out for reasons that will become apparent) I knew the link would show up on their trackbacks, but I never anticipated the huge amount of traffic that the mere trackback would engender, nor that people would stay and read other posts.

So perhaps it isn't just viewing the video that has driven people, it is a need to understand why they viewed the video.

I constantly see references to "the face of the enemy" (which is highly, and probably intentionally, ironic) and expressions of rage. One thing that makes me proud is that bloggers have been incredibly restrained in our handling of this video: we've been very careful not to incite or spread hate and to restrain our own emotions because we are trying to be responsible.

But I think we bloggers and readers have an advantage: we regularly read Iraqi (not to mention Iranian, Egyptian, Italian, British, etc.) bloggers and we know first hand that terrorists do not speak or act for them but in fact speak and act against them.

That's my way of saying don't waste your time calling for a total nuking of Iraq here. You came here and to other blogs because you wanted truth and on some level, you recognize that Big Media isn't delivering. Read the Iraqi and Soldier blogs on the list to the right of the screen, and learn how much more there is going on than CNN or the NY Times want you to know.

Remember: they withheld information about the torture and murders during Saddam's reign in order, they claim, to maintain their presence in Iraq. What have they done to restore your trust? Shown the same pictures over and over of prisoner abuse, yet shown restraint in their coverage of Nicholas Berg?

Does that mean they trust the Arab street more than the American street?

The biggest media betrayal is this: U.S. forces have fought back attacks launched from Syria and Iran this moth, and they have done so with encouragement and cooperation from Iraqis. You don't have to be a genius to recognize how important that partnership has been, so why has Big Media fretted about being "bogged down" when it was so clear that this the partnership was being formed? Why, when Big Media has constantly urged we not go to Iraq but to continue policies of containment have they bewailed containment policies that have, in fact, borne fruit?

I have to go to work and try to behave normally. I have to try and act as though there isn't a gaping wound in my heart and that this past week hasn't altered my life and world view.

If that seems overly strong, read it as an admission that, despite everything I have written, I really failed to understand what the word "evil" conveys in its entirety. I thought I knew, but I didn't.

Now to some old analysis because I haven't the restraint in me yet to note today's "other" news.

There has also been muted criticism on silence in the USA. As noted in the May 14 Washington Times, American's beheading 'old news' for media elite but the Times also notes that for many Americans, Beheading returns focus to terror war:

"Those who are wringing their hands and shouting so loudly for 'heads to roll' over [the abuse] seem to have conveniently overlooked the fact that someone's head has rolled — that of another innocent American brutally murdered by terrorists," said Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat. "Why is it that there's more indignation over a photo of a prisoner with underwear on his head than over the video of a young American with no head at all?"

It is hard not to believe that the liberal media have played down the Berg story because they don't want to do anything that might inadvertantly help Pres. Bush. Undoubtably the plethora of photos as those in the prisoner abuse investigations may make that story seem more inviting - or easier - but I'm reminded of Def. Sec. Rumsfeld's question as to how many vases there really were in Baghdad, or was the media just showing the same one repeatedly. (As we learned, Rumsfeld was right on that score.)

Although many of us have focused on how this video is affecting Americans, many experts think that it was primarily a recruiting tool for the terrorists promoting the image of Zarqawi as a strong leader who, I might add, is not afraid to get blood on his hands in the literal sense.

The Spectator article Hoping for the Worst by Toby Harnden from which Instapundit quoted concludes with what should the single most daming facet of the partisanship that plagues Americans in this incredibly long election cycle:

Whatever we thought about the war before it was launched, it is imperative that the forces of Arab nationalism and Islamism that now threaten to destroy Iraq are defeated. If America fails in Iraq it will be all of us in the West, not just Bush, who will suffer. But those who would be most in peril, of course, would be the Iraqis, who deserve better than to have their country treated as an electoral playground by the American Left or Right. To wish otherwise is as sick as the grins on the faces of the Abu Ghraib torturers. (Emphasis mine.)
May 17 - 18:11:Oops. Spectator link added belatedly. Also the link to the Instapundit post about this phenomenon.

Posted by Debbye at 05:55 PM | Comments (6)

May 15, 2004

Armed Forces Day

May 15 - May is Military Appreciation Month in the USA, and today is Armed Forces Day, a day on which we celebrate the unification of the armed forces and pay tribute and thanks to the hundreds of thousands of military personnel stationed around the world and at home.

I always honour Memorial Day (even from up here) but am grateful to have a day to express my awe and respect for those who in active service and let them know that we are not as disinterested or passive as our media suggests.

What kind of person steps forward to put their life on hold and leave loved ones for extended periods of time in order to see to the defense of their country? I guess the simplest description would be extraordinary ordinary people.

The media tries to depict our soldiers as poor kids who are forced to join the military in an effort to improve their lives or as an avenue to attend school, but how does that square with the spectacular job they are doing? How does that square with their grim determination, endurance, dedication, and re-enlistment rates? (Hint: it doesn't.)

If these past two and a half years should have taught us anything, maybe it's to be ashamed of the sophisticated veneer so many (used to) adopt and realize that the strength and soul of our nation lies in its optimism and ideals, not in jaded cynicism.

They are better than us. We talk and blather while they fight.

Those few twisted people who shamed their uniforms are an aberration, and don't represent the men and women of the military. It's time to let the brave souls on the walls know that we know that.

Do you sleep better because they guard the walls? Damned straight you do. In fact, you sleep well because you didn't even realize that there are monsters out there -- at least, not until you saw the Nick Berg video.

Read this at Mudville Gazette and follow his links. (And then go here.)

There is a link in this post, BLACKFIVE: Armed Forces Day - Saturday, May 15th, to send your thanks as well as an explanation of this day.

You can also visit A Million Thanks to email your support.

Canadians can go here to thank their soldiers.

Come on, why must we wait until there is a death to show our appreciation? The time is now and you have the means.

Remember: we are indebted to the men and women in the military for every day that we live in freedom.

Today is Armed Forces Day, and those who say they "support the troops" will indicate the truth of that by their actions. The New York Times quote of the day, for example, is from Gary Resnick: "Gay marriage is not a lightning-rod issue here. For the most part when people call the city council they're calling about local issues — noise, road work, things like that." (That's not a slam against gay marriage, but I do question the focus on the Times on this day. The newspaper of record is setting quite a record by overlooking the obvious fact that we can even discuss gay marriage because of those who guard us.)

If you still need motivation (and even if you don't) read this to understand just how far some people are willing to go to destroy morale.

I've read a lot of commenters and bloggers who fret that they are sitting in comfortable chairs and feel they can't pull their weight, do to age, experience, skills or whatever.

You can pull your weight with an email or two. Go. You'll feel better.

Posted by Debbye at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2004

Who is that man?

Bush hug.jpg

May 13 - Yes, of course you know who that is, and I definitely mean no disrespect by referring to him as "that man" as opposed to "Mr. President" or even "the president."

It just struck me that the story here is as much about the person as about the Chief Executive, if you get my drift.

I don't know how long the link will be active, so I'll fill you in:

Lynn Faulkner, his daughter, Ashley, and their neighbor, Linda Prince, eagerly waited to shake the president's hand Tuesday at the Golden Lamb Inn. He worked the line at a steady campaign pace, smiling, nodding and signing autographs until Prince spoke:

"This girl lost her mom in the World Trade Center on 9-11."

Bush stopped and turned back.

"He changed from being the leader of the free world to being a father, a husband and a man," Faulkner said. "He looked right at her and said, 'How are you doing?' He reached out with his hand and pulled her into his chest."

Faulkner snapped one frame with his camera.

"I could hear her say, 'I'm OK,' " he said. "That's more emotion than she has shown in 21/2 years. Then he said, 'I can see you have a father who loves you very much.' "

"And I said, 'I do, Mr. President, but I miss her mother every day.' It was a special moment."

Special for Lynn Faulkner because the Golden Lamb was the place he and his wife, Wendy Faulkner, celebrated their anniversary every year until she died in the south tower of the World Trade Center, where she had traveled for business.

They too are a September 11 family.

(Via Bill Whittle.)

I'm going to get some sleep. Honest.

Posted by Debbye at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

Retribution

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 12, 2004

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of War Defense II

May 12 - I have to go to work, but wanted to point to this item by David Frum Rumsfield Must Stay.

Note the Lincoln/Grant reference; anyone else interested in starting a fund to send a barrel of the best whisky to Rumsfeld?

Posted by Debbye at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2004

Military Appreciation Month

May 10 - May is Military Appreciation Month, and there is a site dedicated to thanking the men and women who serve the USA.

One of the biggest side-effects of the damage those who disgraced their uniforms might cause could be to lower the morale of the good men and women who serve our country, and we owe it to them to show our support now.

You can go to A Million Thanks To Our U.S. Military Men and Women to add your voice.

Remember how much we owe them.

Posted by Debbye at 07:13 PM | Comments (1)

May 06, 2004

Failure of leadership?

May 6 - Putting some pieces of the puzzle together: 800th MP unit: History of abuse, failure

Posted by Debbye at 08:15 PM | Comments (1)

May 04, 2004

Allies and "allies"

May 4 - I woke up because some moron was mowing their lawn at, oh wait, it was around 12:40 p.m. I really can't complain (much.)

While waiting for the noise to subside I read today's essay at USS Clueless which looks at the extent to which the policy of the USA to make conditions on which nations we label "friend" has been implemented.

There are areas of concern in US foreign policy, and (as always, it seems,) Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism and that country's influence over the State Department has a huge arrow over it that says "Urgent" yet there has been no visible action or policy change.

After reading Den Beste's essay, I remembered a article in the Daily Telegraph (UK) I had noted early this morning about a plot allegedly by Ansar al-Islam to attack a Nato summit that had been found out by Turkish police (Turks foil plot to bomb Nato summit)

Turkish police said yesterday they had foiled a bomb attack planned by a group linked to al-Qa'eda against western leaders meeting in Istanbul next month.

Nine people appeared in court after police arrested at least 16 suspected members of a terrorist cell in Bursa, north-western Turkey, thought to be a part of the al-Qa'eda network.

Turkey is one of the countries I'm not entirely sure about (as opposed to Syria, which I'm totally certain are double-dealing with us.)

Turkey is unique. It literally, as well as figuratively, is in both Europe and Asia. It is a member of Nato and wants to join the EU.

But this is where latent irritation can play a factor. I believe being deprived of a northern front in Iraq caused problems; although Cencom took a "we can handle it" apporach, it did affect our entry in Baghdad.

[Now there's a weed whacker going. Sheesh.]

I used the phrase "latent irritant" rather than "latent grudge" because the decision not to allow us to transport troops and equipment into northern Iraq was done by a vote in the Turkish legislature - it was not a question of caprice but national sovereignty expressed by a duly elected body.

I may not like the decision, but approve the process.

I also can't fault the Turks for being more enthusiastic about tracking down terrorists in their midst after they were attacked, as efforts in the US were, to say the least, less than stellar before Sept. 11.

Anyone have any insight or links on Turkey?

Posted by Debbye at 03:07 PM | Comments (2)

Disgracing the uniform

May 4 - Sgt. Stryker on the whiny NCO who excuses his deplorable actions with "we wasn't trained enough" (SSDB: Needs More Cowbell):

The first rule of a coward, when caught, is to play stupid. The second is to blame someone else. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I don't need a superior to tell me that attaching wires to someone's genitals or beating the living shit out of them is unacceptable. What are you, a fucking idiot?
That says it all.

Posted by Debbye at 02:10 PM | Comments (1)

May 02, 2004

Thomas Hamill

May 2 - "I want everybody know he's been found ... I'm going to be shouting it from the rooftops."

-- Kellie Hamill, speaking to reporters after learning her husband Thomas had escaped and was safe.

U.S. Hostage Escapes in Iraq.

Posted by Debbye at 11:30 AM | Comments (1)

May 01, 2004

The U.S. and Canada on the U.N.

May 1 - Appears UNSCAM isn't going unnoticed by the Bush administration. Glad Jack's Newswatch caught these while I was putting out fires yesterday: 'Hang' U.N. Oil Ra$cals:

April 30, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - The State Department's No. 2 official said yesterday that those guilty of corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program "ought to hang."
What did I tell you? Give 'em enough rope ...

What I didn't expect was for Canadian PM Paul Martin to distance himself from the U.N., especially so soon after Kofi Annan addressed Parliament to a warm and admiring audience, and the Davos conference where Martin said:

Annan will be the first secretary general of the UN to address Parliament in the organization's 59-year existence. He was invited to the capital before U.S. President George W. Bush, something that Martin said he did deliberately to show "that Canada has a very important role to play in the world."
Yeah, I never got the logic of that statement either.

And what about the U.N. University for Peace that is to be installed in Toronto?

Read this and this and see if you can figure it out.

Maybe Martin took flip-flop lessons from Sen. Kerry ...

May 3 - 13:47: Roger Simon and commenters have more on Martin's speech here.

Posted by Debbye at 09:52 AM | Comments (1)

Tillman awarded Silver Star

May 1 - US Army Ranger Pat Tillman has been awarded the Silver Star posthumously (Army awards Tillman posthumous Silver Star.)

"Dumb jock?" If going back to assist fellow soldiers under fire is dumb, then I don't want to be smart.

"Tillman's platoon was split into two sections. Tillman was the team leader of the lead section when the trail section began receiving suppressive mortar and small-arms fire. ... [The] cavernous terrain made it extremely difficult to target enemy positions, and there was no room for the trail element to maneuver out of the kill zone.

Even though his element was out of the area that had come under fire, Tillman "ordered his team to dismount and maneuvered his team up a hill toward the enemy's location," the Army said.

During the battle, he issued "fire commands to take the fight to the enemy on the dominating high ground," the statement continued.

"Only after his team engaged the well-armed enemy did it appear their fires diminished."

Because of Tillman's leadership and his team's efforts, the trail section under fire "was able to maneuver through the ambush to positions of safety without a single casualty," the Army said.

Tillman was also promoted to corporal:

"The Army always notes that rank and promotion are not a reward of what was done well, but a recognition that you have the potential to do more," Army spokeswoman Martha Rudd told the AP. "This promotion is essentially saying he would have been a fine leader."
Greyhawk and homicidalManiak have expressed some thoughts about Tillman that civilians might want to look at and consider.

It's righteous that most Americans recognized immediately that what Tillman truly represents are the hundreds of thousands of men and women who put their lives on hold to serve their country.

God bless them all.

Update: Thanks, Murdoc. Fixed the error.

Posted by Debbye at 09:07 AM | Comments (2)

April 30, 2004

Ping for victory

Apr. 30 - Here's a challenge that anyone can meet: just trackback to Pudgy Pundit's HERE IS THE CHALLENGE!!! and Traves will donate to Spirit of America's drive to provide Freedom TV to Iraq for every ping.

Why have civilians enlisted in this cause? Read this.

Posted by Debbye at 10:08 AM | Comments (1)

April 29, 2004

Out of the mouths of babes ...

Apr. 29 - A post at Ith's that is just so very true ... It's The Little Things.

Posted by Debbye at 02:43 PM | Comments (1)

April 27, 2004

UNSCAM (Updated)

Apr. 27 - The testimony by Claudia Rosett on the U.N. Oil for Food program before the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations is up.

Apr. 28 - 18:13: Dick Morris in today's NY Post writes How to Buy a French Veto:

ANYONE who pines for genuine international multilateralism would do well to follow the bribes now being uncovered in the United Nations' Oil-for- Food scandal.

Why did France and Russia oppose efforts to topple Saddam Hussein's regime? And why did they press constantly, throughout the '90s, for an expansion of Iraqi oil sales? Was it their empathy for the starving children of that impoverished nation? Their desire to stop the United States from arrogantly imposing its vision upon the Middle East?
You just know where he's going. Keep the pressure on.

Posted by Debbye at 07:23 PM | Comments (1)

Looking through keyholes

Apr. 27 - NY Times columnist David Brooks takes a look at D.C. in Looking Through Keyholes:

These are the crucial months in Iraq. The events in Najaf and Falluja will largely determine whether Iraq will move toward normalcy or slide into chaos.

So how is Washington responding during this pivotal time? Well, for about three weeks the political class was obsessed by Richard Clarke and the hearings of the 9/11 commission, and, therefore, events that occurred between 1992 and 2001. Najaf was exploding, and Condoleezza Rice had to spend the week preparing for testimony about what may or may not have taken place during the presidential transition.

[...]

This is crazy. This is like pausing during the second day of Gettysburg to debate the wisdom of the Missouri Compromise. We're in the midst of the pivotal battle of the Iraq war and le tout Washington decides not to let itself get distracted by the ephemera of current events.

Damned freaking straight, Mr. Brooks.

Posted by Debbye at 11:49 AM | Comments (14)

Ask a good question ...

Apr. 27 - Sometimes we joke about the pithy responses of Glenn Reynolds, but you can't deny he can be short and direct as in the linked post where someone questions why the USA is seen as eeeevil when so many countries won't decriminalize the murders of women, aka, honour killings.

Apr. 28 - And an even better answer from Kathy, as well as a reminder of what some of those "elites" are from Ghost of a Flea.

Posted by Debbye at 10:32 AM | Comments (3)

April 26, 2004

They fought like lions

"I am very proud of my men. They fought like lions," said Capt. Douglas Zembiec.

Marine plays bagpipes in Fallujah.jpg
The above is of a Marine playing "America the Beautiful" on the bagpipes at Fallujah.

Imagine the strains of that song drifting to the Marines with the setting sun. It must have been a quiet moment, a reflective moment for them. They are so far from home, and surely they miss our spacious skies and purpled mountains. Yet they stay, and that song tells us why.

Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!

Until, that is, one Tuesday in September.

We, as a society, may have produced them, but these days they are producing us, and daily, by example, they remind us to be strong and us to be brave. The casualty reports hurt; news of roadside explosions and mortar attacks catch in our throats, but, like them, we must endure.

God bless them all. Never forget them, never take them for granted, never try to diminish their sacrifice with cynical exploitation, and never doubt their dedication.

And never, ever break faith with them.

Posted by Debbye at 08:11 PM | Comments (2)

Who pays for UN peacekeeping?

Apr. 26 - Eric Scheie started off wondering why the media is ignoring UNSCAM (read through the whole thing which, like all good questions, answers questions unasked) and he follows a path that came up with a link that answers some questions that have been nagging at me for awhile.

There are a lot of people who wanted the U.N. to take the lead in removing Saddam from Iraq for strictly financial reasons: they believed it better that the U.N. foot the bill instead of the entire burden falling on the American taxpayer. That attitude was understandable, but did it reflect reality?

Read this 1998 article at the Cato Institute: The United Nations Debt: Who Owes Whom?.

Not only does the Cliff Kincaid article indicate some questionable methods of channeling funds to the U.N. by the Clinton administration which bypassed Congress but also some early steps by lawmakers to try to end this circumvention. Some excerpts:

The United States paid more than $11 billion for international peacekeeping efforts between 1992 and 1997.

[Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.)] ... cites a Congressional Research Service report that found that the United States paid more than $11 billion for international peacekeeping efforts between 1992 and 1997. Although the report didn't specify how much of that money had been counted as U.S. "dues" to the UN, the figure could be as low as $1.8 billion. That leaves about $9 billion worth of what the administration calls "voluntary" international peacekeeping assistance. But the $9 billion only covers assistance provided by the Department of Defense. Other federal agencies have also been ordered by the administration to support the UN, bringing the sum of uncredited payments to perhaps $15 billion.

The $1.8 billion figure counted as U.S. "dues" to the world body derives from a 1996 General Accounting Office report on U.S. costs in support of UN-authorized "peace operations" in places like Haiti, Somalia and Rwanda during the previous three years. The figure represents the State Department's share of the costs of those operations. That is the budget from which the U.S. share of UN peacekeeping operations has traditionally been funded. Overall, the GAO found that the costs reported by U.S. government agencies for support of UN operations in those areas of the world was over $6.6 billion and that the UN had reimbursed the U.S. $79.4 million "for some of these costs." That leaves about $4.8 billion in what the administration calls "voluntary" assistance to the world body.

By refusing to pay the UN "debt," Congress would not only put a stop to the improper if not illegal practice of misappropriating funds to the UN; it would also acquire additional leverage for forcing tough reforms on that body...

Note that the $11bn figures doesn't include Gulf War I or Kosovo.

We are the forefront of peacemaking efforts on behalf of the U.N., and the American taxpayer involuntarily foots a bill which is not even charged to the U.N.

The taxpayer, under U.N. leadership in Iraq, would still have been footing the bill (as well as the blood) but the US soldier would have been operating under the same kind of feckless U.N. leadership as we saw in Somali, Rwanda and even the UNHQ at the Canal Hotel which was bombed in Baghdad because they failed to take security measures.

Again, note the date of the article and Congressional consideration of finding ways to cut off irregular U.N. funding: 1998.

Enter the oil-for-food project for Iraq, the 2.2% administration fee charged by the U.N. and, lest we forget, the 0.8% fee charged to Iraq for inspections even though they didn't happen afterr 1998 and then this revelation in yesterday's Daily Telegraph (UK) Oil-for-food inquiry says 'key' is $1bn UN paid itself in fees. Excerpts:

More than $1 billion (£560 million) collected by the United Nations as its "commission" on Iraq's oil-for-food programme has become a fresh focus for the inquiry into the biggest scandal ever to engulf the organisation.

At least $1.1 billion was paid directly into UN coffers, supposedly to cover the cost of administering the $67 billion scheme, while Saddam Hussein diverted funds intended for the poor and sick of Iraq to bribe foreign governments and prominent overseas supporters of his regime.

Although the UN Security Council approved the plan to levy a 2.2 per cent commission on each oil-for-food transaction, the huge sums this reaped for the UN have never been fully accounted for.

A senior UN official who is closely involved in uncovering evidence of the scandal admitted: "The UN was not doing this work just for the good of Iraq. Cash from Saddam's government was keeping the UN going for a few years.

"No one knows exactly what sums were involved because an audit has never been done. That is why they are wriggling and squirming now in New York."

[Mr Hankes-Drielsma] said that Iraqi investigators had discovered "memorandums of understanding" suggesting that Saddam could decide which UN officials operated within Iraq. "They were either at his beck and call, or they were sent home," he said. "It seems that we have still only uncovered the tip of the iceberg."

The first alarm bell is the inexplicably sloppy bookkeeping, which we usually take as a sign that there was corruption and the trail was deliberately muddied.

The second alarm bell is that the U.N. bureaucrats controlled $67 billion dollars, never did an audit despite questions raised in the UNSC as early as 1998, and that the organization has no provisions demanding financial accountability.

The third alarm bell is that much of the funding of U.N. missions were provided

a) by the US taxpayer bypassing Congress, and

b) by Saddam himself.

What are the odds that they would voluntarily end a revenue which they didn't even need to account for?

Think it through. In Canada we are being hit with revelation after revelation of financial wrongdoing on the federal, provincial and local levels and the ensuing investigations. Much as the financial irresponsibilities infuriate Canadians, there is a mechanism to make the Members of Parliament (and the parties they represent) accountable: elections.

