Sunday, November 30, 2003

Americans need more cultural sensitivity in Iraq

I just saw the disgraceful pictures of those goons in Iraq standing on the bodies of Spanish soldiers. Smiling and posing for the cameras, chanting Ba'athist slogans, obviously feeling quite content that they can do so with impunity.

It didn't have to be like this. It doesn't have to be like this.

But let's backtrack. Every regime change in Iraq in the past 60 years was followed by public executions of prominent members of the old regime, and anyone who openly supported them. The executions were usually pretty grisly, including a "sahel", that is, dragging their bodies through town behind at the end of a rope behind a pickup truck.

You'll recall that that's exactly what the crowd did with the head of Saddam's statue the day it was toppled in Baghdad.

But since then crowds have been allowed to gather in Falluja and chant Ba'athist slogans, or pose for the cameras in front of a burning Humvee, or in this case with their feet on Spanish soldiers. Disgusting.

These guys need to take a few laps around town on the end of a rope behind a Humvee. Obviously, Americans can't do that, but there are plenty of Iraqi volunteers who will do the deed, if they were only given the chance.

The problem is whatever successes the Americans are having against the Ba'athists, and I'm sure there are many, they aren't public. They round up insurgents but nothing visible happens. Justice needs to be done, and be seen to be done. The need to be defeated, AND humiliated to discourage the others.

After the Nazi conquest, 200,000 Nazis were rounded up and put in internment camps. 800 were executed. France executed 4000 Nazi collaborators. No one in Germany was stupid enough to publicly call for resistance against the occupiers, knowing they would be immediately dealt with.

Enough of this kid gloves treatment, it's only encouraging them. Put the Iraqi police in charge and let them deal with it.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

I guess this means Copps is out of cabinet

The Toronto Star, usually the official voice of il-Liberal orthodoxy runs a smear article on Heritage Minister Sheila Copps.

It's also a great illustration of multiculteralism in action.

Sheila tries to sign up members by barging in during prayers at a local mosque. Finds it's already been captured by leadership opponent Paul Martin. Then:
They said that after Copps was told by directors of the Hamilton Muslim Association she had to wait until prayers were over, she made her way to the parking lot and began talking about rival leadership candidate Paul Martin's pro-American policies, how he had promised jobs to select Muslim supporters, and about the financial support Martin's campaign was receiving from Toronto financier Gerald Schwartz and the late Izzy Asper, chair of CanWest Global Communications.

Cool. Sign up one member of the rainbow coalition by bashing the other as insufficiently anti-American and infested with Joooooos. Nothing new here. Just another day at the office in multicultural Trudeaupia.
Ontario Premier repeals the laws of Supply and Demand

I live in Quebec but I frequently drive in Ontario. I feel safer driving there these days, knowing that there must be fewer accidents happening. How do I know that? Ontario’s new Emperor has decreed that insurance premiums will be lower.

There’s no magic to pricing insurance premiums:
Premium = expected claims + administration costs – expected investment returns

Since he hasn’t issued high interest bonds especially for the insurance industry, one has to conclude that he has decreed that there will be fewer, less severe accidents in Ontario during his reign. Why he thinks this is within his power is a mystery, but I guess since the public wills it he feels the need to decree it so people will like him. Well, good luck to him.

The 1990s were good years for the insurance industry. Given the extraordinarily high investment returns of the decade, insurance companies could be loose with paying claims. That party ended in the year 2000, and now they have to ensure premiums cover costs, hence the rising rates over the last three years.

The Ontario premier may think he can lower rates, but really the laws of supply and demand have not been repealed. This new economic reality will appear in other ways. Companies will withdraw from risky markets. They will issue new conditions to bring the claims down to meet the lower rates. They will drop coverage at the slightest hint of risk, and if necessary lie about the reasons for doing so. So people unhappy with their rates today will find themselves unable to buy insurance at any price tomorrow. Such is life when you entrust those who claim to be able to repeal the laws of reality.