The U.N. is now under investigation and the international community has no means to demand accountability because there are no elections. Maybe the proponents of the international community would like to explain why any free person would acknowledge the authority of the unelected U.N.

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

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)

April 22, 2004

Re-instating the draft

Apr. 22 - I guess when CNN creates addresses a controversial subject on one of their broadcasts, it needs to be addressed by rational people sooner rather than later.

The subject is reinstatement of the draft. Never mind that the armed forces have too many eager applicants and are turning people away, so it's unnecessary to force anyone to serve when so many are willing. Never mind that today's military are highly skilled, motivated men and women with training that consists of slightly more than 6 weeks in boot camp.

Donald Sensing dissects the arguments for reinstating the draft in A bad idea is a bad idea from a practical point of view, and John Hawkins takes a humourous look at some of the twitterings from the left and looks at who's for and who's against the draft in Chuck Hagel Is A Clown -- There Isn't Going To Be A Draft.

Posted by Debbye at 12:14 PM | Comments (5)

U.N. Oil for Food Program scandal (UNSCAM) hits British media

Apr. 22 - The Oil for Food program scandal (UNSCAM) has been covered by several articles today in the Daily Telegraph (UK) as well as other media in Britain, Canada, and the U.S.

From the Telegraph, UN officials 'covered up Saddam theft of billions in aid for Iraqis':

Saddam Hussein diverted huge sums from the £60 billion United Nations oil-for-food programme for the poor and sick of pre-war Iraq to foreign governments and vocal supporters of his regime worldwide, the US Congress heard yesterday.

Senior UN, French and Russian officials were alleged to have connived at the scandal, said Claude Hankes-Drielsma, who is leading the Iraqi Governing Council inquiry into the affair.

He said some suppliers, mostly Russian, routinely sent out-of-date or unfit food, or sent fewer goods than were paid for and padded out contracts. In that way they created an excess that could be skimmed off by Iraqi officials.

One of those named in Iraqi files as having received bribes on the sale of oil is Benon Sevan, the UN official in charge of the programme. Mr Sevan, who is on extended leave pending retirement, denied the claims.

Mr Hankes-Drielsma, a former leading executive at the London-based auditors Price Waterhouse, said that Saddam and his henchmen pocketed billions in surcharges and bribes.

The biggest humanitarian scheme in the UN's history had provided the dictator and "his corrupt and evil regime with a convenient vehicle through which he bought support internationally by bribing political parties, companies, journalists and other individuals of influence.

"The very fact that Saddam Hussein, the UN and certain members of the Security Council could conceal such a scam from the world should send shivers down every spine in this room today."

The Telegraph also has a scathing leader (editorial) Iraq has enough troubles without adding the U.N. which concludes:
There are enough problems attendant on the birth of democracy in Iraq without burdening the country with an organisation that proved so inadequate in confronting the previous dictatorship, whether over oil for food or defiance of Security Council resolutions. George W Bush and Tony Blair may welcome shedding the odious status of occupiers. But they should be under no illusions that the UN will prove an adequate substitute. Given its record in the Balkans and the Middle East, their continuing faith in that body as providing a unique cloak of legitimacy is astonishing.

Another article, Saddam cronies grew rich on cash meant for the starving, points out the hypocrisy of those on the UNSC opposed to the war:

Yesterday, the United States Congress was told that Iraqi files indicated that some of the most vocal critics of sanctions were on the take from Saddam Hussein, benefiting from monies intended to buy food and medicine.

Such friends of Iraq were granted vouchers to buy and trade Iraqi oil, though such vouchers should have been reserved for oil firms with refineries. The vouchers allowed the bearers to make millions in profits.

One of those named in Iraqi files as having profited from the sale of oil is Benon Sevan, the top UN official in charge of the oil-for-food programme. Another is a former French ambassador to the UN, Jean-Bernard Merimee, according to Claude Hankes-Drielsma, who is leading the Iraqi Governing Council's inquiry into the issue.

He told a Congressional sub-committee that Iraq's suppliers routinely sent out of date, or unfit, food to Iraq, or sent fewer goods than were paid for, in order to "pad out" contracts so they could be "skimmed off" by Iraqi officials. Most of those suppliers were Russian companies.

Those involved have reason to fear, Congress was told.

The fall of Saddam uncovered a mountain of meticulous files in several Iraqi ministries, detailing every last aspect of the bribes and commissions extracted by those in Saddam's pay.

[...]

UN officials, for their part, have called for evidence of the claims being made, and hinted - off the record - that the investigations were being driven by the political animus of Ahmad Chalabi, a Pentagon favourite who is disliked and distrusted at the UN. But Mr Hankes-Drielsma told Congress that the UN had a clear case to answer, which ran to the very top.

"From the information available to date, it is clear that the UN failed in its responsibility to the Iraqi people in administering the oil-for-food programme during the period 1995 to 2003. It will not come as a surprise if the oil-for-food programme turns out to be one of the world's most disgraceful scams and an example of inadequate control, responsibility and transparency, providing an opportune vehicle for Saddam Hussein to operate under the United Nations aegis to continue his reign of terror and oppression."

He added that it appeared to be no coincidence that the countries most involved in the corruption - Russia, France and Syria, to name just three - were among the fiercest opponents of toppling Saddam as they sat in the UN Security Council.

Then, in How the system was abused,
According to Al Mada, the Iraqi newspaper that listed the names of some of the individuals allegedly involved in the scam, French and Russian middlemen formed the largest group.

Russians received more than 2.5 billion barrels of cut-rate crude, some 1.4 billion barrels of which went to the Russian state, according to Iraqi documents leaked to the paper.

French oil traders gained 165 million barrels of cut-rate crude.

The scam worked on two levels. Not only did Iraqi oil purchasers benefit from being able to resell at huge profit but also Saddam distributed "oil vouchers" to corporations, political parties and individuals whom he favoured.

More, in French and Russian politicians 'bribed to relax UN sanctions':
Documents emerging from Baghdad appear to show how Russian and French politicians and businessmen were bribed by Saddam, using money skimmed off the oil-for-food programme. These claims have been denounced by many in France as American propaganda.

UN officials say their programme was audited more than 100 times, although it has never made public the detailed findings.

What is known is that France and Russia's financial interest in Iraq was heavily influenced by Saddam's failure to pay for billions of pounds of arms sold to him on credit during the late 1980s. Many of the weapons were then used to invade Kuwait.

France joined the Allied liberation of Kuwait at the last minute, but its government was left guaranteeing £3 billion in loans to Saddam which he had no intention of repaying.

France's relationship with Saddam dated back to the mid-1970s when Jacques Chirac, the then prime minister, visited Baghdad. Between 1974 and 1990, more than 20 French ministers from all the main parties travelled to Iraq to expand France's commercial interests, which ranged from construction to armaments and a nuclear reactor that the Israelis promptly bombed.

Iraq became France's second biggest oil supplier and France in turn became Iraq's second largest civil and military supplier.

Even when Iraq began to show signs of financial strain during its war with Iran, France helped out. In 1986, M Chirac promised French arms makers that it would guarantee any credit they extended to Saddam.

Even after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the US-led war to evict him the following year, the special relationship between France and Iraq continued.

In 1994, Charles Pasqua, the then interior minister, gave a visa to Saddam's right hand man, Tariq Aziz. France's UN ambassador lobbied for the easing of sanctions against Iraq. The fruit of this was Iraq's acceptance of the oil-for-food programme in 1995. A French bank, BNP Paribas, was chosen to do much of the financial administration.

Critics of the programme say it swiftly became a way for Saddam to reward his friends in the West and manipulate the UN.

[...]

In Russia, companies supplying goods and services to Iraq under the UN's oil-for-food programme enjoyed years of inflated contracts and preferential treatment with Iraq.

In return, Moscow used its clout as a permanent UN Security Council member to influence the sanctions programme in Iraq's favour.

Sweetheart deals between Moscow and Baghdad for products ranging from rice to refinery equipment continued right up to the moment American and British forces invaded Iraq last year. In 1997 Lukoil, one of Russia's leading oil firms, signed a deal for exploration and extraction in Iraq's western Qorna region, where reserves were estimated at 20 billion barrels.

In the summer of 2001 when London and Washington were pressing the UN to reduce the list of goods and services permitted under the programme, Russia threatened to use its Security Council veto unless the sanctions were left unchanged for a further five months.

Mohammed Salekh, Saddam's trade minister, said that as a reward, Russia received contracts worth £22 billion, almost 10 times more than it had received in the previous five years.

The Telegraph even links to the U.N. News Centre story of the independent panel that will probe the Oil-For-Food allegations. London NewsNet quotes panel head Paul Volcker on the aims of the panel here, and the London Times has an article (but I'm not a subscriber so I couldn't access it.)

The Toronto Star carries the story, U.N. backs probe of Oil-for-food scandal which makes it look as though Annan always wanted this investigation; the Toronto Sun has UNSC approval of the investigatory panel which has a bit more substance than the Star coverage but not by much.

CTV-Canada has a story about Muslims leaders urging a greater role for the U.N. in Iraq but I saw nothing about the probe.

The CBC - surprise - takes a very sharp tone in UN Security Council approves oil-for-food probe:

Russia and France wanted a discreet internal probe, thinking it was better to keep the corruption charges in-house at the UN rather than have outside investigators poking into the alleged links between Saddam, top UN staffers and Russian and French companies.

Resolution 1538, as it is officially known, may come to be remembered as the official lifting of the lid on a financial scandal that could ultimately dwarf even the worst excesses of Wall Street.

The UN oil-for-food program in Iraq was supposed to be a humanitarian effort. Profits from Iraqi oil sales were to be used exclusively to buy food and medicine for the people of Iraq.

But it seems billions of dollars may have gone missing.

CBS has a story about the independent investigation but hardly the extensive information ABC carried yesterday.

Glenn Reynolds has some links from yesterday as well as today's links to US papers on the scandal, including one that goes into politicians who received money from Samir Vincent and Shakir Alkhalaji who were on the list of those who allegedly received oil vouchers from Saddam.

Austin Bay has an article on The Myth of Oil for Food at Strategy Page.

Something I didn't have a chance to post yesterday is an article by Claudia Rosett in OpinionJournal - The Real World and some ideas how the U.N. could realistically help Iraq.

It seems the U.N. is holding approximately $100 million to cover potential liabilities from the Canal Hotel bombing last August that destroyed the U.N. HQ in Bagdad:

Given that the independent report last October on the U.N.'s security systems in Baghdad found the entire U.N. security apparatus "dysfunctional," and given that the dysfunction was so egregious that the U.N. recently fired the official in charge, it seems strange to reserve that $100 million to help the U.N. potentially cover the cost of its own grievous mistakes. That money was meant to help provide for the betterment of the 26 million citizens of Iraq, not insure the U.N. against its own malfunctions.

As it happens, Iraq-born architect Kanan Makiya was in New York recently seeking funds for the project of building a memorial and a holocaust museum in Baghdad, the better to help Iraq's people understand and come to grips with the atrocities of Saddam's regime. The project would include the cataloguing and preservation of millions of pages of documentation, and the presentation of evidence about the decades of abuse that took place, from which Iraq must still recover. Mr. Makiya is director of the Iraq Memory Foundation (www.iraqmemory.org), which is trying to assemble this project. His proposal states: "The Iraq Memory Foundation is not a project intended to apportion blame or play politics. First and foremost it is designed to allow future generations of Iraqis to glimpse the inner sanctum of the atrocities that were perpetrated during the period of Ba'athist rule from 1968 until 2003."

[...]

For this project, Mr. Makiya is seeking, ultimately, an endowment of some $40 million. That's less than half what is still sitting in the Secretariat's own Oil-for-Food account, and it is hard to imagine a more appropriate use of this money than to help Iraqis document, preserve and confront the full truth of Saddam's abuse. In the interest of fairness, the U.N. might also want to turn over a portion of the remaining $60 million or so for a memorial in northern Iraq, where Saddam used chemical weapons to murder thousands of Kurds, and another portion to southern Iraq, site of so many of Saddam's mass graves. It would be the philosophical beginning of restitution for U.N. collusion with Saddam, and of genuine re-legitimization for the U.N. in Iraq.

Pay a visit to the Iraq Memory Foundation and see what you think.

Dang. This post is long even for me.

Posted by Debbye at 08:41 AM | Comments (5)

April 21, 2004

Remembering the Chaplains

Apr. 21 - Letter from a chaplain serving in Iraq in "... the preachers weren't teaching the golden rule today.":

Second, I work to coordinate Good Friday, Easter Sunrise and Protestant Easter Service. Having services in a war zone is a little different.

A) we have to worry about getting large numbers of people in one place. One mortar round into the right place and you could kill alot of marines.

B) organists are in sort supply and we don't have an organ. Music?

C) We are going to worship and it will be well attended...we need Easter..because we live in the valley of the shadow of death..we need the resurrection.

Remember those who serve.

18:42 I really didn't do this justice, but those who followed the link and read the entire letter already understand why. It is powerful, possibly one of the most powerful accounts from Iraq I've read in a long time.

Posted by Debbye at 12:13 AM | Comments (1)

April 19, 2004

Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, France

Apr. 19 - There were persistent rumours throughout last winter that a spring offensive would be launched against Syria, possibly in Lebanon. Many bloggers, including me, backed off when we suddenly realized that the rumours were probably true.

One of the older rumours asserted that WMD were hidden in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. My oldest complains that we Americans communicate as much by what we don't say as by what we do say; for example, I interpreted the president's joke about searching his office for WMD as saying Yes, we are still looking for them. I also interpret the fact that the administration has not said that there were no WMD in Iraq as asserting that intelligence still believes that they were there and the rumours and spin around WMD are a smokescreen to confuse the enemy.

Saddam's WMD weren't central to my support of the Iraq War; removing Saddam and Iraq's geographical position were. Nevertheless, finding them is a priority. The fact that Jordan hasn't released specifics about the chemicals that were to be used in the thwarted attack is suggestive but inconclusive and highly frustrating. Is the lack of specificity to hide intelligence or to produce rumours? Take your pick.

Despite the certainty stated by King Abdullah of Jordan that Assad was not involved in the thwarted terrorist attack, the firefights on the Syrian border with Iraq are extremely suggestive: either Assad isn't doing anything to stop them or he is passing information to both the Jordanians and the US.

I think it more likely he is trying to do both, but my view is skewed by the fact that I don't trust him.

Apr. 22 11:30 Further speculation that this could be connected to Saddam's missing WMD.

Wretchard concludes

Indeed, it is virtually certain that Al-Qaim, Ramadi and Fallujah and the road network from Baghdad constitute a single "front" centered on Syria, whose principal axis is the Euphrates itself. Operations in Fallujah cannot be understood without putting it in the context of the wider area.
Read the report on the front at al-Ramadi by Oliver North: Back in Iraq if you haven't already done so not only for a military analysis of what is happening there but also to restate what is a major strategy in Iraq: encouraging the people there to participate in their own nation building.

That practice is contrary to the politics of victimology. For all the modern psychobabble about "empowerment," our touchy-feely philosophers back away from actually allowing people true power over their lives. It's all very well to claim you feel my pain, but insulting when you're causing it.

The US media, with notable exceptions, continues bewail that the U.N. isn't going to take charge. The American people who follow the news, meanwhile, are watching the stymied independent U.N. investigation as well as the Senate investigation into the U.N. Oil for Food program and more questions about the viability of the UN are being raised.

[Aside: I noted that Glenn Reynolds has referred to it as UNScam.]

In the classic definition of conservative, those trying to preserve institutions and social attitudes despite their lack of relevance but strictly for preservation's sake are the conservatives. The U.N. is an excellent case in point, and the argument that it should be preserved "because we don't have anything better" is a classic conservative argument; a classic liberal response would be "let's build a better institution."

Do we need new definitions? Maybe liberal-conservative and conservative-liberals might fit the reality if not the emotional.

Sometimes I think the real war is between the Departments of State and Defense. Michael Ledeen has a brilliant essay in the Opinion Journal The Iranian Hand that notes revelations by the Italian intelligence agency

That the war being waged by Shiite militants throughout Iraq is not just a domestic "insurgency" has been documented by the Italian Military Intelligence Service (Sismi). In a report prepared before the current wave of violence, Sismi predicted "a simultaneous attack by Saddam loyalists" all over the country, along with a series of Shiite revolts.
The Italians knew that these actions were not just part of an Iraqi civil war, nor a response to recent actions taken by the Coalition Provisional Authority against the forces of Sadr. According to Italian intelligence, the actions were used as a pretext by local leaders of the factions tied to an Iran-based ayatollah, Kazem al-Haeri, who was "guided in his political and strategic choices by ultraconservative Iranian ayatollahs in order to unleash a long planned general revolt." The strategic goal of this revolt, says Sismi, was "the establishment of an Islamic government of Khomeinist inspiration." The Italian intelligence agency noted that "the presence of Iranian agents of influence and military instructors has been reported for some time." Our own government will not say as much publicly, but Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, have recently spoken of "unhelpful actions" by Iran (and Syria).

[...]

The editor of the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah recently wrote a front-page editorial saying that Hezbollah and Hamas were working with Sadr, "backed by the ruling religious fundamentalists in Tehran and the nationalist Baathists in Damascus." No classified information was required for that claim, since Sadr himself has publicly proclaimed that his militia is the fighting arm of both Hezbollah and Hamas. Nonetheless, the State Department still doesn't believe--or won't admit publicly--that there's a connection between Sadr's uprising and Iran's mullahs. Just last week, State's deputy spokesman, Adam Ereli, told reporters that "We've seen reports of Iranian involvement, collusion, provocation, coordination, etc., etc. But I think there's a dearth of hard facts to back these things up."

One wonders what Foggy Bottom's analysts make of Sadr's recent visit to Iran, when he met with Hashemi Rafsanjani (the No. 2 power in the regime), Murtadha Radha'i (head of intelligence for the Revolutionary Guards) and Brig. Gen. Qassim Suleimani (the al-Quds Army commander in charge of Iraqi affairs). And what might they say about the fact that much of Sadr's funding comes straight from Ayatollah al-Haeri, one of the closest allies of the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei?

Ledeen is being rhetorical. We know how Foggy Bottom thinks: maintain the illusion of friendship and cooperation whatever the cost, including lives.
Above all, they [the American people] want to hear our leaders state clearly and repeatedly--as Ronald Reagan did with the "Evil Empire"--that regime change in Iran is the goal of American policy. Thus far, they have heard conflicting statements and mealy-mouthed half truths of the sort presented by Mr. Ereli, along with astonishing proclamations, such as the one by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, in which he averred that Iran is "a democracy." (One wonders whether he will liken Muqtada al-Sadr to Patrick Henry.)
Fortunately, we don't have to rely on the State Department for news out of Iran. Feminists in particular might take note of this story from The Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran which recounts the rescue of a woman who was taken into custody for "non-Islamic comformity."

The details of the evidence which led to the issuing of an arrest warrant for Muqtada al-Sadr in the murder of Abdul Majeed al-Khoei poses one glaring question: to what extent, if any, was Iran implicated in that murder? Al-Sadr has openly proclaimed his solidarity with Hezbollah and Hamas - based to the east and to the west of Iraq - and I think it more likely that his solidarity was a statement of fact rather than an attempt to form a coalition.

Mr. Armitage (and the State Department) might also read the open letter to Congress of March 11 before he pronounces Iran to be a democracy. As for Sen. Kerry's blunderous call to drop sanctions against Iran, he will probably try to flip-flop-flip on that too but certainly the pro-democracy forces in Iran won't be fooled.

I suspect that cleaning up State will be a post-election endeavour given Bush's victory, but the cost of allowing them to continue to set their own policies may turn out to be high indeed.

I include France in this because of a that French passports are missing: 10,000 in February (6,300 were stolen on Feb. 3 and 3,000 disappeared on Feb. 10.) The story also notes that

The Feb. 3 incident, the FBI said, also included the theft of 5,000 blank French driver's licenses, 10,000 blank car ownership certificates, 25 titres de voyages (Geneva Convention travel documents) and 1,000 international driver's licenses without any identification numbers.
There are reasons other than terrorist-related to steal passports, of course, and the number of French passports missing is minor compared to Canada's 25,000 annual rate.

Relationship to Iran? Possibly none, or possibly another dot to the French-built nuclear facility.

Aside: Stealth posting is a pain. I don't have the time necessary to paintakingly link everything from past events much less draw definitive conclusions from current events.

But I doubt I really need to connect things for most readers and do it more to clarify my own thoughts.

Disclaimer over. And I am so far behind in my (ahem) real work.

Posted by Debbye at 11:32 AM | Comments (1)

April 17, 2004

Gorelick urged to step down II

Apr. 17 - Jonah Goldberg nailed much of the US media on CNN yesterday for not paying attention to the conflict of interest of Jamie Gorelick's membership on the Sept. 11 Commission given her construction of the wall that prevented intelligence and criminal divisions from sharing information as well as her connection to anti-terrorism efforts under the Clinton administration.

Linda Chavez Misplaced priorities . . . with walls keep the pressure on.

There were probably still people who believe that the commission is not an exercise of partisanship, but I fail to see how they can maintain that position after Ashcroft's testimony.

Those who wanted a blame game got it. Now what will they do?

21:43: Jamie Gorelick's conflict of interest is much more than reported thus far. Among other things, she is a partner in the lawfirm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering which is representing Prince Mohammed al-Faisal al-Saud who is connected to a financial agency which is being sued by Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism, which is a coaltion of 600 Sept. 11 families. Link from Alpha Patriot, who lists more conflicts here.

Posted by Debbye at 10:14 AM | Comments (1)

Convinctions under Patriot Act

Apr. 17 - I've opined before that everyone rushing to claim persecution whenever someone is arrested has an inherent danger.

Tracking down and stopping terrorists is a priority. Period.

I'm happy to applaud successes, as in this one which Terence P. Jeffrey writes about in the Washington Times commentary Two who didn't get away.

But, and it's a major one, when the automatic response for every arrest is to scream "fascist totalitarian pigs" then those who should be at the forefront of making sure that innocent people are not victimized have reduced their credibility and when an innocent person is indeed victimized - and the odds are that will happen and, in fact, appears to have happened in the case of a chaplain stationed at Guantanamo - then we will have been so pre-conditioned by the hysteria of those groups that we could fail to pay proper attention when necessary.

We all know the fable of the little boy who cried Wolf!

Groups like the ACLU and Amnesty International have a responsibility, and if they won't be responsible they must be replaced by more sober people who are more interested in justice than political opportunism.

Knee-jerk reactions in war time is unacceptable.

Posted by Debbye at 09:56 AM | Comments (9)

Bush and Blair meeting

Apr. 17 - No one should be surprised that British PM Blair is in accordance with the president's support of Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and portions of the West Bank; what would have been a surprise would have been if the president had not discussed this with the prime minister before the announcement was made. That's just common sense, but few expect that in the news media any more.

To the story: Bush, Blair endorse Israel's land claims:

"Look, what have people been asking for years?" he added. "They've been asking for the Israelis to withdraw from the occupied territories."
Both leaders sensibly refused to comment on some comments of Israeli PM Sharon's until they saw the context.

Sharon reportedly said that the plan would bring an end to the dreams of Palestinians.

As the avowed aim of a great many Palestinian groups is the annhilation of Israel, I can't help wondering if that's the dream Sharon was referring to, but I too haven't seen the context of the comments.

In Gaza City, thousands of Palestinians are reported to have marched demanding the release of prisoners being held in Israel:

In Gaza City, parents carried pictures of their imprisoned sons and daughters. Actors dressed as Israeli soldiers beat shackled and blindfolded Palestinian "prisoners," using the back of a truck draped with barbed wire as their stage.

Leaders of the militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad threatened to kidnap Israeli soldiers as bargaining chips in future prisoner swaps with Israel - a tactic successfully used by the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah.

There have been no successfuly terrorist attacks in Israel since Yassin was killed.

09:04 - CNN has a summation of the Israeli disengagement plan.

Posted by Debbye at 08:53 AM | Comments (1)

April 13, 2004

Sept. 11 Commission Hearings

Apr. 13 - I missed this morning's testimony, so am noting the links to the story on CNN and Fox.

As for this afternoon's testimony, Ashcroft blew them away, and, unsurprisingly, CNN headlines the website story with with "Ex-FBI chief criticizes Ashcroft" instead of Ashcroft's reminding them of the "wall" which kept intelligence and criminal investigations from sharing information and pooling resources.

Atty. Gen. Ashcroft angrily pointed out that FBI perceptions about this wall is what kept FBI investigators from getting a search warrant to access Moussaoui's laptop computer which might in turn have provided the information necessary to connect other nebulous dots and let us know that we were in danger of imminent attack.

I had just read (via Instapundit) the National Review article about the "wall" (What about the wall by Andrew McCarthy.) Read it, and please don't be too quick to leap to judgement.

One of the revelations of the Watergate Hearings was that the FBI had spied upon American citizens who were involved in a number of legal organizations including those promoting civil rights and the movement against the war in Vietnam as well as legal student and leftists organizations. The operation, known as COINTELPRO, involved wire taps, stealing mail out of the target's mailbox to read, re-seal and return, and questioning the target's employer and family members. It also involved sending in agents provocateur to encourage groups to engage in illegal acts like bombing, vandalism and sabotage.

Some of the names of those agents came out, and I shouldn't have been surprised (although I was) that two people I had dismissed as nutcases were actually FBI agents. The one had constantly advocated that we bomb the computer room at San Francisco State College whenever mass meetings were held about political actions and the other was just plain strange but didn't advocate violent actions (we always thought we was stoned, but it turned out he was taking painstaking notes.)

Read the Wikipedia post linked above on the subject; these are not accusations against the US government, they are facts. The breaking in of offices, theft of documents and acts like firehosing the offices were assumed by us to be as likely to be actions of pro-war types as actions by police and law enforcement, but it was a shock to get proof that it was the FBI behind these acts. Didn't they have real criminals to chase?

[Aside to Canadians: even the Communist Party in the USA was never outlawed. Even at the height of the McCarthy hearings, the Party was legal and ran candidates in local, state and federal elections. As I stated, these were operations against legal organizations.]

On the other hand, we took it for granted our office and home phones were tapped and as I lived with a group of girls aged 18-21, the main topic of discussion over the phones were (surprise!) school, boys and clothes. (Some poor junior agent had to transcribe these conversations. Good grief.)

Far more serious was the death of Fred Hampton in 1969. It's not exactly relevant to the discussion at hand, but for those of us who were politically active, it was as outrageous as the deaths of 4 students at Kent State in 1970.

I never forget that there are several good reasons why Americans don't trust the government. But I also know that to hang on to attitudes from 30 years after a major attack as the one we suffered on Sept. 11 is as dangerous as it is to blindly trust any government.

Back to the subject and putting the above into context, steps were taken to reduce the power of the FBI to spy on us and it actively hurt us in assessing the threat before Sept. 11 and in part that's because these protections were extended to everyone on US soil including illegal aliens and that in turn opens up another overloaded bureaucratic entity, Immigration. And State, who granted visas to people who were already on watch lists.

But it also partially stems from political correctness which comes from exellent sentiments and motives but when taken too far, acts as blinders.

That stupid pendulum. It gets you every time.

Perhaps all that means that if you must blame someone, you can blame J. Edgar Hoover for his single-mindedness in interfering with the rights of Americans to organize to seek to change the politicies of the government of the day.

To be sure, it would be heavy-handed to lay the entire culture of intelligence dysfunction at the feet of the Clinton administration. If we are to play the blame game, there is plenty to go around. The relevant history in fact goes back to the 1978 enactment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1862). FISA, a reaction to domestic-intelligence abuses during the Vietnam and Watergate eras, permits the federal courts to regulate and monitor the executive branch's execution of two crucial investigative techniques — electronic surveillance and physical searches — in the context of national-security (or "intelligence") investigations. This is in contrast to ordinary criminal investigations, where the use of those techniques is governed by other federal law — what is called "Title III" for wiretaps or bugs, and the criminal procedure rules that govern searches.
The wall that Ashcroft referred to was constructed by Sept. 11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick, and anyone who has following the hearings has noted her exceptionally haughty and virulent manner on the Commission. As McCarthy notes,
Commissioner Gorelick, as deputy attorney general — the number two official in the Department of Justice — for three years beginning in 1994, was an architect of the government's self-imposed procedural wall, intentionally erected to prevent intelligence agents from pooling information with their law-enforcement counterparts. That is not partisan carping. That is a matter of objective fact. That wall was not only a deliberate and unnecessary impediment to information sharing; it bred a culture of intelligence dysfunction. It told national-security agents in the field that there were other values, higher interests, that transcended connecting the dots and getting it right. It set them up to fail. To hear Gorelick lecture witnesses about intelligence lapses is breathtaking.
The panel's questions and follow-ups were subdued, to say the least. I, for one, had severely underestimated the Attorney General and never would have figured Ashcroft to be so passionate.

Of course it helps your case when you have copies of the "wall" memo on hand because you just had it de-classified. He shoots, he scores!

Heh, I see Glenn Reynolds is saying Ashcroft slammed Jamie Gorelick and provides a link to the NY Times article on the subject.

The memo on the wall is here. It's a .pdf, and it finally loaded.

19:29 Ith is fed up and adds some information from history which I guess means that we were also as whiny and selfish in WWII.

23:09: The Washington Post has the transcripts up here.

Transcript for Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's statement here; Former Atty. Gen. Janet Reno's statement here; Former FBI Director Louis Freeh's statement here, and former Interim FBI Director Thomas Pichard's statement here.

Posted by Debbye at 06:59 PM | Comments (3)

April 08, 2004

Courage

Apr. 8 - Today is Bill Whittle's birthday and he has started a new enterprise (it's a short post) so go over and wish him a happy birthday!

While you're there, read History.

Seriously. Read about Gettysburg, and a professor from Maine named Joshua Chamberlain.

And so we come to this exact time and place. It is the 2nd of July, 1863, just south of a small Pennsylvania town. You are on a small hill covered with thin pine trees. Your face is black with gunpowder: it burns your throat and eyes, it has cracked your lips, and you are more thirsty than you believed possible.

All around you are dead and dying men, some moaning, some screaming in agony as they clutch shattered arms or hold in their bowels. The field in front of you is covered with dead Rebels, and yet the ground looks alive, undulating, as the wounded Confederates try to crawl back to safety. In the woods below you can hear fresh enemy troops arrive, hear orders being issued in the soft accents of the deep South. You have no more musket rounds. There aren’t even very many rocks left to throw. And you know that this time, they will succeed.

These men have never been beaten, least of all by you. You are a professor of Rhetoric at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. As you walk what is left of your line, you know you have fought bravely and well, done more than could ever be asked of you. You have no choice but to fall back in orderly retreat. Your men are out of ammunition. To stand here and take another charge is to die. It’s that simple. These men are your responsibility. Their families depend on you to bring them home. Many have already died. To not retreat will likely condemn many more wives to being widows, not the least your own.

You look down past the dead and dying men to the bottom of the hill. Masses of determined Confederate men are emerging, coming for you. They are not beaten. They are determined to have this hill. Off to your left stands Old Glory, the hinge in your pathetic, small gate.

You know that this is war to preserve a Union, a system of government four score and seven years old. Many said such a system of self rule could not possibly survive. If you retreat now, today will be the day they are proven right.

Gettysburg. A Southern attack on Northern soil. France was offering to hold peace talks. England was on the verge of recognizing the Confederacy. This experiment in democracy was less than a hundred years old and it teetered at the brink. You're out of ammunition, you're running out of rocks, and you must hold that position. The union depends, literally, on you denying them the high ground.
You cannot go back. You cannot stay here. Your men look at you. You utter two words:

“Fix Bayonets.”

You can see the reaction on the faces of the men. No, that can’t be right. He couldn’t possibly mean it.

But you do mean it. You know history. In the middle of this shock and death and agony, amid the blood and stench and acrid smoke, you have the perspective even now to see what is really at stake here.

As Chamberlain walked his line one last time, he smiled, and shouted, “Stand firm, ye boys of Maine, for not once in a century are men permitted to bear such responsibilities!" (My emphases)

Then, after reading "History," read the day's news. Read about the fierce fighting in Fallujah.

And know that the men and women in Iraq know what they're fighting for.

May God bless and protect those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 09:58 PM | Comments (8)

Sept. 11 Commission Hearings

Apr. 8 - The transcript of Dr. Rice's testimony before the Sept. 11 Commission is here (via Murdoc.)

The text of the presidential daily briefing is here. As Dr. Rice said, it is primarily a document outlining the history of al Qaeda intentions in the US and non-specific. Key quote:

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.

I watched it Live! on CNN. Dr. Rice did well, I thought, but when one of the commission members challenged the "swatting flies" characterisation of prior dealings with terrorists and said we had only done that once, I kept muttering "aspirin factory in Sudan" but she didn't hear me.

The outbursts of applause from both sides sickened me - they parodised the proceedings and stripped away the dignity the hearings should have had. I almost wished the hearings were subject to the same rules as a true courtroom so the panel chair could have cleared the room after the first outburst.

The enemy seems to believe that what is strutted before the television cameras is us (understandable in that those on both sides of the camera seem to believe that also.) We do give the appearance of easy prey.

After Dr. Rice's testimony, CNN immediately turned to the ongoing battles in Iraq, and their propaganda was in full On mode. They show a tank with a small fire (hit a mine?) and show a Marine emerging with what appeared to be a burnt forearm and blood on his thigh - the commentator talked about how graphic the images were and how disturbing some might find them.

Note to CNN: I'm much more concerned about the soldiers who can't walk away than those who can, especially when I can plainly see that same Marine charging back to help put out the fire.

One of the most vivid silver screen moments from A Few Good Men is when somebody asks Galloway why she likes the Mariines and she replies

Because they stand upon a wall and say, "Nothing's going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch."
Forget the shenanigans in DC. The real heart of America is in Iraq and on other walls around the world.

Posted by Debbye at 02:52 PM | Comments (1)

April 05, 2004

Hessians? Think Again.

Apr. 5 - I wrote the post Andy Bradsell, KIA in Iraq, about an extraordinary Canadian who, with his partner Christopher McDonald, put themselves between a convoy of executives from the power plant and gunmen. Although the convoy did reach the power plant safely, Mr. Bradsell and Mr. McDonald were killed.

We call that service above and beyond.

I would ask that readers follow the link, not for my words but for the words of tribute from Andy's aunt, June Bradsell, and two several of his friends in the comments. Of especial concern is the pain caused by those who grabbed the label "mercenary" to shrug aside Bradsell's heroism, explain their lack of outrage over the events in Fallujah and who even invoked the despised Hessians of the late 18th century, the deployment of whom in colonial America was the cause of much grievance against Mother England.

We call that propaganda. We call that a deliberate distortion of the truth. We call that using a term that attempts to focus emotional images in the minds of Americans from the past as a way of excusing the ugliness of the present.

I've tried not to let my rage write this post, but it finally occurred to me that the fact that Americans started this mercenary nonsense was a good thing because I can take the gloves off when I'm dealing with my countryman whereas I try to be more diplomatic when dealing with Canadians.

The men we've lost in Iraq are among the bravest of the brave. It is precisely because they are there by choice that elevates them to a place of special respect and honour and the military personnel in Iraq consideres them partners, not impediments or competitors.

What don't those who contemptuously call these men "mercenaries" comprehend?

The actions of men like Bradsell, McDonald and those who died in Fallujah speak more eloquently than any words I can summon to describe such men.

What is it propagandists would have us forget? That Bradsell and McDonald deliberately put themselves in harm's way to protect those who are trying to stabilize the flow of electricity in Iraq? That Zovko, Teague, Helvenston and Batalona knew when they drove into Fallujah that they could be ambushed and deployed themselves to take the fire and allow the food convoy to get through?

Actually, yes. That diversion from the mission of contractors like these men and the others who are working in Iraq is exactly what they hoped to achieve. We got to squabbling about the term mercenary and forgot why their presence is vital to restoring Iraq.

Iraq is dangerous. There are many forces there who care very much that electricity flows are disrupted and food is scarce because they want to destablizing the country further. As they have demonstrated for the last 35 years, they care nothing for the welfare of the Iraqi people. Yet, due to the political polarisation over Operation Iraqi Freedom, their stealth tactics have caused many on the anti-war left who believe themselves to support a liberation struggle to say things and take positions that I think they will someday regret.

Many who presumed to speak out angrily on behalf of Iraqis who suffered electrical black-outs have been silent about both the attempts to restore service and those who would sabotage and disrupt those services. Many who anxiously warned of humanitarian disaster in the wake of the war have been silent about attempts to deliberately disrupt the delivery of food and supplies. That's their contradiction, not mine, and there will come a time when the more honest of them will see that their desire to defend their opposition to the Iraq war has led them to violate their own values.

Remember the human shields who piously and nobly headed to Iraq before the war? Mohammed does and quotes from his 2003 journal:

The worse I hate are those human shields. I hate them for their stupidity, what peace they seek? Don’t they think for one moment about what’s happening here? We’re already dead. Whom are they defending? I don’t know.
Today there are real human shields in Iraq, and they are contributing to the fight to restore life to Iraq after 35 years of living death. Maybe their importance is illustrated by what happens when they aren't present.

Web logger Bob Zangas, after being Iraq for 6 months with the USMC, returned as a civilian with the Public Affairs office with the Coaltion Provisional Authority. This was his final entry from Iraq. Bob was killed in an ambush on March 10:

Zangas, another CPA employee and their Iraqi interpreter were killed Tuesday evening when Iraqi policemen chased the vehicle in which they were riding, forced it off a road and then executed them with a hail of machine gunfire.

The three had been on a return trip to their fortified compound in Hilla after they had visited a newly opened Women's Rights Center in Karbala. The other American, Fern Holland, had worked as a lawyer in Oklahoma before coming to Iraq.

Bob, Fern Holland, and their interpreter were travelling without escort.

But the underlying question remains on the table: why do men like Bob Zangas and Andy Bradsell put themselves at risk in a country like Iraq? Is it for the money? Adventure? Or are they answering a higher calling?

Greyhawk over at Mudville Gazette answers this and other questions with a number of links to military bloggers in The "Mercenary" Response among which is Grimbeorn who proclaims himself to be a mercenary and explains why he volunteered (note that I tried to excerpt this, but dang! the entire post is wonderful):

All the identified are former members of the US military. So what are they doing in Iraq?

I can answer, as I volunteered for such a deployment earlier this year--although my employer preferred to keep me working at another GWOT project in the USA. I volunteered recently for a deployment to Kabul, about which I've not yet heard.

I would be surprised to learn that these men differed very much in motives. Like them, I joined the military--the USMC--right out of high school, largely for patriotic reasons, though also out of a youth's desire for adventure. My service ended in 1994. On 9/11, I abandoned the career I'd embarked upon and started looking for ways to return to service.

Damned straight. And Beorn is hardly alone: most of us responded to Sept. 11 with a desire to do something, anything, to defend our country and values.
The military has strict caps on how many people it can have, though, at every grade. The USMC, being the smallest, has the least room--and the wave of volunteers that came with 9/11 meant that recruitment was, and remains, topped out. There was simply no room.

There are also age limits, and in the years since 9/11, I've run afoul of them. Even if room opened up now, I couldn't return because I'm too old.

But our service is still needed. I went looking for other ways to serve, since the military was closed to me. I found it in the 'mercenary service,' which allows me to work hand in hand with the US military. I've worked on projects for every branch of the service, and most of the global commands.

Estimates on just how many people like me there are run wild, and no one is really sure. It seems likely to be at least one "contractor" to every five servicemen, but it may be as high as one to one.

Many bring skills that they've gotten later in life, which broadens the range of talent and knowledge beyond what the military itself has to offer. Deployments are not much less gentle than the military's own, although they are softened a bit by being purely volunteer--you can leave, if you really want to. Few do.

This is what US mercenaries are like. They exist at all because the Congress and DOD bureaucracy aren't realistic about the force levels needed, and cling to outmoded concepts like age limits. As with anything else in a free society, where there is a demand that isn't being met, a service appears to meet it. I would rather be in uniform; but since I cannot be, I'll do this instead. (Emphasis added.)

Read the whole thing; I'm actually quoting Beorn quoting himself, and he has a lot more to say about answering the call to freedom in whatever capacity he can and about some of those with whom he serves. A snippet:
Most people in these various defense contractor, "Private Military Company" firms are former military, but there are also many who aren't, people who admire the military but who aren't made to be soldiers. They still want to do their part, and they do. Some of them have skills that are rare in the military, too--I know a lot of Arabists like that, including quite a few non-US citizens who want to be a part of what America is doing, but whose nations aren't in the Coalition--Syrians, Egyptians, and Sudanese. They can't serve in their own nation's armies, but they can still help make a stand against terrorism.
We have, therefore, a collection of people who wish to make a stand. I know just how they feel. Were I several decades younger I'd be there, but I'm stuck in this (ahem) mature body and can only wield my keyboard in this fight. And you know what? It's not enough! My heart burns to be doing more, to stand up taller and higher so I can shout to the world "Let Freedom Ring!"

God, how many of us feel like that! I don't want to stand foursquare behind our troops, I want to stand shoulder to shoulder with them and join in this mighty struggle. And I honour, revere and even envy those who can and do.

Soldier and civilian, contractor and armed guard, all are necessary to this fight. They are engaged in the most audacious and noble enterprise ever known to humanity: the struggle to bring freedom to the oppressed and the fight against those who seek to put forward another Saddam as the bringer of death and cruelty to the people of Iraq.

Those who call civilians like Andy Bradsell "mercenary" might do well to consider what Jason Van Steenwyk calls them: partners.

I should say that I had the privilege to meet many civilian contractors and security professionals from all over the world. Most of them were there supplementing coalition forces security, or providing needed logistical or security services to US troops and to the Iraqi people.

Most of the American contractors I talked to had served 20 years on active duty with the US military in one capacity or another.

Unlike my troops, these guys could have left at any time, just by saying "I quit" and catching a ride to Baghdad or Kuwait. Instead, despite the risks, they chose to stay.

They are, in every sense, our partners. And their families, I'm sure, loved them and missed them and feared for their safety just as fervently as ours.

Anyone who tries to force a moral distinction between our soldiers and these civilians who served alongside us--who dismisses them as "mercenaries" in it for the "pecuniary interests alone," and anyone who buys into that idea, is merely displaying a frightening degree of ignorance.

So it occurs to me that the reason some have targeted the civilians who protect and defend other contractors is precisely that they are there by choice and by conviction. It kind of ruins the image of US soldiers who have no choice to be there and are thus victims of the Bush administration, doesn't it? Of course, the fact that re-enlistment targets have been met ruins that image anyway, but why let facts get in the way of propaganda?

Andy Bradsell was a Canadian. Andy heard the call of freedom and served that call by contributing his skills to advancing that cause. I call him a warrior, not only because he was fortunate enough to have the requisite skills that allowed him to follow the path of a warrior, but because he was willing to fight and die for his beliefs.

Don't you get it? Andy Bradsell stood on guard for thee!

There are so few people like Bradsell, McDonald, Zangas, Holland, Teague, Helvenston, Batalona and Zovko. They will long be remembered for their heroism. That's not a bad place in history to occupy.

Apr. 6 09:26: Warren suggests we begin using the term paladin to describe the security forces in Iraq. I like it.

10:18: Private guards repell attack on US HQ in Najaf:

An attack by hundreds of Iraqi militia members on the U.S. government's headquarters in Najaf on Sunday was repulsed not by the U.S. military, but by eight commandos from a private security firm, according to sources familiar with the incident.

Before U.S. reinforcements could arrive, the firm, Blackwater Security Consulting, sent in its own helicopters amid an intense firefight to resupply its commandos with ammunition and to ferry out a wounded Marine, the sources said.

Read the whole thing. Commandos, mercenaries, armed security guards, call them what you will. Warren is right: they are paladins, champions, fighters for a cause.

Apr. 11: We have another paladin to add to the roll of honour: Michael Bloss:

Michael Bloss, 38, a former paratrooper, died in a gun battle after leading civilian contractors to safety. They had come under fire near the town of Hit, about 110 miles west of Baghdad.
Honour those who serve!

Apr. 21 16:11 There is a Canadian-based honour role of The Fallen for security personnel who have died in the line of duty.

Posted by Debbye at 12:23 PM | Comments (14)

April 02, 2004

Documents unclear on bin Laden options

Apr. 2 - Anyone who remembers the Watergate hearings can't help but groan at the soft-shoe dancing over whether the CIA was permitted to kill bin Laden (Details emerge on efforts, obstacles to killing bin Laden in 1990s.)

Had the CIA killed him, it is probable (and I obviously haven't seen the documents) that the wording was sufficient to give Clinton plausible denialibility:

The authorities granted to the CIA gradually increased, but a former senior CIA official said Clinton never signed a "pure kill" authorization.
President Bush was far less nuanced on the subject:
Dead or Alive.

Posted by Debbye at 02:28 PM | Comments (3)

March 31, 2004

Double-take

Mar. 31 - Schwarzenegger takes sexual harassment course.

Now men need to take courses to learn how to be sexually harassing?

Posted by Debbye at 11:37 PM | Comments (4)

March 30, 2004

A Failure Policy that Succeeds

Mar. 30 - Good op-ed piece by educator Marlene Heath in the NY Times about the success of holding students back until they have achieved the aims of each grade (you know, like being able to read) and how holding them back to get the basics allows them to succeed as they continue their education. (A Failure Policy That Succeeds.)

CHICAGO — I'll never forget the little girl who sat with a book, ran her fingers across the words, turned the pages and pretended to be reading. She was in one of my first fourth-grade classes at the Beethoven Elementary School on the South Side and we quickly discovered she couldn't recognize the simplest of words, like "in," "it" and "the."

That was in 1990, when we thought holding a child back a grade would hurt his or her self-esteem. So while my pupil was noticeably behind her peers in reading, she and others like her were pushed through each grade anyway, often struggling so much that, hopeless, they dropped out of school at the first chance.