More on Spencer

Lots of hyperventilating hysteria on the discovery that an Alliance MP has not been properly reeducated into a modern Trudeaupian. No need to respond really as the hysteria is all as feigned. Sort of like a high society Victorian madame feinting at a little profanity. She’s not really shocked, she just feels a need to act it to demonstrate her place in society.

A typical reaction is PC Leader Peter Mackay: “I'm shocked, frankly, that a person would have those thoughts, let alone express them in such a fashion.”

For someone who has ambitions to be Prime Minister you really ought to get out more. If you’re actually shocked you’ve led far too sheltered a life to be a party leader. As prime minister many of your subjects will be devout Muslims, Sikhs, Orthodox Jews, Mennonites, and recent immigrants from countries where homosexuals are subject to barbaric punishment. But you and especially the liberal media know all that. If the media were curious all they would have to do is wander around the rainbow coalition at an il-Liberal Party gathering and ask the members what they think about gay marriage and they’ll get plenty of responses more extreme than Spencer’s. Everyone knows their rainbow coalition has members that need to restrain themselves from stoning each other to death. Their coalition contains Jews and Arabs, Islamists and homosexual activists, Tamil Tiger supporters and refugees who fled their bombs, businessmen from resource industries and environmental activists. Anyone so inclined could probe a little and get a good quote to feign outrage at. But no one bothers. The tolerance police don’t police the chosen minorities of the rainbow coalition. A little intolerance from the high priests of Diversity and Tolerance? Nothing to see here folks, move along.

No one is actually surprised that a Southern Baptist might be opposed to homosexuality. That is the mainstream doctrine of the overwhelming majority of Christianity in the world today. That’s not really the point. The faux outrage is just to shut up anyone else inclined to challenge the il-Liberal orthodoxy.

Personally, I’d be inclined to let him talk and debunk his bizarre conspiracy theories in open debate. That would also have the benefit of anyone else in the public sharing such ideas seeing them debunked. And if he persisted and introduced a motion to criminalize homosexuality let’s see it defeated something like 298-3. Such is the way adults conduct themselves in a healthy democracy.

Canadians today are either not adults, or they don’t trust themselves with democratic self-government. The high priests of Diversity and Tolerance set the bounds of debate.

And ruthlessly crush any dissidence. By shouting down the offenders if possible, by resorting to hate crime laws if necessary.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Just one thing missing - Iraqis

Full kudos for Bush dropping in to visit the troops in Baghdad. Just one thing would have made it perfect - Iraqi representatives.

Too bad Bremer didn't bring the current president of the Iraq Governing Council for a joint appearance after the visit with the troops. Supporting and visiting the troops - awesome.

Supporting the Iraqis, who are also subject to attacks - even better.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Tolerance in Trudeaupia

In 1969 Trudeau repealed that part of the criminal law that made homosexuality legal, with his famous phrase "the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation". Now that was one part of the Trudeaupian project I agreed with. But the trouble with Trudeaupia is that anyone who disagrees is denounced as a heretic. Trudeaupia is the official state religion and anyone who disagrees is subject to a robust public denunciation, starting with the state broadcaster.

Now most religions in the world consider homosexuality to be a sin, and it is considered a crime in many, if not most, of the countries in the world today.

Alliance MP Larry Spencer says he thinks Trudeau's decision to repeal the law against homosexuality was a mistake, and if there were a vote today, he would vote to make it illegal. That's not really astounding, as he is a Southern Baptist and a former pastor. Many priests, rabbis, imams and other religious folks no doubt agree, although there are fewer and fewer who dare to say so publicly. That's the thing with tolerance, Trudeaupian-style. Only the official state religion of tolerance is tolerated, not any other religions. There's to be no dissent, as this poor member of parliament is about to find out. He'll be lucky if he doesn't get charged under the hate crime laws.