So it's official: advancing the kids and putting at a further disadvantage relative to the other students made them feel worse about themselves, not better.

(No, I'm not taking a shot at the author, just at the faulty mindset that afflicts the idiots who run our school boards.)

In 1995, Mayor Richard M. Daley began the process of ending this practice, known as social promotion, much to the skepticism of teachers in the Chicago public school system — including me. We decided we'd take a wait-and-see position and let the new policy run its course until we could go back to the old way of doing things. Surprisingly, the results converted even the most obstinate among us.

Now, the decision by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City to end social promotion is being met with the same doubt that many of us in Chicago first expressed almost a decade ago. But as the debate continues, the figures in Chicago speak for themselves:

Only 26 percent of our elementary students were able to meet national norms on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills in reading in 1995. That number is now 41 percent. At Beethoven alone, reading comprehension jumped to 46 percent last year from 22 percent in 1997.

About 48 percent of Chicago public school students tested in the lowest quarter nationally before social promotion ended. Now that number is half of what it was. The high school drop-out rate, which was nearly 17 percent in 1995, is now at 13 percent, while the graduation rate has steadily climbed.

But the students who have come through my classrooms over the last 14 years offer the most convincing evidence that retention is one of the best things we can do for a child who needs that extra year to develop literacy skills. I began teaching sixth graders in 1992, and shortly after social promotion ended, I began to see students who were much better prepared. This new caliber of students allowed me to do what I should have been able to do all along — teach sixth-grade-level work to all my students. That hadn't been possible with the two or three nonreaders who had passed each year through my class before.

RTWT

Posted by Debbye at 03:22 PM | Comments (3)

Home of the Green Baron

Mar. 30 - A welcome new addition to the They Who Serve blogroll: Thomas, Home of the Green Baron, is posted in Korea.

Thomas tells a bit about himself and please note his Canadian Connection and cat named Attila!

Posted by Debbye at 03:04 PM | Comments (3)

March 29, 2004

When Mountain Lions Attack

Mar. 29 - Murdoc tells us How to escape from a mountain lion.

He's also got the latest on military vehicle equipment and he is talking ammunition with Airborne Combat Engineer.

Posted by Debbye at 08:37 PM | Comments (4)

American Girl With Pride

Mar. 29 - America, stand up and salute 14-year old Laura Elfman, the young American student living in Canada who was booed while carrying her country's flag in Montreal last week.

Some of us were pretty het up about that incident, but there was probably another feeling inside, one we didn't talk about, and Laura did exactly what we knew she'd do once we realized this was the second year this had happened to her yet she was carrying Old Glory again.

"Try it again, because you will feel better. It makes you feel strong," she said.

[...]

Laura, who doesn't follow politics, acknowledged that last year she ran off the stage in tears.

But contrary to news reports, this year: "I stood up for myself" and in no way left the stage crying, she said.

"I said, 'Hi, my name is Laura,' and when people were booing, I was talking over them (into the microphone), and I said, 'and I'm very, very proud to be holding the United States of America flag.' "

She said only a few students booed.

Read the whole article, and read between the lines. Wonder at the school administrations efforts to thwart us from hearing Laura's side of the story and the reporter's determination to learn the story from Laura, and as Laura and her schoolmates are minors, that wasn't easy and got her .

The initial report was incomplete. It was written without independent verification and was entirely based on statements by the school personnel.

They forgot she was an American, and they have no idea what that means.

The school wanted the incident behind it, and was also concerned Laura might get teased again, she said. When a reporter showed up at the school, she was kicked off the premises.

For Laura, it was another lesson in standing up for what she believes.

(Link via Neale News.)

"I wanted to say what I wanted to say. Everybody else had their part. Why don't they want to hear from the person who actually got booed?"

Yesterday, sporting her new sequined U.S.-flag running shoes, she sat down with a reporter.

She said she realizes most Canadians don't support what happened to her, and she has received some kind gestures of support, including a $25 gift certificate from a student in British Columbia.

Laura, you have rocked my world. God bless you.

Posted by Debbye at 06:02 PM | Comments (14)

March 25, 2004

Sept. 11 Commission Hearings

Mar. 25 - There are a number of links to note:

The most important is the website for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. The archives for prior hearings and commission findings are here; the latest full transcripts are from January, 2004, and the ones from March should soon be available.

However, the agenda, witness list and prepared statements from this week's session are available here (the statements are in .pdf format.)

Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld's remarks are also here at the DoD website in friendly, non-.pdf format.

Glenn Reynolds has a series of links including this batch on Richard Clarke and Condi Rice, one of which is from a Rice interview during the 2000 campaign which destroys Clarke's contention that she had never heard of al Qaeda before he briefed her.

That contention and its easy refutation tends to give more credence to assertions from the White House that Clarke was a disappointed appointment seeker.

More Instapundit links from yesterday in a later post here including this one to Eric of Classical Values who takes a close look at Clarke's Y2K work.

And again from Instapundit, another batch from today here.

(This topic will undoubtably come up again as the electoral campaigns gather momentum so I'm just preserving my links in one, handy-dandy place!)

Naturally, the Fox transcript of the 2002 Clarke brief must be included. Did anyone else fall over laughing when one of the commission members attacked Fox for pulling out the Clarke briefing from their archives? It was unfair, unfair to use an important part of the public record to discount the veracity of a witness's testimony!

One things that astonished me is how dumb uninformed some of the commission members are about military strategy. Don't they teach concepts like beachhead and overflight permission in schools anymore? Did they fail to grasp the significance of Sec. of State Powell's statements about the ongoing efforts that had been made to come to an agreement with Pakistan and Uzbekistan before Sept. 11? (and which also explains why we were able to mount a campaign into Afghanistan so quickly after the attack as well as provide indirect evidence that the Bush administration continued some of the strategy of the Clinton administration.)

Still think it's a bad idea to have a military man as Secretary of State?

The catalogue of human rights abuses of the Northern Alliance also gave a clearer explanation as to why the Clinton and Bush administrations didn't rush to make them allies sooner. (I seem to remember the Alliance protesting that they were included but not in charge of the interim council in Afghanistan which would tend to confirm the president's continuing committment to human rights in the countries we liberate.)

A last complaint: I really wish CNN would stop referring to the small group at the Commission hearings as The families of 9/11. Considering that over 3,000 people were killed that day, it seems disproportionte to the numbers of actual family members who lost loved ones and implies that those gathered at the hearings actually represent all the families.

Posted by Debbye at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2004

Pvt. Dwayne Turner

Mar. 24 - I had never heard of Pvt. Dwayne Turner until I read this. Now I don't think I'll ever forget him.

Honour those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 11:17 PM | Comments (6)

March 23, 2004

Sept. 11 hearings

Mar. 23 - I've been watching the hearings of the independent commission of Sept. 11 on CNN, and it is frustrating. Did the administration under FDR have to face a similar inquiry about lapses of failure after Pearl Habour? (That is strictly a rhetorical question, okay?)

There is so astounding a lack of common sense and humility in these proceedings that it begs the questions Are you more interested in winning this war or this election? In what way does what did or did not happen before Sept. 11 actually pertain to the post-Sept. 11 period?

Honestly, just when did The Blame Game become the second American pastime? That sort of nonsense is generally ignored when there's not much else going on, but is this really the time for self-indulgence? It's like bringing the self-therapy of the 70's into Congress. I'm Okay, You're Okay. I Knew, You Didn't. You Let Them In, You Let Them Stay. I Didn't Know, You Should Have Known.

Hell, why not go all the way back to the first El Al flight that was hijacked and do a complete self-criticism session from that point. I could actually get behind that. I could get behind a sober analysis of why we weren't more forceful about denouncing the terrorism going on in Israel and Ireland.

I dare them, I double dare them to ask Would the American people have supported going to war against Afghanistan before Sept. 11? because I guarantee the answer would be a resounding No. Hell, the left hurridly tried to put together an anti-war movement to agitate against military action against Afghanistan even after Sept. 11 and they only lacked the necessary time to build it, not the footsoldiers to attend the marches.

Had the US launched an invasion of Afghanistan without a Sept. 11, I might well have been one of those who marched in protest because I believed in the sacrosanct nature of national sovereignty and the mechanisms of the U.N.

I can't summon up outrage against the Clinton administration. I can't summon up outrage against the Bush administration. The somebody should have known mindset is all very well and good if you actually believe the technology in The X-Files is online and available to our government.

Maybe if one of the terrorist attacks thwarted during the Millennium celebrations been successful we'd have a different scenario today. Maybe. Maybe. That's the stuff of fiction, though, not policy.

We're not omnipotent. Is that so hard to get?

Another aspect (and I doubt it will be mentioned) is that after the horror of the Oklahoma City bombing we were far more concerned with domestic terrorists than foreign terrorists. When that second plane hit the North Tower, I knew it was the work of terrorists but until the third plane hit the Pentagon I was unsure if it was domestic or foreign. How many millions of Americans had the exact same thoughts that day?

Ooh, brainstorm! Why don't we just blame the terrorists for Sept. 11?

16:51: This is a brief summary of this morning's testimony by the former and current Sec. of State.

Mar. 24 12:55: Jeff Jarvis has the last word:

I saw people die that day not because of anything we didn't do but because of what a bunch of soulless murderers did do. Let's never forget that.
It's us against them, not us against us.

Posted by Debbye at 01:40 PM | Comments (7)

Dr. King Under God

Mar. 23 - Op-ed in the NY Times today about the Pledge of Allegiance case which will be argued before the Supreme Court tomorrow One Nation, Enriched by Biblical Wisdom. Using the book "A Stone of Hope" by David L. Chappell, Brooks explores the religious nature inherent in that movement as embodied by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and draws an interesting conclusion:

Chappell argues that the civil rights movement was not a political movement with a religious element. It was a religious movement with a political element.

If you believe that the separation of church and state means that people should not bring their religious values into politics, then, if Chappell is right, you have to say goodbye to the civil rights movement. It would not have succeeded as a secular force.

But the more interesting phenomenon limned in Chappell's book is this: King had a more accurate view of political realities than his more secular liberal allies because he could draw on biblical wisdom about human nature. Religion didn't just make civil rights leaders stronger — it made them smarter.

Whether you believe in God or not, the Bible and commentaries on the Bible can be read as instructions about what human beings are like and how they are likely to behave. Moreover, this biblical wisdom is deeper and more accurate than the wisdom offered by the secular social sciences, which often treat human beings as soulless utility-maximizers, or as members of this or that demographic group or class.

Whether the topic is welfare, education, the regulation of biotechnology or even the war on terrorism, biblical wisdom may offer something that secular thinking does not — not pat answers, but a way to think about things.

For example, it's been painful to watch thoroughly secularized Europeans try to grapple with Al Qaeda. The bombers declare, "You want life, and we want death"— a (fanatical) religious statement par excellence. But thoroughly secularized listeners lack the mental equipment to even begin to understand that statement. They struggle desperately to convert Al Qaeda into a political phenomenon: the bombers must be expressing some grievance. This is the path to permanent bewilderment.

Indeed, how can people who lack a spiritual nature nourished by God truly comprehend the murderous nature of those who believe they are the divine instruments of Allah? How can people who have no beliefs understand that there are fanatics who are consumed by their beliefs?

Equally true is the fact that those who acknowledge their own spiritual natures are capable of recognizing the spiritual nature of others as it manifests in the others' religions. However much Americans are mocked because we have retained our religious sensibilities, the existence of those sensibilities enables us to truly respect Muslims rather than patronize them.

The legacy of Dr. King and that part of our American soul he occupies have been subject to manipulation by many people to further their own causes - not Dr. King's - yet it is hard not to wonder what Dr. King would say were he alive to witness Sept. 11.

I'm not going to stray there, but I do know that Dr. King recognized that there was evil in human hearts, that he was not afraid to judge those who would do evil, and that, although he advocated a path of non-violent resistance to fight Jim Crow on American soil, he knews that some fights - like WWII - had to be fought by means other than sit-ins and marches.

UPDATE: Jaeger at Trudeaupia expands on the theme. (Ctrl + F "Note to self")

Posted by Debbye at 08:52 AM | Comments (4)

March 22, 2004

James Lileks

Mar. 22 - Lileks is angry today and when when he rolls, it's all to the good.

BUT the guy with the sign isn't (strictly speaking) a traitor. He's a lot of things including an idiot, a maroon, a 33rd degree moonbat, and a few more things but there are real traitors in the US and I don't want that word diluted to include the oh-so-very-clever nut fringe less we forget those who have actively collaborated with our enemies to destroy us.

UPDATE Mar. 23 - 01:07: Robert over at ExPat Yank argues for the need for a third term which can define someone like the nut in the photo.

Murdoc points that this sign is treasonous (and for the record, troops to Vietnam were deployed by air, not by sea.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:46 AM | Comments (11)

March 03, 2004

California Proposition Results

Mar. 3 - 3 California voters OK Schwarzenegger's budget rescue approving Propositions 57 and 58 and defeating Propositions 55 and 56.

Proposition 56 proposed that budgets be passed by a 55% majority in the legislature and was an attempt to water down the state law (enacted by earlier passage of Proposition 13) which requires that budgets be passed by a 2/3 majority. It was defeated with 64% of the voters voting against the measure.

Proposition 55 was a school bonds bill and, according to CNN, was trailing with 48% approval.

California politics are weird. The majority of the state is fanatically Democrat and keep electing a Democrat Assembly but don't trust the Democrats or even want them to act like Democrats so they continuously handcuff them by refusing to let the Democrats have their way with budgets, by rejecting school bonds, and won't let them raise taxes.

[Note: California is my home state and I wrote the above with affection. It's just the way politics have been conducted in California ever since I can remember.]

Posted by Debbye at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2004

The Secessionists of Vermont

Mar. 2 - The people have spoken: Killington residents vote to secede from Vermont:

Town officials said about two-thirds of the 200 to 300 people who attended the town meeting supported secession.
Yes, Virginia, there are still places where town meetings are held to vote on matters of concern to the town's citizens.

There were some other places voting today but I'm holding out until I hear the results from California (no, not the Dem primaries, the propositions!)

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

Quick Hits

Mar. 2 - Canada assailed for failing to step in and save Aristide. Indeed. Who might fall next if Canada doesn't take a firmer line and flex soft diplomatic muscles for all they're worth - Mugabe? Chavez? the Iranian Council of Guardians? Shame! Blame France Canada? No, because PM Martin thinks that the rebels should consider sharing power with Aristide (because that has worked so well in Ivory Coast?)

Blacks angered by gays' metaphors:

"We find the gay community's attempt to tie their pursuit of special rights based on their behavior to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s abhorrent," Bishop Andrew Merritt of Straight Gate Ministries and several other Detroit pastors said recently in a statement supporting traditional marriage. "Being black is not a lifestyle choice."

[...]

Black Americans have been liberal on many social issues, "but not this one," according to Star Parker, a California-based conservative leader.

The homosexual "marriage" issue "is where we get off the bus," she said.

Several black pastors are gathering today in San Francisco for the first of several rallies to denounce same-sex "marriage." Others are planning rallies in Boston on March 11, when Massachusetts lawmakers reconvene to consider an amendment upholding traditional marriage.

Democrats play it safe on gun issues but both Sens. Kerry and Edwards were making a rare appearance in the Senate today to vote for renewing the ban on assault-type weapons and to strengthen controls over gun show sales. Kerry will avoid talking about it with his usual response - I was in Vietnam, you know - but Edwards will have to negotiate this one a bit more carefully maybe saying it's the President's fault that we are using assault-type weapons in Vietnam Iraq. Or something.

Chalk another stupid and harmful stunt up to Jackass: 15-year-old seriously burned trying to copy TV stunt. It's called Jackass! That's a clue! What do they learn in schools these days?

(The above were gleaned from Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

First Amendment Rights

Mar. 2 - This is disturbing: Catholic Group Is Told to Pay for Birth Control by the California State Supreme Court.

The ruling has sweeping implications for religion-based nonprofit organizations and hospitals throughout the state and could influence decisions made in at least 20 other states that have similar laws requiring employers to provide contraception as part of employee health coverage, legal experts said. A similar case, brought by Catholic and Protestant organizations, is winding its way through the New York courts.

[...]

The United States Supreme Court has narrowed its protection of religious practices, a move legal scholars attribute to its reluctance to force judges to weigh the relative merits of church and state interests.

"This is a shocking interference with internal church affairs, but it's the way the law has been headed broadly," said Douglas Laycock, a law professor at the University of Texas. "They shouldn't be able to do this, because as a matter of principle this is just wrong, but cases have been going this way."

Catholic Charities of Sacramento, which brought the case in 2000, argued that it should be exempt from the state law because it is a unit of the Roman Catholic Church, and the law does allow an exemption for "religious employers" like churches.

But the State Supreme Court ruled that the organization did not meet any of the criteria defining a religious employer under the law, which was passed in 1999. Under that definition, an employer must be primarily engaged in spreading religious values, employ mostly people who hold the religious beliefs of the organization, serve largely people with the same religious beliefs, and be a nonprofit religious organization as defined under the federal tax code.

Mr. Dolejsi said the court had either ignored or misunderstood the relationship between Catholic Charities and the Roman Catholic Church.

"Every Catholic Charities is part of the Catholic diocese in the area where it is," he said. "Officially and formally, Catholic Charities of Sacramento is part of the Catholic Church in Sacramento, answerable to the local bishop and providing the services the church provides as a religious organization."

This, to me, is not about upholding reproductive rights (although it is seen as such by far too many people, including the ACLU) but about the Court's failure to protect the freedom of religious expression. The Catholic Church's stance on birth control is public and well-known, and however much I may disagree with their stance, I see it as critical that their right to uphold their stance in Catholic institutions is guaranteed under the Constitution.

I'm among many former (or is it lapsed?) Catholics who left the Church over their stance on birth control. I'm very uncomfortable with abortion - it's hard to dispute the "fetus" is alive when one has actually had children - but I do believe in using contraceptive devices for reproduction control as bearing a child at my age would be more than difficult. But contraception is not 100% effective, so what would I do should I learn I was pregnant? I don't know, so in all honesty can't condemn abortions or those who have them.

But I think this is more a political than a judicial decision, and another reason to consider legislation that might serve to remind judicial activists that the Constitution restricts as well as guides them.

Times links have brief lives, so here is the CNN report, which offers this elaboration on the ruling:

But the Supreme Court ruled that the charity is not a religious employer because it offers such secular services as counseling, low-income housing and immigration services to people of all faiths, without directly preaching Catholic values.
Actually, isn't the offering of these services to people in need who aren't Catholic completely in accord with Christian values? And if these services were delivered with preaching Catholic values, how loud would the screaming be about forcing Catholic values on those in need of these services?

UPDATE: Donald Sensing compares lthe implications of this and other rulings to endorsing discrimination against religious people:

More and more, the relationship between the state apparatus in America and religious people and denominations is resembling how the old Soviet regime dominated eastern Europe: "I get to do what I want to do, and you get to do - what I want to do."

Posted by Debbye at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

Education in the USA

Mar. 2 - Why I still take the NY Times seriously: this editorial which supports the No Child Left Behind program (Rescuing Education Reform) and, although taking some sideways shots at the Bush administration, calls upon Democrats to recognize that the positions taken by the NEA (National Education Association) are not supportable:

Democratic legislators are also fearful of the National Education Association, the country's largest and most powerful teachers' union. The union has a history of vigorously resisting standards-based change and is dead set against making teachers subject to federally dictated qualification and performance standards. While Mr. Paige made an egregious error in referring to the union as a "terrorist organization," the N.E.A. has not served the cause of quality education well in this fight, particularly when it attempts to turn suburban parents against the new law.

Instead of pandering to the law's opponents, whoever wins the Democratic nomination needs to seize what may be the country's last opportunity to achieve basic fairness in public education. That means standing up to wavering Democrats who are eager for a chance to jump ship.

If this keeps up, I'll have to stop referring to the Toronto Star as NY Times-lite so as not to unfairly insult the Times.

Posted by Debbye at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2004

Rumsfeld's War

Mar. 1 - First and second in a series of excerpts in Rumsfeld's War, a book about US Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, courtesy of the Washington Times.

Rumsfeld's immediate recognition that we were at war initiated his list of needed changes, including how Special Operations would be allowed to function. (See this for some recent steps to give Special Forces more flexibility.)

(Yes, I am a total Rumsfeld fan. Nuance in wartime is highly overrated.)

OFF-TOPIC: Today's Washington Times takes note of Peter Worthington's column of yesterday which had appeared in the Toronto Sun.

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

February 29, 2004

Kerry was in Vietnam, you know

Feb. 29 - Peter's not the only vet irritated with Kerry's continuous references to Vietnam and he expresses it well:

Yes, he had a decent record, but he wasn't Audie Murphy. (For those too young to remember, Murphy won every American valour decoration in WWII and became a movie actor, but never aspired to be president.)

While Bush calls himself a "war president" against terrorism and seeks to bring democracy to Iraq, what has that got to do with Vietnam? Why does Kerry keep raising Vietnam when he gracefully declined to make it an issue when Bill Clinton - a guy who ducked even the National Guard - was president?

I would argue that Kerry keeps Vietnam at the forefront of his campaign because it is just about all he's got. (Emphasis added.)

One drawback faced by US Senators when they run for national office is that their voting records are public record. Maybe that's why successful candidates are often former governors, who have the luxury of explaining how they would have voted! Party discipline in the US is rarely invoked, so Kerry has no convenient excuse for his voting record on defense spending or his approval of the various strong responses to Saddam's flouting of the terms of the 1991 ceasefire during the Bush and Clinton administrations.

Usually senators who run for office proclaim they will stand on their records. Kerry, by relying on his military record rather than his voting record in the Senate, is not running a campaign, so much as indulging a trip down memory lane. And that trip, complete with his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, will re-awaken and infuriate more Vietnam vets and their families than Kerry may have counted on.

More importantly, Americans and the media should be asking "Dude, what you have you done for us lately?" If he is nominated, much less elected, on the basis of whatever he says in front of any given audience rather than his record in the Senate, then shame on us all.

I'm off to work, take care and be sure and read the NY Times article linked a few posts down and re-read Claudia Rosett's article in the Opinion Journal. Maybe some who gets numbers better than I can connect some dots?

It's about time, as reader Sammie notes, that big media outlets began to pay attention to this story. What alarms me most are the similarities in practice to the Adsam scandal.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn is blasting Kerry's voting record on military programs and expenditures - read The John Kerry Cancelled Weapons System of the Day and follow the links.

UPDATE: If you think I'm overstating Kerry's reliance on his past, read this NY Times op-ed by Kerry which talks about - you guessed it - his experiences in Vietnam. He ends the piece with what he felt in 1969. C'mon, John, the voters want more, like how you felt in 1970!

Posted by Debbye at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2004

Federal Marriage Amendment

Feb. 28 - Good post by Transplanted Texan Austin about the actual statements made by President Bush when he announced his support of the Federal Marriage Amendment and how at least one of the media in Canada is presenting it as an example of how The Poison Begins to Seep.

On the news portion of the show, given at the top of every hour, Blundell's correspondent (he has a number of them) gave the headlines, as per usual, and recounted the tale of Rosie O'Donnell's 'marriage' to her partner yesterday. Recounting her reasons for marriage, Rosie said, "We were both inspired to come here after the sitting president made the vile and hateful comments he made." But that quote wasn't used in the show. (And nevermind the fact that 'anger' isn't really all that high on the list of good reasons to get married).

What was used in the show was the correspondent's summary of Bush's comments. Now, I believe what the newsreader was attempting to do was summarize Rosie O'Donnell's viewpoint on Bush's statement, but he didn't attribute it to her, and he didn't quote her verbatim. He didn't even say "Rosie said she was getting married in response to Bush's cruel comments." No, he just referred to the comments as evil things.

Let's go take a look at what the President said.

Indeed, do go take a look. It's called fact-checking. It really isn't hard.

Posted by Debbye at 01:30 AM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2004

Kerry

Feb. 27 - Sgt. Mom hits a nerve and she doesn't pull her punches.

In a remarkably short time, the whole war went down the memory hole until one morning I was sitting at breakfast in the kitchen of the Hilltop house, reading the newspaper, with page after page of pictures of frantic people. People cramming around the iron fence of the American Embassy in Saigon, reaching desperately through the bars, people standing shoulder to shoulder in tiny boats, barely afloat as they waited to be rescued, people trampling others to get into a departing aircraft, a straggling line of people going up a ladder to a rooftop, where a man handed them into a helicopter. Pictures of desperate people with bundles, carrying their children, of babies strapped two and three into the seats of aircraft evacuating them to safety, of helicopters being thrown off the deck of an aircraft carrier, to make room for three more, hovering just overhead and crammed with people who had trusted us, depended on us.
I remember those scenes too; I think it was the first time I had doubts that that my opposition to the war and demand for a total, immediate withdrawal might have been short-sighted.

And I think these images are why I too would never consider voting for John Freakin' Kerry.

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

Howard Stern

Feb. 27 - What, they've only just discovered that the content of Howard Stern's show is over the top? (Network pulls plug on Stern.)

This is beyond absurd. Just change the station or turn the radio off if you don't like it.

Posted by Debbye at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

US politics as usual

Feb. 27 - I'm glad someone else sees the inherent hypocrisy irony: Enviros Commence Election-Year Attack

The Union of Concerned Scientists issued a widely covered report last week condemning the Bush administration for allegedly politicizing science on a number of controversial issues, ranging from global warming to HIV/AIDS to Iraq's nuclear weapons efforts.

It was quite an ironic charge coming from a self-described activist group whose left-wing, eco-extremist, anti-biotechnology, anti-chemical, anti-nuclear, anti-defense and anti-business screeds embody the very antithesis of the scientific ideal of objectivity.

Rather strong language, but it is definitely Pot.Kettle.Black that environmental activists accuse the Bush administration of politicizing these issues.

Posted by Debbye at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)

Judicial Activism

Feb. 26 - From The Ornery American: an essay by Orson Scott Card on the recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that highlights the usurpation by that court of rights constituionally conferred to the legislative branch of government appropriately titled Humpty Dumpty Logic:

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has not yet declared that "day" shall now be construed to include that which was formerly known as "night," but it might as well.

By declaring that homosexual couples are denied their constitutional rights by being forbidden to "marry," it is treading on the same ground.

Do you want to know whose constitutional rights are being violated? Everybody's. Because no constitution in the United States has ever granted the courts the right to make vast, sweeping changes in the law to reform society.

Regardless of their opinion of homosexual "marriage," every American who believes in democracy should be outraged that any court should take it upon itself to dictate such a social innovation without recourse to democratic process.

Card also has an excellent review of The Passion of The Christ at the site.

(Link via Ith.

Posted by Debbye at 07:47 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2004

The FMA isn't the issue

Feb. 25 - The discussions about the proposed FMA are hindered by the fact that we haven't yet seen the text of the proposed Constitutional Amendment. Any and all discussions about this are taking place in a literal vacuum.

However, having said that, I too am thinking about this issue and especially about the attendant political and social issues that are unavoidable parts of this controversy.

What I suspect is that although the debate will be about same-sex marriages, the underlying debate will be about judicial activism. In every way, it is regrettable that a long overdue debate about the role of the judiciary in the US is shadowed by an issue that is not properly a federal one and will be too open to homophobic hysteria rather than what I consider to be the real political issue.

Again, I refer to this proposal which would be my choice.

Barring that, it is possible that many other valuable debates will spring out of those around the FMA.

The nuclear family has been the subject of theory and speculation over the past 40 years. Although I'm not convinced that same-sex unions should be called marriages, I most definitely do not believe that same-sex unions threaten the family. Heterosexual marriages have done most of the damage to themselves, and what we are beginning to realize is that both the parents and children suffer when marriages break down.

The family has been experimented on, and, unfortunately, it looks as though our grandparents may have been right.

Grandparents are the ones who used to say things like marry in haste, repent at leisure and you have to do hard things for the sake of your children. (It should go without saying that neither I nor our grandparents were talking about cases involving actual abuse, but I think they would frown when the grounds for divorce were trivial matters as things as squeezing the toothpaste tube in the middle.)

I think it has been nearly impossible to have honest, analytical discussions about single-parent families. The last thing in the world any decent person wants to do is criticize those who face the difficult job of raising children without a partner. It is not merely an economic hardship, although that element is certainly present, but it is also a hardship wherein one person is doing a job that really requires two people. It isn't about competence, it's about having someone who's watching your back, so to speak, and on your side. The kids may threaten to outflank one person, but they find it harder to take on two adults who are united and on the offensive.

Anyway, I do find it encouraging that the debate is also encompassing the role of the family in today's society, and I think it properly belongs in the social realm more than in political and social activist realms.

President Bush had alerted the union that he was concerned about judicial activism in his January, 2004, State of the Union Address

Decisions children now make can affect their health and character for the rest of their lives. All of us -- parents and schools and government -- must work together to counter the negative influence of the culture, and to send the right messages to our children.

A strong America must also value the institution of marriage. I believe we should respect individuals as we take a principled stand for one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization. Congress has already taken a stand on this issue by passing the Defense of Marriage Act, signed in 1996 by President Clinton. That statute protects marriage under federal law as a union of a man and a woman, and declares that one state may not redefine marriage for other states.

Activist judges, however, have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage. (Applause.)

The outcome of this debate is important -- and so is the way we conduct it. The same moral tradition that defines marriage also teaches that each individual has dignity and value in God's sight. (Emphasis added)

Those of us who remember the debate over passage of the Equal Rights Amendment also remember the debates over what the implications of the passage of the ERA would involve. Many were convinced that passage of the ERA would eliminate legislation that protects women in the workplace and others warned that it would lead to women being drafted into the military.

It will be interesting to see what ground debate over the FMA will cover.

What appears to necessitate passage of the FMA are the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution which states that contracts - such as marriage - entered into in one state will be honoured in other states. That is why the issue of same sex marriages has become a hot button, and why the majority decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court has implications for the other 49 states in the Union.

The debates on blogs has revealed a startling lack of knowledge about how the judiciary is supposed to operate in the US. I've seen far too many mentions of Brown. v. Board of Education Topeka (1954) and little mention of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) which first upheld the separate but equal doctrine. The fact is that the Brown decision was necessary because only the US Supreme Court could overturn Plessy v. Ferguson because it had been previously upheld by the US Supreme Court. As with the earlier Dred Scott decision, many Americans were convinced that the Plessy v Ferguson decision was Constitutionally unsound and continued to fight that battle and eventually won.

The discussions also ignore a crucial fact: separate but equal was not the doctrine of the land. In fact, one of the things that gave impuetus to the civil rights movement were the facts that after the post-WWII migration to the North, not only were northern schools and neighbourhoods integrated with little problem, the desegregation of the Armed Forces caused little difficulty.

I can personally attest to that last item because I was born in the military, and nobody ever bothered to inform me that the neighbours on the left were Negroes and the neighbours on the right weren't. Like most kids, we were more concerned about what toys our neighbouring playmates had, what snacks were available in their homes, and how much trouble we were going to get into when we broke the rules.

Sometimes the children do lead the way.

I've stated earlier that ultimately the issue will be recognized as one of equal protection under the law, but there's no absolute time-frame during which different compromises and state-by-state approval of same-sex civil unions must take place, and that's the good news and bad news about how things work in the US.

(I'm ignoring the hoopla in San Fransisco because I can recognize populism and extra-legal publicity stunts without cue cards.)

Judicial activism is a run-around to the democratic process. On any given issue, it may seem enlightened but that in itself argues a kind of elitism that Americans have long rejected. Taking decisions out of the hands of the electorate represents the worst kind of danger to democracy because although the will of the people may sometimes be wrong, establishment of unprecedented law by the imposition of 5 judges is by far the biggest danger that faces a democratic people.

In order to really believe in the democratic process, one has to believe that given time and reason, people will do the right thing. Without that implicit faith, we are a hollow pretense socially and politically.

Posted by Debbye at 05:39 PM | Comments (0)

Missile Defense Vote

Feb. 25 - Liberals break ranks during missile defence vote

According to the above, 30 out of 71 votes in support of a Bloc Quebecois motion against participating with the USA in talks about a missile defense program were from the Liberal Party caucus (155 MPs voted against the motion.)

Allowing more free votes in Parliament should prove extremely interesting for constituencies as well as giving Canadians as a whole a closer look at the different political viewpoints within the Liberal caucus.

Posted by Debbye at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2004

Islam in Conflict in Cleveland

Feb. 24 - An interesting article over at Tech Central about a conflict within a Cleveland mosque (Islam in Conflict in Cleveland) which seems to lend weight to speculation that Muslims in the US are involved in a quiet struggle to expose and remove radicals who support and agitate for jihad against the USA.

Posted by Debbye at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2004

Federal Marriage Amendment

Feb. 20 - California's Governor Schwarzenegger has been forced to state the obvious: Gay marriage licenses illegal. Thank you CNN, we know that the governor does not have to power to overturn state law.

I'm going to be brief (you're welcome!) because we went through this in Canada some time ago. (UPDATE: I meant to be brief, but sometimes these posts take on lives of their own.)

Firstly, I high recommend people read this by Eric of Classical Values:

Forget logic, and forget facts. Americans simply do not like being told from above what to think, and what laws they may not have. While getting rid of sodomy laws was certainly the right thing to do, there is nonetheless something undignified about the Supreme Court simply issuing decrees as an end run around popular prejudices -- regardless of how indefensible those prejudices are.

This apparent fickleness, in my view, reveals an indelible feature of the American character -- a contrarian spirit which can be both damnable and laudable. A leading Israeli intellectual recently stated that most Israelis have a Mezuzah attached to their door frames, but that if the government were to order them to display a Mezuzah, about half of them would run outside and yank them off.

That's right, he wrote it short after the Lawrence vs. State of Texas decision last year, and his points about our contrarian instincts briefly overcoming our deep beliefs in equality under the law hold true today, as well. (I'm certainly not disparaging the contarian instincts either; often it's a good knee-jerk reaction to er, knee-jerk reactions.)

Eric also explains the problems with the temporary restaining order filed in San Francisco and agrees that it fails to meet the "irreparable harm" criteria.

I still don't believe that the Federal Marriage Amendment will be approved by the requisite number of state legislatures (don't forget a state legislature can reverse approval at a later date) but I do believe that a number of states will recognize the fairness of passing "civil union laws" or, perhaps as Donald Sensing suggests, sensibly get out of the marriage business altogether (but it's highly unlikely - governments rarely give up jurisdiction over anything, at least at this point in our history.)

One Constitutional amendment I could really get behind is one Doc Rampage brings up is "An alternative to the Federal Marriage Amendment":

So how about an entirely different amendment that would use this popular issue to do something worthwhile? Instead of a Federal Marriage Amendment, we could have a Federal Constitution Amendment that says we are a constitutional federation of states governed by elected representatives, not an oligarchic monolithic state ruled by appointed judges. With the growing outrage over judicial activism, this may be our best chance to get such an amendment passed.
It is common sense to respond to popular indignation by addressing the root causes of that indignation, so to introduce a constitututional amendment that reaffirms the Constitution and the rights of the states would stop the bigger danger of an activist judiciary and, by refocusing people on what they are really upset about, give them time to remember that denying gays civil rights goes against our deepest value, which is that all citizens are entitled to equal treatment under the law.

Food for thought.

Posted by Debbye at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2004

Censorship no solution

Feb. 17 - Wendy McElroy at FOX News comments on the probable passage of the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004 (Censorship Is Not Solution for Trashy TV):

Today, the first response to any controversy is, "there ought to be a law." But in matters of morality and freedom of speech, it is best for law to be the very last recourse society considers. The first resort is to let freedom and the free market function.
Amen.

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

Rumsfeld Fighting Technique

Feb. 17 - Pictorial depiction of Rumsfield Fighting Technique via Tim Blair.

My hours have changed this week because I'm too freaking stupid to say no that's the way life is.

Posted by Debbye at 02:37 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2004

The Wound

Feb. 13 - From American Digest this post simply called The Wound:

If someone tells you that the melted wax from the candle shrines at Union Square had a radius of 20 feet and a depth of 4 inches at some points before it was scraped away, that's just a data point.

If someone mentions that there were pictures of those we called "the missing" put up on walls about the city, you might recall that. What you won't recall is that they appeared everywhere and grew in numbers on nearly every surface on the island until there was no block and no main station that didn't host a grim and large gallery of these images.

You've forgotten about the shrines, large and small, that appeared at the door of every fire and police station of the city overnight. You don't remember how they grew and then shrank until only a few vases of flowers and faded flags remained.

I could show you the Post's headline from the 12th declaring: 10,000 FEARED DEAD. Many of you would say, "Well, it was only 3,000 and we/ve moved on."
Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2004

Mohammed Warsame

Feb. 10 - An FBI affidavit indicates the nature of the materrial support which Mohammed Warsame, the Canadian arrested in Minnesota, provided al Qaeda:

... [he] trained in martial arts and with weapons, taught English to al-Qaida members and joined the Taliban front lines, according to an FBI affidavit.

Mohammed Warsame, 30, twice saw combat with front line units of the Taliban while in Afghanistan and once sat next to Osama bin Laden at a meal, said the affidavit, which investigators said was based on interviews with Warsame. "The defendant stated that bin Laden was very inspirational," according to the affidavit.

Investigators say he has acknowledged travelling to Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001. In early 2001, they say, Warsame asked al-Qaida for money to move his family to Afghanistan.

According to the affidavit, an al-Qaida leader instead paid for Warsame's airplane ticket back to North America, and gave him $1,700 US in travel money. Warsame admitted he later wired money to people he had met in the training camps, investigators said.

This seems to indicate that Warsame fought with the Taliban against the Northern Alliance but left Afghanistan prior to Sept. 11 and has been living in Minnesota since 2002.

Posted by Debbye at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2004

American Thoughts

Feb. 4 - American Thinker has a very interesting article that focuses on what effect his MBA from Harvard has had on the President's management style. It parallels thoughts I've had, particularly on makeup and behaviour of the Cabinet, but reminds me of some things I knew but had let slip to the back of my mind.

The President's primary identification for me these past years has been as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and although I employ the terms Chief Executive and Executive branch of the government I haven't given as much thought to those designations (understandable enough in a time of war) until the post set out what being awarded an MBA from the Harvard Business School entailed and how that education and training has benefited the President especially given the suddenness of of Sept. 11 and course correction that required.

It never bothered me that the Secs. of State and Defense disagreed. I expected them (and other Cabinet members to disagree) because their job is to advise the President. I wanted them to engage in lively and healthy debates before decisions were made. It fits my own attitude as to how a democracy must function: different points of view honestly advocated, debated, and thrashed out with the aim of exposing the strengths and weaknesses of differing positions. That is the optimal way of reaching decisions, and if it is imperfect, it is still better than any alternatives.

A different problem is the failure of decisions reached at the highest - and, I might add, appropriate - levels which are not being implemented by the staff of those departments. Personnel in both State and Defense have rightly come under fire for failures to follow policies set by their respective chains of command.

It's a good article, and gives a perspective to not only the President but to the presidency that isn't often considered. (Those who take umbrage and rail against Corporate America will disagree!)

Another good post up is this at Chaos Central:

Because nearly every conservative truly DOES understand the left's position. Why's that? Because, by and large, most conservatives were once liberals.

Conservatives KNOW that there is a rational reason to believe what the left believes. It comes from emotion and love for humanity. The divergence comes when someone gains enough experience in the real world to understand that the best way to help these people is not through the policies that your heart espouses.

Conservativism is the answer to their problems. We conservatives want to help the poor or disenfranchised as much as the next guy. But we don't want to do it for them. We want them to succeed on their own because that is the only way to truly help them. Liberals can't understand this position because they have never decided to make the tough decisions. The hard decisions.

It's not just the left, of course, it's many the nations who do not have to make the hard calls decisions because they chose long ago to let the US take the leadership in the Cold War and were content to snipe from the sidelines and when the world changed on Sept. 11, found themselves unable to support the US and yet could not in good conscience support or defend terrorism.

One of the most interesting aspects of American history has been the evolution of our relationship with the British. When I was in school, American history courses began with the Magna Carta. We studied the development of English democracy and institutions, read Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Adam Smith and, after a brief tour with the Portuguese, Spanish, French and English explorers and conquistadores, began to study the founding of Jamestown, hopped back to England for a quick look at Cromwell's rise and fall and then landed at Plymouth Rock. We stayed with the colonies until the passage of the Intolerable Acts, briefly discussed the extent of King George's madness, and then read the Declaration of Independence.

Extra points went to the student who said "whoa" when the poor King is accused of single-handedly forcing slavery upon the colonies.

We were extremely paranoid after the Revolutionary War yet remained closely connected with Englands through trade and by our shared language, culture and political traditions. There have been events throughout the centuries that nurtured and forced the rebellious child to stand on its own, grow, learn, and proper, and finally mother and child learned that the other wasn't so bad after all. There were several make or break issues: whether they would stand by us when we took on the Barbary Pirates (they did and continued to protect our shipping interests worldwide,) whether we could side with the British, French or remain neutral during the Napoleonic Wars (we did all three!) whether the British would recognize the Confederacy (they didn't,) and the ultimate test in WWI when again, we finally decided we wouldn't abandon our British heritage or brethren. When the crunch came again during WWII, the irritation against the French insistence of harsh penalties imposed at Versailles kept us out of that war, foolishly deciding to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Fortunately, the Japanese were so anxious to have us in they sent an invitation we couldn't refuse.

Prime Ministers Blair's speech to Congress last July contained a message that only someone who represented that which was once known as the British Empire and the representative of the island that withstood the German assault in WWII could deliver with compassion and understanding for the terrible burden that we inherited by dint of winning the Cold War.

As Britain knows, all predominant power seems for a time invincible, but, in fact, it is transient.

The question is: What do you leave behind?

And what you can bequeath to this anxious world is the light of liberty.

[...]

And I know it's hard on America, and in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I've never been to, but always wanted to go...

I know out there there's a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, "Why me? And why us? And why America?"

And the only answer is, "Because destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do."

A lot of us are with that guy in Nevada (or Idaho) and just wanted to get on with our lives. The Cold War was over, armageddon was averted, and the kids needed to get to the baseball field.

Oh well. You have to deal the cards played to you.

Posted by Debbye at 05:01 PM | Comments (1)

February 03, 2004

Scientism in CIA analysis

Feb. 3 - David Brooks nails it in today's NY Times The C.I.A.: Method and Madness. Describing the mentality that believed human behaviour could be scientifically analyzed, Brooks says:

If you read C.I.A. literature today, you can still see scientism in full bloom. The tone is cold, formal, depersonalized and laden with jargon. You can sense how the technocratic process has factored out all those insights that may be the product of an individual's intuition and imagination, and emphasized instead the sort of data that can be processed by an organization.

This false scientism was bad enough during the cold war, when the intelligence community failed to anticipate seemingly nonrational events like the Iran-Iraq war or the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But it is terrible now in the age of terror, because terror is largely nonrational.

What kind of scientific framework can explain the rage for suicide bombings, now sweeping the Middle East? What technocratic mentality can really grasp the sadistic monster who was pulled out of the spider hole a few weeks ago? Under Saddam, Iraqi society seems to have been in a state of advanced decomposition, with drastic consequences for its W.M.D. program. How can corruption and madness be understood by analysts in Langley, who have a tendency to impose a false order on reality?

Is there something in the water that makes government bureaucrats dull and unimaginative? I think it's just an awareness of the political reality in DC which places the fear of appearing risky above innovation, similar to that caused cancellation of letting futures speculators predict future terrorist targets.

UPDATE: The British are to undertake their own inquiry into the lapses of intelligence, but John Keegan of the Daily Telegraph notes the massive intelligence failure during WWII that failed to give credence to reports about the Germans developing plans for an unmanned rocket, the V2 and provides ample evidence from history that intelligence is not necessarily the deciding factor for victory and that, in the case of Iraq, there was one big problem:

Above all, it must be remembered that British intelligence was attempting to penetrate the mentality of a man and a regime which were not wholly rational.

Posted by Debbye at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2004

Mohammed Abdullah Warsame

Jan. 31 - Minneapolis court date set for Somali-Canadian charged with terror conspiracy. Mohammed Abdullah Warsame will appear in court on Monday, Feb. 2, in Minneapolis. He was indited by a grand jury with conspiracy to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda from March, 2000 until December 8 (presumably 2003). Warsame admitted attending an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan during FBI interrogation Dec. 8, 2003.

Posted by Debbye at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

The case of Maher Arar

Jan. 31 - Good article that answers some questions as to how the public inquiry into the Maher Arar case would proceed as there are other tangential inquiries as well as a lawsuit pending.

U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci insisted in a recent speech that the US proceeded alone in its decision to deport Arar to Syria, but other questions have arisen, including an allegation that Canadian officials declined to take custody of Arar because they lacked evidence with which they could charge him for terrorist-related activities and, the big question, exactly what (or who) tipped US authorities that he was suspected for terrorist-related activities.

Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill's home and office were raided by the RCMP in an effort to ascertain who provided her with documents regarding to what Arar disclosed to Syrian officials, and an inquiry has been called to investigate that action by the RCMP as well as a review of the Security of Information Act.

Arar has sued US Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and other officials for his deportation to Syria on the grounds that they knew he would be tortured. He has also filed suits against the governments of Jordan and Syria, and is considered filing suit against the Canadian government.

Arar holds dual citizen status with Syria and Canada. If what I have heard is correct, Syria does not allow its citizens to renounce their citizenship, so Arar doesn't have a choice in that matter.

However, early on this case (going back over a year) it was said by media reports that Arar holds a Syrian passport as well as a Canadian one, which I'm guessing would raise a red flag for national security officials.

Arar was arrested and deported to Syria via Jordan in 2002 back when Syria was viewed as an ally in the war on terror.

Posted by Debbye at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2004

Changing Policy in America

Jan. 30 - Alpha Patriot has written an excellent essay, The Heart of Change, in which he in which he argues for Compassionate Conservatism and counsels patience for the slow nature of the change:

... the point is that change comes in baby steps. One does not change the direction of a large ship quickly -- it is incapable of making right turns. And so it goes for changing policy in America.