Now I happen to disagree with this fellow. But a state that cannot deal with religious and minority views in reasoned debate is a state headed for trouble.

Cat Fight!!

Almost a columnist flame war going on kicked off by this rant by Paul Wells, where he heaps scorn on Canada’s media for ignoring policy and covering politics as either a horse race or soap opera.

National Post columnist Colby Cosh bravely takes up the defense, and fires a few verbal shots back. I haven’t seen this sort of skirmish in Canada in a long time.

Personally, I think Wells has a point but greatly overreaches. The parliamentary press gallery are certainly a navel-gazing bunch, giving immense coverage to speculation of no significance. Just think of all the ink spilled on speculating on the exact date of Chretien’s retirement, or the ritual navel-gazing on the date of an election call. The public doesn’t care whether Chretien retires December 12th,January 8th, or February 1st. Once Martin becomes PM they will switch to months of intense speculation on the date of the election call, totally oblivious to the fact that the public is indifferent. We’ll vote when they call it.

But outside of the Ottawa press gallery there’s a lively bunch of columnists that are not so wrapped up in the navel-gazing, especially in the National Post. I wonder if Paul Wells even reads the Financial Post sections, where little else is covered. Tax policy, Kyoto, public versus private insurance, biotech regulations and all the other policy debates you care to mention have been covered in depth in their pages.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

We’re from the government, we’re here to protect you

I noticed this item a couple of days ago. Nothing remarkable about it, just an order to recall a curried fruit chutney which “may contain a non-permitted colour”. Not “known to be hazardous”, just “may contain” a food colouring permitted by other countries but not Canada. There are dozens of orders like this, where they order private companies to recall products on the flimsiest of reasons, frequently banned on the basis of ridiculous junk science to boot. But when it’s other people’s money the decision is easy. Better safe than sorry, the precautionary principle and all that.

While Canadian soldiers can feel confident they won’t be getting any curried fruit chutney with non-permitted colour in their rations, the Canadian government is knowingly supplying them with defective hand grenades. It’s a minor defect, really. Just a little problem with the fuse that means they may “detonate inadvertently”, like, before you have a chance to throw it.

But, you see, to fix the lot would cost $400k, so they’ll have to do. ‘Cause if we spent the $400K on providing our boys with grenades that don’t “inadvertently detonate”, we’d have to cut $400K in spending somewhere else, like those bureaucrats protecting us from the hazards of fruit chutney with non-permitted colour.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Heritage Department

If one wanted to know a little something about Canada’s heritage one might consider going to the official Canadian government site. But that would be a waste of time, as they don’t talk about Canada’s heritage at Heritage Canada, they attempt to rewrite it. In fact, Canada’s real heritage would be to not have a Heritage department. Few Canadians now know it, but Canada’s real heritage (in pre-Trudeaupian times) is to have a small government that wouldn’t be involved in most of the drivel, junkets and multicult cant Heritage Canada produces. For the century before 1970 Canada had a smaller, less intrusive government than the US. The Liberal government of Sir Wilfred Laurier was a true classical liberal government – low taxes, free trade, individual freedom and responsibility. Quite in contrast to the high taxes, social engineering (prohibition) and protectionist trade practices of the United States in those days.

Liberal Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier:
“the role of government [is] [...] not to force action in any one direction but to remove barriers to man's own efforts to undertake personal and social improvement [...] Man must be free to seek his own improvement and be responsible for his own destiny”

Gawd, how the il-Liberal party of today would choke on those words. I wonder what Laurier would think of the government creating a massive class of people dependent on government largesse, as in Canada today? He could check out a lesbian porn film like Bubbles Galore and discover it was funded by a government grant. Or find the National Citizen’s Coalition in criminal court for advertising during an election. Sir Wilfred Laurier would be astounded indeed to see what his party has become.

There was an interesting article in Quebecois Libre that reminded its readers of this fact. I wonder if they live off government grants, though?