Posted by Debbye at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2004

Kay testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee

Jan. 28 - I watched David Kay's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee and kept wondering if the US will ever be able to get away from the overwhelming politicization of each and every issue. Kay said WMD search showed intelligence weakness and pointed out that those failures began during the Carter Administration (echoing the president's Whitehall speech in that blame can be placed equally on both parties and over decades, not years.)

Kay pointed out (and I agree) that an inquiry might be useful, but a witchhunt wouldn't. I'm weary of the witchhunt mentality of the past 10 years which overshadowed the bombing of the WTC early in the last decade as well as the escalating terrorist attacks on US interests which, by our inability or unwillingness to respond, culminated on Sept. 11.

I've don't fault the Clinton administration so much for not responding to the attacks so much as I fault the leaders of both parties for being incapable of understanding which issues are fair partisan game and which aren't. There has got to be continued recognition that, when a national crisis occurs, responsibile leadership dictates that we drop the partisan games. It's hurting us that some still haven't reached that understanding.

The problem is that criticisms based on partisanship are too easily dismissed (which was similar to the findings of the Hutton Inquiry - see post below) and that problem, more than anything else, threatens our ability to properly assess and respond to events.

David Kay has pointed out that the strategies employed during the war indicate how strongly we believed in the existence and willingness of Saddam to use WMD on our troops and many of the criticisms being raised now about securing sites and offices fail to take that into account. That's something so glaringly obvious that I have to conclude that even those who criticize those failures know it to be so.

(UPDATE: CNN's wrap-up of Kay's testimony is here and Fox's coverage is here.)

(UPDATE: The transcript of David Kay's opening statement to the committee is here. Note it doesn't include the questions and answers, unfortunately.)

During Sen. Kennedy's questions I found myself reflecting on the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as the Bay of Pigs mess and wondered if he had thought about those events lately. (I'm not saying there are grounds for analogy. I'm just saying.)

There has to be points at which partisan interests, which are by definition narrow and selfish, are set aside for the common good. I'm baffled that we evidently haven't reached that point yet, although I suspect the American people are considerably farther ahead in that respect than some political leaders.

The president has thus far stood above the chatter and clatter, but he hasn't begun to campaign as of yet (at least to the same degree as the Dems, which in all fairness, is due to the primaries) so the Republicans are still holding the higher moral ground but it will be a delicate balancing act once the Democrats select a candidate and the presidential campaign begins in earnest.

I was sorry to see that Sen. Lieberman couldn't break the 10% barrier in the New Hampshire primary. Do the Dems have any special awards for principled consistency? I believe the senator is preserving the future of the Democrats which is also true for Bill Clinton also but not true for Gore.

Maybe I should make a full disclosure: I voted for Nader in 2000. When Gore decided to endorse Dean, it confirmed for me the main reason I didn't vote for him: he's an unprincipled opportunist. (I didn't even consider voting for Bush because I had never voted Republican. In 2000, some things were sacrosanct, but it's not 2000 any more and I'm not in Kansas any more - or Georgia or California.)

I think what irritates me the most is the heightened rhetoric. For example, does Sen. Kerry truly believe that the Bush administration is a regime? Of course he doesn't. Do those who say that the US has become a police state actually believe that? Of course they don't. (They are as aware as I that they aren't in jail.)

I also didn't believe that Dean's speech after the Iowa caucus was as dreadful as CNN in particular insisted (although that may be because I lived in Georgia, have seen other politicians behave similarly, and recognized his speech for what it was - a boisterous effort to raise the spirits of his supporters and redirect their temporary disappointment to the future. Were I such to have been in that crowd, it would have raised my spirits!)

Anyway, I think the sound bite approach to leadership is just plain irresponsible.

Americans are facing unanticipated challenges these days which go to the heart of who we are, where we are headed and what we aspire to be. We need to find solutions that are based less in partisanship and more to determining "the common weal." I get that, most Americans get that, and anyone who would be our leader needs to get that.

It's stopped snowing for now. The snow plow did its usual damage, so I'm going to finish clearing up out there.

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

January 27, 2004

Freeport TX BASF plant shooting investigated by FBI

Jan. 26 - The Friday shooting of a security guard in Freeport, Texas, by the man he questioned as to why he was lingering in the vicinity of a multi-story ammonia tank at a BASF ammonia terminal is being investigated by FBI, state and local law enforcment personnel and, according to sources, considered possibly connected to a terrorist reconnaisance operation. This is according to an item from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin (subscription only) and carried by WorldNetDaily: Texas coast eyed by terrorists.

A major feature of this article is the retelling of the 1947 Texas City (located only a few miles from Freeport) disaster at which a French ship filled with ammonium nitrate exploded at the dock setting off a chain reaction of explosions which killed the towns entire fire department and destroyed their 4 firetrucks. Volunteers fought the fires and assisted in rescue work. Over 500 people were killed.

(Via Jack's Newswatch

Posted by Debbye at 12:57 AM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2004

What are Americans like?

Jan. 26 - Steven den Beste has an essay, Americans are unalike, in which he answers the question "What are Americans like?" primarily with this:

There is not a single substantive question you can ask about Americans or ask of Americans that you would find a single answer to. On any political question you'll find disagreement, and there is no single substantive characteristic we share as a people.
I would only add that there are a few minor, unsubstantive characteristics: contariness, and a refusal to bow down to anyone.

Discount Blogger's take, though, in What Americans are like was right on the money:

So, to answer Den Beste's reader's question, Americans are people who live their lives. They don't feel superior. Yet they certainly do not feel inferior to you.
Read both "whole things."

Posted by Debbye at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

Syria Accountability Act

A key indication of how seriously the legislature is viewing the relations we have with Syria resides in the Syria Accountability Act (HR-1828) (some news background here from Oct. 8 and here from Nov. 6.) It was first recommended for approval by the House International Relations Committee last October.

To repeat: this bill arose in the House International Relations Committee, i.e., from our legislative branch, rather than the executive. In fact, the executive branch asked that it be held up in committee in order to continue to try and find a resolution though diplomatic means.

From an Oct. 8 US Dept. of State release:

The House bill has 281 co-sponsors while the Senate version has 76 co-sponsors. The level of co-sponsorship is generally indicative of a piece of legislation's support in Congress and chances of final passage.
The bill provides the president with a list of measures from which he can select two for implementation, so it allows the executive some flexibility so that diplomatic efforts can continue, but is a clear signal to Syria that Congress, and thus the direct electorate, have grown weary of Syria's games and are re-asserting that Syria is a terrorist state and should be subject for sanctions until the issues listed in the bill are resolved.

Posted by Debbye at 03:32 AM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2004

Role of Pinkerton

Jan. 25 - Civil War and military intelligence buffs alert! Peter Worthington looks at the role of Pinkerton and his continually poor assessments of Confederate strength during the Civil War in light of their omission from John Keegan's book Intelligence in War in the column The 'myth' of military intelligence. (Worthington is a vet, so he already knows that military intelligence is an oxymoron.) (But no mention of the use of hot-air balloons? Oh well, can't have everything.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

Globe and Mail looks at US troops return from Afghanistan

Jan. 25 - The Globe and Mail has its take on the story of 100 soldiers arriving home from Afghanistan after completing their six-month tour of duty, and the Toronto Sun has its take. The Globe and Mail might considered to be more "respectable" than the Sun, but the content convinces me that appearances are deceiving. Read it for yourselves and decide.

Welcome Home! and Thank You seem better sentiments than delving into their psychological profiles, but I'm just an Air Force brat. What do I know?

Posted by Debbye at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2004

Maureen Dowd is a poodle

Jan. 23 - This one needs some explaining, but I'd rather let an Australian, Tim Blair, start it off since they were slandered.

Blackfive compared the participants in the Korean War with the Iraq War and came up with a real yardstick, from which was born this:

The rantings of a homicidalManiak: Google bomb: Maureen Dowd is a poodle.

Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Actually, my sense of justice would be better served if MoDo had to face some of the Bali bombing survivors, but this will do.

UPDATE: Iraq Now has some pretty scathing comments on the column and wonders if she's stacking the deck. But gee! that would be as dishonest as, say, using ellipses to distort the meaning of a quote!

Posted by Debbye at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

Al Qaeda in Fallujah?

Jan. 23 - Rantburg reports on the capture of a deputy, Husam al-Yemeni, of al Qaeda leader Abu Zarqawi and the suspicion that there is an al Qaeda cell in Fallujah.

Fox reports that another possible al Qaeda member, Hasan Ghul, was also detained in Iraq.

UPDATE: The Washington Times has more background on Ghul including his connection to Khalid Shaikh Mohammad.

Things are really getting sticky: the Iranian government has announced it plans to try 12 members of al Qaeda (although they won't release their names) but an allegation has been made by a witness that Iran was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks during proceedings in the German trial of Abdelghani Mzoudi who is being tried for as an accomplice in the attacks.

NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd has no problem with climbing out on a branch and sawing it off, but I've been rubbing my hands with anticipation since she trashed the Australians, and they are responding. Heh.

A Canadian citizen who lives in Minneapolis, Mohammed Abdullah Warsame has been indited for providing material support to al Qaeda.

Posted by Debbye at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

Maher Arar

Jan. 23 - Allegations that the US offered to return Arar to Canada are being made:

OTTAWA - The U.S. offered to deport Maher Arar to Canada, but sent him to Syria instead after the RCMP said it did not have enough evidence to detain or charge him if he was sent home.

Intelligence sources say the RCMP and U.S. officials were in regular contact after the 33-year- old software engineer was arrested in the fall of 2002 at New York's JFK airport en route from Tunisia to Montreal.

Sources said the U.S. offered to send him home if the RCMP would charge him, but the Americans were told Canada did not have enough evidence against Mr. Arar, who was a target of an RCMP security investigation.

Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan denied the accusation - sort of:
''We have absolutely no knowledge that there was any information provided to Canadian officials that Mr. Arar was going to be deported,'' she said.
M'kay, I'm somewhat jaundiced on the subject of former Health Minister Anne McLellan because she dropped the ball so badly during the SARS crises in Toronto, and her strident defense that "it is a learning process" startled people like me, who thought that, what with the anthrax scare of 2 years ago and continuing rumours about bio-weapons, Canada might have a plan to contain infectious diseases.

PM Martin has said he would wait until the investigation of CSIS and RCMP involvement in the Arar affair is completed before launching his own investigation.

I'll say it again: it was wrong to send him to Syria. Had he been sent to Guantanamo there would have been an outcry, but at least the US would not have been guilty of knowingly sending him to a country known to torture prisoners.

Interesting sidenote: this article was written by Robert Fife, who wrote a rather extensive article on Arar's alleged terrorist connection to a plot to bomb the US Embassy in Ottawa last July.

Posted by Debbye at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2004

Toronto Tourism down

Jan. 22 - I was skeptical that the reason 3.6 million Americans cancelled or reduced trips to Toronto was entirely due to concerns about SARS, but I was astonished that the comments in the Sound Off! section were equally dismissive.

Terrorism concerns were the official explanation in 2002, and SARS was the official explanation for 2003. I'd rather stay in a holding pattern on this one because I don't have any data or information that contradicts the official one, but I'm sticking with skeptical. For now.

Posted by Debbye at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition

Jan. 22 - Good post at You Big Mouth, You! about a former Green Beret who is now a chaplain with the 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment. (Words to the Ballad of the Green Berets also courtesey of Chuck.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)

Precision Guided Humour

Jan. 22 - The latest precision guided humour assignment was to list some War on Terror Side Benefits. This was a toughie, not because I couldn't see any side benefits but it was hard to see them in a humourous light.

Truth is, all I could think of was Frank J. and Allah, both of whom could be considered humourous side benefits (as well as reminders as to why liquids must be kept far, far away from keyboards and mousepads.)

Then a wise man showed me the light.

The airline pilots altered their Welcome Aboard speeches. We began to take another look at some of our allies, and at their current transgressions and past lapses. We made independent yet simultaneous decisions to mock and boycott.

France even annoyed Colin Powell.

New heights of humour erupted last May when France complained it was the target of untruths and thoughtfully provided us with a list of some of the accusations. Journalists who felt insulted that they were not on the list rushed to file new stories about the perfidious French. (The Wa-Po story even put "American intelligence source" in death quotes throughout the article. Heh.)

The sneers from Old Europe caused many of us to dig out our cowboy boots and strap on our six-guns. We remembered The Cowboy Code, authored by Gene Autry, and became downright dangerous.

We flew our flag. Lots of them. But what looks like jingoism or overweening pride to others is actually a sense of how much we are beholden to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

We instinctively understood that the best way to deal with madmen was to convince them we are crazier than them. And it worked.

None of this would have been possible without the dedication of the troops, both those who are serving now, and those who served unnoticed but faithfully over the years.

We have found our cheerleaders, but they are sober and thoughtful. They inspire, challenge and encourage us to be better.

Our President is not the greatest orator in our history, but we choose substance over glitz. We remembered that Lincoln was, by all contemporary accounts, a poor orator with a voice that grated on the hearers, yet he led our nation through its darkest period and delivered the definitive understanding of what obligation our dead pass onto us, the living, in The Gettysburg Address.

And President Bush echoed that recognition of obligation, committment and sense of purpose in the State of the Union Address:

Our greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people. Twenty-eight months have passed since September 11th, 2001 -- over two years without an attack on American soil. And it is tempting to believe that the danger is behind us. That hope is understandable, comforting -- and false. The killing has continued in Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Mombasa, Jerusalem, Istanbul, and Baghdad. The terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world. And by our will and courage, this danger will be defeated. (Emphasis added for those who think he ignored Israel and the Palestinians.)
So I guess for me, it's all about the things that make me laugh and the things that make me smile - with gratitude and affection - and the things that give me hope.

Posted by Debbye at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2004

Memorial service for MLK used for anti-Israel rant

Jan. 21 - I've been staring at this story for the better part of a half-hour trying to get my temper under control but folks, it ain't gonna happen.

Some asshole in Montrel decided that the best way to commemorate Martin Luther King Day was to take shots at Israel and the Irsraeli consul-general in Montreal had the good sense to protest peacefully by walking out on the rant. (Now that action was a tribute.)

One guess as to how Dr. King would regard the homicide-bombers. One guess as to why the fools who had the audacity to hold a ceremony honouring Dr. King felt it necessary to include someone who does not honour Dr. King.

Rahman said yesterday he has no regrets or apologies to offer, because "from my vantage point it was also a political event."
Opportunism, much? Why again was he even invited? Oh yeah, to be inclusive. All they needed was the KKK for a full house - three Kings and two Jack(asses).
"As a Muslim, I don't make a separation between religion and politics," he said in a phone interview. "Religion and politics are intertwined and there is absolutely no separation for me at all.

"I was there as a representative of my faith community, and I said what was most pressing on my heart.

"If other people were offended by it, it just proves my point - that sometimes people who espouse liberal values, when it rubs them the wrong way, it reveals their liberalism doesn't go very deep at all."

I'm letting that whole "offended" thing pass because I got bigger stuff on my plate, but I'll remember that quote. It should come in handy.

As an American (and someone who actually remembers the King years and heard him speak on multiple occasions) I deeply resent those who would hijack his name for their own fu**ed up agendas. He was and is an American hero, and while it's too bad the "Palestinians" have proven themselves incapable of producing a leader of his stature, maybe they can't because they haven't a grasp of the ideals Dr. King represented.

I'm not talking only about non-violent protest, I'm talking about the stength and courage it took to stand before the police in Selma, Alabama, without indulging in rock throwing and other provocative acts that are selfish in nature as they seek to elevate the individual act above the power of a mass movement.

Politcally correct Canada may chose to forget that he was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, but I won't. (That's not to say I object to a Jew or Muslim speaking at a ceremony to honour him, in fact, far from it.)

Dr. King judged on the content of one's character rather than the colour of one's skin. Consider Rahman judged.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:59 PM | Comments (1)

Text for State of Union address

Jan. 21 - The text of the State of the Union address is here.

The Washington Times says Bush urged the U.S. to go forward.

UPDATE: The Globe and Mail headline says Bush rejects calls to ease war policy. Worth reading for a glimpse into the primary mind-set of the Canadian media (with, granted, some notable exceptions.)

Aljazeera reports that the Palestinian leaders are not too happy that the president ignored the peace process.

"If he wants democracy in the Middle-East, the most ready area for elections in all forms, both regional and local, is Palestine", Palestinian minister of negotiations, Saib Uraiqat told Aljazeera.net

"Why can't we begin with democracy in Palestine?", Uraiqat asked.

What's stopping them from having elections? I keep hearing that Arafat is the "democratically elected president" there . . .

I caught Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) on CNN this morning, complaining about the speech and uttering the sentiment that Californians want change. Ah me. We know that, Barbara. They voted Gray out and Schwarzenegger in, remember?

David Frum and Richard Perle have a guest op-ed in the NY Times which does not focus on the speech (probably because it was written before the speech) but does focus on foreign policy and asks what the Democrat hopefuls offer as alternatives. (This op-ed ties in particularly well with Donald Sensing's analysis of the Weekly Standard's Nine reasons why we never sent our Special Operations Forces after al Qaeda before 9/11.)

Toronto Sun columnist Bob MacDonald comments on the speech and Belinda Stronach's run for leadership of the Conservative Party.

Mike Stroebel is collecting views on Stronach from the Legion 385 hall.

More articles about Belinda Stronach are here, here, and and even an analysis of Stronach's fashion sense. (Her website is here.)

UPDATE: My bad, I should have included the links for the other candidates for the Conservative Party leadership: Tony Clement (via Let It Bleed) and Stephen Harper which I googled for so hope it is the official page.

Posted by Debbye at 08:15 AM | Comments (1)

January 15, 2004

Immigration in the US

Jan. 15 - I have a very good reason to be low-key on Canadian problems with immigration: the record in the US isn't much better.

>From Right Wing News: The Illegal Alien Crime Wave and 3 Illegal Immigration Myths.

Posted by Debbye at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2004

Arise Jacksonians!

Jan. 14 - In THE SLEEP OF THE JACKSONIANS (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT), Bill Whittle assigned homework: to read and consider Walter Read's The Jacksonian Tradition thoughtfully preserved by Steven Den Beste.

Bill's accompanying post posed some new challenges for Americans, and he's living up to a promise he made in that post with the new Build An American Ideal! promo pack.

Caution: Place tongue firmly in cheek but remain in control so as to remove it when required. Do not mistake well-directed satire for a lack of sincerity or earnestness.

Posted by Debbye at 01:46 PM | Comments (1)

January 10, 2004

Going to Mars (Yippee!)

Jan. 10 - I had hoped to be able to get past my euphoria that manned space exploration was going forward again before I commented on this (Bush wants men on Mars) but I may as well face the fact that some expectations of my youth will never go away.

It's a sad fact that my major response to this remains Yippee! absent truly sober reflection and analysis.

Space, the final frontier echoed what was once a theme of American historical analysis: the Turner thesis that the "frontier was a safety valve" in that having available land to settle reduced, due to the opportunity for self-advancement, discontent by the working masses in the urban areas and the challenge of having new mountains to climb stimulated and provided an outlet for people who have high energy and restlessness thresholds (adventurers). (That is a shamelessly short version, but for a more scholarly view go here and for the thesis itself go here which link was obtained from this.)

Forttunately, others have coherent posts, such as Jay Currie (note two posts on the subject,) Alpha Patriot and Ghost of a Flea for starters.

Transterrestrial Musings is disappointed, and says he was hoping for a vision, rather than a destination, and one that included the American people.

Donald Sensing takes a larger view that also encompasses the proposed immigration reform and the President's focus as Carteresque or Reaganesque.

Posted by Debbye at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2004

Iraq, Kashmir bombings

Jan. 9 - 5 killed in attack on Iraqi mosque:

BAQOUBA, Iraq (AP) -- A car[*] rigged with explosives exploded outside a Shiite Muslim mosque as worshippers streamed out of Friday prayers, killing five people and wounding 37, according to medical officials in the central Iraqi town of Baqouba.
The AP report attributes the attack to tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims which, although probable, is not the only possibility.

There are a number of groups that would like to undermine Iraqi unity by exacerbating tensions between the two Muslim groups, and attacks on mosques certainly does that.

* Note: some reports claim the bomb was in a bicycle.

And in another hotspot, Kashmir, hand grenade explodes in mosque wounding 15. According to the report, a hand grenade was thrown onto a rooftop during Friday prayers in Jammu, a predominantly Hindu city. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Kashmir has been wracked by violence since 1989, when Islamic guerrillas launched an insurgency to wrest the province from Indian control. More than 65,000 people have been killed in the conflict. (My emphasis because that number is horrifying.)
This is the first major attack in Kashmir since Pakistan and India took steps to reduce hostilities.

Again, the hard part is trying to ascertain if Hindus or Muslims threw the grenade in an effort to disrupt peace efforts.

Ironically, Retuers has an article by it's Religious Editor, Tom Heneghan, who reports that Europeans are puzzled by U.S. mix of faith, politics. (Okay, I freely admit that I am weary of everyone being "puzzled" by Americans when all anyone has to do is read our history, our writings and the First Amendment, so the subject already has my irritable attention.)

What is so hard to understand? Politicians (and, for that matter, the people) feel comfortable chatting about their religious views because we have absolutely no fear that the religion of the President or anyone else will ever be imposed on the population. (Ref. US Constitution, Amendments I and II, which is to say that the country would cease to exist before that could happen.)

Aren't there groups like the Inter-Faith Council in Europe? So far as I know, none of their meetings in the US have degenerated into fisticuffs or gunfights. You worship in your faith, I'll worship in mine, and let's organize a pot luck supper for our congregations (or equivalent) so they can get to know one and understand one another better.

People of all religions have plenty of common ground. Just mention kids (and especially teenagers) and watch the heads nod and laughter erupt as we compare stories about the trials and tribulations of bringing up children.

If the Europeans are truly puzzled by the role of religion in the US, they could regain some perspective by reading Jay Currie's comments on The Saudi Paradox, or ponder the anachronistic Council of Guardians in Iran.

Posted by Debbye at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

Quick hits

Jan. 9 - This is quirky: Tax-weary Vermont ski town considers joining New Hampshire:blockquote>Killington, Vermont (AP) -- Officials in the popular ski resort area of Killington want the town to secede from Vermont and join neighboring New Hampshire in a dispute over taxes.
What does Mark Steyn think of this? Um, okay, when will Mark Steyn stop laughing long enough to tell us what he thinks of this?

While I'm on the subject of quirky stuff, one of the things I hate most about being at home in the daytime is Wolf Freaking' Blitzer. He's reporting that a mountain lion "suprised" and attacked a mountain biker. Of course the cougar "surprised" its prey - it's how they hunt. Only on TV, say on Bonanza, would the cougar emit a roar from atop a rock outcropping before attacking.

Do. Your. Homework.

Posted by Debbye at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2004

Crossing the line

Jan. 7 - Toronto Sun: Editorial/Letters (one-day link.)

Letter of the Day

ON NEW Year's Day, I went to cross the border at Niagara Falls into Buffalo. My friend and I (both 28) were in a van loaded with kids' clothes and toys and in the process of taking it to my friend's parents' place in Pennsylvania for storage.

We were sent to an Immigration office and interviewed by an agent who would not let us pass. He would not believe that my friend was not moving to the States to work illegally, even though his wife and kids were at home.

We were then told that we had to have our fingerprints and picture taken with their new electronic system. "Blame the criminals that could have been caught if this system was implemented years ago," was his reasoning.

When is this violation of people's rights going to end? I am no criminal, I have a perfect record, and now I am in the mass U.S. database. How long can things like this continue under the guise of "War on Terrorism" and "Homeland Security"? Will they not be happy until the entire world is tagged and catalogued and under surveillance?

Freedoms once taken for granted could soon become a luxury enjoyed only by the rich, the criminals, and the rich criminals. Slowly our rights are dissipating and there is no way of stopping Big Brother. Welcome to the age of fear and oppression, a fire ignited not by Islamic terrorists, fanatical Muslims, or even Osama himself, but by what once was a beacon of freedom and democracy; the good ol' US of A. (The writer is a man from Newmarket.)

The Toronto Sun responded with this:
(Unfortunate, but even before 9/11 U.S. officials took a dim view of anyone who crossed the border with a load of belongings, while claiming they weren't planning to stay. That's their job)
Which is exactly why they were stopped and, I suspect, the letter writer knew it was so but couldn't resist a pretext to take a shot at the Creeping Police State Mentality and Paranoia of the good ol' US of A.

I am astounded and begining to get angry at the continous whining and muttering about the new procedures at the border.

Sir, you and your friend (clearly not a US citizen) do not now nor have you ever had the "right" to go to the United States just because you are citizens of Canada or any other nation except the United States. You do not now nor have you ever enjoyed any "freedom" to pass the border into the United States unless you are a citizen, and anyone who took it for granted that non-citizens had the right to cross the border, as the letter writer says he did, took for granted something that never existed and, in fact, never pretended to exist.

A similar thing happened to me and a friend back in 1976, and I would have been allowed to proceed but not my companion. If the letter writer is a citizen, he was granted the right to proceed without his friend. He was not denied entrance.

If the letter writer is sincere and truly doesn't understand why non-citizens would be allowed to cross the border with a van full of clothing and other belongings then he is seriously a tool.

But this isn't only about Sept. 11 anymore. The use of the words freedom and rights invoked by the letter writer on behalf of a non-citizen who isn't on American soil are worrisome.

Much as people actually believe there is something called international law, it appears that there are people who think totally without reason or foundation that everyone is entitled to the enter the United States just because they want to.

I understand completely that people don't like jumping through hoops, but unfortunately it is now part of entering a sovereign nation.

The United States does not belong to the people of the world, folks, it belong to us, the citizens of the United States. It's We, the People, not Everyone Else, the People.

And make no mistake: Today, in this world, there is a We and a Them and a great many Youse.

I'm sorry, but that's how it is. Nobody likes it, and we are resolved to do what we can to stop the use of terrorism as a tactic and, in too many case, a strategy and even a principle.

The war on terror (despite the horrible name) is actually a real war to many people and the battlefield is our country. We don't know everything that might be involved because no one can see the future, but that isn't a reason to stop but rather a reason to proceed, learn, and eventually defeat terrorism.

We want it end too, you know. All the security, all the checks, and most of all the reality that we, the people, are threatened by hostiles. We want to go back in time to when we went to football games without a care in the world but we can't. Neither can young girls performing New Year's Eve in the Phillippines, shoppers in Algeria, people in the Kashmir region or surfers enjoying the beaches of Bali.

Join us in fighting terrorism. Stop this murder of innocents, say it is wrong, and talk about it with people. Put your idealism and energy to a good cause. If it saves one life, won't it be worth it?

No, I really mean it. If one person can be spared the searing agony of the kind of burns the victims suffered in Bali, won't it be worthwhile? If people don't have to jump from 90 stories because they have no way out and the fire is at their backs, isn't it worthwhile?

Dear God, there are also victims of terrorism who live yet endure life-changing injuries and must simply endure. They hurt as much as victims of land mines and drunk drivers, yet who is their advocate?

Is inconvenience for many at the border and needing to plan ahead (a good idea for any endeavour) really that important in the greater scheme of things?

I wonder if the people behind Ahmed Ressem are angry that they were inconvenienced or were grateful for the professionalism of Customs Inspector Diana M. Dean. There is precedent, you know.

So people don't get the wrong idea about people in the Toronto area, there was another letter in today's Sun:

DURING A flight to the U.S. just before New Year's, I was searched, had my luggage and shoes x-rayed, was forced to prove where I was born, lived and worked and then had my luggage hand-searched again before being allowed to board the flight. I had to produce my citizenship and photo ID no less than 4 times before getting on board. My point here is that anyone who screams racial profiling is simply stirring up the pot. I am a 45-year-old white Canadian male and don't find this treatment offensive, quite the opposite. Most people feel safer. We certainly do not condone racial or religious profiling. But we cannot and should not forget who is taking credit for the 9/11 tragedy while at the same time promoting more hatred and killing of innocents. No matter who you are, or where you're from, get used to it folks, I doubt it's going to go back to the way it was. God help us all if it does. (This letter writer is a man from Mimico.)
By the way, the Sun's response was
(Well said. For a different view, see today's Letter of the Day)
My son recently returned from Puerto Rico, and nodded his head at each point of the second letter writer's recount of security measures (except mine had to provide full ID only three times.)

The last word goes to the speaker of the Quote of the Day from the NY Times:

"I prefer that we are reproached for having too many security measures than too few."

-- Nicolas Sarkozy, the French interior minister
January 2, 2004

UPDATE: Murdoc adds some perspective on what are the responsibilities of the US government.

Posted by Debbye at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2004

Common sense toward mad cows

Jan. 6 - Sometimes folks in Washington can show uncommon bad sense: in response to the news that DNA Tests Confirm Sick Cow Came From Canada, two senators, Democrat Senate Leader Tom Daschle and W. Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, are urging that "country-of-origin" labelling be implemented on most meat and produce.

I thought the Dems were supposed to be the soulmates of the Liberal Party of Canada, yet here they are trying to differentiate (temporarily) good American beef from unsafe - in their minds - Canadian beef for all eternity. What will the neighbours think?

BSE is not an election issue, Senators. Neither is the flu, SARS, or most of the aggravations that plague us on any given day. And it's not about Canada-US relations actually, however silly some have been about it. It's about our mutual food supply and our mutual self-interest to ensure that it's safe. Get off the Senate floor and consult with your constituents, the ones who have been happy to have access to a larger gene pool which makes for better cattle.

But the news from DC isn't all ridiculous, and sometimes, folks in DC can also show uncommon good sense: Dr. Ron DeHaven, the Agriculture Department's chief veterinarian, responded

"It's a North American issue. Has been. Continues to be."
Now that's pithy. Maybe he reads Eden at Just Between Us Girls who made the same point in her post Dec. 27 (scroll down or enable search function keywords "It was only a matter of time") or maybe, maybe he doesn't know that an election is 11 months away and is just trying to tackle the problem and solve it with more than a knee-jerk packaging gimmick.

Too bad his statement didn't have any nuance.

Posted by Debbye at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2004

2004 World Junior Hockey Champsionsips

Jan. 4 - Expect people in Canada to be somewhat distracted tomorrow from noon until 2 p.m. or so as Canadian and American juniors face off for gold in the 2004 World Junior Hockey Championships.

When it comes to hockey, I root for Canada. This is where I learned to love the game, and that's the way it is.

Go Canada!

Posted by Debbye at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2004

BSE linked to Edmonton plant

Jan. 2 - Blogger was down yesterday evening (DNS issues, they say.) That's my excuse for being so late in posting this article from Dec. 31 which says Investigators link mad cow to Edmonton plant.

EDMONTON - Canadian food safety investigators have established a tentative link between an Edmonton rendering plant and North America's two cases of mad cow disease, The Journal has learned.

The city plant may have provided contaminated materials to feed mills which mixed feed for both the Alberta-born Holstein at the centre of the current U.S. mad cow investigation and the Saskatchewan birthplace of a diseased cow from northern Alberta discovered in May.

The mixing of the contaminated feed would have occurred before August 1997, when both Canada and the U.S. banned feeding cattle parts to cattle.

The rendering plant complied with the ban when it took effect but until then, it produced the same protein meal for hogs and cattle as was done by similar plants throughout North America.

Mad cow disease is widely believed to incubate for at least three years in an animal, which is why investigators are spending so much time tracing what it ate in its early years. However, two infected cows found this fall in Japan were 23 months old and 21 months old. (Emphasis added)

When the BSE case was discovered in Alberta last summer, the Daily Telegraph (UK) provided a number of off-site links about BSE including some from scientists who disputed the conventional wisdom as to how, or if, the disease is transmitted to humans and if the disease can be transmitted from cow to cow though feed and/or birthmother. I hoped those links would re-appear at the Telegraph (they didn't) but Fox News is carrying a similar story questioning the science behind those assertions although the article implicitly contradicts the Telegraph assertion that scientists in the UK continue to investigate the disease and question the original premises on which the science is based.

The Alberta case had been tentatively declared a spontaneous case mostly because the other leads had dried up. The current investigation of the feed mill indicates something significant: far from closing the book on the Alberta case, the agriculture departments/ministries of the US and Canada had continued to cooperate in the investigation.

I'm tempted to say that the intelligence and professionalism in this area is because it involves farmers and ranchers, who tend to be more practical than urbanites, but that is a prejudice which lies in my Kansas roots and besides, I can't prove it.

Oh, and for those who have expressed satisfaction in the what goes round comes round vein about the swift banning of US beef exports, I had preserved a Sept. 4 column by Licia Corbella of the Calgary Sun here (if blogspotted, it's in the Sept. archives key word BSE) that responded to cries that Canadian beef exports were being unfairly targeted by Japan because the fact is that Canada banned Japanese beef after cases were discovered there 2 years ago.

There are some things Americans can learn from Canadians on this issue. One, continue to enjoy your beef. Two, because of the border closure, there were some terrific sales on beef products. Get your freezers ready.

UPDATE: It seems the feed mill was already under scrutiny before the BSE case in Alberta due to a February report identifying labelling problems with feed bags.

Posted by Debbye at 09:14 PM | 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

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of War

Dec. 26 - The first time I saw Don Rumsfeld referred to as the Secretary of War was at Frank J.'s last winter, so I'm going strictly on personal bias to proclaim that they stole that from him.

This is actually an interesting article, even if they can't hide their dislike of him (guess they'd prefer a warm, cuddly touchy-feely type to run the War Department) although the heading has me somewhat baffled: TIME Person of the Year: Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of War. As the American soldier has been proclaimed Person of the Year, both Rumsfeld and Pres. Bush get assists as Sect. of War and Commander-in-Chief (in my world!)

But TIME still doesn't get it:

In the old days, Rumsfeld might have been called the Secretary of War, and it would have better fit his style and sensibility. To be in his presence or, worse, in his employ is to risk being lulled, lured, ambushed, bludgeoned and, always, conquered in the end.
We are at war, which is why we do call him the Secretary of War. We intend to win this war, which inevitably means conquering our enemies by confrontation or, as in the case of Libya, getting them to stand down.

Posted by Debbye at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2003

British, Australian troops deployed abroad

Dec. 25 - Too often, we overlook the fact that the military force in Iraq is multi-national, and that they too sacrifice to serve their countries in the defence of freedom. Reading this article from the Daily Telegraph (UK), Quarter of Armed Forces personnel abroad for Christmas, I was astonished at how many British service men and women are deployed abroad, not only in Iraq but throughout the world:

The largest deployment of British forces abroad remains Germany with 21,500 soldiers and airmen still based there. An additional 13,500 are serving in northern Ireland.

But the next largest deployment is 8,300 in Iraq with a further 1,270 in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. The number of British troops in Afghanistan has dropped to just 377. Deployments in the Balkans have also been heavily cut but 1,449 servicemen and women remain in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.

There are 3,250 British servicemen and women in Cyprus, 1,240 in the Falklands, 420 in Gibraltar and small numbers in Nato bases in Europe.

There are also 456 on UN missions abroad. Most are in Cyprus but there are 22 in Sierra Leone and smaller numbers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, Liberia and Ethiopia and Eritrea - the smallest detachment with three people.

Over 2,000 Australians are deployed abroad including Iraq, East Timor and the Solomon Islands:
Australian forces are spread in more countries now than at any time since World War II.

They will miss their wives, husbands, children, relatives and friends. But from Baghdad to Dili to Honiara, they're doing their best to replicate a traditional Aussie Christmas, enjoying a cold beer and a hit of cricket.

In the Solomon Islands capital Honiara, Australian Federal Police agent Darren Booy has organised a cricket grudge match against his Kiwi colleagues.

There are also American, Canadian, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Bulgarian, Danish, French, German, Indian, Japanese and soldiers from other nations who have sworn to serve their countries and "hold the line" far from their native shores.

Never forget them. Never take them for granted. God bless the men and women who serve, and let them know that their sacrifices are known and valued.

UPDATE: The Queen's Christmas message this year was a departure from tradition, filmed from Combermere Barracks at Windsor and praising the valor of the men and women serving as well as those volunteering in the UK.

UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph (UK) is carrying more coverage of the Queen's Christmas address here, and their leader (opinion) proclaims The Queen inspires national team.

UPDATE: Pride and gratitude for the troops and their families were also the main feature of President Bush's Christmas Message (full text not online yet, although there's a press release dated Dec. 19 here.)

Canadian troops in Afghanistan got snow and enjoyed a brief snowball fight, and in the tradition of servicemen and women everywhere, American soldiers count one another as family until they get back home, and to bring the Christmas spirit of giving wherever they are.

Posted by Debbye at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2003

America: A Spartan Athens

Dec. 24 - An interesting essay well-worth reading by Michael Novak: America: A Spartan Athens.

After a quick look at how the US tries to combine the intellectual spirit of Athens with the martial spirit of Sparta, he makes this pointed remark:

Yet there are still people in Europe, not least at the Jesuit monthly Civilta Cattolica, who write that the motive for the U.S. efforts in Iraq is not to deny support and bases to terrorists. The motive, they insist, is oil.

One wonders if those who make such accusations know how to do a profit-loss statement? Can't they see that U.S. costs in Iraq alone have gone over $200 billion, whereas the entire annual GDP of Iraq is only $22 billion? At that rate, it would take twenty years for such an investment (which will probably have to increase by a lot over the next few years) even to be recouped. It will never show a profit.

But the greatest blindness of the critics of the U.S. is not financial accounting. It is spiritual. They do not see that safety from terrorism means not only depriving terrorists of bases, but also building democracy and a dynamic economy for the Iraqi people, as an alternative to terrorism. Creating such an alternative, not only for Iraq, but for all the young people of the Mideast, is worth a lot more than 200 million dollars. Such costs and benefits are not counted in dollars.

(Via Instapundit.)

Posted by Debbye at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

America: A Spartan Athens

Dec. 24 - An interesting essay well-worth reading by Michael Novak: America: A Spartan Athens.

After a quick look at how the US tries to combine the intellectual spirit of Athens with the martial spirit of Sparta, he makes this pointed remark:

Yet there are still people in Europe, not least at the Jesuit monthly Civilta Cattolica, who write that the motive for the U.S. efforts in Iraq is not to deny support and bases to terrorists. The motive, they insist, is oil.

One wonders if those who make such accusations know how to do a profit-loss statement? Can't they see that U.S. costs in Iraq alone have gone over $200 billion, whereas the entire annual GDP of Iraq is only $22 billion? At that rate, it would take twenty years for such an investment (which will probably have to increase by a lot over the next few years) even to be recouped. It will never show a profit.

But the greatest blindness of the critics of the U.S. is not financial accounting. It is spiritual. They do not see that safety from terrorism means not only depriving terrorists of bases, but also building democracy and a dynamic economy for the Iraqi people, as an alternative to terrorism. Creating such an alternative, not only for Iraq, but for all the young people of the Mideast, is worth a lot more than 200 million dollars. Such costs and benefits are not counted in dollars.

(Via Instapundit.)

Posted by Debbye at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2003

Les Shaw's generosity to the troops

Dec. 22 - There is one Canadian who knows the Price of freedom and is expressing his gratitude directly to the families who have lost loved ones: 76-year old Les Shaw is sending the families of American soldiers who died protecting democracy overseas $2,000 and $2,500 to the familes of the 6 Canadian soliders who died in Afghanistan.

"We in North America and other parts of the world, we take freedom for granted," Shaw, who now lives in Barbados, said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.

"Yet here's these young fellows and their families who are giving the ultimate sacrifice to sustain the freedom we enjoy."

Shaw sent a letter with the gifts:
"It is too easy for many of us in North America to take our wonderful freedoms for granted; obviously, your loved one did not," Shaw's letter reads.

"Please accept this small token as a gesture of heartfelt thanks from an appreciative Canadian. Spend it however you think your fallen hero would want."

The letters prompted more than 100 heart-wrenching replies, many stuffed with family photos and other tokens of remembrance from grieving parents, widows and widowers whose anguish leaps from the page.

Shaw's 22-year old nephew is in Baghdad with US forces. He went public with his gifts when casualties continued after his planned cut-off date of July 31 and hopes another will step in to continue his philanthrophy.

UPDATE: Smug Canadian has some interesting thoughts here.

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

December 21, 2003

The American Soldier, Time's Person of the Year

Dec. 21 - This says it all: Time Person of Year: The American soldier.

NEW YORK (AP) -- The American soldier, who bears the duty of "living with and dying for a country's most fateful decisions," was named Sunday as Time magazine's Person of the Year.

The magazine's editors chose the nameless soldier to represent the 1.4 million men and women who make up the U.S. military, which led the invasion of Iraq nine months ago and a week ago captured deposed leader Saddam Hussein.

UPDATE: Mudville Gazettel isn't impressed

Posted by Debbye at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2003

The California Governor

Dec. 20 - California governor Schwarzenegger declared fiscal crisis and did something few political hacks would dare: he took action!

Saying California's legislative leadership "refuses to act," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared California in a fiscal crisis, invoking one-time emergency powers to impose $150 million in spending cuts -- largely in social service programs -- without lawmakers' approval.

The cuts free up money lost when the Republican governor kept a campaign promise by rolling back an unpopular tripling of the state's car tax. The funds will be used for city and county governments that have lost more than $300 million since.

"I was elected by the people of this state to lead. Since the legislative leadership refuses to act, I will act without them," Schwarzenegger said in announcing the decision Thursday.

Democrats say the move could spoil some of the bipartisan good will generated by a separate spending and bond accord forged last week.

Democrats are still worried about good will? (Of course, their voices could scarcely be heard over the rejoicing of tax-weary Californians.)

Legislators don't like governors acting over their heads, but invoking emergency powers sends a very clear message that if they won't do the job, someone else can and will. This is only a small step given California's fiscal problems, but it's a step.

One rejoicing is CaliforniaRepublic.

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

December 16, 2003

Reconstruction contracts

Dec. 16 - I am really, really confused. Americans are depicted as as grasping, greedy and downright unscrupulous business types who are utterly bankrupt morally and only out for a fast buck, but when it comes to blatant opportunism, it turns out that Martin names his price:

In his first conversation with Bush since being sworn in as PM, Martin protested U.S. policy that bans non-coalition countries from bidding on reconstruction contracts. He reminded the U.S. president that Canada is a "major participant" in the war on terror, dispatching 2,000 troops to Afghanistan while contributing $300 million along with policing and judicial experts to assist the fledgling democracy.
So he admits that the war in Iraq was part of the war on terror! Then why didn't he support the war in Iraq?
"I believe that Canadian companies can and should qualify. I obviously made that point to the president and we agreed that we would ask our officials to look at it and that we would discuss it further in Monterrey," he said.

Bush's call yesterday was to congratulate Martin on becoming PM and to confirm a face-to-face meeting in Monterrey, Mexico, in mid-January.

The president calls to congratulate Martin, and Martin's first response is to say that he believes that American taxpayers should finance Canadian businesses.

Has it even occured to those Canadians protesting the US decision to wonder who will get the reconstruction contracts from the Canadian funds - footed by Canadian taxpayer dollars - pledged to Iraq and Afghanistan?

In other news, the French and Germans figured it out themselves. They've chosen to discuss the best way to appear magnanimous with their eyes firmly on the prized reconstruction contracts.

And to think how much they sneered at the "Coalition of the Billing" when allies were signing up to support us in Iraq.

UPDATE: It seems I'm a bit behind the times. The correct phrase now seems to be Coalition of the Pissy. What name are we supposed to give to individual members? (Don't answer that! My mother read this sometimes.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2003

Soldiers get heroes' welcome

Dec. 12 - This story brought tears to my old softy eyes: Soldiers get heroes' welcome:

"You guys coming or going? Going? Thank you," said Mr. Hastings, 64, shaking each soldier's hand and looking them in the eye. "Don't think we don't think about you. We think about you every night."

Mr. Hastings, a Vietnam War veteran, then walked 50 yards down the concourse to thank another soldier, a young man who stood alone studying a Burger King menu for his last American meal before re-entering Iraq.

U.S. soldiers coming home from Iraq on leave or returning there attract plenty of attention at BWI. Middle-age and older men frequently walk up to them to shake their hands and thank them for their service. Teenage boys stare in awe and curiosity. A young black woman stops to talk with a black female soldier who is her age about new hairstyles. Military veterans make sure incoming soldiers are able to find their connecting flights.

[...]

"It just reminded me. ... Wow. ... Freedom has a cost, and they're paying it," said Jim Schultz, a Baltimore businessman on his way to Orlando, Fla. Mr. Schultz was one of those stopping soldiers to thank them for their service.

Remember to thank those who serve. They are truly heroes.

Posted by Debbye at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)

Bush to Europe: Forgive Iraq Debt

Dec. 12 - Bush sends debt-relief message to Europe:

President Bush yesterday said forgiving Iraqi debt would be "a significant contribution" to postwar reconstruction efforts and suggested that such a move by France, Germany and Russia might be enough to permit those countries' companies to compete for prime contracts to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure.
Heh. Will they blink?

Posted by Debbye at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2003

McGuinty's acumen

Dec. 11 - I questioned Dalton McGuinty's political acumen in an earlier post in which he claimed he was snubbed due to American ignorance because his scheduled ringing of the opening bell at the NYSE was usurped by the Chinese Premier, and now he claims it wasn't a lie but just a joke:

"I attempted to use a little bit of self-deprecating humour within the confines of a scrum and it was blown out of proportion," the Premier told the legislature the same day headlines appeared declaring "McGuinty says NYSE snubbed him for China."

"I was treated with the utmost respect, accorded warm and gracious hospitality by the folks at the New York Stock Exchange and everybody else I encountered," said the Premier, who was in New York on Monday but who according to his own staff was never scheduled to do any bell-ringing.

"I look forward to returning," Mr. McGuinty added, "whether or not I can get to ring the damn bell."