Maintaining Radio Silence

The CBC pounced all over the leaked Rumsfeld memo that referred to the “long, hard, slog” and asked pointed questions about the progress of the war to date. And they gave plenty of coverage to polls that showed Americans believed Saddam had links to Al Qaeda in their ongoing attempt to portray Americans as ill-informed ignorant fools.

So one would think that the Weekly Standard story by Stephen Hayes would be worthy of some comment. But the leaked Douglas Feith memo has passed without mention at either the CBC or Toronto Star (try searching their sites). They haven’t even mentioned it to attempt to ridicule or disprove any of the claimed contacts between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

After sneering for so long that the secular Saddam would never deal with the Islamist Bin Laden you’d think they would at least find someone who would take a shot at discrediting the claims. It appears they think they can just ignore it and it will pass without notice.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Influence or Power?

An article in the Washington Post outlines how the Republicans have overseen the biggest growth in government in decades. And not just in Defense and Homeland Security, which one might understand if not agree with. The growth in pure, unadulterated pork and welfare entitlements is staggering. The full article is here.

So what was the point? The Republicans railed against the growth of the welfare state for decades, and the instant they get simultaneous control of the House, the Senate and the Presidency they go on a spending binge on everything they are supposedly against? What was it all about?

As the Canadian conservative parties merge it is worth asking them what their real objective is. Is it to take their turn running the il-Liberal state? Or will they be committed to real reform? After decades watching the growth of regional development pork, absurdly ineffective HRDC grants and Technology Partnerships, not to mention bureaucratic boondoggles like the gun registry, I hope a Conservative government would actually reign in these abuses. But after watching the Republicans in action we have good reason to be skeptical.

Outsourcing Compassion

David Warren on conscience:
"Do you have a conscience?" it asks, and then lists subjects that only require an opinion, a point of view. The meaning of this can only be, that if you have the right opinions on all these subjects, your conscience is clear.

This is a common thread here in Trudeaupia (née Canada). Having handed over responsibility for compassion to the state it is no longer necessary to be individually compassionate or responsible. We’ve seen where this road leads in the extreme case in France this past summer. Demonstrating how compassionate they are through opinions rather than actions, they opined that the state ought to care for the elderly. Being environmentally conscious, energy out to be heavily taxed making air conditioning for most economically impossible. Then, with a clear conscience they left their elderly parents to bake in poorly ventilated apartments while they enjoyed themselves sunbathing topless on the beach. Politically compassionate, individually irresponsible. How convenient.

One can see this pattern throughout the issues of the day. Worried about the homeless? One option would be to start a foundation and build houses for the homeless, rented out at reasonable rates. But that would take work, money and commitment. Much easier to just say it’s the responsibility of the state to solve the problem, and opine that the program for the homeless is “underfunded”. Indeed, much of the CBC programming is centred on this theme. Identify an issue, almost any issue will do. Then air an interview where all agree the whole problem is government underfunding. Little or no thought is given to the possibility that the problem may be better addressed outside of government.

They think they are demonstrating how compassionate and conscientious they are through such enlightened opinions. Lazy or hypocritical are the words I’d use.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Beyond Parody

The CBC usually tries hard to live up to its nickname as the Communist Broadcasting Corporation. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union it's been a little tougher, though. They've responded by being the mouthpiece for environmental and social activists.

But today they put on a special effort on CBC Radio (Pravda Canuckistan). A fawning special interest story on organic farming in Cuba.

It does make them tough to parody.

School Choice 

One evening a little while ago I got a telemarketing call. So what, I can hear you saying. Next you're going to tell me about receiving spam. I usually just hang up on telemarketers, but bear with me for a minute. This was a call from my local public secondary school trying to drum up business. Seeing as my oldest son will be enrolling in secondary school next year they'd like me to come to an open house this weekend to demonstrate the virtues of their program. They want to show off their fine facilities, have me meet a few teachers and talk to some students. The students will show off some of the projects they've been working on and will talk about what a wonderful learning environment the school has to offer.