According to this article, however, McGuinty was half-right about the high level of Ontario-US trade:
Statistics provided by the provincial Economic Development Ministry show two-way trade in goods between Ontario and the United States was worth $356-billion in 2002. U.S.-China trade was worth $225-billion, while U.S.-Japan trade was $277-billion. U.S.-Mexican trade was slightly higher than the Ontario total at $364-billion.
And he endangered that trade with a stupid joke because . . . ?

Jay Currie (Ctrl+F "Blowback") thinks there is more credibility to the conclusions of the Fraser Report which blames political reasons for reduced Canadian-American trade than I. If Jay's right, then more unfavourable press from Canada is going to make a bad situation worse.

The fact that McGuinty lied/joked about his NY trip isn't going to help Canada's attempt to get the US to revisit their decision on awarding Iraq contracts either.

So is McGuinty stupid or calculating? If he is actively trying to sabotage trade, there's not a lot Ontarians can do to stop him for at least 5 years, which is more than enough time to permanently damage Ontario's economy.

Unless the federal and provincial Liberal Parties seriously believe that Europe, and by implication France, will become Canada's biggest trading partner, what is the gameplan? If they haven't one, then why do they persist? A bad economy can only help the new Conservative Party especially as reduced trade will not only hurt the economy but force a new spotlight onto government spending excesses, boondoggles and corruption.

Interesting times.

Posted by Debbye at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2003

Protecting our borders

Dec. 10 - The second installment in the Washington Times series on protecting our borders is available here.

Forget the finger-pointing, both Canada and the US have major problems in dealing with illegal immigrants, and the problem isn't lack of cooperation between the countries, it's lack of internal cooperation and support for their own agencies charged with regulating immigration.

Something I didn't know about an immediate Canadian response on Sept. 11:

... James H. Johnston, director of intelligence and contraband for Canada customs in Windsor, called his U.S. counterparts in Detroit offering "every bit of intelligence information" he had to help find those responsible.

"It went without question that every file we had in our office was available to them," he said. "If we had any information that was pertinent, we wanted to make sure it got to the appropriate agency. I believe they expected we would be there for them, and I'm glad we were."

After the September 11 attacks, Mr. Johnston ordered that records of all border crossings be checked and forwarded to U.S. authorities. His offer later was repeated all along the U.S.-Canada border, as authorities in both countries worked to identify the September 11 terrorists.
The history of relations between the US and Canada is uneven, to say the least.

(Link via Spin Killer.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2003

Dalton McGuinty

Dec. 9 - What is Ont. Prem. Dalton McGuinty up to? McGuinty suggests American trade ignorance behind Big Apple snub except he knew he wasn't scheduled to ring the opening bell at the NYSE:

TORONTO (CP) - Premier Dalton McGuinty suggested on Tuesday that he didn't get to ring the bell to start the day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange this week because ignorant Americans snubbed Ontario in favour of China, but his complaint appeared to be based on his own ignorance.

The Liberal premier, who was on Wall Street on Monday selling the province to a business audience, said he was supposed to have had the honour of starting the trading day.

Lined up by who? Anonymous official sources, perhaps?
"I had been lined up to give the honour of ringing the bell but I was displaced when the premier of China showed up with an 18-car cortege and pre-empted me," McGuinty said before a caucus meeting on Tuesday.

"Here's the point: Guess who does more business with the U.S.? Ontario or China? We do more business with the U.S. We do more business with the U.S. than does Japan or Mexico."

As the article points out, McGuinty is dead wrong on both counts. The US has a larger bilateral free trade ageement with both China and Mexico and does more trade with them than Ontario, and the Chinese premier had been scheduled to ring the opening bell for months.

But then, the story people remember most is the one they hear first, and McGuinty knows it. Gee, he couldn't be trying to stir up a little anti-Ignorant Americanism, could he? Because that is going to be the result for those who only read his complaints and not the facts.

The point he wanted to make, he said, is that the Ontario and the United States have "very strong economic ties."

"It's a matter of us doing a better job of promoting a good understanding of our connections," he said.

Fraudulently claiming you were snubbed is a really good way to attract investors, doncha know, not to mention building trust and impressing people. They've already written him off as a political hack and waving the Ignorant Americans flag just confirms it.
What's not in dispute is the significance of trade between Ontario and the U.S., accounting for almost half the provincial economy and more than a million jobs in the province.

More than 90 per cent of the province's exports head to the United States and 70 per cent of the imports come from the U.S.

Ontario is in fact the U.S.'s fourth largest trading partner after Canada, Mexico and China, accounting for close to $1 billion a day in two-way trade.

There may be another reason why the premier wanted to elevate the profile of Ontario's trade relations with the US, however, and that lies in a recent report by the Fraser Institute for which they interviewed Canadian exporters who believe there are huge problems in trading with the US due to worsening relations between the leaders of the two countries.

According to the press release:

December 1, 2003
Vancouver, BC - As Paul Martin prepares to improve relations with the United States, a new study dramatically reveals how costly deteriorating ties have been to Canada's economy. The Fraser Institute's 2003 Trade Survey, The Unseen Wall, released today, shows that a remarkable 96 percent of Canadian exporters surveyed believe that Canada/US relations have worsened over recent months and - far more worrisome - two-thirds believe it has damaged their ability to sell to the United States. [The complete report is linked at that page in .pdf form.]

As a result, a significant number of Canadian firms reported moving production to the United States or ceasing export activity.

"As protectionist sentiment builds in the United States and even business friendly media run anti-trade features, this survey shows how much bad relations have cost Canadians in prosperity and jobs," says Fred McMahon, principal author and director of the Institute's trade and globalization centre.

In the Executive Summary of the report:
... [the Institute] classified informal trade barrers under three headings:

1. discriminatory regulations and policies on health, product packaging, and environmental conservation.

2. cumbersome customs clearance and inspection procedures; and

3. policies on domestic content requirements, particularly "buy national" policies.

The opening paragraph of the press release has one major flaw: the report relies on the perceptions of Canadian exporters but lacks any confirmation by those American companies that Canadians lost sales to American companies for political reasons.

There are many reasons companies might choose to locate to the US. Other possibilities are the high rate of employers contributions to payroll taxes, the higher Canadian dollar, and the report alludes to but doesn't examine the costs involved in extra paperwork and lengthy waits at the border.

Security at the US-Canada border was the subject of two Washington Times articles this week. The first, Guarding America's Borders, focused on upgraded security measures on the largely undefended border, and the second, Detroit Bridge focus of trade, looked at the largest points of entry for trade into the US:

The Ambassador Bridge and the nearby Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, as well as the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, Mich., about 60 miles northeast of here, handle about a third of all the trade crossing each day from Canada into this country. (Emphasis added)
This article too details the improvements and added personnel to handle security yet keep the border open. Nevertheless, the waits are lengthy and expensive.

I did the payroll for a small company as well as Accounts Payable and saw how high were not only the employer contributions for CPP (Canada Pension Plan) and EI (Employment Insurance,) but also the rates for Workers Compensation and the Ontario Health Tax, which are payed solely by the employer based on a percentage of the gross payroll.

Simple economics, really. How competitive are Canadian prices in US dollars after you factor in wages, taxes and extra costs in shipping when the Canadian dollar is high?

I'm not discounting American anger over the comments made by Ducros, Dhaliwal and Parrish, and the activities of soon-to-be Ex PM Chretien went beyond saying "no thank you" about Iraq, and but I live here and am probably more aware of and care more about the slurs than most Americans inasmuch as France and Germany were much more vociferous in their denunciations and commanded most of the headlines.

There was also the small matter of Chretien's comments right before the G8 meeting in Evian in which he boasted about how much better the Canadian economy was than that of the US. Whereas I doubt American investors and businesses were so miffed they decided to turn down any promising opportunity, Chretien did tempt the fates with that one. (Had he added "what could possibly gone wrong?" it would be a sure bet.)

The one thing I am sure of is that any business will look at the bottom line when making decisions, and neither hurt feelings nor pique are likely to influence their purchases, all things being equal. If it is true that companies are relocating and exports are hurting, the reasons are most likely economic rather than political.

One possible factor is the state of the Canadian military, but I doubt it. Any enemy that strikes at Canada will face the US military and probably the UK and Australia will rise quickly to the defense of Canada, as will as NATO. We might even have UN approval for that one.

Premier McGuinty may have had his reasons for pretending to have been snubbed during his visit to NYC, but somehow I doubt that improving business relations with the US was one of them.

One thing that hasn't slowed down is the all important trade in ideas. And that's the one that counts.

Posted by Debbye at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2003

Pearl Harbor

Dec. 7 - Blogger went down immediately after my first (only) post this morning, an I was unable to put up something about Pearl Harbor. I couldn't have done better than Ith, though.

Mike the Marine also has an excellent post (Ctrl+F "Respect") and draws some darned accurate parallels.

Posted by Debbye at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2003

Since Bush declared an end to major combat ...

Dec. 4 - From FrontPage Magazine, a list of things accomplished in Iraq Since Bush declared an end to major combat in May.

Good companion reading is this Ann Coulter item Here's a Traitor! which contains this much-quoted paragraph:

Interestingly, we started to lose this war only after the embedded reporters pulled out. Back when we got the news directly from Iraq, there was victory and optimism. Now that the news is filtered through the mainstream media here in America, all we hear is death and destruction and quagmire -- along with obsessive references to the date on which Bush declared an end to major combat operations.
Classic Coulter.

Posted by Debbye at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2003

Dick Morris

Dec. 2 - Dick Morris of the NY Post believes Sen. Clinton's comments to the troops during her recent visit to Iraq indicated her motive was to raise objections rather than boost morale.

So much for supporting the troops.

(Link via Neale News.)

Blackfive explains Why Hillary is a Polarising Figure.

Posted by Debbye at 04:51 PM | Comments (0)

Donald Rumsfeld and Plain English

Dec. 2 - It appears that some people don't understand plain english, especially the folks at the Plain English Campaign who awarded US Def. Secy. Donald Rumsfeld this year's Foot in Mouth award for the most baffling statement by a public figure for what is one of my personal favourites:

"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns, there are things we know we know," Rumsfeld said.

"We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know."

The Def. Secy. was responding to a reporter's question during a DoD briefing which required speculation (as most of them do) rather than sticking to the known facts.

I have to wonder what the Plain English folks would make of Yogi Berra.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was awarded second place for this quote:

"I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman."
Guess the Society doesn't do humour, either.

On the other hand, who seriously claims that the Queen's English is spoken in America? As Prof. Higgins said, "There are places where English completely disappears! In America, they haven't spoken it for years."

UPDATE: Courtesy of one of Paul's commenters, is The Poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld.

Posted by Debbye at 03:47 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2003

Leaks that the media overlooked

Nov. 25 - Tom Blankley of the Washington Times delivers sarcastic homage to the Three leaks major media has ignored:

Three vastly embarrassing and newsworthy memos - two from the Senate and one from the Pentagon - came to light. But in each case, the shocking revelations were not revealed in the august pages and electrons of the newly mature media elite.

In the remaining actual news gathering and reporting institutions (the Weekly Standard, The Washington Times, the New York Post, Fox News,Wall Street Journal Editorial Page, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh radio programs, et al.) those three leaked memos were substantively reported on and extensively quoted.

For those of you who get your news from the WashingtonPostNewYorkTimesCBSetc., here is a summary of those three now half-famous memos: 1) Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee had drafted plans to use and misconstrue classified intelligence data to politically undercut the president of the United States ("pulling the trigger" closer to the election); (2) the CIA and other intelligence offices of the government have identified 10 years of contacts between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden -thus tending to dramatically justify our war against Iraq and contradicting one of the major Democratic Party criticisms of President Bush's Iraq policy; and 3) Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee were working closely with outside groups to block judicial appointments for the purpose of ethnic bigotry and unethical manipulation of court proceedings. In Sen. Durbin's case,the memo advised that Miguel Estrada be blocked as he is "especially dangerous because he is Latino." In Sen. Kennedy's case, the memo advised to stall Judge Gibbons appointment so she couldn't get on the bench in time to decide the pending Michigan affirmative action case. The memo questioned "the propriety" of such tactics, but nonetheless advised it. She was confirmed just two months after the landmark case in question.

By the time I finished reading the Weekly Standard article about the ties between Saddam and al Qaeda everyone else had it, but on reflection I haven't seen anything about it in the Toronto news (although that means little.) (The link to the Weekly Standard article is here.)

What liberal bias in the media? By the way, Roger L. Simon and his commenters have a good discussion about the leak on Saddam/al Qaeda, Newsweek's response, and the Weekly Standard's response to Newsweek.

Posted by Debbye at 06:07 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2003

Press lost public trust in USA

Oct. 17 - Support for the US action in Iraq is still supported by a majority of Americans, and although the negative press coverage has harmed perceptions as to the current situation in Iraq, the press itself has lost the confidence of Americans according to this poll conducted October 14-15 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation.

Currently, 58 percent of Americans think going to war with Iraq was the right thing for the United States to do, down from 62 percent in September and 65 percent in July. Almost four in 10 (39 percent) feel strongly that taking military action was the right thing to do and 19 percent feel it was somewhat right. About a third think going to war was the wrong thing to do (23 percent strongly and 12 percent somewhat).

A solid majority believes progress has been made toward restoring security and government services in Iraq. About one in five Americans (19 percent) think "a lot" of progress has been made, while 44 percent say there has been some progress, "but not a lot." Twenty-one percent say "a little" progress has been made, and nine percent say "no progress at all."

There are large party differences on this issue, with fully 82 percent of Republicans saying they think a lot or some progress has been made, compared to 49 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independents.

"An America that was united after 9/11 is clearly returning to the intensely partisan split that was apparent in 2000," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "Even Vietnam, which tore the country apart, was somewhat bipartisan on both the pro- and anti-war sides, since it was begun by Democrats and continued by Republicans. The Iraq effort is rapidly becoming a Democrats versus Republicans issue, which will make it far more difficult for the administration."

And more difficult for the Iraqis.
Earlier this year, when major combat was still underway in Iraq, over half of Americans approved of the way newspapers and television channels were reporting on the war. Today, nearly half disapprove (46 percent) of the way news outlets have been reporting on U.S. military operations in Iraq. Again, there are predictable partisan differences. Democrats are more likely to approve of the news coverage of Iraq, but a majority of Republicans disapprove.

In addition, three times as many Americans think news reports about Iraq are more likely to focus on the negative and leave out the positive (60 percent), than to focus largely on the positive things happening in Iraq (19 percent). Earlier this week President Bush gave several interviews to local broadcast stations, in part, because he believes the positive things happening in Iraq are not getting attention in the mainstream press. (Emphasis added)

(Via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2003

Gallop Poll on UN, French on Libya

Sept. 10 -- According to a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, U.S. view of U.N. largely negative. Of course, the only thing the UN will be interested in is this:

The dissatisfaction has not led most Americans to want to cut congressional support for the institution: 37% said U.N. funding should be decreased, 50% said it should stay the same and 11% said it should be increased.
But they might want to remember that figure was obtained after the Canal Hotel attack (which would have stimulated sympathy and even hopes that the UN might begin to realize that they too are hated) but before State Secy. Powell sought a new UN resolution and the President's address Sunday evening which restated the challenge to the UN to become more relevant.

There is a solution: the US can refuse to pay for the renovations of the UN building, have NYC condemn the building, and evict the UN.

In other news at the UN front, France is still threatening to veto a proposal to life sanctions on Libya unless they get more money. They are unwilling to accept the consequences of accepting a separate agreement with Libya.

Before the delay was announced, Britain had dared the French to do their worst by promising to put the resolution to a vote. A French veto would scupper a carefully worked out £1.7 billion compensation package for the relatives of 270 people, including 55 Britons, who died when Libyan agents bombed Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988.

The stalemate risked escalating into one of the most damaging disputes to plague UN diplomacy in months.

Angry relatives of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing later denounced France's tactics, complaining after a meeting with Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, the French ambassador, that they were being exploited as "hostages".

"We are being used by the French as a lever to extort more money out of the Libyans," said Bob Monetti, who lost his 20-year-old son, Rick, on the Pan Am flight.

There is probably a lofty, transnationalist principle involved, but the French haven't articulated it yet. Or maybe it's just greed.

(USA Today article via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

August 31, 2003

Trying to sort stuff out

Aug. 31 -- I'm going to do a somewhat lengthy preface before I get to the meat of this post, so please just bear with me because I could easily be misunderstood in this matter and don't want to be.

Even as events were unfolding on Sept. 11, I tried to hold onto my reason against paranoid thoughts and counselled myself to breathe deeply and think. I know that both irrational fears and intense fury can turn us into lynch mobs to the point that we later reflect and ask ourselves My God, what have we done.

But, even knowing all this, I confronted a steel within myelf that day which has never left me: I am willing to kill to protect my land and my values. I know how to aim, load and fire. On Sept. 10, I would have hesitated to pull the trigger. On Sept. 12, I would have fired several times.

Never, never underestimate the intense debt we owe to the passengers and crew of Flight 93. I may die, but I'm taking you bastards with me before you can murder my people.

Yeah, I scare me. My countrymen scare me. I know us; I know that even in the most timid there is a fire that has never been quite extinguished and try as they might, the transnationalists have never succeeded in making us forget that we're here in America because we didn't want to stay there wherever there was, and we don't want to go back there. It's a simple corollary from that to why would I listen to those fools in Europe now when I already ran as fast as I could away from them?

When I've confided all that to Canadian friends, many look patronizingly comforting and think she'll get over it. Well, I haven't. I won't. Until Canada is attacked, no one here can state with absolute confidence what they'll do and think. Somehow, however, I believe that whatever the Feds say, most Canadians will revolt at being told to Pay Tribute and Move On.

Yesterday, The Canadian posted "Islam Uber Allies" which linked to this article on Front Page Magazine and I'll admit that, although I wasn't entirely dismissive, I was a bit skeptical because I wanted to be. It violates my world view, you see, because I believe that people emigrate to a new country because they wish to be remade, not because they wish to remake their new homes.

I guess it goes without saying that had I read something like this two years ago I would have rolled my eyes, muttered some liberal stuff, and clicked onward to other web sites.

Had I read this article one year and eleven months ago I would have bookmarked it for future reference but retained some skepticism and filed it under future considerations.

On the one hand we have the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Canadian Muslim Congress and their shrill, racist-baiting responses whenever anyone is detained. On the other we have Muslim residents of Dearborn Michigan who took to the streets to celebrate the fall of Baghdad, and the Muslim community in Rochester, NY, who contacted the FBI because of some odd behaviour it had noticed among those who were ultimately convicted.

I believe in the depth of my heart that many of the breakthroughs we've had in tracking down and rounding up those in terrorist cells have come from tips from the Muslim communities in North America and Europe. I can't prove it; it's just something I chose to believe.

Today I don't know what to think about things like the article in Front Page Magazine, but I do know that I can't stop trying to work this out and trying to find a new world view that accomodates both my basic confidence in my fellow humans and my willingness to defend those things which I cherish.

There is in this, as in all things, a balance, and it is finding the balance that is our biggest challenge and could be our greatest triumph.

I say all that as a preface to the following link to Australian news Pacific plot in book of terror that contains some rather frightening aspects of Jemaah Islamiya, the group accused of bombing Christian churches in 2000, the Bali bombings of Oct. 2002, and the recent bombings in Jakarta.

It's difficult to read, as was the Front Page Magazine article, because it violates some truths we've always held dear. What is striking, though, is that Australia is confronting many of the same problems as Canada in that they embrace values of inclusion and diversity yet have drawn a line in the sand against terrorism, and I suspect a lot of Australians are reading this article (or, did, given the time difference) with much the same discomfort level as I.

TERRORIST group Jemaah Islamiyah has drawn up plans for a suicide bombing campaign designed to transform Asia and the Pacific region into Islamic provinces.

The scheme is revealed in a 40-page manifesto - the Pupji book or General Guide to the Struggle of JI - which also shows that Jemaah Islamiyah is a well-formed organisation with a constitution, rules of operation, and leadership structure.

The book refers to "love of Jihad in the path of God and love of dying as a martyr" as one of the group's 10 guiding principles.

It shows that JI is not just a loose amalgamation of extremists which can be paralysed by the arrests of senior figures.

Events since the Bali bombing also demonstrate that the group has moved to embrace suicide bombings as a preferred method of achieving its aims.

Until Bali, JI had not adopted suicide bombings, despite its constitution approving them.

It has now carried out at least two, including the bombing of the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta.

The book was secretly used in the trials of the Bali bombers to draw out evidence about the organisation behind the murders of 202 people, including 89 Australians.

But prosecutors did not reveal that the source of their apparent insights into JI came directly from the organisation's own manifesto.

The Pupji book refers to the education and training of members in physical fitness and weapons.

Written in a combination of Bahasa Indonesian and Arabic, the book was discovered by police during a raid on a Solo home in central Java last December.

In that raid, men now known as the "Solo Group" were arrested for helping to shelter alleged JI leader and accused Bali bombing controller, Mukhlas.

Prosecutors have used contents from the book to help them question Mukhlas in his ongoing trial.

Information from the book also was used at the Jakarta trial of alleged JI spiritual leader, Abu Bakar Bashir.

A verdict in Bashir's treason trial will be handed down tomorrow.

High-ranking JI members have told the court they have read the Pupji which is said to have been written by co-founder of JI, the late Abdullah Sungkar.

The book includes flowcharts of the JI hierarchal structure and illustrates how the organisation works. It does not include names of any members.

It reveals the group is led by an amir or supreme leader.

The amir appoints leadership councils, the advisory council, edict council and legal council. Under them are regional groups known as Mantiqi.

All members must swear a compulsory oath of loyalty to the amir.

The Pupji says funding for JI comes from contributions, donations and acceptable sources.

While the book does not refer specifically to bombing operations or violent campaigns to kill westerners, oblique reference is made in the section on "strength development operations".

This talks about combat operations in which education and training is imperative in subjects such as physical fitness and weapons training, tactical thinking, strategic thinking, leadership and vision.

(I've copied the entire text because I know that the required Java console can be a pain for loading pages.)

The basic reason, I think, that this is hard to take seriously is because we became much too dismissive during the Cold War about allegations of communist plots and spies. It was all propaganda, you know, forgetting that the Soviet and Chinese blocs were also spinning propaganda.

Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist, and there's been too many conspiracy theories about the assassination of JFK for anyone to be certain anymore about his guilt or innocence.

Sen. Joe McCarthy had nothing to do with the House of Un-American Activities because duh, it was a House committee and he was a Senator. When Ann Coulter pointed that out, I gasped in humiliation that I'd missed so obvious a breakdown in logic.

Two things we did learn after the fall of the Soviet Union is that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were guilty, and Alger Hiss was a communist who maintained relations with the USSR.

I was a useful idiot in the 60's and 70's.

You can look it up.

Posted by Debbye at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2003

Blame Game for Black-Out

Aug. 16 -- The Daily Telegraph (UK) nails political leaders on both sides of the border with pinpoint accuracy: It's all your fault, Canada and US tell each other.

Canadians' long-standing love-hate relationship with their neighbour has soured recently amid Canadian opposition to the war in Iraq.

President George W Bush and Mr