Well. Now why would they be so anxious to convince me about the virtues of their school? I would guess most people in North America don't receive calls like that.

The reason they have this open house is because this is the season the private schools have theirs. You see, in Quebec private schools receive partial public funding so that the tuition for private schools is well within the reach of the middle class. In my immediate area I have a choice of four private schools with tuition costing about $3000 Canadian (~$2000 US) per year. Yes, here in the most unionized, socialist, dirigiste jurisdiction in North America there is a more or less workable school choice system. True, it's not a full fledged voucher program, and the private school tuition is certainly not affordable for everyone. If you're looking for a small government, free enterprise inspiration Quebec is the last place one would normally look, but Quebec is actually an island of educational choice.

The most interesting effect this has is on the public schools themselves. They make an effort to attract and retain students by immitating their private competitors. There's nothing a bureaucrat hates more than having his budget cut, and his budget depends on per-student funding. So if recruiting and retaining students is what's required to protect the budget then that's what they'll do, by emulating the private schools if necessary. Starting with a telemarketing call to the prospective parents and holding an open house, but it doesn't end there. They also react to the competition by offering a suite of enriched and customized programs. Is your son a member of a competitive hockey team or other elite sporting program that cuts into studying time? They have a Sports Etudes program that offers compressed morning classes so the student can train in the afternoon. And a similar program for music and the arts. And an International program that emphasizes academic and language studies. And another focussing on Informatics.

Strangely enough, they don't offer a program like those in neighbouring Ontario. You know, nearly annual stikes, suspension of extracurricular activities, students warehoused in portabe classrooms and the rest of the horror show offered by their surly teachers.

To listen to some teachers' unions, you'd think people would be clamouring for that type of service if given the choice. (Isn't that what they mean by a commitment to public education? No?!?) Don't laugh, in east Berlin they've opened up cafes offering rude service, bad food and lousy ambience, just like in the (good?) old communist days. And there's even a theme park complete with threatening guard dogs and intimidating Stasi. So I suppose with a full school choice program some teachers could get together and offer a similar lousy, unresponsive school that suspends all athletics and goes on strike three months of every year. It might even be a hit with other union members and the chardonnay socialists around.

But there's no evidence of that here in Quebec. They seem to be trying to prove they're quite the opposite. In fact, it seems the schools in Quebec are about the only thing not disrupted by regular strikes.

And that open house? I was quite impressed, in fact. I attended all the open houses for the private schools and went to visit my public school last. And you know what? It is better maintained and better equipped than at least one of the private schools.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

So the Baghdad blogger Salam writes a sneering letter to the Guardian:

Georgie, I am kind of worried that things are going a bit bad in Iraq and you don't seem to care that much.

Uh-huh. It seems to me "Georgie" cares more than you ever have, Salam. You put that nice "Support Democracy in Iraq" logo on your blog but what are you doing to support democracy now? Bush is risking the lives of more than 100,000 troops to build the foundation for democracy in your country. And what are you doing? Hanging out with sneering Guardianistas in London and dissing the effort.

If you wanted to actually support democracy you might pick a rifle and guard a target under threat of a car bombing. Or better yet, you could put your skills to work in Iraq. The Americans would welcome all the help they can get in places like Fallujah. They can't discreetly hang out in the mosques or cafes and pick up information on who's plotting the latest attack. But you could. After doing something useful you'd have a great story to put in your next column in the Guardian.

That's what I'd like to see. "How I stopped whining and blaming all the problems in Iraq on others and started doing something about them."
This is a blog from Gatineau, Quebec with live, subversive commentary aimed at undermining the complacent socialism of Canada today.

Alas, Canada has developed a reflexive anti-american attitude and reflexively turns to big-government solutions to every conceivable problem. We'll be attempting to undermine this with a little humour and sometimes ridicule.

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